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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 5 May 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cynthia's Bookshelf

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Eric Schlosser
ISBN 0060938455 $14.95 400 pages

Very Highly Recommended

When a friend called to recommend that I read FAST FOOD NATION, she warned that I would find it virtually impossible to work in the industry again. She was right. Author Eric Schlosser presents an in-depth account of the companies and people who make double cheeseburgers possible. However, readers beware. After reading FAST FOOD NATION, you will never again be able to pull through a drive through with casual oblivion to what you eat or who servers you.

While Schlosser presents an excellent account of the stresses of working in fast food from the slaughter houses to the back line assembly, the one thing he fails to emphasize is the stresses on the managers of fast food. In Hardee's, for example, restaurant managers only get their salary if they work fifty hour weeks. Since managers are required to wear headsets while on duty, that means fifty hours of the drive through dinging in one's ears, even while serving customers at the front counter. Since fast food also makes up its labor out of management, that also means that the restaurant manager is either bagging food or working the drive through in addition to the rest of her responsibilities. Indeed, one manager and one cook (a total of only two employees) can run the entire restaurant for ten hours a day. Nevertheless, Schlosser does mention a pizza manager who makes $22,000 a year for a fifty-hour week. That's about the average pay scale, including bonuses, for restaurant managers (not general managers).

Perhaps the most traumatic accounts of the fast food industry do not lie, however, in the endless drudgery of drive through, but in the slaughterhouses across the Midwest. As independent ranching practices give way to major corporations, the displaced lives seldom find voice. Schlosser does an excellent job of combining the facts with the faces that makes this tragedy real. From men who have given their lives or their health out of company loyalty or the need to feed their families, to the women who have sharpen their carving knives while preparing the family dinner, each account springs vividly from the pages.

FAST FOOD NATION is a must read for everyone. With the mobile lifestyle most of us have adapted, eliminating fast food from one's diet would be virtually impossible. However, if consumers are going to continue to eat those delicious cheeseburgers and calorie defying meals, then they should be aware of what they consume and at what cost. Knowledge is power, and the necessary changes that must come to this industry will only occur if we educate ourselves and make the appropriate demands for ourselves as consumers. Extremely well written, well presented, and impossible to put down, FAST FOOD NATION comes very highly recommended.

My Favorite Mistake
Stephanie Bond
3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269
ISBN 0373791739 $4.75 250 pages

Very Highly Recommended

A tax audit brings Denise Cooke and her ex-husband Redford back together. Three years were not enough to make her forget his logic defying effect, and she fears that seeing him again will once again awaken her best-forgotten wild side. Certainly their brief time together in Los Vegas was proof enough that she was incapable of maintaining her ordinary logic where Redford Demoss is concerned. While their marriage lasted long enough to file taxes together, their subsequent annulment prevented any further contact until now.

Denise has never told current boyfriend about her first husband. While their relationship lacks the vivid spark that characterized her relationship with Redmond, it is stable, comfortable and predictable. After two years of mild courtship, she accepts his proposal just before she must see Redford again. And while the conclusion of this story might seem rather inevitable given the genre, the humor, levity and delight of the journey makes MY FAVORITE MISTAKE a delightful read.

Author Stephanie Bond pens a vividly refreshing romance in MY FAVORITE MISTAKE. Perhaps her own past corporate world lends the fabulously entertaining heroine her convincing charm. While Ms Bond's background is computing and Denise Cooke's is financials, the commonality of the carefully controlled office experience lends the novel a crisp reality while sensual temptation gives Denise an even more convincing edge. From the running of the brides and Denise's ongoing eBay bid to get her dress back, to the sensual temptation of the hunky former marine, Ms Bond's deft, first person narrative departs from Harlequin's usual narrative style. Indeed, MY FAVORITE MISTAKE certainly illustrates the author's gift for weaving original, brilliant romance that readers find impossible to put down. MY FAVORITE MISTAKE comes highly recommended.

Cynthia Penn, Senior Reviewer

Donovan's Bookshelf

San Francisco's Market Street Railway
Walt Vielbaum, Philip Hoffman, Grant Ute, Robert Townley
Arcadia Publications
0738529672 $19.99

While intended for the San Francisco history buff, SAN FRANCISCO'S MARKET STREET RAILWAY, is sure to be relished by any urban traction fan: packed with clear vintage black and white shots of various incarnations of the Market Street Railway, chapters provide a wonderful overview of San Francisco's transit challenges over the decades. From central Market Street outward, changes from additions to subtractions of San Francisco and surrounding city trolley lines are detailed, with each photo receiving not only a descriptive sentence, but explanation of why it was important, expanded or discontinued. It's these extensive notes, tied to the vintage shots, which make for such an important coverage: this, and the attention to including historically significant yet clear, sharp photos.

Admiral Sir Henry Morgan
Terry Breverton
Pelican Publishing
1000 Burmaster St., Gretna, LA 70053-2246
1589802772 $14.95 1-800-843-1724

Welshman Henry Morgan began as a naval officer, but made his reputation as a fierce pirate - a reputation challenged in the first libel lawsuit brought into protect a book about him published in 1684 claiming he was a terror of the high seas. In fact, he'd been commissioned to help the British navy fighting enemies of the crown and proved his worth as a military strategist on the high seas, and Welsh history expert Terry Breverton provides this full account of Morgan's myths and realities in his lively biography ADMIRAL SIR HENRY MORGAN: KING OF THE BUCCANEERS. Chapters review his leadership, his heroic struggles, and his ability to plan attacks which would ensure British supremacy abroad. An unusual, lively read.

Discovering Lewis & Clark From the Air
Joeph A. Mussulman & Jim Wark
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
087842489X $24.00 1-800-234-5308

So many Lewis and Clark books have appeared in celebration of the anniversary that it's initially difficult to see the need for yet another - that is, until you open the pages to discover aerial photographer Jim Wark and history buff Joseph Mussulman have provided a very different view. The Lewis and Clark expedition route is followed from the air, accompanied by step-by-step discussion of their route choices and explorations in a fascinating, visually pleasing survey.

10 E. 53rd St., New York NY 10022-5299

Students of plague history, whether it be from a social or a medical perspective, receive a hard-hitting history which stands out from other studies on the subject in John Kelly's THE GREAT MORTALITY: AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF THE BLACK DEATH, THE MOST DEVASTATING PLAGUE OF ALL TIME (0060006927 $25.95) . In 1347 the plague literally sailed into Sicily, and would change the face of Europe and Asia, introducing an unprecedented killer disease affecting not just people, but animals. From its beginnings in central Asia to its movement across Europe, the Black Death seemed to destroy virtually any living thing it touched - and the drama and are captured in a vivid narrative which brings the facts to life in THE GREAT MORTALITY. Rosemary Gong's GOOD LUCK LIFE: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CHINESE AMERICAN CELEBRATIONS AND CULTURE (0060735368, $14.95) is the first to delve into Chinese rituals and beliefs, and the insights to be had from Chinese holidays and celebrations. Facts, legends, foods and planning guides cover all holidays and rituals year-round and pack in recipes for many specialty items. A fun title, GOOD LUCK LIFE is especially recommended for any planning a special Chinese celebration.

O'Reilly & Associates
1005 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, CA 95472

These outstanding desktop references should not only be standard public library acquisitions, but should be in the home libraries of every avid computer user. David A. Karp, Tim O'Reilly and Troy Mott's WINDOWS XP IN A NUTSHELL: A DESKTOP QUICK REFERENCE (0596009003, $29.95) appears in its second updated edition to provide both an in-depth and quick desk reference to the Windows operating system. So what's there to know about it? Everything, from configuring Service Pack 2 to understanding special commands and utilities and custom configuration options for the XP system. But, the information doesn't stop with a system review alone: tips on how to build a wireless home network, connecting to the Internet using various options, and more make WINDOWS XP IN A NUTSHELL an outstanding reference choice. Ditto Mark H. walker 7 Franklin Tessler's OFFICE 2004 FOR MACINTOSH: THE MISSING MANUAL (0596008201, $29.95): here's an Office 2004 for Mac user's guide which isn't the authorized book - and which therefore offers candid assessments of the pros and cons, ins and outs of using a Mac system with Office 2004. Advice ranges from fine-tuning the system for optimum performance to getting around common frustrations, and understanding which features are fluff and which are truly valuable. Jesse Liberty's PROGRAMMING C# (0596006993, $44.95) is a recommended technical pick for any developing applications on the .NET platform: such users will find this fourth edition of C# provides professionals with all the details needed to absorb the language, concepts, and applications. From objects and interfaces to handling strings, expressions and bugs, C# users receive a foundation of hard facts which lend to building a solid C# platform - and all text has been updated for Visual Studio 2005, .NET Framework 2.0 and C# 2.0. Two Linux operating system guides are also essential programmer references. Administrators will welcome Tony Bautts, Terry Dawson and Gregor N. Purdy's LINUX NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR'S GUIDE, 3RD EDITION (0596005482, $34.5), a guide packed with the basics important to network and system administration. Networking hardware and software, utilities, and new coverage of Apache, Samba and other services provides the latest details on wired and wireless applications, from initial configuration to troubleshooting. Jonathan Crobet, Alessandro Rubini and Greg Kroah-Hartman's LINUX DEVICE DRIVERS (0596006903, $39.95) also appears in its third updated edition to provide the latest update for any who wish to run new hardware under Linux. Linux kernal programming is at the heart of a title which reveals the basics of Unix system calls and C - but users needn't be hardcore programmers to find useful topics such as driver debugging, memory management, and driver models. Bonnie Biafore's QUICKBOOKS 2005: THE MISSING MANUAL (0596009011, $29.95) presents all the ins, out, and oddities of the latest Quickbooks version. Chapters show how to make unattended, automated backups, how to customize inventory and purchasing forms, how to reconcile accounts and track time - basically, how to fine-tune the entire QuickBooks experience. Preston Gralla's WINDOWS XP HACKS: TIPS & TOOLS FOR OPTIMIZING YOUR OS (0596009186, $29.95) appears in its second updated edition to cover SP 2, revealing both wireless hacks and Firefox, MSN desktop search and more. Everything from encryption to using email is covered. Customguide's WORD 2003 PERSONAL TRAINER (0596009364, $29.95) uses interactive simulation software (included with the book) to replicate the experience of using Word 2003. From working with graphics and tables to creating outlines and performing a mail merge, all the bells and whistles of Word are revealed in a course designed for Word users who wish to refine their skills set. Organized in a 'workout' fashion, the software training guide will find many a classroom application as well as individual study value. Fine references, all.

Orchard Books
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999

For an old-fashioned story of yesteryear, tune in to James Mayhew's KATIE'S SUNDAY AFTERNOON (0439606780, $16.95), following young Katie's visit to an art museum on a hot summer day, where a painting of a group of swimmers in a cool river prompts her to dive - right into the painting. The ensuing flood could ruin the art museum unless Katie can take quick action. Boys will appreciate Alexander Zane's WHEELS ON THE RACE CAR (0439590809, $14.95), following the chaotic action on an animal-driven racetrack which matches a classic rhyme with uncommon action. Real race car drama is captured with zany animal racers in a whimsical, fun story. Elizabeth Swados' THE ANIMAL RESCUE STORE (0439554764, $16.95) receives fun drawings by Anne Wilson as it tells of tough tabby cats, snooty llamas, and frightening tarantulas: all hard creatures to rescue, and all given their own rhymes by Swados along with colorful drawings. Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken's THE QUILT MAKERS JOURNEY (0439512190, $17.95) tells of a young girl who leaves home in search of the meaning of happiness outside her village. Instead, her search shows her there are less fortunate people in the world - and that she can help them. A lovely fable which will benefit from parental read-aloud - as will Philip Pullman's ALADDIN AND THE ENCHANTED LAMP (0439692555, $16.95), illustrated with many full-page drawings by Sophy Williams and requiring good reading skills or parental assistance as it tells of a poor mischief-maker and lazy boy whose encounter with enchantment changes his life. Caroline Jayne Church's ONE SMART GOOSE (0439687659, $16.95) is an easy reader requiring little adult assistance as it tells of a sneaky fox who chases all the geese except one. What's the lonely little goose's anti-fox secret? Paeony Lewis' NO MORE COOKIES! (0439683327, $16.95) receives Brita Granstrom's fun drawings and tells of the bottom of the cookie tin - and a girl and her stuffed monkey's plans to get more cookies. Florence invents zany ways to get more; but her mother has eually zany lesson plans. Jon J. Muth's ZEN SHORTS (0439339111, $16.95) will require some reading skills or parental assistance but provides an engaging, unusual story of a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing stories. Lovely watercolors accompany a host of engaging tales. Jane Wattenberg's NEVER CRY WOOF! (0439216753, $16.95) retells a tale of bragging, boasting, and lying, reviving an Aesop fable with new puns, rhymes, and dog photos mixed with fun reflections. An excellent and fresh new treatment of an old fable. Richard Jesse Watson's THE MAGIC RABBIT (0590479644, $15.95) tells the winning story of an unusual rabbit who discovers a hat can be powered by his own imagination. The rabbit becomes a magician and the hat becomes a flurry of activity in this fun tale of magic exploration. Nancy Tafuri's GOODNIGHT, MY DUCKLING (0439398819, $16.95) tells of a mama duck who leads her tired kids home for the night. One feisty duckling lags beyond to play with the pond animals, only to find he's been left behind: how can he catch up? THE RED BIRD by Astrid Lindgren and Marit Tornqvist (0439627966, $16.95) comes from the creator of PIPPI LONGSTOCKING and provides a fine picturebook story of two children who live with the sternest farmer in the village. The kids are overworked and friendless until a lovely red bird leads them to a beautiful haven: they can stay forever, if they make a terrible choice. Good reading skills required from grades 3-5 for appreciation of this complex yet winning tale.

'Visual Dictionary' titles
Jean-Claude Corbell & Ariane Archambault
Firefly Books
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880

Yes, you've seen visual dictionary titles before: but not like these. Bilingual users will find these exceptional references for both home and library alike, packing in thousands of terms in English and other languages accompanied by clear color photos. THE FIREFLY SPANISH/ENGLISH VISUAL DICTIONARY (1552979512, $29.95) provides over three thousand color pictures illustrating the meaning of 28,000 Spanish and English terms, its FRENCH/ENGLISH VISUAL DICTIONARY (1552979504, $29.95) does the same for French, showing what other dictionaries can only describe with more limited language; and the amazing FIVE LANGUAGE VISUAL DICTIONARY (1552977781, $49.95) packs in over 35,000 terms in English, Spanish, German, French and Italian for maximum coverage. All are outstanding, highly recommended references linking visuals to words.

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

Greenwood's references are highly recommended picks for both high school and college-level libraries: they cover major religious figures, offer comprehensive histories of movements and religions, and are solid and in-depth references suitable for reports and study. Holdings strong in Catholic studies have three references to choose from among Greenwood's latest publications: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CATHOLIC LITERATURE (0313322899, $199.95) analyzes over 70 major works from around the world, using two volumes to survey male and female writers, minority writers, and any major contributors to exploring Catholic experiences. Each entry includes a brief biography, plot summaries of major works, in-depth critical surveys and an overview of the work's importance in Catholic writings. Author Mary R. Reichardt is a professor of English and Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, and hers is an essential encyclopedia for any Catholic reference library holding. CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES edited by Thomas C. Hunt, Ellis A. Joseph and Ronald J. Nuzzi (1573565326, $175.00) will appeal to college-level holdings strong in education or Catholic education: the 2-volume set provides over three hundred entries by over 35 contributors on all aspects of Catholic education, from academic organization, indoctrination, discipline and learning styles to issues of sex education and church/state connections. Traditions of Catholic principles of education are covered in depth. Meg Greene's biography MOTHER TERESA (0313327718) provides an excellent biography suitable for high schools and public collections alike. Mother Teresa's beliefs, her noted humanistic works, and her vision to live and work among the poorest in the world are reviewed in an excellent work filling a reference gap for comprehensive yet readable biographies. Timelines and photos round out the coverage. Two other excellent guides are recommended reference picks: Richard G. Olson's SCIENCE AND RELIGION, 1450-1900 FROM COPERNICUS TO DARWIN (0313326940, $65.00) tels of the influence early Christianity had on scientific concepts and discoveries. From Jesuits who helped develop experimental science during the Scientific Revolution to 18th century interactions between theology and scientific principles, SCIENCE AND RELIGION, 1450-1900 FROM COPERNICUS TO DARWIN is an excellent, comprehensive survey. Eugene V. Gallagher's NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA (0313328072, $55.00) joins others in Greenwood's 'American Religious Experience' series, focussing on new religions and their interactions with accepted major religious groups. The Nation of Islam, Wiccans, Church of Scientology and more are surveyed in the course of probing how the new religious movements operate and interact in American culture.

Trains to Yosemite
Jack A. Burgess
Signature Press
11508 Green Rd., Wilton, CA 95693
1930013140 $65.00 1-800-356-5687

Yosemite's natural history and wonders had become well known by the mid 1850s, but few tourists wanted to travel to the remote historic valley via horse: enter the train in 1907, which allowed visitors to reach the park in less than a day, fostering an increase in park appreciation which continues to this day. Yosemite Valley Railroad expert Jack Burgess began his study of the railroad in the mid-1960s as he searched for an appropriate prototype for his model railroad layout: his interest in modeling led to much more than a casual probe of the Yosemite Valley Railroad system, as the 400 black and white vintage photos, maps and illustrations packing detail into TRAINS TO YOSEMITE proves. Rail buffs will find well over 300 pages of detail pack in not just history, but very specific train details, from switching routines and classification lamps to relocated lines and bridges. It is this depth of information which is the mark of the model hobbyist - and which lends so perfectly to a complete, comprehensive coverage of the real thing. Yes, TRAINS TO YOSEMITE is a specialty item for rail transportation or California-specific collections: but such holdings will find it essential.

Morning Sun Books Inc.
9 Pheasant Lane, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076

Train buffs and libraries strong in transportation holdings won't want to miss these two excellent train guides. James Sandrin's TRACKSIDE AROUND ST. LOUIS 1952-1959 WITH JIM OZMENT (1582480397, $54.95): St. Louis was one of the train gateways to the West but was an under-photographed hub until native Jim Ozment captured the last of the steam era and the introduction of diesels in the 1950s. His outstanding photos pack the pages of James Sandrin's TRACKSIDE AROUND ST. LOUIS, packing in action shots of trains in motion, train yards, close-ups of PCC cars, and much more. Just about every type of train running in Saint Louis during this period was captured by Ozment's camera, creating an outstanding collection of in-depth images. Lou Schmitz and Robert J. Yanosey's UNION PACIFIC OFFICIAL COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK II (1582480052, $54.95) is a recommended pick not just for specialty train collections, but for the general library holding. The Union Pacific was prolific in its advertising and color calendars, and extensive in its services: here's a history and photo-packed showcase of the Union Pacific's routes, trains and heritage. Train views from annual reports, calendars, and action shots display the best of the Union Pacific's units, providing comparison photos, posed and live shots, and many more. Add report covers and other illustrations from Union Pacific archives and you have a valuable keepsake history.

Diane Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide, Second Edition
Dave Thomas, Chad Fowler, Andy Hunt
The Pragmatic Programmers, LLC.
P.O. Box 293325, Lewisville, TX 75029-3325
ISBN: 0974514055 $44.95 862 pp.

Ruby is an increasingly popular cross-platform, object-oriented language. With 98 standard libraries and the ability to access Windows native APIs it is a very powerful way to write programs where you might have used CGI, XML, or SOAP before. The book contains an excellent tutorial, a language reference, and documentation on all built-in classes, modules, and methods.

As you would expect, the authors cover installing the software as well as practical examples to help learn the programming techniques. With over 350 pages of documentation and references just on classes and libraries, the coverage is extensive and detailed. This is a very practical guide on how to use Ruby effectively and efficiently. Programming Ruby is highly recommended to anyone who needs a more flexible and powerful programming system than Perl, XML, CGI, or SOAP.

Moo Who?
Margie Palatini
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060001054 $15.99 40 pp.

This is just what most children want in a favorite book; a humorous story and hysterical illustrations. Hilda Mae Heifer lost her moo, how can she discover the sound she is supposed to make? This is the story of how she lost her moo, her attempts to find out what sound a cow is supposed to make, and how Hilda Mae Heifer got her moo back. "Moo Who?" is highly recommended for a laugh out loud time with your child.

The Layman's Desk Reference Set
George Knight and W. Ray Rayburn
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Barbour Books imprint
PO Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
ISBN: 1593102143 $24.97 352 pp.

This book set consists of three small hardcover books - a Bible Dictionary, Quick Reference Concordance, and a Bible Handbook. The Quick Reference Concordance does an excellent job of finding the middle ground between the small concordance typically found in the back of a Bible and an exhaustive concordance such as Strong's. It not only lists individual words but also key phrases and where to find them. This is a very nice and intuitive concordance that is both useful and user-friendly.

The Bible Dictionary contains thousands of entries with both a definition of the entry and a reference to specific verses where it occurs. Also included are several small black-and-white photographs.

The Bible Handbook contains a short introduction to each book of the Bible, a summary of the book, and various notes in the form of sidebars. This is a very well done small handbook. I especially like the summary of each book of the Bible. The author takes a section of the book that is related to a particular theme or event, lists the particular verses, and then provides the summary of that theme or event. This way you know not only what is happening but also the specific verses if you want to go back to the Bible and read the whole text.

Although the books are small they are packed with accurate, useful information. This desk reference set makes an excellent gift for your favorite pastor, Bible teacher, or Bible student. Easily one of the most useful and user-friendly sets for the average Bible student, The Layman's Desk Reference Set is highly recommended and an excellent resource for Christians.

The King James Study Bible
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Barbour Books imprint
PO Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
ISBN: 1557487456 $34.95 1614 pp.

The King James Version of the Bible is one of the most popular translations available. Some like it best just because of tradition, some because of the poetic flow of so much of the text, and others for a wide variety of other reasons. If the King James is your favorite version then this is one of the few Study Bibles available for that translation.

I read through many of the notes on the bottom of the pages and found them to be both useful and relevant. Although many of the notes cross-reference other verses, historical information, or similar items, some represent specific doctrinal beliefs. Those readers with a conservative belief system will find the notes much more to their liking than those with a more liberal approach. For example, the notes to the creation account in the beginning of Genesis support only one position - there was an original earth that was destroyed and then recreated again with the Garden of Eden. This will cause a lot of fundamentalists great distress and even many conservatives view this as only one of the possible interpretations of the first few verses. The reason for this is because this Study Bible presents the viewpoint of C. I. Scofield with no presentation of any alternatives.

One of the really great features of the book is the material included in the back. For example, instead of just a concordance it contains a real subject index, glossary, index of proper names, topical study, concordance, and an alphabetical listing of the teachings of Christ. This makes it a great book for looking up items by subject instead of having to know specific words contained in the verse or what verses are related to the subject. If you are a fan of Scofield (and there are many) then The King James Study Bible will be one of your favorites. If you are not particularly a fan of Scofield you will still find it a useful resource due to the excellent study and research resources included. The King James Study Bible is highly recommended as a solid study Bible.

Key Word Commentary
Mark Water
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
ISBN: 0899574408 $34.97 1207 pp.

In this outline style commentary each chapter of each book of the Bible is given its own single page, which is organized into ten divisions. The ten comments about each chapter are (1) Before and After, (2) Analysis of the Chapter, (3) Key Verse, (4) Key Word or Phrase, (5) Key Event, Person or Theme, (6) Key Thought, (7) Key Thing to Look For, (8) Key Bible Cross-reference, (9) Key explanation, and (10) Key Quote. Most people think of a commentary work examining and explaining verses, particular word use, customs of the time, or similar. This book contains no commentary of that nature. Instead it is a chapter level examination of the bible. If you are interested in a key thought summary of each chapter of the Bible this is just what you are looking for. If you are looking for a word and verse level commentary you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are looking for a high-level summary and outline of the Bible the Key Word Commentary is recommended.

I Love My Daddy
Sebastien Braun
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060543116 $12.99 32 pp.

I Love My Daddy focuses on the many things a father and child do together and celebrates the loving relationship between them. With a single short sentence on each page it is simple enough for the beginning reader and yet profound enough to emphasize and strengthen that relationship. I Love My Daddy is a very highly recommended children's early reader book and great for father and child to sit down and enjoy together.

GNU/Linux Application Programming
M. Tim Jones
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue, Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503718 $49.95 465 pp.

Written for application developers, this book is a great source of information on working with the GNU/Linux architecture and process model. If you know something about programming but want to know how to use those skills in the GNU/Linux environment this is one of the best books available. The coverage is thorough and filled with coding examples to illustrate the concepts. To make your life easier it even has all the coding examples included on a CD in the back of the book. Areas examined include the GNU compiler, automake, shells, scripting, creating and using libraries, named pipes, semaphores, sockets, and shared memory. The book wraps up with a section on debugging and testing your application. GNU/Linux Application Programming is an excellent source of information for the new to intermediate GNU/Linux programmer and highly recommended.

Easter, Easter, Almost Here!
Kathleen Long Bostrom
Zondervan Publishing
Zonderkidz imprint
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310708001 $6.99 24 pp.

"Easter, Easter, Almost Here!" is a small board book that looks at Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Nice illustrations, rhyming words, and pages that are easy to wipe clean make "Easter, Easter, Almost Here!" a recommended board book for the very young.

Delta, My Beloved
Nick Castanis
American Literary Press, Inc.
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
ISBN: 1561678694 $14.95 208 pp.

As a general rule I don't particularly like biographical books unless they are about a historically significant person or do an exceptional job of bringing the reader into a historical period. This book falls under that second criteria. The book draws the reader into the social, military, and personal life of the author during World War II. Delta, My Beloved is a finely crafted autobiographical story that reads like a well-written fiction novel and is a recommended read.

The Classical Music Experience
Julius H. Jacobson II, M.D.
Sourcebooks, Inc.
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
ISBN: 1570719500 $39.95 306 pp.

Taking full advantage of the ability to bind a CD into a book, The Classical Music Experience offers and opportunity to read about classical composers and listen to appropriate example of their works. The book portion covers all the composers that you would expect in a work on classical music. These include Palestrina, Bach, Handel, Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Chopin, Schumann, Strauss, Liszt, Wagner, Smetana, Bruckner, Brahms, Bizet, Bruch, Musorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Grieg, Rimsky-Korsakov, Elgar, Mahler, Debussy, Strauss, Sibelius, Vaughan, Schoenberg, Ives, Ravel, Orff, Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Gershwin, Poulenc, Copland, Shostakovich, and Bernstein.

For each composer the author gives information on their history, most important pieces, and an analysis of their work as well as several examples on the CD. Each time they are discussing a track on the CD it is clearly identified as such in the text and the specific CD and track listed so you can easily find it and listen while reading that section.

This is as fine of an introduction to the world as classical music as you are likely to find anywhere. A thoroughly enjoyable education in classical music, The Classical Music Experience is highly recommended.

Boomer to the Rescue
Peter Parente
Tree of Life Publishing
PO Box 421004, Summerland Key, FL 33042
ISBN: 0974505234 $15.95 28 pp.

Following on the success of his earlier book Peeper the Kinkajou, Peter Parente has somehow come up with an even better book with Boomer to the Rescue. It is the story of Boomer, a lavender skunk, who has a problem with friends at school because he is so different. But when problems arise it is Boomer to the rescue as he saves everyone. Filled with bright colorful illustrations, Boomer to the Rescue is highly recommended, fun, and a delight to read.

All Around Cats!
Dolly Viscardi
T&N Children's Publishing, Inc.
NorthWord Books imprint
11571 K-Tel Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343
ISBN: 1559710721 $15.95 32 pp.

All Around Cats! is a short book filled with illustrations of cats engaged in common cat activities. Whether stalking, jumping, prowling, sneaking, or napping they are just all around cats. The illustrations point out the wide variety of features among cats including various colors, tail shapes, and fur types. All Around Cats! is a good choice for children learning to read, and especially so if they love cats.

Alien Invaders
Lynn Huggins-Cooper
Raven Tree Press, LLC
200 S. Washington St., Suite 306, Green Bay, WI 54301
ISBN: 0972497390 $16.95 32 pp.

Written in both English and Spanish, Alien Invaders is a look at the world of insects. If there are aliens on the earth then perhaps they are insects with their bizarre appearance and habits. This is a look through a young child's eyes at how insects could be viewed as aliens. I really like the books of this series that have complete English and Spanish texts so a child can build their vocabulary in another language easily. Alien Invaders is a highly recommended children's book with wonderful illustrations and a real pleasure to read.

101 Complaint Letters that Get Results
Janet Rubel
Sphinx Publishing
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
ISBN: 1572483636 $18.95 179 pp.

If you have ever tried to write a complaint letter and did not receive satisfaction or even a recognition of your complaint you know the importance of getting it worded correctly the first time. Now attorney Janet Rubel has put together a collection of the standard complaint letters she uses. To make it even more convenient all the letters are also on the included CD. No matter what your need, if you want to write a complaint letter then you will find one in here that will give you the format that gets results. 101 Complaint Letters that Get Results is a recommended resource for everyone.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Ruby Ring
Diane Haeger
Three Rivers (Crown)
ISBN: 1400051738 $12.95, 384 pp.

In 1520 Rome, before he died beloved artist Raphael Sanzio arranged for his beloved Margherita Luti, the model for his Madonna paintings, to safely stay at Sant'Apollonia. However, as the adored painter rests at the Pantheon for all to see, the Mother Superior informs Margherita's escort Signor Romano that the powerful vindictive Cardinal Bibbiena wants her living on the street. Romano succeeds in getting her into the convent by offering three hundred florins and THE RUBY RING that Margherita still wears. Margherita reflects back to when she, the daughter of a local baker, met the love of her life six years ago when Raphael was the Pope's favorite. He asked her and her father for her to model. Her father urged her to accept and she did. The rest is history as he found his Madonna in her and as Romano says she made him a better person. How she wonders can she give up the most valuable keepsake from the man she loves; but can she survive constant harassment from the Church. THE RUBY RING is a terrific historical fictionalized account of Margherita Luti and the great artist Raphael Sanzio. The story line hints at a bittersweet ending although the tale mostly occurs during the six years of shared love between the artist and Margherita. Diane Hager, who is one of the best at providing fictionalized accounts of great historical love stories (see THE SECRET WIFE OF KING GEORGE IV), provides a fantastic glimpse at the Italian Renaissance to include the artistic rivalries and jealousies (though a different era and place reminded me of the movie Amadeus), especially the underbelly of decadence from the sponsoring Vatican and secular rulers.

Poppy Z. Brite
Three Rivers (Crown)
ISBN: 1400050081 $13.95

Backed silently by celebrity chef Lenny Duveteaux, two years ago John "call me" Rickey and Gary "G-man" Stubbs opened up Liquor in New Orleans with a menu containing expensive alcohol as a major ingredient in all their repasts. The reviews are favorable and the two young gay chefs gain a loyal following including tourists stopping for a meal. Popularity takes a hit when Humphrey Wildblood writing in the free biweekly Cornet implies sinister criminal activity by Lenny. As Liquor loses patronage, the chef-owners want to buy out their silent partner to save their restaurant, but need cash accentuated by an equipment failure. With G-Man's urgings, Ricky accepts a menu consulting offer in Dallas. At the same time, G-Man learns that Wildblood is a pseudonym used by the son of District Attorney Placide Treat, who arrests Lenny; the DA wants to defuse any real opponent in his reelection bid with Lenny's attorney being the likely opposition and Liquor being a victim of political callous collateral damage. PRIME is an interesting culinary thriller that takes the usual heterosexual family style dining approach and cleverly turns the sub-genre upside down by expanding the definition of family to be a lot more inclusive. The story line is wacky due to the interactions of the key cast members to include the lead couple, their silent partner, the DA and his son (talk of political incest), and the two Texans. Fans of the author will brighten up with this fun tale that shares much in common with her previous works in terms of zaniness and intriguing characters (gay and otherwise), but also recognize that the recipe is quite different.

Blood Ties
Lori G. Armstrong
ISBN: 1932815325 $6.99 302 pp.

Julie Collins left her well paying job in Minneapolis to take a position in the Bear Butte County Sheriff's Office in the hopes of finding the person who killed her half-brother Ben Stalking Elk. Over the last five years five Native Americans like Ben have been murdered, but his is different as he was the only one whose throat was slashed to death; the others were drowned though his corpse was also found like the other victims in Bear Butte Creek. The body of a sixteen years old girl with her throat slashed is found in Rapid Creek. Julie's friend private detective Kevin Wells was hired to find out where Samantha went after her father kicked her out of their home following her mother confiding to both that she was sired by a rapist. A few days later, Samantha's mother is found dead in her car, supposedly a suicide. Kevin and Julie investigate together believing that the killer is one of the men who raped her mother, but he intends to keep that secret concealed and he will do whatever it takes to make sure it stays buried. BLOOD TIES is a fantastic small town thriller with a protagonist who acts tough because she feels she must do so to solve her quest and has no one to call a friend except Kevin. Her need almost obsessive to bring justice to Samantha and her mother serves as a temporary replacement and solace for failing to do so for Ben. Lori G. Armstrong provides a fabulous mystery starring an intriguing protagonist with a climax that will stun the audience.

A Thousand Tomorrows
Karen Kingsbury
Center Street
ISBN: 0446529672 $18.95, 238 pp.

Champion bull rider Cody Gunner uses brashness to hide his heart from everyone except his younger brother Carl, a Down syndrome person. Cody detests his former NFL great father who he worshiped until dad walked out on his family once he concluded that his youngest son was defective. He loathes his mother for allowing her hurt caused by her spouse's abandonment to interfere with raising her two children especially the handicapped Carl who needed more from her. When he was eight and dad left, Cody vowed no one will ever get close to him again. Though horse riding champion Ali Daniels must hold her breath for the eighteen or so seconds she competes, she refuses to quit although she knows the dust and related ilk is cutting into her life span, which already is shortened by cystic fibrosis. Still she refuses to quit, riding with passion dedicated to her deceased younger sister. Because of her illness, she has no plans for a lasting relationship. When Ali and Cody meet and reluctantly share their inner demons they fall in love. Although both want to flee from the previously unwanted emotions, they embrace their feelings, providing one another with healing solace while understanding that they probably will not share A THOUSAND TOMORROWS together. This is a fine inspirational romance starring two interesting individuals who choose love although they know how limited their mortal time together will be. The story line grips the audience from the start and never lets up until the final soliloquy. The plot especially the ending is obvious because of the realistic portrayal of CF; fans who appreciate an uplifting somewhat melancholy tale will appreciate Karen Kingsbury character driven inspirational.

Memories of World War II and Its Aftermath: By a Little Girl Growing Up in Berlin
Inge E. Stanneck Gross
Island In The Sky Publishing Co.
PO Box 139, Eastsound, WA 98245
ISBN: 0976032864 $23.95 301 pp.

On August 25, 1940 five years old Inge hears the most frightening thunderstorm of her young life. The next day the Berlin resident learns from her friend six years old Reinhard Engel that the thunder was caused by a British air raid on the city, the first of many to come. From those roots of war on the home front, Inge Stanneck Gross provides a first hand account of growing up during World War II in Berlin and the surrounding areas (her mother relocated them to avoid the constant bombings). Ms. Gross provides a deep account of starvation and fears of death during the war and the decade following the end of the combat. The biography stops in 1954 when the nineteen years old Inge moves to America (a second volume picks up from there). MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR II AND ITS AFTERMATH: BY A LITTLE GIRL GROWING UP IN BERLIN is a terrific autobiography that brings insight from a person looking back to her childhood in war wracked Berlin. The numerous black and white pictures add depth to the period. Inge E. Stanneck Gross provides a different perspective, that of a frightened innocent residing amidst the tragedies and atrocities of the war. Her viewpoint has been ignored for the most part, but the author brings home the inability of civilians including children to escape war's deadly tentacles. World War II aficionados will appreciate this unique look back while the strong tome should be required reading for courageous DC chicken hawks to see the real cost of war.

In Dahlia's Wake
Yona Zeldis McDonough
ISBN: 0385503628 $23.95, 292 pp.

In the months since their seven-year-old daughter Dahlia died podiatrist Rick and schoolteacher Naomi Wechsler have grown apart rather than finding comfort with one another. Neither can explain to the other how they feel; as each day passes, the estrangement widens. Overwhelmed with obsessive grief and ignoring Rick's censure, Naomi quits teaching to volunteer at the Holy Name of Jesus Hospital where Dahlia died. Unable to obtain solace from Rick because she holds him culpable since he was driving when the accident that killed Dahlia occurred, Naomi turns to Dr. Michael McBride for consolation; he informed the couple that their child died. Rick feels guilty over Dahlia's death, but also believes that Naomi blames him for the death. Needing comfort, he turns to office assistant single mother Lillian whose ex has let down their eleven year old son again; Lillian finds warmth and understanding in his arms. Remorse over cheating on top of his feeling guilty for the death forces Rick to confess his affair; this drives Naomi further over the edge as she considers philandering with Michael. Will she cheat or forgive? IN DAHLIA'S WAKE is a deep look at grieving an unexpected loss of a beloved preadolescent child by her parents. The lead couple has been close since college handling rough situations like Naomi's miscarriages as a team, but Dahlia's death is different. They mourn their loss in dissimilar manners, which cause a schism that feeds on the other's personal grief. Although an unnecessary improbable final spin occurs and several pivotal moments seem contrived to make infidelity to easy an option, family drama fans will appreciate this strong look at loss.

The Mourning Sexton
Michael Baron
ISBN: 0385513267 $23.95

David Hirsch was a managing partner in a prestigious St. Louis' legal firm, but cocaine and extramarital affairs resulted in David waking up in a dump in East St. Louis with a prostitute dead from an overdose sharing his bed. He was convicted for her death; his family cut all ties with him; his law license was revoked; and later he lost a major sexual harassment suit brought on by his female staffers. David spent seven years in prison reading Don Quixote, playing the harmonica, and rediscovering his Judaism. Last year the Missouri Supreme Court issued David a provisional license to practice law under the supervision of Seymour "Pancho" Rosenbloom. David services bankruptcy clients while volunteering as the sexton at a declining synagogue where meeting the minimum minyan requirement of ten males is yeoman's work. An Alzheimer's congregation member Mr. Shifrin wants David to obtain justice for his daughter law clerk Judith who died driving Judge Brendan McCormick in an SUV during a snowstorm; Mr. Shifrin blames the design of the SUV for her death. With the help of legal technician Dulcie Lorenz, Hirsch uncovers something more sinister than a "nuisance" death. He soon battles those who he once considered equals when he was at the top of the city's legal hierarchy. THE MOURNING SEXTON is an exhilarating legal thriller starring a fully developed individual trying to obtain redemption for his previous transgressions when he abused his wealth and position. The support cast augments the deep look at the born again crusading David who reclaims the ethics he once scorned. Although the Shifrin case spins into a somewhat shaky reality of a Goliath turned David against his former Goliath peers, sub-genre fans will welcome this entertaining character driven entry.

Mad About Max
Penny McCusker
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750676 $4.99, 251 pp.

Third grade teacher Sara Lewis moved to Erskine, Montana six years ago. She fell in love with her neighbor rancher Max Devlin and his young son Joey now eight years old. However, Max only sees her as his klutzy younger sister. Sara still feels like an outsider even though she is a major subject of local pool betting at Ersk Inn where people wager on when her next accident will occur. Only Sara and her best friend Janey Walters knows that her clumsiness only happens when Max is near. Realizing she needs to move on even after he proposes a marriage of convenience for Joey's sake, Sara knows she will miss the townsfolk and her beloved. But Max closed his heart when his former wife Julia walked out on him and Joey. MAD ABOUT MAX is an amusing Big Sky contemporary romance. Sara's antics will keep the audience laughing as little things seem to happen to her like breaking the glass pane window of the founding father that turns it into a big money maker since it now seems pornographic. Readers will have no patience for Max although he is a nice single father and good neighbor but this is a romance and he needs to get with the program. Still fans of slap stick contemporary tales will enjoy this humorous Montana romance.

Keeping up Appearances
Jennifer McKinlay
Harlequin Flipside
ISBN: 0373442130 $4.50, 217 pp.

Though a successful Manhattan ad executive, Hailey Fitzwilly hated the envy jokes of her peers and the commute from Fairfield, Connecticut. When she lost her cools during a bid for a big campaign due to the antics of a colleague, she knew it was time to switch jobs especially since her career went down the toilet. Hailey becomes partners with Madeline in a yoga studio. She fears telling her mother, dynamo Selma. Her mother also thinks Hailey will marry pediatrician Dr. Burke Masterson, but they already broke up; Hailey fears her Mother's reaction to her not having this wealthy children's doctor from a prominent family as her son-in-law. Her brother Jack and Madeline insist she tell her mom the truth about her life changes, but Hailey feels like a wimp unable to do that or say no to Mother. For instance Mother assigns Hailey to get a chopper donated to sell at the Children's Hospital charity auction. She visits The Chop Shop where she meets tough Kid Cassidy, who takes her for a ride to the center of her heart if she can just tell her Mother. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES is an amusing contemporary suburban romance starring two likable protagonists and a fine support cast. Although the audience will find it difficult to reconcile the Type A advertising queen with the Connecticut wimp and become tired of Hailey's failure to stand up to her Mother, readers will also enjoy her avoidance antics that borders on obsessive phobia. Kid is just the impetus she needs to change from wimpy Hailey to tasty tart Peaches.

Born to Be Bad
Crystal Green
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791836 $4.75, 249 pp.

Weekly Gossip reporter Gemma Duncan dreams of winning a Pulitzer while writing for the New Orleans Times-Picayune although she figures her chances of either occurring is about as great as she performing an ice skating triple axel. Still when interviewing psychics for a living, Gemma knows not to use her real name so she reports stories like love with Tarot cards as Duncan James just in case she has a chance at a real newspaper. Gemma overhears an interesting though angry discussion between city golden boy Damien Theroux and business mogul Lamont over illegal gambling debts. Lamont accuses Theroux of cheating as some avenging angel who apparently milks the rich to give to poor causes. Thinking she might have a chance for that Pulitzer and her real name as a reporter, Gemma decides to go undercover to learn the true nature of Theroux's illegal dealings. She takes a waitress job at one of his restaurants, but when she and Damien meet, an attraction rises between them. As they play wild sex games, she finds the information to expose her beloved's wrong doings even if he does them with good intentions; Gemma must choose between her ambition and her love. Undercover romance readers will enjoy this interesting but unique tale of love between an idealistic reporter and a skeptical punisher. The sex scenes are graphic so be prepared for some torrid encounters. Though the audience might have problems with Damien, who is more demon than angel, he seems realistic. Fans will enjoy the relationship between the cynical Damien and the virginal Gemma reminiscent of Guys and Dolls.

The Cowboy Way
Candace Schuler
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 037379181X $4.75, 248 pp.

In Texas rancher Jo Beth Jensonhas two rules when it comes to sex. Never participate near home and even more important never with a cowboy. She still feels the hurt when the man every one including her thought would marry her came home with a bride that was not Jo Beth. Still at the wedding of her friend Roxanne (see GOOD TIME GIRL) Jo Beth met champion bull rider Clay Madison and deep inside her brain knows she would love to have the rodeo star ride her, but never ever a cowboy remains her mantra. Recovering from an injury and having not forgotten the maid of honor at the nuptials of his pal Tom six months ago and seeing that vision skinny dipping, Clay tries to persuade Jo Beth into sharing his bed. Though attracted to Clay, Jo Beth says no to the cowboy. He refuses to accept her stereotype and begins a campaign to win her over, but soon wants more than a healing fling as Clay has fallen in love with Jo Beth; she feels the same way but distrusts cowboys with her heart. THE COWBOY WAY takes secondary characters from a good time hot Blaze and brings them together in an amusing torrid tale of their own. The story line is humorous as the cowboy tries to convince the anti-cowboy to join him in heated fun. The lead couple makes the ranch romance work as they prove support cast can star in their own adventure. Candace Shuler provides a jocular contemporary gender war that fans will appreciate.

The Trick to Getting a Mom
Amy Frazier
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712693 $5.50, 296 pp.

In Pritchard's Neck, single dad Sean McCabe worries about his eight year old daughter Alex, suspended from school for fighting and for carrying a weapon. The principal Ms. Simmons tells Sean that his daughter struggles between reality and fantasy; Sean knows that he is doing his best but failing at his death bed promise to his now deceased wife Jillian to take care of their child. Kit Darling returns to Pritchard's Neck, the town that forced her to flee almost a decade ago due to the amoral femme fatale antics of her mother. To pay off her late mom's debts, Kit sells items that her mom collected mostly to horrify her neighbors before she turned to young men. Alex arrives seeking Seafaring Cecil books, which stuns Kit because she is the author. Sean comes to collect his daughter, but fails to recognize Kit though they attended school together and she knows his eyes. Alex likes Kit who treats her with respect and intelligence and decides she is perfect for her and her dad. Though Alex is too precocious, fans will enjoy this amusing contemporary romance starring a delightful lead couple and his matchmaking daughter. The antics pulled by Alex to bring her favorite author and her beloved dad together are humorous as more often than not the tricks fail. As the adults fall in love over the objections of his family except his child, Kit has lived the life of a wanderer and doubts she can settle down in place especially this place. Amy Frazier provides a jocular tale filled with laughs to counter well examined serious issues making for a super romance.

Meet Me in Texas
Sandy Steen
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712715 $5.50, 299 pp.

Thirteen years ago in Crystal Creek, Texas, FBI Special Agent in Charge Del Rickman led the rescue effort to save the life of then twelve years old Allie Russell when the culprit used the kid as a means of vengeance against her stepmother. Allie was rescued and Del loved the Hill Country. Dissatisfied with the direction of police work, Del leaves the Feds and decides to relocate to the Crystal Creek area though he is unsure he will be welcomed by the locals even if they considered him a hero. In Crystal Creek, to his shock Del finds himself attracted to Allie though she is almost two decades younger than him. She reciprocates, but he assumes it is some form of hero worship rather than a deep abiding attraction plus the townsfolk frown on their relationship so he discourages her. However, even as he tries to think of her as little Allie, subconsciously his heart insists this adult is Allison. The return to Crystal Creek brings back two solid support characters from a 1994 Sandy Steen entry (see SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN THE NIGHT) as the lead pairing that will elate series fans to see how much Del and Allie have changed since her ordeal. Allison believes that her feelings for Del goes way beyond the knight in shining armor rescuing her while Del struggles with believing he is too old and that she confuses her immense gratitude for love. Though he works through his issues to easily, readers will appreciate this fine romance.

Little Night Magic
Liz Jarrett
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 037369220X $4.50

Chicago attorney Dani Karlinski hires her friend private investigator Travis Walker to prove that her grandmother's love spell could not have worked and placed a curse on anyone as her beloved relative is being sued. Travis makes inquiries and follows the threads, but every clue he finds affirms that the spells of his client's grandmother work. Unbeknownst to the skeptical lawyer and the astonished sleuth, grandma has cast a love spell on them. Though they met and liked each other since high school, now the couple finds an attraction growing into a deep abiding love although Dani is moving to New York with a great career opportunity. However, neither can accept that grandma's spells work though under oath Dani and Travis will have to admit their love has blossomed ever since her relative cursed them or face perjury for lying about their respective hearts. LITTLE NIGHT MAGIC is a whimsical contemporary romantic romp in which readers will enjoy learning whether grandma can curse someone with a love spell. The story line is lighthearted as the audience will find amusing the antics of the lead couple especially the granddaughter though in denial re are grandma's "skills" and love, as every step she takes is towards believing in curses and Travis. Liz Jarrett furbishes an amusing tale.

Your House or Mine
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712685 $5.50, 299 pp.

Orlando resident Meg Hamilton learns that her beloved nonagenarian Aunt Amelia Ashford has been placed in a home as she recovers from a fall and shows signs of dementia. Since her aunt already quit claim deed her Mount Esther house to Meg, the younger woman decides that relocating with her ten year old son Spencer might be good for them as the Colonial Auction House business that she owns with her irresponsible brother Jerry is floundering. In Mount Esther, Meg meets Deputy Sheriff Wade Murdock, a former New York cop. Wade informs Meg that he paid 20K as a down payment on the home. Apparently Amelia has spent much of it buying all sorts of stuff, mostly still unopened, from catalogues. As Meg and Wade struggle with ownership problems and trying to do the right thing, they begin to fall in love. However she distrusts males ever since her former husband deserted her and Spence; he still feels guilt over his wife's death and how much that has shaken his daughter Jenny. YOUR HOUSE OR MINE is an amusing contemporary romance with a serious undertone and a touch of intrigue. The lead characters are terrific as they learn how difficult it is to court someone with kids hanging around. The children are solidly drawn as they have abandonment troubles caused by a desertion and a death respectively. Amelia is a fabulous soul who brings to life the aging crisis that affects the sandwich generation. Throw on top of that legal problems at the auction house for selling stolen goods and Amelia's deceased uncle's buried treasures from his scams. Fans will enjoy this fine tale.

Discovering Duncan
Mary Anne Wilson
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750668 $4.99, 249 pp.

In Los Angeles at the offices of Bishop International, Duncan Bishop and his father CEO D.R. argue over destroying a family friend Gary Tellgare. The son tells his father if he fails to back off he will leave without a look back. However, the senior refuses to budge. Duncan walks out leaving behind his only family member, a multimillion dollar business, and his girlfriend who dumped him for his actions. Six months later, D.R. hires Sutton Agency to find his son. He informs their private investigator Lauren Carter that if she gets Duncan to come home willingly, he will pay for her to attend law school and more as she has dreamed of doing. Lauren decides to start in Duncan's birthplace as many people go home when upset as he apparently was. In Silver Creek, Nevada, Lauren finds Duncan and soon they fall in love. However, she needs that bonus for more than just law school or even for herself, but also knows once he knows the truth he will never trust her again. This fine private investigative romance is a solid contemporary tale due to the dilemma confronting Lauren between her beloved and her client, but made fuzzier by a late altruistic twist that seems too conveniently available to make Lauren seem less avaricious. Duncan is a delightful counterpart as he shows that sometimes the acorn falls far from the tree yet is as stubborn in his way as D.R. is. Mary Anne Wilson provides a fine story that readers will wonder which way the heroine will go.

Seeking Miss Scarlet
Natalie Stenzel
Harlequin Flipside
ISBN: 0373442122 $4.50, 218 pp.

Eight years as a Chicago cop and now a private investigator have not prepared Jack Harrison to deal with Valerie Longstreet, owner of a mystery theater. While she vamps him in an effort to form a partnership where she would pay him among other incentives to serve as a consultant to her guests, he hides his attraction to her behind a scowl and refuses her tantalizing offer. When he receives a note announcing her murder, he rushes across the street, sees her on the floor, and panics as he thinks she is dead. When he realizes she is performing, Jack angrily accuses her of crossing the line. Valerie reminds him that she has been in his face with different offerings so why would she use the not so subtle writing histrionics. Jack admits to himself he likes the outrageous Miss Scarlet as she calls herself and the even kookier Aunt Lillian who insists they have three ghosts residing in the theater including a kleptomaniac spirit. When Val becomes involved in a real case, Jack gets involved in more than just the case as he tries to keep her safe, but his fee is that Miss Scarlet is his alone as he loves Val. SEEKING MISS SCARLET is an amusing private investigative romance with a touch of the paranormal that will keep the audience laughing yet has a serious mystery to liven the plot. The story line is character driven especially when Val vamps her neighbor, which she does all the time as she knows Jack desires her. Her aunt and the ghosts along with the who-done-it add depth to a fine funny tale.

Wednesday's Child
Gayle Wilson
ISBN: 0373770391 $5.99

In Johnson County, Mississippi, Sheriff Adams informs Mrs. Richard Kaiser that her spouse died in a car accident apparently several years ago when his vehicle went off the road into the Escatawpa River. The SUV with the body inside was only just discovered. Mrs. Kaiser is stunned, but does not correct the sheriff in that she divorced Richard almost seven years ago when he vanished with their child Emily. Using her maiden name of Susan Chandler, she has hopes that Emily still lives as no other corpse was found in the vehicle. Susan travels to Linton, Mississippi where she finds a room at Lorina Bedford's B&B. Lorina's great nephew Jeb is hostile towards the guest until her inquiries lead to her being run off the road. Jeb, a Delta Force soldier on medical leave from injuries sustained in Iraq, helps Susan investigate based on why her ex spouse would have left the interstate here; their logic being car trouble or medical help as they try to figure out who has suddenly had a toddler. As they follow the cold trail, they fall in love, but neither trusts the other with their respective heart. WEDNESDAY'S CHILD is a strong amateur sleuth romance with the emphasis on the suspense more so than the love subplot. Susan is a terrific protagonist who by being honest is treated with scorn by law enforcement officials starting with her believing Richard would never harm Emily. The romance between Jeb and Susan is handled in conjunction with the investigation they conduct. Fans will appreciate this powerful glimpse of a mother's worst nightmare nearing closure, but seemingly not attaining it.

Enemy Mine
Lindsay McKenna
ISBN: 0373770790 $6.50, 384 pp.

US Marine Corps helicopter pilot Kathy Trayhern wants vengeance on South American gang lords Carlos Garcia and his son Guillermo for all the hurt they have caused her family. However, she realizes that her assignment in South America of inserting SEALs and marine recon teams into hot spots do not allow her to make the needed drop. She also believes the Garcias see their assaults on the Trayhern family as striking out at their nemesis Morgan family patriarch and head of the CIA's Perseus Group. Kathy believes she has her opportunity when she is assigned to rescue a KNR (kidnap and ransom) victim, a seven year old girl snatched in Peru by the Garcias. As she infiltrates the criminal ring, she meets helicopter pilot Mac Coulter, who works the drug trade for the Garcias as a cover for his AFT efforts to infiltrate the gang. Though attracted to one another, neither trusts the other as they each believe the other works for the vile kingpin. The Latest Trayhern thriller is at its most exhilarating best in the Peruvian jungle as Kathy and Mac want one another, but both distrusts the other because of whom they perceive their soulmate works for. When the story line provides flashbacks especially through the eyes of Kathy to support what she feels she must do, the tale slows down to give readers a chance to relax from the high level of tension. Lindsay McKenna provides a taut thriller that stars two delightful protagonists who need one another to survive yet doubts linger as the senses rejects the instincts of their respective hearts.

A Breath Away
Rita Herron
ISBN: 0373770308 $5.99, 384 pp.

In Crow's Landing, Tennessee eight years old Violet Baker considers Darlene Monroe her best friend. When Violet envisions someone assaulting Darlene, she turns to her father to help her pal, but instead he sends her away to live with relatives. Darlene is murdered and Violet feels she failed her friend. Two decades later Violet returns to Crow's Landing because she has been seeing things that she feels will solve the cold case murder of Darlene. Local Sheriff Grady Monroe, Darlene's half-brother, wants Violet to leave because he somewhat blames her for his sibling's homicide and does not trust her "second sense"; deep in his heart he also fears his attraction to Violet. As she begins to follow her visions, he needs to protect her from someone who targets her as his victim not so much to keep his secrets hidden, but because of an obsession. A BREATH AWAY is a terrific supernatural police procedural romance. Violet is an interesting protagonist as she sees visions, suffers guilt over failing her best friend though she was only a child at the time and falls in love with someone who seemingly wants her to leave town because he blames her for his sister's death. Grady knows he is unfair to hold Violet culpable, but cannot help himself. Falling in love with her feels right but comes with guilt. Though the motive of the killer appears weak, readers will appreciate this tense romantic suspense propelled by the lead duo.

To Tame a Wolf
Susan Krinard
ISBN: 0373770472 $6.50, 384 pp.

In 1881 Cochise County, Arizona Territory widow Tally "Tal" Bernard enters Tombstone dressed like a boy in search of her missing brother, Andre; He left their ranch to purchase livestock, but should have returned a few days ago. She learns that her sibling gambled away their money and fled into the wilderness. Simeon "Sim" Kavanaugh offers to help the lad find her brother for a small fee; reluctantly Tal accepts. Sim knows from the start that his employer is a female in disguise, but says nothing to her. Instead he struggles with restraining his attraction to Tal as he believes a mortal could never accept his half-breed heritage. Still when danger confronts Tal who he knows is his soulmate, Sim must free the beast to save her, but expects to pay the price once she learns his secret and rejects his werewolf side. TO TAME A WOLF is a superb action-packed paranormal historical romance that never slows down once the "male" Tal enters Tombstone until the finale when Sim risks his life and his love by getting with his werewolf side to attempt to keep her safe. The lead couple comes across as genuine, which enables the audience to believe in the supernatural in a western setting. Susan Krinard's fans will howl (full moon or not) with her latest wolf romance.

Sleeping Over
Stacey Ballis
Red Dress (Harlequin)
ISBN: 037389516X $12.95, 352 pp.

In Chicago it has been two years since the five young single women held a "circling up" to discuss men and other problems. However, now that Jess has returned home from two years overseas with the Peace Corps, the quintet agrees it is time. Jess wants to talk about her platonic relationship pediatrician Harrison who she lives with platonically but wants to make it more. Robin cherishes her friendship with her boss, restaurant owner Michael, but fears exploring what she really wants from him. Lilith enjoys the performing arts more than she does her businessman boyfriend Martin. Sisters Beth and Ann have opened up a clothing store, but the former has Jeff while the latter has Chris; two men coming in the way of their loving sibling camaraderie. Five friends struggling to spice up their relationships with the men in their respective lives, but will it mean the end of Circling Up. Fans of relationship dramas will appreciate this fine character driven tale that provides unique protagonists approaching similar male issues in radically different manners. The story line is more a series of vignettes as the focus switches from one woman to another. Though Stacey Ballis does a remarkable job of keeping the personalities of her Circling Up stars different yet consistent, readers will find the switching perspective difficult to keep track of anyway. Still sub-genre fans will appreciate this female Friends tale because the women seem real and their loneliness woes and fears feel genuine.

Flyover States
Grace Grant and PJ MacAllister
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895216 $12.95, 304 pp.

Doris Weatherall comes from Brooklyn and Veronica Williams from California to attend Langsdale University in Indiana. Though one woman is African-American while the other Caucasian, and they compete for the same summer teaching position the coastal females become best friends. Ronnie becomes upset when, without her permission, she is a diversity initiative brochure's centerfold aimed at minority recruitment. Doris gets the teaching position but finds high school seniors uninterested in what she tries to do; Ronnie works in a factory. Both want a man in her life. However, Ronnie doubts she will find a brother in the conservative section of the Hoosier state while Doris sees her poetry professor although he is allegedly gay. These two independent intelligent women turn to one another to survive their self imposed exile in the Midwest. This is more a character study than a chick lit tale though readers get the chick lit viewpoint from the coastal females. The story line centers on two individuals coming from opposite poles converging in the hinterland like fish out of water. Ronnie and Doris become friends as they share ideals while feeling isolated on the campus. Fans will enjoy this deep look at ethical blue state individuals struggling with red state moral values.

Sex, Murder and a Double Latte
Kyra Davis
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895194 $17.95, 304 pp.

San Francisco mystery thriller writer Sophie Katz is euphoric as Hollywood producer Michael Tolsky has optioned her last novel, Sex, Drugs, and Murder. However, to her shock someone kills Michael, but the modus operendi parallels a movie the victim made. Sophie seems to be the only one who sees connection to Silent Killer. Sophie soon realizes that someone is emulating scenes from Sex, Drugs, and Murder. She learns that besides Michael a rapper was killed right out of his lyrics. She believes a celebrity serial killer has targeted her, but the police reject her theory as an overly active imagination though she shows evidence of being stalked and her property vandalized. She refuses to sit back and wait; instead she follows her heroine seeking to uncover the identity of a murderer. The storyline blends a who-done-it within a chick lit, but though fun to follow and filled with laughs with the antics of the likable amusing protagonist, the plotting seems off kilter since Sophie is dealing with murder and a belief she is on the list. Sophie is a delightful protagonist who figures that since she writes mysteries, she should easily solve mysteries (a positive spin on the genre's mantra that those who can't sleuth write sleuth stories and those who can't write sleuth stories, review sleuth stories). SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE is a fine droll detective chick lit tale, but the emphasis is on the latter although the heroine is in peril.

Seven Sunny Days
Chris Manby
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895208 $12.95, 352 pp.

Her two best friends Carrie Ann Murphy and Yaslyn Stimpson take engaged Rachel Buckley on a final fling before she says I do. The trio goes exotic Club Aegee in Bodrin, Turkey seeking males to pamper them for a week. Her buddies make sure that Carrie, a senior manager at Office Angels, is in a festive mood from the start when they slip a vibrator into her luggage only to have customs see it. At the resort, Rachel realizes her pals have issues. Yaslyn fears commitment though her boyfriend back home wants for them to move to the next level in their relationship. Carrie Ann has just had her divorce legalized and so is down on marriage and men except as disposable boy toys. As the trio shares a room for partying and all night binges the vast chasm on male relationships surface in an ugly manner; Rachel wonders whether adding a husband means subtracting her two best friends. Much more a relationship drama especially between the three friends than a chick lit tale though the narration is from the latter 101, fans will enjoy the escapades and deep look at the complexities of human interaction. The three females are a delightful fully developed characters and the support cast brings out the best and as often the worst in each of them. Though the subplots can become overwhelming (flow charting will not help) that just emphasizes the baggage people bring to multifaceted interactivities.

Love Like That
Amanda Hill
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895186 $12.95, 304 pp.

In Southern California, twenty-five years old assistant events planner Dalton Moss is stunned when her boyfriend Roman Duquesne gives her an engagement ring before he goes on a six month trip to Cameroon as a member of the International Center for Relief and Advancement. Dalton agrees to wed Roman when he returns to Los Angeles. Although engaged, Dalton continues to see her other boyfriend the irresponsible roguish Jeremy Flowers, the total opposite of the dependable caring Roman. She knows she needs to move on, but enjoys Jeremy's hedonistic attitude even if he has another girlfriend. She knows she will have to choose when Roman comes home, but for now girls just want to have fun and Jeremy is where that is at. LOVE LIKE THAT is a solid contemporary chick lit tale that takes a little time to get moving as Amanda Hill provides the background to the Southern Cal singles lifestyle. The wait for the plot to take off is worth it because the audience can better understand Dalton's dilemma as she is confused between two lovers pulling her towards totally opposite lifestyles. Fans will wonder whether she will choose commitment, wilding or perhaps she will find a third road somewhat in between the extremes of her boyfriends.

Lisa Marie Takes Off
Susan Hubbard
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895178 $12.95, 272 pp.

With the dreaded thirtieth birthday coming soon symbolized by two unwelcome gray strands, distraught American Advice Columnist Lisa Marie Marino goes to London to spend time with her boyfriend Robert McCallister. He is in England researching for a novel on Lady Jane Grey. Lisa Marie believes Robert is lovable, dependable, and trustworthy until she catches him with his beautiful editor Felicity Ashford-Foxcroft sneaking into a hotel; Lisa Marie assumes that Robert is the other type of guy, a promiscuous cad. Lisa Marie leaves Robert to Felicity and moves in with her new friend Grace. She begins to Americanize the British culture though Grace's Aunt Pru tries to Anglicize the Yank. However, in spite of Lisa Marie swinging in the upper reaches of London's in crowd, she misses McCallister. Her dreams of spending a lifetime with him remain in the center of her heart. This is a fun chick lit tale though the tension between Lisa Marie and McCallister seems unnecessary if she took the time to talk to the man she loves (and previously trusted). Still in spite of the lack of any seemingly real conflict, Lisa Marie swinging through London makes for an amusing novel. Lisa Marie and McCallister are likable lead characters and though Felicity is colder than a corpse, much of the support cast enables readers to see a glimpse of London albeit filtered through the eyes of the invading colonist. Sub-genre fans will fully appreciate Lisa Marie's real female rival for the affections of McCallister in this fine romp.

Michelle Hauf
Luna (Harlequin)
ISBN 037380220X $13.95, 411 pp.

The world of faery has known peace for a very long time but now the realm's very existence is threatened by the Red Lady, a faerie banished to the Otherside (the mortal realm). She is stealing the essence of faeries who stay too long in Paris controlled by English King Henry and his soldiers. Shinn, leader of Glamourseige knows that Gossamyr, the half mortal-half faery, is the only warrior who can defeat The Red Lady because as a female she is not susceptible to the lure of the succubus. Although she lacks wings and contains only the glamour from her years of living in faery, she crosses to the Otherside with the help of Shinn. She meets Ulrich who participated in a fairy Dance and lost two decades. His wife remarried and a dragon killed his daughter. He hopes to bring her back to the mortal world because he has an alacorn (a unicorn's horn) and when he gives it back to its owner he gets one wish. The pair teams up, helping each other when one gets into trouble. When she learns the truth about her origins that Shinn kept from her, Gossamyr's priorities change although she remains determined to save faery by defeating THE RED LADY. GOSSAMYR is a beguiling fantasy that blends elements from many genres to produce a work that will enchant readers who will place it on their keeper self to reread when they want an uplifting experience. The protagonist is an amazon warrior in a besieged Paris who battles a succubus, her ex-lover, and wins the heart of a mortal who is on a quest of his own. Michele Hauf has the magic touch that she imbues in her storyline.

Urban Shaman
C.E. Murphy
ISBN 0373802234 $13.95, 324 pp.

As the plane lands, passenger Joanne Walkingstick sees a man with a knife, a pack of dogs and a woman running. Joanne grabs a taxi to head to the spot where she saw the crime take place. She finds Maria D'Ambra who tells her she was being chased by Cernunnos a Celtic god and leader of the Wild Hunt. She is a banshee who can tell when someone is about to die making her invaluable to the Wild Hunt who collects the souls of the dead. The metaphysical is not in Joanna's world view until Cernunnos runs her through with a sword and while near death her spirit guide Coyote tells her how to heal herself. She also learns she is a shaman with the power to heal. When she goes to talk with Maria, she finds her murdered in the same way five other shamans were killed in recent weeks. Not much later, the killer attacks schoolchildren in their classroom murdering some and injuring the teacher. He is Herne a demigod who was once mortal and has his own plans for the world and the Hunt. Unless Joanne can grow into her powers to send Cernunnos and Herne back to where they belong Earth is doomed. The relationship between Cernunnos and Herne is familial but there is an enmity that exists between them because of their different goals with mortals caught in their cross fire. Joanne accepts the metaphysical work and her shamanic powers a bit too easily but she has the strength and determination to use them in order to fight the two gods. C.E. Murphy has written a spellbinding and enthralling urban fantasy in the tradition of Tanya Huff and Mercedes Lackey.

Silver's Bane
Anne Kelleher
ISBN 0373802226 $13.95, 406 pp.

The goblin hordes who feast on flesh threatened humans and Sidhe with extinction. To contain them in the wastelands, a silver Caul was made with faery magic by a mortal silversmith. Now, due to the treachery of a mortal who betrayed the Sidhe prince he made a deal that enables Cadwyr, heir to the Duke of Gar, to possess the Caul. The Goblins roam the mortal realm, eating on human flesh and Cadwyr has no plans to stop them. He kills the Duke and claims the title but the dowager duchess Cecily flees and plots to overthrow the traitor and become queen if the people will accept her. In the land of the Sidhe, the goblins are coming and the land is dying. The people, mortal and Sidhe, must find a way to UNnmake the Caul otherwise both the human and faery realms will cease to exist. SILVER'S BANE, the sequel to SILVER'S EDGE, is a fantastic fantasy that leaves no questions left unanswered or threads left for any other sequel though a prequel in which the making of the caul is told in SILVER'S LURE which is coming in 2006. There are many heroes and heroines in this book who band together to fight the goblin horde praying to end the threat that Cadwyr poses. Anne Kelleher has written a memorable spellbinding work.

Ruth Wind
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513526 $4.50

Athena Academy graduate Kim Valenti of NSA is terrific in breaking codes and has helped other agencies' staff like FBI bomb expert Alexander Tanner with her skills. Though they never met, Kim and Alex have a thriving email repertoire with hopes that one day Windtalker2 and Lex Luther as they respectively sign their electronic correspondence will meet. That day occurs when both are assigned to a joint task force looking into Q'rajn terrorist group activities tied to Berzhaan. They are to work together to determine whether known terrorist Fathi bin Amen Mansour or apparently clean Professor Hafiz abu Malik Abd-Humam is planning an attack on western soil. Though Fathi has used his Oxford educated chemical engineering skills to enact revenge for the deaths of his mother and brothers, he holds the west culpable and Hafiz has only written articles demanding the west leave his country, the two Federal agents know either or both could be the suspect and are assigned to take out the right one. The Athena Academy graduates continue to provide action-packed romantic suspense thrillers that grip the audience from start to finish. Kim is a fabulous alumni as she works with and falls in love with Alex, who reciprocates having been three quarters in love just on their email exchanges. The terrorist aspects are handled with dexterity so that the audience receives a fast-paced tale in which a mistake could cost more than your life; it could cost the lives of numerous innocents. Fans will want to know which way the wind is blowing during the COUNTDOWN to a terrorist attack with Kim and Alex trying to abort it.

Secret Admirer (The Fortunes of Texas: Reunion)
Ann Major, Christine Rimmer, and Karen Rose Smith
Signature Collection
ISBN: 0373285191 $5.99

Prologue. An anonymous person sends a love letter to the Red Rock Gazette. "Secret Kisses" by Ann Major. Shy Jane Snow wonders if Matt Harper did it, but she fears pursuing this as he humiliated her back in high school. Besides they are competing for the same job as Director of Market research at Fortune, TX LTD. "Hidden Hearts" by Christine Rimmer. Police Officer Greg Flynn sees Annie Grant more as a younger sister rather that the life time lover role that she wants. When she sees the letter, she prays that Greg wroite it, but it will take a hostage situation to open up his eyes that his love for Annie is radically different than that of a sibling. "Dream Marriage" by Karen Rose Smith. When her spouse Garth Manning runs off on business in Tokyo, Laura decides enough is enough as he always chooses work over her. She wants children and is deciding to be a single mom though she runs a business. She knows Gareth back in Texas wants to reconcile and wonders if he placed the love letter in the local newspaper as part of baring his soul. These are three fine interrelated novellas start off with a misconception involving the letter and takes off from there as somewhat comedic contemporary romances starring likable protagonists in which the woman knows what she wants.

Her Sister's Keeper
Victoria Pade
Silhouette Signature Select
ISBN: 0373285183 $5.99, 324 pp.

Twin sisters Nia and Trina Molner agree to come home to Elk Creek, Wyoming to attend the annual Founder's Day Centennial. Nia hopes this will get her sibling out of the depression following a difficult divorce. However, Trina sneaks into town six weeks earlier to see if she can score with her first love, media giant Clay Heller, but instead he is not in town, but she meets his brother rancher Cole. They make love before she leaves town to catch up to her sister. However, Trina becomes pregnant from her tryst. Nia and Trina arrive for the gala. Nia and Clay meet and are attracted to one another, but she is used to being HER SISTER'S KEEPER and believes that Trina wants him and is carrying his baby. Trina loves Cole, but has doubts about marriage following her recent debacle although she also worries about being a single mom. These fine contemporary romances between two pairs of siblings with a touch of misunderstanding is a fun read especially because the Molner sisters lack confidence when it comes to the men they respectively love. The story line centers on a comedy of errors as Nia for the first time in her life wants to put herself first instead of her twin, but has trouble ignoring a couple of decades of habit. Though the studs could have used more muscle, fans will enjoy Victoria's Pade's ranch tale and seek out TALES FROM ELK CREEK: COWBOY'S LADY COWBOY'S LOVE.

Show Her the Money
Stephanie Feagan
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513542 $4.50

Senior manager Jane "Pink" Pearl testifies at a senatorial hearing that the memos she had were stolen along with all the backup disks except one. She vows to regain possession of the last set that proves Marvel Energy intended to commit fraud. The last set was inside a box sold to a family neighbor Mrs. Bohannon at a yard sale; Mrs. Bohannon is away on vacation. Senator Santorelli tells Pink to bring the evidence or else face prosecution as a chief auditor who hid the accounting scam. Pink returns to her hometown of Midland, Texas even as physical threats rise from the Doo Dog Stalker and others, and rumors abound of her sleeping with Santorelli. Her mother, who wants her to drop the case, provides her work as the only person who would hire her. She also gets her a new lawyer, Ed, who successfully sued Marvel Energy, and strongly encourages Pink to tell the truth. Ed and Pink start with respect that turns into love but her life is on hold until she can exonerate herself at the senate hearing. This intriguing whistle-blowing romance taken from the headlines is a fine tale that grips the audience from the moment that Pink, trying to do the right thing, is treated as a pariah by Congress, the media, her former peers and associates, and the public. Many conclude she is a loose woman who performed the illegal acts or just a traitor to her employers. Thus the story line centers on Pink's struggles. The romance with her second lawyer Ed takes a back seat to the whistleblower treated like a criminal by almost everyone.

Sexy Lexy
Kate Moore
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526239 $6.99, 324 pp.

When fitness expert Lexy Clark authored the bestseller Workout Sex: A Girl's Guide to Home Fitness, she never anticipated males would assume she is loose. All she wanted to do was help her recently married friends enjoy needed exercise within their committed relationships. National TV host Stanley Skoff tries to embarrass "SEXY LEXY" with his handpicked testosterone audience and fitness stud. Instead Lexy walks off the show cutting short her fifteen minutes of being a national joke, albeit a wealthy one thanks to the hot sales. She travels to Drake's Point, north of San Francisco only to arrive in time for rutting season with literally a stag sniffing for females. A stranger rescues her from the big deer by pressing his body onto her until "Rudolph" left. Since Lexy informs Sam Worth she is not a tourist, he assumes she is running away and hiding in "Brigadoon" as he calls Drake's Point. Sam and Lexy are attracted to one another, but she distrusts anyone with the Y chromosome and he wants nothing to do with the famous once tasting that bitter brew. SEXY LEXY is an amusing contemporary romantic romp starring two affable lead protagonists ably supported by a horde of eccentric characters exposing the newcomer to Northern California chic. Sam is worth the cost of the novel as he is a caring hunk who wants Lexy, but fears she is one of the vile famous. Lexy is a fine protagonist who has traveled the road of good intentions, but some of her actions at the inn she purchased seems off kilter for her. Still the audience will appreciate this lighthearted frolic and want Moore Drake's Point tales.

Colby Hodge
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526271 $6.99

Being the daughter of a murdering Circe witch who killed her father has hurt Lilly as much of upper society starting with her uncle blames her from the moment of her birth almost as much as her mother though Lilly was born after the homicide. Two decades later her uncle, Sovereign Alexander of Oasis still holds her culpable for his brother's death due to her mother's actions; still he assigns Lilly as his representative to the senate with war beckoning that could destroy the world. Ravigans attack her ship and her bodyguard Krebb is killed. Desperate she frees a cyro-prisoner Phoenix, whom she already held a telepathic chat with, from his frozen cell that stated "Do not revive without authorization". The prisoner was to be dumped in the deepest known hole for murdering five Senate soldiers. He sees his actions differently as he was avenging the murder of his parents. He is an anomaly as an unprecedented male surviving descendent of the Circe witches, but agrees to protect Lilly. As they fall in love, they have doubts about the underlying reasons for the upcoming war and investigate how he survived the Circe witches when they kill male infants immediately. STARGAZER is an exciting action-packed science fiction romance in which the worlds envisioned by Colby Hodge seem so real the audience will believe she is an ET from one of them. The story line hits hyperspeed immediately and never decelerates until the climax. The mystery of Phoenix adds depth on a personal level to this fabulous outer space tale that in some ways feels like a medieval historical tale as love and war are enhanced by trust and betrayal respectively.

A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court
Marianne Macusi
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526336 $6.99

Twenty-nine years old La Style associate fashion editor Katherine "Kat" Jones detests ruining her shoes traipsing in a field in Upstate New York rather than attending a Village event or relaxing in her Connecticut home. However, her boss has sent her to attend King Arthur's Faire in order to write a five hundred word article on the medieval clothing fad in today's fashion world. Her photographer Chrissie Haywood forces Kat to have her palm read by a fortune teller. Kat is obnoxious to the woman, who curses her. Suddenly Cat finds Chrissie is gone and so is the faire. Instead she is in Camelot dressed in high twenty-first century fashion with no hospital or latte in sight. Lancelot du Lac defends her, but though she wants to seduce him, she assumes he belongs to Queen Guenevere. Then there is the evil prince who wants to use her to destroy the kingdom; and finally Merlin informs her not to change history or is that the future even if she only wants to introduce the cashmere sweater to the ladies. This is an amusing chick lit goes Camelot tale in which the Knights of the Round Table except Lancelot agree that Kat needs to be shipped back to her birth time and place, 2005 Brooklyn. The story line is fun although initially readers will find Kat's whining at the faire and in Camelot irritating. However, when she tries to save the kingdom without gourmet coffee, not change history, and ruins her shoes in the process, fans will root for Kat to have at least one life with Lancelot. Mark Twain would enjoy this distaff version of his classic.

Lips That Touch Mine
Wendy Lindstrom
ISBN: 0843955066 $6.99

In 1873 in Fredonia, New York Widow Claire Ashier has had it with the Pemberton Saloon across the street from her boarding house. The noise spilling into the street has driven out her last patron and Claire needs her lodging to thrive in order to survive. She informs saloon owner Boyd Grayson that he needs to shut down or else. Though attracted to the courageous woman, Boyd tells her no he cannot afford the loss of business on a Saturday night. The Sheriff is on Boyd's side of the dispute though he insists that his being the saloon owner's brother has nothing to do with his decisions, but asks the two of them to peacefully work out their differences. She persuades him to escort her to church where she hopes he understands the nastiness of liquor when he hears the sermon. As Boyd and Claire begin seeing each other encouraged by his traitorous canine's visits to her, they fall in love; however she has vowed that "lips that touch mine will never have touched liquor" having suffered from the alcoholic abuses of her first husband. The third Grayson Post Civil War historical romance (see THE LONGING and SHADE OF HONOR) is an absorbing late nineteenth century tale due to the contrast between the personalities of the lead couple. Much of that difference was caused by Claire being a spousal abuse victim with no avenues to turn to except the church whereas Boyd, besides being a big man, knows his loving family especially brothers are there for him.. Wendy Lindstrom provides a strong tale driven by the protagonists who seem so opposite yet so in love.

Lady's Choice
Winnie Griggs
ISBN: 084395521X $5.99, 342 pp.

It is 1894 and only for Judge Madison would irate Adam Barr baby sit three easterners on a trek to Texas from Philadelphia. Adam is bitter at the irony that he was imprisoned for six years for a crime he did not commit while his three charges were guilty of felonies that should have locked them away; instead the Judge has handed them a chance to marry his granddaughter. The Judge has issued an ultimatum to his granddaughter Wild West photographer Regina Nash to marry Everett, Mitchell or Chance, or lose custody of her nephew Jack. Reggie does not want any of these losers, but also refuses to lose Jack who she has raised as her own. She behaves like a frontier hoyden to run off the naive easterners, but Adam recognizes the masquerade, but is shocked because he desires her. Reggie thought that Texas would cleanse her of her teenage crush for him when he was out of reach, but instead she still knows deep down she loves Adam. Unable to resist Adam enters the competition, not realizing he was sent as the Ace that Judge Madison thought is perfect for his granddaughter. LADY'S CHOICE is an entertaining and amusing western romance that fans of the sub-genre will appreciate especially when the suitors fail to adjust to the Wild West of the heroine after visiting the "luxurious" Philadelphia home of the manipulating Judge. Adam is an interesting protagonist framed by a close friend and needing to prove his innocence while Reggie feels her Jack should never feel the shame of a convict father. Though the tension between seems forced, readers will enjoy this fine nineteenth century Americana tale.

Rabid Growth
James A. Moore
ISBN 0843951729 $6.99, 323 pp.

Eighteen year old Chris Corin is having a very bad year. After his mother's death, he became the legal guardian for his fifteen year old sister Brittany who is going through puberty and challenging his authority every chance she can. His maternal grandmother, who he has never met and who his mother never talked about, challenges him for custody of Brittany. He is the winner of millions of dollars in the lottery but with al the paperwork that has to be taken care of, he barely has enough money to buy food. There has been an enormous increase in the homeless population and the men are violent. One of the men who became extremely violent is taken to jail where he dies. The police lose the body and later Chris sees him walking the streets. Chris' friend Jerry, as well as other people in town, who were affected by the events that took place last year (see POSSESSIONS) are changing, becoming something other than human. Chris tries to help his friend while trying to prevent being killed or worse by the others that have changed into something alien. James A. Moore is one of the best new horror writers of the twenty first century as he can hold his own wilt the greats including Clive Barker, Bentley Little, Stephen King and Robert Mccammon. Be advised that this book should be read with all the lights on and they should not be turned off even when the reader goes to sleep. The story starts off in a mundane fashion but changes so subtly readers will feel they are in the Twilight Zone without an idea of how they got there.

Gypsy Lover
Connie Mason
ISBN: 0843954620 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1785 England, a gypsy woman dies in childbirth, but the boy Dante, sired by an aristocrat, survives. His grandfather the Marquis of Alston hides the birth of Dante from his son, Alex, the lad's biological father and pays the kid's maternal grandparents to raise him. Lord Alston regrets his decision of three decades ago; his son died ten years ago with no other heir and his nephew Calvin is a gambling wastrel. Alston knows that if Calvin becomes Marquis, the proud name will quickly dissolve into bankruptcy. A desperate Alston modifies his will recognizing Dante as heir with the stipulation that he marry Lady Esme Harcourt within six months of gaining the title. Dante wants nothing to do with his paternal grandfather and his title. However, when someone kills Lord Alston, Dante accepts this as a blood debt; he needs the title to walk in the exclusive circles he must step into to complete his quest of bringing the killer to Romany justice. Dante accepts the rider that Lady Esme be his wife especially since he has previously tasted her lips though he loathes that she is a purebred aristocrat; in turns Esme scorns gypsies. This solid Georgian amateur sleuth romance is loaded with action but it is the lead couple who makes the tale so much fun to read. Dante and Esme may love each other, but each is loaded down with the heavy chains of prejudice. He detests the upper crust while she disdains the Romany. As they fall in love, Dante's investigation leans towards Calvin as the prime suspect but he has new concerns when he places his beloved Esme in danger. Fans will enjoy Connie Mason's delightful landlubber historical tale.

Fire Me Up
Katie MacAlister
ISBN: 0451214943 $6.99, 368 pp.

Not to long ago, Aisling Grey was just a courier making her first delivery in Paris when she meets Drake Vireo, part man part green dragon and totally insisting she is his wyvern's mate. She somehow conjures up her own demon, who turns out to be a loud mouthed Newfoundland canine who speaks English in public. She reluctantly accepts that she is the Guardian/Keeper of the Gates to Hell but has no idea what to do. She travels to Budapest to attend the 238th convention of supernatural beings the GODTAM (Guardians, Oracles, Diviners, Theurgists, and Mages) seeking a teacher. To her chagrin except for the elation of her traitorous feminine parts, Drake is also staying at the Thermal Hotel Danu on Margaret Island. As Drake calls her "Mate" and a Diviner makes her drop fruits on her breasts, someone steals the amulet her uncle assigned to her to deliver. Since she cannot afford to give up her day job and unable to find a mentor to live long enough to teach her Guardian 101, like any tyro Guardian amongst these professionals, Aisling searches for the purloined amulet. The sequel to the fun fantasy thriller YOU SLAY ME is a delightfully amusing tale. The feisty American star is in Hungary seeking to find her Yoda so that she can learn how to use the force, but sidetracked by her need to recover the amulet and by her Mate who can fire her up with one glance. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as Aisling realizes she is now one of the weird, but struggles with being identified as a Guardian and as the Mate.

Seeing Red
Jill Shalvis
ISBN: 0451215028 $6.99, 336 pp.

In Ocean Beach, teenager Summer Abrams barely survives a warehouse fire that kills her father. Feeling she failed her dad, Summer flees town. Joe Walker loves Summer, but feels betrayed when she left without a look back. She misses Joe, but considered him as her best friend. Twelve years later a second warehouse fire occurs, which Summer plans to ignore. However, her mother needs Summer so she leaves her job as an adventure tours guide to come back to her hometown. As the Fire Marshal, Joe investigates the fire. He is concerned that Summer is back in town as he still loves her though he vows not to allow her to hurt him again. However, this time around Summer does not want to just renew their friendship as she finds her teen buddy quite attractive. As she falls in love, someone wants the couple to fail at uncovering the arson source and is willing to kill to remain hidden. If they survive that culprit, their chances of a permanent relationship remain nil as Summer also has commitment phobia issues fostered ever since she felt she failed her dad. SEEING RED is an interesting romantic suspense starring two likable heroic protagonists struggling with a murderous arsonist and their own feelings. The who-done is cleverly designed so that the audience will appreciate the amateur sleuth investigation that forces the fire marshal to allow Summer to join his official inquiries because he fears for her safety. The gender bending switch of having the female struggle to commit while the male is reluctantly willing having been burned once before provides an added touch to a strong romantic mystery.

Dangerous Depths
Kathy Brandt
ISBN 0451214935 $6.50, 272 pp.

Police underwater diver and homicide investigator Hannah Sampson went down to the British Virgin Island as a favor to her boss who wanted someone on his team nearby during the inquiries into the death of his son there. Hannah loved it so much that she quit her job in Denver and went to work as a detective in BVI in Tortuga. After a year of living there she has a lover, good friends and a houseboat where she can look out at the sea every day. One day she is awakened by an explosion and sees the Caribbe on fire and sinking into the water. She dives and brings up her friend Elyse Henry who lapses into a coma. Evidence points to the incident being an accident because she left her propane stove on, which apparently sparked and caught fire. Hannah's instinct tells her somebody was trying to murder her friend. In defiance of her boss' orders to leave the case alone, the determined Hannah tries to prove her instincts are correct, but almost gets killed in the process. DANGEROUS DEPTHS is an exciting police procedural set in an exotic setting. What makes the attempt on Elyse's life interesting is that she didn't have an enemy with a motive to murder her; so readers keep wondering why as they seek along aside the heroine to find out who the killer is. Armchair travelers beware! Once you read this book, you'll want to hop at plane and visit the unspoiled British Virgin Islands.

Better Read than Dead
Victoria Laurie
ISBN: 0451215583 $6.99, 304 pp.

Though he won the lottery and retired from the Royal Oak, Michigan police department, Milo Johnson works part-time helping the understaffed police with solving crimes. Currently, he is working on the case of a serial rapist. At the same time psychic Abby Cooper warns a client not to procrastinate when she shops; Cathy Shultz is disappointed in the reading until she delays her shopping that night and becomes the latest rape victim. Abby's friend Kendal calls in a favor so she is working with him at the Kapordelis wedding when she sees a hitman's aura; the family of the bride is a mob family. Abby works with Milo to stop the rapist, but neither piece together her latest clue leading to a rape-homicide. Andros Kapordelis demands she help him choose which of his sons is best to carry on the business after he dies from cancer. Meanwhile her main squeeze Dutch Rivers is an FBI agent in training is embarrassed that his Abby is a psychic. All three of Abby's situations come together in one final reading that could leave her joining her crew on the other side. This reviewer foresees a long run for ABIGAIL COPPER, PSYCHIC EYE as her second tale BETTER READ THAN DEAD is a fabulous paranormal detective thriller with Abby yanked by both sides of the law as well as her disillusionment with Dutch. Abby keeps the plot focused whether she is jealous or fighting with Dutch, talking with the crew, helping Milo solve the case, or accepting an offer she can't refuse. Victoria Laurie provides a lighthearted entertaining psychic amateur sleuth novel that will entertain the clairvoyant cozy crowd.

The Intelligencer
Leslie Silbert
Washington Square (Atria)
ISBN: 0743432924 $24.00

In New York, London-based forensic accounting wizard Cidro Medina meets with former English Renaissance scholar turned sleuth Kate Morgan to discuss the corpse he found in his home. A thief broke into Cidro's home to steal a leather-bound volume of 16th-century intelligence reports written in cipher, but was trapped by cops so he chose poison instead of prison. Kate who is a deep operative for a United States Intelligence Agency investigates the sudden interest in the tome. In England Kate begins breaking the book's code and finds herself on the verge of not solving today's mystery, but a cold case involving the sudden death of Elizabethan most popular playwright Christopher Marlowe in 1593. She learns that Christopher lived a double life using his writings as a cover for his undercover espionage work to expose smuggling. Kate is also asked to look into an eleven million dollar art deal that triggered alerts of a possible black market sale. Billionaire art dealer Luca de Tolomei sold an antiquity to Iranian senior intelligence officer Hamad Azadi. Unbeknownst to Kate, she is the pawn of revenge by a person targeting her father, U.S. Senator Donovan Morgan. Though the story line is all over the place, THE INTELLIGENCER is a fine thriller that rotates chapters globally mostly in the present, but also includes stops in the late sixteenth century. Because of the constant shifts of focus, the story line takes time to develop; thus the action-packed thrill seekers might find the secondary plotting tedious while those in the audience who appreciate insightful filler will enjoy the sidebars. Leslie Silbert writes an interesting tale with a wonderful premise that is overloaded but fun to follow.

Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers
Sean Hepburn Ferrer
ISBN: 0743268865 $23.00, 230 pp.

The approach to this biography from Audrey Hepburn's' obviously adulating son Sean Hepburn Ferrer is to tell about his famous mother through the perspective of those who knew her rather than the usual crash and burn titillating Hollywood bedtime tales. Instead, Mr. Ferrer displays respect for his mom and indirectly her husbands. Other contributors like Henry Mancini provide insight, but once again offer respect. The interesting aspects of the bio is when Mr. Ferrer takes his audience outside of Hollywood to his mother's childhood in war ravaged Belgium that shaped her adulthood morality and the importance of family values in a meaningful way not some politician's sound bite. This belief led Ms. Hepburn to volunteer at UNICEF. There will not be a dry eyed reader when they "hear" Sabrina give a speech at the UN in 1989 pleading for the millions of children dying from malnutrition, lack or bad water, and diseases that the western world eradicated. When people scoff at Hollywood morality, they need to remember real heroines like Ms. Hepburn. Three hundred plus photographs augment a wonderfully upbeat look at "an elegant spirit" whose author pays the ultimate homage to his mother as the Audrey Hepburn Children's receives the proceeds from the sales.

This Time
Margaret Johnson-Hodge
Sutton Place Publishers
2774 N. Cobb Parkway, Suite 109, PMB 180, Kennesaw, GA 30152
ISBN: 0975402609 $16.95

Not too long ago Rick Timmons chose his now five years old daughter Kanisha rather than the woman he loves Dajah Moore after his beloved forced him to choose because she insisted "no more madness" following the nasty behavior of the mother Gina Alexander. Dajah left, but Rick is back and wants a second chance. Now twenty-three Gina apparently has turned her life around with a job at a Jamaica, Queens library and is making efforts to regain the friendship of a close pal, but she is also getting back with the pot. So once again her actions jeopardize their daughter and a second chance with Dajah even if she agreed to one. While Rick struggles with what is best for his daughter, Dajah meets Jeff Gingham, who wishes he was younger as he sees his eight years as being too much a gap. A couple of weeks later, Jeff's dog Kelly runs from him when he notices Dajah. The dog runs to greet her. Jeff follows. Jeff and Dajah start to see one another, but she has doubts following the disaster of her last relationship and he firmly believes she needs someone her age, but a matchmaking canine thinks otherwise. As expected from Margaret Johnson-Hodge, THIS TIME is a terrific urban relationship drama that brings to life Queens New York through the actions and reactions of an ensemble cast. The key to this fine tale is that the prime players and their particular angst seem real. Readers who appreciate a deep character study that looks closely at the desires, needs, and consternations of four individuals and to a lesser degree two others, go no further than Ms. Johnson-Hodge; she is one of the best.

Falls The Shadow
William Lashner
ISBN 0060721561 $24.95, 432 pp.

Leesa Dube was shot in the chest in her own home, the picture of her estranged husband Francois clutched in her hand. The couple was in the middle of a bitter divorce fighting for custody of their daughter. In his home they found a bloody towel and a blood spot on his boot, a perfect match to Leesa's blood. A jury convicted him of murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Three years after his conviction Francois hires attorney Victor Carl and his partner Beth to get his verdict overturned and to obtain a new trial. To Victor's surprise he finds suppressed evidence that earns the con a new trial. While preparing for the legal battle of his life, the courts appoint Victor to work pro bono representing four year old Daniel who is taken out of his home because of his mother's neglect. Weaving throughout Victor's life is his dentist Bob, who has a Messiah complex and works in the shadows to right the world's wrongs. Victor is not sure whether Bob is a Good Samaritan or a master manipulator with adulating followers who carry out his desires whether they are good or evil. Anyone who has a dental phobia will never want to visit a dentist after reading about Dr. Bob and the lengths he will go to in order to make the world a better place even if the methods he uses turn out to be illegal. Victor tries hard to remain uncaring and cynical but his nurturing nature propels him to lend a helping hand when he is needed. Readers will admire him and more so William Lashner who is one of the best writers of legal thrillers on the market today.

Wildcat Wine
Claire Matturro
ISBN: 0060567074 $23.95, 304 pp.

When farmer Dave comes to Sarasota lawyer Lillian Belle Rosemary Cleary with a truckload of Muscadine wine, he meets her legal secretary Bonita and her son Benny. Since Lilly is working, he takes Benny to look for jaguarundi in the Myakka River State park. The trip ends with Dave and his friend Waylon arrested for stealing the wine from his employer. Lilly hires Phillip Cohen to represent him and he makes it clear that he is interested in her. Benny tells Lilly that they found a corpse and a bag of money when they were in the park. Lilly goes to Dave's employer to ask him to drop the charges and does not say anything about the dead man or the money to the police. A few days later, Dave's employer is found dead in a homicide intended to look like an accident. Kenneth, a partner in the firm where Lilly works, harasses Bonita who is related to Dave's employer's wife; Lilly has no idea what his motivation could be. Shortly thereafter Kenneth is killed. Lilly knows the three murders are linked, but trying to learn how could make her the next victim. WILDCAT WINE is a fast moving, action-packed crime thriller in which the attorneys break the law as often as the criminals do. Readers are going to love the obsessive compulsive protagonist who believes cleanliness is next to nervousness as she does a lot of cleaning when anxious. Still Lilly goes to amazing lengths to prove her friends are innocent although these eccentrics also drive her crazy. Claire Matturro provides a light hearted chick lit mystery that grips the reader from the first page and keeps them laughing until the final cleaning spree.

Adam Fawer
ISBN: 0060736771 $24.95, 403 pp.

Columbia statistics Ph.D. candidate and teacher David Caine is a compulsive gambler, always believing in the odds. However probability fails him when he loses while holding a near perfect hand. He owes a Russian Mafioso big time. At the same time he struggles with his dangerous debt, David also receives experimental treatment for his temporal lobe epilepsy. However, the treatment provides David the ability to enter the everywhen, where he "witnesses" countless futures in which he selects which one he wants for himself. Soon, the Feds and the Russians seek David for their own purposes. With his just out of the asylum schizophrenic twin Jasper and CIA killer Nava Vaner as his allies, David calculates the odds of survival in spite of probably turning into Laplace's Demon mathematically calculating the future. IMPROBABLE is an enjoyable action-packed thriller starring an intriguing antihero whose gambling is as out of control as an itchy edge in his blood. Having someone like that able to see the future is a delightful twist because the fever is in the paying not the winning (though David does not want to lose). Adam Fawer provides fabulous insight into the mathematics and physics that serve as the background to everywhen, but that also slows down the plot and feels awkward when killer Nava joins the fray. Though mindful of the Professor Q books of Trevor Hoyle, but with more of an espionage mob ring than the historical take of the latter, fans will appreciate this interesting thriller, which probably means an educated dedicated fan base.

The Body in the Snowdrift
Katherine Hall Page
ISBN: 0060525304 $23.95, 256 pp.

Caterer Faith Fairchild is not looking forward to all the Fairchilds getting together at Pine Slopes, a Vermont ski resort. Her husband's family threatens to emotionally overwhelm her and on her first day at the resort she finds the body of local lawyer Boyd Harrison who invested quite a sum of money in Pine Slopes. Everyone thinks he had a heart attack since Boyd felt chest pains and reached into his pocket for his medicine. However, someone substituted the nitroglycerin with mints. Shortly after his death, the head chef John Forester disappears without giving anyone advance notice. Faith thinks it is strange because he has been at the resort for years and loved his job. Malicious pranks like a lifelike blow up doll painted in red to look like blood floating in the pool and the sabotage of the ski lift convince Faith someone wants to bankrupt the resort. When John's body is splattered all over the mountain because someone pushed him into the snow making machine, Faith investigates only to walk into a trap set by the killer. Though the fifteenth Faith Fairchild mystery, the series retains the freshness and originality of the very first book which won the Agatha Award. The heroine is drawn into the Fairchilds' problems, getting into arguments with her sister-in-laws and trying to keep her nieces and nephews safe and happy in spite of their mother's obsessive compulsion need to regiment their lives. There are many people who could have killed the victims but Faith has to find a motive compelling enough for someone to eliminate the chef and the investor. Katherine Hall Page has written an exciting down to earth amateur sleuth mystery.

Not A Girl Detective
Susan Kandel
ISBN 0060581077 $23.95, 294 pp.

Cece Caruso has made a career writing biographies of dead mystery writers and while researching her last book (I DREAMED I MARRIED PERRY MASON) she solved a homicide. An obsessive Nancy Drew fan, she is now writing about the pseudonymous Carolyn Keane who was really a succession of ghost writers contracted to write under that name. Her focuses is the picture of Nancy Drew, the model Grace Horton. She meets fellow Nancy Drew collector Eagar Edwards who shows her a picture of a natural Grace Horton painted by Russell H. Tandy. The two hit it off so well that Edgar offers to let her and her friends stay at his Palm Springs home while she give a talk to the Nancy Drew Chums at their annual convention. Shortly after she arrives there, she finds his body with a bullet in his head. Somebody searches her home and her car looking for something making Cece determined to find out who that person is and why he killed Edgar even if it means placing her own life in danger. Readers will be reminded of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum when they read Susan Kandel's Cece Caruso capers as both are funny, plagued by romantic problems and once on the scent of a killer, keep tracking like obsessed bloodhounds. There are many suspects who could have killed Edgar but what really keeps the reader interested is the urge to know what the killer is looking for. This is a very special amateur sleuth tale that will be a hit with readers who love a good puzzle to solve.

The Serpent on the Crown
Elizabeth Peters
ISBN: 0060591781 $25.95

The war to end wars has been over for a few years so that by 1922 it is relatively safe for Egyptologists to return to excavations especially in the Valley of the Kings. Foreign archeologists back in Egypt include Amelia Peabody and her spouse Emerson working with their son Ramses and daughter-in-law Nefret at Deir el Medina. Author Magda Petherick arrives with an ancient gold artifact figure of an Egyptian king that she insists is cursed; the owner dies rather quickly once possessing the statuette as occurred to her spouse, a known collector. Magda pleads with Emerson to return the blighted relic to its tomb before someone else dies. However others disagree with Magda and want the statuette as the gold alone is worth a fortune. This crowded field includes Emerson, his friend Cyrus, the victim's two adult children, and a host of others that would make DeMille proud. The ethical Amelia wants to do the right thing so she begins retracing the ill-fated steps that Magda's spouse Pringle took when the widow vanishes and is later found dead. Amelia plans to expose the culprit. Though the family interrelationships seem somewhat tedious in the seventeenth Peabody historical tale, the mystery and the Egyptology in the Post WWI era make for a fine time for fans of the series. The story line is action-packed yet provides a deep look at how 1920s archeologists looked back to ancient civilizations. The death of Pringle is cleverly crafted to make it appear as if a brother curse to Tut's exists and the who-done-it is fabulously designed so that the reader will want Amelia to find the culprit. This is a solid entry in a fine series.

Wildcat Wine
Claire Matturro
ISBN: 0060567074 $23.95, 304 pp.

When farmer Dave comes to Sarasota lawyer Lillian Belle Rosemary Cleary with a truckload of Muscatine wine, he meets her legal secretary Bonita and her son Benny. Since Lilly is working, he takes Benny to look for jaguarundi in the Myakka River State park. The trip ends with Dave and his friend Waylon arrested for stealing the wine from his employer. Lilly hires Phillip Cohen to represent him and he makes it clear that he is interested in her. Benny tells Lilly that they found a corpse and a bag of money when they were in the park. Lilly goes to Dave's employer to ask him to drop the charges and does not say anything about the dead man or the money to the police. A few days later, Dave's employer is found dead in a homicide intended to look like an accident. Kenneth, a partner in the firm where Lilly works, harasses Bonita who is related to Dave's employer's wife; Lilly has no idea what his motivation could be. Shortly thereafter Kenneth is killed. Lilly knows the three murders are linked, but trying to learn how could make her the next victim. WILDCAT WINE is a fast moving, action-packed crime thriller in which the attorneys break the law as often as the criminals do. Readers are going to love the obsessive compulsive protagonist who believes cleanliness is next to nervousness as she does a lot of cleaning when anxious. Still Lilly goes to amazing lengths to prove her friends are innocent although these eccentrics also drive her crazy. Claire Matturro provides a light hearted chick lit mystery that grips the reader from the first page and keeps them laughing until the final cleaning spree.

Adam Fawer
ISBN: 0060736771 $24.95, 403 pp.

Columbia statistics Ph.D. candidate and teacher David Caine is a compulsive gambler, always believing in the odds. However probability fails him when he loses while holding a near perfect hand. He owes a Russian Mafioso big time. At the same time he struggles with his dangerous debt, David also receives experimental treatment for his temporal lobe epilepsy. However, the treatment provides David the ability to enter the everywhen, where he "witnesses" countless futures in which he selects which one he wants for himself. Soon, the Feds and the Russians seek David for their own purposes. With his just out of the asylum schizophrenic twin Jasper and CIA killer Nava Vaner as his allies, David calculates the odds of survival in spite of probably turning into Laplace's Demon mathematically calculating the future. IMPROBABLE is an enjoyable action-packed thriller starring an intriguing antihero whose gambling is as out of control as an itchy edge in his blood. Having someone like that able to see the future is a delightful twist because the fever is in the paying not the winning (though David does not want to lose). Adam Fawer provides fabulous insight into the mathematics and physics that serve as the background to everywhen, but that also slows down the plot and feels awkward when killer Nava joins the fray. Though mindful of the Professor Q books of Trevor Hoyle, but with more of an espionage mob ring than the historical take of the latter, fans will appreciate this interesting thriller, which probably means an educated dedicated fan base.

Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox
Nancy Rubin Stuart
ISBN: 0151010137 $25.00, 393 pp.

This is an intriguing biography of Maggie Fox who along with her sister, Katy, started the spiritualist movement that talked with the dead during the middle of the eighteenth century in Hydesville, New York. Nancy Ruben Stuart makes a sound argument that teenage Maggie bored with the small town after living in Rochester created the weird knockings that she and her sibling claimed were deceased people communicating through them. The word of what the Fox sisters could do spread and people came from miles around for a reading. Married sister Leah saw a chance for them to make money and soon a movement spread across the country. However, at nineteen years old Maggie fell in love with Arctic explorer Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, who demanded she stopped what he considered a nasty hoax, spiritualism. In her sixties she confessed that spiritualism was a fraud although she continued to give seances. This biography is fascinating as it provides a deep sense of time and place (upstate New York was a hot bed for cult activities) as well as a powerful look at Maggie and her family. The author contends that spiritualism still has a hold on people in the twenty-first century with New Age movements like the psychic hotline. Readers will appreciate this strong glimpse at a teen who shammed a nation.

A Good Man
Judith Henry Wall
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0684873885 $13.00 304 pp.

In Lamberton, Texas Rhonda, Holly and Gina Kay were best buddies attending high school together. Rhonda had one foible: her obsessive love for her boyfriend Terry Robertson, an heir with a suicidal attitude. Her parents forced Rhonda to leave Terry to attend college; eventually she became a lawyer. In high school Holly fantasized of becoming a famous fashion designer, but instead runs a successful wedding-gown business. Gina Kay was impoverished with an ambulatory mother until she won the Miss American Teenager beauty contest that included a college scholarship. The friendship between the three buds ended when Terry eloped with Gina Kay. The threesome is together for the first time in two decades at Terry's ranch now owned by his widow Gina Kay following his funeral. After numerous attempts to kill himself and passengers by vehicular suicide, Terry lived up to the mantra of if at first you don't succeed try again. With the object of their schism interred Rhonda, Holly and Gina Kay head to Manhattan to exorcise his ghost find reconciliation, and start new adventures with Russian immigrants in Brighton Beach. This profound character study looks deep inside the three amigas and through them at the late Terry. The story line hooks the audience who want to know more about Terry and his relationships with the trio. Though the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn enable further glimpses at the lead protagonists, that sidebar takes away from the critical essence of how a male can break up the strongest sisterhood bond (explained via well designed flashbacks). Judith Henry Wall paints a powerful family drama although the childhood friends are not related by blood, they act like siblings.

No Place like Home
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743264894 $25.95, 368 pp.

When she was a child, Liza Barton accidentally killed her mother and severely injured her step-father; she was acquitted of the homicide based on the grounds that she tried to protect her mother from her stepfather who her mother kicked out of the house. Still the townsfolk felt Liza was a bad seed and rejoiced when a distant relative adopted her. She changed her name to Celia Foster and following the death of her wealthy husband, Celia married lawyer Alex Nolan. She and Alex seek a home for themselves and her four year old son from her first marriage.. Alex surprises Celia when he buys a house in Mendham, New Jersey; the same home that Celia killed her mother in. The realtor Georgette Grove never revealed the infamy of the house to Alex, and Celia remains silent too because she vowed to her late spouse on his deathbed to conceal her past. Not long after the family moves in, Georgette is murdered with the police suspecting Celia. Already in trouble, a betrayal could lead to her death and that of her son.. There are very few authors who write suspense as well as Mary Higgins Clark does; there are even fewer writers who can use an improbable coincidence and make it seem plausible. The police and the ambitious prosecutor (who is thinking of becoming governor) struggle with the present day crimes that send them relooking the Barton homicide. Celia is a good role model who has overcome plenty to become a solid citizen, a nurturing mother, and a loving spouse. Her strength enables her to survive almost all of life's below the belt blows. Ms. Clark provides an entertaining thriller that displays her storytelling skills.

Savage Garden
Denise Hamilton
ISBN: 0743261925 $22.00, 336 pp.

In Los Angeles the opening day curtain call is in one hour for the play Our Lady of the Barrio by gangbanger Alfonso Reventon; however the leading lady, explosive actress Catarina Velosi has not shown up at the playhouse. Since Alfonso is a childhood friend, Silvio Aguilar asks his girlfriend Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond to accompany him to Catarina's apartment where they find her dead. The police wonder if Alfonso who worshipped Catarina and wrote his play for her killed her in a passionate rage or Silvio whose entrance to the crime scene with a perfect witness might have covered up evidence that he was previously there. Eve, accompanied by African-American reporter Felice Morgan, conducts inquiries into those who knew the volatile diva to determine who had the opportunity because several people besides the two prime suspects which include Alfonso's wife, the victim's drama teacher, and a Hollywood big shot, along with a seemingly cast of thousands had motives. The latest Eve Diamond investigation is refreshed by Felice who brings a youthful (annoying to Eve) vigor to the case even as the veteran reporter wonders if her "protege" is a racial quota Blair clone or the real thing; either way she does not want a partner. The who-done-it cleverly makes Eve seems more real than her previous appearances because of her resentment of having a tag-along and how personalized this homicide is with the ties to her boyfriend. Though the racial quota vs. talent issue is never fully explored, fans of Southern California artsy mysteries will agree that Denise Hamilton has scored with this Ace of Diamonds journalistic investigative novel.

Controlled Burn: Stories of Prison, Crime, and Men
Scott Wolven
ISBN: 0743260112 $22.00

These insightful thirteen tales takes a deep look at mostly men considered by society as undesirables (the most positive rank) or throw-away the key dangerous cretins and a few women support characters whose hearts petrified years ago. The anthology is broken into two sections: The Northeast Kingdom (the prison population impacts election districts so without further delay needs politically to remain high) and The Fugitive West (justice is a fictionalized eastern term). Though seemingly different in austerity, the two sections share in common life in prison although some of the jails are not state or privately outsourced facilities, but segregated from the norm by alcohol or drug abuse or personal violence. This isolation from positive family values lead to replacement anti-values from an opposite pole predator peer pack. Even the good guys become tainted by the overwhelming subtractive nature of this sub-populace that Scott Wolven stars in his short stories. Perhaps the three strikes your out crowd should spend time with some of Mr. Wolven's creations, antagonists who will show the outcome not the output of understanding what crime is worth incarceration. These thirteen stories are deep, thought provoking and exciting as Mr. Wolven touches a nerve with a strong series of lead losers who you want to avoid even though the reader can't forget them.

Vineyard Prey
Philip R. Craig
ISBN 0743246772 $24.00, 256 pp.

J.W. Jackson moved his family to Martha's Vineyard to get away from big city life and crime although at times the island resembles the mean city streets. As an ex-city policeman, Jackson takes care of himself which is why Joe Begay, his sergeant when they served in Vietnam, comes to him when he needs help. Jackson smuggles Joe back onto the island after he leaves it and meets up with him at a designated place in Cape Cod. Joe works for one of the black ops organization and he and five other members of a trade delegation were able to kill two terrorists code named Rudolph and Scarecrow. The Easter Bunny got away and since that mission three of the group has been killed. Begay believes the Easter Bunny is coming after him and Kate, the other surviving member of the mission. Kate left her home after finding poisoned needles on pillows in her home. She came to Martha Vineyard's to work with Joe in taking the Easter Bunny down. Unfortunately Jackson becomes involved in their mission because the killer has linked him to Kate and Joe, putting all three of their lives in danger. VINEYARD PREY is an exciting and fun reading experience because the protagonist keeps getting pulled into a situation that he really wants no part of all the while protesting. He is happy to stay out of the fiasco and just go on with his life. Phillip K. Craig's latest work is more action-packed than usual and it is so easy to become absorbed in the plot that the everyday world fades away.

A Venom Beneath The Skin
Marcus M. Villatoro
Justin Charles
20 Park Plaza, Suite 209, Boston, Ma.02116
ISBN 1932112375 $24.95, 230 pp.

After taking down Minos, Romilia Chacon, a Nashville Police Department detective is offered a job with the FBI in Los Angeles, which she accepts. In LA she has an affair with Special Agent Samuel "Chip" Pierce. The relationship ends when he wants more from her than she can give; they go their separate ways until one night he calls her to see if they can start anew since he is retiring. As much as she cares for him, she can not marry a man she doesn't love. That night a man breaks into Chip's home and murders him. The evidence, markings on his chest and a poisoned dart injecting venom into his system, suggests that drug trafficker Tekun Uman, killed him because of the former agent's involvement with the woman he loves. After reviewing Chip's files and other evidence Romilia concludes that Tekun Uman isn't Chip's killer, but made to look like he did it. She has no idea who would kill Chip and why and how Tekun Uman fits into the scenario. Who is behind Chip's death and the murders of several drug traffickers and why he wants them dead is the core of one of the most exciting storylines in a police procedural in the past year. It is hard to tell the heroes from the villains in A VENOM BENEATH THE SKIN because all wear masks to hide their true faces. Marcus M. Villatoro is a talented writer who hopefully will create more Romilia Chacon novels.

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592799477 $TBA 389 pp.

Kaileel Tohre, leader of the Dominion, mentally and physically including sexually abused Conar McGregor as a child, but the prince's spirit and ultimately the love of Princess Liza saved his soul. However, Kaileel finally apparently has triumphed in deleting the human aspects of Conar when he dumped the Prince inside the Labyrinth where for years without the tender love of his wife and their children and the support of friends, he became more animal than human with survival his only goal. Six years have passed since he finally escaped from the lunacy of the Labyrinth imprisonment, but instead of seeking loved ones Conar has turned into the Dark Overlord assaulting and stealing from the Dominion. Already concerned about Conar actions against them, the Dominion panics when they learn he decides to visit his wife who is no longer his spouse. Already insane, he will find a castle is not a home, his child not his son, and a puppet king bowing to the depraved Kaileel. Conar McGregor reaps a bitter harvest resulting from years of horrific experiences in the fifth installment of the captivating WindLegends Saga, the super THE WINDREAPER, perhaps the darkest of this dark fantasy saga so far. Dark psychological overtones provide depth and complexity that makes this hero human understandably flawed though ironically his humanity has been stripped away. Conar survived atrocities that would destroy other people, but his obsessive desire for revenge threatens to lead him down a path of destruction. Charlotte Boyett-Compo's masterful storytelling takes the seemingly forbidden love of Connor and Liza to memorable, haunting, and tragic depths that readers will need tissues, miss sleep, and yet demand more.

Signs in the Blood
Vicki Lane
ISBN: 0440242088 $6.99

Over two decades ago, Elizabeth and Sam Goodweather moved to Ridley, Branch in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains. Five years ago, Sam died, but Elizabeth had their two daughters to raise so had no time to mourn her loss though she missed her partner. Now Rosemary lives and works in Chapel Hill and Laurel in Ashville so the empty nest widow, in spite of her herb and flower shop and her nephew nearby, feels lonely especially with the recent death of her best friend who adopted her and Sam when they first arrived. A concerned Miss Birdie asks Elizabeth for help because she feels something bad has happened to her adult child Cletus Gentry since his pup came home alone with his bag. The sheriff ignores the concerns of the two women insisting that Cletus with the mind of a child has wandered off for days before even reaching the Tennessee line. While Elizabeth tracks Cletus' path, Miss Birdie's fears prove correct when a kayaker finds Cletus' corpse. However, Elizabeth's search places her in jeopardy by a soulless avenger who cleanses transgressions of others by dispatching them to the afterlife. SIGNS IN THE BLOOD is a terrific regional amateur sleuth mystery starring an interesting protagonist who keeps the plot focused and several eccentric secondary characters who provide an anchor to the area. The story line insures that the mountains and the heroine are fully developed before turning into a serial killing cozy (strange combo). Vicki Lane writes a top quality woman in peril tale that fans will like and want more treks up the Appalachia.

Premeditated Murder
Ed Gaffney
ISBN: 0440241944 $6.99, 336 pp.

In Northampton, Massachusetts a big black man Calvin Thompson waited next door for the right moment to kill six men. He fired 120 bullets at them and received two back. District Attorney Fran O'Neill feels he has a perfect case for premeditated murder and plans to prosecute Calvin under the newly enacted death penalty law. Attorneys Terry Tallach and Zach Wilson defend Calvin, who confessed he carried out his plan and killed the six. They see little hope of getting an acquittal so they lean towards an insanity plea as the legal team prepares for septuagenarian Judge Cottonwood, whose bench bias against alleged criminals is well known since his mother was raped and murdered. Instead of a straightforward case, Zach and Terry uncover a terrorist plot in which the six dead men were participants and a seventh member is still going ahead with destructive plans for Independence Day that ties in to a war in Africa that involves the White House. This is a deep legal thriller that at its best in the court scenes and when the lawyers meet with their client. The media reaction is prejudicial as the Boston Post displays a picture of a bloody terrorizing looking Cal whom their headline calls Monster. Though the story line seems a bit over the top with the ties to the Oval Office the audience will not care as along with Terry and Zach fans will want to know the truth before the spin maestros twist it beyond comprehension. Ed Gaffney writes a fabulous tale that grips readers from the moment Judge Cottonwood shows his bench bias and never slows down until the confrontation with number seven.

Brian M. Wiprud
ISBN: 044024188X $6.99

Manhattan taxidermy collector fortyish Garth Carson is touring New England looking for treasures. He stops in Vermont where he purchases an albino crow that he plans to give to his girlfriend Angie for her birthday. As he leaves the store, a young man wearing a Portland College sweatshirt accosts him claiming the "raven" is his. A few moments later, the younger man Bret Fletcher collapses at Garth's feet. The local constable arrives and reluctantly allows Garth with his New York plates and the stuffed bird to drive away. Angie thinks the crow is a remarkable one of a kind item though she teases her beau that he only gives her dead things. Not long afterward, Jim Kim enters Garth's taxidermy collectibles store insisting he has friends in the market for an albino crow. Soon others follow with each new player seemingly more dangerous than the previous one, which include the Feds. Garth has no idea what he wrought when he bought this present as this gift is for the birds. As with PIPSQUEAK, STUFFED is a wild insane thriller starring a white crow in a jar, but kept together by the bewildered Garth who cannot understand why the Feds, thugs, and crazy "collectors" want Angie's birthday present. The story line is amusing and wacky as Garth receives offers from daft souls some of which he delicately better take careful consideration if he refuses them. Brian M. Wiprud provides a terrific thriller STUFFED with the zanies that showcase a likable collector who proves he is no PIPSQUEAK.

Suicide Squeeze
Víctor Gischler
ISBN: 0385337256 $23.00, 288 pp.

In Florida, Connor Samson is a could-have been who never was as his sure shot major league baseball career never panned out. Now he is broke, drinks beer and watches sports on color TVs that have become black and white or fuzzy gray when they work. Connor hits an all time low when he is called out on strikes because his check for brews at Salty's Saloon bounces higher than a bouncing rubber donut. Knowing he better pay his tab if he wants bar beers, as the Floridian dives share information better than national security organizations, he asks his friend Gulf Coast Collections Ed Odeski for work. Connor is assigned to repo the Electric Jenny boat from Teddy Folger, who has fled to Pensacola, Florida after burning down his Mobile, Alabama comic book store in an insurance scam. Inside the vessel, Connor finds a Maz (World Series game seven walk off home run) as Terry left behind an extremely valuable Joe DiMaggio card that contains the autographs of the Yankee Clipper, Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder. However, American memorabilia collector Japanese billionaire Ahira Kurisaka demands ownership of the card. He sends his thugs who use bats to bash heads to squeeze the card out of Connor. SUICIDE SQUEEZE is a zany southeast caper starring an intriguing loser with a chance for a grand slam if he survives long enough to swing the bat. As expected from a Victor Gischler thriller (see THE PISTOL POETS and GUN MONKEY), the crazies are out in force seeking fellow lunatic Connor. Desperate to try a SUICIDE SQUEEZE though bunting is not his forte; Connor hopes to live past the seventh inning stretch of a wild game.

The Hamptons
Linda Dominique Grosvenor
ISBN: 0974171425 $19.95, 148 pp.

Following her divorce from her philandering spouse, cosmetic dentist Arnez, Joelle Sinclair quits her job as an arts events organizer although her latest work at the Whitney is a testimony to her skills. Joelle leaves Manhattan to move into the home of her sister Stephanie in the Hamptons; because of her excellent references and work history, she obtains a position at the Kenneth Oberlin Gallery. Joelle plans the end of the season gala for the rich, famous, and influential. Meanwhile Manhattan attorney Jabari Mitchell meets and desires Joelle although she insists she is into male abstinence. However, he is persuasive and soon both agree to a summer fling as he is big city and she is determined to be Long Island. As three days of bliss go by Joelle begins to reconsider her rustification plan. She also refuses to make the same mistake she made with Arnez, who had a drug problem before their marriage that she was unaware of until after they wed. Joelle hires a private investigator to make sure that her beau is who he claims he is. Linda Dominique Grosvenor provides readers with a wonderful breezy summer read with a story line that is fast-paced and character driven predominantly by Joelle. Readers will suppose this is a summer romance that might continue into the fall and beyond until the author cleverly reveals a stunner of a twist that works well with a spin that comes from nowhere yet is believable and will shock the audience. Beach readers will appreciate this fine story with perhaps the only drawback is losing oneself in the novel so that sunburn is a threat.

Original Cyn
Sue Margolis
ISBN: 0385337345 $12.00

In Dublin, likable and sweet thirty two years old junior copywriter Cyn Fishbein enjoys spending time with her friend almost forty gay hair stylist and wannabe writer Hugh, who believes his biological clock is ticking. Cyn also likes visiting her wacky family, which she does frequently never forgetting as a child mom defeated cancer. The nice Cyn learns that job rival for a promotion Chelsea Roggenfelder, daughter of an American advertising giant, is out to eliminate the competition. Chelsea absconds with Cyn's ingenious concept for a low fat donut ad campaign. So when her work enemy is hospitalized, Cyn poses as her adversary in order to prove to the donut folks that she, not Chelsea, developed the campaign. Meanwhile, a guy named Joe joins the same therapy group that Cyn belongs to and soon they break the rules with a romance. Though the sex is great, Cyn becomes disenchanted when she learns how Joe used a phony ploy to join, which reminds her of what she did at work. This work force political tale uses the interesting premise that inner office competition can be destructive to the participants and their business. The story line focuses on innocent Cyn seeking to gain recognition and a modicum of respect for what she did and had stolen by the sleazy Chelsea. Cyn is delightful as she knows that two negatives don't make a positive except in Algebra, but still feels she must fight back. Though the support cast is two dimensional, fans will appreciate this look at a lack of ethics in the work place (that seems increasingly an oxymoron).

Just Peachy
Jill Winters
ISBN: 0451215060 $12.95, 336 pp.

In Boston, bubbly optimist creative consultant Peach Kelley enjoys being little miss sunshine; her friends and co-workers think she lives a charmed golden life as she always sees the cup filled. Her upbeat outlook on life makes her popular with her peers at Millennium Gift Baskets. She is especially good at assisting others with blind dates although her own social life is nonexistent at least when it comes to men. Peach arranges a blind date for sad sack office accountant Dennis Emberson, a single father with a teenage daughter. She anticipates "Pig Pen's dad" to have the time of his lihe and perhaps even fall in love and looks forward to the post game report, but Dennis apparently vanished. Peach accompanied by the new network administrator, hunk Adam Quinlan begins investigating the disappearance. However, someone wants her to back off and threatens to harm her if she persists. Worse she finds more danger with Adam at her side as she is half in love with him although he has his own woes to deal with even if he is very attracted to the animated pain in the butt and heart Peach. Jill Winters latest fruity tale (see RASPBERRY CRUSH and PLUM GIRL) is an amusing romantic suspense with the emphasis on the humor and the romance. The lead protagonist is much more than JUST PEACHY as she keeps the fine tale together. Her counterpart Adam raises her hormone level while also making her concerned for breaking office fraternization rules and more so potentially her heart. Though Peach's Pollyanna outlook is too difficult to handle before caffeine, fans will enjoy this amateur sleuth chick lit combine that proves this is an author for all seasons.

Mercedes Lackey
ISBN 0756402468 $25.95, 320 pp.

For years the magi, a magical evil organization, has worked in the shadows to gain power; now they have come out in the open with the Eye of Light, a weapon of mass destruction. The war between Alta and Tia goes on because the magi feed off the essence of the dying and become even more powerful. Those with psionic powers, the god touched are being drained of their power to feed the insatiable hunger of the magi. The magi believe that the fighting force of the Jousters and there dragons are dead but in the desert city of Sanctuary, far from the magic of the magi, a dragon wing survives led by Kiron who once was a serf and a dragon boy in Tia. Sanctuary welcomes all the refugees who are fleeing the magi. The magi plan to use the Eye against the Tia army that is invading Alta; Kiron must rescue the woman he loves and rally the people so that when the earthquake hits as a byproduct of using the Eye, they will be able to evacuate in an orderly manner so that some of Alta will survive. Book three of The Dragon Jousters" is a fantastic finale to an excellent fantasy trilogy. Kiron has grown from a subservient serf (lower than a slave) to a man who leads a mighty force that can take on the magi and save thousands of people. Much of the novel takes place in SANCTUARY as the people make a dead city come alive. The dragons have a special bond based on love and trust with their humans and fans of Anne MacCaffrey's Pern series will want to read this very special series.

Julie E. Czerneda
ISBN 0756402603 $24.95, 464 pp.

Man has colonized many planets and belongs to the Interspecies Union who fixed The Transect that enables ships to get from Point A to Point B in an instant. Brymn, a seven foot seven blue alien Dhryn, informs the government and Norcoast Salmon Research Facility's Dr. Mac Connor that a hostile race the Ro is coming to destroy Earthlings; nobody will be aware of it because of a unique stealth technology they use. Trusting Brymn, Mac travels to the Dhryn home world where he and species transform into feeders, devouring every planet that is in their path. Back on Earth, Mac wants to forget the horror she witnessed first hand. Unfortunately she is the only one who can read and speak Dhyrn and is needed at a top secret conference of the Interspecies Union. The leaders of the Union want Mac to figure out why the Dhyrn turned from allies to carnivorous predators. Mac who specializes in the migrations of salmons thinks that the Dhryn are acting on a similar biological impulse. She finds evidence that though the Ro can deal with the Dhryn, they are not the saviors of the IC or earth but their enemy. Mac must convince the powers that be who is the foe and who is the ally. Book two of the Species Imperative saga is a fascinating, action packed work that brings together believable sentient beings working together for a common cause. Mac is a terrific heroine who though she fears the Dhryn is willing to work with a captured one in order to figure out why they changed and devoured three planets, leaving them barren of all life. She is the heroic thread that brings a fabulous science fiction thriller together.

Barbara Campbell
ISBN 0756402905 $6.99, 432 pp.

The tribe of the Oak has suffered tremendous losses due to plague but they still intend to observe the midwinter ritual where the Oak-Lord and the Holly-lord battle. Oak defeats Holly so that spring will arrive. Darak the hunter is not looking forward to this ritual because his beloved brother Tinnean will become Tree-Brother, apprenticed to the Tree father and will owe his allegiance to his master instead of his family. When it is time to travel to the dimension where the First Forrest lives, Darak refuses to join them and witness the loss of the brother who will be part of yet separate from the tribe. Something goes wrong at the ritual and the Oak and Tinnean disappear. Tinnean's body is inhabited by the Holly-Lord while the Oak and Darak's brother are in the land of Chaos, put there by the spirit of Morgoth, the evil Tree-Father, who held the position before Strauth killed him. Darak and his allies prepare to do battle to bring Tinnean back into his body and finish the rite so spring will return. Think Jean Auel and Judith Tarr and readers will have some idea what HEARTWOOD is all about. The setting feels prehistoric with magic an everyday occurrence. Darak is a strong stubborn man who loves deeply and wants to keep those he cares about close to him safe; when his brother is in danger he is willing sacrifices himself to free his sibling from the enemy. Barbara Campbell creates characters readers will care about and produces a storyline that grabs reader interest.

Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764222201 $12.99, 348 pp.

In 1886 Dakotah Territory, fourteen-year-old Opal Torvald finds school boring and taking time away from working on the ranch of her brother-in-law. Cutting class, Opal goes swimming in the nearby Little Missouri River with little on when a drifter threatens her. Her friend Atticus Grady fights the stranger. In Pennsylvania, Minister Jacob Chandler feels remorse over Melody who when she arrives at his home ailing informs him she no longer can take care of their seven year old son Joel before leaving the child behind with Jacob. Unable to face his flock Jacob accompanied by Joel head west getting off the train in the Dakotah Territory when they run out of money. He finds work as a ranch hand though he is not very competent at it. Meanwhile the drifter incident has had repercussions with Atticus being beaten badly and a neighbor killed. Opal's sister sends her to attend a New York school where she hopes the tomboy learns to behave more like a lady and to get her away from the drifter. A sad Opal wonders when she will be able to return. Book three in the Dakotah Treasures series, OPAL, is an interesting Americana fiction that brings to life a bygone era. Readers who want a better perspective of two key secondary characters will be better off perusing the first two tales (see RUBY and PEARL) although this novel can stand alone. Opal better at ranching than the average male seems a stretch until the reader compares her to teenage golf and tennis sensations like Wie and Sharapova. Her trouble adapting to New York City and Jacob's to ranching make for a fine taleand sets up another novel.

The Hope Within
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764227726 $12.99, 400 pp.

1886 fire burns down the Diamond V ranch house and several other facilities forcing the Selby family to relocate to nearby Virginia City, Montana Territory. Dianne Selby hates living in town, but her spouse Cole keeps delaying their return with one pretext after another. Cole learns that his father Hallam is dying so he, Dianne and their children travel to Kansas to say their last respects starting with his dad meeting his wife and grandchildren for the first time and helping his mother Mary cope with her loss and work the farm. Upon completing the trek, Mary sets the tone greeting Dianne about never visiting when her spouse was healthy. After Hallam dies, Mary pressures Cole to run the family farm he inherited while remaining nasty towards his wife and children; Dianne decides to end her cruelty to her grandchildren by taking them with her and going home though it means deserting her husband. The final inspirational historical novel in the Heirs of Montana quartet, THE HOPE WITHIN, is a terrific family drama that vividly portrays late nineteenth century life on the Great Prairie especially in Montana and Kansas. The story line is character and geographical-climatic driven as the audience obtains a taste of the era through simple interwoven into the plot nuances; for instance Cole's parents and his wife and children never met before implies distance (communication and transportation). Fans will cherish the finale as the extended cast provides depth and Dianne sees hope that her husband will come back to her and their children as THE HOPE WITHIN her remains strong because of her belief in God.

A Table by the Window
Lawana Blackwell
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764224727 $12.99, 400 pp.

In San Francisco, twenty-five year old Carley Reed, an English literature teacher at the Emerson Preparatory School catches four of her students plagiarizing. Her boss wants her to drop it because the grandfather of one of the pupils is the school's top donor. That night private investigator Dennis Wingate informs Carley that her grandmother Cordelia Walker passed away three months ago. Carley is sad feeling all alone and wishing she had met the woman, but her late mother insured that never happened. Shockingly, Carley learns she inherited a home in Tallulah, Mississippi. Angry with the school's cavalier treatment of cheating in which they try to make her feel guilty, Carley resigns from the school and heads south. In Mississippi she meets her Great Aunt and other relatives who she never knew existed. Carley also wants to help heal a new friend, who is still grieving from a hit and run death of a loved one that happened six years ago and never was solved. However, an unknown person pressures her to back away from the Gweneth Brown vehicular homicide. This is an inspiring tale that focuses on the human need for nurturing, belonging and actualization from friends and family something that Carley never received from her mom or anyone else until she came to Tallulah. The hit and run mystery adds suspense that Lawana Blackwell blends nicely into the prime theme, but also takes away from Carley's efforts to adapt to a reengineered world in which people care about her and if she can learn to accept that she would never be alone again. Ms. Blackwell provides a deep character driven novel on the importance of being loved.

The Scent of Lilacs
Ann H. Gabhart
Revell (Bethany House)
ISBN: 0800730801 $12.99, 320 pp.

In 1964 Hollyhill, Kentucky, the owner of the Hollyhill Barrier David Brooke knows why he can only be an interim pastor at the Mt. Pleasant Church because the congregation expects its leader married. Thus David works the newspaper to feed his extended family and the church out of love. Seven years ago, David's wife Adrienne left without a look back taking their older daughter then thirteen years old Tabitha with her. She left behind their other child then six years old Jocie. David's septuagenarian Aunt Love lives with them, but he feels more like a referee between his two female relatives than their kin. Jocie wants to know about her family to what made Aunt Love into a preaching stoic spinster who is turning senile except for her biblical citations and why her mother left especially without her. She would also like to see her older sister who turn twenty shortly. As Jocie investigates her recent roots, secrets some would prefer left hidden begin to surface; she learns more about her aunt, her parents, and even the newspaper pressman. THE SCENT OF LILACS is a well written Christian historical family drama that sub-genre will deeply cherish. Jocie is a great inquisitive young teen struggling to understand the dynamics that engulf her in a shroud. The totally in black Aunt love will surprise readers when they learn alongside Jocie about her past. Finally, David is split apart as suffers guilt over his broken marriage and loss of a child and finding solace tending to his flock so that secularly he feels broken while spiritually connected. Ann. H. Gabhart provides an inspirational family drama.

The River House
Margaret Leroy
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316741574 $23.95, 320 pp.

Westcotes Clinic psychologist Ginnie Holmes feels out of sorts that so her colleague asks if she suffers from burnout. Ginnie is concerned that her daughter Molly is leaving the nest to attend Oxford, but still has Amber at home and her spouse Greg. Perhaps it is her client seven years old Kyle, who she suspects has suffered a major trauma that leaves her uneasy, but mostly when she is honest with herself it is her affair with Detective Inspector Will Hampden that she treasures yet feels guilty about. During a rendezvous with Will, Molly looking out a window notices a man running in a downpour. Will insists the guy is a jogger or just trying to get out of the torrent, but Molly insists he did not have jogging clothing on and had no reason to be in this isolated spot. Not long afterward, the media announces that a murdered female corpse has been found near the spot where Will and Molly last met. She believes she saw the killer and should come forward with her information, but to explain why she was there means the destruction of her family including the disdain from her daughters. THE RIVER HOUSE is a deep psychological suspense thriller that slowly builds the suspense with a close look at an already troubled Molly before she witnesses the probable killer fleeing the crime scene. Once Molly realizes she must choose between losing everything perhaps even her lover or remain silent and letting a murderer remain free, fans will feel her internal torment that rips asunder her guts. This tense character driven tale along with POSTCARDS FROM BERLIN displays Margaret Leroy's skill at a person's mental collapse.

The Closers
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316734942 $26.95, 400 pp.

Three years ago Harry Bosch retired from the Los Angeles Police Department after a quarter of a century of service, but has returned to active duty. The LAPD Chief warns him that things are different from his previous stint and he is "not to break the law to enforce the law" or he will be back into retirement. Harry understands that the FBI is looking over the shoulders of LAPD and will adhere to the law as he works the Open Unsolved cases. Among several cases, Harry and "partner" Kizmin Rider look into the 1988 murder of sixteen year old Rebecca Verloren that the detectives ruled as probable suicide by a 45 semi automatic that shattered her heart. Though their report makes it appear that the Devonshire Division cops went the extra mile, Harry realizes that the autopsy proved murder occurred and the department reacted slowly. Harry and Kiz begin making inquiries and soon learn closure has not occurred for the parents and his fellow blue knights want them to back off making him wonder if he was set up to fail. With Harry back on the force as a Closer, this long running series is refreshed as he deals with bureaucratic roadblocks and unwillingness to cooperate with his efforts. A reference to Gibson's Lethal Weapon adds a sense of time as well as insight into Harry. The investigation is cleverly handled with Harry struggling because key peers and superiors want him to fail. Michael Connelly provides a terrific Harry Bosch police procedural that grips the audience from the moment the Chief lectures him about behavior and never lets up until the final revelation.

Love Her to Death
Linda Palmer
ISBN: 042520295X $6.50, 326 pp.

Morgan Tyler, the head writer for the daytime drama Love of My Life, is promoted to co-executive producer. On her very first day on the job, one of her female stars Cybelle Carter is worried that she is going to be on the cover of Time. She fears the exposure might kill her. Cybelle confesses that she is married to a mysterious rich person Philippe Abacasas who is somewhere always surrounded by bodyguards and who has in his possession multiple passports. When Morgan gets a call that a dead body was found in Cybelle's apartment, she immediately thinks that her star is dead. She goes over to the apartment and identifies the body as that of Jeannie Ford, Cybelle's stunt double. She meets the mysterious Abacasas who warns her to beware of Cybelle and her brother. He also tells her that his wife stole two rare Greek coins from him before she disappeared. Attracted to the man Morgan doesn't know who to believe but she is determined to get some answers even though someone is going to incredible and fatal lengths to stop her. The heroine can be summed up in one word, spunky. She deals with a stress related job with total calm. Works overtime to find a murderer going the extra kilometer to do so and juggles two sexy men after a five year drought including a one night fling with Cybelle's husband. Readers are going to like this mystery which is rich in characterizations and action and short on gore. Linda Palmer proves with this fine cozy that she has what it takes to reach the top of her profession.

Embroidered Truths
Monica Ferris
ISBN: 0425203018 $23.95, 288 pp.

In Excelsior, Minnesota, Betsy Devonshire wonders where her best friend and shop manager of her needlecraft store Crewel World Godwin "Goddy" DuLac is as he is never this late. Goddy eventually shows up unshaven and wearing yesterday's clothing. His wealthy lover John Nye tossed him out of the house. Betsy helps Goddy cope with his personal crisis though being tossed is a recurring theme. The two men make up when Goddy takes his lover to Mexico for fun and sun although he maxed his credit to the limit and a shade beyond that. Not long afterward, John throws Goddy out again. Quite depressed, he moves in with Betsy, but this time there is no reconciliation. Someone murders John with Excelsior Police Sergeant Mike Malloy arresting the deceased's former lover, who had the means, the opportunity, and the motive. Betsy knows Goddy could not hurt a fly so she investigates who actually killed John. A stitch in time saves nine seems apropos as Betsy puts aside her needlepoint to prove Goddy is innocent, risking her life to do so. The story line is fast-paced with several cross stitch twists that will please amateur sleuth fans. Though the murder comes towards the middle of the tale, fans will understand the need to display indirectly the relationship between the gay couple as one becomes the victim and the other the prime suspect. Monica Ferris stitches together such a fine who-done-it that her readers will appreciate it and newcomers will seek the CREWEL WORLD backlist.

Murder on Lenox Hill
Victoria Thompson
ISBN: 0425202607 $23.95, 304 pp.

Just back from delivering a baby boy, widow midwife Sarah Brandt returns home to the tenement apartment she shares with Maeve and four year old Aggie. Maeve informs her that a respectable looking older gent came by and left her note. Mr. and Mrs. Linton of the Upper East Side Manhattan neighborhood Lenox Hill would like her to visit them at her convenience. Sarah takes the elevated train and a street car to the Lintons' home where they ask her to determine whether their beloved teenage daughter Gracie, who is mentally a young child, is pregnant. Sarah confirms that the teen is six months pregnant, but neither parent can understand when it could have happened because the child is never alone. Sarah asks her friend police detective sergeant Frank Malloy to investigate. Though no crime has been committed and no payment for his services will be remitted, Frank reluctantly agrees. However, someone poisons the minister of the congregation that the Lintons belong to. Frank and Sarah believe there is a link between the homicide and the pregnancy, but everyone connected seems so respectable. Though a Gaslight era mystery, the events of MURDER ON LENOX HILL could have come out of recent headlines. The story line is fast-paced with a strong intrepid protagonist and a powerful deep secondary cast including real figures like Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt. Readers will appreciate the "innocence" of Gracie and root for Sarah to learn who impregnated her and when since she already ruled out the obvious, fatherly incest. This is a tremendous entry in one of the best historical series on the market today and investigating her spouse's murder from four years ago may be next.

Wicked Nights
Nina Bangs
ISBN: 0425200329 $14.00, 320 pp.

Cosmic troublemaker Sparkle Stardust is drawn to Galveston, Texas where she targets three immortal beings; the owners of the Castle of Dark Dreams the main attraction in the adult theme park, Live the Fantasy. Her first stud is Eric McNair, a vampire who melts chocolates with one leering stare. Talk show host Donna Nolan reluctantly leaves Houston to conduct interviews at the Castle of Dark Dreams. Sparkle thinks she is the perfect person to shake Eric as these two opponents would be better than watching a heavyweight championship fight. When Eric and Donna meet, sparks fly high enough to light up the state of Texas. However, another vampire, holding Eric culpable for the death of his sibling, sees Donna as the bait to enact vengeance. Eric willingly risks immortality to save his beloved. WICKED NIGHTS is a typical Nina Bangs paranormal romance filled with humor and sex at times together with the right touch of suspense. The story line is action packed as Sparkle gets her wish, a bloodsucking hunk and a mortal battling one another and their attraction for each other. Readers will enjoy this wicked tale and look forward to novels starring Eric's siblings, a demon and an immortal warrior, that will surely sparkle with fun.

Goddess of Light
P.C. Cast
ISBN: 0425201961 $6.99

Artemis feels bad for her brother Apollo moaning over losing a mortal to Hades, but she has no idea how to help her sibling get out of his doldrums. That is until their father Zeus opens a portal to Vegas. Though knowing Sin City is Bacchus' personal playground, Artemis convinces Apollo that a trip there would do him good. Interior designer Pamela Gray is in town decorating the home of author Faust when she gets involved with Artemis. Apollo tries to help his sister, but finds himself attracted to Pamela. To the interior designer's shock, she reciprocates having never met anyone like this hunk built like a Greek God. However, the Gods have toyed with mortal females forever, but Apollo sees this time is different as he is in love but he has to persuade Pamela that the universe is not black and white, but many shades of colors including his favorite hue, the gray that he treasures. P.C. Cast continues her unique brand of delightfully mixing a modern day romance with a mythological legend. The story line is fast-paced led by two wonderful lead protagonists. The support cast adds depth so that the audience will believe that this is an Olympus invasion of Las Vegas to rival only the Tarkenian years. Fans of mythological contemporary romances will appreciate this creative well written tale.

Pawleys Island
Dorothea Benton Frank
ISBN: 0425202712 $24.95

On idyllic PAWLEYS ISLAND, outside of food not much excites fifty-five years old Huey Valentine, but the works of newcomer Rebecca Simms does. He displays her paintings at the show of another artist and sells some of them. Rebecca admits to Huey's social companion, retired matrimony attorney widow Abigail Thurmond that her spouse Nat obtained a divorce in which she was proclaimed an unfit mother and has custody of their two children. Huey's octogenarian mother goes berserk when she hears this injustice and demands her son and Abigail fix it. Abigail agrees to represent Rebecca in court although this is her first case since her spouse died a few years ago not long after their son passed away. She begins making inquiries into what happened, the behavior of Huey, and whether the city of Charleston committed a major faux pas as she plans to prove her client is the one fit to raise the kids, not her ex who has custody. Along the way, Abigail regains her lust for life. Dorothea Benton Frank's latest South Carolina low country character study is an engaging tale that starts at a leisure pace as readers meet the prime players. Towards the middle of the book, the plot changes into a legal thriller in which Nat learns the hard way about women scorned. Though Nat is an extreme loser between pornography, a bimbo, and offering to pay for "enhancements" for his daughter to have twin edges when she tries out as a Clemson cheerleader, contemporary fans will enjoy this trip to Charleston and Pawleys Island.

Master of the Moon
Angela Knight
ISBN: 0425203573 $6.99, 336 pp.

Verdaville, South Carolina city manager and part time police officer Diana London uses her werewolf nature to help fight crime at night. However, her efforts fail to prevent a homicide from occurring. As she works on the investigation team, King Llyr Galatyn ruler of the Cachamwri Sidhe enters the mortal realm to fight an influx of rogue vampires nesting in Verdaville. Llyr thinks his brother King Ansgar, monarch of the Moreven Sidhe, who wants to commit fratricide, is behind the murder and attacks in the small town. Llyr is stunned when he meets Diana, a magical creature like him. It is not her magic or her kind use to help humans that shakes his core. He is attracted to her but also knows her as his siren from his erotic fantasy dreams. Diana shares his deep regard as he has been the star of her evening respites. They team up to rid the town of the vampires and uncover the identity of the supernatural killer that Llyr prays is not his sibling. MASTER OF THE MOON, the sequel to the delightful MASTER OF THE NIGHT, is a wonderful tale that continues the previous tale, but has the strength to stand alone. The story line combines a torrid paranormal romance with an exhilarating police procedural. Fans of romantic fantasy will not find anyone better than Angela Knight who serves up a one sitting keeper.

Michael Kilian
ISBN: 0425203514 $7.99, 464 pp.

Gabor Turko knows his terrorist cell of Pakistani is running late in their assignment to blow up the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The homeland Security Advisor to the White House is on the case but what he is unaware of is that his team was involved in a car accident and fled the scene just before a minor explosion occurred, killing a family, but not the target. Coast Guard Admiral DePayse assigns Investigative Service Agent Warren Officer Erik Westman to the joint investigative team. Not long afterward, a guilt laden near death former Air Force pilot Burt Shilling confesses that he and his crew dumped a nuclear bomb into the DEEPKILL off the Delaware coast. Though official DC leaders insists this is the rambling of an ailing man, Turko and his associates want to see if this is true and if they can retrieve the bomb. If this takes place, , a weapon of mass destruction will be in the hands of a terrorist who wants to destroy America. Not willing to take any chances Westman tries to stop the terrorists who believe they have nothing to lose. DEEPKILL is an action thriller that grips the audience from the very first page up the until the final battle. The fast-paced story line moves rather quickly as the Air Force remains in denial while terrorists take a chance that a bomb was dropped off the eastern seaboard. Erik is a terrific hero, but it is Gabor who captures the reader's attention with his cavalier nonchalance over killing innocents to reach a target. Fans of tense mano vs. mano thrillers will appreciate Michael Kilian's hyperspeed novel.

Knit One, Kill Two
Maggie Sefton
ISBN: 042520359X $6.99

CPA Kelly Flynn feels alone when she learns the stunning news that her beloved Aunt Helen, who raised her, was murdered in her home in what the police declared a "burglary gone bad. Kelly accompanied by her dog Carl heads home to Fort Connor, Colorado for the funeral and to deal with the estate. Her aunt's lawyer Mr. Chambers shocks her with the fact that frugal Helen borrowed $20,000 against her home, but has no idea what she did with the money or why she needed it since it never went to Kelly. The accountant also sees other discrepancies with the official books on the case as she knows her feisty aunt would have put up a fight if it was a robbery; since she did not she knew her killer. In town, her aunt's friends adopt Kelly and make her feel at home. They needle her into joining their knitting circle, which meets at Mimi Shafer's shop, the former barn of Kelly's aunt. As the circle converts her into a dye-in-the-wool scarf knitter, she investigates what happened to her aunt because the bottom line fails to add up correctly. This is first stitch in a new needlepoint amateur sleuth tale starring a likable accountant and a host of eccentric townsfolk. The story line neatly knits together a murder pattern that the police failed to see. Amateur sleuth fans who appreciate Monica Ferris's Betsy Devonshire tales will want to read this Rocky Mountains' cleverly crafted who-done-it.

The House of Storms
Ian R. Macleod
ISBN 0441012809 $24.95, 416 pp.

On an alternate earth, the fifth form of matter, aether is discovered. This element is used in magic spells to run machinery and electricity and just about anything else one can think of. The guilds control the supply of aether and no one is more powerful than Alice Meynell, the Greatgrandmistress of the Telegrapher's Guild. Her only son Ralph is dying and she takes him to Invercombe on the west coast of England in the hopes that exercise and clear air will cure his consumption. While there she visits Einfell where people are no longer human because they were changed by the overuse of magic. When she returns, her son Ralph is cured so she leaves him at Invercombe while she returns to London to set in motion plans that will give more power to her and her son. The result of her scheming leads to a civil war that will affect the lives of everyone living in Victorian England. This is a thick and juicy alternate history novel that is set in a Victorian England where everyone is dependant on magic like oil is in our world. Alice does what she must to get and keep her position no matter who she hurts. Her only weakness is her son who turns out to be under his mother's thumb when he takes over the position of Greatguildmaster once held by his dead father. Ian R. Macleod continues to fascinate readers with his special blending of sorcery and alternate history.

We Few
David Weber and John Ringo
ISBN: 074349881X $26.00

While marooned for eight months (and three books) with the Empress Own marines on Marduk, Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chaing MacClintock learns to survive the hard way while watching most of his comrades die. Death turns Roger from hedonistic "Playboy Prince" to leader of the Bravo Company; his troops would die for him as many already have as "The Basik's Own". Freed from Marduk, he learns that his biological father and Prince Jackson Adoula of Kellerman overthrew his mother Empress Alexandra, killed his siblings and her grandchildren, blamed Roger for the murders, and use the former ruler as a puppet. Roger and his unit of twelve soldiers supplemented by a few hundred Mardukans, a ghost and a few other people need allies. However first he must prove he is innocent before they can confront Adoula and his sire, and hopefully rescue his mother. Yet those he needs on his side are apt to kill him before he can say one word to persuade them that he did not kill his siblings or others of his kin and that he is worthy of their support as he is no longer the Playboy Prince, but instead a fighting leader with a cause. The latest Prince Roger fantasy is an action packed tale with the freshness that the playboy is back ready to perform as heroic rescuer. Roger's metamorphous seems genuine and the support cast is superb especially his parents, Adoula, the ghost, and the hero's pet. Although newcomers would be better off reading the previous novels as references refer to those tales, WE FEW can stand alone as a stirring military continuation of a terrific saga.

The Hidden Queen
Alma Alexander
ISBN 0060765704 $6.99, 400 pp.

At the Battle near the Ronval River, the king of Roisinan, Red Dynan is killed and the general leading the troops is injured and near death. Command falls to Fodrun who feels unequal to being a leader for men to follow so he tells Sif, Dynan's baseborn son that if he will take command, he will help him in his quest to gain the crown from the rightful heir, nine year old Anghara. After a ceremony proclaiming her queen, Anghara leaves the castle with the Royal Seal and a document proclaiming her queen by the council. The capital city falls to Sif and he becomes king declaring Anghara dead with her mother during the battle to take the castle. Anghara is sent to her mother's kin where she is taught to use her sight (psionic powers) but an incident forces her to flee to Castle Bressne, a traing school for the sighted. A betrayal alerts Sif to where Anghara is hiding and he destroys the school but not before his half-sister escapes. Sif initiates a pogrom against all the Sighted while Anghara flees from her homeland to the desert kingdom of Kheldrum. There she hopes to learn enough to take back the crown. Fans of Jennifer Fallon, Sara Douglass and Elizabeth Hayden will find THE HIDDEN QUEEN an extraordinary fantasy. During the course of the tale, the audience sees Anghara grow from a royal child to a mature woman ready to battle her half-brother who is wantonly hurting innocent men, women and children killed just because they are sighted. This is an action-packed novel that is rich in characterization and death-defying adventures.

Gravity Wells
James Alan Gardner
ISBN: 0060087706 $15.95, 368 pp.

This anthology is a must read for science fiction fans as each of the fourteen tales are incredible yet different in content and format. The tales display how talented award winning James Alan Gardner truly is as he runs the gamut whether it is an ordinary little girl explaining how things work or the media rewriting history as they "neutrally" observes events or just a simplistic debate between science and faith following the invention of the microscope. Genre fans will want to read this collection soonest and once started feel compelled to complete GRAVITY WELLS in one sitting with several tales rereads immediately as Mr. Gardner is at his RADIANT best with this fabulous compilation.

Randy Singer
ISBN 1578567777 $13.99, 400 pp.

Trish Bannister is beaten up by her drunken abusive husband; later she takes a sleeping pill and is passed out when her sixteen year old daughter Tara is also beat up by her step-father. Unlike her mother, Tara doesn't like his abuse and admits to shooting him when the cops question her. She swears it was in self-defense because she feared for her life. Trish hires Leslie Connors to defend her daughter who is nervous because this is her first murder case and the prosecution wants to try the teen as an adult. While she is trying to come up with Tara's defense, the scientific evidence doesn't corroborate the teenager's story. Leslie is busy making plans to marry the firm's founder Brad Carson, but puts her wedding plans on hold when she finds out she has a heart condition that needs surgery and fails to tell her beloved driving a wedge in their relationship. Randy Singer has written an exciting legal thriller that rivals the work of John Grisham. Readers learn how lawyers work to present a case that will exonerate their client while the defense attorney in charge of the case balances her health issues and her relationship with the man she loves. Both Brad and Leslie should be continuing characters in their own legal series if SELF-INCRIMINATION is any example.

A Land of Sheltered Promise
Jane Kirkpatrick
ISBN: 1578567335 $13.99, 400 pp.

Part 1 Faith. In 1901 Oregon seventeen years old Eva Bruner is exhausted even before the outcome of the murder trial that her husband sheepherder Dee faces. He admits to killing Tom Reilly so the guilty verdict does not surprise her as he is sentenced to life in prison. Alone on their station on the Muddy Ranch to raise their infant son, everyday Eva prays for a miracle. Part 2 Hope. In 1984 devout Episcopalian Aussie Cora Thompson arrives in Oregon planning to abduct her six years old granddaughter Charita nee Charity because Cora's daughter Rachel, now called Ma Razi, is an active leader in a cult. While Cora enters the communal compound on the site of the Muddy Ranch, the INS indicts leaders on violations and a new form of intimidation at least in America, salmonella bio-terrorism, shakes the area. Part 3 Charity. In 1995 though she preferred staying in Portland, Jill Hartley accompanies her husband on a visit to the Bartletts who were like parents to her Tom. The Bartletts show Jill the abandoned despised Muddy Ranch where they dream of a place where the Young Life Christians from around the world can attend camp. Almost two years later a skeptical Jill makes the dream come true. These three novellas connected by the Muddy Ranch in Oregon and based on real stories are terrific tales that star courageous women willing to sacrifice for the good of another while turning to God and Jesus to help them. The parable of using the land receiving a second chance ties together these well written stories that inspire the audience to believe in Jesus and that good deeds matter.

Road Blog
Robert Elmer
ISBN: 1578567521 $5.99, 128 pp.

Worried about his preadolescent son Austin spending every free moment on the Internet, Tom Webster decides on a family trip to the same spot he "enjoyed" as a two year old. Thus Tom his wife Evelyne, their two children Austin and Ashley, and their niece "Aunt" Jessi (same age as their kids) leave Normal, Illinois to drive to the Lost Lake Resort in Upper Michigan. At the same time, Raven "Mr. Z" Zawistokowski and his boss Mattie Blankenskrean discuss keeping the Webster kids out of the net and cleansing websites; for instance, just visit a site on Paul's journey from Damascus with sunglasses. Their plan is to catch the kids when they go in line and take away their computer that seems to enable them to do so. The three pre-teens notice the net has been acting strange lately. However, this time they visit live Austin's web site with their parents along for the first time followed by Mr. Z tracking them. Though Mattie has warned him not to harm any of the Websters, Mr. Z believes the best solution is Alt-Ctrl-Del and if that fails to cleanse the problem, delete the Webster quintet. The sixth entry in Robert Elmer's wonderfully creative Hyperlinkz tales, ROAD BLOG is a delightful entry starring the intrepid trio, the two villains and in a more active role the Webster parents. The story line is fast-paced as readers visit Lewis and Clark and other websites along side Austin, Ashley, and Jessi. Middle school kids will appreciate this exhilarating stand alone thriller though has links to the previous novels that newcomers will want to read too.

Worlds Collide
Alison Strobel
ISBN: 1578567939 $12.99, 384 pp.

Actor and a Top 25 People magazine hunk Jack Harrington and his wife Grace hire celebrity biographer Jada Eastman to write their story that has had the public salivating for quite a while, with him ailing they feel they have a message to get out. Jada knows that behind the glitter of Hollywood stars, there is always grit, dirt, and worse; in this case she happens to have had a high school crush on Jack so has a personal stake. Still Jada will spend the next six months with this Cinderella pair to learn how they overcame their perceived radically different lifestyles at least when they first met. Jack was already on his way to fame and fortune in Hollywood when a car accident introduced him to fifth grade teacher Grace Winslowe. Jack and another person did not have a scratch, but Grace was hospitalized. Attracted to one another from that moment their worlds collided, Jack and Grace swim in different seas with plenty of major differences to overcome to forge a relationship. Perhaps the biggest distinction is not Hollywood, but religion as Grace has always been deep into Christianity while Jack has been a hedonistic agnostic bordering on the atheism. This work of fiction rotates perspective between the Hollywood couple so that the audience can best understand their love and their dissimilarities especially religion. Past the half way point the fine story line focuses in on whether Jack embraces Jesus or not. This is well written tale, blending a soap opera fantasy of a loving relationship between a schoolteacher and a movie star with that of a Christian contemporary tale starring two likable protagonists.

The Poet's Funeral
John M. Daniel
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 159058144X $24.95, 250 pp.

In 1977 Guy Mallon wanders into a used bookstore wheere he finds a signed copy of Kerouac's first book, which he hides. He buys the store and sells the Kerouac book at auction. Not long afterward, teaching assistant Heidi enters his store and persuades him to hire her, have sex with her, and publish her poetry though she has not written anything yet and he is not a publisher. In 1990 Guy and his beloved partner Carol Murphy attend the American Book Association (ABA) convention in Vegas. He finds a dead Heidi on the Elvis bed apparently form an overdose. Guy is shocked, but has doubts that someone as egotistical as Heidi would do drugs. Carol wonders if her too short (she is eight inches taller than he) and too young (five years younger) cherished Guy still carries the torch for Heidi. When LVPD Detective Plumley closes the case as accidental due to drugs, Guy is unable to resist investigating Heidi's death. This is a tongue in cheek amateur sleuth who-done-it that readers will enjoy. Perspective changes with a different participant taking center stage with each chapter although Guy is consistently in the forefront and ergo the focus of the plot. The story line is amusing and contains several cameos from the famous and though the death occurs toward the middle, the inquiries are handled deftly so that the audience obtains a solid mystery. The big Guy and his woman are a dynamic duo and the support cast enables the reader to obtain a deep look at what happens at an ABA convention. THE POET'S FUNERAL is a unique super tale.

Thicker Than Blood
Penny Rudolph
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581482 $24.95, 310 pp.

In Los Angeles, Rachel Chavez lives in the parking garage that she owns across the street from her best customer the Interurban Water District. Rachel knows how important it is to keep the management of Interurban happy with her service; for instance she changed the flat tire on the vehicle of General Manager Jason Karl and has allowed late working water engineer Hank Sullivan a few extra minutes past lock up. Rachel notices that one of the Interurban cars parked in her garage has a bad scratch, a busted fender, and what appears to be blood on it. Not long afterward, Rachel hears on the news that Jason died in a hit and run accident. She wonders if she has the murder vehicle parked inside her facility. Fearing to tell the cops as she is a former addict and drunk convict, she is encouraged by a cleaning crew manager and an environmentalist who rescues her from a mugger. She begins to wonder if Hank, who she likes, killed his boss over a water dispute. Though Rachel illogically does not seem street wise, readers will take immense delight in the latest Southern California water war mystery. The story line is character driven by the heroine's conscience as Rachel ponders the ethical question of telling the authorities knowing that means trouble for her. Interestingly and what makes the novel, she does not turn into super amateur sleuth, but instead is dragged along the way and learns the truth when the culprit decides to cleanse her. Readers will compare positively Rachel with Jake Gittes (see CHINATOWN and THE TWO JAKES) in this twenty-first century tale in which water is becoming more like oil.

Flesh Wounds
John Lawton
Atlantic Monthly
ISBN: 0871136988 $23.00

World War II ended fourteen years ago, but London still shows the ruins. For Russian descendent Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard Freddie Troy, the conviction of crime kingpin King Alf should be a time of elation. Instead the war years have returned; his former lover Kitty Stilton is back in town but unavailable since she is married to American presidential hopeful, Calvin Cormack, another person from Freddie's espionage past. Private investigator Joey Rork is in town to insure that Kitty behaves while in England. However, while London swings with Kitty as its biggest swinger, a war seems imminent to take over King's Alf's crime syndicate and American gamblers and crooners are in the middle of the action. When Rork and others are violently killed, Freddie leads the inquiries that take him back to 1944 when he was recovering from a bullet courtesy of his mistress and the antics of his family especially his promiscuous sisters and his brother, who has present day (1959 that is) ambitions. There is also links to when he was Sergeant Freddie Troy. Still, in spite of his efforts London with Ike coming is filling up with mutilated corpses. FLESH WOUNDS is an exhilarating British historical police procedural that binds events and real persona or obviously disguised persona between World War II and 1959. The story line is overloaded with several subplots that at times may feel overwhelming, but not only come together but enables readers to compare 1944 and 1959 London. Freddie is terrific in both eras as he is the string that keeps the multitude of subplots tied together. Fans will appreciate this deep but dark look back to two distinct Great Britain's only fifteen years apart within a fine Noir.

The Queen's Fencer
Caitlin Scott-Turner
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143021 $26.95, 303 pp.

In 1597, Will Trevallon is the Queen's fencing master; his twenty-one years old daughter Ardys is perhaps is best rival. They are happy until Will while in a tournament collapses and dies. Ardys grieves more than just the loss of her father and teacher; she has lost her best friend. As Ardys tries to move on in her life, Queen Elizabeth sympathizes with her loss, but though the young woman is capable of being THE QUEEN'S FENCER, a female in what the nobles recognize as a male position would cause too much trouble. However, Desmond Kirkconnell has his own plans for the lass; he abducts her taking her to Ireland. As she falls in love with her rogue pirate, a rival Francois de la Roche abducts Ardys to use as a pawn to trap and destroy Desmond, who risks death to rescue his beloved. Elizabethan romance readers will want to take the plunge into this intriguing tale. The lead couple is a wonderful intrepid pairing though it seems the competent Ardys is too easy a victim. The story line is fast-paced whether the action occurs in England, Ireland or the High Seas. Elizabeth's court and other secondary protagonists provide a late sixteenth century feel to the fable, but it is Ardys the fencing master who makes the tale hum.

Dying for a Blue Plate Special
Beth Kalikoff
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142971 $25.95 228 pp.

In Tacoma, Jewel Feynmann worries that her business Blue Plate Catering is failing; if she goes bankrupt she does not want to go back to the Jewish epicenter of metropolitan New York where her family awaits the return of the prodigal child. Helene Moore, who met Jewel over fried ice cream, offers the caterer work at Commencement Bay University better known as Zoo U. Because of an accidental death in the kitchen, the school needs an outside caterer. Jewel accepts the job because she needs the money. However, everything goes wrong when the Zoo U Dean Matthew Mulcahy dies from food poisoning served by Blue Plate. As Homicide Detective Ben Hartsock investigates the murder, he also tries to date Jewel, who wonders if there might be a non-kosher conflict of interest even if his kisses are tasty. Still with her company in jeopardy Jewel conducts her own investigation into the murder. DYING FOR A BLUE PLATE SPECIAL is a delightful amateur sleuth police procedural who-done-it starring a likable Jersey transplant. The story line is lighthearted in terms of the heroine's jewel of an investigation and much more professional in a support role when Ben makes inquiries. Fans will enjoy this fine Washington State blending.

Scrambled Eggs
Boris Riskin
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142912 $25.95, 275 pp.

Turning sixty and retiring as a Shakespearean professor, Jake Wanderman looks forward to spending his golden years with his beloved wife of twenty-fives Rosalind. However, to his shock, Rosalind walks out on Jake without an explanation insisting he should know why. Not long afterward, Jake attends his childhood friend Morty Adler's party in the Hamptons where he meets Cynthia Organ. She tells him that Morty said that Jake would help. She explains further that her spouse Boris just died and in his secret closet in their home, she found gold bars and six Faberge eggs. Apparently the Russian mafia claims they belong to them and law enforcement from both countries wants the stolen gems. Unwittingly, Jake is involved in an international incident with murder as a calling card when all he wants is his wife back. SCRAMBLED EGGS is a delightful amateur sleuth tale starring a bewildered hero, who spouts Shakespeare at any given moment especially when he is nervous. The story line is fast-paced, but held together by the likable professor who wonders what happened to his anticipated idyllic lifestyle that has gone out of control. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this tale told by a bard filled with fun and fury.

The Alphabet Sisters
Monica McInerney
ISBN: 034547953X $13.95, 432 pp.

When they were children growing up together in Clare Valley, Australia, they sang as a trio dressed in identical garb called THE ALPHABET SISTERS, but being best friends also ended three years ago. The youngest Carrie and the fiance of the middle Bett announced they were in love and were going to be married. The threesome has not talked to one another since. The oldest Anna hides behind the needs of her spouse and four year old daughter in Sydney; Bett fled to London where she writes music promos; Carrie married Matt, but stayed in her hometown. Grandmother Lola, who lovingly raised the girls, wants her granddaughters reconciled. She invites them to come home to celebrate her eightieth birthday knowing she is the only person that each of THE ALPHABET SISTERS would show up for. However, each sibling arrives with emotional baggage. Anna's husband is having an affair while their daughter remains scarred from a canine attack; Bett detests living alone; Carrie and Matt have separated. Lola masterly manipulates her granddaughters to perform together a musical she wrote to encourage the reconciliation the trio wants for they miss one another, none will risk that critical first step. This is a terrific relationship tale that avoids turning into a tear jerker until a late twist involving cancer is used as a possible reconciliatory catalyst. The story line is at its best when it concentrates on the three sisters especially their desires and darkest secrets; by extension through the trio, readers obtains somewhat of a glimpse of their extended families. Though that final spin makes it too easy to choose and seems so unnecessary, readers will take immense pleasure with this deep Australian family drama.

Finola Hughes and Digby Diehl
ISBN 0345470826 $23.95, 384 pp.

When British actress Kate McPhee learns that her live in lover was cheating on her with her best friend, she needs to get away from them. She accepts a job on the soap opera Live For Tomorrow and quickly realizes that daytime programming is nothing like the theatre work she did back home. She quickly learns to avoid diva Meredith Contini who has been on the show since its inception and refuses to let an actor or actress upset her. Kate also learns how to cope with the fans who have taken her into their hearts. She has the unique experience of attending a soap opera convention where anything goes; she is paid extra to be interviewed on radio and television shows where she has to be careful of what she says concerning future plots. Kate also gets used to fans believing she is the lesbian detective she plays in a storyline involving vampires. After a major adjustment she realizes that the group is her American family and she belongs there. Finola Hughes, who originated the role of Anne Devore on General Hospital and All My Children, takes readers backstage so they can see how a soap opera is produced and how much of the character belongs to the star. The actors work long hours under grueling conditions because they need to work, not just for the money but because of the desire to perform. Kate McPhee is a charming chick lit lead protagonist who feels that California, especially Hollywood, is an alien planet. Soap opera fans will wonder if the characters are based on actual people and if so, who and on what show.

Jonathan Kellerman
ISBN: 034546706X $26.95, 384 pp.

In Los Angeles, the call surprises Dr. Alex Delaware because he had no idea that Rand Duchay was God forbid free; a frantic Rand pleads with Alex to see him immediately. Alex agrees thinking back eight years when then thirteen years old Randolph and his friend almost fourteen years old Troy Turner abduct and killed twenty-five months old Kristal Malley. Alex was the psychologist who dealt with the teen murders. Not long afterward someone at the Chino CYA camp for juvenile defenders killed Troy. Alex arrives at the meeting place, but Duchay fails to show up. Surprised, Alex, who is to meet his beloved in New York tomorrow, informs Police Lieutenant Milo Sturges about what happened. The cop mentions a murder victim who turns out to be Rand. Is this a revenge killing perhaps the baby's father whose rage was obvious when the state cut a deal with the defense, an idle act, or someone insuring the truth of the infanticide never surfaces? RAGE is a terrific Dr. Delaware thriller that grips the audience when Alex recalls (in a flashback) the heinous crime and the reactions of the two teens who committed the murder. Alex is super in this novel especially his asides such as fearing Rand will find another dominant personality to coax him along for a deadly ride. The who-done-it is well designed so that readers know that everyone involved just about believe Duchay deserved death including to a degree Milo and Alex, but they overcome their personal disgust while seeking the killer. Fans of the series will be elated with Jonathan Kellerman's latest tale.

No Reservations Required
Ellen Hart
ISBN: 0449007324 $6.99, 320 pp.

One year ago, Twin Cities businessman Ken Loy was driving while talking on a cell phone when his vehicle blindsided that of Valerie Fabian, killing her. Although the woman ran a stop sign, her spouse Minneapolis Times Register columnist Bob blamed Ken for not paying attention. Ken remains shook up with the accident bringing him close to his two twin daughters raised by his ex-wife and whom he neglected previously. He rides his bike every evening to gain some relief, but this time he stops to check a construction site thinking he might buy a condo there. Someone arrives and executes him. Valerie's brother Sonny informs Bob that he provided justice to their beloved's killer. A stunned Bob calls 911, but Sonny, feeling betrayed, kills him too. Minneapolis Times Register restaurant critic Sophie Greenway learns that the victims who were murdered within an hour of one another were killed by the same gun. No one can figure out the motive that ties both homicides although the link to Valerie is obvious. Sophie cooks up a storm that does not match the recipe for murder that will shake her inner essence. Readers will want to make reservations for this fabulous amateur sleuth thriller that provides strong twists that the reader will never see coming especially the ending that will blow away the audience. Sophie is the terrific main ingredient while the support cast provides depth to a darker than usual story line. Ellen Hart bakes a winner with her eighth Greenway culinary mystery.

The Smoke Room
Earl Emerson
ISBN: 0345462904 $24.95, 320 pp.

Twenty-four years old Seattle firefighter Jason Gum and others from Engine 29 race to the scene of what has been described as an explosion at the home shared by forty something Iola Pederson and her daddy. Jason helps get Iola out of the house while daddy had already evacuated the house. Investigators conclude that the "bomb" was an award winning hog "jumping" from a plane at an estimated 11,000 feet. Three weeks later Iola visits the fire station to personally thank Jason for her rescue. She seduces him in the back room while his team goes out on a fire call without him. His mate Ted Tronstad leaves behind Gum's gear so that the firefighter can arrive on his own and thus lesson the dereliction of duty penalty. Ironically Gum becomes a hero though the couple he rescues fails to survive. Not long afterward, Tronstad has sacks filled with bearer bonds that he pulled from a fire. Tronstad, driver Robert Johnson, and Gum argue when Captain Sears catches them with the loot and threatens to expose them. Now they must rid themselves of Sears, but Johnson hesitates while Gum wants no part of the bonds except Tronstad blackmails him into either participating or at least remaining silent. THE SMOKE ROOM is an exhilarating suspense thriller that twists and turns in ways readers will never suspect until the spin occurs as Jason understands but seems to never learn that his using the wrong head is destroying his morals. Readers will wonder what the key firefighting characters and Iola will do next and how likable Gum, who narrates the tale, will extract himself from his spiraling out of control woes. Earl Emerson provides the audience with a five alarm winner.

Oh My Stars
Lorna Landvik
ISBN: 0345472314 $24.95, 400 pp.

In Mount Crawfiord, Kentucky Erlene Mathers abandons her daughter Violet to be raised by her spouse Judd, a terrific mechanic but an abusive ugly drunk with no quality time for his wallflower giraffe of a child, dubbed Olive Oyl by her peers. In 1935, Miss Eugie Dodds hires the lonely almost sixteen year old Violet to work the night shift at the Marcelline Threads factory. The shy unhappy teen, whose first name is apropos, finds acceptance and a feeling of belonging for the first time in her life. However, on her sweet sixteenth birthday, a machine accident amputates her arm. Once released from the hospital, Violet concludes she has nothing but bad memories in Mount Crawford so like many others takes the bus to California, but a crash in North Dakota strands Violet and others. Musicians Austin Sykes and Kjel Hedstrom rescue everyone. Violet likes the kind black Austin, but is quite attracted to Kjel and joins the duet, who hopes to pioneer a new style of music to a still somewhat depressed America as the show has just begun. OH MY STARS is a terrific look at the mid 1930s in America. Fans will appreciate the metamorphosis of Violet from her belief that she is the ugly duckling into a confident swan symbolizing America coming out of the Depression. The cast is fantastic as the audience will believe they are traveling with the heroine and others as readers discover the wonders of the country while Violet seeks her groove. Lorna Landvik provides a delightful Americana tale that will elate historical readers with its depth of characterizations to include the land.

Enchanted, Inc.
Shanna Swendson
ISBN: 0345481259 $12.95, 320 pp.

Over the fears of her family, Katie Chandler relocates from small-town Texas to Manhattan where she sees first hand the weirdoes walking the streets and riding the subways such as Miss Airy Fairy with wings or the chicken guy. At work her boss Mimi displays the Dr. Jekyll personality, which obviously means she had a wonderful weekend with her wealthy boyfriend. However, Ms. Hyde can show up and often does without warning or reason. She would like to escape the evil Mimi, but needs the money to pay her bills. By email, Rodney A. Gwaltney, Director of Personal at MSI, offers Katie a job; she deletes the email as spam. That night Katie and her female roommates hit the Village when the dude she noticed on the subway this morning comes over to meet Katie; he says he is Rod Gwaltney. Katie thinks her first stalker offers her a job. When Mimi goes over the top again, Katie accepts Rod's latest employment email not realizing that seeing elves, gnomes, gargoyles and an assortment of unnamed creatures makes her valuable and unique. Of course she never expected Merlin and other magicians interfering with her love life when she accepted the position. Fans will appreciate this creative humorous chick lit fantasy occurring on the weird streets of Manhattan similar to city scenes in the Men in Black. Katie is fabulous as she assumes everyone can see fairies or an elf, as this is New York City so what else is new. Fans will appreciate this lighthearted romp with, though the time and place differ, readers too old for Bush's personal accounts will think of THE WIZARD IN SPITE OF HIMSELF and those younger the Dresden Files.

A Stroke of Midnight
Laurell K. Hamilton
ISBN 0345443578 $23.95, 367 pp.

The attempted assassination of Princess Meredith of the faerie Unseelie Court failed and the coup to unseat the Queen of Air and Darkness, Andais was thwarted. The princess gives a press conference in the sithen (faerie mound) because a human policeman under the spell of a sidhe (faerie) had attempted to kill her and that has to be explained. After the conference is over, Merry and her harem of sexy and beautiful guards found a dead photographer and a sidhe, both the victims of murder by one of more of the sidhe. Merry convinces her Aunt to let the police into the sithen because the reporters know one of their own is missing. Anais agrees but intends to conduct her own investigation. Merry and her guards are the focus of another assassination attempt and while they struggle to stay alive, Merry's presence in the sithen brings it to life recreating features that have withered away centuries ago. Merry also gives back the powers the sidhe lost when they were allowed entry to this country by President Jefferson. This makes the queen jealous because Merry can do what she can no longer perform and when a predator is angered, anything can happen. The latest entry in the Princess Meredith series is a fantastic and enthralling adult fairy tale complete with a beautiful princess, a host of archetype princes " who act as Merry's guards and the wicked witch (in this case the evil faerie queen). There is a lot of exotic sex and action IN A STOKE OF MIDNIGHT and very visual descriptions of the reawakening of the sithen. Laurell K. Hamilton scores another bestseller heading for the New York Times bestseller list.

Heartbreak Hotel
Jill Marie Landis
ISBN: 0345453301 $23.95, 352 pp.

Six months ago her spouse Glenn Potter suddenly died leaving his thirty three years old widow Tracy broke and alone raising their preadolescent son Matthew and trying to help her stepdaughter Chelsea pay her college tuition. The only assets the IRS could not take away was the nineteenth century run down Heartbreak Hotel, overlooking the Pacific as that was in Matt's name and a trust fund her grandparents left her. A desperate Tracy and Matt move into the hotel with Chelsea residing with them when she is not attending school. Since the Twilight Cove Historical Society got the Heartbreak Hotel listed as a historical landmark, Tracy cannot sell that is if she could even find a buyer. Using her trust fund, she begins renovations when Wade Johnson arrives and asks to spend the night paying with cash. Needing the money she agrees; that one day stay turns into a week. Wade and Tracy are attracted to one another, but he knows nothing can come of it as long as he must hide from his fame, his past, and mostly his dreams that inspire the words that frighten him to hole up in offbeat places. HEARTBREAK HOTEL is a strange, very interesting contemporary romantic thriller with a gothic feel to the plot. The story line is character driven by the lead couple and enhanced by a solid cast including her son and the source of the dreams. Wade will intrigue the audience as they will wonder if he is the romantic hero or a dangerous person on the lam perhaps from himself and ponder whether he harmed others. Jill Marie Landis keeps the suspense and romance high as fans will contemplate which will ultimately win out.

On the Right Side of a Dream
Sheila Williams
One World (Ballantine)
ISBN: 0345464753 $12.95, 240 pp.

In Columbus, Ohio, disgusted with her three adult children, fortyish Juanita Louis ran away from her family and gave up her job as a nursing assistant. She got off the bus in Paper Moon, Montana where she became a cook at Jess Gardiner's diner and soon Jess became her boyfriend (see DANCING ON THE EDGE OF THE ROOF). After a year in Big Sky Country enjoying her new life and lover and in spite of family pressure to return home, Juanita joins a local friend Peaches on a tour of the southwest. In Los Angeles, she temporarily becomes a chef no longer a cook at fancy Yancey's restaurant before continuing to Arizona to run a New Age B&B. She learns that her beloved elderly friend Millie Tilson died bequeathing her Paper Moon B&B to Juanita. Heading home to Montana, a grieving Juanita plans to make the B&B the best in the state while deciding what to do with the kind Jess, a gentle man so opposite her abusive ex spouse. This sequel stars one of the most realistic protagonists in recent years. Juanita appears quite human as she continues her lust for life touring the southwest. Fans from the first tale will mourn the death of feisty independent Millie almost as much as Juanita misses the fiery senior. Sheila Williams is a terrific author of the contemporary scene with real women walking away from untenable situations often abuse, her latest is worth reading as her tales touch the soul of the audience through a finely developed eccentric cast especially the likable star who shows there is life to live to the fullest even following dark moments.

Dancing on the Edge of the Roof
Sheila Williams
One World
ISBN: 034545930X $12.95, 227 pp.

In Columbus, Ohio forty-two years old African-American Juanita Lewis is disappointed with her two sons and daughter. Rashawn is a drug dealer; Randy is doing time; and Bertie does the clubs ignoring her baby. To flee from her belief that she failed at parenting 101, Juanita escapes into romance novels where she fantasizes of a different life for her and her family, and when she is honest with herself, just her. Unable to cope with the latest disenchantment and encouraged by her novels, Juanita quits her nurses aide job and takes a bus to escape from her dismal home life. The name sounds romantic and her bus companion mentioned it, so she gets off in Paper Moon, Montana. At the local diner Juanita defeats owner Jess Gardiner in a cook off by providing a simple menu rather than his upper crust bill of fare for the patrons. Soon everyone wants to eat at the diner. Juanita enjoys rustication even conversing with her landlady's cats. Jess begins courting her and they fall in love. DANCING ON THE EDGE OF THE ROOF is a fantastic contemporary romance with an insightful family drama that actually comes alive though the perceptions of the heroine. Though the metamorphosis of Juanita from nurturing care-taker to strong "I am woman" seems impossible yet Sheila Williams makes it believable as if Juanita "snapped" in a positive way as she realizes that there is got to be more to life than this and decides to find it. The story line is amusing with its serious message to respect yourself while the J duet fuss, fight, and fall in love within this fine second chance at life.

The Overnight
Ramsey Campbell
ISBN: 0765312999 $24.95, 400 pp.

American based Texts Bookstores opened up a superstore in Fenny Meadows Retail Park in northern England. However, the store has failed to live up to expectations. Yank Woody Blake, who has successfully turned around stores in New Orleans and Minneapolis, is sent to fix the English shop built on the fens. During closing hours, books jump from shelves even landing in the discard pile and the fen reclaims the store every night leaving inventory wet, oily and yucky. With the suits arriving to inspect his progress, Woody orders an all-nighter to get the store ready. However, he and his employees learn first hand who the anti-bibliophiles are. Slimy blobs come out of the fog that has engulfed Texts Bookstore and the electricity blacks out. The outside doors are locked by some other force with no way to exit and Woody is further sealed in his office that might be his tomb as the store is sinking just like whole villages have vanished here before. Fans of Ramsey Campbell and anyone who has worked at a bookstore will appreciate this tongue in cheek horror tale that grips the audience the moment readers grasp that this is not just another retail establishment. Woody is a fabulous protagonist who serves as the focal point holding the thriller together (someone has to - try pinning jello blobs to a wall). He and his staff portray working at a bookstore so well and his transformation from save the store ultra-energy to trapped mouse is cleverly handled as in between he sees all sorts of the nasties occur to his staff. Mindful of Poltergeist but with humor, Mr. Campbell provides a delightful tale that will ironically leap off the bookshelves.

Natasha Mostert
ISBN: 0765349299 $6.99

To obtain the job, photographer Justine Calloway had to lie about being married and that her spouse would join her. When the offer to become the caretaker at remote Paradine Park happens, Jane accepts, needing the change of scenery to escape her feelings of guilt and remorse. Though for the most part alone and aware of the tragic history of Paradine, Jane is comfortable there as if she always belonged there. Thus where she had been indifferent except how it might impact her employment, Jane now detests the plans to convert the almost decade empty sprawling English estate to a spa. In Africa, Adam Buchanan sees a picture of the new caretaker in a magazine. He is stunned as he has seen the woman in the photo in his dreams. He knows that Justine is his soulmate, but to claim her he must return home, the place of his worst nightmare. The bitter memories of the tragedy almost a decade ago at his family home Paradine Park wash all over him. Adam knows he must confront his worst nightmare, the murder of his brother Dickie in the gardens in which everyone figures he did it especially since he fled England after looking at his dead sibling on the ground. WINDWALKER is an intriguing tale that is an atypical paranormal romantic suspense. The story line grips the reader with its rotating first person viewpoints that enable the audience to see what makes Justine and Adam tick, especially the fears that motivate much of what they do. Fans who appreciate something radically different in their literature will want to read Natasha Mostert's intriguing yet unique and odd thriller.

Mists of Everness
John C. Wright
ISBN: 0765313332 $25.95

For a millennium, the Waylock family has served as vigil guardians at the dream gate Everness to insure that evil never enters this world. However, the malevolent forces are mounting their strongest assault in centuries with the goal to take over the reality world of those awake. The current gate guardian Galen Waylock, who was forced too young to take over when his father abandoned his post, has fallen into a coma (see THE LAST GUARDIAN OF EVERNESS). In the Pentagon, Azrael de Grey, who is an important government official, performs summoning rites as part of his plan to take control first of the Everness gate, next the evil forces of the dream world beyond the gate, and ultimately both planes. The evil begin penetrating into this world with an epic sea battle rivaling World War II in the Pacific as the US Navy skirmishes with wraiths and krakens. Apparently, in spite of Galen's sire returning to aid his son, Azrael has succeeded in bringing apocalypse now. MISTS OF EVERNESS, the sequel to the fun THE LAST GUARDIAN OF EVERNESS, is an amusing epic fantasy with religious overtones. The satirical story line concentrates on spoofing the Books of Revelation and Daniel. This serves as a two sword of Damocles with plenty of humorous exciting scenarios, but none of the characters except somewhat Galen's cousin (a wheelchair bound Nam vet POW of the evil forces) fully developed. Instead the key players are ironically overwhelmed by the lampooning of converging religion and fantasy. Still well written and thought provoking, John C. Wright provides an interesting tale for fantasy readers who enjoy cutting edge satire starring flatlined heroes and villains.

Shadow of the Giant
Orson Scott Card
ISBN: 0312857586 $25.95

The Battle School graduates had merged their skills enabling Andrew "Enders" Wiggin to lead their forces to victory against the insectoid invading Buggers. However, the threat is over, but now the problem is what to do next with the armies and who should lead. Civil war between former allies seems imminent unless the Battle School grads can come together as they did against the Buggers perhaps under Peter the Hegemon, Ender's older sibling, who wants to bring a Pax eternal to earth, but may need war to achieve this. Meanwhile one of the key heroes in the Buggers War Julian "Bean" Delphiki is dying from the genetic alteration that turned him into a previously unheard of level of genius. He and his spouse, former Battle School peer Petra desperately want to find their eight stolen embryos/children before he dies. As the mortality clock ticks away, their task looks more hopeless by the minute. Orson Scott Card is at his award winning best with the SHADOW OF THE GIANT, the incredible finale of the Shadow Quartet (see ENDER'S SHADOW, SHADOW OF THE HEGEMON, AND SHADOW PUPPETS). The story line can actually stand alone though better comprehension will happen if the audience has read the previous novels because reference to them and to a lesser degree to the Ender's Quartet occurs. Mr. Card brilliantly contrasts the epic (world peace or war) with the micro (finding one's misplaced "future" so that the audience understands the importance of both the enormous and the small. However, what makes the tale is the author's take on relativity in which every dispute seemingly has "enderless" interpretations as partisanship and personal agendas are reality.

The Gypsy
Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm
Tor Orb
ISBN: 0765311925 $23.95, 272 pp.

In Lakota, Ohio, someone murders a liquor store clerk for the sum of $179 and change. Police Officer Mike "Step" Stepovich arrests the Gypsy, a street wanderer who can't remember anything. However, the police are forced to release the Gypsy. Not long afterward, someone kills an elderly female fortune teller in a dumpy hotel; near the crime scene Step notices the Gypsy. Taken off the case by his superiors and over the objections of his partner Durand, Step continues his inquiries trailing the Gypsy. Soon Step finds clues that do not rationally appear logical, but lead to the enigmatic Fair Lady. She spins webs to "capture" people for her evil use; Step's teenage daughter Laurie and her friends seem caught by her alluring spell. Knowing he is out of his depth as the Fair Lady reaches beyond the normal, Step has no idea how to stop her. Only three brothers (the Raven, the Owl and the Dove) working in concert can, but they are nowhere in sight. Instead Step turns to an ancient drunk the Coachman, who knows what must be done when he is sober, a rare event. THE GYPSY is an interesting urban police procedural horror tale that will remind readers of Stephen King's earlier works as the story line contains seemingly supernatural elements within the who-done-it. The gritty investigation is cleverly done especially when Step keeps following a trail of death that appears illogical to him as if he investigates homicides in the Twilight Zone. Though the Gypsy and the Fair Lady passages remain vague and unconnected until late into the tale, readers will appreciate this tense collaboration that asks the audience to ponder what are life and death.

Terry Goodkind
ISBN: 0765305232 $29.95, 672 pp.

Hit by an Imperial Order soldier's arrow, Richard Lord Rahl nears death until Sorceress Nikki uses a "Subtractive Magic" spell to save his life. When Richard recovers he learns that his wife Kahlan is missing, but in spite of his insistence and need to find her, his companions insists that he has no spouse. The Subtractive Magic eliminated Kahlan from the minds of everyone except Richard. While Richard struggles with his personal dilemma, his enemy Emperor Jagjang has sent his armies to destroy cities previously liberated by Richard's forces. At the same time that the prophecy books that predict a Last Battle where only Richard might save the world, it now contains blank pages as if the future reality shifted because of the erasure of a pivotal item. Finally the Emperor has conjured up an invincible blood beast to destroy Richard. Using magic to try to locate Kahlan enables the beast to find him. Desperate for information, Richard visits a Witch Woman who gives him little information and after seeing his grandfather, he worries whether he has lost mind and consequently his way. CHAINFIRE is a terrific entry in the Sword of Truth series as Richard struggles with personal doubts and difficult selections involving Kahlan vs. saving lives that probably will die once he leaves them anyway. The story line is action-packed and filled with strong female warriors and a fabulous killing monster, but Richard and to a lesser degree the Emperor remains the center of the tale as their decisions impact often fatal others. Though some fans will balk at loose threads, epic fantasy readers especially of the long running saga will appreciate this fine entry that showcases how multifarious ethical principles truly are.

Stephen Baxter
Starscape (Tor)
ISBN: 0765349418 $5.99

February 7, 2027 is World Peace Day celebrating two decades of people embracing give peace a chance as espoused by the World Peace Movement. Globally people look forward to galas to attend. Sarah has many events to choose from, but what she looks forward to is that the greatest web based theme park GULLIVERZONE is free. She looks forward to spending the day playing there though she expects to suffer from websickness from spending too much time in the specially designed web suit, but gladly will put up with the nausea and headache she anticipates having. However, instead of the good time that her father insists she share with her younger brother George alias Byte, Sarah finds their lives in danger from the Empress of Lilliput. Sarah accidentally learned that the evil Empress has tinkered with the web theme park's computer program with viruses manifesting and evolving into living beings that further her agenda; only Sarah is in the way and she must be deleted. Though the sibling rivalry is over-killed, young readers will appreciate this delightful fantasy that looks at "reality" inside the web. Sarah is a terrific young heroine while her foe is as malevolent as they come. The story line is fun for the older audience too as award winning Stephen Baxter (yes that Baxter) provides a fascinating thriller mindful in some respects of Robert Elmer's fine young adult web tales.

Cat in A Hot Pink Pursuit
Carole Nelson Douglas
ISBN 0765313995 $24.95, 384 pp.

In Las Vegas, anything goes and usually does. A new reality show is coming to town Teen Idol, a program that involves teens competing in two age groups to become queens of their respective divisions can be picked. Unknown to Lieutenant Carmen Molina of the Las Vegas Police Department, her daughter Mariah entered the teen competition and made the cut. Molina reluctantly allows her daughter to go for the two weeks in house event but worries because someone is mutilating the advertising posters and a girl was killed on the site where the audition occurred. Molina asks Temple Barr to go undercover and enter the contest as a teen so she can watch over Mariah; she agrees because Max is nowhere around and hasn't been in quite some time. Her friend Matt is in Chicago looking for some clue that will lead him to the identity of his biological father. A serious of mischievous threats culminates in the murder of the contest's dietician. Temple with the help of her feline companion Midnight Louis investigates to stop the killer from murdering others. Carole Nelson Douglas always keeps her series fresh by taking her characters in different directions and CAT IN A HOT PINK PURSUIT is no exception. For long time fans, secrets are finally revealed and the heroine makes a life alternating decision. The story is told in the third person point of view except when Midnight Louis is on stage and he gives his first hand perspective. This writing technique is deftly handled by Ms. Douglas so that this charming and entertaining mystery is a must read for people who like creative and riveting amateur sleuth tales told mostly by one with a tail.

The Innocent
Harlan Coben
ISBN: 0525948740 $26.95, 416 pp.

Nine years ago Matt Hunter tried to break up a fight between two college cronies when he accidentally killed one of the combatants. Matt spent four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Over the next five years, Matt rehabilitated his life, becoming a paralegal and getting married to Olivia, who loves him and is pregnant with his child. Olivia calls on her video phone to enable Matt to see her wearing a blonde wig in a strange hotel room with an unknown man. Not long afterward that male stranger begins calling Matt, mocking him about his inability to keep his loving wife and snidely asking who is the father of the unborn Olivia carries is . While Matt struggles in disbelief that his treasured Olivia could have been playing a game of affection to abet in destroying him other seemingly unrelated incidents happen. Matt tries to become the predator rather than a scurrying rodent in a dangerous cat and mouse game. Harlan Coben's aficionados always appreciate his hairpin twists, but this time might need more than JUST ONE LOOK at this fabulous thriller as the plot takes turns and detours that will shock everyone at the cost of believability but no one will care. The story line moves forward at a frantic pace with a beleaguered Matt wondering if he has NO SECOND CHANCE for what seemingly was a wonderful life that now seems so illus- ional. Readers will feel for the shell-shocked Matt, but enjoy every traumatic twirl that happens to him while rooting for him to successfully fight back. Wild and weaving all over the place, fans will take immense delight with this out of control serpentine plot.

The Sunborn
Gregory Benford
ISBN: 0446530581 $24.95

Two decades have passed since married astronaut scientists Julia and Viktor landed on Mars and discovered we are not alone when they found the living huge Marsmat (see THE MARTIAN RACE). Over the subsequent years, they learned a lot about the strange, anaerobic natives to include their seemingly weird abilities involving magnetism. However, a new exploration opportunity has surfaced with a chance to go to Pluto, which has suddenly for no reason has begun heating up though still way below zero Fahrenheit and data shows the forming of an atmosphere. Julia and Viktor leap at the prospects to be part of the expedition exploring the coldest known planet in the solar system. Shockingly, a previous expedition led by Captain Shanna has found life, the humongous intelligent zand, on the frozen orb that can communicate with humans. The zand warn that the dangerous mechanical Darksiders are coming on "iceteroids," from the Oort cloud. This sequel contains a wonderful story line on the vast possibilities of alternate life forms in the solar system. However, the human members of the cast seem shallow. Julia and Viktor have not seemed to have aged in spite of the harshness of their work although twenty years have passed and can do no wrong. Shanna at times is a genius and at other moments a jealous chick lit bimbo instead of a courageous brilliant explorer (the next generation Julia). Other characters are one dimensional unless they happen to be a Marsmat, a zand, or the Darksiders. The scientific discussion that underlies the novel is superb and highlights Gregory Benford's ability to simplify without dumbing down extremely complex theories and do it inside a strong story line that overcomes the prime players.

In the Dark
Marliss Melton
ISBN: 0446614920 $6.50, 336 pp.

Navy SEAL Lieutenant Luther Lindstrom and his team are stunned that the Naval Criminal Investigation Services holds their leader Gabe "Jaguar" Renault in custody instead of weapons stealing Commander Edward Lovitt. The one person who could prove Lovitt is guilty is DIA Agent Hannah Geary, who has vanished and presumed dead by the SEAL until FBI Special Agent Rafael Valentino informs him otherwise. Rafael says that Hannah was abducted by the Individual, who is Lovitt's boss. He wants to bring this mastermind down before taking out Lovitt. He assigns the SEALs to rescue Hannah. However, Hannah is barely alive while being held prisoner in Santiago, Cuba by General Pizon. When the odious revolutionary starts to rape Hannah, she kills him. She tries to escape with Pizon's soldiers shooting at her when Luther and his cohorts complete her quest for freedom. As Luther and Hannah fall in love, he and his men try to keep her safe while Rafael attempts to bring down the Individual. This action-packed sequel to FORGET ME NOT will keep the audience on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next as the tale is as much a suspense thriller as it is a romance. The story line is non-stop from the moment Hannah tries to escape her Cuban incarceration until the final altercation leaving the audience to ponder whether the duo will earn T-shirts stating "accomplished the mission" as much as wondering whether love is enough to keep Luther and Hannah together. Marliss Melton provides a strong thriller that leaves readers wanting more IN THE DARK type novels.

Maybe Baby
Lani Diane Rich
ISBN: 0446615781 $6.50, 304 pp.

Six years ago when minor accidents frequently occurred just before her wedding to Nick James, Dana Wiley saw them as an omen; she jilted Nick thinking maybe she should not marry at this time. Dana goes to explain to her former fiance her feelings, but instead catches him with half naked Melanie Biggs, her nemesis since high school. She flees to her Upstate New York winery. When the grapes become diseased, Dana is forced to shut down the winery.. She takes a job as a secretary at the Rosemont Home of Central New York in Syracuse. There she wonders if she made a mistake when she dropped Nick who she still loves and wonders if maybe she should reconsider. With the grapes okay, but needing money to reopen, Dana journeys to Manhattan to ask her dizzy mom Babs for the capital. There she sees Nick who is assisting Babs with a charity event by stealing a valuable bird a kakapo for her. Upon seeing Dana, Nick, who quit his bartending job at Murphy's to head to California has no maybes, he still loves her and decides to make one last try to win her trust. Though Babs can drive the Ancient Mariner and readers to drink, fans will appreciate this fine contemporary romance starring a commitment phobic female and the dude who still loves her though he has struck out twice with her. The amusing story line contains a serious element involving failure to communicate, but that is overwhelmed by the antics of the cast. Fans of offbeat romantic romps will enjoy MAYBE BABY, but wonder in an age of communication why the lead couple failed to talk to one another.

River Rising
Dorothy Garlock
ISBN 0446693944 $12.95, 386 pp.

April Asbury leaves a big city hospital where she worked as an emergency room nurse to work in the small town of Fertile as Dr. Forbes office nurse. On the surface Fertile seems like a serene little town where neighbor helps neighbor survive the Great Depression. She meets Joe Jones when her car breaks down forcing her to walk until she finds herself in a field with a bull. Joe rescues her and takes her into town where she rents a room at Mrs. Poole's and starts work in Dr. Forbes office. She begins to sense that the postcard prettiness of the town masks secrets that people want kept hidden. Dr Forbes is in love with a woman most people would consider black and is not allowed to legally marry her. Mrs. Poole's brother Fred spies on April when she is naked in her room and Mrs. Poole is going through with a diabolical plan that could destroy innocent lives. April is afraid to give her heart to Joe because she thinks he is a flirt while Joe thinks April would not want to get involved with a poor farmer. When the river threatens to flood the town many secrets and feelings finally see the light of day. Dorothy Garlock is the queen of Americana tales and RIVER RISING is a perfect example of her superior writing talent. The romance of April and Joe plays out against the manipulations and actions of the secondary cast who are drawn very realistically. There are multiple sub-plots that all tie to the main storyline that enables readers to feel what it was like in small Missouri town during the Great Depression.

The Rose Red Bride
Claire Delacroix
ISBN: 0446614424 $6.99, 448 pp.

In 1421 Scotland, Alexander, Laird of Kinfairlie, feels euphoric about his marriage auction that worked so well in spite of the objection of the bride, Madeline the oldest of his sisters. Alexander blithely ignores all that went wrong as he keeps thinking all's well that ends well as Madeline, who previously refused to marry, is happily wedded to Rhys Fitzhenry. The successful brotherly matchmaker turns to Vivienne though Alexander plans to improve the process since the Madeline caper (see THE BEAUTY BRIDE). He thinks he found the solution when Nicholas Sinclair, the man who broke Vivienne's heart years ago, arrives to court his beloved as he can offer a home since his older brother Erik has been disowned. Nicholas insists he bed her in her tower where she awaits his return so that she has no choice but to marry as he needs a bride and heir rather quickly to deflect any estate challenges. Rationalizing he needs the coins for the other sisters, Alexander agrees. Vivienne and her beau enjoy the night together until morning light reveals cynical Erik as her mate and he insists she will begat him a legitimate heir. Though similar in design to the first Kinfairlie medieval romance, THE ROSE RED BRIDE has a flavor of its own because Vivienne and Madeline have different personalities. The story line is fun due to Erik's denials that he loves her while vivacious Vivienne believes they were destined together, but rejects his cold insistence that she is an heir breeder. Fans will enjoy Alexander's latest matrimonial fiasco and look forward to the next jewel Snow White in the fall.

Lord of the Isles
Amanda Scott
ISBN: 0446614610 $6.50, 400 pp.

In 1370 Scotland, Hector "The Ferocious" Maclean races home with information to share with his brother when the storm gets so bad he needs shelter. He chooses Castle Charlamine, home of widower Murdoch Macleod of Glenelg. Hector arrives in time to rescue the beautiful seventeen years old Mariota from receiving a terrible burn. Besotted with the teen, he asks her father Murdoch for her hand in marriage; Murdoch says no as he believes that if any of his eight daughters wed out of chronological birth order, his clan will be cursed. Instead he offers his oldest child Cristina. Hector insists on Mariota and finally Murdoch apparently acquiesces. At the wedding reception, Murdoch gets everyone drunk and substitutes Cristina as the bride. When Hector awakens in the morning and realizes who he married, he lives up to his nickname roaring annulment. Cristina stays calm and persuades him for their individual reputations they need to leave together. Not long afterward, he flirts outrageously with Mariota, but becomes irately jealous when he thinks his wife is seeing someone else because he loves Cristina who loved Hector even before she became his substitute bride. Hector seems to have calmed down as if he is on Ritalin compared to the prequel (see HIGHLAND PRINCESS); still he remains a viable force that one does not mess with if they want to remain healthy. With that calling card, the duplicity of the superstitious Murdoch and Cristina's courage to face him make for a fine fourteenth century romance. Though Mariota is spoiled to the degree of a caricature and deserves her fate, fans will appreciate this tale of marriage starring the wrong bride.

Mission Irresistible
Lori Wilde
ISBN: 0446615153 $6.50, 368 pp.

Cassie Cooper hopes one day soon she will work at the Smithsonian, but for now she must handle the garbage Phyllis Lambert, her boss at Fort Worth Kimbell's Museum, tosses at her. Currently, the Kimbell hosts an Ancient Egypt exhibit because noted Egyptologist Dr. Harrison Standish got permission from the Mubarak government to host an exhibit that includes a priceless artifact in the states so he chose his home city. Phyllis warns Cassie if anything goes wrong she will be fired. During an Ancient Egypt masquerade gala at the Kimbell, the lights go out; when they come back on a man in a mummy suit is dead and part of the amulet is missing. Additionally guest of honor, Harrison's half-brother Dr. Adam Grayfield has failed to arrive. Phyllis blames Cassie, but shockingly Harrison defends her innocence. As Cassie and Harrison work together seeking the missing half of the artifact, the nerdy Dr. "Standoffish" and the bouncy flirtatious nut fall in love, but first an amulet must be found though the kisses send shivers up both their spines. The sequel to CHARMED AND DANGEROUS is a fun romantic amateur sleuth tale starring two likable seemingly opposites. The pairing sort of reminds this reviewer of what if the Professor and Ginger made it except instead of an isolated overly visited island the background is Egyptian artifacts. The story line is humorous and fast-paced never taking itself seriously. Fans who appreciate a breezy lighthearted romantic suspense reminiscent of Romancing the Stone will enjoy reading the adventures of the wilder Cooper twin.

Over Her Dead Body
Kate White
ISBN: 0446531766 $24.95

In a Greenwich Village cafe, Gloss magazine editor Cat Jones informs her human interest-crimes contributor Bailey Weggins that they no longer want her services as the publication is going to concentrate on bliss not buzz. Desperate, Bailey asks her friend Robby Hart, senior editor at Buzz magazine, if he has any leads for a job. To her amazement he hires hire to provide articles on celebrity crime. Bailey is taken aback at Buzz when she first encounters the big boss Mona Hodges, who yells, curses and demeans her staff before eating her chicken salad sandwich and then goes back to yell, curse and demean her staff again. Not long after Bailey starts, Mona stunningly fires Robby. Soon after that, Bailey finds Mona's battered corpse late at night in the office. The police suspect Robby killed Mona in a fit of unemployment rage. Bailey knows her friend could not harm anyone, so using her journalistic investigative skills; she begins her own inquiries into who killed the she devil boss. OVER HER DEAD BODY is an entertaining journalistic investigative tale starring a likable heroine (see 'TIL DEATH DO US PART, A BODY TO DIE FOR and IF LOOKS COULD KILL). The story line is fast-paced at first in a breezy manner but quickly turns into a dangerous sleuthing endeavor for the intrepid reporter. Mona is a stereotype of the "queen of mean" so that everyone within her circle of ugliness wants her dead. Thus Bailey efforts to prove someone other than Robby committed homicide seems overwhelming for her, but not for series fans who will enjoy Kate White's latest tale refreshed by a new magazine cover.

Forcing Amaryllis
Louise Ure
Mysterious (Warner)
ISBN: 0892960094 $23.95

In Tucson, Arizona, Jessica Marley, owner of Marley & Partners Trial Consultant informs employee Calla Gentry she will consult on a criminal case since one of their associates did the unfathomed misdeed of giving birth three weeks early. Calla objects as she only does civil matters, but Jessica overrules her. Calla needs this job to pay for the care of her comatose sister Amaryllis, a victim of rape and assault seven years ago; her sibling's attack is why Calla detests criminal cases. Attorney Kevin McCullough explains to Calla that the state accuses his client wealthy Raymond Cates of sexually assaulting and killing Lydia Chavez; but he has an alibi, a family ranch hand Salsispuedes affirms they were drinking at the time of the attack. Calla thinks the Chavez rape-murder is similar to that of her sibling; when she meets Cates, he wonders if they met before and she notices his cut off finger. She ponders could he have confused her for her sister and the finger fits the little her sibling mentioned before going into a coma. Though there is a conflict of interest, Calla makes inquiries with private investigator Anthony Strike who ishelping her. FORCING AMARYLLIS is an awesome legal thriller that showcases how the rich can afford a high priced specialized defense team (think of the OJ case) as specialists like Strike, Gentry, and a DNA expert are not cheap; attorneys are not enough. The story line digs deep into what goes on behind the scenes of a defense team while also following Calla's amateur sleuth investigation. Reminiscent of Rankin Fitch's squad in RUNAWAY JURY, FORCING AMARYLLIS is a fabulous look at the cost of American justice that like most things can be bought.

Russell Andrews
ISBN: 0892967919 $24.95

Bordering on the wealthier side of the Hamptons, East End Harbor has become an in spot for the rich. However, the idyllic Long Island beach community is shattered when Bashas Shabaan enters Harper's Restaurant during the lunch hour with a briefcase filled with explosives killing everyone inside. Among the dead is Sheriff Jimmy Leggett. His grieving widow Marjorie demands new Sheriff Justin Westwood learn who was really behind what authorities concluded was a suicide bombing. A small plane departs from East End Airport. Almost immediately the plane crashes killing the pilot. Justin feels quickly out of his element when the pilot has no identification and eerily left no fingerprints on the debris. Although everyone screams vengeance on the Middle East for the Harper's tragedy, the new Sheriff sees a weak link between that and the plane, which implies ties to DC. His theory is further fostered when two more restaurants are blown up by suicide bombers made to look conveniently at least to him like foreign terrorists did the deed. This is a terrific police procedural (unless you are a die hard supporter of Bush's corporate state) that at times reads more like a thriller than an investigative tale. The Guantonimo Bay segue is frightening as Russell Andrews paints quite a rendition of what might be happening there. Justin is a fabulous investigator who has a tragic personal history, filled with doubts that he knows what he is doing and becomes unsettled when he bumps up against federal laws that prevent his efforts to learn the truth. Although over the top with its warnings about corporatism conspiracy, fans of action-packed tales will appreciate this exhilarating novel.

Who Mourns for Majik
T.P. Norling
ISBN: 059575175X $35.95

In 3651 C.E. someone murders Anjelica Briggs, the former wife of Terran Defense Directorate Captain Daniel Briggs. Law enforcement, following millenniums of tradition, looks at the ex-husband as the prime suspect. Adding to that belief is that Daniel has fled making him look even more suspicious. A manhunt of mammoth proportions begins. Daniel tries to hide in the mean streets the capital city Boomtown eluding the cops and seeking the truth that will prove his innocence. Used to the adverse conditions of a warrior with off planet combat experience, Daniel realizes that the decadent streets of Boomtown contain predators much more dangerous than any of the extraterrestrials he fought against. As he inches closer to learning who killed Anjelica and why, Daniel struggles to stay alive in this alien world relatively close to his home while knowing that the hunters are closing the net around him. Fans of amateur sleuth science fiction will appreciate this strong tale starring a fabulous protagonist. Though military honed and containing paranormal skills, Daniel struggles against the street, an unknown enemy, and the law. The key to this delightful futuristic who-done-it is believability in the settings especially Boomtown and the short background "History of the World", but especially the desperate hero. WHO MOURNS FOR MAJIK is a fabulous blending of a fine mystery within a solid speculative fiction environs.

Joseph Kanon
Henry Holt
ISBN: 080507886X $26.00, 415 pp.

By 1946 still horrified by what he has seen, former U.S. Army war crimes investigator Adam Miller travels to Venice to see his widowed mother Grace. To his surprise the city is like a beautiful oasis in war ravaged Europe unscathed by the horrors that Adam has seen especially in Germany. Adam meets Italian Jew Claudia Grassini at a party. They fall in love and begin an affair. However, Claudia spent time in the Fossoli concentration camp, leaving her feeling guilty that she lived while so many others died. While Adam courts Claudia, Grace is seeing a pre war lover aristocratic Dr. Gianni Mangion. Adam does not trust Gianni sensing something sinister perhaps involving the Fascist years. He begins investigating his mother's lover and soon murders occur ultimately leading to the good soldier Adam choosing between justice and the law with either selection further devastating his already weakened inner soul. ALIBI is a terrific historical tale that uses war crimes, a murder mystery, and a romance to tell the tale of Post WWII Venice. The story line is fast-paced and action packed never slowing down for a moment. However what makes this thriller so chilling and thrilling is the deep cast. Adam, Grace, Claudia, and Gianni, supported by the grand city and residents trying to heal, are fully developed characters that bring home the era. The audience receives a fantastic novel that showcases Joseph Kanon's skills.

My Abnormal Life
Lee McClain
Smooch (Dorchester)
ISBN: 0843954663 $5.99, 181 pp.

Homeless fifteen years old Rose Graham was caught shoplifting or else her plight and that of her Downs Syndrome sister Danielle would have remained unknown. The social workers at St. Helen's Home for Girls separate the two siblings though it is obvious that Dani relies heavily on Rose. Dani is placed with the Johnsons where teenager Brian detests the fact that another "Little Orphan Annie" is coming into his family home. Rose is sent to the McGraws whose daughter is a perky freshman cheerleader at Penn State. Rose struggles to adapt to school and not having Dani depend on her. However although feeling some guilt her most difficult adjustment is Brian, a hunk that makes her dream of desires she never had before except that he seems nasty to her and somewhat to Dani. This is an intriguing story line starring an affable nurturing homeless teen struggling with the demands of a nice foster family, school, sibling separation when she is the caretaker, and a teen hunk. The story line is at its best when it centers on Rose's life. When she plays the computer game Altlives, Rose enjoys MY ALTERNATE LIFE using the game to cope with the recent changes, but though interesting to watch her rationalize that also takes the plot away from an even more fascinating reality. Young adults will enjoy the insightful MY ABNORMAL LIFE.

A Bird, a Bloke, and a Boyfriend
Sally Ogders
ISBN: 0843954655 $5.99, 198 pp.

After spending time in America, Sarah returns home to Australia, but she has changed as puberty arrived. However, during the time she spent in the northern hemisphere, everyone has changed Down Under also especially as all her female friends have boyfriends. She picks her best male buddy A.J. to be hers, but he seems reluctant to make his pal "Little" his and besides he is seeing Clemmie. So Sarah makes a perfect boyfriend Clay. Sarah expects a great relationship with her paragon Clay, who does everything right and makes her imperfect friend A.J. look pathetic; although deep down in her teenage heart she would like A.J. to be more than friends. However, Sarah soon finds how difficult it is to have a relationship with someone who is perfect; she is beginning to appreciate the flaws of kindhearted A.J. Will she give up her model of the ideal boyfriend for the flesh and blood A.J.? Interestingly, readers will come to the same conclusion that Sarah reached that Clay is so perfect he is boring though he is the paragon of a boyfriend at least in Sarah's mind in spite of her heart saying otherwise. The pleasant story line with a touch of the paranormal is fun for the younger teenage chick lit crowd who will appreciate Sarah's lament between blokes and boyfriends. Not intended for adults, thirteen to fifteen years old female readers will want to choose for Sarah between the clumsily nice with flaws and tediously nice perfect.

Hot Stuff
Flo Fitzpatrick
ISBN: 082177753X $5.99

Translator Tempe Walsh is in Hot Harry's Bar in Bombay working for client Ray DeCore who is negotiating with Himali Khan over purchasing Shiva's Diva statue. Tempe is translating to and from Hindi and English. The deal is struck when Tempe notices the statue is a fake. All hell breaks loose with bullets flying everywhere. Ray is dead, but Tempe survives due to her gymnastic skills and her Wonder Woman like earrings. Briggan "Strider" O'Brian, who speaks Gaelic, escapes with Tempe and the original statue. Everyone in town seems to be after Brig and Tempe. Needing a place to hold up, the beleaguered couple chooses a Bollywood set, which turns out to make it even more difficult to decide who is the hero and who is the villain though Tempe likes Brig's kisses an awful lot. This is a tongue in cheek romantic suspense that takes off from the moment Tempe opens her mouth about the statue and never slows down until the final altercation. The story line combines plenty of humor with excitement the rogue and the language expert dodge danger within a movie production and fall in love although Tempe has doubts that she will ride off with the hero as her beloved is to much the imp even if he is her champion kind of like the Douglas role in Romancing the Stone. Flo Fitzpatrick provides an amusing romantic adventure.

What She Can't See
Hunter Morgan
ISBN: 0821774018 $6.50, 384 pp.

The four college students are nasty to the workers in the China Garden restaurant calling the waiter a faggot among other abominable behavior. After leaving, Drew Palmer, son of a senator, drives too fast and they crash. Gas is all over the place with the students trapped inside the vehicle when a Good Samaritan stops to help. The newcomer takes and ignites Drew's lighter before tossing it inside the Jeep. The police assume that a tragic vehicular accident occurred as there is no contrary evidence. Still since a senator's son was involved, the FBI takes a close look at the incident. Agents Adam Thomas and M.K. Shaughnessy conclude no foul play happened. A second similar death of a Chesapeake Bay student occurs. While M.K. wonders if a serial killer is on the loose, Adam thinks the college crowd is just being stupid. His daughter Liza Jane is writing an editorial for the college newspaper agreeing with M.K. Pushed by the two women in his life, his daughter and his partner, Adam reluctantly agrees to dig deeper not realizing that if he ignores his instincts these two females he cherishes could be the next victims. Fans of romantic police procedurals will take immense pleasure in the exciting action-paced WHAT SHE CAN'T SEE. The story line is fast-paced but insures the heroic trio is full figured characters while providing glimpses of the culprit. Though the final explanation of motive seems like a tidying of the investigation, fans will welcome Hunter Morgan's fine thriller and want more "She " tales like this one and SHE'LL NEVER TELL from this fine author.

Mostly a Lady
Lisa Manuel
ISBN: 0821776495 $5.99

In a heavy rainstorm, Lord Dylan Fergusson comes across the disheveled and soaked woman who had remained inside the broken coach for the most part for two days waiting for assistance. She informs her rescuer that she is the wealthy Lady Elizabeth Mendoza de Leone and that her companion and driver, respectively Eliza and Nathan Kent lie dead nearby. The woman feels guilty because she is Eliza, the recently hired help, but she sees this masquerade as her only means to save her life. Dylan takes Elizabeth to the home of his sister, Charity in nearby Wakefield. There he believes he found the woman he wants to spend his life with in Elizabeth, but though she secretly reciprocates his feelings of love, she refuses his kisses. She knows that she owes him the truth, but that would end his trust of her and ultimately his feelings. MOSTLY A LADY, the third "mostly" historical romance (see MOSTLY MARRIED and MOSTLY MAYHEM), is a fine tale starring two amiable protagonists and the return of support players from the previous stories like the hero's sister. The concept behind the well written story line, the masquerade, is two edged, as it makes for a fine comedy of errors compounded by love, but leaves the reader to wonder too long why Eliza needed to hide behind Elizabeth's identity that kept this reviewer thinking of a nineteenth century WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING. That is minor as sub-genre fans will appreciate this fine courting caper.

Love is All Around
Lori Devoti
ISBN: 082177865X $3.99

Patsy Lee Clark knows that her hometown of Daisy Creek, Missouri is dying. Although a fan of history especially local, Patsy Lee plans to leave town before the wake announces the end of Daisy Creek. St. Louis and employment is her destiny. Will Barnes made millions from the Internet boom, but having all the money in the world and a beautiful fiancee has not made him happy. In fact he has not enjoyed life except for establishing his Net business which turned into a laborious task before he finally sold it and as a child growing up in Daisy Creek in the Ozarks. He ends his engagement, leaves Chicago, and comes home to recapture the magic of life that he somehow has lost. Will feels renewed with his homecoming as he begins plans for a new internet business and renovating his fixer upper Victorian mansion. He especially enjoys the women led by the Clark females, but the one he wants most Patsy Lee insists she is heading to St. Louis. Will thinks that won't happen if he, assisted by her aunt and granny, has any say. He hopes love will keep her with him in breathing life in this dying town. This humorous regional romance contains a serious social issue involving dying small towns. The story line takes the future of Daisy Creek quite seriously, but uses zany eccentrics to make the romance into an amusing counterpoint to the grim aspects of can small towns survive in today's megalopolis world without condemning big cities. Patsy Lee and Will make a fine couple, but it is the wild bunch led by the lead female's unconventional relatives that spice up this well written contemporary tale.

Twice Upon a Wedding
Jean Stone
ISBN: 0553586866 $6.99

In West Hope, Massachusetts, Jo, Lily, Sarah, and Elaine formed Second Chances, which successfully hosted a wedding for Jo's mom. The group caters to people marrying for the second time. Single father Andrew Kennedy has joined the team, but hides his day job as a columnist for Buzz magazine from the females especially fearing Jo's reaction as he has fallen in love with her. Feeling a bit guilty about duping the women and knowing he needs to confess to Jo, Andrew tests the water by informing Elaine. However, before he admits his secret to his beloved, Jo reads Buzz and recognizes that the man who has given her a second chance at believing has lied by omission. Will a distraught Andrew persuade a devastated Jo that she can trust him if she gives him a second chance? The concurrently published sequel to the delightful middle age women's fiction ONCE UPON A BRIDE, TWICE UPON A WEDDING, will provide the audience with double the fun. The story line concentrates on Elaine's efforts to redo herself into something better and on Andrew's attempts to tell the truth and make it with Jo. Though reading the first book helps as it provides much of the baseline for this tale, contemporary women's fiction readers can enjoy this tale as a fine modern day relationship drama.

Bad Guys
Linwood Barclay
ISBN: 0553803867 $22.00

After finding the burbs worse than Tom Hanks (see BAD MOVE), super worrier Zack Walker returns to the inner city with his wife and their two teenage children. He lets his paranoia over the safety of children get a grip on him when his eighteen years old daughter Angie fails to come home by curfew. He stalks the home of her date "Pool Boy" only to be caught and learn his daughter is sleeping in her bed. Now his daughter is being stalked by apparently Trevor Wylie, a friend of her younger brother Paul, but she wants dad to stay out of it. Meanwhile the Metropolitan reporter is working graveyard stakeouts accompanying private detective Laurence on trying to prevent robberies. However, a peer who shares work with Laurence, Diamond is murdered on a concurrent stake out. As Zack investigates the homicide, he also stealthy tries to stop the stalker bothering his daughter; all this and more fears without taking medication. Zack is as nutty and paranoid as ever over the safety of his family as he sees bad doers under every rock. The humorous story line grips readers once they realize how foolish Zack takes things (never dawned on him to check whether his daughter was home) and never slows down until he places himself at risk from a killer and the stalker. Linwood Barclay provides a wonderfully jocular Noir starring a sympathetic Don Knotts like lunatic who no one understands. His wife threatens to use a pillow on him while he sleeps if he does not back off from his driving his family crazy over their wellbeing.

Iris Johansen
ISBN 0553803425 $25.00 405 pp.

Jane MacGuire, the adopted daughter of forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, is almost kidnapped and her friend is murdered before her eyes. The roommate who betrayed them is killed in a suspicious hit and run. Trevor, who she hasn't seen in four years since they caught a serial killer in the ruins of Herculaneum, the ancient city destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius' eruption, brings them to the castle he is renting in Aberdeen, Scotland. Dr. Reilly, a brainwashing specialist, wants Jane who is the mirror image Cira, a slave girl who escaped with a treasure when Herculaneum was destroyed. He also wants the gold and coins that she smuggled out the day Vesuvius blew. Grozak, a hate filled racist who detests the United States is prepared to go to any lengths to kidnap and delver Jane and find the gold and coins and bring them all to Reilly if he will brainwash people into becoming suicide bombers for an attack on the United States that will make 9/11 seem small in comparison. Trevor who cares about Jane is determined to protect her just as he intends to stop Grozak from carrying out his plan. Jane joins the mission to stop the man knowing it might coast her everything if they fail. COUNTDOWN is a fantastic action-packed thriller where the stakes are high and failure could result in the death of millions. Over the course of the Eve Duncan forensic thriller series Jane has evolved from a street wise delinquent into a beautiful headstrong adult who will do whatever it takes to save her country. Trevor, an ex-mercenary operating on both sides of the law, meets his match in Jane and their relationships promises to intensify in future novels. Iris Johansen has written another winner that is heading for the New York Times bestseller list.

Lead a Horse to Murder
Cynthia Baxter
ISBN: 0553586432 $6.99

On Long Island's Gold Coast, veterinarian Dr. Jessica Popper goes to Heatherfield Estates to tend to an injured polo horse Braveheart. Though the barn manager, Johnny Ray is nasty, Jessica checks the leg and concludes the steed suffers from inflammation. Jessica explains this to owner Andrew Mac Mackinnon when they hear a scream. They look outside to see a rider on the ground near a horse. Everyone races outside to find polo star Eduardo Garcia from Argentina dead. Though she goes about her business tending to ailing animals, Jessica has concerns over the death of one of the "Argies" as he was too good a horseman to fall like that especially since she saw how Eduardo and his horse seemed like one creature. She begins to make inquiries not realizing that a vet can get into deep trouble when they play sleuth. Jessica is a terrific lead character and fans will appreciate the descriptions of her work with animals, for instance helping King the dog with bloat or getting her two canines to heel (this reviewer is envious as my two dogs get me to heel). However, on the other hand, readers will question her lack of horse sense by getting involved in the homicide though the aesthetic seamless perfection of steed and rider she witnessed before Eduardo fell motivates her. Still LEAD A HORSE TO MURDER is a fabulous veterinarian amateur sleuth tale that the sub-genre audience will immensely enjoy while seeking out Cynthia Baxter's delightful previous works (see PUTTING ON THE DOG and DEAD CANARIES CAN'T SING) as this is a pure gold mystery.

Freedom's Apprentice
Naomi Kritzer
ISBN 0553586742 $6.99, 336 pp.

After Alexander dies, the Empire went into a decline until Penelope the first weaver learned how to control the djinn. Using their magic, they reconquered the countries that broke away from the empire, most learned to live with the Greeks as their rulers. Lauria, a free woman in service to Kyros the commander of the military garrison in Elpisia, as part of her job brings back runaway slaves who find refuge with the Alashi, a nomadic warrior group who remain free of Greek rule. After infiltrating the Alashi, Lauria sees how wrong she was to return runaway slaves and vows to free them from their masters. A runaway slave recognizes Lauria and exposes her deception. The Alashi exile her leaving her with no home but even more determined to free the slaves she captured. With her friend Tamar who accompanies her on her quest, the two women free the slaves who are scattered all over the empire. Both women know if they are caught, the penalty for their crimes is a tortuous death. This is the second book of THE DEAD RIVERS trilogy but it can stand alone because the storyline doesn't rely on the first book FREEDOM'S GATE. The use of djinn in the political and military arena is taken for granted and people see magic in their everyday life as something normal and natural. There is plenty of action in FREEDOM'S APPRENTICE as the heroine undoes the harm she caused to the runaway slaves. Some of the method she uses to find and free the slave are ingenious and will win her the admiration of the audience. Naomi Kritzer's world where the Greek Empire never fell and is the ruler of most of the known world is exciting and believable.

Dark House
Theresa Monsour
ISBN: 0399152903 $24.95

In the remote Iron Range section of Minnesota, though at least ten years older than her, Professor Serene Ransom picks up early twenties "Catch" Clancy, a bartender at Maggie's Red Door though he is slightly older than her usual boy toy. Catch fails to lock up when a snowmobile rider enters the place with a shotgun. Serene distracts the killer with her pistol while Catch hammers the robber with a bottle of Daniels. Serene's "pink" voice coaxes Catch into shooting the intruder and she fires also killing the robber. Though she says it self-defense, he says they would not be believed. After disposing of the body, Serene takes Catch to her St. Paul home. The local sheriff believes that Catch killed the snowmobile rider before fleeing with a blond. He wants to question Catch so he asks St. Paul Police Department to find him. Homicide Sergeant Paris Murphy is assigned to track him down; she quickly connects him to Serene, but lacks CLEAN CUT evidence. Though concern for her father following his heart attack keeps her from fully concentrating, Paris uses herself as bait to catch a dangerous murderous pair led by a female sex predator. DARK HOUSE, the terrific third Paris police procedural is a fabulous tale as the audience sees the fugitives more often than the cops. Readers gain incredible insight into the minds of Catch, who is a mix of innocence (nickname from his days as a hockey goalie) and hardened soul (accidentally killed his father and lives with busted up ankles), and the macabre Serene. Surprisingly Paris takes a back seat to this duo, but still provides her usual sleuthing skills and voluntarily plays the mouse to the two dangerous cats.

Lie By Moonlight
Amanda Quick
ISBN 0399152881 $24.95, 400 pp.

In the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign, Miss Concordia Glade accepts a position at Aldwick Castle as headmistress to four teenaged orphan girls. She gradually becomes aware that her employers are up to no good especially when she overhears them talk about auctioning off the girls. The place is well guarded making it almost impossible to get away but Concordia and her wards build and set off explosives that cause a diversion so that they can get to the stables. Once there they are caught by one of the guards but inquiry agent Ambrose Wells appears in the stables and helps them flee to his townhouse in London. He was hired to find out who killed Nellie Taylor. His investigation leads him to crime lord Alexander Larkin who is behind the auction that will soon take place. Ambrose intends to keep Concordia and her teenagers safe while he also seeks evidence that he can take to the police. Concordia, who believes she is the equal of any man, helps him until one of the perpetrators concludes she knows too much and must be gotten out of the way. Amanda Quick can always be counted on for quirky characters that don't fit into society and as a result are freer than most of their peers, but also find ways to get in trouble. While working together the two protagonists realize they are attracted to one another while the teen quartet play matchmaker nudging them along until one of them proposes marriage. LIE BY MOONLIGHT is one of MS. Quick's most charming and entertaining historical romantic investigative novels that she has ever written.

Out of Range
C.J. Box
ISBN 0399152911 $24.95, 320 pp.

Game Warden Joe Pickett who is based in Saddlestring, Twelve Sleep County in Wyoming is shocked when he hears that fellow game warden Will Jensen committed suicide. Joe's supervisor asks him to temporally take over Will's territory Jackson in Teton County; although it is not a good time to leave his wife and two daughters. He agrees to the temporary assignment in the hopes that he will obtain a better position and more income. Before he leaves, he asks his friend Nate Romanaski to watch his family because they are getting some strange calls that could prove dangerous. A spark ignites between Joe's wife and Nate one that they both try to ignore. Meanwhile, in Jackson, Joe is trying to deal with an ambitious supervisor ,an outfitter who doesn't adhere to the law and a developer who needs Joe approval to get his project off the ground. In an ominous turn of events Joe is exhibiting the same symptoms that Will experienced before he committed suicide and he begins to suspect that he and Will were set up by a dangerous and ruthless enemy. C.J. Box has written some pretty spectacular books over the years but OUT OF RANGE is by far his best work to date. This literary and lyrical thriller is memorable and will be considered a classic. The protagonist is an everyman that people can identify with him even when he finds himself attracted to another woman but like his wife chooses to ignore it. The plot is Byzantine, dark, gritty, almost gothic in tone and will appeal not just to mystery fans but to anyone who loves a good book.

Black Fly Season
Giles Blunt
ISBN: 0399152555 $25.95, 352 pp.

Near Algonquin Bay, Canada, the patrons are enjoying their drinks at World Tavern when the woman entered. Black fly bites were all over her body and she flitters from one table to the next. When locals try to pick her up starting with asking her name, she says she has no idea. They call her "Red" for obvious reasons. However, another patron local cop Jerry Commando takes the baffled woman to City Hospital. Doctors quickly realize the cause of her perplexity and amnesia has nothing to do with frying her brain on drugs; instead the docile woman was shot in the head as there is a bullet lodged in her brain; she does not remember the incident. Homicide Detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme head the investigation that includes keeping Red safe because both law enforcement officials believes that the person who injured her shot to kill and once he or she learns she still lives will be back to correct their mistake. The return of Cardinal and Delorme (see THE DELICATE STORM AND FORTY WORDS FOR SORROW) bluntly means a great time for police procedural fans. Their latest entry is as terrific as usual starting from the moment Red enters the remote local's bar, through a medical procedure to remove the bullet, and continuing as the two detectives know that she is a target, but to insure her safety may have to us her as bait. The motive for the attempted killing will chill the audience much more than winter in Ontario as it is based on real cult murders on the Mexican-United States border. BLACK FLY SEASON is a complex chiller that will shake the audience with its art imitates life premise.

Hitler's Peace
Philip Kerr
ISBN: 0399152695 $26.95, 464 pp.

In 1943, the leaders of the Third Reich conclude that they cannot win the war against the allied forces. Hitler wants to negotiate a peace different from the first World War in which Germany is left with dignity; Roosevelt demands unconditional surrender. Various plans offered by the Germans to the American fail to convince the President that the Russians will turn against the allies when the Communists feel the time is right. Philosopher Willard Meyer works for OSS as a German analyst when Roosevelt selects him to scrutinize the Third Reich allegations against the Russians. Once a diehard communist who spied for the Russians against the Germans, Willard is now a super American patriot, who plans to learn the truth about reported German-Russian atrocities. Meanwhile German patriotic General Schellenberg plans to kill The Allies leaders in order to save the hinterland from further destruction in a losing cause. Philip Kerr returns to World War II Germany, the setting where his stupendous Berlin Noir trilogy took place, with an exciting heart pumping alternate history based on allied and axis leaders making different decisions at key moments. Interestingly General Schellenberg and Willard Meyer share a similar zealousness for their respective country, willing to kill or die if necessary for their homeland. There is plenty of action in this exciting thriller, but the characters, real and fictional, drive the plot into a believable what if scenario told by altering perspectives.

Broken Prey
John Sandford
ISBN 0399152725 $26.95, 400 pp.

The first body that of Angela Larson was found in a posed position, her body scourged, her neck sliced open, and ligature marks on her hands. The second corpse Adam Rice is found in the same manner with his young son killed as an afterthought. Lucas Davenport, who was at both crime scenes, concludes that the same person did the killings. When the news leaks to the media, parole officer Mark Fox Calls Davenport and tells him he thinks his parolee Charlie Pope, who was just released from St. John's mental institution for raping and strangling a woman was the perpetrator. Charlie is nowhere to be found. His trailer is deserted, he failed to show up for his job and the electronic surveillance bracelet he was forced to wear was cut open. He gets in contact with newspaper reporter Russell Ignace of the Star Tribune and tells him that he has a third victim that he will kill next. When Lucas learns of this, he leads a massive search to find the perpetrator but he is too late. Now Lucas really is determined to do whatever it takes to find and cage the killer. John Sandford writes the best police procedurals on the market today. The killer is playing a diabolical game, constantly shifting the evidence so it falls on the wrong person and Lucas doesn't catch on to the scheme until three innocent lives are lost. Even when he figured out what is happening, there is so many viable suspects that he and the readers will find it near impossible to identify of the killer. This who-done-it is one of the best Lucas Davenport tales in this long running series.

Last Witness
Jilliane Hoffman
ISBN 0399152458 $24.95, 368 pp.

It has been almost three years since a serial killer terrorized the citizens of Miami and it was largely due the brilliant prosecution of assistant state attorney C.J. Townsend that William Rupert Bantling was found guilty and sentenced to the death penalty. An anonymous telephone call had a police officer stop his car and open Bantling's trunk where the cop found the body inside. They had enough cause to get a warrant to search his home where plenty of evidence from his other fourteen victims was also found. C.J. knew going in that the officer didn't have probable cause to search the car but she wanted to try him and find Bantling guilty because he raped her continuously for four hours. Everyone who knew about the tainted evidence entered into a conspiracy of silence but now there is a new serial killer operating in the Miami area and his victims are linked to the trial of William Rupert Bantling which means C.J. is in danger. Jillian Hoffman's thriller is on a par with the works of Patricia Cornwell, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg and Barbara Parker. C.J. has never gotten over the assault and rape that occurred three years ago and it is affecting her relationship with Special Agent Dominick Falconetti of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It takes the protagonist a while to figure out what is happening but she lacks the evidence and doesn't have a clue who is behind the murders. LAST WITNESS chillingly demonstrates what is wrong within the justice system.

Dreams of Stardust
Lynn Kurland
ISBN: 0515139483 $7.99

Doing his cheap father a favor was the first mistake, but Jackson Kilchurn IV delivers the papers to Gideon Piaget of Artane Enterprises, but not before being mugged in the parking lot. Jake's bad day turns worse when Gideon informs him he will need to obtain the signature of his father at Artane. Already feeling a weird deja vu pull by the castle and somewhat excited that he will see a jewelry vault as he designs and creates jewelry, Jake reluctantly agrees. Near Artane Castle, Jake has an accident. Jake regains consciousness in a dungeon. Adjusting to his circumstances, he persuades his hosts, the dePiagets that he was mugged, but gets a bigger shock to learn that somehow he was knocked out in 2005 but awakened in 1227. Meanwhile Amanda dePiaget must select a spouse. She finds Jake whose fashion is odd and his beliefs weird refreshing especially since he seems oblivious to her wealth. Jake falls in love with Amanda, but realizes he offers nothing to her unless he returns to the twenty-first century to pick up his gold and then somehow comes back to his beloved. DREAMS OF STARDUST is a terrific time travel romance that readers will appreciate due to the likable lead couple. The story line insures fans will believe that Jake went back in time because of his struggles to adjust to the era yet his ability to accept his lot. Having the hero wearing strange modern clothing and spouting odd social and philosophical notions stun his hosts and excite his beloved add to the feel that he is out of time (literally and figuratively). Lynn Kurland provides a fine tale that proves she is a skilled timekeeper.

The Girlfriend Curse
Valerie Frankel
ISBN: 0060725540 $12.95, 292 pp.

Peg Silver is tired of finding men, getting them interested in marriage, and having them wed someone else as her last boyfriend Paul Tester, her seventh failure in less than a decade, just did. She concludes that she needs a full body lifestyle makeover, starting with a change of scenery as she is sick of someone else gaining the fruits of her labors. Peg decides it is time to leave the asphalt jungle of New York where she has resided for her entire thirty two years of living and rusticate elsewhere, just not the burbs because that would be too much of a fall. During the grueling seven hour train trek to White River Junction, Vermont, Peg receives an accidental poke in the eye when she tried to be Good Samaritan and then meets womanizing Ray Quick who climbed on board in Hartford. She decides to delay her search for an organic male to join him at the Inward Bound retreat In Manshire, Vermont where he is going to attend a seminar on curing neurotic dating patterns. At the retreat, Peg finds herself still attracted to Ray, but also pulled towards the facilitator Linus Bester. THE GIRLFRIEND CURSE is a strong chick lit tale that focuses deeply on relationships mostly through Peg's troubles paraphrasing her thoughts that she can make men come, but not stay. The deep cast turns the tale into a powerful insightful look at why relationships work or fail. Peg is gold as the center of the novel while her two male competitors bring out the best and worst in her. Relationship drama readers will receive immense pleasure from this perceptive contemporary fiction novel.

Return of the Warrior
Kinley MacGregor
ISBN: 0060565438 $6.99, 384 pp.

In the Kingdom of Taagaria, Queen Adara worries that the neighboring monarchy Elgedera, ruled by the Regent Selwyn, will force her to acknowledge that his nephew her spouse Prince Christian is dead and she must marry his son Basilli. Desperate she needs her spouse and demand he either come home to rule over both lands, make her pregnant or allow her to divorce him and marry someone else. Adara's cousin Thera agrees to pretend to be her temporarily. A few months later, a naked Adara meets Christian in England hoping to claim him as hers. Although tempted, he rejects her, but is shocked when she proves they were married as children. She pleads with him that she needs him to secure her country's borders from his uncle and cousin and that his uncle killed Christian's parents and left him for dead in the monastery. After a few attempts on their lives, Christian concludes he must take Adara home and become king, but not stay or begat a child into this dangerous ugly world. She has the Europe crossing to persuade him that love beautifies the world. The second Brotherhood historical novel (see A DARK CHAMPION) is an engaging medieval romance starring a strong lead couple and ably supported by a solid secondary cast especially the mysterious Phantom and the Fool. Although the villains fail to live up to their reputation and it is doubtful that so many foreign soldiers could wander England without an alarm being raised, the story line grips the reader as danger accompanies the crossing. Fans will take immense delight with RETURN OF THE WARRIOR and want Phantom's tale soonest.

The Seduction of an English Scoundrel
Jillian Hunter
ISBN: 0345461215 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1814 London, Nigel Boscastle jilts his bride Jane Welsham who stands stoic at the altar by herself. As Nigel's cousin, host Grayson Sedgecroft knows he must do something to make this right as he admires Jane's butt that he has had a delightful look at for hours and her strength of character. Grayson offers his sympathy to Jane who knows that Nigel has eloped with his governess Esther. Grayson vows to make this right. While he sends his brother Heath to find the hiding groom, Grayson vows to make Jane acceptable in polite society by escorting her around town and fake a courtship so that others will follow his example. Still he cannot resist kissing her and both lose some control. Grayson begins escorting Jane not just because of noble intentions as he finds her intelligent and desirable. She reciprocates but worries once he learns the truth of her involvement with her fiance's elopement. The cast of this fine Regency make for a delightful romance as the lead couple is a strong duo and the superb support characters, mostly their respective families, bring depth and insight to the protagonists as well as fun to the tale. To Jillian Hunter's credit, the entertaining story line contains no phony pretensions of late suspense, but instead satirizes that technique. More information about Esther would have clarified her age as she seems much older than he since she was his governess. Still that is minor while THE SEDUCTION OF AN ENGLISH SCOUNDREL is a straightforward pleasant story.

One Night of Sin
Gaelen Foley
ISBN: 0345480090 $6.99

In 1817 London half Russian half English Earl Prince Kurkov sends four of his best Cossack soldiers to capture his cousin Rebecca Ward before she can reach her late grandfather's friend and political adversary the Duke of Westland. Becky watched Kurkov kill in cold blood, has learned about his anti-Tsar plot, and knows he plans to use and abuse her. After four days of little to eat and no rest, Becky reaches London with the Cossacks closing in on her. A storm sends her seeking shelter under the portico of Lord Draxinger's home where she falls asleep. Drax and three friends, Rush, Fort, and Alec Knight arrive for a night of cards when they see her and assumes she is a whore. Rush tries for a kiss but takes a knee in the family jewels; Drax follows but receives an elbow knocking out a tooth. Becky flees, but Alec pursues her. He persuades her to come to his home where they make love. The next morning she leaves and he realizes she was a virgin. He follows her and soon kills two Cossacks attacking her. As they struggle to stay alive and raise the alarm about the anti-Tsar plot, they fall in love. ONE NIGHT OF SIN is a tense romantic suspense thriller that brings to life an interesting historical footnote, England's adulation of Tsarist Russia following the Napoleonic Wars. The characters make for a fine story line with the lead couple's inability to compete with Kurkov's charm to sell himself to Westland (and his daughter). Fans will enjoy this fine Regency that would be folly not to read.

Joan Brady
ISBN: 0743270088 $24.95, 376 pp.

In Springfield, Illinois, someone murders blind lawyer Hugh Freyl in his firm's law library. The police suspect former con David Marion as the killer though motive seems elusive except for his having been convicted for killing his abusive foster-father and foster brother as a teen; Hugh got David freed from incarceration. In fact adulation would be more apropos; besides with the help of his assistant Stephanie Willis getting the inner city young man freed, he mentored David over the objections of his socially conscious upper crust family led by the apt conducting of his mother. However, David has an iron clad alibi that proves he could not have killed his teacher though the victim's mother harangues the police and local politicians to arrest him as her son's killer. Knowing that the cops still will not look much beyond him, David and Stephanie begin to investigate Hugh's brutal murder starting with some seemingly financial wrongdoings at the law firm. Suspects with motives appear all over the city, but who would turn to murder remains difficult to solve. The insightful description of David's time in prison starting at fifteen will have even compassionate conservatives screaming for reform as Joan Brady makes no pretensions on where she stands on the subject. David and Stephanie are fabulous lead protagonists; through them and the victim's mom a complete picure though sharp differences rise of Hugh comes into focus. Though much of Springfield to include the shrilling mommy dearest, the police, and the scions of society seem one dimensional, the amateur sleuth investigation conducted by two strong characters into the life of another well drawn player provide a fabulous who-done-it with a deep message.

Fatal Flaw
Ginna Gray
ISBN: 0778321657 $6.99, 379 pp.

In Mears, two recent murders of women have caused some growing apprehension amongst the townsfolk. A third killing occurs, but this time a witness Alfred Denner saw the woman shot as she raced to his pickup truck. The media and the politicians get all over law enforcement to solve the case to stop an apparent serial killer and a task force is formed to stop him or her. Meanwhile Lieutenant Bradshaw of the Mears Police Department assigns Detective Casey O'Toole to lead its inquiries into the three female homicides while working closely with the task force. Soon Casey and her partner Broncos former linebacker Dennis Shannon link the dead trio to plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Adams. Initially the prime suspect, he is taken off the list, but still the killings and any future murders somehow focus on him as does Casey's heart. FATAL FLAW is more a police procedural with a romantic subplot than a romantic suspense. Ginna Gray provides fantastic insight into a law enforcement investigation especially through the efforts of strong characters Casey and Dennis. The attraction between Mark and Casey is deftly handled so that this subplot enhances rather than interferes with the serial killer investigation. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this exhilarating thriller.

Double Down
Tess Hudson
ISBN: 0778321789 $12.95, 304 pp.

Having learned to double down before she knew her times table, Skye McNally grew up in a bookie's household as her father was and still is one of New York's leading bet takers. Skye resides in Vegas where she tries go straight (not a poker hand) by joining Gambler's Anonymous. However, the casino siren calls for her so she falls off the wagon until she decides to flee into the nearby Nevada desert where no cards, dice, wheels, or slots can tempt her. In the seemingly middle of nowhere trying to detox off of gambling, Skye meets New York Mustangs superstar quarterback Mark Shannon who vanished recently. The duo share a royal straight flush and fall in love, but his handlers have a million dollar item in the Big Apple's Golden Boy and they will never allow a bookie's tainted daughter to devastate that image. DOUBLE DOWN is an interesting look at gambling addiction starring a likable female protagonist. Skye drives the intriguing story line with her need to wager seemingly part of her DNA make-up although some of it is obviously caused by nurturing. Her need will remind readers of Altman's California Split with the two compulsive gamblers never satiated even with the big score. Once her addictive personality decides to bet that Mark is her sure thing big score, no one will stop her pursuit of him except if he punts her out of his life as his advisors insist he must.

Runaway Mistress
Robyn Carr
ISBN: 0778321746 $6.99, 384 pp.

Wealthy Nick Noble takes his mistress Jennifer Chase with him to Las Vegas. Jennifer enjoys her stay until she overhears a fight between Nick and his wife Barbara who is irate that he chose his whore over his spouse. Jennifer sneaks away for a couple of hours, but returns in time to overhear Nick tell his men to take care of the bimbo. She sees blood all over the place and Barbara's corpse. Jennifer flees Vegas, cuts off all her hair, flushes her colored contacts down the toilet, and changes into army surplus. Jennifer stops in Boulder City, Nevada where she accepts a job as a waitress at a local cafe using the name of Doris Bailey. Five days later she reads a newspaper account that reports she is missing along with money and jewelry. Nick will use the cops to find her for him. As she hides, Jennifer falls in love with her next door neighbor, Las Vegas police officer Alex Nichols, who reciprocates her deep feelings. However, Nick's thugs arrive in town devastating her dreams of a picket fence, kids, and Alex. Though readers will have problems reconciling the seemingly materialistic Florida-Vegas Jennifer with the caring from the onset Boulder City Doris, fans will appreciate this tense romantic suspense as the heroine keeps looking over her shoulder. Once she realizes that she is in love, Jennifer knows she must clean up her previous life if she is going to have a future especially when her past arrives in town. Robyn Carr provides her fans with a fine tale held together by a brave heroine, whose past, present and future converge in Boulder City.

Final Justice
Jasmine Cresswell
ISBN: 0778321401 $6.99, 400 pp.

The secretive quasi government agency Unit One works on destroying criminal masterminds within the United States though they never appear in court handing over arrests to the FBI. Completing a sting, Agent Melody Beecham is shot; this upsets her partner Nick Anwar who loves her. He informs his superior he no longer wants to team up with Melody because he cannot control his emotions. That changes when suddenly someone tries to assassinate Melody several times in different locales. Many people have motives to eliminate Melody who has insured numerous criminals tasted justice. Nick defies orders and is willing to die to keep her safe, but knows they must lure the culprit out into the open with Melody as the bait, but a personal spin makes the pair more likely to meet their maker rather soon. Though some doubts about the legality of this Mission Impossible covert Unit One team lingers in the backdrop, fans of action-paced romantic suspense will appreciate this fabulous thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sting to the final altercation, but it is the lead couple who makes the plot work. The support cast, especially their boss grooming Nick as his replacement if he proves not to be a fanatic, augments the insight into the duo and enhances the scenarios. Readers will appreciate this complex tale with a final incredible spin.

Black Ice
Anne Stuart
ISBN: 0778321711 $6.99, 384 pp.

Chloe Underwood left the North Carolina Mountains to live in Paris. She scored work as a translator of children's books at Les Frere Laurent due to her promiscuous roommate Sylvia Whickham. When Sylvia has a chance to spend the weekend with wealthy sixty-seven years old Henry, she coaxes Chloe to replace her in translating English to and from French. Chloe arrives at Mirabel, which has security tighter than Fort Knox has. At the locale, Mr. Hakim leans towards sending Chloe home and several participants object to her presence speaking in Italian to hide what they say about her from her; the translator understands perfectly what they communicate, but pretends otherwise. When her clients learn that Chloe has found out that they are arms dealers, they must kill her. Her only hope of survival is one of the attendees, Bastien Toussaint, a man with at least a dozen identities. Compromising his undercover mission that he has played at for eleven months, he flees with Chloe, but she wonders if she is safe with him as she knows her heart is not. Though why Chloe insisted on staying when her employer stated he did not need her seems off, readers will obtain plenty of pleasure from this taut romantic suspense thriller. The story line moves quickly once Chloe chooses to hide her ability to speak and comprehend Italian and never slows down until the climatic battle between Mr. Hakim's thugs and the heroine and her antiheroic champion. BLACK ICE is a tremendous thriller that showcases the skills of an author worth reading.

Peach Cobbler Murder
Joanne Fluke
ISBN: 0758201540 $22.00, 292 pp.

In Lake Eden, Minnesota, two Georgia peaches, Shawna Lee Quinn and her wealthy widowed sister Vanessa open up the Magnolia Blossom Bakery across the street from Hannah Swenson's The Cookie Jar. Because Vanessa inherited a fortune from her late elderly spouse, the siblings can afford low prices for fancy food in a chic locale that easily undercuts the competition. Hannah is losing business rapidly and faces bankruptcy if the trend continues, which seems certain as her rivals even give away free lunches. Hannah's break occurs, though it was not what she wished for, when Shawna Lee gets killed. Everyone would have suspected Hannah murdered her competitor except that at the time of death she was at St. Peter's Catholic Church attending the wedding of her partner, Lisa Herman to Sheriff Herb Beesman. However, she notices that one of her steady dates, Mike Kingston failed to show up at the ceremony and he spent time across the street. Needing to know, Hannah investigates the murder of Shawna Lee. The latest gourmet delight baked by Joanne Fluke is a fine amateur sleuth tale that provides an interesting look at market forces when wealth can force a mom and pop operation out of business. Though why Hannah had to investigate a murder seems inane and she resolves red herrings too quickly, PEACH COBBLER MURDER is a fun entry as the heroine leaves the bakery following the bread crumbs. As is always the case with a Ms. Fluke culinary mystery, don't read it on an empty stomach; you will gain ten pounds just by perusing the tasty recipes. Ms. Fluke's fine tale is feisty and fun.

Sullivan's Justice
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
ISBN 0758206194 $24.00, 325 pp.

Ventura County probation officer Carolyn Sullivan has an uncanny knack for getting prisoners to confess to her whey they won't speak to anyone else. She uses what they say to insure the judge gives them the maximum amount of prison time. Her latest subject is Raphael Moreno who was convicted of second degree murder in the deaths of his mother, sister and a family of five, one of which was a six month old baby. She plans to talk to him but her boss conducts the interview instead and winds up hospitalized. Carolyn gets sidetracked by her brother Neil, who saw the body of Laurel the woman he loves and planned to marry floating in his pool. The police think he killed her by lethal injection but Carolyn knows he couldn't hurt anyone. Another woman in the neighborhood was also killed by the lethal injection containing the same chemicals used to kill Laurel. When tests are done on her brother's car, blood is found that matches that of Raphael Moreno. The police want to find the link between the two men and ask Carolyn to talk Moreno again, a situation that almost leads too costing the probation officer her life. There are many mystery and thriller writers that this reviewer admires for the work they produce with Nancy Taylor Rosenberg at the top of the must read list. Her latest tale is superb. There is plenty of action, the storyline is fast paced and there are enough suspects that readers have a good time wondering who the killer might be including considering the sibling. The heroine, who first appeared in SULLIVAN'S LAW, is a valiant warrior in the fight against crime.

Hello Gorgeous
MaryJanice Davidson
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758208049 $14.00

Nine days apparently have passed since Minneapolis hair salon owner Caitlyn James tragically died in Florida on her twenty-fourth birthday in a limousine crash. However, the heavenly afterlife is not someone doing her hair, but a top secret government agency brings her back to life using nanotechnology to turn her into a cyborg. Caitlyn is okay with being a borg just as long as she can get back to running her salon, however her "saviors" have other plans for her to complete first. Someone is killing the egghead geeks. They demand that Caitlyn use her new superhuman bionic powers to uncover the identity of the serial killer and stop him preferably by bringing the rogue to the agency. The prime suspect is the other cyborg loose on an unsuspecting populace, Dmitri known as "Wolf". Ironically Wolf believes Caitlyn is the killer who he must stop. When they meet they suspect one another, but also are incredibly attracted to one another. MaryJanice Davidson's unique brand of zaniness makes this science fiction romance a must read for fans who appreciate a humorous out of this world tale. The story line is fast-paced and filled with zingers, but both cyborgs seem genuine and the serial killer who-done-it is cleverly devised to provide a fun mystery as well as a means to keep the distrust level high between the lead couple. Though the relationship between the cyborgs seems a bit on the nano side, readers will appreciate Ms. Davidson's not so subtle response to a boomer nostalgia question: what would happen if the bionic woman and the six million dollar man mated? Now we just need to know whether their offspring is an android or human.

Murder in the Hamptons
Amy Garvey
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758210418 $14.00. 288 pp.

Manhattan designer Maggie Harding accompanies her friend Lucy at a Hollywood stars gala at Paige Redmond's Hampton Estate. However, her stomach turns upside down when she sees Tyler at the event. Five years following her boyfriend "Terrible Tom" ending their relationship via voice mail she met Tyler in the Keys; they exchanged first names and had three incredible one-night-stands before Maggie fled in the morning light. Tyler has looked for her ever since. Maggie hopes to sneak away as she fears how deep Tyler touched her then and how much she wants him now. Tyler plans to never let her go as he knows she is the one. She tries to slip back to Manhattan, but a corpse on the lawn has led to the proverbial don't leave town by the police. While Maggie concludes she must uncover the killer to escape from Tyler, he mounts a campaign to win her heart. This is a fun amateur sleuth romance starring a likable hero who knows who he wants for life and a confused chick lit like individual who sees solving the case as her escape from her heart. Converging on Maggie, the two subplots keep the reader entertained as Tyler pursues a running away Maggie while she chases after the killer. MURDER IN THE HAMPTONS is a fine tale.

I Hunger for You
Susan Sizemore
ISBN: 0743467442 $6.99, 336 pp.

Los Angeles SWAT leader Colin Foxe gets ready to lead his team on an assault to free hostages when he receives a mental message that one of the victims is angry. He telepathically tells her to stay calm; she replies that she is. As his team charges into the room, freelance writer Mia "Karate Kid" Luchese has already overcome the criminals. Colin and Mia argue over safety. Six months later, Colin, a Prime of Clan Reynard vampire, thirsts for Mia and even follows her at night. This evening he intercedes when the rival Tribe vampire attacks her. Afterward, he admits he is a vampire and she confesses that she comes from a long line of vampire hunters. As they fall in love, they must overcome their respective heritages and a deadly threat from the brazen Tribe vampire colony. Susan Sizemore will make readers believe that colonies of vampires thrive amongst us mortals with her delightful supernatural romance I HUNGER FOR YOU. The relationship between Colin and Mia is wonderful to follow as the alpha vampiric male struggles with his feelings for the independent mortal female. There ancestry adds a Romeo and Juliet twist to the mix. Vampire romance readers will hunger for more works like this one and the previous thrillers like I THIRST FOR YOU and I BURN FOR YOU from Ms. Sizemore.

Blue Mercy
Illona Haus
ISBN 0743458087 $6.99, 384 pp.

Fourteen months ago, Homicide Detective Kay Delaney and her partner Spence knocked on the door of Bernard Eales' home to question him in the deaths of three prostitutes. When he opened the door, he is high on meth and beats Kay so badly he puts her in the hospital and gets her gun and kills Spence. There is evidence in his home that place all three women there but he tells the police that he doesn't remember killing them because he has blackouts. He is in a state prison awaiting trial and Kay has finally returned to duty when she catches a call about a woman dying in a fire. This woman is the witness Kay found and befriended who saw Bernard dump one of the dead prostitutes. On her chest is the same carvings as the other three victims. Everyone but Kay thinks it's a copycat killing but when two more deaths occur in the same manner as all the previous murders, Kay convinces her new partner Finn that either Bernie had an accomplice or another man killed the prostitute. When Bernie learns about this, he confesses to the first three killings making Kay wonder who he is trying to protect. Think Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, Christine McGuire and Leslie Glass and readers will have some idea just how good BLUE MERCY really is. There is plenty of action in this novel but embedded in the storyline is the heroine's recovery after a brutal physical and emotional trauma. There are many suspects that Kay and Finn figure could be the perpetrator but they have absolutely no evidence linking anyone to the killings. Readers will want to read more Kay police procedurals in future books.

Close to You
Christina Dodd
ISBN: 074345619X $6.99, 400 pp.

Marilyn and Skeeter Montgomery are elated to adopt the ten month old Caitlin. However, both have doubts about the man handling the deal, Pastor Wright and his adoption agency. Still Marilyn calls her new daughter Kate so as not to confuse the toddler and she is nurtured in love. Twenty-three years later Kate Montgomery reports on the air from Galveston on a hurricane when Evelyn, wife of State Senator George Oberlin, recognizes her as Lana Prescott dead for over two decades. Not long afterward the TV reporter gets a job at KTTV in Austin where she meets George, who is very nice to her. When someone tries to run her off the road, her station hires Teague Ramos to keep her safe. As they become acquainted with each other, they fall in love even while her biological siblings, Hope (see JUST THE WAY YOU ARE), Pepper (see ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE), and Gabriel continue to search for baby Caitlin and also try to uncover the identity of the person who murdered their biological parents twenty-three years ago. Christina Dodd closes her delightful Prescott trilogy with a terrific romantic suspense that answers all the questions from the previous two tales. The story line is action-packed and fast-paced as the culprit will not allow Caitlin or her siblings to learn the truth. The reuniting of the Prescott brood adds a touch of sentimentality that is handled deftly and allows the novel to include a touch of a homecoming with the return of Hope, Pepper, and Zack. However, it is the two plus decade old murder mystery with an eerie chance of reoccurring that makes this a strong intrigue.

Exes and Ohs
Beth Kendrick
ISBN: 0743470354 $13.00, 320 pp.

Six months ago following the wedding rehearsal dinner, Dr. Dennis Schell informed his fiancee child psychologist Dr. Gwen Traynor that he "needs Lisa". Though hurt by the jilting, Gwen has moved on and has since met Alex Coughlin, a new trustee on the children's clinic board at the mental health clinic where she works. Gwen and Alex start seeing one another and begin to fall in love. However, her newest child client Leo is the son of soap opera actress Harmony, who dated Alex at one time. Leo turns out to be Alex's son that he never knew he had. Gwen backs out of the relationship so that Harmony can reestablish one with her son's biological father. However, Leo and Harmony turn to Gwen to help them with Alex. This is a fabulous relationship comedic-drama that will grip the audience the moment that Alex recognizes "Gwen Taylor" and never slows down until the final Elvis consideration. The story line contains a multitude of complex relationships to include the foursome mentioned above and the delightful best friend Cesca (whose Aretha rendition of R-E-B-O-U-N-D is a classic example of irony); yet somehow Beth Kendrick keeps them consistent and personalities unswerving. Part satire mixed with a serious message, fans will give "A" to the sharp EXES AND OHS.

Crime Trade
Simon Kernick
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312340591 $24.95

Stegs Jenner and Paul Vokerman are undercover cops working a drug deal near Heathrow with the Colombians. Stegs steps out promising to return within ten minutes while Vokes nervously waits with two of the Cali Cartel when they receive a call. Without a reply to the caller, Manuel "Manolo" Lopez executes Vokes. Stegs returns in time for the police to attack. Others die as all hell breaks loose in the final phase of Operation Surgical Strike. Nearby at about the same time, the informant who set up the deal Slim Robbie and his mother are murdered. DI John Gallan and his partner WDS Tina Boyd lead the inquiries and quickly find out that DCS Noel Flanagan who headed the police sting blames Stegs for the fiasco. Stegs is angry over the death of his partner and needs to avenge Vokes' death while Gallan and Boyd try to learn what went wrong and how to rein in the loose cannon before Stegs causes a third deadly incident. The return of Detective Inspector Gallan and several of his cronies is always a thrill for British police procedural fans, but his third appearance is his best yet (see the BUSINESS OF DYING and THE MURDER EXCHANGE). The story line predominantly moves on two major subplots that follow the actions of either Gallan or Stegs. Interestingly, Gallan provides a first hand account of what is going on so the audience sees behind the scenes of the police investigation; on the other hand Stegs stars in a third person account, which leaves readers to wonder which side is he really on. This duality works tremendously as Simon Kernick provides a fabulous exciting thriller.

36 Yalta Boulevard
Olen Steinhauer
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312332017 $23.95, 320 pp.

In 1966, Major Brano Sev is sent from his Communist nation to Vienna to uncover Code Name Gavrilo, a traitor leaking information to the West. However, the State Security Officer, who has replaced the murdered Kristina Urben, wakes up with amnesia in a park. He learns that the mission was accomplished, but upon disembarking the plane he is arrested for turning traitor too as his assistant Lochert painted quite a spin on what really happened in Vienna. Brano lives due to the interactions of his former superior, Colonel Cerny. After six months in a factory, Cerny assigns Brano to visit his hometown of Bobrka to interrogate a possible defector Jan Soroka. Welcomed home by his mother, but no one else as everyone knows what he does for a living, Brano becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Jacob Bieneck. He does little to defend himself against the frame as he assumes this is his cover to enable him to learn the truth. Instead he finds himself back in Vienna wondering who besides Lochert betrayed him and why, but he believes that it is probably too late to prove he did not commit homicide. This Cold War espionage thriller will remind the audience of the early works of LeCarre although the key protagonist is an Eastern block spy. Brano is a terrific protagonist as he follows orders to such a degree that he jeopardizes himself as he never considered that he was being set up until his forced return to Vienna in spite of Lochert's devastating misinformation campaign. Olen Steinhauer writes another fantastic tale. If you have not read him you are missing quite a suspense treat (see THE CONFESSION and BRIDGE OF SIGHS).

The Borgia Bride
Jeanne Kalogridis
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312341385 $14.95, 544 pp.

Seventeen years old Princess Sancha de Aragon, the illegitimate daughter of Naples King Alfonso II, is forced to marry into the powerful Borgia family to Jofre, a man younger than her. As such she leaves her home to live in the Vatican where Jofre's father is Pope Alexander VI. However, she is shocked to observe the depravity of the papal court including her new spouse who beds women including several at the same time with an insatiable lust yet ignores his new bride. Stunned and disillusioned Sancha befriends first Jofre's sister Lucrezia and then his older brother, the seemingly caring Cesare. Not knowing yet how Lucrezia eliminates anyone interested in her brother Cesare, they have an affair until she concludes he is as debauched as his father and two siblings. With nothing to lose as life is worthless in the Borgia pit, Sancha vows to destroy her spouse and in-laws before they obliterate her loved ones back in Naples. This Borgia era historical fiction is an insightful look at late fifteenth century politics mostly in Rome and the Vatican, but somewhat in Napes that makes the Congressional ethics questions of Congress seem like an elementary school spitball fight. The story line brings to life real persona in which the depraved Borgia brood was violent predators. Fans of Roberta Gellis especially her work LUCREZIA BORGIA AND THE MOTHER OF POISONS will appreciate this powerful historically detailed novel.

Still Rover
Harry Hunsicker
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312337876 $23.95

In Dallas, Vera Drinkwater visits her friend from high school former Special Forces soldier turned sleuth Lee Henry Oswald III to hire him to investigate what happened to her half brother Charles Wesson, who vanished less than twenty-four hours ago. Hank, as the private investigator prefers to be called, quickly learns from his client that Charles has had a drug problem having been to detox twice. He also works at Callahan Real Estate. Though he informs Vera that her sibling probably fell off the wagon he takes the case. Hank visits his mentor Ernie Ruibal, who is in the hospital ironically dying from liver cancer. Ernie asks Hank to do him a favor by keeping an eye on his niece Nolan O'Connor who is processing papers on a nasty person tonight. Hank agrees helping Nolan succeed. She soon joins him on his case in which he has been tailed, thugs accosted him, and now threaten to kill him if he fails to back off from Wesson. Apparently Hank has the attention of South Dallas drug kingpin Coleman Dupree and his enforcer Jack the Crack. This is a strong urban noir starring an intriguing character with the wrong name for this city (sort of like A Boy Named Sue) who is a martial arts expert and not afraid to use it to defend himself or those he cares about. The story line is fast-paced as a minor case turns into a life threatening war with Hank caught in the crosshairs. Sub-genre readers will welcome Harry Hunsicker into the fold as his champion is a fabulous protagonist making the rounds of the underside of the city.

The Companion
Susan Squires
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312998538 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1818 English gentleman Ian Rufford is sailing when pirates attack his ship. He is taken to Africa as a prisoner and eventually sold to beautifully cruel Asharti, who abuses him in every sense of the word turning him into a feral animal. He eventually escapes. Elizabeth Rochewell has enjoyed working and living with her father as he leads archeological digs across Africa. However, when an over four millennium old pillar crumbled, crushed, and killed her beloved father, Elizabeth's life died too. She returns to England as a single white woman who cannot survive alone in Africa. When Ian and Beth meet on the vessel from Africa heading to England they find a commonality in Africa and a need to return as they find the aristocracy boring and suffocating with prohibitions on acceptable behavior. As they fall in love, they realize they must battle an evil that may possess Ian and threatens humanity. THE COMPANION is a fantastic Regency paranormal romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment that Ian is kidnapped and never slows down in Africa or England until the final confrontation with a malevolent vampiric villain. The story line is action-packed but the audience will feel deep empathy for Ian's plight even after he frees himself from bondage as he still has not liberated his mind and for Elizabeth who was used to total freedom assisting her dad, but now feels choked by the unfathomable rules. Susan Squires provides a terrific historical thriller with a supernatural turn that avoids an overbite when she twists the plot into the paranormal.

To the Edge
Cindy Gerard
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 031299091X $6.99, 352 pp.

In Palm Beach, Florida, renowned wealthy businessman Darin Kincaid has always feared for the safety of his TV news anchor daughter; Jillian on the other hands thinks he is overly worried but caring. Darin wants Jillian under the protection of a bodyguard twenty-four hours a day since she began receiving nasty email and phone calls but she resents the intrusion into her privacy rationalizing that a sick harmless prankster is at work. Darin hires E.D.E.N. security to protect her without telling her. His siblings Ethan, Dallas, and Eve assign their reluctant brother Nolan Garrett, former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, the job. He breaks into her high security apartment to prove she needs his services. She becomes irate with his "grandstanding" while he believes she is spoiled. As they spend time together, he realizes she is a strong intelligent person refusing to hide from her unknown stalker. Though he loves her, Nolan knows that a drunken broken soldier has no chance with a winner like Jillian; she wonders how to reach the soul of the man she loves. TO THE EDGE is a fantastic romantic suspense that moves quite nicely along two parallel paths, the attraction between the lead couple and the stalking of the villain, before converging into strong finish. Darin's siblings (who will star in their own novels in the future) and her father add depth as each in their unique way worries about one of the prime players. The relationship between the two stars is a delight to follow as their feelings evolve from loathing to admiration to love. The stalker is handled deftly throughout the plot leaving the audience with a fine opening gamut in the Kincaid siblings' saga.

Tin City
David Housewright
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312321511 $23.95, 288 pp.

In Norwood Young America, wealthy former St. Paul cop Rushmore "Mac" McKenzie's elderly neighbor Mr. Mosley tries to hand to him three dead honeybees, but Mac refuses to touch them; Mosley calls him a wimp. Mosley further explains that last year he lost a fifth of his bee population and so far this year a third. He wants Mac to determine what is killing his bees. Mac will do anything for the man who served with his dad during the Korean War except touch bees. Mac and Mosley visit the only new "neighbor" Frank Crosetti, who greets them with a shotgun. Yesterday he fired at a visiting University of Minnesota coed who was taking soils samples seeking evidence of an insecticide Sevin XLR Plus, which apparently is killing the honeybees. A "Suit" tells the two visitors they are trespassing and must leave. Not long afterward, Crosetti rapes Mac's friend Susan Tillman and threatens her daughter next if Mac fails to back off. At about the same time Mosley takes two bullets to the head. Law enforcement and friends blame Mac who finds Crosetti is gone, but not forgotten. Mac searches the dregs of the Gopher State to bring Crosetti to justice if he does not kill him first, but also wants to know the reason why all this happened. TIN CITY is an intriguing private investigator (though Mac is unlicensed) tale that will keep fans hooked yet struggling to figure out Crosetti's motive. The story line is action-packed taking off from the moment of the first visit and never slowing down as cops hunt for Mac while he hunts for Crosetti. In his second Mac mystery (see Hard Ticket Home), David Housewright provides a fabulously dark Minnesota Noir.

Resurrection Road
Kathryn R. Wall
St. Martin's Press
ISBN 0312337930 $23.95, 304 pp.

On Hilton Head Island, "Inquirey' Agent" Bay Tanner and her lover Interpol Operative Alain Darnay notice a car is following them. Darnay maneuvers it so they catch the teen and rough him up a little before bringing him to Bay's house to see why Cart Anderson was following them. They tell them he wants to know why Bay killed his father. Although Bay did not murder his dad, he was involved in a criminal scheme that went bad and he died in an accident. After they let Cart go, he fails to appear at his grandmother's house and soon a missing person's report is filed. When Cart's car is found near Fort Fremont on Land's End, they visit the area and are welcomed by Minnie Maude Bleaker, the only person who lives in the isolated area. She hints that she knows what is going on, but is found dead on her living room floor before she talks. Bay and Alain become the prime suspects in her death and Cart's disappearance. Trying to find out who is behind the effort to frame them almost costs Bay her life. RESURRECTION ROAD gives the reader a taste of what it is like living in the modern day (with especially the mint julep crowd) good ol' boy network and the migration of the Northerners. This is an excellent who-done-it with a real puzzle trying to figure out who was trying to frame the heroine and why. There are many viable suspects, including a police officer from the North so readers will find the story line totally fascinating. Kathryn R. Wall is a talented writer who is becoming a bright star in the mystery horizon.

New Mercies
Sandra Dallas
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312336195 $23.95, 320 pp.

In 1933 Nora Bondurant leaves her hometown of Denver to take over the pre-Civil War Avoca mansion that her recently murdered Aunt Amalia left her. Interestingly Nora did not know of the existence of her aunt as her parents never mentioned that her father had a sister or that she came from Natchez. Nora first learned of Amalia when a lawyer sent her a letter informing her she of her inheritance. In Natchez she learns that Amalia was killed by a courting neighbor in a murder suicide. Nora finds the change of scenery welcoming as she hides from feelings of guilt caused by her divorce from Tate and subsequent death of her ex spouse back in Denver. Simultaneously, she also feels somewhat like an outsider since no one will share much about her aunt, her lover who allegedly killed her, or their relationship. For that matter she knows little about this side of the family and no one is forthcoming with information. Still Natchez begins to feel like home due to Ezra, Aunt Polly, and others including the goats. The story line provides an intense perusal of Depression Era Mississippi especially "slaves" through the eyes of a Rocky Mountain expatriate. The murder-suicide adds interesting suspense as Nora wants to know more about her previously unknown aunt, but that takes a back seat to the deep scrutiny of 1930s Deep South relationships. Fans will cherish this powerful historical fiction and seek other works by Ms. Dallas (see THE PERSIAN PICKLE CLUB and BUSTER MIDNIGHT'S CAFE).

A Detective at Death's Door
H.R.F. Keating
ISBN: 0312342063 $23.95

Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens was sunbathing sipping a drink while her husband John Piddock was relaxing nearby when she suddenly turned icy cold and her tongue tingled before she collapsed. John, an avid Christie fan, recognized the symptoms as aconite poisoning, having just read that scenario in an Agatha tale. He reacts quickly and when Harriet next awakens she is in a hospital room, the first victim of the Birchester Poisoner. Others did not have a Christie expert nearby and died. Harriet is on sick leave recovering from her ordeal, but still tries to help Detective Superintendent Pat Murphy solve the case before more die. When the Birchester Poisoner expands his or her area of operation to London, the National Crime Squad (NCS) takes charge of the case. Though no longer welcomed, Harriet develops a profile from what knows and a letter the Birchester Poisoner sent to the media demanding one million pounds. While the NCS ignores her, Harriet, over the objections of a concerned John, conducts her own investigation. A DETECTIVE AT DEATH'S DOOR is a solid entry in the Martens British police procedural series but the focus is more on the health problems and related doubts of ever being the HARD DETECTIVE again rather than the investigation. The audience feels for the slowly recovering Harriet who must "flow" every step in normally taken for granted simple tasks that takes time away from the NCS official inquiries and the ailing sleuth's solo investigation. This also leads to questioning how Harriet could do any complex police work like profiling. Her disabling health problems make her more human, but less likely to solve the case so that readers wonder who will.

Nothing like the Night
David Lawrence
ISBN: 031232880X $24.95

Suffering from nightmares of dead babies, Detective Sergeant Stella Mooney gets the call late at night waking up her live in lover George Paterson. Stella quickly heads to West Kensington to look over the crime scene of a murdered woman. In Notting Hill Gate, Stella learns that someone murdered Janis Parker apparently over a week ago; the body was found when the downstairs neighbor felt bodily excretions leaking on him from his ceiling. Stella notices the overwhelming odor before seeing the cut up corpse that means a frenzied crime of passion or a killer toying with their victim. Janis' roommate Stephanie James is missing so Stella wonders if she is dead too. At Imago Magazine where Janis worked, Stella learns that Stephanie's boyfriend Mark Ross took a too a drunk Janis home from a party last week making him the prime suspect. However, when they find Mark dead with cuts and abrasions all over his body, Stella and her team know they are confronted with a deadly killer who seems to take immense pleasure with playing with his mice. This interesting British police procedural will grip the audience due to its terrific protagonist struggling with a nasty case and even nastier dreams from previous cases. The investigation is methodically conducted so that the audience follows the police as they sift for clues. Stella's personal life adds depth into her personality including inner turmoil and disturbances that would bring down a less person yet impacts her official inquiries. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this exceptional tale and want to read the eerie THE DEAD SIT AROUND IN A RING, David Lawrence's previous work.

Street Fight
Bill Kent
ISBN: 0312328834 $23.95, 304 pp.

In Philadelphia, Paulie Small is an accountant who knows how to move money around to get what the movers and shakers want done. He knows where all the bodies are buried as does his co-worker and lover Teal Cavaletta, who cares about the man and not his connections. One day while Paulie is outside Teal's home, he is beaten and dies at the hospital. Shep Ladderback, the obituary writer at the Philadelphia Press, wants to write an obit about Paulie, but he is met with a wall of silence. Junior reporter Andrea Cosicki tells Shep that Teal, the mother of her friend Lucia knows everything there is to know about Paulie. Before he can question her, someone beats her up and leaves her to die. While Andrea and Lucia try to find out who did this, Shep takes a different approach because he believes the murder and the beatings is linked to a fraudulent real estate venture. Their joint investigation ends in a conflagration of violence that sends two people to the hospital in critical condition and reveals the identity of the killer, a person who nobody would guess is the perpetrator. A bit slow moving at times, STREET FIGHT is a clever investigative mystery featuring two journalists, one nearing the end of his career and the other just beginning hers. The steps they take to solve the crime and get the story is logical, believable and therefore very interesting. Bill Kent is a talented writer who focuses more on characterizations than action scenes.

Four Courts Murder
Andrew Nugent
ISBN: 0312327587 $22.95, 240 pp.

The most detested person in Dublin's judicial system is Justice Sidney Piggott. Police Inspector Denis Lennon would agree that the Four Courts judge is a nasty person, but how widely disliked the man is he has no idea until someone murders His Honor. Denis heads the investigation with an assist from Sergeant Molly Power, but the list of suspects from Piggott's employment circle with motive seems like much of the city. The two cops have one potential lead; several individuals mentioned that an unknown young man hung around the courtroom while Piggott worked on a particularly minor case. No one could say who this person is or why he would want to observe a tedious trial. Could he have waited for the right moment to kill Piggott? Denis plans to find out. This is a fabulous Irish police procedural in which the audience sees different perspectives; These include those of the two cops and interestingly the negative muses of the missing man who seemingly stalked the victim and is now undecided whether he dreamed or actually killed Piggott. The story line grips the audience as the case widens beyond Dublin to the Irish countryside where another related death occurred. With a fully developed support cast enhancing the official inquirie, readers will enjoy this powerful who-done-it.

Stage Fright
Christine Poulson
ISBN: 0312340745 $22.95

While on maternity leave from Cambridge University and with her husband away handling a legal matter in Los Angeles, Professor Cassandra James meets her neighbor actress Melissa Meadows and her spouse Keith Kingleigh. Melissa and Cassandra share an affinity since both recently gave birth prematurely. Kevin is going to direct a production starring Melissa. He asks Cassandra to adapt the Victorian drama East Lynn, which she agrees to do. As opening night beckons, Cassandra notices the cast seems extra nervous. Later an anxious Melissa calls Cassandra believing that someone is stalking her. Cassandra tries to calm her down. The next day Melissa fails to appear for a rehearsal so Cassandra goes to visit her. Melissa is gone without a word, but abandoned her six month old baby that she had shown so much love. With her own fussy infant at her side, Cassandra wonders what happened to her new friend while unable to contact Stephen, dealing with the abrupt arrival of her first husband, and Detective Sergeant Vickers suspecting the professor killed the actress. STAGE FRIGHT, the second Professor James tale (see MURDER IS ACADEMIC), is a fabulous amateur sleuth mystery that builds up the suspense slowly so that the reader like the heroine suspects everyone's motives. Either foul play occurred or Melissa had played the role of a loving mother, but Cassandra cannot find a motive for either scenario while the evidence points towards her so that even the audience will believe she harmed or murdered the actress. This is a fantastic English mystery in the Christie tradition.

The New World Order
Ben Jeapes
David Fickling
ISBN: 0385750137 $15.95, 448 pp.

The civil war between the forces of Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II has devastated the countryside, but by May looks like it's nearly over with the monarch barley escaping recently with his life. However, in the middle of battle, a third force has emerged with weaponry much more powerful than that of either combatant even combined. Observing a battle, John Donder recognizes the rifle that has not been invented for another two plus centuries. The Holekhors are influencing the war on land, at sea, and for the first time fighting from the air. John having been stranded here before seeks the woman he loves and left behind years ago though he knows time and space are linear when he first fell through a portal. Now in the present of mid seventeenth century England, a late nineteenth century army led by General Dhon Do has invaded the countryside, but learning that he previously sired a child before his earlier timely departure has shocked and awed him. This is a terrific alternate history tale with a powerful science fiction cut that changes English history at a pivotal moment with time traveling aliens. The story line is action-packed, but also brings to life the reality of the era by comparing it to later weaponry and tactics and through some of the key historical figures. Though targeting a teenage crowd, Harry Turtledove fans will appreciate Ben Jeapes brilliant novel of THE NEW WORLD ORDER.

Cast of Shadows
Kevin Guilfoile
ISBN: 1400043085 $24.95

In Chicago fertility Dr. Davis Moore mourns the brutal rape and murder of his seventeen years old daughter, Anna Kat. He finds no closure when the police fail to break the case symbolized by returning his child's stuff to him. However, amongst Anna Kat's items is an inadvertently left vial of sperm that Davis knows must have come from the culprit. Though once ethical, Davis breaks the law by using the DNA of a live person to impregnate Martha Finn so that her child would provide the visage of his daughter's killer. A few years later Davis depressed wife has committed suicide while he uses software to see what the cloned child Justin will look like as an adult. He also informs his peer Joan Burton that he broke the law by using a live person's DNA. She joins him as they follow clues that lead to a Windy City serial killer the Wicker Man, but no proof that Anna Kat is one of his victims though Justin feels an affinity to this sociopath. This exhilarating medical thriller grips the audience who will wonder if Davis is looking at the face of his daughter's killer when he stares at Justin and whether he created a chip off the old block in a Frankenstein way. The story line is action-packed, but has several subplots that add suspense but seem like unnecessary detours that husks the reader away from the prime theme. Still Kevin Guilfoile cooks up an extremely exciting tale with several intriguing moral questions that would make even the Kansas AG pause before demanding information.

Bio Rescue
S.L. Viehl
ISBN 0451459784 $22.95, 311 pp.

On the planet K-2 the native life form is aquatic/amphibian humanoids but for the most part they need to stay in the water to survive. There is a war going on in the galaxy between the Alliance and the Hsktst in which a brave group of natives have become SEALS (surgically enhanced/ altered life forms); their mission is to patrol their quadrant of the galaxy to make sure the Hsktst don't return or give warning if they do. Different species of colonists live on land, the majority of which are a cult of the Skartesh whose world was destroyed by the Hskskt. Leading the Skartesh is Shan who is looked upon as a messiah by his people because they believe a sacrifice on his part will restore their home world. Dair, the half native - half human leader of the SEALS, risks her life to find thousands of Skartesh that have vanished but uncovers a conspiracy that targets a take over of all the inhabited worlds in her sector. S.L. Viehl is a terrific world builder who takes the mermaid legend and integrates it into a very serious space opera. The heroine, different since birth due to the surgeries and the human DNA in her system, is a natural leader and though people follow her into battle, xenophobics fear her and the colonists look upon her as someone who doesn't belong. She has the strength of mind to ignore their prejudices and save their lives when an enemy threatens them and in doing so finds that she belongs wherever she chooses to be. BIO RESCUE is another great work by a gifted writer.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2005
Jack Dann (editor)
ISBN: 0451460154 $15.95

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America chose what they considered the year's best that is 2004, from both genres. An interesting short introduction by the editor emphasizing we've come a long way baby sets the tone of this fine anthology. Extracts from Neil Gaiman's winning novella CORALINE and from the triumphant novel THE SPEED OF DARK by Elizabeth Moon (as is the case each year) highlight the collection. Each of the seven short story nominees including the victorious WHAT I DIDN'T SEE by Karen Joy Fowler is included. Finally the novelette winner, Jeffrey Ford's THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM and three of the four other entries are provided. Included is a well written essay honoring new Grand Master Robert Silverberg followed up by his work "Sundance". An intriguing series of essays on movements in both genres will delight fans. Finally lists of films (the winner of course is LORD OF THE RINGS) and of the Rhysling Award for SF poetry winners round out a fabulous compilation that showcases the SF and Fantasy genres.

Dead Beat
Jim Butcher
ISBN: 0451460278 $23.95, 400 pp.

Chicago's only paranormal wizard-detective listed in the phone book, Harry Dresden shares a basement apartment with vampiric half-brother Thomas, who feeds on beautiful women but never kills or turns them as Thomas is a member of the White Court. Though once literally losing her head to Harry, Mavra the vampire Black Court affiliate blackmails him through the woman he loves, Chicago Police Department Special Investigations Unit Chief Karrin Murphy. Mavra has proof that Karrin killed an evil person, which makes her act a homicide and she could face life in prison or the chair. Plus Mavra has a worse hold, some of Karrin's lush blonde hair. To not use her evidence Mavra orders Harry to find and give her The Word of Kemmler spell that will make the evil vampiress the most powerful essence in the Midwest

Harry learns from Bob the talking skull that Kemmler the malevolent necromancer caused WWI and has been killed twice by the White Court and that the Word of Kemmler is his most dangerous and deadly necromancy book. The Dresden Files is one of the best recurring detective fantasies on the market today; each of the seven novels (counting this one) has been excellent with an exciting investigation or two within a different type of Chicago. In DEAD BEAT Harry must save his beloved yet cannot provide the necromancer's handbook to the villainess. Whether he battles dead cops or has fairies clean his apartment, fans will fully enjoy this superb amusing seventh wild ride starring an excellent sarcastic character at his peak in a superior unique series.

Tale of the Thunderbolt
E.E. Knight
ISBN: 0451460189 $6.99, 341 pp.

By 2070, almost five decades of the Kurian Order has occurred since the vampiric alien Kur from the Interworld Tree and their minion (Avatars and Reapers) turned the earth and its human population into a global harvest. Reapers feed on human essences that are sent back to the Kur puppet-masters. Most human resistance has failed with harsh repercussions. Some humans, assisted by the Lifeweavers, who once lost a war against the Kur, have proven to be more successful in fighting the Kur. Especially successful has been David Valentine of the Cat spy force, who some might say is more animal than human. While in watery New Orleans, David learns of a weapon with the potential to defeat the invincible Reapers. He poses as an enemy sailor on the gunboat Valentine with a longshot plan to hijack the vessel and take it to Haiti where he hopes to obtain more information on the whereabouts of this savior weapon somewhere in the Caribbean. Reapers and Avatars are ready to kill him. Earth's savior becomes a bit distracted when he meets the beautiful Mali. Three years have passed since the events that make up the CHOICE OF THE CAT, but conditions of the inhabitants being used for human fodder have not gotten better. The Resistance in some ways is stronger, but psychologically the warriors have become weaker as the cause seems increasingly futile. That is the underlying key to TALE OF THE THUNDERBOLT, as the hero understands the importance of the weapon. Though reading the fine previous novels would provide increased understanding, E.E. Knight insures this tale stands alone as the sense of dreaded failure hangs over David, Malia, and their associates while the "Vampire Earth" becomes more in focus to the audience.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

South of Everywhere
Randolph Bridgeman
Shadow Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
ISBN 1932447377 $5.00 plus s & h 40 page chapbook

One of the pleasures I derive from reviewing is discovering new voices. Shadow Poetry chapbooks are of consistently high quality, featuring poets from around the world. Mr. Bridgeman, for example, is a widely published poet and recipient of the Edward T. Lewis Poetry Prize for most promising emerging poet. That honor is upheld by the work found in this chapbook.

Between these covers, Bridgeman muses on relationships, family, unanswered questions from his youth, the commonplace and rare. In "Junk Dealer", the poet shares a retrospective of his grandfather:

He arrived with prairie dust in
the cuffs of his overalls, with
a pocket watch to his name and
a farm boy's education.

Life during hard times must be endured by tough people. This excerpt from "Homecoming" reveals a bit about Bridgeman's father:

I loved my father for what he wasn't,
a liar,
a cheat,
a quitter.
To love him for what
he was would have been

Further thoughts of his father emerge in "The Tree":

I watched from a backyard
oak as my father's pickup slipped
into the driveway as lethal
as a knife between my ribs.

"Sister" details a stunning subject in a quietly powerful way:

I keep his hands locked in a
closet his knuckles winter stiff
scraping the curves of my emerging
breasts, trampling through the
open "Y" of my thighs,
my pulse flapping like the wings of
departing swallows.

This poet's use of metaphor added power and precision to his subjects. In "Landlady", the mundane life of one woman shines, thanks to Bridgeman's use of words. In old age she is "a woman strangled by memories." In youth, she came from her homeland and "chained herself to a husband's dreams." In her final years, "Cancer thickened in her." But true to the determination of a lifetime "She kept dying in the pocket of her frayed apron..."

In every book of poetry reviewed I have a favorite. There are many excellent poems to choose from in this chapbook, but "Abraham's Tour" -- this poet's gentle treatise on war and warriors -- was my pick. I quote one verse from this long poem:

These mountains harbor
tongueless caverns,
stone sepulchers piled
high with the bleached
bones of Jihad.

But not every poem is deadly serious. There is humor borne of love in "Love Poems":

In writing your love poems
please remind me of your
hair pin on our crumpled bed
sheets, the one that stabbed
me in the ass.

Randolph Bridgeman has moved beyond being a promising emerging poet. He's emerged.

Joseph Kanon
Henry Holt and Company
115 West 18th Street, New York NY 10011
ISBN 080507886X $26.00 416 pages

Joseph Kanon is the best selling author of Los Alamos and The Good German. Critics have compared his writing style to le Carre, Greene, and Orwell, but I found Kanon's prose to be more provocative and accessible.

Adam Miller is weary of his work. As a U.S. Army war crimes investigator in post war Germany, he's systematically separated the truly evil Nazis from citizens who merely closed their eyes to fanaticism gone beyond their control. When his tour of duty ends in 1946, Adam visits his widowed mother in Venice. She has returned to familiar surroundings in hopes of being happy again. Venice initially appears to be untouched by the war, but destruction takes many forms. Bombed out buildings are not always the worst aftermath of war.

At first, Adam is at loose ends. Memories of death camps leave him sleepless and disoriented. He wanders the canals and alleyways in hopes the city's beauty will provide solace or at least energize his spirit. His mother is engaged to Dr. Gianni Maglione, a betrothal he suspects is for her money. Old family friend Bertie Howard practices a forced gaiety, which Adam finds improbable. A wintry Venice with its cold rains and creeping fogs depresses Adam, until he meets Claudia Grassini. Making love in secret, seedy hideaways brings delight at first, a fleeting comfort as awful truths unravel. Wherever Adam turns, nothing is as it appears to be.

People do things to survive they wouldn't consider under normal circumstances. They bend, ignore, pretend. And no one has perfected the art of surviving better than those who live in Venice. Adam suspects Dr. Maglione may be more than a fortune hunter. He may be a Nazi sympathizer, or worse. And Claudia has her own secrets to protect. One unexpected act of violence smothers passion until remaining lovers becomes nothing more than an airtight alibi for Claudia and Adam.

Kanon's writing style is personable and seductive. His characters are real and human, fully developed. Venice becomes a living entity and the winter weather a chilling accomplice to tragedy because Joseph Kanon is a skillful wordsmith. Established fans will enthusiastically embrace Alibi. Readers not familiar with Kanon's work should be converted rapidly to devotees.

Artificial Lure
Clayton A. Couch
Effing Press
703 W. 11th Street #2, Austin TX 78701
No ISBN $5.00 40 page chapbook

Artificial Lure is my first experience with speculative and experimental poetry and Effing Press. The chapbook itself is well-presented, printed on high quality paper utilizing clear fonts. Cover art and interior illustrations by Janice M. Bostok enhance the mystique of Couch's poetry.

At first glance, my initial impression was Couch's penchant for fragments, snatches of thoughts that on the surface follow a flight of ideas pattern. "Restaurant" details random thoughts, sights, memories that are obscure at first, then form a concrete whole with these lines:

...I've no more thoughts that have not been reduced to imps
today my self is a golem lost without commands where's the alchemist

"Sentenced Fragments" reveals a similar pattern with words and bits of thoughts that come together in a flow of orchestrated movement towards the payload:

with this wring you tie a knot
..........I can't have you sleeping here now

"Cause and Effect" is a more conventional free form poem with it's own internal rhythm:

What brings us closer is the lack of story,
which is indicative of some infernal character
flaw, don't you think? You think, perhaps event
following event is off limits. That which grows
from tilled soil will surely prosper, or at least
present the illusion of prosperity. This trick
is not lost on trees with malnourished branches.

Couch skillfully inserts lines ripe with metaphorical images. I quote lines here from several poems:

...a coliseum paranoid with bruised dialogue.
...bold pavenents ridicule branches
...spring proves to be a topographic talisman
...Couldn't ovoid be perfect flex of cube?

I often read poetry out loud while contemplating my reviews. Couch uses sounds in cunning ways for those, like me, who appreciate such nuances. I quote here several random lines from two poems, where he repeats certain letters and sounds to interesting effect:

...where Catullus at last gets his lines...
...That old pretense of putting phrases...
...Stopped up sensory deception...
...of bone-lovin' cannibalistic tourists in Kennebunkport.
...another sol solar system seventy some light years far away

The wonder and intrigue of poetry is that it can become whatever the wordsmith wishes or imagines. In Artificial Lure, readers are allowed to wander, slowly meander, or race from line to line, carried along by Couch's words. Those familiar with experimental poetry may already appreciate the work of Clayton A. Couch. Novices, like me, can expand their poetical horizons, beginning with this chapbook.

Happy: a Molding Series CD -- #1
Bob Watkins, Terry Thomas, Eric Watkins, John Wheeler and Friends
Eric Watson -- Molding Music
c/o George Carpenter
5451 Socialville-Foster Rd., Mason OH 45040
Purchase ID -- M-001, $10.00 plus s & h, 11 Tracks

Happy is the first in a series of CDs that have a long and interesting history. Bob Watkins and Terry Thomas were members of the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, a band that had a huge following in Europe. One Wheelies song, "Groove Me", was featured as background on HBO's hit series The Sopranos. When the Wheelies disbanded, Bob and Eric Watkins, along with talented family members and friends, continued to revise and perfect the Molding series. This is an accomplished and diverse group of song writers, musicians and vocalists, equally adept at raunchy rock and roll, bluegrass, jazz, or tender ballads. Turn up the volume and hang on tight because the sound quality is awesome!

Happy is a CD rich with surprises. "Rock and Roll", for example, features hard core rock and roll coupled with tenderly rendered vocals. "Dragon Park" is fun, whimsical, but punctuated with a bluesy harmonica that is in turn plaintive or cheerful. "Of Solar Squash" is a Klyd Watkins poem spoken and sung to a penetrating rock back beat and psychedelic-sounding accompaniment. "Jason Lafarge" with its delightful vocals features bluegrasss fiddles and a penetrating rock sound. The afore mentioned "Groove Me" is haunting, dangerous, and stylishly sexy. And "The Adventures of You and Suzie" is a funky meringe tune that is both entertaining and pleasing to the ears. There are two versions of "The Scratch Sympathy Waltz." The second with its down home bluegrass sound and gentle vocals was my favorite.

Each track has a distinctive sound, thanks to imaginative instrumentals, vocals, and arrangements. Each song tells a story worth hearing This group of musicians out of Tennessee deserves an enthusiastic and devoted following. Are you listening Nashville?

In Dahlia's Wake
Yona Zeldis McDonough
Doubleday -- a division of Random House
ISBN 0385503628 $23.95 304 pages

Prose crafted with intelligence, intensity, and a distinct syle set this novel apart from page one. Personally, I couldn't draw comparisons to other authors while reading this fine work because McDonough's voice is purely her own. In Dahlia's Wake unfolds through the eyes, thoughts, and hearts of each individual character. Line by line, chapter by chapter, through each intimate moment, I lived this memorable story.

Dahlia Wechsler is a child of willful spirit and fiercely expressed emotions. She is the only child of Rick and Naomi Wechsler, the only child Naomi was able to carry full term after several miscarriages. Dahlia is adored and indulged for seven years, then suddenly taken away in a bizarre accident. The void of her absence leaves both parents floundering in grief and shock.

Naomi Wechsler is self enclosed, withdrawn, coldly dissociated from an unacceptable reality. Her way of dealing with Dahlia's loss is to quit her job as a teacher and volunteer in the Pediatric ward at Holy Name of Jesus Hospital. At Holy Name she can make a positive contribution, and can think of her dead child without falling apart. Naomi needs a reason to hope again, and searches for that hope in the person of Dr. Michael McBride.

Rick Wechsler was driving when Dahlia died. He smothers sorrow in his work as a successful podiatrist. The thought or sight of children irritates him. He simply can't comprehend why his wife would volunteer at Holy Name, where Dahlia was pronounced dead. Naomi's cold withdrawal from their bed isolates him further. He's emotionally destroyed, struggling to hold onto his humanity through a torrid sexual affair with his office manager.

Dr. Michael McBride is the Head of Pediatrics, the man forced to break the news of Dahlia's death to her parents. From that awful moment, he's been inexplicably drawn to and quietly obsessed with Naomi. When Rick confesses his infidelity to Naomi, she turns to McBride for comfort. McBride is a devoted husband and father, but is convinced he can make Naomi smile again. The Wechslers complicate their grief and emptiness through infidelity and, in the process, bring destruction to McBride and his family.

Estelle Levine is Naomi's mother, now living in a nursing home. A stroke left vacant places where her memories used to be. Pieces of her mind still work, but not in tandem. Estelle vaguely remembers better days of privilege and wealth. Prized possessions and designer clothes are a lost fragment of her past. Now her clothes are shabby, the nursing home life disheartening. She often exhausts herself trying to pull wandering thoughts together, but one day forms a goal and purpose to transform her world. She remembers Dahlia, and sets out to rediscover hidden memories of the child.

In Dahlia's Wake is unforgettable. Each character is adeptly drawn, each nuance of their thoughts and personality revealed in first person from the character's perspective. Estelle Levine, in particular, with touching courage and irritating stubbornness, becomes the linchpin that holds shattered lives together.

This book goes way beyond being simply genre fiction. McDonough is a stellar wordsmith. My highest recommendation.

Passing the Baton: The Norman "Joe" Hirsch Story
William J. Hirsch
PO Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 1413728944 $29.95 496 pages

From one generation to the next -- despite life's trials and sorrows -- the baton of hope is passed. This author does a remarkable job of illustrating that point as he tells the story of one family. But Passing the Baton goes far beyond being simply a memoir.

Jerry Rekned, as family friend and witness to their lives, shares the Hirsch family story in first person. The author, through Jerry, is an extraordinary story teller. His intimate recollections of life in Brooklyn during the first fifty years of the 20th century draw readers into the story immediately. Each generation of Hirschs come alive in many large and small ways. The effect is touching, humorous, sad, delightful, and real.

Joe Hirsch's ancestors came to America from czarist Russia to escape religious persecution. As Russian Jews, even initial poverty in Brooklyn was preferable to the brutal pogroms experienced in their homeland. Despite racial, religious, and ethnic segregation, the Hirsch family grew and thrived in their new land.

Norman "Joe" Hirsch is the amazing central character of this story. As a boy he is the likeable, sensible, athletic and self reliant hero to his younger brother Billy. Joe, Billy, and friends grow up in Brooklyn during the 20s and 30s. Through them we get a close up view of what life was like for them day to day. And through older members of the family we experience the socio-political climate of early 20th century America, and their concerns about yet another war festering in Europe.

Joe and Billy Hirsch both enlist in 1942. Like most American boys of the time, they hold an innocent, idealistic world view. For certain, none of them could imagine the horrors they would see in battle. Through letters home, Jerry's commentary as related through family members, and Joe's diary entries, we see what they saw. Basic training, flight school, and realistic accounts of bombing runs under heavy fire are harrowing. Through their words, we live the war with them, feel the fear and experience the sorrow of losing comrades in foreign lands. When Lt. Joe Hirsch is shot down with his crew over Germany in 1944, he is only 21 years old. We grieve with his family and friends, feel that loss as surely as if he were one of our own. But the war does end, and the baton of hope is passed to a new generation of Hirschs by story's end.

Passing the Baton is more than a memoir, more than just a charming, well written book. It's living history, rich and alive on every page. My compliments to the author for a book exceedingly well written, entertaining, and educational. This book gets my highest recommendation.

Poems From My Bleeding Heart
David Rehak
PO Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 1413705588 $19.95 163 pages

David Rehak's novels are compelling, sometimes shocking, and always written in his own distinct voice. His work is often daring, skating along the edges of familiar literary concepts. This book of poetry comes from the same place in Rehak's psyche. Nothing is too sacred or profane to be an object of his Muse. Whether rhyme, free verse, or prosaic processes, his poems run the gamut from sweet to solemn, erotic to irreverent, laced with generous doses of humor.

"On the Death of a Friend" was one of my favorites because of its offset rhyming words and the sound of it when read aloud:

Death has coiled you round him too soon
In arms as dark as the hours of the moon,
In his soft, oblivious,
cozy cocoon,
Just to prove that flesh is never impervious.

"Deceitful Age" is another favorite because of the different spin and varying poetic styles Rehak uses to make his point:

In this deceitful age,
Even liars elude shame;
And where is the public outrage
When the wrongdoer escapes blame?

Political leaders, you are failed saviors!
Political analysts, you are gloom-and-doom prophets!
Citizens, you are gullible victims!
And the world keeps spinning on its axis,
And Time keeps on ticking in the brain of its clock.

"A Noble Savage" is this poet's contemplation on the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:

O noble savage
Of a twisted science!
You remind us of dangers
Like genetic engineering;
When man tampers with nature,
He pays an unaffordable price!

Rehak's thoughts are often morbid as he contemplates his death or the death of others. Sometimes he finds a disconcerting humor in the misbegotten misfits of a hypocritical society. And every so often lovers of poetic metaphor will be delighted, as in this excerpt from "At the Beaches of Normandy":

as soon as we hit soil, the bullets hit us,
we were like wasps in the winter
of this furious flurry of fire.
Or in this excerpt from "Autumn Rain":
And branches fearfully waved
Their every red-clad hand
Under teary-eyed clouds
And the pounding fist of thunder.

David Rehak takes readers on a whirlwind tour of his world in Poems From My Bleeding Heart. These are sometimes ribald and rollicking messages of bleeding pleading or poignant observations of hope and despair. It's David Rehak, as he is and how he thinks, as man and poet.

5,000 Bells
Charles Fishman
Cross-Cultural Communications
239 Wynsum Ave., Merrick NY 11566-4725
ISBN 0893047848 $10.00 + s & h 40 page chapbook

Charles Fishman is a Pulitzer-nominated poet with impressive credentials and an international reputation. He has authored numerous full length poetry books, chapbooks, and translations in addition to editing an award winning anthology. He currently serves as Director of the Distinguished Speakers Program at Farmingdale State and Poetry Editor of New Works Review. By any measurement you choose, Charles Fishman is a scholar, and yet his poetry has always been accessible, sensitively written, and easily understood by all who read it. 5,000 Bells is the latest example of his articulate work, dedicated to a subject he holds dear -- the Holocaust. From the beautiful front cover photograph by Reva Sharon to the poetry between the covers, this chapbook is first rate.

"Ghosts" introduces us to Fishman's heart, tells us in simple terms why his private moments are often spent mourning the lost and forgotten who died in ditches decades ago:

I've heard it said that lives
are valueless as smoke,
that only God survives
the poisoned drink of Death.

And yet I count these ghosts
and think of one who died
with a young child at her breast,
unnoticed and unmourned.

"Mengele" defines the essence of an inhuman monster. I quote this poem in its entirety because to do otherwise would dilute its chilling message:

He had the charm of a Chinese emperor
and loved to mingle with the victims
and stood, invincible but mincingly,
ready to divide them, mongrel from mongrel,
his arm raised and potent as the staff
of Moses. Those he permitted to linger
in the anterooms of death, he could mangle
or heal as desired, yet his wand picked them out
with the delicacy of a watercolorist's brush
and rarely swooped or slashed: the symphony
he conducted required restraint, a deft elegance,
balletic dash. Each transport he ministered to
mastered him: a Mongol conqueror transformed.
He would change a whole people into ash
and absence, into silence and smoke.

In "A Child Survivor", a Jewish child is rescued from Warsaw. She's loved and nurtured by her rescuers, but always there is the awful truth, that other life she escaped:

.....Yet that other world
remained unapproachably distant --
the dark side of her private moon --

Fishman grieves, not only for the millions lost but also for the survivors. The Holocaust was six decades ago. Its survivors face advancing age in "The Survivors are Dying":

What is a fire without a witness?
What is the smell of death
without the gift of witnesses
without the histories written
in their blood?

The Nazis thought they could silence God by destroying synagogues and hiding Torahs, and eliminate an ancient culture by killing Jews. "Souls of the Torah" is a triumphant four-part poem that proves the Nazis wrong on all counts because such voices and their history will never be silenced:

Let us who come after purify this place
whose fate was not to be destroyed
.....The temple
will have a Torah; instead of emptiness
and silence, a history and a voice.

"The Ballad of Ravensbruck" is a sentimental favorite of mine. Ravensbruck was a concentration camp for women, a camp about which little is written. Women who resisted Nazi occupation were sent there with their children and starved, maimed, sterilized, or killed outright. 90,000 died; less than half that number survived. This poem memorializes a group of survivors on a visit to the place decades later:

Ravensbruck refused them drink,
refused them food and pride;
it forced them to divorce their hearts
from their souls and minds

Yes, here is Bella who moans like a ghost
and Chana who mourns like a bride
and this is Ilsa who kneels in the dirt
where her twin daughters died.

Charles Fishman's words are rich with metaphors. He weaves poetic tributes to a past that cannot be allowed to fade. He calls such memories "hieroglyphs the lens saves." His poems become a substitute of sorts for the Jewish woman praying with a lace handkerchief on her head -- "a frail membrane of grace" for those of us whose hearts and minds he hopes to reach.

This book is highly recommended.

Into India, Out of Africa
Alistair Caldicott
PO Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 1413741088 $24.95 292 pages

Most of us will never have the opportunity to travel the world. We will be forced by circumstance to travel via armchair from home. My advice is to let Alistair Caldicott take you to glamorous, exotic and exciting destinations and leave him to deal with the disturbing, uncomfortable and dangerous because he copes so well and lives to tell us all about it. This book is not a travel guide. It's more personal than that, chatty and well written, and an all around good read in every way.

Our brave traveler begins in India. Through mind sapping heat, he shares every step with his readers: grand palaces, staggering poverty, beautiful people and places, and sickening squallor. We experience the river Ganges, a holy river so polluted that oxygen can no longer live in it. He hikes the Himalayas while fighting bouts of altitude sickness and diarrhea, introduces us to Sherpa strongholds and yak caravans in Nepal and Tibet, and climbs pristine blue glaciers. And just when you think it could not possibly get more exciting, he heads for Australia via Bangkok and Singapore.

I've always been curious about Australia. Caldicott taught me more about "down under" in this book than I've learned in a lifetime of movies and books. He soaks it all in like a sponge and takes his readers with him. From one end of Australia to another, he travels dusty outback roads, gapes in awe at ancient cliffs and Aboriginal rock paintings. We feel the blistering heat and the incessant swarms of flies that buzz at every human orifice demanding entry. And we share his wonder at sleeping under night time skies so inspiring that he fights off sleep to watch them.

New Zealand is a land of charming contrasts: tropical vegetation, volcanoes, boiling mud pools and geysers, mist shrouded craters, ancient water caves, glaciers, fjords, and an unexpectedly mild climate. If I were Caldicott, I would have tarried longer in New Zealand, or spent my entire sabbatical there, but he was cracking to reach Africa.

Africa is a beautifully diverse continent in ways most of us will never see. Caldicott describes it as a raw, challenging, enthralling, rewarding continent, then sets out to show us exactly what he means by that statement. From the southernmost tip of Africa he treks, sometimes painfully, to his final destination, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Along the way we visit rubbish infested cities in decline, learn about apartheid and other political injustices, and walk pristine beaches. We accompany the author as he snorkels with whale sharks in the Indian Ocean and hikes the Khyber pass. He introduces us to oasis pools in the world's oldest desert and hidden gems not yet discovered by tourists. We rough camp in the bush surrounded by wild animals, go white water rafting on the Zambize River, and suffer with the author through a frightening bout of malaria. And finally we struggle with him through the crowning achievement of his travels -- climbing Kilimanjaro.

This is an exhilarating book, a thoroughly satisfying read from beginning to end. If you are at all curious about the world and its wonders, I suggest you buy this book then lean back and let Mr. Caldicott take you on a journey of the mind. Allow him to stimulate your senses through his words. Highly recommended reading for High School age and up.

Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree: a graphic chronicle featuring "Kidd Millennium"
Ron Callari, author
Jack Pittman, illustrator
Howling Dog Press
A Brave New World Order Book
PO Box 853, Berthoud CO 80513-0853
ISBN 1882863569 $14.95 144 pages

Ron Callari and Jack Pittman describe themselves as "two '60s sympathizers who have traded in their peace signs for Florsheims but still want to give peace a chance." Callari writes the commentary and Pittman creates the illustrations. Together, thanks to their fertile imaginations, they take political commentary, irony and satire to new heights. The star of their joint effort is Kidd Millennium, a sly, wisecracking, bediapered baby who delivers "platitudes with attitude." Callari, Pittman, and Kidd have a devoted international following and it's no wonder. But I suspect the politicians skewered by this feisty Kidd and his pals are less than thrilled by Callari and Pittman's war of words and images. If this book does not make you smile or make you mad, or both, nothing will.

Both commentary and illustrations are excellent so I had trouble choosing review content. A few of the highlights for me included the following commentaries:

the electoral college -- where party cronies elect the president and not the voters; continuity of government -- better known in the beltway as the Shadow Government -- where only Republican members of the Executive Branch are allowed to survive to govern in a post-apocalyptic America; zealots in training -- whose families are paid because their loved one agrees to martyr himself or herself in the name of jihad and Allah; strange bedfellows -- the evildoers who are anathema today are the "informers" the U.S. paid handsomely for information and favors yesterday; All the illustrations were equally thought provoking, but among my favorites were:

a parody of Men in Black, with the President wiping out our collective memories of past missteps, with the kidd asking "How do you think he's maintained his popularity rating?"; the President reprising Swarzenegger's role as the Terminator, starring as "the Preemptinator". The critics gave this debut two big thumbs up, but as Kidd Millennium astutely pointed out, they did not say up where; a poignant and powerful illustration of Kidd Millennium comforting a weeping Statue of Liberty after 9/11; the President in an Iraqi foxhole asking "Is it still a standoff?" with Kidd as his lookout saying, "No. Rumsfeld has successfully transferred his high level blame to low level prison guards." Most of us already know our government plays fast and loose with taxpayer money. It also comes as no big surprise that we are shut out of the decision-making loops and circles in D.C. Despite that, Callari and Pittman shed new light on the Iraqi war while educating and entertaining. Sun Tzu, as the originator of "shock and awe," said several thousand years ago that the best way to win a battle was not to fight it. In Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree, Callari and Pittman wonder how we got that message wrong, and question all the many reasons why.

The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars
David Ray
Howling Dog Press
PO Box 853, Berthoud CO 80513-0853
ISBN 1882863550 $14.95 trade $21.95 collector edition, 240 pages

Early reviews of this book extol David Ray's poetry. Among the accolades are: "relentlessly devastating"; "the master work"; "a visionary blessing"; and "exquisitely beautiful." The Death of Sardanapalus goes far beyond those words of praise. From the breathtaking cover and art work to David Ray's words, the entire presentation is of the highest quality. As a reviewer, I must struggle to do this fine work justice.

From ancient times, when Persians, Greeks, and Romans plagued the world with wars, poetic voices have been raised in protest. It requires as much courage to protest as it does to take up arms. Through the ages, dissenters have been shunned, persecuted, or killed in an attempt to silence them. Each war to end all war is made to seem heroic and patriotic by those in power at the time. David Ray looks to past wars and long dead civilizations, drawing disturbing correlations to the powers waging war today. He does not spare himself or readers the lingering sorrow and horror of 9/11. Nor does he sidestep the sticky politics involved with the Iraqui wars. You'll find no politically correct drivel here. This poet shines a penetrating light on smokescreens and enlightens as he educates. It shocked me to comprehend, for example, that what our political powers call "collateral damage" today was labeled ethnic cleansing in the days of Hitler and Stalin.

Although I know it is naive, perverse, and infantile,
I cannot stop thinking of the children of Baghdad
who will soon be dealt with as if they are no more
than dust of the street, clay figurines to be shattered.

The crux of our present deterioration within America's boundaries can be boiled down to its essence in one poem, titled "Congress":

A few good women
spoke up
and a few good men.

The others voted
Gung-ho for war.
And then gave more

billions every time
they were asked although
we cannot afford

such luxuries as
health care, clean air,
or voting machines

that will guarantee
an honest election --
the last thing desired

in our unique democracy.

Weapons of mass destruction haunt our world and this poet's thoughts. Americans watch the news for warning signs that air or water have been targeted by terrorists. Meanwhile, in "WMDS Anew", David Ray presents a view that many of us may have missed:

On the freight siding
the cars of DuPont and Dow
stand ready to serve.

Tax paying citizens, going about their daily lives, have responsibilities too. Regrettably, America lost her innocence long before 9/11. Ray makes that clear in this excerpt from "A Vision Emergency:

.....Peasants are fleeing
our planes, and we who fund a war

machine, even the gentlest among us,
are no longer the good people even

in our own eyes. Fear gathers around
towns and cities all over the earth

and we are what is feared, as Rome
once was.....

It's been said that poetry is man's way of expressing the inexpressible. In The Death of Sardanapalus David Ray weaves the inexpressible into every word, each poem, clearly and without the usual disguises. His work is shocking, thought provoking and sad because he has not given up on hope. Not entirely. He still hopes poetry can make a difference.

We looked forward to a clean millennium,
free of murder. But imagine our naievete!

Yet I praise our futile efforts, our going down
with our words the way soldiers fall in battles.

My compliments to David Ray and Howling Dog Press for this amazing book. If there is any justice left in the world, it will be a modern classic.

This Eternal Hubbub
Joe M. Ruggier
Multicultural Books
Richmond Gardens, 307 Birchwood Court, 6311 Gilbert Rd., Richmond BC, V7C3V7
ISBN 0973330147 $36.95 275 pages

Joe M. Ruggier is an internationally recognized writer, poet, and scholar, born in Malta and now living in Canada. This Eternal Hubbub is the third revision of a work that's been in process twenty years. My overall impression of this work is reminiscent of beautifully conceived classical tomes predating the 18th and 19th centuries. It has been written and printed with a loving and precise attention to detail. The careful choice of fonts and color art reproductions add depth to Ruggier's poetry and prose.

The poets of antiquity believed poetry and poetic prose were acts of intelligent, dedicated service to humanity. Ruggier carries on in that tradition with his skillful blending of classical poetry and commentary. He believes poetry is most potent when it treats a universal theme with genuine dignity. The greatest and most memorable classic works were written with love. For example, he states that biblical scriptures have tremendous impact and yet are written with eloquent simplicity.

The author proposes that Art is a basic human need, one often lost in the hubbub of modern society. Before technology, humankind could see and hear the poetry of existence in the world around them. Today, humans are lost and floundering, isolated from beauty and peace by war and the pursuit of money. Ruggier contends that humans can regain their humanity and focus through the Arts -- classical poetry and prose, paintings and music of the Masters. The reading and writing of poetry, for example, is a peaceful pursuit that helps us rediscover wonder. In a stunning and thought provoking comparison, Ruggier states Jesus of Nazareth was an effective Artist because he restored to humanity their lost dignity. Jesus Christ was a world class artist, sharing his philosophy of love as every Artist has throughout time. In this way, upheld as the epitome of excellence through the purity of his message, Jesus joins the ranks of Shakespeare, Beethoven, Tennyson, Keats, and other classical Artists.

It's not possible to adequately condense this fine book into a review. I'll simply say that Ruggier demonstrates an astounding range as poet, essayist, and wordsmith. This Eternal Hubbub is a scholarly work, complete with informative and enlightening footnotes. The author writes from the perspective of an Artist and lifelong Catholic. And yet he brings a valid message to readers of any age, religious practice, or level of education.

A Stone Blessing
T. Luis Cox
Uccelli Press
PO Box 85394, Seattle WA 98145-1394
ISBN 0972323147 $14.00 101 pages

The poetry of T. Luis Cox has been creating a stir online for some time now. His work has appeared in The Pedestal Magazine, The Three Candles, and has favorably impressed the Poetry Editor at New Works Review. Mr. Cox is an educator who practices Tibetan Buddhism. His poetry is often transcendental, taking readers beyond the mundane to dreamlike visions of pure beauty.

"This Journey" is a prime example, written in memory of the poet's father:

Does it slip away, too,
like the body back
into its original element,
or is that what we are,
a moment slivering itself
in layer after layer, in space
at our fingertips, always
the same yet not?

Cox gives us "...the sound of whispers boiling in a dying light..." as his meditative spirit expands to draw us in. In his hands, words become a praise song, as "In Praise of Bodhicitta":

Paper springs from my oak
pencil faster than a wren's dash,
night thick
with her dreams...

The solitary life of every man, each poet, is transformed into a stark memorial in "A Parable for Yama:"

...Poetry is the death of belief in sanctity,
an end toward which I'll strive for sleep
fully awake, an incurable insomniac who's lost
his faith in parables alone.

In "The Wind of the Aran Islands" he shows us Gaelic tombstones, chilling winds, penetrating cold and fogs, compelling beauty through the eyes of a pilgrim:

...How had I arrived at so forlorn
a hilltop, with its slabs of granite and formidable cairns

leaning with me toward sunlight? How bright it'd become!
I recalled the twelth century ruins of a teampall
I'd climbed over stone-mortar walls to get to, its roof

flown into another century, caught in a draft,
no doubt, stronger than any faith contained by walls
decaying under the weight of a pastor's sermons.

His travels are both figurative and literal, sharing a sense of who Cox is and who he aspires to be as human. One poem I found most touching was "Morning at Chochise Stronghold":

Such a monument to the mortared dead, this stone
with its commemorative plaque, this cool
once-upon-a-time chiseling
a strange pastime for the eye;

He yearns to understand the ancient ways, and finds his evidence through distinct primordial rhythms, as in "The Story of Asanga": know again the way his hands held
a cave's walls, lifting himself to unsteady knees?

...his own eyes fluttering when he saw thousands
of years flooding through his mind's unequivocating eye...

"I Wish I Were a Hay", written in memory of Lucas Cox, is a hopeful anthem celebrating spirit's triumph over death. I found an awesome power in Cox's simple paean:

Only you are gone,
Lucas, "bringer of light,"
in whose luminous shadow
I now stand,

These few excerpts from T. Luis Cox's book are faint offerings of what treasures might be found between two covers. This poet's fan base is growing, and the work in A Stone Blessing will no doubt add to his following.

The Anguish of the Blacksmith's Forge
Larry Jaffe
Troubador Publishing Ltd.
9 De Montfort Mews, Leicester LE1 7FW UK
ISBN 1904744567 $15.00 74 pages

Often the finest discoveries come about inadvertently, by chance. Such is the case with Larry Jaffe's poetry. As poet and otherwise, Jaffe's credentials are impeccable. He is the International Readings Coordinator for the United Nations Dialogue Among Civilizations through Poetry Project. He co-founded Poets for Peace. His work has been translated into many languages and is read around the world. Long time fans celebrate the release of a new book by Larry Jaffe. I regret not discovering him sooner.

So where to begin with a review? Poem I is a good start:

A woman
from the sea
he risks
all hope
on a smile.

Simple. Clearly expressed in a way that both characters come to life before our eyes. Minimalist, perhaps, but not minimizing, as in a following poem that is almost haiku-like in its design:

They speak
with fingers
A teared
cheek smiles.

Jaffe writes of love -- its deepest pains and grandest blessings -- as in this excerpt where a loving encounter:

his emptiness
baptizes his body
with her own...

And when love goes wrong, sorrow smothers out every other aspect of life:

she works
into his

Despite the bereft lover's sorrow, there is a wonderful humor in his thought processes:

He sings
her name
in bed
every night
like an old
rock and roll

This lesson
in forgetting
is not very

Jaffe describes the poems in this book as "minimalist." I found his poems to be simple but eloquent, rich with meaning and easily understood. Anyone who ever loved or needed love should read these poems. They're forged from Larry Jaffe's heart.

On the Right Side of a Dream
Sheila Williams
One World / Ballantine / Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
ISBN 0345464753 $12.95 240 pages

While reading a book, I often try to envision what the author must be like in real life. In Sheila William's case, I imagined her to be warm, engaging, blessed with humor and hope, just like her personal writing style. This is the sort of book that warmly welcomes readers into the story and makes them feel a part of it.

Juanita Lewis is forty-something, stuck in a mundane life and wishing for some reason to rejoice. For longer than she can remember, life hasn't moved forward for her and she's been afraid to look back. When dealing with a manipulative daughter finally sparks a meltdown, Juanita breaks loose from her Ohio roots and heads west. She lands in Paper Moon, Montana, finds unconditional love and acceptance, and that is just the start of her journey. But this land of wondrous earth and sky delivers more than simply awesome scenery and a man to share her life.

Juanita's Montana friends are priceless characters, brought to vibrant life through Ms. Williams' skill. It's through these fascinating people that Juanita learns more about the world than she could have imagined. Peaches Bradshaw, for example, drives a purple Kenworth fondly known as "the purple passion." Juanita accompanies Peaches on a trip cross country to California where she sees the ocean for the first time. They stop off in Arizona on the return trip, and there Juanita juggles crystals, channels positive energy, and discovers new capabilities. Thanks to her time in Arizona, she dares to dream of educating herself and finding a new career.

In Paper Moon, Juanita finds a worldly mentor in the eighty-some year old Millie Tilson. This lively senior citizen has a 70 year old "boy toy" and a penchant for Victoria's Secret lingerie. She grabs life by the horns and hangs on tight, no matter how wild the ride. Millie is instrumental in daring Juanita to spread her wings and grow in ways she never imagined.

And then there is Jess Gardiner. Jess is a quiet spoken, hard working man, owner of the local diner. After a life of hard knocks, Juanita finds a loving home with Jess and experiences unconditional love for the first time. No matter where she goes or how long she stays while pursuing her dreams, Jess lets her know in clear terms that she always has a home and love with him.

The beauty of this book is how the author tells Juanita's story in first person. She shows us each new location, lets us meet each new friend with wide eyed excitement as she builds Juanita's confidence. Readers will love this beaten down woman who courageously transforms herself into a soaring eagle by book's end.

When the Bough Breaks
Matt Mason
Lone Willow Press
PO Box 31647, Omaha NE 68131
No ISBN $7.95, 35 page chapbook

When a Lone Willow Press chapbook arrives in the mail, I prepare to be surprised. Regardless of the poet's age or home state, I know the poetry will be distinctive and deliver a memorable reading experience. Matt Mason's intimate recollections of his father are, indeed, memorable.

Matt's father was a hard working product of the Heartland. This husband, father of seven children, and respected businessman died of AIDS. No one knows how he got this disease but that is not the point of Mason's memories. In When the Bough Breaks he simply pays his father honor, an honor the elder Mason earned and deserves.

Two of my favorite poems were "The Sin of Sodom" and "One Little Coffin." I choose not to quote from either in this review because their power is too stunning to adequately reduce to an excerpt.

This excerpt from "When a Parent Dies" explains death's universal heartbreak in terms we can all understand:

A friend's mom passed last week,
so I'm sitting with a blank card spread open,
trying to break words like horses.

I know, it's futile.
We can talk about the damnedest issues
with such editorial bombast, such learned flamboyance,
but on these,

we're so small.
we are children.

In "Spending Quality Time With Dad", Mason visits his father in dreams:

and it's amazing, the sound of wind through these parchment leaves
is like the ocean but more
eternal, it's the sound of a wave that never crashes
on rock or sand or boat, it never slaps or recycles,
just hushes, always hushes in that same tone, same voice forever.

The Heartland never quite releases its hold on natives of the plains, no matter how far from home they wander. Matt Mason is a Heartland son who trades memories for metaphors in a wonderful poem that isn't really about weather -- "Watches to Warnings":

Understand, where I grew up, when a sky soaks
with a pink or orange tinge, when hail starts popping
across the blacktops, you expect sirens,
expect watches will turn into warnings
when you feel your skin bristle.

You won't have to strain and search for meaning in Matt Mason's poetry. He lays himself bare, shares loss, love, rage and hope in words that alternately sing and soar. Congratulations to the poet and to Lone Willow Press for bringing these words to print.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Crimson Moon
Lucha Corpi
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston, 452 Cullen, Performance Hall, Houston, TX 77204-2004
ISBN: 1558854215 $12.95

With a tenure of over thirty years as a teacher in the Oakland Public School Neighborhood Centers Program, Lucha Corpi also enjoys distinction as a poet, children's book author, and mystery novelist. She has won the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Prize, the Multi cultural Publishers Exchange Book Award of Excellence in adult fiction, and also was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

Gloria Damasco enjoys her own prestige as the first Chicana detective in American literature. At the beginning of this tale of shadows and intrigue, a woman is found after falling down a shrub-filled cliff. She is in a coma, and it is up to private investigators Justin Escobar and Dora Saldana to untangle the clues. The story harkens back thirty years to the corruption of two F.B.I. agents; one of them now a dying old man. But the second F.B.I.. agent is a rapist, and leaves a trail of despair and desolation among the women he attacked:

"'I opened my eyes again the next morning in the hospital. I had been raped, a nurse told me. Should she contact the police on my behalf? Did I want to press charges? Back then nurses and doctors were not required to call the police if they suspected rape. It was up to me. All I could think of was what my mother would say if she found out. I said no, no cops. All I could feel was a great sadness at his betrayal. Why had he, this man I loved, let that happen to me? I hated him.'"

Lucha Corpi packs this tale with a history of the Chicano movement in the United States and the struggles of the Chicano brown power group in Denver and the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico that took place in conjunction with the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Police brutality was a major concern back then, and from this chronicle that Corpi provides, it was even worse for those involved in the Chicano movement.

Corpi writes a matter of fact narrative that underscores the deep passion underlying the events, both past and present. Her tale juxtaposes the slow demise of the innocent woman whose life was shattered by a man who should have been her protector. It is up to her son to see that justice is finally served, along with the detective work of Justin and Dora, who barely escape alive.

The Scarecrow Murders
Mary V. Welk
Hilliard & Harris Publishers
P.O. Box 3358, Frederick, Maryland 21705-3359
ISBN: 1591330866 $16.95

As author of the Caroline Rhodes mysteries, Mary V. Welk garnered a unusual variety of accolades, including finalist in the 1996 Hemingway First Novel competition and a 2000 Readers' Choice Award for Best First Mystery for A DEADLY LITTLE CHRISTMAS. Her SOMETHING WICKED IN THE AIR received a Readers' Choice Award in 2002 as Best Traditional Mystery. She has been reviewed by the Chicago Sun Times, Mystery Scene Magazine, Romantic Times Magazine, and many others.

Rhineburg, Illinois boasts a terrible college football team with an unusually hot-headed coach; a college president who is desperate for money; a small town banker with dubious business practices; and Caroline Rhodes, ER and college nurse, part-time sleuth, and soon-to-be grandmother. All of these paths collide when the football team and a rodeo fight over the new stadium. Equipment clad football players engage in fights at the local brew pub, which escalates into a gender picket line, with the men on one side in favor of the team and the ladies on another in favor of the rodeo. When a particularly nasty football player is found dead in a bull pen and Caroline's son Martin is the primary suspect, she puts her sleuthing talents to work, utilizing her friend Carl the college history professor and some of the town's most interesting characters. Of course this all happens during Halloween, to set a scene of goblins and mayhem:

"'I lost my hat in the wind,' Carl grumbled. 'I didn't want my head to get soaked, so I put on the Halloween mask I bought to scare the kids with.' Half way out of his jacket, he stopped to eyeball the nine women huddled around the table. They were staring at him as if he'd gone completely mad. 'Hey! I'm not the only crazy one around here,' he bellowed, gesturing at the outfits they were wearing. 'Take a look at yourselves in the mirror. At least I had a good reason to look foolish.'"

Mary Welk's folksy, yet well-crafted style of writing makes this a first-rate mystery. She develops an unusual and interested plot, includes plenty of well-defined characters, and her use of language and circumstance all add up to an griping tale with bulls and bull-headed men running around everywhere. Caroline is a no-nonsense sleuth with lots of personality.

Power in the Blood
Brenda Robertson Stewart
SterlingHouse Publisher
7436 Washington Avenue, Suite #200, Pittsburgh, PA 15218
ISBN: 1563153653 $12.95

If one travels to Brenda Robertson Stewart's home town of Bloomington, Indiana, one will find sinkholes, snakes, and some very peculiar religious practices. Ms. Stewart earned a B.A. in English from Indiana University. Along with her obvious writing skills, she is also a forensic artist specializing in facial reconstruction, which gives her a very special perspective on forensic investigations and the art of doll artistry. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and several doll artist organizations.

POWER IN THE BLOOD is the first Lettie Sue Wolfe mystery. Lettie Sue is a widow who has come back to Indiana to rest after the death of her husband and to work on her hobby reconstructing faces from skulls. Her home town is happy that she has returned until one of her reconstructions turns out to be her best friend Sassy's long disappeared sister Marty. Lettie Sue becomes an instant celebrity, and odd things begin to happen. Her special relationship with her elderly neighbors, Aunt Mattie and Uncle Jim, who constantly worry about her and warn her of a wolf that Uncle Jim keeps hearing, enables her to begin to build her life. But the murderer has other ideas:

"Suddenly I heard violent barking from downstairs. I sneaked downstairs and peeked around the curtain. The security light was out. After my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw movement just behind the old maple tree. Bailey began to bark hysterically again. I sneaked over to the phone, but it was dead. Thank goodness I had a backup for the security system. It wouldn't be so easily disabled."

Ms. Stewart's first Lettie Sue mystery is a barn-storming page turner! She uses the naturally sinister topography of her home town to cook up a plot that is as compelling as her relationship with her elderly neighbors and animals is sweet. This mystery is the best kind of cozy that is appropriate for virtually any age group, and is as entertaining as it can be. Lettie Sue is a likable character with talent, character, and is just nosy enough to constantly get herself into a pickle. Ms. Stewart adds obvious regional oddballs to give an already excellent tale more credence. POWER IN THE BLOOD is a good, old fashioned story with love, religious fanaticism, family togetherness, and healing after the loss of a loved one. Lettie Sue is just getting started.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

In Search Of A Brilliant White Cloud
Simon van der Heym
Ivy House Publishing Group
5122 Bur Oak Circle, Raleigh, NC 27612
ISBN# 1571974202 $24.95 366 pages

In this book we are introduced to Eric van Polis, a young Dutch boy whose life is about to change forever. We experience the trauma that is his as his family makes a dangerous escape to Switzerland fleeing the persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Germans. The author does an outstanding job in bringing you into the lives of Eric and his family, allowing you to feel the inward emotions that they are dealing with during this traumatic time, their unbelievable horror and the courage each family member was called upon to give. At the end of this experience you know this family and have become one with their hopes and dreams for the future, and the deep heartbreaks they have experienced.

We follow Eric's life as he struggles to understand why he suffered for being Jewish, why his relationships fail and why his life seems to have no meaning. We share with him in failed marriages, father-child problems, career decisions and life in general. In his journey, Eric battles his emotions, desperately seeking answers and longing for a peace he cannot seem to find.
Finally after a lifetime of unanswered questions we find Eric at peace with himself, his family, his past and eternity as he is confronted with the battle of cancer. A gift in disguise, Eric learns as he is confronted with possible death, what life is all about.

I found the experience that Eric had with the 'white cloud' fascinating and would have liked to have read more details about it. Although I felt the author wrote as much about the experience as he could, I long to know the mystery behind it. It certainly was a life changing experience for Eric, and one that added deep meaning to the read. It is through this circumstance that Eric finally realizes what is important in life, his past shortcomings in achieving that goal and the realization that it is within his own ability to reach the peace he has been searching for, for so long.

This work is one mans struggle against the obstacles that life placed before him, his continuing battles and his final conquest. I believe the author finally found his answers and I hope this work will help others to find their peace as well.

Miranda's Vines
Kimberly Kafka
Plume Publishing
ISBN# 0452286174 $14.00 272 pages

We are first introduced to Miranda Perry, a young woman with a 6 year old son, who has all ready tasted the agony life can bring when she suffered the death of her husband before the birth of her son. Her life is about to change once more.

Miranda has worked hard to make her way in the world of culinary in San Francisco. Close now to owning her own restaurant, again life gets in the way as her father dies and she must return to Oregon and face the prospects of what to do with his winery, and the beautiful vineyards that have been in her family for years. She has worked hard at her new life in San Francisco, yet her heart seems to be drawing her to her heritage.

We are also introduced to her friend Bridie, a fiery young woman, independent and strong in the beginning, but soon becoming dependent, despondent and discouraged after a terrible sled-dog accident. As fate would have it, these two women are drawn together at Miranda's fathers home where they must face the changes that life has given to them.

The book has many facets to it that I found very good. One was the rich characters and their true life struggles against immense odds. I love how the author showed the raw emotions in each one. She also added some slices of romance to a couple that you did not think would ever taste of it. Very good.

Ms. Kafka brought to life the world of wine making and the problems they face; I found that to be very interesting and I love the way she added the often hard living that the migrant workers endure day to day.

This was a great read. Life's battles played out and raw emotions dealt with all wrapped up in a very good storyline. I recommend this book; I believe you will truly enjoy this read.

Grieving God's Way
Margaret Brownley
Winepress Publishing
Enumclaw, WA 98022
ISBN# 1579216641 $15.99 314 pages

None of us in this life are allowed the luxury of escaping the loss of someone or something we love. If there is life, there will certainly be death. In this exceptional work, Grieving God's Way,author Margaret Brownley helps us to understand the grieving process and leads us upon the walkway to peace.

In her writing she is open and frank about our grieving experience, yet she laces each expression with comforting Scriptures and insightful wisdom from the Lord. She shares topics such as, "the Healing Power of Prayer, To Hope Again, God The Beacon, and Where Is God?" She takes some tough subjects and questions that those grieving are certainly screaming out, and gently but with deep conviction speaks the assuring words that are so desperately needed to be heard.

Grieving God's Way is a book written with a fresh approach to dealing with such a personal, intimate and unapproachable emotion, grief. In this work, we find hope, encouragement and a glimmer of peace for the future. I recommend this book and know that the words within it's pages will help bring healing to many.

A Treasury of American Bottles
William C. Ketchum Jr
A Rutledge Book
Indianapolis, NY
ISBN# 0891040285 $14.95 50 pages

If you are looking for a great book on American bottles, this is the book for you. Chock full of colored pictures, you will quickly be able to identify if you have a treasure in your possession.
The author goes into extreme detail on subjects such as how a bottle is made, to the different times each bottle was manufactured. Very interesting and very informative.
I found this work to be one of the easiest ones to use. It would be impossible not to recognize a bottle with the very large pictures that are there for you to view.
This work is definitely a must if you are interested in American bottles. Excellent!

American Antique Furniture
Edgar G. Miller, Jr.
Dover Publications
New York, NY
ISBN# 0486216004 $3.95 500 pages

My sister-in-law has gotten me interested in antiques, something that I never thought would happen. While checking out some books in the library, I came across this one. Although it was published in 1966 the information in it is still very true and the descriptions of American furniture are very good. Author Edgar Miller put over 2,000 illustrations in the book which is a super aid in identifying a piece. This may be an old book, but it in itself is a treasure for the antique furniture hunter. You can still purchase it on Amazon and if you are a serious antique hunter you will want this book. I recommend it.

Heisey Glass
Shirley Dunbar
Krause Publications
New York, NY
ISBN# 0873418859 $26.95 175 pages

In this book author Shirley Dunbar shares with the reader her research on glassware produced by the A.H. Heisey Company, from 1896-1924. This book contains page after page of large, full color pictures of the different pieces. This is always joy to have as it makes identifying your piece so much easier. You can also find the market value of each piece which is another great plus.
We are given a history of the Heisey Company and its founder and helpful tips for buying and caring for glassware. A well researched book that every collector would want in their library.

Toys & Prices, 1999 6th Edition
Sharon Korbeck
Krause Publications
New York, NY
ISBN# 0873416546 $18.95 928 pages

Are you wondering what to do with all those old toys that are up in your attic? Before you sell them at your next garage sale, or pitch them in the trash; I'd recommend that you check out their value. Toys & Prices is a great book to give you some idea of what treasures you may have in your home. The book is packed full of information on the value of toys such as the Match box cars, board games, coloring books and even lunch boxes. I was amazed at what was collectable and sighed knowing what I had sold at last months garage sale. I recommend this book, it's full of interesting information and also has some identifying pictures to help you along. Good treasure hunting to you!

Bound For The Promised Land
Kate Clifford Larson
One World Ballantine Books
New York, NY
ISBN# 0365456289 $14.95 304 pages

Who is this woman they called "Moses?" and what did she do to acquire this name? In this work by Kate Larson we examine the life and workings of Harriet Tubman, a remarkable woman who risked her life for others. The author takes us along the journey of Ms.Tubman's life and her battle for freedom and the freedom of others who were slaves at this time. The author's work shows her intense research as she carefully outlines and puts together all the pieces of this incredible woman's life. Her writing style is factual yet she draws you along in a gentle storytelling manner that keeps your attention. The pictures that were included added much realism to the read as pictures certainly help by putting a face on the character you are reading about. I found this work very enlightening and certainly learned a lot about an outstanding woman of history and the era in which she lived.

How To Become A Swamp Creature
David Walks-As-Bear
The Wildland Press
2798 W. Tyler Road, Hart, Michigan 49420
ISBN# 0965615103 $15.00 39 pages

In this absolutely delightful work our author takes us on a learning experience on bow-hunting. Geared to the young hunter, this book is not only educational but done in such a way that it is entertaining and attention-grabbing.

In this work our author explains to them the respect they must have for animals and nature; I found this to be refreshing and a subject often not addressed in other works on this topic. He tells the habits of the deer bringing to light that all creatures on this earth have meaning for their existence. I learned so much about the deer and their habits that I found myself sharing it with others, and I am not a hunter.

David explains about The Swamp Creature, just who is this creature, intriguing isn't it? He then goes on to explain why we must have Swamp Creatures, which quieted my spirit concerning hunting, their equipment, their craft and the code they must live by.

As I said, I am not a hunter and I tend to shun anything concerning that area. However, I found this book to be very enlightening and I actually enjoyed reading it. It is packed full of colorful pictures that help to bring across what the author is wanting the reader to understand; the writing is clear and concise, simple yet not lacking in fulfilling the information needed. Good job. All in all this is truly a great book, a wonderful learning experience and one that every young hunter should have and it certainly would be an asset to anyone who has little understanding of the world of hunting. Highly recommended.

Three Little Kittens
Jennifer Thompson
Picture Me Books
Custom Storybooks, Inc.
5576 Lake Knoll Way, Noblesville, IN 46060 317-877-4089
ISBN# 1571515496 $6.95 10 pages

I bought this book for my granddaughter when she was 19 months old. I pasted her picture on the back and when we shared the read she was thrilled to herself as part of the story. She loved being part of the other babies in the book and we had a great time of sharing the rhymes together. Highly recommended.

Animal Prayer Guide
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
P.O. Box 282, Tyngsborough, MA 01879
ISBN# 0972030123 $12.95 59 pages

There are times when as a reviewer and a Christian I know when God touches a certain author to do His work in helping to reach his creation. I sense this anointing in author Niki Behrikis Shanahan, I sense the hand of God upon her words, within her life. Having had the privilege to read and review her first work, There Is Eternal Life For Animals, and acknowledging the spiritual workings within that book; I was anxious to read her new work, Animal Prayer Guide. I knew that this work was done upon the inspiration of our Creator and I hungered to receive the guidance I knew would be forthcoming.

Our author begins this writing by sharing with the reader the workings of prayer. Ms. Shanahan carefully explains the right and authority we have as believers to pray, the importance of mixing our faith with prayer and the help our Heavenly Father gives to us; taking the time to show you why it is acceptable to God to pray for the animals we so love. As always, she backs up her writing with Scripture and includes deep heartwarming testimonies of answered prayer, that will help increase your faith to use the mighty weapon of prayer that God has given to you. Certainly by the time you have finished reading this section, you are well versed in your authority and in the privilege to include any animal in your prayer requests.

As we travel on Ms. Shanahan begins to break down the prayers for our animal companions.To name only a few of the prayers she shares with us, we have; Prayer For Healing, Prayer For Lost Pets to Return, Prayer For Emergencies, Praying For Pet Shelters and my favorite, Saying Grace Over Your Pet's Food. I never realized the importance of that. She gives Scripture and a sample prayer to us for each, which you can change around to your own pets need. Outstanding!
Also included are some amazing experiences with animals and Saints now gone, and some delightful photos that will make you smile. Questions answered and backed-up by Scripture, sample prayers to help you along the way, and encouragement to never give up can all be found within the pages of this book.

Animal Prayer Guide is a book that has been too long in coming and I'm glad it is finally here.
Absolutely packed full of essential knowledge, this work should be kept as a reference book for all those who love God's creation; and should be read by all those, to their shame, who doubt that God would care about all of His creation. I believe it is the personal touch, the author's heart, that makes this book what it is. Do not misunderstand me, it is no nonsense and no wavering as far as Scripture is concerned, but the essence of the love of God can be felt in reading each page. A book that is clear and concise, informative and Biblical, yet folded within the pages is the heart of God, his love for you and his love for his creation.

My final words would simply be, "Thank you Niki Shanahan for once more being obedient to the Lord, for allowing Him to use you to pen the words that will bring hope, peace and healing to the hearts of many. "

Book Marketing from A-Z
Francine Silverman
Infinity Publishing Company
1094 New Deliaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, Pa. 19428
ISBN# 0741424312 $18.95 400 pages

If you were to sit and talk with any writer whose work is having success, and ask them what the main element is that has made this a reality, they would tell you one word, promotion. As a reviewer, I have read countless books that literally brim over the top with talent and craftsmanship of writing that will never be read by a hungry audience. Why? Because none knows about these rare treasures that would fill them with total ecstasy and pure reading enjoyment. When I am asked, who is your favorite author; I always say, the unknown. It is a sad truth, but there is hope at the end of the tunnel, Book Marketing from A-Z, may indeed give any author a fighting chance in the competitive world of publishing.

What will you find inside the pages of this excellent work? The heart of your fellow authors, reviewers, and others that will share with you their trials, tribulations, failures and successes in book promoting. Written in a clear concise way; this work is easy to navigate, not filled with fluff, but with honest ideas to help you achieve your goals. Authors from every genre are represented, countless stories and valuable tips literally fill each page with their carefully constructed ideas and plans that have helped to bring them in contact with the reading public. Find out the true answers to questions such as; Just how well do contests do to draw potential buyers? Are reviews really that important? Does having a book signing really make a difference? If you have an unanswered question about promoting, this book will give you the answer.

As one who hears the heart-cry of countless unknown authors, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This work will be a Godsend to you; an author's Bible that you will refer to time and time again; one that will help join you with the reader that is awaiting your hidden treasure.

Calypso's Secrets
Isabelle Kane
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052 Fax: (307) 265-8585
ISBN# 1593742401 $12.95 238 pages

The beginning of this read introduces us to Skylar Connelly, a young woman about to venture on a dangerous journey. We travel with her to her destination, a job for a very wealthy family at Coral Key, teaching a young boy to swim. However, that is not the real reason Skylar accepted this position, she is on a quest to find her missing sister Maia, who also had worked for this family and had not been heard from since.

We meet Luke, the handsome left-hand man of Skylar's mysterious boss. Luke, at first meeting, seemingly to be a self-centered man, immediately clashes with our young Skylar, yet there seems to be an intense attraction between the two. The characters build one by one in this work. The mysterious teacher, Cole, just what was his relationship with Maia? The master of the house, Mr. Escalle, who certainly has his hands into many illegal happenings; the matron housekeeper,Lillian, whose heartstrings are attached to the boss and it appears her loyalty runs deep, despite his rejection of her feelings and his never-ending line of girlfriends. His henchmen who expect Skylar to be receptive to their advances, and the submissive sister of Mr. Escalle, Angelique and her son Chris, who bow to the every whim of the controlling brother.

As we travel along this delightful read the suspense builds. As Skylar begins to uncover little secrets the danger to her life increases and she must try to make a decision, just who is her friend and who is her enemy? Murder, attempted murder, mishaps, lies and deceit run ramped as Skylar persists on her quest to find her sister, and she must battle the growing emotions she is having for Luke. Guilt battles with attraction as Skylar struggles with her inward feelings. Could Luke be responsible for the loss of her sister, as if so why is she being drawn so strongly to him?

This work is packed full of suspense, murder, romance and mystery. It twists and turns and every time you think you have it figured out the clues take you down another lane. Once I started this read I could not put it down until I completed it. The author does an outstanding job at keeping you guessing and wondering just where is Skylars sister and what is the story behind this mysterious house and its occupants right to the end. A great read, one you don't want to miss.

author of Calypso's Secrets

I reviewed Calypso's Secrets, and really enjoyed the read. I wanted to know more about the writer behind the story and I am sure you will as well. Let's begin please.

SPJ: Caroline, thank you for doing this interview with me. Please tell us, what made you decide to write this book?

Caroline: I was five months pregnant in the middle of another an unending Midwestern winter. I was feeling cold, dull, and decidedly unsexy. So, I escaped to the Florida Keys.

SPJ: Ah! Since I live in Florida I can certainly understand your desire to be here in the winter. I really enjoyed your book, tell me how did you come up with your storyline?

Caroline: I started with the setting and the premise of the missing girl. Then, the search for clues motivated a great deal of what happens in the story. The yacht named Calypso is a key symbol and the lynchpin to the story. Also, the setting and my own memories of a long ago trip to the Keys led to some natural developments in the story.

SPJ: Please tell us how you came up with the characters. Are they fashioned after people you know?

Caroline: When I'm first crafting a character, I use characteristics or aspects of people whom I know, have seen, or have read about. But, through the process of writing and revising, the characters begin to grow, change, and develop in unique ways. By the time I'm finished working on a novel, the characters are far different from how I originally envisioned them.

SPJ: It certainly worked well Caroline, the characters were colorful and interesting. What, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write this book?

Caroline: I've been writing for more than ten years, so no one was really surprised. But as I told my sister, who reads everything I write, this time I wanted to produce something fun, exciting, dangerous, and sexy. Calypso's Secrets is intended to be a delightful diversion, a sort of literary minivacation.

-SPJ: Yes, I can see that and I think you achieved your goal. How long did it take you to complete your book?

Caroline: I'm usually working on several things at once, so I would have to say about nine months.

SPJ: What was the most difficult part in writing your work?

Caroline: Far and away the most difficult part of writing for me is finding time to do it. I'm a SAHM with children, and there are too few hours in the day. Writing is a pleasure and an indulgence for me.

SPJ: What was the most enjoyable?

Caroline: I got a kick out of crafting Luke White's witty remarks. Whenever I was thinking of something outrageous for him to say, it brought a smile to my face.

SPJ: Luke is indeed a colorful character. Tell us, did you find it difficult to find a publisher and if so what did you do to remedy that?

Caroline: Actually, I wrote this novel for the Harlequin Intrigue line. Harlequin didn't like my query letter. One night, I was looking at publishers on the Predators and Editors listing and came across Whiskey Creek Press. I sent them a query and they requested the book within a week. I got a contract from them that same month.

SPJ: What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

Caroline: I would advise another author to consider smaller press and e-books, while continuing to go after agents and the New York houses. You have to get your foot in the door somehow, and the process of actually getting a book out and marketing it is an incredible learning opportunity.

SPJ: It certainly is. If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them?

Caroline: I would tell them to continue to look for the diamond in the rough, and not just cling to the established heavy hitters. There's no question the smaller presses publish works that are edgier and less mainstream. I worry that the big publishers have an unfortunate homogenizing affect on literary production.

-SPJ: Do you have an agent? A publicist? How important do you think this is to a writer?

Caroline: I have an agent who I signed with after I had already contracted with WCP for Calypso's Secrets. She will represent all my future works. I don't have a publicist, so, for right now, I'm relying on my own promotional efforts. And though it's been very time consuming, it has been a rather fun game. But it's difficult to balance writing time and marketing time.

SPJ: How important do you think it is to have reviews of your work and how did you go about accomplishing this?

Caroline: I think it's critical to have a book reviewed, both for the author's benefit, so that he or she can continue to grow as a writer, and also for promotional reasons. I looked into the review sights and periodicals that were most highly respected, like the MBR. I also questioned other authors for advice and guidance.

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

Caroline: I'm learning about promotion as I go. I have a very limited promotional budget, so I try to promote myself through writing essays and short stories and submitting them various places, seeking reviews, participating in chats, and sending out press releases and flyers. I'm not a salesperson by nature, so this is challenging for me.

-SPJ: I understand how difficult promoting can be. Do you belong to a writer's group?

Caroline: I don't belong to any writer's groups, but I have gotten a lot of support from the other Whiskey Creek Press authors.

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

Caroline: I really enjoyed writing Calypso's Secrets. It was just plain fun. I hope readers will experience this book as an exciting and entertaining interlude.

-SPJ: How supportive was your family in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

Caroline: My family is very supportive. My sisters, mother, and father read my works and give me invaluable input. My husband has encouraged me to persevere despite the rejections and disappointments. He's always said: "It will happen one day." My kids are proud of my writing, though they do complain I spend too much time on the computer. Knowing all of them believe in me and support me keeps me writing even when I would rather go to bed or read a book.

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

Caroline: I'm a freelance writer and I've had humorous essays on family life published in magazines and on e-zines. My agent is working at placing my Young Adult horse story, and my current work-in-progress is an historical romance set in Poland and Austria in the late eighteenth century. Both of these works have yet to be sold.

SPJ: I look forward to your future works. How many hours a day do you write?

Caroline: As my children are small and my first priority, I'm thrilled if I get a solid hour to write each day. I feel anxious and upset if I don't write on a given day.

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

Caroline: My computer is set up in the kitchen, so I can watch the kids out in the backyard or hear them in the basement. I've never required silence in order to concentrate, which is a major blessing. I've written with a baby nursing, a toddler climbing on my back, or with Dora the Explorer on the TV.

A nun who was one of my teachers in elementary school shared with me her love of books and reading and ultimately inspired me to write. She gave me C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This was the first book that ever really fired my imagination and got me excited about reading. My grandmother was also very important to me in my decision to become a writer. She was an avid reader, and was very excited when she learned I wanted to write. She was always sending me books about authors and writing, like Stephen King's On Writing.

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

Caroline: At long last, I feel like I can comfortably refer to myself as an author. But I also know that this is a beginning, and that I must continue to learn, grow, and write.

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

Caroline: In three years, I would like to have several books published, some of them by the New York publishing houses. I would like to have an established readership of people who genuinely enjoy my writing. On a more pragmatic note, I would like to be able to remain home while also contributing financially to my family through my writing.

To achieve these goals, I am actively writing, editing, submitting, and promoting.

-SPJ: A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Caroline: I read anything and everything. I love libraries and books, which is why I went after and earned an MA in English. I find reading romance and mystery especially relaxing and enjoyable, but I also read more high browed works, including nonfiction, in my book group.

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

Caroline: I'm a mom. My kids and my husband are the joys of my life. I'm also a horse trainer, and have spent many years riding, training, and competing dressage horses. Writing books and training horses are actually very similar processes; both involve gradually shaping and developing the manuscript or animal in constant pursuit of an ideal which exists in the author's or trainer's mind.

-SPJ: Please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

Caroline: I write to provide people with pleasure and also because I have to write; it's part of who I am. There are no special requirements to being an author. One develops the necessary skills simply by reading, writing, and persevering. But I cannot overstate the importance of a good editor in finishing a work. Sometimes as writers we are too close to our work. A fresh eye can provide invaluable insights.

SPJ: I want to thank Caroline for doing this interview with me. I wish her the best in her writing future; I'm sure we will be blessed to hear more of her in the future.

author of Book Marketing from A-Z

I think this book is outstanding and will be such an asset for those who are serious about their writing career. I wanted to know more about the lady who did all authors a great service by giving us this work. Let's being please

SPJ: Thank you Francine for doing this interview with me. Your book is great. Would you tell us why you decided to write this book?

Francine: Thank you, Shirley, for the opportunity to speak about Book Marketing from A-Z and your kind words about it. As editor/publisher of Book Promotion Newsletter, a bi-weekly ezine for authors of all genres, I send a questionnaire to each new subscriber. After having read the Q&As for almost two years, I realized that their innovative ideas were too good to confine to a newsletter and just 1500 pairs of eyes.

Note from Shirley: If you would like to receive Francine's Newsletter, send her an email ( and she will let you know how you may. I recommend it.

SPJ: What, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write this book?

Francine: Subscribers were naturally ecstatic that I was compiling a book of their best anecdotes. Others also thought it was a wonderful idea.

SPJ: How did you decide what authors, and others that you would feature in your book?

Francine: I only chose the best marketing strategies from subscribers. The hard part was leaving out subscribers who took the trouble to complete the questionnaire but whose ideas were not unique.

SPJ: What were their reactions to this book?

Francine: The book came out in mid-March, 2005 so at this point only a few contributors have ordered and received the book. Those who have seen it, are, of course, pleased as punch. Even a subscriber who signed up after the book was published but ordered a copy, finds much "value" in it and is certain the book will be a "big hit."

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

Francine: A few months

SPJ: What was the most difficult part in writing your work?

Francine: Coordinating with all 325 contributors. I had to email all of them for their mailing addresses in order to send a release and in some cases had to remind them to return the release on time. Also, in some instances I had to e-mail questions about their anecdotes or publishing information.

SPJ: What was the most enjoyable?

Francine: The fun part was putting each anecdote into a proper category, and placing good quotes from their Q&As in relevant sections of the book.

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

Francine: After several rejections from publishers, I received an email from a small traditional publisher expressing interest. However, after holding my manuscript for a few months during the "editing process," the publisher realized it had another new book with a similar subject and dropped mine like the proverbial hot potato.

SPJ: What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

Francine: Never give up. Research all the publishers in your field. If one rejects your proposal, don't take it personally. If you believe in your project, you will eventually find a publisher who does too.

SPJ: If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them? This is one of my favorite questions.

Francine: I would remind them that authors are their lifeblood and to treat them as such. Publishers should respond to their emails on a timely basis, keep them informed of festivals or conferences they plan to attend, and do what they can to help promote their authors' books.

SPJ: How important do you think it is to have reviews of your work and how did you go about accomplishing this?

Francine: It's important to get reviews, if only to have blurbs to add to your promotional materials and website. Prior to publication, I emailed on-line reviewers I felt would be interested in reviewing my book and received 50 positive responses.

SPJ: How much promoting are you doing for this work? Are you using all the wonderful ideas in your book?

Francine: Thus far, I have only mined the Internet for all its promotional possibilities. Of late, I've been re-reading my book with an eye toward using some of the ideas of contributors.

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

Francine: No, although I just joined Publishers Marketing Association (PMA).

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

Francine: Although I always knew my subscribers had terrific marketing strategies, writing the book cemented that belief. My hope is that authors will use the book as a reference guide. My wish is that readers who are shy about self-promotion will become inspired to speak up about their works, and that publicity hounds will learn new methods of promotion.

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

Francine: No. Book Marketing from A-Z is taking all my time these days.

SPJ: Also, do you have any other books published?

Francine: Yes, I am author of two travel guidebooks: Catskills Alive (first edition 2000 and second edition 2003), and Long Island Alive (2003), both published by Hunter Publishing.

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

Francine: Publishing this book has been a fantastic and life-altering experience. The reviews have been glowing, I've been interviewed for websites, and invited as a guest on tele-seminars and in chat rooms. And the book is only out three weeks!!

SPJ: A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Francine: I tend to read fiction at bedtime, and books in my field during the day.

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

Francine: I am married to my husband, Ron, for 36 years and mother of a 33-year-old daughter, Amy. Before becoming a published author, I was a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.

SPJ: Please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

Francine: Authors need to develop a hard shell. Like actors and others in creative fields, rejection is an everyday occurrence. My subscribers have taught me that rejection is the other person's problem and simply a stepping stone to a re-direction.

SPJ: Thank you so much Francine for allowing me to do this interview with you. I want to tell our readers that I truly feel this book will be a great help to them in their journey on the road of promotion. Again, thank you, it has been a pleasure getting to know you better. I wish you the best in the future.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Little Bo Peep Can't Get to Sleep
Erin Dealey
illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama
Antheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689840993 $15.95, 32 pages,

"Little Bo Peep can't get to sleep/She kicked her blankets in a heap." When Little Bo Peep can't get to sleep, her mother suggests counting sheep. But Peep can't count her sheep because she's lost them. Her brother, Little Boy Blue, who scared off the sheep in the first place, warns Peep she'll be in big trouble if she tells Mom and Dad, so it's no wonder Peep can't catch a wink, even when Humpty Dumpty finds her flock. That tummy ache just won't go away until she tells her parents the truth about her missing sheep. From the same winning team who created "Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox," this is a sweet and welcome companion.

Thomas K. Adamson
Bridgestone Books / Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN 0736852484 $21.26

After hearing about the devastating tsunami in South Asia, the employees of Capstone Press wondered how they could help. So they pulled together their resources to publish "Tsunamis," a limited edition title with all the profits to be donated to support the United Nations Children's Fun (UNICEF) relief efforts. Written at a grades 2-3 reading level, "Tsunamis" focuses on how the powerful waves form, move, and cause damage, with emphasis on the 2004 disaster. Features include color photos, maps, diagrams, table of contents, glossary, bibliography, and reinforced library binding.

Jonathan Swift's Gulliver
Retold by Martin Jenkins
illustrated by Chris Riddell
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 0763624098 $19.99, 144 pages,

First published in 1726, Jonathan Swift's classic adventure story has long been a favorite with adults and children alike. This magnificent edition contains all of Gulliver's extraordinary voyages/ Travel toLilliput, land of the small, and Brobadingnag, land of giants; to Laputa, where inhabitants need to be hit on the head with sticks to remind them to talk; to Glubbdubdrib, island of ghosts and magicians; and finally, to the kingdom of the Houyhnhnms, where horses rule over humans. Award-winning author Martin Jenkins has skillfully adapted the original novel, remaining true to its tone and humor while making it accessible to younger readers. He is brilliantly assisted by Kate Greenaway Medalist Chris Riddell, who brings to life the people, creatures, and kingdoms of Swift's searing imagination in wonderful panoramic detail. A tour de force of illustration and design, this is a peerless introduction to one of the most popular stories in the English language.

No Small Thing
Natale Ghent
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 0763624225 $15.99, 246 pages,

When 12-year-old Nathaniel and his sisters, Cid and Queenie, discover an ad for a free pony, they can hardly believe their luck. But how will they afford to take care of it? And what will their struggling single mother say? Amazingly, she says yes. And so begins a year of discovery for Nat, who must deal with his father's absence, look out for Queenie, who is "different," and sort out his feelings about a rich, pretty girl at school. Life isn't easy, but Nat knows he has his very own pony waiting for him at the end of every day. Until a fire destroys the barn Poignant yet often humorous, "No Small Thing" is a lovely story about the search for love and identity in the face of longing, abandonment, and uncertainty.

The Cry of the Icemark
Stuart Hill
The Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439688281 $18.95, 474 pages,

Already a best-seller and media phenomenon in the United Kingdon, "The Cry of the Icemark" is a magnificent tale about a mighty cause: the fight for a tiny kingdom led by a beautiful young princess who unites armies of animals and extraordinary creatures against an all-powerful invader. Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshiedl is an intrepid warrior. She is 13 years old and has been preparing for this moment her whole life. Now, she will look to advisors, forge alliances, and create a flawless battle plan. In the name of her father, for the sake of her people, Thirrin must defend the kingdom she loves at all costs. This book for ages 12 and up is a story of duty and sacrifice, of unexpected laughter and terrible uncertainty, and of a young girl's friendships forged in the heat of the battle. An epic work - the debut from its English author.

Dad, Are You The Tooth Fairy?
Jason Alexander, illustrated by Ron Spears
Orchard Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439667453 $16.95, 32 pages,

It was only a matter of time before a picture book by comedic actor Jason Alexander hit the shelves. Not because public outcry demands it, of course, but because the commercial appetite of publishers seems to never be satisfied. In this rambling story, young Gaby overhears some older kids saything that the Tooth Fairy isn't real, and so he goes straight to his father to seek the truth. Gaby's father, on the other hand, builds upon the myth with a tale of magical creatures: dragons, unicorns, mermaids and fairies. But how does he answer the important question about the existence of the Tooth Fairy? And will Gaby choose to keep the faith?

The Loathsome Dragon
Retold by David Wiesner & Kim Kahng
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
ISBN 0618543597 $16, 32 pages,

A lovely princess, a brave prince, a wicked stepmother, evil enchantments, magic rowan wood, and an immense, scaly dragon. Favorite fairytale elements sparkle in "The Loathsome Dragon," a traditional English tale. Majestic, romantic paintings by two-time Caldecott medallist David Wiesner display the remarkable artistry and dizzying perspectives his work is known for. Now available once again - with several new illustrations, revised text, and a brief source note - this picture book classic will delight David Wiesner's many fans.

Carmine: A Little More Red
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0618387943 $16.00, 32 pages,

This new picture book is a fresh yet faithful retelling of a classic tale. With her mother's warning in her ears, Carmine sets off on her bicycle with her trusty dog, Rufus. With all good intentions, Carmine means to head straight for Granny's. But Carmine is a dreamer and painter who's always in search of color and always seeks to capture new hues in her drawings. And this new drawing, the one she begins in the lovely forest clearing, just off the path to Granny's, must be her best yet. But then, you know how this tale goes. Or do you? A vibrantly illustrated, lively reworking of the familiar tale with plenty of colorful twists and turns.

Other Echoes
Adele Geras
David Fickling Books / Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385750544 $15.95, 144 pages,

This lyrical novel gives young readers a look at one teenage girl's past and how the memories that haunt her ultimately lead to her recovery. Eighteen-year-old Flora suffers from "nervous exhaustion" and is currently rehabilitating in her school sanitarium. While she rests, she starts to recall the time she lived in North Borneo, and the colorful, lush surroundings that inhabited the tropical island. But before her arrival, Borneo suffered many tragedies from World War II, including the creation of concentration camps there, and Japanese occupation. For many, the results of the war had an ever-lasting impact, and Flora soon learns this first-hand. Living in Borneo is difficult for Flora. An outsider among the other children, and often too fragile to keep up with their play, Flora finds herself lacking a true friend. Meeting Vinnie becomes her saving grave, even through Flora is two years her senior. Through Vinnie and her family, Flora learns about the history of the deserted house on the hill, and the wartime events that destroyed an innocent family Flora has seen a light in the house, and thinks that someone must be living there, despite what everyone says. So she stirs up what little courage she has to ride to the top of the hill and find out the truth once and for all. But what Flora finds will haunt her for years to come. For ages 12 and up.

Maya Running
Anjali Banerjee
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385746563 $15.95, 224 pages,

This delightful coming-of-age novel from a first-time novelist touches upon the universal themes of struggling to fit in and the magic of embracing your true self. It's 1978 and Maya Mukherjee is the only Indian girl at her small-town Canadian middle school. Born in India, but raised in Manitoba, Maya somehow doesn't feel she is a part of either culture. She longs to fit in at school, and have the local bad boy, Jamie Klassen fall for her, but at the same time she dreams of exploring the Bengal jungle and speaking Hindi with her Indian relatives. When her glamorous cousin Pinky arrives from India with an elephant statue of the god Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles, Maya believes her life may finally change. She asks Ganesh to turn things around and lead her to happiness, but as always, things are never quite as simple as they first appear. What ensues from her wishes is both hilarious and heartfelt. Maya will end up traveling to the other side of the world to set things straight with Ganesh and herself. For ages 12 and up.

Light Years
Tammar Stein
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0375830235 $15.95, 263 pages,

Set between contemporary Israel and the Unites States, "Light Years" is a skillfully crafted work that offers a highly personalized and emotional account of the ppolitical and soci-economic climate of the Middle East today. It tells the story of Maya Laor, a young woman who flees Israel and comes to the University of Virginia to study astronomy. Attempting to leave her violent and troublesome memories behind, Maya immerses herself in her studies. She is confronted with the pressures of building a new life in a foreign land, of opening herself to new friendships and new experiences. Yet amidst all of this, she remains unable to escape her memories of the past and is haunted by the images of her boyfriend's violent death, a death for which she feels responsible. As she navigates her way through the past, she hesitantly moves forward, desperately trying to reconcile the pride that she holds for her Israeli heritage with the hope that she harbors for her American future.

The Boyfriend List
E. Lockhart
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385732066 $15.95, 240 pages,

Open the pages of E. Lockhart's debut young adult novel, and enter the world of 15-year-old Ruby Oliver. Almost overnight, Rudy has gone from scocial butterfly to social misfit, all stemming from her break-up with her boyfriend and his subsequent new relationship with her best friend. How did this make Ruby a pariah? Well, let's start with the boyfriend list. It's the cause of her tought week. Tough month, actually. On top of your average tee angst, Ruby's lost her boyfriend, best friend, and ALL of her friends. In fact, virtually no one at Tate Prep is speaking to her these days. If this does not bring on massive panic attacks, what will? Ruby has already suffered five before her new age parents send her to see a shrink. When Ruby says they have nothing to discuss, Dr. Z suggests that perhaps developing a list of past boyfriends could give them something with which to start a dialogue. After Ruby throws a messy draft in the trash, how was she to know someone would pluck it out of the garbage? No wonder Ruby Oliver has panic attacks. Funny, warm and authentically agonizing. For ages 12 and up.

Disney Editions
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690 Body Insect Mammal Rock & Mineral

375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014

ISBN 0756610095 (Human)
ISBN 0756610109 (Insect)
ISBN 0756611393 (Mammal)
ISBN 0756611407 (Rock)
$17.99 each, 96 pages,

Following the launch of the e-guide series of books last fall, DK Publishing and Google continue the hardback series with homework resources in this new bath of tites: " Human Body," " Insect," " Mammal," and ", Rock & Mineral." The information is brought to life with intense color photos, 3-D models, maps, and data boxes. But the book is only half of it. Each book also has a corresponding website where children can find in-depth information on the book's topic. Every page contains e-inks that bring children to the exclusive, safe and secure website produced by DK and Google. The website features multimedia content, games and quizzes, and downloadable images handy for school reports. The websites will link users to age-appropriate, authoritative sites, which DK promises will be checked and regularly updated, enabling parents, teachers and children to access the best that the Internet has to offer, without the worry of encountering inappropriate material. For ages 8 and up.

World History Atlas
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
ISBN 6466744051 $50.00, 352 pages,

A compelling journey through human history, the "World History Atlas" is a meticulously researched portrait of humankind's impact upon the globe from ancient times to the present day. From early humans to the 21st century this is a panorama of 20,000 years, featuring the latest discoveries about our past and the history-defining events that have taken place in key regions around the world. The rise and fall of empires, the birth of nations, the growth of commerce and technology, migrations, culture, language, conflict and religion are all explored in depth through contemplated timelines and a detailed glossary. An unsurpassed visual chronology and an invaluable family reference, this revised and updated edition of "World History Atlas" is a definitive record or humankind's global story.

Agnes Parker Happy Camper?
Kathleen O'Dell
Dial Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
ISBN 0803729626 $16.99, 156 pages,

The first thing Agnes Parker and her best friend Prejean learn at science camp is that they won't be sharing the same cabin. Being apart, Agnes gets an earful of what others think of Prejean calling her "Supermodel of the World" and making comments about how beautiful and exotic her longtime friend is. All Agnes can think is: Good-old-quirts-milk-out-of-her-nose-when-she-laughs Prejean: a beauty queen? What if she starts acting like one? And then something happens that makes Agnes wonder: Has she started already? Fun times, camp pranks, and a very weird bunkmate all play a role as Agnes continues to become the girl she hopes to be, and maybe a happy camper after all. Fun summer reading for ages 9+.

Red Ridin' in the Hood and Other Cuentos
Patricia Santos Marcantonio
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374362416 $16.00, 186 pages,

Eleven classic tales are here retold with an injection of Latino culture, providing a twist on the traditional forms while sustaining a freshness all their own. The title story, "Red Ridin' in the Hood," moves the setting to the barrio, where Red decides to brave dangerous Forest Street in order to reach her sick abuelita and encounters the menacing wolf in a thumping low-rider Chevy. Some stories are set in the Mexican countryside. In "Belleza y La Bestia," the beautiful heroine is a defender of the Revolution and teaches the beast about the righteousness of the freedom fighters. "El Dia de los Muertos," a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, takes place in the time of the Aztexs and cast Orpheus as the feather craftsman Nochehauatl. These and the other cuentos in this book are further brought to life by abundant illustrations, both comical and poignant.

So Happy!
Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Anita Lobel
Greenwillow Books / Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060564830 $15.99, 32 pages,

A magic seed, a little rabbit, a narrow creek, a boy and a storm are the ingredients for a picture book about the many ways in which sadness can be transformed to happiness and the ways in which fate, chance, nature, and invention affect our lives and world. Profound topics yes, but in the hands of these two picture book masters, the story that is told is neither somber nor earnest. Rather, "So Happy!" is a hypnotic, bold and majestically illustrated adventure about a little boy who wakes up bored and about what happens next. Anita Lobel has taken Keven Henkes words and interpreted them with characteristic flair to produce vibrant paintings that spectacularly enhance this simple and powerful story, which extols the virtues of ingenuity and friendship.

Stuart Little
E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams and Rosemary Wells
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060282975 $24.95,

This year, E. B. White's legendary mouse celebrates 60 years of pint-sized adventure! "Stuart Little" -- the first children's book by beloved author E. B. White -- is one of the most cherished stories of all time and has been made into two live-action films by Sony Studios. HarperCollins Children's Books celebrates Stuart's 60th anniversary in print with four editions in elegant new packages that mark this milestone birthday. Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure. In this classic story, Stuart's greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the first time in his life and finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend? The new anniversary editions appear in color hardcover ($24.95; ISBN: 0060282975), black-and-white hardcover ($16.99; ISBN: 0060263954), color paperback ($8.99; ISBN: 064410927), and black-and-white paperback ($5.99; ISBN: 0064400565). The color editions feature Garth Williams's original drawings lovingly colorized by renowned illustrator Rosemary Wells.

Wolf Brother
Michelle Paver
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060728256 $16.99, 305 pages,

This epic journey by first-time children's author Michelle Paver, propels readers back to the ancient world of a prehistoric clan society, where a demon-bear is gaining power, and the world's only hope is a 12-year-old boy and his wolf-cub companion. Torak's journey takes him through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined. He is joined by an imaginative cast of characters as they battle to save their world. The first book in the "Chronicles of Ancient Darkness" trilogy.

Summer School! What Genius Thought That Up?
Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Grosset & Dunlap / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0448437406 $12.99, 156 pages

In the latest hilarious chapter book in the delightful "Hank Zipzer" series, summer school are two words in the English language that Hank doesn't want to learn. But there's no getting out of this one for Hank - summer school, here he comes! Will Hank have to spend the summer bored to death inside a sweltering classroom, or will he actually learn a cool lesson or two? Terrifically fun summer reading that kids 9-12 won't object to.

Cynthia Rylant
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 015205412X $16.00, 74 pages,

In prolific writer Cynthia Rylant's latest book she uses freeform poetry to tell the story of Boris, a big gray cat. Boris loves sleeping, and playing and exploring and hunting - and his owner loves him for all of his simple cat ways. But Boris, typical as he may be, is part of a much larger story in this moving exploration of love, longing, compassion, and most of all, the continuous give-and-take of companionship. For ages 14 and up.

A Book About Design
Mark Gonyea
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN 0805075755 $18.95,

Design is all about the perception of size, shape, and color, and this attractively illustrated book for children does a wonderful job demonstrating that fact. Mark Gonyea's colorful graphic images go a long way to illustrate the concepts outlined in the spare, conversational text. Complicated design does not equate good design, he poses by using simple shapes, lines, colors, and a wry sense of humor. Goyea shows why good design matters, and does a wonderful job opening up the world of design to make it accessible to young artists and non-artists alike.

Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury
Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
illustrated by Maribel Suarez
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN 0786819537 $19.99, 122 pages,

Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, authors and scholars of Latino literature, spent years culling popular and beloved lullabies, jump-rope sons, riddles, proverbs, and more from all over the Spanish-speaking world. The result is a comprehensive bilingual folklore collection - one of the most complete available in this country. Full of charm and humor, rich with the diversity of Latino cultures, this one-of-a-kind treasury is a warm introduction to Latino folklore for English speakers, and a trove of familiar favorites for Spanish speakers.

The Dating Game
Natalie Standiford
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 031611040X $9.99, 220 pages,

In book one of the new "Dating Game" series, by Natalie Standiford, we meet high-school sophomores Holly, Madison, and Lina, the stars of the sexy new series for older teens. When the girls are faces with a project in thein Interpersonal Human Development class (reade: Sex Ed), they design a website survey to find out their classmates' attitudes on dating, love and sex. To their surprise, the website becomes the talk of school and the three realize it has even greater potential as a dating service! But even as the three girls become matchmaking masters of the school, they still have their own problems to contend with. Will Mads get the hottest guy in school to notice her? Can Lina really be in love with her teacher? And will Holly squash the rumors that she is "easy"?

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez
Judy Goldschmidt
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 1595140182 $12.99, 208 pages,

Poor Raisin Rodriguez. She was minding her own business, happily living in Berkeley, CA, when her whole world was shaken up. Her parents divorced and her mom got remarried to a man from Philadelphia. Suddenly, she finds herself moving across the country - thousands of miles from her friends and life in California - where she has to get used to a new junior high, stepdad, stepsister, and a cross-dressing poodle named Countess. How will she survive this life-changing move? Raisin starts a blog called recording EVERY humiliating detail of her new life for her best friends back home, Pia and Claudia. A girl needs a little support when faced with the trials of living in a different state, with no friends, and absolutely nothing stylish to wear! And as if her new life in Philadelphia isn't miserable enough, her secret blog is discovered and printed out for the whole school to read - every mortifying detail!

Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls
Bennett Madison
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 1595140107 $9.99,

Lulu Dark is a teen detective with style and attitude - Nancy Drew for the new millennium. She is a chic, tough-talking city girl who never meant to get involved in a mystery. But when her favorite purse is stolen during a rock concert, Lulu knows she MUST get it back - after all, it was a one of a kind and the lead singer's phone number was inside! Lulu dives deep into the fray along with her friends Daisy and Charlie, and discovers a twisted mystery involving a rock star, a rich socialite, a loony land-lord, and a serious case of mistaken identity.

Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy
Ellen Potter
art by Peter Reynolds
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0399241620 $15.99, 252 pages,

What is it with Olivia Kidney and ghosts? No matter where she goes, they follow. Even when she and her klutzy handyman of a father start over in a new brownstone in New York City - owned by the mad, bad, and dangerous Ansel Plover - there is no escape from the weirdness that is Olivia Kidney's life. Their new living room is entirely submerged underwater, and Olivia has to navigate in a boat past bobbing furniture and snapping turtles just to get to her bedroom. Complete strangers show up in the middle of the night to practice bumping into walls. And then, of course, there are the ghosts. This house holds secrets and lots of them - Olivia can feel it. Why, she wonders, was she invited to live here? Come enter the amazing world of Olivia Kidney. At once moving and laugh-out-loud funny, it will forever capture your imagination. Ellen Potter is one of the freshest voices to come along in fiction since Lemony Snicket.

Friendship According to Humphrey
Betty G. Birney
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0399242643 $14.99, 150 pages

After the long winter vacation, Humphrey can't wait to see his friends in Room 26 again and find out what Mrs. Brisbane has planned for the class. But he's shocked by a big surprise on the first day back - a new class pet. Humphrey offers his paw in friendship, but Og the frog doesn't seem interested. Plus, the students are so interested in Og, they almost stop paying attention to Humphrey altogether. Humphrey doesn't like the MAD-BAD-SAD feelings he's had since Og came, but luckily he still gets to go home with different kids on the weekends. He loves helping Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. deal with a bully, Golden-Miranda get along with her stepsister, and a new student feel like she belongs. Friendship can be a tricky business, but if any hamster can become budies with a frog, Humphrey will find a way. Innocent fun for young readers 8-11.

Doll Jewelry
Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
ISBN 1584859768 $17.95, 32 pages,

You don't have to be a fan of the American Girls dolls to enjoy this cheerful craft kit - girls with a special doll of any kind will greatly appreciate the concept of creting fun and fancy jewelry for their favorite companions. A 32-page how-to book gives clear step-by-step directions for several different bracelets, necklaces, anklets and more, and seven adjacent compartments contain basic materials needed. It's all beautifully presented, but the cheapness of the items included is striking: just 3 strings of colored floss, 2 pieces of memory wire, and one piece of hemp cord, for instance. For the $17.95 retail price, smart shoppers are better off filling a basket with bulk quantities of the same items and finding how-to instructions in crafts magazines.

Boredom Blasters: Rainy Day Edition
Boredom Blasters: Travel Edition
John Lithgow
Running Press
125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
ISBN 0762422121 (Rainy Day)
ISBN 0762422130 (Travel) $14.95,

There's no getting around it, sitting in a car or on a plane for a long time is no fun for kids. John Lithgow's "Palooza" kits are new collections of activities that take everyday ideas and make something totally unexpected out of it. Each palooza contained in these interactive kits draws on your imagination, your unique point-of-view, and delivers engrossing action to really make the miles and minutes move. A 64-page book full of paloozas is all the guidance kids will need, and the box contains most of the items required to do them, including a lanyard wire; 15 chenille sticks; 12 sheets of wipe-off paper; a wipe-away market; a cleaning cloth; and 10 suction cups. Each palooza is broken into two sections: one explaining the basic activity, and the other suggesting more ideas for taking it to an even higher level of creativity. Creating individual constellations, making up a family "fight song," and writing a story about a favorite pet are just a few of the creative time-fillers housed inside the tidy gift package.

Fine Art Studio Drawing
Fine Art Studio Painting
Silver Dolphin
5880 Oberlin Drive, San Diego, CA 92121
ISBN 1592233279 (Drawing)
ISBN 1592233287 (Painting) $18.95,

The new "Fine Art Studio" series is a stroke of genius. "Fine Art Studio Drawing" encourages budding young artists to explore and examine the works of great artists like Matisse and Michelangelo. Accompanied by a complete drawing kit with artist's tools including a posable 6-inch artist's mannequin, textured drawing paper, portable sketchpad, and specialized pencils. "Fine Art Studio Drawing" offers step-by-step projects to help both novice and seasoned artists to discover their inner Leonardos. "Fine Art Studio Painting" gives aspiring painters the opportunity to examine the works of great painters such as Money and Frankenthaler and to study their techniques through the detailed illustrations, photographs, and how-to diagrams and then get hands-on with all the painter's tools included in the kit.

Rachel Cohn
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689866127 $15.95, 272 pages,

If Cyd Charise knows one thing, it's that Shrimp is her true love: the hottest pint-sized surfer-artist in San Francisco. "That boy," as her mother called him, was the primary cause of Cyd being grounded to Alcatraz, formerly known as her room, and is same boy who dumped Cyd before she left home to spend the summer in New York City. Now it's the start of senior year. Cyd has changed, but maybe Shrimp has changed too, and maybe Cyd and Shrimp will need to get to know each other all over again to figure out if it's for real. Can Cyd get back together with Shrimp and keep the peace with her mom? And can she get a life outside of her all-encmpassing boy radar? This sequel to "Gingerbread" has all the sharp humor and searing attitude of the original. In "Shrimp," Cyd might be a little older and a little wiser, but she's still the same irrepressible free spirit determined to find her own way in the world, on her own terms. For young adult readers.

Girls Can! Make It Happen
Rick Kupchella, illustrated by Marilyn Brown
Tristan Publishing
2300 Louisiana Ave. North, Suite B., Golden Valley, MN 55427
0972650431 $16.95

Written in verse, this sentimental picture book is intended to inspire girls with the well-worn message that they can do anything, but sets its sights too low. Included are the stories of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the US Supreme Court; Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut; and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, an Olympic medal winner in track and field. Though well-meaning, the enthusiastic "go for it" cheerleading is overly cute and comes up a little short, especially considering the fact that the women set up as examples here are rare exceptions to the normal society rule.

Blood Red Horse
K.M. Grant
Walker & Co.
435 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0802789609 $16.95, 278 pages

You need three things to become a brave and noble knight: a war horse, a fair maiden, and a just cause. Will has a horse - a small chestnut stallion with a white blaze in his brow. Ellie is a fair maiden, but she's supposed to marry Will's older brother, Gavin. And as for the cause, King Richard is calling for a Crusade. The Knights of England must go to the Holy Land to fight. Will and Gavin will go, blood will be shed, and lives will be taken. But through it all, two things will be constant: Ellie, and a blood red horse called Hosanna. A magical historical novel for young readers from first-time author K.M Grant.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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