Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / MBR Bookwatch

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 11 November 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Labours of Hercules
Agatha Christie
Audio Editions
1572704578 $31.95

Hugh Fraser, narrator of the other Christie mysteries in Audio Editons' Hercule Poirot mystery set, again brings to life another Poirot drama: this one narrating twelve classic short cases in the modern world which will correspond to the twelve labours of Hercules, before Poirot retires. Again, high drama compliments mystery in yet another set of mysteries.

Audio Editions
Auburn, CA 95604

John Mortimer's RUMPLE AND THE PENGE BUNGALOW MURDERS (1572704748, $27.95) enjoys an excellent performance by Bill Wallis, who has worked on more than 200 radio productions and plays, and who brings this latest Rumpole barrister drama to life. Here Rumpole faces the case which introduced him to his wife-to-be 'She Who Must Be Obeyed', when as a young defense lawyer he defends a young man accused of shooting his father. Two more excellent Agatha Christie murder mysteries add to and enhance the Christie routines. PIROT'S EARLY CASES (1572704721, $31.95) enjoys a co-reading by David Suchet and Hugh Fraser as it presents 18 complete Hercule Poirot mysteries. Each short story provides a classic Christie mystery case reflecting the early days of Poirot's crime-solving expertise. Christie's PARTNERS IN CRIME (1572704713, $29.95) receives James Warwick's smooth and dramatic style as it presents a Tommy & Tuppence mystery revolving around the two's involvement in an international detective agency. Amateur private detective Tommy's impersonations of great detectives' methods helps him breeze through cases in this excellent set of mysteries.

The Encyclopedia of Game Machines
Winnie Forster
GamePlan Books
Diessener Str. 30, 86919 Uttig, Germany
3009153594 $TBA

Every game computer and console ever made from the USA, Japan and Europe along with software are featured here, from Sega and Atari to Apple and Nintendo. Here are 500 machines, 600 pictures, background history, technical specs and discussions of variants and successors which go way beyond mere listing of equipment, probing the evolution and advancements of game programmers and the impetus for changes. Consoles, handhelds and home computers from 1972-2005 are featured: any with an interest should consider this reference a standard foundation for an understanding of the industry.

Who Will Comfort Toffle?
Tove Jansson
Sort Of Books
Box 18678, London NW3 2FL, Penguin, Dist.
0953522792 8.99 Brit. pounds

Fans of Jansson's beloved Moomin stories may have missed this picture book and will delight in the little story of Moomin Valley. Sophie Hannah provides the English version of the story of poor Toffle, who has grown quite lonely living alone. A rhyming tale with quite some detail tells of Toffle's journey and discovery of love.

Sort Of Books/Penguin
Box 18678, London NW3 2FL, UK
L6.99 Each

Three wonderful new armchair readers are highly recommended picks. Chris Stewart's DRIVING OVER LEMONS: AN OPTIMIST IN ANDALUCIA (0953522709) presents the author, an 'eternal optimist' who provides a funny running account of misadventures in Spain. From his running of a peasant farm there to his encounters with New Age travelers and ex-pats, farming blends with cultural observation in an enchanting blend of memoir, travelogue and farming encounters. His A PARROT IN THE PEPPER TREE (095352275X) provides a sequel, continuing the story of his farm life as they clash with a misanthropic parrot who immerses himself in their life - and faces a threat to their valley from a proposed dam project. Cultural insights blend with autobiography. Kathleen Jamie's FINDINGS (0954221745) observes Scotland and provides themes of natural history, the outdoors, and travels through the region. It may be hard to neatly categorize her journeys - but they make for a compelling armchair read and bring modern Scotland alive for readers.

The Essential Dalai Lama
Rajiv Mehrotra
Viking Press
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0670034444 $24.95

THE ESSENTIAL DALAI LAMA: HIS IMPORTANT TEACHINGS should be required reading for any who would receive an easier synthesis of his beliefs than wading through his some-fifty books on spirituality. THE ESSENTIAL DALAI LAMA gathers the best of his writings on everything from spirituality and meditation to ideas of self and suffering. From the foundations of Buddhism and karma to modern ethics and social change, this is an excellent one-stop source for understanding some of the Dalai Lama's most basic philosophical and spiritual insights.

Lovesick Blues
Paul Hemphill
Viking Press
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0670034142 $23.95

Hank Williams, famous country singer, died alone, drunk, and suffering in 1953 in the back of his car on New Year's Day: Paul Hemphill journeys through Hank's life and times in a biographical which covers his hard life and the influence it had on his music. This isn't the first biography of the country music singer - but it's the most precise, surveying how elements from his background helped him write songs which proved outstanding. Some of author Hemphill's similar experiences lend a sympathetic insider's view lacking in other coverages, making LOVESICK BLUES an exceptional title which stands out from any other.

Grave Sight
Charlaine Harris
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0425205681 $23.95

Harper specializes in finding dead people: her psychic abilities give her the rare talent of sensing the final location of a person who has died, making her a detective's dream resource. Unfortunately, it also makes her dangerous, and her brother Tolliver serves as her manager and bodyguard. GRAVE SIGHT tells of a small Ozark town with a missing teen and more than its share of secrets to keep. Small town hostility may keep Harper from the truth in this tense thriller, packed with powerful characterization, twists and turns.

Ace Books
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

Another fine vampire fantasy appears to join others in 'The Vampire Files' set by P.N. Elrod's SONG IN THE DARK (0441013236, $24.95): here one private eye-nightwalker Jack Fleming returns to find himself in the middle of a war when his act of vengeance attracts the attention of New York bosses who decide to go up against him. And his very vampire powers are working against him as his own thirst for human blood becomes impossible to control. Swift action and satisfying vampire plots make SONG IN THE DARK another excellent continuation, which may also be appreciated by newcomers to the series. S.M. Stirling's THE PROTECTOR'S WAR (0451460464, $24.95) is set eight years after a Change has made technology inoperable around the world - and survivors are starting to band together to rebuild society. Set in Oregon, THE PROTECTOR'S WAR tells of one former pilot Michael Havel's Bearkiller warriors and their struggle against a medieval scholar who rules the Protectorate - by enslaving civilians. Military high drama at its best set in an end-of-the-world scenario.

Complete Idiot's Guide To Successful Outsourcing
Gene Marks
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
1592573703 $19.95

It's been in all the newspapers that big business is saving money by outsourcing jobs to others outside the company: so how can this affect your business? Learn about the pros and cons of having employees internally vs. externally in THE COMPLTE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL OUTSOURCING, which not only covers pros and cons, but discusses exactly how to develop an outsourcing relationship. From reducing costs with freelancers to managing outsource companies outside of the US, this is a terrific business resource packed with information not found elsewhere.

Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying Foreclosures
Bobbi Dempsey & Todd Beitler
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
1592573959 $18.95

An increasing number of foreclosed properties is offering lucrative bargains to real estate investors - but how can an investor locate, finance, purchase and sell such property? There are risks and riches to be understood which are unique to foreclosures, and COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO BUYING FORECLOSURES is the one title which covers them all - and which promises investors can avoid costly mistakes.

Complete Idiot's Guide to Growing Your Business With Google
Dave Taylor
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
1592573967 $19.95

A strong online image is critical to a successful web site, and so it's important to thoroughly understand how the Google web search engine makes its choices. Enter THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO GROWING YOUR BUSINESS WITH GOOGLE, packed with strategic plans, insights on how Google's search engine works, and how to make money with it. From building a good business site which works well with Google's search qualities to developing solid content and marketing wisely, this is a 'must' for any serious online business.

Island at the End Of the World
Steven Roger Fischer
Reaktion Books Ltd.
79 Farringdon Road, London, EC1M, 3JU, UK
1861892454 $24.95

Easter Island was a South Sea paradise when the first Polynesian settlers landed there around AD 700: here is the first history of the island told by a writer familiar with its peoples and story. As Easter Island is becoming more of a tourist destination, seeing some 20,000 visitors in 2001, its background and attractions are even more relevant today, and ISLAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD: THE TURBULENT HISTORY OF EASTER ISLAND is one of the few to provide travelers with these insights.

The Prefabricated Home
Colin Davies
Reaktion Books
79 Farrington Road, London 3C1M 1JU, England
1861892438 $29.00

Architects need to change their attitudes towards design, turning from an individual client/site-based approach to addressing the needs of market sectors and buildings which need to be adaptable to fit any site. Architects are good at designing prefabricated house prototypes, but fail when it comes to volume production with its very different needs. Author Colin Davies is an architectural professor and here covers the history and practical needs of volume production for prefabricated structures, making THE PREFABRICATED HOME an important reference for any college-level collection strong in contemporary architecture.

Footprint Books
6 Riverside Court, Lower Bristol Road, Bath, BA2 3DZ, UK
$11.95 Each

When Footprint says 'pocket sized', they mean pocket-sized: three 4x6 handbooks easily fit into even a coat pocket and provide maximum 'take along tote' power for destination visitors who don't wish to pack a big guidebook, yet wish for the power a larger guide holes. Frances Kellett's CAPE TOWN (190477721X) covers the best sights and where to sleep, eat and drink on South Africa's Cape. Color photos even pepper the guide - unusual in such a small size - and present clear, attractive Cape Town scenes to compliment in-depth sightseeing and travel tips for the area. Ditto Matthew Gardner and Alison Bigg's VANCOUVER (1903471656) and Katie Anderson's NEW YORK (10-3471931): each provides an easy organization with at-a-glance sections on bars and nightclubs, regional interests, shopping, and sightseeing.

Shire Publications Ltd.
Cromwell House, Church St.
Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire HI27 9AA UK

Collectors and historians interested in cartography will relish Alan G. Hodgkiss's introduction to the history and aspects of early mapmaking DISCOVERING ANTIQUE MAPS (0747803072 $14.00): a survey which delves into map design and decorative treatment as well as early forms of printed maps and surveys and specialized local and marine cartography. While history buffs will be the likely readers, any would-be map collector should also start here. Pat Earnshaw's THE IDENTIFICATION OF LACE (0747802378, L10.99) is a 'must' for any who would identify and list antique lace from around the world. Chapters survey points for identification, major types of lace, construction and more. An excellent, in-depth guide packed with black and white photos follows the history and methodology of lace-making.

DIY: The Rise Of Low-Fi Culture
Amy Spencer
Marion Boyars
24 Lacy Road, London, SW15 1NL
0714531057 $17.95

Since the 1990s hundreds of small press magazines, independent music artists, and media has been produced by individuals in reaction to the failures of mainstream media, resulting in a 'low-fi' culture of homemade and self-produced alternatives. "DIY: The Rise Of Low-Fi Culture" explores these alternative channels, interviewing key writers, promoters, musicians and others involved in radical alternative movements and publishing. From content and ethical questions to DIY distribution challenges, these interviews are key to understanding the alternative industry as a whole.

Yogya Silver
Pienke W.H. Kal
KIT Publishers
Box 95001, Netherlands
9068321838 $25.00

YOGYA SILVER: RENEWAL OF A JAVANESE HANDICRFT is one of the few detailed studies to consider the history and production of this type of silverware, developed in Indonesia centuries ago. The craft went a vast change in the early 20th century, and this catalog reveals the styles and decoration of Yogya in this period, surveying its underlying history and influences and profiling pieces from famous collections. While black and white photos pepper the collection, it's the history and survey of this art which is the meat of an important guide.

Ship Models in Glass
Peter Hille & Barry Young
Brown, Soon & Ferguson Ltd.
4-10 Darnley Street, Glasgow G41 WSD
0851746764 $TBA

Any avid craftsman who has wanted clear directions on how to put ships into bottles can't do without SHIP MODELS IN GLASS: A BOTTLE SHIPWRIGHT'S HANDBOOK: it's packed with clear techniques and hints, was originally printed in German in 1994, and here is updated and translated, including over 300 drawings and illustrations for both newcomers and experienced ship modelers. Here are details on how to put the ship in bottles, globes, light bulbs and more; how to manufacture specialty items for the projects, handling drills, files, glues, and other tools, and handling stands and embellishments. Four projects are also included to reinforce all the advice and lessons. An exceptional reference, SHIP MODELS IN GLASS includes everything needed for a successful model project.

Hesperus Press
Trafalgar Square, Dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053

Continuing the tradition of publishing under-considered literary works by notable classic writers, three more titles are recommended library picks. Novelist Emile Zola's THE DREAM (1843911140, $16.00)) tells of a girl raised in a house of purity who is fascinated by the dream life of saints. Real life has something tougher in mind for her than lifelong innocence, however. Christina Rossetti's COMMONPLACE (1843911191, $13.00) tells of a spinster who is charged with awaiting her lost father's return from sea while her two sisters enjoy romance and a carefree life. Catherine's quest for love in the face of her long-standing family obligation leads her down some unusual roads. Katherine Mansfield's PRELUDE (1843914077, $13.00) tells of a large family, love, and a household which appears idyllic but has dangerous undercurrents behind its façade of peace. Fans of Jane Austen will find all three of these novels similar in focus and literary style.

Human Genome Sourcebook
Tara Acharya & Neeraja Sankaran
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
1573565296 $85.00 1-800-225-5800

Don't look for yet another book about the Human Genome Project, though of course it's mentioned - HUMAN GENOME SOURCEBOOK is much more, discussing what constitutes the human genome, what genes do when they are acting properly and what happens when they're damaged. And even better, it's written with non-specialists in mind: details are inclusive but not so technical the average lay person can't understand, and while it offers extensive in-depth details and chapters in everything from terms and concepts to diseases, its function as an understandable overview isn't lost. A 'must' for any high school or college collection and perfect for public library holdings, as well.

The Computer Industry
Jeffrey R. Yost
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313328447 $49.95 1-800-225-5800

Hard to believe today, but computers were once a military and scientific tool of a select minority of government and scientific elites in the 1940s: now it's a part of everyday life. THE COMPUTER INDUSTRY provides an excellent survey of the computer in American industry, considering the economic, social, political and historical influences on its evolution up to modern times. From punch cards to the first digital computer companies, Yost provides a clear explanation of the changes and the computer's quick evolution for students of technological or social history.

Albert Einstein: A Biography
Alice Calaprice and Trevor Lipscombe
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313330808 $29.95 1-800-225-5800

Many biographies have been written about Einstein; so why the need for yet another? ALBERT EINSTEIN: A BIOGRAPHY focuses on the man as much as his science, considering his human weaknesses, his charm, sense of humor, and life. From his troubled marriages and family life to his rise to international fame and fight for world peace, ALBERT EINSTEIN offers both depth and a lively presentation to make it hard to put down.

Understanding American Business Jargon
W. Davis Folsom
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313334501 $79.95

The second edition of UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN BUSINESS JARGON: A DICTIONARY is the perfect reference for a college-level business school: it surveys the link between business and culture which spills over into business terms and language, it provides an A-Z dictionary of terms and phrases which covers not only definitions but basic concepts, and it uses the terms in context, many with quotes from popular press. An excellent library reference.

Architecture of England, Scotland and Wales
Nigel R. Jones
Greenwood Press
Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313318506 $49.95

Part of the 'Reference Guides to National Architecture' series, ARCHITECTURE OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES is a recommended pick for college-level specialty collections studying British architectural styles from ancient to modern times. Here are 75 entries on palaces, castles, bridges, churches and more: both public and private places which represent some of the classic, familiar features of British design. Appendices list entries by location, architectural style and architect for added research value.

Encyclopedia of Racism In the United States
Pyong Gap Min
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 07881
0313332495 $249.95, 3 Vols,

College-level collections with strong holdings in racism studies and ethnic issues would do well to make the 3-volume reference edited by Pyong Gap Min, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RACISM IN THE UNITED STATES, a mainstay of any collection. Racism has been in the country since inception and American history is filled with accounts: more than 450 essay entries cover not just terms and key people, but organizations, movements, incidents, forums, law and more. Advanced high school holdings will also want to consider including it as a reference: there's plenty of bibliographic material and a solid organization which lends to its being a at-a-glance reference or the source for papers.

'Greenwood Biographies' titles
Greenwood Press
Box 5007. Westport, CT 06881-5007
$29.95 Each

Two outstanding biographies in Greenwood's series are highly recommended picks for any high school to college-level library - and many a public library - holding. Meg Greene's JANE GOODALL (0313331391) tells of a woman always fascinated with animals, who researched chimps under anthropologist Louis Leakey and became a major researcher in the wild. From a timeline of life events to a survey of her conservation contributions, JANE GOODALL is exceptional. Speaking of Leakey, make sure to supplement any Goodall study with Mary Bowman-Kruhm's THE LEAKEYS (0313329850): it tells of the husband/wife team who would turn decades of fieldwork into challenging answers bout some of the mysteries of human origins. The family's achievements as a whole are covered in chapters which survey their contributions and controversies.

Greenwood Press
Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

Greenwood's publications include a wealth of college-level references on literature both modern and traditional, and these are some top picks. Sanford Sternlicht's MASTERPIECES OF MODERN BRITISH AND IRISH DRAMA (0313333238, $45.00) provides an overview of Modernist literature as well as 10 British/Irish dramatic masterpieces which illustrate it. A historical introduction leads to analysis of plots, discussions of major themes in plays, and a greater understanding of the Modernist influence in British and Irish works. For its American counterpart, choose Susan C.W. Abbotson's MASTERPIECES OF 20TH-CENTURY AMERICAN DRAMA (0313332231, $45.00): each chapter is devoted to a particular work, analyzing such classics as Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town', Arthur Miller's 'Crucible', and Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' Each analysis not only summaries the plots, themes and characters, but gives historical background on setting and plot and includes a biography and critical overview. Joan Lord Hall's A WINTER'S TALE: A GUIDE TO THE PLAY (0313328188, $75.00) joins others in the 'Greenwood Guides to Shakespeare' series in narrowing the focus to one of Shakespeare's most unusual plays. The play blended tragedy and comedy and is still much-discussed in both high school and college classrooms: Hall's analysis is a 'must' supplement to the play and lends to classroom discussion of themes, characters and Shakespeare's intentions. Kirstin Olsen's COOKING WITH JANE AUSTEN (0313334633, $55.00) is a notable, different ' Feasting with Fiction' addition which shows how Austen drew upon her domestic experience to color her works. Readers of Austen know food is central to her novels: COOKING WITH JANE AUSTEN packs in not only recipes for the dishes featured in her works, but discusses their background, appearance in her writings, and importance to her times. A compelling, unique coverage. Richard T. Gray, Ruth V. Gorss,'s A FRANZ KAFKA ENCYCLOPEDIA (0313303754, $125.00) is a 'must' reference for any college-level colletion including Kafka studies: over 800 alphabetically arranged entries cover his works, characters, themes, and times. Many of the detailed entries include further bibliographic references, making A FRANZ KAFKA ENCYCLOPEDIA invaluable to in-depth papers. Teachers, parents, and any who would present literature to young adults will want to make FROM HINTON TO HAMLET, 2ND EDITION: BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE AND THE CLASSICS by Susan K. Herz and Donald R. Gallo (0313324522, $39.95) part of their required reading. The second revised, expanded edition provides educators with thematic groupings built upon recent young adult literature which can be used as popular bridges to less-popular classic writings. The goal is to help teens become readers and confident critics of what they read: the pairing of required classics and young adult literature around themes enables educators to make important connections. Victoria Boynton and Jo Malin edit ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WOMEN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY (0313327378, $249.95), a 2-volume reference recommended for college-level collections strong in women's studies. The literary contributions of women across cultures as well as through the ages are revealed in a reference which juxtaposes literary and historical events with women's lives, considering writings from letters and memoirs to life narratives and autobiographical fiction. The result is an excellent, detailed reference packed with almost 200 entries contributed by over 130 experts. Bernard K. Duffy and Richard W. Leeman edit AMERICAN VOICES: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CONTEMPROARY ORATORS (0313327904, $125.00), which follows the critical moments, issues, and writings of modern American speakers through the decades. Each entry covers both speaker and speech, providing historical background, biographical information, and insights on the orator's major speeches and their impact. As a survey of modern American speakers, it's a recommended pick for college-level collections. Melissa Simpson's FLANNERY O'CONNOR: A BIOGRAPHY (03332990, $29.95) deserves a place in any serious college-level O'Connor collection: it provides a survey of her life, her writings, and her influence as a Southern writer. The timeline and bibliography of books, articles and sources will aid vastly in student research, while the chapters surveying her publications and influences will help readers of O'Conner's works understand her approach. Nicole Howard's THE BOOK: THE LIFE STORY OF A TECHNOLOGY (031333028X, $45.00) surveys the fine art of the printed book, providing a review of the history of its development over the centuries and around the world, discussing early books and their differences from later productions, and reviewing all the technical skills needed to produce a book right up to modern times.

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

Any college-level collection strong on European studies will want to have Dieter K. Buse's reference THE REGIONS OF GERMANY: A REFERENCE GUIDE TO THE HISTORY AND CULTURE (031332400X, $59.95) at hand: it provides an overview of the 16 federal states which make up the reunified Germany, offering details on not just geography and history, but recent political, social, and economic changes. In having both the history of each state and the current issues under one cover, any studying modern Germany receive a well-rounded overview complete with maps, photos, and timelines. Also important to any college-level European holding is Meg Lota Brown and Kari Boyd McBride's WOMEN'S ROLES IN THE RENAISSNCE (0313322104, $59.95), joining others in Greenwood's 'Women's Roles Through History' series in offering a rich account of the lives of women and girls of the times. A range of sources provide narrative topical chapters on everything from education and daily life to women in politics, religion, the arts and more, providing period illustrations to round out the offerings. African holdings will welcome a new addition to Greenwood's 'Histories of the Modern Nations' in Roger S. Gocking's THE HISTORY OF GHANA (0313318948, $45.00), a historical review of the country from precolonial to modern times. Few other books on Africa allow such depth and detail for Ghana, making HISTORY OF GHANA an important survey which many will find intriguing. James E. Lindsay's DAILY LIFE IN THE MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC WORLD (0313322708, $49.95) will reach into many a high school holding as it covers Islam's expansion across Europe and the daily lives of those who lived in medieval times under Islamic rule. From major issues in Islamic history from politics to religion to Muslim interactions with other peoples, DAILY LIFE IN THE MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC WORLD is an important history indeed.

Sounding the Trumpet
Richard J. Tofel
Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60622-2694
1566635108 $25.00 1-800-462-6420

Exclusive conversations with Theodore Sorensen, John F. Kennedy's aide and chief speechwriter, contribute substance and insights to SOUNDING THE TRUMPET: THE MAKING OF JOHN F. KENNEDY'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS. Kennedy's inaugural address was applauded as one of the best American political documents of its times: even half a century later it's still noted as exceptional. SOUNDING THE TRUMPET provides many hitherto-unavailable insights into the making of the speech and is essential to understanding one of the most endearing documents in modern American history.

Max Watman
Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted Street, Chicago IL 60622-2694
1566636086 $24.95 1-800-462-6420

If horse racing is your favor, RACE DAY: A SPOT ON THE RAIL is the perfect bet: it takes you to the best American tracks to meet the horses and their most memorable races. A 'you are there' style narrates the attraction and adventure of a variety of racing days, including plenty of quotes from participants for added interest. An easy, compelling read for horse racing fans who wish for something off-season.

Fool's Paradise
Stewart Justman
Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60622-2694
1566636280 $27.50 1-800-462-6420

How did pop psychology evolve, what are its promises and pitfalls, and how did self-help gurus become trade names in American culture through pop psychology's advancement? FOOL'S PARADISE: THE UNREAL WORLD OF POP PSYCHOLOGY considers the evolution and influence of pop psychology in society, examining the rhetoric of self-help, its systems of support, and its illusions. Common principles of pop psychology hold radical implications for changing social norms - as they have in past - and essayist Justman provides a passionate examination of its foundations and dangers.

Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60622-2694

Two important books offer some important historical and social insights. Richard M. Fried's THE MAN EVERYBODY KNEW: BRUCE BARTON AND THE MAKING OF MODERN AMERICA (1566636639, $27.50) tells of the cultural icon of the mid-20th century: an ad man, writer, president's friend and author of the best-selling THE MAN NOBODY KNOWS. Despite his many achievements few know his name today: history professor Fried remedies this omission, telling of his life and times and his influence on modern culture. Marta Petreu's AN INFAMOUS PAST: E.M. CIORAN AND THE RISE OF FACISM IN ROMANIA (1566636078, $30.00) provides a biography of the renowned Romanian-French nihlist philosopher E.N. Cioran, a 20th century thinker seduced by fascism whose relationship with political extremists was to affect his life and work. His problems in Romania and Europe in the 1930s and 40s and his support of Hitler and Lenin uses documentary evidence to trace the evolution of his sentiments. A vivid social and political memoir is created.

The Spooky Smells Of Halloween
Mary Man-Kong
Golden Books
0375832858 $8.99

This 'scratch and sniff' title will appeal to home readers as well as school collections, providing the story of Sammy, excited about his upcoming Halloween party. The pages of 'scratch and sniff' are very vivid and realistic as they accompany the story of party preparations and traditions.

Bridge to Understanding
Chong-Moon Lee Center
Asian Art Museum of SF
Civil Center, San Francisco CA
0939117193 $29.00

"Bridge To Understanding: The Art And Architecture Of San Francisco's Asian Art Museum-chong-moon Lee Center For Asian Art And Culture" pays homage to the Spring 2003 opening of one of the most extensive collections of Asian art in the world, moved into a historic re-designed building. Both building and holdings are showcased in a fine exploration of the museum's history, its new home's renovation and historical significance, and detailed analysis of the rich works of the Asian museum. A 'must' for college-level libraries strong on museum art holdings in general and Asian collections in particular.

Videogames in the Beginning
Ralph H. Baer
Rolenta Press
PO Box 1365, Springfield, NJ 07081
0964384817 $29.99

Before Sony Playstation or Xbox there was the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home videogame console - but six years before even that, in 1966, a TV engineer named Ralph Baer began the industry at a bus stop. VIDEOGAMES IN THE BEGINNING, by the inventor of the genre, presents the story of his invention, the creation and evolution of the industry as a whole, his venture into other electronic toys, and his latest pioneering work in digital imagery. Game players receive an in-depth survey on the making, politics, and marketing of games which is packed with illustrations and history: it's a 'must' for any who would understand the origins of the industry.

Entertainment Power Players
Dackeyia Q. Sterling
Key West Publishing
5042 Wilshire, #343, Los Angeles, CA 90036
0967903610 $39.95

Are you or would you like to work in TV, film or the music industry? Then you simply must have ENTERTAINMENT POWER PLAYERS EDITION 2: an updated directory holding over 5,000 company contacts, ads, and information. Recording institutes, audio workshops, music networks and associations, foundations, alliances, specialty groups, and theater circuits have addresses, phones, and web site information at the ready. There are also film labs, consortiums, and both national and regional distribution companies. Any library strong in film reference, especially college-level collections but also many a public library holding, will find ENTERTAINMENT POWERV PLAYERS 2ND EDITION indispensable.

Tea and Chinese Culture
Ling Wang
Long River Press
San Francisco, CA 94080
1592650252 $19.95

Tea in philosophy, religion and Chinese culture is celebrated in a lovely review of tea's folklore, appearance in Chinese art and culture, and more in TEA AND CHINESE CULTURE. Chapters cover both traditional and modern tea ceremonies and celebrations, review tea's importance in Chinese philosophy and life through the ages, and its deep philosophical influence and roots. Lovely color illustrations throughout provide plenty of visual embellishment, from art works to modern scenarios, and enhances the assessment of tea's cultural and historic influence on Chinese culture.

Globe Pequot Press, Dist.
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437

These excellent guides are fine take-along totes for any who would plan a get-away and have just the right handbook to do it with. Susan Luraschi edits PARIS HOTELS (190197054X, $17.95), joining others in Alastair Sawday's 'Special Places to Stay' series in culling the best from Paris, whether it be traditional or modern settings or places which reflect Paris culture. Small color photos of rooms accompany each listing, which includes at-a-glance details on price, types of rooms, meal costs and other amenities, along with a paragraph of in-depth atmosphere description. A very handy take-along tote which covers the city's best. Catharina Day's IRELAND (1860118658, $19.95) provides a Cadogan guide which lends to walking tours, revising a classic to include updates on the six hundred-plus accommodations, eight hundred-plus restaurant recommendations, maps and color photos. Many have roots in Ireland: an added attraction is a newly expanded section on how to trace Irish ancestors. Jan Friedman's ECCENTRIC CALIFORNIA (1841621269, $19.95) appears in its first edition to cover some of the state's odder attractions. From strange cuisine and odd festivals to a funny toilet seat store and a bed and breakfast filled with authentic wild animals, ECCENTRIC CALIFORNIA is a 'must' for not just visitors, but residents who may not realize how truly odd their state is.

Access Everything: Colorado
Craig Kennedy & Andrea Jehn
Fulcrum Publishing
16100 Table Mountain Parkway, #300, Golden CO 80403
1555915345 $15.95

An extensive collection of outdoor adventures accessible to those with disabilities are presented in ACCESS EVERYTHING: COLORADO, which demonstrates that the disabled can still have adventures ranging from nonskiing activities at Vail to summer camps with kids with disabilities. Packed with many outdoors, accessible ideas for all ages and all disabilities.

Commonwealth Editions
266 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915

Visitors to New England will find these titles excellent travel prep guides, providing background history and vignettes lending to either armchair reading or take-along atmosphere. Jeremy D'Entremont's THE LIGHTHOUSES OF CONNECTICUT (1889833703, $14.95) provides a satisfying collection of lighthouse stories, from a ghost story to background history of lighthouse keeper courage, rescues, and more. Black and white photos and quotes from source material articles accompany lively vignettes of history which are perfect for any Connecticut lighthouse visitor. Martha's Vineyard is a popular tourist destination, and Everett S. Allen's MARTHA'S VINEYARD: AN ELEGY (1933212179, $17.95) is the best place to start for any who would learn about the island's history and past. In recounting his childhood on the island, Allen re-creates a bygone era and provides a lovely background survey of islander experiences. BOSTON'S SOUTH SHORE (1889833770, $27.95) provides lovely color photos by Greg Derr, showcasing the many historical sites which make the area so attractive for visitors and capturing the small-town atmosphere of many small communities along the way. A lovely visual treat for any who would experience Boston's South Shore.

Random House Audio
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Random House provides an excellent set of audios on cd and cassettes for leisure listeners, and some new arrivals are particularly recommended. Cassette listeners will relish Tess Gerritsen's VANISH (073931615X, $25.00), a spicy story narrated by Anne Heche with Flyana Kadushin and telling of a pregnant homicide detective who finds herself in danger during a hostage crisis. Robert Baer's SEE NO EVIL (0739324136, $14.99) is narrated by the author and provides the true story of a ground soldier in the CIA's war on terrorism. Baer tells of his career running agents in the Middle East - and provides insights on how terrorists work. Bret Easton Ellis' LUNAR PARK (0739321781, $39.95) enjoys a reading by James van Der Beek, who lends a swift and rousing voice to this story of a wealthy novelist who finds his life shattered in a few days when he glimpses a fictional character driving a car identical to a family car, and oddities transform his life. Mounting horror is gripping under Van Der Beek's voice in this fine audio story. Tom Robbins' WILD DUCKS FLYING BACKWARD (0739321757, $29.95) receives Oscar-nominee Debra Winger's excellent style and clear voice as it tells provides a mix of Robbins titles, from several short stories and some unpublished poems to a nonfiction assessment of America. Robbins' short writings especially lend to the audio format. Karin slaughter's FAITHLESS (0739322508, $27.50) enjoys Francie Swift's strong and memorable vocal style, telling of a victim buried alive in Georgia then murdered, and a couple who stumble on the body and become obsessed with finding the killer. Wonderful suspense comes alive in audio.

Highbridge Audio
33 S. Sixth St., CC-2205, Minneapolis, MN 55402

If you haven't read Charles C. Mann's 1491 (1565119789, $34.95) because the book form seems too weighty, don't miss the audio edition: abridged on 9 cds and narrated by Peter Johnson, it provides a fascinating nonfiction alternate view of early American roots and history and is even more gripping as an audio listen, allowing listeners to absorb more of the many facts than printed word seems to readily offer. Mitch Cullin's A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND (1565119509, $29.95) receives a fine reading by Simon Jones and tells of a retired Sherlock Holmes, now over 90 years old, who lives in a remote farmhouse where his intellect is failing. Holmes' hidden past and unacknowledged love comes to light in the unlikely age of Hiroshima in this realistic novel of a classic character's failings in old age. Ed McBain's FIDDLERS (1565119894, $26.95) receives an excellent, dramatic narration by Charles Stransky as it provides the latest 87th Precinct detective story revolving around random targets shot by the same man. It's up to the detectives to locate the common denominator between these strangers, before someone is shot again. Two new 'Captain Underhill' mysteries performed by the Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theater are powerful plays with all the full-cast drama of old radio thrillers. CAPTAIN UNDERHILL UNCOILS THE MYSTERY (1565119514, $22.95) tells of a retired police captain and his sidekick who face two adventures: a dangerous whirlpool sucks them in after a kidnapping and threatens their relaxing vacation, and a lethal cobra near a school challenges Captain Underhill's greatest skills. CAPTAIN UNERHILL UNMASKS THE MURDERER (1565119592, $22.95) presents two more thrillers: one in which Captain faces a strange will with deadly side-effects, and one in which the same legacy has placed a strongbox into the wrong hands, leading Underhill literally under a hill to a crypt. Both are outstanding thrillers, very highly recommended for listeners who want all the drama of an old radio show.

Berlitz Spanish audio courses

Two excellent Spanish courses from Berlitz will appeal to students who have time as well as learners in a hurry. For the latter, choose SPANISH GUARANTEED (981-246-622-3, $19.95): it lends to teaching everyday Spanish used in common situations and on 4 audio cds, it lends to quick learning: no reading or writing is required, so you can listen in the car and elsewhere. Each cd has a specific set of lessons: CD 1 covers the basics: numbers, telling time, ordering food; CD2 covers shopping, job and family; CD3 covers directions and days of the week; CD 4 covers shopping for clothes. When you're past the need for an immersion course and want something detailed, choose the 14-cd package in SPANISH ALL-IN-ONE (981-246-676-2, $59.95): here is a boxed set of short lessons packed with practical learning tips and colloquial expressions offering a flexible, in-depth learning routine for busy students. SPANISH ALL-IN-ONE extends the lessons of SPANISH GUARANTEED to offer more depth and detail, more cds, and a foundation of basic vocabulary and phrases enlivened by music.

1005 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastopol, CA 95472

O'Reilly's astonishing volume of expert-authored computer books continues, with some special winners this month. Simon St. Laurent and Michael Fitzgerald's XML POCKET REFERENCE 3RD EDITION (0596100507, $9.95) has been updated to cover Schema - but retains its exceptional portability ('pocket size' in this case truly means pocket-sized for purse or coat pocket; not for briefcase), xs code definitions complete with examples, and quick but clear explanations which cover elements, attributes, usage and more. Ellen Siever,'s LINUX IN A NUTSHELL: A DESKTOP QUICK REFERENCE (0596009305, $44.95) appears in its updated fifth edition covering virtually anything a Linux programmer would need, from basic programming and network commands to quick references for bash, ksh, gawk and more, package management, bootloaders, and command-line utilities. All material has been tested in Fedora, Novell and Debian systems, assuring the contents really work in real-time situations. Damien Stolarz's CAR PC HACKS: TIPS & TOOLS FOR GEEKING YOUR RIDE (0596008716, $24.95) is geared to the personal compuetr used in the car. How? Well, iPods can provide entire music collections on hard drive, video enthusiasts can not provide on-demand systems for passengers (hopefully the driver isn't partaking while on the road), and webcams and MP3 file sharing between cars is now available. Here are tips and tutorials for installing, configuring, and considering all the options of an in-car computer system. Photoshop users should consider Deke McClelland's ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS2 ONE-ON-ONE (0596100965, $39.95) a powerful learning tool second only to in-person instruction: a series of self-paced tutorials allows learners to work at their own speed, more than 2 hours of video instruction on an accompanying DVD presents the authors' key lesson concepts and applications, and there are plenty of tips on adding that extra finishing touch to projects which smack of 'pro style'. Add quizzes and real-world project examples and you have a winner by a trainer with 0 years experience in the program. Jack D. Herrington's PODCASTING HACKS: TIPS & TOOLS FOR BLOGGING OUT LOUD (0596100663, $24.95) explains everything about the medium for newcomers who may have heard the term but know little about the method. Here are all the basics of hardware and software, from choosing a microphone and recording in a car or on the street to reducing noise, adding music, adding music and sound effects to shows for a blog, or making a home studio. Coverge reaches from the single person podcast up to a full radio drama style, and includes podcasts by email, interviewing, and more.

Photoshop CS2 Killer Tips
Scott Kelby & Felix Nelson
New Riders
1249 - 8th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
0321330633 $29.99

There are plenty of CS2 titles on the market now, but PHOTOSHOP CS2 KILLER TIPS: THE HOTETST COLLECTION OF COOL TIPS ANDH IDDEN SECRETS OF ADOBE PHOTOSHOP comes with a difference: it holds noting but tips, it's written by industry insiders with professionals with acknowledged status using Photoshop efficiently and quickly, and it comes packed with color screen examples on every page. Bright color. Clear screens. And clear, killer tips on streamlining and making the most of the program.

Peachpit/Adobe/New Riders
1249 - 8th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

Peachpit's computer guides are solid presentations geared to both novice and advanced users, covering a range of programs and applications both general and specific. Steve Krug's DON'T MAKE ME THINK: A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO WEB USABILITY (0321344758, $35.00), for example, appears in an updated edition to add three new chapters to its common-sense approach to using the web. Who, after all, uses a web site? Bosses, clients, and marketing managers often don't consider this idea enough, constructing web sites which work at a disadvantage: DON'T MAKE ME THINK takes the consumer/user's point of view, with chapters using real-world examples from to browsing and search engine work to show why things work and why they don't. Bart G. Farkas' SECRETS OF PODCASTING: AUDIO BLOGGING FOR THE MASSES (0321369297, $19.99) tells how to download and enjoy podcasts with MP3 players, and includes plenty of basic advice on audio editing, recording, and distributing a podcast. Both beginners and advanced users receive tutorials on everything from selecting equipment to creating a podcast which flows and works well. Photoshop CS2 users will want to keep Save Cross' THE PHOTOSHOP CS2 HELP DESK BOOK (0321337042, $34.99) close at hand: it's the closest thing to a personal help desk, incorporates tried, tested plans from senior developer Dave Cross, and tells how to understand warning dialogv boxes, how to create flexible documents using layers and masks, and how to customize the program and its various settings. Plenty of color photo screen shot examples pack virtually every page, while common glitches and problems are the focus of practical chapters. Ben Willmore's ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS2 STUDIO TECHNIQUES (0321321898, $50.00) offer a guide to mastering the basics of CS2, and is a recommended pick for both beginners and those who have some background with previous Photoshop versions. Learn more than just what the tools are and how to use them: learn 'why' beyond the program's features, covering the basics of which image-editing eatures work best and why they should be chosen over others. A companion cd offers supplements and practice images to the tutorials. Bart G. Farkas' SECRETS OF PODCASTING:AUDIO BLOGGING FOR THE MASSES (0321369297,$19.99) tells how to download podcasts with an MP3 player, how to create script and use digital recording devices, how to legally play music on a podcast, and more. Tutorials show how to use podcasts on both Windows and Macs, how to distribute a podcast even if you're not a programmer or computer whiz, and how to use software to create exceptional productions. An outstanding guide. Adobe CS2 users won't want to miss Sharon Steuer's ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR CS2 WOW! BOOK: TIPS, TRICKS AND TECHNIQUES FROM 100 TOP ILLUSTRATOR ARTISTS (0321320468, $49.99): it has been fully revised to include the latest tips and tricks from over a hundred top illustrator artists. Here are lessons paired with galleries, chaptesr for working with special effects as well as the basic masking system and fills, tips on new blending and mesh, Live Paint and Zen, tips on colorizing, and more. An outstanding guide for any who would use Adobe Illustrator CS2. The second edition of Robin Williams and John Tollett's THE NON-DESIGNER'S WEB BOOK: AN EASY GUIDE TO CREATING, DESIGNING, AND POSTING YOUR OWN WEB SITE (0201710382, $34.99) covers all the basics, right down to how to use the web and search for information. Once these basics are covered chapters delve into theories of web design and its difference from print, basic design principles, how and when to use graphics and images, and more. Discussions are supplemented by clear web page examples and contrasts in full color to show exactly what differentiates a superior website, and why.

Host Integrity Monitoring Using Osiris and Samhain
Brain Wotring & Bruce Potter
800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
1597490180 $44.95

Any involved in computer security know that preventing attacks and preserving host integrity is an important aspect of system management: but how does one monitor incidences and assess integrity? HOST INTEGRITY MONITORING USING OSIRIS AND SAMHAIN comes from an Osiris creator and Shmoo group member and tells how to identify successful attacks and remedy the problems they cause. Administrators learn how to reduce false positives, monitor the whole networked environment, and program ion defenses to mitigate attacks using a system which is packed with technical examples, code, and solutions which address the big picture.

Other People's Treasures
Anthony Ravenscroft
Fenris Brothers
PO Box 8756, Santa Fe NM 87504-8756
189019541 $16.95

Almost anyone can 'open' a bookstore online participating in's Marketplace - but what does it take to REALLY become a successful merchant? OTHER PEOPLE'S TREASIRES: SELLING BOOKS & CDS ON AMAZON.COM is one of the few primers to focus on this area, going beyond 'how to list' and 'how to price' to address such issues as how to provide superior customer service, set higher prices and offer better books, mail cheaply yet quick, and understand the discounts and sales statistisc. It's here where OTHER PEOPLE'S TREASURES really shines: Ravenscroft takes a realistic approach in calculating where profit happens and how it might not happen, pointing out how sellers can assess each book for maximum profits and discard those which are a waste to list, such as big, heavy books with small mark-ups. An essential 'bible' for any new seller who wants to readily understand the Amazon way of doing business.

Cisco Press
800 E. 96th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240

Four important computer guides are recommended picks for technical and college-level library collections, providing many solid reference details. Catherine Paquet and Warren Saxe's BUSINESS CASE FOR NETWORK SECURITY: ADVOCACY, GOVERNANCE, AND ROI (1587201216, $39.95) tells of how to understand both the costs and return on investment for network security solutions. Networking professionals and businessmen alike receive a coverage which covers the latest facts on network security and attacks - and in a language the general business reader can readily understand. From capital expenditures and variable costs such as maintenance to calculating security policies and their pros and cons, THE BUSINESS CASE FOR NETWORK SECURITY is an essential guide. David Hucaby's CISCO ASA AND PIX FIREWALL HANDBOOK (1587051583, $60.00) provides a thorough coverage for the msot common features of the popular Cisco firewall security solutions. It's the first to probe the Cisco ASA and PIX version 7 security appliances, and is directed to programmers and network engineers who will quickly come to understand firewall managers, load balancing, verification systems and more. For a lighter, quicker focus, choose Greg Abelar's SECURING YOUR BUSINESS WITH CISCO ASA AND PIX FIREWALLS (1587052148, $40.00): it provides an easily-used reference which simplifies configuration and management processes, providing a focus on how to use Cisco's ASDM, which provides monitoring and automated security management. Firewalls are essential for any business - and SECURING YOUR BUSINESS WITH CISCO ASA AND PIX FIREWALLS is essential. Krishna Sankar,'s CISCO WIRELESS LAN SECURITY: EXPERT GUIDANCE FOR SECURING YOUR 802.11 NETWORKS (1587051540, $55.00) provides solid practices for using wireless LAN technology in a security environment, offering a set of LAN standards which can protect an entire network. From exploring the basics of wireless security issues to designing and implementing WLAN security systems, this is the Cisco item of choice for any serious dministrator or engineer.

1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501

Three outstanding new computer guides are highly recommended picks. George Omura's JUST ENOUGH AUTOCAD 2006 (0782143970, $24.99) comes from an award-winning Autocad author who has developed a basic reference for students to learn AutoCAD techniques easily. Both newcomers to the program and those with some background seeking a quick reference will find JUST ENOUGH AUTOCAD 2006 a fine guide to creating, editing, and modeling with AutoCAD's many features. Add or edit notes and dimensions, extract hidden data, create and assign layers and much more. EBay sellers who bemoan the often-fuzzy photos many sellers maintain will look for improvement after reading Dan Gookin and Robert Birnbach's EBAY PHOTOS THAT SELL: TAKING GREAT PRODUCT SHOTS FOR EBAY AND BEYOND (0782143811, $29.99). A good photo can mean the difference between a winning bid and no bids - and EBAY PHOTOS THAT SELL teaches the basic ebay salesperson how to create professional-quality product photos with little more than a basic digital camera and a few tricks. From basic rules of taking photos to editing properly, sizing them for the Web, and adding watermarks, this is the standard 'bible' for any ebay seller. Tim Grey's PHOTOSHOP CS2 WORKFLOW: THE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER'S GUIDE (0782143962, $39.99) tells photographers how to establish a simple workflow to enhance imagination and productivity. Here are streamlining tips for adjusting and editing images, altering techniques, and more, geared to all levels of digital photographers who wish to repair, tone, and enhance a digital photo. Clear instructions and exceptional graphics make for a winning guide which focuses on technique as much as technicalities.

Charles River Media
10 Downer Avenue, Hingham, MA 02043

Three excellent learning guides are recommended picks for advanced computer users. Duane J. Jarc's LEARNING JAVA THROUGH APPLICATIONS: A GRAPHICAL APPROACH (1684503769, $59.95) emphasizes Java's graphic capabilities and the user interfaces which come with them. Complete Java programs are presented in order of increasing complexity, from geometric programs to puzzles and games, to teach students basic Java programming language and applications. The latest features of Java 5.0 are surveyed for each project, with chapters using capstone programs involving graphics to introduce features. An excellent programmer's reference. Roger T. Stevens' CREATING FRACTALS (1584504234, $49.95) includes a fractal-generating program on the accompanying cd-rom as it provides a description of the math and characteristics of fractals and demonstrates how to produce them. The program runs on Windows systems and helps readers understand how fractals are created. An excellent introduction to the fractal concept and its applications, including math basics. Christian Gross' OPEN SOURCE FOR WINDOWS ADMINISTRATORS (1584503475, $49.95) is written with MS Windows administrators in mind and introduces them to Open Source applications which can save time and money. Open Source applications can be as basic as email or web content programs, or as complex as spreadsheets and anti-spam routines: administrators can use any of these to streamline business operations and perform more efficiently, and discussions of the options include documentation quality assessments, installation and use, and common problem solving techniques. The Open Source materials are meant to compliment Windows programs.

Hip Hop Matters
S. Craig Watkins
Beacon Press
25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2892
0807009822 $24.95

This is no casual coverage, but a semi-scholarly history of how hip hop evolved and changed its inventors, artists, producers and even influenced politics and social mores over the decades. Hip hop began in the late 1970s and has seen a explosive rise in popularity since, affecting not just the music industry but the ad industry, education system, and black culture as a whole. From its extremes to the battles fought over hip hop music across the board, HIP HOP MATTERS: POLITICS, POP CULTURE, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF A MOVEMENT is essential for any who would understand the music and its influences.

I Got the Show Right Here
Cy Feuer with Ken Gross
Applause Books
19 West 21st Street, New York NY 10010
1557836582 $16.95

The producer of Guys & Dolls and other Broadway hits here tells his story of how his post-war association with Ernie Martin lead him to become a legendary Broadway musical producer with a series of smash hit productions. Feur signed 17-year-old Julie Andrews for her Broadway debut, his first five musicals were hits, and he moved quickly from obscurity to fame. I GOT THE SHOW RIGHT HERE: THE AMAZING, TRUE STORY OF HOW AN OBSCURE BROOKLYN HORN PLAYER BECAME THE LAST GREAT BROADWAY SHOWMAN is a hit, too.

Singing a New Tune
John Kenneth Muir
Applause Books
19 West.21st Street, New York NY 10010
1557836108 $24.95

College-level students of the film musical will want to make SIGNING A NEW TUNE: THE REBIRTH OF THE MODERN FILM MUSICAL FROM EVITA TO DE-LOVELY AND BEYOND essential to understanding the new film musical. Critics around the world have claimed the movie music is a dead art form - but though it no longer commands the center of media attention, it's by no means dead, as film expert John Kenneth Muir presents in his story of the film musical from the early 1990s to modern times. Over a dozen musical films from the last decade are analyzed to explain how artists have interpreted and imbibed such musicals with new life, using psychology, sexuality, and more to revive the art form. Interviews with notable directors and screenwriters round out the analysis, providing a through, critical review of the state of the modern film musical - and it's likely fate and changes over the next decades.

Talkin' to Myself
Michael Taft
270 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10016
0415973783 $24.95

Avid fans of blues music who want more depth than just another review of major artists or songs will find TALKIN' TO MYSELF: BLUES LYRICS, 1921-1942 an important study; especially for college-level papers. Blues lyrics are a unique form of Afro-American poetry, a means of communication of feelings, and hold many insights. TALKIN' TO MYSELF includes over 2000 songs transcribed directly from the original recordings organized in an A-Z arrangement by author names. And if it sounds familiar, it's because this is a revised edition of the classic BLUES LYRIC POETRY: AN ANTHOLOGY and provides an excellent gathering and analysis of work by over three hundred singers. Particularly useful when listening to the actual recordings, which might otherwise prove difficult to truly understand.

Billboard Books/Watson-Guptill
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003

For a solid history of black music's influence on white culture, look no further than Kevin Phinney's SOULED AMERICAN: HOW BLACK MUSIC TRANSFORMED WHITE CULTURE (0823084043, $29.95): it narrows the focus to whites have have been fascinated with the performances and styles of Afro-Americans over the centuries, and provides chapters of social history and music culture which argues that no form of American music is ethnically pure, but represents variations and changes on the musical competition between blacks and whites in this country. From early plantation hollers to rap music and jazz, Phinney covers the co-evolution of a range of black music styles - and each style's influence on white American style. A fascinating, scholarly coverage. Michael Leonard edits THE BILLBOARD ILLUSTRATED COMPLETE GUITAR HANDBOOK: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MAKING MUSIC ON THE GUITAR (0823082636, $24.95): a guide for beginners and advanced musicians who wish to learn about the guitar, from basic playing styles to how to improve one's technique. An expert tutor covers fundamentals, discusses acoustic and electric guitars and their various options, considers musical guitar styles from around the world, and adds maintenance and repair tips along with his technical insights on the instrument. In short, virtually anything needed to produce music on the guitar is packed into a handbook rich in visuals, from photos of players to illustrations of chords. Very highly recommended. Howard Mandel edits BILLBOARD ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JAZZ & BLUES: INTERNET LINKS TO SONGS & ARTISTS. There have been many changes to the music in the 20th and 21st centuries, and BILLBOARD ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA traces these changes, offering detailed biographies of the major artists, a decade organizational structure to help readers keep track of influences and changes, surveys of musical styles and sub-genres, and discussing key tracks and recordings of each. Hundreds of photos compliment an extensive in-depth survey written by a team of experts: it may look lie a thick coffee table addition, but there's much more between its covers than photographic fluff.

The Savvy Studio Owner
John Shirley & Dr. Richard Strasser
Backbeat Books
600 Harrison, San Francisco CA 94107
0879308400 $19.95

Want to run a professional sound-recording studio? You shouldn't begin without THE ASVVY STUDIO OWNER: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO SETTING UP AND RUNNING YOUR OWN RECORDING STUDIO in hand. Virtually everything you need to know about the venture is here, from small studios producing one-off projects to larger studios for larger ventures. Financing, hardware - even government regulations and marketing are packed into a guide covering both large-picture concerns and smaller technical concerns such as audio interfacing, ventilation and copyright registration.

In the Right Direction, 3rd Edition.
Samuel D. Gilleylen
Future Mix Publications
PO Box 181356, Memphis, TN 38181
0972304207 $24.99

If you want to begin a record label to release your own cd or a selection of hand-picked special works, then IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION is for you. It's been a best-seller on the internet for over three years, and provides beginners with everything they need to know to promote and develop an indie music effort. From determining whether one's sound has commercial potential to understanding how bar codes, pressing plants, distribution, and royalties work, pages of step-by-step instruction presume no prior knowledge of the recording industry and thus prove especially accessible to beginners. Industry trends, differences between past and present approaches to production and marketing, and more keep IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION contemporary and packed with the latest insights.

The Monkees
Andrew Sandoval
Thunder Bay Press
5880 Oberlin Drive, San Diego, CA 92121
1592233724 $19.95

It's hard to believe it's the 40th anniversary of the pop group The Monkees - but THE MONKEES: THE DAY-BY-DAY STORY OF THE 60S TV POP SENSATION says it's so, and expert Andrew Sandoval knows everything there is to know about the group and its individual members. From recording sessions and concerts to their films and encounters with musicians of their times, add a host of black and white photos packed throughout and interviews with each group member and you have an exciting re-creation of the Monkees' cult attraction and appeal which will make for a fine memory book for any fan.

Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East 1st Street, #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Three excellent, very different mysteries are powerful picks. James Sallis' DRIVE (1590581814, $19.95) tells of one Driver, an odd fellow with two very different jobs: stunt driving for movies by day, driving for criminals at night. A double-cross brings him into the world of murder and attempted murder. Frederick Ramsay's SECRETS (1590581881, $24.95) tells of a murder at a church, a bishop's exile, a gossiping secretary's murder, and one Blake Fisher, who becomes a suspect. Two murders and the FBI in town will wreck the lives of not just the suspect, but the town sheriff in this fast-paced mystery. Libby Fischer Hellmann's A SHOT TO DIE FOR (1590581857, $24.95) provides the fourth title in the Ellie Foreman mystery series: while newcomers may dive right in, familiarity with the prior mysteries will make this one even more satisfying. Ellie befriends a woman who has been abandoned at a highway rest stop; but when her newfound friend is shot dead shortly thereafter, Ellie reluctantly decides to return to sleuthing to find out what happens. When a second shooting happens, she's drawn into a prominent family's dangerous secret. Swift intrigue and quick action mark a dramatic series of events.

The Humanure Handbook
Joseph Jenkins
Chelsea Green, Dist.
PO Box 607, Grove City PA 16127
9780964425835 $25.00

Despite all the books on manure and how to use it, human manure composting is not covered elsewhere, making THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK: A GUIDE TO COMPOSTING HUMAN MANURE a fine reference for any who would learn these basics. Now in its 3rd edition, THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK covers all the basics of human waste management, from septic systems to commercial composting toilets, sewers, and more. A history of various composting methods, science, and problems is accompanied by a healthy dose of humor plus a solid foundation of science into pathogens, pros and cons of competing systems, and more. If you're an avid composter, there's nothing like this on the market.

Edible Forest Gardens, Volume 1: Vision & Theory
Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeier
Chelsea Green
PO Box 428, White River Junction, VT 05001
1931498792 $75.00

Don't expect the usual light gardening guide reading, Volume 1 of EDIBLE FOREST GARDENS: ECOLOGICAL VISION AND THEORY FOR TEMPERATE CLIMATE PERMACULTURE packs in serious surveys of the ancient practice of forest gardening, which offers homeowners and gardeners a new way of viewing modern home landscaping and nature. Useful plants can be blended to supply daily needs, the land can be 'untamed' to return support to healthy populations of plant and animal species. Years of experience goes into EDIBLE FOREST GARDENS; this first volume provides a review of the ecological and cultural foundations for recognizing forest gardening as a viable ecological alternative in modern North America. Dave Jacke runs his own ecological design firm consulting on permaculture and landscapes around the world; his co-author Eric Toensmeier founded the former Perennial Vegetable Seed Company and has worked with the New England Small Farm Institute. A highly recommended pick; especially for college-level and serious collections on permaculture and horticulture.

Stretching in the Office
Bob Anderson
Shelter Publications
PO Box 279, Bolinas, CA 94924
0936070293 $11.95

Bob Anderson is a stretching authority: his book combines 20 stretching routines with hundreds of combinations and best of all - it can be done all day long in the office, whether seated, at the copy machine, on the phone and more. There are more general stretching books on the market: but how many of them link stretches to everyday office routines - and include a cd of software to remind you to stretch? Black and white step-by-step illustrations accompany written directions.

Septic System Owner's Manual
Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, Julie Jones
Shelter Publications
PO Box 279, Bolinas, CA 94924
0936072020X $17.95

Other books have been written about septic systems for rural homeowners; but few offer the clarify and line drawings of THE SEPTIC SYSTEM OWNER'S MANUAL, with Peter Aschwanden's cartoons and illustrations lending to the effort. From understanding various degrees of septic system failure to greywater recycling, composting toilets, and alternative septic and drainage arrangements, THE SEPTIC SYSTEM OWNER'S MANUAL is the only guide any rural owner needs.

Green Profit on Retailing
Rick Blanchette & Jayne VanderVelde
Ball Publishing
335 North River Street, Batavia, IL 60510
188305222X $32.95

Any handling plants, whether it be a garden center, a florist or a supermarket, need to know the display, marketing, and management information presented in GREEN PROFIT ON RETAILING: it's presented by editors who gather industry trends and information from around the world, it charts plant popularity, care, and tips, and it presents selected informational articles from Green Profit Magazine which covers both retail and mail order worlds alike. From staying a step ahead of the competition to handling different kinds of plants, GREEN PROFIT ON RETAILING is packed with practical, tested advice unique to the plant industry.

Anyone Can Landscape!
Joel M. Lerner
Ball Publishing
335 North River Street, Batavia, IL 60510
1883052270 $34.95

Columnist Joel Lerner may work for the Washington Post, but he also has over forty years of landscape experience, and here tells how to do it yourself; from the initial budgeting and drafting project plans to locating appropriate plants, designing for disabled access or security, incorporating a design into a deck or patio, and more. Far more detail is shared in the process than you will find in your usual landscape guide for consumers: chapters pack in hundreds of tips, narrow the focus whenever needed - such as treating entryways separately from walls and pathways - and pack in charts, color illustrations, and diagrams. Even wildflower meadows and theme landscapes are included. If only one landscape guide can be purchased, it should be this weighty 'bible': nothing is omitted!

The Home Energy Diet
Paul Scheckel
New Society Publishers
Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC VOR 1XO, Canada
0865715300 $18.95

With rising energy costs, homeowners are beginning to consider home energy efficiency: but how can a home best be assessed for efficiency? It's easier to choose new appliances than to retrofit an older home - and HOME ENERGY DIET: HOW TO SAVE MONEY BY MAKING YOUR HOUSE ENERGY SMART tells how to make these assessments. From full appliances to electricity usage, healing and air systems, and more, consumers learn how to assess their home for efficiency.

Building Your Home
Carol Smith
1201 - 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-2800
0867186046 $24.95

Carol Smith has over 30 years experience working with builders and their customers and knows all about the building process, making BUILDING YOUR HOME: AN INSIDER'S GUIDE, 2ND EDITION one of the best references available to any who plan on working with a builder. Smith wants potential home buyers to understand the entire, complicated process of building a home: from understanding home owner association requirements and construction sequences to design, inspections, and important paperwork, all aspects are thoroughly covered.

How Hard Can It Be?
Mag Ruffman
Beyond Words
20827 NW Cornell Road, #500, Hillsboro, OR 97124-9808
1582701350 $16.95

Can a woman repair a home? Yes, especially if she has Ruffman's HOW HARD CAN IT BE? ANY WOMAN CAN DO ANYTHING WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS in hand. Sound familiar? Ruffman is television's 'home improvement lady', and uses humor and facts to allow female listeners access to the world of home repairs. How does the color of a TV show translate to book format? The use of step-by-step photos throughout makes tasks easy, from outdoor maintenance and systems upgrades to projects ranging from picture-hanging to installing lattice.

Reunion Solutions Press
PO Box 999, Niwot, CO 80544

Three excellent books by Dina C. Carson and Risa J. Johnson provide reunion planners and partiers with plenty of planning detail. Any who regularly entertain, whether it be for parties or fundraisers, anniversaries or get-togethers, will find CELEBRATION SOLUTIONS (0972497560, $26.95) an excellent guide: it advocates theme party plans with many ideas for different types of functions, from work-related corporate parties to luncheons, graduations, proms and more, and it covers everything from ambiance and colors to suggestions for invitations, decorations, menus and entertainment - right down to souvenirs and party favors. Each celebration also receives fund raising tips in addition to all the other details, lest the occasion be geared to raising funds for charities or other. The weighty REUNION SOLUTIONS (0972497595, $26.95) tells how to do more than organize a simple reunion: it covers all the basics from setting up a committee and choosing location to managing crowds, money, coming up with fresh new themes, and more. All details down to memory books and souvenirs - including publicizing the event - are covered in a guide which also uses the Internet to advantage, from making a web site to posting memories. If you think all the details are easy, think again: there's over 500 pages to the main book - and a sequel, REUNION SOLUTIONS PLANNER (0972497587, $24.95), which compiles all instructions into a series of checklists, task planners, and ledger-type record-keeping which make it easy to organize. Contracts are even a part of the event planning stage. The whole package is unbeatable and highly recommended for any who regularly plan events and wish to be more organized.

Turn Off Your Mind
Gary Lachman
163 - 3rd Avenue, #108, New York NY 10003
0971394237 $19.95

How did the 1960s world of peace, love and spirituality end in violence? How did the rise of occulists affect the downfall of the peace movement? TURN OFF YOUR MIND; THE MYSTIC SIXTIES AND THE DARK SIDE OF THE AGE OF AQUARIUS tells of the revival of the occult during the 1960s, how it caught and changed the hippie movement, and how it injected a dark side into the era which created some of the occult influences reaching into today: horror films, dark fantasy writings, witchcraft, UFO beliefs and more. From the atmosphere of splendor to drugs, excesses, and both heroic quests and dark failures, TURN OFF YOUR MIND is packed with history and examples which follows the dark undercurrents and influences of the times. An important set of insights which links key players of the era to their spiritual and mystic influences.

Testament: The Bible Odyssey
Philip Law, Ed.
15 E. 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
0826477348 $19.95

Many folks want to read the Bible, but few actually read more than a few chapters: TESTAMENT: THE BIBLE ODYSSEY provides the epic sentiments and verse of the Bible without the parts that make it cumbersome to understand. It reads like fiction with high drama and fair, but without the Bible's ponderous language - and it preserves both story line and basic teachings, making it easier for followers to understand. A fine adjunct to Bible studies.

The Dragon Slayer With a Heavy Heart
Marcia Powers
Wilshire Book Company
12015 Sherman Road, N. Hollywood, CA 91605-3781
0879804505 $12.00

Find happiness and serenity even under the most adversarial of conditions in a self-help guide which advocates the Serenity Prayer and teaches how to apply it to daily living. The story of Duke the Dragon Slayer, who has a heavy heart with troubles and becomes desperate to lighten it, serves as the example for readers who would learn from the answers he finds. The dragon story holds plenty of insights about how to find happiness in everyday living.

New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949

Three very different, recommended guides are new from this publisher. J. Krishnamurti's LIFE AHEAD: ON LEARNING AND THE SEARCH FOR MEANING (1577315170, $13.95) comes from a master philosopher and religious figure and tells how to apply a philosophy of learning from Indian tradition to daily living in the Western world. From understanding feelings of contempt and superiority to the quality of real affection and the evolution of ambition and understanding, quiet peace and gentle understanding are fostered. Marta Williams' BEYOND WORDS: TALKING WITH ANIMALS AND NATURE (1577314921, $14.95) also advocates peace and understanding, though it comes from a very different source: an animal communicator who specializes in teaching others how to better understand and talk with animals. Stories of human connections with animals and nature supply the foundation for understanding and the basics of interspecies communication. Tony Stromberg's photos are the center and highlight of SPIRIT HORSES (1577314999, $40.00), a stunning blend of photographic strength and spirituality which captures the horse throughout. A hundred and forty horse portraits survey both wild and domestic horses, are accompanied by quotes from teachers and writers exploring equine wisdom and its connections with spirituality, and provides a powerful visual celebration.

Merlin's Magick
Joshua Free
Crossquarter Publishing Group
PO Box 23749, Santa Fe, NM 87502
1890109517 $19.95

Any who look into the magickal world and lifestyles realizes there are many specific books on the topic: it's thus refreshing to acknowledge that MERLYN'S MAGICK: THE WIZARD'S SECRET NOTEBOOKS holds no such narrow focus, is willing to admit other systems are valid, and provides students with a more general overview of magickal theory than others can offer. Newcomers to magick, in particular, will find MERLYN'S MAGICK offers a synthesis of information and detail which is essential for beginners, presenting the mythos of tarot, Golden Dawn, Enochian magic, Druids and more in a guide which explains what foundations must be learned before moving to others.

Atraid Press
405 Moseley Street, Jefferson, TX 75657

Two fine ghost books are highly recommended picks for any interested in quality ghost productions - something rare on the market these days, as the horror genre has largely taken over the idea. Kriss Stephens' FEAR: A GHOST HUNTER' STORY (0974039446, $17.95) presents the experiences of the author, a paranormal investigator and professional photographer who worked on MVT's 'Fear' show finding locations and providing research. Her first-person accounts of her ghostly encounters range from observations of spirit writings, fogs, chills and haunts to her own physical sensations and explorations of a range of buildings, from old houses and abandoned structures to cemeteries. Black and white photos are liberally peppered throughout - and quite clear - as Stephens provides riveting stories of her ghostly encounters which go beyond trying to prove their reality to describe their impact and appearance. Want to duplicate her experiences? Try Mitchel Whitington's suggestions in A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE: A GUIDE TO HAUNTED TRAVEL IN AMERICA (0974039454, $18.95), which presents a range of accessible haunted locales where visitors might be lucky enough to meet the haunts. Descriptions of haunts and the legends behind them accompany black and white photos and the author's own description of his visit. Each book goes beyond the usual ghostly account in providing smooth-flowing, literary reading and an excellent 'you are there' feel.

Launch It!
Molly Miller-Davidson, Joanne Stone-Geier & Michael Levinson
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022-5299
0060819243 $21.95

If you have good ideas but no idea how to translate them into marketable, successful products - then LAUNCH IT: HOW TO TURN GOOD IDEAS INTO GREAT PRODUCTS THAT SELL is the book for you. Product and trend gurus Molly Miller-Davidson, JoAnne Stone-Geier and product designer Michael Levinson provide their expertise in considering each stage of product development and marketing, from idea to market success. Where other books narrow the approach to one part alone, LAUNCH IT! Follows the entire process - and packs in the contacts and resources needed to make it happen and avoid costly errors.

The Soul of Christianity
Huston Smith
353 Sacramento Street, #500, San Francisco CA 94111-3653
006079478X $22.95

Dr. Huston Smith's writings inspire people around the world, and even became the focus of a PBS series with Bill Moyers. Today he's 86 years old, has written over 12 books on world religions, and provides a new examination of the Christian story and faith. THE SOUL OF CHRISTIANITY: RESTORING THE GREAT TRADITION takes a close look at modern society, morals, and spirituality with an eye to using stories and personal anecdotes to reveal how the teachings of Christianity remain relevant in a modern secular world. From problems of biblical literalism to the mistakes of modern secularists, Smith provides a real analysis and connection to modern Christianity.

The Truth Book
Joy Castro
Arcade Publishing
1559707879 $25.00

Any who have had experience with Jehovah's Witnesses will find THE TRUTH BOOK: ESCAPING A CHILDHOOD OF ABUSE AMONG JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES to be eye-opening. Author Joy Castro was adopted as a baby and raised as a devout Jehovah's Witness: she was told to always tell the truth and studied a religious text which reinforced the faith. When her parents divorced after her father was excommunicated from the congregation for smoking, her mother married a church brother who proved to be a savage abuser at home. Forbidden to see their father, the kids are abused and battered with knowledge of their mother and church alike, until Joy reaches out to her father and plans an escape. A gripping memoir of religion, abuse, and recovery.

Indivisible By Two
Nancy L. Segal
Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
0674019334 $24.95

Author Nancy Segal is Professor of Psychology of the Twin Studies center at CSU Fullerton: her professional career has been devoted to the study of identical and fraternal twins, and INDIVISIBLE BY TWO: LIVES OF EXTRAORDINARY TWINS reflects this long history, following up on her ENTWINED LIVES to reveal the lives of 10 sets of twins, one set of triplets and a set of quads. From twins raised apart and their remarkable connections to others who found their differences equally remarkable, INDIVISIBLE BY TWO provides some interesting insights on not only the psychology of twins, but the possibilities and problems inherent in artificial human cloning. From shared memories and experiences to shared reactions, this is packed with riveting case histories.

Port in the Storm
Cole A. Giller, MD, PhD
LifeLine Press/Regnery
1 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20091
0895261324 $16.95

Ever had to make a medical decision which would affect your life? Which would change it for better or for worse? Plenty of guides advise getting second opinions and weighing pros and cons - but how does one actually make a medical decision and live to tell about it? PORT IN THE STORM tells how: from identifying tradeoffs and pros and cons to locating reliable data and studies on the Web and interpreting numbers. Chapters also discuss peer pressure, belief systems, and managing doctor advice with an eye to identifying where a doctor can help and when to use his advice to add to the mix of data.

Just a Little Too Thin
Michael Strober, Ph.D. & Meg Shneider, MA, LMSW
Da Capo Life Long
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
0738210188 $25.00

Ordinarily JUST A LITTLE TOO THIN: HOW TO PULL YOUR CHILD BACK FROM THE BRINK OF AN EATING DISORDER would have been featured in our Children's Bookwatch issue - but since such disorders can affect kids into adulthood, and can prove quite stubborn to control, it's featured here for its wider-ranging applications. Anyone who is dieting can go too far - and JUST A LITTLE TOO THIN helps recognize how far is too far. Chapters survey differences between dieting and eating disorders, survey underlying emotional disorders governing self-image, and provide important guidelines for control and help. The family's role and situation in the calorie-counting process factors into chapters packed with practical insights.

Syndrome W
Harriette R. Mogul, MD
M. Evans
216 E. 49 Street, New York NY 10017
159077048X $21.95

One day in mid-life you find the pounds are going on and just won't come off, whether it be with diet or exercise: those old routines just aren't effective anymore. Why? Learn about 'syndrome w' in mid-life: a medical disorder which is common to women in their 30s-60s and stems from an abnormality in insulin levels. Dr. Mogul discovered the condition and designed its cure, and here shows how it can be diagnosed and reversed. Many a mid-life woman will be relieved to learn they can lose weight and keep it off, with a few simple adjustments - though the blood tests for diagnosis are anything but simple.

Strength Training On the Ball
Colleen Craig
Healing Arts Press
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
1694770115 $18.00

Combining the exercise ball with the flexibility of Pilates-based strength training is an unusual approach to exercise, but strength training on the ball provides an optimal program for combining the two well-recognized exercise approaches, and offers many step-by-step instructions for routines which are realistic and easy. Photos and step-by-step instructions help exercises achieve their goals, provide specialized strength-training workouts for recovery from injury as well as toning, and are recommended picks for both beginners and advanced trainers.

The Sacred Power of Huna
Rima A. Morrell, Ph.D.
Inner Traditions
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
1594770093 $16.95

When author Rima Morrell visited Hawaii as a young anthropology student she found the system of ancient Hawaiian wisdom, Huna, to be compelling, offering her insights into responsibility and how people create their own reality. Her studies in Hawaii contribute to the SACRED POWER OF HUNA: SPIRITUALITY AND SHAMANISM IN HAWAII, which provides not just spiritual insights, but plenty of insights into Hawaiian culture as well. From an understanding of how the unconscious operates in both Freudian and outside of Freudian realms to how the classic Hawaiian hula dance draws in spiritual force and connections, THE SACRED POWER OF HUNA provides plenty of in-depth observations.

Golden Gryphon Press
3002 Perkins Road, Urbana, IL 61802

Golden Gryphon's high-quality productions result in picks which can be recommended across the board, and their latest publications are no exception. George Alec Effinger's LIVE! FROM PLANET EARTH (1930846320, $25.95) provides over twenty short pieces by fellow writers and editors who knew Effinger quite well. Each provides a commentary about their selection which includes insights into how it was written: with the commentary based on personal knowledge of Effinger, each note offers more depth and insight than your usual introduction. As for the short stories - they're written across the decades and provide numerous focuses. Gregory Frost's ATTACK OF THE JAZZ GIANTS AND OTHER STORIES (1930846347, $25.95) also provides a powerful short story collection: this crossing history and alternative history to examine monsters both psychic and real, and to introduce the reader to a set of dream worlds which make you think about wonder and human efforts in the face of the impossible. William F. Nolan's WILD GALAXY (1930846312, $25.95) comes from the author of LOGAN'S RUN and gathers nineteen stories which represent a wide range of his numerous award-winning works. From alien rock stars and human groupies to robot emotions and a future where drugged states are equated with safety, WILD GALAXY is, indeed, a wild ride. Richard Bowes' FROM THE FILES OF THE TIME RANGERS (1930846355, $24.95) provides a novel of time travel and alternate worlds - and we've saved the best for last, here. Blend gods of mythology with contemporary settings and three young runaways who become hardened Time Rangers and you have a fast-paced plot which introduces new ideas with skill and ease and slips complex settings into a story line powered by solid characterization. All are powerful, excellent reads.

Red Jacket Press

If you're seeking high-quality, deluxe reprints of solid science fiction classics to build a new collection or replace aging paperbacks, Red Jacket Press titles are for you: they are slipcased, they are solid, and they only pick the top-notch writers' works - plus, they are surprisingly affordable. Seabury Quinn's ROADS (097488958X, $29.95) provides a facsimile reproduction of the 1948 first edition as it re-imagines Santa Claus as a wonderous figure and a supreme example of selflessness. Virgil Finlay's illustrations spice a story line which remains as engrossing now as upon its first appearance. Almost every solid sci fi fan willrecognize Wilmar Shiras's CHILDREN OF THE ATOM (0974889504, $39.95) as a classic: it first appeared in 1953 by Gnome Press and is also a facsimile reproduction of the original, telling of a group of gifted children who are super-intelligent, all hiding the fact from adults - and all born as the result of an atomic explosion. One Dr. Welles discovers their existence and presses them into an experimental new school to harness their abilities, but can the rest of the world handle them? C.L. Moore's JUDGMENT NIGHT (0974889512, $39.95) also reprints a 1952 original from Gone: this one providing five different short stories set on five different worlds. These have been gathered from Astounding Science Fiction: they represent some of Moore's own favorites. Got a science fiction buff who 'has everything'? Give them any one of these as keepsake treasures.

Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471

Each month Baen provides fans of military and action science fiction with some very satisfying, adventure-filled reads. These latest publications are especially diverse and enthralling. John Dalmas' THE SECOND COMING (1416509035, $7.99) is set 2,000 years after Jesus when the world is ripe for a second coming - in the midst of a terrorist/media-ridden age. Can the second coming be led by a black Canadian software genius who surrounds himself with media consultants and security? Leo Frankowski and Dave Grossman's KREN OF THE MITCHEGAI (1416509028, $7.99) tells of virtual reality mercenaries who face a species whose biology has made them evil. The adults eat the kids, their culture has no family life, and they take pleasure from torture - and they're expanding across the universe. What kind of hero can battle this super-enemy? William H. Keith's RETIEF'S PEACE (1416509003, $25.00) takes a setting by Keith Laumer and moves to a new level with it: here a Peace Movement is actually a plot by the warlike Krll to get Terrans off of a planet to leave it for their conquest. Retief has to thwart them - even if it means he's drummed out of the Corps which is his life, to do so. Harry Turtledove's THE TIME OF TROUBLES II (1416508996, $26.00) provides two complete Vedessos novels under one cover. In THE THOUSAND CITIES, Abrivard is to destroy a mighty empire at the wishes of his king: but how can he when his warriors are already on the defense from said kingdom's own attack? Wizards and magic complicate the battles unless he can master a spell. VIDESSO BESIEGED follows, in which war again is the objective thwarted; this time by weather. Can the Videssos military win? Andre Norton is with us no longer but her books live on in such classics of MASKS OF THE OUTCASTS (1416509011, $24.00) tells of two dangerous planets and two outcasts: one accused of murder, one who lives with a scarred face. Add mysterious ruins, aliens, and an offer for two new lives and you have a superb, fast-paced story which will appeal to newcomers and asa solid re-read for old-time fans. David Weber's OLD SOLDIERS (1416508988, $26.00) also takes a story created by Keith Laumer and expands upon it: this telling of a sole survivor of battle who hadn't wanted to be one. A Bolo commander's guilt over her survival and a Bolo who had belonged to another must serve together again in a war against the final enclave of humanity - and they must learn to heal and share, if they are to win.

Galileo's Children
Gardner Dozois, Editor
Pyr/Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591023157 $25.00

The battle of science against superstition is at the forefront of science fiction, not just hard science books - and there are many different fronts and stories which reflect this struggle Enter GALILEO'S CHILDREN: TALES OF SCIENCE VS. SUPERSTITION, which offers some of the best of these shorts by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverberg, and many big-name authors. From fantasy worlds to alternate history to new kinds of fighters for science and freedom, GALILEO'S CHILDREN presents a satisfying, diverse spread of plots and talents.

KP Books
700 East State Street, Iola, WI 54990-0001

Antique hunters who love to hit estate seas and flea markets each weekend just can't go hunting without the updated 4th edition of Warman's Flea Market Price Guide by Ellen T. Schroy, Editor (0896891593 $21.99) , the industry standard price guide for items commonly found at such venues. No, it doesn't have the glitzy color of other price guides - but it does feature almost 500 pages of pricing info, comes packed with clear black and white photos which lend to identification, and includes a quick A-Z reference which makes it easy to obtain at-a-glance price details. Keep it in the car: you can't go wrong. Ditto Warman's 101 GREATEST BABY BOOMER TOYS (0896892204, $24.99), which packs in over three hundred color photos of the selected top popular toys of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. From Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots to TV character toys and theme toys, an emphasis on background history of the toy's development and popularity proves just as valuable as the prices.

Collector Books
PO Box 3009, Paducah, KY 42002-3009

Other toy car books on the market often narrow the feature to specific manufacturers or types of cars; such as die-cast: but if it's one 'bible' packed with info you wish, make it the second edition of Dana Johnson's TOY CAR COLLECTOR'S GUIDE (1574324586 $24.95), which packs in identification and values tips for all kinds of cars, from diecast and metal to miniatures. While primarily serving as a price guide, TOY CAR COLLECTOR'S GUIDE also includes small color photos to aid in identification. Linda Crowsey's COLLECTOR'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MADAME ALEXANDER DOLLS 1948-1965 (1574324446, $24.95) provides identification and values paired with good-sized color photos of each featured doll - and special notes, such as 'missing headpiece' or clothes descriptions. These notes help collectors get a sense for what makes each doll valuable, what photos are missing details, and what features enhance a doll's appearance. A good, solid guide.

Schiffer Publishing
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310

These excellent specialty collector's guides are a 'must' for any professional antique dealer and seller. Barbara Wood and Robert Doares' OLD LIMOGES: HAVILAND PORCELAIN DESIGN AND DÉCOR 1945-65 (0764323113, $59.95) provides a very specific collector's guide which contributes to scholarship on French ceramics overall. This study of first-production Haviland design blends over four hundred color illustrations with history and insights from unpublished documents from archives in both France and America. From close-ups of handle drawings to photos of entire sets, OLD LIMOGES is a specialty collector's 'bible'. Georgeanna H. Greer's AMERICAN STONEWARES: THE ART & CRAFT OF UTILITARIAN POTTERS, 4TH EDITION (0764322478, $49.95) has been revised to include a revamped price guide; but it doesn't just present the usual focus on stoneware collectibles - it surveys the entire art and craft of potters, covering the history and technology of pottery production and including over 300 black and white photos and 16 color plates throughout. Even glazes are thoroughly covered, surveying the four major forms used on American Stonewares. Both of these are specialty items - and both are unparalleled in the industry, making them a 'must' for any serious collector.

30 South Wacker Drive, #2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481

Two new guides to real estate investing demonstrate methods and how to make money. Carolyn Janik's MAKING MONEY IN REAL ESTATE: HOW TO START OUT ON THE ROAD TO FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE WITH RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTY (1419517511, $18.95) appears in its updated third edition to provide a wealth of advice on how to use real estate to make profits. Many know the concept but few know how to invest successfully - that's where MAKING MONEY IN REAL ESTATE comes in, reviewing investment reasons, strategy, attributes needed for success, and valuation. Pros and cons are addresses, leverage concerns surveyed, and secrets to improve negotiation skills covered in a resource collection of tips from professionals. George F. Donohue's REAL ESTATE DEALMAKING: A PROPERTY INVESTOR'S GUIDE TO NEGOTIATING (1419520202, $19.95) narrows the focus even further, discussing negotiating deals to improve profits and motivate all players to maximum advantage. The focus is on creating win-win situations for all economic cycles and types of property: chapters include checklists, worksheets, sample scenarios from real situations, and more. Both are highly recommended as basic picks for any novice real estate investor who would become seasoned without attending the school of hard knocks.

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor
Gary Keller, Dave Jenks, Jay Papasan
Two Penn Plaza, New York NY 10121-2298
0071446370, $21.95

The collected wisdom and advice of over 100 millionaire investors who gained their financial wealth through real estate is gathered under one cover for any who would understand investment myths and realities. From developing a team of hand-picked pros who will help millionaire business grow to proven strategies for building net worth and developing criteria for identifying good investments, THE MILLIONAIRE REAL ESTATE INVESTOR gives a lot of knowledge under one cover.

Two Penn Plaza, New York NY 10121-2298

Two excellent titles are highly recommended picks and standard home health library acquisitions. David Nathan Mdand Linda Delahanty MS's BEATING DIABETES: THE FIRST COMPLETE PROGRAM CLINICALLY PROVEN TO DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE YOUR GLUCOSE TOLERANCE (0071438319, $24.95) comes from Harvard Medical School experts, so it's not just a passing fancy but a proven routine. Based on scientific studies, BEATING DIABETES provides a lifestyle change-focussed program which advocates beating the condition without drugs. There's evidence that diet and exercise alone doesn't work - but this includes modest lifestyle changes, tips on emotional health and movement-oriented routines, and more. An intriguing, hopeful new way of viewing diabetes management. Carolyn Kaelin MD, MPH works with Francesca Coltrera in LIVING THROUGH BREAST CANCER: WHAT A HARVARD DOCTOR AND SURVIVOR WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING THE BEST CARE WHILE PRESERVING YOUR SELF-IMAGE (0071444637, $22.95). Chapters cover all the basics, from understanding the diagnosis and making informed decisions on treatments to undertaking strength training and understanding and coping with treatment aftermaths. Avoid the common pitfalls of wigs, learn where pain usually hits after surgery, and much more in a title which tackles topics not often addressed even in the many, many competing books on the subject.

1601 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Whatever your definition of success might be, it is sure helped by a lifetime of good everyday habits - and PERSONAL BRILLIANCE MASTERING THE EVERYDAY HABITS THAT CREATE A LIFETIME OF SUCCESS (0814408389 $21.95) examines these habits, from developing focus and taking advantage of curiosity to taking initiative. Turn these four basic attributes into routines through author Jim Canterucci's practical, fun exercises which can be incorporated into any daily routine. Maybe it's leadership which is desired: learn from the military in William A. Cohen, Ph.D. and Major General's SECRETS OF SPECIAL OPS LEADERSHIP: DARE THE IMPOSSIBLE, ACHIEVE THE EXTRAORDINARY (0814408400, $24.00). Special ops are uniquely trained fighting forces designed to beat the odds: their principles of speed, purpose, repetition and simplicity makes them special - and translates well to business. Inspire employees to work at peak performance and adopt the special ops strategies to the competitive world of business using a title which offers realistic options for creating 'business commandos'. Especially when you go UP AGAINST THE WAL-MARTS (Don Taylor & Jeanne Smalling Archer,0814473008, $17.95). Small business can proper in the face of Wal-Mart, but it'll take business savvy and re-organization: that's the message of UP AGAINST THE WAL-MARTS: HOW YOUR BUSINESS CAN PROSPER IN THE SHADOW OF THE RETAIL GIANTS. Attract and organize a winning staff, gauge customer satisfaction, use promotions to advantage and more: chapters tell how to adjust attitude for exceptional customer service results. Rick Mathieson's BRANDING UNBOUND (0814472877, $24.95) discusses the future of advertising, sales and the brand experience in the new wireless world. Audiences are becoming increasingly inured to ads - requiring more ads to get the point across, it seems. They're not tuning out so much as choosing which messages they wish to tune in - and leading companies are already choosing wireless to view buying patterns and market to the most likely customers. Exclusive, inightful questions and answers follow the process of marketing in the wireless world, and its basic differences. Mobility will change the brand experience - and BRANDING UNBOUND tells how to go with the wireless flow.

Thinking for a Living
Thomas H. Davenport
Harvard Business School Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
1591394236 $27.50

Knowledge management and process innovation expert Thomas Davenport argues many companies don't maximize their knowledge works' talents because they try one or two avenues of management - which often fail. THINKING FOR A LIVING: HOW TO GET BETTER PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS FROM KNOWLEDGE WORKERS discusses the psychology of the knowledge worker and how it differs from the motivations and attitudes of other workers. The savvy manager would do well to understand this psychology - especially what motivates the knowledge worker to excel: it may mean the difference between company success and failure.

Your Rights at Work
Richard C. Busse
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
1572485051 $14.95

There are so many workplace rules - and so many changes- that it's important employees have a practical guide to the latest legal rights - as in YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WORKPLACE LAW - AND HOW TO USE IT TO PROTECT YOUR JOB. Employers, too, shouldn't miss the roundup of detail, which covers everything from age discrimination and harassment on the job to denied health benefits, missed promotions, overtime pay, family leave and COBRA, and more.

Project Management Jump Start
Kim Heldman, PMP
Sybex/Harbour Light Press
1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501
0782136001 $24.99

Prepare for a project management career quickly with PROJECT MANAGEMENT JUMP START: THE BEST FIRST STEP TOWARD A CAREER IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT, covering all the basics of what makes a successful project manager. Such a manager creates schedules, works within budgets, works with department managers, and communications with and organized people: PROJECT MANAGEMENT JUMP START's chapters cover all these tasks and more, including PMI's revised Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). From defining constraints to requesting proposals, this second edition includes all the latest project management facts.

Nail the Cover Letter
Ron & Caryl Krannish, Ph.Ds
Impact Publications
9104-N Manassas Drive, Manassas Park, VA 20111-5211
1570232342 $17.95

Deserving of ongoing recommendation is a wonderful guide to creating powerful cover letters NAIL THE COVER LETTER: GREAT TIPS FOR CREATING DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS. Contrary to popular belief, the resume isn't the first eye-catcher: it's the quality and content of the cover letter. This letter alone can make or break an employment opportunity - and NAIL THE COVER LETTER narrows the focus to key tested elements which earn acceptance.

Now What Do I Do?
Jan Cannon, Ph.D.
Capital Books
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
1931868999 $18.95

Women who find themselves mid-life and at a career or home turning point will find NOW WHAT DO I DO? THE WOMAN'S GUIDE TO A NEW CAREER to be essential to considering all the remaining options in life. From finding a new job to beginning a business, returning to school or volunteering, women receive a primer on how to link talents to goals, and how to learn the basics of business connections, from networking to putting together a strategy for success.

Mike French Publishing
1619 Front Street, Lynden, WA 98264

Ever wonder how to understand business jargon - especially if you're new to the business world? Then pick up a copy of GREEN WEENIES AND DUE DILIGENCE: INSIDER BUSINESS JARGON - RAW, SERIOUS AND SOMETIMES FUNNY by Ron Sturgeon. It comes in two versions: unabridged with over 1200 terms (0971703116, $28.95) and abridged with over 650 terms (no ISBN). Any who would readily understand business jargon receive A-Z coverage, definitions, and usage examples. Add a lively dose of humor and plenty of web site references to the Weenies site for backup and more information and you have a wonderful, unique presentation.

Prep Publishing
1110 Hay Street, Fayettesville, NC 28305

Three excellent new guides don't just provide the usual coverage on how to write a resume - they provide industry-specific resume examples, industry-specific tips and cautions, and industry-specific winning strategies based on real-world resumes. The new, revised edition of Anne McKinney, MBA's GOVERNMENT JOB APPLICATIONS AND FEDERAL RESUMES (1885288115, $25.00) presents actual tools used by real job hunters - including federal resumes, key forms, and postal applications. Details on how to complete the forms makes for a fine guide for any potential government worker. Her REAL-RESUMES FOR MEDICAL JOBS (188528814X, $16.95) isn't as weighty, but it's very specific to the medical industry, teaching a foundation of medical industry resume writing which is easy to tailor and customize to special needs. It's easy to review these real resumes for style, format, and impact; while cover letters demonstrate how to support the resume with a hard-hitting summary. REAL-RESUMES FOR COMPUTER JOBS (1885288085, $16.95) gathers real resumes which gained computer jobs of all kinds. Since many technical types aren't writers, this comes as a special gift: select a winning format, plug in your background specs, and away you go. It's that easy - with REAL RESUMES in hand.

Michael Wiese Productions
11288 Ventura Boulevard, #621, Studio City, CA 91604

Three new film books are outstanding picks. Pamela Douglas' WRITING THE TV DRAMA SERIES (1932907068, $24.95) tells professionals how to succeed in TV drama writing, gathering the tips of Hollywood insiders to tell how to break into drama writing for television. To learn the basics, first you have to learn what makes TV drama successful: examples from popular shows come from the experts who work in the field and provide plenty of tips and humor from Hollywood's top producers and practicing TV writers. Marisa D'Vari's CREATING CHARACTERS: LET THEM WHISPER THEIR SECRETS (0941188973, $26.95) narrows the focus even further, providing a set of techniques to create exciting characters based on the More-Personality system for developing characterization based on the Enneagram. The system offers an emphasis on brainstorming and understanding personality styles and mixes, and tells how to use meditation and other techniques to summon characters from 'magical places' to come alive. A very different, lively survey. Jeremy Vineyard's SETTING UP YOUR SHOTS: GREAT CAMERA MOVES EVERY FILMMAKER SHOULD KNOW (0941188636, $19.95) provides a reference on visual storytelling techniques for directors, film students, home video makers or anyone who wants further insights on how pro-style movies are put together. This isn't just a formula: examples from classic and new films, from budget to big screen, pepper a survey of how camera set-ups work, how styles are developed for film, and how a camera's moves can interpret action and drama. Plenty of black and white illustration accompanies descriptions of jargon and typical camera moves. Very highly recommended.

Hattie McDaniel
Jill Watts
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022-5299
0060514906 $27.95

Hollywood pioneer Hattie McDaniel's name may not be well known outside of Hollywood history circles; but that's about to change with her biography HARRIE MCDANIEL: BLACK AMBITION, WHITE HOLLYWOOD, an expose not only of McDaniel's life and achievements, but her far-reaching influence on racial relationships in Hollywood's white world. Don't know Hattie? You might remember her for her performance as Mammy in 'Gone with the Wind', which won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and lead blacks to hope Hollywood was ready for more developed black characters in film. Despite her success, racist Hollywood was a tough nut to crack - and McDaniel's achievements helped make that first crack.

Mummy Dearest
Ron Beckett & Jerry Conlogue
Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592285449 $24.95

You may think MUMMY DEAREST sounds familiar: it's the name of a popular National Geographic channel show too, and the authors here recount their behind-the-scenes adventures traveling around in a converted Charles Chips van unlocking world mummy secrets. Their show resurrected the link between mummy studies and how cultures handled death and life: MUMMY DEAREST blends humor with science and travelogue to chart the authors' fascination with mummies and the stories they tell.

The Creative Professional
Howard J. Blumenthal
Emmis Books
1700 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45206
1578602459 $14.95

Creative folk are valuable at work - but their creative thinking capabilities can also make them the most troublesome to handle in a corporate atmosphere. THE CREATIVE PROFESSIONAL shows how such workers can learn to recognize opportunities to work within the system. From considering freelance options versus working for a company to working with different people and handling laws affecting creative work, THE CREATIVE PROFESSIONAL: A GUIDE FOR THE BUSINESS WORLD addresses many different aspects of professional conduct and survival.

Secrets to Standup Success
Sandi C. Shore
Emmis Books
1700 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45206
1578601606 $17.99

How can a book impart the secrets of standup comedy? Easy: by pairing creative writing exercises, targeted comedy 'workouts' to hone skills, visual exercises and more to enhance the creative spirit of the would-be comedian. Sandi shore spent eight years as director and general manager of the Comedy Stores in Honolulu and on the West Coast before moving into workshops for standup comics and public speakers: her SECRETS TO STANDUP SUCCESS: A COMPLETE STEP-BY-STEP WORKBOOK comes from her successful teachings and tells how to understand tricks of the trade leading to successful routines.

Total Directing
Tom Kingdon
Silman-James Press
1181 Angelo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
1879505711 $29.95

Want a book which borders on a college-level text in its depth and coverage of the technical aspects of screen directing for actor/directors? Choose TOTAL DIRECTING: INTEGRATING CAMERA AND PERFORMANCE IN FILM AND TELEVISION for a 'classroom in a book': it covers everything from screenplay analysis and working with a production team to auditioning, working through the rehearsal process, blocking camera and actor moves: everything needed to successfully direct a production from start to finish. Even the pitfalls of over-directing are covered in this extensive guide: a highly recommended pick for any would-be director.

Joseph N. DiStefano
Camino Books
PO Box 59026, Philadelphia, PA 19102
0940159821 $24.95

Take an investigative reporter/author like Joseph DiStefano and set him on the TV industry and you have a survey of the TV and cable industry which focuses on the rise of Comcast, its founder, and its dangerous associations. From founder Ralph Robert's early efforts in the business world and his investment in cable to his legendary son and the takeovers they would foster, COMCASTED: HOW RALPH AND BRIAN ROBERTS TOOK OVER AMERICA'S TV, ONE DEAL AT A TIME is an investigative survey at its best, revealing the inner politics and workings of the TV cable industry.

San Francisco's Bayview Hunter's Point
Tricia O'Brien
Arcadia Publications
420 Wando Park Blvd. , Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
0738530077 $19.99

At long last comes a history of a San Francisco neighborhood which has been largely neglected in larger overviews of the city - and it comes from Tricia O'Brien, whose Irish family has lived in the Bayview for several generations. Any who know the area today may be hard pressed to consider cows once walked up the now-busy Third Street, or sheep were herded on Innes Avenue - yet the area was once very rural, and the source of much of San Francisco's food. More so than most other neighborhood books on the city, SAN FRANCISCO'S BAYVIEW HUNTER'S POINT is an essential purchase for any who would receive the full flavor of the city's rural days

Arcadia Publishing
420 Wando Park Boulevard, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Arcadia's regional titles never fail to amaze and delight: they go to great lengths to gather vintage photos from private as well as public collections, they group these photos around neighborhoods to provide an unparalleled local history of an area within a region or city, and they provide high-quality commentary which provides as much background as possible. New California titles include Katherine J. Rinehart's PETALUMA: A HISTORY IN ARCHITECTURE (0738530042, $19.99), which packs in the historic photos of early commercial and residential buildings and comes from a historian who has been actively researching and advocating for the preservation of Petaluma's historic structures for over a decade; Greta Dutcher and Stephen Rowland's ALAMEDA (0738530395, $19.99) tells of a town which began as a grass and beach peninsula adjacent to Oakland and became a major shipping port when a tidal canal made it an island; Lorri Ungaretti's SAN FRANCISCO'S RICHMOND DISTRICT (0738530530, $19.99) comes from a San Francisco historian and tour guide who has gathered vintage Richmond District photos from its early sand dune days to its modern non-rural family housing; and Walter Vielbaum,'s SAN FRANCISCO'S INTERURBAN TO SAN MATEO (0738530085, $19.99) is best of all covering the early electric commuter rail line of yesterday which rivals the BART system of today. Arcadia's achievements in California history would be remarkable enough - but the company is even more amazing when you consider there are several publishing branches producing an equal amount of high-quality regional titles in areas across the country - such as Frank Cheney and Anthony M. Sammarco's TROLLEYS UNDER THE HUB (9752409077, $19.99), gathering photos to document the history of Boston's Green Line to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the country's first subway system. From the first trolley to emerge under the Boston Common in 1897 to modern times, longtime transport historian Frank Cheney provides thorough documentation in a visual display which provides unsually clear vintage black and white photos throughout. As Arcadia identifies and produces books on many neighborhoods which don't receive the in-depth attention they deserve elsewhere, it's performing a valuable public service - and attracting a wide audience of fans. Regional libraries will find them invaluable.

Mining California: An Ecological History
Andrew C. Isenberg
Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York NY 10003
0809095351 $27.00

Plenty has been written about the gold mining years in California - but none from this perspective, which discusses ecological results of the gold rush. Between 1849 and 1874 almost a billion dollars in gold was mined in California, promoting American industrialization and producing a heavy toll on the environment. From tons of poison washed into California's rivers to overall logging and other resource exploitation, MINING CALIFORNIA: AN ECOLOGICAL HISTORY provides a set of economic, social and business insights into the gold rush's lasting effects on California's environment.

The Wicked West
Sherry Monahan
Rio Nuevo Publishers
451 N. Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85745
1887896740 $15.95

Plenty of books cover just about everything you think of on Western history: so why the need for THE WICKED WEST: BOOZERS, CRUISERS, GAMBLERS, AND MORE? Because the story is here largely told through eyewitness accounts and memoirs of both men and women who lived through the times, blending an unusually colorful account with plenty of social insights from the times themselves. The source material is well drawn into the overall history, making for a smooth and lively read.

Kathleen Fanz
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4011
0812238818 $35.00

In the first decades of motor travel, between 1900 and 1940, Americans were buying autos in record numbers, and their price was coming down rapidly - and as prices fell, consumers now able to afford a car adapted their autos in different manners. TINKERING: CONSUMERS REINVENT THE EARLY AUTOMOBILE traces these homespun inventors, covering their achievements, their reasons for changing the car, and their ingenuity. From corporate documents to serial fiction, TINKERING uses a variety of sources to document influences on early inventors as well as profiles of their changes.

American Babel
Clifford J. Doerksen
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4011
0812238710 $34.95

AMERICAN BABEL: ROGUE RADIO BROADCASTERS OF THE JAZZ AGE provides an important alternative history which refutes the popular notion that the quick commercialization of the airways was a coup from mercenary corporations. Instead, Doerksen considers the influence and rise of the independent radio station - whose audiences had no aversion to broadcast advertising, which interspersed jazz and popular songs for publishers with ads. It was these little independents who paved the way for the standard of ads on radio and who promoted with alternative musical programming and alternate ad methods. An intriguing blend of music and ad history, AMERICAN BABEL uses archives and source materials to examine stations, radio personalities, and their social influence.

Recasting The Machine Age
Howard P. Segal
University of Massachusetts Press
PO Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004
1558494812 $34.95

The history of Henry Ford's efforts to shift from a central car production facility to nearly twenty decentralized, small-scale plants within a sixty-mile radius of the Ford headquarters in Dearborn makes for an intriguing study blending business and social history. The idea was to use modern technology at a smaller scale - and Ford's idea worked, with all nineteen village industries saving their communities from decline. These experiments provide important social and cultural insights, explored here for college-level students.

Masters of Chaos
Linda Robinson
Public Affairs
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York NY 10107
1586483528 $14.00

Army Special Forces operations have been much in the news - but how much does the average American know about how the Special Forces operates? War reporter author Linda Robinson traveled with these forces on the frontlines and interviewed them at their home bases: missions of commandos in different counties are revealed in a unique insider's coverage of how the US Army's Special Forces operate.

An Army: Its Role & Rule
Muhammad Ayub
RoseDog Books
701 Smithfield Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3906
0805995943 $36.00

Muhammad Ayub's history of the Pakistan Army from 1947-1999, AN ARMY: ITS ROLE & RULE, provides a powerful history by a Battalion Commander who worked both in the Army and later as a civilian. His survey of the Pakistan Army charts its many changes under Indian and independent rule, charts the influences and actions of officers and commanders, and provides discussions of changing military strategy. An in-depth coverage, AN ARMY comes packed with maps, black and white illustrations, and both political and biographical depth.

Politics of Transnational Minorities
Razmig B. Shirinian
RoseDog Books
701 Smithfield Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3906
0805997563 $19.00

College-level readers will find Dr. Razmig Shirinian's background as a political science teacher lends to a scholarly assessment of social welfare and international collaborative arrangements in POLITICS OF TRANSNATIONAL MINORITIES: SOCIAL WELFARE AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS. Under study here are relationships between different minority groups, from Kurds, Palestinians and Armenians in diaspora to different regimes. A detailed study political science students will appreciate.

Uniforms Exposed
Jennifer Craik
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1859738982 $79.95

This isn't just a survey of military uniforms, but an analysis of the uniform overall, from military to schools to fetishes. How does the requirement of a uniform impart underlying messages on how to act - and how others should respond to the uniform? UNIFORMS EXPOSED: FROM CONFIRMITY TO TRANSGRESSION provides a well-rounded survey of the uniform's underlying importance and psychological impact.

The Generals
J.L. Granastein
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive, NW, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
1552381765 $24.95

The Canadian Army's senior commanders in World War II are the focus of THE GENERALS, a classic Canadian military history guide which serves as the foundation study of Canadian military actions during the Second World War. Originally published in 1993, THE GENERALS remains the only guide of its kind, and this newly updated edition includes a new introduction. A 'must' for any military scholar.

Divided by a Common Language
Christopher Davies
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618002758 $14.95

Ever find yourself 'trapped' by the differences between UK and US English? Then DIVIDED BY A COMMON LANGUAGE: A GUIDE TO BRITISH AND AMERICAN ENGLISH is for you: a fascinating survey and detailed comparison of language and customs which differ between the UK and UK. From daily life to cultural differences, amusing expressions and potentially volatile confusions, DIVIDED BY A COMMON LANGUAGE will appeal to a wide audience, from Americans who enjoy modern British novels and media to Brits interested in American culture.

Secret Lives of Common Birds
Marie Read
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618558721 $14.95

Bird behavior from feeders to parks is revealed in a seasonal approach blending gorgeous color photos of birds in the outdoors with insights on their lives. Here are details on building nests, sunning habits, food storage, keeping warm - all the seasonal changes common birds experience. The dual approach of gorgeous color photos and seasonal observations of common behaviors makes SECRET LIVES OF COMMON BIRDS an exceptional read.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Listen to Life Like a Child
Dr. Joey Faucette
Listen to Life Publishers
3321 Pleasant Gap Drive, Dry Fork, VA 24549
ISBN: 0971507422, $10.95 130 pp.

Dr. Joey Faucette has produced this highly inspirational book by relating stories of children and the special way they listen to life before becoming jaded as an adult. If your life has you frayed beyond belief and you just don't care anymore then the stories in this book may help turn that around and bring meaning and peace back to your life. Each story also has a few questions at the end to get you thinking about how you can apply the lesson to your life and start the process of change. This is simply one of the best inspirational books I have read in a long time. Recharge your batteries, reconnect with happiness and contentedness, and reclaim your connection with God. Listen to Life Like a Child is very highly recommended.

Victorious Woman!
Annmarie Kelly
Optimal Living Press
1062 Lancaster Avenue, Suite 15G, Rosemont, PA 19010
ISBN: 0974603708, $16.95 272 pp.

This is a collection of stories from women who have risen above abuse, toxic relationships, cancer, self-esteem, and many other problems to become victorious in their lives. After each story the author includes a section on steps and tips to overcome the same or similar problems in your life. These are inspiring real stories of real success in rising up against the odds and against all obstacles to reclaim your life. The advice is consistent with current therapeutic techniques and helps the reader see how to overcome tough situations. Victorious Woman is a recommended read for anyone who needs to rise to victory over life problems.

Moving to Linux, Second Edition
Marcel Gagne
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0321356403, $39.99 376 pp. plus several appendixes and index

Writing like a friend who is walking you through his favorite application, Moving to Linux, Second Edition is a very user friendly read with a lot of excellent information. Before you know it you have completed the book, had a lot of fun, understand the basics of Linux and have had an introduction to some of the most popular Linux based programs. With a fully bootable CD-Rom version of Linux included you can work with the Linux operating system without affecting your current system. The author does not get into the details of working outside the graphical interface or changing the boot configuration files or other more technically oriented topics, but if you want to know something about Linux, and how to work with it from the user or desktop perspective, then it is a good choice. By the time you are done you will have worked with the Firefox web browser, setup your network, sent and received email with your existing accounts, worked with music, graphics, a file manager, contact manager, word processor, spreadsheet, and various games. Moving to Linux, Second Edition is a highly recommended read for anyone who wants to move to Linux or get an introduction to it without committing to the operating system right off the bat.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Encyclopedia of Exes
Edited by Meredith Broussard
Three Rivers (Crown)
ISBN: 1400054230, $12.00

Moving from the female perspective of why relationships failed (see THE DICTIONARY OF FAILED RELATIONSHIPS), THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EXES provides the male point of view. The twenty-six contributions run the gamut, but surprisingly few blame the woman. In fact several of the authors place themselves in the female's moccasins and hold themselves culpable; thus the reader sees a fuller view of the relationship and why it fell apart. Many of the entries are poignant and filled with pathos while others contain nostalgic memories (ignoring the negatives) and even include other types of bi-gender relationships (one for instance showcases a father and daughter struggling with her no longer being his little girl). Still a few inputs come across as inane and shallow. Overall this is a creative collection mostly filled with strong insightful looks at why we failed; a fine companion to its female counter anthology.

Flying through Midnight: A Pilot's Dramatic Story of His Secret Missions over Laos During the Vietnam War
John T. Halliday
ISBN: 0743274881, $27.50

In 1970, twenty-four years John T. Halliday reported to his unit, the 606th Special Operations Squadron in Thailand. Having little flight time outside of school, Halliday anticipates minor cargo deliveries until a seasoned pilot takes him up on an orientation trip that nukes the Air Force rule book. He begins to better understand the top secret mission of project "Candlesticks"; the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos to include the emergency landing of his plane in the dangerous mountainous of northern Laos at the same time that Nixon denied any strikes in that country. Timely with the reasons provided by the White House for the Iraq War, this is a terrific first hand account of a part of the Viet Nam War that the American government denied was happening. Thus all roads lead to John's struggle to safety at the same time Nixon says he and his compatriots do not exist (sound familiar?). Readers will see through the eyes of pilots dodging enemy fire while struggling with sanity as a form of battle fatigue sets in on pilots and crews. The war that never happened is a fabulous expose of secret brutal missions as related by one of the insiders who provides readers with a deep account of what really occurred.

Maranther's Deception
Nik C. Colyer
Singing Reed Press
ISBN: 0970816340, $15.00

Martin and Leigha Vandorfor cut a deal in which she will join him for two fun filled weeks in the desert heat and afterward he would escort her to an entire theater season. The Sonora Desert proves inhospitable from the start as Martin drives off the road at night. In the morning, they find themselves buried under sand dunes that arrived rather quickly to inter their vehicle. The pair begins a terrible march in hostile conditions seeking help. There is nothing but sand everywhere until they reach rotting edifices under a rocky ledge. Needing rest they take shelter. Leigha finds a strange-looking talisman that seems to appear out of nowhere. Not long afterward, an elderly sorceress medicine woman Maranther appears once again apparently out of the air; she informs Martin that she abducted his woman and if he ever wants to see her again he will need to look back at what brought him and Leigha together; in their past lies their hope for a future. MARANTHER'S DECEPTION is a very intriguing tale that takes elements from a relationship family drama and fantasy, but places them inside a horror story; that is the skill of Nik C. Colyer as he effortlessly combines the sub-genres. The Vandorfors are a couple struggling to find commonality as he wants the great outdoors and she wants the arts. Their compromise seems to be the right thing, but instead leads to danger as the mysterious Maranther puts them through a relationship test like no other. The reason why and Martin's efforts to find and rescue his beloved spouse make for quite a vivid thriller; fans will taste the sand that is everywhere.

Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
David Fickling
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
ISBN: 0385750803, $12.95, 385 pp.

Relatively young Librarian Knight Rook Barkwater flying the Stormhornet completes his aerial patrol of the Edge that overlooks the Edgewater River. He begins to head back to the library to report the usual strange lights in the sky and mutants in Screetown, but observes columns of Shrykes on Great Mire Road as if the aviary creatures were preparing for war. However before he attains the haven of the Library, he hears a roaring noise and suddenly Stormhornet spins out of control. He crashes in Screetown where his escape fails and he becomes a prisoner. He is taken to the sunken Palace of the Statues, home or prison depending on one's view of the fallen tyrant Vox Verlix. Though exiled and not remotely like the greatest librarian of all times, Vox remains a force to be reckoned with albeit no one believes that. He warns his former compatriots that a storm is coming, but will they listen to an insane fallen one? Though Rook believes him having observed the lucid moments of his "host", what can he do even if he manages to escape being somewhat a novice. Fans of Potter will enjoy the Edge Chronicles; especially the books containing the adventures of Rook (see LAST OF THE SKYPIRATES). Rook is a terrific lead character who holds the tale in focus, but Vox is the fascinating one as the audience will wonder whether he warns out of duty or spite. Though this tale can stand alone, most fans will find it even better by reading at least beforehand LAST OF THE SKYPIRATES to gain a better understanding of motives and how far Rook has come. Still this is a fine edge of the seat young adult fantasy thriller.

The White Mare
Jules Watson
ISBN: 1585676209, $24.95

In 79 A.D. Alba remains one of the last British keeps not controlled by the Roman invaders. However, the Epidii People of the Horse tribe are very concerned over losing their freedom as King Brude has just died. Attending the regal funeral is exiled Irish Prince Eremon. The tribe sees his arrival as a positive omen because he can lead while also begetting the blood heir by marrying Brude's priestess sister Rhiann. He accepts seeing this as a springboard to regaining what he lost due to treachery; she struggles with marrying anyone having been abused by raiders and unable to handle being touched. Eremon knows he must unite the tribes if they are to keep the Romans out of their somewhat isolated land. Most of the leaders of the tribes cannot see the threat from the invaders so ignore his efforts to unite before Governor-General Agricola spreads Britannia's rule into the north. Rhiann agrees with her new husband's assessment, but has her own problems with Druid rivals and his desire to make her pregnant. This is a terrific ancient historical fiction tale that brings to life Scotland (Alba) in the first century as the Romans are strengthening their hold on the Britannia. The story line is filled with picturesque action that brings to life the detail of the era. At the same time the lead couple seems genuine as they have marital problems, Roman and Druid issues, and his hidden agenda to defeat the uncle who dethroned him. Fans will appreciate this powerful look 79 AD Scotland.

First Impressions
Jude Deveraux
ISBN: 0743437144, $25.95, 352 pp.

Forty-nine year old Agent Jared McBride feels too old to do another field assignment, but his boss insists. Agent Roger Applegate had been selling out his country for fifteen years, but swallowed incriminating notes just before the feds arrived; they found the hard way a scrap that named an Eden Palmer with her social security number. The Feds want to know the connection. Jared is to investigate forty-five years old single mom Eden who recently left New York City when she inherited a home in Arundel, North Carolina from the late Alice Farrington who she once worked for. Jared learns that when his target was seventeen she was coming home from choir practice when she was raped; when she became pregnant her parents tossed her out of her home. Alice took her and her newborn into her home, but Eden fled when Melissa turned five because her employer's son was a pedophile. Jared knows he must be cautious because someone killed agent Tess Brewster in Arundel. To get close to Eden he begins to court her, but for the first time Jared is emotionally involved as he has fallen in love with his mark who may be a traitor. FIRST IMPRESSIONS is a delightful romantic thriller that stars two wonderful middle age protagonists, both wanting to start over. Jared is caught between duty and love as he finds the warm Eden is a fabulous beautiful person who he desires and is so removed from his FIRST IMPRESSIONS of a victimized Mother Theresa (based on her file). Eden just wants to connect, but also begins to learn that a house is not a home. Together with a fine support cast they provide fans with an enjoyable romantic suspense.

Murder Is the Pits
Mary Clay
PO Box 2509, New Smyrna, FL 32170
ISBN: 0771042934, $15.95, 299 pp.

Penny Sue, Ruthie Jo and Rebecca Leigh were college sorority sisters but now they call themselves the DAFFODILS (Divorced and Finally Free of Deceitful, Insensitive, Licentious Scum). Rebecca is staying at Penny Sue's father's condo in New Smyrna Beach until she finds some place she likes and can afford. Penny Sue and Ruthie Jo join Rebecca for two reasons, to celebrate Penny Sue's birthday and to give depositions concerning a drug kingpin. Their trip is anything but relaxed. A person staying in one of the condos is shot to death and another body is found in a dumpster in the complex. The police think there is a mob war going on between the Russians and the Italians; local law enforcement believes the three women are the middle of it. They are followed, attempts are made on their lives and they have to live through a category four hurricane. Just when it looks like things are calming down, two more attempts are made on Rebecca and Penny Jo. MURDER IN THE PITS is a delightful funny crime caper that will have readers laughing out loud as the protagonists cope with three hurricanes, two different crime groups, and a reunion of friends where everyone is on edge at one point or another. Mary Clay treats the situations very seriously but she injects humor in the way the characters cope with death threats, life threatening storms and a gang war. In tense situations, humor is used to relieve stress which allows readers to find the storyline totally believable. The friendship of the forty-something women is the glue that holds the story together. This delightfully, charming tale will win the author many new fans.

The Gate of the Gods
Martha Wells
ISBN: 0380977907, $24.95, 416 pp.

The Kingdom of Ile Rien has fallen to the mysterious and powerful sorcerers known as the Gardier who came through an inter-dimensional portal to conquer the planet by trapping sorcerers in crystal balls to use as weapons against the populace. The same tactic worked on the planet where the Gardier conquered the Syprians who don't allow people with magic to live. Gilead the Chosen One of their god has killed many evil wizards. Tremaine a resident of Ile Rien followed a Gardier ship back to Sypria where she enlisted the aid of Gilead and his brother llias. They travel back to Il Rien where they enlist the help of the wizard Ariside who is trapped in one of the crystals. He gives them a spell that takes them back to Ilias' home world where they communicate with their God who sends them into a portal to a place where the power of the Gardier can be destroyed. They travel there knowing it might mean their deaths. Back at home, Tremaine's lethally dangerous father is using his considerable talents to stop the Gardier from continuing the siege of Lodun where dozen's of sorcerers and thousands of people are trapped by a magic shield. Tremaine, a scientist in a world that uses magic in its everyday affairs, learns to love a man who lives on a world where magic is an abomination. Her vulnerability and her strength lie in her ability to adapt to any situation. With her group of fellow resistance fighters she learns how to use the world gate spells to hop from one world to another and one place to another to try to achieve her goals. There is plenty of action in this exciting finale to the Fall of Ile Rien trilogy but what make this fantasy so special are the fully developed characters. Readers will understand what motivates them to take perilous risks and hope they succeed in their endeavors.

Mary Gaitskill
ISBN: 0375421459, $23.00

Fifty something Alison suffers from Hepatitis that just adds to her look and feel of being much older than she is. She makes pocket change cleaning her friend's toilet, but often loses focus even on that menial chore. Mostly she lives in her past when she was a model in Paris and New York, her childhood in San Francisco or through her deceased friend Veronica, a victim of AIDS though she knows when lucid that except for Veronica her banality was superficial. As she becomes sicker, Alison increasingly buries her mind in a time when she was pretty and treasured as a beauty. The present is too ugly and painful to stay in while the past though only skin deep and choosing to ignore the shallow, the failed love affair and any hardships is nicer even with Veronica death at least in what is left inside Alison's mind. This is a powerful character study that grips the audience from the moment of understanding of the lead protagonist in her present state vs. when her former existence takes hold. Fans will not find this an easy novel to read though it is well written and insightful as Alison in the present is extremely ill with no hopes and in the past so shallow life seems to have passed her by. Mary Gaitskill provides a strong drama that takes no prisoners as she demonstrates to the audience that they will have one chance to live life to the fullest so they should do it.

Karen Olsson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374286264, $24.00

Thirty-two years old political reporter at the recently purchased Waterloo Weekly, Nick feels his world is coming to an end. First the new owners demand he and other journalists must change the tone of their writing as reporting accurate breaking news is not as important as serving the customer defined of course by the owners. His editor says Nick is failing and better improve his performance or else. His former girlfriend who he misses is engaged to someone else. Finally, his only escape, The Sunset bar is closing as the city has no room for dumps and dives since the hi-tech Yuppie explosion. Nick is assigned to profile newly elected Republican state legislator Beverly, who foxily ran on the values mumbo jumbo. Though married Beverly is having an affair with a gubernatorial candidate, whose muscles are bigger than his IQ. Nick's Uncle Bones tells him that Beverly is pushing a land deal written for her by a national developer claiming economic opportunity for everyone; he ignores how the middle class will pay the tab. Knowing this and her affair are not consumer friendly, Nick thinks of ignoring them, but new reporter African-American Andrea Carter encourages him to break the story. WATERLOO is a harsh condemnation of the government-industrial-media complex that has permeated much of American society in recent years with Austin serving as the model. The story line employs two interrelated subplots as Nick investigates Beverly while her affairs are also on display. Fans bushed with non war "sacrifice" that shrinks disposable income into the red while swallowing castor oil laws to make us better will enjoy this muckraking expose of capital politics.

Typhoon Lover
Sujata Massey
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060765127, $23.95

The Japanese Desk of the State Department official Michael Hendricks hires Japanese-American antiques dealer Rei Shimura to find and authenticate a Mesopotamian age pitcher that vanished from Baghdad's National Museum. The Feds believe that Japanese collector Takeo Kayama possesses the valuable vessel and is running an international antiques smuggling ring. Once she hears his name, Rei realizes why they want her skills to investigate as Takeo is her former boyfriend. Rei travels to Japan, but starts her inquiries with her Aunt Norie, a teacher at Takeo's flower arranging school. She learns that Takeo is getting married soon to Erni, which shakes her a bit as she just turned dirty thirty and wonders what she could have done different though the government tossed her out of the country. When a typhoon hits Japan, Rei uses it as a cover to investigate Takeo's summerhouse though she also finds time to sleep with her former lover even as the case takes a bizarre spin towards Erni. The investigation takes a back seat to the intriguing comparisons between the older traditional and younger colorful Japanese generations. For instance readers will enjoy westernized Rei with her conventional Aunt. The inquiry is deftly handled albeit secondary to the deep look into customs, but the apparent spin into Rei Shimura, CIA agent seems odd at least for now. Fans of this great mystery series will anxiously wait the next installment to see if the renegade antiques dealer actually makes the switch to I Spy.

Bad Lie
John R. Corrigan
Hardscrabble Crime
ISBN: 1584654546, $24.95, 256 pp.

PGA pro and part time private detective Jack Austin feels great having won his first victory after a decade on the tour. However, his euphoria ends when his former caddy Curry College football player Nash Henley needs his help. In Milton, Massachusetts, someone battered and executed Nash's estranged biological father, Owen Henley. Jack agrees to investigate in between two tournaments because Nash is like a son to him with dyslexia serving as a link between them. Jack and his best friend, PGA security guard Darcy Perkins, make inquiries that upset several people. This includes thugs willing to harm Jack's wife and two-year-old son. Jack feels like he has toured New England, but has not made progress towards identifying the killer as there are more suspects than holes at the Buick Classic Golf Course. BAD LIE is a fun sports noir that combines Jack's personal life, his professional tour life, and the investigation into a solid tale with several snap hooks and sand traps. Jack is terrific although the number of suspects and what he learns about the deceased cuts to the center of the motive, but so many suspects abound with reason to mash Owen. John R. Corrigan provides a fine golfing murder mystery.

Love Is the Bond
M.R. Sellars
Willow Tree
ISBN: 0967822122, $14.95, 344 pp.

It has been two years since Wiccan Practitioners Rowan Gant and his wife Felicity have been involved in any homicide investigations. Even though Rowan can still hear the voices of the dead, he is optimistic that the darkness will never touch their lives again. Mistress Miranda, a dominatrix has killed her submissive. Felicity as a free lance crime scene photographer is called in to examine the scene where the death occurred. The scene crackles with power and Rowan knows he and his wife are going to plunge into the realm where crime and occult meet. When they get back home, Felicity isn't herself and Rowan quickly catches on that she is channeling the killer. When a second submissive is killed, Felicity becomes possessed by the female murderer. Felicity knocks unconscious her FBI friend, takes her gun and finds a submissive in an S & M night club. She takes him to his motel while the police and the FBI converge on her scene because one of the victims killed was a cop. Even if Rowan can get her out of this alive, their problems are far from over. This is the sixth book in the Rowan Gant series and it is very different than any of the other novels. It is written in the first person from Rowan's point of view and the ending is ambiguous, so much so that readers will not be patient to wait a year for the next tale to come out. They (and this reviewer) will want to see a resolution, preferably one that is happily ever after. M.R. Sellars has written an exciting crime thriller with a good dose of the paranormal in it.

Sacred Cows
Karen E. Olson
ISBN: 0892960221, $21.95, 304 pp.

New Haven Herald police reporter Anne Seymour covers the story of a murdered Yale student Melissa Peabody, whose body was found near a luxury high-rise condo. She quickly learns the coed was a high priced escort in the evening which explains why a student would be by an exclusive locale. Anne Though her editor wants her to not dig any further and the lead homicide detective Tom refuses to cooperate, Anne keeps searches for clues. Her perseverance continues and soon a second female Eli is found murdered; she too was an escort. Her mom and the university join the chorus of those who want Anne to stop investigating, but the ambitious intrepid journalist continues her quest for the truth. SACRED COWS is a fabulous journalist who-done-it with a strong police procedural and an academic setting to anchor the tale. The key to the plot is the heroine who keeps on ticking although everyone except a slimy rival reporter wants her off the case and the slimeball only seems to want her around to hit on her even if she can lean her chin on his bald head (think of his view). The support cast is terrific as they seem genuine rounding out a fine investigative tale that fans will fully enjoy.

How to Seduce a Ghost
Hope McIntyre
ISBN: 0892960132, $24.95

In London ghostwriter Nathalie "Lee" Bartholomew is doing quite well professionally with her latest potential client being an American soap opera star Selma Walker who wants to hire her for sinful amount of cash to write her autobiography. However, on the personal front, her boyfriend of eight years Tommy wants to marry Lee; she has doubts about tying the knot so she tries to delay her response. Meanwhile Lee makes love with Selma's manager Buzz only to learn that he is also her client's husband and that he abuses his wife. Even worse, Buzz apparently made it with Lee's neighbor Astrid who recently died in arson set fire. Lee wonders if Buzz committed the act even while the detectives query everyone remotely connected to the victim. However, soon Lee's house is in flames and a corpse resides in her summerhouse; someone is systematically reducing the Notting Hill Gate neighborhood population and interfering with lee's love life. HOW TO SEDUCE A GHOST is a fun chick lit amateur sleuth tale starring an intriguing female who seems to enjoy being on the edge even when it places her long term relationship in jeopardy. Lee is fun to follow as she proves London swings though her numerous trysts (and that of Selma too) also take away from her arson-homicide investigation. Still fans of ultra lighthearted chick lit whodunit will enjoy Lee's antics enhanced by Selma's escapades.

Desperate Tigress
Jade Lee
ISBN: 0843955058, $6.99

In 1898 China, tantric sex teacher Shi Po has devoted her life to the Taoist dictum of obtaining enlightenment and immortality through ecstasy by strict control of the body and mind. However, Shi is upset that two white heathen students of hers seem to have gained what she strives to achieve. Feeling she has brought shame by her failure and danger to her family by sheltering a monk, Shi wants to die. Shi's husband Tan Kui Yu believes that together they reach Heaven, but separately never. When the duo is imprisoned, Kui trusts that they can overcome adversity with one another, but first they must accept the love they have for another that is a major step towards reaching Heaven. DESPERATE TIGRESS is a terrific late nineteenth century historical tale that provides a deep look at Chinese society through the changing relationship between the lead couple and to a lesser degree the general who jails them. The story line focuses on the interactions between a humiliated Shi who believes she is a failure and has shamed her family and Kui a kind gentle soul respecting his wife. Though Jade Lee's tale can be read by itself, reading the previous two related tales (see HUNGRY TIGRESS and WHITE TIGRESS) first will give a more complete picture of the society. Still this is a superb work.

Tara Moss
ISBN: 084395633X, $6.99, 336 pp.

Mid level Canadian model and forensic psychology student Makedde "Mak" Vanderwall travels to Australia to strut down the runways. However, she receives bad news upon arrival that her close friend Catherine "Cat" Gerber, who she was looking forward to seeing after six months apart, was hideously killed with the police unable to find the culprit. Unbeknownst to the police or to Mak, the culprit has the letter she sent to Cat that includes a picture of the newcomer. Unable to stay out although Homicide Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Flynn warns her off the case, Mak begins to investigate using what she has learned in school as a guide. While Mak and Flynn start seeing one another off duty, the killer hones in on her as his next target. FETISH is a fine Australian amateur sleuth with strong police procedural elements. The story line is fast-paced especially when the heroine makes inquires or when the villain takes center stage. Though the romance seems more like an unnecessary subplot that is tagged on to bring extra sexual tension between the cop and the model, Tara Moss writes an intriguing thriller that will hook her audience from the opening gamut when the killer murders Cat and never slows down until the final karma is settled.

Into the Fire
Richard Laymon
ISBN: 0843956151, $24.00

Rodney Pinkham tells his captive handcuffed Pamela that he has loved her from the moment he first saw her at Sally's thirteenth birthday party, but he figures she was like the others calling him piggy behind his back. Since his obsession took hold, he calmly as a matter of fact informs her that he has killed fifteen females and her husband Jim to get to her. No one, but he is to have her as she will be his slave for life. He takes her into the Mohave . She tries to escape and in the subsequent brawl Rodney is about to kill her when the shot is fired and he falls off her with a bullet in his forehead. Pamela is on a strange bus filled with mannequins and a driver who insists on nobody talking to him while he is at the wheel. When he stops to dump Rodney's corpse he introduces himself as Sharpe. Quiet Norman picks up Duke and Boots, but soon the trio meets up with the glory bus that Sharpe is driving to Pits, California. Not all will ever leave the bus; those who do cannot leave town which has a population in single digits; Pamela knows she has jumped INTO THE FIRE. Richard Laymon writes a weird horror tale that leaves the audience wondering what eerie escape will occur next forcing the beguiled stunned fan into a one sitting read. The story line never slows down from the moment Rodney informs his prisoner of his fixation until the final mannequin count. INTO THE FIRE is a dark grim tale that stars fully developed characters in nightmarish environs with judgment day occurring in the Mojave Desert with sentencing being an eternal bus ride.

Justice Served
R. Barri Flowers
ISBN: 0843955627, $6.99

The media has latched on to a new feeding frenzy, the Vigilante Killer targeting abusive males who escaped punishment due to plea-bargains, frightened hung juries, or bogus legal wiggles. Detective Sergeant Ray Barkley and Detective Nina Preston lead the investigation that has two other links besides the so-called victims being abusive male predators. All the dead men walked free after their assault case was heard in the courtroom of Criminal Court Judge Carole Cranston and their female victims recovered at the Rose City Women's Shelter; coincidentally or vigilante Judge Cranston donates plenty of money to the facility. Nina believes the circumstantial evidence enhanced by the Judge's attitude towards male abusers make her, the guilty party. On the other hand Ray likes the Judge and is convinced she is innocent. Nina assumes he is thinking with the wrong head. Is Carole a frustrated judge who has crossed the line or just the foci of an avenging angel? The magic behind R. Barri Flowers' terrific suspense thriller is that the serial killer is in plain sight as the clues are laid out for the audience to determine whether Carole is the Vigilante or not. The story line is action-packed as the two cops follow leads that each interprets differently as Ray wants Her Honor innocent while Nina is totally convinced otherwise. Fans of police procedural serial killer thrillers will want to read this fine tale while anxiously waiting to follow the next investigation, the opening tickler being the abduction of the Mayor's daughter.

A Knight's Honor
Connie Mason
ISBN: 0843954639, $6.99

As a teen Mariah married elderly Edmond, the Earl of Mildenhall because he hoped to leave an heir behind, but he failed. Now Edmond is dying and his abusive brother Osgood will inherit the title and estate leaving Mariah with nothing but grief over the loss of a man she considers a beloved father in spite of their attempts to have an offspring. Osgood makes it clear once he inherits that she can stay only if she marries his son Walter, a chip off the cruelty block. King Henry's loyal knight Sir Falcon arrives at Castle Mildenhall injured following an ambush. The wily Edmond persuades Mariah to sleep with the knight. Five years later, Henry sends Sir Falcon to resolve a legitimacy claim. Sir Osgood and Walter insist that the dead Edmond's son Robbie could not have been his as the man was too ill to have had sex. Osgood claims he is the legal earl and demands Mariah marry his son even threatening to harm Robbie. Mariah is attracted to Falcon but fears what will happen if he learns the truth about the deceptions she and her late husband played on him. Though the theme is very typical of the medieval romance, A KNIGHT'S HONOR is a strong historical tale filled with a solid cast including the specter of the intelligent caring deceased Edmond who readers will appreciate his deception in which the end actually justified the means. The story line is character driven though loaded with action as Osgood and Mariah for different reasons need to act fast before Falcon learns the full truth. Connie Mason writes an intriguing novel that fans will treasure due to the tense interaction between the strong characters.

Christmas Cards from the Edge
Jennifer Ashley, Lisa Cach & Naomi Neale
Making It (Leisure)
ISBN: 0505526573, $6.99, 354 pp.

"Return to Sender" by Lisa Cache. In Seattle, Lauren introduces her visiting cousin Ian to her housemate Tessa. Though Tessa has Kevin, they hit off instantly, but in a few days his holiday will end and he will go back to Scotland. Will they have fond memories of loving and laughing together or will there be more in their future? "The Single Girl's Guide to Christmas" by Jennifer Ashley. Angie is author of a Christmas guidebook for single women that have made the extended lists. Now after a horrible TV appearance, she heads home to Sonoma, California for the holidays. There her past, present and future come together as her former lover Sean is also visiting and her desire for him remains magnetically strong. "O Little Town of Kettlebean" by Naomi Neale. Newly promoted to Broadway stage manager and looking forward to her first show, Riley is stranded in Kettlebean, New York where she meets mechanic Leo and his eccentric family. The townsfolk are putting on a holiday pageant and would like Riley to help them, but she feels this is beneath her until Leo and an Angel persuade Scroogette otherwise. These are three fine Yuletide chick lit novellas that fans of the sub-genre will appreciate as the lead couples are solid protagonists and the support cast bring out the Christmas spirit. Though no "edge", the contributions are warm and uplifting bringing a merry cheer to readers.

If The Shoe Fits
Stephanie Rowe
Making It (Leisure)
ISBN: 0843955619, $12.95, 323 pp.

It looks like PWJ, Inc; the company that is making Sfoam (a cushioning system for running shoes) is going to go belly-up because none of the foot wear companies are willing to give it a chance. Paris Jackson, a runner who created the concept is ready to throw in the towel due to a lack of funds when her ex-husband Greg, a venture capitalist, comes to town five years after he left her one month into their marriage. Paris has a no commitment relationship with Will, one of the scientists who developed Sfoam but he is very unhappy that Greg is back in town. His possessiveness makes commitment shy Paris back away from him and move closer to Greg while she fantasizes about her boss who is about to fire her because her work at the bank has suffered because of the hours she puts in at PWJ. When Will and Paris officially break off, Greg is there ready to pick up the pieces and help her run the company. Paris has to find out what she needs to make herself happy before she can make any decisions about the firm or the men in her life. This is as much a character study as it is a chick lit tale. There are many funny scenes as well as serious moments. Readers come too really like and care for the vulnerable protagonist. Stephanie Rowe knows how to grab and keep reader interest as IF THE SHOE FITS is a terrific reading experience. This is an author who makes chick-lit tales deep and enriching novels.

Dear Enemy
Jack Cavanaugh
ISBN: 0764223100, $12.99

During World War II, American nurse Annie Rawlings married Keith Mitchell only to have their honeymoon canceled due to a mission need. Annie has worked with the dying and maimed and believes the Nazis and for that matter all Germans are evil deserving only death for the atrocities they have fostered on people. A rescue mission behind enemy lines in Belgium fails leaving Annie held prisoner by a wounded German soldier Karl who killed her beloved Keith. As he keeps her safe she helps heal him and they forge camaraderie through a love of music and faith that God will save humanity. As they become more than friends, Karl is captured and becomes a POW. This should be the end of a war torn yet warm relationship, but Annie needs to at least know her Karl is safe so after the war ends she begins her search. This is a terrific historical fiction novel that grips the audience with an opening paradox that sets the tone of a tale that uses irony and contradiction to tell a powerful human tale. The story line occurs during World War II in which the heroine loathes all Germans until she is forced into close quarters with the soldier who killed her spouse. Annie soon realizes he is a young caring nice man caught in the maelstrom of brutal misunderstandings by old men who send others to fight and die (history repeats itself). With a character driven anti-war message DEAR ENEMY peels away the armor to reach the souls of two foes leaving the inside for the audience to realize that we are human so let's give peace a chance.

Noble Fugitive
T. Davis Bunn & Isabella Bunn
ISBN: 0764228595, $12.99

In 1832, Alessandro Gavi decides to move his family from Venice to America. However in Portsmouth his stepdaughter Serafina, used to having her way having been raised in affluence, flees the ship to find her true love, her former tutor Luca. Her plan fails and for the first time in her life she has to make her way without her father's wealth. She obtains work as a chambermaid at Harrow Hall as she lacks any marketable skills. At the same time that Serafina seeks employment, sea Captain John Falconer eludes thugs who want to silence him before he reveals the outrageous slave trade practices to the Parliament. John and Serafina meet with both extremely attracted to one another. However, duty and honor comes first so he sends her away to keep her safe while he tries to complete his quest. Book three of the Heirs of Acadia is an entertaining historical tale. Serafina is an interesting protagonist as she chases after the only person she feels treated her nicely ever since her biological father died, but instead finds she has given up luxury and needs to work with no time to sleuth. John is a courageous person trying to do the right thing by exposing the odious slave trade practice, but his morals place him and Serafina at risk. Though less inspirational than the previous two tales, NOBLE FUGITIVE is a fine early nineteenth century saga.

MacDougal Street Ghosts
Hesper Anderson
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074322924X, $23.00

In her fifties, successful Hollywood screenwriter Callie Hyde Epstein is leaving her home in Studio City to a writer's village in the Northern California woods. As she packs, Callie thinks back to the years here as a single mom raising three children, all having left the nest. Still the shocker is the buried box of home movies from her married times in the late 1960s in Greenwich Village. Callie starts to watch the movies, which focus on her then spouse Irwin and their three children as they lived in one of the townhouses that aligned MacDougal Gardens. Her children and other played together while their parents flirted with one another until a bored and tired Callie turned to neighbor Sam Messenger for lessons in sex. Tired of Irwin the ad exec she dumps him for Sam, but finds nothing to further foster inner harmony except mother's little helper pills prescribed by a string of uninvolved psychiatrists. That is until she takes the three kids to L.A. Callie is an interesting lead character whose metamorphosis from stay at home having affair motherhood to confident employed single mom makes for a fine historical tale as the heroine looks back to the defining moments that changed her life. This gives the tale an autobiographical feel as fans see 1960s lower Manhattan mostly through Callie's prism. However, that also leads to the key other two characters in the triangular relationship that changes her seemingly one dimensional as the audience never gets to understand what motivates either Irwin or Sam. Still MACDOUGAL STREET GHOSTS is a solid character study that fans will enjoy reading.

The One That Got Away
C. Kelly Robinson
ISBN: 0451216636, $13.50, 288 pp.

Executive Tony Gooden has two goals in life. He plans to make a lot of money and to use his wealth to fully enjoy the life of a single. He is succeeding at both as he is rising fast up the corporate ladder and has no problem scoring with the women. Life is perfect until he sees his college sweetheart Serena Kincaid at the wedding of his college roommate in Chicago. Years ago Tony let Serena marry someone else though he foolishly crashed the wedding in an almost Mrs. Robinson scenario, but finally moved on with a string of models. Now seeing her, he wants her more than life itself. Serena has her own troubles with her marriage to Jamie collapsing. She wants Tony, but figures on a one night stand to forget her troubles at least for an evening. Both have the best night of their lives, but he needs more while she has doubts after one failed marital relationship and their previous history. Still he heads to Cincinnati to make his case. THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY is a fabulous contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists who belong together yet somehow never took the next step. Instead they went their separate ways, but have a second chance at love if both take the risk to their respective hearts. The story line focuses on the changing triangular relationship between Tony, Serena and Jamie who still wants his wife at his side (among other women) and uses their daughter to achieve his objective. Fans will welcome this fine Midwest tale due to the fully developed cast who because they seem real make choosing so difficult to decide.

Heart of the Dove
Tina St. John
ISBN: 0345459962, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1275 Randwulf of Greycliff lives for revenge only. He needs to kill sorcerer Silas de Montaine and send the magician's changeling beasts back to the hell they came from because they killed his wife Elspeth and six year old son Tod. Randwulf possesses part of an ancient artifact that gives him hope of succeeding in his endeavor and currently sails to Scotland to pick up another segment when he is attacked by one of the beasts. He and the beast fall overboard where he kills the evil thing, but he is forced to swim to safety as his ship has kept sailing. On a deserted beach he meets Serena and her mother Calandra. Serena can see a man's darkest secrets by touching them so she avoids doing such. However, they touch several times and she realizes he is a bitter person seeking to avenge a terrible affront. As they become closer while he heals physically she helps him also mend his torn soul and heart, but Silas remains at lodge with plans to conquer the world. Though the emphasis is on the historical romantic elements, there is plenty of fantasy segments in this fine thirteenth century tale caused by Serena's touch which can see your deepest feelings (nice barometer on whether someone loves you). The intriguing story line grips the audience as Serena enables Randwulf to regain the soul he lost when the evil Montaine killed his family, but his quest still remains strong.

Retief's Peace
William H. Keith
ISBN: 1416509003, $25.00

On planet B'ruckley in the Shamballa Cluster, the protests for peace are growing though the natives are not involved except as observers. The local diplomatic corps wants to make no waves against the Peace Movement that could cost a careerist their job and pension even as the evidence grows that this group wants theTerrans to leave. Second Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne Jame Retief finds the reaction of the Terran Diplomats normal as a bureaucrat's first job is to save one's flank. He has major concerns over the concept of leaving this plant without protection from alien invaders as the Peace Movement demands. Retief begins to make inquiries to determine who stands to gain the most if the seemingly innocent student protestors succeed and the Terrans depart until he concludes that the feral Krll want this orb without any real opposition. His peers need him out of the way so they can save their butts, but that will not stop Retief. William H. Keith captures the essence of Keith Laumer's Retief in this fine satirical action-packed science fiction thriller. The story line is fast-paced, but owned by Retief who employs his own methods to insure the job is done correct. His understanding of the Terrans is priceless especially in light of what has happened with the hurricane though in the latter case the politicos and their appointees at all levels failed leading to CYA with bush league comments of not me - the others screwed up. RETIEF'S PEACE is a strong deep outer space entry in a wonderful series that timely highlights the objectives of the top layers of the bureaucracy within a mano a Krll confrontation.

At All Costs
David Weber
ISBN: 1416509119, $26.00

The deadly war between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People's Republic of Haven has heated up after a short lived cease fire with the Havenites firing the first shots in the new hostilities because of a belief that their enemies altered key documents. However, Haven President Eloise Pritchart has since learned that a member of her inner circle altered the documents to reignite the war. Though she believes her side can win, the cost is high so she seeks peace. Eloise is willing to meet with the Manticore ruler Queen Elizabeth to broker an agreement. Queen Elizabeth knows that her side is on the brink of defeat. She assigns her only victorious military officer Admiral Honor Harrington to lead the Eighth Fleet. Honor is pregnant so must tend to her unborn yet still return to the front where her side desperately needs her unusual but successful strategic leadership. She has the fetus removed to mature in the safety of a tube, but worries that her enemies might use her child as a pawn against her. Still duty calls. The latest Honor Harrington tale has the twist that the heroine (at least to the Manticore side - the devil to the Havenites) is pregnant, but has a war to fight. Placing the fetus into a tube reminded this reader of the song In the year 2525. The story line is action-packed yet character driven, which is typical of David Weber's tales. Fans of military science fiction in which full societies are involved will want to read this entire series though each book including the fabulous AT ALL COSTS can stand alone in spite of references to previous events (from both sides of the conflict).

A Heartbeat Away
Maureen Smith
ISBN: 158314532X, $5.99

IN DC nine teens attending a party fall into comas. Though the Capital police and the FBI investigate what happened, DEA becomes involved when the bodies of each one contains a substance similar to Ecstasy. With her pharmaceutical background DEA assigns Samille Broussard to work with the FBI on the case. FBI Agent Brant Kincaid does not believe the rookie Samille is ready to tackle such a dangerous case as she has been out of the academy only six months. She on the other hand is elated to work with the professional who she believes can teach her so much about field work, but also has dreamed of leisure activities since they first met at the FBI Academy. Brant quickly admits that Samille seems to have a way with the students and more so with him as they make inquiries intoto what happened. However, neither is aware of the danger from someone who plans to make a fortune with the newest designer drug on the street. A HEARTBEAT AWAY is a terrific romantic suspense thriller that showcases two wonderful federal law enforcement heroes. The story line is action-packed, but does not neglect the growing attraction between the lead couple; in fact the hard nosed hero is so distracted by his feisty intelligent partner he almost blows the case. Though a final twist seems unnecessary and subtracts from a great thriller, fans will enjoy this look into the illegal world of designer drugs, a classic supply and demand case of the market at work.

One, Two & Even
Jeff Sherratt
Marlowe, Spade and Archer
ISBN: 0975272128, $15.95

His office assistant Mabel is on LAPD cop turned lawyer Jimmy O'Brien's case for accepting only pro bono clients like Henry "Buck" Simpson who is obviously going back to prison. That is until the sheriff's department informs Jimmy that he hung himself in his holding cell. Jimmy rejects suicide as the career criminal was upbeat and even looking forward to playing in a prison baseball game. He asks a favor of his pal Sol Silverman of Silverman Investigations who learns that Buck was stabbed three times. Jimmy keeps digging into Buck's death while his associate Rita works a seemingly open and shut bank robbery case. That is until Laura calls Jimmy pleading for him to put on his halo as he did nine months ago. He rushes to her home in Beverly Hills, a long way from Van Nuys, to find her husband of six months Arnie Rosenthal, the meat packing king, dead with an apparent suicide note nearby. Detectives Corshank and Barnes find discrepancies that lead them to conclude homicide occurred and that the wife and her lover Jimmy did the deed. Though he has a paying client on the one hand for a change, Jimmy also realizes he must prove his innocence. ONE, TWO, & EVEN is an entertaining legal thriller especially when Jimmy quotes precedence in courtrooms and challenges Corshank with rights. The exciting story line is also supported by a solid investigative subplot and a terrific secondary cast, but clearly this is Jimmy's tale. Fans will enjoy this fun novel and seek the previous O'Brien story, SIX TO FIVE AGAINST.

Secrets of the Widow's Son: The Mysteries Surrounding the Sequel to the Da Vinci Code
David A. Shugarts
ISBN: 1402728190, $17.95

David A. Shugarts analyzed Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Codes and predicted the sequel, the upcoming Solomon Key. This time Mr. Shugarts' explains what he perceives will be "the mysteries surrounding the sequel to the Da Vinci Code" as it impacts today and influenced America's past. However that would mislead the audience as SECRETS OF THE WIDOW'S SON is an interpretation of facts to include a look at the backgrounds of the Founding Fathers not just Washington, but Pike a Freemason and just who the Freemason were and are, the number of key buildings with religious symbols on them and what those symbols means, and the design of the city in a biblical context. Though alleging that his text will provide the key to understand Mr. Brown's upcoming sequel (will not know until the latter is released), conspiracy buffs will appreciate this alternate look at history at a time when Church vs. State controversy reach the Supreme Court. Though some like this reviewer will be reminded of Erich Von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods in which "historiography" plays a major role in the interpretation or perhaps the movie Fillard Millmore in which the Founding Fathers were considered Gods by the year 3000, Mr. Shugarts provides an entertaining educational book, but readers need to remain open-minded for other interpretations (perhaps a key to the Shugarts' key is forthcoming).

Natural Selection
Liz Wolfe
ISBN: 1932815228, $6.99, 325 pp.

Former Portland homicide detective Paige Blackwell has become more than just a private investigator as she has bought a thirty percent share of Parker Security Investigations. Now she has to find a way to pay for it and it looks like Lady Luck has dealt her a winning hand when TV producer Wader Culver offers Paige a chance to become a member of the team for the ultimate reality show Xtreme Survival. Paige agrees and flies to a Caribbean Island with five other group participants. The plan is to survive as a group in the wilderness for two weeks and each member receives, $50,000 dollars. The pilot who flies them to their locale accidentally overhears a conversation in which Wade and three other men plan to hunt and kill the group. He warns them in time for Paige, as the team leader to hold the group together while evading the hunters and seeking a way off the island. When the group compares notes they find that each one has been involved in some way with Eastland Industries. If they get off the island Paige is determined to find out who wants six innocent people dead. NATURAL SELECTION is the ultimate cat and mouse thriller as the cats have all kind of weaponry and the mice have to scurry about if they want to stay alive. The action scenes are breathtaking and very visual so that readers actually feel what the group is feeling. The characters, including the secondary cast, are well developed and enhance each other's skills forging a good team. Readers will definitely enjoy this adrenaline pumping heart stopping thriller.

Horse Passages
Jennifer Macaire
ISBN: 1932815120, $9.99

Their parents and their younger sister were abducted by the enigmatic Raiders, but their father managed to save his twins Carl and Meagan Cadet. They miss their family, but both know that no one has ever escaped from Raider captivity. Though dangerous they continue to herd the horses that somehow open passages between planets. The Cadets are on Tauii 3 when the wild Jeffries bunch arrives on the scene with their herd. However an accident occurs with the youngest brother dying from a fall. The oldest Luke goes into depression, but the shy Meagan pulls him out of it. Not long afterward, Raiders arrive to capture Meagan and Luke and his herd; Carl, Luke's siblings and the Cadet herd escape. The Raiders take Meagan and Luke to join other prisoners working the mines on some isolated orb. Escape seems impossible, but each takes a turn encouraging the other to keep up the hope even as they begin to fall in love, but are too tired to do much more than sleep near each other. HORSE PASSAGES is an action packed science fiction coming of age thriller that grips the audience from the moment the Jeffries and their herd land on Tauii 3. The story line is action-packed, but key cast members are not neglected as the audience will fully understand why Meagan stutters, what drove the Jeffries to behave like the world will end tomorrow, and slowly over the course of the tale learn much of what motivates the Raiders. Though why herders would continue to do this type of dangerous work is somewhat explained the benefits are not. Still Jennifer Macaire provides a creative intriguing outer space tale.

Knight's Legacy
Trenae Sumter
ISBN: 1932815007, $6.99, 300 pp.

In 2000 on location in Scotland, stuntwoman Catherine "Cat" Terril sees a strange looking elderly man who tells her to follow her heart and seemingly vanishes. She assumes her peers pulled a prank on her, but still follows in the direction she saw him disappear. Before she knows what happens she opens a door, takes a step, and falls into a freezing lake. Angus, the son of abusive local clan leader Colum Mackay, captures Cat and concocts a plot to save their lives from the wrath of King Alexander. Cruel Colum needs his daughter Brianna to marry Roderic de Montwain to assuage the regal, but she eloped with Alistair Kincaid, brother to another Laird. The Mackays warn Cat to cooperate or else and quickly marries her off to Roderic as Brianna. When she first sees Roderic Cat knew she has found her soulmate, but this is 1320 and she was born over six centuries into the future; her actions leave Roderic to wonder if he has fallen in love with a mad woman. This fun time travel romance will thrill readers as the key males assume that Cat is mad because of how she behaves so unlike the ladies of the century. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed with the Mackays' plotting while Roderic wonders why the seemingly intelligent Vat is off balance mentally. Though her work allows her ease of adjustment, fans will appreciate the historical Scottish romance between the stuntwoman and the warrior laird.

F.M. McPherson
ISBN: 1932815309, $9.99, 300 pp.

Mike Jaeger is an ordinary high school student until one day he starts seeing and hearing things, voices from the Pack calling him to join them. His hair starts to grow all over his body and he has retractable claws that come out when he is under stress or angry. His best friend Dave thinks he's schizophrenic\c but the truth is more frightening than that. Mike isn't human. He is part of the Pack, a hominid group of beings that has fought humans for over forty thousand years in retaliation for what they did to the Pack-sister/mother. Mike's mother is not his biological mother but a host for his father/brother's seed. He is a clone of his father and has the genetic memory of all the Pack members that ever lived. His father Paul spent years trying to forget he was Pack but Mike is not Paul even though they are clones of one another. He needs to learn how to live in a human environment without giving in to his instincts to hunt humans otherwise he will go insane. Dave anchors him to the real world while Mike deals with the demons of his mind that he fights to subdue. This is a coming of age story that is refreshingly different because Mike is Pack yet has human emotions. The bond between Mike and the human Dave is beautiful to behold, a friendship that is true and pure. The protagonist's father almost destroys his family because of his need to deny what he is. There are many lessons that young adults take away from SECRETS but learning is easy because it is told in a fantasy context so as not to overwhelm the reader.

Time Camera
Terence Lee
ISBN: 1412053900, $23.56

Mathematical computer genius Zak Endecott invents a laser based method to break through the time continuum. Using a secretly modified video camera, Zak can record the past though he has no means of seeing the future. His tests prove successful culminating with a video of Jack the Ripper in action followed by the Mutiny on the Bounty. Zak and his girlfriend Lucy Bart see an opportunity to make big bucks with his eye on history device. However, they soon uncover events that contradict known history starting with Trotsky in attendance at the murder of Rasputin and then Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, at Versailles meting with Benjamin Franklin. However, their work has come to the attention of rival groups wanting to rule the world. The AA, Weishaupt's secret organization, controls the West while the Brotherhood, target the destruction of the West starting with the AA. British historian and AA assassin Eric Simmonds wants Zak and Lucy to use the camera to destroy the Brotherhood, who have plans focused on the Vatican's upcoming revelation involving the third secret of Fatima. TIME CAMERA is an enlightening science fiction thriller that grips the audience from the moment Zak records the Ripper and never slows down until the final Vatican confrontation. Conspiracy buffs will especially appreciate this engaging look at history while readers who appreciate deep underlying science theory like string theory will also want to read this fine illuminating tale and the accompanying bibliography. The exhilarating story line is fast-paced even with strong scientific support simplified for the audience to comprehend but especially once the delightful lead combo Zak and Lucy realize they have uncovered anachronisms and are way in over their heads.

This Rake of Mine
Elizabeth Boyle
ISBN: 0060783990, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1801, Miranda Mabberly has some doubts about her upcoming marriage to Lord Oxley as he and her parents fail to defend her honor besmirched by her future mother-in-law. However, things are taken out of her hands when notorious rake Lord John Tremont blatantly accosts and kisses her at the opera. The nuptials are over and her parents blame Miranda, completely cutting her off. After five years of begging her parents to let her come home and learning her mother died without anyone bothering to inform her, Miranda writes off her father. She takes a job as decorum teacher Miss Jane Porter at Miss Emily's Establishment for the Education of Genteel Young Ladies. After five years there she has inherited a small fortune so she plans to leave, but not before John visits the school to escort his disgraced niece home. He runs into Jane, but fails to recognize her though she knows him. Edged on by three matchmaking youngsters, John begins to court Jane who rejects the advances of a rake though they soon fall in love, but to persuade her remains impossible. THIS RAKE OF MINE is an enjoyable regency romance that in many ways is typical of the sub-genre with a rake getting his comeuppance through love. The story line is refreshed by Miranda who gives up on those who should have rallied around her when she concludes that she will always be held culpable for the actions of John. This gives her the courage to move on and not to fear challenging the aristocracy including John and his older brother. Fans will enjoy this fine historical pot boiler starring an admirable heroine and the wastrel she reforms.

It's Never Too Late to Get a Life
Heather Estay
ISBN: 0060762500, $12.95

In Sacramento eighteen months ago Angie Hawkins heard Bob, her husband of twenty-six years making kissy sounds over the phone to the Neighborhood Watch Captain a zillion pounds overweight Clarisse. When challenged, Bob says: "let's cuts to the chase"; explaining he made bad investments, is divorcing Angie to avoid bankruptcy by moving in with wealthy Clarisse. Their children side with their mom as they never liked their dad. Her three "best" friends form the Save Angie Crisis Intervention Team (Jessica, Gwen, and Marie) though each one detests the other two, but all agree Bob stinks and always has. For Angie's birthday, she has a separate meal with each of her three best friends. They are in accord that Angie needs a night of blinding sex to get out of the coma that Bob left her in and they accordingly make arrangements. This is a fun lighthearted contemporary chick lit tale starring a forty something woman recovering from being dumped by her spouse with the help of her adult children and her friends, who cannot share the same planet together. Angie is a wonderful bewildered heroine in and out of her GI Joe costume struggling to get on feet starting on her back. Though fluffy (even with its serious undertone of moving on) and avoiding the aging gravity phenomena that physically kills all of us, Angie makes Heather Estay's debut worth reading.

A Quick Bite
Lynsay Sands
ISBN: 0060773758, $6.99, 384 pp.

Psychologist Dr. Greg Hewitt closes the office feeling rather good because officially his first vacation since seemingly forever has just begun. He had eight years of practice and school before that with no time off, but now he is going to spend R&R in Mexico at least that is what he thought. Instead he has been abducted and finds himself tied up on a bed. Vampiress Lissianna Argeneau has a minor problem; she becomes ill at the sight of blood. Thus to feed she barbarically selects humans instead of the civilized modern use of blood banks. Her mother thinks she has found the cure tied up currently on Lissianna's bed. Lissianna is taken aback that her thirtieth birthday present is Dr. Greg Hewitt, who demands his freedom. Instead to everyone's shock, Lissianna desires her doctor who reciprocates her feelings. The Argeneau brood don't know whether it is his the strength of his will and mind or simply love, but the vampires cannot expunge his memory of them, especially Lissianna. The latest biting vampire romance starts a bit slow as Lissianna explains in detail the species vampire to Greg, but once the tale moves past that to the growing relationship between the psychologist and the neck biter the plot accelerates. Lissianna is an interesting person struggling with her phobia that makes her dine the old fashion way rather than the "normal" sack lunch take out from the blood bank. Greg is her ideal other half as he so not mind A QUICK LOVE BITE. Lynsay Sands' latest paranormal romance is amusing once the plot turns to eating in.

Let It Be Love
Victoria Alexander
ISBN: 0060593202, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1853 Marquis Jonathon Effington knows he must marry to sire an heir, but so far has failed to find any woman worth keeping as a wife. He also enjoys writing stories, but uses an anonymous name to get them published, but not with much success. Every Christmas, his family hosts a ball in which Jonathon spends the evening in bed with a lady. However, something goes awry as instead of his selection waiting breathlessly in his bed, Fiona Fairchild sits in his room patiently instead of breathlessly waiting for his arrival. She insists that she must marry in order to save herself and her three sisters from the poorhouse. Jonathon accepts her proposal assuming his friends are pulling a prank on him. However, when he realizes she was not joking, his honor demands he wed her. They delay marriage to try a business deal to make money selling her erotic art enhancing his stories, but he begins to change his mind about marrying his siren, which means no other sale is allowed. The eleventh Effington Victorian romance is an enjoyable tale starring an intrepid lead female protagonist and an honorable but rakish male counterpart. The story line is fun to follow as Jonathon assumes his merry prankster pals are pulling a stunt on him only to quickly find out the chit was telling the truth about the situation confronting her and her siblings. LET IT BE LOVE is a lighthearted historical romantic romp that is fun to read.

Cinnamon Kiss
Walter Mosley
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316073024, $24.95

In 1968 Los Angeles with the Watts riot over but fresh in everyone's minds Easy Rawlins needs money to take his beloved daughter Feather to the specialized Bonatelle Clinic in Switzerland; the cost is, $35,000. At the Cox Bar, his pal Mouse suggests they hold up an armored vehicle, but after almost running over a mother with babies, Easy decides that is to dangerous of an approach to gaining the money especially since he is over the edge and fears everything will go wrong and then his daughter will have nobody. Instead he obtains work from a white friend, private investigator Saul Lynx who gets him a job in San Francisco with mysterious sleuth Robert E. Lee to locate two missing persons for, $10K. Though expecting treachery as no one outside of entertainment pays a black man with cash, Easy searches for wealthy attorney Axel Bowers and his assistant lover, Cinnamon Cargill, who have vanished. The easy Rawlins late 1960s tales are some of the best historical suspense thrillers on the market over the past few years. CINNAMON KISS is a terrific tale that once again showcases the lot of a black man in 1968 California while providing a deep light on the period. Easy is fabulous struggling to send his beloved child to Europe for treatment that is not available in L.A. If you have not read his adventures you are missing a treat because his escapades are enlightening and entertaining.

Sean Rowe
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316011746, $19.95

In a Miami bar overlooking the Government Cut waterway, former FBI Agent turn cruise line security chief Matt "Loose Cannon" Shannon is having his usual run of bourbon when his stepbrother Jack Fontana arrives having been released from the pen three years early. Jack discusses a freighter passing by and his time as a defrocked drug agent used in blanket party sex by his peers. He hands Matt a small video game for him to try. Jack hits what he assumes is the on button, sees the word bang on the screen, and the freighter blows up. "Vanishing Jack" disappears with the box that contains Matt's prints all over it. The Feds assume it is terrorism although no one steps forth claiming the deed. Jack demands Matt arrange for him and his comrades to board the Festival Cruise Line ship Norwegian Empress when it next travels to Cuba. The plan is to rob those on board the luxury liner. Matt seeks out of Jack's cleverly arranged trap, but sees no escape except to cooperate, but other players have agendas that cause collateral damage leaving people dead and more probably about to die unless Matt risks his freedom and his life by playing hero. FEVER takes off with its opening bang and never slows down until the final confrontation with Matt's wife. The story line is action-packed as Matt gets in deeper and deeper while the Norwegian Empress is hijacked with several dead including members of Jack's team. Surprisingly the roguish Jack is the more fascinating character though Matt has his moments. Sean Rowe provides an adrenaline burner that starts at hyperspeed and accelerates from there.

Joanna Scott
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316010537, $23.95, 240 pp.

Sixty years have passed since the war, but Adriana Rundel still remembers like it was yesterday. In fact just yesterday she celebrated her seventieth birthday with her spouse Robert and their children. This morning as she rides the commuter train from her Jersey Suburban home through Newark to Manhattan, she suffers a heart attack and quickly vanishes inside her memories of WWII hidden by her affluent family from the Nazis as a ten years old Jewish girl on the isle of Elba. In 1944 on Elba, Adriana Nardi sees the teenage apparently AWOL Senegalese soldier Amdu Diop, who is hurt, separated from his unit, and trying to hide. As she tries to help the injured bungling soldier, she also becomes infatuated with him while he hopes to become a savior of mankind. However, her family will tragically soon intercede. LIBERATION is a well written character study that compares the present with the past in the life of a survivor. Intriguingly Mrs. Rundel does the comparison between her exciting but dangerous childhood during WWII especially once her soldier enters her life to the boring but safe septuagenarian she has become. Though the other passengers on the Penn Station bound train seem like intruders on a personal tale between the lead protagonist and the audience, fans of powerfully profound dramas will treasure Joanna Scott's insightful tale.

Rendezvous at Kamakura Inn
Marshall Browne
ISBN: 0312311583, $23.95, 288 pp.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Inspector Hideo Aoki and his squad have worked for almost a year and half of double shifts to gather evidence to prove criminal wrong doing of former Governor Yukio "Fatman" Tamaki. As they close in on the Fatman, the Director General informs Hideo the case is closed because the ex-public official is now considered above the law. To Hideo the Fatman wielded some of his major political and monetary influences to force the cops to back down. Making matters even worse for Hideo is that the brass sends him into exile as befitting a failure. He travels to the remote Kamakura Inn to investigate in what is assumed a nonentity murder. Instead Hideo soon finds ties to the notorious Fatman even as other killings occur, which he knows if he surfaces before he has airtight proof against the Fatman he will be yanked again and further humiliated with an even more remote exile. The key to this wonderful Japanese police procedural is the stubborn Aoki, who in spite of being run out of town in a fall from grace manner continues to do his best; he refuses to allow the abusive treatment of him stop him from doing his job even before he connects the dots back to the Fatman case. While the fast-paced story line provides an insightful look at Japanese society mostly through the eyes of Aoki, RENDEZVOUS AT KAMAKURA INN is owned by the beleaguered hero.

The Regime
Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins
ISBN: 1414305761, $25.95, 273 pp.

After spending forty days in the desert, Nicolae Carpathia bows down to his master who is the deceiving Lucifer that he has worshipped these many years. He builds up his business and has as his advisors the woman who raised him and Leon Fortunoto, another disciple of Lucifer, who would rather be a kingmaker than a king. They eliminate their opponents, the incumbent to the lowest house of the Romanian government, listening to the spirit guides of the netherworld for future endeavors. Rayford Steele has attained his goal of becoming a pilot and has a wife who adores him and two great children. However, Rafe is bored with his marriage in part because his wife Irene has become an evangelical Christian and pressures her husband and daughter to be open to her beliefs and she prays that in time they will accept the evangelical approach to religion. Rafe is called on to make friends with the pro American, anti-terrorist Jordanian Abdullah Smith to get his idea on how to make flying on airplanes safer. Abdullah's life changes for the worse when his wife converts to Christianity against his wishes. Cameron "Buck" Williams achieves his goal of working for Global Weekly and is in Israel as the Russians invade the country. Readers learn about the characters who feature prominently in the Left Behind series and why they became the persons who were left behind during the rapture (except for Irene). Readers see how subtlety and cleverly Carpathia begins his rise to power, how he and Leon became partners and what are his true feelings about Viv Irving. The storyline is exciting and knowing what is to come will not distract from the audience's enjoyment of this book one iota.

Karen Kingsbury
ISBN: 0842387447, $13.99, 358 pp.

Popular and famous Hollywood action star Dayne Matthews has it all but deep down he feels empty inside. Katy Hart who refused a part in a movie with him after she was attacked by a stalker made him feel alive but she and Dayne live in two different worlds and a true Christian would never becomes involved with a man like him. Dayne is looking forward to seeing Katy in Bloomington where part of the film will be shot. Dayne knows that his biological family the Baxters live there but he won't reveal himself to them because he doesn't want to bring the ugliness of his world home to them. Katy who is the director of the Christian Kids' Theater (C KT), is dealing with the aftermath of two young children in the CKT having lost their lives to a drunken driver. The older teens want revenge but Katy tries to teach them that it is not their place to pass judgment. She also has to deal with the deep feelings she has for Dayne, knowing that nothing could ever come of them while he tries to find meaning in his life. Thanks to her, he is on the road to finding himself. This beautiful Christian inspirational novel has life lessons that reach out beyond religion. Dayne might have no choice in his decision not to introduce himself to the Baxters because his father has decided to search for him. The love the two protagonists feel for one another is beautiful although both believe for different reasons that they can't be together. Katy's nurturing abilities to every one she knows combined with her faith makes her a strong person who helps others through the tragedy. Karen Kingsbury has written a wonderful novel that makes readers feel hope.

The Last Sacrifice
Hank Hanegraaff & Sigmund Brouwer
ISBN: 0842384413, $19.99, 344 pp.

Once Vitas was part of Nero's inner circle until at a feast he tried to choke the emperor because the ruler planned to have his way with his wife Sophia, a follower of Christos. He was supposed to be sent to the arena to die but a group of powerful Romans set in motion a plan that would have someone else take his place while he was sent to Alexandria, with John, THE LAST DISCIPLE who wrote the letter of revelation on Patmos. The people who saved Vitas believe he has a chance of killing Nero once he gathers the puzzle pieces that they sent to various people in the empire and deciphers them. Vitas doesn't know that his Sophia mourns his death, not even receiving comfort from her belief in Christos. Damian, Vitas' brother and a slave hunter is looking for John to return him to Rome but Vitas convinces him to help him on his journey to Caesarea and Jerusalem to find out just what his saviors hope he can accomplish to rid the empire of an insane monarch. This second book in The Last Disciple's series is an exciting thriller as Vitas tries to stay one step ahead of his enemies while trying to figure out what role he is to play in toppling Nero from the throne. The authors have done such a good job of historical research that the audience will feel like they actually witness the events that occur in the novel. Thus readers will find this book so educational and entertaining they will finish it in one sitting.

Troublesome Creek
Jan Watson
ISBN: 1414304471, $12.99, 372 pp.

In 1881 in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, Grace and Will Brown argue over educating their daughter Laura, known by most as Copper. Grace wants to send her niece whom she adopted when her sister died to a fine school back east. Will, the biological father, wants Copper to stay at home. Copper wonders if her stepmother does not love her and how life would have been if her mom Julie has lived. At the same time, Grace knows she loves Will, but keeps a shameful secret from him; she threatened to give up the baby for adoption that her unmarried sister was carrying years ago. Instead Will married his beloved Julie and when she died came to Lexington to ask Grace to help raise her blood. These secrets threaten to cause more than trouble for a family that now include twin sons, but whose past has caught up to them and has hidden the love that everyone shares but fears stating let alone showing. TROUBLESOME CREEK is an entertaining character driven Americana tale that provides the audience a taste of life in Kentucky in which the impact of the Civil War lingers on over fifteen years since the hostilities ended. Interestingly Will, Grace, and even Laura struggle to admit they love one another because each fears that in some way will lessen their feeling towards the late Julie. In the case of Grace it is the secret; to Will it is his love for both sisters; finally to Laura it is what could have been. Though the action is limited even when Julie vanishes in the storm Jan Watson provides a strong late nineteenth century historical tale.

Jerry Jenkins
ISBN: 0842384146, $24.99, 299 pp.

World War III was a holy war with no winners as survivors eke out an existence on a decimated planet. Reactionaries felt that religion was the cause of all wars and for this reason religion was banned and people who prayed openly were declared traitors and arrested. The Nation Peace Organization was formed to find the underground zealots and arrest them and until recently Paul Stepola was one of their best agents. While hospitalized a believer talked to him and Paul eventually became a believer which was when his sight returned. He became a double agent, a mole who helped the believers whenever he could. With the oppression getting worse, the believers pray to God that the first born male of non-believers will die and He answers theirs their prayers proving to the world that he does exist since the underground announced the event before it happened. Neither Paul nor his son dies so the NPO knows that he is a believer. He and his family go on the run from the man who needs to punish his beliefs, his father in law, Ranold Decenti, the founder of the NPO. He wants his son-in-law his daughter and grandchildren punished for breaking the law. This futuristic thriller in which religion is banned and an organization is formed to find and execute the traitors to the one world government is Jerry Jenkins at his very best. The characters are well developed, there is plenty of action and the storyline is believable because with God, all things are possible. The protagonist is a hero who risks his life to save the believers and overthrow the ban on religion while the antagonist is a frighteningly believable opponent who is more interested in power and revenge than the ideology he once believed in.

The Judge Who Stole Christmas
Randy D. Singer
ISBN: 1400070570, $10.95

The ACLU filed in federal court that Possum, Virginia was violating the separation between State and Church with its annual Nativity gala. Resident Thomas Hammond who plays Joseph in the Manger show is subpoenaed to appear in the Norfolk Federal Courthouse. The University legal aid clinic assigns law student Jasmine "Jazz" Woodfaulk to "represent" Thomas in the courtroom though he is only a witness. Federal Judge Cynthia "Ichabod" Baker-Cline rules that the annual live Possum, Virginia nativity scene in the town square is unconstitutional. Thomas Hammond and his wife who play Joseph and Mary in the gala ignore the ruling as he is irate that the government will not allow the celebration of Christmas. For disobeying the court order, Thomas is held in contempt and jailed. The case soon receives national media attention as the TV and radio talk shows focus on Thomas spending prison time for his beliefs in honoring the nativity as more sensational to the media than the wider issue of separation of state and church vs. religious freedom. With the recent Supreme Court rulings on this topic, THE JUDGE WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS is a timely insightful look at the Constitution and the interpretation of the issue of public support to a particular religious theme. The story line grips the audience once the case comes before the Ichabod as readers obtain a deep understanding of the issues. Though the climax is perhaps a bit too smooth, fans of tales that dig deep into deep constitutional, religious, and social issues will appreciate this fine legal thriller.

The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God
Timothy Schaffert
ISBN: 1932961127, $14.95, 256 pp.

Hud Smith feels lonely since his wife Tuesday divorced him and he only sees his eight years old daughter Nina sporadically especially when his ex turns vindictive; his seventeen years old son Gatling never visits him. He knows Tuesday is not at fault re his boy as Gatling joined the traveling Daughters of God punk-gospel band. Hud realizes he is hurting as he fantasizes running away with his beloved Nina and even commiserates with an executed killer who murdered his wife and children writing mournful country ballads, odes to his woes. A desperate Hud wants his family back with him. He persuades Tuesday that they must "rescue" Gatling so they and Nina hit the road in a school bus he "borrows" in search of their son. As he dreams of reconciliation he knows he must do what is right for his family even if that means no second chance with Tuesday, but that thought is killing him. Hud is an eccentric protagonist whose ramblings, asides, and actions feel in some ways like a gender bending almost fortyish chick lit make that hunk tale. Hud hurts as he misses seeing his daughter on a regular basis and though he insists he hates Tuesday he knows he also yearns to be back in her life as her spouse. Readers will feel for him though believing he deserves much of the misfortune that has fallen on him; that is why this character study is so engaging even when the plot turns soap operaish as Timothy Schaffert obtains dueling emotions from his awed audience.

Tilt a Whirl
Chris Grabenstein
Carroll & Graf
ISBN: 0786715847, $23.95

After leaving the military former MP, John Ceepak relocates in the summer resort town of Sea Haven where he becomes the full time cop. He eats and sleeps law enforcement even when off the job as he studies anything and everything he can find related to the subject. He is currently assisted by summer cop twenty-four years old Danny Boyle, who hopes to pick up the visiting college females due to his uniform. Except for a love of Boss (Springsteen not Steinbrenner), these two officers share nothing else. That abruptly changes when someone knifes to death realtor Reginald Hart meeting his daughter Ashley at the TILT-A-WHIRL in the nearby rundown amusement park. Ashley blames druggie Squeegee, but working as a team for the first time, John and Danny investigate the homicide, which begins to take them elsewhere. TILT A WHIRL is a fabulous police procedural in which the murder investigation that seems solved before the cops even start brings the two law enforcement officials, so different in attitude and life goals, together. A special camaraderie forms as the professional Ceepak and the semi-amateur Boyle (whose only claim to semi is he does get paid) work a case that whirls away from the obvious into the opposite side of the tracks. Like the two police officers, readers will wonder who is telling the truth and what the motive for deception is.

Winter Moon
Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, CE Murphy
ISBN: 0373802390, $13.95

"Moontide" by Mercedes Lackey. At Sea Keep Moira na Ferson must choose between what her father wants of her and what her king demands of her, but she has always been independent and strong. Whichever sire she obeys will cause harm especially to her so being independent and strong and strictly adhering to the laws of marriage as they pertain to her, Moira heeds the advice of the Fool. "Heart of the Moon" by Tanith Lee. Warrior priestess Clirando once sought love, but instead received pain and a curse. She wears a mask to hide her inner hurt until she meets Zemetrios. As she begins to feel love again, she expects him to betray her as the curse will surely intercede unless he can get her to join him in questioning what they hold to be true, the greater truth of love. "Banshee's Cry" by. C E Murphy. Joanne Walker has vowed to never use her powers as a shaman, but soon has no choice but to rely on her "gift" for the good of her people. She must solve ritual homicides that have occurred under the full moon and can only do so by using that which she detests employing. These three romantic fantasies are well written tales of love between strong protagonists with the powerful females having the more obvious flaws; in fact the men seem underdeveloped in comparison. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy each novella that has a different spin making for a fine anthology.

Brighid's Quest
P.C. Cast
ISBN: 0373802420, $12.99, 400 pp.

The evil race of demon Fomorians kidnapped and raped the women of Partholon taking them into the Wastelands to bear their offspring. The Goddess Epona united the people of Partholon to defeat the demons and a century later touched Ephame who took as her mate a hybrid Falorian and drank his blood and took the madness that existed in the hybrids into her self. Now the descendants of the children of rape can go home to Partholon. Cu, whose lover was killed by one of the hybrids, goes to the wastelands to check out the New Fomarians to see if they are as good and gentle as his sister's lifemate says they are. Brighid, the female centaur goes after Cu and finds the seventy children and handful of adults pure of heart. When they return home, Brighid's sister comes to the keep to tell her that the centaurs are going to war because their High Shaman, Brighid's mother was killed by humans. Brighid, who was running away from her legacy, knows she must drink from the chalice of Epona and become her High Shaman, and fight her brother and his allies before the land is bathed in the blood of battle. Although Brighid is a centaur and Cu is human, they love each other and mate for life. Their marriage can only be consummated if Brighid drinks from the Chalice because then she will be able to shapeshift into human form. P. C. Cast has written a fascinating action packed romantic fantasy where true love can conquer all. Both hero and heroine go through many hardships and it is only through their love they feel they can overcome all their hardships. This is a special work that will appeal to a variety of readers.

Disappearing Nightly
Laura Resnick
ISBN: 0373802331, $13.99, 400 pp.

Actress Esther Diamond knows she should have had the lead of Venus in the play Sorcerers instead of Golly Gee but while she is the current understudy, she hopes that Golly will get sick and she will have the chance to play the part. During the latest performance, Golly steps into an ordinary crystal cage and when the illusion is supposed to be finished she is nowhere to be found. Esther anticipates going on stage as Venus the next day but she gets a letter warning her not to go in the crystal cage because "Evil is on the Loose." She reports the note to Connor a detective who thinks it is just a prank. In Esther's dressing room Maximilian Zadok materializes and tells her than another female disappeared while performing the same magic that and tells her he sent the note to save her because he is a mage who belongs to the Magnum Collegium, an organization that fight evil. Other women in the same situation also disappear and once Esther believes him, she decides to help him find what happened to the missing women, who is behind it and why. The sparks fly between the detective and the actress but he refused to give in to his feelings because he believes she is a fruitcake and a suspect. Combining elements from the romance, fantasy and mystery genres, DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY is an enchanting novel that will appeal to readers of all three genres. The mystery is well constructed leaving readers trying to figure out who is behind the disappearances. The heroine is at times funny and determined but always charming and believable.

Dead by Popular Demand
Teddy Hayes
Justin Charles
ISBN: 1932112235, $21.95, 240 pp.

Though not afraid to fight back, former CIA operative Devil Barnett wants a more peaceful coexistence as he owns and operates a Harlem bar. Meanwhile Grooveline Records President Max Hammill has the hot London based rap group Dancehall Dogz fly to New York in what the company expects will be the second British invasion. However, in Harlem two of the seven members of the group die in the same evening; Alan "Shogun" Leeds was decapitated and Lee "Man O War" Mainwaring overdosed. Knowing Devil's previous background, his pal Shelby Green pleads with him to investigate what happened to the English rappers as he does not trust the NYPD and besides feels "Tuffy" as he calls Devil is smarter, tougher, and will learn the truth. Devil agrees to do some preliminary inquiries, but soon others die as Harlem becomes a battleground with Devil aided by a Harlem based militia struggles with learning the truth starting with motives. The second Devil Barnett Harlem noir (see BLOOD RED BLUES) is an excellent who-done-it starring a street trained, CIA polished hero who tries to do the right thing out of loyalty to a long time friend. The story line is action-packed as Devil goes from one caper to another while escorting readers on a vivid but deadly tour of Harlem. As the investigation turns more complex, Devil turns more dangerous leading to a strong thriller filled with twists and red herrings.

The Xeno Solution
Nelson Erlick
ISBN: 076534971X, $6.99

Pigs have been genetically altered to eliminate viruses so that the organs of these animals can be used in humans without any pathogens crossing the species barrier. Thus the kidneys of pigs are being transplanted into humans. Dr. Scott Merritt looks over the patient data base of the Research of Animal Compatible Transplantation (IRACT), which shows thousands of records where success has occurred, but though much less many others died during or just after the medical procure was completed. As he begins to look at those recipients who died, Scott realizes the impossible has occurred. A pig virus has crossed over to humans. Even more devastating is that this pathogen has the potential of attacking those who never received a pig transplant. As he tries to sound the alarm of the danger, IRACT uses all its muscle to silence Scott including "swift boating" his reputation and if all else fails killing him. This is an exhilarating medical thriller that is at its best when it concentrates on the virus and related science. Ironically there is much greater action when IRACT sends thugs to chase after a fleeing Scott as opposed to his research and findings; yet much more exciting in some ways, the chase subplot pales when compared to the virus subplot as the pursuit is typical of many novels when a Goliath corporation considering the bottom line goes after the David threat. Still fans will enjoy Nelson Erlick's fine medical thriller.

F. Paul Wilson
ISBN: 0765312751, $25.95

At La Guardia, a terrorist kills the father of Repairman Jack. That would be enough to cause most souls woes, but the murder of his father causes the non-existent Jack worse troubles as his estranged brother Tom, a corrupt Philadelphia judge on the lam and disparately needing money, persuades Jack that they should go on a trip together. Though he knows better after spending his salad years with his odious sibling, Jack agrees. Tom could not care less if he ever sees Jack again once their trek is over; in fact he plans to insure that he never sees Jack again. Tom has an oceanic map that shows the location of a Spanish treasure ship that sunk off of Bermuda in 1598; he expects Jack to retrieve it. However, instead of booty, Jack and Tom haul up a weird skin covered object, the Lilitongue of Gefreda that the ancients claim enables a person to evade their enemies, but leaves the "user" inside of the "Otherness". Not trusting his sibling, Jack believes this object was what Tom sought, but why eludes the Repairman who plans to find out one way or another. Repairman Jack is at his refreshing best in his ninth adventure as fans receive a close look at family members, somewhat less his dad as compared with his loathsome brother. The story line is action packed from the opening scene at the airport to the high seas and to the activation of the device. Readers will appreciate F. Paul Wilson's latest caper starring one of the great literary legends of the past decade or so.

Sahm I Am
Meredith Efken
Steeple Hill
ISBN: 0373785518, $12.95, 336 pp.

The SAHM I AM email loop consists of several stay at home mothers (Rosalyn, Dulcie, Zelia, Jocelyn, Brenna, and Phyllis) sharing gossip, desires, and woes with one another. Self righteous and perfect Rosalyn moderates the discussions that focus on success, art, health, motherhoods, indiscretions, and amends. Because Rosalyn behaves like everyone is beneath her, a secret secondary loop the Green Eggs and Ham has formed, which mostly complains about Rosalyn' holier than thou behavior. Rosalyn panics because her sister Veronica wants to join the SAHM I AM group. She does not want Ronnie as a member because her sibling knows the truth that Roz's life is far from perfect or close to living the pious life of the Proverbs as she implies she does. SAHM I AM is a more a series of interactive vignettes rather than a prime plotted novel, but fans of contemporary tales with a web connection will appreciate this fine look at motherhood in the modern era. The tale emphasizes the many to many relationships that IT has provided without any of the participants having to come face to face. The characters seem genuine and though an ensemble cast has differing personalities making for a fun read.

Night Game
Christine Feehan
ISBN: 0515139769, $9.99, 512 pp.

Both genetically enhanced, Iris "Flame" Johnson and Gator Fontemont met when he rescued her. They are attracted to one another, but Gator has always been a lone ranger so he struggles with his need to be with her and Flame trusts no one. However, he learns she remains in danger from Dr. Peter Whitney, whom Gator thought dead (see SHADOW GAME); he willingly risks his life to keep her safe. Realizing he is enhanced like her, Flame fears Gator plans to return her to the evil Whitney. She detests the fact that she cannot get him out of her mind as she feels an irresistible attraction to him that she assumes is just one more inbreeding mechanism devised by Whitney. She distrusts her growing love for Gator as much as she expects him to betray her. Together they might defeat their common enemy, but separately they will probably die or worse be re-imprisoned by Whitney that is if he is the cat chasing them. The latest Ghostwalker Game thriller is a terrific paranormal entry because of the personalities of two loners, both ready to explode (especially the heroine) and neither easily trusting others particularly those who Whitney experimented on. The story line is action-packed never slowing down, but also has the haunting of Katrina as pre-hurricane New Orleans serves as the backdrop. Christine Feehan is on her A-game with her latest paranormal thriller.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Other Things I've Learned
Alan Alda
Random House
ISBN: 1400064090, $24.95, 240 pp.

Highly regarded actor Alan Alda provides a deep autobiography, but not the usual kiss and tell scintillating tale of sin city. Instead his superbly written memoir grips readers starting with the stunning opening comment that "My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was 6 …" and never lets up until he finishes his memoirs. Readers will gain an understanding of what has motivated Mr. Alda through his use of humor, charm, and the macabre such as the title of his book referring to sending the family's deceased pet Rhapsody to be stuffed by a taxidermist. Those readers seeking a Hollywood expose need to search elsewhere as Mr. Alda has been married to the same woman for almost fifty years without referring to any side trysts. Even his long movie and TV career except for some intriguing insights into M*A*S*H is a quick glimpse with external anecdotes to remind him how fleeting fame is. Instead he concentrates on the major personal events like polio treatment or touring as a kid with his parents, his father being a star of burlesque so as a kid he traveled with the strippers, but especially his mom's schizophrenia that haunts him today with a fear he will join her in her dark room. This autobiography is one of the best out there as Mr. Alda lays out his soul including those demons eating at it, but never points the finger at his peers.

Lust for Life
Adele Parks
ISBN: 0743477650, $13.00, 352 pp.

Raising two infants (two and a half year old Mathew and ten month old Maisie) is hard work, but Martha loves being a mother and wife to Michael though at times she covets the freedom that her sister Eliza enjoys. Thirty years old Eliza lives with Greg the musician in his flat, but envies her sibling as she wants marriage and children with a man whose vocabulary was a shade wider than that of her nephew. Eliza dumps Greg fleeing to her sister only to find Martha heartbroken because Michael has left her. After a weeping fit, both siblings agree they must enter the dating game though their goals vary; Martha wants the F fling with no commitments while Eliza desires the marital thing with total commitments. Martha meets Jack who wants more from her while Eliza goes through a horde of men seeking her Mr. Perfect husband. Neither has found love not even comfort with the hunks they have bagged. LUST FOR LIFE uses humor and sex to somewhat mute the overall serious tone of the story line that focuses on what one desires in life and relationships that enhance or impede obtaining these aspirations. Martha and Eliza are fabulous sisters both yearning to a degree to have what the other possesses yet clearly love and care for one another. While the supporting male cast augments insight into the sisters, the complex relationship between Martha and Eliza keeps the tale from spinning into an inane chick lit throwaway as each sibling walks in the other's moccasins.

Turning Thirty
Mike Gayle
ISBN: 0743477650, $13.00, 352 pp.

As he closed in on the Big 3-0 computer expert Matt Beckford feels pretty good about his future after the past somewhat tumultuous decade. His symbols that he is making it are his wine rack with wine and his girlfriend Elaine. However, as the countdown to maturity continues, Matt suffers several setbacks starting with an amiable split with Elaine and ending with his forced exile from New York to return to his hometown of Birmingham, England to live under his parents' roof while he prepares for a move to Australia. As the countdown continues, Matt meets friends from his schooldays, which make him ponder the two key teenage questions of life: "What am I going to do with my life?" and "Will I ever get a girlfriend?" He soon moves in with an occasional former lover Ginny Pascoe, who lets him use her spare room. To his shock he is falling in love with his hostess even while Elaine tries to reheat their transatlantic relationship. Thought the latter half of this fine contemporary character study seems less insightful and amusing than Matt's earlier splashdown, fans will enjoy this hunk-lit tale of aging. Matt is a terrific lead character as he informs with asides to the audience that all his teen doubts have returned though he inches towards thirty, that his last year or two was a false facade and wonders when maturity will actually come and stay. Fans will appreciate TURNING THIRTY as Matt begins to realize that from the day you are perceived you grow old; he hopes in his case a little more gracefully.

Beyond The Dark
Linda Winstead Jones, Evelyn Vaughn, Karen Whiddon
Signature (Silhouette) Collection
ISBN: 0373285310, $5.99, 300 pp.

"Forever Mine" by Linda Winstead Jones. In life Tony stalked her and when she accidentally killed him while trying to get away from him, he haunts Miranda Garner. In desperation she calls psychic John Stark who immediately knows if he can't get rid of Tony; the spirit will kill Miranda. They try to exorcise a ghost that has killed them through many lifetimes because they were lovers and he wanted her for himself. "Haunt Me" by Evelyn Vaughn. His doctor has no hope for David Fields to come out of his coma. His wife Charis does not give the DNR form to the staff so when he seizes they revive him and he is caught in the limbo between death and life. David haunts the hospital while his wife keeps vigil, praying for a miracle. Charis never showed her emotions so David was never quite sure of her love for him until now. He sees that his demonstrative way of showing love ways doesn't mean his wife doesn't feel just as dearly. They meet on the astral plane to say goodbye, banish a soul-eating monster and stop a doctor from acing unethically. "Soul of the Wolf" by Karen Whiddon. In Ft. Worth a task force is formed to stop a serial killer. Detective Amanda Reilly is a member even though her ex-boyfriend Jason was a victim. She is partnered with Jason's cousin FBI agent Nick Templeton. Amanda knows that he is a shapeshifter like her ex and believes all the victims of the killer were shifters as well. As Nick and Amanda work together they fall in love but first they must catch a killer, prove she didn't kill Jason to the pack and accept she is in love with a creature of the night. These three haunting spellbinding paranormal romances will send shivers up the spine of the mesmerized reader.

Strong Medicine
Olivia Gates
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513771, $4.99

Working on a military mission cost Global Crisis Alliance Dr. Calista St. James her medical license as she endangered her side and disobey a direct order from team leader Damien DeLuna to provide help to the innocent in a terrorist filled region. Still this does not stop the caring physician from practicing her chosen profession. She changes her name and provides medical care to the neediest in backwater dangerous regions of the world like Los Angeles. However, her former boss at GCA Sir Howard Ashton calls telling her they need her help on a rescue mission. This means Calista must work for Damien, who was the reason she lost her license in the first place. Though she wants nothing to do with the man she is in love with, duty calls. Damien knows he did the right thing on the mission and in his after action report, but feels guilty anyway and hopes to make it up to Calista while keeping her safe is his prime personal agenda. Olivia Gates provides a strong romantic thriller that grips the audience once Damien and Calista begin the quest together. The tension between them is extremely high and not just because of the previous escapade. Fans will want a full dose of the action-packed STRONG MEDICINE that never slows down as the lead couple fights, fusses, and loves.

Ultra Violet
Ellen Henderson
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351378X, $4.99

Five days have vanished from twenty-six years old Violet Marsh's life; she remembers nothing about the last 120 hours except she was not on a bender and cannot recall an alien abduction. Natalie Warner of Gideon Enterprises takes her to the boss Mal Gideon who explains that she was taken to a facility by agents of SynCor and he believes genetically enhanced. Stranger than her apparent amnesia is that she is always starving regardless of how much she eats, can run faster than human she knows, and cuts heal before she could place a band aid on them or even baseball great Papa Bell can turn off a light. Gideon assigns hot Jackson Cooper to work with Vi to rescue an endangered child juts taken into that same secret lab facility. ULTRA VIOLET is a strange romantic suspense thriller that grips the reader from the moment that Gideon explains to Vi that a mickey was probably slipped into her take-out tacos. Vi is a terrific heroine bewildered by what is going on and wondering why her. Her pairing with Jackson seems right as he adds a need to protect the superwoman, which leads to a romantic flavor to the mystery of what is going on. Fans will appreciate this fun tale while waiting for future Gideon Enterprises' capers.

Finders Keepers
Shirl Henke
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513755, $4.99

In San Diego, retrieval specialist Samantha Ballanger knows her current assignment will be one of her most difficult if not the toughest because the object of her mission will most likely not cooperate; on the other hand her object has perfect buns. Sam must abduct reporter Matt Granger to keep him from destroying an FBI probe into the Russian Mafia. Sam successfully kidnaps Matt, but he assumes she works for Renkov. As they drive east danger mounts as mobsters give chase. Making the flight thornier is the fact her "victim" tries to escape because he does not trust her and to go back to what he does best, investigative reporting. When the peril mounts with Sam obviously trying to keep him safe, Matt decides to cooperate; of course it helps that he wants his kidnapper to share his bed with him. As they elude the gangsters chasing after them, but struggle to make it to the safe house, neither seems capable of eluding their hearts beating as one to the tune of love. The chase is often amusing as "life" such as soccer moms has a way of interfering with the lead protagonists' fleeing for their lives, but never loses focus of the gravity of the situation as Renkov and his thugs continue their efforts to eliminate the reporter. The action-packed story line is fast paced as expected with an on the road show chase tale while the evolution from retrieving to loving enhances a fine character driven thriller.

Michele Hauf
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513763, $4.99

During a robbery attempt to steal diamonds from jeweler MaryEllen Sommerfield in London, the thief shoots the owner in the head, but she remains alive, surprisingly coherent in spite of the time bomb inside her head, and cooperative with the police. New York based Gemologist Becca Whitmore of the Gotham Roses travels to London to analyze the diamond and two similar ones to ascertain why these were the target of the robber. At the same Becca evaluates the gems, British MI-6 Agent Aston Dane also investigates the robbery attempt to learn why these gems are so valuable to someone. He and Becca meet at New Scotland Yard and both sides reluctantly team up. As they find clues to the value of these diamonds, an attraction between them rises. However, first the case must be resolved, which takes them to Paris and finally New York in search of who is behind the caper. The lead couple is a fine pairing of two courageous intelligent protagonists; they along with clever use of gemology turn this action-packed romantic suspense into a gripping thriller that has the audience traveling alongside the heroes. Fans will follow clues to learn what is so special about these diamonds and search for previous Gotham Roses' tales like THE GOLDEN GIRL by Erica Orloff.

The Royal Pain
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 0758208065, $14.00, 288 pp.

In the Kingdom of Alaska, Princess Alexandra Baranov has problems sleeping ever since family enemies tried to kill her father and abduct her youngest brother though she tried to intercede (see THE ROYAL TREATMENT). Now her midnight wanderings have become tabloid fodder and worry her family especially when she faints from a lack of sleep. In fact only her infant nephew enables her to sleep for a few hours for she is always on vigil to stop intruders from harming her family since the Devon incident. To get her out of the Sitka palace, the family ponders why not Minot so they send Alexandra to North Dakota on the pretense of furthering American-Alaskan relations. She reluctantly visits the North Dakota Institute for Sea Life where marine biologist Dr. Shel Rivers conducts research. Following a foot introduction, her Royal pain in the butt demands he waits on her when all he wants is to be left alone to do his work that is before he tries to shut her up with a kiss or two, which she returns. What lab work Shel asks himself as all he wants to do is to keep kissing her royal prettiness. No one does humorous romantic fantasy better than MaryJanice Davidson does. The Baranov sequel is a fabulous gender battle as Shel concludes that the royal pain is his bane. The opening intro summarizes the tale as Harry from When Harry Met Sally discusses having sex with someone named Sheldon and never slows down until the final kiss. Fans of zany alternate history tales will appreciate Ms. Davidson who brings a wacky freshness to the sub-genre.

Bayou Bad Boys
JoAnn Ross, Nancy Warren, & E.C. Sheedy
ISBN: 0758208510, $14.00

"Cajun Heat" by JoAnn Ross. Movie star Gabe Broussard returns to Blue Bayou for some needed rest from the Hollywood scene. However, rest is far from his mind when he sees his former Cajun girlfriend spa owner Emma Quinlan. To her chagrin while knowing he will leave she desires him; to stop those unwanted feelings she makes up a list of what she wants him to do to her, but buries the wrong list in the cemetery. Gabe has the real thing and plans to do each item more than once. "You Give Me Fever" by Nancy Warren. Five years have passed since highly regarded playwright Devon Burnett has written a successful play. Desperate, he rents a cottage in the middle of Bayou country to concentrate on his craft. Maya Poe knows who her famous temporary neighbor is and more so empathizes with his need to escape as she has done the same thing following an accident that nuked her modeling career. A chance midnight on the Bayou encounter leaves each desiring the other. "In Good Hands" by E.C. Sheedy. When his sister Marilee persuades Dane McCoy to allow Esme Shane to vacation on his island because she owes her he reluctantly agrees. Marilee insists the mouse will not get in his way. However, he quickly realizes the mouse is a tall beautiful athletic female who he wants. Esme should know that nothing is for free after eating beignets as the rich Dane is the centerfold of hunks and she wants him too. Though the hurricane puts an eerie background to the anthology, these are three enjoyable hot Bayou romances.

'Til There Was U
Dianne Castell
ISBN: 0758210051, $14.00, 304 pp.

In Tennessee, fifty-two year old Rory O'Fallon knows the moment he sees the infant on his porch that he sired her; he also believes the mother, whom he loves, is in trouble to abandon her daughter Bonnie like this. Finally Rory realizes that he cannot help his beloved Mimi DuPont without help; he tells the local paper that his son Ryan is the father until he can insure that his former office manager is safe. Rory calls his son in San Diego architect Ryan O'Fallon, whose legendary love life process time is the subject of office pools. In fact his greatest rival at Designs Unlimited Effie Wilson has won the last two pools about Ryan's love life (or lack of) as she thinks she knows why he is slumping and why the stud sweats when she is near him. However, Ryan must go home as his dad needs him even while working a project with Effie. In O'Fallon's Landing, Effie completes her magic as her hunk finds he cannot resist her lure. Dianne Castell writes an entertaining contemporary romance with a bit of a mystery that brings the lead pair to his hometown though hiding the truth about Bonnie seems odd even rationalized as a safety measure. Effie is terrific as she knows she loves the womanizing Ryan, who must choose between the perfect woman and perfect job. Fans will appreciate this fine tale and look forward to novels starring his brothers, Keefe the soap opera star and Quaid the search and rescue expert in Kodiak, Alaska.

Who Loves Ya Baby
Gemma Bruce
ISBN: 0758212496, $14.00, 352 pp.

Because she whistle blew on her partner over drugs, NYPD officer Julie Excelsior was ostracized by her peers and her superiors placed her behind a desk. Bored and angry that she is being punished instead of her former partner, Julie quits. She moves to the home where she grew up in that of her late Uncle Wes, who recently died leaving her with the Adirondacks house. Julie is shocked that living next door is her childhood friend Cas Reynolds, who abandoned her as demanded by his father who hates the Excelsior trash. Even more surprising Cas is the acting sheriff instead of a stuffy banker. As he struggles with a crime wave starting with abducted chickens and with Julie at his side tries to find Wes' alleged hidden treasure, he vows not to make the same mistake because he knows he loves her. Julie, in turn, plans to keep him hot, heavy, and relieved, but leave him when the time is right like he did her. WHO LOVES YA BABY is an interesting contemporary romance with a couple of fine mystery subplots to enhance the relationship between the lead couple who were best friends as teens and explode into each other's arms as adults. No sink is safe with this pair. The chicken plucking mystery is amusing while the treasure hunt is fun to follow, but the strength of this tale remains the lead duet as Cas vows not to blow always love this time even at the cost of his crazy parents while Julie pledges to blow him away.

The Darwin Conspiracy
John Darnton
ISBN: 1400041376, $24.95

Field anthropologist Hugh Kellem tries to solve several mysteries related to Darwin. Near Ecuador, the British researcher meets scientist Beth Dulcimer, who also seeks to understand why the famous naturalist took over twenty years to release the Origin of the Species and what happened to him that changed him from a confident scientist into a near anxious recluse. Twentyish Darwin spends five years on the Beagle taking copious notes of what he observes on his journey and becomes increasingly confident in his abilities to do his job while a rival tries to usurp his findings. His notes serve as the basis of his classic Origin of Species by Natural Selection released in 1858. In the 1870s Darwin's youngest daughter Lizzie keeps a journal that show her growing concern about her father who seemingly over night changed from a vigorous person into a frightened shadow of himself. Hugh and Beth find Lizzie's diaries. This interesting tale uses three points of view to tell a fictionalized account (based on known facts) of Darwin. The story opens with Hugh and Beth teaming up as both fixates over learning the mysteries of Darwin and on each other (that common obsession helps). The second (and by far the most interesting and intelligently designed) subplot follows Darwin's adventures from drinking with the Captain before leaving, to seasickness, to self-assured individual and finally struggling with a competitor. The final segue focuses on Lizzie's diary. Though well written, the present subplot seems unnecessary as it turns the life of Darwin into more of an academic mystery that includes a final shocking twist. While readers will enjoy sailing with Darwin and somewhat Lizzie's follow up in his later life, the present pales in comparison.

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt
Anne Rice
ISBN: 0375412018, $25.95, 336 pp.

At seven years of age Jesus was living on the Street of Carpenters in Alexandria Egypt, an ordinary child who played and learned the studies all Jewish boys must know. The fact that he turned clay pigeons into real birds and that he struck dead a child who bullied him and then brought him back to life didn't really impinge on his consciousness although Mary and Joseph know who he is and why he was born to the Virgin Mary. An angel tells Joseph it is time for them to return to Israel so they travel to their homeland. They stop at the Temple in Jerusalem but a riot breaks out between the rebels and Herod's troops. They journey to Nazareth, but on the way Jesus stops to heal his Uncle in the river Jordan. A curious child, he listens to the hints about his birth and wants to know what was so special about it. Neither Mary nor Joseph feel he is ready to know these things but when Jesus heals a blind man, he knows he must find out the truth including why his mother says he was born not of man. Anne Rice's portrayal of Jesus as a young child shows him as both divine and human though he is not aware yet of his origins or his purpose in life. The character gradually comes to realize he is not like other children and wants to know why, something any curious seven-year old would try and find out if they were in his shoes. Perhaps the most beautiful trait Anne Rice's Jesus possesses is a wisdom that belies his years and comes out at the most inopportune times. Though well-written, reader bias will either laud Ms. Rice's latest work or condemn her interpretation of the boy destined to become the Savior.

Dancing in the Dark
Caryl Phillips
ISBN: 1400043964, $23.95

In 1874 Bert Williams was born in the Bahamas, but over a decade later his family relocated to Southern California. Bert performed on stage, but got nowhere as black American roles were limited. However, early in the twentieth century, he became the first black entertainment superstar over the objections of family and friends as they felt strongly he abased himself and the race when he donned blackface paint to play the stereotypical role of a blundering idiot. The white paying audience loved him though he knew he was performing they thought he was himself. In DANCING IN THE DARK, Caryl Phillips goes behind the scenes to provide a close look Williams playing the "coon" fool alongside his also black Vaudeville partner George Walker. The author shows the psychological effect on the talented but seemingly melancholy superstar by fictionalizing the inner demons and pressures of black American society on Bert Williams and his weird relationship with his white fans. This excellent biographical fiction cleverly places a deep lens on historical racism in comparison to the black identity movements of the 1920s while also enabling the audience to reflect on today's entertainment race relations.

A Grave Mistake
Stella Cameron
ISBN: 0778322343, $16.95

New Orleans Detective Nat Archer heads to nearby Toussaint to enlist the aid of his partner Guy Gautreaux, on a leave of absence. Nat tells him someone shot and killed Pip Sedge in the French Quarter; the victim had ties to Toussaint. Guy says no as he still heals from a tragedy. Pastry shop owner Jilly Gable wants Guy though he does all he can to discourage her even though he desires her too. He is concerned that a woman claiming to be Jilly's mother Edith, who deserted her years ago, wants to be back in her life. Edith has brought her husband antiques dealer Sam Preston with her. Guy does not trust the Prestons or their bodyguard although he admits he has only a feeling about the duo. Still he investigates because he will not allow any harm to come to Jilly, but is unaware of the link back to New Orleans. Though the flood puts a damper on this Bayou romantic suspense thriller, readers will still appreciate this fine tale. The hero is a good guy trying not to get involved, but unable to keep out especially since he is falling in love with the upbeat Jilly. She is the more intriguing character with her need to belong to a loving family sending her willingly into accepting the Prestons and ultimately into danger. Stella Cameron provides a strong tale, but the real world provides an eerie feel to the Louisiana background.

Eye of the Beholder
Merline Lovelace
ISBN: 0778322300, $6.99

In Morgan Falls, Oklahoma USAF Reserve Captain Miranda "Randi" Morgan attends the funeral of her friend, lover, and fellow pilot Captain Tyler Keane who died in combat. Tyler's father Sam blames Randi for his son's death vowing vengeance. Oklahoma University physics professor Dr. Pete Engstrom visits Randi to arrange for his research team to study the Heavener rune stone on her property. Reluctantly she agrees to allow him access although she worries that wealthy Sam is using this to cause her trouble. Soon Randi finds herself in a custody fight with her ex over their four year old son whom she ignored and Sam who claims he is Spence's grandfather. Adding to her troubles is someone wants her dead even as she falls in love with the physicist who reciprocates her feelings. EYE OF THE BEHOLDER is a superb romantic suspense thriller, which contains a subplot involving reservists coming home in body bags that will grip the audience with how much our soldiers and their families sacrifice including their lives for the war on terrorism; no one else in spite of the President's claims otherwise including this reviewer and the White House sacrifice for this effort. The story line is action-packed as Randi struggles with her former mentor Sam wanting to harm her at all costs as he blames her for his son's death. Though one final twist seems unreal, Merline Lovelace provides a deep tale of how a hurting grieving parent can suffer a battle fatigue like syndrome when a son or daughter dies in combat.

The Girl with the Golden Gun
Ann Major
ISBN: 0778322246, $6.99

When he was a preadolescent, Shanghai Knight saved two years old Mia Kemble from being ran over risking his life in the process. Instead of gratitude her father Caesar, the driver, loathes Shanghai who was acclaimed a hero. Now a teen Mia still worships Shanghai, but though he likes her he hates her father who he believes stole everything from his drunken loser of a dad. An incident forces Shanghai to leave town with Mia promising to find him when she becomes an adult. Fifteen years later, Mia is held prisoner by Mexican drug lord Tavio Morales, who actually saved her life when a plane with her husband Shanghai's brother Cole crashed into the sea. Her father and her daughter Vanilla think she is dead. Her only hope for rescue lies with Shanghai but he let her down a few years ago when he impregnated her only to leave her. This exhilarating romantic suspense thriller needs a bit of patience to comprehend the chronological order of events, which abruptly leap from a young Mia vowing to find her beloved to her captivity; complicating matters are her thoughts back to sleeping in Vegas with Shanghai but marrying her brother and an FBI sidebar involving Tavio's sibling. Once all that begins to converge as the story line concentrates on Mia's incarceration and attempts to escape, fans receive a terrific thriller starring a courageous heroine, an obsessed crazed drug lord, and a hero ready to rescue his beloved.

Darker Than Midnight
Maggie Shayne
ISBN: 0778322297, $6.99, 384 pp.

Since he was arrested for murdering his wife, Steph, a crime he does not remember or anything else from that night, Michael "River" Corbett has been drugged and confined to a state mental hospital. He is not sure if he is paranoid from the drugs that leave his mind fuzzy and in a fog, but River believes someone has tried to kill him. He escapes from the institution heading to Blackberry, Vermont to learn whether he killed his spouse and if not, who did. Fourteen years ago, Cassandra "Jax" Jackson's father killed the man who murdered his other daughter, but the court declared him not guilty due to diminished capacity; Jax's police career in Syracuse died in that courtroom so she accepts a job in Blackberry. When the by the book Jax meets River she fails to take him in as something in his look makes her believe he is no killer. As they team up seeking to learn who murdered Steph, a ghost send clues to the "besieged" teenager Dawn Jones, who if she wants to be left alone, must help River and Jax. Readers will agree from the start that River is innocent because the killer seems obvious relatively early on yet no one will put down DARKER THAN MIDNIGHT until the end to affirm their theory is correct. The who-done-it story line is enhanced by the paranormal elements as Steph tries to reach from the grave to right a wrong that she partially caused. Fans will root for the lead couples to more than just survive the twilight; like Steph they want Jax and River together, but the chances of that happening seems so remote.

There's Something about Christmas
Debbie Macomber
ISBN: 0778322254, $14.95, 304 pp.

In Washington State, Emma Collins writes ads and obits for the Puyallup Examiner, a newspaper struggling to remain financially solvent, which includes more local interest stories and a chance for Emma to write an article or two. Her editor Walt Berwald III assigns Emma to interview the three Washington state entries (Earlene, Sophie, and Peggy) who are among the national finalists in the Good Housekeeping fruitcake recipe contest; ironically she hates fruitcake. To accomplish her assignment in a timely manner, Emma must fly in a Cessna when a 747 gives her cardiac arrest with a daredevil pilot Oliver Hamilton, who irritates her. Still this is her first true journalism assignment so she flies with Oliver around the state, which leads to them learning more about one another. He becomes her knight in shining armor bring dog food for her newly rescued pet and pizza for her. Emma realizes she can fly, look at fruitcake, and fall in love with Oliver. However, her other phobia, anti-Christmas is a whole different aversion and she refuses to explain her bah humbug attitude that could destroy their relationship. This warm Christmas romance avoids for the most part the schmaltzy by using the right amount of humor to enhance the relationship between the pilot and the reporter. Emma is a terrific individual who overcomes two relatively minor woes and her fear of love ends in trauma especially around Christmas (Kate from Gremlins) to give her heart to Oliver, a modern gentleman. Fruitcake recipes aside, the real ingredients of this fine Yuletide yarn is a pinch of caring, a dab of understanding, and a whole lot of love.

Eyes of the Burning Man
Harry Shannon
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143811, $25.95

Psychologist Mick Callahan has made a fine comeback on talk radio with his show in Northridge, California as proven by his having a centerfold girlfriend Leyna Barton. After a sensitive show on what is love, Leyna informs Mick he is going to get lucky. However, when a mugger attacks them and he beats the punk up, she drops him saying he enjoyed the fight. Mick receives a call from Mary, who saved his life in Nevada on MEMORIAL DAY, but she hangs up before they talk. He traces the call and heads into a dangerous section of town to rescue her from her pimp. He succeeds and takes her to his home. Not long afterward, she is snatched again with the trail heading into the Burning Man Festival. The sequel to MEMORIAL DAY, EYES OF THE BURNING MAN, is a taut investigative thriller that provides the reader with insight into the star through two mano a mano incidents with a mugger and street thugs respectively before Mick vies for second rescue of Mary amongst sociopaths. The story line is driven by Mick who has his own problems, but is a knight in shining armor for downtrodden females. A late romance adds to a fine Callahan caper.

Temptation's Warrior
Gabriella Anderson
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144184, $26.95

In 1347 knight Payne "The Golden bear" Dunbyer abducts Lady Agnes on the eve of her wedding to bring her to her former betrothed Baron Gilbert Fitzhugh. The woman he kidnaps insists she is not Agnes, but she fit the description of golden hair and is tall so Payne ignores her. However, at Coxebury, he learns from Gilbert that he took Agnes' cousin Lady Elfreda "Elf" of Renfrey. Gilbert is initially irate, but decides to wed Elf instead because she still provides him strong connections to the powerful Meredith family. Though it will cost him his dream of owning land as he will forfeit two years of payment from Fitzhugh, Payne takes Elf away from Coxebury. However, before taking her home he stops at a tournament to win some money he badly needs. On their trek with Gilbert in pursuit and the mysteriously Robin Hood like Black Knight in their way, they fall in love. Readers will cherish the honorable Payne even though his ethics differ than that of modern times when he rationalizes making the original abduction acceptable with Agnes being betrothed to Coxebury until regal intervention. He gives up everything to do the right thing with a detour once he realizes he abducted the wrong giantess. Fans will enjoy this fascinating historical romance starring two wonderful lead characters and a villain who inadvertently plays matchmaker.

Sleeping Dragons
Cat Collins
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144192, $26.95, 355 pp.

In the land of Camarrhan, a realm where magic is taken for granted, Empath Cael is mortally wounded by an arrow in his shoulder that was shot by his country's enemy. Cael's Wayfinder (a person who controls the gates between the various worlds) takes him to an Australian hospital on Earth where Jenna Wade, takes care of him. A loner, she surprises herself by being attracted to him. When Verra opens the Way and takes them to Jenna's home to her surprise she heals him and the wayshe does it makes them believe Jenna belongs in Camrrhan. Jenna learns that her grandmother was chased by an evil man and escaped onto Earth and she is taken to the Guild where she hones her Healing powers. Cael wants nothing to do with her because when he was unconscious, she had sex with him, forming an empathic bond between them. He feels like he was given no chance in taking a mate and while they do try to work out their differences because the bond is unbreakable they have to find and capture who is trying to decimate the magic from Camrrhan by killing those that are strong in magic. SLEEPING DRAGONS is a fine work of romantic fantasy. Cat Collins has created a world almost identical to Earth except for the fact that technology is banned believing it destroys the planet. Magic works better than technology when properly used and the heroine after learning how to wield her magic has to agree. She is a strong yet vulnerable woman who realizes first that she loves Cael and her new world but readers will want to hit the hero over the head for being so unforgiving to a woman who didn't know what her impulsive act would cause to happen. Cat Collins' debut novel will win the author many fans who hope there will be more books set in the word of Camrrhan.

Maiden Voyager
R. Edward Main
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144206, $25.95, 273 pp.

The Void, a way of traveling from Point A to Point B is the way people and objects move through space. Pilots use the power of their minds to move gigantic ships with passengers and cargoes through the Void. One of the best pilots Jack Claver, who has a ten plus rating, is missing. Even when he is in the Void his daughter Jackie, also with a mental rating of ten plus can sense him which is why she knows he isn't dead when the authorities tell her his ship was lost in the Void. Jackie plans to rescue him and she uses the insurance money to hire a Void pilot and a hopper to go into the Void. Once they reach the Void, the pilot dies and Jackie finds herself on a world populated by strange creatures and vegetation that looks like it came from a human based planet. Her plan is to find her father, rescue him and escape the Void world but that is more complicated than she knows because this world holds many secrets and getting out might prove impossible. MAIDEN VOYAGER is a very entertaining work filled with original ideas kind of like placing the Hotel California in deep space. The secrets of the Void world is just one of the reason readers will finish the book in one sitting. The heroine a seventeen year old sheltered teen is determined to achieve her goals of saving her father, the other inhabitants of the Void world and find a way to escape . Her strength and determination makes her an admiral protagonist who readers hope succeeds.

And Don't Forget to Rescue the Princess
Marc Bilgrey
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143854, $25.95, 242 pp.

While sitting at home, thirty year old failed actor Al Breen sees a cat on his window ledge. He is shocked when the feline talks to him and he follows him outdoors into a nearby shack where he loses consciousness. When he comes to he is in another world and the cat has changed into its true shape of master wizard Merv, the advisor to Castle Furley in the land of Flemp. The king had the wizard summon a knight (the wizard obviously made a mistake) to travel to the kingdom of Mornnnnnnn to rescue his kidnapped daughter Megan from the ruler of that realm. Accompanying Al is Megan's betrothal Nigel the nervous who leads him into the enchanted forest where they are almost eaten by trolls, taken prisoners by the fairies, agree to kill the dragon in exchange for their freedom and gets help from a witch who helps them make hot air balloons to take them to Mornnnnnnn. Once there, they team up with the rebel leader Baldric who guides him past the many traps of the castle, praying that they won't get caught or killed in one. Readers who like a lighthearted fantasy filled with slapstick humor, witty repartee and a hero who knows he is a nerd will adore this unusual, original and charming tale. The protagonist makes no bones that he is a coward and wants nothing more than to go home and it is not bravery that leads him from one victorious adventure to another but pure luck and a little help from a mostly absentee wizard. Marc Bilgrey takes readers on a wacky trek where danger lurks around twist in the road.

Ghosts of Albion: Accursed
Amber Benson & Christopher Golden
Del Rey
ISBN: 034547130X, $13.95

In Victorian London, siblings William and Tamara Swift are magicians protecting England from evil from their home Ludlow House. Other residents include the spirits of overly sexed charged Lord Byron, naked warrior queen Bodicea, and their father with the latter apparently possessed by an evil demon. Prim and proper William courts independent feisty Sophia Winchell while his sister yearns to make life with rake John Haversham. As the Swift siblings work on their personal lives, women of Indian descent are being raped near the wharfs and in the East End slums; these odious unions have led to the birth of gruesome monsters. At the same time reptilian creatures are killing anything that crosses their paths. Queen Victoria is concerned that her magicians are so young to go up against such formidable opponents. However, youthful as they are, the good guys are assisted by their resident ghosts and a vampire though they remain in deep trouble as the forces of the dark look invincible especially when the sun is down which is for much of a day in smoggy London. This funny and charming atmospheric Victorian horror tale brings to gloomy life London under siege from the supernatural. Fans will appreciate the historical setting that makes the paranormal seem real although raging hormones sometimes interferes with the magic. GHOSTS OF ALBION: ACCURSED is a fine thriller that readers will enjoy.

Designated Targets
John Birmingham
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345457145, $14.95, 384 pp.

The world continues to struggle with the Transition, anti terrorist naval forces from 2021 landing in 1942 in the middle the Battle of Midway (see WEAPONS OF CHOICE). The military technological leaps made by the allied forces are miraculous or perhaps demonic, but especially the Nazis and somewhat less the Communists also make fantastic jumps too. Nuclear proliferation and computer technology has arrived. However, Hitler and Stalin realize that the Third Reich and the Soviet State is in trouble as their respective progress lags in comparison to the Americans and the Brits. They reluctantly sign a peace pact to aid one another from the expected allied invasion. Now fighting a one front war, Germany prepares to blitzkrieg England while the Japanese look to Australia. Meanwhile the future force warriors plan to defend England, but an irate J. Edgar Hoover has his own plans to destroy those who have humiliated him and destroyed much of his power base. The key to this exciting sequel is the intrusion of the advanced twenty-first century military technology on World War II nations. The action is non-stop, but that takes a back seat to the sides rushing to gain a nuclear edge. What is interesting is the outcome is known so leaders try to avoid, enhance, or modify pivotal events in an intriguing paradoxical look at an alleged known future. The knowledge of the future and the technological incursion turn this Axis of Time tale into a thought provoking thriller.

Blood and Roses
Ann Tonsor Zeddies
Phobos Books
200 Park Ave South, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0992002669, $14.95, 286 pp.

After spending three years in France as a relief worker, Jayne Taylor goes one step beyond her usual heroics when she kills a German soldier who is holding Sister Madeline hostage. Madeline looks like she is suffering from radiation poisoning but she receives medical attention and recovers. When the war ends Jayne adopts five war orphans and with Madeline brings them home to America. Needing to earn some money she convinces a mobster to let her drive the truck carrying liquor during prohibition. On her first run, she and another end up in a flying ship heading towards Japan. They land on Sado Island where they become separated. Carmeron is held prisoner by sentient insects that look like monsters while Jayne is in the same underground chamber of caves trying to find Cameron with the help of a mysterious stranger who knows more than he should about the bugs and their plans. The Japanese warlord Noriyama wants to use the same substance that the alien prisoners are mining to make a weapon that will give the Japanese dominance in world affairs. Jayne, Cameron and the mysterious stranger will do everything in their power to stop them. Combine the action of a Lara Croft movie with the premise of H.G. Wells book War of the worlds and readers will have some idea what BLOOD AND ROSES is all about. Jayne is a modern day heroine who is living in the 1920's doing things that are usually the province of men including saving the world. The audience will like Jayne for her loyalty, her humanity, passion and bravery but they will find themselves paying attention to the mysterious stranger and hope he and Jayne will have more adventures in future books. The premise of this tale would make a fantastic movie.

Sword of Orion
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Phobos Books
200 Park Ave South, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0972002655, $14.95, 287 pp.

At one time in the part of the galaxy known as the Sword of Orion, the inhabited planets were ruled by the fascist organization known as the Oligarchy until brave men and women rose up and joined the rebellion. In the last battle when the Oligarchy threw all their ships and weapons at the rebel armada, the device rebel leaders Parvair and Banin invented took both fleets out of normal space. This caused the Oligarchy to collapse and democracy sprang up among the former repressed planets. Parvair and Banin's infant daughter Jerel, who was a part of the device that caused the armadas to vanish, now lives with her uncle Orned. The sixteen year old girl is forced to flee her home with her uncle, her friend kay and the turlan alien Erazias because the former rebel Chuton now joins forces with those who want the Oligarchy to rise again and to do this he needs Jerel to make the reconstructed device operational and retrieve the armadas. Jerel and her allies jump from planet to planet to escape the agents who want to use her because she and her allies have a plan to retrieve the armada and neutralize the ships of the Oligarchy. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller can be counted on to tell a compelling and exciting story set in a future world where traveling through space to visit the populated worlds is an everyday occurrence. The alien species are believable and play a key part in the storyline working besides the human for a common goal. Brilliant characterizations, exotic cultures and thrilling chase scenes make SWORD OF ORION a book that is destined to become a classic.

Dragon America
Mike Resnick
Phobos Books
200 Park Ave South, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0972002693, $14.95, 288 pp.

George Washington sends Daniel Boone to the Ohio wilderness where the frontiersman is to seek his adopted father Chief Blackfish to enlist the Shawnee to the American cause against the British. However, Blackfish is irate with his "son" for escorting settlers onto Shawnee lands; in fact Daniel is banned from the tribal lands. Still the brave frontiersman feels he must make the effort and accompanied by only his minuscule dragon Banshee ventures onto Shawnee territory. When Daniel arrives at Blackfish's camp, he finds British colonial loyalist Simon Ginty advising the chief. Daniel requests a thousand warriors, but a reluctant Blackfish offers a couple of hundred. Instead his son Gray Eagle provides Daniel with a counter suggestion that they head further west to the land of the giant dragons and tame these potential weapons of mass destruction to use against Cornwallis' army. Boone agrees and the two men accompanied by escaped Indian slave Pompey journey to the land of the giant dragons. The structure of the wonderful alternate history DRAGON AMERICA is actually four interrelated novellas that flow brilliantly together to enable the audience to feel events including believing mythical creatures are genuine. The above paragraphs only relate the beginning of the book of Daniel, but are followed by fabulous entries starring George Washington, Pompey's book and Ephram Eakins (working on training a different dragon breed). Mike Resnick shows why he is one of the best fantasists writing today as he adds dragons to the Revolutionary War and makes his book seem like a thrilling historical fiction as much as a fantasy.

All Eve's Hallows
Dean Wesley Smith
Phobos Books
200 Park Ave South, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0972002669, $13.95, 288 pp.

For the past millennium creatures of the night like goblins, fire exhaling dragons, and other so-called mythical beings have resided amidst humanity with few people aware of their presence. For the most part over the past few centuries, there is a peaceful coexistence, but at times conflict arises. Keeping the naive scientific-centric humans safe is the job of the ultra top secret City Knights. Eve the darkest sorceress in centuries wants to come out of the closet and take control starting with New York City. She casts a spell to awaken and bind a monster so evil that malevolent sprites have watched over it. Now the sprites leave their subterranean chamber to cause havoc on the streets of New York. Former marine and recent City Knight recruit Billie Stein leads the counterassault against dangerous foes. ALL EVES HALLOWS is a tongue in cheek fantasy that uses hyperbole to tell a good vs. evil tale. The story line is fun to follow though at times inane as Billie sees things like trolls, but wonders if the burger did her in until the Knights enlist her. Billie is a terrific heroine, kind of like an ex marine chick lit star stuck in a world filled with monsters that only she seems to see until she meets her peers. Fans who appreciate a kick butt female champion fighting insurmountable odds against powerful malevolent mythical cretins will enjoy this lighthearted urban fantasy.

Fear the Night
John Lutz
ISBN: 0786016345, $6.99

The Night Sniper kills the Manhattan store owner making him the third victim. He taunts the police and demands that his only competition retired detective Vincent Repetto oppose him in a game of cat and mouse. Assistant Chief Lou Melbourne begs Lou to come out of retirement, but the former cop says no as he wants to spend time with his beloved wife Lora and their twenty year old daughter Amelia; besides he left on disability with a collapsed lung from his last case. The Night Sniper refuses to accept a no from Vin. To force Vin to participate he kills a friend Dal Bricker in front of Vin. Now the twenty year veteran comes out of retirement to take on a vicious serial killer who sees this as a superheavyweight contest between two champions with similar childhoods only Vin had his beloved aunts to save him. Though the temperament of the Night Sniper is so similar to other serial killer novels, fans will feel the suspense that builds up until the final confrontation. The story line is action-packed with incidents that seem innocuous and everyday at first turning lethal when the killer acts. Readers will enjoy FEAR THE NIGHT while wondering whether the Night Sniper will kill those close to his opponent as part of his efforts to win his game of death.

Hardly Working
Betsy Burke
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895429, $12.95, 288 pp.

The workers at the Vancouver office of Green World International are concerned with the front office sending hatchet man Ian "Mr. Darkside" Trutch to shake up the place; in his last site in Ottawa, several empty desks appeared over night. Thirty year old public relations specialist Dinah Nichols finds herself fascinated with Ian and soon they sleep together. However, she and others become concerned with a water deal that Ian is working that seems ethically wrong. Meanwhile Dinah, who is seeing a psychologist over a need to know the identity of who sired her, decides to search for her dad although her mother offers no help. Dinah is also attracted to her neighbor, Jon who she believes is gay even though they slept together once as he is always frequenting gay bars with and hugging his sometime roommate Kevin. Finally when the water deal seems a sure thing that will hurt people, Dinah and the "Eco-girls" form to warn the public through small "ecoterrorist" acts. The environmental issue adds a serious tone to what otherwise is a lighthearted romantic romp. The story line moves on three plot lines with the impact on the staff by the downsizing vulture Trutch and the water deal converging while the third is more a parallel chick lit subplot focusing on the relationship between Dinah and Jon. Dinah matures during the tale as she learns some things are worth risking security for as she goes from HARDLY WORKING to a fully deployed person.

Scenes from a Holiday
Laurie Graff, Caren Lissner & Melanie Murray
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895372, $12.95

"The Eight Dates of Hanukkah" by Laurie Graff. Events planner Nicki Heller believes the first day of Hanukkah is God's vehicle to test her. As a kid, her new doll had its head twisted off; her marriage ended on another first day; and now Mark Baum proposes, but when she says no he drops her. That same night a thief enters her shop leading to a menorah crashing on her head. Unconscious Nicki believes she is trapped in Menorahville where she goes on a date from hell every night of the festival of lights. "Carrie Pilby's New Year resolution" by Caren Lissner. Having graduated from Harvard before she turned twenty, but receiving no social education in the process, Carrie Pilby vows to attend two events a week, one social and the other professional. She also swears she will talk to two strangers at these events, hopefully a male and if asked out will say yes. The genius actually has a friend Kara who she confides in that she thinks of returning to college so she can gain the social skills she never learned the first time around. "Emma Townsend Saves Christmas" by Melanie Murray. When she left her parents' Maine Christmas tree farm for New York City, Emma Townsend vowed to never return for the holidays. Yet Emma heads home thinking of White Christmas when Rosemary Clooney gave up Manhattan for Vermont. To her shock her parents are going on vacation to Jamaica leaving it to her with the help of her high school sweetheart Tim Latch to save Christmas. These three holiday novellas are fun chick lit tales that will bring good cheer to sub-genre fans.

Fifty Degrees Below
Kim Stanley Robinson
ISBN: 0553803123, $25.00, 405 pp.

In the not too distant future, global warming has changed the earth's climatic patterns in a dramatic way. Washington D.C. was fatally flooded and now the clean-up operation has started but the danger is just beginning. The ice caps at both poles are melting and the Gulf Stream waters are stalled which could mean another Ice Age, similar to the Younger Dryas, is imminent. Frank Vanderwal of the National Science Foundation is working with other scientists to find a way to fix the climate. Unfortunately, politics comes in to play with the current president believing that the scientific community is unnecessary alarmed. However when winter comes to the capital city, temperatures plummet to fifty degrees below zero and other states and countries are hit hard by storms and freezing temperatures also. Scientists prepare untested experiments to stop the earth from entering another Ice Age. There are too many scientific explanations about global warming, climatic changes and methods to reverse the effects of global warming for the ordinary lay man to understand. There is very little action and the characters discuss theory as if working a treatise but only in the last one hundred pages does any real action occur. The premise of the story is interesting and there are many intriguing elements but for the most part only die hard reader with a science background will appreciate the cautionary work of Kim Stanley Robinson.

Threads of Malice
Tamara Siler Jones
ISBN: 0553587102, $6.99, 528 pp.

Since the murder of his wife years ago, Castle Faldorran Castellan Dubric Byerly sees ghosts of homicide victims demanding justice. These otherworldly essences will not leave him any respite haunting him and leaving Dubric exhausted to the point of collapse until he resolves their respective case. The youthful geese tender Eachann arrives from the northern reaches fatigued, injured, and distraught claiming the dark is killing young boys with the latest victim Braoin, a cousin of the wife of Dubric's squire Dien. Dubric, Dien and two pages Lars and Otlee head to the Reach to investigate a string of homicides by an apparent serial killer. To his chagrin upon reaching the crime scene vicinity, ghosts of the victims assault Dubric demanding justice. However, he and his staff begin to believe that the adversary is invincible as well as malevolent. The second Dubric ghostly tale is a much more vividly darker novel than the more capricious sprightly GHOSTS IN THE SNOW. The efforts to use forensics during the medieval era and thereby before the science of criminology has been created add to a fine blending of mystery, horror, and even a touch of the fantasy. Interestingly the investigation is filled with twists and turns, red herrings, and dead ends (literally and figuratively) that makes for a fine who-done-it. Still this is Dubric's tale as he battles ghostly migraines, evil spirits, rotting corpses, bumbling assistants, and a touch of love to battle an unbeatable foe.

Hostile Makeover
Wendy Wax
ISBN: 0553587951, $6.50

When sixty something Harvey Schwartz undergoes emergency by-pass surgery and is forced to take an earlier than planned retirement, his thirty-three years old daughter Shelley expects to be placed in charge of the family business Schwartz & Associates. Instead her dad selects hot shot Ross Morgan to run the advertising firm especially after she comes very late to a critical client meeting looking as if she had sex, which she did with her boyfriend Trey Davenport. Shelley takes out her disappointment on Ross, who pulls no punches that she has not earned the position as he did and if she was not related to the owner she would have been fired years ago. He challenges her to prove her worth by handing her several dormant cases to drum up needed business. Shelley plans to prove him wrong even as their boardroom squabble lead to love. This fun chick lit tale stars a Jewish American princess who cannot understand why daddy did not entrust her with the company (readers will know why) and a hardworking intelligent hunk who refuses to take any guff from her. The story line is lighthearted especially as her matchmaking mother keeps parading potential Jewish spouses that Shelley rejects because they come from her mom and she refuses to date anyone Jewish. A final twist makes for a fine boardroom to bedroom romance.

All Hell Breaking Loose
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg
ISBN: 0756402891, $7.50, 320 pp.

This sixteen tale anthology centers on either the denizens of hell picking on a human or two or a trip to hell rarely for that heavenly cause. Many are tongue in cheek (tail in cheek sounds so cheeky) while others are philosophical depending on who owns the media to distribute the message (is hell filled with free will freedom fighters or cruel insurgents) as expected from a collection that includes a net site dubbed InfernoCon. Each contribution is fun to read as Dante and Milton are turned upside down and summed up nicely by John Helfers in the introduction: "they're 'mad as hell, and there are not going to take it anymore'. Fans of Twilight Zone like short stories will want a visit to hell and back courtesy of Martin H. Greenberg and sixteen fine authors contributing all new tales in a hand basket.

The Dragon's Revenge
Irene Radford
ISBN: 0756403170, $6.99, 432 pp.

The three O'Hara brothers (Kim, Konner, and Loki) are wanted criminals by the Galactic Terran Empire and the Terran Imperial Military Police (IMP's) were chasing their ship when it went through an unknown jump-point and landed on a world where magic works and dragons exist. The brothers became known as the Stargods to the primitive humans because of their ability to cure a bioengineered plague. Kim and Konner married local women but their way of life is endangered when a group of IMPs land. The O'Hare siblings disable their enemy's ship, forcing them to work with the natives if they want to survive. Their sister Kat, who wants to bring her brothers to justice for abandoning her twenty years ago, gets used to this strange world and when her protegees are in trouble, she saves them and destroys her own career with the IMP. Konner is determined to get off planet and find his son Martin who is with his mother, an amoral criminal. He doesn't realize Martin has escaped her control and is coming to him until they have to fight Hanassa, the dragon who has taken over the human body and mind of the leader of the IMPs; a being who hates dragons and humans so much that he plans to destroy the planet. Martin and the O'Hare siblings, including Kat, fight to stop him. The third book in the Stargod series is just as exciting and action packed as the other two books in the series. The focus of this novel is on Kat who goes from hating her family to understanding how she got separated from them two decades ago. The planet she first thought strange now hold a place in her heart and if she has any say in the matter, she will one day retire there. The brothers feel like they have a new home on the planet and plan to keep "civilization" away. Irene Radford shows readers once again why her books are so popular.

The Silver Lake
Fiona Patton
ISBN: 0756401852, $23.95, 400 pp.

The God-Wall protects the city of Anavatan, the Silver Lake known as Gol-Beyaz where the six Gods live, and twelve outlying villages. The power and richness of the city is a magnet to the barbarian tribes like the Yuruk who each year unsuccessfully try to breach the wall. The spirits (essences of prophecy) want form and to have that they need to drine from the lake and eat the people unsworn to any God; neither the tribes nor the spirits have managed to breach the wall except this year during theevent known as Havo's Dance. During the second night of the event, the spirits attack teens Brax, his younger friend Spar, and the malevolent Graize. Brax calls on the God of Battle Estavia for help and she makes him and Spar her own. Graize wakes up spirit filled in the plains where he meets up with a Yuruk tribe who takes him in and prophecies that this year they will be able to breach the God walls because the spirits who want substance will help him. Brax becomes Estavia's champion and is destined to meet Graize in battle, while Spar is trying to find a place for himself without giving in to a seer that speaks to him telepathically and wants to use him in his plans for conquest. The first book in The Warriors of Estavia is a fantastic fantasy filled with action, intrigue and refreshingly original and realistic characters. The bond between Brax and Spar is beautiful to behold and the pair change over the cycle of the book in a realistic manner as they are shown love combined with discipline. An expert world builder, Fiona Patton actually has her audience believing in Gods who commonly manifest themselves to their people in a physical form.

King without an Empire
Paul Collins
ISBN: 1413747167, $19.95

In 2050 wealthy media king Michael Bassett and his girlfriend Heather Brody are being chauffeured in his limo when another vehicle crosses the medium and smashes into them. The limo suffers no damage and Michael and his driver are fine; however, Heather, in spite of her seat belt, dies in the crash. Michael feels making money no longer matters, but instead wants to fly to Mars. He talks with his college crony Vice President Rocky Gagliano who sends him to see Dr. Sterling Bechwith who sends him to Luke Francis, a moonwalker, who envisions a trip to Alpha Centauri, which using modern technology would take fifty years. However, he also points out the oil industry is lethal owning the White House as they have for decades and will not allow alternate energy sources to be developed. Still Michael has the money to talk so that the adventure of a lifetime begins to take hold, but goes way beyond what he envisioned. KING WITHOUT AN EMPIRE is an intriguing science fiction tale that plays out in three acts. First a distraught Bassett goes from one space expert to another to find someone who can build a ship to Mars. The second part focuses on meeting an intelligent race in the Alpha Centauri System. The final act is encountering Lady Circe who "guides" Bassett to an alternate CIA world with plans for Earth. Thus Paul Collin's book reads more like three interrelated novellas in which any one could have easily been expanded into a stand alone novel. Though too much occurs, fans of a deep thought provoking tale with plenty of action starring an interesting protagonist will want to travel the stars and beyond with Mr. Collins as their pilot.

The Templar Knight: A Witch Spell
Jangeo Pinkerton
ISBN: 1413749909, $19.95

In 1302 France Sir Bret de Colville is a conscientious loyal knight in the service of Robert de Brus. When he meets Zarelda, he finds himself overwhelmed by her beauty and almost failing at his responsibilities as he cannot get her out of his mind. However, as he falls in love with her, he soon finds out that the siren is a witch, which sobers up the pious knight. He leaves her. Not long afterward, Sir Bret, who has just about sworn off women, meets and falls in love with Lady Briana. However, the scorned Zarelda casts a horrible spell on villagers while in a rage. Zarelda next abducts Briana and takes her on a trek that ends in Hell. A distraught Sir Bret dedicates himself to learning the metaphysical secrets that bound everything and joins the Knights Templar to obtain their forbidden knowledge. Several years and adventures later, Zarelda returns with promises to help Bret find his true love, but can he trust the witch who caused the disappearance of Briana yet without her he has no prayer of moving heaven or hell to save his beloved. This strong medieval paranormal romance will fascinate the audience due to the relational triangle between Sir Bret, Zarelda, and Briana. The action-packed plot grips the audience once the trio has met one another as each one seems so real even the witch. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Jangeo Pinkerton's strong tale in which the champion will don anything to rescue his heart's desire including entering hell for the heavenly cause of love.

Conversation with a Fat Girl
Liza Palmer
5 Spot (Warner)
ISBN: 0446693952, $12.95

They met at twelve and became best friends as both Maggie and Olivia share in common being fat girls. However, at twenty-two, Olivia undergoes gastric bypass surgery and begins to lose the pounds. Five years later, she is engaged to an obese hater, but selects the still overweight Maggie to serve as her maid of honor in spite of the horror in her groom's eyes. Ever since Olivia became skinny, Maggie has felt like an outsider to her pal. Making matters worse, Olivia has consistently let her down since the fat girl hater entered her friend's life. He is insulting as he does not hide his loathing of the overweight set including his disdain and scorn of Maggie. Angry over the latest putdown and her self-esteem lower than the ooze beneath the food chain, Maggie explodes at her once best buddy, but also vows to improve herself starting with the help of a trainer. Her need to improve leads to an opportunity for her first boyfriend with a man she has desired for ever but first she must believe she is worthy of love. CONVERSATION WITH A FAT GIRL is a deep character study that focuses on Maggie who feels alone, betrayed and shunted aside when Olivia gains a boyfriend but fails to warn him to stop his snide behavior towards her friend. The deep Maggie blames her low self regard on her weight until she no longer accepts disparagement. Her first step towards self-assurance is mental, which is more critical than any pound she may or may not lose. Liza Palmer provides a strong look at a person struggling to accept that she is an okay person regardless of her size.

Midnight Magic
Shari Anton
ISBN: 0446614661, $6.50, 368 pp.

In 1145 Alberic of Chester kills William de Leon in battle; William's father Hugh also died in the skirmish. Afterward the victorious King Stephen knights Alberic, gives him Castle Camelen formerly owned by de Leon, and directs him to marry one of the three surviving daughters. Alberic arrives at Camelen, but is not welcomed by any of the former liege's daughters. Especially hostile is ten years old Nicole who tries to assassinate him for killing her brother and the middle daughter Gwendolyn, who stands up to him. The oldest Emma shows courage as she refuses to allow debilitating headaches to keep her from performing her duty to honor her father and brother. Heeding his King's advice, Alberic selects Gwendolyn, who insists she is betrothed to Madog ap Ideal; he plans to send Emma to court and Nicole to a monastery. As Gwendolyn observes how honorable Alberic is and that the "Arthurian" ring taken from her father will not come off his finger symbolizing true love, Madog plans to attack what he claims is his property even if innocent lives die. MIDNIGHT MAGIC is an enjoyable medieval romance in which the ring provides a fresh look at true love in spite of the denials of the heroine. The story line provides a taste of the English civil war in which nobles chose between Stephen and Maud without making the losers in this case (William and Hugh) into ogres deserving death; in fact based on the behavior of the three sisters their male family members treated them with respect as Alberic does too at least with the older pair. Shari Anton provides a fine historical tale that readers will appreciate.

Beyond the Blonde
Kathleen Flynn Hui
ISBN: 0446500178, $21.95

Georgia Watkins grew up in her single mom's beauty salon in Weepeekeemie, New Hampshire, but wants to do the hair of the rich and famous not the local yokels that her mother did to keep food on their table. Encouraged by her mother, Georgia attends school and afterward obtains a job sweeping floors above Madison Ave at Jean Luc, the in spot for hair and beautification. Georgia soon works her way from a hair sweeper to doing the hair of clients that she classifies by their roots such as the Greenwich or the Beverly Hills, etc. As she rises, she also gains a boyfriend Masissmo who works at the salon too. However, when she is betrayed, Georgia leaves the high society salon to start over downtown even though the angry owner Jean Luc wants her out of town. BEYOND THE BLONDE is a fun light hearted chick lit tale that stars a wonderful protagonist who wants to take Manhattan and at first does. It is amusingly how the rich and famous pamper their hair stylists as the in crowd must keep in good stead with the person working miracles on their scalp. Fans will appreciate this amusing novel that stars a likable heroine who avoids the sub-genre's nuclear lists while entertaining readers with just the right touch of coloring.

Good Girls Don't
Kelley St. John
ISBN: 0446617202, $6.50, 336 pp.

Following her high school graduation twelve years ago Collette "Lettie" Campbell left Sheldon, Georgia to escape a terrible home life while dreaming of becoming a designer in Atlanta. Her only regret was leaving her younger sister Amy behind, but her sibling now lives with her in Atlanta. Amy asks Collette to do her a favor by covering up the actions of her eighteen year old friend Erika. Reluctantly Collette agrees as she is a "cheating consultant" at My Alibi. She makes the call informing Erika's Uncle Bill that his niece is in Tampa attending a training session when the teen is with her boyfriend on Tybee Island. To Collette's shock Bill turns out to be her best friend back in Sheldon Bill Brannon who wanted them to become her boyfriend, but she said no. Bill and Lettie go on a date that leads to so much more as she begins to fall in love with her best childhood friend while he knows he has loved her since fifth grade. However, Lettie also knows she told Bill several lies starting with Erika and believes once he learns her lies he will reject her, but also realizes she owes him truth. GOOD GIRLS DON'T is an amusing contemporary romance with a partial second chance at love at least on the part of the male lead. The story line is character driven from the zany sex toys invented by Amy to Lettie's struggles between telling the truth to the man she loves and client privilege. Though some readers will wonder why Bill never used the Internet to look up the woman he loves, fans will appreciate this fun tale that hits the right G note.

The Women of Ivy Manor: Bette
Lyn Cote
ISBN: 0446694355, $10.99

In 1936 Tidewater, Maryland Elizabeth "Bette" Leigh McCaslin finds how some of the uglier the locals feel about a German Jewgirl staying at Ivy Manor as the Klan sets off explosives to scare her and her family while her classmates make snide remarks. Still she gets on well with the other new student Curtis Sinclair. As World War II approaches they become engaged, but she has an opportunity to help with anti-Nazi espionage. She agrees hoping her efforts and that of others will stop the Nazi evil, but she also hides what she does from her loved ones including Curt. With the war over, though reluctant, Bette marries Curt as she believes in keeping her promise. However, he is not the same person who left for war and explains what occurred in France to him and demands a divorce. Pregnant Bette says no that they need to be a family and work on their disparities. The courageous Bette will remind readers of her mom Chloe, star of the first The Women of Ivy Manor novel as she bravely faces evil without blinking and tries to do what she believes is the right thing whether it is espionage or spousal confrontation. The story line paints a gloomy backdrop to WW II yet because of magnificent Bette's intrepid outlook and need to actively fight the Nazis; readers taste the glimmer of hope for a better world. Lyn Cote provides a strong tale of a valiant woman that brings to life the years prior to, during, and just after World War II through her eyes.

Prince of Danger
Amanda Scott
ISBN: 0446616680, $6.50, 416 pp.

In 1379, in the Scottish Highlands, Lady Isobel Macleod is riding by herself as she does every morning to escape the confines of her dad's home, which she is visiting, when she comes across several thugs whipping a man. She tells them to cease or face the wrath of her father. Instead they bind her and Michael leaving them temporarily in a cave while searching for the rest of the lady's party. Isobel frees them and takes Michael to her home, that of her oldest sister Christina and brother in law Hector "The Ferocious" Maclean (see LORD OF THE ISLES). . Hector informs Michael St. Clair, brother to Henry about to be named Prince of the Isles, that he will wed Isobel. Michael agrees only if Isobel says yes. Isobel initially refuses, but changes her mind and they wed. They go to his castle where his mother does not accept his new bride. While falling in love, the newlyweds search for the treasure his father mentioned before dying, a treasure that the Kirk of Rome, Pope Urban wants. PRINCE OF DANGER is an exhilarating medieval romance that stars a fabulous lead female who takes charge in a crisis and a male who knows when to let her lead. The story line is action-packed as the duet struggle to elude his odious cousin Waldron and never slows down when they seek the hidden treasure. Fans of fast-paced historical tales starring an intrepid heroine and a courageous champion will want to read Amanda Scott's latest fourteenth century Highland thriller.

The Snow White Bride
Claire Delacroix
ISBN: 0446614440, $6.99

The Laird of Kinfairlie, Alexander, is proud of marrying off two of his sisters Vivienne (see THE ROSE RED BRIDE) and Madeline (see THE BEAUTY BRIDE) in what appears to be happy relationships. However, his two siblings have not forgotten how poorly he managed their futures once he replaced their deceased parents. Vivienne and Madeline decide to find a bride for their brother before he can wed off the still too young remaining sisters. They select Lady Eleanor who wants to marry for love and passion, but knows men only covet her fortune. Alexander's siblings ask her to marry their brother. She knows if she chooses Alexander as her husband she will be freed from danger of those abusive suitors willing to do anything to claim her fortune as theirs. However, Alexander is interested in her smile that makes his insides weak. He wants Eleanor by his side for a lifetime, but persuading her he loves her starts with earning her trust. The third Kinfairlie medieval romance is a terrific entry as the two sisters avenge their brother's misdeeds by finding the right woman for him if he is wise enough to realize it. The story line is exciting but character driven starting with the contented married siblings plotting their brother's fall into matrimony and only getting deeper as the heroine trusts nothing male because they only want her only her fortune while Alexander knows he can achieve security with Eleanor, but wants more as he realizes she is his soulmate.

Mr. Destiny
Candy Halliday
ISBN: 0446614564, $6.50, 384 pp.

Since the Anderson Art gallery co-hosts with the Metropolitan Museum of Art the annual "Art in Central Park" gala, Kate Anderson, working the set-up, stands next to a painting of the Madonna when mounted police officer Tony Petrocelli tells her he is her destiny. , Kate informs Tony she is engaged to marry corporate lawyer Harold Wellington. Tony is stunned as he will have to explain to his Momma Gina that Nonna was wrong when she said twenty years ago he would meet his destiny in Central Park standing next to the Madonna. Mama Gina goes into 24/7 prayer vigil, vowing never to stop unless her son brings his destiny to Queens so Nonna can meet her. He persuades Kate to do so. However, before arriving at Mama Gina's Restaurant she has a falling out by telephone with Harold who is away on business. Tony and Kate are attracted to one another whether they are destined to be together or not, but security remains her top priority. Though Harold's reactions seem odd and removes him as a viable rival, fans of contemporary romance will enjoy this fine tale enhanced by a touch of ESP. Tony is an intriguing protagonist who never believed using logic to explain Nonna's success at predictions while also giving up Wall St for law enforcement; when was the last time a Princeton grad did street patrol? Kate is also an interesting lead character with her struggle to peal away her time with her bohemian parents by seeking refuge in a more materialistic lifestyle. Her friends, his family and to a degree Harold augment a fun modern day cross- boroughs romance.

The Widow of the South
Robert Hicks
ISBN: 0446500127, $24.95

In Franklin, Tennessee mourning the loss of several of her children and not knowing how her husband fighting for the Confederacy is faring, Carrie McGavock feels alone and hopeless. Since she is unable to remotely run the family Carnton Plantation, Creole slave Mariah ably keeps things relatively smooth. In 1864 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest appropriates Carrie's house and has it turned into a field hospital as a battle is coming soon nearby. The battle is lethal with 9,000 casualties and thousand of Confederate soldiers buried in a nearby field. Confederate Sergeant Zachariah Cashwell survives due to the nurturing of Carrie, but loses a leg. Carrie also provides care to other wounded. By the end of the battle, over 9,000 soldiers have perished, and thousands of Confederates are buried in a field near the McGavock plantation. When a neighbor decides to plow the makeshift cemetery, Carrie helped by a former Union officer, her former slave Mariah, and others re-inter about 1500 soldiers onto her plantation. THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH is must reading for Civil War fiction aficionados as the tale is well written while paying homage to a real persona and events. The Battle of Franklin apparently was a key clash during the war (though to be honest this reviewer in spite of living in Atlanta for two decades and visiting several battlefields like Kennesaw never heard of this encounter). Robert Hicks provides a wonderful enlightening look at the battle (from varying perspectives), heroic individuals wanting to do the right thing, and some not so nice souls as powerful plot focuses on the tales of the forgotten within the background of a major deadly conflict.

My Heart May be Broken, but My Hair Still Looks Good
Dixie Cash
ISBN: 0060826185, $19.95

Her loving wealthy dad Buck McBride is upset with Paige for wasting money. He tells her to get a job as he will provide no more money to her except, $2000 in her checking to cover rent for three months. At the bank, Paige backs into Spur Atwater's old truck. He is at the bank seeking a loan to buy out a veterinary practice in Salt Lick, Texas. Paige thinks he is a nasty laborer while he believes she is daddy's spoiled rich girl. Only McDonald's hires Paige, but they quickly fire her. Daddy gets Paige a job at Harley Carruthers' ranch in Salt Lick as assistant to his trainer Lester Clinton, who leers at her and uses sexist comments. Later Paige visits Stylist Station, Domestic Equalizers to rent a place from one of the owners Debbie Sue Overstreet. She and her partner Edwina Perkins welcome Paige to town. Debbie Sue invites Paige to dinner not telling her that Spur is coming too. At dinner they have a good time as he is friendly and she is earthy. Paige and Spur begin seeing each other. As they fall in love, someone is stealing horses; the three women vow to save Debbie Sue's steed if the horse is abducted. This old fashion romance is fun to follow as their first three encounters are conflicts, but evolves into love. The return of the zany support cast from the first Salt Lick novel (SINCE YOU'RE LEAVING ANYWAY, TAKE OUT THE TRASH) adds humor, friendship, and some late suspense. Though the suspense seems anticlimactic in spite of references alluding to stolen horses throughout the plot, fans will appreciate this fine contemporary tale.

Hard Truth
Mariah Stewart
ISBN: 0345476670, $6.99

Nine years old Melinda Egan vanished without a trace. Not long afterward her older brother Jason, a nasty youngster, also disappeared. The locals assume they just ran off. Years later, a section of the Stiles farm is sold. To the shock of the new owner, human bones are found that are later identified as those of Jason. At about the same time Lorna Stiles has returned home to settle her late mother's estate. She is totally unsatisfied with the police investigation because she demands to know what happened to her best friend Melinda. Her friend Regan Landry introduces Lorna to former FBI Agent T.J. Dawson, a private investigator, who agrees to look into the murders especially the disappearance of Melinda. As Lorna fears a family member is a serial killer who used or perhaps still using the Stiles farm as a personal cemetery, T.J. soon believes his job is to keep Lorna safe from this murdering psychopath who he feels still lives. Mariah Stewart is simply amazing as she has over the past few months consistently kept the quality level of her thrillers stratospherically high though she has released several novels. Her current tale, HARD TRUTH, is a fabulous romantic investigative thriller that never slows down from the moment the first corpse is found until the climax. Fans will want to read the previous tale COLD TRUTH and look forward to the next story DARK TRUTH as this is an author who provides fantastic serial killer tales that keep the audience's attention throughout.

Anne Perry
ISBN: 0345483804, $16.95, 193 pp.

Since her granddaughter Emily and her husband are going to France for the Christmas Holidays, Grandmama Ellison is being shipped off to the home of her daughter in law Caroline. She doesn't want to go because after Grandmama's son died, Caroline married a man years younger than her who is a Jewish actor. Since she has no place else to say she travels to Caroline's place and makes sure Caroline and her husband knows she is very unhappy. Her displeasure increases tenfold when Joshua's relatives send their sister Maude who has been out of the country for forty years, to stay with them because they claim they have company and there is no room for her. Maude and Grandmama are thrown together constantly and it is only when Maude dies in her sleep does Grandmama how much she grown to like her. The death was sudden and the empty bottle of peppermint syrup near Maude's bad makes Grandmama believe there was poison in the bottle given to the deceased. Grandmama starts snooping around trying to figure out is Maude was indeed murdered and if so, who hated her enough to kill her. Anne Perry's Christmas tale carries quite a punch as Grandmama, a woman who out scrooges Scrooge, comes to realize through knowing Maude that a person can change for the better if they want to. Grandmama, the grandmother of Charlotte Pitt, discovers that seeking a killer leads her to examining her own behavior and that she needs to change. This is as much a characters study as it is a mystery and readers will find it a very entertaining and special treat.

Dark Truth
Mariah Stewart
ISBN: 0345476697, $6.99

In 1989 Nina Madden attends the College of St. Ansel in Stone River, Maryland, the same school where her dad teaches English Literature. She is elated to be moving out of her home to a sorority house as she does not get on well with her stepmother Olivia. However, her euphoria dies when the police handcuff her dad, who is suspected of being the murdering Stone River rapist. In 2005 Nina works in New York, but is going home for the first time in years to attend Olivia's funeral. Father Whelan gives Nina a box from her father who died in prison. When she gets home she sees a letter her dad wrote to Olivia in which he apologizes for cheating on her with his students and driving her to take the actions she did. He will take the fall for what she did. Nina wonders if her father's crime was adultery while Olivia was the real killer. She turns to a suspense writer friend for advice and begins looking into the Stone River Rapist case not realizing that her actions will lead her to cop Wes Powell and someone else; both whom want her to drop her inquires. The truth about Mariah Stewart is she is an incredible writer as affirmed by her latest high quality thriller. The story line focuses on Nina who has not fully moved on from when her father was arrested and convicted. The note stirs her sense of justice though her dad had accepted all responsibility. Fans will enjoy this deep amateur sleuth tale as readers will wonder how Olivia could be the killer as implied by the note when the victims were also raped. Another one sitting tale from Ms. Stewart.

Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy
Jason Lethcoe
ISBN: 0345483553, $12.95, 146 pp.

Summer Jones feels like she doesn't belong anywhere and she has no special talent. Her father Jasper is a nerd like her who invents things that don't work. One day while playing in a soccer game Summer does something that makes Jasper feel that she is very special and to prove his assertion he places a ring on her finger. It emits a blue glow which means she has a superpower. Jasper takes her by rocket to Zoom's Academy where she is tested to find out what powers she may have. She flunks all of the tests but the faculty allows her to stay on at the academy in the hopes her power will manifest itself. The school's enemies, the students from the Graves Academy for the Villainous Arts attack the academy and Summer is the only one who can assure the heroes a victory but first she must believe in herself and her power. This tale will appeal to the Harry Potter crowd. Readers will empathize and sympathize with Summer because almost everyone at one time or another feels like the odd person out; Summer feels like she doesn't belong anywhere and she doesn't have what it takes to be a hero. Although aimed at the young teen crowd, adults will enjoy this bold tale and will want to see the movie version of Zoom's Academy coming out soon.

Norma Ever After
Nancy Baxter
ISBN: 0345479149, $13.95

In the Midwest lives Norma, who blames her mother for her boring name unlike those of her older and younger sisters; everyone knows Norma is the aging spinster aunt. Nearing thirty Norma believes that her chances to find passionate love is nearing an end, but has no prospects. She is a genealogist whose excitement relies on other people's pasts. Norma has been unhappy with her bland life for years. In fact she thinks back to childhood when Ken and Barbie were her ideals and her father told her exciting tales of trips around the world. Just before dying he gives her a key to his merchant marine chest. Inside, she finds money and an escape plan. She also finds a toy that make her believe her father's stories about the Isles of Orkney and Tammie were real. She heads to the Orkney Islands where she makes friends and enemies and soon finds herself attracted to a gloomy artist, an upbeat visiting Texan and especially a math professor who does not trust women after his ex cuckold him. Though somewhat like Cinderella enters the chick lit lane, NORMA EVER AFTER is much more because her sisters and mother are not nasty souls, just people who care and wants more from the underachieving heroine. It is in the isles just off Scotland that Norma begins to find herself, but who will she be with if anyone once midnight strikes still worries her especially when malevolent girlfriends and kindhearted grandmothers intercede. Fans will appreciate this strong character study hoping for Norma to have a happily ever after.

And Baby Makes Two
Judy Sheehan
ISBN: 0345480074, $24.95

Almost thirty-seven years old Jane Howe lives the perfect single woman lifestyle in Greenwich Village. Her apartment is the best; her job pays extremely well and she is treated with respect; she has terrific family and friends who are always there for her. Everything seems so right until she steps out of her apartment and sees "The Christ Child" being held perfectly by his mom. She suddenly has a need for her own child, but even if she could find the right stud that still takes nine months if they score the first time. Unable to move on since the vision, Jane decides her best course is to adopt a baby. To her shock her always been there family objects; worse she finds herself attracted to a man who she considers as a daddy. Still Jane goes through the adoption gauntlet along with other frightened females considering single parenthood until they go to China to meet and bring home their respective children. AND BABY MAKES TWO is an emotional warm character driven tale that in some ways feels like a biographical fictionalized account of the author's real adoption. Fans feel the ups and downs that drive and frighten Jane especially when her family objects and her time in rural China. Filled with pathos, humor and intelligent insights, this is a powerful and perceptive look at a single person adopting an infant overseas that fans of contemporary tales will want to read.

Red Hot Santa
Cherry Adair, Leanne Banks, Pamela Britton, & Kelsey Roberts
ISBN: 0345483499, $6.99, 336 pp.

"Snowball's Chance" by Cherry Adair. Worried for her business partner Rebecca hires bodyguard Joe to keep Kendall safe from convicted serial killer Treadwell, who escaped from a Washington State prison. Joe arrives at the isolated Montana ranch during a nasty storm that will not prevent Treadwell from trying to complete the job of killing the only survivor of his attacks, Kendall. "Santa Slave" by Leanne Banks. When undergraduate college student Christine turns up missing after accepting a temporary overseas teaching job her mentor graduate student Hilary follows her tracks by accepting the same type of job. However, concern for Hilary leads to Rick sent to retrieve her by buying her in the human trafficking market. He succeeds, but she refuses to leave until they rescue Christine. "Big, Bad Santa" by Pamela Britton. Chase arrives at the animal shelter run by biologist Kaitlyn yelling at her to run. Explosions and other attacks follow as he tries to keep her safe from abduction; her migratory chip that she developed has become the perfect "avian" weapon. "Killer Christmas" by Kelsey Roberts. In Palm Beach, Florida department store CEO Meghan is stunned to learn that a second Santa in two days has been murdered. Yesterday's Santa was probably poisoned while today's was knifed to death. Former owner Barrett hires Jack to protect Meghan. These four fine women in trouble romances are linked by Brown and Donahue Genealogy Research owned by Roz who sends her male agents to protect the women from predators. Each tale is a strong entry, which suspense fans will appreciate, but also want Roz's story (novel please) told soonest.

Comfort & Joy
Kristin Hannah
ISBN: 0345483677, $15.95, 272 pp.

Bakersfield high school librarian Joy Faith Candellaro faces Christmas by her herself for the first time in her three plus decades of living. She reflects back to last year when she shared the holiday with the two people she loved, her husband Thomas and her sister Stacey. One moth later she found them strutting together in her bed she shared with Thomas. Eight months after that the divorce became final. She does not look forward to this year's holiday season as shehas no work to hide behind and no one to turn to since the betrayal. Still she thinks of escaping to any of the zillion spots she thought of visiting. When her sibling arrives, Joy decides to flee. She ends up in Rain Valley, where she meets widower Daniel 0'Shea and his son, Bobby. She is attracted to both of them and they to her, but her life is in Bakersfield unless she can summon the courage to examine that she has nothing there and everything here, but the risk to the heart is so great. A plane crash leaves her with hope she finds Christmas in March. COMFORT & JOY is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a wonderful woman who seemingly lacks the courage to move on with her life after the betrayal especially when love is involved. Fans will wonder whether Joy will stay or go as she knows that love hurts, but leaving hurts even more. Though Daniel and Bobby are wonderful support characters forcing the heroine to decide and her sister and Thom worry for her (at least they are not evil people), Joy Faith Candellaro makes the tale seem almost like Brigadoon.

Jane Langton
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312301952, $24.95

Harvard Professor Homer Kelly has the New York Times number one nonfiction seller, Hen & Chicks. His editor demands he write a follow-up immediately so he can stay on top while the iron is hot. Homer works on his next tome Steeplechase, a look at the historical churches of New England. His wife Mary persuades him to begin the treks starting in Concord and eventually nearby Nashoba. They will find post Civil War aerial photos by the Pratt brothers that showcase a church steeple and a great chestnut tree in Nashoba; while the steeple seems to have vanished without any references besides the pictures, the tree remains standing today. In 1868 Nashoba, disfigured veteran James Jackson Shaw comes home wanting to simply die. He refuses to see any of his friends and barely tolerates the care of his wife Isabelle and his in-laws including Reverend and Mrs. Gideon. At the same time, Eben Fleet wants Isabelle as his while Ella Viles desires Eben. These disjointed relationships will collide near the Nashoba Chestnut tree that magnificently stands by the First Parrish Church. In the shadows of Longfellow, STEEPLECHASE alternates chapters so that the audience sees the real events of 1868 vs. the Kelly interpretation of those same activities. This makes for an intriguing historiographic look at how each generation re-interprets the past. Though the 1868 saga is more gripping than the current times fans of a thought provoking, yet very entertaining intelligent mystery will appreciate the latest Homer Kelly thriller.

Honeymoon with My Brother
Franz Wisner
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312320906, $23.95

Franz Wisner travels from his home in Southern California to marry his sweetheart Annie in the picturesque northern California town Sea Ranch. However, just before the ceremony, Annie stops the wedding. Stunned and humiliated, he heads home to Newport Beach only to have his boss Gary Hunt at the Irvine Company change his assignment from Sacramento and DC to Orange County. Disguising it as being good for the team does not work for Franz, who knows he has been demoted. Now angry and despondent he quits his job, hosts a mock wedding party, and travels on his honeymoon with his recently divorced brother Kurt. The twosome soon travels to over fifty countries in a two year odyssey to find one another. This is a terrific biographical account of two years in the author's life when he and his sibling journey around the world to forge a camaraderie that they had lost. The descriptions of the people in various nations are vivid and engaging, but the insightful passages are those between the brothers. Readers will be inspired by Franz Wisner's upbeat memoir as he and Kurt learn what love and friendship are all about; each understands now that "He ain't heavy he's my brother".

Masterpieces in Miniature: The Detectives
Agatha Christie
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349386, $16.95, 704 pp.

Though three decades have passed since the great Agatha Christie past away, she remains one of the most beloved mystery writers of all time, second to none just about in popularity. Her novels and even her plays have been made into movies and TV shows that are usually well received. However, apparently Ms. Christie also wrote a ton of short stories all containing her fine twists, but not seen in one package before this superb anthology. The Detectives focuses on some of writer's better known sleuths ((Poirot (8 inquiries), Marple (6 tales), Pyne (12 cases) and Quin (13 investigations)) as each works in their unique style. Also included are Ms.Christie's introductions to Pyne and Quin. The tales show that besides novels and plays, Ms. Christie crafted miniature masterpieces. Fans of the author and anyone who enjoys cleverly written shorts will want to read this fine compilation. Perhaps a second collection can follow with some of her lesser known sleuths.

Passion: A Novel of Romantic Poets
Jude Morgan
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234368X, $24.95

The mother of feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft, fails at her attempt to commit suicide, but by 1797 dies eleven days after giving birth to Mary Shelley. Mary and three other Wollstonecraft disciples Fanny Brawne, Augusta Leigh and Caroline Lamb grow up in relative comfort while the Napoleonic Wars occur. Augusta meets her half-brother, Lord Byron, but soon turns to George Leigh for marital protection. Caroline marries William Lamb, but prefers sleeping with Byron, who has tasted the harem of sultans. When he drops Caroline to sleep with Augusta, his ex lover becomes his stalker. Meanwhile Mary elopes with her father's protege Shelley, who already has a wife, her stepsister; the trio move tougher to Switzerland where Byron, physician Dr Polidori, Keats and his squeeze Fanny join them until tragedy strikes. PASSION is an intriguing biographical fiction novel that looks deep into the romantic poets of the early nineteenth century and the prime women who hung with them. The tale grips the audience especially once the players are in place as when they gather in Switzerland. Interestingly the four females clearly are the better characters as they seem alive and real while the more famous male counterparts (Mary Shelley aside) seem limpid in comparison; perhaps because one would want Byron or Shelley to be more like their poems. Fans of the Regency era will want to read this strong insightful glimpse at some of the more famous expatriates of the period.

Death by the Thunder
Gretchen Sprague
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347677, $24.95

In 1987 in Phillips Landing in upstate New York, Paul and Marion Willard get a court injunction to temporarily stop Alta Ferguson from building a swimming pool on her property. Not long afterward Sheriff Investigator Noel Riesbach interrogates the Willards as to where they have been since Alta apparently fell off the side of a cliff at the spot where she was building the pool. In 1995 during a downpour, photographer Janet Upton hears a scream and reports that to the police. The local cops investigate and find the body of Janet's Uncle Broderick Hale dead at the same spot where Alta fell. Feeling there is a link besides the connection to her, as she is also related to Marion and Paul, Janet begins to make inquiries into two deaths. This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale with police procedural ties. Janet needs to know who killed her Uncle though she assumes the motive has to do with his vote as a local councilor on the Steep Slopes Law land use. Interestingly besides the ties through her relatives to the 1987 death, Janet begins to see another connection involving land use that brings her much closer to the killer of her uncle than she ought to be as a second murder is okay in the mind of the culprit. DEATH BY THE THUNDER is a fine regional cozy.

Surrender to a Wicked Spy
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312931271, $6.99, 368 pp.

In 1813 London, Lady Olivia Cheltenham wonders why her mom has them standing on a bridge overlooking the Thames until she is pushed into the water below. Her mom screams while the "catch of the season" Lord David Calwell dives in to rescue her. She tells him not to bother as she can swim to shore, but her "Viking God" is stuck in the mud and cannot get out of his tightly tied boots. She helps rescue him, but the cold takes it toll on her so he takes her to shore. They are compromised so they are forced to marry. David loves his perfect spouse except for one annoying trait; she interrogates him about everything he does and seems to be everywhere when he meets with friends. To occupy her time and to satisfy his need, he constantly makes love with her. However, his best efforts to keep from her that he is a Royal Four spy trying to uncover the identify and stop the traitorous Chimera fails as his amateur sleuth of a wife places herself in danger from his unknown enemy. The latest Royal Four Regency romantic suspense (see TO WED A SCANDALOUS SPY) is a fabulous thriller starring two wonderful protagonists. Olivia is too curious for her own good, but that and the sex toys she brings to the boudoir make for a fun tale. David does not know whether to kiss or spank (though he would enjoy both) his feisty bride, but knows he would risk his life for her safety. Celeste Bradley provides a fabulous historical romance with the right touch of sleuthing, spying, and sex to please the sub-genre fans.

The Duchess Diaries
Barbara Dawson Smith
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312932383, $6.99, 384 pp.

Grant Chandler was stealing the Devil's Eye in Constantinople when his friend Robert Ramsey begged him to come home insisting someone close to him was killing him. Thus in 1816 after a decade away from England, Grant returns to his homeland to learn that Robert is dead and he is the guardian to his friend's young son Lucien. Grant believes Robert's wife Sophie poisoned him and plans to seduce her while finding the proof. However, to his chagrin Grant finds upon first seeing Sophie he still desires her. As he watches her care for her son, he begins to feel she could not have killed Robert especially when Lucien is poisoned. Grant and Sophie work together to find a killer who has no seeming motive for homicide. Once they ruled out Robert's gay lover, he soon learns other family secrets that shake and please him to his core. However, first identifying the killer remains the mission though the answer lies buried in a century old bloodline. THE DUCHESS DIARIES is a terrific Regency amateur sleuth romance that readers will fully enjoy while wondering which relative is the killer (no one but Grant will believe that Sophie did the deed). Sophie is a fabulous protagonist grieving the loss of her husband who ironically was more and less than a spouse to her (read the book) while keeping her nine year old safe and hiding truths from the man she loves: Grant. He is a jewel thief who logically assumes Sophie killed Robert based on loose circumstantial evidence. Finding the killer while falling in love make for a fine time for historical readers.

The Christmas Hope
Donna Van Liere
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312334508, $14.95, 224 pp.

In spite of their love for one another the death of their son Sean at eighteen threatens to kill the marriage between social worker Patricia and pilot Mark Addison as she has not been able to move on and he can no longer take it as he has grieving to do too. He is leaving her, but she fails to even react to that missive. Five years old Emily Weist's mother died in a car accident; currently she resides with nice foster parents, but they are leaving town to say their good-byes to his dying father. With no place to put Emily except in a group setting, Patricia decides to bring the little girl to her home for Christmas breaking every rule of the Department of Family Services. Instead of leaving as he planned at that time, Mark pitches in with caring for the little girl. Soon the miracle of Christmas brings these three lost souls together along with an adopted newborn as a loving family with hope for the future. Donna Van Liere always provides an uplifting tale and her fans will celebrate her latest holiday good cheer. The people starring in THE CHRISTMAS HOPE seem genuine as each struggle in their own way in a world that seems so filled with misfortune at least for them until they connect over on Yuletide season. As with the CHRISTMAS SHOES and THE CHRISTMAS BLESSING, this is an inspirational tale that gives hope for all even when life seems out of control and so dark that no light is imminent.

The Dark One
Ronda Thompson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312935730, $6.99, 352 pp.

In 1821 London, Rosalind Rutherford sees her life falling apart due to the odious machinations of her cruel greedy stepbrother Franklin Chapman. She knows if she remains biddable he will peddle her to the highest bidder. She decides that causing a scandal to make her inappropriate marriage material is worth the price of giving up her place in society. She needs someone to ruin her so she selects THE DARK ONE Marquess Armond Wulf as the ideal toy. Armond like his three brothers suffer from a beastly curse that has led to the quartet vowing to never marry. However, he finds himself in trouble from the moment he meets Rosalind who is a siren seducing his every sense to an intensity he has never felt before in his life. He wants her, but when she offers herself to him from the onset he is shocked especially when they dance; the beast within him wants to gain control as passion flows between them. However, recent murders point towards Armond as the killer, but Rosalind believes otherwise as she has seen his conscience and risks her life to prove it. This opening of four tales is a terrific paranormal Regency romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment Rosalind dares that first offer to the aptly named Wulf and never slows down until the exhilarating climatic conflict. Readers will believe in the existence of the werewolf especially the vivid transformation that lingers in the audience's mind as if we have seen a film while also wondering if beauty can tame the beast. Though the avaricious stepbrother is 200 proof stereotyped evil, sub-genre fans will fully treasure the first Wild Wulfs of London thriller.

In Golden Blood
Stephen Woodworth
ISBN: 0440242525, $6.99, 303 pp.

In another age they would have been called witches or people possessed by demons but today through the use of the soul scan there is scientific proof that the souls of the dead inhabit the bodies of those who are alive. These people are called Violets because of the color of their eyes and because there are so few of them. The government of each country puts them under their "protection". Natalie Lindstrom, whose body is inhabited by the souls of those who were murdered, was allowed to testify in court, the spirits accusing their killer and the court accepted the evidence of each soul. Natalie, tired of death and dealing with killers, leave the North American Afterlife Communication Corps to become a freelancer but the NAACC blackballs her and she is unable to find work. She is so in debt she accepts a job offer by a man pretending to be Dr. Wilcox, an expert on the explorer Pizarro. Nathan Azure, his patron, flees her to the Andes in Peru so she can channel Pizarro and find out where he hid a cache of Inca treasure. While in Peru, Natalie catches on to their scheme and with the help of the spirit of the real Dr. Wilcox, devises a plan to escape and bring the fake Wilcox and Azure down. This supernatural thriller starts off at mach one and only moves faster giving the audience an exciting read with plenty of action scenes and a heroine one admires (because she quits an organization that wants to control her). Her courage, strength and decency make her an excellent role model that readers will care about. Stephen Woodworth makes the implausible seem very real.

Through a Crimson Veil
Patti O'Shea
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526476, $6.99

The veil keeps the demons from crossing from their world Orcus to Crimson City where humans, vampires, werewolves and other species live in a fragile peace. For a demon to penetrate the veil they must be summoned from the other side. Few can cross back and forth at will; half-breed Mika Noguchi is one of those as a hybrid human-demon. Surprisingly she is even a rarer breed as she gets along nicely with her maternal and paternal families. The Orcus Council orders Mika to find a hybrid peer demon hunter Conor McCabe in Crimson City. He apparently possesses an ancient summoning spell that they want. She comes to him asking for his protection; he reluctantly agrees but wonders what her real agenda is. When a demon tries to kill her, he saves her life. Other attempts on one or the other follow leading to the conclusion at least two groups want their respective target dead. THROUGH A CRIMSON VEIL is a fantastic paranormal romantic suspense thriller that never slows down from the moment that Conor wets Mika's panties with orange juice only fourteen hours after they meet until the final explosive climax. The story line is action-packed, but the two protagonists seem genuine and the audience will believe they are hybrids. Interestingly, Mika knows from the moment she meets Conor he is her soulmate, but leaves him in the dark because he is not accepting of the obvious. Patti O'Shea spins a jewel of a Crimson City tale.

Private Demon
Lynn Viehl
ISBN: 0451217055, $6.99

Diabetic Jema Shaw knows that death is imminent as only the treatments by family friend Dr. Daniel Bradford and her will to live life to the fullest keeps her breathing. During the day Jema works as an antiquities expert at the family owned Shaw Museum while at night she is a crime scene technician for the Chicago Police Department. His wife Angelica betrayed the Darkyn Thierry Durand to the Brethen. They tortured him and though he was rescued and Dr. Keller healed his body, he is insane. The American head of the Darkyn Michael Cyprien orders Chicago Seneschal Falco Erhart to bring Thierry in. Thierry sees Jema at a homicide crime scene and finds she provides a mental anchor for him. He creates in her dreams a fantasy world where they are together forever. However reality in terms of Falco and his minion and the Brethen collide with Jema forcing a willing Thierry to risk his existence to keep the mortal he loves safe. The strong second Darkyn vampire romantic suspense (see IF ANGELS BURN) is a tense multifaceted thriller that plays out on two major levels. First there is the superb confrontation between the Darkyn and the Brethen with Jema as bait; the outcome is in doubt throughout. Secondly there is the romantic triangle between the two Darkyn rivals as both desires Jema; readers will wonder which one she will choose, if any. Fans of Lori Handeland's "Moon" novels will want to read Lynn Viehl's delightful tale.

A Vision of Murder
Victoria Laurie
ISBN: 0451217152, $6.99, 304 pp.

Professional Psychic Intuitive Abby Cooper and her friend Dave McKenzie form a partnership to purchase a fixer-upper that they will repair and sell. However, instead of the handy Dave making repairs, he learns first hand by a drill targeting his head. Abby and her boyfriend FBI Agent Dutch Rivers, who is recovering from a gunshot wound, conclude that the place is haunted by a ghost who they quickly find out was murdered inside the house. Abby believes the only way to rid the house of its unwanted resident is to solve the homicide. She quickly learns that to solve her investigation she must first locate a buried cache of jewels lost during World War II. However, someone else wants the gems and has killed before and will do so again. On top of that Abby needs to calm her ghost who is irate that Dave is making changes to her home; that seems simple enough for a psychic however as Abby knows seeing a ghost makes her want to flee into the night so to chat with a specter is giving her the willies. The latest Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye tale is a fabulous who-done-it in which the spirited sensitive sleuth must uncover the killer of the ghost haunting her recently purchased fixer-upper. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine and her injured boyfriend investigate the case only to find it getting increasingly complex and dangerous from the mortal realm. Fans will highly praise this fine ghostly murder mystery.

The Music of the Night
Lydia Joyce
ISBN: 0451217063, $6.99, 320 pp.

Sarah Connolly barely survived the poverty of the worst slums of London when an opportunity through a caring friend arises that enabled her to attend school. Now a new chance to improve her lot in life occurs when she is offered the position of companion to an elderly woman in Venice; feeling the woman is kind she accepts. Earl Sebastian Grimsthorpe had lived a hedonistic life until a betrayal by a friend Bertand de Lint and an explosion while driving his coach destroyed more than his visage; it ripped asunder his soul. Now he hides behind shadowy masks living for vengeance only waiting for the right moment. That is until he meets Sarah; she somehow sees behind the mask and begins to heal his heart. Will love be enough to prevent a second tragedy or will his festering anger overwhelm their relationship before she mends his soul? In some ways this powerful romantic suspense that grips the reader from the moment the lead couple meet and never slows down feels like a gothic thriller as the innocent heroine falls in love with the brooding male protagonist. The action-packed story line is character driven especially by Sarah, who expects a life of tranquility as a servant, which is all she wants as a street urchin cannot expect to achieve more until she encounters the enigmatic Earl. As she risks everything that she worked so hard to obtain to reach out to the man she loves, fans will hope she succeeds knowing that Sebastian lives for revenge not love. A final twist will shock the audience though afterward this subplot will seem obvious leaving fans to rejoice for having read a wonderful historical.

Blow Me Down
Katie MacAlister
ISBN: 0451216394, $6.99, 368 pp.

Her sixteen year old daughter Tara believes her single mom Amy Stewart needs some recreational time as she is always working. She persuades her mother to play the virtual reality game Buckling Swashes created by a local resident. To shut up her nagging teen, Amy agrees to try the game. To her surprise Amy as Earless Erika is quite good at the game. Soon she and blood thirsty pirate Black Corbin must meet on the virtual seven seas as both have become "locked" inside the game. Amy expects to defeat her foe as she has already bested him with swords, but deep inside she hates war and worse is attracted to her deadly foe. Corbin Monroe is stunned how good his opponent is as he was the best player in the game he created until Earless Erika arrived on the scene and defeated him. However, someone is trying to destroy Corbin on the real plane as well as on the virtual game. Corbin believes he needs to persuade Amy that they must team up if they are to identify and stop the swashbuckling villain who has "trapped" them in virtual reality. Besides that he must convince the new champion that they belong together in the real world too. BLOW ME DOWN is an amusing "pirate" romantic suspense thriller starring a swashbuckling financial accountant and the most dangerous computer programmer on the high seas. The story line is fast-paced whether it occurs in virtual reality or in the not so mundane realm (the heroine seems right that sex is better in the latter). Fans will appreciate this fine tale while wondering if love found over the web can be the real thing.

Holding Heaven
Jerry Jenkins
Integrity Publishers
5250 Virginia Way, Suite 110
ISBN: 159145218X, $16.99, 144 pp.

A father sits up with his son late one night so the mother can get some rest and thirty years later that same son is staying with his dying father. These two men are extraordinary people because they are Joseph and Mary's son Jesus. As a baby, Jesus had two types of crying, one when he is hungry and thirsty or needs changing and one that sounds like he is crying for mankind. It is an eerie sound but Joseph knows why Jesus is crying and accepts that he weeps for a sin-filled world. When Joseph is dying, he asks Jesus what is to become of him and he shows his earthly father what his heavenly father wants him to do. He will do it knowing that he will be betrayed. Joseph's hearts breaks when he learns this because he knows he will not be there to give his son his strength. The love between Joseph and Jesus is so palpable that readers can feel it and the bond they share is that of an ordinary father and son even though Joseph knows Jesus is part Divine, sent by the one true God to save mankind. It is a beautiful story, one that will bring tears to the readers for Joseph's dying lament as much as for Christ's future suffering. This is very different than the Left Behind series but it is also a tour-de-force.

Counting Raindrops through a Stained Glass Window
Cherlyn Michaels
ISBN: 1401308139, $12.95

Vanella Morris fled St. Louis and her dysfunctional family, but took with her the belief that marriage is legalized incarceration especially once the seven year itch of is that all there is in relationships surfaces. She seems to have her life together in Cleveland as she is rising rather quickly in the corporate world, doing financially fine and has an adoring boyfriend who she loves, spends plenty of time with, and is so Goode to her. Her beloved Alton devastates their relationship when he tells Vanella that he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her in marriage. Vanella invokes her O Theory that marriage nukes the best of loving relationships that she bases on the divorce rate and anecdotally her parents; she avoids responding. An upset Alton ends their six year relationship. While Vanella is stunned by his departure, she goes home for a family crisis where she sees another perspective of her family and reconsiders Alton's proposal. Though the lead couple should move to the "amoral" northeast as the divorce rates are the lowest in the country starting with Massachusetts, the key to the gender bending commitment phobia tale is the lead female protagonist. Vanella is a strong woman in so many ways yet her fears of what marriage does to relationships are palatable and realistic. Alton is a fabulous courageous individual willing to give up what he cherishes most in the world if she is unable to move on to the next level with him. While some of the secondary cast especially her best friend and her siblings lack depth, fans of strong contemporary tales will appreciate this superb profound look at marriage and relationships.

The Seventh Unicorn
Kelly Jones
ISBN: 0425206254, $7.99, 336 pp.

Reverend Mother Superior Alvere sends a note to Madame Demy, Director of the, Cluny Museum in Paris, that states that the Convent of Saint Blandine is closing and before they do they need to "dispose" of their valuable medieval tapestries, linen, and manuscripts. The nuns hope to sell their collection in order to preserve their way of life. Demy sends her expert American born curator Alex Pellier to examine the treasures only to find the Mother Superior ill and others not quite as cooperative. A bit disappointed not to start, Alex spends time with the sun of her existence, her daughter Soliel. Alex returns to the convent and finds two drawings that strongly imply a seventh Unicorn Tapestry exists; the Cluny possesses six. Needing assistance she hires her former art school lover Jake Bowman to help her track down the tapestry while promising the nuns to obtain best value for them if she finds it. As they search together, each knows that they work along side their true love, but she tried marriage once and that failed. THE SEVENTH UNICORN is a remarkable contemporary romance due to the fascinating parallels between the tale of the tapestries and the life of the heroine. The intriguing story line allows the sexual tension to grow at the same time a melancholy exists as the end of several centuries of existence is coming because progress requires a hotel not a thirteenth century monastery at Saint Blandine. Fans will feel the varying emotions that make for a superb modern day romance with a nostalgic look at the heritage treasures including architecture that becomes extinct in the name of the economy.

Mortal Danger
Eileen Wilks
ISBN: 0425202909, $6.99

Former cop now FBI Agent Lily Yu takes time off from her case searching for the dangerous Reverend Patrick Harlowe and the magical staff he stole to attend her sister's wedding. At the reception she notices a woman whom she believes is Helen, someone she killed three weeks ago. She follows the woman into the bathroom only to be hit on the head. Her lupine soulmate Prince Rule Turner insures her she is okay and to make sure she stays that way he makes her move in with him over her objections. Just prior to the incident Xitil the Great One summons a fearful minion Gan ordering the demon to work with a young looking female who shockingly does not fear the Great One and the human Harlowe; their target is to drink the blood of the sensitive Lily. Harlowe and his demonic associates have set the perfect trap to capture Lily whose only hope of escaping the minions of hell is Rule, but he may prove to be collateral damage. This is a terrific "danger" tale that continues taking heroine Lily Yu into new fantasy/horror dimensions and away from her mystery roots. The cat and mouse story line is action-packed as Lily seeks to capture Harlowe who in turn sets a trap so that she as a sensitive to magic can be eliminated. The relationship between Lily and Rule will leave the audience howling while the support cast on both sides of the fight enhances a thrilling tale of combat on mystical realms. Keep an eye out for the enigmatic Cynna Weaver in future novels, perhaps even a starring performance.

Undead and Unreturnable
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 0425208168, $21.95

In Minneapolis when Elizabeth Anne Taylor died on her thirtieth birthday, her mother bought the gravestone. However, instead of resting for eternity in her plot, Betsy got up that night as the queen of the undead. The funeral was canceled, but her mom thinking you never waste a good pair of shoes decides to place the tombstone on the gravesite anyway. Thus, Betsy visits her gravesite; a touching moment though Betsy worries she might ruin a pair of expensive shoes. However she has no time for grieving because Betsy must prepare for her wedding with her soulmate (do vampires have souls?) Eric Sinclair after totally rejecting his royal snobbiest (through three previous "Undead" tales). However, irate female ghosts who fit Betsy's profile of tall and blond demand she track down the serial killer who murdered them. Betsy assumes this is easy to accomplish as how can the culprit kill someone who is already dead so maybe now she can go shopping without the haunting of her dead peers. No one does humorous romantic fantasy better than the incomparable MaryJanice Davidson. Her latest Betsy's "Undead" thriller starts off with a graveyard scene and turns eerier by the moment yet always retains wit and amusement. Betsy is in rare form as she plays an amateur sleuth encouraged by ghostly "clones" who nudge her worse than her mom ever did. Eric is his royal coolness except when he deals with Betsy getting into one fiasco after another when all he wants is to share Christmas blood with his beloved. The support cast is as nutty as ever as UNDEAD AND UNRETURNABLE is another wacky fun fantasy with a touch of mystery and a pinch of horror mixed in the red looking eggnog.

Games of Pleasure
Julia Ross
ISBN: 0425205657, $14.00

Lord Ryderbourne is stunned when Lady Belinda rejects his proposal of marriage as she gave no hint that his attentions were unwanted; instead she accepted a proposal from impoverish Lord Asterly while informing Ryder she felt he was too dangerous and powerful for him. On the way home, his ire and humiliation vanishes when Ryder notices a dinghy containing a nearly naked female that looks ready to tip over. He rescues the battered unconscious woman, who he assumes is running from an angry abusive husband. Ryder takes her to the nearby Merry Monarch Inn where after she awakens they spend the night making love. In the morning she is gone. When Ryder continues his journey home he finds a note from her thanking him as Sir Lancelot and informing him that she is Miracle Heather, the most notorious harlot in London and now a killer too. Unable to resist, the heir to a dukedom follows Miracle's trail not yet realizing the danger to his heart from a woman he is falling in love with and from those who pursue her under the cloak of justice, but want to insure she is silenced from revealing secrets that could harm them. GAMES OF PLEASURE is an exciting historical romantic suspense thriller that never slows down from the moment that Ryder rescues Heather from the small boat until the final confrontation. Ryder is a courageous heroic individual while Heather is a caring damsel in distress. Though that first night of lovemaking when she was battered and unconscious just before their NIGHT OF SIN seems implausible, fans will not care as Julia Ross provides a pleasurable passionate tale of love on the run.

The Texan's Reward
Jodi Thomas
ISBN: 0425205843, $7.99, 352 pp.

Wounded in an ambush, Nell Smith is healing but remains wheelchair bound aided by Amazonian nurse Mary Ruth. Nell knows she needs someone to help her manage her seven properties so she puts out an ad for a husband willing to sign a prenuptial agreement of no sex and division of ownership in exchange to managing the properties. The first eleven were losers, but the twelfth shows some promise even if he is a greenhorn bookkeeper. However, everything changes when number thirteen comes busting through her door. Texas Ranger Jacob Dalton learned of the marriage mart four days ago by telegram from Clarendon Sheriff Parker Smith. He rode hard from El Paso knowing if he arrived too late to stop his "Two Bits" from marrying anyone but him, he would make her a widow. Nell tells him to leave when he offers to marry her, and she says I don't because she loves him with all her heart, but believes he still sees her as his mischievous little sister rather than a beautiful adult who has loved him since Fat Alice adopted her as a child. Jacob knows he has his work cut out to prove to his beloved he no longer sees her as his impish younger sibling. Jodi Thomas shows why she is considered the queen of the Texas romance with this fine western tale. The story line is fun to follow as Two Bits makes Jacob court her because she refuses to marry him as she fears her unrequited love will kill her. The battle of the sexes provides the audience with a fun nineteenth century tale.

Maureen McKade
ISBN: 0425208508, $6.99

A stalker attacks Chicago ADA Olivia Kincaid shattering her kneecap with a baseball bat and devastating her sense of safety. Already considered a hard case when it comes to criminals, the assault affirms her position. Still she comes home to heal on the ranch of her father retired Judge Andrew Kincaid. Andrew sponsors a prison release program in which convicts work and sleep on his ranch in spite of the attack on his daughter and the murder of his wife years ago. Olivia objects feeling these felons belong behind bars though she is reluctantly attracted to one Hank Elliot who spent the last six years behind bars for being the driver in a hold-up. He claims that he is innocent because he did not know his friend planned a robbery. As he proves to be honest, loyal and dedicated, murders begin occurring to include one of the criminals and a reporter. The evidence points towards Hank, but Olivia knows that the man she loves would not kill and risks her life to prove it. CONVICTIONS is a fascinating romantic suspense thriller in which the police procedural elements come in the latter half of the tale. The story line focuses on why Olivia wants no part of Hank as she suffers from the "rape" of her sense of well being and why Hank must avoid her at all costs if he is to get out of prison early. His younger sister showing up at the ranch as a cook assistant adds to the understanding of how much Hank lost with his indiscretion. Although the motives for the homicides seem way out and too psychopathic, fans will appreciate Maureen McKade's marvelous tale starring two people in love though both knows the other is wrong for them.

Sk8er Boy
Mari Mancusi
ISBN: 0843956046, $5.99

Fifteen years old Dawn Miller cannot believe that perfect grades, shopping with her girlfriends and joining every highly regarded extracurricular activity sanctioned by her parents is all there is to life. She is bored and tired and figures Harvard, her parents' goal for her, is still a few years away. Dawn decides it is time to break out of prison, but she must hide her escape from "The Evil Ones" who will punish her by a combination of grounding her and increasing her Harvard bound activities. Still sneaking out of the yearbook committee meeting is easy but to what remains the question. What is answered when she makes a new friend Starr, who introduces her to world of parking garage skateboarding. This is an exciting rebellious act on Dawn's part, but revolution is farthest from her mind when she meets intelligent and nice sk8er Sean McNally. She knows The Evil Ones would denounce this heart throb as a punk from the wrong side of town, but then again they would censure any boy wanting to date her before she graduates from Harvard. SK8ER BOY is a fabulous look at a teen in rebellion from her parents who have orchestrated every nanosecond of her life targeting Harvard as their child's only goal. Dawn is terrific as she is a teenage chick lit heroine providing asides and soliloquies about her life and the evil wardens who dictate her entire existence. Mari Mancusi cleverly captures the needs of youth seeking freedom in this delightful contemporary tale.

Hot Whispers of an Irishman
Dorien Kelly
ISBN: 0743464605, $6.99, 384 pp.

Vi Killbride sneaks into Ballymuir, Ireland to get her late grandmother Nan's dilapidated property, ignored by her for a decade, ready for sale in less than two weeks. She insists she does not need the place with its ghostly haunts because Nan is in her heart. Vi also plans to remain below the radar scope of the Rafferty family, especially since she never fully got over loving Liam Rafferty. However, her best laid plans quickly falls apart when she runs into Liam. He is a single father having divorced his wife in America and has come home after fifteen years away so that his extended family will be there for his daughter. Vi realizes she still loves Liam and makes room in her heart for his daughter Meghan. Meanwhile Liam reluctantly begins to feel the same way, but has doubts about a long term relationship. Together they seek a hidden treasure, but both know that the real riches in life are love. This second chance at love is a fine Ballymuir tale enhanced by the treasure seeking, which is handled differently by various people, but most interesting is Vi's whispers to Nan for help. The story line is whimsical in that Brigadoon magical sort of way just like its predecessors (see THE LAST BRIDE IN BALLYMUIR and HOT NIGHTS IN BALLYMUIR), but that also serves as a double edge blade since there is a sense of dejà vu to the plot. Still the lead couple is a sensual delightful pairing who grips the audience from the first reunion until the final challenge to their relationship.

A Covington Christmas
Joan Medlicott
ISBN: 0743499212, $15.95, 256 pp.

In Covington, North Carolina, the new pastor of the Cove Road Church, Denny Ledbetter, is cleaning out the attic when he is stunned to find the letter dated 1963 that states that a former minister never received his seminary degree and thus wasn't allowed to marry people. Richard W. Simms was not authorized to perform baptisms, marriages or other rites; he was not considered a pastor. Five couples were married by Simms (Craines, Herrills, and three named McCorkle), but none were filed with the courts and thus not husband and wife in the eyes of the church or the state. The Craines and Herrills still live in town and want to renew their vows at the church at Christmas Eve. Denny wants this to occur because he feels a strong need to correct a wrong, but also knows the Cove Road Church is in disrepair and not safe in the winter. The Covington ladies led by Grace Singleton, Hannah Parrish and Amelia Declose plan to make the miracle happen. This is a fun lighthearted regional family cozy as the three elderly but feisty females take charge to make the Christmas miracle occur while also trying to hide the truth from ailing octogenarian Pastor Johnson. As always the story line entertains the audience due to the fine look at small-town life in the Tarheel state. Fans of Covington will say I do to this enjoyable Yuletide tale.

His Dark Desires
Jennifer St. Giles
ISBN: 0743486269, $6.99, 336 pp.

In 1874, widow Juliet Boucheron and her two sisters Ginette and Mignon operate a B&B at their family home La Belle du Temps in New Orleans. Juliet has heard rumors that her spouse actually lives in Europe, but though she assumes he died trying to run a Union blockade a decade ago, she has hired an investigator Goodson to look into this. Goodson warns her to trust no one as her life is danger at the same time attorney Mr. Latour pressures her to sell her home to the Packert Investment Company. Writer Stephen Trevelyan rents a room from Juliet insisting he is a writer who needs quiet. He hides his true agenda from his hostess, which is to find stolen gold that he assumes her late spouse buried in the house. However, he soon changes his objective when he falls in love with Juliet; now his goal is to keep the three sisters safe from an unknown assailant who wants them dead and has already poisoned Ginette. HIS DARK DESIRES is a wonderful Americana romantic suspense thriller that is driven by the three sisters and Stephen, who appeared as a key support character in the gothic delight THE MISTRESS OF TREVELYAN where he learned a lesson in life. Juliet is a courageous person as she not only takes charge of the B&B, her sisters, and her son; she bravely perhaps stupidly refuses to be bullied into a sale she feels is wrong though she is unsure how much longer heritage can hold out in a southern world turned upside down in the past decade. Jennifer St. Giles provides a fabulous Reconstruction Era tale.

Take Me
Bella Andre
ISBN: 1416509577, $13.00, 285 pp.

Full-figured Lily Ellis knows what unrequited love is as she has desired Travis Carson since they were children but he prefers petit females with an intelligence somewhat below their dress size. Outside of how good a woman looks, his only other criterion is bedroom performance. Lily's sister fashion designer Janica Ellis begs her to replace her only full sized model who has the flu. Only for Janica, Lily agrees, but pleads with her pal Luke Carson to come and give her moral support. Luke is unable to go because he is due in ER, but persuades his twin brother Travis to be there for Lily. Travis reluctantly agrees, but to his shock, Travis cannot believe how sexy Lily looks and how much he wants her. However, when Lily makes it clears she desires him too, Travis flees as he will never commit to one woman having been burned by love once before while the heroine cannot believe her fantasy desires her. TAKE ME is a fine contemporary romance though readers and the heroine will initially doubt that Travis whose preference is rattling with bones rather than love handles would suddenly desire Lily like he does. However, fans will increasingly become convinced that he does by his actions and reactions including running away from love. Bella Andre provides a fun often amusing tale with a serious theme of to thine own self be true.

Jury of One
Laura Bradford
Hilliard & Harris
P.O. Box 3358, Frederick, Maryland 21705-3358
ISBN: 1591330947, $16.95

The residents of Ocean Point, New Jersey are stunned by the murder of highly regarded twenty-four years old Susie Carlson, who apparently knew her killer as there is no sign of forced entry or robbery at the crime scene in her home. Detective Mitch Burns heads the investigation while new reporter Elise Jenkins of the Ocean Point Weekly looks into the homicide too. The pressure on the cops to solve the case is immense because tourist season is about to begin. Elise learns from Susie's grieving friend Maureen O'Reilly that a boardwalk fortune teller, Madame Mariah, warned the woman to be careful. A second homicide occurs whose victim Mariah also warned. As Mitch and Elise investigate separately and together, they begin to fall in love, but first must stop an apparent serial killer who executes anyone he or she believes has broken the first commandment. This is a terrific investigative tale starring two likable protagonists who at first separately then together try to prevent a serial killer from providing biblical justice to those perceived to have broken the First Commandment (though the culprit breaks the Fifth). Mitch and Elise make a fine couple as he is attracted to her just from seeing her picture in the paper. The who-done-it is fun to follow especially with a wonderful red herring to fool the sleuths and the readers. Although the retribution killer seems out of leftfield, fans will appreciate this fine mystery.

Christmas Keepsake
Mary Balogh, Julia Justiss & Nicola Cornick
ISBN: 0373770944, $6.99

"Handful of Gold" by Mary Balogh. The handsome and wealthy heir to an earldom, Lord Julian Dare, seems to have everything; so what do you get the man you love for Christmas who seems to need nothing Verity Ewing asks herself. You give your heart to him though the risk is that he will return it broken. "The Three Gifts" by Julia Justiss. Near death from war related injuries, Viscount Miles Hampden needs a spouse to provide him an heir; that is if he recovers enough to perform. Edwina Denby agrees to a marriage of convenience because she holds Miles in high regard. Edwina tends to her new husband's near fatal injuries even as they fall in love. "The Season for Suitors" by Nicola Cornick. Because she is a pretty heiress, rakes and wastrels try to compromise Clara Davenport into marriage. She has been fortunate so far, but knows her luck will not hold out so she decides she needs a teacher to train her, an innocent, on how to fend off rakes. She turns to the poster boy of rakes Sebastian Fleet for mentoring and advice. However, the lessons between the teacher and the student turn into one of love. These three Regency romantic novellas are fun tales due the assertive females who know what they want and take charge of achieving their respective heart's desires. The men are solid partners but the strong women make this anthology worth reading.

Saving Joe
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750900, $4.99, 249 pp.

The US Marshal Service assigns rookie Deputy Gillian Logan to protect witness Joe Morgan, whose wife and four marshals were murdered by a drug lord last year, but the killer Tsun-Chung, who was released on a technicality, faces a new trial shortly. Joe rejects her offers to keep him safe as he blames her agency for his wife's death. Gilliam ignores him while she also tries to help Joe cope with his grief and guilt that his spouse is dead while he lives and that he misses their daughter Meggie who is safely away from him. However, his guilt rises as he finds he desires the federal agent; she reciprocates his deep feelings. While he assumes he has a biological need, she fears she is not doing her job by falling for the client she is supposed to keep safe. The key to this fabulous romantic suspense thriller is the lead protagonists as fans will understand what motivates Gillian, whose three older brothers are marshals and so she feels born and bred to the job. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Gillian believes in SAVING JOE in spite of his anger and resentment and never decelerates until the final climax. Readers will fully enjoy the latest US Marshals' thriller.

Not Without Her Son
Kay David
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713037, $5.50

In San Isidro, Columbia Julia Vandamme-Ramirrez is desperate to escape from the control freak she married. She only stays with her abusive dictator spouse Miguel because of their three years old boy Tomasito, who she loves with all her heart and would die to keep him safe and away from her husband. Her marital prison goes so far that Miguel dictates when and how much time she spends with Tomasito. Her only friend, outside of Miguel's control, Meredith Santera tells her two Operatives teammates that Julia would flee Miguel if she could take Tomas with her. Though Meredith, a former CIA Agent wants to kill Miguel and destroy his drug dealing evil "empire", Jonathan Cruz gets the assignment to take Julia and her son to freedom.. Neither expected the attraction, but Tomas' safety comes first. NOT WITHOUT HER SON is a super romantic suspense thriller starring the good (Julia), the bad (Jonathan) and the ugly (Miguel). The story line is action-packed with readers wondering whether killing machine Jonathan will kiss or break the neck of Julia. Miguel is a nasty soulless person who controls his wife through the threat of harm to their son more than the physical and mental abuse he heaps on her. Fans will look forward to the next operative's thriller while also checking out the previous tale NOT WITHOUT PROOF.

Stuck in Shangri-la
Kasey Michaels
ISBN: 0373770596, $6.99

Just outside Philadelphia, Hecuba "Horry" Willikins is enjoying sex with his housekeeper Lily Paige when he suddenly dies with a smile on his face. A few days later in Pittsburgh, his beloved niece Darcie Reed is being sexually harassed by her boss when she learns that her uncle died. She quits her job and heads to Shangri-la Horry's wild Cliff House home for the reading of the will. Her former fiance Cameron Pierce is being sexually harassed by a female vulture when he finds out that Horry wanted him to attend the reading of his will. Attorney Clark Humboldt shows the video will in which Horry provides for his "Little Lily Pad" and informs Cameron and Darcie that they have joint custody of his estate in trust for his cat Lucky for one month. If either leaves early, everything goes to his half-brother Edwin. At the end of the month they will decide who gets Lucky, the house, and the estate. Cameron and Darcie reluctantly agree the terms of Horry's will. However, someone wants them to fail by causing trouble between them. Though a little communication between the lead couple would have solved some of their differences, fans will appreciate this superb paranormal contemporary romance. Horry the otherworldly matchmaker through the will and somewhat as a ghost mostly observes the human foibles and communicates with Lucky. The cast is solid as the secondary characters including the intelligent feline bring out the best and worst in the dueling duet as they struggle with one another, the ghost, someone wanting them to leave, and just being STUCK IN SHANGRI-LA for a month together of no sex though both want it.

Code Name: Baby
Christina Skye
ISBN: 0373770693, $6.99

The Foxfire top secret Navy SEAL seven-man squad were all genetically changed using experimental nanotechnology and biological enhancements. Each has their own skills, but all are monitored by Lloyd Ryker from a distance. They work incidents that are impossible for normal people to survive. One member Lieutenant Trace O'Halloran uses his mind to make sweeps of perimeters. He notices strange activity from a teammate Gabriel Enrique Cruz, who can control animals, but apparently lost control and has gone rogue. Trace's commander Wolfe Houston is stunned because Cruz died last year. Ryker sends Wolfe to track down Cruz whose target apparently is Trace's sister Kit, a law enforcement dog trainer based in New Mexico, who is working with four special Labrador puppies that unbeknownst to her have been genetically altered so that they work strategically as a team. Cruz wants to become the leader of Baby, Diesel, Butch, and Sundance. Wolfe and Kit know each other so his assignment to capture Cruz seems easy except that his friend's baby sister is an adult that he desires with all his heart; a distraction he cannot afford if he is to protect her and the canines. The latest Foxfire tale (see CODE NAME: NANNY and CODE NAME: PRINCESS) is a fast-paced romantic thriller that never slows down hooking the audience from the moment Trace realizes what is going on. The story line is action-packed, but the key protagonists and the canines seem genuine even with the genetic modifications. Baby the pack leading runt steals the show in many ways as fans of the series will appreciate this strong tale as Christine Skye makes her cast, human and canine, seem like real people and dogs just having extrasensory skills.

The Me I Used To Be
Jennifer Archer
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373230443, $5.50

Allyson Cole knows why she suffers from a commitment phobia, but never reveals her reason to her persistent boyfriend Warren Noble, who periodically proposes, but she has always turned him down. However, the thirty-six years old health food restaurant owner shocks herself more than her stunned lover when she finally gives in and says yes though her fears rip her stomach into overdrive. Perhaps her agreeing to marry Warren is because deep down she had a premonition that something from her past will return; that very night the teenage grandson she never met arrives at her door. Nick Pearson is the son of the daughter that Allyson gave up for adoption twenty years ago. He insists he has no one to turn to as his mom just died. Stunned and wanting to help him as she could never do with her daughter, Allyson and Nick go on a journey to find his grandfather, a person she has not seen since she was a small child, but inside she knows she is seeking to make amends with those she cherishes including her Nick. Nick is the catalyst, but Allyson is the focus of this fine tale of a woman facing middle age forced to face bitter memories that she buried in the back of her mind. Allyson matures rapidly partially because she knows Nick needs her, but mostly because she encounters the emotional baggage that she has avoided for years. Jennifer Archer hits a bulls-eye with this fine portrayal of a woman having somewhat a second chance to right her mistakes.

Daughters of the Sea
Ellyn Bache
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373230435, $5.50

In her late thirties and unhappy, Veronica Legacy decides it is time to pull up anchor, give up on the secure middle class existence she lives and start anew. Accompanied by her twenty years old daughter Simpson, Veronica leaves her spouse to return to the only place she ever felt at home, the farm of beloved septuagenarian Ernestine Trueheart. She doubts her husband will notice that the two women in his life have left him. However, though welcomed by Ernestine, Veronica realizes you can't come home as nothing remains the same. The energetic Ernestine of memory is a slowly dying elderly woman. Still she offers Veronica what she most needs a sense of worth and belonging, but will that prove enough for an adult seeking a haven from the storms of life? This is a terrific slice of life character study that showcases intriguing individuals, especially Veronica, struggling with problems that have thrown them into a depression yet come out fighting for what they believe in. Veronica is the center of this interesting tale, but the support cast mainly Ernestine and Simpson make her a fully developed protagonist. Fans will appreciate this fine often witty but always profound look at middle age crisis.

Montana Secrets
Kay Stockham
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 037371307X, $5.50

Physical therapist Grace Korbit returns to her home town of North Star, Montana to help her high school lover Seth Rowland adjust to being wheelchair bound. He is nasty to her as he is to everyone else who enters his now tiny circle since the riding accident, but in this case he also tosses the memories of her deserting him to go east on a scholarship. She handles all he tosses at her seemingly calm until she finally challenges him to an arm wrestling match. If he wins she will leave because his muscles are strong enough to work the chair; if she wins he must follow her orders. He agrees just to get rid of her. To his shame, she beats him easily. While they work together to build up his strength, he finds he still loves her, but interrogates her to learn why she really left. Grace never stopped loving Seth, but has hidden the real reason for a decade. As Seth continues to probe, dark family secrets reemerge endangering Grace, Seth and family members. Though the MONTANA SECRETS that drove her away seem over the top, fans will enjoy this second chance at love romantic suspense. The story line is at its best when Grace works with Seth who is going through a form of grieving for what he has lost. Grace is terrific as the courageous therapist who refuses to allow her beloved to wallow over his misfortune. The added suspense seems sensationally unneeded though that serves as the motive to have driven Grace away as the prime theme is the healing of the lead couple, which makes the novel worth reading.

The Winter Road
Caron Todd
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713045, $5.50

In Three Creeks, Manitoba Emily Moore is worried about her septuagenarian neighbor and friend Daniel Rutherford, who she has not heard from in a week and who missed a wedding in which the entire town showed up. She visits his property to learn he has been gone for about a week. Inside his dying plants show he has not been there. Worse a stranger is residing in Daniel's house insisting that he is a nephew interested in his family tree. However, as the residences on Creek Road suffer a rash of odd break-ins, Emily notices that Matthew is paying more attention to her and her parents than the Rutherford family. Emily wonders is he really a relative of her neighbor or is he the B&E bandit? Regardless, she knows from the moment their eyes saw one another, something inside her heart clicked. The sequel to THE HOUSE ON CREEK ROAD is a fine romantic suspense thriller as Emily wonders whether her heart has betrayed her since the stranger seems to be "investigating" her family not his as he claims. Matthew finds the conflict of interest even more difficult as he hides why he is in town from the woman he has fallen in love with though they hardly know one another. The romance is perhaps too fast yet seems right as it adds conflict between the two wannabe lovers. Fans will want to travel down THE WINTER ROAD.

Rules of Engagement
Bonnie K. Winn
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713053, $5.50

When Army Reservist David Spencer was called to active duty, he told his sister Tess not to worry. Not long after he died in Iraq and had a military funeral back home in Texas. Since her brother's sacrifice, she no longer believes in the Iraq War nor much else patriotic. Six months later Army Reservist Cole Harrington has returned from a year of service in Iraq to find his software company run into the ground. Much of the designs he developed before his deployment is lost and Cole's laptop is missing. At an auction Tess buys a desk for her family's Spencer Restaurants that contains a laptop inside. She opens the file marked letters and finds commentaries so different from the cheerful notes her brother sent home. This Cole Harrington was a captain struggling with the deaths of his young soldiers. Tess feels an urge to give his family his letters as she assumes he died. Cole is cold and offers money so Tess walks out on him. Though his designs remain missing, Cole finds Tess at a Spencer Restaurant and apologizes. As they begin seeing one another, they fall in love, but he still believes in the noble cause while she objects to the deaths of the young by the privileged. This is an intriguing military romance though Cole is back as a civilian as the Iraq War serves as a matchmaker and divider. Tess is a delight condemning chicken hawks sending the young of others to die; Cole on the other hand believes in the war's cause, but detests the sound bites that hide the horrors of war. The software issue takes a back seat to the superb warring romance.

Double Blind
Gayle Wilson
ISBN: 0373770731, $5.99, 384 pp.

Bodyguard Will Shannon awakens to find himself with a severe headache, a terrible case of vertigo and on the floor of the living room in his employer's mansion. He has no idea how he got there with his last recollection being at a restaurant while his client drug mogul Greg Vincent dined. He manages to finally get up to go check on Greg who he finds in the man's bed dead, a bullet to his head fired from Will's gun. When he hears a car brake, he realizes the cops have arrived, but wonders who called them. Trying to sneak away to buy time, he is shot in his left arm. Will has no place to go except his former Secret Service partner Caitlyn Monroe, who he loved. She insists he see a doctor and call the police, but he refuses insisting the frame is too perfect. Will believes he must solve the case to prove his innocence; Cait reluctantly agrees to help him even while thinking how their love for one another back when they were teammates cost them both so much professionally and personally. DOUBLE BLIND is an exhilarating continual action thriller that never slows down until the final confrontation as the police and FBI seek Will as their prime suspect while he must elude them to buy time to prove his innocence. Unable to stay out in spite of her hand injury that serves as a memento of her former career, Courageous Cait has to help him, which makes her an accessory. Gayle Wilson provides a fast-paced romantic suspense starring two intrepid but tainted heroes.

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792166, $4.75, 250 pp.

In the New Orleans French Quarter Claude Lafitte slept with Claire "no last name"; the next day she is dead. FBI Agent Akela Brooks accidentally stumbles on the corpse while working a different investigation. She arrests Claude, but instead of bringing him in, he abducts her as he flees into the bayou. Claude knows he must take some sort of action to prove that he is being framed for the homicide, but is not sure what or how to evade the cops who will surely be looking for him. His only hope resides with persuading Akela of his innocence and that if he can do that impossibility she will break law enforcement ranks to team up with him to find the real killer. POSSESSION is the fabulous opening police procedural romantic tale of the Dangerous Liaisons series. The story line is filled with non-stop action as Claude finds himself caught in a web in which his only hope to escape is the law enforcement official Akela trying to arrest him. Fans will feel the sexual tension between the agent and the suspect as neither want to trust the other while live complicates the matter. In spite of the specter of the hurricane on the New Orleans' locations, this is a fine thriller from Team Carrington.

Private Relations
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792131, $4.75

Kit Prescott believes that Six Sigma does not go far enough to prevent mistakes from happening. Instead the public relations director of the erotica Manhattan Hush Hotel accepts nothing less than infinite sigma and woe on those who err. Currently her hotel is hosting a Fantasy Weekend, but to her mortification, one of the hostesses fails to show up. Kit adapts rather quickly taking over the role of escorting contest winner Peter, a man she hates for jilting her at the altar. Peter knows he made the error of his life when he did not marry his beloved Kit and plans to correct his indiscretion, but has one weekend to achieve his goal of marrying Ms. Perfect. The characters including the support cast turns PRIVATE RELATIONS into a fine contemporary romance. Readers will empathize with poor Peter who knows that he must do the impossible convince a woman who believes in infinite sigma that he loves her, made the unthinkable mistake of not marrying her when he had the chance, and wants an opportunity to correct his error. Fans will root for him, but also wish him luck living with Ms. Perfect though love has somewhat muted her stance perhaps to the unthinkable Six Sigma.

The Secret Wedding Dress
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750919, $4.99, 249 pp.

Dog groomer and dress designer Sylvie Shea fled New York with a broken heart to return to her hometown of Briarwood, North Carolina at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains mostly to regain her equilibrium as her dream was shattered. She tries to occupy her time by being too busy volunteering so she does not brood, but also keeps the wedding dress she was supposed to wear to her nuptials as a reminder of how Desmond Emerson cheated and humiliated her. Her neighbors and family appreciate Sylvie who is always available to lend a helping hand. They decide to matchmake her with new neighbor Joel Mercer over both their objections. His six years old daughter Rianne joins the matchmaking squad. She has written off men and he wants nothing to do with this skinny broad. However, as they continue to be thrown together he begins to see her in a new light. He is no longer a curmudgeon he falls in love with his neighbor who he realizes is so sexy; to her chagrin she shares his feelings and adores his child. THE SECRET WEDDING DRESS is a fun regional romance starring a likable heroine and an Oscar the Grouch lead male being pushed together by a horde of caring, interfering and cheering well wishers. The myriad of townsfolk and Rianne actively involved in matchmaking require a scorecard to keep track of them, but their zany antics opens up Joel's eyes to what he will miss if he fails to act. Fans of a fine contemporary will enjoy this delightful Great Smoky Mountain's romance.

Hell's Belles
Kristen Robinette
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880650, $5.50

In Haddes, Georgia the four eighteen year old friends know that their lives will be going in separate directions very shortly as they are about to graduate high school. They have been friends a long time and know they will miss one another. However, the quartet write letters where they expect to be in two decades, seal them separately, and "bury" them to be reopened when they celebrate their friendship in twenty years. Each vows to be there. As the years go by, Erica has become a photojournalist; Mattie owns a bookstore; married Della raises rug rats; and Shay is a psychic. The twenty years has come and gone and now the time for the anticipated get together has arrived. Each shows up to open their letters and compare what they aspired for and how that turned out. However, when a teenage girl vanishes, the four musketeers decides they must help anyway they can. Readers of contemporary tales will enjoy this humorous yet poignant reunion between four teenage friends now closing in on forty years old. The mystery takes a back seat to the insightful relationship drama characters as the investigation enhances the audience's ability to understand the motives and personal issues that drive this fine quartet and how much each one has changed over the past two decades. Kristen Robinette provides a strong character study that showcases how much a person changes in twenty years.

The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives
Sarah Strohmeyer
ISBN: 0525949097, $23.95

Housewife Marti shows little concern that her spouse communicates with her through sticky notes as she has a lover to occupy her time. However, she panics when said lover John Harding returns from Prague with a new wife, reporter Claire Stark. At the bequest of former wife Boots, who needs help with their teen daughter, the newlyweds settle in Hunting Hills, Ohio. Claire feels like a fish out of water as she sees no reason to run the gauntlet of manicure, yoga and therapy as the other wives do. Adding to her displaced feeling is Boots undermining her confidence especially in light of that Claire wants a job with the Cleveland newspaper where her former boyfriend is the executive editor, but John rejects that because they were ugly towards his family. Meanwhile Marti takes Claire shopping in order to learn more about her rival and her marriage. Other women including John's pint size mother terrorize the journalist with their suburban inanity. No one however will befriend an outsider so friendship is out of the question; gossip and scandal are in. The key that makes this fine satirical contemporary tale fun to read is the gravity that the wives place on their shallow existence as each one believes they are the center of the universe. In this milieu comes the caring journalist who has seen the harshness of life in Bosnia and now struggles to understand and fit in with the inanity of these bubble brained not so Desperate Housewives. Sarah Strohmeyer provides a terrific tale filled with the irony of how absurd that the middle class suburbanites feel about the contributions of our lifestyles to humanity.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour
Carrie Vaughn
ISBN: 0446616419, $6.99

In Denver, Kitty Norville hosts the Midnight Hour show at KNOB radio. Tired of inane 90's retro music she asks her callers if they believe in vampires and werewolves. Shockingly she gets a bunch of callers with some providing profound comments or questions. Kitty responds sometimes tongue in cheek and others seriously quoting Milton. Two months later, Kitty's once a week show is a monster hit and about to go into syndication. Six months later the show is on 62 stations. While on the air, Cormac the bounty hunter calls saying he has been hired to kill her. She stays on the air to persuade him to reconsider as they are being used by a mutual enemy and she admits to being a werewolf. When the police arrive too quickly, he offers Kitty a deal to let her live if she does not press charges. Detective Harden is irritated, but cannot do anything about it. Not long afterward Harden asks Kitty to look at a corpse, which she does. Kitty sniffs and realizes a rogue werewolf has killed a teenage prostitute. Further murders occur by this rogue with Kitty working with Cormac and Harden trying to solve the case. Though everyone accepts Kitty is a werewolf without blinking once she comes out of the closet, the heroine is a terrific protagonist and holds the tongue in cheek supernatural police procedural together. Like the radio audience, readers will believe that vampires and werewolves reside amongst humans. The story line is action-packed (pun intended) yet Kitty and several other key players come across as fully dimensional whether they are shapeshifters, bloodsuckers, purebred humans, or hunters. Carrie Vaughn provides a terrific tale starring the adviser to the paranormal crowd.

Ann Chamberlin
High Country Publishers
197 New Market Center, # 135, Boone, NC 28607
ISBN: 1932158618, $24.95

In 1428 Christian time, Augustinian monk Jean Pasquerel, a follower of the Old Religion of Merlin, knows that the young peasant Jehanne of Lorraine is the mythical La Pucelle. This chosen one will break the Templar Knight curse that cripples France. Meanwhile Jehanne persuades her loyal follower Lord Gilles de Rais, who sees her as his soul mate and salvation from a life of abuse and sin, to help her crown Charles the Dauphin as King of France. Jehanne obtains loyal military help and with Gilles at her side leads a force to try to lift the siege at Orleans, a needed step on the way to placing the Dauphin on the throne. She leads her men into battle while Jann provides the witchcraft. Still Gilles has doubts not about the skills of Jehanne or Jann, but that the Dauphin will prove not strong enough to complete the final magical step that requires a sacrifice of major magnitude, which can only be the monarch himself or some equivalent, of which he knows of none other. Adding Merlinian sorcery into a vivid accurate historical portrayal of troubled fifteenth century France, Ann Chamberlin provides a fantastic historical fictional fantasy. Jehanne is wonderful as she matures from her youthful naivete (see THE MERLIN OF ST. GILLES' WELL and THE MERLIN OF THE OAK WOOD) yet contains that charismatic exuberance that brings her loyal followers. Gilles has mellowed mostly because of his one true love. Fans of the series will devour the third tale while looking forward to the continuing saga of Joan of Arc meets Camelot in France.

Master of Dragons
Margaret Weis
ISBN: 0765304708, $24.95, 352 pp.

Long before man walked the planet, dragons ruled the Earth and even when humans started to multiply at a rapid rate, the intelligent magic-wielding beasts accepted their presence for the most part. As man advanced, so did his use of weapons and in a century or two they could create armaments that could actually kill a dragon. Maristara the dragon went rogue and took over the kingdom of Seth, disguising herself as a human. She set up a breeding farm where dragons in human form mated with pure humans. Their offspring would look human but have the ability to use dragon-magic. The ultimate goal is for dragons to rule the half-dragons who would rule the humans. In Parliament, a traitor supports Maristara and the dragon Grald in Dragonkeep has set up similar breeding programs as the ones in Seth. Marcus, the prince with dragon-magic is rescued from Grald by his half-brother Ven who is half human but below the waist he is dragon. Marcus makes his way home to his father's kingdom to prepare him for the war that is coming between humans and dragons, while Draconas the Walker who walks among humans using illusions to appear as a human tries to broker a peace before the rogues begin the war. If Draconas, Marcus and his father fail mankind will wind up as dragon slaves. This work of high fantasy brings to a conclusion Margaret Weis's delightful dragon trilogy with all the questions answered and loose threads tied up. One can empathize with the antagonist Maristara who really believes humans could be the doom of dragon kind even while they deplore her methods to neutralize them. Readers will be surprised and enchanted by the direction the author takes with her characters. Ms. Weis deserves award nominations for her magical trilogy.

States of Grace
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
ISBN: 0765313901, $25.95

In the early sixteenth century Conte Franzicco Ragoczy di Santo-Germano lives a comfortable lifestyle in Venezia, but as the owner of Eclipse Press knows the Church and others spy on him and his mistress, composer Pier-Ariana Salier. However since he has strong connections to the papacy and the aristocracy and the money for bribes he is for the most part left alone. Because of problems in the Spanish owned Netherlands, Saint-Germain as he is known on the continent travels there to protect his business interests when his publishing firm and writer Erneste van Amsteljaxter are accused of heresy. To his surprise Ragoczy finds himself attracted to Erneste and vows to keep her safe just like he does for his lover back in Venezia. However, a clever person learns the vampiric secret of Saint-Germain and much more that enables this thief to embezzle the vampire's fortune. Upon coming home, he is accused of murder so with his loyal servant Ruggier the Conte seeks to uncover the identity of the agent who stole his fortune and has set him up to take the fall. STATES OF GRACE is as much a great historical novel as it is the usual fantastic Saint-Germain thriller as the insightful story line provides a vivid window on early sixteen century Europe during a time of religious upheaval. Thus the "prime" plot involving the vampire trying to regain all he lost takes a back seat to the vibrant look at the publishing industry, heresy proclamations, and religious assaults on the papacy. Still, this is a fine tale with more historical background than most of the author's backlist.

The Children of the Company
Kage Baker
ISBN: 076531455X, $24.95, 304 pp.

Dr. Zeus of the Company has learned the secrets of time travel and how to turn mortals into immortal cyborgs that he sends back in time to hide art, artifacts and anything else that would benefit the Company in a place where the company can recover it. Cyborgs also turn young children into cyborgs as new recruits for the company. Cyborgs have been on the Earth for many millennia, raising man up on two legs and bringing new civilizations into being. Executive Facilitatior General Labienus looks at files that span the millennium to learn that the company did not play fair with the cyborgs. He has plans to take over the world and eliminate the company and Dr. Zeus if he can defeat his life long enemy who has discovered a new race of mortals, Homo sapiens umbratilis, mortals who can invent anything and are easy to manipulate. Throughout time Labienus subtly influences history so that when the moment is right he will be in a position to make his move to control the world. Kage Baker's Company novels are always fun to read but CHILDREN OF THE COMPANY is particularly good because it shows the different eras that the agents operated in from the dawn of time to the San Francisco earthquake to the future when a virus was deliberately let loose on a world so that some scientific research would be lost until Dr. Zeus "finds" it. This is a stupendous series because one never knows in what direction Mr. Baker will take readers.

The Dark Horse
Patricia Simpson
ISBN: 0765353245, $6.99

CommOptima CEO Tobias Benton believes he has located the legendary Fountain of Youth inside a cave in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On the outside "door" is letters written in ancient Nimian. Tobias knows the person capable of breaking the code to allow entry; he assumes forced access will prove dangerous as he expects booby traps everywhere. Tobias sends for employee Claire Coulter offering her a deal she cannot refuse. She will go to the site and translate the Nimian runes for him in exchange for her brother obtaining the kidney transplant he desperately needs to live. Needing money to keep his ranch Dark Horse Ranch owner Jack Hughes reluctantly agrees to escort Tobias and Claire to the cave, a three day ride by horseback though he hates going near there, having suffered a paranormal experience there as a teen. At the same time Set, an Ancient One, seeks the healing powers of the Fountain too and plans to use the human pawns to help him attain his objective; afterward he will dispatch these worthless creatures. This terrific paranormal romantic suspense thriller has some tenuous ties to the previous Forbidden Tarot tale, THE DARK LORD, but clearly can be perused without reading the first tale. Claire is a wonderful protagonist willing to sacrifice everything including ethics and love to save her sibling's life; she adds a deep moral dilemma/fiber to the tale. Jack is also interesting as he denies love while Tobias is fixated on finding the Fountain of Youth. However, the most fascinating character remains Set, whose appearances are somewhat limited yet tells quite a back tale involving the Golden Ones and much more.

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Paradise Drift
Sherwood Smith
ISBN: 0765304880, $24.95, 288 pp.

Working long and hard hours to re-link the Systems Commonwealth, the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant deserves some R&R. While Tyr is stuck watching the ship, most of the crew transfer to Paradise Drift, a place where the squad can unwind and have some harmless fun playing in a vast variety of virtual games. Adding to the pleasure is that everything is gratis as the leaders of Paradise Drift want to be become members of the revised Systems Commonwealth. However the bone weary crew quickly learn that there is no such thing as a free lunch as sh** happens. Harper is attacked by a woman who believes she owes him from a past transgression and a bounty hunter Steeleblade stalks Beka. However, Captain Hunt wants Director Vandat, but worries about political repercussions cause by his desires and to make things even worse, he loses a fortune in real money at the gambling tables while unbeknownst to him the ship is under attack. R&R is proving more harrowing than any operational mission. The sixth entry, as with the previous Andromeda tales, is a fine science fiction tale that is clearly for fans of the series. The action-packed story line focuses on several members of the ensemble cast as each expects to unwind with a little fun, but instead ends up in some harrowing scenario. This will elate the Andromeda audience, but the multitude of subplots will drive new fans elsewhere. Still Sherwood Smith does a wonderful job with the familiar players as readers will appreciate R&R on Paradise Drift.

Nobody True
James Herbert
ISBN: 0765312123, $25.95, 400 pp.

His first out of body experience (OBE) was caused by a hot potato when James True was six years old; he has plenty of them since. However, the current OBE proves different for thirty-three years old Jim when he returns to his body only to find his mutilated dead corpse was not capable of receiving his essence. Jim wonders who killed him. Could his art design business partner, brilliant copywriter Oliver Guinane, started again using the drugs that enhanced an unknown anger that Jim married Oliver's former girlfriend Andrea Dodds and they have a daughter Primrose though seven years have passed?; Oliver was physically abusive towards Andrea when he used drugs. Could it be bad happenstance that someone like the serial killer terrorizing the city did him in? Although limited in a three dimensional physical world, Jim plans to learn the truth and hopes to find a way to nail his killer, but the horror of his death pales to what he will find out as true. NOBODY TRUE is a gripping paranormal amateur sleuth thriller that will remind readers of D.O.A. (both versions) except that the beleaguered movie hero had 24 hours while Jim is past due. The exhilarating story line works on two planes as Jim searches for his murderer while also learning that his perfect personal life was filled with major tremors that he failed to realize existed when he was alive. Suspense thriller fans with a fascinating twist will appreciate this tense tale that never slows down while Jim learns that the truth is fatal.

Dragon's Eye
James A Hetley
ISBN: 0441013287, $14.00, 368 pp.

The town of Stonefort in Sunrise County, Maine is anything but ordinary although at first glance it looks like a typical New England village. Two prominent families are involved in two different forms of magic. The Morgans have a connection with the magical entity known as the Dragon whose tears turn into the jewels that are worn around the necks of the Morgans so she can see what they can see. They can also communicate with one another. They have the ability to turn into seals and are able to call on the Dragon's magic. The Haskells are practicing witches with the head of each generation living at Haskell House called The Woman. This is a refuge for women in trouble and they stand guard over the town of Stonefort. The Pratts, drug smugglers and all around criminals are working with the Peruvian drug lord Don Antonio who happens to be a powerful sorcerer. Daniel Morgan becomes Antonio's prisoner as the evil sorcerer wants to use the Dragon in his illegal activities. It falls to Daniel's son Gary, his half sister Caroline and the Haskell witch to save everyone and destroy the sorcerer without getting killed. This urban fantasy is as good as it gets. The story is told from the views of many characters so readers come to know and understand the main players though that can be a bit overwhelming. The audience will like Gary who matures over the course of the challenge as many revelations are thrown at him yet he still does his best to save his loved ones. James A Hetley needs to write more books featuring the magical town of Stonefort.

Jack McDevitt
ISBN: 0441013295, $24.95, 368 pp.

Amy Kohler shows antiques dealer Alex Benedict a decorated cup with an eagle and strange language etched onto it. Alex looks up the language and says it is Mid-American English last used in the third millennium. Amy is stunned that she possesses an artifact that is nine thousand years old, but Alex says it is probably recent with just an ancient inscription though he has no idea outside of academia who would use a dead language like English especially on a cup. As he looks closer at the relic, Alex becomes convinced that the cup is from the mythical space vessel the Seeker that legend says along with the Bremerhaven transported 5,000 expatriates from the religious intolerance of the twenty-seventh century United States. They supposedly founded a colony on the planet, Margolia, but no one ever heard from the colonists again so they are part of the mythos. Alex and his assistant pilot Chase Kolpath begin to follow clues while a rival follows them, pirates await their return to steal their booty, aliens control information, and a Survey team wants them stopped. This science fiction adventure is quite exciting in spite of the over kill of opponents that seem to run the gamut of outer space adventures (besides the above there are killing robots and weird aliens), Jack McDevitt spins a fun futuristic thriller. Readers will appreciate how the future looks back and interprets twenty-seventh century America the same way archeologists do to ancient and prehistorical societies. Alex and Chase come across as the good guys against a horde of nasty dudes though the heroes are artifact mercenaries (somewhat like Han Solo) in a fine tale that fans of Mr. McDevitt will appreciate.

Edited by Nancy Holder & Nancy Kilpatrick
ISBN: 0451460448, $14.95, 352 pp.

This twenty-two collection anthology focuses on the OUTSIDERS of society; those individuals who seem either beneath the food chain or scarred as if they were flushed down the toilet of life. These are pariahs and loners who survive on the edge or beyond the boundary of the so called acceptable norm. These freaks brood and some seem suicidal as only the maladjusted can but make readers ponder what does adjusted truly mean beyond relativity theory. Though there are some name contributors like Gaiman, Little, Tanith lee, Lansdale, and Brite, many of the authors are just as good but not as widely known writers. The tales run the speculative fiction gamut from fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, and even poetry. Overall the fine compilation is funky, way out and different due to the wacko cast, who make the abnormal seem like the normal. The Nancys have provides a fun compilation.

Touched by Venom
Janine Cross
ISBN: 0451460480, $14.00, 384 pp.

On the pottery clan dragon estate Clutch Re in Malacar, Darquel has no choice but to sell his beautiful oldest daughter Waivia into slavery to First Son, Waikar Re Kratt. His wife Kavarria is stunned, refuses to accept reality, and rejects condemning her child to the harsh humiliating life of a sex slave; a broken jaw later does not stop the claim. Their other daughter, nine-year-old Zarq, watches her previous somewhat impoverished life fall apart as her mother, already considered crazy, fails to cope. Because of her mother's obsessed actions, Zarq becomes a sexual victim ultimately turning into a sexually mutilated nun. She is alone except for tending retired bull dragons where she begins to learn their secrets. The future is nonexistent, the present grim, and the past horrid; only a thirst for revenge and to rescue her sister keeps Zarq breathing. Turning the White Dragon of Pern upside down, Zarq is terrific in this coming of age tale; instead of becoming the heroic rider of a dragon, she is the abused caretaker of aging retirees. The story line is action-packed yet provides a vivid grim look at society from within the dragon estate and the dragon nursing estate amongst other even grimmer locales. Readers will appreciate this strong opening entry in the Dragon Temple Saga that if Zarq has her way should lead to profound fascinating future adventures.

Born To Run
Stephen Kenson
ISBN: 0451460588, $6.99, 288 pp.

When The Awakening happened, those humans that had special genetic markers turn into creatures of myth and legends including furies, trolls, Orcs and dwarves. Magic has returned to an earth ruled by the new superpowers, mega corporations whose people live in secured places so they don't mix with the hoi polloi. The map of North America has changed dramatically with Canada and the United States being one nation surrounded by countries consisting of various Indian tribes and a land belonging solely to the fairies. Kellan Colt arrives in Seattle for a connection to become a Shadowrunner, a person who will take any job, usually illegal and who goes to any length to complete it and collect the credits. She becomes friendly with the Orc G-Dogg who introduces her to Lothan the leader of his cell of Shadowrunners.. They contract a job to hijack a truck and bring it to a certain destination. Although they completed the job successfully Kellan feels that the client stiffed her; when she investigates she finds her hunch is right. She and her crew decide to pay the client back in kind. This first book in the Shadowrun trilogy is entertaining, exciting and filled with plenty of action. The protagonist has more heart and scruples than most shadow runners and is able to convince (through the force of her personality) her comrades to teach the client a lesson he will never forget. Readers will like and root for Kellan just as they like the shadow runners she works with because they have fully developed and distinct personalities.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

My Very Own Murder
Josephine Carr
New American Library
Imprint of Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0451216466, $12.95 258 pages

Josephine Carr is a gifted storyteller who really knows how to craft a mystery. How this book managed to be a leisurely, entertaining read and a page turner at the same time is a mystery in itself. Guess it's simply that Ms. Carr has the knack for making it so. I really enjoyed this book.

Anne Johnson is fifty years old, recently divorced from a faithless husband, and not suffering in the slightest from that loss. At age fifty, our heroine is still feisty and fit. She lives in a spacious luxury apartment in Washington D.C. and enjoys her quiet time curled up reading by the fireplace. Anne does not have a job, nor does she want one, and she'd rather shoot herself than continue doing volunteer work. Life is fine just the way it is. Her two grown children are in college and rarely visit. She's quite comfortable with her current situation except for missing sex and hopes her hunky neighbor, Ivan Chernislava, might rectify that shortfall.

One night while sipping a martini, a voice comes to Anne out of nowhere. "A murder will occur in sixty days. Prevent it." Is that disembodied voice due to one too many martinis, or has she finally fallen into schizophrenia? Regardless of the voice's source, Anne decides preventing a murder might be entertaining for awhile at least. She enlists the help of Mary, a savvy Rubenesque cleaning lady, to help find the potential murderer. Their list of suspects includes the sexually prolific Ivan, whom Anne lustily "investigates" as often as her strength allows. She and Mary plan a cocktail party for residents of her apartment complex, dragging Anne's ex- husband, children, and Mary's husband into their scheme. The results are often hilarious but just as frequently hair raising as these two friends track down a killer.

The characters Carr creates are wonderfully humorous and believable. Anne and Mary, in particular, are delightful women with panache, intelligence, curiosity, and sex drives -- just like most women their age in the real world. If you love spicy mysteries, My Very Own Murder is highly recommended. You won't be disappointed.

Into the River Canyon at Dusk
Neil Harrison
Lone Willow Press
PO Box 31647 Omaha NE 68131-0647
No ISBN, $7.95 43 page chapbook

Poetry lovers who wonder why Nebraska produces world class writers and poets would do well to read this chapbook. Willa Cather and Poet Laureate Ted Kooser are the rule here, not exceptions. Neil Harrison and his writing epitomize what Nebraska was in the ancient past and is today. Harrison is an educated man who quietly celebrates Nebraska's land and air, who loves this ancient home of Sand Hill cranes and buffalo. He eloquently leads each reader "into a world of common/miracles."

"February" is the ideal introduction to Harrison's work. I quote that poem here in its entirety:

It arrives snow-less and warm,
but mid-month from the northwest
a blizzard wind and three foot drifts
bring a week of brittle nights,
days of cancelled classes,
and depression descends
with the full weight of winter.

You work, drink, curse the cold out of February into March
where, seeking spring you drive to the river, find robins
flocked along the road, eagles
climbing updrafts over the water,
a dozen greater Canadas,
high and heading north.

Two nights later,
in the yard with the dog,
you search the clouds,
the heavens beyond,
for the stuttering source of a primeval song
ringing clear as an answer to prayer --
the slow, rolling cries of cranes.

Whether you prefer free verse, rhymes, or sonnets, Harrison can and will oblige. I particularly enjoyed the sonnet, "That Pint of Beer Thou May's Well Let Me Hold." Here is one small excerpt:

That pint of beer you may's well let me hold.
I know it's warm but I don't give a hang;
I'm so danged hot right now it'll taste ice-cold,
fizz sweet as any bird that ever sang.

With charming humor, Harrison grouses about modern red tape in this excerpt from "Nebraska Fishing Guide:"

Your fishing guide used to be an uncle
with a catfish pole and chicken guts;
now it's 64 pages of rule after rule,
boat and tackle ads and "Zebra Mussel Alerts."

And while you are still smiling from thoughts of blizzards and beer, hunting and fishing, the poet stuns his readers with memories of the last trip taken with a dead friend:

Rank with the scent of your own cold sweat
you dream a deliberate walk through hell,
seeking a god who gives a damn;
you find nothing, no one there but you,
not even the goddamned devil.

In "Young Fawn Dead Along the Highway" Harrison grieves the loss of animals who have been carelessly crowded out of their native habitat:

A speckled lump on the shoulder of the highway
as I'm driving east near the Maskenthine turn
recalls the fawn we spooked yesterday
out of knee-high grass on Christmas Creek,
how it bounded up in front of the cows
and rabbited away ahead of the herd,
a thing so alive the memory hangs
like fox fire about this drab enigma,
as the planet goes spinning on her eerie way,
vast webs of pavement littered with the dead,
mile after mile of small fur rugs,
the slow and curious young of the year,
their executioners hoisting burgers and fries,
sodas or beers, tuning in music,
talking on phones, arguing with each other
or scribbling out poems, flying
blind down the highways.

In these 43 pages, readers will experience laughter and awe, joy and despair, death and resurrection. Neil Harrison shares his heart and spirit, his love of Nature, and his quest for understanding "the human and inhuman race." This chapbook is highly recommended.

The Dacian Resurgence
W. R. Park
Winterwolf Publishing
PO Box 1373 Westerville OH 43086-1373
ISBN: 0977263215, $14.95 241 pages

In this follow up to Overlay, W.R. Park reprises his crack covert ops team to thwart a global threat rooted in ancient times. Every major power on Earth is at risk from female descendents of Dacian warriors slaughtered by Roman legions in 105 A.D. It's on this tantalizing premise that Parks builds his latest action thriller.

The Dacian Resurgence picks up a year after Overlay ended. Rance Colby, dubbed The Shadow Master by a previous U.S. president, now lives in anonymity with the only woman he ever loved. His life as "Adam Rance", now married to Mac, is idyllic until old friend General Rubin Brock calls them to action. Their comrade and friend, Russian General Dmitry Rutskoy, is missing after making a cryptic phone call to Brock. Initially, the only information available to the team is Rutskoy's general location in Romania. Rance and Mac enlist long time friends and fellow operatives Arturo Testaccio and Alvin L'Ami to assist in the search for Rutskoy. In the course of Rutskoy's rescue, they discover a conspiracy of global proportions involving the first female Vice President of the U.S., Sheila Wolverton. Wolverton is willful and ruthless as she rallies female Dacian descendents from around the world and places them in positions of power. Rance soon pinpoints each major player in Wolverton's plot, but the ultimate purpose remains a mystery until the shocking climax.

The Dacian Resurgence has all the elements required to make a memorable book or movie. Rance and his friends are multi-dimensional characters with appealing strengths and sometimes humorous frailties. The plot, beginning in ancient Romania and progressing to the modern day, moves swiftly to an exciting conclusion. When Hollywood runs out of Die Hard, Rambo, and Bourne clones, maybe they'll consider W.R. Parks' Shadow Master and friends.

More of Me Disappears
John Amen
Cross-Cultural Communications
239 Wynsum Ave. Merrick NY 11566-4725
ISBN: 0893048887, $12.00 77 pages

John Amen's second full-length book of poetry provides intense imagery and brilliant contrasts of bitter and sweet, natural and surreal. Through his odyssey of words readers experience our modern world, provided with that distinctive Amen twist:

"this garden of wilted grace"
"the poison ivy of hollow hours"
"the ash and ember of our days"
"fertile mesas/where grief is the native tongue"
"feasting at a smorgasbord of hunger"

This poet has known joy in equal measure to rejection, love as well as sorrow, demonstrated in this excerpt from "Breathing:"

When spring's fullness rages like a master's palette,
when you grow heavy with remembrance, I promise
to strum my guitar until your muse descends,
the perfect lyrics and melody deliver you.

"Vacillations" is a long poem in fourteen parts. Amen's use of imagery delights in the familiar in these excerpts:

Dogwood blossoms throb in the twilight,
whispering in a code I cannot decipher.

Cicadas swarm like tourists; frogs
conspire behind every blade of grass.

The beauty of these days is unbearable.
August again -- sleep feels like suicide.
* * * * The music of the iris is hard to withstand;
its purple song claws at my heart

One critic aptly described Amen's poetry as being full of "electric lines that sting the senses." More of Me Disappears does sting and startle, but also soothes as Amen plumbs "bright places for new symbols."

Summer Snow
William T. Hathaway
Avatar Publications Canada
Avatar Publications US
6 Pembina Place 320 Dudley Street St. Albert, AB Brookline, MA 02445 T8N 4P7
ISBN: 097384423X, $14.99 208 pages

Our world today is stressful, confusing, and chaotic. Modern power mongers haggle, buy, and sell violence and death on a daily basis. No country on earth is exempt from such destruction. Our minds and spirits are overwhelmed, craving peaceful havens from the turmoil. Summer Snow is a beautifully written fictional story about one American who found that elusive peace. William Hathaway's exceptional writing style makes this novel a stand out.

The harm we do others always comes back to us. No one understands that cosmic law better than Jeff Madsen. Madsen is a fiftyish military veteran whose tour in Vietnam is long past but still stirs the warrior in him and haunts his memory. His marriage has failed and his position as U.S. State Department Foreign Aid officer is less than satisfying. In Kyrgyzstan, he battles alcoholism and boredom with meaningless diplomatic functions and one night stands. His job is a balancing act, placating the Russian and Kyrgyz military while trying not to offend Muslim potentates. When terrorists steal a weapon of mass destruction, Jeff's warrior instincts resurface.

Cholpon is a Sufi sister in her mid thirties. This gentle group of Sufi women live in a remote mountainous area of Kyrgyzstan and have survived communism and Muslim mullahs who despise them. For fifteen years Cholpon has grown in spirit and power. From Djamila, the Sufi leader, she's learned to harness transcendental meditation and astral channeling to strengthen her chakras. Cholpon meets her karma head on in the person of Jeff Madsen, who shows up on her doorstep singed and bleeding from a terrorist attack nearby. Cholpon heals him metaphysically, and soon she becomes a loving spark of life to a heart Jeff thought was dead.

Visiting Cholpon's mountain home clears Jeff's mind and heals his spirit. No longer a human predator, he knows the Sufi way of harmony and peace may be the only chance Earth has of surviving endless war. When Cholpon and her gentle sisters locate the stolen atomic warhead, Jeff fears for their survival. Will the Sufi's peaceful interventions or man's warring nature save millions from destruction?

Hathaway skillfully weaves a touching love story into this modern day adventure thriller. Sufi mystics, militant terrorists, and atavistic men of every nationality come together in surprising ways. Summer Snow is a true picture of the world we live in as it is, and as it could be if lasting love and peace were possible.

Both Sides of Nice
Helen Brockman
KS Publishing, Inc.
1814 Claflin Rd. Manhattan KS 66502
ISBN: 0975410938, $27.95 570 pages

Helen Brockman is a Renaissance woman whose many accomplishments have spanned 104 years to date and she's still going strong. Yes, Helen Lewis Brockman is 104 years old and still pursuing her dreams. Her life as teacher, ground breaking New York designer, Bell Labs employee with top security clearance, insurance industry organizational expert, university educator, author, poet, astrologer, world traveler is detailed in fascinating style in Both Sides of Nice. Brockman created her careers out of thin air when opportunities presented themselves. She's come a long way from the inquisitive child born in Iowa to her current status as gracious hostess of Brockman House in Manhattan KS. Not one minute of her journey has been boring.

Helen Lewis married Dale Brockman in 1926 and the newlyweds moved to New York City. Employment opportunities were limited for women in those days so Helen created her own niche in the garment district. Despite physical illnesses and an emotional breakdown borne of exhaustion, Helen networked her way to important positions as a designer through talent and determination. When the U.S. entered World War II, Dale was drafted and sent to Louisiana. The deep south was far removed from Iowa and New York City, but Helen thrived there thanks to her natural charm and an ancestral tree that boasts Jefferson Davis among its branches. When Dale unexpectedly asked for a divorce while stationed in England, Helen returned to New York and recreated herself again. She worked for Bell Labs during and after the war, then became an insurance industry methods expert before returning to the fashion industry. At age 66, fate delivered her to Kansas State University in Manhattan KS, where she lives today.

Imagine what Helen Brockman has experienced from 1902 to 2005! She witnessed first hand every major happening of the 20th century; she successfully created several professions for herself and excelled at every one; she traveled to Europe, Russia, China and beyond; and she counts among friends, acquaintances, or mentors many famous people who remain household names today. Helen Lewis Brockman is an amazing woman -- humorous, gifted, outspoken, and delightfully intelligent. And every facet of her shines in this beautifully written memoir. Highly recommended.

Manhattan Mysteries An Anthology
KS Publishing, Inc.
1814 Claflin Rd. Manhattan KS 66502
ISBN: 0975410946, $12.00 150 pages

The Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave is an annual event of equal interest to both readers and writers of mysteries. This book is the result of a writing contest, an anthology celebrating small town mysteries. Manhattan, Kansas is that small town, also known as The Little Apple and the home of Kansas State University. It's a small town with a big reputation and a fascinating history.

The twelve short stories in Manhattan Mysteries are presented chronologically. Each story has a colorful introductory commentary establishing the time period and historic perspective. Manhattan was founded in the mid-1850s where Wildcat Creek spills into the Kansas River. "Beecher's Bibles" by Warren Bull documents that time, when Manhattan was a remote frontier outpost and even children faced the dangers lurking in Bleeding Kansas. And later, during the depression and two world wars, it was essential that townsfolk pull together for survival. "Mrs. Fritche's Missing Chicken" by Margaret Shauers details such a time, when even one missing chicken could turn a small town upside down. "Cloche Encounter" by Robin Higham with Marolyn Caldwell introduces a savvy 1930s heroine who teaches a gambler and con man lessons he won't forget. And in a dark mystery also written by the team of Higham and Caldwell, "The Case of the Missing Professor," we learn that greedy liars seldom win. In "A Flood of Opportunity" by Pamela J. Fesler, two friends make a bad choice during floods that devastated Manhattan in 1951. "Dead Pool" by Jerry A. Peterson, also set during the great flood of 1951, proves that confession is good for the soul, especially where murder is concerned. In another tale by Peterson, "Big Dam Foolishness", justice is compassionately served by a lawman who looks beyond the law. "Flamingo Fatality" by Beth Groundwater, set in present day Manhattan, is a seriocomic tale whereby a local tradition is upstaged by murder. Spotting celebrities in Manhattan is more common that you might think. In "Manhattan Famous" by Michelle Mach, two enterprising teenagers outsmart the paparazzi. Whether small town or large city, everybody scrambles when a child goes missing. In "Mikey's Gone" by Margaret Shauers, it helps if searchers can think like a child and know the territory. In the third winning entry by Margaret Shauers, "Aunt Merle Rules Aggieville," a foxy aunt saves the day when a ring is stolen. The final story in the anthology is "Cached Out in the Little Apple" by Linda Berry. In this 21st century tale, a wife learns all she needs to know about geo-caching and teaches her husband and his friend some new GPS coordinates.

Each of these twelve tales is deserving of its placement in Manhattan Mysteries. The winning entries come from around the country and readers won't need to be residents of Kansas or Manhattan to enjoy them. If you love a dandy mystery and enjoy good writing, this anthology is highly recommended. All proceeds from Manhattan Mysteries will benefit the Manhattan Public Library.

House of the Deaf
Lamar Herrin
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Blvd. #195 Lakewood CO 80214
ISBN: 1932961119, $23.95 272 pages

House of the Deaf, simply stated, is an extraordinary novel. Lamar Herrin has crafted a quietly harrowing, memorable story about a despairing man who struggles to rebuild his broken life by seeking answers. The characters are impeccably developed as Herrin gently reveals layer after fragile layer of human strengths and failings.

Ben Williamson is 48 years old, financially comfortable, and floundering emotionally. His oldest daughter, Michelle, was the innocent victim of a terrorist bombing in Madrid three years ago. His wife, Gail, is a woman of relaxed ethics who has blithely burned her bridges and left their marriage behind. Williamson devotes his life to the surviving daughter, Annie, who has always considered herself to be nothing more than a "back up daughter" trapped in Michelle's determined wake. After three years of smothering grief, Ben suddenly and unexpectedly takes action. It's a long way from Lexington, Kentucky to Madrid, Spain, but Ben heads there in hopes of tracing down the reasons for Michelle's death.

In Madrid, Ben wanders narrow Spanish streets and wide plazas that eventually lead him to the place his daughter died. He learns that Basque separatists, known as the ETA, were responsible for the bombing. Information he discovers during research says the Basque were the only insurgents Generalissimo Franco was unable to wipe out. In fact, down through the ages, the Basque and their mountainous regions have never been conquered by any invader.

Ben loses himself in Madrid. He meets an earthy divorcee, Paula, who makes him feel half human for awhile, but even that small pleasure is not enough to bring him peace. Ben wants answers, no matter what the cost to him personally. His intuition tells him those answers will be found only in Basque strongholds so he simply disappears from Madrid as he had from his home in Kentucky, leaving Paula behind.

Ben's quest for answers transforms him completely. He's no longer a dullard enclosed in a predictable life. He learns to stretch life's parameters, trust his intuition, and feels a sensory connection to Paula and his daughter Annie. These three come together in the Basque mountains just as Ben confronts the man he blames for Michelle's death.

The storyline is exciting and all characters believably human. The sights, scents, and essence of Spain become living entities throughout the book. But it's Herrin's gift of skillfully revealing each person's inner life and thoughts that makes House of the Deaf a standout. Highly recommended adult reading.

Airball My Life in Briefs
L.D. Harkrader
Roaring Book Press
Div. of Holtzbrinck Publishing
143 West Street New Milford Connecticut 06776
ISBN: 1596430605, $16.95 198 pages

This is a totally delightful book, perfect for youthful readers and adults. I chuckled, grinned, laughed out loud, and empathized with each character in turn. L.D. Harkrader captures the humor, hopes, dreams, and failings of young people and adults perfectly.

Kirby Nickel is a seventh grader who lives in a basketball crazy town. Only problem is, he can't play basketball. Kirby is clumsy and nerdy, shunned by jocks, terrified of his P.E. coach, an orphan raised by his grandmother. He lives in Stuckey Kansas -- population 334 -- the hometown of Kansas University hero and NBA icon Brett McGrew. Stuckey has not had a winning season since McGrew was in school and Coach Mike Armstrong is determined this year will end that losing streak. According to Kirby, Armstrong's philosophy of coaching is "Practice till you puke." Most boys in Stuckey dream of basketball scholarships, playing for Kansas University, then heading off to the NBA like their hero, McGrew. Kirby dreams of riding the bench with confidence, of injuries to keep him off the team, and of locating a father who disappeared before he was born. Kirby has been gathering evidence for years and believes Brett McGrew is his father. But will McGrew reject him? Kirby knows too well that sometimes the thing you want the most in the world doesn't want you back.

K.U. is retiring McGrew's jersey and invites the 7th grade team from Stuckey to participate. With few exceptions, the team members are graceless players. Coach Armstrong's plan is to boost their confidence and enhance team spirit. He shows up for practice in his underwear and presents the boys with invisible "stealth uniforms" that will make them faster and smarter players. To Kirby's surprise, he's elected team captain, a position he takes seriously. The boys improve dramatically while practicing in their underwear. They learn to function as a team, thanks to Kirby's influence and the stealth uniforms.

I won't divulge more of the plot except to say the characters in Airball are wonderful. Kirby is one of the best characters I've discovered in recent memory. The grandmother who nurtured him from infancy is a terrible cook, and a basketball fanatic. Coach Armstrong is a strong role model who sympathizes with the team because he has his own secret dreams and disappointments. And Kirby's teammates are typical boys longing for acceptance and striving to excel. This story is an encouraging, uplifting, rewarding slice of American life. Airball is perfection and highly recommended.

Witch Way to Murder An Ophelia and Abby Mystery
Shirley Damsgaard
Avon Books
an imprint of Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd Street New York, NY 10022-5299
ISBN: 0060793481, $6.99 292 pages

In this first Ophelia and Abby mystery, we meet the delightful heroines and the odd assortment of citizens in their small town. Ophelia Jensen is a small town librarian, hiding from a painful past in Summerset, Iowa. Ophelia's grandmother, Abby, is a warm hearted, nurturing woman who uses her psychic gifts and the healing arts learned in Appalachia in helpful ways. Ophelia isolates herself and fights against the psychic powers passed down through the generations in her family. Life has been safe and quiet in Summerville. Unfortunately for Ophelia, it doesn't stay that way. Someone has been stealing anhydrous from surrounding farms. Then the local newspaper office is trashed. Ophelia ignores the local troubles until a handsome stranger shows up at the library masquerading as a chemical salesman.

Richard "Rick" Davis is a charmer. Ophelia dislikes him from first meeting and suspects he isn't what he seems. He combs through the library archives daily and asks suspicious questions of the townfolk. His attraction to the shy librarian is immediate, but Ophelia isn't buying his line. Romance is the last thing on her mind. Odd dreams have been disrupting her sleep, and she finds a corpse while walking in the woods. Abby warns Ophelia of a hidden danger, tries to keep her safe, but there's only so much white witchcraft can do for an uncooperative subject. To survive, Ophelia must acknowledge her psychic gifts and use them.

Damsgaard has created appealing characters in Ophelia and Abby. The storyline is inventive and the small town Iowa locale ideal. The second in this series will be out soon and I can't wait to see what Damsgaard's heroines tackle next! If you want something different in your mysteries, I recommend you check out Ophelia and Abby.

Pope Caesar's Wake Letters Exchanged with Pope Woytyla
Joe Ruggier
Multicultural Books
307 Birchwood Court 6311 Gilbert Rd. Richmond, BC, V7C3V7
ISBN: 0973839244, $36.95 350 pages

In a forward by Michael Burch -- award-nominated American poet and editor of The HyperTexts -- he describes Joe Ruggier as a nail and the Catholic Church as the hammer. After reading Ruggier's book, I understood the nail and hammer metaphor. Ruggier is a poet, scholar, and writer who found himself in a state of physical, emotional, and financial shipwreck. As a staunch lifelong Catholic, he believed the Church should guide and protect the fragile. In his case, the opposite was true. He had been abused and humiliated as a child, shunned and ridiculed as an adult, and harshly judged by his home Church. For him, forgiveness of those who mistreated him had become a medical necessity by 1981. His exchange of letters with the Vatican began with the asassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 and ended after the Pope's death in 2005.

Ruggier's letters to the Pope begin as a tribute to a unique, beloved man. Beautiful odes and prose poems express his love of John Paul II and the Church as a whole. He wants to understand what the Pope really thinks and feels, invites him to criticize the sentiments expressed, and seeks spiritual direction. Ruggier speaks what's in his heart -- grief over a failed marriage, the fearsome results of mental and physical illness, sorrow over decades-long mistreatment by fellow Catholics. In response to these poignant letters, Ruggier receives apostolic blessings through Papal secretaries.

As time passes, Ruggier shares his thoughts on missionary outreach. He considers his writings a religious calling representing all Artists, just as Pope John Paul II represents the Church of Rome. He requests a Papal appointment as missionary supported by a small stipend to pursue his writings related to the Church. No surprise, the Vatican is generous with promises of prayer but loathe to part with any of the money that lavishly supports their privileged enclave. He threatens, cajoles, and pleads in hopes of receiving just one personal word of kindness or compassion from the Pope. Joe Ruggier, like every artist, wants his voice to be heard and valued, so he shares his precious God-breathed books as gifts to the Pope.

The correspondence with John Paul II finally becomes what Ruggier calls "a macabre dialog." The author takes often humorous and occasionally profane revenge on the Church that has callously failed him through empty platitudes, barren rituals, and stony silence. Sadly, Pope Caesar's ears are deaf to Joe Ruggier, just as they have been to the ragged masses who supported the Vatican since its inception. Despite his disillusionment, Ruggier loves the Church and Papacy. He reconciles himself to Pope John Paul II's silence, understanding that failing health and other obligations prevent such personal replies. The book ends with a touching elegy written by Ruggier in honor of Pope John Paul II after his death.

Joe Ruggier's poetry and prose are worth discovering. No matter what he writes, he shares his heart and spirit in amazing ways. If I had been Pope John Paul II, I would have eagerly entered into correspondence with this man. These letters and sentiments represent a microcosm of Church members as a whole. If the Church cares how they are perceived by Catholics and others around the world, that hierarchy would do well to read this book. It should be required reading for all priests everywhere.

Abraham Lincoln for the Defense
Warren Bull
P.O. Box 151 Frederick MD 21705
ISBN: 1592868312, $19.95 199 pages

Abraham Lincoln was a man "so curiously ugly he was almost beautiful." Nothing transformed Lincoln so effectively as his work at trial. His humor, inate intelligence, and common sense approach appealed equally to fans and opponents alike. It is a young Abe Lincoln introduced to readers by Warren Bull. The year is 1841, the location Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln is a self-taught lawyer and State Assemblyman. Citizens still have more faith in "frontier justice" than they do the law. It's within this framework that Lincoln tackles the most troubling and unusual trial of his fledgling career.

William, Arch, and Henry Trailor are well-respected brothers and farmers who visit Springfield with Archibald Fisher in May of 1941. When Fisher disappers without a trace, rumors start to fly. Gossipers work overtime and soon a simple disappearance has been transformed into cold blooded murder. The local sheriff and a politically motivated prosecutor conspire to pin murder on the Trailor brothers. Abraham Lincoln is out of town attending his Circuit Court duties. The sheriff sends his two honest deputies to arrest the Trailors. With Lincoln and deputies Maxey and Wickersham out of Springfield, the sheriff and prosecutor are free to fire the men of town into a drunken mob. They arrest Henry, the weakest Trailor and easiest to manipulate. Through starvation, loss of sleep, and psychological torture, a confession is forced naming William and Arch Trailor as perpetrators. Everything is proceeding as planned, until Lincoln returns to town sooner than expected.

Lincoln is retained by William Trailor's daughter to defend the innocent men. Carefully and methodically, Lincoln evaluates the evidence and questions the accusers. The harshest accusers are a jealous, spiteful widow spurned by William Trailor and a crooked prosecutor out to build a politically viable reputation. At trial, Lincoln demonstrates the skill and intelligence that would propel him to the Presidency in later years. Among those witnessing the trial, enthralled, is young Mary Todd.

Abraham Lincoln for the Defense involves an actual murder trial. Warren Bull does a fine job of presenting Lincoln as a young man just beginning to understand humanity's weaknesses and strengths. He is not yet the confident and charismatic politician, but the blossoming strength and potential are apparent. Lincoln devotees and those curious about the history of America's most beloved president should love this book.

Dear Earth A Love Letter from Spring Hollow
Radine Trees Nehring
St. Kitts Press
P.O. Box 8173 Wichita, KS 67208-0173
ISBN: 0963662023, $17.95 164 pages

Radine Trees Nehring and her husband were like most young married couples in the Seventies. They both had jobs and worked to support their mortgage and lifestyle. A support system of family and friends was near at hand, and Tulsa OK provided any service or activity the Nehrings desired. Life was good -- busy, noisy, crowded, and hectic, but good. Their life changed when they bought a parcel of land in the Arkansas Ozarks for a weekend retreat.

The Nehrings named their haven from the city Spring Hollow. Surrounded by hardwood forests and native wildflowers in season, with only nature sounds to soothe them, everyday cares soon faded. Each weekend the Nehrings breathed pure air while tramping through deep woods and listening to the gurgling stream meandering along their property. They returned to Tulsa refreshed and renewed, and before too long a weekend didn't seem adequate so they planned and built together a small cabin at Spring Hollow.

Breaking a family centered social life and abandoning big city services was difficult at first when the Nehrings moved to Spring Hollow. But their priorities rapidly changed. Nature's comforting night sounds surrounded them. They awoke each morning to sun dappling on leaves. And always in the background was the sound of water coursing through their rocky stream. They created gardens out of rocky soil and learned to take Nature on her own terms. Spring Hollow changed their life and taught them an important lesson: No matter what we do to her, Nature reasserts herself and holds the real power.

This winner of the Oklahoma Writers Federation Best Nonfiction Award is beautifully written and presented. Ms. Nehring educates, informs, and entertains readers with her friendly, intimate writing style. Dear Earth would make a wonderful gift to readers of any age.

A Treasure to Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
St. Kitts Publications
P.O. Box 8173 Wichita KS 67208
ISBN: 1931206007, $16.00 280 pages

Radine Trees Nehring loves Arkansas and shares that love with her readers in countless ways. Through this popular mystery series, creative non-fiction, radio programs, or magazine and newspaper features, Nehring fondly documents the attributes of Arkansas and its people. This third in Nehring's mystery series finds her intrepid protagonists in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

What sets this series apart from others of the genre are Nehring's two main characters. Carrie Culpeper McCrite and Henry King are senior citizens. Carrie is a feisty mite of a woman, determined to be strong and independent after the death of her husband. Henry is a retired cop, freed of a loveless marriage, madly in love with Carrie, and equally determined to play the role of protector. Carrie and Henry have learned to trust each other and value their relationship. Whatever Carrie wants to do, Henry goes along. Sometimes reluctantly. When Carrie decides it might be fun to visit an Elderhostel in Hot Springs, the two friends set out on their latest adventure.

Hot Springs is a city with an intriguing history, beginning in the 16th century. Its past has a seamy side, too, which Carrie and Henry soon discover. Bath houses no longer in use were once the gathering places of mobsters, murderers and thieves. Rumors of money buried deep in the floors and walls of one particular bath house have persisted for decades. Despite Henry's worry, Carrie simply MUST investigate. Her investigation lands them both in hot water, literally and figuratively. And Henry has more on his hands than simply keeping Carrie alive when a slick and smarmy senior citizen named Everett Bogardus takes a shine to Carrie. Henry knows the time has come to declare his love and ask Carrie to marry him, IF he can keep them both alive long enough.

Carrie McCrite and Henry King are delightful characters and Hot Springs plays its part in this mystery very well. Nehring mixes humor, romance, mystery, history, and murder into a fine potpourri. And the best part of all is that readers get to go along for the ride.

Dry Spell: Tales of Thirst and Longing
A Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Anthology
RMFW Press
P.O. Box 260244 Denver CO 80226-0244
ISBN: 0976022508, $11.00 103 pages

The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization is well known and respected across the country. It's easy to understand that renown and respect after reading this anthology. Each story is well-crafted and perfectly captures the title, regardless of genre. Everything from horror to humor to romance is represented here.

The Tiffany Dome by Kay Bergstrom is a nostalgic slice of life tale that centers around shopping. A contemporary mother hits the mall with her critical daughter, and gains comfort from remembering shopping in a different era with her grandmother. The ending is memorable.

Slender and Pale by William M. Brock is a macabre tale of harship, loss, and madness. Whose madness and why is open to debate. If you don't get chills from the ending of this one, you're not alive!

Atacama by by Sally H. Clark is a poignant tale about promises made and kept through two generations. This story proves that, ultimately and triumphantly, we CAN go home again.

Losing My Grip by Sharon Cairns Mann is an achingly bittersweet tale of a famous artist who loses everything that matters to her. In every way a woman can, this heroine loses her grip.

No Return by Liz Hill features a bottle of cognac and a woman ill-prepared for the memories it ignites. Food preparation, cognac, and a long-past day at the beach combine to warm a cold winter day epitomize thirst and longing.

Grandpa's Little Habit by Anne-Therese Macdonald is alternately humorous and touching as a sly octogenarian outwits a humorless daughter. Realistic family interactions star in this one.

Electric Charity by Constance Gelvin is a humorous portrayal of mother and daughter trying desperately to succeed in a dog-eat-dog world. In the end, their individual longings bridge the generation gap.

A Taste of Calico by Kevin Paul Tracy is a dandy little tale of an oddly devoted pair of friends threatened by a devious woman. Starvation and dehydration in the desert can be overcome, if you keep your wits about you.

Last Chance Texaco by Jane Greensmith proves that we can't recapture love and youth or repair a broken marriage, not even in a Woody. But sometimes miracles happen in the desert if we're lucky.

New Zealand by Beth Groundwater beautifully captures the essence of a devoted family man who dreams of visiting New Zealand. Sometimes our dreams DO come true in the end, just not always as we planned.

Santorini by Margaret Coel features two ruthless sisters whose vocation is "marrying up." What will happen when the beautiful widowed sister meets her match on a cruise to Greece? Love and physical beauty are not always what they seem.

One of the goals of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization is helping writers perfect their literary skills. If this anthology is an example of their work, I'd say the RMFW has met its goal. Check this one out. It's well worth the read.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Annette Meyers
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, Maine 04901
ISBN: 1410401995, $25.95

Annette Meyers has spent time both on Wall Street as an Executive Search Consultant (or head hunter) and on Broadway as an assistant to director-producer Hal Prince. She worked on A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, A Little Night Music, Company and Follies. She has published seven Smith and Wetzon mysteries, Repentences, Free Love, and Murder Me Now. She is a past president of Sisters-in-Crime and is current president of the International Association of Crime Writers, North America.

A plane crash leaves Wall Street headhunter Leslie Wetzon wandering the streets of New York with amnesia. Leslie wakes up at New York City hospital as a Jane Doe, and the blood on her dress suggests violence and death. She escapes from the hospital after a sinister looking man appears claiming to be her uncle. Leslie knows if the man finds her she will surely be murdered. Her photo makes the rounds of the newspapers with the name Mary Lou Salinger, and Leslie also knows that isn't her real name. It isn't until her dog, Izzy, recognizes her on the street with her ex-boyfriend NYPD Detective Silvestri on the human end of the leash that Leslie begins to piece her life back together. In the meantime, she needs to make major decisions involving Silvestri before her life will truly re-emerge:

"In the elevator, she caught Silvestri's hand. 'You know I have to do this.

The rest of what I lost is going to come back. I want to be ready for it.'

'I know. I just don't want to let you out of my sight.' He took two keys

Off his keychain and gave them to her.

'I'm back and I'm staying,' she told him. 'And I'm broke.'"

Annette Meyers knows how the use the diversity and glamour of New York City to best advantage in her Leslie Wetzon/Xenia Smith mysteries. Her plots are character driven with snappy dialogue and engaging drama, obviously a product of her many years on Broadway. Not only does she tell a story, but she manages to attach a bit of allegory, so that the reader has a real feeling of satisfaction at story's end. Smith and Wetzon are virtual opposites, which makes for many comedic moments. All in all, HEDING rocks.

Postscript to Poison
Dorothy Bowers
The Rue Morgue Press
87 Lone Tree Lane, Lyons, CO 80540
ISBN: 0915230771, $14.95

As a member of the prestigious Detection Club founded by the famous Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy Bowers' career was short. She wrote five detective novels in the tradition of the old fashioned "fair play" principle. She died of tuberculosis at the early age of 46, after producing her mysteries between 1938 and 1947. The Rue Morgue Press is graciously reprinting all five Bowers novels to the delight of audiences worldwide. Dorothy Bowers has been compared to Dorothy Sayers, and her mysteries were enthusiastically reviewed at the time.

Mrs. Cornelia Lackland is an erstwhile actress who married above her station and was unfaithful to her husband. When he dies, she is in complete charge of her granddaughters by marriage, Jenny Hernshaw and Carol Quentin. Jenny and Carol live in complete subjugation to their selfish and arrogant grandmother's wishes. Dr. Tom Faithful, the doctor who is ministering to Cornelia, is a favorite of hers and figures into the story every step of the way. Cornelia changes her will on a whim every year or so and completely terrorizes not only her family but also the butler, parlormaid, and housemaid. But there is much more simmering under the surface, and the sudden poisoning of Mrs. Lackland gives Chief Inspector Dan Pardoe of Scotland Yard and Sergeant Salt, Pardoe's right-hand man, a twisted trail of deceit and secrets that eventually puts everyone at risk:

"'Part of my job, Miss Quentin, getting to know as fully as possible the people with whom we've got to deal. Looked at like that, nothing's irrelevant.' He lowered his voice. 'Don't, in the next day or two, confide too readily in anybody in the house. I don't want you to be alarmed, but it's just as well to feel that until your grandmother's murderer is discovered nobody-nobody is free from danger.'"

Dorothy Bowers was an Oxford graduate who wrote with a passion for word play and the full exploration of her characters. Her plots were intricate and enticing, and her mysteries were carefully worked out puzzles according to the etiquette of mystery writing. All clues are in plain sight, with the reader knowing as much as the detective before the case is solved. Still, her tales leave most readers baffled up until the very end, and therein lies the fun. It's a pity that Bowers didn't have a chance to produce a comprehensive body of work, because her talent is evident.

Bluetick Revenge
Mark Cohen
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10020
ISBN: 0892968001, $24.95/$33.95 CAN

Mark Cohen is a Denver native who is a former JAG and municipal judge in Boulder, Colorado. He presently lives in Nederland, Colorado. His first mystery was THE FRACTAL MURDERS, and BLUETICK REVENGE is the follow-up Pepper Keane mystery.

Mysteries involving private eyes with a military background are particularly engaging, but add an ex-Marine with a JAG background who has a law degree with a penchant for Philosophy, who formed and quickly retired from his own law office, and you have the character of Pepper Keane. Pepper may have left the vagaries of the law behind, but his ex-partner, Matt, calls on him to steel a champion bluetick hound for a client ready to turn state's evidence on her husband, who is the leader of a biker empire called the Sons of Satan. Pepper becomes her bodyguard until she can enter the Witness Protection Program, but she decides to take off. Pepper accepts a job from her husband to find her, and when he double-crosses the husband, his life is suddenly in jeopardy. Pepper's girl is teaching in China, so she is safe. He enlists his friend Scott to help him find the girl, collect evidence against the bikers, and stay out of the line of fire. Scott is as much of a Renaissance man as Pepper:

"Scott McCutcheon. Unemployed astrophysicist. Former Navy SEAL. Fifth-degree black belt. One-time field goal kicker for the Colorado Buffaloes. Brad Pitt with a receding hairline. I thought about him as I sipped coffee at a small table beside the fireplace inside Nederland's Pioneer Inn this cold Saturday morning."

Cohen leads the reader right into the world of sadistic bikers who think nothing of killing to gain their ends. Pepper and Scott aren't afraid to follow them into their lair and beat them with a combination of military skills and intelligent strategy. Pepper's dogs add a rich texture to an already excellent plot, and the bluetick hound is Cohen's centerpiece of the tale.

Mark Cohen has a way with words. His style is crystal clear, his characters jump out at the reader. His background in law, the military, and with self defense makes him a knowledgeable author. BLUETICK REVENGE is a mystery the reader can't put down, and Mark Cohen is a bright new star on the mystery scene.

Digging Up Otis
T. Dawn Richard
Martin Brown Publishers, LLC
1138 S. Webster St. Kokomo, Indiana 46902
ISBN: 0976540908, $13.95/$17.25 CAN

Author T. Dawn Richard graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Masters in Adult Education. Originally hailing from Hamilton, Montana, Dawn also completed studies at the Defense Language Institute for Russian Language. She worked as a civilian instructor for the U.S. Air Force, developing curriculum. With that varied background, she now writes mysteries about retired senior citizens.

DIGGING UP OTIS is the second May List mystery. May is a doctor's wife, and her husband Ted is about as supportive as he can be. But May is really happy when she can solve mysteries with her friends. When they call to tell her that Otis is missing, May takes the first plane to the Waning Years Estates and the game is afoot. Of course Ted isn't very far behind, and the geriatric group find Otis tied to a pool ladder, apparently drowned. But is it really Otis, and who killed him? The senior snoops decide to dig up Otis to find out just what happened, with hilarious results:

"The guys in back had held up pretty well, but the two at the head of Otis' casket took some quick baby steps and then collapsed just short of the burial site. The head end of the coffin struck the ground, and its lid popped open. The guys in back were in a forward momentum. They were determined to push the rest of the way to the hole, but only hefted the back of the heavy box high into the air. The satiny lining was slippery, and Otis was on the move. 'Dead man walkin'!' Ted proclaimed."

T. Dawn Richard uses hilarious character development and a plot that seems like something out of "I Love Lucy" to entertain her reader. Her "crepe-skinned" seniors at times seem bewitched and befuddled, but their life experience and intelligence serve them when the local cops (who are of the Keystone variety) fail to take them seriously. Richard writes her own unique form of the cozy thriller, and the fuzzy slipper gang emerges victorious, even as they are almost outfoxed by the real killer. DIGGING UP OTIS is a laugh out loud mystery!

Have Gun Will Travel
Lori L. Lake
Yellow Rose Books
PMB 210, 8691 9th Ave., Port Arthur, TX 77642-8025
ISBN: 1932300333, $18.95

A graduate of Lewis & Clark College, Lori L Lake grew up in Portland, Oregon and moved to Minnesota with her partner after graduation. She worked in government for twenty years and retired to spend more time writing. She is active in teaching Queer Fiction writing courses for The Loft Literary Center. She has published five novels since 2001, a book of short stories, and has edited an anthology of stories. Her novels have won several Stonewall Awards. She was chosen the Twin Cities favorite GLBT author in 2002 and 2003. She is also a fellow reviewer for the Midwest Book Review and several other writing services.

Dez Reilly and Jaylynn Savage are opposites who are a couple, as well as both being members of the St. Paul police force. Together with their dear friends, Crystal and Shayna, they embark on a canoe and camping trip to the famous Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Unfortunately, the Kendall Correctional Facility outside Buyck, Minnesota suffers a prison riot and jailbreak relating to mob activity in Chicago, Illinois. A psychopathic monster who has kidnaped a hapless fellow "gentleman" prisoner to use as leverage attacks the women at their campsite and kidnaps Jaylynn. What follows is a chase and manhunt led by Dez to get the love of her life back. Eventually Dez is joined by every law enforcement body in the State of Minnesota, but it is the four women who eventually triumph against all odds:

"In the rapidly advancing gloom, Dez jogged along the dirt road. Her thirst was unbearable, but she'd dropped her canteen when she'd heard the gunshot earlier. She considered filling Jaylynn's empty water bottle from a brook or pond and adding the purification tablets, but didn't want to spare the time. Besides, if she stopped moving, she was afraid she wouldn't be able to go on. She was long past tired, but it was mind over matter now. Every so often she stopped jogging and walked for a couple hundred yards, but mostly she kept up the pace."

Lori L. Lake continues her perfect track record as a premier writer of Lesbian novels. This thriller has all the hallmarks of a best seller: a great plot, character development that pulls at the heartstrings, and a thoroughly spooky backdrop of the Boundary Waters. Lake's writing style is crisp and clear, and she leads the enthusiastic reader around in circles until the grand finale.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

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

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

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

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

Simple Hospitality
Jane Jarrell
W Publishing Group
Division of Thomas Nelson Publishing
PO Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
ISBN: 084990486, $14.99 152 page

Here is a book from a woman whose been there, done that,and decided to finally be free. Our author, Jane Jarrell put her standards high when it came to being the 'perfect hostess,' but she realized she was missing out on enjoying the moment and the company of those she was trying so hard to please. In this work, she shares her feelings with you and much more. The book is packed full of useful information on how to entertain and enjoy it, to cute ideas of ways to wrap presents, to wonderful gift ideas. She even gives you ways to take one food, such as Angel Food Cake and prepare it five different ways. Quick and easy, yet perfect to serve and tasty too. The author even gives you tips on how to be spiritual ready for your encounters, that was nice to see and a definite help. There is so much information in this book that it would be impossible for me to list it all. However, I will say her writing is fresh and full of life, creative ideas in more subjects than I can mention and a really fun and useful read. After reading this book you won't be so uptight if you follow her tips at your next gathering, or in some of your daily activities and responsibilities. This is a great book, one that will help you learn to live life at its fullest, and one I know you will refer to over and over again.

Fiesta Moon
Linda Windsor
West Bow Press
Thomas Nelson Publishing
PO Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
ISBN: 0785260633, $13.99 234 pages

Mark Madison is on a quest, one that will determine his destiny. Mark, the somewhat rebellious brother of Blaine, who is the shining star of the family and head of their business, Madison Engineering, goes to Mexico to prove that he is not the loser he believes his family thinks he is. This is his last chance for redemption, will he succeed? His job is to convert a very rundown hacienda into an orphanage. That should not be to hard for him, but it becomes quite complicated when he faces witchcraft, corruption and comes face to face with the love of his life. They were factors he did not count on in his equation for success.

In this work Ms. Windsor brings to remembrance the characters of Caroline and Blaine from book one of The Moonstruck Series, continuing on in the life of this family with brother Mark, in his trip to Mexico where Blaine and Caroline met and fell in love in book one. The author blends well the characters from book one into book two, giving just enough attention to them to continue to tie the books together; and she introduces some new and very colorful ones as well. She builds the story around the rebellious Mark, his struggle with personal strongholds in his life and the gentle workings of God to bring him into contact with situations and people who will help him to conquer the demons within.

In this read we enjoy a tad of humor, mystery and romance and we enjoy watching the workings of God through many diverse circumstances, Of course, to me, the best part is that we are left with the knowledge that with God all things are possible. A very enjoyable read.

Here Comes The Old Man Now
John Perrault
Oyster River Press
10 Riverview Road, Durham, NH 03824
ISBN: 1882291875, $15.00 77 pages

In this work by poet, John Perrault, we are showered with a variety of subjects, from aging to grief to family. Our emotions are stirred as we read, perhaps a tinge of sadness prevails, perhaps a smile, perhaps a moment to reflect and think or perhaps a work that pricks our own memory. all in all a great work reflecting our journey through life. Poetry in a way is like a flower in bloom. Some pass by and do not stop to see it's beauty or smell it's sweet gift of scent that fills the air. And for the wise who do, each will receive within themselves only what they allow and so with the reading of a poets work, each reader takes within themselves their own meaning to the words penned. So it is with this work, a reflection of life, the emotions and drama it brings to each of us are private, personal, heart-felt. A work to be shared and a work to be cherished.

Cooking With Coconut Flour
Bruce Fife, N.D.
Piccadilly Books, Ltd.
P.O. Box 5203, Colorado Springs, CO 80936
ISBN: 0941599639, $14.95 160 pages

Being allergic to so many foods that I know of and some that I do not know; I was eager to read this book. As I read the information I was truly surprised at the problems that wheat and gluten cause in people that they are not aware of, myself included, and wheat is in just about everything that we consume. That is not good for those of us who are not informed of the problems wheat intolerance can cause. However, take heart! The author gives us a wonderful alternative in the use of coconut flour. This versatile flour can be used to make just about any recipe that you want, with a few adjustments. Coconut flour is also good for you. It improves digestion, helps regulate blood sugar, protects against diabetes, helps prevent heart disease and cancer and can even be in aid in weight loss. Sounds almost like a miracle flour doesn't it? Perhaps it is. This work is absolutely chock full of easy to understand information on the use of Coconut flour and its benefits. The author has also given page after page of delicious recipes that use this flour and can be substituted for those you now use. You can still have the foods you love but without the bad effects of wheat.

This is a well thought out, well researched book and one that as you read it, you can tell the author knows his subject matter. That is comforting. If you are concerned about your health, looking for some answers to improve it this work is for you. I'm going to keep it close by as a reference and share the valuable information I have acquired from it. Great job! Great book! I recommend this one.

Goodnight Eleanor
Mary Margaret Bayer
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street Guite GE, Victoria BC V8T 4P4 Canada
ISBN: 1412047269, $19.95 355 pages

This work set in the city of Seattle has a charm like none other that I have read in a considerable amount of time. In the beginning of the read we meet a very distasteful family comprising of a dad and three sons, who due to their wealth think the world must bow to their every whim. Thus we meet the Millers. We are also introduced to a delightful, moral family; Eleanor, her parents, brothers and sisters. The warmth, commitment, loyalty, unity and love of this family shined through every page of this work. I fell in love with them and enjoyed reading about their lives.

Written in storytelling and journal style, this book stands above others. The story centers around Eleanor, the oldest of this family, who is thrust into service to the Millers to help pay for their home. Eleanor is a strong young woman, struggling to walk in humility yet knowing the value a woman has. We are taken along in her life as she pens the tale of her family and the Millers. Nate, the son of Mr. Miller, who somehow just didn't seem to belong to that family, falls deeply in love with Eleanor. The truth about Nate will shock you, yet make you smile as Eleanor and Nate face their destiny.

This is a book that totally kept my interest, had adventure, romance, and mystery, life and death, giving and greed; but somehow combined with all of this, it brought a quietness and a calming effect when reading. It's hard to describe, but was a welcome change to the many works that I review. I highly recommend this book. It's a lovely story of a lovely woman, her life, her family, her destiny. Recommended.

The Courtesan
Susan Carroll
Ballantine Books
375 Hudson Avenue, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0345437977, $13.95 560 pages

Gabrielle Cheney is a Daughter of The Earth, or some would call her a witch. Gabrielle is a haunted soul, thinking her beloved Remy is dead, and she has never asked forgiveness from him. Because of this tugging in her heart, we are taken to a dark setting where our story begins. Creepy! Seeking her reclusive friend Cassandra Lascelles, who is gifted in calling up the dead; Gabrielle begs her to conjure up her beloved Remy. Just how much of a friend is Cassandra Lascelles; time will tell. From here the story takes off as Gabriel finds her beloved is not dead and they team up to battle forces of bewitching evil and fierce power, not of this world.

In this read we have historical settings, mystical happenings and romantic elements. It is a quick moving and at times heart pounding adventure as we travel with Gabriel to her destiny. The author does a great job at defining her characters, their personalities and the roles they play in this drama. The ending leads you to await yet another segment of this sister story. A definite suspense thriller and a page turning read.

Making Things Work
Yaneer Bar-Yam
Necsi Knowledge Press
24 Mount Auburn St. Suite 2, Cambridge, MA 2138
ISBN: 0965632822, $28.00 306 pages

Our author, Yaneer Bar-Yam presents in his work some complex problems in our world system. Some categories he touches on are military, health care, education and terrorism, naming only a few. He breaks down the problems in an understandable manner and gives us some examples of solving these issues which plague our societies and the world. He is very in-depth and takes the time to clearly make his point understood in explaining the problem and suggestions of solution. Although to me, a simple person, this was not a particularly easy read; it is one of those books that people would say is meat, not pabulum; but even I found some very interesting points and was made, perhaps for the first time, to think on some of these issues.
A very well constructed read; informative and concise.

Inspiring Creativity
Edited by Rick Benzel, M.A.
Creativity Coaching Association Press
8180 Manitoba Street #151, Playa del Rey, CA 90293
ISBN: 0976737108, $14.95 209 pages

This is a priceless book for all those who are in some type of creative work; whether it be writing, painting, acting or any of the other categories of creativity. Written by 22 coaches whose purpose in life is to help others expand in their creativity, you find yourself emerged in their wisdom, knowledge and advise in the pages of this work. Each coach shares with you morsels of their expertise that you may incorporate in your life's work. My favorite was written by Beverly R. Down, "Self-Appreciation, How To Star In Your Own Life, " page 141. She tells us how to expand our self-appreciation and uses the acronym, "S.T.A.R.," standing for S- Source, T-Thankfulness, A-Asking and R-Receiving. She carefully explains each one of these and how to apply them to our creativity. Outstanding. All in all this is truly a must have work for those who are serious about their creativity and long to expand even further. I truly enjoyed this work and found it to be very, very helpful. Recommended.

Conquering Diabetes
Anne Peters, MD
Hudson Street Press
375 Hudson Avenue, NY 10014
ISBN: 1594630038, $20.95 368 pages

The author of this book is certainly the most knowleable person you could find to write such a work. Dr. Anne Peters is one of the top twenty physicians treating diabetes in America. Her work stretches from shore to shore in our country, and her experience is unmatched in this area. I could tell immediately that this doctor had a true concern for those who are battling diabetes; it is evident in her every word and shines through the pages.

In her work she shares some of the causes, stories of those who are winning over this enemy and some of those who have lost. She shares with us treatments being used, unwise things people do, and hope for the future with research. We learn what foods to eat, what to avoid. Which medications will help and which will hurt and also the questions and concerns we should be sharing with out doctor to better our treatment program. Many do not fully understand the danger that their disease puts them in until it is too late. This book covers just about any topic you need to know, and it is done in an easy to understand, sensible way. I recommend this book for all those who are faced with diabetes, or are helping someone they love deal with the disease. It is a work that is brimming with useful information and hope from a doctor who cares and knows her business. That is quite comforting and reassuring.

Don Penn
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 0975592262, $22.95 640 pages

Peter Icarus is a psychologist in private practice, but Peter needs attention perhaps more than his patients. Divorced, emotionally separated from his children and not having any real contacts in relationships, Peter's existence is in an emotional upheaval. However, his life is about to change as he mysteriously receives an invitation via email to visit a planet called Troubadour. Could this be a hoax? Perhaps, but for a man on the brink of his own destruction he decides what did he have to lose, and at his acceptance is whisked away to their land.

Here he finds mankind advanced 200 years and his discovery leaves him both baffled and amazed. A woman, Wind, and a man, Rain become his constant visitors and host in this new land. Rain, the wisest person on Troubadour provides deep insight to Peter and Wind will give both knowledge and emotional understanding and receive both in her relationship with Peter. During Peter's stay on Troubadour he faces his own fears and short-comings and those of his time, and is at first overwhelmed with more inward trauma than when he began his journey; but through his relationship with Rain and Wind and his own inward search he returns to his homeland a changed man.

This was a very different work; sometimes deep and thoughtful, sometimes light and humorous, but always challenging beliefs and emotions as you travel with Peter on his search for the meaning of his own existence and perhaps mankind. Troubadour will leave you with a lot of, 'what if?' 'interesting,' ' I never looked at it that way!' Truly a book for the seeker and thinker.

Curious Creatures Wondrous Waifs
Ed Kostro
Publish America
PO Box 155, Fredericks, MD
ISBN:1413701221, $14.95 212 pages

What a wonderful, delightful book this is. Author Ed Kostro shares his life and his passion for our fellow earth dwellers in his writing and does a very fine job of it. In this book we journey with the author from the days of his youth to the present. He shares with us touching stories of family life that always include the antics of wonderful pets and other animal encounters. He learns at an early age that he has a special relationship with nature's creatures.

We share in the faithfulness of several beloved dogs, giggle at the humor of some and dab a tear at the loss of others. One of my favorite stories was"Guard Dog or Dinner For Two." In this story Mr. Kostro is living in Southern Italy with his wife and dog Sport. Unfortunately, it seems the local people did not look at dogs as companions, but dinner. Although I am sure I would have been just as upset about this as our author was; I could not help but stifle a giggle as he told the challenges he encountered in this new land with it's strange customs, keeping his beloved dog out of the cooking pot. All in all this was a very pleasant read and a great reminder that all life on this planet deserves our respect.

Glass Cuts The Shadow
Danny Lee Ingram
Taylor Ridge Publishing
PO Box 743, Atlanta, Ga 30105
ISBN: 1411648137, $8.95 48 pages

As I read this work by author Danny Lee Ingram I sensed a deep sadness trying to emerge from the pages. I wondered if indeed this was a spirit crying out to understand life in all its forms. From aging and not being able to lift as much weight in a shovel of snow, to the travels of an unwanted dog who wondered the highway day after day and then was no more. Poets pen expressions and impressions of their soul, images seen and recorded within their minds and hearts often span the pages of their work. I feel this is the essence of "Glass Cuts The Shadow," indeed a poets rendering of life and the world we call home. Interesting and thought provoking.

Black Marble Wall
William A. Campbell
Taylor Ridge Publishing
PO Box 743, Atlanta, GA
ISBN: 1411640837, $8.95 60 pages

I remember Vietnam, the war, the anger the hurt that surrounded our soldiers and the upheaval in our country. War is always difficult; never agreed upon and forever debated; however in the wake of all the words the fighting men and women are the ones who bear the scars and the memories. In this work by author William A. Campbell, we are able to feel the heart-cry of our brothers, sisters, fathers,mothers who, not thinking of the politics but the commitment they promised to uphold as our military defense, did their honorable duty; but they were left with tears no one ever heard. It is a story told in verse that bears reading from a soldiers perspective; a cry to be heard and appreciated. Very moving, leaving one remembering those that should never be forgotten.

Yes, You Can Find More Meaning In Your Life
Jack Johahan and Sheelagh G.Manheim, PHD
Illustrated by Paul Coker, Jr.
Stowers Innovations
4500 Main Street, Kansas City,Missouri 64111-7700
ISBN:0962978812, $19.95 236 pages

Self-help books can at times be boring, say the same thing and are full of material you never put to use,not so with this work. Even though it certainly is a self-help book it is written in a light fun way, factual yet not heavy and not stuffy like so many are. Inside you will find the subjects, "Positive Attitude," Physical Well-Being," "Financial Well-Being, "Social Well-Being," and "Passion for Knowledge." Under each subject you find tid bits of treasures that you can easily incorporate into your life; you will find positive suggestions, objective lessons and well-founded facts to help you in each area. The writing may leave you with a smile, put you in deep thought but which ever way it certainly will not leave you dry.

This work was a joy to read. I found that it drew me immediately by its layout including adorable cartoon characters which definitely help bring the ideas across. I especially enjoyed "The 'Pause for Reflection' section; it actually made me reflect. Good job! All in all I recommend this read, and feel it will certainly add to your life's quest for better living.

Chainsaw's Justice
Allen "Skip" Roth
de Sitter Publications
104 Consumers Drive, Whitby, Ontario, LIN IC4
ISBN: 1897160135, $16.95 275 pages

We all know that injustices happen in this world but unless you are personally involved or know someone that it has happened to the complete horror of such an experience is often not understood. In this work by author, Allen Roth, we are given first-hand raw revelation of the trauma and destruction of life that happens when an injustice occurs. Mr. Roth was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder by the State of North Carolina and spent three years in prison. Before this happened Mr. Roth was rising to fame as an internationally acclaimed chainsaw sculptor, even hailed by People magazine as the world's best chainsaw artist. What could have happened?

The families move to this community seemed the right thing to do, fresh air, beautiful landscape, friendly neighbors, but all that was to change. It began when his 12-year old son was molested by a pedophile. As Mr. Roth sought the truth and justice for this crime, he found those in this community protected their own. The more he pursued the answers, the more hostile the community became leading to a confrontation and the death of a man. The author openly discusses the misconduct of many officials that led to his conviction. Your heart goes out to him and you wonder how this could happen in America. He also gives insight into some of the prison problems that he saw and encountered. To me, this was a heartbreaking story, one that we as American's should be ashamed that something like this even occurred, it is actually scary. I wish the best to Mr. Roth and his family; and please note this review is written soley on the information provided in this book.

Fighting for Bread & Roses
Lynn A Coleman
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
ISBN: 0825424097, $12.95 256 pages

Lindsey Taylor is determined to live a normal life and that is not easy after the trauma she had just been through. Lindsey had witnessed a murder in New Orleans and had to testify against a dangerous crime family. Her life had been in an upheaval, but now it was time to move forward.
Lindsey is a writer and eager to complete her research on her next project; a writing about the "Bread & Roses" strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As she travels to Lawrence to research she assures her husband that she will be fine, but she is almost dead wrong. Lindsey begins to dig into the death of one Millworker, Anna Lopizzo and in doing she uncovers the story of Jenna Waverly who is said to have drowned in the frozen Merrimack River. How could that have happened and were these two women connected in someway? As Lindsey's investigation becomes more intense she finds someone is determined to keep certain secrets hidden and will do anything in their power to stop her. What a great read!

I have to tell you this is an exceptional book; taking us from the present and the happenings to Lindsey, to 1912 and emerging us into the lives of those deeply touched by the "Bread & Roses" strike. I was glued to the pages as the author craft-fully created the world that both eras lived in, brought it to life like a full screen movie and charged your emotions to a full time high. Outstanding! This work has history, well defined characters, sprinkled with the strength of God, suspense, romance and mystery. I simply cannot recommend this read highly enough. Bravo Ms.Coleman, you have a real winner here.

Jayna Incarnate
Jane Shoup
New Age Dimensions, Inc.
PO Box 14157, North Palm Beach, Florida 55408
available on (e-book)
ISBN:158345621X, $5.50 172 pages

In this outstanding novel by author Jane Shoup we are transported between 1998 and 1745 into two times that somehow become one. We are introduced in 1998 to a young woman named Samantha. Samantha is not well, her mental state has deteriorated to the point that she has consented to a dangerous brain surgery, one that could well kill her. Jayna is a young woman living in the year of 1745; one whose life has also been tragic but in a far different way. Through circumstances she is now in the clutches of an evil pirate who claims her as his own and holds her upon his ship as a prisoner. Craft-fully, the author draws us into the world of each of these young women and their intense circumstances. The reader is taken by surprise as the two become one and the same and yet are separate as the battle for their lives is on. You wonder just who will win.

I have tried to think how I could explain this story to you in a short review but have decided that would be impossible. I am just going to say that this story is one of the best I have read in a while. The main thrust of the storyline settles around Jayna and her struggle for freedom, yet much of her own future depends on the outcome of Samantha. The connection between the two is what gives this story its substance. There is such a myriad of mystery and emotions in this book, you are on a reading roller-coaster ride. We have pirates, magicians, tender and cold hearted people , truly well defined characters, interesting locals and a flowing story that make-up one top of the line read. If you want to settle in with a book that has a great storyline, filled with love, hate, romance, adventure and the mystical, this one is for you. Well done Ms. Shoup.


SPJ: Thank you Jane for doing this interview with me. I have read and reviewed your works and know you are one talented lady. I'm sure our readers would love to know more about you, let's being please

Would you first tell us the names of your books.

Jane: I'm happy to, and thank you for having me. The books are Pedestals, (suspense/thriller), The Time Tunnel of August Kaplan (juvenile fiction), Wright and Wrong, (historical romance), Jayna Incarnate (a genre so mixed we'll have to call it mainstream fiction), Ammey McKeaf, (heroic fantasy), and I've written some erotic romance under penname Elle Emriche. Valley of the Shadow, (historical erotic romance) and Revenge at Mirror Lake (contemporary erotic romance).

SPJ: Would you please tell us what made you decide to write these books? How did you come up with the storylines?

Jane: What I actually start with is a character or two and a kernel of idea. I've never had an entire story mapped out from beginning to end. I'll have a scene in my head and I'll work it and rework it until it's strong, definite and then begins expanding on its own. Once a story takes root, I go forward with it. I've heard of authors who begin by writing the last chapter and work from there. I could never do that. I am a sucker for a happy, or at least satisfying, ending, but exactly how the story will go and whom it encompasses along the way - that I discover as I go. I've even begun a scene, sure of how it will go, and then a character takes over and insists on doing it their way, which is not at all how I had in mind. (That will make sense to some writers and sound wacko to everyone else : )

SPJ: Sounds sane to me Jane! Please tell us, what, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write these books? From friends, family, enemies!

Jane: Well, hopefully I don't have any enemies! As to family and friends, I don't know that I was taken too seriously in the beginning. I do not include my immediate family, that is husband and three daughters, in that. They've always given complete support, and had utter belief in me. So has my dad. The truth is, I'm not close to my mother and sisters, and they've really given little or no response to the books. (Other than the stark disapproval I received from my mother regarding the erotic romance.) Luckily, in the past few years I've finally managed an emotional divorce from most of them, which is far healthier for me. I just finally had to admit that there are people I'm not tough enough to be around.

SPJ: In life sometimes we just have to do what we have to do to survive and be smart enough to know when that is. Now, how long did it take you to complete your books? Was each one different in time frame of completion?

Jane: Oh, yes. Jayna Incarnate was the first book I wrote - and it was written and rewritten countless times over five or six years. The fact is, the more you write, the better you get. My latest book, Ammey McKeaf, is longer than anything else I've had published, (92,500 words), one of the best things I've written, and it was completed in six months. Basically, my work takes less rewriting now.

SPJ: Please tell us what was the most difficult part in writing your works?

Jane: There is always a ton of research that goes into every book, and that can be tedious. The writing usually flows fast and furious - but the editing can be drudgery. It's tough to catch mistakes in your work, because you know it so well. You tend to read what you know is there, rather than what is actually there.

SPJ: That is so very true. Now please tell us what was the most enjoyable?

Jane: Getting into a scene. You're transported into another time and place . . . and life, really. I feel so fortunate to spend some of my life in these other worlds.

SPJ: If you were starting over, what do you think you would do different and what have you learned through the writing and publishing experience?

Jane: Whew. Early on, I made huge mistakes in so many areas. I paid agents to represent me. They called it 'administrative fees', but the simple truth is, a writer should never pay anyone to read their work or represent them. The biggest mistake, which I still cringe over, was being taken by 'a professional editing service.' It was a damaging blow financially and emotionally. I'd like to think I wouldn't let rejection devastate me as it used to, but it takes time and experience to toughen up.

SPJ: Indeed, rejection is definitely a part of every author's life, and not a good part. Did you base your characters on real life people? I know that may sound strange, but I think as authors we tend to do that. Also, what about the experiences they go through, are these based on true experiences from yourself or people you know or perhaps stories you have been told?

Jane: I don't think I've ever based a character on an actual person - but there are aspects of personalities I know in many of my characters. And certainly, I've had or heard of experiences that I used in the books. My essence of my daughters are prevalent throughout First Snows (a December release) and there's shades of us in The Time Tunnel of August Kaplan. I put my own thoughts, feelings and experiences in many of the characters, male and female.

SPJ: In comparison to every achievement you have made in your life, where would you place being a published author on that list ?

Jane: Second, behind raising my daughters. I was a single mom for seven years. They were tough times financially, but wonderful in every other way. We were the richest poor people ever.

SPJ: Did you have to do research for your writings? If so would you tell us something about that?

Jane: I know absolutely nothing until I start on a book, so I have to research everything. I usually spend a day or two in the library, and I spend days and days researching off the internet. It's an amazing tool. Often, I'll go to wherever the story takes place. Shadowplay (the follow up story to Pedestals) is more of a legal thriller about a death row inmate. For that, I toured Central Prison in Raleigh, where the story takes place. It was grim, overcrowded, colorless - but very, very real. You can research and know facts, but being there brings a whole different slant to the work.

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

Jane: It's a much longer, harder process than most people realize. I made bad choices with the first two publishers I connected with; I was just so darn anxious to get my work into the world. Fortunately, I was able to get out of those contracts and move on. I learned to be more careful and thorough with researching publishers and agents.

The really tough part is all the waiting that's involved. You can have a manuscript tied up with an agent for a year or more before they decide if they want to represent it. One of the biggest, oldest agencies in New York had The Time Tunnel of August Kaplan tied up for two years, with minimal contact, until I was informed the agent in charge had left to start her own agency. For such an impressive agency, it was extremely unprofessional behavior and more frustrating that I can say. Even once you have a contract offer from a publisher, it's often a year or more until you see an edited version of your work. You have to accept that as part of the process and move on to the next project. (That's easy to say and sooooo hard to do!)

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

Jane: Unless you have some great contact with a major publisher, there are basically two routes -- going after a good agent who will hopefully connect you to a good publisher, or going directly to small publishers. Do your research, write a great query, obey whatever mandates the publisher or agent establishes on what to send in for consideration and trust your instinct. The times I've gone against mine invariably proved to be mistakes. Recently, I've placed some of my books with brand new publishers - because I had a good feeling about them. Only time will tell, but I feel good about the decision. I have found the website Predators and Editors to be an excellent, dependable source of information.

SPJ: Do you have an agent? A publicist? How important do you feel this is to an author?

Jane: Not at this time. I've had agents - which never proved to be successful. And I guess I'm my own publicist. (I can afford me . . . most of the time. )

SPJ: I'm sure your books will and are selling like hot cakes. How much promoting do you do? How important do you feel reviews are? Any tips for other authors?

Jane: Reviews are extremely important. They are the seals of approval that can determine whether a book sells or not. I promote as much as I can - which usually doesn't feel like quite enough. I would much rather than be writing than promoting. I also run a business, a household, and play chauffeur to my actively involved sixteen-year old twin daughters. (Those are my excuses and I'm sticking to them. )

SPJ: You are a busy lady, good for you! Do you belong to a writer's group?

Jane: All my publishers have both private and active public loops on Yahoo, and I conduct a writing workshop for aspiring novelists at my place of business (which is an after-school arts program.) I enjoy helping and encouraging others, and it gets me outside my own head. I've been invited to join a local author's group, but, for now, I don't have the time to spare. For me, I'm not sure how beneficial it would be, outside of the camaraderie. They meet once a month, share work and take a copy of everyone's work home for critiquing. That's a lot of reading and critiquing when I could be writing. . . and, eh, promoting.

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

Jane: Writing fulfils me. I'm always much happier and better balanced when I'm working on a project. Reading is magical in the way it can transport a reader into a different place and time. Books enrich us. I hope the experience my books offer is enjoyable, involving and that a bit of it stays with the reader.

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

Jane: I personally think it can make all the difference. We're all creatures of energy. If someone (or several someone's) are constantly directing negative energy at you, that's draining. Literally. And writing takes a great deal of emotional and mental energy. I'm so blessed to have a happy, well-functioning family surrounding me.

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

Jane: I'm working on the sequel to Ammey McKeaf. I've never gotten into fantasy before, and it is fun. Plus, I love the characters. I have a few things slated for release. First Snows is a rewrite of the first novel I wrote, The Melodeon. (That was one of the books I placed poorly. The story was excellent, but the writing was not nearly as strong as it should be.) I reworked it, replaced it with a terrific new publisher and it will be released in December. The Appropriation of Isabel, is another contemporary erotic romance, and will be released in May. Then in September, the publisher of my erotic romances is going to release a compilation of all three of my erotic romances, Elle Three. (I write erotic romance under pseudonym Elle Emriche.)

SPJ: Would you tell us how many hours a day do you write?

Jane: When I was working from home, it was a consistent six to eight hours a day, five to six days a week. Now that I'm going to work, slightly less. (I work for myself, but it still messes with the flow. I have to dress, put on shoes, put on makeup, make a lunch, bring a snack, maybe two . . . You get the idea.)

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

Jane: As long as I have a computer and some (relative) quiet, I can write. I'm happiest at my own little computer in our sunroom at home, but the wonderful thing about getting into what you write is that you're there, so actual surrounding don't make that much difference.

There has not been a living person that has inspired to me to write, but I do believe in inspiration from the spirit realm.

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

Jane: I feel more confident about calling myself a writer, now, especially when a book is followed by good reviews.

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

Jane: I want to keep writing, to consistently put out quality work. Of course, I hope to have a break-through (to the masses) book. If so, readers will hopefully go back and seek out my other work. I have a strong feeling about Ammey McKeaf. It will be the first released in hard-back (a year from now) and it's absorbing. Of course, it was just released in electronic format - and I've yet to get a single review, but I have a feeling . . .

SPJ: someone asking for a review? :0) Now, a question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Jane: I'm a multi-genre reader and writer. I enjoy historicals, action/thrillers, most kinds of fiction. I have a short attention span, so a book has to grab me and hold on. It's probably a shorter list to say what I don't care for. (Horror; I don't care for the genre in books or movies.)

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

Jane: I'm a native of Southern Indiana and I've lived in Greensboro, North Carolina for the past eleven years. I graduated from Murray State University in Kentucky (many years ago now) with a degree in Speech Communications with emphasis on Theatre (often referred to as the most useless degree on earth.) I've worked a ka-zillion jobs and never stayed with anything for very long. I have a great deal of creativity, and very little patience for being bored and stifled. There's just something about having to be at a workplace . . .

My life centers around my family. I'm married (second marriage) to a blue-collar guy, an aircraft mechanic. My daughters are nineteen and sixteen (and sixteen.) It's unbelievable, because I was just nineteen!

SPJ: I know the feeling! Somebody forgot to stop the clock and I for one am not amused. In closing, if there is anything you wish to add or information you would like to tell our readers, please do so here.

Jane: For anyone interested in erotic romance, my historical, Valley of the Shadow, is featured as Sizzler of the month at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. That means if you buy it, you get any other ebook for free. For example . . . my other book, Revenge at Mirror Lake. (Just an example. You could pick any book . )

SPJ: Thank you Jane for allowing me this interview with you. I truly enjoyed getting to know you and your world better and I know your future will be bright. I wish you the very best in all you do.



Draumr is new to the publishing world but one that certainly appears to have great promise. I believe you will enjoy this interview with co-owner Rida Allen.

SPJ: First, thank you Rida for doing this interview with me; I'm excited to know about your company, would you please give us some background information, when it was started, what the vision is behind it and your mission statement. Would you please tell us your position in the company, your duties and how long you have been a part of the company.

Rida: Thanks so much for doing this interview. I'm a fan of MBR, so I'm excited to be talking with you.

I'll start with the "easy" part, which is who am I and what do I do here at Draumr Publishing. I'm one of four owners at Draumr and am the main "Jill-of-all-Trades", because I do pretty much everything the others don't. :) One of the major parts of my job is being the author contact person, so I get the opportunity to work directly with every author that comes through our virtual doors. I've been a part of the company since its inception...I'm actually the person who came up with the idea of starting Draumr.

Draumr Publishing is a relatively new company, opened for business officially in October 2004. We'd actually been hatching Draumr for over a year before that, but as anyone in business will tell you, doing something right takes time. We're very excited to be open for business and even more excited to be working with such great authors. Personally I was surprised to find that not only have our authors become partners in making Draumr a success, but they've become friends.
Draumr is owned by four people, two of whom are published authors. We think this is incredibly important because having been through the process of being published ourselves, we use our experiences to make things better for our authors.

Many people have asked us about our name, how to pronounce it, where it came from and what it means. Draumr (pronounced druh MAR) is the old Norse root of the word dream. We came up with the name during a discussion about what being published meant to us. It was truly a dream come true, and I know other authors have said that to me in the past. When the name finally came to us, it made sense and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the same vein, I've heard many comments about our motto of "the root of all dreams" and I'm proud to say that it is exactly right. We go along on dream journeys and we're privileged to be a part of so many fantastic ones. Our mission is to bring great books, that otherwise might have been overlooked, to our readers.

SPJ: I certainly take my hat off to you! You are making many dreams come true and that's great! Please tell us of any others that work with you that you feel should be mentioned here.

Rida: As I said, we have four partners here at Draumr Publishing. One of our partners (the other author in the group), Robert, is our marketing person. He also handles submissions, depending on their genre, and works directly with some authors as well as deals with some of our vendors. Judy does all our accounting and handles all the business paperwork (thank goodness!). The final in our foursome is Michael, who is mostly a silent partner. He pitches in when needed, but otherwise stays out of sight.

SPJ: Sounds like a great team! I'd like to now get right to the meat of the interview, the questions that all authors want me to ask. Let's talk about submissions.
Are you open to submissions, and if no when do you think you will be?

Rida: Yes, we are open to submissions and have been since we opened our doors for business. We happily accept submissions in almost all fiction genres...authors can find our guidelines on our website at If they have any questions about the guidelines or our company, they only have to email us!

SPJ: Authors - great news isn't it? Would you please tell us what type of books you publish, are you looking for specific genres, or is the field wide open? I see at your site that you feature books where BBW or Beautiful....Big...Women are the main characters, could you tell us something about that? Is this the main theme of books you seek?

Rida: We publish all fiction genres, with the exception of pornography, young adult and children's books...nor do we publish poetry and non-fiction books.

We do have a special imprint for books that feature big beautiful women heroines. It is a subject that is near and dear to my heart as I write contemporary romances that feature full-figured (aka bbw) heroines. When I was working to get my books published, I found that there was a great audience for it, but not many publishers interested in getting those books out to the reading public. I wanted to open Draumr and offer those books to the women who were seeking them and I wanted to make a specific imprint to make them easy to find.

Although we are seeking books with bbws in them, we are also seeking all other fiction genres. We do not require that all our books have bbws in them, and in fact have several already that do not.

SPJ: Wonderful, now please tell us what formats are your books published in?

Rida: Our books are available in both trade paperback and ebook formats.

SPJ: Anyone that has any experience in the book industry knows that not every book is right for every publisher. What do you look for when a submission comes in, what catches your eye?

Rida: It's difficult to define what book is "right" for which publisher. As much as we try to be objective about every submission, there are times when we just get this "feeling" that a book is what we're looking for. In general, we want unique, interesting and well-told stories.

SPJ: Are there certain works you will not publish? and why.

Rida: We don't publish pornography, erotica that contains bestiality or sex with minors, poetry, non-fiction, young adult or children's books. The porn/bestiality/sex with minors thing is because we don't feel it fits in with our mission. Poetry, non-fiction, young adult and children's books...well, we wanted to concentrate on fiction books and felt that those genres just listed were not within our realm of experience.

SPJ: Would you give one tip that might tilt the scale and help the author's work to be accepted.

Rida: Believe in your work and write what you know. Write the types of books you like to read. When a book is forced, it usually comes across to the reader and to us. I don't mean you shouldn't research if it's necessary, but do be interested in the subject you're writing and researching.

SPJ: Is there anything that makes you see "RED" when a submission is presented to you?

Rida: When an author does not follow our submission guidelines. They're not incredibly complicated, but we have them for a reason and if they're not followed, it's frustrating for us. The other thing that frustrates us is when authors don't look over the types of book we publish. For example, we're very specific in that we don't publish non-fiction books, yet we get numerous phone calls and emails regarding books that fall under the non-fiction genre. Both these issues can be solved easily by reading our submissions guidelines, which are readily available.
Final word, really read our submission guidelines, submission FAQs and general FAQs. Get a good idea what our company is about, and if necessary, ask questions before sending in a submission.

SPJ: How long is the wait before the author will know if their work is accepted and do you take simultaneous submissions?

Rida: We have two steps to our submission process. The first is what is called an initial includes a full story synopsis and first three chapters of the manuscript. We generally respond to those within 3-4 weeks, sometimes as quickly as 2 weeks. After that, if we're interested in reading the full manuscript, we require up to two months to read and evaluate a full manuscript. The first step, the initial submission, we will accept simultaneous submissions. For the second step, we require that we are the only ones reading/evaluating the manuscript.

SPJ: May I ask how many books you publish in a year and is that a set figure?

Rida: At this time we are publishing roughly 7-10 books per year. This is not a set figure as we spend as much time as necessary on each individual manuscript to get it into publishable format. Each book and each author is treated as an individual, so we can't determine ahead of time how many books will be released each year. At Draumr we're focused on the stories, not on the numbers.

SPJ: Where can your books be purchased? Are they stocked in bookstores and do you have a return policy? This may seem like a strange question but is a
real concern for authors with some publishing houses and I like to ask publishers this question.

Rida: Our trade paperback books are available at all online bookstores and can be ordered through any brick and mortar bookstore. Our ebooks are only available from our online store. At this time, our books are not returnable.

SPJ: Thank you! Do you believe your books priced fairly?

Rida: Yes, I do believe our books are priced fairly, both in print and electronic format.

SPJ: A few more questions about author submissions please. May authors submit via email? and snail mail?

Rida: Authors are encouraged to send their submissions via email. They will get the fastest response that way. However, if they prefer snail mail, we are happy to accept submissions that way. Either way, remember to follow our online guidelines!

SPJ: If their work is accepted, do they have to use your cover art or are they allowed to use their own idea?

Rida: We encourage authors to participate in creating their cover art, either by supplying ideas, suggestions and/or the art itself. We want the authors involved in every step of this fun process, so we want them to work with us on the cover art. We've had an author supply the entire layout for their cover, front and back, and at the other end of the spectrum, we had an author come in without ANY ideas for her cover. In both cases, the authors were extraordinarily pleased with the end result. We'll work with an author to make sure their cover art is exactly what they had hoped it would be. I will say that our contract states that we have the final word on the cover art, but we've not had any complaints, nor have we ever told an author, "No, we won't do that."

SPJ: Please tell us, how are your authors paid? Do you give advances and do you work with a standard contract?

Rida: Our authors are paid royalties twice a year, different percentages for print and electronic formats. At this time, we do not offer an advance . We do work with a standard contract, which we are happy to go over in detail with our authors when they are considering an offer from us.

SPJ: If I may, this is a very important question. What type of promoting do you do for your authors and what is required of them? Does your company have a good track record as far as 'getting the word out,' concerning your author's works? Do you actively seek reviews for your author's work or is that left up to them?

Rida: We ask our authors to be proactive with their promotion. No one else knows their book better than they do, so they are the best one to market it. We do everything we can to support their promotional activities, including advertising our books on the web and in print, sponsoring and offering giveaways, and promoting their contests. We'll also be assisting authors in hosting chats where they can begin and continue to build their fan base. Being accessible to the reading public is extremely important for any author, both for sales and for author morale and energy.
In addition, we offer support to our authors on how to promote their books. This support includes tip sheets, links to articles on the web, articles written internally based on our own experiences and continuous individualized support on a one-on-one basis.
We do not actively seek reviews for our authors but are happy to assist them in finding places to request reviews. Additionally, we have a good relationship with many of the review sites and work with them directly should the need arise.

SPJ: If the author's work is accepted, what is the amount of time from acceptance to print?

Rida: Although our contract states we have up to a year to publish a book (from the date the contract is signed), most of our books are released within two to six months. It all depends on how much work we need to do with the author on their book (editing and such), how available the author is to do the work, and what our artists' schedules are. All our cover art is created for each book, drawn as original pieces of art, so because of that we have to allow our artists the opportunity to work their magic.

SPJ: Do you feel you have a good working relationship with your authors?

Rida: I feel that we have excellent working relationships with our authors. In fact, I feel that they are part of our family and treat them as such. We not only work with an author during the publishing process, but we continue the relationship with them afterwards, whether to help them with promotion or just to find out how they and/or their family are doing. Personally, I've been known to spend several hours chatting online with our's part of this business that I love!

SPJ: Tell me do you use POD technology? If so, why have you chosen this?Do you feel there is a stigmatism attached to this type of technology? Please share your feelings on this.

Rida: Yes, we do use print-on-demand technology. And thank you for using the correct terminology, as print-on-demand IS a printing technology and not a publishing philosophy or business plan. We use POD technology because it allows us to offer great quality and unique books to our readers at reasonable prices. POD technology also means that our books never go out of print (until such time as the contract runs out and is not or cannot be renegotiated with the author). We have no limited print run, no worry that the book will sell out and no concern that we'll have a lot of money tied up at one time. POD means the books are printed as demand is made for them.

As for the stigma that may or may not be attached to the term "print on demand", I feel that if people are educated about it, they will understand that print on demand is just another type of printing technology like offset printing. I do my best to educate as many people as possible about POD technology, so I appreciate being able to do so in interviews like this one.

SPJ: Thank you! Now, as a publisher, what is the hardest part of your job and why?

Rida: Ah, the hardest part of my job is telling people that their books are not right for us. As an author, I know how it feels to get that response and I dread having to give it out. However, it is a part of being in business that I have to deal with.

SPJ: What part of your job makes you smile?

Rida: Our authors. I love LOVE to hear from our authors when they first get a copy of their book in their hands. I've pressed the telephone to my ear, listening to an author babble and cry over the phone as they clutched their first copy and told me how happy they are. Sometimes they're pretty incoherent, sometimes there is just hysterical laughter at the other end of the phone, sometimes there is screaming. It's okay, I totally understand. And I love every minute of it...even if I have an earache afterwards. :)

SPJ: Yes Rida, how sweet that must be! I can imagine how exciting it is to make a dream come true for a hopeful writer. Do you feel it is important for an author to have an agent? A publicist?

Rida: It's so funny that people phrase it that way. That's why we named our company Draumr, which means "dream". It IS a dream come true to have your book published.
I don't really have a strong feeling about an agent or a publicist. I feel that each author should make that decision on their own. We'll happily work with either and/or both. However, authors should know that we're happiest when working directly with them, whether they do or don't have an agent and/or publicist. They shouldn't expect we'll deal ONLY with the agent and/or publicist...we're hands-on publishers and we like hands-on authors.

SPJ:. Let me ask this, where do you see your company in the next 5 years?And what are you doing to achieve that goal?

Rida: In five years we're hoping to have a great extended family of authors. Once again, we feel the stories are more important than the numbers, so we'll continue to seek out unique and interesting stories and not make the company into an "author mill". We're expecting to continue relationships with authors, not just publish one of their books and then forget them. In fact, many of our authors come in with series in mind, or have multiple books that they want to publish. We LOVE that! It means that they're as happy to be working with us as we are to be working with them.

In creating happy authors, we will be able to continue to offer great books to our readers. We're working to create a family of repeat readers, as well. As we move into 2006, we're planning to establish our author's community which will include message boards and chat rooms for authors to support each other, for readers to contact and communicate with their favorite authors, and to keep both updated with Draumr news. Our chats will include author hosted chats (including contests and giveaways!) as well as publisher hosted chats for aspiring authors where they can chat with staff directly.

SPJ: Would you tell us something about yourself, are you an author and if so please tell us some about your work(s).

Rida: I am an author and have written several contemporary romance novels with full-figured (bbw) heroines. My first three books were published elsewhere, my two most recent books were publishing under Draumr's 'Dangerous Curves' imprint. Three of my books are connected and are the first in a series of five connected books...and here we go for the list (shameless self-promotion here!):

"Great Love" and "You Have Been Disconnected" are two non-connected books.

"The Legacy Tree" and "Truth and Lies" and "The Fashionable P.I." are the three connected books.

You can find out more about my books at my personal website at

SPJ: If you will, please use this space for any closing remarks you would
like to leave with our readers about yourself, your company, or publishing
in general.

Rida: I wanted to make some comments to our readers, who are just as important to us as our authors. It is quite common to find that writers are readers, and vice versa, so I know those who are reading this are not just writers. Readers can not only be assured that they will receive great books from us, but they should also know that our authors are well-respected and part of our family. It's worthwhile for readers to know how we treat our authors because it shows how we feel about our products. Readers can also feel confident that any purchase they make from us will be well worth it, and that customer service is a major priority with us.

Beyond that, if authors or readers have questions for us, we're always happy to email, chat and/or talk to them.

SPJ: Thank you so much Rida for doing this interview with me. I certainly sense that you are a publisher that loves their work and their authors and the readers; what a great combination, one that certainly will bring success. I wish you the best in the future and I look forward to some of your books coming through my desk for review. Thank you again!

CONTACT INFORMATION: - you can contact me with any questions...I'm always happy to talk to authors and readers alike. - you can find this email address on our submissions guidelines page as well.

Draumr Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 428
Columbia, MD 21045

If you want to chat with me directly via AOL/AIM, email me so we can set up a time. I'm not online all the time but am happy to make myself available to answer questions and/or take comments and feedback. You can find all our contact information on our website at

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Totally Joe
James Howe
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689839573, $15.95, 188 pages,

From the creator of "The Misfits," the book that inspired national No Name-Calling Week, comes the story of Joe Bunch, lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falls, New York. Like his longtime best friends Addie, Skeezie, and Bobby, Joe's been called names his whole life. So when he's given the assignment to write his alphabiography - the story of his life from A-to-Z - Joe has his doubts. This whole thing could be serious ammunition for bullying if it falls into the wrong hands. But Joe discovers there's more to the assignment - and his life - than meets the eye. Especially when he gets to the letter C, which stands for Colin Briggs, the coolest guy in the seventh grade (seriously) - and Joe's secret boyfriend. By the time Joe gets to the letter Z, he's pretty much bared his soul about everything. And Joe's OK with that because he likes who he is. He's totally Joe, and that's the best thing for him to be. Here is an exuberant, funny, totally original story of one boy's coming out - and coming-of-age.

Rosa, Sola
Carmela A. Martino
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763623954, $15.99, 250 pages,

Rosa Bernardi, an only child living with her Italian immigrant parents in 1960s Chicago, often feels alone: sola. But after she holds her best friend Anna Maria's baby brother for the first time, Rosa is sure that if she prays hard enough, God will send her a brother of her own. When Ma does get pregnant, Rosa is overjoyed - until the day things go horribly wrong, leaving Rosa feeling more alone than ever and wondering if her broken family will ever be whole again. From first-time novelist Carmela A. Martino, here is a story both heart-rending and full of hope about a young girl who learns that she is not alone and that love and kinship can sometimes be found in unexpected places.

Margaret Hall
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736842527, $19.93 (list), $14.95 (school/library), 24 pages,

Young fans of crawly creatures will enjoy the new reference series "Bug Bugs Bugs" designed for grades K-2. Large, full-color photographs and spare, easy-to-read text introduce various bugs' appearance and common behavioral characteristics with close-up illustrative photography. Includes color photos, bibliography, index, extended glossary definitions, and links to the publisher's internet site. Other titles in the series are: "Ants," "Beetles," "Bumble Bees," Butterflies," "Crickets," Fireflies," "Grasshoppers," "Ladybugs," "Moths," "Praying Mantises," "Spiders," "Walkingsticks," and "Wasps."

Fast and Slow: an Animal Opposites Book
Lisa Bullard
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736842748, $22.60 (list), $16.95 (school/library), 32 pages,

This new series of "Animal Opposites" books is designed to engage young readers and invite comparisons of all kinds of fauna. Striking photographs and fun facts hightlught traits of various animals and bring opposite concepts to life whether its read aloud, alone, or with a parent/teacher. Recommended reading level is K-1st grade, so the series also introduces rudimentary chapters, glossaries, bibliographies, and indexes. Other books in the series are "Big and Small," "Long and Short," "Loud and Quiet," "Smooth and Rough," and "Wet and Dry."

Jody Sullivan
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736842705, $19.93 (list), $14.95 (school/library), 24 pages,

Young readers will eagerly plunge into this dazzling "Under The Sea" set of informative books for grades K-2. The high interest subjects, and large, colorful underwater photos draw them in, while the simple text makes it fun to read and learn all about individual sea creatures and their amazing lives in the big blue. Includes table of contents, glossary, bibliography, index, extended glossary definitions, and link to the publisher's internet site. Other titles cover14 different creatures, including Crabs, corals, dolphins, octopuses, sea horses, sea stars, sharks and whales.

Wetland Plants
Terri Sievert
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736843256, $21.26 (list), $15.65 (school/library), 24 pages,

What can animals make from cattail leaves and stems? What kinds of plants do swans eta? From a cattail to a pitcher plant, discover the importance of a variety of wetland plants in this title from Capstone Press' new "Life in the World's Bionomes" set. Students in grades 2-5 cam turn to this easy-to-read series (reading level grades 2-3) for clear pathways to essential information about individual bionomes. Accessible text and excellent photography cover each bionome's unique characteristics, the plants that thrive there, and how animals and people depend on and interact with them. Other set titles are: "Desert Plants," "Ocean Plants," "Polar Plants," and "Rain Forest Plants."

Joannes Gutenberg
Douglas MacArthur
Elizabeth Van Lew
Phillis Wheatley
Sarah Winnemucca
Compass Point Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
ISBN: 0756509890 (Gutenberg)
ISBN: 0756509947 (MacArthur)
ISBN: 0756509858 (Van Lew)
ISBN: 075650984X (Wheatley)
ISBN: 0756510031 (Winnemucca) $30.60, 112 pages,

Compass Books' excellent "Signature Lives" biography series now features 25 proud new additions including Johannes Gutenberg: Inventor of the Printing Press by Fran Rees, "Sarah Winnemucca: Scout, Activist, and Teacher" by Natalie M. Rosinsky, Phillis Wheatley: Slave and Poet," "Elizabeth Van Lew: Civil War Spy" by Heidi Schoof, and "Douglas MacArthur: America's General" by Brenda Haugen. Each provides a thorough, up-dated history of each important individual, placing each meaningfully within the context of their time and place, in these cases the Renaissance, Revolutionary War, Civil War, frontier, and modern eras, respectively. The authors and scholarly research staff never let the subjects come close to boring, thanks to focused text, interesting sidebars, and colorful illustrations that succeed as genuine page-turners. Recommended as an excellent library resource for ages 10-13.

Whitewater Scrubs
Jamie McEwan
Darby Creek Publishing
7858 Industrial Parkway, Plain city, OH 43064
ISBN: 1581960387, $14.99, 64 pages,

In this easy-to-read chapter book sequel to "Willy the Scrub," Willy and the gang have joined an after-school kayaking club. Clara has always been one of the school's top girl athletes, so she expects to be better than Willy, Rufus, and Dan. After all, they were "Scrubs" on the football team - and not so great at wrestling either. But when Clara can't handle the whitewater and ends up upside-down in her kayak, she gets scared and thinks about quitting. ?Her best friend Julie thinks she should walk away from kayaking and the Scrubs. Clara has never quit anything before, but she just can't make up her mind. Is kayaking really "all wet" or does she have something to prove?

Best in Show for Rotten Ralph
Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374363587, $21.00, 48 pages,

Rotten Ralph worries that his cousin, Perfect Percy, will steal the spotlight at the upcoming cat show. Ralph is out of shape and desperate enough to go along with Sarah's fitness and beauty routines. But on show day, Ralph remembers his rotten roots just in time. In this new Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader, beginning readers will cheer Ralph's show-stoppiing approach to competition.

Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374320918, $16.00,

Gabrielle Zevin bursts onto the scene with her debut young- adult novel, "Elsewhere," which she describes as "a way for me to discuss this life through the prism of the next one." In this funny yet poignant novel, Zevin celebrates the concept that life is a state of mind unbound by physical location and contends that a life well lived consists of enjoying the moment; recognizing that you are in the midst of an adventure rather than longing for the adventure to begin, maintaining a sense of humor, appreciating relationships, and accepting and giving love, even if you find yourself in an unfamiliar place like Elsewhere. As a place where people go when they die, Elsewhere is not a final destination but a new beginning, where a person is likely to experience a multitude of ups and downs, encounter loved ones, and rekindle relationships. Liz Hall is an ordinary fifteen-year-old looking forward to learning to drive, going to the prom, and having a boyfriend. Liz is overwrought upon her arrival in Elsewhere; after all, people here do not age forward-they age backward, eventually returning to life on earth as newborn babies. When she wakes up in Elsewhere, she must face the reality that her life on earth is over. She must absorb the shock of being separated from her family, her friends, and her beloved dog, Lucy, only able to watch them from an Observation Deck, which merely provides temporary consolation. Longing for her previous existence, she comes to learn that she is not without choices and possibilities, and she develops a more open-minded outlook. Ultimately, by exploring what matters to her, Liz starts to allow herself to live life to the fullest in this hopeful, humorous, and insightful coming-of-age story.

Rose and Riley Come and Go
Jane Cutler
illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374363412, $15.00, 48 pages,

Rose, a vole, and Riley, a groundhog, return for three new adventures. Join them as they look for a picture-perfect seashell, gentle wildflowers, and overly noisy songbirds. Rose and Riley may not always see eye to eye, but for the two good friends there is always a happy ending. This lovely, gentle easy-to-read chapter book is recommended for new readers.

Under the Persimmon Tree
Suzanne Fisher Staples
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374380252, $17.00, 276 pages,

Najmah, a young Afgahan girl whose name means "star," suddenly finds herself alone when her father and older brother are conscripted by the Taliban and her mother and newborn brother are killed in an air raid. Elaine, whose Islamic name is Nusrat, is also on her own. An American, she has come to Pakistan with her Afghan doctor husband so that he might run a clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. She waits out the war, and awaits her husband's safe return, while teaching refugee children in Peshwar in her garden under the persimmon tree. Najmah's father had always assured her that the stars would take care of her, just as Nusrat's husband had promised that they would tell Nusrat where he was and that he was safe. As the young girl and the woman look to the skies for answers their fates entwine. Najmah, seeking refuge and hoping to find her father and brother, begins the perilous journey through the mountains to cross the border into Pakistan. And Nusrat's persimmon-tree school awaits Najmah's arrival. Together, they both seek their way home. Known for her award-winning fiction set in Asia, Suzanne Fisher Staples revisits that part of the world in this heartrending new novel set in 2001-2002 Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Invisible Detective: Double Life
The Invisible Detective: Shadow Beast
Justin Richards
Sleuth / G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399243135 (Double)
ISBN: 0399243143 (Shadow) $10.99,

In "Double Life," the first adventure in this middle-grade mystery series, the Invisible Detective's young crime solvers are on a strange case: Automated puppets from a traveling exhibition have begun replacing real people. Who is the puppet master behind these sinister abductions, and what has he done with the victims? Can the gang stop him before he completes his dastardly plan? The sequel, "Shadow Beast," a daring bank robbery and a missing cat lead the sleuths down into the London sewers. But their search for clues takes a horrifying turn when they discover a hideous beast lurking in the tunnels. Will the gang solve the mystery - or will the monster get them first? A wonderful ode to pulp fiction and classic detectives, it's clear that just one book will create many, many fans of the genre.

Young Cam Jansen and the Substitute Mystery
David Adler
illustrated by Susanne Natti
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0670059889, $13.99, 32 pages,

Ever-popular chapter book star Cam Jansen is back in this easy-to-read mystery in which Cam and her classmates have a forgetful substitute teacher. First, he forgot the homework assignment. And where did he put his jacket? When his car keys and cell phone go missing, everyone starts to wonder: did he lose them or were they stolen? New readers can "click" along with Cam as she cleverly solves this mystery with her unique clue-gathering technique.

Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen
Sally M. Keehn
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399242872, $16.99, 154 pages,

Love conquers all in this post-Civil War Appalachian tall tale fueled by the supernatural energy of 12-year-old Gnat Stokes, who lives with her grandfather and who "ain't scairt of nothing," not even the evil swamp queen Zelda. Based on the Scottish ballad Tam Lin, this farcical swamp romp drips with superstition and magic, Warrior Bogies and rusty Swamp Knights, all described matter-of-factly by Gnat in a funny, folksy first-person narrative. Her quest begins when a talking cat falls from the night sky into her arms, bearing an enchanted golden locket that belongs to the beautiful Penelope, fated true love of the long-missing biy Goodlow Pryce. Keehan's fresh take on dusty Scottish lore is inspired, and the resulting tall-tale fantasy is warm and whimsical. Recommended for ages 9-12.

The 7 Professors of the Far North
John Fardell
G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 039924381X, $14.99, 218 pages

Sam never dreamed his vacation with Zara and Ben would turn into a life-or-death rescue mission to the Arctiv Ocean. But Zara and Ben's great-uncle has been kidnapped, along with five of his professor friends. Now the children are alone, with just three days to make a seemingly impossible journey and save the prisoners from the mundane clutches of the seventh professor: the sinister Professor Murdo. Their struggle with test their inventive powers to the limit as they decrypt hidden messages, discover secret passages, hurdle over dangerous sea ice, infiltrate a heavily guarded island, and uncover the terrible extent of Murdo's evil plans. John Fardell's adventurous debut novel is quite a thrill ride, overflowing with suspense and intrigue, packed with extraordinary inventions and surprises.

Three Good Deeds
Vivian Vande Velde
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152053824, $16.00, 148 pages,

If Howard had known the old hag was a witch, he never would have taunted her. But he did, and she did what witches do - cursed him - and now he's a goose. Which, to tell you the truth, is not as serene and peaceful as it might look from the shore. People try to kill geese, for crying out loud, and the other geese are none too nice to newcomers. Howard is just so angry about being a goose that he'd do anything to become a human again and show that old witch a thing or two. But the only way to break the curse is to do three good deeds, and how can you help people when you've got wings for hands and can't say anything but "Honk"? Another cute read for ages 8-11 from the author of "Smart Dog" and "Heir Apparent."

Bury Me In The Library
J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Kyle M. Stone
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152163875, $16.00, 32 pages,

There's nothing like curling up with a good book, but you have to be careful because the perfect phrase can pull you in, and before you know it a minute turns into an hour, and so on. With a tip of the hat to Edward Lear, X.J. Kennedy, and Lewis Carroll, poet J. Patrick Lewis whips up a picture book collection of poems that is both ghoulish and giddy in this clever picture book collection for the young book lovers ages 6 to nine.

Rotten School #3: The Good, The Bad and the Very Slimy
R.L. Stine
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060785926, $6.99, 118 pages,

The latest entry in "The Rotten School" middle grade series by R.L. Stine - the creepy master of the "Goosebumps" chapter book series - continues the yucky tale of a boarding school with disgustingly high standards for grossing out students and faculty alike. As previously displayed in the series' first two submissions - "The Big Blueberry Barf-Off" and "The Great Smelling Bee" - the third try also gets A's in abandoning each student's intellectual, moral and physical growth. This time love is in the putrid air. In order to get his crush, April-May June to go to the dance with him, Bernie Bridges has to keep a promise: he won't be mischievous for a whole week! Can he stay on the straight and narrow - especially when it's time for the super slimy - and against the rules - slug race? Rotten to the core, this is the chapter-book equivalent of Garbage Pail Kids and Mad magazine's ickiest character creations. Librarians will hate it. Parents will shun it. Kids with love it.

Fat Bat and Swoop
Leo Landry
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0805070036, $15.95, 64 pages,

In this easy-to-read chapter book, Fat Bat and Swoop love to make mischief. When they fly through a clothesline and come out looking like ghosts, they know its time for some fun. And Emily is the perfect target for their prank - she's quite a nice cow, but she has a bad habit of mooing all day when the nighttime pals are trying to sleep But when their plan backfires and they come face-to-face with Emily, Fat Bat and Swoop find out that even very different creatures can become good friends.

Zahrah the Windseeker
Nnedi Okarfor-Mbachu
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618340904, $16.00, 308 pages,

Fear of the unknown runs deep in the norhter Ooni Kingdom, Children born dada are feared and rumored to have special powers. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal girl - she grows her own flora computer, has mirrors sewn onto her clothes, and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. But unlike other children in the village of Kirki, Zahrah was born with the telling dadalocks. Only Dari, her best friend, isn't afraid of her, even when something strange begins to happen to her - something that makes Zahrah different. The two friends decide to investigate what's happening to Zahrah - an investigation that ends with Dari's life in danger and with Zahrah alone and struggling with her worst fears and the very thing that makes her different. In this debut novel, things aren't always what they seem: monkeys tell fortunes, plants offer wisdom, and a teenage girl is the only one who stands a chance at saving her best friend's life.

Diary of a Fairy Godmother
Esme Raji Codell
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN: 0786809655, $14.99, 170 pages,

Esme Raji Codell's "Diary of a Fairy Godmother" is a twisted take of witchcraft and "wish"craft, set in a world full of familiar characters. Hunky Dory's interest in granting wishes over casting spells gets her kicked out of school, so she becomes determined to follow her heart and become a full-blown fairy godmother. She grants a few unsatisfying wishes until, motivated by jealousy, she realizes the perfect ticket to her career dream: Cinderella. A sassy twist of fairy tales, this middle grade novel for ages 9-12 will spellbind girls who are open to unconventional happily-ever-afters.

Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family
Steven R. Schirripa
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385732570, $15.95, 176 pages,

The author of "A Goomba's Guide to Life" and "The Sopranos" actor Steven R. Schirripa reteams with his writing partner Charles Fleming on the funny "Nicky Deuce: Welcome To The Family." Their first middle grade novel is about what they know best: Italian culture, food and family. It's summer and Nicolas Borelli II is ready for hi annual trip to Camp Wannameka while his parents head off on vacation without him. But when disaster strikes at camp, the only place for Nicolas to stay is with his Italian grandmother in Brooklyn, New York. Nicholas's father grew up in Bensonhurst, but left the neighborhood long ago and settled with his family in the suburbs of New Jersey. Nickolas has never been to Brooklyn and doesn't feel that he's missing out. But when he tastes his Grandma Tutti's delectable meatballs, gets a nickname from Uncle Frankie, and makes a new friend in the neighborhood, Nicky deuce emerges and connects with his family and heritage in a way his father could never have expected. For readers ages 8 -12.

Five Ancestors: Monkey
Jeff Stone
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375830731, $15.95, 196 pages,

Kids with a taste for exotic adventure and the excitement of martial arts love "The Five Ancestors: Tiger" series debut. Now comes "Monkey," the riveting the second book in Jeff Stone's series. Set 350 years ago in ancient China, the series features five, young, orphaned warrior monks fighting to save the ancient Chinese knowledge of kung-fu. Along the way, they begin to question their individuality - why they each have different strengths, and where these qualities come from. Each of the monks specializes in a different style of "animal" kung-fu reflecting his personality. After a renegade brother monk leads a brutal attach on their secret temple, Fu, Matao, She, Hok and Long are forced to flee. Relying solely on their training and instincts, they set out on a quest to avenge their fallen brothers and retain their temple's stolen Dragon scrolls. Each book is told from the POV of a different brother. In "Monkey," we follow the story of Matao, whose quick ape-like fighting style surprises all but the sharpest foe. With Cangzhen temple destroyed and his older brothers dead, Matao flees into the woods where he encounters a dangerous group of bandits and is adopted by a troop of monkeys commanded by a one-eyed albino. While he and his new family search for the stolen Dragon scrolls, Matao hears tantalizing rumors of a mysterious recluse called the Monkey King, who is said to act and look a lot like him… Based loosely on the history of the Shaolin monks -- whose temple was destroyed in 1647 by the Qing Dynasty which outlawed Confucianism and the martial arts -- it's no mystery why kids find "The Five Ancestors" epic so fascinating.

Traction Man Is Here
Mini Grey
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375831916, $15.95, 32 pages,

Traction Man arrives in a gift box. He's a brand-new model with grippy hands, swivel eyes, and extra string. And with an action outfit for every occasion! He patrols his boy's house, protecting toys from the Evil Pillows, guarding the breakfast toast, searching for sunken wrecks in the dishwater, and rescuing damsels in distress. He is ready for anything - until he meets up with his boy's granny and the humiliating outfit she has knit for him. Mini Grey has perfectly captured the imaginative world of a child at play, using one superhero action toy and transforming everyday household objects into villains and victims. The comic sensibilities and child-like imagination will especially appeal to cartoon superhero fans.

My Friend, The Enemy
J.B. Cheaney
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375814329, $15.95, 266 pages,

Eleven-year-old Hazel Anderson feels like she can't remember a time when her country was not at was with Japan. Since Pearl Harbor was bombed on her birthday more than three years ago, Hazel has tried her best to be a good and loyal American citizen. She personally scours the skies each day looking for enemy planes from her lookout over Hood River Valley in Oregon. She figures the enemy will be easy to identify. Or will they? In "My Friend The Enemy," Hazel get the shock of her life when she stumbles upon the "enemy" living in her own backyard. His name is Sogoji. He is 15 and has been hiding on her neighbor's farm for the past three years to avoid being sent to internment camp at first, Hazel is frightened and angry - how could the Lanskis be such traitors? How can they claim Sogoji is not a threat? Though he looks like the enemy, Sogoji insists that he is a good American boy, and in spite of herself, Hazel and Sogoji strike up a friendship encouraged by their mutual lonliness. Bu when Hazel discovers evidence of a real Japanese attack on the mainland, and as community hatred grows, their friendship is put to the test. A powerful and compelling novel about the causes and ramifications of the Japanese internment during WWII, a subject undeniably relevant to our times. For readers 10-14.

Dona Flor
Pat Mora
illustrated by Raul Colon
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375823379, $15.95, 40 pages,

From the award-winning author/illustrator team of "Tomas and the Library Lady," comes the brilliant new picture book "Dona Flor". Simultaneously published in English and Spanish, this work resents a beautiful and whimsical tale of a giant woman who lives in a tiny town and cares for all of the grateful people in her village. With an enormous heart full of love, Flor allows the children in her community to play with all the giant-sized things that she grows and makes in her house. But one day a puma terrorizes the village, so Flor sets out on a mission to find the mischievous cat responsible for the unrest. Artist Raul Colon captures the essence of time and place with the vibrancy and grace of his illustrations.

Dustin Grubbs One-Man Show
John J. Bonk
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316156361, $15.99, 246 pages,

So, maybe wanting to be an actor is kind of an ambitious dream for a sixth-grader - especially in a school that hasn't put on a play since medieval times. (Well, it seems that way. But nothing can stop 11-year-old Dustin Grubbs. He's snagged the leading role and is about to make his theatrical debut…until a real, live celebrity moves to Buttermilk Falls and threatens to steal the show. Is Dustin forlorn? Maybe. Defeated? Not a chance. But can he keep his cool after discovering that his long-lost father might be out in the audience? Packed with catastrophes, crazy capers, and quirky characters, "Dustin Grubbs: One-Man Show" is a funny middle-grade ode to the belief that the show must go on.

Edited by Ann M. Martin and David Levithan
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439729912, $16.95, 186 pages,

Everyone has at least one life-changing friend. The friend can be the girl next door, or a faithful dog, or a teacher, or just plain invisible. In this collection, acclaimed writers - including Virginia Euwer Wolff, Ann M. Martin, Pam Munoz Ryan, Rachel Cohn, Meg Cabot, Patricial McCormick, and David Levithan - present stories about friendship and all of its reverberations. Profits from this collaborations go to The Lisa Libraries, a nonprofit organization that donates new children's books and small libraries to organizations serving needy children.

Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi
Jose-Luis Orozco
illustrated by David Diaz
Orchard / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439649412, $16.95, 24 pages,

Author, educator, and recording artist, Jose-Luis Orozco teams up with Caldecott award winner David Diaz to create a bilingual picture book for Scholastic's summer release "Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi." Written in English and Spanish, the song book is about a boy who asks his family to sing to him, say letters to him, and read to him - all activities that lay the foundation for literacy. Colorful illustrations depict warmth of family life and the energy of community. The music written by Jose-Luis Orozco is included. The book ties in with the Lee y Seras (Read and You'll Be) literacy campaign, created by Latino researchers, community leaders, and educators to help prepare families and communities to support the reading development of Latino children.

Johnny Hazard
Eddie de Oliveira
PUSH / Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439673615, $16.95, 336 pages,

Take one Texan adolescent. Move him to London for a summer. Mix in a quest for experience and a mysterious older girl. That's "Johnny Hazzard," and he's not used to being foreigner, much less fending for himself. Then he meets an older girl named January, and suddenly his quest for experience is taking some unexpected turns. This second effort from Eddie deOliveira is about growing up American, growing up in the world, and growing up in the face of love in a very uncertain, complicated time. For young adults 13 and up.

The Meanest Girl
Debora Allie
Roaring Brook Press / Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN: 1596430141, $15.95, 118 pages

Starting a new school year, buying her first bra, having a crush on her English teacher, parents fighting, fathers leaving - Alyssa has a lot on her mind. She really needs a friend, but her best friend, Chelsea, is too busy being president of her new club, the Mona Lisas, to care. Then Alyssa gets a mysterious love note. Who is the note from? What's wrong with Chelsea? Who will Alyssa turn to now? With humor and charm, Debora Allie makes her beut in this story of love and friendship in the sixth grade.

Flight Test Lab Spacecraft
Silver Dolphin Books
5880 Oberlin Dr., San Diego, CA 92121-4794
ISBN: 159223335X, $17.95, 32 pages,

"Spacecraft" is one title in the Flight Test Lab series of interactive and educational book kits that take readers into the incredible world of flying with fascinating stories of intriguing feats and facts, and the tools that put rocket science at their fingertips. "Flight Test Lab Spacecraft" offers kids the chance to blastoff into space without ever leaving planet Earth. This entertaining and educational book plus model maker examines the history of space exploration how rockets work, and how a spacecraft's engine accelerates to a speed of 25,000 miles in order to break Earth's gravitational pull. After reading and learning all about space and rocket ships, kids can apply their flight training toward building and launching four different spacecraft models. For young astophysicists age 8 and up.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design