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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 10 October 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Mayors Across America
Ed Morris
Ed Morris Photography
9780615278179, $74.95,

Ed Morris had an idea. Take a bicycle trip across America with camera in hand taking pictures of American city mayors along the way. He was able to average about 50 miles a day and carried 600 rolls of film. He put his bike and his camera to very good use as evidenced by "Mayors Across America: A 3,600 Mile Bicycle Journey Documenting The American Mayor". The coffee-table art book sized compendium is chronologically arranged and presents a full page photography of the mayors he encountered, along with the name and location of their communities, as well as their population figures and a mayoral quotation. A unique and fascinating photography study, "Mayors Across America" is highly recommended and could well serve as a template for similar projects by other creative, innovative photography collections.

The Devil's Valet
Christine L McKellar
Privately Published
Kirkus Discoveries (publicity)
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9780615288239, $14.95

Betrayal can change everything. "The Devil's Valet" follows one Crosby Campbell as she meets the man of her dreams, or so she thinks. What follows is a series of events which radically changes Crosby's life: divorce, pregnancy, and much more. A touching story of a woman trying to find her place in the world, "The Devil''s Valet" is an entertaining read all the way through.

Letters to the Editor
Jon Michael Hubbard
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595529810, $17.95,

The modern political field is one that frustrates people of any political belief. "Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative" is the thoughts and ramblings of one Jon Michael Hubbard, a Vietnam veteran who has grown more frustrated with modern politics and society as time goes on. He states his views clearly and concisely, and offers readers much food for thought. "Letters to the Editor" is a fine read to be enjoyed and mused upon.

The West Side Kid
Valentine Cardinale
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440143908, $14.95,

Fear can make you flee from everything, including the ones you love. "The West Side Kid" is the story of Lorne Bennett and his estranged daughter, Laura. When their wife and mother is found murdered, Lorne out of fear of being suspected flees for his life, abandoning his child. Over the next two decades, Laura grows into an adult and is obsessed with finding out the truth about her parents, which slowly leads her down the road to justice, which may either incriminate or clear her fathers name... "The West Side Kid" is an entertaining thriller, and highly recommended reading.

Promises to Keep
Thomas F. Dwyer
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595529001, $14.95,

When war erupts around those you love, you will do anything to get them out. "Promises to Keep: The Untold Story of a Family Trapped in War Torn Italy" tells the story of Domenico Forte as he worked his hands to the bone trying to bring his family to America. Preventing his dream were two world wars. Telling the story of a family trying to survive in the harshest conditions, "Promises to Keep" is a fascinating read of humanity in a tough time.

Vineyard Days
Gene Pisasale
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432741334, $20.95,

There are worse things to lose than one's money. "Vineyard Days" is the story of murder in Martha's Vineyard set in the frenzy of last year's market collapse. But Jim and Martha soon find out there are those who have lost more than their fortune when a grisly double murder is found on a nearby yacht. Not how they expected to spend their vacation, they find themselves entwined in the investigation. "Vineyard Days" is a fine and well crafted story that uses recent events as creative fuel for the fire.

Chris Christie
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781441523549, $15.99,

When a doctor says you will never walk again, the most positive thing one can do is take it as a challenge. "Roadkill" is the story of how Chris Christie after a horrific incident where he was left almost paralyzed. Telling his own journey of how he fought back to his own health, "Roadkill" is a work of inspiration, and recommended reading.

Desperate Highway
Jesse Stretch
Privately Published
9781439223949, $18.99

Whoever said crime doesn't pay is horribly misinformed. "Desperate Highway: The True Story of a Criminal" is the dramaticized memoir of Jeff Andrews, a notorious and highly successful conman in the 1970s. A thrilling story of a man who took many people for everything they were worth and his wild life of sex, drugs, and violence, and more, "Desperate Highway" is only made more intriguing that the fact that the modern day Jeff Andrews is a North Carolina business man.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Lexical Funk: A Triumph of Words
Daniel Clausen
Lulu Press
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557022304 $14.95

When many strange things begin to occur like the return to prominence of Vanilla Ice, one should be scared. "The Leixcal Funk: A Triumph of Words" is an offbeat story about the very potential destruction of the earth and how it may come in forms that no one would ever expect. "The Lexical Funk" is a humorous read, sure to entertain.

In My Heart
Ursula Hanks
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432723866 $13.95

Life isn't easy even when it's good. "In My Heart" is the memoir of one Ursula Hanks as she reflects on her families history. A German immigrant, daughter of parents who lived in Germany during Hitler's reign, she relays a story from a perspective not often heard. She gives her touching life story, that many people, regardless of nationality, will empathize with. "In My Heart" is inspiring and recommended reading.

Quasar and the Eye of the Serpent
T.K. Reed
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440127519 $11.95

Elves, Dwarves, and Dragons are not something young children should be dealing with. "Quasar and the Eye of the Serpent" tells the story of how Mathew and Sue Robert, two teens, end up in a strange world of fantasy, and find themselves charged with helping a wolf named Quasar lift a curse. Agreeing to help, they realize they may have set themselves up to face more than they bargained for. "Quasar and the Eye of the Serpent" is a delightful read for young fantasy fans, highly recommended.

Bridal Mysticism
K. A. Shott
Privately Published
9780578016726, $7.98

In "Bridal Mysticism", author, artist and poet K. A. Shott has compiled and compendium of her carefully crafted verse exploring the subject of human sexuality and its relationship to spiritual experience. The poems deftly address this perennial subject that permeates religions, philosophies, and human aspirations. "Bridal Mysticism" is very highly recommended as thoughtful and thought-provoking reading. Of special note is that "Bridal Mysticism" is also available as a free download from the Kim Shott website at -- as are some of her other writings.

Wisconsin Poets Laureate
Marilyn L. Taylor, Denise Sweet, and Ellen Kort
Marsh River Editions
M233 Marsh Road, Marshfield, WI 54449
9780977276868 $10.00

Wisconsin Poets Laureate is an anthology of poetry written by current Wisconsin Poet Laureate Marilyn L. Taylor, 2004-2008 Poet Laureate Denise Sweet, and 2000-2004 Poet Laureate Ellen Kort. From rhyme to free verse to stream-of-consciousness, the brief poems offer a deft and extraordinary variety of forms - but all are expertly crafted with consummate skill, and convey the emotional power of master wordsmiths. An absolute "must-have" chapbook for any who truly love to savor well-crafted poetry. "Some Birds Are Moving": and the cat does an adept blind leap / onto the sill and into a window / solidly closed. // With clawed precision she / thus executes a dismount, / backboards into / a triple axel, followed by // a half somersault she / lands it perfectly with grace / a full Louganis / without pause and / on all fours. // The crowd roars; film at 11. // All executed / mind you / while eying me and my / next of kin // and I respect her for that.

Flight Of The Mermaid
Sirish Rao & Gita Wolf, authors
Bhaiju Shyam, illustrator
Tara Publishing
38/GA Shoreham, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai, 600 090, India
9788190675604, $29.95,

The collaborative effort of India's Gond tribal artist Bhaiju Shyam, and the two superbly talented storytellers Sirish Rao and Gita Wolf, "Flight Of The Mermaid" is a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale story of 'The Little Mermaid'. Rao, Wolf, and Shyam have reformed this timeless tale into a compelling feminist parable on the conundrums of love and choice. The book itself is a memorable and impressive work of the publisher's art being partly letter-pressed by hand on tea-stained handmade paper. "Flight Of The Mermaid" is both highly recommended reading and a superb addition to a bibliophile's personal collection.

How-To-Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins The All-Organic Way
Don Langevin
Annedawn Publishing
9780975515372, $19.95,

We've all seen those award winning gigantic pumpkins at county fairs. Now anyone can grow a spectacular pumpkin in their own garden by benefiting the information and following the instructions of pumpkin expert Don Langevin "How-To-Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins The All-Organic Way", a 208-page manual covering every aspect of organically growing pumpkins of extraordinary size. Included are profusely illustrated chapters on soil preparation, seed selection, the seeding process, transplanting, insect and critter control, pruning, pollination, diseases, weight estimation, harvesting, and more. A fascinating book to simply browse through, "How-To-Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins The All-Organic Way" is an essential, thoroughly 'user friendly', highly recommended reference and guide for anyone seeking to successfully plant and harvest their own organically grown large scale pumpkin.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Relearn, Evolve, and Adapt
Francois W. Sauer
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595489176, $16.95,

If you took a person who was skilled with computers in 1999 and put him 2009, he'd be as lost as most peoples' grandparents. "Relearn, Evolve, and Adapt: An Essay to Integrate Creative Imagination with Socially Conditioned Thought and Behavior is one mans thoughts on the rapidly changing world and how to adapt to it, and keep up with the times when the times change so quickly. Urging people to catch on what they need to do to keep up, "Relearn, Evolve, and Adapt" is of strong recommendation for everyone struggling to adapt to today's changing world.

Bridal Mysticism
KA Shott
Privately Published
9780578016726, $TBA

Sex and poetry have more in common than one would think. "Bridal Mysticism" is the work of one KA Shott, offering a collection of poems that discuss sex and in particular the orgasm through her poetry. Intriguing and thought provoking work that''ll put some brainpower into one's sex life, "Bridal Mysticism" is well worth considering, but strictly for adult readers as the content is racy, to say the least. "Blurps": I've heard it said that the "average man (and woman)/has, by estimation, a sexual thought (or blurp)//every few seconds. I t stands to reason, then/that this might pose, for some, inconveniences.

The Gods of Canaan
Betty Coven
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432735487, $17.95,

There is one god and no other gods before him...except for his consort? "The Gods of Canaan" is a work of biblical fiction focusing on the consort of Yahweh, Asherah, and her chosen seeress, Rebe'kah. The story focuses on Rebe'kah and her life through early Israel as she helps to establish the nation once more. "The Gods of Canaan" is of interest to any seeking biblical fiction.

Tales of Priut Almus
Robert Belenky
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440131516, $22.95,

There are lessons we can learn from other countries about education and child care. "Tales of Priut Almus: Participant Observation in a Russian Children's Shelter" is Robert Belenky's reflections on his visits to Russia, watching as a group of children grew up in Priut Almus, a children's center in St. Petersburg, Russia. During his visits, he learns many things about the Russian way and hopes to inspire American educators and child care professionals to take note. "Tales of Priut Almus" is as such a strong read for those individuals who want to consider alternative methods.

Running Before the Prairie Wind
Anne Ipsen
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780578027319, $20.00,

The past makes you what you are and the past also causes us much pain. "Running Before the Prairie Wind: An Historical Novel of Southwestern Minnesota" tells the story of Karen and Peter Larsen as they face the problems of their lives and the prejudices of late nineteenth century America. A charming and moving story of conquering one's past, "Running Before the Prairie Wind" is a solid and very recommended read.

The Talking Baby
Jeremy & Karina Sweet
Privately Published
9780615243825, $13.95,

Speech is something every child will need to grasp, and the sooner the better. "The Talking Baby: Simple Tricks & Techniques to Encourage Your Baby to Speak Sooner" is a guide for parents who want to spur their child's development in the avenue of speech. Exploring what makes a child learn in the early years, there is much a parent can do to help their young one. "The Talking Baby" is a surefire way to help a parent bond with their child and gain a leg up on education.

Learn to Study the Bible
Andy Deane
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779 1-866-381-2665
9781607915768, $13.99,

The greatest religious thinkers didn't just distill what their preacher told them. They did their homework. "Learn to Study the Bible: 40 Different Step-by-Step Methods to Help You Discover, Apply, and Enjoy God's Word" is a guide for the thinking Christian who wants to enhance their faith through greater understanding of the work by studying the Bible themselves. Offering many methods to gain a better understanding of the scripture and how to apply it in life, "Learn to Study the Bible" is a must for any Christian who wants to be informed and armed with the knowledge of God's word.

Keeping the Promise
Samuel Yigzaw
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595451395, $17.95,

Charter schools are meant to go to a higher level of education, but that promise is harder to keep than one would think. "Keeping the Promise: One Charter School's Experience" is an educational manual aimed at Charter text aimed at helping Charter school educators and administrators to provide that higher level of education - that higher level that is promised when a parent enrolls them in these private schools. Filled cover to cover with useful information, "Keeping the Promise: One Charter School's Experience" is of recommended reading to any education administrator who values a higher experience in their schools.

George R. Kreuscher
Privately Published
PO Box 18, Oakdale, NY 11769
9780979917509, $22.95

Going into burning buildings may seem crazy, but someone has to do it. "Fireman" is the memoir of the challenges one New York firefighter faced throughout his career and his reflections on the September 11, 2001 tragedy where countless fire fighters died heroically trying to save those still trapped in the building. A story of professional heroes, "Fireman" is a glimpse into the lives of these worthy individuals.

Meet Yourself Again for the First Time
William Pillow
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440126727, $16.95,

Everyone is a different person than the one they were a few years ago. "Meet Yourself Again for the First Time: Hidden Forces Shape Our Lives" is an exploration of the unconscious forces that may have shaped one's life without even knowing it. Events that happened when one was no more than a fetus through much of one's young life could alter one's world view for a life time. Discussing human nature and these potential effects, "Meet Yourself Again for the First Time" is of strong interest for readers seeking a metaphysical approach to their own lives.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Hearts Upon a Fragile Bough
Vera Jane Cook
Global Authors Publications
2813 Bass Haven Lane, Saint Augustine, FL 32092
9780979808784 $16.99

From rough roots, diamonds can still emerge. "Hearts Upon a Fragile Bough" is a novel of one Vita and her mother. Her mother immigrated to America, found love that soon turned sour as Vita was born. Her mother torn apart by her life falling apart left Vita in a chaotic life of prostitution and other degrading jobs until a chance at happiness appeared. "Hearts Upon a Fragile Bough" is an excellent read that'll uplift many a spirit going through rough times and looking for that light at the end of the tunnel.

The Literate Spirit
Lea Mathieu
Daily Bread Press
9780615293073, $10.99,

You are what you eat also applies to the media you consume. "The Literate Spirit: Suggested Reading for Believers and Seekers" is the suggestion of Lea Mathieu for Christians to enhance their spiritual lives through better reading of the books in their lives. Not all Christian books, she discusses the value of each to a more spiritual life. "The Literate Spirit" is a fine addition to any Christian collection that encourages further education.

The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut
Paul Nowak
Eternal Revolution
0977223493, $10.95

An inspiration to the young people of his time, "The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut" is Paul Nowak's effort to put the stories of G.K. Chesterton into form for a new generation. A series of light and quick reads, the stories are charming adventures with a lesson to be had in all of them. "The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut" is a read that will please many a reader with a certain past touch that has been lost in more modern stories.

Eagle Eyes
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Mahvl Publishing
9780979007224, $9.99,

There are things that change the path of people's lives. "Eagle Eyes" tells the story of a young Ghana boy named Kofi who abandons his dreams of soccer when he sees there is much more that he can do for people. His grandfather, a man who has been blind for decades, is cured by his uncle, an ophthalmologist. Kofi learns the value of education and reaffirms his path in life. A look at African youths and giving readers much hope, there are many full color photos of this true story making it a truly touching read. "Eagle Eyes" is a highly recommended read for those who want a good story out of Africa.

The Family Freeloader
Renee Pittelli
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432741815, $17.95,

Love thy neighbor - even if they are useless slobs, right? "The Family Freeloader: A Biblical Answer for Sob Stories, Con Games, And Never Having to Get Off The Couch" is a Christian's guide to doing what your rational brain tells you even when you believe your faith tells you otherwise. The Bible is not meant to be a guide to being a fool, and Renee Pittelli gives Christians what they need to combat these con artists. "The Family Freeloader" is a must for any Christian faced with the conflict of their logic and their faith.

As Long as He Needs Me
Mary Verdick
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432724276, $16.95,

Love is something that seems to shuck off any call to logic. "As Long As He Needs Me" is a novel facing the dilemma of Kitty Johanssen. Her husband of thirty five years plans a romantic get away, the weaknesses of her husband Clem shows and now the trip now may happen. Through the decades, Kitty's problems seems to come to a forefront when a new man steps into the picture. Kitty waits and tries to remember why she married Clem in the first place when the grass seems so greener on the other side... " As Long as He Needs Me" is a worthwhile exploration of romance, highly recommended.

The Sun is Hot
Michaela Sefler
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1413790038, $24.95,

New inspiration can be drawn from the most inspiring book of all time - the Holy Bible. "The Sun is Hot" is a collection of poetry from Michaela Sefler as she draws her poetry from her faith and religious beliefs and offers simple yet highly motivational wisdom for readers. "The Sun is Hot" is a treasure of verse that many will cherish. "To Transform": He will transform humanity,/bring the people to higher planes/he will educate the masses,/bring salvation from within./He will show the glory/and transform the pain;/he will lift the people/to praise his God./He is strong and sure/steadfast and everlasting in victorious merits/of nobility.

Investing for Income
Curtis R. Bryant
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440151149, $13.95,

No one wants to be working on the day they die. "Investing for Income: The Retirement Dilemma" is a guide for those nearing retirement age in how to sustain themselves into the golden and twilight years about how to help themselves alongside their pensions and other plans through wise investing. Aimed at those who have earned a comfortable living, "Investing for Income" is a fine read for those who want to make sure they're covered throughout their retirement years.

The Key to Prosperity
Aris Melissaratos & N. J. Slabbert
Montagu House
9780982373408, $19.95

America has always been a strong economic power, but how do they retain this in the modern era? "The Key to Prosperity: Technology & America's Role in the 21st Century Global Economy" discusses modern America, its economy, and how it restricts both economic and technological development. Once the forerunner of technology, America seems to have fallen behind as Japan and China and other nations have picked up the pace. "The Key to Prosperity" is an honest examination of America's shortcomings.

The Enchanted Library
Karen Andrea
9781849231824, $8.99

"The Enchanted Library" tells the story of young Max Milford as he discovers his grandfather's library. At first dusty and ignorable, there's more to it than Max knows as he finds himself in strange and fantastic circumstances. "The Enchanted Library" is a charming and fun read for young readers who love books of adventure.

How to Ditch Your Allowance and Be Richer Than Your Parents
Patti J. Handy
Privately Published
0982465602, $17.95

Age is no barrier to wealth. "How to Ditch Your Allowance & Be Richer Than Your Parents: 9 Wealth Building Tools to make a Teen Rich" is a guide to being an entrepreneurial young man or woman who wants to plan wisely for the future. Explaining such concepts of wise money management, investing, and how to realize that not all debt is bad debt, "How to Ditch Your Allowance & Be Richer Than Your Parents" is an ideal guide for young adults.

Waiting for the Kiss
Pasquale Varallo
Privately Published
9780615284668, $10.00

The anticipation of salvation is what keeps many people going. "Waiting for the Kiss" is a collection of poetry from Pasquale who presents simple lyrical work. With both poetry and a few tunes with music, she gives readers a delightful and entertaining read. "Waiting for the Kiss" is of interest to many poetry collections. "Relics": They sit on the wall/and stare at me,/waiting, perhaps,/for a prayer from me.//These little pieces and/things bring mem'ries/that sting the loneliness inside me.//I would like to be rid/of them, but,/the problem is,/they are a part of me.//This is no complaint;/she was a saint,/except, when she made/love with me.

The Winter's Journey of My Youth
Helen Studley
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440140198, $12.95,

It's a story heard often but is stunningly unique through each telling. "The Winter''s Journey of My Youth" tells of Helen Studley and her own challenges that face her as she grew up as a Jew in Germany during the height of the Nazi regime. A touching story of survival and making the most out of one's life to avoid just being a victim, her resolve is one that will inspire many readers. "The Winter's Journey of My Youth" is of valuable addition to any memoir collection focusing on the holocaust.

Out of Order
Kevin P. Murphy
Privately Published
9781601458575, $15.95,

No one ever said crime was nice and orderly. "Out of Order" follows a group of assassins as they must recover from the bumbling of killing the wrong person in a case of mistaken identity. A unique tale of nuns, organized crime, and the police chief trying to manage and bring justice to the whole assortment of chaos ensues, which boils "Out of Order" into a highly unique and very entertaining tale.

Elysium and the Dominion's Prophesy
Michelle L. Ross
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432735371, $13.95,

The fate of the planet so often goes into the hands of those who would be chosen last to save it. "Elysium and the Dominion's Prophesy" is a fantasy set in the modern world where a young man by the name of Alex is tasked with the seemingly impossible. Elysium, the defense of the world against demons is no longer there and Alex is the last line of defense, much to his dismay. "Elysium and the Dominion's Prophesy" is fun and entertaining fantasy, sure to please.

A Guide's Tale
Gerald R. Patterson
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533161010 $12.95

Written by a man who has learned to love and know the wilderness, "A Guide's Tale" tells the story of Gerald R. Patterson, a guide by trade. Patterson was brought up in the great Canadian wilderness, made his living there, and continues to live there; his story is like no other. "A Guide's Tale" is strong pick for anyone who wants a personal look at the great forests of the Northwest.

Pretty for a Black Girl
Aisha Curry
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438954097 $10.49

Pretty can be a loaded term. "Pretty for a Black Girl: Compliment or Insult?" are the reflections of Aisha Curry as she presents her own thoughts of ideas on the fate of young womankind of all races and creed. There's an innate prejudice in all of us she writes, and the only way to overcome it is to face it head on. "Pretty for a Black Girl" is of recommended reading for any young woman who wants to be more than just a pretty face.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Frank Beddor
Dial (Penguin)
9780803731561 $17.99

Queen Alyss of Wonderland has taken over throne from Redd, who used dark imagination to rule as a dictator. In a contentious battle between the two females, light imagination wins. However a third player surfaces as King Arch of the Overlands wants to rule Wonderland. He employs WILMA (Women of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation) to ruin the Heart Crystal, which is the source of all imagination in creation.

The power of imagination vanishes from Wonderland and will soon disappear from earth and other worlds too. Alyss tries to line up support to fight the King and Queen of clubs and other allies of King Arch, who insist there is no place for imagination to flourish. Her lone remaining choice is to ally with the Redd Queen as her friends are being tossed in prisons by the WILMAs and the caterpillar between puffs says nothing of meaning.

This is the final book in the Looking Glass Wars trilogy and in spite of the subject retains all the imagination and charm of the previous novels (see THE LOOKING GLASS WARS and SAVING REDD). Alyss is bold and brave as she rules with benevolence until the threat surfaces that returns her into a determined resolute fighter. Arch is an interesting enemy whose goal appears not be power but instead the elimination of power; which makes him a difficult opponent to defeat as he has a personal quest. Although written for young adults, older readers will enjoy Alyss' latest adventures in Wonderland.

After You
Julie Buxbaum
9780385341240 $25.00

Since the death of her baby, Bostonian Ellie Lerner has had nothing that turns her on. Neither her marriage to Phillip nor her teaching position matters. Her only tie to the living is Lucy Stafford who moved to England where she married Greg and has a child, Ellie's goddaughter Sophie.

When Lucy is tragically murdered by a mugger, Ellie's apparent last tie to life dies with her. However, something whispers to Ellie to cross the Atlantic to be there for Sophie. While Phillip is confused and Greg is hiding his grief with indifference, Ellie comes for the funeral but stays to take care of the hurting now mute eight years old Sophie who witnessed her mom's death. .

This is a well written contemporary tale starring realistic characters struggling with life after a tragedy. Ellie is terrific as she finds a reason to live in the needs of Sophie whose father has abandoned her as if she mugged and killed his American wife. Her nurturing Sophie through their nightly ritual of reading the Secret garden together brings to her solace that she had not previously found. Whereas the two females forge a deep relationship that helps each move on somewhat beyond their respective trauma by regaining a sense of self, the two males in their live remain bewildered. AFTER YOU is a strong character study that focuses on regaining one's equilibrium after a tragedy has occurred.

A Cousin's Prayer
Wanda E. Brunstetter
9781602600614 $10.97

Katie Miller left her Indiana Amish community to live with her grandparents in Florida after blaming herself for panicking over a bee in their vehicle heading to Hershey Park. They were in an accident as her boyfriend Timothy's van crashed; he, Paul and Raymond died in the crash while Wayne lost the use of his legs and Jolene her hearing. Grieving her loss, she returns to her Hoosier State roots to attend the wedding of Loraine to Wayne. Afterward, Katie knows she cannot go back to Florida as the sunshine died with her boyfriend.

Still grieving Katie also suffers from anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Freeman Bontrager, who has been half in love with Katie for years, offers her solace. Katie finds him comforting, but he also seems interested in Eunice. When rumors spread about Katie, she feels Freeman betrayed her after she trusted him with her fears and secrets.

The second Indiana Cousins relationship drama (see A COUSIN'S PROMISE) is a terrific character driven tale as Kate and others struggle with survivor guilt that even engulfs loved ones who were not in the accident. For instance Kate's mom feels remorse for sending her to Florida last year, but was unsure then and remains uncertain as to what to do. Fans will enjoy this deep saga as everyone tries to move pass the tragedy through the help of God and loved ones.

Mahu Vice
Neil S. Plakcy
Alyson Books
9781593501112 $14.95

Honolulu Police Detective Kimo Kanapa'aka ended his six-months relationship with Fire Inspector Mike Riccardi after his significant other cheated on him while attending a conference in San Francisco; Mike, who is still hiding in the closet from his family and peers, came back with gonorrhea. However, though he kicked the hunk to the curb, Kimo has struggled with his equilibrium; even accepting rough sex with some kick butt guys he meets over the Internet. His brothers and a friend intervene trying to help Kimo regain his self worth.

An arson fire in a shopping center leads to the death of a young boy. Kimo and Mike investigate together; as they did when they first met and fell in love with eighteen months ago. They remain attracted to one another but wary. Kimo finds clues that the fire was set to hide human smuggling and prostitution. He soon finds photos used by a blackmailer to extort money from those caught in sexual encounters that they might not want revealed. This includes Kimo who sees himself in a picture with one of his recent illicit sex mates that if revealed could cost him his career.

This is an enjoyable gay investigative tale that mixes a strong whodunit with deep caring characters. The key to this terrific entry is Kimo who puts a realistic face on a gay cop whose significant other male lover devastated him by cheating on him. The official inquiry into the arson-homicide is super though perhaps too easily forcing Kimo and Mike to meet. However that case and the deep look at issues gays face with in or out make surfing Hawaii's waves with Kimo and company thoughtful fun.

Eye of the God
Ariel Allison
Abington Press
9781426700682 $13.99

The art thief ring the Collectors wants the Dali painting hanging in a Rio de Janeiro museum. Smithsonian curator Dr Abigail Mitchell travels to Rio warns the museum's director Dr. Ana Santos about the possible thefts. While they meet, two masked men steal several paintings. They are brothers Alex and Isaac Weld who plan to steal the Hope Diamond from the Smithsonian.

Abby is in charge of the fund raising gala with the Hope Diamond as the centerpiece. Alex poses as a journalist and gets close enough to Abby to place a bug on her so that he and Isaac can listen in on discussions about security arrangements. As he gets closer to Abby, his emotions get entangled for the first time with a mark although he intends to go through with the theft. The theft will be easier because at the last moment it is decided Abby will be wearing the Hope Diamond. When she asks her father for help in recovering it, he dismisses her as he had all his life. She learns Alex betrayed her, but though hurt remains resolute to recover what belongs to the Smithsonian.

This is an exhilarating inspiring thriller starring a heroine who never received her father's affection as a child or an adult yet still covets it and reaches out to him knowing the rejection is coming. Alex gets passed her mental defense mechanisms playing on her need to be loved; his betrayal rips her heart as like her father he affirms men don't care though he feels remorse and regret. Filled with action on three continents, EYE OF THE GOD is a riveting fast-paced thriller, but it is Abby in spite of another let down by a man remains filled with hope who makes Ariel Allison's tale a super read.

A Prisoner of Versailles
Golden Keyes Parson
Thomas Nelson
9781595546272 $14.99

In spite of the Clavell family willing to vow on the bible, King Louis XIV refuses to accept their contention as he firmly believes that Philippe Clavell is not his son. Knowing how obstinate and dangerous the monarch can be, the Clavell brood flees hoping for sanctuary in Switzerland, but fails to get out of France as the monarch spares no expense sending Captain Maisson to bring back Madeleine and her oldest son Philippe to what he calls the most beautiful palace, Versailles.

The King's men capture them and escort Madeleine and Philippe to Versailles. Madeleine depends on Pierre Bovee, who kept her safe once before; while Philippe tries in vain to persuade the ruler that he is not his offspring. However, Bovee is arrested for high treason with little chance of getting out of prison alive. Frightened for her family, friends and herself, Madeleine feels God is either testing her or more likely abandoned her. She also realizes her only way to save her kin and her former protector is agreeing to become the mistress of King Louis XIV.

The second Darkness to Light (IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN KING) historical thriller is an exciting fast-paced tale starring a strong woman who sacrifices her own well-being to try to keep her loved ones safe. There is plenty of taut suspense and a secondary romantic subplot that tie together nicely in support of the prime story line that focuses on surviving the Sun King's peccadilloes and wrath in seventeenth century France.

Grace Hammer
Sara Stockbridge
9780393067187 $23.95

In 1888 in the Whitechapel section of London Grace Hammer and her children live relatively snug especially when compared with their East End neighbors. She and her kids are expert pickpockets, which is how they fund their fine home.

Having taken purses since she was a child and also training her children to do likewise; Grace has a history; she hopes her past remains buried as some of her victims would like to get back at her if they could find her; which is unlikely because of her residence. However, rusticating not out of choice resides one of her victims, the outraged Mr. Blunt. Years ago a beautiful hooker stole a special treasure from him and he vowed to find her and get back what she purloined and more; as retribution is his. Blunt now knows where she hides and exacts punishment but not by directly targeting her, but like she did with his missing piece take from her what she cherishes most.

This is an engaging late Victorian thriller that in spite of being decades after Oliver Twist took place has a similar sense of locale even with the era and section of London being that of Ripper. The fast-paced tale is at its best when the focus subtly is on the dark atmosphere of the East End underground; on the other hand when Sara Stockbridge indulgently turns poetic with flowery figures of speech GRACE HAMMER loses some of its taut dark edge even when the metaphors and similes are gloomy. Still fans will enjoy this fine historical suspense tale in anticipation of High Noon in Whitechapel.

Piece de Resistance
Sandra Byrd
9781400073290 $13.99

After completing her pastry classes in Presque le Chateau just outside of Paris, Chef Lexi Stuart returns home to Seattle looking forward to running and baking a bakery. However she knows she has one year to succeed.

At the same time she works hard to make her bakery a success, Lexi deals with her relationship with her French boyfriend Philippe and his daughter, Celine and local lawyer Dan. She wonders if she can have her cake and eat it too, but soon will understand that Lovin' Spoonful means more than just a recipe entry, as she now knows what Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind truly means.

The third Lexi Stuart tale (see LET THEM EAT CAKE and BON APPETITE) is a fine entry as the lead protagonist has come home but her choices with opening a bakery and her personal life are complex. Lexi makes the story line sweet yet her relationships are complicated and her decisions difficult leaving fans enjoying the aptly titled PIECE DE RESISTANCE as even the cover is mouth watering delightful

Stray Affections
Charlene Ann Baumbich
9780307444714 $13.99

Cassandra Higgins needs some mental time away from her spouse and their four sons. She looks at a snow globe and muses about her childhood while staring at the three dogs and the little girl inside. Cassandra thinks back to beloved Grandpa Wonky and her dysfunctional relationship with her mother Bad Betty Kamrowski; she also recalls her love of helping injured animals that drove her closer to her Grandpa and away from her mom.

Her husband assumes Cassandra is going through some sort of inexplicable female nonsense while her sons wonder what is going on with their mom; her best friends are worried that she is heading into a deep depression. However, none of those concerned about Cassandra's mental health understand the magic of this snow globe. Soon she and her loved ones will learn of dreams as they take a "flurrious" journey accompanied by a remarkable snow globe.

This is an intriguing family drama with a strong cast including the snow globe in which the mom seems to be losing it starting with broiling cookies. As she regains her lost dreams and ergo her equilibrium, her husband, kids, and neighbors become concerned with her mental state; that is until the trek. Whimsical in a sort of Brigadoon way, STRAY AFFECTIONS makes a strong case that no matter how old you are follow your dreams instead of discarding them with regret.

James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc
9781439132999 $14.99

The king of Ahn Norvys is assassinated and the queen and their infant heir are kidnapped. With a power vacuum looming, the powerful Mindal merchant council select dangerous Gawmage as the ruler although many object though none as strongly as those in the highlander Stoneholding keep in Arvon.

It has been almost two decades since the murder and Gawmage has tightened his control through a powerful army that is strangling the kingdom. The only hope to rally opposition resides with the lost Prince Starigan, whom has not surfaced in all that time. Gawmage's army seems set to destroy all holdouts including Arvon. Although feeling ancient and achy, the High Bard of Arvon Wilum knows time has run out as the Black Scorpion Dragoons attack. He will need to venture out of the devastated keep for the first time in decades and pray that the sacred artifacts that he guards diligently, the Sacred Fire and the Talamahd golden harp, will remain safe while he, his apprentice Kalaquinn Wright, and a few ragged survivors of the assault search for the lost prince and find a way to relight the Sacred Fire.

With a nod to Beowulf and Tolkien, the strong cast (especially the intrepid brilliant apprentice and his dedicated intelligent master) makes for an exciting energizing epic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action although some spins seem doubtful with what is known in this realm. Still fans will relish this super saga once the audience understands Baen has left at least for STONEHOLDING the science fiction and alternate history genres.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
9781439132876 $24.00

Theo Waitley has lived a contented life on the matriarchal run "Safe World" Delgado with her mom Kamele and her mother's onagrata Jen Sar Kiladi; both of the adults are professors. However, life abruptly changes when Kamele suddenly leaves Jen Sar and taking her daughter with her relocates into a smaller family housing unit. Professor Kamele adapts and quickly becomes a department sub-chair while Theo struggles with new friends and feeling clumsy and awkward residing inside the Wall after years on the outskirts. She also misses Jen-Sar whom she considered her father.

Matters change even more abruptly when her mom informs her she is going off planet for a half year to investigate a nasty accusation of scholarly misconduct that could shake several academic worlds. Ignoring Theo's preferences to stay behind with her father, Kamele takes her daughter with her on a forensics documents search. Theo will either adapt or face much more shunning than just being considered physically challenged.

This is a stand alone Liaden Universe coming of age tale targeting young adult readers. Theo is a delightful center holding the story line together; ironically fans of the saga will know her true roots that have been hidden from her. With a strong cast and a solid forensics subplot, readers will enjoy the escapdes of the FLEDGLING whose life has changed dramatically (in her mind not in a good way since she misses her "father" and their suburban home) as she nears her fifteenth birthday.

Harrier Klausner
Serrano Succession
Elizabeth Moon
9781439132883 $24.00

"Change of Command". The Familias Regnant are stunned when the dynastic head Bunny Thornbuckle is assassinated. The murder throws the Family into chaos and discord. Hobart Conselline cleverly takes advantage of the confusion and lack of successor power to become the new council speaker of the Grand Council at Castle Rock He gets new laws passed that target removing his only threat, the late Bunny's Widow Miranda, his daughter Brun and the children that the latter was forced to carry (see RULES OF ENGAGEMENT). At the same time the Regnant is divided between Hobart supporters and those loyal to the widow, military officers Esmay Suiza and Barin Serrano marry over the objections of their respective adversarial families.

"Against the Odds". The Fleet military wing of the Familias Regnant rebels. This leaves the Familias in jeopardy from its bigger stalking neighbor, the Benignity. Meanwhile the Fleet discharges Lieutenant Esmay Suiza for marrying Barin Serrano compounded by her religious belief. Suiza travels to Castle Rock where she hopes to obtain support from Grand Council member Brun Meager, whom she rescued at a time the leadership debates the issue of near-immortality of the wealthy vs. the aspirations of their heirs.

These are reprints of two of the Suiza-Serrano tales that will please fans of the outer space romantic science fiction series; newcomers will be better off starting with last year's reprint; SERRANO CONNECTION. Both tales are well written and enable the audience to feel they are in space as family members of a Mafia like planetary government. Although the myriad of subplots can prove confusing and bog down the pace, SERRANO SUCCESSION remains a super spellbinding Suiza-Serrano space saga with more stories to reprint.

The Mermaid's Madness
Jim C. Hines
9780756405830 $7.99

The Mermaid princess gave up everything for love except her life; however, the human she cherished turned elsewhere so her love was unrequited. Irate and jealous and isolated form her own kind due to her sacrifice, she attacked the cause of her lost love: Queen Beatrice of the Kingdom of Lorindar. Her effort proves successful leaving the Queen in a regal coma. Her three princess wards (Snow White, Talia the Sleeping Beauty and Danielle Cinderella) are worried about their beloved mentor's comatose state, but soon have their own problems when they are under assault next.

They survive, but must find out who is behind the violence in order to put an end to it. They journey to the underwater kingdom of the Mer to obtain allies and to ascertain who amongst them might be the aggressor and why. Drinking plenty of terrible tasting tea to combat seasickness, the princesses risk their lives trying to save Queen Beatrice and themselves from a dangerously cunning adversary.

This entertaining twisted fairy tale sequel to THE STEPSISTER SCHEME is an amusing dark spin of the Little Mermaid as Jim Hines tells the "true" tale of what happened; not the happy ending one. Fans will laugh at the princess stereotyping that lightens through lampooning the sinister enchanted fairy tale with nods to Fractured Fairy Tales of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame (Jay Ward, Alex Anderson and Bill Scott).

Mercedes Lackey
9780756405854 $25.95

Gwenhwyfar is the daughter of King Lleeudd, the nominal vassal to King Arthur, who is struggling to unite England while fighting off the Saxon incursion. Her mother follows the old ways while Arthur straddles the line between the pagan past and the followers of Christ. Gwenhwyfar has a younger sister Gwenhwyfach who hates her goes off with Morgana to learn the magic of the Old ways. The good daughter is heavily imbued with power and it is thought she would go study at the school of the Ladies of the Well.

However Gwen is told she is touched by another Goddess Epora who is worshipped by warriors as the horse goddess. Gwen turns her back on magic and with her father's consent, becomes a warrior. Over time she becomes the head of her father's army respected by the men as their best warrior. For years she has done what makes her happy but when Arthur's second wife dies without an heir, Gwen is the chosen one as his next spouse. Arthur's bastard son kidnaps her and the leader of the Otherworld with the assistance of a priest helps her escape. She must return to a husband who she does not love in a land on the brink of war with her sister Gwenhwyfach amongst the enemy.

Mercedes Lackey has written her version of King Arthur who is an old man married to a young woman in order to begat his heir. He is far from the hero of legend especially with his treatment of his wives. Gwenhwyfar is a courageous hardened warrior who plans military strategy for her father in a world where Christ is displacing the old ways, she tries to treat both camps fairly although she possesses some of the magic of the Sisters. This is a brilliant feminist twist to the Arthurian saga

Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas
Janice Hanna
9781935416166 $12.99

In 1904 Poetry, Texas has several German immigrant bachelors who are of marrying age. Seeing an opportunity, Belinda Bauer becomes a marriage broker. She works the personal ads across the country seeking perfect matches for all the eligible men in town.

Belinda proves quite good at matching up men with their ideal women and visa versa. However, she soon realizes she made one mistake when she found the perfect match several times for her best friend barber Georg Kaufman. Belinda wants to be his perfect match as she now realizes she loves her best friend forever.

The romance between Georg and Belinda is deftly handled so that it seems as if the matchmaker is unaware that her BFF is doing his own subtle matching without hurting the pretenders. The story is a lighthearted historical frolic that brings vividly to life the German immigrant wave of the beginning of the previous century in which advertising for wives was done in newspaper personal ads. With a nod to Hello Dolly except in Texas, fans will enjoy a trek back to the early twentieth century in aptly named Poetry, Texas as Belinda writes poems to find a match.

Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon
Melody Carlson
9781935416180 $12.99

Thirty-two years old attorney Hope Bartolli comes home to Sisters, Oregon to attend her beloved Nona's funeral. Still grieving her loss and filled with guilt for not returning more often to see Nona before she died, Hope is stunned that her grandmother's will includes a stipulation for her to inherit. She must remain in Sisters for one year.

Hope left Sisters to avoid her ex boyfriend Drew and her baby sister Cherry after they became an entry and married. She does not want to go home because she knows sibling warfare is what awaits her as she still is hurt and angry; as the only gem left for her in Sisters is her eleven year old niece Avery. The oldest sister Faye is also arriving coming from Portland having split from her husband Still for Nona, Hope will try, but her premonition proves correct as the three sisters go to war with one another.

Although there is a romance with Lewis the state executor, the well written story line is more about the relationships between three adult sisters who became enemy combatants that Nona wanted to end and also hoped her Hope would find happiness back in Sisters. The key characters including the late Nona are fully drawn so that the fights and squabbles seem genuine. Fans who appreciate a profound family drama will want to tour Sisters, Oregon guided by Faith, Hope, and Charity.

Soul Catcher
Leigh Bridger
Bell Bridge
9780982175682 $14.95

When she was a child, her granny knew that Livia Belane had a special destiny to fulfill and tattooed symbols of the Light onto her head to protect her. Olivia was heartbroken when her father committed suicide and recalls nothing about the fire that killed her mom and brother. Somehow she escaped unscathed, but whispered gossip claims she set the inferno. She ended up in a psycho facility and when she was released at night she dreams of a demon, of whom she paints while she sleeps.

Her paintings contain the ugliest demon ever; she calls him Pig Face. Although Livia is a loner, people want to befriend her through her countless reincarnations. They inform her she is a Soul Hunter, a person who sends demons back to the hells they came from. She meets a man and is prepared for hot sex, but instead he tortures and rapes Livia. Ian, who loves Livia and has through several lifetimes, takes over the body of her rapist who was the demon Pig Face; like Ian, Pig Face has made it through several of her reincarnations killing both of them each time. However, this time is different as Livia and Ian must defeat Pig Face whose power keeps increasing with each of their deaths and soon will be too strong for them to stop his takeover of Asheville; eventually North Carolina, the USA, and the earth will follow.

Deborah Smith, writing as Leigh Bridger, has authored an exciting unique urban fantasy that is an amalgam of reincarnation, demonic-angelic warfare, and special people with skills to see and fight evil beings. Livia changes from a reactive frightened person into a bold individual accepting Ian's help even though every time she looks at his face, she stares at her rapist. The love these two souls share gives them hope that they will overcome Pig Face, but he thirsts for vengeance too for what they did in a previous life a long time ago without understanding the consequences which fueled the demon's rage.

The Darkest Room
Johan Theorin
Delta (Random House)
9780385342223 $15.00

Stockholm schoolteacher Joakim Westin, wife Katrine and their two young children move to a family run down manor Eel Point on Oland Island in the Baltic. They repair the old manor until their idyllic life ends when Katrine inexplicably drowns near the twin lighthouses in shallow water that she should have been able to just sit up in.

Joakim has problems adjusting to the loss of his wife following the tragic death of his sister Ethel the year before; he insists to himself Katrine is still with them. While the police close their investigation officially determining a tragic accident occurred, rookie cop Tilda Davidsson has problems with the drowning death by accident ruling. She investigates on her own time, but she like Joakim will learn renovation of a musky old house will not remove permanent residents or secrets of those who once resided there.

This dark Swedish thriller grips the audience with its gothic descriptions that have readers anticipating more pending doom even after Katrine drowns as the history of Eel Point is one of tragedy. The audience will wonder whether something from beyond stalks Oland Island and Westin as there is a history for it. The current death is a sort of locked room scenario since there are no footprints are on the beach while readers also ponder what lies inside the hidden DARK ROOM. As he did with ECHOES FROM THE DEAD (also set on Oland Island) John Theorin provides a super psychological suspense as Joakim fears he is losing it with his need for closure and he doesn't want his children disturbed especially his daughter who insists she hears her mommy calling her.

Distant Thunder
Jimmy Root, Jr.
Bedside Books
9781589825536 $24.95

In Plattsville, Missouri Pastor Ty Dempsey grieves the death of his brother in Iraq through his sermons. However, the Deacons are concerned with his recent ramblings; as Ty insists he spoke with God who says Isaiah's prophecy of the world ending is coming because Israel will react to Syria having nukes by destroying their neighbor. On top of that with Iran ready to retaliate, the prophecy of Ezekiel will come forth with destruction of much of the Middle East and Russia.

At the same time that Ty is shouting fire and brimstone end of days, Israeli Defense Forces Captain Moshe Eldan has family issues to contend with since his mother-in-law died. His wife Tasha grieves her loss by converting to Christianity and she insists Jesus has told her he wants Moshe to do likewise. When Moshe's plane is shot down over Syria, he becomes a POW only to learn a horrible secret that could bring the end of days to Israel.

Dempsey and Eldan personalize this exciting thriller as the world turns anti-Semitic targeting the destruction of the Jewish state. They are the opposites as the Pastor needs the destruction of Israel if his belief of the End of Days has begun while the fighter pilot zealously defends Israel's right to survive. Although a strong belief in salvation through Jesus is throughout the solid story line; ironically at the root of the first Lightning Chronicles is the fundamental belief that for the Ezekiel's prophecy of 568 BC to occur, Israel must survive until the slaughter of the Jews led by the Anti Christ bringing together all the other nations against the country. Although the female characters never gel like the two lead males, fans will relish this profound look at religious zealousness by the prime descendents of Abraham as death to Israel is needed for t he start of the End of Days.

Karen Marie Moning
9780385341653 $26.00

MacKayla "Mac" Lane came to Dublin from a small American town to find her sister Alina's murderer (see DARKFEVER). However, Mac has become a key Sidhe mage in the Fae war that she previously was ignorant of its existence (see BLOODFEVER and FAEFEVER). She still seeks the ancient Sinsar Dubh that she has seen as this tome in the wrong hands could mean more than just the Wall tumbling down in entirely breached dark Dublin.

However, in spite of strong enigmatic allies and possessing the immortal Fae killing Spear of Luin, her enemy who murdered her sibling, the Lord Master has her captured at his feet. He plays on her magical naivety and grows her sexual hunger. Her hope for satiation, salvation and retribution lies with two males; neither of which she understands nor trusts, Jericho Barrons and Fae Prince V'lane with her back. Meanwhile in Georgia, her parents are missing, but much of the truth about her past and that of her sister and her ties to Barrons lie in the red clay while something even more malevolent than losing Dublin to the dark forces of the Lord Master and his allies awaits her homecoming on two planes.

The fourth urban fantasy "Fever" thriller is a fast-paced action-packed tale that feels more like a set up book for the next novel even with the battles against the Lord Master and the "monster" as little progress is made to the overarching plot in spite of some revelations. Still DREAMFEVER is a well written entry as fans of the saga will believe Mac has come a long way in a short time especially piling up males in her expanded quest that changed from finding her sister's killer to saving the world. Fans will enjoy this entry even with glacier progress while newcomers need to start with DARKFEVER to fully comprehend and savor the enchantingly deepening darkening Moning universe.

Skin Medicine
Tim Curran
Severed Press
9780980606515 $14.95

In 1882, former confederate soldier turned bounty hunter, Tyler Cabe, has come to Whisper Lake in the Utah Territory in search of a gruesome serial killer, the Sin City Strangler who brutally murders prostitutes. The bounty hunter is unhappy to learn the town's sheriff is former Union soldier Captain Jackson Dirker who committed atrocities against POWs including Cabe.

Also coming to town by wagon is James Lee Cobb, who rides inside a coffin. He and his minion brutally massacre the townsfolk of the nearby mining town Sunrise. Cobb has the Skin Magic power of the Indians enhanced by the curse of the Wendigo. In Whisper Lake he begins his murder spree as the two Civil War enemies who do not trust one another must unite if they want Deliverance stopping the invincible killer from hell before a second town is eradicated.

SKIN MEDICINE is a fast-paced and entertaining western horror thriller that hooks the audience with the opening coach scene that has some nods towards Stoker. The graphic gory story line is fast-paced yet contains a strong fully developed cast, especially the good (Cabe), the bad (Dirker), and the ugly (Cobb); which leads to the reader anticipating a paranormal High Noon in Whisper Lake.

To Tempt the Wolf
Terry Spear
9781402219047 $6.99

Wildlife photographer Tessa Anderson is taking pictures of an out of control California wildfire when the wolf rushes her; she escapes and thinks she best go back to Oregon for her brother's murder trial. At the same time she drives by, twin sibling grey lupus garous Hunter and Meara Greymere leave the inferno to move to the cabin on the Oregon coast left them by their uncle who retired to the Everglades.

Soon afterward in Oregon, Tessa comes by, but Meara tells her to leave. Tess insists she was to have dinner with Uncle Basil as he told her to call him, but Meara remains unfriendly until Tess sarcastically says nice meeting you and goes, but makes it clear she will insure Uncle Basil is okay. Afterward Meara demands her brother find her a mate or she will join the others. While Hunter worries about his no longer compliant sister, he also finds himself wanting the human photographer. However as his pack deserts him, several beings attack Hunter. Wounded, he swims to the beach near Tess' home. Tess helps him and soon she is a target of his enemies and of his wanting her.

The third werewolf romance (see DESTINY OF THE WOLF and HEART OF THE WOLF) is an enjoyable action-packed thriller from the fiery onset to the mystery of what is going on in Coastal Oregon. Fans of the series will enjoy the tale of the Gray Pack forced to relocate near a Red Pack (in Portland) as werewolves are territorial. Tessa is an intrepid human female who is not afraid of the big bad wolf while Hunter has found his soul mate ironically as he has tried for almost two centuries to find Meara's alpha mate. Terry Spear provides an engaging paranormal romantic suspense as gold is the greedy lowest common denominator and love the highest common denominator.

Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion
Elizabeth Chadwick
9781402225185 $14.99

In the early thirteenth century, as the younger son of an affluent influential family, William Marshal has limited prospects. However, he proves quite skillful with a sword. When he performs a chivalrous act that saves the life of powerful Queen of Eleanor of Aquitaine, he earns the position of special protector. He becomes tutors to the princes and pledges loyalty to the heir Henry out of his fealty to the lad's mother. He stays loyal as rebellion pits father against son and when Henry dies, Marshal swears loyalty to Henry's brother Richard. This placed him against his brother who pledged loyalty to Richard's brother Prince John. While Richard is on Crusade, John makes a bid for the throne; this puts Marshal between a rock and a hard place as he must choose between honoring his pledge or his family. He obviously chose right as he became known as the "greatest knight" by his peers.

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as William served loyally and bravely to a who's who of the period. The cast starting with Eleanor and the succession of princes/kings/cardinals and popes enhance a strong look at a fascinating individual.

Cottonwood Whispers
Jennifer Erin Valen
9781414333267 $12.99

In 1936 in Calloway seventeen years old Jessilyn Lassiter has two goals for this summer. First she hopes to find work and second prays Luke tally notices her after four years of unrequited love. Jessilyn also worries about her best friend, black Gemma Teague hanging with Joel Hadley, as he is trouble.

In a hit and run someone runs over little Callie. The townspeople are shocked and want the culprit lynched. Gemma reveals some information she has to Jessilyn and Luke that might save the life of an innocent man. However, her word as a black means nothing against that of white man especially one who is rich and influential.

This is an interesting Depression Era southern thriller focusing on vigilante justice. The story line is character driven as the white mob wants to lynch elderly black Mr. Poe while Jessilyn tries to avert a second tragedy as she knows an innocent man will die, but finds no easy answers not even when she begs for divine intervention as her faith is waning. Fans will appreciate this deep historical tale that remains relevant today for instance with the health care debate as Jennifer Erin Valen provides readers with a strong character driven plot as people draw false conclusions in spite of contrary evidence.

Look to the East
Maureen Lang
9781414324357 $12.99

In 1914 as war seems imminent across the continent, in Briecourt in northern France, the hostilities are local as the "Hundred years War" between Toussaints and the de Colvilles remains heated. However, the German Armies march into France and soon occupy the small village. The two families know they must bury their feud in order to protect their kin, other villagers, and any straggler trapped by the German assault. One century of family feud fighting must end over night as a bigger threat looms.

Although not a natural born Toussaint having been adopted, Juliette knows first hand the disdain held by the de Colvilles. She falls in love with wealthy Belgian entrepreneur Charles Lassone, whom she has delivered food to as he has been hidden from the Kaiser's troops in the cellar of the Briecourt church. If he is found out, he and several villagers will die.

This is an intriguing historical tale with a romantic subplot enhancing the deep look at life during an occupation. Juliette is terrific as the lead protagonist who holds the insightful story line together as her love with Charles is pure and in stark contrast to a village filled with the seven deadly sins. Readers will enjoy this cautionary tale that resonates today at a time when outright lies by leaders are acceptable because the mean no longer matters if the end is achieved.

Just Between You And Me
Jenny B. Jones
Thomas Nelson
9781595548511 $14.99

Maggie does not have the T-shirt, but she survived the death of her mom when she was a child and the martinet demands of her dad. Instead Maggie lives for her work as a globetrotting cinematographer unlike her drug abusing sister Allison.

Her dad begs her to come home to help him with his eight year old troubled granddaughter Riley as Allison dumped her before running away. Reluctantly, Maggie agrees though she knows any family involvement means trouble and heartache. Back home, all that she fled from hammers at Maggie's soul especially when she looks into the messed up eyes of Riley. On the positive side there is Connor the veterinarian.

The key to this strong look at a family in crisis is each of the four prime players seems real with their dependence on varying defense mechanisms in order to survive relational demands. Maggie puts up a bold front to hide her distrust of relationships as Connor knows first hand; Allison hides behind drug abuse; Riley pretends she does not care; and dad feels overwhelmed so he keeps his emotional distance to hide his fear of failure. Though the ending is too pat and obvious, using pathos, wit, and humor, Jenny B. Jones provides her audience with a profound family character study of a Jack and his three descendent Jills struggling like the Cowardly Lion to find courage and have cake too .

Spirit of the Badge: 60 True Police Stories of Divine Guidance, Miracles & Intuition
Ingrid P. Dean
Topaz Heart
4836 N. Indian Lake Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686
9780982082409 $17.95

These sixty short contributions from various types of Michigan law enforcement officials are not just inspirational, which they are. The entries provide a deep look at what goes through the minds of police officers as they risk their lives. The compilation is further divided into a variety of topics to include: angels and apparitions; dreams and intuition; healing with humor, signs, symbols, and synchronicity; lessons of the heart; and unexplainable phenomena. However, that is irrelevant as the audience will appreciate each true life short story as they all are well written and seem to come from the heart and soul of the police officer. This is a strong engaging collection whether it is the sergeant looking back at his late mom's vision of his uniform, the bird pecking at a McDonald's bag that has the bomb squad fearing an explosion, the officer finding the teenage suicide victim before the wild animals run off with the corpse and take away parental closure, herding a drunken bear, or the premonition not to peak through the last window. Aptly titled, an appreciative audience will agree that Ingrid P Dean and her contributors figuratively and literally live up to the SPIRIT OF THE BADGE.

Darkness Rising
Elissa Wilds
Love Spell
9780505527929 $6.99

The Light God Mobius is head of the Divine Council, but his current concern is the safety of tough Balancer Aurora. Besides the fear that the Umbrae forces of the dark or the Finders want their enemy dead, he believes she is the reincarnation of his love. He decides to protect her so he travels to earth.

They team up in an effort to identify who is actually behind the persistent attacks on her. However Mobius hides from Aurora that he also investigates her to ascertain whether his strong hunch about her past life is true. As they dig with the help of her coven, he may be a God, but is distracted so he misses the betrayal is from within; if he fails to learn who is betraying them, death will arrive.

The sequel to the complex Wilds' world (see BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK) is a super save the earth thriller starring an alleged reincarnation and the God who believes he has loved her once before. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Mobius strips away his doubts about whether Aurora is or is not his reincarnated love by deciding to protect her until he knows for certain. Fans will enjoy this complex look at love and relationships as even Mobius like the Memorex commercial wonders whether he loves his memory or the present real person. All this occurs while they battle betrayal and evil.

Dark Legacy
Anna DeStefano
Love Spell
9780505528193 $6.99

Twin sisters Maddie and Sarah Temple inherited something paranormal that neither understood and their mom hid behind a facade of denial. The siblings had each other though they were opposites as Maddie was light and Sarah was dark. However, a horrific accident shatters the family as their dad dies and Sarah becomes comatose.

Maddie and her mom move on. However after a decade of not hearing Sarah's voice in her head, Maddie begins to hear her twin. Her mom lied to her re Sarah and now Maddie knows her sister has been part of a government experiment to deploy psychic skills as a weapon. Their effort has released the dark side of Sarah without Maddie's light to mute the evil. Maddie vows to save her sibling and overcome the DARK LEGACY curse that passed through generations of her ancestors including her mother; her boyfriend, Jarrod Keith vows to save both twins.

This is a great twisting thriller starring twins who are yin and yang to one another and a hero willing to die to keep his beloved safe while helping her find her sibling, who is more in the shadows that mute the dark. The story line is fast-paced from the onset especially once Maddie knows the truth about her DARK LEGACY compounded by her mother's betrayal and desertion. She and Harrod make a strong team, but their fight against those who have experimented with Sarah seems like climbing Mt. Everest in high heels (even if we have come a long way).

Sliding Home
Kate Angell
Love Spell
9780505528087 $7.99

Richmond Rogues starting left fielder Kason Rhodes arrives home following spring training. However, he is in for a rude awakening upon opening the door to his mobile home. Dayne Sheridan lives there claiming squatter's rights as he obviously abandoned his abode.

He wants her out as the only companion he needs is Cimarron his dog. Dayne, who had sworn off men after a recent betrayal, keeps bribing him with food. However, she feels he is an unemployed squatter like her instead of the owner and a baseball star. As they fall in love, he fears he will strike out when she learns the truth as to who he is. He believess his Dayne will intentionally walk out on him.

The latest Rogues baseball romance continues the saga of a team apparently filled with bachelors enjoying the single life in Richmond finding true love (see STRIKE ZONE, CURVEBALL and SQUEEZE PLAY). The story line is faster than Ichiro Suzuki can run to first base or Ricky Henderson stealing a base; yet the characters including hot dog Cimarron are fully developed. Although similar in tone as a one pitch tale, SLIDING HOME is an engaging fast splitter sports romance as another Rogue falls in love.

Robert Greer
9781555916893 $24.95

Teen T.J. Darley is driving on I-90 in Hardin, Montana when he picks up hitchhiker Spoon who is half Indian and half Black. He is wearing an expensive hat, but no boots. Sam tells T.J. he seeks his roots and believes he might find information on his past soon. T.J. questions the drifter's qualifications on ranch work and likes what he hears. He brings Spoon to his parents' spread The Willow Creek Ranch as he wants his family to hire Sam as they desperately need an experienced hand,

Spoon proves he knows how to work at a ranch, but he also fears trouble is coming as he has had a premonition. A drought will add problems to the family as well as a coal company that wants the land cheap; Acosta Energy gets what it wants at the price it will pay. When the father of J.T. rejects the offer, all kinds of dirty tricks occur to destroy the family. However, the Darley brood and Spoon fight back, but during a confrontation an accident occurs that if not rectified could destroy all the ranchers and their families.

SPOON is a fascinating character who while seeking his roots finds a family in the Darleys who treat him as one of them. In turn he has their backs against Acosta and its dirty tricks. Readers learn how much hard work it takes to run a Big Sky ranch successfully and how fast big business can run down a ranch or other property when the "need" suits the suits. Though his side of the dispute is apparent, Robert Greer has written a thought provoking work as environmentalists and energy companies fight over land usage.

13 1/2
Nevada Barr
9781593155537 $25.95

In 1971 eleven year old Dylan Raines killed his entire family except his older brother Richard whose leg was severely sliced up. Dylan suffered from selective amnesia not recalling how he murdered his father, mother, sister and cat with an ax that put him in the international headlines as Minnesota's "Butcher Boy". Richard takes Dylan from Rochester to New Orleans with him to start over.

Polly Deschamps grew up in Mississippi living in a brutal home. At fifteen she fled into the night vowing to never return. Now she is a professor at Tulane raising two kids as a single mom following a divorce. Polly remarries charming Marshall who is extremely nice to her daughters. However her new spouse acts odd at times and her brother-in-law Danny is even stranger; which begins to frighten her.

With Anna Pigeon taking a breather, Nevada Barr provides a compelling psychological thriller that grips the audience from the start to the finish in a one sitting family drama. The story line is character driven as the strong casts including powerful secondary players like the tarot card reader make for a tremendous tense tale.

Savage Dawn
Cassie Edwards
9780843958805 $7.99

In 1850 for the safety of his Owl Clan tribe Chief Eagle Wolf leaves to die alone as he believes he suffers from the highly contagious white man's revenge smallpox. At the same time he leaves his people, Nicole Tyler travels from St. Louis to Tyler City, Utah where her parents live in hopes of using her recently earned teaching certificate.

Instead of being greeted in euphoric welcome home by her parents, Nicole arrives to a gruesome site; every one of the townsfolk has been murdered and the psychopath Sam Partain stalks her as he holds a grudge against her for rejecting his advances; besides he logically knows no witness can be left alive to blame a white man as the rumors throughout Utah are an Indian massacre occurred. Nicole escapes racing alone up the nearby mountains with a killer in pursuit. She runs into a feverish Indian whom she nurses back to health from measles. Eagle Wolf and Nicole fall in love as they flee an obstinate predator.

This is an exciting well written, but typical Savage historical romance starring two likable but totally diverse lifestyle lead players. The key stars are out of Cassie Edwards casting 101 with a noble male Indian, a tolerant white woman, and a crazed white male. Although the story line has been used a seemingly quadrillion times by Ms. Edwards, her fans will relish Nicole's efforts to adapt to an increasingly outraged tribe trying to survive the white tsunami.

The Asylum Prophecies
Daniel Keyes
9780843962710 $7.99

A coalition of terrorists have merged with a plan to deploy Operation Dragon's Teeth that will make 9/11 look like a quiet day at the park. The only person outside of gangs who knows of the specifics of the upcoming assault is Raven Slade, the daughter of a CIA field operative; resident of a mental institution in Athens, Greece as she suffers from multiple personality disorder (MPD) and talks with her dead sister.

Her father hypnotized Raven to insure she cannot reveal what she knows about 17N and MeK to anyone even the FBI or CIA until they are defeated. However, she is kidnapped and tortured by one of the terrorist groups, the 17N. Rookie FBI agent Frank Dugan is sent to Europe to prevent the plot scheduled for 17 November by the Mujhadeen-e Kalq starting with rescuing Raven so he can learn what she knows.

This is a fast-paced action-packed thriller from the strange opening scene in the Athens hospital and never slows down until the climax. However, readers need to set aside their plausibility meter as several spins like the hypnosis and sending a novice to prevent a major terrorist attack seem farfetched even with late denouements. Still fans of Daniel Keyes will enjoy this exciting tale mostly seen through the hypnotized mindset of an alleged MPD sufferer with voices on her head.

To Tempt A Knight
Gerri Russell
9780843962598 $6.99

In 1331 Templar Sir William Keith escaped the Papal-French monarch betrayal that killed most of his compatriots. He manages to return to Scotland seeking the home of Sir John Fraser; in spite of the danger he vows loyalty to no one except the Lord.

William plans to find a treasured holy artifact the Spear of Destiny to keep safe. Instead of reaching fellow templar Sir John, who was guarding the relic, he finds the man's concerned daughter Lady Siobhan with the Spear missing and her dad abducted. William widens his pledge to keep Siobhan safe as even family members of a Templar are fair game by La Roche and his murderous band. Together, Siobhan and William also search for the holy Spear and her father while falling in love. However, his oath to God includes a celibacy promise as for instance her father understands having pledged Templar celibacy just before learning he sired an offspring.

This is a profound historical romance that looks deeply at the templar lifestyle just after the betrayal wiped out much of the order. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple hooks up and never slows as William feels like he has three (his natural hardened sword) and often four (his metallic sword) legs throughout much of the plot. Fans of Templar survival romantic suspense will enjoy TO TEMPT A KNIGHT as the hero's biggest problem is his attraction for the woman he has vowed to keep safe.

Elliot Krieger
9781569475898 $24.00

American war protesters have found sanctuary in Canada and Sweden. In fact the European nation welcomes those dodging the draft and soldiers going AWOL. American Lenny Spiegel leaves the states as a draft resistor settling in Uppsala. He is immediately welcomed by American Resisters Movement, who consists of draft dodgers, AWOL soldiers and anti-war protesters. U.S. Army deserter Aaronson leads the motley group of expatriate Americans.

Spiegel looks so much like Aaronson, he was arrested back home for crimes the other committed. With that in mind, Aaronson borrows Spiegel's passport insisting he needs it to travel to Denmark to help other defectors as he cannot use his own because he would be arrested. When Aaronson fails to return, a panicky Spiegel has no identification to prove who he is even as he yearns to just go home. While everyone in the group assumes he is Aaronson, the real Aaronson is in West Germany pretending to be Spiegel; who now fears his doppelganger has plans for a terrorist act in his name.

Once the players are set, this is a stupendous look with a great twist at the Vietnam War protesters who were welcome to settle in Sweden. The spin is terrific as Spiegel finds himself a stranger in a strange land with seemingly no way out of the hole he helped Aaronson dig him in. Elliot Krieger provides fans with a taut character driven thriller that never slows down as fans anticipate a showdown, but will wonder how can Spiegel make it happen.

How to Rob an Armored Car
Iain Levinson
9781569475997 $15.00

In Pennsylvania Mitch Alden manages an Accu-mart store; he also struggles with the stress and poverty level wages by buying weed to numb the work. However, his purchase fails to help this time as he becomes introspective wondering why he would spend his last money on getting high in order to get through his shift.

Mitch needs a new source of income to pay for his numbing devicers: beer and drugs. He persuades two friends, married father Kevin and Doug who is having an affair with his buddy's wife to help heist a TV from the store. The three feel a natural high, which encourages the planner of the trio Mitch to go for something more expensive. However, the gang who can't walk straight (nod to Jimmy Breslin) fail at swiping a Ferrari from a doctor, but become teammates with him trying to sell his Oxycontin hoard. That is half of an afternoon as Mitch and his buds dream of the million dollar deal.

Timely with the economic recession, HOW TO ROB AN ARMORED CAR is a tense yet amusing crime thriller as working class slackers go after the American dream by stealing their way to wealth only doing it the lower middle class way through hard core robberies. The story line is character driven mostly by the three amigos but also to a lesser degree their new business partner. Fans will enjoy Iain Levinson's entertaining look at DOG EAT DOG working class capitalists.

As If By Magic
Dolores Gordon-Smith
9781569475881 $25.00

In the 1920s in London, South African expatriate George Lassiter breaks into a house he believes is empty. However, instead he hears voices in what sounds like the murder of a woman. Not sure what to do, he goes to leave quietly only the police arrest him accusing him of attempted burglary.

He tells the cops what he believes happened inside the house, but they find no evidence of a homicide. Private investigator Jack Haldean learns of his WWI flying mate's problems and goes to get him out of jail. George explains to Jack what he heard, why he was in the house and who owns it. Jack believes George that a murder probably occurred and that he was cheated by an impostor out of his inheritance. Jack investigates and learns the owners of the house are relatives of George who probably abetted the con artist who stole his bequest. Jack begins to piece together something more horrifying as an apparent serial killer is the loose while London remains ignorant.

The third Jack Haldean 1920s whodunit (see A FATE WORST THAN DEATH and MAD ABOUT THE BOY) is a terrific historical mystery that brings to life London through the eyes of an emigre author just after WWI. The story line is fast-paced from the moment George breaks into a house he believes he owns. Fans will relish Jack's inquiry as he finds much more than he expected.

Skeleton Hill
Peter Lovesey
9781569475980 $24.00

During a reenactment of the English Civil War battle at Lansdown between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, participant Bristol University Professor Rupert Hope and another "corpse" leave the scene to share a beer or six. While drinking, the pair finds a human femur that they assume was three and half centuries old so should be re-buried.

A bit more sober, Rupert returns to the scene of the burial to dig back up the bone to show off to his students only to be hammered in the head. Soon afterward Inspector Peter Diamond investigates the bone; he and his team find the rest of the remains of an unknown woman except the skull. As Rupert recovers from a concussion, he is killed. Diamond assumes a connection between the skeleton and the academia's murder in which the investigation upsets his boss, high society, and the Bristol CID.

This terrific English police procedural is owned as always by Diamond who blunders and steps on feet while working to solve two homicides that occurred years apart. His theory is to solve one solves the other. Fans will enjoy his misadventures in the Bath region as Peter Lovesey provides his audience with a bit of history, geography, and culture wrapped inside an amusing yet well written investigate tale filled with super twists. Inspector Diamond is 24 carets in his latest inquiry (see THE SECRET HANGMAN).

Evil for Evil
James R. Benn
9781569475935 $25.00

In 1943 former Boston police officer Army Lieutenant Billy Boyle works on the staff of his uncle by marriage to General Dwight Eisenhower. He is assigned to look into a damaging raid of an American army depot in Northern Ireland in which thieves stole 50 Browning automatic rifles plus 200,000 rounds of ammunition; the brass fears IRA activity using the stolen weapons and the encouragement of the Nazis to disrupt the allies especially Great Britain.

Not too far from the depot, the assassinated corpse of an IRA agent is found; in his hand is a pound note which signifies he was killed for being an informer. While Billy makes his official inquiry looking for a German-IRA connection, he fears he is biased as he and his family support the Republican position even as both sides of the religious divide threaten his investigation.

The latest Billy Boyle WWII mystery (see THE FIRST WAVE and BLOOD ALONE) is a terrific tale of intrigue as the hero struggles with his known personal bias and the suspicion from both sides of the Irish divide. Still Billy is an ethical protagonist who works the case one clue at a time while receiving no cooperation from his superiors and the locals. James R. Benn provides a superb historical whodunit.

High Crimes on the Magical Plane
Kris Neri
Red Coyote
9780976673354 $16.95

Samantha Brennan is a con artist from a long line of grifters; at the moment she is doing a psychic medium gig as she dresses the part of a gypsy. Her client is Dodie Drake who lives in the luxurious apartment in the Bonne Chance. As she goes to her client's home, Samantha sees a car filled with clowns whom she assumes are the stalkers of another tenant actress Molly Crane. Being a good neighbor Sam purloins a keycard and enters the actress' penthouse where she finds a dead male and Molly missing.

Sam goes to the FBI and talks to Special Agent Annabelle Haggerty. The two women enter the penthouse together while discussing the clowns probably abducted Molly. A task force is formed with Annabelle demanding Sam be on it. Soon afterward someone tries to kill Sam, but Haggerty saves her life and brings her into her home. Sam soon realizes her protector is a Celtic goddess who has visions that she sends to Sam so she can tell others concerning Molly. This way Annabelle can hide her alterego. Sam falls in love with a god and realizes brownies, gnomes and elves exist. Something dark and evil is coming to Los Angeles causing riots and gang warfare in its malevolent wake. Sam knows Haggerty is in trouble when this malevolence arrives; so she refuses to leave her friend alone.

Sam and Annabelle are the oddest couple with the former wanting to be what the latter is and the latter wanting to be what the former is. Confusing not at all as each envies the life of the other. Annabelle just wants to be an FBI agent as her goddess duties at times is overwhelming while Sam the shyster ponders what she could get away with if she had the goddess powers. This pairing make for a wonderful combination of a lighthearted yet also deep spellbinding urban fantasy mystery.

Leaving Carolina
Tamara Leigh
9781601421661 $13.99

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina taking an embarrassing secret with her that she prayed she would never have to be revealed. She worked hard at public relations and has come a long way from her roots; especially with her engagement to a Congressman.

However, she had not thought deep into the future until she learns her Uncle Obe probably is dying and his will most likely will reveal her humiliating secret. Piper rushes home to persuade her uncle not to do so. Whole back in Pickwick, Piper deals with her estranged relatives and her uncle's godson, Axel Smith whose religious belief begins to give Piper hope that she might forgive those who hurt her.

This is an engaging tale that makes a strong argument that veracity is the key in developing strong loving relationships; anything less than the truth harms yourself and others. The story line is character driven mostly by Piper trying to conceal her past. Although the action is limited and at times deliberately rambles at a rustic leisurely pace, Fans will enjoy Tamara Leigh's inspirational witty tale that second chance forgiveness and redemption is a natural part of a family when given the chance.

The Hidden Oasis
Paul Sussman
Atlantic Monthly
9780802119186 $24.00

In Egypt, former CIA operative Alex Hannen commits suicide. Her estranged sister American mountain climber Freya arrives in Cairo for her funeral; but even before reaching Egypt, she has had a hard time picturing Alex killing herself. In Cairo, Freya quickly concludes that her sibling was murdered because the doctor who ruled suicide had no idea her sister could not have injected morphine into herself as Alex was down right phobic in her fears of needles. Though they had a schism Freya vows to get justice for her sibling.

Frey becomes friends of Alex's buddy, pre-dynasty Egyptologist Flin Brodie, who is working a dig in the western desert in search of the legendary lost for almost four millennia at theOasis at the End of the World of Zerzura. As he gets closer to the find of the century, Flin and Freya are soon in deep trouble from assassins who may be working for the government.

The third Egyptian archeological thriller (see THE LOST ARMY OF CAMBYSES and THE LAST SECRET OF THE TEMPLE) is a fast-paced action-packed thriller that keeps reader attention throughout even with some enigmatic late implausible twists. Like its two predecessors the story line has a modern day Indiana Jones like feel to it as one thing leads to another especially when Freya and Flin meet. Fans will enjoy Paul Sussman's solid though by the book suspense saga as the lead couple appear reaching their end in ironically a paradise Oasis at the End of the World.

Rough Country
John Sandford
9780399155987 $26.95

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers is in a fishing tournament when his boss Lucas Davenport calls him. Lucas directs Virgil to investigate the shooting death of Minneapolis ad executive with strong ties to the Democrats Erica McDill at the nearby Eagle Nest Lodge.

Virgil quickly heads to the Grand Rapids to learn what he can at the lodge. He interviews owner Margery Stanhope, who explains most people who stay at the lodge are lesbians. Virgil questions the all girl rock band and wealthy guests who can purchase young men or women for a tryst without blinking. As Virgil investigates he learns there was a homicide here last year that seems unrelated, but now he seeks a link when a third killing occurs. He knows he better find the killer before another homicides occur.

The setting of the lodge being a place for lesbians to relax and have fun makes for a great counter to super womanizer Virgil, who is at his outlandish amusing best as he muses whether he is in heaven or hell. The investigation is super with Virgil adjusting his theory to new clues and especially another homicide. Fans who enjoy the Davenport police procedurals will enjoy the terrific efforts of one of his detectives (see DARK OF THE MOON and HEAT LIGHTNING) whose behavior is quite different from that of his superior.

Box 21
Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom
9780374282950 $26.00

Twenty-five years ago in Stockholm, criminal Jochum Lang left cop Anni Grens an invalid. Her spouse police detective Ewert Grens vowed to insure this punk never got freed. Now Jochum walks; but Grens, ignoring the pleading of his long time crony Bengt Nordwell to move on, stalks him looking to find something to return the SOB to prison.

Grens and his partner Sundkvist arrive at a violent crime scene. Teenage Lithuanian prostitute Lydia Grajauskas was nearly killed by her Russian pimp. The Swedish detectives learn that Lydia and Alena Sljusareva were tricked into coming from Lithuania to Sweden three years ago under the ruse of legitimate employment, but sold as sex slaves instead; Jochum the enforcer is involved with the ring to Grens' glee. However while at Soder Hospital recovering from the beating, Lydia fearing deportation takes hostages.

This is a super Swedish police procedural with several twists and spins as what related events that happened over the past quarter of a century are told in alternating chapters with what is occurring in the present. The fast-paced story line is character driven as the audience will feel the hatred Ewert does not try to hide as his reason for living is to destroy Lang like he did Anni. Fans who appreciate a refreshing different type of police procedural will want to read BOX 21 as Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom keeps the readers off kilter, past and present.

Kristin Cashore
Dial (Penguin)
9780803734616 $17.99

About three decades before the adventures of Katsa and Po in GRACELING in the Kingdom of the Dells reside the monsters with incredibly delicate beautiful coloring. However, the realm is changing as seventeen year old Fire is the last human monster who has the ability to read minds and more significantly control people mentally.

Her corrupt father served as the prime adviser to the pathetic King Nax until the monarch's recent death, which his advisor caused. The new ruler King Nash and his brother Commander Brigan want Fire on their side of the apparent upcoming civil war for obvious reasons. Meanwhile her sire who exiled her to the countryside does not want to lose his position of affluence and power so will do anything including selling out his country, his king, and his daughter.

Although set before the heroine of Graceling is born and in another country with only one reasonably important tie between the novels, fans will fully appreciate stand alone FIRE, a strong profound thriller starring an incredible lead monster. Fire has psychological issues over using her powers as directed by her father and her king, but understands her dilemma because her mind control would probably lead to less blood flowing, yet free will is a right she believes in. Fans will enjoy this strong drama as security and liberty are debated inside an exciting fast-paced character driven tale that ironically will lead to a demand for a tweener book that ties the female heroines, Fire and Katsa, together.

When Autumn Leaves
Amy S. Foster
9781590202555 $14.95

Avening is a small town on the Pacific coast; a magical hamlet populated by people with psychic powers. Autumn is a member of the group Jaen, who watches over humanity as they have even before mankind invented the wheel. She has spent a considerably long time in Avening, whose residents see her as a kind witch keeping track of the magical undercurrents that encourage natural gifts to bloom.

Now the Jaen has promoted Autumn and directed her to select and mentor her replacement; she has one year to pick from a group of fifty seemingly worthy people. She initiates a contest starting with an essay with the winner getting her Book of Shadows that contains magical knowledge that will enable the next witch to get off to a good start because first impressions are critical. On Autumn's last day in town she has select twelve people to join the Jaen but finding the thirteenth who will be her successor and the leader proves more difficult. The clock is ticking with only hours left and Autumn doesn't have a clue where to find the thirteenth.

There are many believable characters with a wide range of differing personalities and talents throughout the small town, but the star is Avening, a remarkable place that is the product of one woman's dream. Even with a thin plot, this is a remarkably enchanting fantasy as each potentially chosen one brings differing magical skills to the table adding to Autumn's dilemma. Character driven, fans who relish something dramatically different will encourage Autumn while singing the Lovin' Spoonful's "Did you ever have to make up your mind; Pick up on one and leave the other behind; It's not often easy and not often kind; Did you ever have to make up".

Fire in the East
Harry Sidebottom
9781590202463 $14.95

By AD 255, the Roman Empire struggles to maintain order especially in the outlying sectors as barbarians and infidels pose viable threats as Command and Control is almost nonexistent. Emperors Valerian and Gallienus send the honorary Dux Ripea, Marcus Clodius Bastilla, to take command of the legion on the eastern border.

Marcus leaves his wife in Rome and travels to his new outpost. He arrives in Arete, Syria where his force is struggling to defend against the overwhelming Sassanid Persian army. He expects reinforcements but has no idea how many or when. Meanwhile, he finds treachery and betrayal from within as traitors, especially amongst the elite patrician officers, resent someone who was not even a citizen too long ago ordering them about and the Persians have assassins trying to kill him.

This is an intriguing historical thriller that has relevance today as Harry Sidebottom provides insight into how destructive the Roman Empire can be to defend its freedoms by destroying those very liberties with security enforcement filled with bloody battles. The story line is action-packed from the moment Marcus says good bye to his wife as he deploys where he is unwanted and knows treachery and betrayal will be the norm as no one has his back except for perhaps stabbing him there.. Fans will relish this first Warriors of Rome profound thought provoking ancient historical military thriller as Mr. Sidebottom makes a strong but bloody case affirming Benjamin Franklin's "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security".

The Pawn
Steven James
9780451412799 $7.99

FBI environmental criminologist Patrick Bowers is sent to Asheville, North Carolina to analyze the corpses of several murdered women in order to precisely determine time and place based on the environmental clues. The serial killer leaves behind a yellow ribbon tied to the hair of the victims and a chess piece nearby.

Bowers begins to tie the clues together, but fears his suspicion might prove politically explosive as he suspects the state governor Sebastian Taylor, who is expected to make a strong run for president, is in the middle of the homicides. Bowers also finds a connection with a cult and Jonestown. With some run-ins with the special agent in charge, Bowers focuses on the case while hiding his grief over his wife's recent death and fathering a churlish seventeen year old stepdaughter Tessa who wants nothing to do with him as she feels her parents abandoned her; unaware the Illusionist is watching him.

THE PAWN is a super FBI serial killer police procedural starring a unique full blooded hero. Patrick is terrific as an environmental forensic expert while turning to God to help him through his grief and family crisis; as he does not know how deal with his or his stepdaughter's grief. The serial killer is a bit typical of the genre while the governor is not. Fans will enjoy this fine chess match between Bowers and the Illusionist.

Storm of Shadow
Christina Dodd
9780451228130 $7.99

Aaron Eagle has used his paranormal skill of becoming a mist as a thief. However, now he is one of the Chosen so he feels a strong sense of purpose to use his gift to help fulfill the prophecy and as a form of redemption. While his Chosen teammates remains stunned with the destruction of their base (see STORM OF VISION), he seeks his soulmate to help him on the quest.

Antiquities librarian Rosamund Hill is a pragmatist like her dad; she scoffs at her late mom's belief in the legend of the Chosen Ones. Her belief system is devastated with a knock on her door. Aaron has come for his Rosamund, who struggles with believing he wants her and trying to accept that her mom was right. However Aaron has competition for Rosamund, who cannot believe two hunks want her.

STORM OF SHADOW is a fabulous Chosen Ones urban romantic fantasy that follows up from the first entry, STORM OF VISION; thus that book should be read first to fill in the background. The relationship between the librarian and the former thief is terrific, but it is the battle and fears of failure; their mentors understand sending an inexperienced team into combat in which danger is everywhere and betrayal is the norm can get them killed; while the key seventh Chosen has not been found and the records destroyed that make this work a stupendous thriller. Christina Dodd is two for two.

Thirteen Chances
Cindy Miles
9780451227829 $6.99

Eight centuries ago, Christian of Arrick by the Sea and Emma fell madly in love. However a spell was muddled leaving him a ghost and her dead. She is reincarnated every seventy-two years only to die almost as soon as she finds her true love.

Christian has new hope after numerous failures. The three Ballaster white witch sisters have taken up the cursed lovers' cause hoping to find a way to end the misfortune. Twelve times so far they have come together only each time has ended tragically. The spell is dangerous and failure means no more future hopes.

This is a terrific reincarnation romance starring two likable protagonists whom the audience will root for making it this time. Added to the excitement of a strong urban romantic fantasy are the tie-ins to the Miles pantheon as characters from MACGOWAN'S GHOST, SPIRITED AWAY, INTO THIN AIR, and HIGHLAND KNIGHT are linked in some way to the hero; though this is clearly a stand alone. The witches have one chance to mate the souls while the cursed couple has one last chance for their souls to mate as the bond of love so far has proven futile; this is extreme pressure. Cindy Miles provides to her fans another super thriller.

Black At Heart
Leslie Parrish
9780451227812 $6.99

Black Cat computer guru Lily Fletcher has proven a god send to the field operatives working to bring down Internet predators. Team leader Wyatt Blackstone especially appreciates Lily, but also hides how attracted he is to her. When she dies in an operation (see PITCH BLACK) Wyatt grieves the loss of a teammate and his failure to tell her how much he wanted her.

At her funeral, Wyatt receives a call from a severely injured Lily, who escaped her abductor, but is in mortal trouble. Wyatt and Brandon Cole bring her home, but the frightened Lily cannot identify her culprit. She persuades the agents to let her remain dead for now. Soon afterward, a serial killer leaves "lilies" with the bodies; someone has targeted his Lily and Wyatt plans to give the predator a wreath when he brings the psychopath down.

The third Black CAT romantic suspense thriller (see PITCH BLACK and FADE TO BLACK) is a super tale that follows up directly from the events of the previous book with a deep focus on Wyatt who goes from grief over the loss of the teammate he loves to a myriad of feelings when she whispers to him over the phone to come save her life. The story line is fast-paced yet perspectives change as Leslie Parrish juggles her cast nicely adding to the intrigue and suspense. Fans will enjoy Blackstone and his Black Cats teammates going after the one left behind only to cleverly change into an exhilarating serial killer mystery with all the clues pointing at hacker Lily of the field.

Spirited Brides
Amanda McCabe
9780451227836 $6.99

"One Touch of Magic". Former British military officer Miles Rutledge plans to help veterans by using his uncle's vast estate that he will inherit. Last year, Sarah Iverson and her late archeologist spouse were working a dig of an eight century old Viking village on Miles' land that she wants to complete to honor her deceased husband. She is attracted to Miles and visa versa from first sight, but he has a different vision for his property than she has.

"A Loving Spirit". With the deaths of her parents, Cassandra "Cassie" Richards accompanied by her friend Antoinette Duvall comes home. The BFFs and Cassie's "Aunt Chat" head to Royce Castle to stay with the Dowager Melinda Leighton and her son Phillip, an earl. Cassie and Antoinette relish that the five-century old Cornwall castle has ghosts. Cassie and logical Phillip are attracted to one another though they cannot find any common ground beyond their desire.

These are two delightful reprints from 2003 of fun Regency paranormal romances starring a likable cast of characters including the ghosts that haunt each novel. Perhaps the only major negative is whether secondary characters especially sisters and best friends had their tales told in other historicals.

The Eleventh Victim
Nancy Grace
9781401303457 $25.99

Atlanta ADA Hailey Dean lost her fiance when he was killed in a violent assault. That harrowing incident sent her to law school and the Office of the DA. However needing to leave the city, she prosecutes her last case successfully; convicting Clint Burrell Cruise for the serial killings of eleven prostitutes. Almost immediately after winning the case, Hailey resigns and moves to Manhattan.

Two years later, Hailey has left the law and become a therapist as she had planned before her beloved was murdered. However, she is shocked when someone begins murdering her patients using the same method that Cruise used. NYPD suspects Dean has lost it and is the person of interest as they find something of hers at a murder scene.

Although the plausibility factor is over the top of the empire State building and the key cast stereotyped from serial killer 101, fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller that effortlessly switches point of view from distraught frightened avenging Hailey to the calm simmering angry killer. Readers will enjoy THE ELEVENTH VICTIM as Court TV reporter Nancy Grace uses her real life as part of the core of this exhilarating chilling serial killer thriller.

Swan Dive
Michael Burke
Pleasure Boat Studio
9781929355501 $15.00

Investment company CEO George Fuller hires private investigator Johnny "Blue" Heron to ascertain whether his son Castor is cheating on his fiancee prim and proper Beverly Whitney. Although the case seems odd due to the client's relationship with the target, Blue accepts the job.

Not long after agreeing to investigate, a hulk of a chauffeur invites Blue into a black limo; inside is Beverly's father Douglas who has plans to merge his investment firm with that of George. He offers Blue a bribe to bag the case as he wants their offspring married regardless of what his future son-in-law does or does not re womanizing. Even more bewildered, Blue finds the case goes over the top when he finds Castor's corpse.

With similarity to the Greek mythology Leda and the Swan, SWAN DIVE is an intriguing intelligent contemporary American mystery. The story line is complicated for those unaware of the Greek mythos; which is worth a read before this whodunit. Blue is a solid detective who feels less a heron and more a fish caught by a swan. Fans who know the mythos will relish his inquiry as each lead turns his case upside down; others will wonder about the ties that bind.

Never Marry a Stranger
Gayle Callen
9780061235078 $6.99

In 1845 Captain Matthew Leland returns home to England to inform his family he did not die in India as reported. When he left for overseas duty, his parents were estranged, but they seem reconciled as they enthusiastically greet him. He is stunned when they introduce him to his wife Emily as he knows his spouse died in India. He pretends he has amnesia and does not recognize her as he wants to avoid scandal and learn what her scam is. Matthew admires her reactions to his probing as she brazenly responds without tipping her hand.

Arthur Stanwood knows he is in trouble with his debtors. He seeks Emily who escaped from his control. The next day Matthew's two sisters are excited to see him. Matthew also notices how his family and the servants love Emily and she seems to cherish each one of them. They take a walk and she promises to help him remember. Having learned of the miraculous return in the paper, Stanwood sends a note to Emily informing her he knows the truth. She fears him knowing he murdered the Vicar Tillman for helping her. Matthew sees her toss the letter in the fire and removes it. He has proof of her duplicity, but not why. As they fall in love, each knows the other lies to protect his family, but neither knows why while Stanwood demands payment or else.

The spinning relationship between the lead couple is excellent starting with his coming home from the "dead" to a "wife". His family is fully developed and Emily has changed them from estranged to loving; however she is too perfect as everyone loves her. Still fans will appreciate this fine Victorian romance as those who dare to trust in love triumph every time.

Sins of the Father
Angela Benson
9780061468520 $13.99

Feeling remorse that he never recognized his two children from out of wedlock and encouraged by a letter his late mom left him, Abraham Martin, after informing his beloved wife Saralyn what he did three decades ago just before he married her, admits he sired Michael and Deborah with their mom Leah. His revelation upsets his son, Isaac, who quits abruptly the family business, MEEG. As he tries to develop a relationship with the two adults he abandoned when they were babies and patch up the split with Isaac, Leah demands Abraham take care of his other offspring.

Deborah welcomes his efforts and is elated he has given her a firm to manage while her brother Michael rejects everything offered by Abraham to him. His acrimony impacts his relationships with his mom and wife Josette as he is filled with rage and a thirst of vengeance. Isaac also takes his anger with his dad into his relationship with his spouse Rebecca. Meanwhile the only seemingly contented child of his since his pronouncement Deborah is attracted to Abraham's attorney, Alan Weems, who is the same age as her parents, which has her mom worried that her daughter seeks a father figure.

With a modernizing of the relationships of the biblical Abraham, Angela Benson provides an engaging contemporary drama. The story line feels like a soap opera as one melodramatic event follows another. Still the cast is full dimensional (even Abraham's late mother) with each reacting differently to the patriarch's revelations. Fans will appreciate the SINS OF THE FATHER as Abraham's efforts for redemption seem to have fallen apart as his past transgressions with two women appears to be repeated by his offspring.

Her Inheritance Forever
Lynn Cote
9780061373435 $12.99

In 1836 someone hired a rogue Comanche to abduct Alandra Sandoval. Her guardian Quinn and a ranch hand Scully Falconer rescue her. Quinn, his wife Dorritt and Alandra believes whoever was behind the kidnapping covets her ranch that she will soon run.

However, upon returning to her spread, she also finds her paternal family who were not there for her when her brother died wants the rancho. As rebellion is in the air leaving it undecided whether Mexican or Tejano law will rule in Texas, Alandra and Scully agree to a marriage of convenience to protect her interests in whatever court has jurisprudence. Scully is half way in love with Alandra, but she is a Creole lady and he is nothing with a nightmare that haunts him. However, as he accompanies Quinn to learn what happened at the Alamo, she is snatched again. This time Scully plans to rescue his beloved wife and persuade her he loves her and wants her forever.

The latest Texas Stars of Destiny historical romance leaves the Era of Good Feelings (see DESIRES OF THE HEART for the story of Quinn and Dorritt) for the uncertain Texas War of Independence period. Fans will feel the anxiety and uncertainty as communication is relatively poor; for instance no one knows what happened at the Alamo. Alandra and Scully are full developed characters who fans will root for while her guardians are going into middle age gracefully and still in love. However, her Mexican family is stereotyped one dimensional avarice thugs. Still fans will enjoy the inspirational adventures of Scully and Alandra as they fall in love while setting some sort of record for kidnappings and rescues.

Passion Untamed
Pamela Palmer
9780061667534 $6.99

The malevolent demonic ones have forced kindhearted witch Skye to kidnap Immortal Feral Warrior Paenther. In the Blue Ridge Mountains to his chagrin, she has him chained; the second time he has been captured by a mage. However, this time he plans to escape to complete his mission to find and rescue Vhyper, but first he must escape his captivity. He seduces his bewitching adversary, but vows vengeance against bewitching mage-woman who has somehow enchanted him.

However, for him and his mates especially Vhyper to escape the trap, Paenther must depend on the witch who already possesses his heart although he fears her betrayal. Skye vows not again; as she plans to keep the Feral Warrior who owns her heart and his associates' safe even tif hat means the cost of her soul.

The third Feral Warriors "untamed" romantic fantasy (see DESIRE UNTAMED and OBSESSION UNTAMED) novel is fast-paced and exciting from the moment an irate Paenther finds himself chained by a beautiful mage and never slows down as his limbs may be unchained but his heart remains chained. The story line contains plenty of action and passion yet also tells somewhat Paenther's back-story of how he became a rookie Feral Warrior in 1738 Virginia. Fans of the saga will fully relish this entry as star-crossed love means to trust with your life, which (no pun intended) is easy, but trusting your band of brothers is hard.

Seduced By His Touch
Tracy Anne Warren
9780061673412 $7.99

In 1809 London, Black Jack Byron is in shell shock when he lost a bet with a turn of a card. To pay off his debt he must marry the daughter of a merchant Grace Danvers. He feels sick but knows he either courts and wins the spinster or go to debtor's prison.

Grace Danvers enjoys her solitude as she no longer believes in love. Her only enjoyment comes from painting. That changes when she meets charming dynamo Jack who must convince her that he loves her. Adding to his stress is a rival, but Jack wins the day. However, soon after they marry, Grace realizes Jack does not love her as his courtship was a sham to pay off his debt to her father. However, Jack has fallen in love with Grace, but must convince her by regaining the trust he cavalierly tossed away.

The latest Byron Regency romance (see TEMPTED BY HIS KISS) is an engaging marriage of convenience tale that reminds this reviewer of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You though a different time and setting. The readers will enjoy the gender war as Jack learns seducing a woman into your bed is easy, keeping her in your life takes work; and he has no guitar to bribe her with.

To Wed A Wicked Earl
Olivia Parker
9780061712784 $6.99

In 1813 Adam Faraday has been a rake forever. Now he needs a bride or he must face the wrath of his dowager grandmother, who will cut off his funds and part of his anatomy. Surprisingly to everyone who assumes him to be a womanizer, he wants one woman, shy Lady Charlotte Greene. He has loved for years though he has hidden his feelings from everyone especially her because she would never settle for a rogue like him.

Charlotte decides she wants Lord Tristan as her husband, but "men never make passes at girls who wear glasses" (Dorothy Parker - the perfect surname). Instead, the wallflower climbs into Adam's bedroom to enlist her best friend's help in her husband campaign though he is the one she truly desires. He agrees to pretend to desire her to make Tristan jealous. Adam asks her to help him survive his grandma by pretending to be his intended wife though he intends to make it happen for real; she also wants him to make it happen for real.

The latest AT THE BRIDE HUNT BALL Regency romance is a fun tale as Charlotte comes out of her web seeking a husband in a comedy of errors as she and Adam hide their feelings behind a not so subtle pretence. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as the lead couple sham a relationship that everyone buys into as they have the look of love is in their eyes. Fans will enjoy returning to the Bride Hunt Ball for the entertaining second card.

A Dark Love
Margaret Carroll
9780061652783 $7.99

In DC Caroline Hughes knows she has had enough from her famous martinet husband, Dr. Porter Moross whose abuse could leave her dead. She believes that if she gets a new identity and relocates in some isolated area across the other side of the Mississippi he would not stalk her Though he will search for her, Peter would never give up being Freudian psychotherapist to a Washington who's who.

On a Greyhound Caroline makes good her escape, accompanied by Pippin the Yorkie, finding shelter two thousand miles from DC as Alice Stevens. There she meets divorced football player Ken Kincaid; both have reasons to not see one another, but the attraction is strong. However, Caroline miscalculated Porter's obsession or his panic attacks as he is coming ever closer paying a PI to find her and willing to give up his practice to take care of personal business.

This is a super suspense thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Caroline leaves and builds up the tension as readers anticipate Porter confronting her. The romantic subplot between Caroline and Ken feels forced and unnecessary as little Caroline can stand on her own. Fans will appreciate the aptly title A DARK LOVE; knowing the obsessed Peter is coming for his beloved.

Ryann Watters and the King's Sword
Eric Reinhold
Creation House
9781599792880 $17.99

In Mount Dora, Florida, the archangel Gabriel directs young Ryann Watters to find the King's Sword. To help him on his heavenly quest, Gabriel gives him a ring, a staff, and a horn. At the same time Gabriel and Ryann discussed the mission, dark winged fallen angel Ekron directs orphan Drake Dunfellow to stop his enemies from binding him; giving him weapons too. Ryann recruits his best friends Atlanta transplant Terrel Peterson and soccer superstar Liddy Thomas to join him on the quest.

The ring leads them to a hidden portal that takes them to Aeliana. After crossing over, in Aeliana, the three buddies meet Drake who tries to prevent them from getting the King's Sword. Drake has allies too as the fight between evil and good on the spiritual plane occurs even with tweeners.

RYANN WATTERS AND THE KING'S SWORD is a super middle school quest fantasy that contains a strong cast especially the four Mt. Dora neighborhood recruits. The spiritual and mundane war hooks the reader from the moment they meet the prime four players (and learn the most intimate secrets of each of them). Young fans will enjoy trekking in Aeliana with the heroic trio who use biblical references of champions overcoming impossible odds to win the day while they battle to prevent Drake and his minion from turning the land into perpetual darkness.

David's Revenge
Hans Werner Kettenbach
Bitter Lemon
9781904738398 $14.95

German school teacher Christian Kestner is shocked to receive a letter from Tbilisi with the civil war going on even though it took four weeks to arrive. David Ninoshvili asks if he can stay with Kestner while in Germany.

Kestner agrees with trepidation. Seven years ago he stayed at the home of Ninoshvili only to have a tryst with his host's wife. Ninoshvili's letter triggers guilt, remorse, and fear that the guest comes to enact vengeance. More bitterly disturbing to Kestner after his guest moves into the spare bedroom is the obvious fact that Ninoshvili seems to get on better with Christina's wife Julia and teenage son Ralf than he does. Soon panic stricken Kestner fearing the loss of his family; he begins to believe he must act before the subversive Georgian asks for asylum.

DAVID'S REVENGE is a timely deep thought provoking tale that is a combination psychological thriller and a historical fiction of Georgia. Kestner's growing paranoia is the prime center of the former while Ninoshvili represents the latter; both are fascinating as each seeks the Golden Fleece defined differently by each of them. The backdrop of religious and ethnic cleansing, "socially right" patriotic nationalism, and anti immigration scapegoat fervor are deeply explored in Germany and to a degree in 1990s Georgia, but could easily have been 2007 America.

Deadly Design
Marian Moore Hill
Pemberley Press
9781935421009 $17.95

In 2002, single mom Millie Kirchner and her nine year old son Danny head to Lynchburg, Virginia where she is a volunteer at an archaeological site; the Poplar Forest, secret retreat of Thomas Jefferson. Her recently widowed friend Alice invited the mother to join the dig while Danny attends camp next door. The women met when they both found out they are heirs along with others to a trust fund set up two centuries ago by a Nathan Henry (see DEADLY WILL).

However, after a near incident with a motorcycle driver whose recklessness reminded her of her ex Jack, she learns that archaeology intern Paige Oberlin was murdered. Soon after that roommate Cynthia flees as her unwanted former boyfriend Ted stalks her. Soon afterward someone kills another roommate Jill. Millie investigates finding ties back to the nearby Jeffersonian Era Highgrove mansion and Lewis and Clark; as she believes the early nineteenth century has the answers to the twenty-first century murders.

This entertaining amateur sleuth mystery occurs in 2002, but has more of a feel of a historical tale as told by a tour guide; as much of the story line especially the musing of the amateur historians and the archeological professionals focuses Jefferson or the nearby attractions. Still though the whodunit takes a back seat, fans of cozies with a strong sense of location will enjoy Marian Moore Hill's fun guided tour of Jeffersonian Virginia.

Many and Many a Year Ago
Selcuk Altun
1846590671 $13.95

Within the Turkish Air Force, Kemal Kuray's rapid rise has become legendary as does his even faster fall when a plane engine fails. He knows he is fortunate to be alive, but he has to heal from his injuries, Kemal detests desk duty.

Kemal is assigned to a top secret translation project team where he and technology expert Suat Altan meet and become friends; in spite of ironically Kemal being career military and Suat meeting his military obligation on the assignment. Not long afterward, Kemal learns from Suat's identical twin Fuat that his sibling vanished; but left behind a note for his new friend; provided him an expensive house to live in rent free, and set up a monthly allowance of $5,000 upon his retirement. Kemal struggles with what Suat has done while searching for him around the world and a greater guiding principle in his life.

This an interesting character tale with mystery elements that is more an inner search for being even though the quest takes Kemal into North and South America, Europe and Turkey. With irony, the story line is driven by Kemal's need to know. Although at times the tale seems too clever losing its innocent whimsical charm though regains it too, MANY AND MANY A YEAR AGO is a fine look at finding one's self.

Retirement Can Be Murder
Susan Santangelo
Baby Boomer Mysteries Press (BBMP)
9780615273143 $14.95

Jim Andrews wants to retire; Carol Andrews wants Jim to work a bit longer as she dreads his invasion of their home. After thirty-six years of marriage Carol still loves him, but the thought of Jim with nothing to do but annoy her bothers Carol.

Carol arranges for Jim to meet with retirement coach Davis Rhodes in hopes of stalling the pending doom. However, Carol predicts accurately pending doom just not the subject. On the kitchen table lays a dead Davis. Jim discovered the corpse, but the lead cop Mark Anderson believes he is the killer though he knows the family. Carol and her BFFs posse Mary Alice, Nancy, and Claire investigate at the same time the Andrews' adult daughter Jenny comes home from California after another failed relationship. Besides proving her spouse is innocent, she has two beloved but nudnik adults wanting to spend day time with her.

This is a fun chick lit investigative tale starring Carol Andrews super sleuth supported by an eccentric bunch of BBs (baby boomers), the cop and the daughter. Carol tells the tale in an amusing frantic way that adds to the enjoyment of a fine lighthearted whodunit that affirms that "every wife has a story" and Carol's first is entertaining.

The Hunch
Seymour Shubin
Murder Slim Press
9780955131585, 9.50 Brit. pounds (UK) / 12.50 Brit. pounds (USA/Europe)

As they prepare for the marriage of their daughter Diane, Jon and Cindy Hendricks seem to have the perfect marriage. That is until the night Cindy comes home late, hysterical and blood stained while Diane sleeps. Crying Cindy tells Jon she killed director Tony McDowell, but lost the kitchen knife she used on him. Between tears, she explains she had a tryst with Tony who demanded a second sexual encounter, which she refused. She met him in his BMW and killed him when he assaulted her. Jon goes to nearby Philadelphia to find the knife in the car near the corpse of Tony.

PPD Detective Woody Wedman and his partner Stillman lead the investigation. Jon's best friend true crime reporter Colin Ryan has a growing interest in the homicide that ties back increasingly to the Hendricks. As Cindy becomes depressed and Diane worries about the estrangement between her parents, Jon, wracked with guilt tries to cover his wife's role in the homicide while Tony's family mourns their loss and find no closure.

This unique excellent crime thriller has a Kafka-Twilight Zone feel to the intense character driven story line as readers know from the start who committed the murder and allegedly why, but wonder like her spouse questions: is Cindy a clever Lady Macbeth? By covering the crime, Jon becomes an accessory and feels the impact in his gut. Fans who enjoy a refreshing psychological drama will wonder whether Cindy and Jon can wash their respective hands of the blood of Tony.

To Wrestle with Darkness
Alan D. Jones
Rising Sun
9780966667912 $19.95

His mom tried to keep Michael out of the family mission however, her efforts prove futile. A junior at Georgia Tech, Michael's cousin Akina text messaged him that something bad happened and he needs to meet her at Piedmont Park. He rushes over only to see Akina with blind Uncle Paul who must be a zillion years old; Michael has questions about freaky photos to ask his uncle about, but no time. Akina cries that her Mama Avis has Cousin Carla. Darnell, Carla's twin, arrives agitated as does family friend Sandy. The family, in an instant, travels from Atlanta to New Orleans in order to confront Avis, who ha s turned to the dark side. Michael the atheist begins to understand there is a lot more out there as he finds his power to change the physical state of an object or a being's body part during the effort to rescue Carla from Avis and her demonic horde.

Meanwhile as Michael begins to learn of his skills and that of his family, in the distant future Jonah and Monica struggle to survive in a suppressed world in which the Blue control everything. An inventor Jonah saw at what was once the Smithsonian the Heart of Mystery gem that belonged to his family. He risks his life to regain what he believes he should possess. However, he is unprepared for the Blue Lord horde, though he proves to be a poor sport.

This is a deep somewhat convoluted and extremely complex and enthralling amalgamation of religion, science fiction and fantasy into a terrific allegorical thriller. The ensemble support cast for the two subplots makes the powerful story line work as they seem real while Jonah and Michael share star billing. Fans will anticipate the blending of their subplots, but never figure out how Alan D. Jones cleverly achieves this. TO WRESTLE WITH DARKNESS is an excellent tale.

Gail Carriger
9780316056632 $7.99

By 1874 Alexia Tarabotti expects to remain on the shelf as a spinster for eternity due to being too smart, too sassy, too assertive, and too strong and not very pretty. Her mother agrees and has written her daughter off in terms of finding the bluestocking a spouse; she focuses on her other younger but docile and prettier daughters.

Alexa has one other minor difference that has her standing out from her siblings; she has no soul. She is leaving London for Glasgow, but being soulless makes her special. She not only cannot be turned into a vampire or a werewolf like other mortals although most die rather than are changed; she can remove the paranormal power from a supernatural albeit for a short time by touching them. Perhaps her only adversary since mom gave up on her is Lord Maccon, the chief of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry who consistently finds her and her parasol getting past his werewolf hair to his suddenly overly abundant heart and soul.

This is an entertaining Victorian urban fantasy that smoothly but excitingly merges vampires, werewolves, and related laws and government agencies into late historical England. The story line is fast-paced albeit a bit thin as Gail Carriger focuses on creating the landscape in which Maccon and Alexa live. Still fans will enjoy the spin as Ms. Carriger provides a delightful historical fantasy that gives new meaning to a bloody good fantasy.

Bite Marks
Jennifer Rardin
9780316043826 $13.99

Jaz Parks and her boss and lover Vayl the Vampire are part of a CIA hit team who battle mortal and supernatural entities. The squad is in Canberra, Australia are on an important assignment to stop a horde of gnomes led by the followers of the god Ufran from getting their larvae into the Canberra Deep Space Complex. Jaz figures kicking gnome butt will prove easier than moving sheep. From the moment they arrive at the Canberra Space Complex nothing goes right.

The gnomes are sending carriers of larvae to Madrid and California Space Complexes as ; if the larvae succeed, three stations will be destroyed. Jaz has additional issues starting with King Brude the Domtyr who sends souls to the hells. He now resides inside Jaz's head. While she tries to restrain Brude so she can work the mission, one of her team Cassandra the seer is avoiding Kyphas whom she signed a binding contract with, but regrets her action. The team rallies around her and they are all getting ready to do battle with the Ufranites. This is all in a day's work for crappy pay as Jaz thinks this is so not a walk in the park because one said anything about fighting Kyphas the invincible demon or that would be a traitor in their midst.

Jennifer Rardin's latest Jaz Parks urban fantasy is a super Down Under thriller in time for Halloween as the story line is filled with action (in and out of the heroine's head) and romance (also in and out of the heroine's head and other body parts). Jaz is a sort of Lara Croft with perilous adventures of all sorts as she battles gnomes, seers, Domtyr, souls in her head, and a female demon. BITE MARKS is a bitingly good jazzed up tale.

The Dwarves
Markus Heitz
9780316049443 $15.99

In the Fourth Kingdom Tungdil Bolofar the dwarf was found as an abandoned infant and raised amidst the long-uns. He works for master magus Lot-Ionan the Forbearing ruler of the enchanted realm of Ionandar, who is one of the great sorcerers protecting the Girdlegard Valley; a land also defended by mountains on all sides with five passages watched over by the five tribes of dwarves.

However, all is not well in Girdlegard in the 5199th Solar Cycle. The evil ones want to breach the natural and species fortification. The alfar, gnomes, trolls, orcs, and others have apparently found an egress through the deserted Fifthling Kingdom while the sorcerers are busy trying to prevent the spread of the Perished Land where those who die reanimate as tormented revenants. However, a traitor from within has placed Girdlegard in jeopardy. On an assignment for his master, Tungdil meets dwarves especially a female he is attracted to; but the mission comes first.

The incredibly deep vivid descriptions of the five kingdoms is a two edged sword as readers become fully versed with the Heitz fantasy realm but also can slow down an exciting sword and sorcery saga. The cast is strong as the culture of with long-uns, magus, and dwarves come across as genuine. Fans will enjoy Tungdil's escapades as he goes from a blacksmithing ward to adventures to save the world as he knows it; ironically his quest changes that world because he begins seeing it differently. With a nod to Willow, DWARVES is en entertaining well written quest fantasy that at time times slows down with the mountains of detail.

The Prodigal Mage
Karen Miller
9780316029209 $24.99

Ten years have passed since the INNOCENT MAGE Asher defeated the evil Morg and the Kingdom of Lur (see The Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duo). The land overall has been peaceful due mostly to Asher who as the AWAKENED MAGE has magical roots with both the Doranen and the Olken. However below the surface calm a hostile racial divide remains between the blond haired immigrant Doranen and the black haired native Olken.

Asher just wants to raise his two children (Rafel and Deenie) with his wife Dathne in peace. Just because he wishes for peace does not mean he will get it as Lur has begun to plot anew plots to conquer its neighbor at a time when something bad seems to be happening to the Olken earth magic. Besides fears for the nation, Asher also worries about his feisty children who are beginning to discover their mage talents. Once again Asher will have to try to save the land from the foolishness of its own people as some of them are trying to infiltrate the "natural" boundaries, which means if successful those kept on the other side also will have passage. However; this time he has his family to help him if he can keep them in line and focus on the bigger issues beyond keeping them safe especially the chip off the old block, THE PRODIGAL MAGE offspring.

The first of a duet, THE PRODIGAL MAGE is an intriguing high fantasy as the quest has not begun though the anticipation of learning what is on the other side of the mountains, etc will fascinate readers. The "Fisherman's Children" story line focuses mostly on Rafel as the title character coming into his own as a mage and the concerns of Asher and Dathne; Deenie's role is more of an observer. Fans of the first saga will enjoy THE PRODIGAL MAGE as the family that practices magic together stays together.

Dexter by Design
Jeff Lindsay
9780385518369 $29.95

Miami Police department forensic technician Dexter Morgan has just returned from his honeymoon with his wife Rita in Paris. However, he has no time to ease back into his role of studying blood splatter patterns. Two corpses brutalized in a way that only Dexter would appreciate (especially the fruit "basket" designer body) have been found on the beach; a sacred part of Miami unlike the streets.

Dexter's sister Sergeant Deborah is investigating the homicides when a suspect Alex Doncevic stabs her before fleeing the scene. Dexter assumes Alex is the serial killer and murders him; not out of sibling love or loyalty but because he is an avenging angel murdering murderers. However, to his shock his homicide of Doncevic appears on You Tube while Dexter also realizes the serial killer remains free to keep playing with him.

This is an amusing satirical Dexter thriller as his latest caper is a bit more personal than usual. Although the plot is thin and the climax feels forced, Dexter and his straight foil Doakes make for a delightfully droll dark dueling duet as the serial killing technician balances a wife with his homicidal activities.

The Golden City
John Twelve Hawks
9780385514309 $25.95

Brothers Michael and Gabriel Corrigan are the last known Travelers, who travel parallel universes. They are on opposite sides of a war. Michael cooperates with the Brethren run Tabula, an international cartel seeking world command and control through the Panopticon. However, he has his own ambitious agenda to take control of the Tabula in order to begin his domination of the world through a fear technologically based propaganda campaign identical to what he witnessed on the Fifth Realm by demi-gods.

Gabriel has joined the Free Runners, who fear the increase in insidious technology that enables one too many spying, which in turn inhibit freedom. The Tabula name him an enemy of the state along with his allies Hollis, Linden and his beloved Harlequin Maya, whom he rescued from the hell of the First Dimension. The Free Runners must prevent Gabriel's sibling from succeeding, but Michael and his associates control communication technology, which means the Tabula possess mass weapons and espionage capabilities too.

The final "Fourth Realm" thriller (see THE TRAVELER and THE DARK RIVER) is an entertaining cautionary tale that is timely as John Twelve Hawks overarching theme is freedom has come under assault by electronic surveillance. The story line is for most part fast-paced and filled with action although can get bogged down by philosophical debate. Still fans will appreciate THE GOLDEN CITY as freedom continues the uphill battle on this realm having lost on other Realms to technological dictators who make 1984 look like minor intrusions.

I Scream, You Scream
Wendy Lyn Watson
9780451228352 $6.99

In Dalliance, Texas, recently divorced Tallulah "Tally" Jones is worried that business is down at her ice cream store Remember the A La Mode. That is the only reason she agreed to provide the dessert for her former husband's annual party for people connected to Wayne's Weed and Seed. She has no fond feelings towards the man she was married to for seventeen years as her spouse ran around until he dumped her for a twenty something beautiful man-ater Brittanie.

At the gala, almost all the attendees are intoxicated including the babe Brittanie. The very next day Wayne comes to Tally's house because Brittanie died in his bed and he needs his former wife to tell the cops he was with her last night. Tally refuses to lie, bur ponders who might have wanted her dead. The cops find antifreeze in cups that Tally made especially for Wayne. Tally goes from bystander to prime suspect as she has motive, means, and opportunity to eliminate her rival. To stay out of jail, Tally investigates Brittanie's life, which means scooping up the town's dirt.

This is a delightful amateur sleuth that is not only exciting, but also never melts down. Tally is complex especially when it comes to Wayne who she pities. The reason for the homicide is very sad as Wendy Lyn Watson makes a case that anyone could be a killer if the circumstances warrant it. With a light touch mostly brought by friend Bree who sums up the enjoyable I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM while serving ice cream with "pick your poison".

The Chocolate Cupid Killings
JoAnna Carl
9780451227973 $21.95

Lee McKinney Woodyard is the business manager of TenHuis Chocolade owned by her Aunt Nettie; who is harboring an abused woman in her home. Her friend Sara Jane Harding, owner of a B & BB, is involved in the underground railroad that helps women in danger of being killed by an abuser to obtain new identities, homes, and money in order to start over elsewhere. Currently Christina Meacham who uses the name Pamela Thompson is staying with the aunt and niece until they can find a place for her to begin anew.

Pamela's husband Harold ran a chop shop that had mob connections; he released his stress by beating her up. She testified against him in court leading to his sentencing of five years in prison. Now he is free and hunting his spouse. Private Detective Derrick Valentine visited TenHuis asking for Christina; Lee lies, but also knows her ward must leave town immediately. That night Nettie finds a dead Valentine near the dumpster; the women conclude Harold is involved. Pamela leaves town escorted by another woman on the railroad, an underground conductor, but when they assume they are finished with Christina, she returns.

Readers should not taste this amateur sleuth on an empty stomach because of the mouthwatering descriptions of chocolates, which lead to snacking. The plot is cleverly constructed with false leads and intriguing twists leaving the mystery unpredictable, plausible and entertaining. JoAnna Carl provides a terrific thriller.

Heir of the Dog
Judi McCoy
9780451228475 $6.99

She makes a very nice living walking dogs for people too busy to do so; as a professional dog walker, Ellie Engleman takes out her canine friends twice a day. Ellie has the added advantage of being able to telepathically communicate with her pooch pals who would kill or die to protect her.

While walking in Central Park with her terrier mix Rudy, he escorts her to the dwelling of a homeless person Gary who she on friendly terms with. He is dead with his body riddled by bullets. One of Gary's friends, a dirty water hot dog vender gives her an envelope from Gary. The NYPD lead detective questions Ellie in the station's interrogation room and implies she is a suspect. Also in the room is Sam Ryder who knows Ellie intimately after a one night stand; though he never called her again as he fears the emotions she surfaces in him. He gets her released into his custody. The envelope contains a will that leaves everything to Rudy with Ellie as executor. They open Gary's safety deposit box finding $800,000. An internet search leads to learning Gary's older brother killed their parents and Gary testified against his sibling who is now out of jail after thirty years of incarceration. A letter Gary left insists if he is murdered, his brother killed him; he also asks Ellie to find him and see justice done.. Sam knows Ellie will put herself in danger to fulfill her friend's death wish; he plans to keep her safe.

It is rare that one can label an amateur sleuth precious, but HEIR OF THE DOG fits that description to a T. Ella and her dogs are cute and charming, but Rudy is precious and charming. The hint of romance between the dog walker and the detective adds depth to her inquiry as he cannot leave her probe without him. The whodunit has a sense of canine whimsy yet is a strong investigative thriller as Judi McCoy's magic misery tour of Manhattan is a winner.

Final Approach
Rachel Brady
Poisoned Pen
9781590586556 $24.95

Four years ago Emily Locke unintentionally got enmeshed in a missing-child case; that of her child. Thus former cop turned private investigator Richard Cole thinks she can help him with a similar case he is working on because she has some limited experience to enhance her skydiving skills that he needs on his investigation. He pleads and coaxes Emily to leave Cleveland for Houston.

Emily joins Gulf Coast Skydiving to obtain insider information for Richard, who has found clues linking the group to the disappearance of an 11-month-old boy, Casey Lyons; the baby's divorced parents are beyond despondent with worry. Richard warns Emily not to do anything foolish like being attracted to a guitar-player or connecting the dots to her still missing child.

This is an intriguing crime drama that looks deeply at the baby abduction-adoption black market. The story line is fun to follow though Emily running off to Houston seems off kilter for the nightmare she has lived with for four years and major coincidences detract also. Still the cast is solid and fans will root for Vince hitting the chord with Emily and want a sequel starring sassy smack the butt BFF Jeannie.

Chinese Whispers
Peter May
Poisoned Pen
9781590586082 $24.95

The Chinese authorities try to conceal the serial killings of four prostitutes by the Beijing Ripper, whose methods are reminiscent of the late nineteenth century notorious Victorian psychopath. They actually were somewhat successful until the victim is visiting Chinese American Professor Lynn Pann, in Beijing to show new law enforcement tools using the Mermer brain scan method to the Municipal Police Chief of CID Li Yan.

Li investigates the latest homicide with plenty of superiors watching his every move. He thinks the motive is related the Mermer method. As he begins to follow the clues based on the American finding something about one of her subjects, someone with power is trying to destroy him by denying his American lover's visa renewal, kidnapping their son, arresting his sister for drug trafficking and finally firing Li. As an expert falls from a window, Li works the case unofficially, which in China means illegally.

This is a gripping at times gruesome Ripper police procedural with the freshness being the Communist authorization government interfering in Li's investigation and his romance with his beloved American. The story line is fast-paced on both fronts as Li struggles with ending a serial killer's murder spree while confronting all sorts of assaults on his loved ones from an unknown adversary with a grudge and highly connected. Fans will appreciate this super Chinese serial killer police procedural and seek previous Li Yan cases (see THE FIREMAKER, KILLING ROOM and SNAKEHEAD); especially those in Beijing.

Trick or Treat
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
9781590585320 $24.95

In Melbourne, large size baker Corinna Chapman becomes concerned when competition moves in down the block from her Earthy Delights bakery. She knows her food is superior to the chain, but their prices are much less than hers. At the same time she is panicky over her shop, an old friend visits her Israeli boyfriend, Daniel Cohen who is busy searching for stolen by the Nazis loot owned by Greek Jews. Georgiana is gorgeous and appears to want Daniel and though she admits to herself jealousy might taint her opinion Corinna believes the bakery too.

As she struggles to hold on to her business, perfectly sane people are jumping off buildings to their deaths. The police shut down foods shops to investigate the root cause. Meanwhile her friend Meroe the witch owner of Sibyl's Cave is unhappy with the gathering to celebrate Samhain. Soon the food issue, the stolen loot, and the witches' coven camp converge as a deadly predator has been working the neighborhood.

The latest Chapman mystery is a superb amateur sleuth that deftly merges several mysteries with the Lonsdale Street neighborhood goings-on that impact the lead heroine and her friends. The story line is fast-paced from the first confection to the final confrontation as Kerry Greenwood bakes a delightful Australian tale with a terrific twist that will send readers to the previous HEAVENLY PLEASURES of the EARTHY DELIGHTS Bakery.

Colin Harrison
9780312428938 $13.00

Manhattan insurance attorney George Young agrees to help Widow Mrs. Corbett because she was married to the late founder of the firm where he works; he always felt he owed the late Wilson Corbett for rescuing him back in the 1980s from the muddy Queens DA Office. Mrs. Corbett wants George to investigate the last few hours in the life of her son Roger before he was killed in a freak accident by a garbage truck.

George starts with a security camera video that capture the final moments. Afterward, he visits Roger's mistress Czech hand model Eliska Sedlacek to see what she can tell him. Eliska makes it clear Roger had some items that she wants; Roger's former wife placed everything in storage. George is taken aback when seemingly nonentities like an old phone book bought by Roger on eBay has garnered interest by people willing to break into joints to gain possession.

This is a terrific Manhattan Noir in which the audience knows what is happening ironically much earlier than George does; the fun is watching George change from confident successful professional lawyer to bungling unconfident amateur sleuth as he begins to put the shocking puzzle together. Filled with twists including one great spin, fans will enjoy George's efforts to learn the whole truth, nothing but the truth.

Kelley Armstrong
9780553806625 $26.00

Werewolf pack enforcers and soulmates Elena Michaels and Clay Danvers pursue a visiting Aussie werewolf to warn him that two rogues have set him up to take the fall over half-eaten humans in the Pittsburgh area. Elena and Clay follow the man to wintry FROSTBITTEN Anchorage.

While in Alaska they also learn of more gruesome murders outside the city that have werewolf mutt feel to them. The pair heads towards the killing fields to investigate as the evidence points to a roguish mutt or two who must be stopped immediately. To survive the harsh climate of the until recently unspoiled wilderness, and end the serial killing spree, alpha Elena and her alpha minus mate must release their inner beasts much more so than they have ever done before.

FROSTBITTEN is a super entry in a great series as the lead couple follow a trail of mutilation that contrasts with the stark pristine beauty of Alaska. Elena is a kick butt alpha female giving orders to insolent males and she is a a great role model of the Women of the Otherworld and our world too.. The investigation is also top rate as Kelley Armstrong provides a fabulous thriller that her fans will relish.

Shadow Season
Tom Piccirilli
9780553592474 $7.99

A former NYPD cop Finn teaches literature at the prestigious Upstate New York St. Valarian's Academy for Girls. Finn finds it ironic that his students wonder how he keeps his collection of books so brand new conceding how easy it is to maintain a pristine collection when you are blind. He has a relationship with Roz the nurse and muses over the crushes his students have on him except for Vi who he and the dean Judith worry about; he also wonders about his former wife Danielle.

Christmas empties the school leaving a few loners with no place to go behind. A blizzard further isolates those still at the academy including Finn. However, the nurse and a student seem to have vanished. Almost immediately afterward, two thugs arrive demanding Finn pay his debt or else. As he fears for those trapped inside the school, he thinks of his detective partner Ray and how many ways he would relish killing him, but for now must somehow deal with the "ill will" of a killer leaving dead students and faculty in his or her wake.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Finn begins his musing and never slows down as the readers wonders why someone is mass murdering those trapped at the school. The story line is fast-paced once the characters are set and never slows down until the anticipated final confrontation with the ill wind and the academy's champion, a sort of good vs. evil battle on a small scale. SHADOW SEASON is an engaging tense tale as Tom Piccirilli provides a superb suspenseful story.

The Hunt For Atlantis
Andy McDermott
9780553592856 $7.99

Her parents were in Tibet in their quest to find Atlantis when they died. Their deaths shook up their daughter archeologist Nina Wilde, who is in New York City when word reaches her. She has no time to grieve as someone tries to kill her.

Former personal security expert Eddie Chase saves her life. Eddie introduces Nina to reclusive billionaire Kristian Frost and his daughter, Kari. Father and daughter are interested in finding the mythical city and are willing to fund the right expedition; they believe Nina is the right person to lead the quest. Seeing this as a legacy for her late parents, she agrees and begins a globetrotting expedition following clues and dodging human perils fostered on her and her team by The Brotherhood of Selasphorus with Eddie's help.

This globetrotting breakneck speed thriller will have readers thinking of Indiana Jones (Josephine) as the heroine races back and forth onto four continents being chased by the brotherhood every step of the way. Filled with twists the story line is action, action, and more action as THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS contains a somewhat limited plot, but fans will enjoy trekking the world faster than the speed of light (or at least the bad guys) with Nina.

Set The Dark On Fire
Jill Sorenson
9780553592023 $7.99

In rural Southern California, the mountain lion killed the woman. Thus interim Sheriff Luke Meza of the Tenaja Falls Police Department, accompanied by wildlife expert Shay Phillips, stalks the beast; they kill it before it hurts anyone else.

However, Shay and Luke are stunned to learn the victim was dead before the mountain lion approached her. A human predator murdered her and others as more corpses surface. As Shay and Luke team up to find the two legged predator, their attraction ignites, but misunderstandings place both in jeopardy from a clever serial killer who is watching them with the fierceness of a wounded stalked mountain lion.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists working together to initially hunt a mountain lion, but quickly realize the predator is two legged. The back stories of the lead pair adds to the understanding of the flaws and desires of each of them; for instance Shay raises her teenage brother whose entire brain contains one icon: females. Fans will enjoy the hunts to include that of the hearts as Luke and Shay SET THE DARK ON FIRE.

Stranger's Kiss
Mary Blayney
9780440244288 $6.99

In 1818 after a year of grieving compounded by remorse and regret for never showing his late wife he cared, Duke Lynford Pennistan is back in London as a guest at the Harbison Ball; an event he did not want to attend. He has plans for vengeance against the Duke of Bendas. However, tonight he stops in a library expecting to be alone to get his equilibrium.

Also in the library needing to temporarily escape from the crowd is famous singer Elena Verano. She left Italy to get away from memories of her beloved late spouse whom she still grieves for.

In that library, they meet, offer consolation and soon are kissing. Not long afterward, Lyn and Elena formally meet. They help each other with their respective grief and soon fall in love; but his thirst for vengeance conflicts with his need for Elena.

The third Kiss Pennistan historical thriller (see TRAITOR'S KISS and LOVER'S KISS) is a terrific entry in a great regency saga. The story line starts off with an exciting duel that enables the audience to see into the hearts of Lyn and Bendas and never takes a breather even when the lead couple meets and kiss or the deep look into the life of a duke. STRANGER'S KISS is another winner from marvelous Mary Blayney.

The Good Mayor
Andrew Nicoll
9780385343121 $15.00

For two decades Tibo Krovic has served as THE GOOD MAYOR of Dot on the Baltic Sea. He has been in love with his secretary Agathe Stopak for years, but does his best to hide his feelings from her and everyone. Besides being his employee, she is married to a drunk.

Agathe is sad as her marriage lacks love. She visits the Italian psychic Strega Mamma Cesare and soon afterward takes a closer look at her boss. Tibo knows something has changed in the office, but is not sure what. For the next few weeks, the pair keeps their distance as much as possible until one day he asks her to go to lunch. She accepts and they enjoy their meal together but being ethical he refuses to cross the line so she looks elsewhere.

THE GOOD MAYOR is a super whimsical romance with pathos and humor enhancing a profound look at Tibo and Agathe. Whimsy is the prime element throughout even describing the country at the onset. The fully developed lead couple affirms that love is so capricious and quirky it is the ultimate proof of chaos theory. Fans will relish this wonderful charming love story while wondering whether a happy ever after is in store for protagonists.

Barbara Hambly
9780553805529 $26.00

In 1861 Cora Poole just married Tennessean Emory, but while he fights for the Confederacy he leaves his new bride and infant child safe with her relatives in Deer Isle, Maine. Emory's neighbor in Greene County, Susanna Ashford loves the arts and would like to attend school in Philadelphia, but the Civil War prevents her.

Susanna and Cora become pen pals sharing their dreams and disappointments. Susanna nurses the injured and sick while Cora cares for her baby and demented mother. Each does what they can to support the troops and their family, but have the letters over the next four years to give them solace as lifestyles die on the battlefields.

This is a very creative refreshing look at how the Civil War divided families especially through the letters exchanged between the lead two women. Cora and Susanna drive the epic historical as their correspondence changes over the four years of the war. Fans looking for something refreshing, brisk, and unique will want to read Barbara Hambly's super insightful Civil War saga.

The King's Daughters
Nathalie Mallet
Night Shade
1423 33rd Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
9781597801355 $7.99

In the Kingdom of Telfar, Prince Amir survived the deaths of much of his family during a bloody war. He still has hopes for his and his sultanate's future if he can persuade his beloved Princess Eva of Sorvinka to marry him. With his sibling Prince Erik left in charge, Amir escorts her home only to learn Eva's younger sister Princess Aurora was kidnapped and many of the castle's retinue was killed during the assault.

Amir asks Eva's father, King Erik, for his permission to court his daughter. The monarch makes it clear Amir is not good enough for Eva. However, he offers an opportunity to the Telfar prince to prove his worthiness: rescue the missing princess from the Farrellians.

The sequel to THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE continues the adventures of Prince Amir who has come a long way from his "golden cage", but has a long way to go. He struggles to adjust to the icy Sorvinka as not just the land is frozen; for instance even the horror of the murders inside the castle when the princess was kidnapped is taken with a cold harsh acceptance by the survivors. Though typical in some ways, the story line is fast-paced and the cast solid as Nathalie Mallet paints a brisk vivid picture of the hero, before and during his "quest", adapting though bewildered to the icy reception of those he hopes will be one day soon his in-laws.

Dark Road Rising
P. N. Elrod
9780441017553 $15.00

In 1938 Chicago, Jack Fleming is trying to recover from the worst trauma of his life. To add to his problems The New York mob sent Gabe "Whitey" Kroun to the Windy City to kill Jack as retaliation for killing one of their associates. In addition to worrying about that, Jack' best friend Charles Escott ends up in the hospital with severe life threatening injuries. Gabe gets turned into a vampire before he can kill Jack but a bullet in his head limits his skills. Jack has to deal with him while handling other threats that come his way.

Time and place are captured through the vernacular though perhaps mobster talk is a bite or two overdone. Still readers will enjoy the escapades of a sensitive vampire whose vulnerabilities make him fresh as he stands out from the supernatural crowd; yet he seems to end up in mob messes that require a hard boiled Noir reaction from him when all he wants to do is spend nights at his club Lady Crymyn. The pathos of the three males will stun the audience as P.N. Elrod follows up SONG IN THE DARK with more dangerous adventures on the mean COLD STREETS of Chicago at a time when Capone was a guest at Alcatraz, but danger remains high.

Jacinto's Remnant
Karen Traviss
Del Rey
9780345499448 $15.00

The last city on Sera, Jacinto is no longer livable as the Locust overwhelmed the final human stronghold. However, people fought back and drowned most if not all the insectoid enemy. A few thousand humans survived the bug debacle, but now must find shelter and food on a devastated planet after a fifteen year war.

As people starts to rebuild, the elite Gears patrol though they are as emotionally and physically devastated as is the rest of humans they protect. The Locusts also remain a threat though not quite what it was. Perhaps the biggest danger comes from within as the Stranded left behind in Jacinto just before the laser destruction of the world occurred remain angry and afraid.

The second Gears of War science fiction thriller (see ASPHO FIELDS), JACINTO'S REMNANT is an exciting action-packed tale that continues the escapades of the Gears game characters Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago although the newcomer soldiers steal the show. Hardened Gears' vets make the plot work as they sympathize with the Stranded though they know their mission is to protect the other humans. Well written, but with that game feel, JACINTO'S REMNANT surprisingly can stand alone as a fun military science fiction thriller.

Mercy Thompson Homecoming
Patricia Briggs; Francis Tsai and Amelia Woo
Del Rey/Dabel Brothers
9780345509888 $22.95

Shapeshifting human walker Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson can shift into a coyote. However, having just graduated from college, Mercy just wants a job. Thus the Oregonian goes for an interview in the nearby Tri-Cities, Washington.

However, minding her business and having her nerves on edge seem not to matter for Mercy. She must deal with vampires, werewolves, and her mom as well as the interviewing horde. Just another normal day for a college grad seeking employment with the worst terrorist being her lecturing mother telling her she is ruining her life. Mercy is not sure whose life mom is referring to in her latest diatribe.

This is a terrific graphic comic with a strong Patricia Briggs' story line that occurs before the Mercy novels take place and with vivid powerful illustrations by Francis Tsai and Amelia Woo. Fans of the saga will relish this new direction that showcases the heroine just after her college graduation while newcomers will find this a wonderful bridge into the world of Mercy Thompson.

Child of Fire
Harry Connolly
Del Rey
9780345508898 $7.99

In Hammer Bay, Washington, the ecomony is booming due to the toy factory; however, residents even those who work at the prime employer fail to realzie that some of their offspring can use magic.

Twenty Palace Society field agent Annalise Powliss hunts and kills rogue magic practitioners. Convicted felon Ray Lilly is her chauffeur, but they share a not so kind past as he betrayed her so he knows she plans to kill him at the most opportune time. The Society learns of the goings-on in Hammer Bay and led by take no prisoners Annalise plan to destroy the factory and kill anyone of any age who uses magic. However, the execution fails and Annalise is hurt; Ray must finish the assignment against a much more powerful sorcerer who sacrifices humans especially children to gain incredible amounts of power.

The key to this small town fantasy is the use of magic as collateral damage is not only acceptable it is preferable if needed to complete a mission. That premise ties the rogue and the Society together as innocent bystanders die in high numerical waves, which in turn brings a sense of realism to the exciting story line. The dysfunctional relationship between the driver and his boss enhances the tension of an exhilarating High Noon paranormal thriller.

The Rock & Roll Queen of Bedlam
Marilee Brothers
9781934755464 $15.95

In Washington State, sixteen year old Nick Dorsey is an intelligent student attending Vista Valley High School who refuses to allow cystic fibrosis from enabling him to enjoy life. However, he becomes very concerned when classmate Sara Stepanek vanishes as he knows the teen is deeply troubled.

Nick's aunt Allegra Thome who is Sara's teacher is worried about the girl too. Allegra, who dubs herself "the Queen of Bedlam" and Nick decide to investigate the disappearance. They soon find questionable goings-on at the place of worship that Sara attended, the Church of the Holy Light; especially through Pastor Robinson Hunt's connection to the What Would Jesus Drink Winery. However, the nephew-aunt amateur sleuthing intrudes on an operation conducted by DEA Agent Sloan.

THE ROCK & ROLL QUEEN OF BEDLAM is an amusing yet dark amateur sleuth thriller with a chick lit sarcastic spin as sassy spunky spitfire Allegra provides commentary from the start with her observations on tall women wearing hose and detectives checking asses and never slows down form there. Fans will enjoy the lighthearted bantering of Allegra especially with Sloan (don't ask about his first name though Johnny Cash could have sang the song) contrasted with the serious topic that is not taken lightly in a terrific crime caper thriller.

Personal Demons
Gregory Lamberson
9781605420721 $7.95

The Cipher is a psychopathic serial killer who takes perverse extra pleasure with seeing the face of terror on his victims. He slices their throats with a caring tenderness; takes a photo of their fear-ridden face; and finally kills them. Afterward he uses the picture to have a likeness tattooed on his body so he carries their soul with him that he steals just when they die.

Jake Helman is a fallen cop who uses cocaine to take the edge off the demons that haunt his soul. His wife Sheryl is irate with him and is threatening to leave him. Although he cares about her and what she will do, he remains diligent with stalking the Cipher. Billionaire Nicholas "Old Nick" Tower needs a Chief of Security to protect his genetic engineering corporation; he learns of Jake and hires him, which saves his marriage but not his soul as the Tower Corporation takes him away from the Cipher hunt, but soon the soul searching former cop has a new evil to investigate.

This taut serial killer horror thriller hooks readers from the onset and as the tension grows the audience becomes deeper involved. The cast is strong especially the Cipher who is an incredible villain with no doubts or bouts of remorse while his adversary is crippled with doubts and bouts of remorse; throw in aptly named Old Nick into the mix. Each has crutches with Cipher being the tattoos and Jake cocaine and alcohol. Fans will appreciate this edgy dark thriller anticipating the gruesome confrontation between evil and fallen good.

Dave Zeltserman
Serpent's Tail
9781846686436 $14.95

After spending eight years behind bars in Cedar Junction, Kyle Nevin is released from prison. The Southie is angry at several people and he vowed everyday he was incarcerated rhat he would get vengeance against his former Boston gang and the Fed who betrayed him on the bank job. His brother Danny puts perspective to Kyle's time in jail when he mentions the Sox winning a World Series and the Patriots three Super Bowls.

He plans to take them down one at a time until he finishes his scheme with his former boss Red Mahoney. Nevin does what he does best beating people up and finding a woman Nola who enjoys sex with bad boys. Needing cash, he persuades Danny to abet him in kidnapping a child of a wealthy man. They succeed, but when they remove a tooth as evidence to send to the parents, the kid, a hemophiliac, bleeds to death while the two million dollar ransom is taken by the contact person Lorenz.

Nothing goes right for the siblings in this shocking mocking of SMALL CRIMES capers. The story line is fast-paced but driven by Nevin who has BAD THOUGHTS about almost everyone as he plots vengeance against Red who set him up to get killed in the bank job. Although the plot is thin, fans of bad boys character driven "dick lit" criminal thrillers will enjoy PARIAH.

Breaking the Bank
Yona Zedis McDonough
Downtown (Pocket)
9781439102534 $15.00

Mia Saul lost her job at the same her husband Lloyd kicks her to the curb. Accompanied by her ten year old daughter Eden, she moves into a crummy Brooklyn apartment, where their neighbors include a tough young drug dealer and a widower whose dogs use the hallways as toilets. Mia obtains temporary work while her spouse argues over child support and Eden struggles to adjust to the changes in her life.

Mia goes to an ATM to withdraw money, but the machine hands her thousands which she did not ask for without reducing her account into negative numbers; the machine advises her to use the loot smartly. She leaves with plenty of money and dreams of opportunities. The police wonder if she is doing something illegal and her family friends fear for her sanity so they decide on an intervention while Lloyd demands Eden stay with his parents in North Carolina. When she meets her neighbor Patrick, Mia finds a breath of fresh air in her still troubled existence.

Although the plot is thin and filled with improbability (not counting the ATM machine who is more human than most of the cast), readers will enjoy this allegorical look at modern life in which the manta is to get something for nothing is highly acceptable. The whimsical story line is fast-paced as everyone inside of Mia's circle wonders if she selling drugs or her body. Fans who enjoy something different but magical will want to read Mia's BREAKING THE BANK as the "fortune cookie" ATM wisely advises the heroine on spending her unearned loot.

In Their Blood
Sharon Potts
9781933515625 $25.95

On elite restricted Lotus Island off Miami Beach, a trespasser murders Miami Intercontinental University controversial economics Professor D.C. Stroeb and his wife Rachel, a CPA, in their affluent home. The intruder does not harm their sixteen year old daughter Elise who was there during the home invasion and is mentally traumatized, and stole laptops; nothing else was touched.

Their twenty-two year old shocked son, Jeremy, rushes back from Europe where he was backpacking across the continent to bury his parents and obtain guardianship of his frightened sister who fears the killer will return to finish the job. The brother of D.C. Uncle Dwight an attorney and Aunt Selma object to Jeremy being his niece's guardian; insisting he is too young and immature. Jeremy vows to learn who and why starting with questioning lead Police Detective Kuzniski. Next Jeremy obtains work at his mother's CPA firm Piedmont Coleridge Miller and enrolls at MIU. He begins digging into the work history of his late parents while connecting with his father's foreign exchange graduate assistant Marina Champlain who says the arson last fall was proof that his dad's position to end the Cuban embargo was hotly opposed. As he crunches the numbers of his findings, nothing adds up and the bottom line remains the same: his two parents dead.

This is a super amateur sleuth tale starring a sympathetic hero who seeks closure for himself and his hurting sister. The story line is fast-paced throughout as Jeremy works the probe into the work of his parents from inside. In some ways a coming of age story family drama, IN THEIR BLOOD is a terrific creative not by the numbers thriller.

The Test
Patricia Gussin
9781933515199 $24.95

In Philadelphia, the family of the late famous billionaire philanthropist Paul Parnell gathers for the reading of his will. He had outlived the three women in his life before dying at seventy-five. His first spouse Katherine died in 1963 giving him his two oldest children Daniel and Francis. His second significant other Monica expired in 1995 but they divorced two decades after one offspring, Monica. Finally his last marriage was to Vivian who past away three years earlier after leaving him with three kids (Rory, Ashley and Carla).

The estate is enormous, but his adult children and those with spouses are stunned by what the executor explains to them. Paul felt he neglected his family and decided to "test" them. His five legitimate heirs are further disturbed to lean of his illegitimate offspring Monica. The angriest is Frank and his wife Meredith as they planned on his presidential run funded somewhat by the inheritance. The stipulation is simple: each must give back to society over the next year in order to deserve a share of the billions. Taking advantage of the confusion is avaricious psychiatrist Dr. Conrad Welton who plots to marry Ashley. Let the fun begin.

THE TEST is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None in a sort of Dynasty Survival contest in the first two years of this century. The story line is driven by the ensemble cast who by their varying behavior seem genuine though most of them spoiled as they cause twists to the plot compounded by a serpent in the battle to own Eden. Readers will enjoy Patricia Gussin's entertaining tale as Paul wanted to just get his children to give back and not just take, but he could not have known how deadly his test would prove to some of his children and their spouses.

Collision of Evil
John J. Le Beau
9781933515540 $25.95

In the Bavarian Alps, American backpacker Charles Hirter is hiking when he is brutally murdered. His is CIA operative brother Robert goes to Bavaria to bring his body home, but also to find his sibling's killer and why.

German police detective Kommissar Franz Waldbaer leads the investigation, but no clues surface. Meanwhile Robert employs CIA methods and soon obtains some information on the motive behind his brother's death. A Nazi insists that a dark secret from WWII was hidden in a cave near where Charles' battered corpse was found. Robert makes further inquiries and soon concludes Islamist terrorists have found a weapon of mass destruction they plan to use. Teaming up with the Kommissar, Robert hopes to prevent a tragedy of epic proportions.

Although the plot has been overused since 9/11 and thin, COLLISION OF EVIL is an engaging suspense thriller that constructs the plot from the realism of finding unexploded WWII bombs six decades after the hostilities ended. The story line is action-packed but very straightforward especially in light of the American being a CIA operative (should have been an accountant). Still fans will enjoy this solid suspense German police procedural CIA antiterrorist thriller.

The Corner Booth Chronicles
Mimi Thebo
9780345492203 $15.00

In Eudora, Kansas local author Margaret Lupin's newest novel The Vortex is published. The townsfolk are stunned with the storyline as everyone tries to figure out whom Margaret was referring to. As "over the hedge" gossip widens, relationships explode. Engaged couple, Janey Lane and Mark Ramirez, end their engagement due to his apparent romancing. Kylie Requena. The parents of three rambunctious boys, pregnant Pattie and Phil Walker are struggling with their marriage that seems on the brink of imploding. Meanwhile the town as a whole struggles with recently arisen racism thought dead by most residents and the new sexual preference prejudices. Finally, like many small communities Eudora feels the impact of the long running Iraq and Afghanistan Wars with families coping poorly with multiple deploym ents and deaths. None of that touches on a strange new cash crop growing on one farm.

Mindful of the Georgia cozy Mossy Creek saga and Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Washington State series, THE CORNER BOOTH CHRONICLES is a fine Jayhawker farming community cozy. Using vignettes, Mimi Thebo introduces readers to the troubled players of Eudora who struggle with everyday living in a world changing all the time that they each fears is leaving them behind.

Capitol Offense
William Bernhardt
9780345502995 $26.00

Following his time in DC as a temporary appointed US Senator (see CAPITOL CONSPIRACY) Ben Kincaid has returned home to Tulsa to practice law and consider a run for the permanent seat. Professor Dennis Thomas visits Ben asking the attorney to defend him on a murder rap that has not yet occurred. Dennis hates bureaucrat Police Detective Christopher Sentz who ignored his begging to do a missing person's search for his wife Josylyn. She died after being trapped inside her car for a week following an accident while her vehicle was in a ravine.

Dennis visits a hotel where Sentz is conducting a sting operation. Soon afterward someone fires seven shots at Sentz killing the cop. Dennis swears to Ben he never killed the man though his rage put him over the edge. Caught with questions of client privilege, Ben wonders if he was set up. Still even as he has a political campaign to run, Ben decides to defend the still fuming professor who is at the center of a media frenzy in which everyone believes he killed the cop, but debate whether grief or madness is a justification. Private Investigator Loving begins to uncover dark secrets involving their client, his late wife and the murdered detective that makes the defense even more insane.

The latest Kincaid thriller will delight long time fans as the hero is back in Oklahoma, but working on a case that his chief of staff tells him to drop as it is political suicide. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Professor Thomas asks Kincaid to defend him from a murder he had not yet committed. Fans will enjoy Ben's latest CAPITOL OFFENSE as he defends a client who confessed his plan before hand and was found at the murder scene with the corpse. William Bernhardt provides a strong fresh entry with a great unexpected climax and coda.

The Night Monster
James Swain
9780345515469 $26.00

When. Jack Carpenter was just two years on the force of Broward County's Sheriff Department, he handled a 911 call of a woman being assaulted in her apartment at Sunny Isles. He kicked in the door only to have the huge assailant hammer him breaking his nose as the giant tells him no pigs at his party. He leaves with Naomi Dunn.

Eighteen years later that case remains cold except in Jack's nightmares. No longer with the police after being forced out for beating up a suspect, the former head of Broward County Sheriff Department's Missing Persons Unit still reads unsolved cases hoping to find an edge including the Dunn case in which the culprit was 6'10", 300 pounds and the victim a second degree black belt who kicked out two of his teeth yet failed like Jack to stop him.

After wrestling with an alligator to rescue an autistic child, Jack gets a call from his daughter Jessie, who plays basketball at Florida State and is in town for a regional NCAA tournament game. She tells him about a stalking videographer who frightens her and her teammates with his persistence. He meets Mouse and Lonnie the giant who has haunted him all these years. This time the target is Sara Long, the Seminoles leading scorer. He failed once but vows not again to capture the killer.

In his incredibly fast-paced third case (see MIDNIGHT RAMBLER and NIGHT STALKER), private investigator Jack Carpenter refuses to allow a second abduction to haunt him like the first one still does. In spite of Lonnie nearly killing him a couple times and his frequent trips to the hospital, he refuses to quit. The help from Sara's dad Karl and FBI friend, Ken Linderman (whose daughter was abducted), add to a terrific action-packed one sitting thriller.

Jonathan Kellerman
9780345495150 $28.00

In Los Angeles Doyle is hired to watch over the Borodi property where a mansion remains empty. It is a tedious job as nothing ever occurs until he finds the corpses of a man and woman posing as if they were making love when they died.

LAPD homicide cop Milo Sturgis accompanied by consulting psychologist Alex Delaware look at the crime scene. The woman remains a Jane Doe, but her companion possesses an ID in the name of Desmond Backer. The pair tracks down Des' boss Helga Gemein, the head of a disbanding architectural firm. She states that the late Becker was promiscuous; a fact backed up by his sister who says he left $50,000 in her rented storage room. They also discover that the Borodi property belongs to Prince Tariq Asman who went by the name Teddi and is the brother of the island nation Sranil. There are rumors that Teddi fled to his island home after killing a woman. The body of the Jane Doe is identified by Des' sister as her late brother's friend Darlene Fredd. When the mansion they were killed in is torched, Miles and Alex easily theorize that the homicides and arson are linked, but neither can figure out by who or what while a deadly predator watches them connecting the dots one at a time.

This is one of Jonathan Kellerman's best works in the long running series as Alex narrates so that the audience sees the investigation through his filter, but Milo is actually the star. He fights the stereotypical uncooperative toads in the road (his superiors, the FBI and foreign VIPs) to obtain the information he needs to solve the case. EVIDENCE is a cerebral entertaining police procedural in which the hero's approach seems credible leading to reader satisfaction as Milo and Alex work an enthralling complex whodunit.

Acts Of Mercy
Mariah Stewart
9780345506146 $6.99

Mallory Russo of the Mercy Street Foundation hires Former FBI profiler Sam Delvecchio. His first case is a cold case where he looks into the murder of Ross Walker; based on what he learns Sam ponders whether a serial killer did the deed. Sam compares notes with FBI agent Fiona Summers; they agree the same psychopath has killed at least three times including the Walker homicide; a fourth similarly posed corpse is found. However, time and place offers similarities to his life and that shakes Sam to his bone marrow core.

Mercy Street founder widower Robert Magellan seeks his missing two years old son, Ian whose body was not found at the site of the car crash that killed his wife Beth in Western Pennsylvania. Meanwhile Robert's cousin Father Kevin Burch realizes the serial killer's victims are being arranged to represent the Seven Acts of Mercy. Sam and Fiona struggle to prevent the final three murders while their predator taunts them.

The third Mercy Street thriller (see CRY MERCY and MERCY STREET) contains two strong subplots: Robert's effort to find his son and the serial killer's avenging ACTS OF MERCY. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action and suspense that will have the audience begging for more from Mariah Stewart.

Surrender Of A Siren
Tessa Dare
9780345506870 $6.99

In 1817 London, heiress Sophia Hathaway decides she cannot go through with a marriage in which love is not in the equation. Instead, she flees from the society wedding of the year posing as a governess. She takes with her only her paints and sketchbook as she boards the Aphrodite owned by Mr. Benedict Grayson as Miss Turner.

Gray hopes his new position as a respectable owner will help him bury at sea his rascally rakish reputation. However, he finds himself in a new situation he has never confronted before in his life; his gut insists he protect prim and proper Sophia even as he also wants to seduce her. As they fall in love while braving the High seas, she must tell him the truth as to who she is and he must grab at a chance for true redemption.

This is an entertaining Regency romance starring a rake seeking proof he is reformed and a daring heiress seeking a life outside the gilded cage. Their adventures on the High Seas make for a terrific historical that will have sub-genre fans seeking Tessa Dare's previous novel (see GODDESS OF THE HUNT).

S.A. Swann
Spectra (Ballantine)
9780553807387 $15.00

In 1221 Brother Smenyon, the last survivor of his convent, kills the monster who murdered his compatriots. He is shocked to hear a baby cry and takes the female infant and the other young with him to raise the werewolf cubs as devout Christian warriors like he is.

In 1239 eighteen-year-old Lilly is a pious killing Christian, who with her super strength subjugates pagans who reject the Lord. However, Lilly differs from her peers as she wants out from the Teutonic Order that she feels abuses and uses them. To escape, she turns on her keepers, killing a dozen Christian soldiers. She flees into the wild where she meets one-armed Uldolf, whose family and village was the sight of a lupine massacre in 12 31. He offers friendship and much more to the frightened and confused young woman. However, The Teutonic Knights send Erhard von Stendal to kill traitorous Lilly and anyone abetting her.

This is a terrific paranormal medieval tale that runs on two strands as the story line portrays the complicated era in which Christianity is battling paganism and on a smaller scale the lead female's struggle with her violent past as a Christian killing machine. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action and a vivid look at the times near The Carpathian Mountains. However, this is a tale of possible redemption as Lilly who only knows life connotes death begins to learn new meanings.

Still Life with Elephant
Judy Reene Singer
9780061713750 $13.99

Horse trainer Cornelia "Neelie" Sterling is stunned to find her spouse Matt, a veterinarian is cheating on her with his practice's partner. Outraged, she tosses him out of their house, but fails to finalize their separation with a divorce though as a former social worker she knows she should. Neelie cannot make it permanent even when she learns his girlfriend is pregnant.

Neelie turns to donuts for solace, but finds out about strike three and four when she realizes their accounts are empty and their house has a second mortgage. When an opportunity to rescue an elephant in Zimbabwe arises, she jumps at the mission as does Matt. Philanthropist Thomas Princeton Pennington funds the quest, who falls in love with Neelie, but she distrusts men; instead showering her love on Margo the mother elephant and her baby. Meanwhile Tom and Matt compete trying to persuade Neelie to make room in her heart for one of them.

The key to this super character study of a cuckolded woman who distrusts men loves the elephants and their African habitat. Neelie has choices to make between the men who want into her life and what to do with Margo and her calf. Fans of strong character studies with a charming elephantine spin will want to read Judy Reene Singer's engaging tale of love between a woman and an elephant.

Audrey's Door
Sarah Langan
9780061624216 $7.99

Following the break up with her fiance Saraub and her mother's lapse into a coma, architect Audrey Lucas feels fortunate to find an apartment in Morningside Heights for under a $1000 a month as she was thinking of relocating to Queens. She moves into the historical Breviary, which was construed in 1861 and is an architect's delight with its rarely used "Chaotic Naturalism" style.

Audrey is a bit taken aback to learn the previous occupant drowned her four small children before killing herself, but prefers bad vibes to the boroughs. Soon after moving in, Audrey's mind begins to lose its grip on sanity. Ghosts and other renters warn her to construct a door before it is too late although the other living occupants are urban hermits of sorts hiding behind the doors they each built. Still even as she is aware she is losing it, Audrey obsessively begins to build the door so they can escape

AUDREY'S DOOR is an engaging haunted apartment house horror thriller that grips the readers mostly because of its Columbia University location; a seemingly unlikely place for a haunting unless you know the neighborhood overlooking Harlem. Audrey is a wonderful protagonist who is loaded with neurotic tendencies. Although the climax can be on a foggy day as far away as Hoboken, fans will enjoy Sarah Langan's tense Gotham thriller.

The Hour I First Believed
Wally Lamb
9780060988432 $15.99

Leaving Three Rivers, New Hampshire, Caelum and Maureen Quirk accept positions in the Denver area. However, Caelum never envisioned teaching creative writing to untalented averse students. He becomes even angrier over what his wife was doing.

Meanwhile Maureen is a nurse at Columbine High in quiet Littleton. As Caelum, who is in New Hampshire caring for a sick aunt, and others are watching the news in horror in April 1999 two students go on a shooting rage. Caelum fears the worse for his wife; as his creative mind ponders in fear if she is still alive and following the massacre how will she cope with survivor guilt.

This is a deep look at the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy as Wally Lamb shows how the survivors of the massacre suffer from a variety of emotional issues including survivor guilt. The story line is character driven as Caelum in New England especially goes through a myriad of emotions while Maureen who cowered in a cabinet wonders what she could have done to stop the carnage. The rumination that every family harbors potential killers like the two teen suicide mass murderers seems unnecessary; the profundity of the tale is with the way people find defense mechanisms to cope with an unforeseen trauma. THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED is a super tale that will leave readers filled with anguish and wondering how to prevent this and Virginia Tech from occurring at a time when people arrive at volatile presidential events wearing provoking dress statements of semi automatics as suspenders.

Sleepless Nights
Sarah Bilston
9780060889944 $24.99

Tom and British expatriate Quinn are ecstatic over her pregnancy and the birth of their first child Samuel. The Wall St. legal duo feels their life is perfect. Then Samuel comes home. The baby does not sleep at night howling louder than a banshee; which means his parents also do not sleep at night. They are learning first-hand how a colicky infant leads to cranky parents as their lives are being nuked while they cannot afford much time away from Wall St. at a time when recession requires more work from those still employed.

Their friend Paul allows Tom and Q to use his Connecticut getaway home while Q's younger sister, Jeanie baby sits, giving her a temporary place to sleep as she remains unemployed. Tom and Q consider buying the small-town law practice of Kent, who is on a 24/7 drinking binge. The married couple takes over advising Kent's client, financially strapped Emmie who is in a custody battle with her former husband Ryan; infamously known for domestic abuse, but connected with the cops and the medical community on his side. He possesses insider information on the death of her other child Angela (from another father). The married legal eagles learn Angela's doctor prescribed aspirin for the child; a medicine linked to Reyes syndrome, but collusion hinders their efforts to make their case.

The fun in this thriller is the baby nuking the well being of his parents with his colicky non-sleep. The legal and secondary romantic subplots go as expected, but Samuel refreshes the story line as it hard to defend a client against an influential adversary on no sleep; tired, irritable, and anxious are just a few adjectives. The sequel to BED REST is an engaging tale as QT stands for quality time defined as giving up their Wall St. kingdom for a good night's sleep.

Girl Trouble
Holly Goddard Jones
9780061776304 $14.99

This eight story collection "answers" the Beatles question in Eleanor Rigby: "Where do all the lonely people go?"; they go to Roma Kentucky. Each tale focuses on a person(s) who has personal moral issues relating to others that bring their own ethics into question like the father of a son accused of rape (title tale) or married with a newborn basketball coach's star pregnant with his child ("Life Expectancy"). The entries are quite good, but the locale can feel repetitive as it limits the environment; as such this reviewer suggests reading GIRL TROUBLE over a couple of weeks. The best short stories especially worth reading together are the insightful duality entries of "Parts" and "Proof of God"; the same incident the vicious murder of a young girl is told by her mother and her killer. The townsfolk make Holly Goddard Jones's compilation worth a visit to Kentucky.

Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea
Noah Andre Trudeau
9780060598686 $16.99

This terrific historical takes a fascinating deep look at Sherman's "march to the sea" in 1864 in which his superior Grant had major doubts about the supply line reaching the troops. Noah Andre Trudeau makes the case that the destruction across Georgia was not as total as some believe due to the assault on key commercial targets and somewhat civilians hit by the elite Northern Army. Instead, the march was less destructive than other Civil War battles and only considered harsh and damaging because for much of the war, Georgia was immune due to its location in the Deep South and away from the Mississippi. The goal of the march was psychological as Sherman and his army brought home to the Confederacy no place is safe. Additionally, Mr. Trudeau reminds readers that key information was provided to the Union army by liberated slaves yet Sherman proved ever the racist when he discarded the freed bondsmen once he used them. This is a super account that will open the eyes of the audience.

The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece
Vernon Silver
9780061558283 $26.99

Vernon Silver shines a spotlight over the shockingly cut-throat often illegal (by even renowned museums) competition for priceless ancient art by focusing on a kylix by famous ancient Greek artisan Euphronios. Twenty-four centuries ago the renowned potter created a chalice that vanished into ancient antiquity only to surface in 1971 when tomb robbers digging near Cerveteri, Italy, uncovered the Greppe Sant'Angelo tomb. The tombaroli thieves sold the piece to a dealer, who sold it to an American who sold it to the Metropolitan Museum for $1 million in 1972. It was purchased by a dealer in 1990 only to vanish again until 2008 when it was returned to Italy.

This is a fascinating though convoluted account that will shock and fascinate readers. Mr. Silver provides a deep look at art accountability, theft, and private and public sales as larcenous behavior including private "burials" has been the norm. THE LOST CHALICE is surprisingly exciting, insightful and stunning nonfiction.

A Duty to the Dead
Charles Todd
9780061791765 $24.99

In 1916, British army nurse Bess Crawford is injured when the hospital ship she is on is hit. However while she recovers she promised dying soldier Arthur Graham she would deliver his last words to his brother Jonathan that he lied for their mother's sake.

Believing strongly she owes A DUTY TO THE DEAD, Bess heads to Kent to transmit the message. She learns that another brother of Arthur, Peregrine, has been locked up in an asylum since he was a young teen for murdering the housemaid; he is also dying from pneumonia and desperately needs expert nursing; Bess agrees to provide it and after spending some time with her new patient concludes he is sane though he has selective amnesia not recalling the tragedy that condemned him. As she tends to Peregrine, another patient of hers commits suicide, but something about the death disturbs Bess. When Peregrine recovers much of his health, he flees taking Bess with him as he tries to regain his lost memory of what happened to Lily. Bess further learns of other suspicious deaths since Peregrine was locked away that makes her suspect other family members including her favorite patient, the late Arthur.

Although Inspector Rutledge takes a needed rest, fans will enjoy this strong WWI village amateur sleuth starring a spunky lead character, reminiscent of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs early years, caught in the middle of a family drama. The story line brings out the horrors of war through Bess' ailing and dying patients while the whodunit is cleverly devised so the audience and the nurse will keep guessing until the climax. Charles Todd has started another winning historical mystery series.

Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game
Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe
9780061728389 $25.99

They are America's richest family, but the rivalry between twin sisters Eve Webster and Alexandria Templeton over who will run the multibillion-dollar international Kruger-Brent, Ltd. has been harrowing to the rest of the brood. They even compete at birthing; Eve gives birth to Max while Alexandra dies giving birth to Lexi.

Eve trains her son to be ruthless and hateful while Lexi's dad and her older brother shower her with love. When Peter is ten he kills his dad; when Lexi is eight she is raped. Over a decade later, the next generation war over who will run Kruger-Brent as history repeats itself. Meanwhile Scottish barrister Gabriel McGregor has come a long way from his impoverish childhood in Aberdeen, but believes his destiny lies with Kruger-Brant.

Almost three decades since Sidney Sheldon's MASTER OF THE GAME, Tilly Bagshawe shows her chutzpah and skill writing a fascinating sequel with the next generation fighting for control. Filled with surprising and yet gripping twists while starring two fully developed lead characters and a solid support cast, MISTRESS OF THE GAME is an enjoyable tale as each of the competitors are chips off the old block. Fans of the original will appreciate the sequel while wondering who will win the game.

The Natural History of Unicorns
Chris Lavers
9780060874148 $26.99

This is an intriguing nonfiction work searching beyond the varied mythical legends to the aptly titled THE NATURAL HISTORY OF UNICORNS. Chris Lavers escorts his audience to a world five hundred years before Jesus in which Greek physician Ctesias living in Persia describes the unicorn that has become the basis of mythos. Lavers follows up on the Ctesias' account with a deep look at similar horned species especially the Tibetan chiru. He takes the legend to Christ as the first Christians connected the "animal's" purity to Jesus but cites a biblical reference of a Jewish cow becoming a unicorn. .The author goes in great depth into medieval times and their tapestries and the nineteenth century romanticists who relished the purity of the unicorn. Even though the enlightenment scientists claimed there were never such a beast, the unicorn lives today in books and movies as a fantasy creature but Mr. Levers makes a strong case with a few sidebar cul de sac trips that the fabled beast has its roots in real animals. The author's energy will hook readers from the onset as fans will follow the discourse of Chris Laver's deep look into THE NATURAL HISTORY OF UNICORNS.

Necessary as Blood
Deborah Crombie
9780061287534 $24.99

Scotland Yard detectives Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid are getting married shortly. However just getting to the altar has stressed out both as peers and family list their demands that seem to grow every day

Someone murders solicitor Naz Malik, who had been a suspect in his wife textile collage artist Sandra Gilles's disappearance. The autopsy revealed that the victim, who died from suffocation, had an animal tranquilizer in his blood, which made him an easy target for his killer. When Gemma's mother becomes ill, she struggles to balance her homicide investigation, her wedding plans and h4er mom's needs while she fears Malik's daughter will end up with Sandra's insalubrious family.

The latest James-Kincaid British police procedural is an interesting entry as the romance for the first time supersedes the investigation. Both Gemma and Duncan consider running off to Gretna Green as nothing seems to go right with their wedding plans and the demands grow. The homicide is a welcome relief until her mom becomes ill. NECESSARY AS BLOOD is a fine fresh entry, but with the romance being prime, diehard investigative fans will find the smooching spin too sugary for their taste.

Evidence of Murder
Lisa Black
9780061544484 $24.99

Eight months have passed since Cleveland forensic expert and single mom Theresa MacLean's fiance Paul Cleary was killed during a bank robbery. She has tried to move on, but still grieves her loss and struggles at home and on the job.

The murdered corpse of twenty-four year old former escort Jillian Perry is found in the nearby woods. Theresa's cousin homicide detective Frank asks her to help him on the investigation. She disagrees with the prevalent police theory that Jillian committed suicide. Instead Jillian had turned her life around and had every reason to live as she loved and cherished her five-month-old child and was a newlywed with an adoring husband, who along with a partner was about to make millions on a video game they invented. Soon after she joins the inquiry, a man steps forward claiming he is Jillian's boyfriend and files for custody of her baby.

The sequel to TAKEOVER is a fabulous forensic investigative thriller as the murder case ironically brings Theresa back to life though she still mourns her loss. The police investigation is intelligent though it contains a high degree of implausibility. Still the audience will not care as readers will root for the heroine who brings sass and wit to the job.

John Passarella
Virtuous Circle
P.O. Box381, Swedesboro, N. J. 08085
9781448648566 $14.99

As their ancestors have done for millennia, the extended Walker family conscientiously closes the holes ripped into the space-time continuum by beings from other planes. Some get through in spite of the efforts of the dependable Walkers who each have a unique paranormal skill. Those Outsiders who are harmless and harmlessly crossed are helped back; those who are dangerous are escorted back more diligently or destroyed before they cause harm on earth.

However, the Walker population is shrinking and increasingly finding it difficult to accomplish their mission. Douser Logan Walker expects something horrific will soon occur in Hadenford, New Jersey. His family moves to the town in search of rifts to patch before the disaster happens. At his new high school, Logan meets for the first time KINDRED SPIRIT Fallon Maguire, who sketched his face in her dream journal two weeks ago. She consults with Logan's great-grandfather, Ambrose, who explains she has an unbound talent unlike most people. The rifts are getting darker, slimier, and harder to seal. Thalia Walker has just returned after being pulled through a rift with her brain damaged; she paints horrible pictures of blood and gore while proclaiming the Butcher Reaper of Flesh is coming.

This is a superb urban horror fantasy that grips the audience throughout; as the Black Rift over New Jersey keeps coming back wider and wider leaving fans and the Walker brood expecting doom as their hope WITHERS away. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the Walker family especially Logan seems genuine as soldiers fighting the Outsiders. John Passarella provides his fans with a strong good vs. bad thriller with the malevolent crowd the stronger bet to triumph.

Must Love Hellhounds
Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook
9780425229590 $15.00

"The Britlingens Go to Hell" by Charlaine Harris. Crick the client hires Britlingens bodyguards Batanya and Clovache to protect him from Lucifer's minion as he retrieves something he took but left behind when his host the king of Hell's hospitality ended.

"Angels' Judgment" by Nalini Singh. Vampire trackers Sara and Deacon know the serial killer is from within their Guild, but identifying the psychopath murdering vampires proves difficult.

"Magic Mourns" by Ilona Andrews. Andrea the Order of Knights Merciful Aid and werehyena Raphael meet and are attracted to one another as they seek a stolen corpse by tracking Cerberus the three-headed dog who normally sits at the entrance to Hades.

"Blind Spot" by Meljean Brook. Former CIA agent and current personal assistant to Colin the vampire Maggie and Sir Pup the Hellhound try to rescuer her boss' kidnapped nephew and niece.

These are four fun fantasies that readers will enjoy as each contribution is entertaining with lead players who MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS as they deal with these pets and others from hell.

The Ninth Daughter
Barbara Hamilton
9780425230770 $14.00

In 1773, the Sons of Liberty demand representation in England's Parliament and a say in running the colonies that they consider a country. They are preventing a ship containing tea imported by the West Indian Company from unloading. Abigail Adams is at the periphery of the standoff as her spouse John is one of the leaders of the tea boycott. She visits her friend Rebecca Malvern, who tells her that her husband abuses her.

Abigail finds a corpse of a woman on the kitchen floor. Before she goes for help, she notices Sons of Liberty items everywhere. John and his brother Sam arrive to clean up the mess; the victim is Perdita Pentyre married to a wealthy merchant and mistress to the colonial governor. Rebecca is missing and Abigail believes she has been abducted. She intends to find her friend as does Sam who believes Rebecca possesses a ledger containing the names of the Sons of Liberty in other colonies and the cipher which is used to communicate with them. As her husband is accused of murder, her inquiry takes her into the worst sections of Boston where homicide is a daily activity.

Barbara Hamilton writes a super Revolutionary War era Massachusetts Bay Colony amateur sleuth starring real historical figures who fans the flames of revolt two years before the "shot hear round the world" (Emerson's usage and not that of Bobby Thompson). The mystery is well crafted even though the audience knows John is obviously not the killer since this is not an alternate historical. The story line provides a deep look at Boston as rebellion is in the air. Fans will want to join the tea party hosted by Ms. Hamilton with guests being a who's who of Colonial Massachusetts.

How To Dazzle A Duke
Claudia Dain
9780425229682 $15.00

In 1802 London, logical Lady Penelope Prestwick has decided nothing less than a duke will do for her. She has even selected her future husband though Lord Edenham is ignorant of that fact. However, the perceptive Penelope needs a super mentor if she is to succeed on her quest; she asks the incredible matchmaker and former courtesan Sophia Dalby to assist her.

Penelope's plan, based on Sophia's insider tips to the workings of the minds of men whose quality is below the waist, is to persuade Lord Iveston to fake a courtship in order to make her duke jealous. Her scheme works perfectly except for one minor problem; Iveston has his own scheme and his kisses seem to be making his execution supersede hers.

This is an intriguing Regency romance starring an interesting heroine whose plot works faultlessly except for one small problem; she falls in love with a Marquess. The story line is slowed down a bit by a seemingly cast out of a Cecil B. DeMille epic. However fans of the courtesan saga (see THE COURTESAN'S SECRET, THE COURTESAN'S WAGER and THE COURTESAN'S DAUGHTER) will relish the amusing antics of many of the returnees in support roles as brainy Penelope learns the perils of the heart.

Mortal Seductions
Allyson James
9780425229705 $15.00

A former vengeance demon, Valerie took an oath of celibacy to serve Aphrodite as a high priestess bringing together couples in love. Her former lover, demigod Demitri the tiger-shapeshifter still loves her as he has for three millennia.

They each meet and are attracted to shapeshifter Leon Dupree, Val's current project. However, unable to resist, Val breaks her vow to Aphrodite by having sex with the hunks; this releases the demon side of her that has been buried since she pledged fealty to the fickle Goddess of Love. Val expects Aphrodite to kill her, but instead the Goddess shows clemency by giving Val a chance to merge her two opposite personas into one person, but must do so in two weeks. Demitri and Leon must assist her; if they refuse or fail, all three will die.

The sequel to MORTAL TEMPTATION is an interesting erotic romantic urban fantasy starring a likable lead trio whose sexcapades include menage a trois and MM and a strong schizoid premise. However, even with the clock ticking away, neither of the males or the two faces of Val never seem emotionally passionate beyond sex. Still fans will enjoy the latest immortal "Mortal" tale enhanced by a couple of seemingly single forever yuppies.

Skull Duggery
Aaron Elkins
9780425227978 $24.95

Julie Oliver's cousin Anne invites her and her "Bone Detective" husband Gideon to spend some time at the family's owned Hacienda Encantada dude ranch in Teotitlan del Valle, Mexico. The pair looks forward to escaping wintry Washington State. Upon arrival in Mexico, Julie is put to work to filling in for relatives missing in action.

Soon afterward, temporary and definitely reluctant police chief Flaviano Sandoval invites Gideon to look at the mummified remains of a drifter Manuel Garcia, and then the bones of a long-dead little girl who's never been identified. Meanwhile another theory debunked by the visitors is what happened to Anne's mom who allegedly ran off with a thief as Gideon ties past and present by reading the bones.

This is a terrific forensic anthropologic whodunit as Gideon widens his inquiry into the past and present happenings at Hacienda Encantada where he and his wife suddenly find themselves amidst UNEASY RELATIONS. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never decelerates until the climax; yet there is plenty of forensic insight provided by the Bone Detective. SKULL DUGGERY is a fabulous investigative mystery.

Barely Bewitched
Kimberly Frost
9780425229613 $14.00

In Duvall, Texas WOULD BE WITCH Tammy Jo Trask wants her stolen locket back so she plans to take it from her enemy. However, Tammy Jo has a bigger problem than purloined jewelry. The World Association of Magic demands she defend herself for illegal use of magic. Two witches are assigned to prepare Tammy Jo for her defense under fire.

She has also been told to stay away from master mage Bryn Lyons, whom she is attracted to at a time her former spouse Deputy Sheriff Zach stays away from her having felt he wasted money on her when he got her a shrink whom she drove crazy. While all this is going on Tammy Jo accidentally sends impish fairies on Duvall; just another nasty stretch for a BARELY BEWITCHED novice.

The sequel to WOULD-BE WITCH continues the magical misadventures of Tammy Jo who is accused of practicing bewitching spells without a license. The amusing story line is fast-paced albeit a bit thin even with the heroine struggling with romance, magic, bureaucracy, family, and romance, which for this Texan means toil and trouble as she lands in the proverbial vat. Fans will enjoy the escapades of Tammy Jo in this jocular urban fantasy.

Dipped, Stripped, and Dead
Elise Hyatt
9780425230787 $6.99

Candyce "Dyce" Dare had a real short marriage which she ended when her husband slapped her. They have joint custody of their son Enoch, nicknamed E. However, her income is low, but she fears asking her husband for support because she believes he will go to court to demand full custody of the little E.

Her new business Daring Finds, a furniture refinishing firm, has not brought in enough money as expected of a new entity. Her inventory is cheap she finds pieces on sidewalks, yard sales and dumpsters. One day whole doing the dumpster dive, Dyce finds a table she believes could prove valuable; however, the corpse filled with lye sharing the dumpster with the table could prove distracting. Soon afterward, her apartment is vandalized with epithets painted on her door. Dyce thinks the perp has a key to her place. On a walk, she finds another body that was soaked in lye in her garage. Both her best friend Ben and the lead detective want Dyce to stop sleuthing. He warns her to stop interfering with his official inquiry, but Dyce fears jail time as she is his number one suspect so Dyce keeps on investigating not quite understanding her tenacity could leaved her diced with lye.

Elise Hyatt is a welcome addition to the lighthearted amateur sleuth sub-genre due to an enjoyable absorbing whodunit. Her heroine is 200-proof spunk as she has an amusing out of time but charming way at looking at life; if she lived in the 1950s she would have been On the Road with Kerouac and Cassidy and spouting poetry with Ginsburg and the beat generation over Moon River. Still with all this capriciousness, she is a fully doting mom raising her son. The support cast is solid especially Big Ben who feels responsible for Holly-go-Lightly and the little E.

Romancing The Pirate
Michelle Beattie
9780425230855 $7.99

In 1657 when her father died in Port Royal, Alicia Davidson learns the truth about who she really is; at least her roots. Apparently a victim of amnesia, she is not the biological daughter of the blacksmith who raised her. She also learns the scar on her face came when she was a little girl who survived a pirate attack at sea. Finally Alicia finds out she has a sister living in the Caribbean.

Although she remembers none of this, Alicia has a deep need to meet her sibling Samantha (see WHAT A PIRATE DESIRES). She begs Captain Blake Merritt to take her on his ship heading to the Caribbean, but he refuses. He loathes any Davidson having left that household in disdain years ago vowing never to return. To his chagrin, what he thought was the end of the story is only the beginning as Alicia sneaks onto his ship. When he discovers the stowaway, Blake realizes he must get her on dry land soonest as he is attracted to the adopted daughter of a man he loathes. Still crossing the Atlantic proves his undoing as he falls in love with his unwanted guest and to her shock she reciprocates. However, his loathing of her family and a betrayal leave the captain and the stowaway with seemingly no future together on land or at sea.

The story line is a fast-paced historical romance that brings to life the seventeenth century Caribbean Islands like Jamaica and St. Kitts. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two obstinate opposites who find love at sea. Fans will enjoy cruising the Caribbean with Michelle Beattie as the guide. ROMANCING THE PIRATE is an enjoyable and exciting tale.

To Catch a Bride
Anne Gracie
9780425230220 $7.99

In 1817 England Rafe Ramsey decides to delay a marriage of convince by seeking missing heiress Alicia Cleeves, who vanished in Egypt six years ago. The son of an earl, Rafe sees his African adventure as a last fling before he says I do.

In Egypt, Rafe meets Ayisha, who had lived on the streets of Cairo as a boy until a family took her in. He is attracted to Ayisha, but cannot persuade her to come to England as Alicia to meet her family. She prefers to stay in her home country though he brings unwanted yearnings for him. As they fall in love, he persuades her to go with him to England, but once there he finds his role changed; someone wants the exotic heiress dead.

The latest Devil Riders (see THE STOLEN PRINCESS and HIS CAPTIVE LADY) Regency romantic thriller is fast-paced in Cairo and London with the key to the brisk plot being the unique mysterious Ayisha-Alice. Fans will enjoy learning her secret that makes her fear going to England where her grandmother would welcome her with love and wonders whether Rafe can win her heart while ignoring the wrath of his family. TO CATCH A BRIDE is a fabulous historical.

Waking Nightmare
Kyle Brant
9780425230237 $7.99

Savannah, Georgia is shook by a brutal serial rapist. Police detective Ryne Robel leads the investigation, but needs manpower to capture the violent culprit. The tough cop is extremely unhappy when the best the brass can give him is waif like forensic profiler Abbie Phillips of Mindhunters, a private firm.

However, Abbie quickly proves her worth as a criminologist when she figures out the motive of the sociopath. They also learn the predator uses a designer drug that induces extra fear from the victims because the rapist customizes the cocktail to the person. As they begin to work on how a person is chosen, the pair is also attracted to one another. However, taking down this vicious monster supersedes personal desires.

The first Mindhunters romantic suspense emphasizes from the onset the suspense leaving the romance somewhat in the background. This is critical to the thrilling story line as the scenes with the killer in them are nightmarishly gruesome so that kisses would seem inappropriate (except perhaps for Rocky Horror fans). The story line is somewhat standard serial killer police procedural. However, the changing relationship between the lead partners from disdain to respect plus the deep look at modern day criminology make for a great opening act for whodunit fans.

Pleasure and Purpose
Megan Hart
9780425229699 $14.00

"Stillness". The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace send Stillness to provide comfort to Edward who is overcome by guilt and remorse for what he did to friends and family. She realizes what a handmaiden provides normally will not be enough to fulfill his need; to do that she must show him that even he can receive love, but for her to offer her love means leaving the Order and its five guiding principles.

"Honesty". The handmaiden knows it is time to move on from the Order she has served in for years. She agrees to take on one last needy client. Spoiled Prince Cillian expects everyone to obey his commands though he insists he wants what Edward has, but Honesty plans to show him that love is greater than obedience.

"Determinata". Alaric has become an uncaring person even failing to care for himself as he turns to drugs and sex to hide his pain. His friends Edward and Cillian are worried about him. Dominant Handmaiden Determinata is sent to mend his broken heart and end his depression by dominating this submissive

These three enjoyable erotic romances are entertaining Order of Solace tales, but as one expects from Megan Hart also contain strong characters and intriguing somewhat interrelated plots DEEPER than what one would expect of sub-genre novellas.

Dark Slayer
Christine Feehan
9780425229736 $25.95

The vampire hunter Ivory, and her seven Carpathian wolf pack and her normal wolf pack head home after killing two vampires only to find a dying man. To her horror she knows this Carpathian is her lifemate. He tells her to leave him die as the evil Xavier uses his body to cause death. He is Xavier's grandson and sold his soul to save his daughter and sister. Ivory knocks him out and takes him to her hidden shelter while Xavier searches for Razvan. She will heal him and if he still chooses death, so be it.

Ivory sees a child tied in snares, which is a trap. With her wolves she kills a ghoul, but her brother master vampire Sergey escapes before the Carpathian healer Gregori and Prince Mikhail arrive. They offer to heal her, but she refuses as she wants nothing to do with Carpathians. Though not fully healed Razvan knows his lifemate is in trouble. She has given him hope that she can kill Xavier as she told him that is why she lives. Razvan arrives placing a knife to Mikhail's neck. Mikhail calmly tells Gregori to heal Ivory. He does and is stunned that she was once sliced into many pieces and should be dead. Ivory and Gregori heal Razvan. She explains her only friends are the wolves as her brothers chose the power of the vampire and sacrificed her. Ivory and Razvan plan to kill Xavier or die trying.

The relationship between the lead couple is fresh and gender bending as she leads the excursions against Xavier. The Carpathian support cast is strong especially the wolf pack, the prince and the healer while the malevolent villain is brilliant using modern science as well as magic to attack his foes and the heroine's brothers, though we meet only one of them, are pure evil. This is a super entry, which long time fans will enjoy including the addition of background information appendices though newcomers will feel awed by the Feehan mythos.

Sink Trap
Christy Evans
9780425230794 $6.99

She was the CEO of Samurai Security, a computer security firm; that was before someone she loved and trusted nuked her world. She does not believe she can trust men ever again, but she needs a job doing something she likes. In Pine Ridge, Oregon, Georgiana Neverall becomes a plumber's apprentice in Barry's company.

Retired librarian Miss Martha Tepper hires lawyers Rich and Rachel Gladstone to get her house and warehouse fixed for sale. They in turn employ Barry's firm to do the plumbing part of the job. While at the warehouse, Georgiana finds Miss Tepper's broach in the trap of a utility sink; she begins to think something nasty happened to the former librarian as the spinster wore that broach everyday of her life and would never be seen without it. She also left the rest of her favorite jewelry, clothing and make-up behind. Someone tries to run Georgie off the road and she has incidents involving plumbing fixtures and that have been sabotaged. The plumber falls down steps that someone tampered with. She not only believes Miss Tepper is dead, but now is convinced someone wants her dead too. The apprentice investigates seeking to ferret out a killer who clogs sinks.

This first book of a new amateur sleuth series appears to indicate that Christy Evans has a hit on her hands. The townsfolk seem genuine and rustically charming as they are neighborly and welcome the queen of distrust Georgie into their warm fold. Georgie is emotionally battered and shattered, but at the same time logically moves on as she has no time for self-pity. Although the investigative plot is a bit thin, it is fun to follow as Georgie goes where no computer security specialist goes before into the world of crap and killers.

Tragic Magic
Laura Childs
9780425229897 $24.95

After three long years wrangling over a divorce, Carmela Bertrand and Seamus are near a settlement if his sister Gloria minds her business. In the meantime, four years since Katrina, Carmela, owner of Memory Mine scrapbook shop, is finally finding her customers coming back and making money. Her friend, Melody Mayfeldt is up against a deadline to convert an old mansion Medusa Manor into a haunted house that will attract customers from all over the country. When Carmela and her friend Ava Gruiex, owner of Juju Voodoo, are near Medusa Manor, they hear a loud explosion and see a fiery body flying through a window.

The victim is Melody; a shaken Carmela and Ava are accosted by Melody's silent partner Olivia Wainwright who pleads with them to get the haunted house ready in time for the horror convection DiscordaCon. Carmela's significant other Detective Edgar Babcock tells her that Melody's husband Garth, owner of the Fire and Ice high end jewelry store, is the prime suspect; as the shop is bankrupt and he recently took out insurance on his late wife. Carmela and the cops have other suspects, but as each investigates separately increasingly Garth looks guilty.

New Orleans is still trying to return to normal as the Big Easy, but there is plenty left to do. Although fans will have to accept Carmela's need to sleuth, as part of her being a strong independent person who refuses to let neither Seamus nor Edgar bully her; ironically their motives on the altruism scale are wide apart. Fast-paced with plenty of action, TRAGIC MAGIC is terrific scrapbooking amateur sleuth mystery in which the audience will enjoy stomping through the mud while trying to determine who killed Melody before the heroine can.

The Widow's War
Mary Mackey
9780425227916 $15.00

In 1853 in Rio de Janeiro, Carolyn "Carrie" Vinton knows she cannot grieve the loss of her fiance, abolitionist Dr. William Saylor, as she carries his child although she is not sure what to do. That is until William's stepbrother, Deacon Presgrove, arrives in Brazil from the United States and proposes marriage; insisting it is a family matter of honor. Feeling she has no choice with her being pregnant, she accepts. They return to Kansas as husband and wife only for her to find out that she has fallen for a ruse; as William is alive and Deacon's family are slavery sympathizers.

Bleeding Kansas continues unabated and deadly. Carrie disregards her safety to find William. As the battle on the Plains remains heated and deadly, Carrie finds her beloved, but he and their and their child are kidnapped by pro-slavers. Carrie recruits the help of an African-American cavalry unit to free her beloved and their son

This is a great 1850s historical thriller that showcases how in the territory on the Great Plains the prime issue was whether a new state entered on the Free or Slavery Side of the debate. The story line is loaded with action while providing a powerful look through fully developed protagonists of Bleeding Kansas where many believe the Civil War first began rather than at Fort Sumter. Mary Mackey provides a strong Americana saga as the decade leading to the war is bloody.

Show No Fear
Marliss Melton
9780446509275 $6.99

Her superior at the CIA wants field agent Lucy Donovan to spend more time healing from her last operation. She insists she is ready to go back out into the cold. Thus she is assigned her next project to work with Lieutenant Gus Atwater on a hostage negotiation.

Except for her pride Lucy would like to tell her boss she needs more time because of whom she is partnering with; they were once lovers so pretending to be a married couple working for the UN Human Rights initiative should prove easy. In Colombia, FARC operatives hold two CIA operatives; Lucy and Gus are to locate the pair and get out of the way so his SEAL Team 12 mates can extract them. However neither of the masquerading couple is comfortable with the scenario as something besides their hearts and libido seems wrong.

The latest SEAL Team 12 romantic suspense thriller is an action-packed entry that grips readers once the lead couple enters the Columbian jungle and never slows down until the final confrontation. The heat is on in several ways to include the steamy locale, the attraction between the lead pair, and the war zone they enter. Fans will relish this exciting life and death with love in the middle saga.

Tall, Dark & Fangsome
Michelle Rowen
9780446505857 $6.99

Sarah Dearly cannot believe how much her life has changed in just a few months. First she was changed into a vampire; then she became the Slayer of Slayers while learning to control the Nightwalker Curse by wearing the ugliest necklace ever created; and finally is the girlfriend of master vampire Thierry de Bennecoeur. Life as an undead has its rewards.

However one problem unresolved is somehow vampire hunter Gideon Chase did not burn to death (whatever death means) in hellfire as assumed by Sarah and others; instead he lives in limbo that needs him liberated within three days or else all hell will break loose starting with her beloved Thierry. To achieve this she must change evil Gideon into the most powerful vampire ever and dump her dearest Thierry; who does not sit idly by watching his girlfriend go to hell in a hand basket. Instead he "hires" vigilante justice guru the Red Devil to protect Sarah who believes she can bring the light of goodness into Gideon's soul; that is if any remains.

Although somewhat similar in tone to the previous lighthearted Immortality Bites (see STAKES AND STILETTOS, BITTEN AND SMITTEN, and FANGED & FABULOUS), fans of the series will appreciate Sarah's latest escapades as she tries to bring good to the bad. The story line is fast-paced, filled with amusing bits and bites, and never takes a breather as the heroine walks a thin line between hellfire damnation and B+ blood.

Susan Kearney
9780446543316 $6.99

Humanity's future appears to be extinction as sterility is the norm on Earth. Archeologist and Avalon expert Lucan Rourke is sent to planet Pendragon on a top secret mission to find the Holy Grail that he believes will save mankind.

On Pendragon High Priestess Lady Cael is the only female dragon shapeshifter. She and her colleagues are also seeking the Holy Grail believed hidden in Avalon, surrounded by impregnable energy barriers at a time when the surface is breaking apart. Lucan joins the top secret project, but even as he finds a way through their first obstacle, the military frames him and Cael for murdering two of their compatriots as they want the Grail for their own use.

This is an interesting blending of science fiction, Camelot mythos, and romance although the Arthurian fantasy elements seem somewhat out of place. Lucan knows his mission has no time for love, but he finds it difficult to stay the course after meeting Cael. The High priestess understands her mission, but has the same issues as Lucan has after their first encounter. Although somewhat overwhelming with the Camelot in space theme as earth is infertile, fans will enjoy the first Pendragon Legacy thriller while looking forward to the escapdes of Lucan's sister Marisa and Rion of planet Honor.

Hunt Her Down
Roxanne St. Claire
9781439102213 $7.99

Fourteen years ago, undercover FBI Dan Gallagher was the key player in destroying the drug smuggling operation of El Viejo. He knows his success in sending father and son to prison was due to his informant Maggie Varcek, girlfriend of El Viejo's son Ramon. To protect Dan, the Feds insured he "died", but did nothing for Maggie, left alone, frightened and pregnant.

El Viejo and Ramon are no longer in prison. They want their loot and vengeance on the woman who betrayed them. Now a Bullet Catcher assistant chief, Dan heads to Marathon, Florida to warn and keep Maggie safe. Upon seeing him alive, she feels a zillion emotions, but knows what she felt then was real as she still loves him; however she has one secret he is unaware of; her teen Quinn carries his DNA.

Fans have waited a long time for Gallagher to swallow the bullet of love, but will find the wait worth the time. HUNT HER DOWN is a fabulous tale as Dan must return to the woman he loves but "deserted". Though he wanted to know what happened to her, he knew not to intrude because he could not stay away from his beloved as he proves when he returns from the dead. The hunt for the loot augments a super Bullet Catcher romantic suspense saga.

The Fruit of Her Hands
Michelle Cameron
9781439118221 $25.00

Her widower father Rabbi Ashkenaz raises her with his Christian housekeeper as if Shira is a boy as he educates her. When her father is arrested as a heretic, she and one of his students Rabbi Meir ben Baruch saves his life. Shira and Meir fall in love and marry. They relocate to Paris where French scholar Nicholas Donin obsesses over the beautiful intelligent Jewess. Ironically as he fixates on Shira, he continues his angry harangue that Jews are Lucifer's supporters. Meir believes they must counter his anti-Semitic tirade while Shira is more passive about what they should do. However, she understands Donin also threatens her marriage, which she concludes is a microcosm of the Jewish situation in Europe since the assault by Donin began in earnest. So she agrees with her spouse they must take a stand before a continent wide ethnic cleansing purge begins.

This is an intriguing thirteenth century biographical fiction novel starring a somewhat sedate heroine and the two livelier passionate men in her life. The irony of this engaging historical is that the volatile Donin and the courageous Baruch are much more fascinating than the somewhat flaccid lead character whose goal like many Jewish moms is keeping her family together safely. With a deep look at the Jewish lifestyle in peril in medieval France, readers will enjoy the "story of Shira Ashkenaz", wife of a renowned Jewish thirteenth century scholar.

The Light Of Burning Shadows
Chris Evans
9781416570530 $26.00

The Calahrian Empire still teeters from the assault of the elf witch Shadow Monarch whose allies include the new even more violent Viceroy of Elfkyna. Their greatest unit against the evil insurgency, the Iron Elves, remains disdained by their people for the tattoo representing their subservience to the Shadow Monarch. The people feel this way in spite of their great victory led by Commander Konowa Swift Dragon preventing the Shadow Monarch from obtaining the Red Star at the Battle of Luuguth Jor (see A DARKNESS FORGED IN FIRE).

Instead of lifting the frost fire curse from his men by using the Red Star, Konowa gives it to the Elfkynal; angering his soldiers who saw brothers in arms die and return as shades or maimed in the battle. Prince Tykkin directs Konowa to retrieve a new Star reported in the Hasshugeb Expanse. Konowa knows the witch will seek the Star too so he needs reinforcements so he sends Iron Elves to recruit those peers who failed to return when the unit was reactivated. He tries to calm down his outraged unit who believe they should be freed first and then defeat the evil while he deems they must defeat the evil first. At the same time the Shadow Monarch sends her servant the Viceroy of Elfkyna to darken the woodlands while a new flame has arisen that eats the shadow from the body until the person expires; death in those cases does not mean returning as a shade.

Although the overarching theme does not move forward, the second Iron Elves high quest fantasy is a great tale as Chris Evans expands the author's world adding much depth to it. The story line once again focuses on Konowa and his unit who though victorious still hurt mentally and physically from the recent battle and their commander's decision on the Red Star. Fans will enjoy this fine entry as Konowa seems on the verge of PTSD caused not just by sending men to die knowing they are cursed to become shades, but also having to make difficult decisions, which keep his men in harm's way.

Flesh and Fire
Laura Anne Gilman
9781439101414 $26.00

Jerzy was a vineyard slave, who shockingly can perform the magic of the Vinearts who are the greatest mages. They create the spellwines from grapes. The Vinearts had in their way become somewhat arrogant as they forgot their roots fourteen centuries ago when Sin Washer overthrew the most powerful Prince-mages. Still Jerzy becomes an apprentice to the Master of the House of Malech. However, soon after Jerzy changes positions, someone begins destroying the grape vines of the prominent but cloistered winemakers. Jerzy and the Master begin to investigate who would be destroying a way of life.

They begin to find proof that the culprit is a master magician on a par with the most experienced of the Vinearts. Soon afterward, Jerzy and the Master are in a fight for their lives with their lifestyle at stake from a potent magician who turns the fields into the grapes of wrath.

The use of grape vines as the source of magic makes for an invigorating refreshing fantasy that will have the audience toasting Laura Anne Gilman for her vino veritas thriller. The cast is super especially Jerzy, his Master and, a young still houseless Master; they and others make FLESH AND FIRE an intoxicating read as the war of the grapes begins.

Summer of Two Wishes
Julia London.
9781416547082 $7.99

Deep in love with one another, Macy and Finn Lockhart believe their life together is perfect as they work their horse ranch in Cedar Springs, Texas. When 9/11 occurs Finn enlists as he believes that is the patriotic right thing to do. However, a roadside bomb in Afghanistan kills him. In many ways back in Texas a devastated Macy feels dead inside.

Three years later, Macy finally is moving on. She is selling the ranch and marries Wyatt Clark who helped pull her out of the crippling fog of grief. However, soon after they exchange their marital vows, word arrives that Finn is alive and coming home expecting a joyful reunion with his wife.

This is an intriguing tale of choices to be made as Macy loves Finn but deeply admires Wyatt. Although the premise has been done mostly in comedic terms (see Move Over darling and My Favorite Wife), Julia London freshens it up by using a serious undertone. Ironically, that somber approach also leaves no Cary Grant or Doris Day like warmth to any of the triangle lead characters, even the returning from the grave hero. Still SUMMER OF TWO WISHES is an entertaining contemporary as the woman with two husbands must decide on one or none; as she cares about both of them.

The Child Thief
9780061671333 $26.95

Peter the elf persuades abused and runaway children that the mist covers the island of Avalon which is a haven for them unlike nearby Manhattan; The children always come because he has a silver tongue and primes them a refuge. He fails to warn the children until they arrive that the evil Flesh-eaters; men with scales and elongated claws led by the Captain want to kill them

Peter and his youthful soldiers and the Captain and his beastly pirates have been at war for centuries. Each death causes Avalon to lose some of its magic as the power of the Lady is waning. Devoted to the Lady, Peter and his army the Devils prepare for combat, but a new recruit Nick objects and wants to return to the mean streets of Manhattan. Peter refuses until the latest battle is done.

THE CHILD THIEF is a much darker version of Peter Pan than the Williams or Disney movies or the J.M. Barrie original novel from a century ago. Peter is obsessed with saving the Lady and the island which he has lived on for a millennium as seen in flashbacks. To continue to do so he needs an army and thus must charm throwaway children to voluntarily come with him. They always do, but Nick changes the equation when one dares to say he wants off the island. Well written, but extremely bleak and filled with gore, blood, and violence throughout, this trip to Never-Neverland spins the classic fairy tale into a realm in which war is hell.

Harold Robbins' The Shroud
Harold Robbins and Junius Podrug
9780765318312 $25.99

In New York City, dishonored antiquities expert Madison Dupre struggles to make a living ever since her reputation was shattered by the duplicitous late Sir Henry Lipton. Whenever she thinks of the man who destroyed her, she prays he is burning in hell.

Thus when her former associate calls her proving his death was an exaggeration, she is disappointed he still lives. However, Sir Henri, wanted on at lest three continents for art theft, offers her a deal she would love to refuse, but the $20,000 is desperately needed so she agrees to join him in Dubai in search of a painting of Jesus allegedly interred with him in his tomb just after the crucifixion. Sir Henri has an impatient client, Boris Alexandrovich Nevsky, eager to add the artifact to his collection. As she soon escapes death in Dubai, Istanbul and elsewhere, Madison knows she should have said no although the Russian is quite a hunk even if she distrusts him outside the boudoir.

The follow up to the LOOTERS is a typical Junius Podrug version of the late Harold Robbins' thrillers: filled with sex, sex, action, and sex in exotic locations that add to the intrigue of a heroine as a stranger in a strange land. The story line is fun to follow as Madison is having a good time dodging assassins though the plot is thin and too much in style like the "franchise" even with a strong religious element throughout the tale. Still fans of Mr. Robbins will have a good time following the lead female's escapisms as Mr. Podrug provides an entertaining thriller.

Dead Docket
Mitchell Graham
9780765322456 $24.99

They became lovers in New York City (see MAJESTIC DESCENDING), but while John Delaney is a Big Apple law professor, Katherine Adams is an Atlanta lawyer. They miss one another, but keep in contact though long distance relationships are difficult.

Delaney is excited and sad as he has a professional reason to see Katherine. Delaney is heading to Georgia to settle the estate of the daughter of his father's partner. Apparently Sarah fell off a cliff while camping in Cloudland Canyon in north Georgia Mountains. However, this simple matter turns ugly when Delaney learns O'Connor allegedly stole a file from the US Attorney's office where she worked as a legal intern; the file contained incriminating evidence against crime boss Warren Blendel. John soon realizes that Sarah's apartment was searched and that the FBI has kept a case open involving her and her boyfriend Andre Rostov. Not long after that Blendel's thugs come to Atlanta to bury anyone associated with the evidence. Katherine and John find a tie to his fathers' death as the case spins further out of control.

Throw away your plausibility meter somewhere on the East Coast and the reader will have a great time going along for the ride of an action-packed thriller. The story line is action-packed and feels at times out of control as Adams and Delaney land in one dangerous disaster after another. Filled with twists, fans will appreciate this entertaining but improbable thriller.

The War After Armageddon
Ralph Peters
9780765323552 $24.99

Israel has been nuked back to the Stone Age. Dirty bombs have devastated the major cities of Europe as well as Las Vegas and Los Angeles too. In fact L.A. is a radioactive desert. Muslin extremists are bringing Jihad to the West just like the West brought death squads seeking Islamic extremists.

The United Godfearing States of America elects an extremist Christian government. One of the first acts is to modify the National Guard into the Military Order of the Brothers in Christ (MOBIC). With a mess back home of fundamentalist Christians seeking a new Crusade that they hope will lead to the Rapture, Lieutenant General Gary "Flintlock" Harris commands troops on a beach assault of what is left of Israel. He and his fighting force are bringing the war to the Jihadists. High tech weapons of mass destruction have failed so fighting reverts back to pre electronic command and control. The world is on the brink of pandemic genocide as both sides in this religious war claim the Holy Land even if it is a wasteland.

This is a powerful cautionary tale that warns if present international and internal American relationships continue on the current path hell on earth will occur as religious fundamentalists who proclaim God's mandate makes them right will bring radioactive Crusades to the world. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Flintlock leads his unit onto the beaches of what was once called Israel, but now is a radioactive wasteland called The Emirate of Al-Quds and Damaskus; a long way from what was Mt. Carmel. Fans will appreciate Ralph Peters' deep thriller except for those who are always righteously right.

Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, Robin Schone
Kensington Brava
9780758246288 $14.00

"Mastering Lady Lucinda" by Bertrice Small. In 1750 Widow Lucinda rejects her sibling the Bishop's order to remarry. He arranges for her to be taught discipline by a master of the Devil's Disciples, but Lucinda cuts a deal to insure her brother meets his master while she seduces the club members into wanting more of her lusciousness.

"Risking It All" by Susan Johnson. In 1896 in Monte Carlo, a desperate Felicia risks all at the tables with the aid of Lord Grafton who offers her a few more nights with him.

"The Pleasure Game" by Thea Devine. In 1812 Regina decides to learn how to attract and keep a man; her friend Jeremy plans to be her permanent mentor.

"A Man And A Woman" by Robin Schone. Widow Megan wants intimacy in her relationships. Muhamed learned to make love in a harem, but not the pleasure of making love.
Neither expected much more than a tryst, but passion ignites between them.

These are four terrific erotic romances starring strong lead characters, especially the women in fascinating situations (not just sexual ones).

A Wee Christmas Homicide
Kaitlyn Dunnett
9780758216472 $22.00

In Moosetookalook, Maine, at the Scottish Emporium, owner Liss MacCrimmon is suspicious when Gavin Thorne of the Toy Box enters. He wants to buy the wee Scottish teddy bears at a dealer discount. She says no, but he drops a newspaper with an article on the latest toy craze of the season the Tiny Teddies. Across New England and probably the country, no store has any in stock except in Moosetookalook, Maine as Liss has a hundred; and Gavin and Marcia also have a supply.

With a snow-less Christmas, the economy is in a slump. Liss suggests advertising on TV, the Net and the newspapers the sale of the Tiny Teddies to bring in collectors to fill the empty hotels and restaurants, etc. desperate for a purchase. The three owners agree but Gavin gauges the supply and sells them for outrageous prices. Someone obviously irate shoots a bullet through his store window piercing the heart of the last Toy Teddie. Everyone assumes it was a dumb prank, but Liss finds Gavin SCONE COLD DEAD in his home executed with a shot to his heart. She is determined to find the killer though the State Police Officer Gordon who is her boyfriend tells her to keep her butt out of the investigation. Her obstinacy almost leads to the deaths of her and Gordon.

Kaitlyn Dunnett gives her readers a glimpse of what a small Maine town is like just prior to Christmas. Moosetookalook is populated by eccentrics who are independent and hard working. They rally around the tree for the good of the town. Although why Liss insists on probing the homicide of an obnoxious colleague is a bit over the top of Mt. Katahdin, fans will enjoy the holiday homicide in The Pine Tree State.

Sexy Beast VII
Kate Douglas, Anitra Lynn McLeod and Shelli Stevens
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228703 $12.95

"Chanku Challenge" by Kate Douglas. Beth learns she is Chanku and her soulmate is Nick. Although she relishes the sex, she must confront her past if she and Nick are going to reach the nirvana like other Chanku have with their soulmates.

"Eye of the Beholder" by Anitra Lynn McLeod. Larra knows the rumors that her new husband is truly a beast. She trembles in fear expecting a disfigured spouse, but Dauer instead caresses her into trembles of passionate happiness.

"His to Reclaim" by Shelli Stevens. Five years ago were-jaguars Gemma and Hunter knew they were soul mates from their first look, but he abruptly vanished. Now as she get ready to marry someone else, Hunter returns to kidnap his beloved.

These three fabulous erotic urban fantasy novellas are terrific tales starring lead protagonists who are great in the boudoir and insure the audience believes in shapeshifters. The added bonus is Kate Douglas' Chanku Sexy Wolf Tales saga continues with a quality entry matched in excellence by Shelli Stevens and Anitra Lynn McLeod.

Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228529 $12.95

Following the shocking sudden death of her father and the breaking up of her engagement to Michael, Kendra Carter suffers a nervous breakdown; in fact many believe she tried to commit suicide by mixing wine with pills though she denies it. As she struggles with her equilibrium, her stepbrother Gerald Carter shows his demon collection to her especially his latest addition, a copy of Delamelanicon, a kind demon occult "Unholy Bible"; allegedly written by Satan. Only thirteen copies were ever produced and few of those exist.

After exasperation for his spending two million from their dwindling trust fund, Kendra heeds the whispers to open the extremely rare tome. By doing so she liberates Remi the demon, who was trapped inside seemingly for eternity. Remi and Kendra are tied together in ways that Peter can only imagine. The demon seduces his disbelieving hostess with his touch and whisper yet though she screams for more; she assumes her mental health went further south though that part of her body is enjoying every sexual moment.

Kendra the disbeliever makes this super erotic romantic urban fantasy work on all levels. Remi and Peter are strong support characters with the former having a unique relationship with the lead heroine. The story line is fast-paced with several great twists as POSSESSION is much more than just nine tenths of the law.

Devour Me
Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238009 $13.95

"Dark Obsession". Although three centuries has passed since his ship and crew went down, Benjamin Bartlett still grieves and hides from the world. However, four people riding in a van seek shelter at his isolated mansion. He wants to say no, but one of them Star Reid stirs his blood. However, his past and her present threaten both their lives.

"Blood Lust". Vampire Christopher Marsh feels his hunt for a mythical talisman is nearing an end after seeking the artifact that allegedly will return him to mortality and perhaps archeologist Nicole Stephenson, the mortal he is ADDICTED to. That is if he can defeat the vampire who plans to drain his professor of her blood.

These are two interesting vampire romances starring solid depressed hunks and women who feel like they must have come out of a slasher movie as they make horrific choices that place them in danger. Still in spite of the females, DEVOUR ME contains two engaging vampiric romantic novellas that sub-genre fans will want to sink their teeth into.

The Sweet Spot
Kimberly Kaye Terry
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228765 $12.95

In Texas, Gabrielle Marlowe loves being a pharmacist, especially working at the community clinic. However, her personal life is ugly when she caught her drug dealing boyfriend Adam with Marissa. She leaves in anger and in pursuit of the best sex ever.

Gaby meets Sweet, owner of The Sweet Spot nightclub. She ends up in his loft unaware that he is an undercover FBI agent investigating Gaby and Adam. The trysts are the best either ever has ever had. Sweet also knows beyond a shadow of a doubt she is innocent except for her choices in men including a lying skunk like he believes he is because he does not accept his rationalization that it is his job. Instead Sweet concludes he owes his sweetheart nothing but the truth, but fears she will kick him to the curb even though they are living in his place.

THE SWEET SPOT is an exciting erotic FBI investigative thriller starring a confident hero who reminds the doubting lead female of a marine as he seems always ready for sex and felons. The under the covers (and elsewhere) romance supersedes the suspense, but sub-genre fans will not care as everyone will root for Gaby seeking the best sex ever turns tricks on THE SWEET (and salty) SPOT.

Belong To The Night
Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden and Sherrill Quinn
Kensington Brava
9780758238863 $14.00

"The Wolf, the Witch and Her Lack of Wardrobe" by Shelly Laurenston. In Smithville, Jamie struggles with controlling her bewitching paranormal skills. Wolfshifter Sheriff Tully knows Jamie has him bewitched. When they team up to fight a rogue pack, both has trouble focusing on the invaders.

"In the Dark" by Cynthia Eden. In Miami leopard-shifting FBI agent Sadie finds that her ex-lover Liam isn't dead, but he is not what one would say is alive except in a lower extremity. They team up to go after a serial killing leopard-shifter, but both have trouble focusing on the predator.

"City of the Dead" by Sherrill Quinn. In New Orleans, witch Dori and vampire Sabin seek her missing brother and to obtain the stolen powerful the Eye of Bastet amulet. Cajun cop Jake assists them in preventing a demon from witch genocide on All Hallows Eve.

These three urban fantasy police procedural romances are superb fun due to a strong cast (especially the good guys and gals) who make the paranormal seem genuine.

Plum Pudding Murder
Joanne Fluke
9780758210241 $24.00

December may be freezing in Lake Eden, Minnesota, but hearts are warm as the residents celebrate the holidays. This year entrepreneur Lunatic Larry Jaeger has created a Christmas shopping mall where he sells trees at cost. There are rides adding to the colonial like atmosphere as well as the Tree Lot store and food court in which the cookies are supplied by Cookie Jar owner Hannah Swensen and her business partner Lisa.

The Mayor has cut short his fishing trip because he is concerned over Jaeger's business practices and as an investor wants to make sure his is safe and as the mayor he wants to keep everyone who goes to the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot safe from Larry's financial maneuvering. Larry's business partner and fiancee gives accountant Luanne the books for Jaeger's Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot to audit; she is up all night to find why they fail to balance. Hannah looks in on her and helps her return the books. When Hannah and one of her boyfriends Norman go to Larry to pick up her check, they find him dead and his large screen TV shot with holes. Her other boyfriend Mike the cop zeroes in on a suspect, but Hannah disagrees. She investigates with the help of friends and family and is almost killed by the real culprit.

Minnesota in the winter as seen through the eyes of the natives is pictured as a freezing, snow filled and wind blown; yet these same natives find plenty of fun things to do to keep from going stark crazy. Thus the cast adds a sense of a vivid seasonal place that anchors the whodunit. This long running amateur sleuth retains the freshness of the first snow of the year. PLUM PUDDING MURDER is brilliantly executed and Hannah's inquiry seems credible though she should know by now an investigation can prove potentially lethal even when she asks a few penetrating questions out of inquisitiveness that she failed to recognize as dangerous.

Noelle Mack
Kensington Brava
9780758222800 $14.00

Angelica Harrow feels fortunate to have escaped from her odious stepbrother Victor Broadnax. In London she obtains work as a "coat check" girl at a ball. Russian werewolf Semyon Taruskin, renowned for his way with the ladies, is attracted to her. However, before he can do anything about his regard, she vanishes.

Semyon knows something is not quite right even with Angelica's vanishing act. He begins a search for her, but had not expected a fight to the death with a more powerful supernatural being over who claims Angelica. His advantage is love enhances his prowess, but he failed as the evil St. Sin forces him to act wickedly at a sex club in front of a malevolent crowd.

The latest Pack of St. James paranormal Regency romantic suspense (see WILD and WANTON) is an action-packed thriller that is even darker than the previous entries as the underbelly of London's seediest is exposed. The story line is fast-paced but owned by the cast as, the werewolf, the lady in trouble and the vile villains make Noelle Mack's portrayal of early nineteenth century London vivid but gloomy.

Elvis and the Grateful Dead
Peggy Webb
9780758225917 $22.00

Tupelo, Mississippi is the town where Elvis grew up. Each year the townsfolk have a Best Elvis Competition that brings in thousands of his fans, impersonators and look alikes. Hair stylist Callie Valentine Jones has the real McCoy, the reincarnated spirit of the King in ironically a hound dog's body though she knows it not.. He silently judges the contestants comparing them to when he was in star prime. He also is trying to reconcile Callie with her almost ex-husband Jack who disappears a lot, does not want kids, and has a secret job that only Elvis knows about.

One of the participants Brian Watson is found dead on the piano. When a second impersonator Dick Gerard dies on the dance floor, the local police believe both men were murdered. The prime suspect is Callie's cousin Lovie, the caterer of the event. When a third person dies, Callie's Uncle Charlie tries to persuade her not to investigate since Lovie's was dancing with the second victim when he started shaking and died and the focus will be on her even more and Charlie does not want Callie in danger. Callie and the King make inquiries anyway.

Peggy Webb's amateur sleuth is a lighthearted amusing whodunit with outrageous almost slapstick scenes that Callie seems to step into as she tries to help Lovie, dodge her spouse and deal with a horde of Elvis reenactors when she has the real one. She and Elvis the hound rotate perspective leading to a zany over the top of Woodall Mountain mystery. The second Southern Cousins corny mystery (see ELVIS AND THE DEARLY DEPARTED) is simply entertaining fun.

When A Man Loves A Weapon
Toni McGee Causey
St. Martin's
9780312358518 $6.99

In Lake Charles, Louisiana life is good if you ask Bobbie Faye Sumrall in spite of her last fiasco (see GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE GUNS). FBI agent Trevor Cormier asked her to marry him and she accepted. Being engaged is more than a hoot though she wished she knew a bit more about her fiance's current assignment.

Trevor leaves town on FBI business, but to keep Bobbie Faye from having one of her notorious very bad bad bad days as he will be gone for three days, he leaves her under the care of what he calls a bodyguard; she calls that person an adult babysitter. Five days later, Trevor fails to return to Bobby Faye. Worried about him she turns to her former boyfriend detective Cameron Moreau to find him even as killer Sean MacGreggor is coming for Bobbie Faye.

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON is once again a zany out of control Cajun crime caper that hooks the audience from the moment five days go by as Bobby Faye has alligators up her butt with concern for her fiance. The story line is fast-paced and filled with gators, swamps, bad dudes, and betting eccentrics (wagering on Bobby Faye survivalist) who make for a wild frolic. However, it is Bobby Faye's optimistic fortitude in the face of another Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad week that has fans wanting more of her Lake Charles thrillers as once again she affirms you can't keep a good woman down especially since she bets on herself.

The Other Girl
Sarah Miller
St. Martin's
9780312334154 $16.99

At Midvale Prep, students Molly McGarry and Gideon Rayburn are an entry. She is his perfect girlfriend as she knows his desires as if she is reading what is inside his head; which is what she is actually doing as she is INSIDE THE MIND OF GIDEON RAYBURN.

However, during an intimate interlude, Molly is stunned when she reads her beloved's thoughts as Gideon's mind wanders over to beautiful Pilar Benitez-Jones. Upset, but needing to conceal what she knows about his mental misdemeanor in order to hide her telepathy ability, Molly struggles with what to do next. However, she loses control of what next when somehow she mislays her brainwave connection to Gideon as her skill abruptly for no known reason that she can comprehend switches to reading Pilar. At the same Gideon starts a campaign to seduce Pilar.

Although some of the support students are stereotypes of the affluent snob, Molly makes the tale with her rapid take no prisoners narration of others especially the rival. Older teen fans will enjoy her antics as she surfs heads not liking what she hears especially Gid and Pilar as a sexual entity. Sarah Miller provides a wonderful sequel as Molly is inside the mind of THE OTHER GIRL.

Sexy Beast VII
Kate Douglas, Anitra Lynn McLeod and Shelli Stevens
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228703 $12.95

"Chanku Challenge" by Kate Douglas. Beth learns she is Chanku and her soulmate is Nick. Although she relishes the sex, she must confront her past if she and Nick are going to reach the nirvana like other Chanku have with their soulmates.

"Eye of the Beholder" by Anitra Lynn McLeod. Larra knows the rumors that her new husband is truly a beast. She trembles in fear expecting a disfigured spouse, but Dauer instead caresses her into trembles of passionate happiness.

"His to Reclaim" by Shelli Stevens. Five years ago were-jaguars Gemma and Hunter knew they were soul mates from their first look, but he abruptly vanished. Now as she get ready to marry someone else, Hunter returns to kidnap his beloved.

These three fabulous erotic urban fantasy novellas are terrific tales starring lead protagonists who are great in the boudoir and insure the audience believes in shapeshifters. The added bonus is Kate Douglas' Chanku Sexy Wolf Tales saga continues with a quality entry matched in excellence by Shelli Stevens and Anitra Lynn McLeod.

Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2009, $12.95

Following the shocking sudden death of her father and the breaking up of her engagement to Michael, Kendra Carter suffers a nervous breakdown; in fact many believe she tried to commit suicide by mixing wine with pills though she denies it. As she struggles with her equilibrium, her stepbrother Gerald Carter shows his demon collection to her especially his latest addition, a copy of Delamelanicon, a kind demon occult "Unholy Bible"; allegedly written by Satan. Only thirteen copies were ever produced and few of those exist.

After exasperation for his spending two million from their dwindling trust fund, Kendra heeds the whispers to open the extremely rare tome. By doing so she liberates Remi the demon, who was trapped inside seemingly for eternity. Remi and Kendra are tied together in ways that Peter can only imagine. The demon seduces his disbelieving hostess with his touch and whisper yet though she screams for more; she assumes her mental health went further south though that part of her body is enjoying every sexual moment.

Kendra the disbeliever makes this super erotic romantic urban fantasy work on all levels. Remi and Peter are strong support characters with the former having a unique relationship with the lead heroine. The story line is fast-paced with several great twists as POSSESSION is much more than just nine tenths of the law.

Devour Me
Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238009 $13.95

"Dark Obsession". Although three centuries has passed since his ship and crew went down, Benjamin Bartlett still grieves and hides from the world. However, four people riding in a van seek shelter at his isolated mansion. He wants to say no, but one of them Star Reid stirs his blood. However, his past and her present threaten both their lives.

"Blood Lust". Vampire Christopher Marsh feels his hunt for a mythical talisman is nearing an end after seeking the artifact that allegedly will return him to mortality and perhaps archeologist Nicole Stephenson, the mortal he is ADDICTED to. That is if he can defeat the vampire who plans to drain his professor of her blood.

These are two interesting vampire romances starring solid depressed hunks and women who feel like they must have come out of a slasher movie as they make horrific choices that place them in danger. Still in spite of the females, DEVOUR ME contains two engaging vampiric romantic novellas that sub-genre fans will want to sink their teeth into.

The Sweet Spot
Kimberly Kaye Terry
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228765 $12.95

In Texas, Gabrielle Marlowe loves being a pharmacist, especially working at the community clinic. However, her personal life is ugly when she caught her drug dealing boyfriend Adam with Marissa. She leaves in anger and in pursuit of the best sex ever.

Gaby meets Sweet, owner of The Sweet Spot nightclub. She ends up in his loft unaware that he is an undercover FBI agent investigating Gaby and Adam. The trysts are the best either ever has ever had. Sweet also knows beyond a shadow of a doubt she is innocent except for her choices in men including a lying skunk like he believes he is because he does not accept his rationalization that it is his job. Instead Sweet concludes he owes his sweetheart nothing but the truth, but fears she will kick him to the curb even though they are living in his place.

THE SWEET SPOT is an exciting erotic FBI investigative thriller starring a confident hero who reminds the doubting lead female of a marine as he seems always ready for sex and felons. The under the covers (and elsewhere) romance supersedes the suspense, but sub-genre fans will not care as everyone will root for Gaby seeking the best sex ever turns tricks on THE SWEET (and salty) SPOT.

Belong To The Night
Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden and Sherrill Quinn
Kensington Brava
9780758238863 $14.00

"The Wolf, the Witch and Her Lack of Wardrobe" by Shelly Laurenston. In Smithville, Jamie struggles with controlling her bewitching paranormal skills. Wolfshifter Sheriff Tully knows Jamie has him bewitched. When they team up to fight a rogue pack, both has trouble focusing on the invaders.

"In the Dark" by Cynthia Eden. In Miami leopard-shifting FBI agent Sadie finds that her ex-lover Liam isn't dead, but he is not what one would say is alive except in a lower extremity. They team up to go after a serial killing leopard-shifter, but both have trouble focusing on the predator.

"City of the Dead" by Sherrill Quinn. In New Orleans, witch Dori and vampire Sabin seek her missing brother and to obtain the stolen powerful the Eye of Bastet amulet. Cajun cop Jake assists them in preventing a demon from witch genocide on All Hallows Eve.

These three urban fantasy police procedural romances are superb fun due to a strong cast (especially the good guys and gals) who make the paranormal seem genuine.

Plum Pudding Murder
Joanne Fluke
9780758210241 $24.00

December may be freezing in Lake Eden, Minnesota, but hearts are warm as the residents celebrate the holidays. This year entrepreneur Lunatic Larry Jaeger has created a Christmas shopping mall where he sells trees at cost. There are rides adding to the colonial like atmosphere as well as the Tree Lot store and food court in which the cookies are supplied by Cookie Jar owner Hannah Swensen and her business partner Lisa.

The Mayor has cut short his fishing trip because he is concerned over Jaeger's business practices and as an investor wants to make sure his is safe and as the mayor he wants to keep everyone who goes to the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot safe from Larry's financial maneuvering. Larry's business partner and fiancee gives accountant Luanne the books for Jaeger's Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot to audit; she is up all night to find why they fail to balance. Hannah looks in on her and helps her return the books. When Hannah and one of her boyfriends Norman go to Larry to pick up her check, they find him dead and his large screen TV shot with holes. Her other boyfriend Mike the cop zeroes in on a suspect, but Hannah disagrees. She investigates with the help of friends and family and is almost killed by the real culprit.

Minnesota in the winter as seen through the eyes of the natives is pictured as a freezing, snow filled and wind blown; yet these same natives find plenty of fun things to do to keep from going stark crazy. Thus the cast adds a sense of a vivid seasonal place that anchors the whodunit. This long running amateur sleuth retains the freshness of the first snow of the year. PLUM PUDDING MURDER is brilliantly executed and Hannah's inquiry seems credible though she should know by now an investigation can prove potentially lethal even when she asks a few penetrating questions out of inquisitiveness that she failed to recognize as dangerous.

Noelle Mack
Kensington Brava
9780758222800 $14.00

Angelica Harrow feels fortunate to have escaped from her odious stepbrother Victor Broadnax. In London she obtains work as a "coat check" girl at a ball. Russian werewolf Semyon Taruskin, renowned for his way with the ladies, is attracted to her. However, before he can do anything about his regard, she vanishes.

Semyon knows something is not quite right even with Angelica's vanishing act. He begins a search for her, but had not expected a fight to the death with a more powerful supernatural being over who claims Angelica. His advantage is love enhances his prowess, but he failed as the evil St. Sin forces him to act wickedly at a sex club in front of a malevolent crowd.

The latest Pack of St. James paranormal Regency romantic suspense (see WILD and WANTON) is an action-packed thriller that is even darker than the previous entries as the underbelly of London's seediest is exposed. The story line is fast-paced but owned by the cast as, the werewolf, the lady in trouble and the vile villains make Noelle Mack's portrayal of early nineteenth century London vivid but gloomy.

Elvis and the Grateful Dead
Peggy Webb
9780758225917 $22.00

Tupelo, Mississippi is the town where Elvis grew up. Each year the townsfolk have a Best Elvis Competition that brings in thousands of his fans, impersonators and look alikes. Hair stylist Callie Valentine Jones has the real McCoy, the reincarnated spirit of the King in ironically a hound dog's body though she knows it not.. He silently judges the contestants comparing them to when he was in star prime. He also is trying to reconcile Callie with her almost ex-husband Jack who disappears a lot, does not want kids, and has a secret job that only Elvis knows about.

One of the participants Brian Watson is found dead on the piano. When a second impersonator Dick Gerard dies on the dance floor, the local police believe both men were murdered. The prime suspect is Callie's cousin Lovie, the caterer of the event. When a third person dies, Callie's Uncle Charlie tries to persuade her not to investigate since Lovie's was dancing with the second victim when he started shaking and died and the focus will be on her even more and Charlie does not want Callie in danger. Callie and the King make inquiries anyway.

Peggy Webb's amateur sleuth is a lighthearted amusing whodunit with outrageous almost slapstick scenes that Callie seems to step into as she tries to help Lovie, dodge her spouse and deal with a horde of Elvis reenactors when she has the real one. She and Elvis the hound rotate perspective leading to a zany over the top of Woodall Mountain mystery. The second Southern Cousins corny mystery (see ELVIS AND THE DEARLY DEPARTED) is simply entertaining fun.

The Disappearance at Pere-Lachaise
Claude Izner
St. Martin's Press
9780312383756 $24.99

In 1890 Paris, heeding a spiritualist who advised her to see her late husband Armand at his gravesite in Pere-Lachaise cemetery, Odette de Valois tries to calm down his restless spirit. However, after following directions, Odette never returns home. Her concerned maid Denise De Louarn visits bookseller Victor Legris to ask for his help. He agrees to investigate what happened to the late geologist's widow as he was once her lover.

Victor, who solved the case of the MURDER ON THE EIFFEL TOWER and his shop assistant Joseph Pignot begin to look at clippings of crime the latter has cut from papers. Victor learns that an elderly person carried away Odette's body from the cemetery. Soon afterward Denise drowns in the Seine. Victor believes the death of the maid is tied to the vanishing of her employer. He and Joseph begin to find links between Armand's work on the failed canal at the Isthmus of Panama, a valuable painting that should be worthless, and murder.

The whodunit is a device to bring late nineteenth century Paris to life in what is a super historical. Victor is like the period as he makes his inquiries he meets a world of foreign delights since Paris is the cultural capital of the world during that era. Fans who appreciate a deep look at a period through its fine arts but also wrapped inside a taut mystery will want to join Monsieur Izner on his fabulous guided tour of the Left Banke and other artsy sections of Paris circa 1890.

Cursed to Death
L.A. Banks
St. Martin's
9780312942991 $7.99

Black Ops agent Sasha Trudeau is a shadow wolf who unlike werewolves can change at any time. She uses the shadows to go to the Shadowlands and from there to any point on earth in an instant. Currently, she and her mate Max Hunter are in New Orleans to attend the Seelie King Sir Rodney's's full moon Midsummer Night Ball. Instead of having fun, Sasha investigates the death of a phoenix who after the flame burned out she sayed as ash instead of turningd into a beautiful human woman; her sister died in the same way including the identical black magic signature.

Sasha and Max pick up a sexual wolf scent at the site of the killings, but always lose the trail. A pixie tells them that the glamour of the Fae is faltering and members of the Shadow Wolf Federation sense the dark anomalies negatively affecting them and of course Sasha and Max. The Fae dark sorcery spell is becoming increasingly stronger while seemingly sapping the essence of everyone; if it is not stopped by the ball, war will explode.

The forth crimson Moon urban fantasy (see BAD MOON, BITE THE MOON and UNDEAD ON ARRIVAL) is as strong, evocative and action-packed as its predecessors are. L.A. Banks combines various genres to create a unique paranormal vision that grips readers from the opening corpse and never slows down as the inquiry affirms all hell is coming during the next full moon especially since it appears the vampires, the Unseelie, renegade werewolves and rogue shadow wolves might be temporally uniting to throw over the current order before infighting with one another. Ms. Banks makes each species different but believable as Sasha feels CURSED TO DEATH by all of them.

Can't Stand the Heat
Louisa Edwards
St. Martin's
9780312356491 $6.99

In New York City, rejected wannabe author and food critic Miranda Wake attends the pre opening gala hosted by Adam "Chef" Temple to announce his new restaurant the Market. Too many aperitifs cocktails later, Miranda makes a public challenge that Adam reluctantly has to accept or his restaurant dies before it opens. She gets to write about what happens behind the scenes at a trendy new restaurant by being there for one month. Adam who distrusts women after Eleanor Bonning dumped him, but still treats Miranda like a shorter smaller imitation of Julia Child.

Meanwhile Miranda's brother Jess leaves Brandewyne College in Ohio to accept a job at Market in spite of the disappointment of his sister who was proud of his full scholarship. Although she wants to know why he quit, she finds herself distracted by her attraction to the Chef; he likewise begins making recipes in which his muse is the unpublished author. However, someone leaks insider information to the media with Miranda the mole the most likely suspect.

This is a lighthearted culinary romance as the Chef and the author blend love and recipes into a fun romp. The support cast is solid as her brother, the staff and other partners either enhance the lead couple relationship or bring out the goings-on at the restaurant. Although CAN'T STAND THE HEAT follows the sub-genre recipe, fans will enjoy the pizzazz flavors that Louisa Edwards brings to her warm tale.

The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots
Carolly Erickson
St. Martin's
9780312379735 $25.99

At fifteen years old Mary Stuart writes in her diary about her marriage to the French Dauphin, a boy half her size, but heir to throne. However, though he becomes King, Francis II never was healthy enough to sire a child let alone the next ruler. Thus Mary's position at court is hazardous as her mother-in-law Catherine de Medici through her seer Notredame rules. After her husband dies, Mary returns to Scotland to rule as the queen with the death of her father. She marries Henry, but he rapes her. With a lover Bothwell Mary plots to kill her spouse, but regardless of what she does her Scottish subjects and even her family loath her as a killing opportunist. This allows her rival English Queen Elizabeth to lock her away for years with few caring; not even her son, about the incarceration and the ultimate execution.

This is an interesting biographical fiction novel that will please fans who cannot get enough of the sixteenth century queen rivalry. Although Elizabeth wins the real war, Mary wins the Erickson character comparison as she seems full dimensional while her adversary appears to have one characteristic that of a psychotic meltdown; obviously this is told from Mary's viewpoint where she is a towering heroine and others are shrimps. Well written, THE MEMORIES OF MARY QUEEN OF THE SCOTS is an enjoyable historical fiction of an interesting tragic (though she manages to make her trials worse) figure.

Murder at Longbourn
Tracy Kiely
St. Martin's
9780312537562 $24.99

In DC, newspaper fact checker, Elizabeth Parker fears another New Year's Eve alone. Still she makes resolutions to give up fat especially her cheating boyfriend. She heads up to the Cape to spend the holiday at her great-Aunt Winnie's bed-and-breakfast the Inn at Longbourn.

At the B&B is Winnie's childhood enemy Peter McGowan who seems a lot more attractive as an adult than he was a pest. Other guests are also attending as Winnie's mystery gala holiday weekend is expected to be fun. That is until someone is actually murdered and Winnie is the prime suspect turning Elizabeth Parker into Nancy Drew, adult amateur sleuth playing Clue with a horde of suspects.

Although the story line is thin and goes exactly the way the audience will expect, MURDER AT LONGBOURN is a fascinating entertaining cozy due to aunt and niece tossing all sorts of Jane Austin quotes into the fray. Elizbath is terrific as the lead protagonist with her referring to Pride and Prejudice as a guide while seeking clues; she needs to join the Jane Austen Book Club (movie and Karen Joy Fowler's novel). Her great aunt brings New England eccentricity into the mix while the guests are suspects as far as her niece is concerned. Tracy Kiely provides a fun tale of sleuthing, Austen style.

The Yard Dog
Sheldon Russell
St. Martin's
9780312566708 $24.99

In Oklahoma as WWII draws to a close, Hook Runyan touches his armless sleeve and thinks back to his ex wife. She walked away without a mark from a car accident that cost him his limb in which he was a passenger and she the driver; she walked away from him too. Currently he lives alone in a junker caboose near where he works at the Waynoka Train depot just south of POW Camp Alva.

When his only friend moonshiner Spark Dugan is found dead in the Waynoka rail yards, no one cares except Hook who knows it his job as the local yard dog to investigate, but this is personal. He begins to uncover unsavory things about his dead buddy including his belonging to a smuggling ring stealing army supplies and selling them on the black market and with ties to the camp. Camp Commander major Foreman refuses to cooperate while newcomer Dr. Reina Kaplan implements an internationally outlawed brainwashing program. Neither of them can deter Hook from his inquiry

This is a super mid 1940s mystery that uses the investigation to provide readers with a deep look at the POW camps on American soil and at rationing American capitalist style. The story line is fast-paced as the YARD DOG Hook does his detective job by conducting an inquiry into the death of his buddy. Although the whodunit is well written and very entertaining, the historical view owns the novel as Sheldon Russell provides the audience with an interesting glimpse at WWII in the Oklahoma home front.

Blood Game
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312368128 $27.99

Forensic sculpture Eve Duncan goes home after a complex mentally draining case that featured the murders of several children (see QUICKSAND). She opens her refrigerator to find a goblet with blood stains inside. It looks identical to a goblet found by the corpse of nineteen year old Nancy Jo Norris; the blood had been drained from the U.S. senator's daughter.

Eve's lover FBI agent Joe Quinn apparently can now see dead people; at least two that is: Nancy Jo and Eve's daughter Bonnie. He assumes that he somehow obtained this paranormal skill from psychic Megan Blair (see QUICKSAND and PANDORA'S DAUGHTER). The ghosts thirst for blood so assist the human sleuths on a search for a wannabe Dracula copy cat killer.

This is an exciting Eve Duncan serial killer thriller that increases dramatically the paranormal elements. Eve remains restless, but Joe has proven to be a comfort for her as Bonnie haunts her emotionally and haunts him directly. The story line is fast-paced as Eve and Joe with help from beyond hunt a vampire killer, but gothic overtones detract from the suspense as the lead couple is too well known by fans for the pair to be overly melodramatic. Still BLOOD GAME is a fascinating Duncan investigative tale.

Pieces of Happily Ever After
Irene Zutell
St, Martin's Griffin
9780312540098 $13.99

Entertainment lawyer Alex Hirsh accompanied by his wife Alice and their daughter five year old Gabby, relocate from New York to the San Fernando Valley. Alex lands a high maintenance client box-office queen Rose Maris. However, he also begins to change going to a gym to work out helped by a trainer and turning to Armani.

Soon he begins to work late hours becomes a tabloid favorite for his late nights with Rose Maris. Being a native New Yorker, Alice, once her tear ducts go desert dry, is not one to back down from a confrontation even in wonderland. However, she starts wondering if she wants Alex, who now goes by the name Xander back, as two eccentric female neighbors encourage her to after two hunks she finds interesting.

PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER is a well written drama that is saved from the stereotype cabinet by Alice who's refreshing with her New York shtick of disparaging (must have been a Brooklyn Dodger fan in a past life) of everything SO CAL. She and her new BFFs (the profanity queen and the retired porn star) bring humorous withering condemnations of Southern California especially men who think with their lower head like Xander. Yet surprisingly the strength of the novel rests with the mother and daughter relationship as Irene Zutell provides a strong family tale.

The Midnight Guardian
Sarah Jane Stratford
St. Martin's
9780312560133 $24.99

By 1940 Hitler had succeeded in killing all the vampires on the continent. He created a special hunter unit, the Nachtspeere whose mission was the vampiric genocide. However, Millennials, millennium old vampires are not easy to kill as they double in strength and other powers in their thousandth year. Only a few special hunters can kill a Millennial because each vampire has a demon inside who feeds on their hunger and gives them the skill to strike back at their enemies.

With the Millennials dead on the mainland, the British Millennial vampires send a group to Germany to prevent a human war as memories of the destruction of WWI lingers when their food supply killed one another that led to a vampire civil war. Brigit and the others plan to kill key SS men in order to prevent Hitler from occupying France. In Germany the unit is stunned by Hitler's Final Solution and hope to create enough chaos to slow down Hitler's master plan as he and his leadership teams prove they are greater monsters than vampires with what they are doing to the Jews. Brigit leaves Germany with two orphaned Jewish kids as the Nazi vampire hunters stalk her on a train ad boat on her way home to England.

Time for Eternity
Susan Squires
St. Martin's
9780312943530 $6.99

In San Francisco, vampiric bartender Frankie Suchet was made during the French Revolution by Henri Foucault who deserted her soon afterward. Donna Poliziano enters the bar because she sensed a vamp inside. They discuss Henri but disagree as Donna thought he was good while Frankie believes he was evil. Donna sends her a book written by Leonardo Da Vince who built a time machine that needed the power of a vampire to work. It is under the Baphistery in Florence. Donna suggests she go back and correct the wrong as she did it to save her beloved Jergen (see ONE WITH THE DARKNESS). Frankie travels to Italy with plans to kill Henri before he changed her.

Frankie arrives in 1794 and sees naïve Francoise. Unable to stop Frankie ends up inside a bewildered Francoise. However, the young woman has no time to worry as her elderly companion Madam LaFleur was arrested and their house is on fire. She pleads with Duc Henri D'Avignon to save her life. He does by claiming her as his ward. Robespierre accepts Henri's lie, but his companion Madame Croute is irate. Henri takes his new ward home and tells her he will place her on his ship going to England next week. Henri thinks of making love to Francois as she seems a weird mix of innocence and experience. He knows he cannot save LaFleur but foolishly tries; however, her heart gives out. Meanwhile as naive Francois sees Henri's kindness; Frankie inside her head keeps telling her he is cruel and needs to die while Croute wants to execute both of them.

The intriguing premise of two Francoise essences sharing one body comes across as plausible while Henri is a sort of vampiric Scarlet Pimpernel although Frankie takes a long time to overcome her bitterness; in fairness she had over two centuries to build it up. Still fans will relish this exciting vampiric romance that mostly brings alive the deadly dangerous French Reign of Terror.

Bad Moon Rising
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
9780312369491 $24.95

In 2003 in New Orleans Were-hunter enforcer Wolfswan Fang Kattalakis and Bearswan Aimee Peltier are attracted to one another; a forbidden desire as species don't mix and mate. Whereas his brothers are on the Omegrion ruling council; her family hopes she will be on the council. Daimons attack and almost kill Fang. His brothers take the unconscious Fang to safety so he can heal from his severe injuries.

Aimee dreams of Fang and learns that his state of poor health is caused not by physical wounds as her siblings assume, but because the Daimons removed sections of his Fang leaving him trapped in two realms; physically his body is removed from his soul which is trapped in the nether realm. While Fang battles to survive, Aimee knows to save the man she loves she must kill those who stole parts of his soul before the demon wins. At the same timr in the nether Fang offers the rest of his soul to his enemies to keep Aimee alive.

With a deadly nod to The Gift of the Magi and Romeo and Juliet, BAD MOON RISING is a solid Dark-Hunter tale although key events in the Kenyon pantheon have been described in other books (see NIGHT PLAY for brother Vane's view)) during and after this novel takes place; that takes a major adjustment for long time fans to see perspective from another viewpoint. The story line does not expand the universe very much as the focus is on the lead couple's forbidden love that makes for a strong tale as a stand alone with the star-crossed lovers related to adversarial "swan" VIPs, but not much added to the overarching plot.

Social Lives
Wendy Walker
St. Martin's
9780312378165 $24.99

In Winchester, Connecticut, the four wives meet to plan and host an event at Winchester Academy. Rosalyn, married to billionaire Barlow, is the social leader who decides who is in and who is not. Newcomer Sara gave up investigative reporting to marry Wall Street guru Nick, but has doubts about a second child while they are over budget in renovating their McMansion. After sneak peeks into her husband's locked attach case, Jacks fears that David's hedge fund has collapsed even as she worries the Feds are looking into potential illegal deals and loan sharks want instant payment. Eva likes her role as a wife and as a relationship saboteur.

Eva knows Jacks and Barlow are having an affair; instead of ignoring it or outing them, she arranges for Queen Rosalyn to believe Sara is the other woman. Meanwhile Rosalyn worries about her fourteen years old daughter Caitlin going hot and heavy with student hunk Kyle; thus the event in which a sexologist will warn parents that teens prefer Friends with Benefits rather than commitments. Caitlin wants more from Kyle, but knows the student queen of mean Amanda is manipulating both of them while she turns to a friend on the net for advice and solace.

This is an entertaining look at the affluent who asks themselves is that all there is as they are discontented with their lives. Rosalyn, Sara and Jacks are developed enough for their disgruntlement to seem genuine though few readers will feel any empathy towards the golden spoon crowd. The behind the scenes manipulator Eva is underdeveloped especially why she enjoys being Machiavelli in Connecticut. Still fans who like reading about the rich and not famous will want to read the SOCIAL LIVES of FOUR WIVES.

Rizzo's War
Lou Manfredo
9780312538057 $24.99

Twenty-seven years with NYPD has Detective Sergeant Joe Rizzo considering retirement as police work is the game of a younger man or woman. He is asked to mentor his young new partner, Mike McQueen, who has risen in only six years on the force rather quickly because he has proven he has the ability but also more important he has connections ever since he rescued the roommate of the mayor's daughter.

Joe likes the energy of his partner and puts off retirement though the spring in his step (and the car seat) is not what it once was. They work several cases with the most visible being a missing teen whose dad is a Brooklyn councilman making a lot of white noise in the background. Other cases are much simpler and less politically connected.

The story line is fast-paced even on a tedious stake-out as the audience obtains a tour of Brooklyn through the eyes of the two detectives. Joe is terrific as the highly regarded 'elder statesman" working with a rookie (in terms of detective level that is) while Mike is too hero-worshiping as any moment readers will expect him to shine the shoes of his teacher-hero. Still fans will enjoy this super Bensonhurst police procedural.

Arctic Chill
Arnaldur Indridason
9780312381035 $24.99

Outside a slummy Reykjavik apartment, the corpse of an Asian-Icelandic boy is found lying in his frozen blood. Police detective Erlendur Sveinsson leads the investigation into the homicide. He finds no motives for killing the half Thai child so he explores racism as the only possibility in spite of a tolerant society in which native males marry Thai women, divorce them, and abandon them and their offspring to live in the slums. The victim is El'as whose mom Sunee worked in a chocolate factory but has recently vanished; she was estranged from her carpenter husband Idinn for bringing her other son Niran with her.

Erlanger has personal issues starting with the shock of his former boss Marion's slow death that reminds him of his own mortality and his obsession to reconcile with his estrange adult children. The detective continues his inquiry into a missing woman who probably committed suicide, but he seeks closure in the case.

The latest Icelandic police procedural is a deep look at society struggling with the problems Thai women face in Iceland. The story line also deeply digs into a father's struggles with his two offspring who have issues that make him feel like a failure. As their father he wants to shower them with love; an emotion he cannot show to anyone even the woman he desires as love denotes weakness. This is another winner as the case is solid but supports the profound glimpse into society and relationships.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Deborah Grabien
9780312590963 $24.99

In San Francisco, someone uses a guitar to hammer the head of Bombardier lead vocalist Vinny Fabiano. No one seems to mourn the death of Vinny, who alienated everyone including his band mates, but everyone grieves the death of the guitar, custom made by the great artist Bruno Baines.

The late Vinny even managed to insult MRI specialist Bree Godwin, band mate JP Kincaid's old lady. JP and Bree remain amazed that the killer would use such a murder weapon. They are not amazed to learn Vinny's prized Zemaitis guitar is missing. Soon afterward, Vinny's guitar technician Rocco Galliano is also murdered. Not wanting to become part of a Christie And Then There Were None, JP and his mates investigate.

The second Kincaid mystery (see ROCK AND ROLL NEVER FORGETS) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery enhanced by a fascinating look at guitar making although that detracts from the whodunit. The lead pair has health issues with JP dealing with multiple sclerosis and Bree struggling with a cancer scare, but unlike guitar manufacturing the illnesses augment the investigation as they make the inquiry that more difficult. Fans will rock with Kincaid as he and Bree follow the chords.

Dark Mirror
Barry Maitland
9780312383992 $24.99

In the London Library, Ph.D. candidate Marion Summers researches nineteenth century Pre-Raphaelite artists when she suddenly crumples and drops dead. Since Marion suffered from diabetes, the assumption by all who knew her is the disease caused her death. Recently promoted Detectives Inspector Kathy Kolla leads the official investigation, her first time in charge of a case, though she also expects the medical examiner will determine the cause of death to be related to diabetes.

However, instead the medical examiner finds arsenic inside Summers' body. Kolla is in charge of the homicide investigation. The cop learns Summers was focusing on the use of arsenic and other poisons by the Pre-Raphaelites. Her theories were upsetting the academic circles as being too way-out. However, that should not be a motive for murder. With Detective Chief Inspector Brock's mentoring, Kolla looks into the personal non-academia life of the victim finding several people who might want to kill her and who had the opportunity to poison her, using ironically what Summers was studying as the means which remains difficult to ascertain.

This is an exciting fresh British police procedural as DI Kolla heads her first investigation as the lead with DCI Brock supporting her. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plausible twists that enhance the inquiry. Fans of the series will enjoy this super Kolla-Brock collaboration.

Top Producer
Norb Vonnegut
9780312384616 $24.99

The murder of wealthy hedge fund operator Charlie Kelemen has sent shock waves up and down Wall St. Especially stunned is his thirty two years old best friend Grove O'Rourke, who manages two billion dollar in accounts at Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie Investment Bank. Grove saw the homicide along with a few hundred people.

Feeling survivor guilt and wanting to pay homage to his best friend, Grove learns that Charlie's widow Sam apparently is broke, which makes no sense since Keleman was worth a fortune. He tries to help her while avoiding the financial death by association that frequently takes down Top Producers like him. However, his efforts begin to look futile as his peers and superiors at the bank go after him with ferocity as do the outside competitors. Still Charlie refuses to walk away from the fight for survival at Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie or from learning what happened to O'Rourke's money.

This is a well written financial thriller that digs deep into some of the voodoo fund flow of Wall St that seems relevant with all that has happened over the past few years. Overall the story line is fast-paced although the plot can slow down with the profundity of fund management as non practitioners will have to be totally focused. Still the tale is fun mostly because Grove is a likable hero swimming in toxic waters. TOP PRODUCER is an enjoyable insider thriller.

Sheer Folly
Carola Dunn
9780312387754 $24.99

Writing a book about the SHEER FOLLY of architectural design disasters, Daisy Dalrymple and her best friend photographer Lady Lucy Binscomb travel to see Appsworth Hall; owned by friendly Mr. Pritchard of Pritchard's Plumbing Products. Daisy's husband Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Alex Fletcher reluctantly will baby-sit their twins while she is away for the weekend.

Daisy and Lucy arrive at the estate only find their host Mr. Pritchard is throwing a garish party attended by Daisy's friend Julia Beaufort; Lord Rydal known as Rhino; his lover Lady Ottaline Wandersley and her husband Sir Desmond; and Canadian historian Charles Armitage who seems attracted to Julia and she in him. An explosion leaves Rhino dead, but his paramour and his chauffeur survive. The spouses of Daisy and Lucy arrive just in time for the DCI to investigate.

This is an engaging 1920s investigative tale that ironically feels fresh because the local cops are euphoric to have an experienced DCI to work the case. The story line as always in this wonderful long running series (see BLACK SHIP) provides the reader with a glimpse of the English upper class just before the depression. The support cast is solid and the whodunit cleverly devised to enable the reader and Daisy to compete with Alex. It would be SHEER FOLLY for historical mystery fans not to read this superb tale.

Gallows Lane
Brian McGilloway
9780312384326 $23.99

Superintendent Costello directs Garda Detective Inspector Benedict Devlin to warn convict James Kerr as he leaves Maghaberry Prison to not settle in Lifford. Kerr refuses to speak with Devlin insisting he only is coming to town to forgive his former partner Peter Webb, who with others betrayed him during the Castlederg robbery that sent James to prison.

Soon afterward, someone kills Webb whose wife was with her lover Decko O'Kane at the time of the homicide. Kerr was allegedly seen nearby, but Devlin thinks the case is too obvious. He is proven right when Kerri is crucified followed by the murder of Decko. Devlin believes the robbery is the link between the deaths; if he can solve that he can solve the serial killing of those who were involved. The DI has other cases to work too that prove pressure laden to resolve.

Inspector Devlin in his second whodunit (see BORDERLANDS) makes this Irish police procedural so good even when he struggles with anxiety and panic attacks while his spouse and his long time partner Carline Williams beg him to back away from this case that is mentally crippling him. However, the DI cannot; instead he feels compelled to work even harder at this and other cases. Readers will feel root for the hero as he tries to keep his ethical compass steady in spite of the trouble he faces doing it.

The Brutal Telling
Louise Penny
9780312377038 $24.99

In Three Pines, Quebec, the murdered corpse of an unidentified elderly male is found in a bistro. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates the death in which no one seems to know who the person is. Armand finds a cabin in the woods that allegedly was used by the old dead man. However, the shocker is what is inside the remote edifice. The CI sees a virtual treasure trove of first edition books to items that vanished during WWII.

The prime suspect is the bistro owner, Oliver. However Armand believes that is too simple a solution as the body conveniently ended up there; whereas Oliver would have killed the victim elsewhere and looted the cabin assuming that is the motive. The CI begins to dig deeper in an attempt to find the truth as summer turns to fall.

The latest Quebec village police procedural (see A RULE AGAINST MURDER and THE CRUELEST MONTH) is a super whodunit as Armand feels strongly that the prime suspect is innocent but the clues seem to prove his guilt. The story line is driven by his investigation, but enhanced by a strong support cast of villagers. Fans will enjoy this terrific entry in what is one of the better mystery series.

Red Bones
Ann Cleeves
9780312384340 $24.99

Shetland Islands Inspector Jimmy Perez investigates the murder of Mima Wilson, who was shot to death. The case is somewhat personal as Mima was the grandma of the police detective's subordinate Sandy Wilson. The locals on Whalsay Island believe Mima's grandson Ronald accidentally shot and killed her, but Perez has doubts about the theory.

Instead he wonders if the homicide might be linked to an archeological dig on Mima's land. Ph.D. candidate student Hattie James recently dug up a skeleton that might date back to the fifteenth century or earlier. A second body is found at the excavation location; that person apparently committed suicide leading the detective to assume the bones are contemporary. Perez with Sandy's surprisingly somewhat competent but reluctant help begins to unravel Wilson secrets that date back to WWII and the resistance.

The third Shetland Island police procedural (see RAVEN BLACK and WHITE NIGHTS) is a super whodunit. Jimmy is terrific as he battles the islanders who know Ronald accidentally killed his grandma and thus believe an investigation is a waste of time and money. Fans will enjoy Jimmy's efforts to uncover what really happened on Whalsay Island with no one, not even Sandy who is pulled between family and work loyalties, fully cooperating.

Evil at Heart
Chelsea Cain
9780312368487 $24.99

In Portland, Oregon, detective Archie Sheridan continues his deadly grisly chess game with serial killer Gretchen "the Beauty Killer" Lowell who seems to checkmate him ever time (see SWEETHEART and HEARTSICK). Her latest violent assault is leaving body parts all over a bathroom. Archie was in rehab for prescription drug addiction; but checks out of the center to continue his macabre quest to obtain the final victory over his menace.

Reporter Susan Ward accompanies him as he investigates several homicides that look like the gruesome art work of Lowell, but the sleuth feels something is off kilter. He begins to wonder if perhaps one of Lowell's zillion fans, who see her as a real life Lector since her daring prison escape, might be playing copy cat killer. Meanwhile Lowell continues to taunt and tease him deep inside his heart but also eating at his brain, like many males he wants her.

Readers will feel empathy for Archie who has been painted in many media circles as the villain sort of like an Inspector Javert of Les Miserables stalking America's Sweetheart as capitalism takes over with tours, etc. The story line is character driven by the competition between Archie and Gretchen as fans of the saga will enjoy round three of what looks like a twelve round title fight.

There Goes the Bride
M.C. Beaton
9780312387006 $24.99

In a small village in the Cotswold of England, Agatha Raisin is getting more and more cases for her new detective agency. Overworked and needing a rest from her caseload Agatha takes a vacation visiting several of Europe's most famous battlefields. She goes to Istanbul to see the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimea War. However, Agatha is horrified to see her former husband James Lacey and his much younger fiancee Felicity Bross-Tilkingtonare also James assumes the obsessive compulsive Agatha Raisin is stalking him as he also sees her a continent from home in the Gallipolis.

Back in England, Agatha ignores his accusations and tries to ignore him too although the entire village is coming out for his second marriage. Agatha buries herself in her work while James waits for his bride to walk down the aisle; only to find her corpse with a bullet hole in it. The police suspect Agatha in a crime of passion, but she has witnesses that place her elsewhere. Felicity's stunned distraught mother hires Agatha to find out who killed her daughter as she distrusts the cops to do an adequate job once they fixate on a suspect; in this case Agatha in spite of her alibi. However, her investigation proves dangerous as someone wants to inter Agatha resting in peace next to Felicity.

The twentieth Raisin cozy retains the amusing freshness and out of control fun of the previous entries as once again crotchety Agatha is her usual acerbic self with her ex, his fiancee, the cops, and returning sleuth Toni Gilmour. She is even acrimonious with her new love interest, Sylvan Dubois, a friend of Felicity's father; as she suspects both of them in some dubious activities. The whodunit is a wonderful puzzler, but as always in this fabulous series, fifty something abrasive, acerbic Agatha owns the story line a she verbally dishes out A SPOONFUL OF POISON to anyone who ventures nearby.

Scary Stuff
Sharon Fiffer
9780312387785 $24.99

Chicago collectible picker Jane Wheel is very concerned with her brother Michael whom she fears is working with dishonest eBay dealer Honest Joe. Her evidence is counterfeit baseball cards she found in her sibling's house when she visited him in California.

She also knows that customers taken to the cleaners by dishonest Honest Joe have been ready to beat the snot out of Michael. Worse Michael looks like Honest Joe's twin that is on his internet store site. Jane asks her detective partner, Bruce Oh to investigate. His inquiry leads her to Jim Speller of Herscher, Illinois; however Jim apparently is living with Jane's second cousin Ada, who is hosting a "Scary Night" haunted house festival with "real" thieving ghosts.

The latest Jane Wheel mystery (see HOLLYWOOD STUFF) is an exciting fast-paced investigative tale with several fabulous twists with readers anticipating the next spin. Jane is at her best as she tries to identify who Honest Joe the internet thief is and what the connection to her brother is; she rules out separated at birth theory. Fans will relish her efforts to protect Michael from irate surfers by uncovering the truth. SCARY STUFF is an enthralling amateur sleuth mystery.

Hemingway Deadlights
Michael Atkinson
9780312379711 $24.99

In 1956 in Key West, fisherman Peter Cuthbert is killed by a harpoon. The police are indifferent to the death, but Peter's friend Ernest Hemingway is not. Although he admits to himself his drinking buzz may have given him the courage at almost sixty and feeling like his writing career is over while hiding from much of the world, Hemingway decides to investigate as writer's block should not prove an impediment to the Nobel Prize winner. Of course, he knows his broken leg with its gorilla cast will hinder his probe though alcohol should alleviate that handicap if he can avoid rooftop foot first dives.

His inquiry leads the amateur sleuth to Cuba, where Batista welcomes the Noble Prize winning author who then interviews mobster Meyer Lansky in Havana, and revolutionary Fidel Castro and ultimately Che Guevara in the foothills. The first two offer nothing of significance to the investigation, but Che insists Cuthbert was not just a fisherman. Stunned by the revolutionary revelation, Hemingway goes back to Key West to hide away only the feuding FBI and the CIA interrogate him as if they would like to answer FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS as him.

The key to this delightful historical amateur sleuth is how Michael Atkinson captures the essence of Hemingway who as an almost sexagenarian needs to recapture his macho youth but recognizes that he can only do so with drink to strengthen his fortitude. His wife is incredibly drawn while the key people he interrogates in Cuba also seem genuine; their discussions highlight this super though implausible sleuthing saga of

Blood Atonement
Dan Waddell
9780312378912 $24.95

Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster arrives at the scene of a particularly gruesome homicide to lead the investigation. In middle class Queens Park section of London, someone cut the throat of thirty seven year old single mom Katie Drake on the birthday of her teenage daughter who just turned fourteen years old daughter. It turns out Naomi is missing.

No motive or clues to the daughter's whereabouts surface. As hours pass with nothing, Foster and his peers begin to believe a double homicide occurred and the second corpse will be found shortly. Foster digs into the victim's past to see if a motive surfaces, but to his shock there is no Katie Drake. The Inspector asks Scotland Yard consulting genealogist Nigel Barnes to follow the limited trail. Barnes finds a link back to late Victorian England when a couple came over from the Sates and had ties to the Mormon Church. He and Foster fear further BLOOD ATONEMENT will follow.

The sequel to THE BLOOD DETECTIVE is an engaging genealogy murder mystery that is fun to follow but leave your plausibility meter parked elsewhere as the motive is over the top of Big Ben. Still following the inquiry into the history of the Mormon Church is intriguing especially Barnes' investigation as fans, which are willing to ignore believability and too much left to flukes of chance, will enjoy Dan Waddell's rotting family tree whodunit.

Down In The Flood
Kenneth Abel
9780312377199 $24.99

As Katrina buries New Orleans and politicians point their fingers at everyone but themselves, former assistant district attorney Danny Chaisson works insurance claims. However, the Feds pressure one of his clients Louis Sams to turn state's evidence against his boss during a Grand Jury inquiry into corruption, who runs a company that manufactures cement.

Danny learns two former cops turned paid killers kidnap Louis. The lawyer blames himself for Louis' dangerous predicament as he provided inadequate counsel. He walks through streets filled with mud, debris and lakes in a quest to rescue Louis before the two flotsam and jetsam hit men make his client part of the floating rubble.

This is a gripping thriller that showcases how the government on all levels and both parties failed during Katrina in spite of the advanced warning from the National Hurricane Center. The story line focuses on one ethical man trying to rectify an error he made that could kill his client; contrast Danny's stand to the politicians who did the finger pointing let them eat cake and dance from a distance as the buck not only failed to stop it floated away. Danny treks across the dead sea called New Orleans while the hurricane of the century and its aftermath storm the Mississippi Delta. With a depth matched by few novels, Kenneth Abel provides a great tale of how greed drowned New Orleans and the surrounding area.

Blind Eye
Stuart MacBride
9780312382643 $26.99

Although Aberdeen, Scotland Detective Sergeant. Logan McRae is still healing from the brutal Flesh House case he investigates nasty hate crime assaults on Polish immigrants; even the cops are horrified with what has happened to the eyes of the victims. DCI Finnie believes the prime suspect Gilchrist is a malcontent who loathes the influx of foreigners from East Europe for taking the jobs away from locals.

However, Logan wonders if something else is the motive beyond the attacks when even a crime boss is beaten. Instead Logan considers a mob war between Scottish mobsters and Polish gangsters while Finnie tells him to stop thinking as that is not standard operating procedure for a DS. Meanwhile, McRae feels a double whammy when Finnie punishes him by sticking him with loud mouth Detective Inspector Roberta Steele to keep witness Rory Simpson, a pedophile, safe from an angry female stalker.

This is a strong Scottish police procedural that is owned by Logan but contains a deep support ensemble especially the cops. The investigation is cleverly devised so that Logan is once again an outsider in trouble with his superiors especially pompous Finnie. Fans will enjoy his latest case as he works around the bureaucrats to solve the hate crimes. His back case load is also worth reading (see BLOODSHOT, DYING LIGHT and COLD GRANITE).

Inspector Ghote's First Case
H.R.F. Keating
9780312384043 $24.99

In 1960 to celebrate his promotion to Detection of Crime Branch Inspector, Ganesh Ghote and his pregnant wife Protima plan to see Olivier's Hamlet. However, before they leave for the movie, his new superior Assistant Commissioner Divekar directs him to visit Sir Rustam Engineer ASAP. Sir Engineer is a legend as the first Indian to become Commissioner of the Bombay Police, but has since retired.

Sir Engineer asks Inspector Ghote to investigate the death of the pregnant wife of a friend. Retired civil engineer Robert Dawkins refuses to believe his Iris would kill herself especially carrying their child. Ghote reluctantly leaves his spouse behind, a sort of harbinger of things to come in "future" investigations, as he travels to Mahableshwar. There his inquiry is stonewalled by servants who refused to speak and by his schoolboy classmate Inspector Pathan "Bullybhoy" Barrani.

Returning to a beloved inspector for the first time in about a decade, H.R.F. Keating provides a super first case prequel that enables readers to solve the case before the hero. However Ghote's sympathy and compassion surface early on and the profound look back at the convoluted Indian-British relationships makes for a great police procedural. Fans will relish the return of Inspector Ghote and Protima as they wait the birth of their first child, Miss Hamlet, and ponder to tell or not to tell that is the question.

The Million Dollar Demise
RM Johnson
Simon & Schuster
9781416596264 $24.00

Freddy Ford blames Nate Kenny for the loss of his girlfriend Kia, his unborn child when Kia chose abortion, and the house he and his mom were living in so decides retribution is in order. He executes Nate and his woman Monica. To complete his eye for an eye belief, Freddy, unaware that little Layla is asleep in the house, leaves with Nate's three year old son Nathaniel. He heads to Atlanta where he knows Joni will hide him, but is unaware that Nate's brother Tim arrived in time to get the victims to a hospital where Monica remains in a coma but Nate is awake.

Freddy informs his best friend Lewis Waters what he has done. Lewis is stunned as he knows Nate extorted and bribed Freddy to set Lewis up in the MILLION DOLLAR DECEPTION to keep him away from Monica. On the road Freddy kills a cop while Nate and Lewis meet when both visit comatose Monica. They work a deal to rescue Nathaniel, to get Freddy arrested, to allow Lewis to have custody over his biological daughter Layla, and to exchange some money. Lewis also meets pregnant Daphanie Coleman, whom Nate tossed aside for Monica and they work a deal while she also begins a second round affair with Nate.

The deceitful treacherous Nate is at the center of a firestorm as his actions in the previous thriller (see THE MILLION DOLLAR DIVORCE) seems to have caught up with him when a deranged Freddy arrives at his mansion with a gun. The ensemble cast is as always in an RM Johnson novel three dimensional with the flaws making them treacherously human. There are several major subplots (more than just above as for instance Trevor has some action too) occurring with seemingly everyone having a backstabbing play going on; but none take prime charge of the novel. Thus that leads to a rather sudden convergence crash in a twisted finish.

Girl Mary
Petru Popescu
Simon & Schuster
9781416532637 $15.00

The Emperor Augustus is concerned with the security of the empire so he orders a Roman soldier Apella to spy on the Jews. Mary, daughter of a rabbi-carpenter, meets Apella and is attractive to the non-Jewish hunk. Apella falls in love too with the seventeen year old who makes him feel guilt and remorse for hiding his true identity of Pontius Pilate from her. However, soon afterward at a fair, she meets Joseph the woodcarver and is attracted to him too.

Confused and bewildered by her being torn between two different men, especially when Joseph has one wife, is engaged to another and offers her the position of third spouse, she takes a pilgrimage up to the top of Mt. Barak to be alone with God. As the Creator tells her to remain patient, this occurs at a time when her clan needs her leadership as King Herod has kicked them out of Nazareth.

This is an intriguing look at the young Mary that cleverly leaves the reader to wonder if the Virgin birth occurred or not, but provides an insightful look at what shaped the attitudes of Jesus' mother. The period comes alive especially the turbulence and intrigue that seems everywhere in Judea. Although readers will need to adjust to the formal vernacular style of the entertaining plot, fans will enjoy this fine biblical fiction as the no turn the cheek Old Testament God takes care of business in his mysterious way of shaping the playing field for Mary and Joseph.

Thug Lovin'
Wahida Clark
Grand Central
9780446178099 $14.99

Following THUG MATRIMONY, Tasha and Trae Macklin leave the New York hood for L.A. though there is some unfinished business back East involving blood feud vengeance for the death of Trae's cousin Shaheem. Three years later the west Coast has brought radical positive change to the couple. Tasha has kids to raise while Trace opens up a flashy nightspot, Club New York.

However Tasha fears the nightclub will lead Trae back to the hood as he made a deal with Chinese gangster Charles Li and his even deadlier daughter Charli. At the same time Sabeerah arrives from back east planning to extort money from Trae; as she saw what he did on the other side of the Hudson in retaliation for Shaheem's homicide. The Macklin's neighbor Police Detective Rick Bryant begins an affair with Tasha's married friend Kyra whose husband is addicted to drugs.

The fourth Thug thriller is an exciting out from the Hood tale that stars realistic characters. Fans will empathize with the women as Tasha and Kyra struggle with issues and their men; on the other hand Trae has taken several steps backwards as he seems to have regressed and lost the empathy vote. Wahida Clark provides another descriptive drama that once again pulls no punches or kicks with an in your face and groin realism.

Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz
Belinda Acosta
Grand Central
9780446540513 $13.99

Ana Ruiz has her hands full as her fourteen year old daughter Carmen blames her for her dad Esteban leaving them although he cheated on her and he left. She wonders if she made a mistake hiding Esteban's affairs from Carmen and their other older child Diego.

Regardless Ana desperately wants to regain what Esteban destroyed when he walked out: her closeness with Carmen. She decides to throw a quinceanera gala for her daughter, but Carmen seems disinterested; preferring to punch her mom by exclusion and omission, Ana is hurt more by Carmen's behavior than the womanizing and abandonment by Esteban. Diego plays intermediary between his wary mom and his acrimonious sis while his cousin Bianca takes over the role of quinceanera party planner.

This is a well written family drama that deftly focuses on the extended Ruiz brood. Ironically the "white girl from Kansas" enhances the profound look at a Mexican-American family as she knows more about Mexican music than the Ruiz family. Carmen is angry and but holding her mom culpable while her brother guesses at the truth. Ana is superb as the prime player who feels as if her world has ended yet resolutely hides what Esteban did to her from her daughter. Fans will enjoy this drama that looks into the trials and tribulations of a Mexican-American family.

The Lucky One
Nicholas Sparks
Grand Central
9780446698344 $13.99

While deployed to Iraq U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds the picture of a woman with a dog half buried in dirt. Although he is unsure why he feels she is his lucky charm he keeps the picture, carrying it wherever he goes as he survives his third tour of combat. He believes she saved his life. He vows to find "E" once he returns to Colorado.

Back in America, Logan begins his hunt to find his lucky charm in person. In North Carolina, he has a nasty encounter with Sheriff Keith Clayton; but the former marine steals the law enforcement official's camera loaded with shots of underage girls. Soon afterward he succeeds in his quest when he meets "E", divorced mom Elizabeth Greene, whom he believes is the reason he is alive. Logan learns she is Clayton's ex so he hides from her the picture and his assertion of destiny as his brother in arms Victor insisted and encouraged his hunt. Instead he obtains work at the dog training facility of her ailing grandmother and begins to date Elizabeth. Already in love with his image of her, he also falls in love with the real person; she reciprocates. However, he begins to believe he owes her the truth of how she saved his life in Iraq.

THE LUCKY ONE is an engaging contemporary romance starring a nice single mom, her mean spirited former spouse and the vet who feels she is the destiny that kept him alive. The story line is character driven from the moment Logan finds the discarded photo that he believes is his lucky charm. Although the plot is thin especially after a strong first half and the climax too convenient fans of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy his latest love story.

Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile
Gyles Brandreth
Touchstone (Simon and Schuster)
9781416534853 $14.00

Following his American tour (see OSCAR WILDE AND A GAME CALLED MURDER).Wilde sails home to England on the SS Bothnia in December 1892; musing that he still is all style and substance though solving a homicide does add luster. On board with the playwright is the French acting troupe, La Compagnie La Grange.

In Liverpool, customs officer find a dead poodle inside a trunk filled with dirt that Wilde thought were books. Soon afterward on the way to Paris, members of the troupe become victims of a serial killer with an obvious grudge or perhaps that person disdain Hamlet. Wilde and his companion journalist Robert Sherard investigate La Compagnie La Grange in order to uncover the identity of the murderer.

The third Oscar Wilde mystery (see OSCAR WILDE AND A DEATH OF NO IMPORTANCE) is a fabulous late Victorian whodunit with several neat plot devices including the star sending the mystery to Doyle in 1890. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Wilde meets the actors and never slows down. With Sherard, who was a real friend of the author and his biographer, adding realism to the mix, Gyles Brandreth provides a superb entertaining historical murder mystery.

The Counterfeit Guest
Rose Melikan
9781416560876 $15.00

In 1796 England, Mary Finch has become a wealthy heiress as she marvels how far she has come in about a year since she met her estranged uncle and the recent adventures she shared with two mysterious men (see THE BLACKSTONE KEY). In London her best friend Susannah and her new husband Colonel Crosby-Nash throw a ball honoring the once impoverished teacher. During the gala, Mary notices Nash meeting with a stranger, who is obviously in a disguise. She meets the mysterious COUNTERFEIT GUEST Cuthbert Shy.

Undercover espionage agent Cuthbert believes the colonel is committing acts of treason, but lacks solid information to prove his case. He persuades Mary to assist him, which she agrees to do. She accompanies the newlyweds to his estate in Kent. There she meets Captain Robert Holland, whose Woolwich headquarters is a target of the saboteurs. Although attracted to Mary, he fears her new affluence makes him unacceptable as he is only a lowly artillery officer.

This is a fun sequel that follows the further adventures of eccentric Mary Finch with another mysterious male. The story line is filled with action from the moment that Marry and THE COUNTERFEIT GUEST meet and never slows down. Although the use of fortunate luck helps marvelous Mary on her escapades fan will enjoy her early Regency exploits.

The White Queen
Philippa Gregory
9781416563686 $25.99

Everyone is shocked when twenty-seven years old widow Elizabeth Woodville Grey marries the newly crowned King Edward IV; five years younger than her. He is the House of York while she is the House of Lancaster. With a twist, her family becomes his greatest loyalist backers while his brother George and his advisor Warwick unite in duplicity to steal the throne. A third family of cousins the Tudors wait in the wings while encouraging both sides in the dispute. The War of the Roses begins with the ascension of THE WHITE ROSE as queen.

The key to this super historical fiction is not the often told tale of changing loyalties or heated trysts (a Philippa Gregory norm), but the speculation into Edward and Elizabeth's two sons, the lost princes placed in the Tower by their Uncle Richard. Clearly researched in great depth, Ms Gregory makes her case plausible based on accepted facts. Fans will enjoy the epic WHITE QUEEN as history comes alive, but it is the speculative history that makes this a triumph worth reading amidst a sea of novels as cousins go to war with ironically the long term victor being the third family Tudor.

The Kindred
L.L Foster
9780515146905 $7.99

Paladin Gabrielle "Gabby" Cody and police detective Luther Cross are trying to find a common ground as they fall in love. She as God's warrior enforcer uses methods outside the law that he is obligated to enforce.

However, her biggest concern is her desire for Luther interfering with her higher calling. As she struggles with love, an evil predator is devouring human bodies and souls. She knows the monster is coming for her, but that does not frighten her as she has dealt with malevolent beings for years; though her need for her beloved distracts her. However, the couple realizes the beast is targeting children playing in a playground to force Gabby into a confrontation on the creature's terms.

The third Servant thriller is a super romantic urban fantasy. The lead couple struggle with a beast and with their attraction as their differing methods do not make for easy bed talk. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as the vile creature controls the altercation. Fans will enjoy the latest entry while newcomers should read the previous novels (see THE ACCEPTANCE and THE AWAKENING) to better understand the fabulous world of L.L. Foster and the dysfunctional loving relationship between the lead sleuths.

A Gate at the Stairs
Lorrie Moore
9780375409288 $25.00

In the Midwest in September 2001, twenty years old Tassie Keltjin, daughter of a gentleman potato farmer, is at college looking forward to the greats of literature. In between her semesters, she takes a position as a nanny to restaurateur Sarah Brink, who has no children yet but is considering adoption.

Sarah begins her search for a suitable pregnant woman who does not want to raise a child or have an abortion. She has a choice between a girl without a brain or a white female whose African-American boyfriend dumped her when she mentioned the "P" word. Meanwhile Tassie receives an education on social class and race relationships while finding a lover Reynaldo, who conceals from her elements of his life.

This is a terrific character study of a a young woman just after 9/11 trying to make sense of a world that seems out of control from her relative understanding. Tassie makes the story line as the center holding it together with her wonderful mix of gentle naivety and Midwestern potato wisdom. Fans will enjoy her escapades with 9/11 in the backdrop as Lorrie Moore explores the issues that split society through her intelligent yet bewildered protagonist coming of age.

Angel Time
Anne Rice
9781400043538 $25.95

Excellent contract killer Toby "Lucky the Fox" O'Dare works for the Right Man who insists his chosen victims are the bad guys while their side is funded by the good guys. Toby has come a long way from a family tragedy that changed his life; when his mom murdered his siblings and herself, he quit God because he believed God deserted him. He no longer continued his studies for the priesthood, but remorse is setting in.

He has just completed his latest kill when guardian angel Malchiah coming out of the shadows offers Toby a chance for redemption. Toby accepts the deal, but finds himself in the thirteenth century in England; masquerading as a Dominican friar. He is immediately caught up in a vendetta against all Jews; as a couple Meir and Fluria is accused of killing their daughter for her converting to Christianity. His assignment is to prevent a religious massacre.

The first The Songs of the Seraphim saga is an exhilarating redemption thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who goes from one extreme to another. His "past" in "Angel Time" (our recent past and present in "Natural Time") and that of the Jewish couple and their daughter's "Natural Time" add depth though it is somewhat disjointed (as time flows differently between NT and AT) to understanding Toby's life and medieval life for Jews inside a Christian world. Using real persona and events in thirteenth century England, Anne Rice provides a deep save the soul story. Fans will enjoy Toby's attempts to redeem his soul although he understands he can never make up for violating the Commandment Thou Shall Not Kill, but he has begun his soul survivor salvation mission in the past and hopefully with a call to New Orleans.

The Arms Maker of Berlin
Dan Fesperman
9780307268372 $25.95

WWII history professor Dr. Nat Turnbull specializes in the German resistance movement. He is shocked when he learns his former advisor octogenarian Dr. Gordon Wolfe was arrested by Pennsylvania police for possessing stolen archival information from the 1940s.

Nat sees some of the findings and realizes what Gordon had squirreled away is incredible as none of the documents can be found elsewhere as far he knows. However, he also finds a gap in what the police took and assumes Gordon, for whatever reason, hid part of the cache of data. When Gordon is found dead in his cell, the FBI asks Nat to investigate Gordon's strange clues. As he begins to uncover the secrets of the White Rose Resistance buried for decades, Berlin's Free University Professor Berta Heinkel offers to help him. He soon distrusts everyone including the German visitor and the FBI as the evidence point towards a cover-up to protect a German weapons manufacturer, Bauer, who apparently hid his WW II activity so that he could keep his Jewish family members from the camps.

This should be must reading for ideologues as family motives easily supersede everything is this poignant clearly timely and profound thriller. Although Turnbull is the superstar of the tale from the opening shocker to the final denouement with five survivors at his side, Bauer owns the story line then and now. He did what he had to for his beloved ones to survive war and the Final Solution; choices are not simple Bushian for or against as the Neocons proclaim and Congressman Tim Ryan has recently affirmed, but instead complex and complicated as Bauer made choices that has haunted him in life and will do so until he dies.

Once on a Moonless Night
Dai Sijie
9780307271587 $24.95

In 1978 the French student attends the University of Peking studying Chinese literature when she is hired as a translator between the Chinese representatives and a western movie crew wanting to make a film on the last Emperor Puyi. At the meeting she learns of the mysterious second century Buddhist sutra written in an unknown language that the emperor inherited. She becomes obsessed with translating this treasure. The student finds out about the sutra's history in the twelfth century when the Japanese incarcerates Puyi; who apparently ripped it in half and tossed it from a plane.

The student further learns from street stand seller Tumchooq that his father Paul d'Ampere did some work on the half found by her maternal family; her mom is curator at the museum of the Forbidden City. D'Ampere went to prison for twenty five years until he died. The student-narrator aborts the baby she had with Tumchooq and leaves for France after he left the city motivated by to seek the missing half. She tracks him in Burma in 1990, but he is arrested and deported to Laos.

This is a complex well written historical novel that either grips the audience thoroughly with its poetic look back in time or turns off the readers with its flowery description of the past. Case in point is some of the passages go on and on and on with incredible depth like the historian looking at the ancient emperor's love of the art of calligraphy. Character driven including the prized sutra that seems to have a life of its own, ONCE ON A MOONLESS NIGHT is not for everyone as the action in spite of imprisonment in several eras and locales is limited to musings.

The Truth About Love
Josephine Hart
9780307272614 $24.00

In 1962 in Leinster, Ireland, the teenage son of Tom and Sissy O'Hara dies in an accident. Everyone comes to the funeral even newcomer Thomas "The German" Middlehoff who muses about attending his first Irish funeral. The parents of the victim and his siblings Olivia and Daragh know now life is surviving until you die.

Over time however, the desire to just live becomes superseded by other needs except for the family patriarch who believes his mission in life is to keep his family safe and avoid risk. The widower expatriate who ran away from one death that haunts him, Middlehoff initially adopted the O'Hara philosophy, but found it permeated his literary work. Sissy becomes so depressed she is hospitalized. Olivia is angry and resentful as she feels she lives a dead life in homage to her late older brother; she turns to therapy and the the stage to pretend she lives. Finally there is Daragh who is simply an evanescent shadow with no substance.

Rotating perspective the audience receives a powerful look at surviving the death of a loved one. The cast is deep as each represents an outlook on life and death. Although late surprise twists and denouements feels forced and hasty and detract from a profound look at THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE even in death, fans of strong family drama will want to read Josephine Hart's fine tale of what happens to those who live after a loved one dies with no warning.

Ice Land
Betsy Tobin
9780452295698 $15.00

In 1000 AD in Iceland, Freya the Aesir goddess of love seeks a gold necklace created by the Brising dwarves that the Fates warn her can change history. At seemingly the same time sixteen year old orphan Fulla has fallen in love with Vili, whose father killed her father. Meanwhile also apparently at the identical moments, the Norns observe increasingly dangerous volcanic activity especially by Hekla that looks ready to explode.

Freya works a deal with the dwarves for the necklace in exchange for escorting their leader Dvalin in a quest to cure his sister's infertility. She actually obtains the necklace, but Odin steals it from her. Odin uses the necklace to extort Freya into kidnapping Fulla, who is his daughter; Fulla's human family accepts Vili into their clan as her husband. Hekla erupts destroying much of the surrounding area, but also enables Freya to regain the necklace and rescue Dvalin.

This is an exciting Nordic historical romantic fantasy that use Norse mythology to tell the tale of forbidden loves at a time when Christianity has come to the island. Although the two major subplots can prove difficult at times to follow as perspective rotates frequently, sub-genre fans will relish Betsy Tobin's terrific tale of love conquers all even a legendary God.

Chasing the Dragon
Justina Robson
9781591027461 $15.98

In 2015 the release of the quantum bomb destroyed the dimensional divides enabling humans to cross into other realms; and the occupants (elves, demons, and ghosts, etc.) of those worlds to enter the mortal realm. Otopian Secret Service Special Agent Lila Black understands the danger having been magically tortured but "saved" by humans who turned her into an android of sorts. She is married to the demon Teazle and in love with a dead elf Zal.

Her superiors order her to execute her missing spouse, accused of mass murder killings. Lila knows the evidence is overwhelming but refuses to believe her husband would commit atrocities. She is determined to prove his innocence and catch the real culprit before other innocents die. However, her biggest objective is to find a way to bring her beloved back from the dead. Her efforts lead her to uncover a plot by an ancient evil who is manipulating the suspicions between species with diabolical plans to become the multi-dimensional God.

The latest Quantum Gravity is a terrific entry as the heroine with her sentient dress and sword is mightier than the pen investigates the crimes her husband allegedly comitted under the guise of searching and destroying Teazle the demon. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of action and gore as is the norm of this thrilling sci-fi fantasy. In some ways this is more of a Noir as kick butt Lila stalks the mean cold (it is winter) streets of Bay City barefoot, fans will enjoy her escapades while newcomers could read this entry by itself, but reading previous tales provides a better sense of how the world changed.

Moon Kissed
Michele Hauf
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618194 $5.25

In the Twin Cities, after having a few cosmopolitans, Belladonna Reynolds starts to jog home when three dudes chase her. As she increases her speed into a panic sprint, she runs into a mass of muscles. Severo the werewolf calms her down and takes her to a safe spot until the blood suckers leave. He saves her from gang rape and dining on her blood.

He wonders if he met his life mate as he is attracted to Bella from the first introduction. However, her best friend Seth informs her vamps and weres live as he dates one. Severo thinks Seth is seeing Evie whom he calls Elvira. That means Bella needs to write his eulogy soon and if the crazed Elvira thinks Bella is Seth's lover, she is in trouble too. When the vamps remain fixated on their search for her, he escorts her home and moves in with her to keep his mate safe. As they fall in love, she remains under siege and the beastly werewolf side of Severo has to accept or kill his lifemate who has become his beloved enemy.

MOON KISSED starts off as Beauty and the Beast with an initial werewolf twist, but takes another ironic spin. The lead couple is a super pairing as both are courageous and caring; while the setting of the Twin Cities seems perfect for the supernaturals. Fans of urban romantic fantasy with a bite will appreciate Michele Hauf's engaging paranormal.

Baby by Surprise
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
9780373654796 $4.99

Six months pregnant neonatologist Dr. Francesca Talbot drives from Sagebrush to the hospital in Lubbock because she did not feel well. On the drive she becomes dizzy, has an accident, and breaks her arm. At the hospital she learns she is having a son and needs to watch her diet as she suffers from gestational diabetes so she especially has to avoid the take-out that she lives on. Francesca also knows she owes her child's father a call.

Thus she phones Sagebrush Saddles, whose owner Grady picks up the phone. He already told her he wants in on his child's life, but is worried about her and their unborn. He persuades Francesca to move in with him at least until the birth so he can help her. She agrees. As they fall in love, her work and his being burned by his ex fiance keeps both reluctantly from pursuing the next step in their relationship.

The latest Baby Experts contemporary romance is a terrific tale starring two strong lead characters whose doubts about marriage even with a baby coming make for an engaging story line. Francesca and Grady are fully developed players so that their strengths, desires, and flaws seem real as they make a for a fabulous Special Edition.

Time Raiders: The Slayer
Cindy Dees
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618187 $5.25

Professor Athena Carswell heads up Project Anasazi (with DOD oversight) whose goal is to recover the twelve pieces of the Karanovo Stamp before the Centurion Federation or other nefarious humans obtain the valuable potentially dangerous artifacts. She is ready to launch the second recovery mission jump (see THE SEEKER by Lindsay McKenna for the first quest) with psychic Tessa Marconi as the time traveling raider going to leap back to 480 BC at the time of Emperor Xerxes of Persia and the biblical Esther.

While back at the lab, there is a fire and Tessa crash lands into Rustam the slave in what she assumes is 480 BC. She quickly learns Rustam is a shapeshifter and his owner Queen Artemesia calls him Halicarnassus. He keeps her safe when the sons of the Mirror's brother General Masistes and General Markonoius (of whom she knows will soon lose the Greek invasion) seek her out. As Tessa falls in love with her protector, she begins to wonder if he might be an ET alien. Her theory proves correct, but what she learns about her beloved is he is an uncover agent Lord Commander Rustam Fisoli d'Antonus of the Fifth Merchant Fleet of the Centaurian Federation.

This is a terrific Time Raiders entry with the twist of beloved enemies needing to trust one another to make their "auras" complete. The story line is fast-paced from the onset when the heroine goes back in time while the lab she left is filling with smoke. Fans will enjoy Cindy Dees' delightful tale as Rustam and Tessa must find a way to conquer the animosity of their planets as much as the time space continuum.

The Perfect Liar
Brenda Novak
9780778327240 $7.99

At Travis Air Force Base in California, Captain Luke Trussell mourns the death of his bestf friend who died in Iraq with alcohol and love making with Sergeant Kalyna Harter of his flying squadron. He knows both were mistakes, but the latter proves ugly when two military police enlisted NCOs arrive the next morning informing him that Sergeant Harter accused him of rape; she spent several hours at Northbay medical Clinic and has bruises all over her body; none life threatening. He says she lies.

Kalyna follows that up with asking victims' rights advocate Ava Bixby to help nail Luke with further evidence of his abusing women. Ava's inquiry proves Luke has no bad marks or hints of such until the rape accusation while Kalyna has a history. The advocate soon believes he is the victim and works to prove her theory although she hopes she is not rosy coloring the facts because she is falling in love with the captain. Kalyna is outraged when she perceives the betrayal and the look of love in Aava's eyes.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense with the obsessed villainess stealing the show from the lead couple as THE PERFECT LIAR. Readers will be fascinated with the obviously troubled Kalyna as she loves Luke, but her method to his heart may seem on the surface an odd approach; the audience will understand why the psychopath made the rape accusation.. Fans will enjoy Brenda Novak's latest Last Stand thriller.

Blind Eye
Jan Coffey
9780778326731 $7.99

At the underground New Mexico Fusion Test Facility, scientist Marion Kagan looks forward to sunlight in forty-two days though she does not mind working seven days sixteen hours a day on the project. They are attacked by gunmen who kill everyone inside the edifice except for Marian who they shoot in the head and thought her dead too. The building collapses amidst flame and debris. The outside world assumes everyone inside is dead while radioactive material could soon leak out killing millions.

In Connecticut at the Waterbury Long Term care facility, a JD patient who has been in a minimally conscious state for six years since the car accident begins to violently move. Using an experimental program to understand what disturbs her leads them to Pennsylvania ex-cop Mark Shaw, who's just returned from a stint in Iraq. Mark recognizes the link between Jane Doe and Marion but now believes the scientist may be alive in that rubble in New Mexico while Dr. Ahmad Baer brings in a specialist to try to bring JD totally alive.

This intense thriller will hook the audience as the action moves back and forth between New Mexico to Connecticut with a few other stops in between. The story line is fast-paced from the opening assault and never slows down for a breather. The key to this tense thriller is the romantic subplot though it takes a back seat to the non-stop action. Jan Coffey has a winner with this strong tale.

Air Time
Hank Phillippi Ryan
9780778327196 $7.99

TV reporter Charlotte McNally is with her producer Franklin on a plane on the tarmac in Charlotte when she realizes an incident occurred at the airport, but it turned out to be nothing except that the nothing caused her to miss her flight to Boston where she is to meet the Prada P.I. However, she helps some young woman in gigantic heals lug her luggage off the conveyor belt. Regine gives Charlie a business card for Double Designers. Charlie thanks the Gods for now she has a lead.

Charlie goes undercover attending a party thrown by Double Designers. Her work upsets her boyfriend English professor Josh Gelston, as they spend no time together so he implies he should move in with her so they can spend some time together. Meanwhile those selling the fakes do not appreciate investigative reporters.

The third Charlie McNally investigative thriller (see PRIME TIME and AIR TIME) is a terrific action-packed tale as the heroine provides her unique often humorous and biting commentary to the reader. Fans will enjoy her adventures as her undercover work is dangerous in terms of the sham makers and her relationship with the professor. Once again Charlie turns the latest "Time" suspense into an enjoyable read.

Vengeance Road
Rick Mofina
9780778326380 $7.99

Buffalo Sentinel veteran reporter Jack Gannon hears the buzz over the scanner and knows something ugly is going down in a park. He knows he is ancient history with his highlight film in the past and his work on a daily print newspaper a dinosaur nearing extinction, but he goes to cover the story.

Someone murdered former nursing student Bernice Hogan. Jack is told by someone inside the investigation whom he trusts but cannot name that the prime suspect is highly regarded cop Karl Styebeck, the head of this murder inquiry. Jack writes the story, which leads to fiftyish Mary Peller informing him her twenty six year old daughter, a single mom of a three year old child, is missing and connected to Bernice. Jack's editor demands he give up his source, but he refuses; he is suspended. However, though he is about to be unemployed he keeps digging because he knows Jolene will be next.

This is a super journalistic investigative suspense thriller with several great plausible twists. Jack is a throwback reporter to those 1940s movies who as his missing sister and Mary noted he never gives up. Fans will relish his exploits in Buffalo and elsewhere as he may be unemployed but has a save a stranger driving him onward.

Royal's Bride
Kat Martin
9780778326427 $7.99

In 1854, Royal Dewar comes home after spending several years in foreign countries to pay his respects to his dying father, the duke of Bransford. His dad insists Royal make a death bed promise to marry an heiress to restore the family's dwindling fortune that was devastated by a con artist. Unable to say no or even ignore the plea Royal acquiesces.

Although he knows no one but himself is aware of his pledge, the honorable new duke proposes to wealthy snooty Jocelyn Caulfield; she accepts. However, he falls in love with her impecunious feisty cousin, Lily Moran, who has a criminal history when they team up to recover the money his father lost. While Jocelyn also falls in love with Christopher Barclay, Lily is abducted by their adversary; Royal vows to rescue his beloved and find a way to marry her.

This is a terrific Victorian romantic suspense starring a strong lead pair and a solid support cast especially the heroine's arrogant cousin and the villain. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Royal comes home and never slows down. Although the post game show is too perfect, fans will enjoy the tense game. Kat Martin always entertains the audience with her fantastic romances.

Lord Of Sin
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN
9780373773985 $7.99

Nuala, Lady Charles was a powerful witch whose mission like all her ancestors before her was to help lovers come together. However, her last project led to the death of her beloved Charles and the loss of her bewitching powers. She joined the Widow's Club, vowing to never marry again and knowing her magic is interred with her husband.

In 1889, Nuala meets Sinjin Ware, the Earl of Donnington, who belongs to the Forties confirmed bachelor club. They are attracted to one another; her first since Charles died and even her powers resurface. He wants her too, but should loath her. Still he wants her fiercely and plans to have the widow his way, which means stripped of clothing, inhibitions, and paranormal power. Others have nefarious plans for the bewitching witch.

The latest "Lord of" (see LORD OF LEGENDS) is an engaging historical romantic fantasy starring a lead couple who have doubts about their relationship. The support cast is very powerful (a list in the back helps) especially his buddy Leo and her friend Deborah. With plenty going on that weave cohesively together into a fast-paced tale, fans will want to read the adventures of the witch, the bachelor and the Fane (Fair Folk).

Gena Showalter
Harlequin Teen
9780373210022 $15.99

In present day Crossroads, Oklahoma, sixteen years old Aden Stone has heard voices in his head ever since he was a small child. The medical community labels him schizophrenic; his parents gave up on him when he was three years old placing him in a mental institution. Recently, he was relocated to the D and M Ranch, a halfway house for troubled teens.

Although no one else does, Aden understands his four voices are lost souls. Eve time travels; Julian raises the dead; Elijah predicts the future; and Caleb possesses other beings. Elijah informs Aden he will not live much longer; just when he meets Mary Ann Gray, who can silence the voices; the teen he thinks he fell in love with her because of his dreams of normalcy. He meets two other teenagers with uncanny skills as they find themselves struggling with vampires, demons, werewolves and fairies.

This is a wonderful young adult fantasy as the teen male lead makes the thriller work; as he has spent his life being misunderstood and locked away as a nut case. He understands that he is not schizophrenic and does not have multiple personality disorder; instead his brain carries four INTERTWINED lost souls although he has no idea why him. Thus when he meets Mary Ann who silences the bickering voices that give him headaches, he relishes the quiet normal time that ha always desired. However that mental serenity UNRAVELED with the start of war against the paranormal in which he is the human point. Fans will relish Aden's escapades with his three new allies and look forward to more unraveling of his mind in future Intertwined adventures.

Enchanted Dreams
Nancy Madore
Harlequin Spice
9780373605347 $13.95

"The Enchanted Forest". Catherine once ran marathons; now she runs the rat race. Thus with a few days of R&R, Catherine returns to outdoor activity. However, her hike into the forest seems to be calling her to go deeper as if someone is calling for her.

"Disenchantment". Maryanne knows nothing has gone right lately as each man she meets on line has proven not up to the image they depict. However when she meets Dan she falls in love and him with her until he begins to find Maryanne's biting flaws pushing him to sever the relationship.

"Dying For It". Anna and Vincent are opposites as she is an introvert and he is an extrovert; that is what each displays to others. Inside Anna is an extrovert while Vincent is an introvert. When they meet, each conceals a dark secret that define their personalities in public and in private, but neither quite understands blood will tell.

"Expecting". Emilie sees the blue mark that indicates uncertainty to her and David whose comfort feels alien. Yet her dreams increases her trepidations that what happened will occur again as she is locked away with Dr. Rozzi providing therapy, but she knows they are expecting her soon.

"Flowers for Angela". In the psychiatrist's journal, the first entry mentions middle age patient Eleanor dealing with the deaths of her husband and her shrink, but nothing is quite what it seems as her negative emotions are modified so every moment is joyful.

"Jimmy". The clairvoyant warns Sara that Jimmy the incubus haunts her to get at her boyfriend, Ray.

"The Incentive Program". In 2019 Georgia runs a simulation program that predicts humanity's future. She likes what she sees in 2304 especially what happens to volunteers Cassie and Peter as she wants that for herself.

These seven well written erotic tales run the gamut between the supernatural and science fiction as Nancy Madore enchants those who prefer something different.

Doctor Daddy
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
9780373752775 $4.99

Luke Van Dam and Jane McKay attended medical school together as OB students, but though they knew each other, they only had one night. Following ecstasy, he dumped her. Years late, both are doctors who have not stayed in touch.

However, in Brea, California when Luke's cousin Sean asks him to cover for him at the medical practice as he has inherited money and plans to practice in impoverish areas. Luke takes an extended leave from his research and is taken aback that thirty something Jane is the partner of his cousin who he knows he did her wrong. Jane knows she is still attracted to the rat. He is in the middle of a custody war when he suddenly finds himself with a daughter and an infant; Jane, who wants a child, helps him adjust to the nuking of his lifestyle by the kids and his heart is now sure he wants the three females permanently in his life.

This is a terrific Harmony Circle (see THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR, BABY IN WAITING and MILLION-DOLLAR NANNY) medical romance. The lead couple is a solid paring; while the support cast is strong as they turn the second chance at love into a special family drama. DOCTOR DADDY is an engaging contemporary as the lead male and the two kids wants doctor mommy too.

A Wedding For Baby
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American
9780373752805 $4.99

Six months pregnant Gabby Craig is shocked when Ben Bocelli, the father of her unborn, decamps. Ironically his family remains warm and loving towards her as if she were their offspring instead of the deserting wastrel.

Gabby is having health issues with her pregnancy and heart issues with falling in love with Ben's brother Judge Dane Bocelli. He is attracted to her, but avoids her until her health issues surface. He is there for her in her hour of need, but Ben is back begging for a second chance arguing he is a changed responsible adult.

This is a terific romantic triangle starring two brothers and the woman they love. Ironically, Dane is there for Gabby but without candy and flowers while Ben is not but with candy and flowers; Ben is confident his impish smile will win the competition while Dane is "Running Scared" (nod to Roy Orbison) he cannot compete especially since he is only the child's uncle. Although the ending is too easy, fans will enjoy attending A WEDDING FOR BABY as the audience don't know Jack as to whom Gabby will select.

One Good Man
Alison Kent
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794980 $4.99

Ten years ago, Jamie Danby worked in a diner under a different name when a robbery included a killing spree; she was the lone survivor besides the killer, but has no memory of that horrific night. Her mom feared for her safety from a cold blooded murderer who would not blink to eliminate the only witness so they moved her across Texas to Weldon.

Her mom Dr. Kate opened up Danby Veterinary Clinic six years ago with Jamie as the office manager. However, the nightmare resurfaces when another of the bodies from that horror is found; the media including the blogs goes crazy. Texas Ranger Kell Harding believes Jamie will remember what happened and who the killer is under hypnosis; her mom opposes this because the nightmares her daughter suffered was debilitating.

This is an interesting romantic suspense that contains three strong characters (her mom being the third) and a solid support cast to include the townsfolk, the killer, family members of the victims and the media. The story line is intense and fast-paced when the focus is on to hypnotize or to not hypnotize for that is the only question; when the center is the romance, ONE GOOD MAN loses steam though gains heat as the L word feels intrusive. Still this is a solid contemporary as the killer remains vigilant waiting for the last victim to surface.

Getting Physical
Jade Lee
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794935 $4.99

Stephen Chu travels from Hong Kong to Illinois toe meet his sexual Tao partner Tantric Sex Goddess Miss Tracy Williams. However, at the O'Hare customs line he learns the shocking news that his Tracy is engaged to Nathan Gao (see TAO OF SEX). He is stunned as Tracey as his Tantric partner would have taken both to incredible heights while Nathan is not a dragon master like him. Adding to his confusion that he insists to himself is caused by jet lag is his desire for the woman who has met him at the Chicago airport, Zoe Lewis even as she keeps saying Tracey and Nathan are in love and engaged.

Both are attracted to each other, but Zoe who had some training under another master must return to China to save her family's troubled business and besides had one bad marriage with a former spouse still a louse causing her problems. Still Stephen begins teaching her sex while Zoe teaches him sensitivity that spans two continents. Although their sexual sensuality leads to love; he is a master so she can only be his mistress unless he opens his mind and heart to how high they can soar.

This is an entreating Tantric sex romance starring two likable lead characters and a ton of positions that should excite the audience; just remember Stephen is a master, which means practice makes perfect. The relationship between Zoe and Stephen feels right when it is somewhat distant though heated by the three steps; when love enters the equation GETTING PHYSICAL loses some of its edge as that feels abrupt especially on Stephen's part. Still this is a hot contemporary romance.

The Darkest Whisper
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN
9780373773923 $7.99

Like his comrades, Sabin hosts a demon he and the others released from Pandora's Box; his being Doubt. He knows unless a miracle occurs as has happened to some of his brothers in arms recently, he will remain eternally alone as he fears Doubt will destroy anyone he cherishes.

He leads an expedition in Egypt for one of the ancient artifacts that could help him and his dark warrior teammates reconstruct Pandora's Box and contain the demons. They find their enemy the Hunters, who believe killing the Lords of the Underworld will destroy the demons, have captured immortal women locking them in hidden cells. One of the prisoners is incarcerated in a glass container. Over the fears and warnings of the Hunters, he frees Gwendolyn the Timid, who unlike the other harpies does not enjoy the kill though she rips out the throat of the Hunter who imprisoned her for the past year. She fears her dark side is free so she wants to return to Alaska to hide from mortals. Instead Sabin takes her to Budapest with him. He wants her and she wants him, but Doubt wants her blood to flow.

The latest Lords of the Underworlds saga (see THE DARKEST PLEASURE, THE DARKEST KISS and THE DARKEST NIGHT) is once again an extremely dark exciting tale in which Gena Showalter's mythos laden earth seems genuine. The hero is a fascinating brooding protagonist who for the first time since his fall has a sliver of hope although his demon leaves him with doubts while the harpy is ready to kill the demon inside her beloved if it gets in the way of love. Though a stand alone as are the other entries starring different "Lords", romantic fantasy fans who appreciate a modernization of ancient myths should read the previous three novels; not only are they excellent, they provide depths to this strong gory read.

How To Tempt A Duke
Kasey Michaels
Harlequin HQN
9780373773718 $7.99

In 1814 after fighting for several years on the continent, Captain Rafael Daughtry is coming home to begin his duties as the Duke of Ashurst since his uncle and his cousins mysteriously died while he was fighting Napoleon. Family friend Charlotte Seavers is a bit aghast with Rafe's younger out of control sixteen years old twin sisters, Nicole the ring leader and Lydia for the stunt they pulled on letters to and from Rafe, but is elated her childhood buddy is finally returning home safe and sound.

Neither Rafe nor Charlie initially recognizes one another as childhood memories overwhelm adult senses. However, he needs her to help him somewhat control and chaperone his siblings. As he falls in love with Charlie, she has always loved him; but conceals her secret as to why she distrusts men even her beloved Rafe.

This is an engaging amusing Regency romance starring two likable lead characters and a terrific support cast starting with the irresistible impish sisters. The breezy brisk story line also contains a serious mystery subplot as well as Charlie's related secret. Fans will enjoy this witty historical and want a future tale or two (in a few years hence) starring the terrible terror twins.

Slow Burn
Pamela Britton
Harlequin HQN
9780373774005 $7.99

Dana Johnson was about to marry Stewart until she learned he was taking credit for her work. She quickly ended that relationship. Her friend and co-worker at Steele and Steele Alysa takes her to a NASCAR race; an event she has never attended before.

However, Dana is appalled to learn that Alysa entered her name in a win a date with driver Braden James contest; and she won. Dana says no, but Braden persuades her to go through the dating ritual as his sponsor,, demands they do. She reluctantly agrees though she doubts a rebounder like her will be any fun. To her shock she begins to fall in love with the hunk; not the macho image, but the sensitive former foster child. Shockingly Alysa, who sets them up, is jealous with rage.

SLOW BURN is a tender warm contemporary NASCAR romance in which her stepfather puts perspective when he wishes her the best in life and love, but with a quarterback. Fans will enjoy this engaging tale although the villain has sniffed too many racing car fumes. Still Pamela Britton provides a wonderful ride to the winner's circle with the help of the pit crew (and not just those at the track).

Sharon Shinn
9780441017584 $24.95

"Flight". Living in atonement for her sins, Aunt Salome protects her niece Sheba from the dark archangel of Samaria Raphael as she knows first hand his temptation.

"Blood". Seventeen year old Kerk Socast leaves the Gold Mountain to find his mom in the Lost City with the help of Jalciana Candachi.

"Gold". Her parents send Princess Zara from the war to live with her Uncle Jaxon in Alora. Later after it is safe, she refuses to go home to Castle Auburn as she prefers living on the other side of the River Faelyn as there her love for her restrained guard Orlain can flourish.

"Flame". The untrained reclusive Mystic Senneth knows when she uses her gift; the headache and other pains leave her believing she is cursed. She meets the villagers at a gala that her friend Evelyn insists the too tall big boned hermit attend. However, soon afterward, the villagers realize she has the gift of the magi with her skill to call and put out the fire. However that condemns her as flames burn down the village.

These are four great fantasy novellas that showcase the talent of a wonderful author. It's a sin if you have not read Sharon Shinn.

At Empire's Edge
William C. Dietz
9780441017591 $24.95

The Uman Empire has never been challenged by any of their conquests as they increasingly rule the stars; colonizing planets along the way. However, recently a planet has been found containing violent prone shape-shifters; to control the nasty Sagathis, the Uman scientists biologically reengineered a special forces unit the Xeno Corps who has the skill to see past the bodily changes into the essence of these aliens.

A battle with the Vord forced a Xeno Corps ship escorting a captured Sagathi to land on former prison planet Dantha for repairs. The crew including Jak Cato gets smashingly drunk. When Jak regains consciousness with a splitting headache, he learns to his horror that every other Xeno cop he served with was slaughtered during the night. Filled with survivor guilt and fueled by rage, Jak vows to hunt down and kill everyone involved with the slaughter especially the person who betrayed them.

This is an entertaining police procedural (loosely that is) space opera for fans who relish blood, gore and blood. The story line is fast-paced as Jak and the villains emote overly dramatic while bystanders are killed at an alarming rate. Fans who enjoy a blood-spattered science fiction thriller will want to read the first of a two part saga as William C. Dietz provides an exciting but out of control opening act.

Dark Road Rising
P. N. Elrod
9780441017553 $15.00

In 1938 Chicago, Jack Fleming is trying to recover from the worst trauma of his life. To add to his problems The New York mob sent Gabe "Whitey" Kroun to the Windy City to kill Jack as retaliation for killing one of their associates. In addition to worrying about that, Jack's best friend Charles Escott ends up in the hospital with severe life threatening injuries. Gabe gets turned into a vampire befo re he can kill Jack but a bullet in his head limits his skills. Jack has to deal with him while handling other threats that come his way.

Time and place are captured through the vernacular though perhaps mobster talk is a bite or two overdone. Still readers will enjoy the escapades of a sensitive vampire whose vulnerabilities make him fresh as he stands out from the supernatural crowd; yet he seems to end up in mob messes that require a hard boiled Noir reaction from him when all he wants to do is spend nights at his club Lady Crymyn. The pathos of the three males will stun the audience as P.N. Elrod follows up SONG IN THE DARK with more dangerous adventures on the mean COLD STREETS of Chicago at a time when Capone was a guest at Alcatraz, but danger remains high.

On the Edge
Ilona Andrews
9780441017805 $7.99

The Drayton family resides on the woody Edge of two worlds. On the Georgia side of their home is the Broken; while on the opposite direction is the Weird. In Broken lives normal humans; in Weird lives all types of supernatural and magical entities. Both realms have strict moral codes.

Rose Drayton has become a talented practitioner of magic, which upsets the Weird's ruling aristocrats who want her power for their own use. Soon afterward, brutal hounds attack those who live in the in between edge. At the same time Weird noble Declan Camarine arrives to inform Rose that she will marry him. Rose rejects Declan's arrogant statement, but needs his help as her siblings and other living on the Edge are under attack.

ON THE EDGE is a fascinating romantic fantasy due to the magical world that borders between the mundane and the Weird, making Edgers a unique breed; mindful of the Tex-Mex populace who resides on both sides of the Rio Grande. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when Rosie shoots an arrow in her grandpa's forehead and never slows down especially after she and the arrogant blueblood meet, reject, fall in love, and reject again; wait till she meets the in-laws that is if she survives the assault on the Edgers. Fans will relish this funny frenzied fantastic frolic.

R. Scott Bakker
9780765321893 $24.99

Psychologist Tom Bible still misses Nora and their two children following her divorcing him and he loathes his teaching position lecturing bored grad students. He muses about his best friend Neil Cassidy who teaches in California to bored grad students; and recalls the "Argument" re free will or lack of as his friend firmly believed everyone's brain is pre-wired forcing an individual to choose a pre-determined selection.

Neil visits Tom out of the blue to discuss the Argument in person; proclaiming he has done work for the NSA on destroying the minds of terrorists. Soon after showing up Neil vanishes. The Feds follow him to interrogate and then enlist Tom in their quest to find Neil, who they claim has lost his mind as they show the video of a woman whose brain was rewired; a skill only Neil has. FBI agent Samantha "Sam" Logan insists Tom's best friend has switched from rewiring known terrorists to average American citizens with his target apparently those inside of Tom's inner circle.

NEUROPATH is an exhilarating frightening modernization of Dr. Frankenstein using modern science to change the brain, which causes conflict as R. Scott Bakker makes a strong case that naturing is much more powerful than nurturing. The story line is fast-paced even when the lead character debates with himself over what he knows about Neil. Although some subplots seem stretched, fans will appreciate this extremely dark taut thriller filled with shocking twists that looks deep into the Argument of free will vs. pre-determinism; in a modern context of chemical syntax making the choices instead of rational minds. No one who reads Mr. Bakker's tale will simply accept the words I love you in the same way.

Small Miracles
Edward M. Lerner
9780765320940 $25.95

At Garner Nanotechnology, Brent Cleary demonstrates a new nanosuit that will save the lives of cops or soldiers. Upon impact from a bullet, the suit tightens and stiffens to keep the projectile out; if it should penetrate and injure the wearer, nanites are secreted that clot the wound.

The demos are successful as Brent rides along with the police. That is until a gasoline pipeline explodes killing hundreds and imbedding Brent into a brick wall. Brent survives, but his friends and workers believe he has changed though he, CEO Daniel Garner, and the medical research team in charge of the experiment insist he is back to normal with nanites removed from his system. However, Kim at Garner notices his ability to absorb information at a level geometrically greater than before the accident and his rate of absorption is growing even more rapidly daily. She begs him to undergo more intensive tests, but Brent refuses even as he begins to lose control of his mental faculties while the firm keeps on testing others while hiding the results from federal and state inspectors.

This is an exciting modern day Frankenstein as Edward M. Lerner makes a case for better scientific ethics with stronger government oversight instead of rotating back and forth doors, which means no true review. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the explosion occurs and never slows down, but the tale is totally driven by Brent, Daniel, and Kim; each is obsessive in different ways. Although in some ways similar to Robocop (in terms of the critical conversion incident) mixed with Phenomenon, SMALL MIRACLES is a refreshing cautionary science fiction thriller.

Beowulf's Children
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes
9780765320889 $14.99

Upon their arrival on Avalon the Earth Born never fully recovered from the extended hibernation whereas their Star Born children have thrived. The Earth Born have not forgotten their near extinction when they cavalierly tried to colonize the mainland, but almost were left extinct by the monsters as they fled like rats off a sinking ship during the Grendel Wars (see THE LEGACY OF HEOROT); only fast action by Cadmann Wayland saved them. Now young adults the Star Born discuss a second invasion, but while their collective parents object, the youngsters feel they have the intelligence to succeed and dub the elders as cowards.

The Star Born have a leader Aaron Tragon, who has no connection to any of the Earth Born; being more removed than his peers who in a collective sense feel for the brain damaged elders. Aaron uses abuse and cruelty to obtain authorization of an invading force to take the mainland. Now the hero of the first Grendel War and his opponent pushing a second war amplify the generational divide; their respective actions will cause further schism amongst the humans as the Grendel monsters remain on the mainland that the colonists desire.

The story line starts slow with the Star Born debating what to do about their increasingly feeble parents, but that dialogue is what makes the reprint so timely; due to the false accusations that health care reform includes death squads from those hypocrites who until recently fully supported end of life counseling. The storyline accelerates when Aaron and to a lesser degree Cadmann take control of the plot. The Grendels are a much more fascinating species than they were portrayed in THE LEGACY OF HEOROT; especially with the improbable climax. Still fans will enjoy this social commentary in space that seems as apropos as it was in 1995 when health care reform was debated.

The Prince Of Frogs
Annaliese Evans
9780765361677 $6.99

In 1750 in the Kingdom of Myrdrean, after kicking the butt of an ogre mob (see NIGHT ROSE) Rosemarie is happily married to the vampire Lord Gareth. Still in spite of her marital bliss, she misses her dear friend and long time Fey de la Nuit partner and advisor for the past century fey Ambrose Minuit. Through her dreams however Mother demands she kill her spouse.

Recently, though she loves her mate and misses her best friend, Rosemarie still waits for the happily ever after while knowing she should have known better having been awakened from a century nap without the required kiss. She knows her spouse is hiding something from her and she wants to know what it is. Gareth wants to tell but cannot as he still hopes it will go away although he knows deep in his heart it will not leave unless he and all he loves especially his cherished Rosemarie are dead.

The continual adventures of Rosemarie is a charming historical romantic fantasy as Gareth tries to protect Rosemarie from his past, but like many males (vampire, human or otherwise) fails to understand the courage and obsessive need to get involved with his mate. He should have known better that Rosemarie by her nature (of being a female and not just a Fey de la Nuit) would get into the middle of the action; all he had to do was ask the ogre crowd. Fans will appreciate Annaliese Evans' lighthearted Georgian era frolic as Rose has to kick butt of his bloodline heritage if the newlyweds are to stay wedded (and alive) as it takes a woman to do the ancestral cleansing.

The Phoenix Transformed
Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
9780765315953 $27.99

Once Harrier Gillain and Tiercel Rolfort thought they would spend their entire lives in Armerthalieh, but that was prior to the latter receiving the power of high magic and visions of the Dark returning. Harrier had doubts about his best friend's sanity, but not since their trek into the Elven lands where they learn that Tiercel was chosen by the Light to fight the Dark. Harrier leaves the lands of the elves a Knight-Mage.

Wildmage Bisochim believes the Dark must enter the world to bring balance. Through experiments, he creates the body of a woman imprisons the dark demon Aharin, released from the dimensional prison where her fellow demons reside. Her goal is to find a mage and create a new race of demons and release her fellow demons where she was imprisoned. Bisoschim used the trust of the Isvaieni trines of the Isva desert to kill the people in the border cities because he believed falsely they have given themselves over to the Dark thus creating the Unbalance. Once he realized he was manipulated by Aharin, he repents and does all he can to save the tribes with the help of Harrier and Tiercel. They travel the land seeking the demon in order to prove to the armies that demons walks the earth again. Aharin sends her walking dead Isvaieni, goblins and other magical beasts to destroy the Isvaieni .Harrier and Tiercel use their power to try and stop her and prevent the dark from coming bacl.

THE PHOENIX TRANSFORMED is an exciting sword and sorcery epic which will remind the audience of the Jews in Exodus as the Isvaieni tribes roam the desert hoping to find the way home by defeating the Dark. Harrier and Tierce are great characters and buddies who have matured considerably since THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED and THE PHOENIX ENDANGERED; each understands they may die for the better good. Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory provide adult and teen readers a strong epic fantasy. That is enthralling and a joy to read.

Ken Scholes
9780765321282 $25.99

Nine months have passed since the Y'Zirite cult destroyed Wendwir and its library containing the known knowledge of the Old World (see LAMENTATION). Now the allies who fought bravely back then have gathered for a joyous occasion at Ninefold Forest. They have come to bestow honor and their support to Gypsy King General Rudolfo and his wife Jin Li Tam as she gives birth to his heir Jakob.

However, that same Y'Zirite cult continues its reading of the Crimson Empress prophecy in which they execute the needed pre-events. Thus an invisible horde of assassins enters the gala hall and begin killing the attendees. Civil war continues to spread across the Named Lands while at the Keeper's Gate a message arrives from the Churning Waste for the Hidden Pope. All this explodes as Rodolfo and Jin seek a miracle for their ailing newborn while the Y'Zirite Cult declares Jakob is the Child of Promise. To her chagrin while feeling alone and overwhelmed since her beloved prophetic dreamer Neb of Wendwir entered the Churning Wastes and she learned that the growing powerful Y'Zirite killed her Shadow Hanric, the Marsh Queen Winters knows the origin of the cult, which adds to her fear of doom.

The second Psalms of Isaak, CANTICLE, is an action-packed fantasy that grips readers with the opening attack and never loosens its hold until the Watcher places down his pen on the unfinished page. The characterizations are amazingly strong as the audience will understand the flaws and especially the trepidations of several key players. Ken Scholes is two for two with this exciting saga as his realm seems genuine and his cast real; all this with complete adventures and setting up the next tome.

Black Guard
Hideyuki Kikuchi
Tor/Seven Seas
9780765323309 $9.99

For centuries demons have crossed over from another dimension into the mortal plane; their motives vary with some seeking employment opportunities while others enjoy dining on the human delicacy. The Peace Treaty has been signed between both sides' leaders, but every century it comes up for renewal with the time now for the latest pact. However, on the Black World demonic side, opposition has grown with the desire to overwhelm the mortals and a key assassination plot has been deployed.

In Tokyo, the Black Guard continues their vigil to insure both sides behave and prevent chaos. Guard member Renzaburo Taki can change matter and is teamed with lovely demon Makie who fight against rogues mostly from her home dimension in order to keep mankind safe. Their current assignment is to keep sorcerer Giuseppe Mayart safe as he arrives in Tokyo for the peace treaty gala. Mayart executes a devious scheme starting with sending his protective guards Taki and Makie away from him so he can begin his Machiavellian plan.

With a comic book feel to the exciting story line, fans of urban fantasy horror thrillers will relish this gory enjoyable tale from the author of Vampire Hunter D. The story line is fast-paced as seemingly everyone involved with the "Signing Ceremony" has a personal agenda. Enhanced by black and white illustrations by Ayami Kojima, the first Wicked City saga is a thrilling dark entry.

Jumper Cable
Piers Anthony
9780765323514 $24.99

A narrative hook drops the spider Jumper from one scene into another where meets a woodwife named Wenda (a woman made of wood with no back) who wants to be made flesh. They find a prophecy on Jumper's carapace and decide to go to the Magician Humphrey to find out what it means. The pair also hopes that Humphrey returns Jumper to his scene and makes Wenda flesh and blood. Along the way they meet Maeve the Maenad who is avoiding the stork because she doesn't want an infant. She decides to join them to see if Humphrey can get the stork to stop delivering her package.

Haughty Harpy meets the travelers and tells them that at night she turns into Hottie Harpy. She decides to join them to see if the magician can help her. Two more ladies join the troupe; Phaedra, who can turn into a host who is being stalked by Genghis the ghost and Olive Huie who has no friends; the former wants the stalking stopped and the latter wants a friend. When the group breaches the magician's castle, Humphrey tells them he will give them what they want if they fix the broken cable that connects Mundania's Internet to Xanth's Outernet. They have plenty of enemies who want to stop them for various reasons.

Thirty three punster fantasy quests later, Xanth remains alive as if Chameleon was still seeking a spell. The hero is an innocent spider who learns to play and work with humans as he and the women march across some familiar locales and a several new spots on their misadventures. There is plenty of romance and action even with the typical thin plot as JUMPER CABLE is a fun lighthearted frolic.

Laura E. Reeve
9780451462985 $7.99

Everyone who knows of Armed Forces Consortium of Autonomous Worlds (AFCAW) Reserve Major N-pilot Ariane Kedros besides her partner Matthew Journey sees her differently. The Terran Exploration League (TEL) believes the Aether Exploration pilot is a war criminal who needs execution for the murder of billions in one of their solar systems (see PEACEKEEPER); her side the Autominists believes her to be a war hero. Although she did her duty she agrees with the Terrans that she deserves to die, but refuses to surrender to them.

Someone with obvious insider help, strong connections and capital steals a temporal distortion bomb at the same time that tension mounts between the Autominists and the Terrans. The AFCAW directs Kedros and Journey to fly Master Sergeant Joyce to G-145, an enigmatic orb that seems in the middle of nowhere yet has drawn strong attention from both sides of the hostile Cold War and the unknown alien Minoans. As Kedros arrives with her human CAW cargo, the terrorists who stole the bomb also have come to this remote planet with plans to ignite it on G-145 as their leader has vengeance and justice in mind for past crimes.

This exciting military science fiction thriller obviously stars Kedros who is overloaded with guilt because she knows she can never make right what she did though her side of the hostilities appreciates her following orders; an interesting ethical dilemma that remains valid in real life. However, although Kedros is the attraction, the fast-paced story line works because of the multiple differing viewpoints re right and wrong between species and within a species. VIGILANTE is a strong action-packed sequel to the exciting PEACEKEEPER; driven to hyperspeed by a deep characterization who make the Reeve universe feel genuine.

Hunting Memories
Barb Hendee
9780451462916 $15.00

Just a few centuries ago, the vampires had rules that let them go undetected by humans and the most important one was to drink mortal blood without killing the source. The blood diner would use hypnotic telepathy to erase all memories of the encounter. The second rule is that a vampire could not create more than one vampire per century. When the powerful Angelo created three sons in one century; two of whom were flawed. One of the offspring Julian Ashton had no psychic powers and his blood meals brought attention to himself that led to vampires wanting him euthanized. Instead he killed the psychic vampiric rivals; which violated vampire rules.

Julian created Eleisha Clevon, but her psychic skills manifested on their own thanks to the mortal telepath Wade. She fought her sire and won forcing Julian to flee to his Cliffbracken in Wales with his tail between his legs. Eleisha and another vampire Rose de Spenser exchange letters about forming an underground vampire movement for vamps hiding from Julian. He learns of their plot and comes to the United Sates to stop Robert, an elder who knows the rules, unlike the made vampires of today from making contact with his enemies. He intends to kill Robert and anyone else in his way; however his opponents are gaining in strength, resolution, and conviction as they plant to take him down.

This sequel to BLOOD VAMPIRES is an enjoyable and creative (not just of new vampires) cocktail cleverly blending urban fantasy mixed with strong horror elements. Eleisha is teaching Phillip how to drink blood without killing the prey; he, the son of Angelo would do anything to keep her safe because she gave him a reason to live. HUNTING MEMORIES is a thriller of a vampire tale as Julian is coming to take care of his enemies.

Tie Me Down
Tracy Wolff
9780451227881 $15.00

After eleven years on the force, New Orleans homicide investigator Genevieve Delacroix still puts on a facade of kicking butt as the only female in the unit. She conceals from everyone especially the testosterone filled homicide squad her secret sexual fantasies. Her current case involves the brutal rape and murder of a teenage Tulane student that she ties to two other similar gruesome homicides.

Cole Adams wants Genevieve to reopen the investigation into the cold case ugly murder of his sister Samantha several years ago. He also begins a documentary on sex and violence. However, from the moment he sees Genevieve in person, his objectives change as he needs to have sex with her. Feeling like a teenager, Cole soon discovers Genevieve's secret fantasy, but as he ignites her passion, the French Quarter serial rapist-killer targets the only female homicide detective in town.

Although the serial killer subplot is loaded with intrigue, twists, and a terrific climax, it is typical of the sub-genre. However, the light BDSM brings freshness to the lead couple as each enjoys their little spanking TIE ME DOWN games. Tracy Wolff provides an engaging erotic police procedural romance filled with suspense and sex.

The Dragon House
John Shors
9780451227850 $15.00

In Chicago, Iris Rhodes has lived a comfortable life taking no chances until her dad dies. He was a Vietnam veteran who never got over the atrocities he did and witnessed so stayed away for the most part from his family out of fear of his rage. Before he died he was working on his redemption by fostering a center in Ho Chi Minh City for Vietnamese street children.

Iris promised her dad she would finish his dream. She and her friend Iraqi war veteran Noah Woods, who lost a leg in combat, head to Vietnam where his mom hopes her son can finally get past his mental anguish. In country, the visiting Americans are shocked with how many people live on the streets, especially the young. The task seems daunting but when they meet Mai and one armed Minh, who make change selling items to tourists, Iris knows she has found her niche. Neither of them knows what to do about addict Loc, who threatens the kids. Then there is grandma Qui who carries her leukemia ailing granddaughter Tam on her back while selling old books to buy treatment for her beloved. At the center they meet her dad's assistant, who is getting the place ready.

This is a gripping character driven thriller that hooks the audience from the onset with the profound look at the cost of war even one that ended over three decades ago. The cast is super as Iris and Noah meet the faces of hostilities in Nam like Qui who is desperate sells books so her beloved Tam can get medical treatment only by the time she has the money it is too late. Iris understands though she lives a comfortable middle class existence as her late dad never was the same after his time in Viet Nam while her friend Noah likewise has not been the same after his stint in the desert. This is a great tale that makes a strong argument that the battles continue years after the fighting ended.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Larsen's Bookshelf

African American World War Ii Casualties and Decorations In the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine: A Comprehensive Record
Glenn A. Knobloch
McFarland & Company, Inc.
Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina, 28640
9780786434732 $65.00 800-253-2187

African American World War II Casualties and Decorations in the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine is a comprehensive record of the 2,445 African American men who were killed, wounded and/or decorated while serving as a member of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine during World War II.

Between the covers of this fine book there is a wealth of information. It is a masterpiece of research and organization, with succinct biographies of each man and a short history of each ship on which they served.

The 17-page index identifying the ships and each of the men gets the reader to the right page quickly.

Author and lecturer Glen A. Knoblock was also top military contributor to the Harvard/Oxford University Press' eight-volume African American National Biography and author of Strong and Brave Fellows, New Hampshire's Black Soldiers and Sailors in the American Revolution, 1775/1784 (2003), and Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940/1975 (2005).

He lives in Wolfeboro Falls, New Hampshire.

Richard Bong
World War II Flying Ace
Badger Biography series
Pete Barnes
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
9780870204340 $12.95

Written for the juvenile market, Pete Barnes has found an outstanding young man to write about. Richard Bong was born in 1920, in Popular, Wisconsin (northeastern Douglas County,). He graduated from high school in 1938 and attended Superior State College for two years so he would have enough college time to join the army flight program and become a pilot. That is what Dick Bong wanted to do -- be the best pilot and fly the fastest fighter planes. He was credited with 40 Japanese aircraft shot down between December 1942 and December 1944 over New Guinea skies. He was then ordered home, presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. He flew in America's most unusual fighter, the two motored P-38 Lockheed Lightening.

Bong was married in Superior while on leave in February 1945 to Marge Vattendahl. The American "Ace of Aces" died while testing F-80 jet fighter in California, a month and a half short Richard Bong's 25th birthday. The date was August 6, 1945, the same day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

This is the 12th book of the series of Badger Biographies and a fine addition to the collection.

Pete Barnes nicely adapts to the World War II era and makes for a fine read and a good teaching guide.

War Wanderings
Lynn Olson
Self Published
4607 Claussen Lane, Valparaiso, IN 46383-1526
9780960557601 $20.00 219-464-1792

"War Wanderings" is Lynn Olson's recollection of 300 days of combat with the 334th Infantry Regiment in the latter days of the European war from August 1944 through May 1945. It is an honest look into the thoughts and actions of a young American soldier, living out of doors in one of Europe's coldest winters, and facing the very dangerous, retreating German army.

Our greatest source for the future historian is memoirs like "War Wanderings," an outstanding narrative. Lynn has a wonderful memory, and turns phrases well. I can sense the immediacy; feel the cold weather, a safe spot to bed down, scrounging for some food to eat, someone to talk to, and above all an end to the combat.

You will notice that this narrative has been privately printed. You likely will not find this in bookstores. Please contact the author by mail and thank him for his service and buy his book.

I think often of this generation of Americans -- my father's generation.

Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862
O. Edward Cuningham
Gary D. Joiner and Timothy B. Smith, Editors
Savas Beatie
P. O Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
Casemate Publishing
1016 Warrior Road, Suite C, Drexell Hill, PA 19026
9781932714340 $22.95

You get a real bang for your buck with the publication of Edward Cunningham's deeply researched study of the 1862 Western Campaign. One gets a real sense of the importance of the Campaign and puts into prospective the unexpected Northern victory at Shiloh Church, Pittsburg Landing, April 7, 1862.

The action unfolds, giving equal time to the competing armies. You can almost smell the Spring dampness and shake with nervous anticipation as the untested men await the action which, we discover affects the outcome of the Civil war. The action ends at Corinth, Mississippi, according to Ambrose Bierce, "the capitol of a swamp" by the end of May 1862. But the escape of Beauregard's troops meant the war would not end soon, and it didn't.

Richard N. Larsen
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Ramdas: The One-Eyed Turtle
Robert A Goerman & Dinesh Patel, authors
Kiran Yalamanchi, illustrator
Closson Press
257 Delilah St. Apollo, PA 15613-1933
9781558565050, $16.95

"Ramdas: The One-Eyed Turtle" is a mystical fable of strength and hope and adversity, teaching that "Fear is darkness. Faith is light. Anger is weakness. Love is might (p. 45)." Ramdas and his beloved wife Vasuki face incredible obstacles in their daily struggle for survival. From Stilts, the Blue Heron to Gago the Forgiven (a king bullfrog), the uncertainty of day to day life for the turtles is everywhere. Even being picked up by a grey-bearded Taker who tries to make turtle soup out of Ramdas and Vasuki does not destroy the sure faith of Ramdas. Wonderful events commingle and conspire and Ramdas and Vasuki actually live to see their three hatchilings enjoy free heron flying-rides in the beak of Stilts, who is deeply touched by the faith of Ramdas, the small turtle who swam up to him and whispered "I forgive you," when he tried to eat him (but did not swallow him because he tasted bad!). One of the most profound sayings of Ramdas to Stilts is:"Each of us is like a leaf floating on the river of time... The leaf can never swim back upstream to change what has already happened. The leaf can never race downstream to learn what the future holds. Leaves can only drift along as the current carries them. We make our choices forever in the now (p. 21)." Delicate pen and ink illustrations complement the gentle story. "Ramdas: The One-Eyed Turtle" is a book meant to be cherished by kids and adults of all ages. Its unusual, profound pacifism permeates its pages.

Where's Elvis? and many others...
Xavier Waterkeyn, author
Daniel Lalic, illustrator
New Holland Publishers
1/66 Gibbes Street, Chatswood NSW 2067 Australia
9781741107029, $12.95,

"Where's Elvis? and many others..." is an adult fun book for Elvis sighters and dead celebrity stalkers in general. Huge illustrated two page panels of historic "events" such as "The Day the Music 'Died', Field in Clear Lake, Iowa, February 3, 1959, or Panel 4 On the set of the film 'Paradise Hawaiian Style', August 18, 1965, or even panel 12 New Year's Day Party at Elvis' TOP SECRET LAIR ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, December 31, 2009. Now the secret twist to all these packed panels of miniature celebrity caricatures, is that if you hunt and review the checklists on the last two pages, you will spot many deceased celebrities attending each event. "Where's Elvis? " is a curiosity adult book that will appeal to boomers and others who track the supposedly deceased celebrities of the past five or six decades.

Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy
Martine Groeneveld, author
Brad Kunkle, artist
PT Book Publishing
21277 Entrada Road, Topanga, CA 90290
9780982295908, $19.95,

"Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy: Rhymes, Songs and Touch-Play Activities to Stay Connected" is a beautiful series of quiet time stories for young children that contain gentle massage instructions for the parent to draw different shapes on the child who can then guess the shapes as the story progresses. Faintly luminous paintings delicately interface with the story suggestions. "Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy" is a wonderful way for parents to nurture their children with magical, loving touch. Stories and suggested activities are interlaced with tips and hlepful quotations, such as: "A child's first emotional bonds are built from physical contact, laying the foundation for further emotional and intellectual development (Tiffany Field, Ph.D., 'Touch')." Author Martine Groeneveld is a trained massage therapist and registered nurse. Her creative ideas about using quiet touch routines and games and rhymes to encourage closeness, bonding, self definition, and confident growth are embraced by parents and child development experts. Following her specific tips that go along with each story and description of strokes will lead to great support of the child's total development "Mommy, Draw Stars on My Tummy" is recommended as a great gift for new parents, or any parent of a small child.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Heartland Sonnets
Steven Higgins
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781449000035 $19.99

It can take a long time to find oneself. "Heartland Sonnets" is a collection of poetry from Steven Higgins as he draws upon the inspiration he had over two years when he was trying to find himself. In sonnet form, "Heartland Sonnets" will give readers who cherish that format something to enjoy, making it a recommended read. "Tender Barkeep": A good memory that she has of me/A matron to care for children of age/As if they her own and she a wise sage/With the strength to raise her own family

The Plant, Oh! Quality Where Art Thou
Richard L. Hamilton
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439240298 $20.99

GM wasn't always a company in need of bailout. "The Plant: Oh! Quality Where Art Thou" tells the story of General Motors and the company's roots as told by one of its lifelong employees who gained high standing in the corporation before his retirement, and what led to its current crisis. Blending fiction with his business memoir, he uses a character of Tom Luggs to tell the story of GM for an intriguing and topical read. "The Plant!" is well worth considering for those who want to best understand the company's problems from an employee's perspective.

Dead Man's Plan
Lee A. Eide
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781441523211 $19.99

What going into the challenge of a duel? "Dead Man's Plan" follows the story of Lee Wyatt and the events that lead him to challenge actor Ricky Mann to a duel with pistols public. Searching for a new life, Wyatt found one in South Dakota and found himself enjoying his newfound place. But when Mann backs out of a deal to help the town, Wyatt does something that just may cost him his life. "Dead Man's Plan" is a unique and fascinating read, and quite entertaining.

The Preacher
Jon Hovis
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741455498 $12.95

When your nemesis is the entire Union, a taste for revenge is insatiable. "The Preacher" is a classic western story following a U.S. Marshal by the name of Jake Silver as he has to stop an assassin and his network of criminals from compromising the already chaotic old west. "The Preacher" is a simply entertaining read that should not be missed by western fans.

The Greatest Comeback Ever
Paul Keck
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439200742 $13.99

When no one expects you to win, you can do nothing but impress. "The Greatest Comeback Ever: A Fan's Daily Diary of the 1978 New York Yankees Championship Season" tells the story of the Yankee's historic 1978 season through the eyes of a fan. Raw emotions and patriotism for his team is shown presenting history that is usually devoid of either. For Yankee fans who want to look back and be nostalgic, "The Greatest Comeback Ever" serves its purpose well.

Last Flight Out
S. J. Miller
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436396424 $15.99

Dual lives are not all that uncommon. "Last Flight Out" follows Danielle, an aspiring career woman who finds herself rooted in the criminal underworld of Chicago as she tries to push her legitimate career further. An unwilling participant, Danielle looks for anyway out she can while retaining her own career and most importantly her life. "Last Flight Out" is an enjoyable read of being a professional woman faced with the corrupt.

The Whole Universe Book
Richard S. Omura
Omra Infinite
12910 Walsh Ave. #5, Los Angeles, CA 90066
9780578012094 $19.95

For there to be a more complete understanding, one has to evaluate everything. "The Whole Universe Book: Navigating Time, Space, and Spirit with the Awesome Human Vehicle" is Richard Omura presenting his view of how the universe is, considering faith and philosophy and other concepts into his discussion. Intriguing and thought provoking, "The Whole Universe Book" is a top choice for metaphysical studies readers.

A Boy at the Four Corners
Bernard Ryan, Jr.
Privately Published
9781441426574 $11.95

A Boy at the Four Corners: Looking into Small-Town America in its Prime is the true-life memoir of author Bernard Ryan, Jr., evoking vivid images of four "downtown" village business blocks in the 1920's and 30's. From visits by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt (and a historical viewpoint of FDR's political path to the white house), to the alleged health detriments of spitting, to befriending a puppy that is nursed back to health only to be hit by a speeding car, "A Boy at the Four Corners" is an up-close and personal testimony of pre-World War II small town life, and a pleasure to read from cover to cover.

Studies: Joint Memories
Margaret Schuyler Sternbergh
Ariel S. Compton-Cruce
c/o Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781436396110 $29.99

Some of the most treasured poetry works in American culture were dug up posthumously. "Studies: Joint Memories' is a collection of poetry from Margaret Schuyler Sternbergh, published decades after her death in her honor. A work of nearly a century of life, her poems ring out true and drip with experience. "Studies" is a fine collection with much to be enjoyed for poetry lovers. "Out of this Moment": Out of the moment you might take/Rubies, saphhire, pearls beyond price,/Just for the miracle of faith,/Pure and undefiled as the hour/When rain slips down the heavens/Like the mercy of God that it is,/Out of this moment you might take/A joy and beauty that only you can make.

Lasting Impressions
Yanique Beliard Michel
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
9781425166946 $20.00 1-888-232-4444

The 60s were a simple time for no one. "Lasting Impressions" speaks of the impression left on one Fritz Jean Lucas, an Arabic man who finds himself in Haiti. When he finds love, he quickly finds himself torn between his Arabic traditions and the changing times and era of free love of the 1960s. "Lasting Impression" is a fine literary fiction read that will entertain as well make readers understand what some people faced in this era.

Religions of Man
Charles Douglas Greer
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438908311 $19.98

Faith may be one of the few things instinctual to humanity. "Religions of Man: Facts, Fibs, Fears, and Fables" is a reference discussing hundreds of religions and religious terms, as author Charles Douglas Greer brings the work of his fanaticism and obsession with religions as he spills his knowledge out for all to read. For anyone with a wide interest in the faiths of the world, "Religions of Man" is an entertaining and intriguing read.

Murder of an African King: Ya-Na Yakubu II
Ibrahim Mahama
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, NY, NY 10016
9780533159369 $12.95

Sometimes there is no justice. "Murder of an African King: Ya-Na Yakubu II" tells the story of the Abudu and Andani families of Ghana, the two royal families that have ruled on a rotational system for centuries. When one family broke the agreement, chaos ensued and Ibrahim Mahama explains a political landscape that's commonly ignored by western readers. Intriguing and informative on another piece of the world's political pie, "Murder of an African King" is a highly recommended pick.

For the Love of Art
Roma Bogard
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438973784 $37.49

Art is not a science; art comes in many forms with no real objectivity involved. "For the Love of Art: A Collection of Artistic Inspiration" is Roma Bogard's presentation of many forms of art, hoping to further explain them so that readers can understand them, and in the process gain an enjoyment and appreciation out of them. Drawing upon many senior women for examples, she displays their work as examples. "For the Love of Art" is an introductory to the world of more abstract arts, sure to pique the interest of many.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

West End Murders
Roy Innes
NeWest Press, 201-8540-109 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1E6
9781897126271 $12.95

Roy Innes grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. He completed his M.D. at the University of British Columbia, specializing in eye surgery. After a successful career in that area, he attended the Humber School for Writers, and ended up publishing the novel he wrote during his course work. He enjoys off-roading in his Toyota Land Cruiser and touring on his motorcycle.

It is a distinct pleasure to review Roy Innes' second novel. His writing produces book that one does not want to ever end. This is particularly true of his second novel, WEST END MURDERS. Inspector Coswell and RCMP Corporal Paul Blakemore once again team up in this eerie whodunit. The relatively crime-free city of Vancouver isn't used to a serial killer. So when prominent gay men are found murdered, one after the other, it at first seems like a hate crime. But Inspector Coswell, a wise and savvy RCMP official, isn't fooled. He smells conspiracy when his lesser cohorts think the crime has been solved with the killing of two men caught at the border. He enlists the aid of some higher ups, which causes a bit of consternation in the ranks:

"It was Jane, Chief Inspector Ward's secretary, who notified Coswell, 'What have you done now?' She whispered into the phone. The Chief Inspector is livid. He's ranting about being kept in the dark and getting ready to have your head on a platter. You'd better get your story straight fast because you're to meet with him and the Mayor in the Mayor's office in thirty minutes. Good luck. It's been nice knowing you.' She hung up before he could ask if Gillings would be there."

Plot, characterization, and action are major components of this well-written mystery, but Roy Innes manages to infuse his book with something else that is hard to define. Perhaps it's the intelligence of a senior officer's point-of-view and experience that lend the story a high degree of credibility. Innes adds a little luxury to the surroundings. He obviously likes a good glass of wine, and his Inspector Coswell likes to play a sort of mental hooky with a great meal in a fine restaurant. But that's about all he allows himself, before he charges back into action, confounding his underlings. A great read indeed!

The Wolf Path
Judith Van Gieson
ABQ Press
300 Los Ranchos Road, Albuquerque, N.M. 87107
0977416119 $14.95

Judith Van Gieson is a multi-faceted personality, having started her own publishing company; authored a children's book; a collection of poetry and short stories; and thirteen mysteries. Her first series of eight mysteries features Neil Hamel, an Albuquerque lawyer, and the second series centers around Claire Reynier, an archivist and librarian at the University of Mexico. Van Gieson's mysteries revolve around environmental issues and artifacts. Her books have garnered high praise and awards, including the Zia Award for Best Work of Fiction by a New Mexico woman.

THE WOLF PATH, published in 2006, is the fourth Neil Hamel mystery. As the name implies, it centers on the plight of the Mexican gray wolf. As usual, man is its worst predator, and ranchers in particular want this beautiful creature banished from their lands because it feeds on cattle. Neil is entrusted with a legal case by a friend. An ex-con with bad judgment and a gullible heart is taking his gray wolf around to communities in an effort to educate a skeptical public. He isn't welcome, and every attempt is made to stymie his efforts, including falsely accusing him of a murder. Neil sees no alternative but to swing into action to save her client from an unforgiving New Mexican culture:

"There are some pervasive fantasies in this country. One, that wars win something. Two, that guns don't kill people. Three, that everyone deserves his or her day in court and when that day comes the case will be presented by a brilliant, committed lawyer, that a lifetime of wrongs will be vindicated by a wise judge and a sympathetic jury. The truth is litigation is largely a boring, time-consuming, expensive crapshoot. Juan had been through the process and had already lost once. What made him think he would win this time? The quality of his legal representation? His belief in his innocence? Ego? Romance?"

Van Gieson scores another hit with this psychological and poetic mystery. Not only does she manage to educate the masses regarding the possible extinction of the Mexican gray wolf, but she creates the beautiful New Mexican landscape in every page. Neil Hamel is at her most heroic and intelligent, and the plot completely satisfies.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Light & The Dark Ember Between
J.W. Nicklaus
American Book Publishing
5442 So. 900 East #146, Salt Lake City, UT 84117
978158982505 $12.95

I enjoy having short story books around. To me reading is a form of relaxing and when time is not abundant, it's nice to know I have a book that will give me a few minutes of relaxing. In this work by author, J.W. Nicklaus, I was able to enjoy stories that were quick to read, yet left me fulfilled.

Some of the stories made me smile, others had me pondering and still others stirred the emotion of sorrow, but isn't that the mark of a good writer, to touch upon our very spirit with their words. This is not easily done, especially in short works, but our author has succeeded in this.

I really don't have a favorite story, although like others, Paper Doll, was quite touching and stayed with me. Could it be we may all have someone in our past that we would like to have reenter our present? Perhaps this is the secret of these stories, they touch on hidden emotions, forgotten experiences or people that are somehow part of our lives, that are somehow awakened as we read the stories. Unfortunately I do know some characters like those written into "Short Attention Span." Perhaps not to the extreme that Mr. TV went but fearfully heading that way.

All in all this was a really great collection of stories, touches many emotions, and yes stirring love in one way or another, as was the authors intent. I liked this book. It is definitely one that I am happy to recommend to others. Enjoy!

Strange But True America: Weird Tales From All 50 States
John Hafnor
Dale Crawford, illustrator
Lone Pine Productions
3116 W Country Road 38E, Fort Collins, CO 80526
9780964817555 $16.95

Let me state right off, this is the most informative, interesting book I have read so far this year, and I mean that. In this wonderful read we are given trivia and history that is not usually known by many covering our 50 states. I was totally amazed at what I read and began to share it with everyone in my household. Of course then I had to battle to get the book back to continue my read. Go figure!

Since I live in the state of Florida I wanted to read what was written about my state first. I never knew that several hours away from me there was found an entire civilization buried, one dating over 7,000 years ago. This story was amazing, one I can't wait to share with other Floridians, whom I am sure do not know that fact either.

Besides finding out fun facts about each of our states, events and people relating to the states, the author has dedicated an entire section to what he calls, "Thumbing Through America's Weird Past." Here you will find interesting facts such as: Why JFK should not have received a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage. Why Florida really should be called " The Partly Cloudy State," and which states truly have earned the title of "The Sunshine State." And how about finding out how many times Doomsday almost hit America and the where and how's of how it almost happened and what stopped it. Exceptional!

I'm telling you, young and old will be absolutely absorbed in this book. Besides all the information we have top-notch illustrations that definitely help you to envision what you are reading. Here is a book that will hold your interest from beginning to end and will give you hours of fun, useful information that everyone is sure to find astounding. You will say over and over again, I never knew that, Why, that's amazing! Who would have ever known! Truly It is a book like none other, written in a lighthearted interesting way, it is a true treasure of a read, and well worth your consideration. I give it my highest recommendation. Well done!

Passing It On
F. Barton Davis
Magi Media Publications
P.O. box 332, Pelham AL 35124
9780981950228 $12.95

In this insightful book by author, F. Barton Davis, we are shown the importance of disciplining as Christians. Wait! Don't run away scared, it isn't as bad as you think. Our author takes us on a journey, one that every believer takes, but often takes alone. He shows us the importance of taking a new Christian by the hand and helping them walk with the Lord for the first 52 weeks of their new life. Being a church leader I have mentored many but the fact is not that many others have been willing to come up to the plate and help out, and its time they did.

Our author gives some much needed practical advise on how to mentor without feeling as if you are taking on a burden you are not able to bear. He speaks to you from the heart in the first section of his book and than clearly maps out some great teaching lessons to share with others such as: The Lord's Supper, Forgiveness, and The Miracle of Prayer, just to name a few. He includes Scriptures, sub-topics and questions to discuss that will cause those you are helping to grow understand their Christian walk in a deeper way.

I recommend this book and hope that those in the ministry will take the time to check it out. It certainly would be an asset to any congregation that wishes to take the young converts under their wing and help them fly. And as this work points out, that is exactly what they need to be doing.
Thank you, Mr. Davis, for a wake-up call and a work that will help many to soar as the Eagles God intended them to be.

Somewhere Between Books & Beer
Jennifer Drieves
0744302660 $7.95

In this read our author gives us many short stories. Tales of life that many may have experienced, and sighed in recognication as they read, and others that most of us hope we never will experience. Her stories are broken down into categories, to name a few:

Getting To Know You, The Art of the Hookup, After the First Kiss, and Fellas, It's Not Just You.

Under each category are short stories of happenings in relationships between men and women. There is also a footnote at the end of each with a line or two of advise. Cute!

Our author brings out areas where women and at times men have problems and gives you some down-right great stories.

Take the story of Meg who was an engineer, and upon talking with a man was unable to convince him that she was capable of being one. Talk about writing truths that many women live through, this one is classic.

There were also some stories that made me giggle, like, A Transformation. Ah! What do you think happens when a young man working in a science lab begins to eat the experiment? Too funny.

I enjoyed this read. It was a quick read, yet fun and entertaining, and full of some helpful tips and bewares that every reader may well benefit from in one way or another! Nice job.

SpongeBob Squarepants Undersea Party
Reader's Digest
Pleasantville, New York
Har/Toy Edition
9780794418823 $14.95

My granddaughter, who is now eight, has grownup watching Sponge Bob so I thought this would be a great book to share with her. The cover is bright and cheerful and drawing, inside you will find ten short stories based on episodes of SpongeBob, with a few illustrations for each.

Included with the book is a voice changer that will allow your child to alter their voice. The book is set up with icons throughout the different stories for use of this devise. We took turns changing our voices trying to sound like Sponge and the other characters in the book.

If your child is a SpongeBob fan they will enjoy this book. It is in a way a keepsake of memories of episodes that they have watched and enjoyed. Cute book and you will find the children using the voice changer throughout the day in many games that they make up, so that is a plus. Enjoyable for children and a great way to share a few moments with your child.

Think and Make It Happen
Dr. Augusto Cury
Thomas Nelson Publishing
Nashville, Tenn.
9780785227816 $22.99

I was interested in reading this book because I am a firm believer that thinking positive can definitely bring better results in our life. Dr. Cury is a man who has been in the business of learning how to understand the workings of our mind for a long time. He definitely knows his business. In his own words he says that most of us have estranged ourselves from our internal identity. We have isolate ourselves and have not exercised and developed the potential of our minds. True, so ture and interesting indeed!

In this work, Dr. Cury, shows you how to train, if you will, your mind. His words show how to bring thoughts captive, dismiss negative thoughts and my favorite write your own life story. We don't have to live a unproductive life. Good news!

He explains that we can all direct our thoughts to more positive things. We don't need to dwell on outcomes that are destructive, and he tells why.

I enjoyed the way that he used Jesus as an example in his writings. Jesus knew how to take thoughts captive. He knew when to express Himself, and when to be quiet, and the doctor shares that in his writings. Jesus was aware of the power of our thought-life and how our thoughts effected our lives. I believe that many who have read this book did not fully understand why Dr. Cury used Jesus as an example. Jesus actually is about the best example he could use in this area to help us understand how to achieve success . Well done!

In this book you will learn how to utilize your mind to help you have a better life. You will learn how to control emotional ups and downs and keep your thoughts focused on the positive. I liked this book and feel it will be a help especially to the spiritual side of many.

Journal of The Unknown Prophet
Wendy Alex
Warboys Media & Arrow Publications
9780955237713 $18.00

I am not sure how you truly review a book such as this. How can you put into words the spiritual essence of such, it is mind-boggling. As I began the read my heart also began to reach out to words that were more than words, but were life itself. Our author, Wendy Alex, has been privileged to walk with our Savior and see and hear first-hand His heart in so many areas. In his book she shares the heart of God for you and for me, and for the world we live in.

Sometimes the words that are before you will bring tears to your eyes and sorrow to your heart, as warnings are blow as from a trumpet spraying over you and rippling through your very soul. You silently pray for forgiveness, deliverance and the mercy of a God who is love. Other times your heart will break for the sorrow that our Creator expresses over the struggles of mankind, and yet other times you will rejoice at the kindness, love, and compassion that you feel weaved into His prophetic Words. And yet other times you will be excited for the wonders that await you with Him.

The prophetic words written in this book are 'now 'words. Happenings in our world are bringing the close of mankind swiftly upon us. We need to listen, watch and pray. The words in this book will bring you closer to a God who loves you, cause you to fall on your knees in repentance, and uplift your hands in praise. Sometimes the words seem hard, but they are needed, and there is always the knowledge that there is a God who loves us that we can run to and hold. However, on each page one can find hope, peace and assurance in the security of whom we serve.

My family and I turn to this book time and time again. The words between the pages are for today, they are for tomorrow, and they are for you and me. This is truly a book that has been orchestrated by God Himself and given to those who will accept it.

A book of warnings, a book of the future, a book of hope. Definitely a must have. Thank you Wendy for being open to hear the Words of the Lord for a hurting world.

The Green Green Pear
Manjula Naraynan
Authors House
978148969572 $13.95

Adorable! That would have to be the word that I would use for this book. We meet a green, green pear who just isn't happy with being a green, green pear. What does he do? He makes a wish on a shooting star, not just once but five times. He tastes the life of a cat, a butterfly, a circle and a red apple, but each time he cannot shake the inner knowing that he is a green, green pear.
On his fifth wish he makes the smartest wish he could ever make.

This is a very nice book. The illustrations are very colorful, big and bold. I liked that. The story definitely brings to light to children that trying to be something you are not does not make it so.
Making the best of who you are and loving and enjoying that fact is what is important. A great lesson told in a fun colorful way. Recommended.

Irregular Joe
Nancy S. Ure
Casey L. Gathy, illustrator
0744312042 $7.95

Joe is a member of the Normale' family, a large Italian-American family that believes in tradition, respect and honor. Joe loves his family but does not like his name. You see, everyone in Joe's family is named Joe in one form or another, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephina, cousins, Joely, Joanne, and Jodie, to name a few. It was, after all, a family custom and one unfortunately that young Joe did not like. Why did everyone have to be named Joe, in one way or another? He didn't feel he had any identity of his own, but was merely clumped in with the group. Poor Joe, what is he to do?

As you continue reading this story the author does an excellent job at pulling you into the emotions of young Joe. You fully understand his need for independence and his search for it. Everyone longs to be their own person, don't they? An individual set apart from others?

As Joe confronts this issue he has an awakening and I loved the way the author allowed it. Joe soon realizes that just because you have the same name, in one form or another, as others do, does not mean you are not special in your own right. Author, Nancy S. Ure, truly brings this out in her storyline in a superb way. Easy and fun to read this book will help any child grasp the understanding that they are unique. The illustrations are bright and colorful, active and alive, and truly bring the story to the mind's eye.

A gem of a read that I am pleased to recommend. One that will help every child in their development and bring entertainment and enjoyment at the same time. Very well done.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

C.S. Paul
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432742843, $9.95,

Many find God in their lives as they fall from grace. "Greg" is the story of a man who has fallen far further and has taken his dedication to God further as most. Greg Peters was a man who once was a millionaire, but through financial trouble, he soon found himself helping the homeless in New York every week. "Greg" is an inspiring tale of Christianity, written from an outside perspective and is highly recommended.

7 Steps to Healthy Natural Hair
Michanna Talley
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780615209845, $9.95,

Hair is not something that's the same from person to person. "7 Steps to Healthy Natural Hair: Written for Black Women, by a Black Woman" writes a hair care guide aimed at Black women and the common hair type that black women tend to have. Covering a wide assortment of styles with much advice on achieving certain styles, Michanna Talley comes to readers with plenty of sound advice "7 Steps to Healthy Natural Hair" is a choice pick for black women unsure of how best to care for their hair.

The Red Gate
Richard Sutton
Privately Published
9781441472250, $11.95

One tragedy can be the start of everything. "The Red Gate" chronicles the lives of an Irish family after the death of one of their own. This one tragedy unravels everything for them, and their simple traditional life will never be the same again. "The Red Gate" is an intriguing read of Irish life, highly recommended.

Out of the Village: Overcoming Barriers
Banya Ku'Caya
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432736286 $19.95 1-888-672-6657

It's a hard road to success out of an African Village. "Out of the Village: Overcoming Barriers" is the story of Banya Ku'Caya overcoming the challenges of his homeland to reach relative success. Through his story, he immigrates to America and has his own American dream, becoming an Indiana School teacher. "Out of the Village" is an inspiring and motivating read, highly recommended.

My Life
Oliver Galang
Privately Published
9781442173323 $12.99

Few lives go as planned, and they usually go the way one would least expect. "My Life: Gambling, Strippers, Bankruptcy, Suicide" is a memoir reflecting on his rollercoaster of a life. A simple story that many readers will empathize with and relate to, the story of the everyday common man is one that seems to be one of the more entertaining. "My Life" is worth considering for fans of personal memoirs.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame
Gary Morgenstein
Times Square Press
9781448620500 $16.95

Baseball isn't the first thing one would associate with economic crisis. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is a story that blends America's pastime with America's current time - financial politics. The Buffalo Matadors were one of the worst teams in the league, but when an aspiring millionaire takes over, their fortunes reverse, and the tactics he used will seem oddly familiar to many readers. With a healthy dose of allegory and some not-so-allegory, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is a fun read sure to entertain and make readers think.

Leadership Elements
Mike Mears
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595508426 $25.95

There are elements that make up the world around us, and there are elements that make a good leader. "Leadership Elements" uses a periodic table of elements allegory to help readers understand exactly what one needs to become a good and trusted leader in today's society of business where leadership qualities are invaluable. Outlining each of the elements with real world examples, it's a concept by concept approach to improving one's ability to lead. "Leadership Elements" is of strong consideration for those who want to take charge of their professional life.

The Unveiling
Kristin Decker Publishing
PO Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
Westwind Communications (publicity)
1589399129 $13.95

Saudi Arabia puts up a progressive front, but author Kristin Decker knows they are not that far out of the Middle Ages. "The Unveiling: An American Teacher in a Saudi Palace" relays her story of tutoring a Saudi princess. But through her time in the Middle Eastern things, she had a glimpse of what was really going on, and had to lie to escape the country with her freedom and life. "The Unveiling" tells quite the story of palace intrigue and a government that doesn't match the appearance it tries to project.

Walter Strausack
Toble Editing
PO Box 1482, CH-8700, Kusnacht, Switzerland
9780615273297 $14.99

Laws are not infallible, they can be broken and changed. "Galaxies" is a discussion of metaphysics from Walter Strausack, a man who offers his unique ideas through his work. Arguing that everything we see is not what we think is, that aging is not something that has to happen, among other intriguing ideas. Readers of metaphysical science will find much to enjoy in "Galaxies". Highly recommended.

Frank F. Fiore, Inc.
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781601458063 $17.95

We make computers more in our image, but sometimes that includes the negative qualities too. "Cyberkill: How Far Would an Artificial Intelligence Go for Revenge?" is the story of Travis Cole, and his accidental creation, Dorian. Being a mistake, Travis goes to delete Dorian, but Dorian doesn't go quietly. Dorian develops a vendetta against Travis, and even if she is limited to Cyberspace, she'll do whatever she needs to kill her creator. "Cyberkill" is an intriguing exploration of the limits of AI, making for a fascinating science fiction read.

Escaping Dark Places
E. Lawrence Gibson
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, NY, NY 10016
9780533160600 $25.95

It can be a long journey to accepting who one is. "Escaping Dark Places: An Unconvential Novel of a Turbulent Life and Sexual Conflict" is a novel following Heath MacGregor as he faces his long history and the long list of problems he must face in order to find his peace of mind in life. A story filled with childhood trauma, and through Heath's life, he finds that his best friend who he has relied so much on is more than just a friend. "Escaping Dark Places" is a novel of facing the past, and changing to best put it past you.

Shanghai Remembered
James G. Sanborn Jr.
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161065, $8.95,

The horrors of the Germans are well known, but the horrors of the Japanese were nearly as bad. "Shanghai Remembered: Growing Up in a Japanese Concentration Camp" is the memoir of one of the survivors of a Japanese concentration camp, James G. Sanborn, who later immigrated to America. He tells his story of facing these camps at the age of ten and what he witnessed. "Shanghai Remembered" is quite the image of the atrocity, highly recommended for readers looking for another aspect of World War II history.

Earth's Breath
Susan Hawthorne
Spinifex Press
187675673X, $16.95,

The winds of the planet are ever shifting, never stopping, much like the life that inhabits it. "Earth's Breath" is a collection of verse from Australian poet Susan Hawthorne, using the earth and its chaotic weather system as a general theme to her work. A delightful read that is sure to entertain readers, "Earth's Breath" is a worthwhile addition to any poetry collection. "Shattered Dreams": on our return to Australia/our neighbor says//the trees that are dead/are shattered on the inside//you say, the people that are quiet/are shattered on the inside.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

A Gift of Days
Stephen Alcorn
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9761416967767 $21.99

The society in which we live has been, and continues to be, inspired by visionaries and heroes from all walks of life: activists and artists, athletes and writers, inventors and explorers, healers and politicians, musicians and moguls. Our world's visionaries and heroes challenge assumptions, push boundaries, and inspire the ordinary to become extraordinary, thereby shaping our world each and every day. Starting with January 1 and arranged by birth date, "A Gift of Days" highlights the words and ideas of 366 noteworthy figures -- including Shakespeare and Steve Jobs, Jackie Robinson and Billie Jean King, Beethoven and Buzz Aldrin, Abraham Lincoln and Maya Angelou, Blessed Mother Teresa and Oprah, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi -- to motivate and inspire readers of all ages to become heroes and mentors themselves, the kind of people who nurture and shape the very best of our culture and society. With resounding words of wisdom, a stunning selection of portraits, short informative biographies of the visionaries, and an illustrator's note, A Gift of Days celebrates the society of which we're all a part and reminds us that we each have the potential to change the world every day of the year.

A Pals in Peril Tale: Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware
M.T. Anderson
Beach Lane / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416986393 $16.99

It is a land of wonders! It is a land of mystery. It is a land that time forgot (or chose specifically not to remember). Cut off from the civilized world for untold years, this land is called: DELAWARE. With tongue firmly in cheek, author M.T. Anderson spins his satirical tale in the vein of "Whales on Stilts" in the first "Pals In Peril Tale" called "Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware." It is fun and funny. It is original (after all, Delaware isn't exactly the center of literature's adventure universe). It is into the mist-shrouded heart of this forbidden, mountainous realm that our plucky and intrepid heroes, Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut and his friends Lily Gefelty and Katie Mulligan, must journey to unravel a terrible mystery. Middle grade readers will enjoy going along on this silly yet grand adventure that includes in its pages: Lost cities! Tentacles! Monks! Dinosaurs! Gangsters! Cheap suits! Eye doctors! And, of course, (of course?) the fabled curse of the jaguar and many other exclamation-filled chapters.

Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781433287527 $33.00

This unabridged audiobook of Lewis Carroll's 1871 classic "Through the Looking Glass" - the sequel to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - is read aloud by Harlan Ellison, a multiple-award-winning author in his own right. The story finds Carroll's inquisitive heroine in a fantastic land where everything is reversed. Whereas the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, this book is loosely based on the game of chess - played here, however, on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Alice encounters talking flowers, madcap kings and queens, and strange mythological characters when she becomes a pawn in a bizarre chess game involving Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and other amusing nursery-rhyme characters.

Justine Larbalestier
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599903057 $16.99, 376 pages,

In Aussie author Justine Larbalestier's latest young adult novel, "Liar," Micah will freely admit that she's a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she'll ever tell you. Over the years she's duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she's always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them -- and herself -- that she's finally come clean, "Liar" is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

The Banshee
Eve Bunting, Emily Arnold McCully
Chronicle Books
85 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105
9780618821624 $16.00

This ghostly Irish legend, retold by master storyteller Eve Bunting and illustrated by Caldecott medalist Emily Arnold McCully, is a deliciously toe-tickling bedtime tale. Scree…Scree…can you hear the Banshee? Terry is half asleep when he hears the wailing, rising and falling like the waves of the sea. He wishes it were a dream, but he knows it isn't. It isn't an owl screeching either, or the Flannerys' old cat. Could it be the Banshee - the ghostly figure who wails outside a house when death is near? Why would she come here? In spite of his fears, Terry goes out to confront her. Is it really the Banshee, or something else? Perfect for Halloween tale-telling.

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison
Lara M. Zeises
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385731461 $16.99

"The Sweet Life of Stella Madison" only sounds like a Disney Channel sit-com. Rather, it's a warmhearted, delectable novel about what it means to love and be loved. When Stella Madison's food-loving parents help her land a summer job at the local newspaper, there's only one catch: she's expected to write about food. Luckily, Stella has Jeremy, the hot new intern at her mom's restaurant, who's more than happy to help. But where does that leave Stella's boyfriend, Max, who recently dropped the L-word? And could her separated parents be cooking up romances of their own? "The Sweet Life" is a light, breezy, well-written romp that will satisfy the reading appetite of teen girls looking for plenty of romance in their book selections.

Leigh Ann's Civil War
Ann Rinaldi
Harcourt Inc.
215 Park Ave. South, NY, NY 10003
9780152065133 $17.00

Spunky and determined, Leigh Ann Conners has a propensity for mischief that often gets her into trouble. Her estranged mother claims she is growing up wild, but Leigh Ann knows she's doing just fine; she adores her two older brothers, who are raising her, and would do anything to make them proud. When the dreaded Yankees arrive in Roswell, Georgia, Leigh Ann places a French flag atop her family's mill, hoping to convince the Yankees to spare it from destruction. That simple action, done out of love for her brothers, has disastrous results. Leigh Ann is arrested and sent north with the women and children who worked in the mill - all branded traitors for making fabric for Confederate uniforms. Disguised as a boy, Leigh Ann embarks on a journey that will force her to grow up more quickly than she imagined. In doing so, she must find her own source of strength, for only then will she be able to rise above the war raging around her - and fight for all she holds dear.

Through Time: London
Richard Platt, Manuela Cappon
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780753417331 $18.00

This series offers a unique journey through different periods in history. Detailed artworks tell the story of a specific location as it changes with time. As they explore each scene, readers learn about the people who lived in this place, looking at their beliefs and way of life. "Through Time: London" follows the story of the historic capital from its Celtic origins right up to the present - including the settlement of the Romans, the Anglo-Saxon era, the Viking invasion, and the growth of medieval London in Norman times. Along the way, the book explores major events in London's history, such as the plague, the Great Fire and the Blitz of World War II.

My [Not So] Perfect Life
Karen Phillips, Jessie Hartland
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591746713 $16.95

Whether your life is weirdly perfect or perfectly weird, this friendly fill-in-the-blanks journal is a fun place to record it all. The humorous "My [Not So] Perfect Life" features spry marginal thoughts, cartoonish illustrations, and what's-your-story prompts that even the most reluctant diarists will find hard to refuse. After all everyone has nicknames, favorite toys, and embarrassing moments (including annoying parental unit experiences). The book gently coaxes personal thoughts from the reader/writer in a friendly and trusting manner, clearly letting the participant know that it's OK to talk/write about their feelings, both good and bad. In the long run, it also lets them know many things aren't as bad as they seem -- this too shall pass - and that a sunny attitude is a great way to speed up the process. A lovely tween gift item, this spiral bound journal comes with a sparkly pink pencil to get things rolling.

Ruth Sanderson
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316778855 $16.99

Prolific illustrator Ruth Sanderson offers a fresh, heartwarming twist to the classic "Goldilocks" story. In the new happy ending, Goldilocks makes up for her presumptuous infractions on the Three Bears' household by helping them make muffins with the berries she's picked from the woods near their home. Charming, distinctly old-fashioned artwork -- topped off with a recipe for homemade blueberry muffins -- make this a new edition of an old, old story time treasure that is just right, of course. After all, Sanderson is the illustrator of numerous fairy tales including "Mother Goose and Friends," "Cinderella," "The Night Before Christmas," and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."

Once Was Lost
Sara Zarr
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316036047 $16.99

As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy into the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grave. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town goes missing, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel. Author Sara Zarr's third novel examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed - about God, you family, and yourself - is transformed.

School of Fear
Gitty Daneshvari
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316033268 $15.99

In Gitty Daneshvari's first children's book, "School of Fear," everyone is afraid of something. Madeleine Masterson is deathly afraid of bugs, especially spiders. Theodore Bartholomew is petrified of dying. Lulu Punchalower is scared of confined spaces. Garrison Feldman is terrified of deep water. With very few options left, the parents of these four twelve year-olds send them to the highly elusive and exclusive School of Fear to help them overcome their phobias. But when their peculiar teacher, Mrs. Wellington, and her unconventional teaching methods turn out to be more frightening than even their fears, the foursome realize that this just may be the scariest summer of their lives. For readers ages 8 through 12, who are happy to face their fears.

Ellen Hopkins
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
8781416950073 $18.99

"Tricks" brings together five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls, two guys., Four straight, one gay. Some rich, some poor. Some from great families, some with on one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching for something: freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons. Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?" A brilliant new achievement in young adult literature and poetry from best-selling author Ellen Hopkins.

Any Which Wall
Laurel Snyder
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375855603 $16.99

Four kids, a mysterious wall, and a good helping of common magic is the recipe for the exciting middle grade novel "Any Which Wall" by Laurel Snyder. If you had a magic wall that could take you to any place and any time, where would you go? Would you want to visit castles and desert islands? Would you want to meet famous wizards, terrible pirates, beautiful queens, and dastardly outlaws? If so, then you are just like Henry and Emma, and Roy and Susan -- and you will probably like this story a lot. In fact, you might even wish something similar would happen to you! In "Any Which Wall" the author (one of my favorite writers, I must confess) wryly proves that you don't have to be an orphan, know a dragon, or even be a child to get a taste of magic; you just have to keep your mind open and willing to let it happen. And when you do find magic (like Henry, Emma, Roy, and Susan), you might be surprised that along with all the fun, you also find out new things about your friends, your family, and maybe even a little bit about who you really want to be.

The Long Wait for Tomorrow
Joaquin Dorfman
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375846946 $16.99

Young "Playing It Cool" author Joaquin Dorfman is back with another smart novel that pushes the envelope of literary fiction, examining identity, high school roles, and even the high-blown concept of destiny through a cool science-fiction lens. What if, in a "Freaky Friday"-"17 Again" moment, a wise and humble 40-year-old man woke one morning to find himself transported back in time, into his body more than 20 years before, when he was the popular, entitled, and arrogant quarterback of the school football team? Could the man do anything to stop a tragedy initiated by the cruel actions of the boy, or is fate too strong a force? It's the small-town football worship of "Friday Night Lights" with a dark and unsettling "Donnie Darko" twist.

The Pricker Boy
Reade Scott Whinnem
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375857195 $16.99

"Some stories draw blood. Some truths won't stay buried." The Pricker Boy was human once, or so they say. The son of a fur trapper, he was taunted by his peers and tricked into one of his own father's traps. By the time anybody found it, the trap's vicious teeth were empty, pried open and overgrown. It was said the brambles themselves had reached out and taken pity on that boy; that his skin had hardened to bark as thorns grew over every inch of his body. Maybe it's true and maybe it isn't. But anyone who knows anything stays out of the woods beyond the Widow's Stone. That used to be enough. But this is the summer everything changes, as Stucks Cumberland and his friends find a mysterious package containing mementos of their childhood: baseball cards, a worn paperback, a locket. Offerings left behind in the woods years ago, meant to keep the Pricker Boy at bay…offerings that have been rejected. Let the haunting begin.

Dr. Seuss Puzzle Story: The Cat in the Hat
Dr. Seuss Puzzle Story: Green Eggs and Ham
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545137645 (Cat)
9780545137659 $14.99

I must confess that I'm not a big fan of the post-mortem books written in the style of Dr. Seuss by licensed writers for brand-extension merchandise books. The magic is missing from them, and it seems a sad "tribute" to the master who is no longer alive and therefore unable to suppress licensed publishing exploiting his name (or, alias, in this case). But when it comes to toy items, I'm I sucker for anything Seuss related, and these book/play kits are no exception. These two "Dr. Seuss Puzzle Story" book spin-offs feature the characters from "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham." Each contains hands on activities - in this case five lacing cards with colored laces, and four 24-piece jigsaw puzzles, respectively - along with an activity booklet suggesting new ways to interact with the package props. Each of the gift packs make fine toddler presents, especially if combined with original copies of the Dr. Seuss book classics.

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439023498 $17.99

Suzanne Collins' newest novel, "Catching Fire," is the sequel to the fast-action, futuristic tale "Hunger Games," set in a post-United States world. Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry…the Capitol wants revenge. An appealing thriller for grades 7 and up.

Robin Wasserman
Simon Pulse
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416974536 $16.99

In Robin Wasserman's sequel to "Skinned" everyone has something to lose. Before the accident, Lia Kahn was happy. She was loved. She was a lot of things: normal, alive, human. Lia no longer believes in "before." Six months after being reborn, she has finally accepted her new reality; she is a machine, a mech, and she belongs with her own kind. It's a wild, carefree life, without rules and without fear. Because there's nothing to fear when you have nothing left to lose. But when a voice from her past cries out for revenge, everything changes. Lia is forced to choose between her old life and her new one. Between humans and mechs. Between sacrificing the girls she used to be and saving the boy she used to love. Even if it means he'll hate her forever.

Horse Crazy
Jessie Haas
Storey Publishing
210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
9781603421546 $16.95 www.storey,com

Here's a book for all those horse-crazy kid - the ones who read all the horse books, would rather spend time at the stable than at the mall, would rather ride a horse than ride a bike, and would even rather clean a stable than clean their room. Writer Jessie Haas has compiled almost 400 pages of horse information and trivia for "Horse Crazy." The book is divided it into three sections: "In the Know: Essential Equine Information for the Truly Obsessed," "In the Saddle and In the Stall and In the Show Ring," and "In the Spotlight: The Arts, The Environment, and Some Equine Extras." The first section teaches horse anatomy and history, and imparts basic horse sense. Part two includes practical information on such crucial matters as horse handling, Western vs. English riding, show ring success, and how to choose a horse camp. The final section unleashes the creative impulses of the horse enthusiast, encouraging them to write a horse story, draw in the stable, or photograph a horse show.

Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder
Tanya Lee Stone, Boris Kulikov
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670062683 $16.99

"Sandy's Circus" is the charming picture book story about artist Alexander Calder's childhood and earliest days as an artist in Paris. Simply told by Tanya Lee Stone with Boris Kulikov's spectacular and innovative illustrations, they focus on how, as a boy, Alexander "Sandy" Calder was always fiddling with odds and ends, making objects for friends. When he got older and became an artist, his fiddling led him to create wire sculptures. One day, Sandy made a lion. Next came a lion cage. Before he knew it, he had an entire circus and was traveling between Paris and New York performing a brand-new kind of art for amazed audiences. Though it's difficult to imagine the awe long-ago crowds may have felt, the child-like charm of the wee wire circus still amuses at least, and one can imagine Calder's childish delight playing with his toys. Calder's original circus is on permanent display at the Whitney Museum in New York City - the place where this book will certainly find its biggest audience.

Time of the Witches
Anna Myers
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011
9780802798206 $16.99

In Anna Myers' young adult novel "Time of the Witches," an orphan named Drucilla has finally has a place to call home with the Putnam family in Salem. Although her adopted mother is strange -- haunted by a troubled past -- Dru feels drawn to her as the mother she never had. When a new reverend and his family move into town with their servant Tituba, life takes a strange turn as young girls begin to fall ill and accusations of witchcraft begin to swirl. Reluctant to turn her back on the Putnams or her peers and overwhelmed by the power of groupthink among the other girls in town, Dru becomes one of the accusers herself. But when her best friend Gabe is accused, she must find a way to end the hysteria, or risk losing him forever.

The Hunchback Assignments
Arthur Slade
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385737845 $15.99

Modo has never know the world outside of Ravenscroft's castle walls. Saved as a toddler from becoming a pawn in a traveling freak show, Modo has been raised by the enigmatic Mr. Socrates to become Victorian London's ultimate spy in author Arthur Slad's exciting steampunk thriller, "The Hunchback Assignments." Grotesquely deformed in his natural hunchback state, Modo holds the unique ability to shape-shift into any human form for short periods of time. After 14 years of honing his skill, Mr. Socrates decides that his young protege is ready to help fight the hidden crime that is infecting London. Having never before stepped foot outside the castle where he was raised, with only his teachers to break his seclusion, Modo is suddenly abandoned by Mr. Socrates in the middle of a bustling London street. When Modo proves himself able to survive on his own, he is given his first task as an agent for the Permanent Association. He teams up with spirited young agent Octavia Milkweed, a beautiful orphan, to thwart the sinister attack of the Clockwork Guild anarchists against London and the British government. "The hunchback Assignments" is a superb steampunk thriller, and an excellent beginning for this new series.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Freedom's Shadow
Randy Schell
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439233306, $12.99,

There are martyrs for many causes, some more successful than others. "Freedom's Shadow" is author Randy Schell telling the story of one Sam Sharpe, one slave who stood up to his oppressive society through peaceful protest a hundred years before it became the norm. His death ultimately lead to the abolishment of slavery in Jamaica. "Freedom's Shadow" is a fascinating story of how abolition took hold in Jamaica, highly recommended.

Mary Ann MacAfee
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439218198, $15.99,

For your family, you would do anything. "Frozen Tears" is the story of Kale Weaver, an environmentalist as she is faced with a challenge of Alaska's beautiful natural landscape. Blending its native culture, creatures, and more, Mary Ann MacAfee blends a delightful read that will entertain many a reader. "Frozen Tears" is of especial interest to those intrigued by the native Alaskan culture.

Edge Effects
Robert D. Temple
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595477586, $37.95,

Whether the border be Kansas and Colorado, or California and Mexico, there's something special to be found. "Edge Effects: The Border-Name Places" is a travel guide for readers outlining the unique cultures and experiences, as well as stuff you can get away with on crossing the many border lines throughout North America. Covering both State/provincial and international borders, "Edge Effects" is a worthwhile read for any who find themselves border hopping often and want to pick up some tips.

John Debrizzi
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd., #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432740283, $21.95,

It doesn't take a lot to make a difference. "America" tells the story of young America Huerta, an inspirational young woman who makes her own way in life. Out to change the world, she may find the ability to do so as her acts seem to put her on a road to meeting the President of the United States. "America" is kindly and charming, and will please many a reader.

Gary Kaschak
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438959542 $22.99

It may take a century, but some mysteries will be solved. "Lifestone" tells the story of a of a civil-war era mystery put in the hands of two college students and a historian by the name of Peter McDonnell. Looking through history, a seemingly unsuspecting cemetery plot may be the key to this mystery. An exciting read that blends history, historians, and mystery well, "Lifestone" is a deftly crafted and highly recommended read.

The Cat Comes on Little Fog Feet
Gayle Lloyd
Bon Mo Books
9780578021867 $10.00

The perspective from below can open your eyes. "The Cat Comes on Little Fog Feet" tells the story of one Bon Mo, a cat who attempts to take on the speciest world that keeps him down as a lowly pet. Charming and hilarious, "The Cat Comes on Little Fog Feet" is a great and one of a kind read that'll make cat lovers purr.

The Letter from Death
Lillian Moats, author
David J. Moats, illustrator
Three Arts Press
c/o Literary Ventures Fund (publicity)
154 Christopher Street, NY 10014
9780966957631 $17.95

Tired of his vilification, Death has a few choice words with humanity. "The Letter from Death" Is a blend of art and humor, opening an attack on the war-driven culture that America currently seems to be entrenched in. Humorous, charming, philosophical, and much more, Lillian Moats and David J. Moats team up to bring a most delightful experience of prose and visual. "The Letter from Death" is well worth the read for those seeking political commentary with something fresh mixed in.

Mark Stephen Levy
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438996264 $15.99

The things you do for love. "Overland" is the story of one Danny Benson and his pursuit of his fiance, Heather, who is traveling on a magic bus towards Kathmandu. His story is strange and odd, finding himself in Afghanistan at the end of 1979, with war looming over his head. "Overland" is a unique story blending love, history, and many other elements into what is a delightful read.

The Monkey King's Daughter
T.A. DeBonis
Privately Published
9780967809441 $9.95

Some people wish they had extraordinary origins, others wish they were normal. "The Monkey King''s Daughter" is the story of Meilin, who soon finds out that she is the daughter of the mythical Sun Wukong. With that knowledge, she finds herself missing the days when homework and boys were the only thing on her mind. A fun mix of classical Asian mythology and a charming young adult read, "The Monkey King's Daughter" is quite the entertaining read, highly recommended.

Living Peacefully in a Big City
Tanna Marshall
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440138690 $15.95

There are few things less peaceful than life in the city. "Living Peacefully in a Big City: A Guide to Maintaining Your Sanity, Health, and Happiness" is a guide to those who want a bit of peace in their lives. Spiritual and simple, Tanna Marshall draws upon new age techniques to help city dwellers keep their soul in the soulless urban jungles that so often surround them. "Living Peacefully in a Big City" has much sage advice for those looking for some calm in the storm.

112 Ways to Succeed In Any Negotiation or Mediation
Steven G. Mehta
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438983912 $24.99

You can get a lot done if you say the right things. "112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Meditation: Secrets from a Professional Mediator" is a guide to negotiating and mediating in business. With tips on avoiding the taboos that could cost one the deal and how to work towards closing it in your favor, Steven Mehta says these tips can be applied to business, the law, or simply everyday life. "112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation" is a fine read that could help many people in many aspects of their day to day routine.

Advancing Backward
Kellie Lynn Ketcham
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439234174 $13.99

It takes a long while to find out who one really is. "Advancing Backward" Is a memoir of mother Kellie Lynn Ketcham as she reflects on the path through her life and how she found what she really wanted out of life was something that she knew all along. Hoping to inspire readers to glance back when figuring out their future, "Advancing Backwards" is a motivating read that many will enjoy.

Mike Fontenot
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
1425180760 $27.95

Some people are just born with natural gifts for certain jobs. "Solution2" is the story of Courtney and Whitney Bergstrom, two identical twin sisters who join the CIA as spies as they graduate college. A unique spy thriller following two unlikely spies with their own gift of deception and thought, Mike Fontenot gives readers a highly intriguing and entertaining adventure that will give spy fiction fans another dose of what they love. Highly recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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