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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 5 May 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Helen's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vicki's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Cowper's Bookshelf

Invention Of The Modern Cookbook
Sandra Sherman
Greenwood Press
Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781598844863, $55.00,

Cookbooks are a universally popular and every month sees dozens and dozens new cookbook titles being published every month. Indeed, the Midwest Book Review features a regular monthly review column called "The Cookbook Shelf" in order to accommodate them. But cookbooks, celebrity chefs, and the culinary arguments over them and contests for acceptance between them is no new phenomena but goes back into early decades of the18th century. A superbly organized and painstakingly researched 300-page compendium, "Invention Of The Modern Cookbook" by food historian Sandra Sherman begins with an informed introduction, then moves on to the issue of culinary authority and the rise of celebrity chefs, examples of early cookbook texts, and the role marketing strategies played with respect to cookbook publishing. Of special note is the chapter devoted to niche and specialty cookbooks. Enhanced with the inclusion of an extensive bibliography and a comprehensive index, Sandra Sherman's "Invention Of The Modern Cookbook" is especially appropriate for academic library reference shelves and would prove to be a welcome and popular addition to community library collections for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in cookbooks and cookbook history.

Rewriting Life Scripts
Liliane Desjardins, et al.
Life Scripts Press
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690972, $19.95,

The collaborative work of academician Nancy Oelkluas, entrepreneur Irene Watson, and clinician Liliane Desjardins, "Rewriting Life Scripts: Transformational Recovery for Families of Addicts" is a superbly organized and deftly presented 184-page compendium practical information on the nature of addiction and recovery written specifically for the non-specialist general reader. "Rewriting Life Scripts" covers frequently asked questions by family members on the issues of addiction, recovery, relationship issues with respect to an addict, and a great deal more. Of special note is the section focused on 'Changing Yourself', including communication and co-dependency. For anyone seeking to deal with problems of addiction within themselves and/or their family members, "Rewriting Life Scripts" is especially recommended as being informed, informative, and thoroughly 'user friendly'.

The Locavore's Handbook
Leda Meredith
The Lyons Press
246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437
9780762755486, $16.95,

A 'locavore' is someone who prefers to eat locally grown, locally sold foods. Leda Meredith is a dedicated practitioner of the locavore lifestyle and has drawn upon her considerable experience and expertise in "The Locavore's Handbook: The Busy Person's Guide to Eating Local on a Budget" to present 'real-world' practical advice and information on budgeting, sourcing, growing, and preserving food, as well as shopping efficiently, supporting local providers and merchants -- and the planet itself. A 208-page 'user friendly' compendium, "The Locavore's Handbook" will prove to be an informed, informative, and highly rewarding read. Of special note are the chapters on 'Sourcing Local Food'; 'Simple Food Preservation'; and 'Feasting for Free'. Enhanced with an extensive list of 'Useful Resources' and a comprehensive Index, "The Locavore's Handbook " is a welcome and highly recommended addition to personal and community library collections. Also highly recommended is Leda Meredith's blog 'Leda's Urban Homestead' at

Practical Crystal Healing
Nicole Lanning
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781449035556, $15.95,

Associated with New Age metaphysics, the use of crystals to heal ills of the body and mind goes back into antiquity. In "Practical Crystal Healing: 555 Tips & Techniques", Nicole Lanning draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to provide non-specialist general readers with a superbly organized and presented introduction to the use of crystals in the healing process in the form of specific 'tips, tricks and techniques' for their medicinal employment. From selecting the right crystal for the right task, to crystal programming techniques, to crystal correspondences, elixirs, 'gridding', healing bags, and more, "Practical Crystal Healing" will prove an invaluable contribution of enduring value for personal and professional alternative medicine supplemental reading lists, as well as academic and community Metaphysical Studies reference collections.

The Hellraiser Of The Hollywood Hills
Jennifer Colt
Tessera Book
9781439267882, $14.99,

Terry and Kerry McAfee are twins -- they are also a couple of very active private investigators who find themselves embroiled in the attempted kidnapping of a music star in a seedier part of the Hollywood scene. But being bodyguards for a head case like bubble-gum-pop star like Bethany becomes as hazardous as it is complicated with past secrets, missing millions, stolen identity, blackmail, and murder. "The Hellraiser Of The Hollywood Hills" is a ripping great read by Jennifer Colt, who is a genuinely gifted storyteller, and is the fifth in a series featuring these two remarkable and memorable young women. For those mystery enthusiasts for whom this is their first introduction to the mystery solving California sisters, check out their four previous titles: The Butcher of Beverly Hills (9780767920117, $19.00); The Mangler of Malibu Canyon (9780767920124, $11.95); The Vampire of Venice Beach (9780767920131, $11.95); and The Con Artist of Catalina Island (9781449521394, $11.99).

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Vince Dooley's Garden
Steve Penley
Looking Glass Books
c/o John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Dr, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
9781929619375, $35.00,

Vince Dooley is best noted as the football coach for the University of Georgia Bulldogs where he led the team to play in twenty bowl games, winning six SEC championships, and being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. What is not so well known is that Vince Dooley is also an accomplished gardener. Written by Steven Penley and superbly illustrated with color photography and Penley's own paintings of some of Dooley's gardening achievements, "Vince Dooley's Garden: A Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach" focuses upon the former college football coaches more than twenty years of gardening activity. A fascinating read, "Vince Dooley's Garden: A Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach" is especially recommended to the legions of Dooley's fans, and will have much of exceptional appeal for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in gardening as well.

Convair Advanced Designs
Robert Bradley
Specialty Press
99 Spring Street, 3rd fl., NY, NY 10012
9781580071338, $34.95,

The aircraft manufacturer Consolidated Vultee (later to be renamed 'Convair') built 'flying boats' in the 1930s, those aircraft that could land and take off on water. Then in World War II they produced Convair's six-engine B-36 strategic bombers that played such a vital role in the outcome of that global conflict. While famous for the planes they built, what is not generally known is that from their very beginning, they were also very involved in aeronautical research and development, looking to the future of aviation. "Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962", compiled and annotated by Robert Bradley, is a 192-page illustrated compendium of ideas and concepts that were generated, but which never materialized. Replete with company photographs, models, and drawings of 'futuristic' aviation concepts as a folding-rotor anti-submarine patrol bomber, a giant seaplane passenger transport to be launched from a high-speed rail car, and many other fanciful designs, "Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962" is a unique 'window in time' giving us access to the kinds of imaginative proposals the aeronautical engineers of one of the nation's most prestigious aviation companies came up with. A valued addition to academic library 20th Century Aviation History collections, "Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962" will prove to be a fascinating and informative browse for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in American aviation.

From Seed to Table
Janette Haase
Insomniac Press
192 Spadina Avenue, Suite 403, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2C2
9781897178751, $22.95,

In 1998 Janette Haase was a single parent living in a village near Kingston. She had a tiny front garden and no backyard, ye she was able plant enough vegetables to enable her to feed her family with what she could grow in a very limited space. In "From Seed to Table: A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green", Haase draws upon her experience and expertise as an organic farmer to demonstrates that eating locally grown seasonal food is superior in terms of health and economics to that which is offered by modern corporate farming mass food production methods. Organized as a month-by-month, 224-page, illustrated instructional guide, "From Seed to Table" shows how anyone can raise enough food in a small space to feed themselves and their families, with the additional benefits that what they eat will be more nutritious, economic, and environmentally friendly than the same foodstuffs being purchased at a chain-store style supermarket. A perfect instructional reference for the home gardener, and enhanced with the inclusion of some excellent recipes, "From Seed to Table: A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green" truly lives up to the promise of its title and is highly recommended for personal and community library gardening instructional reference collections.

The Video Editor's Guide To Soundtrack Pro
Sam McGuire & David Liban
Focal Press
c/o Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann
30 Corporate Drive, Burlington, MA 01803
9780240811734, $44.95,

When it comes to video productions, 'technology marches on' is not just a sound bite slogan, it is a workplace reality. The collaborative project of Sam McGuire (Professor of Recording Arts, University of Colorado, Denver) and David Liban (Professor of Film and Video Production, University of Colorado, Denver), "The Video Editor's Guide to Soundtrack Pro: Workflows, Tools, and Techniques" is a 312-page compendium packed from cover to cover with usefully illustrated information and instruction on utilizing Soundtrack Pro software in every aspect post-production video editing. As comprehensive as it is 'user friendly', as well as being enhanced with the inclusion of an accompanying DVD with both video and audio files, "The Video Editor's Guide to Soundtrack Pro: Workflows, Tools, and Techniques" is a highly recommended addition to academic and professional video production and editing reference collections and reading lists.

2010 National Home Improvement Estimator
Ray F. Hicks & Constance Hageman
Craftsman Book Company
6058 Corte del Cedro, Carlsbad, CA 92009
9781572182295, $63.75,

One of the basic indicators that the American economy is in recovery is the rise in construction projects and contracts. One of the hedges against the collapse of the housing market is a discernable increase in homeowners choosing to improve their properties as an alternative to buying new and larger homes. An invaluable reference for professional contractors and architects is the Craftsman Book Company's "2010 National Home Improvement Estimator", a knowledgeably compiled 520-page manual which was deftly edited by the team of Ray F. Hicks & Constance Hageman. Covering every aspect of home improvement construction issues including labor and material costs, city cost modifiers, and home improvement project selling prices, "2010 National Home Improvement Estimator" addresses everything from demolition and foundations, to structural repairs and siding, to kitchens and bathrooms, to flooring and windows, and so much more. Of special note is that the material prices cited are current, with location adjustment factors and free monthly updates on an internet web site. Providing contractors with step-by-step instructions for estimating projects, along with helpful diagrams, and home improvement shortcuts, invaluable and practical expert tips, as well as being thoroughly 'user friendly' and enhanced with the inclusion of a National Estimator CD-ROM, "2010 National Home Improvement Estimator" is a highly recommended and indispensable professional reference for professional contractors. Also very highly recommended from Craftsman Book Company is their "2010 National Construction Estimator" (9781572182257, $62.50).

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Mule Deer
Dennis D. Austin
Utah State University Press
7800 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
9780874217414, $19.95,

In "Mule Deer: A Handbook For Utah Hunters And Landowners", author Dennis D. Austin draws upon his more than thirty years of experience and expertise as a research scientist and wildlife biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to produce a 296-page compendium providing a complete, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' history, and biology of the mule deer in Utah. Amidst the wealth of management information and data is an impressive chronology of major events defining the management of Utah's mule deer population and winter range resources from 1876 to 2008. Of special note is the section focusing on the hunting of mule deer, including hunter ethics and preferences. Enhanced with an appendix (Utah Statewide Buck Harvest: Antlerless Harvest, and Hunters Afield 1925-2008); a bibliography of cited literature, and a comprehensive index, "Mule Deer" is a seminal work of impressive scholarship and highly recommended for personal, academic, and community library Wild Life Management reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

The Complete Guide To Making Cheese, Butter, And Yogurt At Home
Richard Holweg
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781601383556, $24.95,

Whether from cows, goats or sheep, milk has been a mainstay of the human diet from antiquity to the present day. The use of milk to make cheese, butter and yogurt is a part of every human culture in every part of the world. Now in the outstanding 'Back To Basics Cooking' series from the Atlantic Publishing Group, even the most inexperienced novice can turn out gourmet quality products with the help of Richard Helweg's "The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply". Beginning with the basics of equipping the home kitchen with the necessary tools and ingredients, "The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' 288-page instruction guide for making basic and cultured butter; basic and frozen yogurts; and a culinary wealth of soft and hard cheeses. Of special note is an entire section dedicated to terrific recipes for those 'make it yourself' butters, yogurts, and cheeses. Superbly enhanced with an extensive resource list, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index, ""The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home" truly lives up to its title and is enthusiastically recommended for both personal and community library instructional reference collections.

Alan C. Hood & Company
PO Box 775, Chambersburg, PA 17201

The late Euel Gibbons was an iconic figure whose three books, "Stalking The Wild Asparagus" (9780911469035, $17.50); "Stalking The Healthful Herbs" (9780911469066, $17.50); and "Stalking The Blue-eyed Scallop" (0911469052, $20.00) have been brought back into print for a new generation of appreciative readers by Alan C. Hood & Company. All three of these foraging 'how to' manuals are especially noted as being thoroughly 'user friendly' and packed with a wealth of practical information. These compendiums of information are nicely illustrated with line drawings. All three of these informed and informative titles are still considered to be a seminal trilogy and strongly recommended for anyone seeking to harvest and utilize the natural resources that grow wild in fields, forests, swamps, along the roadsides and in vacant lots -- and free for the taking by those who know where to look -- and when. Although available separately, community library systems in particular would be well advised to acquire all three titles for their collections.

Nicholas Oldisworth's Manuscript
John Gouws, editor
Arizona State University
Box 874402, Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
9780866984287, $54.00,

Deftly edited by John Gouws (Professor Extraordinary, Nowrth West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa), "Nicholas Oldisworth's Manuscript (Bodleian Ms. Don.c.24)" is a unique contribution to 17th Century literary studies. It is an annotated 256-page compendium of poetry written by Nicholas Oldisworth for his wife between the years 1628 and 1636. A devout Church of English clergyman who died of the plague in 1645, Oldisworth is one of the few period poets whose rather excellent poetry is provided with background information by its author, making this collection of seminal interest to students of 17th century English literature, history, and manuscript studies. Of special note is Professor Gouws informed and informative commentary. Enhanced with a title index, first line index, and a general index, "Nicholas Oldisworth's Manuscript (Bodleian Ms. Don.c.24)" is an impressive and strongly recommended addition to academic library 17th Century literary reference and resource collections.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Musical Gifts and Jewish Connections
Giovanni Maria Pala & Loredana Mazzarella
The Americas Group
654 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 1, Los Angeles, CA 90049
9780935047714, $15.95,

There has been a great deal of scholarship associated with the study of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting of 'The Last Supper'. It has been the subject of musical compositions, films, and books -- perhaps the most controversial of which was the Dan Brown novel 'The Da Vinci Code'. Author, musician and musicologist Giovanni Maria Pala discovered a 12-measure musical score composed for the organ and created by the positions of the bread, hands, and fruit depicted in the painting, and in the process of discovery found Hebrew letters hidden in the spaces separating the apostolic figures around the table and which offer a prayer to the world. Still another issue revealed by Pala is that the face of St. John was not a portrait of Mary Magdalene as metaphysical 'scholarship' would have it, but rather is the image of Leonardo's mother, Caterina. An iconic, inherently fascinating, and very highly recommended 128-page read, "Leonardo Da Vinci's Musical Gifts and Jewish Connections" is enhanced with a bibliography, a DVD, and an index.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are Her Rituals
Rachel Adair
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432744748, $23.95,

The healer is not universally loved. "All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are Her Rituals" tells the story of Lady Caroline Hathaway, a woman who comes from a long line of practitioners of unique arts that have highly effective healing powers on her people. Her society comes under fire from the crushing hand of the Queen's monks, and soon she realizes her love is not universally reciprocated. Unique and sensual, "All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are her Rituals" is worth considering, highly recommended.

Contraception Naturally!
Franics J. Trapani
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439256510, $24.99,

Sometimes things get hot and can't wait for a trip to the drug store. "Contraception Naturally!" is a collection of tips and tricks to the never ending goal of contraception for many couples who aren't quite ready to risk a child, but don't want to deal with the drugs and chemicals often prescribed for the purpose. Francis J. Trapani comes to readers with plenty of natural and creative methods of contraception with a bit of history. For the chemical fearing yet sex loving reader, "Contraception Naturally!" is an ideal choice. Also from Dr. Francis J. Trapani is "The Second Dilemma"(9781439252802, $24.99), offering his advice and wisdom on other health issues such as immunization, cosmetics, and more.

Lady Luck
Susan DiPlacido
Privately Published
9781450543002, $12.75

Luck can be a fickle mistress. "Lady Luck" follows Sherri DiPedi, a Las Vegas showgirl as she escapes a brush with death and gains a new appreciation for just how much luck can change one's life. Finding herself in the targets of murder, she hopes luck will lead her to safety, and tries to figure out if she really is Lady Luck, or if she's just gone off the deep end. "Lady Luck" is a Vegas mystery that many readers will simply love.

Murder on Skid Row
Charlene Wexler
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449073565, $10.99,

You can attempt to make hell more livable, but you can't change that it's still hell. "Murder on Skid Row" tells the story of Mel Greenburg, an optimistic dentist who tries to make a difference in Chicago's seedy skid row. But not everyone likes a hero, and the dentist quickly finds that life won't be easy, if he even lives that long. "Murder on Skid Row" is thought provoking and entertaining reading; pick it up.

How to Be a Sister
Eileen Garvin
The Experiment
260 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3 South, New York, NY 10001-6425
9781615190164, $15.00,

Autism does more than affect the individual. It affects a family. "How to Be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism" is the reflections of one girl growing up with a sister with severe autism. She shares her stories and what Margaret, her sister, has taught her over the years through her disorder. Poignant, thoughtful, and sure to give many family members of autistic children something to relate to, "How to Be a Sister" is a solid addition to any memoir collection focused on autism.

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Joseph E. Stieglitz
W. W Norton & Company Inc
500 Fifth Ave. New York, N.Y 10110
9780393075960, $27.95,

2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph E. Stiglitz book "Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy" was released in late February 2010. It is really a no nonsense analysis, tersely written and quite accessible, of the real economic cost of the Illusion of the ideology of the self regulatory market as being the only possible economic reality which must exist out of logical necessity. What gives Stiglitz analysis traction, or better yet purchase or bite, is that he has had access to what French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu referred to as the 'fields of power' through his chairmanship of president Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and the Vice president of World Bank until he was fired from that position in the late 1990s for his critique of the handling of the Asian financial crisis. He characterizes the handling of that crisis as being similar to the Obama administration handling of The Wall Street bailout, which he characterized as something they would have rejected during his Chairmanship of the World Bank if it came from a "Banana Republic".

What adds force to his position is his willingness to be bipartisan in a critical sense as he documents both the Bush and Obama response to the present crisis with its roots in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall (Banking) Act of 1933 by President Clinton's administration in 1999. Incidentally Joe Stiglitz was born a year before me in 1943, and started college in 1960. I must admit that I am very moved by his living his life according to the Kennedy precept which asks not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. From this position he moves to an implicit and explicit economic critique of the social under- valuation of public knowledge, and the almost idolatrous rewards for alleged private technical expertise, which in the broadest sense generates generational social costs which all of us must bear, from the college freshman who faces the specter of lifetime of indentured servitude, to the generation X's who now will be working well past the Mid-Point of the 21st Century before they can retire. (Like you Dr. Kemp.)

So the question any informed reader will ask is this: What can Joseph Stiglitz tell me that I don't already know about the inadequacy of free-market fundamentalism to inform economic policy in the 21st Century? I think the answer to that question lies in his approach and methodology which he carries out systematically through all ten chapters and 352 pages which include 53 pages of end notes organized by chapter, but sadly no Index. The book demands a closer reading then I can give at this point and it would be best were it to be supplemented by numerous internet resources featuring his appearance as a distinguished lecture in a number of venues. I would also note that it is refreshing to see him positioned on the same podium with Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, and Peruvian Economist Fernando Desoto at a 2009 City University of New York symposium on power, property rights, and ideology, in which even Naomi Klein ranked as a distant third. The idea being that ideology is in fact a pragmatic expression of existing power relationships and will morph according to groups' or individuals' power seeking behaviors. For example those who hold positions of economic power, who for irrefutable reasons must be regulated, will promote ideologies of de- regulation which maximize their apparent, but not necessarily real, self-interest.

The first handful of chapters do in fact discuss causality and blame for free fall crisis and I will go into further depth on them in a later version of this project but what I like best about Stieglitz is that he is kind of a Huey Long of economics theorists. What I mean is just like Huey Long as progressive governor of Louisiana rose to national political prominence with his cry to "spread the wealth ", so Joseph E. Stieglitz is willing to spread the blame for the present state of affairs.

But perhaps the most refreshing part of his analysis deals with his structural origins of the present crisis of the last sixty-five years since the end of the Second World War when the US produced half of the world GNP as it was called then, and the population of the planet stood at two million.

Yet it would be inaccurate to characterize as a social critic like Noam Chomsky, or an economic historian simply trying to say something about the recent past, because he states in many instances that the economics profession must be forward -looking dealing with the present and future. So that means that though his work is evidence-based and logically coherent it goes father in a sense to create what in philosophical discourse course we call synthetic knowledge, really a means to move from logical coherence to empirical verification.

Perhaps an example of this might be the way he treats the concept of risk and moral hazard which in an economic sense is supposed link action with consequence and future risk with future benefit in an ideal situation. Perhaps the best example I can think of an effective operation of the principle of moral hazard is my own participation in the State of Wisconsin Variable Annuity portion of the Wisconsin Retirement fund which I chose when I first accepted a classified position with The University of Wisconsin Madison in July of 1971. By the time I retired on January 9, 2000, it had accrued a principle of $299,000 plus a $20, 000 sick leave credits on an investment of less $3000 of my own deferred compensation. Last year I suffered a 33% benefit decrease but no loss of principle and this year I will see an 31% increase. Of course I am very fortunate that my retirement income is stabilized by the safety net of Social Security, some other small investments, and of course my wife's income and my investments were managed by highly competent professionals and out of my hands effectively. But the point is I made choices, received benefits and paid for my own loses. I can say at least in this case the concept of moral hazard worked well for me as it was conceived forty years ago and actualized in the Wisconsin Retirement Fund.

But the question that Stiglitz raises is how did we as a society in forty years come from a logically coherent concept of moral hazard to what he calls cooperate welfare and the ideology of too-big-to fail, as well as welfare for corporations at the expense of those segments of society which are least able to pay the cost in terms of decreases transfer payments, such unemployment compensation, food stamps, and public health free clinics, and of course protective services,. As he says "What economic sense does it make to lay off public school teachers in order to build roads when in fact the entire transportation infrastructure needs to be reformed?"

Perhaps the most interesting section of the book is his, in his forward looking chapter nine "Reforming Economics", where he argues for modeling which does not reflect a desired state of affairs, or justify personal preferences. Rather he really wants are models which work on a systemic and level lead to better outcomes. What I mean by this is models which on a structural level deal with the problems of the disappearance of the old American working middle class, and the vanishing of social mobility as several generations have known it. He has an excellent chapter "From Global Recovery to Global Prosperity, and another which suggests the need for a "New Capitalist Order", and a "New Society" as the World stands on the razors edged between danger and opportunity. To rephrase this in my own words one must note since the collapse of first wave Globalization in 1914, the world as we know it has moved through war, famine, population growth, and income growth & disparity, and environmental degradation. The West as we know it as has only barely survived a suicidal century, which has never the less been lit by ironic beacons of hope. H.G Wells referred to the 20th Century as a race between education catastrophes. In the words of Sony & Cher the Beat Goes On, or to say it another way, the Dreams 19th Century died in 1914 in Flanders's Field in Belgium and the 20th Century is now just about over.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Dan Ariely
Harper/HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street New York, NY

Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist in a fascinating and emergent field which challenges empirically many of the grounding assumptions of classical and neo-classical economics, for example, Adams Smiths 'invisible hand of the self- regulating market.' Smith's theory postulates each individual acting in their own enlightened self-interest leading to a world in which everyone's best interest is best served. Economic man seeks the best deal for himself and provides the best deal for his neighbors in the process, as a result of a competitive market. Behavioral economics challenges the assumption of economic rationality and informed decisions.

Ariely's Predictably Irrational contains within in it perhaps the most interesting, philosophically significant idea I have come upon in my lifetime. It is called 'arbitrary coherence' and it is introduced to explain how Starbucks got us to pay $2.25 for a cut of coffee that not two long before would have cost two bits and included free refills. Of course, I must also add that it tasted like dishwater, unlike the fine range of Starbucks products my wife and I have enjoyed in our dozen or so trips to Ireland, The UK, and in some of the capitals of continental Europe

Starbucks did it by what they called anchor pricing which, simply put, means that a large house coffee does not look like such a bad deal when compared with the $4.95 triple mocha delight with a double shot of espresso, frothing cream drizzled with caramel sauce and fresh nut meg. This magnificent creation served by a smiling and well groomed Barista, whose father is paying forty-K a year tuition for her MFA program, furthermore, makes the Starbucks small house coffee seem like an absolute steal, and we don't even miss the dishwater taste of the cup of Jo we used to get at Joe's dinner, before he got priced out of the gentrified neighborhood, and his dinner got turned into nail spa for cats. I would add that things are not quite the same since the economic meltdown and there are not so many Starbucks, but the principle of arbitrary coherence which is exemplified by anchor pricing still holds.

The most interesting aspect of arbitrary coherence is not how it made a coffee industry into a culture and source of employment for nearly graduated holders of Masters of Fine Arts Degrees, and I might add a career path for them once they completed their programs. What is most interesting about arbitrary coherence is the manner in which the principle is almost infinitely generalize able.

Here is what I mean. I have spent my life in formal and informal philosophical disputations. These discussions must start with grounding assumptions to be meaningful, from these assumptions others follow by extension, even if the first assumption is arbitrary, like the revealed theologian who bases his belief on the anchor that the Bible is God's revealed word and any contradiction with it must be in error. Once one accepts the first assumptions just like the $4.95 mocha, other assumptions follow from it. Yes there is a lesson in all this: Be careful what you start, and where you plant your anchor. Okay there are good reasons for starting this in theology, but not so good reasons for doing this in an empirical science like economics.

For example within field of economics there is, according to a pragmatically brilliant young institutional economist, an apparently foundational concept of personal and international economics called inter-temporal investment which basically states that one defers present consumption for savings which in turn is turned into investments which will grow and make future financial plans, both long- and short-term possible. Yet perhaps inter-temporal investment is not really a foundational concept in economics.

Because as my pragmatically brilliant associate has pointed out: The concept of inter-temporal investment rests on the foundation of well enforced property rights and contract protections. These must be enforceable on both a national and international level. Just as we need police protection to protect our real personal property from a bunch of thugs busting into our home, we need protection from Wall Street thugs like Bernard Madoff and their ponzi schemes. Otherwise Wall Street thugs will just take our money and invest it in pyramid schemes with a very few of them at the top skimming off the money and the vast majority of us on the bottom having lost it.

I am sure nearly everyone who lost who lost nearly everything in the recent meltdown assumed in some way or other assumed that there were well enforced property rights and contract protections, and, even if the investments they made were risky, the risks were calculable on the basis of rational expectations, and cost benefit analysis. And that they were in a sense protected by the self-regulating and invisible hand of the market. Further by extension they assumed that any attempt at governmental regulation was worse than self-regulation. Because, thank you Milton Freidman, Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher, "Government is not the Solution, it is the problem."

I wonder about the sixty-five year old (former real estate speculators) Baristas who are now working at McDonalds since McDonalds managed to take a big bite of Starbucks' market share by introducing competitively priced premium coffee that also did not taste like dishwater. I wonder what they are thinking about on their mandatory, paid, fifteen-minute-break for every full-four-hour-shift worked. I suppose the first thing they are thinking is why there are shifts of three hours and fort- five minutes so that a paid break is not mandatory. Perhaps, they are wondering what happened to those inter-temporal investments, investments that were supposed to pay for an early retirement, and a beach front condo with a back entrance onto the golf course.

I wonder if any of the sixty-five year old (former real estate speculators) Baristas whose faith in the market was theologically anchored to Adams Smiths's invisible hand of the self-regulating market. The ones that are to the ones that did not get out in time, perhaps they are reflecting on how it happened that their anchors have dragged them to the bottom. Perhaps it is about as rational to anchor one's future to the precept of a self-regulating market as it is to fire the police force and close down the courts and jails, based on the rationality of self-regulating thugs. Actually we tried that during a period right after the fall of the Roman Empire. We call it the Dark Ages.

As I moved towards this month's deadline I wish to take a moment to credit my brother in law Jeff Bogstad who works in one the United States greenest and most innovative transportation industries. I want to thank him for all the support he gives me as a reader's advisory service. Jeff also in his line of work, which is kind of blending between a medieval master craftsman and a 21st century industrial engineer, tries to operationalize the economic concepts we discuss. Tonight at our respective homes a couple hundred miles apart we both watched the PBS Nova Special Mind of over Money. .It really documents the absolute significance of behavioral economics in a in an empirical sense. Next month I hope to add his discussion to my book shelf. Jeff and my wife descend for a noble Norwegian family with six generations of blacksmiths, lately turned engineers.

Phil Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Hard Magic
Laura Anne Gilman
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803132, $14.95,

Recent college graduate Bonnie Torres joins New York-based Private, Unaffiliated, Private Investigators (PUPIs) a forensic magic investigative firm. She and the other PUPIs practice magical spell-casting as they prepare for their first field case.

The Chicago police ruled that septuagenarian Charles and Patty Reyboern committed vehicular suicide. Their daughter Rose rejects the official determination of the causes of her parents' deaths as each was healthy, financially secure and liked one another; no motive appears for their killing themselves. She hires PUPIs as she refuses to accept what the cops concluded. Although not ready, the inqui ry is assigned to Bonnie and her team. They follow clues some of a magical variety while interviewing friends and family of the deceased. Soon they begin to agree with their client that murder made to look like suicide occurred. As they interrogate suspects, someone uses magic to take out the team, but Bonnie and company survive the spell-casting assaults.

Laura Anne Gilman explains Bonnie was a bit player in the Retrievers saga when she got a starring role in the anthology Unusual Suspects (see Illumination); Hard Magic is her first lead in a novel. She proves capable as the heroine holds the exciting private investigator urban fantasy together. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the return to the world of the Cosa Nostradamus starring a naive rookie (total opposite of the Retriever veterans) whose investigation makes for an entertaining magical whodunit.

Edge of Apocalypse
Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310326281, $24.99,

Joshua Jordan was a hero taking unbelievable chances with his life for the country he loved. When he retired from field work he became a weapon designer trying to still protect the United States from threats outside and inside the nation. In the Atlantic, a North Korean boat has nuclear missiles aboard. Due to failed communication with his superiors at home, the admiral launches the weapons a

Two of the missiles head towards New York City; Jordan has minutes to activate the Return to Sender laser guidance system that sends a missile back to its launch site. The counter operation proves successful, but the media questions the consequences while the White House and Senate demand he turn over the Return to Sender system to Senator Stratworth and his committee. When he refuses to give it to anyone outside of the Pentagon as he fears anyone else will sell it for oil and credit. The President and Congress use the media to go after Joshua. Joshua soon learns he might be a target as Iran, North Korea and Russia as well as allies want the system and will go to any length to get it.

Taking place in the near future in which America is short on cash as a new growing dust bowl threatens Midwest agriculture, corruption permeates the government, Joshua and two secret cabals try to bring back the country to what is once was. Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall provides readers with an exciting thriller as the United Sates is on the Edge of Apocalypse while the hero must deal with the possibility of biblical Armageddon and saving his nation.

The Prophecy
Dawn Miller
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310714330, $9.99

As children, they encountered two groups of beings not of this world. One side tried to kill the five of them while the other saved their lives, but made them forget that horrific day. They all went their separate ways. However, Sam, Jonas, J, Carly and Jenna suffer nightmares. Sam is stunned by the horrible painting he created while asleep so he contacts the others only to learn they suffer nightmares too.

They agree to meet in St. Louis, but on the road each encounters danger from adversaries trying to prevent their rediscovering what occurred. The quintet soon learns they are the Watchers caught in a raging war between warrior angels and fallen ones that normal mortals cannot sense engulf them. The Mazzi-kin know of the Watchers who are a key element in the end prophecy and like the Grigori want the five dead. However God's Warrior Angels are entrusted to keep these pivotal teens safe as the beginning of the end of the heavenly war has the teens playing pivotal roles.

This classic good vs. evil spellbinding novel grips readers throughout as the audience and the Watchers learn of the heaven-hell war on earth. Each of the members of the human quintet is different with a couple unlikable. The three otherworldly groups come across genuine with diverse attitudes. The Fallen mated with humans against God's Orders and initially seemed sympathetic towards mankind but think of wolf in sheep's clothing; the Grigori are in your face evil and loathe humanity; and finally the Warrior Angels have no allegiance to the sons and daughters of Adam except as directed by God so they come across as superior and aloof. Ironically they are the savior group (besides the heroic teens) in a delightful good, bad and ugly apocalyptic chronicle.

Stettin Station
David Downing
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781569476345, $25.00,

In November 1941 in Berlin, Anglo-American journalist John Russell knows Roosevelt needs an excuse to enter the war as the German armies blitzkrieg towards Moscow. To avoid censorship or worse, Russell is very careful with what he files as he knows it will take little for the Nazis to detain, kill or export him. This would leave his famous girlfriend actress Effi Koenen behind still filming propaganda movies for the Nazis' whom she and John loath and he also would be unable to help his teenage son Paul, who lives with his former wife while belonging to the Hitler Youth group.

Meanwhile as most Berliners blindly remain loyal to the Nazis, John's Communist friends report the transporting by trains of Jews to the east. Admiral Canaris, head of Abwehr, assigns John on a mission in Prague with a promise of a passage to Switzerland. However, th e mission fails, but John tries to send to his contacts that American companies in Europe are profiteering from the war by selling Zyklon B gas to the Nazis.

The third Russell WWII espionage thriller (see Zoo Station and Silesian Station) is a great entry that in many ways is more a superb historical as David Downing captures the essence of Berlin just prior to the American entry into the war. The atmosphere is terrific as the Nazis deploy the Final Solution and attack the Russians while Russell struggles with getting himself and his renowned girlfriend to safety yet not wanting to abandon his son to the Hitler Group nor ignore the sales of poison gas. Readers will feel they are in Berlin in late 1941 as Stettin Station is a timely tale.

Lamb Bright Saviors
Robert Vivian
Bison Books
c/o University of Nebraska Press
233 North 8th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68588-0255
9780803213807, $22.95

Mr. Gene and his assistant young Mady travel across Nebraska preaching the Lord's word and distributing bibles. However, Mr. Gene takes ill and knows he is dying. He stops at the home of an elderly blind woman while word spreads of the preacher's imminent demise which leads to many folks arriving.

As he babbles about God, four people are invited to hear his final confession. Each is euphoric with the chance because they seek redemption. Living inside a baseball dugout, Oly prays that one day he will coach school sports. Former convict Yarborough sought revenge against someone who betrayed him, but forgave the person after he took a pound of flesh. Tattooed all over his body, Gus uses body art to display his ire at the world. Finally Iraqi war veteran Munoz carries the head of his brother in arms killed in theater.

This profound character study is a terrific look into the souls of six people seeking redemption; ironically that includes the rambling preacher who believes if he delivers the four strangers to God he will have atoned for his sins. The novella contains a stark Nebraska atmosphere that enhances the story line for those readers will appreciate an austere reflection on the foibles of atoning for one's life even in death.

Elegy for April
Benjamin Black
Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805090918, $25.00,

In 1950s Dublin, Dr. April Latimer apparently vanished; at least that is what her best friend Phoebe Griffin believes. She failed to meet the group at the Dolphin Hotel as she always does though the other members (Patrick Ojukwu, Isabel Galloway and Jimmy Minor) seem less concerned. Phoebe called the Hospital of Holy Family where April is a resident, but was told her pal called in ill.

Desperate April asks her "Uncle" Quirke the pathologist to investigate. She only recently learned he, not his recently widowed brother-in-law Malachy Griffin, was her biological father who gave her up when her mom died in childbirth. Although in detox at the House of St. John's, Quirke would do anything for his "niece". As he investigates what happened to the niece of a government minister, Quirke begins to unravel the worst in humanity as he finds the Latimer family conceals abuse and brutality within their circle so as to remain influential, the Catholic Church condoning people like the Latimer brood with their silent acceptance of abuse and brutality, and finally the community de facto collective racism that accepts abuse and brutality towards a white Catholic female and a Nigerian expatriate who must never fall in love. However, even as Quirke works the darkest streets, all roads lead to the convergence of the Dolphin Hotel group with her family.

The latest Quirke historical thriller (see Silver Swan and Christine Falls) condemns Ireland for its enabling the Church and the aristocracy to get away with what should have been criminal activity. Containing a strong cast, the fast-paced well written inquiry with brilliant final twists grips the reader throughout as Ireland is exposed for ignoring the shortcomings of moral institutions.

The Season of Second Chances
Diane Meier
9780805090819, $25.00

Forty-eight years old Columbia University literature professor Joy Harkness leaves the city for a position at Amherst to escape her solitary l ifestyle and her dozen years of torture at Morningside Heights for what might prove a fascinating program. She sees herself giving up little for a new start.

Joy euphorically moves to Western Massachusetts where she buys what would be kindly called a fixer upper. She hires much younger handyman Teddy Hennessy to work on her Victorian. As she eludes the campus coyotes, Joy and Teddy begin to date, but his martinet mom objects.

The Season of Second Chances is an interesting character study of a forlorn academia as the lead jumps at starting over. The ironically named Joy begins to find herself at Amherst because the locals will not allow her space to crawl back into her solitary shell of distrust. Although Teddy's mom comes across as a stereotype of Mommy Dearest over the top of the Berkshires, readers will appreciate the middle age professor seeking her groove.

The Birth of Love
Joanna Kavenna
c/o Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805091540, $14.00,

"The Moon". In 1865 Vienna, obstetrician Professor Ignaz Semmelweis fails in his efforts to find the fundamental cause of deadly childbed fever though he felt sanitary conditions played a major role. He mentally falls apart from depression as the vision of all the women he failed to save visits him in his mind; leading to an asylum.

"The Empress". In 2009 London, Brigid Hayes is in severe pain from labor as she is about to give birth to her second child.

"The Hermit". Across town from Brigit, failed author Michael Stone finally is published with his work The Moon focusing on Semmelweis. However, he feels overcome with finally making it as a novelist and fearful with what next.

"The Tower". In 2153 prisoners 730004, 730005 and 730006 stand trial for treasonous behavior against the Protectors who enforce ultra sanitary conditions on a near extinct humanity. No one is allowed to do anything against the leaders keeping the species safe from itself.

Although rotating the stories through two cycles is a distracter even as that technique tries to interconnect the stories, the four well written tales are filled with timely symbolism. The book is filled with irony as those who demand less government in people's lives demand more government in pregnant women's lives. Each entry is solid and loaded with metaphors leading the audience to ponder the roles of do-gooder outsiders directing what pregnant women can do (past, present and future).

Either You're in or You're in the Way
Logan Miller, Noah Miller
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061763175, $15.99,

"Either You're in or You're in the Way: Two Brothers, Twelve Months, and One Filmmaking Hell-Ride to Keep a Promise to Their Father" is an often amusing, always inspiring memoir is not for everyone as it has stretches of too much detail, but those readers who enjoy a Hollywood success story will be encouraged by the Bros to take a chance on a dream. The biography focuses on the former baseball players' efforts to keep a deathbed promise they made to each other to make a movie about their late homeless alcoholic father who died in prison. The Miller siblings explain the obstacles to include Mother Nature and getting performers like Ed Harris, who comes across as an honest h ard working performer as does the rest of the cast. Although the setbacks seem relatively minor lacking a drama queen or king and not enough discussion on their baseball careers (should have played for the Twins), fans will enjoy the quest of two Bros with no credits to their names or money pulling off the filming of their dad's life. This will remind readers in some ways of Roger and Me with the starkness to an outsider of Hollywood replacing Flint.

Mr. Arkadin AKA Confidential Report
Orson Welles
9780061689031, $13.99

Just after the war, Chesterfield smuggler Guy van Stratten and his girlfriend Mily find the dying man with a knife in his back near their boat the Queenie. Marcel Bracco tells them to find Gregory Arkadin if they want to make a fortune. The cops arrive as Bracco dies, but also look on board the Queenie where they find the illegal contraband. Guy spends the next three months behind bars.

After his release, Guy searches for and finds Mily who works on board Arkadin's ship. However, Guy also learns the great international financier has a daughter Raina and knows she is the best ticket to get to her father and subsequently a lot of money though he remains unsure how. Guy maneuvers a dance with Raina and a ride to Marseille. Guy meets Arkadin who hires him to find out who he was before arriving in Zurich in 1927 with 200,000 Swiss francs.

Although the novelization of the Welles' unfinished movie (as described by John Parker in the forward: apparently there were several versions but none finished by Welles) is an intriguing character study starring individuals who are shady and most often on the wrong side of the law. Although the tale is slow at first, once Guy and Raina meet, the action picks up until a final confrontation. Fans of Orson Wells will enjoy this entertaining reprint of a 1950s thriller as his antiheroes work post Europe with a capitalist need at the bottom lin e at all costs.

A Magic of Dawn
S.L. Farrell
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756405977, $24.95,

By 563, Nessantico the once proud powerful Empire remains divided, but a renaissance of sorts has blossomed under its female ruler Kraljica Alessandra ca'Vorl, Fifteen years ago The brutal Tehuantin army invaded from Hellins, but were repelled. Alessandra managed to keep the Sun Throne as ordained in the capitol city of Nessantico, but the empire was fractured as the city-states were divided in support of her and in allegiance to her son Ja n ca'Ostheim, leader of the rebellious Coalition of Firenzcia.

Mother and daughter have negotiated since the last horde invasion, but so far that has proven futile. The Concenzia Faith has arisen seeking its once glorious position of power; they face strong opposition from within led by Nico ce'Morel, who though defrocked three years ago, leads a powerful following who demand a strict fundamentalist reshaping of the Faith and from the secular ruler and her Garde Kralji, who reject religious influence. As violence between the groups increases, the Tehuantin have regrouped and deployed ready to invade again. If Alessandra and Jan fail to come together, Nessantico will crumble again by the invading horde; if they come together the empire has a chance, but the religious-secular schism may prove too internally divisive and enervating to overcome anyway.

The third Nessantico Cycle political-military fantasy (see A Magic of Twilight and A Magic of Nightfall) is a great finish to a strong saga. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the characters and their divided loyalties make the Farrell mythos seem real. Readers will enjoy the exciting finish in spite of a late spin that some will relish and others question as too simplifying. Newcomers would be better suited reading the previous magical tales first to better appreciate the world S.L. Farrell has constructed as it begins and ends with the city of Nessantico.

Well of Sorrows
Benjamin Tate
9780756406028, $16.00

In the land of Andover, the Twelve Families of the Court prepare for a Feud that will eventually be an all out war tearing apart the country. Citizens from each of the Families travel on ships across the Arduon Ocean to escape the fighting and to settle on land promised to them. Colin Harten and his parents travel to Portstown, which belongs to House Carente, who does not welcome the refugees from the Twelve Families war or their allies.

The Hartens, who belong to the Bontari Family, are forced to live in a city where they cannot find work. The situation gets so bad that the Proprietor ruler of the establishment plans to destroy the Lean-to city where the refugees live. He tells the residents that they can go on a wagon train to begin a new settlement trying to be created by the Family and the Church. Colin's dad leads the wagon train knowing no one who left for the Plains ever returned. They encounter the Alvritshi warriors who warn them to go back. However, the refugees decide to continue though afraid as they have nothing to return to. The Dwarren hate humans who betrayed treaties with them attack them while the dark forest contains Shadows who kill without leaving a trace. Colin barely survives but the Faelehgre spirits of light get him the drink of Life Blood from the Well of Sorrows. He stays there for several years and is no longer human. After six decades he returns to human lands and realizes there is no place for him but he is needed.

This is a huge fantasy in which the above paragraphs fails to even come close to what is going on as the details are extraordinary. Colin obviously plays a critical role in the Colonies now called Provinces. Using the colonization of the Americas as a background, Benjamin Tate builds his own fantasized world that seems real and most critical the three prime species seem genuine. Mindful of Kate Elliot and, Terry Goodkind. Fans will enjoy this strong thrill er while anticipating the next installment.

A Legacy of Daemons
Camille Bacon-Smith
9780756406035, $7.99

They are upscale Philadelphia private investigators specializing in all things supernatural, but that is mostly because the three partners are part of the paranormal community. Brad and Lilly are full blooded daemons of the house of Ariton who live in their spirit form in the second celestial sphere; the one closest to the first sphere which contains earth. Evan Davis is a half-breed son of Brad, an abomination who should not exist, but for now Ariton is staying his hand and will not kill him.

Everyone is shocked when Matt Shields (who is really a daemon) asks Evan to bid for a box at Sotheby's. He was a daemon who was forcibly bound to the evil Donne family forced to do their biding. Now that the last Donne is dead he is still bound to the box and can't leave the earth for home. Inside the box is another daemon who has gone mad from centuries of captivity. Bound by the contract Evan signed and their Princes of the Host s agreed to. The trio must find the box and free the daemon trapped inside. There are many obstacles and enemies to overcome in order to get the box. Evan remains ignorant how much power he possesses to destroy his adversaries, but makes the wrong move when challenged by the Princes of Ariton and Paimon.

This urban fantasy like its predecessors (see Eye of the Demon and Eyes of the Empress) is loaded with action, but is character driven. Brad to his shock has feelings towards his offspring although he refuses to admit they exist even to him. Evan feels upbeat to learn he is not insane as his differences are due to his legacy not his brain failing him. Lilly and Evan are lovers who make a formidable pair and she is incredibly powerful as is Brad who is part of their "family" unit. Camille Bacon-Smith affirms she is a great fantasist who pioneered the urban fantasy genre.

The Killing Room
John Manning
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780786017997, $6.99,

For nine years and three hundred and sixty-four days, the Young Mansion in Maine is an ordinary home. The room that remains locked always is quiet except on the first day of a new decade. A sacrifice of a family member must be made so every ten y ears a lottery is held and the selected one is left inside the room.

This has been going on since 1930 with everyone who spent time in the room dead except for one survivor. Since the room is locked, the other family members assume the people commit suicide except for that one female who lived, but her mind was fried and spent four decades inside a padded cell. The patriarch Howard Young hires former FBI Agent Carolyn Cartwright who has dealt with supernatural cases to find a way to break the curse. Carolyn knows her first step is to learn what happened in 1930 in that room and the second step is to pray she and the Young family survive the truth.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy the locked room mystery inside a haunted house tale reminiscent of early King and Koontz. There is a steady growing tension as the answers to the cause percolates, but the solution seems to never boil to the surface. John Manning provides the audience with a chilling tale as the heroine knows there is only one way to learn the truth.

The Perfect Woman
James Andrew
9780786022151, $6.99

John Stallings is a police detective in the Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff's Office Missing Person's Unit. Most of those assigned to this division use it as a step up the ladder. Stallings asked for the transfer after his oldest daughter Jeanie vanished three years ago. Now he spends his free time looking for runaways so he can help them while he and his family struggle with a return to normalcy. However, a case hits home, which leads to Stallings distancing himself from his loved ones as he diligently seeks the Bagman.

A serial killer the Bagman is William Dremmel, a pharmacy store clerk and part-time community college science teacher. He abducts young runaways in order to perform drug experiments on his victims until they die. While following a tip on a runaway, he finds a corpse. The lieutenant adds Stallings to the investigation, which angers lead detective Mazzetti as each despises the other. When the Bagman kidnaps a female close to both cops, they team up to try and save her.

The Perfect Woman is a taut action-packed police procedural that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat throughout. Stallings is wonderful as his family life is fragile because no one has moved on from the vanishing of Jeanie and he hides from his loved ones with his obsessive dedication to the job . Various characters tell the tale in a third person voice to include the Bagman, which adds to the gritty realism of capturing the serial killer before the next female is dead.

The Singer's Gun
Emily St. John Mandel
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
9781936071647, $24.95,

In Manhattan Anton Waker knows he has come a long way from his days as a forger of documents although to do so he must distance himself from his family who deal in illegal activities. He is a water systems consultant in demand, has a pretty wife and an office romance on the side.

However, his past that he prefers to pretend never happened resurfaces when a routine background check proves his Harvard diploma hanging on his office wall is forged. Adding to his trepidation that life as he knows it and enjoys is over is his cousin, Aria Waker, who sells forged passports and social security cards to illegals. She demands Anton use his excellent forgery skill in what should prove a quite lucrative venture. However, a fourth woman enters his life and frightens him more than his relatives. State Department Agent Alexandra Broden is investigating a forgery ring in which she is almost ready to make arrests starting with the extended Waker brood but has not figured out Anton's r ole nor that of his secretary Elena with her Arctic secrets.

This is an interesting crime caper that takes the audience to Brooklyn, Arctic Canada and Italy as an obsessed Fed goes after a family criminal ring. Overall the story line is fast-paced and contains an intriguing cast. However, too many flashbacks that explain what makes the key players (especially Anton, Broden and Elena) tick detracts from the pacing as it feels disruptive. Sti ll this is an entertaining cross Atlantic thriller.

The Clouds Roll Away
Sibella Giorello
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595545343, $14.99,

With her mother Nadine's mental state tottering, FBI agent Raleigh Harmon is working out of her hometown Richmond, Virginia office. However, her latest boss makes it clear that she is not wanted at this field office.

Her supervisor assigns Raleigh two impossible cases to solve within a month. Each is convoluted but Raleigh gives her best starting with the burning of the Cross civil rights Federal hate crime at Rapland and her other inquiry into a drug case. As time begins to run out, Raleigh expects another transfer, but being tough she refuses to quit. Instead her forensic geologist skills soon have her investigating an even bigger crime when her two cases converge.

The two Rs (Raleigh and Richmond) combine into a strong police procedural as the former depending on her faith to keep her going. She refuses to quit while working the historical mansions (owned by celebs) and the mean streets. The investigations are terrific as Raleigh is left out there by herself to fail while the evolution vs. creation argument is deftly handled. Her personal life is so smoggy from her former boyfriend, those she trusts and more so those she distrusts inside the agency, and her mom. Readers who enjoy a mentally tough female cop will want to read Raleigh's Richmond cases.

Dragonfly Falling
Adrian Tchaikovsky
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616141950, $16.00,

For generations, the methodical Wasp kinden Empire has slowly conquered the Lowlands. Only recently has some enlightened members of the other species realize the perilous threat of the advancing Wasp horde.

Currently the Wasp army threatens Collegium, a city with a mix of opinions as the resistance is strong here and so are the deniers. Stenwold so far has failed to persuade the Collegium leadership that the Wasp threat endangers the city.

In Tark, Totho and Salma are arrested as spies by a fearful of strangers law enforcement officials who determine guilt based mainly on one's status. They are released, but seemingly too late as the Wasp army has the city under siege.

This is a fascinating second tale (see Empire in Black and Gold) in a unique fantasy series in which the world built by Adrian Tchaikovsky engages the audience. The strife is reminiscent of the Greco-Persan Wars (the movie 300 is one major battle), but with the refreshing insectoid spin. Fans who appreciate something different in their military-social fantasies will want to read the strong Shadows of the Apt saga as a deep entrenched caste system struggles with survival since the invasion changes everything previously accepted as the divine order.

The Last Christian
David Gregory
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781400074976, $14.99,

In 2088, the unknown disease has devastated the small Inisi village. Desperate, Christian missionary Abigail Caldwell leaves the jungle for the first time in eight years seeking help for those surviving. She is found dehydrated and taken to Meriden Hospital in Lae where she is treated by American Dr. Kate Sampson. The two women fly by helicopter to the village only to find everyone dead.

Grieving as she loved the villagers, Abby goes to America after receiving an odd missive from her neuroscientist grandfather, an inventor of brain transplants. She is stunned to find Christianity is dead in America, but she vows to lead the crusade to bring it back from the grave. However, her grandfather is also dead. His death leads her to History Professor Creighton Daniels, whose father like Abby's grandfather and villagers suddenly died. The duo join forces to investigate what is going on. They soon discover a plot to evolve mankind into eternal non-believers transhumans with silicon based brains and no one will stop them; not even two people grounded in faith that God created Adam and Eve.

The Last Christian is a terrific futuristic thriller in which the religious elements come across (no pun intended) as powerful and refreshing while the political spin felt mechanical, a rehashing of early twenty-first century DC paralysis. Fast-paced with two strong believers as champions, sub-genre fans will want to join these David's as they battle Goliaths with plans to make mankind in their image.

Kristen Heitzmann
9781400073092, $13.99

In Redford, Colorado, the first animal mutilations were a couple of raccoons; other ghastly remains soon follow. Disturbed by the grisly sights, police chief Jonah Westfall investigates because he knows how quickly these gruesome horrors can worsen to include human mutilation. At the same time he is concern ed over the rising drug trafficking that seems to have swamped the area.

Jonah has his own personal issues starting with his father's legacy and his own history that requires abstemiousness. He also hopes to feel worthy enough to one day ask Tia Manning to share a future with him; if he has one. However, first he must end the animal mutilations that are becoming more frequent and frenzied.

This is an entertaining romantic police procedural due to the efforts of Jonah to solve the case and deserve in his mind the love of Tia, who already has given her heart to him. The culprit is not concealed so the suspense is somewhat muted and the perpetrator's motive seems over the top of the Rocky Mountains. Still the coupling of Jonah and Tia make for a wonderful Colorado romantic suspense.

Flight Of Shadows
Sigmund Brouwer
9781400070336, $13.99

Her genetic code makes Caitlyn Brown the most wanted person on the planet as her DNA enables her to do almost anything. However, all she wants to do is remain in hiding as her back deformity makes her believe she is the ultimate pariah.

However, the affluent in a world filled with poverty want more and she is the source. They go after her with only Razor the illusionist as her ally although she distrusts him. She hopes he can guide her to friends while the Feds and a twisted bounty hunter, all working for the rich, pursue her. As Caitlyn learns who she is, she is caught in a quandary not just between two men she cherishes and believes love her; but in terms of choosing life for her and extinction for humanity or death for her and life for mankind.

Flight of Shadows is an exciting cautionary tale that extrapolates from current trends to paint a dismal future with the heroine treated as a Typhoid Mary if she fails to do the bidding of the powerful. Caitlyn makes the tale work holding together the exhilarating hunt for her. Although the philosophical ethical issues could have been explored even deeper, readers will appreciate Caitlyn's dilemma; mindful of Ursula Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven, but perhaps Hell is more descriptive.

The Fallen
Mark Terry
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781933515755, $25.95,

The economic summit of the expanded G20 is being held at Cheyenne Resort in Colorado Springs. As expected security is extremely tight as the American agencies along with their counterparts from the other participating nations are everywhere insuring no terrorist incident occurs.

However, in spite of the safeguards seemingly within seconds of the opening gavel, a group breaches security and takes hostage all twenty leaders and others. Led by Richard Coffee, the first demand is the freeing of twenty detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison; for every hourly delay one of the leaders will be executed. There is little choice except to give into Coffee's demands. However, posing as a maintenance worker, undercover black ops agent Derek Stillwater is the last hope. His plan is to eliminate the enemy efficiently one at a time and effectively neutralize the adversaries until he meets his former compatriot Richard "The Fallen Angel" Coffee.

The Fallen is an exhilarating thriller that grips the audience with the initial grab and though somewhat changes pace never let's go of the reader's attention. The story line is a fast-paced adrenalin rush, but ironically it is the debates between various leaders as to how to react to the terrorist abductions that makes the tale super. Thriller fans will want to read the Fallen who have legitimate complaints against their respective governments betraying them and ponder whether kick butt Cheney would say no negotiations with terrorists if he or one his family were the expendable hostages.

The Body Mafia
Stacy Dittrich
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843962895, $7.99,

In Mansfield, Ohio Richland Metropolitan Police Department Major Crimes Division Detective CeeCee Gallagher is engulfed by police obviously at work but also at home. Her family, friends, and former family are all cops. Her first husband was a cop and his wife is a cop while CeeCee's second spouse Michael Hagerman is an FBI agent.

CeeCee is assigned to investigate who dropped a hand onto a woman's car. As she digs deeper, her case turns into a homicide inquiry. At the same Michael's top secret investigation has the Fed tied up in knots too. Soon the couple finds their respective cases disrupting their lives and soon that of other family members as well. This is the norm for law enforcement officials, but takes a grieving ugly twist for CeeCee.

This is an emotional police procedural in which the readers get deep into the fragility of the mind when grief enters an investigation. The audience will feel for the heroine as her anguish seems to fog up her judgment, but she refuses to give up on a case that everyone else says needs to go cold. The Body Mafia is a terrific tale reminding readers that cops are human too. See The Devil's Closet and Mary Jane's Grave for other CeeCee cases.

Destined to Last
Alissa Johnson
9780843962529, $7.99

She should be the Ton's top gem of the season, but alas Lady Kate Cole is not. Men avoid her as if she has the Black Plague out of fear of her propensity for accidents could harm them too. Kate knows she is the klutz of the century, but tries her best to avoid accidents. Yet no matter what she does, nothing goes right.

Government agent Andrew Hunter is the only exception to the male populace when it comes to kissable Kate. He wants her as his and actually enjoys the fact that she is a diamond in the rough. Andrew is assigned to watch over her at a party, an assignment he relishes. As he brings her into his smuggler's investigation, Andrew has so much material things he can provide to her; Kate only wants one thing in the world; a man who loves clumsy her as much as she does him.

The key to this humorous delightful Regency is the heroine who is so different than the usual sub-genre females. Kate makes the tale with her clumsiness that has every male running away from her as she is a hazard to one's health. The exception is the hero who is used to dangerous adventures and believes a lifetime with his beloved will prove the most satisfying dangerous adventure of them all. This is a terrific tongue in cheek historical as Alissa Johnson lampoons the perfect Regency female.

The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather
Alexandra Potter
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452295889, $15.00,

A decade ago twenty-one years old American college grad Charlotte Merryweather arrived in London. She quickly realized she was an uncouth moron when it came to class and style. Thus she reengineered herself from the idiot with the scrunchie hairdo into the guru of style.

Now thirtyish Charlotte seeks a new home for her and her long time boyfriend while she and her office assistant Beatrice try to persuade a perspective new client to go with her company. However, she is stunned on the morning commute when she sees someone in a battered ugly orange Beetle who looks like her ten years ago. Unable to resist, Charlotte follows her younger self doppelganger home. She soon realizes this is her as twenty-one years old Lottie the loser. Thinking she has a second chance to avoid the stupid mistakes she made back then, Charlotte plans to mentor herself but begins to learn that her choices were super a decade ago as they led to her success; but recently have been poor as she had forgotten the lessons learned.

This is an entertaining chick lit tale in which the mature Lottie learns much more than her naive younger version. Although time paradox issues are ignored, the two Lottie's make for a charming tale as the thirtyish woman begins to understand that she got to where she is today due to the unsophisticated twentyish version. Readers will enjoy this fine tale as the older heroine learns life lessons.

No Distance Too Far
Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764206108, $14.99,

In 1904 Dr. Astrid Bjorklund decides to practice her calling in Africa as the third generation in her family to do God's work. However, she prays her beloved Joshua Landsverk understands her desire. Instead they have an argument and she leaves for the east to attend missionary training.

In Blessing, North Dakota a deadly measles epidemic threatens those residing on the Red Bud Indian Reservation. Her friend Dr. Hawk asks for her medical assistance. Rushing back to help, Astrid wonders if her missionary calling is closer to home as she follows God's message.

The second Home to Blessing historical novel (see Measure of Mercy) is an entertaining early twentieth century tale that focuses on the personal life of a female missionary. Astrid believes she has been called by the Lord to serve, but where as the need in the Dakotas is great but Africa has been her destination goal. Although at times the pace is a bit slow due to the deep concentration on practicing medicine in 1904 in substandard environs, the strong cast makes for a profound historical.

The Wave
Tom Miller
Sherman Asher Publishing
126 Candelario Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
9781890932381, $18.95

The earthquake was 6.8, but though it seemed impossible, a massive 20-foot tsunami wave followed devastating the Big Island of Hawaii killing many in Honolulu and elsewhere. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center failed to send out the alarm on time partly due to human error and mostly the inability to predict this could have happened with a relatively low level earthquake.

Soon after that disaster, marine biologist Dr. Scott Richardson is studying undersea activity to try to learn what caused the landslide that led to the tsunami. He asks his former Navy SEAL buddy Chuck Palmer to help as he needs an experienced diver covering his back. Angry at his wife for concealing a critical truth in their relationship, he leaves Malibu for Hawaii. As the pa ir of former SEALs, with the help of others, explores the ocean floor around Hawaii, what they find frightens them and their cohorts. However, thugs perhaps working for the Governor want them stopped as tourism is how the islands survive.

This is an exhilarating thriller that extrapolates scientific data on undersea earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and tsunamis to paint an incredible action-packed tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the first wave struck and never slows down as the mega tsunami is coming. Although the hitmen subplot adds suspense, it feels inanely out of place in comparison to the strong scientific fact-finding as increasingly a monster tsunami caused by earthquakes and volcanoes frighten the scientists on the project as that would devastate the Pacific Rim including the American West Coast.

The Bridegrooms
Allison Pittman
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601421371, $13.99,

In the winter of 1881 in Cleveland while it is snowing Mama left. Her husband the doctor and her four young daughters are stunned by her disappearance. The oldest eight years old Vada Allenhouse raises her three siblings (Hazel, Althea, and Lisette) while their father buries himself in his work.

In 1898 the Brooklyn Bridegrooms baseball team arrives to play the local Cleveland Spiders. A line drive knocks out a spectator. The unconscious unidentified fan is rushed to Dr. Allenhouse for treatment. There Vada meets the Cleveland manager and third baseman Oliver "Patsy" Tebeau and other players like Lucky. Soon the baseball players court the four sisters, which Vada finds exciting as her boyfriend Garrison Walker, third chair at the East Cleveland Terrington Community Orchestra boring.

Though readers will need a scorecard to keep track of all the players especially the double play combinations, Allison Pittman provides a warm uplifting historical romance that also pays home to the roots of the national pastime. Readers will feel they are in Cleveland just before the turn of the previous century (and prior to the American League forming); mindful of Meet Me In St. Louis. With a wonderful walk-off homer, baseball and Americana romance fans will appreciate following the escapades on and off the field of the Bridegrooms and the four Allenhouse females whose hearts are stolen.

The House On Sugar Plum Lane
Judy Duarte
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758238948, $15.00,

Amy Masteron's marriage to workaholic Brandon was already shaky when her mom died. Deciding to take over her mother's quest to find her birth family, a determined Amy begins a search that leads to a great-grandmother Eleanor Rucker, who surprisingly remains alive living with assistance in Fairbrook. While Brandon is confused by their marriage collapsing, Amy accompanied by her five years old daughter Callie moves to Fairbrook where she rents Ellie's Victorian, but conceals her ties to learn more about her maternal roots.

However, Amy realizes she is running out of time as Ellie's mind is failing with memories vanishing. Amy is heartbroken with this sad twist of fate, but like the townsfolk, she prays for a miracle re family. Brandon hopes for one too with his being the return of his two women back in his life.

This is an entertaining character study as Judy Duarte takes her fans back to Fairbrook (see Entertaining Angels and Mulberry Park) where miracles are known to happen, but not in the way the recipient asked. The key cast members (to include several townsfolk as well as the Masterson trio) learn lessons of faith and the importance of loved ones. The House on Sugar Plum Lane is a warm yet profound tale of allowing and accepting second chances at relationships.

Instant Temptation
Jill Shalvis
Kensington Brava
9780758231277, $14.00

In the Sierras, T.J. Wilder and his brothers Cam (see Instant Attraction) and Stone (see Instant Gratification) run Wilder Adventures, a wilderness outfitter firm. Having obtained a degree in wildlife biology Harley Stephens has returned home to Wishful, California hoping to land a research assignment in Colorado, but accepts any job for now that will lead to her achieving her goal.

T.J. and Harley knew each other in high school before she left for college. They are attracted to one another, but neither wants to explore their feelings as both fears commitment. However, when they go into the wilderness to check on her failing cameras that are studying a rare coyote breed, they cannot resist any longer.

The third Wilder wilderness romance is a fun tale of two people attracted to one another even in high school but denying their feelings. T.J. and Harley share personality traits that lead to the conclusion that unlike opposites who allegedly attract similar are parallel lines unless something forces them to converge. Although the clash between the lead couple feels minor, fans will enjoy love's rocky ride in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Love, Unexpectedly
Susan Fox
Kensington Brava
9780758238269, $14.00

Nav Bharani has wanted to change his relationship with Kat Fallon from best friend to lover. However, she has always rejected his slightest move as she insists she does not wish to risk their friendship. Now he believes he has the perfect opportunity to persuade her otherwise as they travel by sleeper train across Canada to attend her sister's wedding in Vancouver.

To convince her they belong together, Nav masquerades as different people with diverse personalities. As he makes snail progress, he runs up against her sexual issues, grudges and commitment fears. However, he soon realizes he has his phobias too that prevent the real Nav from simply saying to his BFF that he loves her.

This is an enjoyable train ride across Canada as the lead couple begins to understand their feelings especially love and fear. Kat may seem like the one with all the commitment issues, but Nav and readers realize as he poses as "strangers" he has a major problem to confront also. With a throwback feel to the madcap romantic comedies of the 1930s, fans will appreciate Susan Fox's fine character driven tale of Love, Unexpectedly.

The Jaguar Prince
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
9780758238368, $14.00

Callie Jordan was a newborn left at an orphanage by someone who failed to stick around to see if she was okay. She grew up depending on no one but herself. Thus working at a zoo is perfect for her.

New Symtaria Prince Rogar seeks his people's colonists and their mixed-species offspring. His goal is to bring everyone back to New Symtaria where he can insure their safety from a murderous alien. When he first sees Callie at the zoo, she cannot believe a streaker would come here to compare his parts to that of the well endowed chimps. Later he arrives at her apartment still in his birthday suit as a man and as a jaguar. He explains her heritage to her; as she considers the first hanging hunk wanting her is a head-case. While someone wants them dead neither the royal purebred shapeshifter or the orphan hybrid expected t he attraction between them.

This is an amusing romantic fantasy starring two likable lead characters. The underlying premise is mindful in some ways of Witch Mountain although Karen Kelley's plot is meant for adults. Although the villain seems feeble, sub-genre fans will enjoy the jocular frolic of ET falling in love with the perfect commoner, a zookeeper used to animal behavior.

Succubus Shadows
Richelle Mead
9780758232007, $15.00

Succubus Georgina Kincaid knows the unknown is stalking her as the beast can enter her mind, influence her thoughts, and get her to do almost anything. She barely prevents the mental invader from persuading her to commit suicide. Georgina realizes how difficult it is to defeat a foe of which you have no earthly or hellish idea of what it is.

Since her employer archdemon Jerome and her angel friend Carter cannot detect any malevolence around her or inside her, each fears for Georgina's sanity. Making matters worse is her BFF Maddie asks her to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to Seth; the man Georgina loves while Simone the sexy succubus spins Seth's soul.

Succubus Shadows is a refreshing lighthearted humorous frolic with a profound depth to the exhilarating urban fantasy story line. Georgina is troubled on two extreme fronts: the jocularity subplot focuses on who will end up with Seth while the seriousness theme concentrates on the assault on her mind from an unknown entity that is driving her mad and having her consider suicide. Readers will fully appreciate this fine entry as Richelle Mead makes a case that there is a lot of landscape between the polar extremes of heavenly goodness and hellish malevolence.

Cool Like That
Nikki Carter
Kensington Dafina
9780758234421, $9.95

Her mom Gwen has some doubts about Gia spending the summer in New York City especially since Ricky is going to attend the same enrichment program although the pair are just best friends. Gwen and her spouse Gia's stepdad LeRon set rules for the two high school seniors as does Ricky's mom.

Gia desperately wants her crush Ricky to make a move on her, but so far he has not so she prays the summer with no parents or siblings will encourage him as she wants to be his squeeze and not just his BF. When he does not and another cutie Rashad makes a move, Gia apparently adopts a new crush. Ricky is crushed as he wants her to be his girl.

This is an engaging young adult romance starring a teen drama queen and the two hunks in her life. Once Rashad forms the triangle, the fun begins and never slows down until the final beach scene. Readers will enjoy Cool Like That as Gia's soundtrack in her head includes Chrisette Michele, Beyonce, Ledisi and Mariah Carey, etc, but should also have her singing ancient history's Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? (Lovin' Spoonful)

Death Of A Trophy Wife
Laura Levine
9780758238450, $22.00

Los Angeles freelance writer Jaine Austen accompanies her friend Neiman Marcus shoe guru Lance to the Beverly Hills estate of "Marvelous Marv, the Mattress King" as the man's wife is his best customer. However, Bunny is nasty to everyone including Jaine, but soon after sipping her martini she falls to the ground dead.

Someone put cyanide in Bunny's martini. Since the queen of mean was universally loathed, there are plenty of suspects. However, the Beverly Hills police hone in on Lance who has an additional motive. He inherits the victim's, $175,000 Maserati. Jaine knows Lance would not kill a major customer so having success in solving homicides before (see Killer Cruise); she investigates and finds several viable suspects amidst the extended fam ily members.

This is a wild over the top of the Sierras amateur sleuth who-dome-it as the eccentric cast brings to life Los Angeles with an amusing spin. Jaine dodges the marital demands of Uzbekistani Vladimir Ivan Trotsky, which is amusing but takes the reader away from her investigation. Still fans will enjoy Jaine's latest whodunit.

Julia Templeton
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238160, $14.00

Widow Lilith Winthrop chaperones her nieces around the London galas. Having suffered from an unfaithful husband who humiliated her all the time, Lilith has no interest in men. That is until she meets the virile younger Victor Rayborne, whose boudoir reputation is stratospheric; just ask his mother.

He persuades her to enter into a tryst with him. As their lovemaking is hot, they begin to fall in love. However when his former mistress makes a bid to get him back, Lilith's doubts after a lifetime with a cheat drives her from her beloved. Even after he professes he loves her, she hesitates so he burns the sheets with his beloved to show he desires her and only her and to eradicate her last doubt as only a Rakehell of Rochester could.

The latest Rakehells of Rochester Regency romance is an engaging historical starring a fascinating lead couple whose older woman premise beings some freshness to the plot. An entertaining tale, Victor's victory fails to match Sinjinn's sexy saga partly because fans already know mom caught her three offspring in a brothel. Still though lacking that mother originality, Julia Templeton provides a heated Regency as the younger man uses every seductive ruse he knows in order to live up to his name and win the heart (he has won the body) of the woman he loves.

Final Target
Steven Gore
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590587492, $24.95,

Katie sends the letter to the FBI in San Francisco that President Matson of Surveillance and Targeting Technologies (SatTek) of San Jose was conducting illegal offshore money dumping. The whistleblower remembers her Russian name is Ekaterina just before she is killed.

International lawyer, Jack Burch is shot while jogging. He remains in a coma in a San Francisco Medical hospital. At about the same time Matson plea bargains with Assistant U.S. Attorney William Peterson over his jail time for embezzling three hundred million dollars in an offshore dumping. He blames the affair on comatose Burch, his attorney in setting up the offshore firms.

While the Feds led by Peterson salivate over hanging Burch for the white collar crimes and subsequent corporate collapse, his best friend private investigator Graham Gage rejects the theory of criminal activity by his buddy. He searches for the shooter and soon also who killed the whistleblower. He and his team begin to find ties between Matson and the Ukrainian mafia with links to that country's presidency; treason apparently in two nations but the Feds prefers to not go that route.

This is a great financial investigative thriller that grips readers with Katie's dying opening act and never slows down as Gage leads an inquiry that spans several nations in two continents while the Feds choose the easier low road. Fast-paced and gripping, sub-genre fans will relish Steven Gore's strong tale that the author states in the afterward is based on real events of which he probed. Note to Poisoned Pen readers: this book was released as a mass market by HarperCollins in February.

The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles
Ken Kuhlken
Poisoned Pen
9781590586976, $24.95

In 1926 in Echo Park in Los Angeles, Negro Frank Gaines is lynched near the temple of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, but the two major newspapers remain silent re the murder. Dance orchestra lead Tom Hickey learns about the death of a friend from an underground paper. He asks his neighbor LAPD Defective Leo Weiss if in deed the lynching occurred and if yes what Police Chief Davis is doing about it. Leo says yes and no to the first question as Gaines was murdered, but the cops are insisting nothing happened.

Tom investigates the murder starting with a visit to Aimee Semple McPherson's Angelus Temple. However, he soon is followed and beaten up with warnings from speakeasy owner and Klansman Leo that if he fails to drop his inquiry, his new enemies will insure he does so permanently even as he concludes local political corruption led to th e lynching.

Although there is too much going on between 1926 cop-business-politician-newspaper-evangelist connections, the orchestra, the hero's family life (especially his sister) and the investigation; readers will enjoy this fast-paced historical amateur sleuth mystery. The story line focuses on Los Angeles during the Roaring Twenties that comes to light through Tom's eyes. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles about to be exposed by a sermon of Aimee Semple McPherson.

Deadline Man
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen
9781590587140, $24.95

The Seattle Free Press newspaper Columnist meets with an occasional source hedge fund manager Troy Hardesty. After completing the discussion that mentioned something called "Eleven-Eleven, the Columnist leaves. Outside the downtown office building, an explosion occurs as Troy falls 20 stories from the balcony of his office.

At the Free Press, the Columnist learns the paper is near bankruptcy and will either be sold or closed within two months. He is unconcerned though newspaper is his blood. Instead he thinks of his love life until a streetwalker screams at him: "Eleven-eleven." Another death occurs with the victim having Eleven-eleven etched on his ankle. Soon afterward men claiming to be Feds demand the Columnist tell them what Troy told him. The Columnist and cub reporter Amber Burke investigate Eleven-eleven as a deadline approaches.

The Deadline Man is an exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the moment Hardesty dives twenty stories and never slows down throughout until the climax. The subplot of a dying newspaper augments the tale with a sense of reality. Well-written, this tense tale will hook fans who, like the reporters, will need to know what is Eleven-eleven.

A Touch Of Scandal
Jenifer Haymore
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446540278, $6.99,

In 1823 her brother William Fisk orders his younger sister Katherine to accept the position of lady's maid to his wife Lady Rebecca. He warns her to do his bidding as his domestic spy reporting what his spouse does or else she, their ailing younger brother, and their mom will be cut off. Katie knows how ruthless her sibling is and agrees for the sake of her family.

Having hid her identity from her mistress, Katie is attracted to Rebecca's brother Garrett, the Duke of Calton, who arrives in Kenilworth. However, as she falls in love with him, Katie learns that her beloved Garrett is in town to kill his brother-in-law after what William did at Waterloo during the war and to free his sister from unholy matrimony to this lunatic. In turn William wants Garrett dead too. Each demands Katie believe and trust them; forcing her in a predicament to choose between her sibling that means her family too and her soul mate.

This powerful Regency romantic suspense has a lot more going on than just the above with each additional complication enhancing the tense tale. Katie is a brave person while Garrett seems to have recovered from his shocker in A Hint of Wicked and William is diabolically clever and unhinged. Loaded with action from the moment readers understand Katie's feelings of imprisonment, sub-genre fans will enjoy her escapades as she struggles with the conflicting dilemmas of love demanding loyalty to her family or her heart.

Forbidden Passion
Rita Herron
9780446199490, $6.99

Demons trained Dante Zertlav when he was thirteen years old to kill humans. He used his ability to toss fireballs at people with uncanny skill to the pleasure of his mentor Father Gio; failure in any sense meant torturous punishment. However, his final initiation test was to kill young Marlena Bender as a sacrifice to Helzebar, but he envied her innocent laugher along side her older sister and mom. He failed to complete the assignment helping Marlena to safety and he became ostracized by his demonic community.

Two decades later, he is sheriff of Mysteria where he was trained by Father Gio; while Marlena has become a research scientist studying why people become violent. When she returns to the place where her nightmares began, Marlena knows Dante is the one who saved her life. While a killer is on the loose, they begin to fall in love. However, she a pure good human while he has the DNA of evil; neither considered his father manipulating both behind the scenes.

The latest Demon Born romantic fantasy (see Insatiable Desire and Dark Hunger) is a terrific entry as the intrepid heroine and her demonborn champion fall in love while he realizes the serial killings are planned to culminate with the completion of the interrupted Marlena's sacrifice. Filled with action perhaps too much as some subplots never develop, Dante investigates a twisted case while also keeping the human he cherishes safe though he denies himself the dream of her at his side forever.

Dark Deceptions
Dee Davis
9780446542012, $6.99

Eight years ago Annie Gallagher and Nash Brennon were partners at the CIA and lovers outside of work. Their professional and personal relationships ended during the Benoit incident in Paris when she realized they could never be a normal couple. Although he seemed to move on without a look back; she sees his face everyday when she stares at their son Adam.

When someone kidnaps Adam, the culprit informs Annie to kill U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Blake Dominco if she wants her child back alive. At the same time, the CIA assigns Nash to bring in Annie who they believe has betrayed her country. When they meet, she pleads with the father of her child to give her time to save her kid although she hides who the father is and claims Adam is six. Upset, he must choose between his feelings for her and the cold facts of treason especially when the assassins move forward with their scheme.

Dark Deceptions is an action-packed international romantic suspense thriller that never stops for a beat (except for a kiss here and there). The story line grips the audience as each step of the way affirms Annie as a traitor; which confirms Nash's belief she deserted him when he needed back-up, leaving him to die. Readers will relish this powerful terrorist thriller as betrayal and distrust seem to supersede love.

A Touch Of Scandal
Jennifer Haymore
9780446540278, $6.99

In 1823 in Kenilworth, England, William Fisk forces his sister Kate to work as a lady's maid to his wife Rebecca by threatening their mother and brother if she fails to spy on his spouse. Kate likes her employer who is nice to her and others; unlike her mean-spirited sibling.

When Kate and Garrett James meet; they are attracted to one another instantly. However, though he seems much kinder than her cruel brother in spite of the scars he obtained during the war, she learns of his secret agenda. Having lived with amnesia in Belgium until recently, Garrett has come to free his sister Rachel from her vicious spouse by killing William for what he did to him and their brothers at arms during the Napoleonic conflict. William also want s Garret dead. The two deadly rivals pull on Kate's loyalty, but she distrusts both of them; choosing who she deems is best for Rebecca, her mom and her other brother to receive her support.

This is a fascinating late Regency romance from the moment Kate and Garrett meet at the pool and never slows down as one secret after another is revealed. Character driven mostly by the twin competing engines of love and hate, readers will needs little time to adapt to all that is going on as there are several subplots fueled by the battling adversaries. Although William contains no redeeming qualities, sub-genre fans will know it will be worth the time as A Touch of Scandal is an exciting historical.

Mira Grant
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316081054, $9.99,

2014 is the year that has gone down infamy as blogger Georgia Mason notes twenty-six years later that everyone has someone on the Wall. Sometimes the cure proves worse than the disease as that is the year cancer and the cold were cured but the remedy led to a more powerful disease. The Rising virus spread throughout humanity taking over the body and mind of every dead host with one command: Feed. Only social networking saved society from total destruction.

In 2039, Senator Peter Ryman runs for president. He is the first realistic candidate for the top office from the new generation born after the world was somewhat saved from the zombies. The Senator invites the popular twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason to cover his campaign from the inside. They are euphoric with the offer even knowing that Ryman understands the value of keeping your potential enemy nearby. At a stop, zombies attack killing Ryman's daughter. However, while the twins learn the power of the press, the government bureaucrats of CDC and a Machiavellian candidate want the bloggers shu down; but it is an influential group of co-conspirators who have ambition beyond the White House and want the bloggers reanimated but will settle for dead.

Told through the perspective of the twins, Feed is a profound action-packed paranormal political thriller that extrapolates from modern trends including epidemiology research, political buying, handling and spins, and blogging superseding mains stream media, but in a way that the audience would not expect. Fast-paced, Mira Grant avoids turning the tale into another zombie horror saga; instead Feed is a political thriller with plenty of hidden handlers working their candidate's almost robotic run for higher office. Readers will appreciate the opening act of the Newsflesh trilogy while looking forward to the middle tale that like many on the Wall begins and ends with an idiot.

Divine Misfortune
A. Lee Martinez
9780316041270, $19.99

On an earth where mortals and Gods co-exist, humans can go on the website to pick a god to worship. At first Teri and Phil reject adopting a god, but after being passed over for a promotion he earned, his car smashed while the other vehicle had no scratches, and his lawn brown compared to green next door, Phil reconsiders his deity belief. They go online and listens to videos until they select raccoon faced Luka, god of prosperity and good luck.

He wants to move in with the couple, but they do not want a god as part of their family. When Lucky leaves, he takes their fortune with him, leaving behind nothing but bad luck. One the chaos god Gorgoz, a deadly primordial ancient deity wants to kill Lucky. Collateral damage and deaths of innocents don't matter to him. When he kidnaps one of Lucky's followers who he is fond of the battle of the gods begins.

Lee Martinez provides a unique amusing tale of Divine Misfortune in which readers will enjoy the serious yet comedic tale. The audience will be fascinated by humans and gods side by side in which the former can select the latter online the latter; of like shopping on Amazon. Teri and Phil bring the seriousness to the mix as everyday people struggling initially without heavenly intervention, but soon struggling with heavenly intervention. The couple must deal with what Luka has wrought to them as Mr. Martinez provides an entertaining thought provoking yet jocular deity fantasy.

The Ark
Boyd Morrison
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439181799, $24.99,

Archeologist Dr. Dilara Kenner flies from Peru to Los Angeles because family friend Sam Watson asked her. They meet at LAX where he informs her; the Ark has been found while cultists plot to eradicate humanity with the release of a disease found on the Ark. Someone accidentally bumps into Sam. As he falls to the floor, Sam realizes that was no accidental bump; he has been poisoned with contact venom and is dying just like Dilara's dad Hasad Arvadi was murdered. Sam's last breath to Dilara, of whom he considers a beloved niece, is to flee to Gordian Engineering's Tyler Locke and with him find Noah's Ark.

Dilara locates Locke on a floating oil rig about two hundred miles off the Newfoundland coast., When her helicopter crashes near his locale, the combat engineer rescues the archeologist. Her father's assassin cult leader Sebastian Ulric plans to release the deadly prion protein in eight days. Tyler and his friend Grant Westfield believe Dilara's tale, but know that no one else will; so they must prevent Ulric 's extinction scheme.

This is an exhilarating quest thriller that grips the audience throughout. The story line is action-packed from the opening contact poisoning scene to several encounters and finally a final battle on Noah's Ark. Fans will appreciate the heroism of the dynamic trio while tensely waiting for their anticipated arrival on the Ark. One caution is not to skip to the last section though the temptation is almost as great as Eve offering Adam the apple as the reader will miss out on some exciting action that leads to the climax.

Invisible Fences
Norman Prentiss
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587671845, $30.00,

Nathan had an ordinary childhood until his half sister died; which plunged his mother into a depression that made her a recluse who could not leave the house nor throw anything out. Their home was covered with piles everywhere making it impossible to walk. Both his parents told him and his sister Pam cautionary tales that made each fear even crossing the street.

Nathan and Pam were in the woods near his best friend Aaron's home. An accident occurs and Aaron falls into the overflowing creek and cannot get out. Neither of his two companions can swim, but both refuse to give up on rescuing Aaron. They come up with an idea, but as they leave the woods with their friend still in the water Aaron curses them. Later Nathan goes to visit Aaron; his friend's brother beats him up.

Nathan and his family move to another state; where he grows up into a male "spinster", afraid to take even the slightest chance. However, after his parents die, something from their warnings surfaces to challenge Nathan's Invisible fences that allow no risks.

The child is the adult as the impressionable boy is frightened by his parents by their stories into fearing life. Nathan faces a supernatural essence that is a horror from his childhood; leaving readers to wonder if he psychologically created his demon. This is a chilling tale as Norman Prentiss provides a profound look at the child inside the adult whose fear is palpable while the audience wonders if it is externally real or internal psychosomatically real.

White Rainbow
Karen Wiesner
Uncial Press
2550 SW 204th Avenue, Aloha, OR 97006

On a gloomy wet day in January 2009 Flint the "Black Knight" Jackson rejoices at the funeral of his father; a man he broke when he stole the business that his dearest dad built from the feeble old man. The Black Knight never forgave his father for relocating the family from Milwaukee to Chicago to start that business when Flint was a tweener while his preadolescent girlfriend Jessie Nelson moved to California ignoring his pleading she come with him. Next on his list is Jessie's business Nelson Cosmetics.

However, Flint's plan that was almost completed was derailed by a car accident fifteen months after watching gleefully his dad being buried. Two months later extremely an selfish Jessie is found not breathing in a back alley, but the EMTs save her life. She vows to turn her life around making up for all those people she has hurt over the years and volunteering at the Milwaukee Wayward Angels shelter. Now three decades since they went their separate ways, Flint has returned to her and Milwaukee seeking atonement like Jessie with his second chance at life. Both are stunned that their youthful attraction remains strong.

The sixth Wounded Warrior tale stars two interesting lead characters who share in common a life of destroying others until both face death and know miraculously they survived. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a bitter cynical Flint watches with joy from a distance his father buried mad never slows down until the pirate and his lady find one another. Christian romance readers will enjoy the redemption second chance at love tale.

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther
Ginger Garrett
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434768018, $14.99,

In the month of Av in the year 3414 since the creation, Hadassah the orphan is a Jew in exile as the people lost the war and their homeland. She lives in Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire, with her cousin Mordecai who saved her life. However, her tale is that of her becoming Esther, one of the wives o f King Xerxes and ultimately savior of her people.

This is a well written biblical biographical fiction of one of the heroines of the Old Testament. Using the real recent flood of antiquity items sold in the black market as a way of having Esther tell her tale in her "diary", Ginger Garrett provides her audience with a terrific rendition of a strong woman whose heroism (along with that of her cousin) is celebrated as Purim; a holiday that Hitler wanted destroyed as he feared a second Esther rising from the ruins of his Final Solution.

The Right Call
Kathy Herman
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434767844, $14.99,

In Sophie Trace, Tennessee, Ethan Langley is home for the summer from the University of Memphis and looks forward to seeing the woman he lov es his friend Vanessa Jessup and her infant son, Carter. However, before Ethan can say hello, a murder shooting at Stanton College leaves his cousin Drew's roommate, Tal Davison dead. Drew tried to save his roommate with mouth to mouth and is traumatized by the incident. Vanessa's mom Police Chief Brill Jessup investigates, but no suspect surfaces. Not long after that the killer murders Drew leaving Ethan traumatized.

Meanwhile to move on past his grief, Ethan focuses on Vanessa until a co-worker from last summer Stedman Reeves seems sympathetic to his loss. However, a panicked Stedman tells Ethan he believes the Police Chief will arrest him for the homicides as he made several bad decisions in life and is being set up to take the fall. He wants to believe the man but the evidence is overwhelming until someone targets him, Vanessa and Carter to ensure he never provides information to the Police Chief.

The third Sophie Trace inspirational tale is a fast-paced police procedural starring Ethan who struggles with making The Right Call, which is not easy to decide what it is though he turns to the wisdom of the Lord to guide him through his perilous trek and his grief. Fast-paced, readers will relish this strong Christian murder mystery while also seeking Brill's two previous cases (see The Real Enemy and The Last Word).

Sweet Temptation
Maya Banks
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425232583, $15.00,

Years after the accidental deaths of his wife Hannah and best friend David, Micah remains a dysfunctional soul avoiding relationships as he hides out in the open in Houston. David's younger sister Angelina misses Micah whom she has loved forever and decides after time at a Miami bondage club to visit him and seduce him so she leaves for Houston. He has doubts but cannot resist the siren of a young woman he used to consider his kid sister.

Angelina begins to learn her beloved's darkest sexual desires. She uses them to make him want her like she does him. As their need for one another grows into deeper mutual attraction, Micah realizes someone is stalking Angelina; he refuses to allow a third person he loves to be hurt.

The latest "sweet" erotic romance (see Sweet Persuasion and Sweet Seduction) is an enjoyable tale of second chance at life. Until Angelina arrives, Micah is a ghost of what he was when he lost the other two thirds of his menage a trois. Angelina brings him back to life with her torrid seduction. Readers will enjoy her efforts to sexually prove she is not kid sister as she learns his hidden BDSM desires and brings both his heads alive.

Sheri WhiteFeather
9780425232439, $15.00

Amber Pontiero rejects a one on one relationship because she prefers to remain emotionally detached. Thus she is euphoric with her menage a trois with Luke and Jay whom she met at a party her mom hosted in New Mexico. However, to her chagrin, the worst that could happen is occurring as she begins to fall in love with one of her bed partners.

One of her mates is looking into Amber's ancestry especially a renowned early twentieth century American gunsmith Curtis Wells visiting England. As he writes a screenplay, he knows how Curtis feels falling in love with Lady Ellen, fiancee of a powerful earl.

Intermingled throughout the erotic contemporary romance is the equally heated historical. Both tales are fun to follow with some fascinating parallels in the plots and with the characterizations. Although Amber is the weakest link as a stereotype rich girl who loves to be naughty, readers will appreciate Sheri WhiteFeather's ultra hot tale of love in two different centuries.

Tease Me
Tracy Wolff
9780451229250, $15.00

Byron Hawthorne fantasizes about the unknown author of the blog What a Girl Wants. He has no idea who she is, but wants to meet her as she has fired up his imagination.

Writer Lacey Richards has given up on men as they cheat and lie. Instead she uses her blog What A Girl Wants to describe her desires, especially her sexual fantasies, as her release. When Byron learns his neighbor who he also has dreamed about is the blogger he has wanted to meet, he challenges Lacey to allow him the opportunity to fulfill her dreams, which he admits will begin to satiate his own fire. However, someone else has a dark interest in the author of What A Girl Wants and in Lacey's research into prostitution; that individual begins a dangerous stalking.

This heated blogging romance with some late suspense is an entertaining erotica that will remind readers what Miss Manners has warned people: be careful with what you put out about yourself on social networks and blogs. The relationship between the neighbors is hot, hotter, and ultimately hottest to the delight of fans; while the suspense subplot adds danger (and a major reason for blogging caution) to a wonderful modern day erotica.

Lies of the Heart
Michelle Boyajian
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670021314, $25.95,

Mentally handicapped student Jerry LaPlante walks calmly into the Warwick Center gym and shoots and kills his speech therapist Nick Burelli who was playing handball with two of his other patients. Jerry stands trial for murder while Nick's grieving widow Katie watches the proceedings and sadly muses over what led to the homicide of h er spouse.

A documentary filmmaker Katie thinks back to her marriage and begins to wonder if the fractured relationship between her and her late husband led to Jerry pulling the trigger. They both befriended Jerry, but though the man is emotionally damaged Katie begins to believe Jerry could sense the resentment angrily flowing back and forth between the couple especially her fears that she will never measure up to her sister and ergo unworthy of Nick. She even considers Jerry killed Nick as a token of his love for Katie.

This is an intriguing character study of surviving tragedy and trauma as Katie struggles with why, but her answers to herself is not the paragon of her husband painted by the prosecutor, but of a raging Nick using Katie's lack of confidence as a weapon in their relationship. Rotating between their past and the present, Katie does not hold the two men responsible only as she knows she hid behind the camera to avoid both especially her spouse. More a powerful psychological drama rather than a legal thriller, readers will enjoy Katie's introspective reflections of her life leads her to draw conclusions wildly diverse from that of the prosecutor.

The Devil's Playground
Jenna Black
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440244943, $7.99,

Exorcist Morgan Kingsley knows not to be complacent as no one has tried to killer in several months. However, because no one has made an attempt does not mean she should ignore her paranoia. Besides her boyfriend, Brian has issues with her sharing her human body with demon king Lugh.

Meanwhile Lugh ironically may be inside an exorcist, but has not sat back idly. Instead on the Mortal Plain, Lugh has established a royal council. They have evidence that Lugh's traitorous brother Dougal has set in motion in Philadelphia at the Seven Deadlies demonic nightclub the openings salvo of another fratricide assassination attempt in order to take over as the ruler of all demons. Lugh knows he has no choice but to kill his brother or be killed while his hostess body jumps head first into the fray.

Trust is the key to the latest superb Kingsley urban fantasy as the heroine distrusts everyone except to e a degree Brian and she has no choice with Lugh. The monarch has to rely on the obstinate Morgan to do the right thing for both of them. With betrayal everywhere, Kingsley and Lugh know no one has their back to the delight of fans of this excellent saga as the overarching devilish theme moves forward (except when the heroine pukes in a toilet due to control shifts) to the anticipated war of the brothers.

Just Like Me, Only Better
Carol Snow
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425232484, $14.00,

In Orange County, Hank Czaplicki informs his wife Veronica that he has found his soulmate in realtor Darcy DaCosta, a much older woman. Hank dumps Veronica and their son Ben. Veronica keeps food on the table for her and their son by being a substitute teacher at Ben's elementary school Las Palmas.

However, thanks to the food coach of the Kitty and Katz show Haley Rush, the actress' manager Jay meets Veronica and realizes she is almost an identical twin in spite of running mascara. He hires her to pretend to be Haley at an easy, $100 an hour plus bennies for photo ops. Veronica enjoys the attention and going out with hunk Brady Ellis, but each night she goes home to her rental and raising her beloved Ben.

This is an intelligent tongue in cheek mommy goes Hollywood chick lit tale. Veronica makes the fun story line work, but it is the underlying theme of celebrities pay a deep price for their fame that grips the audience. With a charming twisting romance, readers will relish Just Like Me, Only Better as, like in Here Today, Gone to Maui, Veronica gets to play the part of someone else's more exciting life that makes her real life seem so boringly suburban mom.

Honeymoon Of The Dead
Tate Hallaway
9780425234129, $14.00

Married couple bookselling witch Garnet Lacey and vampire Sebastian leave Wisconsin for the Twin Cities' airport as they plan to fly to Transylvania for their honeymoon. However, while waiting for their plane to take off, Garnet sees a frost giant sitting on the wing. Her efforts to warn authorities lead to the pair removed from the jet while Homeland Security looks at them like their cr azy and perhaps dangerous.

Garnet suggests they stay in Minneapolis-St. Paul where his wife once lived. She reluctantly agrees although she left town in a hurry after stealing the boyfriend of her BFF; that guy still has her love spell haunting him. Garnet is abducted while an anti-vampire group stakes out Sebastian. This is a honeymoon in separate hells.

The key to this superb urban fantasy is Garnet's transgressions as a youthful witch makes the heroine and, by extrapolation as the prime player of the Hallaway mythos, this book feel plausible. As her past catches up with her Sebastian has his own woes. With a great twist to the ending, fans of the saga (see Dead If I Do, Romancing the Dead, Tall, Dark & Dead and Dead Sexy) will relish Honeymoon of the Dead, forlorn and forgotten.

Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side
Edited by Charlaine Harris
9780425235638, $24.95

These twenty short stories focus on paranormal mysteries that run the urban fantasy gamut with vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, seers, mages and Mike Hammer making featured appearances. All of the contributions by The Mystery Writers of America authors are enjoyable tales that sub-genre fans will want to read as the diversity of the supernatural adds to the overall fun. Vampires are right at home in Parnell Hall's amusing "Death of a Vampire" and Charlaine Harris's "Dahlia Underground". Ghosts star in Harley Jane Kozak's "Madeeda", Carolyn Hart's "Riding High" as a marriage counselor and even as a phantom ship in Lou Kemp's "In Memory of the Sibylline". Finally Hammer has a "Grave Matter" (by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane) case with a supernatural taint. This is a strong anthology as everyone contributing showed up in top form providing enjoyable Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side collection.

A Timely Vision
Joyce and Jim Lavene
9780425234754, $6.99

On the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the village of Duck lives Dae O'Donnell, owner of the Store Missing Pieces. The store contains useful, valuable or kitschy items. She is also the mayor and everyone who knows her knows about her psychosomatic skills that she has used to help her neighbors on Duck.

At the Fourth of July party, Miss Mildred wants Dae to find her missing watch that she gave temporarily to her estranged sister Lizzie. The siblings never got along ever since Wild Johnny Simpson chose Miss Elizabeth over Miss Mildred. Dae sees the witch on Lizzie's hand but no one has seen the woman for days until her body is found buried in sand on the beach. Circumstantial evidence points at Miss Mildred leading to the police arresting her. Dae refuses to accept the official reasoning so, with the help of newcomer former FBI Agent Kevin Brickman, they investigate the homicide.

This opening act of a new amateur sleuth is a wonderful mystery due to memorable eccentric characters including Duck. The whodunit is complicate enough to keep readers entertained and stymied as to who killed the sister. The heroine is sassy and spunky as she expects justice to occur. Joyce and Jim Lavene have shagged another hit series.

Savor the Moment
Nora Roberts
9780425233689, $16.00

They were friends since childhood, but though they went their separate ways after high school, Laurel, Parker, Emma, and Mac came back together. The BFFs moved into Parker's mansion and opened up Vows wedding planning company that has proven a huge success.

Wedding baker Laurel has known Parker's older brother Delaney since she first met her friend. She had a schoolgirl crush on him, but her infatuation has turned to a deep love that she hid as she felt he treated her like a kid sister. One day he got her so angry and frustrated, she kissed him. That changed their relationship as Del began to see Laurel as a woman, not a younger sibling. They start dating and agree to go slow letting their feelings drive them. He fails to tell her how he feels so when Mac's vindictive acrimonious mother accuses her of going after Del's money and that an Ivy League elitist like him would never marry a lower class slut like her, she has doubts. Laurel hopes he will stay with her but is afraid that in time he will leave her forcing Del to examine just what he needs from Laurel.

The third Bride Quartet contemporary romance is a charming entry as the bakery chef and the lawyer fall in love. Laurel is a strong person who comes from a dysfunctional lower class environs while Del grew up in a loving nurturing country club family. Both are independent caring peopl e who may find love is not enough to overcome social barriers. Nora Roberts provides a delightful contemporary romantic romance.

The Hangman's Row Enquiry
Ann Purser
9780425234730, $7.99

For years cantankerous spinster Ivy Beasley ruled the English village of Round Ringford with a nurturing iron first. The townsfolk respected her, but did not care about her. When her cousin Deirdre asks her to move near her, Ivy agrees and relocates in the assisted living community Springfields in Barrington.

Still filed with vinegar and energy, Ivy needs something to occupy her time. She thinks she may have found just the thing when she meets Augustus "Gus" Halfhide at church. He has recently moved here and seeks something to excite his time too. They along with Deirdre open up an investigative agency. Their first case they choose as it interests them involves the death of a woman in one of the cottages on Hangman's Row. The cottage belongs to Theodore Russell whose ancestors once owned most of the village, but he became a recluse who used an agent Miss Bailey to conduct his affairs.

Ann Purser provides a delightful spin-off from her Lois Meade mysteries starring former series support player the silver haired crabby Ivy, her cousin, and their new friend. Fans will enjoy the dynamic trio as they investigate the murder of Gus' neighbor with zest and vim as they display energy that a person half their age will admire. With Gus adding enigmatic denouements, Deirdre a bit of fear, and Ivy vinegar of course, fans of the Meade English cozies will want to read this senior citizen murderer investigation.

Between Friends
Kristy Kiernan
9780425233474, $15.00

In Naples, Florida Ali will always be grateful to her friend Cora who donated the eggs that enabled her to have a child. They became headline news with the miracle of modern reproductive technology. She and her husband Benny the cop love their fourteen year old daughter Letty, but now Ali wants a second chi ld. She plans to persuade Benny and then talk to Cora, who has just come home after a teaching gig in Puerto Aysen, Chile.

However, Cora has just learned something about herself that will end Ali's plea for her to undergo the ordeal again before it begins. She must find the courage to explain to her BF that she suffers from Polycystic Kidney Disease, a genetic disorder that means dialysis rather soon and she fears Letty might inherit the diseases from her. Meanwhile Letty tired of being the miracle child is seeing Seth, a nasty teen with demands on her.

The relationships between the four prime players especially the two BFFs keep this character study from becoming a soap opera though it is a tearjerker. The lead four are fully developed to the point readers will hope for a second miracle. With a late unexpected twist, fans will enjoy Between Friends while waiting for the results of Letty's PKD tests.

Tressed to Kill
Lila Dare
9780425234747, $6.99

Quaint St. Elizabeth, Georgia is a typical southern small-town in which the locals know one another and the crime rate is extremely low. Grace Terhune and her mother Violetta own a beauty shop that they operate out of the latter 's home. They are swamped with customers who are going to attend the town meeting to discuss funds for the "Preserve the Rothmere Museum" and computers into the schools. The other item on the agenda is whether to allow Morestuf Mart to build a store in town.

Society doyenne Constance DuBois demands Violetta put highlights in her hair just prior to the big meeting. The hairdresser warns the haughty client that she already has too many chemicals and fears adding additional ones to Constance's hair. Violetta proves right when Constance's hair turns orange. Blaming Violetta, Constance vows to shut down the beauty salon. Following the meeting, they find Constance's corpse in the parking lot. All evidence points strongly towards her mother, so Grace, knowing the cops will need all the help they can get, begins her own inquiry.

The first Southern Beauty Shop amateur sleuth nicely captures the ambience of life in a small Georgia town; for instance sayings like the War of Northern Aggression are accepted as much as the alphabet is. Grace is a classic steel magnolia who refuses to accept her mom's guilt and the consequently closing of their beauty parlor. She determinedly investigates because she knows the townsfolk, especially the ladies, quite well and cannot afford to hire a professional detective. Rather quickly she finds others with motives to kill Constance though she struggles with who did the act. Lila Dare provides a fun regional amateur sleuth starring likable mother-daughter beauticians.

Lion's Heat
Lora Leigh
9780425233801, $7.99

Director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs Lion Breed Jonas Wyatt knows the only person who could bring him to his knees is his assistant, Rachel Broen. He realizes she is his mate, but refuses to act upon his need as she deserves better than him. Still he wishes he was the father of Rachel's baby daughter Amber instead of Devon, but is satisfied that the baby recognized his voice when she was still in the womb.

Philip Brandenmore of Brandenmore research kidnaps Amber as he plans to experiment on the infant to foster his goal of using Breeds to slow down aging in purebreds. Jonas rescues the baby, but not before she is injected with some unknown elixir. A raging Jonas, who believes in his soul that Amber is his child, goes berserk with plans of vengeance. However, keeping Amber safe comes first, so he moves his soulmate and "his" daughter into the Breed Sanctuary where he relocates to keep the two females he loves safe.

This is a great entry in the Breeds saga as readers get what we waited for as Jonas no longer can deny his feelings. The key to finally force him to accept the inevitable is not his kick-butt tiny mate, but her daughter; sired by someone else. With a major leap forward in the overarching series as well, fans fully appreciate Jonas turn to accept his mate, but will he also go against what is known of Breed and accept Amber too.

State Fair
Earlene Fowler
9780425234228, $24.95

Benni Harper Ortiz is the curator of the Sinclair Folk Art Museum and Artist's Co-op. She has every intention of enjoying the San Celina Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. The Ebony Sisters Quilt Guild, a spin off of the San Celina Quilt Guild, supports an exhibit of African-American quilts. The headliner is a copy of the renowned Harriet Powers' classic story quilt that took one year to replicate.

Benni's plans to enjoy the fair are crushed when she learns the Powers' duplication was stolen. She also finds out that the first black manager of the fair Levi Clark has been receiving hate mail. Trouble comes in threes when Benni finds a corpse in the Piebald Family Farm Exhibit. The victim is white male Calvin Jones, who was dating Les' daughter and at one time was involved with supremacist skinheads. Benni and her Aunt Garnet investigate only to end up in danger from someone who kills without remorse.

It has been a few years since Benni's last inquiry (see Tumbling Blocks), but fans of the series will appreciate her return and that of other friends as the State Fair proves an exciting venture. Putting aside the amateur sleuth too often finding a corpse (see Delectable Mountains) and need to investigate, readers will enjoy the often amusing inquiry by niece and aunt while the heroine's grandmother has a tendency to cool the heat between Benni and her spouse Gabe. Long time fans will welcome Benni back into the fold with this enjoyable whodunit.

The Cross Gardener
Jason F. Wright
9780425233283, $22.95

John Bevan was born on a side of a road abandoned by his teenage mother. He grew up with one life goal sustaining him; that one day he would be part of a traditional family. He married Emma Jane and they had a daughter Lou Lou. She became pregnant, but a car accident kills her and the unborn.

John's dream shattered that day. He ignores his child and places two crosses at the spot where his spouse and his unborn died. Everyday he visits the location as he buries himself deeper into his grief. However, one day John finds a stranger painting his crosses. The painter and John talk about life and death. The Cross Gardener begins to help John heal and to remember his deceased loved ones and most important if for no reason other than in memory of Emma Jane, their living daughter as his late wife would expect nothing less from him.

This is a character driven inspirational tale that builds off the grief of why bad things happen to good people. John holds the somewhat thin story line together as his happiness turns to depression and grief when tragedy destroys his dream. With the underlying message that nobody has to walk alone especially when life is at its darkest, sub-genre fans will appreciate Jason F. Wright's strong belief to reach out; as John begins to comprehend that he left his beloved Lou Lou to walk alone.

Destiny's Star
Elizabeth Vaughan
9780425234679, $7.99

Ezren Silvertongue the Storyteller knows he owes his life to take charge warrior Lady Bethral, who fell from the sky only to save him from certain death. He also knows he loves her, but conceals his feelings from his lady as he believes he is undeserving of his warrior; partly because he cannot control the wild magic that flows within him.

When the wild magic explodes, Bethral makes Ezren, accompanied by her relocation magic travel to the isolated plains. However, the Warrior-Priests attack the pair with plans to sacrifice Storyteller and regain the wild magic. However, Bethral and some local warriors defend Ezren to insure evil practitioners do not obtain his magic.

Fans of Elizabeth Vaughan will relish Destiny's Star as the author deftly combines her two fantasy sagas by having support Star players fight for their lives on the plains of the Warlands. The lead pair shows they can be stars of their own tale even if it is in another land as the kick butt female warrior and the mage carrier fall in love while helping the Plains' people. Fans will relish this strong romantic quest fantasy as the action never slows down while the Plains come alive with ironically death in the aptly titled Destiny's Star.

Lisa Valdez
9780425210543, $7.99

In 1851 England Patience Dare is happy for her sister Passion, but also envious as she wants what her sibling has, a man who cherishes and loves her. However, as one suitor after another fails to heat her soul, Patience begins to believe she will never have someone like Mark Hawksmore is to his new wife Patience.

That is until one kiss by Mark's brother Matthew. Both are excited by their attraction, but whereas she knows he is her soulmate and he agrees, he feels unworthy of her. Recently, Mark learned he was illegitimate and his fiancee upon hearing the news dumped him. Instead of running away, Patience begins playing sexual submission games with Mark while also assisting him in saving his business, but honor and justice may keep them apart.

With a couple of superb twists, Patience is a terrific Victorian erotic romance starring a wonderfully ethical young woman who enjoys submissive-dominance games in bed while also expects the best out of her beloved. Mark is the more fascinating character as he perceives his life is ruined ever since he learned he is illegitimate. Readers will appreciate this strong historical wondering whether Mark will ever come to grips with who he is.

Seneca Surrender
Gen Bailey
9780425233849, $7.99

In 1755 in the Lake George area of the New York Colony, the Seneca tribe struggles to survive the war between the Europeans that engulf their continent. Warrior White Thunder mourns the death of his wife with plans to avenge her murder.

However, his travels are interrupted when he comes across a half dead while female. Although he loathes the French and the English, he takes the woman to a nearby cave to heal her. When she regains consciousness, she suffers from amnesia. As she heals and begins to remember that she is an indentured servant on her way to the New Hampshire colony as a companion to Marissa, Sarah Strong has fallen in love with her rescuer as has White Thunder with her. However, she has a contract to fulfill and an Anglo-Indian relationship is taboo

The second Warriors of the Iroquois (see Black Eagle) historical romance brings to life the cost of the French and Indian War on the Seneca and the colonists with the events, time and place superseding the love of the two protagonists. White Thunder and Sarah are fully developed characters who each understand their love is taboo but don't care. Readers who prefer a historical saga supported by a romance will want to read this entertaining mid eighteenth century North American tale.

The Summer of You
Kate Noble
9780425232392, $15.00

Lady Jane Cummings knows her summer is ruined as she is forced to rusticate in the Village of Reston due to the misbehavior of her brother, her dad's illness and her former friends Phillipa becoming a Worth (see revealed). Simply put, the ironically titled Merrymore is not London.

Everything changes when she meets the hermit next door. She knows Byrne Worth is the war hero who saved her inane sibling from at least a beating in a recent pub fight. Each is attracted to the other and soon they fall in love, but Byrne realistically knows she is levels above him and that he is just a passing summer fancy. However, when the locals believe Byrne is a highwayman, an outraged Jane puts herself at risk to prove her beloved is innocent.

With some late suspense this is an engaging Regency rustic romance containing two likable lead characters and a fascinating small-town country crowd who cleverly replace the Ton with local gentry gossip re scandal. The story line is fast-paced as Jane and Byrne become friends in love, but she must take charge of their relationship as he keeps somewhat an emotional distance from his beloved. The sub-genre audience will enjoy this fine historical as Jane insists Byrne is worth her love, but Byrne believes he is unworthy of her.

Travis Thrasher
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446505550, $13.99,

As a teenager Laila was wild and in spite of a wealthy loving family, she goes down a dark road that leads to gang rape. Despondent she leaves her small Texas hometown for Chicago where she becomes a high priced escort. One night her client gets too violent and Laila shoots him. She thinks she killed him. For the next six months, Laila is on the run, but hears voices and sees visions.

She no longer can delineate between what reality and fantasy are. The brother of the John she shot goes after her and forces her to do his bidding which includes paying off a debt he owes to despicable men. Laila realizes the man she shot is alive. She flees to New Orleans, but they follow her with demonic determination to use her in their plan. Also in the Big Easy is her brother hoping to find her and praying if he does he can bring her back to God's graces as something evil pursues her.

Laila is an interesting flawed individual who has lost her way because she believes she cannot be saved as redemption is out of reach. However, there is some hope still inside her especially when she encounters a being not of this earth. However, she is not the key to this strong inspirational drama; her enemies her fully developed atypical antagonists whose malevolence makes the beleaguered heroine see like a choir girl. Travis Thrasher provides a character driven morality tale as hope is a key element of faith.

The Lie
Petra Hammesfahr
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738428, $14.95,

Suzanne Lasko struggles to survive living in a dump in which she cannot pay the rent on time ever since her marriage ended and her teller job terminated for her inability to perform simple tasks. Apparently her mind never fully healed from a car accident several years ago. Her ailing mom lives in a home, so Suzanne who loves her makes up a life with a good paying job and a kind boyfriend. Desperately she does the unthinkable and uses her mom's money to pay her bills.

Suzanne arrives at Behringer and partners for an interview. There she runs into her almost identical twin Nadia Trenkler though they are not related as far as either woman knows. Wealthy Nadia hires Suzanne to pose as her with her husband Michael for the weekend while she runs off for a tryst. Their first switch is successful so they do it again and again although Michael suspects something is not quite right with his wife.

The concept of twins switching identities is common in movies and books and this latest tale is an adult modernization of the Prince and The Pauper. Suzanne makes the tale with her bewildered mind and abject poverty impeding her fitting in the luxurious lifestyle of Nadia. Although plausibility is somewhat lost due to Michael's actions and reactions and the too frequent switches, readers will enjoy this intriguing psychological suspense thriller.

Dark Alley
Evan Marshall
Severn House Publishers
9780727868350, $27.95,

NYC Department of Sanitation Manhattan Central District 13 Section Chief Anna Winthrop breaks up a fight between two crew members, Ernesto Balcazer and Garry Thompson over a third crew person Kelly Moore. Soon afterward, Garry's partner Terrence King calls Anna to say his teammate vanished after going behind the New Amsterdam Mews to collect garage. The next day Anna's boyfriend police officer Santos Reyes learns of Garry's body found in the Mews. NYPD Detectives Rinaldi and Roche lead the investigation.

Anna thinks the link is to a rape incident in Iraq where Garry served two tours and a brother in arms was accused, jailed and killed in prison waiting a local trial. However, the pattern does not hold up when a second corpse of a murdered woman is found inside the Amster Mews. Dubbed by the media as the Mews Killer Anna continues her inquiries trying to find the elusive link that ties the corpses together when a cold blooded killer kills two more times and targets her too.

This is a superb Hidden Manhattan amateur sleuth (See Death Is Disposable and Evil Justice) as Anna with the cooperation of her boyfriend conducts her own investigation as she believes that NYPD will not probe deep enough to seek the patterns to the murders. Readers will find it difficult to accept that Santos escorts his civilian girlfriend to crime scenes and keeps her informed on the official investigation that he has no need to know; and likewise the two detectives allow him and Anna to sta y at the crime scenes. Still this is an entreating whodunit as Evan Marshall provides tremendous red herrings and several wonderful twists as he introduces readers to fake Manhattan Mews as ideal murder locales.

Alaya Johnson
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312565473, $24.99,

In 1920s Manhattan, Zephyr Hollis is a rare human immune to vampires. The offspring of a demon hunter, she is a social activist who always makes time for the Family Action Committee for Nonhuman Laborers equal rights protests of City Hall (to the chagrin of Mayor Jimmy Walker) and teaches at a Lower East Side night school for underprivileged paranormal.

Considered a softhearted liberal, Zephyr is surprised when her student Amir the djinn suggest she kill vampire mobster Rinaldo. However, Amir never explains why Rinaldo must die, but she agrees as she can use the money he offers. Zephyr turns to the ruthless Turn Boys for insider trading information even as her hunting father prepares to kill them and the bloodsuckers high on a new customized street drug try to dine on her.

Moonshine is a fabulous urban historical fantasy that will have readers believing in a paranormal 1920s New York City though Gentleman Jimmy is probably turning over in his grave. The amusing story line never takes it self seriously even when blood (not always red) flows. Although the city (and somewhat story line) is inundated by the horde of supernatural species, fans will enjoy the Roaring Twenties Manhattan adventures of the Vampire Suffragette

Our Burden's Light
Patrick Thomas Casey
9780312533908, $25.99

In the Shenandoah Valley, the murder of teenager Grant Shelley shakes his family. Only the actions of his father, Robert keep the grieving Shelley brood together as none of them understand why it happened and moving on and getting closure feels impossible to do.

Grant's teenage killer, Hayden Clyde struggles with what he did in the woods. Also not coping very well is Grant's former girlfriend and Hayden's current one Evelyn Warren. Meanwhile even as he remains the core holding the family together, Robert wonders what he could have done differently; especially as he begins to realize his late son is not quite the innocent victim paragon the Shelley brood prefers to believe; nor in many ways he knows is he not a shining example.

This is an interesting look at the grieving process when an unexpected tragic death occurs. Patrick Thomas Casey makes a strong case that everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time even with an anchor keeping all moored. Although more a series of vignettes tied together by Grant's death than a novel, readers will appreciate this deep look at the living after a young person unexpectedly dies violently.

The Cat, The Professor and the Poison
Leann Sweeney
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451229809, $6.99,

In Mercy, South Carolina, Widow Jillian Hobbs and her friend Police Deputy Candace Carson stay up all night feeding two baby kittens. However, instead of going to sleep, the pair then travels to Robin's farm to see about a missing milk cow. When they arrive at the farm, they find someone took the cow, but returned it. That night they conduct surveillance of the barn and catch Professor Van Kliet who needs the milk; no arrests are made.

The next day a woman calls the shelter explaining cats are flooding her land. Jillian arrives to find a calico kitten; she follows the feline to a rundown house where several unhealthy looking cats are kept in a small cage. She sees the professor feeding the cats and taking notes. She calls Candace to come out and look. An hour later, Candace arrives at the scene, but Van Kliet is dead and his notes and computer gone. Jillian assists Candace as she investigates the homicide, but a house invasion by a disguised person frightens Jillian. Still the brave civilian asks Rufus the exterminator about t he poison the person who killed the professor used and he reacts nervously and runs away. He later is found dead by a killer willing to murder to cover wrong doing.

Besides the two homicides, Jillian tries to forge a relationship with her stepdaughter Kara the step-daughter who never accepted her in her life. They never bonded when the man they both loved lived, but begin to connect a bit as Karen helps on the investigation. Although using a civilian, even one who has solved homicides before (see The Cat, The Quilt and the Corpse) on a murder inquiry seems a stretch, readers will enjoy Leann Sweeney's fine whodunit as the cats may have nine lives, but the humans have only one.

Nashville Noir
Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
9780451229274, $22.95

In Cabot Cove, Maine the Cabot Cove Cares supports each year a young artist. This year's winner is eighteen years old singer-songwriter Cyndi Blaskowitz who is going to Nashville on a scholarship. If she is fortunate her songs will be recorded. Cyndi has an appointment to meet music executive Roderick Marker, who she hopes will help her after hearing one of her tunes.

A few weeks later, Cyndi fails to call her mom as she has done everyday since arriving in Music Town. Instead she was arrested for the murder of Roderick. Cyndi's mother begs Jessica to clear her daughter so the writer travels to Nashville. Her reputation gets Cyndi out of jail as long as Jessica is responsible for the teen who wears an electronic monitor. The author's inquiry soon finds a score of people wanting Marke dead, but who actually killed him remains difficult to determine.

The Jessica Fletcher mysteries are always a nice treat for cozy fans as the American Miss Marple simply asks questions while strumming up an ensemble of suspects in her latest whodunit. Nashville Noir shows the other side of the Music Town far from the glitter as Jessica plays a delightful New Englander country virtuoso with the Tennessee Waltz.

Half-Price Homicide
Elaine Viets
9780451229892, $22.95

When the judge awarded Rob half his wife's earnings for life, Helen Hawthorne refuses to pay this outrageous alimony. She leaves her affluent home in St. Louis and goes on the run until she reaches Fort Lauderdale where she works at a series of dead end jobs. Helen also meets her fiance private investigator Phil at the apartment complex they both live in. Phil wants to marry her, but before they can Helen must return to St. Louis to fix her legal and financial liabilities.

Meanwhile she works at Snapdragon, a high class consignment shop. One of the repeat customers Chrissy comes in with a purse to sell, but her husband follows her to the shop. They end up in a shouting match; broken up by the store owner. Chrissy enters a dressing room to try on a dress. When the proprietor enters to see how it looks on her, Chrissy is dead. Helen knows the woman was murdered as there is blood on a decor pineapple. When she returns from St. Louis, she is shocked that her employer has lost so many customers and considers closing the shop. With Phil's help, Helen investigates the homicide hoping to find the killer and keep the store open.

The Dead-End Job mysteries (see Killer Cuts) are always fun to read due to the heroine but Half-Price Homicide is especially a delight as long story arcs are completed and new ones begin; making this a must for series fans. Meanwhile Rob tries to blackmail his ex wife, but she refuses knowing she will return to St. Louis to end the legal travesty. Her time in Missouri is interesting while her sleuthing in Florida is clever as both subplots blend together smoothly in a fascinating major move forward for Helen.

Moon Spinners
Sally Goldenbaum
9780451229885, $23.95

The Seaside Knitters (Nell, Izzy, Cass and Birdie) are taking time off from helping Gracie Santos open her new restaurant the Lazy Lobster and Soup Cafe on Pelican Pier in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts. They are attending a charity event at the Country Club where Gracie's Uncle Alphonso and his wife Sophia are joining with the Delaney's Construction Company to donate at cost materials to build an addition to the community center at Pelican Bay.

Gracie's mother Julianne shows up at the gala and makes a scene because her brother, in charge of her trust, refuses to give her any more spending money at the urgency of Sophia.. When Sophia leaves her party she loses control of her car and dies in the crash. The police find evidence that the brake line was cut so they arrest Julianne when they find material in her vehicle on how to fix a car's brake line. The Seaside Knitters refuse to accept Julianne murdered her sister-in-law so they start their own investigation.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy the third Seaside Knitters amateur sleuth (see Death by Cashmere and Patterns in the Sand) because of the diverse yet likable lead protagonists whose interests vary, but remain close friends. They come across as detectives as they make inquiries the same way they knit, one stitch at a time. The key that brings plausibility to the fine story line is they do their investigation without facing life threatening danger. This is a delightful entry in a fun regional mystery series.

A Question of Belief
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802119421, $24.00,

August is always hot in Venice, but police Commisario Guido Brunetti feels a different kind of heat as the tourists seem underfoot everywhere and the cop wants to escape the city with his family into the cooling mountains. The Commune employment records supervisor Toni Brusca makes a strong case that women can prove to be more deviously criminal than men; the evidence provided is the court record of a female judge who postpones cases that benefit one side.

As Brunetti ponders the allegation of misconduct on the bench, he knows he can do nothing about it though he wonders if the judge in question is skimming personal profit from the advantages she gives to one team. Since he has no play in the latest judicial corruption as Italy has become the perfect capitalist government run by sleaze and dishonesty, Brunetti begins to shut down with his vacation about to begin. Then the violent crime occurs that is in his jurisdiction so though he could sneak away on his R&R pretending not to know, Brunetti begins his investigation with a sigh.

Brunetti is a throwback police detective who believes in the honesty of man though overwhelmingly realizes the Internet with all its positive connectivity also provides another negative source for the powerfully corrupt to skim the system. Fast-paced with a strong cast and a powerful look at Venice and its local government, A Question of belief is a great entry as the hero struggles with what he learns about trust abused for personal gain and as immorality rules. Yet readers know that Diogenes only need to meet him to f ind an honest person trying to adhere to his values in a system that prefers the lowest ethical denominator.

Heirs of Cain
Tom Wallace
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605421025, $7.95,

In 1971 on both sides of the DMZ that supposedly divided Viet Nam, everyone in the North and South feared Cain the assassin who killed with his hands while looking at his victim's eyes though some Communists are skeptical about the monster's legend. However, most know he and his six guerilla warfare comrades (Snake, Cardinal, Deke, Seneca, Rafe and Moon) are the best just ask their superior officer General White who assigns the kills. However, after their deadly nightcrawler missions into the north e nd, the magnificent seven return to the States to accept their most difficult mission: becoming non-lethal civilians.

Four decades later, one of them Taylor is murdered in the exclusive Pinewood Estates on Pawley's Island; his dying words to night watchman Moss is "Fallen Angels". One of the seven Seneca has killed one of his former compatriots and is targeting the others as well while honing terrorist skills for a big attack on America. Professor Michael Collins learns of Seneca's recent activity and decides that Cain must return knowing that he marks either himself or Seneca for death.

This is a dark thriller that asks intriguing questions about whether those deployed by the government as legal assassins having killed many of the enemy using any tactic necessary can truly return to civilian life. Although moral issues re government ethics of training and deploying assassins in combat are implied but sadly ignored for the High Noon suspense, readers who enjoy a fast-paced showdown thriller will want to peruse Tom Wallace's exciting tale as Seneca and Cain complete the personal battle started in North Viet Nam forty years ago knowing only one will be left standing.

The Skorpian Directive
David Stone
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399156328, $25.95,

CIA "cleaner" Micah Dalton is in Vienna meeting with former-Mossad field operative Issadore Galan when he feels something is not right. Used to cleaning up the mess of failed operations, he fears he will need a cleaner too, as he quickly realizes that he is under surveillance by unknown assumed to be hostile enemies. Not one to sit back and wait, Micah catches one of them, Veronika Miklas.

After sex, he flees with her accompanying him following a failed assault on him. Someone wants Micah dead, but he is unsure why; especially since his CIA contacts and handlers are part of the death squad pursuers. He turns to his alcoholic psychopathic friend Ray Fyke to insure he has his back covered. As the trio travels to the Balkans, the former KGB assassins, an American top secret agency, other espionage groups, and Smoke the Serbian killer follow with death to the threesome as their mantra.

The latest Cleaner espionage thriller (see The Venetian Judgment, The Echelon Vendetta and The Orpheus Deception) is a great conspiratorial story line filed with action, action and more action. The cast is especially powerful including the enigmatic killing machine Smoke while the locales enhance the exciting plot. Genre fans will enjoy The Skorpian Directive as someone high up has decided to clean the cleaner.

Blood Oath
Christopher Farnsworth
9780399156359, $24.95

Twenty-five years old Zach Barrows is already a veteran of senate and presidential campaigns; having delivered three states in the last race. The Washingtonian calls him the next Rove as he is now the youngest ever deputy director for White House affairs.

Caught with the POTUS' nineteen years old daughter, Zach is being escorted by Secret Service Agent Griffin who takes him to the oldest part of the Smithsonian; a hidden room buried inside the Castle that the Griff calls the Reliquary trophy room where some of the oddities of history are "buried". Zach has joined a very exclusive club as the White House liaison to Nathaniel Cade vampire; pardoned and pledged by President Andrew Johnson in 1867; he leads the global war on horror. Their first assignment as a team is to uncover a conspiracy from within to use biological weapons against the United States.

The two key elements that make Blood Oath an entertaining espionage paranormal thriller are the clever intermingling of history with the supernatural mostly through Zach but also with artifacts and the plot never takes itself seriously. The wild story line lampoons American mythos like president-journalist relationships via Nixon and the Washington Post, Frankenstein, Roswell, and the GWOH. Fans who relish an over the top of the Washington Monument and under the Smithsonian will relish Christopher Farnsworth's satirical tale of vampires dining in the White House.

Storm Prey
John Sandford
9780399156496, $27.95

Dr. Weather Karkinnen, wife of Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Chief Lucas Davenport, is one of the surgical team diligently working to separate twins co-joined at the head. As they begin the complex series of operations, four men rush into the hospital's pharmacy, taking millions in drugs. The surgery is postponed for one day.

Weather saw the face of one of the men in the garage and in the elevator. She also sees their vehicle. The robbers understand that Weather is a witness who can identify them; so she must die. They shot at her when she was in her car, but she gets away unscathed. Lucas provides his spouse with police protection while he and his unit investigate the theft. He learns that one of the thieves was a doctor. Once he finishes his inquiry and she the surgery, he and Weather become predators and no longer the prey.

Storm Prey is the twentieth Prey police procedural, but retains the freshness of the series opening act (see First Prey) as this case is personal. There is plenty of action in the plot as explosions and violence frequently occurs; not enough to turn off the audience. The hero has grown over the course of the series, but though experienced he remains true to his values as he still does not play by someone else's rules though he adheres to the law.

Shoot to Thrill
P.J. Tracy
9780399155208, $24.95

Minneapolis Police department homicide detectives Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi are sent to a decrepit section of the Mississippi where they see the body of a dead floater dressed in a bridal outfit. They later learn the homicide of the drag queen in a wedding dress was filmed for the Internet crowd.

FBI cyber crime special agent John Smith joins the Minneapolis PD inquiry into the bride murder and other similar filmed horrifying deaths. He also enlists the aid of the Monkeewrench computer gurus (Harley Davidson, Grace MacBride, Annie Belinski and Roadrunner) who have helped law enforcement before including donating special software applications. While the Minneapolis detectives follow more typical procedures, the Monkeewrench crew works on a program to delineate real web-based murder from acting. As more homicides occur in other cities but linked to the bridal murder, no progress is made until a victim in Medford, Oregon survives.

This is a superb police procedural that fans of the Monkeewrench crew will fully appreciate while newcomers will be hooked immediately by the likable team and seek out previous thrillers (see Dead Run and Snow Blind). The story line is fast-paced from the moment the two Minneapolis cops begin to investigate the bridal drag queen floater case and never takes a respite as the Feds and their computer "consultants" make inquiries into live Internet serial killing from other cities. Shoot to Thrill is a fabulous entry in a consistently strong series.

Jessica Anderson
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451229571, $7.99,

With a little more than two and a half years to zero date, the clock is ticking down to 12/21/12 when the Mayans predicted that demons will rise to destroy the earth. The only hope to prevent the demonic global meltdown resides with the Nightkeepers warriors who must find their mates to fulfill their magical potential while the Order of Xibalta have other plans to prevent their endeavors.

In Austin, Lucius still feels remorse for being possessed by an evil Makol that has since been exorcized from his body, but not his mental state. He obsesses over atoning for his failures by channeling the Prophet's magic, but is incomplete without sex magic.

Nightkeeper Jade wants to do more than just be a combat support person, but her clan only provides secondary services. Jade and Lucius are attracted to one another so she decides they both can get what they want through a sexual binding. However, as each denies their love while their attraction grows, their King orders them to hook up and to rescue the sun god from their enemy.

The latest Final Prophesy urban romantic fantasy (see Nightkeepers, Dawnkeepers and Skykeepers) is a fabulous entry that moves forward the overarching countdown while also providing a strong story line. The lead couple makes the plot work as each has powerful ambitions that could be achieved if they would embrace their attraction as being more than just sexual desire. Their "Not in Love" refrains while going to the Underworld to rescue the Mayan deity will have the audience appreciating the skills of master magician Jessica Andersen.

Kiss of Death
Rachel Caine
9780451229731, $7.99

Morganville, Texas was founded by vampires led by Amelia who sought a safe haven for her species from human hunters. The town is a melting pot of sorts but to keep mortals safe, each human resident has a vampiric Protector. Blood is dispensed at blood banks and no one is allowed to leave once you enter although Amelia has allowed one exception; Claire, Shane, Michael and Evie may go to Dallas so that the vampire Michael can record his music.

On their way, their guard and escort Oliver has them stop in Durrram where he and Michael conduct business while leaving Claire alone. However, Morley and his vampiric followers who oppose the Morganville rules hijack them. Michael and Oliver rescue the others, but they end up on the deserted town of Blacke. The Morley vampires attack, but something more feral assaults both sides as zombie vampires seek to dine on each of the combatants.

The eighth Morganville Vampire saga is different than most of the previous entries as the heroes are outside the town so obtain a taste where the local rules do not apply. Thus the audience sees a diverse species as vampires come in different types and philosophies especially re humans. A refreshing and totally entertaining tale, Kiss of Death is a super Texas fantasy as the Rachel Caine's world of vampires expands to the delight of teen readers and us folks in the Twilight of our years.

Darker Than Night
Kim Lenox
9780451229588, $6.99

Shadow Guards' Ravenmaster Lord Avenage attends the Queen's tea party to obtain royal permission to remove sleeping Shadow Guard Countess Selene from the tower. Rourke's explanation to Her Highness is that his unit lacks the manpower to guard Selene, the only female member, and contend with Tantalus. Knowing she was put to sleep purposely so she would lose her sanity, Rourke conceals his agenda from the Queen as he has been dreaming of the woman, who sacrificed so much for London.

The queen and her council agree to have Rourke personally guard Selene, daughter of Cleopatra and a Shadow Guard while Lady Black plans to awaken her and use a vaccine that should control the evil lurking inside her "patient". The plan goes astray when Selene awakens holding a bloody knife while a corpse lies nearby. As she panics that the evil has taken over her, Rourke calms her down and escorts her to the council where she will be interrogated to determine her mental state and whether Lord Avenage can control her.

The latest Shadows Guards' thriller (see Night Falls Darkly and So Still the Night) is an enjoyable romantic fantasy as a doubting Rourke, in spite of eight centuries as an immortal, is unsure he does the right thing when it comes to the woman haunting his dreams. Fast-paced throughout readers will enjoy the tale of the two Guards as the hero wonders who is the one threatened by madness and the heroine sees his look at her as hesitation re evil killer or eternal love. The Lenox mythology burns brighter though it remains Darker than Night.

Man Of The West
Sadie Callahan
9780451229595, $6.99

Fearing for herself but more for her ten years old daughter Danni, Jolie Jensen flees from her serial convict spouse Billy Dean, who is out of prison for the moment. She drives during a storm across the Lone Star State to her new position as a cook and kitchen manager on a Strayhorn ranch. Her plan is for the two Jensen females to hide safely there.

Jolie loves the feeling of serenity and waking up feeling safe; she also relishes how much her beloved Danni has blossomed with the positive attention the child receives. Willard County Sheriff Jake Strayhorn is very attracted to the mother and daughter, but his gut knows she is on the run from someone; probably Danni's father though she refuses to tell him. Jake vows to keep both safe when this beast arrives; as he is positive the day of reckoning is coming soon.

Man of the West is an entertaining contemporary Texas romance starring two strong lead protagonists and a solid support cast including the raging husband. The story line is character driven and though Danni is probably too precocious and adjusted after having Billy Dean in and out of her life, fans will enjoy this wonderful sequel to Lone Star Woman, which needs to be read first as several subplots continue the overarching tale of the Strayhorn family.

Highland Surrender
Dawn Halliday
9780451229243, $15.00

In 1717 Cam the Earl of Camdonn leaves London for the Scottish Highlands with plans to forget the debacle of losing his beloved Sorcha to his former friend laird Alan MacDonald (see Highland Obsession) and by becoming the leader his clan needs. He hopes his betrothed Lady Elizabeth Grant adapts to life in the Highlands, but if the English beauty does not so be it.

However, instead of a greeting of hello, four highwaymen attack and shoot him leaving Elizabeth alone without protection. Healer Ceana McNab and her lover Robert MacLean assume poachers fired shots, but she soon finds a critically wounded Cam while he locates a frightened disheveled Elizabeth. Ceana heals Cam and both recognize a deep attraction. However, he is engaged though he keeps forgetting that fact and she knows the McNab curse keeps her from marrying anyone though she forgets that fact. Neither forgets the assault on his life and other attempts to kill him, but interprets the cause differently; as. Ceana insists is the curse and Cam insists it is the Jacobytes.

This is a wonderful Scottish historical romance starring a low born cursed healer and the aristocratic obsessed villain of the previous tale becoming the hero of this one. Fast-paced and filled with action and two romances, sub-genre fans will enjoy Dawn Halliday's charming redemption story.

The Secret Duke
Jo Beverly
9780451229533, $7.99

In 1760, Captain Rose looks forward to a hot meal, a warm bed, and rest as the Duke of Ithrone after two days at sea. Instead he checks a commotion at the aptly named Black Rat tavern where he sees two hooligans accosting a lady of quality. He saves Arabella Barstowe from certain rape. She repays him by stealing his horse and fleeing into the night.

Over the next few years, Bella survives in London by copying letters for an infamous scandal rag. However, she also learns the truth about who arranged her abduction four years ago. She vows vengeance, but knows only one person who could do this for her. Bella seeks out the pirate she never forgot. For his part, Captain Rose never forgot the lady he rescued.

The latest Secret Georgian Rakish romance (see A Lady's Secret and The Secret Wedding) is a fast-paced, action-packed tale starring a courageous female and a resolute hero who uses his half-brother's reputation as Captain Rose when it is convenient to do so. The tale is filled with intrigue as Bella seeks revenge against the person who destroyed her life but instead she finds love as Buccaneer Bella, but her thirst remains powerful. Although the story line slows a bit in the center for fans to catch their breath, The Secret Duke is another superb historical in the Malloren world of Georgian romance Queen Jo Beverly.

The Nameless
Ray Wallace
Black Death Books
9780979988189, $12.99,

The Nameless are one step above vampires on the evolutionary ladder. They are stronger and faster than their lesser cousins while getting their nourishment from eating mortal flesh. These human eaters also find sunlight poisonous so remain inside during the day. Master Nicolae created the Coven as a family with eleven others that he made. He knows they need one more to become incredibly powerful, but delays choosing the final entrant.

Ariella loves her boyfriend Jake, but ends their relationship because everyone she cherishes dies. One night while clubbing, Ariella meets Nicolae. He takes her to his abode, naming her his czarina and second in command mate. She enjoys being a Nameless, but has failed to move beyond Jake. She turns him, but leaves him alone out there. Jake goes on a killing spree, which has mortal law enforcement believing a vicious serial killer is on the loose. However, Jake remains resolute to find his Ariella and take her away from Nicolae and h is coven. Nicolae realizes Jake is a hazard to their well-being as the mortals know nothing of the Nameless and he plans to keep it that way.

Ray Wallace provides a refreshing variation on the vampire (some might say zombie too with what the nameless dine on) theme with this strong urban fantasy that will have enthralled readers turning the pages to learn what shocker is next. The cast is strong as readers get inside the heads of several characters especially those recently changed while the seven deadly sins of Cassandra surface with believability. Mr. Wallace will not remain Nameless with this strong horror thriller.

A Darker God
Barbara Cleverly
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385339919, $15.00,

In 1928 in Athens, archeologist Sir Andrew Merriman directs a production of Aeschylus's Agamemnon in the Athenian amphitheater. During a dress rehearsal, Sir Andrew replaces the dummy in the bathtub stabbing scene. He is dead with a knife to his heart as his wife Lady Maud and his former lover Laetitia "Letty" Talbot watch the practice session.

Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Percy Montacute happens to be one of the performers while assigned to CID duty in Athens. He and Athenian security chief General Konstantinou lead the investigation with Talbot as a consultant while her lover William Gunning objects. The police quickly arrest Maud's cousin Thetis, another of Sir Andrew's lovers and who had the role of Clytemnestra, but free her. Observers inform the cops the two cousins argued loudly in public just before Maud fell off a balcony to her death. Since Talbot is named in Merriman's will, she becomes a suspect too. However, after being abducted by a psychopathic Macedonian, she realizes Sir Andrews' soon to be published work on Alexander is the underlying motive to the homicides that include more victims.

Talbot's latest historical mystery (see The Tomb of Zeus and Bright Hair About the Bone) contains a terrific whodunit with a strong sense of time and place. The engaging storyline brings out Depression Era Greece through the archeologists, the play and the police procedural investigation. Although archeology seems to be a deadly affair in this series and none of the cast match up to Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands (would have been neat if he instead of Montacute was conveniently in Athens), fans will enjoy A Dark er God, reminiscent of Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple.

How High The Moon
Sandra Kring
9780385341219, $15.00

In 1955 in Mill Town energetic rabble-rouser ten year old Teaspoon enjoys singing. The Tom Boy was deserted five years ago by her single mom Catty. Her mother's former boyfriend Teddy raises Teaspoon who decides she needs to change her out of control behavior so he will be proud of her.

To achieve a life makeover, Teaspoon needs a female role model as all she knows is typical male behavior: fighting, lying, and more fighting. To achieve her objective, Teaspoon joins the Sunshine Sisters mentoring program in which an adult is paired with a child. Her Big Sister is highly respected Brenda Bloom, daughter of the most affluent family in town. Brenda and Isabella (ladies are not Teaspoon except in size) match up well and soon each is teaching the other and Teddy until Catty returns.

This is a strong cast who provides a deep look at small-town living in the Eisenhower Era. The story line is driven by the relationships with Teaspoon as the center holding the tale together. Although the plot is straightforward with no surprising spins, historical fans will enjoy tomboyish Teaspoon's efforts to become respectable Isabella (her birth name).

The Language of Sand
Ellen Block
9780440245759, $15.00

She remained in intensive care as the only survivor of a house fire that killed her husband and their four year old child. When she finally is released from the hospital, thirtyish Abigail feels adrift and disconnected. Pondering what to do as she grieves her twin losses and feeling a need to leave Boston the site of the tragedy, the lexicographer decides to move to the North Carolina barrier island Chapel Isle where her spouse spent many enjoyable summers growing up.

Abigail accepts the position of lighthouse caretaker. However upon arriving at Chapel Isle, the cottage she rented without seeing is dilapidated. The islanders initially for the most part reject her as an outsider, but soon Abby, as they call her, makes friends with two locals Merle and Ruth, who warmly welcome her. Others quickly follow. As she works on repairing the lighthouse, accommodating the ghost haunting the place, and fixing up the cottage, Abby makes an effort to help Nat, the island pariah with a tragic past like hers feel as welcome as the two ladies did her.

This is an engaging character study of a woman grieving a deep recent loss trying to start over in a fresh location that has ties to her late husband. The cast and the words that introduce each of the twenty-six chapters (remember the lead is a professional lexicographer) make for a fine tale of slowly moving on step by step through the phases of grief (in Abby's case in alphabetical order).

Mind Games
Carolyn Crane
9780553592610, $7.99

In Midcity off Lake Michigan, Justine and her boyfriend Cubby dine at Mongolian Delites when she sees Shady Ben Foley work his latest scam on some people just like he did her father. She warns the others before returning to her table complaining about her vein busting. Soon afterward at the bar, Packard Sterling tells her he can help her with her desperate problems like the vein bursting and other psychosomatic diseases. She says no thanks as she is used to being a hypochondriac with a zillion phobias. However, he insists that he can transfer her fears into criminals and will teach her to do so if she joins his Disillusionists crime retribution team; whose clients are the victims like she and her family were.

Two of Packard's recruits were former clients and they persuade Justine to return to Mongolian Delites after explaining their target is Foley. Still believing she is making a Faustian deal; she agrees if Foley suffers an aneurism. When he does due to her transferring her fear of having an aneurism to the rat, she joins. However, Justine fears her attraction to her new boss, but soon catches him lying so she vows to learn why and find out his other secrets.

The first Disillusionist urban fantasy is a refreshing crime fighting thriller starring a terrific tough woman who knows she has every illness known to humanity and a few not yet discovered; as she is learning to transfer her "disease" of the moment to deserving bad people. The story line takes its time introducing the Crane mythos and the key characters. Once done, the plot goes into hyper action as the Disillusionists work their transference trade in Midcity while the heroine struggles with ethics issues. Fans of Dresden will want to read the opening act as Justine proves to be a powerful telekinetic hypochondriac.

Eye of the Red Tsar
Sam Eastland
9780553807813, $25.00

Before the Revolution in two steps, Tsar Nicholas Romanov trusted his brilliant Finnish born investigator Pekkala to solve impossible cases. However, in the Summer of 1917, the great detective became Prisoner 4745-P exiled to spend the rest of his life for crimes against the state in the harshest Siberian gulag.

Surviving in his icy forest more as a wily beast over the next decade, he remains with no hope of either going home to Finland or St. Petersburg. However in 1929, Stalin orders the Tsar's "Emerald Eye" brought to Moscow to investigate the murders of the Romanovs in Ekaterinburg. The Communist leaders wants to know who killed the Tsar and his family; who survived if any; and what happened to the Tsarist treasure?

Although a super investigative frozen case, the story line is in many ways a wonderful historical thriller as the audience learns plenty of what happened to the Tsarist family, the hero's back-story in Finland and on the train to Russia, and the salad days of Stalin's rule. Fast-paced throughout, readers will appreciate this fine tale as every Russian who knows anything understands the need to remain mute as death by assassination is better than the one way ticket to the gulag.

The God of the Hive
Laurie R. King
9780553805543, $25.00

In 1924, married couple Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes survived the murderous cult that they got involved with as they resolved the mysterious Language of Bees. Both hope the terror is over, but they will soon learn it has just begun.

Reverend Thomas Brothers believes he can harness psychic energies through human sacrifice. As such he shoots Holmes's son, Damian Adler. With his offspring dying, Holmes' rushes off to Holland for specialized medical care to save the life of his son. At the same time Mary tries to protect her husband's granddaughter Estelle from Brothers and his fanatical cohorts. Nothing seems to go right for either one of the couple as danger is everywhere in England and on the continent.

This direct sequel to the Language of the Bees is a tense historical suspense thriller in which the couple separated and learns that the sum is greater than the two parts. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish with plenty of danger assaulting the lead couple in their separate subplots. Although each obtains too much help expediting them from on peril after another, The God of the Hive is an entertaining Russell-Holmes 1920s thriller.

The Secret of Excalibur
Andy McDermott
9780553592955, $7.99

Eddie Chase and Nina Wilde have been successful with finding ancient myths (see The Hunt for Atlantis and The Tomb of Hercules). Not the type to sit on their laurels, neither knows what next until family friend historian Bernd Rust sends Nina a cryptic message about the sword of Excalibur. He explains to her his belief shared by a Russian that Arthur's legendary sword exists and is a source of earth energy no longer used in modern times.

Before they can further talk, Rust is murdered. Nina sells Eddie on the worthiness of a search while fearing a Russian Kruglov perhaps backed by his government and the American governments are also seeking the sword that allegedly makes a bearer invincible in battle. Lost for over a millennium, the daring duet begins their search in the deserts of the Middle East, but as they elude deadly encounters, they follow clues to Siberia .

The third Wilde and Chase adventure thriller is a fast-paced, action-packed and over the top of Camelot saga that is fun to read. From the opening scene with Kruglov, the giant Russian and the blue-haired lady visiting a church but not for confession until the final anticipated confrontation, fans will enjoy the escapades of the lead heroes as they distrust the Americans as much as the Russians. This work is very entertaining, a superb thriller that hooks the audience from the very first page.

Second Time Around
Beth Kendrick
9780385342247, $15.00

The five females became BFFs in college and get together every July Fourth weekend since. Their tenth gala is at successful attorney Arden's vacation home where each discusses what they would have done differently if they were able to start over.

Two months later, Arden is dead and her four compatriots (Jamie, Brooke, Caitlin, and Anna) inherit, $250,000 each to begin anew only if they seek the dreams they mentioned would make them happy. One buys a broken down dorm with plans to convert it into a B&B; another strives to be a chef; a third starts a novel; and the fourth becomes an event planner. However, dreaming and going for the dream are not the same as each finds roadblocks and detours, but have one another and the memory of Arden to help them achieve their goals.

The women make this sister bonding contemporary a solid tale as each seems genuine although some of their problems feel forced as if each of the foursome has to have major tsuris to achieve their objective. Inspiring, fans will enjoy this fun character study as the women have a Second Time Around to go after what they failed to go after the first time.

Home In Carolina
Sherryl Woods
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778327561, $7.99,

Sports injury therapist Annie Sullivan is eating breakfast at her mom's restaurant in Serenity, South Carolina when the newspaper states that Star braves pitcher Ty Townsend is on Injury Reserve following surgery to his shoulder after suffering a potential career ending injury. He is back in Serenity to heal with home cooking, which makes Annie unhappy as they were seeing one another until he betrayed her with a sports groupie Dee-Dee.

Ty knows he screwed up when he could not resist the seductive offer, but wants a second chance with Annie. However, the proof of his transgression is his three years old son Trevor who he is has solo custody of and refuses to give up his child even for Annie. As Ty tries to earn a second chance, Dee-Dee arrives in Serenity willing to use Trevor as an extortionist ploy to get what she wants.

The latest Serenity Sweet Magnolias romance (See Sweet Tea at Magnolias) is a pleasant second chance at love romance starring a warm cast filled with southern charm. Although everyone involved proclaims what is best for Trevor is what they want, each of the adults except for Dee-Dee's thought provoking BF and Annie's sandwiched mom come across selfish. Still readers will enjoy dining at Helen's restaurant in serenity where sweet ice tea is served to drink.

The Hypnotist
M.J. Rose
9780778326755, $24.95

FBI's Art Crime Team special agent Lucian Glass continues his pursuit of the Phoenix Foundation's Malachi Samuels. Both adversaries also seek the "Memory Tools" that enable people to look into their past-lives' memories.

A Matisse painting stolen two decades ago from the gallery of Andre Jacobs is sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art ripped to shreds. The slasher warns the museum that four more stolen masterpieces will be destroyed unless MOMA gives to the thief the fifteen century old Hypnos, a sculpture that allegedly can bestow supernatural power to a person. Lucian has never forgotten the theft because his beloved Solange, Andre's daughter, was killed during the heist. As he travels though past lives in ancient Greece and ninetieth century Persia, Lucian is attracted to Andre's niece Emeline, whom the gallery owner raised as his adopted daughter as she reminds him so much of his Solange; too much so.

The latest Reincarnationist tale novel (see The Memorist), The Hypnotist is another great entry in one of the most exhilarating fresh sagas on the market today. The past lives and the present case subplots merge effortlessly into a superb thriller held together by a stunned Lucian.

When Good Wishes Go Bad
Mindy Klasky
9780778328216, $13.95

In Manhattan, Rebecca Morris works at The Mercer Project Theater. Her live in lover of three years, Dean the accountant, did the books for the theater and for her. He leaves her a short note that he is working late, which is not a shocker as it is tax season.

Dean never makes it to their Greenwich Village apartment. Instead he absconded with her life savings and the theater's three million dollars. She also learns the play they were going to produce is not available as the Mercer lost the production rights. Homeless as the police declare her pad is a crime scene, Rebecca sees a bit of light in all this gloom when author Ryan Thompson arrives with a delightful play. Stage manager Kira lends Becca clothing an d gives her a lamp housing Teel the genie who orders Becca to make her four wishes so the genie can get on with his life.

This is a charming Manhattan fairy tale romance though the genie is street tough (not bottle tough). Although Becca with her profound observations on everything somehow missed Dean being an embezzler is a bit difficult to grasp. However readers who accept that the Dramaturg failed to notice her boyfriend's felonious behavior will appreciate an amusing tale of a heroine with four wishes holding back on the last one just in case she needs it to persuade her new love they can write romance together.

The Killing Edge
Heather Graham
9780778327714, $24.95

A decade ago teenager Chloe Marin attended a party that turned ugly. She was fortunate to survive a mass killing of her friends. The police insist all the cult killers were caught.

That deadly incident triggered her to become a psychologist using art therapy to help survivor victims and as a consultant to the police. Her current assignment is to help locate a swimsuit model Colleen Rodriguez whose employer the Bryson Agency insists she went missing in the Keys for some fun in the sun. Her inquiry leads to British private investigator Luke Cane who is undercover as Jack Smith of Mermaid Designs searching for Colleen also. They soon find leads to the same cult leader who engineered the massacre of Chloe's friends ten years ago while the ghost of Colleen visits Chloe pleading for help. More homicides occur as Chloe and Luke are attracted to one another, but ending the cult leader's killing spree supersedes their feelings even as more ghosts visit her.

The Killing Edge is an exhilarating paranormal psychological romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the opening Manson-like slaughter and never slows down as Chloe charges head first into the fray while Luke tends to back away until now as he finally has a purpose: keeping Chloe safe. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy this fine tale as the ghosts of past and present urge Chloe on while Luke begs her to reconsider her face first plunges into danger.

Out Of Mind
Stella Cameron
9780778327691, $7.99

Willow Millet strives for a normal life although her family possesses paranormal skills that very few outside of them do. She has the talent but rejects it though she loves her family. Thus she owns and runs the Mean 'n Green Concierge while her kin manage J. Clive Antiques though some are in London rather than the hometown New Orleans. She met one man of interest to her; Club owner Benedict Fortune who is one of the few outsiders with psychic abilities, but her denial of their talents drove them apart.

Recently, someone or something is killing her customers. NOPD sees one connection, Willow. At the same time Ben wants his Willow to acknowledge their love and their skills. She continues to reject him and their talent, but this time he refuse s to go away especially when he believes a malevolent essence stalks his beloved though he is unsure why but has a reasonable guess.

The second Court of Angels urban romantic fantasy (see Out of Body) is tense thriller that grips readers early on due mostly to the French Quarter atmosphere accentuated by the heroine feeling something shadows her. Humor at the right moments enhances the anticipation that something bad will happen to Willow as the evil lurks in her background killing clients and associates of hers. With vividly described degenerate social galas vividly described that add to the sense of doom, fans will appreciate this fine second chance at love with Ben understanding his first mission is to keep his soul mate safe from whoever covets her from the shadows of death.

The Storm
Margriet de Moor
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307264947, $25.95,

In 1953 Lidy and her almost identically looking sister Armanda agree to trade places. Lidy will journey to Zierikzee to visit Armanda's godchild; Armanda will watch her two year old niece and go with her brother-in-law to an Amsterdam gala.

Since WWII ended eight years earlier, the Dutch have neglected the dikes that restrain the flood waters. However, that negligence comes home to roost when a monster storm assaults Holland. When the storm and the aftermath mountain of water hit, thousands die. Over the years since the deadly torrent and flood Armanda feels overwhelming survivor guilt as she should have been the one caught in the deadly storm.

Based on a true catastrophe caused by a North Sea Hurricane sending a monstrous wall of water over the dikes, The Storm grips the audience from the moment the sisters say good-bye. The audience anticipates what will happen as Lidy increasingly expects death while Armanda feels deep guilt praying for a miracle. Margriet de Moor focuses on the two siblings during the natural horror made worse by neglect and specifically afterward on Armanda who is overwhelmed with guilt. In spite of knowing what will pass, The Storm is a gripping historical thriller as this was Holland's Katrina.

Losing Charlotte
Heather Clay
9780375415388, $24.95

Sisters Charlotte and Knox Bolling grew up on their family Four Corners Kentucky horse farm. Each knows thoroughbreds as well as they know people and in many respects are more comfortable with horses. When Charlotte leaves for New York, Knox resents her leaving her to remain on the farm.

Charlotte marries finance manager Bruce Tavert. They move to the West Village of Manhattan, but though geographically apart, the siblings remain close yet apparently different. Charlotte gives birth to twin boys, but dies soon after her sons are born prematurely. Although hardly knowing one another except through Charlotte and their grief for her, Knox and Bruce raise the babies together as she leaves the farm for the big city.

Losing Charlotte is a fascinating character study of three people who are tied together through the death of one of them and the births of the next generation. Bruce and Knox grieve their loss, but the latter is the more fascinating protagonist. Whereas Bruce is New York banker stereo type; Knox struggles to adapt to Manhattan after the Kentucky farm especially raising her nephews and finally dealing with her assortment of contrary feelings towards Bruce, the twins and ultimately Charlotte. She changes throughout the story line as she goes from ire for what she perceives is her sibling's desertion to innocent caretaker to almost in love with her brother-in-law to finally uplifting nurturer. She mak es this family drama an entertaining deep tale

Bone Fire
Mark Spragg
9780307272751, $25.95

In Ishawooa, Wyoming Sheriff Crane Carlson finds the corpse of a teen amidst the wreckage of a meth lab at a time the stoic cowboy has personal issues. He has just learned what he expected about his failing health and wants to reconnect with his first wife who has remarried; not withstanding that Crane is married too. His current spouse Jean is a nasty vulnerable drunken pothead outraged that her husband is reaching out to her predecessor and not her.

Her daughter Griff the sculptor dropped out of her eastern college to return to Wyoming to care for her ailing octogenarian grandfather Einar Gilkyson. He loves her especially her devotion, but wants her to live her life as her health care graduate student boyfriend Paul heads to Uganda with or without her. Instead Einar asks his estranged lesbian sister Marin whose long time love just died to come to the ranch to take acre of him as he is dying.

Paul's nephew ten years old Kenneth was abandoned by his New Age mom. However, rancher Barnum McEban raises the lad with tender love.

This is a well written modern day western drama of life in a small Wyoming town. Griff is the hub of the tale as the ensemble cast is a sort of no more than two degrees from her. The characters are too stereotyped, but they come together in stark environs as life seemingly tosses no hitters at them. Yet with all the desolateness of reality, Griff shines with a powerful caring energy while using the bone remains of animals as the objects of her art; metaphysically displaying life as a Phoenix arising from the Bone Fire of the dead.

The Lake Shore Limited
Sue Miller
9780307264213, $25.95

Author Wilhelmina "Billy" Gertz writes a play about an anxious family learning of the terrorist bombing of The Lake Shore Limited as the train enters Union Station in Chicago as their mother-wife is on board. Billy knows she is the model for the estranged husband in her play as she waited for news whether her lover Gus died on one of the 9/11 plane crashes.

Gus's sister Leslie believes her late younger brother found the love of his life in Billy. Still Leslie tries to set up Billy with her friend Sam as she assumes the playwright is grieving her loss and the Lake Shore Limited was her catharsis. Meanwhile Rafe who has the role of the aloof husband in the play feels remorse and survivor guilt as his wife is dying,

The play within the novel is not a new idea, but brilliantly used by Sue Miller to bring together a post 9/11 quarter either grieving or suffering from guilt as each has personal issues. The story line rotates perspective so that the audience obtains a deep look at grief and healing as only love can bring to the soul. The Lake Shore Limited is a terrific character driven tale as readers will relish Sue Miller's profound look at surviving tragedy by putting a face to those 3000 plus who died on 9/11.

The Hunted
Anna Leonard
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373618330, $5.25,

Seal-kin Dylan Meredith liked his islander lifestyle, but keeps hearing a siren's call somewhere to the west. He knows not all of his kind meets their life mate as his mom for instance had several mates, but the call just never ceased. No one in generations had traveled far to the west, but Dylan decides to follow his gut and heart.

A nasty storm washes an unconscious naked Dylan onto a Nantucket beach near the home of photographer Beth Havelock, who makes most of her money by photo restoration. When the human and the shapeshifter meet, each is stunned by the attraction. He realizes why her restless call brought him here as she has some of his breed's DNA. However, they must flee when hunters are aware of him and want his skin that enables a human to alter their appearance.

The Hunted is an enjoyable oceanic romantic fantasy starring two likable lead characters on the lam from some nasty sorts. The story line is fast-paced especially once Dylan leaves his haven home for his destiny. Although the premise is not new (for instance, see Melanie Jackson's Selkie sea saga), the audience will enjoy Anna Leonard's take on shapeshifting Selkie.

His Woman In Command
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Romantic Suspense
9780373276691, $4.99

In what passes for an Officer's Club on the Afghan-Pakistani border, Special Forces Captain Gavin Jackson notices the beautiful woman enter the tent. He learns Captain Nike Alexander is an Air Force Black Jaguar Squadron pilot who takes her career seriously and as such has no time for men in her life.

Whereas Gavin leads a ten person unit battling the Taliban, Nike is part of a team working a drug runner assignment. Nike is attracted to the handsome captain, but conceals from him how she feels. He wants her and does not hide his desire from her, but also remembers what happened to his last fling with a woman in uniform. When Nike ends up in a precarious situation, Gavin like the Calvary charges to the rescue

The Black Jaguar Squadron military romance is an enjoyable timely tale of love in the theatre of operations. The story line takes a bit to provide the reader with the setting, but once done, the plot moves faster than the planes Nike flies. Fans will admire the courage of the lead couple and several support players as Gavin and Nike work their assignments while falling in love. Lindsay McKenna is at her very best and it shows in this outstanding romantic suspense

Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618323, $5.25

Archaeologist Robert Cramer and Taq Warrior for the Light operative Aella Palas travel to the Great Spirit Mound in Ohio to obtain the fourth necklace piece. Both understand the importance of their mission as the necklace is the key to overcome evil.

At the site, neither is aware of Atok Sopa, who protects the location from his fourth dimensional realm. However, he recognizes her as his eternal beloved but though she feels an incredible euphoria she is unsure why. He comes to her in her dreams where he explains their past and the test of his powers that split them apart to his remorse and her unawareness. Now Atok wants his wife from their previous lives together back. However, a Tupay dark mage has other plans for the priceless necklace segment and those in the way on the mortal realm forcing a frantic Atok to possess Robert's body.

The latest Warriors for the Light quest fantasy (see Unforgiven and The Dark Truth) is an entertaining thriller that combines several themes like reincarnation, shapeshifting, and possession in the war between good and evil. Fast-paced from the moment the pair reach Ohio on their mission, Reunion never slows down as the frenetic somewhat hysterical hero risks all to save the woman he will love for eternity.

61 Hours
Lee Child
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385340588, $28.00,

Military police officer Jack Reacher hitches a ride with a senior citizen church group tour bus in South Dakota. However, a car ahead fishtails on the icy snow laden road; the experienced but tired bus driver overreacts on the frozen bridge; he does everything else right, but weight wins out and the bus crashes near Bolton.

The local cops are slow on helping the twenty elderly passengers; the bus driver remains in shock. Reacher takes over. However, in town, he will find the reason behind the delay is a methamphetamine lab run by a brutal Mexican cartel out of a nearby abandoned military post. At the same time Reacher helps the Washingtonians, an assassin has arrived in Bolton to kill a brave witness, her lawyer, and the outsider who suddenly protects her.

This is an exciting Reacher thriller as the storm and two upcoming storms isolate the already remote town. Fast-paced throughout, the early chapters have little two fisted action, but grip the audience with insight into the roaming hero as his ethics insist he help the passengers and then the townsfolk, especially law enforcement who realize they are out of their league with the cartel. Readers will enjoy the clock ticking down on Reacher and others as the inevitable showdown in the Badlands is imminent.

Season of Water and Ice
Donald Lystra
Switchgrass Books
c/o Northern Illinois University Press
2280 Bethany Road, DeKalb, IL 60115
9780875806280, $13.95,

In 1957, fourteen years old Danny is stunned when his parents split up. His mom remains in Chicago while he accompanies his dad to Northern Michigan to sell power tools. Neither adult takes the time to explain to Danny why the separation occurred and why his mom abandoned him to his dad. He knows his dad angrily quit his job at a Grand Rapids automobile plant, which in turn angered his mom.

Eighteen year old Amber is an unwed pregnant wannabe artist. She is lonely, frightened, and unhappy as she is unsure of what to do with what she is carrying. Ostracized by the locals, who are led by her horrified parents, she is a pariah shunned by all. Even the father of her child left her. When the two outsider teen misfits meet, they naturally find common ground with being abandoned by loved ones; they begin to help one another adjust to their respective situations, but that too is unacceptable as her former boyfriend returns while Danny's mother remains silent.

Told in the first person by Danny, this is a great character driven historical tale in which time and place is always in the background via subtle references like cars, songs, etc. The key cast members mostly provide profound insight into either Danny or Amber; who in turn are fully developed and anchor the plot. Although doubtful circumstances occasionally drive the story line at times, this coming of age tale stars a young teen growing up rather quickly to the frailty of dysfunctional human relationships. Readers will relish this fine not so happy days in Michigan.

The Queen's Lover
Vanora Bennett
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061689864, $25.99,

As the English cross the Channel invading France, French princess Catherine de Valois feels neglected and alone as she always has, but now her fear has increased dramatically. She knows she cannot turn to her father insane King Charles VI or her mother self-indulgent Queen Isabeau. A timorous person by nature, who would choose flight over fight, she realizes her escape from war torn France is as the wife of English King Henry V. Her only haven in the royal storm is her tutor, poet Christine de Pizan.

Soldier-poet Owain Tudor is part of the Welsh royalty imprisoned by the English monarchy. He has become a page in the court of King Henry V. Christine introduces her only student to Owain. They become close friends although she is now the Queen of England and mother to the ruler of France and England.

This is a strong historical biographical fiction of a woman surviving royal intrigue in two countries. Title aside, this is Catherine's tale although Owain plays a major role. Readers will relish this strong look at the French and English courts before and after Agincourt through the eyes of the person who knew first hand the good, the bad, and the ugly of both monarchies.

The Map of True Places
Brunonia Barry
9780061624780, $24.99

When Zee Finch was a child in Salem, she watched her mother commit suicide. Zee became a juvenile delinquent stealing boats, which led to her nickname "Trouble"; her father lived in his own bubble not realizing how much trouble his daughter caused. Ten years after her last theft, Zee turned her life around becoming a psychotherapist working with the internationally renowned Dr. Liz Mattei and is engaged to a Boston Brahmin.

Zee's perfect life implodes when her patient Lilly Braedon kills herself, which brings up buried memories of her mom committing suicide in front of her. With a need to leave Boston, she heads to Salem where she sees first hand how ill her father is; Zee avoided the truth that her dad also hid from her as to the severity of his Parkinson's disease. However, he needs her now as his companion Melville just left. As father and daughter struggle to finally move on together passed the pivotal moment that led to the omissions and strains between them; Zee throws away her life plan seeking The Map of True Places in her relationship with her dad.

Returning to the Salem of The Lace Reader with some characters from that book appearing in this one, Brunonia Barry provides her fans with a profound complex relationship drama as the past impacts the present and the future. Out of love and grief, Zee and her dad learned to conceal key things from one another which only further separated them when they needed each other for closure. Making the case that in family relationships that honesty is the best policy for the long run, Ms. Barry provides a thoughtful tale that wi ll have readers reflecting on their lives.

The Bone Thief
Jefferson Bass
9780061284762, $24.99

University of Tennessee's anthropology department chairman and the head of the school's human decomposition research facility the Body Farm, Dr. Bill Brockton and his grad assistant Miranda Lovelady open a coffin to obtain a sample for a DNA paternity test. However, the remains inside have been desecrated.

The FBI asks Brockton to assist them on ending a lucrative body parts black market operation. He agrees to play the role of a supplier though he remains preoccupied by his last case Bones of Betrayal. At the same time he struggles with an undercover role to end a chop shop, his medical examiner friend Eddie Garcia has been exposed to a dose of radioactivity that has cost him both hands amputated and likely his job unless he takes an illegal underhanded spin with his hope being Brockton.

This is an entertaining Body Farm mystery as the hero is caught in a personal value's dilemma between helping his friend and ending the black market sales of body parts. This issue comes on top of his inability to move past the betrayal that "murdered" his heart. Although two late shaky spins detract from an otherwise solid undercover tale, forensic fans will enjoy Dr. Brockton's moral crisis.

Bite Me
Christopher Moore
9780061779725, $23.99

The streets of San Francisco are not safe as a predatory vampire prowls them looking for prey. No one is safe from this feline. Perhaps the only humans who might end the biting cat's reign of terror are goth Abby Normal and her brilliant boyfriend, Stephen "Foo Dog" Wong although others like the Animals of Marina Safeway and the Emperor of San Francisco hunt the beast.

Abby and Stephen visit her Masters, vampire couple Jody and Tommy to obtain their help and guidance. The pair owes Abby for keeping them together when she made them immortal with her rendition of The Kiss starring the vamps as the couple. As they work to stop the sharp toothed cat, the team runs into three visiting ancient vamps with teeth to grind, the other hunters and SFPD homicide detectives Rivera and Cavuto who want all of them off the streets of San Francisco so the cops can solve the case.

This is a wild biting satire that takes no prisoners as a vampire cat wrecks havoc on the City by the bay. The story line is amusing and fast-paced but also contains too many cat lives that diverse from the prime plot of hunting the hunter who hunts those hunting it. Fans of the Normal acerbic paranormal tales (see After You Suck) will laugh out loud at Bite Me" A Love Story.

Not Without Hope
Nick Schuyler and Jere Longman
9780061993992, $25.99

On February 28, 2009, Clearwater, Florida is chilly even with the Phillies in town for Spring Training. Ear ly that morning four twentyish men sail from Tampa Bay into the Gulf of Mexico for a day of camaraderie fishing before leaving for different parts of the country. Three of them are football players with two in the NFL (Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith) and the third Will Bleakley having played recently at the University of South Florida. They and the fourth Nick Schuyler expect a fun day. However, 35 miles from Florida, disaster strikes when their boat capsizes. They survive clinging to the ship for hours, but hypothermia eventually kills Marquis, Corey and Will in that order. Almost two full days since the boat turned over, the Coast Guard rescues Nick whose survival is believed to have been caused by seasickness, which led him to wear much warmer clothing than his doomed friends.

Not Without Hope is an incredible account of death and survival as Nick not only fights the bitter cold, but the frightening fear of helplessly watching your friends die while wondering when your turn occurs. Readers will appreciate this powerful memoir as Nick struggles with survivor guilt and more. Although at times his vivid descriptions are redundant, fans will know how Nick feels as he pulls no punches with this deep harrowing description of forty-five hours in hell.

The Sun and The Moon
Brian D. McClure
Universal Flag Publishing
1440 Maple Avenue, Ste. 6B, Lisle, IL 60532
9781933426099, $14.95

The sun is tired so he tells the moon that he is retiring. Fearing the unknown, the moon says to his friend the sun that is a stupid idea as that will end everything especially the fun. Angry at the moon for his lack of support, and further upset over being called a jerk by his BF; the sun shouts at the moon that its reflection is useless. The argument gets nastier as each ignores their responsibilities during the loud argument; neither considered unintended consequences on the innocent people on earth. When each finally calms down and realizes how out of control their respective temper was, both suffers from remorse and vow to never lose control again while making things right.

This is a terrific fable targeting elementary school children. The story line focuses on the consequences of the out of control argument that increasingly heats up while also providing a strong moral stance that flaring tempers cause problems and people must be responsible and accountable for their actions. Although the rhymes at times seem awkward, young readers will enjoy the well written tale, brightened up by Buddy Plumlee's strong illustrations.

The Book of the Shepherd
Joann Davis
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061732300, $19.99,

Joshua the shepherd tries to intervene when the father beats his son while others cheer the dad on. Joshua knows the law is an "an eye for an eye", but that cannot be right. He asks the Lord why he failed to intercede and hears a whispered reply that he did by sending Joshua. Later the kindhearted shepherd dreams of an Old Man who tells him to seek "the new way."

Former slave Elizabeth thanks him for interceding in saving her charge David's life; both having been kicked out by the lad's angry father. Joshua, Elizabeth and David begin a journey to find "the new way". On their trek they share their pasts and meet the Storyteller, the Apothecary, the Blind Man, and the Stranger; all provide them with assistance and morality lessons. The trio also meets evil wolves in sheep clothing. When they reach the destination cave near the Great Inland Sea, the three travelers know "the new way" awaits them deep inside, but will they overcome their fears to obtain what they seek.

This is an interesting parable that explains the changes from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Targeting readers of all ages and including enhancing illustrations (by Sudi McCollum), The Book of the Shepherd is a terrific morality play based on "the story of one simple prayer, and how it changed the world"; The Peace Prayer validates the Law of Substitution allowing compassion not ire and avarice to be humanity's guide.

Good to a Fault
Marina Endicott
9780061825897, $25.99

Forty-three years old divorcee Clara Purdy works as an insurance claims adjuster while living in the house she grew up in inherited after her parents died. Rushing to the bank so she can get back to work on time, Clara crashes into the car driven by Clayton Gage. No one is injured seriously from the fender bender, but the mother of three Lorraine learns while at the hospital she has cancer in its late stage.

Clayton vanishes, so feeling responsible while Lorraine remains hospitalized; Clara invites the woman's nasty mother and her three children to live with her. Clara also allows Lorraine's alcoholic brother to move in too. While everyone in town wonders why Clara is suddenly acting li ke Mother Teresa, others also help especially Minster Paul whose wife left him; he is attracted to Clara. When Lorraine recovers after receiving radical treatment and Clayton returns, Clara feels alone as the three kids go back to live with their parents. Deciding to return to her sterile life before the accident, a changed Clara dumps Paul, but will being alone be enough after having family with her.

This is an entertaining character study that mostly looks at Clara who goes from being alone to having a de facto adoption of a family to being alone again but with a new attitude. Although the profound look at how much Clara changes is a two edged sword as the plot moves at times very slowly, readers will root for the heroine as she begins to leave her self imposed shell seeking her relationship groove.

Lean on Pete
Willy Vlautin
9780061456534, $13.99

When his dad decides to start over for the zillionth time, fifteen year old Charley Thompson relocates with him from Spokane, Washington. However, shortly after moving to Portland, Oregon, Charley's irresponsible father deserts him to move in with a married woman. Soon afterward the woman's husband kills Charley's dad.

Charley obtains a job working for Del Montgomery at Delta Park racetrack. However, watching what Del does to the thoroughbreds upsets Charley more than his dad's death especially when he learns his employer plans to sell his only friend Pete to people who will kill the horse. Deciding nothing is there to keep him in Portland, Charley steals Pete to keep him safe. Together they flee the Pacific Northwest.

Although Charley seems to have incredible luck on his trek with people helping him and Pete providing money, food and shelter without asking questions of why a young teen was .on his own; when no one is there shelter still is easily available. Putting aside the realism probability (Vegas would take Charley and Pete off the board), fans will enjoy his plight and flight as readers will cheer the lad on while knowing all he wants is to be part of a loving family.

Alafair Burke
9780061561221, $24.99

NYPD is at the penthouse at 212 Lafayette owned by real-estate tycoon the Sam Sparks. Inside is the corpse Robert Mancini, an employee of the Sam Sparks. Leading the investigation is Detective Ellie Hatcher, who upsets the owner with her shoes on his carpet; the tycoon seems oblivious that his employee has been shot with a zillion or so bullets. Although evidence points towards an escort being with the victim just before he was killed, Hatcher finds that too convenient and lo oks closer at the Sam without ruling out the missing companion. That upsets her politically devoted bosses.

At the same time Hatcher is warned to stop looking at the Sam, NYU student Megan Gunther receives threatening messages on Campus Juice anonymous website. Her parents ask the police for help, but are told nothing can be done about untraceable creeps who have not broken the law. They are irate that unless something happens to their daughter, the cops will do nothing. They prove prophetic when someone kills Meghan less than twenty-four hours after their police visit although her escort roommate might have been the target. As more corpses are found, Hatcher and her partner J.J. Rogan struggle to end a serial killing spree.

The latest Hatcher police procedural (see (after Dead Connection and Angel's Tip) is a tense modern day timely thriller that grips the audience from the opening murder scene and never slows down although there is an abundance of bodies. The convoluted story line is loaded with action as the two cops struggle with clues that end or take them in a different direction. Fans will enjoy this deep cautionary tale as Internet stalking is a phenomenon that is difficult to deal with beyond unplugging.

31 Bond Street
Ellen Horan
9780061773969, $25.99

In 1857 New York City residents are fascinated with the brutal murder of dentist Harvey Burdell. The victim had his throat slashed to the point that he was nearly beheaded. Numerous stab wounds were inflicted all over his body.

Seeing an opportunity to further his political ambitions Manhattan District Attorney Oakey decides Burdell's upstairs neighbor at 31 Bond Street townhouse, the widow Emma Cunningham killed the dentist. The mother of two daughters insists she was Burdell's lawful wife, but the prosecution insists she was a rejected lover who passionately killed her paramour. Her only hope to avoid conviction resides with defense attorney Henry Clinton.

This is a terrific pre Civil War legal thriller that reads more like a superb historical than a whodunit. Readers obtain a deep look at Manhattan at a time when a slave scandal has rocked the city. Rotating between the days following the murder and flashbacks into the lives of the key cast members, fans will feel they have gone back in time as Ellen Horan captures the essence of the era.

The Sweet By and By
Todd Johnson
9780061579523, $13.99

At the Ridgecrest Nursing Center in rural North Carolina, life is repetitively dull everyday for the residents, who wait to die. However, two of them, steel magnolia Margaret Clayton and country music fan Bernice Stokes meet and becomes friends though the former is witty and the latter is incoherent for the most part. They become the dynamic duo nuking every rule.

Their church-going nurse Lorraine watches over the pair closely while protecting them from any real trouble from the brass although she knows the devilish women enjoy stirring her juices. Lorraine's daughter April attends medical school, but relishes the antics of the two BFFs; as does Rhonda the beautician who does thei r hair on her off days.

This is an entertaining character study of women bonding although they are from different walks of life and three generations. Rotating perspective between the fearsome five female friends, readers get to know each of the protagonists. Fans who appreciate a wonderful character driven saga that reminds readers what life is all about will relish a visit to Ridgecrest as The Sweet By and By is friendship.

Dearest Cousin Jane
Jill Pitkeathley
9780061875984, $13.99

In 1787, Jane's mother expresses her concurs to her husband Mr. Austen about the behavior of his niece Countess Eliza de Feuillde whom she calls Betsy as she did before the aristocratic marriage. He insists she is just having fun with her flirting with their two sons James and Henry. However, Mrs. Austen complains that her seductive airs send the wrong behavioral message to fifteen years old Cassandra and especially twelve years old Jane who carefully watches her older cousin's antics.

Eliza Hancock came to Paris in 1780. There she met the Comte and married him. They had a child Hastings whose health is poor and soon after their stay in England with her paternal uncle's family, he dies. Not long after that Eliza's spouse is guillotined. Even in mourning, Eliza still teases the men especially Jane's brothers; playing them against each other while Jane watches in fascination and her mom disapproves.

By using a young Jane's real cousin who had an apparent scandalous reputation, Jill Pitkeathley provides a fresh look at the influences on the author before Miss Austen became the novelist. For fans of biographical fiction and of course anyone who wants more Austen in their diet, Dearest Cousin Jane is a super repast as this is an enjoyable invigorating look at the extended family through the impact of the notorious cousin.

A Lost Wife's Tale
Marion McGilvary
9780061766091, $14.99

Edith Lutz has run away. She obtains work as a housekeeper to publisher Adam Davenport by lying about her background. However, Edith seems to always look back as if she expects someone to come up to her and say gotcha.

As Edith and Adam become better acquainted they are attracted to one another. However, though she wants more, Edith never stays around for relationships of the heart as she learned as a child they always lead to misery. Still she wants to stay as Adam loves her, but her lies are catching up to her as her past has too, which means it is time to run again before she is hurt if he unmasks the real Edith.

Edith holds the tale together as the viewpoints are mostly seen through her eyes and the story line rotates between her present and her past. She is a fascinating protagonist though in spite of her abusive childhood never fully garners reader empathy and loses that when a relative arrives searching for her. Interestingly the other key cast members even to a degree Adam in the present but especially her family in the past are predominantly seen through Edith's filter so the latter cannot "defend" themselves. Readers who relish a strong character study will want to understand Edie's tale.

The Mapping of Love and Death
Jacqueline Winspear
9780061727665, $25.99

In 1932, Maisie Dobbs receives a note from Dr. Hayden of Massachusetts General Hospital who volunteered as a combat physician during the Great War; and of whom Maisie worked with. He asks her to meet with an elderly American couple whose son went missing during the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The Clintons inform her that farmers in France have uncovered a series of rooms that were part of the trenches. Inside are bodies of the British Cartography Section including their son who joined as a teen in 1914. They want to know who killed him as the autopsy revealed he died from a blow to his face.

Maisie, with Billy supporting her agrees, to investigate. She looks at the other information like letters and a dairy to help her. As she digs deep into what happened in this trench room in 1916, Maisie also copes with personal issues starting with Billy's wife leaving the psychiatric ward, Dr. Maurice's illness, Stratton's replacement at the Yard and her feelings for Canadian expatriate James Compton.

This is a terrific Depression Era whodunit as Maisie knows she has achieved her prime goal and is now entering her middle years so feels a bit adrift as she is undecided what next. The case is superb as the inquiry provides the reader a deep look at trench warfare during WWI. As entertaining as the military mystery are the goings-on in the heroine's personal life. The mapping of Love and death is a great historical investigation thriller.

Seeing Stars
Diane Hammond
9780061863158, $13.99

Ruth Rabinowitz knows her thirteen years old daughter Bethany is destined for stardom in Hollywood. Thus, she leaves behind her husband (Bethany's dad) and takes her teen to Los Angeles where she expects instant status.

As Bethany's manager Mimi Roberts renames her Bethany Ann Roosevelt, the child enters the world of humiliating rejections while her mom continues Seeing Stars. Bethany meets other teen wannabes with more experience at being cast off. Laurel hopes to be a star before her dying mom passes away. Allison the Texan has personal issues that interfere with her acting desires. Quinn, also from Seattle like Bethany is, has been abandoned by her abusive stepfather and ineffective mother, which makes Mimi her surrogate parent.

Fascinatingly the story line focuses mostly on the stage mother and her offspring as they face rounds of degrading rebuffs, yet the stereotyped three other teens steal the show with their personal troubles. In fact Ruth's epiphany about motherhood and stage motherhood detracts from the tense character driven saga of a teen trying to make it in Hollywood where the norm is debasing oneself only to receive demeaning dismissal.

This Body of Death
Elizabeth George
9780061160882, $27.99

On compassionate leave, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley remains in Cornwell still grieving the murder of his wife. However, Metropolitan Police acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery wants to be London's top cop without the acting label. To do so, she needs Lynley to eliminate a potential impediment.

Someone murdered Jemima Hastings; the Hampshire native was found dead in a London cemetery. Whereas Lynley's team detests Ardery, they investigate the case. Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and Detective Inspector John Stewart follow clues to New Forest where animals are welcome and people are not. Meanwhile Lynley returns to London to help solve the Hastings homicide.

This is a terrific police procedural that reads more like a psychological suspense than a typical investigation story line. In London and in New Forest, suspects seem everywhere, which makes for a delightfully convoluted inquiry. Lynley is terrific as he grieves for his late spouse yet seems to understand his superior is much more than just an ambitions bi*ch. His team is also fascinating as everyone one of them loath Ardery as an aggressive SOB whose career supersedes case solving and compassion. The Body of Death is a great character driven English thriller.

The Informer
Craig Nova
Shaye Areheart
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307236937, $26.00,

In 1930 Berlin Police Department Serious Crimes Section Homicide Investigator Armina Treffen is the best cop at catching serial killers. Her current case involves brutal strangulation of women whose battered bodies are dumped in the Tiergarten.

Treffen knows she needs insider help so turns to twenty-two year old hooker Gaelle, who is warned by her teen pomp Felix to stay away from the cop. While Treffen seemingly fails to recruit Gaelle to be her eyes and ears on the streets, Bruno Hauptmann hires Gaelle as a personal informant to inform him of any information she picks up from her Johns. Soon the three pulls on Gaelle will collide with the serial killer being the force behind the crash.

The Informer is more a historical thriller than a German police procedural as Craig Nova provides a powerful look at Depression Era Weimar Republic through a focus on the cast. Gaelle steals the show from the cop, the pimp, the killer and the client with her distrust of all. Insight into her psyche makes for a fabulous dark tale as readers obtain a deep look into a prostitute at a time when economically depressed Germany is in transition with no options except the street for Gaelle.

A Catch In Time
Dalia Roddy
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781605421032, $7.95,

A mysterious force leaves people unconscious for three minutes. When they awaken, they remember nothing about what went on during that time and the global population was decimated. The only person to recall what occurred was Laura who saw an energy dimension and a community of Shadows on the other side of the "barrier". They are the creators for every life form on the planet and responsible for the evolutionary leaps from amoebas to humans.

A second wave causes massive headaches as a dark energy bombarded the world, which made people evil. They become Shaitan and since the energy well is closed, all newborns are filled with dark eyes marking them as the evil Shairan. Older children and adults that were turned by dark energy are recognizable by their darkened eyes. Years later Laura's daughter Lily is kidnapped by her Shaitan father. Laura and her family mount a rescue and while they are doing this they want to find a way to open the energy barrier so the souls can come in and the dark will leave so that the balance will be restored.

Readers who enjoyed THE STAND will want to read A Catch in Time. Although bizarre religions emerge after the energy waves strike, this is not a religious thriller as the heroine sees through the false prophets. No one believes what she claims she saw during the unconscious state, but she insists the devolution of humanity is happening with dark energy entering people especially babies. Although not fully explained why the waves started, Dalia Roddy provides an intriguing thriller.

A Curtain Falls
Stefanie Pintoff
9780312583965, $24.99

In 1904, New York City residents are stunned by the tragic sinking of General Slocum. Like so many locals, NYPD partners detectives Simon Ziele and Declan Mulvaney are impacted by the calamity. Simon's fiancee died with the sinking; he quit the force and left the city moving to Dobson up the Hudson. Declan stayed with NYPD until now in 1906 he is a captain.

Needing someone he trusts, Mulvaney asks Ziele, who just watched in disgust a jury set free a spouse killer, to investigate the murder of a Broadway chorus girl; the second such homicide made to look like a suicide near the Garrick Theater on West Thirty-Fifth in the last few weeks. Ziele believes a serial killer is loose. The cops arrest a suspect, but Ziele thinks the wrong man has been brought in. He and criminologist Alistair Sinclair investigate the murders.

The latest Ziele historical police procedural (see In the Shadow of Gotham) is an excellent period piece with a strong whodunit. Readers will enjoy the cankerous camaraderie between Ziele and Sinclair who respect each other professionally but also distrust one another personally especially with the former guilt-laden attracted to the latter's widow daughter-in-law. With insight into the beginnings of the Great White Way becoming the American Theater District inside a strong cop case, Stefanie Pintoff provides sub-genre fans with another superb early twentieth century mystery.

Dead Head
Rosemary Harris
9780312569945, $24.99

In Springfield, Connecticut, gardener Paula Holliday is shocked when the news explodes that one of her clients whom she was considering a partnership with, Caroline Sturgis, is actually Monica Jane Weithorn, who escaped from prison over a quarter of a century ago. Monica Jane had been convicted of drug dealing, but has since straightened out her life becoming a wife and mom as a pillar of society.

Now the "Fugitive Mom" is going back to prison to complete her sentence and probably more for her escape. Caroline's stunned husband Grant tells Paula his wife is a stranger, but needs to know who turned her in to the authorities. Knowing that Paula has solved cases (see The Big Dirt Nap and Pushing Up Daisies), he hires her to investigate; she accepts as she can use the money with the economy still tanked and besides she is curious too. Her friends Police Sergeant Mike O'Malley and reporter Lucy Cavanaugh also wonder who.

Based on headlines from a few years ago, Dead Head is a terrific amateur sleuth though it is the parallel look at the life (past and Present) of the Fugitive Mom who makes this an exhilarating character driven tale. Fast-paced in both eras, readers will be as spellbound as Paula and the rest of Springfield are comparing Dead Head Monica Jane with family matriarch Caroline.

Sham Rock
Ralph McInerny
9780312582654, $24.99

Because of the recession, financial adviser David Williams returns to his ala mater Notre Dame to visits his son attending classes there and to inform the university's administration he cannot afford to finance a new building as he promised. As David visits, another alumnus sends to the school's associate archivist a box filled with newspaper clippings and various other sundry including the confession of a murder and burial of the victim, another student from the class of 89 Timothy Quinn, who had vanished two decades ago.

The school leadership, having used retired private investigator Philip Knight to work sensitive cases before, asks him to look into the Quinn situation. With the help of his brother Catholic Studies Professor Roger Knight Philip begins his inquiry starting with a look back to 1989 when the "Trinity" of David, Timothy and Patrick were rivals and buddies. Upon digging up the corpse, the siblings realize the case is much more convoluted than they expected.

The latest Knight brothers Notre Dame investigative tale (see The Green Revolution) is one of the better entries in what is a fun lighthearted private detective series. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the archivist opens the box and never slows down as Philip with Roger assisting him begins the inquiry into what happened in 1989 only to find a much bigger case on their hands. Ralph McInerny, who died in January, provides a strong Fighting Irish academic mystery.

A Twist of Orchids
Michelle Wan
9780312549947, $24.99

In Dordgone, France, English orchid expert Julian Wood and French-Canadian interior designer Mara Dunn love one another but struggle with relational accommodations as both are set in their ways. Especially troublesome to Mara is Julian's obsessive annual hunt for the rare Lady's Slipper orchid.

As the couple struggles with compromise, Kazim, son of Turkish sweet shop bakery owners, sees a woman fall to her death from the balcony of the Two Sisters restaurant. Mara is shocked with her neighbor octogenarian Amelie Gaillard's dying from what everyone assumes was an accident, but even more shocking is that the victim's daughter Christine failed to come to the funeral or assist her Parkinson's ailing dad Joseph with his grief. Soon afterward, Kazim is missing and his parents plead with Julian to search for him. As Mara looks into Galliard family secrets, she finds herself involved with the rhyming thefts while Julian's investigation has him allied with a drug dealer.

The third Death in Dordgone amateur sleuth mystery (see Deadly Slipper and The Orchid Shroud) is an enjoyable dueling investigative tale. The lead couple's personal issues as a new middle aged couple trying to adapt to living with a lover are amusing though extremely minor especially compared with the deep look at Muslims living in France. Fans of French modern day mysteries will enjoy A Twist of Orchids as neither of the lead couple finds their inquiry as simple as expected; almost as hard as they d iscover living with another adult.

The Burying Place
Brian Freeman
9780312562748, $24.99

Although injured from a nasty fall, Duluth, Minnesota Police detective Jonathan Stride continues his investigation into the kidnapping of eleven month old Callie Glenn. Her father is a renowned Grand Rapids, Minnesota orthopedic surgeon Marcus and her mother Valerie were having marital problems that she at least hope the baby would resolve.

Because of the way the abduction occurred, Jonathan strongly believes someone with access to the exclusive waterfront house abducted the infant starting with the father who kicked his long time mistress to the curb and the babysitter whom he might have begun a fling with. Jonathan's partner, Detective Maggie Bei assists him on his inquiry while leading an investigation on a serial killer. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time leads to rookie cop Kasey Kennedy becoming the psychopath's latest obsession.

This is an exciting Minnesota police procedural starring several cops with personal issues, but the key is that the two cases remain front and center. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action throughout and a great final spin. Although the convergence of the investigations feels strained, readers still will enjoy this entertaining tale as the hero and company remain In the Dark while they stride down the mean streets of Duluth.

The End Game
Gerrie Ferris Finger
9780312611552, $24.99

It was supposed to be a weekend of loving and relaxing for Lieutenant Richard Lake of the Atlanta Police department and his beloved former partner Mariah Dru, owner of Child Trace, Inc., an organization dedicated to finding and rescuing missing children. However, Lieutenant Portia Devon interrupts their time alone because a fire in Cabbagetown killed Mr. and Mrs. Barnes and their foster children Jessie and Dottie are missing.

When Lake and Dru reach the neighborhood they discover a child went missing three and a half years ago and another vanished eight years ago. While they talk to the neighbors the Barnes' house blows p because someone planted two bombs in it.. An internet tip leads the lovers to believe that the girls were snatched to be sold to a buyer with special tastes. Time is running out on the pair of girls who are cargo being shipped overseas.

Cabbagetown is an interesting neighborhood filled with fascinating characters; of whom two know a lot more than they are willing to say to authorities. If either spoke up, the attempts to kill Dru and Lake would not have happened and the girls could have been rescued within twenty-four hours of the fire. With a timely topic of the sale of sexual slaves including children in a lucrative illegal business, the lead couple is an admirable pair as they risk all to save the kids.

The Other Side of the Door
Nicci French
9780312375409, $25.99

In London band singer Bonnie is stunned to find her secret boyfriend, another band member Hayden lying dead inside of his apartment. Panicking, Bonnie hides the corpse, cleans up the crime scene and erases any traces of her ever being there. She conceals she was ever intimate with Hayden because the police will know she had opportunity and her probable motive being Hayden's other women.

Afterward, as she reflects back as to what she did, Bonnie realizes the police will still look her way. However, she also begins to think lucidly about the crime scene and concludes someone else cleansed their traces from the pad.

This is an excellent crime caper as Bonnie looks back from the moment she found the body in a way that makes the audience assume she actually might have killed the victim. The story line grips the reader who will not want to put it down in order to find out did she killed him or not. Although amnesia is not part of the plot, The Other Side of the Door will remind readers of Memento with its look back. The strong support cast enhances an intriguing thriller starring a beleaguered abused heroine as the Nicci French writing duet provides a terrific winner.

Dead in the Water
Meredith Cole
9780312625047, $24.99

She is an artist to the depth of her soul, taking first class photographs that she hopes will give her the name recognition she needs to make a living doing what she loves and enabling her to quit her day job. Lydia Mackenzie works in the office of private investigators Leo and Frankie D'Angelo. In her free time she takes photos of prostitutes working the waterfront capturing their emotions on film.

Her favorite model is Gloria; the hooker calls Lydia for help, but her answering machine picks up the plea. At the park in Williamsburg Lydia finds Gloria's body, an obvious homicide victim. Feeling guilty that she failed to take the call, Lydia investigates. Over the next few days more prostitutes are murdered and a husband to a D'Angelos cousin. It is as if a Jack the Ripper was working Brooklyn. Lydia continues to dig but soon finds herself in danger from the last person she would suspect as she thought that gentle individual would not hurt a fly.

Dead in the Water looks deeply into the free trade life of prostitution especially their private side and how they cope with their pimps who demand they make money for or else. It is heartwarming though doubtful to watch the hookers gather together as a group The Golden Horseshoe to watch each other's back. The heroine has some investigative skills and a desire for justice, which in combo leaves her vulnerable from a serial killer who will not mind at all adding an obit on a wannabe photographer.

Path of the Wicked
Jennifer Stanley
9780312376833, $7.99

The Sunrise Bible Study of Hope Street Church gathers every Sunday to discuss a portion of scriptures. The group's members are not students, but bonded in friendship which has grown stronger recently when they solved a murder case (see Stirring Up Strife). They back up what they say with their latest endeavor as volunteers delivering Door-2-Door Dinners.

Cooper and Nathan work hard with enthusiasm and determination. However, trouble comes for the pair. Three clients had valuable items stolen after the Door-2-Door visits. Worse, three elderly people died sitting in a chair in their homes. The police do not think there is a connection to the church, but Cooper disagrees; she investigates. Her friend helps Cooper in order to keep her safe as her activities can prove dangerous. One of her clients died sitting in a chair; but Cooper thinks back to when she first saw him and thought he was dead at that time as he did not move but wa s revived from a deep unnatural sleep before the perp really killed him. The cops make an arrest, but Cooper believes they failed to find the culprit.

This inspirational cozy is filled with likable characters who readers would like to meet in real life as they are good caring folks who walk the walk they preach (except of course the perp in sheep's clothing). Although the heroine is too impulsive (the devil did not make her do it), she does what she believes is right even if the means breaking and entering. She, her sidekick and the rest of the posse make for a delightful whodunit.

Sick Like That
Norman Green
9780312385439, $25.99

While her employer private investigator Marty Stiles is in rehab following a gunshot wound that has left him wheelchair bound and without a will to live; Alessandra "Al" Martillo takes charge of the office. She assigns the tedious tasks to office receptionist Sarah Waters, but also takes the newcomer out into the field. Sarah searches for a dying wealthy client Mrs. West's estranged stepson Jake. Al seeks Sarah's ex-husband, Frank, who vanished after informing his former wife he scored a terrific job that sounded suspiciously too good.

Sarah's simple job takes a nasty turn while Al finds herself surrounded by law enforcement when Frank becomes a person of interest by NYPD and the Feds. Each Brooklynite struggles with their respective case but reacts differently.

Although both females are from Brooklyn and kick butt, they are different and thus their particular subplot handled radically dissimilar. Al and Sarah make the tale work as their nominal boss Marty may have seen his Last Gig. Readers will appreciate this exciting double dose female noir as the dual searches don't quite go by the book as written by Norman Green.

Snakes Can't Run
Ed Lin
9780312569884, $24.99

In 1976 in New York City, NYPD Chinese-American detective Robert Chow remains deeply troubled by his time in Vietnam. However, he tries to insure his nightmares do not impact his performance as a cop. His current assignment along with his partner Vandyne is going undercover as a Con Ed worker following up a report by tourists of hearing gunshots in Chinatown as the department is on a terrorist alert.

At the same time much of the rest of the precinct is preoccupied with the FALN terrorists who brazenly ignite a bomb near police headquarters. When two Asian males are murdered with the bodies dumped under the Manhattan Bridge, Chow investigates as no one else is available. He soon follows clues of a human smuggling ring the Snakeheads.

The latest Chow historical police procedural is a timely reminder with the roadblocks on the bridges that terrorism is not a 9/11 phenomena. The city comes across dirty and gritty, but even with the FALN attacks it still beating strong. With insight into the assimilation of Asians into America and a deep look at Manhattan's Chinatown, Ed Lin once again provides a strong investigative thriller (see This Is a Bust) as Snakes Can't Run but they can hide.

Expiration Date
Duane Swierczynski
9780312363406, $13.99

Thirty-seven year old reporter Mickey Wade recently lost his position at the Philadelphia City News. Broke and heeding his mom's advice, he moves into the apartment of his ailing grandfather to reduce his costs and to help care for his elderly relative. The Frankford neighborhood is nasty; worse than when he was a child living there and looking forward to escaping from the place. This is where his dad the musician "the Human Jukebox" was murdered.

As Mickey goes to bed with a hangover, he uses expired Tylenol to ease the headache. When he wakes up he finds himself in the neighborhood he knew over two decades ago and is especially shaken when he hears the El passing overhead. Even more shocking is to learn he is breathing on his birth date February 22 1972. He soon learns he can change things when he loses two fingers and, however upon returning to 2009, the fingers are back but useless. He begins to go back to learn more about the man who killed his father; who as a boy lived below his family.

This is an entertaining complicated time travel tale although the premise of going back to change the past even to prevent a murder has been done with plenty of frequency. Still the story line is fun to follow with a few delightful twists including a stunner and the hero is terrific as he meets the "rest of the family" and his dad's killer when the murderer was a tweener. Expiration Date is a fine sub-genre entry, but remembers to throw away those expired pills.

The Edge of Ruin
Irene Fleming
9780312575205, $24.99

In 1909 Philadelphia, Adam Weiss informs his new wife Emily that he has quit his job and sold every asset that have to open up Melpomene Moving Picture Studios in New York. She is stunned as Adam had never done such a bold risky undertaking since he courted her. He further explains to his shocked spouse that he signed a contact with lawyer Howie Kazanow to deliver four one-reel films in a few weeks; if he fails to deliver, he loses the movie firm to Kazanow.

Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company legally owns movie production especially in New York. His monopoly shuts down potential competitors so Weiss takes his crew back across the Hudson to Fort Lee in order to elude Edison's espionage detectives who are all over Manhattan and allegedly the boroughs too. However, while filming in Edison' backyard of New Jersey, a nasty detective arrives on the lot only to be stabbed to death. The police arrest Adam leaving it to Emily and the eccentric crew to finish the films and find proof that her husband is innocent.

This is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth in which the early era of filmmaking steals the show from the mystery. Over a century ago, fans of the silent era will relish the insight to movie-making even before Griffith started filming in the streets of Los Angeles. The whodunit is cleverly devised to enhance the beginning of the motion picture industry as the early twentieth century comes vividly alive in this salute to the first decade of the silent movie era.

The 24th Letter
Tom Lowe
9780312379186, $25.99

At the U.S. District Court in Orlando, the assassin fires one shot at the chest of convict Sam Spelling who is set to testify against a cocaine trafficker. Father John Callahan visits the dying Sam to receive his last confession and give last rites. Sam tells him that death row inmate Charlie Williams never killed his girlfriend; he names enigmatically someone else and states where the weapon can be found that killed Alexandria Cole. In less than four days, the State of Florida will execute Charlie.

Father John's friend former cop Sean O'Brien led the Miami police investigation into the South beach homicide. The case never felt quite right though the evidence obviously hung Williams. Now Father John tells him of Spelling's puzzling death bed confession. The clock is ticking away as an apparent innocent man is about to receive the lethal injection while the real killer of the model is murdering other people to insure no link to the Cole homicide is found. O'Brien with some assistance must figure out what or who is the only clue to identify the culprit, The 24th Letter.

The second O'Brien mystery (see A False Dawn) is an action-packed thriller in which the countdown to the execution hangs over the heads of those who now believe the death row inmate is innocent; especially excruciatingly difficult on the former Miami homicide detective who led the official inquiry. However, the inclusion of implausible incidents to heighten the suspense ironically detracts from an otherwise fascinating tale. O'Brien fears he will be too late to prevent the execution by Sunshine State officials who ignore his plea for a stay so he can complete his second (this time civilian) investigation into the Cole murder.

Water Hazard
Don Dahler
9780312383534, $24.99

Huck Doyle is an attorney who does not practice law nor make much income as a PGA pro. Instead he earns money as a private investigator based in Los Angeles.

As a favor to his son Rick who went to law school with Huck, wealthy banker Sing Ten Wong obtains a slot in the Sony Open in Hawaii. During the practice round at prestigious Waialae Country Club, an assailant shoots Sing Ten in the back, murdering Huck's affluent patron. The shot seemed to come from out of the ocean. Rick asks Huck to investigate as he believes professionals were hired to murder his father due to a bank merger deal. Huck makes inquires that lead to someone telling him to drop his investigation before he is buried in a sand trap.

The latest Doyle golf investigation (see A Tight Lie) is an entertaining but thin sports mystery that focuses much more on the game than the murder and its financial motive. Huck is a fascinating character struggling to get back on the tour, but realizing he better not give up his day job. Although the denouement feels like a bogie, golf fans will enjoy Water Hazard as the protagonist will need to putt his way to the greens as his foes use irons to prevent his solving the case.

Down to the Wire
David Rosenfelt
9780312373948, $24.99

In Teaneck, New Jersey, Bergen News reporter Chris Turley is meeting an anonymous source, using the moniker P.T., who claims he has evidence that exposes government corruption by a high-level official. Just as Chris reaches the rendezvous point, an explosion rocks a nearby office building. Chris becomes par t of the story when he rescues five people; eleven died while seventeen were injured.

P.T. boasts he blew up the building. He continues his killings using bombs and poisoned darts while also bragging about his deadly accomplishments. P.T. contacts Chris to demand he commit suicide if he wants the serial murders to end. Desperate while thinking about how his legendary late father would handle this investigation, Chris accompanied by entertainment editor Dani Cooper, FBI agent Quinlan, and homicide detective Novack, searches for the deadly psychopath before more people die.

Filled with powerful twists and unexpected spins, readers will be totally engrossed in Down to the Wire; with the wire increasingly looking like Times Square on New Year's Eve. The story line is fast-paced from the first explosion until the final explosive climax while loaded with tense suspense that seems to tighten with each page. As Carpenter takes a breather, fans will relish this superb taut cat and mouse thriller as a serial killer plays with the reporter using murder to establish the rules of the game.

Through the Cracks
Barbara Fister
9780312374921, $25.99

Over two decades ago in Chicago's Lincoln Park, a man raped Jill McKenzie. Teenage coke user Chase Taylor was arrested, convicted, but freed on appeal.

Now a sociology professor, Jill has put together a profile about her attacker that leads her to believe he is a serial rapist. She hires private investigator Anni Koskinen to find this predator. She believes he has sexually battered at least seven women in the past decade in between his prison time for other crimes. Although Anni considers her client has an ax to grind, her social work background enables Koskinen to gently talk with the other rape victims. She follows those harrowing nightmarish discussions with meeting with other involved parties from the McKenzie case as she increasingly believes her client is right about her assessment.

Anni makes this gritty dark Chicago investigative tale work as readers will empathize with her, the victims, and the cops trying to remove psychopaths off the streets. Character driven, aptly titled Through the Cracks is a wonderful tale starring a strong yet vulnerable heroine who the audience will admire and want more tales with her as the star.

Desires Of A Perfect Lady
Victoria Alexander
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061449482, $7.99,

In 1885 Lord Newbury orders Earl Sterling Harrington to protect his daughter Olivia. He fears the person who murdered her spouse Rathbourne will kill Olivia next.

Sterling loathes Olivia whom he was betrothed to when she married Rathbourne a decade ago. She sent him letters of explanation that he refused to open and used his hatred of her to remain ignorant of her being prisoner in an abusive marriage that her father fostered on her. Olivia learns her late husband's will contain three stipulations she must meet within a year of his death or she gains nothing. She pleads with Sterling to help her and though he is filled with rage, he cannot deny his beloved Livy anything.

This is a superb Victorian romantic suspense thriller that hooks the audience with the opening pointing of Newbury's cane in the chest of the Earl and never slows down as the action and second chance at love blend nicely into a strong historical. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as both remain hurt with what happened and more important did not happen ten years ago. With several twists and adventures, Desires of a Perfect Lady is a fabulous tale that sub-genre fans will fully appreciate.

Leaving Unknown
Kerry Reichs
9780061808135, $13.99

In Frying Pan Landing, North Carolina Maeve Connelly is fired twice in one day. First her boss at the Gin Mill canned her for being late again; this time as they tried a new happy hour venture. Second her family gives her the boot tired of her irresponsible behavior. She cannot fault either as she vows to become responsible although she blames her misdeeds on a string of bad luck starting when she was nine.

Maeve decides to start over on the left coast where a friend lives. So accompanied by sassy Oliver the cockatiel, she heads west. Upon reaching Unknown, Arizona, her jinx strikes again with her car breaking down. To her shock, the locals welcome her and she works at several jobs feeling pretty good except for her extreme case of hypochondria while delaying her final destination the latter being caused mostly because of Noah the bookstore owning children's author even if he apparently has a girlfriend who's tall enough to dunk.

The second Connelly sister chick lit tale (see The Best Day of Someone Else's Life) stars an eccentric likable protagonist and a horde of nice supporting players. Breezy, this lighthearted frolic is fun to follow though takes a while for the plot to gel as Maeve the cursed seeks her groove in Venice Beach, but wonders if her true destination is Unknown.

The True Love Quilting Club
Lori Wilde
9780061808906, $7.99

When Emma Parks lived in Twilight, Texas she was called Trixie Lynn Parks. She left town the first chance she got to seek acting fame, but a dozen years later she still is seeking major roles as she kicks gonads refusing to blow them.

She is offered the lead in a production in her hometown. Needing to escape from New York after booting a Broadway director, Emma accepts the role. However, when she and Sam Cr eek meet, the attraction could light up Texas. Still he is a single dad with responsibility for his six year old son Charlie who has been mute ever since his mom died in Iraq and she still dreams of being a superstar actress. Chemistry needs compromise if this couple is to find consensus in love.

The strong cast makes for a deep warm contemporary romance although the plot has been done many times before. Besides the lead couple, the title club members and Charlie enhance a look at the impact of war on those left behind especially when a loved one dies. Readers will enjoy this Texas romance as Sam knows Charlie's needs and Emma's wishes to be an actress come before his heart's desires.

In Scandal They Wed
Sophie Jordan
9780061579219, $7.99

In 1850 Evie Cross' half-sister Linnie gives birth to a son out of wedlock. Linnie's mother wants to dump the bastard and her husband is silent. Evie futilely pleads with her father, but persuades her stepmother to allow her to raise the child in rusticated isolation, which destroys her chances for any marriage.

In 1854 in the Crimea, a Russian sniper kills Ian Lockhart. With his final breath, he pleads with his cousin Spencer Lockhart to make it right for his baby; whispering the name Linnie. One year later, Spencer is back in England seeking Linnie and his infant second cousin. However, upon finding her, he never expected a sniper would shoot him at home. Evie takes Spencer into her house after her Aunt Gertie shot him. He thinks she is Linnie and she does not correct him. Out of honor, Spencer proposes; Evie wants to accept as she is attracted to him and sees him as her only hope for marriage, but fears how he will react to the truth.

This is an entertaining Victorian romance starring a strong courageous heroine an honorable hero used to being deceived and a deep support cast. Fast-paced from the opening birthing scene and never slowing down, readers will relish this engaging historical wondering how Spence will react when he learns he offered to marry the wrong woman who is the right women for him.

Summer at Tiffany
Marjorie Hart
9780061189531, $12.99

In 1945, University of Iowa undergrads Marjorie Hart and Marty Garrett managed to come up with the money to take the train to and from New York; their plan is to spend the summer in the big city though that means finding work. They obtain an apartment for the summer overlooking Columbia and Tiffany's hires both of them as their first female floor sales pages running errands up and down the famous store. The pair wore special blue dresses and rings while searching for celebs like Judy Garland and her husband Vincent Minelli. In the evenings the pair hits the night spots all over town and joined the city in celebrating V-J day.

This is an entertaining somewhat fluffy memoir of what ohmygosh was the best summer of the author's life as readers see Manhattan through the eyes of two naive teen visitors. Sweeter than the ice cream served at Schrafft's Ice Cream parlor but not as nourishing as the Automat, fans will enjoy Marjorie Hart's look back with B&W photos to the end of WW II in New York. The year she learned the meaning to the song "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree" (in this case New York).

Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake
Sarah MacLean
9780061852053, $7.99

In 1823 after a lifetime of rejection and embarrassment except for those after her wealth, twenty-eight year old Lady Calpurnia Hartwell wants more out of life than being a prim and proper wallflower. However, she rejects those wastrels interested in her fortune not her. Still Callie seeks action and adventure so draws up a list of nine things prohibited for a lady of the Ton.

Callie needs a hero to help her complete her taboo list. She selects Marquess Gabriel St. John, whom she has always wanted. He is fascinating by her brazen change, but accepts the terms of escorting her through life on the edge if she sponsors his out of control half-sister. Neither expected to fall in love especially him; but when they do and he compromise her and then demands she marry him. However Callie hesitates as she will only marry for love.

This is a wild, fun over the top of Big Ben Regency romance that will have readers smiling all the way through the completion of the list (Sarah MacLean must watch MLB network with Callie's nine best rule breakers). Whereas she makes the tale, Gabriel falls in love with her while wondering whether he will survive her chosen nine. Fast-paced and amusing, fans will appreciate the charming wallflower's Nine Rules to break When Romancing a Rake.

One True Love
Lori Copeland
9780061364945, $12.99

In Timber Creek schoolteacher Copper Wilson has mixed emotions over her two best friends finding love. She is ecstatic that her friends Willow (see One True Love) and Audrey (see Three Times Blessed) have found love with the Gray cousins; but she feels alone as she has no one.

Expecting to be a spinster, she vows to be the best teacher in the state of Texas. However, in her first week as a teacher, the schoolhouse catches fire. Copper gets the kids out by going back inside the smoke filled room to escort the last two out, but suffers a serious ankle injury when the porch railing collapses. Unable to walk, Copper is back on a wagon train led by Josh Redlin to see a physician in Colorado who can help her walk. As Josh and Copper travel together, she finds herself increasingly dependent on the wagon master whom she thought she despised. Instead she sees his caring traits and hate becomes love, but she must persuade Josh her feelings are real and not just gratitude.

The third Belles of Timberlake post Civil War romance is an enjoyable tale with a strong cast especially the battling lead couple. Copper like her two BFFs was badly affected by the Civil War, but was moving on until the fire. Americana fans will admire her courage while rooting for her and the wagon master to change their refrain of I'm Not in Love duet to I Got You Babe. The countdown from three to one has been a fun historical romantic trilogy.

Abandon The Night
Joss Ware
9780061734038, $7.99

Quent Fielding ran away from home in 1997 when she was eighteen years old to escape his abusive martinet father. That occurred thirteen years before he and four other men were trapped in a Sedona, New Mexico cave in some form of a sleep state. Now over fifty years later, they awaken like van Winkle to a world gone mad (see Embrace the Night Eternal and Beyond the Night). He and his cohorts manage to make it to Envy, a bit of purebred human society in what was once known as Las Vegas. Recent information shakes Quent to his DNA core; his father is still alive as one of the architects of the change that destroyed the world. He is determined to track down his father and kill him.

One of the Envy warriors, loner Zoe Kapoor the archer obsesses over killing Raul Marck, who murdered her family. Her attraction to Quent is unacceptable in her mind as her feelings intrude on her quest. Quent shares her desire, but believes his need for her makes him stronger. They agree to team up in order to kill their respective tormentors or die together trying.

The latest Envy post-apocalyptic romantic futuristic tale focuses on two people with family issues. Quent makes Oedipus look like he had no complex while Zoe's thirst for vengeance rivals that of her beloved. Readers will appreciate this dark futuristic world, as we become aware of how foreboding 2050 has become with each entry. Aptly titled as the night is deadly, readers will relish this strong entry and look forward to the saga of the two remaining Awakening Heroes.

His Darkest Hunger
Juliana Stone
9780061808777, $7.99

He had impatiently waited three long years for the right moment to kill his former lover for betraying their antiterrorist team; her seditious actions led to the death of a team member. Now in Winterhaven, jaguar-shifter Jaxon Castille begins his assassination of his former human lover, Libby Jamieson.

Jaxon easily enters her abode and knows he could kill the human traitor before she would even know he is there. However, something does not feel right with what he observes of her; so he hesitates on pulling the trigger. Instead of the Libby he knew, he realizes she is a tortured shell who remembers nothing. Taken aback by her amnesia and his damn feelings Jaxon brings his former teammates together seeking the truth, but remains unaware that the deadly predatory DaCostas clan stalks each of them.

This is an enjoyable urban fantasy starring two lead characters whose acrimony and animosity towards one another seem greater than the love each tries to conceal from the other. The world of Stone is a foreboding grim realm that enables the audience to believe in shapeshifting clans. Although the exciting story line has some shaky moments, readers will appreciate this dark fast-paced tale of betrayal.

The Hittite
Ben Bova
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765324023, $25.99,

The Empire of the Hatti had defeated the Babylonians, Egyptians and many more, but face defeat from within by treachery. The emperor was stripped of his clothing by his sons and hence the Gods abandoned Hatti. Lukka leads his military unit home seeing the capital Hattusas ablaze from a distance. When they arrive inside the burning city they see gangs of drunken youths looting and killing. Lukka finds his dying father who informs him that his wife and sons might live, but are gone as property of the slavers.

He concludes his family would be sold in Troy. Leading his force to Troy, he finds the city under seize by the Achaians, whose lack of discipline makes Lukka ill to need them as an ally. He learns his spouse is a slave and vows to rescue her anyway he can and to learn the fate of his sons. Thus he begins the construct of a wooden horse that if he understands human nature should enable him to see "the face that launched a thousand ships".

This is an interesting retelling of the Trojan Horse with the above description only the beginning as the reader also for instance obtains Helen's side of the saga instead of the usual male machismo as she is all these super hunks' Achilles heel. Lukka is a fascinating military leader who understands war has three offspring: death, maiming and slavery. He knows when his men fight, some will die, some will be maimed, and maybe a few captured and tortured as slaves. Fans will enjoy Ben Bova's rendition of part of Homer's the Iliad

Wanna Get Lucky?
Deborah Coonts
9780765325433, $24.99

In Las Vegas, Lyda Sue Stalnaker left this world with a big final act when she fell from a helicopter into the pirate's lagoon in front of the Treasure Island Hotel; her plunge superseded the in progress 8:30 show. The police investigate and assume another dead sore loser.

However on her way to a troublemaking incident, Babylon Head of Customer Relations Lucky O'Toole is stunned when she sees Lyda Sue making the news. They briefly talked last night so she has a difficult time accepting the woman committed suicide. Lucky decides to make some inquires starting with Willie the Weasel who flew the aircraft and goes even deeper when her former flame Irv Gittings the rat was involved. Although The Big Boss reminds her she needs to focus on the conventions hosted at the Babylon with sexual predators assaulting the adult film annual awards gala, the spouse-swapping swingers, and the computer crowd, Lucky believes Lyda Sue was pushed.

This terrific tongue in cheek investigative tale lampoons the Vegas glitch. Fast-paced Lucky works her inquiry while trying to keep the lewd, the naked, and the nude from attacking the conventioneers with "sales". Wanna get Lucky? is a delightful amateur sleuth starring a troubleshooting woman who lands in the middle of trouble as her top advisor is her mom the brothel owner.

William Peter Blatty
9780765325129, $24.99

In 1973 in Albania, security chief Colonel Vlora the "Interrogator" works to break a prisoner suspected of being an American agent. He and his experts torture the Prisoner in ways the Spanish Inquisition would never of imagined, but the source of their assault never even screams once; instead he takes everything slammed at him in total silence. Even more shocking to his hosts, "the Prisoner" does the impossible; he escapes and completes his mission.

At Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, a series of unexplained deaths shake up the staff. Christian Arab police detective Peter Meral leads the investigation that seems to be going nowhere. Whereas Americans and Israelis struggle with the happenings, none yet know that the Albanian Prisoner, Paul Dimiter is in the Holy City doing what he does best causing hell.

This is not an easy read as the exciting story line seems incoherent when suddenly like a magician William Peter Blatty brilliantly brings it together in a thrilling psychological suspense thriller. Dimiter is an eerie individual who has figuratively lost his soul (not in a horror novel - Exorcist sense) but seeks some form of redemption. Readers will relish the shocking truths as to who he is and why Albania (ask Ho Chi Minh about him) and then Jerusalem.

The Alchemy of Murder
Carol McCleary
9780765322036, $24.99

In 1885 Nellie Bly began her reporting career at the Pittsburgh Dispatch after reading an inane article about a woman being at fault for a man assaulting her. Two years later, she travels to New York where she seeks a journalist position at the New York World, but the Gotham newspaper Gods rejected her. She sells the idea of going undercover as a woman committed to the notorious Blackwell's Island Asylum for ten days; Mr. Pulitzer and his managing editor Mr. Cockerill are stunned but accept.

However, once inside as a mad woman, she realizes that Dr. Blum was murdering New York prostitutes. Pulitzer showed no interest, but Nellie was hired for other undercover exposes. She soon learns of a serial killer in Whitechapel London using the name Jack. She went there after Ripper, but failed to catch him. She soon follows the homicide trail to Paris where the World's Fair introduces the Eiffel Tower while a plague kills many residents, but the killer remains loose. She meets Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde and Louis Pasteur while stalking a psychopath.

This is a superb historical mystery told in the first person by the intrepid heroine. Her obsessive hunt for the prostitute killer spans two continents and several years as the audience obtains a feel for time and place. The two literary greats seem a bit forced into the plot although both assist the intrepid reporter and enhance the era; on the other hand Pasteur is a great inclusion especially his tour of the Paris sewers. Filled with drawings to better describe some of the happenings, readers will enjoy the escapades of four famous people trying to solve the serial murder crimes of the late nineteenth century.

The Divine Sacrifice
Tony Hays
9780765319463, $24.99

Although he lost a hand in combat, Malgwyn ap Cuneglas has become a key adviser to the High King of Britannia Arthur ap Uther. As the monarch tries to unite Britannia under his rule, he trusts loyal Malgwyn with his life and for his sage advice; as does Merlin for Arthur.

Malgwyn accompanies King Arthur to Glastonbury Abbey where Brother Elafius recently died mysteriously. Knowing Malgwyn successfully solved crimes before (see The Killing Way), the Abbott asks him to investigate the cause of death. Malgwyn makes little progress until he realizes the monk was murdered, but no motive appears and everyone inside the abbey had opportunity.

At the same time, his advisor detects, King Arthur and St. Patrick meet. The latter is conducting church business to weed out followers of the Pelagian Heresy. Arthur tries to stay out of the debate over original sin as he knows the two sides are passionate and prepared for civil war.

This superb thriller places a fabulous whodunit inside of a profound historical tale that brings to life fifth century Britannia at a time when the divided church challenges everyone including the High King to choose a side; neutrality is disallowed. With a strong sense of time and place, fans of the Sister Fidelma mysteries will enjoy Tony Hays' brisk addition to the Arthurian myths.

The Six-Liter Club
Harry Kraus, M.D.
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416577973, $13.99,

In 1984, Dr. Camille Weller is the first black female trauma surgeon at the Medical College of Virginia. On her first day on the job, Camille quickly becomes a member of the elite Six-Liter Club; entrance is saving the life of a patient who has lost six liters of blood.

However, Weller struggles with sexism and racism as she becomes a highly regarded surgeon. She bends rules, but whenever she hits a gender, race, or national origin glass wall, she breaks through by recalling her early childhood in the Congo where her white missionary father and local resident mother died. Raised by her paternal American aunt, Camille has nightmares in which a counselor assumes they are repressed memories of her father abusing her; but could they be the horror of the terror in the Congo instead?

This is an exhilarating medical thriller that focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young doctor facing several types of prejudices, as well as the horror of being orphaned in the Congo. Camille makes the story line work as she seeks her bi-continental roots while also making it as a physician. Simplicity and complexity at the same time with a deep look inside the OR, beads from East Africa and accepting or disavowing her father's religion, Dr. Harry Kraus provides a strong Reagan Era tale.

Almost Forever
Deborah Raney
Howard Books
9781416599913, $14.99

In Hanover Falls on November first, late at night, Bryn Hennesey plays cards with a resident at the homeless shelter, wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran Charlie Branson. Bryn feels guilty because she hasn't told her husband that she is still volunteering at the shelter even though he does not wan t her hanging with criminals and addicts.

While they are playing cards, she hears a siren sound in the background, which suddenly gets much louder. It is the fire department coming to put out the fire in the shelter. As they evacuate the building, the firefighters including her husband, Adam, rush into the inferno to insure all the residents are out. After the fire is put out, the building collapses killing several firefighters including the husband of Bryn and Garrett Edmonds' wife Molly. The grieving Garrett turns to Bryn for comfort. The pair realize they have deep feelings for one another but something in her past may cause him to turn his back on her.

Besides being an entertaining novel, the story line is embedded with many moral issues that will have readers reconsider their values as respect and understanding of others are critical in any relationship. Bryn is a wonderful person who volunteers to help the needy at personal cost and risk. The survivor guilt she feels almost cripples her but time and Garrett's empathy help her heal. Deborah Raney makes her second chance at life work because the audience believes that her lead couple is real.

The Shadow of Your Smile
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439172261, $25.99,

Thirtyish Greenwich Village Hospital pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell feels for her late dad, as he tried but was never able to trace who his biological parents were. Only one person living knows that, Olivia Morrow, an elderly woman who is dying. Monica is Olivia's only blood relative and the octogenarian debates whether to tell her the truth or keep silent as the board of Gannon Enterprise demands as the founder of the firm was Monica's great grandfather.

Feeling the right thing to do is tell the truth to her third distant cousin Monica; Olivia informs her physician and confidant Dr. Clay Hadley, a Gannon board member, of her decision. Clay has orders to kill her if she even hints at talking to Monica. Hit men are also sent to kill Dr. Farrell who might prove troublesome eventually as the heir to her grandfather's enormous largesse. Board member Greg Gannon is being investigated for insider trading; his brother Peter is arrested for killing a blackmailer. Hadley and another board member Douglas Langdon are lining their pockets by skimming investment money of their clients. Monica knows none of these people are related to her, but someone wants her dead before she learns the whole sordid truth.

This series of events occur two generations earlier when a family member Catherine the nun became pregnant and gave her child up for adoption. Now her granddaughter is caught in the crosshairs of some malevolent people. Monica cares about her others as did Catherine while the Gannon board cares only about money and power at any cost to others. Fascinating and fast-paced, fans of Mary Higgins Clark fans will enjoy her latest suspense thriller.

What the Librarian Did
Karina Bliss
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373716227, $4.95,

Over seventeen years ago in New Zealand, Steve O'Connell is home from college. He meets his younger sister's weirdo friend Rachel Robinson. They have sex as she is in love

At the same time in Long Beach, California, Zander Freedman is short a bass player so brings his sixteen years old brother Devin to play guitar with the band at a strip joint. He plays well enough to become a member of Rage. His love is music.

In the present, Devin is famous for rock, drugs, and sex, but has enrolled as a full time college student at the school where Rachel is the librarian who fails to recognize his name. Her son Mark White, whom she gave up for adoption when she was a teen, hero-worships Devin. Rachel hopes to soon tell Mark who she is even as she falls in love with rock's bad boy who considers her a fossil that he enjoys kissing.

What the Librarian Did is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring two likable leads and a strong secondary cast especially Mark. Devin is a fascinating protagonist whose attendance at college has stirred the school, but especially the prim and proper librarian with her secret. Fans will enjoy this thirties something romance as the rocker and the librarian write their own loving lyrical duet.

Her Best Friend
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716265, $5.50

Amy Parker is stunned to learn the town council has changed its collective minds about her plan to renovate the local grand Picture Theater. The Council chose a last minute bid by Ulrich Construction ignoring their verbal commitment to her. Irate as they committed to her, after she offered to buy the theater, she needs legal help.

Amy asks the unrequited love of her life, attorney Quinn Whitfield to help her. Returning home, Quinn, as an escape from his failed to marriage, agrees to assist his friend. However, he remains unaware that Amy always has and will love him though he insists on hanging out with her as he has some unfinished business with his buddy.

Though simplistic and straightforward, Her Best friend is an entertaining contemporary romance starring two liable lead characters who each as adults secretly wish to do what they did not achieve as teens. Readers will enjoy the tango of the two BFFs wanting to become best lovers forever, but both fearing that first frightening step.

Always A Temp
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716289, $5.50

When her beloved foster mother Grace dies, journalist Callie McCarran goes home to Wesley, Nevada to attend the funeral upset that her beloved guardian never told her she was terminal. The townsfolk are angry with Callie for not being there for Grace. While home, Callie decides to see if her feelings for her childhood boyfriend, Nathan Marcenek remains as strong as ever.

Nathan, the editor of Wesley Star newspaper, came home after being injured on an investigation. He wants nothing to do with the woman who broke his heart when she left town just after their high school graduation. Realizing she still loves Nathan, Callie introspectively ponders why she ran from him until she concludes love means abandonment like her parents did to her.

This is a deep second chance at love romance starring two stubborn lead characters whose distrust of most people make for a strong tale. Jeannie Watt provides a profound look into the psyche of Callie who prefers being Always A Temp with any relationship professional and personal as she learned from her father. Nathan distrusts the woman he loves as he knows she will leave.

Trusting The Bodyguard
Kimberly Van Meter
Harlequin SuperRomance
978037371627, $5.50

Three hours from San Francisco, FBI agent Archer Brant comes to his remote cabin only to find biotech scientist Marissa Vasquez waiting for him there. Shocked as she dumped him several years ago because she could not cope with his hazardous occupation, he has mixed feelings about seeing the woman he still loves.

Her sister Mercedes dead, Marissa and her niece Jenna need his help. The child's father is Oakland's dangerous Oaktown Boyz drug dealing gang leader and club owner Ruben Ortiz who killed Mercedes. He wants his offspring and will kill his daughter's aunt like he did the mom to get her. Archer offers his help but also makes sure he has professional back-up from his friend Agent Hawker. He knows in court Ortiz would probably win custo dy, but Archer risks his life and badge for the woman he still loves.

From the opening moment that Archer sees Marissa in his cabin until the final confrontation, Trusting The Bodyguard is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller. Filled with plenty of action, the key to the story is the frightened heroine who in spite of her fears, kidnapped the infant from the villain's compound; she sets the tone with her courage; a trait she lacked her first time with Archer. This is a terrific thriller as the second chance at love subplot feels realistic since it does not intrude on the anticipated High Noon confrontation.

The Drifter
Kate Hoffmann
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795369, $4.99

Outdoors journalist Charles Templeton left behind the only woman who meant anything to him Eve Kellter when he chose to follow his dreams of climbing seven continents rather than theirs. For the most part he has not looked back to Boulder where she lives, but occasionally late at night he feels regret for what he gave up.

He is coming to Boulder to lecture and begins to think increasingly of spending time with Eve as his life has proven exciting yet somehow empty especially when he muses is that all there is. When he goes to see her, he realizes the error of his ways and vows to rectify the mistake of a lifetime. However, Eve rejects him as she distrusts him to ever stay; believing instead wanderlust and not her is in his heart.

Although the theme has been used quite often, the strong lead couple make for a fun contemporary romance mindful of The Goodbye Girl but without the child or the humor. Fans will enjoy The Drifter as Charles wonders what to do to persuade Eve she is his great adventure.

The Captive
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795383, $4.99

In 885 in Wessex, Lady Gwendolyn is an independent person. Her nurturing parents educated her to insure she depended on no one but herself. When they died, she is forced to give up learning for embroidery by her guardian as being a lady activity though she is bored by the stitching. Instead she climbs castle walls and runs loose when she can.

In spite of King Alfred's efforts to keep his Saxon kingdom safe, Norse raiders continually assault Wessex. During one of these forays, Norse chieftain Wulf Giersson spots and captures Gwendolyn. Her elan for life grips him as no woman has before and he vows to make the wildcat his. However, as her Saxon countrymen mount a rescue attempt and another Norse raider wants her, Wulf soon learns who the captive in his relationship with Lady Gwendolyn is.

This is a great Blazing Dark Ages romance starring two strong protagonists and a powerful support cast in pursuit. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Wulf sees Gwendolyn and never slows down until the final confrontations. Readers will be held captive by Joanne Rock's superb historical.

Her Vampire Husband
Michele Hauf
9780373774999, $7.99

Chief of the Northern Pack of the Werewolf nation, Amandus Masterson arranges a political wedding for his daughter Princess Blu to a vampire Lord Credence Saint-Pierre. He insists the marriage will prove the historical enemy nations can live in harmony and peace.

At the Landmark Center, Blu tells her best friend Bree she will not allow this nine hundred year old vampire she never met to touch her as she rejects smelling like a long tooth. Creed plans to keep his unwanted marriage as a political convenience in support of the peace truce and no more. However, neither is prepared for seditious acts on the part of their respective nations as vampire and werewolf plan to break the pact, nor are the newlyweds ready for the feelings of love.

This is a terrific supernatural political romance in which beloved enemies fall in love and soon find themselves battling seemingly every vampire and werewolf; as each nation has plans to break the peace while the couple wants to prove love and harmony can thrive. Creed speaks stilted Regency, which takes an adjustment, especially in comparison with modern hip Blu. Still fast-paced and cleverly designed, fans of cross-starred paranormal romances will appreciate this entertaining tense tale of a marriage of inconvenience.

Out of Eden
Beth Ciotta
9780373774432, $7.99

In Eden, Indiana, a bored Kylie McGraw runs the family shoe store while wondering on her thirty-second birthday how she ended up in a rut instead of following her dreams of seeing the world like her brother, Spenser the photographer. She wants out, but sees no way to escape her ennui. Instead she celebrates her birthday by getting intoxicated and taken home by her high school crush, recently returned to Eden as the town's police chief Jack Reynolds.

Kylie believes she saw a mob hit, but Jack laughs it off as an alcoholic pink elephant. When she begins renovating her store as a means of excitement, she runs into some issues with the nearby business. However, while Jack insists there is no mob presence in Eden, she persists on claiming someone stalks her. Meanwhile widower Travis Martin believes Kylie's contention, but conceals why from her.

Out of Eden is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a likable cop and a thirty-something doing a life makeover starting with switching from flats to heels. Kylie makes the tale fun to read with her amusing asides and reflective realization that time is passing her by if she is going to go Into the Wild exotic locales like her brother does. Readers will enjoy this entertaining small-town romance.

Touch Of Seduction
Rhyannon Byrd
9780373774487, $7.99

Tiger-shifter watchman Aidan Shrader arrives In Lennox Kentucky to protect little Jamie from the Casus. He knows explaining to her ferocious Aunt Olivia Harcourt, the kindergarten teacher, was going to prove difficult as she is willing to die to keep her niece safe. He stuns the protective woman with news that her sister Chloe remains alive but imprisoned by the enemy although Jamie's mom Monica is dead.

Realizing she cannot keep Jamie safe from evil as every malevolent paranormal wants her niece's witch blood, Olivia puts her trust and her beloved relative reluctantly in Aidan's hands. A loner who was once sold into captivity, Aiden knows deep into his primal instincts that Olivia is his eternal soul mate, but he distrust everyone since his days of bondage.

The latest on the "Edge" Primal Instincts romantic urban fantasy is a terrific entry that moves the forward the overarching war between the ancient evils and the Watchmen keeping clans like the Casus in line yet also provides a warm tender love story. Filled with action, readers will enjoy the newest tale as Aidan knows Olivia is his forever, but he cannot cope with a forever; while Olivia knows the enigmatic shapeshifter is her eternal love. Both understand Jamie comes before sorting out their feelings. This is another winner from Rhyannon Byrd.

Receptionist Under Cover
C.J. Carmichael
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716234, $4.95

Fox and Fisher Detective Agency receptionist Nadine Kimble wants to become a sleuth, but has no experience or opportunity to prove to her employers she can do the job. She has received her on-line certification for a six-moth class she took. Adventurer-author Patrick O'Neil arrives without an appointment. He needs to hire a detective to find his missing son Stephen Stone, who ran away after burying his mom; but he is unaware that Nadine is not an investigator, as she poses as one.

Nadine and Patrick begin the quest to locate the offspring he only recently learned he sired. They trek through Canada following clues. As they fall in love, Nadine feels guilt and remorse for lying to the obviously worried Patrick who fears rejection.

Patrick is the key as he is insecure about relationships especially after his mom died from cancer a little over a decade ago; Stephen's dying mom June called him selfish as did Nadine. Readers will enjoy the latest Fox and Fisher Detective Agency tale (see The P.O. Contest and Perfect Partners) as Nadine proves her worth as a sleuth in love.

Shawn Lamb
Creation House
600 Rinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746
9781599798912, $13.99

When the Guardians fell so did Allon. In the wake of the collapse fostered by Dagar the malevolent spirit, he fills the power vacuum by placing his mortal as evil as he is, King Marcellus to run the nation. They walk the Dark Way eliminating opposition and cruelly abusing the people. Evil has proven much stronger than good.

However, an ancient prophecy proclaims a return to the days of paradise that were before Dagar did his most foul deeds. The Guardians must come back though that seems improbable as Daga would never allow this to occur without massive destruction on a scale only an immortal malevolence can do, and a just blood descendent of the former rulers must prove worthy which seems also unlikely as King Marcellus will kill any contender.

In the Southern Forest near Garwood hides sixteen year old Prince Ellis, who must prove kingly worthiness by defeating powerful Dark Way paranormal foes before he takes on the current ruler and his evil spirit. However, impatient Ellis knows his people cannot wait for his maturity when soldiers attack the Jor'ellian Fortress where he hid. Fleeing rather than fighting he knows his mentor Master Ebenezer will die for him and their people. The Lord of the Southern Forest, Sir Angus of Garwood escorts Ellis away as the time is not right for the fight so the frustrated lad is forced into flight.

With a strong nod towards Christopher Paolini's Inheritance fantasy saga, Allon is a superb coming of age quest fantasy. Ellis is a terrific teenager who eagerly wants to fight while his handlers demand flight. The support cast is solid especially the heroes die to defend the prince and the evil duet. Targeting young adults, anyone who enjoys Eragon (book or movie) will want to journey to the fallen land of Allon where hope was flickering out until now.

Deliver Us From Evil
David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446564083, $27.99,

Shaw belongs to an agency that ignores legal limitations when it comes to capturing those who threaten the free world. His latest project is billionaire Evan Waller who makes his money kidnapping third world teens and selling them in the Western markets. However, he is widening his capitalist operations with the sale of nuclear weapons to Islamic Fundamentalists. Shaw and his team are to prevent the sales by eliminating the beast and his customers.

Fahir Kuchen killed and ordered massacred thousands in Kiev to keep the survivors in line and not give Moscow any problems. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he escaped making a new future for himself.

Reggie Campion works for an elite group that hunts down mass murderers. She and her unit are in Provence to make a hit on Waller whom she believes is Kuchen; Shaw is shocked after the two groups cross paths and hunt their respective villain.. Shaw persuades Reggie they need to unite before the hunted become the hunter as Kuchen has someone inside working for him and whether he is Waller or not, Evan is a deadly predator.

Many of the protagonists possess ulterior motives so that double crossing teammates and the other squad seem a way of life. This is the key element in the return of Shaw (see The Whole Truth) that makes Deliver Us From Evil a fascinating thriller. Shaw remains an enigma who is perfect for the jobs he undertakes in contrast with Reggie who has a secret agenda that makes her seem more human yet not detached enough to be his equal in the cold deadly field. David Baldacci is at his best with this exciting suspense thriller.

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly
Connie May Fowler
Grand Central
9780446540681, $23.99

In Hope, Florida, as the summer solstice proves to be the hottest day of the year, thirtyish successful novelist Clarissa Burden wonders how her life could be so miserable. She knows the reason is her envious spouse Igor "Igy" Dupuy, a failed multimedia artist who draws nudes in an effort to bed them. He has replaced her mother as her personal put down artist.

Clarissa needs to escape from his indifference, but sees no hope in doing so. However, she is unaware that the house she shares with the brute also contains ghosts. She and the spirits want freedom so on the longest day of the year, the heat inside the Burden home has become hotter than hell.

This is a whimsical character tale that grips the audience once the stage is set as the reader will want to know whether Clarissa suffering from writer's block and spousal cruelty is losing her mind or do ghosts, a carnival cast and animals communicate with her. Fans will relish Clarissa as she seeks escaping her troubles by learning to fly solo the hard way.

Invisible Boy
Cornelia Read
Grand Central
9780446511346, $24.99

In 1990 in Manhattan, former socialite Madeline Dare is happy with her marriage to blue-collar Dean though she does not like their dumpy Union Square apartment that she and her spouse share with her sister and their friend. Still she does not miss her former lifestyle of the rich and socially Mayflower prominence nor her exile to the Berkshires as she accepts being poor.

Madeline runs into her distant cousin Cate Ludlam, who is leading a clean-up of Prospect Cemetery in Queens. Unable to say no, Madeline is drafted to pull weed duty. However, she finds the skeletal remains of a young child, who turns out to be missing three years old Teddy Underhill. Refusing to stay out of the NYPD inquiry, Madeline learns that the little boy was an abuse victim of his mother and her boyfriend.

Unlike The Crazy School or A Field of Darkness amateur sleuthing stints, Invisible Boy is more a condemning look at society that is run by class status, heritage elitism and racial stereotyping; as justice is not blind to the affluent or the poor albeit treated differently. Readers will appreciate Madeline's daring exploits in Manhattan and Queens as she refuses to back down from a system that enables a three year old to be discarded.

Grand Central
9780446179584, $13.99

Miki Summers is a sexaholic who loves the heat with anonymous pursuers until her out of control sexcapades catch up to her. Valencia Sanchez is bisexual hitting on both sexes in spite of being engaged to an affluent fiance who tells her monogamy with him only or goodbye. Voyeur Teela Raye loves seeing others go at it and then doing it with her mate, but a peeping Thomasina may not be enough satisfaction especially since her mate is not interested in her passivity as a watcher. School teacher Brandi Williams is a one night special hitting different hunks every evening, but soon craves doing it in daylight too.

These four women are sex addicts who meet at Sexaholics Anonymous meetings. There each tells their tale staying in control one minute at a time as their libido keeps whispering feed me.

The four key characters rotate perspective so that the audience obtains a deep look at how crippling addiction can be. Each knows the danger their sexual need causes yet they cannot control their libido's indulgences. Well written, Sexaholics is an entertaining erotica that focuses on the destructiveness of being out of control when 24/7 your vagina controls your brain.

The Sheen on the Silk
Anne Perry
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345500656, $27.00,

In 1273 physician Anna Zarides learns that her twin Justinian has been proclaimed guilty as a conspirator of murdering Bessarion Comnenos. She refuses to believe her sibling would kill the prominent politically connected victim, who was perhaps the most powerful opponent of the Byzantium Empire merging with Rome.

Anna, dressed up as the eunuch Anastasius Zarides, crosses the Bosporus to Constantinople to find proof her brother, living in exile in Judea, is innocent. She quickly builds up a thriving medical practice among the traders as well as some of the influential people like Emperor Michael, Orthodox Bishop Constantine and the late Bessarion's mother-in-law Zoe Chrysaphes the poisoner. However, in spite of her growing clientele, Anna makes little progress in finding evidence to exonerate her sibling as the city's Christians are divided into factions over whether the Holy Ghost exists. The power struggle between the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor and the Byzantium Emperor and others threaten the well being of the inn ocent.

This is a powerful historical thriller in which the real major events of a critical but tumultuous era supersede the fictional cast and the whodunit. The story line is fast-paced due to all that is happening on the world stage while the inquiry moves along much slower as that serves more as a subplot mechanism to enable the audience to follow the religious and political turmoil. With a nod to Baudolino by Umberto Eco (though seven decades later); readers will relish a trip back in time to thirteenth century Constantinople, the cross between Rome and the Holy Land.

2 in the Hat
Raffi Yessayan
9780345502636, $25.00

In Franklin Park, Boston police detective Angel Alves is coaching a youth football team when one his players finds a dead woman dressed in an expensive dress. After calming down the kids Angel looks around and finds a dead male wearing a tuxedo. Each is posed to match the M.O. of the Prom Night Killer, who had been quiet for so long, the police assumed he died or was inactivated in some way such as being locked up at a prison for some other crime. This serial killer case was ice cold until now.

Angel's retired former boss Police Sergeant Wayne Mooney led the original inquiry into the Prom Night Killer murders. He provides information to Angel that eliminates the possibility of a copycat. Mooney wants back in as he never felt good about the case remaining unsolved and is brought on as a "consultant". Soon the pair follows leads in hope to end a psychopath's apparent second reign of terror.

This is an exciting over the top of the Green Monster serial killer police procedural. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the corpses are found and never slows down until the final spin. Fans who can ignore plausibility will want to read Alves' second serial killer case (see 8 in the Box.).

Looking for a Love Story
Louise Shaffer
9780345502100, $15.00

In Manhattan Francesca's first novel Love requires that she take a photograph by highly regarded photographer Jake Morris. They are in immediate lust followed almost immediately with a tryst in his nearby apartment. Before he returns to work he suggests they meet to marry.

Several years later, Jake divorced Francesca and has since remarried and moved to California. Adrift Francesca got their dog Annie and loneliness. Francesca meets octogenarian Chicky, who asks her to write the real love story, a biography of her Vaudeville parents Joe and Ellie. Needing to feed her and Annie, she accepts the writing memoir although she wishes her client would stop calling her Baby Doll. However, as she learns of the unlikely love story of Joe and Ellie friends for life, Francesca introspectively reflects on her own life, that of her parents and of her relationship with Jake. Her musing has her begin to move on as she struggles to find a publisher for the love story memoir she wrote.

Looking for a Love Story is an entertaining whimsical chick lit tale starring a delightfully flawed lead protagonist. Francesca is terrific as she learns so much about what makes a relationship work with the realization her best friend is Annie. The support cast enhances the complexities of the modern world as relationships are not linear but a series of interconnecting waves. Readers who enjoy a thought-provoking character study will appreciate Francesca seeking her groove, as she begins to understand thanks to Joe and Ellie the key ingredient that any relational groove requires.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Nancy Pickard
9780345471017, $25.00

In Rose, Kansas, the Linder family owns the town. The powerful ranching clan runs a tight ship especially in terms of protecting twentyish schoolteacher Jody Linder. In 1986, Billy Crosby was arrested for killing her father Hugh-Jay Linder dead; the victim's wife and Jody's mom Laurie vanished. Billy was convicted of the murder as he had motive after being fired from the High Rock Ranch and Laurie's bloodied sundress was found inside his truck.

Billy's son, attorney Colin believes his dad is innocent and has spent years working appeals. He obtains a new trial and secures the release of his father while the retrial takes place. Colin's deep conviction shakes up the town and its leading family as each goes back two decades to relook what happened.

This is a great legal thriller enhanced by a strong family drama. The story line grips the reader as two families were impacted in 1986 and must go through the horror once again with one hoping for the same results and the other for a different conclusion. Although the denouement re what happened twenty plus years ago is too neat, fans will set aside time once started on one of the year's best dramas as this is a character driven crime tale that is impossible to put down.

The Icing on the Cake
Jennifer Ross
9780345492968, $15.00

In Dallas, debutant Ansley Waller enjoys being among the elite especially the envy of her sorority peers at Baylor as she is engaged to Parish, the top Texan bachelor. However, at a soiree, Parish watches Ansley behave cruelly to a girl and he becomes angry with her nastiness. He breaks off their engagement. Parish tells Ansley he prefers someone nice with an ok butt than the most beautiful woman in Texas with a nasty dem eanor.

Humiliated, Ansley leaves Dallas for Manhattan where her estranged septuagenarian grandma Vivian lives. The sandwich generation in between them Hattie hates her mother who deserted her when she was five years old to run off with Charlie. In New York Vivian tells her granddaughter she has sixty days to find a job or leave. While Vivian works through a tax mess her late second husband caused to hurt her, Ansley begins baking cupcakes and opens a bakery. As she begins to find Ansley, someone is trying to insure she fails starting with the plumbing.

This is an entertaining coming of age family drama starring a likable cast. Ansley holds the tale together as she may have left Dallas with her tail dragging, but soon takes Manhattan by storm; one cupcake at a time. Filled with recipes (cupcakes of course), fans of contemporary character studies will enjoy Ansley's efforts to add one recipe that she invents into the family "heirloom".

Get Lucky
Katherine Center
9780345507914, $15.00

In New York, Sarah Harper is rising to the top at an advertising agency. However, she suddenly feels remorse and guilt over her bogus bra campaign. She drafts an email with pictures of boobs while confessing that her ad campaign was B.S.; she accidentally (on purpose as she rationalizes that dumb decisions can be good choices) sends it to the entire firm .

Fired, she flies home to Houston. Her sister Mackie and her brother-in-law Clive take her into their home. Mackie tells Sarah that they have tried for a baby for years but failed and is resigned that she will not conceive. She has told Clive no more. Sarah offers to serve as the surrogate mom, which the couple accepts. Nine months of carrying has Sarah confused as she wants Clive and her former boyfriend Everett while she and Macki e drift apart. Making matters worse for the battling siblings, their widower dad announces he is getting married.

This is an engaging family drama in which the sisters act at any moment as if they are ready to rumble. Amusing throughout, the story line gets deep inside the siblings yet for the most part fails to dig into how it feels to be carrying your sister's baby from the perspective of both. Mindful of the movie Baby Mama, fans of a lighthearted contemporary will want to read Get Lucky.

8 in the Box
Raffi Yessayan
9780345502629, $7.99

In Boston, an unknown psychopath is breaking into the homes of professional females and abducts them leaving a bathtub filled with blood, but no corpse. The Boston police homicide detectives Mooney and Alves work diligently to end the serial bloody spree but have no other clues.

Richter remains unknown by the police and the media calls him The Blood Bath Killer. He is using chemicals on his growing number of victims. Whereas the District Attorney's Office ADAs see this maniac as a resume entry, the two beleaguered cops struggle with ending the monster's murderous mayhem. They soon get a break, but neither cop is sure whether the first lead beyond the bloody signature will prove enough to end the Blood Bath Killer's terrorizing Bostonians.

This is a fascinating serial killer thriller in which the ambitious attorneys come across as one dimensional people interested in their next promotion with teamwork cooperation being for fools while the two cops are fully developed especially as they make the rounds in impoverished neighborhoods. Although sidebars re a lawyer's responsibility to help the poor takes attention away from the prime story line as Raffi Yessayan preaches, readers will enjoy this entertaining police procedural legal thriller.

Getting the Picture
Sarah Salway
9780345481016, $15.00

The elderly residents of Pilgrim House are all females except for crusty stuffy George Griffiths. His being the only male not on staff ends when nude female model photographer Martin Morris moves into the retirement home.

Martin has a hidden agenda. Decades ago he met and fell in love with Mrs. George Griffiths. His Mo however chose to stay with her spouse and their children although Martin believes he was the love of her life as she was his as proven by the letters of love he wrote his beloved but wisely never sent. He needs to know why she never left the priggish snob. Although Mo is dead, Martin still writes to her as if she was alive and ready to join him even as he begins to investigate the life of Mo with George, who never knew of his wife's affair with Martin.

This is a fascinating character study that looks deep into the relationships at a retirement home filled with feisty individuals who all seem full of life. However, the prime focus is the intriguing triangle as the connecting woman is dead while one of the men in her life is unaware that the other was in her life albeit forty tears ago. Using letters (not just those written but not mailed by Martin), Getting the Picture is an entertaining relationship drama.

The Chief
Monica McCarty
9780345518224, $7.99

In 1305, Scotland appears to have lost its war with the English. Robert the Bruce knows his warriors cannot defeat the English in open combat so he decides to use guerilla special operation tactics to wear down their opponent. Thus alliances are made to unify the divided Scottish clans.

Christina Fraser heads to the island of Isla to attend her sister's marriage to ferocious Tormod "Tor" MacLeod. However, she offers herself in her sibling's place as she has much more fortitude to stand up against the roaring Highlander. Bruce offers Tor his clan lands back if he vows allegiance and leads a counter force. Tor is attracted to his new spouse but clan restoration and t he war of Scottish independence come before personal desires.

This is an exciting historical romance in which the war preparations as a medieval special forces type unit adhering to the Scottish warrior code provide freshness to the tale. The relationship between the married couple add tension as he puts his clan and his battle team ahead of his growing love for his feisty wife who brought baggage into their marriage as her father supported Wallace. Well written, Monica McCarty's devoted romance fans will relish this deep look at Scotland trying to regain its independence.

Coming Home
Mariah Stewart
9780345520333, $7.99

In St. Dennis on Chesapeake Bay, Vanessa Keaton feels she has finally found a home as the townsfolk have welcomed her and her boutique Bling is a success. Her half-brother town Police Chief Gabriel Beck is always there for her; unlike her mother whom she is estranged from and her father who she does not even know who he is. She is especially ecstatic for Gabriel as he will shortly marry Mia Shields.

Widower and former FBI agent Grady Shield shocks everyone when he leaves his Montana reclusive hideaway where he ran to after his wife was murdered to attend Mia's wedding as no one expected him to come. Even more stunning is the attraction between the hermit and the shopkeeper. As they fall in love, their pasts keep both from committing. However when someone vandalizes Bling, Grady realizes this was not a teenage prankster, but instead a person angrily targeting Vanessa. He vows to keep her safe.

Coming Home is a very entertaining and compelling romantic suspense second chance at love thriller. The lead couple is a fascinating pairing as each brings tons of baggage into their relationship while the townsfolk add eccentricity into the mix. More romance than suspense, fans will enjoy the opening Chesapeake Diaries tale as two people learn the meaning of Coming Home is love.

Nikki Turner
One World
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345511058, $14.00,

Her middle class father Sterling raised Beijing Lee as a single parent. However, she visited her mother Willabee and her older sister Paris who Sterling knew lived on the other side of the track and in her dad's mind they were riding the train the wrong way. He is proven right when igno ring her conscience Paris sells ten year old Beijing to Chimp so she can buy crack. Teenager Mike intrudes on the sale and using a knife kills Chimp before warning Paris to take care of her sister better or else.

Years pass and Beijing has become a hotel concierge insuring the wealthy receive the best treatment. In Vegas, she thinks she may be in love with Lootchee, who treats her nice and gives her luxurious presents. However, he also brings with him a dark side that places Beijing in trouble even as her maternal family causes havoc in her life. However, all hell breaks loose with her life is in danger; Beijing thinks back to her last rescue and knows she could use a hero again just as Mike known as Stash is back.

This is a superb street lit tale that contains a powerful cast especially the heroine within an exciting story line. The tale grips readers immediately when the reader realizes Paris is selling her ten years old sister because the addiction supersedes everything else. That hold on the audience never lets up as her "loved ones" place Beijing in jeopardy while a late rivalry between Lootchee and Stash leave fans wanting more. This is a strong look at surviving the streets where a Relapse is the magnetic pull of your family.

One World
9780345508799, $14.00

When the twins were fourteen, their father reformed gangster Irish Barnes' top gun Scotch made love to both of them. He left Harlem after impregnating Diamond and Pearl. Nine months later on Christmas Day each gave birth. Their parents raise the grandchildren as Pearl makes something of herself becoming an FBI Agent while Diamond continues clubbing.

It has been seven years since the kids were born; gangster Mookie Mason slowly drowns Diamond and his goons tie up Irish, his wife and their grandchildren before setting the place on fire. However, Mookie made one mistake; he left a family survivor and she is coming for them using their sex as a weapon.

This is an exciting erotic noir starring a delightful avenging angel who goes after her family's killers one at a time. The story line is fast-paced, but character driven as Noire sets the stage with the background of the twins before Mookie kills the Barnes family. Thus the key to this super urban thriller is the erotica is a tool used by the avenger. Readers will root for Pearl as she uses her erotic skills as much as her FBI experience and training to avenge the deaths of her loved ones.

The Pallbearers
Stephen J. Cannell
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312557294, $25.99,

Huntington House Group Home director Walter Dix commits suicide; he apparently shot himself in the head with a shotgun. Those who were raised by Pop, as his wards called him, are stunned as he was considered a father by many of his kids.

His will selects six of his former boys to be the Pallbearers. This includes Police Detective Shane Scully, whose parents abandoned him three decades ago as an infant. Scully has issues with the suicide denouement as he cannot accept the charismatic surfing Pop killing himself although the cop recognizes his affection and adulation of Pop and his remorse for losing contact could distort his view. The other five pallbearers also have difficulty with the official verdict. Putting off his Hawaii vacation with his wife, LAPD Detective Division acting commander Alexa, Shane leads the other Pallbearers on a quest for the truth.

The latest Scully investigative thriller (see On the Grind and White Sister) is refreshed by taking the detective and readers back into his past as an "orphan"; thus enabling the audience to better understand the demons that eat at his soul. The investigation is fun to follow as the police officially close the case while Scully leads the other pallbearers on investigating what each assumes is a homicide. Although the clues to what happen is too obvious for readers which detracts from the investigation's primary issue as to whether Pop considered "to be or not to be" that is the first question of the inquiry. Still Stephen J. Cannell provides his fans with a deep look at the hero's childhood through his adult eyes looking back to the time that shaped the man he is.

The Time Pirate
Ted Bell
St. Martin's
9780312578107, $17.99

In 1940 the Nazis invade the British Channel Islands. To repel the enemy, teenager Nick McIver teaches himself to fly an obsolete WWI fighter plane that he had found in an abandoned barn. From the air, barnstorming Nick photographs minelayers and patrol boats during the day and conducts bombing raids over Nazi airfields at night.

Meanwhile his enemy pirate Captain Billy Blood wants possession of Nick's time machine. Using his own, he travels to Greybeard Island where he kidnaps Nick's sister Kate, and takes her back to 1781 Port Royal, Jamaica; but he leaves Nick a message that in exchange for his sibling he wants the time machine. Traveling to the late eighteenth century, Nick of Time learns of a plot that could result in Washington's defeat as Blood has amassed an invincible armada.

Fighting in two wars over a century and half apart, heroic Nick hopes to be on time to save his sister and for his side to win twice. Incredibly fast-paced with over the top happenstances, this lighthearted fun teenage pulp fiction is very entertaining though not deep in either era except when blood and tomatoes mix as Nick battles The Time Pirate.

The Year It Snowed in April
Eva Bottier
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312360603, $14.99

In Harlem, his maternal grandparents raised Avery Benjamin Clarke in a protective middle class environs. Although shy by nature he was doing okay obtaining excellent grades at school and was a nice respectful child at home.

Now in 1983, thirteen years old, Avery is stunned when his mother Carla arrives at her parents' brownstone as she abandoned him years ago. She worries that her parents have ruined her son turning him gay with their over protectiveness. She has him visit her at her place where he is introduced to pot, cigarettes, and alcohol. He learns cursing is the most frequently used descriptors and modifiers. Avery takes his lessons with him as he soon gets into fights at school and in the neighborhood and shouts profanity at his caring shocked grandparents. However, his spiral downward has just begun as Carla has a mission to insure her son is straight.

The Year It Snowed in April is a fascinating character study that focuses on negative nurturing as an adult can lead a child down a path of destruction. The story line is driven by the cast especially Avery who goes from encouraged pampered child to abuse victim learning to abuse others. Although so much is dumped on Avery the pile is higher than Morningside Heights, readers will appreciate this tense tale of how a good young person is taught to be ugly.

Blood Pressure
Terence Taylor
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312385262, $14.99

In 2007 Christopher moves to New York seeking to find and meet his biological parents so he can finally understand why he is so different than the Ross family who raised him. In Manhattan, he meets performing art film documentary maker Joie. .They share a strange bond as each realizes the impact on their respective soul by otherworldly forces. However, they will soon learn that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as together they possess incredible power that others want to use for their nefarious schemes.

The Federal funded covert ops Clean Slate Global learns of their joint skill and plans to use it as a super weapon to eradicate all vampires except for those who work for them. Christopher and Joie team up with her parents Lori and Steven, psychotherapist Dr Lazarus, and Prenelle the vampire top prevent the government from being the only group to possess vampires.

Two decades since Bite Marks occurred, the action picks up without missing a heartbeat due to a strong cast especially the heroes and the lead villain. Fast-paced throughout even with super looks back in time to late 1920s Cabaret Berlin and the Harlem Renaissance, fans will relish this motley crew of Davids and Davidettes fighting against Goliath as well as some rogue vampires. Blood Pressure is a one sitting thriller as the streets of Manhattan is draped in blood.

Corner Shop
Roopa Farooki
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312577872, $14.99

In London teen Luhith "Lucky" Khalil is a terrific football player who dreams of playing for the English national team and being the hero bringing home the World Cup trophy. However, the fourteen year old is distracted from his goal by his attraction to his grandfather's employee Portia. His father Jinan is a hard working lawyer who is a second generation Pakistani immigrant while his mother Delphine dreams of romantic love though Jinan is to busy working to waste time romancing his spouse. Lucky's grand father Zaki the shopkeeper is the first generation immigrant.

Zaki loves to gamble and admires the young English women like his daughter-in-law whom he met before his son did. Although he knows why Delphine chose Jinan because he is a professional while Zaki is a storekeeper, he outrageously flirts with her, calling her beautiful. They begin a tryst as each gets what they desire, but at what cost.

This is a terrific family drama starring a strong ensemble cast. The story line shifts viewpoint between the primary players, which enables a convoluted fascinating focus on the conflicting aspirations of three generations of a Pakistani-British family. In this story individuals' goals clash and the Khalil brood learn that sometimes you have to pay an exorbitant price when you get what you asked for.

Paula Reed
St. Martin's
9780312583927, $24.99

One year after the confession by Arthur Dimmesdale that he sired the wild child on Hester Prynne, her cuckold raging spouse Roger Chillingworth dies. To Hester's shock, her estranged spouse leaves a fortune to eight years old Pearl. Wanting Pearl to be accepted, Hester decides to use th e money to leave hateful Boston for London, where she once enjoyed the gaiety of life.

Hester quickly realizes you can't go home as Cromwell the Protector runs the country with an iron fist that makes the Massachusetts Bay Colonists look like hedonists. Besides banning dancing and closing down the theaters and most other public entertainment places, the required wardrobe is an ugly gray. Still Hester and Pearl move in with her friend Mary Wright and her children to the rejoicing of both families. That changes when Mary's dour rigid spouse Robert comes home. He informs Cromwell of Hester's second sight skill that enables her to identify sinners and she is used by the Protector to do so. Feeling sick to her stomach over so many deaths she caused, Hester secretly joins a Royalist restoration group that makes her an ally of King Charles II trying to take the throne.

The where are they now sequel to the female stars of The Scarlet Letter is an entertaining tale although some of the heat seem more suited in a modern context than the Cromwell era and Pearl is to precocious for an ostracized preadolescent. Still this is a fun historical as Paula Teed answers the question what happened to Hester and Pearl after they leave the colonies.

Small Change
Sheila Roberts
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312594473, $13.99,

In Heart Lake, Washington, Brian Turner is anxious over money issues as he fears a lay-off due to the economy tanking. He has been tolerant of his wife Tiffany's recent spending as she suffered a miscarriage, but now calmly explains to her that she can no longer waste money on her "bargains". When Tiffany f ails to cut back on her credit card use, he cannot take it any longer. He leaves his shopaholic spouse.

The Heart Lake Elementary School principal informs temporary fifth grade teacher Rachel Green that Ambika Sinj is coming back to work after being on maternity leave. Rachel was hoping for a permanent teaching position rather than subbing as the former means benefits for the divorcee and her two children since the rat Aaron dumped her and their money. No longer trusting in Prince Charming, she has another problem, Chad who wants her and the kids in his life.

Banker Michael Sharp informs his stay at home fortyish wife Jessica that though he remains employed his job has been centralized on Ohio though he has a local offer at less money. To supplement their income instead of moving to Ohio, Jess wonders if she could return to the music she gave up years ago to raise two kids, who now are adults; though one has returned to the nest.

The three neighbors form the Small Change Club to help each other cope with the impact of the downward spiraling economy by being a support group. Each seeks pragmatic solutions to financial woes.

This is an enjoyable look at the impact on three suburban families struggling with financial strain. The ensemble cast is powerful especially the three lead females who set out to make Small Change in their respective lifestyles in order to swim rather than sink in red ink. Readers will enjoy this fine tale as the heroines seek practical solutions to their woes.

Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It
J.D. Mason
St. Martin's
9780312598563, $23.99

In the late 1970s in high school, Renetta, Phyllis and Freddie became the best friends. Everyone knew them as the Tres Amigas. Then something happened to destroy their friendships as they left behind a newborn in the emergency room.

Over the next three decades, Renetta married a nasty person Vincent who used the secret as a weapon against her; until he suffered a questionable stroke. Phyllis put her career over love and family until she failed to get the promotion she expected which shattered her esteem. Freddie is married to Don, but feels the empty nest syndrome of three adult kids having flown away so she takes writing classes under Bianca Hightower who sees more than just a potentially good writer.

Tasha Darden grew up in foster care mostly with disgusting adults after being abandoned in an emergency room thirty years ago. When the only caring foster mom she ever had died, Tasha decides it is time to hire a detective to find her biological mother to ask why. Her sleuth has three prime candidates: the Tres Amigas.

This is a superb character study of friendship and redemption with the three BFFs and the one offspring all coming across fully developed yet different. Readers will appreciate Tasha's efforts to meet the mother who abandoned her at birth, wondering who of the Tres Amigas is her mother. Well written, Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It is an engaging tale as the past has caught up with the present.

Black Jack
Lora Leigh
St. Martin's
9780312945824, $7.99

Like all Elite Ops field agents, Travis "Black Jack" Caine and Lillian "Night Hawk" Belle died in their previous civilian lives. Both were British aristocrats with him joining Elite Ops after British M16 felt he was too out of control while she enlisted after her agent father was murdered and almost her too. For six years, her mother, uncle and brother grieved her death in the car crash into the river that killed her dad; while his family rejoiced he was dead. Additionally they are attracted to one another.

Six years since she died, someone somehow recognizes Lilly Belle as Lady Veronica and tries to kill her; the bullet grazes her head leaving her with selected amnesia as she forgets everything that occurred since her first death. Elite Ops knows her father had uncovered a traitor who killed him before he could reveal who the person is. Black Jack's assignment is to ferret out how dangerous the woman he loves as Night Hawk is in exposing other undercover operatives; and if she is the slightest threat kill her.

The latest Elite Ops (see Heat Seeker, Maverick, and Wild Card) is a character driven thriller that focuses on the mind of the heroine who if she recalls her lost memory becomes expendable by her agent peers and the traitor. Although amnesia has been used in espionage thrillers (Bourne) the story line is fast-paced with an interesting late spin. Fans will try to determine who the enemy is while also wondering why this person and the Elite Ops just don't take Lily out before she regains her missing six years as she is a dangerous liability to each side.

Dirty Laundry
Liz Osborne
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594148576, $25.95,

Near Seattle, at Madrona Bay Hospital and Medical Center, Nurse Manager of the 3-West Unit Susan Wong complains about the perverted behavior of patient Jason Hilliard to forty year old Patient Relations manager Robyn Kelly. Apparently the twenty-six years old Hilliard flashes the staff though he insists it was done accidentally. He has been an in and out patient several times who no one wants to help. Robyn says the staff does not have to put up with this lewd behavior and she will warn him to cut it out.

Before she can do that she meets bewildered William Jones who says he lives in Central Park New York. The indigent elderly man has a nasty cut filled with maggots so Robyn intervenes and insures he receives proper treatment, but she goes home before she can visit Hilliard. That weekend her friend Police Detective Matthew Pierce injures his back moving heavy bags for Robyn and is hospitalized. Robyn accompanies him and stops to see William only to find another Hilliard complaint. She visits Hilliard who is dead with an IV cord around his neck. Police Chief Roberts botches the case from the onset, but claims he has a suspect so in spite of the warnings from her son and Matthew, Robyn investigates like she has done before (see Masquerade) as she knows who he will blame.

This is an engaging Washington State cozy with a nice late twist. The story line takes awhile to get into the whodunit as the focus is for a good portion of the tale is on the cast at the hospital. As Robyn proves a likable advocate for patients and staff, readers who enjoy a medical amateur sleuth competing with the cops will want to read the airing of Dirty Laundry at Madrona Bay.

Family Value
Stephen L. Nelson
Five Star
9781594148736, $25.95

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Didonatos and the Marshes live in a two family house at 392 Chestnut Street. Each couple has two young kids living with them. The families get along though each adult has issues as they struggle to make it.

Tony DiDonato cannot find a job as a professor of medieval literature so he is a stay at home dad refurbishing old furniture, which is his passion but will not admit it to himself or his wife as that is blue collar. His wife Laurel is a safety engineer at Jackson Products, Inc, who recently learned of illegal dumping of toxic chemicals by her firm; she was adopted and wants to learn who her biological parents are. Jay Marsh is a lawyer who enjoys doing pro-bono cases representing impoverished clients as he is encouraged by his caring adopted mom; he has no desire to learn who his biological mom is and detests his adopted father for deserting them. His wife Carol is a probation officer trying to help kids in t rouble, but though she joined Adult Children of Alcoholics, she still has issues with her late mom the drunk that the house she inherited from her is a constant reminder; soon her work and what is in the basement threaten both families.

This intriguing family drama has too much going on so that none of the four adults or for that matter the four kids appear differently from each other, which in turn detracts from the personal and family crisis that the adults face. Still readers will enjoy watching each character struggle with Family Values as they want to do the right thing professionally and personally for their own sake and for that of their family.

Mississippi Vivian
Bill Crider and Clyde Wilson
Five Star
9781594148743, $25.95

In 1970 the Houston based National Insurance Company Claims manager Don Cogsdill is appalled with a dozen worker's compensation cases involving longshoremen on a ship channel in Losgrove, Mississippi. He becomes suspicious when he realizes the same doctor Gillespie signed the claims and the same lawyer Campbel l filed them.

Don hires former cop Ted Stevens to investigate whether fraud has occurred. Ted arrives in town and quickly learns the communication center is at the Magnolia Cafe where Mississippi Vivian works. He soon finds out one of the claimants is dead and not long afterward a second filer also is dead. As he investigates the potential insurance fraud, Ted also looks into what he believes are homicides within a town without pity that prefers to keep secrets buried.

This is a terrific investigate historical tale that is filled with action and amusing southern hush puppies wit for instance the three state Vivian's. Ted makes the story line fun as he is the straight man to a town of eccentrics and a killer. Sub-genre fans will appreciate laconic Ted as he inquires into increasingly what seems like fraud, which leads him to a killer in a superb period piece.

Dragon Games
Stephen Mertz
Five Star
9781594148729, $25.95

Amberon Inc security chief Dan Price heads the private firm's security at the Beijing Olympics. Heeding the guidance of the Mistress, he kills a local security officer, a suspect and one of his team as he sets in motion a terrorist bloodbath scheme by a paramilitary group ready to devastate the country with violence to make 9/11 seem minor.

Tag McCall also works for Amberon as a security guard. He has fallen very far since his stint as Secret Service protection chief to the Vice President due to someone, namely him, needing to take the fall for a failed assassination attempt. He has a heart problem, became a drunk and drove his wife and teen daughter away. Now he is in China working grunt level security. When he finds something off kilter with what Price has done, he quietly investigates but is distracted when a teen gymnast vanishes. With help from Amberon dispatcher Rose being watched by Ministry of Internal Security investigator Mei, he soon fears something nightmarish is planned for the Games by his boss.

Over the top of The Great Wall, Dragon Games is a fast-paced thriller starring a wonderful hero who keeps on ticking in spite of setbacks in his professional and personal life and suffering from angina. Filled with action from the onset when Price brazenly assassinates three people and never slows down for a breather, readers will enjoy Stephen Mertz's exhilarating tale that is enhanced by his enchanting capture of the city's Olympic ambience.

Soap Bubbles
Denise Dietz
Five Star
9781594148750, $25.95

In their early thirties, wannabe actresses and BFFs Delly Diamond, Anissa Cartier, and Maryl Bradley have roles on the Morning Star soap opera. However, even though they have come a long way from Blood, Sweat and Tears of the 1960s and 1970s, each knows they have a long way to go if they are to make it and if their respective traumatic childhoods in Queens don't hold them back.

Things turn ugly between the friends when Delly is fired. Soon after being canned, a fire causes production of the soap to shut down. The police suspect Delly as the arsonist as she had the motive and opportunity. She and her two buddies investigate hoping to prove otherwise.

This is an enjoyable tale that brings to life three decades, but the book never decides whether it is an amateur sleuth or a character study. When the subplot focuses on the mid 1980s, the three BFFs try to prove Delly is innocent in an entertaining investigation; when the subplot goes back to their childhood, the tale spins into a character study as each struggle with a nasty situation. Still the child is the adult and as such fans will enjoy Soap Bubbles, a homage to when the soaps were kings of daytime TV.

When Death Intervenes
L.C. Hayden
Five Star
9781594148507, $25.95

In Two Forks, Wyoming, Linda Randig mourns the deaths of her parents in a car crash. Soon afterward, she receives a call from an anonymous person who tells her to open an envelope that he left her and that he can see what she is doing even inside her house. Inside the large parcel is three other envelops. One is labeled open me first which contains pictures of her parents' car. Another says open me next; inside is a picture of he r estranged son Eric with her grandson. The third shows her spouse Mitch lying dead in the garden. She races outside to see her husband is dead. The caller tells her to use her SUV and head to Minnesota to await further instructions.

At the South Dakota Custer State Park, Linda is parked next to retired Dallas police detective Harry Bronson and his wife Carol. He recognizes a troubled soul and gets her to talk about her woes. Unable to resist although Carol warns him not to play cop anymore, Harry with the help of his former police partner Mike Hoover, who remains on the force, begins to piece together the motive behind a serial killer whose lethal signature is that of a dead man.

When Death Intervenes is a great thriller as Bronson cannot stop himself from intervening to save the life of a beleaguered widow who has not had time to grieve. Bronson is terrific with his bowling theory of life as much as his clever investigation. Although the Randig family extended dynamics is dysfunctional to the point of being over the top of the Black Hills, fans will relish this strong tale as Bronson works the case from two angles: keeping his "client" and her son and grandchild alive and identifying the killer.

Devil's Keep
Phillip Finch
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439168561, $7.99,

It has been ten years since Ray Favor and his three teammates (Arielle Bouchard, Mex Mendoza, and Winston Stickney) were part of the Black Ops cell Bravo One Nine. They worked for the government on assignments, which typically ended up violent and homicidal. Now they have gone their separate ways with Favor a multi-millionaire who misses the adrenalin rush of the good old danger days.

Teenager Maeivic Valencia accepts a job in Manila. She texts her brother when she arrives in there, but he never hears another word from her. Her twin Ronnie goes to the office that hired her, but they insist she never reported to work. He believes they are lying, but they knock him out and take him to the same island prison where Maxine is held.

Mendoza receives a call from family in the Philippines wanting his help in finding the missing twins. Thinking this will be easy, he and Bravo One Nine go to Manila only t o learn the Russians are running a monstrous operation on an isolated island where the twins are incarcerated. Brave One Nine unite for a dangerous rescue mission.

Phillip Finch is a great thriller writer whose latest novel is filled with action at a faster than light pace as a sort of Mission Impossible episode. The heroes are an entertaining quartet though the audience will suspend some belief that they remain in Bravo One Nine shape a decade after coming in from the heart of the cold. Still the linear story line will have the audience's attention throughout as this is an enjoyable tale.

Lois Lane Tells All
Karen Hawkins
9781416560272, $7.99

In Glory, North Carolina, Susan Collins is a reporter and editor of the Glory Examiner. Her current boss is a no nonsense bottom line accountant. Temporarily in charge Mark Tremayne (brother of Roxie from Talk of the Town) is a hunk who ignores the news.

Mark cannot wait to leave the small town, but knows his job is to save the newspaper drowning in red. His biggest problem is ace reporter Susan who refuses to accept a big city accountant running the show over a news person. The only hope to turn around the paper lies with Susan's inquiry into the Baptist Bake-off as her editorial about something odd going on leads to danger from someone who wants her dead. Her brake lines are sliced and that adversary cut a hole into her boat. With the help of the not over the hill assisted-living gang, Susan investigates who wants to kill her.

This is an amusing journalistic investigative romance starring a likable cast. The lead couple fights and fusses over the Examiner from the onset with the dear Bob column and never slows down as they fall in love. Fast-paced, Karen Hawkins' fans will appreciate the return of the assisted-living mob to assist the intrepid reporter uncover who wants her dead and with her heart. Readers will enjoy the antics of the reporter and her super Clark Kent as she works finding the news worth printing while he works saving the newspaper.

Can't Teach An Old Demon New Tricks
Cara Lockwood
9781416550976, $7.99

In Dogwood, Texas five years ago Kevin Farnsworth attended a convention. When he returned home to his wife Rachel, he was not the same person. Rachel is unaware that her Kevin is dead; murdered by a demon who took possession of his body.

When Rachel gives birth to Cassidy, the new mom finds her offspring acting oddly and her spouse missing. She soon learns what is going on when a demon horde arrives demanding she tell them where Kevin is; they believe he knows where Azarel the fallen angel is hiding. Satan sends Sam another fallen angel to find Kevin. When he meets Rachel, he falls in love with the kick butt human. Soon afterward as their attraction grows, Rachel and Sam are caught in the middle of a demonic war.

This is an amusing lighthearted Texas romantic fantasy as angels and demons make Dogwood the focus of the latest frolic. Fast-paced, fans will root for the human caught in the middle as everyone seems to want a piece of her; only Sam literally wants the whole piece of her. Although the romantic relationship between the fallen angel and the mom never quite seems to gel, fans will enjoy this jocular tale of a tough human female battling heaven and hell to protect her hybrid demon offspring; though having a lot of fire e xtinguishers around should help.

Flirting With Forever
Gwyn Cready
9781439107249, $7.99

The Executive Guild of the Great Beyond directs agent Peter Lely to go to 1673 London to locate biographical writer Campbell Stratford and prevent a time travesty as she is writing a tell all tale for her twenty-first century audience. Stratford is authoring a book about seventeenth century artists that contains personal sordid details re the infamous painters that only an eye witness with a time tube portal would have.

In modern day Pittsburgh, Cam is completing her manuscript on the painters of the seventeenth century that she hopes to find a publisher. However, while conducting research over the Net, she is transported to Peter's home in London in circa 1673. They are attracted to one another, but he completes his mission by misdirecting the biographer. When Cam returns to Pennsylvania, she realizes what Peter has done to her and her book. When he shows up in contemporary Pittsburgh, he vows to not allow anything to get in the way of the woman he loves, but the first barrier is her.

Putting aside plausibility, Flirting with Forever is a superb time travel romance starring two wonderful protagonists and the occupants of the Great Beyond. Fast-paced in both centuries, fans will enjoy Gwyn Cready's charmer as no one will look at paintings and artists in quite the same light.

The Ghost Writer
Robert Harris
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439190555, $15.00,

Rhinehart Inc has paid former British Prime Minister Adam Lang a fortune to write his memoirs especially focusing on his war against terrorism; the project comes to a screeching halt when the ghostwriter Michael McAra dies in an apparent suicide. To bring the book back in on schedule, they hire a new ghostwriter who agrees to do the job in four weeks for a sizable fee.

He travels from London to the Rhinehart Estate on Martha's Vineyard to write the autobiography. While in residence, he notices a lot of undercurrents including Lang's wife Ruth behaving very antagonistically towards her spouse's beautiful assistant. The book in its present form is a disaster, but the ghostwriter believes he can extract some spice out of the dry passages to insure a bestseller. A sordid scandal breaks involving Lang who supposedly ordered the SAS to kidnap suspected terrorists in Pakistan to rendition them to the CIA for torture. Since the new British government refuses to investigate, the International Criminal Court of the Hague starts it own inquiries. Although he has zero interest in politics, the Ghostwriter conducts an investigation only to find secrets that could lead to his death if he is lucky or worse.

This is an enthralling political thriller that is totally frightening because Robert Harris makes his basic premise believable. There are many shocks to readers especially those who refuse to believe our side, the so called good guys, would resort to some of the tools of the trade. Almost as stunning is the dysfunctional inner circle that surrounds the former PM as everyone has an agenda to insure they look good in the autobiography. The Ghost Writer is a fascinating character as he knows no one is innocent, but needs to know who is the great puppeteer manipulating everyone even him. Mr. Harris, author of FATHERLAND, has written a chilling, plausible and enthralling tale.

Firefly Rain
Richard Dansky
Gallery (Pocket)
9781439148631, $15.00

He chose to remain in Boston after graduating from college; disappointing his parents as the visits back to Mayfield, North Carolina grew shorter in length and longer in gap. His father died five years after Jacob Logan finished school and his mother ten years later. Now with his business failing, Jacob retreats to his hometown where his family home has been maintained by his late mom's creepy elderly friend Carl Powell.

Back home, Jacob finds no peace though he initially assumes it is because he failed to see his parents much after going off to college in New England. However, as unexplained things occur like the theft of his car from his driveway without a sound, Jacob concludes his life and those he still cherishes are in jeopardy although he is unsure from what or why. He must solve the enigma of the townsfolk odd behavior towards him, the spirits of his parents haunting him from their nearby graves, and more so the torrential rain of fireflies that see m everywhere except on or near his estate.

This is an exciting rural regional horror thriller that grips young adult readers from the moment Jacob returns to a home that fails to welcome the prodigal son back. The story line is action-packed, but at times overwhelms the audience with too much unanswered piled on. Still this is an entertaining haunting as Jacob learns you can't go home unless the fireflies welcome you back.

Demon Possessed
Stacia Kane
9781439167618, $7.99

Psychologist, psychic, and demon clan leader Dr. Megan Chase attends a meeting of other paranormal group leaders. Her demon lover Greyson Dante plans to escort her to the session. . However before the pair leave for the meeting, FBI agent Elizabeth Reid interrogates Megan about some of the other attendees who run illegal businesses.

Megan has no time for a nosy human Fed who includes her fiery lover as one of her suspects. Instead she must focus on preventing the demon community demands that she convert into a full demon. Finally someone sends an angel to kill Megan.

The latest Megan Chase romantic urban fantasy is a fast-paced thriller in which the heroine is in a sort The Lady and the Tiger scenario as demons and humans demand she pick a side; does she give up her cherished humanity or her cherished Greyson? However, the angelic attack takes center stage as she must defeat this heavenly being, find out who the angel's handler is, and defeat an essence that can order an angel to kill. Although newcomers should read the previous books (see Demon Inside and Personal Demons) first to understand the several subplots that eventually tie deftly together, fans will appreciate the heroine's emotional decision between her heart and her soul.

All The Queen's Players
Jane Feather
9781416525547, $15.00

Forced to watch the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, Rosamund Walsingham look forward to when she can leave the royal intrigue behind. Rosamund muses on happier times before her royal entanglements. That ended when, through her brother Thomas, she met the writer Christopher Marlowe, who brought her to Queen Elizabeth's attention where her relative secretary of state Sir Francis Walsingham demands her loyalty to him or else.

Her Highness appreciated Rosamund's fine drawings. However, Rosamund understood her role was being an espionage agent ferreting out Catholic intrigue against the Queen. When she met courtier Will Creighton, they fell in love; but that is an emotion an undercover agent cannot afford to embrace.

This is a terrific Elizabethan Era thriller starring a heroine who wants out, but understands the only way out of spying is death. Readers see through Rosamund's eyes and somewhat that of Kit too, the court of Queen Elizabeth. In many ways Marlowe is the fascinating player on the Elizabethan stage as he brings freshness to the mix especially with his gay lover. Historical fiction reader swill welcome Jane feather into the fold as All the Queen's Players understand death is one stroke away.

On Shadow Beach
Barbara Freethy
9781439101575, $7.99

Lauren Jamison vowed to never return to her hometown of Angel's Bay, California where her sister Abby was murdered thirteen years ago. However, her dad suffers from Alzheimer's while her brother David is on the East Coast and mom refuses to take care of her ex husband whom she divorced eleven years ago. Thus, Lauren comes home to find nothing changed except the empty nest; not even the room she shared with her late sister.

Her former boyfriend Shane Murray, who was accused of killing Abby and condemned by the locals as guilty, is also in Angel's Bay. At the same time, Mark Devlin is making a movie about the death of Abigail Jamison. Lauren thinks the cold case requires a villain for a film so if none is forthcoming she will choose the still perfect fall guy; the boy and now the man she loves but let down when she refused to believe Shane's claim of innocence. Someone must agree as a car runs over the filmmaker.

Although the Angels' limited roles seem forced into appearing in the plot, fans will appreciate the return to Angel's Bay (see Suddenly One Summer) as Barbara Freethy provides a strong entry filled with remorse and angst. The characters are fully developed especially so the lead couple who remains restrained by their love as their relationship died along side Abby. Readers will enjoy this fine second chance at love romantic suspense as Lauren learns you can go home, but do you really want to?

Oath Of Fealty
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345508744, $25.00,

Due to the efforts of the farmer's daughter Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, who as the paladin saved the kingdom, half-breed elf Kieri Phelan sits precariously on the throne. He must protect his nation from enemies beyond their borders and worse from insidious traitors inside. King Kieri also understands he must earn the trust of his people who have doubts he has the strength and fortitude to rule. Although he never sought the crown, the former military captain vows to do what is right by his people.

In neighboring Tsaia where Kieri has many enemies, Prince Mikeli is to be anointed monarch. However, the powerful Verrakaien mage lord families attempt a coup. Mikeli counters while Dorrin Verrakai who did not participate must prove her innocence as a non blood using mage if the prince is to become king. Meanwhile the Gird has directed the paladin to perform other tasks. Thus two new kings must find new allies if they are to succeed at governa nce that helps their respective nations.

This is a terrific spin off from the wonderful The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy (see Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold) in which fans will relish the new entry and newcomers do not need to go back to read the previous saga first; as Elizabeth Moon deftly interweaves the past into the storyline. The story of two kings and kingdoms is Ms. Moon at her best as political, military and economic intrigue threatens two rookie monarchs with the most dangerous enemies of each at court.

The Desert Spear
Peter V. Brett
Del Rey
9780345503817, $26.00

Ahmann Jardir has united the Krasia desert tribes under his rule claiming he is the Shar'Dama Ka Deliverer who can destroy the night demons. He yields an ancient spear and wears a crown as old as his weapon as he leads his demon killing army towards the cities of the north.

Others also claim to be the legendary Shar'Dama Ka. In the north there is Arlen Bales although he insists he is not the Deliver, but the Warded Man; whose tattooed skin contains magical wards that devastate demonic opponents. These two charismatic leaders have arrived at critical juncture as humanity has all but lost the night to the demon hordes. Jardir and Arlen were brothers in arms, but are now opponents whose rivalry further divides the humans. Key supporters like Jardir's ambitious psychic wife Inevera, Leesha the warding healer and Rojer the fiddler with the magical music struggle with who to support. This is a particular bad time to remain at odds as a new demonic breed has challenged the humans leaving those like Renna in dire straits.

The sequel to the Warded Man continues Jardir's conquests though he seems heroic rather than brutal as he did in the first fantasy thanks in part to his Machiavellian wife coming across more villainous than him. Fast-paced and filled with tons of action as armies battle on the epic scale, The Desert Spear is an exhilarating saga even with romance including for the Wild Thing "as love is all around us, it's everywhere we go" (the Troggs did have another hit). Readers will enjoy the second entry as the Deliver and the Warded Man are opponents at a time humanity cannot afford divertive internal strife.

Dragon Haven
Robin Hobb
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061931413, $27.99,

Expelled from the Cassarik area by the fear of the locals of the new dragon hatchlings, the beasts and their mutated human keepers continue their journey to find the fabled lost city of Kelingra with danger and starvation every step along the deadly Rain Wild River. As the dragons mature, they become powerful fully developed while their keepers remain malformed but are well adjusted for the most part.

However finding the ancient Elderings' vanished haven proves impossible as the collective memory of the landscape fails to match what the world along the Rain Wild River has become. Instead danger from flash floods and a scarcity of food as supplies dwindle threatens the explorers.

The sequel to the Dragon Keeper is an exciting climax to a well written duology that returns readers to the Hobbs' realm of the Liveship Traders and the Tawny Man sagas. The story line is a coming of age fantasy especially of the naive female teenager Thymara who grows in confidence as she learns who to trust and more important to distrust. Although the rest of the cast seems somewhat interchangeable as shallowly deceptive or even shallower naive, fans of Robin Hobb will enjoy the trek along the Rain Wild River.

Song of Scarabaeus
Sara Creasy
9780061934735, $7.99

The ultra top secret government agency the Crib deploys a "biocyph" technology to terraform the planet Scarabaeus. However, something goes terribly wrong and the planet is dying. Leadership of the Crib has no idea why and besides deploying the cover-up seeks explanations. The Crib raised orphan Edie Sha'nim because she possesses the innate talent and augmented with appropriate training and brainwashing to program biocyph seeds. Edie knows what caused the genocidal snafu.

The Rebel Fringe colonies seek their freedom from the iron fist of the Crib's clutches know of her. Agents kidnap Edie and link her "telepathically" to Finn even as they want her to help them prevent the biocyph seeds annual deactivation. Edie fears telling Finn and the Rebels what she knows as she inadvertently played a key role in the destruction of Scarabaeus.

Song of Scarabaeus is a terrific outer space science fiction romance with the emphasis on the science extrapolated from current trends. The planets add to that feeling of being out in deep space with their strange extraterrestrial surfaces while the lead coupling leashed together mentally is attracted to one another but each has to find a way to separate what their leaders programmed from what their hearts demand. Sara Creasy provides a winner with the lamenting haunting Song of Scarabaeus.

A Taint In The Blood
S.M. Stirling
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463418, $25.95,

The Shadowspawn were the ancient rulers of the world before Homo Sapiens emerged with masses of numbers to overwhelm and force Homo lupiens into hiding amongst the human sheep. Although cross breeding with the enemy has watered down the species with no known purebreds left, the long term strategic goal of the Shadowspawn is to return to the top of the food chain.

Wealthy Shadowspawn Adrian Breze wants no part of his hybrid species lofty endeavor nor does he want much to do with the humans. At one time he actually fought against the Shadowspawn who rules the Lupiens with an iron claw. Now he prefers to be left alone as he loathes both sides of the civil war. However, his twin sister Adrienne, though she detests her mentally weak brother, demands he use his power to further the cause of the Shadowspawn that she is a key member of. Knowing he will refuse to join her team; near Santa Fe she abducts his only vulnerable object, his human lover Ellen Tarnowski as his sibling knows he would move heaven, hell and earth for the pathetic woman.

This is a terrific urban fantasy that starts with a strong opening scene as readers meet the two females in the lead triangle when Adrienne kidnaps Ellen and takes off from there as S.M Stirling establishes his new realm. Although Adrienne introduces herself as his "evil twin" detracts from her belief that her species even "dumbed down" by intermingling with inferior sapiens blood is superior to the human purebred, fans will enjoy the threesome do their expected deadly tango. Well written and fun to read even with nothing new added to the sub-genre landscape, fans will enjoy the action-packed opening Shadowspawn act.

Magic On The Storm
Devon Monk
9780451463272, $7.99

A Hound searching for the practitioners of illegal magic use, Allie Beckstrom continues her training with the Authority. Obviously she is one teacher's pet as her lover and soul mate Zayvion Jones is a prime instructor in her magical skills education. Allie believes she contains a segment of her late father's soul because she hears him "speak" in her mind.

The Authority leadership concludes a treacherous magical tsunami is heading towards Portland that will destabilize magic activity; it will take a powerful cohesive team to restrain it and hopefully contain it if scattering proves impossible. Allie and Zayvion are a major part of the wildstorm counteroffensive unit; but neither the professor nor the student realizes the worst treachery is from within the Authority.

The latest Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy is a terrific entry as all magical hell is heading to Portland where the lead couple on the front prepares for the "war" while seditious acts occur within the Authority hampering the efforts to prevent the deadly perfect storm. Allie has come a long way since she learned of Magic to the Bone; as her heart and soul has found her other while she learns to control her paranormal skills. This is a strong tale, as the magical world of Devon Monk seems genuine.

Under Heaven
Guy Gavriel Kay
9780451463302, $26.95

Second son Shen Tai has spent the last two years as the only living person amidst the forty thousand dead, burying the bones of the dead from both sides. He does this to honor his late father, Kitai Empire Left Side Commander of the Pacified West General Shen Gao who died here while leading his side to victory.

Tai's endeavor is rewarded with the unexpected stunning gift of 250 Sardian "Heavenly Horses", the greatest steeds on the planet. To obtain his gift, he must come in person to the Sardian Court of their former enemy so he leaves the ghostly mountain battlefield for the capital of the Kitai Empire, Xinan. Tai knows how valuable they are, but soon learns others agree as assassination attempts to send him to his late father begin even without his claiming the horses yet.

Under Heaven is a superb historical epic that builds off an ancient Chinese dynasty to tell a beautiful tale of power abused, betrayal, honor and love. The secondary characters enhance a strong sense of what the hero is going through as the audience will feel we accompany Shen Tai on his travels. Guy Gavriel Kay provides a deep saga of a hero rewarded and consequently assaulted for honoring his father by interring the remains of valiant soldiers from both sides to their ghosts can silently rest forever.

Stephen Baxter
9780451463319, $24.95

The unabated Flood spreads rapidly across continents with only the highest elevations of land remaining. In America, the Rocky Mountains is the last stronghold not under water, but that is turning into an archipelago. In 2025 as six year old Holle Groundwater and her dad make it to Denver, the last great American city, scientists predict total submersion in the next couple of decades. Their hope to save humanity resides with an Ark traversing to a New Earth II. Some oppose this as a waste of resources with only a select few leaving. Nathan Lammockson pushes creation of geodesic dome habitat s on earth that will save so many more.

By 2041 time has run out but Ark One launches with an elitist crew targeting Earth II with a faster than the speed of light technology. On board is frightened Holle who is trained as an astrophysicist and military strategist. She proves her choice is correct, as she contributes over the next four decades. Life inside the Ark One is miserable, but as Holle knows Darwin is right; cut throat survival of the fittest is all that matters to mankind's remaining few.

This is an exciting science fiction thriller that initially follows up directly from Flood (worth reading first to better understand how humanity got here and what happened to the seas though Stephen Baxter does a nice job with the back-story) before soaring into space. The story line mostly focuses on life inside the Ark over four decades. Considering "necessity as the mother of invention" and being scientific-illiterate, the underlying theories seem reasonable. However, the use of resourcing to construct an Ark that if all goes right starting with the launch and a stop at Jupiter will save a few seems off kilter. Still placing aside the plausibility of opportunity costs, Ark is a terrific exciting outer space character study as those inside at times feel like sardines packed in oil.

The Lost Fleet: Victorious
Jack Campbell
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441018697, $7.99,

In the far distant future, the Alliance and Syndicated worlds have been at war for over a century. Captain John "Black Jack" Geary was in cryogenic sleep for almost that long. Since his fleet successfully evacuated from the system where the Syndicates set a trap, he is regarded as a hero by a war weary public where millions would support him if he chose to be a dictator with the military backing him up. He accepts the post of fleet admiral even though the Ruling Council fears Black Jack.

He asks the authorities that promoted him to give him permission to negotiate with the Syndics, who have lost much of their ships and military; they are in horrific shape. Granted the authority, when he arrives on the home space station of the Syndics, he did not expect the fight of his life. If he wins, they still have a common enemy; an alien race on the other side of the Syndicate space whose strategic plan is to take control of this sector and ultimately the Alliance too. Geary leads a counter insurgence to prevent this Machiavellian scheme from occurring, but he will need Syndic cooperation to succeed.

This is the sixth book in the Black Jack military space opera series and fans of the saga will relish the tale as am entertaining twist occurs. The hero is a terrific leader who understands military and political strategy but also understands he sends soldiers to their death while fat cat council leaders have a different agenda than those on the front line. Readers will enjoy Jack Campbell's latest Lost Fleet science fiction thriller because like President Eisenhower the hero has a deep regard for life even with his first hand field knowledge that many of his troops will never go home.

Ghosts And Echoes
Lyn Benedict
9780441018703, $7.99

Miami based private investigator Sylvie Lightner continues to grieve deaths she caused like that of Michael even if she simply saved the world (see Sins and Shadows). She knows she needs to get back to work handling paranormal cases, but that is easier said than done when you are responsible for the death of others.

Still she goes to her South Beach store Shadows Inquiries to see what havoc her partner Alexandra Figueroa-Smith caused even as her backbrain snipes at her. Sylvie rejects as clients witches, werewolves, demons and others as she has pissed off enough of them for several lifetimes. However, she reluctantly agrees to handle the case of Chicago police officer Adam Wright who shows up while she is doing surveillance. A husband and father of a six years old son, he says he is either possessed or crazy as he died but came back with an otherworld hitchhiker. She explains not her thing as she is good at breaking and destroying not surgically removing parasites from a host as her approach is kill the host and the parasite is gone. Still she agrees to help him after he mentions Anna D the succubus who hates her referred him.

The key to this terrific urban fantasy is the world of Benedict seems genuine as the heroine works the Magicus Mundi cases. Fast-paced, fans will relish Sylvie's efforts to send that other soul back to the beyond. Readers will enjoy this fine paranormal private investigate thriller with a great late twist as the tough detective works the abnormal beat.

Bewitched and Betrayed
Lisa Shearin
9780441018727, $7.99

Seeker Raine Benares wants to go back to just finding missing things and people, but knows that will not happen at least for now. Instead, the elf is bonded to the soul-stealing Saghred stone and complicating matters she is also tri-umi'atsu bonded with Paladin Mychael Eiliesor and goblin Tamnais Nathrach.

As she wonders how a seeker could be tied up like this, one of the six evil mages who escaped from the Saghred wants her dead so he can control the rock, but needs to re-grow his goblin body first. Thus Sarad Nukpana is killing the most powerful essences with the umi'atsu trio the last to die for him to complete his quest of becoming an evil God.

This is an exciting action-packed fantasy filled with tension and jocularity as few authors can combine. Raine is terrific as she ironically wants to hide, but knows she cannot as her bonding will not allow her to do so nor the knowledge he is coming for her as she is the only thing between his achieving his goal. Readers will enjoy Bewitched and Betrayed as High Noon is coming to the mythological world of Shearin.

The Sweet Scent of Blood
Suzanne McLeod
9780441018710, $7.99

In London, the only known Sidhe fae in the city Genevieve "Genny" Taylor works for whose vision is "Making Magic Safe!" Genny is a spellcracker, who hunts for magic in order to remove spells before they cause trouble though she ironically cannot cast a spell.

Her boss at Stella Raynham sends Mr. Hinkley to meet with Genny in order to hire her to conduct a murder investigation. His celebrity vampire son Roberto (known as Mr. October due to a popular calendar) is accused of killing his human girlfriend Melissa; the media has convicted him of murdering his "Juliet" as they have dubbed the victim. Mr. Hinkley wants Genny to find the real culprit. Genny explains that the Witch Council, of which her firm belongs, taboos vampiric cases. However, she reluctantly agrees as the fee will pay off a major debt. Her inquiry soon has Genny moving inside vampire society and a few other paranormal subcultures, but each clue she finds seems to either hang her client's son or push her further away from the truth.

The first urban fantasy is a terrific paranormal whodunit starring a likable heroine who is a sort of a British female Dresden (early books) in London where the supernatural have legal rights. The atmosphere is deftly established to enable the reader to believe in vampires, fae, and trolls, etc while also lampooning western society, which makes the tone lighter than Simon R. Green's vision of the city, but also somewhat slows down the inquiry. The Sweet Scent of Blood is a wonderful opening act that will have the sub-genre audience wanting more of Genny's London.

The Lumby Lines
Gail Fraser
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451221391, $14.00,

Forty years ago when their lives were tanking, Mark and Pam Walker knew they needed a respite together. They had planned to visit historical inns, but kept kicking the can until they decided this was no longer acceptable. So each year since, they have visited rundown due to a fire Montis Abbey in Lumby in the Northwest, built in 1893, but the Church and then the affluent allowed it to deteriorate. Now the Walker pair wants to turn the edifice into an inn with them running a restaurant there.

Nothing occurs in town that gets passed the notice of The Lumby Lines owner William Beezer. He opposes the outsiders moving in and forming a business as he fears what makes his town quaint and quirky will soon be inundated by other "fungi", which will drive the long time families away. The mayor is silent on the issue as the burned down Montis Abbey is not a nice place to do his business in public

The reprint of the first Lumby rustic village family saga is filled with fun subplots over the top of the Rockies. Whimsical, uplifting and warm, The Lumby Lines' newspaper makes the tale enjoyable with columns like the Sheriff's Complaints and quoting the mayor barking out orders. Although rural conquers urban too easily and with a nod to Mossy Creek, Gail Fraser does so with humor as Beezer steals the show from the outside upstarts with his amusing commentaries.

The Queen's Pawn
Christy English
9780451229236, $15.00

In 1169, eleven years old Alais, Princess of France understands she is just another useless female except as a pawn in a marital alliance. Whereas her mother died birthing her, Alais' older married step-sisters were spawned by the wicked Queen Eleanor who was her father King Louis' first wife before she divorced him to marry the English monarch Henry II. Alais' dad informs her she will marry Prince Richard, son of the devils King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Ever since Henry exiled her for his lover Rosamunde, Eleanor, though behaving, considers how she can place one of her sons on the throne; with Richard her first choice. When she meets Alais, Eleanor is stunned as the girl reminds her of her herself. She mentors the Princess of France to be her daughter-in-law, but does it out of love. Alais cherishes her teacher, but as she becomes a young woman, she wants much more than Eleanor allows for her. Soon, their mother-daughter like relationship turns acrimonious as the younger uses the power tips the older taught her boldly and brazenly to go after the top prize.

Although Eleanor has been the star of other biographical fictions, this is a refreshing account as the audience sees the late twelfth century world of England and to a lesser degree France through the eyes of the two female powerhouses. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this deep s aga as two women vie for control of the English stage using men of rank as pawns in their chess match.

Five Odd Honors
Jane Lindskold
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765317025, $27.99,

Only recently did college student Brenda Morris learn that The Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice existed based on what she thought were Chinese myths and that her ancestors crossed over from this alternate earth place (see Thirteen Orphans and Nine Gates). Although she has also learned she possesses the powers of the Zodiac Rat, her dad pleads with her to ignore her magical prowess and the encouragement of her Aunt Pearl the Dragon in order to return to school. He wants her to live a normal life anchored on this earth.

However, the Orphans-Exiles seize an opportunity to open a gate into the Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice in order to return with five of their dead so they can honor their late compatriots. However, once they open the ninth gate, the Thirteen Orphans are stunned as the Center is impenetrable and soon several are captured. On earth an assault of Pearl Bright the Tiger concerns Brenda who cannot get back into textbooks and lectures. When she learns what occurred in The Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice, her first thought is that of betrayal; her second rumination is that of mounting a rescue though her third consideration is what superior being could have achieved what has occurred in the Lands.

The third Chinese zodiac urban fantasy is a superb thriller in which much of the violence is off page as the heroine and others discuss what happened and how to react. Thus the story line is character driven with much of the action passively discussed not actively performed. This approach provides reflective insight into Brenda, her family, and the Orphans while also enabling the reader to better comprehend the Chinese zodiac although the minute detail can turn overwhelming.

The Edge of Ruin
Melinda Snodgrass
9780765316462, $27.99

In spite of his extremely wealthy background and his father's disdain, Richard Oort joined the Albuquerque Police Department because he always wanted to become a cop. However, two months ago his reality shattered putting him over The Edge of reason when he found out there is a lot more out there in between heaven and hell. The Old Ones are breaching an interdimensional gate to gain access to earth and the rest of this universe by using mortals as expendable tools to commit violence.

When Lumina Enterprises CEO Prometheus became bound, Richard took over, but failed to persuade the American political leaders to act as people go insane and religious leaders inadvertently enable the Old Ones. Richard needs to rescue his predecessor to save mankind; so with his sister's help leads a science charge at the gate against magical practitioners.

The middle Edge fantasy is a terrific tale that continues to cause the audience to reconsider values, belief systems and leaders (political, religious, and community). Although at times his dysfunctional relationship with his family, especially his father, overwhelms the plot, readers will relish this intelligent fast-paced thriller as Melinda Snodgrass will leave fans pondering what are the personal motives and agendas of our leaders, especially those claiming the high moral ground.

Jay Lake
9780765321862, $26.99

Paolina Barthes the sorceress has caused havoc upsetting the God given gears of the northern hemisphere. Rival ambitious groups The Silent Order and the White Birds pursue her to gain control of her "free will" magic that each believes will allow them to become the absolute authority in the north. Paolina flees southward with plans to do the impossible of crossing over The Equatorial Wall that God constructed to keep earth rotating through heaven

On the other side of the Great Wall that God built is The Southern Empire whose mystics gear for the coming of Paolina. They know what she has done to the clockwork precision balance in the north and want to prevent her heresy wrecking their society as granted to them by God as their right to rule. These mystics do not idly await the arrival of the destroyer, but instead go after Paolina's beloved Boaz the brass man and Childress the Mask librarian who travel in a Chinese sub.

The final tale in the Clockwork Earth saga (see Escapement and Mainspring) is a terrific climax to a strong thought provoking thriller. Jay Lake magically mixes his big metaphysical themes with a deep cast starring in an electrifying fast-paced story line. Readers will fully appreciate Pin ion as Mr. Lake takes the audience on a profound philosophical comparison of religion and magic vs. science; especially free will vs. pre-determinism and subjection. With two prime subplots filled with action, Paolina still holds the novel together as the heretic beginning a revolution in thought similar perhaps to the Renaissance or more so the transformation from the divine rights of kings to the Age of Reason. This is great finish, but newcomers need to read the previous entries first or be lost in the precision of Clockwork Earth.

Up Jim River
Michael Flynn
9780765322845, $25.95

The Kennel of the United League of the Periphery assigns top Hound Bridget ban to obtain an artifact on the frontier planet Dangchao Waypoint that allegedly will help them remain safe in their galactic war against their enemy the Confederate of Central Worlds. Bridget ban knows the Confederacy will go all out to possess or destroy the artifact. Arriving on the planet, she begins the dangerous trek up river only to vanish. The Kennel conducts a quick inquest before deciding all beginnings and endings are with Jehovah; as Bridget ban obviously is.

Outraged with the instant official write off of her mother, who was a loyal hound, Bridget's daughter Mearana rejects the notion that her mom is dead. Mearana decides to rescue her mom, but knows she needs professional help so she chooses her mom's former lover, Donovan, who is insane so Mearana believes he might agree to do the job with her at his side; though he also could get them killed as the Confederacy Those of Name tortured him into seven distinct personalities. He agrees to take her to Dangchao Waypoint along the river of death.

Returning to the far future universe of The January Dancer, Michael Flynn provides an entertaining search and rescue mission science fiction thriller as the location of a remote lethal sector of the human dominated galaxy comes across as powerfully vivid. Enhancing time and place is almost mythological use of references and archaic vernacular dating back to twentieth and twenty-first century earth that focuses on a presupposition of knowledge and understanding of previous civilizations. More traditional in outlook than its predecessor, Up Jim River comes across more like a series of TV episodes along the line of Lost or 24, but with an unhinged hero. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced S&R quest on a planet filled with wilds.

Shadows in the Cave
Caleb Fox
9780765319937, $24.99

Galayi Tribal War Chief Shonan has banned the use of magic especially by his family ever since the events that shook him and his tribe several years ago (see Zadayi Red). Although he honors the Gods and knows his wife Meli has the power of shapeshifting and her grandmother is a seer who lately seems to talk to herself or some spirit no one else sees, he prefers earthly pragmatism over the mystical. Their oldest children are twin twelve years old, Aku and Salya. A male Aku has the maternal paranormal skill of shapeshifting that he yearns to use, but fears disobeying his father while his female twin ironically cannot.

Unable to resist Aku practices shifting by himself. However, as he begins to become proficient, the Brown Leaf People violently attack the Galayi's five villages. Shonan and Salya are dispatched to the underworld Darkening Land while his sibling's body is owned by a monster. There only hope to return to the living is Aku; who must find himself if he is to save his family members.

This is a superb coming of age Cherokee quest fantasy that grips the reader the moment the Brown Leaf tribe attacks. The story line focuses on the young hero whose reflective doubts are his biggest impediments to saving his twin and their father. Fans preferring some action intermingled with major moments of meditative pensiveness will enjoy Aku's journey into his mind, heart and soul as he traverses the Shadows in the Cave of the Darkening Land.

The Long Man
Steve Englehart
9780765317308, $25.99

Max August would like to return to his simpler life as a DJ during the Reagan Era, but ever since he became the timeless Point Man mage sandwiched between the war of chaos and order, he knows he can never go back. Two plus decades later, still looking in his thirties and not his fifties, his friend Fern calls him on his iPhone; a voice he had not heard in six years. She needs his help.

Someone using powerful magick has assaulted researcher Dr. Pamela Blackwell. Her work on curing the zombie plague is looking promising. An unknown super cabal the Free Range Coalition has plans for global control and Blackwell's work could br a major interference to their plans. When Max intervenes, the FRC sends hordes of killing zombies after the Timeless mortal.

Over the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco, Juliana in Suriname and Mount Hillaby in the Barbados, the Long Man is en engaging thriller that is fun to read; just ignore credibility especially of the throwback comic book villains. Fast-paced as Max and Pam elude the enemy while also killing some along the way, readers will enjoy the return of the Point Man.

The Legions of Fire
David Drake
9780765320780, $25.99

In Carce, the center of civilization, bookworm Varus, son of Senator Gaius Saxa, is to do a reading. Attending it is his classmate and friend Corylus, son of commander Publius Cispius. At the recital of the epic poem, Varus abruptly makes strange predictions of the end of days beginning count down.

His young shrewish stepmother Hedia holds the avaricious wizard Nemastes culpable for Varus' outrageous embarrassing behavior. However, besides Varus, Corylus and his sister Alphena were engulfed by visions during the recital. None are aware that to the north on a remote volcanic isle, mages have begun a final ritual that will enable beasts from beyond this realm to enter and destroy mankind. Four residents of Carce with diverse skills are all that stand in the way to prevent total extinction.

The key to this sort of historical fantasy is how wonderfully David Drake captures the essence of the patrician nobility of Rome, which brings freshness to the quest. The quartet of heroes is fully developed with different skills, knowledge and attitudes. Corylus brings military strategic experience to the mix; Alphena possesses combat skills; Hedia is brilliant though volatile; and Varus has a connection to the beyond. Together they may save the realm; separately they have no chance as the Legion of Fire is an enjoyable first tale.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Fireside Chats
Frank S. O'Neal
Love's Jazz & Arts Center
2510 N. 24th St., Omaha, NE 68110
9780981796437, $14.95

"Fireside Chats, A Surrealist's View of the World Volume 1" is a collection of searing poems by a unique visionary, Frank S. O'Neal. Dedicated to Bernice Catherine Davis O'Neal and Frank Sebron O'Neal, the author's parents, "Fireside Chats" presents the cutting edge of a legacy of truth. Mr. O'Neal is a multi-talented author whose work is like a bright torch to light pathways out of shadows of centuries-old racism and bigotry. Most of it is not very comfortable to read or to experience, but it is certainly electrifying and challenging. Mr. O'Neal's history of serving in Viet Nam, working as a paramedic, and world traveling in the Coast Guard all inform and underlie his poetry and his art, but his voice is always critically clear, a profile in black intellectual literature. Perhaps two stunning quotations out of this book full of amazing, hammering songs can be presented. Like most of the poems, they are embellished with black and white drawings of an apocryphal setting with human figures:

"The ultimate choice of a MAN/ In as much as he wants to/ transcend himself,/ is to.../ Love or Hate/ Create or Destroy/ What's your Story? (pp. 11-12).

The second poem begins with a list of 56 names of signers of the original Declaration of Independence, followed by their states and occupations. Then the words:

"Just your kind of country, aye/ Fifty-five of the fifty-six --- Anne, Rupert, Bill and Rush --- Signers owned slaves (p. 23).

"Fireside Chats A Surrealist's View of the World Volume 1" is a sharp and stupendous gift to the world. As O'Neal notes in tiny cryptic writing in an illustration of a mounted avenging black soldier on a bucking horse with dripping sword approaching the vulnerable belly/groin, with two prone KKK bodies in the foreground and 3 flaming crosses in the background, "The Ink of the Scholar is of more value than the Blood on the Sword (p. 55)."

I Dare to Stop the Wind
Bettina Rotenberg
VALA Book Press
1605 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703
9780615336107, $24.95

"I Dare to Stop the Wind: Challenging Children in the Public Schools Through the Arts & Poetry" is a fascinating summary of a creative arts teaching approach pioneered at the VALA Project by Bettina Rotenberg in the Bay area inner city elementary schools, including West Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. The purpose of VALA (Visual Arts/Language Arts) is to "envelop children whose lives are dismally restricted and subject to violence and poverty with a sense of inspiration from the visual and performing arts." To achieve this, VALA brings artists and writers to public elementary schools in West Contra Costa and Alameda counties to give English language-learning kids and others the opportunity to write creatively about their experiences. "I Dare to Stop the Wind" presents many successful examples of VALA artist/writer projects in classrooms where children have demonstrated amazing written and creative responses to some of the challenges offered within the exciting VALA artists' and poets' curriculum interactions. Filled with color photos of art projects and poems created by students of VALA, "I Dare to Stop the Wind" is its own best emissary for arts education and increasing literacy among English language learners. Some of the artists who are showcased in "I Dare to Stop the Wind" include Amy Trachtenberg (painter), Leon Kassapides (shadow play puppeteer), Augusta Talbot (sculptor), Sean Nash (animator/film maker), and Pat Reed (poet). Teachers' testimonials are also included to attest to the value and educational validity of the VALA Project in the classrooom. But perhaps the most impressive results in "I Dare to Stop the Wind" are the works of the students themselves, represented along with photos of their proud creators.

Healing Gifts, Qi Gong in Breast Cancer Recovery
Margaret Randolph & Cielle Tewksbury
Idyll Arbor
39129 26th Ave. SE, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781882883752, $16.00

"Healing Gifts" presents an informed approach to breast cancer victims' treatment programs. Written by a physical therapist and an expert in Tai Ji and Qi Gong, "Healing Gifts" contains "the perfect balance of movement and meditation" specifically adapted to breast cancer recovery needs. Complete with chapters on basic essentials, Qi Gong movement, acupressure point for cancer, recovery, relaxation techniques, self-nurturing and accepting help, resources, calligraphy glossary and poetry meditations, "Healing Gifts" offers a valuable collection of resources and approaches to breast cancer survivors everywhere. In addition to carefully illustrated gentle exercises and techniques, the authors are successful consultants who offer Qi Gong workshops in Hospice Cancer Centers in the U. S., Europe, and South America. For further information, contact them at

People of the Lakes
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation & Shirleen Smith
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada T6G 2E1
9780888645050, $34.95

"People of the Lakes: Stories of Our Van Tat Gwich'in Elders/ Googwandak Nakhwach'anjoo Van Tat Gwich'in" is an amassing of oral accounts of Gwich'in Elders and the Van Tat Gwich'in which contains stories form four or more generations of Van Tat Gwich'in born in the century span from the 1880's to the 1980's. Some stories which are described as "long -ago" may go back as far as many centuries more. Context for the stories is provided by collaborator Shirleen Smith, Anthropology professor from the University of Alberta. Studded with more than 125 color photographs and more black and white photos, "People of the Lakes" is both a meticulous translation of over 150 years of Gwich'in history and a hailed tribute to the Van Tat Gwich'in community and its heritage. From the transcribing of this shared knowledge, which is priceless, can only come further enrichment of all inheriting cultures who occupy the territory of the "People of the Lakes." A great contribution also to the field of Native American Studies, "People of the Lakes" is a trendsetter and a ground breaker for anthropologists, ethnohistorians, and others interested in the northern regions of Canada and North America. A helpful Glossary is provided at the end of the book that translates from Gwich'in to English and the reverse. The text ;is further enhanced by the presence of various maps and historic photographs, each carefully documented. "People of the Lakes" is sure to garner praise and awards as it crosses genres and fulfills many obligations.

Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease
Miriam P. Boelen
Human Kinetics
P.O. Box 5076,Champaign, IL 61825
9780736074926, $61.00 800-747-4457

"Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease" is a compact, well organized clinicians' resource that aids in finding effective strategies for physical management of common symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The chapters are carefully researched, written as cross-referenced independent units, organized by presenting problem areas. A broad but concise introduction begins with a summary of medical, surgical assisted and self-management treatment strategies that are used effectively across seven specified stages (modified Hoehn and Yahr, p. 4) of disease progression. Two types of dyskinesias (or involuntary movement disorders) are presented for treatment focus: dystonia and tremor. Further development of balancing deficits treatment strategies, transfer problems, and qualitative and quantitative gait assessment are included, with a frequent goal of improving ambulation abilities. Blalck and white photographs, illustrations and specific case examples help document clearly the approaches suggested. "Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease" is a valuable, practical, efficient resource for health care staff teams who work with the PD population. Its usefulness in homecare settings also demands further exploration, with good clinical supervision.

Dynamic Art Projects For Children
Denise Logan
Crystal Productions
P.O. Box 2159, 1812 Johns Drive, Glenview, IL 60025
1562903500, $24.95

"Dynamic Art Projects For Children" is a how-to collection of imaginative art projects for children in grades 1-6, originally created and taught in Gilbert, Arizona public elementary schools. Including step-by-step instructions and colorful photographs of both process and finished art projects, "Dynamic Art Projects For Children" opens new vistas for public, private, and home school art education. Each project is described with the topic and concepts listed first followed by a project description and complete list of materials. Final photos of proud children holding their finished works add valuable testimony to the impact of "Dynamic Art Projects For Children." A guide to the ages of children best suited for each project is highlighted at the top left of each new project description, further assisting the teacher. To sum up, the use of art projects such as those suggested and described does the following: "Creating art opens a window into a child's imagination. These projects facilitate the creation of a beautiful piece of art by tapping into creativity as well as building confidence and self-esteem (back cover, "Dynamic Art Projects For Children"). In addition, many fine color photos of children's finished art projects speak clearly to the tangible results of the implementation of this well-crafted collection of creative art projects.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

The Script-Chores
Chris Apoder O'Riordan-Adjah
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432745738, $17.95,

A little charm and humor goes along way in conveying a message. "The Script-Chores" is a collection of poetry from Chris Apoder O'Riordan-Adjah, as he presents his experiences from his life that spans over many different countries, being born in Germany, raised in Ghana, and living in the United States. Fine and entertaining work, "The Script-Chores" is recommended.

Nose Kiyasu Monogatari
S. K. Nose
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162369, $12.95,

The story of Japanese Americans is one that's unlike any other. "Nose Kiyasu Monogatari: An American Autobiographical History" is an autobiography of S. K. Nose as he reflects on his life story of growing up the child of a Japanese family, as he focuses on his family who have their own stories, including the darker side of the American history, the Japanese internment camps. "Nose Kiyasu Monogatari" is an interesting pick, highly recommended.

Lost Love Found
Tim Gomes
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440148675, $15.95,

Love so often only seems to bring pain. "Lost Love Found" tells the tale of Dan Jagger, coping with the years after losing his wife to the September 11th attacks. When he runs into his high school sweetheart much more, he learns to love again, but soon finds that pain often comes with love, no matter how many times before. Split between the disappearance of his son and his new girlfriend's ex-husband, "Lost Love Found" is a riveting read of what one puts up with for love.

Outlook for a Better Life
Haile Gebre Egziabher
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432749910, $24.95,

Your life is only as good as you think it is. "Outlook for a Better Life" is a guide to personal happiness from Haile Gebre Egziabher as he states his own thoughts and opinions on how to improve one's attitude and outlook on life using the word of God and embracing his word to the fullest. "Outlook for a Better Life" is sage and wise, a top pick for a Christian trying to lift their own spirits through faith.

Birding Lite
Stan Dryden
Privately Published
9780578041346, $12.95,

Birds are simple, yet majestic creatures who humanity creepily states at. "Birding Lite: A Humorous How-To Guide for All Who Enjoy Watching Birds" is a guide for to those who use the birds around them as a piece of natural beauty to help them through their own drudging life where that bit of beauty helps. Lighthearted and aimed at both bird watchers and their less observant brethren, "Birding Lite" is a read that shouldn't be missed.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Midnight Fires
Nancy Means Wright
Perseverance Press
John Daniel & Company
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564744883, $14.95,

Nancy Means Wright lives in Middlebury, Vermont. She is a teacher of many years, and has authored eight mysteries; seven non-mysteries; short stories; and poems. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies. She has written a collection of poems in the person of Mary Wollstonecraft. Her awards include a Bread Loaf Scholarship and an Agatha Award and nominee for two children's mysteries.

Mary Wollstonecraft needs to earn her living, so she accepts a post as a governess in Mitchelstown Castle with the infamous Kingsborough family. On the crossing from Holyhead to Dublin she witnesses the apparent murder of an Irish man named Sean Toomey, who was a sailor on her ship, but not until he thrust a packet in her hand to deliver to a man named Liam:

"The ship lurched and threw her against him; he gripped her shoulders and helped her to grasp the ladder. She squinted down at the letter. FOR LIAM. 'Liam who? Where does he live?' Mary called to the fellow, who had already turned away.

'I'm only going to Mitchelstown, I said. Mitchelstown,' she shouted over the screech of sails, the howl of wind, the hallooing seamen. In tiny letters at the bottom of the letter she saw it was to be delivered to a Liam in Mitchelstown-the reason, perhaps, for his pursuing the conversation. 'Wait! You must find someone else to deliver it,'

Holding on to her hat with one hand, the rigging with the other, she reeled about to find him. He was nowhere in sight. She was sorry now that she had told him her destination. If she could not find a Liam, so be it. She thrust the letter into the pocket of her greatcoat."

MIDNIGHT FIRES just reels with mystery and intrigue, from the first page. It is a historical mystery, and Mary Wollstonecraft is the same Eighteenth century woman who was far ahead of her time with her views of marriage; childrearing; and women's rights. She is also the mother of Mary Shelley, who wrote FRANKENSTEIN. This is a masterful and entertaining historical whodunit.

No Such Thing as a Free Ride
Shelly Fredman
Aquinas & Krone Publishing, LLC
9780984352623, $12.95,

Shelly Fredman is a full time teacher in California for her day job. But after hours she conjures up a host of characters for her "No Such Thing As." mystery series. Shelly originally hails from Philadelphia, PA. Her mythical character, Brandy Alexander, tells the story of Shelly's beloved hometown, complete with "Tastykakes" and other Philly favorites. Shelly has graced the reading world with four Brandy Alexander books, and the latest is a hoot.with a serious message.

Brandy Alexander, self-effacing "puff" reporter recently returned to her beloved Philadelphia from a stint in Los Angeles, is back at it. She is an expert at rushing headlong into danger to rescue friends and people she deems need her particular form of expertise. This usually involves nasty characters with guns. So, her erstwhile shrink suggests that Brandy takes steps to protect herself:

"Dr. Sullivan smiled. 'Your anxiety is understandable given the things you've been involved with lately. Having gotten to know you these past few months, I have every faith you will continue to put yourself in jeopardy without giving it a second thought, if it means helping someone who needs you. I suggest you put therapy on hold and invest in a really good self defense course.' She stood, signaling both the end of the session and my foray into self-enlightenment. To tell you the truth, I was relieved."

Brandy's latest foray involves "street girls" who are essentially runaways forced into prostitution. She finds a girl behind a dumpster, saves her life briefly by rushing her to the hospital, but she dies. Brandy has entered a world that makes even her ex-boyfriend cop, "Robert Anthony DiCarlo, Irish-Italian stud," pull his hair out. Then there is mysterious Nick Santiago, who has won Brandy's heart, but assures her repeatedly that he is incapable of returning her love. Somehow, though, he is always there when she needs him.usually before Bobby comes running.

Fredman has struck a pot of gold with this latest installment of the Brandy Alexander series. Homeless teenagers are the focus, and Fredman serves up a terrific story, plus instructing her readers to the runaway problem along the way. A terrific read!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Make That a Table For Seven
Angie and Storm Davis
Author House Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449072735, $11.49,

At the beginning of this delightful children's tale we meet two bears, Ferbie and his sister, Peppie. Sadly they were left in the forest and had no home. They were scared, but Ferbie tried to be brave for his little sister. One day while searching for food, Ferbie saw a Grizzly bear family having a picnic. He decided to take his sister, Peppie to their home and see if they would take care of her. He was very sad to let her go, but something wonderful happened for Ferbie as well, and soon they both belonged to their very own family.

I found this book to be warm and inviting. Although it does show a sad reality, that not all children (or bears) have a mom and dad, it also shows that there are those who will reach out in love and give a home to share to those who have none. I believe reading this story will help to open the heart of a child to this need in the world. The illustrations are colorful and adorable and lend a lot to the tale. All in all a read well worth you time. Very nicely done.

At Witt's End
Beth Solheim
Echelon Press
9055 G Thamesmeade Road, Laurel, MD 20723
9781590806623, $13.99,

I would like to say before I even begin the review that I loved the cover of this book. It was cozy, yet held a smell of mystery that just drew you immediately to begin the read. Good job.

Inside we meet two sisters, Sadie and Witt, both in their sixties they own and manage a resort in Minnesota. I liked the sisters right from the start, they were spunky and fun, down-to-earth and real, well maybe one of them had a slight strange side about her, but that was the entire charm of the story. It seems Sadie has been chosen to be a death coach. What is that you ask? It's someone who helps dead people get to where they are suppose to go. Sound creepy? Well, maybe a little, but it truly spices up this outstanding read and keeps your interest peeked.

The ladies are having some other problems besides Sadie guiding dead people across to eternity, it seems a rather cruel man is trying to take their resort away from them and add to that a tragic accident that takes the life of a family, and turns out to be murder and well, you are on one high-rolling roller coaster ride of a read. Adventure, mystery, and even some giggles are coming your way.

I truly enjoyed this book. I experienced many emotions as I read it, from giggles to anger, sadness, wonder and that soft sigh when all turns out well. The local description is exception, I actually wanted to go there for a vacation, and the author brought each character totally to life. Their personalities screamed from the pages, both good and bad, funny and serious, and by the end of the book you felt as if you knew each one. Great job.

I have to say this is one outstanding read. It has it all, humor, adventure, mystery and many twists and turns that will keep you wondering just how it will all turn out. Beth Solheim has a true winner on her hand with this book. I recommend it highly for those who want a great mystery that is not the norm. Well done, Ms. Solheim.

Partnering with Nature
Catriona MacGregor
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
978158702193, $16.00,

I am always open to any book that helps us to learn how to live in this world in a better state.Inside the pages of this book I found mounds of information on just that, documented and well researched I was amazed at all that was offered. Here are a few subjects:

Plants and how they help us - Healing Through Nature - Earth Song. Our author talks about energy, sounds, light, plants, animals, and people, among many other topics, and how we are all one within this universe and in being so we draw and give to each other. We can use this information to make our lives and the earth a better place, or turn away. Reading all of this was a real eye-opener. Our author gives information that has some roots from the past, some spiritual and some scientific. She also tells of many of her journeys and gives some stories of how different people's lives were changed as they learned to live in harmony with the earth. Again, very interesting reading.

I have to say I found information that I will try to use in my life, but I do not totally agree with everything that is within this book. That in itself is not unusual for a book of this sort, our beliefs often differ in some areas. However, I appreciate the knowledge I did obtain and I applaud our author for her hard work in bringing this information to the forefront. I feel that everyone will find something within the pages of this book that will help them to live a better life, and that in itself is worth the read.

Bailey's Day
Robert Haggerty
Illustrated by Bobbi Switzer
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432745509, $17.96,

In this delightful tale we meet, Bailey, a pointer dog who will share his daily routine with you, the reader. Think it is boring, after all, how much can a dog do while his master is at work? Hold on for a tumble of a ride as Bailey trots from one adventure to another and takes you happily along.

How cute is this book?

I always enjoy any story that shows the true spirit of our animal friends, dogs. And of course, I like you, often wonder just what they do while we are out and about our business. It tickled me to see how Bailey kept himself busy with his good friend, Frankie. A dip at the pool anyone? Or perhaps you'd like to stop with Bailey and Frankie and have a bite to eat at the park, there is always room for a friend.

Great illustrations, wonderful pictures of the dog who this story is really about, and a tale that will warm your heart and leave you feeling good inside. Very nice book. Enjoy!

The Bubble
Brian D. McClure Illustrated by: Buddy Plumtee
Universal Flag Publishing
PO Box 4354, Lisle, IL 60532
9781933426051, $14.95,

I have to say that this is perhaps my most favorite book that I have read so far by author, Brian D. McClure. It begins with a little boy who does not want to share his toys or his life with anyone. It continues showing how greedy the boy stays as he becomes a man and he continues with this greed when he is old and gray. He doesn't want anyone to touch his things or even look at them. No one can stand him and finally even his house, the trees, the insects, birds and yes even the dirt goes away leaving him in a bubble with no one or nothing around him.

At first he doesn't care but after a while he has a change of heart and says the one word that changed him forever.

I loved this book. I loved the story, the illustrations and I absolutely thought the ending was superb. If you have a child, or even know of an adult who is selfish, self-centered, and only cares about their 'things', you need to give them this book. Exceptional and very highly recommended. Definitely a lesson to be learned within this read.

Good Medicine
Carol Roberts, M.D.
Mercurius Press
9780977931620 $17.95

I was very excited to begin this read as I am highly interested in alternative medicine and how the foods we eat effect our body. I was not disappointed. Inside the pages of this book we meet, Dr. Carol Roberts. I was very impressed by this woman, his knowledge on so many subjects and could actually feel through the words she wrote that she truly cares for people and their well-being. Now that is special.

Dr. Roberts touches on so many subjects that it would be impossible to review them all, but a few are topics on the food we eat and how it effects us, how to take and understand vitamins, freeing ourselves from toxins, and to me the most important our spiritual self and how it works with our body. These topics and so many more will fill you with information and keep you turning the pages with interest. Something will truly surprise you.

She writes in such a way that it is easy to understand and take to heart and put into practice in your own life. She gives you options, ideas, stirring your mind and making you think what is best for your body. Of course, as with any book of this nature, no one is going to agree with everything that is written, but you surely will find numerous information that will help you to live a healthier and happier life, and free yourself of many ills. Her information is proven and that is important for all. Dr. Roberts has a vast amount of knowledge that she shares with the reader.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking to improve their life and their health. I believe everyone who reads it will walk away with something that will be beneficial to them or someone they love. Very well done.

The Up Down Day
Brian D. McClure
Illustrated by Buddy Plumlee
Universal Flag Publishing
PO Box 4354, Lisle, IL 60532
9781933426075, $14.95,

The talent of author, Brian D. McClure, shines in his wonderful books as he tells his tale in exceptional rhyme. In this story our little boy wakes up to an upside down world. What should be up is down, what should be down is up. What is happening here and why?

He begins to ask questions and the things in his room answer. Although he is scared he must figure this out and he does. Could there be more to this world than we see with our eyes?
You will be surprised at the solution.

As with Mr. McClure's tales this one holds true to the belief that we are all part of the universe and important one to another. It is a fun story with a lesson and the illustrations definitely bring to life each page. Another winner of a tale that both young and old will enjoy.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Kennedy Brothers
Walter R. Mears & Hal Buell
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
151 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781579128418, $9.95,

The four sons of Joseph Kennedy, a man who made a considerable fortune as a one-time bootlegger and ultimately became the American ambassador to Great Britain at the outbreak of World War II, Joe Jr. (who was groomed for greatness but died in aerial combat against the Japanese), Jack, Bobby, and Ted became and remain iconic figures in 20th Century America. Jack would become a martyred president. Bobby would also die at the hand of an assassination when he ran for the presidency himself. Ted would become one of the most influential members of the U.S. Senate and die in office a respected member of that body by both his allies and his opponents. "The Kennedy Brothers: Joe, Jack, Bobby and Ted A Legacy in Photographs" is a 144-page compendium of captioned photographs showcasing these four men and present to so many of us a visually reinforced nostalgic trip down memory lane. A fitting memoriam to four distinguished sons, "The Kennedy Brothers" is a highly recommended browse and a fitting addition to personal and community library 20th Century American History collections.

Printmakers Today
Jeffrey B. Snyder, editor
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764334627, $50.00,

From the oldest forms of woodcuts and lithographs, to the modern computer age of digital transfers, there are many different and distinctive forms of printmaking including silkscreens, lithographs, screenprints, mezzotint, serigraph print, linocut, vitreograph, photoetching, aquatinit, drypoint, and more. In the hands of a skilled and gifted artist, printmaking can rise to the level of fine art. Expertly compiled and deftly edited by Jeffrey B. Snyder, "Printmakers Today" is a 256-page, profusely and beautifully illustrated compendium showcasing sixty-three contemporary artists whose technical skill and imagination have produced museum quality work. Each individual artist showcased begins with an extended statement by the artist about their approach and then superbly reproduced and representative examples of their work. Of special note is the opening section on Terminology with respect to the processes and categories of printmaking. An impressively informed and informative volume from beginning to end, "Printmakers Today" is an especially recommended acquisition selection for personal, professional, academic, and community library Contemporary Art History reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

The Truth Of The Modern Recession
Alex Feinberg
WE-Economy Press
9780615315294, $19.95,

This latest recession that was triggered by the near collapse of Wall Street banking and money management companies came as a total surprise to most of the families that were to lose their savings (all to often their life savings) in that financial fiasco of global proportions. Amidst the confusion and fear were the usual political posturing, backdoor dealing, and fat cat profiteering. What were the factors that led to this crisis? "The Truth of the Modern Recession: Root Causes and Reliable Solutions" is a 194-page compendium that lays it all out in a superbly organized and presented format that is particularly ideal for the non-specialist general reader with no previous grounding in economic theories. But perhaps even more important is what its author, Alex Fineberg, provides in terms of solutions to prevent such economic disasters in the future. Clear, concise, knowledgeable, insightful, informed and informative, "The Truth of the Modern Recession: Root Causes and Reliable Solutions" truly lives up to the promise of its title and is very strongly recommended reading for the general public, as well as economics students and the makers of economic policy.

Boomer Boys
Paul Buchheit
Privately Published
9781450548922 $12.50

Boomer Boys: Connecting the 1950s to the 21st Century is an extraordinary memoir that views the fifties both from a personal and a historical perspective. At its heart is the story of two boys growing up in a typical 1950s neighborhood; yet Boomer Boys is also a somber reflection on the roots of America's transformation in to a hyper-consumer-driven economy after World War II. "The credit problems we experience today got a head start in the fifties. By 1955 almost a third of auto buyers still owed money on their previous cars. Interest rates hit 18%. Low-income customers paid more in fees. Consumer debt tripled by 1960. It was a world apart from the previous generation, when Americans anticipated economic downturns and quick foreclosures on missed mortgage payments." A vivid and resounding testimony, that brings America's past to life while placing personal experiences in a broader nationwide context, Boomer Boys is highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

8th Grade Super Zero
Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich
Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545096768 $16.99

Ever since a deeply unfortunate incident earlier this year, Reggie's been known as "Pukey" McKnight at his high-intensity Brooklyn middle school. He wants to turn his image around, but he has other things on his mind as well: his father, who's out of a job; his best friends, Ruthie and Joe C.; his former best friend Donovan, who's now become a jerk; and of course, the beautiful Mialonie. The elections for school president are coming up, but with his notorious nickname and "nothing" social status, Reggie wouldn't stand a chance, if he even had the courage to run. Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter, the Olive Branch. Haunted by two of the clients there -- George, a once-proud man now living on the streets, and Charlie, a six-year-old kid who becomes his official "Little Buddy" -- he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school. Pukey for President? It can happen.if he starts believing. For ages 9-12.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Francisco X. Stork
AAL / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545151337 $17.99

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully -- ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be; and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life. Nuanced in its characters and surprising in its plot developments -- both soulful and funny -- Pancho & D.Q. is a "buddy novel" of the highest kind: the story of a friendship that helps two young men become all they can be.

Out of My Mind
Sharon M. Draper
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416971702 $16.99

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school-but no one knows it. Most people -- her teachers and doctors included -- don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows.but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind -- that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice.but not everyone around her is ready to hear it. From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

The Curse of the Campfire Weenies
David Lubar
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781433291715 $33.20, 4 CDs,

For "The Curse of the Campfire Weenies and Other Warned and Creepy Tales," his third collection of warped and creepy "weenie" tales, critically-acclaimed author and master of the childishly macabre David Lubar traveled deep into the shadowy corners of his mind, looking for new ways to amuse and terrify his young readers. A boy discovers the answer to one of the great urban mysteries: why are pigeons always pooping in parks? A second-grade class learns why they should always be nice to their math teacher..An ancient predator uses the internet to search out its prey. A young girl and her little brother escape a campfire weenie only to encounter something even more terrifying: a troupe of Girl Scouts singing campfire songs. It's all creepy, weird and silly, of course, and it's all excellent material to read aloud as it is here by Paul Micahel Garcia in this unabridged audio-book version.

Virginia Hamilton: Speeches, Essays and Conversations
Arnold Adoff & Kacy Cook
Blue Sky Press / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439271936 $29.99

This chronological collection of conversations with and speeches and essays by children's author Virginia Hamilton celebrates her genius while challenging readers to become more aware, alert, and active in out behavior and our thinking. Hamilton (1936-2002) changed children's literature for generations of readers, bringing a Faulknerian style of sophisticated and cutting-edge writing to the world of books for young readers including her first book, "Zeely" and her final novel, "Time Pieces." Fiercely indenendent and unafraid to voice her opinion on any subject, Hamilton quickly became a force and an inspiring leader among educators, librarians, parents, and young readers alike. Hamilton was awarded the Newbery Medal, three Newbery Honors, the National Book Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, and many more. Readers will be enlightened by Hamilton's engaging, powerful, and witty perspective on African American literature as well as her own experiences as a writer and an American. Her strong-selling backlist includes: "Her Stories," "The People Could Fly," "M.C. Higgins the Great" (Newbery Medal). "The Planet of Junior Brown" (Newbery Honor), and "Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush" (Newbery Honor).

The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan
Martin Powell, Aaron Blecha
Capstone Press/Stone Arch Books
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
9781434218971 $22.65(list), $16.99 (school/library)

Stone Arch Books most contemporary series is "Graphic Spin: American Tall Tales" in which famous American folktales are told in a bold, graphic novel format. With art that pops off the page like a cartoon, the series' four books - "John Henry: Hammerin' Hero," "The Legend of Jonny Appleseed," "Pecos Bill, Colossal Cowboy" and "The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan" - have huge appeal for the intended audience of "hi-lo" readers, i.e. emergent readers with an interest level from grades 3 - 8 but a lower than average reading level of grades 1 - 3. The legendary woodsman Paul Bunyan was the biggest man who ever lived. He had wagon wheels for shirt buttons, and his axe took an entire town a whole month to build! One day, Paul finds a big blue ox frozen in the snow. He nurses the behemoth back to health, and names his new companion Babe. The two travel the land, and clear the way for settlers who will soon follow.

Rachel Ward
Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545142991 $17.99

Ever since she was a child, ever since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers. But she has kept it a secret all along because it's so dangerous: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date predicting with brute accuracy the date each person will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and so she takes a chance, hoping that maybe the two of them can find happiness together if only in the brief time that remains before his expiration date. Jem and Spider plan a trip to the city, but while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Jem foresees a chilling chain of events: the city's a target; the clock's running out; the countdown is on to a terrorist attack on London that will also explode Jem's world. Author Rachel Ward has created an undeniably compelling story rife with tense drama, intrigue and a fierce sense of what it means to be alive.

Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life
Catharine Reef
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
9780618987054 $20

With "Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life," biographer Catherine Reef has crafted a compelling biography that is an accessible introduction to the work of one of our most revered -- and sometimes reviled -- American icons. The name Ernest Hemingway conjures up vivid images: grand adventurer, soldier, war correspondent, big-game hunter, bullfight aficionado, and writer. Hemingway is considered one of the greatest writers in modern history, and his novels and stories are read, studied, and imitated around the world. His concise prose style earned him both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize - and a satirical writing contest that drew more laughs than admiration to the distinct Hemingway style. Hemingway also had a temper and a fondness for drinking and carousing that caused his work to suffer. He was a complex man, a hotheaded starter of arguments and a romantic who married four times. More than any other American writer, he truly lived what he wrote, and his personal story makes for a fascinating read thanks to Reef's admirable reflections.

Kristin Harmel
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385734769 $16.99

In "After," the second young adult novel by the author of "When You Wish," Lacey's world shatters when her dad is killed in a car accident. And secretly? She feels like it's her fault. If she hadn't taken her own sweet time getting ready that morning, well, it never would have happened. Her mom wouldn't be a basket case. Her brother Logan wouldn't drink. And her little brother would still have two parents. But life goes on even if you don't want it to. And when Lacey gets the chance to make a difference in the lives of some people at school, she jumps at it. Making lemonade out of lemons is her specialty. Except she didn't count on meeting a guy like Sam. Or that sometimes? Lemonade can be a pretty bitter drink to swallow. "After" is a brave look at the aftermath of a parent's death that will deeply resonate with readers facing personal loss. It was inspired by the true story of Kate's Club, an organization in Atlanta, Georgia for grieving children. Kristen Harmel tells a touching story of love, loss and regret, and how sometimes the best way to move on is to band together.

The Dead-Tossed Waves
Carrie Ryan
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385736848 $17.99

In the new companion young adult novel to "The Forest of Hands and Teeth," Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She's content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry's mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother's past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History
Adam Selzer
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385906135 $12.99

Do you know America? Do you really know America? Would you recognize John Adams in a lineup? Can you identify any presidents between Lincoln and Roosevelt? Hmmm. I thought not. Well, you really need this book. Not only will "The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History" by Adam Selzer improve your sorry historical knowledge, it will crack you up, and give you material to throw parents and teachers off-balance for entire class periods. Identify their lies! Point out their half-truths! And possibly, just possibly, gain some extra credit for yourself. For instance, with the help of this book you'll learn a nifty mnemonic device that will let you memorize all the forgettable presidents, in order. (Spoiler alert: It involves pickles.) For smart aleck's of all ages, especially world-class smart alecks in middle school.

Catherine Fisher
Dial Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
9780803733961 $17.99

"Incarceron" is a thrilling, high-concept fantasy for fans of Garth Nix and Nancy Farmer, from the author of the popular "Oracle Betrayed" series. Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible. And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside -- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know. A riveting young adult fantasy that raises the bar.

The Sky is Everywhere
Jandy Nelson
Dial Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
9780803734951 $17.99

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life -- and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding. This remarkable debut (featuring my favorite book cover of the year thus far) is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

City of Cannibals
Ricki Thompson
Front Street
20 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
9781590786239 $18.95

Of course Dell knows why the place is called the City of Cannibals. But here on the mountain, all she has is her embittered family - a brother who torments her, an auntie who berates her, and a father who's a drunk. And once she arrives in the city - if the cannibals don't eat her first - surely the Brown Boy will help her. Not that she's ever spoken to him, but she has seen him leave sacks of supplies for her family. Dell has waited long enough. She escapes to the city. The City of Cannibals is indeed fraught with dangers and surprises. The Brown Boy, Ronaldo, seems to love the fishmonger's daughter and he's about to become a Benedictine monk. John the Joiner asks Dell whether she's signed the Oath of Allegiance ot the king, and if she will deliver secret letters to the Benedictine monastery. Worrisome messages about sheep and wolves. Dell has good reason not to sign the Oath, So does Ronaldo. But the king's command is clear: every subject must sign or die a traitor's death. If Dell defies the king, can she save herself and Ronaldo?

The Birthday Ball
Lois Lowry, Jules Feiffer
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547238692 $16

Bored, bored, bored. Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored with her royal life and the excitement surrounding her sixteenth birthday ball. Everyone is excited but her, that is, because the ball is where Priscilla is expected to choose her future husband from a group of grotesquely unappealing suitors. But she cleverly figures out how to escape her fate -- for a week at least. Things around the kingdom get pretty interesting when Princess Patricia Priscilla disguises herself as a peasant - the smart new girl, "Pat" -- and starts attending the village school. She may not be spending her days in the comfort of the castle, clothed in silk, but at least life in the village is fun and she soon attracts friends. It also doesn't hurt that the new schoolmaster is young and handsome. Disgusting suitors, loveable peasants, and the clueless King and Queen collide at the ball, where Princess Patricia Pricilla calls the shots. What began as a cure for boredom becomes a chance for Princess Patricia Priscilla to break the rules and marry the man she loves. In this familiar tale of mistaken identity, creamed pigeons and young love, the two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry compares princesses to peasants and finds them exactly the same in all the important ways.

Martha Says It with Flowers
Susan Meddaugh
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547210582 $12.99

"Martha Says it with Flowers" is a charming picture book in the "Martha Speaks" series based on the PBS series by Susan Meddaugh. Martha - a nice doggie -- always seems to do the wrong thing around Grandma Lucille, like saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or treading on her favorite hat. To prove that she really is a considerate dog, Martha decides to find something extra special for Grandma's birthday. But choosing the right gift for a human is a lot harder than it looks, especially when Martha's idea of the perfect present is a wormy apple or slab of bacon! In the end, Martha learns that thoughtfulness and perseverance count for far more than any gift could.

Poisoned Honey
Beatrice Gormley
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375852077 $16.99

"Poisoned Honey"'s story begins with Mariamne, a vulnerable girl who knows little of the ways of the world. Much as she wants to be in control of her own destiny, she soon learns she has no such power. She must do as her father and brother see fit, and when tragedy strikes, Mari must marry a man she does not love and enter a household where she is not welcome, for the good of her family. But she finds a small way to comfort herself when she meets an Egyptian wise-woman who instructs her in the ways of the occult arts. In the spirit world, Mari finds she has power. Here, she really is in control of her fate. But is she? Or is the magic controlling her? This gripping portrait of one of the most misunderstood and controversial Biblical figures is the story of a young girl's path through manipulation and possession, madness and healing, to a man who will change the world forever. "Poisoned Honey" is another fascinating historical fiction novel from Beatrice Gormley, the author of dozens of books, including "Salome," "Miriam," and "Julius Caesar: Young Statesman."

Vintage Veronica
Erica S. Perl
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375859236 $16.99

Veronica Walsh is 15, fashion-minded, fat, and friendless. Her summer job in the Consignment Corner section (Employees Only!) of a vintage clothing store is a dream come true. There Veronica can spend her days separating the one-of-a-kind gem garments from the Dollar-a-Pound duds, without having to deal with people. But when two outrageous yet charismatic salesgirls befriend her and urge her to spy on and follow the mysterious and awkward stock boy Veronica has nicknamed the Nail, Veronica's summer takes a turn for the weird. Suddenly, what began as a prank turns into something else entirely. Which means Veronica may have to come out of hiding and follow something even riskier for the first time: her heart. "Vintage Veronica" is a perfect fit for fashionably offbeat teen readers.

Happy Face
Stephen Emond
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316041003 $16.99

Enter Happyface's journal and get a peek into the life of a shy, artistic boy who decides to reinvent himself as a happy-go-lucky guy after he moves to a new town. Through illustrations and hand-written, first-person text, readers are shown the world through his hilariously self-deprecating eyes as he learns to shed his comic-book-loving, computer-game playing ways. It's difficult not to smile (and grimace) through the protagonist's awkward adventures as he makes new friends, tries to hide from his past, and ultimately learns to face the world with a genuine smile. With a fresh and funny combination of text and fully integrated art, "Happyface" is an original storytelling experience and a natural step-up to more mature reading for fans of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" story style. Fun, funny and uplifting.

Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford
Don Mitchell
National Geographic
c/o Simon & Schuster
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426301568 $18.95

"Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford" is a riveting profile of the man whose invention revolutionized American life: the industrial visionary who changed the automobile from rich man's toy into affordable necessity. Don Mitchell weaves archival images from the Benson Ford Research Center with quotes from Ford's writings, speeches, and interviews to create a lively, comprehensive profile of this intriguing individual. Fiercely independent, and a man of complex contradictions, Henry Ford is revealed above all as a man driven to achieve his dream of building "a motor car for the great multitude," accessible to all. "Driven" includes a time line, resource list, and index, and an introduction by Lee Iacocca, former president of the Ford Motor Company.

If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge
Marc Aronson
National Geographic
c/o Simon & Schuster
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426305993 $18.95

What are the secrets of the ancient stone circle? Were the carefully placed stones a burial site, an ancient calendar, a place of Druid worship...or even a site of sacrifice? World-renowned archaeologist Mike Parker-Pearson has spent the last seven years on a quest to answer these and many other questions. In If Stones Could Speak, award-winning author Marc Aronson joins the research crew and records their efforts to crack Stonehenge's secrets. National Geographic helped sponsor the Riverside archeological team's mission, and now young readers can journey behind the scenes to experience this groundbreaking story first-hand, through the eyes of the experts. Mike and his team have revolutionized our understanding of Stonehenge by exploring the surrounding landscape for clues about the stones -- an idea first suggested by a visitor from Madagascar. The results have been breathtaking: The team recently unearthed the largest Neolithic village ever found in England. Marc Aronson had total access to the site, the team, and their work over two seasons of digging and brings the inspirational story of the discoveries taking place at this World Historical Site to young readers. The informative and drama-driven text includes tales of dead bodies, cremations, feasting, and ancient rituals, as well as insights into the science of uncovering the ancient past. The expert text, stunning photography, and explanatory maps and illustrations will all help young readers see this ancient monument in totally new ways, and inspire future generations of archaeological explorers.

Wendy Mass
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545052429 $16.99

"You can pierce your ears when you're twelve. You can go to the mall with your friends when you're twelve. You can babysit little Timmy next door when you're twelve. You can get a cell phone when you're twelve. Hey, you can even ride in the front passenger-side seat when you're twelve." When you're twelve, when you're twelve, when you're twelve.

Soon-to-be-twelve-year-old Rory Swenson has been waiting to turn twelve her whole life. In exactly 18 hours, 36 minutes, and 52 seconds, it will finally happen: Her life will officially begin. Fun, funny, and full of surprises, "Finally" is a sweet story about wanting to grow up even when the universe seems to be telling you to wait. Middle school readers will relate to every word, and parents will appreciate the gentle handling of tween-appropriate topics for a notoriously difficult age.

Girls' Life Ultimate Guide to Surviving Middle School
Lauren Brown, editor
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545202350 $8.99

"Girls' Life Ultimate Guide to Surviving Middle School" welcomes tween readers to middle school with this nuts and bolts overview to make the transition a smooth one. These few years can be full of surprises, scares and concerns, but with a little knowledge readers will have less to worry about. This friendly, easy to read book has answers to all of the questions every middle school girl wonders about but is often too afraid to ask. From what to expect on the first day to dealing with friendships, teachers, upper classmen, and (more importantly) guy drama, the "Girls' Life Guide to Middle School" will give every reader the goods they need to get through the toughest times and enjoy their best moments.

Green Witch
Alice Hoffman
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545141956 $17.99

In this powerful, lovely sequel to "Green Angel," a teenage girl named Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love, and loss in a post-disaster world. Green lives every day with feelings of loss. Her family is gone, the boy she loves is missing, and the world she once knew has been transformed by tragedy. In order to rediscover the truth about love, hope and magic, she must venture away from her home, collecting the stories of a group of women who have been branded as witches because of their mysterious powers. Only through their stories will Green find her own heart's desire. For the many readers who cherished Alice Hoffman's spellbinding "Green Angel," this novel marks the return of an unforgettable character. For new readers, it presents a beautiful exploration of how we must confront what we fear most, and how we can find love that is everlasting.

X-Treme X-Ray
Nick Veasey
Scholastic Reference
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545218474 $9.99

"X-Treme X-Ray" is a visual thrill for budding tech heads and scientists. Every spread allows young readers to view the world from the inside out by offering bold x-ray images of subjects that don't normally garner such attention: a bus-full of passengers, a roller skater, an MP3 player, a Boeing 777, bats, lobsters & insects. Each page invites readers to step inside the world of x-rays to see behind walls, inside objects, and even through skin. Ever wonder what you would look like if an x-ray image revealed your bone structure? What about a laptop computer or cell phone? A spider or a fish? Each page features an x-ray photo of a person or object in nature, sports, or technology with descriptions and fun facts about the images themselves, along with a brief explanation of how x-rays work.

The Seven Rays
Jessica Bendinger
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416938392 $16.99

"You are more than you think you are." That is the anonymous message that Beth Michaels receives right before she starts seeing things. Not just a slept-through-my-alarm-clock, late-for-homework, haven't-had-my-caffeine-fix kind of seeing things. It all starts with some dots, annoying pink dots that pop on and over her mom and her best friend's face. But then things get out of control and Beth is seeing people's pasts, their fears, their secrets, their desires. The images are coming at Beth in hi-def streaming video and she can't stop it. Everyone thinks she's crazy and she's pretty sure she agrees with them. But crazy doesn't explain the gold envelopes that have started arriving, containing "seeing" keys and mysterious tarot cards. To Beth, it all seems too weird to be true. You are more than you thin you are? What if she is? Unfortunately, this none-too-exciting young adult fantasy from the screenwriter for teen drama flicks "Bring it On" and "Stick It" isn't more than it thinks it is.

Legends of the Shadow World
Jane Johnson
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416990826 $14.99

"Legends of the Shadow World" brings together three epic fantasy novels - "The Secret Country," "The Shadow World" and the U.S. debut of "Dragon's Fire" -- in a single bound paperback edition. The mesmerizing trilogy features the wicked Dodman who will stop at nothing to secure his reigning power over the Secret Country of Eidolon. He has summoned dinosaurs, dragons and other frightful magical creatures to help him win this war he has intentionally created. But there is a prophecy, and the Arnold children are destined to save the Secret Country - and their family -- from falling under Dodman's evil rule. Author Jane Johnson knows this world well. She is the director of HarperCollins UK's fantasy and science fiction list and for many years was the publisher of J. R. R. Tolkien's work. While she has written adult novels as both Gabriel King and Jude Fischer, the Eidolon Chronicles is her first series for children.

Animal Academy
Hakobune Hakusho, Moyamu Fujino
5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2000, Los Angeles, CA 90036
9781427810984 $10.99

The imaginative, coming-of-age manga fantasy series, "Animal Academy," continues with Volume 4. This time, everyone's on edge with Yuichi having left Morimori after the devastating revelation that he isn't actually human. Can you pledge secrecy when you are... a human being? When Fukada Neko finds herself enrolled in the mysterious Morimori Academy -- a secret school for animal-human shape shifters -- she soon realizes she must pretend to be a magical cat and not allow any of the other students to find out her real identity... But as she struggles with the trials and tribulations of a new school and new friends, Neko's just-discovered feline side might bring out the true human spirit in all of her animal classmates. Appropriate for ages 10 and up with (thankfully) no objectionable material beyond some aggressive behavior to flare too-common parental advisories.

Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition: Volume 4
Natsuki Takaya
5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2000, Los Angeles, CA 90036
9781427814098 $14.99

Volumes seven and eight of the world's number one shojo manga, "Fruits Basket" by Natsuki Takaya, is now available in this hardback collector's edition. A family with an ancient curse . . . And the girl who will change their lives forever . . . Tohru and company have been having a lot more fun ever since Kisa came to visit. Now it's time for Tohru to meet another member of the Zodiac--the skillfully sarcastic grade-school student, Hiro! One way or another, this tyke will have to deal with his resentment of Tohru and his affection for Kisa. But where will he find the answers? It's all right here inside this next ultimate volume of the super-popular "Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition: Volume 4."

Karakuri Odette Volumes 1-3
Julieta Suzuki
5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2000, Los Angeles, CA 90036
9781427814074 (Vol. 1)
9781427814081 (Vol. 2)
9781427814098 (Vol. 3)
$10.99 each

What does it mean to be truly human? Odette is a lovely android built by Professor Yoshizawa. Curious to find out what it's like to be human, she convinces the Professor to enroll her in high school. And thus, with a new group of friends in tow, Odette sets out to discover the true meaning of life as a human, where even the simple stuff is an adventure! In "Karakuri Odette Volumbe 3" Yukimura may have confessed his feelings to Odette, but she's still struggling with the concept of "like" and romance. Not to mention she's struggling with the new auxiliary battery pack that she's forced to wear when her old one malfunctions. But Odette still finds time to rescue kitties, hang out with friends, make a few new ones, and maybe even go to Pixy Land on a "double date" with Asao! A touching slice-of-life comedy, "Karakuri Odette Vol. 3" does nothing If not uncover the incredible possibilities of the (not) human spirit.

Songs to Make You Smile
Natsuku Takaya
5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2000, Los Angeles, CA 90036
9781427817976 $10.99

In these touching and unforgettable short stories from Natsuki Takaya -- the creator of the popular manga series "Fruits Basket" for young readers -- young adult men and women search for the things that mean the most to them, from the love of a deceased father to the perfect, uplifting melody. And finally, a side story from "Tsubasa: Those with Wings." Visually, fans can't help but be pleased by Takaya's light, nimble touch. The stories are, by nature, short - but they're too short, leaving readers wanting more drama, more story arc, more character development and less of a rush to the finish line. Plots are wrapped up not just quickly, but somewhat predictably as well. Combined with the final "side story" from an unrelated series, this feels like a bunch of leftovers packaged together.

Reading, Rhyming and 'Rithmetic
Dave Crawley, Liz Callen
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
9781590785652 $17.95

Judy is caught kissing Justin. Vanessa is eating paste. Mrs. Riley, a teacher, turns into a ghol from the dark side of the moon. And Ollie, the classroom mascot, who happens to be a seven-foot-long snake, is chasing Principal Poole. In other words, it's a typical day at school as imagined by Dave Crawley, author of the popular "Cat Poems" and "Dog Poems" books. With lively illustrations by Liz Callen, this comical collection examines everything from taking tests, coming up with ever more original excuses for not doing homework, and the shock of seeing a teacher on a Saturday, buying groceries like an actual human being. Reading, Rhyming and 'Rithmetic's collection of light poems will elicit many smiles and chuckles but isn't likely to demand endless re-readings like the best books in the kids poetry genre.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Whole World Blind
Michael B. Mefford
Privately Published
9781448694372, $9.99

When the human mind doesn't function properly, a psychiatrist should be the best equipped to deal with the situation... shouldn't they? "Whole World Blind" is a riveting novel of Jack Carson, a psychiatrist pitted against a murderous mad man who is driven to turn Carson into someone just like him by destroying his life. "Whole World Blind" is a highly entertaining read and a top pick.

War on Terrorism
Dr. Manzoor Alam
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161836, $18.95,

What goals can the American war on terror truly accomplish? "War on Terrorism: Or American Strategy for Global Dominance" is a view of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars from Dr. Manzoor Alam, as he reflects on the wars from a Muslim perspective, hating that the wars have a War on Islam element, and that if the direction was measured right, the United States could prove to be a powerful force for positive change, but at the same time can be a negative change if detention centers with shady elements are continued to be used. "War on Terrorism" is insightful and highly recommended.

Becoming Buddha
Robert Sachs
Watkins Publishing
Sixth Floor, Castle House,
75-76 Wells Street, Londonn W1T 3QH
9781906787530 $19.95

The Buddha did not need the divine to receive his enlightened state, he only needed himself. "Becoming Buddha: Awakening the Wisdom and Compassion to Change Your World" is a call to the Buddhist teachings to empower one's own personal responsibility to help one find their own path in life, to embrace the noble truths in one's life and use them to find your way through a dark time, to mediate the days events and choose the best course for one's life. "Becoming Buddha" is an insightful, modern, and spiritual read. "Becoming Buddha" is a top choice for spiritual readers.

Holywood Stories
Stephen Schochet
Hollywood Stories Publishing
3767 Clarington Street, Suite 336, Los Angeles, CA 90034
9780963897275, $24.95,

Hollywood has never been known to be boring. "Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies" tells the stories of the Hollywood legends and how they became their legends. To getting that first big break, violence, and pushing the envelope on depravity, "Hollywood Stories" is packed cover to cover with fascinating tales and proves to be quite the treasure trove of knowledge and trivia, highly recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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