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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 10 October 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Grail Bird
Tim Gallagher
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
0618456937 $25.00 1-800-225-3362

Since the early 20th century scientists have been trying to prove the ivory-bill woodpecker is extinct, dismissing claims of sightings despite many reports to the contrary. Author Tim Gallager journeyed to the swamps of the Mississippi Delta searching for those who claimed to have seen the birds - and following up on their sightings with his friend Bobby. THE GRAIL BIRD: HOT ON THE TRAIL OF THE IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER provides their adventures and their personal observation by two qualified observers who could verify their find.

Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02115

Kenn Kaufman's pocket-sized field "Field Guide to Birds of North America" guides are the perfect take-along tote for any field trip where bird identification is involved. These two thoroughly "user-friendly" versions of the basic "take-along" birdwatching manuals are 'must' references, especially for amateurs easily confused by more complex guides. The English version (0618574239, $18.95) offers a pictorial table of contents, color- tabbed sections, groupings by similar species, and a new introduction. Reference is quick and easy with clear color illustrations and similar groupings allowing newcomers to quickly identify passing birds. And, the Spanish version GUIA DE CAMPO A LAS AVES DE NORTEAMERICA (0618574247, $18.95) assures Latin users won't be left out. If only one introductory take-along tote were chosen, Kaufman's guide should be at the top of the list.

Ireland's Most Wanted
Brian M. Thomsen
Potomac Books
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166-2012
1574887270 $12.95 1-800-775-2518

While IRELAND'S MOST WANTED: THE TOP 10 BOOK OF CELTIC PRIDE, FANTASTIC FOLKLORE, AND ODDIES OF THE EMERALD ISLE may sound appropriate for St. Patrick's Day alone, it's actually much more: a celebration of Irish history and culture which will prove of year-round interest. Historical facts about Ireland, biographical sketches of famous Irish personalities, cultural and social insights, and colorful tales are told in a fine guide to Ireland's best.

The Stripper's Guide To Looking Great Naked
Jennifer Axen & Leigh Phillips
Chronicle Books
85 - 2nd Street, San Francisco CA 94105
0811846474 $14.98 1-800-722-6657

Strippers do more than remove clothing; they make sure their expressions and bodies lend to flaunting sexuality. The authors of THE STRIPPER'S GUIDE TO LOOKING GREAT NAKED interviewed hundreds of strippers to learn how they highlighted their assets and hide the flaws: learn from them in a guide which covers everything from high heels to stockings and beyond.

Life's Greatest Lessons
Hal Urban
Fireside Books
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0743274175 $19.95 1-800-223-2336

Good character and principles have a lot to do with social values and success: Hal Urban tackles the very difficult topic of cultivating personal character, discussing how to make choices that matter to lead to lives of value. Twenty basic principles are identified for building a proud life based on compassion and handling such issues as honesty, bad/good habits, and more.

Fresh Fruits
Shoichi Aoki, Photographer
Phaidon Press
180 Varick Street, 14th Fl., NY, NY 10014
0714845108 $29.95

Japanese street fashion is gaining in popularity in America, prompting the release of FRESH FRUITS, a photo update to the prior 2000 FRUITS covering Tokyo street fashion. Over 260 photos of teens from downtown Tokyo are presented in full-page, full color by Japanese fashion photographer Shoichi Aoki. The magazine Fruits was established in 1994 to document the new street fashions within Tokyo: FRESH FRUITS advances the effort to modern times and surveys Japanese street fashion over the past five years. It could have been featured in our "Arts" section but deserves additional mention here for its many colorful Japanese cultural insights.

Prescription for a Healthy Nation
Tom Farley, MD & Deborah Cohen, MD
Beacon Press
25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2892
0807021164 $24.95

Here's a new approach to improving everyday life which addresses the larger issue of American health care. The leading killers in modern society come from injury and chronic diseases: while most of the latter are preventable, yet modern medicine isn't effective at combating these illness once there are in place. Health reflects how we lead our lives - and behavior and health are both shaped by daily living itself; from urban design to organizational and business structures. These important discussions link social issues to health issues and draw some important conclusions as to why health is so difficult to achieve and maintain in our rich modern society.

Second Wife
Martha Denlinger Stahl
Good Books
3510 Old Philadelpha Pike, Intercourse, PA 17534-0419
1561484830 $9.99 1-800-762-7171

Mid-life romance sounds promising, with the added value of maturity hopefully improving the odds, but Martha Stahl, herself a second wife, talks straight about the preparations needed by women marrying a widower. Stories and wisdom from her own experiences and those of others who have married widowers chart common pitfalls as well as successes.

Act III in Paragonia: People & Wildlife
William Conway
Island Press
1718 Connecticut Ave. NW #300, Washington, DC 20009
1559635185 $29.95 1-800-828-1302

Patagonia is synonymous with wildlife and breathtaking landscape - what is less known as that it's also the stage for a drama played out between humanity and the region's wildlife - a drama which has already seen an indigenous phase followed by animal slaughter. ACT II IN PATAGONIA: PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE reveals the final process has begin, and former President of the Wildlife Conservation Society here reveals Patagonia's natural history and efforts to preserve its many wonders. Gorgeous photos peppered throughout enhance the appeal and message.

Immigration and Asylum
Matthew Gibney & Randall Hansen, eds.
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara CA 93116-1911
1576077969 $310.00 1-800-368-6868

College-level reference libraries with strong holdings in social issues won't want to miss this superbly puiblished, A to Z, three-volume encyclopedia IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM: FROM 1900 TO THE PRESENT. This outstanding pick includes nearly 200 entries arranged around themes from immigration issues and major migrating groups to expulsions and the politics of migration. International experts contribute articles, detailed essays, and plenty of social and cultural insights while a separate volume of primary source documents from political treatises to speeches and UN documents show how world officials address immigration issues. An outstanding library reference for any college-level or public library strong in immigration history and social issues.

Saudi Arabia Exposed
John R. Bradley
Palgrave Macmillan
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1403964335 $22.95 1-888-330-8477

If you wish to understand the inner workings and true crisis of Saudi Arabia, you can't go wrong absorbing journalist John R. Bradley's reporting in SAUDI ARABIA EXPOSED: INSIDE A KINGDOM IN CRISIS. Bradley reported on the country for several years, is an Arabic speaker, and explores both the culture and the social and political crisis of a nation highly divided. His isn't just a focus on politics, however - SAUDI ARABIA EXPOSED focuses on how regular Saudis live under the Al-Saud family, how the family's rulings foster resentments among the populace, and how regional divisions are threatening the kingdom. A thoughtful probe of the heart of a divided country, SAUDI ARABIA EXPOSED is a 'must' for any who would understand the underlying sentiments of the Saudi people.

New York University Press
838 Broadway, 3rd fl., NY, NY 10003

Two important new guides provide excellent analysis of modern social issues. Nancy Foner's IN A NEW LAND; A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF IMMIGRATION (0814727468) uses historical and modern research to provide new insights into today's immigrants and how they are affecting societies around the world. A comparative approach contrasts different ethnic newcomers with those from Europe a century ago, and between major US cities, with an eye to viewing processes of immigrant integration. A fascinating survey. Tom DeLuca and John Buell's LIARS! CHEATERS! EVILDOERS! DEMONIZATION AND THE END OF CIVIL DEBATE IN AMERICAN POLITICS (0814719759) considers the latest tendency to attach good/evil values to international political and social issues. The rise of the 'demonization' of American politics, charted by professor Tom DeLuca and columnist John Buell, provides thought-provoking analysis of the long-term effects of such demonization, and how it can be reversed to create a more productive environment.

The Chowhound's Guide to The San Francisco Bay Area
Penguin Books
375 Hudson, New York NY 10014
0143034413 $18.00 1-800-847-5515

Any who consider food a major highlight in life or to a vacation will want to be sure to pack CHOWHOUND'S GUIDE TO THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA: it comes from a group of experts which concentrate on undiscovered places from Chinatown's noodle shops and dim sum restaurants to Oakland's Fruitvale, a mecca for Mexican treats. Here's another difference: CHOWHOUND'S GUIDE is organized by categories - 'Bargains', 'Linguica', 'Buying Live Fish' - and mixes in Bay Area establishments to make it very easy to locate a subject and place by topic alone. Extensive notes include offerings, best days to visit, history, candid comments on food value, and more. A 'must'.

The End of Elsewhere
Taras Grescoe
Serpent's Tail
255 West 108th Street, #9D1, NY, NY 10025
1852428678 $15.99 1-800-283-3572

Taras Grescoe searched for tourism's adventures, stories, and attractions: THE END OF ELSEWHERE: TRAVELS AMOUNG THE TOURISTS charts this journey, covering both the history of leisure travel and how remote attractions around the world now intrigue the adventure seeker. Humor, cultural observation, and more pack a first-person travelogue perfect for armchair reading.

Benedict Le Vay
Bradt/Globe Pequot
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437-0480
1841621226 $22.95 1-800-243-0495

From strange pubs with unusual drinking rituals to equally strange ceremonies involving singing to apple trees and a clown-dressed church, infamous graves with deep histories, and odd British upper-class history, ECCENTRIC BRITAIN appears in its 2nd updated edition to delight audiences both armchair and destination- bound with a special affection for British life and humor. The focus here is on local eccentric color and history and there's plenty to satisfy any with the thirst for the odd, making for a fanciful - but true - reading.

Everglades National Park And the Surrounding Area
Roger L. Hammer
Falcon Publishers/Globe Pequot
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
0762734329 $12.95 1-800-582-2665

The Everglades holds over 2 million acres of countryside to enjoy, so even though other explorations by different authors have appeared, it's no overkill to add yet another. EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK AND THE SURROUNDING AREA: A GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE GREAT OUTDOORS packs in all kinds of activities, from hiking and kayaking to trail descriptions local history, safety issues and more. Whether you wish to camp and hike or rent a canoe, this outdoors guide is a winner, with its many line maps and descriptions.

Whereabouts Press
1111 - 8th St. Suite D, Berkeley, CA 94710-1455

Three exciting literary companion guides are perfect take-along totes for any visitor or traveler, as well as perfect armchair reads for any who would visit the country vicariously. Take Barbara Ras' COSTA RICA (1883513006, $13.95): sound and fine literary quality is the feature of all twenty-six stories, organized regionally and presenting lively insights into the country's culture, organization, wildlife, and daily life. From the Northern Zone to the Southern Pacific Coast, COSTA RICA's excellent narrative stories bring to life the underlying nuances of the country's experience as no ordinary travel guide could accomplish. Or choose Katherine Silver's CHILE (1883513138, $13.95), which charts both the natural history and the political changes the county has experienced over time. There are a little over twenty stories here - again, most available for the first time in English, so don't expect repeats of the same classics. The literary quality is outstanding, the narratives read smoothly and vigorously, and Chile's underlying passions and culture come to life. Robert Ross edits AUSTRALIA (1883513057, $13.95), which journeys a little further down history to cover the colonial period to modern Australia, capturing a good chunk of Australian historical influence in the process of using 25 tales to present the continent's evolution. From urban to rural experience Australia comes to life. These will make exceptionally solid farewell gifts for any heading overseas - or any with fond memories of a visit, who want solid literary explorations.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles New York City
Christopher & Catherine Brooks
Menasha Ridge Press
2204 - 1st St, #102, Birmingham, AL 35233
089732546X $15.95

Go take a hike, even if you live in the Big Apple, with the help of 60 HIKES WITHIN 60 MILES NEW YORK CITY: a guide which also covers New Jersey, SW Connecticut, and western Long Island. Plenty of hiking options are covered from short to long, hikes for kids and dogs, birders, historic hikes: just about any type needed. Trail descriptions are an essential key to a good hiker's guide, and this has 'em - from detailed maps to elevation profiles and easy directions to trailheads. Highly recommended.

Native Roads, 2nd Edition
Fran Kosik
Rio Nuevo Publishers
PO Box 5250, Tucson, AZ 85703
1887896686 $16.95

Any with an ongoing, avid interest in Native American reservations and travel options will want to keep close at hand NATIVE ROADS: THE COMPLETE MOTORING GUIDE TO THE NAVAJO & HOPI NATIONS, 2ND EDITION. These self-guided tours use highways to help tourists create a road map of landmarks, trading posts, museums, and more, covering Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah's finest Native lands. NATIVE LANDS doesn't come from an outsider, either: Frank Kosik has lived in and traveled through these lands for nearly thirty years, and her familiarity with the sights and cultures she's presenting is invaluable.

In Search of Mayberry
Scott Dickson
Parkway Publishers
PO Box 3678, Boone, NC 28607
1887905987 $19.95

The price tag may sound high for a standard 116-page paperback, but any who would tour and know the small towns of North Carolina well, will find IN SEARCH OF MAYBERRY a bargain. For one thing, author Scott Dickson was born in the state, had small-town roots, and returned to them to research small towns within North Carolina. Months of research and travel led to a lovely pairing of sepia photos and commentary on the cultural aspects which make each small town unique. What evolves is more than just a travelogue or history alone: it's a celebration of small town America.

Paraglyph Press
1238 East Cambridge Avenue, Phoenix, Ax 85006

Something radically different from the usual computer how-to manual is presented in Jim Parker's title, which discusses a unique game programming opportunity in START YOUR ENGINES: DEVELOPING DRIVING AND RACING GAMES (9781933097015 $39.99). Game programmer Jim Parker tells how to design fast-action driving and racing games, one of the most popular of the computer games sold today - and one of the least explored in how-to game guides for programmers. From game construction and collision detection to good audio, cinematography, and realistic terrain developments, START YOUR ENGINES covers the process from beginning to end, culling tips from leading 3D game programmers and applying them to racing models. Joli Ballew's DEGUNKING YOUR MAC, TIGER EDITION (978-1-933097-05-3, $24.99) tells how to get the most out of Tiger, Apple's new operating system. Learn how to clean up a Mac, speed it up, streamline files and more: DEGUNKING YOUR MAC, TIGER EDITION covers all the basics which will keep your Mac's Tiger operating system at optimal levels.

Linux Made Easy
Rickford Grant
No Starch Press
555 DeHaro #250, San Francisco CA 94107
1593270577 $34.95

Linux operating systems are usually addressed in weighty programmer's guides, as it's an operating system for those usually more advanced than Windows users - yet, beginners will find Linux just as easy as Windows with the aid of LINUX MADE EASY: THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO XANDROS 3 FOR EVERYDAY USERS. A step-by-step guide uses sample projects to link Linux operating system routines to everyday system use, covering all the basics from initial installation to web browsing, playing cds and games, and using peripherals. An excellent starting point for Linux users who have been seeking something easier than the usual programmer's advanced guides.

2 Penn Plaza, NY, NY 10121-2298

As Ebay expands its system with seller stores and more selling opportunities, so McGraw offers a host of new Ebay "how to" titles specifically designed to help beginners take advantage of ebay's many new opportunities. Dennis L. Prince's HOW TO SELL ANYTHING ON EBAY…AND MAKE A FORTUNE! (0071426489, $14.95) provides beginners with all the basics on how to sell on ebay, going beyond the usual set-up instructions to address such issues as choosing the best time of week and month for the strongest sales, phrasing auction listings to attract attention, choosing items with the biggest price potential, and more. Dennis L. Prince and Lynn Dralle's HOW TO SELL ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES ON EBAY AND MAKE A FORTUNE! (0071445692, $14.95) narrows the subject to the popular antiques market, revealing plenty of potential in the online sales of antiques. From locating and pricing collectibles to legal issues and making ebay work for you with customization, this is the place for antiques sellers to begin. Greg Holden's HOW TO DO EVERYTHING WITH EBAY (0072254262, $24.99) does cover 'everything', from buying large, expensive items through live auctions and understanding ebay's schedule to synchronize bidding to locating resalable merchandise and protecting identity online. Both buyers and sellers will find HOW TO DO EVERYTHING WITH EBAY a winner. Once you've learned the basics of how to work on ebay, it's time for something more advanced, and John Cronan and Carole Matthews' BUILD AN EBAY BUSINESS QUICK STEPS (0072261617, $16.99) is the next logical book to turn to. A step-by-step pictorial plan shows how to run a profitable eBay business, from developing a business plan and building inventory to managing listings and sales, setting up and publicizing an eBay store, and more. The color-coded tabs and visual orientation makes this quite an easy primer. Now, it's time to market your creation - use Janelle Elms, Phil Dunn and Amy Balsbaugh's THE 7 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL EBAY MARKETING (0072260912, $16.95) next. Proven techniquesfrom the authors, who are veteran eBay sellers and marketing experts, tell how to establish and build a strong eBay brand, use the seller's toolbox advanced features, coordinate eBay with a separate web site, and much more. These are indispensable eBay handbooks, highly recommended.

Peachpit/New Riders
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759

These fine new computer books provide varied topics and strong presentations users will appreciate. Dan Cederholm's BULLETPROOF WEB DESIGN: IMPROVING FLEXIBILITY AND PROTECTING AGAINST WORST-CASE SCENARIOS WITH XHTML AND CSS (0321346939, $39.99) tells how to adapt a web site for all scenarios. From text sizing for optimum user control to using floats to achieve grid-like results, stripping the presentation from data tables and using CSS to optimal efficiency, XHTML and CSS programmers receive plenty of nuts-and-bolts advice. The second edition of Jack Davis and Ben Willmore's HOW TO WOW: PHOTOGRAPHY FOR PHOTOSHOP (0321357507, $39.99) comes from two Photoshop educators and authors who offer step-by-step real-world examples to help users fine-tune Photoshop quickly and efficiently. From using the new Bridge to retouch and Vanishing point to optimize an entire photoshoot automatically in Camera Raw to enhancing photos with brushes and custom shape tools and wrapping patterns, HOW TO WOW PHOTOSHOP FOR PHOTOGRAPH's second edition covers even more from the powerhouse program. Owen W. Linzmayer edits DESKTOP AND PORTABLE SYSTEMS 2ND EDN: A GUIDE TO SUPPORTING, SERVICING, AND TROUBLESHOOTING APPLE COMPUTERS (0321335465, $54.99), an Apple-certified manual for professionals who support Apples and advanced Mac users who wish to upgrade or troubleshoot their systems. From taking systems apart to upgrade components to servicing hardware, diagnostics, diagrams, lesson plans and reviews provide an Apple tech's course under one cover.

CMP Books
600 Harrison St., San Francisco CA 94107

These two excellent computer references are picks for advanced users who want expert advice and in-depth detail. The second volume of Trish & Chris Meyer's CREATING MOTION GRAPHICS WITH AFTER EFFECTS V. 2: ADVANCED TECHNIQUES (1578202698, $59.95) offers an in-depth coverage revealing core concepts on audio, alpha channels, manipulating time, and much more. Video and film users will find plenty of detailed advise in blending After Effects with programs such as the popular Photoshop, and chapters covering everything from editing systems and Web tools to integrating 3D applications, motion tracking, and handling animation. Plenty of color examples throughout makes the lessons easy on the eye and visually satisfying. Ted Dinsmore and Edward O'Connor's PARTNERING WITH MICROSOFT: HOW TO MAKE MONEY IN TRUSTED PARTNERSHIP WITH THE GLOBAL SOFTWARE POWERHOUSE (1578203171, $39.95) offers the first resource to show businessmen how to work successful with Microsoft. From reseller requirements and independent software vendor requirements to leveraging a firm's connection to Microsoft at different levels and understanding Microsoft's strategy and perspective, PARTNERING WITH MICROSOFT is a 'must' for any executive who wants to form educated business relationships with Microsoft or its entities.

Super Searchers Go to School
Joyce Kasman Valenza & Reva Basch
Information Today Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750
0910965706 $24.95 1-800-300-9868

A dozen K-12 educators and educator-librarians share their strategies for helping students become more effective information users in SUPER SEARCHERS GO TO SCHOOL: SHARING ONLINE STRATEGIES WITH K-12 STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND LIBRARIANS, which is written by Joyce Kasman Valenza and edited by Reva Basch. Valenza's conversations with some of the best computer site searchers contributes to chapters which discuss how young searchers learn computer systems and search techniques. Search tools, power tips and more are revealed in the process.

Stealing The Network: How To Own An Identity
Ryan Russell,, editors
Syngress Publishing
800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
1597490067 $39.95

The prior 'Stealing the Network' titles have become popular classics in the hacker communities because of their depictions of criminal hacking strategies - but what happens when the hacker must evade detection by creating new identities? Read all about it in the latest 'Stealing the Network' guide HOW TO OWN AN IDENTITY: YOU ARE WHO THE COMPUTER SAYS YOU ARE. Here the hacker crew finds themselves fleeing authority and must learn how to survive by vanishing online.

101 Ways to Boost Your Web Traffic
Thomas Wong
PO Box 950, Union City, CA 94587
0963834975 $25.95

Many web site creators and owners think it's enough to just put a site on the web - but a web site is passive until it's actively marketed, which Thomas Wong tells of in 101 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR WEB TRAFFIC: INTERNET MARKETING MADE EASIER, now in its 3rd edition. From understanding how web promotion works to targeting audiences, getting others to buy ideas and services, and taking good care of site users, technology analyst and consultant Thomas Wong, MS, provides all the insights needed.

Signposts in Cyberspace
Committee on Internet Navigation
National Academies Press
500 - 5th St. NW, Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055
0309096405 $51.00

The domain name system was developed in the 1980s to help associate alphanumeric names with the number addresses which the Internet uses as pointers to locations, making it easier for users to memorize and navigate. SIGNPOSTS IN CYBERSPACE: THE DOMAIN NAME SYSTEM AND INTERNET NAVIGATION surveys the institutional, government and social impact of internet navigation choices and systems, with chapters compiling technical reports of zones, symbols, domain name rules, and more. The result is a scholarly, college-level technical discussion of the issues, history and future of domain names and Net navigation systems.

Nail The Resume!
Ron & Caryl Krannich
Impact Publications
9103-N Manassas Drive, Manassas Park VA 20111-5211
1570232334 $17.95 1-703-361-7300

Most resume books are examples of model resumes which users can utilize as boilerplates, substituting their own information: not so NAIL THE RESUME! GREAT TIPS FOR CREATING DYNAMITE RESUMES. This is a tutorial on writing, evaluating and distributing these different types of resumes, providing examples but encouraging readers to produce their own. Through such a process a resume may be tailored to career plans - and NAIL THE RESUME gets the job done by providing the tools to create not the carbon copy resume, but something entirely unique - and even more effective.

Climate Crash
John D. Cox
Joseph Henry Press
c/o National Academies Press
500 - 5th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001
0309093120 $27.95 1-888-624-7654

Despite political arguments back and forth, one scientific fact remains on recent climate research: the Earth has undergone abrupt climate changes many times in the past and is likely to do so in the future. New clues in astronomy, geology, and more are helping scientists chart the history of storms and seasonal weather changes, with new evidence suggesting that quick climate change is as much a part of Earth's history as slow changes. Scientists are revising their notions of how the climate behaves - and CLIMATE CRASH: ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR OUR FUTURE reveals this new way of thinking.

PI Press
1185 Avenue of Americas, 26th Floor, New York NY, 10036

Number have become a science, and much has already been written about him - but Tobias Dantzig 's NUMBER; THE LANGUAGE OF SCIENCE (0131856278 $23.95) was a major masterpiece classic on the topic and is back in print under PI Press's 'Masterpiece Science' series which returns science writing classics to modern eyes. Dantzig's history tells how numbers evolved over time, including discussions of their properties and puzzles associated with numbers. Let's hope this excellent classic survey doesn't readily go out of print again! Mark Norell's UNEARTING THE DRAGON: THE GREAT FEATHERED DINOSAUR DISCOVERY (0131862669, $30.00) is the first book to chart the latest change in our ideas about dinosaurs, based on new fossil discoveries in China made by author Mark Norell himself. Both a personal account of his adventures and discoveries in China and a survey of dinosaur theory which now seems to link them to birds, UNEARTHING THE DRAGON provides both a personal story of investigation in a very different culture, and a scientific expose backed by photos and drawings by Mick Ellison.

The Science of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Michael Hanlon
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1403945772 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

What does the end of the universe look like, and could time travel really change history as we know it? These and other questions of science brought on by the new movie version of Douglas Adams' classic novel HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY receive intriguing scientific coverage here in THE SCIENCE OF THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Once you've read the novel or viewed the movie, turn here for the scientific answers and foundations to science fiction concepts: it's a fascinating survey.

Pandora's Keepers
Brian Vandemark
Back Bay Books/Little, Brown
1271 Avenue of Americas, NY NY 10020
0316160512 $16.95 1-800-759-0190

Nine men believed in science, saw the potentials of atomic energy, and agreed to embark on a clandestine avenue of research during World War II which was to change the nature of not just the war, but science and ethics as well. PANDORA'S KEEPERS: NINE MEN AND THE ATOMIC BOMB provides a new look at these nine key researchers, examining how they dealt with the legacy of their creation, and how they handled the moral implications. A different expose of how the bomb affected the nine scientists charged with creating it.

Dictionary of Mathematics, 4th Edn
John Daintith & Richard Rennie
Facts on File
132 West 31st Street, New York NY 10001
0816056528 $17.95 1-800-322-8755

Why update a popular math dictionary? To keep current more than 2,000 cross-referenced entries which explain some of the most frequently used terms in math, and to add more than 300 new entries to reflect changes in the six years since the last edition's appearance. Included in the latest: pronunciation keys, a usage guide, explanations of the entries, and topics ranging from calculus of variations to palindromes. Add line drawings and an extensive bibliography and you have a math dictionary certain to receive repeat attention.

Environmental Science Demystified
Linda Williams
2 Penn Plaza, NY, NY 10121-2298
0071453199 $19.95 1-877-833-5524

You don't have to be a college-level student to understand the foundations of environmental science: not with ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE DEMYSTIFIED: A SELF-TEACHING GUIDE in hand, with its real-world examples, eye-catching and interesting format, and blend of science news and insights on trends and new developments in the field. Plenty of diagrams and charts add illustrative examples, there are tests for self-knowledge and understanding, and topics organized by theme - oceans and fisheries, weathering and erosion, global warming - make it easy to partake of an orderly progression of information.

Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Avenue, #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590581199 $24.95 1-800-421-3976

Faye Longchamp has long dreamed of becoming an archaeologist and is asked to run a project when she's barely seasoned. Her assignment seems simple - to uncover the origins of a mysterious ethnic group of people - but a house on fire is only the first of a mysterious stream of accidents and dangers which threaten her project. Can her archaeology skills help her solve two deaths and save her own life?

Perseverance Press
c/o John Daniel & Company
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519

Solid mystery and intrigue mark Perseverance Press's titles and two new releases are no exception. Taffy Cannon's PARADISE LOST (1880284804, $13.95) tells of a strange ransom request for park funding which accompanies an actress' kidnapping. While two victims form unusual bonds with each other and their captors, the rest of the world tries to uncover the identity of their kidnappers before it's too late. Good police intrigue and high drama. Jeanne M. Dams' CRIMSON SNOW (1880284790, $13.95) presents a Hilda Johansson mystery revolving around a schoolteacher's murder. Hilda is reluctant to look into the murder of her brother's six-grade teacher - she's living a demanding life as a housemaid at an Indiana mansion and doesn't need more work - but the involvement of a close friend draws her into an investigation which leads her directly into a dangerous scandal. Both are excellent reads.

Suzanne Martin, PT, DPT
DK Publishing
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0756609526 $15.00

Stretching is a stress-free way of exercising and can help produce fitness in as little as three weeks - yet there are many kinds of stretches geared for different purposes, from sports and athletics to stretches for long drives, computer use, and more. Competing guides often focus on stretches for one purpose: STRETCHING covers them all, including stretches easily incorporated into a busy daily routine. Add a wealth of color photos on every page and you have a real winner.

Healing Lyme
Stephen Harrod Buhner
Raven Press
Chelsea Green, dist
595 Flint Road, Randolph, VT 05060
0970869630 $19.95 1-800-639-4099

Here's the first comprehensive book on the herbal treatment and healing of lyme disease, which affects 200,000 new sufferers each year producing symptoms from mild lethargy to incapacitation. Author Stephen Buhner is both a herbalist and a psychotherapist: HEALING LYME: NATURAL HEALING AND PREVENTION OF LYME BORRELIOSIS AND ITS COINFECTIONS examines the leading scientific research, common tests and treatments, and how potent herbal medicines and supplements can help.

Alpha Books
800 E. 96th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240

There's lots of talk about fibromyalgia these days and Lynne Matallana works with Laurence Bradley PHD, Stuart Silverman MD and Muhammad Yunus, MD to present a clear survey of the disease in her COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO FIBROMYALGIA (1592573673, $18.95). Matallana herself was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1955: in 1987 she founded an association and in 2001 published the first consumer magazine to focus on it. From a symptom inventory and checklist and overlapping condition chart to advise on working with health care providers during diagnosis and treatment, and changing lifestyle, this provides the latest facts and a self-help emphasis which will empower sufferers. Jorj Morgan and Jody Whipple, RD's COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO GOOD FAT, GOOD CARB MEALS (1592573592, $18.95) packs in menu plans, advise on how and what to eat to lose weight without giving up fats or carbs totally, and comes packed with recipes such as Beef and Bean Chili and Lobster Scampi with Tomatoes and Spinach which come loaded with nutrition and include prep times, serving nutrition info, and 'good news' tips for quick preparation. These "Idiot's Guides" are some of the smartest "how to" reading anyone could ask for.

Undressing Infidelity
Diane Shader Smith
Adams Media
57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 02322
159337481X $14.95 1-800-872-5627

Why do married women, from Midwestern mothers to New York executives - cheat on their husbands? Diane Shader Smith interviewed married women from all walks of life to find out why and how infidelity happened: UNDRESSING INFIDELITY: WHY MORE WIVES ARE UNFAITHFUL gathers these interviews, reveals the real answers about what tempts women to cheat and how they handle their marriages when they do, and what the short- and long-term effects of infidelity are. An eye-opening account.

Haworth Press
10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904

Two excellent alternate health guides are fine reference recommendations. Joseph Hou PhD and Youyu Jin, MD's THE HEALING POWER OF CHINESE HERBS AND MEDICINAL RECIPES (0789022028, $69.95) packs in the reference materials in a weighty-looking guide which is actually easily followed. From the history and foundations of Chinese herbal medical practices to the therapeutic properties and use of 138 medicinal herbs and 101 herbal recipes for them, THE HEALING POWER OF CHINESE HERBS AND MEDICINAL RECIPES is packed with material - even including a bibliography, glossary and contact information for herbal dealers and Oriental medicine schools. A 'must' for any serious herbal reference collection. Zohara Yaniv, PhD and Uriel Bachrach, PhD, edit HANDBOOK OF MEDICINAL PLANTS (1560229950, $59.95), a fine reference covering the latest developments in botanical medicine's new technologies and applications in modern medicine. Experts from around the world provide recent research and knowledge on Chinese herbal medicine and the use of medicinal plants in prevention and therapies. From challenges to medicinal plant research to new trends in the industry and new cultivation developments, HANDBOOK OF MEDICINAL PLANTS is packed with important reference material.

Alzheimer's Activities
B.J. FitzRay
Rayve Productions
PO Box 726, Windsor, CA 95492
1877810800 $23.95

While most patients with Alzheimer's disease benefit from activities, it's difficult to identify appropriate activities - especially given the many degrees of Alzheimer's effects. Enter ALZHEIMER'S ACTIVITIES: HUNDREDS OF ACTIVITIES FOR MEN AND WOMEN WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE AND RELATED DISORDERS V. 1, which comes packed with creative idea suggestions by a hospital patient representative and risk manager whose experiences with her own father prompted her research. Nearly 300 pages are packed with ideas for holidays, enjoyable family activities, and miscellaneous fun. Best of all - most of the activities are truly fun and not just 'busy work'.

Taylor Trade Publishing
4501 Forbes Blvd. #200, Lanham MD 20706

Plenty of ADD books tell how to recognize the signs of attention deficit disorder and how to consider treatment options; but few focus on turning ADD characteristics into success as does Dr. Lynn Weiss in A.D.D. ON THE JOB: MAKING YOU'RE A.D.D. WORK FOR YOU (0878339175, $13.95) and A.D.D. AND SUCCESS (0878339949, $12.95); both of which tell how to take common ADD problems and turn them into formulas for success. Interviews reveal these shared characteristics, tell personal histories, and bring success stories to print, providing a satisfying and diverse set of success stories which tell of strategies, typical hurdles, and how to overcome them. Dr. Weiss maintains, in both titles, that those with A.D.D. are creative, sensitive, and can use their 'disorder' to achieve success: these are some of the few ADD books on the market to tell how.

Addicus Books
PO Box 45327, Omaha, NE 68145

With breast cancer awareness month upon us, it's important to note some of the best publications on the topic, and Rosalind Benedet, R.N.'s AFTER MASECTOMY: HEALING PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY (1886039615, $14.95) and Rosalind Benedet with Mark C. Rounsaville MD's UNDERSTANDING LUMPECTOMY: A TREATMENT GUIDE FOR BREAST CANCER (1886039623, $14.95) remain one of the best books on their topics on the market today. Plenty of books discuss lumpectomy as an option in a larger book on cancer or breast cancer; so it's good to have a guide which just focuses on lumpectomy options, from understanding the procedure and its follow-up treatments to other options. Nutrition, exercises, and more are all discussed within the lumpectomy choices. AFTER MASTECTOMY covers everything from follow-up therapies and reconstruction options to clothing, preventing common side-effects, healing and exercises.

Trials and Tribulations
Donald C. Austin, MD
701 Smithfield Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3906
0805965769 $45.00

Donald Austin, MD, was a respected neurosurgeon regarded as an expert in his field - thus he was called upon to give testimony in many malpractice lawsuits. When he decided to testify for plaintiffs also, his colleagues and medical societies carried out a vendetta campaign to ruin his professional career - and succeeded. TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS recounts this campaign and its influence.

Peril at End House
Agatha Christie
Audio Editions/Audio Partners
Auburn, CA 95604
1572704632 $27.95

Hugh Fraser's excellent narrative style is used time after time to present a satisfying uniformity to the readings of Agatha Christie's classic Hercule Poirot mysteries, and the latest PERIL AT END HOUSE is no exceptional, pairing his winning style with the story of a Cornish vacation which introduces him to a girl who has almost been murdered. Poirot's involvement in protecting her leads to some complications which make for a gripping mystery.

All Things Austen
Kirstin Olsen
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 0688105007
0313330328 $149.95 1-800-225-5800

Any college-level student studying Jane Austin's fiction will find ALL THINGS AUSTEN: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AUSTEN'S WORLD an essential reference, packing in over 150 entries about the objects mentioned in her novels, the social mores of her times, and the history of her era. Divided into two volumes for quicker reference and handling, these are far more than just brief listings: from clothing to dance and its importance in social functions and courtship, ALL THINGS AUSTEN is packed with period references. A fabulously detailed specialty reference.

The Eugenics Movement
Ruth Clifford Engs
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 0688105007
0313327912 $75.00 1-800-225-5800

Eugenics is the theory of selective breeding to improve human populations - it was one of the most controversial movements of the early 20th century and has been tied to racist believes and desires to limit both immigration and procreation between races. THE EUGENICS MOVEMENT: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA reviews almost 200 years of history and packs in reference entries on different eugenics movement theories, history, and laws around the world. An intriguing health and social issues title which college-level collections won't want to miss.

Companion to American Children's Picture Books
Connie Ann Kirk
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313322872 $75.00 1-800-225-5800

The children's picture book has become an art form in and of itself, attracting not just kids but collectors and specialty library collections. Connie Kirk's COMPANION TO AMERICAN CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS is an invaluable reference to any who would collect or learn about these shorter books for kids, as well as picture books intended for young adults and older kids. Over 400 entries on authors, illustrators, picture book awards, and printing technology include basic publication details, summaries, and facts. Anecdotes, reviews of media used (watercolor, etchings, etc.), and subjects make it easy to locate specifics on different types of picture book offerings.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 0688105007

Two very different references will find a place on not only college-level library shelves, but many a public library reference section. Vincent Burns and Kate Dempsey Peterson's TERRORISM: A DOCUMENTARY AND REFERENCE GUIDE (0313332134, $75.00) presents both a history of modern terrorism and a survey of its roots, using speeches, policy statements, letters, and even terrorists' Web postings to consider the social, legal and historical aspects of terrorist activity around the world. Emphasis is on events leading up to 9/11 and its aftermath, with source material documents emerging from formerly classified archives or those rarely seen in English. An in-depth, revealing guide. Howard J. Langer's THE VIETNAM WAR: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF QUOTATIONS (0313321434, $85.00) will find a home in any college-level collection strong in Vietnam War references. This encyclopedia presents the story of the war through the words of many who observed or took place in the controversy, beginning with a focus on Vietnamese history then events from France's initial war to U.S. involvement. Chapters divided chronologically by different eras of the war make it easy to absorb source material and quotes.

Firefly Books Ltd.
155 East 34th Street, #5B, New York, NY 10016

Susan Quilliam's BODY LANGUAGE: LEARN TO READ AND USE THE BODY'S SECRET SIGNALS (1552979830, $19.95) shows both professionals and consumers how to use body language to gain both professional and social success. Key gestures and their meanings are broken down in a book which not only demonstrates positive gestures, but potentially confusing or conflicting body language messages. From romantic moves to workplace introductions, BODY LANGUAGE uses excellent visuals to reinforce written advice. Colin Tennant's 21 DAYS TO TRAIN YOUR DOG (1554070120, $29.95) uses step-by-step photo examples to create a 21-day easy program the entire family can follow. From puppy training basics to motivating a dog to obey, pet psychology blends with easy diagrams demonstrating exercises and ideas.

Robert Rose/Firefly Books, dist.
155 East 34th Street, #5B, New York NY 10016

Two outstanding new guides stand out from the crowd with something different to offer. Judith Finlayson's 125 BEST ROTISSERIE OVEN RECIPES (0778801101, $18.95) requires a rotisserie to use, but owners of such will delight in having a cookbook devoted to using it. This isn't just a basic user's guide: it covers everything form the simplest to the gourmet rotisserie dish presenting such recipes as Salmon in Black Bean Sauce and Salt-Rubbed Pork Roast with Almond Cherry Sauce. Colleen Bartley's AMERICA'S BEST COOKBOOK FOR KIDS WITH DIABETES (0778801160, $18.95) was developed to help parents of kids with diabetes provide kid-friendly food the whole family can enjoy. Over a hundred recipes follow the standards of a supervised diabetic meal without specializing: from chili burgers and hot dog kabobs to Oven French Fries, here are dishes kids and parents alike will relish! No photos in these two, but the easy recipes don't need them.

Facial Expressions
Mark Simon
Watson Guptill
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0823016714 $19.95 1-800-451-1741

Artists needing a powerful visual reference to facial expressions will find FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: A VISUAL REFERENCE FOR ARTISTS to be the perfect resource, whether you're working on comics or animation or fine art. Fifty male and female models represent not only different expressions, but different ages and ethnicities. A range of moods are presented from different angles, paired with art inspired from the photos, as examples. It's actually this pairing which completes the value of FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, illustrating in detail how reality translates to the art world.

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

If you're a musician interested in percussion, look no further than Rocky Maffitt's lovely RHYTHM & BEAUTY: THE ART OF PERCUSSION (0823079775 $19.95). Chris Brown's full-page, vivid color photos display close-ups of different types of percussion instruments. The sounds, shapes and background of over fifty percussion instruments around the world are surveyed in a lovely pairing of image and text. Maffitt is himself a percussionist, composer and educator who loves rhythm and has studied with drummers from Africa and Latin America: his knowledge and background lends to an unprecedented survey. Daylle Deanna Schwartz's I DON'T NEED A RECORD DEAL! YOUR SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE INDIE MUSIC REVOLUTION (0823079481, $19.95) comes from a music industry consultant and personal growth counselor who tackles a range of music topics for indie artists, from resources and creating an Indie buzz on and off-line to independent street marketing, licensing, and marketing talents. Interviews with over 150 who have connections in the music business, from major label artists who have gone independent to successful indie artists and music industry pros, make for chapters covering a range of practical topics. A 'must' for musicians who would stay independent - and still survive.

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

Ever wonder how professional photographers achieve such dramatic results from portrait work? Lighting has a lot to do with it, and Jack Neubart's STUDIO LIGHTING SOLUTIONS: EXPERT PROFESSIONAL TECHNIQUES FOR ARTISTIC AND COMMERCIAL SUCCESS (0817459073, 29.95) holds many of the keys to understanding just how pros achieve fine lighting. It's more than another coverage of techniques: STUDIO LIGHTING SOLUTIONS tackles common challenges and shows how photographers may creatively overcome issues and use lighting to best advantage. Jack Neubart's been a professional photographer for over 25 years, so STUDIO LIGHTING SOLUTIONS comes packed not just with his color photo examples of techniques, but discussions of achieving special effects - sometimes simply by juxtaposing colors or objects. Tim Daly's THE DIGITAL COLOR PRINTING HANDBOOK: A PHOTOGRAPHER'S GUIDE TO CREATIVE COLOR MANAGEMENT AND PRINTING TECHNIQUES (0817471553, $24.95) tells how to get better results from a digital image and the software and printer. New color management tools enable photographers to achieve more from both hardware and software: Tim Daly provides techniques which discuss the most practical applications of solutions to common problems, surveying all aspects of image capture from camera shot to printer.

Simple Truths
Kent Nerburn
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
1577315154 $16.00 1-800-972-6657

There's a lot of possibilities in life, most of which are driven by personal philosophy on beliefs: SIMPLE TRUTHS: CLEAR AND SIMPLE GUIDANCE ON THE BIG ISSUES IN LIFE surveys these beliefs with an eye to considering and exposing underlying beliefs surrounding big issues, from work and parenthood ideals to responding to tragedy and suffering. From responsibility to deriving meaning from activity, SIMPLE TRUTHS offers many penetrating perceptions about life's underlying routines.

Body of Health
Francesca McCartney, Ph.D.
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
1577314883 $15.95 1-800-972-6657

The new science of 'intuition medicine' links body and mind, showing readers how to access intuitive intelligence and use self-assessment exercises on the search for wholeness. From developing psychic abilities to using chakras and auras as diagnosis and health tools, new age health readers will find BODY OF HEALTH: THE NEW SCIENCE OF INTUITION MEDICINE FOR ENERGY AND BALANCE holds plenty of food for thought.

20 Something 20 Everything
Christine Hassler
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
157731476X $14.95 1-800-972-6657

Thinking you haven't done enough in life? Wondering what's next or why life seems boring or meaningless? Turn to Christine Hassler's 20 SOMETHING 20 EVERYTHING: A QUARTER-LIFE WOMAN'S GUIDE TO BALANCE AND DIRECTION for an assessment program on how to determine personal strengths, weaknesses, and how to identify life goals. Chapters blend case history examples of women in flux with real-life techniques for improving everything from relationship quality to life objectives.

Projected Fears
Kendall R. Phillips
88 Post Rd. West, Westport, CT 06881
0285093536 $39.95

Fans of horror and horror movies who wish an intellectual examination of links between horror films and American culture will find professor Kendall R. Phillips' PROJECTED FEARS: HORROR FILMS AND AMERICAN CULTURE to be most intriguing. Movie audiences are drawn to the horrific: ten of the most popular and influential horror films of all time are given analysis in an analysis which contrasts production history and results with audience response patterns.

On the High Wire
Robert W. Gunn & Betsy Raskin Gullickson
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0275984877 $34.95

There are plenty of business books on the market covering how to get promoted - but what happens when you get the coveted position? Can you pull off the new job's requirements? Enter ON THE HIGH WIRE: HOW TO SURVIVE BEING PROMOTED: a manual for achievers who have reached their goal and need to transition to new responsibilities and challenges. The authors have decades of management leadership and executive coaching on their sides, and use their experience to outline common pitfalls and solutions managers face in their new position. From how to motivate people to identifying new resources and strategies, ON THE HIGH WIRE covers it all.

Scrapbooking for Profit
Rebecca Pittman
Allworth Press
10 E. 23rd St. #510, New York NY 10010
1581154062 $19.95 1-800-491-2808

Scrapbooking has evolved from a hobby to, here, a business, becoming a $3 billion-a-year industry and inviting craftspeople to turn their scrapbooking passions into a career. This is the first book to reveal how to make money in the scrapbook market, covering a range of opportunities from starting a home-based business to designing scrapbooking products or teaching classes. Take advantage of the latest marketplace trends and the tips specific to organizing a scrapbooking business, including running a retail Internet site, through SCRAPBOOKING FOR PROFIT: CASHING IN ON RETAIL, HOME-BASED AND INTERNET OPPORTUNITIES, which comes from one who has worked in the crafts field most of her life.

1601 Broadway, New York NY 10019

What makes a speech memorable and lasting, versus one which is quickly forgotten when the event or presentation is over? If you are a presenter who wants your speech to be remembered long after it's over, take advice from Tony Carlson 's THE HOW OF WOW: A GUIDE TO GIVING A SPEECH THAT WILL POSITIVELY BLOW 'EM AWAY (0814472516 $14.95). Author Tony Carlson has thirty years of experience as a communications executive and educator: his background and experience lend to a tested proven method (one reader's given 3,000 speeches in 24 countries using the advice herein!) Jack Uldrich's SOLDIER STATESMAN PEACEMAKER: LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM GEORGE C. MARSHALL (0814408575, $24.95) is recommended for a wide and varied audience, from business leaders and management personnel to politicians and civil leaders alike. The importance of George Marshall to modern America often goes unrecognized: not so in SOLDIER STATESMAN PEACEMAKER, which reviews not just his accomplishments and career, but how he achieved his goals. Basic principles of management and integrity integrate with biography to make for an important, multi-faceted coverage.

Greenery Press
4200 Park Blvd., PMB 240, Oakland, CA 94602

Two intriguing new titles will reach alternative library collections with contemporary perspectives on sex and dating. Luna Grey's KINKY GIRL'S GUIDE TO DATING (1890159603, $16.95) departs from the usual mainstream dating rules to address the needs and approaches of women who date in the realms of dominance, fetish and kink. There's a whole different set of rules for such dating: rules which avoid common pitfalls, address safety concerns, and help the discriminating dater find just the right kind of date. Learn how, here. Jay Wiseman's EROTIC BONDAGE HANDBOOK (1890159131, $16.95) provides sensible advise on how to tie up or be tied during a sexual encounter. From washable rope and knots to racier sexual discussions, Wiseman's frank survey will appeal to those on the kinky side of sexual habits, and offers many practical considerations.

Concealed Handgun Manual
Chris Bird
Privateer Publications
519 Cleveland Street, #205, Clearwater, FL 33755
0965678415 $21.95

The updated fourth edition of THE CONCEALED HANDGUN MANUAL: HOW TO CHOOSE, CARRY, AND SHOT A GUN IN SELF DEFENSE comes from an author convinced that gun-owners should be more educated on how to own, carry and use a handgun. Prospective gun owners receive a manual on how to carry a gun for personal protection, from gunfighting tactics covering when and how to shoot to how to avoid trouble, choose an appropriate handgun, and more. From how to carry a handgun to shooting and understanding state laws, THE CONCEALED HANDGUN MANUAL should be sold with every gun.

Acquainted With the Night
Christopher Dewdney
175 - 5th Avenue, #300, NY, NY 10010
1582343969 $24.95

Poets have long written of the romance of the night world, so what better person to capture its romance and natural history than poet Christopher Dewdney, whose ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT: EXCURSIONS THROUGH THE WORLD AFTER DARK probes the scientific and literary world of 6pm to 6am. From the sensations of an 'ideal' night to global nighttime customs and nature, ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT holds both human and animal celebrations, habits, and reflections.

Ian L. Allen
Midland Counties Pubns.
4 Watling Drive, Hinckley,. Lecis. LE10 3EY, YK

Three wonderful, diverse transportation titles will appeal to a wide audience of car and rail fans, and are strongly recommended picks. Peter Swinger's MOTOR RACING CIRCUITS IN ENGLAND THEN AND NOW (0711031045, L15.99) provides a fine pairing of vintage photos and memorabilia and historical discussion of motor racing circuits in England. Most notable is the equal blend of photos to written word, making this as much a history as a photo tribute. Alan C. Butcher's RAILWAYS RESTORED 2005 (0711030537, L13.99) appears in its 26th edition to present a completely revised guide complete with timetable supplement to Britain's restored railways. Special events, memberships, museum notes, web sites, phones: everything's there to plan your trip. Hugh Longworth's BRITISH RAILWAY STEAM LOCOMOTIVES 1948-1968(0860935930, L35.00) covers the production of British rail steam locomotives from 1948-58, representing years of personal research by author/enthusiast Hugh Longworth. Don't expect coffee-table casual here: extensive technical data includes charts with names, date of construction modifications, and more, juxtaposing tables and statistics with vintage illustrations of many of the classic trains. A recommended pick for the avid enthusiast.

Sourcebooks Inc.
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410

Two excellent wedding planners by wedding expert Sharon Naylor offer industry secrets and tips for making the most of the event. 1000 BEST WEDDING BARGAINS: INSIDER SECRETS FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS (1402202989, $12.95) packs in tips on everything from tricks to cut a food bill to how to save on designer wedding gowns - and we're talking big savings here, not just a few dollars. Everything from photos to food and receptions are covered, with tips ranging from how to decorate on a budget to locating cost-saving alternatives. THE BRIDESMAID BOOK (140220356X, $10.95) provides bridesmaids with details on how to spend time, money, and proper etiquette attention to a wedding. From handling being a long-distance bridesmaid and influencing dress choice and costs to ceremony etiquette for bride and groom and rehearsal alike, THE BRIDESMAID HANDBOOK is particularly valuable because many will only be a bridemaid only once.

Packard Motor Car Company
Evan P. Ide
420 Wando Park Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
0738512087 $19.99

Author Evan Ide is curator of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and members of other museum societies: as an active automotive historian, he's the perfect author for Packard Motor Car Company, a celebration of the Packard which packs in vintage black and white photos to accompany an overview of the Packard company's importance. Founded in 1899, Packard had a relatively short history until 1957 - it struggled during the 1930s and never recovered - but it produced some of the country's finest cars, and Packard Motor Car Company is the place to view them in all their glory. A 'must' for auto history buffs.

Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471

Robert Heinlein's EXPANDED UNIVERSE (0743499158, $7.99) covers a forty-year span and pairs some of his best short stories with his own comments and memoirs. This satisfying blend of fiction and nonfiction offers far more insights into Heinlein's work than fiction or memoir alone, and will attract any Heinlein fan who hunters for more of his works. Spider Robinson's NIGHT OF POWER (0743499174, $6.99) is also a winner from a prolific genre writer: set in a future New York City threatened by racial tensions, it tells of black Americans who finally have the power to take what is theirs in a night of power which will change the face of America and the lives of one interracial couple in particular. John Ringo and Linda Evans's ROAD TO DAMASCUS (0743499166, $7.99) tells of one SOL-0045, a surplus loan item who finds himself caught in a trap between duty and ethics in a mission which leads him to a dangerous civil war and a determined little boy. Taken from a story fragment by Keith Laumer, this fast-paced story is a thriller. David Weber and Steve white's THE STARS AT WAR II (0743499123, $27.00) presents space opera at its finest: the war isn't going well, the aliens are winning, and only the deadly Shiva Option might save humanity in the universe. Two novels are presented under one cover here: the first complete, uncut publication of INSURRECTION as well as SHIVA OPTION: together the saga of war and its aftermath provide excellent space opera and political science fiction. Dave Freer's A MANKIND WITCH (0743499131, $25.00) blends sword and sorcery with fantasy as it tells of one Manfred, a prince, who must brave a rugged winter world to recover a relic which is, impossibly, missing. If it's truly lost, a new Viking will be born which will destroy the Empire. David Weber's WIND RIDER'S OATH (1416508953, $8.95) tells of one Bahzell, son of the Horse Stealer's ill-favored ruler and an ambassador and champion who faces plots, wizards, and injustices as he struggles to stay alive. Swift action marks a different kind of hroic fantasy. Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis' 1634: THE GALILEO AFFAIR (0743499190, $7.99) presents a fine alternate history in which the Thirty Years War ravages 17th century Europe while a new force, the United States of Europe, is building -led by a 20th century set of time travelers who have arrived in the past by accident. A gripping tale of past-meets-future. Tom Kratman's A STATE OF DISOBEDIENCE (0743499204, $7.99) is also an excellent story set in the Second American Revolution and telling of a near-future world where America is divided by a president vying for dictatorial power and a mind-mannered governor who works against him. Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill edit BEDLAM'S EDGE (1416508937, $26.00), presenting a new collection of urban fantasy stories by such notables as Diana Paxon, Eric Flint, and even two new ones by Lackey herself, and one by Rosemary Edghill. All are set in the big city; all inject fantasy, mythology, and many times elements of the supernatural into their diverse plots. Michael Z. Williamson's THE WEAPON (1416508945, $25.00) presents Kenneth Chinran, who joined the military and was sent to infiltrate a fascistic planet - Earth - at the peak of his career. He lives on Earth undercover for years, even marrying and having a child - so when Earth forces attack his home system and force him from hiding, he questions not only his own roots but his newfound home in a fast-paced, different saga. John Ringo and Tom Kratman's WATCH ON THE RHINE (0743499182, $25.00) tells of an alien horde of invaders who have conquered all star systems and are advancing on Earth. All soldiers are called to the forefront and all forces may be used to survive - even rejuvenation. This adds a new chapter in the Posleen War series, telling of the days after the initial Posleen attack before the primary invasion, where Germany faces a dangerous decision…All are excellent fantasy and sci fi reads.

PO Box 809, Framingham, MA 01701

Two outstanding new reads are highly recommended picks. Robert Sheckley's THE MASQUE OF MANANA (1886778604, $29.00) holds over forty works of selected short fiction by the award-winning Sheckley, including a Nebula winner, a Retro-Hugo nominee, and numerous others. Fans of hard science and strong characterization will find Sheckley a master at both; while prior fans will discover many gems packed under one cover that were scattered previously. Jane Yolen's ONCE UPON A TIME (SHE SAID) (1886778612, $26.00) gathers not just stories but poems and articles by Yolen - most about or consisting of fairy tales. Whether it was originally written for kids or adults, each story holds a compelling, fresh theme which fans of fantasy will relish.

Financial Security & Personal Wealth
Lewis D. Solomon
Transaction Books
35 Berrue Circle, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8042
0765802910 $49.95 1-888-999-6778

As this country's main population ages, new challenges are presenting themselves to policy-makers and society alike affecting every aspect of financial life, from retirement income and money management to the social security system, company pension plans, and more. The politics of social security, presidential influences, and new realities are the focus of "Financial Security & Personal Wealth", which blends a history of the social security system with insights on social policy and public finance. A scholarly, reflective study recommended for college-level students of finance and social issues.

Cracking The Millionaire Code
Mark Victor Hansen & Robert Allen
Harmony Books
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
1400082943 $23.00 1-800-726-0600

Are you ready to become a millionaire? While some folks struggle financially no matter how much or how little they make, others seem to enjoy prosperity - and with the help of "Cracking The Millionaire Code: Your Key To Enlightened Wealth", you can, too. Chapters provide keys for unlocking the principles in leading a financially enlightened life, providing four 'wealth codes' and stories of those who have used them for success.

Live Better South Of The Border In Mexico
Mexico Mike Nelson
Fulcrum Publishing
16100 Table Mountain Parkway, #300, Golden CO 80403
1555915469 $17.95 1-800-992-2908

If you've been to Mexico numerous times and are beginning to dream of a wealthier lifestyle south of the border, then this newly updated and expanded fourth edition of "Live Better South Of The Border In Mexico: A Practical Guide For Living And Working", is for you. It's been the most authoritative guide on the market for nearly a decade, using both humor and practical considerations to help readers determine if a Mexico lifestyle is for you. Pros and cons of different towns, areas, and Mexican habits are reviewed in chapters covering everything from services to prices and costs.

Avalon Travel
1400 - 65th Street, #250, Emeryville, CA 94608

Four excellent new travel guides provide destination-oriented readers with new insights and information. Andrew Hempstead's MOON HANDBOOKS: CANADIAN ROCKIES (1566916992, $17.95) appears in its fourth updated edition and includes Banff and Jasper National Parks as it packs in maps, small black and white photos, and travel details throughout the Canadian Rockies. From history to wildlife, outdoors activities and accommodations and shopping, CANADIAN ROCKIES is a 'must' for planning any trip to the region. Wayne Bernhardson's MOON HANDBOOKS: ARGENTINA (1566915090, $19.95) appears in its first edition to provide an important exploration of Argentina's wonders. From Buenos Aires to Patagonia, Argentina's many different regions receive in-depth coverage, maps, black and white photos, and a satisfying blend of outdoor versus shopping info. Choose Gary McKechnie's GREAT AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE TOURS (1566914485, $19.95) if you're an independent-minded motorcycle rider who wants to experience the best motorcycle routes in the country. In this update of his best-seller guide, McKechnie covers not just major trips, but side trips, what equipment to bring, and motorcycle clubs and web sites. Simply invaluable for the motorcycle traveler. Asia society's lovely ASIA IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAT AREA: A CULTURAL TRAVEL GUIDE (1566917433, $17.95) uses local writers to gain details on Asian history and local cultural offerings. From restaurants and art to religion, alternative medicine and even nightlife, all things Asian are exposed.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven
Gerry Murak
WAIH Publishing
PO Box 502, Getzville, NY 14068
ISBN: 0975905716, $17.95 183 p.

Unfortunately this is another excellent book that many people will pass over without even opening the cover because of the title. After reading the book I found it very enjoyable but not at all what I had expected. I had expected it to be a New Age book about various fatherly spirits. A quick check with others to see what they thought the book would be about based solely on the title and everyone came up with similar comments. Noone was even close. Notwithstanding the poor title (which does make sense once you read the book), if you miss it you will miss an excellent read. Author Gerry Murak has put together the stories of several people who share specific incidents in their lives where their father taught them an important life skills lesson. The stories provide insight into some of the best examples of excellent fathering and nurturing that I have ever read. If you've had a great father in your life you will find stories here to remind you of him. If you didn't then here is your chance to learn what makes a good father and how good a father you can be. Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven is highly recommended and an excellent gift for a new father or anyone missing theirs.

After the New Testament
Bart D. Ehrman
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, Video, DVD, Audio Tape
Lectures: 24

To better understand the church of today it is very insightful to understand where it came from, how it has changed over the years, how cultural and other influences affected it, the various forms of the early church, and their variations in belief and structure. To this purpose nothing is better than reading the writings of the early church fathers. These lectures examine several of these early writings and how the church worked through various issues. One of the more interesting observations I had of these lectures is how so many of the various issues of the early church are still around today but only in a slightly different form. From the letter of 1 Clement dealing with an uprising in the church at Corinth to Ignatius and others dealing with false teachers and doctrines, to problems when a leader is involved in an unethical act, and apocalyptic writings like The Shepherd of Hermas, this is a fascinating series of lectures. This is a particularly interesting and period of time in the formation and practices of the church and Professor Bart D. Ehrman does an excellent job of bringing it clearly to life. After the New Testament is highly recommended.

Caring for Your Aging Parents
Raeann Berman, Bernard H. Shulman, M.D.
Champion Press, Ltd.
4308 Blueberry Road, Fredonia, WI 53021
ISBN: 1932783466, $16.00 246 p. plus appendix and bibliography

One of the challenges of life that many of us will have to face at some point is dealing with our aging parents. This is a very difficult time with many specialized problems. This book walks the reader through some of the most important problems they will have to deal with including gaining perspective, discovering when your parents have a hidden agenda, and dealing with problems of communication. It even includes information on the very difficult problems of transferring authority from the parent to the child, changing living arrangements, driving, remarriage and planning for death. Of course all of this is very helpful information but the one thing books like this tend to overlook is the importance of taking care of yourself as well as your parent. The authors here do not miss that detail but emphasize it's importance as an integral part of your planning.

Some of the issues discussed in this section include how to deal with the problems in a caring and yet professional manner, dealing with guilt, anxiety, non-appreciative parents, getting other family members to help, health issues, finances, and emotional struggles. Even the appendix is unusually helpful and contains many resources for the elderly as well as for children dealing with elderly parents. This is required reading for anyone caring for the elderly in addition to people who will have to care for their parents at some point. Read it and be prepared for what will be one of the most emotionally gratifying and emotionally trying times of your life. Caring for Your Aging Parents is highly recommended.

Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography
Professor: Sherwin B. Nuland
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Cassette
Lectures: 12

By looking at the biographies of prominent people in the world of medicine this course takes you through medical history in a unique and very interesting way. Instead of just hearing that something was developed at a particular time you learn the problems and how they were solved by the individuals discussed. For example, I loved the story of Rene Laennec and the invention of the stethoscope. At a time when doctors placed their ear on a person's chest to hear the heart he wasn't able to do so on a particularly buxom young woman. So, after watching children playing a game where sound is transmitted along a piece of wood he went back to the hospital, rolled up a notebook and used it to hear the heart. Putting the history in terms of real people not only brings them to life but brings the progression of medical knowledge to life. Some of the biographies included are Hippocrates, Galen, Morgagni, Laennec, Morton, Virchow, Lister, Halsted, and Taussig. A unique way of looking at the history of medicine, Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography is highly recommended, entertaining, and educational.

Daniel S. Acuff, PhD, Robert H. Reiher, PhD
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481
ISBN: 1419505033, $18.95 241 plus index

There is no shortage of marketers using irresponsible and unethical techniques to make a buck off our children. These people and companies take advantage of the child's age and innocence to mold their minds. The problem is not only that this is unethical but that over time it creates permanent changes in the child and alters their personality as well as their health. The bottom line here is that marketers will always target our children as yet another tool to be used to sell product. As such it is the responsibility of the parents to control the factors that influence their children for good and bad. The authors separate the sections of the book to include what is appropriate for birth to age three, three to seven, eight to twelve, thirteen to fifteen, and sixteen to nineteen. For each of these age groups they cover developmental issues, areas to watch and areas where you can expand their exposure to the world and difficult issues. You may disagree, as I did, with some of the detail but overall it is an insightful and interesting read. Even if you don't agree with all of it you are sure to find the greatest part of Kidnapped highly informative and helpful for raising children. As such it is a recommended read.

The Forgotten Half of Change
Luc De Brabandere
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481
ISBN: 1419502751, $20.00 161 p.

Change is a normal part of life and as such it is also a normal part of business and the need to adapt. The problem is that the change is only the first step and there is more to change than change by itself. Dealing with the other half of change - a change of perception is what this book is about. The author challenges the reader to examine such things as thinking about how you think and inspiring creativity so that you can change perception.

With a light writing style that is at times humorous Mr. Brabandere leads the reader to an enlightening view of the human mind and how it traps us into particular ways of thinking. Escaping from this trap by changing our perception is what this book is all about. A lesson in creative thinking and getting out of the stereotypes that we have learned and handicap our thinking, The Forgotten Half of Change is highly recommended and fun to read.

Money Without Matrimony
Sheryl Garrett, CFP, Debra A. Neiman, CFP, MBA
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481
ISBN: 1419506889, $21.95, 235 plus glossary and index

A long overdue book, Money Without Matrimony discusses the myriad of financial considerations when two people are living together as a couple but are not married. In this situation there are many potential problems that can interfere with your planning for your future. The authors walk the reader down a solid pathway for financial advice by first examining why financial planning is important, determining goals and objectives, dealing with what assets belong to each person and which assets are jointly owned, dealing with insurance, taxes, estate planning, and retirement. And, of course, children raises another entirely different problem that needs to be examined in detail. The authors follow a well organized path that leads the reader from thinking about their goals through devising a total plan. The coverage is excellent and thorough and includes a discussion of such things as common-law marriage states and what to do about it. Other areas with surprises that are covered in detail include credit cards, life insurance, insurance proceeds, and inheritance. This is a complex field with many potential pitfalls and problems but also ripe with planning opportunities so that your wishes are met and assets protected. Money Without Matrimony is highly recommended for all unmarried couples.

Raising Money Smart Kids
Janet Bodnar
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481
ISBN: 1419505165, $17.95 347 p.

With each generation the children seem to have more money available to them than their parents. With this should come responsibility and learning how to spend or save wisely. The problem is that most just learn to spend as soon as they get it, get it by begging parents or an allowance with no responsibilities involved or similar. Enter Janet Bodnar, deputy-editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, mother of three, and writer of the Money Smart Kids column in Kiplinger Magazine. This is not a collection of hard and fast rules to force good finance habits onto kids but a framework within which parents can use good common sense to handle any situation. The book starts with a quiz to test your money smarts. This quiz is excellent and presents most of the potential situations you are likely to encounter with children and money. The author even includes examples of questions kids ask and how to answer them. One of the insightful sections is one on how kids think about money and how to deal with these concepts from preschool to teenager. Ms. Bodnar even includes a fascinating chapter on questions and answers about money's history, composition, and dozens of other miscellaneous facts. Prepare your children to know how to deal with money when they are grown. Raising Money Smart Kids is highly recommended.

Light Their Fire
Susan M. Drake, Michelle J. Gulman, Sara M. Roberts
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481
ISBN: 1419502522, $23.00 215 p.

Companies pay a lot of attention to a strong marketing plan for consumers but often don't pay much attention to internal marketing. One of the most powerful marketing forces you have is your employees. When they are excited about your product then they tell others. The authors of this book provide step-by-step guidance on how to get your employees to become your best marketing source by being your most dedicated consumer. They even include details on how to do things like break bad news to employees in such as way that it does not demoralize others.

Starting with Chapter 4 the authors take you on a detailed method for setting a course for action, setting goals, and then achieving those goals. Chapter 5 follows up with communicating good and bad news, choosing the right vehicle for communicating your message, and making the most of that communication vehicle. Other chapters include training as a marketing tool and using rewards and recognition. Easy to understand and apply, Light Their Fire is highly recommended.

Tillie, the Ticklish Horse
Joe Cyr, editor
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113-1513
ISBN: 1413442366, $14.95 25 p.

Just about every child delights in being tickled. But what if there was a horse that not only gets tickled but when it is tickled it changes colors? Tillie, the Ticklish Horse is a delightful read and sets the stage for imaginative play with children. Written in a rhyming style, at times the text seems awkward as the author struggles to get a line to rhyme, but that notwithstanding the story is still fun and an imaginative read for children. Tillie, the Ticklish Horse is a recommended read.

Detox and Revitalize
Susana L. Belen
Vital Health Publishing
34 Mill Plain Road, Danbury, CT 06811
ISBN: 1890612464, $14.95, 139 plus index

This is one of the better books on detoxification. Most others give various recipes and regimens to accomplish some form of detoxification without providing sufficient background information to understand how it is supposed to work and why. The author of this book starts with why you should detoxify, the five principles of balanced health, and the seven most important steps. People are much more likely to follow through when they know what to expect and understand why they are doing it. Written in an easy-to-read style the author explains concepts very clearly without introducing any unnecessary complications. Detox and Revitalize is highly recommended and especially so for those new to detoxification who want to gain a broad understanding of the purpose and process.

Michael Kruckenberg, Jay Pipes
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 159059505X, $49.99 698 plus index

Written for those who already have some familiarity with MySQL and want a deeper understanding of the database system the authors take them on a detailed tour of MySQL Server version 5.0. They include many techniques that are not found in most other texts and that by itself makes this a valuable book. The authors do make the assumption that the reader already has some knowledge of relational databases and how they should work.

The book starts by examining business requirements and how software is developed from an initial requirements assessment through object and data modeling, diagramming, and completing the design of the database. The second chapter details indexing and how to use it efficiently to increase data lookup speed. The third chapter provides a detailed discussion of transaction processing. These three chapters form the foundation on which the deeper discussions in later chapters are all based.

One of the areas that I have not found discussed in any significant detail in other books is the internal system architecture of MySQL. In chapters 4 and 5 the authors examine the internal structure and the different storage engines and data types MySQL uses with a concentration on the InnoDB and MyISAM storage engines. The rest of the book covers more traditional fare such as subqueries and derived tables, benchmarking and profiling, writing SQL queries that are efficient and produce the information you want, stored procedures, stored functions, views, and triggers.

Of course they go over installation and configuration in detail as well as security, backup and restoration, replication, clustering, and troubleshooting. The authors have included lots of illustrations, tables, and examples that really help make complex MySQL concepts easy to understand. Pro MySQL is highly recommended for readers who already have a good understanding of MySQL past the beginners level and into the intermediate level.

Pro Perl Parsing
Christopher M. Frenz
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590595041, $39.99 241 plus index

Wow! I do a lot of data parsing and this book is one of the best finds I have ever made. I should point out, however, that it is not for the average reader. This book is very technical in nature but absolutely fabulous if you are technically inclined or already proficient in Perl or have some experience parsing using another language. It seems that I am always finding strange problems that create a need to parse large amounts of data to extract only the relevant information and present it in a usable form. Author Christopher M. Frenz covers the whole gamut of parsing and does so in a very logical progressive manner. First he starts with the use of regular expressions and does a great job including some complex example of just what can be done. From there he moves to generative grammars and how they can be used to determine relevant data of interest within a text, XML or similar file. Then from there he builds on your understanding by discussing specialized modules that can be added to your Perl implementation and how they are used. And, of course, he discusses data mining and how to efficiently use this information. This is an excellent technical book that is a required resource for anyone using Perl to parse documents. Pro Perl Parsing is highly recommended.

The Official Samba-3 Howto and Reference Guide, 2e
John H. Terpstra, Jelmer R. Vernooij, editors
Prentice Hall PTR
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131882228, $54.99 822 p.

This is not an introduction to Samba but a technical reference written by those who know it best - the Samba Team. If you already know something about Samba then this is the place you will find very detailed explanations of all the internal and external capabilities of Samba-3.0.11 and higher. While it is easy enough to find information on how to set Samba up as a file and print server, how to use its other features is harder information to come by. This book details setting up Samba as a domain controller, backup domain controller, or domain member, network browsing, access controls, record locking, securing Samba, interdomain trusts, printing support, user profiles, administration, monitoring, and tuning. A voluminous tome, most people will not be inclined to read through it but would more likely read the sections relevant to their current needs and the book is organized so that it is easy to use that way. A true technical reference it has everything you are likely to ever want to know about Samba-3 and how to set it up correctly as well as how to resolve common problems. This is a reference that I will be keeping close at hand and you will want to too if you use Samba-3. The Official Samba-3 Howto and Reference Guide, Second Edition is highly recommended.

Samba-3 by Example
John H. Terpstra
Prentice Hall/PTR
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 013188221X, $44.99 430 p.

Using Linux in a Windows desktop environment requires the use of Samba for file and print sharing via the Windows explorer. But Samba has grown up as a full-fledged package for communicating between Linux and Windows over the last few years. Installing Samba as a Primary Domain Controller, implementing ldap for easy directory integration, or just installing it as a file and print server are all easy to do with the help of this book. The author takes a much easier to follow approach than most other writers on this subject. Instead of trying to go through each of the features and discuss them in detail he organizes the book by the type of installation and then walks you through a correct setup for that situation. For example some of the sections are: No-frills Samba Servers, Small Office Networking, Secure Office Networking, The 500-User Office, A Distributed 2000-User Network, Migrating NT4 Domain to Samba-3, and Migrating Netware Server to Samba-3. For each one of these situations the author dissects the technical issues, discusses each one, and then walks the reader through the implementing. The author also includes sections on things like performance, reliability, LDAP, and updating Samba. Nothing is left unexplained but each time you are told to check something or do something the exact syntax for doing it is given. Even with only very little or no Linux experience you can walk through this book and install a correctly functioning Samba server. Samba-3 by Example is highly recommended.

A Practical Guide to Linux
Mark G. Sobell
Prentice Hall/PTR
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131478230, $39.99 823 p.

For some people knowing how to do something through a graphical interface is akin to knowing how to drive without knowing how an engine, transmission, etc. work together to make the car run. For them knowing how to get down to the command line and get things done that either the graphical interface does not allow or does not do the way you want it done is a matter of pride and represents the dividing line between a user and a power user. If you want to become a real Linux guru and know how to work the command line to do whatever you want including commands, editing, shell programming, and scripting this is one of the better books available. Readable, straight-forward, educational, it is a one-of-kind reference that blends the educational aspect of a typical book on learning Linux with a typical book of command line references. A Practical Guide to Linux is highly recommended.

Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux
Peter van der Linden
Prentice Hall PTR
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131872842, $39.99 495 p.

This book is one of the best guides to desktop Linux for the complete novice. It includes the Linspire Live CD bundled with the book so the reader can gain experience with the Linux desktop without sacrificing their current system. The author does a really good job of discussing why Linux has become so popular, why people are choosing it over Windows, and the advantages as well as disadvantages of Linux. Getting down to the details he covers the KDE desktop and how to use the File Manager as well as configure the desktop. And, of course, the reader can follow along by booting up the Linspire CD. He also covers the most common tasks for the desktop user including setting up an Internet connection, a network connection, browsing with the included Firefox browser, setting up email with Mozilla, working with OpenOffice, using GAIM, burning CDs, playing music, downloading Linux distributions, and installing Linux (in case you want it permanently installed onto your system).

While the average desktop user will probably not care, the author does include several appendixes for the more advanced user who really wants to know how to do more advanced things. This book is devoted to the graphical user interface of a desktop version of Linux. As such it does not get into the powerful use of Linux as a server other than at a cursory level. This is a great introduction to Linux that will make you comfortable with it before making any switch. Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux is highly recommended.

Rotten School: The Big Blueberry Barf-Off
R. L. Stine
HarperCollins Children's Books
Parachute Publishing, LLC imprint
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0060785861, $6.99 109 p.

This is the first in a new series from beloved children's author R. L. Stine of Goosebumps fame. Bernie Bridges wants Sherman Oaks' fancy new watch. How will he get it? He challenges the residents of Sherman's residential home to a pie eating contest. They will pick a representative for them and Bernie's group will choose a person to represent them. Of course, Bernie has a secret plan. Will it work? You will have to read the book to find out. The Big Blueberry Barf-Off will appeal to most school kids between 8 and 12 years of age. A departure from the Goosebumps style it is a good read filled with descriptions of the gross and messy stuff children that age like to read about while still providing an interesting story with plenty of twists and turns. This series should appeal to boys where other titles often fail.

Rotten School: The Great Smelling Bee
R. L. Stine
HarperCollins Children's Books
Parachute Publishing, LLC imprint
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0060785896, $6.99 109 p.

This is the second book in a new series from beloved children's author R. L. Stine of Goosebumps fame. Bernie Bridges has a problem. His residential school does not allow any pets and his dog and parrot have arrived. How will he keep them hidden from view? A quick thinker, Bernie enrolls his dog in school. But the dog received his nickname of Gassy for a good reason and this causes all kinds of problems. The Great Smelling Bee will appeal to most school kids between 8 and 12 years of age. A departure from the Goosebumps style it is a good read filled with descriptions of the gross and messy stuff children that age like to read about while still providing an interesting story with plenty of twists and turns. This book should appeal strongly to boys where other books often fail.

Scream Free Parenting
Hal Edward Runkel
Oakmont Publishing, LLC
2180 Satellite Blvd., Suite 400, Duluth, GA 30097
ISBN: 0975998110, $16.95 221 p.

Parenting is full of challenges as well as surprises both pleasant and unpleasant. Although it is understandable that sometimes dealing with children can cause a parent to lose their cool and scream at the children this is not the preferred response. Screaming is a reaction and not a purposeful and appropriate course of action. Taking control of yourself and your job as a parent is what this book is about. The author is realistic and recognizes that even the best parents struggle with the tendency to react instead of act with purpose. The difference between these scream free parents and others is that they learn to control that tendency to react and choose a more appropriate course of action. The book is delightfully realistic and insightful and points out some of the normal conundrums of raising children. Well written and engaging, a combination that is hard to find in this style of book, you will find familiar situations consistently throughout the book. Scream Free Parenting is a recommended read for parents with children of all ages.

Astronomy Hacks
Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596100604, $24.95 378 p.

If you've ever wanted to learn astronomy as a hobby or as a serious amateur you'll find everything you need to get started and well along the path in this book. In addition to the things you would expect to find in a book like this (star names, constellations, Messier objects, etc.) the authors also cover things like etiquette when observing with groups, how to choose binoculars and the right telescope for you. The tips on how to choose the right telescope and how to avoid being cheated is well worth the price of the book by itself.

Of course it is filled with information on identifying stars and constellations, using the celestial coordinate system, observing in different environments, observing shallow-space and deep-space objects, and photographing the stars. But the tips on things like eliminating astigmatism, eliminating diffraction, and tuning your telescope are some of the most interesting as well as the most likely to make your hobby really enjoyable. Astronomy Hacks is highly recommended to anyone interested in astronomy and can move you from novice to advanced amateur.

Using Moodle
Jason Cole
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596008635, $39.95 215 p.

If you want to operate an online educational course one of the most important choices you will have to make is choosing a good program to manage the course and all of its requirements. Moodle is an open source course management system that can handle anything from a single course through a university system with thousands of students and courses. The Moodle system is a complete system with a student registration and login, calendar, student forums, help system, online quiz system, the ability to upload and download files and assignments, and course content control. This book provides the reader with all the background and detail information they need to install and configure the software as well as and setup your courses. I was able to follow the book and setup a course and test it easily enough. It wasn't perfect the first time through but I did get it working correctly without having to refer to any other source of documentation.

Although installation is traditionally done on an Linux Apache system it will work on most systems that have a webserver, PHP, and SQL database. Using Moodle is highly recommended to anyone interested in learning this software or establishing an online course management system.

Perl Best Practices
Damian Conway
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596001738, $39.95 467 p.

Perl Best Practices is a book of standards and styles that if followed produce code that is much easier to maintain. In total it contains 256 guidelines for coding, layout, name selection, program decomposition, modularity, error handling, testing, and debugging among many others. The section on code formatting is extremely useful and follows the conventions taught in most degree programs in programming. If it is followed exactly then it is much easier to understand the program and what each section is doing nine months later when you have to change something and can't remember the purpose of many of the code lines. This, of course, makes the code much easier to maintain and allows the assignment of programming different sections to other people. The author ends the book with several very useful appendixes including one that lists most of the more useful modules and utilities available for Perl. Perl Best Practices is highly recommended for all Perl Programmers but especially so for new ones or ones who need to set a standard for coding.

Word Annoyances
Guy Hart-Davis
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009542, $19.95 183 p.

When it comes to word processing programs Word is so predominant in the marketplace as to be ubiquitous. Unfortunately just because it is everywhere doesn't mean that there are not a lot of problems with it. Learning how to deal with all those annoying problems is the purpose of this book. The author covers installation problems, dealing with multiple versions, moving Word to another computer, dealing with long startup times, when it runs slowly, when it takes a long time to close, modifying the toolbar, saving all open documents at once, keeping separate versions of the same document, dealing with crashes and document corruption, transferring your auto-correct entries to another computer, the myriad problems of working with styles and layouts, printing problems (and there are many of these), mail merge, and even dealing with problems specific to the Mac OS.

Written in a question and answer format it contains all the most commonly asked questions about how to get Word to work the way you want. I've worked with Word for years and still found a couple of tips in this book that I really appreciated. If you use Word for anything other than an expanded notepad you will want a copy of Word Annoyances.

Search Engine Marketing, Inc.
Mike Moran, Bill Hunt
IBM Press
c/o Pearson Education
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131852922, $49.99 525 p.

Search engine marketing is one of the most important parts of Internet marketing and also one of the most frustrating and difficult. While there are lots of people and businesses that are glad to tell you the secrets of how to get into one of the top positions on a search engine most of them are old techniques that don't work any more. In this book the authors examine the details of how a search engine really works and basic search marketing methods. One of the most interesting parts of the book is a section on understanding how a person thinks when they are issuing a search query. There is also a great graphic on the relationships between many of the search engines.

The process they outline is simple yet very powerful if followed. First you have to identify the goals of your web site. If you don't know what you are trying to accomplish then you are unlikely to accomplish it. Then you determine how to measure the success of your website. After this you develop a search marketing strategy and how you are going to measure the success of your marketing efforts. If you are in a larger company the authors even include a section on selling your search marketing proposal to your company.

The book includes a lot of the necessary details to implement your plan. This includes how to get your site indexed, choosing your target words, and attracting links to your site. This is some of the best, most detailed information that I have seen anywhere on this subject and shows that the authors are up to date in their understanding of how search engines work and how to get top rankings. Search Engine Marketing, Inc. is highly recommended to anyone trying to market their website.

Soul Cavalcade
Robert Dunn
Coral Press
530 West End Avenue #7A, New York, NY 10024
ISBN: 0970829345, $14.95 362 p.

The nineteen-sixties was a period of change for all aspects of American society. With the skyrocketing success of Motown there was tremendous potential for soul singers that had never existed before. This novel is the story of Fleur-de-Lys Records, a competitor of Motown seeking to get their first number one record. As part of their plan to get exposure on American Bandstand they send a bus full of their best groups on tour around America. With everyone crowded onto the bus it is hard to keep secrets and there are secrets to be kept. Part drama, part comedy, it is a fast moving novel that keeps the reader's interest. Welcome to the world of the sixties complete with dreams, and disasters, Soul Cavalcade is a recommended read.

Treehouse Chronicles
S. Peter Lewis, T. B. R. Walsh
TMC Books, LLC
731 Tasker Hill Rd., Conway, NH 03818
ISBN: 0972030743, $29.95 129 p.

What happens when adults decide to become kids again, fulfill their dreams, and have access to tools, lumber, and skills? This book answers that question for author S. Peter Lewis. More than just a story of how he built his ultimate treehouse it is the story of one man pulling together the resources he needs to create his dream. As he states in the prelude it is the story of a process more than a product. The story covers almost three years from planning to build his house in the trees to its ultimate completion. In short order the reader soon comes to feel they are a part of this grand scheme and a participant in its completion. With details of how the house was built, including joint techniques, exploded view diagrams, and short vignettes of the surrounding countryside that the author loves, it is a very interesting book and a memorial to the untamed spirit of childhood. Treehouse Chronicles is a highly recommended read.

Phase One After Zero
Vladimir Chernozemsky
Triumvirate Publications
497 West Avenue 44, Los Angeles, CA 90065-3917
ISBN: 1932656030, $22.95 166 p.

A skillfully crafted novel from an accomplished writer, Phase One After Zero takes the reader on a fascinating fictional journey with Greg MacPherson. Starting with the bombing of the city hall in an Oklahoma town the story is loosely based on the idea of what might have happed if Timothy McVeigh had escaped and joined the Al-Qaeda. In this story Greg MacPherson escapes to Canada and then moves to the Middle East. Joining Al-Qaeda he becomes involved in the terrorist activities and the planning of the attacks of September 11. But, when it comes time for the attack he has some second thoughts. With well-defined characters and a writing style that is fast-paced but choppy at times it examines the problem of evil fighting evil as well as how a single event can dramatically change history. A good read for people who like suspense novels Phase One After Zero is a recommended read.

Linux Made Easy
Rickford Grant
No Starch Press
555 DeHaro Street, Suite 250, San Francisco, CA 94107
ISBN: 1593270577, $34.95 431 p.

Linux Made Easy is one of the most user friendly books on working with the Linux desktop around. Part of the reason is the choice of the Xandros distribution of Linux as the included distribution. For those not familiar with Xandros it is one of the most popular of the desktop versions because the focus is on a user-friendly implementation. The author provides the details on installation and goes into much more detail than most similar books. He follows that with the basics of how to use the various included programs as well as how to download and install other popular ones. This book contains lots of good, detailed information on customizing your system, adding printers, interfacing with your PDA, using the contact manager, surfing the Internet, setting email, working with music files, working with DVDs, working with the office productivity suite (OpenOffice), and even playing games. Because of the attention to detail and very non-technical writing style this is probably one of the best choices for the completely new user who wants to install and use Linux as their primary desktop OS.

These days one of the first questions people ask about a book with a Linux distribution included is whether it is a LiveCD that can run without installing to the hard drive. That is not the case with this Linux distribution. It must be installed to the hard drive but can be installed in a dual boot configuration. In my case I had a problem installing it but contacted the publicist who was very helpful and sent another copy of the disk. Xandros provides no support for the Open Circulation edition and so it was necessary to contact the publisher. From the new disk it installed easily, found all the hardware, correctly configured everything that it should and was an absolute thing of beauty to see if you've ever worked your way through an installation of Linux from scratch before. This version of Linux found all of my Windows shares automatically, setup networking automatically, and just plain worked just like the book said it would. If you are new to Linux and want a friendly desktop version to learn how it works on the desktop then this book will provide everything you need to install and use Xandros and some of the most commonly used software programs. Linux Made Easy is highly recommended for the person new to Linux who wants to learn about Linux on the desktop and has the hard drive free space available to install it.

The Clutter-Busting Handbook
Rita Emmett
Walker Publishing Company, Inc.
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 0802777171, $10.95 183 p.

We all accumulate some amount of clutter over time but some of us gather much more than our share. This book is for those people who tend to have clutter lying about consuming any and all flat surfaces available in their home. The author takes a light-hearted look at the clutter problem while still offering good advice, specific techniques, and encouragement to help not only clean it up but change your lifestyle so it does not become a problem again. For those who have chronically cluttered homes, offices, garage, or whatever, The Clutter-Busting Handbook is a recommended read.

Big Rocks
Dr. Gary F. Russell
Lifestyle Press Publications
100 South Street, Suite 202, Sausalito, CA 94965
ISBN: 0970133111, $19.95 133 p.

This is basically a treatise on balancing life and work but with a different twist from a typical self-help book. The difference is the completely different writing style. This book is written like a novel that takes you on a trip through the main character's life and realization of the need to find balance. If you enjoy parables as a teaching method then you should really like this book. The story takes the reader on the protagonist's journey through the whole process from evaluation of his current situation all the way to a balanced and satisfying lifestyle. Good reading, smooth style, effective message and a complete procedure hidden within the story, Big Rocks is a recommended read.

Religion In the Ancient Mediterranean World
Professor: Glenn S. Holland
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Cassette
Lectures: 48

This series of lectures examines the religions of the Mediterranean area from the prehistoric era through the conversion of Constantine and the effect on the Roman empire in the fourth century. For each of the religious cultures examined Professor Holland discusses the beliefs and practices as well as how these beliefs affected the lives of everyday people within that culture. The section on Egyptian religions examines creation stories and common religious myths. From there the lectures move to Mesopotamia and the Gods that apparently did whatever they chose at any particular moment in time. This dealing with people based on the whims of the Gods caused the believers to feel uneasy with what the Gods may or may not do next. Of course Professor Holland also examines creation stories, specific deities such as Ishtar, and the Gilgamesh story. The professor then moves the lectures to the Syria-Palestine area and how the empires of Assyria and Babylon affected the religion of Israel. The Minoan and Mycenaean religious cultures are also discussed in this section. Next the Greek religious culture came to prominence in the Mediterranean world and affected a lot of other cultures with the spread of Hellenism and the rise of mystery religions. Finally he ends with examining the Roman religious culture and how it evolved by introducing religious elements from foreign cultures. Of course, this part would be incomplete without discussing Jesus and his followers and how the Roman religious culture was affected by them as well as how they influenced the Roman culture. An interesting set of lectures, Religion In the Ancient Mediterranean World is highly recommended.

The Power of Impossible Thinking
Yoram Wind, Colin Crook
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131425021, $25.99 237 p.

Although touted as a business book with the subtitle Transform the Business of Your Life and the Life of Your Business this is a book with tremendous value for everyone. There are many, many books on the market discuss how business leaders often get into a mental rut and as a result miss important opportunities. While this one is similar it is also very different in that it not only provides much better examples but also provides suggestions and methods on how to get out of that mode of thinking. The authors discuss how we develop models of the world around us, how they serve us, and how they can also entrap us. But that is not where the book ends. They discuss how to see the other mental model possibilities, how to know when to switch, how to deal with context so you get the appropriate picture, using cognitive experimenting to expand your ability to perceive other directions, dismantling the old way, bridging disconnects, and adapting to the world. Part of the purpose of the book is to help you develop the ability to react quickly and creatively. They provide several examples of people who have done the impossible by reframing the mental model that others were stuck in. The appendix covers the neuroscience behind mental models for those who really want to understand how we get trapped in these models. A fascinating book that does an excellent job of exposing how our thinking gets in the way of many things we do, The Power of Impossible Thinking should be required reading for all business managers and highly suggested for everyone since such mental model problems pervade all aspects of life.

Making Innovation Work
Tony Davila, Mare J. Epstein, Robert Shelton
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131497863, $29.99 285 p.

Innovation is a great thing to have in a company but how do you manage and plan for it? That is the question at the core of this book as the authors lead the reader through a process that measures, manages, and profits from innovation. They make the case that management of innovation depends on the right corporate culture as well as the right employees. When it becomes a part of the corporate culture then innovation can be a regular part of the planning process instead of an erratic thing that occurs occasionally and can't be planned for. Using a tried and true method they detail how to bring about this culture and the factors that defeat it as well as encourage it. Once innovation learns to thrive within your organization it can be used to differentiate your product or service and its perceived value. Insightful with lots of illustrations, sidebars, and other information that helps the reader understand the process, Making Innovation Work is recommended.

Effective First-Person Biblical Preaching
J. Kent Edwards
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310263093, $24.99 181 p.

One of many techniques available for presenting a good sermon, first-person preaching involves taking a Biblical character and presenting the gospel from their viewpoint. This can be a very powerful technique if done well. On the other hand some conservative churchgoers may have problems with a sermon where acting is an important part of it. The funny thing is that these same people will generally enjoy attending a passion play or other similar form of acting out the gospel. This book is about how to go from a text sermon to a narrative one and takes you through the process step-by-step. The author doesn't suggest that this style should be used for every sermon but provides an alternative style to add to the preaching techniques of the minister. A very instructive and useful book it makes a teaching style as well as preaching technique available to everyone. Effective First-Person Biblical Preaching is highly recommended.

Lost Women of the Bible
Carolyn Custis James
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310263905, $16.99 23 p.

Author Carolyn Custis James examines the lives of several women of the Bible and how their lesson can be applied to today's challenges. She examines how God uses women of the Bible in roles other than the traditional Biblical ones. The primary point of the book is that God can have plans for women other than as just a mother and wife. Throughout the book she selects women of perseverance, influence, courage, and strength who God used at critical points in history. Among these women are Eve, Noah's wife, Sarah, Hagar, Tamar, Hannah, Esther, Mary of Nazareth, Mary Magdelene, and the Women of Phillipi. These women had very important roles in life and in God's plans. Celebrate the God who will use everyone no matter what their sex if they are only willing to give their life to Him. Lost Women of the Bible is a recommended read.

Yahoo to the Max
Randolph Hock
CyberAge Books
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medofrd, NJ 08055
ISBN: 0910965692, $24.95 219 p.

Well I hadn't used Yahoo for the last several years because I could do whatever I wanted on Google. So, I didn't really know what I was missing until I read through this book and tried the myriad of little tricks detailed throughout. Yahoo has grown up and is a serious competitor to other search engines as well as a preferred site for some purposes. Author Randolph Hock introduces the reader to the details of various services of Yahoo including Groups, News, Mail, Messenger, GeoCities, Chat, Message Boards, Shopping, Auctions, Classifieds, and Finance. If that isn't enough he includes information on how to use Yahoo's city guides, maps, weather, people search, and lots of other useful stuff. Have you ever been to a website that did not have a search function? I've been to a lot of them. The author details how to deal with these situations using Yahoo and including on the search line. When you do this it just searches that site! Or if you want to find all the sites that link to another site you can use the link syntax in the search box. I did that and it returned eight links. Surprisingly I did the same thing on Google and it only returned four and only one of them was the same in both engines. A couple of more searches following the instructions in the book and I was surprised to find that in several instances Yahoo returned more relevant results than my old favorite Google. With lots of details on how to use Yahoo effectively, Yahoo to the Max is a highly recommended book which has convinced me that I can often get the results I am looking for more easily from Yahoo than from competitors.

Booknotes on American Character
Brian Lamb
Public Affairs
250 West 57th Street, Suite 1321, New York, NY 10107
ISBN: 1586483420, $16.50 541 p.

The television show Booknotes has been known since its inception for excellence in nonfiction book and author interviews. A master of the interview, its host Brian Lamb has had over 750 guest authors on the program. In this book he has collected seventy selected pieces that reveal some aspect about the people, politics, and conflict of American history. Sometimes the articles contain interesting viewpoints, sometimes they fill in gaps in our education, and other times they are quite controversial. Each article is absorbing reading and covers a wide variety of topics including Benjamin Franklin, the Disputed Election of 1876, Carrie Nation, the Rise of Conservatism, Libertarianism, the Civil War, World Wars, Vietnam War, Child Molestation in the Early 1980s, Sinclair Lewis, Tupac Shakur, and Presidential Rhetoric. Absorbing and interesting reading, Booknotes on American Character is highly recommended.

Great Quotes from Feisty Women
Ava Diamond
Sage Creek Press
PO Box 8181, Fort Collins, CO 80526
ISBN: 0976096803, $13.95 155 p.

I have to admit that I love books of proverbs and other short sayings that contain an important deeper truth or strong motivational factor. Author Ava Diamond has done an excellent job of locating some of the best quotes from women, both contemporary and historical. The book is divided into five sections representing similar themes. The sections are: Living with Joy and Fulfillment, Being True to Yourself, Your Thoughts Create Your Life, It's All About Love, and Living Your Dreams. One of the most inspirational books I have read this year, Great Quotes from Feisty Women is very highly recommended to both women and men and perhaps one of the best high-school or college graduation presents I can think of for a young lady.

Mary Otting
Winepress Publishing
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
ISBN: 157921360X, $TBA 87 p.

Using a selection of appropriate verses from The Amplified Bible and the New King James Version of the Bible author Mary Otting shares her love of Florida sunsets with the reader. Every other page has a full color photograph of a sunset from the author's personal collection of photographs. With an excellent and carefully considered choice of verses to inspire the reader, Glory is a book that exalts the Lord while feeding the spirit of the reader.

The God's Honest Truth
Darrin Hufford
Master Press Publications
13613 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ 85022
ISBN: 0967325021, $TBA 139 p.

This is probably the best book I have ever read on really knowing the heart of God. To really know the heart of God you have to really know what love is and is not since God is love. That is the primary focus of this text - bringing the reader a clear understanding of love in its purest form. Author Darrin Hufford shows a deep understanding of what love is, and what it means to be loved as well as to have love for one another. You may not agree with everything in the book but it is still a life-changing read that brings a depth of understanding unmatched by any other book I have read. It will challenge you, it will break down barriers, and it will build up love - for yourself and for others. Persevere through the parts that you might find difficult. You will find that you are glad you did. The God's Honest Truth is a very highly recommended read for all audiences and a book not to be missed.

Unnatural Phenomena
Jerome Clark
130 Cremona Drive, PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
ISBN: 1576074307, $85.00 358 p.

Not really organized like a traditional book this is really a collection of newspaper and magazine articles from the early 1800's through the mid-1900's. The original articles are repeated verbatim complete with comments, misspellings, and colloquial word usage. I found this to be one of the endearing qualities of the book. The author takes a very broad look at unnatural phenomena and includes everything from strange things falling from the sky, to strange apparitions, animals, visions, and just about anything else you can think of that has been reported over the last two hundred years. While it is interesting reading it is not a book that I would suggest if you are looking to do a serious study of strange phenomena. On the other hand, if you are just looking for some light reading and a collection of incidents as reported by the media you will probably find this an entertaining read. The articles are all arranged by state instead of by type of phenomena so it is easy to look through your state and see what has been reported over the years. Unnatural Phenomena: A Guide to the Bizarre Wonders of North America is a recommended read for anyone interested in this subject or light enough reading for the merely curious.

Labs of Deception
Gayle Marlowe
Noble House
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
ISBN: 156167883X, $22.95 398 p.

This fast moving tale focuses on an environmental services company which provides services to the U.S. water supply. Sarge, a chemist and terrorist, has targeted the company for a heinous plan to corrupt the water supply of the nation. Kelsey Cooke, on the other hand, is the Chief Operating Officer and has become concerned with the number of accidents recently in the company. A well-woven story it is an excellent study of human nature at its best and worst as Sarge takes advantage of corporate culture, internal politics, and human desires to gain access to the company. At the same time, the internal politics and corporate culture interfere with Kelsey's investigation. Will she be able to find out about Sarge's activities before the water system is compromised? Will one of Sarge's unwitting accomplices figure it out and create a problem for him? Written in a smooth easy-reading style Labs of Deception keeps the reader interested from beginning to end.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Nine months have past since I submitted my last Kaveny's Bookshelf and much has changed since I did my feature on Spirituality and The Arts. I have continued my study of spirituality and the arts by formally entering a religious studies program at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. I guess the reason I am doing this is similar to what poet and atheist Ogden Nash (1902-1971) told The Yale Divinity School when he was asked to speak at their graduation ceremony in the 1950s. At first he rejected the offer, but later he reconsidered, and sent the following note. "You may not have any of the answers but surely you have a lot of the interesting questions."

For example, immorality is a fascinating concept for purposes of discussion, if one chooses not to express the concept in any kind of personal sense. I recently got into a discussion with one of my new chess-playing buddies about a delightful collection of essays written by Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)

On Literature and the Arts, 2nd edition
Leon Trotsky
Pathfinder Press
New York
ISBN: 0873483731, $9.95

One of the essays was written as a critique of Winston Churchill's portrayal of Lenin in his book on the Russian Revolution. Trotsky wrote the review in 1926 shortly after his fall from power and two years before he was forced into exile by Stalin.

To give just a little background on Trotsky: during the Russian Civil war and Allied intervention (1917-1921) Trotsky was Commissar of War commanding mostly victorious armies in the millions and saving the revolution. Yet, by the time he wrote his review he was a freelance writer earning a living by his wits, even though five years before he was riding around Russia in his armored train commanding armies that would remake the map of Europe and the world for the next hundred years. Trotsky did sort of mention his role in the revolution as one of the items on his vita, but the thing that he seemed to think was his outstanding qualification as an expert on Lenin and The Russian Revolution was his having written the Encyclopedia Britannica article on Lenin for its twelfth edition.

As I read these articles Trotsky, comes alive as a human being, troubled, reflective, strangely spiritual in the way that only someone who proclaims not to be so can be. Trotsky's obituary of the great Russian writer Tolstoy written in 1910 honored him for both his Christianity and non-violence. It reads like one of our Anglican Psalms, both in diction and pattern of refrain, as Trotsky separates his own revolutionary vision from Tolstoy's Christian and Utopian world view with the refrain, but our ways are not his ways. The Great War was to come four years later and The Russian Revolution three years after that.

Trotsky has also came alive to me as a book reviewer whose reviews caused me to buy two books by Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894-1961):

Journey to the End of the Night
Louis-Ferdinand Celine
New Directions Publishing Corporation
ISBN: 0-811208478, $9.95

Death on The Installment Plan
Louis-Ferdinand Celine
New Directions Publishing Corporation
ISBN: 0-811208478, $9.95

Next month, I will at least mention both of these books in my reviews.

So to summarize my point, I would simply note that though Trotsky was murdered by one of Stalin's henchmen with an Alpine Spike (that is a mountain climbing hammer), in Mexico in 1940 at least something human of his lives on in his words, and in a sense comes alive as I feel them as I read. I not only feel them but I act on them and order two books that were written seventy years ago. There is a lot more I could say about this, but for now I am mystified by the idea of immortality of ideas as they are passed on in simple human transactions, like being advised on a book purchase, or advising or being advised on a book purchase.

Section Two: The Frankfurt School and my plans to become a roady for an Eau Claire Progressive Punk Band Called the Ronald Ray guns.

This story starts with a chess game and a book entitled

Punk Productions: Unfinished Business
Suny Series, Interruptions: Border Testimony (Ies) and Critical Discourses
Stacey Thompson
State University of New York Press
ISBN: 0791461882, $19.95 215 pages

Punk Productions was Written by Stacey Thompson, an English professor at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. The book looks at the Punk Rock phenomena from a neo-Frankfurt school of critical theory perspective. Which to means that one looks at the manner in which economic relations develop around a cultural product like art, music, film, or video productions, rather than look at how the means of production are organized. Perhaps the best way of thinking about this is to say the means of production, factories, sweatshops, links of distribution, and international trade, in late Global capitalism (including China) are inescapably hard-wired as they develop along accelerating technological trajectories, but the things that they produce and the way that they work in human discourse space can lead to very interesting results. Among them are alternative ways of organizing production on a local rather than global basis, as some punk-rockers were able to do over the last quarter of a century.

Before I read Stacey's book, I knew next to nothing about punk rock, but I have always been interested in the theory in which it is grounded. l will become more conversant in it this semester because I will be taking a course from Stacey, I would however add that on what I would call a cultural level rock roll in the mid to late 1950's articulated something I knew even as a fourteen-year-old was wrong with Eisenhower's America. Later, in the late 1960's, it was music more than anything else that brought those of my generation including Bill Clinton, and John Kerry and millions of others who found that they could not love justice and their country at the same time, hoped for a world in which "bombers might turn into butterflies"

But I am also getting interested in the object of study and it turns out one of my opponents in Eau Claire caf‚-chess society, Matt, is a drummer in a local progressive punk band called The Ronald Ray Guns. I have grown to like Matt but it took a while. But in any case I have seen his band perform and I must say I like their attitude. They lost two thirds of their crowd after the first set, but the ones that stayed, including, me really had a good time. I think the thing I share with them is a feeling that perhaps art is not always an exercise in making people like you. Perhaps it is the articulating of some internal societal contradiction in a highly rationalized productive system which is designed to rationalize and manipulate our desires and passions while never satisfying them. When I was a young man, not much older than my drummer friend Matt, I started to write a song called The Salt Water Blues. Of course the trick is the more you drink the thirstier you get. Actually Carl Young said something like that before the First World War.

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

It Happened in South Beach
Jennie Klassel
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526352, $5.99

Reliable, sensible, and logical Bostonian Tilly Snapp is a fish out of water as she first gets her Aunt Ginger Snapp's ashes in Montego Bay and takes the cremated remains of her "ant" back to Miami's super-chic South Beach. There she seeks the killer who murdered her belo ved eccentric Aunt Ginger and stole the valuable Pillow Box of Win Win Poo, an odd collection of antique erotic garnishes. INTERPOL Special Agent Will Maitland wants Tilly to stay out of his investigation into the Win Win Poo, but wants her to stay in his bed so that he can teach her sex tricks. The boudoir part turns Tilly on, but removing herself from the case is unacceptable. Instead she, the boring Bostonian, tries to seduce the sexy super agent into revealing what he knows and partnering with her. To his surprise he is ready to tell her all he knows. Jennie Klassel provides an irreverent witty romantic murder mystery starring a delightful female amateur sleuth in and out of the bedroom though a widow. Her hilarious sidebars and commentaries such as her comparative analysis of male organs (her deceased spouse vs. Will) will have the audience in stitches. Though the relationship between Will and Tilly never comes across beyond bedroom efforts as they spend little time together because they work separately on the case, fans of amusing satirical romantic mysteries will want to laugh about the heroine's antics.

Double Play
Penelope Neri
Love Spell
ISBN: 050552645X, $6.99

In Hawaii, a 24/7 "prisoner" of her highly regarded brilliant spouse with no ties to her mainland family or having any friends except as Lulu with Keoki in a chat room, Elizabeth Harper vanishes without a trace. The police consider foul play, but nothing comes of following that line of reasoning; Detective Jack "Keoki" McQuinn reluctantly closes his investigation without learning what happened to her as no clues surface. Thirteen months later, the police learn that her spouse, the head of a hospital's Cardiothoracic Surgery Department Richard, abused her so they reopen the investigation to see if they can find proof that he killed his wife and disposed of the body. However, Jack also considers that she may have just decided to vanish to escape the physical beatings and mental anguish that she suffered from her husband. The exciting DOUBLE PLAY will remind readers of the Roberts' movie Sleeping with the Enemy. The beleaguered Elizabeth knows if she fails to flee she will be dead, but wonders where she will find the courage because if Richard catches her there is no telling how vicious he will become. Jack is a bulldog as he refuses to fully drop the case though it has become cold and he holds little hope for Elizabeth. Fans will appreciate this gripping action-packed thriller anticipating a High Noon showdown.

The Master
Melanie Jackson
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526433, $6.99

Qasim the hobgoblin has come up with an ingenious plan to free his peers. All he needs is several hundred human children to die. To attract the kids to him, this Pied Piper intends to pose as Santa at the mall. At about the same time that Qasim begins implementation of his brilliant strategy, hybrid (human, Fey, and Goblin) Zee Finvarra flees with her two younger siblings from her Goblin kin. She recognizes the disguised Qasim and knows he cannot be up to anything good. However, a nasty ice storm created by her relatives pursuing her detains her from warning anyone. Dr. Nicholas Anthony is also caught by the sudden storm. He ends up sharing a cabin with the stranded Zee. Though a non-believer, he willingly risks his life to keep the Finvarra siblings safe from creatures that just cannot exist as a confrontation between good and evi l is about to occur on a Nevada desert. No one does romantic fantasy better than Melanie Jackson does (see TRAVELER, DOMINION, and THE COURIER). Her latest thriller is another winner as readers will root for the lead couple to defeat the vile villain (as nasty a malevolence as fans will find) and make it with one another. Especially interesting is the metamorphosis of Nicholas from non-believer to doubter to convert as he learns there are plenty of mysteries under the heavens including his own bloodline. Ms. Jackson is at her masterful best with this exciting tale.

The Ravencliff Bride
Dawn Thompson
ISBN: 0505526530, $5.99

In 1815, Sara Walvern wonders if she left the frying pan for the fire as she travels by coach along the Cornwall coast as she ponders what manner of man would marry by proxy a woman he never saw. Sara knows she had no choice as marriage was her only escape from debtors' prison, but surely her wealthy spouse Nicholas had other options. She assumes he is old, deformed, or insane, but still for her he is her escape. To her shock upon meeting her husband, he is handsome, young, and seemingly in his right mind. Sara wonders further why he married her, but then begins to hear rumors of a curse. Nicholas is attracted to his spouse, but rejects sleeping with her or showing how much he desires her. In fact his wolf like canine Nero spends more time with her especially late at night than her spouse. Sara wants more from her husband as she begins to fall in love with him as she senses he has deep reciprocal feelings that he tries to hide. This paranormal gothic historical romance grips the audience with the suspense from the moment that Sara wonders about why would her new husband marry and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line is action-packed, but driven by the courageous heroine who refuses to accept rejection curse or not. Though most readers will ironically know what the curse is long before Sara does, fans will appreciate this atmospheric Regency.

Waiting for the Rainbow
Dana George
ISBN: 0843956178, $5.99

In 1886 Johnstown, Pennsylvania Charlotte Lange mourns the loss of her grandparents gaining solace only from miner Braedan Egan. A good person, Braedan assures that the fourteen years old Charlotte, her kin and his younger brother have food on their table and a roof over their heads. Charlotte who has always looked up towards Braedan now fully idolizes him; she dreams of one day becoming his wife. Her dreams burst three years later when the nearby dam collapses flooding everything and killing many. She prays for her loved ones including Braedan, who feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. As Braedan thinks of giving up, Charlotte becomes his foundation through her belief that together they can overcome this calamity and any others they must face. Though a well-written inspirational romance showcasing how the strong survive calamities, WAITING FOR THE RAINBOW is much more. In this reviewer's opinion the tale is a deep historical fiction work as readers obtain a powerful look at Johnstown just prior to, during and after the infamous 1889 flood. Dana George provides a vivid thriller that will inspire her audience as her lead couple overcomes much seeking the rainbow at the end of the calamity.

Savage Vision
Cassie Edwards
ISBN: 0843952717, $6.99

In 1851 Chief Hawke of the Caddo tribe feels like thunder struck his heart when he first sees Scarlett; the feisty independent white woman feels the same way as the warrior has immediately entered her soul. Both know any relationship between an Indian warrior and the white woman daughter of the sheriff is forbidden by their respective cultures. Meanwhile a shipwrecked pirate manages to abduct Hawke and Scarlett, but they manage to escape. While her father seeks to halt drug trafficking, his mail order bride leaves every morning to come home inebriated and stoned. One morning Scarlett follows her, but lands in trouble with opium peddlers, but Hawke saves the life of the brave woman he loves. However, will this couple allow their respective societal taboo keep them apart? Fans of the latest Savage tale will enjoy Cassie Edward's latest tale that is ironically refreshed by a pirate, but that subplot fails to come across as generating any realism. Sometimes you get what you wish for as this reviewer has asked for modification to the Savage saga. The story line outside of the piratical subplot is typical Edwards; which denotes a well written star-crossed love story starring two solid characters and some bad dudes, who live to cause trouble for the protagonists and his tribe. Fans of the author will love her newest Americana.

Dear Penelope
Sharon Ihle
ISBN: 0843955996, $6.99

In 1896, Lucy Preston arrives from Kansas City to Emancipation, Wyoming only to be rescued by Sebastian Cole from a goring by a rampaging bull. When her fiance fails to meet her at the train station, Lucy strolls to Charlie's Bakery owned by her future husband. However, to her shock, Charlie's worker turns out to be his fiance Cherry. Lucy leaves the bakery in shock and heads to the only other location she knows about besides the station, Sebastian's Pearly Gates Saloon. She quickly persuades Seb to hire her at his saloon and begins an advice column Ask Penelope for the local newspaper. When her family demands her return to Kansas City, she asks Seb to marry her in a marriage of convenience. Though he does not trust women, both want more as their attraction to one another is very strong and turns to love, but she has one secret from her beloved that once revealed could end their relationship; she is DEAR PENELOPE. Highly regarded Sharon Ihle provides a fantastic western romance starring two wonderful individuals who readers will adore. Especially enlightening is the heroine who wants to be loved, love back, and yet maintain her independence. In her two personas the feisty Lucy makes the tale, but the letters to and responses by Penelope are what truly refresh the plot. Fans and reviewers will be writing to praise Ms. Ihle for a fine unique tale.

Taylor Jones
ISBN: 084395616X, $6.99

After several years in India, Captain Brendan Kincaid returns to England to obtain his inheritance. However, he quickly learns that his situation is not quite that simple as a stipulation for him to inherit is that he must marry one of three chosen eligible females. Miss Henrietta Purcell flees the countryside to avoid the amorous advances of Reverend Cecil Thacker, who arrogantly demands she marry him. In London she meets the handsome haughty captain, but though attracted to him, refuses to deal with another overly-opinioned self-aggrandizing hunk. Brendan wants to ignore the exasperating rustic, but cannot get her out of mind. He knows selecting her means overcoming her rejection of him, her infatuation of the writer Felix Blackstone, and forfeiting his inheritance; no wonder he believes love is a lot of trouble. Henrietta is a refreshing lead protagonist as she flees the illicit advances of one male only to meet a hunk, but her desires reside with an author she never met. Brendan has his own dilemma as his inheritance leaves him no apparent wiggle room, but his heart (and his betraying body) says Henrietta is the woman for him in spite of her denial that he is for her. Though the story line becomes typical Regency, RADIANT is a fun tale due to the loving battle between the lead couple.

The Perfect Wife
Lynsay Sands
ISBN: 084395499X, $6.99

Avelyn fears that her physical built and mental independence will leave her beloved new husband Paen Gerville loathing her. She feels she is too fat for any man to desire her as razor thin is in and she is the opposite. On top of that she is used to having her way so she can not be subservient to her spouse. Paen wants a woman with love handles as he can not stand the stick figures that are the prevalent way of the in crowd. He prefers meat on his woman. He also likes a lady who is not afraid to speak her mind in and out of the boudoir. Avelyn tries to hide her curves and struggles to fit what she believes are the image of THE PERFECT WIFE. As her efforts lead to embarrassing failures, Paen is ready to give up on marriage as he wants the woman who will tell him he is wrong if she believes so and enjoys an active tussle in bed with him, which he thought would be Avelyn. This amusing medieval romance contains a serious message to be yourself and not try to be someone your not just because you believe that is what your soul mate desires. Paen is a fantastic person who wants the real Avelyn as his partner, but begins to wonder if his conception of her is wrong she acts simpering and inane instead of witty and intelligent. He is ready to give up on love and just settling for less. Avelyn seems in some ways like a modern female trying to fit the image of THE PERFECT WIFE (and woman). Fans will enjoy Lynsay Sands' deep historical.

Kissing in the Dark
Wendy Lindstrom
ISBN: 0843955074, $6.99

Faith Wilhelm moves to Fredonia, New York accompanied by her eccentric aunts, her younger brother, and her daughter trying to start over. She immediately opens up a herbalist shop and goes out of her way to avoid a scandal. Sheriff Duke Grayson desires Faith from the first moment he sees the healer; she reciprocates but sees only troubles if she pursues anything with the handsome lawman, who senses something is not right with the woman. Still in spite of her avoiding him, he seems to always be there for her and her family. When he injures his shoulder, Duke turns to Faith for healing, but wants much more as he loves her, her zany matchmaking aunts and her beguiling daughter. The fourth 1870s Grayson historical romance (see LIPS THAT TOUCH MINE, THE LONGING and SHADE OF HONOR) is a fabulous tale that brings to life Upstate New York through the eyes of a beleaguered woman trying to start over. Faith is the center of the vivid story line as she holds her family tighter in spite of their previous trials before coming to Freedonia and struggles with her heart's desire as she trusts no man. Duke enlists her zany aunts (they bring comic relief) and her daughter to assist his quest as he loves the newcomer; proving it by not locking up her brother when he gets into some trouble. Wendy Lindstrom is in top form with her latest Grayson gold.

In Shadows
Chandler McGrew
ISBN: 0553586041, $6.99, 416 p.

Near Galveston Bay, police officer Jake Crowley meets Reever hoping he will give him information to bring down two of Houston's most powerful crime lords. Gunfire erupts when the Torrio siblings arrive; Jake kills Jose Torrio. He finds himself holding the amethyst that Jose was wearing and when he jumps into the bay he hears the whispers that send him running from his hometown, leaving the only woman he ever loved behind because he didn't want to involve her with his madness. When the gunfire stops, Jimmy Torrio escapes but most of the other criminals are dead. His cousin from Crowley calls Jason to tell him his Uncle Albert was murdered; Jake returns to the home he abandoned over a decade ago. Jake and other people hear whispers and see shadows of a being that kills in a gruesome manner. Jake reunites with his lost love Mandi and her son Pierce; a genius though blind and deaf can fix any appliance or vehicle. He is the one who realizes the stone that Jake took from Jose is important in getting rid of the creature and ending the curse but Jake must also must deal with the mundane matter of Jimmy who wants to kill the man who murdered his brother Jose. What starts out as a crime thriller quickly turns into a horror novel that is so scary, the audience will read IN SHADOWS with all the lights left on. Mandi's son Pierce is a special child with a good heart, a strong sense of right and wrong and is the key to the mystery of Crowley's curse. His choice to give up what he desires most so that others may live will bring tear to the eyes of the reader. This is horror fiction at its most chilling making Chandler McGrew a worthy successor to Stephen King.

Getting Old Is Murder
Rita Lakin
ISBN: 0440242584, $6.99, 336 pp.

Based on thirty years of reading mysteries retired librarian Gladdy Gold believes a serial killer is murdering the residents of her Lauderdale Lakes retirement community. The cops assume that the increase in deaths is caused by the age of the residents, seventies and older for the most part. However, she does nothing about this until her best friend Francie dies in a fittingly manner for her: death by chocolate. Unable to accept that the healthy Francie just keeled over due to age, Gladdy and her four remaining gladiators begin investigating though their joints hurt and they must be in bed by 9:00. As they get closer to the truth that a serial killer is cleverly murdering the residents, Gladdy concocts a plan to catch this murdering putz (universal usage) although the gladiators keep thinking oy! vey! GETTING OLD FOR MURDER is a terrific cozy filled with elderly Yiddish chick lit humor. The story line is mostly told by Gladdy, but contains a host of other individuals with plenty of kvetches and of course Gladdy's GAS (geriatric amateur sleuths) gang. Fans of South Florida who-done-its starring septuagenarian and octogenarian retirees trying to keep their medicines straight will enjoy Rita Lakin's amusing tale.

Night Secrets
S.A. Martin
New Concepts Publishing
5202 Humphreys Rd., Lake Park, GA 31636
ISBN: 1586083163, $TBA

Upon the death of her mother the queen two years ago, Keriam began to leave her body to travail the astral plane and to read the thoughts of anyone she touches. This proves quite handy when her spirit overhears a plot led by courier Roric Gamal to assassinate her father the king. However, she cannot reveal her findings because the ability to leave one's body is considered witchcraft, which means burning at the stakes. She feels her only hope to save her beloved sire is to learn more of the treasonous plot from Roric. She never anticipated falling in love with her father's betrayer. Having learned of the assassination plot, Roric has joined the traitors hoping to stop them. He finds he is falling in love with the king's daughter, but also believes she does not trust him although he does not know why. Finally he senses that the princess might dabble in magic, a skill he detests as evil ever since his wife and son were killed by sorcery. Together they might save the life of the king, which is their shared objective; but neither has faith in the other so separately they will probably fail. NIGHT SECRETS is a terrific romantic fantasy starring two heroic protagonists distrusting their feelings as the evidence seems to confirm that the other is dangerous; interestingly in spite of her skills to read the feelings and thoughts of others, Keriam wonders if her desires interfere with her talent. Though the key secondary cast is three dimensional adding depth to the action-adventure of whether the monarch is saved or murdered, the tale belongs to the couple struggling between love and their fears that their beloved belongs to the dark side.

Where God was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion
Bruce Feiler
ISBN: 0060574879, $26.95

As he did with the prequel WALKING THE BIBLE: A JOURNEY BY LAND THROUGH THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES, Bruce Feiler combines a tour guide of biblical locations with intriguing annotations and "sermons" lifted from ancient times but also includes modern events. WHERE GOD WAS BORN: A JOURNEY BY LAND TO THE ROOTS OF RELIGION starts with Joshua and continues on through to the Babylonian captivity an d the Diaspora written by a fine author who describes what he observes first hand. Well written with incredible insight somewhat thanks to archeological companion Avner Goren, readers will appreciate this fabulous journey that goes way beyond just Israel's' borders as the author finds greatness in the non-Jewish Semite cultures of the region as much as he embraces being a Jew. Because he and Mr. Goren are not armchair travelers, but instead visit the locales described, this superb reference work and his previous excellent nonfictions are inspirational for us religious moderates who believe in tolerance for all; suicidal extremists or intelligent designers who share in common their faith is the divine one need to pass as these groups will reinterpret the simple underlying moral message of Mr. Feiler's strong belief in the words of the bible.

Out of Tune
Lorie Ham
Publish America
ISBN: 1413788416, $19.95, 322 pp.

When mean, manipulative and cruel Edna Harms receives a threatening letter she is so afraid she decides to host a memorial service for her husband who she buried in Kenya. The whole family gathers in Donlyn, California to attend the service and even Alexandra Walter cuts short her trip to attend the service and spend time with the extended family. At the service, the chandelier falls almost hitting Edna while Mrs. Kliewer suddenly collapses and is rushed to the hospital and is later pronounced dead. Edna expects her family to watch her compete in the bike race but during the event, someone twice puts something in her water causing her momentary discomfort. A motorcycle almost mows her down and hers tires are cut. Since nobody in the family likes Edna, everyone is under suspicion; the detective on the case seems to believe that Mrs. Kliewer was murdered and that someone is getting away with a homicide while everyone is concentrating on Edna's troubles. Alex investigates both cases much to the chagrin of Will, a detective on the force who is romantically interested in her and her boyfriend Stephen who is worried about her safety. Anyone who likes an exciting amateur sleuth who-done-it should read OUT OF TUNE. Lorrie Ham is a very talented writer who has put amazing plot twists in her storyline so that readers never lose interest in the tale. The protagonist is torn between her growing feelings for Will and her relationship with Stephen while raising her five year old daughter. Adding to her personal dilemma is deciding what kind of job she wants because her profession singing on tour takes too much time away from her daughter.

As Dog Is My Witness
Jeffrey Cohen
Bancroft Press
P.O. Box 65360, Baltimore, Md. 21209
ISBN: 1890862436 $16.95, 280 pp.

Michael Huston is walking the family dog Dalma the Dalmatian one night, eager to get back to his wife when a person wearing a hood so he isn't recognizable shoots and kills him. The police go to gun experts twenty-two year old Justin for some information about the gun that killed Michael and find the gun in his room. He admits to killing the man but doesn't give a motive and since Justin has Asperger's syndrome, the police aren't interest in the why of it. Freelance writer Aaron Tucker becomes involved when his friend Lori Shery, the founder and president of ASPEN, asks him to find the real killer since he has successfully solved two homicides that baffled the police. While Aaron tries to help Justin, he is coping poorly with his detestable visiting in-laws, dealing with a New Jersey Jewish mafia chieftain who knows more about the case than he is saying, and helping out a friend whose work is being sabotaged. In addition to all these jobs, he must squeeze in some time on his paying job, revising his screen play. Readers who like a wholesome who done it with no blood, gore or profanity will definitely wants to read the entire series Aaron Tucker mystery novels. AS DOG IS MY WITNESS is the best work in this charming and often humorous series because the who-done-it is superbly constructed with quite a few viable suspects but readers also learn and understand somewhat what Asperger's syndrome is and how it impacts the entire family.

Paulo J Reyes
ISBN: 0595336523, $24.95

A year ago a DUI killed his beloved wife Leana, leaving ER physician Dr. Max Kroose to raise their two preadolescent children alone except for their nanny Esmeralda. After dropping the kids at school, Dr. Kroose expects a normal day of traumas and tragedy. As always, ER is overwhelmed so when his son takes a nasty spill at school, but is okay he has no time to pick him up. A patient arrives with strange symptoms that reminds Max somewhat of smallpox yet seems more powerful than a disease most people thought eradicated. As the clock ticks, Max becomes increasingly convinced that they are dealing with a lethal strand of smallpox. He fails to persuade the skeptical bottom line hospital administrator Kilgorn to arrange mass vaccination to prevent a pandemic spread. His only chance resides with his friend a bio-weapons researcher, but even if he somehow receives help, Max knows that the potential for spreading has walked out the hospital door numerous times. This is a gut wrenching medical thriller that centers on how relatively easy the spread of a bio-weapon can occur in this country. Max keeps the story line realistic and together as he goes from the daily troubles of a single dad who has had no time to mourn his loss to fears for his two children and others from a stalking killer. His frustrations mount as he fails to convince anyone that vaccination is needed as the health system calculates the cost as greater than the risk. Paulo J. Reyes provides a SLEDGEHAMMER to a system that set up to insure mass failure when (not if) the crisis happens.

Bank Job
Steve Brewer
Intrigue Press
ISBN: 1890768650, $24.00, 234 pp.

Leon and Junior Daggett are dimwitted petty criminals who are robbing gas stations and liquor stores waiting for the big score to come along. Sociopath Roy Wade loves to kill people with his bare hands; thus he is the leader of this motley crew. When Junior is assigned his first big job of robbing a liquor store in upstate California, the two owners bloody him up forcing him to up escape with nothing to show for his efforts. Bleeding heavily and needing medical attention the trio drive until they reach the secluded home of Vince and Maria. They force Maria at gunpoint to take care of Junior while Vince, trying to connect with them so they won't kill him or his wife, tells them he is a retired bank robber. They force him to rob a bank by holding Maria hostage but Vince is smart and has many more years of experience so he intends to outwit these criminals because he knows that if does what they ask, they will kill him and his wife after the heist. Vince is a suave urbane man in his seventies who can't get help from the police because he broke parole and if caught will spend the rest of his days behind bars. The way he plays these idiots is a virtuoso performance and readers will think of Carry Grant when they picture him. There is plenty of action and the pace is so fast readers will feel like they are on the space shuttle. Steve Brewer has written a funny and entertaining crime caper in which it takes a thief to catch a thief or three.

Balloons Can Be Murder
Connie Shelton
Intrigue Press
ISBN: 189076860X, $24.00, 234 pp.

Just prior to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, balloonist Rachel Fairfield hires RJP Investigations to keep her safe while she tries to set an altitude record in three days. Rachel shows sleuth Ron Parker and his sister Charlie two threatening letters that she received in the last couple of weeks. She insists her estranged father William sent the notes because her testimony sent him to prison when she was a teen and the wording is his. Ron explains that his agency is too small to protect her from an assassin amidst a crowd of 50,000, but the client says to just keep an eye on her dad, recently released form prison. Charlie, whose marriage to firefighting helicopter pilot Drake Langston has problems, looks into alternative threats of which there are two possibilities, an abusive former lover and a person accusing her of costing him his inheritance while Ron looks into William's activities. Neither Parker expected the incidents to turn increasingly dangerous towards their client nor themselves, as someone is trying to insure that Rachel fails at all costs. The latest Charlie Parker case is a fabulous private investigative thriller that also contains a powerful subplot centering on the heroine's estranged relationship with her spouse as both fails to communicate what disturbs them. The protection of Rachel is intriguing as the Parkers know they cannot keep her safe if she is going airborne during the gala, but try their best to watch the known threats. Connie Shelton brings the air balloon rave and its New Me xico locales alive as fantastic backdrop to this enchanting thriller.

Involuntary Witness
Gianrico Carofiglio
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738079, $13.95

Criminal lawyer Guido Guerrieri hates his life starting with his work to defend criminals and ending in his personal life in which his wife has left him. He cannot sleep and eats poorly and forget about a social life as that is non existent. The unrelenting self imposed pressure takes it toll when the insomniac attorney suffers panic attacks and depression. When a nine year old boy is found raped, murdered and dumped at the bottom of a well in southern Italy, the police arrest a Senegalese nomadic peddler. Guido decides to serve as the defense counsel in what looks like a locked and shut case. As Guido works the system, he realizes he is battling more than just a murder rap. He finds almost everyone involved on the other side is not color blind as anti-immigration fervor has led to racism against the growing Africa expatriate population in the area. As his own paranoia and phobias grow, Guido still works on providing a reasonable defense for his client all odds even though he would bet on the opposition. Though the action is limited and sleuthing almost non existent, this incredible Italian legal thriller packs quite a wallop as Gianrico Carofiglio makes the case that racism by its nature destroys justice. The story line is character driven especially by the battle fatigued Guido. He is so mentally frail he is the last person one would expect to stand up for what is right especially on a murder case, which in turn takes its toll on the defense team meaning the beleaguered lawyer. INVOLUNTARY WITNESS is a terrific tale leading to fans wanting more translations from this awesome author.

Angelina's Children
Alice Ferney
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738109, $13.95

Though they have not left French soil in four centuries, the Gypsies have always been nomadic; however modern society with its demands on documents makes moving around quite difficult so this particular band headed by a widow settles down in an abandoned garden. The townsfolk are irate that these filthy squatters reside nearby. However, the Gypsy matriarch Angelina, her five sons, her four daughter-in-laws, and her grandchildren ignore the pressure to leave. One townie librarian Esther Duvaux begins arriving at the encampment to read stories to the children though Angelina's sons, especially the oldest and unmarried Angelo assumes the worst of their persistent visitor. However, his mother, seeing deep inside the soul of Esther, realizes the librarian risks the wrath of her family, friends, and neighbors out of a desire to help the itinerant children; she challenges everyone including the gypsi es to allow the oldest grandchild to attend school. The locals want Angelina, her children, and grandchildren to leave and settle near someone else's home. ANGELINA'S CHILDREN is an excellent tale that condemns the hypocrisy of western society's claims of a melting pot that welcomes the poor, downtrodden etc. The welcome mat extends as long as the masses fit into a safe restricted comfort zone defined by the insiders. Think how many of us support rehab centers just not on our block or encourage building that nuclear reactor on a ranch in Crawford, Texas to supply us in Georgia. Esther is a courageous individual defying everyone to forge a friendship with Angelina while the secondary ensemble displays the mutual distrust between the Gypsies and the local French. Alice Ferney provides a thought-provoking tale about hugging differences rather than spitting on them.

In Matto's Realm
Friedrich Glauser
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738060, $13.95

In the late 1920s in Bern, Dr. Ernst Laduner specifically asks to see Detective Sergeant Jakob Studer as they met in Vienna though the cop does not remember the psychiatrist. Laduner informs Studer that a patient Peter Pieterlen, a child murderer, escaped from the Randlingen Psychiatric Clinic; Studer concludes the psychiatrist is performing a classic CYA especially since another patient director Ulrich Borstli vanished. Studer questions those on duty when Borstli allegedly disappeared and Pieterlen escaped from the asylum. As he continues his investigation in the boiler room, he discovers the murdered corpse of Borstli, whose neck is broken. While his superior and the psychiatrist claim that the murdering maniac Pieterlen killed Borstli before fleeing the crime scene, Studer thinks otherwise. The psychological theories brought forth to accuse the missing patient as the killer makes him wonder if someone is hiding the homicide behind psychological theory that sounds more like mumbo jumbo. IN MATTO'S REALM is a dark period piece police procedural that grips the audience from the moment Studer enters the clinic and never lets go as the sleuth realizes those inside reflect those outside. The strong story line is cast-driven as the audience obtains a deep look at a 1920s German mental asylum accompanied by the prevalent psychological theories of the day. The who-done-it is shrewdly developed so that readers receive a fine detective story used to provide a look at a psychiatric clinic by an insider as author Friedrich Glauser spent time in psychiatric wards where he began his writing career.

Marlon Brando, Donald Cammell
ISBN: 1400044715, $23.95

In 1927, fifty-one years old Captain Anatole "Annie" Doultry serves six-months in Victoria Gaol in Hong Kong for violating the Arms and Ammunition Ordinance of 1900. Honk King enjoys being the market place of the Pacific where items such as the gun shipment Annie legally brought with him was bona fide cargo heading to Shantung, Republic of China, but he got an offer in the city that he could not refuse. Thus he is doing "soft" time for selling without a license. While in prison he saves the life of Hai Sheng, accused of piracy, by claiming the Chinaman is his cook. Once Annie completes his sentence that whimsical good deed he performed for Hai brings him to the attention of the criminal's mob boss Madame Lai Choi San, better known as Mountain of Wealth. She offers Annie a deal to join her in hi-jacking the British ship SS Chow Fa, carrying a fortune in silver. Of course Annie cannot resist the lure of the booty or the siren call of Lai. The adventure and danger on the high seas has just begun. This is a terrific "throwback" action-packed pirate saga filled with atmosphere of 1920s Hong Kong and China while starring a larger than life roguish anti-hero mindful of Captain Blood but in the Pacific. The support cast especially the mysterious and enticing Madame Lai augments the feeling that the audience is visiting the early twentieth century Asiatic Pacific rim while also allowing the readers to better understand the Scotsman. FAN-TAN is a fabulous adventure tale.

The Time of the Uprooted
Elie Wiesel
ISBN: 1400041724, $25.00

In 1939, Germany is cleansing Czechoslovakia of the Jewish problem forcing the Friedmans to flee their home for Hungary. The Nazis soon march into Budapest where they continue to implement the final solution. Hoping to keep their son safe, the Friedmans leave their child Gamaliel with a young Christian cabaret singer Ilonka. She keeps him safe until the war ends. Gamaliel ultimately leaves Hungary and settles in New York. Though residing in America for decades, Gamaliel feels displaced, a man without a country. Family life failed him as his wife committed suicide and his daughters hate him and he lost all contact with Ilonka years ago when she seems to have vanished. Work is unfair as he ghost writes for others to gain accolades. He has five fellow lost souls, who can tell interchangeable survival tales and only having to substitute names because their stories are ident ical. His only solace is the manuscript he has written Secret Book; life is miserable as he feels like a drifting refugee with no place to call home until a doctor asks him to talk with an ailing elderly woman who only speaks Hungarian. Nobel Prize winning Elie Wiesel provides a well written but bleak look at the plight of the nation-less displaced people who once removed from their roots never find homes. Gamaliel is terrific as he reflects back on his melancholy life as a symbolism of all the refugees dislocated and relocated at the whims of the powerful and never knowing when if ever to settle in anticipation of the next dislocation. This is a desolate look at humanity even with a somewhat uplifting climax.

Mick Foley
ISBN: 1400044146, $23.95

In 1964 four year old Scooter Reilly grows up in the Bronx, a borough in flux with the working white middle class fleeing to Long Island. His grandpa, a retired firefighter who lives nearby, is around more than his dad, who works a police beat in Harlem. Dad has two interests: beer and the Yankees; ergo Scooter is named for legendary player Phil Rizzuto. In 1969 dad gets drunk over the Mets not his Yanks winning the World Series. He fires his revolver hitting Scooter in the leg. For the rest of his life Scooter will limp. In 1973, dad's partner is murdered. Raging out of control fueled by beer, he hits his daughter Patty; who suffers permanent brain damage. Upset with his father, Scooter breaks his dad's leg. Four years later they relocate to Long Island, but fastball pitcher Ferraggo faces Scooter on the field while bullying Patty off the field; at the same time Feraggo's sister seduces Scooter. Confrontation and reckoning are coming. Though there is a bias as I grew up in the 1960s Bronx (terrific place) and was still there as the Cross Bronx Express (see THE POWER BROKER: ROBERT MOSES AND THE FALL OF NEW YORK by Caro) and the fire line (SEE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BRONX IS BURNING by Mahler) destroyed the middle class West Bronx by the 1970s, Mick Foley captures the essence of urban decline. The story line is fabulous when it focuses on Scooter growing up just north of Yankee Stadium (Bronx Deco tenement buildings with classic relief and Dutch stoops). The tale loses some momentum towards the end when teenage Scooter has to confront his demons in Long Island, but remains a terrific hist orical saga worth reading.

Lunar Park
Bret Easton Ellis
ISBN: 0375412913, $24.95

Bret Easton Ellis knows he is an egotistical drug abuser, whose dysfunctional relationship with his now deceased abusive father still leaves him unable to hook up with his own son. His former lover, movie star Jayne Dennis offers him redemption through marriage and jointly raising their eleven years old son Robby, whom Bret barely knows. He agrees and the trio along with Jayne's daughter Sarah sired by another freak settle in the New York suburbs while he works on his next porno shocker, Teenage Pussy. Bret cannot cope with the three people he shares a home with especially his distant non-communicative son. He returns to his drug and alcoholic past while chasing college student Aimee. That is until the weirdness begins starting with Terby the mechanical bird suddenly like Chucky coming alive ready to harm all. Neighbor boys vanish, e-mail from his dad's ashes arrive, and gruesome murders from out of his novel AMERICAN PSYCHO haunt the town as much as the spirit haunting Ellis's house demands he writes the sobering paranoid truth; hence this novel. This novel is best for those readers who know Bret Easton Ellis's writing career and "brat pack" days of LESS THAN ZERO in which the author and his cronies symbolize the acceptable excesses of the Reagan Era. The story line lampoons the writer as he stars in an autobiographical fiction in which uses real people that he knew and events to tell his self parody that critiques and criticizes his celebrity status now that he no longer can claim the folly of youthful self indulgence. Terrific biographical fiction just not for everyone as the knowing the "Brat Pack" is a great part of the fun.

Blood Red
James A. Moore
Earthling Publications
ISBN: 0976633914, $40.00, 331 pp.

Black Stone Bay is a quaint, affluent town filled with more mansions than regular homes and is the home of two Ivy League universities. Two weeks before Halloween Jason Soulis moves into the small Rhode Island town and his coming will change Black Stone Bay forever. Soulis is no ordinary man but a vampire with a brilliant mind who knows how to survive and intends to use the inhabitants in his experiments. College student Maggie Preston pays her tuition by prostituting herself. Soulis hires her through her pimp for the night. He wants her to seduce all the clergy in town which she does quickly and easily. Ben, who lives in the same building as Maggie, loves her even when he discovers her profession. She fears making a commitment while she has been with Soulis. Maggie turns into a vampire during a frat party that turns into a blood bath but Ben cleans her up and cares for her until she wakes up. When they confront Soulis, he explains that exchanging bodily fluids turned Maggie into a thinking vampire like him. On Halloween night, he frees the missing people that were turned into vampires to see what they will do. Ben has won Maggie over so she tries to keep him alive during the feeding frenzy. BLOOD RED is a complex, imaginative and deep vampire novel that readers will believe will become a classic like Stephen King's SALEM'S LOT. The characters are three dimensional and even the vampires have the personality they had when they were alive instead of becoming two dimensional caricatures. James A. Moore has proven with his latest novel that he is one of the grandmasters of the horror genre.

Riverside Blues
Erik Tomblin
Earthling Publications
PO Box413, Northbourough, Ma.01532
ISBN: 0976633922, $14.00

In South Georgia, fifty years ago, Lily, the wife of Gordon Lyles vanished without a trace. Unable to move on, he sleeps in the den and never ventures into their bedroom at least until now. He goes in seeking soap for a shower, but hears whispers and hastily leaves the room once he has what he needed. To keep his mind from wandering about what happened to the woman he still grieves, Gordon visits their romantic spot by the nearby river. This time more alert than in years after his soap quest Gordon finds a clue that shakes him to his core as the truth begins to free him from the lies he never challenged for five decades. Gordon makes this deep psychological thriller work as the audience feels his loss even after all this time and his grief as we mourn with him, and most of all hurt for his failure to live since Lily disappeared; readers will want what is best for him, but we do not really know what that is. Though now a septuagenarian, he finally is beginning to find his way, but what he learns will increase his rage at his helplessness yet he conjures up the only way out for him while avenging what really happened. RIVERSIDE BLUES is a gloomy atmospheric tale that leaves fans stunned and wanting more stimulating novels that evoke emotion and thought.

Apocalypse Now, Voyager
Jay Russell
Earthling Publications
ISBN: 0974420387, $TBA

In Long Beach, California, former child star Marty Burns is drinking in Haw Haw's when a naked lady with a burned bush sits next to him. She introduces herself as Annie de Beuvoir and asks Marty to walk with her. He gives her his coat and they leave. However, someone knocks Marty out using a rotted piece of meat, ties him up, and puts him in a shopping cart with a dead Annie underneath him. The crazed woman who hogtied him pushes him upriver past Vibiana and the Lost Boys who recognize Marty as the Medicine man. The duo next meets the Hondo Hounds including Marty's old pal Guy Bradley but must keep trekking, but Cat People and Toypurina stand in the way of attaining the other side with the corpse. This is a terrific allegorical satire that will have horror and fantasy readers enthralled as everyman Marty in total denial is forced on a quest through a weird world on one of those "cherry-poppin" full moon type of evenings. While tied to a dead woman, he runs the gamut that takes him through a surreal section of Southern California. At each challenge, the weirdness grows and the readers attention deeper wondering what is going on and will Marty survive Jay Russell's strange but entertaining journey into the eeriness that lurks around the corner just beyond the darkness.

Conrad Williams
Earthling Publications
ISBN: 0974420328, $14.00

In London Eachus abducts Liam and informs the lad's sister Rache and his girlfriend Fi that they are to do his bidding to the exact letter or he will slowly drain the blood from his hostage. He orders them to murder three people he holds culpable for his doing time in prison. At the same time that Fi and Rache follow orders starting with butchering a pig, Ness seeks to save her former lover Oban from a brutal tragedy because she is afflicted with the curse of being an Arrester who foresees something bad happening to him. While the three females travel their two paths, Eachus keeps seeing a vision of a kid who he fears to the core of his darkened soul as he believes if he meets this boy he meets his doom. The women will soon interconnect as Oban is a chosen one of Eachus even as the blood drips out of Liam one pint at a time. GAME is a gripping dark horror (is that an oxymoron?) that hooks the audience into reading this novella in one sitting as fans will wonder who will be left standing in Conrad William's 24 hours of terrorist extortion. The strong story line contains two prime subplots that interweave in an exhilarating climax plus a smaller strand involving Eachus and the kid. The key is that Eachus comes across so amoral that the audience can vividly picture him draining blood from Liam. Though the use of a late circumstantial quirk enables one last climatic twist to occur, readers of extremely sinister psychological and physical horror tales will want to join the ladies on their "joyride" through London.

Crash Course: Imagining A Better Future For Public Education
Chris Whittle
Riverhead (Putnam)
ISBN: 1594489025, $24.95

Chris Whittle who runs the Edison Schools makes a strong case for how to improve public education without using phony gimmicks. He debunks many myths such as smaller sized classrooms pointing to Japan as a counter argument and makes a strong case of bringing some business techniques into the school system such as doubling salaries especially for super teachers and empowering students to learn by giving them the tools and getting out of the way instead of dumbing down. This does not mean lack of discipline. This work is well written and very interesting especially the use of statistics that showcase how pervasive the problem of our schools failing truly is (six sigma anyone?) and seemingly debunks myths. Mr. Whittle does not do the usual bashing as he agrees good people with good intentions are trying their best, but failing so that instead of no kids are be being left behind one third never reaches the starting point to be even considered left behind (in the ooze below the food chain). In fairness, this reviewer is not an educator so cannot provide valid counterpoints to Mr. Whittle's easy to read seemingly logical treatise on reengineering public education for the good of everyone (not just a hand full of vouchers). Parents, educators , and anyone concerned, which should be all of us, will want to read Mr. Whittle's enlightening discourse.

The Scorpion's Gate
Richard A. Clarke
ISBN: 0399152946, $24.95, 320 pp.

In 2010, Supported by the Chinese, a coup has taken out the despotic leaders of Saudi Arabia replacing it with the Republic of Islamyah. The zealots in charge begin to bring their anti-western fundamentalist Islamic fervor to nearby Bahrain by blowing up favorite hau nts where the hated infidels reside. The area is quickly falling into chaos with the Chinese pushing for more discontent to further extricate the west out of the region. Secretary of Defense Henry Conrad pushes a military solution to the Middle East crisis as he wants to invade Islamyah so that the United States can regain control of the oil. Others want to take over the entire region by force while some believe we must use diplomacy to mute the growing influence of the Chinese. Though the middle of winter in DC, the heat is on in the capital and not just because the weather is spring-like as both sides escalate the hostilities with nuclear war between the Unite d States and China imminent unless cooler heads prevail. THE SCORPION'S GATE is a fabulous thriller in which anti-terrorist expert Richard A. Clarke extrapolates what the future might hold based on what if consequences of decisions made by the current administration. The story line is frightening as the scenario seems plausible as Mr. Bush's legacy to the world (it will solve the long term solvency of the social security issue). Though Mr. Clarke makes the error of many first time novelists of trying to get everything into the plot, futurologists will appreciate this strong look at what might be forthcoming (who in the 1970s predicted we would still be fighting the war against drugs today?).

Scarlett Thomas
Justin Charles
20 Park Plazza, Moston, Ma.02116
ISBN: 193211209X, $24.95, 320 pp.

In the seaside town of Torquay, eighteen years old twins Alexandra and Laura Carter seem like typical teens until one dies. The police investigation supports an apparent suicide yet in spite of the slashed wrists, some things do not add up properly. First and foremost the suicide note left behind is signed by Laura, but the surviving sister claims she is Laura. Novelist Emma Winters offers successful amateur sleuth university instructor Lily Pascale (see DEAD CLEVER and IN YOUR FACE) ten thousand pounds to determine whether the victim was murdered, who committed the act if it is a homicide, and which twin lives. Though she vowed to never do any more investigations, the money is great and the case interesting so Lily accepts heading to wintry Torquay unaware the danger that awaits her there if she gets too close to the truth. Readers along with the police and others will wonder which teen lives and did the survivor pull a Cain and Abel on her sister. The story line is character driven as Lily investigates the case in the freezing seaside town. Lily is a terrific protagonist as her inquiries make for a fine time for sleuth fans. This is one mystery readers will find fascinating.

The Vesuvius Club
Mark Gatiss
ISBN: 0743283945, $13.00, 240 pp.

At the turn of the twentieth century in London, England, artist Lucifer Box is a renowned rake who also utilizes all his personas as a spy in his majesty's service, blackmailed by the family lawyer into assassinating England's enemies, a job he performs quite well. After debriefing his handler in a public bathroom he is asked to investigate the death of Jocelyn Poop, a diplomat in Naples who spies for England. Poop sent a wire before his death mentioning two scientists studying volcanic activity, dying within days of each other in what looks like natural causes but the coincidence of these deaths so close is very suspicious. The funeral parlor that performed the burial is based in England and Naples. Lucifer visits and opens the coffin of one of the scientists but the body is gone. The other scientist's body is also missing. Believing the answer is in Naples, Lucifer travels there only to encounter THE VESUVIUS CLUB a secret organization that plans to destroy that part of the world unless Lucifer can kill the leaders and stop the ticking time bomb. This is a tongue in cheek version of James Bond only more earthy, decedent and reminiscent of the last depraved days of the Roman Empire. The protagonist is a very naughty man who is a hedonist at heart and gets his jollies from knowing he is one of the saviors of the British Empire. This is not a book to be taken seriously but a work to be enjoyed for its earthly humor, fun characters, and fine setting.

The Man From Beyond
Gabriel Brownstein
ISBN: 0393051528, $23.95, 320 pp.

In 1922 renowned writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and famous magician Harry Houdini meet over the debate whether spiritualists can communicate with the dead. Doyle believes so while Houdini is a skeptic. In fact at a seance in New Jersey hosted by Doyle's wife, a spiritualist, she makes contact with Houdini's mother. While Doyle defends Margery as a communicator with the dead, who predicts future calamities, Houdini tries to debunk her. While the two men argue the merits of Margery and Lady Doyle, twenty-two years old newspaper reporter Molly Goodman follows them in hope of a scoop. However, the debate seems over before she obtains anything meaty. While doing a magic trick Houdini fails to surface from a locked box dropped in the Hudson River; he actually frees himself but much further upstream, but everyone assumes he is dead. How he plans to reappear in Manhattan and what he will do next needs to decided as he is not finished with the spiritualist. THE MAN FROM BEYOND is a fantastic historical fictionalized account of the age of spiritualism as predominantly seen through the eyes and camera) of the twenty something reporter but also based on real life debates between Doyle the believer and Houdini the skeptic. Readers will feel they are sitting in on a seance hosted by Margery, who's an intriguing character as she predicts future events instead of communicating between loved ones from the other side. Though a villain adds suspense, historical fans will wonder why bother as this terrific 1920s tale robustly stands on its spiritual underpinnings.

The Singer's Crown
Elaine Isaak
ISBN: 0060782536, $14.95, 480 pp.

In 1215 in the Kingdom of Lochalyn, Thorgir murders his brother the king, kills his nephews except the youngest prince Rhys, and when his sister in law Queen Caitrin refuses to cooperate, he slays her too; none are buried properly. He completes his dastardly coup by having a surgeon insure that Rhys would never have whelps and he would qualify as a singer with the Virgins of the Goddess. In 1229 Rhys knows he cannot fight for the throne since he cannot produce heirs. Instead he makes a living as a singer; his current patron Baron Eadmund gives him as a courting gift to seventeen years old Princess Melisande. Normally avoiding anything that stirs the testicles, Rhys the eunuch finds he wants Melisande as his. However, he knows that cannot be, but will die to keep her safe. He will soon test his fortitude when the Baron is killed, Melisande's hounds murdered and her father bewitched by the wizard who enabled Rhys' uncle to kill his family so easily. THE SINGER'S CROWN is a terrific romantic fantasy starring a wonderful hero, a fabulous princess, and a dastardly killing villain. The story line is action-packed, but character driven from the moment that Caitrin tries to save her only living child from his uncle and never slows down as he must choose between his beloved song and the dreaded consequences of love. Though readers will wonder why Thorgir allowed Rhys to live though removing a future threat, fans will take immense pleasure in this powerful tale of betrayal and love in a realm in which wizardry seems so real that the audience is beguiled.

Angel and Apostle
Deborah Noyes
ISBN: 1932961100, $23.95

In 1649, Pearl knows her mother Hester Prynne spent time in the stocks and has been condemned as a fallen woman by her Puritanical neighbors; The Scarlet letter engraved on her by a dutiful priest represents intolerance. Her sire Dimmesdale may have felt some guilt about abandoning his lover and hiding the truth about siring his daughter, but though he marvels at Hester's courage in his journals, he never mentions her by name as if spelling out the letters Hester would mean acknowledging his part in her downfall. Pearl grows up in Europe far from where her mother was accused and condemned. However, everyone knows she is a child born out of wedlock and some feel her father is the devil; all treats her accordingly. Pearl has learned to trust no one as she depends on herself to overcome the intolerance of others. Over the years she becomes a wife and mother living in England and America, but though in love never quite loses her distrust of everyone even those inside her heart. Though Pearl acts more like a modern woman at times, fans of the classic Hawthorne tale will fully want to read this powerful sequel that takes some poetic license with the key cast members especially Pearl. The story line follows up on the climax to The Scarlet Letter as the audience learns about Pearl's life in mid to late seventeenth century Europe and America where intolerance remains steadfast. Historical readers will appreciate this deep look at an era through the eyes of a woman who struggles to overcome her place beneath the food chain by a society that damned her mother for having her.

The Mayor of Lexington Avenue
James Sheehan
Yorkville Press
1202 Lexington Ave. #315, NY, NY 10028
ISBN: 097674421X, $14.95

In 1986 Bass Creek, Florida, Geronimo Cruz is drinking when he sees someone leave the trailer of Lucy Ochoa. He enters her abode to ask her who the youngster is, but she insists he was only the drunken kid from the convenience store who stayed a few minutes. Geronimo thinks he never expected the loose woman to remain faithful, but lying is unacceptable. He slits her throat. Police Detective Sergeant Wesley Brume hones in on bi-racially Rudy Kelly as the prime suspect; Rudy worries because he had sex with Lucy just before she died. His mother hires lawyer Tracey James, who initially handles the case but drops it when her client can no longer pay her fee. The Cobb County public defender provides a poor defense while the prosecutor Clay Evans and Wes doctor "evidence" to insure that Rudy is convicted of first-degree murder. A decade later with Rudy's execution coming soon, trial lawyer Jack Tobin learns of the case and decides to take it on pro bono, but no one wants to admit that they framed Rudy and much of the trial evidence and related documents is of ficially "unavailable" in a timely manner. THE MAYOR OF LEXINGTON AVENUE is a terrific legal thriller that will grip readers with its strong condemnation of the American capital punishment system. The story line is action-packed though flashbacks to 1950s-1960s New York slow down the pace yet provides the personal impetus for Jack to take on the case. The cast consists of multi dimensional people but the star is the abuse of power by the state in death row cases. Unless you're the state electrician, sub-genre fans will appreciate this deep cautionary thriller.

The Trouble with Tulip
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House
ISBN: 0736914854, $11.99

In Mulberry Glen, Pennsylvania Josephine "Jo" Tulip writes syndicated newspaper column "Tips from Tulip" that provides advice on all sorts of household matters. However, no one not even her grandma who ran the column before her warned or gave any practical guidance to Jo on how to deal with an invasion of relatives arriving for her upcoming marriage to Bradford Bosworth. Though tomorrow is the gala, a wide awake nervous Jo decides to jog though her clock displays 11:48 that is PM. On her run through the deserted streets, she hears an angry loud voice coming from Edna Pratt's home, but keeps on trotting. The next morning Jo's best friend photographer Danny Watkins is taking crime scene photos of a dead Edna in which the police can't identify a solution inside a bucket standing near the corpse. Danny calls Jo to see if she can identify the liquid; Jo immediately runs over to Edna's home to help. While the police assume suicide by strange chemical means, Jo and Danny believe murder occurred. They begin to investigate and soon learn some odd things about the victim and her brother. Because of the strong cast fully developed with flaws, fans of Mindy Starns Clark's wonderful million dollar mysteries and amateur sleuth readers will enjoy her first "Smart Chick Mystery". The key is the characters starting with the bride, her photo partner, the groom, and their respective families including the dog. The who-done-it is cleverly developed with a light sense of humor mostly provided by the heroine as she and her cohort struggle to persuade the police that the queen of solutions know better than the professionals when it comes to the neighbor's corpse.

The Fiercer Heart
Michaela Gilchrist
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743222822, $25.00

In 1838 New York aristocrat Lieutenant Philip Kearny reports to duty at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri where he meets the sister-in-law of the commanding officer, Kentuckian Diana Bullitt. A few years later, he learns that several men are courting her in Louisville so he races there to suddenly propose. She accepts understanding that her mother will sell her into marriage anyway. As he goes off to war seemingly around the world, she mourns the loss of their infant daughter while ignoring his philandering. However, when he loses his arm during the Mexican War, she tries to be by his side, but he lost more than just a limb as the courageous Phillip suffers badly from combat fatigue. Unable to cope with his wild emotions and his women, Diana does the unthinkable for a 1850s southern belle; she divorces Phillip for she chooses freedom to start over in spite of the scorn and danger. Soon the Civil war will further divide loyalties. This is a terrific insightful historical fiction that concentrates on the relationship between Diana and Phillip. The tale goes quite deep into providing a vivid panorama of America in the two decades prior to the Civil War. Through the eyes of the lead duet, and the strong support cast too, fans will taste how ideologically divided the nation was leading up to the war (sounds somewhat familiar today). Fans of powerfully descriptive historical dramas based on true events and people, and genuine nineteenth century documents will want to read this astute look at Antebellum America through the real lives of a famous married couple.

Have Mercy On Us All
Fred Vargas
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743284011, $14.00

Over fourteen years ago, Joss Le Guern complained to the ship owner that the vessel he captained Nor'easter was unsafe. He was told he is to do his job or someone else will. The ship breaks apart; an angry Joss survives and breaks the leg of the owner. Joss is convicted of assault and battery and attempted murder; he spends nine months in prison and his sailing career is over. After spending the next seven years as a drunk, Joss becomes a Parisian town crier. For the past seven years, three times a day he collects messages from his box and calls out the news. However, the message he finds this time claims the Black Death is coming. He takes the note to Chief Inspector Adamsberg, who assumes a hoax is being played on the crier; that opinion changes when he and his subordinate Danglard notice "hex" signs used during the Middle Ages to ward off the disease appearing on doors and a corpse that displays the symptoms of the Plague. Adamsberg takes the threats seriously hoping to stop the Black Death from devastating Paris. HAVE MERCY ON US is a strong translation of a French police procedural thriller. Once Adamsberg realizes the biological terror is potentially real, the pace never slows down. Joss is a terrific character struggling as all whistleblowers seem to dio when they act courageously and challenge authority for behaving illegal or amoral, but in his case guilt leaves him a shadow of himself until now. Adamsberg and Danglard are terrific cops confronting a lethal unknown enemy with no time to spare. Fred Vargas writes a strong thriller that translates quite nicely into a one-sitting adrenalin read.

Promise of the Witch King
R.A. Salvatore
Wizards of the West Coast
PO Box707, Renton, WA 98057-0707
ISBN: 0786938234, $27.95, 352 pp.

Adventurers Jarlaxle the drow dark elf and his human companion Artemis Entreri journey to the untamed land of Vassa on behest of the dragon sisters to find any books of the dead witch-king Zhengyi that surface. Although the lich (a sentimental zombie like creature) is dead, defeated by King Gareth, artifacts of his surface from tim to time and trouble always follows. A half-orc gives his niece Arrayna a book from Zhengyi's library and it works its magic on her, forcing her to travel many miles and utter a spell so that the book can create a fortified castle to house it. The castle and the book is evil and King Gareth's people are sent to destroy it, while the two adventures who are part of the fighting force hope to keep it for themselves. The keep is protected by gargoyles, golems, daemons, mummies and hosts of other evil supernatural entities and when they are not battling they argue with one another. Many have agendas of their own but even if Jarlaxle and Entreri emerge victorious they must fight an enemy wearing the mask of a friend and the true king of the castle. PROMISE OF THE WITCH KING is a spellbinding work of high fantasy where magic and supernatural entities are a part of the culture of the realm. The two protagonists make unlikely heroes though they perform acts of bravery. R.A. Salvatore is a fantastic world builder who creates characters that readers come to care about and puts them in storylines filled with action and intrigue. Just when readers think the book is coming to an end, an unexpected twist adds more intrigue, action and fun to the tale.

Last Dance
Brian Goodwin
ISBN: 1553161378, $5.00

McGuniness University Archeology Professor John Hadden is digging in an isolated forest in Northern Ontario where he believes he is on the verge of a find that will devastate the Eastern Woodland Archeology theories. His academic associates, who failed to support him on his last great find on Amikwa, want to help this time. The university sends a team to include Hadden's concerned teaching assistant Allen Therrien to assist the professor, but they learn he was killed after uncovering the legendary lost city of Lochkray. None of the human party is prepared for what Hadden unwrought. Lochkray is home to creatures that live and feed at night on the souls of the descendents of Adam and Eve. However, more than just legends allegedly created by God after the First Sin, the residents seek their former glory with one particular soul stalking the human prey while the Lochkray leadership seeks the lost sacred source of knowledge and power the Kraell'Haatch. However neither human nor human predator realizes that something else lurks in these remote woods that want to include both species in its food chain. LAST DANCE OF THE LOCHKRAY is a fabulous retelling of the vampire saga using a different twist to the origin and filled with action that never slows down; so much so that the novel feels more like a thriller than a horror tale. The story line takes off after the ensemble cast is introduced (will need a scorecard to keep track of the players at first) and never slows down as night creatures, monsters, and humans confront one another in the Ontario woods. Vampire fans will enjoy this fine Brian Goodwin's fine version of the nightcrawlers.

Kris Saknussemm
ISBN: 0812974166, $14.95, 496 pp.

He wakes up confused as he is not sure who he is, or why he is in the middle of what he assumes is a distorted Central Park, nor how he became middle-aged. He vaguely recalls some childhood moments though they are not lucid and even his humongous by even Deep Throat standard's maleness seems more like an anime. Dubbed Clearfather he travels across America seeking to find himself, but receives no assistance as the federal government has been outsourced to the monopoly drug manufacturer, Vitessa Cultporation. Instead he uncovers disposal sex, massive drug-addiction, combative mutilated lesbian motorcycle gangs, organ donors for breakfast, gay heavyweights and the probable creator, but no Clearfather. ZANESVILLE is an interesting futuristic picture that extrapolates the problems of current day America with two trends losing the drug wars (from within) and outsourcing the entire federal government (Mussolini would enjoy this vision). The panorama is bleak as groups battle one another for a crumb while Big Brother is the future corporation that takes on legendary cult status. The excess battle scenes take away from the prime hyperbole of connecting the dots of the age of Saknussemm with the troubles impacting Americans during the Administration of the first MBA president. Mindful of El Topo, readers of dark gloom and doom allegory thrillers will want to read this cautionary tale.

Magic Tails
Martin Greenberg, Janet Pack (Editors)
ISBN: 0756402883, $7.50

Cats always seem at home in the fantasy (and horror) genre at least in this reviewer's mind since the 1950s Bell, Book, and Candle; so a genre match-up seems natural. This fourteen-book collection stars felines as key players in new renditions of children's fairy tales that target young and aging alike. The contributors are a virtual who's who of fantasy as popular children's tales are turned by their tail. Just a few titles to further explain the lead cat: "Ali Babette", "All the Pigs Houses", "Sleeping Beauties", "The Cobwebbed Princess", and "Cat-Friend", etc. The tales of the tails is a lot of fun for fantasy fans, and of course feline lovers, and cats (trust me they must be able to read if they reside in my house - if they could only review).

The Sword of Angels
John Marco
ISBN: 075640259X, $25.95, 688 pp.

The Akari as a people died out when the country of Jadar killed the pacifist race of scientists and sorcerers. Still many of the Akari live as spirits in a symbiotic relationship with Inhumans (humans possessed by the Akari who make their hosts stronger than they were before the symbiosis took place). Only one Akari was evil and known as the Butcher; his spirit resides in a black suit of armor that Baron Thorin Glass puts on. From that moment on, Thorin Glass is in thrall to the Akari Kahldris and together they join forces with the diamond queen Jazana Carr, using her money and army to take over his homeland of Liiria. Kahldris knows that Lukien, the champion of and protector of Liiria, searches for the Sword Angels, forged by his brother Malator and housing his spirit. As Lukien searches for the sword, the baron's son works to defeat him while the love of his life tries to reason with him and the young man Gilwyn he thinks of as another son tries to reduce Kahldris's influence over him. However, nothing can stop Kahldris from preparing for the final confrontation with his brother that will leave only one of them in the mortal realm. Epic fantasy lovers will find immense pleasure in reading THE SWORD OF ANGELS, a work that is filled with characters that are believable and understandable. Readers will pity the antagonist who though he committed many atrocities, he did them under the influence of the evil Akari. John Marco is one of the best epic fantasists of the twenty-first century and the audience will find immense pleasure in reading the last book in this fantastic series that is filled with action, intrigue and romance.

The Wizard of London
Mercedes Lackey
ISBN: 0756401747, $25.95, 400 pp.

Her missionary parents send their twelve year old daughter from the Congo to England to attend the Harton School for Boys and Girls. Sarah Jane Lyon-White doesn't command Elemental Magic like her parents so she must learn from Isabelle Harton how to use her Talent (psychic powers). The mistress of the school, hers husband and several students are talents that must have a teacher to guide them when their power manifest themselves. Sarah shows signs of being a telepath but at a seance she exposes a fake medium while a spirit possesses her to communicate with another attendee. Sarah's untrained medium skills come to the attention of an Elemental Master who doesn't want the girl to discover the mage is using dead children as revenants. The killer sets a trap but Sarah and her allies defeat the haunt. Isabelle wants to know who is after her charge and she starts asking questions of the Elemental Masters. Her queries bring her to the attention of Elemental Master Lord David Alderscroft, who loved Isabelle before he came under the influence of Lady Cordelia. He then dumped Isabelle and anyone who couldn't be useful to him. His cold heart endangers England and if Isabelle and her friends can't show that he is heading down a dark cold path, it will lead to tragedy for the entire English Empire. Book Four of the Elemental Masters is a magical, spellbinding adult fairy tale. The fabulous fantasy contains the wicked witch, a beautiful queen, her adoring court and a prince who needs to learn how to feel again instead of always manipulating people for his own goals. Mercedes Lackey never fails to write a book that will please her myriad of finds and her latest magical storyline and well developed characters will send readers into euphoria.

Out of Mind
Catherine Sampson
ISBN: 0892968141, $23.95

Following maternity leave to raise her twins now three years old as a sole parent, journalist Robin Ballantyne has returned to work as a TV reporter. Her current assignment focuses on a series of missing persons. When camerawoman Melanie Jacobs vanishes without a trace, Robin promises the distraught mother of her peer to investigate this as part of her work. Robin's inquiries lead to the killing fields of Cambodia but quickly link back to London. She particularly researches what she can about Mike Darling, who allegedly is the last person to have seen Melanie. As she gets closer to the truth, her lover DCI Finney and the Corporation's bosses tell her to back off for her own safety. Before she can decide what to do, someone kidnaps Mike's baby. Though no one else agrees with her assessment, Robi n believes that there is a link between the infant abduction and the disappearance of Melanie; she is determined to find it even if it means angering two highly regarded military families who prefer secrets remain hidden. OUT OF MIND, the sequel to FALLING OFF AIR, is a strong journalistic investigative tale starring a wonderful protagonist struggling between raising her three years old twins alone and doing her reporting work. The story line is superb especially when everyone tells Robin to drop this particular inquiry, but the obstinate mother feels she survived the terrible twos so how bad can this case be. Though sometimes her supermom efforts seem off kilter, fans will appreciate this strong mystery and look forward to more of Robin in future books.

Rituals of the Season
Margaret Maron
ISBN: 0892968095, $23.95

North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott and her fiance sheriff deputy Dwight Bryant are looking forward to tying the knot. Her large family welcomes Dwight into the fold by renovating Deborah's dilapidated farmhouse and prepare for the wedding of the one person no one thought would ever walk down the aisle. Meanwhile Colleton County Assistant District Attorney Tracy Johnson dies in what appears to be a tragic car crash. However, the cause of death turns out to be a bullet as an assassin shot and killed Tracy while she was driving. Dwight leads the official investigation into the homicide. Meanwhile though her calendar is full with the steps leading to her nuptials, Deborah reviews a request by two students who believe that death-row convict Martha Hurst is innocent with her execution almost to the day of the Judge's wedding. Though their prenuptial agreement consists of one item, never to discuss their respective cases, this time the two inquiries come together as the DA Doug Woodall insists his case remains airtight, but Tracy demands to see the files. Readers will appreciate this fine police procedural-legal thriller as Dwight and Deborah get set to tie the matrimonial knot while working interconnected investigations. The story line is action-packed whether the duo wok together or go solo. Fans will ponder whether Tracy was killed to end her inquiry into the Hurst conviction while also wondering whether the lead pair will say I do. Hopefully future North Carolina mysteries will contain this fine teaming as Margaret Maron's murder mystery is magnificent.

Killer Karma
Lee Killough
Meisha Merlin
ISBN: 1592220061, $23.95, 304 pp.

He finds himself in a parking garage not knowing who he is but certain that someone murdered him. It takes him a while to realize that he is Detective Cole Donovan of the San Francisco Police Department working on an arson and burglary case. He realizes he is a ghost when nobody sees or hears him and by his ability to walk through walls and doors. He was meeting an informant Sara Benay and he hoped that she had enough information to take the owner of Flaxx Enterprises Donald Flaxx down because in one of his stores that was torched a foreman died, making him an accessory to murder. His informant Sara has disappeared and since his body has not been found the police think they ran off together. Cole wants his wife to know the truth about the meetings with Sara, not what the police think. Using his ghostly powers, he convinces his former partner Razor, once he gets over the shock of seeing Cole as a ghost, to help him find out why he was killed, who murdered him and how it relates to Flaxx Enterprises. Even when Cole discovers who the killer is, Razor has no way of obtaining a warrant because he can't explain how he came by the knowledge. Lee Killough has written a totally enthralling and spellbinding paranormal police procedural. The protagonist is a ghost who bumbles and fumbles as he learns to use his ghostly powers once he discovers what they are. His instincts and experience help him find the perpetrators and he uses spirit tricks to rattle the various suspects into making mistakes. KILLER KARMA is an enjoyable and entertaining reading experience that is destined for this reviewer's keeper shelf.

Strong Arm Tactics
Jody Lynn Nye
Meisha Merlin
ISBN: 1592220452, $25.95, 368 pp.

X-Ray Company, commonly called the Cockroaches by the Space Service that lords over them and which they call themselves as a badge of honor is a squad that consists of men and women who the Galactic Defense Force would like to get rid of but have no legitimate way of making it happen. Lieutenant David Wolfe has been put in charge of the company and it is quite an adjustment for the by-the-book officer who has to cope with their practical jokes, their illegal still and the rules they refuse to follow. While the officer and his men are adjusting to each other, they bond together against all outsiders. Their first mission is so classified that they don't even know where they are heading. Once they come out of jumpspace, they find themselves battling the rebels who want to overthrow the Thousand World Confederation and take power for them selves. When the hull is breached the Cockroaches save the day using a very unusual ingredient to fix the hole. When the battle is over and the rebels are on the run, David is given his assignment which is an easy one. He just has to pick up a microchip die that has the instructions for a new kind of AI. The inventor is the owner Wingle World, the galaxy's biggest and greatest amusement park on the planet Dudley. The only problem is that rebels want the chip and they don't care if they kill every citizen on the planet to get it. The X-Ray Company working with the planet's citizens come up with an ingenious way to fight the enemy even though David only has twenty-three officers (including himself). STRONG ARM TACTICS is the first book in this new military science fiction series The Wolf Pack and much of the novel focuses with introducing and getting to know and understand the various members of X-Ray Company. There are plenty of humorous scenes as the hero and the men under his command clash as the Cockroaches train the protagonist to lead them in the style they desire. Readers will learn rather quickly that the men and woman who proudly call themselves Cockroaches (the derogatory nickname space forces gave them) are not odd ducks or malcontents but people who get in trouble for doing the right thing by bucking the rules. They are an admirable lot and when they are on a mission, they do whatever it is necessary to complete it even if they have to step outside of the rule book and use unorthodox methods to win the battle. Readers familiar with the military science fiction works of Jon Ringo and David Webber or the battle scenes form the Star Wars trilogy and the amusement in a Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat novel will thoroughly enjoy Jody Lynn Nye's latest work. Humor is used to relieve the tension during the battle scenes with the rebels who are not trying to overthrow an evil confederation but want to grab power for themselves which make them dangerous and uncaring about loss of civilian life. Ms. Nye's villains have no redeeming features which makes it easy for readers to want to see them fail. The audience will eagerly await the next book in this exciting series in which the characters especially the Wolf Pack are likeable, loyal and earthy.

Finding Anna
Christine Schaub
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764200593, $12.99

In October of 1871 the inferno rages with the Chicago business district destroyed. Horatio Gates Spafford informs his partner Henry McDaid that their law partnership has gone the way of the fire as the flames engulf their office. Horatio tells the man he considers his brother that they must get their wives and children to safety. When he reaches Lincoln Park to meet his family there, Horatio is stunned by the destruction and assumes that he sent his family to their deaths, but soon finds his wife Anna alive and sh e tells him the children are home safe and sound. The fire that destroyed much of Chicago and devastated his legal business also scarred Anna, who cannot even get out of bed to care for their children. Horatio wants to help those in need, but fails to see his spouse's needs. He turns to God and real estate to help the downtrodden while she has doubts about a deity that would cause biblical destruction. Over the next two years, their relationship further erodes until they agree to go on a European vacation with their four daughters seeking redemption through God and healing with each other starting with the hymn he writes, "It Is Well With My Soul." FINDING ANNA is a terrific inspirational historical biographical fiction novel that digs deep into the Chicago Fire especially the aftermath through a wonderful ensemble cast though the Spaffords are the prime players. Readers will appreciate the depth of the tale as Anna suffers from battle fatigue syndrome and her disillusionment with God while Horatio feels he has found his calling, but fails to apply his good deeds at home. Readers will cherish the first "Music of the Heart" tale and look forward to more such stories behind the Hymns.

A Perilous Proposal
Michael Phillips
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764200410, $12.99

During the Civil War slave child Jake detests his yoke and though young shows open signs of rebellion against his master in spite of the warnings from his father. Jake's anger explodes when his dad vanishes as he assumes foul play. Out pf control, he kills a white drifter who he caught molesting his mother. Knowing that in the Confederacy, no black can get justice when a white is involved, Jake runs away. Confederate soldiers capture Jake, but he escapes and joins the Union army. There he meets a kind mentor, Micah, a black soldier, who counseled the lad to let his anger go. Holding a grudge, he deserts the army heading to North Carolina where he is shocked to meet up with his father and a young black woman Mayme who he falls in love with. Even in this southern state Jake goes out of his way to alienate whites who burn crosses on their lawn. Using the Civil War as a backdrop, Michael Phillips provides a rousing exciting inspirational tale that makes a strong case that racism destroys everyone even the innocent. Jake is a fabulous protagonist struggling with devastating blows to his heart. He knows he must forgive his father for deserting his mother and him, but finds it difficult to do so in spite of the encouragement of several women including Mayme to let it go so that he can move on. The cast makes the tale as readers will obtain a taste of how crippling hatred is.

What She Left for Me
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764200992, $12.99

Pregnant Jana comes home following a three week missionary trip to Africa only to find her pastor husband dumped her for his secretary, emptied their finances and took anything else of value including her jewelry left to her by a relative before vanishing. Jana is further stunned when she learns he explained all to his parishioners including that Jana knew. Feeling stripped of any decency by a man of God she thought she knew and with the new pastor arriving shortly to take over her current residence, Jana returns home in spite of an estranged relationship with her mom Eleanor. Also residing in her mother's house is her lovable eccentric Great-Aunt Taffy. Through Taffy's manipulations, the kindness of a minister and while the pregnancy progresses, Jana and Eleanor begin to heal the past as both turn to God to help them find forgiveness as each realizes "to err is human". Still Jana has further tribulations to cope with hopefully with her mom at her side and the Lord everywhere to guide her. Though obviously an inspirational tale, WHAT SHE LEFT FOR ME is much more as Tracie Patterson delves into taboo subjects like adultery by religious leaders and rape by adult family members of a child. Jana is a terrific central character who learns that probably no bond is stronger than that of a mother and daughter except with the Lord. Eleanor and Taffy strengthen the strong insightful family drama that focuses on various interrelationships. This includes negative impacts caused by "loving" third parties that like some politicians, prefer sanitizing, insisting this only occurs in liberal hot spots like Boston. This is a thought provoking eye opening relationship drama.

Love Will Tear Us Apart
Tara McCarthy
ISBN: 1416503242, $13.00, 320 pp.

Renowned singing siblings Flora and Fauna Sparks agree they need a biography written about their unique lives as Siamese teenage twins. They choose thirty something journalist Sloan Madden to tell their story. Sloan sees the assignment as a simple job that will boost her career; so she accepts and moves into the Joint, a Hollywood Hills mansion that the performers share with their dad Fred. As Sloan begins to know her subjects, she finds the stage harmony is filled with riffs. Instead of loving sisters, the duo battles one another with one of the youngsters wanting to go solo and jealousy is the norm. Surrounded by alcohol and drug abuse, Sloan begins pondering her relationships with her boyfriend, her friendship only with the man she really loves, and even Fred. The key to this insightful relationship drama is that the tale never loses its prime perspective of focusing on Sloan; this is remarkable because the fascination of the Siamese twins would have made it easier to concentrate on them. The key cast is fully developed especially Sloan, the twins, and their dad. The interrelationships between these four and somewhat between Sloan and her boy friend and her best friend provide readers with a deep character study that grips the audience from the moment Sloan enters the aptly named Joint.

Imaginary Men
Anjali Banjerjee
ISBN: 1416509437, $13.00, 256 pp.

San Franciscan professional matchmaker Lina Ray travels to Kolkata, India to attend her younger sister's wedding. At the gala her matchmaking Auntie Kiki tries to arrange a match with Nikhil Ghoge, an Indian version of Pee Wee Herman. Desperate Lina makes up a fiance living in America. She flees the gala only to run into Raja Prasad. They talk , but she concludes he is old line chauvinistic Indian so she wants nothing to do with him though he gives her a star galaxy granite stone as a reminder of their brief connection. The next day Niki takes her niece to meet horoscope reader Pandit Parsus who says the fiance seems unreal and that Niki needs to go to California to see if he is worthy of joining their family. As Lina's lies multiply, Raja hires her to find a spouse for his brother while he makes the case that they are right for another. Lina sees the "silvery threads" that she knows means they are right for each other, but first she must overcome the death over two years ago of her fiance Nathu and her scorn of her Bengali heritage. IMAGINARY MEN is a refreshing chick lit tale starring a wonderful second generation American struggling between her India heritage and her San Francisco lifestyle. Lina and her family members provide insight into the Brachmo Samaj Hinduism within the humorous family drama. Learning first hand how a simple fib can gain a goliath life of its own, Lina is a fabulous lead character who anchors IMAGINARY MEN as she compounds her lie in comedic ways. Fans will want sequels from author Anjali Banjerjee.

Saturday Morning
Lauraine Snelling
ISBN: 1578567882, $13.99, 384 pp.

In San Francisco former hooker Hope Benson runs the Casa de Jesus women's shelter, but knows her facility will fail state inspection unless a miracle occurs. Although she detests moving and giving up her thriving lavender line, Andy Taylor relocates to the Bay City when her spouse accepts a new job. At the same time Kansas City attorney Julia Collins is in town searching for her runaway teenage granddaughter. Finally, wealthy widow Clarice Van Dam is left with nothing when her spouse deserts her taking all their possessions including their funds with him. These four females meet in the Casa de Jesus parking lot and forge the Girl Squad to help them while looking to God for divine assurance. The quartet work to try to save the shelter and each other as a sisterly bond forms by being the women being there for one another and praying to the Lord to show them the way. Though the amoral behavior of the males would lead to neutering them, the Girl Squad members are a delightful group who find solace and courage with one another, a common goal to save the shelter, and a strengthening of their belief in God in spite of the mundane odds against them. Each one of the women brings a different personality to the inspirational story line; together they blend quite well although they are so different in background and temperament. Male neutering aside, SATURDAY MORNING is a fabulous upbeat tale of about caring for others leads to taking care of your self.

Boo Hiss
Rene Gutteridge
ISBN: 1400071437, $12.99, 352 pp.

Though everyone relishes the sudden appearance of a gourmet coffee shop, the residents of Skary, Illinois are in an uproar when they wake up to find a brand new soccer complex constructed overnight in a vacant lot. However, the townsfolk go berserker when teenager Dustin tells everyone at a meeting that his two headed Boa has escaped. He insists that they are harmless if fed right, but be careful especially with the assertive Bob; Fred is a pacificist in comparison. As the locals panic seeing snakes everywhere, a pet shop owner explains that Boas eat once a week not everyday although Dustin fed his two snakes with one stomach daily. In other words the serpent is a feeding machine that will soon run out of rodents to dine on even as the people have personal problems to contend with that has nothing to do with sharing a meal with a snake. The latest Boo tale will thrill readers of the series as everything seems out of control except that the aide of Mayor Wallisworth Martin Blarney knows what is going on. He nervously asks community theater advocate Lois on a date while the sheriff turns jealous. Though the story line seems too serpentine at times, fans will appreciate the eccentric often screwball antics of the residents.

When the Sandpiper Calls
Peggy Darty
ISBN: 1578569044, $16.99, 304 pp.

In Summer Breeze on the Florida Panhandle, mystery writer Christy Castleman gives a talk to the Sassy Snowbirds, book readers from the north. After talking a little about herself and her one published novel so far, Christy shows the group an expensive antique bottle she found partially buried in the sands of nearby almost empty Shipwreck Island. Inside is a nasty note that says the writer is in danger. The penmanship matches missing realtor Marty McAllister who failed to come home to host an event last night with the Sassy Snowbirds. Christy informs Deputy Big Bob Arnold what she found. He tells her he will look around, but she is to stop her sleuthing. Because she promised her aunt, a snowbird, she checks at Marty's home to find the woman not home. Christy learns more things from her dad who sold the bottle in the first place. Unable to resist she heads to Shipwreck Island where she meets handsome stranger Dan Brockman. Reluctantly Christy begins to believe that someone abducted and killed Marty, but why and how does Dan, who she is attracted to, fits into the equation. WHEN THE SANDPIPER CALLS is an entertaining amateur sleuth cozy starring a likable mystery author and eccentric snowbirds, who coax her into doing things she knows better not to do. The character driven tale breezes at a leisurely pace even as the evidence mounts that Marty is a victim of foul play. Christy is terrific as the core of the story line and the support cast to include her parents, the snowbirds, and Dan make for a fun who-done-it.

Woken Furies
Richard K. Morgan
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345479718, $24.95

In the distant future, Takeshi Kovacs heads home to repressive Harlan's World to eerily confront himself when he was an Envoy working for the UN as a super soldier to keep people on the remote planets in check. Since he could afford to leave that body behind, Takeshi downloaded his personality into a new "sleeve" and left for another world to start life anew. On Harlan's World, Kovacs soon finds himself protecting Sylvie, an apparent reincarnation of a long dead messiah, from the First Families, who need her dead as her message interferes with the power they yield. The First Families send an Envoy to kill Sylvie, but Kovacs believes the killer is a younger healthier him. This is an action-packed science fiction Noir that starts in hyperspeed before accelerating into faster than light velocity. The suspense laden story line is all action except when Richard K. Morgan chooses to pontificate against any form of religious fundamentalism, which Kovacs believes by its essence means its burden requires either altering carbon structure or breaking the angels of those of other belief systems. Kovacs is at his best when affirming you can't home, at least not safely. Fans of electrifying futuristic thrillers will appreciate the award winning author's latest triumph.

Running from the Deity
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345461592, $24.95, 272 pp.

Philip "Flinx" Lynx is the result of illegal eugenic experiments that simply proved science needs boundaries as he contains enhanced skills to propel and collect emotions from others. Currently Flinx searches for a missing super-weapon left behind by an extinct race that may prove the only tool to stop a species that threatens mankind from behind the Great Emptiness. However, though the weapon is planet sized Flinx has failed to find it and is forced to land on an uncharted orb when his intelligent spaceship, Teacher, needs emergency repairs. Flinx meets a backwater race of aliens who like him can emit and receive emotions. He breaks the prime directive of the Commonwealth not to interfere with primitive species especially using technology as Flinx heals the sick and injured. That backfires when the natives begin worshipping Flinx the God which infuriates religious and political leaders. His reputation as the deity crosses national boundaries; other countries prepare to invade to bring God home. While Teacher makes self-repairs, Flinx realizes why the prime directive exists while RUNNING FROM THE DEITY, which happens to be him. RUNNING FROM THE DEITY, the latest FLINX'S FOLLY is a terrific tale that satirizes classic Star Trek by displaying what happens when a much more advances civilization brings impossible to grasp technology to more primitive societies. Flinx is in rare form trying to do good until he realizes what he has wrought while local leaders do what they always do; manipulate others including the "Deity". Though some readers will be upset that the original mission turns inert, this is an interesting tale as fans will think of The Gods Must Be Crazy in outer space.

The Narrows
Alexander C. Irvine
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345466985, $13.95 352 pp.

During WWII in Detroit, Jared Cleaves is unable to serve in the military due to a hand injury he suffered as a child that leaves him 4-F. Jared is embarrassed to stay behind among mostly women and children as he feels healthy enough to fight in spite of his hand and wants to help his home country in the war. The Office of Esoteric Investigation selects Jared to work on the Top Secret Ford golem project aptly dubbed "Frankenline". However, he still remains depressed that he cannot enter the war zone as he desperately wants to share the dangerous load most males and the golems must bear. Pushing to become deeper involved, Jared soon realizes he may have leaned too hard on a weird door when he becomes a key player in a scheme to tap into the supernatural power of imps that "live" underneath the Motor City. However, he soon concludes that these supernatural creatures are impossible to control and will run rampant throughout Detroit unless Jared ca n stop them. THE NARROWS is a fabulous alternate historical fantasy that provides a wild ride through 1943 Detroit as the Nazis look like kindergarten students when compared to the imp storm troopers. The story line is action-packed from start to finish, but driving the plot is the wonderful Jared who just feels he must do more than he is doing. When he gets his wish and meets up with the underground and some weird Feds, he learns plenty of lessons about receiving what you ask for. The supernatural creatures seem natural adding to a fine thriller, but the besieged Jared keeps the fabulous tale together.

A Wedding in December
Anita Shreve
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316738999, $25.95

In the Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts, Nora converted the large mansion, which she shared with her famous husband Carl the poet until he committed suicide to end the pain from throat cancer last year, into an inn. Six of her friends from the Kidd Academy in Maine gather here for the wedding of two of them; the single mother of teen Bridget to her high school sweetheart Bill. Harrison still hurts from what happened almost three decades ago in Maine though he is married with two sons. Agnes currently teaches history at the Academy and has kept a secret from her friends but relishes being able to say out loud the name of the man she loves, their English teacher Jim Mitchell. The bride has breast cancer and doubts about marrying while the groom never forgot his first love leaving his wife and daughter and alienating his family to be with Bridget. Rob and Jerry round out the magnificent seven who spend the weekend sharing what memories, regrets, and hopefully forgiveness that each needs. A WEDDING IN DECEMBER is a well written character study that in some ways feels like a family drama as the seven former classmates attend the wedding of two of them while each ponders if they can regain paradise lost like Bill and Bridget are trying to do. Each protagonist is different so that the readers can appreciate the various personalities though much of the tale focuses on the interactions(past and present) between Harrison and Nora. In spite of the lack of action, fans of deep complex relationship dramas that cleverly look back at the past while dreaming of a future will want to read Anita Shreve's deep and thoughtful novel.

The Lincoln Lawyer
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316734934, $26.95, 384 pp.

Criminal defense lawyer Mickey "THE LINCOLN LAWYER" Haller makes the rounds of courthouses defending some of the dregs of society. His mobile office is the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, in which he works up a case while a lowlife client drives the vehicle. However, Michael has the ideal client, someone with money who can pay for his services. Beverly Hills realtor Louis "Hard Case" Roulet has been accused of brutally assaulting a woman; Louis claims he is innocent. In spite of his dad's dire warning that the innocent make the worse clients, Haller takes on the case seeing dollar signs and an easy win. When a friend associated with the case is murdered, Michael wonders what he has gotten into as his father's prophecy proves right, but there is no way out except seeing the case to its conclusion. Though no Bosch, except his indirectly being related to Mickey, THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a terrific legal thriller headlined by a fabulous attorney and strong secondary players especially his filter Gloria, his current client, and those who drive him to pay off debts. The exhilarating story line is literally driven by the cast though there is plenty of action. Fans will enjoy Michael Connelly's latest tale starring an attorney trying to climb up the food chain, but finding the ooze underneath a lot warmer and safer.

In the Fold
Rachel Cusk
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316058270, $23.95, 272 pp.

Michael's family adheres to rigid social customs so he knows little else. That is until he attends the eighteenth birthday party of Caris Hanbury, the sister of his university roommate Adam. He finds an entirely different world at Egypt Hill. Years later, Michael resides in Bath with his edgy spouse Rebecca and their troubled withdrawn young son Hamish. They live in a beautiful house given to them by her parents the artistic amoral Alexanders, control freaks who in their eccentric way live an inflexible lifestyle that they expect everyone in their circle, including Michael and Hamash, to follow the lack of conformity that is paradoxically similar yet different from the Hanburys. Worried about his son, Michael takes Hamash with him on a pilgrimage to Egypt Hill where he first learned to break out of the binds of society, but nothing remains the same as he learns you can't go home. He always thought of the place since his first visit but realizes that his dream place is just an illusion. IN THE FOLD is a deep look at relationshsips between people that will keep the audience pondering after finishing the novel what truly makes a family besides DNA. The story line lacks action as the plot concentrates on varying individuals interacting or not with some turning destructive and others illogical. Not for everyone, Rachel Cusk provides a potent look at the essence of an individual just surviving and mostly living in a society trying to file them in the appropriate drawer; some will rebel while others will quietly acquiesce.

Dead at Daybreak
Deon Meyer
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316000124, $23.95

In South Africa, a mutual friend persuades attorney Hope Beneke to hire former cop Afrikaner and self pitying drunk Zatopek "Zet" van Heerden to find a missing will. Recently in Durbanville someone executed and burned with a blow torch millionaire antiques dealer Johannes Jacobus Smit in the victim's home; however, the deceased's will and other items in his walk-in safe vanished. The attorney further explains to Zet that he has one week to accomplish the mission or the state confiscates Smit's wealth leaving his common-law wife Wilhelmina Johanna van As of eleven years with zilch. Sobering up Zet knows the probability of solving this case in seven days is impossible, but begins making inquiries. He quickly learns that Johannes never existed before 1983 making the case even more complex and needing a divine miracle. Zet tries to track who Smit previously was, but thugs and law enforcement officials do anything and everything to prevent his learning the dead man's former identity even as the clock ticks away. Though self wallowing and loathing himself, Zet still retains the HEART OF THE HUNTER as he investigates who Smit was, why he was murdered, and what happened to the will. The story line is action-packed for the most part though when the hero looks back at his own life while searching for clues as to Smit, the tale, though interesting in terms of character development, slows down on these sidebars. Still this is an exhilarating legal thriller private investigative tale that showcases how talented Deon Meyer is while providing a deep look at South Africa then and now.

One Golden Ring
Cheryl Bolen
ISBN: 0821777904, $5.99, 316 pp.

This has not been a good year for Lady Fiona Hollingsworth. Her father died, foreign secretary Lord Edward Warwick ended their long time unofficial betrothal to marry someone else (see THE COUNTERFEIT COUNTESS); and her brother Randy is being held for ransom in the Peninsular. To rescue him, she needs 25,000 pounds, which she not only does not have but could not raise in a decade let alone the week she has. Her best friend Trevor Simpson convinces Lady Fiona Hollingsworth to attend the theater though she feels guilty that she goes out for entertainment while Randy remains imprisoned. Fiona notices in a nearby box is wealthy stockbroker Nicholas Birmingham, Fiona decides to strike a devil's bargain with the commoner by offering her only asset in exchange for the money. However Nicholas rejects her proposal of marriage until Edward insisted England needs his help in the matter. Rather quickly, Fiona falls in love with her husband and his illegitimate preadolescent daughter, but Nick cannot believe that his spouse no longer pines for Edward while she is jealous that he goes out every night, assuming he sees his lover. This is a golden historical romance starring two fabulous lead protagonists who love one another but do not trust the other to reciprocate. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Fiona offers the deal until the final confrontation. Interestingly in spite of the marriage saving his life, Randy is upset that his sister married beneath her station. The support cast is fabulous whether enhancing the situation in the Peninsular or causing further suspicion between the newly married lead couple. Cheryl Bolen has written a fascinating tale.

Come Home for Christmas
Pat Pritchard
ISBN: 0821777920, $5.99, 352 pp.

Sheriff Jedediah Stark catches up with the mixed race youngster Hawk wanted for stealing a horse in nearby Cutter, but keeping the kid prisoner has been difficult. Hawk tells Jed that his grandfather raised him on his horse breeding farm until townsfolk killed him though they claim he died from the heat even with his face severely bruised and his wrists showing rope burns. The horse Wind Son he claims is his although the citizens hold a sale receipt signed by his grandfather who could not read or write. The kid reminds Jed of his own childhood until the Johanson family took him in and raised him with love. He takes the lad there until he can find proof asserting or disavowing Hawk claims. Jed avoided the place for six years because he loves Sadie, but feels he is not good enough for her. Now an ailing aging widower Ole Johanson works his magic on Hawk while Sadie does likewise on Jed. As he leaves to solve the case, he vows to come back to the people he loves, Ole like a father, Hawk like a son, and Sadie as his soulmate. This terrific western romance combines a fine outdoor adventure with a delightful family love story both inside a fabulous law enforcement investigative story line. Jed's inquiries are delightful to follow as he seeks clues that could result in his being murdered by those who prefer their violent economic gain remain hidden. His relationship with the two men in his life showcases an honorable sandwich person while his love for Sadie and hers for him grips the audience who hopes Wind Son kicks some senses into his head.

Once Upon a Christmas
Lisa Plumley
ISBN: 0821778609, $6.99

"Mistletoe and Holly". When her boyfriend Brad dumps her because she never does anything spontaneous, accountant Holly thinks he will come to his senses. Meanwhile her best friend arranges for her to share a room in Saguaro Vista with her cousin English Professor Sam as both are visiting for the holidays. Sparks fly between them that could light up all the Christmas trees in the country. "Christmas Honeymoon". Stacy is upset that her cousin Janie dumped an all expense paid Vegas honeymoon on her, a wedding present from Aunt Gertrude, while the newlyweds sneak off to the Bahamas. The groom Richard has sent his friend Dylan to the same suite at the Atmosphere Hotel. Dylan plans to not screw up this time as he wants his beloved ex-wife back with him forever. "A Baby for Christmas". For three years Chloe has secretly loved her neighbor and best friend Nick. So when the inventor gets drunk to forget his woes, she takes him home. They sleep together, but he forgets in the morning that they did. Hurt and disappointed Chloe hides the truth even when she realizes she is carrying his baby. These three Yuletide tales are enjoyable contemporary romances that star wonderful lead protagonists struggling with love once decisions are made that go contrary to forging permanent relationships. Lisa Plumley gifts her fans with early Christmas presents.

Queen of the Universe
Barbara Plum
ISBN: 0821777742, $5.99

Morning news anchor Kelsy Chandler feels life is great as she enjoys her job, shares a deep love of one another with her child, and has the respect and adulation of her handsome fiance, undercover police officer Finn Bishop. Perhaps the only down side is that Finn's work makes it difficult for them to share moments alone especially since her son is always around. Finn would journey into hell if he could make Kelsy happy as she is the QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE, at least in his galaxy. Because of that belief, Finn risks his job to spend time with his beloved in Montana because an undercover cop cannot take a vacation when they are on a case. Meanwhile Kelsy has a career opportunity, but hides the offer from Finn while she considers whether she wants to take the position. Soon the two lovers learn how complex life can get when they omit to tell each other the truth as the web of deceit grows out of control. Both knows they must talk, but each is reluctant fearing the response. This intriguing contemporary romance works on two levels: the career decisions that impact family especially when mobility and relocating are significant factors for promotions and how omissions can take a life of their own. The character driven story line looks deep at relationships as Finn wants to prove to his once burned beloved that she means everything to him while Kelsy ponders whether giving up her career to become a wife as she once was is too risky. Fans will enjoy this delightful love story.

Do They Wear High Heels in Heaven?
Erica Orloff
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895356, $12.95, 320 pp.

Newspaper columnist Lily Waters, author of Divorce Survival Guide and single mother of two (Noah and Tara), just turned forty years old takes a mammogram as part of a human interest story. However, the journalist is shocked when the doctor reports the test results are positive and he follows up with a biopsy. Not long afterward, Lily learns she has stage four cancer. Lily knows she is dying, but worries more about what will become of her children. Her only hope is that her best friend Hudson University English Literature Professor Michael will raise her kids although he is gay as she knows their father will not be there for them. Michael as always is there for Lily, who is starting to show the signs of her ailment. Michael hides his pain at his upcoming loss as Lily is like a beloved sister to him, but he must show no hurt or fear because the kids need him. This is a terrific insightful look at an individual who uses humor to hide her fears of dying and what will become of her children. The well written but sad story line cleverly uses the chick lit sub-genre to raise the awareness of the deep emotional cut cancer brings to families and friends through the gloom and anguish of the key characters. Lily is a fabulous soul struggling to cope with her upcoming death and knowing that her openly gay best friend, who is in a relationship out in the open in the story line, is the best person to care for her children. This is a great insightful work that takes the typically lighthearted chick lit format into new horizons.

Sex with the Ex
Tyne O'Connell
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895364, $12.95

Senior Events Manager and Public Relations Coordinator at Posh House Lola Morton enjoys her work until she sees three of her exes sitting around together. Richard was her spouse until two years ago; Hamish was her college lover; and Jeremy was her first love. After the shock wears off, she begins to wonder if she made a mistake and lost Mr. Right, but which one. She decides that divorcing Richard was a mistake as he must be the one. Lola begins a campaign to bring him back in her life, but he is seeing someone else. Meanwhile her boss Charlie Orbington is disappointed in her behavior as he thinks the woman he has professionally admired is being a foolish, fickle little girl because she should accept that Richard has found somebody new. Though she hates disappointing Charles, Lola feels she's the one for Richard even if her pet bunny Jean hops away from him. This is an intriguing chick lit romance starring a fully developed lead female protagonist who colors her past lovers in a positive hue while ignoring the downside including for instance why she and Richard divorced. The story line is fun to follow as Charles scorns what Lola does, but whatever she wants she plans to get, which this time is Richard. Outside of the sherbet solution, sub-genre fans will welcome Lola's zany efforts at second chance at love with ex marks the spot.

Loves Me, Loves Me Not
Libby Malin
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895348, $12.95, 320 pp.

In Baltimore the accident changed Amy Sheldon's life starting with her public relations being career flushed away. Two years later, after starting over, she finds her new life is in shambles as the place she works as a florist Flowers by Amy (karma at work as the shop is named for her) is closing and Pete Switzer is selling the house she rents from him. Irate customer attorney Henry Castle says she sent the flowers to the wrong woman. Amy is shocked to see Henry in person for the first time as she expected a tall handsome hunk, but the huggable man who changes women every month and is the shop's most consistent customer is probably a half an inch shorter than her and she is height challenged. After the cops come to take Henry away for "threatening" her Amy straightens out the mix-up. They begin seeing each other. As she fears she has fallen in love with Henry, she believes he will soon send her flowers thanking her for a good time when he moves on to the next female. Though a chick lit tale in which the lead female is the prime star, Henry refreshes the story line as he proves hunks come in all sizes. The story line centers on Ame (as her friends call her) struggling to reinvent her self for the second time in two years while falling in love with a man she assumes is a womanizer. While Ame comes across shallow in spite of her woes, she needs to make up her mind whether he loves her or loves her not. Fans will appreciate this fine contemporary romance.

The Rancher and the Runaway Bride
Joan Johnston
ISBN: 0373770421, $16.95

Twenty-three years old Tate Whitelaw is tired of the over-protection of her three older brothers, who make it impossible for her to have any fun. Deciding she needs to escape, she leaves Hawk's Way only to land in the arms of another alpha male, Adam Philips, who lost his beloved when she fell in love and married Tate's brother Jesse (see HONEY AND THE HIRED HAND). Tate likes having Adam overly protect her, especially his hugs and kisses, unlike her siblings who just seem in the way. Adam wonders if he is fickle because he loved Honey forever, but finds himself needing Tate even more. He knows that she is ignorant that Jesse is living nearby and realizes he owes her the truth, but fears she will leave him if only to see Jesse. When Tate meets Honey she invites her and her spouse to come to dinner at Adam's spread. Instead an irate Jesse arrives demanding she leaves, as he is positive his former rival is using his sister as a means of getting even. Tate believes her host loves her, but Jesse refuses to back down. This reprint of a delightful western romance will please readers due to the antics of Tate's brothers who return with a shotgun and a priest. The lead couple is a fine romantic duo although Adam has problems believing he could be so shallow as to fall in love so fast after losing the courtship of Honey that even he thinks he is on the rebound. Though it would be better to first read HONEY AND THE HIRED HAND to better understand the motives of Adam and Jesse, sub-genre fans will enjoy the return to Hawk's way.

You've Got Male
Elizabeth Bevarly
ISBN: 0373770685, $6.99, 384 pp.

Former convict Avery "Viral Avery" Nesbitt suffers from agoraphobia so since she left prison eight years ago she has never ventured outside from her New York condo. The computer genius uses the Internet for everything including on-line relationships especially Andrew until she learns he is cheating on her in other chat rooms. Irate she plans to feed him a virus like none that anyone has seen before. Federal Office for Political Unity and Security Agent Dixon realizes that Avery's Andrew is the cyber-terrorist the Sorcerer. With her history of creating a computer virus that crippled the Internet ten years ago, he believes she is in cahoots with this brilliant madman. He wants to bring her in but she goes bongos with anxiety. As he forces her out into the real world and uses her as bait to reel in the Sorcerer, Dixon falls in love with the PJ-clad geek, but to persuade her they belong together even if he only sees her in her condo proves to be as tough assignment as he ever tried to solve. Avery is a unique heroine, estranged from her family since her conviction while struggling to cope with surviving without going outside. Her phobia is brilliantly handled with dexterity with her savior being the Internet that enables her to live by herself in Manhattan. The story line focuses predominantly on her and her growing relationship with Dixon. A subplot involving her sister whom she has not spoken with in a decade, and Dixon's partner is an intriguing opposites-matched with her being much older too; hopefully that twist will continue in a follow up tale. Elizabeth Bevarly provides a wonderful romantic suspense thriller starring a fabulous cast.

Out with the Old; in with the New
Nancy Robards Thompson
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880618, $5.50, 297 pp.

Nearing her fortieth birthday, Kate Hennessey believes her marriage to Corbin, a surgeon, is rock solid. The pair has been together over twenty years and have two children. However, her feelings of contentment take a hit when the letter addressed to her arrives. The anonymous writer states: "Ask your husband what he's been doing all those nights he claimed to be at the hospital." Kate initially discounts the note, but begins to ponder that in recent years much of the passion between them has vanished. She begins to wonder if her spouse has had extramarital affairs. Enlisting her best friends Alex and Rainey, Kate begins to seek the truth about Corbin's faithfulness and then takes a deeper look than she has in decades at herself to figure out what she wants in her relationship with her husband and more so in life. OUT WITH THE OLD; IN WITH THE NEW starts off with a potential marital crisis as Kate wants to believe the note is a hoax and that she can trust her spouse, but to her chagrin has doubts. The strong character driven story line quickly takes a wider focus as Kate begins to question her roles especially as the family glue; for instance her six year old hates when she leaves him with his dad while she goes off with her friends. Kate's investigation into her husband is cleverly handled, but what makes Nancy Robards Thompson's robust tale worth reading is the heroine's even deeper investigation into her own desires.

Reforming the Rake
Sarah Elliot
ISBN: 0373293747, $5.50

She is twenty-three years old and starting her fourth season in five years having taken time off for good behavior because Beatrice Sinclair wants only to marry for love. Since she has refused several proposals, the Ton calls her "Cold Fish". Derek Summerson has no plans to marry, but he notices the beautiful woman in the next door garden. He goes out of his way to meet her at the boring Teasdale Ball. His mother notices her son's interest in Beatrice so she invites her to dinner. Beatrice quickly realizes he is the man she has been waiting for. Though he is knows he is a certified rake that a good female should not fall in love with, Derek cannot stop thinking of Beatrice. However, he refuses love as he remains scarred from the deaths of his brother and father in a carriage accident years ago. Sarah Elliot's historical novel is a fine Regency romance that uses the classic (some will say overly used) theme of an innocent finding love but to attain her soulmate, the heroine needs some REFORMING THE RAKE. Beatrice is not a cold fish, but simply wants a lifetime of love only to find it in the wrong person. However, Derek makes the tale as his reason to shun love goes back to his childhood when as the sudden man of the family he never found closure with the deaths of his father and brother. If this is any indication of her writing skills, Ms. Elliot will live up to her surname with a long successful career.

Fool's Gold
Jennifer Skully
ISBN: 0373770812, $5.99, 384 pp.

Cottonmouth, California Sheriff Tyler Blaxton takes leave to assist his upset sister Maggie Felman in Goldstone, Nevada. Maggie believes her spouse Carl, an outhouse excavator, is having an affair with some bimbo. Tyler takes Carl to a bar for drinks and talk, but learns nothing but meets beautiful Simone Chandler, author of erotica romances on the net. While Tyler and Simone are attracted to one another, he also finds Carl behaving mysteriously and strange, but believes he is not having an affair with anyone. As Tyler digs deeper, he observes his brother-in-law acting especially belligerent with odious developer Jason LaFoote. Still in spite of his efforts to learn the truth behind Carl's recent actions, Tyler fails to uncover anything of note until an unknown third party raises the ante with murder. With references to the witch sisters of the Wizard of Oz and an intriguing love at first sight romance, FOOL'S GOLD starts off as a family drama that about half way into the plot switches into a murder mystery. The audience will treasure and reread the subplot when the focus is on Tyler and Simone; when the story line concentrates on the estrangement between Maggie and Carl, fans will wonder why they do not communicate, what he hides in his trailer, and what caused the split (explained too late). The who-done-it is cleverly devised leaving fans with a truly golden tale.

Expectant Father
Melinda Curtis
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713010, $5.50, 299 pp.

Nearing forty, National Interagency Fire Center Fire Behavior Analyst Becca Thomas decided to become pregnant though she is not married. She researched whom she thought would provide good genes and decided that Hot Shot Aiden Rodas is perfect. She seduced the hotshot and became pregnant, but hid her delicate condition from the man she has since avoided like he has the plague. However, her success at eluding Aidan ends when they are forced to work a dangerous Montana blaze together. He takes one look at her belly, does some quick mental calculations and profiling Becca as someone who would not sleep around, he concludes she is carrying his baby. He demands a major role in raising their child expected to be born in under two months. The protagonists are an intriguing duo as Becca has no explanation that is acceptable by the responsible playboy who impregnated her without his knowledge. His demands cramp her thoughts more than the fetus she carries. However, in spite of a fabulous pairing of a likable couple, the star of Melinda Curtis' deep thriller is the fires as she interweaves into the plot the danger and the modern techniques in battling an inferno.

25 Years
Janice MacDonald, Tara Taylor Quinn & Margot Early
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712979, $5.50, 297 pp.

"Best Friends" by Tara Taylor Quinn. In Boulder, after failing to become pregnant in spite of their efforts, the relationship of Jolene and Steve has become shaky until out of love she informs her spouse she wants a divorce. However, Steve relaxes somewhat knowing she has the jitters, but panics when his beloved vanishes while on a trip without him as she is his world. "Wade in the Water" by Margot Early. Twenty-five years ago Lily's younger brother died, but though time allegedly heals all wounds, she remains devastated. However, her former lover Colin gives it one last try to help his beloved move on because he still loves Lily. "A Visit from Eileen" by Janice MacDonald. After years out of country Eileen returns to Ireland where she and her former heartthrob Kieran realize they remain in love with one another. However, everyone including Kieran expects her to leave soon to return to her new life so they act accordingly. These are three fine contemporary tales starring likable couples though the women seem to carry all the emotional baggage while the men are patient and there for them.

Big Girls Don't Cry
Brenda Novak
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712960, $5.50, 298 pp.

Unable to believe the number of business trips his brother-in-law Keith O'Connell makes to Dundee, Idaho, Isaac Russell decides to serendipitously follow him. Isaac is stunned to find that Keith has another wife with three young daughters besides his sibling Liz. Forced to make a decision, Keith chooses his Idaho family for the sake of his offspring. When his despondent sister Liz decides to follow her "husband" to Idaho, Isaac does likewise to insure she does not break the law by doing something stupid or even try to do something stupider like getting her "husband" to come back to her. Complicating matters at least in Isaac's mind is his attraction to Keith's schoolteacher first wife Reenie Holbrook, who uses her maiden name. Big girls do cry when they suffer broken hearts as both women do when the truth about Keith's bigamy surfaces. However, Reenie recovers faster perhaps because she has the kids to take care of (no time for breakdowns) and the interest of Isaac to help her move on while Liz feels abandoned and betrayed first by her two-timing spouse and then her brother. She and the kids provide the fresh extended look at the impact of bigamy.

What to Keep
Mary Schramski
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880588, $5.50, 296 pp.

In 2000, forty year old, married and divorced three times, Vegas Golden Nugget blackjack dealer Juliette Carleton with two digits in her bank account learns from North Carolina state appointed executor Ron Tanner that she inherited the estate of her late Uncle Grey Alexander. She had not seen him since she was a child and neither stayed in touch so she is surprised that she is the recipient of his house, car, and not much else. Not long afterward, Juliette adds unemployment to her resume as she is fired when her beer fuzzed brain calls her womanizing pit boss an a-hole. Juliette heads to North Carolina with plans to sell the antebellum home Magnolia Hall until she begins hearing tales about her great aunt who lived there before the Civil War as she begins to explore beneath the southern layers of dust into her ancestry. She also wonders who the housekeeper Tildy Butler is and why she remains in this dilapidated mausoleum. Finally there is the kind lawyer who attracts her so much she wants to forget her vow of no more men. Though readers will know early one who's who, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary tale focused on a woman needing to renew her life so filled with failure. Juliette initially comes to North Carolina to sell Magnolia House, but is quickly caught in a desire to learn about her family tree. Flashbacks to her great aunt provides a wonderful look back at the pre Civil War Tarheel State while also blending nicely with the heroine's need to know. Mary Schramski writes a solid character study tale that wonderfully contrasts the past and the present leaving the future with possibilities.

Life Happens
Sandra Steffen
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 037388060X, $5.50, 296 pp.

Mya Donahue is engaged to the male centerfold, a kind hearted hunk Dr. Jeffrey Anderson when her teenage daughter Ellie Fletcher arrives out of the blue. Mya gave up her newborn for adoption knowing neither she nor the biological father Dean Laker were old enough to raise a child. Ellie tells Mya that her adopted mom passed away and that she and her stepmother do not get along at all. More shocking to Ellie is to learn she is a grandmother as Ellie has a ten month old child Kaylie. Always regretting giving up her child though she knew it was the right thing for her, Dean, and the baby, Mya vows to be involved in the lives of Ellie and Kaylie if her hurt daughter allows her. She turns to her pals Suzette and Claire for advice, and finally asks Dean for help instead of her fiance, who dropped her like she had the plague. Though the ending of this complex family drama is too smooth, fans will enjoy this deep character study that focuses on the relationships between four generations of women (and Dean). The family drama unfolds from the onset with a bitter desperate Ellie visiting Mya for the first time, but unable to stay or explain her motives while her biological mother tries not to cry. The title philosophy comes across throughout the novel as the key females begin to understand Bueller's philosophy that LIFE HAPPENS for those who try to enjoy what they have. Fans will look forward to the next tale from a fine author.

The Unwilling Bride
Margaret Moore
ISBN: 0373770650, $5.99

After fifteen years on the road as a knight, following the death of his odious estranged father, Merrick returns home to Tregellas as its lord and expecting to marry Constance, his intended since he was ten and she five. Upon arrival at his manor, he finds the people do not trust him as they assume he is a chip off the old evil block, his fiancee is scared of him, and Uncle Algernon and Constance's Uncle Carrell seem to be plotting something. Merrick knows he has his work cut out to overcome his nasty father reputation and demonstrate he is not a chip off the old block who raped women and begat at least one child out of wedlock. He begins courting Constance, but refuses to tell her he has loved her since he was a little boy and dreamed that she loved him back. Expecting Merrick to behave like his sire, Constance tries to hide how she feels about him, but knows she wants him. Though he behaves exemplary towards his people and her, she still has doubts. Soon their respective uncles begin the plot to kill Merrick and Constance so that Algernon becomes the lord marrie d to Carrell's daughter. THE UNWILLING BRIDE is an entertaining medieval romance starring a wonderful male protagonist who keeps learning first hand how the child inherits the sins of the father. The story line is at its vivid best as Merrick tries to persuade his villagers he is nothing like his father and his beloved should not expect abuses from him. Though the treacherous subplot seems unneeded as Merrick has a full plate and more to deal with, fans will enjoy this mid thirteenth century tale that has a fantastic final twist that will surprise everyone though the clues are there.

Karen Kendall
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792050, $4.75, 248 pp.

Nerd centerfold Hal Underwood ignores the advice of friends, family, and workers who insist he needs to shed his geek image before his software company goes public. Instead he is more concerned with the leak of information that places his firm at risk once it goes public while his mom worries that he eats and sleeps with his computer. Pushed by his mom, sister, and especially his legal advisor as the face of the company, Hal reluctantly hires Farmington, Connecticut based Image Consultant and Media Trainer Shannon Shane to make him over. When he first sees how beautiful the statuesque Shannon is, Hal's brain melts as he prefers to make it with her, but his worst memories from high school surface. To his shock he soon realizes that Shannon has her uncertainties too as she feels no one takes her intelligence seriously, which he does from the moment she mentions Saddam. UNZIPPED? Is an interesting contemporary romance that focuses on not judging a person by what one sees as both lead characters run much deeper than the initial first impressions. Hal is a terrific individual drooling over the six foot beauty who he assumes is outside his range while Shannon thinks the brainy computer guru has done great things way above her inane makeovers. The humorous dialogues between the couple clue the reader that this pair once they unzip the masks belong together producing hairless microhumans but fearing that their offspring would have her brains and his looks to paraphrase Einstein as she believes she is a moron and he thinks he is the centerfold of nerds.

Sex and Sensibility
Shannon Hollis
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792077, $4.75, 248 pp.

In Santa Rita, California, software millionaire Jay Singleton, over the objection of his chief of security Griffin Knox hires a psychic to help find his missing daughter, Christina, who he believes has been kidnapped. Griffin, a former cop, is skeptical that a psychic can help though he reluctantly finds himself attracted to Tessa Nichols. Instead Griffin wants to follow the law enforcement handbook on handling abductions with the goal to bring Christina home safely instead of mumbo jumbo. Adding to his doubts is that he knows Tessa f rom a previous confrontation (make that collaboration) and believes she is a fake. However, Tessa is looking forward to this assignment and not just because she feels she can help with the rescue, make a large sum of money, and enhance her reputation. She knows that Griff is her soulmate and plans to lure him into a relationship whether he wants one or not. SEX AND SENSIBILITY is a fine investigative paranormal romance that hooks the audience the moment that Griff learns that the "Princesa" appears to have been kidnapped and never slows down until Tessa confronts Griff. Fans of off beat suspense thrillers will appreciate this strong tale as the sensitive persuades the Skeptic (and readers) that she is real and that they make a great team.

Half Broken Things
Morag Joss
ISBN: 0385339402, $22.00, 320 pp.

Town and Country Sitters sent the letter to subcontracted house sitter Jean that after she completes the current nine-month assignment at Bath's Walden Manor, she will receive no further work because she will have turned sixty-five and cannot obtain insurance. Melancholy, Jean has lived alone even as an adopted child as her new parents never showered her with love. Over the years she made up imaginary relatives like her niece Jenny who cared what happens to her. In Walden Manor, Jean accidentally shatters a teapot containing a set of keys that enable the lonely woman to open the upstairs lock rooms and her imagination as a resident of Walden Manor. She creates a grown son that years before she was forced to give up for adoption and advertises in a magazine pleading for his return. Con artist Michael responds accompanied by a pregnant woman, Steph, whom he just met as she flees from her abusive boyfriend. The trio forges a happy home though the end state countdown begins when Steph's baby is born but inexplicably dies and a country curate who is visiting recognizes Michael as a thief. Even without Sara Selkirk appearing, Morag Joss is a brilliant virtuoso playing a dark concerto that grips the audience as few novels can. The lead trio is damaged goods that society ignores; each finds solace in the loving family unit they form together leading to the audience to wonder how far any one of them or as a "mob" will go to protect what they now believe is theirs. Though British, fans of deep family dramas will appreciate this gritty thriller that recolor "values" from red to blue.

Bread and Dreams
Jonatha Ceely
ISBN: 0385336896, $22.00, 416 pp.

In October 1848, Irish orphan Mina Pigot and her Jewish protector Mr. Benjamin Serle sail from Liverpool on the Victoria for New York where they plan to start life anew. Mina and Benjamin find her brother Daniel working as a waiter at Broadway's Columbia House Hotel. Mr. Serle immediately obtains work as a master chef while Mina struggles to adjust to being a salesgirl before obtaining work in the kitchen of the wealthy Westervelt family. However, even as Mina's skills in the kitchen make her highly regarded by her employer, she notices the trysts and affairs that if revealed would destroy the family. She also begins to dream about her protector Mr. Serle though their religions and his age leave little hope for anything beyond a fatherly interest in her. Still Mina has come through a lot and will not give up on becoming Mrs. Benjamin Serle because she knows she totally loves him beyond the gratitude that he saved her life. She wonders how to make him see that she is no longer a girl without a home, but a woman in love and willing to go anywhere with her man. The sequel to the wonderful MINA is a fabulous historical fiction that provides readers with insight into mid nineteenth century mostly in New York, but also somewhat San Francisco and other locales. The story line brings to life America so that the audience can taste and smell the foods whether preparation occurs in a hotel, a mansion, or a bakery. The romantic subplot is deftly handled as Mr. Serle and readers will realize how much Mina has grown up. Still the romance enhances the readers' deep sensorial view of a bygone era.

Winds of Sonoma
Nikki Arana
ISBN: 0800730488, $12.99, 336 pp.

When Bill O'Connell dies, attorney Angelica Amante picks up his caseload. One particular case involving an American produce company using illegal immigrants bothers Angelica as it reminds her of plight in her hometown of Sonoma. She tells her boss Constantine Cvervenka how she feels about this case. Constantine warns her she not only will derail off the fast track to partnership, but she will lose much more. Still Angelica quits choosing principals over advancement, but soon learns no other New York law firm will touch her. She returns to Sonoma seeking a new start. At home she meets kindhearted but quiet and hard working Antonio Perez, who's proud of what he has done with his life though he is a migrant worker. Her patents believe he is beneath her, but she finds solace with this gentle person who is at peace with himself. Angelica hopes to one day feel in harmony like he is. WINDS OF SONOMA is a fabulous inspirational tale that focuses on to thine own self be true if a person seeks inner serenity. The story line is character driven with Angelica learning from Antonio to accept who she is. Though there is little action and some might question the chances of this relationship getting off the ground as she is the daughter of wealth, readers will appreciate this fine uplifting novel that leaves the message that it is okay to be yourself.

Lisa Jackson
ISBN: 0451411552, $6.99, 336 pp.

In 1287 the Christmas Eve fire at Wybren Castle set by Carrick killed his family while he fled into the night. Two years later, Carrick's betrayed lover Lady Morwenna of Calon dreams of him or in her estimation she suffered a nightmare starring him. Not long afterward, hunters bring a near dead viciously battered stranger to Castle Calon. Morwenna decides to try to save the unconscious male until she notices the Wybren crest on his ring. Though she believes her "guest" is her cowardly former lover Carrick, Morwenna reluctantly cares for her patient and notifies the current Lord of Wybren who is her guest. She detests him for sleeping with her and deserting her to birth their child out of wedlock, but she refuses to think the womanizer would commit cold blooded murder. Morwenna can not accept how fickle she is because though he lies near death she wants him even after what he did to her. As he begins to recover, someone wants him dead and does not mind killing anyone in their way. The mysteries starting with who the nearly dead soldier is and the who-done-it make for a fine historical suspense thriller. The romance takes a back seat to the mystery though Morwenna's doubts about her feelings and about saving the reprobate's life bring the relationship between her and Carrick to the forefront of solving who the arsonist was as she knows her beloved is a rat but not a murdering rodent. The strong cast especially the lead couple leaves fans of Lisa Jackson with a terrific medieval one sitting thriller.

Soul of a Witch
Angela Verdenius
Wings ePress
ISBN: 1590885775, $TBA

Sinya the space pirate worries about his younger brother, Wes, whom he raised and kept safe when the lad's weird skills made him an outcast. However, those skills have become so excruciatingly painful, Wes has gone into a coma, which Sinya assumes is self-induced, to escape his torment. Desperate Sinya knows of the galaxies-wide reputation as a healer of Beulah the witch. Sinya and his crew land near Beulah's home. He carries the unconscious Wes to her. She realizes the time has come for her confrontation with evil and that Wes' problem is caused by a lack of control over his abilities. Before she can truly work her magic on the comatose empath, the evil mystic Hortra captures Wes' soul on the mystic plane. Sinya and Beulah must join forces if they are to save his sibling and others in a fight that occurs as much in a mystical realm where she is the warrior as on the mundane plane. This reviewer is a big fan of Angela Verdenius, who consistently writes some of the best romantic futuristic works of speculative fiction on the market today (and for the past few years). Her latest thriller is action-packed, filled with heated romance and adventure in outer space and especially on the mystical plane. The powerful cast grips the audience, who feel Sinya's deep love for his sibling and the healer while trying to hide how much he cares about people especially his loyal crew. Beulah owns the tale as a strong female who also loves deeply and also cares about people. Together they make quite a team and story as they oppose an incredibly evil enemy. As expected SOUL OF A WITCH is a novel filled with heart and soul.

Life Sentences
Alice Blanchard
ISBN: 0446576727, $24.95

Boston based research neurogeneticist Daisy Hubbard is obsessed with her work on gene therapy for brain disorders because of family illnesses. Her brother died at six years old of Stier-Zellar's disease; her mother has depression; and her sister Anna suffers from schizophrenia. When her mom goes over the edge because Anna vanishes, Daisy thinks nothing of this because her sibling has disappeared before. However, mom makes a persuasive case that this time the vanishing act is different so reluctantly Daisy leaves her laboratory haven to travel to California. LAPD Detective Jack Makowski convinces Daisy to help him with her sibling's missing person's case that includes other females that seem linked to a serial killer. Starting with visiting Anna's friends in De Campo Beach, last known place that she apparently was before falling off the map, the duo investigates unaware that the culprit is taking genetic engineering to the extreme by eradicating those with specific diseases. LIFE SENTENCES is a terrific medical thriller that provides readers with a deep look at the full impact on families by degenerative diseases to include members without any illnesses as there is a psychological impact as well as physical and financial factors. The exhilarating story line is action-packed yet insures the two key players, Daisy and the killer come across as similar yet opposites. Anyone who reads Alice Blanchard's strong tale will wonder why we bushwhack stem cell research.

Crystal Gorge
David and Leigh Eddings
Warner Aspect
ISBN: 0446532274, $25.95, 487 pp.

Each of the Four Elder Gods controls their own Domain in the land of Dhrall. They walk among their people and interact with them but the Elder Gods are coming to the end of their 25,000 year cycle and must soon take a "nap". They are exhibiting signs of forgetfulness and senility which is why they raised their children earlier than expected to become Dreamers whose visions of the future come true. They are needed to tell the Elder Gods and their human allies what the insect-like Vlagh will command her servants to do next. The Vlagh's goal is to eliminate all of humanity but she has already been defeated in the god's Veltan's Domain by a volcano eruption and in the south in Zelana's Domain by a sea of water erupting from the ground. Now the Vlagh is sending her servants to the north to Dahlaine's Domain only this time many of them are in the form of man and they emit a fragrance that makes the tribes fight each other or in some cases plan to overthrow the army of the Elder Gods. These servants also emit a poison into the air that kills humans at an alarming rate. They must be stopped and a group of warriors plan to do just that before the army of the Elder Gods prepares to take their stand in the next battle at Crystal Gorge. Unlike the other two books in The Dreamers series, CRYSTAL GORGE is filled with lots of action, plenty of battle scenes and insights into the different cultures of the various tribes that live in Dhrall. Former enemy tribes come together to form a nation so that acting together they are stronger and the probability of defeating a common enemy is made possible. Readers will like the Elder Gods who seem to be coming to terms with their limitations and are willing to let humans help them in their fight against the Vlagh. This epic fantasy novel is entertaining and highly original.

Orphan's Destiny
Robert Buetner
ISBN: 0446614300, $6.99, 320 pp

Earth was unaware that Slugs used Jupiter's moon Ganymede as a base of operations to invade. Over sixty million humans died while cities were decimated. The climate as a result of the explosion radically changed for the worse. It was due to the heroism of General Jason Wander and his troops that humanity defeated the Slugs. Now the seven hundred survivors of the infantry are going home to Earth where Jason is used as a heroic symbol by the politicians who want the budget to be focused more on rebuilding than on defense weapons. The problem is that Jason isn't sure that the Slug problem is over but he is ordered by the president to not raise fear in the citizenry. Unfortunately Jason is proven right when a vast amount of Slug spaceships, some as big as cities head towards an earth that has only one working warship. Jason and three people he trusts try to devise a suicide mission that will destroy the Slug fleet if God is there copilot. ORPHAN'S DESTINY defines twenty-first military science fiction novels. This is also a coming of age tale of an infantry soldier who earns a field promotion as a general and then becomes the leader such a high ranking officer is supposed to be. There is plenty of action in this entertaining novel set in a near future that is totally believable. Technology hasn't advanced too much since the early twenty-first century but there were enough changes to give the book a futuristic feel. In the next book in this series humanity takes the war to the Slugs.

The Archons of the Stars
Alison Baird
ISBN: 044669097X, $13.95, 327 pp.

Ailia Shipwright has been recognized as the human savior Princess of the Stars Tryna Lia, expected to defeat the malevolent God Valdur though her enemy contains similar power coupled with much more experience and no morals. Over the years Ailia has learned to use her vast deity-like abilities (see THE STONE OF THE STARS and THE EMPIRE OF THE STARS) and her allies have helped her prepare for the final confrontation coming very soon. Meanwhile one of her deadliest foes the Avatar of Valdur Prince Morlan remains almost exclusively in his dragon body as Mandrake prepares himself to become the host of Valdur. While their respective allies war all over heaven, earth, hell and every other place in between, the final battle remains between Ailia and Mandrake fortified by Valdur on the evil God's home territory. The chances of the Princess triumphing seem remote at best. This is a fabulous climax to a terrific fantasy trilogy as readers who have followed Ailia will appreciate the strong final confrontation with the Baird universe at stake. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed while loaded with all forms of mythological creatures especially shapeshifting dragons. Still the saga belongs to the heroine whose coming of age might mean her death and that of everyone she cares about. The pressure of being destiny's darling still remains from the previous novels, but the Princess steps to the plate to fight mano vs. womano with everything at stake. It is better to read the previous books first knowing that THE ARCHONS OF THE STARS is a five star triumph.

Siege of Night and Fire
John Helfers
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142262, $25.95, 339 pp.

In the Wyrling Forest live many humanoid races that regard humans as their enemy. The short green Vaarblog use their claws to dig tunnels that connect their lairs and are the most powerful of the inhabitants of the forest. Klarshk, the warrior shaman of the clan has united all of his species into a fighting force. He will use magic as well as mundane battle techniques to take control of Wyrling Keep and from there conquer the rest of the Eightfold Kingdoms. Teris Rathden and Syrena Marsena, royals in their respective countries, are getting married as part of the peace treaty. As soon as the vows are pronounced the Vaarblog and their allies, the grayskins attack, forcing the wedding party to retreat into the fortified keep. Teris is pleased with his bride, a warrior woman who can fight as well as any man and who helps the soldiers and the healer during the siege. During the two day battle the pair falls deeply in love even though they are surrounded by danger from within and without the keep. In a daring move that could mean his death, Teris and his allies strike deep in the enemy camp in the hope of killing the one being whose death will end the battle. John Helfers has created an imaginary realm so detailed and believable readers will believe it actually exists. The battle scenes are so intricately described so that the audience can see it in the mind's eye while the romance between Teris and Syrena is used as a tension reliever. This novel will appeal to romance and fantasy readers who like reading fantastic cross-genre novel. It would be a joy if the author places future books in the Eightfold Kingdoms.

The Trial of Tompa Lee
Edward Hoornaert
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143269, $25.95

Tompa Lee has worked hard and diligently especially while in space for the past five months to overcome being a Manhattan "street meat". However, the Commerce Space Navy officers and crew of the Vance still treat her as if she still lives in the ooze below the food chain. On the first shore leave ever at planet Zee-Shode, Tompa just wants to fit in. However, someone tosses a Navy grenade into the pub she is in killing several patrons. The Shon accuse Tompa of committing the terrorist act. Her peers and superiors assume she did the deadly deed because she is street meat. Navy MP Dante Roussel escorts Tompa to stand trial for murder. Only elderly Shon Awmit and those who did the atrocities believe Tompa is innocent. Her trial is combat with her supporters on her side and her accusers on the other. It is Tompa and Shon vs. at least three hundred complainants until Dante joins her side though he is unwelcome by the New York loner. THE TRIAL OF TOMPA LEE is a terrific twenty-second century legal thriller that takes place in its entirety on an alien planet governed by extraterrestrial laws. The Navy sees Tompa as expendable, which bothers Dante, but not the beleaguered heroine as she is used to her government abandoning people like her as they did in Manhattan twelve years earlier. The trial is reminiscent of the best of classic Star Trek. Science Fiction fans will want to read this fantastic futuristic trial by combat tale that never slows down yet insures that the magnificent three are fully developed and that the Shon are a thriving unique species, all that inside a great legal thriller.

Sight Unseen
Suzanne Barr
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143005, $25.95

As a child, Richard overheard his ailing mom and her best friend, Iris Burke, discuss the latter and her spouse adopting him if she dies. Not long afterward, she passes away, but Ashton refuses to allow Richard into their home. Bitter, Richard is adopted by the working class Johnsons who he detests because he believes they are beneath him, before joining the military. Almost two decades later, Ashton hires architect Richard Johnson, who brings a military contract with him that saves the Burke firm. Ashton introduces Richard to his daughter Susan, nursing a broken heart. Susan and Richard fall in love, marry, and have a daughter. However, Susan begins seeing the violent side of her spouse and worries about the safety of their child. She plans to leave Richard when little Ashley is abducted. Though Richard has no redeeming qualities and a doctor who purposely misdiagnoses Iris for years gets off relatively soft, fans will appreciate this tense suspense thriller. The story line is action-packed as Richard cleverly manipulates the Burke family to do his bidding as he plans to avenge the hurt he suffered when Iris failed to adopt him. Filled with twists, fans will appreciate this taut tale with the life of an infant at stake.

The Man with the Iron-On Badge
Lee Goldberg
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143722, $25.95

Wannabe sleuth Harvey Mapes works the graveyard guard shift at the exclusive Bel Vista Estates in Camarillo, California. His enjoyment in life comes from hard boiled detective novels and TV shows and occasionally his neighbor of six years Carol has sex with him though she holds out for a better guy than Harvey is. Wealthy resident Cyril Parkus hires Harvey to follow his wife Lauren because he wants no paper trail preferring to pay in cash and easy to obtain reports. Harvey enjoys trailing the beautiful Lauren. He soon realizes she is being blackmailed. He also gets into a car accident with an illegal and receives a beating from the blackmailer yet Harvey in spite of a diet of Advil and Pepto enjoys what he is doing encouraged by Carol who sees enthusiasm in him for the first time. That is until the case spins deadly and Harvey is relived of further duty. This is a terrific satire that lampoons hardboiled detectives from novels and TV as Harvey imitates them only to get beaten up and more. The story line is action-packed, but contains a tongue in cheek look at the sub-genre. THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE is a pure gold winner that leaves the audience re-looking those car chases and human tails that is standard success in literature and television.

Constable's Wedding
Laurie Moore
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142491, $26.95

Tarrant County Constable Jinx Porter panics as the clock is running down on his chances to persuade Raven not to marry her fiance Tommy Greenway who is incognito somewhere in the Sudan or a similar locale. The office is working on retrieving a five years old girl Magick whose mother died and father Fleck is a satanic cultist; her maternal grandparents want the child with them. Raven especially worries because she fears the youngster will be sacrificed in an upcoming summer solstice ritual. As they search for the child other events interfere with Raven's wedding plans. Her elderly neighbor dies, bashed in the head; a gypsy she arrested ate her engagement ring; and the DEA is investigating the florist while the caterer is simply dead. Then there is Sigrid the new investigator in her life, and finally a groom whom has remained incommunicado for the past five days. Wedding blues seem too trite. The Constable police procedurals are some of the best on the market today. The latest one is the typical amusing yet serious mystery as Raven gets closer to marriage, but her groom is somewhere in the middle of nowhere surrounded by terrorists. The missing child cult subplot adds depth to a strong tale. Fans will want Moore Jinx-Raven and ilk tales from this wonderfully entertaining author.

The Shooting Season
Steve Copling
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143242, $25.95

When the sniper kills gynecologist Dr. Charles Thayer in Plano, Texas, law enforcement knows the serial killer is back. The first incident occurred three years ago in Everett, Washington with a doctor, lawyer, judge, and lead police detective murdered in that order. A year later the same deadly pattern occurred in Tempe, Arizona. Last year the murders happened in Boulder, Colorado. Lead Detective Greg Rush knows that if he fails to stop this killer he will close out this year's tale with his death. FBI Agent Zeke Bunning heads the investigation by giving out false leads to the media to try to trick the culprit who does not seem to meet the pattern of a serial killer. Gregg did some training time with Zeke and worries the cop will panic when the pressure mounts; his partner Rick Chinbroski is already badly frightened with his wedding just three weeks off and being a potential final target for this spree. This time the killer plans to wrap up his four years of murder by achieving his objective with the killing of Stub, who he believes he owes death to; everything else was training and tricks to fool law enforcement until he could take out the cop he has hated since childhood. This is an exciting police procedural serial killer cat and mouse tale though the motive of the killer to murder anyone besides Stub, especially innocent strangers, whom he considered a bully, is difficult to fathom. The story line is fast-paced with the readers feeling the tension as Greg assumes he is the final target of this quartet of homicides. Fans of edgy thrillers will want to read this tense tale.

Dying to Sell
Maggie Sefton
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143102, $25.95

In Fort Collins, Colorado Shamrock Realty realtor Kate Doyle detests having to sell the home of friends, attorney Mark and Amanda Schuster, who have filed for divorce. Mark wants to get rid of their joint house as soon as possible while Amanda wants the most money they can obtain. Kate works documents with Mark and promises to finish up later that day once she obtains Amanda's signature. When Kate returns to see Mark, she is horrified to find him dead with a letter opener stuck through his throat. The police assume a crime of passion occurred; thus Amanda is the prime suspect as a rejected wife. Kate thinks otherwise and begins to investigate the activities of a lawyer she thought she knew as a friend. Instead she finds he had several affairs and pulled a land development ploy that angered perspective contractors. Unlike the local cops, Kate has a long list of suspects. Although readers will doubt Kate would investigate especially since the corpse shook her to her bone marrow in spite of her best friend as the prime suspect, fans will be pleased with this fun amateur sleuth tale. Kate is shocked when she begins to see a radically different picture of someone she thought she knew merge as she finds Mark was a womanizer and applied questionable business ethics to transactions. The revelations come on top of thinking that Mark and Amanda were the poster couple for marriage before they ask her to sell their house as part of their divorce settlement. Maggie Sefton provides a wonderful who-done-it starring a shell-shocked layperson risking her life to prove her pal is innocent.

The Card
D-L Nelson
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144176, $26.95

They met at Boston University in the early 1960s sharing a room; yet no two roommates could be as different as Jane Andrews and Diana Bourque are. They are the opposites in physical appearance, emotional outlook, and mental state. Jane's goal is to become the best mother and wife ever while Diana wants to run her father's newspaper the Sarasota Journal. Yet the duo becomes more than just friends, they become beloved sisters. Every year, one of the pair sends the same Christmas card with a new note to the other. This has helped them cope with distance, cheating husband, a dying spouse, near death experiences, childhood, and the conclusion that marriage, motherhood and business entrepreneurship are not anything like they expected. Through the next two decades plus they remain friends symbolized by the loving back and forth card. THE CARD is an intriguing relationship drama starring two individuals who love each other like soul sisters though they may be content apart. Once a year they rotate who informs the other that they still live and whether it has been a good year or not via the Christmas card. Fans of deep character studies will appreciate this saga over the years between two women who rely on one another to survive the trials and tribulations of life.

Eye of the Beholder
Kathy Herman
ISBN: 1590523490, $12.99, 300 pp.

Guy doesn't approve of his wife's friends which include a Moslem woman, a mentally challenged couple and an elderly neighbor who loves to gossip. This puts a strain on their marriage because Ellen is determined choose her own friends. When Guy's legal partner takes him and his secretary Kinsey out for a celebratory dinner, the assistant becomes so drunk that he lets her to spend the night at his apartment on his couch. Soon after someone breaks into his apartment but luckily Guy isn't here. His Seaport home and Tallahassee apartment are broken into after Guy finds a pouch of cocaine in his couch. Kinsey denies knowing anything it and believes the break-ins were the work of a disgruntled client. When explosives are found on a boat owned by Moslem extremists, tensions in Seaport mount; when a Jewish and an Arab students are killed and the local mosque is desecrated, it looks like the town will erupt into bloodshed. Guy wants Ellen to stay away from her Moslem friends even as he becomes more enmeshed in problems that threaten not only him but his family as well.&nb sp; It will take a miracle for racial tensions to ease and for Guy and Ellen to come to an understanding about their differing perceptions of people. The Second Seaport novel addresses the social issues of racial prejudices and the fear Americans have for Moslems, even those who are American citizens. This storyline is wrapped around a thrilling suspense storyline involving drug trafficking. Guy is much more intolerant than Ellen who reaches out a hand in to almost everyone. To his credit he understands and regrets his prejudices and the pressure he put on his wife. Katy Herman writes another mesmerizing entertaining work.

Sex and Sensibility
Rosemarie Santini
ISBN: 0976411105, $22.00

Manhattan based film critic Lizzie Parsons is the ultimate JANO (Jane-o-holics adulating Jane Austin). She classifies people by their favorite Austin novel and cherishes decorating in accordance with her Goddess' novel descriptions. She has two potential men in her life. Gabriel Graves meets the key requirement of being a card carrying JANO member while her boss Harry Archer, so filled with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, is the reincarnation of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Lizzie, having been raised by a fiery independent feminist and a film producing daddy who always calls her his princess, cannot make up her mind which man she wants. Of course the visiting British actor Darling Lad makes the decision that much more difficult as he seems to be the epitome of Jane Austin's male characters yet also appears to scorn the JANO world. Will she give up the freedom of going solo or turn to one of the hunks, but if so who is her ideal leading man. SEX AND SENSIBILITY is a terrific Jane Austin meets chick lit madcap Manhattan romance starring a delightfully irrational, obsessed, and wacky heroine, whose wild Sex in the City-like escapades make for a fun and fine story. Readers will appreciate dizzy Lizzie who classifies everyone in accordance with the rules of Jane Austin with JANOs obviously at the top rung of her pantheon. Chick lit fans and those who enjoy a rather deep character study will want to read Rosemarie Santini's fabulous freedom frolic.

Once Upon a King
Holly Jacobs
Silhouette Romance
ISBN: 0373197853, $4.25

Erie, Pennsylvania bookstore owner Cara Phillips travels to the European kingdom of Eliason to attend the weddings of her two best friends, Princ ess Maria Anna Parker Mickovich Dillonetti (see ONCE UPON A PRINCESS) and Shey Carlson (see ONCE UPON A PRINCE). She hides from her pals, their fiances, and Mike that she is pregnant from an out of character one night stand with Mike, who turns out to be Maria's brother, Prince Antonio Paul Michael Stuart Mickovich Dillonetti, the heir to the throne. Prince Michael Dillonetti has been searching for the American who shared with him the greatest night of his life. When she arrives at court for his sister's wedding Mike believes she is his kismet soulmate. Now to persuade the obstinate Yank that she is his queen and the upcoming double wedding ceremony should be expanded to a triple. Holly Jacobs' "Royal Invasion" has been a fun lighthearted trilogy starring delightful protagonists. The final tale ONCE UPON A KING is a wonderful regal romance mindful of Roman Holiday as the audience will ponder whether Prince Mike can convince his beloved commoner that she is his queen or will she return to the Keystone State and her bookstore. Holly Jacob s provides a fine conclusion to a whimsical regal miniseries.

Temptation Calls
Caridad Pineiro
Silhouette Intimate Moments
ISBN: 0373274602, $4.99, 249 pp.

In 2004 Spanish Harlem, Samantha Turner runs the Artemis Shelter to help women and their small children. However, even she is unable to prevent a drive by shooting from killing three children under sixteen years old though she saved the lives of three others due to her vampiric powers that she gained during the Civil War. NYPD Detective Peter Daley investigates the incident, but cannot fathom how three children survived or who the mysterious Good Samaritan is. He finds a blouse with blood and two bullet holes in the garbage and a tape at a nearby grocer shows a woman wearing that blouse in the store just before the killings. He learns her name and finds most people consider her a saint. The Medical Examiner tells him blood he found does not fit any known classification and lacks DNA. As he continues to investigate, he and Samantha fall in love. He knows she is different, although he is not sure how. She fears intimacy ever since her husband battered h er killing her unborn son back in 1860. Their seemingly star-crossed worlds are about to collide with chances heavily in favor that neither will survive. TEMPTATION CALLS is a fabulous supernatural police procedural romance starring a wonderful caring female and a likable intelligent detective. The story line works on two levels that merge together as Sam hides her vampire background while Peter follows the clues one at a time until he learns the truth. As she did with her two previous "calls" (see DANGER CALLS and DARKNESS CALLS), Caridad Pineiro will take a large bite out of the readers' sleep to finish this fine thriller in one sitting.

Medusa Rising
Cindy Dees
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513747, $4.99

Led by Viktor Dupont, who uses his wife and two stepchildren as a disguise to get on board, terrorists hold hostage the crew and passengers of the cruise ship Grand Adventure. Chances of rescuing everyone seem remote. Still the US Navy Medusa force manages to get Dr. Aleesa Gautier on board as a passenger. Aleesha meets Michael Somerset, who insists he is an undercover operative trying to destroy the Operation Defiance group from within. Though she is attracted to him, she doubts she can trust him even if he is telling the truth that he is a British operative. Aleesha ponders whether a few years in close contact could change one's loyalties. However, she also knows without him, she cannot succeed in regaining control of the vessel and saving the lives of the innocent. She also wonders if her attraction to Michael is fogging up her thought processes. MEDUSA RISING, the sequel to the exciting THE MEDUSA PROJECT, is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller starring a wonderful heroine. The story line is fast-paced, gripping the audience once the wolf in sheep clothing Viktor reveals to the reader his plot. Though the Medusas being on board seems a stretch, no one will care as Michael tries to convince Aleesa to team up with him to battle terrorists and more because they have fallen in love.

Beyond the Rules
Doranna Durgin
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513739, $4.99

Kimmer Reed fled from her physically abusive past in Munroeville, Pennsylvania to the Watkins Glen, New York area. She wants to refuse, but knows she must help her beleaguered brother whom she has not seen in years and does not know which sibling he even is at first. Her middle brother Hank needs Kimmer's help as his life and that of his wife and her nieces are in per il from goons he allowed to use one of his facilities and that was the reason he witnessed a murder. She wants nothing to do with her family, but the goons have followed Hank to her so she has no choice. Her security expert and former good guy CIA Agent boyfriend Ryobe "Rio" Carlsen assists her as they fight to stay alive. However, though Rio wants his beloved in his life for eternity, she has doubts as she knows first hand how families are the backbone for abuse. Fans of exciting action-packed, gender bending twists will appreciate this fun thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Kimmer allows Hank to catch up to her and never slows down as her disdain for her sibling remains a constant. Though some of the spins seem a stretch, suspense fans will not care as they will root for Kimmer and Rye to CHECKMATE the goons and save her nieces while wondering where Hank truly fits in the mess. Doranna Durgin daringly provides a fine romantic suspense tale starring a capable lead couple.

The Golden Girl
Erica Orloff
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513720, $4.99

Heiress Madison Taylor Pruitt is horrified when the police name her father as the prime suspect in the murder of her former best friend Claire, who was murdered in a warehouse. Though Maddie has been angry with her dad and Claire for becoming a couple, she wants to help him, but feels hopeless that she can do anything while realizing that money cannot buy everything. She feels worthless that is until the Gotham Roses offers her an opportunity to go undercover to find the culprit. Madison agrees and soon struggles with balancing her sleuthing efforts and her job. When hunky teacher John Hernandez enters her complicated life, she finds her world even more difficult to balance as she wants to spend precious moments with him. However, her juggling act crashes when the killer, aware that Madison is seeking him or her, decides to eliminate her. THE GOLDEN GIRL is a fast-paced action thriller that requires the audience to accept that the lead protagonist is capable of performing daring deeds that a pro could not do. Still fans will root for Madison as she goes undercover to learn who killed Claire and set up her father to take the fall. The romance adds depth to the fun amateur sleuth war of the roses that hopefully will lead to more thrillers including a back story starring Gotham Roses CEO Renee.

Touch of the White Tiger
Julie Beard
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513712, $4.99

In 2104 Chicago, all the evidence points towards Certified Retribution Specialist Angel Baker as the killer of the mayor's son and her best friend retributionist Roy Liebman. QED Director Lenten William Townsend arrests Angel. She knows she must rely on herself to prove her innocence and hopefully to catch the real culprit who has framed her. Angel believes she might have an ally in Chicago Police Detective Ricuccio Marco. However, she quickly revises her opinion even as she is very attracted to him as his behavior seems to be more towards nailing her for the homicide. Deciding to go back to her original plan of sleuthing alone, Angel begins digging for evidence that will affirm she is innocent; Ric tries to keep an eye on her allegedly as part of his job, but he knows deep in his heart the reason is to keep her safe. TOUCH OF THE WHITE TIGER, the sequel to the delightful KISS OF THE BLUE ANGEL, is a strong science fiction romantic mystery. The setting is terrifically described as Chicago is a twenty-second century NRA fantasy with guns so prevalent that it makes the Wild West look like a rodeo. The action-packed story line grips the audience with several intriguing twists, but like Angel readers will be somewhat confused by where Ric stands in her quest to prove her innocence. Similar in tone to the great Eve Dallas police procedurals, fans of three sub-genres will enjoy this strong retributionist thriller.

Saving Allegheny Green
Lori Wilde
Silhouette Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836619, $5.99

Sistene "Sissy" Green shoots her boyfriend wannabe singer Rockerfeller Hughes in the toe. Aunt Trish gets her niece Allegheny Green to take charge. Before she can Parker County Sheriff Samuel Conahegg arrives as the neighbors, Reverend and Mrs. Swigley called the cops. The ambulance takes Rockerfeller to the hospital while Sam takes the Green siblings downtown to question them. Sam and Ally are attracted to one another, but duty comes first. He flushes the marijuana he found down the toilet so possession charge do not occur and insists there is no law for shooting a rat. He frees both siblings, but warns Ally about her sister b eing involved with drug traffickers and worse. Before they leave a thug beats up Sissie insisting she tell her boyfriend he owes big bucks and will be next. However, though the siblings find Rockerfeller kissing his wife in the hospital that is not the end. Murder follows and soon Ally though innocent as the "enabler" to her loony family becomes involved in sexual blackmail, drugs, loan sharking, and threats to her well being with only Sam to keep her safe even as she wonders who will protect her from her raging hormones whenever he shows up as her protector. This Wilde police procedural romance never slows down from the first moment that Sissy and Sam meet until the final confrontation with the killer. The zany story line contains an eccentric (that is kind) secondary cast while Allegheny as her family's enabler will remind the audience of Marilyn in the Munster. The who-done-it is well written, but it is the antics of the Green kin that force the sheriff to "save" the besieged Ally (for himself that is) that make for a fun read.

Learning Curves
Cindi Myers
Silhouette Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836759, $5.99

In Denver Shelly Piper learns that "perky" Pam Parsons was selected for the anchor spot on "First for News" though she worked diligently for ten years at the show; worse she learns that her size 12 did her in; even worse they offer her a spot on a weight reduction program to be shown over a year. Irate, Shelly quits. Former Dallas anchor Jack Halloran, funded by his Uncle Ed Palmer, hires Shelly to co-anchor his KPRM public TV show "Inside Story". As they work diligently to make their show a success, the hunk, who quit his last show because no one took him serious as a reporter only a handsome visage, and the "fat" female co-star begin to fall in love. However, can they form a relationship off the air that will not destroy their terrific on the air affinity? This is an intriguing contemporary newsroom romance that stars two wonderful protagonists struggling to overcome perceptions of how the media and consequently the audience see anchors. Jack wants to be taken serious instead of cotton candy while Shelly needs to prove that a big woman can perform the job. Though their romance takes a back seat to their journalistic relationship, fans of character driven tales will enjoy Cindi Myers fine look at the spotlights of TV news.

Colby Conspiracy
Debra Webb
Silhouette Signature Saga
ISBN: 0373836635, $5.99

Though she is honored to be Chicago Woman of the Year, Victoria Colby-Camp is more euphoric over the mental improvement that her son Jim has shown recently especially since he and Tasha North fell in love. Jim was snatched almost twenty years ago when he was seven and turned into the killing Seth whose goal was to murder Victoria for abandoning him. However, her elation would turn to despair if she knew Seth resurfaced and started to rape a pregnant Tasha. Former military strategist Daniel Marks is in town complements of the Colby Agency that wants to hire him. Also in Chicago is Emily Hastings whose father a veteran homicide detective was murdered. She finds letters linking her dad to Victoria, the woman's long ago murdered first husband James, and her dad's first partner Marelyn Rutland that confuses her. Soon she will meet Daniel and they will be embroiled in the COLBY CONSPIRACY that goes back almost two decades ago. Though the subplots can become confusing at first, once the audience comprehends how this complex superb suspense thriller starts to come together, they will want more Colby Agency tales; (see FILES FROM THE COLBY AGENCY: THE BODYGUARD'S BABY PROTECTIVE CUSTODY). The ensemble cast is solid as fans will feel with Victoria who has overcome so much tragedy, hope Jim "defeats" Seth with Tasha at his side, and root for Daniel and Emily to make it while wondering what really happened two decades ago. A final twist marks a strong Webb of deceit tale that showcases a fine author on her A-game.

The Good Doctor
Karen Rose Smith
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373389302, $4.99

In Red Rock, Texas sisters Linda and Stacey Clark remind their older brother thirty-nine years old pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Clark that he will be sold to the highest bidder at the bachelor auction to raise money to purchase high tech equipment for the pediatric wing of the hospital. As his siblings leave, New York based neurosurgeon Dr. Violet Fortune visits Peter for the first time. She explains that her relative Ryan is suffering from headaches and a tingling in his arm that he wants to hide from his wife Lily until he knows what is going on. Peter agrees to see Ryan at the doctor's house. Peter and Violet begin to see one another as both are attracted to each other. He also introduces her to Celeste, a patient whom he loves as if she was his biological daughter. As the two doctors fall in love, they both worry about Ryan and Celeste, people they care who are very ill. Still love may prove not enough as she is big city New York and he is small town Texas. The return to the Red Rock and the Fortunes of Texas (see the SECRET ADMIRER anthology by this author, Ann Major and Christine Rimmer) is a delightful contemporary romance that deals with people with serious health issues and how it impacts on people who love them.. The story line contains two subplots; the obvious romance between Peter and Violet and a powerful deep look at individuals especially children (but also Ryan) suffering from ailments. Fans' hearts will go out to Celeste just like the lead duo's strong feelings towards the young girl. Karen Rose Smith provides a gripping select tale that reade rs will appreciate.

First Time Home
Dixie Browning
Signature Saga
ISBN: 0373770588, $5.99

In New York City, federal agents question public relations specialist Laurel Lawless on what she knows about the finances of the firm she works for, J. Blessing Associates; she knows nothing. Her boss and lover Jerry Blessing asks her to sit tight and gives her a water color he insists his mother painted to hold for him. Meanwhile with the agency closed and no prospect for employment, Laurel goes to look at the North Carolina property she inherited from her late father, whom she rarely seen. Laurel meets two cousins she never knew with one arranging temporary quarters on the Outer Banks' Hatteris Island in a neighbor's house that needs roofing. That neighbor Cody Morningstar arrives with his reticent eight years old daughter Becky and her dog BooBoo while his former wife heads to Paris with her new spouse. As Jerry's partner Kirk makes dangerous demands, Becky acts as a matchmaker between her father and Laurel. Starting with a fender bender and feuding that turns to beach fun with his child, the adults fall in love, but danger is coming south from New York and the ex is returni ng for Becky. FIRST TIME HOME is a terrific contemporary romance with an additional suspense subplot that feels extraneous to the prime well written theme of an emotionally wounded child unconsciously matchmaking her father with the new neighbor. The story line is at its delightful best when the trio interacts even when the caricature of the nasty unfeeling ex-wife intercedes while the Blessing criminal scenario seems off kilter with so much family drama in the Outer banks. Still fans will still appreciate this strong tale of the human need to belong.

Watch on the Rhine
John Ringo & Tom Kratman
ISBN: 0743499182, $25.00

Though the earthlings defeated the Posleen (see A HYMN BEFORE BATTLE), in space, the enemy centaurs attacked the planet (see GUST WIND). In spite of technological aid from the pacifist Galactic Federation and that the prime assault has not begun, earth stands on the brink of disaster with Northern Virginia already in ruins. Military cutbacks have left the world with few combat experienced officers so the leadership deliberates whether to recall the only group with the needed battle hardness to defeat the invaders. There is one problem however. Everyone swore to never arm any of these dangerous abusive soldiers let alone allow them to reunite. Failure to bring this violent amoral group back means almost certain defeat at the hands of a foe prepared for pandemic genocide. Bringing them back may still mean defeat, but provides perhaps the only chance to win, but what about the post war clean-up with these raging sociopaths in charge of the military? Will humanity's leadership recall what is left of the tabooed Waffen SS in what could prove in the long run jumping from the frying pan into the fire? WATCH ON THE RHINE is military science fiction at its thought provoking best. The story line works on three fronts: a deep insider look at Waffen SS that the Nuremberg Trials declared as outlaws, a powerful glimpse at how cultures struggle to adapt to situations outside their collective moral system, and a potent indictment of modern day roving politicians who insist the ends justify the means by using misinformation, disinformation, and omission to make the facts fit one size solution. The characters are two dimensional, but no one will care as John Ringo & Tom Kratman provide a mind boggling exhilarating thriller that the above two paragraphs only scratch the surface of a great tale.

Old Soldiers
David Weber
ISBN: 1416508988, $26.00

Dinochrome Brigade Captain Maneka Trevor is the only human survivor of her brigade at the devastating battle on planet Chartres; her Bolo unit Benjy died in the battle. Lazerus also survived that fight as the only Bolo to make it from the slaughter, but without its human host who died in the combat. Doctors heal Maneka's physical wounds, but she remains with the military because she does not have any options while suffering survivor's guilt. At about the same time, the Bolo technicians repair Lazerus. Rear Admiral Sedgewood selects Maneka to participate in "Operation Seed Corn", a desperate ploy to save the human race facing extinction against the mighty Melconian Empire, which sacrifices soldiers in exorbitant numbers to overwhelm the enemy. The last hope is to colonize a new planet. To help her, Lazerus is assigned to her though he embellishes her feelings of survival guilt by being there. When the enemy arrives to destroy this mission, a fire fight breaks out leaving both sides mostly dead. Maneka with Lazarus as her chief aid takes charge of the Seed Corn survivors. One year later, the huma ns settle on "Indrani" while the Melconians prepare for the final battle of Armageddon. The second Bolo tale (see BOLO) is a terrific military science fiction thriller that symbolizes an American-Chinese conflict. The story line goes into great depth to showcase the short term military strategy with the humans employing higher levels of technology against the much greater in number of soldiers that fight in massive waves but are considered expendable; the acceptable philosophy is that multiples might die for every human killed. Fans will appreciate this deep look at war in outer space as David Weber ventures outside his Harrington universe with this strong tale of intergalactic war between two species.

Terry Pratchett
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060815221, $24.95, 384 pp.

Millennium ago, a battle was fought at Koom Valley between the trolls and the dwarves. Nobody remembers who started it or what it was about but ever since there has been a deep hatred that boiled over many times into actual fighting between the two races. On the anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley trolls and dwarves from all over Discworld pour into the city of Ankh-Morpork bringing tensions to an all time. Commander Sam Vimes is afraid that the Battle of Koom Valley will be repeated in his city especially with the dwarf Grog Horncrusher advocating troll-genocide. Policemen Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs investigate the theft of Methodia Rascal's painting depicting the Battle of Koom Valley believed to have a message somewhere in the picture. When Grog Horncrusher is killed and a troll weapon is found near the body it looks like the two groups will go to war. Yet Commander Sam Vimes thinks there is a connection between the murder, the theft of the painting and the diggings of tunnels under the city the dwarves are undertaking. Once he finds the link he hopes to get some answers about what really happened in Koom Valley and bring peace to two warring races. The latest Discworld novel is a witty serio-comic speculative fiction novel that works on two levels. It is an entertaining story and the trolls and the dwarves are symbols of sentient beings who go to war because they hate each other as a matter of principle just like in our own world. The protagonist believes in justice and goes out of his way to see that the trolls and the dwarves receive it fairly. Terry Pratchett's fantasy realm reflects our own orb.

The Between
Tananarive Due
Harper Torch
ISBN: 0060819847, $6.99, 289 pp.

Three decades ago his grandmother died saving then almost ten years old African-American Hilton James from drowning. Over the years Hilton became a social worker in Miami and married a woman who has since become the first African-American to sit on the Miami bench; they have two intelligent children. The James family seems to have everything going for them. However, as he nears his fortieth birthday, Hilton begins to suffer nightmares involving his grandmother's sacrifice. He ponders whether he was supposed to have died on that day thirty years ago. At the same time his wife receives hate mail threatening her children, her home and her husband from a felon she through the book at. Hilton personalizes the threat so he turns to a therapist for help to insure he will not freeze if the menace turns real. This great suspense thriller effortlessly combines supernatural elements with a strong mystery that totally enthralls the audience wondering what happens next. The two subplots tie together through the besieged Hilton who worries about the safety of his wife and children from a nasty racist while also wondering if the Grim reaper is reaching from the other side to rectify a mistake caused when his grand ma saved his life. Fans will ponder along side of the everyman middle class hero who willingly would cross if it kept his beloved family from harm; however, he knows the threat to them is mortal unlike the perceived menace so he must remain in Florida even if it mean s battling Lucifer to do so. This is one author whose time for success is Due now.

The Night Before Christmas
Lori Foster, Erin McCarthy, Jill Shalvis, Kathy Love, Katherine Garbera, Kylie Adams
ISBN: 0758212143, $14.00

"White Knight Christmas" by Lori Foster. Detective Parker detests Christmas until he meets cheerful Lily. She wants him under her Christmas trees forever even if he initially thought she was a hooker. "Snowed Under" by Erin McCarthy. While Christmas shopping Claire is soaked by a snowplow. She heads to her brother's home to avoid pneumonia. However, instead of her sibling, Justin is there. Unable to resist, they exchange Christmas presents with no refund guarantees of love. "Ms. Humbug" by Jill Shalvis. Cami has reengineered her life so that everything is in perfect order; that is everything except her boss, Matt, who she wants. He reciprocates, but she has trouble believing a hunk would want her. He plans to prove that the ghost of the past should not stop their future together. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Kathy Love. Rob thinks his life is perfect when he sees Erica, who he dumped years ago. He realizes he wants a second chance, but Erica still hurts from their last time together. Rob tosses a Hail Mary praying Christmas he regains what he threw away. "Seducing Scrooge" by Katherine Garbera. Jackson never stops working until Krista kidnaps him from the office to teach him the Christmas spirit of loving and sharing. … "The Good Girl's Guide to a Very Bad Christmas" by Kylie Adams. Actor Chase meets Peri at the coffee shop she works at and gets her a job his TV show while insisting his motives are pristine because he wants her permanently in his bed. These six romances are fun to follow as the lead characters gift one another with the greatest Christmas present of all: love.

Candy Apple Red
Nancy Bush
ISBN: 0758209053, $19.95, 320 pp.

Although Jane Kelly is thirty, she has yet to settle on a permanent career valuing her freedom that a nine to five career would stifle. At the moment she is working for information specialist (a fancy title for private eye) Dwayne Durbin handing out eviction notices and working as a process server. She agrees to work for Tess Bradbury who wants her to find out what her ex-husband Cotton Reynolds knows about their son Bobby. Four years ago, Bobby put a bullet in the head of his wife and three children before vanishing into thin air. A massive manhunt by several state and federal agencies turned up nothing. Jane thinks Cotton won't talk to her because he only knew her through Tim Murphy, Bobby's best friend and her ex-lover. After the murders Murphy left town, refusing to believe Bobby could commit such a heinous crime. Now he's back and he wants Jane to join him in Santa Fe but she is obsessed with learning the truth about what happened to Bobby. There are many people who want her to stop her investigation and one will go to any lengths to see that she do es. Nancy Bush has written a delightfully witty and charming crime caper starring a charmingly original heroine who knows herself only too well and accepts her flaws because she refuses to change. She's feisty and funny and connects with the audience in a way most characters rarely do. The mystery is well thought out and totally entertaining so that readers will be eager to read the next tale in this series.

New Year's Eve Murder
Leslie Meier
ISBN: 0758206992, $22.00, 256 pp.

On the day before Christmas Eve, the Stones of Tinker's Cove, Maine, receive a letter from the college that their daughter Elizabeth attends stating that since their income went up last year, they owe $10,000 that previously would have been covered by a scholarship. The problem is that this year the Stone's income has dramatically dropped due to the economy; they don't have a clue how they are going to raise the money. Elizabeth entered a contest sponsored by Jolie magazine that won her and her mother along with five other mother-daughter duos complete makeovers. Elizabeth tells her that all the contestants will be judged and the winner will win $10,000 which makes Lucy want to win more than ever. While they are receiving their makeover, the fashion editor is murdered and Elizabeth is hospitalized when she becomes ill. The causes of the death and the illness are anthrax. Lucy is determined to find out who sent it to the office so that they can figure out how the editor and her daughter came in contact with it. That decision almost gets her killed by a terrorist organization though not the kind one usually reads about in the papers. Fans who appreciate the Jessica Fletcher books and Miss Marple stories will love this fine cozy amateur sleuth mystery. Leslie Meier modernizes the heroine, who is a likeable, believable and understandable character. The jealousies, uncertainties and in fighting between the workers at the magazine give the audience plenty of suspects who wanted the fashion editor dead. Leslie Meir has written a charming holiday mystery that readers will love for its' humor and originality.

A Catered Christmas
Isis Crawford
ISBN: 0758206879, $22.00, 320 pp.

In the town of LONGLELEY, sisters Bernie and Libby own the store and catering service, A Little Taste of Heaven; they are so well known that they are invited to compete in a cook off on the Hortense Calabash show. Six caterers are given ingredients chosen by the hostess and are supposed to make an entire meal out of them. The winner gets twenty thousand dollars which is donated to their favorite charity. On the first day of taping, the contestants hear a noise; they rush in to find Hortense dead on the floor, a Christmas ornament wedged into her throat. The police discover that the stove's gas line was cut and Christmas ornaments were placed in the oven. When she opened the door, the oven sparked a causing a mini explosion. The police agree to keep Hortense's death quiet while they and Bernie and Libby search for the killer. Although Libby and Bernie solved homicides in the past (see A CATERED MURDER and A CATERED WEDDING), this murder has them stumped because all the contestants had a reason to kill Hortense except themselves. A CATERED CHRISTMAS is a lively and entertaining amateur sleuth mystery filled with plenty of red herrings, unexpected twists and turns and deliberately planted false clues. The two sisters and their father engage in witty dialogue that will have readers chuckling out loud. The plot is believable, the characters are portrayed realistically and there is enough action to keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The Only Suspect
Jonnie Jacobs
ISBN: 0758208006, $23.00

One juror held out causing a hang jury, which led to the freeing of Dr. Sam Russell from being convicted of strangling to death his pregnant wife Lisa. Her Bostonian parents are fully convinced he murdered their daughter while his Californian father is supportive of him. Sam accompanied by his child Molly leaves the East Coast to live near his dad. Seven years later, Sam awakens in his car with no idea what happened; blood is under his fingernails. When he gets home he finds his second spouse Maureen missing. Deja vu is all he can think of as this is exactly what occurred in New England. Monte Vista detectives Hannah Montgomery and Dallas Pryor lead the missing person's investigation knowing most likely a homicide committed by the husband happened. Monte has recently learned that her deceased husband Malcolm had an affair with her sister Claire while Dallas detests Sam from their high school days together. Both believe he killed his wife, but Hannah attempts to consider Sam's claims about a ransom call and a vehicle leaving the drop off locale. When her corpse is found, the vultures circle Sam. Very few writers if any can take an everyday person like Sam is and place him in a nightmarish realistic scenario caused by events outside his control as well as Jonnie Jacobs can. The story line grips readers because of Sam who is like one's neighbor, friend, or doctor so that the audience feels everything that occurs to him. Though a late twist has been used too often in suspense thrillers, THE ONLY SUSPECT is a fabulous tale because Sam is just that.

Evil Intent
Kate Charles
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582004, $24.95, 344 pp.

In London, newly ordained Anglican minister Callie Anson has enough emotional problems to deal with since she ended her engagement with Curator Adam Masters. She has been named as curator of All Saints' Church in Paddington struggling to remember names of those who greet her. Worse she is learning first hand how nasty even in a holy place congregational and church politics can get. On top of that the evangelicals and several Anglo-Catholics are irate over the ordination of women and homosexuals in general so will dissect her every word and action to disparage her. Callie is prepared for the worst, but not the murder of Father Jonah Adimola, an outspoken critic of anything that frees women and an acerbic censor of her appointment; feminism is the devil's work in the late Jonah's mind. The police suspect Callie's mentor Deaconess Frances Cherry killed the outspoken Nigerian Father as she has been a major defender of women as priests. Callie turns to her faith to guide her as she sets out to prove that Frances did not kill anyone. This faith-based amateur sleuth inquiry combines nicely with a more professional police procedural so that fans of homicide investigations will enjoy this solid tale. Perhaps more interesting is the inside looks at the Anglican Church especially the split over women and homosexuals being ordained and that an African is a priest. Kate Charles recognizes many readers will be surprised by the internationalism of the Anglican Church so she provides an educating short author's note that clarifies much. EVIL INTENT is a strong look at the schism inside the church leading to murder as the resolution.

The Cipher Garden
Martin Edwards
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582063, $24.95, 266 pp.

Though Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett knows her current assignment is an exile for screwing up the Rao trial and she would rather not be head of the Cold Case Review team, she is proud of the good stats supporting their efforts. A tip-off comes in that claims Tina Howe killed her spouse a "plantsman" Warren using his scythe as a grim reaper in the garden of customer Roz Gleave. Hannah notices the reaction of her Detective Sergeant Nick Lowther of relief. Though they have little new to go on, Hannah decides to reopen the investigation, which she notices upsets Nick, who was part of the original investigation. At the same time, the police begin making new inquiries, historian Daniel Kind decides to look into the strange garden by his cottage. He hires landscaper Peter Flint, Warren's partner, to obtain insight. As the police homicidal case and the historian's curiosity connect, Hannah and Daniel seek the truth even as a fresh murder occurs to keep everything concealed. The Howe cold case investigation is one of the best police procedurals of this always exciting series as a still in exile DCI Scarlett wonders why DS Lowther fails to use his poker face to hide his feelings with every newly discovered clue. While probing for clues, Hannah wonders who Nick is protecting and whether he and others suppressed evidence when they first investigated the case. Fans will appreciate this particular who-done-it because of the moral dilemma that the heroine expects to eventually face at the end of the inquiries.

Six for Gold
Mary Reed & Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581458, $24.95, 274 pp.

In Constantinople, the Lord Chamberlain John the Eunuch is arrested for the murder of Senator Symacchus in the Hippodrome. The Empress Theodora demands justice, which means an eye for an eye or perhaps a tongue. Instead Emperor Justinian gives John a chance to buy some time to have his innocence proven. He exiles John to Egypt to learn why sheep are committing suicide on a settlement up river from Alexandria while the eunuch's best friend Anatolius investigates the senatorial murder. John boards the Minotaur only to find his wife Cornelius and his elderly servant Peter waiting to go with him. John and his entourage reach their destination, the city of Mehenopolis, home of a sacred ancient shrine to the snake deity. The city turns out to be more Byzantium than Constantinople is as it hosts many visitors to the shrine and residents who want to make their fortune from the foolish outside believers. Anyone o f them could be the cause of why the sheep are slashing their throats. SIX FOR GOLD is a fabulous historical mystery that showcases an era when Christianity and paganism battle for supremacy. The vivid story line brings to life an area of Egypt rarely if ever used in novels so that the audience obtains an even greater taste of the true first "world war" fought over religious principles. John is a terrific protagonist struggling to solve the case of the suicidal sheep even as he ponders what will happen to him and his family once he returns home because the investigation he left behind will turn into a cold case by the time he comes home. Mary Reed & Eric Mayer on ce again make the John the Eunuch mysteries one of the best historical tales on the market today.

C.R. Corwin
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582039, $24.95, 252 pp.

Sixty-nine years old Maddy Sprowls, the head librarian for the past three plus decades at the Hannawa Herald-Union is stunned with today's obituary column. A friend from her days at Hemphill College, Gordon "Sweet Gordon" Sweet died. She learns from another section of the paper that someone shot Gordon in the back of the head. Maddy talks to the crime reporter, who explains a homicide occurred but no weapon was found near the Wooster Pile Landfill where the archeologist Professor was sifting through the garbage. Though warned off by Detective Scotty Grant, Maddy cannot let it go. She sees a connection to her bohemian days when she and the deceased garbologist were members of the Meriwether Square Baked Beans Extravaganza Society and the death over five decades ago of another student. Maddy applies her years of digging out facts as "Madame Morgue" to the investigation into the death of her college friend over the objections of the lead homicide detective and her paper's crime reporter; each fears for her life. The feisty Maddy makes for a fine time for amateur sleuth fans though her background digging for information for reporters (albeit reluctantly at best and not without making her customers pay with a pound of flesh) makes her more experienced in following leads and threads than most rookie detectives. Fans will want to join Maddy on her DIG for the truth, which is closer to her than she realizes.

Running the Bulls
Cathie Pelletier
ISBN: 1584654872, $24.95, 320 pp.

In 1998 Maine, retired Bixley Community College literature professor Howard Woods is stunned when his spouse, former history professor Ellen, informs him that twenty years ago she had a short affair with ancient history teacher Ben Collins. Shocked Howard accuses her of being Lady Macbeth unable to cope with her guilt and vows to kill the man who cuckolded him even though Ben is already dead. Frightening his family, the grandfather announces that he is going to Spain to run with the bulls in Pamplona as his hero Hemingway did in the 1950s. Still he is miserable and lonely sleeping in a motel and badly missing the orderly life that he shared with Ellen his beloved "night owl" though he emulates his 1950s heroes and has an affair with the desk clerk. Ellen refuses to help him out of the chaos he is making of his life. Howard is sixty-three years old and having the time of his life yet he wonders why he is miserable. He now needs Ellen since their grandson dies in a car accident while riding the bike they gave him. RUNNING THE BULLS is an intriguing coming of age character study in which an obviously intelligent grandfather learns about life as he emulates his childhood heroes especially Hemingway. The story line mostly focuses on Howard as he reacts to guilt laden Ellen's confession by RUNNING THE BULLS of his 1950s mind, but brought back to 1998 reality with his grandson's death. This bittersweet portrait is family drama at its realistic best as Cathie Pelletier provides a potent and poignant portrayal of the frailty of relationships.

The Grace That Keeps This World
Tom Bailey
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
ISBN: 0307238016, $24.00

Adirondacks forester Gary Hazen believes he lives the good life with his beloved wife Susan, and their two sons twenty-four year-old Gary David and nineteen year-old Kevin because he loves the outdoors. He firmly believes his family feels the same way. On a hunting trip in the mountain wilderness near their Upstate New York home, Gary begins to wonder if perhaps his younger son does not like the life of a woodsman. Whereas Gary David seems the heir apparent to him, college student Kevin wants to be a teacher and refuses to join them on the hunt as he promised his girlfriend he would not. Meanwhile new environmental conservation officer, Josephine Roy has warned Gary and others that she will enforce all the state hunting rules that guys like him have ignored over the years. Josephine and Gary David have a relationship, but Gary's son fears telling his dad that he is sleeping with the enemy. The potential family schism comes to a tragic head on the first day of the new hunting season. Turning Kahil Gibran's message of parents letting their children go on its head, Tom Bailey provides an interesting family drama that is somewhat difficult to follow due to an abundance of narrators (a baker's dozen at least). The character driven story line focuses mostly on the inner tensions between the Hazens, but has sidebars narrated by others that seem out of place. Tom Bailey puts the Adirondacks setting to strong use in order to display the differences between the generations and when it concentrates on the Hazens it make for a fine tale of personal conflict.

The Price of Silence
Kate Wilhelm
ISBN: 0778322165, $23.95

Having lost her job and knowing that her beloved spouse Barney has two years to go on his dissertation, Oregonian Todd Fielding obtains work on the Brindle Times as the newspaper's octogenarian owner Ruth Ann Coleman knows her paper needs a computer expert journalist. Though on the other side of the mountain from where Barney attends school and teaches, Todd accepts the position that comes with a rent free house. Barney's faculty advisor arranges his schedule so that they can spend most of each week together. Todd and Ruth Ann become close confidents as the newcomer's work and ethics are excellent. When a high school girl Jodie Schuster vanishes, Todd questions the local cops who blow her off insisting she is just another bored teen runaway. Todd investigates further and soon finds a shocking pattern of missing teenage females over recent years with law enforcement doing nothing except yawning. With Ruth Ann providing an identical but much older pattern of disappearances, the two women investigate not realizing the danger from a town icon who wants his predatory nature to remain secret. This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale that enables the audience to first appreciate the strong relationships between Todd and Barney (in spite of a sexual female prowler), and Todd and Ruth Ann (the "cold" air and the recognition the paper is the elderly woman's "baby"). Once the tale switches to the amateurs sleuth investigation, fans obtain a fantastic mystery as the two journalists struggle to uncover who is behind the abductions of recent note and who got away with the first generation killings under the watch of Ruth Ann's late father. Kate Wilhelm writes a terrific thriller that hopefully will have sequels set in Brindle, Oregon.

Now You Die
Christiane Heggan
ISBN: 0778322289, $6.99, 384 pp.

Upon discovering the corpse, cartoonist Zoe Foster calls 911. However, when the cops arrive, there is no body. Zoe has no idea what happened except that she believes strongly that she saw a dead woman who somehow vanished. Zoe, whose sleuthing experience resides totally with the comic strip female detective, Kitty Floyd which she draws, decides to investigate. As she digs deeper, Zoe feels the male race has welcomingly invaded her space. First her ex-husband promised even after the divorce to be there for her. Then there is the cop who took down her statement and in spite of the lack of evidence tends to believe her. Finally another blast from the past has returned into her life. Three hunks and a corpse, what more can a woman ask for; however someone watches her progress very carefully in case it becomes essential to twist the plot line by murdering the cartoonis t. This action-packed romantic amateur sleuth tale grips the audience from the moment the body disappears and never slows down until the final confrontations (romantically and perilously). Zoe is a super lead player keeping the story line moving on two fronts; her personal life and the case until the two aspects coalesce into a strong thriller with a dangerous culprit waiting to strike while several men try to keep the heroine safe. Christiane Heggan provides a powerful romantic suspense investigative tale that will bring this popular author a myriad of new diehards.

Ghost Walk
Heather Graham
ISBN: 0778322181, $7.50, 400 pp.

Nikki DuMonde, head guide for the successful Myths and Legends of New Orleans tour, gives twenty dollars to a bum, who is actually undercover FBI Agent Tom Garfield. Nikki sees the bum again when she is in a bar, but none of the other guides notice him. Meanwhile Detective Owen Massey and his partner Marc Jouellete investigate the murder of Tom, who died from an overdose yet a woman accused him of purse snatching after he was dead. FBI Agent Vince Haggerty also investigates, but he is a nasty lone wolf. Soon afterward tour guide Andrea Ciello dies the same way Tom did though most assume the ex addict fell off the wagon. Adam Harrison directs Brent Blackhawk to go to New Orleans to investigate a ghostly purse snatcher. Brent grew up in New Orleans, but hates the city because that is where he has buried his beloved spouse. Still he follows orders and goes there. When Nikki and another guide get into a fight with drunken college students, Brent rescues them. Brent introduces himself to Owen and Marc when he notices Nikki looking at mug shots. He shows her Tom's picture; she claims it is him, but he is dead and only Brent seems aware of what is going on including his desire for Nikki. The attraction between Nikki and Brent hooks the reader from the onset while no setting can be better than New Orleans as a terrific backdrop for the ghosts. More critical to this fabulous paranormal romantic suspense thriller is that the ghosts seem genuine. Fans will read Heather Graham's fabulous ghostly who-done-it in one delightful sitting to learn what is really happening on the GHOST WALK.

Miracle on I-40
Curtiss Ann Matlock
ISBN: 0778322238, $14.95, 256 pp.

Eleven years pregnant unwed teen Lacey Bryant fled the wrath of her rigid father to make a life for herself and her unborn. Eventually she took a waitressing job at Gerald's Truckstop while raising her two children alone. Now she wants to come home to Pine Grove, North Carolina to introduce her kids to their grandparents, hoping for a Christmas miracle in which her dad forgives her because she needs her mom's hug. However, long haul driver fiftyish widower Pate Andrews, who was taking the three Bryants across the country along with his load, broke his leg. His friend Cooper reluctantly agrees to take care of the shipment including the Bryants. On the trek east along Interstate 40, his three passengers slowly convert Cooper from Scrooge to Santa as he falls in love with them; they reciprocate, but the adults have so much baggage that it will take a miracle for either to admit their feelings. MIRACLE ON I-40 is a fabulous early Christmas romance starring two likable adults who bag humbug love when they first start, but change their minds on the long drive east. The story line is character driven as the audience wonders whether Lacey and Cooper can make it as she fears bringing a man with her while trying for a reconciliation and wonders how her parents will react to her and their grandchildren though she is confident her mother will warmly greet them with love . A revised version of an early 1990s tale, contemporary romance readers will believe in the MIRACLE ON I-40.

Evening Hours
Mary Lynn Baxter
ISBN: 0778322319, $6.99, 384 pp.

The other driver ran the stop at full speed leaving passenger Vera Benton dead, her daughter sixteen years old Kaylie severely injured after catapulting through the driver's side windshield, and her spouse Edgar shocked and dismayed. Kaylie recovers, but has a noticeable limp and can never have children. Sixteen years later, Edgar is proud of his beloved daughter who has won the Houston Woman of the Year Award for the success of her Benton Modeling Agency. At the gala, he notices she and District Attorney Cutler McFarland seem attracted to one another; this is the first time he has seen his daughter show any interest in a man in years. When Edgar learns some interesting information on Cutler, he blackmails him into courting and marrying his daughter or else he will expose the naked truth hurting Cutler's dying mother. Though used to playing hardball and running for reelection, Cutler would do anything for his mom, but he does not have to fake being in love with Kaylie though he fears her reaction if she ever learns of her dad's extortion ploy. EVENING HOURS is a tense tale that grips the audience on several levels especially what happens if Kaylie learns about her father's good intentions extortion and Cutler's cases hurting his reelection chances. The latter is quite interesting because Cutler knows first hand that by doing the right thing as he recently did, he lost a friend who was his prime financial backer. Either one of two current cases could cost him his reelection even if he does everything legally correct. The subplot with a powerbroker adds depth to a tight legal thriller.

Leaving Normal
Stef Ann Holm
ISBN: 077832222X, $6.99, 384 pp.

Natalie Goodwin feels it is time to repossess her life since her divorce is finalized and her daughter is a college freshman. She opens up the floral shop that she had placed on a back burner except in her dreams. Although she is not interested in any relationships with men, Natalie admits to herself only that the younger married hunk next door is candy centerfold, look don't touch is her mantra. Tony Cruz finds the neighbor is beautiful, but he will only look too as marital vows mean something to him. That is until his wife dumps him for someone else. Instead of heartbreak, Tony pursues Natalie. However, as they fall in love, he wants children while she feels past that stage having a teen already in her life. This second chance at love is a complex well-written relationship romance with plenty of issues to keep the lead duet apart. Natalie is filled with doubts that the younger hunk could desire her and feels she is letting down her beloved by insisting on no more children. Tony struggles to prove to his love that she is not a rebound, but does not hide he wants to pass his surname on. Throw in family members filled with concerns and that leads to the audience enjoying Stef Ann Holm's powerfully realistic and thoroughly entertaining relationship drama.

Slow Burn
Julie Garwood
ISBN: 0345453840, $25.95, 353 pp.

After returning home to Silver Springs, South Carolina, Kate MacKenna has troubles starting when she attends a party given by Carl Bertolli. As she nears the food tent, a bomb goes off. Kate is okay. The next frightening thing to happen is that Kate's best friend Jordan found a lump in her breast and wants Kate there for the biopsy. She immediately takes the first plane to Boston and finds herself having sex with Dylan, Jordan's sexy police detective brother. She leaves Boston without seeing him again and is almost run over by someone in the parking lot. She is then lured to a warehouse where a bomb goes off. Jordan sends Dylan down to keep her friend safe. Both Dylan and the local police believe someone is targeting Kate but to her knowledge, she has no enemies and wants nothing more than for him to go back home. He is determined to see she remains safe because the ladies man has met his match in Kate. They learn that her great uncle left her $80 million dollars, money that her three greedy male cousins expected to inherit. Some people would kill for that kind of inheritance; her cousins have eighty million motives to kill Kate. Nobody can doubt that Julie Garwood is one of the best romantic suspense writers today. Her heroine is feisty, vulnerable and independent while Dylan is protective, caring and determined to make Kate admit her feelings for him. Some of their discussions are truly funny and gets the reader sidetracked from wondering which one of the cousins or their associates want Kate dead. SLOW BURN is a fantastic and exciting romantic thriller.

Murder at the Washington Tribune
Margaret Truman
ISBN: 0345478193, $24.95, 336 pp.

One month ago, someone murdered Washington Tribune "Panache" section reporter Jean Kaporis, who was out of school less than a year. A second female victim is found in Franklin Park with a similar M.O. as that of Jean. Under extreme pressure to break the story from his editor since their paper was last on the first homicide crime reporter Joe Wilcox concocts a serial killer theory. The case is already complicated from Joe's perspective because his daughter is reporting on it on TV and he has slept with the MPD lead detective Vargas-Swayze, who is about to drop the hyphen once her divorce is finalized. However, his case and his "serial killer fantasy" merge turning his involvement even more complex when Joe's brother, Michael is released from the institution he resided in for years after killing a young girl. Could his own sibling be a serial killer as evidence points in that direction or is Joe allowing his imagination to run wild by blaming Michael? Though the police procedural aspects of the case pale next to the journalism, fans of Margaret Truman's long running Capital Crimes mysteries will enjoy this strong tale that screams for reporter integrity as a key element of democracy. The timing of MURDER AT THE WASHINGTON TRIBUNE is perfect with the Glass scenario, embedded reporters, more reporters dead in Iraq than Nam, and Judith Miller in jail for about two months as the only person locked away so far with the Plume Affair. Joe is a fabulous protagonist proud of his daughter, but desperate not to lose his standing so he crosses the ethical line. This is a terrific crime thriller with a moral message.

The Hunt Ball
Rita Mae Brown
ISBN: 0345465490, $24.95

In Virginia, the students led by the "Three Musketeers" protest that their all girls' prep school Custis Hall fails to properly credit slaves for creating some of the crafts on display. Though worthy, nothing really comes of their protest at least that is what everyone involved thought at the time. Everybody associated with Custis Hall seems to like good natured Al Perez. That is everyone except the person who murdered the director of alumnae affairs and fund raising for the school. His corpse hangs next to a "dummy" dead body at the students' Halloween dance. Though stunned by the homicide, Headmistress Charlotte Norton remains calm and keeps everyone else relatively composed. At about the same time, seventy-two years old "Sister" Jane Arnold, the Master of the Virginia Jefferson Hunt Club, learns of the death. She begins making inquires assisted by her beloved animals but no motive seems to surface. Still Jane assisted by the Three Musketeers and her assortment of foxhounds, horses, foxes, birds, and other "house pets" keeps digging not realizing that someone is watching how close the menagerie gets to the truth. Though Sneaky Pie is not a co-author, the animals have distinct personalities, names and traits and are able to communicate with one another; something the dumb humans except Jane fail to comprehend. The hunt and its related ball are vividly described so that the audience gets a taste of an upper crust event. The who-done-it is cleverly developed but takes a back seat to the antics of the animals (as is the case in most of Ms. Brown's novels). Fans of the author will enjoy watching the humans OUTFOXED by the animals at THE HUNT BALL.

Hot Fudge Sundae Blues
Bev Marshall
ISBN: 0345468430, $13.95

In 1963 at the Pisgah Methodist Church, thirteen years old Layla Jay week after week disappoints her grandma by not accepting Brother Thompson's offer of salvation. Grandma fears that her only grandchild will follow the sinning examples of her husband and her daughter. However when Jehu Albright comes to the church Layla Jay decides to impress this teenage Steve McQueen hunk of a boy by accepting Brother Thompson's prayers. However God answers in mysertious ways as she sees Jehu with another "woman", her drunken mother marries Brother Wallace Ebert and is in a car accident, and grandma dies. When Ebert starts with twitching her nose and leering at her, but soon tries to rape Layla Jay, her mom intercedes with a 7-Up bottle. Life will never be the same in this household. HOT FUDGE SUNDAE BLUES is more than a historical perceptive glimpse of the 1960s in small town Mississippi; although that provides the background, the tale is more a deep family drama that looks closely at love between extended kin in spite of flaws, and deception and dishonesty to hide these defects from loved ones. What makes a loving relationship is not just shared gene pool, but the ability to forgive not necessarily to forget even the biggest transgressions. Bev Marshall provides a powerful perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly of human interactivity.

The Coal Tattoo
Silas House
ISBN: 0345480058, $13.95

In Kentucky the two sisters lost their parents when they were very young so their grandmothers raised them. The older sibling twenty-two years old Easter is introverted finding solace as a devoted Pentecostal who attends church every week; seventeen years old extrovert Anneth loves to dance all night at the nearby bars as she cherishes male attention. Anneth and Matthew Morgan fall in love and elope to Tennessee. However, after a few months of marriage and in spite of Matthew showering Anneth with love, she becomes bored and leaves him to return home. Meanwhile El McIntosh steadfastly courts Easter until they finally marry. Anneth is jealous of the relationship between her older sister and her brother-in-law, which she sees all the time because she lives with them. As Anneth continues to find the wrong man for her, she also tries to place her "tattoo" on El further dividing the sisters. While Apollo heads to the moon and young men die in Asian rice paddies the world seems crazy, but in Kentucky two sisters still need each other. THE COAL TATTOO is a deep look at the love between sisters with one being contented to be a steady lay back "whispering" through life while the other is an untamed rowdy marching band. Though polar opposites, the magnetism that connects them is a sisterly love for one another fostered by a land that tattoos the soul as much as the coal mining literally does to the miners. Interestingly, Anneth is the mother of Clay (see the highly regarded CLAY'S QUILT, which this reviewer has not read, but will) as this superb family drama will send the audience seeking Silas House's previous works.

Now You See Me
Rochelle Krich
ISBN: 0345468120, $13.95 352pp.

Recently married Molly Blume feels good about her life. Besides her personal life, her book is selling and her column is becoming even more popular. However, she becomes concerned when an apparent fan Reuben Jastrow turns up at three consecutive book signings. She initially thinks he is a stalker but he explains that he wants to hire her as a Jewish private detective to find his missing eighteen years old daughter Hadassah. She reluctantly agrees to help because she learns that Reuben is a highly regarded Orthodox rabbi. Molly's inquiries lead to unsafe chat rooms and Goth-suicidal teens, but these prove false as the sleuth is no closer to finding Hadassah then when she started. The case seems to be going nowhere as Molly ponders what could have happened and reconsiders several times all the possibilities, but finding no clues that take her closer to the vanished teen. The story line is more character driven than usual as Rochelle Krich concentrates on Molly's muses leading to a brilliant insight into the orthodox Jewish American community. However, a twist in the middle of NOW YOU SEE ME leads to questions as to why Molly does what she does for the rest of the plot. Though not quite at the caliber of a typical Blume tale (see GRAVE ENDINGS), fans of the series will enjoy the happily married Molly's fourth sleuthing adventure played out against a backdrop of Orthodox Judaism.

Goodnight Nobody
Jennifer Weiner
ISBN: 0743470117, $26.00, 372 pp.

Following a mugger stealing her stroller after letting her take her children out of them first, Kate Klein's husband is determined to relocate his family to safer environs. He moves them from New York City to the quaint upscale town of Upchurch, Connecticut where all the mothers behave perfectly like Stepford Wives. Kate doesn't fit in and the mothers who meet at the playground with their children make no effort to include her in their circle. In that atmosphere, Kate is very surprised when Kitty Cavanaugh, the perfect wife and mother, invites her to her home to talk. When Kate arrives, she finds Kitty dead with a knife protruding from her shoulder blades. Maybe it is because she is lonely as her husband spends more time on the road drumming up business for his political consulting firm or because she was a reporter before she got married and had children, but Kate decides to investigate the homicide. That decision almost costs her the lives of her children, her best friend and her own. The scandals and the dark and dangerous secrets that bubble just beneath the surface of Upchurch, a modern day Peyton Place are the reason Kate does not fit into her new world. Her troubles make GOODNIGHT NOBODY a fine who done it that also will appeal mainstream fiction readers. Jennifer Weiner is a brilliant storyteller who will appeal to those in the audience who like Danielle Steel and Barbara Delinsky.

Voodoo Season
Jewel Parker Rhodes
ISBN: 0743483278, $24.00, 275 pp.

Marie Levant relocates from Chicago to begin a medial residency at the New Orleans' Charity Hospital. However, upon returning to the hometown of her ancestors, Marie begins to have strange violent dreams about her heritage. That is followed by ritual serial killings that force Marie to look into her past as the direct descendent of Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau and two subsequent Maries who were bathed in blood. Marie learns that young females are being abducted to serve as prostitutes at reenactment galas of nineteenth century quadroon balls; the unfortunate innocents are used and abused before being converted into slave zombies. New Orleans Police Detective Reneaux struggles to save the girls and uncover the monster behind this hideous practice, but only Marie by claiming her heritage can hope to stop the evil that engulfs the young of the city. VOODOO SEASON is a terrific paranormal police procedural that will make believers of readers that there are strange unexplained essences and inexplicable powers out there. The story line is action-packed as Marie slowly accepts her ancestry "gifts" while Reneaux struggles with a nasty case and how Marie fits in the middle of the maelstrom. Fans of fast-paced exciting supernatural mysteries will want to read this jewel of a thriller.

Solace Glen Honeymoon
Susan S. James
ISBN: 042520636X, $5.99, 256 pp.

Cleaning woman Felicity Ann "Flip" Paxton and lawyer Tom Scott have a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception thanks to the Circle Ladies. For their honeymoon, they stay at the Caribbean resort Camp Iguana on Little Cayman Island. Jimbo and his wife Laurie and their partner Jay own the resort but Jay wants out and accepts a down payment from one of the guests who thinks i t is a good deal. Jimbo is determined to hold Jay to the terms of their contract which states one partner has to sell to the other partner for fair market value; to make matters worse, it is obvious that Lauren is in love with Jay and is probably having an affair with him. Jimbo's friend Buddy is ready to kill Jay for hurting his friend and Tookie, Jay's other girlftiend, is hurt when he abuses her. Jay disappears during a scuba diving event; his body washes ashore with a knife wound to his chest. Almost immediately after his death Jay's wife Liza, who nobody knew about, surfaces to find the funds he took from their accounts. The problem as Flip sees it is that they have too many suspects and she starts investigat ing to find out who has the strongest motive. After reading this mystery readers will want to visit Little Cayman Island because the descriptions make it seem like a real paradise. Lest anyone think Tom and Flip spend all their time sleuthing, they find plenty of time for romance. Though why Flip investigates is a stretch, Susan S. James strength lives in the realistic characterizations because readers can identify with them. Although this is a relatively new series, it is one of the better ones on the shelves.

Courting Midnight
Emma Holly
ISBN: 0425206319, $7.99, 336 pp.

In 1813 shapeshifting Lucius White believes he has no conscience as he never feels remorse when he dines on blood. During a deluge he meets his splitting image near death Squire Lucas Delavert, who just returned home. Lucius is shocked how close they look like one another, almost as if they were identical twins. Just before Delavert dies, he names White his heir because he hates his living family who he has not seen in years. Lucius is stunned to find he is attracted to Theodora Becket as he has never cared about anyone. He even lets her mother throw a ball at "his home" so that he cans spend time with Theodora during the planning stages. They make love, but he erases the memories of that from his Theodora's mind. When they are caught in an uncompromising position, they are forced to marry, something neither regrets as they are in love, but Lucius fears that Theodora will disdain him once she learns the truth about what he is and how he deceived her. He also is afraid that his species the Upry will come for his beloved. COURTING MIDNIGHT is a wonderful Regency supernatural romance starring an amoral individual who gains a soul when he falls in love. Lucius is a fabulous protagonist having no concerns about society except as it interferes with his well being until he meets the courageous Theodora. Their heated scenes augment a torrid paranormal historical tale that will thrill fans of several sub-genres.

Falcon's Mistress
Donna Birdsell
ISBN: 0425206343, $6.99

In 1761 when twelve years old John Markley was already the duke, the falconer's daughter Serena Downing saved his life; he vowed to repay her one day. Several years later, he, as the duke, asks her to be his mistress, as she is to beneath his station to be anything else. Though she loves John she declines the offer. Not long afterward, he leaves England to work as Falcon, a British spy. In 1776 John, an assistant falconer in France learns that Serena has been convicted of murdering him with evidence provided by his family. He rushes back home to rescue her from the noose and to confront his mother who wants control of the estate assets and his brother who wants the title; to achieve that both need him declared dead; so what if a servant dies. John refuses to allow the trappings of his blood to keep him from what he always wanted to love Serena forever, but she knows he must marry his equal though she still desires him. Though somewhat by the Georgian romantic suspense handbook, the intriguing twist of Serena convicted for murdering her vanished John adds depth to an exciting late eighteenth century thriller. Serena is a wonderful harassed protagonist who makes a perfect victim because of her relative station compared with John's family. John is a delightful champion who needed the impetus of his family's machinations to enable him to push aside almost three decades of breeding to decide what he needs most in life, Serena. Donna Birdsell provides a fabulous historical romance that soars alongside the falcons that bind the lead couple to each other.

Delete All Suspects
Donna Andrews
ISBN: 042520569X, $23.00, 256 pp.

When the computer programmers made artificial intelligence personalities (AIP), nobody expected one of them, Turing Hoppper, to gain sentience or to make friends with humans. Her biggest concern of the moment is finding her clone T-2 stolen by Nestor Garcia, a criminal who wants to use her intelligence in planning his career. Turing's friend private investigator Tim Pinesoki is hired by Mrs Stallman to investigate her grandson's business. He was the victim of a hit and run driver; a witness thinks the driver was trying to murder Edward. Mrs. Stallman thinks that the attempted murder was linked to his web hosting business and to the friends her grandson let use free space on his server for their website. To get her mind off her problems, Turing decides to help Tim as does her friend Maude Graham who is the front person for Turing's businesses. It takes them a long time to get inside because they don't have the user name or password but when they do get in, they realize someone is running illegal porn sites and someone else is using phiset spams to collect credit card and banking information. When the neighbor who saw the hit and run is murdered, Turing and company realize they are dealing will a very dangerous individual who will not hesitate to kill anyone who gets too close to uncovering the truth . For an AIP, Turing Hopper has more personality then most humans do and her quest to understand carbon based entities is something a sentient AI would do. Luckily, she is a decent silicon based entity who only bends the law to prevent her sentience from being discovered. The mystery is constructed with a variety of suspects; many of whom committed criminal acts but only one went so far as murder. Donna Andrews has written another great amateur sleuth who-done-it.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Silent Knight
Emily Brightwell
ISBN: 0425205584, $22.95, 234 pp.

Sir George is a parsimonious, mean-spirited man who cares more about his cat Samson than he does his three daughters. The cat, a mean old Tom who scratches everyone except for Sir George has been missing for two days putting his master in a fouler mood than usual. Sir George wakes up quickly when he hears Samson outside and goes to find him. Someone smashes him on his head killing him. Since Sir George was the cousin of Queen Victoria, his case is very high profile so Scotland Yard assigns it to Inspector Gerald Witherspoon who has a phenomenal successor rate in solving homicides. Neither Witherspoon nor his supervisors know that his housekeeper Mrs. Jeffries and the other servants of his house work behind the scenes to help their master solve his cases. This inquiry is harder than most as everyone has a motive for killing the baronet, including his three daughters, his ex-lover, the gardener the housekeeper, and trades people he cheated out of money. This is one historical mystery series that never gets boring or dull. The author keeps the series fresh by making each homicide case original. Lovers of late Victorian mysteries will thoroughly enjoy this tale because Inspector Witherspoon comes across as so innocent and naive that readers will adore him. Emily Brightwell is an author whose mysteries are well worth reading.

Murder Uncorked
Michele Scott
ISBN: 042520684X, $6.99

In Los Angeles, wannabe actress waitress Nikki Sands serves a nasty bimbo and her hunk, but the woman treats her like dirt for doing her job quite well. Nothing satisfies the bimbo especially when Nikki displays her knowledge of wines. When a drink she is carrying spills on the bimbo, Nikki saves her boss the trouble of firing her by quitting. She goes across the street to get a drink when the hunk follows her. Derek Maleveaux buys her dinner, but asks Nikki to select the wines; she does a perfect job at that.&nbs p; Impressed, Derek, owner of Maleveaux Estate, a winery in Napa Valley, hires her on the spot. They fly to his estate, but even before she unpacks Nikki notices something strange outside. She investigates only to find the murdered corpse of renowned winemaker Gabriel Asant. While the police look at Derek as the prime suspect, Nikki, who has had TV experience as a detective, decides to use her skill to uncover the identity of the real culprit but is unaware that if she gets to close she could be next. Besides educating readers on what wines to use with different repasts, MURDER UNCORKED is a superb amateur sleuth tale starring an upbeat heroine and a fabulous prime suspect. The story line is fast-paced even before Derek flies Nikki to his estate as the audience will enjoy the lead female's failed efforts to appease the bimbo customer from Hades. The romance between the lead couple is a light blending that augments a fun who-done-it.

Confessions of an Almost Movie Star
Mary Kennedy
ISBN: 0425204677, $8.99, 240 pp.

Fearless Productions arranges to shoot a movie starring teen heartthrob Shane Rockett at Fairmont Academy for Girls. The film Reckless Summer will use students as extras, but one lucky female will stars as Shane's romantic interest. Several are selected, but shocking everyone, especially herself, Jessie Phillips gets the part. Anyone can see the attraction between Jessie and Shane though both are seeing others. Jessie struggles to remain faithful to her boyfriend Marc, who was away at school but arrived on the set while Shane is seeing starlet Heidi Hopkins. However, things start turning ugly when someone tells all to the tabloids. Shane, his manager and the filmmakers angrily assume Jessie and her best friend Tracy did the deed. Jessie and Tracy try to prove otherwise as they believe jealous student Alexis Bright blabbed, but set it up so that Jessie takes the fall. Things turn even uglier when an arson fire occurs and a robbery happens with Jessie and Tra cy once again in the middle. CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST MOVIE STAR is a fantastic teen amateur sleuth tale that fans especially high school age will enjoy though older readers like this geriatric reviewer loved the novel too. The story line is fast-paced as Jessie accompanied by her sidekick seems to land in one frying pan after another besides dealing with typical high school woes. Readers will appreciate Mary Kennedy's fine thriller that avoids dumbing down; instead the author assumes her audience can think, chew gum (sugar-free for us older fans) and read at the same time.

Pants on Fire
Maggie Alderson
ISBN: 0425205711, $14.00

In London Georgiana "Georgia" (not Georgie or George) Abbott catches her fiance with his erect penis, but someone else is giving him the lift. Needing to move on and mend her broken heart, Georgia accepts a job at Glow magazine in Sydney, Australia though her friends and family think going Down Under to turn one's life upside down seems excessive. In Sydney, Georgia joins the party scene as expected by someone who works for a magazine that offers information on orgasms for the 18-26 (by 27 you know or are too frigid to matter) female. Georgia realizes the men she meets are clones of the cheater she left behind; even the tongues are as slimy as that limey she dumped. Though Billy Ryan's tongue makes her reconsider having a first born with him, he introduces her to Rory Stewart who mourns the loss of his three older brothers in a plane crash. Rory cares for his devastated family taking up farming and having given up art. He and Georgia are attracted to one another, but he fears commitment feeling overburdened with his family load. Though the disproportionate promiscuity and overindulgent drug usage is over emphasized, fans will appreciate this chick lit tale as the English transplant does Sydney (and a few males). The story line is often amusing, but the support cast for the most part comes across as superficial. Rory is the only person who truly cares about others, which leads to his dilemma of choosing between the woman he loves and tending to his broken family. He keeps Maggie Alderson's tale alive with his deep feelings especially his frustrations of that of the caretaker who has abandoned his desires sacrificing his life doing the good deeds.

Match Game
Beverly Brandt
ISBN: 0425205533, $14.00

In Maple Rapids, Michigan thirty-one years old CPA Savannah Taylor looks forward to marrying reliable bottom line Todd while working with walk in clients who come to Refund City, a national accounting firm that focuses on completing tax returns. On Valentine's Day, Reverend Black begins the wedding ceremony only to be interrupted by three FBI agents. Instead of a marriage ring, Savannah receives handcuffs as the Feds arrest her for tax evasion and money laundering. Savannah proves to the Feds that she is innocent as someone obviously stole her identity. The rat Todd dumps her anyway because he feels she is not worth the time or trouble. Irate Savannah decides to change her image starting with confronting the person who caused her mess but also saved her from a death sentence with the brat rat. She heads to Naples, Florida where the purchases on her credit cards are posted from. Of course meeting US Air Marshal Mike Bryson seems worth reengineering herself. MATCH GAME is a fine contemporary tale in which the tiny romantic subplot takes a coach seat to Savannah's coming of age quest to find herself and the thief. Readers will shake their heads at Todd's chutzpah as he breaks the engagement because he went through too much with her arrest, but still expects Savannah to do his taxes. Savannah is terrific as she tries to reinvent herself by quitting her job and seeking the thief while her family worries about her. The identify theft subplot augments a solid tale by showing how easy it is to steal and how much trouble swamps the victim. Beverly Brandt provides a fine mainstream story.

Adventures of a Salsa Goddess
JoAnn Hornak
ISBN: 0425205487, $14.00, 320 pp.

The optimistic face of Elaine Daniels tells forty-one years old unmarried Samantha Jacobs that she has the perfect assignment for her that will increase circulation at Tres Chic by at least twelve percent. Elaine informs Sam that long time columnist Maya Beckett is giving up her La Vie column. It is Sam's, but she must complete a small assignment if she wants to keep the position. This being Sam's dream job, she will do anything until she learns that she is to marry at the Plaza on New Year's Eve as Elaine wants to prove Dr. Virginia Huber wrong when the sociologist says "a never married over forty professional single woman has a better chance of winning the lottery than getting married.". The threatening face of Elaine warns Sam that failure means unemployment. Though she has no prospects as the men she sees have wives, Sam beings her searches for Mr. Right while the clock ticks away. She meets several men, but none stir her heart or even heat her loins except her younger sexy salsa teacher Javier; he melts her bones whether they dance horizontally or vertically, but marriage to him seems not worth the tango. ADVENTURES OF A SALSA GODDESS is an amusing chick lit tale that also focuses on relationships by asking a simple question: as a single person begins entering middle age and beyond should they settle or remain in search of their ideal soulmate. Sam is a fabulous protagonist struggling between keeping her job by descending to a level below her desire for true love or remain alone and unemployed. Fans of a deep but amusing contemporary tale will appreciate the dilemma confronting the Salsa Goddess.

Kick @$$
Maggie Shayne, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight & Jacey Ford
ISBN: 0425205649, $12.95

"The Bride Wore a .44" by Maggie Shayne. After waking up from a coma, Kira struggles with her memory that seems tangled perhaps because she has forgotten that she is undercover. Her upcoming marriage was part of her cover, but she thinks it is real so she prepares accordingly. However, she does not understand why wedding planner Marshall fills her mind with desire not the what's his name groom. "The Incredible Misadventures of Boo and the Boy Blunder" by MaryJanice Davidson. Former police officer Gregory wonders how life can be so unfair. Recently he was turned into a vampire and to make matters worse he has met his soulmate that is if he has a soul. The problem is his beloved wants to kill him as Boo is a bona fide vampire hunter. "Warfem" by Angela Knight. Her enemy captured Warfem Alina, who would prefer to die, but fears that her foes will use her as a hostage to betray her people and her beloved Baird. "Painkillers" by Jacey Ford. CIA operative Lauren works as a supermodel to hide her true vocation. Her current perilous assignment is made more dangerous in that she must team up with Agent Jake who owns her heart. These four women live up to the title so anyone who enjoys strong women kicking butt and hog tying their beloved will enjoy this fun often amusing but always exciting anthology.

Wedding Survivor
Julia London
ISBN: 0425206319, $7.99

In Los Angeles Thrillseeker's Anonymous needs a wedding planner to go into the rugged Colorado Mountains in order to host a special marriage between actors Vincent Vittorio and Olivia Dogwood. None of the candidates have been willing to take the physical test until now. Chatty Marni Banks tries the rope climb, but fails. However, Eli McCain and his partners hire her anyway. Eli explains to Marni that physical conditions in the Colorado Mountains where the wedding will occur are rough and getting stuff in near impossible. He introduces Marni to Vincent and Olivia; the latter makes incredible demands driving everyone crazy. Later Marni visits Eli at his home and though he has doubts, he cannot stop himself from making love with her. Eli escorts Olivia and Vincent canyoning in which the actress whines throughout the trek. In Colorado a storm hits destroying the bridge to the main lodge; Eli, Marni, Vincent, Olivia and the chef are temporarily trapped. Over the next few days Eli knows he loves Marni, but fears commitment. When Marni tells him she loves him, he runs away leaving her heartbroken. The delightful lead protagonists supplemented by a strong eccentric support cast make this a fine contemporary romance. The not subtle sexual comments of the friends of the heroine's mother start off cute, but quickly beat the meat to death. Still her mother's book club members make infrequent appearances so that the amusing plot never turns vulgar or lose its rhythm of a strong male fearing commitment having been burned once before. Julia London's fans will receive immense delight with her first tale since the Lear trilogy and will look forward to more Thrillseeker romances.

In the Shadow of the Ark
Anne Provoost
ISBN: 0425202771, $15.00

In Canaan Re Jana and her family live near the marshes where her father has earned a living as a boat-maker and fisherman. However, the rising waters have made the area unsafe so they head inland into the desert where rumors abound that a great ship is being built by some maniac named Noah. Re Jana's father works on the ark construction. Re Jana also obtains work as the diviner of sweet water and as the bather of the Builder's sons. She and one of the sons Ham fall in love though a different female has been chosen for him. She also knows that the Builder believes his Unnamable God has warned him that a great flood is coming that will destroy anyone outside the ark, but only Noah and his family plus the animals will be allowed inside. Thus her father secretly builds a boat to save his family as the waters rise to affirm the madman's ranting as true. Ham builds a hiding place for his beloved on the ark not quite understanding that the Unnamable God has dictated the dimensions to Noah. Although not for everyone, IN THE SHADOW OF THE ARK is a well written interpretation of Noah's tale told mostly by how the fascinating Re Jana sees events especially her inability to comprehend how Noah's Unnamable God allows those working on the ark to die. Noah is portrayed radically different than the pious starter of a cleansed non-evil race as he and his sons commit murder and rape. Readers who appreciate powerful retelling of biblical tales will enjoy this strong version of Noah's Ark, but must keep in mind the mighty fall off their pedestal in Anne Provoost's rendition.

Children of Dynasty
Christine Carroll
Medallion Press
ISBN: 1932815422, $6.99

Mariah Grant and Rory Campbell were in love. However, the ugly rivalry between their fathers, construction company owners, made their relationship impossible. Finally unable to cope with the pulls on her from her dad and the betrayal of her beloved, Mariah fled the Bay area especially when Rory refused to listen to her plea that his sire Davis was dangerous and manipulating him like a puppet on a string. Coaxed by his father, he married Elizabeth on the rebound, but that relationship has since failed. Eight years later, Mariah has come home because her father John needs her. Rory tries to regain what they lost as both remain attracted to one another. However, an on-site tragedy at the Grant Plaza project serves as a reminder to her that his father will use any means at his disposal to destroy his competitor and that Rory chose his dad over her. However, a more matured Rory sees clearly what he must do because he believes that even Mariah is unsafe from his manipulative dad. CHILDREN OF DYNASTY is an intriguing romantic suspense. Readers will like the lead couple, whose roller coaster relationship is brilliantly written. Though Rory's dad seems throughout the novel to have no redeeming qualities, his hatred of his one time friend John over the late Catharine whom the latter married who he loved and a final twist humanizes him. Fans will appreciate this strong tale in which the sins of the fathers impact their offspring.

Night Birds' Reign
Holly Taylor
Medallion Press
ISBN: 1932815538, $14.99, 550 pp.

Two times before in Lleu a High King surfaced during a crisis in which the country appears on the brink of ruin and will be eventually betrayed. In 265 Chadfwich is the third time and history repast as his wife and her lover betray him, ultimately killing him. Over two centuries later, no High King has surfaced, but the Shining Ones task Gwydion the Dreamer of Kymru that the time has come to find the fourth Great One. Though believing he not ready for his quest, with the help of his aunt and his brother he sets forth to first find the lost sword possessed by the Lady of the Lake and only to be used by the High King who he thinks is the unborn son of his half-brother King Uthyr. However, he will soon learn the danger is not to his body as others try to stop him, it is to his heart and soul as he will soon learn the price of being this generation's Dreamer. NIGHT BIRDS REIGN is a strong fantasy with investigative and coming of age underpinnings though the hero is not a sleuth (amateur or professional) and is an adult. Instead Gwydion follows the clues mostly found in his dreams while slowly gaining confidence as he still grows into his power. The story line is action-packed and filled with adventure as there are some who prefer that no new High King surface as he would destroy the status quo power structure. Holly Taylor provides a stirring quest that fans will want to trek alongside of Gwydion.

The Oldest Kind of Magic
Ann Macela
Medallion Press
ISBN: 1932815430, $6.99

Her witch mom informs thirty years old practitioner Daria Morgan that her powers will be enhanced once she meets her soul mate and shares in the First Mating. Still a virgin, business consultant Daria does not want a man in her life though strengthening her powers would be nice. Her magic has enabled her to find problems in businesses. CEO Joe Glennell sends his top troubleshooter John "Bent" Benthausen to Houston to work on the newest acquisition. Bent implements efficiencies, but costs remain exorbitant. A friend suggests he hire consultant Daria Morgan, but she declines. Bent and Daria meet through mutual friends and both feel an attraction. She offers him a tip that leads to the firm's security team arrested for stealing spare parts. As her family accepts him as her soul mate, a letter warns her to stay away from Glennell-Houston or else. No one messes with Daria who forces Bent to hire her as a consultant so she can uncover the remaining crooks while they practice THE OLDEST KIND OF MAGIC that of love. Ann Macela writes a charming romantic fantasy that will remind the audience of Bell, Book, and Candle. The story line is fun as delightful Daria meets her soulmate who to her chagrin is a non-practitioner; breathtaking Bent has no problems adapting to her wacky family who adopts him as if they have known him all their lives. The threat against Daria seems overkill, but sub-genre fans will still appreciate this wonderful touch of magic. Once fans close the book and blow out the reading candle, they will anxiously await the soulmate of Daria's sister to ring her bell.

The Ruthless
L.G. Burbank
Medallion Press
ISBN: 193281521X, $11.99, 325 pp.

The Catholic Church created Vlad in their quest for immortality but lost control of him. He now wants to eradicate humans from the face of the earth and hopes that Mordred, the half vampyre he created will help him. Mordred rejects him and is on a quest to get the aid of the other vampire kings to help him in the upcoming battle with Vlad. He must prove to each of them he is the Chosen One, destined to defeat his creator and bring light into a troubled world. After gaining the acceptance of the Narrangantti vampyre king, he travels to Rome because an evil sect within the church has awakened Vlad who possesses one of their priests. When he arrives in Rome, he kidnaps Father Simon and travels with him to the Carpathian Mountains to the home of Vlad the Impaler. Vlad is trapped in the Impaler's body. He hopes to break the possession but ends up in mortal combat with his enemy and loses consciousness. He wakes up in Valhalla where he is to fight the second vampire king so that he will acknowledge Mordred as the Chosen One. They next seek a sacred ob ject hidden by the Knights Templar in the New World unaware the evil sect within the Catholic Church, the Red Caps, are hunting for Mordred because according to the prophecy in the Dead Sea Scrolls, he can ruin their plans. No doubt about it, L.G. Burbank is the successor to Anne Rice. Her vampyre Mordred is unique, refreshingly original and doesn't give in to his dark side. Readers will admire him and empathize with the many travails he undergoes. THE RUTHLESS is a fast paced action packed supernatural thriller worthy of a Bram Stoker award nomination for its originality and creativity. The audience will eagerly await the next book in this terrific series.

The Trudeau Vector
Juris Jurjevics
ISBN: 0670034371, $24.95, 416 pp.

The rescue team went out searching for the four missing members of the international scientific team stationed at Trudeau Arctic Research Station on a six month tour. They found three dead near the ice cap hole under study with their bodies monstrously misshapen; the conclusion was death was a welcome respite from the agony they must have suffered. The fourth person apparently wandered away from the party and was found also dead, frozen naked. No one knows what happened and the weather prevents any evacuating the survivors from the area. The Canadian government parachutes epidemiologist Jessie Hanley into the remote site to learn what caused the grotesque deaths. Hanley searches for fatal bacteria or a virus. Meanwhile unbeknownst to the scientist is that a nearby Russian submarine succumbed to the same disease while escorting a rogue scientist into the Arctic. While talking with her dyslexic son by satellite and making love with a hunk of an Inu it, Hanley tries to track down the cause of the disaster before others die as she now believes one of the crew is heavily involved, but whom? This is exciting thriller starring a wonderful protagonist who does a yeoman's job to balance (albeit long distance) the needs of her son with her work. The story line is action-packed, but the beauty of the tale lies with the harsh vivid description of the frozen tundra that leaves no room for error. Part mystery, but mostly an environmental thriller, fans of action-packed biotech errors leading to contagions will want to read the fast-paced THE TRUDEAU VECTOR.

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighteenth Annual Collection
Edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312341946, $19.95

This forty-four story anthology runs the vast gamut within the fantasy and horror sub-genres. All the contributions are good (duh- or else why select them), but the pure horror entries seem overall stronger than the fantasy or cross-genre hybrids (sort of like two interlocking Venn circles). The authors are a who's who of the two genres as some of the most highly regarded writers have contributed short stories though the tome as in previous compilations introduces the reader to new scribes that appear to have quite the future. Overall the collection is a tribute to 2004 as a powerful year and well worth reading over a few weeks but keep in mind that the horror selections are better than the solid fantasy tales with those being the ones that fans will reread.

Done Gone Wrong
Cathy Pickens
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312343094, $23.95, 304 pp.

Knowing the expert witness was lying, defense attorney Avery Andrews goaded him into saying things which caused a mistrial. Still Avery lost her job and returned home to Dacus to figure out what she is going to do with her life when Charlotte attorney Jake Baker asks her to help him with a class action suit against a pharmaceutical company. The plaintiffs claim that the anti-depressant Uplift made by Perforce Pharmaceuticals caused a man to go on a killing spree before he committed suicide. While Avery is helping Jake prepare for trial, she agrees to meet with Dr. Mark Tilman who she knows from Dacus. He stands her up but later she learns he was killed in a car accident that might be a hit and run. When his house burns down and a notebook he sent to his girlfriend is given to Avery she begins to think that a drug study he was involved in got him killed. When one of the patients in the study is found dead Avery decides to investigate and almost becomes a victim herself. Fans of southern down home regional mysteries will want to read DONE GONE WRONG, a legal thriller that paints a frightening pictures of greedy doctors and tainted drug trials. The courtroom scenes are exciting even though Avery is more of an observer than a participant and her inability to forget about the dead doctor and his deceased patient shows that she is a moral person who likes to right wrongs. It will be interesting to see what her next case will be like and if she decides to go into partnership with Jake or open a practice in her hometown.

Riding Gain
Joyce Krieg
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312327382, $24.95

Sacramento talk show radio host Shauna J. Bogart is stunned by the first caller of the day, who apparently is Richie Snelling, who spent eighteen months as a guest of Lompoc and was her prom date and "sponsor at the highs school AV club. However, that blast from the past is nothing to what long time traffic reporter celebrity Captain Mike broadcasts as he watches the cops chase someone who apparently killed someone else. The dead man is Travis Ikeda-Nyland, a former intern at the station; arrested for his murder is Marketus Wilson in what the cops claim is a meth deal that turned ugly. Marketus' grandma claims her grandson is innocent and Shauna has a difficult time accepting that Travis was involved in a drug deal though she knows he had problems and was a user. Shauna J is unable to sit idly by while Travis' name is dragged through the mud and wanting to help the grandma; she begins to investigate not realizing that her case and the return of Richie into her life will merge at the corner of electronic surveillance and security. The third talk radio mystery is an intriguing amateur sleuth tale. Readers will appreciate Shauna J. as she struggles with the new psychic at the station, her high school mate seemingly calling in hinting at his identity, and proving the prime suspect is innocent though he ran from the cops. Adding interest is the outsourcing of Captain Mike even though he is a legend. The three subplots come together in a delightful story line that is fun to follow and will send readers looking for Shauna J's back list (see SLIP CUE and MURDER OFF MIKE).

Nervous Water
William G. Tapply
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337442, $23.95

Maine lobsterman Moze Crandall has called his estranged niece Cassie, who he raised with his late wife, several times to attempt reconciliation before he dies from cancer. However, though his calls turn increasingly frantic, Cassie has not returned any. He knows she may just simply not want to speak to him since he objected to the man she eventually married, but his gut tells him otherwise. He asks his nephew Brady Coyne to talk to Cassie. Brady learns from Cassie's belligerent husband, dentist Richard Hurley that she has vanished though he tells him little else. Brady soon learns that Hurley's two previous wives mysteriously died. However, the simple missing person's case turns bizarre when an assailant assaults Moze, who suffers a heart attack, and someone murders Cassie's former lover, Professor Grantham Webster. NERVOUS WATER showcases why the Coyne novels are one of the best regional mystery series on the market today though there are over twenty books published. The story line is obviously personal as Brady searches for his missing cousin. Readers will ponder why getting cooperation from her spouse is like pulling teeth though he might be cautious thinking strike three and your out or hiding that he did something nasty to Cassie. Though how Cassie serves as the central magnet of several ugly even deadly incidents is never explained, fans will appreciate Coyne's thrilling caper.

Wanna to Get to Know Ya
Reon Laudat
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312934149, $6.99, 288 pp.

In Detroit, hypochondriac C.J. Davis barges in on a man and woman conducting a business deal over a Barracuda. She outbids the hunk for the vehicle that she plans to drive in the upcoming Woodland Dream Cruise. Not long afterward, C.J. visits Tanner's Auto repair to see if they can fix her new vehicle in a few weeks. She recognizes the owner Ethan Tanner as the man she defeated in the bidding for the Barracuda. He is attracted to her, which shocks him since he still mourns the deaths of his wife and young child on an icy road eighteen months ago. When he learns that C.J. is a long distance truck driver, he stuns her by simply saying that is cool. As his mechanics work on her car and she checks their progress, they begin to fall in love, but C.J. always pushes men away before they can get to close because she hides a deep secret that beginning in her teen year she suffered from Hodgkin's disease. Though Ethan has his demons especially since he (and his former father-in-law) believes he caused the deaths of his wife and child by not being there on time, C.J. owns this well written contemporary romance as a unique female protagonist. Besides her gender bending job, C.J. fears commitment because of a secret she refuses to share with men and suffers from hypochondria though fans will understand why. Readers will enjoy this fun tale as two wounded warriors initially wanna get to know one another fall in love, but neither believes that is enough.

The Wheelman
Duane Swierezynski
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312343779, $23.95

In Philadelphia mute Irish immigrant Lennon is the getaway driver while Bling and Holden rob the Wachovia Bank. The heist is successful stealing the city's cash slated for "Operation Fresh Start", but as they speed away, Lennon hits a pedestrian, but keeps on going. However, a fortified van comes out of an ally smashing into the getaway vehicle. Not long afterward Fury, son of a Russian Mafiya leader and college student Andy toss two bags of garbage down a pipe that leads to the Delaware River. The third bag comes to life as Lennon refuses to die. Instead he turns the tables on the two men, killing them. Lennon knows that only one other person knew his route besides himself, his girlfriend Katie. He plans to pay her visit, but for now must heal from his injures while eluding the Russian mob and the cops who know he probably killed Fury and robbed the bank. However, time is not on his side as an apparent ex-cop catches up to him with plans for the loot and Lennon knows for him too. This terrific urban noir stars an antihero who readers are going to appreciate as he battles to stay alive against overwhelming odds. The story line is action-packed from the moment Lennon takes off in the getaway car and never slows down until the final twist. Interestingly are the "allies" chasing after Lennon as the Mayor's office, the Russian and Italian mobs, and others want the loot, him dead, or both. Fans of gripping one sitting thrillers will want to ride along with Duane Swierezynski's wild trip through the Camden-Philadelphia meanest streets.

The Inheritance
Annabel Dilke
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031233477X, $24.95

In the 1960s at the grand estate of Egerton, Alice Chandler is to marry her childhood friend Edward, who is acceptable to her aristocratic father Harry because the groom comes from a wealthy titled family. Still eighteen years old Alice has doubts as she does not love Edward except as an amiable kind hearted brother. She tries to tell her father that one should only marry for love, but he refuses to halt the upcoming nuptials. She has no one else to turn to as her clever older sister Eve concentrates on attending Oxford while mom is buried in the weeds of pulling off the society wedding of the year. Eve is upset that her younger but much prettier sibling is marrying before her though she hides her feelings while Alice's thoughts remain on Marcus, an impoverished aristocrat who is unacceptable by her family. The womanizing Harry has forced his humiliated spouse to seek solace elsewhere; lonely Eve risks her academic future on a tryst; doubting Alice begins an affair with Marcus; finally her younger wastrel brother continues to act like he has no future. Fans of mid twentieth century aristocratic dramas will want to read the deep character driven THE INHERITANCE. Each member of the Chandler family comes across an individual with flaws somewhat covered up by wealth and title, but dishonest decisions impact everyone's happiness for decades to come. The story line follows the various Chandlers over the years, but especially concentrates on the pivotal moments surrounding the wedding. Though the deep story line contains no action, Annabel Dilke provides a potent look at the English aristocracy whose veneer of polite moral behavior begins to fade as truths surface.

Merrian C. Cooper's King Kong
Joe DeVito and Brad Strickland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349157, $17.95, 192 pp.

This is a fabulous novelization of the 1933 classic movie that most people know retells the story Beauty and the Beast except in this case as one of prime characters filmmaker Carl Denhan says at the end "Beauty killed the beast". The exhilarating story line adheres to the plot of the film yet embellishes it with a deeper look at the events that occur in the movie starting with Carl's last second finding of "Beauty" in 1932 Manhattan, the voyage to Skull Island, meeting and capturing Kong, and the climax on the Empire State Building. A short forward on the filmmaker Merrian C. Cooper adds depth to a delightful rendition that fans of the mighty Kong will want to read as this reviewer did with euphoric enjoyment.

Deep Black: Payback
Stephen Coonts & Jim DeFelice
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312936982, $7.99, 480 pp.

Peruvian general Tecume has concocted a brilliant plan to not only obtain a nuclear weapon, but to bluff the Americans into going after insurgents; his outcome is to become the president of Peru. Crippled Stephan Babin owes a lot of people. He is in debt to Tecume for saving his life so is assisting him with his nuclear ploy. However, he hides from the General that his personal agenda is to take the nuclear option one step beyond his Peruvian host. He plans to avenge what the CIA did to him, when they shot down his plane leaving him crippled. NSA assigns the Deep Black team headed by Charlie Dean to stop the General. The crack squad aided from thousand miles away by their Runner Rockman begin a counter ploy to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Tecume and local terrorists, but neither Charlie, his teammate Lia DeFransccesa, nor the home office are aware that the real threat comes from the more dangerous opponent Steve Babin who has armed his host with a second bomb unbeknownst to the Deep Black squad or any American intelligence agency. The fourth Deep Black adventure thriller is an intriguing tale because just when the team and readers think the case is solved in spite of plenty pages to go, the plot offers a delightful exhilarating twist that ratchets up the suspense levels. The story line is loaded with testosterone action even when the females like Lia take charge. Fans of the series or anyone who appreciates a black ops antiterrorism thriller will receive plenty of positive payback from this adrenaline pumping tale that goes at one speed faster than light.

The Hunger
Susan Squires
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312998546, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1811 Earl John Staunton and Countess Beatrix Lisse are lovers who each keep a dark secret from their companion. John, known as the most depraved rogue in England, is actually a spy working for the British Empire trying to identify who is the force working behind the scenes shaking up the French government. On the other hand, Beatrix is a six century plus old vampire, but the rarest form of this species having been born that way. John and Beatrix are beginning to fall in love, feelings neither desire as he knows that she will hurt his espionage work and she realizes the disparate life spans make a permanent relationship impossible. As their worlds further collide with his mission near resolution, complicating the situation is that her "sister" Asharti, a bitten vampire, has returned into Beatrix's life. She wants her bloodsucking sister to join her as they once were in a world of sensual male eating debauchery while being the real power in France and soon England. Beatrix refuses knowing that she and John will fight in "mortal" combat the raging amoral Asharti. This is a strong paranormal historical romance that grips the audience from the moment that Asharti returns to upset the happiness of the lead couple and never slows down until the final confrontation between the trio. In an intriguing way, she forms a dangerous relational triangle with Beatrix and John. Susan Squires provides a fresh romantic vampiric thriller that sub-genre fans will appreciate.

Shark Island
Joan Druett
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312334567, $23.95, 288 pp.

In 1838 Wiki Coffin enjoys his work as the linguist with the U.S. Exploring Expedition though he knows that long stretches along the Atlantic are boring and seemingly endless. Besides being the official translator to the seven vessel research project, he also does anything else his friend former Vincennes Captain George Rochester needs doing to keep the exploration running smooth. However, since Commander Wilkes demoted George to the rank of midshipman, Wiki is considering returning home. Wilkes dispatches the Swallow headed by Lieutenant Forsythe with Wiki aboard to take a look at allegedly uninhabited Ilha Tubarao which is Portuguese for Shark Island. The crew finds the distressed sealer Annawan taking in water after hitting the reef near the island. Wilkes wonders if these sailors claiming to be out of Connecticut are pirates as there are no seals in the equatorial zone. Not long after the naval crew of the Swallow and Wiki board the damaged ship, the murdered corpse of Annawan's Captain Reed is found with the evidence clearly pointing towards Lieutenant Forsythe as the culprit. Though he detests Forsythe and knows first hand how violent and abusive the lieutenant is, Wiki believes he did not commit the homicide and sets out to prove who did. SHARK ISLAND, the sequel to fabulous WATERY GRAVE, is an excellent historical mystery that uses as the setting of the real U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience like most of the sailors leans heavily towards Forsythe as the killer. The hero courageously investigates in spite of loathing the prime culprit. However, although the homiceide case is fun to follow, the seafaring scientific expedition makes this must reading for historical fans.

The Cadaver's Ball
Charles Atkins
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312342047, $24.95, 352 pp.

In 1991, Ed Tyson proposes to Beth, who apologetically says no. Instead she marries another medical student Peter Grainger. Ed vows that one day Beth will be his at any cost as he thinks of his father the "Judge" saying the " end justifies the mean". In 2004, Peter, now a psychiatrist, struggles with the accident that killed Beth and their unborn child. He currently works as the medical director for the University Hospital Mental Health Clinic, a job he got because of his pal Ed, Dean at the school. As a favor to Ed, he currently is seeing a twenty-two years old coed Ann Walsh who looks just like Beth. Ann apparently cut her wrists following a discussion with her drunken father renowned writer Carter Walsh. Soon other incidents each more dangerous than the previous occur with Peter wondering if Ed is setting him up for some reason or he is just going insane. Police Detec tive Nicole Sullivan, whose daughter remains traumatized from being molested by an uncle, looks into the strange happenings at the University Hospital Medical School. THE CADAVER'S BALL is a fabulous psychological thriller starring a person at his most vulnerable as he still grieves deeply his loss; even his son cannot help Peter recover. Interestingly the manipulations of the twisted Ed are what snap a teetering Peter back to life. Though flashbacks by Peter to happier times add depth on the other hand Ed reflecting back to his childhood seems out of place although that provides some understanding as to his Bushian philosophy of the end always justifies the means.

Matty Groves
Deborah Grabien
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312333897, $23.95, 255 pp.

Musician Ringan Laine returns home to Sommerset, England to find that he and his group Broomfield Hill are invited to perform at the Callowen House Arts Festival. He eagerly accepts the invitation and takes his girlfriend Penny Wintercroft-Howles with him. Residing there is the benign ghost of Lady Susanna who was murdered in August 1629 unlike the two spirits Ringan and Penny exorcised last year who were not as benevolent. When they arrive, Jane, a member of the band, dreams that she is Lady Susana brutalized by her beloved husband's cousin Andrew. Ringan is possessed by Andrew and almost rapes Penny, hurting her ear and mouth. He is a malevolent incubus and can cause death to the living so he must be stopped before that happens. Penny, who is the power source that wakes him up, feels it is her responsibility to get rid of this evil; with the help of her lover they research records to learn the truth about what happened over three centuries ago so they can send him to hell where he belongs. Although the antagonist is a ghost, he is just as evil, malevolent and sadistic as the most deranged mortal killer. He plays a major role in the storyline as the protagonists struggle to stop the evil that he perpetrates. The love between Ringan and Penny is so strong that she knows immediately it is not her lover who is hurting her but someone using his body. The investigation to learn the facts about what happened to Lady Susanna is a journey through historical forensic records and it is fascinating to see the pieces come together. Deborah Grabien has written a great mystery wrapped around a terrifying ghost story.

The Smoke Thief
Shana Abe
ISBN: 0553804480, $15.00

In 1737 in Darkfrith, England lives the Drakon shapeshifting race. For well over a millennium, the Drakon have kept secret from their neighbors who and what they really are, but now THE SMOKE THIEF may end their anonymity. The felon steals jewels before seemingly vanishing in a puff of smoke. Alpha chief Marquis Christoff must stop the thief from further exposing their clan. He uses the Langford diamond as a lure; he succeeds capturing the rogue Clarissa, who is actually a hybrid half human half dragon with the ability to change. However, in capturing Clarissa, Christoff loses the precious diamond he used as bait. Considered his property based on Drakon law, he forces her to work with him to regain the gem even as passion erupts in the skies and on the earth between them. This exciting historical romantic fantasy grips the audience from the moment that readers begin to comprehend the skills of the thief and the danger she places the Drakon side of her heritage. The story line is action-packed from the beginning and takes several in air twists that add to the fever pitch of an invigorating thriller. The lead couple is a delightful charming pairing of individuals falling in love, an emotion neither wants, but cannot avoid. Shana Abe provides a terrific tale that screams for similar future novels in the Drakon universe.

Private Wars
Greg Rucka
ISBN: 0553802771, $24.00

British spy Tara Chace left London on assignment in Saudi Arabia believing she was probably the best special operations officer in the world, but returns home in shock as her lover Tom Wallace died in the same fire fight that she was wounded in (see A GENTLEMAN'S GAME). She is sent to the Farm to recover, but her D-Ops superior at the Secret Intelligence Service Crocker expects her to act like Minder One and get back out there. However, besides battle fatigue, she is pregnant carrying Tom's child. Tara plans to become a full time mother to her child whom she names Tamlin after giving birth. However, she misses the danger so when SIS informs her they need her to work a situation in Uzbekistan, she leaps back into fold. The country's only President since it broke away from the Soviets in 1991, Mihail Malikov is dying; his daughter Savara Malikov-Ganiev and his son Ruslan vie to become his successor. Civil war is imminent and British interests in the country require her to assassinate a third party manipulating the situation. The latest Tara Chace espionage thriller starts off somewhat different than the previous tales as the lethal heroine suffers from shellshock mostly caused by seeing Tom die and hormonal imbalance by her pregnancy. However, she gives birth early in the story and quickly knows that maternity leave is short for someone like her. Thus Greg Rucka humanizes his killing machine, but has her back in the middle of action-packed peril in which the enemy keeps switching and remains murky at best. In spite of motherhood, Tara still lives the life of danger where everyone she meets is a potentially deadly stranger.

Stalking the Puzzle Lady
Parnell Hall
ISBN: 0553804170, $24.00, 320 pp.

Sherry Carter is pleased that her outgoing Aunt Cora "the Puzzle Lady" Felton takes the credit for constructing the crossword puzzles because she is so shy while her aunt is the poster girl of extroverts. Cora wants to resign because she doesn't want to go on tour as the spokesperson for the new and improved Granville Grains Corn Toasties. The only reason she agrees to do it is because she needs the money, having lost heavily due to poor investments. Cora doesn't know that someone is in the shadows, watching every move she makes while sending her crossword puzzles. When the sender gets impatient that Cora fails to make contact with him, he kills a young actress who is posing as one of the older children that is in the crowds at each stop. Cora is uneasy because her high school friend Freddy Fosterfield is turning up everywhere she goes; while Sherry who is on tour with her aunt is being hassled by her abusive ex-husband Dennis. When the publicity person on the tour is murdered, suspicion falls on Dennis but Sherry believes he is innocent of the two killings and tries to prove it. This angers her lover Aaron and irritates Cora but neither as much as an irate killer. The latest Puzzle Lady mystery is an exciting amateur sleuth tale in which Cora unwittingly is trapped in a cat and mouse game with a murderer who starts out as an infatuated person and evolves into a cold-blooded killing machine. Parnell Hall focuses on the violence of stalkers who are obsessed by a celebrity and shows why it is a hard crime to solve. This entertaining crime caper also has the usual numerous humorous moments and puzzles to solve that lead to clues.

She, Myself, & I
Whitney Gaskell
ISBN: 0553383132, $12.00

The oldest of the three Cassell sisters thirty-four years old Paige is amiably divorced from her spouse Scott when he one day announced he was coming out of the closet; she buries herself in her legal work vowing no more men. The middle sibling pregnant thirty two years old Sophie remodels her kitchen without the knowledge of her husband Aldan who is away on business. The youngest twenty two years old Mickey has given up Brown University Medical School to be with her married lover, Chef Oliver. While Sophie struggles with raging hormones, the carpenter she hired Zack is interested in dating Paige, who changes her mind about her male taboo. Complicating their relationship is that Sophie insists he is her carpenter, her parents, who angrily divorced years ago, are making morning coffee together, and Mickey seems destined for a broken heart. SHE, MYSELF, & I is an intriguing character study that concentrates predominately on the oldest sister, but also provides strong looks at the younger siblings. Paige and Mickey are fine protagonists, but the zany pregnant Sophie steals the show with her decision making and declarations that drive everyone crazy. Whitney Gaskell writes a lighthearted romp that showcases sisterly love and support amidst all types of tribulations.

The Blood Red Sea
Ron Faust
ISBN: 0553586572, $6.99, 352 pp.

In Bell Harbor, Florida, only four months out of law school, attorney Dan Shaw hates his job. His clients consist of losers or mentally challenged sent to him by other lawyers to work plea bargains. His last two patrons put him over the edge when one wants to sue the CIA for placing a microchip in her womb and the other has no idea how a meth lab ended up in his garage. Dan needs to escape especially since his former fiancee married someone else and the local cops show interest in a deadly incident involving him in Italy. Dan sails the Caribbean on his boat the Roamer when he sees a naked woman swimming towards him 85 miles from any land. He brings her on board and treats her dehydration and numerous jelly fish bites. She is Katherine Adams- Cardinal who has been reported missing by her spouse. Kate tells Dan that her husband threw her off their ship, blaming her falling over board on alcohol. She wants to return to her home in Santo Domingo to get her child back from her husband; Dan agrees to help her though he knows how deadly this Cesar is. THE BLOOD RED SEA is an exhilarating thriller that starts off as a legal tale, but quickly turns into a tense romantic suspense. The story line turns from tongue in cheek humor to non-stop action from the moment that Kate "rescues" herself from the sea and never slows down until the final confrontation. Though the characters are never fully developed even Dan seems to be missing a bicep or two, no one will care as readers will appreciate Ron Faust's fine tale.

Children of the Serpent Gate
Sarah Ash
ISBN: 0553382128, $23.00, 528 pp.

The Emperor Eugene is Drakhaoul (daemon) possessed a situation he wanted to happen so that he would have all the power of his most bitter enemy Gavril Nagarian who is also possessed by a daemon. He tries to keep the daemon in check for when it is in control someone dies because it needs to drink human blood. Now that the King Enguerrand of Francia has the five Tears of Artamon, he lays claim to the entire Rossiyan Empire, but Eugene is not about to give up his throne without a fight. He offers Gavril and his men pardons if they recover the most powerful magus in the world Kaspar Linnaius from a Francian jail. Gavril rescues the mage in his dragon form and take him to the home of his lover Kirkiu, However the magus behaves like a senile old man. Kirkiu is now an old woman after traveling too long in the Realm of Shadows. She and Kaspar must bathe in the Jade River to recover her youth and his mind providing that the Guardian grants them these gifts. Eugene must battle Enguerrand's forces if he wants to keep his throne and then he must join forces with Gavril to make sure the serpent gate doesn't open and let the most powerful daemon of all out. If they fail, hell will come to the mortal plane. Book Three of the Tears of Artamon series ties up all the loose ends, explains the origins of the daemons and gives the reader a chance to see two mortal enemies work together for the good of the realm. Sword and Sorcery fans, high fantasy enthusiasts and readers who want to be enthralled in the tradition of Mercedes Lackey and Robin Hobb will find CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT GATE a memorable reading experience.

Solomon vs. Lord
Paul Levine
ISBN: 0440242738, $5.99, 576 pp.

The first time they met it was in court when she was the prosecutor and he was the defense attorney. Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord ignited sparks in their arguments leading to the judge throwing both in jail for contempt of court. When they get out, her boss tells her he's on probation but Solomon irritates her so much that she bad mouths him again in open court. This time her boss fires Victoria. When Katriana's wealthy husband Charles Barkdale dies during a bondage game that went too far, the police charge her with murder and believe she purposely strangled her spouse. Victoria agrees to defend Kat but makes the mistake of telling Solomon who beats her to Kat's house and gives her a phony story that he and Victoria are partners and she needs his experience if she hopes to be acquitted. Victoria is furious but has no choice but to work with Solomon because she needs the money. Solomon also needs a miracle to keep custody of his nephew an autistic savant who was physically abused by his mother. Even though Vickie is engaged to a decent and proper man, she has strong feelings for Steve and his nephew; she represents them in juvenile court while they work together on Kat's murder case. Paul Levine has written a witty, irreverent and laugh out loud legal thriller that will have readers laughing out mindful of Winger-Redford's Legal Eagles. This book makes readers feel good about lawyers, a Herculean task that Mr. Levine manages with seeming ease. The two protagonists are polar opposites yet they are a perfect match in and out of court. The hero's nephew plays a major role by adding an extra delightful dimension to this legal thriller.

Smart Boys & Fast Girls
Stephie Davis
Smooch (Dorchester)
ISBN: 0843953985, $5.99

Varsity track runner Natalie is in danger of being dropped from the team due to failing math grades. She reluctantly accepts Matt as her tutor. As he helps her with her math, Natalie tries to gain the attention of the team's superstar Zach. She persuades Matt to pretend to be her boyfriend, which is not hard to do as he is already sweet on his student. The sophomore feels good to show off a boyfriend to her pals who all have "men" in their lives. However, the best is that Zach has noticed her and wants to go out with her. She has everything she desires so Natalie ponders why she wants Matt to keep kissing her not Zach. This is a terrific teenage romance starring likable characters especially the heroine who keeps the tale together. The story line is well written as the high school scene comes to life. Adding to the pleasure is the delightful gender bending as the title implies with the female being the athlete and the male doing well in academics. Young adults will enjoy Stephie Davis' humorous look at romance in the classroom.

Cait London
ISBN: 0060790873, $5.99

Rachel Everly returns to her home town, Neptune's Landing to learn why her sister, Mallory, committed suicide. Rachel wonders if Kyle Scanlon is the underlying reason as the hunk has tempted every female in town from the moment he opened up his mechanic shop. Rachel is surprised to find out that her sister left her with her pride and joy the Nine Ball family pool hall. Because she feels guilty for not being there for her sibling, Rachel plans to honor Mallory by turning the place into a thriving business. She moves into Mallory's small apartment above the pool hall, but finds the place haunting as she constantly yells (a bit overdone) why at every hint of Mallory's presence, which is everywhere, and starts to locate clues of the source that propelled her sister to apparently kill her self. Clues to the evil that controlled Mallory until her death was her only relief from her dark side; Rachel is next if she fails to interpret what she truly inherited from her sibling. FLASHBACK is a tense romantic suspense thriller starring two combatants falling in love while the heroine wonders if her beloved led her sister to the dark side. The war between the lead couple is fun to follow, but the key to the exciting story line remains Rachel's efforts to learn what drove her sibling to suicide. As readers ponder why also, only Kyle can keep Rachel from repeating her sister's mistakes, but she must trust him to be her champion; a difficult undertaking when you deem him unworthy of her and most likely in her estimation the cause.

Twas the Bite Before Christmas
Lee Charles Kelley
ISBN: 0060732288, $6.99, 384 pp.

Ex-NYPD Police Officer Jack Field now lives in Maine where he owns and operates a kennel and is a consultant to his fiancee state medical examiner Jamie Cutter. They are enjoying themselves one night when a phone call summons them to the Bright mansion where the corpse of the housemaid Amy Frost is found d lying on the steps. Tests show that she suffered blunt force trauma to her head by an unknown object and the Brights believe her abusive ex-boyfriend Thomas Huckabee did the deed. They go so far as to plant false evidence so the police will focus their investigation on Huckabee. Karl, the family chauffeur, disappears after telling Jack about a mysterious professor who visits the Brights quite often and where he is in residence. Strange things happen in the newly contracted third floor of the mansion. Karl is in New York trying to resolve a misunderstanding with a Russian mafiosa who winds up helping Jack in his quest to find the mysterious professor. Jack wants Huckabee found so he can give a kidney to his son who has weeks left to live and his father is a good match. Jack also wants to discover what ro le the professor played in the Bight problems and develops a brilliant con to bring him out of hiding. Readers who like Laurien Berenson and Susan Conant will love 'TWAS THE BITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The secondary cast makes the tale including Doberman pinchers who look fierce but are putty in Jack's hands. The hero's own two dogs will bring a smile to the reader's face with their actions and antics. Though a bit too many ornaments, Lee Charles Kelly has written a clever crime caper.

Buddha Baby
Kim Wong Keltner
ISBN: 0060753226, $12.95

In San Francisco optimistic third-generation Chinese-American Lindsay Owyang works two bare sustenance part-time jobs. Her elan for life (and Hello Kitty toys) is somewhat defused when her boyfriend Michael proposes just before he leaves the city on business. The thought of him as her unsanctioned fiance makes her ponder whether she wants the "White Devil". Adding to her confusion, her childhood crush Dustin Lee returns and quickly decides he wants Lindsey in his bed. Dustin, like Lindsay, fails to connect with their heritage as they feel they are Californians first and Chinese last, but is very attracted to her in spite of her genes. She feels the same way so she decides to learn more about the first generation her grandparents, but no one in her family will help her. Thus, she investigates on her own because she finds she wants Dustin not Michael. Though Michael is too conveniently removed form the potential triangle, chick lit fans will enjoy this fine tale as the heroine struggles between her Americanization and her heritage. Lindsey's spark for life is energizing while her sidebar comments are often amusing though some will cause moans. As she did as the star of THE DIM SUM OF ALL THINGS, Lindsey keeps the fun story line together while struggling with who she is and which man she desires.

True Hollywood Lies
Josie Brown
ISBN: 0060815876, $12.95

In Hollywood, Hanna Fairchild was born with a golden spoon as the daughter of a famous and wealthy actor. Her passion is the alignment of the stars as she follows astrology while ignoring the Hollywood stars. When her dad suddenly dies in the bed of his teenage mistress, his fourth wife freezes Hannah's trust fund by gaining control of his entire estate through chicanery. Hannah is left with nothing. Not one to whine, Hannah obtains a job as personnel assistant to British hunk Louis Trollope, a throwback egomaniac from the glamour days of Hollywood. He demands anything and everything including her scheduling his rendezvous and informing him on media happenings that focus on him. At the same time as she works the lies of and to the press, Hannah, Louis and his best friend Mick Bradshaw forge an odd relational romantic triangle with someone bound to be hurt especially when the tabloids get wind of it. TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES is an amusing chick lit tale starring a likable protagonist who seems confused by what she wants in life. At times Hannah seeks her fifteen minutes of fame and more while at other moments she shies away from the glare of Hollywood, preferring to work out of the media's view. The ease in which her latest "stepmom" gains control of the estate seems off kilter for an intelligent person like Hannah, but the audience will not care once she begins working for megalomaniac Louis in this fun tale.

My Fair Temptress
Christine Dodd
ISBN: 0060561122, $6.99, 384 pp.

Renowned as a flirt with no employment history, a desperate Lady Caroline Ritter suddenly needs a job with no prospects. However, the Distinguished Academy of Governesses hires her to teach foppish loser Jude Durant what a woman desires. Jude still works undercover for the Foreign Office after years on the continent playing the fool, but his current mission is to learn who is behind the assassination plan to kill the Queen. He keeps his persona going although he knows he needs no lessons on how to pleasure a lady. However, besides struggling to hide his real self, he finds he wants to be the teacher's pet as he is very attracted to Caroline, who surprises him with her intelligence, wit, and depth of character. Neither expected love to spring up between the tutor and the pupil, but first he must complete the mission while also keeping his beloved pawn safe. Though there is a degree of suspense in this superb Victorian romance, the tale clearly belongs to the lead couple as the teacher tries to train the student who knows he must continue his masquerade for the sake of Her Majesty, but needs to teach the art of lovemaking to his instructor. The story line is amusing as these two excellent characters battle over who teaches who as love makes both winners. Christine Dodd writes a fun tale that focuses on the gender war for supremacy in and out of the bedroom with an assassination plot to add a hint of danger to the participants.

It Happened One Autumn
Lisa Kleypas
ISBN: 0060562498, $7.50, 384 pp.

In 1843, American heiress Lillian Bowman, a card carrying member of the Wallflowers, sets her sights on marrying the "Ice Prince" Marcus. He rejects her advances as he sees her and her three Wallflower compatriots as uncouth barbarians, who think nothing about parading in front of him in their undergarments though he admits only to himself the colonist looked quite alluring. With his aloof put downs, Lillian concludes that her beloved is a snob who needs to be yanked down a peg or two and she, the Yank, will do so. Marcus, in turn thinks her insolence is a case of poor breeding. With all that going on it is no wonder that Lillian and Marcus are falling in love with one another, but first must put aside the boxing gloves for a moment; an act neither wants to do first for fear of a low blow retaliation. As she did with the first Wallflowers' historical romance (see SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT), Lisa Kleypas provides her audience with a delightful Victorian tale starring two individuals in this case who detest one another at first sight. The theme is opposites might attract, but also expel as neither wants to desire the other in a classic case of reaction formation because deep inside their hearts they know they have met their soulmate, who is not the image of what they thought they wanted. The lead couple keeps the fun story line brisk as enemy combatants in love.

Rules of Passion
Sara Bennett
ISBN: 0060796480, $5.99, 384 pp.

The three Slater sisters are ecstatic over meeting their long lost biological mother Aphrodite Greentree (see LESSONS IN SEDUCTION), who they were separated from years ago when they were small children. Aphrodite runs a successful brothel so must be discrete with her beloved now adult children so as to not hurt their chances for a good match. Her oldest child stalked her beloved in Aphrodite's brothel. Now her middle daughter Marietta wants to become a courtesan just like her natural mother was and asks her to train her in the art of seduction. Madame Aphrodite hopes to persuade her daughter that this is not a way of life for her, but feels she must do so with stealth as she herself has had a good life as a courtesan. Thus she promises to take Marietta on as an apprentice, but first her daughter must survive a test of fire. She must seduce the posterboy of scandals Max Valland, a morose and disinherited aristocrat. Max accepts his dissipated role, but he finds he cannot have enough of the tyro; she in turn breaks the courtesan's maxim of never falling in love with the bill payer. The second Slater saga is a fabulous Victorian romance starring the wildest of the three sisters and an outcast aristocrat anticipating a tryst that turns the three RULES OF PASSION, as both understand them now, upside down when their hearts enter the equation. "Naughty" Marietta and "mad" Max are an enchanting pairing while the support cast brings out the worst in both of them to the delight of readers. Fans will look forward to the tale of the youngest sibling as Sara Bennett livens up the sub-genre.

Wanted: One Sexy Night
Judi McCoy
ISBN: 0060774207, $5.99, 384 pp.

Mira has mixed feelings about being one of the nine women chosen for Project Rejuvenation; on the one hand she knows the importance of achieving the objective that could mean saving her species, but on the other she hates leaving her home world and family to find her suitable chosen mate on that backwater planet earth. Still duty calls so she says goodbye to her dad, the highest ranked elder. On earth, Mira wastes no time in meeting her objective of mating with Lucas Diamond, Director of the Division of Interstellar Activity. He cannot resist her siren's call starting with her elevator proposition. As the couple falls in love, Mira knows that once he finishes her mission by impregnating her, she knows leaving for home will break her heart even if though she will be carrying a piece of him. The final tale in the wonderful "Starlight" trilogy is a terrific science fiction romance that fans of both series, especially those who enjoy first contact tales will appreciate. Mira and Lucas is a perfect couple from that first special kiss until she explains all to her beloved. Hopefully, Judi McCoy does not wait fifteen years before providing her audience with a follow up on the other six females who sought their ideal breeder on planet earth.

Confessions of a Serial Dater
Michelle Cunnah
ISBN: 0060560371, $12.95

In London Rosie is a confident success when it comes to business, but when it comes to her heart she feels that she might be a serial dating "manizer". At a friend's wedding reception, Rosie realizes that every man at her table spent time with her in her bed. She thinks she loves her current squeeze Jonathan, but loathes her beau's boss, who seems to believe that he has rights to her because her boyfriend is his employee. Rosie is disappointed that Jonathan failed to end his supervisor's blatant sexual harassment of her. At a dinner dance, her animosity explodes as the boss crosses new harassing lines with Jonathan pretending all is okay. She selects a stranger to use as a deterrent and he kindly helps her. However, Rosie begins dreaming of her champion though she feels they will never meet again, that is, until fate intercedes. Though Rosie at first seems shallow, fans will realize as soon as she makes her confession that she is a deep person who is just seeking someone to love and who will love her back. She is just going about it wrong. She is the obvious center of this fine chick lit tale as fans will chuckle at her sexploits which affirm in her mind that as long as it's male she is an equal opportunity serial dater until she begins to fantasize about her hero, the mystery rescuer. Michelle Cunnah provides a fine chick lit tale starring a wonderful protagonist.

A Matter of Temptation
Lorraine Heath
ISBN: 0060749768, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1852 London, Robert Hawthorne escapes from Pentonville Prison where his younger twin John sent him for eight years. When Warder Matthews arrives to inform the lord of his sibling's escape Robert hands over the real John to be imprisoned until he can figure out what to do with him. Robert's plan to ease back into society collapse immediately when he learns he will marry Victoria "Torie" Lambert in the morning. As he tries to bluff what and whom he has known for the last eight years, he falls in love with Torie, but believes she cherishes the charmed John who impersonated him. As much as he wants her, he must not touch her because she belongs to someone else even if that person stole almost a decade of his life. Victorian romantic suspense fans will be reminded of The Man in the Iron Mask though Lorraine Heath spends more time on Robert's struggles to hide that he replaced his twin who previously replaced him. The story line is character driven as Robert tries to recover from what he lost and falls in love with his wife. Torie realizes that the man she married is so different than the lord who courted her, but cannot fathom why. It is interesting how both twins when they drive pass Pentonville must stop and gaze in horror of what they and readers know of who is there and the shocking prison conditions. Lorraine Heath provides a fabulous rendition of the Dumas' classic.

In Deep Voodoo
Stephanie Bond
ISBN: 0060820578, $6.99, 384 pp.

Penny Francisco came home early only to find her husband attorney Deke making love in their bed to Sheena "litigator" Linder; making it worse is that she had dirty feet. The divorce settlement left Penny with her health store, The Charm Farm, and some adjoining land that she plans to use to grow herbs; Deke got their house across the street that he paints an ugly pink, but he also hid valuable assets in the name of his now fiancee. Penny's assistant Marie Gaston hosts a divorce celebration for her boss. One of the guests secretly gives Penny a voodoo doll of Deke; Penny stabs the doll in the heart. The next day she goes over to see Deke who had frantically called her several times, but was not answering his phone. She finds him dead with a weapon stabbed through his heart. Everyone else thinks Penny either killed Deke with voodoo or as crime of passion. Penny plans to prove otherwise by uncovering the truth with the help of a donut lusting private investigator as her only ally. Stephanie Bond provides a terrific amateur sleuth investigative tale with a heated romantic subplot to enhance the bewildered but delightful lead female protagonist. Penny is the fabulous center to the strong story line as her antics will amuse the audience. Her efforts to prove she is innocent though everyone in Mojo, Louisiana believes otherwise while making side comments about pink houses, replacement females, mayoral ex mother-in-laws, hunks, and voodoo make for a fine time. Still the bottom line means diving IN DEEP VOODOO as she has a slight doubt that just maybe her jab with the pin killed her former spouse.

My Fifteen Minutes
Sara Faith Alterman
ISBN: 0060755911, $16.95, 288 pp.

In Southern California, size 12 waitress Julie Jorlamo thinks God is missing an angel since highly regarded actor Chad Downing moved into her building. Chad is conducting research on how the working class lives for an upcoming role. She will soon reconsider her belief star system when the paparazzi catch Julie leaving Chad's temporary apartment in a bathrobe due to a "matchmaking" canine. This explodes into a media feeding frenzy. to learn who is the lover of America's heartthrob. Phil the publicist drums up the concept of royal Hollywood dating a commoner. As Chad escorts Julie around the town to the swankiest of galas and events, the star-struck waitress sees how shallow the glamour and glitter truly are. As her fifteen minutes of fame begins to wane, Julie just wants to return to her normal boring life as Hollywood has opened her eyes to celebrity-ism. MY FIFTEEN MINUTES is a fabulous satirical tale that lampoons the American worship of movie stars and other figures on pedestals. The story line is at its lampoonist best when the starry eyed waitress oohs and ahs her way into high society though she just the waitress next door, which she soon receives an education as such to remind of this. When the plot veers towards chick lit territory it loses some of the sting as inanity replaces stinging social wit. Still this is a fabulous glimpse at who is a hero.

The Next Mrs. Blackthorne
Joan Johnston
Pocket Books
ISBN: 0743454413, $7.99

Nineteen years old Kate Grayhawk thought that her rescue from a kidnapping would be the catalyst to bring her biological parents together, but one year since her harrowing experience, Libby Grayhawk and Clay Blackthorne remain apart. Though she knows the families feud, she still has hopes until her prayers seem to be forever unanswered when her father announces his engagement to Jocelyn Montrose. With the gene pool she carries Kate is not a quitter so continues her efforts to bring her parents together. Surprisingly and serendipitously her Uncle North Grayhawk assists her by buying shares of stock in the Blackthorne Bitter Creek Cattle Company. Meanwhile Jocelyn who always wanted Clay even when he was married to her late sister meets North and is stunned as he sets her heart ablaze like no one else including her fiance has ever done before. Feeling a need to make things right for Clay and his family she offers herself to North in exchange for the stock not realizing the inferno she and Kate, acting separately, set between the two of them and the fighting families. This is a strong entry in the long running feuding Grayhawk- Blackthorne dispute. Fans will appreciate the internal battles of the obstinate cast as no one wants to take the first step for fear of rejection by the significant other they love and the consequent scorn by their family. Though Police Officer Jack hits it on the head that Kate is too spoiled and has pitied herself over the years due to the lack of a two parent home, readers will enjoy the latest in Joan Johnston's long running saga.

Hula Done It
Maddy Hunter
Pocket Books
ISBN: 0743482921, $6.99, 338 pp.

She has the perfect job as a tour guide for a senior travel club but every time Emily Andrews takes a trip with her group, someone gets murdered and she is in the thick of the investigation. The trip on the cruise ship the Aloha Princess touring the Hawaiian Islands is no different. Professor Dorian Smoker, a lecturer on the famous explorer Captain Cook is thrown overboard as witnessed by his teaching assistant Bailey. On his person was a book written by seamen Griffin Ring which contained a map of buried treasure located on Kauai given to him by one of the members of Emily's travel group. She wanted him to authenticate it for her. Luckily, another member of the group made a photo copy of the map and they look for the treasure. Professor Smoker had many enemies including two groups who disagreed with his portrayal of Captain Cook. Also on the cruise is an ex-student he flunked which cost her a once in a life time job and a couple of students he slept with. When a second murder occurs and Emily is attacked, she and the group investigate all the suspects hoping to find th e killer. HULA DONE IT is a fabulous cozy that is filled with intrigue, humor and a protagonist who is a combination at Calamity Jane and the Stooges (yes, all three of them). There are some scenes that are so hilarious readers will laugh so loud that tears will stream down their eyes. The secondary cast is a delightful crowd that will charm readers with their eccentricities. Maddy Hunter writes a great who done it that doesn't contain violence or blood but tells a good story.

Kill Me Twice
Roxanne St. Claire
Pocket Books
ISBN: 0743477308, $6.99, 384 pp.

Adroit Broadcasting Group CEO Kimball Parrish hires the Bullet Catchers to protect a beautiful Miami TV newscaster Jessica Adams from a dangerous stalker. Lucy Stone tells Alex Romero he better keep his hands to himself as she does not want Switzerland ever again. Thinking of raspberries on breasts, Alex knows he is on probation for one of the elite, if the not the best, personal protection specialist in the world. Jessica's twin sister private investigator Jasmine poses as her when Alex arrives to protect "her" as Jess has gone undercover on a story. Alex and Jazz meet, sparks fly mostly as temper as she does not need nor want a bodyguard even if he a hunk that stirs her juices. He, in turn, has never felt so much desire, but knows he must keep his hands to himself (though he thinks that's a pity), even if she is not the client. Both worry about Jessica and where she is. They begin to look for the sibling while Jazz warns Alex to stop telling her how to do her job even as they fall in love. The first Bullet Catchers tale is an action-packed romantic suspense that hooks the audience from the moment Lucy Stone rips skin off of the hero while giving him his assignment. The story line never slows down once Alex arrives in Florida as he takes his work seriously, but runs into an immovable force who demands he leave. From that first encounter, the lead couple bickers, argues, and falls in love, but never loses sight of the objective finding and keeping her sibling safe. Roxanne St. Claire provides her audience with a terrific thrilling tale.

Pretty Evil
Lexi Davis
Pocket Books
ISBN: 1416505253, $14.00, 400 pp.

Realtor Alison "Sunnie" Clark is a religious person who lives by the golden rule. In spite of having a boyfriend, three of her best pals are males: mystery writer Rice Jordan, injured professional football player Franklin "Coach" Brass, and playboy Geffen Cage. Still she is concerned that the trio spends their time chasing women then finding the Lord. Sunnie sells the three womanizers a Beverly Hills home on the condition they attend church. They have no plan to sing God's praise, but agree to Sunnie's stipulation because a few hours a week is a cheap price to play to be able to convert the former brothel into an elite bed and breakfast and gala event hosting facility. However, Sunnie, who has a knack for detecting evil spirits, realizes that the house is filled with malevolence. Vixx, a nymphomaniac she-devil, abetted by Cr?p the ghoul, plans to destroy the men. She especially will use her abilities to morph into their fantasy women. Only Sunnie stands in her way of capturing the hearts and souls of these non-believing males. When Sunni is not preaching fans will appreciate this gender bending haunted house tale in which evil vs. good battle for the souls of three philandering males. The story line for the most part is action-packed though the heroine can get long winded when she goes off on one of her sermons. Still there is plenty of romance between Sunnie and read the book, but the key relationship of this supernatural tale is between the warrior women Sunnie and Vixx with the prizes being three hunks.

One Little Sin
Liz Carlyle
Pocket Books
ISBN: 0743496108, $6.99, 384 pp.

Running from a blacksmith who he cuckolded, Sir Alasdair MacLachan, accompanied by his brother Merrick and their friend Quin, duck into a fortune teller's tent. The Gypsy informs the three hedonists that their wicked past is catching up to them. Only Quin seems shaken by the prognostication. That night young Esmee Hamilton arrives at Alasdair's home carrying an infant Sorcha Guthrie who she claims he sired. Stunned but recognizing the family eye color, he listens as Esmee explains their mother recently died so their stepfather tossed both out of his home as neither shares his blood. She cannot care for her half-sister as she must work as a governess. Alasdair believes her story though he fails to recognize the name of her mother. He hires Esmee to care for his offspring. As his brother and friend think he is a fool, Alasdair falls in love with Esmee though she constantly rips his skin for his transgressions; she hides from him that she feels the same way because sh e believes a leopard cannot change its spots nor can a rakish gambler. Regency romance fans will enjoy this fine amusing tale starring a reprobate and a reformer. The story line focuses on the changing relationship between the lead couple as the heroine converts from disdain to love while Alasdair has no concept of what hit him since the Gypsy cursed him. Liz Carlyle opens her trilogy with a humorous novel that will leave her audience looking forward to what happens to Merrick and Quin.

Bad Attitude
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Pocket Books
ISBN: 1416503560, $18.00, 288 pp.

Bureau of American Defense Agent (BAD) Sydney Westbrook knows she must find the right person for the job, but need to do it quickly. She needs a sniper willing to quietly kill an enemy agent before that combatant assassinates a key international figure, who has kept nuclear weapons away from terrorists, during a peace conference held in the United States. Her sister agent Tee informs Sydney that she has just the man for her though there is a slight bump. Former soldier Joshua Daniel Steele is a resident of Leavenworth for shooting his CO. Sydney thinks this guy has the perfect BAD ATTITUDE profile although she knows cons carry a lot of emotional baggage. At first sight Sydney and JD are ready to kill one another, which climaxes in a sexual encounter. As they struggle to keep their attraction out of their business relationship of her spotting for him top make the kill, they begin to fall in love. However, first there remains stopping a professional killer so that nuclear weapons remain out of the hands of terrorists. BAD ATTITUDE is a tongue in cheek romantic suspense thriller starring two crazy combatants who get smart about life by falling in love with one another. Fans will enjoy this fine tale, which has a serious undertone dealing with nuclear weapons ending up in the wrong hands (not just Iran or North Korea, but Al Qaeda, etc.). Still this is an action-packed light hearted farce in which readers will wonder how safe the world will be if the lead couple have offspring.

Only with a Highlander
Janet Chapman
Pocket Books
ISBN: 0743486323, $6.99

In Pine Creek, Maine, businessman Matt Gregor enters the art gallery owned by sisters Winter and Megan McKeague. He buys "Moon Watcher" and asks her as the artist if she would paint a picture of a home for him that he will have constructed on Bear Mountain, which he now owns. Winter worries that her elderly friend Talking Tom who lives in a cabin on the mountain will be displaced so she agrees if he allows Tom to stay. Father Daar informs Grey, who he brought forward eight centuries, that his tree of life is dying and only Winter can save it. He wants to train her to be a Druid to kill his long time enemy Curam who he believes is killing his tree; if the tree dies, the earth will die too. However, Daar insists she must remain a virgin or lose her power; he may be too late as she loves Matt, who she has been seeing for the last couple of weeks though she still knows little about him. The attraction between the lead couple is terrific as they grip the audience throughout like when Matt knows while conducting business in Utah that Winter needs him now on the New England mountaintop. The amazing and fabulous twists will shock and entertain the audience while refreshing a tale enhanced by the return of stars from the previous novels playing critical roles. Though the use of the tree dying was a prime theme in a previous tale (see TEMPTING THE HIGHLANDER) and a wonderful twist involving Tom l acks motive, fans will cherish this powerful entry in a fine romantic fantasy series.

Mistaken Identity
Josh McDowell & Ed Stewart
Green Key Books
2514 Aloha Place, Holiday, FL 34691
ISBN: 1932587632, $13.99, 308 pp.

The Chapel of the Valley Church in Orchard Valley, Washington is a ministering place of worship led by Reverend Ezra who dreams of erecting on the thirteen acres of private land that the ministry owns a ministry site for migrant workers. For now, homeless people and drifters are allowed to camp at that site. Joe, a man who rides a motorcycle, has a scar on his face and a tattoo on his arm, is the only person camping there right now. When he sees a fire at the church he uses a garden hose to contain it until the firefighters arrive to put it out; Joe is accepted as one of the congregation. The reverend goes to check on the $22,455 that was in a box in his desk and notices the drawer has been jimmied and the box along with the money is missing. Suspicion falls on Joe because he is a stranger, his screwdriver was found in the church and the box is located in his tent. Joe wants to clear his name because he has come to care about the people in the valley and he doesn't want to lose their regard. Joe came to Orchard Valley to meet his birth mother but finds a community of Christians who practice what they preach and make a stranger feel like one of the flock. This is a riveting tale with characters who are believable, especially a man whose love of god and good heart makes one forget that he is mentally challenged. He is the glue that holds the story t ogether because people can sense saintliness about him and his joy in the word and his love of people. MISTAKEN IDENTITY is a very special treat that fans will feel privileged to have read.

Seven Minutes to Noon
Kate Pepper
ISBN: 0451215796, $6.99, 307 pp.

Alice Halpern sits in Carroll Park, Brooklyn waiting for her best friend Lauren Barnet to arrive so she can vent about the eviction notice she just received from the new o wner of the brownstone she and her husband rent. However, the nine month pregnant Lauren never shows up. Alice, also pregnant, crosses the street to PS 58 to pick up her two children and wait for Lauren to get her son too, but Lauren never arrives at the elementary school. The police search for the missing woman until they find her rotting corpse in the nearby Gowanus Canal; the baby crudely removed from the womb. Alice is especially stunned and begins to believe someone i s stalking her. With her middle class safe world shattered, she feels strongly that someone is sizing her up as a victim when she enters her ninth month. Being from a similar middle class neighborhoods in the Bronx, this reviewer knows first hand that Kate Pepper has captured the essence of her urban setting. The action takes a back seat to the growing psychological tension building up inside the lead protagonist who initially fears for her friend, turns horrified when her friend is found brutally murdered with the infant gone, and soon becomes frightened for herself and her unborn. As Alice fears for her safety, fans will wonder if she is paranoid or on target. When the plot switches from her increasing fear of what she considered a haven to that of the final confrontation with a twist, the suspense is powerful but loses a skip yet the audience will hold their breath until the last revelation is revealed.

Don't Say a Word
Barbara Freethy
ISBN: 0451216768, $6.99, 416 pp.

In San Francisco twenty-eight years old Julia DeMarco and her fiance Michael Graffino visit the Palace of Legion of Honor where they will hold their wedding. While their planner is occupied and Michael is conducting business on his cell phone, Julia hears music so she investigates. She sees a photograph of a three or four year old girl looking through the gates of an overseas orphanage, who looks like her. The girl wears a necklace identical to hers and Julia wonders if the girl is her even though she never left the country. Michael laughs at her thoughts. However, she decides to investigate starting with the photographer Joe Manning who died one day after he shot the Russian girl. She visits Joe's son, also a photographer, Alex who remembers his dad's dire warning to forget the picture; the next day dad was murdered. Still Julia needs to know who the girl is and begins to make inquires over the objections of her family and Michael. Unable to resist Alex assists her. What she learns will shake her belief system to its core. DON'T SAY A WORD is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the amateur investigation as Julia slowly peels away the lies done out of love to protect her to obtain the truth. Julia is a great protagonist struggling with one revelation after another while disbelieving that people she loves and trusts fabricated her history. Two fabulous final twists involving the girl in the picture will leave readers saying the word to other fans about this fine novel and demanding more such tales from Barbara Freethy.

Just Perfect
Julie Ortolon
ISBN: 0451216881, $6.99, 304 pp.

Artist Maddy Mills, Dr. Christine Ashton, and Amy Baker are elated for former college roommate Jane Redding, who has written a self-help book "How to have the Perfect Life". However, they become angry when they realize Jane used the trio as classic examples of how fear can destroy your life. Angry and feeling ridiculed the threesome vow to prove little Ms. Perfect wrong by regaining the passion they lost when they allowed phobias to paralyze them. Maddy has overcome her fears (see ALMOST PERFECT) and now it is Christine's turn. Her objective is to overcome her fear of heights by riding a ski lift with her ultimate goal being to gain her father's praise. Her new job should go a long way towards receiving his accolades. Search and rescue worker Alec Hunter agrees to provide Christine with skiing instructions. She assumes he is an unemployed ski bum, which angers him. When they work together to assist a snowboarding accident victim, they begin to fall in love, but her family thinks he is beneath her; to marry for love means giving up the job that would finally earn her daddy's praise. The second Perfect tale is a fabulous contemporary that uses comedy and romance to provide readers with deep messages: you can't earn love by living someone else's life and don't let fears stop you from being yourself. Christine is a terrific protagonist struggling to gain daddy's approval, but never achieving the mark; she must choose between her father and Alec. Fans will hope she makes the right choice for her, which can only occur if she accepts that she will never be perfect to her dad and almost is not good enough for him.

One Knight Stands
Jocelyn Kelley
ISBN: 0451216873, $6.99, 304 pp.

In the twelfth century, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine funds St. Jude's Abbey, a place where young women learn to read and write, and receive combat training. Queen Eleanor arrives at the Abbey to assign the task of obtaining and hiding the mythical "speaking stone" of Merlin, "Llech-lafar" to prevent its prophesy from happening. The prophecy claims that if the King steps on the stone he dies from happening. Weapons adept, especially with the quarterstaff, Elspeth Braybrooke is assigned the mission. Not long afterward Tarran ap Llyr and his soldiers are escorting an elderly woman when they notice Elspeth hanging from a castle's slit trying to gain entry. Tarran is impressed with Elspeth's fighting skills and persuades her to join them on escorting Vala; she agrees as they travel a similar path, but must not lose sight of her mission especially when she finds for the first time in her life the desire to be with a man. Tarran feels exactly like Elspeth as he wants her, but fears she will divert him from his quest to kill his former best friend who murdered his spouse. ONE KNIGHT STAND, the sequel to the delightful A KNIGHT LIKE NO OTHER, is a terrific medieval romance that stars two fabulous warriors falling in love with one another who fear that unwanted emotion will interfere with their respective missions. The story line insures the audience knows that events occur during the twelfth century, but Jocelyn Kelley cleverly interweaves that into her background. Fans of English historical romances starring a strong female solider and the only male who can somewhat keep up with her will appreciate this tale and its predecessor. Hopefully Queen Eleanor introduces readers to more competent women warriors soon.

Blood Angel
Justine Musk
ISBN: 0451460529, $6.99, 352 pp.

Painter Jessamy Shepard is having her first showing in a New York City art gallery and seven of her best pictures are of a fifteen-year-old boy that she never has seen; she believes she was inspired by her imagination. She is wrong as the boy in the painting does exist. He is the orphan Ramsey Doe who lives with his foster family in Dearmont, Minnesota. The time has come for both of them to know their destinies. Kai enters Jess's life quite abruptly and tells her how she is the descendant of one of the world's most powerful Summoners, beings who are the descendants of the mating between humans and angels. He is seven centuries old and has plenty of magic, the same kind that is locked within Jess that he will help her release so she can locate Ramsey who is hunted Bakat Akisa, an evil Summoner who escaped from prison after being locked away for five centuries. She wants revenge, she wants the world to burn and become a hell-world where she and the demons she lets loose will rule and she needs Ramsey to make that happen because hidden inside him is a being who can open the realms of the Dreamlines and let the demons come to earth. Kai and Jess intend to stop her or die trying . Justine Musk is a great new writer on the horror scene and will appeal to fans of Karen Koehler and Poppy Z. Brite. The characters, especially the Summoners, have an interesting perspective on life as they have walked the earth for centuries. The history and culture of the Summoners is also fascinating and even Akisa elicits reader sympathy having been a sex slave at one time. It is hoped that there will be future books featuring the Summoners.

William Dietz
ISBN: 0441013260, $24.95, 432 pp.

In the distant future humans have traveled throughout the star systems using interstellar portals, but over time the technology became lost. Antiquated ships deliver cargo and passengers between planets, but are slow and no major inter-galaxy travel exists anymore. Runner Jak Rebo delivers a package that he carried for two years to a customer's wealthy brother on planet Anafa, colonized over 10,000 years ago. Not long afterward, Brother Sua Qwa hires him to deliver a special golden child Tra Lee to the holy city of CaCanth on planet Thara where the lad will be proclaimed as the Norm Maa. Qwa warns the runner that a rival black hat sect has their own candidate and will try to assassinate the boy. Sensitive Lanni Norr reads individual energy fields that enable her to speak with the dead. During a performance, deceased scientist Milos Lysander using a metal man as his source tries to take over Lanni's body. She manages to escape, but has to flee. Lanni and Jak meet when separate people try to harm them; they unite while people chase after them and his cargo Tra Lee. Runner is an exciting thriller that sort of places Tibetan Buddhism in outer space at a time when civilization is imploding. The background comes alive as readers will believe they are at a time when earth is so distant a memory that the planet is considered by most as the mythos home world. Jak and Lanni are an interesting duo as they escort Tra Lee while another sect provides not only another heir contender, but attempts to kill the trio because they feel so strongly that they have the next Norma Maa. William Dietz is at his best with this strong science fiction tale.

The Vampyricon: The Priest of Blood
Douglas Clegg
ISBN: 0441013279, $19.00, 330 pp.

Aleric the Breton was born into poverty, but proves to the Baron's huntsman he can train all kinds of birds and moves into the manor. An older boy turns the huntsman against him making known that Aleric made love with the Baron's daughter in the church chapel. He is sent to the Holy Land to fight the Saracens as a servant-soldier. His brother, also fighting the infidels reunites with him but is soon killed. Aleric leaves the battle field heading for the city Hedammu inhabited by demons. In the city he is attacked by the vampire Pythyia who drains his blood each night for a month before changing him into a creature like her. He meets the other vampires of the city who believe he is their savior because he gave the Sacred Kiss to his friend and turned him into a vampire, which the others can't do. They want him to restore the powers that their ancestors had but to do that he must travel to the lost city of Alkemara. His journey, with five of his brethren, is successful but once in the lost city they face many dangers in their quest to restore to glory the vampire race. Douglas Clegg is a horror writer who knows how to tell a great story with characters that any reader can empathize with, even vampires who kill mortals. The protagonist is a product of the times and readers get a glimpse of Breton where the old ways has not been wiped out by Christianity. The vampires are not the typical creatures of the night but have weaknesses that make them vulnerable objects of pity. It will be hard to wait for the next book in this blood curdling series.

Perfect Killer
Lewis Perdue
ISBN: 0765301105, $25.95, 368 pp.

In Mississippi neurosurgeon Dr. Bradford Stone is stunned when an assassin kills Vanessa Thompson, the woman he has loved since they dated in high school. Unable to accept that her work as a former SEC chair or as an attorney would lead to a sniper killing her, and knowing what she said about a need to talk and also realizing someone wants him dead too, Brad flees. While on the run, the former marine recon officer Brad applies his military skills to learn about a seven decade old top secret military experiment Project Valor that would turn people into super killing soldiers and that his beloved was a victim of one of these chemically altered troops. Shocked, he discovers that the military is using the drug Xantaeus to geometrically increase the effectiveness of the war fighters while reducing costs; Vanessa was murdered for what she knew. Brad also realizes he is on a hit list because he knows that the Pentagon is planning massive dosages of this combat chemical ignoring deadly psychopathic side effects and that one enhanced vet is running for the White House with a strong possibility of victory; that candidate wants Brad dead now. PERFECT KILLER is a terrific thriller that feels as if the key ingredient, the military combat medicine experiments could happen. Adding to the feel of authenticity are a bibliography of real nonfiction books (supporting the overall premise) and four appendices that "substantiate" the medical experiments. Brad is a fabulous protagonist as he is on the run yet continues his efforts to learn the truth. Conspiratorial thriller fans will have a field day with Lewis Perdue's near perfect killer of a tale.

Gary Braver
ISBN: 0765302519, $25.95, 400 pp.

Thirty years ago his mother died when he was not quite two so restaurant owner Jack Koryan's aunt and uncle raised him. Still he commemorates his mom every few years by swimming off Homer's Island, Massachusetts where she drowned on the anniversary of her death. However, this time while swimming, Jack is stung by a bloom of jellyfish and falls into a coma though he has dreams. Three years later Jack awakens with an extraordinarily enhanced memory and to find research pharmacologist Rene Ballard wanting to test his reactions to the toxins that she feels will prove beneficial in combating Alzheimer's victims. However that incredible recall includes pleasant obscure childhood memories and seemingly repressed incidents of violence that frightens Jack. Rene informs him that her tests on people with Alzheimer's have had mixed results with folks recovering what they lost and more, but some individuals have reacted violently. Both wonder what is happening to him and others, but neither is prepared for what they will learn. The key to this strong medical thriller is the high degree of believability that something sinister is happening to Alzheimer's victims beyond just the devastation of the disease. The author pulls off this sense of authenticity through his brave lead couple who seems like genuine individuals, he being a soul struggling to regain control of his and she as a dedicated scientist. Gary Braver provides a fantastic tale worthy of award nominations as one of the sub-genre's best tales, if not the top medical thriller, so far this year.

Deadly Errors
Allen Wyler
ISBN: 0765313111, $24.95, 332 pp.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Tyler Matthews learns that his boss cheated Medicare so he reports it. Not long afterward DEA Agent Dillon searches his locker and finds drugs there. His lawyer Mary McGuire suggests he accepts the government's "kind" offer though he insists he is being framed over his whistle blowing; if he refuses he will lose in court and never practice medicine again. He has already lost his wife Nancy so he reluctantly agrees. Tyler obtains work at the Maynard Medical Center in Seattle where a computerized record keeping system is being tested that is expected to dramatically reduce the annual 44000 to 98000 medical errors. When his patient dies, Tyler conducts a root analysis that leads him to believe the record system is flawed and caused the death; he reports his findings. He is threatened with the end of his practice as millions are at stake based on a committee's findings of how well the database pe rformed. While other whistle-blowers have died and Nancy is threatened, the FBI, international terrorists, and members of the government-industrial health complex seek him. He trusts no one after San Francisco and with the Patriot Act, they able to bury him. This chiller is not for the faint of heart as readers will be stunned by the avarice antics of those who allegedly protect the public health. The story line is action-packed from the moment the DEA disillusioned Tyler and never slows down as the hero feels deja vu all over again. Interestingly weaving in real world stats such as the eighth most common deaths in America is medical mistakes Dr. Allen Wyler's debut is as tense a medical thriller as there is because the scary supporting stats are real. Six Sigma please.

Colliding Forces
Constance O'Day-Flannery
ISBN: 0765351021, $6.99

Thirty-six years old Philadelphia TV six o'clock newscaster Deborah Stark has never and will never allow her feelings especially that second hand emotion of love to get in the way of her career ambitions. Her latest lover Marcus Bocelli is perhaps more of a hunk than any of them and she admits she wants him as never before, but he remains like those before him, a temporary itch "scratcher". Deborah returns to her Hadley, New Jersey home when her aunt calls to tell her that her mother died. Marcus arrives shortly after allegedly to offer her solace. She appreciates the gesture but fears falling in love with him so she dives into a story that should dampen her lust. She has found that the company that owns her Philadelphia television station is corrupt and seemingly breaking the law; she plans to prove this and air her findings. However, Marcus has kept so me secrets from his beloved that he knows he must share with her if he wants anything permanent with his reluctant disbelieving beloved. The least is his ability to change physical shapes while the most is the agenda that sent him following her to Hadley. COLLIDING FORCES is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller that contains some supernatural elements, but for the most part those paranormal skills take a back seat to the love story between two reluctant warriors and to the corruption investigation. The story line is action-packed, but driven by doubting D. who questions the motives of the man she is falling in love with from the moment they connected at the wedding of the stars of SHIFTING LOVE (Marcus was a secondary character). Fans of supernatural romantic suspense will appreciate Constance O'Day-Flannery's fine tale.

Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe
James M. Ward
ISBN: 0765312530, $24.95, 288 pp.

The island country of Arcania is at war with Maleen, a kingdom that is rapidly absorbing every country it fights into its empire. One of their greatest weapons is the shapechanging monsters that can turn into any human form it wishes. The Arcanian navy is blocking the Maleen ships from entering their waters. Both sides harness sea dragons making the vessels stronger, faster, and more durable. Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe, who came into his magical powers at the age of sixteen unlike his relatives who developed at the age of twelve, is assigned to the dragonship the Sanguine where he learns battle strategy on both the mundane and magical levels. Because he is the seventh son of a seventh son his powers over air and earth are strong and he thinks he will one day be leading his own battle ship that is if he survives a court martial, a curse and an unknown enemy's desire to kill him; of course there is also the Maleen. The dragon that is part of the Sanguine is able to communicate with the hero one of the few humans he can talk to and he comes to care for him and helps him when possible. Magic is an everyday occurrence for the Arcanians and they use it in battle just as they would as artillery or a missile. This is a charming high fantasy book that will engage the Harry Potter crowd and those readers who like military fantasy.

The Stonehenge Gate
Jack Williamson
ISBN: 0765308975, $24.95, 320 pp.

The Four Horsemen (though one is a female) of Eastern New Mexico University English literature Will Stone, astrophysicist Derek Ironcraft, archeologist Lupe Vargas and linguist Ram enjoy their weekly poker game. However, instead of cards this time, Derek shows his colleagues ground penetration radar photos of under the Sahara that contains objects that look like huge gates. When Ram explains that his enigmatic loving grandma came from the area, the foursome agrees to go explore the gates though Will is reluctant and Lupe thinks they are loco. However at the entrance, a gigantic insect grabs Lupe and takes her inside the portal. The trio gives chase, but soon Derek is taken too. Will and Ram search for their friends, but soon are in a strange world divided by racial discord. To their shock, the natives believe Ram, with a special birthmark on him, is their god Anak, returned from the dead. Civil war over Ram breaks out and a deadly plague is released devastating all except those who released it as they are immune. Will and Ram escape through another gate to another planet, but remain in pursuit of Derek and Lupe and to learn m ore about the ancient geniuses who built the elevator like portals. The grandmaster of science fiction adventure provides an exciting action-packed thriller that never slows down from the moment the four professors give up poker for the expedition. The story line moves forward at a rapid rate hopping from one escapade to another, but by doing so at the speed of light the key cast is never fully developed except for one general trait each. Still fans of creative hyperspeed science fiction will want to be the fifth wheel on this invigorating trek.

The Dark Mirror
Juliet Marillier
ISBN: 0765309955, $27.95, 512 pp.

Young noble Bridei resides with powerful druid Broichan, who seems to be training the lad for some unknown intention that he fails to explain. Broichan treats the lad reasonably well and has earned Bridei's trust though the youngster would like to more about his past before coming here because he has no memory of it and he wonders what the Druid's plans are for him. On Midwinter Eve Bridei finds an abandoned infant on their doorstep. Since the baby apparently comes from the fairie realm, Broichan wants to kill it as any trafficking with the wee folks, even with good intentions, usually mean trouble. Bridei persuades Broichan to let the child live with them. Over the years the wild child Tuala becomes a beautiful woman, who the studious Bridei desires, but Broichan fears she will prove to be the doom of his apprentice slated to one day unite the divided land under the one king. THE DARK MIRROR is a deep pre-Celtic Scottish romantic fantasy. The cast is wonderful as opposites Tuala and Bridei fall in love while his mentor fears their relationship will lead to tragedy for his student and catastrophe for the people waiting for the one king to surface. This spellbinding tale is filled with strong characterizations and vivid descriptions of the era interwoven within a story line that contains plenty of action and can stand alone though trouble seems on the horizon in the next Bridei Chronicle for the hero and his beloved.

The Eternity Artifact
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
ISBN: 0765314649, $25.95, 354 pp.

It has been five millennia since mankind has colonized planets all over the galaxy. Three main power groups control various worlds. The Comity has a humanistic worldview; The Covenanters are a Christian sect who believes that the Comity and the Sunnite Alliance (Muslims) are heretics who don't believe in God but in themselves or a different deity; the Sunnite Alliance are the mirror image of the Covenanters. It is because of these divisions and previous armed conflicts that Comity doesn't tell anyone about the journey they are making to a sunless world named Danann. It is racing through the universe at an unheard of speed, a perfectly formed world with only one city on it preserved by the frozen ice that encrusts the planet. In a few years it will go where humanity cannot travel so an expedition is mounted to explore the world, looking for technology, artifacts and a hunt for what kind of aliens created such a world since humans have yet to encounter other intelligent life. Spies on board the ship and an attack by Sunnite warships try to prevent the Comity from bringing back what is on Danann, either because they want it or they believe it is a product of Satan and will usher in Armageddon. Readers who like great space opera will find THE ETERNITY ARTIFACT a fantastic reading experience. The characters are well developed and their motivations are understandable to the audience. It is fascinating to watch the various members of the expedition explore an alien made world and interpolate theories from what they find there (mindful of the cult classic movie Fillard Millmore). Mr. Modesitt has written an exciting work that contends that political and religious differences that exist today will remain as dogmatic as ever in the future regardless of technology.

Pet Peeve
Piers Anthony
ISBN: 0765304082, $24.95, 336 pp.

When the cursed to be polite and act nice Goody Goblin asked the Good Magician Humfrey to help him get rid of the "Finger", the mage simply takes the objectionable object away. However, being a goody, the Goblin feels he owes Humfrey. She is willing to oblige the Good Magician when he assigns her to deliver the parody. Goody Goblin and his assigned bodyguard the warrior Hannah Barbarian set off on a joint quest to locate a "suitable home" for the hostile foul-mouthed Pet Peeve. The foul fowl is a nasty creature that insults everyone and anything that has the misfortune of being nearby. That would not be so bad to the monster's current carriers except that Pet Peeve exactly imitates the voice of the dummy carrying it. Thus the insulted hold Goody responsible and when that upset individual is a fire exhaling dragon one tend to feel the heat. Whereas Sue Grafton has reached R, Xanth is into the alphabet for the second time with PET PEEVE being the twenty-ninth fantasy parody. The story line contains the usual assortment of puns, adventures and more puns. This time the parody comes from the skills of the Don Rickles of birds as readers will appreciate the insults using the voice of the poor soul (that is if a goblin has a soul) stuck toting it so that anyone else in the area will think the carrier insulted them. Fans of the long running series will appreciate the latest lighthearted Xanthian quest that answers "what is ultimate reality?"

Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Cherie Priest
ISBN: 0765313081, $13.95, 288 pp.

Eden Moore lives on Signal Mountain overlooking Chattanooga raised by her maternal family especially Aunt Louise since her mom died in childbirth. She sees ghosts especially three spirits who are always there for her. Eden knows the trio is her mom and her aunts. These deceased sisters struggle to keep the child safe initially from a God fearing killer who wants her dead before she can follow the path of her evil wicked great-grandfather; a necromancer and mage who cursed the living and enlivened the dead. The threesome knows that something even more dangerous is coming for Louise and then Eden. They try to reach out to Eden to warn her, but she fails to fully comprehend what her mom and aunts want her to know. Eden realizes she must confront something very evil without the aid of her belov ed Aunt Louise or Uncle Dave. Thus she slips away heading to a family mansion and other Antebellum ruins in Georgia seeking what she does not know only that she must find this unknown to save what is left of her family. Besides making believers out of readers that ghosts do exist, the key to this enchanting horror tale is that the readers never know what to expect next yet when that subsequent event happens it seems very obvious. The cast is terrific especially the preadolescent heroine who holds the thriller together. Contrasting the mortal heroine and otherworldly guardians to the assassin and the malevolence add depth to a must read journey of adventure. Readers will enjoy traveling into a world filled with nineteenth century supernatural curses trying to destroy twenty-first century offspring.

What Angels Fear
C.S. Harris
ISBN: 0451216695, $23.95, 352 pp.

In 1811 London, Rachel York believes she has found sanctuary in the fourteenth century constructed Lady Chapel of the 800 years old St. Matthew of Field. However, she soon learns her mistake as an assailant brutally rapes and murder her on alter steps. Amidst the bloody body is found a fancy dueling pistol that belongs to Viscount Sebastian St. Cyr, who suffers from combat fatigue. He is not just the prime suspect, he is the only one. Knowing only he wants to prove his innocence and expose the person who framed him, he flees into the night before he can sent to Newgate. He begins making inquires with the help of people he would never have met before going on the lam and from someone from his past, but the proof he slowly accumulates points to the fact that Rachel is more than just a victim and all leads end with an unknown untouchable with regal connections. WHAT ANGELS FEAR is a fantastic action-packed Regency amateur sleuth tale that starts at a frenzied pace and never slows down until the climax; yet in spite of the daring deeds of the hero and dastardly deeds of the villain, Sebastian is a fully developed character. Readers will understand the problems he confronts from his war experience and his previously broken heart, but appreciate his antics starting with a duel in which he shoots his cheating opponent in the arse as he sets out to prove his innocence while others want him incarcerated or dead. This strong historical who-done-it stars a likable protagonist.

Judith Gould
ISBN: 045121661X, $23.95, 320 pp.

In Albany, New York hair colorist Crissy Fitzgerald feels lonely and tired. Her friend Jenny persuades her to come with her to the Nine One One Club where she meets Tom Gentry. Out of character for her, they go back to her flat where they make love. As she dreams of love, he wants nothing further to do with her. Jenny persuades Crissy to take a month off to tour Greece and leisurely come home on the trans-Atlantic cruise ship Sea Nymph. The ship is the jewel of Vilos Shipping Lines, whose owner Georgios Vilas is nearly bankrupt and trying a desperate final game plan to save the firm at all costs. Meanwhile on board she meets handsome Georgios' son Mark and ship Dr. Luca di Salerno, who both vie for her attention. As she falls in love with Luca, Mark tries to takes matters into his own hands while Jenny is jealous although she has caught a septuagenarian fiance. Even though Jenny is obviously a me-me only self-centered soul from the start, her reactions to her friend turning into a beautiful butterfly that initially comes across as competitive rivalry becomes overdone once she decided to marry the septuagenarian for money. Still Crissy makes this a strong romantic suspense as she wonders about the trunk brought on board by the handsome Mark. He, in turn, has spent his life as a hedonist, so when he wants her, he tries to rape her even after she rejects him for Luca. Fans of romantic suspense will enjoy this deep terrorist dramatic backdrop, but Crissy keeps the tale sailing smooth.

The Last Heiress
Bertrice Small
ISBN: 045121692X, $14.00

During the reign of Henry VIII, at fourteen Elizabeth Meredith inherited Friarsgate when her mother and older middle sister married and moved onto their respective spouses' estate and her oldest sibling and her husband chose the king's court. Eight years later she remains independent running her estate until her mother informs her she must marry so that an heir can inherit Friarsgate. Her beloved sixty years old Uncle Thomas agrees to escort the feisty landowner to court. However, before they leave for London, Baen MacColl comes from Scotland at the behest of his father to discus a sheep deal. As the two die in the wool anti-marital soul mates fall in love, Elizabeth chaperoned by her uncle travels to the king's court. There she befriends the beleaguered queen while Henry VIII begins his campaign to replace his wife Katherine with Anne. The key to this battle between two independent obstinate loving combatants is the background that incorporates Henry's antics as he sets in motion his plan to remove Katherine of Aragon as queen and replace her with Anne Boleyn. Bertrice Small cleverly uses the monumental sixteenth century events to tell her story of love yet in some ways the shadow overwhelms the lead characters. Fans of historical romance with strong doses of both will enjoy the latest Meredith tale (see UNTIL YOU AND PHILIPPA).

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Wolf Point
Edward Falco
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Blvd #195, Lakewood CO 80214
ISBN: 1932961089, $23.95, 240 pages

The release of two Edward Falco books in one year is an unexpected treat. As in his book of short stories before it, Falco focuses on human dysfunctions and vulerabilities in Wolf Point. Prose that is sometimes shocking, insightful and incisive is Falco's trademark.

Tom Walker, known as T to his friends, is traveling from his home in Virginia to Upstate New York. Despite his wealth and business success, T's life is a shambles. Walker lost his family and reputation unexpectedly. This trip to a place he was once happy is a frantic effort to regain peace and focus. He's empty, emotionally isolated, and hoping a return to old haunts near Wolf Point will help him feel alive again. Well, be careful what you hope for, T, because you just might get it!

Hitching a ride north is the type of blonde few men could pass by, no matter how many warning bells go off in their heads. Jenny Cross is curvaceous, oozing sexuality. Hitching with her is Lester, a macho tough guy carrying a guitar case. From the moment Jenny slides into the seat beside T, she plays the sweet seductress, a purring nubile kitten. Lester, on the other hand, has a troubling, threatening edge. T mentally prepares for trouble sooner or later in their journey.

The games begin immediately and accelerate once T, Jenny, and Lester reach a cabin at Wolf Point. Plans to rob T and steal his SUV are put on temporary hold when Jenny and Lester decide their benefactor might give them $60,000 if they play him right. Jenny shares Lester's story during quiet times cuddling with T, who's more than twice her age. Lester tells him Jenny's story while fishing, leaving T to sort the truth from fiction. T knows instinctively that lives are in the balance, but will it be his or theirs?

The tale is told suspensefully through characters whose dysfunctions are handled sympathetically by a gifted wordsmith. Wolf Point is quintessential Falco as he skillfully reveals the darker twists and frailties of human nature.

Angel and Apostle
Deborah Noyes
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Blvd. #195, Lakewood CO 80214
ISBN: 1952961100, $24.95 304 pages

Unbridled Books promises that rarest of pleasures, a good read. Their promise is brilliantly fulfilled in Angel and Apostle. Ms. Noyes' short fiction and reviews have appeared in many well known publications but this is her first novel. This debut novel is memorable, to say the least.

At the end of Nathaniel Hawthorne's timeless novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne's daughter Pearl has been born, raised, and lives in Europe. Angel and Apostle begins when Pearl is a child in Massachusetts and follows her life through adulthood. Ms. Noyes weaves an enthralling account of what Pearl's life might have been in the mid-to-late 17th century. The character and plot development are first rate as Noyes captures the true essence of Pearl's personality, life, and times.

Life has been difficult for Pearl and her outcast mother. Townfolk shun the dignified adulterous woman who wears the letter "A" over her heart like a badge of courage. These same merciless Puritans call Pearl "the devil's spawn." Their only kindness and support comes from a frail, gentle hearted minister. Pearl is a precocious child blessed with a vivid imagination and her father's restless spirit. She loves the forests and seashore, the wild animals, and spends her days exploring the area around her cottage. One day she ventures near the home of a wealthy shipping family, the Miltons, and meets their youngest son, Simon. Simon is blind. His older brother, Nehemiah, loves Simon but has always considered him a burden. Reluctantly, he allows Pearl to introduce Simon to the natural world she loves. The relationship between Pearl and the Miltons grows over time, and in the process changes the lives of everyone around them.

With quietly savage prose, Deborah Noyes takes Pearl to adulthood, marriage, motherhood. We experience her life in America and England, the blossoming of love, and the heartbreak borne of passion and loss. Readers smell the sea, the bite of chill air, and live the very heartbeats of each character. This book is a literary classic and highly recommended.

The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God
Timothy Schaffert
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
ISBN: 1932961127, $14.95 256 pages

Timothy Schaffert's first book won the Nebraska Book Award in 2003 and charmed major reviewers. This second book is surely destined for a similar response. Schaffert's style is purely his own. His characters are earthy and real, common folk with endearing foibles and vulnerabilities. Schaffert breathes life into his characters with a delicate touch, lending a poignant dignity to even the oddest misfit. The result is life boiled down to its heartiest essence.

Hud Smith is a less-than-successful man who writes mournful country songs and drinks more than he should. Since his divorce, he lives above the shoe repair shop on the square in a fading Nebraska town. Hud struggles to maintain a relationship with his ex-wife Tuesday and dreams of romantic reconciliations. He feeds those dreams with memories of life before the breakup, trying to reprise the ingredients that made their odd pairing work: nights out at the drive in movie dressed as their favorite leading man and lady; waiting to be discovered by the likes of Sam Shepard or Lisa Marie Presley; rainy Sundays spent lazing about their dilapidated house while he croons their favorite songs. Every dream he ever had has fallen through, but despite his dreary life, Hud faces every day with hope and humor. He plays piano and sings at a nearby Ramada, fending off lonely women who find his music appealing, living for the day his family will be restored.

Tuesday dislikes her rundown house and admits that her mothering skills are somewhat lacking. She fantasizes about their old friend Ozzie, a widower with rough creative fingers and raw masculinity. But just as often she remembers life with Hud and leans towards reconciliation. Tuesday barely has the energy and drive to supervise their eight year old daughter, Nina, let alone initiate an affair.

Nina is an irrepressible child who sings off key and makes up graceless dance steps. Whatever Nina does, Hud finds adorable and brilliant. He adores his assertive daughter and imagines stealing her away from Tuesday to keep her with him all the time. Their seventeen year old son Gatling has run away from home to play guitar and sing backup with The Daughters of God, an iconic Christian rock group. Nina is all Hud and Tuesday have left to remind them of a marriage that once brought joy. All three dream of having Gatling back home where he belongs and set off in a borrowed schoolbus to find him.

Circulating around this mismatched threesome are an equally strange mix of friends, neighbors, and churchgoers who speak their own dark language. Schaffert makes the characters and story work, because he is a gifted wordsmith. The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God is often humorous, yes, but thanks to Schaffert's story telling style it is not a cruel parody of life's rejects. These are lives made up of large and small failures, joys, and negotiations. And Schaffert makes them shine. Highly recommended.

A Touch of Class
Independent Label
P.O. Box 131, Fillmore, NY 14735
ASIN -- B000A7S2XU 12 tracks $11.99 CD

My personal belief is that excellence should be rewarded. Navar's third CD is beyond excellent. Publicly they've been wowing audiences on the east coast for several years now. Privately they've been honing their craft, transforming raw talent into musical nirvana, gaining confidence and power. Touch of Class features 12 solid tracks and each song is memorable in its own way. Brothers Patrick and Ben Barry are the gifted driving force behind Navar. They write the lyrics and music -- except for "Dreams", written by Mike Yudichak -- and hold creative control. This CD was recorded, engineered, edited, mixed, and produced by Patrick Barry at Navar's independent studio in Belmont NY. Patrick Barry is lead vocalist; Ben Barry back up vocalist and bass guitarist; Tim Lindhome drummer and back up vocalist; and Mike Yudichak guitarist and back up vocalist.

There are no weak tracks on this CD. The lyrics are powerful and charismatic, backed by exceptional musicians and arrangements. I've chosen several tracks for comment to demonstrate Navar's musical range, but every single song is choice.

"Coming for You" immediately introduces Patrick's sultry, passionate vocal style, accompanied by the absolutely kick-ass rock instrumentals that are a Navar trademark and made them the darling of east coast fans. "American Romantic" is a tender love song featuring a near-perfect blending of Patrick's voice and those of back up vocalists. "Raining" is pulsating, the sort of song fans memorize and sing along with, and would be the perfect theme for an erotic movie. "Make it to Forever" has a folk music sound, featuring stand out lyrics with a tantalizing Navar twist.
"Touch of Class" is a Dylanesque anthem with an outlaw sound, and is the Barry's testament to their grandparents. Father Tom Barry provides back up vocals.

"Please God Change" is the powerful and devastating story of a drug addicted friend. "I don't want to find you dead on the floor, please God change." If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to choose a favorite track, this would be it. The combined impact of Barry's vocals and Navar's instrumentals broke my heart.

"Dreams", written by Mike Yudichak, is poetically and beautifully rendered. "The dreams I am dreaming are larger than me." To that I say, keep dreaming Navar. If any group deserves to realize their dreams, it's you.

Navar is maturing with each CD and Patrick Barry's vocal range and control on lead are phenomenal. Lyrics are clearly understandable and not overtaken by the instrumentals. This alternative rock / Indie band stands out from the pack. A Touch of Class is highly recommended.

Steven Shrewsbury
Behler Publications, LLC
22365 El Toro Rd. #135, Lake Forest CA 92630
ISBN: 1933016108, $15.95 262 pages

Steven Shrewsbury is a science fiction / fantasy writer whose fan base is rapidly growing. The reason for his popularity is clear in Godforsaken: Shrewsbury is an accomplished storyteller with a gift for story and character development.

The story begins in 59 AD on the Isle of Anglesey. The Roman Empire is at its zenith in the quest to conquer all the known world. In Britannia they face powerful druids and Celtic warriors who battle savagely against the Romans to protect their homeland. No warrior is more savage than Lucan MacAliester. The massive Celt leads his men without fear into a losing fight against soldiers superior in number but not in courage or skill. When Lucan prays to the Goddess Fey for life, she hears and answers. Lucan is captured alive by the Roman legions and taken to Rome as a combatant in their arena. During the long trek by land and sea to Rome, Fey visits Lucan in human female form providing comfort, encouragement, and gifts that will increase his abilities as warrior. Fey has a hidden agenda, one that will change the Celtic leader's life forever.

From his homeland to the underworld to Rome, and later Asia Minor, Lucan struggles to survive. His skill in battle and white-blonde hair enthrall the blood thirsty Romans as he fights to the death of each opponent in their arena. His manly form is battered and torn, which only makes him more appealing to goddesses and earthly females. Fey has blessed him with abilities beyond those of other humans. Lucan commands wolves to battle at his side, and sees through the eyes of ravens. His abilities are godlike and not even the gods of the underworld can stand against him. An unknown purpose guides him. Adding to Lucan's mystique is his association with Paul of Tarsus, a Christian whose wisdom and strength are beyond those of a warrior. The Christian characters they meet impress the pagan Celts with their courage and add immeasurable depths to Lucan's life.

Shrewsbury weaves a rousing tale here. The battles are realistic and gory. Lucan is powerful character, an uncommon man who ultimately becomes a god and leader of his people. The plotting is masterful and endlessly exciting. Steven Shrewsbury is just simply a talented storyteller. If you haven't read his work, I suggest you start with this one. Be warned, Godforsaken has realistic violence and sexual content.

Star Struck
Pamela Anderson
Atria Books
A trademark of Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN: 0743492838, $24.00 208 pages

This second fiction novel in the Star Wood Leigh series takes a serious turn and leads readers further into the Hollywood scene. Being an A-list star is not the glorious life we common folk believe it to be and Ms. Anderson makes that point extremely well. This is more than simply a gossipy pot boiler in my opinion. It's an important life lesson and commentary that clearly demonstrates the old adage, "All that glitters is not gold."

When Star wakes up in a totally trashed luxury Cabo hotel room wearing nothing but Gucci boots and a huge diamond ring, holding a Colt .45 in her hand, she knows serious trouble awaits. She can't remember anything about the days preceding that moment. Tied up in her bed is Jimi Deed -- world class rock star, amazing tech geek, and prodigious lover. Jimi tells her they were married following a marathon drinking spree and love fest enhanced by the drug Ecstasy. Star is shocked. Despite her fame, Star has avoided the drug scene and wild bad boy lovers like Jimi. Her center amidst Hollywood's chaos has always been the ability to draw a personal line and remain firmly behind it. At heart she's vulnerable, a rather endearing waif despite her drop dead gorgeous face and figure. And Star is smart, too smart to hook up with a man whose reputation is so publicly unsavory.

From Cabo to Cannes, Star and Jimi live the high life fueled by money, sex,and drugs. Through each turn of plot, their love for and devotion to each other is clear. Jimi has more depth of character than she expected, and Star very quickly becomes more than just another conquest to him. The paparazzi hound them 24/7. They have no privacy, no tender unguarded moments. Their solution to the paparazzi problem is rash, and takes Star to a dark side of fame that she can't escape. And one of the few people in this world she trusted -- her brother -- sells her out for money.

Star Struck is about beautiful people forced to live in Hollywood's twisted world. Star is too beautiful, too successful, too rich, too vulnerable, too everything and loses her perspective. Critics who panned this book must have missed the author's message: money can't buy everything and beauty coupled with fame can destroy lives.

This book contains strong language, sex and violence.

The Art of the Table
Suzanne von Drachenfels
Simon and Schuster
Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN: 0684847329, $40.00 592 pages

Since the dawn of man, sharing food has symbolized love, peace, friendship, generosity, and safety. Today, deliciously prepared food shared at table continues to be a comforting social occasion around the world. In America, however, the pleasing nuances of dining have faltered. Busy lives, crowded with perceived tasks and responsibilities, have turned our meals into a rushed process. That's where Ms. von Drachenfels comes in. Gently and sensibly, she explains the purpose of formal and informal dining and guides her readers towards a satisfying dining experience. If this book is not considered THE ultimate informative guidebook on the subject, it should be.

The majority of Americans do not observe the strict protocol of formal dining but everyone will benefit from the information found here. A well laid table says "welcome" to both family members and guests. Setting a pleasant informal table, serving food graciously, and enjoying mealtimes are all covered here. Readers will learn how to choose and properly care for dinnerware, flatware, and glassware. Menu planning and table manners are also discussed in thorough and helpful ways. Whether you want to enhance a simple family meal, plan a buffet luncheon, or entertain royalty, von Drachenfels outlines each contingency step by step. Formal and informal dining in American and Continental style are thoroughly explained in easy-to- understand terms with simple pictures to accompany each topic. If you ever wondered what all the forks were for, or worried over proper placement of soiled napkins, you'll find those answers here.

The Art of the Table is much more than simply helpful and informative. The author includes a fascinating history of eating utensils, serving ware, glassware, tea, wine, and coffee. And in the center of the book are full color pictures of both formal and informal table settings. In essence, this book is like the dining experience von Drachenfels extols -- a memorable experience. It would be the ideal gift for brides, and is a must have for anyone wishing to learn more about The Art of the Table.

Straight Astray
Alessio Zanelli
Troubador Publishing Ltd.
9 DeMontfort Mews, Leicester, LE1 7FW, UK
ISBN: 1905237170, $15.00 US, E12, and UK 7.99 104 pages

With each poetry collection published, Zanelli gains respect and recognition from his peers while pleasing fans eager for his latest work. Zanelli is an Italian poet and world traveler who creates in English, an amazing feat in itself. His command of the English language is impressive. The haunting cover of Straight Astray reveals another creative gift -- an oil painting by the author titled "The Night Doesn't Sleep."

In the Foreword, New Mexico writer / editor / astronomer David Lee Summers states that Zanelli "…is a citizen of the world and regards himself as a minute grain adrift in the immensity of an unaccountable universe." That is a succinct description of the poetic subjects in Straight Astray. We accompany the poet as he revisits idyllic or bittersweet chapters in his past. Through his eyes we see the quiet beauty of his homeland. And we soar with his imagination through the farthest reaches of our Universe, as in "Closed Circle":

Off the remotest stars,
Far beyond the barriers of space,
Way past the spheres confining obscurity,
There where time is perpetually guiltlessly late
And there's no admittance whatsoever to imperfection -

In "Catharsis" we experience Europe as if it were a living being. This poem is best experienced in its entirety, but I've chosen the beginning lines as a tempting hint of Zanelli's poetic power and intensity:

I - still a boy - first saw the eagle, one
of time's sly watchers, describing circles
above the spurs of Monte Disgrazia, as
the sky was shouting aloud and its savage
blue was violently blending with the unreal
white of glaciers…..

"River Witches" is imaginative as the poet takes us to a place where "VanGogh would have set his easel". I chose the beginning lines as a fitting excerpt:

There beyond the main embankment,
Where silence makes itself heard
And the rook's caw suddenly bursts out
Like a crash of crumbling crystal,
There toward where inert, exhausted
Adda flows to perish into sluggish Po -
Old witches are said to have their home,
So old and crafty that the river-wind
Isn't able to catch sight of them
In the thick of riverside vegetation
Nor in the adjacent fields of Indian corn.

This excerpt from "Rejoinees" speaks poignantly of childhood friendships lost to time:

I wish we could retrieve a bit of that
of us we have discarded through the past,
resume some common habits, drink a toast
on what we were, we are, we'll be. Just talk
forgive each other's having walked apart -

"The Rush to Human Excellence" is a stunning commentary on mankind from its beginnings to the present:

…one trait is always handed down
unchanged: the thunderous call for victims.
…such is the unpreventable
cost of human progress. To each culture its
kinds of slavery, its horrors, its apartheids,
its pogroms, as to the extent of which our
space age really shines unprecedented.

One American critic says Zanelli is an original, one of a kind. That originality is attained through imprinting each thought and every poem with his essence. It seems appropriate to quote the poet's self-description, found imbedded in "Lone Spider":

These words are my atoms and stars,
these marks - my links and radiations.

Straight Astray is highly recommended.

Secrets of the Widow's Son
David A. Shugarts
Sterling Publishing
387 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 1402728190, $17.95 201 pages

David Shugarts is an investigative journalist whose curious mind was tantalized by Dan Brown's mega best seller, The DaVinci Code. Rumors confirmed by Dan Brown that he is working on a sequel fired Shugarts' imagination. He began a systematic search for Brown's next title based on cryptic messages imbedded in The DaVinci Code. A foreword by Dan Burstein, editor of best selling Secrets of the Code, sets the tone for Shugarts' findings.

Let me state straight off that I have not read The DaVinci Code. But even if Secrets of The Widow's Son were not a commentary on Dan Brown's writings it would be interesting to contemplate. Shugarts spans history and geography to deliver information we did not learn in school. The clues unearthed in his investigation reveal mysteries that have been hidden in plain sight since the founding of America. Our founding fathers -- American icons that every school child recognizes -- played integral parts in these mysteries.

Shugarts' premise is that there are conspiracies in everything,
interconnected in cryptic and surprising ways. These conspiracies were
carried forward from ancient times and continue in America today.
Washington DC, in particular, houses secret crypts, symbols, and cyphers.
Our nation's capitol is a hotbed of Egyption obelisks, Masonic symbols, and
disguised references to Knights Templar, Jesuits, and the Illuminati. The
appendices were intriguing so be sure to read them.

Who is or was the widow's son? And why is this a continuing thread throughout the book? Shugarts' revelations are thought provoking and I've barely scratched the surface of his findings in this review. This well- written book leans towards the scholarly but is never dry or boring. Perhaps you'll find the "key" to Dan Brown's next book here. Even if you don't, and if Dan Brown surprises Shugarts and his fans, this book is well worth reading.

Nancy Mehl
Zumaya Publications
3209 S. IH 35, #1086, Austin, TX 78741-6905
ISBN: 1554102804, $14.99 276 pages

Readers who love a deliciously scary mystery MUST read Malevolence. This is not Nancy Mehl's first book, but it's the scariest so far. The shivers set in with her hair raising cover, intensified with the Prologue, and did not stop until the last page. A fast moving plot drew me in from the first word and Mehl's appealing characters gave life to this well-written mystery.

Isabel Curtis -- known as Icy since childhood -- is floundering in unfamiliar surroundings after the murder of her husband, David. A move from Chicago to Wichita, Kansas with her son Danny is not working out well for either of them. Danny is unhappy in school, adjusting poorly and missing his Chicago friends. Widowhood is still a numbing shock to Icy. Her one distraction is volunteering at a shelter for battered women. The shelter owner, Helen Brimmer, is a kind, compassionate woman, friend and mentor to Icy. The nightmare begins when Icy finds Helen dead, horribly murdered in her home. Written on the wall in blood above Helen's head is scrawled one word: Malevolence.

Icy and Danny are not totally lacking in support. Icy's mother lives in Wichita, and following Helen's murder they meet Det. Milt Barbarino. Milt's concern for Icy and her son goes beyond professional when a second body turns up, then a third. He fears for their lives. A creeping, unseen evil has followed Icy to Wichita and won't rest until she's dead. Milt joins forces with Pastor Lucas Pembroke in an effort to understand and combat the spiritual and corporeal demon that threatens Icy. The clues are hidden in her past and continue to haunt her present in the form of frightening dreams. Despite her vulnerability and fear, Icy is courageous and intelligent. Milt is a devoted and powerful ally. Together they take on a demonic predator living in familiar and trusted human form. The predator could be anyone.

Malevolence is a dandy chiller-thriller-mystery. The plot and characters are plus perfect. As writer, Nancy Mehl is first rate. Malevolence is the first in her Icy Curtis series. I hope the second book will soon follow.....while the chilling effect of Malevolence is still fresh in my mind. For readers who love chilling mysteries, this book is highly recommended.

The Wandering Hermit Review: An International Journal of Art and Literature
Issue #1 -- Summer/Fall 2005
Editor Steve Potter
Wandering Hermit Productions
317 Harvard Ave. E. #B, Seattle WA 98102
ISSN 1555-1490, $10 per issue, 147 pages

Early press releases about The Wandering Hermit Review led me to expect a journal loaded with talented writers and artists. I wasn't disappointed. The Editor-in-Chief, Steve Potter, had promised a journal featuring the work of new and established names from around the world and he delivered. This digest size, perfect bound journal arrived in my mailbox with a full color cover, featuring 65 artists and poets of all ages and every walk of life.

Tributes in poetry and prose to Robert Creeley and Philip Lamantia begin the Wandering Hermit experience. These two literary icons were peers; both died in 2005. Following these tributes, the journal content is divided into three other segments: "Of Death &..."; "...The Garden"; and "Reviews." It took me more than a week to read and absorb the journal content, it was that good.

I started with visual arts scattered throughout the journal, simply because the concept intrigued me. Featured were a print reminiscent of an old tintype by Fernando Aguiar; three breathtaking portraits painted by Suzanne Brooker; and a cryptic photograph by Alan Sondheim. Poetry includes examples of bilingual translations, avant garde, free verse, metaphysical, allegorical, phantasmagorical, modern sonnets, pantoums, and more. Featured prose ranges from poetic to triumphant or humorous. With more than sixty writers and poets contributing, it's an impossible task to comment on each one as they deserve. I'm certain readers will find the work of established literary names along with undiscovered gems in this edition and those that follow.

Subscribing to every literary journal available is impractical. If this first edition is any indication, The Wandering Hermit Review would be a wise choice because of the excellent and varied content. This journal is highly recommended.

The Portable Potts
Charles Potts
West End Press
PO Box 37334, Albuquerque NM 87125
ISBN: 0975348639, $19.95 383 pages

The exceptional voice of Charles Potts exploded onto the poetry scene in Berkeley in 1968 and has remained a force of truth throughout the following decades. Potts' prophetic voice cries for lost, broken, disinherited people everywhere through his lyrical, powerful poetry. And his prose gives words to thoughts many befuddled citizens have suspected but could not articulate with any certainty. According to admiring critics, although Charles Potts has been extensively published he is grossly under-recognized. I hope this latest book corrects that oversight. Potts is deserving of every word of praise received from 1968 to the present day.

The Portable Potts is divided roughly into decades and special topics of interest. The Sixties were noteworthy for poetry and prose written in Berkeley while Potts battled ill health and schizophrenia. Despite his mental unraveling, Potts focused on the words that drove him, as in this brief excerpt from the long poem "Uproar":

…and who am I to worry
for the death of everything
when I can't even keep
all my other selves in place
much less the one that
writes and he who reads
and him whose chief desire
had the day off
and didn't come to see me yet…

Readers too young to remember the turbulent Sixties need to read Potts' early memoir "Valga Krusa." Despite the rambling style, his voice resonates clearly above the din that was his fractured mind at the time. Jail time for marijuana use, travels in Mexico and experiences with friends and lovers give readers an unsettling view of the milieu that fed Potts' creativity, and his mental breakdown. It's a timeless chronicle that educates and enlightens with stark honesty.

In the Seventies, Potts is still struggling through a maze created by his earlier schizophrenia, but his work is visionary, clearly focused. He admits in "The Golden Calf":

I go on sheer nerve
Hear tiny nerve cells burning out

His interest in politics and war takes on a definite edge, which he expresses with anger tempered with humor, as in this excerpt from "Why I Live in Salt Lake City":

I kept looking at the holes in the Captain's sock
And the little patches where his hair had come out
As he told me stiffly that they didn't want me
In the Air Force
Oh shit
There went my last chance
To bomb my way into office

"La Maudite Riviere Enragee" (refers to the Upper Snake River in Idaho) is beautifully and thoughtfully written. Potts is healing himself here, searching for renewal. For example I chose this excerpt:

Little difference will it make
Which if any of the false
Sirens I expose or follow.

When the bloom is on the sage
And the mountain bluebirds fly
Through my garden on the floor
Of old Lake Bonneville
My heart goes over Red
Rock Pass.

River of exaggerated violence
I navigate you badly
But in my dreams
I'm coming home to stay.

His work in the Eighties demonstrates anger somewhat softened by love. Potts is quieter, maybe exhausted, but not resigned to the status quo and far from losing his bite. In "Autumn in Alta" he contemplates within Nature's framework a one time lover who's moved on to someone else:

Come then with me on the right weekend
In Autumn to Alta when the wildflowers
Bloom like points of light in a painter's dream
As they bend and sway in the Wasatch breeze.

In "A Marijuana Poem" he explains an entire generation's distrust of government schemes:

We turned to drugs to see what else they might be
lying about. We turned our backs on their project and
they remained turned on that project because it was and is a
shambles. The revisionist history is no closer to the
truth now than it was twenty years ago when they were
making it up as they went along.

And in "The State of Nature" he bares his claws and speaks his mind:

I am living proof of the Platonic Principle
That poets should not be permitted in The Republic.
Republicans, who confuse their fly fishing trips
With the evil art of destroying the environment while
Pretending to protect it, should not be permitted in nature.

Through the Nineties to the present, in poetry and prose, Potts grieves over our country's squandered assets and natural resources, lost to war and greed. He ruthlessly dissects the bombast fed to citizens through the media, sweeps away political smoke screens to reveal the underlying hypocrisy, and creates awesome paeans to the natural world he loves. When politicians declare war on despots because of ethnic cleansing, Potts reminds us all that the U.S.A. is a continental monument to ethnic cleansing. We accomplished our cleansing as violently as any country you can name, and did it in the guise of "manifest destiny." He reminds us that Separation of Church and State is a political smoke screen because they have been powerful bedfellows since before the Revolutionary War. And he provides a fascinating history of Texas that none of us will ever hear in school. Then, amidst the hard-edged essays and commentaries he shares his frailty and grief in "Wild Horse", written when his wife Ann died:

There's frost on the grass
In Wild Horse this morning.
I love you Annie always.
Here among the grasses and the trees
You'll become part of
The life force of Wild Horse
My sweet baby
My beautiful innocent wife
Gone forever
But still here inside me
In my crying arms and bones.

If anything deserves to be called a "tour de force", this book does. Regardless of which decade you consider from the Sixties until today, Charles Potts' work is exemplary. Two lines from the poem "For Edward" describes his writing perfectly:

The heart of the matter
Phrased with personal feelings.

The Portable Potts is highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Murder in the Monashees
Roy Innes
NeWest Press
201-8540 109 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, CAN T6G 1E6
ISBN: 1896300898, $10.95 CAN/$7.95 U.S.

Roy Innes is a native of British Columbia, where he grew up and attended the University of British Columbia. He worked in Vancouver as a medical doctor and retired in Gabriola Island, where he "reads and writes to his heart's content." He also enjoys hunting and hiking.

RCMP Corporal Paul Blakemore spends most of his time catching speeders at the sharp right-hand bend in the Crowsnest Highway. He loves hunting, fishing, and the laid back life of a rural setting. His partner is Constable Ernie Downs, who is a gentle but capable gay police man. Their world shatters as the report of a dead corpse, as yet unidentified, comes blaring over their police radio. The corpse turns out to be a prickly environmental protester who came from a moneyed background. Dr. Zachary Benson performs the autopsy and when he lays eyes on Heather McTavish, star reporter for the Bear Greek Bulletin, sparks fly. The superiors in Vancouver decide to bring in Inspector Mark Coswell to oversee the case, and in the meantime Ethel Roberts, who is Heather's best friend, is found murdered and her home is torched. A third murder intensifies the manhunt, and Heather becomes the probable next victim on the murderer's list even as the motive becomes clearer:

"'It was really a tragedy,' he recounted. 'The boy was just trying to earn some money between university semesters. He was working with a crew that was clearing trails in what is now the Carmanha Provincial park. He was bucking a big windfall fir when his chainsaw hit a spike in the tree causing a tooth to break off the chain. Somehow the fragment flew under his face shield and lacerated his right carotid artery. He bled to death.'"

Written in a straightforward manner, Roy Innes obeys all the rules in turning out the perfect mystery. The murderer is there in the background; pertinent clues abound; and the police have their problems tracking their man. He includes a captivating love story, his characters are ordinary people just trying to get by, and the killer has a human face. There is no shortage of action, and the book reads easily and has a refreshing twist. Innes is a mystery talent who should keep cranking out his product. An excellent read!

Old Silver
Carl Brookins
Top Publications, Ltd. Co
Dallas, TX
ISBN: 1929976321, $14.95

Carl Brookins is a product of the University of Minnesota and a career in public television. He also reviews books for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Mystery Scene Magazine, Books n' Bytes, and He has published two prior mysteries, INNER PASSAGES and A SUPERIOR MYSTERY. He is totally immersed in the mystery genre, leading reading groups for Barnes and Noble and is a member of all the usual mystery groups.

OLD SILVER brings back the team of Michael Tanner, corporate public relations man, and his second wife, Mary Whitney. They love sailing, good food, traveling, snorkeling, and having adventures. But the discovery of a metal object on a return trip to Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior changes their lives as the find represents a one hundred year old shipwreck that two powerful families involved want to keep under wraps. After the murder of an innocent archivist, the family connections keep recurring in most peculiar ways as Tanner and Mary try to interpret tidbits of information even as their investigation attracts possibly lethal attention from unknown sources and near misses:

"The deputy sheriff came over. 'Mr. Tanner, we're pretty sure it was a blue and white tractor, possibly a Kenilworth, that hit you. I got no reason for you to stay here. We'll be in touch if we need you to come back up. If we find the tractor and can tie a driver to this incident. Frankly, unless we get a break, there's not much to go on.'"

Carl Brookins has really hit his stride with his third mystery. Michael and Mary are a loving, intelligent, and talented duo who also have ordinary needs (sleep) and the occasional scuffle. They travel between Minneapolis, Duluth, Lake Superior, and Chicago on their hunt for the solution to this tricky tangle. The action and plot are superbly plotted, and each near miss brings them inexorably closer to the solution to this intra-familial secret. They are spurred on by the injustice of the murdered victims, plus a little bit of revenge instinct on the part of the scruffy Tanner, who resents the fact that some gangster tried to kill him. Tanner and Mary both shine as super-sleuths who have the heart, the determination, and the mental acuity to blast apart the entropy of old secrets that have simmered for too long. OLD SILVER is an entertaining and well crafted mystery sure to please any mystery buff.

Murder on the Gold Coast
Barbara Fleming
Silver Maple Publications
PO Box 846, Yellow Springs, OH 45387-0846
ISBN: 0970897014, $17.95 U.S./$25.95 CAN

Barbara Fleming is an African-American writer who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Howard University in Washington D.C. HOT STONES, COLD DEATH is her first Lieutenant Matthew Alexander book, and following on its heels is MURDER ON THE GOLD COAST. Barbara Fleming presently lives in Ohio.

Matthew Alexander is a Detective Lieutenant with the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) Police Department (known as DCPD). His partner is the senior James Jackson (Jake) who is a Detective Sergeant. They work in a highly volatile atmosphere, with Chief Jefferson Carter and their direct superior, Lloyd Cullison. Politics rule, and both Carter and Cullison are acutely aware of protecting their turf and furthering their own careers, sometimes at the expense of the cops on the beat. So when developer Harold Waterson is found murdered in the basement of Walter Bowman's home, Matt Alexander is automatically placed in an awkward position, since he used to date Walter Bowman's daughter Angela. For her part, Angela is hysterical, and her overly-protective father and mother aren't in much better shape. The murder weapon is nowhere to be found, and it is Matt's job to find the guilty party. There are plenty of suspects to go around, and all of them are lying, particularly the neighbor who was giving a party at the time of death:

"'You're not dealing with a couple of idiots, Matthew Alexander! Your case isn't nearly as hot as it will get if you try to drag Tom and me into this mess! We weren't born yesterday! Try to pin this murder on us, and there will be hell to pay!' 'Since you protest your innocence so strongly, Claudia, maybe you can tell me where Tom was while Angela was in your kitchen last night?'"

With her background as a psychologist, Barbara Fleming creates constant tension and interesting behaviors among nearly all of her characters. Her plot follows at breakneck speed, and Matt Alexander and his trust partner Jake are in the midst of all the chaos. The action is smart and highly entertaining, and even at the end she leaves a little snippet of doubt as to who the actual murderer is. No doubt this will come into play in the next installment of this most excellent murder series. Fleming is a sly writer with lots of talent and this is a great read.

The Cellini Masterpiece
Raymond John
PO Box 50348, Minneapolis, MN 55405
ISBN: 0595328059, $20.95

John Anderson, aka Raymond John is a retired military intelligence specialist, a collector, and a historian. He is also an afficionado of Malta, an archaeologic jewel of the Mediterranean which was ruled by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Arabs. Mr. Anderson/John also has extensive knowledge of military strategy and weaponry, which he uses to best effect in his first novel, which took him thirty-five years to polish.

Rick Olsen is a Minnesota farmer with lots of special skills, including military intelligence. He receives a call from his brother, Stef, to come to Malta. But upon arrival, he is attacked and it becomes clear that Stef has been kidnaped. Stef has been researching a archaeological find that has roots in a 16th Century rogue alchemist who consorted with the artist Benvenuto Cellini and Suleiman the Magnificent. Rick meets and falls in love with the luscious Caterina, who turns out to be much more than just a pretty face helping stranded tourists. Together they solve the puzzle of the shield and the challenge made by its creator. But other parties are after the shield for far more nefarious reasons, and it is a race to find the original and to stop a plot that threatens not only Malta, but the entire region:

"The shield amazed him. It could have been the original. At least sixteen inches in diameter, it must have weighed close to the fifteen pounds of metal that Cellini had used to make Francis' legendary saltcellar. And some of Cellini's craftsmanship was evident in the heavy embossments of the shields and the knight's armor. Cornacchia had also done an excellent job detailing the expressions on the knight's faces and the texture of the chain mail they wore."

Raymond John's excellent mind is evident from the very first page of this standout mystery/adventure. His research is extensive, his knowledge of weaponry and military strategies is expert, and his ability to tell a story (complete with a sweet love story that slowly evolves over the narrative) is superb. Rick Olsen is a big guy with an even bigger heart. Not only is he a hero, but he is willing to risk life and limb for his younger brother. THE CELLINI MASTERPIECE is a carefully crafted page turner that is compelling and is bound to pull the reader in from the very first page. This one should be made into a movie.

The Enigma of Njama
Anthony D. Wilbon
Wingspan Press
P.O. Box 2085, Livermore, CA 94551
ISBN: 1595940170, $15.95

Dr. Anthony D. Wilbon is an Information Systems Department professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. In a former life, he logged in more than fifteen years in high tech and consulting firms, including several corporate companies.

Mongomery Quinn is an assistant professor at George Washington University. His life-long friend, Jovan Givens, is insanely jealous that his wife, Nia, a computer specialist at the National Security Agency, might be unfaithful to him. Nia has been working long nights, but she has her own agenda. Jovan buys a GPS to keep track of his wife, and takes a thumb drive from her computer. Their ensuing argument when Nia discovers his prank results in Jovan crashing his car and ending up hospitalized in a coma. Jovan has given Monty the thumb drive, asking him to dig out its contents. Nia guesses that Monty has the drive, and when he denies it her secret organization of Afro-American business women called NJAMA begins to destroy his life. His bank account disappears, his car is repossessed, his NSA grant is audited, and an old college flame nearly ends his marriage. But Monty is no slouch, and with a little help from an anonymous source, a fellow professor, and a grad student with armed services experience he turns the tables:

"Prior to leaving the campus, Donnie made Montgomery change into black sweat pants, black t-shirt, and a pair of black army boots. The only color on either of them were the red and light gray socks Montgomery wore because Donnie forgot to include a dark pair in the duffle bag when he rushed out of the house."

Dr. Wilbon does a nice job of creating a plot with non-stop action and interesting characters that are intelligent and talented upper class African-Americans. He gives the plot a powerful twist by having Monty Quinn becomes the target of NJAMA. Monty finds himself fighting a new kind of establishment, and he has to regain his life, renew his commitment to his marriage, and catch the culprits. Wilbon skillfully sets up situation after situation to build the action to a climax, even as he shows us the seduction of the power that resides in the hallowed halls of Washington institutions. NJAMA is a page-turner with a lot of conscience, or one might say, a lot of soul. It's a great read by an author who knows his computers.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Ed Young
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71201
ISBN: 1582294461, $14.95 167 pages

I always love reading a book that keeps me on the right track with the Lord. In Ed Young's work, YOU, we are given positive reinforcements of who we are through the One who made us. The author carries us through many different avenues that we use to try and be accepted by ourselves and others, and he shows how and why they fail. He also helps us to learn how to break away from hurts that may have scared us in our past and left us in a state of insecurity about ourselves. He shares experiences from his own past which helps to enlighten this in your minds eye. Gently, but with great purpose, he shares the love our God has for us, our importance to Him and the future He sees is ours. You begin to realize how special you are and how much you are loved. The one important factor this work will leave you with is that YOU do matter to the one who made you. Once you understand that, embrace it and begin to live it your life will change. You need not be afraid that you will fall into an attitude of, 'it's all about me,' because finally you will realize that it's all about HIM and what He has put in you to be a productive part of the world we live in. A great book to boost your self-esteem and make some much needed attitude adjustments. Recommended.

Where Miracles Happen
Joan Wester Anderson
Brett Books
P.O. Box 290-637, Brooklyn, New York 11229
ISBN: 0345393058, $12.95 256 pages

Every so often you come upon a book that stirs within you emotions so deep that it almost takes your breath away; this is what happens in this outstanding work, "Where Miracles Happen." Author Joan Wester Anderson shares the stories of people, like you and me, who were touched with the miraculous. Stories of healings, life's saved, changed and left knowing they were kissed by a God who loves them. Their stories will leave you with a feeling of complete awe, deep reverence and expected hope and will turn your eyes once again to the One who made you. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For the Believer it is an affirmation of their faith, a building block to draw upon and a salve for their soul. To the un-believer it should certainly be an eye-opener and if nothing more leave them with some thought provoking material. This is a must have, a book that should grace everyone's library; a book of faith and hope that can be read and enjoyed time and time again.

Evidence From Beyond
Margaret Flavell, author
Ruth Mattson Taylor, editor
Brett Books
P.O. Box 290-637, Brooklyn, New York 11229
ISBN: 0963662058, $22.95 180 pages

In this work a Lutheran pastor, A.D.Mattson died in 1970. During his life-time he was very interested in the paranormal and according to this book in 1971 he began to give messages from beyond the grave to his daughter Ruth Mattson Taylor. Pastor A.D. Mattson discusses many subject concerning the here-after. He tells of animals waiting for their beloved masters to die so they maybe reunited; and if they had no one to love them how they are absorbed in a universal force for animals; one for dogs, one for cats, etc. He tells of children that have died growing up and waiting for their parents and he speaks of the importance of prayer, love and worship, all told to those whom are clairvoyant and are interrupting his messages.

I believe this is an excellent New-Age book and would be of great interest to those who wish to study more on subjects such as reincarnation and are interested in physic powers and those who are clairvoyant. I hold a different Christian belief concerning the here-after, so although many of the subjects were interesting I did not agree with what was being told. However, for those who hold to these beliefs this work would be a real page-turner. Again, very well written but only recommended for those interested in the paranormal.

Why Only Words Poems
Chad M Howell
Publish America
PO Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413739741, $16.95 106 pages

It is said that a poet speaks from their heart, allowing their inward man to release the very essence of their soul. I believe this is the core of what author Chad M Howell has done in his work, "Why Only Word." In this work he gives us poems of love, commitment, family and relationships, to name but a few. I sensed at time anger,yet compassion; at other times confusion and again at times deep love and understanding. This work is one of traveling through life and revealing the inward scent of the people met, the emotions felt, and the impressions left. A work from the heart of a poets soul.

Gwen Morrison
Publish America
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413745863, $14.95 237 pages

I began this book with apprehension as I try very hard not to read works that leave me sad. However this work, although it involved death, was written in a way that it cradled me with the renewed sight that life still goes on, and with it the spirit of the one who has left us. This book reminds us of the many ways the departed one has enriched and fulfilled our own lives, and it is a tender reminder how important we are one to another.

Paige Matthew did not know how much her life would change that day a pregnant woman appeared on her doorstep crying for help. Little did she know that a Josephine Marie Ferguson would, in a way, be the one person who would give Paige the strength to turn her life around. After their chance meeting, the story takes you through the friendship that builds between these two women. They share heartaches and tears, marriage and children woes, joys and hopes, and deep secrets of the past, causing a strong bond between these two women. Paige had a tragic secret, as she was raped at a young age, became pregnant and was forced to give up her little girl. The sorrow never left her. Through the help and wisdom of her friend Josie, Paige sought out her daughter and her life was fulfilled in ways she never dreamed possible.

Josie had another destiny to take. The cruelty of cancer takes the life of Josie, way too soon from this world, leaving behind a grieving husband, child and friend. However, the author extracts the qualities of a true friend that were implanted into Paige, the hope, the courage, the laughter at life and the acceptance of death and gently weaves them into the storyline. This leaves you with a feeling of grief, yet understanding that life must play it's cards as they are dealt; and we must be thankful for the moments we had in sharing another souls journey, and thankful for the part they played in our own journey and the attributes they planted in our hearts. Ivy is a strong story of how a true friend can change the course of our lives, it is the story of life, the story of death, a reminder to be thankful for every moment we have with those we love, and hope for the future.

This I Know: A For Hymn Mystery, Book III
Paula F. Blevins
Publish America
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413787827 $19.95 138 pages

Buckle your seat-belts because you are going for a ride with two very brave little girls in this third installment of author Paula Blevins, To Hymn Series, "This I Know." Did you ever make a wrong decision in life and pay the consequences for such? Did you question the protection of God and wonder just where your faith level was as you sledged through the muddy waters that your actions had stirred. I'm sure you have. Mom, Kathleen Gearhart, didn't want to wake-up her two sleeping daughters that rainy stormy day as they peacefully slept in the back of the van. After all, she was only making a quick stop at the cleaners, certainly they would be safe for just a moment, or would they? Our story begins as Kathleen's children have disappeared, taken unbeknown by a confused, abused carjacker and Kathleen's world begins to crumble. As the search begins for her missing children Kathleen questions God's protection, her own faith and her husband's faithfulness as suspicion is thrown his way. Keith and Kathleen, along with their young girls find their trust in the Lord challenged in a way they never imagined. Will the children be returned safely and will this couple cling to each other and the God to whom they belong? Or will they lose each other and children they love?

The author does a good job in character development bringing them clearly into the minds eye. She centers the book around the disappearance of the children, but clearly brings into play different emotional aspects of the family, the kidnappers and a surprise player that definitely adds a twist you will not expect. Ms Blevins carefully melts the concepts and truths of God into this compelling read. She allows her characters to be real with their emotions, their questions, their fears and doubts but gently brings together the realization that God must remain the focal point no matter what life drama is being lived. Paula Blevins is true to form in this latest work, skillfully weaving God's precepts and life's challenges together and bringing the story to a conclusion with the awareness that no matter what life throws at us, we are not alone. Well done Ms. Blevins, keep up the good work.

Kathe Gogolewski
Wings ePress Books
403 Wallace Court, Richmond, KY 40476-0038
ISBN: 1590884868, $9.95 111 pages

Gankum, Michaels beloved grandfather and best friend has passed, but to Michael he is still very much alive and visits with him daily. His family does not believe it and Michael yearns for someone new in the family to love . He remembers his mother's tale of how babies came from potatoes using a magic formula; Michael decides this was what he must do, but unfortunately botches it up and two very strange creatures are born. Tato, a lovable half-human, half potato creature, and an evil mirror that was created when some of the magic formula accidently fell upon it.

Trouble really begins to brew when the evil mirror kidnaps his parents in hopes of having their souls and Michael, Tato and his sister Nicole must venture into the mirror to save them. The adventure heats up as they are confronted with monster insects that want them for dinner and the strange occurance of shrinking in size, while desperately seeking the whereabouts of their parents.

The author does a wonderful job in allowing you to feel the emotions of young Michael as he struggles with the death of his grandfather, and the responsibility of saving his parents, himself and his sister. It is only when he is able to accept that fact that his grandfather has passed and release him that his family is saved; thus showing that life goes on. Ms. Gogolewski uses lovable characters, warm family ties and a sinister mirror to bring her story together. She shows that love and family ties do not die with the person who has passed but are ever a part of our lives. Each person, object and situation lead to Michael accepting Gankum's death and living again. This is a fun read, entertaining from beginning to end; but also one that will teach children lessons of life. Very highly recommended.

Pleasant Valley
Eralides E. Cabrera
Author House Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, Indiana 47403
ISBN: 1429822144, $19.95 342 pages

As I began this read I was lured into the peaceful setting of a small suburban town called, Pleasant Valley, but what truly was behind closed doors would make the bravest person tremble. Colorful, beautiful homes laced the landscape and happy families at work and play dotted the valley, all was well or was it? We meet Nick Soter, a young man with a gift for music. Nick is trying out for a local band, but seems to always confuse the basement of one home where tryouts are being held with another. This mistake brought terror upon him and changed his life forever, as he encountered something not of this world one afternoon when he went into the wrong basement.

Nick, not wanting to believe what he saw hurries home, only to discover his father is dead from a car accident and his mother soon dies from shock. Nick, now alone struggles to survive and as soon as he can leaves Pleasant Valley behind him. However, the terror of what he saw haunts him for years. It isn't until he marries and at the insistence of his wife that he travels back. What they find there is more terrifying than even Nick remembers. As Nick and his wife meet with old friends, they find that death and mysterious disappearances are the norm for the town at the hands of a cult. One detective, Norman Jacques pursues the bizarre cult that is behind these happenings, but is not able to do more than keep them at bay. Nick finds out that not all friends are true friends and his very life will depend on the courage of his pregnant wife.

This is a strange read, however I mean this in a good way. It has mystery and bizarre events that trigger a great interest inside of you to find out the answers behind the questions. It's a fast paced,suspenseful read, has very well defined haunting characters and the storyline flows well. This is a great book to cuddle up with, but if you do, here's a little hint to keep you safe; make sure you have music playing. Why? Read the book and you'll understand. Great book to read for those mystery thrill seekers, a real page turner.

The Color Blind Detective
Bill Capron
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN: 0975857193, $13.95 171 pages

CB Green is a private eye; a colored blind one at that, but there is more to this man than lack of color vision. Some of us just know things about people; it's a gift so to speak and CB has this gift which is quite valuable in his line of work. I liked how the author brought into play the fact that the author was color-blind in the storyline. It made the PI stand out, made him different and for some reason more appealing; a very wise move on the author's part. CB is a tough guy when he needs to be but the author allows you to see his tender side as well. He shares with us CB's personal life, his past hurts and his present day family dilemmas. It helped to make CB real in the minds eye and not just a storybook character.

We meet Jane Wye, newly widow of Jack Wye; a man whose life was anything but good and pure. Jack was murdered, but Jane is not wanting revenge for those who did this, her motives are that of greed, not grief. It seems Jack had millions stashed away in a safe deposit box and he kept the key dangling around her neck as a trophy; but that trophy is now gone. Jane wants it back and CB is the man she chooses to get it for her.

We are taken along meeting more and more characters. Some good, some bad but all intertwined in what becomes a multiple murder case with one center point, Jack Wye. The author did a top notch job in pulling all the murders and characters together into one focal point, yet leaving you wondering what the connections could be. As evidence gathered up you really think you have a handle on where it's going, only to be sidetracked by another trail.

All in all this was a tightly written, mystery packed read that kept my interest from beginning to end. Brimming with colorful well placed characters that enhanced the reality of the events as the author played upon their personalities, their part in the mystery drama and left you wondering just 'who done it and why?' A mystery read that is part laid back, part action packed yet charged with the energy you demand in a mystery read. You'll enjoy this one.

100+ Baby Shower Games
Joan Wai
The Brainstorm Company
11684 Ventura Blvd. #970, Studio City, CA 91604
ISBN: 0972835415, $14.00 128 pages

In this delightful book we are treated to over 100 fun filled games that may be played at a Baby Shower. I was really surprised that there would be so many and so many different variations to each one, who would have ever thought? Author Joan Wai breaks down the games into different categories, such as, Sit Down Games, Active Games, and Memory Word Games, to name just a few. Quick reference and easy to follow instructions are at your finger tips taking the stress out of game preparation. Excellent!

This is a great book for anyone wanting to put some fun into the next baby shower, or party for that matter, as I feel many of these games could be adopted to fit other occasions. What a terrific idea. This one gets a big thumbs up. A real keeper.

The Philosopher's Dog
Raimond Gaita
Random House
135 Hudson Avenue, New York, NY
ISBN: 0812970241, $13.95 220 pages

I am one of those people who love animals, hate to see anything killed and have at times had closer friendships with my dogs than some humans I know. Some call this weird but for me it is a way of life. When I first started this book I felt it would be a simple book with the concept of how 'human' animals could be; this was not so. Written by Raimond Gaita; a professor of moral philosophy in London, I found this was not a fluff work but one written with thought provoking material. The author shares stories of some animals he has encountered in his life, such as his dog Gypsy, and Jack, a cockatoo. Often heartbreaking, sometimes light-hearted, these stories showed their behavior in this world we share with them. He gives us some conclusions from others who have studies animals and also his own thoughts on the subject matter. Although I didn't agree with every conclusion in some mattes the author did; I felt the he was giving us an opportunity to come to mull them over and make our own decisions about animals and I liked that. A very interesting read that will definitely give opportunity for thought.

The Oculi Incident
Regis Schilken
Turn Key Press
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 0976498138, $16.95 346 pages

Right off I am going to say this is an outstanding, exceptional work; from the first page to the last I was totally consumed by the read. In the beginning we are confronted by the mysterious disappearance of a very lovable Priest, what could have happened to him and why? We are jetted off in the read and meet Police Officer Timothy Comstock and his soon to be wife Martie who will become major players in this story. Again moving forward in time we are taken to St. Lukes where something unusual is happening. It seems a beautiful crucifix of Jesus seems to be shedding tears and the adventure begins as Priests, police officers and Scientists scramble to find out if this is a true miracle or an exceptional hoax.

The story darkens however when those who get too close to the investigation either end up dead, are terrified to the point of stopping their involvement, or are seriously injured. Is this a hoax or a real miracle from God? And why are so many people ending up dead? Great mystery element.

The author does an outstanding job of his character and story development, skillfully weaving and twisting events and characters until it is impossible to know if this is a real miracle or a hoax during the read. And so well hidden was a certain character's background, I never would have suspected they were behind the evil and killings at St. Lukes. The ending was absolutely heart- thrilling and spell bounding; I loved it. Was this a true miracle? You decide! What a read; one you do not want to miss. I highly recommend this book.

The Cooker Book
Richard Paul Tanos
Tanos Book Publishing
PO Box 111056, Palm Bay, Florida 32911-1056
ISBN: 0974875378, $11.95 200 pages

I am quite impressed by the talent of author Richard Tanos; his range of writing skills never cease to amaze me. I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a great deal of his works and found them to be outstanding, in reading this newest one I was not surprised at the excellence of it. I am not one that enjoys cooking, although I feel I could put out a really great dinner if I had a mind to, but I found this cook book quite enjoyable to read. In-between the pages we find our author sharing basic to more complex recipes with the reader. Some that are quite well known and others that he himself has had the pleasure of eating and has put his own special twist upon, giving it his unique spin. He takes you from basic to complex and patiently takes you step by step in your preparation of each recipe. Whether it be making a simple ham and cheese sandwich to the all dreaded non-lumpy gravy, and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, he is there with you, giving you helpful tips along the way. He adds a section of weights and measures which is quite helpful and even puts a "Special Relationship Test," at the end of the work, which I believe will not only bring a chuckle, but is true to its purpose.

This book would be an outstanding gift for so many people; whether they be newly married, moving out on their own, or perhaps seasoned cooks who would like to get some new ideas on some old recipes and learn a few new ones as well. I believe Mr. Tanos has another winner on his hands and I truly feel this book would be in asset in any kitchen. Recommended.

Then Why Does It Still Hurt?
Jack Schroder
Catalpa Press
PO Box 27303, Oakland, CA 94602
ISBN: 0974566500, $14.95

What a book! That said let me explain. Author, Jack Schroder, treads in water that would be way over most people's heads in this outstanding read. What is it about? Your survival; your very life! All of us will experience times of sickness and possible hospitalization and with that truth comes the real dangers. In this work, our author gives a concise explanation of what we ought to expect from those that we are entrusting our very lives to, and what we need to fear.

He explains the dangers that await you in the hospital, the dangers that lurk in different medicines you take and the dangers of your doctors very care of you. Scary? Maybe so, but this information could well save your life or the lives of those you love. He does not write this in a condemning way to our medical care people, but as in all things there are always dangers, accidents, neglect and this is so concerning your medical care. However, some of these can be avoided and being informed is a safeguard; knowledge is a weapon that you can use. And in this work that is what you are given, information and knowledge, so you can see the pitfalls before you fall in them.

I really liked this book and plan to keep it on hand because I know, as with all of us, there will be a time when I will need to refer to the knowledge it holds. It is said that being forewarned is being forearmed; this book will help you to protect yourself. I highly recommend it; it will be well worth your time and money. Trust me on this one.

The Color of Light
Karen White
Penguin Group Publishing
375 Hudson Avenue, New York,NY 10014
ISBN: 0451215117, $12.95 267 Pages

In this wonderful story by gifted writer Karen White, we are taken to Pawley Island in South Carolina with our main character Jillian Parrish and her 7-year old daughter, who seems to have a very special supernatural gift. One that will change the lives of all it comes in contact with. Jillian is pregnant and divorced and is desperately seeking peace and the meaning of love in her troubled life. Abused as a child, thrown into a closet of darkness for the smallest error , Jillian clings to the good memories of days spent with her grandmother on Pawley Island. Hoping to somehow rekindle that peace by returning, Jillian finds she encounters other ghosts, such as the unsolved mystery of her best friend Lauren's disappearance years ago. Linc was Lauren's boyfriend and Jillian's friend; he was also a suspect in Lauren's disappearance. As fate would have it, both Jillian and Linc are now together on the island, although for different reasons, their lives would soon intertwine as they join forces to end the turmoil that haunts them both.

The author does a wonderful job defining the characters, making them real in your minds eye and helping to bring the story to life. She throws in some unusual twists that will delight and surprise you as the work unfolds. You will be shocked when the truth of Lauren's disappearance is discovered. This is one outstanding work, brimming with mystery, love and a touch of the supernatural that is a real page turner from beginning to end. I recommend it highly, excellent read.

Toxic Overload
Paula Baillie-Hamilton, M.D., Ph.D.
Penguin Publishing
251 Hudson Avenue, New York, NY
ISBN: 1583332251, $21.95 269 pages

I want to say that this book was like a breath of fresh air to me. What is it about? The truth. Here is a book written by a doctor who tells the health hazards of the chemicals that surround us and are found in everything from the food we eat to the cloths we wear. I found it shocking as Dr. Hamilton exposed the dangers of these chemicals to the point of causing cancer, diabetes and respiratory illnesses, just to name a few. I was not surprised as I myself have suffered from what I now know, from the information I found in this book, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. This is a disease caused by overexposure to chemicals where your body reacts strongly to smells and other chemical agents. What a blessing to finally have a name and a reason to what was happening to my body, and to know it isn't just all in my mind as so many people thought it was. Thank you Dr. Hamilton.

The good doctor goes into detail about certain agents and what they do to our bodies, but she does not stop there. She also gives us some pointers on how we can counter-react these chemicals, what vitamins to take, which foods to eat that will flush chemicals out of our bodies and what to avoid, and how to detoxify our homes, and cleanse our bodies. The author covers every area you will need to help you move to better health and avoid contamination in the future. Excellent! I'll tell you the truth, this book was too long in coming and in my opinion should be read by every person on the face of the earth. The information will astound you and make you more aware of the dangers in the world you live in. I strongly recommend this work, you won't be sorry.

How To Write Proposals, Sales Letters & Reports
Neil Sawers
Fast Moving World
21-0405 Jasper Avenue, Suite 586 Edmontion, AB T5J 382
ISBN: 0969790147, $21.95 218 pages

I have heard it said, "You don't need God until you need Him," time and time again, and I think this statement applies to this work. No, not the God part, just the concept. "How to Write Proposals, Sales Letters & Reports," is one of those books that you are sure glad you have handy when the situations arises in these areas and you have no clue what to do. Here is an example I will use about myself. I am looking into writing grants. Now if any of you have gone down this road, you know it can be unsettling to say the least. I was absolutely thrilled to find some help in this work. the author took the confusion out of the process and gave me some great insight into how to proceed; and that's just a small part of this book. It is basically a business guidebook, written in a clear concise easy to understand way that all can followed by all. In all reality, when dealing in this area, knowing how to prepare and write a good report, sales letter or even a grant request is something we all will be required to do sometime in our lives. Do it right the first time and achieve the results you desire., this book will certainly help you with that.

9 Lessons For a Meaningful Life: Voices of Inspiration
J.K. Dennis
Three House Publishing
PO Box 6672, Chesterfield MO 63006
ISBN: 0976642905, $14.00 197 pages

In this read sit back and get ready for a journey to Moon County, Georgia, where you will meet and share the lives of many of its residents. It will be quite an experience. The author gives us as he calls it, 9 Lessons, in the form of 9 very good stories. Take the first story; we meet the local store owner who paves the way for the rest of the read, wooing us into the southern community in his soft manner. We are taken along with each story, meeting a young girl in one, who is forced to marry a man she does not love, but learns to love in time; just like Mama said she would. In each story we are carried along with the lives of the people, their problems, their failures and their inward intents in life's matters. I was surprised, at first I didn't think I would enjoy this read, but I found myself caught up in the stories, the people and the happenings and really enjoyed the book. It's a different read; I feel. Not the norm, but one that brings to light a lot of truths about people that tend to be buried, or ignored. Very well defined and interesting characters, placed in the local of a southern community bringing these stories life. I believe you will enjoy this one, especially if you want something a little different, yet captivating at the same time.

Dead Man's Rule
Rick Acker
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
ISBN: 0825420067, $14.95 316 pages

Ben Corbin has begun his own practice as a lawyer; leaving behind the security of a large partnership, he is struggling to make a name of his own. Times are tough, money short and what he is about to encounter in a case that is thrust upon him could be his ruin, if not his death. Dr. Mikhail Ivanovsky is a Russian scientist. A strange little man that comes to Ben for representation. Ben is skeptical, as he senses right from the start Dr.Ivanovsky is not being honest with him. The problem? Who is the owner of a safe deposit box. Ben soon finds out that in reality this is Pandora's Box; one that could hold unbelievable destruction for all mankind. Chilling! This work takes you into the world of the past, present and possible future,seeping with espionage, deadly secrets, germ warfare, all mingled together for one exciting ride. Fast paced, brimming with mystery and suspense, this is surely a read you will not be able to put down. A real page turner.

I've Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked, and They've Got Nothing On You!
Jake Steinfeld
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0814408605, $22.95 235 pages

Jake Steinfeld is a man with a mission and it screams from the pages of his new book, I've Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked, and They've Got Nothing On You! His mission is living life, and not in survival mode as many do, but in fulfillment of dreams, visions and hopes. In his book he takes you on a mini journey of his life and his rise to fame. He shares with you fears, mistakes and triumphs that he encountered along the way; and he does this in a sincere honest manner that leaves you comfortable with the author and the information that he is sharing. The main thrust of this book is to help you achieve the dream in your heart to be your own boss; look forward to going to work, and have more than a get-by existence, all the while doing something you love. His business start-up advice is top-notch, very detailed and given with a few giggles along the way. He leaves very little details out, giving much needed steps to proceed, shares advise from his heart and his words truly inspire you to charge forward.

I know that this work was mainly written to help hopeful Entrepreneurs; yet I sense others maybe encouraged by Mr. Steinfeld's words in many areas of their lives. It is always refreshing when you read a success story of someone who started out with little and ended up with much; and it is sweeter when that person also is content and happy as Mr. Steinfeld is. Whether you are about to undertake a new venture in business, take a leap of faith towards your dreams or just want to smile at the success of another; this book will encourage and uplift you. A down-to-earth, face to face read awaits you in these pages and I think everyone who reads it will find at least one morsel of advise to apply in their own lives. Well done Mr. Steinfeld.

Memories Trail
D. L. Larson
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0972301186, $25.00 475 pages

In this oustanding historical romance we meet three main characters. Elizabeth, who is captured and taken to a tribe of the Shawanee's; Tecumseh, a warrior of the Shawanee's and Will Douglas, who although is not an Indian was raised to know their ways and their heart, and is the man of Elizabeth' vision. Elizabeth we soon see is a strong spirited woman, one who is gifted with visions that Tecumseh senses and understands. The three are drawn together by these visions and their destiny to battle against evil forces that will change them, a nation and a people forever.

The author does a supurb job of mingling the hearts and purpose of his character in this work; bringing to light each ones strengths and weaknesses through the battles that they incurr, making the story intense, heartfelt and real. Memories Trail is a story of war, passionate friendship and honor, deep commitment and love and hatred and betrayal. A story so full of compassion and purpose it will grab your heart and not let go. Certainly worth your attention; an outstanding read.

author of Memories Trail

I really enjoyed DL's work Memories Trail and wanted to know more about this author. I know you will enjoy this interview, let's begin.

SPJ: Would you please tell us, what made you decide to write this book?

DL: I've always been interested in history, more importantly the conflict people faced in colonial/frontier times. Discovering what was here long ago in the midwest fascinated me, especially all the Indian names we use intrigued me to learn more about the many Indian nations that claimed this land as home. When the movie, Last of the Mochicans (based on James Fenimore Cooper's classic) came out in 1992, I felt as if that was the prequel to my book. My manuscript was already written at that time and I thought for sure my novel would get published immediately.

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

DL: Even though my family didn't know specifically what I was writing, they thought the era was interesting. My husband especially liked the concept of my characters being dropped into such a unique time in history.

SPJ: In your writing you put a lot of heart, and I like that. How did you come up with the storyline?

DL: I'm a firm believer in character driven stories. Conflict forces a character to grow or wilt. I wanted my characters to face the serious problems folks have dealt with since the beginning of time and continue to struggle with. I wanted my characters to feel at every level, personal, social as well as political and religious. As for the storyline... this may sound a bit offbeat, but it simply came to me, perhaps because I've been so interested in the past and Indian culture in particular. An old Indian legend says 'that a story will seek a writer and if that writer is found worthy, the story will rest upon the writer's heart. The writer's gift is to give that story life.' And hopefully I have done that with Memories Trail.

SPJ: I love that legend DL, thanks for sharing it. Did you base your characters on real life people? You certainly did a great job in your character development, tell us about it please.

DL: The Indian characters - Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa and Tecumapese are real figures in our history. I did extensive research on each of these characters to find the 'human' side of each. I'm a stickler for creating minor characters as real as possible. I feel it enhances the quality of the story.

The main characters Will, Elizabeth and Devon are fiction. I've done some family genealogy on my mother's family, and the names of Will and Elizabeth were born from that research. As for the development of characters, I poke and prod until I feel I have a 'real' person. Then I treat them as such, by becoming them, thinking as they would, and trying to convey their emotions on paper.

SPJ: You did an outstanding job and it glows throughout your work. How did you chose the location? And did you have to research for your book?

DL: First, the research was done long before the world wide web was a household item. I traveled to many libraries, wrote notes, and notes, and more notes, because many of the books were not available for photo copying. The work was rather tedious but I found it fascinating. Once I realized my time frame, I knew my characters had to live a distance from the real action of the battles yet still find a second Indian tribe that knew about Tecumseh and his calling, but didn't join in for excusable reasons. I really thought that would be an impossible task, but Divine Intervention led me to the Louisiana Territory and behold - there was documentation on the Pawnee not wanting to join Tecumseh even though they had great respect for the Shawnee warrior. And so my locations were found and the setting established.

SPJ: That is really interesting. Tell us, how long did it take you to complete your book?

DL: I worked diligently for two years on this book. I actually wrote it about 15 years ago, and when I searched for a publisher - I kept coming up empty handed. So I set it aside and started writing another book. The next one a family saga, next generation sort of thing to Memories Trail. I have continued with that family up and through the Civil War.

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

DL: The most difficult part of writing was following up on documentation to be sure my characters were where history said they were at that time. Many times I had to stop and dig back to be sure Tecumseh had been where I wanted him to be in my book. I plowed through my notes and other documents till I could verify that he had indeed been where I placed him. What was intriguing was he was always where I needed him to be.

SPJ: That is amazing DL! What was the most enjoyable and memorable part in writing your book?

DL: The most enjoyable part of writing was allowing my characters to develop at their own pace, discovering who they were and what story they wanted to share. I enjoy letting a character flow and move, knowing he/she will take the story in new and unexpected places that enriches the book.

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

DL: It was very difficult finding a publisher, that's why I kept writing so I wouldn't have time to grow discouraged. Every few years I would pursue publishing again. The lack of response, the photo copied rejections I found exasperating. I could easily have papered a room with the "thanks, but no," letters.

I used to keep all the rejections, then decided about ten years ago to burn them at the end of each year. That was really a cleansing feeling, as if a great weight had been lifted. Somewhere along the way, I decided if I wasn't published by the time my youngest child graduated from high school, I'd give up on a writing career. Well, that time has come and gone, and my son graduated from college before I found a publisher. My family's support is mostly to blame for my staying the course. I've always told my kids we're not quitters ... and you guessed it, they tossed that right back at me whenever I thought about giving up.

SPJ: DL, I believe we all could paper a room with our rejection letters. Rejections are just part of a writer's life but doesn't that just make the victory so much sweeter when it comes. You are right NEVER give up, never. What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

DL: My advice to aspiring writers is to stay connected with other writers. Go to as many workshops and seminars as you possibly can. Keep meeting people in your profession. Eventually you will hook up with someone who values your work. Decide right up front that you're in it for the long haul - however long that may be.

SPJ: Amen and amen! If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them?

DL: The main thing I'd ask of publishers is to extend the professionalism they expect. By that I mean, we, as writers are expected to have everything in perfect order - crisp clean, error-free presentations. Yet I've received dozens of blurry, photo-copied rejections that are far from professional. They don't seem to notice their own misspelled wording, misused names ... all things they can't abide.

I'd also tell publishers that the days of single submissions is a thing of the past. The slowness in response forces writers to send out multiple submissions and publishers and agents above all people should understand that.

SPJ: Publishers! Are you listening? I hope so. Now, tell us do you have an agent? A publicist?

DL: I had an agent for a couple of years and she helped a great deal in getting my work ready for publication. But unfortunately due to ill health she was forced to close her business. I have not had one since, but I cherish the last note she sent to me, 'don't you ever give up!"

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

DL: Promoting my work has been similar to Catch 22. It has been difficult promoting my book without a professional review ... but now, thanks to you, I can more confidently pursue the avenues where I think my book will sell. Memories Trail has been well accepted locally and now I plan to broaden that exposure across the midwest - to many of the places mentioned in my book.

The one tip I have to offer other authors -- is to pursue reviews before your book is published. I wasn't aware that I was the one who should do that - and now wish I had been more assertive in getting reviews before printing.

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

DL: In the past I have belonged to writer's groups, mostly classes I attended that also served as writer's group. I always found them beneficial and comforting to be with other writers. At present, I do not belong to such a group - but I'd like to.

SPJ: DL, would you tell us 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?

DL: Writing Memories Trail has been a life-fulfilling experience for me, one I plan to continue doing. Reading should always be an enjoyable experience and I hope my readers find satisfaction in my book. I also want to educate my readers, make them think in a different way than they're used to. Ultimately, if a reader grows or finds compassion for others while reading my book that would be a great accomplishment.

SPJ: In me, you have achieved that accomplishment, thank you. How supportive were your family and friends in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

DL.: My family and friends have been tremendously supportive. My husband Kurt is my biggest fan, my critic, and coach. He's been patiently waiting for one of my books to be published. The support of my family and friends is extremely important and their generous wishes for my success humbles me. It's hard work to write and even harder to stay in the chair if others don't respect what you do. I'm thankful my family has always understood my need to write.

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

DL: As a matter of fact I do! As I mentioned earlier, I have several more books on the Douglas family that go up to and through the Civil War. Promises To Keep is the next book in this family saga. It's a bit different -- no wars, no Indians, but lots of conflict, betrayal and emotional growth with my characters. Joe Douglas is a gambler, and his wife is tired of his long absences and does the one thing she thought she'd never do. She sleeps with another man. Christine Douglas Frailey is married to an austere, reserved man and she tries to bring them closer to each other only to discover he has a mistress and she can't abide such deceit. Through out the book my characters grow and find strengths they never knew they had.

I also have a science-fiction series that I'm having a great time writing. The first book is called, The Warrior, The Wolf, and The House of Were. The wolf is a werewolf, a prince, and in league with the Lord Almighty to cleanse the evil from the universe. When he and his soldiers are on Earth, they have one small problem ... they're forgetful, but keep forgetting that they are and keeping track of things tends to get confusing. But their instincts carry them through -- in many unconventional ways.

I hope to have Promises To Keep published by summer '06, and The Warrior, The Wolf and The House of Were shortly after.

SPJ: They sound wonderful, best of luck with them. Would you tell us, how many hours a day do you write?

DL: I generally write four hours a day, some of that with editing and re-writing. I always have a few projects going at the same time. If my creative thinking isn't up to par, then I turn to something else till I get in the groove and find myself grabbing paper and pen.

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

DL: I like to write at my dining room table where I can glance out the bay window at my husband's cornfields. I always write long-hand on an original piece. If I don't, my writing style sounds too business-like and I end up rewriting it anyway. I enjoy writing when we travel, in a car, airplane, doesn't matter. There's a comfy chair on my back porch that beckons, stretched out on my bed works well, too. I can write just about anywhere.

As for a special person who inspired me ... I can't say there as ever been that someone. But Mrs. Mattan, my fifth grade teacher taught me to love reading. I remember telling her once that I would have changed the ending to the book I had just finished. It was too predictable. She replied, "Maybe someday you'll write your own story."

SPJ: God bless you Mrs. Mattan! Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

DL: Having a published book has given me a sense of accomplishment. I feel that on a personal level each time I finish writing a book, too. Having one published solidifies my efforts that this was worthy enough for others to read. The sense that this will happen again and again, gives me the feeling that, 'yes, this is what I was meant to do in life.'

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

DL: Three years from now I'd like to be on the National Best Sellers List. I'd like to be writing and creating as I have been for the last twenty years. And to achieve that goal -- I'm writing the best I can and will continue to promote my work with enthusiasm.

SPJ: Good for you! Look out National Best Sellers List, here comes DL! And I believe that. A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

DL: Read? As a children's librarian I read quite a bit. On the kiddy level, David McPhail has a sense of humor I admire. On the youngster level, Mary Pope Osborne with her Magic Tree House series is on the top of my list. If your kid doesn't like to read -- read one of hers together with your child -- and you'll get the fever. For Young Adult, I really like Margaret Haddix; her 'Among The Hidden" series is awesome and extremely thought provoking.

But when I find time to read a grown-up book ... I love Janet Evanovich with her Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter series. Book Eleven was just as fun as Book One. I like intrigue but not gore, get bored with espionage and find myself giggling at romance novels -- but keep reading on, some are real page turners. Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series had me staying up too many nights in a row, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

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

DL: As I mentioned, I'm a children's librarian, farm wife, mom, grammy, good friend to a few great gals and pals with many. I love gardening but never get enough time with the dirt. I love to read, but disapprove of the late hours I keep. I drink moderately but have on occasion been over-served. I drive too fast, yet I'm chronically ten minutes late for everything. I used to be a blond till I discovered that red is - well, red! I laugh too loud, a nagging habit my kids picked up, so now when we meet for dinner - we're the table that's too noisy.

I grew up in a small town but had dreams of moving to the big city until I met this cute farm boy. I've been married to that same farm boy for thirty-three years and would do it all again - probably the same silly way we did it the first time.

I bruise easily but consider myself thick-skinned. I've been called Miss Manners by my friends and family for a generation, yet continue to spill on my shirt. I was the baby of our family until my brother arrived and ruined everything. I've gone to school and listened to professors, but agree with Albert Einstein, 'that imagination is more important than knowledge.'

SPJ: You a JEWEL DL and an asset to this world we live in. Please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

DL: Please visit my web-site at and check out my many rooms. I'm a charter member to the National Museum of American Indians at the Smithsonian Institute, and if you're looking for more about the great Shawnee warrior or a simple weekend get-away next summer - visit TECUMSEH, the outdoor drama in Chilicothe Ohio. It's pretty cool. Hopefully my book will be in the gift shop by then! At my web page you can download my free Study Guide or Book Club questions to use with Memories Trail. It's sure to enrich your reading enjoyment.

In closing, I'd like to say "thank you" for the great review and for the interview. It's been a pleasure!

SPJ: Did I not promise you a great interview? Thank you DL for allowing us to know you better. Thank you for writing such a wonderful book and thank you for your outlook on life and the encouragement you bring. Readers, order her work, Memories Trail; I promise you will not be sorry. To you DL, may everything you put your hand to prosper. Thank you again.


DL Larson
4478 E. 1675 Road, Earlville, IL 60518

Helm Publishing
Dianne Helm, CEO
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China
Joanna Cole
illustrated by Bruce Degen
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0590108220, $16.95, 40 pages,

The world's wackiest teacher is back to take her students on another amazing field trip - this time she goes back in time to the days of ancient China. It's the Chinese New Year and Ms. Frizzle decides to celebrate by following Wanda and Arnold under the dragon at the local Chinese New Year's parade. Presto! All three are mysteriously whisked back in time to ancient China. They arrive in a village where the farmers are in trouble. The Friz and her cohorts vow to go to the capital to get the emperor's help. Along the way they pass rice fields, the Grand Canal, and the Great Wall. They discover silk, learn Chinese writing from a famous poet, and make some surprising kung fu moves. But will Arnold, Wanda and The Friz make their way to the emperor and find their way home in time for the New Year's banquet? With their wacky humor and penchant for research, Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen infuse this social studies series with the same brand of information and fun that has made the Magic Schoolbus series such a success. For ages 4-8.

The Royal Diaries: Anacaona, Golden Flower
Edwidge Danticat
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439499062, $10.95, 188 pages,

The Royal Diaries continues its exploration of historical cultures with a new book on ancient Haitian culture. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat introduces readers to Queen Anacaona, the wife of one of Haiti's rulers and a composer of songs and poems. Her island was a peaceful place until Spanish explorers conquered it in 1492. The conquistadors were terribly cruel to Queen Anacaona's people, and when they revolted. Anacaona met a tragic fate. This is truly a moving story, and one of the most compelling series editions in quite some time.

Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia
Scholastic Reference
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439438160, $19.95, 710 pages,

The Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia is the ultimate research tool for kids 8-12. With more than 600 entries ranging from Aircraft to the Korean War, the Respiratory System to Walt Whitman, this book will serve as an indispensable reference for students. The comprehensive, but completely child friendly structure allows young researchers to find the information they are seeking quickly and easily, and leads them to even more through "See Also" boxes and cross references. Hundreds of special features and sidebars make information easy to find, follow. Vivid colors and design draw young researchers inside, and fascinating "Amazing Facts" and "Did you know?" features bring the details to life.

The Fairy Tale Cake
Mark Sperring
illustrated by Jonathon Langley
The Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439683297, $15.95, 32 pages,

In Mark Sperring's delicious new picture book, beloved characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales collaborate to bake the most magical of birthday cakes! This sweet and charming story combined with the classic illustrations of Jonathan Langley will amuse young readers ages 3-5. Children can read along as Humpty Dumpty and Old King Cole bake and mix their birthday treats. Follow the progress of the birthday cake from the kitchen through the town, and finally to the special recipient - the birthday boy or girl. "The Fairytale Cake" is filled with recognizable and much-loved characters brought to life.

Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors
Jenny Nimmo
Orchard Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439545285, $9.95, 416 pages,

The fourth novel in the Children of the Red King quintet is another fantasy page-turner the pre-Harry Potter crowd will absolutely adore. In "Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors," Charlie's power takes on a new cast of characters, including Mr. Pilgrim's replacement, Tantalus Ebony, and the mysterious new student, Joshua Tilpin, who appears to be magnetic. Billy has been adopted by a mysterious couple and is locked up in an odd place called The Passing House. Charlie and Olivia discover the secret of the Castle of Mirrors, and along with Uncle Paton, they must free Billy before it is too late. Gripping adventure for ages 8-12.

The Pity Party
Alison Pollet
Orchard Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439681944, $15.95, 148 pages,

There is nothing easy about being in 8th grade. In "The Pity Party: 8th Grade in the Life of Me, Cass" by Alison Pollet, we meet Cass Levin as she nervously embarks on a new school year. Cass feels like the entire school is out ot get her. She's stuck in classes without her closest friends Penelope and Tillie to keep her company, and if that weren't bad enough, this is the year that the students take an extended field trip to Elston Prep's nature retreat in the countryside. But Cass confronts her problems with spirited resilience, and she forges an unexpected friendship with Rod Punkin, the school's biggest behavior problem. When Rod goes missing, Cass embarks on a secret adventure to find him. Witty and moving, "The Pity Party" is an observant illustration of life as 13. For ages 9-12.

The Legend of the Wandering King
Laura Gallego Garcia
translated by Dan Belm
Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439585562, $16.95, 214 pages,

Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
ISBN: 0786179473, $36.00, 4 CDs,

Inspired by the true story of a real prince in pre-Islamic Arabia, "The Legend of the Wandering King" is a novel like no other. Walid is an ideal prince: handsome, intelligent, courageous, cultured and skilled in the arts of both poetry and warfare. But the kingdom boasts one greater poet than he - a poor carpet-weaver named Hammad - and out of jealousy, Walid commands him to create an impossible work of art: a carpet showing the history of the entire human race. Hammad dies weaving it. Men go mad seeing it. And when it is stolen, Walid discovers his life's quest: to recover the carpet and earn forgiveness for his mistakes. "The Legend of the Wandering King" is an historical fantasy, a thrilling exploration of our fates and choices, and an utterly thrilling adventure. The Blackstone Audiobook edition is unabridged and features the voice talent of Patrick Fraley. For ages 10 and up.

Our Eleanor
Candace Fleming
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689865449, $19.95, 176 pages,

No matter how the question is answered, one thing is clear: there've been few lives in the last century that Eleanor Roosevelt has not affected. From securing safe, low-cost housing for Kentucky's poor, to helping her grandchildren hang a tire swing on the White House's south lawn, to representing America as the first female delegate to the United Nations, Eleanor rarely kept a second of her life for herself - and she wouldn't have it any other way. In this "scrapbook" biography, Candace Fleming ("Ben Franklin's Almanac") turns her eye to our nation's premier First Lady. Filled with photographs of everything from Eleanor's speech at the `940 Democratic National Convention to her high school report card, as well as fascinating stories about life in and out of the White House, "Our Eleanor" gives a remarkable perspective on a remarkable woman.

The Minister's Daughter
Julie Hearn
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689876904, $16.95, 264 pages,

Conceived on May Morning, Nell is claimed by the pixies and faeries as a merrybegot, one of their own. She is a wild child: herb gatherer and healer, spell-weaver and midwife...and, some say, a witch. Grace is everything Nell is not. She is the Puritan minister's daughter: beautiful and refined, innocent and those who think they know her. But she is hiding a secret -- a secret that will bring everlasting shame to her family should it ever come to light. A merrybegot and a minister's daughter -- two girls who could not have less in common. Yet their fates collide when Grace and her younger sister, Patience, are suddenly spitting pins, struck with fits, and speaking in fevered tongues. The minister is convinced his daughters are the victims of witchcraft. And all signs point to Nell as the source of the trouble.... Set during the tumultuous era of the English Civil War, The Minister's Daughter is a spellbinding page-turner - a stunning work of fiction that captures the superstition, passion, madness, and magic of a vanished age. For grades 7 and up.

Kamishibai Man
Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618479546, $17.00, 32 pages,

"When I think of my childhood in Japan, I think of Kamishibai. It means 'paper theater,'" Caldecott Medalist explains about the inspiration behind his lates picture book. He remembers when Japanese children would come running at the sound of the kamishibai man's wooden clappers, anxious for his stories and his sweets. But as time when by, fewer children gathered around until there was only one small boy left. So the storyteller stopped riding his bicycle into town. Years later, the kamishibai man and his wife prepare a fresh batch of candy, then the man pedals into town to tell one last story. When he comes out of the reverie of his memories, he looks around to see that he is surrounded by familiar faces - the children he used to entertain have returned, all grown up and more eager than ever to listen to his delightful tales. Using two very different styles of art, Say tells a tale within a tale, transporting readers to the Japan of his childhood, when he used to await the sound of the kamishibai man's clappers. An emotionally wrought tale, beautifully rendered. For ages 4-8.

Sketches from a Spy Tree
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
illustrated by Andrew Glass
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
ISBN: 0618234799, $16.00, 64 pages,

Hidden among the branches of the big maple tree, Anne Marie draws pictures of whatever catches her eye: Paul and Carrie O'Brien practicing karate moves in their backyard, Miss Emory feeding her cats, the bullfrog in the nearby creek. The maple is the perfect spy tower and a great place to escape from chores, homework, and thoughts of dad who left the family two years ago. But there's no avoiding her twin sister, Mary Anne, who helps her view things from a different perspective. Anne Marie's story, written as a series of linked poems and illustrated with paintings, sketches, and collage, offers a vivid portrait of a girl, her family, her neighborhood, and the amazing changes a year can bring.

Benedict Arnold: From Patriot to Traitor
Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author and Advocate
Compass Point Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
ISBN: 0756508258 (Arnold)
ISBN: 0756508118 (Columbus)
ISBN: 0756508223 (Stowe) $30,

Compass Books' excellent "Signature Lives" biography series has three proud new additions: "Benedict Arnold: From Patriot to Traitor" by Pamela Dell, "Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World" by Robin S. Doak, and "Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author and Advocate 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, notably the Renaissance, Revolutionary War, and Civil War 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 9-12.

The 19th Amendment
The Gettysburg Address
Great Women of Pioneer America
The Hindenburg
Compass Point Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
ISBN: 0756512603
ISBN: 0756512719
ISBN: 0756512697
ISBN: 0756512662, $24, 48 pages,

Compass Point Books "We The People" series has become a nearly indispensable source for complete public elementary libraries. The exemplary series now totals 75 titles with 14 new editions including these four: "The 19th Amendment" and "The Gettysburg Address" by Michael Burgan, "Great Women of Pioneer America" by Sarah de Capua, and "The Hindenburg" by Marc Tyler Nobleman. The series investigates single subjects or events in U.S. history in these dynamic, fact-filled books for grades 4 - 6.

The Center of the World
Andreas Steinhofel
translated by Alisa Jaffa
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 038572943X, $16.95, 480 pages,

From acclaimed German writer Andrrewas Steinhofel comes this powerful novel about Phil, who relates the events of his 17th year as he falls in love for the first time with the beautiful and mysterious Nickolas. Phil has been an outsider for as long as he can remember -- from the moment his mother arrived in that small German town, pregnant and alone. He and his twin sister have only known that their father lives in America, and so on their own live in a decaying mansion outside a town where no one understands them. Now 17, Phil's life begins to change in major ways when he discovers he's fallen in love with a local soccer player, Nicholas. His best friend Kat jealously fights for Phil's attention, while Phil struggles to hide his love relationship at Nicholas' request. Soon, life will take an unexpected turn for Phil as he is faced with the ultimate betrayal.

Ready, Set Preschool!
Anna Jane Hays
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375825193, $16.95, 34 pages,

Starting preschool can be an enormous source of anxiety. But with "Ready, Set, Preschool!" children can get ready for his or her first day with confidence. From saying goodbye without tears to sharing and taking turns, Early Childhood Publishing Expert, Anna Jane Hays, delivers an accessible educational picture and activity book for toddlers and their parents. Through stories, poems, and activities, Hays culls the most important skills a child can have upon entering preschool. Children can learn about a typical classroom setting, while enjoying delightful tales about the friendships, early learning concepts, and challenges they will face. Parents and children can enjoy school-day preparations like buying school shoes and stuffing a backpack with new school supplies. Notes to parents at the back of the book share the purpose of each story, poem, and activity and offer suggestions on the most effective way to use them with their children.

Leslea Newman
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385731981, $15.95, 240 pages,

The suburbias are synonymous with security and white-picket fences. As summertime approaches, teenage girls will be hitting the beach in tiny bikinis and handing out in the shortest of shorts. But are they attracting more than the eyes of the boys their own age? The romanticized notion of suburbia is thrown for a loop in critically-acclaimed author Leslea Newman's powerful new novel "Jailbait." As she did in her groundbreaking picture book "Heather Has Two Mommies," Newman again tackles a subject not often addressed in children's literature: the serious issue of sex between a minor and a much older man, and what happens to the psyche of a teenage girl who finds herself in the heart of an illegal situation. For older teens only.

Carl Hiaasen
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375821821, $18.99, 266 pages,

You know it's going to be a rough summer when you spend Father's Day visiting your dad in the local lockup. Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor-which has made taking a dip at the local beach like swimming in a toilet. He can't prove it though, and so he decides that sinking the boat will make an effective statement. Right. The boat is pumped out and back in business within days and Noah's dad is stuck in the clink. Now Noah is determined to succeed where his dad failed. He will prove that the Coral Queen is dumping illegally . . . somehow. His allies may not add up to much-his sister Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a greedy sot with poor hygiene; Shelly, a bartender and a woman scorned; and a mysterious pirate-but Noah's got a plan to flush this crook out into the open. A plan that should sink the crooked little casino, once and for all. Hiaasen's second novel for kids is flush with quirky characters and plotting, but isn't quite the "Hoot" that his book #1 proved to be.

Eldest: Inheritance Book II
Christopher Paolini
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 037582670X, $21.00, 704 pages,

"Eldest" is the highly-anticipated sequel to Christopher Paolini's #1 New York Times bestseller Eragon. With a first printing of one million copies, Knopf hopes this book two in Paolini's "Inheritance Trilogy" will establish a new series to modestly rival "Harry Potter." Upon its initial release in hardcover in August 2003, Eragon quickly went from self-publishing obscurity to worldwide publishing phenomenon, spending 85 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. "Eldest" will be released simultaneously from Listening Library unabridged on cassette and CD and will be narrated by actor Gerard Doyle, who also narrated the Eragon audiobook. The CD and cassette will carry suggested retail prices of $55 and $45 respectively.

Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, and Crescents
Mark Podwal
Doubleday / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 038574689X, $15.95, 32 pages,

"With wonders and miracles, the sky over Jerusalem touches the world below," begins Mark Podwal's new picture book, "Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, and Crescents." The holy city is rendered through vivid paintings and poetic verse with the intention of inspiring readers of all ages and religions. Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike call Jerusalem home, and this unique celebration of its rich history and enduring people is a beautiful ode to the majestic place. The ancient legends and Bible stories are feted through the gentle prose and paintings, and open the door for discussion as it illuminates the famed city as a place of peace and hope.

Rebel Angels
Libba Bray
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385730292, $16.95, 550 pages,

This young adult companion novel to the bestseller "A Great and Terrible Beauty" continues the story of Gemma Doyle and her friends Felicity and Ann. With Christmas approaching, the girls of Spence Academy are giddy with the thought of fancy balls, and future husbands. But Gemma's thoughts are filled with visions of three girls in white, desperate to have her help. And help means once again going back into the magical world of the Realms, where everything seems possible, and they can reunite with their beloved friend, Pippa. But evil lurks in the streets of London in a form the girls can't recognize, and soon Kartik is back urging Gemma to bind the magic that was unleashed in the Realms. For if the magix were to make its way into the hands of Circe, Gemma's greatest enemy and the person responsible for her mother's death, the world as everyone knows it would be a very dangerous place and so Gemma's quest begins in this riveting historical fiction gem.

Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to Make It Big
Bill Rancic
Razorbill / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 1595141030, $12.99, 144 pages,

Bill Rancic, the first winner of the NBC hit show The Apprentice, brings his business know-how to kids in "Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to Make it BIG." Inspired by the legions of young fans that continue to ask Bill questions about how he won The Apprentice and how they can be winners in business too, "Beyond the Lemonade Stand" coaches kids on how to succeed in business while being smart, fair, honest, and helping others. The book includes 20 kid-business ideas, each with five-step startups; words of advice from adult's at the top of their game; tales from kids who started their own successful businesses; and a build-your-own business worksheet that helps turn kids' business ideas into a reality. 100% of Bill's royalties from Beyond the Lemonade Stand will be going back to kids - half to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago where Bill volunteers as a tutor and mentor, and the other half to Alex's Lemonade Stand, which raises money for pediatric cancer research.

I, Coriander
Sally Gardner
Dial Books / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0803730993, $16.99, 288 pages,

In her own words, Sally Gardner is "hugely dyslexic." At 11, she changed her name from Sarah to Sally because the latter was easier to spell. As a child she says she was labeled unteachable, her reports called her lazy, and she spent time in a school for "maladjusted" children - a school which no longer exists in the United Kingdom today. It wasn't until much later that she was diagnosed as dyslexic. Miraculously, at age 14, she read her first book, Wuthering Heights using a very familiar trick - changing the name of Heathcliff to Henry. And this fall, despite her difficult history with dyslexia, she will publish her first young adult novel, "I, Coriander." Aided by her talent for creating complex stories in her head - something you don't have to read or write to do - Sally Gardner has followed a varied and successful career path from theater costume designer to children's book illustrator and, finally, to novelist. "I, Coriander" is a prime example of Sally Gardner's gift for creating imaginative, complex worlds that both terrify and delight. Part fairy tale, part historical novel, the story is told by Coriander, daughter of a silk merchant in 17th century London whose childhood and adolescence is touched by unexplained bits of wonder and heartfelt tragedy. When her idyllic life crumbles around her, Coriander must find the strength inside to determine her own fate - and that of the enigmatic fairy world that claims her as its own. In this new land, Coriander must embrace her magical heritage if she is to save herself, a fairy prince, the fairy kingdom, and the mortal world she left behind.

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg
Gail Carson Levine
Disney Press
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN: 0786834919, $16.99, 194 pages,

More than a new fairy tale by Gail Carson Levine, Newbery Honor-winning author of "Ella Enchanted," this is a new Disney franchise. It's the first title in a planned "Disney Fairies" line of books, films, etc. that maximizes public domain and copyrighted Disney characters. "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg" is the story of Tinker Bell and introduces a new group of fairies, each with a personality designed to appeal to young girls. They include feisty, big-hearted Tinker Bell; wise Mother Dove; and Prilla, the newest fairy to enter Fairy Haven. Prilla is a Clumbsy, an outsider not familiar with fairy etiquette or culture. Making matters worse, Prilla doesn't even know what her talent is - or if she has any talent at all. A diabolical hurricane, a selfish fairy, Captain Hook, snobby mermaids, a fierce golden hawk, and the evil dragon Kyto combine in a tantalizing elixir that tests Prilla's mettle, Mother Dove's wisdom, and Tink's courage. Disney's classic magic is at work here and the corporation's marketing's fingerprints are everywhere, so no pixie dust will be required to hatch this commercial smash.

Who's Under That Hat?
Sarah Weeks, illustrations
David A. Carter
Red Wagon Books / Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152054677, $13.95, 14 pages,

"Orange and furry and fierce and proud. A voice that's king-of-the-jungle loud. Who's under the TAN hat?" Animals pop to life as young children lift the hats in David A. Carter and Sarah Weeks' furry, shiny, squeaky novelty book for young children, called "Who's Under That Hat?" Who's hiding? Lift the flaps and find several secret visitors in this interactive riddle adventure with pop-up surprises, bright colors, textures, and a mirror to amuse and delight toddlers with every turn of the page. A delightful new pre-K addition to David A. Carter's innovative and charming pop-up creations.

Under the Jolly Roger
L.A. Meyer
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 015205345X, $17.00, 518 pages,

From a Boston finishing school to a whaling ship bound for London, the exploits of unlikely heroine Mary "Jacky" Faber of the Bloody Jack Adventures continue with the new hardback edition of "Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Misadventures of Jacky Faber." The surprise - as fans know - is that Jacky is a girl - or rather, a "Midshipman and Fine Lady." Her latest adventure begins when she leaves the Lawson Peabody School for Young girls in Boston and boards a whaling ship bound for London where she hopes to be reunited at last with her beloved Jaimy. But naturally, things don't go as planned, and soon she is off on an unexpected journey wrought with a kidnapping, a crazy captain, and a mutiny. Before she knows it, she's being called a pirate - with a price on her head.

Diary of a Spider
Doreen Cronin
illustrated by Harry Bliss
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060001534, $15.99, 32 pages,

In the wry new picture book spin-off for "Diary of a Worm," a charming eight-legged character goes about his week, just like any other. Readers learn that he's really cool and not scary at all, and he's more afraid of your big shoes than you are of him. Sure, he has eight legs, but he still goes to gym class and acts in his school play. Things are never boring with Spider…he's always trying new things like wind-catching lessons. Young readers might even learn a few things from him too, like that butterflies taste better with a little BBQ sauce. Cute. "Bridget Jones Diary" this is not, but then she only had two legs.

Hamster Champs
Stuart J. Murphy
illustrated by Pedro Martin
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060557729, $15.99, 32 pages,

Author Stuart J. Murphy travels all over the US talking to thousands of kids about math. He shows kids that they use math every day - to share a pizza, spend their allowance, even sort socks. His "Math start" series of picture books extend the conversation by using funny stories about math, and are geared to three different learning levels: ages 3 and up, ages 6 and up, and ages 7 and up. This latest entry for grade two students shows how enterprising hamsters can use a few blocks, a board, and a protractor to measure the angles, and build a ramp that lets them fly high. But will this stunt be good enough to outwit Hector the cat? An excellent addition to a very appealing and useful series.

Rotten School #1: The Big Blueberry Barf-Off
Rotten School #2: The Great Smelling Bee
R.L. Stine
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060785861
ISBN: 006078590X, $6.99,

I am very sorry to inform you that R.L. Stine - the creepy master of the "Goosebumps" chapter book series - has opened the doors to "The Rotten School" series, about a boarding school with disgustingly high standards for grossing out students and faculty alike. As displayed in the series' first two submissions - "The Big Blueberry Barf-Off" and "The Great Smelling Bee" - it also gets A's in abandoning each student's intellectual, moral and physical growth, and encouraging rivalry between two warring groups of students in the two dorms on campus: Rotten House, led by Bernie Bridges; and Nyce House, the home of goody-goody Sherman Oaks and Wes Updood. The school is guided by Headmaster Upchuck and a team of teachers, coaches and houseparents that are certified not in math, science, or English, but in fire safety, pest control and CPR. Book one, kicks off the laughs with Bernie Bridges hoping to retaliate against arch nemesis Sherman Oaks and his amazing gazillion dollar 42-functions watch, by entering the grosses pie-eating contest the world has ever seen. Book two titillates the senses when a new transfer student arrives…named Gassy. 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.

Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers
Louise Rennison
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 006058937X, $15.99, 312 pages,

Georgia Nicolson is back and telling all in "Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers," the sixth book in the popular, #1 New York Times series by Louise Rennison. This time, Georgia can't wait to visit Hamburger-a-gogo land (otherwise known as America) so she can finally track down her scooter-riding Italian dreamboat, Masimo (a.k.a., the "Luuuve God"). And for support, she drags best friend Jas along with her. But her hopes are temporarily dashed when she learns that Manhattan and her Italian Stallion (currently in Memphis, Tennessee) are more than two inches away, as the mile scale on the map had led her to believe. Full of laugh-out-loud British humor, this book will satisfy Georgia fanatics not yet tired of the slang gimmick and chick-lit-junior format. For ages 12 and up.

The Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins
Elizabeth Doyle Carey
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316736902, $10.99, 264 pages,

The first book in the "Callahan Cousins" series introduces Neeve, Phebe, Kate and Hillary, the 12-year-old Callahan cousins during their summer on Gull Island. They descend upon their grandmother Gee's rambling seaside estate for a whole summer, that is…without any parents! Shenaigans ensue as the girls quickly find themselves caught up in an old rivalry involving a lost island, ancient family lore, and eccentric islanders. The four cousins are determined to defend the Callahan family's honor, but will they end up as family heroes or will they get themselves sent home? A nice, light-reading choice for girls 9-12 who enjoy similarly wholesome series.

The Year I Lost My Popularity!
Leigh Anne Kidwell
ISBN: 1413783767, $16.95,

Two weeks before 13-year-old Elizabeth starts the eighth grade, her family abruptly moves to a different town. Now, instead of being part of the popular group she has known most of her childhood, she'll be the new kid in town. Elizabeth's new locker partner, Mae, quickly becomes a good friend. as does Chris, the ex of Ashley, the captain of the cheerleading squad. Naturally, this ruffles Ashley's feathers, so she jealously rallies much of the eighth grade against Elizabeth, effectively rejecting her from the A-list at Barksdale Middle School, including (duh) cheerleading squad. This self-published middle-grade problem novel could have benefited from a diligent editor.

Almost Everything
Joelle Jolivet
Roaring Brook Press / Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN: 1596430907, $19.95, 32 pages

Sequoia, tulip and fern. Sardine, grizzly bear, and ostrich. Brain, heart, and heel. Anvil, chisel, and plunger. Hundreds of objects from the world around us are presented in thematic groupings in the giant-sized pages of this huge picture book. Trees and flowers, animals, the human body, construction equipment, cars, trains, and more. Every familiar and exotic item is handsomely illustrated, labeled, and described in six pages of notes that complete the book. Despite the almost non-existent text, "Almost Everything" contains a wealth of information in its great detail, and the scope, variety, and number of items featured makes for hours of browsing and discovery. It's sheer beauty alone is mesmerizing.

Julius Anteater, Misunderstood
Lynn Rowe Reed
Roaring Brook Press / Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN: 1596430427, $15.95, 32 pages

All Julius wants is some ants for lunch. Just a quick bite. Just an any. Or maybe 15. So why does he end up at school, in a car chase with police and as the town hero? Lynn Rowe Reed's high energy, playful, post-modern picture book search for anta and understanding is a rollicking romp for even the most antsy lap reader.

The Spelling Bee and Me: A Real-Life Adventure in Learning
Gail Small
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blve. Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
ISBN: 1578862574, $14.95, 80 pages,

This book documents the real-life story of Kendra Yoshinaga, a young speller who won her first qualifying bee at the young age of nine. Now only ten years old, she is preparing for her future bees after tying for 27th in the 2004 National Spelling Bee. Gail Small, author of Joyful Learning: No One Ever Wants To Go To Recess!, taught Kendra for first, second, and third grades. Together they share a love of learning and discovery, and the challenges of new ideas, and share their story in this book's description of the spelling bee experiences from the youth's viewpoint. Young readers can delight in the world of spelling so it becomes a natural and exciting part of their lives, and builds their confidence as a speller. These distinctive methods are designed to inspire a love for spelling and language in lessons that go beyond everyday practice. Includes a detailed spelling guide.

Word World: Sheep's Magic Hat
Jacqueline Moody-Luther
illustrated by Paul Nicholls and Richard Codor
Running Press
125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
ISBN: 0762419911, $11.95, 12 pages,

Word World is a new line of preschool books and toys designed to make reading fun in the competitive emergent reader category. Introducing the line is "Sheep's Magic Hat," an oversized board book with 30-plus interactive lift-the-flap components. Inside kids will meat Bear, an artist and storyteller, as she leads her friends on word-building adventures through Word World's rolling hills. Joining the menagerie is Sheep, Frog, Pig, and Dog, each with their own teaching talents and with bodies made up of the letters that spell their names. Together they lead young pre-readers through problems that require hands-on solving with words, literally putting reading skills at their fingertips.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

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

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