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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 6, Number 10 October 2007 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vicki's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Cowper's Bookshelf

Ruby Slippers Cookbook
Amy Cyrex Sins
Privately Published
1937 Veterans Blvd., Suite 130, Metairie, LA 70005
097851470X, $35.00

Recipient of the 2006 Gourmand Award, the "Ruby Slippers Cookbook" is an impressive compilation of Creole and Cajun recipes showcasing the kind of cuisine that made New Orleans famous. But author Amy Cyrex Sins offers even more as she also includes photographs and stories of a post-Katrina chronicle of the people who had to endure the unendurable, then build back up a city that was almost totally destroyed. It should be noted that a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the "Ruby Slippers Cookbook" will be donated to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. With recipes ranging from Crawfish Boil; Oyster and Artichoke Soup for a Really Large Crowd!; and Sweet Potato Ravioli; to Strawberry and Spinach Salad; Peanut Butter Fudge; and Drago's Grilled Oysters, "Ruby Slippers Cookbook" is an impressive and highly recommended culinary tribute to the spirit and cuisine of the people of Louisiana in general, and New Orleans in particular!

Organic Cooking
Nancy Philips & Matthew Haupt
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
PO Box 8095, Fedhaven, FL 33854
9781425912352, $24.99 1-800-280-7715

An impressive compendium of 300 recipes and a variety of healthy meal plans that feature all organic ingredients, "Organic Cooking" offers original and delicious drinks, satisfying breakfasts, tasty lunches, succulent side dishes, sumptuous seafood, palate-pleasing vegetarian dinners, and delicious desserts. Of special note is the menu plan for a Thanksgiving Holiday feast that includes an organic turkey! With recipes ranging from a non-alcoholic Detox Cocktail; Calamari-Apple Salad with Herbs & Vinegars; Maple-Baked Sweet Potato with Kale & Beets; and Summer Shrimp & Salad with Coconut Dressing; to Strawberry-Mango Whip on Toasted Genesis Bread; Onion Rings & Sweet Potato with Soy Parmesan Tomatoes, Starfruit, & Salad; Five-Layer Spring Rainbow Fruit Pie; and Hot-Chocolate-Cinnamon Mocha Drink, "Organic Cooking" is a culinary cornucopia of good eating and an enthusiastically recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Barefoot Girl Out of Ohio
Carole Estrup
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595436941, $25.95

Barefoot Girl Out of Ohio: A Memoir of Survival and Overcoming is the true-life memoir of a woman who suffered terrible, long-lasting scars from the physical and sexual abuse she endured while growing up during the Great Depression. Betrayed by the relatives that should have protected her - parents, grandparents, and uncle - she turned to art and music to survive. Though she struggled to escape her nightmare existence, the wounds inflicted on her drew her on a self-destructive path. One marriage an abusive artist led to mental collapse and divorce; another marriage to a sadistic cult leader ended only after he threatened to kill her and her children. At last she found a steadfast husband, but the trauma she had coped with all her life left her with devastating anxiety and depression. In the safety of a remote dwelling in the mountains, she at last had to face herself, and the childhood stolen from her. A profound and inspirational story of the struggle to overcome a legacy of personal suffering.

Dancing Backward in Paradise
Vera Jane Cook
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
Kelley & Hall (publicity)
Five Briar Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945
9780595388714, $19.95

Dancing Backward in Paradise is the debut novel of award-winning theater actress Vera Jane Cook, about one young women's quest to find herself in "Paradise" - New York City in the 1960s, a place beset by hippies, ambition, and the turbulence of the civil rights era. At first, nineteen-year-old trailer park resident Grace Place enjoys amorous trysts with her lover, Lenny Bean, more than anything else; but urged by her mother to seek fame and fortune in New York City, she works as a cleaning lady for the wealthy Betty Ann Houseman. When her lover betrays her and seeks to steal Betty Ann's estate, Grace is shocked, yet remains intent upon fulfilling her mother's wish and seeing New York City with her best friend, Ginny Jo. Together they will discover unforgettable surprises in this Eric Hoffer Award-winning novel. Highly recommended.

Flying Between Heaven and Earth
Gina E. Jones
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425730567, $22.99

Former flight attendant and later founder of the spiritual message-delivering company "Scene The Light Productions" Gina E. Jones presents Flying Between Heaven and Earth, an original novel of angels set in the bustling modern day. As the divine cosmic plan for the Earth nears its 2012 culmination, as predicted in the Mayan Sacred Calendar, global chaos, bizarre weather, worldwide terrorism, and an increased fear of flying permeate the world. Infinity Airways, an airline operated entirely by angels, strives to move people toward their higher purpose and aid spiritual evolution through opportunities to balance their heavy karmic and emotional baggage. Amid this divine work, one angel named Nicole, who volunteers to be an Infinity Airways flight attendant, unwittingly falls from grace when she becomes fully human. Caught in the war between Dark and Light, and enticed by the temptations of Darkness, she must learn to confront her human weaknesses and shortcomings in order to play her role to help save humanity in its final days upon Earth. An apocalypse story with a celestial twist, and a riveting read from cover to cover.

In Bad Taste?
Dr. Massimo Francesco Marcone
Key Porter Books
Six Adelaide Street East, 10th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5C 1H6
9781552638828, $22.95 1-800-788-3123

Food science professor Dr. Massimo Francesco Marcone, popularly dubbed the "Indiana Jones" of the food world, presents In Bad Taste?: The Adventures and Science Behind Food Delicacies, a behind-the-scenes look at some of the rarest and most bizarre edible commodities. From a rare type of coffee brewed from beans that have been excreted through the digestive system of a catlike Indonesian creature, to edible Malaysian bird nests, In Bad Taste? examines the question: why do people eat these unusual foods, and exactly what is it that makes a food a delicacy - its rarity, the bizarreness of its origins, or simply that others are willing to pay a lot of money to eat it? Or is there some other, truly quantifiable difference? A palatably wonderful tour of culinary oddities enthusiastically recommended for armchair gourmets and anyone curious about the most unusual dishes celebrated as food worldwide.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Single Person's Cookbook
Tony Wilkins
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425744175, $23.99

A single man over the age of 40, Tony Wilkins incorporates anecdotal commentary along with his recipes in "The Single Person's Cookbook: Lessons In Life, Love And Food". Featuring a culinary wealth of simple but elegant recipes ranging from Chinese Chicken Salad, to full mealtime menus like 3 Mushroom Soup, Filet Mignon with Balsamic Vinegar and Goat Cheese, Herbed Potatoes, Roasted Grape Tomatoes, "The Single Person's Cookbook" offers dishes and menu selections to please any palate while satisfying any appetite. The personalized commentaries add a very special garnish to the presentation of the recipes. This is one cookbook that would be especially appropriate for the kitchen cookbook collections of men and women who cook for themselves, as well as occasionally for their company.

The Revenge of Little Crow
Steven M. Ulmen
Privately Published
3711 Willow Heights Drive SW, Rochester, MN 55902
9780615148847, $14.95

The prequel to Steven Ulman's western novel "Toby Ryker", The Revenge of Little Crow is a historical fiction novel that deals with the Great Sioux Uprising in Minnesota in 1862, and the subsequent execution by hanging of 38 Sioux warriors, the largest legally sanctioned mass execution in the history of the United States. Toby Ryker himself is half Indian, and torn between the clash of Indian and white cultures as raids, threats, and violence mount. At times tense, The Revenge of Little Crow is vivid in its depiction of cultural antagonism and eye-for-an-eye justice, and is a keenly whetted tale from cover to cover.

A Bull In A Glass House
Jose Astorga
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432703875, $11.95 1-888-672-6657

"A Bull In A Glass House" by Jose Astorga (a 47 year old former Marine who works every day to support his family in the private sector) has one clarion message for the reader -- life is far too short to spend every working day in misery. To avoid endemic and chronic workplace unhappiness, Astorga provides a personal perspective on how to go about achieving and maintaining both professional and personal success. A job can be a challenge, an adventure, a means of expression and achievement. It can also be a quagmire of frustration, of failure, of dehumanization. "A Bull In A Glass House" is a superbly written and deftly presented descriptive analysis of the paradox of corporate expectations and basic human behavior. Cogent advice is provided for avoiding the hazards and pitfalls that beset any corporate enterprise from incompetent bosses, to defective policies, to unrealistic expectations. Also available in a hardcover edition (1-4327-0400-1, $19.95), "A Bull In A Glass House" is informed, insightful, and inspiring reading that is recommended for anyone in business and a welcome addition to personal, professional, business school, and community library reference collections and supplemental reading lists..

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

90 Day Wonder
Leon Cooper & Don Tait
Privately Published
PO Box 6030, Malibu, CA 90265
9780979058417, $19.95

Based on author Leon Cooper's personal experiences as an American naval officer during World War II, "90 Day Wonder: Darkness Remembered" is a compelling military biography that flows with the engaging qualities of first rate story telling, all of which was written down with the assistance of successful screen and television writer Don Tait. The term '90 Day Wonder' referred to the speed with which First Lieutenants were being turned out as America plunged into war. Leon Cooper was Boat Group commander for his ship, leading Higgins Boats carrying assault troops in a number of invasions of Japanese-held islands and experienced first-hand many battle experiences where he was in mortal danger. But nothing was to prove so dangerous as his commanding officer Captain Boda -- a long-serving enlisted man with a battlefield commission who bitterly resented college graduates like Cooper who received their commission after only 90 days of training. Many confrontations between Cooper and Boda were to result in Boda's arbitrary punishment in all 'Captains Masts' cases. Boda's dislike of Cooper went so far as to Boda's ordering the unfortunate lieutenant and several of his shipmates to carry out a reckless command intended to kill them. Cooper avoided death, but several of his shipmates did not. Cooper went outside of the regular military chain of command to report Boda to the Naval High Command. Only the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima saved Cooper from almost certain death at the hands of his embittered commanding officer. "90 Day Wonder" continues Cooper's personal story after the war as Cooper's dying wife made him promise that he would leave vengeance against Boda to the Lord. It was a bizarre, unexpected and unlooked for development that would allow Cooper to even the score with Boda while keeping his promise to his wife. "90 Day Wonder" is a terrific read and the stuff of which legendary movies are made!

Silent River, Empty Night
Ralph Salimpour, M.D., D.C.H., F.F.A.P.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, 515, Parker, CO 80134
S.J. Miller Communications (publicity)
10 Turning Mill Lane, Randolph, MA 02368
9781432701819, $15.95 1-888-672-6657

Silent River, Empty Night: Diary of a Pediatrician in Iran is true-life memoir of pediatrician Ralph Salimpour, internationally recognized as an expert in treating tetanus, malnutrition, and rickets especially, who has practiced medicine on three continents over the course of fifty years, for royalty and impoverished alike. An Iranian Jew, Dr. Salimpour reminisces upon his personal and professional life, how his birthplace was destroyed, his efforts to help children in need regardless of the odd hours or unusual circumstances to which he was called, and how he learned to love his adopted nation of the United States. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this behind-the-scenes portrayal of practicing medicine under a wide variety of ever-changing conditions, and watching the field undergo tremendous advances.

The ABC's of Becoming Super Parents
Gerald P. Berner M.D.
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533154906, $12.95 1-212-736-1767

Pediatrician Gerald P. Berner presents The ABC's of Becoming Super Parents: Opening the Door to the Best Children and a More Civilized Society, a guide to the parental skills needed in correspondence to a child's stages of growth, from infancy to legal adulthood. Freudian terms are invoked; The ABC's of Becoming Super Parents is grounded strongly in traditional psychology as well as sound parenting advice. "Prior to bedtime, allow no TV or games, no roughhousing with the kids, just a quiet time, perhaps reading or telling a story to them. If the child acts scared to stay alone, Mom or Dad can stay a while, gradually shortening such stays each night. Only on the occasion that the child acts ill or extremely frightened, as after a night terror, should the child sleep with the parent. If out of extreme fear of being alone or for any other reason the child will not sleep at all, then the pediatrician should be consulted." A fundamental building-block guide to raising healthy and well-adjusted children.

Faithful Journey
Warren Lamb
Pleasant Word
c/o WinePress
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
46 Phillipsburg/Irvine, CA 92620
9781414108223, $17.99

Journalist and Presbyterian church member Warren Lamb presents Faithful Journey, a novel based on events in the Biblical Acts of the Apostles. Narrated through a series of fictional, first-person voices that observe and embellish upon Luke's timeless story of the early years of Christianity, Faithful Journey is meant to be more than an enthralling tale in its own right - it was also written to inspire the reader to personally read the Bible. Told with equal measures of flair and solemn respect for holy scripture, Faithful Journey is highly recommended reading both for its spiritual and its adventure-laden qualities.

Able Greenspan

Klausner's Bookshelf

Vorpal Blade
John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781416521297 $25.00 1-800-223-2336

Several years have passed since the quantum physics experiment at the University of Central Florida destroyed the area and opened a gateway into other dimensions that allowed the Dreen to invade the earth. Only physicist Dr. William Weaver and Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller with rednecks and some real army prevented the deadly Dreen from annihilating the planet (see INTO THE LOOKING GLASS).

Doc Weaver places a captured alien star drive onto a nuclear submarine creating earth's first starship, the VORPAL BLADE. Captain Steven Blankemeier and Commander Clay White are to head an exploratory expedition into worlds devastated by the Dreen in order to learn more about this malevolent species and the so called other interstellar races who came to the earth prepared to destroy it once the planet was Dreen contaminated; the theory is basic human instinct to know all you can in this case about the dreaded demons before they and the "friendly" benign others return.

Combining quantum physics with MacGyver ingenuity in space, the sequel to INTO THE LOOKING GLASS, VORPAL BLADE is an exciting military science fiction thriller that never slows down for a nanosecond; as the action-packed story line is faster than the alien engine can propel a craft through space. Although the vernacular of the kick butt military during the zillion battle scenes reminds this reviewer of my late mother-in-law's use of profanity when she cut a finger or stubbed a toe ("your father's mustache"), readers will go where mankind has never gone before with the prime directive to interfere in order to prepare for the anticipated return engagement.

The Mongoose Deception
Robert Greer
Frog, Ltd
c/o North Atlantic Books
1435 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781583941928 $25.95 1-800-788-3123

An earthquake opens up a hole behind the catwalk of the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel enabling Cornelius McPherson to find the well preserved arm of Antoine Ducane, who disappeared several decades ago. McPherson identifies the dead man from his unique tattoo just like he still remembers the deceased telling him that he knew who killed JFK. McPherson talks about this, which leads to a Mafia Don calling for a hit.

The Don is the estranged nephew of former Don Mario Santoni, a friend of bail bondsmen and antiquities dealer CJ Floyd. Mario worries that the FBI will knock down his door because he had been irate with the organized crime efforts of the president's brother back in the 1960s, but was not involved in the assassination. When MacPherson is murdered, the FBI and a Denver detective investigate; Mario's nephew plants evidence to prove his uncle caused the present murder to cover up the 1963 plot. CJ refuses to allow his friend to take the fall so he vows to protect Mario and uncover the truth of who tried to kill JFK in Chicago and Tampa before succeeding in Dallas; unaware that his opposition consists of powerful elitists who rule in the shadows and want the truth to remain interred with any who try to reveal the truth buried too.

THE MONGOOSE DECEPTION is a terrific conspiracy thriller that takes the audience back to 1963 with the premise that two failed attempts to kill JFK occurred before Dallas. The story line focuses on the abuse of power, past and present, as even Mafia Dons are at times puppets to these fiercely faceless forces pulling the strings of a nation even if breaking all the rules is their acceptable norm (this pre-Neocon philosophy is the end justifies the mean). There is plenty of action and CJ is a fascinating hero although his motive to be David confronting an unknown horde of Goliaths seems unlikely, Robert Greer makes it plausible with the best conspiracy tale since THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

A Place to Call Home
Martha Randolph Carr
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York,14228-2197
9781591025108 $26.00

Martha Randolph Carr makes a strong case that the Victorian image painted by Dickens of orphanages is untrue in modern day America. Instead the author believes that residential education facilities (REFs) are safe nurturing places to raise orphans and troubled youth that are as good and in many ways superior to foster care as many provide needed counseling. The founder of the Shared Abundance Foundation that provides scholarships to orphans, Ms. Carr uses anecdotal evidence including that of her son to argue that REFs should be considered a prime option for at risk children especially since they are cheaper and provide professional help. Interestingly the anecdotes lead to an inspiring somewhat autobiographical account as the story of Ms. Carr and her son will touch readers more so than her support of REFs. Still A PLACE TO CALL HOME will add to the debate of what is nest for an orphaned or troubled child as Ms. Carr brings REFs into the social conscience of choice

The Lace Reader
Brunonia Barry
978079159305 $14.95

Feeling like she is suffering from Battle Fatigue Syndrome, the emotionally shook up Towner Whitney has survived several recent traumas. To regain her equilibrium and mentally heal, she returns to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts where generations of ancestors have told fortunes.

However, Towner is almost immediately stunned when her beloved great-Aunt Eva, the renowned lace reader, vanishes in what some believes is an unfortunate accident, but Towner suspects foul play. The police ignore her concerns as she has a history of hallucinatory visions although cop John Rafferty leads the inquiry to insure a murder did not occur as is done with all questionable disappearances if workload allows it. Although he thinks Towner is a nut case he also is attracted to her so as she grieves her loss, he begins to uncover facts about the weird Whitney brood past and present as well as starting to think that Eva was murdered.

THE LACE READER is a terrific paranormal police procedural in which fans will appreciate the rotating various perspectives as unreliable sources provide unreliable accounts of the same incident. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the changing viewpoints in which John and the audience wonder who if anyone got it right especially the three generations of Whitneys who agree on almost nothing. Brunonia Barry provides an enjoyable mystery in which relativity is not an exact science and a fact requires extrapolation from the sources who agree on little. This is a winner.

Northern Thunder
Andy Harp
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781890862534 $25.00 1-800-637-7377

Staunch Stalinist Peter Nampo lives in North Korea; he wants to make it a power to be reckoned with and a moneymaker for its satellite weapon system that he is developing. Once in geo-orbit, it can knock out other countries satellites and spread radiation on its enemies; he plans to sell it to terrorists and rogue nations for hard cash to feed the population that is on the verge of starvation.

Nampo is such a VIP that he is a never in the open unless it is with his three doubles; a North Korean assassin is killing all the scientists around the globe that are near completion on the weapons system. Rear Admiral Julius Krowl of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is aware of the situation and sends Reserve Colonel Will Parker, the only western man who knows what Nampo looks like to get inside North Korea and figure out which of the doppelgangers is the real Nampo in order to take a picture. He prepares for the mission under grueling conditions but he also makes preparation to make sure his back is covered if he is successful.

Readers of fast paced, adrenaline pumping military thrillers that keep the audience attention throughout will thoroughly enjoy NORTHERN THUNDER. Each main character is well developed and understandable even the villains (who consider themselves the good guys patriots and our side the villains) who hate the United States. Surprisingly, China is portrayed as a gentle giant trying to keep its wayward child under control. Andy Harp knows how to create a good story that is germane to the times.

Fools Rush In
Ed Gorman
9781933648323 $24.00

In June 1963 in suburban Black River Falls, Iowa, Judge Esme Anne Whitney assigns attorney and private investigator Sam McCain to end the shenanigans of a blackmailer who may derail the reelection of white Senator Williams, whose daughter is seeing a Negro David Leeds. Sam goes to the cabin of the extortionist photographer Richie Neville only to find him dead from two close-up shots to his face and nearby also killed is Leeds.

The American heartland has not been directly impacted by the civil rights movement that has the Freedom Riders all over the south and the nation listening to Negro demands for equality in DC. In Iowa, Sam quickly realizes just below the surface of calm lies plenty of anger and resentment as a black male does not date a white female. However, he also sees another scenario possible as Sam finds wads of money and photos of other victims; he ponders whether one chose to make remittance by murdering the blackmailer with the Negro being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The police want him to stay out of their case although he expects some sort of whitewashing of the truth.

Sam's seventh song titled civil rights era mystery (see BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO and EVERYBODY'S SOMEBODY'S FOOL) is a terrific whodunit. However, it is the small town relatively serene Iowa backdrop that enables the audience to witness the demands for freedom in 1960s America; this seemingly out of the way from the prime civil rights focus allows readers to understand the scope of the movement. Ed Gorman once again combines a fine murder investigation with a touch of nostalgia inside of the grand scale of the local, regional, and national freedom marches that changed America.

The Immortals: The Gathering
Jennifer Ashley
Love Spell
9780505526885 $6.99

The missing Immortal brother Hunter is summoned, but ends up caged with a lion on an isolated island. Irate hermit Leda Stowe, a witch, who prefers no contact with Immortals, humans, or her own kind, demands he leave even as she is attracted to her uninvited guest. Hunter wants Leda, but has no time to seduce the bewitching beauty as there is a world to save.

Hunter tries to reconnect with three of his Immortal brothers for what he knows will prove a distasteful war as the enemies are his insane sibling brother Tain, who vanished centuries ago, and his demon master. With Leda at his side along with three of his brothers and their women, and a horde of witches, shapeshifters, and vampires, they go off the fight a more powerful foe.

Book four of this terrific romantic fantasy finishes off the complex tale of good vs. bad with a world at stake. Leda is a unique protagonist who brings freshness to the mix with her disdain of sentient beings although she self loathingly is attracted to the Immortal hunk. Jennifer Ashley who began the Immortals (with CALLING followed by Robin T. Popp's DARKENING and Joy Nash's AWAKENING) completes this excellent saga with a mesmerizing ending.

Elspeth McKendrick
Love Spell
9780505527394 $6.99

In 1939 Sophie de Havilland left London to leave her past behind her. She traveled to Berlin, Germany to live with her aunt. However, she is amazed as to how far Hitler and the Third Reich rebuilt a country that was reeling from the Great War and subsequent peace and world Depression.

She enjoys the night life especially the cabarets in swinging Berlin with the handsome SS officers, but also hears stories of atrocities by inhumane people. Her aunt had warned her to go back to England but Sophie failed to heed what she now believes is sage advice. She begins to think of the Nazis as murderous demons especially these out of the world SS hunks that Himmler ordered to procreate with Aryan females; she had once desired these perfect male specimens. Desperate she turns to a blue eyed half-American for help in escaping the murderous treacherous regime, but begins to have doubts about he is who he claims to be as she considers he may be undercover Gestapo seeking to find doubters.

PERFIDIA is an entertaining WWII romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment the Nazis invade Poland and never lets up until the final attempt to escape the violent regime. The story line is fast-paced as Sophie lands in one mess after another while too easily rescuing friends from the invincible all mighty Gestapo, who are every where, yet unable to deal with an inexperienced young female. Still historical romance fans will enjoy this vivid strong look from inside the Third Reich as seen mostly through the eyes of a former admirer who observing first hand the atrocities becomes an enemy of the state.

Doesn't She Look Natural?
Angela Hunt
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414311692 $13.99 1-800-323-9400

Jennifer Graham once tasted power as the chief of staff to a US senator. However, during a nasty divorce, she was forced to resign her position as she became a liability to her employer. Jennifer obtained custody of their two children but is forced to live with her mom to keep expenses down while she seeks employment.

Soon afterward, Jennifer inherits Fairlawn funeral home in Florida. Her plan is to visit Fairlawn in order to sell it as soon as possible so that she can try to return to behind the scenes of power in Washington DC. However, the best laid plans of mice, men and Jennifer Graham often go astray.

This is an amusing inspirational tale as Jennifer feels like a fish out of water in Florida while the kids feel at home even in the funeral home. The story line is character driven by Jennifer as she tries to balance what her kids need with her desires and aspirations. Although rotating between the first (mostly from Jennifer) and third person can feel disjointed, fans will enjoy the DC big shot used to hiding the bodies now dressing up the bodies (sort of a reverse Karl Rove).

Snow Angel
Jamie Carie
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North, MSN 114, Nashville, TN. 37234
9780805445336 $14.99

In 1897 in an isolated section of the Alaskan territory, Noah Wesley stays warm in his heated cabin while a blizzard rages outside. However, he soon hears a noise at his door that he initially thinks is his imagination of being alone and then considers a wild animal. He cautiously takes a look outside encouraged by what he assumes is the voice of God speaking inside his head. He is stunned to find an unconscious half frozen female angel who he fears if she survives the weather might still suffer frostbite.

He takes Elizabeth into his home, but soon believes this brittle woman will try anything as she asks Noah to take her to the gold fields so she can search for gold. Still he feels the fierce climate will send her scurrying to the lower Forty-eight while trying to convince to give up on the gold fever. Elizabeth rejects his contention that she is to delicate to survive the wilderness while hiding her real obsession for wanting to go to the gold fields from him though she is falling in love with this man whom she trusts with her life but not her objective; at the same time someone searches for her as they have for over two decades.

The "divine" matchmaking romance between Noah and Elizabeth and the mystery subplot enhance a terrific look at Alaska during the frantic gold rush days of the late nineteenth century. SNOW ANGEL provides a vivid stark look at the wintry climate in which the weather is lethal for the unprepared. The lead couple is a strong pairing as he knows she is god sent to him and she loves and trusts him with her life and everything else except her reason for needing to go to the gold fields. Jamie Carie's debut is a wonderfully descriptive historical tale as the audience will wear woolen hats and gloves (in September) while reading this book.

Carolyn Haines
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778324171 $6.99

Since her daughter died two years ago, reporter Carson Lynch numbs the grief with vodka and work. Her career in the balance, Carson returns home to Biloxi, Mississippi hoping to regain her equilibrium on the local newspaper. Her assignments are minor league but palpable by her night time partner, a bottle of vodka.

However, a potential international story surfaces when five women wearing bridal veils and missing their ring finger are found buried in a parking lot; the work of a serial killer years ago. Soon afterward more corpses are found in the identical condition of those found buried in the parking lot. As the Biloxi police investigate the homicides, Carson does likewise.

Carson Lynch is terrific as she provides the audience with a first person investigative Noir in the vividly described setting of post Katrina Biloxi. She makes the whodunit fun to read as still struggles with her loss, which is only numbed by imbibing yet when she gets involved in what appears to be either a copy cat serial killer or a second round of homicides, she turns professional. Readers will enjoy her amusing dark asides and her dangerous investigative escapades on the streets of Biloxi.

Beg For Mercy
Toni Andrews
9780778323655 $6.99

In the Balboa Peninsular of California, Mercy Hollings believes her skill with the "presses" should be used by her to help other people through positive suggestions. Her plan is to assist people through hypnotherapy as she understands the need of cautiousness when manipulating others as controlling people is unethical and can lead to dangerous unintended consequences.

Mercy and her best friend Sukey have too much to drink. At a bar with Sukey she meets kind eyes Sam Falls. Intoxicated she misuses her gift to "presses" Sukey's odious boyfriend Rocko to behave nicer. However, her misuse has led to a series of steps that places her friends in danger. Meanwhile glib Dominic Dellarosa knows of Mercy's ability and her error; he also seems to know much about her past. He apparently wants to use her talent for his benefit; if she fails to adhere to his demand, Sukey will be the first to die, but he has angered her and she will show no mercy to anyone who steps inside her circle though Sam willingly takes the risk.

Although Rocko's annoying dialogue requires a mercy lobotomy, fans will enjoy this fine paranormal thriller. The story line is fast-paced especially when Rocko is off-stage as Mercy knows she crossed the ethics boundary by doing an amoral act even if she can rationalize her manipulation due to imbibing too much. Told mostly in the first person by the heroine, fans will appreciate the dilemma of too much power can at times corrupt the most conscientious ethical person.

Night Whispers II
Lauren Dane, Tawny Stokes, Bridget Midway & Devyn Quinn
9780979332791 $16.29

"Night Whispers" by Lauren Dane. Lisette agrees to hide her lover's half brother from his homicidal mother but she wants nothing more to do with Xander, the Vampire King. When a vampire attacks her, Xander turns his lover.

"Hot Gossip" by Tawny Stokes. Hot Gossip journalist Makayla wants a way to get even with Ethan for ditching her; her boss gives her the chance asking her to get the dirt on him. She enrolls in the Hot and Spicy Writer's Association held at the Mountain Resort. After a sexual encounter Mak is not thinking of the story but of the man she loves, who will ditch her when he learns the truth.

"Public Domain" by Bridget Midway. For the last six months they met once a week to have sex in public places. They don't even know each others real names. Tag says he wants more than just a sexual relationship so he stands Emmanuelle up. At a hotel he meets the maid Beulah who is his Emmanuelle. Bea intends to break it off with him because she plans to be a teacher and sex in public places would end her career.

"One Naughty Night" by Devyn Quinn. After her fiance Roger dumped her and married her best friend Cindy, Cecile stopped socializing. She misses sex so on a weekend night off; she decides to go to a bar to have a one night stand. She meets Ross who wears chains like the bikers do and has a tatoo. When she returns to work on Monday she meets her new boss Ross.

The erotic story lines are fast-paced though the plots are limited. Whereas the females have flaws that make them seem human, the males are not fully developed as they are too nice and perfect. Still erotica fans will appreciate these heated romances.

Reasonable Doubts
Gianrico Carofiglio
Bitter Lemon
9781904738244 $14.95

In Bari, Italy, convicted drug smuggler Fabio Paolicelli asks Guido Guerrieri to represent him on his appeal of a sixteen year sentencing. Guido looks at the trial in which Fabio's confession makes his guilt obvious. However, Fabio insists he was set up and that he admitted doing the crime to insure his wife Natsu Kawabata would not be on trial too. He also insists his lawyer Corrado Macr¨ worked for the opposition and not providing him with a good defense.

Guerrieri hesitates as he feels the appeal will fail because Fabio confessed, the man's past as a Fascist punk offers no redeeming quality to build from, and there is no lucid motive to forge a conspiracy to lock him away. However, upon meeting the exotic half-Japanese Natsu, Guido agrees to represent Fabio. As he constructs the defense, Guido cannot resist Natsu's lure even though he knows this is a morally wrong conflict of interest; they make love. If Fabio ever finds out and is freed from prison it could prove dangerous to his lawyer, who begins to wonder if he should throw the case too.

The legal thriller aspects are fascinating and cleverly devised, but that takes a back seat to the deep look at the ethics of the middle age attorney Guido. Readers will appreciate his realizations and rationalizations as he ponders between the best and worst defenses. Few sub-genre tales contain a better protagonist as he makes the tale worth reading with his fresh somewhat cynical spin (see INVOLUNTARY WITNESS).

Joshua Henkin
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780375424359 $23.95 1-800-726-0600

In late 1986, elitist Manhattanite Julian Wainwright attends Graymont College in Massachusetts for two reasons. First he needs to escape his loving stifling Ivy League parents although he loves them dearly; second he wants to study fiction writing under the tutelage of Professor Stephen Chesterfield. At the limited workshop, Julian and another student of the working middle class gene pool Carter Heinz become friends because they share in common the acceptance that the great Professor Chesterfield deems they might have some talent.

In the cafeteria Carter meets Pilar while in the laundry room Julian meets Mia Mendelson. Each becomes a couple although Carter begrudges Julian's upper class attitude. Over the next two decades, the pairs have trials and tribulations, but as the new millennium begins, Julian and Mia head to California where Carter reveals a secret that could destroy all their relationships.

This is an interesting look at relationships between friends and lovers starting in the second Reagan term up until the present. Readers get to understand what motivates Carter, Julian and Mia, however, major events in their lives never come across deep enough to comprehend what they do to the individual's needs. Still this is an entertaining character driven tale that focuses on the roller coaster rapport and discord between companions.

Alan Lightman
9780375421693 $23.00

David was a rising star at the bank where he worked receiving employee awards and verbal kudos until the day came when he was fired for the bank was reorganizing and he was redundant. It took him three months to find another job and that was as a mortuary assistant at a funeral home. One day while in the slumber room alone he sees a ghost and is totally freaked out.

The metaphysical was a myth to David's mathematical mind and as much as he tried to rationalize he knows he saw something that belongs to the supernatural realm. As word leaks as of what he saw, people beg him to get in touch with their loved ones; the Society for the Second World wants to use him as a spokesman to prove that there is a world beyond our own; and a group of college professors want him to say he saw nothing, repudiating what he believes. As David comes to terms with himself, he allows himself to believe in what he saw but wants to be left alone by those who want to use him

The protagonist sees something that shouldn't exist and he doesn't know how to deal with it. Various groups with their own agendas try to push him into believing their way but David proves to himself he is strong enough to listen, evaluate and not be influenced by anyone but himself. Through his ordeal, he also comes to terms with a past he idealized but wasn't what he thought it was. He realizes his mother was always a distant figure and his ex-wife lived in a state of unhappiness. Alan Lightman forces his audience to internalize and ponder the sources of their beliefs.

Magnetic Mansion
Forest Haskell
Top Publications
3100 Independence Parkway, Suite 311-359, Plano, TX,75075
9781929976423 $15.95

Peggy Sue Heikel asks her husband Zachary if he is willing to buy a cottage because she spots and ad for one in the local Ann Arbor paper . They go to Dexter to look at it and find it is a mini mansion and even though they are sure they can't afford it, Zach asks the owner the asking price. To their surprise Jake is only asking for $125,000 and the Heikels grab it up.

They divide their time between their two homes, but from the beginning they see strange things happen in the mansion; like faces in the mirror, sounds from the fireplace, doors on the floor of the basement, a dungeon and hidden rooms. By the time they sell their Ann Arbor house and move into the mansion, Zach sees a face that is not his own in the mirror and he sees a dog that nobody else does. They find a fortune in money in a secret room in a hidden safe . Green fog disturbs the animals and silverware seems to float in midair. Doctors give a scientific explanation for the otherworldly things and people they have seen but it doesn't take into account the phenomena the Heikel experienced.

Although the books start off slow and it takes a little while to understand the basis of the storyline, readers will thoroughly enjoy MAGNETIC MANSION, a seemingly haunted house tale that goes beyond the typical sub- genre typecasting. Zack is an interesting character who keeps his equilibrium while coping with unknown phenomenon and a mansion filled with hidden, secret passages, a hidden elevator and various escape routes throughout the house. Forrest Haskell is a dynamic storyteller who pushes the envelope on a storyline that can be interpreted in different ways.

The Secret Cardinal
Tom Grace
Vanguard Press
387 Park Avenue South,12th Floor,New York, NY 10016
9781593154561 $24.95

Nolan Kilkenny still mourns the loss of his wife Kelsey and their son Toby, but his father and close family friend the Cardinal Librarian of the Holy Roman Church Malachy Donaher arrange for him to modernize information flow. Kilkenny assumes the real mission is not to make more efficient and effective the link between the Vatican Library and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, but as an excuse to get him out of his home in Ann Arbor: it worked as he is in the Vatican.

However, dying Pope Leo XIV wants to use Kilkenny's other skills honed by his years as a US Navy SEAL as the Pontiff informs him that an atrocity has occurred in China against the outlawed underground church. Kilkenny doubts the veracity of the report as he figures if several hundred have been killed or just jailed, it would have made the TWISTED WEB of the Internet in QUANTUM time. However, he agrees to help bring to the Vatican the incarcerated Bishop of Shanghai Yin Daoming, who has spent three decades in prison for failing to denounce the Church; and who the Pope made a Cardinal twenty years ago in secret. Kilkenny begins an over the top plan using state of the art weapon and computer technology to perform the impossible mission. Competent Chinese Ministry of State Security intelligence agent Liu Shing-Li plans to prevent Kilkenny's dirty dozen from succeeding.

Kilkenny's latest escapade is a fabulous thriller that rotates the mission with the Vatican preparing for the papal succession that appears imminent. The key to the exciting story line is the formidable opponent as Liu is an intelligent capable adversary who has a strong team supporting him. Although the Vatican segue is well written and fascinating, those fans who prefer a thrill a page will find the interlude slowing down this suspense filled action-packed tale as Kilkenny is a BIRD OF PREY.

The Meeting of Anni Adams : The Butterfly of Luxembourg
Lonnie D. Story
ACW Press
9781932124262 $20.95

Born on Armistice Day in 1926 in Luxembourg, Anni Adams enjoyed traveling all over western and central Europe with her parents and siblings. By the time she was fourteen, she had been all over Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, and her home duchy. However, on the night of May 9, 1940 her wonderful world ended when the Blitzkrieg invaded the small Low Countries of Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg to use as a spring board to attack France from inside the Maginot Line. For the next few war years, Anni survived the ordeal of occupation and refugee camp living without knowing much about her family: for instance did her clown prince brother live especially since the Germans used him as an expendable pawn on the Russian front? She came out of the war a stronger person helped somewhat by meeting and marrying American GI Charlie Adams. She adapts to being a war bride stranger in a strange land as she and Charlie raise the Adams family (not of cartoon fame) in American until he passes away in 1998.

This fascinating biography enables the reader to see how a teen survived WWII Nazi occupation. Anni does so by mentally going in and out of her cocoon made up of loving family depending on circumstances. She as "the butterfly of Luxembourg" gives the audience a deep insight into life under the German occupation. The American segment of her journey is also well written and rounds out the bio, but like the early years pales next to the four years under the Nazis. THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS : THE BUTTERFLY OF LUXEMBOURG is a deep look at how people survive the most harrowing nightmarish experiences caused by inhuman humans.

When the Morning Comes
Cindy Woodsmall
WaterBrook Press
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400072934 $12.99 1-800-726-0600

In Owl's Perch, Pennsylvania following the break up with her beloved Mennonite fiance Paul Wadell after his betrayal left her reputation in ruins, Hannah Lapp leaves her family behind to live with her outcast Aunt Zabeth in Ohio. Her Amish father considers Hannah dead and her sister Sarah struggles with what she has done to her sibling. Paul wallows in guilt because he knows his actions not only destroyed Hannah's reputation, but their chance for a life together.

In Ohio, as Hannah tries to adapt to life amongst the English, Paul pleads with her brother Luke and her best friend Mary to inform him where she went so that he can atone for his sin. Meanwhile, Hannah begins to move on with help from her aunt and from handsome Martin Palmer.

The second Sisters of the Quilt tale is a fantastic tale that leads the audience to deeply feel for Hannah, but to a lesser degree the other Lapp family members and Paul. The story line is a tear jerker as readers will be so hooked they will want to offer solace and assistance to the heroine. Although it would help a bit to read Hannah's first tale (see WHEN THE HEART CRIES) to better understand the secondary characters like jealous Sarah, fans of modern day Amish tales will appreciate Cindy Woodsmall's fine character driven sequel.

Auralia's Colors: The Red Strand of Auralia's Thread
Jeffrey Overstreet
1400072522 $13.99

Except for her royal court, the Queen has outlawed all colors; thus the kingdom of Abascar is draped in dark gloomy grey as King Cal enforces his wife's decree.

Two old thieves, Krawg and Warney, exiled from the House Abascar as part of paying off societal debts, notice the activity of crows by the River Throanscall. They investigate only to find a girl sleeping like she was dead inside a strange footprint. They take the River Girl who tells them her name is Auralia to their criminal community. She shows a talent to bring out the enchanting colors hidden behind the grey in everything. Her skills reach the monarch and his queen as well as the rest of the Four Great Houses of the Expanse. Will the River Girl prove the savior of the houses or their destruction although some wise philosophers point out that if she never existed, there would be nothing to save the houses from.

The first Auralia Thread tale is a magical inspirational fairy tale fantasy that brings to life the Overstreet world filled with colorful creatures like beastmen, vawns and the enigmatic Keeper. The story line is fast-paced with an obvious homage towards Narnia. Auralia is a fascinating character who keeps the story line anchored as her re-coloring the kngdom puts her on a potentially lethal confrontation with King Cal who has implemented his wife's demand of a colorless realm.

Boo Humbug
Rene Gutteridge
9781400073535 $11.99

Encouraged to think outside the box by her theatre teacher Professor Watson, Lois Stepaphanolopolis dreams of a special production of A Christmas Carol for the Skary, Indiana theatre. Her plan is turn the Dickens' classic into a horror thriller.

She writes a play, but everyone involved with the Stepaphanolopolis rendition struggles to understand it; perhaps because several films have adhered to the original classic and those that took some license did not stray anywhere near afar as Lois is pushing. Still the residents of Skary want to rally around their playwright that is if they can comprehend the message of her strange version that has Charles Dickens would haunt Stepaphanolopolis if he could come back from the grave.

Rene Gutteridge's "Boo" tales are some of the best inspirational stories on the market today (see BOO and BOO WHO). The latest winner BOO HUMBUG focuses on the Skary townsfolk rallying in support of Lois although many think her concept is dumb and those who do not for the most part cannot understand what she is doing. Readers will appreciate this fine novel as it takes a village to change a classic.

Let Them Eat Cake
Sandra Byrd
9781400073276 $12.99

College graduate Lexi Stuart has graduated but has not found a job that she enjoys. That has not been a problem because she lives at her parents' home. However, they are moving into a retirement community within six months, which means the clock has run out and she needs meaningful employment.

Lexi converses in French during an interview with luscious Luc, the manager of L'Esperance Bakery, who offers her a job there. She accepts although the pay leaves her below the poverty level. While Luc seems interested in seeing Lexi outside the bakery, she finds everyone else thinks the job is beneath her. When she gets into an incident with an executive she declares her liberty from everyone's expectations except God while informing the obnoxious customer to let his guests eat cake.

Readers will smell the delightful odors of a French bakery as Sandra Byrd provides vivid descriptions that will have our olfactory senses in overdrive and are mouths salivating. The story line is at its most tasteful when plot focuses on the activity at the bakery. The romantic subplot feels off kilter as it is too sweet. Still fans will appreciate twenty-four years old Lexi as she learns she can't please everyone so she needs to please herself, which will help with discovering what to do with her life now that she's not a kid anymore.

The Blade Itself
Joe Abercrombie
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781591025948 $15.00 1-800-421-0351

While fleeing in the water to elude his deadly foes of man and beast, Logen Ninefingers the barbarian knows he will soon be dead. In the North the Shanka led by his former mentor has subjugated the other tribes through brutality and atrocities; he alone remains opposed, but flees towards the Midderland for safety. Meanwhile to the South, a Prophet has gathered the desert slavers to his side. The Empire prepares for war.

In the city of Adua in the Midderland government corruption and affluent indulgence is the norm. Thus the middle has lost control of the North and South to barbarians and mages. The wizards try to unite the people as the ancient enemy has returned, but people like Captain Jezal dan Luthar wants nothing to do with adventure and intrigue especially in the frozen north or the desert south; he is to busy drinking, cheating at cards, and chasing women to risk his life at what will prove to be a bloody war. The cripple Inquisitor Glokta notorious for torture, and his two associates, are killing the seditious government leaders, one at a time. He hopes to one day add Jezal to his resume. However, it is the actions of Bavaz the wizard who claims to be the First of the Magi, who shakes up the realm; or at least Logen, Jezal, and Glokta with his demanding raging orders that they fear to follow as he seems more fraud than genuine yet fear not to as his bite may prove worst than his violent bark.

Readers obtain an indirect taste of the Abercrombie world through the eyes of the major characters although never gain the full perspective beyond a frozen north, a desert south, and a major thriving city in the middle that is the link; but with the greedy and the powerful looking out for themselves, the realm is collapsing. The fascination with this Noir fantasy is the key cast members. The foursome is not epic heroes, but instead they are flawed to the point that the story line at times feels like an amusing satire of the Tolkien lite imitations. Not for everyone, THE BLADE ITSELF is carried by its deep characters, who tote more negatives than positives and may prove to cause the beginning of the end; these incredibly flawed souls make for a fresh and outstanding fantasy.

The Restorer's Son
Sharon Hinck
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
9781600061325 $14.99 1-800-366-7788

At the battle of Morsel Plains, the Children of the Verses defeated the Hazer army with the help of the Restorer Susan Mitchell, who came from earth to the world of her husband Mark via a portal in their attic (see THE RESTORER). When the couple returns to earth, they learn their son Jake also went through the portal so they go back to retrieve him. Susan is no longer the Restorer as that mantle and associated responsibility has passed on to Kieran, who refuses to perform the role.

Kieran and Jake meet when the former flees from the attacks of Kahlarian assassins. They travel together to the capital city of Lyric where Councilman Cameron tricks Kieran so that he looks like a traitor. They escape and Jake is left with the Braide Wood clan while the banished Kieran travels to Hazer. He fights against doing the bidding of the One until he finally accepts his fate. Eventually the new restorer, Jake, and his parents meet up just as hostilities seem imminent between Hazor and Lyric.

This enchanting fantasy is filled with plenty of action, political intrigue, sublime religious overtones that fit nicely into the storyline and exciting battle scenes. Susan's role has changed from when she was the Restorer as now she introduces the readers to her replacement. Having Kieran become the Restorer is ironic as he refused to be touched by the One's love. Hick's world is an interesting place in which the Creator shows his power in everyday life; the description of this orb is so vividly alive, readers will check their passports to see the stamp. Fans of Karen Hancock will enjoy the entertaining RESTORER'S SON.

On the Loose
Jenny B. Jones
Navpress Think
9781600061158 $12.99

Katie Parker is still adapting to living with her foster parents, Reverend James Scott and his wife Millie after living with a drug dealing mom who had no time or inclination to raise her. The teen actually finds she likes having rules and discipline; she enjoys the antics of her foster father who shouts at the TV and even the over the top antics of her foster mom, the ultimate obsessive person who wants everyone in her circle contented including Katie even if it means driving them to distraction. In other words Katie has had a taste of genuine adult nurturing and wants more of it.

However, the newly formed family has not faced a test of their relational bond until a tornado hits the town of In Between hitting the Scott home. Millie is hurt from flying glass and taken to the emergency room where they learn she has cancer. Katie is stunned that God would take away a loved one just when she finally has met someone to cherish. At school, trouble also occurs when Katie is blamed for stealing, which costs her the role of Cinderella in the school play. Katie with the help of her loving foster grandmother Maxine turns to God to praying mostly for Millie to be okay.

Jenny B. Jones continues the dramatic ups and downs of Katie Parker (see IN BETWEEN) as the teen begins to feel comfortable with her foster family only to have several setbacks make her wonder if God is abandoning her. Katie is terrific as the prime focus of the character driven story line as she struggles with the issue of why bad things happen to good people. Teen readers will appreciate her doubts while enjoying the antics of James screaming at Simon of American Idol and Granny having a dude on the side. Of course there is always Einstein to make relationships happen.

Hollywood Nobody
Lisa Samson
9781600060915 $12.99

Fifteen years old Scotty Fitzgerald's childhood was spent running around the country with her beloved mom, a highly regarded movie food designer. However, lately Scotty has grown tired of the hustling from one set to another and the vegan only lifestyle of her mother. However, it is the secrets that impact her that disturb Scotty the most as she writes in her blog that her mom Charlie refuses to tell her anything about the dad she never met.

While assisting her mom At Charlie's latest film project, Scotty and rising teen movie star Seth Haas become friends. He encourages her to pressure her mom into revealing the truth as to what frightens her to be so overly protective of her and information about her father whom she wants to meet.

Although Scotty seems at time much older than she is, she makes this an interesting coming of age tale as she struggles with her mom's secretiveness clearly out of the Dick Cheney book on governance. Her quest seems even more genuine because she never quite reaches a spiritual and emotional acceptable solution. Lisa Samson provides a warm inspirational tale of a teen needing to know the truth even if it turns out ugly.

A Lost Touch of Innocence
Amy Tolnitch
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781933836096 $7.95

He knew he should not, but could not prevent himself from touching the compelling crystal. By doing so Piers Veuxfort lives everyday in hell on earth. His gentle rub released the essence of the evil Fin Man, previously trapped inside the crystal. Now the Fin Man resides inside of Piers.

Giselle St. Germain was to be a nun, but the abbess of Kerwick Abbey learned of her "sight" and condemned her as a satanic abomination; she was tossed out of the nunnery that she lived in for thirteen years after allegedly causing Sister Anne's choking. Her exile is complete with the knowledge she suddenly is betrothed to a stranger. She arrives at Falcon's Craig Castle to marry Piers. He fears for her as he is losing the control battle to the dark malevolence growing side him. She wonders how a man can be so devilish yet be so attractive. Hiding behind her pietistic upbringing by the nuns, Giselle thinks of fleeing but has no place to go; besides she soon feels God sent her here to help Piers exorcize his demon as love binds these two troubled souls.

The sequel to A LOST TOUCH OF BLISS is an entertaining medieval paranormal romance starring an interesting lead male with two intelligences battling to control his body and the innocent woman who completes the demonic triangle. Piers is a fascinating protagonist as he literally battles with an inner demon for control of his body and soul. Although Giselle adapts to life out of the abbey too easily, she risks her soul to help the man she loves win the war against the malevolent Fin Man. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Amy Tolnitch's latest Veuxfort thriller in which hearts and souls are on the line.

A Calculated Demise: The Hypatia Murders
Robert Spiller
9781933836157 $7.95

In El Paso County, Colorado recently widowed fifty three year old Bonnie Pinkwater teaches math at East Plains Junior/Senior High School. Although she grieves her loss, her cat and three dogs help her at home while her job keeps her mind somewhat occupied.

Odious but highly regarded wrestling coach Luther Devereaux orders mentally challenged Matt Boone to meet him at the wrestling loft during Bonnie's math class. When the teen fails to return, Bonnie sends Matt's best friend, student council president Greg Hanson to investigate. Greg races back to the classroom informing Bonnie that Matt killed Mr. Devereaux with a knife. Although she has no plans to get involved in the official inquiry led by a former student turned sheriff, a confused Matt pleads with her to help him. Greg offers to assist Bonnie whose early findings implicate Matt in a premeditated homicide. However, as Greg's brother Kyle and father Barty are killed as well as a young woman named Janice, Matt's brother Simon becomes the prime suspect until he too is murdered. Meanwhile Superintendent Xavier "The Divine Pain in the Ass" Divine demands Bonnie either quit her sleuthing or her job at a time when one of her canines is dog-napped to get her to drop her investigation; which means to her dig deeper.

The key to this enjoyable amateur sleuth tale is the heroine's reluctance to get involved coupled with her mathematical solving approach to problems like who is the killer. The story line is action-packed and filled with several twists as each time Bonnie feels she has solved the equation, new variables surface. Although this reviewer has some doubts about Matt's ability to do high school math and not understand his arraignment or his inability to recall recent events, readers will appreciate the feisty teacher investigate the Hypatia Rocky Mountain murders.

The Vampire Shrink
Lynda Hilburn
9781933836232 $15.95

In Denver, the patient insists her name is Midnight and that she is friends to vampires especially the charismatic eight century old handsome master Devereux. Dr. Kismet Knight assumes she is dealing with a new form of psychosis as Midnight is extremely graphic in describing the underground vampirism lair as if a society of undead lives without humans knowing it.

To her shock, Devereux arrives at Kismet's office claiming to be a vampire. Hiding her disbelief behind her professional visage, Kismet thinks it is too bad he is a nut because he is a sexy hunk. Devereux begins to show her his strange powers leaving Kismet to begin to believe in vampires. After a client arrives at her office almost totally drained of blood, FBI Special Agent Alan Stevens, who works the vampire beat, questions Kismet. As Devereux binds her to him insisting she is his kismet, Alan tries to bind her to him through the power of love. Confused, Kismet is not sure who to trust even as someone, perhaps one of the two males claiming she is their destiny, tries to kill her.

Kismet Knight's conversion from cynic to believer makes for a fun paranormal thriller as the heroine becomes the VAMPIRE SHRINK. Readers will understand her transformation from scorning skeptic with dreams of fame and fortune to psychologist to vampires as the story line is told in the first person mostly from Kismet's perspective. Adding to the satirical entertainment is the odd romantic triangle between the Fed, the vampire master, and the shrink. Lynda Hilburn writes an enjoyable biting frolic that will turn skeptical readers into true believers of her talent.

Call of the Trumpet
Helen A. Rosburg
9781933836140 $6.99

In 1859 with the death of her beloved father in Paris, Cecile Villier decides to leave France to visit the Sahara where she was born two decades ago. Her beloved late father left the desert grieving the death of his Bedouin wife in childbirth. She asks her late dad's friend Mr. Blackmoor for help in locating her foster father, Raga eben Haddal.

Blackmoor sends his son Matthew to meet her, but he learns she has been abducted by a caravan planning to sell her to the Caliph. Matthew rescues Cecilia but introduces himself as El Faris rather than the son of her late father's friend. He treats her like the lowest creature on the planet and leaves her at a Bedouin camp to learn the ways of the women of the desert. Although not easy, the courageous Cecilia wins the respect of those at the camp when she risks her life to rescue a child from a wolf. As she and El Faris fall in love, he takes her to meet Haddal, who plans to sell her as a wife to the highest bidding sheik. Matthew proposes, but when she fails to return from a trek into the desert, he assumes she died and marries another. When she finally returns to accept his proposal, she must decide whether she wants to be his second spouse.

CALL OF THE TRUMPET is not the usual historical romance as the Bedouin culture serves as the prime focus of this strong mid nineteenth century tale. Thus a westernized Victorian style relationship between the lead couple even when the male is a sheik does not occur; instead the audience lives within the Bedouin camp and learns its ways along side of the heroine. Her struggles to adapt and her courage make for a rich saga as the audience will wonder will she willingly become the second wife, return to France, or be sold to the highest bidder.

Blood Eagle
Robert Barr Smith
9781933836102 24.95

In 1965 divided West and East Germany serve as one of the fronts in the Cold War. Whereas the western allies adhere to the Containment Doctrine, the Soviet Union wants to unite the country as part of their bloc. Others also want to unite Germany with the deadly neo-Nazi Fatherland Party using terrorism to try to bring down the fledgling democracy.

In one bombing the wives and children of US Army Major Tom Cooper and British SAS Captain Simon Berwick died. Both men vowed to insure that vigilante justice brought by them to the perpetrators occur, as their moral codes have been destroyed making life meaningless. They have the opportunity when they are assigned to find three elderly Germans who the Fatherland Party leaders seek for their roles in the alleged suicide of Hitler's niece and mistress Geli Raubal in 1931 in his flat with his gun.

This is an action-packed thriller that grips readers who ignore the plausibility index and willingly accept contemporary terrorism activity in 1965. The fast-paced story line focuses mostly on the two numbed NATO soldiers, but also flashes back to 1931 and 1951 when key historical events (to this plot) happened. It is fascinatingly that the western military pair has no scruples since their families were murdered while the neo-Nazis believe in the values of the Fourth Reich; this leads the audience to wonder about adhering to one's values. Fans of over the Berlin Wall thrillers will appreciate this entertaining race across Germany in which there are no heroes as all the players assume that everyone including themselves are expendable pawns.

First, There is a River
Kathy Steffen
9781932815931 $14.95

In 1900 in the Ohio Valley, the neighbors assume that Emma and Jared Perkins share a wonderful life raising two children Toby and Sarah on their farm. However, after twelve years of living in hell, Emma knows that her hardworking spouse hides from their neighbors that he beats her over every little perceived error. However, Emma remains with Jared insuring he does not harm their children from him. That bind ends when he hires away their offspring to a nearby farmer.

With no ties to bind her, Emma flees to the safety of her uncle's riverboat The Spirit of the River. To earn her keep, she cooks. She makes real friends with Lily another cook, Captain Briggs, and especially Gage-the engineer, who hides from society ever since a riverboat accident scarred his face. As an outraged humiliated Jared comes to claim his wife to teach her a lesson in loyalty, Emma begins to emotionally heal and while she does so Gage does as well..

Kathy Steffen provides her audience with a powerful historical fiction that focuses on the lack of rights for women and the lack of protection for children. Emma is a fabulous as the only reason she remains with abuser Jared is their offspring, but once he sells them into child labor, she has no ties. The support cast including the river and the boat is strong as it brings out a bygone era. The romance is unnecessary though well written as FIRST, THERE IS A RIVER is foremost a character-driven deep historical tale.

Fresh Kills
Reggie Nadelson
Walker & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780802715999 $24.95 1-800-289-2553

NYPD detective Russian immigrant Artie Cohen is enjoying his recent marriage to Maxine although she is currently out of town when he is informed that his troubled teenage nephew Billy Farone has been released from juvenile detention. Reluctantly, Artie takes Billy into his Brooklyn home as the lad has no other place to go since his mom refuses to have anything to do with him since he stabbed to death Heshey Shank and besides his parents are in London. Meanwhile the Shank family is outraged that this cold blooded killer is free and making public their disgust with a system that allows a killer to go on with his life while their offspring is dead.

Artie's superior Sonny Lippert comes to Brighton Beach to assign him to follow up on a new lead involving a cold case child homicide. The detective tries to balance adjusting to marriage although his wife seems very tolerant, keeping Billy out of trouble although there is evidence that he is failing at this task, and working the murder investigation that begins to look as if a killer may be caught, but not before others will die.

The latest Cohen New York City "archipelago" police procedural (see RED HOOK) is a terrific tale that focuses on the difficult balancing of family needs vs. professional requirements. Artie is fabulous as he wants to do what is best for Billy, but is not sure what that is as he knows the kid needs help and support, but he also has a difficult case to work. Readers will enjoy his investigation that leads from Brooklyn to Manhattan and Staten Island, but it is the ending that will stun the audience as Reggie Nadelson provides a deep thriller.

Written in Bone
Simon Beckett
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385340052 $24.00 1-800-726-0600

The Scottish police ask forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter to assist their investigation into a fiery death on Runa, a remote Hebridean island, as they have no expert available to look at the crime scene at this time. All that remains of the victim besides ash and bone are feet and one hand; the shack where the person died has no signs of a fire.

Dr. Hunter, Police Sergeant Fraser, and Constable Duncan travel to Runa, a small island community whose residents live off the ocean and visiting tourists. However, Hunter and the two cops accompanying him find the island inhospitable when storms batter Runa and communications to the mainland are completely cut off. Retired chief inspector Brody, who found the first corpse, assists the outsiders while the death count rises yet the islanders refuse to cooperate with the mainlanders.

Although the motive for the murder seems pathetic, Simon Beckett provides a terrific atmospheric police procedural. The story line is fast-paced with Hunter and his cohorts struggling to gain cooperation from the locals even with one of them assisting the inquiry. Filled with twists, it is us vs. them attitude that makes for a wonderful deep whodunit.

Drop Shot
Harlan Coben
9780385342100 $22.00

Twenty-four year old former tennis star Valerie Simpson is mounting a comeback and hires Myron Bolitar as her sports agent. Myron knows he has his work cut out for him because Valerie's negative image is etched in every American's mind, not just sports fans as six years earlier her fiance was murdered. The agent looks forward to the assignment especially since another client is the best young American male prospect, Duane Richwood. Both are entered in the US Open with strong chances of winning.

However, while Duane was playing a match, someone shoots and kills Valerie in the nearby food court. NYPD suspects Duane even with his alibi. Although he knows her death is a DEAL BREAKER Myron is upset to learn Valerie was frantically trying to contact him before she was murdered. Wanting to prove his other tennis client he is innocent and feeling he owes Valerie, Myron along with his pal Win Lockwood investigate. When the police announce the case closed by arresting a stalker, Myron believes the cops just want to shut up the brass, media and the public as a killing at Forest Hills during the US Open is not good for the city's image. He continues his inquiries although others demand he FADE AWAY from the case if he wants to avoid the BACK SPIN reactions of those who are satisfied that what started six years ago has gone THE FINAL DETAIL.

Myron is at his best with his amusing asides especially about his flaws. It makes for a fine investigative tale that takes him as far south as Philadelphia freedom. The story line is like a Grand Slam final between superstars as he and Win hope to ace the opposition. Although his girlfriend is a stereotypical throwaway used to make the hero seem even more caring, fans will appreciate this five set championship sports thriller.

Die for Me
Karen Rose
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446616911 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

In Philadelphia, Warren Keyes wakes up to the smell of disinfectant ammonia, his hands and feet tied up, and little light coming from a torch on the wall of what he believes is a cave. Panicking until he hears the voice of Ed Munch, who informs him to drink some water because he needs his throat wet when his prisoner begins screaming.

Eight days later Police Detectives Vito Ciccotelli and Nick Lawrence lead the homicide investigation into what looks like a religious ritual murder of a Jane Doe found in a nearby field. Knowing they need special help as they dig for potentially other bodies, PPD brings in archeologist Sophie Johannsen, who realizes, as she sees the victims' remains, the culprit was torturing them with medieval inquisition gadgets. Vito admires Sophie's intelligence but also is attracted to her. Meanwhile the killings continue as the culprit seeks the perfect scream from death to make his next video game seem virtually real, but needs one more expendable person to be his warrior queen; perhaps a brilliant medieval archeologist will do.

From the opening killer sequence to the climax, DIE FOR ME is an exhilarating action-packed serial killer police procedural with a romantic subplot that feels a bit out of place although it adds to the tension as the murders turn personal for Vito. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists in a deadly triangle as the killer sets up the final scream being the archeologist. Karen Rose provides another terrific suspense thriller.

The Wheel of Darkness
Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central (Hachette)
9780446580281 $25.99

Following their struggle with his insanely evil but brilliant brother Diogenes (see BRIMSTONE, DANCE OF DEATH and THE BOOK OF THE DEAD), FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast knows he and his ward Constance Greene need time away. They head to the extremely remote but still not destroyed by the Chinese Gsalrig Chongg Buddhist monastery on the Tibet-Nepal border. They hope some solitude will lead to needed mental healing.

However, Abbot Tsering, who is one of the few Buddhist monks who speak English, informs "Friend Pendergast" that women are not allowed here as none have come before the thousand years the edifice existed and in fact he has not seen one since he was two years old; that the Most High Lama Rimpoche is dead and they seek his nineteenth reincarnation; and finally they are the keepers of the sacred Agozyen, which used wrongly could make humanity extinct; the artifact was just stolen from a secure locked area. The almost visiting Americans agree to search for the relic, which takes them to a luxury cruise ship, where brutal murders imply the evil has been freed.

Fans of this great series will find the Tibetan journey with its "locked room" (actually niche) mystery and the subsequent lethal cruise trip a refreshing change from the previous terrific Pendergast paranormal sagas. Adding to the always well written supernatural suspense besides the trademark save the world from evil thriller prime story line is whether Constance still carries Diogenes' offspring that humanizes the hero. THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS is a fabulous frightening battle between good and evil with the bad spirits seeming to have the upper hand.

Just Beyond the Clouds
Karen Kingsbury
Center Street
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781599956770 $14.99 1-800-759-0190

Widower Cody Gunner thinks it is time to retire from bull-riding though he is still good at it; the rodeo just no longer has the appeal it once had since his beloved Ali died. Instead he would like to open up a gym for Downs Syndrome adults like his brother Carl Joseph.

Carl likes the idea of a special gym, but disagrees with his sibling on how much help he and others would need. He currently attends a special school that teaches Downs Syndrome people to live independently although Cody thinks that lofty goal is impossible. However, Carl's instructor Elle Dalton believes her student can do it and wants to persuade protective Cody to help not hinder his sibling's progress. Cody and Elle are attracted to one another, but both fears what an intimate relationship between them might do to Carl.

With homage to Rain Man, JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS is a terrific inspirational romance as Cody and Elle fall in love, but both fears how Carl will react to his brother and mentor becoming a romantic entry. Much of the plot focuses on how people especially the lead duo interact with Carl; thus this is not a typical contemporary romance. Fans will welcome the return of Cody and Carl (see A THOUSAND TOMORROWS) as the former has become even more protective of the latter since Ali died in this well written second chance at love.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Jennifer Rardin
Orbit (Hachette)
9780316020466 $12.99

Jaz Parker left the Helsinger elite team of vampire killers to become a CIA. paranormal operative. She prefers to work alone as she trusts no one; the critical element for an assassin to stay alive.

However, two and a half century old Romanian expatriate Vayl the vampire wants Jasmine as his partner; anyone else would appreciate the honor of having the top CIA. paranormal agent as her cohort, but not her. Still she has no say except to agree to serve as an expendable bodyguard to the revered Vayl though she wonders why her as he is not telling. Vayl believes Jaz has some unique abilities including the skill to sniff out vampires. As they work in Miami investigating Assan, a plastic surgeon with ties to terrorists, she proves worthy when his blood supply is tainted, Jaz gives him her throat. Vayl knows that Jaz and he belong together beyond lead assassin and apprentice assassin; however, his ex-wife Liliana the vampiress with ties to Assan has plans for her former spouse that exclude Jaz, who must die.

This is a terrific contemporary paranormal CIA thriller starring two likable good guys and an assortment of nasty mortals and vampires. The counter terrorist story line is fast-paced with a chick lit bite as Jaz's in your face comments are fun to follow although she needs to be kept on decaf. Vayl is her mentor and much more and yet much less. Although Liliana and Assan show no redeeming qualities beyond perfect matches for Gonzo at Guantomino, fans of supernatural suspense thrillers will want to read ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY.

Devices and Desires
K.J. Parker
9780316003384 $12.99

Due to its incredible industrial base with advanced technology, the Mezentine Republic is the superpower. Two neighboring people, the Vadani and the Eremians resent their superiority. Whereas the Vandai leadership uses guile in its dealing with the powerful Republic, the Eremians invade only to be slaughtered by their foes due to superior technological weaponry especially the mechanical Scorpions.

However, in the ruins of the slaughter, opportunity arises. Guild foreman and engineer Ziani Vaatzes has fled the Republic to avoid execution for breaking the rules. He offers the Eremians his knowledge of weaponry for safety and the opportunity to see his beloved wife and daughter one last time. However, Mezentines realizing that Ziani may sell them out and attack the Eremians to insure they remain the sole superpower.

The first book of the Engineer Trilogy is a fascinating look at power mostly through the machinations of the scheming lying Ziani, who manipulates people as he climbs the social pyramid to get the support to meet his obsessed goal. He does this with the backdrop of nations selling violence and control as the key to regional ownership of a global economy. Although the antihero Ziani's skills are incredible, luck and coincidence helps him stay alive while his plausibility index is somewhere over Everest and his ethics somewhere in hell as he sacrifices innocent people to further his cause. Still this is an entertaining tale of one man who to achieve his quest requires him to be Machiavelli and Rove.

The Fall of Lucifer
Wendy Alec
600 Rinehart Rd., Lake Mary, Fl.32746
9781591858140 $12.95

After Yehovah, there is the great trio; regents of the almighty. Lucifer the eldest is the favorite as the light bearer viceroy; Michael is the mightiest warrior and general of the angel army; and Gabriel the youngest recently has arisen to their level as the revelator.

Heaven has been harmonious for eternity until the announcement by Yehovah. He is creating a new race not of angelic matter, but from a DNA coding in his image. None of the angelic horde feels comfortable with the pronouncement, but of the lead threesome, only Lucifer feels betrayed by his heavenly Father. Michael and Gabriel do not understand the rationale behind God's decision, but remain true and loyal as they assume that there are things even they as his immediate lieutenants cannot understand. When Yehovah ignores his plea not create such an abomination, an ouraged Lucifer revolts. Yehovah punishes him by sending him to live on earth with his new species. However, instead of moping, Lucifer as Satan plans to destroy the heavenly monstrosity.

This is an interesting look at THE FALL OF LUCIFER in which the description especially of pre-human heaven is vivid and deep. Lucifer as the title character is fully developed so that when Yehovah announces the new non-angelic species, his anger and disappointment is palatable and remains at that level even after he loses the heavenly battles and becomes exiled; rage keeps him going. Although Yehovah, Michael, Gabriel, and the rest of heaven seem underdeveloped especially next to the emotional three dimensional Lucifer, with a nod to Milton's PARADISE LOST Wendy Alec provides an interesting tale of how the human genome's Godly creation provoked a heavenly war.

Best New Romantic Fantasy 2
Paula Guren, editor
9780809557844 $13.95

This anthology consists of fifteen well written romantic fantasies published in various sources in 2006. The tales are fun to read as one's soulmate might be a soul stealer as opposites attract and love does not guarantee a fairy tale happy ever after though it does make the Guren world go round; more often elliptical rather than circular. There are no clinkers as each of the chosen stories is a solid entry though the short format does not lend itself to fully developed paranormal elements. Those excellent few that do typically contain a vivid location make the fantasy seem genuine; especially gripping are the haunting coastal "Journey into the Kingdom" by M. Rickert and the forest of "Evergreen" by Angela Boord. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this fine anthology whether the stars are witches, elves, fairies and various assortments of ilk from other realms as a virtual who's who (O'Keefe, Friesner, Monette, etc.) contribute. As an aside the first volume is actually titled the BEST NEW PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

Kara Dalkey
9780809557837 $12.95

In Ancient Rome, Praetor Scipio Hispallus wants fame more than power, but what little he has of both is threatened by Daedalus the slave he freed. Daedalus intimates to his former owner that he will reveal to all of Rome that Hispallus' estranged wife belongs to the banned sect of Bacchus, god of wine and fertility unless he funds the building of an ostentatious bridge. Hispallus panics as he lacks the money needed to appease Daedalus.

An astrologer who is in Hispallus' home to ask a favor tells him of a foreign women Euryale who is offering a fortune to the person who can answer her question: "What can change stone into living flesh"? Hispallus goes to Euryace's home hoping she will fund the bridge, but finds her and her household odd. Her face is totally covered and her hair is bound up so that he cannot see her anything above the neck. Her servants and slaves are blind. She agrees to fund the bridge if she fails to obtain an answer to her question as she is a warm hearted caring person living with a curse from Athena; if people realize what she is, her life will be forfeited.

Kara Dalkey writes a fascinating tale of what happens to a woman cursed by a goddess several centuries earlier. EURYALE is a complex compassionate woman unlike the character portrayed in mythology. Readers will admire her courage and root for her to find a man who can see her through the eyes of love. Hispallus is a much simpler protagonist easy to understand as he seeks acclaim but lacks the wit to do so; he affirms the Peter Principle in Ancient Rome.

Twelve Steps from Darkness
Karen E. Taylor
9780809557882 $12.95

Alcoholic and prescription drug abuser Laura Wagner destroyed her marriage to professor Tony and her addictions cost her any chance of custody of their two daughters, eight years old Lizzy and twelve years old Mandy. She comes out of a bar and hits the accelerator while in reverse; smashing into the vehicle parked behind hers, a police cruiser driven by Woodland Heights officer Mike Gallagher who remains haunted by the unsolved disappearance of five children.

Three months sober blur by as she is finally is considered a candidate to attend the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. Following her time in rehab, she goes to her new home, but begins to hear voices coaxing her to end her life insisting she would be better off dead than fighting her craving for a drink. Meanwhile Lizzy suffers nightmares that her mommy is hurt and in danger as she insists the voices want mommy dead. As Mike is attracted to Laura in spite of her addictions, Tony is marrying Susan. The voice continues to coax Laura that she is better off dead. She finds the first corpse in her basement, as Lizzie becomes depressed that something wants her mommy dead and will kill those her mommy cherishes to force the final act.

This is an exciting psychological horror thriller as readers will wonder until the climax whether Laura suffers from psychoses or is there something or someone trying to push her over the edge of sanity. Laura keeps the exhilarating story line focused as she struggles with inner demons while trying to remain sober, but the twelve step method that she follows seems to be failing once she begins hearing the voice and having the dreams just like her the nightmares haunting her daughter. Karen E. Taylor provides a deep tale of a woman trying to regain her equilibrium, but in trouble with the audience wondering whether it is mental or demonic.

The Eternal Rose
Gail Dayton
9780809571659 $13.95

Six years ago in Adara, the demon led rebels were defeated. Subsequently, Kallista Vary was appointed as the Renine. Although she felt good about the victory, she did not feel a celebration was in order, as extended family member Merinda was abducted and remains missing, leaving a hole in the united magic of nine.

Over the years she and her team rescue slave children, but finally word arrives that Merinda and her offspring reside in the household of a rival family in Daryath, the homeland of Kallista's mate Obed. Using the pretense of an official state visit, Kallista and her retinue travel to Daryath to bring home Merinda and her child. However, instead of a simple retrieval, a murder of the godmarked Iliasti occurs most likely by a demon assassin; that is followed by the killing of a Daryath official. Tensions are high and war seems imminent as the demons manipulate behind the scenes.

The final One Rose Trilogy (see THE COMPASS ROSE and THE BARBED ROSE) is a terrific conclusion to a fascinating fantasy although it helps to have read the previous two stories in the saga in spite a cleverly interwoven "history". Kallista holds the exciting plot together as she and her complicated multiple partners make the Dayton universe seems real, which is the key to this fine tale of magic, demons, and killers. Fans will appreciate the wrap up and cast a spell on the author for more tales in this inventive realm.

The Jane Austen Book Club
Karen Joy Fowler
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452289000 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Six people with a "private Austen" philosophy decide to form the "all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club". Jocelyn's private Jane is love without marriage; Bernadette felt Austen was a comedic genius; Sylvia's private though is she is everyone's favorite single female relative; Grigg the lone male member seeks the masculinity of Jane; Allegra's Austen wants financial female independence; Prudie desires solace in reinterpretation and early death.

Over the months this sextet discussed Austenian views on the requirements by society to marry whether love entered the relationship or not and other societal demands on individuals to conform. However, these discussions serve as back drop to the emotional uproars in each of their lives. Jocelyn has never tasted love and fears she never will; Prudie desires untouchable males, but wants never to have a fantasy thought about her spouse; Bernadette in her sixties figures she can do anything so no longer uses a mirror to look perfect; Sylvia is heartbroken as she loves her spouse even as they divorce; Allegra and her girlfriend split; Grigg understands first hand unrequited love.

This well written complex character study is not an easy book to read as the story line focuses on the modern issues of six people rotating perspective. There is a somewhat nebulous link to Jane Austen via the "private" Austen inside of each of the sextet's psyche, but that is secondary to the issues each confronts. Fans of contemporary character driven fiction will enjoy this fine tale once the nuance of the methodology employed by Karen Joy Fowler is grasped; this reviewer came close initially to quit reading, but fortunately (for my sake) continued into the second pass and became hooked.

Spanish Bow
Andromeda Romano-Lax
Harcourt Books
15 East 26th Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10010
9780151015429 $25.00 1-800-543-1918

In 1892 their father worked as a customs officer in Cuba until he died due to rebels setting off an explosion that burned down the building he and nine other men worked. Several months later, his remains in a coffin arrive by train in Campo Seco where the Delargo family lives. His widow and five children, four boys and a girl, struggle to survive yet the matriarch refuses to consider any suitors.

One of the offspring, Feliu shows musical talent so when he turned fourteen his mother escorts him to Barcelona so that he can be properly taught. Surprisingly, a cello tutor accepts Feliu as a student. Over the next few decades Feliu affirms his promise of being a child prodigy as he becomes a favorite. He also meets temperamental but talented pianist Justo Al-Cerra. They begin to tour the top halls together. Soon afterward Jewish Italian violinist Aviva changes the duet to a trio as the Spanish Civil War explodes and stopping Hitler by appeasement fails.

This interesting historical fiction provides readers with an enjoyable look at Europe through much of the first half of the twentieth century. In some ways Feliu Delargo comes across as a Forest Gump type figure who happens to be performing at key during pivotal historical moments rather than an autobiographical fiction. Yet Andromeda Romano-Lax captures the essence of the renowned cellist's life as the role of the arts in influencing the ethics of society is an underlying theme.

Soul Catcher
Michael White
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061340727 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Somewhat crippled Mexican War veteran Cain owes a large debt to vicious Virginia plantation owner Mr. Eberly so he accepts the assignment to find and return runaway slaves Rosetta and Henry. As much as insuring the fugitive slave-catcher performs his task as assisting him, Eberly assigns three of his employees to accompany Cain.

Cain follows the trail through New York to Boston where he finally captures the two runaways. However, Rosetta remains uncooperatively defiant as she has decided death is better than returning to the abusive Eberly. Henry is a bit more compliant, but looks for a chance to escape on the trek back to Virginia and hell. As they journey together, Cain begins to see his prisoners as people not beasts of burden, but to liberate the pair means death for him and probably them.

This pre-Civil War historical thriller provides a fabulous account of a nation struggling for its soul. Cain in many ways is symbolic of the non-slave states of the United States in the 1850s as he does not care one way or the other about slavery except how it affects him by allowing him to earn a living until he escorts his latest runaways back to their owner. As he gets to know the pair, he begins to wonder what he is doing to real people. A chance for redemption is his, but the price might prove high. Although much of the support cast seems overly stereotypical, Cain makes for a strong morality tale.

Death and the Devil
Frank Schatzing
9780061349485 $25.95

In 1260 in Cologne, German architect Gerhard Morart continues to lead the construction of the greatest cathedral the world has ever known. A dozen years since he and others began the pious project, Morart and his select crew build the rising spires of this extraordinary ecclesiastical edifice at the same time an acrimonious war between the church and the merchant middle class has divided the city. The archbishop of Cologne and the ruling merchants see the profit to be made from this incredible complex cathedral as each wants to own and control it.

Suddenly with the end somewhat in sight, homicide takes control of the hostilities. Someone pushes Morart off of the partially completed roof to his death in the street below. No witness steps forward. However, the sly thief Jacob the Fox not only saw who shoved the architect off the scaffolding, but heard Morart's final words. However the killer saw Jacob and he and his fellow conspirators know who this witness is from his red hair. They swarm the city planning to kill him and anyone he is seen talking to as no one must know the truth re who assassinated the architect.

DEATH AND THE DEVIL is a terrific historical fiction tale based on the real death of the Cologne Cathedral master architect Morart in 1260. Readers know early on who killed him (and subsequently others) and the identities of his fellow conspirators, but not why Morart had to die. Besides a deep look at thirteenth century Cologne, readers obtain a sense of the power struggle between a rising pragmatic merchant society (the medieval middle class) and the Church. Genre readers will fully appreciate the talent of Frank Schatzing, as this is a winner even in translation from the original German.

Empire Rising
Sam Barone
9780060892463 $25.95

In 2500 BC in Mesopotamia, the Alur Meriki warrior chieftain Thutmose-sin declares to his brutal pillaging followers that the farming village of 2000 residents on the Tigris Orak must be destroyed as it imposes on their lifestyle by defying the natural order. Instead these "dirt-eater" farmers led by former barbaric warrior Eskkar and his enslaved mistress Trella defeat the mighty army saving the city (see DAWN OF EMPIRE).

The war hero and his now wife rule Orak still struggle with nomadic raiders who Eskkar and Trella believe must be defeated in order for the city to flourish and expand. He takes an expedition north while sending another troop to the south. The Egyptian trader Korthac has plans to take control of the city from within while the warrior ruler is out conquering. Korthac sends assassins to kill Eskkar and loyal warrior bandits to ambush the southern Akkadian force. He captures the pregnant Lady Trella while using stealth and more assassination to destroy the protectors of the city left behind. He almost has control of the city, which means it is time to kill Trella, who is of no value once the devious Korthac consolidates his rule. However, one failure unbeknownst to the scheming Egyptian is that Eskkar lives with plans to save his wife and his city.

This terrific Early Bronze Age historical sequel continues the adventures of Trella and Eskkar at a point when civilization is taking its first steps from the cradle. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of third millennium BC action especially the battles. However, this fine ancient historical belongs to the sense of time and place as the reader will believe you are there.

The Master Bedroom
Tessa Hadley
Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805080766 $26.00 1-888-330-8477

After more than two decades in London's academic circle, Russian Literature professor Kate Flynn returns to her hometown of Cardiff, Wales to care for her aging mother, Billie. However, without her career or her literary friends, Kate feels somewhat out of place at home. When she meets childhood friend Dr. David Roberts at a concert, Kate is interested as she was attracted to him as a teen and apparently still is.

However, David is married to Suzie, whose recent behavior of vanishing for days and ignoring their children and him when she is home worries the family. He finds temporary sanctuary with Kate. David's seventeen-year-old son Jamie also finds comfort with Kate; as her artsy eccentricity makes her seem so much younger than his parents. As the two Roberts court Kate in their differing peculiar ways, she tries to keep the triangle from imploding.

This is an interesting romantic triangle starring three fully developed protagonists. Kate is the prime focus of the story line of a woman in a middle age crisis dealing with an older mom and no vocation to keep her mind from wandering. Adding to her being the star is obviously the two males who desire her while she wants the older one without harming the younger one. Fans of deep character studies will appreciate Tessa Hadley discerning look at a woman at the crossroads of her life.

Don D'Ammassa
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594146084 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

Sandor Dyle is a galaxy famous patterns analyst who has solved some very high profile cases. At the moment he is on vacationing traveling on the starship Helen of Troy with his friend and companion Maryum Dunnis. There are two artificial personalities on board; Mennor who has the personality of a grouchy old man and Eco who deals with the public evoking the image of a sexy siren. Dyle wakes up one night and feels something is wrong and the room is ominously quiet.

The Captain asks him to help identify a saboteur-killer on board. He accepts because of the challenge and because he doesn't want any more trouble on board. While investigating the sabotage, one of the passengers Magnus Mercator, hated throughout the galaxy because of his war crimes committed when he and the Lysandrans took over his world of Cathanor. He became their puppet leader and when the aliens were thrown out, Mercator was exiled. The thinking is that Eco, who has the ability to watch over anyone on the ship, was destroyed in the explosion so that someone could kill Mercator. Dyle isn't so sure so he studies the patterns seeking to hone in on the killer.

Don D'Ammassa writes a fantastic double mystery science fiction thriller. The differences between artificial personalities (AP) and Artificial Intelligences (AI) play a crucial role in the resolution of the mystery even though it doesn't reveal which being committed the sabotage. The description of the ship with all its advanced technology enables readers believe they are visiting a time in the future in space. The author is a great worldbuilder who will appeal to fans of mysteries and science fiction.

The Day After Yesterday
Wayne D. Dundee
Five Stars
9781594145926 $25.95

From Ogallala, Nebraska Abby Bridger calls private investigator Joe Hannibal to inform him her Uncle Bomber Brannigan and his companion Liz Grimaldi died in a nearby car crash. A stunned Joe leaves his home Rockford, Illinois to attend the funeral of his two best friends.

Nine days after the funeral, an upset Abby calls Joe informing him something is not right about the deaths of Bomber and Liz. Deputy Clint Barnstable was the first law enforcement official on the scene and he reported alcohol and the pair were having sex when they took a turn way too fast. Abby and Joe know Bomber cannot drink and would not, and that the pair were close buddies but not lovers; someone rigged the crime scene. Joe agrees to return to the Cornhusker state to investigate, not yet realizing that he will soon be dealing with a militia, Homeland Security agents, an enigmatic undercover Fed, and a Russian terrorist; but none of that matches his female troubles or the need to rescue Abby's kidnapped child.

This is an interesting Great Plains conspiracy thriller starring a hard boiled private investigator skirmishing with the government, the militia, and a terrorist. The subplot involving Joe with his estranged girlfriend is well written; however his romantic involvement with Abby feels more like a sub-genre requirement that detracts from an otherwise strong tale of betrayals.

Spanish Eyes
Jackie Griffey
Five Stars
9781594146145 $26.95

Legal immigrant Elena Castillo comes to Las Flores seeking her brother Carlos and their cousin Jorge Brazos, who legally cross the border to work on construction projects. The two men are out of town working at an isolated location. Las Flores College art teacher Oliver Avery notices Elena at the mall and suddenly believes in love at first site.

Carlos' pregnant wife Carlotta and his teenage younger brother Juan illegally cross the border from Mexico because she wants her child born in America. They obtain work at the Santa Maria de Las Flores mission. His siblings and wife remain ignorant to the fact that Carlos and Jorge are in danger from an unscrupulous contractor who will cheat the immigrant work force and kill those who threaten their enterprise. Elena trusts Oliver with what she knows happened to Carlos and Jorge, but though attracted to him fears the connection his best friend Matt has with the sheriff when it comes to her younger brother and sister-in-law.

SPANISH EYES paints a different picture of legal and illegal immigrants than is typically discussed in Congress at least on the fence side of the issue. Instead of terrorists committing crimes and stealing jobs, the illegals are described as abused and used. Although the villains (American contractors) have no redeeming qualities as they behave more like Dickensian capitalists taking advantage of no legal recourse for illegals and to a degree legals, readers will appreciate this entertaining romantic suspense in which most crossing the border seek economic freedom in spite of allegedly NAFTA sent the jobs to Mexico.

Tom Wasp and the Murdered Summer
Amy Myers
Five Stars
9781594145933 $25.95

Master Flue Faker Tom Wasp met Bessie Barton when artist Valentine Drake asked him sit with her for a portrait he was painting. Tom and Bessie become friends. So when her murdered corpse is found on an embankment of the Thames, a grieving Tom vows to uncover the identity of her killer.

As Tom and his chimney sweep assistant eleven year old Ned clean the flues, they investigate the homicide. The most likely suspect is Moonman, who Bessie feared and fled from, but Tom has never met and has no idea who he is. He also considers the artists like Valentine who hired Bessie on occasion as a model. However, no matter how hard they clean and dig, Tom knows he will never capture the smile of Bessie except in his dreams, which currently are nightmares.

This is a fascinating late Victorian whodunit that in many ways is more historical than mystery. The story line is very vivid as it cleverly sets the time via tidbits like the year after Prince Albert died and the employment of a pre-teen as a chimney sweep. Fans of late nineteenth century tales with a different flavor will want to read this fine amateur sleuth, as Tom tells the saga of Bessie from his "flue theory of life" perspective.

Silver Master
Jayne Castle
Jove Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780515143553 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

On Harmony two centuries since the Curtain closed in Jackson's Old World Finds, her dust bunny Araminta persuades Celinda Ingram to buy the odd looking red plastic. However, not long after she makes her purchase, Oakes Security specialist Davis Oakes and Cadence City Police Detective Alice Martinez question the Promises, Inc. matchmaker after he found the murdered corpse of thief Alvis Shaw whose body was in the alley outside of Jackson's Old World Finds. Davis also insists that the item Celinda bought yesterday ay Jackson's was stolen from his client Mercer Wyatt boss of the Cadence Guild. He demands she return it to him.

Celinda wants nothing to do with Cadence Guild having only bad memories of her dealings with them. Hence she wants to give the relic to Davis so that the Guild stays out of her life; the only problem is Araminta has vanished taking the object with her. Davis sends his dust bunny in pursuit. Meanwhile an unknown adversary tries to kill the matchmaker and the investigator as this foe wants possession of the artifact.

Fans of the amusing Harmony fantasy romances will enjoy the return to Jayne Castle's creative world in what is more of a detective tale this time. The story line is fast-paced as a reluctant Celinda and a gung ho Davis follow the dust bunny trail while eluding a killer. Celinda makes the tale with her first rule of never get involved with Guild business; even when they owe you they invariably pay off by hurting you that is if they don't kill you. Ms. Castle provides a fun lighthearted investigative romantic romp.

Sword of God
Chris Kuzneski
9780515143560 $7.99

The MANIAC Special Forces are an elite ops team who do wet work in the field; their members consist of the best men from all branches of the armed forces. Jonathan Payne, a business man who was once a MANIAC leader and ex-soldier P.J. Jones who works for his company are visited by Colonel Harrington who tells them that a covert member Trevor has disappeared.

The colonel hopes Payne and Jones can find him or at least learn what happened to him. They are flown to Jejo Island where Trevor was last supposed to be running black ops. They find a blood splattered cave that looks like a slaughter house. An eight year old boy was in the cave and sees the blood everywhere in the cave. When Payne and Jones catch up with them the boy tells then what he has seen and heard that caused American soldiers to wipe out a village on the island. Using the information the boy gives them, they fly to Mecca to prevent an incident that would anger every Muslim and demand a Jihad for the destruction of the United States.

SWORD OF GOD is an over the mountain action packed thrill a minute novel that is reminiscent of the works of Jack Higgins and tom Clancy. The scariest think about this novel is that it is believable as it seems a modern day Crusades appears inevitable. The friendship and trust that Payne and Jones share after much work is touching and adds a measure of humanization as they play their part against the stage of world events.

My Immortal
Erin McCarthy
9780515143485 $7.99

In 1790 in River Road, Louisiana, wicked plantation owner Damien du Bourg makes a devil's bargain with a fallen angel; in exchange for his loyalty, he receives immortal life. Two centuries later, he still lives while bringing converts to his master by spreading lust to anyone who comes in contact with him.

Marley Turner knows her sister vanished somewhere near New Orleans. When she finds Damien's plantation, she is shocked by the lewd decadence of the place. Yet she also sees inside the heart to the soul of the owner to his agonized vulnerability. To his shock, for the first in two hundred plus years of life, Damien wants a woman. However, besides his owner, Damien knows his two plus centuries of sins makes him unworthy of the angelic woman he loves.

Though a well written paranormal romance, MY IMMORTAL goes much deeper as Damien believes he is unworthy although he risks his existence for what he assumes is his only redemption, keeping his beloved safe especially from the owner of his soul. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as the audience anticipates the confrontation with Damien being pulled by good and evil. His muses on responsibility and accountably for one's actions and paying the price for one's deeds with real sacrifice is a stark contrast to the neo DC of reaping the benefits while someone else is BLED DRY. Erin McCarthy provides a thought provoking fabulous supernatural romance.

Dance With Me, My Lovely
Jaye Roycraft
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
9781933417295 12.00

They first lay eyes on each other at the male strip club, The Pony Express. Lucius Santangelo, who in his undead life is Garran Lux and Cate Greenbrood, a psychic practitioner of the shamanic arts, are attracted to one another. Garran uses the club as a hunting ground to find a woman for sex and blood. Cate and Garran connect on the psychic plane and she sees a vision of a dead woman whom she believes is a person from his past.

Garran is in trouble because more and more his vampire side is in control causing him to be the hunter that his human impulses keep in check. He decides to go to a magic practitioner and by luck or destiny he picks Cate. She believes he needs a soul retrieval so they journey to the Land of the Dead where she sees him as a desiccated corpse. They don't find his lost spirit and return home. They give in to the passion that flows between them and she starts to make another journey to the Land of the Dead where she learns the truth of what he is and turns away from him just like the woman in the vision did that they met on the psychic plane. Only by accepting what he is will those two have a chance to make a relationship based on intimacy work.

Jaye Roycraft is one of the best paranormal romance authors writing today. She slowly builds up the relationship and that of each others powers to make the reader feel as if they are part of that unseen world. This is a sizzling fantastic vampire romance but the lovemaking is necessary to the storyline. Cate is Garran's equal in power which is one of the reasons this novella is bloody delicious.

Savage Skies
Cassie Edwards
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843955378 $6.99 1-800-481-9191

In 1851 Wyoming Territory, Chief Grey Eyes of the White Owl Assiniboine tribe asks his friend Chief Blue Thunder of the Wind Band of the Assiniboine for help. Comanche raiders attacked his tribe, already decimated by smallpox, abducing warriors and horses; he wants them back but need his friend's warriors to help. Reluctantly Blue Thunder agrees.

Shirleen has had enough of her abusive husband, as she fears for their four year old daughter, apparently taken by her spouse. However, before she cans escape with her child, Comanches raid their homestead. They take her, but fail to take her child. Chiefs Blue Thunder and Grey Eyes and their warriors attack the Comanche rescuing Shirleen. As Blue Thunder and Shirleen search for her daughter before she is harmed, the chief and the wife fall in love.

As always the amazing Cassie Edwards uses the same plot device of a noble male Indian, a caring tolerant to all people white female, and an abusive white male to provide her fans with a wonderful historical romance. The well written story line enables readers to see the ravages on the Indians by diseases like smallpox brought by the whites. SAVAGE SKIES showcases why Ms. Edwards remains a long time sub-genre favorite as she writes her one hundredth novel, mostly Indian romances.

Where Souls Collide
Stefanie Worth
9780843959703 $6.99

Detroit Dispatch reporter Navena Larimore is stunned when she sees former NBA star and community activist Maxwell McKnight in her offices space. The "six foot seven inch demigod" informs her that he is the new executive editor of the paper. She is stunned to find herself working for the man who broke her heart fourteen years ago at Hillside College; especially since it takes him all of ten minutes to anger her.

Navena struggles with visions of someone being murdered. She is unaware that her mom sixteen years ago to ease her from the pain of "seeing" her dad die had tampered with her psychic gift. Maxwell, who wants Navena back in his personal life, scoffs at her dreams until he realizes she is the real thing and she is his lifemate, but to persuade her to let him fully in her life will prove a test of time and souls.

WHERE SOULS COLLIDE is a complex paranormal romantic suspense thriller starring two fascinating lead characters who battle each other and their karma. The story line is far from linear, but retains a delightful fluidity even as it goes back and forth in time. Fans who enjoy a multifaceted tale of love will appreciate this fine Motor City romance that is worth reading.

The Bone Man
Vicki Stiefel
9780843959376 $7.99

The founder and head of MGAP (Massachusetts Grief Assistance Program), Tally Whyte has left her job since her foster mother, Massachusetts medical examiner Veda Barrow died. Her replacement Addy Morgridge asks her to come in to see an amazing archeological find. An Anasazi pot with a skull in it was found in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. A forensic archeologist Didi Cravitz reconstructed the skull and the face looks exactly like Delphine who owns the Native Arts. Her assistant Zoe says she is on a on a buying trip and doesn't want to be disturbed.

When Tally goes back to see Didi, she finds her dead lying in a pool of blood. Didi used her last seconds of life to write an incomplete message in her blood on the floor. Nobody else sees the writing a male is in the store gets rough with Tally asking where the fetish is. Tally figures out what Didi started to write with her blood. She gets shot at, attacked, and ends up in the hospital. She realizes to find the answers she has to go to Chaco Canyon where she is shot at, attacked and ends up needing medical attention. She refuses to give up her quest at finding out what everyone wants the fetish partly because it is a treasure but mostly because she doesn't know why so many people are willing to kill to get it.

This is an amazing thriller with action on almost every page. The paranormal elements fit right into the storyline making it more realistic since Le Pueblo tribes and the Anasazi practice magic. The heroine is strong, independent and sees things nobody else does, things that save her life. She is determined to find out what is going on with the fetish and wouldn't stop even if it puts her in danger. Vicki Stiefel writes a brilliant psychological thriller.

Lord of the Fading Lands
C. L. Wilson
9780843959772 $7.99

When his beloved Sariel died in combat Fey king Rain Tairen Soul went berserk and destroyed much of the realm even as his side defeated the evil wizards of Eld. Now a thousand years later he still grieves, but worries that soon his people the fairy will become extinct. Desperate to save his race, Rain ignores the taboo of touching the sacred Eye of Truth in order to learn if there is some way to save his people.

What the Eye showed him after beating the arrogance out of his soul, is a secret. Rain heads a half of continent away to the mortal city of Celieria where apparently resides his lost soul mate, Ellysetta Baristaini, an unacceptable female for their Tairen by the Fey nobles as she is a woodcarver's daughter. At the same time that Rain begins courting, the wizards of Eld want to use this expendable woman as a pawn to enable them to destroy the Tairen.

LORD OF THE FADING LANDS is an entertaining opening romantic fantasy that will please fans of both genres. As with many epic fantasies, the story line focuses on introducing the key characters and the setting so that action is somewhat limited to the romance and to a degree the plotting of the malevolent wizards. Still C. L. Wilson provides a fascinating tale with a solid premise of a dying race, which will bring plenty of fans to this debut, who also will eagerly look forward to the sequel.

Undercover in High Heels
Gemma Halliday
9780843958348 $6.99

TV soap Magnolia Lane's wardrobe assistant Maddie Springer becomes jealous when she finds her boyfriend police detective Jack Ramirez with an amazon at the cabana Club after he broke a date with her. She confronts him leading to an incident in which guns are drawn and Isabel the amazon places Maddie in a hold that Hulk Hogan would be proud to have used. The aftermath is Ramirez is temporarily demoted to celebrity bodyguard duty as Isabel was providing evidence against her boyfriend, but instead has gone MIA.

To atone for her interfering with his assignment, Maddie enlists her best friend Dana to uncover the identity of who is sending threatening notes to the soap's star Mia Carletto. When Mia is found dead and Maddie begins to receive threatening notes, the case turns personal. However, as she and Dana dig for clues in spite of Ramirez profusely telling her to stay out of the investigation, tabloid reporter Feliz Dunn will do anything including risking the life of Maddie to get the story.

As always no one can get into more trouble in high heels faster than Maddie can as she leaps into one mess after another or causes the mess. Lighthearted inane fun, readers will appreciate the over the Hollywood Hills sign heroine's antics to make up for the turmoil she caused Ramirez by trying to solve the murder case chick lit style. This actually means causing more tsuris for Ramirez, who realistically has lost patience with Maddie.

The Eagle and the Dove
Victoria Morrow
9780843958423 $4.99

Bostonian Katherine Dory accompanies her father and her fiance by rail through Colorado when a gang of outlaws kidnap her. Jesse McCallum was following these killers who murdered his father. By killing them he rescues Katherine.

She persuades him to escort her up the Sangre de Cristo Mouintains. As they journey together, they cannot resist their attraction for one another; Jesse and Katherine are "married" in a mountain ceremony; they make love right afterward. Her fiance finds her so as the dutiful woman she returns to her privileged lifestyle in Boston, but her heart and soul remains in the Rocky Mountains.

THE EAGLE AND THE DOVE is a fascinating Americana historical romance starring two people who their contemporaries would say are an unlikely pairing as she is a Boston Brahmin and he is a mountain man. Readers will wonder whether Katherine will marry her typecast upper crust snob of a fiance or return to the Rockies where she found the high of love. This well written though stereotypical mid nineteenth century romance highlights the purity of the wilderness vs. the contamination of the big city.

The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
Donna Andrews
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312329426 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Meg Langslow and her fiance Michael Waterston are moving into their renovated home in Caerphilly, Virginia with the help (an extremely loose use of the word help that is) of her dad and her relatives from mom's side. Dad suddenly leaves the basement to inform his daughter that he ran into a slight problem while digging a swimming hole for the penguins he adopted from a bankrupt zoo; he dug up a corpse.

The police investigate, but struggle with identifying the John Doe. The assumption made by the townsfolk and fostered by Meg's family is that the deceased is the bankrupt zoo's missing owner. Thus those who were fostering animals no longer want them on their property so they drop them off at Meg's place. Meg and Michael discuss eloping early to elude the menagerie; that is the two legged beasts who share her DNA. However, first there is a question of who killed and interred the body in their basement.

This jocular whodunit is a terrific tale that will leave the audience laughing especially with some outrageous slapstick yet the humor remains inside a strong mystery. The incredibly calm Meg does not blink as animals run amok and her family is even more out of control. Fans will appreciate her calm juggling act as Donna Andrews provides a great entry in what may be the best humor-mystery series on the market today.

The Courtyard
Marcia Willett
9780312306687 $13.95

In 1988 in Bristol, England, former naval officer John Woodward tries to make a go at it as a landlubber realtor. His wife Nell is still adjusting to having John home all the time while he adapts to not giving orders to her; their young son Jack attends boarding school so he is not around to act as a buffer although his mom fears he would only receive more commands.

At about the same time that the Woodward's marriage turns shaky, Henry Morley converts his Nethercombe Court estate's stables into a housing project the Courtyard. However, Henry, though recently married to Gillian, has marital problems as his bride fails to adapt to country life after she's seen London. Nell and Henry's elderly cousin Gussie Merton arrive at Nethercombe to visit and congratulate the latter's nephew Henry on his recent marriage. Soon marital relationships become challenged as the unhappy Nell and equally disenchanted Henry find kindred spirits in one another.

This is an entertaining English complex relationship drama starring five fully developed characters; each with their own personalities, flaws and desires that do not always mesh well with their partner's needs. Marcia Willets' fans will keep on reading with a need to know who ends up with whom. Although the ending seems too perfect, the audience will still appreciate THE COURTYARD, a deep look at how we get along, or for that matter hiding in despair when we don't.

The Last Striptease
Michael Wiley
9780312372507 $23.95

Chicago private investigator Joe Kozmarski is doing surveillance for a client when he witnesses a murder. He dials 911; police detective Bill Gubman, a former police peer of Joe, responds to his call. However, the killer manages to shoot Bill before escaping.

Just after the shootings, retired Judge Peter Rifkin asks Joe to find proof that his employee Bob Piedras did not kill his girlfriend, Le Thi Hanh, as the police suspect. Although he would prefer to stay out of the homicide, Joe agrees to investigate as the Judge is a long time friend of his family. However, Joe quickly regrets his decision as Le's angry vehement brothers follow his every move, leaving a sinister air of danger. Making matters even more untenable, Joe's mother dumps his troubled eleven year old nephew on him at a time he has to watch his every move.

The key to this wily Chicago Noir is Joe, whose Good Samaritan philosophy to a family friend, his mom and his nephew causes a pile up of troubles for him. The story line is a fast-paced investigative whodunit with a fabulous dangerous trek around Chicago. Urban Noir fans will appreciate Joe's efforts to uncover the truth re the homicide while trying to keep her siblings from bashing in his brains and his obstinate insistent nephew out of the case.

The Whale Road
Robert Low
9780312361945 $24.95

In 965, merciless Einar the Black recruits fifteen years old Orm "the Bear Slayer" Ruriksson to his cold-blooded Oathsworn Viking raiders and mercenaries who sell their swords to the highest bidder yet are loyal to one another. The teen was chosen because he is the son of one of the toughest crewmen Rurik and more significant is said to have killed a polar bear; hence the nickname.

An apparent crazy woman insists she knows where Attila's "mountain of silver" is located; so they set sail for the fjord even as deadlier rivals also challenge for the loot including the Danish-Norwegian King Bluetooth and an immoral monk. However, the former wants the silver booty, but the latter seeks a relic of the White Christ, the "Spear of Destiny" that stabbed Jesus as he was crucified and Attila made into his sword.

THE WHALE ROAD is a superb tenth century Norse historical thriller that grips readers the moment Orm joins the Oathsworn band of brothers on their sea escapades all over northern Europe. The story line is fast-paced and never slows down even when the crew disembarks on dry land. Robert Low provides a powerful insightful high seas adventures of a teen growing up fast in the ruthless world of Beowulf.

Down River
John Hart
9780312359317 $24.95

After five years in New York City estranged from his father, Adam Chase returns to his hometown in Rowan County, North Carolina, a place with bad memories since his mom committed suicide and he was on trial for first degree murder. No one, including his stepmom who testified against him in the homicide case in which the court acquitted him, but the public hung him, or his dad still not talking to him, his police detective former girlfriend Robin, or his friends and enemies know why he came back. Especially since everyone believes he got away with a murder.

Meanwhile the townsfolk are totally divided on whether to sell their farms to the power company. Nobody is divided when it comes to Adam. Within a few hours of his arrival a graffiti artist paints Killer on his car. That is followed up immediately by an assault that leaves him unconscious, loose teeth and bruised ribs. When a corpse is found on the Chase spread, everyone with few exceptions, Robin being the only vocal disbeliever, once again believes the town pariah Adam killed the victim

This is a fabulous rural noir tale starring a beleaguered protagonist whose attitude adds to the town's impression of a wealthy spoiled punk buying his way out of trouble. The story line is fast-paced while running along two subplots; that of the overall town schism that is turning violent and the personal plight of Adam, who is presumed guilty regardless of his alibi as his stepmom makes it lucid to anyone who listens that he is the evil KING OF LIES.

The End of Desire
M.R. Sellars
WillowTree Press
PO Box 142414, St. Louis, MO 63114-0414
9780967822165 $14.95

Instead of being with his wife Felicity, Rowan Gant is in New Orleans doing research on Miranda, a LWA (deified spirits within Vadoon religious practices) and his wife has checked herself into a psychiatric ward. It was thought that Felicity was a killer who was into bondage when it was her identical half-sister Annalise Deveraux who committed the crimes. When Felicity was out of control it was because Miranda was riding (Possessing) her just like she does to Annalise.

The difference between the two women is that Annalise made it happen and she likes what Miranda does for her. While in New Orleans, Miranda using Annalise's body kills another man and when Rowan is caught investigating, the police send him home after Miranda puts him in the hospital. Annalise does not want Miranda riding Felicity and the only way to prevent that is to kill Felicity but Rowen and their friends won't let that happen even when Miranda binds them together again.

This is the end of the Miranda mini-series and it is a fantastic finale. The use of magick is more overt than ever before and readers see how powerful Felicity and Rowan are in their use of it. This is as much a love story as it is a paranormal mystery because Rowen will do anything to make sure his beloved Felicity is safe. M. R. Sellars is a grand storyteller, who as a practicing witch uses his knowledge to make sure his Gant saga feels magically authentic.

Eat the Dark
Joe Schreiber
Del Rey
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345487506 $12.95 1-800-726-0600

Mike Hughes works at Tanglewood Memorial Hospital at least through tonight as the place is to shut. However, the thirty four year old married man with a child finds one last patient is to receive an MRI. When the cops and EMTs arrive, he asks who is this person, but receives no answer. Apparently Dr. Walker ordered the scan of notorious serial killer Frank Snow although Mike was not informed of this decision; his lover Jolie Braun obviously knew as she took pictures of Snow to sell on EBay. Coming to confront Mike at his place of work are his hurt wife Sarah, who knows he is cheating on her and their son Eli.

Mike begins the process when Snow asks him to hold something and tells him he has special plans for Eli. As he begins the procedure, Sarah challenges his faithfulness forcing Mike to abort the operation; he tells her to wait upstairs for him when all hell breaks loose as Snow convulses. Soon afterward Snow escapes, but does not leave the hospital; instead he turns off the power and locks the doors as the predator has waited ten years to begin a new killing spree. Mike panics as he fears for the safety of his loved ones.

EAT THE DARK is a throwback serial killer thriller that grips the audience the moment the lights go out and never let's go until the final confrontation as Mike risks his life to save those he cherishes forever while feeling like he is CHASING THE DEAD as the body count rises. Filled with a late twist, fans of old fashion Jason-like horror movies will appreciate Joe Schreiber's dark thriller.

Star Wars: Death Star
Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
Del Rey
9780345477422 $25.95

Grand Moff Tarkin for three decades lobbied for the Death Star, a war vessel the size of a large moon, to be built. His dream comes to fruition as his killing ship with its special pandemic death weaponry is constructed in outer space in the Horuz Sector by residents of the nearby prison planet Despyre.

Lieutenant Commander Vil Dance is euphoric to be a fighter pilot on the Death Star. After her cantina burned down in Imperial City Memah Roothes and her bouncer Rodo open another one on the Death Star . Dr. Gli Divini has not been allowed to leave the service and when he is transferred to the Death Star, it is just another undesirable assignment to him. Political prisoner Teela Kaarz jumps at the chance to get off of Despyre and use her skills as an architect on Death Star. Master Chief Petty Officer Tenn Graneet wants to be the one to use the largest laser in the known universe. Planet prisoner Ratua Dil, a Zelosiann is a con artist smuggler and who sneaks onto the Death Star and blends in with the crew. It is only after two worlds are annihilated that these crewmembers realize what they work on and want out; with the help of an archivist and a librarian they may be able to escape.

For those living on a far planet in a distant time, the Death Star is the massive starship that Luke and company destroyed in the original Star Wars movie. STAR WARS: DEATH STAR takes a look inside the humongous weapon of planetary destruction-ship at the crew and ordinary people living in something the size of a large moon. Readers will see first hand the normal everyday folks who make the Death Star work and their elation to be part of it turning to horror as worlds are destroyed by its weaponry. Cameo appearances by a who's who of the 1977 movie adds a sense of time and place to a fascinating character study of everyday people caught up in supporting the atrocities of deliberate genocide of the innocent as a terrorist effort to defeat the opposition.

Clan Daughter
Morgan Howell
Del Rey
9780345496515 $6.99

Dar has a strong reason for not loving for the human race; her father sold her into the King's army and he is not a king who takes female servants when he is needy. After a battle, Dar convinces five orcs to defect Kovak-Mah, who loves her, follows her wherever she goes and where he goes so do the other four orcs..

On the journey to their home in the wasteland part of the Urkhert Mountains , Dar and Kovak-Mah realize they love each other, but he knows their life together is doomed as the Orcs hate humans and only fight for them because their queen, who lives near the human king, orders them to do so. While living with the orcs, Dar partakes in a ceremony in which she is reborn with the spirit of an Orc. Because of this and that she still looks human, she is chosen to talk with the queen, who refuses to allow female orcs to come near her; her objective is to learn why they kill for a human monarch.

The second book of this trilogy (see KING'S PROPERTY) is a fabulous fantasy due mostly to the intricate Orc culture that is vividly described in detail which in turn provides the tale with a seemingly powerful authentic anchor. Dar is a dynamic independent woman who follows her own course when it comes to races and love. Her fiery spirit along with the insightful Orcan lifestyle and some more typical battle scenes make CLAN DAUGHTER an entertaining tale.

Empire of Ivory
Naomi Novak
Del Rey
9780345496874 $7.99

The war against Napoleon has turned bad for the English forces since a deadly disease has ravaged the dragon corps. Desperate to find a cure before they lose the aerial war, the English leadership learns the elixir may exist in Africa. As abolitionists protest the African slave trade and demand rights for dragons, British captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire lead a band of warriors with the dragons across the Mediterranean to Africa.

However, the Dark wild continent is unwelcoming to the English as the natives know of the slave trade. Local dragons and their human cohorts go into combat mode to drive the English off the continent. Will and Temeraire know they will lose some friends in the skirmishes even as they struggle with their cause as they agree with the Africans that the slave trade is an abomination and dragons deserve rights as sentient beings.

The forth Napoleonic fantasy (see THRONE OF JADE, HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON, and BLACK POWDER WAR) is a fabulous refreshing entry as Naomi Novik takes her soaring champions to Africa where the English morality is questioned to the point that the heroic duet wonder if they fight for the wrong side. The battle scenes that include dragons at war seem genuine even with the mythos element. Filled with plenty of action, strong characterizations, and a fascinating locale, the key to this superior early nineteenth century epic remains the quest of human (and dragon) rights as the English run the slave trade and are the invaders claiming they bring a superior lifestyle to these uninformed pagans.

If His Kiss Is Wicked
Jo Goodman
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780821777770 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

In 1822 Emma Hathaway lives in the home of her kind uncle. She has no prospects whatsoever. Her brazen cousin Marisol asks Emma to end her latest affair, which reluctantly she agrees to do.

However, being a Good Samaritan proves dangerous when someone tries to abduct Emma. When she tells her cousin and a few friends, they all think she is a bit crazy as no one gains by kidnaping the penniless Emma. She turns to Restell Gardner, known for helping people in trouble. Restell investigates her contention, but also finds he is attracted to his reticent client. When someone tries to kill her, Restell offers marriage in order to protect her; she is reluctant to accept as she believes he is doing this out of honor. As he unravels the truth, Restell knows he loves Emma and believes she reciprocates, but first and foremost he must keep her safe.

This entertaining Regency romantic suspense is fast-paced as an unknown adversary assaults the heroine, but no one in her inner circle give credence to her claims. Restell is a wonderful hero as he knows the only way to insure he is there at all times to keep his beloved safe is marriage, but she rejects his offer as she wants a husband who cherishes her. Although the ending leaves too many dangling threads as it is rushed, Jo Goodman provides an interesting historic romantic thriller.

Shoot Him if He Runs
Stuart Woods
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399154447 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

Teddy Fay was a CIA agent for many years and he was perfect in his operations until he started killing people he believed were detrimental to the country he loved and served. When last seen in IRON ORCHID he was escaping from a building on fire and was assumed dead. It is now believed he is alive and living in the Caribbean island of St. Marks. The American public believes he is dead and if they find out otherwise, the chances of the president's reelection are close to zero.

The president sends Agent Holly Barker, lawyer Stone Barrington and police officer Dino Bacchetti to St. Marks to see if they can find an identify Teddy. Holly has the best shot of doing so because she has seen him twice before albeit in costume. Down there, the new prime minister is closer to a dictator than a democratic president and his chief of security served in Haiti under Papa Doc. The three Americans run afoul of the government between their being bugged and Holly and Stone arrested. When they are free the two are ordered home but the PM has sealed off the island because his security chief was assassinated with all the trade marks of a Teddy hit.

Stuart Woods teams up Stone Barrington and Holly Barker and their collaboration in the bedroom and on a professional level makes SHOOT HIM If He RUNS one of the author's finest works to date. They have much in common and work well together, so much so that they should be teamed up more often. Teddy Fay is such an expert in disguises and there are so many shady expatriates on the island that Holly and Stone have to work triple time to find out if Teddy is on the island.

Fatal Revenant
Stephen R. Donaldson
9780399154461 $27.95

Looking down form the watchtower of Revelstone, Linden Avery sees men and riders being chased by Demondim; to her shocked elation the riders are the love of her life Thomas Covenant while the other is her adopted autistic son Jeremiah. Covenant explains that though he holds together the Arch of Time together still, he is through a fold in time here in the flesh. Jeremiah is being held by Lord Foul the Despiser who seeks destruction of the land while part of him is here thanks to Covenant.

From the first moment, Linden senses a change in her beloved who is short with her and very sarcastic and scornful. Jeremiah makes it clear that he worships Covenant and has no time for Linden. They trick her into meeting him in an isolated place where they separate her from her friends and allies. They travel thousands of years back in time because Covenant needs to drink the Blood of the Earth so he can use the Power of Command to put an end to Lord Foul. When Linden learns why the two men she most lives are cold to her, she feels her heart torn apart; she vows revenge on those who caused her such anguish if she ever returns to her future present.

FATAL REVENANT, Book Two of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, is a complex poignant epic fantasy about The Land where wild and tamed magics are part of the earth. The Land is populated by various races including creatures out of myth and legend; some of whom serve as pivotal plot points to move the complicated story line forward even when the heroes go back in time. Lord Foul never appears, but his shadow minions are everywhere seemingly to stop Linden's quest.. Stephen R. Donaldson is a great worldbuilder as he makes his characters even the monsters seem real, but it is the poignancy of relationships that make him one of the best fantasists today.

Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far)
Dave Barry
9780399154379 $22.95

This is an amusing look at the new millennium and the previous millennium. In terms of the new one, Dave Barry's annual surveys of key events (from 2000-2006) like the attorney invasion of Florida just after the final vote in the 2000 election was cast to the truth behind 2004 Abu Ghraib to 2005 when the fury of females like Katrina, Martha, and Paris owned the world. These segues are overall amusing with some in your face slapstick and others droll and witty; however, in fairness some of the entries especially the older ones have lost their jocularity. The previous millennium segment is the highlighting of history from 1000-1999 with entries like the first Gutenberg book was a Danielle Steel heater and the true cost of buying Manhattan Island when credit is unacceptable, maintenance fees are soaring, and $24 is zillions in today's present value of money. This is a lighthearted irrelevant look back at the last 1006 years although some liberals might insist the White House will believe Mr. Barry is a great historian stating just the facts (with a few mistakes that cannot be revealed as they are classified) and a lot of illustrations to prove an inconvenient truth like the Da Vinci masterpiece is pizza.

Under Enemy Colors
S. Thomas Russell
9780399154430 $25.95

In 1793 the hostilities between France and England leaves some people with divided loyalties. For instance, Royal Navy Lieutenant Charles Saunders Hayden is the offspring of an English father and a French mother although he does his duty with honor in support of England and the crown.

However, being half-French makes his chances for promotions nil and his loyalty questioned; his superior officers distrust him in spite of his proven record. Denied once again a promotion he earned, he is assigned as the first lieutenant to the frigate Themis; commanded by Captain Josiah "Faint" Hart, who got and kept his job due to political connections at the highest level of the Admiralty in spite of being an incompetent and a coward. Hayden is stunned by the Themis being closer to mothball shape rather than in war condition and the crew appears ready to jump ship. As combat with the French is imminent, Hart wants to sail away, but needing a fall guy openly tears into Hayden accusing him of being a French enemy combatant of England.

This late eighteenth century military thriller grips the audience with its insightful look at war at sea. Charles is fantastic protagonist who keeps the exciting story line together as a victim of bias and inferior superior officers who got their position due to connections; even in 1793 political hacks are given technical leadership jobs so that when a crisis occurs they can fail and blame others. Historical readers will cherish this strong naval saga with vivid sea battles, strong characterizations, and a deep sense of time and place with the reminder that those who ignore history repeat the mistakes of the past.

Now & Then
Robert B. Parker
9780786296545 $25.95

Every once in a while a case comes along that affects Spenser profoundly and Dennis Doherty's need to find out the truth is one of them. Dennis's wife is acting very strange, staying out late and acting distant. He doesn't want to believe his wife is cheating on him but he needs to know the truth; Spenser finds it in the form of a tape he make of the wife making love with another man Perry Alderson.

Spenser doesn't feel the usually closure that comes with the end of a case so he has a friend of his follow Dennis's wife Jordan. She is shot by while walking; Spenser's friend kills him. Not too much later Dennis's body is found in the water, the victim of the same killer. The lover of Dennis's wife, who has ties to terrorists is probably the person who ordered the hit and Spenser wants him to pay for those crimes. Making sure that Susan is protected at all times Spenser blackmails Perry with the unedited tape that would bring the FBI on him. Tracing Perry's background, he discovers things about the man that would earn him a lethal injection and he intends to gather enough proof for a successful prosecution.

All the Robert B. Parker trademarks are present in the latest Spenser tale including male bonding of a humorous sort, with teasing repartee and the use of dry wit to score points off one another. There is plenty of action and fun yet for the first time in a long time, Mr. Parker shows how deep the relationship between Susan and Spenser really is and how bottomless their love goes. Spenser shows a vulnerable side to his personality that endears him further to his fans. NOW & THEN is a great entry in this long running saga.

Riding the Storm
Sydney Croft
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385340809 $13.00 1-800-726-0600

Only a desperate call from his dad would bring former navy SEAL Remy "T-Remy" Begnaud home especially in this horrendous weather. Although the truth is hurricanes do not disturb him as he has created some nasty storms in his life with his power to control the force of a storm. However, what does bother him is that parameteorologist Haley Marie Holmes is waiting for him at his father's house.

She tries to persuade Remy to let her and her paranormal skilled operatives help him harness his power, but fails even when she tries seduction as the electricity between them ignites the Bayou. Instead he attempts to defuse his power on his own, but instead T-Remy unleashes his gift. Now he needs Haley and her associates to help him harness his out of control storm that makes Katrina look like a drizzle.

This exhilarating romantic fantasy creatively uses paranormal meteorology skills to tell the tale of people with the ability to control the weather. The key to this superb thriller is the flaws each of the lead pair has in their make-up; especially that of T-Remy who wants nothing to do with his power yet finds he is in the eye of the storm. Haley is pulled in two directions as lightning strikes her heart with her attraction to Remy, but is assigned to bring him in voluntarily or not. Fans will enjoy this fine weather thriller although some subplots are left out in the rain for apparently future parameteorological tales.

Who's Kitten Who?
Cynthia Baxter
Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553590340 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Veterinarian Jessica Popper has a unique practice on Long Island in which she doesn't have an office but a clinic on wheels so she can care for her patients where it's convenient for them on their turf. She can use less stress in her personal life because she just got engaged to Nick and is afraid it won't last. When his parents come to visit, she and her future mother in law clash so Nick feels they need some time apart.

Luckily, Jessica has something to keep her mind occupied; a speaking part in a community theatre that is scheduled to go to Broadway. The writer and star of the show Simon Wainwright is found murdered in a trunk, his head bashed in. Jessica's best friend and leading lady who cared for Simon asks her to find the killer which is not easy because she is dealing with thespians who know how to fake their emotions. However, the killer is watching Jessica, warning her off and if she doesn't listen, she will be the next victim.

WHO'S KITTEN WHO? is a humorously entertaining amateur sleuth mystery especially the scenes with the heroine and her feline mother-in-law. This tale contains a finely developed mystery because there are many suspects with motives who want the victim dead. There is enough action to keep readers absorbed in the storyline but it is the characters who make this who-done-it an interesting tale as the various personalities more often squabble than work together.

Nova Swing
M. John Harrison
9780553385014 $16.00

Years have passed since pilot Ed Chianese in 2400 AD crashed into the Kefahuchi Tract (see LIGHT) and a piece of the Tract fell to earth leading to a strange alien like phenomena that also brought early capitalism to the locale. Travel agent Vico "Vic" Serotonin escorts affluent "tourists" on illegal tours of the alien Saudade event site, where the universal laws of physics fail. This outlawed zone contains psychic phenomena that are more often unfriendly and other insanely encounters. Vic also runs an artifact smuggling operation. The law knows of both his illegal activities, but since no one has been hurt they ignore him as a small rascal not worth the cost of incarceration.

Wealthy tourist Elizabeth Kielar hires Vic to take her inside the infamous Saudade. Once there, she vanishes. Obsessed over his dead wife and thinking the Saudade might help him with his need, police detective Lens Aschemann abruptly threatens Vic as reverse tourism seems to suddenly flow out of the event site to spend time at the dives surrounding the location. Meanwhile club owner Paulie DeRaad purchases from Vic a Saudade artifact, but once in his possession, the alien object seems to possess him as it begins to change him. All roads to and from Saudade eventually seem to converge on Vic.

This entertaining strange science fiction Noir is not a direct sequel to LIGHT, but a sort of follow-up related but not very closely (think distant relative). The story line retains the grittiness of the previous tale whether it is the dumpy bars and tourist spots that surround the Saudade event site or just the interplay between the classy client and the roguish tour guide. Fans who appreciate something odd and weird in their futuristic tales will want to read NOVA SWING, as few novels are as enjoyable yet bizarre; perhaps not since M. John Harrison shed LIGHT on quantum physics.

End of the World Blues
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
9780553589962 $12.00

In Tokyo, runaway teenager Lady "Countess of High Strange" Neku hides fifteen million dollars in a in a train station locker. Soon afterward she saves the life of former Iraq war veteran Kit Nouveau when she efficiently kills a mugger attacking him. The Pirate's Mary bar owner tells Neku he owes her.

Many groups are after Neku because of the money she hid; this includes the yakuza syndicate and, British espionage agents; Several of Kit's former lovers and a few he still sees are after him. Neku also "lives" in an alternate reality as a princess married to an adversarial family. She fears her virtual life has interacted with her real life while Kit feeling an obsession to save a former girlfriend who left a suicide note behind wonders what he has gotten into since Neku saved him from a mugging.

The END OF THE WORLD BLUES is a complex somewhat convoluted character driven thriller that hooks readers who prefer something different yet compelling. Kit with his world ended yesterday philosophy and Neku with her strange kick butt attitude make for a dynamic read as her adventures tie into his past, present, and apparently his future making the double helix look like preschool science. Jon Courtenay Grimwood is at his most complicated best with this strong tale.

Lessons of Desire
Jillian Hunter
9780440243946 6.99

In London, Lord Elliot Rothwell informs his sibling Christian that he failed to find the manuscript. He learns from his other brother's wife Alexia that the owner of the manuscript her friend Lady Phaedra Blair is in Italy. Phaedra inherited her father Richard Drury's memoirs that have much of the Ton worried as it will expose many of them to scandal. Richard's partner in a small press Merris Langston was blackmailing people before he died; Phaedra owns that too.

In Naples Phaedra is stuck in her apartment under house arrest having caused a duel in which a favorite relative of the king was hurt. Elliot arrives and Phaedra begs from her window for her rescue. He succeeds but the local agent believes Phaedra and Elliot are engaged, and expects him to keep her out of trouble. Elliot asks Phaedra about her dad's manuscript that contains a passage on his father. He offers her money to delete it, but she refuses. She says a man sent another officer rumored to be his wife's lover to Cape Colony where he died. Elliot says it is a lie; Phaedra says prove it and she will remove it. As they travels around Italy in spite of the manuscript they fall in love, but she rejects his offer of marriage.

Having the female oppose marriage brings freshness to the sub-genre even as the relationship between the lead couple nicely evolves over the course of the tale; his refusal to steal the manuscript or demand it when he legally can makes him an honorable person. Although the lead female takes too many ridiculous unnecessary risks due to her need to be independent, Regency romance readers will enjoy learning the separate truths about her mother and his father.

Mommy Tracked
Whitney Gaskell
9780553589696 $12.00

In Orange Cove, Florida, four moms form the Mothers Coming Together group where they can meet to release some frustration amidst peers. Food critic Anna Swann is a divorcee struggling between "mommy time", Anna time and work time. Grace Weaver has a loving husband and three adorable daughters, but fears being fat hoping at any social encounter someone "out-obese" her as she still retains the baby weight psychologically as much as physically. Juliet wants to become a full partner at the law firm in spite of having the twins to take time away from work, but has a chance due to her house-husband Patrick even if it means less time with her family. Chloe is the newest mommy, but fears she is losing her spouse James who shows no interest in her or their son. These four females come together to help each other not just cope, but in raising their offspring and much more.

Rotating perspective between the women, readers, especially moms, will appreciate this amusing salute to motherhood. The four females have distinct personalities and needs, which in turn makes their support group seem real. Well written, this is a warm lighthearted character study that Anna sums up quite nicely with her relativity theory that whatever you do there is not enough "mommy time" to complete the task properly as inefficiency is a way of life.

Garden Spells
Sarah Addison Allen
9780553805482 $20.00

In Bascom, North Carolina, Claire Waverley runs a catering service that is booming because of the uniqueness of the items she bakes from the magical flowers in her garden. She avoids the apples from the legendary tree because Claire knows that anyone who eats one will envision the most significant moment of their life; which can be ugly. Her only relative in town is her eccentric septuagenarian Aunt Evanille as her sister Sydney ran away from home ten years ago. At a party she caters, Claire meets her next door neighbor Professor Tyler Hughes. When he touches her, she becomes upset.

Sydney runs away again with her five years old daughter Bay while her abusive spouse David is away on business. Though estranged, Claire takes the two females in without question. Emma Clark is upset that Sydney is back because she fears her husband Hunter John Matteson still loves his high school sweetheart instead of her. Her mom throws a party catered by Claire so that Hunter John can see Sydney as a lowlife compared to his spouse. Angrily, Claire bakes items to make people feel remorse that they hurt Sydney. She tells Sydney she does not care if she loses business; no one will hurt her family. Sydney obtains a job as a stylist while Bay feels at home here. At the 4th of July gala, Henry Hopkins sees Sydney who he fell in love with when they were best friends, but failed to tell her because he was so shy. As he fumbles with her again, David is coming to punish her.

The four Waverley females make the fantasy elements lighthearted yet real while the support cast provides further insight into the bewitching siblings. Although David has no redeeming qualities, the story line is fun to follow as the magic is interwoven into the romances or overcoming the sibling estrangement.

Crusader Gold
David Gibbins
9780440243939 $6.99

The International Maritime University controls the best archeology digs and funds its top guns like highly regarded archeologist Jack Howard with the best equipment and people money can buy. Funding is never an issue when IMU decides to support a dig.

A watery clue off of Istanbul enables Howard to believe he has located an ancient Hebrew relic, the Menorah of the Temple of Jerusalem taken IAW Josephus as part of the spoils of war by the Romans. The religious relic surfaced in Constantinople in the thirteenth century but during a Crusade vanished. Centuries have passed since the Menorah disappeared, but now Howard believes he can locate and retrieve it although he lacks some critical information. However, he is not entirely prepared for a Neo-Nazi group who has nefarious plans to use the ancient artifact as a symbolism to cause disruption and hatred in the Middle East; killing Howard and his team is a reasonable and valid part of their plan.

CRUSADER GOLD is a fun hyperspeed archaeological religious thriller that stars an Indiana Jones type hero and stereotypes the Nazi bad guys so much so they appear more like amusing caricatures with incredible connections than complex vicious adversaries. The story line is fast-paced as Howard follows the obscure trail using a medieval map and the water clue while classic ancient ruins go the way of imploding buildings. Still sub-genre fans will appreciate this entertaining Jones-like search for the ancient Hebrew Menorah.

Blood Engine
T.A. Pratt
9780553589986 $6.99

On the east coast lies the gritty city of Felport, but Marla Mason loves it and rules the place with a sorcerer's fire touch. Her consigliore Rondeau is an unknown supernatural entity whose voracious essence drifted into that of six years old boy. He is one of Marla's true friends and he has the power to Curse and make the Curse happen. Powerful sorceress Susan Wellorslore wants Marla's position, and is preparing a spell to destroy her rival and as a collateral damage by-product Felport.

Marla and Rondeau travel to San Francisco to find her friend, the might sorcerer Lao Tsung, who she hopes to persuade to let her use the Cornerstone, a magical artifact that will allow Marla to bind her to the earth in a spell that cannot be broken. However, when they arrive they find Lao dead killed by another strong sorcerer Mutex who is using blood spells in the name of the Aztec God Tlatecuhtli. If Muller wins, the world will literally turn to hell without a hand-basket; only Marla and Rondeau stand in the way, but they cannot call on the bloodthirsty Aztec pantheon for support.

T.A. Pratt's vivid urban fantasy will remind readers of the works of Kelly Armstrong and Lilith Saintcrow. The protagonist is a pragmatic soul who is kind and caring when she can be and ruthless when she must be. She goes out of her way to the point of risking her life to cause no needless harm to innocents, but will go down and dirty when the stakes require her to do so. BLOOD ENGINES is an enchanting work that sub-genre fans will want to read as T.A. Pratt casts an obsession spell on her audience.

No Time for Goodbye
Linwood Barclay
9780553805550 $22.00

One night fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge is caught lying by her parents. She is also caught with her older boyfriend and is drunk. Her father finds her and drops her off at home where she promptly blacks out. The next morning she wakes up and the house is quiet. There is no sign of her parents and both their cars are gone. Cynthia never hears from them again but she never gives up hope that one day she'll have answers as to why her parents and brother deserted her.

Twenty-five years later, Cynthia is married with a daughter of her own, still living in her hometown. A TV show wants to reenact the disappearances and Cynthia believes that there is chance that someone will call with some answers. That doesn't happen but strange things begin to occur like a brown car is always in Cynthia and Grace's vicinity, a man watches their house and the father's fedora not seen for twenty-five years is sitting on the kitchen table when the family comes home. Cynthia's aunt who received anonymous bundles of cash for her niece's education is murdered as is the private investigator they hired to learn into what happened that night. Surprisingly, Vinnie, Cynthia's ex-boyfriend, tracks down a clue that might answer all her questions if it doesn't get them killed first.

Linwood Barclay is a master thriller writer who knows how to keep his audience on the edge of their seats. Surprisingly the story is told in the first person by Cynthia's husband who is totally in love with her and will protect his family at all costs. His teaming up with his wife's ex-boyfriend, the head of a criminal empire, is proof just how far he is willing to go to get some answers. . Fans of Mary Higgins Clarke, Dean Koontz and Phillip Margolin will have to read this fantastic work of psychological suspense.

The Death Trust
David A. Rollins
9780553805345 $24.00

US Air Force CID Special Agent Major Vin Cooper is assigned to investigate the death of General Abraham Scott in a glider crash in Germany one week short of the anniversary of the death of his son, Sergeant Peyton Scott by unknown enemy fire in Iraq. Vin assumes a routine fatality caused either by pilot error or mechanical failure.

Suffering from a hangover to numb his toothache, his divorce from Brenda, and his realization that his career is dead, he arrives at Ramstein Air Base in Germany where he is met by agent Anna Masters, who has been told to keep this wild maverick in line. They quickly realize that the glider crash was the result of sabotage, which means they are looking at murder. They soon link the four star murder to his son's death as the two agents believe two homicides occurred. Attempts occur on their lives and someone with clout hampers their inquiries that lead to Blair House and Latvia as more previously thought accidental deaths begin to appear suspicious to the military sleuths.

The keys to this exciting thriller are the flawed arrogant Vin, his dedicated sidekick who knows her career might tank but does the right thing (think of General (R) Anthony Teguba) and the conspiracy; especially the latter. Before 9/11 and the Bush-Cheney postscript readers would have scoffed at James A. Rollins' conspiracy, but now it seems plausible. Fans of tense action-packed military tales filled with twists will enjoy traveling with the two special agents as they investigate a complex case that if revealed would devastate the country worse than Abu Ghraib did.

All the Tea in China
Jane Orcutt
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800731793 $12.99

In 1814 Oxford, England, Lady Isabella Goodrich is bored with the only path a young unmarried female aristocrat can take. However, at a gala she meets Phineas Snowe of the London Missionary Society, who wants to see her famous Uncle Toby Fitzwater, Dean of Christ Church. Isabella thinks her calling is in missionary work under the tutelage of Phineas heading to China.

Her family tries to persuade her she is making a terrible error, but Isabella ignores their advice and sneaks onto the vessel taking Phineas to the Far East. When he finds her on board his ship, he is shocked and plans to dump her at the next safe port. However, instead he finds himself mentoring his stowaway as they journey by sea towards China.

The first Rollicking Regency inspirational romantic adventure is a terrific refreshing tale due in part to the locales and mostly the lead pairing. Whereas Phineas is an enigma to the heroine and readers, Isabella is a unique protagonist who believes missionary work to the less fortunate is her calling. Fans will appreciate the danger of such an endeavor in the early nineteenth century as many of the recipients find the White Man's burden arrogant and intrusive. Filled with twists, fabulous locations, and a romantic subplot between the two stars ALL THE TEA IN CHINA is a strong vivid historical.

The Devilish Pleasures Of A Duke
Jillian Hunter
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9780345487629 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

In 1815 the widow Emma Boscastle is the exception to the family's tendency to cause mayhem and scandal. However, the "Dainty Dictator" as her siblings affectionately and with some trepidation call her, feels with each of them married, the family reputation should improve and she will be able to run her girls academy in peace.

Heir to a dukedom, Adrian Ruxley has just come home after time as a mercenary. His estrangement with his father is legendary and he plans to keep it that way. That is until he sees Emma for the first time at a wedding where she accosts some aristocrat for accosting a maid; only the maid's beau punches out Adrian. He has fallen in love at first sight and knows he must change his behavior if he is to successfully court and make her his wife. However, before entering the lioness' lair, he must run the gamut of his family who remain embarrassed by his previous vocation and hers, as her siblings are very protective of their Dainty Dictator. Then there is Emma who is attracted to Adrian, but has doubts about taking on another scandalous male.

Fans of the zany Boscastle brood will appreciate the tale that we have all waited for since book one; to learn who is strong enough to match wits while lose pounds of flesh and pint of blood courting Emma. The story line as always is fast-paced and humorous while also returning with the siblings and their spouses from the previous five books, and the hopes of a next generation early Victorian Boscastle saga for a third trilogy. The Boscastle Regency romances are consistently some of the best historicals and this finale enhances that belief.

One Last Breath
Laura Griffin
9781416537373 $6.99

Two years ago, former cheerleader and trophy wife Feenie Malone learned her husband Josh Garland was cheating so she divorced him. However, he swore in court he lost everything so she received little in the settlement as she and the judge believed him.

Currently, Feenie works as a reporter for the Mayfield Gazette. During an interview, she notices the boat that her former husband swore he lost in a poker game. She sneaks into the boathouse to take pictures of the vessel and him to use as evidence in court when she goes after this rat. However, she is stunned because with her ex is a known notorious drug operative. Feenie investigates, which leads her to private investigator Marco Juarez, a former cop; they met when he handled the domestic dispute that signaled the end of her marriage. He wants to ignore his instant dej… vu attraction because his priority is to learn what happened to his missing sister, Paloma, whom he assumes is dead. Besides which Feenie is linked to thugs, but he needs her if he is to achieve his goal. Soon someone begins murdering local citizens with Feenie near the top of the list to be eliminated.

ONE LAST BREATH is an enjoyable romantic suspense tale because of the wary interaction between the lead couple. She was burned one time too many by a man while he remains obsessed with his sister's murder so has doubts he can handle a relationship. As they work together on the investigation, they trust each other with their life but not their heart. Sub-genre fans will look forward to more inquiries starring this dynamic pair.

Primal Desires
Susan Sizemore
9781416513360 $6.99

Sofia Hunyara is stunned to learn her cousin Cathy has been kidnapped. She learns the abductors belong to a werewolf pack planning to control all were and vampire groups. Sofia vows to use the skills she has all but ignored to rescue her relative.

In Las Vegas Prime Vampire Jason "Beast Master" Cage works closely with wolves as he puts on quite a stage show filled with magic that the audience assumes are master illusions; he knows that he hides his full skills from those paying to see his performance. When he meets Sofia he is shocked as she is his soulmate although she is werewolf. When she explains her mission is to save Cathy, Jason agrees to assist her as he needs to insure his beloved stays safe. However, he also knows they will need a combined horde from both their species especially her Wolf Tamer family to defeat the rogues holding Cathy hostage.

PRIMAL DESIRES is a superb paranormal romantic suspense thriller in which sensational Susan Sizemore makes believers of her audience that vampires and werewolves exist at least in the Sizemore universe. The story line is fast-paced with seat belts required, but it is the changing relationship between the Beast Master and Sofia as they team up to try to rescue Cathy that makes this a must read for sub-genre fans.

Blue Justice
Illona Haus
9780743458108 $6.99

Baltimore Police Department vice detective Micky Lutrell is currently posing as a hooker busting Johns with her partner Detective Jack Macklin nearby. She catches the attention of Daryl Eugene Wardell who smells of pig and rides a red pickup truck. He has lesions on his arms, but that does not prevent him from kidnapping Micky as he done with scores of other women. He tortures them, rapes them, and incarcerates them in his pigpen in a remote area where no one else lives.

Detective Kay Delaney is in charge of the task force quickly assembled to rescue one of their own. Her old sergeant shows her files of missing and dead prostitutes with witnesses claiming the John smelled like a pig. Kay finds a DNA sample from blood on the ground where apparently Micky fought her abductor; it matches up with that taken from other rape and torture cases. Kay's prime partner is her former lover Danny Finnerty. Both understand that time is running out for Micky and they must concentrate on finding her before they concentrate on dealing with personal issues.

The third Kay Delaney "blue" police procedural (see BLUE MERCY and BLUE VALOR) is a pulse pounding tale that keeps readers on edge as the action never decelerates while the clock is running out. Ignoring their awkward dysfunctional personal relationship, Finn and Kay make a great police team as they work towards one common goal, rescuing Micky; but in spite of their superior combined efforts to save a peer, the odds of success page by page shrink dramatically. Although Daryl is the typical psychopathic deranged serial killer even with his pig deodorant, BLUE JUSTICE will appeal to fans of Nancy Taylor Rosenberg and Patricia Cornwell, Illona Haus provides a strong suspense filled thriller.

The Queen of Bedlam
Robert McCammon
9781416551119 $16.00

In 1703 in Manhattan a serial killer frightens the community; no one in the bustling city wants to talk about the incident known as the "Thing That No One Spoke Of". Everyone fears that this unknown Masker dubbed that by the Printmaster following the murder of the doctor. The belief is he or she is everywhere and will overhear discussions that may make you the next victim.

Twenty-three year old Matthew Corbett clerks for the New York office of the London based Herrald Agency, whose mission is to solve problems. He feels like the sheep following the clues left behind by a predatory wolf as he fumbles and stumbles his way into crime scenes. He turns somewhat nauseous when he finds the corpse of someone he loathes, pedophile Eben Ausley, orphanage headmaster where Matthew was raised. As he reluctantly continues his vigil, Matthew believes the motive resides in an asylum where "the Queen of Bedlam" lives in blissful amnesia, but the Masker remains anonymous as more murders occur.

Just a few years have passed since the two volumes of SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD, but the adventures of magistrate clerk Matthew Corbett continue this time in his home city instead of the Carolinas. Matthew remains a fresh protagonist as his bumbling amateur sleuthing brings vividly alive early eighteenth century colonial New York City. The story line is fast-paced as the young hero and his partners try to unmask a brilliant serial killer leaving the audience satiated yet also joyfully implying more to follow.

To Scotland with Love
Karen Hawkins
9781416525042 $6.99

Lord Ravencroft cons Lady Venetia Oglivie to accompany him to the Scottish border; his nefarious plot is to get her to Gretna Green and force her to wed him. Venetia realizes his scheme and vows to suffer from a scandal than wed this bland fortune hunter. However, before she can escape back to London, a blizzard leaves her and other travelers stranded at an inn.

Venetia's childhood friend Lord Gregor MacLean learns of her "abduction" and is outraged. He rides like hell in the wintry weather planning to rescue Venetia. He charges up to her at the inn and is euphoric she is okay and unmarried. As their love surfaces, Venetia rejects his proposal as she assumes he does so out of honor and duty; Gregor needs to persuade her that it out of desire and need with his plan being one heated kiss at a time.

The latest MacLean historical romance (See HOW TO ABDUCT A HIGHLAND LORD) is an enjoyable battle between the sexes. Ironically readers know Gregor loves Venetia before he does because of how he fumes and drops everything to rescue her. When he finally accepts what his heart has told the audience, he has a mountain higher than the Highlands to climb as he must persuade Venetia is loves her and wants her not just because he is a principled person doing the honorable thing. Karen Hawkins provides an entertaining MacLean romance.

Kiss Me Deadly
Michele Hauf
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373617715 $5.25

Vampires know that one drop of a witch's blood touching them is fatal. Nikolaus Drake died two months ago when witch Ravin Crosse dropped her blood on him. However, he recovered and believes he is now immune to this toxin. He plans to kill the witch who almost killed him.

Ravin the vampire hunting witch owes three debts in order to free her soul. She works on a love spell to meet one of her obligations only to have Nikolaus arrive at a critical juncture. The love spell enters his soul and he finds he loves the witch. She quickly reciprocates as these natural enemies are unable to stop kissing one another.

KISS ME DEADLY is a creative paranormal romance in which Michele Hauf uses a Twilight Zone like spin to create love between the witch and the vampire. Nikolaus and Ravin are a superb pairing as he wants to avenge her killing him with her blood only to fall in love with her due to a spell. Ironically he must convince the witch he cherishes that he loves her spell or not and that they belong together taboo or not. This is a winner for sub-genre fans.

Secret Agent Reunion
Caridad Pineiro
9780373275465 $4.99

Years ago British intelligence agent Danielle Moore blew her SIS cover as the assassin Sparrow when she met Mitch Lama, an agent with the Lazlo Group. They fell in love, but neither was forthcoming about their true past. However, Danielle's obsession with learning who killed her parents led to the death of a prince and almost that of herself and her twin Elizabeth; SIS fired her.

Dani has joined the privately operated Lazlo Group, but is shocked that Mitch is her partner as she thought he died when she held him in her arms while he was wounded. He does not trust her as she failed to tell him the truth, but to his chagrin he still desires her. In fact he knows that he loves her. However, his assignment comes before mending his broken heart as they must work together to uncover a rogue killer inside the Lazlo Group.

The sequel to MORE THAN A MISSION is a wonderful SECRET AGENT REUNION romantic thriller starring two lead characters who believe love is not enough as neither believes anything the other says. Readers will appreciate this fine tale while wondering how Caridad Pineiro will redeem her heroine (anti-heroine?), whose actions led to the death of the Prince of Silvershire in the first book. That conjecture is part of the fun of a terrific suspense tale that can stand alone, but to fully savor Dani's Mission: Impassioned, read her sister's saga first.

The Good Thief
Judith Leon
Silhouette Athena Force
9780373389735 $5.50

Following a dangerous art deal in Naples, Italy, Lindsey Novak learns of the abduction of Athena Academy students on the news. A graduate of the school, she is stunned as she listens to the kidnapping of teens Jazz Ryan, Teal Arnett and Lena Poole, but Jazz escaped.

With the help of her father's security expert Marko Savin, Lindsey begins tracking down the kidnapped females. They quickly learn a scientist plans to sell the girls and other Athena grads along with ova stolen from a lab to the highest bidder. Lindsey knows her life and perhaps her freedom are at stake, but she will do what it takes to rescue the teens and stop the mad scientist from destroying the world. Marko plans to cover the back of the woman he loves.

This is a terrific Athena Force romantic thriller that can stand alone but is enhanced by reading first LINE OF SIGHT by Rachel Caine. The action-packed story line is fast-paced even before Lindsey hears of the kidnapping and never slows down as she and Marko chase after a deranged diabolically clever scientist. Fans of the series will appreciate this fine exhilarating entry.

Rising Darkness
Cynthia Cooke
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373617708 $5.25

Cadre vampire Damien Hancock is a demon hunter. He is sent to Wolvesrain to protect cloistered innocent Emma McGovern from Asmos, a powerful demon, who will own her soul if she ever makes love with her soulmate.

Damien knows that Asmos is as dangerous of a demon as there is. He knows he must be at his best, but is distracted by the courage Emma displays as she struggles to prevent the family curse from being activated. However, she is attracted to Damien and him to her; neither can prevent what she assumes is the inevitability of the curse while Asmos salivates in anticipation of owning another soul; one that Damien believes belongs to him out of his love for her.

Using a wonderful twist in which the heroine knows that love is futile and short term as the connotation is eternity with a demon not her beloved. Thus Damien the vampiric demon hunter has his work cut out to keep Emma safe, but wonders who will keep her safe from him because if he acts on his needs, only Asmos wins. Paranormal romance fans will enjoy this fine Hobson's choice as abstinence seems to be the only way to insure the demon fails to get his Emma.

South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man
Caridad Pineiro
Downtown Press
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416514893 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

In Miami reporter Sylvia Amenabar owes her life to police officer Carlos Ramirez, who took a bullet intended for her. However, although filled with gratitude that is not why she is attracted to him; she finds the hunk sexy and kind, but also fears a deep relationship as her mother felt that way about her father, who abandoned both of them.

Meanwhile Sylvia investigates the shooting of a cop allegedly by Carlos. He pleads with her to drop her inquiry. This only leads to her questioning his motives as she begins to believe he is guilty. At the cost of their relationship, Sylvia continues to dig for the truth as she rationalizes any good reporter would do.

The second South Beach Chicas tale (see SEX AND THE SOUTH BEACH CHICAS) is a terrific South Florida investigative romantic suspense thriller. Sylvia is a superb protagonist as she distrusts Carlos although attracted to him; partly she believes deeply men leave as her father proved, but also thinks he is hiding the truth especially his role in a cop shooting. Although the mystery leaves some questions unresolved (perhaps for the other two Chicas' tales), Caridad Pineiro provides an entertaining chick lit investigative romance.

The Dowry Bride
Siobhan Bantwal
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758220318 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

In Palgaum, India, Megha Ramnath overhears her mother-in-law Amma insist that her son kill his wife because divorce is unacceptable, but a widower can find a new spouse. Amma is irate that Megha has failed to produce the heir and her father has not paid the dowry. Megha knows law enforcement will think she is an inane bride and not intervene until she is dead from the execution of a fiery plan. Frightened she flees into the night to escape the arson's death.

However, anyone she turns to for help will be ostracized by society. Her own family will reject her as a woman belongs to and with her husband and her best friend would be ruined. Megha decides her only hope resides with kindhearted Kiran, Ramnath's cousin; as he has showered her with respect although he has kept his distance from her. Outraged by his aunt's plan, he hides her in his apartment even while their attraction to each other turns to unacceptable love

THE DOWRY BRIDE is an insightful look at India's culture as the beleaguered heroine has no options once Amma decides she must go without a scandal; which means homicide not divorce. The story line is incredible when the frantic Megha seeks help; once she mentally settles in Kiran's apartment, the exigency and stress abates somewhat yet also continues to provide a powerful discerning look at relationships. Still this is a fabulous look at the importance of a dowry in India in spite of laws protecting the rights (and apparently the life) of a bride.

The Dowry Bride
Shobhan Bantwal
9780758220318 $14.00

In Palgaum, India, Megha Ramnath overhears her mother-in-law Amma insist that her son kill his wife because divorce is unacceptable, but a widower can find a new spouse. Amma is irate that Megha has failed to produce the heir and her father has not paid the dowry. Megha knows law enforcement will think she is an inane bride and not intervene until she is dead from the execution of a fiery plan. Frightened she flees into the night to escape the arson's death.

However, anyone she turns to for help will be ostracized by society. Her own family will reject her as a woman belongs to and with her husband and her best friend would be ruined. Megha decides her only hope resides with kindhearted Kiran, Ramnath's cousin; as he has showered her with respect although he has kept his distance from her. Outraged by his aunt's plan, he hides her in his apartment even while their attraction to each other turns to unacceptable love

THE DOWRY BRIDE is an insightful look at India's culture as the beleaguered heroine has no options once Amma decides she must go without a scandal; which means homicide not divorce. The story line is incredible when the frantic Megha seeks help; once she mentally settles in Kiran's apartment, the exigency and stress abates somewhat yet also continues to provide a powerful discerning look at relationships. Still this is a fabulous look at the importance of a dowry in India in spite of laws protecting the rights (and apparently the life) of a bride.

Real Vamps Don't Drink O-Neg
Tawny Taylor
9780758215093 $12.95

Ironically paranormal researcher Sophie Hahn is skeptical that the paranormal exists as she has found no hardcore supporting data to affirm ghosts, werewolves and other supernatural creatures exist. However, she learns the hard way that her disbelief is false when she investigates her best friend Dao's strange illness. Sophie has discovered that vampires exist because Dao's new spouse is of that species and though she loves him, she is a black widow killing her mate.

College professor and vampire Ric Vogel learns of Sophie's discovery and recruits her to help him find two ancient relics that he believes will save Dao's life and his species. As they work together, Sophie and Ric fall in love, but if they are not careful she could be conducting her research in the afterlife

REAL VAMPS DON'T DRINK O-NEG is an entertaining erotic vampire romantic thriller starring two likable protagonists who readers will root for as a team and to defeat the villain. The story line is fast-paced from the first moment Sophie and Ric meet and never slows down until the last blood drips. Although the ending seems anemic, fans will appreciate this fun tale as the good guys battle against the evil doers in between plenty of sexual interludes.

Candy Cane Murder
Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, Leslie Meir
9780758221988 $16.00

"Candy Cane Murder" by Joanne Fluke. Wayne, the owner of one of the most profitable store in town, is playing Santa for the children at the orphanage. He has laryngitis so he goes home after his performance. Hannah found him in the snow, the victim of a murderer. Naturally, Hannah, owner of The Cookie Shop, can't resist sleuthing and there are many suspects because the victim was a target who had a lot of enemies.

"The Danger of Candy Canes" by Laura Levine Freelance writer Jaine Austin is asked by her friend and client Seymour Fielder of Fielder on the Roof Roofers, to help him prove his innocence in the death of Garth Jenkins. He did a reroofing job at their home but when Garth went up there to put up Christmas decorations, he stepped on a loose tile and fell to his death. Jaine knows Seymour wouldn't leave any tiles loose around so she agrees to investigate and finds the dead man had enemies ranging from his neighbors who he played tricks on to get what he wanted to his law partner who he was blackmailing. Jaine learns sleuthing is dangerous to her health.

"Candy Canes of Christmas Past" by Leslie Meir. Lucy Stone of Tinker's Cove, Maine looks back to the first Christmas season in her new home, a fixer-upper on the verge of being condemned. She meets the town librarian who invites Lucy and her son Toby over to bake cookies. The librarian Miss Tilley confides in her that she always wondered if her abusive father killed her mother by throwing her down the stairs. Lucy promises she will find out the truth; that's how Lucy began solving mysteries.

All three of these holidays novellas are fun, enjoyable to read and each has a mystery that takes some hard thinking to solve. This work would make a great holiday present for a sweet tooth amateur sleuth.

Ultra Violet
Nancy Bush
9780758209092 $19.95

Dwayne Durban is head of his own private investigative firm; he has taken Jane Kelly on as his apprentice so she not only is a process server but she gets to work cases. Right now Jane is working all the cases because Dwayne is immobilized with a broken leg and he has taken up voyeurism spying with his binoculars at the neighbors across the street. Dwayne thinks one of the girls is in trouble and he wants Jane to investigate the tens who uses an empty home as a hang out.

While she is doing that she comes to the conclusion that something illegal is going on revolving around the high school star football player Keegan and she intends to find out what it is and if he is breaking the law bring him down. She is also working on the case of Violet Purcell who believes the police think she killed ex-husband, Roland Hatchmere. She wants Jane, who isn't so sure she is innocent, to prove that someone else killed her ex-husband. Since Dwayne believes she is innocent, Jane works double time because everyone involved with Roland, his two ex- wives, his children and all his friends think she is guilty. In the pursuit of proving Violet innocent, she breaks up a call girl ring and takes on a killer who nobody will ever believe murdered two men and is now going after Jane.

There are plenty of private investigator mysteries being written but Jane Kelly is original, unique, and funny. Her efforts not to fall in love with her boss and partner or buy the cottage she can afford are truly hilarious. Her relationship with the Binkster, her pug, is adorable and shows her caring vulnerable side of her self she tries to keep hidden. With homage to Rear Window, Nancy Bush creates delightful villains readers love to hate and her heroine is somebody most people will admire.

Lord of the Deep
Dawn Thompson
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758221797 $12.95

Shamans, her Aunt Adelia and her Uncle Olwyn, are mentoring their niece Meg in the Witching Ways on the Iles of Mists in the Principalities of Arcus. Lonely she sees seals playing in the nearby water, but in the blink of an eye, they vanish and men are frolicking instead. She wonders if they are the legendary Selkie when one of them, the seeming leader of the group, claims she called him. Simeon insists he, as the Lord of the Deep, will answer her magical calling.

He continues to see her although both their species would disown them for forging a taboo relationship. Simeon knows he has done broken the first commandment of his people by falling in love with a land dweller. Meanwhile Meg reciprocates, but knows the impossibility of their being together as he is a sea creature. However, love as the strongest magic of all is the only possible way that a sea immortal and land mortal can become one.

LORD OF THE DEEP is a fabulous erotic paranormal romance that fans of Dawn Thompson will enjoy. The underwater sea sex scenes seem believable as Simeon and Meg fall in love. Although greater emphasis on their species differences is lacking in the overall fine story line, readers will enjoy this under the sea romantic fantasy.

Mommies Behaving Badly
Roz Bailey
Kensington Brava
9780758209276 $12.95

Jack Dixon informs his wife Ruby that he has a career making opportunity on the other side of the country; she has doubts about relocation from New York to Portland, Oregon with their three kids. However, her hesitation vanishes when someone steals her car; the second time her vehicle has been stolen.

However, the Portland burbs prove boring for the big city published writer and with Jack never home, she feels like a single mom raising her kids by herself. She struggles on meeting her deadline for her second book and her only pal in town is New York Ariel, hated by the local gentry who belong to the PTA. Still, Ruby is beginning to understand that stress can be anywhere as she realizes how she excels at mothering, writing, and friendship, but apparently realizes she don't know jack about her husband, but plans to seductively fix that.

Ruby is terrific as the center of this fine family drama as she and her pal Ariel as they travel "The Mommy Track". Fans will laugh and cry at her antics as she struggles with raising her kids in a foreign land with an absentee husband while wondering if you can't make it in New York can you make it elsewhere especially when the suburban PTA cops are on patrol?

The Royal Mess
MaryJanice Davidson
Kensington Brava
9780758212085 $14.00

In the independent Kingdom of Alaska the Rodinov clan protects the royal Baranov family as they have for generations. So when wilderness hunting guide Nicole Krenski informs the royals that her recently deceased mother left her proof that her father is the king, Jeffrey Rodinov is sent to protect and escort the wrong side of the bed princess to her father's palace.

Nicole Krenski makes it clear that her body does not need guarding, but besides obeying a royal command to give her THE ROYAL TREATMENT, Jeffrey likes guarding her body although she is a ROYAL PAIN. As he teaches her Alaskan royalty and keeps her safe, suitors come from all over the kingdom, but only Jeffrey seems right as Nicole struggles with the ROYAL MESS caused by her deathbed pledge to her mom.

The third Alaskan Royal Family alternate history is another wild zany romantic suspense caper with the laughs coming in rapid machine gun fire from start to finish. The story line is fast-paced but a bit anemic. However, MaryJanice Davidson's fans will roar in laughter at the antics of the un-royal royal, as her vulgar earthly retorts to her polished upper crust suitors and especially the hero's zingers make for a fun lighthearted frolic.

The Maidenstone Lighthouse
Sally Smith O'Rourke
9780758220646 $14.00

Grief stricken by the tragic death of her beloved Bobby in a plane crash over the Pacific and lacking closure as his body and those of the other victims were never found, Susan Mark needs time away from the memories of her fiance that is everywhere. She heads to property she inherited from her great aunt in Freedman's Cove, Rhode Island. She goes there because her fondest memories were the summers she spent there.

To her shock, the ghost of an ancestor visits Sue, who learns the spirit died tragically. Sue also meets childhood summer friend Dan Freedman. With his help, she begins to accept her loss and move on with her life. However, as Sue and Don fall in love, a second tragedy leaves Sue shattered once again.

Two mysteries, past and present, make for a wonderful contemporary tale starring a likable protagonist who when she sees the apparition for the first time wonders if she is losing her mind due to her grief. Sue owns the exciting well written story line as she struggles to find solace only to deal with a hundred year old mystery and her growing attraction to dependable Dan; ironically the first somewhat occupies her mind while the second her heart but also makes her feel guilty that she is deserting Bobby. THE MAIDENSTONE LIGHTHOUSE is an entertaining amateur sleuth paranormal romance.

The Pleasure Palace
Evangeline Anderson
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758215369 $12.95

New Brooklyn peace control officers Shaina McCullough and Brent Tyson are attracted to one another, but deny it hiding behind rationalizations. However, they are to work together undercover at the notorious Executor's Palace on lawless Syrius Six, known as the Pleasure Planet in order to rescue the kidnapped child of the Chancellor from who knows what depravation that sexual slave trading brings.

Shaina is to masquerade as a wealthy mistress while Brent will be her obedient love slave. Both law enforcement officials have mixed feelings about their teaming up on this assignment though he has mentored her in the past. Shaina thinks she will have her way with the hunk and get him out of her system; Brent plans to teach his former top student just who is in charge though he knows he wants her with all his soul or at least one body part. On the Pleasure Planet, they make love in various ways as if each knows this may be their last act together as danger mounts.

This is a terrific futuristic erotic science fiction police procedural romance. The key to this merging of three genres is Syrius Six seems genuine as a place where money can buy any decadent thing imaginable enabling the slave trade to thrive. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing whether they are bonding over bondage while trying to rescue the child. Evangeline Anderson provides an exciting thriller escorting her audience to the delights and debauchery of THE PLEASURE PALACE.

Sexy Beast III
Kate Douglas, Lacy Dane & Morgan Hawke
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758219879 12.95

"Chanku Journey" by Kate Douglas. At the wedding of bonded mates Tia and Luc, their pack compatriots of the Chanku like Jacob, Baylor, and Shannon begin the motorbike drive to San Francisco for the gala. To pass time they share tales of erotica and danger as only shapeshifters understand as they deal with the aftermath of a plane crash.

"Kiss of the Dragon" by Lacy Danes. The Royals send weredragon Chester on an assignment where he meets his soul mate. Somewhat distracted by his erotic desires and his efforts to persuade her they belong together, he soon needs Nora to save his life.

"Winter's Kiss" by Morgan Hawke. Animal photographer Kasi travels to mountains in Japan seeking a special tiger, who saved her life when she was a child lost in a blizzard here. Instead she finds Yuki, who knew she was his mate when he saved her life as a young weretiger years ago

These three well written paranormal erotic romances will bring out the SEXY BEAST III in readers as each is exciting, heated, and entertaining.

Touch Me
Susan Lyons
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758217028 $12.95

Twenty-eight years old lawyer Ann Montgomery is so stressed out she grinds her teeth, which tightens her jaw and causes sever pain in her neck. After meeting with her pals from the Awesome Foursome, she decides a massage might help her relax. Thus she makes an appointment to see massage therapist Adonis Stefanakis.

Adonis and Ann are attracted to one another even before the first rub. As they spend plenty of time together, they rotate who's in charge even in the boudoir. They are falling in love, but she fears things are happening too fast and that a long term relationship could impact her career goals; he tries to convince her that she can have both him and her career.

The return of Canada's Awesome Foursome is a delightful erotic romance starring the aptly named massage therapist and the client who needs his magic touch. The story line is at its best when these two rub each other as the heat is entertainingly on. Though the updating of the lead couples from CHAMPAIGN RULES and HOT IN HERE feels intrusive, fans will enjoy this fine hot romance in which the massages feels good.

Restless Wind
Aimee Thurlo
Harlequin Intrigue
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373692781 $4.99

Brotherhood of Warriors tribal protector Ranger Blueeyes has vowed to keep his people the Navaho safe. However, he extends his protection to keep schoolteacher Dana Seles safe as several attempts on abducting her has occurred. Someone believes that Hastiin Sani, a murdered medicine man, provided secrets of the Brotherhood of Warriors to her when they met during a teacher-parent conference; those revelations are information that only the chief would know, but Hastiin realized he was dying and would pass it to a soul he trusted even though she is white.

Dana knows she was warned to trust no one by Hastiin, but remains free only because of Ranger's actions. She knows who committed the homicide on Navaho land and needs to expose the culprit. Still she wonders what Ranger's motive truly is to risk his life to protect her is. As they fall in love, she needs to tell the truth to someone but to whom.

RESTLESS WIND is an entertaining Navaho romantic suspense thriller starring two likable honorable people. The story line is fast-paced as Ranger knows the woman he loves and believes loves him for some reason does not trust him with whatever secret Hastiin told her before dying. Fans will appreciate Aimee Thurlo's latest intrigue as the hero must convince his beloved to trust him.

Don't Say a Word
Rita Herron
Harlequin HQN
9780373772179 $6.99

The woman's hand is found sticking out of the swamp of the bayou; Antwaun Dubois recognizes the ring on her finger that he gave her several months ago before she vanished. The police believe he committed her murder. His brother FBI Special Agent Damon Dubois refuses to believe his sibling committed a homicide so he decides to prove otherwise.

In the Bayou, Damon meets Crystal, who looks like the sister of the deceased. Crystal cannot remember anything about her past suffering from amnesia. Damon believes she is the key to the murder, but also believes she is his sibling's beloved so he hides his feelings from her. As they work together to recover her memory and look for clues to who she is, they fall in love. However, someone wants her to never remember her past, especially her recent history; if that means killing her so be it.

DON'T SAY A WORD is an action-packed investigative romantic suspense that is filled with twists and turns and cleverly uses the Bayou and post Katrina New Orleans as a backdrop. The story line is fast-paced with an incredible climax. Although the romantic subplot between Crystal and Damon seems forced, Rita Herron provides a strong thriller that will have suspense fans wondering what spin is next while romance readers will be a bit disappointed.

A Reckless Beauty
Kasey Michaels
Harlequin HQN
9780373772162 $6.99

When Fanny Beckett's beloved adopted "brother" Rain joins Wellington's army, she does what she always does, follows him to Brussels. To do so she cuts her hair and puts on a male military uniform. However, her masquerade fails and she is exposed as an inane female. Rain asks officer Valentine Clement, an earl, to insure his sibling is safe. When the battle occurs at Waterloo, Val rescues Fanny. However, word from the front line is that Rain died honorably in combat though no body is recovered.

Val escorts the grieving Fanny back to her home at Romney Marsh. He soon learns the family secrets and that an unknown adversary arranged for Rain to vanish. Val vows to use his influence as an earl and his skill to insure Fanny remains safe even as she takes risks that keep him hopping because he is falling in love with her.

The latest Beckets of Romney Marsh tale (see THE DANGEROUS DEBUTANTE, BEWARE OF VIRTUOUS WOMEN, A MOST UNSUITABLE GROOM, and A GENTLEMAN BY ANY OTHER NAME) continues the fun regency saga of misfits. This time it is faithful fearless Fanny forcing friends, foes, and fans to follow her frolics.

Total Control
Pamela Britton
Harlequin HQN
9780373772421 $6.99

When NASCAR renowned bad boy Todd Peters fails to meet his commitment that he made with Miracles, formerly known as the Wishing Tree Foundation; Indi Wilcox is outraged. She and the other workers at Miracles try to grant the wish of seriously ill children so to have some hot shot disappoint Benjamin Koch is contemptible. Angry, Indi plans to confront the mean spirited Todd to fulfill his promise.

Todd surprises Indi by doing just that and much more as he continues to visit the child. He also tries to persuade Indi to go out with him, but she went around the track with one of his peers so she refuses to date a driver. He pressures her TO THE LIMIT to take a chance on riding with him through the DANGEROUS CURVES of a relationship.

Pamela Britton's latest NASCAR romance (see ON THE EDGE) is an exciting tale that combines a strong racing drama with the powerful vast emotions of a person watching the suffering of a loved one from cancer. The story line moves around the track smoothly, but also poignantly with Indi's efforts to grant a wish for the ailing little Ben. Fans will lose control with this superb affecting contemporary.

The Marriage Wager
Candace Camp
Harlequin HQN
9780373772438 $6.99

In London widow Lady Francesca Haughton insists that she can insure that any young lady will be engaged by the end of the season. Her pal Lord Sinclair bets her she cannot, but he insists that he chooses the chit. Confident to the point of arrogant cockiness Francesca accepts his wager and terms.

Sinclair picks spinster Constance "the Nobody" Woodley, who lives with her uncle ever since her father died. Her season is simple; she will chaperone her spoiled cousins while they have seasons. Thus when Francesca takes an interest in her with the desire to sponsor her, Constance cannot fathom why this elegant lady would want to be seen with a Nobody. However, although expecting a price to pay, Constance decides not to worry as she enjoys the galas she suddenly attends as a participant. When she meets Lord Dominic Leighton, she falls in love, but knows her sponsor's brother is as out of her league as Francesca is.

The first Matchmaker tale is an amusing amiable Regency romance that readers will enjoy although the story line is somewhat typical of the sub-genre except perhaps for Francesca willing to wager against men. The lead couple is a Cinderella-Prince Charming match-up that will enthrall fans with its improbable yet realistic courtship (no mice or fairy godmothers of course) as the Nobody and the rake fall in love. Candace Camp's fans know she is a sure bet to provide an entertaining historical.

Coming Undone
Susan Anderson
Harlequin HQN
9780373772131 7.99

When Priscilla Jayne Morgan was thirteen her mother tossed out of her home forcing the frightened teen to live on Denver's mean streets. However, the child survived and fifteen years later Pricilla Jayne became a musical star. She even let her mother become her manager. When her mom abused her trust and money, she finally fired her.

Her mom worked the media to make it seem like Priscilla Jayne was an ingrate ironically tossing her loving kind mom on to the streets after she did so much for her. Even her record label believes Priscilla Jayne is an untrustworthy maniac who will skip out of the upcoming concerts, as that is the image mom painted of her. The Semper Fi Investigations is hired to keep an eye on her; agent Jared Hamilton is sent to insure Priscilla Jayne shows up when she is supposed too over the next six weeks. They know each other from their teen nights on the Denver streets when she as a thirteen year old girl mentored him as a newcomer seventeen year old at a time he was accused of killing his father (see HOT AND BOTHERED). When they meet for the first time in several years, each knows they want the other.

The sequel to HOT AND BOTHERED is a fabulous contemporary romance starring two adults who met as teens living on the streets; thus the story line is a sort of second chance at love. Jared and PJ are superb lead characters and their relationship as passionate and heated as the fall in love. Although mom is over the top with not one redeeming quality, COMING UNDONE is an enjoyable character driven tale that will elate fans of Susan Anderson, who will recognize the prime pair.

Witchy Business
Julie Leto, Rhonda Nelson, and Mia Zachary
9780373837168 $5.99

"Under His Spell" by Julie Leto. The witches' guardian Regina St. Lyon's expels her lover Brock Aegis to the Middle Realm for betraying her. He returns when he fears for her life and kills ancient witch hunter Old Movert while Regina has lost her powers because love is a critical essence of a witch.

"Disenchanted" by Rhonda Nelson. His wizard kin are disappointed in Benedict DeWin as his powers have not surfaced, which means his arranged marriage cannot occur as he will not be able to perform the required ritual. He is sent to Magecraft where he meets his fiancee's sister Bryony Flynn, another person whose magic has failed to surface. That is until now.

"Spirit Dance" by Mia Zachary. Herbalist Siobhan Silverhawk had accepted that the magic her family is known to possess has passed her by until now. When she meets widower J.B. Pendleton she falls in love and feels she can now perform magic. He is skeptical that she has any skills though he could use some as he insists the spirit of his deceased wife is haunting him.

These three enchanting paranormal romances will cast a spell on the sub-genre's coven.

Klondike Wedding
Kate Bridges
Harlequin Historical
9780373294633 $5.99

In 1898, Genevieve Summerville arrives from Montana in Dawson City, Yukon to get married. However, since her fiance Joshua McFadden is in the goldfields, Mountie Inspector Luke Hunter agrees to be the groom's proxy. Judge Donahue presides over the ceremony and after pronouncing them as man and wife, he drops dead. On the marriage certificate, Donahue wrote Genevieve Summerville and Luke Hunter.

The entire wedding party who came into contact with Donahue is quarantined until authorities can determine what or who killed the judge. As the Mountie and the Big Sky expatriate fall in love with a zillion chaperones, Joshua returns to town to see his woman.

With a touch of a medical mystery (what killed the judge?) to enhance a delightful late nineteenth century Canadian romance, Kate Bridges refreshes her wonderful Mountie tales. Luke is a gentle person except when it comes to criminals but though he desires his wife feels he guilty re his friend; while Genevieve is a confused soul as she desires her spouse but also wonders what to do about her fiance; Joshua rounds out the confused triangle nicely as he thinks American woman come away with me (The Guess Who will get over it as we American Women know our worth is beyond war machines). KLONDIKE WEDDING is another vivid northern neighborly historical winner.

Winter Woman
Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Historical
9780373292714 $5.50

In 1835 widower Thomas Nash prefers the single life that he has led since his wife died four years ago. The trapper prefers solitude and the mountains provide him with plenty of that.

Since her missionary husband died several months ago, Cordelia Channing has barely survived in the mountains. However, "flat heads" find and abduct her before bartering her off on a disgusted Nash. Irate he has no choice but to trade for her and bring her with him as no one heading east will come by in the next few months until the trappers' rendezvous occurs. However he is stunned by her grit and courage as she shoots a ferocious bear, rejects several marriage proposals from Indian chiefs, and escapes capture amongst her other adventures. However, all that is child play as she fears she lost the most important thing for her survivability; having Nash return her love.

WINTER WOMAN is a reprint of a fine historical romance. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Cordelia meets Tomas and never slows down until the climax. This coupling will remind readers of the Amazon Queen pairing even if the time period and location differ. Fans will appreciate Jenna Kernan's delightful Americana tale of love between two seemingly opposites with neither wanting nor prepared for such a strong emotion as that which comes with this second chance.

Legends and Lies
Katherine Garbera
Harlequin NASCAR
9780373217786 $5.99

The Jenner family is legends on the NASCAR racing circuit. The father Brandon and his son Dave are highly regarded drivers and the daughter Annie is a well known Sports Illustrated photographer. Annie is working on a book following the exploits of her twin brother Dave when he is in an accident.

Soon afterward she meets tycoon Jared MacNeil, the sponsor of Dave's top opponent, Tucker. Jared knows he loves Annie, but fears she may be part of the team with her sibling to sabotage Tucker's car. Annie knows she loves Jared, but after a bad marriage and heeding Dave's accusations towards Tucker, she wonders if she can trust him. This relationship appears doomed to never reach the checkered flag.

The team competition makes for a fun NASCAR romance as the lead couple struggle between loyalty and love. The story line is fast around the track as the heated rivalry between Dave and Tucker especially the sabotage hinder the relationship between Annie and Jared. Although Katherine Garbera provides a nice spin, this one could have been legendary if the author dug deep into the trauma of being a Romeo and Juliet NASCAR pair in love.

The Rookie
Jennifer LaBrecque
Harlequin NASCAR
9780373217779 $5.99

Over the objections of her two older brothers, wealthy Maddy Felton is elated that her businessman father has placed her in charge of public relations for their rookie NASCAR driver, Tucker Macray. This is her first job ever and her knowledge of NASCAR is noisy and dirty.

Maddy gets off to a bad start with Tucker when she recommends he sees her stylist to fix his hair, which she realizes is why he is called "Bed Head Macray." However, as they go around the Atlanta Speedway together with his hair a mess and she proving to be a klutz, they fall in love.

Although this reviewer agrees with Maddy's siblings that she should not be in charge of PR for Tucker as the only business she has run is credit card bills for other businesses, THE ROOKIE is a fine contemporary NASCAR romance. The lead pairing of the rich girl who never gets down and dirty getting down and dirty for the driver who never has a strand of hair in place ready to go to the salon for her makes for a fun team. Fans will enjoy their laps around the speedway with their hearts racing as they find an oval path to love.

My Secret Life
Lori Wilde
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793501 $4.99

Her sister Brooke tells Katie Winfield that she remains stuck in the anger phase of grief since their blueblood mom passed away. Katie knows she is running away from the pain anyway she can. At a masquerade party, Katie sleeps with wealthy realtor Liam James, Brooke's boyfriend. She rationalizes her act by thinking he wore a mask until they did the deed and besides her sibling says she is ending their relationship.

Katie has an initiation to join the M&B club. She chooses Liam to assist her as she still has the hots for him; he feels the same way about her. As they share the greatest sex in either of their lives, both realize they are in love. However, she believes love hurts and he never overcame the desertion of his mother by his famous father.

The first Martini Dares' tale is an enjoyable heated contemporary romance in which neither of the lead couple trusts in long term commitments; as both in differing lessons knows that love ends painfully in a short time. Adding to the dilemma is Brooke, as Liam and Katie do not want to hurt her. Fans will root for this couple from opposite walks of life (she is generational wealth; he is generational poverty) to make it without hurting the sister.

Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793518 $4.99

In Chicago, former marine Nick Santori knew Isabella Natale when she was little "Izzy" growing up in Little Italy. When he sees her in her family's bakery, Nick thinks she is beautiful and wants her. When she sees Nick in the bakery, her feelings of wanting him as a teen remains as strong as an adult.

Nick works as a bodyguard at a night club that some might say is a strip joint. Though confused and wondering how shallow he feels; as he desires Izzy, Nick also has the hots for exotic dancer Crimson Rose, whose velvet mask is almost as enticing as her exotic G-string. Crimson Rose knows the new bodyguard as she has desired him since they grew up in Little Italy together. Although as Izzy she does not have the guts to seduce Nick, as her alter ego Rose she does.

This is an entertaining torrid contemporary romance that seems a bit over the top as Nick fails to realize that Crimson Rose is his Izzy. The story line is character driven by Izzy whether she is the baker or the erotic dancer. In either persona, she knows she loves Nick, but assumes he does not reciprocate beyond being a pal. He will prove her wrong as he willingly is seduced by the dancer and plans to seduce the baker because he may feel fickle but loves "both" women.

Beauty Shop Tales
Nancy Robards Thompson
Harlequin Next
9780373881420 $5.50

With the death of her husband sports reporter Chet, thirty-five years old widow Avril Carson leaves Hollywood as a stylist to the stars to return to her hometown of Sago Beach, Florida to work at her mom's beauty shop. While doing the hair of the stars, Avril learned that "appearance is everything" and that "reality is the biggest illusion of all"; consisting of 99.9% perception. Of course the plane flight has too much reality especially since she is carrying Chet's ashes although the cowboy Max Wright sitting next to her is nice. Still she is going back to do hair in a town whose population is 212.

However, in spite of at times feeling overwhelmed by the warmth of the customers at her mom's shop, Avril feels welcomed. She struggles to keep the secrets that her clients share with her as if they confess to her as a holy person, but she tries her best to not divulge who is doing what to whom to others. Max wants to see her, but she still grieves Chet and must forgive others as well as herself for there is ailing Kally, hurting Zane, and the little child Sam to take care of before Avril can move on.

Told in the first person by Avril, BEAUTY SHOP TALES is a warm contemporary relationship tale. Avril is terrific as she holds the story line together by learning to forgive transgressions that hurt her so that she can once again live life to the fullest. Readers will appreciate this well written story with a small dose of sidebar chick lit commentary to add lightness to a deep poignant family drama.

Doctor in the House
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Next
978037388141X $5.50

Everyone who meets Dr. Ivan "the Terrible" Munro detests him although he is recognized as the best neurosurgeon at Blaire memorial Hospital. Ivan likes saving lives, but ironically loathes people. Those forced to work for him fear his wrath as he is sarcastic and condemning especially of residents, nurses, and other medical professionals.

Bailey Del Monico is the latest resident trained by Ivan. He is nasty as always with his acerbic barbs about her incompetence. Although his ugly commentary hurts, Bailey refuses to show he intimidates her. Having grown up as part of a missionary family in Africa, she has participated in much worse than a few caustic comments. However, she also sees the vulnerability Ivan hides from everyone with his acerbic armor so she reaches out to him risking his slicing her arm and her heart.

Ivan actually makes this a delightful contemporary medical romance as his terrible bedside manner is somewhat abated with a sharp dry humor. He meets his match in the Pollyanna of residents as Bailey refuses to back down. Marie Ferrarella provides a warm character driven tale starring two doctors in the house.

Summer After Summer
Ann DeFee
Harlequin Everlasting
9780373654185 $5.25

In 1973 Texas, Jasmine Boudreaux loves Charlie Morrison, but he is dating her close friend Bunny Bennett. Loyalty to her pal keeps Jaz from pursuing Charlie. Even after he breaks off with Bunny, she sees him briefly, but leaves for college.

They meet again at their twentieth anniversary high school reunion where she realizes she still loves Charlie. However, she is marrying her California architectural business partner. So they go their separate ways.

In 2007, a divorced Jasmine has returned to Texas to start anew. Widower Charlie is a local pediatrician raising his son in their hometown. When they meet, neither has an adult entanglement, but he must tend to his son's needs first and she fears the hurt commitment causes.

This is an interesting romance that shows love survives even distance in time and place. Over three decades Jaz and Charlie never seem to time it right until now. As they enter middle age, Jaz vows to spend the rest of her life with the man she always loved, but will Charlie agree? Although the 1993 segue seems pale as the angst seems overly dramatic especially compared to 1973 and the present, fans will enjoy this character study of love remaining strong through three decades.

Upstairs at Miss Hattie
Ken Casper
Harlequin Everlasting
9780373654178 $5.25

Out of love for her spouse, Sarah Clyburn decides to divorce her architect husband Bram so he is not impacted by the scandal that is brewing over her. The wife of a political rival has proof that Sarah paid her college tuition as an escort.

Bram's grandparents, Evvie and Edgar know the pair deeply love each other and wants them to reconsider. Evvie tells Sarah that years ago she earned a living as one of those girls at Miss Hattie's house of ill repute. That was how she supported her dirt poor Oklahoma family during the depression. Feeling ashamed of what she did Evvie was going to throw away Edgar's love for his sake until he went overseas fighting for America during WW II. She prayed for him everyday to come back to her; as her past had nothing to do with the present or future except to affirm she was a strong person willing to sacrifice virtue for food for her family. Six plus decades later her loving marriage to Edgar is the legacy she leaves to Sarah and Bram to match and top.

UPSTAIRS AT MISS HATTIE is a well written tale that affirms there is still plenty of room for creative story lines. The relationships, past and present, are fully developed so that the audience knows the four prime players. Readers will especially appreciate Evvie who did what she had to do to insure her family had food on the table during the Depression and while her Edgar served overseas during WW II. Ken Casper provides a strong family drama starring fully developed likable characters, especially the women, willing to do whatever for the benefit of their loved ones.

Adopted Son
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714407 $5.50

In Austin, Texas Ranger Jeremiah 'Tuck' Tucker finds the abandoned two year old at a crime scene. The evidence is overwhelming that the infant has been neglected and Tuck's heart reaches out to the little boy, who has no family or home. Tuck decides to adopt Brady.

However, attorney Grace Whitten represents another couple who want to raise the child. Tuck is irate as she is his half-sister-in-law's sister and so should be on his side. Grace who has been half in love with Tuck since she met him at her sister's wedding, drops out of the case because of personal interests. Her action opens up Tuck's mind to the sensitive caring woman who wants what is best for Brady.

Although the abandoned baby as a matchmaker has been used as a theme a zillion times, Linda Warren refreshes it with the legal battle over guardianship. Tuck and Grace are likable characters who each in their own way want what's best for Brady. Brady's history is horrifying as his addicted mom Nicole Harper neglects him, his grandmother is dying from cancer, and his biological father is dead. Fans will want the best too for the little guy while also seeking out the story of Tuck's half-brother Eli and Grace's sister Caroline (see FORGOTTEN SON).

Texas Baby
Kathleen O'Brien
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714414 $5.50

College student and waitress Josie Whitfield is elated to learn she is pregnant as she thinks she loves her boyfriend Chase Clayton IV. However, when she goes to inform him, she is stunned as he left without a word. Outraged, she heads to his vast Clayton Creek ranch to confront him. Josie crashes Chase's engagement party that includes enough guests to fill up Texas University's football stadium.

Even more stunning is she finds this Clayton is not her Clayton. He agrees to help her find the scoundrel even though she destroyed the gala and embarrassed his fiancee Susannah Everly. As they travel together, the real Clayton and Josie are falling in love, but his engagement to his neighbor requires he do the honorable thing by her so she can control her family ranch.

The real Clayton is too nice a guy to be real as his sacrifices are beyond noble; for instance he is willing to marry to help his neighbor and goes on the quest to help Josie find the scoundrel pretending to be him. Still in spite of this perfect paragon, TEXAS BABY is a fun contemporary romance as the modern day chivalrous knight in shining armor and the damsel in distress make a fine couple while his engagement to Susannah adds complications to the lead couple's changing relationship.

The Horseman's Secret
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714445 $5.50

New to Wesley Junior and Senior High School, science and social studies schoolteacher Regan Flynn wants to do a good job with her students as she is a dedicated professional. However, the first parent she meets is horse rancher Will Bishop when she caught his daughter Kylie smoking. She asks if he would sell her a horse, but he informs her she is too late as he has only one left in stock and that steed hates women having been abused by a female owner.

The horse trainer and the teacher are attracted to one another although he fears seeing someone seriously after hiding the truth from Kylie re her mom Desiree. They begin to date, but a disciplinarian PE teacher objects with her going out with the father of one of her students causing her problems with the administration and the parents; and his daughter misbehaves as she has problems with her dad dating anyone including her teacher.

The key to this contemporary romance is the negative reactions of other people to the relationship between Regan and Will. Kylie steals the show as she fears that her father will neglect her like her mother does and eventually be hurt when the adult relationship collapses as marriages start with a bang but end with a whimper. Although fans may doubt that this couple will make it into next week, THE HORSEMAN'S SECRET is a fine ranch romance.

Dancing with Dalton
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American
9780373751822 $4.99

In Hot Pepper, Louisiana, newly elected president of the local Chamber of Commerce Dalton Montgomery looks forward to the work although he knows most of the locals will measure him against his father, president of the local bank. That comparison is fine as far as Dalton is concerned as he looks up to his dad. Only one thing disturbs him is that his first test is dancing a tango with Miss Hot Pepper; Dalton knows he cannot dance.

He needs lessons so he does not make complete fool of himself or step all over his partner's toes as he insists his prom date from fifteen years ago still limps. He goes to the new dance studio opened up by newcomer widow Rose Vasquez. As she teaches him to tango, they fall in love, but Rose's first concern remains her young daughter Anna and not a second chance at love.

DANCING WITH DALTON is a fun contemporary tale that uses dancing to set the stage for romancing. Neither Dalton nor Rose wanted love at this time, but both are attracted to one another from the first step. Contemporary romance readers will want to join the lead couple as they dance to the tango of love.

One Stubborn Texan
Kara Lennox
Harlequin American
9780373751846 $4.99

Linhart, Texas is a quiet small Hill Country town. At least it sued to be quiet; then New York City private investigator Sydney Baines of Baines and Baines arrives looking for Russ Klein, owner of the general store. She explains she tracks down heirs of lost money for a fee. His biological father Sammy Oberlin left him $10 million.

Russ is not interested in the money and though he would love a fling with the big city slicker, he wants her to leave. He fears that if his mom, Sammy's widow, learns about the inheritance she would rush back to Las Vegas and her gambling addiction would explode. Sydney tries to persuade him with her assets to collect his assets so she can earn her finder's fee of 10%, as her family desperately needs the money. They fall in love in spite of their differing opinions..

The key to this amusing tale is Sydney's frustration and attraction to ONE STUBBORN TEXAN, who does not want the money that she can obtain for him. The changing relationship seems off kilter, as the lead couple each has family problems but to their credit neither welcomes the feelings of love at this time. Fans will enjoy Kara Lennox's lighthearted romp.

Breaking All the Rules
Marisa Carroll
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights
9780373389636 $5.50

Sports reporter Lola Sandler has mixed feelings about losing out on a big story back home as she sails down the Mediterranean on the cruise ship Alexandra's Dream celebrating her mom's sixty-fifth birthday. On the one hand she would like to cover the story involving her former husband, but she needs to be there for mom too.

However, she is stunned as also on board is Eric Lashman, who's thought of with notables like Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa. Four years ago he was at the front of the pack competing in the final round of the Masters Tournament when he left to vanish into legend. Although she wants to interview him to learn why he gave up on winning the green jacket, she instead ends up making love with him. However, when he learns she is a journalist, he assumes she prostituted herself like reporters do so he wants nothing further to do with her even if they soared like eagles on their first hole together as he assumes she is a double bogie.

This is a fabulous Mediterranean cruise romance as the lead couple fall in love on Alexandra's Dream (see THE TYCOON'S SON by Cindy Kirk), but once he learns she is his "natural" enemy being a reporter, his deep feelings becomes a sand trap. The story line is fast-paced due to the changing relationship between the lead couple. As fans wonder why Eric vanished from Augusta to teach golf on a cruise ship, readers will also wonder if the romance between him and Lola will prove sub-par for the course.

The Baby Chronicles
Judy Baer
Steeple Hill (Harlequin)
9780373785872 $6.99

When she turned thirty Whitney Black assumed she would never marry as she vowed to never settle for anyone except her soul mate. When she kept running into her best friend Kim's Doctor, Chase Andrews, she realized he was her destiny. He swept her off her feet and they married (see THE WHITNEY CHRONICLES).

Whitney, Kim, and their other best bud Mitzi discuss how neat it would be if the three were pregnant at the same time so that their children could become best friends like them. However, the road to babyhood proves more complex than the three decades path to marriage. As Whitney chronicles her adventures in pregnancy driving the patient Chase crazy, she shares her turmoil her pregnant pals, who drive their spouses insane too.

Whitney's latest adventures, this time in pregnancy mode, are entertaining and spiritually uplifting as she struggles with her delicate condition, but thanks God (and Chase) for her happy life. The story line starts a bit slow as the audience is reintroduced to the dynamic trio and their husbands, but once Whitney's journal begins to discuss her pregnancy and its raging hormones, THE BABY CHRONICLES turn into a fascinating read. Fans will appreciate this fine look at the bare essentials of creating a life.

Forbidden Fantasy
Cheryl Holt
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312942557 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In 1814 London, twenty-five years old Lady Caroline Foster has been betrothed to Lord John Clayton for quite awhile, but she patiently waits for him to set the date they marry. However, instead he uncaringly jilts her and weds someone else. Caroline is stunned by the scandal as the Ton assumes she is at fault.

Knowing she will probably accept the next proposal to come her way by widowers two and three times her age and knowing her reputation is battered, Caroline decides she will first taste passion before marital imprisonment. She turns to noted rake Ian Clayton, John's illegitimate Scottish half-brother. Ian has been attracted to Caroline but has hidden his feelings from her so eagerly accepts being her sexual mentor. However, he initially assumed he was in lust, but quickly realizes he loves his apprentice and feels she reciprocates, but to persuade her that their FORBIDDEN FANTASY is forever proves difficult especially when rumors spread about her lineage.

This terrific heated Regency romance stars two fully developed protagonists that share in common, desire, love, and doubts. The story line is driven by their changing relationship, which before their sexual encounters was based on her being a snob towards people like him; an offspring of an illicit affair with a commoner. Cheryl Holt provides a delightful tale as Ian and Caroline find their FORBIDDEN FANTASY fulfilled, but for how long.

Beyond Eden
S.L. Linnea
St. Martin's
9780312942151 $6.99

While serving in Iraq in 2003, Army Chaplain (Major) Jamie Richards learns that the Sword of Life was stolen from the Baghdad Museum and must be reclaimed as that biblical artifact leads to the location of the Garden of Eden (see CHASING EDEN). She remains at Eden for the next two and a half years, but must leave paradise as an "Agent of Eden" on a mission in the "Terris" world beyond.

Four abductions seemingly unconnected over ten weeks around the globe occurred from London to New York State to China and finally Virginia. To the law enforcement types of the respective areas there is no thought of a link. However each of the four and another kidnapping consist of Edenite offspring working in the world at large. Jaime is assigned to rescuing the children and uncovering who is the culprit. Yani, who enlisted her help in recovering the Sword of Life, joins her on her mission that takes them BEYOND EDEN.

This exciting sequel packs plenty of global action in a short time frame yet contains an interesting societal issue on the ethical boundaries of science that are mindful of Ayn Rand and the debate on stem cell research. The story line is fast-paced while the heroine is a likable protagonist who struggles with the questions of her faith when she returns to the mortal realm of pain and suffering while immortality is a Garden away. S.L. Linnea provides a deep thought provoking thriller.

Wicked Magic
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
9780312949570 $6.99

In San Francisco D'Anu witch Rhiannon Castle hides from her coven sisters that the Shadows dwell inside her. She believes these others enabled her to read the mind of the recently freed evil goddess Ceithlenn, who plots to liberate her mate, Balor. Together they plan to destroy the world; however for now Ceithlenn eats human souls to regain her power so that she can free Balor.

Tuatha D'Danann warrior Keir comes to San Francisco Otherworld where he meets Rhiannon and becomes a believer in love at first sight. He wants her and knows she is his soul mate. However, although the D'Anu witch reciprocates his desires, she knows the Shadows could kill him so she tries to keep him at arms' length and hides what resides inside of her. As the war turns worse for the D'Anu witches and their Tuatha D'Danann warrior allies, Ceithlenn appears on the brink of succeeding in freeing Balor.

The latest Magic tale (see SEDUCED BY MAGIC and FORBIDDEN MAGIC) continues what is some of the best romantic fantasy on the market today. The story line is fast-paced and the lead couple is hot and heroic while the war looks increasingly helpless. Fantasy and romance readers will want to read the newest entry in the McCray mythos as this thriller is pure WICKED MAGIC.

P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312360283 $8.95

When Zoey Redbird was MARKED by the vampyre goddess Nyx, it was known that she would turn into a vampyre or die while being at the House of Night, a school and home for fledglings who need to be with their own kind and away from humans. However Zoey is not a normal fledgling because unlike her so called peers she has aMark yhat is filled in and an affinity for all elementals.

Thank to her mentor The High Priestess, Zoe is the new leader of the Dark Daughters and the enemy of Aphrodite and her clique who tortured others and called up vampiric ghosts. High school football players that Zoe knew when she was human are found dead. When her former boyfriend Heath, whom she still cares about in spite of her Changing into a vampyre turns up missing, Zoe vows to go to hell to find and rescue him and save her school from the murderous invaders. Instead she is captured by the killers due to a betrayal by someone she trusts.

Although this is classified as teen fiction, adults will enjoy this just like we do the works of Andre Norton. The mother-daughter author team casts a spell on readers in which vampires are accepted as a real species by humans. In some ways Zoe is a teenage Anita Blake before experience made the latter wary of sentient beings. The story line is fast-paced with a bit of an amateur sleuth mystery solved the hard way: being captured as Zoey fights for her freedom and being true to her school.

Kissing Christmas Goodbye
M.C. Beaton
St. Martin's
9780312349110 $23.95

With her Cotswold sleuthing business booming, Agatha Raisin needs help so she hires teenager Toni Gilmour to conduct the pet recovery portion of detective work. Toni's enthusiasm makes Agatha feel old and tired as the youngster never needs a break while her employer feels like a middle age prune rather than a raisin.

Wealthy Phyllis Tamworthy sends a letter to Agatha asking for help because she believes at least one member of her family, if not all of them, wants to kill her. Agatha and her friend Sir Charles Fraith travel to Phyllis's manor house on the pretence of attending the matriarch's eightieth birthday celebration. Before they can talk, Phyllis dies from hemlock poisoning used as a dressing in her salad. Ignoring the fact that she no longer has a paying breathing client, Agatha investigates the family and the history of the deceased.

In her latest thriller, Agatha Raisin is at her usual acerbic sarcastic best as she expands her investigative agency to include a teenage employee. Much of the fun in this tale comes from comparing the enthusiastic friendly youngster with the middle age shrew, as Agatha is not aging gracefully. Readers will appreciate the cleverly designed whodunit that as often brings out the worst in the lead character as it does her better qualities. Fans will enjoy Agatha's war with youth, middle age, and men (of course), all wrapped inside a difficult to solve murder mystery due to the myriad of family members with motives and opportunity.

Pandora's Daughter
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312368043 $25.95

Megan Blair always heard the voices whisper inside her head that she assumed were her friends although some of the things they told her frightened her. However, they failed to save her mom Sarah from a killer so when she became orphaned following the death of her beloved mother she shut down the voices.

A dozen years later, someone tries to kill Megan. Although she is not sure why, she believes the culprit killed her mother, who shared the rare skill of the voices with her, but hid the truth that they are both descendants of Pandora from her daughter. This unknown adversary wants Megan and all her blood relatives dead. If murdering her extended family is needed so be it as collateral damage occurs in war. Megan must reactivate the voices if she is to protect her family and herself from a brilliant maniac; even if she succeeds in tapping into the voices she muted, Megan knows the probability of failure against her anonymous enemy remains slim.

Iris Johansen will be on top of the bestsellers lists again with this exciting paranormal thriller that grips the audience from the moment Sarah tells her beloved Megan to run just before dying and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action although a romantic subplot seems unnecessary. Fans will appreciate Megan as her "normal" life as a doctor is destroyed by a maniac whose one reason for living is killing all the potential Pandoras.

In Cold Pursuit
Sarah Andrews
St. Martin's
9780312342531 $24.95

Geology graduate student Valena Walker is euphoric with the grant that enables her to perform glaciology research in Antarctica. As quick as possible she travels to the American scientific base on the frozen continent McMurdo Station. However, even faster she learns her graduate advisor, renowned rapid climate change scientist Dr. Emmett Vanderzee was arrested for the alleged murder of a journalist who died in his camp site last year. At the station George Bellamy informs her Emmett is heading north to a hearing and she will head north by the end of the week.

Valena needs Vanderzee's oversight or she will not just get kicked off Antarctica, but lose her grant and her chance to obtain employment at the Desert research Institute in the States. After a restless first night, Valena begins investigating by asking questions of Vanderzee's research team and other scientists and support in hopes of proving her mentor is innocent.

The incredible description of Antarctica steals the show as readers will feel the below zero temperatures of the stark ice continent. Valena is a likable protagonist, but as a sleuth she is strictly amateur compared to geologist-detective Em Hansen. Her solving the case seems implausible as the resolution has nothing to do with her expertise glaciology. Still fans will enjoy Sarah Andrews who gives a powerful tour of the only continent that has no permanent human residents.

Victory Square
Olen Steinhauer
St. Martin's
9780312369712 $24.95

In 1989 in an Eastern Europe Communist nation, former homicide inspector Emil Brod is the Chief of the People's Militia counting down the days until he can retire; three days to go. However, the worst that could happen occurs. He must investigate the suspicious death of Lieutenant General Yuri Kolev, who appeared to have died from cardiac arrest.

However the autopsy revealed lethal amounts of cocaine and heroin in the victim's blood and his vehicle contained a flier that implies a pro-democracy group may have murdered Kolev. As Brod makes inquires into the death of Kolev, he finds links to comrades who may be killers and enemies still holding grudges from the beginning of the Cold War when he naively yet successfully arrested a revolutionary leader.

Apparently the last tale of a five book police procedural, VICTORY SQUARE is a superb whodunit at a time just after the wall came tumbling down and before the Soviet Union collapses. The story line is fast-paced as Brod's present investigation leads him back to one of his first cases back in the 1940s as chaos and competition to rule swamp the country, the cops, and the citizens occurs. Olen Steinhauer provides a great finish as he completes his historical sweep with the final steps of the LIBERATION MOVEMENTS

False Witness
Aimee & David Thurlo
St. Martin's
9780312322120 $25.95

In the Our Lady Of Hope Monastery resides a community of nuns bound by a vow of enclosure which means they have nothing to do with the outside world. Three extern nuns who are not bound by enclosure are the spokeswomen for the monastery and have dealings of all kind with the outside world. Sister Agatha is one of those and her ability to get donations has saved the monastery from going broke on more than one occasion.

They are currently in a financial bind, having won a bid on a computer contract; they are plagued by a hacker who wants them shut down. Their electrical wiring needs fixing before the place burns down and someone crashes through the gate that keeps them secure in their own private world. They don't have the money to pay for repairs but a monastery patron who plans to sell the vineyards that border on the nun's home and bring civilization to their doorsteps makes a deal with them. If Sister Agatha finds and reconciles him with his niece before he dies of cancer who is in hiding after testifying at the trial of a killer and land fraud scammer he will give her the money to fix up the monastery and create a buffer zone between the nun's home and the property he wishes to sell. When something sounds too good to be true it really is.

The latest Sister Agatha mystery is an exciting who-done it that gives a glimpse into the workings of a cloistered monastery that must be financially self-sufficient. Aimee & David Thurlo captures the prescience and serenity as well out the tenseness of community that exists behind the walls of the monastery. There are several layers to the mystery each one getting closer to the truth but it takes a while to peel away each layer to the core that reveals the killer. FALSE MYSTERY is truly a well crafted mystery.

Bride Enchanted
Edith Layton
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061253621 $5.99

In London, the female members of the Ton believe that handsome, charming and intelligent Lord Aubrey Ashford is the catch of the season. This when Aubrey asks Eve Faraday to dance with him, she has problems believing he wants her. In fact skeptical of his desires for her she goes out of her way to avoid him as she is deeply attracted to him.

Aubrey asks permission of Eve's father to court her, which he grants. Aubrey begins courting Eve in earnest and his kisses melt her disbelief until they marry. They move to his family home on Fair Isle where his sister Arianna suggests she interrogate her spouse who is hiding the truth from her. She demands he tell her what he has failed to reveal to her. Aubrey explains that he is an immortal who loves her. They can live forever in his world or a lifetime together in hers; either way Aubrey insists he loves Eve.

BRIDE ENCHANTED is an enjoyable paranormal Regency romance in which Eve with her doubts make for a fun tale. Aubrey knows he loves Eve, but she cannot accept a God like him could care for someone life her; that is her feelings even before he confesses his nature. Edith Layton writes a delightful immortal romance starring two likable protagonists as he tries to persuade her that she is the one his forever love.

The Witch Is Dead
Shirley Damsgaard
9780061147234 $6.99

Tink, a fourteen year old medium, starts to have visions of the dead walking towards her in a wooded area. Psychic and practicing witch Ophelia Jensen, who hopes to adopt her, tries to help Tink understand her powers. Ophelia's worries ratchet into high gear when they go to meet Great Aunt Dot at the airport only to see Mr. Buchanan assisting the nonagenarian witch who sees fairies. Tink gets an "icky" feeling and soon after Mr. Buchanan is murdered in his funeral home office.

Tink feels guilty because she failed to warn Mr. Buchanan. Hoping to get the teen's mind off of her woes, Ophelia takes Tink camping, which ends up disastrously. Her puppy finds a skull and when Tink sees it she screams that she is being punished for not alerting Mr. Buchanan. Campers hear her lament and the townsfolk believe she knows something about the homicide. When Tink is kidnapped, Ophelia assumes the killer has her; Aunt Dot says Tink is alive because the fairies protect her. Ophelia investigates with the help of a sexy DEA agent; as they follow the clues, they solve a couple of crimes not involving Tink.

The characters in THE WITCH IS DEAD are endearing because they are fascinatingly eccentric. Aunt Dot steals the show with her obsessive compulsive need to solve a murder, which the nintyish witch sees as a grand adventure while her Dr. Watsons are mythological creatures invisible to everyone else. The plot moves forward at a rapid pace yet is colorfully descriptive so the reader can vividly picture the goings on. This amateur sleuth fantasy is one of the sub-genre's best sagas.

Good Little Wives
Abby Drake
9780061232213 $13.95

In New Falls, New York the upper class trophy wives try to push back the erosion of time via plastic surgery as each understands their wealthy husband could decide he needs a younger model on his mantle. Thus Kitty DeLano, Lauren Halliday, Bridget Haynes, Dana Fulton, and Caroline Meacham pretend that their only fear is to wear the wrong item to their next get together.

However, Kitty is the first to face the nightmarish reality of middle age when her husband dumps her for someone a couple decades younger; to add insult the new trophy Mrs. DeLano was a hairdresser. However, soon after she became the ex Mrs. DeLano, the police arrest Kitty for murdering her former husband as she is found by his corpse holding the murder weapon. As the police interrogate the other members of the foursome, each fears that their darkest secrets will become part of the public domain; so believing kitty's claims of innocence, the GOOD LITTLE WIVES club led by dynamic Dana conduct their own inquiry into who killed the ex-spouse.

With a nod to the First Wives' Club, the key to this witty relationship drama is the four trophy wives turn amateur sleuths who wear masks in public but have trepidations in private. Each comes across unique with personal fears but share in common that they could easily be replaced by a younger version of themselves. Thus they begin investigating as a means of self preservation though Dana forces the others to reluctantly participate. Though a late second killing seems unneeded, readers will appreciate the antics to remain the wives of affluent spouses by hiding their flaws while also trying to prove that even a former member of their exclusive group would never resort to murder as that is too messy.

Secrets of a Proper Lady
Victoria Alexander
9780060882648 $7.99

In 1854 London, visiting American businessman Daniel Sinclair is determined to win the wager of one pound each and a bottle of cognac he made with three English aristocrats as to who would be the last one standing single. Two are down and though he fears their tontine is cursed, Daniel does not plan on being next although he is betrothed to Lady Cordelia Bannister, as the competition is between him and Oliver Leighton.

Cordelia and Daniel have never met so she decides to learn more about the American she is to marry; if she finds him unsatisfactory she will call off the nuptials. She goes undercover pretending to be her companion, Sarah. However, Daniel needs time to put off his wedding if he is to win the wager; when his fiancee's companion visits him he pretends to be a friend of Daniel. As they fall in love, both fears the truth will destroy their chance at lifetime of love.

Readers will appreciate the madcap third Victorian romance that is a wild gender battle based on deception, misdirection, and love. The amusing story line is fun to follow as Daniel insists he's not in love and Cordelia fears her masquerade will cost her the love of a lifetime. As with WHAT A LADY WANTS and LITTLE BIT WICKED, sub-genre fans will toast Victoria Alexander for an entertaining historical.

A Touch of Minx
Suzanne Enoch
9780060875237 $6.99

One year ago, American cat burglar Samantha Jellicoe and British billionaire Rick Addison met and fell in love. He wants to make their relationship permanent, but she has doubts as she never allows him to speak the unmentionable. Rick needs to find a way to persuade Sam they belong together.

The reformed ex-thief Sam works on two cases. She works on recovering an ancient Japanese armor and its related swords stolen from the MOMA over ten years ago, and finding and return the missing "anatomy man" to the school it was taken from for her client, Rick's sort of ten year old niece Olivia Donner. Neither seemed complex when she took them on; so why is both a struggle worse than sky diving into a museum to purloin an artifact as one especially could end her career with her death.

The latest FLIRTING WITH DANGER Sam and Rick caper continues the lighthearted madcap escapades of the pair as they argue over how many cat lives she has left. The story line is fast-paced as Sam works her two cases with the zeal she had as a thief. Fans of the series will appreciate the ongoing skirmishes as Addison struggles to persuade his beloved that this BILLIONAIRE PREFER BLONDES retired cat burglars while also pleading with her to change careers to one in which the motto has nothing to do with DON'T LOOK DOWN.

Sin and Scandal in England
Melody Thomas
9780061129605 $5.99

Bethany Munro is elated that the one man she loves Sir Ian Rockwell is at Whitley Court. On the other hand, Ian wants nothing to do with the woman who touches his heart as he has no time for a female in his life. However, he needs to know why she is talking to Lord Whitley, considered the dangerous chief of an anarchist group that includes an Italian arms manufacturer; Ian's mission is to go undercover to learn what these terrorists plot next.

Bethany is also on a quest. She seeks to learn what happened to her vanished former science teacher, Mrs., Langley, who was last seen at Whitley Court. As he falls in love while trying to keep Bethany safe and complete his assignment, her amateur sleuthing leaves both in danger from predators who will kill anyone in their way.

SIN AND SCANDAL IN ENGLAND is an interesting romantic intrigue in which everyone seems to have a hidden agenda even the somewhat innocent heroine and no one trusts anyone if they are smart. The story line is fast-paced as Ian wants Bethany to leave so she will be safe, but she refuses as her undertaking comes first. Thus Ian who was falling in love with her when she was a naive seventeen year old risks his mission to keep his beloved from harm. Although the suspense turns over the top of Big Ben, fans will enjoy this gender battle inside of a pair of competing undercover inquiries, one by an amateur sleuth while the other by a professional.

The Scottish Companion
Karen Ranney
9780061252372 $6.99

In 1850 in Rosemoor, Scotland, Grant Roberson is stunned by the recent unexplained deaths of his brothers that have led to him becoming the Earl of Straithern, as he was not even the spare, which he relished as he had time for his scientific experiments. Still grieving and shook up, Grant decides he needs to marry a levelheaded sedate female so that he can begat the heir and spare without a fuss. He chooses the doctor's daughter, Arabella Fenton.

However, Grant finds himself thinking more of Arabella's friend Gillian Cameron although she will not suit as she is passionate about life. She also shows she is brilliant as she shares his knowledge of electricity experiments. As they fall in love, Gilliam fears the feeling as she has been burned before by it while Grant still insists he needs a meek malleable mate even as the pair begin investigating together who killed his siblings and why.

THE SCOTTISH COMPANION is a charming Victorian Scottish amateur sleuth romance starring two likable protagonists who combine a love of science with a curious need to learn the truth re his siblings and eventually love; an emotion neither wanted. Fans will appreciate their escapades as they face danger from an unknown adversary while investigating the murders of his brothers as no motive seems to surface. Karen Ranney provides an enjoyable historical romantic whodunit.

Witch in the House
Jenna McKnight
9780060843694 $5.99

Six years ago her husband vanished without a trace. Witch Jade Delarue finally decides she needs to move on with her life so she casts two spells that inadvertently merge into one enchantment.

Soon afterward a Pierce Brosnan doppelganger appears at her Mystic Manor door. Working for the insurance company, private detective Mason Kincaid investigates the disappearance of Jade's husband. Jade believes Mason is a photographer about to take action pictures of eagles for a nature book. As they fall in love, she assumes her botched incantation brought him to her; she fears telling him what she believes is the truth. He also is afraid their relationship will vanish as his former fiancee cheated on him and once he reveals why he initially visited her.

This is an entertaining paranormal romantic mystery starring two protagonists who have a previous connection between them that neither realizes when they meet. The story line is an amusing lighthearted romp as the lead pair keeps secrets from one another including his wiring her house and her casting spells. Fans will enjoy this fun frolic starring a bewitching heroine and the sleuth who charms her without the use of a love spell.

Seduction is Forever
Jenna Peterson
9780061138096 $5.99

In 1808, knowing they needed special agents in the war with Napoleon; Charles Isley of the Home Office recruited and trained three special females (Meredith Sinclair, Anastasia Whittig and Emily Redgrave) to be undercover operatives. By 1814 Emily recovers from a severe wound she received on her last mission, but is anxious to go back into the field.

Her superior Lady M gives her a phony mission to protect Lord Grant Ashbury from an unknown adversary; he is given the fake assignment to protect Emily from an unknown adversary. The shrewd plan is simply to keep the pair out of danger by having them watch over one another. As they fall in love and learn the truth about their respective projects, they also learn of a diabolical plot to kill the Regent.

The third Charlie's Angels Regency romantic suspense is a wonderful action-packed thriller that starts off amusingly with the premise that both lead characters are assigned to protect one other. However, their initial project turns into a SEDUCTION IS FOREVER loving relationship as well as a race to save the Regent. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the trilogy; as, like its predecessors (see FROM LONDON WITH LOVE and DESIRE NEVER DIES), the final tale of "Charlie's Angels in Regency England" is a charming lighthearted romp.

The Trophy's Wives Club
Kristin Billerbeck
9780061375460 $12.95

Seven years ago Haley married Jay Cutler in what she naively thought was a love match to her Prince Charming. However, seven years later he no longer needs or wants her as his Trophy Wife; Jay walks out on Haley.

After she overcomes the initial shock of his rejection, Haley begins to think who she is beyond being Jay's wife; to her chagrin, she comes up with nothing. She ponders what she can do, but has no marketable skills even for volunteer work as no one seems to need a smiling pretty woman that has no experiences beyond being a wife. Jay will not meet with Haley so she visits his lawyer, Hamilton Lowe, whose self-righteous holier than thou attitude upsets her. However, she heeds his only practical advice that she joins "The Trophy Wives Club", a Bible study group of women traded in by their husbands for newer models.

Although the relationship between Hamilton and Haley seems unnecessary, readers will appreciate this fine tale of a woman learning to crawl by doing things for the first time that most people take for granted. Haley makes the tale as she learns life is a T in which a person must know when to choose their side path and when to heed others' advice, but never allow people to use love as blackmail to make the selection. THE TROPHY WIVES CLUB is a strong character driven inspirational tale that focuses on a woman learning how to live now that she is no longer on a mantle.

Too Scandalous to Wed
Alexandra Benedict
9780061170430 5.99

Since she was a little girl, Henrietta Ashby has loved Viscount Sebastian Galbraith. However, to her chagrin by 1821 though she is an adult he sees her as his kid sister Henry. Her efforts to seduce him are amusing to him, but he also knows he must leave England so that she chooses a suitor to marry.

Henrietta refuses to give up on the man she loves even if she thinks he is an idiot. She hires a notorious courtesan Madam Jacqueline to teach her the art of seduction waiting to spring her alluring trap when her unrequited beloved returns. Sebastian is stunned by the new Henry make that Henrietta as he no longer has sibling feelings towards her. However, he runs from her to a brothel as he assumes she loves some image of a paragon and not the rakish real him; she follows him there to confront him. When her note to him is intercepted by a rogue, they are forced to marry to prevent scandal. Her deepest wish fulfilled, Henrietta suddenly realizes she loves this flawed man not some statue on a pedestal; he feels the same way about her, but hides his heart because he cannot measure up to what he believes remains her dream of who he is.

The changing thought processes by Henry re her beloved make TOO SCANDALOUS TO WED a superb Regency. Whereas her paragon of perfection knows his secret makes him inferior to a woman like Henry, she goes after what she most covets in the world even if it means scandalous behavior. Once she achieves her objective, she begins to see Sebastian's flaws but loves him even more while praying he loves her back as his mate and not his sister. Alexandra Benedict writes a delightful charmer due to the capricious, courageous and changing Henry.

Bones to Ashes
Kathy Reichs
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9780743294379 $25.95 1-800-223-2336

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan needs a diversion as her love life seems to be collapsing with her relationship with Detective Andrew Ryan, shaky at its optimistic best. Thus, when she is asked to look at the remains of a cold case in New Brunswick, Canada, she leaps at the opportunity. The skeleton is that of a teenage girl, which leads Tempe to believe that the bones are the remains of Evangeline Landry. Three decades ago when Tempe was eight, her fifteen year old friend Evangeline vanished without a trace. Looking back Tempe vaguely remembers being told to forget Evangeline ever lived.

As she recalls the warning from her youth, Tempe wonders what caused the lesions on the bone structure. At the same time Ryan investigates three cold cases involving missing teenage girls eventually found dead with the same scenario as that of the Jane Doe that Tempe feels is Evangeline. Both think their cases are the result of the same serial killer and share the fear factor that this predator still operates freely after all these years.

Tempe's tenth forensic whodunit is a superb investigative thriller that hooks the audience from the first moment that the heroine begins her inquiry. The fast-paced story line is action-packed with the two subplots tied together as much by the investigations as it is the relationship. No one plays with Bones better than Kathy Reichs does as the latest Temperance Brennan cold case mysteries retains the series trademark of fresh suspense enhanced by the latest forensic breakthroughs.

The Witch's Trinity
Erika Mailman
The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307351524 $23.96 1-800-726-0600

By 1507, the Germanic villagers of remote Tierkinddorf fear a witch has cast an evil spell on them as they experience famine that has left many in dire straits of starving to death. A friar arrives claiming he can perform a miracle that will return opulence to the townsfolk as he affirms the whispers that a witch has in deed cursed the town. His tome the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch's Hammer) will enable him to obtain a confession from the guilty woman, who upon her burning at the stake will lift God's ire.

Elderly resident Gude Muller fears she is losing her mind as she begins seeing evil beings including her late husband as the devil; these visions frighten her. She also believes her daughter-in-law Irmeltrud wants her dead as she is useless to the family of four (not counting her) while eating their meager food supply. Meanwhile her best friend the town healer is burned at the stake after the condemnation by the Friar. When that fails to turn things around, he looks towards Gude with Irmeltrud encouraging the Friar and the townsfolk to claim her mother-in-law is a witch.

Readers will wonder throughout most of this strong historical fiction whether Gude is mentally incompetent, a coven is practicing nearby, or some supernatural essence is causing the crop failures. Because of her questionable sanity; Gude is a well drawn difficult character to understand; the friar is also complex as his motive might be a pious need to destroy the devil's followers but could also be an avaricious selfish use of the "terrorists" of that age; whereas Irmeltrud is simpler as her belief is that a person is a worthless consumer if they are not producing. Although the townsfolk never come across as fully developed and are easily interchangeable, readers will appreciate this interesting look at the superstitions of early sixteenth century Germany.

The Other Mother
Gwendolen Gross
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
9780307352927 $23.00

Book editor Amanda works in New York City, but recently left the city for suburban Teaneck, New Jersey with her husband Aaron after she became pregnant. Her next door neighbor is a stay at home mom of three Thea Caldwell, who is living with her husband Caius in the house she was raised in.

The two women are polar opposites as Amanda plans to return to work once she gives birth while Thea seems to relish taxiing the kiddies and keeping her only preschooler in line. Not long after Amanda gives birth, a tree crashes through their house during a storm. Caius invites his new neighbors to live in their basement until the repairs are complete and Amanda hires Thea as her newborn's temporary nanny. However, when dead animals are dumped on Thea's doorstep she assumes this is a declaration of war between the two species and plots to retaliate.

This insightful book compares the two major magnetic mommy poles, the working mom vs. the stay at home mom. When the story line focuses on the inner but differing doubts of Amanda and Thea, it is a superior deep character study that has the audience considering the issues. When the plot provides external impetus for a mommy war, it turns inane and forced. Still readers will appreciate THE OTHER MOTHER as Gwendolen Gross gets inside the respective heads of her opposite lead protagonists.

The Long Walk Home
Will North
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
9780307383020 $24.00

American Alex Hudson promised his former wife Gwynne that he would scatter her ashes from the top of Cadair Idris Mountain in Wales that they once climbed together. Thus he hikes the path to Fiona Edwards's renowned Tan y Gadair Farm bed-and-breakfast at the foothill of the peak he must ascend.

However, the weather is nasty so he waits for a lull at Fiona's B&B. She, like him, is lonely as her spouse David ails and hides from the world including her. The two middle age souls fall into each other's arms as much for solace as for lovemaking. When a break in the weather occurs, Alec climbs to the summit to complete his quest. However, before he can climb down, a hailstorm makes the descent dangerous. Still he treks downward towards Fiona's B&B when he comes across the near dead body of David. Alex ponders to be or not to be as he debates trying to save him yet also considers leaving him to die so he can have Fi for himself; rationalizing there is no way to bring David down the mountain in this weather alone vs. looking at himself while shaving.

THE LONG WALK HOME is a modern day morality play as Alex struggles with his beliefs. He does the right thing by Gwynne, but finds he wants David to die so that Fi is free as much for him as for herself. David is an apropos allegorical name as it conjures up biblical King David sending Urias to die so he could marry the widow Bathsheba. Will North provides a deep character study in a vivid rugged locale that readers will appreciate.

Mad Dash
Patricia Gaffney
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
9780307382115 $23.00

Two decades together prove opposites attract and stay attracted. Impetuous photographer Dash Bateman thinks her spouse Mason-Dixon History professor Andrew is a prude; prim and proper Andrew believes his wife is reckless. Yet they remain together raising a child in love.

However, when Dash's mom dies at the same time their daughter leaves for college, she questions her life as she believes Andrew does not understand her anymore; assuming he once did. She insists it is not grief or an empty nest or the dog; it is much greater as she wonders is that all there is. She leaves Andrew at their house and stays at their isolated cabin to think about living separate lives. Andrew sort of moves on flirting with a professor and coveting the department chair; Dash sort of moves back flirting with replacement mother, daughter and lover.

Rotating perspectives between the lead married couple allows the audience to see how two people interpret differently the same incident (the real theory of relativity). Readers will want to know whether the Batemans overcome their frustrations with one another and their overall respective disappointments in life. Although the ending is over the rainbow, Patricia Gaffney provides a wonderful look at middle age relationships when the sandwich generation obtains freedom (through death and college) for the first time in almost twenty years.

The Cutting Season
Arthur Rosenfeld
YMAA Publication Centre
4354 Washington St, Boston, Ma 02131
9781594390821 $21.95

In Florida, neurosurgeon Dr. Xenon "Zee" Pearl works to save the life of a severely beaten preadolescent boy when he sees the child's soul leave the body; distracted he slips and cuts an artery. Still shocked while in the operating room, Zee next sees the his nanny, Wu Tie Mei, dead for ten years, who tells him he is strong and faces challenges that he can handle.

Zee expects the late lad's father, Petrossov, and his Russian Mafia goons to come after him. Heeding his nanny's advice, he seeks master swordsmith Thaddeus Jones, but learns the man died, but his daughter Jordon creates the sword for him. As he and Jordon begin to fall in love, the Russians are coming and so is an abusive husband of a patient. Wu keeps visiting her Xenon encouraging him to be all he can be as in a previous life he was a warrior and will need that skill to help others. As Zee emotionally struggles between being a doctor healing people or a soldier fighting evil, he burns the candle on both sides leaves him question his sanity as his fighting efforts turn increasingly violent on his part.

This paranormal thriller contains an intriguing premise as the hero rationalizes his vigilante justice through the belief that he is morally right and to do nothing would be amoral. The story line is fast-paced, but is owned by Xenon as he is an avenging warrior acting as judge, jury and executioner. Mindful of how the self-claimed neo-moral high road led to Iraq, readers will be divided on Xenon's exploits, but regardless will find him fascinating while enjoying the fast-paced story line.

The History Book
Humphrey Hawksley
Warner Books, Inc.
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446527446 $24.95 1-800-759-0190

Homeland Security freed convicted hacker Catherine "Kat" Polinski on the stipulation that she works for the agency as they protect Americans by domestic voyeurism and surveillance on anyone inside the fifty states and neighboring countries. Her latest assignment proves lethal when she breaks into the Kazakhstan Embassy in DC seeking useful information, but finds a horde of corpses instead; she barely escapes having to kill two assassins.

When she gets home, she finds a strange message from her sister Suzy, who lives in England. Soon afterward Kat learns that someone assassinated Suzie just outside of London. Although warned by her controller to not leave the country, Kat travels to England to learn who and why Suzy was murdered by an apparent sniper even as her handlers and British security seek to stop her.

The technological security gadgets will fascinate readers almost as much as the exhilarating story line starring a dynamite heroine whose caper is personal. Kat is fabulous as she proves London still swings even with security so tight a dime could not slip through a crack, but a Kat can. Fans will root for the heroine as she goes from one dangerous caper to another in this delightful action-packed thriller that reminds the audience the cost in a Neo-Hoover surveillance world where everyone is always considered a terrorist.

The Serpent Prince
Elizabeth Hoyt
9780446400534 $6.99

In 1760 near her home in Maiden Hill, England Lucy Craddock-Hayes finds the battered Viscount Simon Iddelsleigh nearly dead; in fact she thought he was dead initially. She has him brought into her home where she nurses him back to health. As he recovers, Simon teases his savior with his sweet talk; Lucy already attracted to her guest, savors his gentle seductive words, but pretends otherwise.

When Simon learns that his nurse is an artist, he hires her to illustrate the fairy tale The Serpent Prince and the Goat Girl. As they fall in love, his enemy learns he still lives so the killer plans to finish the job using Lucy as a pawn because this villain knows Simon will never rest until he avenges the death of his brother.

The third Elizabeth Hoyt princely Georgian romance (see RAVEN PRINCE and LEOPARD PRINCE) is an excellent historical tale. The action-packed story line is moved forward by the antics of the nurse and her patient as he charms her while he heals. As they fall in love, Simon knows he is not good enough for the kind loving Lucy as his quest must come before his desires. Elizabeth Hoyt provides an entertaining character driven eighteenth century romance.

Bride for a Knight
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
9780446617307 $6.99

Following the death of his mother giving birth to him, his father has had nothing to do with his offspring, James Macpherson. Instead others have raised him. Jamie is squire to Duncan "The Black Stag" Mackenzie when he learns his brothers were killed. As the heir he must come home to meet the father who abandoned him at birth.

Reluctantly, Jamie does his duty and comes home for the first since his father banished him, but is still unwelcome by his sire although he is the heir. He also learns from his father that he is to wed his late sibling's fiancee to cement an alliance between clans. However, Aveline, the sister of his betrothed, takes her place as his bride. As their lust for one another turns to love, the ghosts of Jamie's brothers demand he avenge their murders and stay alert for he and his beloved wife are the next targets.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder continues her powerfully vivid fourteenth century Highlander saga (see UNTIL THE KNIGHT COMES) with a wonderful romance. The male protagonist believes he is unworthy of love as he remains estranged with his father while the woman who loves him plans to prove to him he is wrong as he is deserving of her love. The paranormal and mystery elements blend nicely into the story line as those segues enhance a fine historical romance.

Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen's Life
Nancy Moser
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764203565 $13.99 1-800-328-6109

Twenty years old Jane Austen begins keeping a journal starting with falling in love with Tom Lefroy. Over the years, she has had good things and bad things occur, but always wrote an entry in her journal regardless. Thus when her dad decided to move to Bath, an outraged Jane grieves the loss of the family home even more than the unfortunate death of her sister's fiance. Her mom's constant complaints about illness drive Jane crazy as she believes most are in her mother's head. Then there are the men she desires. Writing novels has been a welcome relief although she originally assumes she had no talent, but as she is into her thirties, she also basks in the success of her novels as she never expected fame to shine a light on her.

With Jane Austen in almost as much readers faces as JD Rowling is, fans of the great author will appreciate this interesting historical fictionalized memoir. Jane is a fascinating protagonist as she relates her frustrations with her mom, her seemingly unrequited attraction to men starting with Tom, and her deep religious convictions. Ms. Austen's actual words are used throughout with the humor that is so apparent in her six novels appearing in her letters; interestingly though no quotations are used to delineate direct Austen quotes, readers will know with at least the longer passages as there is much word play involved. Fans who want to know more about Ms. Austen's life will appreciate this well written "autobiographical" fiction, although the journal fails to capture the essence of what made Jane write.

Fancy Pants
Cathy Marie Hake
Bethany House
9780764203176 $13.99

In 1889 following the death of her father, Lady Sydney Hathwell, escorted by her Aunt Serena leaves England to join her American fiance Rexall Hume in New York. However, he agrees to her insistence of an acceptable period of mourning before they marry. One year and one day later, Rexall demands they wed, but Sydney knows they do not suit.

Sydney receives a telegram from her Uncle Fuller, who was unaware he had living relatives until he got her note. He invites his nephew to live on his Forsaken Ranch in Gooding, Texas where he explained no human females reside. With Hume's unknowing help disguised as a boy she goes to the ranch. Her uncle is away and the ranch foreman widower "Big Tim" Creighton thinks his boss will be disappointed with his foppish nephew. He decides to change this "FANCY PANTS" into a real man though he also hopes to drive his lordship back across the content and ocean. Instead Lord Sydney begins to fall in love as she sees the vulnerable caring side of Big Tim, but fears once Uncle Fuller learns he has a niece he will kick her out, leaving her vulnerable to Rexall.

This is a terrific amusing inspirational historical romance. Sydney is a fabulous nephew as the ranch hands led by Big Tim struggle to toughen up the girly boy going so far as to take her to a brothel. Big Tim in many ways is the more interesting protagonist as he began to fall in love with her when she was an English sissy. The story line is intelligent and fun to read because Hume is not a nasty villain as he persists in marrying Sydney although she rejects them as unsuited (could his story be next?). Cathy Marie Hake has written a droll late nineteenth century tale that sub-genre readers will cherish.

A Proper Pursuit
Lynn Austin
Bethany House
9780764228919 $13.99

In the summer of 1893 in Lockport, Violet Hayes is stunned to learn that her father is remarrying the Widow Maude O'Neill. It is not the rat faced phony Widow, who may have killed her first husband or her two children Horace and Harriet that stuns Violet; as she explains to her father that he has a wife, her mother even if she has been restrained in a mental hospital for the last eleven years. Her father says he is now free to remarry; Violet asks when did she die and why was she not told. Instead her father finally admits her mother apparently deserted Violet and her father and moved to Chicago. Violet, who barely remembers her mother, needs to know why along with six other mysteries as much as to escape the Widow, her father, and the courtship of Herman Beckett.

In Chicago, Violet searches for her mother Angeline Cepak Hayes while staying with her grandmother and great aunts. Her grandmother especially welcomes her to the family. As she learns about her maternal roots she meets Silas McClure, seller of Dr. Dean's Blood Builder. They are attracted to one another, but Violet has doubts as everyone she meets seems to have an agenda for her even her loving nurturing grandmother.

This is a fantastic inspirational nineteenth century Americana tale starring a precious female protagonist whose naive understanding of life beyond Lockport is based on romance and mystery dime novels. The ensemble cast in Chicago and Lockport enhance the efforts of the heroine to solve her seven mysteries; besides why mom left to include did Maude kill her first husband and why did dad give up on religion, etc. Although the romance between the bemused Silas and the bewildered Violet is unnecessary, readers will appreciate this entertaining look through the eyes of an inexperienced but not shrinking Violet at a time when Chicago hosted the Columbian World expedition.

The Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes
Cathy Holton
Ballantine Trade Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9781400063680 $23.95 1-800-726-0600

One year ago in Ithaca, Georgia the Kudzu Debutantes (Eadie Boone, Nita Broadwell and Lavonne Zibolsky) decided they had enough with cheating spouses so these steel magnolia catfighters (even if one is a carpetbagger) went dirty and revenged the affront. The repercussions of this not so civil war continue to haunt residents of the small town. Lavonne dumped her spouse Leonard and eighty pounds of bagels and ice cream while starting a business; Eadie is still married to Trevor, but feels he still ignores her; Nita divorced Charles. The trio's public actions devastated the reputation of the Broadwell & Boone family law firm where their philandering husbands worked.

Charles' outraged sexagenarian mother Virginia is further angered to learn Nita is marrying "boy toy" carpenter Jimmy Lee Motes. She decides to punish the Kudzu Debutantes for annihilating the family law firm by bankrupting Nita via forcing an expensive custody battle that her husband can afford while her opponent cannot over her granddaughter, Whitney. The second uncivil war has begun at a time that Lavonne finds some romance and Eadie struggles to wake up her now novelist husband, but each knows Nita's needs them now.

As with the first Kudzu Debutantes, the second tale is a delightful satire of southern gentile customs using exaggeration to tell a tale of revenge, counter-revenge, and ultimate trumping revenge. The two sides contain terrific strategic planners whose war shakes up the small Georgia town still reeling from last year's combat. Fans will appreciate the antics of Kudzu threesome as they battle the ultimate dominant steel magnolia in a no holds bar catfight.

Highlander Unmasked
Monica McCarty
9780345494375 $6.99

In 1605 Highlander Lady Meg Mackinnon understands her responsibility to properly marry the right man for her clan. On the way to the court of King James to find a husband, she and her party are attacked. Alex McLeod rescues Meg.

Alex works undercover in an effort to prevent King James from devastating the clans by removing them from their homeland isles. He wants Meg and she desires him, but his mission comes first before his attraction. However, in spite of his efforts to just say no to her, they end up making love even as both are endangered from their enemies who want both dead as a key first step in destroying the power base of the Highlands.

Although somewhat similar in tone to the typical early seventeenth century Scottish romantic intrigue, HIGHLANDER UNMASKED is refreshed by the dilemma confronting the hero; which head rules. He want to help Meg and simply wants her, but to do so jeopardizes his undercover mission that he has methodically at great sacrifice worked at setting up. Historical romance fans will enjoy this fine tale and look for Monica McCarty's previous take HIGHLANDER UNTAMED, not read by this reviewer.

Family Acts
Louise Shaffer
9781400060634 $24.95

In New York City soap opera script writer Katharine Harder hates her job especially since she knows she has it only because her late mom Rosalind was the superstar of the show; in fact she was a soap opera legend. In spite of being a mom to eleven year old Susie, Hollywood business manager Miranda Jennings still feels the pain of loneliness growing up as the offspring of an actor; in fact she has vowed to insure Susie has a happy childhood. Although they have heard of their famous parents, neither Kate nor Randa know one another

However these bicoastal strangers inherit the Venable Opera House in Massonville, Georgia. They each skeptically want to know the catch, how they can dump the dump, how are they related beyond the Bard who gave them their first names, and do they give up the big city for sleepy hollow. Each travels to Georgia as they learn that the Venable family has "always named their children after characters in Shakespeare's plays" and strong women for over a century have somehow always saved the place. Randa and Kate must decide between a sale that means tearing down the opera house and saving it with no performances planned.

FAMILY ACTS is a terrific character study of two adult females who must decide between the pragmatic destruction of a heritage vs. the romantic notion of making it work. Kate and Randa are fabulous protagonists as they share in common skepticism that they can save the opera house yet as they learn of the Venable females (all named after a Shakespearean character) caught at the same crossroads, they wonder can they do this too. Although the ending is too fast and too neatly perfect coda, fans of contemporary character driven tales with strong symbolism will appreciate Louise Shaffer's fine tale.

The Faraday Girls
Monica McInerney
9780345490230 $13.95

In 1979 in Tasmania, Australia, the Faraday Girls (Juliet, Miranda, Eliza, Sadie, and Clementine) live with their widower father Leo. However, the dynamics changes when sixteen years old Clementine informs her dad and her siblings she is pregnant. The Faraday family agrees to help Clementine raise the child until he or she enters elementary school; at that time the sisters can restart their dreams of independence though Leo sees his grandchild as the tie to keep his daughters safely home with him.

When baby Maggie turns five, Sadie makes a terrible error in judgment that shatters the bond between her and her sisters; she leaves. Maggie cannot understand why one of her doting aunts left. The other three aunts begin their personal flights as Juliet opens a cafe; Miranda becomes a flight attendant; and Eliza is a life coach. Two decades later Maggie lives in New York yearning to bring her scientist mom and aunts back together; Leo arrives with a proposition to reconcile everyone with a family trip to Ireland. There Maggie learns the secrets that devastated the family when she was five years old, but to reveal it or not to reveal it is the question as either way harm to loving relatives occurs.

This is a warm family drama that focuses on broken promises that leads to destroying loving relationships that turn to acrimonious dysfunction. The five FARADAY GIRLS, their niece and their dad contain unique personalities and FAMILY BAGGAGE so that their issues seem real. Although the splintered family saga seems overly wrenching once Maggie knows the whole truth, Monica McInerney provides a deep look at how easily seemingly invincible relationships can shatter.

The Bone Garden
Tess Gerritsen
9780345497604 $25.95

After her divorce, Julia Hamill buys a fixer-upper in Weston, Massachusetts. While working in the garden, she digs up a skeleton. She is curious to learn who was buried here in apparently the early nineteenth century. A relative of the previous owner informs Julia that he possesses letters and other memorabilia from the lady who resided there for many years. They might obtain answers if they go through the zillion boxes he owns.

In 1830 Rose Connolly watches her sister die of child birth fever and is told to protect and hide her niece Maggie. Rose works hard to provide the best for the child at a time when Boston is besieged by the West End Reaper killer. Rose sees the killer and is aided by Harvard medical School student Norris Marshall who is awed by her courage. Norris witnesses the killer take another victim. He is found by the Watch near the corpse. Everyone assumes Norris is the West End horror except for loyal Rose who vows to prove the love of her life is innocent.

This historical thriller is different in style, tone, and setting than any previous work of Tess Gerritsen. Readers will quickly realize how much historical research has occurred as THE BONE GARDEN brings to life 1830 Boston through police corruption considered acceptable as the norm, horrific working conditions out of a Dickens novel, and the Harvard Medical School whose ethics is quit different than that of today. The characters, especially Rose and Norris seem believable partially because of the gothic-like atmosphere that enable the audience to care about them as it seems the police and the killer are coming for them.

Isabella Moon
Laura Benedict
9780345497673 $24.95

It has been two years since nine years old Isabella Moon disappeared and the failure to resolve the case eats at Sheriff Bill Delaney. Rationalizing that these things do not happen in quaint Carystown, Kentucky fails to lift the despondent law enforcement official.

No one is more surprised than newcomer Kate Russell when she sees the ghost of Isabella; she follows the spirit to the spot where the little girl was buried. It takes tremendous will power for Kate to inform Bill what she saw as she has dark secrets that could lead to her arrest. Initially Bill assumes Kate is a flake, but he cannot get her statement out of his mind; so reluctantly he digs at the spot she mentioned and uncovers the corpse. Clues lead to Paxton Birkenshow, a blue blood with plenty of money. He is seeing Kate's best friend Francie, a black woman who does not want their relationship made public as her mother believes he is weak. Paxton and Kate mutually despise each other, but she has other woes besides being a suspect in the Isabella murder; her dangerous secret has come to town to reclaim her. These secrets keep Bill busy while changing his life forever.

This is a refreshing original mystery that occurs in a twenty-first century Peyton Place like town. There are many key interesting characters with some providing a third person point of view that moves the exciting story line forward with a reasonable degree of believability and understanding. ISABELLA MOON is a multifaceted police procedural intertwined with subplots that come together to forge a well written recommended whodunit.

Midnight Rambler
James Swain
9780345475466 $24.95

Jack Carpenter was once the chief investigator of the Broward County Missing Persons Unit. He went after sexual predators preying on throwaways and runaways while also trying to help the lost youngsters when he could. Eight girls that Jack assisted have disappeared; working the case leads Jack to Simon "Midnight Rambler" Skell. Melinda the prostitute insists Simon tortured her and held her prisoner. Simon was convicted of killing a hooker; although no body was found or any bodies of the missing eight.

That case cost Jack his career as he was forced to resign due to using excess force; his marriage also collapsed subsequently. Skell is doing hard time, but new evidence surfaces when the victim he was convicted of killing is found in a shallow grave on her sister's land. Her pimp is accused of the homicide because he lives there; Skell is to be released and freed to go after Melinda and Jack unless the former detective can stop him first as the authorities choose to ignore his plea to keep her safe. When Melinda vanishes just after a shocking radio announcement, Jack goes after pedophile serial killers to rescue her or die trying.

James Swain, known for his Tony Valentine mysteries, writes a riveting stand alone thriller starring a fascinating character; who the world believes is a washed up loser. However, Jack remains confident that he is right about Skell and sets out to affirm his theory with solid proof regardless of the danger he faces. One action scene follows another in rapid machine gun style giving readers no respite to catch one's breath. Although over the top, the vile villains and the courageous man makes for a one sitting gripping read as High Noon comes to Florida.

The Last Knight
Hilari Bell
Eos Books
c/o Morrow & Company
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780060825034 $16.99 1-800-242-7737

Two centuries have past since the vocation of heroic knight errant became extinct. Yet the younger son of an aristocrat, Sir Michael Sevenson decides that he will revise the noble profession doing daring good deeds. Of course like the knights of yore, Michael needs a loyal squire so he goes to the only place he might find such a person; the jail. Con artist Fisk is given the choice of spending a long time as the guest of the kingdom or becoming Michael's squire. Although having a square meal and a cot sound appetizing, Fisk reluctantly agrees to assist Michael on his adventures to right the wrong and protect the innocent.

The daring duo succeed on their first caper freeing Lady Ceciel from incarceration in a tower. As they celebrate their success, they learn she was allowed to remain in comfort rather than a dungeon while standing trial for murdering her husband; they are informed by authorities to right their wrong by returning the Poisoner to them or replace her.

This tongue in cheek medieval saga rotates perspective between the knight and his squire so that the audience sees the same event from two totally opposite viewpoints (a delight for historiographers as to what a fact is and what is tainted by bias). Whereas Michael believes the glass is half filled; Fisk would slice off the top empty part and claim the glass is filled. Targeting middle school children, adults will appreciate the amusing adventures of THE LAST KNIGHT.

Fiona McIntosh
9780060899066 $15.95

A year has passed since the warrior city Protector Spur Lazar was killed, Kett was turned into a eunuch, and Ana became an Odalisque although not performing sexual deeds as part of the harem of Boaz, the juvenile Zar of Percheron,. Odalisque Ana blames herself for the misfortune that occurred to her and her protectors. Males have always wanted to cherish Ana so as Kett points out the Lazar needed to become her Protector.

In the harem, the virginal Ana tries to behave and fit in although men still desire her even Boaz. However, the Zar's mother Herezah sees the first crush her son has had and fears the influence of this newcomer to her role as the queen mother ruling over the harem. She arranges a scheme to humiliate Ana before assassinating her. The eunuch Grand Master Salmeo, who detests the popularity of this newcomer amongst his emaciated subordinates and the women he oversees, abets Herezah with her plan to include sexual torture as only he knows how to use. However, on one of those isles that Odalisque Ana stares at from her window, Lazar slowly heals from his severe wounds planning to fulfill his vow as Ana's Protector.

EMISSARY, Book Two of the Percheron Saga (see ODALISQUE) is a fascinating fantasy that provides a deep look into the realm although that keen glimpse makes for little action for most of the tale. Instead the story line has started several subplots that look like they will be action-packed fun. Odalisque Ana is the focus of everyone's wants. The Zar wants her; his mother wants her dead but not martyred;, the Grand Master wants her humiliated; Lazar wants to rescue her;, the Vizier wants to use her to gain power; and the Gods want to manipulate her. This is an entertaining tale, but lacks the punch of ODALISQUE as it sets the stage for the final tale in which hopefully all the players will clash.

The Last Days of Krypton
Kevin J. Anderson
9780061340741 $25.95

Jor-El is the greatest scientist that Krypton has ever known, but few of his discoveries are approved by Commissioner Dru-Zod of the Commission for Technology Acceptance. The Kryptonian Council is insular and fears new technology could be made into a weapon of mass destruction. Thus society stagnates while space travel is forbidden and other creative theories outlawed using the patriotic rationalization that Krypton is perfect.

When the alien Donodon lands, he and Jor-El become friends from the onset; however an accident happens and the alien dies. The Kryptonian Council blames Jor-El and intends to send him to prison for murder, but Brainiac shrinks the capital city of Kandor taking it with him in a bottle. Zod takes advantage of the power vacuum and the fears of the people to get them to follow his leadership. He uses Jor-El to gain weapons in exchange for scientific research. Jor-El saves the planet from a comet, but his actions make Zod realize the peaceful scientist could be a threat to his plans.

THE LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON is a journey into an advanced but stultified culture in which political agendas stifle science and technology from advancing. The story line focuses on a hero Jor-El who with his wife Lara and brother Zor-El of Argo City put the people's need before their own. Although the action is somewhat limited by the insight into Krypton society especially Zod's personal agenda to stifle science from interfering with his plans, fans of Superman will appreciate the interesting look at his biological parents.

The Prophecy
Hilari Bell
9780060599454 $6.50

The dragon has devastated Kingdom of Idris, destroying the land and terrorizing its people. For five years young scholar Prince Perryndon has searched the enormous castle's library seeking a means to slay the dragon. Finally when he turns fourteen, Perryndon believes he has found the solution in an ancient prophecy. His father the king pays no attention to his scholarly teenage offspring as the royal ruler thinks that a master swordsman to fight the Norsemen and the dragon is what is needed and not a physically pathetic bookworm.

Although he is hurt by his sire's disdain for him, the courageous Perryndon seeks to save the kingdom so he turns to the magical Mirror of Idris where he learns that Cedric the master of arms, the Norsemen, and the dragon are in cahoots. Unlike his liege, Cedric recognizes the threat posed by Perryndon and plans to kill him. Perryndon realizes he must leave his home in search of the elements that make up the prophecy. He seeks a bard, a unicorn and the Sword of Samhain while his adversaries want him dead before he fulfills his quest of killing the dragon

This entertaining coming of age quest fantasy hooks the audience from the opening sequence when preteen readers meet the young hero and never slows down as he tries to save the kingdom. Perryndon is a terrific yet uncommon hero as he is totally a scholar rather than a warrior, which is why his sire is disappointed in him. Hilari Bell provides a fun tale as her intrepid teen attempts to fulfill THE PROPHECY while his foes try to kill him.

Ilario: The Stone Golem
Mary Gentle
9780061344985 $14.95

Spanish King Rodrigo freed Ilario, the hermaphroditic freak, whose male and female sexual organs work, was abandoned by his mother at birth (see ILARIO: THE LION'S EYE). However, all is not idyllic for the mixed man-woman but he decides to become an apprentice painter in Roma. However, before he departs someone tries to kill him.

He flees Spain stopping in Carthage where the darkness of the Penitence leaves a cloud on everyone's soul. However, Carthage proves a terrible mistake as he is captured and sold as a slave to the highest bidder. Having tasted slavery before, Ilario vows to regain his freedom and continue his trek to Roma. However, he-she is fortunate to have a kind master, a book collecting castrato. Ilario will soon learn the identity of his assassin, who tries again to kill him-her. Lady Rosamunda needs Ilario dead as she climbs the aristocratic ladder in Carthage; if the truth of her greatest shame came out she would be ostracized especially by master Egyptian scholar Rekhmire.

Set in the Ash alternate historical universe, but decades earlier, Ilario is a terrific character driven tale that grips the audience from the onset as the author gently challenges readers' concepts of reality with fascinating plausible spins and twists. Ilario is an interesting protagonist who thinks of people through which of his genders they have not yet met while Rosamunda's motive to having him killed seems genuine especially anchoring the late fifteenth century era. Although one does not need to read the Ash saga, fans need to peruse THE LION'S EYE as THE STONE GOLEM is book two of the Story of the First History, Ilario's tale.

Gabriella Herbert
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451221971 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Sara Townley, the investigator for a high profile Seattle law firm, is assigned the job of finding Flash, a cat worth two million dollars. After spending hours on the phone calling pounds and humane societies, she visits the home of multimillionaire Stuart Masterton of Masterton Enterprises, who has not been seen for a while either. Sara talks to Jeff Randall, who is living on the estate as Flash's caretaker. He called the lawyers and explained to Sara he searched the neighborhood, put up flyers and questioned the neighbors. She assures him they will find Flash and he will keep his cushy job.

When she gets home, the Navy Seal Connor she married after knowing him for only a week is there. He had to report to duty after they tried the knot and she hasn't seen him for four months and almost forgot she was married. When Jeff calls telling her a man called with information about Flash she runs out of the house to meet him. What she finds in the alley is a dead body and ends up with a concussion when she knocks her head against a policeman's chin. Connor picks her up and tells her they will work as a team, which turns out to be a good idea as they deal with a missing man, embezzlement, law suits and a killer who has no qualms about getting rid of anyone who gets in his way,

CATNAPPED is a delightful charming mystery that will appeal to readers who don't like blood and gore in their whodunits but demand a good story. It is hard to accept that Gabriella Herbert makes her debut with this cozy because it is so complex and multi-layered, and filled with fully developed characters who readers will love or hate. With no twists clues that lead in a straight path to more clues, the fun in this tale are the relationship between the sleuths and the myriad of suspects tat changes as more evidence surfaces.

Frill Kill
Laura Childs
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425217306 $22.95

It is days before Halloween with post-Katrina New Orleans getting into the spirit of the holiday hoping to revive lagging morale and bring in some much needed revenue. Carmela Bertrand, the owner of the scrapbook store Memory Mine in the French Quarter, is visiting her friend Ava Grieux, owner of the Jujo Voodoo Shop, and is impressed with her newest employee Giovanni, a sexy charismatic man who tells fortunes.

After she leaves the store she goes across Ava's alley on the way home; she is pushed from behind, sees a flying white dove with blood on his wings and finds the dead body of Amber Lalique, the lead fashion model of Chadron who is giving a show this week. The police find Carmela knocked out on the corpse whose throat is missing. Suspicion first falls on Giovanni and later his brother Santini who didn't hide his anger with his breakup with Amber very well. Carmella investigates at Ava's request because she wants to know if Giovanni or Santini are killers. Both women are curious about the killing and start nosing around but as usual Carmella finds herself in danger from a killer who has no mercy.

Laura Childs gives readers an interesting glimpse of post Katrina New Orleans as the city tries to make a revival with many people pulling together to make their Big Easy as glorious as it once was, but more inclusive. Carmella is a delightful lead character who finds herself in unusual predicaments as she tries to track a killer while trying to keep her soon to be ex-husband from her. She leads an interesting life full of action, adventure and danger without coming across as a hero. Laura Childs keeps readers interested as they become absorbed in the fascinating storyline.

Angela Knight
9780425217849 $14.00

"Jane's Warlord". Three hundred years from now the Temporal Enforcement sends warlord Baran Arvid and his genetically engineered wolf Freika back to the twenty-first century to protect reporter Jane Colby from a murderous time traveler Kalag Druss. Baran is to kill Kalag before the jump killer murders Jane. Jane covers a particular brutal murder nearby her home. When she returns to her house, she finds Baran and the talkative Freika waiting for her. Escape is impossible and soon she figures out that her warden and his sidekick come from the future. The worst that could happen to Baran is that he falls in love which distracts him from his mission and places his beloved in peril from the deadly time traveler.

"Warfem". 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.

"The Warlord and the Fem". Kyne hides on the ship Drunna's Victory from the Warlord Baird Airell who she met while on R&R on the planet Verton. She is a Fem, a genetically engineered soldier which make her subject to any demands in the bedroom from a Warlord; that scares her when it comes to Baird. She has to confront her fears because Baird gains the crew's respect as he tries to bond with her.

"Baby, You've Changed". When the ship Intrepid defeated the ship that Fem Tamin was on, she was reunited with her first lover Gage Deauxville. She rejected him because he was human, but now he is a vampire who claims he is her master.

JANE'S WARLORD is a reprint of the same title novel while "Warfem" was first published as part of the Kick Ass novellas anthology; the two short stories are new. WARLORD provides fans of Angela Knight, an omnibus collection of this entertaining outer space fantasy saga.

Awaiting the Fire
Donna Lea Simmons
9780425217610 $6.99

In 1795 Charlotte von Wolfram arrives in England to meet her betrothed, Simeon St. Ange. She also wants to find the mother of her illegitimate half-sister Fanny. She hides from her fiance, an earl, that the males of her family are werewolves; a secret she has vowed to never reveal to anyone. Simeon knows that marrying her in what looked like a coup when he agreed is politically incorrect since the Prince of Wales and his pregnant spouse from the content have been squabbling; still he plans to adhere to the deal which includes giving Charlotte the right of refusal..

Simeon and his family host a ball in honor of Charlotte. However, to her astonishment her brother Christophe informs her that there is another shapeshifter at the event. Meanwhile family friend Lyulph Randell locates Fanny's mother. Charlotte and Fanny rush to meet her only to be forced to seek shelter with Gypsies. The band's seer warns Charlotte to beware of Simeon who hides something from her while Lyulph continues his manipulations waiting for the right moment to destroy his enemy.

Readers will enjoy the latest Donna Lea Simmons' historical paranormal romance as placing the supernatural inside a late eighteenth century plot makes for a superb refreshing romance (see AWAITING THE MOON and AWAITING THE NIGHT). The cast is strong as they bring the era to life even with the paranormal elements. Charlotte is especially terrific as she begins to have doubts about her beloved Simeon, who realizes his failing was one of trust. The sub-genre audience will appreciate this appealing tale.

Demon Envy
Erin Lynn
9780425217375 $9.99

In Ohio sixteen years old Kenzie is a normal junior at West Shore High School. She ignores her younger siblings, fourteen years old Brandon and five years old Zoe; has a best friend "Iz"; hates perfect Amber; loves Adam; and uses acne medicine. In other words, she is a typical American teenager.

Everything abruptly changes for Kenzie when she applies her newest acne cream while taking a shower; she dropped the glob down the drain accidentally, but somehow that opens a portal in her bathtub to the demon world. Levi steps through it. He looks like an American male teen to everyone but his mage Kenzie. She sees his blue wings and green scales that no one else notices. Levi has spent six months in a demonic prison for failure to carry out the first commandment of demon survival: thou shall cause jealousy amidst humans. If he fails to raise the envy level, he will starve to death because greed and spite are what sustains his kind. Kenzie reluctantly agrees to help Levi escape demon bondage forever; a feat no one has ever achieved, but as she knows she is an American teen queen.

This amusing chick lit fantasy will hook readers the moment that Kenzie has cardiac arrest when her expensive cream flows through the drain and Levi flows up into her shower. The fast-paced lighthearted story line is fun to follow as Kenzie wants the geek to go back to demon world, but feels responsible to help him get his freedom. Although the story line is thin, young teens will enjoy the antics of Kenzie as she is the focus of DEMON ENVY.

Eden Bradley, Jaci Burton and Lisa Renee Jones
9780425217078 $15.00

"Sanctuary" by Eden Bradley. In San Francisco naive innocent Devin Delaney visits the Ring, a dance club on fetish night. She becomes fascinated with submission-domination in all her relationships, but it is Shayne who teaches her submission to the right dominant is sexually satisfying.

"Wild Nights" by Jaci Burton. In Las Vegas Grace Wylde owns Wild Nights, a swinger's club but rarely partakes in the events that she hosts until Mike Nottingham arrives as he is all beastly male.

"Purple Magic" by Lisa Renee Jones. Half breed vampire-human Joline Moore enters New York's underground clubs searching for her missing best friend Carrie, but wonders who will save her from Drago, the hunk she meets.

These are three equatorial heated romances starring interesting protagonists in which one person in each of the three couple play the club scene while the other is a newcomer.

Linda Castillo
9780425218297 $7.99

Unable to deal with the suspect killing the nine year old innocent girl, Chicago Police Officer Marty Hogan loses control and beats the male suspect up. To her misfortune, she is caught on video that is shown around the country and overseas as an example of police brutality. The nation chose to ignore that Rurik Ivanov raped, tortured and battered the child before killing her. Ruined and scorned Marty is forced to resign.

Six months later Marty obtains a police job in purgatory, Caprock Canyon, Texas. Police Chief Clay Settlemeyer believes she can be a good cop, but warns Marty to control her temper. Meanwhile Rurik's brother Radimyr plots vengeance against the woman who humiliated his sibling making him look ridiculous for the world to see. His sister Katja starts the cat and mouse game with Marty's former Chicago partner and Radimyr continues it in Texas where Clay's daughter Erica becomes an expendable pawn. The Cold War is hot.

Romantic suspense fans will enjoy the aptly named OVERKILL as several individuals seek redemption in differing ways. Marty needs to prove she is a good cop while Radimyr needs to destroy her for the insult to his family. Clay also finds a second chance as he and Marty fall in love (although that feels more like a requirement than a needed subplot). However, the story line is stolen by the brief appearances of the Russian black widow Katja whose body is that of a siren but whose heart is a frozen wasteland. Linda Castillo provides her audience with a tense thriller that hooks the reader from the moment that Marty arrives in "BumF**k", Texas and never slows down until the final East meets Midwest and Southwest confrontation.

Caressed by Ice
Nalini Singh
9780425218426 $6.99

Judd Lauren was a Psy-net Arrow who knew that he was expendable as were all assassins. When he dropped out to insure the safety of his offspring, he expected ironically to be assassinated. Instead the SnowDancer wolf pack welcomed his children and tepidly allowed him to stay with them.

When pack member Brenna Kincaid is kidnapped, Judd helps rescue her. Back in the safe environs of the pack, Brenna needs to choose a mate, but her selection is Judd, who feels unworthy of her due to his Psy-net past. When a member is brutally tortured before being killed, Judd recognizes the work as a Psy-net operative sending a message that the pack will die one at a time; however, he also assumes a traitor from within had to abet this unknown predator.

CARESSED BY ICE is a terrific Psy-Changeling romantic investigative fantasy that will temporarily satiate fans of Nalini Singh who will still demand the next tale and send newcomers searching for the back list (see VISIONS OF HEAT). Judd is a fabulous hero who feels unworthy of Brenna and of the mission he must undergo. Readers will enjoy this fine entry in a wonderful saga due to his efforts and that of Brenna to convince him he is the one for her.

Born to Be Wilde
Janelle Denison
9780425210826 $7.99

Former marine Joel Wilde enjoys his work as a security specialist almost as much as he likes being single. Zach Marshall asks Joel to protect his sister Lora. Joel agrees as he was a Force Reconnaissance Unit buddy; ironically as good as each was, neither reenlisted after the Baghdad mission; in fact few re-upped as most including Zach and Joel walked away at a minimum emotionally damaged if not physically impaired.

In Chicago, Lora works as a waitress at a dive and a masseuse at a spa. She enjoys being a bachelorette, but her dream is her owning a spa. When these two confirmed bachelors meet, spark fly as they are attracted to one another. However, being a professional bodyguard means keeping Lora safe from a gang with nasty intentions even as Joel wonders who will keep his heart safe.

As always with Janelle Denison thrillers readers obtain a Wilde romantic suspense thriller that takes off from the moment Joel meets the sister. Joel quickly learns that Lora is TOO WILDE TO TAME as she prefers a walk on THE WILDE SIDE. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of a vet who believes he is unworthy of the woman he loves while she wants this WILDE THING in her life at least for now. The gnat angle takes back seat to this Wilde war of the sexes.

Bad Girl
Maya Reynolds
Berkley Heat
9780451222107 $14.00

Shy overweight social worker Sandy Davis is a peeping Thomasina who each night watched through her apartment window the sexual games of others. She rationalizes what no one knows will not harm them. That is until the phone call comes telling her she has been a BAD GIRL.

Justice as he calls himself to her says he has been watching her watch others and has pictures of her performance. He blackmails into all types of masturbation. However, Justice is an undercover cop named Zeke, who just wanted Sandy to stop her voyeurism. Now as he has a dangerous gangster to catch, he needs to perform a sexual duet with Sandy.

BAD GIRL is an interesting but different police procedural erotic romance. Sandy is a voyeur while Justice turns out to be one too. The story line is fast-paced especially when Justice and Sandy communicate, but the gangster subplot takes a back seat to the lust; thus when Sandy is endangered by the gangster, it seems forced. Still fans who appreciate something offbeat in their erotica will want to read the tale of two voyeurs who both want much more to satiate their sexual appetite.

Scandal's Daughter
Christine Wells
9780425218327 $6.99

In 1814, only to his dying godfather would notorious womanizer Earl Sebastian Laidley make a death bed promise. However out of respect for the man, Sebastian promises to find a husband for his childhood friend Gemma Maitland within three months or if he fails at matchmaking marry her.

Scandalized by her mother a disreputable courtesan, Gemma ignores polite society although she admits to herself that is easy as she is an undesirable. Thus she rusticates running her grandfather's estate, but loves using her brains to turn a profit out of the land. Sebastian realizes to succeed on his quest without it being him he needs to get her off her turf and onto his. He convinces Gemma he needs her help with his sister's wedding and, she agrees to assist him. On his estate, he angrily thinks half the male members of the Ton want to court Gemma; a jealous Sebastian has always loved her even when they were children.

This entertaining Regency romance obviously uses the theme of a rake finding a husband for the daughter of a courtesan, an often used device that is fresh and brisk because of Sebastian's changing feelings as no suitor is good enough for Gemma. As for those she might consider if she was seeking a spouse, Sebastian denies his jealousy. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this fine "I'm not in love" historical romance as the lead male knows It's just a silly phase he's going through.

Some Like It Hot-Buttered
Jeffrey Cohen
9780425217993 $6.99

After writing a book, getting it published and having it made into a movie, Elliot Freed has a lot of money not counting the alimony check his ex-wife pays him. Not having to write another book he decides to buy an old run down movie theatre, fix it up and rename it Comedy Central where only comedies are shown. One night after the movie is over, the man in Row 5 seat 18 is still there. Elliot goes to wake him up and tell him to leave as he is closing only to discover the man is dead.

When the police are called, the EMT's think it is a heart attack, but it is later discovered somebody put poison in his popcorn, a beta blocker for high blood pressure. When the premises are searched, one of the officers finds pirated movies. Not knowing anything about it, Elliot and the police go to ask projectionist Anthony if he knows anything about it but he has disappeared and nobody knows where he is. Feeling responsible for Anthony's predicament and the victim who got killed in his theatre, Elliot investigates both crimes while someone scrutinizes his every move.

Jeffrey Cohen's mysteries are full of humor in a low key sort of way and SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED is no exception. The amateur sleuth whodunit is a fun read with a character whose personality rings true as if the author really knows them. The hero is an everyman which means the audience can relate to him. The author is a great writer who insures his hero is one of us.

Emma Holly
9780425217054 $14.00

In Fairyville, Arizona resident Zoe Clare communicates with the dead and with the living fairy population. Zoe also has the hots for her landlord Magnus Monroe, who every eligible female in town except her can claim they tasted his magic.

Alexander Goodbody of Goodbody & McCallum investigators leaves Scottsdale to come home to Fairyville on a case. Alex left town after high school breaking the heart of Zoe when he did. He never forgot her and wonders if she forgave him for the scandal he caused and left behind for her to suffer. Zoe has moved on as she wants Magnus, but decides to have fun with Alex, wondering how her unrequited beloved will react.

Emma Holly is incredible as she combines erotica (male-female, male-male and menage a trois, etc.), fantasy, and romance into a whimsical contemporary tale that grips the audience from the onset and never slows down until the final coda as Bryan McCallum looks back in awe and forward in greater trepidation. The two prime subplots tie together nicely through the cast especially Zoe, the link between everyone and everything. Readers will want to travel to the renowned "fairy-spotting capital of the world", Fairyville, Arizona where heated eccentricity is the norm.

The Master
Jean Johnson
9780425217061 $14.00

The Mandarites drugged and kidnapped Dominor from his home on Nightfall isle. When the Natallian slavers attack the Mandarite vessel, Dominor roots for the newcomers as his treatment cannot get much worse from the devil he does not know. In turn he is put up for sale and purchased by mathemagican Lady Serina Avadan, Guardian of Koral-Tai

She needs a male equal in power to her to right an ancient wrong; as some idiot apparently not understanding equal signs blew a spell causing an imbalance between the genders that is beginning to show devastating effects. Serina plans to break the error spell by reenacting the tantric sex mating that was used to bring power to the mage performing the spell. However, though she persuades her slave to voluntarily join her as she promises to free him once the chore is done; she omits to tell him the side effects on them.

The latest Sons of Destiny romantic fantasy (see THE SWORD and THE WOLF) is an entertaining entry, but lacks the multiple subplots that the previous tales contained. Still this is a solid stand alone story as readers will enjoy the antics of the lead couple with she as the Master and he the slave unless he can prove they are loving equals. Fans of the series will enjoy this straight to the point (his that is) thriller.

The Fright of the Iguana
Linda O. Johnston
9780425218020 $6.99

As a lawyer Kendra Ballantine was accused of ethics violations and her license was suspended. While she was trying to straighten out the unjust charges she opened up her own business Critter TLC,LLc as a pet sitter. When her license was reinstated she switched law firms to a smaller laid back one that would allow her to practice pet litigation and she kept her job as a pet sitter.

When she goes to her clients to take care of Zibble the puppy and Sauraus the iguana she finds both missing. A note tells her that the animals were kidnapped and not to call the police. She calls Tracy Owens, president of the Pet-Sitters Club of So-Cal, to warn her and others watching the animals until the pet-nappers are caught only to find out that three other pets that the group watched are also missing. At an emergency meeting Tracy gets into an argument with Nya over whether their group is being targeted. Shortly after, Nya is found murdered and Tracy is the prime suspect. Everyone wants Kendra to find the missing pets, find the pet-nappers and the killer which she is already trying to do.

Animal lovers and readers of amateur sleuth mysteries are going to love THE FRIGHT OF THE IGUANA. There is a sub-plot involving Kendra's love life that is very romantic and relieves some of the tension of this action filled who done it and why. Nobody is going to guess who the perpetrator is because that person hides in plain sight and has lots of credibility. The key, Kendra believes, into these crimes is to find the motive because she thinks all the criminal acts are committed by one person. Linda O. Johnston, can always be counted on to write an entertaining and memorable mystery.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen
Emily Brightwell
9780425217313 22.95

The household of Inspector Gerald Witherspoon is usually a merry one with the servants not only liking each other but all working together to help their employer (without his knowledge) solve homicide cases. As a result of their works, he has a 100 percent solved homicide rate and is looked upon as the best detective on the Metropolitan police force. This year is very different as everyone is worried about the maid Betsy who has lost so much weight since her beloved and fellow servant in the Witherspoon household cancelled the holidays to help a friend in Australia.

When he returns she barely speaks to him and on the same night of his return Witherspoon is given a homicide case after not having one for the last six months. Stephen Whitfield, a man in polite society, was hosting a dinner party when after drinking Bordeaux that one of the guests gave him as a gift keels over and dies. A doctor friend of Mrs. Jeffries was called to the scene, and he realized right away the victim was poisoned. Foxglove was found in the liquor and all the guests had access to it. Working separately, Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon find they haven't a clue who killed Whitfield because none of the people at the party had a motive.

Every Mrs. Jeffries mystery is an entertaining, well plotted police procedural filled with continuing characters that feel like old and familiar friends. Emily Bright's Victorian whodunits are like potato chips, they are so delicious you can't stop with just one. Taking place in Victorian England, readers get a glimpse of bygone era as seen through the eyes of the servant class.

For Her Pleasure
Maya Banks
9780425217498 $15.00

"What She Wants". Travis "Mac" Townsend and Ryder Sinclair worry about their woman Kit Townsend. Although they agreed to no commitments with her, the two male buddies were not there for her when she was sexually attacked; the assault has taken away some of the elan from this vibrant spirited female who already had trust issues. Mac especially fells he failed her, as he knows he loves her more than just a sex friend; he wants to commit to her, but fears she will run.

"What She Needs". Ryder is not stupid as he sees the love between his two best friends is different than how she feels towards him. Ryder knows he loves Kit, but she loves Mac; he will always be her "brother". That is until the tragic accident has the trio opening their eyes to their interrelationships.

"What She Craves". Mia Nichols fell in love with Jack Kincaid, but after a one night stand he vanished and she realized to her regret she don't know Jack. Two years later, she is in deep trouble when Jack, who never forgot her, returns to the rescue.

The three novellas are interrelated as Jack appears in "What She Needs". The erotic tales include strong sex scenes (menage a trois, anal sex, BDSM, etc.), and even more graphic violence against women scenes. The lead men are heroic, but the two prime females must have IQs in negative numbers as they lack common sense. Still fans who prefer torrid temperatures can bank on this interrelated collection to generate triple digit heat.

Dark Possession
Christine Feehan
9780425217092 $24.95

Carpathian Manuel "Manolito" De La Cruz saves the life of a pregnant member of his species, but is stabbed and poisoned during his Good Samaritan jaunt. Dying, his family returns him to his South American home with faint hopes that he will recover.

Seattle battered women's counselor MaryAnn Delaney flies to the De la Cruz Brazilian estate to help a pregnant rape victim, who has mixed feelings about the life she carries. As Manolito struggles with reality and a realm of dead vampires and were-jaguars, he realizes that MaryAnn is his lifemate. However, she rejects his plea of undying love even as she discovers her "supernatural" essence.

DARK POSSESSION is the best Carpathian paranormal romantic suspense thriller in several years as the deep storyline is enhanced with supernatural and fantasy elements beyond the usual components, which are all there. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action from the onset when Manolito risks his life. MaryAnn is a terrific heroine who knows she wants Manolito and probably loves him, but has doubts about strong virile Alpha males. Fans of the series will read Christine Feehan's heated tale of the M & M (not the candy or the '61 Yankees), couple finding love in the Brazilian Rainforest.

Jeff Long
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743284547 $25.00

Ten years ago, incredible inner earth labyrinths were discovered. A scientific expedition beneath the trenches of the Pacific Ocean occurred with most of the humans who came to explore Hades killed by the indigent predators who have terrorized the surface dwellers for millennia. The humans believed that they managed to kill the ruler.

One of the humans, linguist Ali von Schade, survived captivity by the Hadals to eventually return to her home on the planet surface with a vow to never go inside the earth again. Instead Dr. von Schade, suffering from the Stockholm syndrome especially after her time with the glamorous Satan, studies anything related to the several diverse Hadal peoples.

As a great war seems imminent on the Asian continent, children suddenly begin disappearing and ritual massacres occur. She knows who is responsible. Unable to resist, Ali joins the children rescue effort as all the evidence points towards Hades. Ali knows Satan lives as her affinity to him from her incarnation remains strong; she needs to see him as she remains attracted to Satan, yet also wants to kill him.

This exciting sequel to THE DESCENT (not read by this reviewer) is a fast-paced exhilarating gory thriller that never slows down once Ali realizes that the devil in her dreams remains alive inside the earth. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action and more action. Ali is the only multi-dimensional character and much of her flaws come from real demons and not her exploration of the cultures of Hell, but fans of non-stop action will not care as hell comes to earth through subway tunnels and humans go to Hell.

Colette Gale
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451221377 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In 1887 Paris, Raoul de Chagney vows to make the star of the Opera House Christine Daae his lover. However, Christine is already in love with her secret muse Erik, who hides in the shadows of the Opera House and wears a masque so she will never see his face. In the dark, visages do not matter when they touch, but when they do not she imagines all sorts of horror. When she finally unmasques her beloved, she is shocked, but her love for him is deep and strong.

When Raoul's brother Philippe takes an interest in Christine, he is not a love sick patron begging favors. Soon after his entry into Christine's life, someone kills a woman at the Opera House with the rumored Phantom being the culprit. An arsonist sets the Opera House ablaze forcing Erik and Christine to flee into the night. However, the de Chagney brothers catch them and take them prisoner. While Erik is tormented with his helplessness, Raoul and Philippe do what they want to Christine.

UNMASQUED is an erotic version of the Phantom of the Opera with a strong emphasis on the theme of the original tale as to who is the monster. Christine is a wonderful protagonist whose love for her mentor is so powerful she would give up stardom to live in the catacombs beneath the city to be with him. Erik is also a fabulous character as he tenderly makes love to his cherished Christine, but rejects her sacrificial proposals. The siblings are obviously the monsters of UNMASQUED as they take what they desire with no care about hurting others. Colette Gale provides an entertaining erotic version of the classic that the audience will enjoy if they can adjust to this rendition.

Julie Ortolon
9780451222046 $6.99

When she left Hope, Texas with no hope for her future at least there, Riley Stone vowed to never return. Eleven years later, Riley ponders the irony that she lives in Hope in her grandmother's house and sings at a restaurant.

Riley left the small town hopelessly in love with Jackson Hope, but he apparently did not reciprocate her deep yearning. She assumes that maturity will enable her to put aside her fantasy until she sees him for the first time since she left, as she now knows the fantasy was actually her believing she no longer wanted him. A lawyer Jackson is attracted to the adult Riley just like he was when they were teens and he hid his feelings from her out of nerdy shyness. This time he will not let her go without telling her how much he wants her, but they disagree on what to do about an old music hall. He wants to tear it down to build on the site while she wants to renovate it.

This well written small town Texas romance is a fun tale to read because of the lead couple, who as adults are in love just like they were as teens, but this time plan to act on their attraction. However, instead of shyness keeping them apart, the music hall prevents the duo from fulfilling the full promise of their relationship. Riley hopes the second time around proves eternal while Jackson knows whatever he does with the hall she will remain eternally UNFORGETTABLE inside his heart. Julie Ortolon provides a charming contemporary romance.

Making Money
Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061161643 $25.95 1-800-242-7737

Convicted con man Moist von Luwig was punished by being named the Ankh Morpork Postmaster General. To the shock of the stakeholders, he successfully reengineered the Ankh-Morpork Post Office from running like another government agency into an efficient effective customer oriented business. Shockingly mail is delivered on time to the right address at a phenomenal rate of accuracy.

He is so successful his superior Lord Vetinari offers Moist a new position that combines his experience as the head of a government bureaucracy with his money making skills as the head of the Royal Mint. Apparently hereditary and incest employment practices over hundreds of years has led to a situation in which the cost to make the money exceeds the value of the money made. However, if he accepts the position he will have an angry staff made up of inefficient, unproductive and mostly idle workers. However after GOING POSTAL, royally MAKING MONEY seems easy until someone steals the gold from the impenetrable vault of the Royal Bank.

This zany entertaining satirical sequel continues to lampoon the government bureaucracy, the executive branch leadership up to the White House, and Congressional fiefdom rulers. The story line spoofs the efficiency experts who insist on cutting employee waste while demanding more pork for their districts or promulgating the enforcement of the President's Management Agenda except for DOD and Homeland Security. The Royal Bank's Glooper Machine understands the global economy tenet is there is never enough money for the ultra wealthy whose taxes must be zero so that they can trickle down trickles to the working class to pay taxes. Moist is still at his effective best with the con, but his first inclination to make MORE MONEY is not enough as he must investigate who looted the treasury (beyond tax breaks) setting him up to take the fall though he is unsure of which agency.

God's Demon
Wayne Barlowe
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765309853 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

The civil war in Heaven ended with fallen angels banished to Hell. There a restrictive hierarchy formed with Beelzebub on the top of the pyramid and human sinners in the ooze at the bottom. Most of the Fallen are either pleased with the brutally oppressed set up especially those near the top or just too frightened to complain as Beezlebub runs a tightly controlled chain of command. However, there are rivalries running competing micro kingdoms mostly within a layer in which a local ruler wants an edge, but none come close to impacting the top leadership.

However, one angry former angel General Sargatanus has never forgotten The First War; he lives in anguish over the defeat and what could have been if Lucifer let the Generals run the fight and is livid that his side has given up hope for eternity. He wants back in Heaven, but fears open rebellion in Hell as his superiors are contented with the status quo of abusing those beneath them and strict obeisance to those above them in the chain of command. He decides he has enough subjugating to losers and he might as well have stayed upstairs if he has to kneel for eternity. When he is pushed over the edge, all hell breaks loose as he and several others of the downtrodden demonic fallen angels and the once human damned explode; civil war has occurred again this time starting in Hell as Sargatanus believes he cannot fall any further than he already has so this is step one in his strategic plan to win the Second War Between Heaven and Hell.

Hell seems real and the Fallen appear genuine turning Wayne Barlowe's allegorical thriller into a fabulous exciting tale. GOD'S DEMON contains parallels to church hierarchy and American Federalism with Congressional fiefdoms and an imperial President ruling Hell instead of America. Fans will enjoy Mr. Barlowe's deep look at the players making up his Inferno.

Dark Warrior Rising
Ed Greenwood
9780765317650 $24.95

When Orivon Firefist was six years old the Niflghar (dark elves) abducted humans as slaves from his village Ashenuld. He was taken through tunnels leading to the vast caves where their castles lie. At that time he was unaware that there are two rival groups of dark elves. One worships the Ever Ice which gives them mastery over magic, treats their slaves reasonably well; the other revere the goddess Oline who tortures their slaves in order to insure their master or mistress remains perfectly beautiful.

Orivon had the misfortune to become the slave of cruel Taerune of the powerful house of Everdoom. She tortured him until she thought she broke him. Instead he knows he will only have one chance to escape so he patiently waits for the proper moment. That occurs when the rival House of Ouhlor breeches the magical wards and fierce fighting ignites. While in battle Taerune loses with her only chance for redemption being suicide. However the freed Orivon has other plans for his former mistress; as he needs her to guide him to the surface in return he will let her seek protection from other Nameless deities.

In this exciting stand alone fantasy, Ed Greenwood explores the culture, social mores and customs and strengths and weakness of the Dark Elves in their life underground. The dark elves believe the humans are unintelligent animals with a primitive culture that fails to neither appreciate beauty nor understand magic. Orivon and Taerune are diametric opposites who believe the other's civilization is totally barbaric. He has loathed her for a long time for hurting him, but needs her as they share the same enemies. They reach a truce and he comes to see she is not evil by nature but a product of her environment. DARK WARRIOR RISING is a magical treat that will please fantasy purists.

Shadows on the Soul
Jenna Black
9780765357175 $6.99

When Philadelphian Eli created the Guardian vampires to protect the innocent, the hardest task he faced was killing his Gabriel. The credo of the Guardians is not to kill while Gabriel is a killer. However, Eli's hesitation enabled Gabriel to survive vowing to one day commit patricide.

Meanwhile Gabriel has his own "offspring" Jezebel who he plans to use as an expendable pawn to get inside his father's inner circle. He is unprepared for the warm connection between his father and his ward and worse his own feelings towards Jezebel as his heart froze when Eli tried to kill him. However, he has no time to analyze his feelings as his mother, who he defeated before in Baltimore and another vampire attack father and son. If Eli and Gabriel fail to unite against their common enemy, they will both die.

The key to this fabulous paranormal thriller is that Jenna Black's vampiric America seems reasonable. The family feud story line is fun to follow as the adversarial relationship between father and son is made worse by how they feel towards Jezebel and the need to trust one another after five centuries of discord if they are to survive the European imperial invasion. Paranormal romantic suspense fans will enjoy Ms. Black's latest Guardians tale (see Secrets in the Shadows)

David Farland
9780765316653 $24.95

When evil tried to take control of the One True World, it shattered the solitary orb into thousands of shadow worlds. On each planet war between pure evil and humanity with the outcome unknown is occurring.

The sons of the once powerful Earth King Gaborn, Fallion and Jaz have been living for years as outlaws since their kingdom fell to Lady Despair, ruler of the Death Lords. Fallion is drawn to Castle Coorm where he and his brother once lived. He intends to make a brief nostalgic stop there before going to the underground to find the Seal of the Inferno in hopes of uniting it with the other two seals and creating the One True World again. In Castle Coorm he finds a Tree of Life, which he uses to merge two worlds cataclysmically into one with many people dying. Fallion joins forces with the immortal Daylon Hammer, a resident of the One True World who knows Fallion is the one who can bind the worlds together; this makes him a prize for Lady Despair to control so she can be the ruler of the One True World.

WORLDBINDER is more character driven and less action intense than the previous books in the Runelords Saga. When the two worlds join as one, readers will be stunned as innocent people die in the geographical upheaval. The characters get acquainted with people from the other world; learn the geographical changes that alter the landscape; and struggle to forge a new political regime constructed of the two worlds. One thing not changing is that when people allow evil to enter their hearts they start to become minions of the dark and as they lose their humanity. They then eagerly need to bring down human beings who they regard as fodder. Fallion is the focus of the tale as all sides want to own him. WORLDBINDER can stand alone appealing to apocalyptic fantasy fans, but series fans will definitely enjoy David Farland's newest tale.

A Companion of Wolves
Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
9780765318169 $29.95

Wolfcarls are men who fight the trolls and wyvern when they come down from the north and are telepathically bonded with their warrior wolves. There has not been a major Troll excursion in almost a century so the ranks of men and wolves are below full strength. They live apart from the community as the wolfhealls and the males must bond.

Njall is picked as part of this year's tithe, an honor that makes him defy his father who orders him not to go. He bonds with konigenwolf Viradechtis, an alpha who will grow up to lead her own wolfheall along side of Njall, now called Isolfr. He learns what it means to be a wolfcarl, as major aspects of his life has changed, but his love for his wolf makes him feel it is worth any hardship. However, the trolls invade the land, killing all who stand in the way of their horde. Isolfr and Viradechtis risk their lives to stop the raiders, but will fail unless a recluse who wants no part of them helps; and even then they may still lose.

This collaboration between two greats has led to a fascinating and unusual fantasy. Although the story line follows much of the usual coming of age quest saga, the plot goes much deeper especially into the relationship between the wolfcarl and his wolf than most Scandinavian mythos based tales; thus the audience learns how wolf society works. Not for the squeamish. A COMPANION OF WOLVES is a delightful sexually graphic (running the gamut) save the realm fantasy.

V: The Second Generation
Kenneth Johnson
9780765319067 $24.95

They came to us as saviors, humanoid beings of such intelligence that their technology is given away freely and our water which is so polluted is taken up to their ships to be cleansed. They assured us that they only arrested people who didn't want to change the status quo. They land nd it is found out, underneath their human faces are the skin of lizards, a carnivorous, aggressive race intent on conquering most of earth's population., Since the purge of 1998, the remaining humans believe that they are benevolent.

Twenty years later, the visitors are in total control of the planet and the Commandant Diana is still second to the Leader in power. A new second generation rebel force has been formed with cells all over the planet. They need to win back earth but the humans for the most part don't know there is a problem. This time, humanity has an ally; the Zedtis arrive, three of them with an invasion force waiting for the word to come in full force. They fought the Visitors and won but their insect evolved humanoid race believes they are using earth's water to power their armies and are going to use earth's people to fight using a weapon he Visitors developed to neutralize the Zeltis. However humans were burned once by aliens pretending to be friends now the rebels have to know for certain if liberation and freedom from the threat of The Visitors is all the Zedtis really want.

Reading this book is like coming home to anyone who has seen the original television series V. The characters stay true to form with Diana as the evil villainess who has the means and the power to back up her leadership. The various members of the resistance individually are shown to be heroes. The only quibble one might have is the new alien allies insert themselves into the resistance too easily.

The White Plague
Frank Herbert
9780765317735 $14.95

American molecular biologist Dr. John O'Neill, accompanied by his wife Mary and their five years old twins Mairead and Kevin, is in Dublin completing his project "An Overview of Irish Genetic Research" as required by the Pastermorn Foundation grant. However, they are only a few days in country when the terrorist bomb killed Mary and the kids as he watched them die and consequently killed his soul too.

John vowed vengeance on humanity for murdering his loved ones as he blames all mankind for their avarice. In his New England lab, he creates THE WHITE PLAGUE that kills women only; for without females there is no human race. Instead of coming together governments go it alone seeking a cure; scientific teams see future history books as each wants to be the Fleming of this age so none share their information with others. Firebombing the infected zones becomes the elixir of the moment. John returns to Ireland to take a first hand euphoric tour using his biochemist credentials as his visa. Others join his pilgrimage through hell including the terrorist who killed his family.

THE WHITE PLAGUE is an exciting reprint of an early 1980s cautionary tale that seems still relevant with the talks of weapons of mass destruction and the politicizing by the government of scientific research and data. The story line is at its best prior to John coming to Ireland as competition to be the superhero and superpower leads to further failures at a time when international cooperation and teaming are critical. Although the book turns overly philosophical when John and company begin his final victory tour, science fiction thriller readers will appreciate Frank Herbert's warning in 1982 that government officials will use science for their dogmatic pampering of their supporters; just ask the Surgeon Generals.

Jumper: Griffin's Story
Steven Gould
9780765318275 $24.95

When Griffin was four year old he learned he had the uncanny skill of a Jumper, being able to teleport himself to any place he has been. His parents warned him to keep his ability secret and quickly relocated out of fear. When he turned nine the men arrived at his home in search of him; they killed his parents, but he leaped to safety before the hit men could murder him.

Over the years, Griffin vows to survive long enough to kill those who murdered his parents. Nothing will stop him although he knows he must learn who the planners and financiers behind the operation are. Every one of them must die if he is to avenge his parents' murders and if he is to survive as his adversaries want him dead.

This is a book based on an upcoming movie based on a book originally written by the same author Steven Gould. Griffin's story is fun to follow although it has a film feel to it as it jumps from one action scene to another. Still Mr. Gould showcases his talent as readers will empathize with Griffin, whose jumps seem genuine and his obsession for revenge real.

Queen of Candesce
Karl Schroeder
9780765315441 $25.95

Venera Fanning is falling into the large artificially contained nothingness of Virga. Finally, after what feels like eternity, she lands on the ancient nation of Spyre, an orb whose cylinder shape is rotting to the point that this planet is doomed.

Venera quickly does what she does best alienate people although she finds a few allies almost as amoral as she is. Trusting no one, she knows she must respond rapidly to determine who can insure her survivability on this strange world even if it means some of her new cohorts are expendable. However, Venera also possesses the Key of Candesce that can change entire worlds, but her prime goal remains to live until she can avenge those who sent her into free fall even as she understands that her first encounter arrival causes a civil war between the status quo and the reformists.

The second Virga science fiction saga (see Sun of Suns) is a terrific thought provoking entry that is loaded with action yet causes the audience to ponder deep philosophical concepts. For instance as the amoral Venera plots vengeance and causes a civil war, readers will consider what is human in light of rebellious artificial intelligence and how human culture evolves around its environment especially the Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome concept for turning Manhattan into airless space.

Jo Walton
9780765318534 $25.95

In 1941 the Farthing Group negotiated a peace deal with Hitler that gave the Nazis the continent and made Great Britain his ally. Now eight years later, the once proud English democracy is gone replaced by a repressive regime that persecutes minorities and dissidents through violent police state tactics.

However an angry underground insurgency has caused problems for the government; culminating with a bomb exploding on the streets of London. Scotland Yard Inspector Carmichael, whose investigation into the murder of the Farthing group leader Sir James Thirkie has alienated him with the brass and the politicians, is assigned the lead because he is expendable. Pressure mounts once again for him to fix blame on some scapegoat person preferably a homosexual or a group like the Jews rather than find the truth. However as he did in the FARTHING affaire, he keeps digging. What he finds makes no sense as a vast conspiracy consisting of members of the NRA, the House of Lords, the Communist Party, and a number of other activist groups plot to assassinate the Prime Minister and Hitler with hopes of causing a revolution.

Whereas FARTHING is a terrific alternate historical police procedural, HA'PENNY is more of a fabulous alternate historical suspense thriller. Walton's world is based on the premises that the British hierarchy "exiled" Churchill and avoided war with Hitler by appeasing the Nazis. Once again the conspiracy is over the top, but the investigation is clever as loner Carmichael struggles with the directions the clues take him even as his supervisors question his loyalty. These two tales are must reading for the Harry Turtledove fans who will appreciate another well written 1940s spin.

Halting State
Charles Stross
9780441014989 $24.95

In 2012 China, India and Europe battle to become the world's economic superpower due to the continuation of Bush economic policies. The United States faces federal bankruptcy as the debt can no longer be covered by foreign borrowing and no leader has the guts to raise taxes and cut spending.

In England, Edinburgh Police Sergeant Sue Smith and London based forensic accountant Elaine Barnaby are looking at a complex convoluted scheme to abscond funds from the international company Hayek Associates. The unknown crook cleverly moves money through a virtual reality allegedly safe bank Avalon Four. Elaine realizes she needs a special programmer who can hack any system, but is too stupid to be more than a basement mushroom. She picks Jack Reed to catch a thief.

This is a terrific science fiction thriller that paints a potentially realistic nightmare of the near future as the Bush legacy will prove to be an economic and technological wasteland. The fun in this delightful one sitting tale (in spite of it being 352 pages) is with the virtual world filled with fantasy species that irritate users. Effortlessly changing viewpoints between the lead trio so that readers observe the same issue from differing biases, HALTING STATE is a fabulous cautionary tale that warn s if we fail to act now, the American century will become real only in virtual reality fantasy games.

Kelly McCullough
9780441015382 $6.99

Necessity created the magical web (mweb) in order to interconnect the infinite worlds of the multiverse as a means to keep chaos under control. Sorcerer Prince Ravirn of the house of Fate was chosen as the web administrator because of his superior hacker skills. However, as is his way, alienates his three great-aunts, the Fates (Clothos, Atropros, and Lachesis). Actually it was Lachesis who exiled her nephew and his best friend webgoblin-laptop Melchior from the family; while Clothos renamed him Raven of chaos.

Ravirn's (Don't call me Raven) girlfriend Cerice mourns the death of her webpixie-PDA Shara, who died saving her mistress; life. Making her grief insurmountable and driving Raven crazy is that Shara the PDA contained Cerice's doctorate in Computer Science. Thus her paper is on the other side of the River Styx with no way of retrieving it without trickery. Ravirn has a plan to fool his poker buddy Cerberus, the guardian of the underworld and hack into Lucifer's database to retrieve Shara. Ravirn succeeds, but the outcome proves different than he imagined. Instead of kisses, he finds the mweb is falling apart as if a worm is eating away one byte at a time and Lucifer is madder than hell that someone hacked into his computer. As his great-aunts predicted Ravirn has brought chaos into order and they fear that even worse he plans to fix his mistakes by deleting and rebooting the multiverse.

This zany mixing of computer technology with mythology is a cleverly designed satire in which the audience will have a great time following the antics of Ravirn in the mythological information age. The amusing story line spoofs American top secret paranoia as Ravirn hacks into Lucifer's protected database and abducts Shara from the other side while correcting his miscues with greater errors. Readers who appreciate something different will want to read this enjoyable insane sequel to the as much fun and crazy WEBMAGE.

Once Upon A Dreadful Time
Dennis L. McKiernan
9780451461728 $23.95

From time to time, the spouses of the rulers in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn Woods feel as if someone is watching them but they never see anyone. They do not realize that the witch Hradian, acolyte of the faery Wizard Orbane is watching them. She tries to figure out a way to release her master who is imprisoned in the Castle Of Shadows in the Great Darkness beyond the Black Wall of the World. She also wants him to kill the princes and princesses of the various woods domains and their parents Valeray and Saissa because they killed her three sisters..

The father is responsible for Orbane's imprisonment and the children are responsible for the deaths of the witch's three sisters. She sees who has the key to unlock the prison; so Hradian transforms herself into his wife and tricks him into giving it to her. She releases the monster Orbane who imprisons in the Castle of Shadows Valeray, his wife, their children and grandchild and then goes about gathering allies to use on his master plan to rule faery and the human world. The spouses of the imprisoned princes and princess gather an army to fight Orbane but they have to successfully solve the riddle the three fates give each princess if they hope to vanquish the darkness.

ONCE UPON A DREADFUL TIME is a magical and beautiful fairytale that takes place in the world of faery where the laws of science don't work. Fans read about all kind of creatures from mythology and legend like sprites, unicorns, wizards, witches and giants. The characters from the four previous books in the saga make major appearances and play significant roles however it is the three fates and their riddles that are the most important part of the plot because without them the heroes wouldn't have a chance of survival let alone winning; with that they still remain the underdogs.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Inside the Outside: An Anthology of Avant-Garde American Poets
Roseanne Ritzema, editor
Presa :S: Press
P.O. Box 792, Rockford MI 49341
0977252418 $29.95

According to the Farlex Free Dictionary online, avant-garde is a term describing an innovative group applying new techniques to produce fresh and unusual work. The last group of poets to earn the avant-garde label was the Beat poets of the 1950s. This book represents a subsequent generation of poets who craft their work in experimental formats and unusual patterns, or simply give voice to women, downtrodden city dwellers, or social dysfunction.

Most, if not all, of the thirteen poets featured in this book are well-known both inside and outside the world of poetry. Individually and collectively they represent an amazing body of award winning work that encompasses decades. All have been active in the small press, breaking established rules of vision and perception in poetry: Stanley Nelson; Hugh Fox; Kirby Congdon; Richard Kostelanetz; Lyn Lifshin; Harry Smith; Eric Greinke; John Keene; Lynne Savitt; A.D. Winans; Doug Holder; Mark Sonnenfeld; and Richard Morris.

This book represents is a stirring exploration of words and meanings. Some poems flow like word pictures with soft whispers, while others stand out like mysterious petroglyphs hacked into stone. Some celebrate rhythm and cadence; still others perform a visual dance with letters and words. The infinite amorality of our times is represented in poems about politicians and 9/11. The schizophrenic ecstasy of modern society comes to life behind surreal masks. Raw nerve endings and harsh truths are revealed in thought and word through dissociative fugue states and word salads. The experience is often dizzying and exhilarating.

With only a few exceptions I can think of, Inside the Outside features work of the best avant-garde poets of the last fifty years. Whether you appreciate experimental poetry or not, this book is invaluable for the history recorded in it.

Three Versions of the Truth
Amy Knox Brown
Press 53
6610 Shallowford Rd. Ste 202, Lewisville NC 27023
9780979304934 $16.00

Instead of waiting until the end of my review, I'll say it now: this book of 17 short stories is highly recommended. Go directly to the Press 53 website at and pre-order this book now. You'll discover an exceptional award winning storyteller who combines intelligent prose with entertaining style.

Amy Knox Brown writes of everyday happenings and, somehow, makes them seem exotic and new. And surprise, most of her stories are set in and around Lincoln, Nebraska , a place outsiders imagine to be bland and boring. With her crisp writing and personable style, even the most banal occurrence seems fresh and exciting once words reach the page. A failed professor returns to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and, ironically, finds the fame that eluded him in the Ivy League; the chilling destiny of a teenage couple is written in starry constellations seen so clearly from the plains at night; adultery and retribution teach young lovers truths they didn't learn in law school; innocence and danger collide violently when a young girl becomes enamored of the wrong man. Sandwiched in between the longer stories are small intermissions, delectable short, short tales that add depth and dimension to the book as a whole. In one, Sitting Bull has the last word with the white devils he despises. In another, Wild Bill Hickok meets his end. Whether short or long, each story is different and engaging.

In Three Versions of the Truth, Amy Knox Brown writes of love, family dysfunction and devotion, fidelity, friendship, lust, failure, triumph, fear, courage, small miracles and grand accomplishments. This award winning writer knows how to tell stories that enthrall readers. One writing instructor said it best: "Amy Knox Brown writes about Lincoln as if it were Paris."

Chicago Blues
Libby Fischer Hellmann, editor
Bleak House Books
145 N. Commercial Street, Ste 100, Neenah WI 54956
9781932557497 $15.95

I knew a reading treat was in store the moment I read the table of contents. A book of short stories by some of the best mystery writers in the genre, featuring Chicago and the blues, was guaranteed to keep me engrossed in every page. I wasn't wrong. The 21 writers featured in this book are some of the most successful, prolific, award winning mystery writers in the world, icons of the genre: Libby Fischer Hellmann, Stuart Kaminsky, Sara Paretsky, Barbara D'Amato, JA Konrath, Kevin Guilfoile, Jack Fredrickson, Kris Nelscott, Sean Chercover, Max Alan Collins, Michael Black, Steve Mandel, David J. Walker, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Sam Reaves, D.C. Brod, Mary V. Welk, Sam Hill, Marcus Sakey, Ron Levitsky, and Brian Pinkerton. Regardless of where they may live now, all these writers call Chicago "home."

A wise person once said, "You have to write the blues to know them." Each story in this book reflects Chicago and the blues in all their nuances. These are often unsettling stories. Each has a restless energy and gritty style, like the city itself. Readers will meet literate mobsters offering salvation, old friends taking one last trip through Chicago's underground, experience the agonies of lost love and the blues as the windy city played them, past and present. You'll follow private dicks through smoky dives and visit wealthy racketeers protected by cops who know how the game must be played in Chicago.

Chicago Blues features well-written stories, and is a stunning read that kept me hooked until the last page. To quote writer Marcus Sakey: "Chicago is a city of contradictions, a place where tremendous beauty is made possible by the most offensive corruption, and that kind of dynamic tension makes for great stories. Chicago is alive: vibrant, hungry, and filled with energy, by turns wondrous and cruel. For a writer, it's paradise." I'll add that it's paradise for readers too, Mr. Sakey. This excellent book of short stories has my highest recommendation.

Hiding Glory
Laura Chester
Illustrations by Gary A. Lippincott
Willow Creek Press
P.O. Box 147, Minocqua WI 54548
9781595436160 $18.95

This is the first in a series of children's books by Laura Chester. I was impressed by Chester's writing style in previous books and this one is no exception. Hiding Glory features prose for children so imaginative and intelligent that adults will enjoy it too.

Turner Flint is a 12-year old girl who's lonely and not especially brave. Her older brother bullies her mercilessly, and she dreads returning to school in the fall because she doesn't have many friends. She's a shy, sad little girl with red hair and thick glasses. Mostly she stays in her room playing with her horse collection and admiring the morning glories growing in a box outside her bedroom window. Turner's adventure begins the day she meets Glory:

"When I first looked up and saw Glory standing on my bedside table, I was astonished, for he was such a tiny fellow, as blue as the color of the morning glories that opened by my window each morning. I thought if I blinked he might disappear, but he didn't go anywhere. He just stood there pulsing.

When Glory had very strong feelings, his blueness seemed to shine with that heavenly sky-lit, unearthly blue, but in the evening, the color was even more remarkable, because it was as if he were lit up from the inside. He had a long silver mane and silvery tail, the most beautiful horse I had ever laid eyes on."

Glory, the tiny blue horse, is guardian of the morning glories outside Turner's window. That's his assignment from the King and Queen of Joya. Joya is a place of natural perfection and beauty. The water and air are pure and the brightly colored flowers bloom happily. Glory asks for Turner's help in ridding Joya of the beetle-like Kermudgins. Even the happy pansies are starting to wilt from worry and stress. The Kermudgins hate pretty flowers and bright colors. They despise the hum of honeybees, the fragrance of flowers, and happiness so have been systematically ridding Joya of waterfalls and wildflowers. When Glory takes Turner to Joya and introduces her to his friends -- Rose Falcon, Mud-Dog, Ole Beaver, and the lovely Palomino Lilia -- she knows that helping save Joya from the destructive Kermudgins is the right thing to do. Glory and his friends develop a plan to stop the beetles and Turner agrees to help.

The lessons learned by Turner are presented imaginatively within the story. A scared little girl finds courage and learns to overcome sadness, fear, loss, and jealousy. Her first day back at school is not the dreaded time she expected because of her experiences in Joya. The land of Joya and its inhabitants are delightful. Everyone from the jolly Queen and her singing pansies to the grumpy King and his thorny roses will spark a young reader's imagination. The Kermudgins and their leader, Armanget the serpent, are frightening but easily overcome by Turner, Glory, and their friends. Black and white illustrations by Mr. Lippincott add interest to Ms. Chester's story. Readers can see Turner, Glory, the inhabitants of Joya, the Kermudgins, and the serpent. Colorful cover art captures Turner and Glory beautifully.

Hiding Glory would make an ideal gift for young readers. I give my highest recommendation.

West Memphis Witch Hunt Poems Supporting the West Memphis 3 Defense
Misti Rainwater-Lites & Michael W. Johnson
Lulu Press in association with Loserland Productions, Inc.
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780615157993 $12.95

Over a decade ago, three 8-year-old boys were found mutilated and murdered in West Memphis. The horrible circumstances of their deaths sparked public outrage and fear. Three teenagers were arrested, tried, and found guilty. Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly, Jr. were sentenced to life in prison and Damien Echols was sentenced to death despite the fact that evidence found at the scene ruled them out as the perpetrators. These three men -- known as the West Memphis Three -- remain in prison today. The 42 poets featured in this book and untold thousands of supporters worldwide say the arrest and trial was a "modern day witch hunt" with as much basis in fact as the Salem witch trials. They believe Jason, Jessie, and Damien were easy scapegoats for public fear and the trial was an error ridden miscarriage of justice. All proceeds from this book go to the West Memphis Three defense fund.

In keeping with their goal, the poets in this book lament the weak and downtrodden, the unfortunate majority without wealth and privilege behind them who can't afford expensive defense lawyers or garner favors in high places. These poets feel that way about the West Memphis trial for valid reasons. Reportedly, a confession filled with erroneous information was coerced from one of the three without the presence of counsel or parental consent. After 12 hours of non-stop questioning, this confused and exhausted, mentally handicapped young man confessed. He later recanted, but the die had been cast. The "confession" combined with poverty, incompetent counsel, and a rush to judgment produced an outcome that calmed public fears. DNA testing of evidence found at the scene says they are innocent, but so far the three young men have spent over 5,000 days in prison.

This poetry is not for the faint of heart. It's ripe with pain, sorrow, and outrage, not just for the three murdered boys and their grieving families and the West Memphis Three but for all injustice everywhere around the world. A short poem by William Taylor, Jr. succinctly captures book's content. I quote "Another Lie Handed Down Through the Ages Like a Phony Dollar Bill" in its entirety:

Time never
healed much of anything.

Sometimes you look around

and all you see are scars.

To learn more about the case, the arrest and trial, go to If you find yourself agreeing with supporters, you might want to buy this book.

The Road Back Home
Scott Fields
Charles River Press, Inc.
541 Long Lane, Casper WY 82609
0979130441 $15.95

There's nothing like a funeral to spark memories. Shivering in the harsh wintry winds, Izzy Watson reminisces about life when she was a young girl. Her mind goes back to 1955 when she was ten and brother Brody fifteen. That was a pivotal year for the Watsons, the year Brody perfected his 100 mph fastball and their father died saving his family from a fire. She tells her story to a sympathetic friend, mesmerizing readers with a trip back in time to a simpler era.

After her husband's death, Skeeter Watson is lost. She's always been a wife and stay at home mom and now she's faced with supporting a household and two growing children. Brody, especially, mourns his father's death and takes the loss hard. He gives up all hopes and plans involving baseball. Without his dad to coach, advise, and cheer him on, everything seems meaningless. Skeeter moves her family back to her hometown to live with their grandfather and his brother. She finds employment at a local tavern, a job that further complicates her life.

Brody matures dramatically in the summer of 1955. Privately, he grieves his father's death. But he meets new friends, joins them in investigating a local mystery, and finds himself attracted to an older woman rumored to be "easy." Brody refuses to play baseball, until the appearance of his father's journal changes his life. In Brody's mind, his father advises him from beyond the grave in the journal, a thought that comforts him and eases his guilty conscience.

I loved this book. The characters and story capture perfectly that innocent, hopeful time that was the 1950s in America. These are not caricatures, but real people, fully developed characters, honestly portrayed. Everyone from the argumentative Grandpa and uncle to the feisty easy woman to the quietly determined Brody are fine examples of people living in small town America. The narration by Izzy adds depth to the story. The Road Back Home is beautiful in its simplicity, well written, and highly recommended for teens and adults.

The Light Sang as it Left Your Eyes
Eileen R. Tabios
Marsh Hawk Press
P.O. Box 206, East Rockaway NY 11518
9780979241628 $19.95

Eileen R. Tabios is one of the best avant garde and experimental poets alive today. Her poetic explorations -- scumbling, ekphrasis, Hay(na)Ku -- demonstrate a zest for words and meanings as she shapes poems that reflect her world. Black sorrows, bright hopes, harsh injustices, a poisoned environment, new poetic forms, and boundless love share equal time on each skillfully crafted page published. In this latest book, Tabios proves that she has mastered prose equal to her exceptional poetry.

In April, 2006, Eileen Tabios' father died. Filamore B. Tabios, Sr. had fled the Philippines with his family when Ferdinand Marcos came to power. He was an old world father, patriarchal and strong-willed in his dealings with an equally strong-willed daughter. In this book, as she spends time in the hospital at her dying father's bedside, the boundaries and divisions between them soften. The journal she shares in this book is a remarkable psalm to life. Consider this excerpt from the opening poem -- "Sentences" -- to understand the poet's heart:

The same book you read to excavate me is a fiction I sculpted to soften
my marble core, as if -- and I still don't know -- words can save me from

The same poem you are feeling your way through is a thin, blue vein dug
out from beneath my flesh for the color of a sky breaking into scarlet to
set words afire.

Somehow, those dying days in April clarify the poet's vision and understanding. She makes sense out of her sorrow by identifying with Marcos' daughter, Imee. In "What Can a Daughter Say?", Eileen Tabios acts as surrogate for Imee Marcos and both daughters learn what their fathers were, and were not:

The palace of one's childhood
-- for even those who could afford
the bricks to obviate metaphor --
is usually constructed from memory.

Ms. Tabios and her peers have perfected the art of Hay(na)Ku, a poem comprised of six words and three lines. Tabios edits and writes, writes and edits as she struggles through the reality of losing her father to cancer:

The poem cannot
be pure.

never travels unimpeded
by anonymous

Her father's dying does not soften Eileen Tabios' reflections on injustice. "April in Los Angeles" is a 120 verse contemplation on love, grief, horror, exhaustion and regret that zeroes in on the cost cutting cruelty practiced by modern hospitals. Tabios fans will discover that sorrow has neither blurred her outlook on world politics or injustice, nor smothered her passionate love of friends, family, and literary excellence. This autobiography in poetry and prose is typical Tabios -- intensely personal yet international in flavor -- with translations by and collaborations with her peers from other lands. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Black Tea Experiments
Ray Atkinson
Spotlight Publicity
2169 Pond Circle, Lincoln, NE 68512
1589823702 $18.00

Ray Atkinson is a St. Louis native and was raised in Ohio. He holds an MBA from Thomas More College and is now also a lawyer, after graduating in May of 2007 (having gone into Law School at the age of 40). He has invented what he calls the "airplane novel," which is a small book that can be read on a trip from point A to point B.

Logan Bauer is a student at a small university in Crandon, Illinois. He got there via an impoverished childhood; a deceased mother; and a foster home. He is a brilliant math student and part-time astronomer. But when his telescope delivers pictures of a brutal murder by a group of Russian mafiosos his life takes on a bizarre turn as he and his childhood friend, Eddie, tear around the South looking for answers to why his sleepy college town has suddenly erupted in murder:

"Later that evening they packed a few things in Eddie's Ford Escort, then drove through the night. Their route took them through Saint Louis, Memphis, Jackson, and straight into LaPlace thirteen hours including stops for gas and cigarettes. The air was warmer down in the South, and more humid. The air conditioner in the Escort did not work, so somewhere around Jackson they opted to roll down the windows. Once in Louisiana, they drove down I-55, and then they cut over to Airline Highway. From there they headed west straight into downtown LaPlace."

Ray Atkinson has produced a new and unique genre: the exquisite little murder mystery which he calls "airplane novel." His plot moves quickly as in a short story, but he takes his time winding out the real story. He gives his character, Logan Bauer, enough time to grow into a promising young man suddenly beset by problems that eventually lead him to re-evaluate his life and make drastic changes.

THE BLACK TEA EXPERIMENTS is a world-wise and yet small town mystery that is sensitive and tragic. It's not really a whodunit, but there is definite mystery and secrets that keep the reader glued to the story. It is indeed an "airplane mystery," and hopefully there will be more to come from this ingenious author. Well done!

Tahoe Silence
Todd Borg
Thriller Press
PO Box 551110, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96155
9781931296151 $16.95

Todd Borg is the author of four previous mysteries with Owen McKenna (and his Great Dane, Spot). TAHOE DEATHFALL; TAHOE BLOWUP; TAHOE ICE GRAVE; and TAHOE KILLSHOT have garnered several awards and universal praise from the major review organizations in the United States, as well as the Library Journal. Todd Borg and his wife moved from Minnesota to Lake Tahoe after several vacations, where Todd writes his Owen McKenna/Spot mysteries and his wife is an artist. They think Lake Tahoe is sheer heaven.

When a mute, autistic 17-year old artist named Silence Ramirez is kidnaped with her popular brother, Charlie, who has always been her link to the outside world, the entire community of Lake Tahoe is on alert. Her mother, Marlette, enlists the help of Owen and Spot to find Silence, who begins sending artwork to communicate where she is being held. Even Owen's girlfriend, entomologist Street Casey, is called upon to examine Charlie's corpse for telltale signs of the murder. After interviewing almost everyone who ever came into contact with Silence, the top suspects are a motorcycle gang, who call upon Owen to proclaim their innocence. But the Aztec sign left on Charlie's forehead push them to the top of the list of suspects:

"Gomez reached out and handed me a card. It had a phone number printed on it. Nothing more. 'That is my private cell number. When you need help, reinforcements, men for a stake-out or even, possibly, some intimidation services, give me a call. There are no strings attached. My men wish to serve. I wish to serve.'

'And you want me to put in a good word about you to the authorities.'"

To the fan, Owen McKenna and his dog, Spot, and girlfriend, Street, are like good friends. They are high achievers who have their wounds. They do what they do for all the right reasons, and when they flail, the reader flails along with them. Borg's ability to draw the reader in to his stories is amazing. His plots are so seamless that the reader can't put the book down once engaged. His writing is clear and concise, and his characters are poignant and skillfully conceived. TAHOE SILENCE is particularly engaging with his study of autistic children. His experts give the reader a sliver of a view into what it must be like to be autistic, and it is heartbreaking. McKenna's depiction of "bad" bikers is also awesome. Another great read!!

Bleeding Hearts
Lindy Cameron
Bywater Books, Inc.
PO Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-3671
9781932859164 $13.95

Lindy Cameron is a freelance book editor and avid golfer who lives outside of Melbourne, Australia on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula on the southern tip. Lindy writes the newsletter entitled STILETTO for the Sisters in Crime Australia. BLEEDING HEARTS is the follow-up to her first novel, BLOOD GUILT.

TV personality Rebecca Jones hires Kit O'Malley to investigate threats made to her in the way of nasty little packages that are being delivered. Kit is just at the beginning of her relationship with the beautiful and sexy lawyer, Alex Casenove, who has been keeping her distance. It turns out that local politicians have also been receiving threats, and no one knows who may be next. As Kit picks her way through the maze of deception, she discovers an underworld of political sleaze that culminates in abduction; sexual behavior by some high ranking officials that is sordid and evil; and finally, murder:

"Kit rested her chin in her hands and stared at the note. Finally, when even Alex or Hector were about to cut into her deliberation, she said, 'What I'd like to know is, where have all the clever psychopaths gone? In fiction, you know, they're ALWAYS geniuses, with the kind of astonishing intellect that meant they were destined to be great and good, or mad and bad. Nothing in between, no half-measures. They're either a brain surgeon or they EAT brains.'"

BLEEDING HEARTS is a smashing follow-up to BLOOD GUILT. Lindy Cameron weaves plots that are to die for in the world of murder mystery writers. Her books are like onions that the reader has to peel back, layer-by-layer, to find the heart of the mystery. Cameron continues with her hilarious and touching cast of characters, including her sprite of a mother, who can be clueless or trendy; her lady love, Alex Casenove, who is at times elusive but comes through for Kit; her ex-partner on the force Jon Marek; and many others.

The Kit O'Malley mysteries introduce people who are great mates; help each other through thick and thin; and are there for Kit as she takes on an incredible amount of deceit. It's a wonderful read that can't be put down once started. Hooray for Kit!

Murder in the Third Person
Betty Gordon
L & L Dreamspell
PO Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603180085 $16.95

Betty Gordon is a native Texan who married and raised a family in the Houston area. She worked as a paralegal while pursuing a degree and spent time in law school. After a year and a half, she decided to turn to the arts and graduated with a degree in professional writing and a masters in Literature and Visual Arts. She also has a background in dancing and is a sculptor. She has published non-fiction and poetry.

David Ferrell is a stellar law student with looks, charisma, and promise. He is engaged and the future looks bright, until an acquaintance is found dead in her apartment. David is carrying on an affair with another law student, Karen Matthews, and her roommate, Vicki Sanders, is highly suspicious of him, based on the events leading up to the murder. Her real love is investigative work, but a manipulative father is pushing her through law school. Paul Barlow, the homicide detective, is simply trying to solve a string of rapes and has seemingly come to a dead end. Ferrell has spent time in Vietnam, which has a huge bearing on the case. In the meantime, Vicki is trying like crazy to get her friend Karen to see the light:

"'That's what I want to talk to you about, Karen, you are getting on with your life. You're not a dumb woman, but sometimes when we're too close to a situation, we don't see what's going on like not seeing the forest for the trees thing, you know? Anyway, we've talked about you and David a million times, but this time I'd like to keep the floor for awhile before you interrupt me with how great he is, how good he is for you, and so on.'"

Betty Gordon no doubt writes as a mother and an observer of students in college and law school. Her characters are wonderful examples of "people-in-training" and the mistakes that they make. She cleverly tucks some truisms into her writing by showing rather than telling. Her plot is believable; tragic; and engrossing to the reader. Her writing style is crisp and fresh, and any mystery lover will have a hard time putting her book down. MURDER IN THE THIRD PERSON is a cozy with lots of twists and turns that can be enjoyed by any reader of almost any age. It's lessons are basic and instinctual and are good reminders of self-esteem issues.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The InnKeeper Tales
John L. Herman Jr.
HSB Press
11615 Greenspring Avenue, Lutherville, MD 21093
978099020407 $19.95

In my world of reviewing, I find some authors that just have that certain touch in their words that grabs hold of you and won't let go. Our author John Herman posses such and I am glad that I have had a chance to taste of his words.

In his book, "The InnKeeper Tales," we become one of the guests at Abacrombie Bed and Breakfast. Stranded by a last minute winter snow, we settle in and begin to enjoy good food, good drink, and hours of storytelling from our fellow travelers. Our peers of isolation at first maybe reluctant to open up, but after a while it is as if their hearts become bare with perhaps deep seeded long lost emotions of their life coming forth, almost relieved to have a chance to share their heart; and with each story we hunger for more.

Listening to these stories we sit in awe, share some laughter and joy, shake our heads in understanding of certain situations and happenings, wonder if others are true, and often feel the tear of perhaps a long lost hurt that for a brief moment was allowed to surface. The stories of each traveler are both entertaining and enlightening in so many ways. Life issues and moral values are discussed as we share victories and defeats and come away perhaps a little wiser by listening to our fellow man.

However, what our author says at the end of the book was a total surprise and one I am not going to reveal; truly the icing on the cake, if you will. If you like storytelling at its best, that promises to be truth told, get this book and settle back for an enjoyable reading and life experience. Excellent!

The Permission Seeker's Guide Through the Legal Jungle
Joy R. Butler
Sashay communications
2200 Wilson Boulevard #102-329, Arlington, VA 22201
9780967294018 $19.95

I want to start off this review by saying that you do not have to be a Film Producer, Famed Musician, Well-Known Author, or someone in the limelight, to find this book invaluable. I'm a 'nobody' to just about everybody in this world; yet I have written over 3,000 songs, fifty children's books, and a dozen other titles and had no idea what my rights were concerning my works, until now.

In this outstanding book by author Joy R. Butler I had my eyes opened in many areas concerning my creative achievements and how to protect them. I also learned what I could freely use of other's and what I better think twice about. There are so many areas and so much information within the pages of this work that I could not even begin to open it up for you. However, I can tell you that this book should be on your bookshelf because everyone of us at one time or another in our lives will use a slogan or popular picture, or song, for one thing or another, be it a school event, or a church event or a picture from a Christmas card, and one never knows when it could open a whole carload of legal trouble for us.

I believe the old saying, "Forearmed is Forewarned," really gives you the upper-hand in life; and this work will give you just that. Ms. Butler has done an exceptional job of research and lays the information out in a clear, understanding manner that is easy to read and follow. This is a great book and I believe once you read it, you will be glad you did. Thank you Ms. Butler for helping me understand more about my rights and the rights of others. Recommended.

Windows Into The Heart of God
Preston Parrish
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402
9780736919548 $12.99

I have been in the ministry for over twenty-five years, and have been reviewing books for almost a decade. Lately I have been privileged to read several books that I sincerely know the Lord's seal is upon . I would like to include "Windows into the Heart of God," in this list as one I feel God has surely orchestrated . Our author, Preston Parrish, takes us on a journey along a path that leads us to a fuller understanding of the One we love, Jesus.

Each section of the thirty -one begins with a story. It might be a personal happening from the life of our author, or a story of someone he knows, or perhaps a happening that the world will never forget; however always one we soon know will help us have a better understanding of God's ways, and always a story that holds your attention. Following we are taken into the Word and the world of our Lord as the author gently intertwines the happening or event we have just read, with a situation from long ago in God's Word. Without out even realizing it, we are shown how indeed there is nothing new under the sun, in circumstances or life, and surely nothing that God has not seen, nor can not handle. It is very comforting. At the end of each section Mr. Parrish asks some thought provoking questions concerning the material just read, to perhaps awaken our inward man, and definitely bring to light hidden areas that we need healing in or need to come to terms with. I appreciated the sharing of his own deep hurts in life and his openness with the reader of his own battles. I am sure it will be a great blessing to all, and minister to many hurting souls.

Told with sincerity of heart and written in a warm flowing manner; this book is like a soothing drink of cool, clean water upon a thirsty soul. In his book, knowledge is reinforced that there indeed One that has tasted our pain, shed our tears and is ever filled with compassion and understanding of our life's challenges, and is there to bring us through to tomorrow. We do not have all the answers; however you walk away from this book assured that God does. Very highly recommended! A source of strength for every believer and the seeking soul.

Accidental Enlightenment
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
9781933538631 $16.95

What a ride! Those are the words that would best explain this read by author Stephen Banick. Here is a man who devoted a year of his life to travel the world and in doing so found his destiny, and changed his future.

Accidental Enlightenment is not your ordinary run of the mill chit chat about travel. In this work our author does indeed give you some tips on traveling, some interesting places to visit and tells many of his adventures, but he goes further. He shares with you how the places and people he went to and met touched the very core of his soul and changed his life. He embraced with openness and acceptance the many ways of the people he encountered; from their beliefs, right down to the food they ate. His words and his interaction with everyday people from different countries help to bridge the gap and the mysteries that shroud our lives in that area.

His writing is honest and bold, sharing whole-heartening with you the world as he tasted of it. A very interesting read that draws you right into the heart of the adventure of travel and the world we live in.

Do Not Boast About Tomorrow
Teresa Tallent
Brigeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
9781933538655 $14.95

Rachael Newberry is a loving wife of a pastor, and mother whose entire world is about to be turned upside down by evil. Rachael's day began like so many others, but she sensed something wasn't quite right and her feelings were real. If she had only listened to the inward nudging inside of her things may have been different.

Soon she finds herself struggling against a vicious attacker, who raped her and left her for dead, but by the grace of God she awakens just in time to rush to the aid of her terrified children who were faced with the same terror as Rachael. Truly with the help of God she overcomes her attacker and begins a journey towards forgiveness.

I believe the character in this story faced every woman's fear, not just for herself but for her children as well. As I read this book the emotions of rage coursed through me towards this evil that had invaded this woman's life. I read with amazement the decisions that she made concerning the attacker that she now had securely imprisoned in her basement and was a bit unnerved at her actions.

As a Christian I definitely believe in forgiveness; however the course that Rachel took in this book left me extremely unsettled in more ways than one.

As far as the writing ability of Ms. Tallent I was impressed. She definitely has a heart for writing and a way with her words that kept me reading, even though the storyline itself kept me uncomfortable. Perhaps I have not reached the place in my Christian walk to be able to identify with what the character in this book did concerning her attacker, perhaps she is indeed the one who has truly learned what forgiveness is.

The Holmes and Watson Mysterious Events and Objects Consortium: The Case of the Witch's Talisman
Elmore Hammes
Kanapolis Fog Publishing Emporium
713 Rustin Rd, Anderson, Indiana 46013
0615139493 $14.95

In this absolutely delightful read we meet two young friends who will immediately capture your heart. Kevin, who describes himself as a Geek, and his best friend Ginny. This adventurous twosome are the only members of The Holmes and Watson Mysterious Events and Objects Consortium club. The pair love to collect things of interest that they mainly find in Sharper's Woods, like that strange metal object which seemed to have no purpose, or does it? When animals on their block appear to die and their bodies mysteriously disappear, the two plunge headlong into an investigation . However, they never realized the danger they are in, nor the evil presence of a witch that is slowly closing in on them, and who will stop at nothing until she receives what she came for. Scary!

I really liked this book; it has all the elements of a great mystery read and more. The characters are well developed, the story engaging, the locals very descriptive, and the ending superb. The author draws you immediately into the life's of Kevin and Ginny, from their home life to their outside life; also giving you privy to their personal thought life, this made them personal, touchable and real. I believe Mr. Hammes did a great job allowing Kevin and Ginny freedom to solve the mystery alone, yet still added the authority figure of an adult, which to me will show children that adults have wisdom that can help them in situations.

I have found in other books in this genre that some authors totally negate any adult intervention, which to me can leave children uneasy and thinking they have to solve on their own problems they may entail, when they really might need some adult intervention or experience. In this work Mr. Hammes allowed his characters to use the wisdom given to them by an adult and their own knowledge and courage to overcome the foe and save the day. Great mix! Great read! Recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Late Great USA
Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.
WND Books
1462 W. 208th St., Suite 201, Torrance, CA 90501
9780979045141, $25.95

Written by the co-author of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry", The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada is a strident denouncement of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, to the extent of calling it a "shadow government". Ultimately, The Late Great USA decries the SPP and President Bush's plan for amnesty among illegal immigrants, alleging that they share the ultimate goal of ending America as we know it, to be replaced by a European Union-like coup d'etat forced on American citizens without their knowledge or consent. From accusing the state of Texas of seizing millions of acres of private land so that foreign investors can create a NAFTA "superhighway", to China's proxies in Mexico with the power to undercut America economically, to efforts among globalist business leaders and academics to immerse the United States into a regional government, and much more. Though harsh and strident in its take on a hot-button issue, The Late Great USA embodies genuine concerns that need to be addressed immediately pertaining to the integrity of a government meant to be of, by, and for its own people.

The Temporal Cartographer
Andrew Dunham
Lulu Press
9781430308515, $21.50

The debut novel of London resident and Tokyo Comedy Store veteran Andrew Dunham, The Temporal Cartographer is a science fiction novel about ordinary office worker Farley Snug whose world crosses the border to extraordinary when he discovers a faded invitation to his own birthday party, addressed to himself, in a box of old records he bought. Caught up in his own curiosity, he travels to the mystical Ferncombe Manor, and discovers the Time Travellers' Social Club, residing as it does in the quiet of 1973. Increasingly bizarre events surround him as he gradually uncovers the true form of time itself, in this tongue-in-cheek, mind-bendingly irreverent adventure.

Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, and Stimulants
Dr. David W. Tanton, Ph.D.
Sharing Heights Publishing
PO Box 2138, Jasper, OR 97438
9780977270323, $24.95

Holistic Nutrition expert Dr. David W. Tanton presents Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, and Stimulants: Dangerous Drugs on Trial, a sharp-tongued indictment of traditional medicine's overdependence on drugs. Tanton firmly believes that avoiding prescription and over-the-counter drugs is crucial to delaying the aging process and maintaining health, and encourages drug-free solutions to physical and mental problems. Chapters attack the alleged overuse of Prozac, Ritalin, Wellbutrin, and many other big-money drugs pushed by pharmaceutical companies. Though aggressively one-sided in its refusal to acknowledge the possibility that some drugs might be the right choice for some people, Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, and Stimulants is still valuable for its insight into the negatives of relying upon drugs for treatment, especially in young children.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
Sarah Miller
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416925422 $16.99

Annie Sullivan was little more than a half-blind orphan with a fiery tongue when she arrived at Ivy Green in 1887. Desperate for work, she'd taken on a seemingly impossible job -- teaching a child who was deaf, blind, and as ferocious as any wild animal. But Helen Keller needed more than a teacher. She needed someone daring enough to work a miracle. And if anyone was a match for Helen, it was the girl they used to call Miss Spitfire. For Annie, reaching Helen's mind meant losing teeth as raging fists flew. It meant standing up when everyone else had given up. It meant shedding tears at the frustrations and at the triumphs. By telling this inspiring story from Annie Sullivan's point of view, Sarah Miller's debut novel brings an amazing figure to sharp new life. Annie's past, her brazen determination, and her connection to the girl who would call her Teacher have never been clearer.

War, Women and the News
Catherine Gourley
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780689877520 $21.99

When war broke out in Europe in 1939, American women had no way of knowing how much the next six years would change their lives. The beginning of World War II not only meant hard work and sacrifice for women in the United States -- it also meant opportunity. In the 1920s and 1930s, women journalists were frequently labeled as "sob sisters" or "newshens," and their news stories usually appeared on the women's society page, deep inside the newspaper. But when war exploded around the world, these female reporters wanted more than just front-page assignments. They wanted to be where the action was, and fought for the right to report from the front lines. From Margaret Bourke-White, who covered the battles in Russia; to Lee Miller, who photographed the wounded in field hospitals in France; to Shelley Mydans, who was a prisoner of war in the Philippines; to Marguerite Higgins, who reported at the liberation of Dachau, Catherine Gourley tells the personal stories of some of the female legends of journalism in this important and timely book. Filled with stirring period photographs and news clippings, War, Women, and the News explores the conflicts and challenges these women faced before, during, and after World War II. Their images and bylines would crack open a door for future generations of aspiring female journalists. Compelling non-fiction deserving of award recognition, especially from those award-groups which, for some strange reason, seem to believe there are only two other worthy non-fiction authors in the children's field.

Papi's Gifr
Karen Stanton, illustrated by Rene King Moreno
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
9781590784228 $16.95

Graciela wishes Papi could come home to celebrate her seventh birthday, but her father works on a farm in California, while Graciela lives in a country south of the United States. Though he can't be with her, Papi has promised to send her a gift. She will know it's a special birthday present because it will be tied in red string and on the front of the package will be her name: Graciela Maria Reyes Rivera. Each night, Graciela dreams of her present. Each day, she checks the mail. Will Graciela's gift arrive in time for her birthday? Karen Stanton's touching story of a child waiting for a present and longing for the day when her father comes home is beautifully illustrated by Rene King Moreno.

Jeanette Winterson
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
1582349193 $16.95

Something frightening is happening with time. One moment, a time tornado rages through the streets of London, and those caught up in its path vanish without a trace. The next moment a woolly mammoth is seen lumbering along the banks of the River Thames. At the center of these bizarre time warps is a house called Tanglewreck, which is home to eleven-year-old Silver, her bony and bad-tempered aunt, Mrs Rokabye, and a mysterious clock known as the Timekeeper. Silver doesn't understand exactly what the Timekeeper does, but when two sinister figures come looking for it, she knows instinctively that she must guard it with her life. The first novel for young adults by Jeanette Winterson, the Whitbread Prize winning author of books for adults, including "Lighthousekeeping" and "Written on the Body."

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!
Laura Amy Schlitz, Robert Byrd
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
9780763615789 $19.99

Readers are cordially invited to step back in time to an English village in 1255, where life plays out in dramatic vignettes illuminating twenty-two unforgettable characters. Maidens, monks, and millers' sons in these pages, readers will meet them all. There's Hugo, the lord's nephew, forced to prove his manhood by hunting a wild boar; sharp-tongued Nelly, who supports her family by selling live eels; and the peasant's daughter, Mogg, who gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. There's also mud-slinging Barbary (and her noble victim); Jack, the compassionate half-wit; Alice, the singing shepherdess; and many more. With a deep appreciation for the period and a grand affection for both characters and audience, Laura Amy Schlitz creates twenty-two riveting portraits and linguistic gems equally suited to silent reading or performance. Illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings by Robert Byrd inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany this witty, historically accurate, and utterly human collection forms an exquisite bridge to the people and places of medieval England.

The Silver Donkey
Sonya Hartlett
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
9780763631468 $15.99

One morning in France during World War I, two young sisters stumble upon an astonishing find in the woods: a soldier who has walked away from battle longing to see his ailing younger brother. As the girls care for the soldier, he repays them by telling four tales about a humble donkey from the legend of Bethlehem to a myth of India, from a story of rescue in war to a tale of family close to the soldier's heart. This reissue of the Book Sense Children's Pick and Junior Library Guild Selection is a deeply moving and surprisingly gentle story that deep moves its readers.

Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest
John Lechner
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
9780763630546 $15.99

Meet Sticky Burr, his unshakable friends, and his prickly foes! A beguiling graphic storybook guaranteed to grab young readers. Welcome to Burrwood Forest, where a village of seed pods leads a busy life gathering food, building stick houses, and having extraordinary adventures. There are good friends like Sticky Burr and Mossy Burr, who stick together, and bad seeds like Scurvy Burr, who likes to irritate them every chance he gets. Watch out for wild dogs and maze trees, loyal insects and escapes on the fly in a gently quirky, delightfully detailed graphic storybook that middle-graders and ambitious younger readers are bound to get stuck on. I tested this book on a class of third graders and nearly all the students came back for repeat readings again and again and again.

Tracks of a Panda
Nick Dowson, Yu Rong
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
9780763631468 $16.99

High on a mist-wrapped mountain in China, a mother panda holds her newborn cub gently in her giant paw. While he grow opening his eyes and taking his first wobbly steps she protects him and keeps him close. But as their bamboo patch begins to die, she knows she must take him on a dangerous journey in search of fresh bamboo and a new home. Yu Rong's delicate brushstrokes are a poetic accompaniment to Nick Dowson's tender picture-book story of love and survival.

Pie Graphs
Vijaya Khisty Bodach
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
9781429600422 $17.95 (school/library), 32 pages,

This below-level reader series teaches the essential skills of graphing with bright photos, fun text, and lots of interesting data to order and compare. Each book in the very basic series describes how to create and interpret a different kind of graph: bar graphs, pictographs, tally charts and pie graphs. The final spread in each book encourages readers to graph on their own. Early math is rarely this fun and unintimidating. For PreK-2 grades.

The Titanic
Bob Temple
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
9781429601634 $20.95 (school/library), 112 pages,

"The Titanic" is one of six new titles in the "You Chose Books" series from educational publisher Capstone Press. Designed to help below-level readers access text, they feature carefully controlled vocabulary, short and direct sentence structure, precise photo-text matches to aid comprehension, clear chapter headings, and straightforward information. Additionally, these books draw reader interest by allowing readers to choose the path they take. Readers will explore multiple perspectives and learn for themselves the value of seeing history from several points of view. Other titles are "The Battle of Bunker Hill," "The California Gold Rush," "Irish Immigrants in America," "The Golden Age of Pirates" and "The Underground Railroad."

Understanding Global Warming
Agnieszka Biskup
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
$18.95 (school/library)

"Understanding Global Warming" offers another sample of Capstone Press below-level reader series. The "Graphic Library" science series uses a high-interest comic format to attract readers and they've never had a science teacher like Max Axiom: a super-cool, super-scientist. Using powers he acquired in a freak accident, Max demonstrates and explains science in ways nev3r before seen in the classroom. Whether shrinking down to the size of an ant or riding on a sound wave, Max can do whatever it takes to make science super cool and accessible. Other series titles include books on the subjects of magnetism, volcanoes and light.

Igraine the Brave
Cornelia Funke
Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439903790 $16.99

Princess Igraine dreams of becoming a famous knight just like her great grandfather, but the truth is, life at the family castle is rather boring. Until the nephew of the baroness-next-door shows up. He's got a dastardly plan to capture the castle and claim as his own the wonderful singing spell books that belong to Igraine's magician parents. To make matters worse, at the very moment of the siege, her mom and dad botch a spell, turning themselves into pigs! Aided by a Gentle Giant and a Sorrowful Knight, it's up to Igraine to be brave and save the day -- and the books!

May I Pet Your Dog?
Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Jan Ormerod
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
9780618510344 $9.95

Children encounter dogs wherever they go: in the park, on the sidewalk, at their friends' homes. Sometimes its love at first sight, on both sides-but not always. The right way for a child to approach a dog to ensure that the first connection is a complete success begins with this question to the owner: "May I pet your dog?" Using Harry the dachshund as a gentle guide, Stephanie Calmenson addresses this valuable yet overlooked topic with care and precision, and Jan Ormerods warm illustrations portray a wide variety of breeds and personalities and depict situations that are realistic but never scary. Unique and straightforward, this is the essential guide to bringing children and dogs together-for kids and parents alike.

A Field Guide to High School
Marissa Walsh
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 978-0385734103 $15.95

New York Author Marissa Walsh truly knows how difficult being a high school freshman can be. Her novel "A Field Guide to High School," offers a humorous look at the ins and outs, dos and don'ts of the fictional Plumstead High. As older sister Claire heads off to college, she creates and leaves behind a field guide to high school life for younger sister, Andie, an incoming freshman. Full of advice, rules, and suggestions that all high school students would love to have (example: "Don't dress up too much. This is high school, not second grade. In high school, everyone notices if you show up with a brand-new outfit and new shoes. It's best not to come on too strong."), Walsh's fictional story is sure to serve as a bible for incoming freshman across the board, and proves to be a fun and entertaining read for all teenagers. Booklist recently called the book's field guide format a "clever concept" that is "entertainingly carried out." The book ends with an "Extra Credit" section that includes lists of great books, movies, television shows, and music that all teenagers could gain from. In this hilarious and honest look at one girl's heroic attempt to conquer high school, readers will get all the benefit of Claire's wisdom about making those four years more than bearable -- and absolutely memorable. Fortunately, high school happens only once in a lifetime.

Lemonade Mouth
Mark Peter Hughes
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385733922 $15.99

The members of the legendary band Lemonade Mouth have been called all of these things. But until now, nobody's known the inside story of how this powerhouse band came to be. How five outcasts in Opoquonsett High School's freshman class found each other, found the music, and went on to change both rock and roll and high school as we know it. Wen, Stella, Charlie, Olivia, and Mo take us back to that fateful detention where a dentist's jingle, a teacher's coughing fit, and a beat-up ukelele gave birth to Rhode Island's most influential band. Told in each of their five voices and compiled by Opoquonsett's "scene queen," freshman Naomi Fishmeier, this anthology is their definitive history. For grades six and up.

The Scary States of America
Michael Teitelbaum
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385733311 $7.99

This kid-friendly horror tour of all fifty states will have readers hooked on aliens, ghosts and monsters they will never think of the country the same way. In this creatively creepy collection of short stories, Michael Teitelbaum assumes the persona of Jason specter, a 12-year-old with a passion for the paranormal. Each chapter opens with a true state fact followed by a chilling and outlandish fictional story. Adults can clearly understand that this charade is a just a method of stepping up the fear factor, kids, however, are more likely to accept the book's "true story" premise as fact, rather than the spooky fiction it is. Boo to that, but hooray for the high-interest, campfire-story worthy tales.

Cave of the Dark Wind
Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Disney / Hyperion
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
9780786837908 $9.99

In this "Neverland Book" series title, Peter is away from the island when James and the other Lost Boys discover a mysterious cave. Shining Pearl and her sister Little Scallop warn the boys that the cave is a dangerous place, inhabited by a creature known as the Goat Taker -- a beast so scary that even the Mollusk tribe fears it. But the boys can't resist trying to discover the cave's secrets. When the first of those secrets turns out to be a tantalizing hint of a famous haunted treasure, Captain Hook and his band of cutthroat pirates quickly join the hunt. Before long the children are fleeing for their lives in a dark and deadly underground labyrinth ... and their only hope of escape is to solve the mystery of the cave of the dark wind.

Eyewitness China
Eyewitness Great Scientists
Eyewitness Mesopotamia
Eyewitness Oil
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
97800756629762 (China)
9780756629748 (Great Scientists)
9780756629724 (Mesopotamia)
9780756629700 (Oil) $15.99

The critically-acclaimed Eyewitness series of high-design, graphically enhanced non fiction books for kids continues to expand with new subjects, content and formats each season. The four latest tiles which include clip-art CD and wall charts are: "Eyewitness China" covers the people, places and cultures, home to over one billion people and a rich, yet rapidly changing heritage, predicted to become the superpower of the 21st century. It is also the first in a new range of Eyewitness titles that will explore the world's major countries. "Eyewitness Great Scientists" covers Aristotle and the genius of Islam, to Einstein and beyond, to create a museum on the page, illustrating each scientist's life, the historic artifacts associated with his/her key discoveries, and their lasting impact today. "Eyewitness Mesopotamia" discusses how cradle of civilization was the birthplace of writing, farming and many other inventions and discoveries. From 3500 BC, the first great cities, states and empires arose, home to the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations. Spectacular monuments and artifacts combine to take readers through key sites, events, rulers, everyday life and customs, and the work of archaeologists in uncovering and interpreting a slice of ancient history that still has resonance today. And "Eyewitness Oil" presents a hugely topical subject in an uniquely visual and thought-provoking way, utilizing photos, artifacts, diagrams and maps on every page to explore the history, science and technology of oil exploration, extraction and uses, its socio-political and environmental impact, and the search for alternative sources of energy. In addition, several backlist titles have been reformatted with clip-art CDs and wall charts, including Eyewitness books about Ancient Greece, insects, pirates, knights, weather and the two World Wars.

Being Teddy Roosevelt
Claudia Mills, illustrated by R.W. Alley
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
9780374306575 $16

Riley O'Rourke is writing his report on President Teddy Roosevelt in preparation for the fourth-grade biography tea, but he has a far more important goal: to get a saxophone so he can take the instrumental music class. His mother can't afford to rent him a sax, and he's sure he'll never save up enough money to buy one. But as Riley learns more about Roosevelt's "bully" spirit, he realizes that there just might be a way to solve his problem after all. This sparkling chapter book story about the influence of important historical figures is enhanced by tender, insightful illustrations.

Kate Banks, Georg Hallensleben
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
9780374399672 $16

Against the rhythmic background of turning seasons, a little fox learns that there is a time for everything. The rain, the clouds, the days all come and go as the little fox, guided by his wise and loving parents, learns to hunt on his own and bury his food, cover his trail and run like the wind. Now he is ready to go out on his own. As depicted by an award-winning pair, the gentle story of the rearing of a baby fox, together with sensuous illustrations, takes readers on a journey deep into the woods to tell a tale that all will recognize that of growing up and moving out. A beautiful little book.

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood
Ibtisam Barakat
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
9780374357337 $16

In this groundbreaking memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage, she stitches together memories of her childhood: fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of
life as a Palestinian refugee; her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. This is the beginning of her passionate connection to words, and as language becomes her refuge, allowing her to piece together the fragments of her world, it becomes her true home. Transcending the particulars of politics, this illuminating and timely book provides a telling glimpse into a little-known culture that has become an increasingly important part of the puzzle of world peace.

The Poison Apples
Lily Archer
Feiwel & Friends / Square Fish
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312367626 $16.95

The Poison Apples is a fresh take on the age-old struggle between stepdaughters and stepmothers (i.e.: Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel), but set in modern times. Alice, Reena, and Molly have all been sent to boarding school for the first time, shortly following the addition to their families of three incredibly evil stepmothers. At their new school, they find each other and plot their revenge, forming lifelong friendships in the process. Twenty-three-year-old debut novelist Lily Archer handles the contemporary issues faced by families with delightfully wicked humor and a heartfelt exploration of love, friendship, forgiveness, and the true meaning of "family." Middle grade and teenage girls from around the country will laugh at and identify with the themes of this novel and the adventures of three unique main characters.

Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir
Martin Lemelman
Free Press / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416552215 $12

In 1989 Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in 1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel's Daughter, now in paperback and selected as one of the best books of 2006 by the Austin Chronicle, is Lemelman's loving transcription of his mother's harrowing testimony, bringing her narrative to life with his own powerful black-and-white drawings, interspersed with reproductions of actual photographs, documents and other relics from that era. The result is a wholly original, authentic and moving account of hope and survival in a time of despair. Gusta's story opens with a portrait of shtetl life, filled with homey images that evoke the richness of food and flowers, of family and friends and of Jewish tradition. Soon, however, Gusta's girlhood is cut short as her family experiences Hitler's rise, rumors of war, invasion, occupation, round-ups and pogroms, forcing Gusta into flight and hiding. "Mendel's Daughter" is Martin Lemelman's solemn and stirring testament to his mother's bravery and a celebration of her perseverance. The devastatingly simple power of a mother's words and a son's illustrations combine to create a work that is both intensely personal and universally resonant. Mendel's Daughter combines an unforgettable true story with elegant, haunting illustrations to shed new light on one of history's darkest periods.

Honey Badgers
Jamison Odone
Front Street
20 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
9781932425512 $16.95

"Honey Baders" is the picture book story of a boy brought up by mammals that are considered, pound for pound, the most fearless animals in the world. So, of course, the boy has nothing to fear as he eats (only flowers) and drinks (from a stream) and sleeps (in a den) and plays (with kites made of ferns). Jamison Odone has created a sprightly nonsense tale and filled it with radiant, exotic imagery that demands and rewards close attention.

Magic Beach
Crocket Johnson
Front Street
20 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
1932425276 $18.95

"Magic Beach," the first new book in 40 years from the creator of "Harold and the Purple Crayon," is the story of a boy and a girl who discover the power of words on an enchanted beach. Published in this deluxe edition and in celebration of the centennial of Crockett Johnson's birth, "Magic Beach" includes an appreciation by Maurice Sendak. To whom Crockett Johnson was a mentor and friend, and an afterword by Philip Nel, who found the original drawings in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution.

Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini
Sid Fleischman
Greenwillow Books / Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
9780060850944 $18.99

Who was this man who could walk through brick walls and, with a snap of his fingers, vanish elephants? In these pages you will meet the astonishing Houdini magician, ghost chaser, daredevil, pioneer aviator, and king of escape artists. No jail cell or straitjacket could hold him! He shucked off handcuffs as easily as gloves. In this fresh, witty biography of the most famous bamboozler since Merlin, Sid Fleischman, a former professional magician, enriches his warm homage with insider information and unmaskings. Did Houdini really pick the jailhouse lock to let a fellow circus performer escape? Were his secrets really buried with him? Was he a bum magician, as some rivals claimed? How did he manage to be born in two cities, in two countries, on two continents at the same instant? Here are the stories of how a knockabout kid named Ehrich Weiss, the son of an impoverished rabbi, presto-changoed himself into the legendary Harry Houdini. Here, too, are rare photographs never before seen by the general reader!

Play, Mozart, Play
Peter Sis
Greenwillow Books / Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
9780061121814 $16.99

"Listen. A little boy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is playing the piano. Look. He is playing backward! He is playing blindfolded! Imagine. What must his life be like? Play, Mozart, play!" Acclaimed artist Peter Sis introduces very young children to the child genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in this picture book tribute to the beauty of listening, looking, imagining, and -- most of all -- playing! Lovely.

The Aurora County All-Stars
Deborah Wiles
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101, 15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780152060688 $16

Twelve-year-old House Jackson--star pitcher and team captain of the Aurora County All-Stars--has been sidelined for a whole sorry year with a broken elbow. He's finally ready to play, but wouldn't you know that the team's only game of the year has been scheduled for the exact same time as the town's 200th-anniversary pageant. Now House must face the pageant's director, full-of-herself Frances Shotz (his nemesis and perpetrator of the elbow break), and get his team out of this mess. There's also the matter of a mysterious old recluse who has died and left House a wheezy old dog named Eudora Welty--and a puzzling book of poetry by someone named Walt Whitman. Through the long, hot month of June, House makes surprising and valuable discoveries about family, friendship, poetry, and baseball. For ages 10 and up.

Pirates Don't Change Diapers
Melinda Long, David Shannon
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780152053536 $16

When the pirate crew turns up at Jeremy Jacob's house and accidentally wakes his baby sister, that wee scallywag howls louder than a storm on the high seas. Sure, there's buried treasure to be found, but nobody's digging up anything until Bonney Anne quits her caterwauling. So, quicker than you can say "scurvy dog," Braid Beard and his swashbuckling pirates become . . . babysitters? Blimey! This hilarious companion to How I Became a Pirate reveals that minding the nursery can be even more terrifying than walking the plank--especially if you're a pirate.

Adam Rex
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101, 15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780152058173 $16

A child, a visit to the zoo, animals -- sounds like good, simple all-American fun. But there's something different about this zoo. These animals want things. Unusual things. What will they do with them? Laughs, jokes, and surprises abound in this graphic picture book about a feisty, all-too-helpful little girl and her role in aiding and abetting zoo-animal shenanigans. In this post-"Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich" picture book, Adam Rex once again reveals the hilarious hidden life of creatures we thought we knew well.

Chew On This
Eric Schlosser & Charles Wilson
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618593941 $8.95

In the New York Times bestseller "Chew on This," Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson unwrap the fast-food industry to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at a business that both feeds and feeds off the young. Find out what really goes on at your favorite restaurants -- and what lurks between those sesame seed buns. Praised for being accessible, honest, humorous, fascinating, and alarming, "Chew On This" was also repeatedly referred to as a must-read for kids who regularly eat fast food. Having all the facts about fast food helps young people make healthy decisions about what they eat. "Chew On This" shows them that they can change the world by changing what they eat. Chew on This also includes action steps, a discussion guide, and a new afterword by the authors.

The Story of Cherry the Pig
Utako Yamada
Kane / Miller Book Publishers
P.O. Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038
9781933605258 $15.95

Cherry the pig is happy and content, baking and eating desserts every day and enjoying life in her pretty little village. Then one day, she hears a family of mice talking about her incredible apple cake. Since her apple cake is pretty incredible, Cherry enters the bake-off at the Harvest Festival, and the rest, as they say, is (sweet) history. A charming translated picture book from Japan, make even more delicious by the quaint, vintage color palette and design.

Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Dinosaurs
Claire Llewellyn, illustrated by Kate Sheppard
Kingfisher / Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
9870753461068 $10.95

"Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Dinosaurs" answers the problems that trouble Earth's largest extinct reptiles. A Tyrannosaurus rex with teeth trouble and a Diplodocus with weight worries are among the many dinosaurs that have written to Dr. K. Fisher about their concerns. Dr. K. Fisher's wise replies include prehistoric facts. "Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Dinosaurs" is a refreshing and witty look at these giants from long ago. Very, very cleverly written by Claire Llewellyn, a prize-winning author of nonfiction for younger readers including the "Why Should I," "Best Book of," and "Minibeasts" series.

Light and Sound
Dr. Mike Goldsmith
Kingfisher / Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
9870753460368 $9.95

Readers are introduced to the science behind light and sound in this new addition to the Kingfisher Young Knowledge series. The ways in which light and sound are used will amaze children-light can be used to create laser technology, while ultrasound enables doctors to see inside the human body. The lively text explores the facts about familiar subjects while stunning photographs zoom in on intriguing details. Includes easy-to-follow projects and activities young readers can do at home to experiment with the subject. Other new titles in the series include "Mountains" by Margaret Hynes."

Cover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl
John Feinstein
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375842474 $16.99

The Super Bowl --America's biggest sports spectacle. More than 95 million fans will be watching, but Steve Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson know that what they'll be watching is a lie. They know that the entire offensive line of the California Dreams have failed their doping tests and that the Dreams' owner is trying to cover up the test results until after the game. They know that they are sitting on the biggest sports scandal of the decade. What they don't know yet- is how to prove it. These two 14-year-old reporters have broken big stories before. In fact, their past successes have made them a little bit famous. But nothing prepares you for the sheer size of the Super Bowl. The players are huge. The hype is overwhelming. The egos are gigantic. And the money? Astronomical. So a Super Bowl scandal is by far the biggest story Steve and Susan Carol have tried to tackle with the biggest opponents lining up to take them down. An action-packed mystery for teens by NPR commentator John Feinstein, author of many bestselling books, including Last Shot, an Edgar Award winner.

Kindergarten Countdown
Anna Jane Hays, Linda Davick
Knopf Books for Young Readers
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
978037584528 $8.99

It's just one week until Lucy's first day of kindergarten and she can't wait! She makes the days pass faster by practicing her ABCs, 123s, and writing her name. More than a counting concept book, this short picture book is a sweet way to get the kindergarten-bound child off on the right foot.

The People Could Fly
Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Dianne Dillon
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375845536 $17.99

Taking its name from the title story in the late-Virginia Hamilton's previous prize-winning American Black folktale collection, "The People Could Fly" is a fantasy tale of the slaves who possessed the ancient magic words that enabled them to literally fly away to freedom. And it is a moving tale of those who did not have the opportunity to "fly" away, who remained slaves with only their imaginations to set them free as they told and retold this tale. Leo and Diane Dillon have created powerful new illustrations in full color for every page of this picture book presentation of Hamilton's most beloved tale. The author's original historical notes as well as her previously unpublished notes are included.

The Mysterious Benedict Society
Trenton Lee Stewart
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
0316057770 $16.99

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children -- Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance -- succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they'll find in the hidden labyrinth of the school's underground tunnels is more than your average school supplies. First-time children's novelist Trenton Lee Stewart takes readers on an adventure that puts friends, family, and foe to the test. Are you up to the challenge?

Hey Batta Batta Swing!
Sally Cook and James Charlton, illustrated by Ross MacDonald
McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416912071 $17.99 www.Simon

This funny, fascinating picture book takes a walk on the wild side from the earliest games to today. Young readers are invited to discover what it was like before there was a pitching mound or players had numbers on their jerseys. Learn how Babe Ruth got his nickname, why Brooklyn's team was called the Dodgers, and what Roger Clemens gave to keep his lucky number 21 when he switched teams. See what clever ways players have found to win -- even ways to cheat! Sprinkled throughout are definitions of baseball's weird and wacky vocabulary, from a meatball to Uncle Charlie. Find out which player was traded for a bag of prunes, but don't trade this book for anything! Ross MacDonald's lively pictures bring fans close to the action with plenty of mischievous fun in this free-swinging tribute to the boys of summer.

Nightsong: The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice
Michael Cadnum
Orchard Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
0439545358 $16.99

Orpheus, a brave musician who is dearly loved by the gods and admired by all of humankind, attempts to use the power of song to rescue his beautiful wife, Eurydice, from the Underworld after she dies from a serpent bite on their wedding day. When Orpheus finally reaches the center of the Underworld, Hades relents to his beautiful music and agrees to set Eurydice free. However, he tells Orpheus that he must not look back at his wife as he leads her to the surface. Just before the couple reaches the upper world, Orpheus cannot help but look back at Eurydice, and he therefore loses her forever.

Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why You Can't Manage Without Apostrophes
Lynne Truss, illustrated by Bonnie Timmons
Putnam / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399247064 $16.99

Just as the use of commas was hilariously demystified in "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference," now Lynne Truss and Bonnie Timmons put their talents together to do the same for apostrophes. Everyone needs to know where to put an apostrophe to make a word plural or possessive (Are those sticky things your brother's or your brothers?) and leaving one out of a contraction can give someone the completely wrong impression (Were here to help you). Full of silly scenes that show how apostrophes make a difference, too, this is another picture book that will elicit bales of laughter and better punctuation from all who read it.

Collectopia: A Friendship Scraptacular
Collectopia: Wactivity
Peggy Brown and Catherine Rondeau
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375841118 (Friendship) 9780375841101 (Wacktivity) $12.99

Following the well-tread tradition of book-kit gift packages from creative publishers like Klutz, American Girl, and Running Press, Random House enters the ring with it's own boxed-activity gift-set series. Created by veteran game and toy inventors, Peggy Brown and Catherine rondeau, their new "Collectopia" series launches with two titles to appeal to girlie girls. The cheekily-named "A Friendship Scraptacular" addresses the scrapbooking craze and provides materials and ample creative directions to get started. "Wacktivity" is a more random offering of games, factoids, puzzles, surveys and "how tos" including scavenger hunts, palm readings, and dream journaling. Each book "encourages girls to be inventive," i.e. they provide a great deal of the actual activity spark, the kits just act as the catalyst. Two additional titles are planned to follow by 2009.

Playing it Cool
Joaquin Dorfman
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
0375836411 $15.95

"I always know what I'm doing." So says 18-year-old Sebastian Montero, who is famous around town as a problem solver of the subtlest kind. Want a date with the girl of your dreams? Bastian can make it happen. Have a friend threatening suicide? Baz can talk him off the ledge. But as popular as Sebastian is, no one really knows him. Thanks to his intricate network of favors and debts Sebastian controls the world, manipulates it and hides from it. It isn't until his best friend asks him to track down his long-missing father that Sebastian is forced to face the most challenging problem of all, the solution to which will change his life forever.

Tamora Pierce
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780373814686 $18.95

It's a dog-eat-dog world in "Terrier," the first book in Tamora Pierce's new Tortall trilogy introducing Beka Cooper, an amazing young woman who lived 200 years before Pierce's popular Alanna character. For the first time, Pierce employs first-person narration in a novel, bringing readers even closer to a character that they will love for her unusual talents and tough personality. Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, and she's been assigned to the Lower City. It's a tough beat that's about to get tougher, as Beka's limited ability to communicate with the dead clues her in to an underworld conspiracy. Someone close to Beka is using dark magic to profit from the Lower City's criminal enterprises--and the result is a crime wave the likes of which the Provost's Guard has never seen before. Fast-paced fantasy for serious armchair adventuresses 12 and up.

War Horse
Michael Morpurgo
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439796637 $16.99

Joey the horse recalls his experiences growing up on an English farm, his struggle for survival as a cavalry horse during World War I, and his reunion with his beloved master. A powerful story of the truest of friendships in the worst of wars, "War Horse" was the runner-up for the prestigious Whitbread Award, and is a story that will amaze young readers from beginning to end.

Song of the Sparrow
Lisa Ann Sandell
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
97680439918480 $16.99

The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur's supporters, lives with her father on Arthur's base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine's only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur's older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur's second-in-command. However, when yet another girl -- the lovely Gwynivere-- joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire? For young adult readers and historical fiction fans.

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
Margaret McNamara
Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375840142 $14.99

"How many seeds in a pumpkin?" Mr. Tiffin asks his class as they gather around the big, medium, and small pumpkins on his desk. Robert, the biggest kid, guesses that the largest one has a million seeds; Elinor, sounding like she knows what she's talking about, guesses the medium one has 500 seeds; and Anna, who likes even numbers better than odd ones, guesses that the little one has 22. Charlie, the smallest boy in the class, doesn't have a guess. Counting pumpkin seeds is messy business, but once the slimy job is done, to everyone's surprise, the smallest pumpkin has the most seeds! As Charlie happily exclaims, "Small things have a lot going on inside of them." A festive holiday picture book for Pre-K-1.

Barnstormers: Game 1
Loren Long and Phil Bildner
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
978416918639 $9.99

It's 1899. Griffith, Graham, and Ruby's father passed away in the war, and now they must join their mother and their father's wartime traveling baseball team, The Travelin' Nine, on a tour of America to raise money. No one will tell the kids why the team needs money so badly. Their only clue is a baseball with a hole the size of an acorn in it that their Uncle Owen gave to them the night of their father's funeral. They know very little about its significance except that their father made it with his own two hands and carried it with him throughout the war. And when all three kids hold the ball, strange things begin to happen. The first in a new chapter book series, followed by, naturally, "Barnstormers: Game 2."

Clemency Pogue: The Scrivener Bees
JT Petty, illustrated by David Michael Friend
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
978416907695 $11.99

There's a renegade changeling on the loose and the future of Make-Believe hangs in the balance -- it's Clemency Pogue to the rescue! As Inky Mess gains power and amasses goblin followers, he sets his sights on the Forgetting Book. With the book, Inky will become master of every goblin, hobgoblin, and fairy in Make-Believe. Clemency's hobgoblin friends desperately need her help to defeat the power-hungry changeling, but Clem has problems of her own: Her dad has unknowingly angered the Scrivener Bees and they want to exact painful revenge. Will Clem be able to save her father -- and Make-Believe?

Here There Be Dragons
James A. Owen
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416912286 $17.95, 336 pages,

An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica -- an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams. Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become. An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, "Here, There Be Dragons" introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.

Insiders: Space
Alan Dyer
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416938606 $16.99

"Insiders" is a visually groundbreaking, state-of-the-art nonfiction series that deserves library shelf space along the "Eyewitness" and "Discoveries" series. It offers young explorers an inside look into twelve riveting subjects, beginning with "Dinosaurs," "Egypt," "Oceans" and "Space". Expertly written, each book features an arresting design, complete with dynamic, multi-layered CGI and 3-D model imagery that is complemented by fascinating, up-to-date information presented in a user-friendly format. "Insiders: Space", for example, uses state-of-the-art illustrations to reveal the anatomy of a supernova; provide a glimpse of the inner workings of a comet; and probe the surface terrain of Mars. Another book in the series, "Insiders: Oceans," is a multi-dimensional showcase of the aquatic universe taking a close look inside the formation of waves and tsunamis, a cross-section of an underwater living lab, and many plant and animal species that live miles beneath the ocean's surface.

The Curse of the Campfire Weenies
David Lubar
Starscape / Tor / Forge
175 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10010
9780765318077 $15.95

In this extremely silly middle grade story, David Lubar cooks up his third collection of "warped and creepy-crawly tales" about weenies. Yes, hot dogs. Among them are the stories about: a second-grade class that learns why they should always be nice to their math teacher; an ancient predator who uses the Internet to search out its prey; the reason no one should go looking for witches; a brother and sister who escape a campfire weenie only to encounter something even more terrifying (a troop of bubbly Girl Scouts!); and a boy who discovers the answer to one of the great urban mysteries: why are pigeons always pooping in parks? A seriously silly, empty-calorie snack that fits the Halloween season like a glove.

Anne Frank and the Children of the Holocaust
Carol Ann Lee
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670061075 $16.99

Anne Frank's diary changed how the world saw the Holocaust this book will change how you see Anne Frank. Beginning with Otto Frank's idyllic childhood, follow the family's journey from its proud German roots through life under Nazi occupation to their horrifying concentration camp experiences. Interspersed with their story are personal accounts of survivors, excerpts from other victims' journals, and black and white photos. A perfect blend of historical information and emotional narratives, this book makes an excellent companion to the diary, offering an in-depth look at the life of Anne Frank, and an intimate history of the young people who experienced the Holocaust. For readers in grades 6 10.

Best Friend Emma
Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670061730 $14.99

Why is Sally Warner not a children's book star? Her charming "Emma" series for middle grade girls gives Judy Moody a real run for her well-earned money with its spot-on grasp of tween angst, issues, dialog and humor. In her latest gem, our complicated heroine Emma McGraw meets Krysten Rodriguez, and instantly knows that Krysten would make a great best friend. There's just one problem. Emma already has a best friend: Annie Pat. But Emma is sure she wouldn't mind if Emma made a new friend for both of them. And she has to do it fast, before Krysten is taken. Annie Pat should appreciate that, right? Actually, no. Not when Emma is forgetting important plans they've made together. Suddenly Emma is faced with the prospect of no friends at all. At once charming, funny, and thoughtful, this fourth book about eight year-old Emma is sure to find new fans.

Julie Morgan Build a Castle
Celeste Davidson Mannis, illustrated by Miles Hyman
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
0670059641 $17.99

From the time she was little, Julia Morgan wanted to know how everything fit together. Her family often visited San Francisco, where she could puzzle over the many new buildings under construction there. Julia desperately wanted to be an architect -- but in the late nineteenth century that was rare for a woman. Julia was not deterred. After several rejections, she finally made it into the prestigious all-male Ecole des Beaux Arts, in Paris. She also became California's first licensed female architect and designed over 800 buildings, including newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst's magnificent San Simeon. With exquisite illustrations, this is the story of a spirited pioneer.

Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with a Caribou Herd
Karsten Heuer
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011
9780802795656 $17.95

This picture book adaptation of the adult title of the same name vividly shows one of the earth's most amazing migrations: more than 100,000 caribou trek thousands of miles each year over high mountain ranges, through snowy passes, and across icy rivers. But they have to battle more than just the brutal elements. Hungry wolves, huge grizzly bears, human hunters, and hordes of bloodthirsty insects besiege the herd as it travels to its one safe haven Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There, those that survive the trip have a few peaceful weeks to give birth and prepare their calves for the harsh year ahead. Karsten Heuer and his wife, Leanne Allison, are the only humans ever to become part of a caribou herd and join it on its arduous journey. They shared the same mind-numbing cold, the endless miles of physical hardship, and all the dangers along the route to chronicle the epic battle for survival these animals face. To keep up, they had to move, act, and even think like caribou. Karsten and Leanne's incredible adventure gives us a window into a world that most of us would never otherwise have the honor and pleasure of witnessing.

Outside and Inside Woolly Mammoths
Sandra Markle
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011
9780802795656 $17.95

Imagine discovering a creature that's been extinct for tens of thousands of years. Everything is still there -- skin, hair, blood cells, the food in it's stomach, and even its DNA. The Ice Age that was home to legendary woolly mammoths provided the perfect conditions to preserve their bodies. Let your imagination soar as Sandra Markle uncovers the secrets of these long-extinct creatures in the latest entry in the award-winning "Outside and Inside" series. How did these distant relatives of the elephants live, and why did they become extinct? The bodies they left behind give scientists valuable clues about their disappearance and the genetic material to possibly clone woolly mammoths today. Picture book for grades K-3.

Pocahontas: Princess of the New World
Kathleen Krull, illustrated by David Diaz
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011
9780802795540 $

She was the favored daughter of the Chief of the Powhatan Indians, and a girl in motion; always laughing, teasing, and dancing. But from the moment John Smith and the colonists of Jamestown set foot into her world in 1607, her life would change forever. She soon became an ambassador and peace keeper between the Powhatan and the colonists. Because of her curiosity and courage, Pocahontas became the bridge between the two worlds. Four hundred years after this world-changing clash of cultures, the true story about America's original "Founding Mother" is finally revealed. Reunited for the first time since Wilma Unlimited, Kathleen Krull and David Diaz deliver a visually stunning, fascinating birth-to-death account of this true American Princess.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Kamikaze, revised and expanded
Yasuo Kuwahara & Gordon T. Allred
American Legacy Media
1544 W. 1620 N., Suite 1-A, Clinton, UT 84015-8243
9780976154754, $16.95

Now in a newly revised and expanded 50th anniversary edition, Kamikaze: A Japanese Pilot's Own Spectacular Story of the Famous Suicide Squadrons is a classic biography published in 1957 about the famous suicide squadrons of Japan. Co-author Yasuo Kuwahara tells his story of entering military service at age 15, enduring training so severe that nine men of his squadron committed suicide, qualifying for fighter pilot school, and surviving fierce aerial combat. Co-author and university literature teacher Gorden T. Allred has recently worked to improve the literary impact of Kamikaze, by revisiting each word and sentence without changing any elements of the story. Kamikaze is an overwhelmingly insightful and vivid look into the life-or-death intersection of war and culture, and is highly recommended.

Golf Guide for Parents and Players
Jacqui Nicoletti McSorley & Johnny Gonzales
Mansion Grove House
PO Box 201734, Austin, TX 78720-1734
9781932421149, $26.95

Professional golfers Jacqui Nicoletti McSorley and Johnny Gonzales combine their wisdom in the field to present Golf Guide for Parents and Players: Secrets of Success for Junior & College Golf, Professional Tour and Beyond, an excellent introduction to golf for children, young adults, college-aged adults, and parents with children interested in the sport. Chapters discuss how to motivate one's kids to keep practicing, save on lessons, find scholarships and sponsors, golf organizations and agents, how to pursue college golf or a career in professional golf, and much more. Written in plain terms for readers of all backgrounds, and featuring an index for quick and easy reference, Golf Guide for Parents and Players lives up to its title with gusto.

Advancing Time
Bruce W. Wilds
E-BookTime, LLC
6598 Pumpkin Road, Montgomery, AL 36108
9781598245158, $12.95

Advancing Time: Putting Into Perspective and Understanding the Quickening Pace of Change is a commentary on how all aspects of life in daily society have been changing at an ever-increasing pace, especially compared to the rate of change experienced by past generations. From a rising synergy of innovations, materials, and modern abilities; to the population explosion spurred on by food products and medicine; to the evolution of the modern suburbs and new means of communications, travel, and housing; to the transformations of an increasingly money-driven media; Advancing Time is a wide-spanning evaluation. Author Bruce Wilds does not shy from presenting his own opinions concerning environmental concerns and issues of social conscience in this thoughtful discussion. "Being the target of a constant barrage from media has made the images we have seen time and time again all too commonplace and a bit more of the same. Sometimes we must remind ourselves to feel more compassion to try and savor one of life's rare and precious moments. Unfortunately our senses have been dulled by the pounding of images upon images upon images." Highly recommended.

Inclusive Outdoor Recreation for Persons with Disabilities
Donald R. Snyder, Anne Rothschadl, & Marcy Marchello
Idyll Arbor, Inc.
39129 264th Avenue SE, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781882883646, $35.00

Experts in the field Donald R. Snyder, Anne Rothschadl, and Marcy Marchello present Inclusive Outdoor Recreation for Persons with Disabilities: Protocols and Activities, a guide for outdoor recreation staff, therapeutic recreation specialists, rehabilitation counselors, special education instructors, students, teachers, and anyone else seeking to adapt outdoor recreation programs to serve individuals with a variety of disabilities. Chapters cover general guidelines and protocols, suggestions for tailoring programs to individuals, common disabling conditions to take into account, basic disability etiquette ("Introduce yourself by name to people who are visually impaired and use their name when speaking directly to them. Let them know when you are ending a conversation or moving away from them.") and much more. An easy-to-use, all-around solid handboook to selecting and hosting activities that build self-esteem and positive expectations.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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