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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 3 March 2013 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Endor Trilogy
John R. Garland
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

The Endor Trilogy is a fantasy saga of good against evil that readers of all ages will thoroughly enjoy. Endor is a kindly elder wizard whose greatest talents are wit, skillful manipulation of the elements, and a good heart committed to aiding those who need him most. His loyal friends TK the owl and BW the mouse aid him in his efforts to build a better life for local townsfolk, but the hostle people of Crindeland, led by the rapacious lord Gundermire, pose an ongoing threat! The first book, "Endor the Wizard" (9780557275564, $18.97), is set in the country of Greysmire, where Endor's keen mind is his greatest weapon against Gundermire's malevolent influence. "Endor's Adventures" (9781257065578, $20.49) continues Endor's journey to the country of Dame, which must prepare to defend itself against the might of Gundermire's armies; what Endor learns about the people and their head wizard could mean the difference between life and death for an entire nation. In "Endor: The Final Chapter" (9781105457371, $20.49), Endor must brave the cruelty of war to openly confront Lord Gundermire, in Gundermire's own castle guarded by terrifying dragons! The Endor Trilogy is a captivating, high fantasy page-turner, enthusiastically recommended especially for fans of the genre.

Pride & Prejudice With a Side of Grits
Jane Austen & Mary Calhoun Brown
Wentworth & Collins
9780615675831, $15.95,

Jane Austen's story of English gentry has relevance for more than eighteenth century England. "Pride & Prejudice With a Side of Grits" is a twist of the famed literary classic, setting the courtship in romance in the more familiar deep south and the strange courtship that follows. With plenty of humor and a definite dose of southern charm, "Pride & Prejudice With a Side of Grits" is a fine pick for anyone who wants a different sort of romance.

Southern Vapors
Lynn Garson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781475008487, $14.95,

No one has the beautiful and serene life growing up. "Southern Vapors" follows Lynn Garson who recalls her struggles with the drug demons that has plagued her life and shares her adventure and struggle upwards from her lowest lows, bringing a frank and to the point humor to it all. "Southern Vapors" is a must for memoir collections about coping with addiction.

Lost Bells Farm
Gabriel Hernandez Ramon
New Generation Publishing
9781909039599, $14.99,

To see the world is to see all of humanity. "Lost Bells Farm" is an autobiographical novel from Gabriel Hernandez Ramon who weaves a tale of world traveling from his own experiences over twenty years, and the harsh realities that come from learning and loving life, wandering the world, joining the French Foreign Legion, and much more. "Lost Bells Farm" is an intriguing exploration of life through world travel, much recommended.

Steps to Heaven
Olufemi Adeniji
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432797317, $17.95,

God's carries with us past this life and into the next. "Steps to Heaven" is a Christian driven read as evangelical Dr. Olufemi Adeniji offers his own faithful insight on the place of God in our lives and how we are to rise to his calling in our lives, else face hellfire for our ignorance of him. "Steps to Heaven" is worth considering for those who want to carry God's will more fiercely.

Faith and the Return of the Banjo
Hjordis Olson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477547687, $9.02 pbk. / $2.99 Kindle

In our search for contentment, we find many paths and struggles along the way. "Faith and the Return of the Banjo" is the story of author Hjordis Olson, who discusses her tattered life that was one struggle after another, as she learned much along the way before finding that bizarre unknown thing called happiness. "Faith and the Return of the Banjo" is a strong pick for memoir collections, not to be missed.

The Surgeon's Wife
William H. Coles
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456762551, $14.03,

Romance can blossom even where it would be better if it didn't. "The Surgeon's Wife" is a novel following the adulterous affair of Mike Boudreaux and his lust after a colleagues wife and the affair that spins out of control and may cost him his career and will face very real threats on the people around them, including lives that may be lost from the process. "The Surgeon's Wife" is an enticing romance, very much recommended reading.

Jean Catherine Vaughn
Balboa Press
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452549866, $12.99,

Life can deal us crushing blows, and coping with them can often be too much. "Afterglow" is a spiritual memoir from jean Catherine Vaughn who shares her struggles with two daughters who have Ataxia, the death of her youngest, and her other failures in life that lead her to become very taxed and struggle to find her life through. "Afterglow" is a tragic yet uplifting read of overcoming life's many cruelties.

The Infinity Zone
Paul Mayberry & Matthew J. Pallamary
Mystic Ink Publishing
9780615696911 $14.95

Award-winning author and shamanic explorer Matthew J. Pallamary and professional tennis coach Paul Mayberry present The Infinity Zone: A Transcendent Approach To Peak Performance, a metaphysical self-help guide to unleashing one's peak potential. Chapters explore how to apply simple movements to align about a grounded center point, draw upon balance and coordination, and create maximum potential. One analogy is that even though a person's arms can only move 30 or 40 mph, a whip wielded by the arms draws upon the Infinity Zone and its tip can move as fast as 600 mph. Mastering movements that connect to the Infinity Zone can promote greater awareness, emotional calm, and improve one's efforts for success in art, music, sports, and more. "The study of sacred geometry has its roots in the study of nature and mathematical principles at work there. Many natural forms can be related to geometry, such as the chambered nautilus, which grows at a constant rate. Its shell forms a logarithmic spiral to accommodate the growth without changing shape." A handful of black-and-white pictures, a wealth of websites for future reference, and more enhance this enlightening guide, also available in an enhanced e-book version with active links.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Traces of Kara
Melissa Foster
World Literary Press
9780989050807 $11.98 pbk. / $4.99 Kindle

Readers who appreciate dark thrillers with powerful female protagonists will welcome Melissa Foster's latest novel Traces of Kara, which begins with Kara's upcoming entry into adulthood with nursing school the vehicle for leaving home, an overprotective mother, and bad memories.

Unbeknownst to her a twin brother who lives only a short distance away has set his sights on the sister he can't forget - and Kara is thus abducted by a delusional sibling she didn't even know existed, sparking a chain of events that include dangerous repressed memories and the sinister intentions of a killer.

To peg Traces of Kara as just a 'mystery' would be to do it a grave injustice: this is psychological suspense at its best, weaving a tight-knit plot packed with twists and turns, unrelenting action, and tense moments that don't let up.

Roland's dark angst has lasted for decades and has reached a crescendo with the evolution of a dark plot designed to keep them together forever: "He closed his eyes, slowing his breathing to an even pace. He had to bide his time, or his plan would fall apart. It had taken him eight years to track down Marissa, and eight months to develop his plan - a plan to keep them from ever being separated again."

But Roland's act of kidnapping Kara and forcing her company with him begins a dark process that changes both of them. For Kara/Marissa, it opens a floodgate of dark memories that seem to make no sense. For Roland, Marissa's actions are confusing; from her intense fear of him to her lack of acknowledgment of her real name or her relationship to him.

Traces of Kara is as much about one young woman's journey to find herself as it is about reuniting past and present experience. It's also about an insane brother's struggle to reconcile his very different worlds and perceptions of how things should be.

The two become entwined in a circle of madness and a tortured past that leads back to the one woman who can help them understand: their mother. But Kara/Melissa's mother is heavily vested in keeping dark secrets buried - even if it means changing the lives of those still alive.

Add in a detective's desperate search for the truth and a trail of clues that lead him directly into the path of a psychopath hellbent on claiming his long-distant prize and you have a powerful set of interlocking psychological profiles that lead inexorably to a fiery, unpredictable revelation.

Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery
Carl Waldman
Alva Press
9780976410485 $10.99

Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery opens with a quote from Raymond Chandler, which sets the scene for a quasi-noir detective story centering upon Jake Soho, a thirty-year-old homeless man living on the streets after a failed career, broken relationships, and drug use. Bored with life, he indulges in his one passion - role-playing as a private detective - and finds his hobby of following people leads him straight into a real mystery.

His amateur sleuthing reveals a trio of young people and a French professor, and a riddle which brings him not only to other streetscapes, but to solutions which wind up saving the day in many unexpected ways.

As Jake Soho moves from hobby to passion, he discovers newfound purpose in life - and with it, the thrill of problem-solving detective work and dangerous encounters.

All the elements of a satisfying noir detective story are here, from smoky back streets and beautiful women to Sherlock Holmes-type puzzles filled with satisfying twists and turns of plot.

As Jake becomes more immersed in the persona and achievements of a gumshoe P.I., so also does he find his new purpose in life changes his worldview as well as the nature of the streetscapes he inhabits. At first "the goal is invisibility" and observation alone, but as his involvements deepen and the complexity of mysteries evolves, Jake finds his own goals are changing.

Streetscape is steeped in the atmosphere of Jake's environment: one of its strengths is the ability to create such detail that readers feel they 'are there': "LaGuardia became West Broadway on the other side of Houston Street. In Soho, a neighborhood named for being "south of Houston," the first woman Jake chose to follow - because of a femme fatale forties hat - led him to a clothing boutique....Jake began to feel like he was again shopping with Jillian on the Upper East Side, following her to one store after another, trying to give a damn about fashion and fighting back the growing pressure to be so trapped."

It's the blend of emotional feel and street atmosphere that succeeds in duplicating the smoky, seedy underworld of the noir detective story genre, and that feel enables readers to follow Jake in his journey into his new profession.

One grows to relate to Jake's situation through a series of insights into not only how he became homeless, but his perceptions of his new life: "The bench where he now sat felt hard and cruel. What had he been thinking? His homelessness crashed back down on him with a vengeance. Purpose? Following people around like he was onto something important?"

Jake's journey follows a spiral down to the streets and then bounces back up again with the evolution of his unexpected new job. From New York to Montreal, New Jersey to Florida, Jake moves from being disconnected from relationships and life to a series of close involvements that hold tangled webs and puzzles to solve.

On the road trip of his life, Jake stumbles on a series of clues, from a slashed tire in New York City to strange confrontations, broken windows, and sudden unexplained departures and follows each clue to its logical conclusion - only to emerge with yet more puzzles and roads to nowhere.

Eventually his long journey will come to an end - and just as certainly it promises changes for Jake, those he follows, and the criminal elements involved.

Any reader interested in a multi-faceted noir detective story with more characterization and depth than most will find Streetscape a compelling read, filled with the satisfyingly unexpected to its final pages.

Total Secession
Adam Connell
Adam Connell, Publisher
9780985485528 $3.99

Grant and Litz are prisoners serving long sentences in a Florida federal prison when government breakdowns result in all 52 states becoming independent nations - and some prisoners are being released early as a result.

Both have homes in the Northeast - and both face immense obstacles in reaching them through a newly fragmented nation. Even worse, Grant's intention to return to his family and make amends for his imprisonment is complicated by relatives who want to track him down and kill him.

Aside from the familiar story line revolving around a disintegrating America and a journey through it, Connell's descriptive writing opens with a bang of imagery and continues to pack a strong punch throughout: "When the new skinhead came onto the Yard he walked with a rocking gait like he was made of Roman candles, eager for that first spark to ignite him, show this prison what he was capable of."

Total Secession is a dialogue-driven book packed with strong characters, lots of description, and a heady attention to local lingo and dialect reflected in speech; the ultimate result providing a realistic account of human condition. Be forewarned: there's a lot of cursing, a lot of violent battles, and lots of action within this dialogue structure. After all - it's about prisoners on the run.
That said, the action is swift, gripping, and fueled by realistic life encounters throughout; all cemented by strong protagonists struggling to survive in a vastly changed America.

From encounters with talking hologram priests to federal prison culture, the protagonists interact with each other on realistic levels that will keep readers engrossed: "Yes you do. Come to us first, when you was all white, then there was no fight. Then you coulda gone to the others, fine by me. Now you're inked tellin all the Yard with your skin that you're black, and Hispanic to boot. You've got a fight, yes."

Slowly the story of Grant's life and misdeed emerge against the backdrop of his present-day struggles and changed world - and just as slowly the different cultures of his prison environment and a new America founded on similar hotbeds of confrontation and disintegration merge to create a very different life than he had imagined for his future outside of prison.
Yet another hallmark of the good writing in Total Secession is the totally unpredictable avenues each protagonist takes in his search for a new home in his changed world. The odysseys of Grant and Litz create a conjoined journey that also eventually mirrors the new life each seeks to recreate.

Fans of apocalyptic and crime fiction as well as those interested in a novel filled with powerful dialogue and prison culture will find Total Secession a riveting read.

Colorado Mandala
Brian Heffron
Little House Books

Colorado Mandala comes from poet Brian Heffron, who departs from his established genre with a novel of the seventies recommended for fans of literary fiction. The novel opens with an eloquent preface explaining the author's early attraction (at age twelve) to hitchhiking, an occupation that leads to journeys throughout America:

"This connection to highways, and journeys on them, may be because I was born the summer Congress passed the Federal Highway Act. I came in with the highways and have actually grown up on them; my New Jersey suburb had a major national highway route running right alongside its border. This meant that total geographic, continental freedom was only one bold, usually cold, thumb ride away."

Each new ride leads to encounters with strangers, new fables and legends, and different perceptions of love and connection which form foundations for the fictional experiences (based on fact) described in Colorado Mandala.

This book is all about shared connections, different visions of love, and a journey through America that vividly connects strangers and places.

Its dialogue and descriptions are exquisite, pairing a sense of place with a sense of character and linking the two with a fine mesh of intricate, accurate and sensual description: "A narrowing canyon: deep, long and slim, with fluted columns of red sandstone and brickish dented walls. Yellow cinquefoils blooming from niches bob in the noonday breeze. Within the canyon is a fast stream so filled with rocks and boulders that the water can hardly find a course.

The bank is clay and has retreated with the burden of the spring run-off. Along the southern shore is a roadbed; beside it a flock of brewer's blackbirds feed on ticks and water spiders. Their hollow white eyes snapto at the first rumble of an approaching vehicle."

Heffron's use of the first person is an added bonus, taking full advantage of the protagonist's observations of and experiences with his world and its various interactions, and will delight readers looking for a 'you are there' feel in their reading.

From canyons filled with climbing, nature, and water adventures to bars, drinking, and bad debts, Colorado Mandala moves swiftly and easily between very different atmospheres, carrying readers like a river through the eddies, undercurrents, and compelling mystery of human interactions.

There are cave explorations and cockfighting, there's debt and repayment, wilderness encounters, and the coming together of different peoples and personalities - all set against the backdrop of Colorado's natural wonders.

As the story evolves, readers become immersed in the journey, changing relationships between very different protagonists, and an evolving pressure of past upon present which eventually transforms lives and personalities alike:

"I never believed it possible, but now, in this high wilderness timber clear-cut, there was something I had never seen before in my former partner's eyes: he approached, I remembered another clearing, a clearing not in my life, but in his. A far away jungle clearing that he fought in a long, long time ago. A clearing he had never really left behind. And I thought, 'Here is my best friend. My finest, and most loyal friend, even if there are occasional fisticuffs, here he is out of his mind with a toxic dose of long-held, misplaced guilt: a killing in the past that so devastated him that he is willing to commit a murder in the present to cover it up. Madness.'"

Gripping writing, solid descriptions of friendships, relationships and changes, and the vivid setting of Colorado's wilderness byways: these facets make Colorado Mandala a tapestry of light, sound and color perfect for readers seeking evocative, compelling stories of journey and inspiration.

The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire
Emily Craven
9780987500625 $2.99

The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire is an engrossing work of young adult fiction that promises to reach beyond young adult audiences into the worlds of twenty-somethings, and provides a story narrated in modern snippets of detail from announcements and texts to Facebook posts. The story centers around one Madeline Cain, an Australian teen who has just snagged a coveted position halfway across the world in New York City, studying photography with her favorite photographer Jason I'Anson.

Her initial announcement to her world takes the form of an event posting complete with comments from her friends - and with this Madeline is off on a journey of adventure that turns into a series of hilarious, odd encounters in a very different culture.

It's a coming-of-age story couched in episodes of ridiculous and ironic comedy ranging from a spy photography episode to a talking, foul-mouthed umbrella.

Madeline's Australian friends stay involved - and connected - though every step of her journey and follow her every move and thought through a series of status updates, blogs, and responses to her dilemmas.

But her Australian friends won't be the only group to stay connected to her adventures via social media: The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire and its many characters are on Facebook themselves, where readers will find them interacting and posting with lives of their own, elevating the entire novel to a multimedia interactive experience and adding a three-dimensional quality to the story's progression.

From Farmville requests to slaps, pokes, and status changes, young adults will find this a contemporary story packed with satisfying insights told in progressive snippets of detail packed with irony and observation: "Just wanted to say, this wasn't how I imagined the start of my grand adventure; a prig for a housemate and some unidentifiable (possibly Mexican) amphibian called Duncan. My vision of studio loft apartments, spacious and bright come nowhere close to describing this disturbing student housing. I mean, I'm paying a fortune, I have to find a job, and all I get is some crummy, two bedroom apartment with paint peeling off the walls, a cupboard for a kitchen and a bathroom that makes a moss infested cave network look like a barren desert plain. Seriously, there is enough mould on those tiles to start producing our own penicillin tablets."

Madeline Cain's adventures involve, vicariously, her Australian friends and even her parents as instant communications from halfway around the world allow them to experience her thoughts and encounters. Through the course of her experiences we see her identity tag change, from Madeline the Fantastic to Madeline Cain of Golden Thoughts and finally to Madeline the Ashamed.

Add romances, betrayals, and blackmail to the mix and you have a rollicking set of encounters at home and abroad, all fueled by the spunky persona of a girl determined to live life to its fullest - and share her experiences with friends and loved ones.

Teens will find this format especially involving, as it mimics the staccato of information and communications ala Facebook and blog-style: something most teen novels don't begin to accurately touch.

The protagonist and experiences in The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire make for a vivid, involving read!

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

Incidental Daughter
Val Stasik
Armery & Hallquist Publishing
9780988584709 $11.99

Incidental Daughter is a humanistic novel with a touch of the paranormal, about a woman's deepest inner yearnings for the bond of family. Liz Michaels' mother is dead, and she has willfully chosen to have nothing to do with her father and his relatives - who are unaware of her existence. Her marriage ended in divorce, and she has given up on having children. Yet as she pours herself into her work, forces beyond her understanding are at play. She becomes a suspect in her ex-husband's death, and mysterious events conspire to make her rethink her lonely path. Can any woman truly be an island? Incidental Daughter encourages the reader ponder its themes at length, up to the emotional end.

Extra Lettuce
George L. Morgan
Buttonwood Center for Investor Education
c/o Concierge Marketing Publishing Services
13518 L Street, Omaha, NE 68137
9780988230514, $14.95,

Once you've reached financial stability, you want to stay stable. "Extra Lettuce: Manage Your 401k Now to Avoid Flipping Burgers Later" is a guide for good personal financial management from George L. Morgan who uses his own expertise in financial matters to advise readers to piece together a solid financial plan that will carry workers through the rest of their lives once they take up retirement. "Extra Lettuce" is a strongly recommended addition to personal finance collections, highly recommended.

Deconstructing The Food Pyramid
Frank J. Ferrin
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432794774, $19.95,

Excess is the root of so many problems. "Deconstructing the Food Pyramid" is a health reference from Frank J. Ferrin as discusses moderation and its overwhelming force in creating a healthy lifestyle, stating that taking the food pyramid as law can lead to many mistakes in promoting better health. With plenty of insight and wisdom to consider, "Deconstructing the Food Pyramid" is a strong addition to health and wellness collections.

All of Nun
Hyacinth Andersen
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480044920, $4.99,

Faith is a powerful motivator, but how long can it take us to our dreams when everything is so tempting. "All of Nun: Memoir of a Black Catholic Growing Up" is a life's memoir from Hyacinth Andersen who writes of growing up and being faced with many a challenge surrounding her and taking her from her childhood aspirations of faith. With humor and plenty to consider about life, living, faith, love, and everything else, "All of Nun" is not to be missed.

Mastering Your Destiny
Chuks Maduadi
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790424, $13.95,

The only one who will improve your life is you. "Mastering Your Destiny: Knowing What You Must Know to become the Best You Can Be" is an inspirational read from Chuks Maduadi who shares his own experiences in pushing himself forward to drive and inspire himself and how others can find their own inspirations in life as well. With strong faith backing, "Mastering Your Destiny" is a strong addition to motivational collections.

Tommy Twiceborn
Ameena Saeed
9780985186104, $9.99,

A cruel prank may enlighten further than we expect. "Tommy Twiceborn" is a novel following mischief gone wrong. Tommy pretends to be the reincarnation of a young boy who died twelve years ago in his old school, and the prank carries a strange weight as Tommy learns more about the kid he was pretending to be, and learns that there are those who find his prank has more to it than black comedy...and may be a lie come true. He gains new enemies, and rushes to avoid the fate of the kid he pretended to be. "Tommy Twiceborn" is an exciting novel with a unique concept, recommended.

To Die Among Strangers
Clair Calhoon
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477453414, $7.95

To defy orders in the American military is to take a very big risk. "To Die Among Strangers: The Naval Air War in Korea" is a military novel set in the Korean War from Korean war veteran Clair Calhoon who sharing his own experiences through fiction, using the story of Robert Bruce as a backdrop of defying orders and the challenges it may bring him. "To Die Among Strangers" is a strong pick for those who enjoy military drama, much recommended.

Mayan Interface
Wim Coleman & Pat Perrin
Madeira Press
9781935178231, $16.95,

Ancient rituals defiled can lead to strange happenings in the future. "Mayan Interface" is a novel following Lyrdia Rosenstrom as she tries to make sense of an archeological using new technology to try to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a ritual gone wrong thousands of years ago at the twilight of the Mayan civilization. Taking notes from Mayan culture, and exploring the concepts of the 2012 prophecies, "Mayan Interface" is an intriguing novel for metaphysical thriller fans.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Blood Shadows
Tessa Dawn
Ghost Pines Publishing
9781937223069 $14.84

Book Four in the Blood Curse series, Blood Shadows is a dark fantasy novel of vampires and damnation. Deanna Dubois is a talented and spirited artist, who is in tune with a horrifying paranormal phenomenon. Day and night, she sketches terrible scenes of an attractive man being tortured in hell by gleeful demons. Drawn to find out more about this lost soul, she ventures into a grim world of lust, suffering, torture, and worse. Could she trade her mortal soul for the chance of saving a stranger from an eternal nightmare? A diabolical nemesis raises the stakes in this exciting saga of fantastic intrigue and monstrous evil! Also recommended for fans of vampire stories are the previous Blood Curse novels, "Blood Destiny", "Blood Awakening", and "Blood Possession."

The Jewish Ninja
Allegra Coleman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468083354, $9.99,

When life changes, some change with it. "The Jewish Ninja" follows young Alexia as her surroundings change to a Jewish slum under her obsessive grandparents. The preteen uses what she learned as a Ming Karate champion to break free of their burden, and strikes out to make a difference in her small community by standing against those causing trouble. With a good deal of humor and plenty of humor tied to growing up, "The Jewish Ninja" is much recommended, not to be missed.

Of Light and Darkness
Shayne Leighton
Decadent Publishing Company
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781613330319, $14.99,

A monster in a human's world is often stuck in a persistent struggle. "Of Light and Darkness: The Vampire's Daughter" is a novel for from Shayne Leighton, telling the story of young Charlotte Ruzikova, raised in Prague, by those who she knows as family, but will soon learn that they hold darker secrets as creatures of lore, things wanted to be forgotten about by the world. An enticing adventure of knowing the world, with a vampire mythos that does not soften the threat of the undead, "Of Light and Darkness" is an excellent choice for dark fantasy collections.

The Sparks Fly Upward
Jon Correll
Inkwater Press
6750 SW Franklin Street, Suite A
Portland, OR 97223-2542
9781592998883, $16.95,

Leaving one's quiet home always opens you up to growing up quickly. "The Sparks Fly Upward" is a coming of age novel following young Nate Miller as he embarks on an awakening in the 1970s and his own rapid changing views of life, coping with the pitfalls around him that seek to shake him from his path. "The Sparks Fly Upward" is an enticing and wise read that won't disappoint.

For When the Veil Drops
Jonathan Sherwin
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478387800, $11.00,

There is a darkness in all of us, waiting to escape. "For When the Veil Drops" is a collection of short fiction focused on the blacker part of our souls, touching on how it fuels us and pushes us forward in ways we often refuse to understand. "For When The Veil Drops" is an enticing collection that speaks to readers on many levels on the depths of the soul, very much recommended reading.

The Cracked Slipper
Stephanie Alexander
JKS Communications
9781470156053, $9.99,

Every princess story doesn't end in happily ever after. "The Cracked Slipper" is a novel from Stephanie Alexander following Eleanor Brice as her storybook life begins to fall apart into a sea of treachery as her princely fiance can't keep himself under control and her own interests dwell onto his best friend. An unusual twist of the fairy tale romance that may speak to many in the modern era, "The Cracked Slipper" is a fun read that should prove hard to put down, highly recommended.

The Warrior's Silence
Ord Elliott
Privately Published
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
3748 Turman Loop #101
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
9780985874742, $12.95,

The field of battle has changed majorly over the past decade. "The Warrior's Silence" is a memoir from Ord Elliott as he tells the story of being a long time soldier with services in many conflicts, as he tries to explain the mental state of what war and battle can do to you, touching on the trauma and stress that can impact us so much. "The Warrior's Silence" is a strong addition to memoir collections focusing on combat veterans.

David Houston
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781300195511, $19.50,

Music tells stories itself, and often accompanies our thoughts for the world. "Fugue" is a novel designed to be experienced along with downloadable music tracks as a conceptual blend of writing and music as David Houston presents an international spy thriller with paranormal elements, as an agent races against time and the motives of religious fanatics in his own country, looking at a broken future with little hope to be fixed. "Fugue" is well worth considering for those who want fiction that tries something different.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Fifty Feisty Photos For Daily Encouragement
Ted Keller
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781477121610 $21.99

Fifty Feisty Photos For Daily Encouragement is a truly gorgeous, softcover collection of fifty colorful photos of the natural world, each paired with quotes from the Bible that convey an uplifting message connected to the vivid imagery. For example, one particularly striking picture of a gathering of six bald eagles has the caption "We are never alone in our lives... sharing both our blessings and our troubles helps everyone. Hebrews 13:16, Philippians 4:14". Images of bears, wolves, moose, bees, flowers, mountains, and more are pure inspiration to look at for their own sake, yet complemented by the spiritually uplifting wisdom. Fifty Feisty Photos For Daily Encouragement lives up to its title and is highly recommended, whether for personal browsing or as a giftbook.

Even Doctors Have Heart Attacks
Conrad J. Castellino
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780692016787, $12.95,

In spite of all your knowledge and training, the very thing you learn of and try to prevent can strike you. "Even Doctors Have Heart Attacks" is a memoir of Conrad J. Castellino as he shares his own story of facing a nasty heart attack despite being a physician of decades of experience, and how it affected him to be on the other side of the table when it comes to care. With a powerful message of overcoming the plagues of life, "Even Doctors Have Heart Attacks" is a must for memoir and health collections, recommended.

You'll Be Swell
Jim David
Trumbull Press
9781470116569, $14.95,

When we seek a break, sometimes we get anything but. "You'll Be Swell" is a novel following actress with derailed career Lucy Dixon as she tries to recharge her batteries with a cruise. But in the process, life as she knows it is tossed out the window as she learns so much from the unusual characters who surround her, and makes her question her life further. "You'll Be Swell" is a strong pick for contemporary fiction collections.

Lizard Key
Mark Marchetti
Lizard Key Books
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
3748 Turman Loop #101
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
9780615651248, $14.95,

The remote islands of the Caribbean bring forth many people looking to strike out on their own. "Lizard Key" is a thriller set amongst the titular island, telling of the paths of many curious people coming around this island, lost treasure, lost fortune, and many curious characters from all walks of life coming down at the meeting of it all. "Lizard Key" is an exciting adventure of a read, very much highly recommended.

Decoding the Solar System
Subhasis Sen
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456783532, $37.10,

How do we apply the lessons about the earth's deep history to other worlds? "Decoding the Solar System" is a collection of scientific writings from Subhasis Sen as he uses his training with geology to try to gain a more complete understanding of the planets of the solar system, understanding the elements of other planets and the physical forces that occur through them all. "Decoding the Solar System" is worth considering for those with a fascination of the galactic sciences, recommended.

From The Land of Disappointment
Selvyn M. Sewell
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478718642, $15.95,

You can't let disappointment control your life. "From the Land of Disappointment" is a motivational read from Selvyn M. Sewell as he advocates people on overcoming disappointment and finding the road to our destiny, conquer fear, find purpose, and put it all together for the better picture of the world. "From the Land of Disappointment" is a driven and much recommended addition to self-help collections, much recommended.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Love Comes To Paradise
Mary Ellis
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736938679, $13.99,

In Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, the inferno at the King family farm left their Maem and Daed dead. Following the funeral, two of the King children (Amy with her fiance and Nora) moved to the much more rigid Amish community in Harmony, Maine (see Living In Harmony).

Nora meets and falls in love with Elam Detweiler. When he moves to Paradise, Missouri, she follows him. As she begins to appreciate the freedom and independence of the Englisher after being stifled by the strict rules of Harmony, Lewis Miller comes to Paradise to persuade Nora he loves her and wants her to return to Maine with him as his wife.

The Second King family New Beginnings Amish romance is an entertaining tale of faith in taking God's path which leads to joy, harmony and eventually paradise even when one does not understand why bad things happened to good people we cherish and love. The cast is solid as Nora may have moved physically, her beliefs shaken by the tragedy; but Elam and Lewis represent diverse starting over opportunities.

Flora's Wish
Kathleen Y'Barbo
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736952101, $13.99,

In 1887, known as "Fatal Flora" due to her four fiances dying accidentally before any of them married her, Flora Brimm travels to Eureka Springs, Arkansas seeking a husband. Her Grandmama accompanies her to the Crescent Hotel to attend a masquerade ball where Flora believes number five Will Tucker is her destined mate who will join with her to produce the heir required by her late grandpa's will to keep her Natchez inheritance Brimmfield within the family.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn pursues Tucker for professional reasons as he insists the man is a thief and more so for personal reasons for what he did to his sister. At the Crescent gala, he sees the person he believes is Tucker with Flora; McMinn assumes she is his thieving partner and they plan something big with so many wealthy attending the bash. Lucas confronts and handcuffs Flora who swears she may be "fatal" to her fiances, but not a felon while her Grandmama makes it clear to the intruder his behavior is boorish. As they argue over Tucker, the two obstinate individuals fall in love, but to catch a thief stands between them.

The first Secret Lives of Will Tucker late nineteenth century romance is an engaging regional historical due to a strong cast as Flora, her family (siblings included), Lucas and Tucker bring to life the Deep South two decades after the Civil War. Although the entertaining storyline follows the expected path even with a nice late twist, readers will relish feisty Fatal Flora's Wish.

A Dream For Tomorrow
Melody Carlson
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736948739, $13.99,

In 1856 widow Elizabeth Martin decided to fulfill the dream she and her late husband James shared of moving to Oregon Country where her brother-in-law and his family lives. James' parents and Elizabeth's brother Matthew Dawson agreed to join her, her two children (Jamie and Ruth) and her freed slave Brady visit her parents for Christmas. By 1857 the Dawson Party in three modified prairie schooners joined a wagon train heading west.

As the trek heads into dangerous territory, Elizabeth and wagon train scout Eli Kincade are attracted to one another, but both have doubts. Also interested in the widow is widower Will Bramford, a Boston lawyer with three teens. In Oregon Territory, the travelers go to their separate destinations with the Dawson Party sailing south along the Pacific coast.

The second Homeward on the Oregon Trail (see Westward Hearts) is a fabulous mid nineteenth century Americana due to a strong cast and vivid scenery that readers will believe we traverse rushing rivers and snowcapped mountains. Elizabeth holds the engaging storyline together with her belief in the Lord enabling her to overcome hardship, fears and doubts especially when some travelers prove duplicitous and ugly. The relationships between Elizabeth and her extended family and her with the two men attracted to her add depth enhancing a strong historical fiction.

Love's Journey Home
Kelly Irvin
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736953184, $13.99,

In Bliss Creek, for the seven years since her spouse died widow Helen Crouch supports herself and her children by selling her jams and canned goods. Lately she has been disappointed with the out of control behavior of her only son sixteen year old son Edmond during his rumspringa. At a gathering, Helen and her daughters meet newcomer widower Gabriel Gless and his eight children who left Indiana to reduce Englisher influence on the kids. Everyone seems to be getting along until Edmond driving a buggy recklessly almost runs over Gabriel's young daughter Isabelle.

Widow Annie Plank loves her fourteen month old son Noah who reminds her of her late David (see A Heart Made New). She assumes no one will ever replace him in her heart until Gabriel's oldest son Isaac enters her bakery. As Annie wonders whether God has given her a second chance at love, Gabriel and Helen fall in love but each struggles to bury their respective beloved spouses.

The latest Bliss Creek Amish drama (see To Love and to Cherish) is a terrific entry that has more stories than the two above as a crippling drought threatens to destroy the community. Character-driven by an ensemble cast, readers will enjoy returning to Bliss Creek; a place where family values are more than a meaningless political bumper sticker as what happens to one person matters to all.

Reunion at Red Paint Bay
George Harrar
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10016
9781590515457, $14.95,

In Red Paint, native son Simon Howe owns and edits the Red Paint Register. As they go out to dinner leaving their son Davy alone for the first time, his wife Amy teases him about the newspaper, which carries stories from UFO sightings to terrorist landings to town hall meetings; the residents enjoy the fiction over the news.

However, Simon's idyllic life becomes disturbed when he begins receiving postcards from someone slowly coming to Red Paint. This unknown person seems to know Simon and accuses him of wrong doing at a graduation party in which the editor was so intoxicated he barely remembers anything. Simon remains unsure who has targeted him except that the culprit apparently is a former local seeking revenge against Simon. After seeing a psychologist, using the name Paul Chambers and believing God sent him on an eye for an eye mission, the postcard writer comes to Red Paint, Maine.

The suspense grips the audience from the arrival of the ignored first postcard and never slows down as readers anticipate a final showdown between Paul and Simon at Red Paint. Part of the tautness is the contrast between the obsessively driven Paul and the serene "Friendliest Town in Maine" especially Simon's family. The series of confrontations escalates the tension; however the key players act seemingly out of character (though one could argue under pressure change people from their norm). Still readers will appreciate the Reunion at Red Paint Bay of Paul and Simon.

Crazy Thing Called Love
Molly O'Keefe
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345533692, $7.99,

Madelyn Baumgartner was excited when the hometown Pittsburgh Pit Bulls drafted her sweetheart Billy Wilkins in the second round. A couple years later, he became the team's enforcer with a flash temper at the cost of his marriage. Fourteen years after being called up, he plays for the losing Dallas Mavericks whose coach Hornsby refuses to use Billy as the league turned away from goons due to concussions, but Billy had not altered his style. After losing a playoff spot, he cold-cocks the visiting Boston team's best player. Hornsby tells him we needed a leader not a brawler.

Madelyn Cornish hosts Am Dallas morning TV show. No one she works with knows she was once the naive wife of Billy "Brawler" so she refuses to be involved in a month makeover of her ex-husband. Billy agrees to the show as a desperate chance to win back what he lost as he still loves Madelyn. As they work closely, he sees the desire in her eyes giving him hope even with her obstinacy of no second chance between them. However, his family remains an obstacle.

The third Texas "love" story (see Can't Buy Me Love and Can't Hurry Love) is an engaging contemporary romance. The lead couple is a nice pairing as they fell in love when she was the playground enforcer as a tweener and remains in love though they split apart years ago. With issues of childhood abuse and neglect adding substance, fans will enjoy this second chance at love romance although the NBA especially Mark Cuban will not appreciate the Dallas Mavericks as an NHL team.

Proof Of Guilt
Charles Todd
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062015686, $25.99,

In 1920 London, WWI officer turned Scotland Yard police inspector Ian Rutledge still mentally suffers from his harrowing experience in the trenches. However one incident remains the prime cause of his battle fatigue; he killed insubordinate Hamish for disobeying a direct order; Hamish "resides" inside Ian's head.

Based on a suggestion from Metropolitan Police Constable Meadows, Scotland Yard Acting Chief Superintendent sends Rutledge to look into a hit and run accident that normally would be a local matter. Rutledge goes to Chelsea where he learns no witnesses not even the milk man have come forth. The unidentified victim possesses a valuable watch. The inspector tracks the watch to Lewis French, a missing person from a wine merchant family. His sister looks at the body and says he is not Lewis. Rutledge realizes he has two probably unrelated cases: to find a killer while identifying the deceased and to locate Lewis; but guided by Hamish and hampered by the new acting chief, Rutledge's investigation turns even more complicated when French's partner and cousin Matthew Traynor arrives from the Madeira office only to vanish too.

Once again team Todd's latest exciting Inspector Ian Rutledge historical police procedural (see A Lonely Death and The Confession) combines an entertaining clever mystery with a deep look at PTSD during an era when sufferers conceal their ghosts to survive in a condemning society. Making the investigation more difficult is the protagonist's new boss who rejects any clues that lead away from one of French's women especially the ex-fiancee. With only Hamish (though less haunting than usual) having his back, Rutledge becomes the next target.

Speaking from Among the Bones
Alan Bradley
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780385344036, $24.00,

In 1951 in Bishop's Lacey, Great Britain, church officials are excited with the opening of the tomb of Saint Tancred on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death. However, no one is as enthused with the excavation as tweener amateur sleuth Flavia De Luce the home grown chemist. She has solved murder mysteries (see I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) but not the mysteries of her older sisters or the enigma of her mother.

The Vicar and other adults fail to keep the curious Flavia away. As she sneaks closer to the crypt, Flavia stumbles over the body of the current church organist Mr. Collicutt. Complicating her inquiry is Adam Sowerby, who insists they team up on the Collicutt investigation as Flavia works alone.

The latest fabulous Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag) is a superb locked crypt whodunit. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she relishes chemistry, dead bodies and irritating her siblings. Fans will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia works the murder mystery, deals with a "partner" and makes progress on her mom's mystery.

Gates of Paradise
Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023-6298
9781423157410, $16.99,

As the London coven has little to celebrate the New Year, Lucifer begins his final assault on the gate of Paradise as he believes victory is now. Supporting him is the powerful sibling angels Abbadon and Azrael, respectively known as Jack and Mimi Force elsewhere, who are assigned by Lucifer to kill their loved ones.

While Lucifer continues his attack, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn and Lawson the wolf team up to liberate his people from hell; Abbadon and Azrael prepare for the right moment for a betrayal. At about the same time Schuyler Van Alen, worried about Jack who she last saw in Egypt, becomes a prisoner in Hell where she thinks the only hope for Heaven and earth resides with doing what Michel refused to do when faced with the same crisis in Ancient Rome.

The final Blue Bloods urban fantasy (see Lost In Time and Bloody Valentine) is a super climax to a strong good and evil saga as the prime subplots are tied up. The cast is powerful from the diabolical Prince of Hell to the Force angels who expect death regardless of the outcome to the heroic sacrificing Schuyler ready to die in hell for a heavenly cause.

Blue Bloods
Melissa de la Cruz
Robert Venditti, adapter
Alina Urusov, art
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023-6298
9781423134466, $19.99,

Only the elite Blue Bloods attend Manhattan's ultra-exclusive Duchesne School. However though the students are a special breed as offspring of the movers and shakers, there is a caste system at Duchesne like any school. Below in the ooze underneath the hierarchal ladder is where Schuyler Van Alen and her friend Oliver Hazard-Perry reside or as far from superstar Jack Force or his twin sister Mimi is possible. That is until they change as their reincarnated vampire genes manifest with nightmarish looks as far back as seventeenth century Roanoke.

Duchesne student Augusta Carondolet dies at a nightclub; also there with her were the Force siblings, new pupil bad dude Dylan Ward, student Bliss Llewellyn and sneaking in for the first time Schuyler and Oliver. Soon after Aggie's death, other Blue Bloods die. As she learns the truth about who she is, Schuyler also inquiries about a schism that goes back to the original Virginia colony as an avenging group the Silver Bloods have begun a killing spree.

This terrific graphic novelization of the first Blue Bloods young adult vampire thriller captures the essence of the original storyline and its high school age lead characters. Fans of the series will appreciate Robert Venditti's wonderful adaptation enhanced by powerful Alina Urusov's art as Melissa de la Cruz's entertaining vampiric teen lit suspense (with two mysteries) comes vividly alive.

The Boogie Trapp
Kerry Copeland Smith
The Peppertree Press
1269 First Street Suite 7, Sarasota, Florida 34236
9781614931126, $29.95,

In May 2008; after seeing the black cat with a red collar and a red Corvette, septuagenarian Kerry Copeland Smith thinks back to his childhood when he was called Boogie, short for Boogieman due to all the 6s in his birth. He expected the Shreveport letter that arrived from his childhood late best friend Charles Edward Trapp's sister Jean; inside is a sealed envelope that Trapper gave to his wife Marlene who had her sister-in-law forward to Boogie; reminding him of his promise to Trapper six decades ago. Boogie knows the time has arrived for him to get off his butt and begin writing what happened to a pair of young teens in 1949 at the Black Creek coal mining town in Alabama.

The thirteen year old friends were having fun when they run afoul of a dangerous predator. Boogie and Trapper fear they will be next as someone has killed and will insure no witnesses live. Instead of kisses with his item Darlene, Boogie (and Trapper) realizes they are in trouble with no one not even the Sheriff or their parents able to help them.

The Boogie Trapp is an exciting historical adolescent suspense with sprinkles of BFF humor. The teen Deliverance storyline brings alive the bygone era of Alabama coal camp towns while juxtaposing with contemporary Florida retirement. However, the keys besides capturing the vivid essence of rural (ironically only 20 miles from Birmingham but years before the superhighway system) Alabama are the cast as Kerry Copeland Smith captures the essence of two teens in over their respective heads (run is their mantra).

Wendy Corsi Staub
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062070326, $7.99,

In Glenhaven Park, New York Allison and Mack MacKenna feel as if the nightmares are over. She finally has moved passed her encounter a decade ago with the Nightwatcher and him with being a potential serial killer as a Sleepwalker. Instead they enjoy suburban Westchester County while raising their children. In fact she muses her biggest issue is to finish the novel before her book club meeting in three hours.

However, neither is aware of a murder on Saint Antony Island in the Caribbean that will haunt them as Allison's dark childhood past comes home to roost. A raging someone brutally ripped the face off a Jane Doe victim with the only clue a faded photo. This vicious killer deploys plans to remind Allison of their shared past; which returns NYPD Detective Rocky Manzillo into the Mackenna family.

The latest MacKenna-Manzillo tale (see Sleepwalker and Nightwatcher) is a taut twisting thriller that grips the audience from the opening suspense in the Caribbean until the final stunning confrontation. Action-packed, readers will relish this tense climax to an exciting trilogy although the finish is over the top of Bailey Mountain.

All That I Am
Anna Funder
Harper Perennial
9780062077578, $14.99

In 2001 in Bondi Junction, Australia Dr. Ruth Becker receives a FedEx package sent from Columbia University. Inside is a first edition of political poet Ernst Toller's autobiography I am German with a note "For Ruth Wesemann." Becker thinks back to the 1930s when she, her husband Hans, his best friend Berthold Jacob, Toller and his lover Dora Fabian resisted the Nazis.

Though her short-term memory reflects her age, Ruth recalls in detail what happened in the 1930s. Ruth and Toller were leftists with the playwright becoming head of the Bavarian Republic before the Nazis forced both and others to flee to London. In Great Britain, they were frustrated with their host nation's refusal to acknowledge Hitler and so relocated in 1939 in New York where they lived in the Mayflower Hotel, which in 2001 is about to be demolished and the reason Ruth got the package.

This is a great historical fiction tale that uses real people who resisted the Nazis in the 1930s. The storyline rotates between Becker's 2001 observations especially looking back in time and Toller's 1939 narration. Filled with tension yet leisurely paced, readers will appreciate the courageous quintet and others as they passionately try to prevent Hitler and the Nazis from their extermination path.

The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga)
Neal Stephenson, et al.
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612182384, $14.95,

In 1241, the Mongol Empire horde continues their feral assault from the east on the European Christian countries. Only the Shield-Brethren company of warrior priests seems to offer any resistance to the Khagan Onghwe Khan and his invading army as the Holy Roman Church remains divided with Cardinals split into rival camps each claiming Jesus supports their quest for power. The resolute Shield-Brethren have doubts as they bury with honor fallen comrades like Finn.

From within the Mongol Empire, the desperate few surviving Shield Brethren holy knights (Raphael and Percival the initiates, Yasper the alchemist companion and exiled Old Man of the Rock knight master Feronantus) deploy a drastic dangerous plan to get to the Khagan. While each expects to die on the mission in the middle of the enemy's ever expanding empire; in the Holy City of Rome the angrily splintered Cardinals turn to Father Rodrigo Bendrito who insists he has found the savior. In Hunern, the Shield Brethren led by Rutger the Quartermaster of the Rock Knight Master prepare for the war to come to them.

The Mongoliad: Book Three is an action-packed climax to an entertaining alternate historical saga. The storyline never slows down whether it occurs in the East, Rome or Hunern; yet also provides insight into thirteenth century beliefs as the forces of Christ are divided while the Mongols appear more monolithically in support of the Khan of Khans. Ironically, the myriad of subplots mostly are tied up in the 700 plus pages, but also several seem short-shifted. Still this entry and its Foreworld predecessors provide fans with a great epic.

The Seventh Victim
Mary Burton
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420125054, $7.99,

Seven years ago, the Seattle Strangler murdered six women who he placed in white dresses. The seventh victim was about die when a car honked and men shouted; seconds away from killing photographer Lara Church, the Strangler considers there is no sense in finishing the job if she cannot see his face; he leaves her alive as he vanishes.

In Austin, after being placed on three weeks administrative paid leave by his captain due to the political uproar over the Misty Gray case, Texas Ranger Sergeant James Beck returns to work to investigate the murder of a woman garbed in a white dress; the second victim in the state in a few weeks. Beck thinks of the Seattle Strangler, who never was caught. He finds out that the sole survivor Lara Church resides in Austin, which probably is the reason the serial killer apparently left the Pacific Northwest and surfaced in Texas. Beck warns Lara and pleads with her to help him end the killing spree as he insists he will keep her safe while thinking of what happened to ten year old Misty. However, Lara has been on the run since with her only companion her car as she does not want to return to her darkest moment when she was seconds from death.

The triangle lead cast turns The Seventh Victim into a great taut suspense. The serial killer is diabolical; the title character strong yet suffering from PTSD; and the dedicated Ranger risking his life to protect the photographer and catch the Strangler. With a terrific deadly twist adding tension to a gripping storyline, readers will appreciate Mary Burton's thriller.

The Importance of Being Wicked
Victoria Alexander
9781420117073, $7.99

In 1887, cousins Grayson Elliot (see What Happens At Christmas) and Viscount Winfield Elliott stare at the fire damage done to the latter's Fairborough Hall. Gray insists it is not too bad and Winfield keeps reminding himself it could be worse until the worst occurs when the roof collapses.

Though she hides from her family her running of her late husband's building construction firm, Lady Miranda Garret is an active earnest owner. Win hires her firm unaware that Miranda will design and supervise the renovation. Miranda knows of Win's reputation having ended three engagements, but when they meet she is attracted to the Lothario and him to his architect. As they play a game of wicked desire, they fall in love, but neither is prepared to be first to change the rules of engagement.

The latest Millworth Manor Victorian romance is an entertaining gender war starring two witty protagonists who sub-genre fans will adore. Fast-paced and somewhat wild especially the horde moving into the nearby the dower house, Victoria Alexander provides her audience with a wonderful historical.

Georgina Gentry
9781420121681, $6.99

In 1889 Texas Ranger Travis Prescott follows the Grande Kid who killed a Ranger into Red Rock, Kansas while the townsfolk celebrate the land run. In a showdown, Prescott kills the Kid but takes a bullet to his wrist. Doc tells him a piece of steel is lodged inside that he cannot take out and that his gun-drawing days are over. Prescott begins the depressing journey home as he has no idea what he will do now that he is no longer a Ranger.

Saloon girl Violet LaFarge finds four abandoned young orphans when the eleven year old oldest asks her to adopt them and a dog. Determined to find them a home, Violet believes the Ranger who she saw take out the Kid is what she needs to keep her make-shift family safely together. Pretending to be a young teen, Violet cons Travis into helping them get to Texas. As he escorts the quintet, Travis finds his thoughts disturbingly focusing on Violet. She, in turn, falls in love with their protector even as a gambler and his gunslinger pursue her.

The latest Texans western romance (see Colt and Rio) is a thrilling tale starring a wounded warrior, a jaded woman in disguise, four precocious kids and a dog. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the young quartet asks Violet to adopt them and never slows down until a final confrontation with a nice twist. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this entry as Travis and Violet disagree with E.C. Fields' wry comment to "never work with animals or children," as they love each other and their charges.

My Lord Immortality
Alexandra Ivy
9781420122725, $7.99

Over two centuries ago, Nefri the most powerful vampire, used the magic of a Medallion to create the Veil that separates the world of mankind from the realm of the undead. Recently Nefri fears an undetermined threat that could destroy both planes. Knowing the Medallion is the avenue for the evil ones, she breaks it into three parts before hiding them amidst three young mortal ladies unaware of what they possess. However, Nefri also realizes three avaricious vampires plan to take the objects; so with the support of the Great Council, she sends trustworthy vamps to protect them.

Sebastian St. Ives protects amulet recipient Amelia Hadwell from Drake Ramone who will do anything to achieve his hedonistic objective of taking what he wants when he wants from the humans. Drake knows the way to Amelia's piece of the amulet is through her family. She accepts her kind loving brother William is different but their parents want to lock him up so society never sees his gentle craziness. Two males from the other side with polar opposite objectives vie for her attention.

This reprint of the third Immortal Rogues vampire romance is an entertaining thriller starring a strong human female, a bewildered arrogant vampire, a vile villain, and a gentle-souled sibling. Fast-paced William brings freshness to the triangle that otherwise reads somewhat similar to the predecessors (see My Lord Vampire and My Lord Eternity).

The Last Minute
Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017
9780446575232, $7.99,

Sam Capra understands his comatose former wife Lucy's allegedly seditious actions cost him his position with the CIA "Special Projects" after she and others blew up the London office killing over twenty employees. The Agency accuses him of abetting his spouse as the lone survivor of the mass murder and his subsequent cleaning up the aftermath while seeking Lucy and their now born baby (see Adrenaline).

He joined the Round Table so that he could continue his activities, but now faces a new personal crisis when The Nine Suns kidnap his baby Daniel. This nefarious felonious group informs Sam if he wants Daniel back he must assassinate the person who possesses incriminating evidence re the criminal activities of the Nine Suns. Furthermore they warn him that if others besides their assigned individual to work with him Leonie the hacker (whose daughter Taylor was also snatched) help him they will kill both infants. His boss at the Round Table Mila understands her subordinate's dire situation, but decides to assist him anyway as she feels he needs all the help he can garner, a third group targets her and her million dollar wanted price tag.

The latest Sam Capra thriller (see the short story Last Chance) is an action-packed tale with a fascinating moral dilemma as the hero and his new partner know they must kill an innocent individual to save their children. Fast-paced throughout with a strong lead baggage laden trio, fans will relish this Adrenaline pumper enhanced by Mila's trafficking background.

Villa Triste
Lucretia Grindle
Grand Central
9781455505371, $14.99

In 2006 in Florence, Italy, Police Detective Allesandro Pallioti investigates the murder of a WWII "honored hero" Giovanni Trantemento. He soon learns someone is executing "honored heroes of the Resistance" with a bullet to their respective heads and symbolic salt poured into their mouths. Pallioti learns much more about the "honored heroes" who seemingly readapted to civilian life after the war ended and the motive for their murders when he finds Caterina Cammaccio's war diary on Trantemento's desk.

In 1943 Italians hear rumors that the country has signed an armistice and Bagdolio fled Rome. Caterina expects her oldest brother Enrico to come home from Rome and her fiance naval medic Lodovicio to return from Northern Africa shortly and soon after they will marry. However, as the family prepares for her wedding and her mom's fiftieth birthday, the Nazis arrive. They take over Villa Triste where they incarcerate and interrogate partisans and their supporters while hunting Jews. Caterina's sister Isabella resolutely supports efforts to force the Germans from Villa Triste.

Rotating eras between the 2006 investigation and the 1943-44 resistance, Lucretia Grindle provides a taut deft police procedural-historical blend. Readers will enjoy Pallioto's inquiry as he copes with more than a serial killer; pondering "what happens when the statue on the pedestal comes crumbling to the ground" (Blessed Is the Rain by Brooklyn Bridge). The 1940s entries are also top rate, especially the diary, as the war arrives in Florence causing the upper class sisters and others to deal with the occupiers. Villa Triste is a strong thriller.

When She Said I Do
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250016126, $7.99,

In 1816, the storm in the Cotswolds swelled the river pouring vast amounts of water over a bridge and flooding the carriage carrying the Worthington family from London. Calliope, her brother Dade, their Mama and their now unconscious dad seek shelter in a nearby seemingly abandoned mansion.

However, the dusty abode has a resident, cynical recluse Ren Porter who watches the Worthington brood make themselves at home. While her parents sleep and her sibling went back outside to help their manservant Morgan with the horses, Ren's first reaction to Calliope is she is an angel until he sees her taking a pearl necklace. Revealing himself to her, Ren demands his angelic thief pay for the jewelry. His price is marriage and nights of lovemaking for each pearl. Although frightened of her host after seeing his monstrous scarred visage, Calliope steps between her brother and the hermit as they begin a duel. She intercedes by stating to her family and the beast that she accepts his proposal. After marrying in nearby Amberdell village, the newlyweds settle in his mansion. As the pair fall in love, a killer obsesses over eliminating an obstacle.

This entertaining Regency fairy tale romance stars a brave spinster, a hermitic caring "monster" and a maniacal compulsively-driven villain whose motive seems over the top of Cleeve Hill yet enhances the delightful storyline. Readers will enjoy what happens after the Beauty said I do to the Beast.

Out Of Warranty
Haywood Smith
St. Martin's
9781250003522, $25.99

The medical profession universally agrees there is nothing wrong with fifty-something widow Cassie Jones except inside her head. One doctor after another concludes she is a hypochondriac though she complains about arthritis and counters their claims with her twenty-four surgeries and four joint replacements. Cassie desperately misses her late Tom for what they planned to do together in retirement. However, it is medical costs that are destroying her as she has too much income for Medicaid and too little income to pay her bills rejected by her Green Shield Health Insurance provider.

In Buckhead, Cassie meets COPD sufferer Jack Wilson at Doctor Shamlan Patel's Fungal Institute office; neither likes the other. Dr. Patel tells Cassie she suffers from a rare genetic form of arthritis and an extreme allergy to yeast, mold and fungus. She cannot afford the cure and knows her Antichrist insurance will reject her claims. Cassie tries employment but finds only minimum wage jobs. Deciding she needs a husband with money, she tries dating; that proves worse than her employment opportunities. Her only hope is to marry the one-legged grouch she met in Patel's waiting room as she needs his insurance and he needs her pristine abode since his farmhouse hoardes tons of dirt and whatever resides in filth.

Out Of Warranty is a biting satire that rips the American medical system through two captured customers. Cassie brings amusing caustic asides while Jack adds likable grumpiness though both at times become irritants (in fairness each stays in character). Mindful of Michael Moorer's Sicko documentary with a deep storyline Obama could have used a few years ago, Haywood Smith lampoons the essence of the health system in which profit supersedes caring.

The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain
Allan Massie
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250024923, $15.99

In the late eleventh century and early twelfth century, Breton descendants of Banquo (of Shakespearean Macbeth assassination fame) begin to rise in power culminating when the grandson becomes the High Steward of Scotland, a hereditary position, and changes the family name to Stewart. The name actually becomes Stuart when Queen Mary makes the modification. In 1371, Robert II becomes the first Stewart to be a monarch. Robert III and James I, II, and III follow but none succeed as monarchs for different reasons. In 1488 James IV becomes king and brings the renaissance to Scotland while his marriage to Margaret, daughter of English King Henry VII, leads to the merging of the two kingdoms and rivalry with the Tudors that culminates with Queen Elizabeth's execution of Queen Mary in 1587. Ironically though the Tudors appeared to have won, Mary's son James VI became James I upon Elizabeth's death. The Stuarts become the rulers of both kingdoms with religious wars costing them the throne which they also regain. Their rule continues with William and Mary II (daughter of James VII and II) and ends with her sister Anne as a failure though James VIII and Charles the Pretender try to reclaim the English throne.

Allan Massie provides a deep look at the Stewart-Stuart dynasty divided into the pre monarchy origins and sixteen kings. Well-written with an exciting look at "A History of the Family That Shaped Britain", readers including Tudor-philes will appreciate the insightful and engaging story of The Royal Stuarts who historians (and the Bard) have painted as Alydar to the Tudor's Affirmed.

After The Rain
Karen White
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451239686, $15.00,

Photographer Suzanne Paris flees her unhappy past taking a bus to Atlanta. When the bus discharges passengers in Walton, Georgia, Suzanne makes an instant decision and disembarks.

Almost immediately, Suzanne finds a teen handing her an infant to hold for a second. Not used to children, Suzanne struggles for a moment while the child wails that a stranger has her. Mayor Joe Walton, single father of six children, including the squirming kid arrives to take away the child from an uncomfortable Suzanne. Though Joe is busy with his work and raising his family he cannot stop his desire to know the visitor better. Suzanne has secrets and realizes she cannot stay much longer in the quietest town she has ever visited, but Joe is piercing the armor surrounding her heart.

This reprint of a 2003 engaging regional contemporary reads like an old-fashioned love story starring two charming protagonists who deserve more in life and may achieve that if they can find a way to be together. The story line is a character study as Karen White enables the audience to see deep inside the souls of Joe and Suzanne. The secondary cast enables deeper looks at the lead duo. Contemporary romance readers will appreciate this regional captivating tale.

Mary Daheim
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818896, $16.95,

In 1860 Massachusetts, business mogul Marcus Farrar arranges a marriage for his headstrong daughter Serena to sea Captain Brant Parnell, who needs money to save his ship. Outraged by her father selling her to a fortune hunter, Serena makes it clear to both men she does not wish to marry him; instead she wants to become a reporter in Springfield though she settles for the New Bedford Mercury.

After they wed, Serena's rejection sends an angry Brant back to the sea while a scandal ends her journalism career. Fleeing New England to stay with her sister Cecelia, who is married to a half black in New Bern, North Carolina, Serena obtains a local reporter position seeking the truth. As war breaks out and her cousin provides medical care to both sides, Brant arrives in town to see his wife who he loves in spite of her condemnation of him.

This is a reprint of an engaging 1980s release Pride's Captive as the storyline focuses on northerners residing inside the Confederacy while married to southerners. The three female blood relatives and their mates bring alive the Civil War in North Carolina. Although the vile sadistic Stanbroke siblings add tension, they are stratospherically over the top of Mount Mitchell with their stereotypical maliciousness. Fans will enjoy Mary Daheim's historical over a century and a half, and across the continent from Hillside Manor.

Sex And The Single Fireman
Jennifer Bernard
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062088987, $5.99,

As she has done for the past thirteen Thanksgivings, Sabina Jones turns up the volume while fleeing San Gabriel, California for Reno hoping her mom will finally call her. She receives a ticket for running a red light and a lecture from single dad Rick Roman who calls her insane for drowning out his first call with his son in two thousand miles.

A few days later, Rick arrives at the San Gabriel fire station as the new captain. Rock hard when it comes to enforcing the rules, he was hired to end the "Bachelor Firemen" (see One Fine Fireman) ending up as centerfolds in the tabloids. One of his firefighters is Sabrina. Attracted to each other, Rick tries to control his libido unaware that Sabrina feels the same way about their attraction and their desire to keep the distance; in her case exposure of her famous past could end her firefighting career.

The latest Bachelor Firemen tale is an amusing romance between two obstinate firefighters proclaiming not to be in love while the strong support cast knows otherwise from the heat they emit. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate two firefighters fighting the fire in their respective hearts that they cannot put out.

One Good Earl Deserves A Lover
Sarah MacLean
9780062068538, $7.99

In 1824, Jasper Aresley muses over the freedom of being the spare while his older brother Owen will one day become a prisoner to the responsibility of being the earl. However, his hedonist world crumbles when his disapproving father tells him of Owen's death by angrily stating it should have been worthless Jasper.

In 1831, fifteen days before her marriage to boring Lord Castleton, bespectacled "scientist" Lady Pippa Marbury realizes she looks forward to rusticating with Castleton while performing experiments. Before her nuptials Pippa decides to conduct live scientific "ruination" experiments on the marriage bed with a stunned Cross, the gaming hell owner of the Falling Angel as her research associate; she explains he is a legend when it comes to scandalous gaming, sprits, pugilism, but especially coitus. As they fall in love, he conceals his secret from her because he knows he is unworthy of a woman like his genius Pippa.

The second First Rule of Scoundrels historical romance (see A Rogue by Any Other Name) is a fabulous nineteenth century romance due to a strong cast starting with the brilliant lead protagonists. The storyline is fun from Pippa's shocking early pronouncement and remains that way until a final confrontation; with Castleton proving to have surprising great depth. In some ways the tale reads like an amusing 1930s (rather than 1830s) madcap comedic romp as fans will appreciate this entertaining scientific look at love.

The Lass Wore Black
Karen Ranney
9780062027801, $7.99

In 1862 London, Catriona Cameron panics when she sees Andrew Pender at a gala as he is the only person she had sex with and she fears will expose the beautiful "virgin" to ridicule. Riding inside her coach, a shot kills Maisie the horse followed by an explosion. Shards of glass rip into Catriona's face and her leg twists at a horrible angle as the coach turns over.

In 1863 Edinburgh, Catriona's Aunt Dina MacTavish worries about her niece, who hides from the Ton and wears a veil to conceal the scars when she must venture outside. Desperate to help Catriona who she thinks of as her daughter, Dina asks Dr. Mark Thorburn to help her niece who she admits is not a blood relative. Reluctantly Mark has no time for wallowing fools as his patients are the city's needy slum dwellers, but visits Catriona who thinks he is a handsome footman. He revises his opinion of her from self-pitying idiot to someone in need. As much as he heals her, she mends his heart with love. Though he knows he owes her the truth that he is an aristocratic heir, neither is aware someone wants to finish the job started with the killing of Maisie by murdering Catriona.

This is an engaging Victorian romance starring a dedicated doctor and his despondent lost soul patient. The exciting fable provides readers with a strong moral premise by looking profoundly at what beauty truly is. Although the ogre is obvious early on, fans will relish this powerful fairy tale romance.

The Red Diary
Toni Blake
9780062229571, $7.99

In Clearwater Beach, Florida, Nick Armstrong blames his family's misfortune on his father's business partner of two decades ago, Henry Ash, who took advantage of a grieving man (Nick's mom had just died). Henry swindled Nick's dad out of his share of their business. Nick's father became an alcoholic, his brother became mentally unbalanced and his sister gave up her plans to attend college. Nick worked like a dog to keep the family alive and recently his Horizon Painters firm has had success.

Henry's daughter "Princess" Lauren hires Nick's firm to paint her house. Nick's first reaction to seeing her highness is that she is the prettiest woman he ever saw, but assumes she is a shallow man-eater. As he works on her home, he finds her RED DIARY in which she fantasizes about lovers similar to that of her loose best friend. Nick decides the best way to avenge his family is to give Lauren everything she asks for in her diary. However, as he succeeds in his quest, he falls in love with his victim and fears how she will react to the truth.

This reprint of an enjoyable 2004 contemporary romance focuses on a deep message that destructive negative emotions by one person have a downward impact on other family members. Henry's collapse takes his children down with him in different way with the plot predominantly looking at Nick, who has a cancer inside him until Lauren's love begins to heal him. Lauren is a wonderful protagonist, perhaps too good for Nick even with her therapeutic love saving him from himself. Still Toni Blake makes it quite clear that revenge harms the culprit as much, if not more, as the intended target.

Power Under Pressure
Andrew P. Mayer
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146962, $17.95,

In New York, the assassination of Sir Dennis Darby on the Brooklyn Bridge by the Automaton devastated the Society of Paragons. Sir Dennis served as the groups' social compass; without his ethical leadership, the Society collapses as individuals chose self-interests over the good of the group.

Former member Sarah "the Adventuress" Stanton possesses the steel clockwork heart of her killing friend the Automaton; having hidden the mechanical beater in an obscure Brooklyn junkyard. Craving to gain favorite status from Sarah though he knows her heart is filled with revenge for the deaths of her father and mentor, Emilio vows to reconstruct the Automaton over the objection of his angry victimized sister Viola. Also needing the steel heart to complete his plans to industrialize the world under a thick blanket of smog is Lord Eschaton. His plans near fruition with the creation out of death of the Shell and the capture of Nathaniel, Eschaton must prevent the Adventuress from thwarting his scheme; while she must find a way to bring back together the Society of Paragons enhanced by reformed supervillains and still crazy mad scientists to forge the Society of Steam dream team to stop her adversary from achieving his world domination objective.

The third Society of Steam Steampunk Victorian fantasy (see Hearts of Smoke and Steam, and The Falling Machine) is an exciting tale as the frustrated beleaguered heroine wonders if she made a poor decision when she left high society to join the Paragons with vengeance filling her heart. Readers will appreciate this entry as Fortified Steam serves as the technological base for a fast-paced alternative nineteenth century New York thriller.

The Crossing
Mandy Hager
9781616146986, $16.95

The islanders on Onewere in the middle of the Pacific survived the pandemic Tribulation that destroyed much of humanity. Trapped on the coral off their island is the Star of the Sea cruise ship. Residing on board this vessel are the revered Apostles of the Lamb deities who enforce the Holy Book Rules that the Onewere Chosen and other survivors must obey.

Marym believes in the Apostles and their scripture from the Holy Book. She is elated when she learns she is a Chosen to spread the Word of peace to other survivors. On board the Star of the Sea, Marym sees nothing close to the message of peace and harmony; instead she witnesses rape and murder of the darker skinned Chosen Islanders by the Caucasian Apostles in the name of the Lord; and betrayal including sacrifice of loved ones and neighbors by family and friends. Stunned Marym considers the Apostles are devils using the Holy Book to enslave her naive believing people to do their bidding.

With a nod to Lord Acton's wry commentary that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely", this is an exciting profound dystopian post-apocalyptic thriller. The intense storyline looks deeply into organized religion propagandizing its message to further self-interests rather than that of the flock. The cast is developed and constantly changing as on-board death is the consistent final word for the Chosen. Readers will appreciate this extremely dark tale as the fabulous heroine concludes obeisance means rape and death and disobedience means rape and death.

Scent of Darkness
Margot Berwin
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780307907523, $25.00,

When Evangeline was a little girl growing up with a single mom in Brooklyn, her beloved grandma "Louisiana" Louise the aroma grandmaster taught her to appreciate the power of various scents. Eva enjoyed visiting Louise every summer in Cyril, New York where she learned about the power of perfumes like placing lavender under her pillow so she could sleep dreaming of her Prince Charming. When Eva turned eighteen, elderly Louise gave her a special gift of a scent customized for her.

Ignoring the accompanying warning that if she opens the vial, her entire life will radically change, Eva places a dab on her neck. Always a background shadow with others before she applied her personal scent, suddenly both genders is aware of her with intensity; even animals want to be her pets. Attracted to Gabriel the student, Eva is euphoric when he falls in love with her. However, strangers, acquaintances, friends, family and cats stalk her for a sniff and a touch. Frustrated with all the adulation, she doubts any of her worshippers care about the real Evangeline rather than just Eva's scent. That is until Eva meets Michael the artist, who seems to ignore her irresistible aroma.

With an olfactory spin, Scent of Darkness is a wonderful coming of age Bayou fantasy in which a regretful Eva learns perhaps too late that sometimes a person receives what she wished for. Eva is a wonderful protagonist who finds out the hard way that being the "It Girl" magnet proves undesirable. If you enjoy something with a different enticing aroma than the usual sub-genre entry, you will want to read Margot Berwin's engaging second tale (see Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire).

The Dark Hunger
Joelle Sterling
Strebor Books International
PO Box 6505, Largo, MD 20792
9781593094911, $15.00,

The cursed zombie Jonas LaRoche left his beloved teen witch Holland Manning in America to return to Port-au-Prince to protect his mother and sisters from the money lenders who demand payment for providing the cash for his ill-fated journey to the States. Meanwhile Holland becomes a new student at exclusive Stoneham Academy and becomes friends of Tami, Sierra and Giselle while concealing her only power, vampire killing blood.

While she goes to classes, back in her hometown of Frumbleton, Georgia, vampire Elson Chandler tells his flock that he will replace the missing Constable Sullivan and introduce a power hierarchical change with vampires on top and humans as their blood bank slaves. Former football star receiver Jarrett Sloan becomes enslaved to Elson's vampiric follower Isene.

At a tea party thrown by Kate Leighton, the hostess bites a guest. In a nearby onion field, the foreman chews on a migrant worker. Soon afterward at the hospital the worker attacks a nurse and a patron in Dunkin Donuts. Hell has arrived in rural Georgia while Holland's new buddies see her birthmark that affirms she is a first order witch; she proves this further by helping Sierra take back her stolen power from her thieving Aunt Jocelyn while all she wants is her forbidden lover back into her life.

The second Eternal Dead young adult rural fantasy (see Midnight Cravings) is a great entry with several strong subplots (perhaps too many) that anchor the Sterling mythology that make witches, zombies, and vampires seem genuine. Action-packed throughout, the star-crossed taboo romance between the Haitian zombie and the young witch is just one part of a terrific rotating teen horror thriller as Joelle Sterling moves her series forward on numerous fabulous fronts.

Michelle West
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407957, $25.95,

In the Essaylieyan Empire capital Averalaan, eight weeks have passed since Jewel Markess ATerafin became head of the most powerful of the ruling Ten Houses, Terafin (see Skirmish). Since her rise, four assassination attempts, three by magic, have occurred. She knows how dangerous her position is as her predecessor who named her as successor was murdered by a demon. Her rivals for Terafin covet the seat, but her biggest fear is not feeling ready for the reasonability.

The Kings order an honor celebration for the armies returning home after winning the war to the south; attended by the royal twins, the Ten and the people. During the parade, another demonic attempt to kill Jewel occurs. With help by Meralonne and telepathic advice from Avandar who says she is not ready for Battle with the Kialli as she must accept at times killing is right in order to protect the common good; Jewel escapes by flying on Snow the winged cat. The Kialli pursues while destroying anyone unfortunately in its path. Jewel confronts the demon in the forest near her Family manse. The Kings demand she present herself to them, but she becomes victimized by the pandemic sleeping plague where she must elude the Warden of Dreams and her treasonous Terafin House Council.

Though in many ways Battle is a transition tale in the House War series, fans will enjoy this fascinating entry as the heroine matures in her new role while even taking what she learned about power into the realm of Dreams. The subplots of other players like Meralonne APhaniel and Angel move forward also, but book five focuses on Jewel's coming of age on the job training in the use of political and magical power.

That Night on Thistle Lane
Carla Neggers
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778314202, $7.99,

In Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, librarian Phoebe O'Dunn lends vintage dresses she found in in the library's attic to her sister Maggie and their BFF Olivia Frost so she can attend a charity ball in Boston. Phoebe will not attend though Olivia's fiance, Dylan McCaffrey, invited her too.

Dylan's BFF San Diego based NAK CEO Noah Kendrick calls Loretta Wrentham about a stalker, but she knows nothing. He goes to the ball dressed as a swashbuckler where he meets Phoebe who changed her mind. They dance and kiss though neither knows who the other is; she is his princess and he is her swashbuckler. When Noah takes a call, she leaves but overhears someone on a cell talking about her and her swashbuckler. Later Noah asks Dylan and Olivia if they know who his princess is. Instead of flying home as he planned, Noah remains in town seeking his princess. When they meet again, she realizes he is her swashbuckler and he knows she is his princess. As they and others identify who stalks him and research who left the dresses and more in the library, Phoebe and Noah fall in love.

The latest Knights Bridge tale (see Secrets of the Lost Summer) is an enjoyable romance due to the fully developed ensemble cast enabling a close look at relationships in a small New England town (and to a lesser degree Southern California). The resolution of the dress making mystery is brilliant yet simple while the stalker suspense fizzles. Contemporary fans will enjoy spending that night and much more on Thistle Lane.

Blood of the Sorceress
Maggie Shayne
9780778314219, $7.99

In 1501 BC in Babylon, the king's favorite slave Lilia the witch fell in love with the ruler's right hand man and best friend Demetrius. When the monarch learned of his beloved's betrayal of his heart, Demetrius kills him to save Lilia. After a search of the harem, Lilia and her two sisters Indira (see Mark of the Witch) and Magadalena (see Daughter of the Spellcaster) are thrown off a cliff to the rocks below. The High Priest Sindar deploys dark magic to strip Demetrius of his soul and banish him to a formless nonexistence in the Underworld.

After three and a half millennia, her two reincarnated siblings returned parts of his soul to Demetrius who has escaped his horrid incarceration. As Lilia sees him for the first time since that bloody day in ancient Babylon, she knows her chance to return and complete Demetrius' soul has finally arrived. However, he no longer wants his soul even if that means eternal damnation or her love, and besides Sindar, now a demon, stalks them.

The final Portal romantic fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring a strong lead female, a PTSD male struggling to adjust to a physical world and worse his refurbished feelings besides his only companion for ages: rage, and a powerful diabolical demon. As with the previous trilogy entries, Maggie Shayne casts a spell on her audience.

The Ambassador's Daughter
Pam Jenoff
9780778315094, $14.95

In 1919 "the war to end all wars" seems over as world leaders arrive in Paris to negotiate the peace treaty. Margo Rosenthal's Papa Friedrich, the Jewish Oxford Professor and now a diplomat, attends the peace conference because her maternal Uncle Walther the industrialist supporter of the war insists family be at the table. Papa brings Margo with him to Paris; neither father nor daughter wants to come to France at this time.

Worried about her wheelchair bound fiance Stefan Oster left behind in Berlin, Margo runs into seething resentment by the Parisians towards Germans. As Margo adjusts to Paris, she meets the daughter of a Polish diplomat Krysia Smok the accomplished pianist, who knows her father's writings on suffrage and introduces her to others debating the continent's future. As Margo becomes invigorated by the free thinkers she encounters, she meets German Naval Captain Georg Richwalder who believes the National Socialist Party is his country's savior. Put in the middle of rage to and from Germany as everyone except Wilson blames her hinterland for the war, Margot must decide between protecting her father, accused of stealing a top secret document, protecting her heart, and protecting her country.

Pam Jenoff's latest early twentieth century historical (see WW II tales: The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat's Wife) provides a strong look at the end of a centuries old social class distinctions torn apart by WWI and at the resentment towards an increasingly upset Germany. Although there is too much improbable happenchance, fans will appreciate the not so peaceful Paris peace conference.

When Summer Comes
Brenda Novak
9780778314233, $7.99

After learning she needs a liver transplant and that her prospects were slim at best as time was running out, photographer Callie Vanetta, accompanied by Rifle the dog, moves to her late grandparents' run down farm in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. With no neighbors nearby, she becomes frightened when a man bangs on her door pleading for help. Afghan war veteran Levi McCloud explains his motorbike broke down a couple of miles away followed by dogs attacking him.

Knowing she has little time to live anyway, reluctantly Callie gives Levi shelter while he repairs his bike; in return he will work on the farm. On the run from the nightmarish deaths of his Afghani fiancee and their unborn, and a police matter that means prison time, Levi plans to leave as soon as his bike runs. However, neither he nor his hostess expected to fall in love, but each owes the other an inconvenient truth.

The latest Whiskey Creek romance (see When Lightning Strikes and When Snow Falls) is an interesting tale starring two wonderful protagonists with no future. Although the overall intense storyline loses momentum when the focus turns to secondary characters, fans will enjoy the tale of the dying photographer and the scarred vet who find a miracle in love but need more if they are to count their relationship in decades instead of months.

For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior
Shona Husk
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402262098, $6.99,

His humanity died when his wife and children died. Once a noble warrior and caring family man ages ago, Meryn the DeCangli was cursed to roam along with his King Roan (see The Goblin King) and Prince Dai (see Kiss of the Goblin Prince) with avaricious Goblins in the Shadowlands. Thanks to Roan falling in love freeing them from their Roman era Druid curse and Dai rescuing him from the Shadowlands, Meryn knows he has a second chance as a human if his mind will let go of his ugly past that he and his former beastly comrades did over two millennia.

In Perth, Australia, Nadine the nurse suffers from nightmares too since her mother died. The cops bring the scruffy looking man (Meryn) with a head injury to the hospital where they ask Nadine if she understand the language he uses as she also speaks French and Nuer besides English. She thinks he uses Latin. As he recovers from his injuries, Meryn and Nadine are attracted to each other, but each has a violent past that makes both reluctant to consider a relationship.

The latest Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging entry with the emphasis on the respective fascinating histories of the lead protagonists and Meryn's struggles to cope with modern society. Fast-paced fans of the series will enjoy For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior though the romance rightfully is relegated to a support role.

Prince Of Power
Elisabeth Staab
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402263187, $6.99,

Vampire and wizards have been at war seemingly forever. The Wizard Master exiles his son Anton to die for failing to perform his duty as the lad is not a chip off the old block since he hates killing vampires to steal their power. However, Anton has one last chance to return home in glory: steal her power before killing Tyra Morgan, sister of the Vampire King Thad (see King of Darkness).

Since Tyra works in a shelter in Ash Falls, Virginia; to gain access to her Anton pretends to be homeless, which ironically he knows he is if he fails his last chance. Anton saves Tyra's life. Attracted to each other, neither trusts the other as both know their eternal legacy. His species demands he take her power before murdering her; while hers demands the execution of him.

The second vampire-wizard war once again is a complex superb romantic urban fantasy in which the Staab mythological universe seems genuine due to strong supporting characters like widowed vampires and a young female human player. Fast-paced from the moment the star-crossed lead couple meets in the Virginia homeless shelter and never slowing down, sub-genre fans will relish the forbidden romance between the Sister and the Prince of Power.

No Mercy
Jenna McCormick
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
NY, NY 10018-2522
9780758287557, $14.00,

Gia the pilot is at a bar on a planet so far from earth, she can't exchange currency; instead a barter system thrives. Since she wants sex she needs a way to persuade Los the bartender to scratch her itch on her ship. An empath like every native, Los declines as he needs more than a one night stand to satisfy him; which leaves her to believe she is the serpent in Eden. Making matters worse is when euphoric Gen calls her as Gia is jealous though happy that her friend has found divine ecstasy with Rhys (see No Limits).

Gia and Zan the space pirate meet and feel a strong attraction. They share the best sex either ever has had, but her reactions frighten and embarrass Gia. However, during an incredible carnal encounter, Gia's health guard fails flooding her with her partner's memories. Knowing his darkest secret and on the run with him, other tsuris follows them until they are at the mercy of his abusive father.

No Mercy is an enjoyable erotic science fiction romance as long as the audience accepts various intercourse (same sex, menage a trois and especially the lead couple) occurring frequently including during improbable moments. Still with a wonderful lead couple, a sadistic vile villain and a strong support cast, fans will relish the fun erotic adventures of the pilot and the pirate.

All Natural Murder
Staci McLaughlin
9780758275011, $7.99

Ex-Silicon Valley copywriting hot shot, Dana Lewis enjoys life as a marketing expert and all around laborer cleaning cabins and duckling herding at the O'Connell Organic Farm and Spa; Dana also loves quality time with her boyfriend Jason who is reporter for the Blossom Valley Herald. The only two negatives on her serenity are her drama queen sister Ashlee and the creative food Zennia gets from "Torture Cuisines R Us" that she serves to crash dummies like Dana.

When someone murders Monster Truck driver Bobby Joe Jones, the cops question his girlfriend Ashlee; as her Facebook entry and witnesses at the Fairgrounds heard her say she will kill him for cheating on her; her responses increase the belief she killed the victim. Though she prefers to stay out of a homicide investigation, Dana knows how it feels being the prime suspect (see Going Organic Can Kill You). Additionally, her mom and sister badger her so over personal objections, Dana investigates the murder seeking a motive that has nothing to do with Ashlee's out of control superego.

This Blossom Valley mystery is an entertaining whodunit as the heroine finds her inquiry places her in danger while Ashlee flits and flirts her way through life. Although a critical cleaning coincidence that feels unlikely occurs, the amateur sleuth audience will enjoy Dana's quirky friends and family encouraging her to step into the pig sty and challenge Monster Trucks.

Austensibly Ordinary
Alyssa Goodnight
9780758267450, $14.00

Cate Kendall teaches high school English in Austin, Texas. Her favorite author is Jane Austen whose novels she uses in her classes. Though she dreams about an Austen brooding male sweeping her off her feet at a ball, Cate feels alone as she has no Darcy in her life and feels jealous of Elizabeth; though she enjoys her weekly scrabble games with teacher Ethan even if she never wins.

When Cate obtains a journal in which she writes an entry followed by something odd as if the book has ties to Jane Austen. Suddenly following Austen advice, Cate attends galas where she meets a mysterious brooder while noticing Ethan acting different towards her. From none to two admirers almost overnight, Cate will need Austen, Texas style, to navigate her romances.

The latest Austen in Austin romance (see Austentatious) is an engaging tale as Cate finds her groove confusing rather than enlightening but with Jane to guide her through the fog of relationships. Although the storyline starts very slow (may be a down side to the unique approach as Austentatious v likewise) as readers meet Cate, once the teacher has the journal and Jane as her coach, the plot accelerates from Austensibly Ordinary to Austensibly fabulous.

The Forgotten Queen
D.L. Bogdan
9780758271389, $15.00

Margaret Tudor understood early in her life that she was a pawn to help her younger brother the "treasured heir" Prince Henry especially when he sits on the English throne. Thus she accepts her fate as a young teen when her father King Henry VII arranges her marriage to King James IV of Scotland. To her amazement, Margaret loves her spouse and a country she grew up to believe were barbarians to the north. A decade together, they have a son who becomes king when James dies during a battle at Flodden Field against King Henry VIII. Her goal changed to insuring her son sits on the Scottish throne and she becomes entangled with the Earl of Argus.

The latest Tudor D.L. Bogdan historical (see The Sumerton Women) focus on the oldest sister of King Henry VIII. Margaret is a fascinating individual who does her duty, but adapts with each change in the stormy winds. Filled with vivid detail, readers will feel they are in late fifteenth and early sixteenth century England but mostly Scotland. Tudor fans will appreciate The Forgotten Queen whose legacy is her great-grandson's Union of the Crowns when he became King of Scotland, England and Ireland.

The Affair
Colette Freedman
9780758281005, $15.00

In Boston, Kathy and Robert Walker have been married for almost two decades. They have two children (Brendan and Theresa) and a successful film documentary company R&K Productions. Needing a mailing address to send a perfunctory card, Kathy looks it up in Robert's phone book. In his book, she finds the one name she thought deleted from their lives, Stephanie Burroughs. Several years ago Kathy believed Robert was having an affair with Stephanie and decides this time to find proof rather than just confront him as she did the last time. However, he has made conclusions about their marriage and their film company that he conceals from his wife.

Rotating perspective between the wife, the lover and the man who loves both of them, The Affair is a deep look at relationships. Character driven by the triangle, readers will be spellbound by the often illogical emotional musings of the protagonists as none of the lead trio is a bad person; only confused humans.

Simply Scandalous
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758269478, $14.00

A retired spy, Richard Ross has mixed feelings about how his extended family perceives him as their belief that he is listless means he did his work well but still feels insulted. He recognizes his father's new wife Madame Helene who ran Pleasure House in London and that his half-brother Christian Delornay does now, but that does not mean he is uninteresting; only grieving the death of his beloved in France.

Former espionage agent Violet LeNy faked her death. She knows the love of her life Richard will be livid when he learns the truth that Vincent Lennox is actually Violet. She realizes she must risk her heart to keep her twin brother Jack and herself safe as only her Richard is capable of protecting them, but has no idea how to regain his trust and his love. Meanwhile, someone blackmails Richard's sister Emily who loves freed slave Ambrose the House of Pleasure manager, but he refuses to act on his matching feelings as he accepts she is above his social station, he is the wrong race and he cannot afford to alienate his employer.

The latest House of Pleasure erotic regency romance (see Simply Forbidden and Simply Sexual, etc.) is simply an entertaining historical with two engaging subplots involving the Ross siblings. The prime though somewhat thin (except for the hero's lower head) focus is on Richard and the ghost he loves as they investigate the threat to the twins in between their Simply Carnal renewal. However, it is the Emily-Ambrose entry that is more fascinating as she puts a unique spin to class warfare.

Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar
Lexi George
Kensington Brava
9780758263131, $14.00

In Hannah, Alabama, hybrid demon-human Rebekah "Beck" Damian own and runs a dive that employs the gamut of paranormal species serving the gamut of paranormal species; this includes allowing Wampus Kitty inside her establishment though she hurts business with her gloom and doomsday soliloquies frightening the patrons, staff and even somewhat Beck. However her open door policy becomes challenged when Conall Dalvahni demon hunter enters as his kind is at war against her paranormal half.

To their respective chagrin, Beck and Conall are attraced to each other though neither trusts the other. Allegedly Conall searches for a mega-powerful demon-possessed weapon which his prey supposedly possesses that the hunter believes would result in genocide of his kind. As the odd couple fall in love, both know their natural inclination is to kill their beloved and grieve afterward.

The third Demon Hunting urban fantasy (see Demon Hunting In Dixie and Demon Hunting In The Deep South) is a fabulous action-packed thriller due to Lexi George's ability to make her paranormals appear genuine. The star-crossed lovers are beloved enemies as everyone knows that a demon hunter and a half demon make war not love. While the protagonists fall in love, the overarching theme also moves forward as Beck's brother Tommy would testify. Filled with danger and jocularity, fans will enjoy stopping at an equal opportunity dive bar in Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

Lucy Monroe
Kensington Brava
9780758242037, $14.00

Goddard Project (see Deal With This) agent Rachel Gannon worked undercover in Helwan near Cairo to end the illegal operations of sadistic Egyptian Abasi Chuma. However, her informant inadvertently gave away her cover. In the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, her captors torture Rachel using three minutes of electricity at consistent intervals, but she refuses to give them information beyond screaming out the name of the US Marine she loves who failed her a decade ago.

No longer a marine, Kadin Marks leads an Atrati team of mercenaries to rescue Rachel. Complicating matters, she refuses to leave willingly unless her informant is protected as her sister's suicide still haunts her since she blames herself for not being there for her. Still when Kadin and his unit succeed in extracting her, she tries to persuade the man she never stopped loving that the prize of destroying Chuma and his unknown partner are theirs for the taking.

This is an exciting black ops romantic thriller with two pairs of loving coupling (besides the protagonists, two male team members are an entry though one of them refuses to come out of the closet and tell his family). The engaging romances provide a deep look into the respective psyches of the lead couple and to a lesser degree the gay pair; though these relationships feel out of place while on a black ops mission. Still readers will enjoy the Lucy Monroe's entertaining "Road to Morocco" (and Egypt).

Taking The Reins
Kat Murray
Kensington Brava
9780758281043, $9.95

Her older brother Trace and her younger sister Bea fled their amoral widow mom and the M Star Ranch in Marshall, South Dakota. Thus the middle child Peyton Muldoon was left alone as a teen to save the spread that her mom has been destroying ever since their father died. However Peyton is devastated to learn she owns only one third of the ranch as her absentee siblings own equal shares. She demands her late dad's heir apparent her rodeo brother and soap opera actress sister come home to reach an agreement on her managing the ranch.

Trace arrives with his infant son Seth and no plans to leave; Bea also seems to settle in at the ranch. Meanwhile Peyton persuades highly regarded horse trainer Red Callahan to work for her. Employer and employee are attracted to each other; each tries to keep a professional distance but their attraction proves too strong to ignore.

The first Roped & Wrangled ranch romance stars a determined heroine and a strong trainer who recognizes a kindred spirit when it comes to love and horses though their attraction never quite gels until late as each place saving the ranch over saving their hearts. The secondary subplots involving the siblings enhance the background into the life of Peyton as well as introducing the audience to future series leads.

Eye of the Wizard
Daniel Arenson
9780987886408, $10.99

Thirteen year old Scruff Thistle notices the shadow moving outside his family's home. He forces his irritated younger brother Neev to look out the window; Neev sees the same thing, a beautiful woman who stares back at the siblings before proclaiming: "You will die, Scruff." His sister Jamie screams waking up, their Mother and Father. The grobbler attacks but Father kills it. He tells his family he must leave as Dry Bones the evil warlock and his grobbler horde finally arrived at their village. Before the night ends, the three siblings become orphans vowing vengeance one day.

Five years later, a coven expels Neev the novice from their ranks as a loser for conjuring up fearsome looking Romy, a child demon with rabbit ears who likes ribbons and considers her new warlock as her mommy. Scruff wants to become a knight but the now seven footer refuses to use a sword so is considered unfit for warrior duty. The opposite of Scruff as she loves using a sword, Jamie also wants to become a knight, but that occupation is male only. The pair is exiled from the village. On their trek away from their home the siblings meet Cobweb the Spiderling banished from her clan due to a severe lisp. The teen quintet forges a team of mercenaries Bullies for Bucks even as Dry Bones stalks the Thistle threesome.

The first Misfit Heroes fantasy is an amusing yet dark coming of age tale. The fab five are fully developed with diverse personalities while sharing the "misfit" stereotype for not fitting in the acceptable norm. Although the dialogue at times can be inanely cutesy, fans will enjoy the satirical Bullies for Bucks' heroic misadventures.

The Wrath of Angels
John Connolly
Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781476703022, $26.00,

Retired Maine Forest Service Ranger Harlan Vetters knows that very soon he will join his late wife Angeline. Before he dies, he summons his son and daughter to tell them the tale of the crashed airplane he and his deceased buddy Paul Scollay found in the nearby Great Northern Woods. No one reported the plane missing and the best friends found no bodies in the wreckage or in the vicinity.

However, the plane contains a list that many people covet; names of those who made a Faustian deal with the devil. Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay mention the plane that the forest tried to swallow to private detective Charlie Parker who believes he is on this roster of the damned. Hired by Ernie, Parker plans to find the damnation document before others like a scarred female killer; the perpetual tweener who recalls all the details of his death; and the serial killing Kushiel Collector, etc. They and others race into the Great Northern Woods searching for this lost plane with some wanting to use the list to strike at the human quislings and others especially the named needing it destroyed; unaware that the primeval forest and the malevolence that survived the crash passionately look forward to greeting visitors.

The latest Charlie Parker paranormal private investigative thriller (see The Burning Soul) is a great convoluted tale due to the dark foreboding atmosphere that engulfs everyone who enters the woods. Fast-paced from the moment Harlan tells his story to his adult children and never slows down; hooked readers will wonder what next as John Connolly writes a taut twisting suspense.

Tiger by the Tail
John Ringo and Ryan Sears
Baen Books
PO Box 1188
Wake Forest, NC 27588
9781451638561, $25.00,

Ex-Navy SEAL turned Caucasus Mountains Kildar warlord Mike Harmon decides he and his Keldara followers deserve R&R after their efforts in the war against terrorism. However, instead of returning to their home in the former Soviet republic Georgia, he leads his team of Keldara and other retired SEALs like Charles Adams against pirates off Pulau Manghai Island near the Malaysian Peninsular, thousands of miles from their mountainous land.

The mission proves successful especially with the enigmatic find of an unlabeled box containing nuclear reactor computer chips. Harmon knows there is no way these pirates should possess these chips so he tortures information out of pirate Captain Yeung Tony to learn how he obtained them and who his customer(s) and destination are. With leads, Harmon, his SEALs and the Keldara follow a lethal trail leading to Myanmar.

The latest Paladin of Shadows tale (see Ghost, Kildar, Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach and A Deeper Blue) is an exciting entry that starts off with plenty of action, but decelerates in the middle before stepping on the gas. The banter and camaraderie between the reoccurring cast is fun to follow while newcomers like teenager Vanel Kulcyanov feel like they came out of the generic Keldara typecasting. Still fans will enjoy this Southeast Asia thriller.

Sunset of the Gods
Steve White
9781451638462, $14.00

Temporal Regulatory Authority leader Kyle Rutherford asks his most experienced Ancient Greece time traveler Hesperian Colonial Rangers Commander Jason Thanou to lead an expedition to study the Battle of Marathon. The mission is to answer historical questions and to determine whether any alien Teloi survivors that escaped the Minoan entrapment were involved in the pivotal battle. Jason met the Teloi masquerading as gods like Zeus when he, geologist Dr. Deirdre Sadaka-Ramirez (who stayed behind with Perseus) and historian Dr. Sidney Nagel (who died heroically) traveled to three millennia ago (see Blood of the Heroes). Reluctantly, Jason agrees to lead the expedition consisting of historian Dr. Bryan Landry, soldier Alexandre Mondrago and xenologist Dr. Chantal Frey to 490 BC.

The quartet arrives in 490 BC weeks before the battle. They claim to be exiles from Macedon whose King Alexander I swore allegiance to the Persians. On the road top Athens, Jason and Alexandre see the mythological Pan. As they are given sanctuary by Themistocles, the budding Athenian democracy debates how to defend itself against the Persian military. They soon encounter Zeus and a stunning anomaly in which conspirators are using Pan and the Teloi to achieve their long term objective.

The clever second Thanou time travel science fiction is an exciting thriller that provides a deep look into the Battle of Marathon. The storyline uses too many passive explanations re the rules of time travel and 490 BC Athens though these explicatory soliloquies add a sense of scientific and historical genuineness to the plot. Still fans will enjoy learning the secret of Pan as Jason and his team must thwart a diabolical plot to influence the outcome of the key Battle of Marathon.

'Til The World Ends
Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803491, $14.95,

Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa. The Red Lung pandemic devastated much of the world. Kylie is a rare person immune to the horrible disease. As the lethal virus proves even more gruesome to the dead, Kylie finds a slight flicker of hope when she meets Ben. This prequel to the Blood Of Eden post-apocalyptic series (see The Immortal Rules) is an engaging tale due to the lead couple and the Kagawa world.

Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre. Following the toxic chemical spill that destroyed the United States, the affluent and their corporations established safe zones for those who could pay for sanctuary inside of fortresses. Others like Mari Thistle reside as scavengers in the dangerous Red Zone where a friend will kill you for your bottled water. Mari and Thorne Goodman meet and soon uncover a diabolical lethal plot to exterminate Red Zone survivors. The keys to this exhilarating post-apocalyptic thriller are the lead couple and the Aguirre environmentally devastated world.

Sun Storm by Karen Duvall. Sarah Daggot is a storm chaser who is outside when the worst solar flares ever recorded bombard the earth; leaving a devastated planet in its wake. She survives, but the immense radiant that blasted her changed Sarah into a Kinetic, who senses when storms from the sun and elsewhere are coming. When Sarah meets other Kinetics, they team up to prevent the final planetary destruction by the sun. However, to succeed, they need the only dissenter Ian Matthews to join them as they are one short. Sun Storm is an exciting doomsday thriller.

The three novellas contain strong protagonists, fabulous support characters and diverse dark earths.

A Memory Of Light
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
9780765325952, $34.99

The forces of the Light and the Darkness prepare for the final battle, which appears will occur north of the Mountains of Dhoom in Shayol Ghul. Meanwhile hostilities flare up elsewhere as Talmanes leads a depleted Band of the Red Hand in a fight against the Trollocs in Caemlyn; Elayne had taken much of their force especially the cavalry to the Field of Merrilor where the rulers will decide whether to support Rand al'Thor's dangerous plan to free the Dark One or kill him before his insanity demoralizes the humans. Regardless of who stands victorious in the Last Battle, The Wheel of Time is moving to end this age.

This is an exciting finish to the two decade old Wheel of Time saga as Brandon Sanderson provides an action-packed final battle (and several precursor combats) in his third effort (see The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight). The battle scenes are top rate while making up the brunt of the 900 plus page tome, but also have a deja vu sense after several war scenes occur. Not surprisingly, some of the numerous long-running subplots receive short shrift as do key characters and races. Still, this is a well-done climax as several fronts explode while the adversarial forces prepare and meet for the final battle that will determine the fate of humanity as the Wheel of Time turns.

The Closer You Get
Kristi Gold
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373718337, $5.50

Nine years ago, Brett Taylor began his ascent as a country music superstar at the same time his wife left him taking their daughter with her. Cammie Carson obtains the bus driving position on Brett's tour. She is attracted to Brett, but realizes that he leaves broken hearts in his wake. When a band member becomes ill, Cammie is drafted as the replacement.

Brett and Cammie become an item even while she expects he will dump her very soon. Still they fall in love, but she remains consistent expecting her heart to break as she knows he has commitment trust issues having failed to move on with what happened almost a decade ago.

This is a warm second chance at love romance starring a charming angel and an emotionally scarred devil. The enjoyable storyline will have readers feeling they are on the bus touring along with Brett and his retinue; while also answering the Lovin' Spoonful's question "Do you believe in magic?" with only when love is "in a young girl's heart."

Bending The Rules
Margaret Watson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718320, $5.50

Restaurant owner Nathan Devereux and Department of Children and Family Services social worker Emma Sloan meet at the teen center FreeZone, which his sister Frankie and her beloved Cal established. She notices his limp, which Frankie says came from a car hitting him. Frankie also teases Emma as she, Cal and others saw how the social worker and Nate looked at each other. Meanwhile his FBI brother Patrick asks Nate for documents related to his restaurant.

CPD Officer Trenton calls Emma to inform her that her best friend single mom Sonya Michaels died suddenly while riding a bus. Emma, licensed as a foster parent, takes in Sonya's grieving teenage daughter Harley. Lawyer David Sanders tells Emma that Sonya named Harley's biological father, Nathan Devereux. Having handled paternity cases for DCSF, Emma tells a stunned Nathan and a shocked Harley. Nate knows Emma wants to adopt Harley, but he wants in the life of his offspring; and for that matter her foster parent too.

Though a father not knowing he sired a child is an old theme, Margaret Watson provides an engaging family drama starring three likable lead characters struggling with what Sonya left behind and a strong support cast. A taut fresh subplot involving a menace to the extended Devereux family and anyone in their sphere enhances the contemporary with suspense; as Nate fears his presence in the lives of the two new women he just met and loves places them in danger.

Reservations For Two
Jennifer Lohmann
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718344, $5.50

In Chicago, Chef Tilly Milek opens up Babka, a restaurant serving Polish cuisine. Her life is going great as her restaurant has had some early success and she meets Dan Meier who is attracted to her like she is to him and shares with her a love of food. However, her optimism collapses when the Eater food critic rips Babka in CarpeChicago.

As her dream along with her confidence collapses, Tilly vows to find the Eater and rip his or her guts out. That changes when she learns her Dan betrayed her as he is the anonymous Eater. Dan realizes he erred with how he handled the review as he broke protocol; he also concludes someone inside wants Tilly to fail. Knowing he lost the trust of the woman he loves and may have destroyed an excellent Polish restaurant, Dan tries to make amends.

Reservations for Two is a delightful foodie romance starring two "star-crossed" lovers as critics and chefs don't mix. The Polish cuisine in many ways steals the show as irresistible Chicago pierogies remind me of the Bronx delis' knishes. Readers will enjoy this scrumptious contemporary.

How To Get Over Your Ex
Nikki Logan
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207022, $2.59

On Valentine's Day in London at Radio EROS, Georgia Stone proposes to Daniel. To her chagrin, he says no. EROS station manager Zander Rush feels for Georgia having been jilted, but his sympathy only goes so far as he must face advertisers seeking happily ever after. Thus he demands she complete her one-year contractual obligation though both thought it would involve her wedding plans.

Instead Zander plans to turn naive Georgia into a sympathetic heroine while leaving Daniel looking shallow. She agrees to allow the station follow her exploits as she moves passed the on air REJECTION. With Zander at her side, Georgia enrolls in spy and belly dancing classes even as he begins to wonder if he could be Prince Charming with Georgia as his happily ever after soul mate.

This is a fun British coming of age frolic as humiliated Georgia finds her groove over the year. Zander proves adept and flexible by turning a PR disaster into a win-win-win for the station, him and Georgia. The romance is sweet and slow like it needs to be as the storyline focuses on the greater relationship between the protagonists. Although reality radio seems so late 1930s Orson Wells as TV or the Net would be better venues, fans will enjoy how Georgia got over her ex by finding real love.

Baby Out Of The Blue
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Romance
9780373178612, $4.99

Kellie invites her recently divorced (from attorney Rob) BFF since elementary school in Philadelphia, Fran Myers to stay at the Persephone luxurious getaway in Thessalonica on the Greek Riviera built by her husband Leandros Petralia. Fran, realizing Kellie is upset, wonders if her beautiful marriage is teetering. Forced to stop before reaching their destination due to a horrific hail storm and a T-4 tornado, Kellie says she is losing her beloved to new employee Karmela Paulos, younger sister of his late first wife.

In Athens Angelis Corporation CEO Nik Angelis learns of the tornado destroying hotels on the Greek Riviera including suites at Persephone Resort where his sister Melina, her husband Stavros and their infant daughter were staying. Meanwhile, Kellie and Fran learn five people died at the resort. In the hotel garden where they stopped, Fran finds a severely injured baby suffering, who apparently was swept away by the tornado. They take her to the hospital where the infant's Uncle Nik arrives from Athens to learn his niece's parents are two of the dead and to see Fran with baby Demi.

This entertaining Grecian contemporary showcases Rebecca Winters' talent as the grief of Nik (and his siblings too) losing his sister, caring of his niece, and to a lesser degree Fran's recent divorce takes front and center over the romantic subplot between the protagonists. Adding in the Kellie-Leandros tense relationship to the mix leads to a strong drama starring a powerful cast.

Liz Fichera
Harlequin Teen
9780373210725, $9.99

Lone Butte High School Golf Coach Larry Lannon consistently watches his team come in last place in Maricopa County, Arizona. Principal Graser warns Lannon if the team fails to improve, he will lose his coaching position and return to teaching history fulltime. Desperate to avoid the dire straits of classroom instruction, Lannon observes a teen girl displaying the most natural golf swing he ever saw.

After persuading her poor Gila River Indian Reservation family he will keep her safe, Lannon arranges for Fred Oday to attend affluent Lone Butte and join the golf team. To make room for his new star, Lannon kicks Seth off the team. Seth's best friend Ryan Berenger, other team members and much of the school are irate though the golfers acknowledge the Rez female has skills. Fred feels like a complete outsider, but is attracted to Ryan when he is nice though more often he is nasty to her. Meanwhile someone filled with anger sabotages Fred's game taking the assaults to dangerous levels.

Hooked is a refreshing teen romance starring an arrogant spoiled rich kid and a poor lack of confidence Rez female. The concept of an athletic female playing with the boys is deftly handled as is the changing relationship between the protagonists who rotate perspective though I did not like the change in print to delineate who's the lead is as that felt like dumbing down. Even with the attacks eventually feeling over the top of the Estrella Mountains, fans will be Hooked by fabulously feisty Fred.

BJ Daniels
9780373777570, $7.99

Jack French spent the last two years in prison doing forced ranch labor after being convicted for cattle rustling, a crime he did not do. After his release, he returns home to Beartooth, Montana with one mission in mind: enact vengeance on the unknown(s) who framed him.

While he did hard time, Kate LaFord relocated to Beartooth where she owns the Branding Iron Cafe. Beartooth General Store owner Lynette "Nettie" Benton persuades Sheriff Frank Curry to uncover the secrets of the enigmatic Kate and also wants to know more about her mysterious new tenant Tiffany Hayes. Lynette and Frank are attracted to each other though her remaining married but separated from her husband Bob (who resides in Arizona) leaves both hesitating to do more than harmlessly flirt. Having found a murdered corpse, Frank asks Lynette to look at a photo he found on the unidentified body; she confirms it is the dead for three decades Ackermann family. As Kate serendipitously searches for rumored gold that her mom swears exists, she and Jack meet and fall in love.

The latest Beartooth Big Sky romantic suspense (see Unforgiven) is an entertaining thriller as once again deaths from decades ago (and rumored lost gold) keep a firm grip on the townsfolk. Fast-paced from the moment Jack returns home as an unappreciated Good Samaritan and never decelerating, readers will enjoy this taut Montana tale with multiple (perhaps too many) mysteries and one and a half romances.

Beyond Valor
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373278091, $5.50

Near Lar Sholtan, Afghanistan, highly regarded for his scrounger skills almost as much as his combat medical expertise, US Navy medic Luke Collier learns he is responsible for mentoring and keeping safe newly assigned Navy medic Megan Trayhern. General Maya Stephenson, who recognized modern warfare has no clearly delineated front line and thus created the Black Jaguar Squadron, persuaded the Pentagon to send trained female medics into the villages to gather Intel from the frightened villagers who may talk to a woman, but never a man as they fear the marines as much as the Taliban.

Luke and Megan are attracted to each other at first sight. However, each knows that the fraternization ban must be strictly adhered too especially in combat settings. Additionally, Luke knows what three deployments did to his marriage and Megan believes a relationship, especially a taboo one, would compromise her mission. Honor and duty are at war with love.

The latest Black Jaguar Squadron military romance (see His Duty To Protect and Operation: Forbidden) is a great tale due to the deep look at daily survival of combat medics in the field. The Afghani villagers bring the freshness with their fear of the marine and the Taliban. Action-packed, readers will appreciate Lindsay McKenna's excellent forward deployed romantic thriller.

A Date With Fortune
Susan Crosby
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373657216, $5.25

His Uncle James sent Michael Fortune, CEO of FortuneSouth Enterprise based in Atlanta to Red Rock, Texas to talk some sense into his cousin Wyatt who quit the family business and became engaged to Sarah-Jane Early (see Her New Year's Fortune by Allison Leigh). An atheist when it comes to believing in the myth of true love, Michael wonders what is in the Red Rock air as Wyatt is the seventh Fortune to find their soul mate here.

While meeting at Estelle's Diner, Sarah-Jane invites her roommate confectioner Felicity Thomas to join them. When True Convections' owner Felicity and Michael meet, sparks fly. She babbles mentioning his sister Wendy was her first truffles customer, which has become a booming business while the hunk in the "Suit" acts like an idiot. As they fall in love, Michael refuses to acknowledge his feelings leaving Valentine's Day apparently a misfortunate holiday for the candy-maker.

This "Fortunes of Texas: Southern Invasion" is an engaging contemporary filled with humor mostly by the Red Rock gossip brigade starting with Estelle. The virginal confectioner and the sophisticated non-believer in love make a nice pairing as Susan Crosby concocts a fun sweet romance.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Place Where the Light Enters
Farida Mila Nazari
Dandelion Books
1960 West Keating Ave. Ste. 236
Mesa AZ 85202
9780986014567, $19.50

The famous Sufi mystic and Persian poet, Rumi, says light enters us through our wounds. The author has woven an incredible tapestry of wounds, light, love, joy and sorrow in this book. It is a work of fiction, based solidly on real life.

When Setara Shams dies unexpectedly, her son Cameron finds her journals in the attic. The history he discovers and the memories recorded transport him to earlier places and times. His beautiful Afghani mother wanted to be a writer. Her words take Cameron to an Afghan world of breathtaking beauty as Setara shares her early life of colorful flowers, prayers, laughter, music and traditions. And she experiences the exquisite sweetness of love with family friend, David Shams. Life in Setara's world is peaceful and joyful before the Russian-Afghan war shatters her serene existence.

Chaos, panic and fear invade Setara's world as one tragedy after another devastates her family. Her kindly father is arrested, imprisoned, released, then coldly murdered on his own doorstep along with Setara's youngest sister. Her little brother is murdered, as are David's father and little sister as David helplessly looks on. When Setara's mother dies a broken woman, David marries his Afghani sweetheart and takes her to safety, first to England and then America. But the loss of his family and war's horrors change her sweet, tender husband. The man who vowed to love Setara forever turns cold. Numbed by the atrocities he's seen, David walls himself off from love and joy. He focuses on his work, has multiple affairs with other women, and neglects his wife and three children. Setara's sweet David becomes an arrogant, self-centered bully who systematically smothers the joy from everyone who loves him.

Her children are grown and gone from home, leaving Setara alone with her dark thoughts. Her oldest son dies in another senseless war. Her daughter dies in a car wreck. Somehow, Setara rises once again from the ashes of despair to blossom. She decides that all life is a gift and that forgiveness is the key to finding light in darkness. She prays for David to love her again. That prayer is answered, but his enlightenment comes too late. He returns home to make amends and finds Setara dead in the bed they so rarely shared. But the warming light of her beautiful, courageous spirit still shines through her journals.

This is a book of exceptional hope, beautifully written and highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Evita's Bossie Sikelela
Evita Bezuidenhout, author
Linda Vicquery, illustrator/artist/consultant
Random House Struik
c/o International Publishers Marketing
P.O. Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172
9781415201565, $21.00,

The successor to "Evita's Kossie Sikela," "Evita's Bossie Sikela" is a fantastic cookbook collection of special South African recipes gathered by the author with a theme of cooking for reconciliation. Decorated with page after page of bright, colorful, exotic pictures and imaginative collages, and introduced and supported by celebrity Charlize Theron, "Evita's Bossie Sikela" is loaded with delicious exotic South African and other African cuisine examples to try. For example, how about Lamb Shanks with Lemon Preserve & Olives, a delicious,spicy main dish which can be served garnished with pomegranate seeds and chopped mint, and creamy putupap, garlicky mashed potatoes, or boiled potatoes. Accompanying this couold be a Grilled Courgette Salad, with olive oil grilled courgettes (zucchini or squash), salad leaves, mustard vinaigrette, Parmesan shavings, and black olives. Delicious! For cocktail hour, there is Pineapple-Chilli, Lemon & Ginger, Tomato & Cucumber, or Grapefruit Tonic, all delicious exotic cocktails with a South African twist. The author believes in sharing beloved South African recipes while preaching peace and reconciliation, a fabulous approach to promote harmony and peace. In keeping with that theme, the author's royalties from "Evita's Bossie Sikela" and its predecessor, "Evita's Kossie Sikela," go to the Darling Trust, established in 2003 by Evita se Perron to assist disadvantaged communities of Darling, South Africa, irresepctive of race, colour or creed.. For further information in how the Darling Trust works to alleviate HIV/AIDS, TB, poverty and fear, go to,

Meanwhile, pull up a chair and continue to peruse the delightful offerings of "Evita's Bossie Sikela," pausing on such delicacies as Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce, Lebanese Meatballs, Chickpea Rissoles, Morogo (wild spinach herbs) & Potato, or Butternut & Chickpeas, spiced with ginger, garlic, turmeric, cardamom, red chili, and stewed in coconut milk garnished with lemon and fresh coriander. Recipes are presented in metric measurements and simple paragraph form, with exotic ingredients explained, as well as anecdotal recipe and historical, regional information. For fish, there are dozens of creative recipes, from sardines to grunter or kabeljou. Recipes are organized partially by the region from which they come, or where the author collected and savored them first. Chapters are organized into three main sections, titled Setting Off, On Safari, and At Home. For non-metric cooks and kitchens, a brief conversion table is listed in the Contents page. Lest the reader feel neglected at dessert, there are multiple fantastic recipe ideas for desserts throughout, including fresh and dried fruits, Poundcake (for children's birthday cakes), Raspberry Tart, and for afternoon tea, Walnut Cake and Buttermilk Scones, or even Bread and Butter Pudding. There are wonderful Granitas selections, varieties of vegetable sides and main dishes, and even a special section on Cape flora called Fynbos Botany, listing fruits and herbs and plants that grow on the Cape and are used for medicinal purposes. "Evita's Bossie Sikela" is a treat to read, an armchair culinary tour of the Cape, with fantastic taste treats embedded on every precious, exotic, embellished page. Even if you can't travel to South Africa and don't want to taste Beulah's wrapped quail or Rosa's Sweet & Sour Warthog, this is too good to be missed. Enjoy reading, cooking, and supporting an excellent cause for improving life quality for residents of the Darling area.

Star Wars, Easy Piano CD Play-Along
John William, composer
Hal Leonard Corporation
7777 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781476874609, $14.99 (book and CD),

"Star Wars Easy Piano CD Play-Along" is a collection of ten well -known theme songs from the popular movie series arranged for the early intermediate pianist's playing enjoyment. Complete with a CD of orchestral audio arrangements of accompaniments, "Star Wars Easy Piano CD Play-Along" is streamlined for maximum performance enjoyment, with full staff, large note arrangements that are easy to read. Included are such popular themes as the Cantina Band, Duel of the Fates, The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme), May the Force Be With You, Princess Leia's Theme, the Star Wars main theme, and more. Young pianists will enjoy working up these solos for performance in casual or formal recitals. The accompaniment CD (with audio arrangements by Peter Deneff) has the latest Amazing Slow Downer capacity with directions for appropriate software installation. This will enable young performers to practice playing parts or all of a piece in slower tempos, until they have mastered it. The solos can be performed successfully either with the CD orchestrations, or as piano solos without the CD. Enhanced piano learning is enabled by this convenient use of technology for early performers.

Music Theory Workbook for All Musicians
Chris Bowman
Hal Leonard Corporation
7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781476808529, $12.99,

The "Music Theory Workbook for All Musicians" is a complete self-study course in workbook format with illustrations and examples for the reader to write and check their answers. Major topics of study include major and minor scales and modes, harmony, intervals, chord structure, chord progressions, substitutions, and more. The introduction specifies a key of ten steps to learning music theory, as follows: "1. Know the formula. 2. Write it. 3. Apply the key signature. 4. Play it. 5. Listen to it (repeatedly). 6. Analyze it. 7. Verbalize it. 8. Memorize it. 9. Quiz it. 10. Review it (p. v)." "Music Theory Workbook for All Musicians" is designed for the intermediate player of any instrument, with a working knowledge of the treble clef, chromatics, identification of note on your instrument, all strings, all frets, and some basic knowledge of scale forms and major and minor chords as well as others. Completion of all the exercises in the book may take as long as a year, an investment well worthwhile for any ambitious musician interested in soloing, arranging, orchestrating, composing, or other creative activities involving music creation or performance. The "Music Theory Workbook for All Musicians" is an excellent tool for intermediate musicians who desire to take their skills and creativity to the next level.

Conflict and Costume
Jim Naughten, author/photographer
Lutzmarten, introduction
Merrell Publishers Limited
81 Southwark Street, London SE1 OHX
Perseus Distribution
193 Edwards Drive, Jackson, TN 38301
9781858946009, $50.00,

"Conflict and Costume: The Herero Tribe of Namibia" is a brilliant display of costume portraits of Herero men, women and boys in authentic Namibian costumes created in reaction to a history of conflict and exploitation by European colonialists, beginning with the German genocide of the Herero in 1904, resulting in the death of at least 60,000 Herero, including men, women, and children. These costume portraits are unusual and poignant, reflecting a complex philosophical reaction of the Herero to their colonial exploiters in both the stance and pride of the individuals and the actual fabrics, colors, and styles of the created costumes, which reflect a belief that "wearing the enemy's uniform (diminishes) their power and transfer(s) some of their strength to the new wearer (p.16)." Even more striking and creative than the men's various military and formal uniforms are the women's fantastic bright patchwork long gown creations, with horned headdresses to represent the cow, which is a mainstay of Herero culture and diet. The long gowns were supposed to represent the wide, circular essence of the cow, encouraging the wearer to move in a stately floating gait, or in the formal cow dance. Set against the stark, unforgiving landscape of parts of Namibia, all these colorful costume portraits convey an incredible determination, a sense of calm dignity and survival, of brilliant celebration of life in the face of stark threat of death. "Conflict and Costume" is not meant to be a conventional cultural record or a snapshot of everyday life of the Herero. Rather it appears to be a moving tribute to the amazing courage, spirit, and ingenuity of this surviving Southwest African group of nomadic descendants. The landscape and the history of Namibia is one of contrast and intensity, and great beauty, all of which are reflected in these incredible costume portraits of modern day Herero, recorded by an unflinching camera that thirsts for the pride of detail so clearly displayed.

Leverage Your Laziness!: How To Do What You Love ALL THE TIME!
Jeff Goldberg & Steve Bookbinder, authors
Sound Wisdom
167 Walnut Bottom Road
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781937879143, $9.99,

"Leverage Your Laziness!: How To Do What You Love ALL THE TIME!" is a compact self realization manual ideally aimed at an employment seeking adult readership, filled with witty, concise progression of 16 easy to remember principles to adapt to the overall goal of leveraging your laziness and learning to do what you love all the time. Examples of principles are #1 Don't listen to what the man said, #6 First things first, #11 Refuse to pay the dead relationship tax, #15 Do not recruit toxic goons, and #16, Keep the fire burning. In between are some interesting principles, such as #8 Turning laziness into a successful business, and #12, Find Ginger ('Remember; Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards, wearing a girdle, and in high heels'). Then there is the ever practical #10 Fire the people who make your life suck. Obviously all the wisdom in "Leverage Your Laziness!" is couched and laced with pungent humor. The basic concept seems to be find your comfort zone and work out of it, or other words to that effect. Discouraged jobseekers who need a fresh viewpoint will profit from "Leverage Your Laziness!" as will those who may feel trapped in current employment. A new version of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" is needed to refresh the challenged palates of employables in 2013. Why not smile while you are taking inventory and reinventing your employable skills for hire?

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Spaghetti on the Wall
April Kelly
Woohoo Press, LLC
c/o Concierge Marketing
9780982438626 $16.95

April Kelly, who was involved in management positions for the successful internet companies of PayPal and LinkedIn, presents Spaghetti on the Wall: Branding and Networking Methods that Stick!, in both print and ebook editions. Kelly applies her expertise in both the and professional networking fields to walk readers through the sometimes confusing aspects of building a personal brand and presence, both on and off the web. "One of the first things you should be doing to establish your brand is to set yourself up as an expert in the field, and the easiest way to do this is to start with creating your own blog." Chapters especially focus on how to make the most of social media for personal branding, as well as the four critical rules of networking, and steps for selecting specific, achievable personal goals. An excellent primer for anyone trying to get their foot in the door in the professional world - especially not-so-tech-savvy career professionals who may be unfamiliar with the latest social media tools!

Lost and Found
Amy Shojai
Cool Gus Publishing
9781621250173, $11.99,

Family rushes to protect their own, and dogs can be family like anyone else. "Lost and Found" is a thriller as Aunt September, coping with her own life in shambles, rushes to aid her nephew when he disappears and only his service dog remains. Working with the dog, September uncovers a deeper and nefarious plot awaiting them and must act fast before more lives are endangered. "Lost and Found" is a fine addition to thriller collections with a family focus.

Calamity Jan and the Russian
Jan Pierson
Gypsy Shadow Publishing
9781619501065, $13.99,

A whole new world is hard to swallow when you're already more than half way through life. "Calamity Jan and the Russian" is a memoir from Jan Pierson as she shares her journey of marrying a Russian Physicist at age 61, and coming with all the new experiences that does to her and how it changed the viewpoints on her life. "Calamity Jan and the Russian" is a strong addition to memoirs touching on international experiences around the world.

The Robin Hood Chronicles
Sam Sackett
PO Box 151
Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781456013011, $24.95,

The story of Robin Hood is all too well known for many. "The Robin Hood Chronicles" is an expanded telling of the story of Robin Hood as Sam Sackett presents his own telling drawing from history and other folklore to create a more comprehensive telling of the bandit's journey. Intriguing, "The Robin Hood Chronicles" is a must for lovers of classic folklore and the Robin Hood tale.

Robert Blake Whitehill
Telemachus Press
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781938701399, $9.99

Lost treasure can hold much in the way of wonder, but it can also uncover terror. "Deadrise" is a read from Robert Blake Whitehill telling of how ex-SEAL Ben Blackshaw discovers his father's corpse along with lost treasure and a bomb that threatens the world. Blackshaw must act quick in order to diffuse the situation or else war will erupt and threaten the stability of the world as we know it. "Deadrise" is a strong pick for those who love spy based worldwide thriller.

Passing the Trash
Charles J. Hobson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478309123, $12.95,

Abuse can wreak so much havoc on our lives. "Passing the Trash: A Parent's Guide to Combat Sexual Abuse/Harassment of Their Children in School" is a guide for parents who want to help prepare their child to deal with the problems of school that can occur surrounding the nature of sex. Drawing on decades of experience on the topic and the dilemmas children can face, "Passing the Trash" is a sage addition to any parenting collection focusing on childrens mental health.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Revelation: A Discovery Together Bible Study
Sue Edwards
Kregel Publications
P. O. Box 52607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9780825443138, $12.99,

Digging Deeper - A Timely Inductive Study on the Book of Revelation

"Revelation" is one of seven inductive Bible studies available in the Discover Together Bible Study series developed by Sue Edwards. Sue is known for her gift of equipping men and women for ministry as a classroom Bible teacher, curriculum writer, and director of women's ministry at the Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas.

This study is designed for individual or group Bible study. A unique feature of the study is the downloadable free leader's guides available on their series website. Short video clips are also available on the website for viewing with a QR code for scanning from your smartphone. Each of the nine lessons is formatted for optional levels of study based on individual lifestyles and time available. These options include: Basic Questions, a short video clip, inspirational sidebars, a passage for committing to memory, and final thoughts for further meditation. The Digging Deeper questions encourage the use of additional resources; A Bible dictionary, concordance, and atlas.

Edwards concentrates her study on the first three and the last two chapters of the book of Revelation. Chapters one through three reveal the resurrected Christ in His letters to the first-century churches and chapters twenty-one and twenty-two are filled with promise as John relates Jesus' description of our final redemption, our eternal home, and the guarantee of His soon return.

"Revelation: A Discovery Together Bible Study" emphasizes a women's viewpoint; however, anyone looking for a inductive Bible study with personal application for our contemporary lifestyles, or a deeper devotional life will find the study both adaptable and practical.

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

Are You Ready? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
T. D. Jakes
Destiny Imaged Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768410082, $9.99

Facing the Facts, Meeting the Challenge, and Claiming the Message of Hope

Bestselling author and founder/pastor of Potter's House Church in highly respected internationally, interracially, and interdenominationally. He is known for his integrity as a person, sound in his message, and effective in his ministry.

"Are You Ready? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus" is filled with foundational truth, motivational in its challenge, and inspirationally in its promise. This message comes as a clarion call at a time when our nation is spiritually destitute, the church has lost its power, and the harvest is ripe for harvest.

Jakes writing is rich in scriptural teaching, filled with deep meaningful illustrations, abundant in promise, and articulate in presentation. He alerts the reader to principles of God's harvest: Those who hear the truth are without excuse; to experience life's best you need God; there is no one like God; His existence demands worship; once the seed of God is planted, nothing can alter it; and a great harvest of souls waits to be won to Christ.

The Christian is made aware of the cost and challenge of following Christ: If the master must suffer so likewise must the servant; the hand of affliction molds character; and we must stop going through the motions of religions experience.

The message of "Are You Ready?" is a reminder to the redeemed and a call to the perishing - Nothing but the blood of Jesus can bring mankind together.

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

What If...You Joined Your Dreams with the Most Amazing God
Beni Johnson and Sheri Silk
Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768403114, $15.99

Encountering God's Love - Fulfilling His Destiny

"What If...You Joined Your Dreams with the Most Amazing God" is a compilation of stirring messages from eight Bethel Redding ministry leaders, designed to encourage and motivate today's Christian women to move beyond their dreams and to allow God to empower them to live out their destiny as they fulfill God's purpose.

The pages are filled with practical illustrations common to everyday life; powerful prayers of release, affirmation, and confession; and Biblical examples to reinforce scriptural principles, exhortations, and promises.

Stimulating "What If?" questions guide the reader in areas of healing and deliverance, obedience, spiritual authority, supernatural empowerment, and spiritual warfare. Fear, anger, mood disorders, forgiveness, and raising discerning kids are all put in perspective with setting priorities and finding God's favor. Guidelines are submitted for establishing positive transparent relationships; and for living in peace, joy in the spirit, and righteousness.

There is a consistency in content, a balance of inspiration, information and heartwarming stories to illustrate each thematic message. The writing is anointed, articulate, and authoritative. The material is adaptable for use in small groups, family discussion, or for individual application. "What If?" is for anyone looking for God's best, while encountering His love, and fulfilling His purpose.

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

The Victorious Kingdom
Dr. Richard Booker
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 172567-0310
9780768441987, $16.99

A Fresh Look at the Victory of the Lamb of God - Revelation Chapters 13 - 22 Founder/Director of the Institute for Hebraic Christian Studies, Dr. Richard Booker is highly recognized as an authority for his teaching of the Hebraic roots of Christianity, Israel, and Biblical prophecy. "The Victorious Kingdom" is the third book in the Understanding the Book of Revelation series.

Dr. Booker writes from a Judeo-Christian perspective with clarity and simplicity, combining background, culture, and historical tradition, in a biblical framework using an understandable, reader friendly literary style. He explains the symbolism, allegorical passages, and the apocalyptic writing found in the book of Revelation clearly within the context in which it was written.

"The Victorious Kingdom" provides in depth study on the following teaching from the Apostle John's writing: An explanation the two false prophets; a preview of the end; the preparation and blowing of the seventh trumpet; the destruction of anti-God; one world religious and political systems; the second coming of the true Messiah; the Battle of Armageddon; the Messianic Kingdom; the New Heaven and the New Earth; and Paradise restored.

Thorough and well documented research from the scriptures and other references add to the scholarship of Dr. Booker's prophetic teaching. The practical review questions at the end of each chapter provide the reader with an added opportunity for assimilation, personal spiritual application, and group study discussion.

"The Victorious Kingdom" provides a fresh look at the victory of the Lamb of God in a comprehensive study of the book of Revelation, chapters 13 - 22 for anyone wanting a better understanding of end time teaching in light of preparing for eternal life.

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

The Miracle Landing: And Other Supernatural Encounters
Larry Welch
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768442014, $14.99

An Airline Captain Relates His Supernatural Encounters

A routine flight on a cold winter night near Houston, Texas turned into what some might call a trick of fate. Larry Welch suddenly found himself facing a life and death crisis. In flight and miles from his destination the engine of Larry's Lake Amphibian Seaplane failed.

Suspense building action race across the pages of "The Miracle Landing" as split- second timing set a miracle into motion; the "invisible hand of God" parted the rush hour traffic on Houston's Loop 610 to provide Larry a way of escape. Larry relates the story of his miracle landing as "a holy and divine moment," a supernatural encounter.

Just seven months earlier Larry had experience a miracle of another kind. Even as a child Larry had a tender heart toward things spiritual. This sensitivity continued through his high school and college years although he was not actively involved in church or any other religious activities.

Just before graduating with a degree in aeronautics, Larry sums up his college years this way, "...I pushed myself hard. I was graduating with one of the highest grade point averages and had acquired more pilot licenses and far more flight hours...than was usually completed by others."

Rather than sensing accomplishment and purpose Larry felt a deep hollowness within, a void. Something was missing. This feeling led to a radical transformation - an encounter with Jesus that forever changed his destiny, a first step in his journey of faith.

Although a great deal of the book deals with details of Larry's personal conversion experience and a positive testimony leading to an invitation for the reader to become a follower of Christ, Larry writes without sermonizing or espousing any religious denomination's beliefs or teachings

"The Miracle Landing" also looks into Larry's career of 36 years as an airline pilot. In 2011, Larry faced yet another divine encounter which resulted in his taking an early retirement from American Airlines to respond to God's "summons" to share the gospel of Christ through his story.

Welch writes with sensitivity, a careful balance of scripture, instruction, and personal insights. A unique story, well-written, highly recommended.

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

Branding Pays
Karen Kang
Branding Pays Media
855 El Camino Real, Suite, 13A-157
Palo Alto, CA 94301-2326
9780988437517, $ 24.95,

The Branding Journey - Steps to Reinvent Your Personal Brand

"Branding Pays: The Five Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand" is highly endorsed by sales and marketing gurus, personal and team coaches, educators, corporate executives, and finance officers. I only wish I Karen Kang's book was available five years ago when I begin to consider the process of reinventing my personal brand.

Throughout the book Karen focuses on: The concept of personal branding, positioning opportunities, messaging, brand strategy, leverage, building your action plan, social media, and getting started.

Karen carefully weaves a personal branding success story throughout the book to illustrate the natural progression and sequence for effectively applying her Five Step Action Plan.

The chapter summaries, action lists, brand improvement templates, and comprehensive index all add value to the lasting value of this must read manual on reinventing and building a successful career. Other important features include sample brand strategy platforms, leverage, and the Ecosystem Model.

Karen is a pacesetter the field of personal branding. She is articulate, on the cutting edge, and gifted in the area of communication. "Branding Pays: The Five Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand" is destined to become the classic guidebook for reinventing a personal brand. Highly recommended.

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

Tragedy to Truth: A Story of Faith and Transformation
Casey Cease
Lucid Books
c/o Transform Ministries
909 W. Main Street, Brenham, TX 77833
9781935909613, $11.99,

In "An Authentic Testimony of Tragedy, Faith, and Transformation", author Casey Cease opens his heart as he relates the story of how God transformed his life of emptiness, anxiety, dark depression, insecurity and self-centeredness to a life of faith, ordained to bring the message of God's grace, and the redemptions available through Jesus Christ. Anger, alcohol, and angst triggered a response in Casey that ended in a horrible car accident that took the life of a friend. On this July Day in 1995, Casey was just 17 years old, ready to begin his senior year in high school, a promising future ahead.

"Tragedy to Truth" is divided into two parts. Part one covers Casey's life story from birth to his conversion, in which he details the events leading up to the accident, and the guilt and hopelessness that followed. Part two describes the hope that Casey found in many areas of his life through his tragedy.

In the years since the accident Casey has traveled throughout the country openly sharing his testimony of God's grace and power to save, while warning teens of the peril of driving and drinking. He presents an honest appraisal of the emotional roller coaster of his adolescent and teen years. He openly tells of his loneliness, insecurity and desperate search for affirmation, acceptance, and friendship.

"Tragedy to Truth" is written from a pastor's heart with a passion and burden to offer hope and peace to broken individuals who may think they are beyond forgiveness. He shares his own story, of how he has been redeemed by Jesus Christ through the unmerited grace of God's love.

Casey writes with a genuine concern for his reader. The probing thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter are evidence of his keen spiritual understanding. The questions are designed to stimulate personal reflection or small group discussion leading to an honest deliberation that will result in personal application, and life changing action.
A dramatic and compelling story of redemption and healing.

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

Messianic Jewish Shared Heritage Bible
The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Project
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403176, $69.99

A Groundbreaking New Translation for Modern Jewish Believers, the unique purpose of this revolutionary new translation is to convey a world view of the Jewish Messiah and to communicate a message of being one in His love.

The translation uses Jewish Messianic terms which add a new significance and understanding to the scriptures, an approach for teaching Jewish culture which will help the reader understand the significance and magnitude of the Messianic message as well as provide contemporary insights into the ancient Hebrew manuscripts. It also helps the modern-day Christian to relate to the Jewish roots of the faith and to learn more of the culture and traditions of the Jewish people.

The reader will get a clearer understanding of how Yeshua's (Jesus') teaching is directly from the Torah. The use of Hebraic titles sets this translation apart of other popular contemporary translations available today.

An impressive selection of 24 illustrations from original Jewish artwork adds another dimension and reinforces the interpretation of selected passages. Other important features include the: Hebraic glossary, Sabbath prayers, Jewish reading cycle, map of Israel, and cross referencing footnotes.

The scholarly approach will stimulate the professional theologian and member of academia while the clarity and simplicity of the translation will make this a popular choice of the Christian layman, the Messianic Jew pursuing a study of the scriptures, and other Jews looking into Messianic teaching.

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

TLV Psalms with Commentary
Commentary by Dr. Jeffrey Seif, Dr. Glenn Blank, and Paul Wilbur
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768403183, $ 17.99

A Commentary on the Book of Psalms from the TLV Hebrew Bible

Dr. Jeffrey Seif, Dr. Glenn Blank, and Paul Wilbur capture the historical background, the traditional values, and inspirational intent that transcend man's wisdom as they point to the divine author of the scriptures through their insight in in this Tree of Life Version of the Psalms with Commentary. Their commentary is designed to help today's reader get a fresh insight into how early Christians were drawn into worship Yeshua as the risen Lord.

Modern Messianic believers in the Jewish community are given a sense of connection back to their Jewish roots in faith building through the poetic images and contemporary insight, created through the use of the pattern of parallelism used in Hebrew poetry to build up a stronger emphasis on a concept or truth.

The commentators skillfully draw attention to the ebb and flow of feelings, through their insight into the Psalms, which bring life changing healing, a source of encouragement, and comfort to their analysis.

"The TLV Psalms with Commentary" is a rich and important resource, opening new vistas into understanding Hebrew heritage as revealed by the Holy One of Israel, who breathed these words into the hearts of the psalmists.

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

Let's Eat
Dr. J. Renae Norton
Illustrated by: Steve Hayes
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
9781934759615, $ 17.95,

Learning what it means to Eat Clean.

"Let's Eat" is the second in the Maji and Mongo Series written by Dr. J. Renae Norton, clinical psychologist and director of the Norton Center for Eating Disorders. The series is designed to provide children with an understanding of the importance of learning how to develop a healthy lifestyle.

Maji and Mongo represent individuals with differing preferences. Maji helps Mongo discover healthier foods and health habits that lead to a growing up stronger. Norton uses a rhyming lyrical writing style that is a favorite of the young reader. Steve Hayes' imaginative illustrations reinforce the message of the story as it unfolds.

Children are quickly attracted to the friendliness of the Maji and Mongo characters. The valuable information and pointers for parents and sound teaching techniques resonate with parents and educators.

The Maji and Mongo series is fast becoming a favorite with children and parents. In a day when childhood obesity is taking on epidemic proportions "Let's Eat" is an important book for the Children's section in every school and public library. The attractive illustrations, quality binding, and positive message make the book ideal for gift giving. Parents and children will both want to get all of the books in the series.

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

Jared's Path
Barbara M. Schuck
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403
97814797508, $15.99,

Overpowering the Obstacles - Traveling Together on Jared's Path - An Amazing Journey of Courage and Persistence

Barbara M. Schuck details the lessons she learned while traveling together with her special needs son along "Jared's Path." This amazing journey of love, courage, and persistence is written to "let others know what we went through, or what we are still going through" and to give others hope and encouragement in their journey as a caregiver of a child with special needs.

The story opens with an account of Barbara's pregnancy, the excitement of her son's birth, and the medical trials that followed. Jared has experienced digestive problems, generalized seizures, respiratory distress, cerebral palsy, cataracts, atypical autism, and bone fractures, and all before he was four years old.

As a licensed and experienced foster care provider and Certified Nurse Assistant Barbara has helped other parents with their special child as she shares lessons she has learned while helping Jared.

Through Jared's story Barbara shares her concern that:

Every child should have the chance to be happy and have the best quality of life possible.
Every child needs unconditional love.
I want to give others hope and encouragement and to stay on a positive path.

Barbara chronicles the trials and miracles of Jared's growing up years with an open candidness that is both heartwarming and haunting. Today Jared is becoming a young man. His story is awe-inspiring and challenging a reminder to the reader that life is a precious gift.

Beautiful Battlefields
Bo Stern
P. O. Box 35001
Colorado Springs, CO 80935
9781612913193, $14.99,

Doing Battle with Goliath in the Fight Against Terminal Illness

In her book "Beautiful Battlefields" Bo Stern, a teaching pastor at Westside Church in Bend, Oregon, relates how broken and sobbing she cried out to God looking for His love on the day following the news that Steve, her 45 year old husband, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. This is their story of an unexpected journey, of discover in the battleground, and the strategies they discovered for facing each new trial.

The book is divided into two parts. Part one focuses on "Discovering Beauty in the Hard Places." Part two goes on to provide "Strategies for Growing Stronger through Every Battle."

Bo writes for people that are facing illness, loss, or loneliness; for anyone asking the question, "Why did you let this happen to me, God? Or, for the one asking, "How can I turn this trial (battle) into something positive?" Bo is a gifted communicator; she helps the reader develop God sized faith to meet the size of their battle.

Thoughtful and practical thoughts "Worth Pondering" are included in each chapter for reflection or discussion. These profound concepts lead to meaningful suggestion for action steps "Worth Doing" while finding God's love in the midst of personal trials.

Rich in scriptural truth, practical insights, and heartwarming examples, "Beautiful Battlefields" is filled with encouragement, genuine concern, based on the reality of experiencing God through personal battles of suffering and uncertainty.

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

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

My First Murder
Leena Lehtolainen
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612184371 $14.95,

Leena Lehtolainen hails from Vesanto, Finland. She was born to a literary family who encouraged her, and by the age of ten she began her writing career. By age twelve she had published her first book for young adults. Leena enjoys classical singing, figure skating, and her cats. She is a skating journalist and her articles are published in TAITOLUISTELU, a Finnish skating magazine. MY FIRST MURDER is the first of her bestselling Maria Kallio series to be translated into English by Owen F. Witesman, a professional literary translator, specializing in Finnish novels.

Maria Kallio is a young detective doing a stint in the Helsinki Police Detective's Violent Crimes Unit, while she decides whether she would prefer finishing a law degree. Her boss is alcoholic, and she finds herself elected as the lead detective in an apparent murder. The trouble is, she knows the victim and the suspects from college days:

"During my first year of law school I had lived in a cramped student apartment in Itakeskus, near the mall on the east side of the city. My roommates had quarreled constantly because one of them spent half of her time at home singing. At times a whole quartet could be found harmonizing in Jaana's room, with Jaana's boyfriend singing bass. Tommi Peltonen was a dreamboat - eyes like Paul Newman and a face deeply tanned from many yachting excursions."

Lehtolainen gives the reader a glimpse of modern day Helsinki, and the parallels to America are stark. Kallio is an intriguing heroine, both because of her brilliant intellect, as well as her obvious heart. She is the kind of police officer who anyone in trouble would like to respond to an emergency call. She develops the grit she needs as the novel progresses to solve the crime. At the same time, Lehtolainen does an excellent job of completely fooling the reader in this whodunit. Little wonder that she is a bestseller.

A Grave Waiting
Jill Downie
2250 Military Road
Tonawanda, NY 14150
9781459706361, $11.99,

Jill Downie is a multi-award winner for her books, which include five historical novels, A PASSIONATE PEN, winner of the Drummer General's Award by Richard Bachmann of A Different Drummer Series, and STORMING THE CASTLE, winner of the Hamilton and Region Arts Council Literary Award for Non-fiction. DAGGERS AND MEN'S SMILES is the first Moretti/Falla title in the present series, published in 2011.

Set in the St. Peter Port Harbor on the Channel Island of Guernsey, England, no one would ever foresee a murder in this sleepy town. But towns change, and arms dealer Bernard Masterson is found shot on his luxury craft Just Desserts. His crew is as shady as he is, with the glamorous and mysterious Adele Letourneau and a bodyguard who is obviously part of the underworld. But, why here? Why now? It is Detective Inspector Ed Moretti and Detective Sergeant Liz Falla's job to figure out the connections. Strange characters jump out of the woodwork, and the Moretti/Falla team has to dig for every tidbit:

"'There, right there. Hold it.'
Time and Lady Coralee Fellowes stood still.
'She's throwing something into the water, Guv - she took it from her bag. It's a bit hidden by the boat, but let's see - I think it's a gun.' Liz Falla's deep voice rose an octave."

There's something innately spooky about mysteries set in harbor towns. It's so easy to hide things, and Jill Downie uses this as a vehicle in this lusciously hidden mystery. She plays her cards close to the vest, so to speak, and employs music... that is, jazz, as another vehicle to add to the noir feel of this timeless mystery. Characters are glamorous, talent is everywhere, and like the ubiquitous cigarette in movies, murder and water set the tone.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Veronica Bains
Moonleaf PUblishing,LLC
PO Box 4909, Palm Springs, CA 92263
978937700089, $14.95,

In this exciting adventure, mystery read by author, Veronica Bains, we meet Alicia, a young woman from Mexico who has made her way into the United States. She is in America trying to make money to help her family back home, who are in dire need. I immediately liked Alicia, the author did a great job in developing her character. It hasn't been easy for her from the get-go, many take advantage of her youth and situation, but she is determined to carry out her plan knowing how desperate her family needs her support.

Unexpectedly, we see someone wants her dead and will stop at nothing until they accomplish this, but who and why? Alicia does not know of anyone who would want to kill her. As the story continues, soon it appears it's not just her whom they are after as several of her past friends are murdered, but why? She is taken under the wings of two detectives, Carlos and George. These two characters definitely give a comic side to a chilling mystery as they interact with each other. Our author does an excellent job of bringing the personal vein of their lives into the story, good job. Together, the threesome gather clues, travel to several states, and battle evil people to find out the truth and stop the killer before Alicia becomes his next victim.

I really liked this read. It took me a little bit for it to take hold of me, but when it did I could not put it down. The characters ranged from mysterious to comical, dangerous to like-able, all merging into a mysterious fog, filled with more questions than answers as the race is on to find the killer before he finds Alicia. I definitely liked how Ms Bains hid so many of the answers to so many questions throughout the story until you finally find out who and why. I highly recommend, Cat. It has all the elements you are looking for in a great mystery read, with some comic relief that is a welcome surprise. Excellent! Enjoy!

The Bear Facts
K.A. Meade & A.M.Meade
Forest Meadow Publishing
9780956894991, $7.99,

I want to start this review by commenting on the illustrations of this adorable book, "The Bear Facts." I have seen a lot of illustrations in my years of reviewing, but the ones in this book definitely caught my eye. Of course it is filled with bears, but what I was captured with is the expressions of them that so brought to life the words you were reading. The story, using each letter of the alphabet for the named bears was exceptional, and will make you giggle as you are introduced to the many colorful, different bears. You have, just to name a few, Fair Bears, Just There Bears, and Scare Bears, each with a mini explanation of their Bear job. I especially loved the Hair Bears and the illustrations that went with them.

Listen, there are lots of alphabet story books out there, but this one definitely stands above the rest. The letter of the alphabet that is being used is in bright read so your child will immediately notice it. What a fun way to teach your little one, a learning experience that is sure to bring some giggles and smiles. Recommended. .

The Corner Window
Darrel Rachel
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456546847, $10.99,

We never know what may await us as we step out in life and open ourselves to something new, as our main character, Frank Baldwin, found out in "The Corner Window."

Frank's life had been somewhat hard, his mother and father divorced, he struggled to finish his last year in school and was determined to step out on his own. Taking a job to do some work for a wealthy man on his ocean front home, Frank finds himself captivated by a mysterious young woman he meets. In the short time he is there, Frank tastes first love, but will that love be bitter sweet?

I enjoyed this read, it has several elements that will keep you interested. The character of Frank was well played out. He was a young man who struggled between throwing everything to the wind in pursuit of love, or trying to prove himself as a stand alone man. The author did a good job allowing you to experience, his failures and his victories. The mystery with the young lady and her family, who lived next to the home where Frank was staying and working, definitely added to the story. However, I think it needed to be developed a little more, perhaps giving more play to these characters and more interaction with Frank. This isn't a page turner mystery book, but more a story showing the struggle of youth as they pursue life in the adult world, and taste the bittersweet nectar of love.

Charlie Bubbles
Paul Carafotes
Illustrated by Jeff Vernon
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480263345, $12,95,

In this delightful tale we meet Charlie, a little boy who has the talent of making big bubbles with his tongue. One day his bubble got the attention of two bees, Mean Bee and Honey Bee. Charlie is frightened by the bees and blows a giant bubble so big he can go inside. Charlie travels in his bubble and meets several new friends. First is a squirrel who is also afraid and hides in a pumpkin, his name is Paulie Pumpkin. He also meets a Teddy Bear, who was thrown away. Together they go on a short adventure until danger approaches as they encounter Mean Bee who wants to hurt them. Should he stay with his friends or quickly go home? Here Charlie sees true unselfish friendship from his new friends as the decision is made.

Our author, Paul Carafotes pens a delightful tale. Blowing bubbles with ones tongue is definitely exploring imagination and should stir that up in a child. He adds some elements of life in the adventure, meaness and kindness, along with friendship and caring. The illustrations are very well done, colorful, popping out at you and definitely helping to bring the story alive. A very cute tale that young and old will enjoy sharing.

Alphabet Anatomy: Meet The Capital Letters
Linda Ann Jones and Branson Jones
Friesen Press
Suite 300-852 Fort Street
Victoria, BC Canada V8W 1H8
9781460200476, $17.99

Colorful, bright and drawing are the three words I would use concerning the cover of this outstanding children's book. Truly an important factor when you are dealing with children and trying to grab their attention. Yes, this cover definitely does that.

Inside they will find some very different, yet delightful characters as they are introduced to the Capital Letters of our alphabet. Drawn, big and bold, each letter is introduced to them and corresponds with a word that begins with that letter, each beginning letter capitalized. My favorite is K for Kite, as we see the letter K holding and flying her Kite. Very cute! This book gives the children example after example of each letter capitalized and a corresponding picture bringing it to life. It's a great book that is sure to help your young one understand when to use caps, their shape and also how they sound in use. I recommend this book and believe it will be a building block in your child's development of learning.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Richard N. Shapiro
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432797003 $8.95

Faceplant: Chronicles of Facebook's True Tales & Epic Fails lives up to its title with a hilarious array of best-of (and worst-of!) vignettes from Facebook. Silly black-and-white thumbnail-sketch avatars accompany these wacky misfired quotes, interspersed with wry commentary by author Richard Shapiro. "Having Mom at your graduation is great. Having Mom on Facebook where she can attack your friends... not so great. Maybe rules need to be established for our parents about crack backs on our 'friends' before something confrontational and irreversible happens. Facebook has unlocked the impulsiveness of parents, and they have discovered that with just one click of the mouse they can mortify, embarrass and, in some cases, act just as immature as their children." Faceplant makes a great casual gift for friends or family, especially those who have just discovered the addictive qualities of the Facebook website!

Hell No, You Can't!
Herb Altman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470087296, $14.95,

America is wrecked by political division. "Hell No, You Can't!: The Roots of Political Extremism, What, Why, and How to Combat" discusses the current political climate of the United States as Herb Altman rages against the abuses mainly focused towards the American right and what it has done in exploitation of the country, as well as thoughts on religion and international affairs. "Hell No, You Can't!" is worth considering for those seeking a collection of opinionated politics.

Little Women in India
Jane Nardin
New Dawn Publishers
9781908462077, $10.99,

A touch of being in someone else's shoes will make their plight all the more clear. "Little Women in India" is a historical novel following the breakout of a rebellion in India and four daughters of colonialists forced to retreat to a tribal village. During their time, they will see the impact of British rule in India, and learn much about life and justice. "Little Women in India" is a thoughtful read with plenty of twists and turns, very much recommended reading.

The Saga of Sally Lunns
Alwyn Dow
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466966635, $12.66,

Taking a life in law enforcement requires many sacrifices from one's life. "The Saga of Sally Lunns" is novel from Alwyn Dow who tells the chronicles of Avon/Somerset Police officer Sue Parker, who copes with the impact that she faces as she rises up through the forces and around the world, coping with the mix of career and life along the way. "The Saga of Sally Lunns" is an enticing addition to any internationally-focused mystery and thriller collection.

Verbal Snacks
Nancy S. Sims
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468020083, $12.00,

Life has many different angles, bits and pieces all along the way. "Verbal Snacks" is a collection of short fiction from Nancy S. Sims who brings on an assortment of short fiction touching on the many types of lives we live and present them from many a perspective of walks of life. With a touch of humor and poignancy about life, "Verbal Snacks" is a fine collection, highly recommended.

The Three Year Lie
Amber Walter
Privately Published
9780985854508, $15.95 print / $9.99 Kindle,

Our awakening to the darkness of the world can be sudden and surprising. "The Three Year Lie" is a salacious fictional memoir; author Amber Walter writes of Brooklynne Crown and her relentless drive. Brooklynne struggles to find out who she really is in the sights of the world; engulfed in lust, she can't decide if she truly feels love for a senator's father. "The Three Year Lie" is a riveting twist of passionately charged fiction, not to be missed.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Labyrinth of Life
Stefanos S. Sifandos
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100
Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781452547947 $30.95

The Labyrinth of Life is an inspirational and contemplative book. Each two-page spread features a captivating, full-color photograph of people, natural landscapes, or animals on the right page, and a thought-provoking message on the left page. For example, an image of a tenacious plant growing from a stray clump of earth in the desert is paired with the words, "You will never achieve if you never act; you may never be if you never do. Most importantly, you shall never truly know if you never truly seek..." The Labyrinth of life is truly beautiful, an excellent focal point to aid in meditation, and makes a wonderful gift for any event.

Morning Crafts
Tito Perdue
Released on May 1, 2013
9781907166570, $19.95,

Education can appear in the most bizarre of places. "Morning Crafts" follows teenager Leland Pefley as he is led into the forests to a strange academy in the forests. Led by a group who wants to stand against the cultural degradation of society, Leland will be bombarded with classical education for as long as he wants to be. "Morning Crafts" is an intriguing novel, worth considering.

Gerald Cislon
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469184890, $19.99,

Our dreams tie us into our pasts and hint at our future. "Spies" is is a novel of what we treasure into the past and the bonds we form with those around us by giving good heart and living on many levels. A spiritual read that creates many twists on the nature of life and living, "Spies" is a fine pick, not to be overlooked.

Lord R. Benson
9781780883663, $16.95,

A minor slip up may land you deep in international intrigue. "iPlot" is a thriller following a mistaken slip up of mixed up iPads, which drags Derek and Beth into a political intrigue plot which submerges them deep into dangerous situation where people are dying and they may be next. Turning an innocuous mix up into a serious situation, "iPlot" is a riveting thriller that will entice and excite, not to be missed.

The One-Minute Zillionaire
Lowell T. Christensen
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470177928, $14.95,

Success can come instantly if you're willing to wait. "The One-Minute Zillionaire: Achieve Wealth, Fame, and Success in an Instant" is an inspirational read from Lowell T. Christensen who advises readers on how to push themselves towards greater success, mocking the paths many have used in order to get rich quick, bringing humor to the table offering a vital ingredient of humility to the formula. "The One-Minute Zillionaire" brings plenty to consider for motivational and self-help collections, highly recommended.

Brendan Shannon
Lincolnshire Press
9780615650579, $14.49,

Love can hurt when it fails to be realized. "Unrequited" is a novel of facing those harsh events as John Moran tries to cope with the loss of an old love whom he never told how he felt. The lingering carries multiple ill effects, that manifest as pain. "Unrequited" is a somber story of heartbreak's inner darkness, a fascinating novel with much to consider.

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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