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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 5 May 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Betsy's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf Harold's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Michael's Bookshelf Sharon's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vicki's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf Volk's Bookshelf  

Betsy's Bookshelf

Watching The Tree Limbs
Mary E. DeMuth
Glass Road Public Relations (publicity)
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
1576839265 $12.99

Watching The Tree Limbs by Mary E. DeMuth is a superbly crafted novel depicting the heart wrenching story of Mara Weatherall, a nine-year-old girl who suffers repeated rapes by a neighborhood boy, the lack of father and mother, and the poor living situation amidst an entirely African American community of her peers. Young Mara discovers that help from her best friend might help to create a better life. Watching The Tree Limbs is a novel about what a Christian pathway for a flailing child can accomplish. Watching The Tree Limbs is very highly recommended especially for Christian-fiction readers, as an outstandingly written and vividly detailed of a young girl finding a way out of the darkness when her only light is the hope of one day knowing anything of her parents.

Spiritual Birthline
Stephen E. Smallman
Crossway Books
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187
1581347626 $12.99

Spiritual Birthline: Understanding How We Experience The New Birth by Stephen E. Smallman (Executive Director of World Harvest Missions) is a liturgical study of the theories offering an interpretive and productive worship of the Spirit, and an acknowledgment of Christ and Christianity. Introducing readers to the "spiritual birthline" concept of God and religion, Spiritual Birthline carries readers through a spiritual journey and exploratory comprehension of genuine belief and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Spiritual Birthline is very strongly recommended to all subversive or progressive Christians searching for a helpful and intriguing comprehensive perspective of a most faithful and fulfilling religious pursuit.

Jump Start Your Future
Danielle Lee
Olive Press
PO Box 2056, Stillwater, MN 55082
0976929899 $12.99

Jump Start Your Future: A Guide For The College-Bound Christian by Danielle Lee (an English/Language Arts Teacher who currently teaches private classes through homeschool co-ops) is an informative guide specifically designed for the use of young Christians preparing to enter college life. Introducing readers to a wealth of helpful guidance tactics, practical strategies, and innovative ideas for the college and career search, financial aide opportunities, study skills and techniques, tips on research and the internet, secrets of successful students, worldviews at college, and discussion in the classroom. Jump Start Your Future is very highly recommended for all students, regardless of their denominational affiliation, who are searching for a well authored college guide written from the perspective of a Christian, and inclusive of all the facts and matters necessary for an aspiring college or university student.

Understanding The Bible From A To Z
Ron Rhodes
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
0736917659 $12.99 1-800-547-8979

A thoroughly "user friendly" reference tool, Understanding The Bible From A To Z: People, Places, And Facts To Make The Bible Come Alive by Ron Rhodes (President of Reasoning from The Scriptures Ministries) is a welcome instructional reference to an often difficult-to-understand biblical passage. Deftly exploring the timeless truths and understandings of the biblical narrative, Understanding The Bible From A To Z comprehensively presents readers with a thorough and concise collection of clear and helpful definitions. Understanding The Bible From A To Z is very strongly recommended to all students of the Bible, particularly those new to its study, for its invaluable grasp and complete listing of all unfamiliar words and their contemporary or historical meanings as used in the Bible.

444 Surprising Quotes About Jesus
Isabella D. Bunn
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55438
0764201611 $9.99

Deftly compiled by international lawyer and theologian Isabella D. Bunn, 444 Surprising Quotes About Jesus: A Treasury Of Inspiring Thoughts And Classic Quotations is an inspirational collection of sayings, quotes, words, phrases, and treasured wisdom regarding the life, teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Including sub-chapters such as: Jesus As God And Man; The Life And Teachings Of Jesus; The Love Of Jesus; Life In Christ; Jesus As Savior; The Power Of The Cross; Images Of Jesus; Jesus And History; and His Spiritual Legacy, 444 Surprising Quotes About Jesus substantively contributes to an enlightened and enlightening understanding of Jesus Christ's enduring influence and timeless wisdom. 444 Surprising Quotes About Jesus is very highly recommended reading for all Christian readers regardless of denominational affiliation. "Apart from Christ we know neither what our life nor death is; we do not know what God is nor what we ourselves are." Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

The Wide-Eyed Wonder Years
Lorilee Craker
Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
080073064X $12.99

The Wide-Eyed Wonder Years A Mommy Guide To Preschool Daze by author and parenting expert Lorilee Craker is a knowledgeable collection of specific tactics and productive strategies for creatively assisting young mothers with their child's upbringing. As children may be often difficult or high-maintenance in their daily life, The Wide-Eyed Wonder Years incorporates a religious perspective to provide readers with an expansive wisdom of psychological sound approaches for easing a child through such issues as the "boogeyman", their eating habits, handling embarrassing situations, releasing the "inner red-hot mama", giving confidence to dependant or clingy children, and so much more. The Wide-Eyed Wonder Years is strongly recommended for all young Christian mothers searching for an overall guide to helping their children throughout the many difficult aspects of childhood.

Choosing Thankfulness
First Place Bible Study Series
Gospel Light
4588 Interstate Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45246
0830738185 $19.99

Choosing Thankfulness: A Comprehensive Biblical Study On Thankfulness by the biblical based organization First Place as an addition to the "Bible Study Series" as a productive, "reader friendly" guide for daily Bible study. Including ten weekly studies with a day by day preparation process, Choosing Thankfulness knowledgeably presents motivational spiritual practices for with Scripture memory verses, Wellness Worksheets, personal Commitment Records, two weeks of Menu Plans, a Leader's Discussion Guide, as well as an accompanying "Moving To The Word" aerobic exercise DVD for personal fitness. Choosing Thankfulness is very highly recommended reading, especially for those Christian readers with out-of-control eating habits who are searching for God's promise and unfailing love an in need of a definitive collection of healthy and effective strategies for weight-loss and fit body workouts.

Denise Vezey
Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
0781442028 $12.99 1-800-323-7543

Author, wife, mother, and lay counselor of twenty years' experience Denise Vezey presents Sizzle! Seven Secrets to Ignite Your Marriage, a Christian self-help guide to aid married couples in rekindling passion and deepening their connection for one another according to God's plan. Chapters explore such topics as the importance of avoiding unrealistic expectations of perfection, learning to accept how intimacy changes over decades, and God's view of romance and fun - including the importance of making time and being reliable for one's spouse. A relationship self- help guide that draws equally upon psychology, common sense, personal experience, and Scripture, Sizzle! is written especially for Christian wives, but holds a wealth of important secrets for any Christian husbands bold enough to peek between the covers also.

Preparing Sunday Dinner
June Alliman Yoder et al
Herald Press
616 Walnut Avenue, Scottdale, PA 15683-1999
0836193210 $18.99 1-800-759-4447

Collectively authored by the team of June Alliman Yoder, Marlene Kropf, and Rebecca Slough, Preparing Sunday: A Collaborative Approach To Worship And Preaching is an extensive, in-depth study of theological designs presented throughout the year in Christian ritual and celebration. Gathering comprehensive analysis of the Christological Seasons of Advent, Christmas-Epiphany, Lent-Holy Week, Easter-to-Pentecost, and the ordinary times between. A welcome addition to personal, seminary, and church reference libraries, Preparing Sunday Dinner provides readers with an invaluable compendium style resource for understanding of the significant variants, lore and reasoning with respect to Christian worship.

Betsy L. Hogan

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Prairie School
H. Allen Brooks
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
039373191X $25.00 1-800-233-4830

Award-winning architecture scholar and former president of the Society of Architectural Historians H. Allen Brooks presents The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Midwest Contemporaries, an in-depth discussion of the American architectural development and the "Prairie School", a regional manifestation of a forward-thinking reform movement in the visual arts. Inspired by Louis Sullivan and brought to fruition by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Prairie School sought to reinvent methods of architectural expression while retaining practicality, and often featured angular forms (much better than flat-topped forms in lands with heavy snowfall upon local roofs) and intricate interior designs. Illustrated with a copious amount of black-and-white photographs and diagrams, The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Midwest Contemporaries draws heavily upon previously unpublished material, original documentation, and interviews to recount the course of the movement, including how and why it came into existence, its achievements, its foibles, and its unfortunate end. Highly recommended for architectural scholars and enthusiasts.

History May Be Searched in Vain
Sherman L. Fleek
The Arthur H. Clark Company
PO Box 14707, Spokane, WA 99214
0870623435 $37.50 1-800-842-9286

History May Be Searched in Vain: A Military History of the Mormon Battalion is an in-depth historical study of the only religious unit in American military history - the Mormon battalion, which was recruited entirely from one religious body and had a religious title as the unit designation. Though the battalion served in the Mexican War and marched across the Southwest to California, it never engaged in battle, and has consequently been ignored by military historians. History May Be Searched in Vain seeks to rectify this oversight by delving into more than eighty diaries, journals, memoirs, and typed manuscript copies prepared by battalion members, including the journal of Dr. George B. Sanderson, widely feared and hated in Mormon legend as "Dr. Death". Illustrated with a handful of maps and black-and-white photographs, History May Be Searched in Vain spares no effort in its minute and accurate depiction of the battalion's unique formation and composition, daily life, strategic role, and legacy.

Arthur Hugh Clough: A Poet's Life
Anthony Kenny
The Continuum Publishing Group
15 East 26th Street, #17, New York, NY 10010-1505
0826473822 $39.95 1-800-561-7704

Written by a former President of the British Academy and Chair of the Board of the British Library, Arthur Hugh Clough: A Poet's Life is the full-scale biography of one of the Victorian era's most modern and forward-thinking British poets. Though his work fell into relative obscurity immediately after his death, it was revitalized in the Second World War when Winston Churchill quoted lines from "Say not the struggle naught availeth" during his efforts to attain American cooperation, including "Westward, look, the land is bright." Tracing Clough's life from his childhood to his schooling to his years in London, his marriage, and his final days, Arthur Hugh Clough: A Poet's Life examines the influence of Clough's life experiences upon his poetry at each stage, the important role that women played in his life and particularly in influencing his love poetry, the transitions of his character and personality, and much more. Black-and-white photographs and an index round out this exceptionally detailed portrayal and literary study.

Cassell's Battlefields of Britain & Ireland
Richard Brooks
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
c/o Casemate
2114 Darby Road, Havertown, PA 19083
0304363332 $49.95 1-610-853-9131

Cassell's Battlefields of Britain & Ireland is an exhaustive survey of military actions fought upon British and Irish soil throughout history, from 55 B.C. to 1940. Organized by chronology, Cassell's Battlefields of Britain & Ireland chronicles major events site by site with battle statistics and descriptions ideal for casual readers and professional historians alike. Over 100 detailed battle maps round out this hefty compendium, which tackles its immense subject matter in as orderly a fashion as possible. Enthusiastically recommended for library and military history collections.

Campaign for Corinth Blood in Mississippi
Steven Nathaniel Dossman
McWhiney Foundation Press
McMurry University, Box 637, Abilene, TX 79697
1893114511 $14.95 1-325-793-4682

Written by a descendant of men who battled at Corinth, Campaign for Corinth: Blood in Mississippi examines the events through which the quiet little town of Corinth, Mississippi because one of the South's key strongholds during the American Civil War. Captured after a siege by Federal General Henry Halleck, Corinth became a target of Southern efforts to drive back the Union, and when the bloody campaign for Corinth reached its height, it paved the way for Grant's Vicksburg campaign and the ultimate fate of the Confederacy in the Mississippi Valley. A straightforward and harshly honest accounting of military history, accessible to lay readers and historians alike, and illustrated with occasional black-and-white photographs and maps.

Able Greenspan

Harold's Bookshelf

Crystal Reports XI for Developers
David McAmis
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue, Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584504110, $49.95, 417 pp.

Crystal Reports is one of the most ubiquitous software packages for turning raw data into useful information. Whether it is a stand alone package or the reporting portion of another program it seems everyone is either using canned reports or writing custom ones with Crystal Reports at some point. In this book the author takes the reader through the process of creating the various types of reports available with Crystal Reports. Starting with the most basic reports that simply list the results he quickly moves the reader through sorting, totaling, grouping, and multiple other ways of organizing your data. From there he moves the reader through the creation of much more complex reports including consolidated ones with multiple sub-reports. In this book you will find everything you need to learn how to use Crystal Reports to its fullest potential including how to integrate it into your own programs. I wish I had had this book available to me when I was first learning Crystal Reports. Crystal Reports XI for Developers is highly recommended.

The VMWare Workstation 5 Handbook
Steven S. Warren
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue, Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503939, $44.95, 324 pp.

When it comes to virtual computers installed on one physical computer nobody does it quite as well as VMWare. Version 5 of their workstation product is a significant improvement over earlier versions with easier installation, better discovery of available hardware, and many other features. While it is easy enough to install a basic system and the software pretty much installs itself the documentation of VMWare has always been lacking. This book fills that void by supplying a superb manual to match the superb software product. The author takes a kind of quick start approach as he goes through installation and upgrading, and then moves straight to creating a virtual machine so you can get working with it right away. From there he moves to some of the more advanced features such as working with snapshots, cloning a virtual machine, and working with teams. This is followed by a section on networking virtual machines, performance tuning, and optimization. He even includes an excellent section on tips and tricks. If you have the need for more than one operating system installed on your computer or just want to work with more than one then virtual machines is the easiest way to go about it. No rebooting and working in just one system at a time like a dual-boot configuration, you just run them both at once and switch back and forth as needed. And it will support more than just two virtual machines running at the same time. The VMWare Workstation 5 Handbook is highly recommended to anyone interested in the VMWare product.

Sarbanes-Oxley IT Compliance Using COBIT and Open Source Tools
Christian B. Lahti, Roderick Peterson
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
ISBN: 1597490369, $49.95, 280 pp.

Compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a legal requirement for publicly traded companies. The problem with the Act is that it requires things like adequate internal control structure and a report on the effectiveness of the internal control structure and procedures while not providing any guidance or any specific mention of information technology implications. Luckily there are several other more specific standards to follow, with the most common among auditors being COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology).

This book concentrates on using various open source tools (included on a CD with the book) to audit and document your system for compliance with COBIT. The authors take the reader through a detailed walk through the COBIT components and explain each one as well as how to implement it successfully. If it is followed the result is a sustainable system that is well documented, has set policies to prevent problems, has solid controls, and establishes responsibilities for change and improvements. Sarbanes-Oxley IT Compliance Using COBIT and Open Source Tools is highly recommended for anyone preparing to undergo and Sarbanes-Oxley audit but is also highly recommended to others because it is so useful for documenting your system and setting responsibility for changes to it.

Vmware ESX Server
Al Muller, Seburn Wilson, Don Happe, & Gary J. Humphrey
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
ISBN: 1597490199, $49.95, 448 pp.

VMware is arguably the best virtualization program available today and I would agree with that opinion. VMware ESX Server is their server virtualization product and just like all of their other products it is a stellar performer. However documentation has never been their strong point and this book tries to resolve that problem. Server virtualization allows multiple server operating systems to reside on the same physical machine and be accessed as though they were separate physical servers. This resolves a multitude of problems including situations where different software servers don't work well on the same physical server. For example, many IT departments will not put Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL on the same production server or generally don't like to run the Web Server, database server, and mail server on the same physical computer.

This book is written so the average computer administrator can easily install Vmware ESX Server on one physical computer and install as many virtual servers as needed or supported by the hardware without any problems. It even includes coverage of how to installs different server operating systems including how to install Linux on one virtual server and Windows 2003 on another on the same physical computer. However, for anything out of the ordinary the information is often not sufficiently detailed to allow the reader to completely setup the component. For example, the section on network card bonding does not contain sufficient information to actually configure it but does point the reader to a white paper on the subject. On the other hand, ESX server installation and basic administration are both well done and these subjects are the main focus of the book. If you are looking for more advanced information then this is not the book you are looking for, but if you are looking for your first book on the subject and just getting your feet wet with the product then Vmware ESX Server is highly recommended.

Skype Me!
Michael Gough
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
ISBN: 1597490326, $34.95, 401 pp.

Skype is a simple to implement Voice Over IP (VOIP) solution for the average computer user. If you are tired of long-distance charges, want to be able to tell when someone is online and you can call them, chat in a secure, encrypted environment, engage in video chatting with others, or call someone who has a regular phone system at substantially reduced rates then Skype may be the product you need. This book covers installation, configuration, and basic usage as well as configuring advanced features and personalizing your Skype. While this is useful, I found the software to be so user friendly that it was easy to figure out most of this by just exploring the basic options of the system. That being said Chapters seven and eight were well worth the price of the book by themselves. These chapters cover software and hardware add-ons that can greatly enhance your Skype system and make it work the way you would like it to. The final two sections of the book cover setting up Skype in a business environment and writing custom interfaces to it by accessing the Skype API. This section includes important information on how to set up Skype behind a firewall. Skype Me is a highly recommended purchase and a great way to access the VOIP world for anyone with a computer and good Internet access speed.

Creating Web Sites
Matthew MacDonald
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596008422, $29.95, 501 pp.

Finally someone has written a book about creating a web site that pulls together the scattered points of focus of the programming, design, and marketing components. Generally each of these has their own viewpoint of how a website should be designed or used and they often conflict. In this book Matthew MacDonald teaches the basics of html programming but then follows that up by moving the reader forward into the world of website design. In this section he points out that while programmers may think one way another design might be better from a user interface standpoint and explains why this is the case. He does an excellent job of explaining why one method is preferred over another and when it would not be the preferred choice. Beyond programming the author also includes information on connecting with your audience, using keywords to get search engine rankings and similar marketing information. The book includes some basic information on JavaScript, Dynamic HTML, creating Fancy Buttons, and even creating a blog. This book does not cover any of those areas in detail and if you are an average programmer in any of those disciplines you will find no programming information that you don't already know. On the other hand, the programming books delve deeper into programming without ever giving the reader the entire picture of how it all must work together to provide a complete experience for everyone involved. In short Creating Web Sites contains all the basics you need in order to create a basic site that is attractive and creates a pleasant experience for a visitor and is a recommended read.

Internet Forensics
Robert Jones
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 059610006X, $39.95, 216 pp.

Although there are much larger books on the market that profess to teach the reader about how the Internet works and how spammers, virus creators, and other denizens of the Internet ply their trade and what you can do about it, none do as thorough a job as this one. The author covers problems with email, obfuscation of a URL, viewing web site code, downloading complete web sites, cookies, redirection, web browsers and what they tell the sites about you, document forgery, and patterns of activity. Concisely written, with the author getting straight to the point without the fluff of many other books, this is easily one of the best books on Internet Forensics available today. The author writes well and has a real knack for explaining things in a way everyone can understand. As a result it is easy to follow his thinking and logic at all times. Internet Forensics is highly recommended to anyone interested in this subject.

Skype Hacks
Andrew Sheppard
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596101899, $24.95, 312 pp.

Skype is one of the most popular VOIP applications for the individual user and small office on the market today. If you have already installed it or are considering installing it then you will want this book so you can configure it to work the way you want it to work and head off any problems before they occur. The first thing I have to say about Skype is that it is so user friendly that many of the hacks in this book are unnecessary. It is easy enough to figure out how to make conference calls, transfer calls, forward calls and do various other common tasks. On the other hand, there are a lot of useful tips including how to claim your money back if something goes wrong, avoiding additional mobile phone charges, building a Skype server, working with routers, using Skype at work, working with privacy issues, and add-on products. Because Skype is a peer-to-peer network service it is very important to understand the privacy and security issues and the author does a great job of both explaining them as well as how to work with them. Skype Hacks is highly recommended for advanced computer users or anyone responsible for administering Skype in a business environment.

Q & A with Point of Grace
Nancy Alcorn
Howard Publishing Company, Inc.
3117 North Seventh Street, West Monroe, LA 71291-2227
ISBN: 1582294631, $9.99, 136 pp.

Point of Grace is a popular Christian singing group with a particular attraction to teenage girls. As part of their ministry they regularly have conferences called Girls of Grace that are directed at teenage girls. This book is a collection of common questions and answers from those conferences. The questions cover a vast area of concerns from dating, friends, family, boyfriends, love, sex, faith, emotions, and other issues. The end result is a book of Christian based answers and guidance for girls going through common teenage issues. Q & A with Point of Grace is a highly recommended book both for teenage girls and for parents seeking to understand, or remember, the problems of being a teenage girl and how that has changed today.

The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick
Michael Still
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590595904, $49.95, 320 pp.

Like many other open source software products ImageMagick has always suffered from poor documentation. That problem is helped considerably with the publication of The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick. For those who are used to working with fancy graphical interfaces ImageMagick will be quite a shock. It uses a command line interface which makes it easy to use put into your own programs and simply call or build the appropriate command line to produce the desired results. This book is designed for those readers who want to get right to work with the command-line tools or writing code to take advantage of the programming interface. Because of the ability of the software to make complex adjustments to images through the command line this book clearly demonstrates how to make quick changes without opening large complex programs. Some of the areas covered include resizing, changing compressions, blurring, charcoal effects, adding noise, and dithering. The last few chapters concentrate on programming with ImageMagick and Perl, C, Ruby, and PHP. A command line graphics program is not for everyone and especially so with all the powerful graphics programs available on the market today. However, if you want to write your own graphic transformation program or include that ability in your own interface then this is one of the easiest ways to implement it and The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick is the best documentation available for this product. That does not mean it could not be better. It could be much better and there are a lot of abilities that are not covered in much detail, but it is still the best documentation I have seen.

Blueprints for Success: Networking
Bette Daoust, Ph.D.
Blueprint Books
PO Box 10757, Pleasanton, CA 94588
ISBN: 1883955483, $16.95, 201 pp.

If there is one common thread that runs through business networking groups then that thread seems to be people attending the meetings without really understanding how to use them to their advantage. This is true whether it is a professional networking group, chamber of commerce group, or just ad hoc networking opportunity. Filling this information gap between just attending a meeting and using it to successfully network is what this book is about. Inside are 150 specific tips and pieces of advice to help move you from just another person seeking to get your business card into as many hands as possible to one of the few that actually establish a network of referral sources. Some of the advice is very general in nature but others are very specific. For example, some of the topics include questions to ask, how to collect business cards, evaluating a group to find quality groups, reasons to join a group, the best alliances to make, drawing the line in an alliance, speaking engagements, getting to the right people, business card marketing, and press releases. "Blueprints for Success: Networking" is a highly recommended book and an excellent source of advice on how to network successfully.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Cuba Project
Peter Pavia
ISBN: 1403966036, $24.95

This is an interesting though biased account of American-Cuban relations during the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administration. This nonfiction work digs deep into Havana when American mobsters ran casinos in the 1950s as Hollywood stars loved pre-Castro Cuba as a playground in which they could buy anything including items illegal in the States. The odd events take a twist with the formation of the FBI Tamale Squad (don't ask why) as an anti communist move loaded with plenty of money and easy for Castro to place moles inside it. Looking back, Castro was the moralist kicking out a hedonistic dictator, gangsters and depraved wealthy Americans. Though lacking the points of view of Castro and his loyalists, Peter Pavia has written an intriguing look from the perspective of the Cuban exile and American participants (including the CIA) in their efforts to remove Castro from power circa 1959-1963 especially with the Bay of Pugs fiasco. THE CUBA PROJECT is also much more as Mr. Pavia also presents a cautionary undertone that leads readers to ponder perhaps America is repeating many of the same errors today.

James Byron Huggins
Whitaker House
1030 Hunt Valley Circle, New Kensington, Pa. 15068
ISBN: 0883688182, $12.99

After almost a quarter of a century as a Special Forces Officer and a police detective, Michael Thorn takes an early retirement to spend his time with his family. He buys a mansion in Cedar Ridge, Massachusetts thirty miles from Salem but on his very first night in their new home, Thorn hears a funny noise in the basement. When he knocks down the wall where the noise is coming from Thorn finds a skeleton with silver manacles around his hands and writing on them. When the police arrive the skeleton is missing. The local priest feels that something evil was here and soon they figure out that the skeleton was that of Jannes, the magician of Egypt defeated by Moses. The sorcerer made a pact eons ago with a demon of immense power and now that he is free, he intends to rule just like he did in Ancient Egypt. Priests, nuns, the Assassini warriors of the church and Thorn work together to defeat this evil but are the faith of God's warriors strong enough to defeat this undead sorcerer? This novel is a fantastic supernatural good vs. evil thriller in which the antagonist uses dark magic while the heroes counter with the power of prayer. Thorn is an amazing protagonist who calmly accepts the fact that he will have to fight a supernatural evil that has seen many civilizations rise and fall. There are plenty of battle scenes but the best part of SORCERER is the characters. The humans are very realistic and portrayed as ordinary people called to do something that could get them killed yet all are willing to do so in order that evil doesn't gain a stronger foothold on earth than it already has. James Byron Huggins' message to his readers, cleverly imbued in the storyline, is that with faith all things are possible.

The Scam
James Byron Huggins
Whitaker House
1030 Hunt Valley Circle, New Kensington, Pa. 15068
ISBN: 0883688174, $12.99

The FBI cell is formed to perform a specialized top secret mission: to destroy the brilliant Iceman whose fingers are seemingly in everything including the FBI and CIA leadership and probably the White House. The unknown criminal mastermind has pulled off scandals and capers worth billions and has been successful at it for decades murdering people along the way. The Feds want to finally melt the Iceman because rumors of his latest escapade send shivers of fear up and down their spines. Team leader Logan was selected because he has a history of success as a renegade. He can understand why super hacker Blackfoot was placed on the team, but does not comprehend why rookie Agent Jonathan Malone was chosen. In fact the brass believes Malone is the key joker as he has a personnel vendetta since the Iceman assassinated his parents. However the Iceman is cometh as his tentacles are everywhere and he manipulates the cat and mouse encounter with the rodents that the FBI has sent after him. THE SCAM is a terrific conspiracy thriller filled with twists and complexities that will stun the audience yet seem right. With all the action and spins, the key cast members seem authentic especially the FBI team and the mystical Iceman, whose shadowy world is slowly provided over the course of the exciting story line. James Byron Huggins is at his best with this battle between the overmatched FBI heroes and the sinister somewhat ethereal villainous legend who owns everyone except his current opponents.

David Stahler Jr.
ISBN: 0060872322, $16.99, 272 pp.

In their natural form they are hideous monsters who are shapeshifters taking the form of the person they kill. They have no conscience and they live among us without us being aware of it. They can't hold their assumed shape indefinitely so when they revert to their natural form they leave behind people who never know what happened to those who disappeared. One doppelganger (they have no names) has just been kicked out of his home by his mother and the first person he kills is a wino who wants to die. In that form he reaches Bakersville where a high school football star Chris Parker beats on him until he kills him and takes the teen's form. He takes over Chris' life and notices that "his" father verbally abuses and physically hits "his" younger sister Echo. He wonders who the real monster is as he tries to protect Echo and maintain a relationship with Amber who he has come to love. He makes a place for himself but he knows that it can't be permanent because he will shift back into his natural form soon. DOPPELGANGER is a fantastic young adult urban fantasy in which the one who calls himself a monster regrets what he has to do while his human "father" is the real fiend who abuses those he should cherish. The doppelganger is an interesting creature who is unlike the rest of his race because he doesn't like to kill, wants to know love and other good human emotions, and genuinely cares about the Parker females. Amber is his biggest regret because he knows that in the near future he will lose her but he also realizes "you've got to accept the best of a bad situation", which in his case is his entire life.

Street Legal
Bill Kent
ISBN: 0312328850, $24.95

Near the Hot Lead Club, Philadelphia Press' Mr. Action columnist twenty-two years old Amazonian reporter Andrea "Andy" Cosicki saw the murder of attorney Charles "Sandman" Muckler first hand. Known for "pouring sand into the legal machinery", the Sandman sat in his vehicle as it filled with sand. After a police interview, Andy asks her mentor sexagenarian obit writer Shep Ladderback if he knew the victim; he responds that he heard of the late attorney and then the agoraphobic offers her an assignment to investigate the Delaware Valley Law Watch. Founded by Schuyler Nordvahl, the Watch maintains a list of attorneys they feel cross the ethical line. Shep believes that the watch is not just suing lawyers for malpractice; he thinks they are maintaining a killing list that bars attorneys permanently. Andy knows better than to accept a Shep assignment that always leads to places she does not want to go, but the reporter still makes inquiries starting with asking who Sir Edward Coke was. STREET LEGAL is a fine entry in the eccentric Cosicki-Ladderback investigative journalism series. The relationship between Andy and Shep remains fresh as he encourages her to be the best reporter on the beat and she promotes his going outside to see the sites of the city even on a "bleak afternoon". Andy's inquiries are fun to follow though the victims never seem more like cartoon versions of stereotypical shyster lawyers manipulating the system. Still fans will enjoy the latest Cosicki-Ladderback thriller.

Cold Kill
David Lawrence
ISBN: 0312347413, $23.95

London Detective Stella Mooney emotionally struggles with having to kill someone in the line of duty though as the brass determined she had no choice and (see NOTHING LIKE THE NIGHT) acted in self defense. However, Stella has no time for self pity and stops seeing therapist Dr. Anne Beaumont when she is assigned the case of a brutal serial killer targeting young females such as Valerie Blake who was raped and ritually sliced. The case appears solved when Robert Kimber confesses to the latest homicide. However, when questioned by Valerie he seems vague about specific details and there is a lack of any forensic evidence linking him to any crime. This forces a reluctant Mooney to release him though she is certain the unhinged Kimber is not the killer. More ferocious murders with a modified signature follow leading to Mooney and others to wonder if she freed a guilty person who modified the M.O. COLD KILL is a refreshing police procedural with fully developed characters, lot of action and the plot takes some shocking twists that will totally surprise the reader who will have a hard time waiting to see what happens next. The serial killer story line is fast-paced as Stella struggles with a difficult case after still not being fully recovered from having to take a life. Fans who appreciate a complex murder mystery will want to read David Lawrence's tense thriller.

Murder at the Monks' Table
Sister Carol Anne O'Marie
ISBN: 0312357672, $23.95

The relatives of Sister Eileen buy her and her friend Sister Mary Helen tickets to attend the Oyster Festival in Ballyclarin, Ireland. The two nuns appreciate the kind gesture and quickly enjoy all types of activities at the gala. They especially gain pleasure meeting some of the local eccentric residents. The good time comes to an abrupt halt when Sister Mary Helen discovers the murdered body of detested reporter Willie Ward in the ladies' bathroom at the Monk's Table. Detective Inspectors White and Reedy investigate; they quickly learn the victim made many enemies who would want him dead and from the San Francisco Police department that the two nuns tend to get involved in homicide investigations (see REQUIEM AT THE REFUGE). Though they caution the Sisters to stay out of their investigation and both try to adhere to the official warning, Sister Mary Helen and Sister Eileen keep stumbling into the middle of the case. The killer is obvious and the clues found by the Sisters are more caused by chance than real investigating, yet readers will love this delightful Irish police procedural-amateur sleuth tale. The story line is amusing as the two detectives begin to wonder if the visiting Sisters have heavenly intervention as they seem to lurch from one clue to another that the cops missed. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest traveling escapades of the Nuns sleuthing on the run.

If You Could See Me Now: A Chronicle of Identity and Adoption
Michael Mewshaw
ISBN: 1932961208, $23.95, 240 pp.

The saga began for Michael Mewshaw with a call from his half-sister Karen in Maryland while he was dining with his wife and their son. Karen informs him that Amy from California asked her if she is her biological mother. Michael calls Amy who asks him if he might be her biological father as she insists she does not need a parent having been raised by loving one, but she wants her medical history because she will soon marry and have children one day. Michael knows the saga truly began in 1964 with his college girlfriend Adrienne Daly, but before providing any response to Amy, he investigates the veracity of what she claims. It has been three decades since he last spoke with the now top Republican official Adrienne, Michael decides to help Amy though he is not related to her in any way. This terrific memoir will grip from the onset when Karen calls her sibling and never lets readers go even after we finish, as Michael tries to help Amy, but in doing so looks deep inside himself. Michael Mewshaw bears open the core of his essence in this powerful look at who a person is, as he ponders whether someone is a product of the environment, the DNA, or some hybrid. Nonfiction readers will want to peruse this powerful soul searcher.

A Season of Fire and Ice
Lloyd Zimpel
ISBN: 1932961194, $23.95, 256 pp.

Gerhardt Praeger, an educated farmer, appreciates his pragmatic wife Ma as they raise seven sons on the often hostile Dakota plains. He begins to write his thoughts of events in a journal (diaries are for females) starting in 1882 with the new settler Leo Beidierman and the Swede's widow. Over the years as he often scribes in his journal Gerhardt finds Beiderman's success and luck unbelievable and envies the man especially after Beiderman befriends his two youngest sons. Still when natural disasters occur, all the people residing nearby help one another even when they are jealous of one of them. A SEASON OF FIRE AND ICE is a superb historical that provides insight into the harsh life of living in the Dakota during the 1880s. Nature plays such a strong role in shaping the residents that it is more than just background, it serves as a powerful antagonist at times with floods, blizzards, and droughts often. Loyalty within families and with neighbors is the norm when calamity happens whether that be man-made or natural. Americana readers will enjoy this first hand fictionalized account (and its "interleafs") of five years in the lives of people in the late nineteenth century.

The Passion of Mary Magdalen
Elizabeth Cunningham
Monkfish (FSG)
ISBN: 0976684306, $29.95

In Rome the slave trader auctions off big "Red", who insists her name is Maeve Rhuard and that she is daughter to warrior witches. Though beaten and raped and kept in chains the Celtic female has quite a mouth in five languages. The Domina buys Red to serve in her stable as a whore. As she learns her trade, her red hair in two places and larger than life size attract customers, Maeve reflects on her lost love Esus, a man whose life she saved his life at the cost of her own. Shockingly she also meets in her visions a despondent Isis, who wonders if her time is coming to an end. Once freed, Maeve heads to Palestine seeking her Esus while also becoming a priestess-whore at the Temple of Isis Magdala, which thanks to her skills soon becomes known to its customers as Temple Magdalen, the hottest workhouse in the Galilee. One day soon she will serve a special client in more ways than one. Mary Magdalena's reputation as a whore is used as the basis for a deep biographical fiction novel that brings to life the first century Mediterranean area especially in Rome and in Palestine. Maeve is a terrific protagonist from the moment she calls potential buyers names and never slows down until the final fig tree jamboree with the Gospels. Ironically though many will condemn Elizabeth Cunningham's work as blasphemy and irreverent, the well written and entertaining THE PASSION OF MARY MAGDALEN is actually virtuous, spiritual and relevant as God's tent is inclusive with room for everyone.

Unspoken Fear
Hunter Morgan
ISBN: 082177946X, $6.99, 448 pp.

Rachel accompanied by her four year old daughter Mallory arrives at the Sussex County Correctional Facility to take home her former spouse Noah, who spent five years there for vehicular homicide while driving under the influence. Noah, an ex-priest, blames himself for his still beloved Rachel no longer smiling while also pondering who the father of the little girl is. His two children with Rachel are both dead. Not long after Noah returns to the vineyard home of his parents where Rachel, Mallory, and idiot savant Mattie McConnell live, someone stones their neighbor Johnny Leger to death. Detective Chief Snowden Calloway and Detective Sergeant Delilah Swift believe Noah knows something about the homicide, but is not forthcoming with information. As they make inquiries, Noah wonders if he might be dangerous as he blacked-out at the time the murder occurred. This is a terrific thriller that from the start has the audience wondering if a fallen angel is doing the killing yet with potential paranormal intervention, the tale holds together as a police procedural mostly from the perspectives of Noah and Rachel. The story line is fast-paced as Noah holds himself at fault for what happened especially as he sees the sadness of Rachel and how much Mattie displays he let him down too. The strong support cast keeps the thriller from collapsing into a maudlin serial killer second chance at love if he is not the culprit. Though at times over the top, especially with Azrael and the voice, fans will enjoy Hunter Morgan's solid tale.

A Student of Living Things
Susan Richards Shreve
ISBN: 0670037583, $24.95

Claire Frayn is a post graduate student majoring in biology at George Washington University; her brother Steven is studying law at the school and enjoys writing articles criticizing the government. Claire and Steven head to the university together while their parents debate his latest condemnation, this time of the Department of Justice's use of the Freedom for Democracy Act to trample on individual rights under the guise of keeping people safe. At the school's library, an assassin shoots and kills Steven right near Claire. Claire goes through the five steps of grief, but wants revenge against the killer who conveniently escapes law enforcement; however she feels helpless as she has no idea who he or she is or how to uncover the culprit's identity. From Michigan, music composer Victor Duarte contacts Claire informing her he can help her with her need to avenge her sibling. She is enticed by his offer as her family remains devastated by the tragedy and is not there for her. However, as Claire heals she begins to ponder who charismatic Victor is, as he seems to know too much yet the second civil war in her mind began with that bullet on the library steps. Though the introduction to the extended Frayn family takes its time, once Steven is murdered, the story line turns into a terrific thriller that never slows down until the climax. Claire is a wonderful heroine struggling with the death of her brother as much as with her feelings of hopelessness until Victor offers her an opportunity. Like Claire when she begins to regain her equilibrium and leave behind much of the fog of grief, readers will wonder if she has agreed to a Faustian deal. Readers will be a student of Susan Richards Shreve following this tense tale.

Augusta Locke
William Haywood Henderson
ISBN: 0670034916, $24.95

Augusta "Gussie" Locke is born in 1903 in a remote section of the northern Minnesota woods. Her mother Leota always wanted a daughter to share dainty things with while her father is trapper Brud Tornig, who enjoys the outdoors. To Leota's regret and shame, Gussie is not pretty and precious, but more like her dad with a love for the woods. She runs away from home whenever the need to breath reaches her soul. When Gussie catches her dad sleeping with a woman other her mother, she and Leota leave. They move to Colorado where Leota meets Mr. Locke and marries him. On the day they wed, Gussie leaves for Wyoming to hide amidst the mountains. She obtains work in the Great Divide Basin and meets a man on his way to fight overseas during WWI. They make love, and nine moths later with her lover gone off to war, Gussie gives birth to Anne. Soon Gussie will find things have gone full circle as Anne begins running away from home. The historical tidbits and the background settings make for a superb early twentieth century saga. Gussie is an intriguing protagonist as she enables readers to see a remote part of 1920s an early 1930s Wyoming rarely if ever used in novels. The irony that the woes she gave to her mom her daughter provide to her will seem real to parents. Though insight into her needs for space is deep, readers never truly see what else motivates her for instance her selection in males. Still this is a deep look into a bygone era.

The Night Journal
Elizabeth Crook
ISBN: 0670034770, $24.95

In Austin, thirty-seven years old hospital engineer Meg Mabry detests her grandma renowned historian Claudia "Bassie" Bass, who raised her with an iron fist and expectations of excellence. Bassie made her reputation when she published her mother's journal of her life as a Harvey Girl in New Mexico. Before she dies the elderly family matriarch demands her granddaughter reads the six volumes and accompanies her when she makes a pilgrimage to her birth town in Pecos, New Mexico where the visitor's center plans to dig up Dog Hill where Bassie's mother buried her pets. Bassie, assisted by archaeologist Jim Layton, and Meg dig up the canine bones with plans to inter them elsewhere. However, among the remains is a human skeleton. Stunned by the mystery, Meg turns to the journals she avoided all her life. There she learns her great-grandmother enjoyed her work and apparently loved a nearby sheepherder while her spouse never recovered from the massacre of his family in Utah. THE NIGHT JOURNAL is an interesting romantic mystery supported by fictional historical journal entries. The accounts from 1902 provide an intriguing look at New Mexico struggling with three cultures (American, Native American and Mexican) colliding in contrast to today's society of partial assimilation and some clashing. The story line includes the "required" romance between Meg and Jim; though that is done in a refreshing manner for this type of novel chick lit style although it remains unnecessary to the delightful historical comparative analysis investigative tale.

A Moonlit Knight
Jocelyn Kelley
ISBN: 0451218272, $6.99

As she has done twice before (see A KNIGHT LIKE NO OTHER and ONE KNIGHT STAND) Queen Eleanor d'Aquitaine visits St. Jude's Abbey seeking specialized assistance, a female bodyguard. Lady Mallory de Saint-Sebastian is the chosen one to join the Queen's guard as her archery is by far the best of those residing in the special abbey. Mallory is taken aback with the backstabbing and betrayal of those claiming allegiance to Queen Eleanor at her misnamed "Court of Love". One of them takes it a step further trying to assassinate Her Highness. Mallory risks her life to keep Eleanor safe. The Queen also asks Mallory to teach her ladies in waiting how to use a bow, but the frivolous females think that is a man's job and only go through the motions so as to avoid Eleanor's wrath. Mallory also notices lute playing Saxon Fitz-Juste, who seems a lot more than just a traveling jongleur; she plans to find out if he is a threat to her responsibility though deep down she hopes not because she finds him so very attractive. The third Ladies of St. Jude's Abbey novel is a delightful historical romance with the emphasis on the court intrigue of the era. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Queen Eleanor selects Lady Mallory and never slows down until the final confrontation between the heroine and Saxon. Readers will enjoy the reaction of the male bodyguards to the hiring of a female to join their ranks as Jocelyn Kelly provides another fabulous twelfth century tale.

A Million Nightingales
Susan Straight
ISBN: 0375423648, $24.95

In the early nineteenth century following the United States purchase of the Louisiana Territory from the French, Moinette a "mulatresse" is a personal slave to Cephaline while her beloved mother works in the master's home near New Orleans. Moinette's life seems good to her as her mistress treats her kindly and even shares books with her. However, when Cephaline suddenly dies, Moinette becomes expendable. She is sold to another plantation owner. Ripped from her mother and a somewhat sheltered life, Moinette becomes a sexual plaything to her new owner. Abused and sexual assaulted and raped, Moinette eventually gives birth, but is once again ripped asunder from a loved one when she is sold and her child remains behind. Her dreams keep her going that one day she, her mom, and her child will be reunited. This is a fascinating yet horrifying look at the de jure plight of a black female slave who must suffer sexual assault and humiliation. Adding to the overall feel of debasement is the comparisons to the lifestyles of her mistress. Though Moinette seems too enlightened about her place in society, readers will feel for her (impossible to fully empathize unless you lived the scene as being beneath the lowest rung of society) as historical readers get the rest of the story not included in the hasty books.

Memoirs of a Muse
Lara Vapnyar
ISBN: 037542296X, $22.95

Growing up in Russia before the collapse, Tanya discovered Dostoyevsky and more significant the great writer's muse. Moving with her mom the professor to Brighton beach Brooklyn, Tanya concluded that Dostoyevsky's muse was his mistress Polina, who became part of The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot; the second wife Anna was a secretary stenographer, but obviously no inspiration. Tanya decides her goal in life is to be the motivation to a great novelist. She meets writer Mark Schneider at a book gala and decides he is the one. They have an affair, but as she notes in her "Memoirs of a Muse" he seems more preoccupied with physically working out, sex, and partying than in writing. Tanya's begins to reconsider whether she selected the wrong author or perhaps her role as she studies further the influence of Dostoyevsky's muse. This is a terrific character study told mostly by Tanya with an intermingling look at Dostoyevsky's life. Tanya is a delight from her deep understanding about cosmetics in tsarist Russia to her belief that she is somebody's muse. Part amusing satire and part a serious look at roles in interrelationships, fans who enjoy a well written refreshingly unique tale, will want to read MEMOIRS OF A MUSE.

Carol Higgins Clark
ISBN: 0743289420, $24.00, 288 pp.

It has been a long time coming but finally California private detective Regan Reilly is getting married to NYPD captain Jack Reilly, head of the Major Case Cquad. The happy couple is going to live in Jack's Tribecca loft but with just a week to go before the wedding, Regan has a lot of details to settle. The most important item is to pick up her wedding dress but when she goes to Alfred and Cherisse's Couture, she finds the owners tied up and the wedding gown stolen along with twenty thousand dollars in cash. Regan is determined to find the thief who stole her gown and the robbery gains media attention as a human interest story. The thieves are driving to Las Vegas to sell the dresses there while Regan is dealing with the dress and the other brides who also had their dresses stolen along with hers. Jack is trying to catch a bank robber who only is active on rainy days. As he keeps apprised of Regan in her investigation, he discovers a link to his case that just might catch the perpetrator. Regan takes all the problems surrounding the wedding in stride concentrating on catching a jewel thief and a missing woman who was attending one of the bride's bachelorette party. Looking for an exciting light-hearted mystery with an eccentric cast of characters, some of whom surprisingly turn out to be crooks? Look no further than HITCHED, the latest and most romantic Regan Reilly mystery. Readers finally see Jack as a three dimensional character who is not afraid to show his love for his fiancee. The two protagonists share equal billing in this delightfully charming crime caper.

The Bookwoman's Last Fling
John Dunning
ISBN:0743289455, $25.00, 352 pp.

Former homicide police detective Cliff Janeway, now a bookstore owner is always on the lookout for a rare and precious book. Junior Willis asks Cliff to authenticate and appraise the book collection of the late Harold Ray Geiger; Cliff leaps at the chance because he wants to see first hand the collection. When he does he notices that later editions were substituted for rare books and that his client has only half the collection as Geiger's daughter Sharon owns the rest. Cliff is in heaven when he gets to see what she possesses. Sharon hires Cliff to find the missing books and to learn if her mother's death, though years ago, caused by an allergic reaction to eating peanuts, was suicide, accident or murder. He follows clues that return him to Geiger's house and ultimately the horse racing world. Someone observes Cliff's efforts and decides the bookworm is getting too close to the truth so tries to close the book on him by killing him. Wary but not deterred, Cliff keeps investigating as he now knows a homicide perhaps two occurred and he has a suspect but lacks evidence. Bibliophiles and racing fans will be euphoric with Cliff Janeway's latest caper. Dick Francis fans will thoroughly enjoy THE BOOKWOMAN'S LAST FLING especially for the behind the scenes look at what goes on at a horse racing track. Cliff is at his best evaluating books, but by the tale's end the audience will know he misses police work as he gleefully follows the clues in the case even when his life is at risk and upsets his significant other who already is disturbed that he is a "murder magnet".

Shotgun Opera
Victor Gischler
ISBN: 0440241715, $6.99, 336 pp.

Andrew Foley and two of his mob connected friends got paid one thousand dollars each for moving a container that didn't go through customs to a special warehouse. Instead of leaving, the three men played cards until they hear an explosion and then see a man walk out of the container. They instinctively knew that the man is a terrorist and run away from the docks. Someone is systemically killing everyone connected to the terrorist until Andrew is the only one left standing. Nikki, the free lance deadly assassin doesn't go after Andrew who left the city to hide with an uncle he never saw before in Oklahoma. Nikki's arm is injured so she sends her middle sister while Andrew connects with his Uncle Mike who left the mob after he killed a child. He made a new life for himself and for forty years tending his vineyard, but is now back drawn into the life when he has to protect his dead brother's son. Nikki is marked for a hit by her handler who subcontracts the job out just as Andrew's hit is sub contracted out. By the time everyone shoots everyone else, only two people will be left. This serio-comic crime thriller proves the old axiom violence begets more violence. SHOTGUN OPERA is a Keystone Cops' thriller complete with eccentric hit men and women, dark humor and plenty of action. Andrew never got involved with the mob while his uncle stopped being a killer when he lost his nerve after shooting a child. They are two sides of the same coin and soon they will be stripped to their raw essence and finally learn what they are made of. This is a wild cozy with some very funny tongue in cheek scenes that will have readers laughing even though they know somebody will be killed in the next scene.

In Darkness It Dwells
Joseph Laudati
ISBN: 1932815708, $6.99

In Chapinaw, New York sixteen years old filmmaker Tom DeFrank enjoys emulating his hero Ray Harryhausen in creating stop motion photography to create monsters. Tom accompanies his two friends Kevin and Danny to a cave where unbeknownst to the three teens a satanic ritual involving an infant sacrifice was stopped fifteen years ago. Something occurs inside with Tom muttering in a strange language. At the high school, Tom meets Julie Parrish, whose father Stephen is considered by locals an eccentric lunatic, but in fact is a psychic. When she sees his drawings and recognizes his words she knows they are an enchantment. As Tom and Julie begin to fall in love, his latest "star" gizmo puppet is possessed by something the teen brought with him from the cave. As people suddenly die and violence explodes, everyone blames Stephen, who is the only hope to free the teen from his monster. IN DARKNESS IT DWELLS is a fascinating paranormal thriller starring a delightful teen whose only enjoyment in life is the slow stop motion photography (see the movie Jason and the Argonauts as a terrific sample) until he meets Julie. The support cast augments the insight into the young hero and propels the fast-paced action forward. In some ways Stephen is the most enthralling character as his psychic gift is also a curse. Horror fans will appreciate this work and want Joseph Laudati to provide a prequel of what drove Stephen to Chapinaw.

Gabriel's Angel
Cynthia Thomason
ISBN: 1932815562, $6.99

In 1859, thirty-five years old Victoria Alcott is dying, but her biggest fear is for the safety of her daughter, ten years old Olivia. Since her spouse James died, she has felt like an intruder with his family and does not trust her brother-in-law Julian or her mother-in-law to do right by Olivia. Though estranged from her father for fourteen years and recognizing she was at fault, she sends her child to live with her grandfather Holliwell "Holly" Drummond knowing he will keep her beloved Olivia safe. Twelve years later, former Union Officer Lieutenant Gabriel Hampton, badly beaten, escapes from a prison ship managing to reach St. Brigid's Island. Livvy and Holly nurture him back to help as both can see he is an honorable person. As Gabe and Livvy fall in love, their pasts will arrive threatening their lives. Cynthia Thomason provides an intriguing Reconstruction Era romance with a touch of early and late suspense. Livvy is a marvelous protagonist (her naive innocence will remind readers of Demi Moore's character in The Butcher's Wife without the paranormal skills). Gabe is a solid counterpart as he believes she deserves someone with a future, which rules him out. Americana romance fans will enjoy this love at the lighthouse tale.

Second Sight
Philip R. Craig and William G. Tapply
Justin Charles
ISBN: 1932112413, $12.95

Mike Doyle is dying so when he asks his old college classmate Boston lawyer Brady Coyne to find and bring home his teenage daughter Christa, the attorney agrees so parent and child can reconcile and say their goodbyes. After a trek to the West Coast where she was last seen, he traces Christa ironically to Martha's Vineyard where his fishing friend former cop J.W. Jackson resides. Jackson welcomes Coyne to stay in his home while over the objection of his loving wife he provides additional personal security and driving for famous reclusive singer Evangeline during the week of the Celebration for Humanity rock concert. When Evangeline's bodyguard is killed, clues lead to a spiritual retreat, the same place that Coyne believes Christa is at. In between fishing, they team up to find a killer, keep a superstar safe, and search for a missing teen before it is too late. The second collaboration between Coyne and Jackson (see FIRST LIGHT) is a fabulous tale in which the action accelerates late, but fans of both series will not care. The lead investigators and their support cast seem genuine while the vivid picturesque Martha's Vineyard enhances the plot. SECOND SIGHT is a fun thriller as everyone converges on Evangeline.

Family Matters
Ira Berkowitz
Justin Charles
236 Huntington Ave. Suite 311, Boston, Ma. 02115
ISBN: 1932112448, $24.95, 264 pp.

Jackson Steeg is trying to pull himself out of the abyss by staying sober, but struggles with the suspension he received for punching out a fellow police officer. He has no friends to turn to but he cares enough to watch over a homeless person who is an expert on poetry and takes in a young girl because her father just went to jail.. One night Jackson wakes up to the sound of police in the apartment below his; he goes downstairs to see what is going on. A dead woman has been found in the apartment of Graham Moore, who is later also found murdered with a bullet in his head. The female victim Diana Strickland comes from a prominent family and in what is a startling coincidence Steeg's father investigated the death of her mother twenty years ago. Deciding to investigate to pass time, Steeg stirs up skeletons that powerful people want left interred. In his debut crime thriller Ira Berkowitz gives the reader a tour of the underbelly of New York's Hell's Kitchen using racketeers, pimps, drug users and sellers, and crime lords to juxtapose with the antihero Steeg. He is a flawed person who loses it at times, but in the end tries to do what he believes is the right thing. This dark urban police procedural borders into Noir territory with its lone cowboy cop. This is a superb work by an author who has oodles of talent.

Emperor: The Gods of War
Conn Iggulden
ISBN: 0385337671, $25.00

In 53 B.C. Commander of Gaul Julius Caesar leads four veteran legions, hardened by the victorious campaign, across the Rubicon. Caesar's threat to Rome leads a stunned Pompey to declare him "the enemy of Rome" in the Senate chambers. However, Pompey also knows that there is nothing in the city to stop Caesar's advance. Caesar expects the war with Pompey will prove his toughest but greatest achievement. Victory belongs to Caesar but he will one day find the fruits bitter. However, for now he controls Rome and no rival has surfaced since Pompey's defeat. He has the exotic Queen Cleopatra of Egypt as a mistress and ponders what next. His long time friend Marcus Brutus brooding over Caesar's ambition fears for the future of the Republic. He wonders when Caesar will claim he is the king and begins to plan how to stop the ascent that Brutus feels will ultimately lead to the destruction of Rome. The fourth "Emperor" tale (see THE FIELD OF SWORDS, THE DEATH OF KINGS, and THE GATES OF ROME) is a terrific ancient historical tale that feels in some ways as more of a biographical fictional account of Julius Caesar. The story line brings alive the civil war with Pompey who never expected a Roman legion to attack Rome, Caesar's tryst with Cleopatra, his friendship with Brutus throughout his rise to power and his apparent thirst for more. Though Brutus' concerns come across seemingly trivial and lacking conviction and compassion (unlike Shakespeare's version), readers will appreciate this fine entry that entertains and grips the audience from start to the Ides of March.

Hard Way
Lee Child
ISBN: 0385336691, $25.00, 336 pp.

Edward Lane made his millions brokering deals for mercenaries, but now needs to hire one for personal reasons before dejà vu occurs. Someone has kidnapped Edward's second wife Kate and demands he hand over a million dollars for her safe return.This is just like what happened to his first spouse, Anne, who was abducted but killed. Knowing the mercenary traffic, Edward hires the man he considers the best, loner Jack Reacher to go after the kidnappers once his wife is safely returned to him. In a cafe in Manhattan Reacher watches a parked Mercedes with the million dollars that Edward placed inside of it until someone drives off with the vehicle. Reacher, with the help of former FBI Agent turned private investigator Lauren Pauling, who worked the first Lane tragedy, follows a particular nasty kidnapper. However, this time his uncanny instincts fail him as he makes errors based on assumptions that prove false. Now the former military police officer turned vigilante for hire realizes he has to expedite himself out of a dangerous trap and that he has ONE SHOT to do so. This reviewer has always been a fan of the Reacher series, but in the HARD WAY, he seems less the invincible superman and more the error prone human. The premise that he starts off with a wrong assumption that leads to mistakes embellishes the typical high level of suspense as the audience wonders if the hero will survive as he does not seem to know Jack about what is going on. Lee Child more than just refreshes his series; he widens the scope without changing the essence of his champion mercenary.

Sun Storm
Asa Larsson
ISBN: 038533981X, $22.00, 320 pp.

Meijer and Ditzinger tax attorney Rebecka Martinsson hears on the news that Viktor "the paradise Boy" Strandgard died in The Source of All Our Strength Church in her hometown of Kiruna, Sweden. Though pale as a ghost when hearing the news, Rebecka thinks of the irony of the locale before his sister Sanna calls to plead with her to come home. She is the prime suspect in the murder of her brother having found his corpse. Though she should say no as she has written on her legal pad, Rebecka reluctantly comes home for the first time in years as Sanna pleads with her once best friend to help her. Assistant Chief Prosecutor Carl von Post demands a fast investigation as he will gladly hang Sanna on shaky evidence. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella and Detective Sven-Erik Stalnacke head the inquiry into the "slaughterhouse" killing of Viktor that makes the motive seem personal. As Rebecka comes home to "defend" Sanna though that is not her expertise by a long shot, the investigation takes several twists into religious zealousness but all roads lead back to the victim's sister. SUN STORM is a terrific translation of a delightful Swedish police procedural legal thriller. The story line moves forward on both sub-genres' paths in a sort of DNA helix twisting plot. Rebecka is a fabulous protagonist and the two cops remain professional in spite of pressure. Though the afterward of giving birth seems unnecessary; Fargo style would have been better; that minor cute ending aside, Asa Larsson provides a super tale set in the stark frozen yet beautiful land of the Aurora Borealis.

Eye of Vengeance
Jonathon King
ISBN: 0525949534, $24.95, 304 pp.

Daily News reporter Nick Mullins works the police and crime beat, but has only recently returned to the job. He took time off after a drunken driver killed his wife and one of their twin daughters. The culprit was convicted of manslaughter, but did only eighteen months. Nick's latest assignment is covering the execution style murder of convicted child molester and killer Steven Ferris. Judging by police actions, Nick assumes the assassin was on top of a building where he made the kill from; the journalist concludes that the twisted sniper is a professional. When a second former con is murdered, Nick looks over his recent records; he realizes that there are other sniper kills in the South Florida area in which he covered the stories in-depth. The assassin contacts Nick to inform him he has one more kill to go. The police and the reporter work Nick's files trying to find the next victim from the clue the sniper gave Nick. Jonathon King, the author of the Max Freeman mysteries, has written a fantastic stand alone thriller told from two perspectives, the reporter and the sniper. Readers will sympathize with the killer even though he does wrong as his motives illicit sympathy. Surprisingly the hero learns a lesson from the assassin that should make him a better father to the other surviving family member.

Promise Me
Harlan Coben
ISBN: 0525949496, $26.95

Former Boston Celtics superstar turned entertainment especially sports agent Myron Bolitar has not had an incident in six years; no fights; no murders; no injuries. He is seeing 9/11 widow Ali Wilder and likes her high school aged daughter Erin. When he overhears Erin and her best friend Aimee Biel, discuss being driven by stoned friends, he offers them no questions asked middle of the night taxi service if either needs a lift. Soon after the offer Aimee tests him by asking for a Manhattan to New Jersey ride to a friend's house that is to remain secret. The next day Aimee is reported missing and credit card records tip police that Myron was with her making him a person of interest. When further evidence paints a scenario eerily similar to the disappearance of another girl Katie Rochester involving Myron a few months ago, the agent becomes the prime suspect but not just of the police. Myron knows he must enter dangerous maze to rescue the teen and to extract himself from potential criminal charges all because he tried to keep THE INNOCENT Aimee out of trouble. As always Myron is the Good Samaritan who learns once again no good deed goes unpunished. The exciting story line is typical Harlan Coben with plenty of action and numerous twists; this time the final spin will shock the audience. Fans of the series will welcome Bolitar who has not been in literary trouble in six years back on the scene with a terrifically tense thriller.

Blown Away
Shane Gericke
ISBN: 0786018135, $6.99

In Naperville, an affluent suburb of Chicago, while jogging, rookie police officer Emily Thompson thinks nothing of seeing the headless bodies of a goose and two ducks. Later that same day she is at the scene of a dead woman in a rented car possessing a card with Emily's name on it. Emily and her superiors believe the woman committed suicide. When she returns home, the heads of the goose and two ducks are in her mailbox, her business cards in their mouths. Her bosses take it as a threat and warn Emily to be careful. That night she visits the library where a naked teen has an envelope for her, a birthday card telling her that her real presents are in the library. A dead man is found in one of the chairs making it obvious a serial killer is on the prowl with the ultimate objective being killing Emily on her birthday which is just a few days away. The culprit is someone who knows Emily but she has no idea who hates her so; unless she can figure out who it is, she will die because this is a brilliant murderer who never gives up. Nobody reading BLOWN AWAY would believe this is Shane Gericke's debut novel because it is better than most police procedurals written today. There are plenty of action and chase scenes but it the amazing character development that makes this book worthy of an award nomination. Readers get to know the men and women in blue and what they face every day on the job. This is the ultimate chilling cat and mouse game in which the more the audience learns about the UNSUB, the more they want to see him locked away (preferably in a coffin).

The Leopard's Daughter
Lee Killough
Yard Dog Press,
710 W. Redbud Lane, Alma, AR 72921-7247
ISBN: 1893687775, $16.00

On the Sahara Plains, in spite of being the niece of their King Mseluku Karamoke, her Dasa of the Imbu tribe always held Jeneba Karamoke in contempt because her sire is a shapeshifting leopard man. Still Jeneba is a loyal strong warrior woman and would die for the Dasa, especially her family. However her prayers to become accepted through brave deeds fail even when she rescues her warrior peers including her uncle from monstrous half-human cannibals because everyone blames her for their original plight instead of the man who failed the tribe Tomo Silla. Ironically Tomo's action including his disappearance has turned him into a martyred hero instead of a betraying deserter. Outraged and disappointed, Jeneba decides she must find Tomo and force him to speak the truth to the Dasa. She begins her personal mission, but instead she finds she must lead losers on a quest to save the people of the missing city of Yagana that abruptly vanished; failure means the end of life as she knows it on the Sahara plains. THE LEOPARD'S DAUGHTER is a terrific refreshing fantasy based on the African mythos. The location and the various fantastic species make for a vastly different quest that readers will appreciate. Jeneba is a wonderful protagonist who must save the world she knows when all she wants is to prove herself worthy to her people. Her companions are delightful as there are not heroic Tolkien heroes, but instead include Tomo and a half-man who should be her enemy. A solid short science fiction murder mystery "Afterburn" is included though it is seemingly out of place with the prime tale as a bonus that showcases the vast talent of Lee Killough.

Who Moved My Blackberry?
Lucy Kellaway
ISBN: 1401302513, $21.95

Arrogant and hedonistic London based Martin Lukes is Marketing Director at A&B (UK), a Fortune 500 company. Because of his Everest ego and lady Macbeth ambition, Martin provides us masses with insight into a year plus in his life; almost thirteen months filled with scandal, blunders, and survivability of faddism in the corporate jungle and the more dangerous personal cutthroat world by amassing and printing his emails. He leaves nothing out at least that is what he insists. WHO MOVED MY BLACKBERRY TM? is a fascinating look inside the corporate world by an "insider" yet though book length maintains the amusing satirical sting that Lucy Kellaway provides with her column in Financial Times. However, this reviewer found the book was easier to read and appreciate over several weeks. My spouse, who has followed Lukes' escapades said, the column reminded him of Professor Putts' series of articles on business in the R&D world (1970s), but especially found it ironically more jocular in small doses rather than one large gulp. For us newcomers, this fiction is a fine English look at the stereotypical behavior of corporate leaders and workers.

Philosophy Made Simple
Robert Hellenga
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316058262, $23.95

Seven years have passed since Rudy Harrington's beloved spouse Helen died leaving him alone to raise their teenage daughters. However, now that each of his children has left, the sexagenarian decides to sell his Chicago empty nest home that he owned for three decades and buy an avocado grove in Texas. At the same time he makes his life move, Rudy is reading Philosophy Made Simple by Siva Singh, the uncle of his daughter Molly's fiance. The book makes Rudy ponder about life and death and beauty and truth even as he plans Molly's wedding to TJ. His grove manager and new friend Mecardo takes Rudy on pleasure trips to Mexico where he meets Maria, who gives him a different view on life at the same time his family and that of TJ begin the invasion of Texas for the bi-cultural wedding. PHILOSOPHY MADE SIMPLE is actually a complex character driven tale as perspectives switch constantly so that the audience can keenly see how different cultures and people define truth, beauty, life and death. What is interesting is the multifaceted comparisons for instance Rudy vs. late-night radio evangelists that make the tale poignant. Readers who appreciate a deep look at concepts from varying points of view will want to join Rudy's search for meaning sort of mindful of Supertramps' The Logical Song.

Frederick Brown
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316118788, $35.00

This biography of the author of Madame Bovary is an incredibly insightful look at what motivated the brilliant Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880), who is a product of his times. A romanticist, Flaubert struggled with the loss of loved ones, which was accentuated during the revolution of 1848 with the return of the Empire and Napoleon III. Readers obtain a close look at Paris during a period of radical change, but even more his roots in Rouen. Interestingly and what makes this account fascinating and well written, Frederick Brown keeps his distance leaving the audience to decide what to make of the apparent contradictions in Flaubert's life. He was a romanticist yet his most famous work required a degree of discipline to keep his emotions out of it. He loathed the bourgeois, but perhaps was one of the greatest symbols of the social class in the middle nineteenth century when he hugged fame. Finally there is Flaubert's combatant loving relationship with his mistress Louise Colet that sums up the complexity of the subject of this fine work Mr. Brown provides a biographical masterpiece of one of the grandmasters of literature.

Beach Road
James Patterson and Peter de Jonge
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316159786, $27.95

East Hampton lawyer Tom Dunleavy runs a one person shop with few clients and those are always the working class serving the rich and famous that makes this Long Island playground renowned. Still the former St. John's basketball star ekes out an existence mostly working petty crime and real estate closings. He is the last person future NBA star Dante Halleyville should hire as his lawyer since Tom has no experience in murder trials. However, Dante knows Tom and trusts him to do right by him as he insists he never killed the three victims. Tom is in over his head so in spite of the fact that this case could make his career as the latest trial lawyer of the century, he needs help. Tom enlists his former lover, Manhattan based attorney Kate Costello to join the team. She does, but neither anticipated the reactions of the rich and famous as they violently react to the defense team's investigation into whom could have framed the teen basketball star so perfectly and why. As always when James Patterson is involved (this time with Peter de Jonge), the action is no-stop and the suspense gripping from start to finish. The story line is fast-paced with a light shined on the activity of the Hamptons' billionaire club. Tom terrific is a delightful protagonist while the woman he still loves Kate is sort of like a sabra, tough on the outside, but sweet and caring inside. Though their antics seem over the edge for attorneys as they play cat and mouse with an unknown assailant, fans will not care as the trek on BEACH ROAD is fun, entertaining and more of an investigative tale than a legal thriller.

Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown
ISBN: 031615377X, $25.95

Bestselling mystery author Michael provides a true crime look at his days as crime reporter in Florida and California. CRIME BEAT is divided into three overall segments, "The Cops," "The Killers" and "The Cases". Within each Mr. Connelly provides a wide range of stories that he covered as a journalist. The true stories are fascinating in that macabre way that make the genre such a success. Not shockingly, the most poignant moments involve combat fatigue syndrome detectives dealing with bereaving family members of victims with what went down. Fans of the author's mysteries and those who appreciate true crime will want to read this powerful look at the real life underlying basis to much of Mr. Connelly's fiction.

Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever
James Patterson
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316155594, $16.99

The Angel Experiment led to genetically enhanced children who can fly and possess other non-human skills. They barely survived the lethal Erasers and learned somewhat about their origins. Max barely a teen, but as the oldest leads her "family", Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy, and little Angel as they fly south seeking their biological parents. They know predators, including two legged suits, will want to either kill them or recapture them and send them to the dreaded school, but flying in tandem like a flock of birds, they begin their quest anyway. However, the Angels soon confront a type of Eraser like none before as this one flies like them. Worse the FBI chases after the sextet. Finally with the evil Erasers and the bird-brained Feds pursuing them, a new more dangerous enemy surfaces, Max II, whose goal in life is to be Max I. The second Angels thriller (see MAXIMUM RIDE) is an exhilarating thriller starring three teens and three preadolescents sticking together while eluding Erasers, FBI suits, school, and a clone. The story line is driven by the magnificent six though in truth even six years old Angel acts and talks adult-like during a crisis, which is much of the plot. No one will care (except inane reviewers needing a life) as once again James Patterson soars with his latest suspense filled science fiction thriller.

Resurrection: R. A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen Book VI
Paul S. Kemp
Wizards of the Coast
ISBN: 0786939818, $6.99

The Goddess Lolth awakens from her slumber seeking her Yor'thae chosen one vessel and preparing to cause havoc. Qunethel and Danifae hear the siren's call from the malevolent Spider Queen of the Demonweb Pits; they journey towards her with both vying to be her sacred vessel. At the same time, Halisstra the swordswoman enters the Demonweb Pits, not because of the call of the evil Goddess, but because she plans to assassinate Lolth. As the trio treks closer to their destiny, the dark elven drow wants them dead. Other subservient worshipers come home to Lolth's spidery realm. Confrontation is coming with much of the Forgotten Realms in peril regardless of the outcome. The sixth and final fantasy in the delightful War of the Spider Queen series is a strong conclusion that will please fans of dark tales with the Queen and the drow taking center stage. Especially enjoying the tale will be the myriad of readers who devour the works of R. A. Salvatore, as this and the predecessors (see Byers' DISSOLUTION, Reid's INSURRECTION, Baker's CONDEMNATION, Smedman's EXTINCTION, and Athans' ANNIHILATION) pay homage to the great fantasist. Though better to read the previous novels first but in spite of connectivity gaps, Paul S. Kemp provides a strong finishing touch.

The Last Cato
Matilde Asensi
Rayo (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 0060828579, $24.95

Vatican's Classified Archives director Father Ramondino introduces Sister Ottavia Salina, chief of the Restoration and Paleography Laboratory, to the Catholic Church hierarchy who believe they desperately need her services. The leadership including the Pope is upset, but not because an Ethiopian with sacred crosses and a sigma tattooed on his body was killed, but because he was murdered before they could learn more about his international colleagues and clients stealing sacred segments of the Ligna Crucis, the original crucifixion cross. Her assignment is to retrieve the stolen relics. Though she considers herself a poor choice as she solves literary mysteries not criminal cases, she agrees to find the artifacts. The church leadership assigns the Pope's Swiss Guard Captain Kaspar Glauser-Roist to her team; when they follow a lead to Alexandria they enlist Egyptian archeologist Professor Farag Boswell to assist Dr. Salina on the quest. As they follow leads using clues she uncovers buried in Dante's Divine Comedy, the trio concludes that a clandestine order, The Staurofilakes headed by a Cato, is behind the thefts, but to stop them and retrieve what they stole will require a miracle. THE CATO is simply Dante meets Da Vinci. The story line is at its exciting best when either the early history of the church or Dante's divine tale is front and center. When the plot diverts to padded sidebars such as a tryst between the four decade celibate nun and one of her teammates, it loses plausibility and hence steam. Much of the cast is underdeveloped except perhaps the superheroine (a Sister Lara Croft), fans of religious thrillers will enjoy Matilde Asensi's tale.

The Nymphos of Rocky Flat
Mario Acevedo
ISBN: 0060833262, $13.95

When he served in the military in Iraq Felix Gomez and his unit slaughtered what turned out to be an innocent family. Feeling remorse and guilt, a depressed Felix meets a person who fulfills his wish of a fate worse then death by converting the GI into a vampire. Now a civilian back in the states, Felix concluded that his new supernatural powers will enhance his chances at success as a private investigator. College roommate Gilbert Odin, Assistant Manager for Environmental Restoration at the Department of Energy site in Rocky Flat, Colorado asks Felix to investigate an apparent outbreak of nymphomania among female guards at a plutonium processing plant. However, the case is not as simple or isolated as it first appears. Professional vampire slayers want to kill all the undead dead in America and are focused on Gilbert and any other bloodsucker nearby; a dryadic siren demands partnering him on his sleuthing and in his bunk. Finally there is the Feds who want Felix to end his inquiries and will do what ever it takes to insure he does. Though the sex scenes seem intrusive instead of part of the fun supernatural thriller and the ending rushed, fans will enjoy this exciting investigative tale starring a fascinating ethical protagonist. The exhilarating story line includes dangerous powerful paranormal creatures yet the most treacherous animal of all are species Fed. Felix is a fine lead sleuth who keeps the tale centered and moving so that the audience roots for him as one clue after another takes him into a perilous situation. Mario Acevedo provides an entertaining supernatural mystery.

Ya-Yas in Bloom
Rebecca Wells
ISBN: 0060953659, $13.95

The four Ya-Yas sisters Vivi, Teensy, Caro and Necie met in 1930 Louisiana as little girls. They were a hand full as individuals so filled with zest and prankishness, but as a quartet though very young they ruled their world. Over the years they married, had children, but remained the Ya-Yas whether they fought with nuns or rained the next generation of "Petites Ya-Yas". Others their age kept out of their exclusive club like nasty jealous Myrtis detested the fearsome foursome. Her loathing leads to her even more resentful emotionally deranged daughter Edythe kidnapping Necie's three-year-old granddaughter, Rosalyn. No one messes with the septuagenarian granny Ya-Yas who are coming to rescue one of their own. The first part of the book consists of interesting vignettes from the salad days of the Ya-Yas though not linear in nature, but just as fun to follow. The tale does a 180 spin with Edythe narrating how much she hates and envies the Ya-Yas, who she desperately wanted to join but did not fit in. Edythe never seems real as she has one emotion: animosity. The story leaps again to 1994 and the kidnapping. Though lacking continuity as if three novellas were combined into one book, fans will enjoy YA-YAS IN BLOOM especially the escapades of the early years.

Rabbit Heart
Colleen Hitchcock
ISBN: 1416509518, $14.00, 320 pp.

In 1891 London, Nicollette Caron warns her latest lover to forget about her instead of making love with her because she fears for his life. However, handsome Denton insists and she soon pleads with him to give her all he has; he does and dies. This is her thirteenth lover to pass away while making love with her. With the help of her servants Nicollette cleans away the mess, but flees London for Glastonbury where number fourteen awaits her. Renowned Crime Inspector Jackson Lang finds the corpse of Denton and begins to follow clues that lead him towards Glastonbury and there to Nicollette. She, in the meantime, meets Lord Baston, Blake Williams who has a healthy sexual appetite that he satiates twice a week at the rundown Mare's Head. When Jackson meets the black widow, he is attracted to her, but will he break the law for her even as he competes with Blake for her affections. Nicollette who travels accompanied by the ghosts of her late lovers warns both men, but neither can resist her lure; however the question for Nicollette to answer to herself which one does she want to be with and can the Chosen One live past his first climax? RABBIT HEART is a strange, but fascinating Victorian paranormal police procedural romance that is not for the faint of heart. Readers will wonder about Nicollette's mental health as her seemingly innocent but tough love encounters lead to her mates dropping dead while climaxing with her; could she be a serial killer, a cursed haunted soul, or is what is happening just bad luck? Colleen Hitchcock provides a bizarre beguiling tale of literally the French Death.

Kindred Spirit
John Passarella
ISBN: 0743484800, $7.99, 400 pp.

Growing up identical twins Heather and Hallie Moore were best friends who could communicate telepathically. However everything changed between them when they were ten and Heather fell from a tree. Unconscious for a week, when she finally awakened from her coma, the siblings no longer could mentally communicate. Years later, Hallie is a TV news reporter while Heather, married to Tom Galloway and with a son Shane, runs a gift basket business from her home. On her way home, someone violently murders Heather stunning her spouse, son and especially her sibling. One year later, Hallie visits the murder site. There she touches a cross that marks the exact locale; Hallie visualizes Heather's final seconds and when she returns to the present she holds her late twin's locket that vanished when Heather was killed. Believing the killer is nearby and feeling her sister is with her, Hallie begins to investigate the murder of her twin even as the killer begins a plan to murder the surviving sister. Renowned for his frightening horror tales (see the bewitching Wither trilogy), John Passarella provides his scariest book yet with the exhilarating paranormal amateur sleuth tale KINDRED SPIRITS because readers will believe in the connection between the twins even from beyond. The action-packed story line moves rather quickly forward as Hallie investigates the now cold case homicide of her sibling who seems to send her warning messages to be careful. While the support cast especially the heroine's nephew and brother-in-law adds depth to the feel of another impending tragedy, it is the fascinating sisterly link that makes this superior mystical thriller worth reading.

Immediate Family
Eileen Goudge
ISBN: 0743483197, $24.00

When the quartet attended Princeton as undergraduates, they became the best of friends. However, over the years since college they went their separate ways, but kept in close contact with one another and soon they plan to get together to celebrate their fifteen year reunion though each has some family issues. Los Angeles TV reporter Stevie has recently learned the identity of her mystical father, 1970s rock star Grant Tobin. In Manhattan, publicist Emerson knows first hand the troubles of the sandwich generation as she raises a child while caring for her ailing snooty mother. Literary agent Franny has always wanted a husband and kids, but feels her biological clock is winding down and no male seems like Mr. Right. Jay is engaged to pregnant Vivienne, but agrees to donate sperm to Franny. Franny becomes pregnant and meets the nice Keith, but instead finds she dreams of Jay, who reciprocates her desires. Emerson begins to fall in love with her mother's night nurse Nigerian Reggie, but Immigration has revoked his visa. Stevie meets Grant and begins to unravel why she fears commitment. The lead foursome are likable flawed character struggling with varying personal issues. Though the story line is straight forward with no twists, fans will enjoy following the quartet's relationships with one another (think the TV show Friends without the humor). Eileen Goudge provides a fine character study that in some ways reads like an IMMEDIATE FAMILY drama.

Living on Air
Anna Shapiro
ISBN: 1569474311, $22.00

Maude Pugh was raised in Levittown, Long Island. By the time she attended high school she concluded her parents were colossal failures who hid in a community in which all exterior houses were identical to one another. This she realizes enables them to act eccentric inside their home, but provide a veneer of respectability belonging outside. Her father, the artist Milt, has a fan club of one, himself. To better display his colorful work, every room in the house is painted black as night to provide the proper background. Her mother Nina feels inferior to everyone, the wealthier upscale neighbors, her spouse and even Maude. Her older brother Seth is a classic loser who fits right at home with the family of failures that reside in the Pugh residence; that explains why he ran way when he turned sixteen. Still Maude has dreams of truly making it in the art world; they seem to be occurring when she wins a scholarship to the prestigious Bay Farm prep school, but she only finds conformance and betrayal there even as her peers salivate over her being a bohemian artist's daughter; just like at home. This is an interesting look at social class and family politics through the eyes of an acute teen who knows her parents and sibling are losers in life yet they are the reason she is part of the in crowd. Maude is a fascinating protagonist who wants desperately to break the cycle, but hits glass ceilings from so-called friends especially a boyfriend. Fans of deep character studies inside the dynamics of a family drama will enjoy Maude's at times maudlin tale.

Dragon's Tongue
Laura J. Underwood
Meisha Merlin
P.O. Box 7, Decatur, Ga. 30031
ISBN: 1592220274, $16.95, 451 pp.

All he ever wanted was to be a bard, but when his magic manifested itself leading to dangerous incidents, he travels to Dun Gealach, a learning center for magecraft. There he makes friends with the powerful mage Fenelon Greenfyn who takes Alaric Braidwine as his apprentice. Alaric also attracts the attention of the demon Vagner, who is bound to the evil bloodmage Tane Dorain. Vagner hears Alaric talking to Fenelon about the chant of the DRAGON'S TONGUE which he learned from his mentor the powerful bard Ronan Tey. Tane wants to find the legendary Dragon's Tongue that will make its owner a god. The object is hidden in Shadow Vale, a place where the Old Ones and the malevolent Shadows lived before the Great Cataclysm. When Vagner fails to steal the whole map that leads to Shadow Tongue, he devises an ingenuous plan to kidnap Alaric and force him to sing the song that Ronan taught him. Unfortunately Alaric no longer remembers the lyrics even under Tane's torture. Vagner sees an opportunity to free both of them from Tane. Meanwhile the High Mage concludes that Alaric is demon marked and sends all the magicians to hunt him and Vagner down. Fenelon and his mage lover Etienne and her apprentice Shona risk their lives to keep Alaric safe and free while Tane also hunts them. Book one of the Demon Bound is a terrific fantasy in the tradition of Holly Lisle and Andre Norton that showcases how good Laura J. Underwood really is. The author creates characters that readers care about and not just the champions; fans will even sympathize with Vagner who initially seems evil, but displays human characteristics of desiring freedom and caring for others; in this case the well-being of Alaric. The audience will loathe Tane, a vile villain for what he has done to the demon and hope he will receive his just rewards. DRAGON'S TONGUE is a quest fantasy similar to that of the Lord of the Rings and the Shannara novels. The hero and his allies will sacrifice themselves if it means insuring the DRAGON'S TONGUE remains in a safe place where no one can obtain it and subsequently use it. Alaric goes through many more trials and tribulations than what is described above. Ultimately he learns the key lesson that Fenelon wants to imbue to him. Magic users have responsibilities to try to do the right thing, but never panic regardless of what fate throws at you. Fans will appreciate the teacher as Fenelon is sort of like Yoda with a significant other. He provides the social conscience as well as humor to the mix. As his different roles surfaced this reviewer started to think of Miller's song The Joker as Fenelon is a mentor, a friend, and a world savior who is also a prankster. Witty dialog, exciting action, high drama, and a strong cast that enables the audience to see deep into the heart of the key players (or whatever organ Tane has) makes this excellent book worthy of an award nomination.

Nolene-Patricia Dougan
ISBN: 142088154X, $20.49

Five centuries ago in Transylvania, Isabella flaunting societal rules as always, decides to visit the castle of notorious Vlad Dracula, who has gained notoriety with his war tactics against the Turkish invaders. However, she finds something more in Vlad that her own spouse Nicolae lacks. Isabella sees a need to rule the masses and offers herself to Vlad as his queen by his side. Vlad accepts the beautiful headstrong female as his, but she is stunned when he turns her into what he is, a Vrolok (vampire). Over the next few centuries Vlad and Isabella share a deep abiding love, but also have deep heated fights and jealous rages. Isabella refuses to turn into a non-caring monster and has a natural passion for the life of others. Over the years they meet many humans; some are friends; others are enemies; and a few are so diabolically devious they are both. Vlad and Isabella live the lives of immortals while those they encounter become footnotes in history. In some ways VROLOK is more a historical biographical fiction than a horror thriller as Isabella relates her escapades with several real persona like Kit Marlowe and Wyatt Earp. Her encounters with Van Helsing are some of the best vampire interludes in recent years and the Medici come across as wily, conniving charmers. Vampire fans will appreciate this different bite on the creatures of the night with a strong historical biographical perspective.

The Forsaken
Stephen Arterburn and Mike Moscoe
ISBN: 1400070376, $13.99

At Cartier Cutlery, Personnel chief Ben Taylor like most long time managers at the firm struggles with new leadership who demand greater profit. The new boss Jay Franklin tells Ben that the parent company is considering the sale of the valuable Maryland property and consolidating the work with another subsidiary elsewhere. Ben's wife Annie enjoys her career and raising their two teenage children as well as loving her spouse. She has an opportunity for an incredible promotion across the country, but Ben is hurt as that means she will make more money than him and he would also have to give up his job to accompany her. However before Ben can come to grips with his smashed ego, someone abducts his wife. Feeling forsaken by God, Ben risks his life to save his Annie, but he soon realizes he will need divine help, a miracle, but he remains a doubting Thomas. Stephen Arterburn and Mike Moscoe provide an interesting thriller that starts off as a male ego issue, but Ben soon learns what is important in life when Annie is snatched. At first his prayers for divine intervention are more along the line of no atheists in the foxhole, but as he takes action to save his wife his plea becomes sincere. Though the switch from a family crisis to a woman in peril thriller seems over the edge, fans will appreciate Ben, a good person, unable to cope with the change in family fortune. He learns what counts in life, but may be too late to apply his hard earned lessons.

Tristan's Gap
Nancy Rue
ISBN: 1400070341, $12.99

In Delaware Serena Soltanis lives for her family. She will do anything to make her husband Nick comfortable and to insure her daughter sixteen years old Serena and son ten years old Max are safe. Her community especially her church sees her as a role model in raising children. She is so highly regarded Serena heads a local church group that counsels, advices and mentors young mothers. Everything is perfect in Serena's world until Tristan suddenly vanishes without warning. Serena is stunned and begins to doubt her parenting skills. While her raging spouse holds Serena culpable over the embarrassment of their teen runaway, she worries until Tristan returns home. Serena begins to soul search as she ponders coming down harder on Tristan, but wonders if perhaps loosening the control to allow some freedoms might be the answer. She seeks a balance between safety and freedom for she fears tighter control will drive Tristan away again. This interesting family drama focuses in on the issue of teen safety vs. freedom. Serena and Tristan are wonderful characters as the mom wants her children safe in a dangerous world, but has stifled her daughter. Nick is an idiot though part of his reaction is fear that he hides from his spouse. As Serena struggles with when you let them go (mindful of Gibran's The prophet), fans obtain a deep powerful modern day character study.

Earth Abides
George R. Stewart
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345487133, $13.95

Unlike all contagious diseases before this one that traveled over time, this contagion sprung up globally at about the same time. For practical purposes the human race is extinct. Isherwood "Ish" Williams survives the pandemic, but wonders if he is the last man on earth. In what was once called California, Ish eventually meets up with a small rag tag band of shocked survivors. As his cohorts just try to live, they turn to Ish, more an introspective loner, as the leader. Reluctantly he takes charge not knowing what the future will bring or even if there is even going to be a future. This is a reprint of a highly regarded post apocalypse tale first released in 1949. The story is actually told over a period of years broken into five major parts of which the above only briefly touches on the first two sections. Ish is a terrific protagonist whose belief in survival changes over time as he observes his little colony mature. Thriller fans will enjoy this strong after the doomsday tale that in some ways shows its pre-information age initial publication, but remains a strong cautionary story.

Hal Duncan
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345487311, $14.95

In 2017 Guy Carter had spent several fruitless years searching for the book in which God told Metatron the angel every instant place and time. However, now Guy has succeeded in finding The Book of All Hours in his college library. However, he is a bit surprised to see that the tome that is supposed to be God's atlas of everything everywhere and everyone is actually a collection of maps. He sort of recognizes places, but they also seem slightly off kilter as he sits and examines his discovery. As Guy continues his diligent read, reality shifts so that when he finally leaves the library no people exist seemingly anywhere. He has left his earth via the book and entered the Vellum that ties eternity together through the Word of God. Confused Guy struggles with a hyperbolic perhaps exponential universe; linear is nonexistent. Meanwhile Metatron wants to bring order out of the perceived chaos, but he has devilish enemies who prefer the designed pandemonium. The above two "linear" paragraphs barely scratch the surface of a very complex somewhat (rightfully so) convoluted thriller that paints an intelligent design created universe (try teaching this I.D. in school). The story line is not linear as a person can be in two places at the "same" time and past, present, and future share the same time. Guy is a terrific protagonist though much of the time he is off line as he learns that the eternal feud is coming to a burning climax.

A Girl in Mind
Mark P. Dunn
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144141, $25.95

In California, the slasher killed Miranda and Vince Gardener and their son Alex; their sixteen years old daughter Cora survived the razor attack, but fell into a coma. Her grandfather, psychologist Dr. Harold Davies brought his comatose granddaughter to his Davies Clinic in Stone Beach, Maine. His efforts to help her so far have failed though he emptied out the place of any other patients. Helping Dr. Davies is Dr. Cole Johnstone, but he has personal demons of his own to resolve since his son died. Cole believes that Cora is reaching out to them in a paranormal way though Davies rejects his theory as garbage. When Davies becomes ill, Cole asks his former lover Sarah Delacort to help him as she understands the para-world better than anyone else he knows. At the same time, the slasher suffers migraines caused by his connection to the survivor. He takes a leave of absence from his job and heads east leaving a trail of corpses as he comes to Maine to rid himself of the surviving headache. A GIRL IN MIND is an exhilarating paranormal thriller which grips the audience from the moment the clinic's overnight employee flees in fear as he receives messages from beyond and never slows down until the final confrontation below the clinic. The action-packed story line hooks readers who hope to see full justice especially when the comatose Cora sends help messages and Argento struggling with horrific headaches in which he recognizes the source is coming to complete the job. Mark P. Dunn keeps the suspense high with this entertaining thriller.

Lois Carroll
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144575, $26.95, 328 pp.

Carolyn Whitney Matison unexpectedly inherits from her Great Aunt Louise Whitney her mansion and the money to convert it into an inn on the condition that she looks for an emerald necklace that went missing decades ago. Some family members blame the loss of jewelry on Robert Ashford who was courting the younger daughter Sarah. When her sibling Lora died in a fall Robert received the blame and subsequently his life and that of Sarah were destroyed. Attorney Rob Ashford, great nephew of Robert, believes the necklace remains inside Greystone; he wants to see that it is found so his relative's name can be cleared. The Whitney family hired Rob to help Carolyn with her inheritance. Neither he nor she expected to feel a strong regard for one another. Carolyn also has problems accepting that she sees the ghosts of Sarah, Lora, and Robert until Rob admits he has always seen them. Someone is causing accidents to occur and they have come close to killing Carolyn and Rob, but the major impediment to their love is that she is tricked into believing that he is the danger causing the perilous events. Unless she trusts in love, another couple may join the unhappy tragic afterlife that walk in Greystone. Readers who cherish ghost stories will thoroughly enjoy CHIMERA, a paranormal tale about past deeds haunting the present. Carolyn, hurt by the man she loves, struggles to trust anyone yet her inability to communicate with her beloved hero leads to her unhappiness and to fans shouting at her to talk to him. Rob comes across as a saint who forgives her for jumping to the wrong conclusion about him leading to the audience wanting a Rob of their own.

Where the Lies Begin
Robert S. Levinson
Five Star
ISBN: 159414432X, $25.95

Federal chief of the Department of Domestic Terrorism legendary Rupert Bachman asks former LAPD chief turned County Board of Supervisors Daniel "Duke" Marion to help them. Apparently, terrorist Bruno Guy is willing to turn himself in, but only if his friend Duke is there to insure his safety. Rupert further explains that in exchange for amnesty Bruno will provide the location of seven bombs at seven government buildings in seven cities planted by the Freedom Militia. Duke agrees. Duke and Bruno are to make contact with one another at the Lifetime Achievement Award gala honoring legendary actress turned Princess Nell Fontanne. However, Duke is forced to kill an assassin who was trying to shoot Nell. Thus he fails to meet Bruno. Current Police Chief Paul Crescent leads a media blitz condemning vigilante justice, which leads into a Grand Jury investigation that Rupert manipulates. A distracted Duke realizes he needs to meet with Bruno not just because they are pals, but more so because the clock ticks away with many lives in jeopardy. WHERE THE LIES BEGIN is a complex espionage thriller in which it is impossible to tell who the good guys are at least from the vantage point of Duke. For instance Rupert's men are zealots in which means does not matter only the ends; if innocents die so what as collateral damage s**t happens. This makes the tale even more complicated and that much more fun to read as the audience tries to determine who's on whose side. Robert S. Levinson writes an interesting tale of deceit in high and low places that his fans will appreciate.

Another Lost Angel
Steven B. Mandel
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144133, $25.95

Chicago Police Detective Linny Nomar works in the Property crimes Section where he has a decent record. Not because he is a good cop, but instead the Chicago Outfit employs him to close his eyes when they commit a theft. Linny goes through the motions having never recovered from the abduction of his then three year old son Connor compounded two years ago when his wife Emmy committed suicide. To his shock and without a request, Linny is transferred to the City-wide Homicide Unit (CHU), who is investigating a serial killer who mutilates teens before dumping them in water. To his surprise the new assignment awakens Linny from his stupor since the abduction. He admires his teammates and his boss, but especially is attracted to a peer Detective Julie McCallister. However, his mob handlers want him to back off the case until they can set up a fall guy; for the first time since they hooked him, Linny says no even though he knows he probably will lose his job and perhaps go to jail because his handlers have the evidence and the connections to do so. Linny makes ANOTHER LOST ANGEL an interesting police procedural as his two personal losses makes him not care about anything until the new assignment awakens his basic needs to belong, to care, and to love. The story line is action packed and the revelation of who snatched his child and why seems implausible yet works quite well in the context of the demise and rise of a cop. Readers will root for Linny to find his way back to life and to remain what he has once again become, a dedicated police officer.

Brian Herbert
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142165, $25.95, 541 pp.

Thousands of years into the future, mankind has colonized many worlds in several galaxies while also making contact with many other sentient races; some of which have become allies and others enemies. Humanity's most dangerous foe is the shapeshifting Mutati, whose objective is to eradicate mankind at least in their galaxy. The Merchant Prince Alliance led by Doge Lorenzo del Vello rules humanity. He and his brass have no compunctions over destroying whole worlds and extinguishing species since business trumps environment at all times. A smaller ecological counter movement the Guardians has formed led by founder Noah Watanbe trying to save the environment of abused orbs. As the TIMEWEB connective tissue keeps the universe together unravels, one of the oldest and wisest souls in the galaxy, reptilian Tulyam Eshaz wonders whether Noah is the savior prophesized by his ancestors. Given time Tulyam might prove his assertion correct, but the Mutati have weapons of mass destruction they plan to use and the Mutati is planning to devastate another sector leaving Noah with no wiggle room. In Brian Herbert's universe, many diverse intelligent races populate space with some still remaining hidden from humans for differing reasons. The protagonist is a charismatic caring leader who wins the admiration of his followers and even that of Tulyan who has seen so many over the ages return to dust. Humana's power structure is based on Italy's mercantile city-states of the renaissance where political intrigue and sexual debauchery is the norm and the lives of the less fortunate are considered expendable. The leader of the Mutati is a power mad despot making him a dictator with an anti-human cause (to hold power). TIMEWEB will remind the audience of Star Wars on even a bigger scale.

The Price of Pride
Donna MacQuigg
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144648, $25.95

In 1892 Santa fee, New Mexico Territory, someone kills Emily Brighton and her fiance rancher Bob Farrell. Emily's cousin St. Louis Herald reporter Sarah Brighton needs to learn the truth so she travels to Santa Fe to investigate what happened to her cousin, not believing that Emily and her intended died in a fire. At the same time Bob's older brother, U.S. Marshal Ira Farrell of Carefree, Arizona also believes foul play and has come home to prove it. Though Sarah and Ira share a common goal, neither wants the other intruding in their respective investigation. What make it worse is that both are fascinated by one another and that begins to turn in an attraction that each denies yet each wants. Still there are the inquiries into what really happened to Emily and Bob so love will have to wait especially since neither Sarah nor Ira want that intruding emotion. THE PRICE OF PRIDE is an interesting investigative western romance starring two fascinating protagonists who insist they are not in love, but cannot keep thoughts about one another out of their minds. The story line starts off by introducing the key good guys and what happened to Emily, swings into two fun competing investigations, but then feels a bit padded until the final exhilarating confrontations. Still fans will appreciate this entertaining historical.

Scoundrel in Disguise
Annette Blair
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144834, $26.95

In 1847, Marcus Fitzalan visits eccentric Jade Smithfield under the pretense of seeking employment as her business affairs manager. He really wants to learn why Jade is trying to prevent the construction of a railroad in the area that his disabled brother owns. Jade rejects Marcus as too handsome for the twelve brittle women and seventeen children that live under her roof. Besides she believes all men are created equally, nasty, abusive and bad. However she changes her mind when she sees how good he is reaching out to battered reticent little Emily who is taken with Marcus' dog Tweenie. As he continues to display kindness towards her charges, Marcus also begins to convince her some men can be nice. As they fall in love, he fears she will assume the worst in him once she learns why he applied for the job. This is an interesting complex Victorian romance with a social message starring an eccentric female obsessed with protecting women and children who hates men as being abusive. Marcus originally arrived to stop Jade from sabotaging his sibling's railroad, but soon finds he loves his employer and needs to help her with her charges. Fans will appreciate this Dickensian spin as "progress" vs. the need of the forgotten downtrodden competes with the hero knowing that he will probably lose his love once she learns of his deception.

Heart's Revenge
Julia C. Porter
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144478, $26.95

Grieving the recent death of her beloved father, Maritime Studies Professor Ella Simon is grateful to her boss Dr. Bramlett for sending her to research the alleged finding of Blackbeard's ship The Revenge off Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. Her guide is divemaster Mitch Thompson whose father is a close friend of Bramlett and found the sunken vessel. On their first dive, Ella suffers a tank accident that she blames on Mitch. He insists he checked her equipment just before the dive and that he saw something odd just above her. As Mitch and Ella work together they fall in love but she is hard fact realist who knows she must return to New England soon while he is a romantic who dreams they can find a way to stay together. However before either can consider compromise there are several problems starting with ghosts seeking their deaths and even more dangerous tourists visiting the islands. HEART'S REVENGE is an interesting horror romance starring two likable seemingly opposite humans chased by mean-spirited ghosts and the dreaded tourists. From the onset when Ella while driving sees strange sights until the final twisted confrontation with Blackbeard, readers will wonder whether the lead couple will survive and end up together. Though solutions to complex personal issues seem too simple, fans of an interesting ghost story enhanced by romance will want to read Julia C. Porter's tale of long dead pirates riding the high seas.

Some Like It Cold
Jerry Raine
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144281, $25.95

London club bouncer Brooklyn (named for Neil Diamond not the borough) Rhodes enjoys his work and likes his girlfriend. When she dies in a skiing accident, Brooklyn does not cope well with the death. Needing to escape his environs, Brooklyn flees to the eastern side of the Mediterranean, hiding in Cypress. For the next year he spent his time learning to count cards in blackjack and for the most part avoiding human contact. Feeling a bit healed, he heads home to England after a stop in Atlantic City to make some money at the tables. Back home he meets Russian expatriate waitress Katya over carrot passion cake and latte. He learns she is trapped in an unhappy marriage that she stays in for the sake of her infant Vika. He also meets hotshot gambler "Roulette" Rex Hollings who wants to hire Brooklyn to take care of some troubles. As he tries to avoid Roulette and consider a life with Katya and Vika, Brooklyn's recent past follows him from across the Atlantic where New Jersey police and thugs see him as a person of interest. This urban noir runs along two paths with Brooklyn being the link as he works the Roulette scenario and courts Katya before the two subplots blend together in an over the top climax. The action-packed story line contains several tough with Brooklyn in the middle struggling between making money and running off with Katya. The Russian emigre likes Brooklyn, but believes he can never make room for her child; who is part of her package. Jerry Raine provides a strong London Noir that readers will enjoy wondering just whose side the hero (antihero?) is on.

Dania Deschamps
White Bull Publishers
P.O. Box 1698, Ada, Ok.74821
ISBN: 0976998506, $14.00

At the Casa Marina in Key West the man curses the woman before he slashes her viciously to death, not caring that she is pregnant. At about the same time the homicide occurred, thirty seven years old attorney and mother of two small children (Jordan and Daniella) Dominique Olivet leaves her grumbling spouse Bill in bed to head over to the St, Mary's Church where she informs her friend Linda about the homicide dream. Linda tells her to relax that she will soon know what it means because Dominique has the gift. The police arrests impoverished Ben Hargrave on the Casa Marina murder of Regina. When the Public Defender's Office claimed conflict Judge Juan Sanchez Sr. appoints Dominique to represent Ben who insists he did not kill his beloved Regina. The State of Florida assigns Rolf del Castillo to prosecute what appears to be an open and shut case. However, the obvious is not as lucid as some believe and soon more blood flows leaving Dominique to fear something evil has taken control of Key West. This terrific legal serial killer thriller provides varying perspectives with the most enlightening and fascinating in a macabre way is inside the mind of the killer. The story line is action-packed as the psychopath goes about his grim tasks, of which many are graphically sexually predatory. Readers will ponder the ultimate question of whether an obviously insane person can be evil as free will and knowing right from wrong are missing from their mental and emotional makeup.

William Nicholson
ISBN: 0152057684, $17.00

On the island of Anacrea, Seeker turns sixteen, which means he is now a man. His father, the island's schoolteacher expects Seeker to follow in his footsteps replacing him one day, but the teen prefers to pursue the steps of his older brother, a Nomana "Noble Warrior. Thus he leaves his family to attempt to become a Nomana at the annual Congregation where candidates are selected. His dream is shattered when he is rejected and told to leave. Depressed he meets two other failures, Morning Star and Wildman, a girl and a river rat thief respectively. They commiserate with one another, but Seeker is stunned when he learns the Nomana has publicly exiled his hero, his brother. Needing to know why, Seek and his two allies begin a quest to learn the truth as he refuses to believe his sibling would betray his warrior monk peers. However, their mission turns dramatically dangerous as the trio learns the Nomana are in jeopardy from an insidious powerful enemy who wants them dead sacrificed off the walls of the great city of Radiance. This delightful first tale in the Noble Warriors series targets middle schoolchildren, but adults will also enjoy the coming of age saga due to the escapades of the lead threesome. Their characterizations along with that of several Nomana elders make this fantasy realm seem real. Their adventures turn the story line into an action-packed thriller from the moment the three teens meet and never slows down as they set out to prove they deserve being Nomana. Readers will enjoy trekking with the trio on their quest.

Heart of a Traitor
Angela Verdenius
Wings ePress
ISBN: 1597059765, $TBA

Military sniper Oriel is on a mission with her unit of the Canton Guard to capture or kill the outlaws. Though a superior soldier working her way up the ranks and well prepared for this assignment, which succeeds with precision, Oriel is stunned when she notices her brother Reema is one of the captured outlaws. Oriel knows he will die after a short trial so she tries free him, but that leads to her marked as a traitor with the proof carved into her cheek and her career in ruins with both sides scorning her. Oriel escapes from the military for her act of family fealty and is rescued from potential rape by the outlaws thanks to the Daamen trader Jase and his crew. He provides her a haven to heal from the whipping, which she begins to recuperate from, but the mental beating especially the end of her life goal and her sibling deserting her leave her emotionally shattered. Jase continues to protect the former soldier whom he is falling in love with, but goes slow as he knows her heart and soul remains tattered. This is a terrific entry in the fascinating romantic science fiction The Heart and Soul series because of the lead couple whose relationship evolves over the course of the strong story line as they get to know one another. Jase is patient with his beloved while proving loyal and offering friendship though he wants much more. Oriel is the more fascinating protagonist as she recovers physically but tortures herself mentally over how Reema left her behind to face the punishment though she saved his life and the end of her military career. Angela Verdenius provides another heart winning tale.

Sam Morton
ISBN: 1590804457, $12.00

In Columbia, South Carolina Mike Chandler was forced to resign from the police in disgrace as IA blamed him for the Payne fiasco. Currently he works in the summer heat frying flounder at the Dixie Fish and Oyster Company. Attorney Henry Stearns hires Mike to find a missing person for his wealthy clients; they want Mike to locate missing amateur Civil War historian Parris Bennigan, who had been hired to help this group locate two million dollars in lost silver. Mike easily finds the missing professor in the Bahamas where he learns his clients are influential lethal white supremacists The Board of Directors. The next day Bennigan is assassinated. Back home, the FBI using a phony charge demands Mike help them by infiltrating the deadly BOD. With no choice Mike accepts the job of pretending to be a racist. His only contact is FBI psychologist Dr. Max Sheldon, who is "married" to Mike and pretends to be a mother of a five years old daughter. Mike knows he would risk his life to insure the females in his "family" stay alive from dangerous individuals who willingly kill non-white infants. This gripping police procedural thriller hooks the audience from the opening horrific hospital prologue, picks up speed in the Bahamas and goes into hyper once Mike is forced to go undercover. Mike is a terrific honorable protagonist who gave away his dream to protect others and would die to insure his beloved females are safe, but perhaps the most fascinating character is a white supremacist Jason who provides insight into the belief of those who insist beauty is skin deep. Fans will root for Mike as he risks his life to destroy the powerful BOD.

Run for the Money
Stephanie Feagan
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514018, $4.99

The Chinese Earthquake Relief Fund hired accountant Whitney "Pink" Pearl to keep track of the money they raised. However, CERF accuses Pink of embezzling funds as a new bank account in Kansas mysteriously opens with $200,000 deposited in it that she knows nothing about. Pink realizes whoever set her up was good as the paper trail leads back to her even as she tries to identify who put the money in her account. When co-worker Taylor is murdered in the woman's kitchen with a phone cord the evidence points towards Pink also. Her only hope to extract herself from this mess without prison time relies on the two men who want to marry her, attorney Ed Ravenaldt and Senator Steve Santorelli, and her mom. In her latest money caper (see SHOW HER THE MONEY and SHE'S ON THE MONEY) Pink is back in trouble with the cops closing in on her for absconding with charity funds and homicide, but what really confuses the heroine is choosing between hunks. The action-packed story line starts off at frantic pace and never slows down as the heroine just wants to clear her name, return to Midland, Texas, and delay picking her man. This is another fun follow the money escapade that readers will appreciate.

Flash Back
Justine Davis
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351400X, $4.99

The murder of U.S. Senator Marion Gracelyn, the founder of the Athena Academy, is a cold case now over a decade old. Though chances are slim the alumni and faculty hope to one day solve the case and bring the culprit to justice. Athena Academy graduate FBI forensic scientist Alexandra Forsythe is excited that she has the opportunity to apply the latest technology to the Gracelyn homicide. As she begins to make inquires assisted and encouraged by her Athena peers, someone tries to stop her investigation. That individual obviously is near or at the top of the DC power structure as he or she seems to anticipate every move Alex makes. Her only hope to succeed in staying alive, solving the murder, and bringing down the invincible is with Special Agent Justin Cohen. The latest Athena Academy thriller will exhilarate series fans as the plot focuses on uncovering who killed the founding matriarch. Alex is a typical alum as she effectively investigates the cold case homicide. Justin believes in her and risks his life to assist her and keep her safe. This fast-paced tale grips the audience from start to finish wondering who the culprit is.

Survival Instinct
Doranna Durgin
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513992, $4.99

Karin Sommers decides to go straight after a life as a con artist, but to succeed she knows she must flee her stepfather, She also realizes she needs help so she turns to her half-sister Ellen, who gladly assists her beloved sibling. Alas a happy ending escapes them when Ellen dies in a car accident. Karin becomes Ellen to hide from her stepfather and to avoid arrest as there is now a warrant out on her. One year later investigator Dave Hunter finds her and, thinking she is Ellen, demands she help him locate an abducted boy snatched by her former boyfriend, a probable child molester. Karin agrees to help him though it risks her cover. However, what she fears most is her attraction to the obviously intelligent detective who if she reveals the truth will surely take her in as he is ethical by the book. The key to this action-packed thriller is Karin who feels guilt over Ellen's death, but shock once she learns her half-sister whom she placed on a pedestal had some dark secrets too. While the plot focuses on a desperate attempt to rescue the child and to a degree on the attraction between the sleuth and the woman in hiding, the tale's refreshing angle is the emotions of the heroine. Karin is a terrific center to an action-packed thriller.

Missing Incorporated
Tess Pendergrass
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514026, $4.99

Investigative reporter Magdalena "Mad Max" Riley earned deservedly a reputation for her uncanny ability to finding missing people. She is quite proud of her latest feat, locating missing billionaire Atchison Dantell, believed to be dead in a plane crash in Alaska. However, her elation turns bitter and guilt-laden when the wealthy man apparently commits suicide; she assumes he did not want to be found, her actions exposed him and ultimately led to his taking his life. However, Dantell's son Alex insists his father did not hang himself, but instead was murdered by a clever assailant. However the police feel the death is obvious as Atchison left a note and ignores his son's plea. When Alex vanishes, Max sees a chance at atonement by finding the lad and looking into his accusations that his dad was murdered. Even more dedicated than ever on this quest, Max obtains help from peer Davis Wolfe while someone tries to kill her so she is unable to learn the truth. MISSING INCORPORATED is a terrific action-packed romantic thriller starring two likable dedicated protagonists with Max as the lead and Davis her support when she needs it. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Max emulating Stanley when he met Livingstone says "Atchison Dantell, I presume" and never takes a break as the heroine sees the rescuing of the son as her chance to somewhat atone for her belief that she caused his father's death. Suspense fans will enjoy this fine tale due to the strong heroine and the man who encourages her to be all that she can be and more.

Silent Waters
Jan Coffey
ISBN: 0778323196, $6.99, 384 pp.

The USS Hartford nuclear submarine needs to make emergency repairs. However, Commander Darius McCann soon realizes that there is more to the stop then just a repair. Terrorists have gained control of the sub leaving him and his engineer Amy Russell in a precarious position of trying to stay alive while thwarting the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Connelly and Commander Bruce Dunn conclude something is not right about the Hartford. They team up to figure what that is and soon reach the horrifying conclusion that cold-blooded killers, probably suicide bombers having access to nukes, have gained control of the vessel driving it on a path that is taking it to a panic stricken New York City. SILENT WATERS is an action packed thriller that never slows down from the moment that the Commander realizes his ship has been taken until the final climatic countdown to either the ultimate terrorist act or its prevention. The key players seem genuine especially the beleaguered Americans racing against time to stop a potential suicide bombing that will make 9/11 seem trivial in scope. Jan Coffey provides a strong thriller with a superb political twist that will stun the audience.

Susannah's Garden
Debbie Macomber
ISBN: 0778323021, $23.95

Now fifty Susannah Nelson, wife to her husband Joe who adores her and mother to two wonderful teens (Chrissie and Brian), enjoys teaching fifth graders in Seattle. Not everything is perfect in her life as her dad George recently died and her mom Vivian seems increasingly incapable of taking care of herself. However, what eats at her soul most is recent dreams of her first love from high school Jake Presley. When Susannah turned eighteen, her parents sent her overseas to school. She said her goodbyes to Jake, her brother Doug and her parents not realizing that she would never see her boyfriend or sibling again. Not long after she left, Doug died in a car crash and Jake vanished. Feeling an obsession to know what happened to Jake, Susannah returns to Colville, Washington allegedly to settle her mother in a nursing home. As friction at home suddenly rises from her college aged daughter turned rebel, Susannah with help from a private investigator begins to learn the truth of what happened over three decades ago that tie Jake's disappearance with Doug's death. SUSANNAH'S GARDEN is a fascinating character study that makes the case that hiding facts in order to protect a loved one is not necessarily doing that person any favors. Susannah is an intriguing protagonist as her family cherishes her though a revolt by her daughter has begun and she loves teaching yet finds increasingly pondering choices made for her when she was eighteen until she fixates on learning what happened. Though the support cast seems one-dimensional in comparisons to the fully developed deep star, fans of poignant contemporary tales will appreciate this deep look at a middle age adult struggling to come to terms with the pivotal year in her life though over three decades have passed.

The Trophy Wife
Ginna Gray
ISBN: 0778322904, $6.99, 384 pp.

In Houston, her womanizing former husband Edward Culpepper has done more than just devastated Elizabeth Stanton's self esteem; he has left her broke with the distinct possibly of her losing her River Oaks estate that has been part of her family for generations. Millionaire Max Reardon knows how much steel magnolia Elizabeth wants to save her estate so he offers her a deal. They engage in a marriage of convenience in which her "old money" name will enable his "nouveau wealth" to enter high society and his money will save her heritage. Over the objections of her friends and family Elizabeth agrees. As Max's admiration for Elizabeth turns into love and she reciprocates, he becomes concerned that someone wants her dead. He plans to learn why even as he willingly risks his life to keep her safe. THE TROPHY WIFE is a fun contemporary romantic suspense starring a courageous female and a strong male who marry for the wrong reasons, but quickly find the right reasons to cement their relationship. The lead couple is a delightful pairing who refresh the overly used theme and make for a fine tale as they go from convenience to love. Though the killer is incompetent especially compared to his petite female target, fans will enjoy Ginna Gray's novel as Elizabeth proves to Max she is much more than just THE TROPHY WIFE that he needs as his access to high society.

By Fire and By Sword
Elaine Coffman
ISBN: 0778322882, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1746 Lady Kenna Lennox needs to flee the Highlands before she is murdered by her family enemy Lord Walter, who killed her brothers and tortured her sister. She pleads with American privateer Captain Colin Montgomery to take her to America, but he refuses. Instead she sails to France on the Danish vessel Aethelred II. Kenna becomes a student of a master swordsman Monsieur Le Comte. Meanwhile feeling guilt and desire Colin journeys to France on his ship Dancing Water to insure Kenna is okay. When tragedy strikes, Colin escorts her back to Scotland where she must ignore her need for the handsome colonist as diverting her from her objective to challenge, defeat and kill Walter in a sword duel. Kenna is the focus of this fine eighteenth century romance in which vengeance is what keeps her breathing. The story line is character driven as she flees to Calais and then Paris to learn how to fight before retuning to challenge her greedy adversary. Though Walter never fully comes across as more than an avaricious SOB, fans will enjoy this fine tale starring an intrepid champion trying to ignore love as a detractor to her life's goal, but Colin refuses to go away.

Everything to Prove
Nadia Nichols
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373780869, $5.75

She never met her father as he died in a plane crash twenty-eight years ago just before she was born. However, Dr. Libby Wilson has come home from the lower Forty-Eight to Alaska with a need to know whether someone murdered her father on the day he was to marry her pregnant mother as she suspects his business partner killed him since the will was not changed and he instead of his daughter or his fiancee inherited all. Libby hires Carson Dodge to salvage her dad's plane that crashed into Evening Lake, Alaska. Carson admires Libby's courage and agrees to help her with her quest by bringing up the plane as she wonders whether her theory will prove right. Meanwhile someone, she assumes her prime suspect, will do anything including murder to prevent the plane rising out of the watery grave. This action-packed thriller is made even stronger by the lead couple. Libby is fixated on the truth and her obsession grips the decadent Carson who finds her bravery intoxicating; he believes he has EVERYTHING TO PROVE to her that he is her champion. The powerful lead couple and strong support cast including the Alaskan geography make for a delightful exhilarating romantic suspense that the audience will read in one sitting.

Over His Head
Carolyn McSparren
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713436, $5.75

Following the death of his wife Solange and the interference of his mother-in-law, Chicago Vice principal Tim Wainwright decides to leave the big city to raise his three children in a small town. He accepts a teaching job in Williamston, Tennessee, population 123. Tim and his next door neighbor, veterinary technician Nancy Mayfield are immediately attracted to one another at first sight. However, Nancy is not ready for a relationship especially with a father of three as she has failed once at marriage; Tim still reels from the violent death of his spouse and has doubts becoming involved is good for his children at this time. Neither expected a serial killer will serve as matchmaker as Nancy and Tim risk their lives to protect his children. The romantic subplot between two willing but doubtful individuals is well written gripping readers with a feel that this is the wrong time for the right people. However, the serial killer matchmaking mechanism seems over the top of the Himalayas with believability issues. Still Tim and Nancy are a fine couple and his three children especially the teens feeling they are swimming in the wrong pond make for a fine relationship tale inside a romantic suspense thriller.

Unexpected Complication
Amy Knupp
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373780877, $5.75

International freelance photographer Carey Langford is back home in Iowa pregnant with no boyfriend having ended her relationship with Jerod last month. She debates with herself who she should tell, but rules out everyone except her long time best friend Devin Colyer, Jerod's cousin. However, she even hesitates turning to Devin because she knows he hates Jerod. Still she needs to confide in someone so she tells Devin. After the initial shock passes, Devin, who has loved Carey since high school and would do almost anything for her, has problems with the fact that she is carrying Jerod's child. Still this is his beloved and he must decide whether to tell her how he feels, which also means loving someone else's offspring or losing his last opportunity with Carey. The relationship between Carey and Devin make this an interesting character study with a strong romantic subplot. Devin has always wanted Carey, but she has always seen him as a close friend. Now he has an opportunity to be more, but has doubts about raising someone else's child, especially the offspring of a person he loathes. Fans will enjoy watching his actions and reactions towards the woman he loves and the innocent unborn she carries. Amy Knupp provides a fascinating relationship drama.

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792476, $4.75

In the French Quarter of New Orleans, Josie Villefranche, owner of Hotel Josephine, owes taxes that if not soon paid will mean losing her business. The murder of guest Claire Laraway in room 2D two weeks ago has driven away her customers leading to Josie letting go her last maid go due to her inability to pay her. Drew "Closer" Morrison, known as a business piranha, who can get anyone to sell has arrived to close the deal for a hotel chain to buy Hotel Josephine from a money-strapped Josie. However, the shark is shocked when he finds he is attracted to Josie; she too is taken aback by her desire for her guest. As they share passionate ardent lovemaking, someone tries to force Josie to sell using dangerous deadlier methods that even a Closer like Morrison would never utilize. Drew realizes he must choose between love and money. OBSESSION is a dark modern day gothic romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment that Josie and Drew meet and never slows down whether the scene is fervent heat in the boudoir or someone attempting to force the heroine to sell. Josie's desire to hold on is admirable and a bit obstinate while Drew's past is not something to write home proudly to mother about as he has used some underhanded tactics, but nothing like his rival is doing; before Josie he did not care what anyone thought but now he fears she will accuse him of the dastardly potentially lethal stunts. Tori Carrington provides a gripping blazing thriller.

Afternoon Delight
Mia Zachary
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792514, $4.75

In San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Rei Davis is as tough as anyone when it comes to her work as a family referee. However, since her bout with breast cancer that is in remission, she drew up a life list changing her values and much of her lifestyle. The greatest example is her accepting the lower paying public mediator job instead of the private sector tract to law firm partner she seemed destined to fulfill. Now Rei wants to taste a loving passionate and compassionate relationship with a man preferably Mr. Right. At a night club with her friend Phoebe J. Hollinger she meets computerized dating service owner Chris London. He, like her, seeks his perfect match, but has finally concluded that either there is no one for him or true love is a Hollywood ending. Rei and Chris are attracted to one another, but will the realties of their professional and personal lives destroy what if given time could prove the perfect match. This terrific contemporary relationship drama stars two adults struggling with real problems that will hit home to the audience who will believe both of them are family or neighbors. Rei is terrific as she confronts family issues that could easily destroy the psyche of a person with its seemingly hopelessness while she also fantasizes that there is someone for her. Chris is her perfect partner as he too seeks what he has begun to believe is myth, a woman to love forever. Mia Zachary provides a strong character driven tale that seems authentic and is well written that the audience will enjoy an AFTERNOON'S DELIGHT reading it.

The Birdman's Daughter
Cindi Myers
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 037388088X, $5.50

In Texas Sara Engel calls her married daughter Karen McBride to inform her that her father, bird watcher extraordinaire Martin suffered a stroke while in Brazil. Reluctantly Karen returns home for the first time in sixteen years to help her mom cope with her ailing father, whom she feels always loved his bird friends more than her. Meanwhile her loyal steady husband Tom is angry with Karen for not showing to him or their teenage children that she cares about anyone. He insists if she loves them she will give more of her to them. Pondering what Tom says, Karen wonders if her estranged relationship with her dad has led to her holding back on the love she feels for her spouse and their children. She begins to feel that if somehow for the first time in their lives she can reach out to her father, perhaps when she returns to Denver she can do likewise with Tom and their kids. Like Tom, readers will find it difficult to empathize with the somewhat aloof Karen though at the same time the audience will want her to reconcile with her dad and show to her family how much she cherishes them. Martin is an intriguing support player whose global adventures as a bird watcher is fascinating, but his struggles and frustrations to recover from the stroke make him a memorable individual. Character driven, THE BIRDMAN'S DAUGHTER is a fine family drama.

Dirty Harriet
Miriam Auerbach
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880901, $5.50

In Boca Raton, Florida, Harriet Horowitz has lived the so called good life of local high society. However, she also has a secret; her spouse is abusive towards her in private. At the end of her rope, Harriet decides the glimmer is not worth the assaults. At a gala attended by the elite of Southern Florida, Harriet shoots her spouse in a case ruled as self defense as witnessed by 500 revelers. Harriet leaves the Boca area on a Harley; she relocates by the Everglades planning to start over away from the trappings of high society. She decides to bring in income by becoming a private investigator. A "friend" from her belle of the ball days as a socialite asks Harriet to investigate the death of a migrant worker that DIRTY HARRIET begins to believe was a cold blooded murder that the police have little interest in solving. Besides a terrific investigative tale, DIRTY HARRIET is a deep look at the lifestyle of migrant field workers that should be mandatory reading for those in Congress who paint immigration issues as us and them. The story line is action packed from the moment her abusive spouse makes the heroine's day and never slows down as Harriet investigates the death of a "nonentity". Miriam Auerbach provides a puissant tale using dark humor and starring a fabulous champion who deserves future tales.

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Jennifer Skully
ISBN: 0373771045, $5.99

In San Francisco Madison O'Donnell has worked as secretary to tax consultant T. Laurence Hobbs at Carp, Alta & Hobbs, CPAs. Already a zany free spirit, Madison expects to die in two weeks so she looks for one passionate sexual encounter with the man she loves; though no prospects are at hand. When she receives a wrong number, Madison agrees to meet the caller Richard for dinner over the objection of her prim and proper by the bottom line T. Laurence who worries for her safety. T. Laurence ponders whether he should become her lover as he has always admired what her short skirts reveal though he rationalizes that it is to keep her safe from a maniac. As he makes his pitch, the attraction that everyone else in the office has seen ignites into passion and love, but can a free spirit and her polar opposite forge a permanent relationship. This is a lighthearted office romance based on the premise opposites attract. The story line is amusing, but contains serious tomes on harassment, client fees, and office romances especially between a superior and his direct reporting employee. Though Madison ignores potential personal danger with strangers probably because she believes in her life's countdown, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance.

The Treasure Man
Pamela Browning
Harlequin American
ISBN: 037375115X, $4.99

Jewelry designer Chloe Timberlake agrees to look after the Frangipani Inn while her cousin Gwynne, the owner, completes her Masters. When she arrives in Sanluca, Florida near the Everglades, she is shocked to see how run down the once magnificent B&B has become. Even more stunning is to see former Sea Search Inc. diver Ben Derrick lurking about. When she was a teen who spent a summer here she had a crush on him that he ignored. Chloe and Ben agree that he can stay rent free in return for doing needed repairs. As they reside in the inn, Chloe can see how despondent Ben is and how much she still wants him. She tries to help him heal the mental anguish of a diving tragedy even while they fall in love, but he resists coming out of his mental self harangue even for love. The lead couple seems real and because they do they are able to keep this delightful contemporary romance from falling into a soap opera. Chloe is terrific as she enables the miserable Ben a second chance at life if he finds the courage to go for it. Pamela Browning provides a deep character study of a man whose tragic past has left him a shell of a man. Only the patience and nurturing of love can bring the opportunity to heal to his tormented soul.

His Baby Bonus
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751141, $4.99

In Fort McKenzie, Oregon, eight months pregnant Gracie Sherwood is under the protection of the US Marshall Service witness protection program to keep her safe from her former husband dangerous Bolivian trafficker Vicente Delgado who just escaped from prison and plans to stop her from testifying against him in court. U.S. Marshal Beauregard "Beau" is assigned to keep her safe, but though she knows Vicente has an ego larger than Vermont and will come for her, the feisty woman refuses to stay hidden. Instead she insists on going to San Francisco to participate in the Culinary Art Invitational cooking competition as she feels she can win and subsequently provide herself and her unborn with a strong new start. Gracie sneaks out of her cocoon only to have someone, most likely Delgado try to kill her. Beau rescues her as she now realizes how precarious her situation truly is. However, Beau admires the courageous chef and soon finds he cannot resist kissing her. However the recipe for love has a detour named Delgado that first must be dealt with and then there is the soon to born infant next. Though similar stories have been told using the witness protection program as a matchmaking device, the pregnancy keeps the tale fresh. The brave Gracie refuses to allow her ex, her pregnancy or the marshal service to stop her plans. Beau sees the beautiful inner woman and does not allow the fact that she is carrying the child of a bad seed to admire and desire (in spite of eight months – that's real love) her. HIS BABY BONUS is a fine romantic suspense.

Beware of Virtuous Women
Kasey Michaels
ISBN: 037377107X, $6.99

In 1813 the infamous dangerous Red Men Gang viciously compete with the Beckett lead family who are smuggling near Romney Marsh because it helps bring food to the nearby villagers. Something must be done as the Red Men Gang is turning ugly in their pursuit of a monopoly. Family patriarch Captain Ainsley Beckett accepts friend Jack Eastwood's plan that the latter go undercover to learn who in London society leads the violent gang. Ainsley's adopted daughter Eleanor offers to pretend to be Jack's wife while in London shocking her family as she is so reserved and seemingly fragile. Jack agrees that having a spouse will enhance his cover, but wonders if Eleanor has the steel to do the job. In London he quickly learns that his "spouse" is intelligent, efficient and courageous, but that she hides secrets from him. These secrets could place them in danger because the prime suspect of the Red Men Gang leaders Earl Rowley Maddox knows the truth about Eleanor. Jack realizes with every risk he takes he realizes much he loves the enigmatic Eleanor. The third Romney Marsh regency tale (see THE DANGEROUS DEBUTANTE and A GENTLEMAN BY ANY OTHER NAME) is a terrific romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment Eleanor volunteers. Less humorous than the previous two triumphant tales, readers will enjoy the amateur sleuthing of the lead couple as much as they're falling in love. Perhaps the only negative to this great historical and series is that book four is next year.

Suzanne Forster
Harlequin Spice
ISBN: 0373605064, $13.95

Madison Avenue Creative Director at Pratt-Summers advertising firm Tess Wakefield is working extra hard to obtain Faustini as a client. However, peer Danny Gabriel somehow manages to get Faustini to film the ads in the S&M the Marquis Club. The enigmatic club owner agrees to allow the shooting in his club under one condition. Tess must spend three days with him inside his club. Tess reluctantly accepts the terms because she needs the account and as a celibate she feels sex is a zero following several years of loser boyfriends and rashes in her late teens and early twenties. The thirtyish Tess assumes she can handle anything until she is inside the club with the cagey owner who is a different story altogether. He is the master of domination and she finds she likes letting him take control of her desires. The heat is on with this bedroom, boardroom, and club room (dungeon) erotica romance with a dominative-submissive relationship. The sex scenes are filled with spice and the relationship between the lead couple is fascinating and very different than 99% of the genre's novels. Neither Tess nor Danny come across as likable once the audience joins them inside the club, but the audience will not care as clearly this is intended for discrete fans that will enjoy this vibrant read.

Getting Even
Kayla Perrin
Harlequin Spice
ISBN: 0373605072, $13.95, 400 pp.

Though from different walks of life, the three women (Claudia, Annalise, and Lashelle) met at college and have remained friends over the next decades. As they turn thirty each has male problems feeling as if the respective men in their lives mentally abuse them. Lashelle divorced David over two years ago when his girlfriend introduced herself as the mother of his child. Now he wants Lachelle back and is stalking her though she tells him it is over. Claudia has been seeing Adam for four years. He owns her heart, but with their nuptials in six weeks, he has major marital doubts. Five years married to Charles, photographer Annalise is wondering what happened to their relationship. Increasingly they grow apart and the passion they once shared seems dead. Angry with treatment from the men who should treasure them, the trio bond in their need of GETTING EVEN with males that abused their efforts to please them. The tale rotates perspective between the three lead females so for much of the novel, the audience actually has a trio of stories until near the end their schemes for vengeance bring the subplots together. This technique makes for fascinating comparisons between how the women cope with male problems, but also never full develops or engages the men. Readers will understand the motives of the women as they on the other hand are three dimensional. Filled with sex and the related "vernacular", fans of contemporary girl loves boy, boy mistreats girl, girl avenges mistreatment tales will want to read this hot spicy novel.

Looking for Mr. Goodfrog
Laurie Graff
Red Dress (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373895739, $12.95, 336 pp.

Forty-six years old actress Karrie Kline has dated and kissed many frogs, but she remains single still LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG. She knows her quest for her pond mate means YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, but this becomes increasingly depressing. Still her experiences with the dating scene has given her plenty of material for her one woman show, but no man seems right to escort her to the wedding of her best friend Brooke. Thus as the one year clock ticks away for her to find the perfect date, Karrie panics turning to the internet. Men seem to come out every nick, cranny, and frond as many respond to her simple inquiries. She finds herself visiting parts of New York City she never heard of on dates that in some cases are fun but he is not the one or just plain hell and he is definitely not anyone's one. Karrie ponders if she will be dancing with married men and single females at Brooke's nuptials. This is an anecdotal chick lit tale and readers will enjoy Karrie's perspective of her dates, especially her prejudicial insight to her date mates from that first glance, to a warm embracing dance, to the first kiss, and the post game analysis of thumbs up or down. Though somewhat defeated, Karrie keeps on seeking her Goodfrog by dumping those she considers as losers and desperately clinging to keep those she considers as possibilities. Readers will enjoy this amphibious sequel starring dating in the New York City pond.

Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights
Kyra Davis
Red Dress
ISBN: 037389578X, $21.95

San Francisco mystery writer Sophie Katz wants to find her homicides in her novels only as she still remains a bit shook following her involvement in a murder mystery (see SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE). Still she cannot help but get involved when her sister Leah Miller is the prime suspect in the murder of her nasty spouse Bob, a Republican politician. Adding to the noise, Bob's biological family blames the media of being suckers about the African-American Jewish Leah; in fact his sister is just short of accusing Leah of committing the homicide of her "beloved" sibling. Unable to stay on the sidelines, Sophie decides to get involved though it means raking the deceased over the coals for his hedonistic lifestyle. Reluctantly she obtains the services of the most detestable delectable private investigator she knows Anatoly Darinsky (come to think of it the only sleuth she knows. Anatoly agrees to help while the police detective in charge Lorenzo warns Anatoly to watch himself. Together Sophie and Anatoly begin to make inquires starting with Bob's three mistresses and his profligate spending on costly luxuries mostly for his other women. Once again, Sophie's undeniably implausible schemes make for a fun whodunit with a delightful romantic subplot. The story line is humorous as Sophie's plots go awry and the eccentric appealing yet obviously caricatures augment the City by the Bay joyride. PASSION, BETRAYAL AND KILLER HIGHLIGHTS is a fine lighthearted chick lit mystery.

Thunderhead Falls
CE Murphy
Luna (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373802358, $14.95

Though she possesses supernatural powers, Joanne Walker ignores them even when they would make life easier. The Seattle police officer wants to live a normal life and be the best cop on the force; besides her superior Captain Morrison is watching her since the URBAN SHAMAN saving the world incident. Thus she rarely employs magic fearing Morrison will fire her. However, Joanne's shunning of her shaman skills is put to the test when she finds a corpse at the university showers. The victim belongs to a coven whose associates turn to her for help. They insist that the eternal war between good and evil has taken a critical turn with the enemy becoming the more powerful and their only hope rests with an ancient demi-god Virissong coming to earth to join the forces of good to tip the balcony back. To succeed in expediting his return, the coven needs Joanne's help. She wonders if she should trust them as placing the fate of humanity on a being from beyond could tip the balance to the wrong side. Either way Joanne knows she must learn to use her magical ability as demons arrive in Seattle, which implies Armageddon seems around the corner but her spirit and taxi guides are both out of commission. THUNDERBIRD FALLS is a terrific police procedural fantasy starring a delightful protagonist still struggling with the magical skills she inherited as defined by her birth name Siobhan Walkingstick vs. her legal name of Joanne Walker. The fast-paced story line moves out rather quickly from the moment Joanne finds the dead woman in a nearby shower and never slows down, though filled with doubts and hesitation, she knows she must act, but do what is the question. Readers will enjoy Joanne's walk through the Dead Zone in this gripping thriller.

Michele Hauf
Luna (Harlequin)
ISBN: 037380234X, $13.95, 416 pp.

In 1437 in the French village of St. Renan, the residents have become complacent because no dragons have come seeking the vast hoard in years. That abruptly changes when a flock of dragons descend upon the village killing anyone outside when they flew over the site. The village has a dragon slayer Rhiana Tassot, a warrior who is not afraid to enter the dragon's lair. She differs from her neighbors as she can belch fire and is not burned when fires strikes her. Rhiana has no explanation for these phenomena and even her own mother keeps a distance from her changeling daughter. With so many dragons in the area, she welcomes fellow dragon slayer Macarius Fleche, the son of the father who trained Rhiana in dragon fighting. In an odd development Baron Guiscard forbids the two slayers from killing any dragons. Unless they disobey his orders, many innocent people will die; but by doing so Rhiana and Macrius would become outlaws. In a society that thinks women are weak, Rhiana proves they can be warriors too, just ask SERAPHIM or GOSSYMYR. There is plenty of action in this exciting romantic fantasy even as the heroine has doubts about the love of her life which adds a charming subplot to a fantasy that can be too tense at times. RHIANA needs to know more about her heritage as she can sense when dragons are near by the tingling in her blood. She makes the tale soar as Michele Hauf provides an entertaining tale that will elate her numerous fans.

Occasional Demons
Rick Hautala
Cemetery Dance
ISBN: 158767095X, $40.00

This anthology consists of eighteen horror tales with some being straight genre entries, others psychological terror and finally a few shorts also include science fiction elements. The middle section contains eight "Untcigahunk Stories and Myths of the Little Brothers" that derive from the author's novel LITTLE BROTHERS (published in the 1980s); and finally three collaborations with family and friends and "maybe" a pseudonym. All twenty-nine entries are well written and fun to read. The opening segment of eighteen and closing of three tales will entertain the audience as the stories especially those with a twist such as a spin on abortion that rounds out the right to life before you are born position in a surprising final demise of women's rights or the tale that acts more like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. The eight Untcigahunk Indian entries are the best of a solid anthology with their dark horror fantasy feel to them. As with Rick Hautala's previous compilation BEDBUGS, readers will enjoy this fine collection.

Prodigal Blues
Gary A. Braunbeck
Cemetery Dance
ISBN: 1587671093, $40.00, 310 pp.

After driving from Cedar Hill to Topeka to sign some papers so his sister can claim her inheritance, janitor Mark Seiber is on his way home when his car breaks down. A helpful police officer refers Mark to a kind tow truck operator-mechanic who informs him the vehicle his bother-in-law lent him cannot be repaired today and the nearest rental place will be open tomorrow. Mark stays at a motel by a truck stop that serves delicious fish dinners. While eating, Mark notices the young girl he saw three times on the road; she sits at his table and introduces herself as Denise. She insists she was abducted from this rest stop two years ago and warns him. Mark returns to his room. Someone claiming to deliver food knocks on his door. When he opens it, the person who knocks uses a taser on him. When Mark awakens he finds himself prisoner of young adults, all of whom share in common their abduction by a sexual predator Grendel who tortured and scarred them both physically and mentally. They demand Mark take them home to their parents and will not hesitate with the use of brute force to insure he complies. As he gets to know these abused mutilated victims, he sympathizes with them and vows to insure they obtain a happy ending. There are graphic descriptions of violence that accentuate the underlying message that parents must protect their young ones because sexual predators are deviously clever and nearby. The youthful kidnappers earn the empathy of the audience and Mark once we and he understand their plight. Though disfigured each young adult and child has shown great inner strength not allowing the monster to mentally break them. This is a poignant cautionary thriller that grips readers from the moment the hero is abducted and never slows down until the final twist.

Destinations Unknown
Gary A. Braunbeck
Cemetery Dance
ISBN: 1587670852, $40.00

"The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss". He had one too many when he drove and was stopped by John Law. He was given community service at the city morgue but offered a deal that would wipe clean his record. There would be no DUI if he transports the corpse of elderly Miss Driscoll back to her hometown. He drove ambulances in Nam so this could not be worse than that; he agrees. He drives to a town not listed on any map whose exit simply says Exit. He will soon learn the truth of driving Miss Driscoll home. "Congestion". He detests driving, but still decided to drive himself to the hospital. Now he sits in a traffic jam less than one mile from his destination with him at the epicenter of a zillion vehicles engulfing him endlessly. To add to his discomfit his air conditioner is broken on a day in which it would seem torrid in the equator. He has his nitro pills handy, as no one moves except a familiar looking skater heading towards him. "Merge Right". Matt is tired after the long business trip and is happy to be on I271 nearing home though suddenly nothing seems right with no traces of any other life including no other cars anywhere and every sign says MERGE RIGHT. There are no exits in sight and he cannot find home. The road will never be the same following Gary Braunbeck's suspense filled horror novella (The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss) and two psychological ghostly shorts. All three tales keeps the audience reading while wondering what is really going on. At the final destination, fans will simply know the next signpost has to be in the Twilight Zone as Mr. Braunbeck provides three thrillers that Rod Serling would have appreciated.

The Long Last Call
John Skipp
Cemetery Dance
ISBN: 1558761360, $40.00, 210 pp.

In the back yards of America is the strip joint Sweet Thangs, a place where those who have no hope go to and see a stripper who has no dreams take off all her clothes. They have no ambition so they have no expectation of bettering themselves, just like Hank who stops there to forget losing the only woman he ever loved. It is almost closing time and the only customers are the regulars who have no other place they would rather be because no one wants them. In walks a tall dark handsome man who is carrying a suitcase full of money. He tips the strippers excessively, demands they go to more extreme lengths to obtain money. Sex is not what he wants but he gets what he came for when he touches each person and the slime on his hands goes into their bodies turning them into the people they really are behind their masks. He feeds on their hatred, lusts, anger and sins as he done for eons. By the end OF THE LONG LAST CALL he expects that everyone will be dead. He is for the first time in millennia surprised at the outcome. Readers who have a weak stomach will not want too read this graphic horror novel. It is a chilling work filled with plenty of violence, sex, gore and depravity and though the audience keeps wondering who the stranger is, they will make good guesses based on his actions. The people in Sweet Thangs are a microcosm of the malevolence that infects much of the human race and John Skips brilliantly uses one entity to symbolic that evil. Read THE LONG LAST CALL at your own risk.

My Loco Life
Lee McClain
Smooch (Dorchester)
ISBN: 0843956615, $5.99

Teen Alicia Jimenez likes her latest foster parents and enjoys her new high school especially since the school offers her a design class. She hopes that her talent will enable her to win a scholarship to attend design school in Spain. However, Alicia accepts that besides having to win a competition, she has one minor problem. She has not spoken Spanish since her family abandoned her years ago. She turns to the hunk next door Hector Cardona to tutor her in speaking Spanish though she would not mind instruction in biology too. However, he is dating the school queen, her rival in the fashion design contest. Alicia sets her mind at winning the competition for the scholarship and for Hector. In her third "My Life" novel (see MY ALTERNATE LIFE and MY ABNORMAL LIFE), Lee McClain provides a warm insightful teen tale that young adults will enjoy because they will understand and commiserate with Alicia. While Hector is a caring hunk, Alicia owns the tale as she sets goals for herself that she strives to achieve. For a change, the foster parents are nice, kind people and not out of a psycho ward. This is a fine entry in a wonderful series.

The Gate to Eden
Cathy McDavid
ISBN: 0843956925, $5.99

In 1886, the women of Edenville, Arizona Territory are devastated when a mine explosion kills all their men. Blaming the owners for unsafe conditions that led to the deaths of loved ones, the females led by Maddie Campbell decide to insure a modicum of justice occurs as the mining company got off without a look back at widows and children. Maddie and her merry women begin robbing the mine owners. The owners hire former US Marshall Scott McSween to catch the criminals. Maddie realizing that an ex lawman is after her and her band decides the best way to fool Scott is to seduce him before dumping him so that he assumes with his male-brain that she is all woman and could not be an outlaw. However, though she likes his kisses and his looks, Maddie only reconsiders her ruse when she observes how kind Scott is with her daughter. THE GATE TO EDEN is a super western romance whose timing is sadly appropriate with recent mining disasters depressed further by excuses and alibis especially by the regulatory agencies. Fans will appreciate the women who seek justice while the mine owners have the law on their side in spite of negligence and dangerous working conditions. The action-packed story line grips the audience who will wonder what Scott will do once he learns the truth.

The Julian Secret
Gregg Loomis
ISBN:0843956917, $6.99, 384 pp.

Former CIA agent Don Huff is in Seville, Spain writing a book about Sturmbahnfuher Skorzeny, an intimate member of Hitler's circle. One day when his housekeeper enters the house, she sees him shot to death. When lawyer Lang Reilly was asked by Ron's daughter to come to Spain to see if he can find any clues since the police aren't doing anything, he agrees because the deceased was his friend. Lang and his lover Gurt who is a CIA agent on leave find out that all traces of his work on the hard drive are missing and the discs are missing. After asking lots of questions he notices they are being followed. When they return to the states Lang is shot and his car is blown up. Someone wants to make sure he and Gurt don't discover something that was in the manuscript, but if they want to stay alive that is something they must do. They travel across Europe, followed by assassins who keep trying to kill them and end up in Vatican City where secrets from the third century, World War II, and the present are revealed. THE JULIAN SECRET is a riveting and exciting thriller that captures reader interest from the first page and keeps it throughout the entire book. Fans of Dan Brown will find this book just as riveting as the Da Vinci Code. Gregg Loomis is a talented storyteller who excels at creating characters that are heroic in an Indiana Jones sort of way. The protagonist performs tremendous feats so the audience feels he is an extraordinary person called to perform measures that would defeat a lesser person.

Bobbi Smith
ISBN: 084395664X, $6.99

In 1879 the Tucker Gang killed his family; the cold blooded outlaws assumed Texas Ranger Clint Williams was amongst the dead they left behind. However, he survives the ordeal at least physically; mentally he is a zombie thirsting for revenge. Clint turns himself into deadly gunslinger Kane McCullough seeking to end the Tucker killing spree and has no thoughts beyond that. A clue takes Kane to Dry Springs. There he intervenes when a drunk assaults Rachel Hammond, daughter of the local reverend. Rachel and Kane are attracted to one another, which surprises him as he thought Clint was dead. Still she remains wary because she feels he is hiding something from her. When he tells her the truth about who he is following an incident which left them in a compromising position, they agree to wed even though each knows he must complete his quest before they can pursue a real future together. Bobbi Smith provides a fine western romance starring a hero who lives for vengeance until he meets his second chance at life and redemption. Interestingly, his concerns change from stopping the murderous Tucker Gang to how to keep his beloved Rachel safe. Fans of late nineteenth century Texas High Noon showdowns will want to read DEFIANT and Ms. Smith's previous sub-genre entries (see BRAZEN).

Crimson Rogue
Liz Maverick
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526255, $6.99

Though everyone assumes that B-Ops Agent Cydey Brighton died when she vanished during a ferocious bloody fight, the demon Griff-Vai had actually kidnapped her and has kept her imprisoned in the underworld. However, waiting for the right moment Cydney overcomes a Druid and takes an amulet that enables her to escape through a portal back to Crimson City. However, during the months of incarceration, the world she knew is no longer the same as the demon horde has assaulted the city abetted by rogues from the other three prime sentient species; Cydney can understand vampires and werewolves somewhat, but not Quisling humans. Readjustment proves difficult with only Finn the half human Mech machine empathizing with Cydney. They team up to try to save a city and a world, but while doing so begin to fall in love. However as each ponders whether a half machine and a no longer quite human can forge a relationship, stopping the demon minions comes first. This is a terrific conclusion to a stunning excellent romantic fantasy saga authored by several writers including Liz Maverick who opened and closes the tales. Fans of the Crimson City novels will be elated by the fabulous last battle twist and with how well Ms. Maverick ties up the loose ends through a fascinating pairing of two protagonists who appeared in previous chronicles. Newcomers will be better suited to obtain the previous five books, but worth the effort as all are top of the line. The only down is no more Crimson City novels as these have provided much entertainment over the past year.

Portrait of a Man
Tracy Fobes
Love Spell
ISBN: 050552578X, $6.99

Even as a child Alexis Conner found the paranormal fascinating and as a scientist authenticates or debunks the mystical. However even she is a bit taken aback in Philadelphia when a hunk seemingly steps through a portrait of Lincoln and begins kissing her. Later at her apartment Alexis meets Rourke of Calandor, who insists he is from a different world Blackfell. He further explains a portrait of her on his side and that of Lincoln on hers contain a portal between time and space. Furthermore his need for her so deep it enabled him to use the portal to be with her. He and his people need Alexis to come to his realm as she is considered the lone hope to stop a plague destroying his race. PORTRAIT OF A MAN is an intriguing time travel science fiction romance that paints an interesting future of a world in which the scarcity of females has led the gender to become a valuable commodity. The lead pair is delightful as Alexis used to anything under the sun has problems adapting to a distant future that makes the Dark Ages look enlightened. Though well written, this reviewer recommends first reading the previous thriller (see PORTRAIT OF A BRIDE) as explanations of why are more apt to be found in that tale than in this exciting story line. Still Tracy Fobes provides a wonderful "devastated" realm tale.

The Deadliest Denial
Colleen Thompson
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526700, $6.99, 384 pp.

When San Antonio Policy Sergeant Raul Contreras and Buck County Sheriff Joel Shepherd visit Claire Winslow, she fears the worst bring that her beloved husband died in the line of duty as his partner recently did. However, she realizes there are things apparently worse than death when the two law enforcement officials inform her that her police officer spouse Spence has been arrested in Little Bee Creek charged with killing Adam Strickland over gambling debts. In shock, by their accusations, she is further stunned when they insist she was his next target. Claire has further problems when someone vandalizes her horse ranch several times. As she panics over why someone is attacking her, Spence skips bail to see her. He pleads with her that he is innocent and plans to prove this; he also asks her to trust in their love. Claire wonders if he can be that good of a performer that he seems to be telling her the truth because she knows the two cops who insist her husband wanted her dead and that Spence was psychological struggling with his partner's death. Of course she realizes he could have achieved his objective rather easily if that was his true goal so she agrees to help him not knowing the risk from the person who betrayed both of them. Though readers know early on that Spence is an innocent fugitive, Colleen Thompson provides a powerful thriller as the beleaguered hero seems unable to prove it (think of Dr. Kimball). The story line is action-packed yet the key lead couple seems genuine especially Claire, who wants to believe, but has doubts. Though coincidence is used to uncover clues, fans of psychological police procedural will appreciate this tense, exciting and entertaining thriller.

Karen Kingsbury
ISBN: 1414307659, $22.99

In the DC area at one of her women's shelter, Mary Madison is briefed by her receptionist Leah Hamilton that her newest resident Emma Randall looks suicidal and ready to bolt. Battered and with no hope, the twenty-three year old Emma considers herself unworthy and ready to flee now that her two young children are safe from their abusive father Charlie. However, Leah softly gets Emma to meet with the legendary Mary while four years old Kami and two years old Kaitlyn play with dolls. Mary shocks the frightened Emma by asking if she should like to hear her story not just the media account. Hesitantly Emma agrees so Mary explains how Jesus loved her and saved her. She was a little girl when her hooker mother took them to stay with her maternal Grandma Peggy who gives the little girl a purse with scripture inside. However, her mother immediately removed them back to the streets. When she scores a three day job with out of town Johns, her mom leaves Mary with her pimp; the last time they saw one another. From that moment Mary battled the seven demons that lead to sin and helplessness until she meets a believer who introduces her to Jesus. This is a terrific modernization of Mary Magdalene living in Washington DC and using her story to encourage other people especially women that hope lies with Jesus. Mary's tale is told in flashbacks, which enhances how far she has come. Karen Kingsbury provides a deep character study of how one woman with help overcame seven contemporary demons (drugs, prostitution, etc.), but also makes no apologies that the author believes the path is with Jesus; readers who want a clear split between state and religion may find the religious message overbearing, but everyone will agree that Ms. Kingsbury provides an entreating parable starring a modernized Magdalene.

Maggie's Story
Dandi Daley Mackall
Thirsty (Tyndale)
ISBN: 1414309783, $9.99, 303 pp.

He heals the sick and feeds the poor. He raises the dead and has charisma that attracts people to him from all walks of life. Those in his inner circle believe he is the Son of God. This is not Jesus Christ; instead this is Josh Davidson. Christ never came to earth as claimed by those in the first century, but now God sends his Son to protect and preach to the masses. Maggie is a sinner who uses sex, drugs, and alcohol to dull her pain. She once tried suicide but failed and now just tries to numb her anguish. When Josh's path crosses hers, she walks away from him, but then returns to him as she is drawn to him and his message of forgiveness. Maggie becomes a devoted follower preaching with him in Ohio. She knows deep in her heart that Josh forgave her sins even if she cannot forgive them herself. Yet she is the one who sees him first when he rises from the dead and when the time is right she will be one of hiss followers to spread his message. Although this book is aimed at young adults, older readers will enjoy reading Maggie's story immensely. Everything that happened to Jesus happens to Josh in the twenty-first century. Josh's message spreads around the world rather quickly because of advanced communications, which also means he is a threat to the powerful. Maggie represents a modern day Mary Magdalene as Dandi Daley Mackall makes the case that the Son of God could have come at any time and attracts the same followers and detractors. MAGGIE'S STORY will be cherished by readers.

Angela Hunt
ISBN: 1414310285, $13.99, 425 pp.

In the first century in Israel, nobody hates the Roman occupation more than Miryam. She is married to a fisherman and has her own business in the market place. Her oldest son Avram preaches rebellion and spits on a centurion's foot. In retaliation that soldier Gaius has his men including Atticus burn the house down killing Miryan's son, pregnant daughter-in-law and her beloved husband. Atticus Aurelius finds an infant and in direct disobedienceto his superior's orders gets him to safety. Miryam, who was spared because she was away from the house, goes mad with hatred and allows demons to possess her. It is only when Yeshua comes along and casts them out does the bereaved widow and mother regain her sanity and becomes a direct follow of the rabbi. She follows him as he preaches thinking that he will somehow avenge her for what Rome did for her family Miryam witnesses his resurrection and spreads the truth about his divinity to the people. However her hatred for Atticus and Gaius and desire for revenge almost causes her to commit one of the biggest sins of all. In case anyone hasn't guessed it by now, this is the story of Mary Magdalene. Angela Hunt has written a meticulously researched and well told story of Mary Magdalene one of the most controversial people in Christ's ministry. The author makes the era come alive, populating the storyline with actual historical figures and allowing the reader to visualize the turbulence during Christ's earthly ministry and the disciples who spread his word around the world. This is a fascinating work based on biblical and historical details.

The Virgin of Small Plains
Nancy Pickard
ISBN: 0345470990, $23.95

The sheriff and two men found the frozen corpse of a battered young woman with blood between her legs. They bring her body to the local doctor and he smashes the visage beyond recognition. However, none of the men realize someone witnessed what they did. The judge's son Mitch, looking for a Trojan to make love with the doctor's daughter Abby, saw what they did and recognized the woman before they ruined her face. The next day his parents send Mitch off to college and cut him off from his friends and family in Small Plains, Kansas. They tell him to stay away or the doctor and the sheriff will accuse him of murder. The townsfolk feel sorry for the victim and when no one comes forward claiming her, they provide a descent burial. Over time people visit her grave because it is said that's she thanks the town by performing miracles. Seventeen years alter Mitch returns and the secrets that the powerful men hid are in danger of being revealed. Fans of Nancy Pickard's Jenny Cain mysteries will treasure her new work of psychological suspense with gothic overtones. As the story of what happened seventeen years ago parallels the subplot of Mitch's return to his hometown, readers feel a sense of foreboding as if something terrible is about to occur. Fantastic characterizations, several exciting subplots that tie into the main story line and a glimpse of small town justice make THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS a special reading experience.

Final Truth
Mariah Stewart
ISBN: 0345483839, $19.95, 250 pp.

Lester Ray Barnes is eight weeks away from lethal injection after his he was convicted of raping and torturing a woman who is in an irreversible coma. When the owner of the Fremont Lab used to test DNA found at crime scenes gave false testimony, another inmate was freed as the lab workers could not match his DNA to the crime. The lab owner admits he committed perjury; many convicts are going to be freed as the DA lacks any other substantial evidence. Famous true crime writer Regan Landry becomes interested in the Barnes case and soon discovers that the prosecution witness who identified Barnes as being at the crime scene was coerced by the police to give false testimony. The state is forced to free Barnes. Afterward Regan meets Barnes to interview him. However a series of murders of young women occur with Barnes as the prime suspect. Regan risks her life to bring down Barnes while her FBI boyfriend Mitch Peyton panics over her safety. Mariah Stewart brings her Truth series to a delightful close with a fantastic suspense thriller that will appeal to mystery and romance fans. The romance between the heroine and the Fed serves as strong background to the fast-paced story line. FINAL TRUTH is a superb exciting finish starring a believable courageous woman.

Jonathan Kellerman
ISBN: 0345452615, $26.95

Dylan Meserve and Michaela Brand met at the PlayHouse where they were taking an Inner Drama seminar. During the day he sold sneakers and she was a waitresses as both out of towners hoped to take Hollywood by storm. No one would care back home, Brooklyn and Phoenix respectively, if something happened to either of them. The two lovers vanish on the way home from a rehearsal. Three days later, they reappear battered and terrified near Latigo Canyon on a remote windy segment of the Malibu mountainside. Each claims a masked maniac abducted and tortured them. Their horrific tale fails to hold up under the slightest police inquiry and rather quickly empathy turns to loathing for perpetrating such a publicity stunted hoax. LAPD arrests Dylan and Michaela for false filing and the court orders psychological evaluations. Psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware examines Michaela; he concludes she has some emotional issues especially depression and stress, but he also believes that her current overt conditions are caused by her being caught. He also feels there is something deeper, perhaps even a psychosis that he failed to identify in the short e had with her. Not long afterward, someone brutally kills Michaela with the missing Dylan as the prime suspect; that is if he is still alive. LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis assisted by Delaware begins the investigation. The latest Delaware investigative tale is one of the best of this long running award winning series because the two wannabe actors provide a fascinating look at how far someone will go to achieve fame. The story line maintains a high degree of excellence, but is especially at its best when Alex, somewhat frustrated, talks with Michaela. Police procedural fans and those readers who appreciate a powerful psychological thriller will want to read GONE, a strong exciting thriller.

The Marriage Spell
Mary Jo Putney
ISBN: 0345449185, $24.95, 336 pp.

In 1813 in the Midlands, Lord Jack Frayne rides his horse Dancer during a foxhunt, but when they make a leap, the steed loses its footing and slips; Jack goes flying head first into a fence. His best friends since their Stonebridge Academy days Lords Ashby and Ransom are beside themselves as Jack nears death. Healer Abigail Barton, who has secretly loved Jack from afar, tries to help him but his injuries are beyond her magic. Though non-practitioners as the aristocracy sees magic as the bane of the working class, his friends offer to join Abigail in a Circle of Magic. She says since she is crossing the line of acceptable magic he must offer her something. She proposes marriage and the dying Jack agrees. Abigail works her magic assisted by Jack's pals and the aristocrat heals. They marry, but Jack avoids his spouse as if he is ashamed of her vocation. However he cannot totally stay away from her and soon Jack falls in love with his wife and has a new appreciation for magic. First he must convince his beloved that he is hers as he loves her; to do so he decides he must speak out publicly in support of the healing powers of magic. In her latest superb romantic fantasy, Mary Jo Putney uses the Regency era as a backdrop to anchor the magical elements so that the audience believes in healing spells and wizards. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Jack suffers the near death traumatic injury and never slows down as he becomes a true believer. Jack and Abigail are a fine couple who through love embrace magic though that is a taboo in Polite Society. Once again Ms. Putney provides a charming magical historical (see A KISS OF FATE).

Fever Dreams
Nicole Jordan
ISBN: 0345467876, $6.99

Guardian of the Sword Alex Ryder has loved Lady Eve before he received knighthood and she married Lord Seymour. He failed to act on his feelings so he lost her. When her abusive spouse died, Alex decides to court his beloved, but quickly realizes that Eve mistrusts males having had a bad experience with her late husband. Eve's sister Claire Montlow wants only happiness for her special sibling and believes Alex is the person who can provide that to her. She concocts a devious scheme in which she asks her sister to serve as a matchmaker between her and Alex. Claire assumes this will awaken Eve's heart to the love that Alex offers. As Eve rejects Alex's pleas of love, someone tries to kill her. He will risk his life to keep his beloved safe even though she rejects his song of love. The latest Guardian romance is a fun tale that series fans will enjoy. The story line is at its best when the hero is a swashbuckling hero rescuing his woman, but at times slows down with Eve's constant lament that she's not in love until she becomes a woman in peril. Regency readers will appreciate the machinations of Claire as she sees what her sister cannot accept. Overall this is a fine entertaining historical romance that adds to the legends of the Guardians of the sword (see WICKED FANTASY).

His Wicked Kiss
Gaelen Foley
ISBN: 0345480104, $6.99

In 1818 deep in the Venezuelan jungles, British native Eden Farraday lives with her scientist father, Dr. Victor Farraday. While she wants to have a season in London with "normal people" maybe even find a husband, he obsesses over elixirs ever since his wife died and says she can marry his assistant Connor O'Keefe. When Victor breaks his promise to escort Eden to England, she decides she must find her own way. Opportunity arises when Lord Jack Knight and his devilish crew sail nearby following a meeting with Bolivar's rebels in which he offers them retired British veterans to fight alongside their peasants and farmers. Eden asks Black Jack to take her to London, but he refuses. An independent, Eden sneaks onto his vessel where Jack finds his pretty feisty stowaway when it is too late to turn back. Figuring her payment would be her, he places her in his cabin, but soon the rogue and the eccentric fall in love. The keys to this superb regency romance are the relationship between the lead couple that Gaelen Foley deftly maneuvers and the need to know what turned Jack from an aristocrat to a scoundrel (with a conscience). The fast-paced story line is character driven as Jack begins to change due to his falling in love (though in fairness his "goodness" is part of him as he supports the rebel cause in South America for more than just silver). Sub-genre fans will want to read this fine tale for to not would be fool's folly.

Earl Emerson
ISBN: 0345462920, $24.95

In Seattle, thirteen black civilians and one white firefighter died in the Z Club inferno. The city is divided on how the fire department responded. While many African-Americans claim they watched the white firefighters toss water on the blaze from a safe distance while inside blacks hysterically screamed for help, whites insist the firefighters risked their lives as evidenced by one dying. African American firefighter Captain Trey Brown was burned fighting the blaze, but left town with his mother and brother to recuperate in Vegas. He comes home to a Seattle battered by rioting over an alleged lack of response by his department; feelings have been enflamed by opportunist politicians and reporters. Though he points out he has a conflict of interest having participated in the event, needing a black face, the brass assigns one of the few African-Americans in a managerial position, Trey, to investigate the response by the department. As he begins his inquiries, TV reporter Jamie Estevez continues her investigation into the response. As their paths cross an attraction grows between them, while the discoveries of what really happened on that fatal night at the Z Club is mind-bending to both of them. This strong entry starts off with an incredible opening sequences involving Trey reflecting on some of his relationship failures including family estrangement and on the fire (that comes from real events in the Bronx and Rhode Island). The story line is action-packed as Trey and Jamie rotate their respective inquiries until they merge their cases into one. Though the romantic interlude seems forced and the final twists unnecessary as the investigation into the fire and its aftermath hold the audience's attention, Earl Emerson provides a strong thriller.

Lessons in Duck Hunting
Jayne Buxton
ISBN: 0345486986, $13.95

In London thirty-seven years old divorcee Ally James raises her two children, Millie and Jack while her ex plays new female flavor of the month. To spend time with her kids, Ally gave up her long hours at Chanel to market marmalade. At the same time her best friend Mel begs her to help her with an assignment for a woman's magazine on the "Proactive Partnership Program"; her former husband David introduces his latest squeeze to the kids, a first for the philanderer. Following the Proactive Partnership Program's four P's: Product, Packaging, Place and Promotion, Alley tests her new knowledge with three "Duck Decoy" dates: a fireplace installer, an electrician and her widowed neighbor, Tom. Being a great marketer she plies her skills to her package; David and Tom quickly desire what they see, but Ally feels that supermom, work, and dating should not bury alive the real person. LESSONS IN DUCK HUNTING is a fine chick lit tale starring a likable lead protagonist who struggles with balance and harmony in her life once she adds dating to her already overfilled activity list. The dates are lighthearted fun that juxtapose against the serious theme of a woman balancing single motherhood with employment and goals (for herself that is). Jayne Buxton provides a delightful charmer because readers know in Ally in spite of the glimmering up what you read is what you get.

The Men I Didn't Marry
Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger
ISBN: 0345490703, $23.95

Their son Adam lives away from them while their daughter Emily starts at Yale so Hallie and Bill Pierpont drop her off at the New Haven school. While Hallie planned on them stopping at a romantic inn in Vermont, Bill informs her that he leaving her for Ashlee. Over two decades of marriage abruptly over, Hallie mopes until Emily yells at her to get outside and run. Hallie heeds her daughter's advice and hikes near Cold Springs Connecticut, but everything goes wrong until Dr. Tom Sheppard finds her and takes her back to her car. He apparently is a close friend to her college sweetheart Eric Richmond. Eric and Hallie see each other, but she finds herself attracted to the steadier unselfish Tom although Hallie insists at least to herself that she only wants a fling. In spite of a few days in hiding and her humiliation while with the hen crowd, Hallie seems to adapt too easily to the out of the blue dumping. Yet in spite of her rapid adjustment (most of her hibernating is off page), readers will appreciate her return to life with her perils of Pauline hike, subsequent rescuing by Tom and reconnecting with Eric. This fine contemporary that shows there is life after dumping keeps fans wondering whether Hallie will choose the steady Tom or the flamboyant Eric.

The Torch of Tangier
Aileen G. Baron
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582225, $24.95, 204 pp.

Archeologist Dr. Drury entices dissertation candidate Lily Sampson to accompany him to a Tangier excavation of a Neanderthal site in the Cave of Hercules. She has been there for over a year and has seen it turn from an International zone into an area controlled by Spain. At present she cannot work because mud flooded the caves and the Spanish Governor denies the Americans access. Dr. Drury confesses that he is OSS and had asked Lily to join his dig because she has skills that will prove useful to the Allies. Lily agrees to work for the American Legation on a top secret mission Operation Torch, the Ally landing of men to push out the Axis from North Africa. As she begins her assignment her mentor is killed and the key code box missing; Lily realizes that she must find it or Operation Torch will be compromised. This exciting historical thriller gives the reader a first hand seat to the exotic North Africana region during 1942. Readers, like the heroine, are unsure who to trust as an ally today can be tomorrow's enemy. The protagonist is a strong-willed and courageous person who does her part to support the war effort, which means in her case being in danger at all times. Think Casablanca as Aileen G. Baron makes the past come vividly alive so that the audience will believe this is the beginning of a long friendship.

Murder on the Rocks
Karen MacInerney
Midnight Ink
2143 Wooddale Dr. Woodbury, Mn. 55125-2989
ISBN: 0738709085, $12.95, 312 pp.

After coming to Cranberry Island off the Maine Coast to mend a broken heart, Natalie Barnes fell head over heals for a former sea captain's house. She sold her home in Austin Texas and had enough money for the edifice which would become the Gray Whole Inn bed and breakfast. She loves her new life; however into each Eden there is a serpent and this one is Bernard Katz. The entrepreneur plans to build a resort for the rich and famous on land adjacent to Natalie's inn. While out walking Natalie trips and falls partway down a cliff. At the bottom is the body of Bernard Katz and it is determined by the medical examiner that the business mogul was murdered. The lead detective on the case believes that Natalie is the killer especially since she knew about plans to convert her inn into a parking lot. Intending to clear her name before she ends up in jail, Natalie launches her own investigation and almost gets killed by a murderer who wants Natalie to take the fall for the killing. Readers will get a look at small town living (pop 2000) on an island that can only be reached by boat. The victim had enough enemies on the island leading to plenty of suspects with viable motives. The heroine is brave, stubborn and determined to get at the truth even if it means putting her life in danger. Readers will like Natalie as she sets out to find the killer. This is a very entertaining who-done-it.

Million Dollar Baby
Amy Patricia Meade
Midnight Ink
ISBN: 0738708607, $14.95

During the Depression British expatriate millionaire Creighton Ashcroft arrives in Ridgebury, Connecticut, which would mean very little to New Englanders except he drove to town in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a vehicle no one ever saw before. He moves into the affluent Kensington House Mansion while the town is agog over the apparent affluent outsider. That is everyone except local mystery writer Marjorie McClelland who looks down upon Creighton even as he is attracted to her. Marjorie decides Creighton can prove handy because she would like to write a story about the suicide of a previous resident, Henry Van Allen. Seeing this as an opportunity to get on her better side, Creighton agrees to assist Marjorie starting with showing her the place. However, they quickly stumble upon the partially buried corpse of the gardener. While the local police investigate that murder, Marjorie with her loyal sidekick Creighton at her side begin to look into the death of Henry, as she theorizes he was murdered. The first Marjorie McClelland mystery uses the Depression to accentuate the class distinctions between the lead amateur sleuths even while an attraction and respect grow for one another. The whodunit is cleverly crafted to amplify the battles between Creighton and Marjorie as well as to compare their investigation to that of the cops. The fascinating lead couple relationship turns MILLION DOLLAR BABY into a fun historical mystery.

The Mind Box
A.J. Diehl
Midnight Ink
ISBN: 0738708208, $15.95

Though the email from a source called "Mike's Gifts" reminded him of Poe and to a large degree his own gruesome gory movies, Oscar winning Hollywood producer Eddie Ealing thought he was safe because of the deal he negotiated. Two days later, Eddie is found dead in his mansion. Police Detective J.D. Nestor informs his partner Detective Lane Daily that this homicide is even gorier than the Tate/LaBianca case as the torture and mutilation was obviously personal. The crime scene and deceased look like part of a theatrical production. Lane is informed she is teamed up with Taryn Pierce on leading the investigation and quickly learns many people had a motive to kill the affluent filmmaker as Eddie stomped on anyone to make it including members of the victim's influential family who run a memory research business. As the detectives dig for clues in which each one adds more questions than answers, Lane begins receiving Email messages from Mike's Gifts discussing in detail her darkest secret that she thought only she knew. This is a terrific serial killer tale that hooks the audience from the first email and never slows down during a macabre fascinating cat and mouse skirmish until the final confrontation. Lane and Taryn are complex characters whose professional relationship is kindly put as rocky while the killer comes across mostly indirectly through the viewpoints of the cops or the emails as a brilliant lunatic. Fans will enjoy accompanying the sleuths as they follow up on clues in which the perpetrator seems always to be ahead of them.

Dressed to Keel
Candy Calvert
Midnight Ink
ISBN: 0738708798, $12.95, 240 pp.

Darcy Cavanaugh, an emergency room nurse, is taking a senior citizen's cruise with her friend Marie, who is getting free passage because she is working on the ship as a nurse. Darcy is rethinking her life after learning that her lover was married and a patient who didn't seem critical died alone in the hallway. She blames herself and is considering swearing off men and selling shoes made by a podiatrist. Luke Skyler, the only young man on the ship is paid to dance with the seniors. He gets Darcy's hackles up as he seems to always zero in on rich women. When a rash of robberies occur, Darcy thinks Luke has something to do with it because he was seen cozying with the victims. Both Marie and Darcy are questioned by ship security and shortly after, a steward is killed, some say he is the victim of suicide. When the thief robs a victim at gunpoint, evidence points to Marie as a suspect and she is taken off the ship for questioning. Darcy resolves to find the real thief or die trying in order to exonerate Marie. Candy Calvert has written an absolutely delightful and charming amateur sleuth who done-it that has very little gore and strong characterizations. The tale is written in the first person from Darcy's point of view so readers get to understand the spunky, lovable and independent nurse who survives murder attempts in her quest for justice. The supporting cast, made up of eccentric senior citizens, add a little levity to a serious and foreboding storyline.

The Jury Master
Robert Dugoni
ISBN: 044657869X, $24.95

How one feels about San Francisco wrongful death attorney David Sloane depends on whether he represents you or opposes you in court. He is the master of manipulation as juries always go his way though the members may hate his guts; years and fourteen major cases without a loss. Everything changes with one phone call. Presidential advisor Joe Branick calls Sloane just before he commits suicide. Not long afterward, a package from Branick arrives. Suddenly thugs seem interested in Sloane and his apartment is torn apart but nothing seems missing. Branick has sent him a file with a three decade old secret that if revealed will destroy political and business careers of the most powerful that were built on blood. It also contains information about the beleaguered lawyer's past and that of a stranger, former CIA agent Charles Jenkins. Trying to stay alive and uncover the entire truth at the same time as bulldog West Virginia police detective Tom Molia who thinks Branick is a homicide case. This is a terrific thriller that is made plausible by a wonderful cast who seem very real especially the attorney and former Fed on the run and their persistent adversaries. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Sloane wins his latest case and never slows down until the final get together in Seattle with a Bird poster and Sam the dog. Fans will appreciate Robert Dugoni's powerful novel debut and seek his nonfiction work THE CYANIDE CANARY (perhaps even more frightening because it is nonfiction in a time of lawsuit ceilings and no collections on even paltry safety violations).

Love Is In the Heir
Kathryn Caskie
ISBN: 0446616109, $6.50, 304 pp.

The accident wiped out much of the Devonsfield extended family tree. Lord Devonsfield assigned his servant Pinkerton to find the new heir. Pinkerton locates the heir, but there is a problem. There are twins with no one knowing who the older brother is; their birth was difficult, the mother died and the father grieved. The Earl decides that the first one of the twins to marry a "lady" will inherit his earldom. The intellectual twin astronomer Griffin St. Albans meets Miss Hannah Chillton over an errant hat, a falcon and a cliff. Each is attracted to the other. Not long afterward in a coaching accident, the athletic twin Garnet also meets Hannah and realizes she is the one his sibling is half in love with. Being better with women, Garnet pretends to be Griffin to help foster his brother's cause with Hannah. As identities become muddled, Hannah feels fickle as one moment she thinks she loves the shy Mr. St. Albans and the next she wonders why she cannot abide the overly confident Mr. St. Albans. Any novel that contains the Featherton sisters (see RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and A LADIES GUIDE TO A RAKE) is going to be amusing, wacky, and fun as the elderly matchmakers turn the aristocracy upside down. The current tale is zany yet built off of a real event in 1822 with a genuine astronomer Miss Caroline Herschel that adds an anchor to the comet induced story. Still this entertaining historical belongs to a way out heroine and twins who change places to further the cause of one of them with the eccentric female protagonist. Readers will risk a bad heir day waiting in line for Kathryn Caskie's fine Regency.

Until the Knight Comes
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
ISBN: 0446617296, $6.50

In 1344 Mariota Macnicol catches her lover Hugh Alesone with another woman, the alewife Elizabeth Patterson. However before she can confront him she finds him also dead. Elizabeth takes Mariota's knife from her while the woman is in shock and plunges it into Hugh's heart. She next slaps Mariota in the face making it seem like a struggle ensued. Then she climbs out the window where Hugh left an exit carved onto the walls like steps. Hugh's men catch Mariota and assume she killed their liege so they lock her away in the dungeon. Mariota's friend Nessa helps her escape. They flee to currently empty Cuidrach keep, but not long after their arrival the new Keeper of Cuidrach Kenneth Mackenzie and his men arrive. Kenneth and Mariota vowed never to marry as neither trusts the opposite sex. However, as they battle one another and even more their growing attraction to each other, the past shows up putting their relationship in jeopardy. Sue-Ellen Welfonder's latest Knight tale is a fun fourteenth century romance starring two individuals afraid of commitment falling in love. Mariota is a fascinating protagonist who was framed, but that is irrelevant as the victim's men figure case closed. Kenneth is her ideal counterpart as he has no interest in a wife yet finds he admires and desires Mariota. Though the plot device has been used before, readers will enjoy this solid historical starring two never me in love individuals falling for one another.

Queens of Woodlawn Society
Regina Hale Sutherland
ISBN: 0446616753, $5.99

Without ever knowing it, Ellie Johnson became one of the Queens of Woodlawn Society when she moved into a house on Woodlawn Ave. By moving there she automatically became a member of the bridge club along with Grace, Jane, and Linda. Each of the foursome have an arch in their home designed in the shape of a card suit with Ellie being the queen of hearts. The others take the recently divorced Ellie under their wing. Grace teaches her how to repair her garden; Linda helps her regain her place in Nashville society; and Jane assists her with a new business start-up. Ellie remains bitter over her marital break-up due to her husband playing with a Double D bimbo after twenty fives years together. She soon learns that she is considered attractive by men when her first client, a suave Frenchman pursues her and a police officer wants to date her. Her former spouse keeps calling and over time their contacts become less acrimonious. However, Ellie remains uncertain as to what she wants especially from him and whether she can forgive him. He becomes her rock when she wants to host a society event and when one of regal peers is jailed. Ellie knows she still loves the rat, but doubts she can ever trust him again. The members of the QUEENS OF WOODLAWN SOCIETY belong to the Red Hat Society, a women's group that is a combination social club and helping hand to one another. Ellie learns to accept what happened and to move on with her life applying the rules of bridge to making decisions. Readers will adore Ellie and her friends as this deep character study is an amusing poignant read.

Seduced by the Night
Robin T. Popp
ISBN: 0446616273, $6.50

Renowned for her biochemical research, Dr. Bethany Stavinoski becomes concerned with enemy agents who want to control the direction of her efforts. Rogue malevolent vampires demand Bethany work on replicating what turned them into creatures of the undead. Half vampire changeling Dirk Adams vows to keep the scientist safe as she is his only hope to regain his full humanity. Dirk and his friends battle against evil vampires who also want Bethany because they think her early out of the box work might provide them with an elixir to convert more followers. Besides the fact that she gives him faith in his future, Dirk finds she also provides him with a desire for her as a woman. As they fall in love, though she is engaged, his being a changeling makes their relationship taboo. SEDUCED BY THE NIGHT is a fast-paced vampire romantic suspense tale that grips the audience once Bethany becomes the focus of the evil vampires. Readers will appreciate the scientific theory as to why species vampire formed giving the tale a bit more of an authentic side than the usual supernatural spin. The forbidden romance adds to the fun of a delightful (can't say supernatural) tale.

Comeback Kiss
Lani Diane Rich
ISBN: 044661579X, $6.50

In Lucy's Lake, Vermont, most of the townsfolk feel former teen bad boy Dermot Finnegan is a hero who has been doing good deeds for locals from a distance. In fact, his then teenage girlfriend Tessa Scuderi has spread rumors about him being a philanthropist since he left town and her over a decade ago. Dermot actually seduced the virginity out of Tessa and then stole her 1974 Volkswagen. Tessa never expected to see her vehicle again let alone the rat who stole it, but Dermot is back. Now Tessa wants him to stay quiet about the white lies she spread about him. However, he becomes a hero for real when he rescues animals from the arsonist Pet's Sake pet shop though his brother thinks he set the blaze. As more fires break out and soon murder occurs, everyone assumes like Joe that Finn is the perpetrator; only the woman he realizes he never stopped loving believes he is a lying rat, but not the culprit. Though the audience will have a hard time with the reasoning that Tessa turned the town bad boy into a hero, readers will enjoy this solid secondhand chance at love romantic suspense. The story line is fast-paced as the townsfolk believe that Finn is the arsonist; his only ally besides the patron who sent him home is the woman he betrayed when they were teens. Unable to stay out of his mess, Tessa, who raises her sister, investigates alongside of the man she still loves, but will never give him a second chance to break her heart.

Date Me, Baby, One More Time
Stephanie Rowe
ISBN: 0446617660, $6.50

Vic, creator and owner of Vic's Pretzels, believes the curse has killed twenty-nine male relatives at the moment they turn thirty-one forty six weeks four days six hours three minutes and five seconds. No one including his mathematical brilliant twin Quincy believes him even as cousin Les becomes number thirty. Justine is the keeper of the Goblet of Eternal Youth that currently is called Mona the espresso machine. She has been in this boring role for almost two centuries with her best friend Theresa changed into a dragon. Both miss sex, but would settle for a date, but who goes out with a dragon while Justine cannot shirk her duty. Meanwhile her deceased mom visits from purgatory to warn Justine that she will face a test of her goodness. If she fails mom goes to hell as the bride of Satan. Vic realizes that the goblet and its guardian are nearby in Manhattan. He soon traces it to Justine, who he believes he must kill to lift the curse and save the lives of his brother and him. However, he finds not only is he unable to murder her, he wants to kiss her for eternity. Fans of wild humorous romantic fantasy will enjoy the madcap DATE ME, BABY, ONE MORE TIME. The story line contains two protagonists who by nature of the curse are enemies yet by nature of their respective hearts are soul mates in love. Fans will appreciate the pretzel king counting down his last week unless he beheads the guardian and the guardian knowing she must behead any threat to the Goblet. When they meet, sparks fly, but will heads follow. Their dating woes seem inane when one considers the possibilities between his twin and her friend (next time up).

Wife Living Dangerously
Sara Susannah Katz
ISBN: 0446612685, $6.99, 288 pp.

She grew up with a wild bohemian single mother and vowed to be her complete opposite. Julia Flanagan achieved her goal as she nears forty married to an adoring spouse Michael and three reasonably behaved children in the burbs. However, at the North Carolina beach house of friend Francesca Wilson, Julia during a candle of truth session realizes how boring she is when the best she offers is the UPS man looked good. Her pals Francesca and Anne Elliot tell her she needs spice of a male kind (but no husband) in her life. Ironically, Julia works at the Bentley Institute which studies sexual behavior. There she meets Professor Evan Delaney and soon, heeding the advice of her friends, she embarks on an affair. Michael, who has taken his wife for granted and in her mind seems more interested in his co-worker, becomes concerned that his beloved Julia is going to leave him. Knowing how much he loves Julia, Michael tries to win her back by courting her. Suddenly two men find her desirable, as Julia knows she must choose one. WIFE LIVING DANGEROUSLY is an entertaining contemporary tale starring three nice people. Julia seeks pizzazz once she realizes that she has allowed her mother's lifestyle to rule how she lives (classic reaction formation); Michael is a wonderful protagonist who has failed to balance work with family relationships especially towards his wife; Evan is a nice person falling in love with a married woman. Though cheating is at the heart of the triangle, fans who enjoy following a mature fortyish woman seeking her inner soul will want to read Sara Susannah Katz's fine tale.

Black Out
Annie Solomon
ISBN: 0446616311, $6.50

Washington, D.C. bookstore owner Margo Scott cannot remember anything from the last month as if she was in a coma. Already befuddled and frightened, adding to her trepidations over her amnesia, the police arrive and question what she knows about Frank Temple, the deputy director of the Terrorism Control Force and where was she when he was murdered. Margo swears she never met Frank though the police show evidence to the contrary to her. Trying to piece back what occurred in her life over the past thirty or so days, Margo becomes even more terrified when she finds nothing to prove she existed before her recent awakening. She has no pictures of loved ones and no seeming contacts of friends or relatives. Worse what she finds out about herself has nothing to do with being an independent bookstore owner and all to do with skills the average person does not possess. Her only hope is a Fed tailing her that she confronts though she has no idea how she obtained the skill to realize that Jack Wise was following her. Though Jack suspects Margo of lying about her memory loss, they unite to discover why what she learned of her past does not gel with her memories prior to the last month, what happened during the memory lapse and did she kill Temple. Margo is terrific as she begins to uncover the truth about herself and assumes she probably killed Temple though she cannot fathom why. Her efforts to learn who she is grips the audience as each step closer to the truth proves more dangerous than the previous encounters. Though the romantic relationship with Jack seems unnecessary filler as Margo's plight and her escapades make for a delightful action-packed one sitting thriller.

Lyn Cote
ISBN: 0446694363, $10.99

Leigh is a strong individual so her daughter Carly Sinclair feels overwhelmed and subdued by her intimidating but loving mom. By high school, Carly feels like a failure as she always tries to please her demanding mother, but believes she has never succeeded as she fears failure not for her sake but for her mom's. Leigh wants Carly to attend college, but though timorous, Carly finds backbone as she tells her mom no. Instead she enlists with the army over the objections of Leigh. Military demands prove difficult but Carly faces her fears and meets the requirements. She and her unit mobilize and deploy to Kuwait as part of Desert Shield where she is wounded. Sent home to convalesce the women of Ivy Manor provide their youngest with the healing power of love. The latest Women of Ivy Manor (see CHLOE, BETTE, and LEIGH) is a fine family drama starring the fourth generation who needs to "escape" from her relatives especially her overbearing mom. The deep look at this reticent young woman seeking her wings to fly from the coop is well written with the wonderful backdrop of Desert Shield, the first war with Hussein. Though the ending feels contrived, fans of the miniseries will enjoy the coming of age of CARLY.

Stupid and Contagious
Caprice Crane
5 Spot (Warner)
ISBN: 0446695726, $12.95

In New York twenty-six-year-old Heaven Albright has failed as a public relations executive; she is currently a waitress who hates her job. Twenty-nine-year-old Brady Gilbert has failed as an independent music producer; he currently is out on the street since his girlfriend tossed him out of their apartment. Brady moves next door to Heaven, who does not believe in privacy. She opens his mail and enters his apartment without knocking or waiting for an invite. Still Brady though he wants to kick himself finds her fascinating. When she loses her waitressing job, Heaven demands Brady take her on his business trip to the West Coast. Unable to say no he agrees. He stops in Los Angeles planning to sign a talented high-school rock band; his rival Heaven's ex. From there they go to Seattle to sell Brady's concept of Cinnamilk to Starbucks, but end up arrested during a Kurt Cobain homage gala. This basic romance is hipped up by the attitudes of Heaven and Brady. She seems like an MTV Holly Golightly while he is a dreamer sort of like the professor of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang meets the video age. Their antics are inane, but so much fun as they spin a fine contemporary romance that will amuse readers with its modernization of the classic gender battle turning to love.

Alien Infection
Darrell Bain
Twilight Times
ISBN: 1933353724, $16.95

At Lamont Memorial in Lufkin, Texas the night shift ER Doc asks Lab Technician Michael Brandon to draw blood for tests from a patient seemingly dead. As he fills three tubes up, the barely alive patient knocks the syringe into Michael's wrist though neither of the medical attendees notice because they are distracted by the movement. Not much later, as Michael tests two of the tubes of blood and refrigerates the third, two suits with guns arrive taking the two tubes, but quickly leave as the comatose patient has some how escaped. Michael goes home, but becomes very ill. A few days later he recovers only to learn that anyone involved with that patient is being eliminated in what has been made to look like accidents as the ER Doc and nurse died while allegedly running away together. Realizing the Feds will come for him and how diabolical these suits are, Michael heads to Dallas where he meets Mona to get his ID changed. He cuts himself shaving, but panics when she touches his bleeding nick with a finger she had accidentally stuck with a pin. She becomes infected. As they flee together, each notices they seem younger and healthier while the Feds hunt them now in Arkansas. This medical thriller grips the audience from the moment that Michael is jabbed by the syringe and never slows down as he and Mona struggle with learning the truth and surviving the ordeal of the Feds wanting them dead in what appears to be a clean-up cover-up operation. Michael and Mona are interesting protagonists, but what hooks readers is the need to know even with the obvious title what infects the heroes and why the Feds want to eradicate the evidence. ALIEN INFECTION is a fine science fiction suspense thriller that the X-Files crowd will enjoy.

Digging to America
Anne Tyler
ISBN: 0307263940, $24.95

On August 15, 1997 at the Baltimore airport, two couples each wait for the arrival of their newly adopted Korean infants. Bitsy and Brad Dickinson-Donaldson are openly ecstatic over their tiny Jin-Ho while a more subdued but just as elated Sami and Ziba Yazdan are exhilarated over their Sookie, who they rename Susan. In the waiting room, Bitsy and Brad host a baby shower gala with their family horde while the Yazdans only have his Iranian mother Maryam with them. Still this euphoric connection leads to a strong friendship between Bitsy and Brad Donaldson with. The extroverted Bitsy establishes an annual gala to celebrate Arrival Day. She and Ziba become especially close, but she fails in her efforts to reach out to Maryam, who detests the ugly Americans though she has been here for decades arriving as a teenage bride immigrant, whose son was born here and husband died here. She still feels like an outsider in the United States, but unwelcome in Iran. That suddenly changes when Bitsy's widower father Dave makes clear his intentions towards her that panic and exhilarate Maryam. DIGGING TO AMERICA is a great character study that digs deep into the adopting parents yet they, Dave and their respective children are secondary protagonists to the tale's prime player, Maryam. Readers will appreciate the support cast that includes the brashness of Bitsy; the tenderness of Brad towards his two women; the friendliness of Dave somewhat tamped by his grief for his wife and his need for Maryam; Sami's aloofness toward Iran and America that frustrates his mom; Ziba's exuberance towards the American dream for her baby. However, Maryam remains the focus as no one before Dave has gotten inside her perimeter, but he wonders if she will let him remain there. Anne Tyler provides a powerful contemporary tale that looks deep into the Americanization of Maryam that is worth reading.

The Abortionist's Daughter
Elisabeth Hyde
ISBN: 0307263665, $23.95

Because she is a director of a Colorado abortion clinic, Dr. Diana Duprey knows many people want her dead. Still when someone succeeds in killing her in the exercise pool of her home, her spouse District Attorney Frank Thompson and their nineteen years old daughter Megan are stunned. The detective in charge of the investigation Huck Berlin knows this is a difficult case because of the enormous abortion enemy list and a witness claiming Diana had nasty arguments with her husband and her daughter just before she died. Since the coroner has a conflict of interest, another medical examiner does the autopsy though he holds a grudge against Frank. As Huck struggles with the case and his attraction to a prime suspect Megan, who seems to beg him to take her, he seems no closer to a resolution. The whodunit and why take a back seat to the deep look into the impact of performing abortions by a caring medical practitioner and her family. Diana though seen mostly in flashbacks is a fascinating individual who believes she is doing the morally right thing. Her spouse thinks more about how her work impacts his political ambitions. Their daughter Megan is the most complex character of all as she is confused over her mother's idealism that seem contradictory as it also means killing a potential life. Diana's clients also are delved into with their conflicting internal disputes. Much more rounded than simple sound bites by pro life and pro women's rights, Elisabeth Hyde provides a strong character study that opens the abortion debate in an intelligent manner.

Peter Carey
ISBN: 0307263711, $24.00

Talented Australian painter Butcher Boone is known for his work as much as for his hedonistic overindulgences especially alcohol and fighting. Unable to put up with his destructive behavior, his wife divorced him and left him broke, homeless, and without visiting rights to see their son. The darling of Sydney high society Butcher has been relegated to work as a caretaker at the New South Wales estate of a major collector of his paintings and raising his damaged sibling Hugh since their parents died. During a particularly stormy night, classy Marlene Leibovitz arrives at Butcher's abode totally lost. She informs him that she is the daughter in law to Jacques Leibovitz, a twentieth-century master. Unable to toss her out in the torrential storm, Butcher and Hugh soon become part of an international grand art crime scheme involving forgeries and murder because the Australian artist can not resist the sexual siren of the woman who came soaked to his door. THEFT is a fantastic character driven suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment Marlene arrives at the New South Wales house as she is obviously high society Sydney not backwater isolation. Unable to resist the lure of this femme fatale, Butcher begins a further spiral downward. Mindful of the 1930s McMurray-Streisand films like Double Indemnity, fans will appreciate this "love story" masterpiece.

Good Omens
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 0060853964, $29.95

In 1655 the witch Agnes Nutter proclaimed Armageddon will occur on what is next Saturday. Now everyone in the know knows that Nutter though deceased for over three centuries was a very accurate forecaster, just ask the villagers she burned who reside in Hell. The omens to the final countdown are everywhere. The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are on the road; Atlantis rises, frogs die; rage is the norm as fights break out between loved ones. The armies of God and those of the Antichrist prepare for the final war between Heaven and hell, battlefield earth. However, Aziraphale the angel and Crowley the demon like their present lifestyles, amiable with each other rather than their distant employers who neither has seen in eons, and would prefer delaying the Rapture for eternity. To halt Armageddon, Crowley and Aziraphale team up knowing that only one thing can do so, murder the Antichrist. However, first they need to find him as he has been placed in the wrong household, but neither know who his parents are or for that matter who he is. There hope to locate the kid resides in Agnes Nutter, an allegedly dead witch. This is a reprint of an amusing wild satire that the religiously intolerant will claim the two authors and those like this reviewer who enjoyed the tale will be left behind. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed while skewing organized religion with its good vs. evil rigid doctrine leading to war against infidels in the name of God on earth. GOOD OMENS is a great satirical thriller that makes a delightful mockery of those who "evilly" use religion as a shield to foster hate and murder in the name of God for one does not need 666 to commit atrocities on earth.

Marked Man
William Lashner
ISBN: 0060721553, $24.95

In Philadelphia defense attorney Victor Carl wakes up to a four poster hangover caused by imbibing too much alcohol the night before. Not only does he remember little of most of the evening, Victor is stunned to find a tattoo of a heart on his chest with the name of someone called Chantal Adair inside it. He thinks never again as he has no idea who is Chantal or when did he get the tattoo. As he remains bewildered and befuddled, he finds connections between the mysterious Chantal Adair, a client with a Rembrandt and an elderly woman asking Carl's father for a favor. Victor works his case diligently as long as it does not interfere with his search for what happened on the lost evening, more info on Chantal, and especially not interfering with his girl watching skills. However as haunting that night is with his total lack of recall, the evening will soon come back in full force to haunt him. This interesting character driven thriller stars a somewhat hedonistic man who knows he went on too much of a bender, but as he tries to learn what happened that led to the tattoo, he finds himself instead in an even more complex fiasco. Readers will appreciate this cleverly designed tale because of Victor as he goes from severe hangover to bewildered soul to shocked jock to finally in trouble just because he wants to connect the dots. No one who reads this fine novel will ever overindulge as William Lashner provides a strong suspense story.

Don't I Know You?
Karen Shepard
ISBN: 0060782374, $23.95

In 1976 twelve years old Steven Engels comes home to his family's Upper West Side apartment only to discover the corpse of his single mother Gina who is stabbed to death. Stunned not just by his mom's violent death, but finding her silently laying there, none of his family members or even his mom's boyfriend Phil know what to do with the grieving preadolescent. One year later, the case remains unsolved with Phil still considered a person of interest. Meanwhile a stranger visits schoolteacher Lily Chin to warn her about her fiance Nickolai Belov. The woman claims to have been Nickolai's former lover and provides Lily the whereabouts of Gina's journal hidden by Nickolai. Over a decade later, the Engels homicide remains unsolved and considered by NYPD as a cold case. Meanwhile seventy-three years old Louise Carpanetti knows she is dying, but the cancer is not what worries her. Instead she fears what will become of her childlike fiftyish son Michael when she learns from the news that a break in the Engles murder has occurred. Now she ponders how Michael was involved and what should she tell the police, if anything. This fascinating whodunit is told in three parts over a dozen or so years apart. What is interesting is how far reaching the Engels' homicide is as many individuals besides Steven are affected even indirectly. Readers will be hooked by the ensemble cast who have been impacted though only the son and the two women (think of five degrees of separation) provide insight. This is a stunning, insightful mystery.

Anybody Out There?
Marian Keyes
ISBN: 0060898291, $24.95

In Manhattan public relations specialist for punk cosmetics brand Candy Grrrl, Anna Walsh suffers sever injuries in a taxi accident that include a horrifying disfigurement across her pretty visage. Physically healing though suffering from multiple fractures, Anna mentally struggles especially with the facial scar so she returns home to her loving family in the Dublin area for nurturing. Dublin is no picnic as she finds herself embroiled in family affairs that the ocean kept her out of. Private eye sister Helen works with mobsters; Rachel is acting crazy with her marriage coming soon; and her mom is feuding with a dog pooping at the mailbox. With her husband Aidan not responding to email and seemingly vanished, a despondent Anna wonders if you can really go home that is if you can figure out where home is. Highly regarded Marian Keyes (see ANGELS, WATERMELON and RACHEL'S HOLIDAY) returns with her latest and best Walsh tale, which is saying a lot as this is a top rate series. Anna is terrific as the center of the family dynamics this time around. As she becomes involved with the escapades of her sisters and mom, her spouse back in Manhattan becomes a MIA. Bittersweet, amusing and powerfully acute, this is a great literary character study.

Night Calls
Holly Jacobs
Avalon Books
ISBN: 0803497644, $21.95

In Erie, Pennsylvania Cassiopeia Grant hosts NIGHT CALLS on WLVH. Cass discusses good and bad relationships with her night time audience. Her philosophy is that love is a heart beat away for those who go after it, which she has with her beloved Gene Gifford. However, her next door neighbor attorney Jonathan Cooper, an anti-marriage soul, is shocked when Cass is home from her honeymoon so quickly. Cass explains she decided not to wed pernicious dependable Gene who booked her flight to New York via Pittsburgh and Chicago with a side stop in Orlando of six hours to save a paltry sum. While waiting in airports, Cass concluded Gene was not the one and that she, being an old fashion romantic, will wed only the One. When Jonathan realizes Cass is no longer engaged he fears to remain friends as he has commitment phobia and already is attracted to her and adheres to the basic law of the universe that cross gender friendships between singles cannot remain in that steady state. Cass buys a spinster dog named Dudley who Jonathan insists is a beast to keep men away even as their attraction to one another blossoms into love. In many ways NIGHT CALLS is a fun old-fashioned contemporary romance that grips the audience from the moment that a somewhat despondent Cass comes home from her honeymoon-not and never slows down until the second annual Splash Bash contest is over. Cass and Jonathan are likable characters who argue over love and marriage as she is a romantic and he is a divorce lawyer. Holly Jacobs provides a fun winner that will send her audience seeking other Erie WLVH tales (see LOVEHANDLES and PICKUP LINES).

Love, Life and Linguini
Melissa Jacobs
ISBN: 0060744057, $12.95

Philadelphia based internationally renowned consultant Mimi Louis has become a hot ticket for anyone who wants to make it in the restaurant business. Her efforts have launched several of the elite in places to eat. She has even turned her boyfriend Nick into a highly wanted chef even as she thinks of retiring to marry and have babies with him. However, her romantic side dies when she comes home to find a waitress heating up her leftover Nick. To heal and forget, Mimi goes home to New Jersey where she knows her family woes should somewhat occupy her mind. She is taken aback when her widow mom blithely informs her she is thinking of dating and her brother is considering selling the failing family restaurant. Mimi may not have any influence on mom, but decides to give it a try to save the restaurant and perhaps herself with two patrons Joe and Aaron wanting to cook gourmet meals with her. Mimi keeps the contemporary tale focused as she readjusts to life with her family. Their woes she has somewhat avoided due to the advantages of geography enabling her to stay out of everything except the occasional most momentous event. Her vacillations involving the two hunks in her life, her family, and the restaurant makes her seem genuine as she has not had to deal with these types of choices in years. Though that can also be frustrating to the reader demanding she make up her mind though not often easy pick one and leave the other behind (fractured Lovin Spoonful). Overall this is a fine tale that proves you can go home but nothing is quite what you remember it was.

Deadly Housewives
Edited by Christine Matthews
ISBN: 0060853271, $13.95

The Introduction sets the tone for this strong anthology. DEADLY HOUSEWIVES opens with letters asking for sage advice on spousal removal including a request from a woman who apparently killed her husband with his bowling trophy, but nonchalantly wants to know how to remove the bloodstains. Fourteen tales later complete what is one of the better compilations in several years. The authors are a female who's who going deep into what makes motivates the gentler sex to turn criminal and is some cases lethal. Each tale is well written as some of the best women mystery-suspense authors on the market provide their insight filled with twists. After reading this superb often amusing short story collection, the secret is out as to who dominates relationships especially family for estrogen rules.

Duke of Scandal
Adele Ashworth
ISBN: 0060528419, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1860 Lady Olivia Shea and her new spouse Lord Edmund Carlisle are on their honeymoon in Paris when he goes out but never returns allegedly on business leaving her a virgin. When she realizes that he wasted her money leaving her broke and her family firm the House of Niven perfumes in jeopardy she vows to find and expose the cad unless he returns her fortune. At a London gala, Olivia confronts her husband threatening to expose his actions. She gives him one week and their kiss affects both of them. A few days later Edmund visits Olivia who realizes he is not her spouse. He admits that he is Edmund's twin brother Samson, the title holding duke by three minutes, which his brother has always resented. They have not seen one another in years. As Olivia and Samson fall in love, Edmund remains a shadow between them. DUKE OF SCANDAL stars two protagonists in love, but a ghost remains between them making a relationship seem scandalous to high society. The fine Victorian romance focuses on the war between Olivia and Samson with the missing sibling ironically serving as the matchmaker. Though Edmund seems to have no redeeming qualities as an amoral scoundrel (perhaps his girlfriend Brigitte can find some), fans will enjoy this entertaining historical tale.

Love in the Time of Taffeta
Eugenie Olson
ISBN: 0060815442, $12.95

Photographer Iley Gilbert feels depressed as recent decisions she made turned out bad for her career. Needing to make some money, she accepts a job as a prom assistant during the prom season. Her married boss William is a hunk and though she knows better she cannot resist the handsome William and soon they have an affair. Iley knows the tryst with William is a nowhere street and needs to end it, but she cannot bring herself to do so. As the prom season continues Iley finds herself drawn to a bad girl waif who appears at each prom they shoot. She decides to help the teen, but in doing so Iley begins to help herself starting with ending her affair and finding her lost photographic muse. She even has hopes to find a true love, single that is, as the spiraling downward cycle seems ended. As Iley makes one dumb decision after another, fans after awhile will hiss her as no one should be that hedonistically pathetic. Still in spite of readers unable to empathize with her needs, she is a fascinating character who, the out of character ending aside, seems unable to stop herself as she dives head first into one mistake after another. Eugenie Olson paints a picture of a woman who is her own worst enemy.

What to Wear to a Seduction
Sari Robbins
ISBN: 0060782471, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1811 London, Prescott Devane has vowed to never be an escort again after overhearing the Ton talk about him with disdain. As he recovers from injuring his hands rescuing a little girl who was on fire at the orphanage where he was raised, he is also mentally shook up because of the murder of his mentor Headmaster Dunn and his best friend at the orphanage who married someone else and kept it a secret from him that she was an aristocrat in hiding. Widow Lady Edwina Ross tries to hire Prescott as a fiance to help her catch an aristocratic blackmailer. He says no until she mentions she has business ties at the docks that could help his ventures so he agrees. Then he kisses her; both are shook by the reaction. At the same time Spymaster Tristan Wheaton asks his retired mentor Sir Lee to unmask Alexander Quince who is blackmailing the Ton apparently using information gathered from espionage circles. As the two cases converge, Prescott and Edwinna fall in love, but he knows she is too good for him. The fine lead couple whose diverse background serves as a key ingredient in the plot makes this an excellent Regency romance as their relationship slowly grows once respect occurs. The solid support cast especially her peers at the Society for Enrichment & Learning for Females and those at the orphanage add depth to understanding Prescott and Edwinna respectively. Though the climax seems too easy, fans will enjoy Sari Robin's latest "Anderson Hall" tale (see ONE WICKED NIGHT and MORE THAN A SCANDAL).

The Caine Mutiny
Tamar Myers
ISBN: 0060535199, $6.99, 384 pp.

Abby Timberlake, owner of the antique store the Den of Antiquity, is the high bidder at a locked trunk sale in a storage center. Inside were a bunch of canes that Abby put out in a display in the hopes of attracting buyers. Two mornings in a row she comes to open the store to see the canes scattered all over the place and assumes her assistant and soon to be sister in law CJ failed to clean up before closing. CJ. says that when she left the canes were in the display. Also in the locked trunk is a bag with a skull in it. Abby thinks it is a human skull and after being arrested for "unauthorized" possession of human remains by two ignorant policemen she is out on bail. She goes to the bidders who bought a cane from their store. She asks each person why he bid on the item and when she gets her answers she leaves but his housekeeper/lover runs after her telling her she has important information. Before she can tell her what it is they are interrupted and a few days later the housekeeper is murdered. Feeling that all the unusual and tragic things that have been happening are linked to her winning the bid, Abby starts snooping around for answers and almost gets herself killed. This is the thirteenth Den of Antiquity mystery and it is as fresh and charming as the first book in this delightful cozy series. The cast of characters, including the heroine, are a bunch eccentrics; their antics make the audience chuckle out loud. The who-done-it is cleverly thought out, complex and totally impossible to figure out. Tamar Myers scores another winner with THE CAINE MUTINY.

Night Bus
Giampiero Rigosi
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738117, $14.95

In 1993 Bologna hustler Leila makes her living by picking up pathetic males in bars. Her modus operendi is to take these Romeos to their apartment, have sex to "soften" them, then drugging them, and rob them. Her latest hapless mark is Andrea Fabbri, who thinks he picks up Leila; after "softening" him, Leila drugs him before stealing his wallet. However, Andrea's wallet contains an interesting document that is the key to political blackmail. Now it seems as if everyone in Bologna is after her from the secret service thugs to Bear the debt collector and the police. Leila finds an ally in bus driver Francesco, as he too is on the lam from the Bear. Together they must dodge the spooks, the cops, but mostly the Bear. The key to this delightful translation of a fine Italian thriller is that the cast seems real and likable even the enforcer Bear. The story line is action packed as the hustler and her gambling addicted partner struggle to survive and find a way to outfox their various adversaries; of course Leila would also like to make several euros out of what she holds. Giampiero Rigosi provides a fun tale that in some ways will remind the audience of the zaniness of Get Shorty.

Snakeskin Shamisen
Naomi Hirahara
ISBN: 0385339615, $12.00

Hiroshima survivor gardener Mas Arai attends a gala honoring his friend attorney George "G.I." Hasuike at Mahalo Hawaiian restaurant in Torrance, California. Meanwhile the party's host Randy Yamashiro informs G.I. that he won $500K on a Spam slot machine during their recent trip to Vegas. Mas meets the fiancee of G.I. Juanita Gushiken and finds her charming; on the other hand he immediate dislikes Randy. When Randy and G.I. almost come to blows, Mas decides to leave. Not long afterward Juanita asks Mas for help as someone stabbed Randy to death; the prime suspect is G.I. who had plenty of motives, 500,000 of them. Mas hesitantly agrees to investigate, but though he says no to her, Juanita insists on joining him every step of the way. The only clue so far is a five-decade old battered SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN Okinawa musical instrument left near the corpse. Mas' third wonderful appearance (see SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI and GASA-GASA GIRL) is a delightful look at a subculture today vs. the 1950s inside of a fine murder mystery with ties back to the happy days of the Eisenhower era. The reluctant hero is at his best as he makes inquiries and reflects back to just after WWII, but is also enhanced, often with humor, by the energetic female fireball Juanita. The whodunit is cleverly devised so that readers will enjoy a strong investigative tale while also obtaining appreciative insight into a subculture.

Play to the End
Robert Goddard
ISBN: 0385339186, $12.00

While taking the monotonous train to Brighton, actor Toby Flood muses about his career in which the highlight was years ago when he was a strong candidate to replace Roger Moore as James Bond. Not long after failing to be selected as 007, Toby's career stopped ascending and began the dive that continues today. He knows that though he has top billing in a Joe Orton play, deputy stage manager Mandy Pringle sees support actor Martin Donahue as the near term future. Perhaps adding to his melancholy mood of failure, Toby regrets that his wife Jenny, whom he still loves, has field for divorce. Brighton hat shop owner Jenny calls Toby to demand he stop the stalker. Hex explains he has not hired any stalker, but will look into it especially when she claims he has a video of one of Toby's films. Toby confronts Derek Oswin, who promises to stop staring at Jenny stating he only used her as a means to meet his hero, Mr. Flood. However, when Derek fails to live up to his agreement, Toby follows up, even missing a performance, However, he will soon miss a lot more as Toby, in his quest to recapture Jenny's love, has become entangled in a domestic dispute involving the affluent Colburn family. Robert Goddard is one of the best suspense writers on the market today (see BORROWED TIME). As always his tales star a seemingly average individual (this time a B actor who missed his fifteen minutes) placed in lethal situations in which the outcome remains up in the air until the final climax. PLAY TO THE END does that and more as Toby's desperation ploy to regain his beloved turns into a nightmare.

Hand in Glove
Robert Goddard
ISBN: 0385339216, $12.00

In England elderly wealthy Beatrix Abberly greets the intruder into her home as Mr. Spicer whom she says to him that she was expecting him. She recognizes the candlestick holder he carries and uses to kill her. Her niece Charlotte grieves her loss in what seems like a robbery gone bad. The police arrest antique dealer Colin Fairfax whose motive was to steal Beatrix' priceless artifacts to sell. Colin's brother Derek firmly believes he is innocent and plans to prove that though it means finding courage he does not possess. At the same time, Charlie also believes that the motive was not robbery; she assumes the few items purloined were to cover a more sinister crime especially after she finds letters between Beatrix and her brother, highly regarded poet Tristram who died fighting on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War five decades ago. Charlie and Derek team up as both believe the homicide ties back to the war on the Peninsular in the late 1930s, but neither expected that they could be next. This terrific international amateur sleuth tale grips the audience from the moment the calm Beatrix says hello to Mr. Spice and never slows down until the final believable twist. The action-packed story line works because of the lead pairing; Derek is shy and struggles to be a hero while Charlie grieves and is a bit overweight while also strains to accomplish something way out of character for her. Part of Robert Goddard's genius is to take everyday people placed in arenas outside their norm performing extraordinary but plausible deeds. HAND IN GLOVE is a superb thriller by an English grandmaster.

Dark Demon
Christine Feehan
ISBN: 0515140880, $9.99

After the death of her brother by, she believes Carpathians, Natalya Shonski continues her quest of fighting vampires. At the same time the solitary female warrior continues her vigil, Carpathian Vikirnof Von Shrieder fears he on the verge of becoming a vampire as he failed to find his soulmate who would anchor him. Vikirnof thinks that Natalya is his woman and begins his search for her. He finds her as she duels two vampires; he helps her. Natalya rejects Vikirnof as she distrusts Carpathians. However, in spite of her rage, she knows she cannot allow Vikirnof to die from wounds he received while fighting at her side. As she comes to know him better while he heals, she realizes he is her soulmate. They learn that a devious powerful mage plots to destroy all the Carpathians unless they can stop him, but neither knows who he is though Natalya assumes her evil grandfather is the culprit. DARK DEMON is must reading for long time fans of the Carpathian novels, not just because it is a terrific action-packed romantic thriller, but also because many subplots dangling from previous books tie together. The lead duet are fantastic star-crossed soulmates, but they have so much trouble ahead that it makes their path to eternal happiness look bleak. Natalya and Vikirnof make this a superb entry that can stand alone as a fabulous paranormal romantic suspense, but to savor the full taste newcomers would be better suited finding much of the backlist.

Circle of Quilters
Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743260201, $23.00

Summer and Judy, two members of the Elm Creek Quilt Camp in rural Waterford, Pennsylvania, decide to move on. To fill the void, the other members advertise for teachers with a sense of humor and obvious quilting experience in various techniques. Several applicants respond. Maggie discovered the joy of quilting while working at the Ocean View Hills Retirement Community and Convalescent Center under the tutelage of septuagenarian resident Helen. Karen, mother to young Lucas and Ethan, sees being a quilting instructor as an opportunity to return to the workforce. Anna is a college chef who loves culinary delights as much as quilting. Russell turned to quilting as a means of solace following the death of his spouse. Finally Gretchen feels like a servant to her friend and boss Heidi at Quilts 'n Things. Two of these five qualified candidates will be selected leaving three heartbroken that they were not chosen. Though more a short story collection tied to the theme of hiring a quilter, fans of the series will immensely enjoy the eighth tale due to a fascinating discerning look at the five candidates (each has their own chapter). The insight into quilting as always is a bonus, but CIRCLE OF QUILTERS is a fine character study that focuses on how much quilting means to the characters' well-being.

Riding With John Wayne
Aaron Latham
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743269799, $26.00, 373 pp.

Although Hollywood rarely makes cowboy movies anymore, they make an exception when they read Chick Goodnight's screenplay about his ancestor who was a Texas cowboy in the 1870's. Chick moves to Hollywood to work on the script with the beautiful director Jamie Stone. He lives with his cousin Sharon who asks him to hire her boyfriend, stunt director, Chris Crosby. It is only after he is hired that Chick learns Chris beats up Sharon. Sharon, an aspiring actress, arranges an audition with the producer Buddy Dole, known to have sex with wannabe starlets in exchange for small parts in his films. She never comes home from her "interview"; later that night the police inform Chick that Sharon is the victim of a hit of run. Her parents and Chick don't believe it was an accident and his aunt and uncle ask him to investigate. He learns she had a later appointment with buddy but he can't rule Chris out because he was insanely jealous. On the set, somebody gives him a terrible beating to stop him from asking questions but that only make Chick more determined to find out whom, if anyone, killed the cousin he adored. The movie is filmed near Chick's hometown of Spur, Texas so readers have insight into the forces that molded him into the man he is today. His innocence and caring heart endears him to the audience as they watch the collision between Hollywood and a small town. There is a lot of humor and dry wit infused into the dialog of the various characters which helps diffuse the tension when it reaches a boiling point. Aaron Latham has written a cleverly constructed who-done-it that has readers wondering if there was a killer and if so who was it.

The Surrogate
Judith Henry Wall
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743258517, $13.00

Twenty-one years old Jamie Long is deep in debt having spent a fortune caring for her late grandmother and has no one to turn to for help as she is estranged from her only living relative, her older avaricious half-sister Ginger. However, she thinks she has the answer to her financial woes if she can get the assignment. Nearing fifty televangelist Amanda Hartmann offers $100,000 down and income for life to bear her child in secrecy. The sperm donor is Amanda's current husband and personal trainer Toby. Jamie applies and is considered acceptable for the artificial insemination though this requires her to remain hidden at the Hartmann ranch in the isolated Texas Panhandle. Amanda's brother Gus, head of their empire oil-evangelical empire accepts the ruse to fool their devotees with a miracle child though the sperm comes from Amanda's allegedly dead but actually comatose son. Amanda's preaching predecessor Mary Millicent allegedly bed-ridden warns the newcomer to beware of the evil Hartmanns as once she delivers the infant she becomes expendable as Gus leaves no evidence alive. Jamie believes Mary; pregnant she flees and has her baby by herself until she reunites with her teenage unrequited crush Joe Brammer who joins her and baby Lynette on the lam. THE SURROGATE starts off with a terrific premise that is cleverly executed in the first part of the novel, but turns into a Keystone Cops thriller as Joe and Jamie elude Gus' minion relatively easily with a baby at their side while also finding time to make love on the beach. The story line is over-filled with suspense that grips fans of Judith Henry Wall, but loses all plausibility. Exciting, but improbable especially the second half, THE SURROGATE is for Ms. Wall's audience.

Dead Watch
John Sandford
ISBN: 0399153543, $26.95, 384 pp.

When last seen several days ago former senator from Virginia Lincoln Bowe was getting into a car smiling, but has been missing ever since. His wife Madison thinks foul play is involved. She believes the Watchmen, a group of veterans that Governor Goodman organized to keep watch over the streets, abducted Lincoln. She knows that her spouse lost his Senate seat due to the manipulations of the president and the governor. As days pass, the Secretary of State asks independent contractor Jake Winter to find the former senator. Jake has the uncanny ability to cut through the miasma of bull that permeates the political bureaucracy to fill his client's requirements. He accomplices the mission but Bowe is dead and a package of information he had that could bring down the administration is missing. Now the job is to find the package before the president's enemies obtain it. Two groups compete with Jake for possession, but which one would kill to gain the information does not matter to the sleuth as he treats everyone client as an adversary. Readers of the Prey novels will agree that John Sandford displays his depth of talent as he effortlessly switches from police procedural to a political thriller that is definitely heading to the bestseller lists. The protagonist is a unique character who has a talent that enables him to achieve his goal when it seems impossible to do so. Fast-paced action, a little romance and a great support cast turn DEAD WATCH into a spectacular reading experience.

Blue Screen
Robert B. Parker
ISBN: 0399153519, $24.95

Buddy Bollen has made a fortune producing movies that are notoriously known for their tastelessness; his work lands on the list of all time worst movies. However, his flicks also sell as exploitation means ticket sales, which in turn means money. To keep his latest investment safe for movie stardom and his bed, Buddy hires private investigator Sunny Randall to protect his girlfriend Erin Flint. Sunny learns early on that the nasty rising star will make her work difficult if not impossible. When Erin's sister Misty is found murdered in Bollen's extravagant home in Paradise, Massachusetts, Police Chief Jesse Stone searches the crime scene, but finds no clues. Immediately feeling an affinity through their work and a sexual attraction Jesse and Sunny team up in more ways than one but especially in search of a killer. In her fifth appearance Sunny is at her best working for a sleazy client who hires her to protect a sleaze. The story line is character driven though it has the Robert B. Parker trademark of action and more action. It is the support cast that drives Sunny nuts as her ward makes it almost impossible to keep safe. The twist into a whodunit with Jesse, a terrific protagonist who brings out both the woman and the sleuth in Sunny, add to a fine tale as the two heroes investigate Bollen's sleazy film empire filled with enemies willing to kill again.

Just One More Question: Answers and Insights from a Psychic Medium
Yolana with Mark Bego
ISBN: 0399153098, $23.95

This superior biography will hook the reader from the start as internationally renowned psychic Yolana provides much about her past and never slows down until her final predictions on icebergs adrift and other forecasting of events. Interestingly Yolana believes that everyone has the ability to foresee the future, but most people ignore their intuition and gut instinct. The insight into her assistance on criminal investigations like the 1984 Plastic Bags homicides is fascinating; while Yolana's advice on dealing with personal issues seems on the mark and something one would find in a self-help book. Before anyone asks JUST ONE MORE QUESTION, Yolana discusses lotteries, spirit guides and information from beyond. Well written, inspiring and entertaining, Yolana's sage advice to everyone, whether one is a skeptic, a non believer or a follower, is trust yourself to do what is best for you and others.

White Shadow
Ace Atkins
ISBN: 0399153551, $24.95

For years Charlie "White Shadow" Wall ran the Tampa, Florida mob. Now Charlie retired as he knows that being the kingpin is a young man's game with him finding it increasingly difficult to stay alive from the assorted rivals and employees who want to dethrone him. However, in April of that year, someone stabbed elderly Charlie killing him. Detective Ed Dodge and Tampa Tribune reporter Leland Hawes investigate the homicide that each assumes ties back to the White Shadow's mob days; could someone have feared that Charlie knew too much and with Kefauver making noise in DC was about to reveal secrets. Dodge and Hawes travel the city to include the infamous Latin Quarter of Ybor City, Sunset Park and more before heading to Havana as they follow clues that look promising but seem to go nowhere with the mob watching every step they take just in case. Though a fine mystery based on the real homicide of Wall in 19555 Tampa, WHITE SHADOW feels more like a historical tale with a whodunit subplot as the story line contains a who's who of 1950s Florida and Cuba. The investigation is terrific, but it is the tidbits from the era and the persona like Castro who brings what seems now like ancient history (the Dodgers are still in Brooklyn winning their only world series while located there while L.A. is not even a strategic objective). True crime fans, the historical mystery audience, and readers who appreciate a look back at the "Happy Days" of the Eisenhower era will appreciate Ace Atkins fine "reenactment" thriller.

In Plain Sight
C.J. Box
ISBN: 0399153608, $24.95, 320 pp.

Spring has finally arrived in Saddlestring but Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett is not a happy man. With a new democratic governor in charge of the state, Joe now has to report directly to the agency director Randy Pope. The two men don't get along and Pope is doing everything in his power to make Joe's life miserable and has ultimate goal is to find a way to fire him. More trouble is coming to town in the form of J.W. Keeley who, just been released from prison, committed murder and grand theft auto. He blames Joe for the death of his sister in law and his daughter, and intends to make the law enforcement official pay. He takes advantage of the feud between the brothers Hank and Arlen Scarlett who are fighting over ownership of the family ranch since their mother Opal disappeared or was murdered. Keeley is hiding is plain sight and is doing a great job of instilling fear in the Pickett family. Joe knows someone is after him and he intends to hunt that person down even if it costs him his job and his life. C.J. Box has a special kind of talent that he imbues in his police procedurals. He is able to touch the heart of readers through his protagonist who cares passionately about the family, land and wildlife. Pickett refuses to play politics which gets him in trouble with the director yet it is his straight shooting that allows him to be effective in his job. This mystery is totally awesome due to brilliant characterizations and a tense down home storyline.

Everything After
Sharon Pywell
ISBN: 0399153500, $24.95, 336 pp.

After the accidental death of her mother the four Sunnaret children (Iris, Angie, Eddie and Perry) move in with adoptive parents Eleanor and Charlie Jackson and treated as their own just like their offspring Hank. Life is good for the five Jackson children until Eddie and Perry join the military and are sent to Vietnam in 1968. Not long afterward, military officials inform the Jacksons that both their adopted sons died heroically in battle. However, a former grunt who served with both siblings visits to tell the truth that one brother killed the other to keep him from endangering the platoon with a foolhardy charge into danger. Angie, already outraged that her siblings served while Charlie and Eleanor allowed them to join, takes it out on Hank by seducing him into an affair and joining anti Viet Nam radicals that disturb the patriotic veteran Charlie. Now nineteen Iris is beginning to learn family secrets of the Sunnarets and Emersons especially from her bitter older sister that leads to inquiries in which each revelation out-shocks the previous one. This powerful historical tale provides a puissant look at ethical issues within a family that serves as an anecdotal surrogate for the country during the late 1960s, but brilliantly applies to today as well. The tale is told from the viewpoint of Iris whose eyes are opening to a not so perfect Ozzie and Harriet life that she thought she led with the Emersons as truth after truth reveal morality questions that shake the teen's core. Adding to the complexity is the sibling relationships between the next generation quintet. Sharon Pywell provides a potent morality tale that will leave the audience examining their own values and relationships while also seeking her previous novel, WHAT HAPPENED TO HENRY.

Writing to Change the World
Mary Pipher
ISBN: 1594489203, $24.95

The underlying premise to this self-help book is that the pen (computer?) is mightier than the sword (weapons of mass destruction?). Mary Pipher assumes most people want to write what is on their mind but want to do so with clarity and passion. WRITING TO CHANGE THE WORLD explains what to do and not do with the latter perhaps being most critical as simple avoidable pitfalls can devastate a product. Ms. Pipher also explains when to use which format from letters to essays to blogs; with the key being some homage to Mcluhan in that the medium is key to the message. Finally the book provides a step by step primer into the writing process supplemented by exercises and instruction. Well written and easy to follow, this reviewer picked up some tips on presenting reviews (similar to Ms. Pipher's Op-ed comments) especially her affirmation of the writer as "a moral agent" while staying focused on your objective. As Robert Brent Toplin points out in his book MICHAEL MOORE'S 'FAHRENHEIT 9/11': HOW ONE FILM DIVIDED A NATION: "the most important message of Fahrenheit 9/11 is that the war with Iraq was unnecessary." was somewhat distracted by controversial anecdotal sidebars that took viewers away from the director's main theme. Ms. Pipher provides advice on how to avoid that easy to fall into trap with this fine self help primer.

Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology: Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Edited by Steven Saville and Alethea Kontis
ISBN: 0765315637, $13.95

The proceeds from this anthology go to help Save the Children's Tsunami Relief Fund; so purchasing the collections is a worthy endeavor. However, if that alone cannot motivate readers, the twenty-three short stories written by some of the best of speculative fiction writers on the market today are almost all excellent with no subpart submissions. The contributors obviously motivated by the cause diligently kept the bar at the highest quality level. The tales run the gamut of fantasy and science fiction to include a dangerous trek into fairy land, a lethal march with the military in space and an even more dangerous joy ride around a future Los Angeles. Whether the stories star alien species, mythological creatures, immortals; whether they are comedic; satiric (just ask Macbeth), or seriously cautionary all are terrifically entertaining.

Rainbows End
Vernor Vinge
ISBN: 0312856849, $25.95

In 2025 in San Diego Robert Gu recovers from Alzheimer's, but much of the world he once knew has changed dramatically since he originally fell into his fog state a few years ago and he even doubts his once highly recognized skill as a poet. He lives with his son, but struggles with the new information age in which virtual and real seem part of the same double helix; feeling like a toddler, Robert realizes that even his teenage granddaughter appears more knowledgeable than him. To help him adapt to using the equipment properly, the septuagenarian Chinese American attends remedial technological classes at the nearby Fairmont High School. However, as Robert tries to learn how to properly use his gadgetry, he soon finds himself entangled in a remonstration by retired University of California at San Diego faculty disputing the replacing of the library by online databanks. That soon leads the bewildered poet into the milieu of a conspiracy to create a deadly biological weapon. This is a well written character driven science fiction that is at its best when readers observe the world through the mature but awed Robert. When the story line spins into the conspiratorial murky weapon of mass destruction it loses some of its strength though it contains a lot more action. Overall RAINBOWS END is a solid futuristic tale starring a wonderful hero struggling to adapt to a brave new world.

Ardneh's Sword
Fred Saberhagen
ISBN: 0765312107, $24.95

A thousand years has passed since the rise of the transcendent Ardneh, who along with intrepid warriors like Rolf, saved mankind from extinction from the minion of archdemon Orcus. Orcus and Ardneh died in their critical battle that employed the new magics and the old technology. Over the centuries Ardneh's tale of courage became more myth with few humans believing he ever existed or for that matter his evil adversary. In the present Rolf's descendent Chance Rolfson suffers from stunning nightmares. Hoping to escape his dreams, Chance joins an expedition seeking proof that the legendary Ardneh existed. They seek the great vault that most people insist is fable. In the unknown forests that they trek, bandits and demons attack the band. As they seek shelter from the assaults, Chance concludes that his nightmares are visions that will enable him to find the greatest weapon left behind by the fabled heroes of yore, ARDNEH'S SWORD. This is a fine sequel that fans of Fred Saberhagen especially those who read the EMPIRE OF THE EAST (the tale of Rolf and Ardneh) will enjoy. The story line is filled with non-stop action as Chance joins a quest as a participant, but soon realizes that to his regret he is the man. Chance makes this an interesting epic fantasy as his doubts ring true.

Druid's Sword
Sara Douglass
ISBN: 0765305437, $27.95, 606 pp.

The Troy Game, a work of sorcery that is supposed to protect a city, has taken on a life of its own in the form of a woman known as Catling. She wants to complete the game and now that the creator Major Jack Skelton, who has been reincarnated through several lifetimes, has returned to London that can now happen. Jack, once known as Brutus and who saw Troy fall, knows that if he finishes the game, The Land of Faerie and Great Britain will be under her evil rule. Other people reincarnated in this lifetime (the fall of 1939) that are part of the game include Jack's former wife Norah and his one-time enemy Asterion the Minotaur now known as Weyland Orr. While Jack searches for a weakness in the game he notices a shadow hanging over London's skies that only Norah and Waylin's daughter Grace can also see. Jack finds himself very attracted to Grace in a way he never was with her mother but Catling has puts a hex onGrace causing her great pain at certain intervals to insure they will complete the Game. The shadow represents a new player in the land, one that Grace knows intimately but whose identity will shock her and Jack as neither is sure of its true motives. If they guess wrong, the lands of two realms are doomed. In the conclusion to the Troy Game Saga, Sara Douglass ties up all the loose ends, and gives readers a satisfying conclusion to one of the best historical fantasy sagas to come along in ages. Brutus aka Jack is finally at piece after almost four millennia of turmoil and the audience will like the man he has become. Great characterizations, a sense of continuity from the other three books in this series and a great storyline make DRUID'S SWORD worthy of a place on the best seller list.

Midnight Magic
Rebecca York, Susan Kearney & Jeanie London
ISBN: 0765354853, $6.99

"Second Chance" by Rebecca York. Still mourning the loss of her beloved Matthew, antiques dealer Sara visits the Second Chance Gallery in St. Michaels, Maryland. Proprietor Marcus Garrison shows her a strange painting "Midnight Magic". When she looks deep at the picture she soon finds herself at the home of client Cornelia Ballinger who is Matthew's grandmother attending the gala where she first met Marcus; can she change history? "Ulterior Motives" by Susan Kearney. Popular singer Merline dashes inside Second Chance Gallery to elude the paparazzi and soon looks into the painting Midnight Magic. The next thing she knows is that she is struggling to breath. Tomm from Siraz saves her life. He informs her she is on Space Station Alpha Gamma Five and asks her to sing with him on his remote planet, but she refuses as that is not in the direction of earth. She will soon reconsider his offer as a contract she signed proves too binding. "Temptation" by Jeanie London. In 1713, Nina and her guardian Gray, who mourns the loss of his wife and newborn, visit portrait artist Master Verbrugees. The painter realizes Nina is an empath so he shows the Midnight Magic. She and Gray see a red haired man in the picture. Verbrugees explains that it is his former apprentice Damian Hart; he next shows them a sketch of what Damian saw in the painting – a picture of Nina and Gray. These three fine paranormal thrillers will remind the audience of Rod Serling's Night Gallery. The novellas contain fine lead characters though the settings differ with the common thread being the painting that serves as the portal. Though many readers will want to know more about the original sorcerer-artist, MIDNIGHT MAGIC is a delightful anthology.

R. Garcia Y. Robertson
ISBN: 0765313561, $24.95, 320 pp.

In the North Woods lives the Bone Witch and her slave Aria who can use magic to become invisible until she moves. She never goes out at night because dark creatures roam the area including troll-bears, lycanthropes, sprites and wild animals. One day she happens upon a wounded knight Sir Roye and gets him to safety in a nearby cave. The Markovites are after him because he stole the Firebird's egg when the king was killed and his brother tried to take the throne from the young Prince Ivan. The Bone Witch knows all about Aria and Roye's attraction for one another and the need to get the egg back to its nest on Burning Mountain in the Iron Woods, a place more frightening than the North Woods. Aria is freed from slavery and she and her knight start for Burning Mountain but they are captured by Tartars. Roye fixes it so Aria escapes and he joins the Tartars in their conquest. Aria, thinking her love is dead, finds herself rescued by Persephone and Eros when the powers that be want to take her into custody so they can find the egg. She has many adventures and so does Sir Roye before the two are finally reunited in the Kremlin where the Firebird Egg is kept. Somehow they must steal it and put it back where it belongs without getting killed by their many enemies. This stand alone fantasy epic is one of the best quest books written in some time. The storyline takes place in a land that would be considered Russia in our world except for creatures of mythos and legend. R. Garcia Y. Robinson has written a wonderful romantic fantasy that will appeal to the fans of Mercedes Lackey and Judith Tarr.

Charles De Lint
ISBN: 0765312859, $27.95

After playing the fiddle at a gig in a mall with her band The Knotted Cord, Lizzie Mahone begins to go home but a horde of vicious males dwarfs known as Bogans assault her with an intent to rape her, but she is rescued. Afterward, Lizzie buries a deer that the mean spirited Bogans had killed. Her simple action angers the observing fairies, but the deer's father Walker appreciates her reverent gesture. Meanwhile in Newford, Knotted Cord fiddler Geordie Riddell is seeing seer Mother Crone while his best friend artist Jilly Coppercorn, the Broken Girl in a wheelchair since a hit-and-run incident, breaks up with her boyfriend nurse Daniel. Jilly joins the band temporarily while member Siobhan's broken wrist heals. However, fairies abduct Jilly and Lizzie taking them to the woodlands "in-between". There the two females find themselves trying to prevent a coming species war with ethnic cleansing being the goal on both sides. Though the various races and family trees are complex and difficult to keep track of who's who, fans of the series will fully appreciate this strong alternate reality fantasy. North America as always has never been the same since Charles de Lint introduced readers to the Newford chronicles and this tale that uses the relationship between Jilly and Geordie (everyone knows they are attracted to each other except them) as a backdrop adds to the fabulous saga. From start to finish this is a strong exhilarating stand alone (yet adds to the myth) Newford adventure that readers will fully appreciate as Mr. de Lint is at his best escorting the audience down the WIDDERSHINS.

Dirty Laundry
Tori Carrington
ISBN: 0765312417, $23.95, 320 pp.

Sophie Metropolis is a private investigator in training under the mentorship of her Uncle Spyros who owns his own agency. When she is not drinking frappes she is avoiding her mother who wants to hire her to find out who her husband is having an affair with; the wannabe PI doesn't want to get involved in the middle of that family mess. She is working on a case in which she has to find Fred the missing ferret who belongs to a wheelchair bound heartbroken girl. Her workload also includes trying to prove that a man who wants disability is faking an on-the-job injury. Sophie tries to serve papers on a man who is as slippery as an eel, meaning he always finds a way to wiggle out of it. Finally she seeks the missing dry cleaner store owner Uncle Tolly who has two sets of books that makes it look like he is laundering money for mafia mobster Tony Di Piazza. His thugs are following her everywhere she goes and break into her apartment to steal the books. Sophie is in danger while the mysterious, and sexy and dangerous Australian Jake Porter watches her back; she would prefer he held her tight in bed. Readers who like well written humorous tales with an eccentric support cast will want to read DIRTY LAUNDRY. The heroine is a modern woman who is close to her old world Greek family allowing readers to visualize a Queens Greek-American neighborhood. Sophie's dog with his extreme case of flatulence will have readers laughing out loud as she tries to cure his condition so her apartment can smell clean in case Porter joins her.

The Enemy Within
Noel Hynd
ISBN: 0765306123, $25.95

In 2009, because she is a female Presidential Protection Detail Secret Service Agent Laura Chapman is tasked to stop a paid assassin from killing the President. Little is known about the assailant except that he is male and a secret service agent. Thirty something Laura begins her investigation by tracking down the source of the tip, a peson who used the name "Charley Boy". Laura learns that Charley Boy is actually hooker Anna Muang, who overheard a client explaining the hit on POTUS. As Laura continues to dig for the blond evil, she finds herself racing against time and not getting any closer. Who amongst her peers has the audacity to accept $10 million from an enemy foreign government to kill the president of the United States? THE ENEMY WITHIN is an exhilarating thriller that never slows down from the moment that Laurua learns her gender gives her the assignment until the final showdown inside the White House. Though the action-packed story line contains too many sidebars that enable the audience to also better understand the motives of the heroine, the countdown threat to the assassination keeps the audience enthralled as increasingly it looks like the rogue agent will succeed. Noel Hynd provides an edge of the seat thriller to his many fans.

Erin Grady
ISBN: 0425209636, $6.99

In Los Angeles elderly Chloe LaMonte came to writer Reilly Alexander's book signing to inform the former Badlands musician that she was his guide to his destiny. The next thing he knows she mentions Carolina Beck's spirit calling to her to bring Reilly home. In spite of being skeptical Reilly returns to his hometown, Diablo Springs, Arizona. In San Diego Eddie Rodriguez visits Gracie Beck. Since they have not seen one another in years Gracie is surprised, but Eddie tells her that her grandma has just died and that her high school honor student daughter Analise was in a car accident with a boy named Brendan in Diablo Springs, Gracie's hometown. Bewildered as well as upset Gracie goes home to find her daughter okay and that she has inherited the family owned Diablo Hotel and curse that she believes brought her and Analise here as it has haunted her relatives since 1890. Gracie plans to end the curse so it cannot harm Analise. When she and Reilly see one another for the first time in seventeen years even Analise can see the attraction between them. This is a terrific contemporary romance with mystery and paranormal spins that actually plays out on two parallel time lines with the present being the primary plot, but 1890 serving as a key subplot. The story line is character driven as the key cast members seem genuine including the psychic seemingly whispering with ghosts. Fans will treasure this strong tale that is a one sitting read to simply learn the link between today and yesterday and whether each era's lead couple survives the challenges.

Extreme Bachelor
Julia London
ISBN: 0425209199, $7.99

In Manhattan life is perfect for Leah Klein because she lives with the man she loves Michael Raney. Leah assumes that one day they will marry and raise a family. That is until he suddenly vanishes without warning from her life. A devastated Leah slowly moves on with her life and begins to seek acting jobs until she lands a speaking role in The War of the Soccer Moms. To her shock, Michael Raney is a stuntman on the set. Even more stunning he wants chapter two to begin, but Leah refuses out of fear that she will not recuperate. Michael explains he left her without warning for her safety as his enemies from years of spying were coming for him and unbeknownst to Michael still are. This amusing romantic romp is hard to put down once started because the likable lead couple and the eccentric support cast are fun to follow as they go from one jocular caper after another sort of like a Hudson-Day Pillow Talk gender fight. The story line centers on Michael desperately wanting a second chance while Leah, as only a woman can, puts him through the rinse cycle with enthusiastic elan. Julie London provides a fun contemporary second chance romance that readers will cherish.

Megan's Mark
Lora Leigh
ISBN: 0425209644, $6.99

In 2023 New Mexico Sheriff's Deputy Megan Fields patrols a lonely part of the desert. She likes this area because she is unable to control her empathic skills and rarely runs into anyone in this remote area. She senses trouble and soon finds a vehicle with two people dead inside. Someone starts shooting at her. Lion breed (mix of lion DNA into human DNA) Braden Arness helps expedite Megan from the mess though she does not trust a breed especially one who just bit her. The next day inside Sheriff Lance's office, Braden sees Megan and becomes instantly hard and jealous when he senses her arousal, though he is not sure who the male is. Braden insists that the Coyotes who killed the two breeds wanted Megan dead as she was the target. He will stay by her side to protect her though she tells him to get lost as she fears her attraction to Braden as she gave up on sex years ago; it is hard to enjoy anything when you hear the inner thoughts and fantasies of one's partner. As they fall in love and he already marked her with his bite as his, a powerful deadly enemy wants her dead. This entertaining romantic science fiction suspense will remind the audience of KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by Carrie Vaughn and MaryJanice Davidson's DERIK'S BANE as this futuristic world filled with "Breeds" seems "normal". The paranormal elements blend smoothly into the exciting story line and the lead couple make a fine pairing though society forbids a relationship between a half breed and a purebred. Though some readers will be turned off by too much profanity and the lead female denies she is in love too often, sub-genre readers will appreciate this delightful thriller.

The Saddlemaker's Wife
Earlene Fowler
ISBN: 0425207781, $23.95

Cole and Ruby McGavin were married six months when he died in an apparent accident in which his truck was found in the bottom of a ravine. Ruby mourns her sudden loss, but receives a second shocker when she learns that she inherited part of his family spread, the Circle MG Ranch in Cardinal, Tokopah County, California. The stunner is that Cole insisted his entire family died ironically in a car accident near Bakersfield. Taking Cole's ashes to his hometown while also planning to sell her share of the ranch, Ruby meets her in-laws. Cole's Aunt Birch is especially welcoming to her, the total opposite of her mother-in-law June, who treats her with disdain and fears she will bankrupt their spread with her quarter share. However, the biggest surprise is Lucas, Cole's younger brother, a former San Francisco lawyer who came home to become an impoverish saddlemaker. He has the same obsession as her, a need to know what drove Cole to deny his family's existence. They team up to learn the truth, but family members are silent leading them to Cole's friends as their only hope. Displaying her talent without Benni Harper to help, Agatha Award winner Earlene Fowler provides a deep family drama starring two likable protagonists needing to know the secret that led to Cole's actions. The story line is character driven especially indirectly by the late Cole. Fans of powerful psychological thrillers that require a one sitting read will want to know why at least as much as THE SADDLEMAKER'S WIFE needs to know too.

In the City of Dark Waters
Jane Jakeman
ISBN: 0425209814, $23.95

In the first decade of the twentieth century in Venice, British Consul Theseus Barton provides fellow Oxford graduate lawyer Revel Callender with assignments that enables the English expatriate to live reasonably albeit somewhat shabbily in the city. Theseus sends Revel to the home of Palazzo Casimiri, part of an affluent English banking family, whose elderly principessa needs legal assistance with documents. Upon arrival at the Casimiri residence, Revel finds a corpse of his client awaits him. Still hired to organize her papers, Callender finds the swinging body of Count Casimiri hanging from a tree. He sees knife wounds all over the corpse, but the police, heeding the warning advice of a powerful patrician, insist suicide occurred. Artist Claude Monet and his wife arrive having fled Paris after the scandal of the homicide of his brother-in-law. He wants Callender to go to France to investigate the murder though both the artist and the attorney know he can do nothing but report his findings to him. In Venice, while pondering Monet's request, and ignoring the police, attempts on his life, and falling in love with Clara Casimiri, Callender continues to investigate because he knows a murder occurred. Jane Jakeman provides an intriguing look at Venice circa 1908 using an amateur sleuth whodunit to paint a picture of a morally corrupt society in which injustice is the norm. Callender is a fine protagonist whose need to learn the truth almost becomes a fixation; so much so that the self-exiled Monet knows he is the man to send to Paris on his case. The use of Monet adds to the overall feel that the reader is visiting the era, but in the end it is the exhilarating thriller elements as seemingly folks from different walks of life want Callender stopped that keep the audience reading.

The Night School
Michael Paine
ISBN: 0425209164, $6.99, 325 pp.

EdEntCo has bought what was once George Washington High School, which he intends to renovate into the Washington Academy, a place where the wealthy and powerful can send their children. The neighborhood knows that something evil resides inside the building and some residents warn Principal D. Michael Canning when he inspects the edifice one night. He ignores their prattle and enters the schoolhouse; in the basement he finds a walled up room. After tearing the wall down, D. Michael finds a headless skeleton; but instead of calling the police he places the remains back where they were and reseals the room. When school starts, screams echo throughout the building leading to everyone on edge. Acts of violence happen without any warning; soon occupants begin killing one another. Shortly afterward the Ghost of Washington Academy occupies a robot that the students are building and demands they find his head or face more of his wrath. Unless EdEntCo comes up with a plan ASAP, the ghost will continue his vengeance killings. Anyone who appreciates a scary haunted house ghost story should look no further than THE NIGHT SCHOOL. Unlike some horror thrillers that concentrate exclusively on action, this haunting story line develops the characters in a manner reminiscent of King or Koontz. Though readers will agree on simply shutting down the lethal school (money interests aside), Michael Paine provides a book that Poltergeist lovers will enjoy.

Boys That Bite
Mari Mancusi
Berkley Jam
ISBN: 0425209423, $9.99

Oakridge High School student Sunshine McDonald has a slight problem living up to her name even with the hunk Jake Wilder asking her to the prom. She accompanied her twin sister Rayne to Club Fang where Magnus the vampiric centerfold mistook her for her sister and gave her a hickie on her neck. Sunshine will be his vampiric blood mate instead of the promised already trained Rayne unless they can find the cure especially in light (whoops can't used that word) of the wrong twin feeling too young to commit to eternity especially since she does not drink Bloody Mary. Though he feels a bit guilty, Magnus enjoyed the virginal bite, but agrees to help her reverse the process as Rayne was the vampire in training to be his blood mate. The twins travel to St. Patrick's Cemetery where only Sunshine as a vampire rookie can enter. They turn to Lord Lucifant, coven head, for advice who informs them to find the Holy Grail. However, when someone kills the undead Lucifant, the twins and their vampire know that the chances of Sunshine seeing daylight are doubtful. BOYS THAT BITE is a tongue in cheek young teen tale starring two distinct likable twins, the vampire between them, and a coven of terrific support characters who bring humor and suspense to the mix. The story line is filled with humor and action as the triangle works on finding the cure, but to do so the trio becomes amateur sleuths solving the homicide of Lucifant. As with SK8ER BOY, Mari Mancusi writes an insightfully fun teen tale.

Fine-Feathered Death
Linda O. Johnston
ISBN: 0425203743, $6.99, 272 pp.

After having her law license suspended for something she didn't do, Kendra Ballantine was able to prove her innocence and is now working at Yorrick & Associates as a partner. Yorrick, a lawyer in her old firm, hired Ezra Cossner who brought with him his profitable client list. Kendra is working with him on a case in which two clients won't sell their property to TO for them to build a multi-complex. Kendra likes working with the lawyer who underneath has a kind streak and is sometimes fair. She also adores his macaw G-igi who he keeps at the office. Someone doesn't like Ezra because Kendra finds his body one morning. A few days later, Kendra and a paralegal are talking in the office and a shot rings out killing the paralegal. The police zero in on her sometimes lover Jeff as a suspect so Kendra starts her own investigation to find the real killer and clear his name. Besides going back to work as a lawyer, Kendra keeps her pet-caring business which adds a lot of humor to this exciting who done-it. Linda O Johnston is a creative storyteller who not only writes a fascinating mystery but also creates a deep character study. Gi-Gi the macaw steals the show as she becomes the mascot of the law firm. Readers will adore her antics while applauding the heroine for caring about her and the number one suspect who she is determined to prove innocent.

Dead and Loving It
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 0425207951, $14.00

"Santa Claws". Werewolf Alec Kilcurt is lonely. That is until he sniffs his soulmate, who is a human female wearing a Santa Clause costume. "Monster Love". Vampire Richard Hill looked forward to falling in love that is until he did. His beloved werewolf Janet Lupo can get into a rage over nothing and calming her down takes quite a bite of his patience. "There's No Such Thing as a Werewolf". Dr. Drake is a rare physically impaired werewolf as he is blind. So he wonders why he vividly can see Crescent Muhn. "A Fiend in Need". Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor is at her wits end and by George not over shoes. However, relief may occur as Wyndham werewolf seer Antonia Wofton arrives to help George the vampire fiend evolve into a beast of her choosing. These are four amusing romantic fantasies as MaryJanice Davidson once again entertains the sub-genre with an irreverent fun anthology from the supernatural side.

The Messiah of Morris Avenue
Tony Hendra
ISBN: 0805079645, $24.00, 256 pp.

In the future, America is a theocracy run by fundamentalist Christians who passed laws outlawing everything under God. Meanwhile Christ returns, but not in the acceptable way the ruling theocrats demanded. Instead he does so in the South Bronx where he wears the human garb of the son of a female Guatemalan immigrant and an Irish father who is never around. Jos begins to obtain a street following. Jos performs miracles including one that leads to jail time in Connecticut for curing a leukemia victim without a medical license. He quickly persuades cynical journalist Johnny Grecco that he is the savior though his name is anglicized to Jay. . Shockingly Jay insists that all we need is love and tolerance for others to live a holy existence as expected by God the mother. On the other hand he detests war and could not care less about intelligent design, creationism or any other label. Meanwhile the renowned Reverend detests such blasphemy and wants Jay stopped. The Reverend seeks a modern day Judas to betray Jay. He thinks he found his silver lining with Grecco's desire for Pulitzer level fame and employs Texas style justice when Jay commits treason by preaching blasphemous pacifism when this country is about to invade Israel. This sharp satirical tale rips up the fundamentalist right by tearing away the veneer of euphemistic 3 second bite labels and shreds even more the afraid to say the L word liberals. The irony of this cautionary futuristic tale is that the satirical elements seem light when compared with Jay's message of give peace a chance in a world in which war is the solution (by macho bring em on armchair generals). Tony Hendra provides a thought provoking thriller that warns that if unchecked, America could turn into an intolerant United States of Theocracy.

The Barefoot Girl
Catherine Monroe
ISBN: 0451217713, $14.00

Now elderly Margharita looks back to when her life changed. In 1340 San Severino, Italy, fifteen-year-old Margharita works in the fields alongside her ten years old sister Teresa and her beloved Augustino whom she hopes to marry one day soon. A gentleman arrives at her family home and she realizes he was the one staring at her in the market place. Papa informs Margharita that she will wed the handsome outsider Master Domenico Vasari. Margharita is stunned that not only was she sold, but she will leave those she loves to live with a stranger. Domenico takes his teenage bride to his home Vasari Castle where he insists she wear sensual perfumes and elaborate silk gowns. He beats her when he perceives she disobeys him and is even more physically abusive when he has an urge to show her who's in charge. Margharita refuses to bend to his demands when it comes to attending church services. When he batters her even when she is pregnant, she turns to the Blessed Mother and Saint Mary Magdalene for help. Her prayers are not for herself; instead thy are to protect her unborn child, the starving impoverished people nearby and to guide her on how to help those in need. Heeding the Virgin Mother Margharita kicks off her shoes and begins providing sustenance to the less fortunate though that means more beatings, but she knows she is blessed because Jesus is with her. This biographical fiction provides a deep look at a courageous heroine who earned her sainthood, St. Margaret, Patroness of the Abused; perhaps Mother Teresa is the nearest modern day figure to this fourteenth century champion of the oppressed. Catherine Monroe provides a powerful inspirational look at an individual who walked the talk in spite of spousal abuse.

Murder Unleashed
Elaine Viets
ISBN: 045121840X, $19.95

Refusing to pay alimony to her cheating lazy former spouse as the Judge ruled claiming he was a devoted house husband who enabled her to achieve career success, Helen Hawthorne fled her life as a thriving businesswoman in St. Louis to work off the books in southern Florida. She quickly learns that proprietors, at least in the Fort Lauderdale area, are not concerned with your past or your social security number though none of her jobs come decimally close to the six figures she annually earned in Missouri.. Currently Helen works off the books at Pampered Pets in Fort Lauderdale. Two customers have recently been murdered. Nymphomaniac trophy wife Tammie Grimsby and Willoughby Barclay, who is in a legal divorce fight with his wife. The biggest arguments are over custody of their child Barkley the "Labradoodle". Though she knows better to mind her business, as she has a recent history of unsafe involvement (see SHOP TILL YOU DROP and JUST MURDERED), Helen investigates anyway. The fifth Dead-End Job Mystery is a delightful lampooning of the pet world where canines serve as chic accessories so an owner can be part of the "in-crowd" regardless of the abuse of the animal. The amateur sleuth investigation as always in this series is fun to follow because of the acerbic asides by the heroine who assumes the mantle of K-9 champion even as she referees between battling groomers while seeking the killer amidst a litter of suspects. Readers will enjoy Elaine Viets delightful satirizing whodunit.

Truth or Die
Delilah Dawson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312936540, $6.99

Accountant Sonya Drummond looks forward to a break in her tedious number crunching routine when she booked passage on a singles' cruise. She dreams of sex and other fun with a hunk and has her target in mind, handsome Kai Armstrong. Kai feels like kicking himself as he is very attracted to Sonya, but business before pleasure. The bounty hunter plans to either bring in fugitives Sonya ands her uncle or at least steal back the stolen necklace she wears. She insists she is innocent, but the cynical hunk knows everyone makes that claim. Still Kai considers a fling with the sexy Sonya as they are at sea, but once on dry land work supersedes all else including a beautiful body that sears his soul and a heart that makes his beat irregularly. TRUTH OR DIE is an amusing sea cruise romance starring two likable protagonists who from the start the audience will want to matchmake them. Sonya is a wonderful character looking for a great time as she leaves her inhibitions with the ledgers while her counterpart Kai is unbalanced by the siren whom he assumes is a thief or at least an accomplice. Their coming together turns Delilah Dawson's delightful tale into a zany pearl of a romance.

When Souls Mate
Joylynn Jossel
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312328621, $13.95

In Ohio to protect her beloved child, Klarke Taylor confessed to a homicide she did not commit (see THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL) in order to protect her teenage daughter Vaughn. After four years behind bars and being labeled "baby killer", Klarke is freed when her daughter admits to a nun at school of having committed the murder; now the nun is dead. However, during her incarceration time, her world outside of prison has radically changed. Her former spouse Reo Laroque married Meka, the mother of his youngest child and now Vaughn confessed. Still she has her son HJ. With Meka plotting to keep Reo at any cost, Klarke enlists her two best friends, Jeva, who remains fixated on finding her biological parents, and tough Breezy who seems more vulnerable since her dad died to help her save her children. Still the trio teams up with pal Harris to try to get Klarke what she wants even as Breezy apparently falls in love and Jeva meets someone she cares about too. This sequel is an interesting complex family drama filled with surprisingly twists especially a final one and strong characters. The story line is fast-paced as a frantic Klarke panics over what to do for her beloved two children. In spite of Meka seems too hedonistically nasty, readers will appreciate this stand alone character study though this reviewer recommends reading THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL as that adds depths of understanding as to why Klarke acted as she did as a mother willing to sacrifice her life for her young ones.

Patrick Quinlan
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349343, $23.95

New York mob king Big Vito and his competitive peers employ James "Smoke" Duggan, as his bomb maker of choice because the guy is better than DOD with his precision so that only the target dead. However, Smoke finds one objective holding 2.5 million dollars of Big Vito's loot and decides that would make a nice down payment on a new life. He absconds with the money and relocates to Portland, Maine knowing that Big Vito will send his toughest thugs after him if found. Vito uses some sick sadistic SOBs, but for Smoke he sends his craziest. Denny "Murderous Eyes" Cruz, Stick and Moss are coming to kill Smoke after they remove his eyes and otherwise torture and mutilate him. As a bonus they will also rape his girlfriend Lola in front of him before maiming her. However, Denny sees Smoke as a hero who escaped the literally dead end of their occupation for the good life of luxury with a sexy woman and considers how he can get a piece of that instead of camaraderie with killing apes who will probably come for his killer eyes one at a time one day. This action packed crime thriller starts off with plenty of Smoke that leads to a delightful abundance of fire until the climatic confrontation, but throughout contains a wonderful contrast between the residents and regular visitors to Portland and the thug invasion. Not surprisingly readers will root for Smoke and Lola to win, but also want Denny to convert. Though graphically flowing in blood, fans of hard core tales will want to read this battle between criminals as the outcome remains in doubt (with the Vito mob having the overwhelming edge) until the final twist.

See Delphi and Die
Lindsey Davis
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312357656, $24.95

In 76 A.D. widower Caesius Secundus hires informer Marcus Didius Falco to investigate the unsolved murder of his beloved daughter Marcella Caesius. She vanished while attending the 213th Olympic competition three years ago before her corpse was finally found. Officials assume the cold case will never be solved. With the Olympic Games starting soon, Falco figures that is the best place to learn who abducted Marcella so he arranges a trip to Greece to attend the gala and begin his investigation. He takes his wife Helena with him, but leaves their young daughters (Julia and Favonia) with their grandmother; Falco also recruits his nephews Gaius and Cornelius, Albia the Brit, and Young Glaucus son of a trainer. Falco quickly learns that another young woman, Valeria Ventidia, violently died on a sightseeing expedition sponsored by the same party that Marcella went with, Seven Sights Travel. So he joins their tour as he thinks let the games begin. The seventeenth Falco Ancient Rome (and now Greece) investigation is a terrific entry that uses the case to provide readers an incredible tour (Olympia is the fifth stop). Long time fans will appreciate the clever hero who still get distracted too easily and his brilliant wife who insures they stay focused. The inquiry turns personal when suddenly Gaius and Cornelius vanish in this wonderful whodunit that is part mystery and part historical novel and all entertainment with quite a final twist.

Big Boom
Domenic Stansberry
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312324707, $23.95, 240 pp.

Following the death of his father six months ago, former cop Dante Mancuso returned to his hometown San Francisco and became a private investigator working with Jake Cicero. Currently besides sipping coffee in North beach, Dante is working a missing person's case that hits home. Barbara and Nick Antonelli hired Jake to locate their missing daughter Angie. Dante knew Angie when she was growing up in this neighborhood and even owns a picture of them when he was twelve and she seven. However, he really got to know her when they were both in their twenties. So though he assumes the capricious impetuous Angie temporarily ran away, Dante will do everything he can just to insure she is okay. After interviewing the parents who he knows so well, Dante learns that the corpse fished out of the Bay is Angie. He changes his inquiry from missing person to homicide refusing to believe Angie committed suicide as some accept. He begins looking into the late reporter's relationships starting with Michael Solano who just broke with her and Jim Rose who left a voice message, but soon finds each clue he follows up on wickedly lead back to his own past. BIG BOOM, the second Mancuso private investigative tale (see CHASING THE DRAGON) is a terrific urban noir starring a flawed individual who is unable to let the case go as it has turned personal. As Dante uncovers the last days of Angie, he also can no longer deny his own demons from his past. Fans of San Francisco whodunit thrillers will appreciate this strong entry as Dante discovers as much or more about himself as he does in solving what happened to Angie.

The Darkest Place
Daniel Judson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312352530, $23.95

With several young males dead having drowned in near frozen Shinnecock Bay, the Hamptons are in deep shock. Parents grieve, but each wonders what they could have done different and what really happened to drive their sons to suicide. Finally, one of them could not accept the official ruling of suicide as that means their child will not go to heaven and decide to learn the truth hiring private investigator Reggie Clay who they hope will prove that their son did not take his own life. Reggie begins to uncover proof that a homicide occurred with the evidence beginning to incriminate Professor Deacon Kane, whose son accidentally drowned several years ago and he has never fully recovered from it. Deacon realizes that someone is setting him up to take the fall and though he has not cared since he lost his son, solace coming with alcohol and an affair with a married woman, he refuses to take the hit. He begins to ponder the motive of who would want to frame him; at first he assumes an enemy, but wonders if he is just an easy target to divert suspicions away from the culprit. The underlying premise to this exciting character driven thriller is how different people cope with the unexpected loss of a loved one back. The complex storyline is fast-paced and filled with plausible twists at the same time fans gain different degrees of insight into the local residents including the professor, which leads to armchair sleuths wondering if suicide or murder occurred and if the latter who did it. Daniel Judson provides a strong mystery.

Execution: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to Death
Geoffrey Abbott
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312352220, $23.95, 288 pp.

Surprisingly considering the topic of historical references to torture and execution techniques, this tome is a enthralling well written look at how it was applied in western society over the centuries. The book is arranged in alphabetical order with the sizes of each entry varying based on available information and to a degree frequency of usage. The fascination is typically with the smaller sized less known entries. Though more information is valuable on the "popular" techniques such as Madame Guillotine, lethal injection, or hanging, the methods that most people have never heard of like being sewn inside an animal's stomach, the Spanish Donkey or Flayed alive, etc., which are relatively one or two paragraphs are the ones that hook the audience. Though the Guantomino crowd might insist this book is barbaric, history buffs will appreciate this deep look at the darker side of governments and societies.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or, Love, Death and the SATs
Paula Marantz Cohen
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312325029, $23.95

In Scarsdale, New York, thirty-four years old single high school guidance counselor Anne Ehrlich has to sell her once affluent patrician family home as they no longer have the resources to maintain it to pay off the debts her spendthrift father accumulated. The sole pragmatist she is the one stuck with completing the logistics of the sale. Travel book writer Ben Cutler moves to Scarsdale so that his nephew Jonathan can attend a top high school in the states after they lived overseas for years together along with his single mom. Ben is stunned to learn the love of his life Annie works there. Thirteen years ago when she attended Columbia and he worked as a travel agent in Queens they fell in love. However, her snooty family rejected the working class Ben and she did not have the fortitude to defy them. Seeing him now Anne knows sadly what she truly lost and how unhappy she has been since she said no to her beloved Ben. The second Paula Marantz Cohen's modernizing of the works of Jane Austen (see JANE AUSTEN IN BOCA based on Pride and Prejudice) is a fine tale that updates Persuasion. The story line is obvious how it will end from the moment the counselor meets Jonathan's Uncle Ben, but the audience will not care as the insight into the college admissions process is fascinating and the denial of the lead pair that they both desire a second chance make for high tension in spite of at times each seems like a loser. What holds the tale together besides the best admissions review since How I Got Into College is the support cast which seems genuine with no evil souls including his likable fiancee.

Vampire Transgression
Michael Schiefelbein
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312330219, $23.95, 272 pp.

Over two thousand years ago, Victor Decimus, son of patrician parents, was a Roman soldier stationed in Judea. He knew and loved Jesus who rejected his love; with his new knowledge that he could love and be hurt, he went to a vampire and asked her to transform him. Once she did, she went on to the DARK KINGDOM, a heavenly realm for vampires. Victor lived on hating Jesus and killing many members churchmen through the ages. Now in the present he has found love with Paul who loved him enough to want to spend eternity with him. When Victor transforms Paul, he breaks two sacred rules of the vampire world, not passing on to the Dark Kingdom and staying with Paul in a consolidation of power that goes against the natural laws of the universe. The powers that be in the Dark Kingdom are getting ready to strike at Victor, but he believes, perhaps foolishly, that he can outwit them. Fans of Brandon Massey and Poppy Z Brite will thoroughly enjoy this new take on the vampire mythos. Paul is an infant compared to Victor and doesn't want to be separated from his lover for the two centuries it will take for him to be eligible to enter the Dark Kingdom. Victor, who never loved like this before, makes many sacrifices for his lover and in the process becomes an endearing anti-hero. Michael Schiefelbein makes his audience believe vampires actually exist.

Consigned to Death
Jane K. Cleland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347251, $23.95

As a whistleblower, she left the Big Apple in "disgrace" for exposing a price-fixing scheme at Frisco's by her boss in court. Instead of accolades for her courage and conviction, the industry condemned her honesty and ethics. Thus, shook up by the negative reactions and not so subtle threats, she fled back to her home state, New Hampshire. Adding to her emotional instability is the fact her father just passed away. The now Portsmouth based antiques dealer Josie Prescott has her first potential major client, elderly wealthy recluse Nathaniel Grant but he was found dead in his nearby Rocky Point mansion after the duo connected. Police Chief Ty Alverez believes Josie is a prime suspect as does her lawyer Max Bixby as she had the opportunity being at the crime scene at approximately the time of death and her prints are on the murder weapon, a knife. Used to investigating though her objective is an antique normally, Josie begins making inquiries to uncover the culprit as she does not trust Alverez to look beyond her. Based on the theory someone knew she and the victim were working on a business deal, Josie finds suspects from within the family and within her industry, but feels whoever stole the valuable paintings especially the Renoir committed the homicide. The clever blending of the antique seller's world with a murder mystery makes for a delightful cozy that sub-genre fans will fully appreciate. Josie, as the center of the official investigation and her own holds the tale together while going through her list. Her relationship with Alverez adds to the fun as they are attracted to one another, but first comes proving her innocence. Readers will enjoy this intelligent whodunit starring a wonderful heroine.

The Detection Collection
Edited by Simon Brett
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031235763X, $24.95

What better way to show reverence to Britain's Detection Club than with a strong anthology for its seventy-fifth birthday though based on Simon Brett's Introduction the founding date is ironically a mystery as 1929, 1930 or 1932 are bandied about. One thing mystery fans will agree upon is that the club has always contained a who's who. The founders included Christie, Chesterton, and Sayers, etc. The contributors to this anthology consists of renowned British authors such as P.D. James, Colin Dexter, H.R.F. Keating, and one of this reviewer's favorite suspense authors Robert Goddard. The eleven tales are all well written with three extraordinary standouts: James' "The Part-time Job", Dexter's "Between the Lines" and "Toupee for a Bald Tyre" by Goddard. Mr. Brett adds an essay "The Detection Club, A Brief History" that adds to the fun of a fine compilation that whether it is anniversary 73. 75 or 76, still pays homage to the founding parents through a solid short story collection.

Heart of the World
Linda Barnes
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312332874, $24.95

Boston Private Investigator Carlotta Carlyle is worried about her teenage friend Paolina Fuentes, who apparently vanished without a word of warning. Carlotta loves Paolina as if the youngster was her offspring so she visits the mother, who barely notices her child is gone. Instead the selfish distracted woman has a new boyfriend that requires special care from her. Carlotta begins to wonder if perhaps Paolina's biological father Colombian drug lord Roldon might have abducted his daughter, leaving her potentially in danger from some of his meanest rivals and even associates. However finding the criminal is almost impossible as everyone believes he is dead. Still Carlotta travels initially to Miami, which leads to her flying to Bogotá where she hopes to pick up the trail of an alleged dead man who apparently came back from the grave to snatch Paolina. The eleventh entry in the Carlotta Carlyle investigative series is a fantastic novel as the near panicking sleuth searches for a teen she loves like a daughter who she believes is in trouble. The story line captures Carlotta's fears and other deep feelings as the case takes her to South America. Also moving forward is her relationship with Sam, but to see where that goes means (hopefully) reading the next novel. Fans of the series will appreciate Linda Barne's strong entry.

Her Scandalous Marriage
Leslie LaFoy
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347707, $6.99, 352 pp.

Drayton McKenzie enters the London dressmaking shop of Caroline Dutton with a scowl on his face. In spite of his frown Caroline ponders how good he would taste thinking carnal thoughts. Drayton introduces himself as the Duke of Ryland. He informs that her father, his late distant relation ignored his illegitimate offspring when he was alive; but blackmailed Drayton from the grave with control of his inheritance to turn the trio into ladies married to proper aristocrats. Caroline as the only adult of the three he assumes is going to be the most difficult as she is set in her ways. Caroline reluctantly agrees to become his student at his country estate. As he trains her to be a lady, Drayton finds he also desires her. However, trying to do the right thing by her he prepares lady Carline for the marriage mart knowing her large dowry will hide much of her past, but if he is not careful he will fail because he is falling in love with his ward; she encourages him, scandal be damned. This lighthearted regency romance will provide plenty of pleasure to sub-genre fans as the pompous and proper Drayton finds he is receiving lessons in love and life from his impish pupil similar in a way to Pygmalion. The antics of the lead duo make for a fun read as he loses his skirmishes with his attraction for her while she thought he would be a carnal delight from the moment he scowled and growled in her shop. Leslie LaFoy provides a fine historical that readers will enjoy.

The Untamed One
Ronda Thompson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312935749, $6.99, 320 pp.

In 1821 Lord Jackson Wulf comes to Whit Hurch, England seeking to kill the witch he heard rumors lived in the vicinity. Jackson knows that the curse that changes him and his brothers into monsters can only be lifted by facing and defeating his greatest enemy, which he assumes since a witch cursed the family, means a witch's death. Jackson finds his target deep in the forest, but Lucinda begs him to let her deliver her child before he kills her. Jackson agrees to allow her to give birth before he completes his quest by killing her. He assists her with the birth of her son, born of a rape, but immediately loved and cherished by his mother. However, the villagers are after both of them; he for sleeping with one of their daughters; her because Lord Cantley, father of her infant, said so. Jackson is unable to complete his task. Instead he offers a haven for Lucinda and her son, which she accepts for the sake of her child and in return she promises to find the magic to lift the curse. As they fall in love, Cantley demands he return the outlaw witch to him, but Jackson refuses to hand over his wife. THE UNTAMED ONE is a fabulous paranormal historical romance with the otherworldly elements used more as a plot device to bring the lead couple together and to propel the fun story line forward. Jackson is a wonderful protagonist stressed between the devastation of the curse especially because of what it will do to his brothers and his love for the witch he must kill. Lucinda is a courageous soul, somewhat inept as a witch, but perfect as the woman for the Wulf. Ronda Thompson provides a mesmerizing Wild Wulfs tale (see THE DARK ONE).

Killer Instinct
Joseph Finder
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347472, $24.95

In the Framingham, Massachusetts area Entronics executive Jason Steadman is driving home reading email on his Blackberry when his cell phone rings. He knows his wife Kate is calling so he answers only to hear her crying as once again Dr. DeMarco of Boston IVF tells her they failed again. Distracted Jason sends his Acura into a ditch bruising a few ribs but is otherwise okay. Tow truck driver Kurt Semko arrives to take the vehicle away and give Jason a lift. Jason and Kurt become friends and the fomer recommends the latter for a job at Entronics. Soon the former Special Forces operative begins doing assignments for Kurt that dramatically increase his sales making him look good. However, soon Kurt apparently goes the extra mile for his buddy and starts killing business adversaries of and rivals of Jason. Unable to figure out how to expedite himself from this mess, Jason soon realizes that even his beloved Kate is at risk so he must confront and stop the invincible killing Kurt. Joseph Finder provides a fun business serial killer thriller starring an amiable salesman and his new friend a killing machine. The story line is action-packed from the moment Kurt does his first special favor and never slows down until the final stimulating encounter. The villains (yes more than one) seem more like caricatures of their particular role, but no one will care as the audience will be hooked to learn how the COMPANY MAN survives (or not) dealing with a PARANOIA trained killer.

Pretty Girl Gone
David Housewright
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312348290, $24.95

Lindsey Bauer Barrett, wife of Minnesota Governor John Barrett, asks her former boyfriend, Twin Cities private investigator Mac McKenzie, to uncover who is behind an extortion email. For Zee as Mac calls her, he would do anything so he agrees to uncover the identity of the person blackmailing Barrett by going public with information claiming the governor killed his high school sweetheart, a cold case. Mac tracks the email back to Barrett's hometown Victoria where he remains more famous as part of the legendary state basketball championship team "Victoria Seven" than the governor. However, no one wants to discuss anything but that championship season and the residents are especially silent on the homicide. In fact, Mac's efforts to question the team members and the coach go nowhere and everyone demands he leave town as no one wants to allow him to tarnish the reputation of their team. However, he keeps digging only to find an elaborate ploy in the past that still impacts the present. PRETTY GIRL GONE is a terrific Twin City private investigative tale because of the determined flawed hero who refuses to back down though pressure mounts on him to leave; part of the reason he doggedly continues his inquiries is the past relationship and his attraction still to the beautiful Zee. His discovery of the truth is cleverly devised because the reality will shock readers yet clues are there to be found (albeit not by me). Fans will enjoy this strong caper and seek David Housewright's other tales (see TIN CITY).

Indian Pipes
Cynthia Riggs
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312354762, $22.95

In West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard, ninety-two years old Deputy Sheriff Victoria Trumbull and her granddaughter Elizabeth are walking together when they see a person apparently fall from a nearby cliff. The nonagenarian soon learns the corpse is that of her reclusive neighbor Jube Burkhardt. The crime scene and what Victoria and Elizabeth observed even from a distance lend credence to Jube accidentally falling off a nearby ledge. Victoria learns that Jube, an engineer, attended a meeting called by the local Wampanoag tribal council to discuss soil testing in support of their proposed casino. Though she vowed to stay out of the casino controversy, she finds the link to Jube too tempting to ignore as the residents of West Tisbrury are divided over the gambling project. Motivated to uncover the identity of the killer, Victoria soon finds a second dead person and an arson set fire. As she gets closer to the truth, the culprit tries to silence the persistent cop. As with the five previous delightful Martha's Vineyard Mystery, INDIAN PIPES is a superb whodunit starring a feisty protagonist, who though geriatric has not lost much of her step (just ask her granddaughter). The story line is exciting as a reluctant Victoria investigates the death and more. The story is terrific and the heroine wonderful and as always, Cynthia Riggs provides an eccentric support cast, this time a motorcycle biking professor and his hogs that turns the tale into a colorful winner.

SPQR X: A Point in Law
John Maddox Roberts
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337256, $23.95

Nobleman Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger knows that the fame and acclaim he recently received when he fought pirates in the Mediterranean (see IX: THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATES) coupled with the influence of his politically connected family make him a sure shot at being elected to the office of Praetor. He envisions beyond that of rather quickly becoming a governor. However, just prior to the election, the unthinkable occurs when an apparent stranger publicly proclaims that Decius is corrupt and has the proof. Decius and his family quickly regroup to try to figure out the best course to overcome the accusation of Marcus Fulvius, who seems to have had no motive except "altruistically" exposing him. Facing a trial on the charges of public corruption, Decius arrives at the courthouse only to find the corpse of Fulvius awaiting him on the stairs. While Rome believes he or his associates killed the accuser, Decius investigates seeking the truth to regain his tarnished reputation. As always the incredibly fascinating look at Ancient Rome makes this a worthy reading experience as the whodunit though clever takes a back seat to the tour of the city at an era when the Republic is collapsing. Decius is at his best as he turns from arrogant victor (before the vote has happened) to beleaguered victim struggling to prove his innocence when even his family assumes he is corrupt and probably a killer. Fans of the series or anyone who appreciates a historical mystery with the emphasis on the history will enjoy the tenth SPRQ tale.

Full Scoop
Janet Evanovich & Charlotte Hughes
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312934319, $7.99

As a teen Maggie Davenport fell in love with Carl Lee Stanton, who used her and deserted her. Maggie used her relationship with this bad boy as the impetus to turn herself around and make something of herself while also raising their child Mel with love. Meanwhile Maggie becomes a doctor while Carl Lee robbed a bank and killed an FBI Agent. Life is good until Maggie learns that Carl Lee escaped from prison and is most likely heading to Beaumont, South Carolina to collect his hidden loot and to probably punish Maggie. To protect her and her now thirteen year old daughter, the FBI sends tired agent Zack Madden, who appreciate the opportunity to go after Carl Lee. The assignment should be easy as Zack appreciates the eccentricity of the townsfolk, but two things hamper him. First he is extremely attracted to the pediatrician he is to protect and second an Elvis impersonation convention has swamped the town with strangers. The latest Beaumont mystery is as always "Full" of zany characters that cause havoc on the lead protagonists. Some consciously do so for instance the reporter seeking the FULL SCOOP on Maggie's past; others are in the cards just ask psychic Destiny; and finally those who unintended bring Maggie and Zack together like her killer teenage boyfriend and the Elvis crowd. Readers who enjoy a lighthearted regional romantic police procedural will want to read this tale and its full line of predecessors.

Fever in the Blood
Robert Fleming
Dafina (Kensington)
ISBN: 0758212399, $5.99, 329 pp.

His home life as a child was horrible because he was raised by dealing junkies who proved dangerous as they cared more about sex and the next high then their children. He knew his mother hated him and abused him even more than his masochistic father did. He always wondered why his dad accepted his mom stepping out with other men. All that changed when some rival sellers in the hood killed his parents and two sisters. He survived because he was cleverly hidden, but he observed everything. They thought he was the lucky one because he not only lived, but a Congressman adopted him. However his luck proved false as the man did it to bolster his reelection chances not because he wanted a son. When he was old enough he returned to the hood where he hears voices and kills women he never met or saw before he murders them. At twenty a delusional Eddie is reaching double digits in his need to kill unworthy women that only he believes are whores. Told totally in the first person by Eddie, readers follow a troubled young adult who has no one to help him except those voices inside his head. He believes that no one cares what happens to him and thus remains a loner, friendless and lost. Even his adopted parent cares more about one vote than Eddie; besides which his role model is that of a corrupt politician and a mother who was a married cheat. Robert Fleming's dark character driven tale of a youth betrayed by those who should have nurtured him condemns a society who makes a fuss before one is born, but is notably absent afterward.

Lisa Jackson
ISBN: 075821393X, $19.95

Chutzpah comes to Abby Chastain's mind when she learns that her former husband ridiculed her on his radio show as a frozen spouse. Still feeling rage and humiliation she is further stunned when her husband is killed in a double homicide. New Orleans Homicide Detective Reuben Montoya questions her as the wife would be the prime suspect in normal circumstances, but this time she has an extra motive. He quickly concludes she did not commit the murders, but fears she is connected in some way that could make it unsafe for her. Montoya also fears that his desire for Abby might be prejudicing his view. Meanwhile another double murder occurs, which Reuben tries to tie to the deaths of Abby's spouse and his girlfriend. Montoya begins to believe that Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, an asylum closed for years, is the connection; a place where Abby's mother either was murdered or committed suicide. However, the motive and whom remains unknown to the sleuth. Fans have waited a long time for Detective Montoya's tale to be told; the wait was worth it as SHIVER is a fabulous romantic police procedural. The story line is action-packed from the moment Montoya begins the homicide investigation and never slows down until the final climax. The cold-blooded serial killer is cleverly shadowy enough to frighten readers as Lisa Jackson provides a powerful spine-chilling thriller.

Corpse Suzette
G.A. McKevett
ISBN: 0758204620, $22.00, 288 pp.

San Carmelita private detective Savannah Reid is allowing her assistant's cousin Abigail to stay at her apartment while they both get a complete makeover at Emerge, a high class spa. Abigail is not easy to get along with because she hates her Junoesque body while Savannah who is also overweight is comfortable with hers. Abigail's' makeover is halted when one of the owners Suzette DuBois disappears baffling the police who are not sure a crime occurred and if one did was it a homicide. Emerge's other owner, Suzette's former husband Sergio D'Allesandro, hires Savannah to find his ex wife because he insists she took one and a half million dollars form his bank account. After doing some investigating with her friend Police Detective Dirk, they find Sergio's body at Emerge. Toxicology affirms what Savannah suspected that he was murdered. She and the police seek the missing Suzette, who each feels is either the killer or the next victim. G.A. McKevett writes a sparkling witty and exciting whodunit that is low on gore but big on clues so fans of cozies and armchair sleuths will fully appreciate. The heroine seems like a real person with her acceptance of who she is physically as a big athletic woman and her need for justice. Once again Savannah stars in a totally exciting mystery.

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen
Sally Smith O'Rourke
ISBN: 075821037X, $14.00

In New York antiques furniture collector Eliza Knight purchases a two century old vanity. However, as she looks over and gently cleans her treasure, she finds an incredible cache, if authenticated, behind the mirror. She has found two letters between Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Jane Austen. The correspondence from Fitz to Jane is open and dated 1810, but the return note remains sealed. A Jane Austen expert not only verifies the find as authentic, she learns that a Darcy living in Virginia possesses a similar letter written by Jane to Fitz. Eliza travels to the Shenandoah Valley to meet Fitz and show what she has and see what he possesses. He invites her to attend his family's annual Rose Ball honoring a nineteenth century ancestor, Rose Darcy. Though she enjoys the gala especially the costumes, she finally asks her host whether one of his ancestors was in deed Jane's lover and the model for her renowned lead male in Pride and Prejudice. This novel combines the awe of whether Jane Austen's Fitz was real with a delightful modern day romantic mystery containing a fascinating twist that if revealed here would give away too much of the plot. The story line is character driven by Eliza, Fitz and Jane. Eliza seeks the truth which she believes Fitz has while Jane serves as the focus of her inquiry. Fans will appreciate this contemporary tale that looks closely at the life of Jane Austen while determining based on historical facts whether her Fitz truly lived.

Hot Chocolate on a Cold Day
Roz Denny Fox
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373837003, $5.99

Trying to start over following the death of his wife during a stakeout, widower Sterling Dodge accompanied by his four year old son Tyler, his fourteen-year-old brother-in-law Joel Atwater and Joel's older sister Lauren relocate from New York for St. Ignace, Michigan. His upstairs neighbor, Coast Guard Lieutenant Megan Benton welcomes the foursome to the neighborhood. However, Sterling stays aloof and grumpy; the teens are angry and glowering making it clear they do not want to be at the end of the earth; Tyler is the exception friendly and welcoming. Unable to resist, Meg reacts to Sterling's cantankerousness with impishness to drive him further up the wall. He finds to his chagrin a desire for her to sass him even more and pushes her buttons to do so. That is in spite of his reluctance to become involved with a woman whose occupation means danger just like that of his late wife Blythe. Still Meg offers HOT CHOCOLATE ON A COLD DAY to the newcomers especially Sterling even though he like the teens want to reject her. This sweet contemporary romance lives up to its title as the lead couple are a nice pairing of two likable individuals. The story line also contains subplots involving Meg's family especially her brother who fled the academic roost. The support cast provides conflict or matchmaking, but clearly this Upper Peninsular tale is owned by the sassy heroine and her reluctant fire dragon.

Her Perfect Life
Vicki Hinze
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836929, $5.99

For six years Air Force pilot Katie Cole Slater has been a prisoner of war held by a warlord in Iraq, but now is free to go home. She survived her ordeal due to her now frayed photos of her husband Sam and their two children Molly and Jake. First the army psychiatrists want to know more about what went wrong. Katie is uncooperative as she is irate that they keep her from her family and that they assume team when she was abandoned and her team was that of one. Her motto now is do not depend on anyone except yourself. However, even home is not what it was when she went on active duty as her spouse Sam has remarried as she was assumed dead. Heartbroken her only connection is her copilot C.D. Quade who she thought died when their plane crashed. Still she is irate with C.D. because he failed her in the desert by leaving her behind. C.D. feels guilty for what happened to Katie, the only woman he loves. He plans to help her readjust though her world has seemingly collapsed in the time she spent as a captive. HER PERFECT LIFE is a tense character study that grips readers from the moment that a justified belligerent Katie comes home and has to deal with the brass, a remarried former husband, and the belief that her pal deserted her. The story line is totally Katie as she adjusts to life in a strange America after six plus years of captivity. The romance between her and C.J. augment a strong look at a former POW trying to regain her equilibrium.

From Here to Maternity
Tara Taylor Quinn, Karen Rose Smith & Inglath Cooper
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836988, $5.99

"A Second Chance" by Tara Taylor Quinn. They were high school sweethearts who went their separate ways though she was pregnant. Now the adult daughter Kylie that Melanie gave up for adoption over three decades ago has contacted her and wants to meet her biological father Denny even as Melanie ponders being pregnant again at forty-eight. "Prompted to Mom" by Karen Rose Smith. Pregnant April is heading to California as she has a major employment opportunity in the Golden State. The father of her child Braden owns a restaurant in Oklahoma, which he prefers not to leave. There appears no room for compromise between this loving couple. "On Angel's Wings" by Inglath Cooper. They had the perfect family as Rachel and Clay loved one another and their daughter. However, when their child died, their relationship collapsed too. That is until a Russian angel enters their lives needing both of them and giving them a second chance if they dare to take it. Though seemingly more like a Next tale, these mature couples struggle with difficult relationship issues made even more complex by children. Fans of family dramas will enjoy this collection.

Silver Bough
Lisa Tuttle
ISBN: 0553382977, $22.00, 325 pp.

On the coast of Scotland in the Highlands is the town of Appleton, a place that is connected to the mainland by one small road. When an earthquake hits, the townsfolk are cut off from the rest of civilization. Supplies will be brought in by a ferry and mail and medical supplies will be flown in. Three American women are in Appleton. The town librarian Kathleen, the widow Nell who has bought Orchid House and one of her trees is a special golden apple that has not been seen for over fifty years. Visiting the town is Ashley whose grandmother was born there and left without telling anyone she was going. She refused to tell her family about that part of her life which makes Ashley all the more eager to get in touch with her roots. Another stranger in the town is Rhoan, a man in his twenties who looks exactly like the person in a photo that is over half century old. Much of the magic that lay hidden comes out in the cut off Appleton. It seems as if the place is moving into the Otherworld where the Apple Fairest that appeared in one of Nell's trees changes the reality of our world and gives those deserving them their heart's desire. SILVER BOUGH is all about subtle magic that is part of Appleton, a place that many believe originated in another dimension. Readers gradually became aware of the power that is in the very land itself and that of Rhoan, who is part of that magic and wants to return to his father's home. The characters are three dimensional and have a role in the upcoming events as Lisa Tuttle has written a spell binding Scottish Brigadoon like fantasy.

Bridge of Dreams
Chaz Brenchley
ISBN: 0441013244, $24.95, 416 pp.

The city of Sund thought its walls made it impregnable and the use of water magic made it a very special place to live. In a day, what took thousands of years to create was broken by the Marasi who created a magical bridge that scaled the walls and let the army in. Now Sund is a place of occupation where magic is outlawed and the bridge is constantly replenished by the dreams of children who eventually die. In Sund, Issel, liar, thief, con-man and water seller has the raw water magic in his blood though he doesn't know how to use it. He is taken in by a teacher who runs a school where the children learn how to use the magic so their heritage will not die. There are rebels who want to find a way to throw out the Marasi from the city and Issel lights a spark of rebellion in the population with an action he takes. The occupiers torture and kill many of the Sund and put their bodies on display. Issel uses his magic to form a new kind of weapon and with the Marasi government in turmoil; the Sund just might have a chance of getting the occupiers out if his life and keeping them out. This stand alone book by the author of the Outremer novels is an exciting fantasy thriller about an occupied city and how the people who live there cope with being under the harsh thumbs of their rulers. The protagonist is an unlikely hero more of a criminal than a savior yet against his will he is taught the gentler emotions and becomes a person readers will care for and admire. Chaz Brenchley is a brilliant world builder who is a master storyteller.

Daughter of the Desert
Noel-Anne Brennan
ISBN: 0441013945, $7.99, 323 pp.

When the Virsat conquer the land of Tireera, they enslaved the Tidars who were there before them. Most are slaves and considered less than human but some are free though treated like third class citizens. Forentel, the daughter of the High General and the High Judge, is shocked when she sees her twin near the royal palace. She learns that she is the daughter of A Tirdar woman, who had sex with her father and unable to comply with her father's wishes to marry a lecherous, wealthy old man she runs away. Also on the run is Prince Erba whose brother killed their father the king and assumed the throne. Now Erba is in hiding because his sibling wants him dead so he won't threaten his power base or try to gain the throne. Both Forentel and Erba are making their way to Dreffir, the city where it is said the Tidor came from. Erba wants to see what everyone thinks is a magical place and Forentel wants the people to teach her to use her magic that is growing stronger and to learn about her heritage. In pursuit of their goal the two runaways must face several dangers including cannibals, man eating plants, slavers, and a soldier determined to bring Erba back to his brother. DAUGHTER OF THE DESSERT excels at strong characterizations and in most cases the women are independent thinkers capable of ruling or doing whatever they set their minds to accomplish. The power structure in Tireera is uneven and the slave population and the residents of Dreffir look upon Forentel as the Delass (the bridge) and once she figures out what that means she will do all in her power to see that that life in Tireera is changed. Readers will eagerly await the next book in this stunning new series.

Path of Blood
Diana Pharaoh Francis
ISBN: 0451460820, $7.99, 464 pp.

The realm of Kodu Riik is on the verge of being torn apart both by civil war and a wizard's spell that didn't work the way it was intended. Plague and Nokulas, magical creatures that were once human, roam the land as a result of the spell and the city of Mysane Kosk, surrounded by magic is the home of the rebels including the sister of the power hungry madmen who raised himself up to be Regent who locked away his father when he became a Nokula. Reisil, a mage who is banded to her goshawk Saljane, has proved to the rebels in the city that she has the best interests of her world at heart and she learned to use her considerable magical powers. She is the only hope of avking two worlds. The spell the wizards used is destroying Cemanahautl, a land in another dimension that touches Kodu Riik. To heal both worlds, take care of the Nokulas and deal with evil and dangerous wizards, Reisil must travel to Cemanahautl in the hopes of learning a new kind of magic from female mages who reside there; if she doesn't, two worlds will be destroyed but she needs time to learn and her rebels have come up with a plan to give her that time. There is a romantic sub-plot between Reisil and a man who crossed the dimensional barrier to seek help to stop the magic from leaking out of his world into hers. Theirs is a doomed love for in a year he will be sacrificed to his god after he performs the last deed he was bred for. The love is in direct counterpoint to hatred the various groups that want to destroy the rebels in Mysane Kosk. Excellent characterizations, intriguing political maneuvering and some fascinating battle scenes, both mundane and magical make this sword and sorcery tale a must read for fans of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni Chronicles.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Truth About Being an Extra: How to Become a Good Background Actor
Jo Kelly
August 11 Productions
19315 Champion Lane, Huntington Beach CA 92648
ISBN: 0977187802 $18.95 US, $22.95 CAN, 111 pp.

Jo Kelly has hard-earned experience to share with those wishing to become extras. She's worked as a background actor in films, TV, commercials, and music videos. During her marriage to the late Jack Kelly, star of the TV series "Maverick", Jo had an insider's view of how Hollywood works. Her book is packed with priceless information, presented with compassion in an easy-to-read format.

Most of us have dreamed at one time or another in our lives of working in Hollywood. Readers with that goal in mind today would do well to keep Jo Kelly's book close at hand. She's provided you with the absolute essential information to expedite your dream and protect you from scammers. Listed in this book are the names and addresses of legitimate casting and call companies, how to identify and avoid scams, do's and don'ts, wardrobe and makeup tips, non union vs. signing with the Screen Actors Guild, and much more.

Jo Kelly writes from the heart. She obviously cares about the hopes and dreams of others, and provides necessary information from good and bad experiences she's had. This is the quintessential handbook for any person hoping for a shot in show biz. The Truth About Being an Extra is highly recommended.

Thoughts I Left Behind: Collected Poems
William H. Roetzheim
Level 4 Press
13518 Jamul Dr., Jamul CA 91935-1635
ISBN: 0976800101, $14.95 US, $22.43 CAN, 185 pp.

William H. Roetzheim transformed himself from a successful entrepreneur in business to a multi-award winning poet. After reading and rereading his collected poems, I imagine he accomplished the transition with ease. His poetic techniques include iambic pentameter, villanelle, and free form, addressing subjects that are alternately humorous, whimsical, pensive, thought provoking, or downright beautiful. His goal is to warmly welcome readers into his life, as stated in his first poem, "Welcome":

I'm sure you must be tired. The journey here
is long, the roads are dark and poorly marked.
They're little more than ruts in places where
most travelers fear to brave the woods. But here
I'll take your bags and pour a glass of wine.
Let's pull our chairs up to the fire. I've waited
all my life to share some thoughts with you.

"Beware of Friends" is a carefully constructed villanelle. I hope the poet will forgive my choice of two separate verses in excerpt:

Beware of friends with cautious love advice.
I sing a song of warning from the heart.
They kill your love with words, as trust departs.

With honey words, soft eyes, they sink a dart
with poison for the human sacrifice.
Beware of friends with cautious love advice.

"Stretch Marks" is a poignant contemplation of the years spent with his wife and what they mean to him. I've chosen one excerpt from this powerful poem:

The lines entwine, and seem to spell our love,
our family, our thirty years together.

"Opera Season" is one of those incredible poems that stayed in my mind and drew me back to subsequent rereadings. I quote one excerpt:

I couldn't attend the opera this season.
The thought of your seat empty next to mine
was too much to bear.
I put our tickets in a kitchen drawer,
then mentally buried that drawer with you.

Roetzheim's use of metaphor is equally adept. In "Guest House" he extols the history of an old Victorian farmhouse:

…she wears her stained glass windows like those jewels
that sparkle on arthritic joints, those cruel
reminders of past youth.

And again, in "Grandpa Roetzheim", a tool chest becomes the metaphorical equivalent of one man's hopes and dreams:

His drills and other tools were stored inside,
the handmade chest locked tight,
and pushed toward those future
generations. Like a joist
it crossed two worlds,
supporting hopes unvoiced
but locked within the frame
of leather bound dreams.

With humor and imagination, Roetzheim replies to poetic icons of the past in the sections "Responses to the Dead." Dickinson, Shakespeare, Whitman, Housman, Stevenson and many others are included in his replies to the famous work of dead poets. These sections were priceless, as were the sections in "The Book of Sevens": Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Sacraments, and Seven Heavenly Virtues.

This impressive collection is a tour de force, a must have-must read for those who love poetry that is a pleasure to read and savor. Thoughts I Left Behind is an exceptional collection and highly recommended.

Shade Grown: A Pocatello Blend Chapbook
Florence K. Blanchard and Kristin Fletcher
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83225-4966
no ISBN, chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Harald Wyndham, editor of Blue Scarab Press, intended for the Pocatello Blend chapbook series to end in 2005. But due to a wealth of excellent writers and poets in the southeast Idaho area, Wyndham has extended the series. Shade Grown is the 21st in this series. Each chapbook features five pages of work by two writers or poets and is limited to 100 copies.

Florence K. Blanchard is a grant writer and historical researcher whose work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. "Even When You're Dying" is a touching poetic paean to a friend with cancer. Blanchard's poetry is telling and powerful, leaving readers with a sense of knowing well both poet and friend. I quote here the first verse:

My friend is dying of cancer.
I bring poetry and elderberry pie,
hold her hand,
read "Sailing to Byzantium,"
as she mutters
in her sleep,
lying in her brass bed
surrounded by Puccini's Tosca
and the works of Marcel Proust,
a vase of white lilies,
her amber beads,
a square of sunlight on
the red, oriental rugs.

In "SCAT: Juniper Kapuka, May 30, 2005," men want to name volcanic activity and describe how it happened, but in this excerpt Ms. Blanchard's focus is visceral:

But I just want to
taste the bitterbush,
gulp blue sky and
scarlet paintbrush,
filter the Aeolian dust through my lungs,
suck the lava into my bones,

and then someday to excrete it as a poem,
fragrant and rough as coyote dung
left on a black rock….

Kristin Fletcher is Program Manager at the Idaho Museum of Natural History and hosts the Idaho Writers Journal on community access TV. Her poem, "Spring Breakup on the Wind River," is a joy to read because she skillfully shares her world in words. I quote the first verse in excerpt:

Was it the way the ice shelf cantilevered over the rocks
just so?
Or the seeping heat of the day bright sun?
Perhaps it was the great mountain breath tumbling
down from the Divide
Or the wild ululations of geese gathered there at dusk
one evening.

Or was it simply the accumulated weight of it all,
The detritus of old wounds and stories sedimented
and compressed?

"Sundown" also takes us with the poet to a perfect dusk in Idaho, which she memorializes in this eloquent excerpt:

As the sun set –
Reds coincident with orange
Stretching into peach, cornsilk,
At last, to a peculiar colorless white,
Then, deepening eastward
Through every imaginable blue and violet,
Shading finally
To the emptied black of night,
And an early scatter of stars.

As with each Pocatello Blend chapbook, Blanchard and Fletcher are a superior mix. If you enjoy exceptional prose and poetry and enjoy discovering new voices, I suggest you contact Blue Scarab Press.

Chopin's Piano
Charles Ades Fishman
Time Being Books
10411 Clayton Road, Suites 201-203, St. Louis MO 63131
ISBN: 1568091044, $15.95, 120 pp.

No modern poet shares his essence with greater generosity than Charles Fishman. His spirit burns with rage and grieves with inexpressible sorrow; his book is glorious and beautiful, haunting and horrifying. His title poem lays a skillful groundwork for what follows, as Russian soldiers destroy a source of truth and beauty in "Chopin's Piano:" But such maestros tire soon:

they would write mazurkas etudes
with bayonets and guns

We were not there to hear it
but we've heard the tune.

This poet's use of imagery is masterful. In "Toledo," he describes the plight of Jews in medieval Spain with sensitivity and passion, yet provides readers with brief moments of beauty:

The sky, gray-blue above the shattered windows, is stitched
in black threads by swallows whose white-splashed wings flash
in the sun fire

In "Eastern Europe After the War," Fishman focuses on "wisps of memory ragged dips in the grass" that represent the deaths of millions. I chose brief excerpts from this powerful poem:

Their deaths did not alter the sky, which continues
to shelter their murderers….

In Eastern Europe,

not a stitch was mended The gash
in the abandoned universe could not be healed

"The Silence" is a shattering sonance of the death transports, camps, and burial sites where Jews hoped and prayed for a rescue that did not come. This poem is best read in its entirety, but I chose one excerpt in example:

Ponari, Lithuania: thick fragrant evergreen forests
-- here the Vilna Jews were murdered, here
there was a time when the trees were full of screams

Maestros of death have existed since time began. The Holocaust was only one example. Fishman also revisits Hiroshima through the eyes of witnesses who survived to share that horror. This excerpt from "Witness #5: Kosuke Shishido" is one example:

…..Fifty years later,
he can hear the impossible sound he can feel
the vibration that ran through the core of the planet
then radiated inward toward his bones he can feel
the force of the wind the god of atoms blew
against Hiroshima…..

"War Babies" needs no commentary. The stark words speak for themselves:

We were the bruised windfalls of your harvest.
The dead you assimilated changed you,
the way a tumor growing inside your head
will change you. Death was our element,
the first pungent breath.

Out of the combined tragedies of the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Israeli Wars, and Vietnam, Fishman leaves us with hope in "A Child of the Millennium." His grandson Jake brings with him a new perspective on the world:

He doesn't know about race or gender
or that we are murdering the planet that the earth
is smoldering with underground fires and with the bone –
fires of hatred. He doesn't know about ethnicity
or religion and will not take with him into the new century
memories of calcined corpses or an interior landscape
peopled with napalmed children

Every place humans starve, burn, or wither, Fishman's heart is there. From the dark days of Hitler to the present, he mourns the losses and counts humanity's cost. His words are a ram's horn, a Shofar, a heart bringing truth out of darkness. If you value poetry as a priceless gift to humanity, Chopin's Piano is a must have, must read.

7 Seconds Till Eternity
Frederick A. Babb
Saga Books
164 Erin Woods Drive S.E., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2B 2S1
ISBN: 1894936485, $15.95, 123 pp.

With this book, Mr. Babb takes his writing in a new direction, from romance novels to the topic of death. Babb's approach is intriguing, written from the perspective of Death's representative. His protagonist is Zach, who collects souls daily on assignment from the Mighty Powers. Zach is one of countless Soul Collectors, known by some as The Grim Reaper, although he does not like that label. The rules he follows are simple: collect souls regardless of his personal sympathies for the dead; avoid lengthy discussions with the spirit; and leave all judgments to the Mighty Powers.

Zach wants humanity to understand the process so takes us with him while collecting six souls during one day's assignment. He explains that the journey from life to death takes seven seconds -- that tunnel people describe when experiencing near death situations -- and that near death situations are mistakes made by inexperienced Collectors, not meant to happen. The six souls Zach collects are of varying ages, male and female.

Theodore McCabe is an elderly man, a widower whose retirement weighs on him like an iron anchor. McCabe would rather die than be alone, in useless retirement, and ultimately gets his wish.

Allen Dalton is a teenager who rarely has his workaholic father's attention. He finally gains his errant father's full attention during a storm on a High School soccer field.

Carmen Martinez is young and idealistic, but knows too well life's cruel indifferences. She's finally recovered from public humiliation and bravely forged a new path...just in time for Zach to introduce himself.

Raul is a bitter man who takes the easy way in all things. He'd rather steal for a living than work and shirks his paternal responsibilities, until Zach leads him to a new reality.

Mariah Newton has always focused on her goals and failed to savor the present. A last minute shopping trip changes everything, and not even a successful businesswoman can negotiate her fate with Zach.

Daniel Maxwell decides to commit suicide when his bride does not show up for the wedding. He hopes the impact of his death will destroy her life. Zach shows him the error of this plan, but it's too late for amends.

Zach's message is that we can't go back and right life's wrongs once our souls have been collected. Both the living and the dead reap the bitter harvest of our actions and inactions. 7 Seconds Till Eternity has a premise quite unlike anything I've read before. If you enjoy books that aren't clones of everything else on the shelves, give this one a try.

GOD, This is a Good Time to Say NO
Freda Gower Ward
4993 Bacopa Lane S. #404, St. Petersburg FL 33715
ISBN: 0972364099, $14.95, 203 pp.

Everything Freda Gower Ward writes is priceless, funny, and entertaining. This time she takes on the real estate game with hilarious results. In 2005, our heroine resolved to spend more time with hubby, but she did not expect to accomplish this as a realtor. She prayed for God to say "NO!" to this new adventure. It's tough going back to school in your Golden Years and realizing you're not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Here she was -- 73 years old, married 50 years, and embarking on yet another new adventure. She didn't have the time or energy to sell real estate so this would have been a very good time for God to say "NO!" But God was silent, and now Freda's fictional heroine Jane is a realtor.

True to form, Ms. Ward generously shares her new found knowledge with readers. Just in case any of us decide to become realtors, we'll already know the ropes. Among the gems shared in this book you'll find information about:

-- The Liars Club, that elite group of browsers who have no intention whatsoever of actually BUYING anything but spin big tales to convince the realtor otherwise;
-- The joys of multitasking, even though your mind is barely able to remember where you put your car keys, purse, or panty hose;
-- The trials of wireless laptops that are not truly wireless;
-- The exponential paradigms of fine print. (always ALWAYS read the fine print, which is fine and tiny for a reason.)

One thing I learned from this book is that most real estate in most locations is too expensive for low to middle income worker bees. Each established realtor needing a smile will find something familiar here. Every person in the country contemplating real estate as their vocation should read this book. Learn about the pitfalls before you take the classes or commit yourself. After you stop laughing at our heroine's experiences, then start praying that God says "NO!"

The Passion of Mary Magdalen: The Maeve Chronicles
Elizabeth Cunningham
Monkfish Book Publishing Company
27 Lamoree Rd., Rhinebeck NY 12572
ISBN: 0976684306, $29.95, 620 pp.

Elizabeth Cunningham has created an amazing historic chronicle with this book. Both real and fictional characters are fully, wondrously human. Locations are alive with the sights, scents, sounds of that time millennia ago when Jesus walked this earth. The author transported me to those places and times through powerful prose. In truth, at book's end I did not want to return to modern realities.

Maeve Rhuad is a flame haired princess / priestess of the Celtic Isles when she meets Yeshua, called Esus by the Celts. He's traveled to her land to learn Druidic mysteries, but finds a soulmate, a woman he will passionately love for all time. With youthful joy, they call themselves, "eternal twins in the great starry womb" of the universe.

Life's unpredictable difficulties separate the two devoted lovers. Yeshua returns to the Holy Land to continue his quest, serving the One God, and Maeve is dragged to Rome in chains by conquerors who sell her into slavery and prostitution. The Vine and Fig Tree – an omen of her future life with Yeshua -- is a high-class establishment. All clients are welcomed equally because every stranger could be a god or an angel. Maeve is an immediate hit with her flame-red hair and lush femaleness. Early on, her fellow prostitutes teach Maeve things the Celtic priestess blessed with second sight didn't learn in Druid school. Life is actually pleasant for a time, but Maeve has two large problems. She's determined to find her beloved Yeshua, and can't keep her sassy mouth shut. Maeve, now called Red by friends and customers, can cuss, bluster, and converse in five languages. Her bold nature ends Red's time in the classiest cathouse in Rome and she's sold into slavery, purchased by Paulina, the spoiled young wife of a Roman Senator. Throughout this dark period, her only true friends are a Proletarian, Joseph of Arimathea, and Reginus, a bisexual servant to the house of Claudius.

But Maeve is blessed. She's freed from slavery and heads for Jerusalem – city of the One God -- to search for Yeshua, Esus, her lover, now known as Jesus of Nazareth. Yeshua's mother names her Mary of Magdala, a name dictated by the angels. From Jerusalem, Maeve / Red / Mary travels to the green hills of Galilee, to Nazareth, and to the port city of Magdala. It's in Magdala that our heroine regains her full power as a priestess. With the help of friends and followers, she founds the Temple Magdalen. Here, we're drawn deep into the private lives of biblical icons: Joseph of Arimathea; Mary, mother of Jesus; Lazarus, Mary, and Martha; the Twelve followers of Jesus; John of the burning eyes, the Baptist; and Yeshua, Savior of the Jews, beloved man with the wonderful laugh. Maeve's memories of these people are not reverent or respectful – all have human foibles – but her narrative is often surprising, touching, and tender.

As their relationship resumes, Maeve does not see Jesus as a mediator between a wrathful God and human sinners, but as a mighty tree mediating Earth and Sky, a universal savior. Meanwhile, Jesus struggles in his efforts to draw a fine line between being human and divine. The only thing he doesn't question is his love for Maeve, his wife, judged unclean by Jewish law. Fellow Jews, Apostles, family, devoted followers, enemies and friends resent his devotion to a prostitute. Both Yeshua and Maeve know and believe that love is stronger than death, and in their case it is.

Bible believing Christians will not like Cunningham's story of beleaguered lovers. Fictionally, but based on historic writings, she fills in the lost years of Yeshua's life not chronicled in the Bible. This is a story well and lovingly told, of a man whose fate was to die for all humanity and of the gentile woman who loved him through life and beyond. Lover, husband, healer, miracle worker, teller of parables, and King of Kings, Jesus was first a man. This is a fascinating book, historically and in every other way. I couldn't bear to put it aside until the last page.

True Blue Forever
Joyce Scarbrough
Authors Ink Books
PO Box 396, Sturgis, MI 49091
ISBN: 097223859X, $13.00, 452 pp.

From the fifth grade on, three young boys have the same thought about their classmate Jeana Russell. "Some day she'll be my girl." Ms. Scarbrough's first book chronicles the lives of these youngsters through adulthood. It is a well written tale, touching and realistic, as the author shows her readers that young love can be honest and enduring.

Jeana Russell has her mind on school and her sole focus is on education until the sophomore year at Vigor High. Then Mickey Royal returns to her small Alabama town. Michey has been transformed from scrawny 11-year old kid to 16 year old hunk with bright blue eyes, dazzling dimples, and an athletic build. Mickey's handsome face and gentle humor hide sorrows he is hesitant to share. But one thing is certain. He's not eleven anymore and is determined that Jeana Russell WILL be his girl and his alone. Her other two admirers from adolescence struggle in their indivdual ways with Mickey and Jeana's immediate attraction.

Wade Strickland is a jock, a predatory seducer of young girls and a bully with his classmates. He despises Mickey's quiet strength and mature devotion to Jeana. Billy Joe DuBose is the class comedian, and Jeana's best male friend.

Billy Joe sees straight off that Mickey is good for Jeana and thinks enough of her to back away. Before book's end, these four main characters share secrets and tragedies as they progress into adulthood.

This is not a lightweight story. Yes, there are passages rich with humor and adolescent joshing, but equally as many situations depicting honestly what young adults must face in school and beyond. Jeana and Mickey are admirable characters, fully developed, willing to sacrifice in every way to better each other. Billy Joe is a delight, funny and wonderfully portrayed. Wade has a softer, less despicable side that is poignantly revealed as their story progresses.

This book should be required reading in High School. And instead of all the silly movies made portraying teenagers as mindless idiots and sex machines, someone should make a movie of True Blue Forever. It has everything, including honor and respect.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Margaret's Bookshelf

Language And Mind
Noam Chomsky
Cambridge University Press
40 West 20th Street, 7th floor, New York, NY 10011-4211
052167493X $24.99 1-800-872-7423

Now in an updated third edition, Language and Mind presents Linguistics Professor Noam Chomsky's groundbreaking classic essays on linguistic theory. First published in the 1960s, Language and Mind includes the essays "Form and meaning in natural languages"; "The formal nature of language"; "Linguistics and philosophy"; and "Biolinguistics and the human capacity". An index rounds out this scholarly, heavily researched and annotated dissertation of the nuances of long-standing linguistic theoretical questions, problems, discoveries and issues, recommended for college libraries and language studies shelves.

Collected Poems 1943-2004
Richard Wilbur
Harcourt Books
15 East 26th Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10010
0156030799 $18.00 1-800-543-1918

Collected Poems 1943-2004 is an anthology of poetry by Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Richard Wilbur, who has previously served as poet laureate of the United States. The compendium features works in a variety of formats, meters, and rhyme schemes, with themes ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary. A superb cross-sampling of the best of Wilbur's work, Collected Poems 1943-2004 is a treasury recommended for both libraries and private poetry shelves, and is certain not to disappoint true poetry lovers. "On Having Mis-Identified a Wild Flower": A thrush, because I'd been wrong, / Burst rightly into song / In a world not vague, not lonely, / Not governed by me only.

Dear Ghosts
Tess Gallagher
Graywolf Press
2402 University Avenue, Suite 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114
1555974430 $20.00 1-651-641-0077

Published fourteen years after the author's previous poetry book, Dear Ghosts is the seventh collection and long-awaited return of Tess Gallagher's poetic voice. Featuring poems in which ghosts of the past are summoned and discoursed with in the present day, Dear Ghosts speaks with such spectral figures as the deceased beloved, the long-dead father, and victims of holocaust and war. Gallagher confronts her own aging, illness, and mortality with grace, modesty, and good humor in this insightful and reflective collection. "Knives in the Borrowed House": Don't sharpen them. / Expectation, more dangerous / than any blade.

Connecting Lines New Poetry from Mexico
Luis Cortes Bargallo, editor
Forrest Gander, translation editor
Sarabande Books
2234 Dundee Road, Suite 200, Louisville, KY 40205
1932511199 $16.95 1-800-283-3572

Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico is an anthology of contemporary poetry by a variety of Mexican authors. Each poem is presented in its original Spanish and in English translation, and cover a broad variety of themes in this compilation ideal for classroom study or private reading. Authors represented include Elsa Cross, Francisco Hernandez, Jose Luis Rivas, Alberto Blanco, and many more. Approximately four to six of each author's brief poems are showcased in this eclectic anthology that reflects the energetic spirit of Mexican poetry. "Dispersion": I rip off this Persian robe / and lots petals fly / around the room. // Nevertheless, the fallen colors, / my naked body, / shivering, / reminds me of dispersion. // The stars / pierce with anise the dark sky. / I see myself melt away in God's abyss / and not in your arms.

Contemporary Spanish Poetry
Cecile West-Settle and Sylvia Sherno, editors
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
c/o Associated University Presses
440 Forsgate Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512
0838640400 $47.50 1-609-655-4770

Contemporary Spanish Poetry: The Word and the World is not a poetry compilation per se, but rather an extensive English-language literary survey and criticism of contemporary Spanish poetry. Composed of eleven essays by various learned authors, Contemporary Spanish Poetry explores such authors and topics as Jose Moreno Villa: Exile and Community; Gloria Fuertes's Last Words; Giving the Vampire Voice: Monstrous Metaphors in Recent Spanish Poetry by Women; The Queer Poetics of Ana Maria Moix; and much more. A thoughtful and multifaceted analysis, and sample poems used as examples of specific points are quoted both in their original Spanish and in English translation.

HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299 1-800-242-7737

HarperCollins has re-released two classic compilations of illustrated young adult poetry, both by widely beloved children's book author Shel Silverstein, to celebrate their respective anniversaries. A Light in the Attic (0060256737, $17.99) is now in its 25th anniversary edition and its poems with wordplay, wit, humor, silly black-and-white drawings, and pure irreverent fun. Falling Up (0060248025, $17.99) offers more of the same unforgettably funny verse that is sure to appeal to young and old alike. Both are excellent for reading aloud at bedtime, for young children who have mastered easy reader books but aren't quite ready for chapter books, or for just plain wacky fun. "The Lost Cat": We can't find the cat / We don't know where she's at / Oh, where did she go? / Does anyone know? / Let's ask this walking hat.

Because Why
Sarah Fox
Coffee House Press
27 North Fourth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
1566891868 $15.00 1-800-283-3572

Because Why is the debut poetry collection of poetry and creative writing teacher Sarah Fox. Unafraid to experiment with free verse in a wide variety of formats and tempos, Because Why is an eclectic collection of harsh thoughts, lofty ideals, fond memories, snapshots of dark reality, and much more. Language use spans the gamut from vulgar curses to ordinary conversation to intricate and complex ruminations. "The Whole Desert Island Scenario": I'd bring the short, or the long / Japanese kimono and that Max / Ernst book if it pleases you. // I imagine fine tropical spreads, / Nights making flutes under the stars, / nights fiddling with the flutes we've made. // Naturally there'd be hardship, / but we'd split the difference / by mastering unusual vocations // (sand art, French braiding, contortionism). / Perhaps you'd tell me at long last / how you came to be so famous.

Margaret Lane

Michael's Bookshelf

You Can Believe!
Grant Schnarr
Swedenborg Foundation Publishers
320 North Church Street, West Chester, PA 19380
0877853185 $12.95

You Can Believe!: An Introduction To The New Christianity by Grant Schnarr is an informative introduction to the ever progressing world of modern Christianity. Following the fundamentals of the Bible-based teachings of the eighteenth century theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg, You Can Believe! examines the reasoning for personal detachment in modern society based upon a Christian wisdom and its preventative ideals, a detachment which is creating a more open-ended perspective of the Christian belief system. Very highly recommended for its thoughtful and thought-provoking presentation of a positive subversion, You Can Believe! is a superb analysis and profound study of the Christian religion.

Theology For Liberal Presbyterians
Douglas F. Ottati
Geneva Press
c/o Presbyterian Publishing Corporation
341 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228
066450289X $17.95

Theology For Liberal Presbyterians And Other Endangered Species by Douglas F. Ottati (an Elder in the Presbyterian Church USA and the M. E. Pemberton Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia) is an knowledgeable, informative, and occasionally inspiring approach to the struggle encountered with living as a liberal in practice of Presbyterian and other Protestant churches. Accessibly presenting the foundation concepts of liberal theological thought, Theology For Liberal Presbyterians expertly explores and comprehensively addresses the issues of evangelism, the ordination of homosexuals, and the war on terrorism. Theology For Liberal Presbyterians is very highly recommended for all readers searching for a in-depth discussion of Presbyterian values in our complex and troubled world.

Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood
James Urry
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
0887556884 $27.95

Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood: Europe--Russia--Canada: 1525 to 1980 by James Urry (Reader in Anthropology at New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington) is an extensive and scholarly study of the Mennonite people and their role in history and politics. Containing previously unscripted events and facts, Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood reveals the activism of the Mennonites throughout history and spanning both western and eastern Europe; their migrations to North America; as well as their links between kingdoms, empires, republics, and democratic nations in the context of peace, war, and revolution. Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood is very highly recommended reading, both for its scholarly research and its profusely documented contribution an appreciation of the historical political activism and social involvement of the Mennonites.

Separation And The Sword I Anabaptist Persuasion
Gerald Biesecker-Mast
Cascadia Publishing House
126 Klingerman Road, Telford, PA 18969
1931038341 $22.95 1-215-723-9125

Separation And The Sword I Anabaptist Persuasion: Radical Confessional Rhetoric From Schleitheim To Dordrecht by Gerald Biesecker-Mast (Associate Professor of Communication at Bluffington University, Ohio) is a thoughtfully analytical criticism of the Anabaptist confessional argument during the Reformation Era. Diligently guiding readers through the intricate and highly detailed studies of Biesecker-Mast's analysis of the tensions and difficulties during the decades following the adoption of Schleitheim Brotherly Union in 1527, Separation And The Sword I Anabaptist Persuasion enlightens readers of the timeless intrigues of the Anabaptist radical significance in a time critically needing change. A work of considerable and seminal scholarship, Separation And The Sword I Anabaptist Persuasion is very strongly recommended reading for those who are searching for a Christian perspective of spirituality, as well as those engaged in a serious study of the historical movement of the Anabaptists.

A New Reformation
Matthew Fox
Inner Traditions
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
Warwick Associates (publicity)
18340 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma, CA 95476
1594771235 $12.95 1-800-246-8648

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality And The Transformation Of Christianity by Matthew Fox (Founder of the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California, now the Wisdom University) offers the reader a ground breaking, thought-provoking analysis of the corruption of Catholic and Christian fundamentalism in the United States. Reenacting Martin Luther's famous call for reformation of Church corruption in 1517, Matthew Fox inspirationally defies the modern Roman-Catholic reign in A New Reformation as he diligently and knowledgeably reveals its institutional flaws and proposes a more productive and helpful reordering of the practices and policies of the dominant Christian churches. A New Reformation is very strongly recommended and iconoclastic reading, and to be given high praise as an outstandingly informative and quite comprehensive study of the Christian movement, especially the Catholic church, and a coherent presentation of the more progressive aspects of the Christian religion in modern times.

Historical Dictionary Of Methodism
Charles Yrigoyen, Jr & Susan E. Warrick
Scarecrow Press
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 20, Lanham, MD 20706
0810854511 $80.00

The updated and expanded second edition of Historical Dictionary Of Methodism, is collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Susan E. Warrick (Assistant General Secretary for the General Commission on Archives) and Charles Yrigoyen, Jr. (General Secretary for the General Commission on Archives and History with the United Methodist Church). A comprehensive and precise collective study of Methodism and Christianity in whole, the Historical Dictionary Of Methodism is an authoritative reference and complete history of the roots of the Methodist church. The Historical Dictionary Of Methodism covers everything from John Wesley and his followers, to the individual principles ranging from country to organization, and is therefore very highly recommended for students of the history of Methodism for its expansive and thorough coverage of the many variables and constructs of its church and philosophies.

Exegetical Commentary On Matthew
Spiros Zodhiates
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
0899571506 $24.99

Exegetical Commentary On Matthew by Spiros Zodhiates (Chairman Emeritus of Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel's Board of Trustees and President Emeritus of AMG International) is an articulate and comprehensive study of the Gospel of Matthew from its original form in Greek. Acting as a reference and compendium of informed and informative scholarship with respect to the scriptural significance and historical truths of this New Testament gospel in the Greek language, Exegetical Commentary On Matthew educates readers on the derivatives of each questionable or controversial word or passage in the text. Exegetical Commentary On Matthew is a simply outstanding study of the original text, and is very strongly recommended dedicated students of the New Testament.

On The Letters Of Paul
Bruce J. Malina & John J. Pilch
Augsburg Fortress Publishers
PO Box 59304, Minneapolis, MN 55459
0800636406 $27.00

Ably co-authored by Bruce J. Malina (Professor of New Testament at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska) and John J. Pilch (Visiting Professor at the Stadium Biblicum Franciscanum, Hong Kong and at the University of Pretoria, South Africa), Social-Science Commentary: On The Letters Of Paul is a truly in-depth study of the God of Israel and the apostle Paul's commentaries on the God of Jews and Christians. Tactfully presenting an intriguing re-definition of the scriptural collections attributed to and about Paul, On The Letters Of Paul is a scholarly analysis providing a literary understanding through the Pauline books of the New Testament and their social values, perceptions and cultural influences on the thought and theology of the foremost evangelical apostle of the fledgling Christian movement. On The Letters Of Paul is very strongly recommended reading for all students of Pauline theology, as well as the secular vision of Paul the Apostle and his collective interpretations and ideologies within the context of the early Christian church.

Michael Dunford

Sharon's Bookshelf

The Truth About You
Mary M. Bauer
VanderWyk & Burnham
PO Box 2789, Acton, MA 01720-6789
1889242276 $19.95

The Truth About You: Things You Don't Know You Know by Mary M. Bauer is a thoroughly "reader friendly" book debunking more than 50 "truisms" that keep us from finding success and happiness in our daily lives through choices impaired by emotion, financial, or physical pain. Carefully examining such "common wisdom" assumptions as "stress will kill you", "things happen for a reason", life is bigger than we are", Bauer reveals that whether such beliefs are accurate or not, we can, by utilizing the powerful tools we are born with, find our own reality and realize our own potential, including overcoming the inevitable misfortunes of our lives caused by man-made ills such as crime or hatred, or natural disasters such as hurricanes or illness. The Truth About You is an enthusiastically recommended addition to self-help reading lists and community library self-improvement reference collections.

Heading For Home
Zahava Hanan
Natural Heritage Books
PO Box 95, Station O, Toronto, ON, Canada M4A 2M8
Chelsea Green Publishing Company, dist.
PO Box 428, White River Junction, VT 05001-0428
1896219748 $24.95

Heading For Home by Zahava Hanan is the intriguing memoir of one woman's remarkable struggle with the big-business interests in Western Canada and her attempts to preserve her ranch from degrading industrial pollution. An inherently fascinating account of her friends, cowhands, neighbors, and even the opposing businessmen themselves, Hanan describes her twenty year-battle to protect and preserve her property rights. Heading For Home is a story of strength, will-power, and incentive, as well as presenting a kind of spiritual quest for self realization. Heading For Home is to be given high praise and recommendation for readers who would enjoy a timeless but modern autobiographical story that informs, entertains, and occasionally inspires.

Sharon Stuart

Shelley's Bookshelf

Too Big to Miss
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Midnight Ink
Woodbury, MN
ISBN: 0738708631, $13.95 US/$18.95 CAN

Odelia Grey is Sue Ann Jaffarian's alter-ego, and if Sue Ann is anything like Odelia and I'm guessing she is, Jaffarian is a warm-hearted, wonderful, intelligent, and decidedly entertaining person. Sue Ann is a plus-size paralegal by trade, and the current president of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters In Crime, an international organization dedicated to the mystery genre. Sue Ann is also a motivational speaker, having founded Fat Chance Promotions, which is a writer's marking, promotional, and coaching organization.

Odelia Grey is indeed a paralegal…and is a plus sized beauty with brains, a heart, and that certain charisma that attracts people to her like flies. When her mentor, Sophie London, dies in an apparent online suicide, Odelia learns of Sophie's secret life, including a son, an ex-husband, and a slimy boyfriend. Sophie isn't satisfied with the explanation for Sophie's death and puts her paralegal skills to work as an amateur private investigator. Along the way she meets what promises to be the love of her life, and her sheer tenacity and loving respect for her friend turn her into a formidable sleuth:

"Olsen had said that Hollowell had used Sophie, physically and emotionally, since they were in high school. Greg had referred to him as Sophie's addiction. I had lots of questions for John Hollowell. So many, I entertained the idea of jotting them down on the palm of my hand like crib notes. From what I'd seen and heard of him so far, a bad taste had already formed. But I knew that I'd learn nothing if I came across like a Rottweiler having a bad day. And, after all, it might not have been as Olsen and Greg had said."

Sue Ann Jaffarian does a bang-up job of portraying Odelia's world (skillful paralegal who is adept at dealing with obnoxious lawyers); loyal friend (refusing to accept the mystery of Sophie's death at face value); and romantic lover (meeting an exceptional guy and accepting him with his flaws). TOO BIG TO MISS is touching; hilarious; has a killer plot that keeps winding round and round; and of course has characters who feel real and struggle through their personal challenges.

Sue Ann Jaffarian earns her position as President of Sisters In Crime on the merit of this story alone. This reviewer can't wait to dig into more Odelia Grey mysteries. Thanks!

Murder in Bozeman
Sam Drexler & Fay Shelby
Aunt Strawberry Books
P.O. Box 819, Boulder, CO 80306-0819
ISBN: 0966998820, $9.99 U.S. $12.99 CAN

Authors Fay Shelby and Sam Drexler are teachers and have written this engaging series with young adults in mind. They investigate a crime that the Blackfeet Nation has historically been accused of, the murder of John Bozeman (who founded Bozeman, Montana). They are part of an elite group who, by their music, art, and literature, are educating the world as to what the real story is.

Erika Van Barnaby and her friend, Oz Larsen have already had a history together as time travelers when they find time travel clocks built by the Bily brothers. Oz once again wants to convince Erika to accompany him on a time travel experience, this time to look up his biological father, and to find out the truth about John Bozeman's mysterious and historical death:

"Oz bombarded me with emails about Bozeman, Montana. About how John Bozeman died a mysterious death and how the Blackfeet tribe was accused of his murder. He knows I have a soft spot for Native Americans, and that I'd be infuriated by false accusations against the Indians. But what really intrigued me about Oz's emails was how he wrote and cared about John Bozeman, as if he was his relative or something."

Naturally Oz and Erika's best laid plans go awry and they find themselves in the right place and at the right time, but not together. How they finally bridge the distance between themselves is the core of the tale, and of course their pressure to try to avert John Bozeman's death without changing history...the time paradox. Drexler and Shelby have the adventurers meet Calamity Jane; Cowboy Teddy Blue; John Bozeman; Jeannette Rankin; and of course the real murderer. This tale is full of excitement; historical fiction; cultural values; just plain human kindness; and a lesson in genocide. The point of the book is well taken, and Drexler and Shelby are continuing their most excellent quest of teaching the young to love this earth and their fellow man...and woman. MURDER IN BOZEMAN is written with clarity and is interesting enough for readers of almost any age.

The Hell You Say
Josh Lanyon
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595385125, $15.95

Born in Britain, Josh Lanyon currently lives in Los Angeles and is a product of Stanford University. THE HELL YOU SAY is his third Adrien English mystery, following FATAL SHADOWS and A DANGEROUS THING. Josh lives with his partner, a former LAPD detective.

Adrien English is a mystery writer and owns the "Cloak and Dagger" bookstore in Los Angeles. The product of a socialite mom he calls Lisa, Adrien is in an uncertain relationship with a married man, Jake, who is also a LAPD detective. The tale begins when Adrien's clerk, Angus, decides to disappear after receiving cultist death threats. Adrien finds himself once again following his sleuth instincts as bodies begin piling up and it becomes apparent that dark forces are at work. Sometime partner Jake turns up at all the right times, but their relationship is slowing disintegrating, opening Adrien up for a possibly new relationship with the black arts university professor who is definitely interested, but who's job is at risk if Adrien is successful:

"He leaned forward, said quietly, 'You do realize what you're asking of me, yes? I will be held ultimately responsible. I'll be ruined.' 'I though they expected you to be controversial at UCLA?' 'I believe the Board of Regents draws the line at sacrificial murder.'"

Adrien is a kind and sensitive guy, sweetly going along with his mother's and future step-sisters' machinations even as he is putting his own life at risk investigating some very unsavory characters around L.A. Josh Lanyon manages to endear Adrien to the readers, even as Adrien is forming a trail of deadly enemies. His bookstore provides both a center and comic relief, as Lanyon describes a series of characters who wander through Adrien's life.

THE HELL YOU SAY is superbly written with a tight plot, lots of dark alleys and nooks and crannies all over the place. It's a fast and entertaining read, and Lanyon is carving out quite a niche for himself as the creator of gay mysteries. The characterizations make the book absolutely delicious. Excellent!

Find Courtney
Melissa Clark
Bridge Works Publishing
Bridge Lane, Box 1798, Bridgehampton, N.Y. 11932
ISBN: 1882593901, $15.95 US $31.95 CAN

Melissa Clark's background is varied and exotic. She has a long track record of published poems, plays, and short stories, and her first novel, DEVLYN sold over 100,000 copies. She supported her early writing as an exotic dancer and based her fan dancer character's home on an actual house called Dar El Baraka in Oujda, Morocco, where Ms. Clark lived during her formative years.

(Candy) Fanoy is a repressed adult college student living on a shoestring. When glamorous Courtney Armorault asks her to be her roommate Fanoy (as she calls herself) quickly accepts and enters a world she will not quickly forget. Courtney disappears one day, and Fanoy curiously accepts Courtney's probable fate until almost two weeks later when her father, Bret Armorault, suddenly makes an appearance and plucks Fanoy out of her "vacation" and back into the world of difficult men and unlikely scenarios:

"What was there about this guy that made me want to argue, sink my teeth into him? He seemed to be just using me for a sidekick, but maybe he was also testing me. But once again I bit my tongue. Maybe it's just hardwired into me to argue with men his age, because of my increasingly adversarial relationship with my father, which I noticed got a lot worse as soon as I was taller than he was."

What happens when two psychopaths find consuming love based in a setting of a long dead erotic fan dancer? Bret and Fanoy are seemingly made for each other, based on their history of family violence and their anti-social behavior. But the match takes on a hard edge as Fanoy peels back layer upon layer of Bret's persona to solve the murder of her brief roommate experience with a kidnapped girl made into a sexual object.

This novel is written almost entirely on a psychological level, with occasional forays into the real world. The characters, though, seem content to pick at each other until their innermost souls are revealed. Courtney's disappearance is almost a sideshow to the real plot, which is the effect of extreme parental cruelty and desertion of children and how it affects their entire life and inner world. Melissa Clark writes a fantastically great tale.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: A Peggy Lee Garden Mystery
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley Prime Crime
160 Hudson Street, New York, NY
ISBN: 0425209679, $6.99, 272 pp.

I was so excited when I was asked to review the second book by authors Joyce and Jim Lavene from their series, A Peggy Lee Garden Mystery- "Fruit of the Poisoned Tree." Having read and reviewed book one of this series I was all ready hooked on it and couldn't wait to see what trouble our main character Dr. Margaret Lee, or Peggy as we all know her, was getting into this time. Peggy is a middle-aged widowed woman who is a botanist and has exceptional knowledge of plants and the different poisons that they could produce. Peggy's life is full as she gives lectures at a local university and owns her own plant business.

Peggy's deceased husband had been a detective and to the dismay of those on the force, Peggy seems to always be involved somehow when a dead body turns up. And despite the police trying desperately to keep her out of the investigation, Peggy and her knowledge always seems to crack the case. I love it. When her friend Park dies in her arms and his wife is accused of not just his murder, but the murder of his mother Peggy can't help but get involved. A woman has to do what she has to do!

The authors do such a fine job in bringing each and every character to life, smoothly bringing them from one book to the next where you never have to play catch-up. The characters are brimming with personality that will make you chuckle out loud or want to give them a right hook. Peggy's antics and down to earth personality just make these books go over the top in reading enjoyment; and who could resist her lovable dog Shakespeare, her love Steve and the colorful people who work for her at her business, The Potting Shed. As in the first, the mystery that must be solved in this second book twists you around until your dizzy trying to figure it out, but why try; it's more enjoyable just to let Peggy do it.

I cannot recommend this work highly enough. It has everything, mystery, wonderful characters, sinister plot, humor and even romance. The way the authors merge plant knowledge into the storyline is great! Come on! Does it get much better than this? I am a fan for life; well done Joyce and Jim, keep-um coming!

Jezebel Goes to Church
Thom C. Minnick
Take Heart Ministries
PO Box 771, Johnstown, PA 15907
No ISBN, $10.00, 98 pp.

Often, when the Lord is revealing a much needed truth to the Body of Christ, He sends along confirmation in one form or another and I found this in author Thom C. Minnick's book, "Jezebel Goes to Church."

Jezebel is a name that Christian and non-Christians have heard and used throughout their lives to identify unsavory women that they have encountered. However, as is revealed in this work, Jezebel is so much more. Our author clearly defines many hidden truths as he shows us Jezebel is a not confined to one gender, or one avenue of attack, but reaches out in ways that will shock and amaze you.

It is said that being forewarned is being forearmed, and with the information in this book you will have your eyes open to a danger that is lurking, a spirit that is infiltrating the Body of Christ and the world. Besides being packed full of spiritual insight into the Jezebel thrust of the enemy, we are privy to see the wonderful work the Lord did in the life of author Thom Minnick; this in itself should be an inspiration to those who are struggling with their walk with the Lord. My husband, who is a retired Pastor, greatly enjoyed this work and shared some of it with those he ministers to. I recommend "Jezebel Goes to Church," for those serious about their walk with the Lord, for those seeking answers to many 'why's' that seem to be happening in our day, and for any seeker of the truth. Well done Mr. Minnick, a timely word for a troubled world.

Fight Fatigue
Mary Ann Bauman, MD
Tate Publishing, L.L.C.
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
ISBN: 1598861875, $17.95, 198 pp.

Immediately I was drawn into this work when I read that the number one reason women seek medical help is fatigue. I could attest that in my case it was true. Inside of this outstanding work Dr. Bauman identifies many of the culprits that are stealing our energy. Think you know what they are? Think again!

I was shocked at how simple and yet how complex these thieves were; I would have never imagined, but here before me on the pages of this book they demanded my attention. You will be amazed at how you are being robbed of energy without even knowing it is happening. The author does not leave you hanging with just the reasons why you are depleted of energy but she gives us six steps to maximize our energy. Now wait, they aren't hard to follow and will take very little of your time. I liked that.

This work is written from a woman who knows, besides being a doctor, she also has experienced the same strain on her energy resources as other women have. That was comforting. There is so much information and insight in this work it would be impossible to give it justice in one short review; however one of my favorite sections was the one on the mind-body connection and the effect it has on our well-being. Fascinating to say the least.

All in all this is one book every woman will want to have. Besides being a work packed full of knowledge; it is a real moral booster and when you are done with the read you know you are not alone in your struggle against fatigue. You will have a better understanding of what is depleting you of your energy and what to do about it. There is hope for a better tomorrow and this work will give you a helping hand to achieve that goal. Well done, recommended!

The Island Off Stony Point
Regis Schilken
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Ste 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 1933538139, $14.95, 220 pp.

Suddenly the monastery is under assault, monks die, three are taken along with their tabernacle host. The world is shocked, could someone truly be holding Jesus and His servants hostage and will the Catholic church pay for their return?

We meet Detective Jessica and FBI Agent Dexter, two fierce go-getters who follow the leads in this case and become more than co-workers. We also meet Stony, an African-American and part of the kidnapping gang whose soul is worth saving, or so Father Martin, the ancient monk who was kidnapped says. The stage is now set for our story.

In this read we are taken into the minds of those who are evil, have no respect for life or Deity; those who live for themselves and their greed. And we are taken into the heart of one Priest who sees with the eyes of God and whose faith certainly can move mountains. Not only does he land a sea-plane without water but he saves a soul and changes a life along the way. Not bad for a day's work.

This novel has suspense and adventure, a tad of romance,mystery and strong character development. Wrap it up with a breath-taking conclusion that proves even one soul is worth saving and you have a winner. Very well done, great read.

Chasing India
Cutter Mallet
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas
ISBN: 1933532058, $11.95, 116 pp.

It is known that true love may come when we least expect it, sneaking up on us when we are not even looking; such was the case with Ethan Williams and his beloved Rita. Ethan spends his days guarding the White House not looking for love but one day it did indeed find him in Rita, a beautiful exotic woman who would turn his life around.

Rita's life was complicated, her secrets deep; it was never her intention to fall in love. There love is a forbidden one but the passion that courses through their veins cannot be denied. Rita is being sought, chased by those who do not factor love into their equation for her future and Ethan turns to his brotherhood of Texas lawmen to help give them a moment together. In doing this the chase is on, the adventures begin and one finds not only how deep love runs, but how deep friendship will as well.

"Chasing India," is a story of forbidden love, a story of commitment and friendship going way beyond the norm and one that shows not all love has a happy ending. A well written work, great storyline and characters you will always remember.

Allan Lohaus, M.D.
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 0975592297, $18.95, 114 pp.

I have often wondered how doctors would feel if they were on the other side of the fence with illness. Unfortunately we have all had doctors, nurses and medical personal who are anything but compassionate; I don't know about you, but I have wanted to ask them how would they feel if they were undergoing what I was.

In this work by author, Dr. Allan Lohaus, he takes us on his journey as a patient fighting for his life. From a healthy prosperous man to one who must rely on those of his own profession, we see through his eyes as he undergoes what so many have before him. He shares his thoughts on pain, suffering,sorrow, fear,frustration, support and lack of support, compassion, those who do not care, and those who do.

Dr. Lohaus is frank and honest and the read I feel is a learning experience for doctors and patients as well. A different read, at times a difficult read emotionally, but an interesting read and one that will shed light on a myriad of topics concerning the sick and those who attend to them. Well done.

Shadow Laws
Jim Michael Hansen
Dark Sky Publishing, Inc.
121 Bradley Street, Golden, Co. 80401
ISBN: 0976924307, $13.95, 396 pp.

One of the marks of a great series writer is the ability to connect the reader with one principle character from one work to another. The character must be strong, he or she becomes the readers recognition of the author's work and one that the reader knows will be the pivot point of the entire storyline. In the same token each story must be able to stand alone and such is the case with the writings of Jim Michael Hansen. To me, this is the mark of an exceptional writer. Author Jim Hansen has accomplished this task in his second work, "Shadow Laws," by drawing us again into the work and life of Homicide detective Byson Coventry as he begins a hunt for yet another killer of innocent young women. We are comfortable knowing our detective yet if this is our first read of this outstanding author's work, we are drawn into the life of Coventry by his defined descriptive writing of Coventry's character, life and occupation.

In the beginning of our read we are witnessed to a fatal car accident caused by a careless couple ; we will not be told how this interweaves with the story at this time, but you will be shocked how important this event becomes. We travel to Denver and meet Taylor Sutton,Esq. and her friend Nick who informs her that he needs her help with a delicate matter. He has a mysterious client, one who he has only talked with on the phone, although he has taken his retainer. Now he feels this same man is trying to kill him and he doesn't know why. He has taped their conversations and wants to know if it would be against client privileges to take these tapes to the police as he feels he may be a killer. However, the client never actually admits to killing anyone but the undertone that he has is there. Chilling!

We are then taken into the life of Detective Coventry. A young woman is missing. Perhaps she has only decided to take a few days off away from everyone, but Coventry knows deep in his gut that this is not the case. Soon we are in the midst of the chase for a very sick man who likes to play games with the police, attorneys and the women that he kills. He is a self-made star and a man to be feared, one who is exceptional in leaving no clues, nothing left to chance. Creepy! The storyline twists and turns, rounds corners and comes to dead-end streets as you desperately try to piece together how all the characters are interwoven with our killer and each other. And it doesn't stop there as our detective becomes involved with a woman who is the neighbor of the missing girl. There is a problem however, as this woman seems to have a secret past, and Coventry, like it or not, must find out what that is.

One point I feel I should mention is that this work is a little more racy sexually than the first, however it does not take away from the suspense or storyline of this book. Every character that our author brings into play in this work is important to the story, yet believe me you will not be able to figure out why until the very end.

"Shadow Laws," is fast paced, a work that is ingenious at keeping the reader totally in the dark and absolutely shocking as the truth is revealed. As you read it, mysteries are layered one upon another, characters are interwoven, yet separate, and answers seem to be totally out of reach as the clock ticks away until the final hour where death may well become the victor. A nail-biter, page turner read, one that has all the elements that simply must be there for a top-notch murder mystery . Draw the shades, leave the lights on and double lock the doors as you settle back for a bone-chilling adventure. Outstanding and Exceptional! Highly recommended!

The One That Got Away
Lee Robert Schreiber
Volt Press
1223 Wilshire Blvd #557, Santa Monica,CA 90403
ISBN: 1566252431, $12.95, 225 pp.

I suppose all of us from time to time take a moment and think about our first love and wonder what they are doing, what would it have been like if we never broke up and is there still feelings there. In this work our author takes this one step further and contacts his. What do you think happens? Would you be bold enough to do the same, and is that a wise move to make for any of us? I believe our author found more than he bargained for.

As our author takes this quest he also shares with the reader his self-examination as he struggles for answers to many whys in his past and his present. He finds out some things about himself as well. We learn he at times is rude, perhaps will not commit, is competitive and he realizes the importance of his fathers presence after his death.

This is a work of the past, touching the present and influencing the future. A different work, one that will perhaps stir emotions in you that you didn't even realize were there. A story of life, loss, searching and finding and ultimately understanding life must take its course with each one of us and will have its way.

The Heart of a Legend
Amy Lignor
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976091984, $16.95, 310 pp.

I have to admit that I never knew this wonderful legend of Billy the Kid and I was totally caught up in this outstanding read by author Amy Lignor. We begin the read with excitement as we meet Paulita Maxwell making her way to the wild territory of Fort Sumner, New Mexico in 1877. This is where she first meets William H. Bonney, better known to us as, "Billy the Kid," who comes to the aid of her and her brother and halts the attack of some renegade Indians. Immediately there seems to be a connection between the two. As the story continues on we are taken with Paulita as she storms the wild territory with her strong will and wit and we watch as the love between Paulita and Billy grow.

We are taken into the lives of the people there, read the battle that they have with evil, greedy, rich, powerful men who are bent on having total prominence, ownership and control over the land and the people of the area. However there are those who challenge these men and Billy joins forces with them. Billy through circumstances is labeled an outlaw, but is he truly the evil man that many of us have thought he was? And Paulita struggles with her feelings and wonders who is this man that has captured her heart. Is he a cold-blooded killer or a man of honor?

The ending of his life is tragic and to me was truly heart-breaking but I have to tell you this work is one outstanding read. You will be totally consumed in this tender, yet stormy love story so intertwined and controlled by the actions of others that your emotions will run ramped and your heart will race. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend this work to others. Final words, don't miss this read; excellent and exceptional.

A Trivial Pursuit
Marilyn Gardiner
Wings ePress, Inc.
ISBN: 1597059102, $15.95

There are some books that speak to your heart in a surprising way, have characters that you insistently relate to, and a storyline sprinkled gently with faith in God; this is the case in this outstanding work by author Marilyn Gardiner.

Perhaps it is the down to earth way Ms. Gardiner portrays Lauren, our main character, a woman who is laden by many responsibilities and past hurts, and one who is to learn the power of trust and love. It is said that something's are meant to happen, planned as it were, in our lives. Some believe our Creator takes an interest in everything that happens to us; you decide. As you begin the read our Lauren is rescued from a life-threatening experience by a Mr. Jeremy Blake, an attorney. Immediately there is a connection between the two, which Lauren refuses to yield to and Jeremy places roadblocks on.

As the story progresses, we find our Mr. Blake is hired to work for the very agency Lauren is in, and to work side by side with her. Both feel the attraction, but there are problems, serious ones that definitely throw a monkey wrench into any personal development. You wonder, can these problems be overcome? Could there ever be a future of happiness between Lauren and Jeremy? And what about Jeremy's young son Michael, how is all of this effecting him? Is there more to this than a chance meeting and a working relationship? These are but a few questions that simply must be answered as you hungrily read on. Good job!

A Trivial Pursuit is the story of overcoming obstacles, learning to trust and have faith, commitment and love. It is the story of two lives and the people that depend on them, intertwining to become one despite the odds against that end-result, and the joy of a victorious outcome. The storyline covers a range of emotions from our characters, the battles both inward and outward that they must overcome and the clinging to faith or the finding of the same. It is a wonderful story that reminded me that love will find a way, and we are never alone. Highly recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Fear Not Da Vinci
Susy Flory & Gini Monroe
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
0899570526 $14.99

Co-authored by Susy Flory and Gini Monroe with the assistance of W. Ward Gasque, Using The Best-Selling Novel To Share Your Faith: Fear Not Da Vinci is an exclusive and conceptual study of Dan Brown's famous novel, The Da Vinci Code. Exploring a Christian response to various elements in the novel, Fear Not Da Vinci introduces readers to such ideals and explanations for Christians as to whether or not it is okay to read the novel, if Jesus really was married, if Mary Magdalene is pictured in "The Last Supper", if Jesus was merely a man or a God, if women are holier then men, and tactful ways to approach analyzing and discussing Dan Brown's novel with a gentle touch -- as opposed to an irrational and abrasively critical argument. For its in-depth study and articulated text, Fear Not Da Vinci is highly recommended for Christian readers when reading or discussing The Da Vinci Code.

What Shall I Say?
Kenneth Payne
Columba Press
c/o Dufour Editions
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425
1856075133 $24.95

What Shall I Say?: Notes For Preachers And Teachers For The Sundays And Feastdays Of The Three Year Cycle by Kenneth Payne is an informative introduction to developing and presenting homilies in the context of the Catholic faith. Distinctively presenting short and easy-to-follow notes, What Shall I Say? compiles a three year cycled of Catholic teaching and spiritual information, as well as at least one story depicting each occasion of religious celebration. What Shall I Say? is very strongly recommended for seminary students, clergy, and laity of the Catholic community seeking to add a greater, more effective contribution to their religious presentations, sermons, and homilies.

The Very Lowly
Christian Bobin
New Seeds
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MS 02115
1590303105 $10.95

The Very Lowly: A Meditation On Francis Of Assisi by Christian Bobin (winner of the French "Grand Prix Catholique de Litterature") is an inspired and inspiring collection of conceptual philosophy and situational analysis of the Christian life. Providing readers with an accurate and intimate understanding of the human ability to let-go, contemplate, assist, produce and reflect many more attributes of human-nature, The Very Lowly evocatively carries readers through times in a life of change and emotional development presented in a remarkable compilation of the systematic beliefs of Francis Assisi. The Very Lowly is very highly recommended reading Christian readers with an interest in the applied wisdom of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as the remarkable truths behind simple human nature, and how to most strategically confront personal issues throughout our lives.

Beyond Vatican II
Claude Barthe
Roman Catholic Books
PO Box 2286, Fort Collins, CO 80522
1929291833 $19.95

Beyond Vatican II: The Church At New Crossroads by Claude Barthe is a comprehensive and easy-to-read study of the division between traditionalist Catholic practice and the modern mainstream church. Introducing modern and progressive visions for and of the church, Beyond Vatican II conceptually analyzes and concisely documents the variations occurring between neo-traditionalists and traditionalists and the churches questionable pursuits with the multitude of smaller sects seeking differences from the fundamentally inclined notions of the Pope and the Vatican. Beyond Vatican II is to be given high praise, and is very strongly recommended reading for both clergy and lay members of the Catholic religion for its remarkable coverage of many church-wise detailing and its inspiring attempt to unite the many variations of the church.

The Story Of A Soul
St. Therese of Lisieux
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
1557254877 $14.95

Knowledgeably translated and expertly edited by Robert J. Edmonson, The Story Of A Soul: A New Translation by the late St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), is the engaging autobiography of the young woman known as "Little Flower" in the late nineteenth century. Reviewing her life and philosophy, The Story Of A Soul gently tells of Therese's slightly comedic, quite intelligent and always charming devotion to her church and God. Inspiring and heartwarming reading, The Story Of A Soul is very highly recommended as an engaging translation of the original autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux's fascinating and influential life.

The Pope's Army
The Crossroad Publishing Company
16 Penn Plaza, Suite 1550, New York, NY 10001
0824523954 $19.95

The Pope's Army: 500 Years Of The Papal Swiss Guard, by Robert Royal (President of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington D.C.) is an in-depth study of the Swiss Guard's five-hundred year service to the Pope and the Vatican. Informatively taking the reader through the Medici Popes, the sack of the Roman Empire, medieval sieges, the Napoleonic War, the unification of Italy, the imprisonment of the Pope, World War I and II, the resistance to the Nazi s, and collective information on more recent Popes, The Pope's Army is an invaluable documentation of the Vatican City and the Popes with respect to the dedicated military guard serving to protect of the papal well-being and safety for last the five-hundred years. The Pope's Army is very informative and strongly recommended reading.

A Brush With God
Peter Pearson
Morehouse Publishing
4775 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17105
0819222038 $24.95 1-800-877-0012

A Brush With God: An Icon Workbook by Peter Pearson is an introduction to the art of painting the greatest icons of the Christian faith with the eventual intent of using the painting as a product of future meditations. As thousands of followers seem so inclined to make art of their religion's icons, it seems they've always found council in the use of their artistic talent as an insightful and idealistic station for meditation and prayer, A Brush With God is an informative guide to properly painting your own icon oriented art for such similar purposes, and is highly recommended for its outstandingly easy-to-use and exceptionally instructive nature.

Unmasking Apocalyptic Texts
Dorthy Jonaitis
Paulist Press
997 Macarthur Blvd, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809143569 $18.95

Unmasking Apocalyptic Texts: A Guide To Preaching And Teaching by Dorothy Jonaitis (Institute Of Theology, St. Louis Missouri, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Religious and Pastoral Studies at the University of Dallas, and Dominican Sister of The Congregation of Our Lady of The Sacred Heart, Grand Rapids, Michigan) is an informative and superbly presented instructional insight into Christian apocalyptic literature. Unmasking Apocalyptic Texts is a highly researched work adhering to sound scholarship standards, the result is especially intriguing for its individualistic and unique content pertaining to a generally unrecognized perspective of the Christian faith's understanding and basis of "Last Days" theology and is very strongly recommended reading to all students of Christian theology, faith and practice.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Once Upon Stilettos
Shanna Swendson
Ballantine Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0345481275, $13.95, 308 pages,

As a Texan-turned Manhattanite and an executive assistant at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., Katie's seen more than her share of fantastical occurrences. She's no wizard. In fact, she'd just the opposite. Katie has a special immunity to magi that makes her a wiz at spotting the deceptive enchantments and spell-laced documents that make business go a little too smoothly for MSI's competitors. If only she could avoid falling under the spell of Owen, a hunky wizard who also happens to be her co-worker. Owen, however, is too preoccupied with an alarming security breach to notice. Someone has broken into his office and disturbed top-secret files, and it reeks of an inside job. CEO Merlin (yes, the Merlin) taps Katie and her special ability to uncover the magical mole. Keeping her feelings in check while sleuthing alongside Owen, Katie is shocked to discover that her immunity to magic is waning, putting her in grave danger. Soon she's surrendering to the charms and enchantments of everyone and everything around her, including a killer pair of red stilettos. Katie must now conjure up her instincts to get o the bottom of the break-in, regain her power, and win the wizard of her dreams. More teen fantasy magic from the author of "Enchanted, Inc."

Anyone But You
Lara M. Zeises
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385731450, $15.95, 248 pages,

For 15-year-old Seattle and 17-year-old Critter, summer is going to consist of a non air-conditioned house, sweltering days, and summer school. Not too much to look forward to. But when Seattle's plan of having Critter sweet-talk their way into the private pool of a condo complex WORKS, at least they know they'll get a reprieve from the heat. But Sea gets more than she bargained for – Critter seems to have fallen under the spell of the thin and perfectly polished Penn Acres princess manning the pool. Sea can't possibly stomach a relationship between Critter and a girl who is everything she is not. Told in alternating viewpoints, "Anyone But You" gives readers a story about two teenage best friends who are as close as family and who are beginning to have confusing feeling toward one another. Add into the mix the return of Seattle's father, and Seattle and Critter are going to have a summer that will change the way they look at one another. Will they be able to repair the damaged bonds of their family and friendship? For young adults age 14 and up.

Shooting Stars Everywhere
Martina Wildner
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385732503, $15.95, 194 pages,

During the dog days of summer, Victor lounges by the swimming pool, concerned only with the dumb bet he made to jump off the 10-meter diving boad by the end of the summer. If he fails to jump, victor must kiss the most undesirable girl in school. His lazy days are soon forgotten when Victor finds himself in the middle of mysterious events which mark an extraordinary summer he won't soon forget. Amusing and original, "Shooting Stars Everywhere" pains an accurate portrait of a lonely and confused teenage boy trying to understand himself and his world. For ages 12 and up.

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs
Jack Gantos
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374336903, $17.00, 186 pages,

Jack Gantos mines the deepest recesses, where secrets hid, in this gothic family drama. Tinged with his trademark dark humor, this haunting novel takes mother fixation to a new level of intensity. A probing look at the flawed nature of human behavior, and how love causes us to act in extraordinary ways, "The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs" is a unique love story that comes alive through a family desperate to hold on to the past. Threading together eugenics, nature vs. nurture, science vs. superstition, attachment to one's mother, and isolation in a small town, this work of fiction had its genesis in a story Mr. Gantos' own mother told about distant relatives. Abner and Adolph Rumbaugh are elderly twins who live together above the pharmacy they run in their small town of Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Their primary contact is with a local woman, June, and her seven-year-old daughter, Ivy. When Ivy makes an unexpected, grotesque discovery in the Rumbaugh's basement, the secrets begin to spill out: Ivy has stumbled across Ab and Doph's dead mother, who has been stuffed and preserved. Rather than feeling disgusted by what she has found, Ivy empathizes with the twins and their actions – she, too, is consumed by a need to be in close proximity to her mother. Like Ab and Dolph, Ivy is afflicted with the Love Curse of the Rumbaughs. How will it manifest itself in Ivy? Can nurture overcome nature and defeat the curse, preventing it from being passed on to future generations, or is Ivy destined to follow in the footsteps of her ancestors? An artful novel filled with sweetly creepy characters, hilarity and harrowingly somber awakenings.

Endgame: A Cautionary Tale
Nancy Garden
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152054162, $17.00, 304 pages,

In a nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2004, one third of high school students reorted being in a physical fight one or more times in the previous year; about half that amount reported being in a physical fight one or more times in the previous year; about half that amount reported carrying a weapon on one or more days within the past month. When 14-year-old Grayson Wilton and his family move to a new town, there's hope: a new school, a new start. No more bullies. That's what Gray believes as he chants, "It's gonna be getter, gonna be better here." But it doesn't take long for Gray to realize that nothing's going to change – there are bullies in every school and he's always their punching bag. Their brutal words, physical abuse, and emotional torture escalate until Gray feels trapped in a world where he has no control, no support systems, and no way out – until the day he enters the halls of Greenford High School with his father's semiautomatic in hand. "Endgame" is a searing novel for ages 14 and up, told from the gunman's point-of-view.

William Nicholson
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152057684, $17.00, 416 pages,

The first novel in William Nicholson's Noble Warriors sequence begins when 16-year-old Seeker's older brother is publicly humiliated and – with no exception – exiled from the Nomana, a revered order of warrior monks. Seeker refuses to believe that his beloved older brother is capable of committing a betrayal that would warrant such severe consequence, so he sets off alone on a journey to rescue his brother and find out at last what really happened. Along the way he meets two other young people who are on quests of their own, and in a shocking turn of events, the three are soon caught up in a harrowing and bloody race to save the Nomana – and themselves – from destruction. An epic coming-of-age story about courage, friendship, desire, and faith, "Seeker" marks the beginning of a riveting new saga. For ages 12 and up.

Behind the Curtain
Peter Abrahams
Laura Geringer Books / Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060737042, $15.99, 352 pages,

Things are amiss at 99 Maple Lane. Ingrid's dad's job is in jeopardy, but he won't explain why. Ingrid's brother is getting really buff, but the acne on his back makes her wonder if there's more to his physical fitness than lifting weights. Meanwhile, Ingrid's beloved soccer coach is replaced by the icy Julia LeCain, who seems to have another agenda altogether, and at rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz, Ingrid sees some suspicious goings-on at Echo Falls High. True to her hero, Sherlock Holmes, Ingrid begins fishing around to find out who's really pulling the strings in Echo Falls. But one morning, en route to MathFest, Ingrid is kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a car. If she escapes, will anyone believe her story? This sequel to the national bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated "Down the Rabbit Hole" is filled with Peter Abraham's signature tension and suspense. Super sleuth Ingrid Levin-Hill notices things that others don't and because of that, she ends up solving murders and mysteries in her small town of Echo Falls. For ages 10 and up.

Fly By Night
Frances Hardinge
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060876271, $16.99, 488 pages,

From the opening pages of "Fly By Night", it is clear that Frances Hardinge possesses a brazen love of storytelling. The early success of this massive book in the UK already plants this clever newcomer firmly on the map of authors who will make a lasting mark in children's books. Her first novel is rich with surprise, cozily strange, and magnificently original. It tells the story of Mosca Mye, a book-thirsty orphan, and her two companions: her best friend, a near-homicidal goose who accompanies her everywhere; and a dangerous conman, Eponymous Clent. It is a glorious book, packed with hilarity and heartbreak, with adventure, a magnificent use of language, and a tip of the hat to Philip Pullman and Charles Dickens. For ages 10 and up.

The Year the Gypsies Came
Linzi Glass
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0805079998, $16.95, 262 pages,

Linzi Glass's debut novel is set against the backdrop of Apartheid South Africa, and seamlessly intertwines the story of a fragmented and dysfunctional family with that of a fragmented and dysfunctional society. Glass's talent for storytelling takes readers into the lonely, isolated world of 12-year-old Emily Iris as she silently begs for attention from her self-absorbed mother and distracted father. From time to time, her parents invite houseguests to diffuse the tension in their unhappy home. One spring a "gypsy family" – an Australian wildlife photographer, his wife and two boys – comes to stay. Emily and her beloved sister Sarah find friendship and adventure with the boys, but when tragedy strikes, their lives are changed forever. "The Year the Gypsies Came" tells the story of how love in its many forms is the glue to mend a family and a country. For ages 12 and up.

Chew On This
Erick Schlosser and Charles Wilson
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618710310, $16.00, 304 pages,

When the award-winning journalist Eric Schlosser's groundbreaking book "Fast Food Nation" was published for adults, many called for his insights and research to be shared with young readers. They are, after all, the fast-food industry's biggest consumers. In "Chew On This," Schlosser and coauthor Charles Wilson present the fast-food industry to pre-teen readers, focusing on the aspects that will interest them most – the nonconformist teen entrepreneurs who founded it; the mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses and employees in restaurants; the shocking effects to much fast food can have on growing bodies; and the impact of the industry on schools, communities, and the earth. After the surprising history sections of the book, the picture isn't pretty in it's unflinching report on the truth of what lurks behind those sesame seed buns. Stomachs will turn and tempers flare when young readers discover, for instance, that chickens in slaughterhouses are sometimes killed by being thrown against walls or stomped on. Or that a single animal infected with E. Coli virus can contaminate 32,000 pounds of ground beef. Or that leftover waste from a chicken slaughterhouse is sometimes added to chicken feed, turning the doomed birds into cannibals. Change in diets will certainly occur for many an enlightened reader, making them think twice before ordering another fast-food burger and fries.

Lois Lowry
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618685502, $16.00, 140 pages,

Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? With "Gossamer," two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream and the darker horrors that find their form in nightmare. In a haunting story that tiptoes between reality and imagination, two people – a lonely, sensitive woman and a damaged, angry boy – face their own histories and discover what they can be to each other, renewed by the strength that comes from a tiny, caring creature then will never see. An inspiring, ethereal work for ages 10 and up.

Space Dogs
Justin Ball & Evan Croker
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375832564, $15.95, 250 pages,

Inhabited by highly intelligent but very tiny people, Gersbach is experiencing a mysterious disturbance of gravity (D.O.G.) which threatens to destroy the planet. A desperate mission to Earth is planned, with Commanders Belka Sparkleman and Strelka Funkmaster in charge. Using a highly sophisticated spacecraft that looks exactly like a terrier – thanks to Laika's example – they undertake a frenetic, complicated mission to find and destroy the source of the D.O.G. Will Belka and Strekla blend in with the locals on Earth? Will the Buckleys, a loveable Earth family, give them away? Will the evil Colonel Bars and his squad of killer fleas get to the D.O.G. first? Can the brace Galactanauts save Gersbach? A silly romp for ages 8-12.

The Cranium Creative Cat Book of Outrageous Fun
Illustrated by Baseman
LB Kids / Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316057606, $14.99, 38 pages,

From the makers of the award-winning Cranium board game comes "The Cranium Creative Cat Book of Outrageous Fun," one of four spin-off titles in a new series from LB Kids. The novelty set combines a book filled with more than 150 activities, a pull-out game board, and a sliding drawer filled with such essential accessories as an erasable marker, clay, timer, game cards, die and game piece. Teams try to out perform the other in a series of artistic challenges including inventive drawing, sculpting, and building assignments. Not only is it great fun, but it's brain food too, engaging creative thinking, physical skills, and personal expression. A wonderful gift for ages 7 and up.

The Cranium Data Head Book of Outrageous Fun
Illustrated by Baseman
LB Kids / Little Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316057614, $14.99, 38 pages,

In this impressive novelty book series, kids can explore over 150 activities with the "Cranium Data Head Book of Outrageous Fun." Swing open the cover and flip though the coil binder for a creative thinking activity, then slide open the Cranium board game and accessories, namely an erasable marker, clay, 25 game cards, a die, a game piece, and a mini-sand timer. Now you're ready to join Data Head and his friends on a journey of exploration to uncover facts and stats. Rewritable pages can be filled in differently every time for repeat play. Interactive fun for ages 7 and up.

The Cranium Star Performer Book of Outrageous Fun
Illustrated by Baseman
LB Kids / Little Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316057592, $14.99, 38 pages,

Kids don't have to be a famous actor to wow the crowds. With Star Performer and her friends in "The Cranium Star Performer Book of Outrageous Fun" they can discover their own dramatic talents and have outrageous fun along the way. This is one of four novelty books in a series of Cranium game spin-off packaging over 150 activities in a wire-bound book, alongside a plastic drawer filled with game accessories needed to play. Designed primarily for team play, inventive activities include a palm reading game, foot and toe agility tests, and many performance challenges that involve dancing, acting, sculpting, telling jokes, playing the kazoo and so on. Clever, out-of-the-box fun for ages 7 and up.

The Cranium Word Worm Book of Outrageous Fun
Illustrated by Baseman
LB Kids / Little Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316057622, $14.99, 38 pages,

Do riddles make you giggle? Can you say silly sentences six times fast? With "Word Worm" kids will find unique activites with each turn of the page. As with the other three novelty books in this new series spin-off from the award-winning Cranium game, there are more than 150 activities here designed for team play. Rewritable pages, a pull out game board, and a drawer full off accessories (maker, clay, timer, game cards, die and game piece) complete the package for replete adventures in wacky wordplay. For ages 7 and up.

Land of Elyon II: Beyond the Valley of the Thorns
Patrick Carman
Orchard Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439700949, $11.99, 226 pages,

In "Beyond the Valley of Thorns" – the second book in the "Land of Elyon" trilogy – 12-year-old Alexa Daley is once again on the brink of adventure. An unexpected threat has risen from outside of Elyon, and Alexa finds herself involved in a battle much, much larger than her own life. In order to help good defeat evil, Alexa and her friends must venture farther than they've ever gone before – confronting giants, bats, ravenous dogs, and a particularly ghoulish mastermind in order to bring back peace to The Land of Elyon. For ages 9-12. Fantasy fans will want to begin at the beginning with book one: "The Dark Hills Divide" (0-439-70093-0).

Do-It-Yourself Designs Party Style
Jayne Miller
Silver Dolphin Books
5880 Oberlin Dr., San Diego, CA 92121-4794
ISBN: 1592234364, $12.95, 32 pages,

Omigod the party's tonight and I've got nothing to wear! What's a girl to do? "Do-It-Yourself Designs Party Style" comes to rescue to fulfill the fashion fantasies of girls 7-11. Designing divas can use the book and craft kit to create their own fabulous duds – from sketchbook to the catwalk. This fun, all-inclusive kit has everything kids need to create lots of different designs and cool outfits as well as styling tips, designer's tips, and style icons. Projects let kids show off their superstar style by challenging them to design the perfect party ensembles for occasions like the School Dance, a black-tie affair, and a picnic in the park. Includes a 32 page boo, 11 reversible stencils, 10 patterned papers, 3 fabric swatches, 59 stickers, 2 sequin cords, 10 gem accessories, and a beaded chain to get you started.

Extreme 3-D: Weird Animals
Shar Levine, Leslie Johnstone, and Elaine Humphrey
Silver Dolphin Books
5880 Oberlin Dr., San Diego, CA 92121-4794
ISBN: 1592233643, $14.95, 48 pages,

The wonderful world of the microscopic is made even creepier, even ickier, buy the outrageous 3-D photographs in the new "Extreme 3-D" series. The coolest title yet, naturally, is "Extreme 3-D Weird Animals" with its freaky factoids and oodles of oddities about geckos with toe hair and the tongues of snails and slugs. Kids will love learning about the wild, weird microscopic world of animals in this 48-page book packaged with 3-D glasses. An awesome close-up experience for young biologists ages 8-12.

The Secret World of Fairies
Angela Robinson
Silver Dolphin Books
5880 Oberlin Dr., San Diego, CA 92121-4794
ISBN: 1592233678, $18.95, 40 pages,

"Fairies never wear clothing made of wool. It makes their sensitive skin break out in a terrible rash," notes young Rose, the fictional author of a scrapbook discovered by her great-granddaughter Melinda. "Rose's Fairy Book" featured in "The Secret World of Fairies," is filled with vintage postcards and photographs, classic sketches and illustrations, and hand-written diary entries. Through Rose's eyes, young readers learn all about different kinds of fairies – from Flower Fairies to Autumn Fairies. Filled with wonderful stories, fairy artifacts, and 4 collectible fairy figurines, this fantasy book is a gem for girls 7-11.

Uncover A Frog
Aimee Bakken
Silver Dolphin Books
5880 Oberlin Dr., San Diego, CA 92121-4794
ISBN: 1592234569, $18.95, 16 pages,

In this "Uncover" series of books and 3-D models, kids can uncover the secrets of some of the world's most interesting subjects, layer by layer. This series combines facts and color diagrams with a unique 3-dimensional "layered" model that gives young readers a visual understanding of the subject matter without the mess and controversy of actual dissection. With "Uncover a Frog," kids will learn facts about poisonous, hairy, singing, albino and even "glass" frogs, then can deconstructs the frog model for an up-close-and-personal understanding of the hidden workings of the frog's body. Irresistible fun and a learning treasure. Other titles in the series uncover a cobra, tarantula, T-Rex, shark, the human body, and a race car.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Human Factor
Kim Vicente
270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0415978912 $24.95 1-800-634-7064

Written by a former consultant to NASA, NATO, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, Microsoft Corporation, Nortel Networks, among others, The Human Factor is an amazing insight into how the effects of technology are become so complex, so fast that humanity itself is falling behind in its ability to wrestle with the latest discoveries and gadgets, with sometimes catastrophic results. Chapters discuss problems in technology that fails to take into account the nuances of psychology; issues of politics; and the fateful questions: why are our widgets so out of control, and what can we do about it? From the threat of nuclear plant meltdowns to much-needed reforms in medical technology and health care, The Human Factor is a vital "must-read" keyed to better understanding the modern world and preparing for the future.

The Philosophy of Art
Stephen Davies
Blackwell Publishing
2121 State Avenue, Ames, IA 50014-8300
1405120231 $24.95 1-800-216-2522

The latest in the Foundations of the Philosophy of the Arts series, The Philosophy of Art is a text ideal for college classrooms or self-study, designed to offer an overview of the philosophy of art in an accessible style that reflects both classic and modern works. Chapters cover the definition of art, its varieties and interpretation, pictorial representation in visual arts, the value of art in monetary and other terms, and much more. An index allows quick and easy lookup to this detailed study of the basics of art appreciation and philosophical ruminations about the nature, purpose, and effects of art.

Industrializing American Shipbuilding
William H. Thiesen
University Press of Florida
University of Florida, 15 Northwest 15th Street, Gainesville, FL 32611-2079
0813029406 $55.00 1-800-226-3822

Industrializing American Shipbuilding: The Transformation of Ship Design and Construction, 1820-1920 is an in-depth presentation of how the art, craft, and tradition of shipbuilding evolved in America over the course of a century. As common, nontheoretical methods of shipbuilding gradually became replaced by scientific methods, often driven by the pressures of war and increasingly powerful warships, so did the American Shipbuilding industry have to transform and adapt. A story of the intersection between culture, increased demands, and technology, Industrializing American Shipbuilding is a deftly researched and presented treatise on the realities of change, featuring black-and-white photographs and extensive notes which belie the immense amount of meticulous research and attention to detail.

American Capitalism
Nelson Lichtenstein
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
0812239237 $49.95

Expertly compiled and edited by Nelson Lichtenstein (Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and director of the Center for Work, Labor, and Democracy), American Capitalism: Social Thought And Political Economy In The Twentieth Century is an impressive and thought-provoking compilation of essays from political and national figures on recent and continuing America social and economic issues. Inclusive of thirteen essays contributed by such influential intellectuals and scholars as Ayn Rand, Kevin Mattson, Juliet Williams, and others, American Capitalism substantially contributes to our knowledge and prediction of the need for reform, as well as ideological constructs applicable to the twenty-first century as capitalist economics continues to remain accepted by most countries as the basis for their social systems and development. For its paradigm-shifting knowledge and scholarship-based comprehension of modern American societal thought and economic theory, American Capitalism is very strongly recommended for students of political science, economics, and anthropology.

A Civil Republic
Severyn T. Bruyn
Kumarian Press
1294 Blue Hills Avenue, Bloomfield, CT 06002
1565491998 $25.95

A Civil Republic: Beyond Capitalism And Nationalism by Severyn T. Bruyn (Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Boston College) has as its primary focus America and the world's radical shifts with respect to dealing with issues of injustice, ecological destruction, political instability, weapons of mass destruction, the reemergence of authoritarian governments, and the necessity to create a secure future as a "civil republic". Professor Bruyn analyses significant opportunities still open to us. Exploring the implementation of a newer, more constructive international power and civil worldly and societal union, A Civil Republic studies the overwhelming and profound possibilities for economic, political, and international future. For its highly researched and scholarly yet accessible presentation of possibilities for America and the other globally interdependent nations of the world, A Civil Republic is very strongly recommended and thought-provoking reading for students and scholars of philosophy, international relations, economics, political sciences, international corporations, international development, and international law .

Just A Chap Passing Through…
Bill Smith
Elderberry Press
1393 Old Homestead, Second Floor, Oakland, OR 97462
1932762396 $19.95

Just A Chap Passing Through…: The Secret World Of Fine Art Insurance is the inherently fascinating and quite informative autobiography of William F. Smith. A man who lived a life involving museums, collectors, dealers, artists, felons, police, feds, and insurance companies. Bill Smith dealt with the commercial and sometimes shady world of Fine Arts, which brought him into contact with Scotland Yard, Interpol, the FBI, museum directors, curators, and art thieves. That life is showcased in his candid memoir, Just A Chap Passing Through…, and carries his readers through the tales of Smith's colorful career as a premier art adjuster dealing with stolen pieces through the USA and from around the world. Just A Chap Passing Through… is very strongly recommended reading for those interested in the intricate and intriguing world (and underworld) of fine arts.

Murach's ASP.Net 2.0 Web Programming With C# 2005
Joel Murach & Anne Boehm
Mike Murach & Associates
3484 West Gettysburg Avenue, Suite 101, Fresno, CA 93722
1890774316 $52.50

Knowledgeably co-authored by web programming experts Joel Murach and Anne Boehm, Murach's ASP.Net 2.0 Web Programming With C# 2005 is an informed and informative guide for using ASP.NET 2.0 to create a professionally crafted, "user friendly" web-site. Deftly presented in a step-by-step, easy-to-follow format, Murach's ASP.Net 2.0 Web Programming With C# 2005 thoroughly and accessibly presents innovative, practical, and productive ideas and ideals for web-design construction. Murach's ASP.Net 2.0 Web Programming With C# 2005 is very strongly recommended for all web-designers and programmers for its extensive presentation of the entire process involved with creating professional quality websites.

Paul T. Vogel

Volk's Bookshelf

Thimbleberries New Collection of Classic Quilts
Lynette Jensen
Landauer Corporation
3100 NW 101st Street, Suite A, Urbandale, IA 50322
1890621986 $27.95 1-800-557-2144

Thimbleberries New Collection of Classic Quilts presents 28 more of Lynette Jensen's best- selling Thimbleberries quilt designs. Full-color photographs and step-by-step instructions with diagrams walk the reader through the creation of advanced aesthetic designs including those of a bittersweet vine, a geometric print symbolizing the Northern Lights, ideal patterns for holiday accents, and much more. A superb sourcebook for intermediate to advanced quilters, Thimbleberries New Collection of Classic Quilts does presume that the reader already has a basic understanding of the fundamentals of needlework and quiltmaking.

A Treatise on Angel Magic
Adam McLean, editor
Red Wheel/Weiser
368 Congress Street, 4th floor, Boston, MA 02210
1578633753 $18.95 1-800-423-7087

A Treatise on Angel Magic is a classic, exact, and complete transcription of a rare 17th century volume on Angel Magic. A primary source work of occult manuscripts, illustrated with black- and-white charts and diagrams, A Treatise on Angel Magic includes the hierarchies of fallen angels, evocation of the Nature Spirits, and John Dee's Enochian system of Angel conjuration. Concluding with Dr. Rudd's "Treatise on the Nine Hierarchies of Angels" and their conjuration to visible appearance, A Treatise on Angel Magic is one of the most thorough renditions of ancient manuscripts, and a "must-have" resource for anyone interested in angelology, whether a lay reader or a scholar.

Carol Volk

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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