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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 10 October 2013 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

My Kitchen Cure
Mee Tracy McCormick
LeeMee Publishing
c/o Steve Allen Media (publicity)
9780989118507 $19.95

Half of My Kitchen Cure is the autobiographical story of Tracy McCormick, a woman born with autoimmune disease who suffered tremendously from digestion problems and an intestinal ulceration for most of her life - even risking death during her two pregnancies. One treatment after another failed to help her, until she learned how to cook her own healthy food and change her diet. In time, her efforts paid off, leading to dramatically better health. Half of My Kitchen Cure relates the storied chronicle of how she learned about nutritious foods that benefit and heal the body, and half is devoted to recipes that she uses on a daily basis - especially dairy free and gluten free recipes. Many recipes are vegetarian or vegan as well (but not all, such as Salmin-Dill Burgers). The vegan recipes include Kelp Noodle Soup with Sea Veggies, Classic Simple Caesar Salad with Caesar's Vegan Dressing, even Rockin' Faux Cheddar (made from ground cashews and other ingredients), Tofu Feta, and baked goods that can use spelt, amaranth flour, brown rice flour, or buckwheat flour instead of wheat. My Kitchen Cure will prove particularly valuable to individuals with Crohn's Disease, diabetics, gluten/lactose intolerance, or other nutrition/digestion issues, but readers of all walks of life - including and especially those struggling with obesity - will benefit directly from its healthful suggestions. Highly recommended, especially as an inspiration, lifestyle guide, and cookbook resource.

Kiss Me in Paris
Kimberly Kinrade and Dmytry Karpov
Daring Books Publishing
9781939559128 $14.99 pbk. / $3.99 Kindle

Kiss Me in Paris is a sensual romance about love haunted by secrets. Winter is a woman whose past has haunted her since her high school days, forcing her to distance herself from friendships and romance alike. But then she meets a man enmired in his own secrets, including a private letter he carries everywhere yet refuses to open. The bond that forms between them blossoms into love that will not be denied. When the harsh light of truth inevitably exposes the most shameful moments of their respective pasts, will the revelation bring hope, or tragedy? Passionate and emotional, Kiss Me in Paris is a read to be savored. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of romance.

Morton Falls Publishing Company
1850 Old Sattler Road
Canyon Lake, TX 78132

"Look For Me" is a four volume series by Douglas Kirk and traces two lovers who promise each other to rejoin themselves as a couple in future incarnations. Wallace and Lauri learn that they have the ability to back in time and act as guardian angels for their own past lives Then find out that their future selves have been coming back to guide and protect them. A combination of a kiss and hypnosis are what make their time travel possible across two continents and into eras that are separated by centuries. Undying love is what enable them to overcome great tragedy. The series consists of "Look for Me" (9780934279161, $9.95); "I Will Find You" (9780934279178, $9.95); "Missing You" (9780934279185, $9.95); and "Everything To Me" (9780934279192, $9.95). A superbly crafted series blending unforgettable characters with memorable storylines, "Look For Me" is highly entertaining and strongly recommended reading.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

My Date From Hell
Tellulah Darling
Te Da Media
9780988054066 $12.99
Author website:
Author Amazon page:

(Also available through Ingram's as of October 31)

My Date From Hell publishes Volume 2 of the 'Blooming Goddess' trilogy (begun in My Ex From Hell): while it's recommended that readers begin with the first book for smooth transition, there is no absolute requirement to do so in order to enjoy My Date From Hell, which revolves around a teen girl who has discovered she's actually the immortal goddess Persephone living in the body of a mortal.

Book One set the scene; My Date From Hell continues the saucy, lively saga as Persephone (a.k.a. Sophie) continues her stormy relationship with the god Kai, fights to regain memories of her immortal past life, and must tackle the usual teen challenge of learning to differentiate a jerk from a romantic interest.

Teens who appreciate humor and spicy romance in their reading will find My Date From Hell is packed with fun interplays between gods, goddesses, mortals, and personal agendas. Chapters move beyond the usual scenario of a boarding school whose directors have gone bad to enter the realm of fantasy where conflict is centered as much upon competing immortals as upon Sophie's conflicted emotions between her mortal and supernatural impulses.

Add a gay best friend, the wrath of Aphrodite over this turn of affairs, and an unholy alliance between Zeus and Hades (who want Sophie dead and Kai tortured) and you have a plot loosely based on the Greek Gods, but with many modern twists and turns.

It's satisfying to note that YA readers need not be familiar with Greek legends nor even with the prior book: My Date From Hell neatly fills in any gaps with a smooth-flowing, lively ease perfect for readers looking for something different.

And by the way - the audience shouldn't be limited to young adults: many an adult fantasy reader will find these sassy romance and encounters refreshingly different and fun.

Means to An End
Elizabeth Romero
Two Harbors Press
9781626520417 $16.95

Means to An End is a fine novel of family connections, abusive patterns, and how one girl becomes involved with murder and a romantic encounter that could break the cycle of violence she has borne all her life.

The prologue sets the scene, opening with Ashby's seventeenth birthday of despair:

"Ashby's home did not represent what she thought a home should be. Her arm still ached and the bruise on her young face would take a few days to fade. Ashby had become pretty good at hiding the outward signs of despair but inwardly she seethed...She felt weak, defeated, and alone."

Her twin brother fled from home months earlier, but Ashby remains stuck, staying for the sake of an abused mother trapped in a cycle of drug addiction and violence. There seems to be no escape from tyrannical father figure Garrett's iron rule of his family... none while he is living, anyway. And there is no refuge at school either; for Ashby is bullied and rejected by her peers.

As Garrett slowly crosses the line beyond violence and Ashby finds herself following in the footsteps of her mother's bad choices, she becomes determined to seek a better outcome for herself ... even if it means choosing between impossible options.

Her hopes and dreams center on positive goals despite all, and are poignantly revealed early on in the novel:

"One of these days she thought that she was going to stop that ole bastard. Although she didn't yet know how, she would find a way. One of these days she would be someone important, someone with a purpose..."

But as so often happens in violent homes, there is no easy way out. Eventually murder offers both an escape and further entrapment as Ashby runs from everything she's grown up with and seeks refuge and answers in the big city of New Orleans, searching for her runaway brother and encountering a judge who could be her salvation (or her undoing.)

But Means to An End is more than a novel about one woman's search for freedom: it's an interconnected story of family relationships, repetitive cycles, and patterns of acting and reacting, covering all the elements that influence courage and survival.

When Ashby assumes a new identity while she searches for life's meaning and her own answers in the New Orleans of her mother's heritage she uncovers truths that lead her full circle from a flight from that past to family encounters that hold promise for a better future.

Means to an End is a saga of family, love, survival, and finding meaning in life. Its satisfying, complex blend of romance and psychological insights will gain a ready audience in readers looking for depth in their reading.

Playmates (Wilde Trilogy, Book #1)
Jess C Scott
$2.99 (eBook) / $9.99 (print)

Playmates is Book 1 of the 'Wilde Trilogy' and is a psychological thriller about abused siblings who turn into a serial killing team.

The story opens with a bang: the bang of children seeking to escape, and the bang of family violence that dominates their lives: "My birthday wish was simple: run away with my twin sister....(sic) There was a loud yell from the living room then - Dad's voice - and the familiar violent jolt of the sound of glass shattering. Someone had once again broken a bottle on the wall just outside our room."

Because their parents inflict psychological and physical pain upon each other and their children, Tania and her twin Trevor learn that violence and pain are normal everyday events inside a house where, to the outer world, their parents are respectable citizens: "I would see him nicely dressed in the morning for work, looking every bit the studious professor he was. Black rectangular glasses, trimmed beard, ironed shirt, nice shoes....He was all smiles at his workplace, with a pleasant face and greeted all around by smiley faces. He was happy during the drive back home too..."

Because they live in fear of the alcohol and violence which dominates their lives, the twins have never had a normal, happy childhood. Their mother only wanted one child (a son) and takes out her frustrations on daughter Tania; and this is where Tania learns that humans are selfish by nature. Most people, she perceives, don't care about children. Add her mother's prostitution when their father is away and you have a frightening home filled with secrets, violence, and extraordinary measures required for survival.

But Playmates isn't just about survival: it's about how these early lessons take root in a child and themselves beget warped human nature. Tania discovers the only person she can really count on is her twin ... and so begins a relationship born of a survival instinct and reaction to danger ("That was when I first realized Trevor was always there for me when I needed him. He was the only person I could trust with anything. He was my best friend. He was my everything") which evolves into something more sinister.

Unlike The Bad Seed and other classic novels of psychopathic behaviors, Playmates delves into the 'why' and 'how' of the evolutionary process. The children absorb their parents' violence and insecurities like sponges, then find themselves attracted to the power and compulsion of violence in their own lives - first with small things (such as ants); later with victims more their size.

Games revolving around violence, television documentaries of killers and psychopaths, and an emotionally charged home environment filled with abuse on different levels (emotionally, physical, and sexual) all conspire to cultivate the seeds of homicide, rage, and (ultimately) empowerment.

Playmates provides alternating viewpoints between twins who share experiences and build their own conjoined perceptions of murder, violence, and power. From warped views of justice to ideas of safety and violence, the story line delves into the winding mental processes of each twin and provides riveting perceptions: "I needed to do that first one - murder - so I'd be able to compare that with Rick and Dad doing "what they did" to me. That way I could compare sex and murder directly. I might learn something. I loved the idea. It helped create a sense of justice in my view on this silly little thing called life."

Events progress to a crescendo - and offer no predictable conclusion. This means readers should be prepared for the second installment of a slowly-building psychological thriller of the emergence of evil and sociopathic responses to an impossible life.

Dance for a Dead Princess
Deborah Hawkins
Create Space
Kindle 9780988934719
Nook 9780988934702
Amazon :
Barnes and Noble:
Author website: $2.99

Dance for a Dead Princess is a work of fiction loosely based on facts surrounding Princess Diana's life, and opens with the premise that Princess Diana received a death threat shortly before her accident, recorded the phone call, and gave the information to a close friend in America who subsequently died under mysterious circumstances.

Diane's close (and rich) friend Duke Nicholas, the second richest man in England, would seem to have more than enough resources to track down this missing information, (which seems to have wound up at a Wall Street attorney's office), but though he can lure Taylor to England with the promise of selling his ancestral estate to one of her clients, he can't force her to turn over the tape. Nor can he control the unexpected: his sudden infatuation with her.

On Taylor's part, she views Nicholas as a spoiled, selfish rich man and only wants to represent her client as quickly as possible and return home. She's recovering from a broken engagement and the last thing she needs is another romance. But then, the last thing she also needs is involvement with a piece of evidence that could and place her in jeopardy while providing the definitive word about Diana's death.

The plot becomes even more complex with the discovery a document which relates a history that gives her more compassion for Nicholas, who is battling to save his drug-addicted ward. Add an arrest for murder and Taylor finds herself more than immersed in a wildly twisting affair that moves between romance and murder mystery.

Now, I almost hesitate to mention the romance factor: too many romance novels are insipid, predictable, and shallow writings. And I even hesitate to bill this as a 'mystery' (even as a 'historical mystery') because so much genre writing in this area is also too dry.

Not so Dance for a Dead Princess, which maintains a vivid set of protagonists, clearly outlines motivations built upon their realistic personalities, and adds the backdrop of romance and mystery to create a complex and ever-evolving story line that's anything but predictable.

For one thing, the historical references run the gamut from past to present. This lends a realistic background to the novel which clearly shows connections between timeline events and what motivates the protagonists. British history is offered as a real force affecting not only past, but present events.

For another, motivations for actions are clearly drawn. Nicholas is drawn to investigate Diana's death not because she's a famous personality, but because she was his friend - and his last connection to his wife, also deceased. So his drive to investigate her death comes from a personal, not a political, connection: "How many nights had he spent talking to Diana about his marriage, about her marriage, about his guilt over Deborah, and about the impossibility of being in love? Too many to count. He ached to tell her now how empty his life had become without either of them."

The connections between Nicholas and Taylor are forged from a number of motivators; from shared feelings to an overall event that ties them together, and are thoroughly explored in a plot ripe with high drama, tense scenes, and realistic twists and turns throughout.

Fans of good solid fiction writing will find Dance for a Dead Princess is clearly more than a cut above genre writing, and will relish the definitive conclusion which leaves nothing hanging and much to enjoy.

Weegee: The Autobiography (Annotated)
Devault-Graves Digital Editions
9780989671408, $9.99,

The first edition of this autobiography (titled Weegee by Weegee) first appeared in 1961 and contained several pages of his photos which are not included here (due to a blend of current e-reader limitations and copyright restrictions). There are other sources readers may use to view Weegee's notable New York photographs, and it's not the purpose or within the scope of his autobiographical piece to represent the extent of his art, as well.

No, the strength of Weegee: The Autobiography lies in returning a long-out-of-print piece, written towards the end of his life before he became famous, to the public eye in a modern e-book format with a healthy dose of new material unique to this new edition.

Weegee's photos documented the seedier side of New York City, from sexual encounters in public places to street executions and more, and his autobiography provides the background necessary to place Weegee's creations in personal and social perspective.

Weegee often photographed at night, preferring to shoot his scenes of New York under the surreal lighting conditions that resulted in eye-opening revelations of personal tragedy and small disasters all captured via candid camera and a well-developed eye for social observation and photographic commentary.

Much like his photographs, Weegee's writings are introspective, candid, and often startling in their candor and assessments of both self and surrounding influences and environment: "I have no inhibitions, and neither has my camera. I have lived a full life and have tried everything. What may be abnormal to you is normal to me. If I had to live my life over again, I would do it all the same way . . . only more so."

From his early years as an Austrian immigrant (arriving in America at the age of ten) to learning the art of photography, joining a camera club, and making his own independent way in the world of technique and social observation, Weegee reveals not just his fascination for New York culture, but the lives of those he is interested in revealing through his photographic eye: "On every block on the East Side, there were also married women who were not prostitutes but who made a little extra money while their kids were at school and their husband at work. This was the East Side of the 1920's, with its Grand Street Playhouse, Henry Street Settlement house, Educational Alliance, music schools, synagogues, and whorehouses. I liked them and attended them all."

Slowly, through Weegee's life and descriptions, readers gain a sense for what fascinates him artistically - and how these subject choices evolved. From his assignments as a crime photographer (which brought him in close touch with a vast array of peoples and situations) to skills that brought him into respected artistic circles (and in high demand as offers for special assignments and full-time positions poured in), Weegee reveals his progression from novice to reporter to artist and the impact of his approach and works upon his life and the lives of those around him.

As he learns to deal with agents, tours the country, and encounters Hollywood and circumstances beyond his New York City adopted home, Weegee comes to consider the Big Apple not just home, but 'civilization' itself - and returns to his wellspring of inspiration to focus even more intently on capturing humanity in places not usually thought of; as in an assignment to capture encounters in a movie theater:

"I pride myself on reality. Even in a movie theater. I wanted the love to be real, to come right from the heart and soul. I didn't want it to be a casual pickup, a one-night stand. I took my camera into one of the boxes, aimed it at the audience, and left it set up. Every time I heard a sigh or a groan in the dark, I pushed the button. I got some very good pictures, but not enough. I decided to try a new angle."

More so than the majority of autobiographical reflections by photographers, Weegee: The Autobiography lets the reader experience the entire process of making art and capturing social scenes. It operates just as candidly as does Weegee's photos, revealing motivations, creative impulses, and their translation into a photographic perspective and approach for social representation.

Even journeys beyond America to Paris contain Weegee's now-mature, embedded visions of capturing the underside of society - and yet somehow nothing compares with his perception of the vivid people and setting of his beloved New York ("I could take French people with a dose of aspirin, and their food with a dose of Epsom salts. Obviously, I needed a change.").

Though Weegee produced his autobiography at a time when he was in fact slowing down in his prolific productions, his observations and memories are no less emotionally charged - and no less vivid for the distance between his photographic pinnacle and these reflections, presented in his later years.

As Weegee himself writes: "There are ... the sheltered souls, who are afraid to mingle with strangers and the outside world with its wonderful subjects to photograph."

Holding none of these fears himself, Weegee reveals the heart of an exceptional photographer - and the wellspring of genius which is to be discovered when a photographer with a vision lets loose of fear and limitations and sets out to capture what is in his heart.

Any who love the art and science of social and artistic photography will hold Weegee: The Autobiography in highest regard!
Sisters in White
Melissa Foster
World Literary Press
978098905876 $3.99

Sisters in White is Book Three in the 'Love in Bloom' series - and I highly recommend that readers enjoy the first two books in this series for a well-rounded introduction to the concluding story of the many connections that exist between two adult sisters and their parallel lives of romance and interactions.

The evolving story of Danica and her sister Kaylie and the two men they have chosen to share their lives charts the progress of love and connections both between the adult sisters and within their circle of chosen ones.

Sisters in White tells of Danica's and Kaylie's forthcoming double wedding, with insights on how romance has already altered their personalities and connections. Kaylie's flair for drama and partying has been tempered by her romance and motherhood, while Danica is still learning to trust after her parents' divorce:

" matter how much she loved, and how much she trusted, sometimes life kicked you to the curb, and all that love that she made, and all those promises in the dark, could be forgotten just as quickly as they'd slipped from her lips. A partner could walk away at any moment, taking the dirty scenes of their intimate moments with them, and sharing them with God knew who."

It is Danica's struggles to trust in her sister's (good) personality changes and her husband-to-be's fidelity and loyalty that will carry her back, full circle, to her parents' lives, where her father yearns to give them away at their weddings despite the distance his broken marriage has created between him and his daughters.

And lest Danica be perceived as the sister with more mature insights, Kaylie proves her own abilities in the matter as she points out (just before their wedding) that the congregation consists of a virtual roomful of people who have cheated on their spouses and/or endured broken marriages.

Before the ceremony can take place the sisters need a plan that will keep them from moving into the footsteps of their parents and a multitude of others - a plan that preserves romance.

The only trouble is that family relationships remain highly charged and caught up in the underlying drama and tensions of wedding planning, and both Danica and Kaylie find their hearts and minds are caught up in controversies simmering under the surface of good behavior and social protocol.

It's the relationship between the sisters which promises to overcome all - and their ability to trust not only their chosen partners, but one another.

Sisters in White is a steamy romance infused with solid reflections on complex, evolving interpersonal relationships, and is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Any who have enjoyed the prior books will find this a wonderful end to a fine saga of the trials and tribulations of two close sisters and their loves and family relationships.

Lovers at Heart
Melissa Foster
World Literary Press
978098905883 $3.99

Lovers at Heart is Book One of the 'The Bradens: Love in Bloom' series and tells of playboy Treat Braden, who owns upscale resorts around the world and who has always been surrounded by wealth and pomp.

He's never had much time or concern for a serious romance - not until he sets eyes upon Max, who is involved with one of his employees. Treat becomes obsessed and can think of little else - and his desires overcome an initial impulse to reject love that, he is certain, will be 'taken away from him' (based on experiences with his mother's untimely death and his father's long-lasting grief.)

He needs a get-away - and what could be more perfect than joining his father at his ranch for the weekend to achieve a sense of calm and balance that can only come far from the bustling crowds of his life - and far from his infatuation with Max, which is lending to bad behaviors on his part.

Readers familiar with Melissa Foster's 'Love in Bloom' series are in for a treat here; for returning to the plot are Kaylie and Chaz, protagonists from her other romance series who hold connections to Treat and his world, and who become involved in the evolving romance between Max and Treat.

From Treat's close ties to his sister Savannah and how they become stronger with their father's illness to how Max becomes more open to his love and advances, Lovers at Heart examines the motives and influences that lead individuals to follow their hearts and join together against all odds, history, and fears.

Add steamy sex scenes and heartfelt confessions and you have a satisfying addition to the 'Love in Bloom' series that takes a new twist while adding a dash of old, familiar protagonists from the 'Sisters' series.

The Very Eye of Night
David Weeks
Amazon Kindle

The Very Eye of Night is set in the small New Hampshire town of Flintbrook, which is blissfully unfamiliar with violence - until the body of a murdered ex-nun is discovered at the door of a church.

A missing child, an atrocious murder, and clues that seem to point in two very different directions involves a forensic psychologist and a seasoned homicide detective in a search which evolves into a complex web of interconnected events and individuals with no end in sight.

One feature which keeps David Weeks' debut novel vivid and more engrossing than your typical crime story is the author's own professional background as a forensic neuropsychologist. His expertise lends to insights based upon his experiences working with some of Scotland's most dangerous convicts, and permeates a satisfying thriller which neatly moves beyond the usual 'detective/mystery' genre writing to enter the realm of an all-out vivid and realistic adventure story.

From New England to West Africa and back again, clues span the world and evolve from what begins as an investigation of a local killer and his prey to a story (which has become lost in the face of other disasters in Africa) of disaster and evil in a West African lake, scientific investigations, and connections far beyond this sleepy New Hampshire village.

Protagonists, viewpoints, and even perspectives keep changing; from the first-person observations of an investigator increasingly puzzled by the wider-reaching implications of a small town case to trial proceedings, a detective's savage shooting, and even romance under impossible conditions.

Firmly rooted in New England and replete with unexpected connections and mystery, The Very Eye of Night is a compelling high drama at its best, exploring unexpected connections between small town residents and a history that can lead to murder, romance, and the eventual involvement of other worlds.

Weeks' analysis of protagonist motivations and psyches is what drives The Very Eye of Night: that, and an attention to detail that moves neatly beyond local borders.

David Weeks succeeds in providing a highly charged murder mystery that will keep even seasoned mystery readers guessing right up to its satisfying conclusion.

Realizing You: A Novel Approach to Changing Your Life
Ron Doades, with Susan Sloate
1482374293 e-book: $7.75; Paperback: $17.75

It's unusual to find a self-help book written as a novel, but Realizing You is just that, taking the drama and involvement of the novel format to document the paths of five fictional people who are challenged to accept and change their destructive behavior

It's important to note some genre history, here: business books were once solely issued as nonfiction and presented in formats often dry and inaccessible to readers. The relatively modern evolution 'business fiction' (within the last decade) succeeded in allowing these same dry concepts to assume new life with easier understanding as fictional protagonists in the business world struggled with business concepts and came to terms with challenges demanding new patterns of thinking.

Ron Doades and Susan Sloate have achieved much the same for the self-help genre, paving the way for a new breed of 'self-help fiction' with their novel Realizing You, which uses a guru's which uses a guru's workshops and speech on self improvement to provide the impetus for protagonist revelations and changes.

Readers become immersed in the story through its leader, author Robby Aihn, who has created a runaway best-selling book (Realizing You) and who tries to reconcile the clash between his newfound success and his five principles for living a good life. While the premise of his life and his book seem to coincide ("Simple but profound changes for a happier life."), in reality his new status as a best-selling author involves complex situations Robby has not encountered before.

Robby's success gives him more distractions, less quality time, and more scheduled commitments which interfere with freedom and relaxation. He loves the attention and commendations and, as many gurus do, has amassed a crowd of worshipping followers who hang on his every word.

Still, something is missing...and it's a promised life-changing conference (based on a Realizing You book promotion tour) that promises to supply the answers and changes that Robby and others will need to further tweak their lives, goals, and psyches.

For some, it's coming to the realization that money - and success - aren't the entire draws of a decision to walk away or commit. For others, it's the journey and not the destination which is the whole purpose of positive living.

As Robby brings the message in his book to live audiences, he emphasizes self-help insights readers, too, will find mesmerizing and involving: "I think too many of us - and I used to be guilty of this too - tend to think of our lives as something of a fairy-tale quest. If we want to find this important, life-changing information - and if we can simply hunt down the right book, the right tape, the right person who knows what we need to know and tells it to us - why, then, the journey will be ended and all our problems will miraculously vanish....(sic) believe me, that is not how life works. You always have another challenge in front of you, no matter how many you already put behind you."

The different perspectives of five protagonists all involved in the same basic quest, the insights they gain from their jobs, perspectives, and interactions with others (both on the same journey and outside of it), and the wide-ranging effects of a publicity tour for Realizing You makes for a vivid read filled with the insights of fiction couched in the reality of a self-help program designed to foster newfound connections, changed attitudes and perspectives, and deeper insights on life itself.

From mind-body exercises to self-analysis approaches, Realizing You is, ultimately, the best format for absorbing hard lessons in self transformation. Expect new concepts neatly wrapped in fictional characters who are transformed. Expect a novel that moves beyond the boundaries and limits of fiction to impart wisdom and insight to any who imbibe.

Stephanie Fleshman
9780615692302 (Hardcover)
9780615865874 (Paperback) $14.95
9781628471564 (eBook) $2.99

Koldan Holdt is born without a future - or at least, without hope of achieving the kind of future he has come to desire. As a teenager he finds his fate has been determined before birth when his grandfather dies and an uncertain legacy falls upon Koldan's shoulders to bear.

Teen friend Raya thought she knew Koldan well; but in light of his newfound destiny she discovers that in fact she doesn't know him very well at all. It's a dilemma born of love and cemented by family heritage that challenges Raya's perceptions of Koldan to the point that her vision of their future together is put to the test.

To call Render young adult reading may be suitable in identifying its likely audience - but its audience shouldn't stop there. Render's complexity and focus on family and romantic ties holds enough depth to entice the adult reader, while its alternating character perceptions between Koldan and Raya provide satisfying juxtapositions of perspective and a complexity usually reserved for advanced teen readers into adult circles.

The saga opens in Western Australia, where Bryan and Chloe face the mystery of an abandoned yacht washed up on the rocks. There are no passengers aboard - and no evidence of what happened to a grandfather's yacht rental.

Chapter 2 changes settings completely and introduces Koldan and a very different world in Virginia, moving to the first person as readers receive a quick history of Koldan's (recent) desperate attempt to save his grandfather's life, his entry into Harvard at the age of fifteen, and the puzzles his grandfather has left behind.

Koldan's estrangement from his father, his uncertain relationship with his peace-making mother, and his equally uncertain future with Raya (already challenged by his years of absence at college) adds to a story line that builds intrigue layer by layer as the personalities of protagonists are wound into a plot replete with challenges and danger.

Koldan's increasing involvement in his grandfather's legacy reaches beyond his familiar town's borders and even assumes international proportions as he confronts disparate groups in the course of a search for the truth: "What possible reason could the Russian military have for being here? What possible reason did my grandfather have for coming here?"

It's a long journey from a Virginia hometown and medical school, to a cat-and-mouse game played in tunnels where enemies lurk - and it's a long journey from an uncertain boyfriend/girlfriend relationship to becoming co-conspirators in a complex, evolving plot involving Russian interests.

Koldan's search endangers Raya and even as he comes to understand the truth about his grandfather's heritage and actions, he also must acknowledge personal responsibility in bringing her along on what might be a death mission. As Koldan comes to understand his grandfather's decisions and their lasting impact, he also comes to understand his own reactions and decisions that will forever change lives: "Ideas spring into mind of what my grandfather could have done differently....(sic) It wasn't just that my grandfather fled his country and broke an alliance...."

Ultimately Koldan recognizes the strength of his connections to Raya and the cost his choices will have upon their relationship and his future. And ultimately Raya solidifies her role in his life. Changing first-person perspectives leading to these revelations document the discoveries of each protagonist, with chapter headings clarifying the process to avoid confusion.

Render is young adult intrigue and action at its best. Conversely, its audience should include adult readers interested in vivid twists and turns of plot, international intrigue, and protagonists whose personalities, motives and actions are more than a cut above the ordinary.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Aboard Cabrillo's Galleon
Christine Echeverria Bender
Caxton Press
312 Main Street, Caldwell, ID 83605-3299
University of Nebraska Press (distributor)
233 North 8th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68588-0255
9780870045257, $16.95, 400 pp.,

Synopsis: In the early 1540s, amid the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, conquistador Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo receives orders from the Mexican viceroy to lead a fleet northward into uncharted waters and to explore the mysterious land called California. Already bearing heavy scars from services performed for the Spanish Crown, he knows the rewards will be great indeed if but half of the splendors allegedly awaiting them prove to be true.

Cabrillo's fleet departs in January 1542. Storms quickly threaten the entire journey, and aboard the San Salvador, Cabrillo must fight for every sea mile. As the fleet advances up the unknown coastline, the new country's astonishing beauty and equally astonishing perils unfold before them. Cabrillo, repeatedly choosing diplomacy over war, fosters bonds of friendship with many of the Native tribes near settlements known today as San Diego and Santa Barbara. After sailing beyond San Francisco he is forced to seek shelter for the winter off San Miguel Island, where he becomes involved with a young Chumash widow who is an outcast among her people. Trouble escalates between the sailors and Native people until rebellious crew members provoke the Chumash warriors to attack. After suffering devastating losses, the fleet struggles onward with its dangerous mission.

Critique: "Aboard Cabrillo's Galleon" is a riveting historical novel that showcases author Christine Echeverria Bender as a major literary talent. Of special note is the meticulous attention to historical detail enriching a thoroughly entertaining story populated by memorable characters. "Aboard Cabrillo's Galleon" is highly recommended for personal reading lists and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

Krystal Bull Rain Dancer
Shirley Harber
Little Devil Books
5139 Maxon Terrace, Sanford, FL 32771
9780985828080, $9.95, 132 pp.,

Synopsis: Krystal's 13th birthday starts off at one of her mum's not-so-psychic sittings... and something unusual appears... "Jessie Parker, cowgirl and spirit guide - at your service." Yep, a rootin' tootin' cowgirl from the Great Plains of the American Wild West. Turns out she has news just for Krystal - a mysterious inheritance from her great-great-great granddad, Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull. Exciting, right? Except the news comes with a warning... "RED TOMAHAWK, A BAD SPIRIT - YOU'RE IN DANGER." Danger? Krystal does not like the sound of that at all. Still, she wonders what Chief Sitting Bull left to her. When she discovers a mysterious key, her wonder grows - along with her own uncontrollable powers. At the end-of-year dance, her powers kick into high gear, and everyone sees - like dreamy Jason and horrible Donna. Even her best friend Lara thinks she's gone crazy. Throw in a dangerous spirit hot on her trail, and it all makes for one bizarre birthday!

Critique: A wonderfully entertaining and demonstrably gifted storyteller, Shirley Harber's "Krystal Bull Rain Dancer" is especially recommended for young readers ages 10 and older. Original, superbly crafted, thoroughly engaging from beginning to end, "Krystal Bull Rain Dancer" will leave its enthusiastic readers looking eagerly toward Harber's next novel! A popular addition for school and community library collections, it should be noted that "Krystal Bull Rain Dancer" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

The Outcast Oracle
Laury A. Egan
Humanist Press
1777 'T' Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
9780931779367, $10.99, 205 pp.,

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Charlene Beth "Charlie" Whitestone has been deserted by her parents in 1959 western New York. She's left in the custody of her grandfather, C.B.: a charming con artist, moonshiner and religious fraud who inducts her into his various enterprises while encouraging her dreams of becoming a writer. When C.B. suddenly dies, Charlie is left alone to use her wits and resourcefulness to take charge of her life, all the while wrestling with the morality of continuing her grandfather's schemes. Then a handsome cowboy turns up, insinuating himself into C.B.'s religion business and into Charlie's heart. Soon he has Charlie performing staged "miracles," plunging her deeper into a lucrative but troubling web of deceit.

Critique: A deftly woven plot populated by memorable characters make "The Outcast Oracle" a riveting read from beginning to end. A kind of updated "Elmer Gantry" style novel, "The Outcast Oracle" is very highly recommended for young readers ages 14 and up. An entertaining and literarily elegant work of contemporary fiction, "The Outcast Oracle" will make an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections. It should be noted that "The Outcast Oracle" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

What Did Jesus Say
Rev. Terry Allan Christian
Divine Publications
315 South Coast Highway 101, Suite U-22
Encinitas, CA 92024
9780983984818, $19.95, 170 pp.,

Synopsis: Devoide of interpretation, commentary or opinion of man, "What Did Jesus Say: The Seven Messages from the Master" presents the simple and profound messages of Jesus. The messages comprising "What Did Jesus Say" contain over 500 Bible verses spoken directly by Jesus as recorded in the red letter edition of the NKJV Bible and are organized by subject. Each message will strengthen the Christian reader and lead them to achieving a peaceful life in Christ.

Critique: Beautifully presented from first page to last, "What Did Jesus Say" provides an intensely personal experience. Inspired and inspiring, "What Did Jesus Say" is highly recommended reading for all Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should also be noted that "What Did Jesus Say" is available as an audio book recorded by Rev. Terry Allan Christian (Divine Publications, 9780983984832, $14.95, One CD).

The Fund Drive
Donald Wellington
Dorrance Publishing Company
701 Smithfield Street, 3rd floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3906
9781434928467, $11.00, 110 pp.,

Synopsis: David Argyll is a quiet, unassuming young man, although he has a doctorate degree in economics and an assistant professor in the university. He deeply believes in the noble art of teaching, in helping to mold young minds, in showing them the proper path to learning, and not in directing them to digest the latest fads that have nothing to do with reality. Unfortunately for him, only one colleague shares his beliefs about the teaching profession, an older man from a much nobler generation, a friend and confidant. But he is about to leave this world for the next, ravaged as he is by a terrible illness. Will David be able to reconcile his loss and the differing opinion he has with his seniors in the university?

Critique: An deftly written novel that quickly engages the readers full attention, "The Fund Drive" is as entertaining as it is thoughtful and thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended reading, "The Fund Drive" would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Fiction collections. It should also be noted that "The Fund Drive" is available in a Kindle edition ($6.00).

A Defense of Dignity
Christopher Kaczor
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268033262, $27.00, 216 pp.,

Synopsis: "A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience" investigates whether each human being has intrinsic dignity and whether the very concept of "dignity" has a useful place in contemporary ethical debates. Explored is a broad range of issues addressed in contemporary bioethics, including whether there is a duty of "procreative beneficence," the ethics of ectopic pregnancy, and the possibility of "rescuing" human embryos with human wombs or artificial wombs. Also covered are issues relevant to the end of life, including physician-assisted suicide, provision of food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state, and how to proceed with organ donation following death. Finally, what are the duties and prerogatives of health care professionals who refuse in conscience to take part in activities that they regard as degrading to human dignity? Should they be forced to do what they consider to be violations of the patient's well being, or does patient autonomy always trump the conscience of a health care professional? Grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, "A Defense of Dignity" argues that all human beings from the beginning to the end of their lives should be treated with respect and considers how this belief should be applied in controversial cases. It should also be noted that "A Defense Of Dignity" is available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Critique: In "A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience", author Christopher Kaczor (Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University, Lost Angeles, California) draws upon Catholic theology and moral traditions with an especially persuasive and well reasoned clarity. Of special note is his chapter on 'Conscientious Objection and health Care'. Enhanced with extensive Notes and bibliography, "A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience" is a welcome and highly recommended contribution to our national dialogue and a valued acquisition for academic library General Philosophy and Medical Ethics Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Julie Summers

Klausner's Bookshelf

Heart of Venom
Jennifer Estep
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451689006, $7.99,

In Ashland two giants attack Gin Blanco and Finn Lane, but the former assassin and her friend kill them. Finn suffered some bruises to his ribs so he plans to ask the Air-elemental dwarf Jo-Jo Deveraux to help him heal; Gin will use the disposal services of Jo-Jo's sister Sophia the cook to get rid of the corpses.

Two days later, Gin and others enjoy a day at Jo-Jo's salon when Fire-elemental siblings assault the establishment. They nearly kill the owner and snatch her sibling. Raging Gin needs to control her "Spider" as she needs to identify who the kidnappers are and why they obviously targeted Sophia. Although her estranged lover Owen Grayson understands the risk as the odds are humongous that they will die, he insists on having her back. Meanwhile Gin learns the details of Sophia's first torturous abduction by Grimes.

The latest Elemental Assassin dark urban fantasy (see Deadly Sting) is a grim thriller with a mounting death toll as no one harms one of Gin's buds and lives very long afterward though the Grimes may prove the exception to the rule. The plot enables the audience to learn what Grimes did to Sophia the first time she was held captive and fills in more of the protagonist's past. Although the overarching premise fails to move forward, fans will enjoy Spider's revenge.

Mystery Man
Kristen Ashley
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455599189, $6.00,

In Denver, randomly at night for the last eighteen months, the Mystery Man has slipped into the bed of book editor Gwendolyn Kidd, but by morning he is gone. She has no idea who he is but knows she wants to see his face and body as they always make love in the dark; he is her one.

Darla arrives screaming for Gwen's sister Ginger. Gwen asks the upset intruder what is going on; Darla responds by pointing her fingers in the shape of a gun at Gwen's head. The Mystery Man security expert Cabe "Hawk" Delgado comes out of the shadows to protect Gwen. In daylight he is no longer the man of her nocturnal dreams though she still wants him but hates his bullying her.

The latest Dream Man romance (see Wild Man and Law Man) is an engaging suspense in which yin and yang opposites come together. Although he, as the sun and she as Sedna the dwarf planet, requires a major reader adjustment, fans will enjoy this alpha-omega relationship drama as Mystery Man learns the downside of ultra-arrogance is falling in love with your sub.

Debra Webb
9781455527601, $6.00

Eric "The Player" Spears sends photos of three Jane Doe victims to Birmingham PD Deputy Chief of the Special Problems Unit Jess Harris. Although she wants to take down the taunting serial killer, whose case haunts her from when she failed to end his terror while she was an FBI profiler at Quantico, Jess has to work on a recent child kidnapping case.

The dormant for thirteen years Man in the Moon apparently has returned after sending a special gift to BPD from his last abduction. Over three decades ago a little girl was taken from her home on the Harvest Moon night and every year on that anniversary for nineteen straight years another child was snatched when it ended. Now a new victim young Janey has been snatched; meanwhile Jess' boss and lover BPD Police Chief Dan Burnett learns that the Player has a cult scrutinizing every move Jess makes including perhaps the possibly she is pregnant.

The latest Faces of Evil police procedural (see Obsession, Impulse, Power, Rage and Revenge) is an exciting thriller as the heroine deals with nasty competing cases, her sister and her second chance relationship with Dan. The Player case will remind readers of Kevin Bacon's The Following while the Man in the Moon will remind the audience of the 1980 Atlanta Child Murders as Ruthless spins an entertaining web.

Loss of Innocence
Richard North Patterson
55 Baker Street, 7th Floor, South Block
London, England, W1U 8EW
9781623650926, $26.99,

In September 2011 on Martha's Vineyard, sexagenarian Whitney Dane and thirtyish movie starlet Carla Pacelli meet for the first time. Though twice her companion's age, Whitney and pregnant Carla loved the same man the late affluent writer Benjamin Blaine only four plus decades apart.

Whitney thinks back to the summer of love when she fell from grace. In June 1968, twenty-one year old upper class Whitney and her social equal Peter Brooks set the date to marry in September. She believes Peter will enable her to emulate the perfect relationship of her parents as he exceeds their son-in-law metrics. However, while swimming off Martha's Vineyard, Whitney meets charismatic enigmatic Ben Blaine, who dropped out of college to join RFK's presidential run that ended in assassination. Still shaken by what occurred, Ben returned home where he shakes up everything about family that Whitney believed as true.

Though lacking the suspense of its predecessor Fall From Grace (ironically that story takes place 40 plus years after this tale), Loss of Innocence is a fascinating look at social classes during riotousness 1968; as Ben awakens an independent streak in toe the line conservative Whitney. Leisurely-paced, the backdrop of war, assassinations and riots counter the summer of love with Ben mentoring Whitney about a volatile ardent world outside of coastal old money Massachusetts.

The Returned
Jason Mott
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778315339, $24.95,

Agents of the International Bureau of the Returned arrive at the home of Harold and Lucille Hargrave in Acadia. Accompanying them is eight year old Jacob who drowned on August 15, 1966. The child tells his stunned father the same joke involving a cow he told him before the accident over five decades ago.

Harold refuses to accept the Returned is real though they have been in the news and this child knows Jacob inside out. Still he is convinced the lad is a fake yet he cannot explain why the global sham as more of the Returned comes home; many of them placed in camps guarded by the military like here in Acadia. On the other hand, believer Lucille is positive that God has created a miracle reversal of the rapture. Pastor Robert Peters initially thinks the devil is tricking everyone until his beloved returns. Other living want the Returned gone while those held in captivity want their freedom; confrontation arrives in Acadia and elsewhere around the world. Lucille vows to God to protect his miracles.

The Returned is a fabulous thriller that focuses on the impact on the living by the dead coming back to life. Incredibly deep, the profound storyline contains limited action with the emphasis more on how people like the elderly Hargrave couple think and react to Jacob and his kind; and the legal rights the deadly Returned have (who owns the estate of an executed will). Jason Mott provides a fresh unique take on the dead coming back to life.

Declan's Cross
Carla Neggers
9780778314639, $24.95

FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan take some R&R together in Declan's Cross, Ireland. At the same time, marine biologist Julianne Maroney accepts an invitation from Lindsey Hargreaves to leave Rock Point, Maine for Declan's Cross to escape the rejection by Colin's brother Andy. Worried about Julianne, Andy emails Colin to make sure she is safe.

Lindsey fails to meet Julianne at the airport as arranged. Thus Julianne drives a rental to her destination where she is unhappy to see Colin who reminds her of his sibling breaking her heart. Stolen art recovery expert Emma wonders if Julianne coming to this town is tied to the art theft ten years ago that her detective grandfather failed to resolve; the valuable loot remains missing while the situation perilously intensifies for the visiting New Englanders and others from a clever merciless predator.

The third Sharpe and Donovan romantic mystery (see Heron's Cove and Saint's Gates) is an enjoyable thriller that centers on art thefts a decade and ago and in the present. The exciting tale can turn confusing as locale and time change back and forth, but still readers will relish this strong suspenseful storyline as secrets reveal a shocking conspiracy.

Love Overdue
Pamela Morsi
9780778315377, $7.99

Dorothy "DJ" Jarrow is euphoric when Verdant, Kansas hires her as the librarian. She knows before arriving in the rural town that she must maintain the image of the good girl librarian; which she muses should prove easy as only once eight years ago on vacation at South Padre Island did she let her inner bad girl out. On the other hand after her arrival, DJ is unprepared for the local social media in which unverified gossip travels faster than the speed of light since the truth is irrelevant.

DJ finds she has a dilemma as Sanderson the pharmacist is "the hot guy" from eight years ago; he is also the son of the board member who hired her. Ironically he does not act as if he had the sex of his life unlike how she still feels; Scott does not even recognize her due to her present librarian look instead of the past heated look. Scott's mother and Melvil Dewey Jr. the terrier have plans for this couple.

Love Overdue is a charming amusing romance in which flashbacks to that heated vacation gives the tale a second chance feel. Though improbable without a humongous infusion of Serendipity (almost as much as the movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale), readers will appreciate the love story between the prim pharmacist and the proper librarian.

Against The Mark
Kat Martin
9780778314677, $7.99

Briggs and Brodie Private Investigators are located on the Hollywood Hills estate of septuagenarian Ellie Stiles who recommends clients to the partners. An elderly man tries to break Ty Brodie's nose while the ex-marine deftly avoids beating up the jealous sexagenarian whose wife Ellie convinced to hire the detectives to determine if her mate is cheating.

After resolving that by Ty taking a punch, Ellie introduces him to her grandniece Haley Warren from Chicago. Three months ago Haley's estranged dad died when his powerboat exploded due to a gas leak. Her dad's second wife Betty Jean, whom Haley has never met, begged Haley to come to Los Angeles because she is convinced her husband was murdered due to a multimillion dollar art theft case he was looking into. With John Briggs away, Ellie tells Ty that Haley will have his back as his partner on the inquiry to the sleuth's chagrin.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon (see Against the Fire, Against the Law, Against the Storm, Against the Night and Against the Sun) is an engaging romantic mystery as the case takes precedent over the attraction. Though Ty would prefer using his lower head, his upper head prevails because he diligently keeps his new partner safe from those who want the investigators buried with her dad even if Haley fails to cooperate. Haley's Mother comes across as amoral making it easier for her father to abandon his family; still readers will enjoy this taut romantic suspense.

The Hero
Robyn Carr
9780778314592, $7.99

Accompanied by her three years old daughter Mercy, Devon McAllister walks towards the coast motivated to reach 101 before resting as she flees the Douglas County Fellowship religious compound that she once thought was safe for her and her child. Eight hours into her trek, Rawley Goode picks the pair up and takes them to the bar where he works in Thunder Point in Coos County. He serves them breakfast and afterward when Devon says she will pay his kindness back when she can, he insists she pass it on to someone else in need as he was in her shoes at one time.

With his tweener son Austin, Widower Spencer Lawson recently left San Antonio for Thunder Point as the high school athletic director and coach. He overhears Devon and reclusive Rawley chatting about relying on a stranger and fleeing the cult. When the bar's owner Coop and his Coast Guard wife Sarah arrive, Rawley introduces them and Spencer to his second cousin once removed Devon; Coop knows his employee has no family. As Devon and Spencer fall in love, bot know their kids come first, especially when the cult abducts Mercy.

The third Thunder Point romantic suspense (see The Wanderer and The Newcomer) is a taut thriller that opens with a woman in peril receiving help from strangers before spinning into a romance and finally into a tense dangerous rescue mission. Although the villain is to unrealistically evil, readers will appreciate the return to Thunder Point where several heroes come to the aid of a beleaguered woman and her preschooler.

Tear You Apart
Megan Hart
9780778314776, $14.95

Fortyish art gallery employee Elisabeth Amblin knows something is wrong with her emotionally as she deals poorly with the empty nest since the twins left home and worse with a tundra-frozen marriage to a husband who loves his work not her; in fairness she reciprocates his feelings. At the gallery, Elisabeth and photographer Will Roberts meet with both attracted to each other, but neither feels right about an affair that both covet but know is wrong. Still each succumbs to the desire and they begin a tryst while Elisabeth and Will recognize their primary lives must never cross except at the gallery. Soon both must decide about the future together forever or never.

Tear You Apart is a super character-driven erotica as the protagonists are intensely fully developed and the significant others in their lives enhance the cheating relationship. Elisabeth's synesthetic condition augments a powerful look at filling an emotional vacuum though no matter what she or her beloved decide to do as betrayal, anguish and pain battle belonging, passion and need; someone will be torn apart.

A Question Of Honor
Charles Todd
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062237156, $25.99,

In 1908 India, British Lieutenant Thomas Wade is the prime suspect in the murders of his parents though he is currently heading home on escort duty. When Wade returns to his regiment in the Northwest Frontier, he is accused of killing his parents and a family of three in England. He flees into the tribal area of the Khyber Pass and soon afterward is pronounced dead though no corpse was found.

In 1918 France, Bess Crawford serves as a nurse near the front. From a dying soldier she learns that Wade may be alive. Her retired father had been Wade's regiment officer and his rep was devastated by the scandalous atrocity; Bess also knew the accused as a good soldier and person. Thus she tries to learn whether Wade survived the lawless tribal area and if he committed the homicides.

Team Todd provides another strong early twentieth century historical in their fabulous fifth nurse Bess Crawford mystery (see An Unmarked Grave) as Edwardian India and England, and WWI France come to life enhanced by a profound historiographical feel to the engaging storyline. With the timely horrors of the front and the downside of serving in a colonial outpost vividly described, series fans will want to know whether Wade is a killer or another victim.

The Whole Enchilada
Diane Mott Davidson
9780061348174, $26.99

In Aspen Meadow, Colorado, everyone, especially her buddies at Amour Anonymous (AA), who knew Holly Ingleby is shocked by her death while walked to her car just after a seventeenth birthday party thrown for her teenage son Drew and her friend Goldy Schulz's teenager Arch. Goldy feels terrible as she fears her AA friend died from the food her Goldilocks Catering provided for the event at the country club.

Though the official cause of death was medication overdose, Goldy feels obligated to investigate. She begins her inquiry by reviewing the notes she took years ago at their AA encounters. At the same time, someone stabs a person who somewhat looks like Goldy and soon afterward an attacker assults the caterer. Not one to back down, Goldy searches for a ruthless killer before she becomes the next victim.

The latest Goldy Schulz culinary amateur sleuth (see Crunch Time) is an exciting whodunit as the past comes back to haunt the present. Fast-paced, readers will relish this engaging mystery that contains a wonderful coda surprise denoting what The Whole Enchilada is to Goldy; and also the usual complement of recipes.

Human Remains
Elizabeth Haynes
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062276766, $15.99,

When her cat Lucy comes home covered with a malodorous sticky crap, Briarstone Police Department crime analyst Annabel Hayer goes outside to look for the source. She sees a light next door in a vacant home so she calls the cops. They find her neighbor Shelley who Annabel met once and assumed left the area with her partner without telling her; but apparently died months ago.

Feeling guilty and in shock, Annabel searches the files for near identical deaths in the relatively small borough from January through September 2012. To her astonishment, Annabel uncovers 24 similar cases; most of which were not investigated as there were no evidence of foul play. Annabel provides a strong argument that a serial killer preys on lonely people. As the cops make inquiries, the psychopath targets the lonely thirty-eight year old single crime analyst who fits his profile.

This is an exciting police procedural that predominantly rotates first person accounts between Annabel and clever serial killer Colin Friedland; though the victims also provide insight. This technique enables the reader to go deep Into the Darkest Corner of the minds of the analyst and the psychopath; but also somewhat rehash the same event though from diverse perspectives.

Night's Mistress
Amanda Ashley
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420130416, $7.99,

For centuries, males whether they are mundane mortal, vampire or even vampire hunter, coveted Mara (see Night's Kiss) though their agendas vary. She kept her distance emotionally until recently as she has not gotten over the rejection from human Kyle Bowden the passionate artist who dumped her horrified by her confession that she is a vampire. Adding fear to her despondency is her incredible dark powers rapidly are waning as she apparently begins a conversion back to human making her vulnerable to enemies.

Former creation and lover from hundreds of years ago, Logan Blackwood offers Mara sanctuary in his luxurious Hollywood abode. Desperate she accepts. However, as Logan and Mara reignite their ancient attraction, she learns she miraculously carries Kyle's offspring who seeks her out to tell her he still offers to her his soul.

The fifth Children of the Night romantic urban fantasy (see Night's Touch and Night's Pleasure) is the strongest entry in a terrific series due to the angst choices confronting the emotionally tormented lead female. Mara holds the stunning storyline together as she mentally struggles with acceptance of her unwanted changes, her need to make up her mind between the two caring hunks and what is best for her baby who comes first over her needs and that of her lovers.

Ready To Die
Lisa Jackson
9781420118513, $7.99

In Grizzly Falls, Montana the sniper waited impatiently for the right moment to kill the female on skis. When he pulls the trigger he smirks one down and five to go. His next target is Pinewood Sheriff Dan Grayson who for a few hours with his nieces will spend Christmas alone as he always does.

Nate Santana proposes to twice-married Police Detective Regan Pescoli who thinks of her failed marriages except for her beloved son and daughter. Flustered by the proposal, Pescoli decides to quit the force so drives to her boss Grayson to inform him of her decision on Christmas Day. Meanwhile as Sturgis the dog barks, the sniper shoots Grayson when Pescoli arrives. She is on his death list but the timing is off so he leaves. Her arrival saves Grayson's life though he remains in intensive care near death. Pescoli delays her resignation to work with Detective Selena Alvarez on finding the killer taunting the townsfolk through the media with "Who's Next?"

The latest Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli police procedural (see Left to Die, Chosen to Die, Born to Die and Afraid to Die) is very personal as the killer has a to do list that includes cops. The storyline is at its best when the focus is on the murders or on Pescoli's personal life as that has impact on the prime plot. Still this is an enjoyable serial killer thriller although there is some meaningless padding involving tertiary characters, and the culprit, a support player in previous tales, seems an unlikely psychopath for returning fans.

Home On The Range
Susan Fox
9781420131901, $6.99

"Home On The Range." Evan Kincaid fled Caribou Crossing, Canada for Cornell and ultimately Manhattan. A decade later he is a wealthy investment counselor, who loves his job and Cynthia his attorney girlfriend. His most loyal client Gianni Vitale pulls out the friend card to persuade Evan to look into the Crazy Horse Dude Ranch in British Columbia as a possible investment venture since owner TJ Cousins plans an expansion. To his chagrin though he lived in horse country, Evan never rode a horse and now he is going to a ranch as an undercover guest. Worse Evan hates returning to Caribou Crossing site of the ranch, but plans to avoid his mother Brooke and his BFF Jess Bly who he left after their only sexual encounter. Hard to do when TJ is Jess, married and divorced from Dave Cousins; but she never told Evan about Robin.

"Caribou Crossing." In 1995, Miriam Bly lies in a coma while her husband Wade, their seven years old daughter Jess, and her mother Rose the school teacher, worry. He fears his decision to take over the family ranch proved too much for his beloved wife, a townie daughter of a banker. He vows if she returns to him, he will give up Bly Ranch though he and Jess love living there.

Although Cynthia is stereotyped as urban shallowness and Jess is a caring nature mother, Home On The Range is an engaging somewhat thin Canadian second chance at love ranch romance that brings to life picturesque British Columbia. Caribou Crossing is an enjoyable reprint of an e-book novella that focuses on the love between Jess' parents when they first moved to the ranch.

The Beasts of Upton Puddle
Simon West-Bulford
Medallion Press, Inc.
100 South River Street, Aurora, IL 60506
9781605425207, $9.99,

In Upton Puddle, though she conceals her motive for employing the tweener from him, Mrs. Merrynether hires twelve year old Joe Copper to do menial tasks for her veterinary clinic after he came to her to help an injured raccoon. His new employer recognizes the tweener's intelligence and kindness, traits he has used to deal with Duggan the bully and will need when he learns his true mission is to protect mankind from the Conclave of dragons by leading a force of various beasts; some considered mythical only.

Redwar industries CEO Argoyle Redwar wants to possess mysterious Merrynether Mansion and will use any amoral ruse to succeed. He cons Mrs. Merrynether into telling him where the Conclave's Pyronesia Island is located and heads there with his menagerie to take control of the volatile dragons. Though not ready, Joe leads a team of mythical misfits as they try to prevent Redwar from seizing power.

Targeting middle school students, The Beasts of Upton Puddle is a wonderful fantasy starring a twelve year old boy whose caring empathy causes him problems and leads to errors in judgment when he commands his team as he struggles with any of them (and even the enemy) getting hurt. Holding the exciting storyline focused, Joe knows what it is like to lose someone so he hates for anyone to suffer pain or death. Yet he has a "two-front" war to fight as he, Mrs. Merrynether and their odd allies battle a ruthless avaricious psychopath and if they survive him and his horde perhaps one day soon the belligerent dragons.

Born of Persuasion
Jessica Dotta
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414375557, $13.99,

In 1838, teenager Julia Elliston learns her mom committed suicide and with her abusive father already dead she is now the property of a guardian who plans to sequester her as a companion to an ailing woman in Scotland. She tells everyone that mama died suddenly from cholera while considering her options as she does not want to be the poor relative toiling in servitude as an exile.

Her hope resided with her betrothed Edward but since he became ordained as a vicar, Julia knows he cannot marry her as the daughter of an atheist; as her drowning should not pull her beloved under the water too. Family friend Mrs. Windham offers money to Miss Pitts to find a husband for Julia who insists only a gentleman will do. Lady Foxmore shockingly offers to sponsor Julia, but hides her real motive from the lass who is the focus of an odious wager.

This Price of Privilege early Victorian inspirational romance is a terrific historical that brings to life the era through the first-hand account of Julia. The support cast is solid with everyone insisting they know what is best for Julia (and themselves) while no one considers what the protagonist wants. Born of Persuasion belongs to Julia who insists she will not accept being property for others to discard though she will learn how difficult this will prove for someone without rights.

Downtown Strut: An Edna Ferber Novel
Ed Ifkovic
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464201554, $24.95,

In 1927 Manhattan, playwright Edna Ferber knows this is her season as she has two productions opening on wintry Broadway. Just after Christmas, Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern have provided a musical version of Show Boat; the following night Jed Harris' production of her collaboration with George Kauffman, The Royal Family opens in spite of the potential law suit by raging Ethel Barrymore.

Through Waters Turpin, the teenage son of her black housekeeper, Ferber has met several talented black writers and performers who are keys to the Harlem Renaissance; she helps them break the previously white only ceiling. When she finds the corpse of Roddy Parsons, who she got a part in the Show Boat chorus, in his Harlem apartment, Ferber connects the deceased young man with Harris, who denies knowing him or any other of the black artists. Ferber soon uncovers proof that many of the Negros involved in the Harlem Renaissance detested Harris and Parsons, but not which one's venom led to murder.

The latest Edna Ferber historical amateur sleuth (see Escape Artist and Make Believe) is an enjoyable period piece that brings to life New York City in late December 1927. The whodunit is fun and the look into the Harlem Renaissance and the Ferber Broadway season engaging with tidbits like Show Boat's Negro Chorus breaking a glass ceiling of whites only. Although the relationship between Ferber and Harris becomes confusing as she bounces back and forth between attraction and loathing (which seems real but difficult to follow), readers will appreciate this 1920s mystery.

Jump the Gun: An Annabelle Starkey Mystery
Zoe Burke
Poisoned Pen
9781464201639, $24.95

Annabelle Starkey loves shoes, hats and old movies as she is Joan Cusack sidekick loser in Working Girl. At a book convention in Chicago, she meets film aficionado Mickey Paxton, who makes Annabelle feels she landed the lead female role in the Sea of Love. Mickey persuades Annabelle to stay with him at the Royal Opal Resort in Vegas.

In Vegas, his Richard Gere (Pretty Woman) acts more like Johnny Depp in Public Enemies. When he rushes down to the lobby, Goober the goon with a gun invades their room and grabs Annabelle. She escapes and is on the run with Paxton. When she learns someone murdered her friend Cassie while she was house and cat-sitting with Bonkers in Annabelle's San Francisco home, she feels guilt.

Annabelle with her movie references makes for an appealing zany protagonist who changes from the sidekick to the lover to the damsel in distress in this enjoyable screwball comedy. Although the mystery never gels beyond madcap, readers will appreciate Annabelle's "awful" awesome adventure.

White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen
9781464201608, $24.95

In Trafalgar, British Columbia, someone murders high school teacher Cathy Lindsay while she walked her dog Spot. Assisted by Constable Molly Smith, Detective Sergeant John Winters leads the homicide investigation into finding out why a sniper shot and killed a seemingly boring mother of two and married to one who taught English to bored students.

Thus the cops look closer into the personal life of the victim and find a mess as Ms. Lindsay was a serial cheater going from one lover to another and suffered from unrequited love for a math teacher with Special Forces experience. Winters tracks down the husband Ralph away in Victoria on a business trip but finds him with a lover. Meanwhile Molly meets and is attracted to Adam Tocek. Smith and Winters soon fear that the assassin had no personal interest whatsoever in the victim except for the kill and randomly will murder again if not stopped.

The latest Constable Molly Smith Canadian police procedural (see Among the Departed, Valley of the Lost and Negative Image) is an exhilarating investigative whodunit that grips the audience as several suspects surface. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this entry though the resolution proves reality is not necessarily interesting.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
Emily Croy Barker
Pamela Dorman Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670023660, $27.95,

The mouse stuck on the glue trap reminds Nora that her roommate Dane allowed her cat Astrophel to escape their house and be run over. Using expensive olive oil she frees the rodent but cannot tell Adam as he just told her he is marrying someone else. At the English Department, an irritated Naomi lectures her for being late on her dissertation documents and for her last second request to study Donne at Cambridge; Nora admits she is stuck. At the library she literally bangs heads with Farmer Dahmer.

Feeling like she will implode as her self-esteem has been nuked; Nora wanders into the woods until she gets lost and finds a nineteenth century cemetery. She looks at some of the inscriptions and reads out loud a creepy poem etched on a stone with today's month and day only in 1833. Suddenly her need to escape her depressing realty becomes true as Nora finds herself encountering nasty fairies and soon afterward Aruendiel the magician, He explains she has been spelled multiple times and must quickly learn to use magic if she wants to stay alive and also one day to go home.

This is a wonderful leisurely-paced romantic fantasy as the protagonist learns that sometimes you get what you wished for. With a nod to classical English literature including poetry, fans will enjoy this engaging good and evil tale though also wonder about the heroine's go with the flow attitude rather than more of a shocked and awed Nora "Through the Looking Glass".

David L. Golemon
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250013002, $25.99,

In 1556 BCE, Moses the Deliverer leads the Hebrew tribes across the shallow Sea of Reeds while the Egyptian Crown Prince Amun-her-khepeshef pursues those who caused the plagues with an army assault when the tide comes. In 1520 BCE on the Plain of Moab, Joshua leads a Hebrew army surrounding the city of Jericho when he makes a deal with Kalel, chief of the Tribe of Jeddah, to deploy their Golia in return for allowing them to vanish. In 1943 urns are found at the ancient site Jericho. In 1949, a few selected people see the fossilized remains of what looks more wolf than human inside these urns before they securely are placed in Department 5656's vault 22871 Grimm.

In the present, the Event Group, led by Colonel Jack Collins, is assigned to learn the truth about the creatures in the urns. They follow clues that lead to Romania's Carpathian Mountains where an ancient treasure allegedly exists. However, others with varying but deadly agendas want the treasure too while the Golia in their temple ferociously guard it from outsiders.

Over the top of the Carpathian Mountains is a fun fast paced Event Group thriller (see Ripper and Legacy) as several teams violently fight for the treasure but learn first-hand the biblical passage of "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" if you live long enough. Filled with action, several myths, and terrific ancient and other historical passages, readers will enjoy visiting "The land of the Impaler" with Collins and the Event Group as our guide.

Jaguar Fever
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402266959, $7.99,

Connor Anderson and his soul mate US Army Captain Kathleen McKnight met in the Amazon Rain Forest when he rescued her from a drug cartel (see Savage Hunger). Connor's sister Maya feels somewhat alone but not quite like it had been when it was her, Connor and their mom growing up as the only shifter family she knew of back in the States. Now she has met a community of jaguar-shifters including blood relatives and hopes to emulate her sibling by finding her mate but not until she has met the field.

Maya enters the Jungle Cat Fever Club shifter bar to meet her cousins when Wade Patterson, sitting with his brother David, sees her. He has not forgotten her from when he rescued the Anderson siblings and the officer last summer. Wade knows he wants her, but he and Wade are on a deadly shifter-trafficking case and fears placing Maya in peril yet he still wants to claim her. However, he fails to account for his woman's obstinacy as she chooses to meet all the shifter hunks.

Shifting between Texas and the Amazon Rainforest, the second jaguar romantic suspense urban fantasy is an exciting thriller with a nod to Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this thrilling tale as love and danger collide.

The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen
Lindsay Ashford
9781402282126, $14.99

In 1817 Jane Austen died when she was forty-one years old. The family governess Anne Sharp who loved the author was heartbroken but took some mementos secretly. In 1843, still missing Jane, Anne sends a locket of Austen's hair to Dr. Zechariah Stillar to test as the former governess refuses to believe her beloved Jane died of natural causes when the entire rest of the family lived many more years. Using a test devised by Mister James Marsh, Dr. Stillar tells Anne that the hair contained fifteen times the normal amount of arsenic. He further says Miss Austen was almost definitely poisoned but bringing the perpetrator to justice twenty-six after the murder occurred is virtually impossible. Anne looks back at the extended family while re-reading Mansfield Park and the other novels for clues as to whom murdered Jane Austen.

Based on the real Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen, Lindsay Ashford provides a wonderful historical mystery and family drama from the perspective of the family governess at the time the author died. The brisk storyline grips the audience, especially Janeites, with the "cold case" used as a means for Jane Austen's fans to learn more about her relationships while wondering whether one of her family members murdered her.

Tall, Dark, and Vampire
Sara Humphreys
9781402274060, $6.99

In New York City, Olivia Hollingsworth owns the aptly named Coven night club; a place where her all female vampire coven meet. An Alpha, Olivia is frustrated with her newbie Maya who flaunts rules like the adolescent she is by dining on humans in the club. However, the hunk and blood makes Olivia hot but under control when her creator Vincent, who she has not communicated with in decades, telepathically says she obviously has not had sex in centuries.

Doug Paxton enters the club to the shock of Olivia as he was her true love when they were human but he has been dead for three centuries. Doug also is taken aback by their encounter as he knows the proprietor from his dreams and senses she is trouble. His NYPD homicide detective partner Tom Daly defuses the tension as he explains they are investigating the murder of Ronald Davis found in a nearby dumpster on Second; his friends said he was at the Coven last night with Maya. As more homicides follow the vampiress and the cop team up trying to end one of her kind's killings; while also dealing with their still beating love.

This rousing romantic urban fantasy returns to Humphreys' world (see the Amoveo shapeshifter series - Untamed and Undone, etc.) with a refreshing new focus on a different paranormal species. The sleuthing is terrific as Olivia and Doug provide fans with a tour of supernatural Manhattan, but it is the second chance at love between two strong individuals that enhances this entertaining thriller.

Plain Fear: Forgiven
Leanna Ellis
9781402279799, $14.99

Though he did it to save the lives of former cop Englisher Roc Girouard and his shunned wife Rachel, Samuel Fisher feels guilt for committing fratricide following his shooting his brother Jacob; even if his sibling had become the vampire Akiva. Even his sibling's "funeral" feels wrong though man of god Roberto Hellman insists this is the only way. At the same time Remiel the Angel takes Jacob with him though the latter pleads to let him go back to keep Samuel off the dark vampiric path he followed; the angel says he is too late.

Meanwhile their father sends Samuel to help his injured other brother Levi. He prefers not to go as he fears bringing his tsuris to Levi who married Rachel's sister Hannah who Samuel once courted but staying seems worse especially with his Mamm's fussing. Soon he and his friends including his first love Naomi face a vampiric horde while Jacob begs Remiel again to let him try to help his brother.

The third Plain Fear Amish-vampire urban fantasy (see and Forsaken) is an engaging thriller as Samuel struggles between surrender to the dark side like Jacob did and adhering to scripture. Though the level of remorse rivals the stratospheric suffering of Rachel in Forbidden giving the entertaining storyline a deja vu feel, series fans will enjoy this entry wondering which way the beleaguered protagonist will go.

Strong Rain Falling: A Caitlin Strong Novel
Jon Land
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765331502, $25.99,

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong travels to Brown University with Dylan Torres, the son of her lover Cort Wesley Masters. In Providence, gunmen try to kill Dylan.

At the same time in San Antonio, gunmen also try to kill Dylan's brother, Luke. Trying to understand the motive to kill the two teens, Strong and Masters uncover a scheme that goes back to the origin of Mexican drug cartels in 1919, which led to an opium war between the traffickers and Texas Rangers including Caitlin's great-grandfather, William Ray Strong. With help from German philosophy student Guillermo Paz, Strong realizes the last descendent of the drug cartel founding family Ana Callas Guajardo has a sinister scheme to destroy the United States.

The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong Vengeance and Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger and her fascinating adversary a descendent of the first generation drug cartel chieftain. Though the transitions between chapters feel misplaced, readers will enjoy this strong fast-paced entry includes fascinating Ranger and drug cartel intertwined history supporting the contemporary intertwined real and cyber war.

Cat in an Alien X-Ray
Carole Nelson Douglas
9780765327482, $24.99

Huckster Silas T. Farnum persuades reluctant public relations expert Temple Barr to take him and his soon to be completed (on the Strip) Area 54 as a client. She has doubts as the man seems more a Wizard of Oz con artist than a showman. However, Farnum insists he has legitimate proof that ET arrived. Instead two human corpses are found at the Area 54 construction site.

While Temple deals with her flamboyant new client, her fiance Matt Devine conceals that he counsels serial killer Kitty the Cutter. Temple's ex-lover Max Kinsella comes back to Vegas though his memory remains spotty at best as he seeks Kitty. However, as his burden in life is to keep his beloved pet Temple safe, Midnight Louie and his purr-ball mates work the case of an alien species invading his tail-space.

The latest Midnight Louie Mystery (see Cat in a White Tie and Tails) is fabulous feline frolic with intriguing science fiction elements enhancing the engaging investigative storyline. The major human triangular subplots move forward, while Louie meets ET.

Beyond the Bridge
Tom MacDonald
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090907, $26.95,

In Dorchester, someone crucified accused pedophile Father Axholm. A week later, another accused pedophile Father Barboza was nailed to a pier on the Boston side of the Charles. The Archdiocese struggles with the media frenzy; while the press relishes covering the avenging killer.

Barboza's brother, mute and deaf Blackie arrives at Saint Jude Thaddeus Parish in Charlestown to ask alcoholic Dermot Sparhawk, who runs a food pantry there, to find his brother's killer and prove his sibling was not a child molester. Sparhawk says the police investigate the homicides and he has no experience whatsoever; but Blackie insists money talks to cops. He prefers the ex-Boston College football player make inquiries. When two more priests die, a reluctant Sparhawk starts his probe.

The prequel to The Charlestown Connection is an engaging amateur sleuth as the protagonist stumbles and fumbles his first case but keeps on charging ahead. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate Sparhawk putting together his offensive line consisting of his Micmac cousin Harraseeket Kid and his paraplegic former BC mate Buck Louis, but not accept insiders joining the rookie's squad. Still fans will appreciate Sparhawk's tour of Boston as he searches for a serial executioner killing priests named as pedophiles.

Shoot The Dog
Brad Smith
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439197561, $22.00,

In the Woodstock area of Upstate New York, farmer Virgil Cain breaks in his two new Percheron plow horses Bob and Nelly. At the same time at the bistro in Woodstock, actress Olivia Burns meets with producer Sam Sawchuck to discuss the filming of Frontier Woman in which the former will play the lead. Sam explains her second choice as director Robb Fetterman will make the movie for her and her husband Levi Brown.

The producers hire Ben and Nelly at $500 a day; but though he needs the cash Virgil soon regrets his decision as the crew makes the money not worth his time while local casino owner Ronnie Red Hawk invests in the movie. When someone murders Olivia, Virgil's lover police officer Claire Marchand investigates; but the killer has a second act starring the farmer and tweener child star Georgia.

The latest Virgil Cain mystery (see Red Means Run and Crow's Landing) is an exciting whodunit in which overall the locals and Georgia are good people; while Hollywood (too sleazy) and Ronnie are amoral slugs. The leisurely-paced storyline is fun to read as the Gary Cooper hero learns that WC Fields was right to "never work with animals or children" since Bob and Georgia steal the show.

Multiple Exposure
Ellen Crosby
9781451659283, $25.00

Her husband Nick Canning, an undercover operative with connections to the government alphabet soup agencies, vanishes as reported by the major London newspapers. His worried wife globetrotting photojournalist Sophie Medina waited in England for his return for a few months before she finally goes back to D.C. where she finds their home a bloody mess. Once the CIA is finished interviewing her, she plans to bury herself within her vocation. However, the Agency says Nick killed his boss Colin Crowne of Crowne Energy and stole some valuable logs; he was last seen in Moscow.

Currently, Sophie works a shoot of Faberge eggs at the National Gallery of Art loaned by Russian owner of Arkneft, Arkday Vasiliev, who confronts Sophie as to the whereabouts of her missing spouse. Soon afterward a murder has Sophie reassessing her situation as she realizes domestic and foreign espionage agencies has her under total surveillance while the cloak and dagger world seek Nick.

While Virginia Wine Country vineyard owner and amateur sleuth Lucie Montgomery enjoys her vintage, Ellen Crosby begins the Sophie Medina mystery series. Sophie is a terrific protagonist who holds the entertaining storyline together as the focus of several dangerous federal and foreign governmental agencies, and corrupt individuals hunt her missing husband. Although the villains are over the top of the Washington Monument, readers will relish this engaging thriller as Sophie learns that blood and oil mix.

The Choice
Brenda K. Jernigan
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781490496009, $7.99,

Three years ago Brenna Fox came home to River Run from college to find her parents dead and her younger sister Lisa shot in her hip as her father apparently lost his mind. Needing money for her sibling's surgery, Brenna accepts Vivian Rothchild's heartbreaking offer of cash if she, accompanied by her sibling, leaves town. Brenna relocates to Hollow Ridge, North Carolina where she opened up the Sleepy Hollow Inn catering to skiers with the help of Geraldine Spencer; and read the news on the rising banking career of Vivian's son, her former fiance Taylor.

When Taylor's car breaks down in Sleepy Hollow, he and his new fiancee Carol Holland take a room at Brenna's establishment. Whereas Lisa is exuberant that her hero finally came for them, Taylor and Brenna are miserable as he believes she left town with another man and she knows she cannot reveal his mom's duplicity or that will void their deal.

This is an entertaining second chance at love romance with a strong cast sacrificing their well-being for others; even Vivian did what she did out of love for her son though she learns "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Character-driven, Carol's grandmother explains the plot best with her mantra that "there is a thin line between love and hate."

Codex Born
Jim C. Hines
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756408169, $24.95,

Five centuries ago, Gutenberg discovered the true power of printed books when he learned to master Libriomancy. Now in the present, fourteen year old Jeneta Aboderin has introduced a new spin when she released a snake from her Smartphone that led to a Porters' feeding frenzy as every practitioner wants to learn how she did it. Assigned by Gutenberg as one of the 12 elite Die Zwelf Portenaere Doorkeeper Porters Isaac Vainio is the lucky one as Jeneta works under his tutelage in Copper Lake, Michigan though he admits she is more the teacher with her unique knack to bring to life e-books.

Weres report finding the murdered corpse of a wendigo with the smell of a human nearby in the Upper Peninsula. Psychiatrist Nidhi Shah is assigned the investigation. Her girlfriend Lena Greenwood the pulp fiction Dryad and Lena's boyfriend Isaac assist her. They soon realize the killer knows the Libriomancer organization as if he or she is a high ranking member and a long thought extinct rival group from the other side of the globe resurfaces with a vengeance. Isaac also fears the Devourers are playing behind the curtain wizardry.

The second Magic Ex Libris urban fantasy (see Libriomancer) is an exciting thriller with much of the fun coming from trying to name the title of a book in which a character or an object was magically taken (how else to solve a murder mystery). Action-packed and filled with humor readers will relish this entry though to understand the complex science of Libriomancy it pays to have read the first tale as newbies will feel lost in Hines quantum physics otherwise.

Days In The History Of Silence
Merethe LindstrÝm
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590515952, $14.95,

Eva the schoolteacher mother of three small children (Kirsten, Greta and Helena) let the intruder in by opening the door to his ringing the bell. Frightened by her blunder she gave him money and he left. Years have passed since the Event and the kids are adults while Eva and her physician husband Simon grow old together.

However, her fear over the last few months is that Simon has over time disengaged himself from her as he slowly stopped speaking until now he is totally silent. She looks back at other key incidents like the hiring and firing of extremely tall Marija as their housekeeper, Simon's childhood hiding along with family from the Nazis, and her other offspring a son she gave up for adoption while concealing his existence. Eva ponders whether these ghosts or others led to Simon becoming mute or does he suffer from dementia. Increasingly Eva feels isolated from her long time mate as she is no longer part of him and inversely he is detached from her; retired from teaching and the kids gone, she is alone even with Simon silently with her.

This is a powerful character-driven Norwegian family drama told from the viewpoint of beleaguered Eva the elderly caretaker of her silent husband. Readers will ponder the cause of Simon's slow descent into total silence as first he used a few words like thank you before going absolute mute. Merethe LindstrÝm provides a strong philosophical tale as she makes a profound argument that the past never fully vanishes since the ghosts of yesteryear haunt the present.

The Hypothetical Girl
Elizabeth Cohen
Other Press
9781590515822, $14.95

This entertaining collection consists of fifteen fascinating tales that focus on love in the technology age. Chloe searched for love on line while also watching "Animal Dancing" unaware the animals wonder why the humans dance around relationships when a straight line is obvious. Myra the poet and Louis the professor exchange emails filled with flirtatious limericks until she sends a love poem that ends their connection in "Death by Free Verse." The Icelandic yak farmer and the model meet on but each conceals a truth from their perfect match in "People Who Live Far, Far Away." "Life Underground" could be boring but Alana found her happy ever after in Max whom she met on the computer and that is where he will always stay in her heart. The professor, the fisherman, and the teacher form a triangle after meeting on an online cancer forum in "The Opposite of Love." Emily knew she was fading away into invisibility but cannot stop the visible girl she once was from disappearing after an online male insists she is just "The Hypothetical Girl." Finally the deer and the polar bear use Skype to discuss "Stupid Humans." This is a strong anthology that looks deeply at how to connect or not in a digital world.

Love and Lament
John Milliken Thompson
Other Press
9781590515877, $15.95

The residents of Haw County, North Carolina believe 1887 is a breakthrough year as the railroad finally arrives. Also in that same historical year, Mary Bet is born as the ninth and last child of Rezin Cicero and Susan Elizabeth Hartsoe. By the turn of the century, Mary Bet is the lone survivor as her eight older siblings are dead; as well as their mom. By 1906 her Civil War veteran father shows signs of senility while also suffering with physical ailments forcing a reluctant Mary Bet finally to take him to Morganton State Hospital; while Cattie Jordon sells the store. Over the next decade, Cicero remains at Morganton while his only surviving offspring remains single working as a clerk at the Haw County Courthouse and on call as a deputy to Sheriff Teague pursuing moonshiners. When Teague leaves to fight in WWI, Mary Bet replaces him as the state's first female sheriff.

Love and Lament is a deep vivid look at the Piedmont in the three decades preceding WWI. The storyline is mostly seen through the eyes of Mary Bet, a granddaughter of slaves. She observes the Civil War continues to hold a grip on the townsfolk as powerful as the circuit preachers while a neo industrial revolution has shaken tradition. Readers will appreciate this strong historical that will have the audience believing this is a fabulous biographical fiction.

Larry Correia
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451639087, $25.00,

Sally Faye Vierra the Traveler believes she is a Grimnoir Knight though most Actives assume she will turn into a monster. Whisper advised her to seek Jacques Montand the Grimnoir Elder. When she finds him on a church rooftop, Faye dangles Jacques over the edge while explaining why she looked for him. He sends her to what was once Berlin, but now the Dead City to meet a zombie who sees the future.

At the same time Bureau of Investigation Chief J. Edgar Hoover assigns ex-convict Jake Sullivan a Grimnoir Knight Heavy to stop the Pathfinder. He begins to put together a team to breech the Imperium to obtain a Pathfinder Detector with the assistance of Francis Stuyvesant the Mover. As part of his rapid response recruitment, Jake travels to his former residence Rockville State Penitentiary to talk with prisoner Wells the Massive psychopath about the Pathfinder. Soon his mission and Faye's quest collide.

The third Grimnoir Chronicles (see Spellbound and Hard Magic) is an exciting alternate historical fantasy. The Correia world is anchored by noted real persona like FDR, Congressional hearings, William Donovan and Hoover in somewhat limited roles as the prime plots center on the Actives being active with Sullivan and crew working the Pathfinder mission and Faye proving her worth. Readers will enjoy the 1930s as the Depression world seems Warbound.

Pirates of the Timestream
Steve White
9781451639094, $14.00

Temporal Regulatory Authority Director Rutherford explains to (reactivated from retirement) raging Commander Jason Thanou that, in spite of the possible Observer Effect, Sam Asamoa left a message from 1791 Haiti where he leads an expedition into the causes of the revolution. Besides finding a cult that appears to have Transhumanist origins, Sam believes spaceship wreckage is on a mountainside. Rutherford orders Jason, the recognized expert on alien crafts since the late fifth century BC incident (see Sunset of the Gods), to investigate.

Jason leads an expedition that includes regional expert Dr. Henri Boyer, Special Ops Alexandre Mondrago and Pauline Da Cunha, and Authority representative Irving Nesbit back to the 1660s where they will join the crew of Privateer Captain Henry Morgan. Nothing goes right as the team finds Transhumanists abetted by Teloi establishing a cult and much more. Desperate, Jason aligns with strange bedfellows like Morgan and female pirate Zenobia to insure history follows the correct timestream.

The third Temporal Regulatory Authority thriller (see Blood of Heroes) is a rousing sea story in which Steve White blends futurism inside of a vivid late seventeenth century tale that grips the reader once Thanou and his team go back in time. Though a detour by the hero before the swashbuckling begins feels unnecessary, fans will relish the TRA escapades with Morgan and Zenobia as the Special Ops team struggle to survive yet complete their mission.

The Bookstore
Deborah Meyler
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781476714240, $16.00,

Receiving a scholarship to attend Columbia University as an art history Ph.D. candidate Esme Garland moves to Manhattan. While working on her thesis re artist Wayne Thiebaud, Esme meets old money native Mitchell van Leuven. They become an entry until the commitment phobic Mitchell abruptly ends their relationship insisting the sex is stale before Esme can tell him she is pregnant.

Needing money, Esme finds work at the laconic but financially failing The Owl bookstore on West Side while continuing her studies in Morningside Heights. She enjoys helping the eccentric customers and reading the books, but especially appreciates George the owner and Luke the guitarist manager. Mitchell returns asking for a second chance, but though Esme wants to say yes she fears he will find her as lacking as a used teabag.

The Bookstore is a magical Manhattan drama as the idealistic Esme loves the city, the school, the bookstore and especially cynical Mitchell. The character driven storyline encourages bibliophiles to go for the gold but also not to bury your head in the sand as others may not want to share your desires.

Robert K. Tanenbaum
9781451635553, $26.00

With the death of North American Brotherhood of Stevedores union leader Leo Corcione, a power struggle between brutally corrupt heir apparent Charlie Vitteli and ethical challenger Vince Carlotta explodes; as the latter accuses the former of being a violent crook. Vitteli's henchmen end the debate when they assassinate Carlotta though the waterfront crime scene looks more like a robbery gone badly.

New York County DA Roger "Butch" Karp seeks evidence to take down Vitteli. Meanwhile his wife private investigator Marlene Campi meets a frightened potential witness at the East Village Women's Shelter. That lead has her seeking several hit men with one of them probably the "masked robber" who pulled the trigger. Finding the killer and getting him to testify should prove Vitteli cannot wash the blood from his hands.

The latest entertaining Karp-Campi legal thriller (see Bad Faith) is an exciting tale when the focus is on union waterfront activity as those segments bring to life hard working workers and violent thugs. The fascinating courtroom segue is also well written; while the metaphorical references to Macbeth turn from intriguing to overused distractor. Readers will enjoy this tragedy wondering who will be the highest rank living official providing the final soliloquy.

High Treason
John Gilstrap
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786030194, $9.99,

The Secret service hates protecting First Lady Anna Darmond as she takes risks that place her and them in dangerous situations as she loves to party. Accompanied by her protectors, Anna goes to the Wild Times Bar when a homeless person opens fire on her detail. FLOTUS disappears while several agents are dead.

FBI Director Irene "Wolverine" Rivers asks Security Solutions' Hostage rescue Specialist Jonathan Grave to find Darmond as he trusts no one inside the Feds. At the same time DC cop Lincoln arranges to meet with Washington Enquirer reporter David Kirk on the deadly incident at Wild Times, but is murdered before they connect. Grave, his top gun Big Guy and his computer guru Venice begin the search for the missing First Lady, whose past is strangely shrouded' while Kirk struggles to stay alive.

The latest Jonathan Grave high octane novel (see Damage Control) is an exhilarating thriller that never slows down from the moment the assault at the bar occurs until the final confrontation in Canada. Although the myriad of acronyms followed by their words (without using parenthesis) breaks up sentence flow, readers will appreciate this action-packed twister as Grave, Big Guy and several surprising helpers attempt a dangerous rescue north of the border without Federal support.

Sleep Tight
Jeff Jacobson
9780786030781, $7.99

In December knowing timing was critical, Roman put the special "suit" on Viktor in the veterinarian office in Yekaterinburg. Forty-three minutes later he dropped Viktor off at Koltsovo Airport where he caught the eighteen-hour flight to Chicago. Just before arriving at his destination, Viktor felt itchy all over and sick. He realizes the cargo is waking up as blood trickles down his nose when he feels the bite on his stomach; he kills an insect. Viktor struggles off the plane and gets a gun before Chicago PD Sam and Ed shoot him. A bat carrying the same bugs that bit Viktor escapes from underneath his shirt. Homeland Security and other alphabet suits arrive at the scene but none are aware that the first of the WHO Global Pandemic Phases has just begun.

By April Phase Two happens and in August Phase Three human infection begins. The bugs threaten Chicago with a deadly new virus as people begin dying from bites. Being a major international hub city, America and the rest of the world are in peril as transmission expands into larger and larger clusters (Phases Four and Five) with the virus adapting to humans. Not quite eight months since Viktor arrived with his illegal cargo, Phase Six spreading throughout the general population seems imminent. The only hope is a mad doctor.

Scratching from start to finish, readers will enjoy this taut thriller while also obsessively washing clothing and bedding several times in hot water. Though the key characters are not fully developed, the tale is action-packed from the moment Viktor carries the "dormant" illegal bats into O'Hare and never slowing down, fans will not Sleep Tight as these bed bugs do bite.

Memory's Door
James L. Rubart
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781401686079, $14.99,

Three decades ago, Reece Roth was a warrior for Jesus but a tragedy cost his faith. Recently God sent four tyros (Brandon Scott, Marcus Amber, Dana Raine and Tamera Miller) to the recluse; for Reece to train and lead them in their upcoming battle with the malevolent Wolf (see Soul's Gate).

Each of the Warrior Riders has personal issues that give an edge to the Evil One adversary to exploit. Blind and severely depressed while struggling with his lost faith, Reese sees no future for him or his acolytes. As Dana rises up the ladder of success work-wise, she fears she walks the wrong path spiritually. Marcus remains filled with guilt and remorse as he remains gripped by grief over the death of his son; while also fearing he is going insane when he seems to end up in other realms. Meanwhile someone stalks Brandon at his concerts. The Wolf has begun to undermine the Warrior Riders using their human weaknesses leading the quintet to wonder who is friend and who is foe.

The second Well Spring inspirational thriller focuses on how the devil uses human doubts and desires to tempt even the most pious believer to sin. Once again the faithful fab five are fully developed, but it is the good and evil exciting biblical storyline fought as individuals as well as a group in a materialistic electronic age that makes James L. Rubart's taut tale a great read.

Wake the Dawn
Lauraine Snelling
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780892969012, $15.00,

In Pineville, Minnesota, Widower Ben James struggles with grief and alcoholism ever since his pregnant wife Allie and their unborn died, but he always performs his border patrol duty diligently. Physician Assistant Esther Hanson runs the local clinic diligently though she is not a doctor and there is none at the facility.

A horrific hurricane like storm hammers the Northern Plains, devastating the small border town while also isolating Pineville. Ben and Esther team up along with others to save lives though she is one incident from a full scale panic attack at a time everyone needs her calmness instead of PTSD. When Bo the K9 border patrol guard finds a baby alive, the pair and the EMTs rejoice even as the clinic is overwhelmed by the townsfolk's need. Yet two emotionally crippled warriors begin to heal as they help their injured neighbors.

The key to this warm inspirational romance is the clinic's frantic desperate activity takes center stage during and after the storm while the romance between the protagonists supports the overall town (and leads) in trouble theme. Character-driven by a fabulous support cast and two wounded warriors in a vivid location (think of Under The Dome but instead isolation caused by a storm), readers will enjoy this engaging tale.

Twilight Hunter
Kait Ballenger
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373777389, $7.99,

Execution Underground operative Jace McCannon feverishly hunts werewolves while concealing from his division mates that the reason he is the best is because his DNA includes half werewolf. The hybrid currently stalks a cowardly werewolf alpha preying on the weak in Rochester.

While tracking the serial killer, whose latest victim was raped before being murdered, he corners Rochester Pack Alpha Francesca "Frankie" Amato who insists she did not murder the victim. He affirms the female packmaster's assertion that she has the wrong equipment and no blood on her; she further explains she hunts this psychopathic rogue poaching on her turf. Though neither feels any trust for the other as hunters like him over the centuries have reduced the werewolf population to near extinction levels; they agree to team up in order to end the serial killing werewolf's reign of terror but under his terms of captivity.

The opening Execution Underground romantic urban fantasy is a terrific taut thriller as mortal enemies become beloved enemies though neither covets the concept that the other is their life mate. The hunt for the deadly predator takes center stage as readers anticipate the confrontations between the protagonists and the antagonist, and between the emotionally scarred lead couple in the enticingly dark Ballenger world.

Task Force Bride
Julie Miller
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373697113, $5.50

Kansas City Police Department hunts the Rose Red Rapist but the psychopath has eluded their efforts. The cops get a big break when Fairy Tale Bridal Shop owner and wedding planner Hope Lockhart escapes the predator.

The spinster agrees to serve as bait in order for KCPD to catch this dangerous predator. Thus she will pretend to be the fiancee of K-9 beat cop Edison "Pike" Taylor. Pike knows his mission is to capture the rapist while keeping Hope safe; but he also has an ulterior motive as he wants to get to know her. The reticent Hope fears his advances almost as much as she is frightened of his K-9 partner Hans.

The latest Precinct: Task Force romantic police procedural (see Assumed Identity) continues the KCPD efforts to end the terror reign of triple R. Character driven by the fascinating bashful female protagonist who avoids any chance at a HEA and instead feverishly buries herself insuring her clients do as a defense mechanism after suffering abuse as a child. However, Hope's trauma also slows down the storyline while posing an intriguing challenge to the cop and his partner.

My Favorite Mistake
Chelsea M. Cameron
Harlequin HQN
9780373778294, $11.95

In a coed living facility at the U of Maine, since Darah and Renee were roommates last year, they would share one room while Taylor and the new girl the other. When the newbie arrives, she turns out to be Hunter, an obnoxious male douche.

Hunter "bets" Missy (his nickname for his favorite mistake) as he calls the acrimonious Taylor to prove to him she loves or hates him; while Taylor reacts to his cornering her by punching him in the jaw and knee lifting into his balls. She tells her sister Tawny who admonishes her for not just telling Hunter to back off though the older sibling knows first-hand why the bitter Taylor is filled with fear and anger.

Although the premise of a university sanctioning a coed room seems over the top of Katahdin Mountain, readers will enjoy the love and hate romance between the lead roommates. The support cast is solid but it is unlikable damaged Taylor who keeps the storyline focused as what happened to her (and Tawny) when she was a tweener still haunts how she behaves towards others.

The Lotus Palace
Jeannie Lin
Harlequin HQN
9780373777730, $7.99

In 847 China, the ground shook the Lotus Palace several times but though frightened none of the courtesan residents, their maids, customers or Madame Sun were hurt. As she has her hair being done when another tremor occurs, top courtesan Mingyu tells her maid Yue-ying that she fears something happening to her but not from an earthquake. Taizhu the court historian visits Mingyu while drunken scholar Lord Bai Huang flirts with Yue-ying in spite of the red birthmark on her face and does so openly calling her Little Moon. When Bai claims a kiss, Yue-ying cuts him.

Magistrate Li Yen and Constable Wu Kaifeng investigate the murder of Huilan, one of the Four Beauties of the House of a Hundred Songs. Bai is a suspect because the victim possessed his official permit allowing her to travel at night outside the gated walls. As Bai and Yue-ying become embroiled in the murder inquiry, his family demands he wed their chosen aristocratic bride while he chooses the maid. However, she believes he is too above her station for anything except being his concubine; a position she cannot accept as that would break her heart.

The latest Tang Dynasty romance (see The Sword Dancer, My Fair Concubine, Butterfly Swords, and The Dragon And The Pearl) is an exciting action-packed historical murder mystery. The lead couple is a terrific taboo pairing that showcases the significance of class distinction in ninth century China; as no one brings this era to life better than Jeannie Lin consistently does.

High Country Rebel
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN
9780373778515, $7.99

Honorably discharged Navy SEAL Talon Holt left the military suffering from PTSD after the enemy tortured him and killed his buddy Hayden while in captivity in Afghanistan. Zeke, his retired K9 partner, saved his life in the theater and remains at his side in Wyoming. He came home to be with and help his mom dying from cancer. Meanwhile Talon and Zeke are caught in a late spring freak blizzard above Jackson Hole. As Talon lies dying on a nameless Wyoming road, Zeke remains at his side when firefighter-paramedic-wrangler Cat Edwin arrives; she takes them to the nearby Bar H in her SUV.

As Talon recovers from hyperthermia, he is attracted to his rescuer; Cat reciprocates but loathes the feeling as she distrusts men especially Type A brutes (as she assumes SEALs must be) due to her violent father and odious former boyfriend Beau Magee. As he heals, Talon falls in love with Cat, but she still fears her attraction while Zeke turns to her as an easy mark for treats. Meanwhile Magee deploys intervention plans.

The latest Wyoming military vet romantic suspense (see The Loner) is a delightful thriller due to the relationship between two fully developed wounded warriors. Though their respective source of their mental problems differs, Talon and Cat heal due to love but not completely. Whereas the late suspense brings tension but also feels unnecessary as the changing relationship makes the tale. Readers will appreciate the story of the veteran, the firefighter and the dog falling in love.

Mission: Seduction
Candace Havens
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797684, $5.50

When Marines Captain Will Hughes and Lieutenant Rafe McCawley were in New York, they were recruited off the street by Hannah Harrington as male models. After the show Will left with Hannah (see Model Marine) and Rafe with model Mimi Callahan.

Rafe is severely injured during a firefight while back on duty. His emails with Mimi have kept him sane though he never could arrange a call or Skype. Now he heads to Fiji to spend quality time with Mimi at a converted mansion yoga resort. However, instead of Mimi greeting him, her wellness expert sister Kelly welcomes him. She delays telling him the truth that she is the author of those letters as she feels he needs to believe otherwise while psychologically healing. As they fall in love, Kelly fears once she confesses he will break Semper Fi culture and leave behind her wounded broken heart.

This Uniformly Hot! romance is a wonderful sequel as the wounded marine and the sister fall in love but her concealment hurts their chances especially if he learns the truth from another source besides her. Although the premise has been overly used, the Fiji locale and Kelly bring freshness with her pure motive. Fans will enjoy this engaging entry.

Bodyguard Under Fire
Elle James
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373697137, $5.50

Ever since his wife and child died in a botched kidnapping last year, billionaire Raging Bull Ranch owner Hank Winchester decided justice needed help. He hired four unemployable former law enforcement officials at his firm Covert Cowboys, Inc. Two of them proved their worth right out of the gate (see Triggered and Taking Aim).

Hank assigns Afghan wounded warrior vet Chuck Bolton to protect an employee at Cara Jo's Diner. Chuck wonders why this person needs a bodyguard, but he will do the job going undercover as a handyman at the adjacent Wild Oak Canyon Resort run, along with the diner by Cara Jo Smithson; the only person besides himself and Hank who knows his real assignment. Waitress PJ Franks screams when an intruder enters her apartment as she fears for her baby Charlie. Hearing the scream, Chuck intercedes but the man escapes because of the retired Special Forces soldier's bad leg prevents him from pursuing. His ex-fiancee PJ introduces a stunned Chuck to his sleeping daughter even as he learns that a Mexican drug lord targets mother and child though the motive remains unknown.

The third Covert Cowboys, Inc. is an exciting thriller that hooks readers with a need to know why though some fans will believe the reason is weak for a cartel chief. Fast-paced from the opening rescue, fans will appreciate this enjoyable second chance at love romantic suspense as family matters.

The Devil She Knows
Kira Sinclair
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797707, $5.50

Devlin Warwick returns home from Atlanta to Sweetheart, South Carolina after being away for a decade. He has a goal to prove to those do-gooders who ran him out of town as a bad boy that they judged him wrong. Thus he ironically wears a devil's costume for the town's fall masquerade.

Wedding dress designer Willow Portis is Sweetheart's good girl. For the masquerade she dresses as a sexy angel. When the devil and angel meet at the ball, each is stunned by the attraction and share the best night of their respective lives until the masks come off as Willow sees the man who broke her heart ten years ago.

The latest Sweetwater romance (see She's No Angel) is a heated second chance at love tale. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of the devil and the angel though he has some angelic traits and she has some devilish inclinations. A suspense subplot adds tension but also feels unnecessary as this couple holds the fine plot together with their history and a town that insists love is not enough.

If You Can't Stand The Heat
Joss Wood
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207299, $4.99

Pari's Bakery and Coffee Shop has been at the same locale in St. James and False Bay for forty years, but owner Ellie Evans tells her BFF and maternity leave employee Merri that the septuagenarian owners of the building sold the property. They have six months to vacate with no prospect of opening the bakery anywhere in the area.

Jack Chapman stands outside the closed for the night bakery when Ellie calls her dad Mitchell to ask why the war correspondent her father considers his son is here. Mitchell explains a Somalian warlord battered Jack and took his cash and credit cards before dumping him on a U.N. plane leaving Cape Town. The reporter needs a bed to recuperate while also interviewing Mitchell's family for an article on life with him; Ellie resentfully thinks what life with Mitchell as he always covered all the hot spots but none of her highlight film. El and Jack feel the attraction between them, but he regains his mojo and she rejects her heart as she does not need another neglectful male in her life.

If You Can't Stand The Heat is a enjoyable contemporary romance as love may not be enough to forge a permanent relationship between the protagonists. Readers will appreciate this entertaining tale that focuses on how much a person loses when they must choose between their vocation and their family.

Maid of Dishonor
Heidi Rice
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207282, $4.99

At Hillbrook College in Upstate New York, Gina Carrington the tramp slept around and enjoyed every tryst though deep down none of them gave her any warmth afterward. That is except the one that she really enjoyed yet afterward left her empty as she knew she crossed a forbidden line when she slept with her friend Marnie's older brother just before "Saint" Carter Price was to marry Missy.

A decade later, Gina regrets how she behaved back in school especially her final bedding that remains the only one etched into her mind, body and soul. Thanks to her business partner Reese Michaels (see The Unexpected Wedding Guest by Aimee Carson) opting out on her re the Cassie Barclay's wedding plans meeting (see Girl Least Likely to Marry by Amy Andrews), Gina has a chance to apologize to Marnie. After Gina does; Marnie says her brother was the prime culprit by cheating on his fiance. Marnie also explains Carter's marriage proved a disaster and now he is a player.

This is a fun romance as ironically ten years ago she was the bad girl and he was the virgin; while now she acts the virgin and he is the bad boy. With a strong support cast, fans will appreciate this wonderful Wedding Season's second chance at love relationship drama.

From This Day On
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718672, $5.75

While her mom and stepfather are in Australia for two years, Amy Nilsson moves into their mother's house to learn more about her mother; as Michelle Cooper Doyle is emotionally closed off. She opens her mom's mail from Wakefield College inviting her to the opening of a time capsule from over three decades ago. Confused as her mom attended U of Oregon, Amy calls her dad in Arizona about Wakefield, but he only adds more mystery. Her half-brother Jakob, who she had an unfriendly relationship as children, calls her saying their dad called him re the time capsule. He hides from Amy and their father, the truths he overheard when his parents talked and conceals the hidden agenda as to why he offers to accompany her.

The half-siblings drive together to Wakefield College. There they learn what her mom hid; that Jakob's father is not Amy's biological dad as she is a product of rape. Whereas Amy feels shocked by the revelations, Jakob feels euphoric as he hid his shameful forbidden attraction for his half-sister behind a prickly facade.

From This Day On is an emotional drama as the truth may set free family members or destroy them. Although Jakob's feelings for Amy are difficult to accept, Janice Kay Johnson provides readers with an angst-laden contemporary.

Her Road Home
Laura Drake
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718702, $5.75

When her beloved dad died, Samantha Crozier knew Ohio would never be the same. She leaves the Buckeye State on her motorcycle heading nowhere while earning money by renovating fixer-upper houses.

Sam suffers an accident in Widow's Grove, California that forces her to stay in town to heal and for her bike to be repaired by local mechanic Nick Pinelli. As she recovers, she finds herself pulled in opposite directions. On the one hand she locates a house needing her magic, but this time it is different as she also feels a need to stay there with Nick; on the other hand Sam feels she is "Born To Be Wild" (Steppenwolf) with a need to "Get your motor runnin'; head out on the highway; looking for adventure ...". Nick prays the woman he loves will stay with him forever.

Her Road Home is an enjoyable contemporary romance that fans will appreciate as we want to know more about Sam's wanderlust obsession. The town seems magical as readers will root for biker chick and the wannabe biker chick's man forging a permanent loving relationship.

Second Time's The Charm
Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718719, $5.75

Nine months pregnant child life specialist Lillie Henderson knows her unborn Braydon Thomas suffers from a congenital heart defect that means he will most likely be dead at birth and if he survives that his life span is expected to be no more than a year. Her husband Kirk informs her that his mistress Leah is three months pregnant carrying his healthy baby, but that he will remain married to Lillie so his insurance pays the exorbitant medical bills though he confesses he loves the other woman. Two months later Braydon died and Lillie filed for divorce. Kirk's irate dad Jerry sided with Lillie and made sure she was financially taken care of.

Five years later at the Little Spirits Day Care in Shelter Valley, Arizona, single dad Jon Swartz's two year old son Abraham has a temper tantrum. While Jon takes a butt (and groin) kicking from his toddler, Lillie intercedes singing a song like a loony, but father and son are hooked. An unconventional older Montfort University scholarship student Jon and the freelancing child life specialist Lillie are attracted to each other. However, his secret gives him no hope to believe in love while she has doubts since Kirk betrayed her.

This is an engaging second chance romance starring two emotionally wounded individuals who no longer believe in love. Character-driven by the lead couple and anxious Abe and containing a fabulous twisting crime subplot with a unique alibi, readers will believe this is a charmer.

Taking Aim
Elle James
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373697069, $5.50

Ever since his wife and child died in a botched kidnapping last year, billionaire Raging Bull Ranch owner Hank Winchester decided justice needed help. He hires four unemployable former law enforcement officials at his firm Covert Cowboys, Inc.

FBI Special Agent Tracie Kosart visits her twin Jacie at the Big Elk Ranch where the latter works as a big game hunting trail guide. On a big hunting tour, an incident occurs leaving Tracie abducted and Jacie fortunate to make it to the Raging Bull Ranch. Jacie insists on going after her sister while Zach and others tell her to be patient. They find one of the hunting party clients Mr. Jones who whispers set up and DEA before dying. Hank says Tracie went unofficially undercover to learn who the FBI leak is and that Zach was to assist her if he accepted the job. Zach is motivated to go after the cartel that destroyed him and took Tracie. However, Jacie insists she is coming with him or without him.

The second Covert Cowboys investigative romance (see Triggered) is a wonderful redemption thriller as the mentally broken hero has two powerful reasons to regain his lost mojo: a chance for revenge and a chance for love. Action-packed readers will relish this intrigue with the overarching theme moving slightly forward; while also looking forward to the former sheriff as a Cowboy Resurrected.

Smoky Ridge Curse
Paula Graves
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373697052, $5.50

FBI Agents Adam Brand and Delilah Hammond shared a great night, but afterward he hesitantly informs her never again as he is her superior. In love with her boss, Delilah quit the Feds and goes home to Bitterwood, Tennessee. Though he knows he did the honorable right thing, his heart tells Adam he made the wrong choice.

Eight years since Delilah left him, Adam still a Fed believes Virginia lumberyard owner Wayne Cortland is a master criminal and terrorist. No one believes Adam and in fact evidence mounts that the Fed is the terrorist while his target is a good citizen. Wounded, on the run and trusting no one except the person who owns his heart; Adam turns to his former subordinate local law enforcement official Delilah. Though she should refuse, Delilah knows her Adam would never betray his country so she agrees to help the man she still loves.

The third Bitterwood P.D. tale (see Murder in the Smokies and The Smoky Mountain Mist) is an exhilarating second chance thriller. Delilah is a terrific heroine trying to rescue the hunk in distress. Readers will enjoy this high octane storyline as domestic terrorism arrives in the Great Smokies.

Susan Krinard
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885756, $5.75

In the San Francisco Enclave, Aegis Director of Field Operations McAllister has doubts about assigning his best operative Alexia Fox on a key illegal investigation as one year ago the Court deported her brother. Still he assigns her and her partner Michael Carter to break the fragile treaty by entering the zone to learn what she can about the new illegal Nightsiders' colony.

At the same time their enemy the Opir dispatches Damon the Daysider to obtain Intel re the illegal human colony. When the two parties meet, each side denies the colony is theirs. Michael leaves to obtain additional help while Alexia and Damon team up to infiltrate the illegal colony, origin unknown. As the duo faces danger and fall in taboo love, Alexia loses her patch that enables her to eat food, she knows as a Dhampir only blood can give her sustenance.

This exciting romantic urban fantasy grips readers due to the brevity yet depth of the amazing Krinard world as readers will marvel at the variety of vampiric species. The lead protagonists are a wonderful pairing of star-crossed lovers with trust issues (her mom drilled her as a child) causing them unsuccessfully to fight their attraction. Although there is too much passive reflection, sub-genre fans will relish the tsuris caused by the Daysider and the Dhampir falling in forbidden love.

Haley's Mountain Man
Tracy Madison
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373657612, $5.50

In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Haley Foster is bored as she is in between seasons re the two family owned and run businesses; a time when she knows she should relax. As her friend teacher Suzette Solomon persuades the distracted Haley to go out on a blind date, she stares at the hairy humongous Mountain Man.

Haley believes she and hermetic Gavin Daugherty belong together, but he wants nothing to do with her or anyone else except when it comes to his business; a lesson he learned as a child caught in a system that never considered his best interests. However, though he is withdrawn, the recluse never met anyone as feisty as Haley who follows her heart and rejects his rejections.

The latest Colorado Fosters romance (see Cole's Christmas Wish) is a delightful contemporary due to the dysfunctional relationship between an obstinate heroine and a troubled soul. Gavin brings the angst to the storyline as he is attracted to the beautiful tenacious bulldog but wants no entanglements as love hurts; a lesson he learned as a child. Haley never quits on him and with her comes the Foster horde (see The Foster Brothers miniseries) who makes life even more miserable for the hermit. Readers will enjoy this warm Rocky Mountain tale.

A Marriage Made In Italy
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Romance
9780373742530, $5.99

At a law office in Newburgh, New York, angry Cliff Peterson feels cheated that he received chump change from the estate of his late parents. His adopted younger sister Belle expected nothing but gives her hateful brother her check in exchange for what he knows about her past. Cliff says his father loathed her and felt they should ship her back to her mother Frankie Donatello in Remenee, Italy. Belle looks up towns in Italy, takes leave from her job at Trans Continental Cell Phones and travels to Rimini on the Adriatic in search of her biological family.

In Rimini, single dad Widower Leonardo Malatesta worries about his ailing six-month old daughter Concetta while also grieving the death of his beloved Benedetta who died in child birth. Since his baby feels better, Leon goes to the bank where his assistant Berto told him an American woman asked questions about the Donatello family. Leon confronts Belle but insists he cannot help her; meanwhile she visits every Donatello she can during her week in town. Something he cannot explain disturbs him, so changing his mind, Leon visits Belle. When she mentions she seeks someone in their forties who lived in New York over two decades ago, stunned Leon knows a married Donatello who fits the descriptor and why the American looks familiar.

This is a great contemporary romance that starts off with a woman seeking her roots but soon plants roots as she learns family matters. Character-driven by the likable lead protagonists and a powerful support cast, readers will relish this thrilling tale of love taking root in Rimini.

Copper Lake Encounter
Marilyn Pappano
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373278336, $5.99

In Atlanta, Nev Wilson knows her dreams always come true. Her latest, which has reoccurred for the last twenty-nine nights, frighten her. Though she knows she must go there, she has no idea what town this is. Her septuagenarian grandma YaYa has been searching on the Internet for the location since Nev described it. Now the older woman shows her granddaughter a street in Copper Lake, halfway between Atlanta and Augusta. There Nev must go to learn the truth behind her disturbing dream.

Police Detective Ty Gadney steps out of Cuppa Joe and nearly runs over a distracted Nev. They chat over coffee with both attracted to one another. However, when nasty incident keep assaulting the visitor, Ty vows to keep her safe and uncover who and why. Meanwhile, Nev keeps digging in search of whatever will end the dreams as she prays the truth will set her free.

The latest Copper Lake romantic suspense (see Copper Lake Confidential) is an engaging thriller with a fabulous twist that ties up what seemed a minor cold case mystery several books ago. Ty is a terrific hero who risks his life to keep his beloved damsel in distress safe. However, this is Nev's tale as someone wants her dead before she learns why the dreams brought her to Copper Lake.

Last Chance Reunion
Linda Conrad
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373278350, $5.99

"Texas Cold Case." Injured in an operation, Justice Department Attorney Colt Chance returns home to his family Bar-C Ranch in Chance County Texas to heal. He also decides to investigate the cold case murder of his mother though his father who died in prison was convicted of the crime two decades ago. Also back is his beloved high school girlfriend, Deputy Lacie McCord, who abruptly left him and town without a word when they were an entry. As they team up, their attraction remains as strong as ever while someone wants both dead.

"Texas Lost and Found." Firefighter Nina Martinez witnessed a murder. She and firefighting medic Josh White are on the run together from the killer who knows she saw the homicide. As Nina and Josh fall in love she learns secrets about her past while a predator stalks them.

The final Chance, Texas romantic suspense (see Sam in Texas Baby Sanctuary, Travis in Texas Manhunt, and Gage in Chance Reunion novella in Christmas Confidential with Marilyn Pappano) contains two twisting taut tales that tie up the major threads of the Chance family saga. Readers will relish both entries as Linda Conrad provides a wonderful finish to the family reunion.

The Baby Deal
Kat Cantrell
Harlequin Desire
9780373732609, $5.99

Psychologist Dr. Juliana Cane sees Michael "Shay" Shaylen for the first time since college eight years ago when she could not deal with his adrenaline rush dangerous lifestyle and left him and Dallas for New Mexico. She realizes her body still needs his and that he apparently remains a sports participating junkie around the world. Shay contacted her because he needs her help since his best friends and GGS Aerospace partners Grant and Donna Greene recently died and trusted him as their almost six-month old baby Mikey's guardian.

If she gives him two months of intense daddy training, he offers her anything. Juliana agrees for $50K and the writing of a book. A billionaire Shay wonders if she knows how rich he is but reluctantly agrees as the book bothers him but demands she stays at his house for two months. At his home, both quickly know they still love one another and each realizes they also love Mikey. However, Shay's risk taking remains a non-starter between them.

This Billionaires & Babies contemporary romance is a delightful second chance at love. Each participant in the lead triangle is fully developed so that the readers understand why Juliana struggles between her love for Shay and her fears he will not return from one of his escapades. However, she quickly knows leaving the two males she loves will be even harder than when she left Shay eight years ago. Filled with pathos and passion, The Baby Deal is a warm amusing tale.

Claimed by the Immortal
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885763, $5.75

Police Captain Malloy informs Police Sergeant Carolyn Hamilton that he placed her on indefinite medical leave because of her insistence that she saw Andrew Pritchett lifted six feet in the air by nothing visible and tossed across the room on to a stuffed elk's horn. None of the other cops on the scene saw any of this nor can anyone explain what happened to the battered murdered family of five. Her mentor Detective Matthews tells her to take the leave, come back in a week or so, never mention the impossible here, but visit Messenger Investigations to tell what she witnessed to Jude Messenger who handles the eerie that the cops claim do not exist.

With some limited psychic ability like reading auras, Carolyn senses someone watches her; a feeling she has had since she saw the unreal happen. She meets Jude and his associate Damien Keller; noticing each shares the same golden eyes and odd auras like none she ever saw before. To her amazement, they believe her story. Attracted to the mortal witch and amused by her being unaware of what she is, Damien the German vampire vows to keep Carolyn safe from what is watching her.

The latest Claiming urban romantic fantasy (see Claim the Night for Jude's tale) is an action-packed investigative thriller that never decelerates from the moment that Carolyn arrives at the weird Messenger Investigations office and never misses a beat until the final confrontation. Readers will appreciate the vampire and the witch falling in love while hunting an invisible stalker amidst numerous viable suspects.

Lost And Found Father
Sheri WhiteFeather
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373657667, $5.50

In Oregon, Victoria Allen and Ryan Nash are high school sweethearts. However when they are both sixteen, she becomes pregnant. She wants to keep their daughter, but pressure from their parents and knowing kids raising a kid is not smart; they accept a closed adoption. The teen couple agrees to hold their baby once before giving her up. Panicking he fails to arrive at the hospital as she gives birth to their baby. Soon afterward, her parents move with their daughter to Los Angeles.

Eighteen years later, single web designer Victoria contacts divorcee veterinarian Ryan to tell him that she joined several adoption registries hoping their daughter would find her. Six months ago, she and Kaley met and, encouraged by her widower dad, have since bonded. Now a UCLA student Kaley wants to meet her biological dad and though Victoria does not want to see him as she knows she still loves him, but she will do anything for her child.

This Family Renewal drama is a warm second chance at love (and family) tale. The key is that the players are all nice people including the adopted dad and late mom. With Native American elements (the two dads are part Native American) enhancing the engaging storyline, readers will appreciate Sheri WhiteFeather's wonderful story.

Hope Rising from The Ashes
L.F. Falconer
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478702467, $13.95,

Collie leaves Middletown in the Kingdom of Donnel with a broken heart hoping to start anew in the Tillaman Realm after her failed star-crossed affair with beloved Dugan (see Hope Flies on Broken Wings). Kernon the salt trader accompanied by eight years old son Natt gives a ride on his wagon to the tinker's daughter. As they near Sark, a lion with wings attacks from the air and kills Kernon. Hope and Natt survive. Two knights arrive and recognizing one of them as Thoren, who she supped with at King Rhoen's palace and loathes for wagering on her; she calls for help. She mentions the lion and Thoren and Morgan the other knight turn pale as Seret has returned.

In Sark the oldest brother of the two knights ChiefWarden Dannon takes possession of Kernon's salt now owned by Natt and uses some of it to pay for one room for his guests at the inn. Upset she turns to Morgan for solace, but finds little there. A blizzard keeps her from crossing the mountains while the sibling knights argue over who owns Collie who clings to the hope of the charm Dugan gave her.

Hope Rising from The Ashes is an exciting sequel at time when Christianity is just beginning to spread. The storyline grips the readers from the moment Seret attacks the salt wagon and never slows down as the heroine struggles with unwanted attention and squabbling from the brothers. Though it helps previously to have read Hope Flies on Broken Wings to understand how the protagonist (and Dugan) got to the point of accepting Kernon's ride, fans will relish this strong historical.

Wrath-Bearing Tree
James Enge
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616147815, $18.00,

The son of the mighty Merlin Ambrosius, the hunchback Morlock knows he has quite a lineage to live up to especially since his father is a traitor. On top of that his siblings are do-gooders. Still he does his best.

The Graith of Guardians assigns Morlock and Aloe Oaij to investigate the murder of a lesser God in Kaen, a land not under their sworn jurisdiction. The two agents travel by sea before crashing onto the Kaen coast. They quickly find out that their nemesis Two Powers twin gods Fate and Chaos are involved once again (see A Guile of Dragons). Nothing is smooth on this trek as danger mounts from natural enemies fighting each other for power. Frightened Gods claim their protection as much as their souls; Andhrakar the demon has demands; acrimonious exiled Merlin thinks his offspring is mad; while A Guile of Dragons runs amuck causing havoc and further panic; but the worst of all to Morlock is his sister Ambrosia is involved at a time when the Balancer is no more.

The second Tournament of Shadows sword and sorcery fantasy continues the exhilarating prequel escapades of Morlock as a young dwarf (before his later epic adventures - see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). The thrilling fast-paced storyline grips S&S quest fans from the moment Merlin uses the brain of an atheist to escape a lesser God and never slows down until the final anticipated family affair.

Kindred and Wings
Philippa Ballantine
9781616147792, $19.00

Hybrid Manesto-Vaerli Finn the Fox and purebred Vaerli Talyn the Hunter know they must part to fulfill their respective quests. However, each holds the other dearly though both have mixed feelings about their undesirable attraction that they deny is love (see Hunter and Fox).

Finn rides Wahirangi the dragon away from the Conhaero in search of Ysel, a sibling he never knew existed until recently. Filled with remorse for opting for survival when she joined the world ruling Caisah after they massacred her Vaerli; Talyn must choose between becoming her people's avenger and their Seer. Meanwhile her brother Byre continues his mission to save his Vaerli by entering the deadly fiery Kindred realm seeking to renew the once powerful agreement his ancestors had with the dragons.

The second Shifted World fantasy is an exciting quest thriller with three fascinating subplots starring the lead trio on separate adventures before somewhat coming together in a brisk constantly changing landscape. Although the overarching theme fails to move forward very much, readers will appreciate Philippa Ballantine's entertaining tale as the heroes and the audience never know what will happen next in a world in which a mountain becomes a lake in a nanosecond (try building an app for that map).

On Distant Shores
Sarah Sundin
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800720827, $14.99,

In 1943, 802nd Air Evacuation Flight Nurse Lieutenant Georgiana Taylor feels inadequate as she struggles to take care of her patients while flying between Northern Africa and Sicily. She thinks of her loving but worried family and her boyfriend Ward Manville back home in Charlottesville, Virginia who all believes that she is in over her head; while Georgie knows that only her BFF Rose Danilovich enabled her to graduate from nursing school.

In Gela, Sicily Technical Sergeant John Hutchinson angrily resents the way the officers treat him with disdain for being an NCO and worse a pharmacist grunt rather than a trained medical expert who knows how to mix ingredients safely. He wants to go home to marry Phyllis Chilton and open up a pharmacy in New York.

When Georgie and Hutch meet during an explosive night in Gela, they share an evening like no one has performed for either of them. However, she has her high school sweetheart waiting for her in Virginia and he has his fiance waiting for him in New York.

In some ways a coming of age novel, the second Wings of the Nightingale WWII drama (see With Every Letter) is a fabulous historical with the focus on providing frontline combat medicine to the injured; as readers learn the perils of flight nursing and makeshift pharmacy in 1943-44. The romantic subplot adds depth to the engaging storyline as both have civilians back home while the military frown on fraternizing between an enlisted and an officer. Fans will enjoy On Distant Shores and want to read Sarah Sundin's WWII Wings of Glory saga (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow).

The Amish Seamstress
Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736926263, $13.99,

Although she knows she will always secretly and unrequitedly love Zed Bayer, who left his Mennonite community to make films, Izzy Mueller relishes her life as a caregiver appreciating the tales told to her by her elderly patients while at the same time she does her other pleasure sewing. As Izzy prepares to join the Amish church, Zed returns to see her. Knowing she is an incredible seamstress, Zed wants to hire his BFF Izzy to create the wardrobe for his next film.

Izzy wants to say yes and since she has not formally committed to the Amish Church, she can accept his offer. However, she also has doubts as she still loves Zed who's leaving before left her devastated. Izzy believes he never will give up his love of film to join her in the Amish Church even if he loves her but wonders whether she can give up her wants including her family to join him in his world.

The latest Women of Lancaster County romance (see Zed's sister in The Amish Bride) is a strong entry as the heroine feels tested by God when the love of her life temporarily comes home. Character driven, readers will appreciate Izzy's dilemma as her contented life becomes complicated when her beloved returns to Lancaster County.

Beneath The Dover Sky
Murray Pura
Harvest House
9780736952880, $13.99

Though the war to end all wars has been over for several years, as he turns sixty Lord William and his wife Lady Elizabeth remain concerned about their adult children and their grandchildren as the continent remains volatile. Libby and her American husband Michael Woodhaven return from the States as he and Victoria's spouse Ben enter an air race; their crash leaves Michael dead and Ben loses his legs. Widow Catherine Danforth Moore shows no interest in people except her son as she still grieves her loss after two years. Middle son Kipp's French wife Christelle is dying from cancer while his former fiancee Caroline flirts outrageously with him. The oldest son Edward wins a parliamentary seat as youngest son British soldier Robbie accompanied by his Irish spouse Shannon deploy to the Holy Land as part of a peacekeeping force. Emma resides in London with her mate Jeremy Sweet the vicar.

Timely with another Middle East peace attempt, the second Danforths of Lancashire historical (see Ashton Park) is a fabulous 1920s drama that provides readers with slices of what is happening in Britain (rise of Churchill), Europe (rise of Hitler) and the Holy Land (rise of warring adversaries). The extended British family enables the reader to see "Snapshots of History" at a critical point when Great Britain and the world struggle with changes caused by WWI's melting pot of deaths leading to international demands for liberty, equality and justice.

Millie's Treasure
Kathleen Y'barbo
Harvest House
9780736952132, $13.99

In December 1888 Pinkerton Agent Kyle Russell is unhappy with his assignment to find missing Confederate gold because the President voted out of office needs it to regain the White House in four years. He tells his Cap he gave up the holidays with his family. His superior tells him if he solves this case, he can return to his obsession: the recapturing of Will Tucker, who escaped from Angola Prison.

In Memphis, the father of Millie Cope has arranged for her to marry Sir William Trueck, a man she never met. Ever since her mom and sisters died a decade ago from Yellow fever, she and her dad have been distant so living in London feels refreshing. However, on New Year's Eve, after meeting her fiance, Millie leaves her father to entertain him. Her curiosity about an odd crate leads to her encountering Kyle on the roof of the city's Cotton Exchange where he shows her gadgets he invented. Ignoring Sir Trueck and her father, Millie joins Kyle on his case(s).

The second The Secret Lives of Will Tucker late nineteenth century investigative romance is a wonderful historical that brings to life the winter of 1888-1889 in the South and the secret of Sophie secondary plot occurring in 1837. Although the entertaining storyline somewhat parallels its predecessor (see Flora's Wish), readers will appreciate this inventive steampunk Christian thriller.

Say Yes To The Duke
Kieran Kramer
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250009906, $7.99,

After several failed London seasons, Janice Sherwood must give up the waltz for rustication. Her despondent parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Brady, exile her to the estate of the Duke of Halsey as a temporary companion to his grandmother. Secretly they hope their daughter catches Halsey, but fear her insistence on a love match will leave her on the shelf.

Recently Luke Callahan learned that he is the legitimate Halsey ducal heir but lacks proof. He obtains a servant position in the stables, and flirts with the Dowager's guest as he believes Janice is a potential ally who can help him with his search. As they fall in love, Luke regrets what will happen to their relationship once she knows of his duplicity.

The third House of Brady Regency romance (see Loving Lady Marcia and The Earl Is Mine) is an amusing yet touching historical in spite of the not so subtle references to the TV show (though much less than previous entries). Readers will enjoy Janice's search for love as she "knew it was much more than a hunch" (Brady Bunch theme song) when she found it with her duke.

The Thing About Weres
Leigh Evans
St. Martin's
9781250006417, $7.99

Six months ago, werewolf alpha Robson Trowbridge disappeared when his mate Hedi Peacock pushed him through the Gates of Merenwyn into the forbidden for his kind realm of the Fae (see The Trouble With Fate). Though a hybrid with fae DNA mixed with were, Hedi is temporarily the clan alpha; a role she detests especially since her inner essences conflict as the Fae blood chooses flight and the Were blood prefers fight. Besides needing Robson, she misses her BFF Merry who helped her rudimentarily understand her Mystwalker nature.

Staying alive amidst Moon River howlers may be priority one, but Hedi knows the Creemore wolves stalk her and the North American Council of Weres rages over a half breed Fae abomination running a clan. As she struggles to stay alive and in charge, she prays Robson returns so she can return to being the Alpha's mate not the Alpha.

The second Mystwalker urban fantasy is an exciting thriller as Leigh Evans throws everything including it seems the kitchen sink at the beleaguered heroine. However, the myriad of major plots (several more than above) can become confusing with so much targeting Hedi. Still the mythos is top rate and the key cast solid enabling fans to believe Faes and Werewolves exist in the Evans universe.

Why Dukes Say I Do
Manda Collins
St. Martin's
9781250023834, $7.99

The Duke of Ormonde holds a knife to the throat of his wife Perdita while her sister Lady Isabella Wharton and their friend army Widow Georgina Mowbray try to talk him out of killing his spouse. Having survived the torment of an abusive spouse, Isabella muses that once she hoped her younger sibling's marriage would be different; but instead proved the same brutality as hers. Mowbray shoots the enraged duke who also falls on his knife dead.

One year later Isabella's godmother blackmails her into leaving London to coax her grandson the new Duke of Ormonde to end his rustication and do his duty in town. Knowing the scandal would ruin her loved ones and herself, Isabella travels to Yorkshire where she expects to meet a country bumpkin version of her late husband and late brother-in-law. Instead, Trevor Carey enjoys his life managing his estate and caring for his family and his contented tenants. Still Isabella persuades him to visit his grandmother. As they travel together, accidents pile up and notes threaten his companion. When they are caught together in a compromising position, they become engaged, but first must deal with the unknown adversary(s) as danger mounts with each incident.

The key to this engaging historical romance is Lady Isabella as she slowly changes from keeping her distance to opening up her heart (starting with his sisters). Fast-paced with a strong mystery enhancing a wonderful romance, readers will appreciate this taut timely thriller as women have no rights unless bestowed by a man.

And Then Comes Marriage
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
9781250016133, $7.99

In 1818 wealthy Widower Miranda Talbot enjoys her independent lifestyle as she goes where she wants without a chaperone or a maid attached to her hip. However, she also enjoys the company of intelligent Pollux Worthington. Finally she feels a bit fickle as she also likes Poll's twin, Castor.

Confirmed bachelors, the siblings both realize they compete for the same widow. However, Cas and Poll soon covet more than just a seduction as each brother begins to fall in love with Miranda and she with both of them. Meanwhile, an unknown adversary targets Miranda and her twin courters.

The second Worthington Regency romance (see When She Said I Do) is an entertaining historical with a "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" (Lovin' Spoonful) premise. Although the suspense adds tension, the tale belongs to the dueling courtships who quote the Bard; but paraphrasing John Sebastian: Miranda knows that "sometimes you really dig a (guy) the moment you kiss (him) and then you get distracted by (his twin brother)".

Sanctuary Island
Lily Everett
St. Martin's
9781250018373, $7.99

In DC Ella Preston decides hormones must be messing with her pregnant sister Merry's brain as the latter wants to reconcile with their alcoholic estranged mother Jo Ellen. Merry plans to drive to Winter Harbor to catch the ferry to Sanctuary Island, Virginia with or without her sibling. Ella wants nothing to do with her drunk of a mother preferring to work 24/7, but accompanies her beloved sister knowing as always she will need to be there for Merry when, as always, disaster strikes.

On Sanctuary Island, Ella and handyman Grady Wilkes are attracted to each other beginning with their initial meeting. Grady shows her the healing island he fled to following a horrific injury during a search-and-rescue mission. As they fall in love, their respective traumas leave their relationship in peril.

Sanctuary Island is a tender relationship drama as love may not be enough to overcome past hurts and traumas. Dr. Fairfax sums up the deep tale when he says: "... life is going to be messy and painful, but it's not complicated." Readers will enjoy this tale and look forward to Merry's magic.

Joseph Finder
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250035271, $15.99

Adam Cassidy works rather poorly as a minor product-line manager at Wyatt Telecom. When his friend Jonesie retires, Adam impersonates the VP for Corporate Events and places an order with Meals of Splendor to cater a luncheon on the loading docks to rival what they did last week for the Salesman of the Year banquet. The gala continued past midnight when a security guard heard the band still playing.

Adam anticipates being fired, but instead learns his extravagance cost $78,000 and if he prefers to avoid a stretch in the pen for embezzlement, he will become a high tech industrial spy. Adam reluctantly begins working for rival Trion Systems, but reports insider information to Wyatt Telecom Corporate Security. Once proud of his high ethical standards, Adam finds the people including the CEO at Trion treat him with dignity ripping his soul further asunder while he tries to gain knowledge about a quantum leap forward in technology considered as big as the first integrated circuit. Failure means jail; success means betrayal.

Paranoia is a superb thriller that grasps the reader into an all night stand because of the appealing central protagonist. Adam changes from a character similar to the heroic slacker of Office Space to a person struggling with his conscience lecturing him like a teacher haranguing a misbehaving student. While the suspense grows as to whether he will do it or not, Adam knows that author John C. Maxwell is right as There Is No Such Thing as Business Ethics being any different than just living and working according to the Golden Rule. He wonders how he can do that without paying the price of twenty years in prison.

How To Lose A Bride In One Night
Sophie Jordan
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062033017, $7.99,

Annalise Hadley feels like she lives in a fairy tale when the seventh person in line for throne marries her. She is plain, crippled, illegitimate and unpolished yet the handsome Duke of Bloodsworth chose her. Only one year since her wealthy absentee father Jack Hadley claimed her and her three half-sisters (see Wicked In Your Arms, Wicked Nights With A Lover and Lessons From a Scandalous Bride now all four are happily married.

Traveling on a barge on their wedding night, Bloodsworth brutally takes her while displaying his scorn for the useless cripple. Next he smothers her with a pillow and finally tosses her into the sea.

Annalise survives her ordeal as she ends up at the estate of an Earl, Owen Crawford. He hires a Gypsy healer who helps Annalise recover from her ordeal and fixes her bad leg. Owen and Annalise fall in love though each has doubts; as he suffers from PTSD for what he did in India and she was almost killed by her spouse. Additionally both know legally she remains the married "property" of the influential wife killer.

The final Forgotten Princesses historical romance is an exhilarating entry as the amoral confident duke proves quite an adversary while the lead couple have plenty of doubts re their worthiness. Fast-paced, readers will want to know why the evil duke wed and murdered his bride in a few hours as Sophie Jordan says in the afterward How To Lose A Bride In One Night cleverly rewrites the end of the Chinese fairy tale The Beggar Princess.

The Devil of Clan Sinclair
Karen Ranney
9780062242440, $7.99

In 1868 London, Lady Virginia Traylor prays her sweetheart Macrath Sinclair arrives at the ball because her usually frowning father agrees to meet the man she plans to marry. When her beloved arrives, Virginia is at the happiest moment in her life until her father informs her she will wed Lord Barrett in front of her future mother-in-law, Enid the Countess.

One year later her husband dies from what his mom says was a bad heart leaving no heir. With her family in dire straits, Enid suggests Virginia visit wealthy Macrath the renowned inventor. Virginia tells him nothing about her horrific marriage or her father's duplicity as they spend blissful weeks together. Then abruptly she leaves without a word; twice burned Macrath learns she carries his child; he wants his offspring but not the mom.

The first Wicked Widow Victorian romance is an engaging historical starring two fascinating but obstinate protagonists. Readers will empathize with Macrath even as he takes his son from the mother with the law on his side, while understanding Virginia's desperate ploy yet question her morals with our twenty-first century ethics. Love has proven insufficient for this couple to form a permanent relationship.

The Highlander's Desire
Margo Maguire
9780062122902, $7.99

In 1720 Lachann MacMillan, who gave up on love when his beloved married someone else, arrives on the on the Scottish Isle of Kilgorra. Thus he and Lord Kilgorra arranged for Lachann to marry the latter's daughter Catriona as his MacMillan clan gain a strong ally and he some land.

At Lord Kilgorra's home, Lachann sees serving girl Anna MacIver, the lord's stepdaughter. She rejects love and marriage as she saw what that did to her late mom. However, upon meeting Lachann, she yearns to be more than her cruel stepsister's lackey while he also threatens the alliance by falling in love with the wrong sibling. Love places both their clans in peril from jealousy and loathing.

Although the Cinderella plot is not new, Margo Maguire refreshes the theme by placing the entertaining storyline in the early eighteenth century Highlands. Lachlann struggles between being Prince Charming and Laird MacMillan while Anna as Cinderella wants to believe in love but fears there will be no happily ever after for anyone.

My Notorious Gentleman
Gaelen Foley
9780062075956, $7.99

In 1816, Lord Trevor Montgomery has retired as a spy, a pirate and a hero; but remains an avid notorious participant with women. When his latest fails to arrive obviously entangled with someone else, Trevor moves on after a curse. In the same mansion, Grace Kenwood hides from the unwanted advances of a drunk; only Trevor finds her. He assumes she is another harlot coveting him so with hatred in his eyes he kisses her to teach her lesson; stunned by his audacity and more so by the effect on her spinster heart, she finally stops his advance when he asks floor or bed.

Her father formally introduces Grace to Trevor. She learns to her chagrin he plans to buy Colonel Avery's run-down farm the Grange in her village. As all the women overtly covet Trevor except for Grace, he wants the minx whose kisses brought him out of his disillusionment though she is "holding out for a hero" (Bonnie Tyler).

The latest Inferno Club tale (see My Dangerous Duke, My Irresistible Earl, and My Wicked Marquess) is a wonderful Regency romance between a war hero who believes otherwise and the parson's daughter who believes everyone is good. Character-driven, fans will relish the gender war as amazing Grace lives up to her name by her caring for others (but not herself) and expects her beloved to do likewise; that is if he wants to be her hero.

I Married The Duke
Katharine Ashe
9780062229816, $7.99

In 1804 in Cornwall, the three young orphans (Eleanor, Arabella and Ravenna) have "no rank and less fortune." The Gypsy tells the sisters that the ring their late mom gave to the oldest Eleanor belongs on the finger of a prince; one of the siblings will wed royalty and eventually reunite them with their lost father.

In 1817 Plymouth, Arabella remains confident that she is the one who will marry the prince though time is running out on her with less than two weeks left and she still needs to be in France to achieve her destiny. She pleads with pirate Captain Lucien Westfall to take her. However, the duke wonders why a governess desires travel to his brother's French castle; Luc assumes his family sent her to report his activities to them. Thinking he should keep his enemy close as he knows someone else will replace her if he refuses her; Luc agrees to escort Arabella to France. When robbers assault them, the couple realizes how in love they are as they trust their respective life in the hands of their partner.

The opening Prince Catchers Regency romance is a fun gender war tale as two spry witty opponents fall in love in spite of their misconceptions. The storyline begins at a leisurely pace so readers can meet the players. Once the adventure begins the plot accelerates into a delightfully fast-paced romantic caper in which he is no prince charming or pirate and she is no damsel in distress or governess.

She Can Scream
Melinda Leigh
Amazon/Montlake Romance
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781477807415, $12.95

In Coopersfield, Pennsylvania, he thinks how easy stalking has become due to young women foolishly informing predators like him everything they plan to do on social media. Though he accepts he cheats at his vocation, he finds his targets so punctual. For instance teenage Madison Thorpe begins her run right on schedule after announcing to the cyber world including him; he even knows precisely how much time he has until someone misses her.

At the Coopersfield Community Center, high school math teacher and single mom of two teens, Brooke Davenport finishes a safety pitch to nineteen college females that focuses on what happened to her late college roommate sixteen years ago. As she leaves, Madison hears a scream and intervenes but Brooke's attacker flees. Irate at the interruption, the psychopath plans to complete Brooke and go after the intruder. At the same time Brooke plans to go after the stalker as she believes he knows his targets from online information. Internet security specialist Luke Holloway, who went to high school with Brooke, helps her with her web search while he heals from a terrorist blast that killed his assistant a few months ago. As they fall in love, Luke vows to keep his beloved safe while the psychopath intensifies his attacks.

The keys to this strong cautionary thriller are the powerful warnings about letting the world know your itinerary and that the romance supports the tense suspense. Readers will anticipate the final confrontation while parents will want their older teens to read She Can Scream as no one hears you on social media when a predator attacks in the real world.

Lady Anne's Lover
Maggie Robinson
Kensington Brava
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758269102, $9.95,

In December 1820, Lady Imaculata Egremont regrets the scandals she created to anger her abusive father but not because of any pain it inflicted on her nasty dad who everyone thinks is a saint. Thanks to the London List tabloid and its owners Lord Gray and Evangeline Ramsay, she has a chance to start over. Thus she heads to Wales as Widow Anne Mont housekeeper to Napoleon War hero Major Gareth Ripton-Jones, who ironically lost an arm in an accident after he came home. On the trek she reads the Compleat Housewife that her benefactress Evangeline gave her and realizes she has no experiences at all for her position and cannot use her beauty as she conceals that from her new employer.

A drunkard, Gareth ignores his housekeeper's lack of skills; but in spite of her unfashionable wardrobe and overall "plain" look, he knows she fails to conceal from him her beauty. Still it is her caustic tongue and even more caustic coffee that opens his eyes. As the Heiress and the Horseman begin a tryst and fall in love, he remains the only suspect in the murder of his fiancee.

This tongue in cheek Regency romantic suspense is a fabulous amusing yet taut sequel to Lord Gray's List (Lady Imaculata was a key secondary player and Major Jones placed an ad in the first novel). The lead couple's bawdy banter counterbalances her daddy dearest woes and his need to prove his innocence now that she sobered him up, but their investigation places them in danger. Readers will enjoy this strong historical.

Joan Swan
Kensington Brava
9780758288257, $9.95

Five years ago in Truckee, California, the chemical fire at a government facility left newlywed Jessica Fury injured and a widow as her husband the legendary Quaid died from the subsequent explosion. Jessica and several other surviving firefighters obtained customized superpowers as a result of the toxin that engulfed them.

Jessica quit firefighting to become a DC lobbyist. Her former firefighting teammates visit Jessica with an ex-prisoner they rescued from a facility similar to the one that exploded in Truckee and to warn her that there has been another identical fiery incident. Finally the rescued Cash insists there was another test subject they called Q. Though she rejects the premise that Q is her late soul mate, Jessica obsesses with a need to know for sure even as the surveillance over every move she and her cohorts make intensifies.

The latest Phoenix Rising (see Fever and Blaze) is an exhilarating thriller in which readers learn more about the original incident, what has happened to the victims since, another identical occurrence, and insight into the shadowy organization watching them. Series fans and Jessica will wonder whether tormented amnesiac Q is Quaid as his mind seems shattered from five years of torture in Joan Swan's super entry.

Murder in Thrall
Anne Cleeland
9780758287915, $24.00

Renowned by law enforcement and the public for solving homicide cases, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Lord Acton, Michael, selects from the department's lowest ranks Detective Constable Kathleen Doyle as his assistant mentee. When she loses Danny Capper, he remains calm while she feels embarrassed. Michael with so much experience is honing her innate skills knowing Kathleen will be a top investigator.

As the veteran and rookie work the murder of a horse trainer, Kathleen continues to err while Michael continues to forgive; and more homicides follow. Attracted to his apprentice and feeling she reciprocates; Michael becomes concerned with her safety as a viable threat to her surfaces so he grounds her to office duty. Attracted to her teacher and feeling he reciprocates; Kathleen becomes concerned with his safety as a viable threat to his life surfaces so she sets out on her own to keep Michael safe.

The first Acton and Doyle Scotland Yard mystery is an engaging whodunit though the romance supersedes the investigation. Still the storyline grips the reader as bumbling Doyle makes rookie mistakes while learning how to stay alive and avoid friendly fire accidents. With a surprising killer adding tension, fans, especially of romantic suspense, will enjoy this British police procedural.

Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones
Kaitlyn Dunnett
9780758272676, $24.00

In Moosetookalook, Maine, Scottish Emporium owner Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin enjoys doing her civic duty by helping the town prepare for the All Hallows Festival. Her husband Dan as the safety inspector thinks otherwise because he and his wife know his work means tsuris.

Liss and Dan inspect the deserted Chadwick Mansion, once home to notorious gangster Blackie O'Hare and allegedly have interred corpses and buried loot. She notices lights on and he wants to insure it is safe for the public as the gala is in the haunted house. The recently married couple sees what they expect in the deserted old house though some items appear missing until the pair finds the corpse of her jailbird cousin Ned Boyd with bites on his neck and blood everywhere. Liss' Aunt Margaret begs her niece to investigate her son's murder. Though she prefers to stay out of the inquiry, blood is thicker than water.

The latest MacCrimmon amateur sleuth (see The Corpse Wore Tartan And Scotched, and Bagpipes, Brides And Homicides) is a delightful cozy as married life does not deter Liss from investigating the murder of her cousin. With viable suspects and rumors of cached stolen money, fans will relish this Halloween treat.

The Dead and the Beautiful
Cheryl Crane
9780758258908, $25.00

In Beverly Hills someone uses a leash to strangle to death Ryan Melton, husband to former Disney teen star Diara Elliot, who is in a new TV series with actress Victoria Bordeaux. The murder weapon belongs to dog walker Alison Sahira, who counts Diara as a client. In the throes of a horrific custody battle Alison refuses to say much. Police Detective Thomas "Detective Cutie-Pants" Dombrowski has probable cause to name her a suspect as even her brother single dad Jeremy Fitzpatrick the dentist, who Alison and her children currently live with, believes she is the killer.

However, Jeremy's girlfriend realtor Nikki Harper rejects the premise that Alison killed the hunk though she distrusts the woman. She, assisted by her mom Victoria and others, investigates the homicide; unaware that Diara's Brat Pack pals have a powerful motive to kill anyone, especially a nosy-body realtor, getting close to a secret they preferred hidden.

The third Nikki Harper amateur sleuth (see The Bad Always Die Twice and Imitation of Death) is a wonderful Hollywood whodunit as Cheryl Crane provides an insider look at the entertainment industry inside of a lighthearted whodunit. Fans will enjoy Nikki's investigation especially her asides to the audience while wondering which Lana Turner film title will be next.

Gone with the Woof
Laurien Berenson
9780758284525, $24.00

Melanie Travis is contented to stay at home with her new baby and her canine horde in their new house while her relatively new husband Sam goes to work and her nine year old son to school. However, six foot sexagenarian Aunt Peg has found her a pet project. Curmudgeon ailing Edward March commissions Melanie to write Puppy Love, his memoir as a dog show judge. To Melanie's chagrin, March's bio focuses on his trysts with numerous breeders and dog show women. His adult son Andrew, who has had his share of the females too, objects.

When someone kills Andrew in a hit-and-run, a traumatized Edward pleads with Melanie to investigate as he needs to know who he believes deliberately murdered his son. Though she accepts, Melanie realizes her task is Herculean as a horde of females had sex with father and or son and probably most would not want a tell-all sexploits published, but she wonders which one would kill to prevent this book from being written.

The sixteenth Melanie Travis amateur sleuth (see Hounded to Death and Doggie Day Care Murder) is an amusing lighthearted twisting mystery as the heroine deals with six canines, a newborn, a tweener, her husband, and the zany others; I'm exhausted typing this. The fast-paced storyline uses the interesting behind the scenes at a dog show as the milieu for an engaging family affair mystery.

Murder On The Rocks
Allyson K. Abbott
9780758280152, $7.99

In Milwaukee, following the murder of her widower father ten months ago, Mackenzie Dalton inherited his Mack's Bar. Thirtyish, "Little Mack" lives above her bar. Thus before her coffee, Mack goes out to toss the trash but finds a corpse next to the dumpster in the alley behind the bar. The cops answer her 911 call. MPD detective Duncan Albright questions Mack who explains her senses are wired differently due to her being a synesthesia. Taking her neurological explanation seriously, Duncan shows her a photo of the victim; stunning Mack as that is her late father's girlfriend Ginny Rifkin

Although Mack is the obvious suspect, Duncan believes the two homicides in the alley are related and knows the bar owner loved her dad. They team up trying to solve the case while her regulars also make inquiries as they rally around their Little Mack.

The first Mack's Bar Mystery is a super whodunit due to the unique heroine whose descriptions of synesthesia is concise yet vivid and helps with the case. Her relationship with Duncan is friendly though there are hints at more to come while the support Capone Club Bucks bring brew eccentricities to the fabulous investigation(s).

Snow Fence Road
Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Black Lyon Publishing
PO Box 567, Baker City, OR 97814
9781934912546, $12.95,

Reclusive carpenter Evan Marston drives sexagenarian Claire to the funeral of Andy Hollinger who died from cancer. Claire worries about the deceased's grieving fiancee Tess Johansen who she invites to spend time at her Spinnaker Inn in Knowle, Maine. Depressed, Claire accepts the invitation as she recalls the wonderful season she and Andy had there.

The inn reminds Evan of when he fell fifty feet while Claire's niece his beloved Celia died in the accident that destroyed his life. Still he and Tess become friends as she buys a share of the inn hoping to regain some equilibrium while concealing her feelings of guilt. When she delivers paintings to a Portland art gallery for a friend, Tess, begins emotionally to heal; and soon afterward her changing demeanor miraculously helps Evan, Claire, and the elderly sad artist Rowan as each learns all work can only numb the pain while love overwhelms the torment.

This is an entertaining contemporary drama starring a wonderful coastal Maine locale and a strong cast with each suffering guilt and remorse that at differing degrees cripple their respective lives. Character-driven, readers will relish this engaging storyline as various requited loving relationships supersede internal strife though you never forget those you lost.

A Study In Silks
Emma Jane Holloway
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345537188, $7.99,

While the ruthless steam barons rule 1888 London, Evelina Cooper enjoys science and is skillful with magic (ask Mouse and Bird) though the sorcery must be hidden as those in power claim this is the demon's tool worthy of death or incarceration in a prison lab. In spite of being the niece of the renowned Sherlock Holmes, Evelina knows the elopement of her parents from two polar opposite worlds permanently brushed her with their scandal. The father of her BFF Imogen Roth has allowed her to stay with them at Hilliard House for her debut; as she chose her mother's aristocratic past over her father's traveling show heritage, but realistic Evelina also realizes if scandal touches her he will kick her out. Imogen's dissolute brother Tobias does not care what happens to Evelina as long as she sleeps with him and Nick who joined a traveling show to find her has reentered her life.

In Hilliard House, Evelina is horrified when she finds the murdered corpse of a woman. Tobias arrives and recognizes the victim as Grace the maid. After consulting with Imogen, both agree that Evelina's uncle would investigate. Thus motivated, the two friends look into the homicide; ignorant of how dangerous their probe will prove to them and their families from powerful barons.

The first The Baskerville Affair, A Study In Silks, is a strong steampunk Victorian mystery. The Holloway world is vivid as the author uses a myriad of characters to paint an alternate refreshing realm though there is some repetition. Fans will enjoy the adventures of Sherlock's niece even if scarlet at times supersedes silk as Emma Jane Holloway provides a fresh Holmes whodunit.

A Crack in the Wall
Claudia Pineiro, author
Miranda France, translator
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524089, $14.95,

In 2007 in Buenos Aires, twenty-something Leonor Corell visits the office of Borla and Associates, an architectural firm. She asks Borla, fortyish Pablo Simo and Marta Horvat if any of them know where Nelson Jara is. Though they rehearsed their response if the question came up and Borla says no, Pablo fails immediately to respond as his world shifted with that inquiry. However, he recovers as he and Marta deny knowing a Jara.

Three years earlier, Simo, Borla and Horvat buried Jara under the concrete of the parking lot. At a cafe, Corell sees Simo and asks him to help her with a photography assignment. Though he should say no, he agrees to assist her while wondering if his motive is guilt or a need for dangerous freshness with his marriage falling apart, his daughter in rebellion, and his work boring while his dream of designing a special tower is dead.

The latest Claudia Pineiro Argentinian thriller (see Thursday night Widows and All Yours) is a fabulous tale that rotates between the Jara burial and the relationship between Pablo and Leonor. Gripping from the moment the young woman asks her question, readers will relish this taut twisting psychological suspense as Simo faces A Crack in the Wall as big as an iceberg.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Unforeseeable: Book 3 of Road to Kingdom Series
Nancy Mehl
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764209291, $13.49 (PB), 336 pages,

Unforeseeable arrived in the mail from the publisher with the request that I consider reviewing it. Granting that request was a pleasure. I'd reviewed Book 1 and 2 of this series and hoped the author would connect all the loose ends in Book 3. Ms. Mehl did not disappoint me.

Kingdom KS is a Mennonite bastion of safety and simplicity. Within this nurturing community, Callie Hoffman struggles with her Mennonite identity. Should she follow her deceased father's strict Mennonite rules, or adopt modern variations? Her fiance, Levi Housler, is pastor of the Kingdom Mennonite Church. Is she equal to the task of being a Mennonite pastor's wife, and is a woman abandoned by her mother worthy of Levi's love? Callie's insecurities are compounded when first one body, then another, is found on the road to Kingdom. Something evil lurks in the darkness. Is the killer one of Kingdom's own?

Nancy Mehl is a master at creating intriguing characters, suspenseful ambience, and providing cozy respite from danger. She pairs comforting wood fires with howling blizzards, murder with leisurely meals at the local cafe, and sinister characters with stalwart Christian believers. Mystery lovers don't have to be Mennonite or Christian to enjoy this book.

It's Coming!
Book One: Awakening
Shirley Priscilla Johnson
4900 LaCross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
ISBN 9781484004258, $11.35, 272 pp.,

Everywhere we look around us we see nothing but bad news: wars; natural disasters; economic turmoil; inhumane cruelty; and endless chaos. Bible-believing Christians know such dark occurrences herald the End Times, that awful time when evil covers the earth so thoroughly that God must intervene. Book One of this series introduces readers to the insidious evils that must be overcome by Christians. The battle will be hard fought, life and death, good vs. evil. Through fictional characters and scriptures, the author clearly outlines the battle plan.

Bob and Priscilla are pastors who know the End Times are upon the world and try to enlighten their congregation through scriptural wisdom and warnings. They're careful to surround themselves with true Christian believers and prayer warriors who will fight evil with faith and strength. Their goal is that not one person be lost to evil, but it's not an easy fight to win because evil has many faces and forms and lives among us.

Chuck and Loren are the opposite of Bob and Priscilla. Chuck is a handsome, successful realtor who doubted heaven and Satan are real, who doubted the End Times and Rapture are real. His bad choices and self-destructive behaviors almost destroyed his marriage and put him and Loren in danger. As Book One ends, only a miracle can save them from a horrifying death.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson writes with humor and sincere concern for all humans everywhere. This is not a dull scholarly study, but an intriguing series created as a warning to mankind from the heart and spirit of a compassionate Christian.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Carol Jean Delmar
Willow Lane Press
P.O. Box 3513, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
9780986035906, $27.99,

"Serenade: A Memoir of Music and Love From Vienna and Prague to Los Angeles, 1927 to World War II to 2012" is a magnificent tribute to the amazing lifelong love of Franz Jung (later Frank Delmar) and Franziska Perger, holocaust survivors, opera performer, costume designer, and proud Americans. Written by their daughter, Carol Jean Delmar, "Serenade" is truly a memoir of operatic background drama, strength, forced adaptability, and enduring love, set in the actual historical context of pre and post war Europe and later, the United States. Beginning in 1927 in Vienna, the young couple meet, fall in love, and explore artistic career beginnings connected with opera performance and theater. History intervenes, and Franz experiences a beginning operatic vocal career in the midst of the Anschluss, when the Nazis take control of Austria. Franz sings the role of Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville in Aussig and sends Franziska to Prague for safety and the couple are married later in Prague during a partial mobilization. Ahead of the couple is a long, tortuous series of journeys to escape the inevitable in Europe, landing in Zurich, Milan, and Genoa, aiming for the United States. Further journeys and trials loom for the couple before they achieve their destination, involving Venezuela, Panama, and Cuba, and unfortunately a forced stay in detention camp in Havana. Finally Franz and Franziska are allowed to enter the United States and begin new lives. Then began a series of amazing adaptations and adjustments for both artists. Franz becomes Frank Delmar and reinvents himself in a career with Western Costume Co. Leading to studio executive and costume design work in Hollywood film and TV. Frank had sacrificed his vocal talents in his detention and stressful flight experiences previously, a great tragedy from which he arose, phoenix -like, fiercely determined to make a new life in America with his beloved wife.

"Serenade" is both a true love story and a historical sampler of suffering and triumph of the human spirit's ability to love. Enriched with many actual photos and document reproductions from the Jungs' pre-emigration collection, it is also a bereft daughter's tribute to both of her beloved, heroic parents. "Serenade" should be read by students of opera, the Holocaust, history, and romance. It can be enjoyed on all levels, informing the heart, soul, and mind of inescapable truths of the endurance of love. Many tears will be shed in the reading of this book, all to the enrichment of the soul's capacity for compassion.

The Composer's Craft
Blake Henson and Gerald Custer, authors
James Jordan, Foreword author
GIA Publications, Inc.
7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638
9781579999766, $24.95,

"The Composer's Craft: A Practical Guide for Students and Teachers" is an unusual composition guide book for emerging composers who are interested in the makeup or the whole process of composition, including the human element. Begun as an ongoing dialogue between experienced, collaborating (and independent) composers, "The Composer's Craft" aims at exploring with the reader/student a shared belief "that why we compose is just as important as what we eventually write (p. 20)." To this end, practical problems in composition and suggested approaches are presented as guiding strategies to enable the composer to refine his craft and skills and enrich his total composition experience. The book is also very encouraging as an experience for non composers. Each reader is encouraged to discover a "deeper connection with music through taking part in the process of its creation (p.22)." Some of the tools suggested include journaling, tackling thorny questions, exploring aspects of creativity, and imagining the role of a composer in a larger context. Each chapter has different listening assignments, reflection suggestions and exercises. The two author's voices are presented as a dialogue in paragraphs titled by their first names, as in a friendly discussion. Included at the end are lists of works for further study divided by categories of solo voice, solo instrument, piano, vocal ensemble, chamber ensemble, and large mixed ensemble. Perhaps a core chapter is Chapter 4, the Anatomy of Composition, but "The Composer's Craft" goes further in scope, addressing different musical voices and also searching for the individual "voice" of the composer and expanding that area and finding venues and arenas to share works. Many inspirational quotations stud these chapters like jewels or touchstones, leading the reader to imagine new musical colors and perspectives for stimulation and joy.

The Language of Music
Tom Brooks, author
Hal Leonard Books
7777 West Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781458402943, $24.99,

"The Language of Music: Practical Music Theory for the Worshipping Musician" is a practical guidebook to basic music theory and construction for the contemporary Christian worship musician, at all levels from beginning to advanced. All is compacted, demystified, and presented for practical applications in arranging, performing, and creating music for worship. Twelve succinct chapters cover music basics plus structures, harmony, frameworks, scales (minor and other), chords, chord relationships, and more. An accompanying DVD offers additional one to one guidance through the material presented in each chapter. "The Language of Music" is a profound help to contemporary worship musicians of many backgrounds in the 21st century, who aspire to continue creating great, inspirational music for worship.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

Hog's Exit
Gayle L. Morrison
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9780896727922, $39.95, 512 pp.,

Synopsis: The American Embassy in Bangkok had reported the accidental death of Jerry "Hog" Daniels by carbon monoxide poisoning. Three decades later, his family and most of his friends remain unconvinced that the U.S. government told them the truth about his death.

As a former CIA case officer to legendary Hmong leader General Vang Pao during the "secret war" in Laos, Jerry Daniels was experienced, smart, and careful. Those who knew him well said he wasn't the type to die as reported. Raising even more doubts, his casket was "Permanently Sealed" by the U.S. State Department before being shipped home to Missoula, Montana, where he was honored with a three-day funeral ceremony organized by his former comrades-in-arms, the Hmong hilltribe warriors from Laos.

"Hog's Exit: Jerry Daniels, the Hmong, and the CIA" examines the unique personality and reported death of a man who was a pivotal agent in U.S./Hmong history. Friends and family share their memories of Daniels growing up in Montana, cheating death in Laos, and carousing in the bars and brothels of Thailand. First-person accounts from Americans and Hmong, ranchers and refugees, State Department officials and smokejumpers capture both human and historical stories about the life of this dedicated and irreverent individual and offer speculation on the unsettling circumstances of his death. Equally important, Hog's Exit is the first complete account in English to document the drama and beauty of the Hmong funeral process.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, organized and presented, "Hog's Exit: Jerry Daniels, the Hmong, and the CIA" offers a unique insight into labyrinthian politics. Of special note is the detailed description of Hmong funeral practices. Very highly recommended for both academic and community library collections, it should also be noted that "Hog's Exit: Jerry Daniels, the Hmong, and the CIA" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

The War Of independence In Kildare
James Durney
Mercier Press
Unit 3B, Oak House, Bessboro Road
Blackrock, Cork, Ireland
9781781171660, $26.95, 264 pp.,

Synopsis: "The War Of independence In Kildare" is a comprehensive history in which James Durney illustrates the unique role that County Kildare had in the Irish War of Independence. "The War Of independence In Kildare" details the group of volunteers who followed the railway track into Dublin to partake in the 1916 rising. He details attacks at Greenhills, Maynooth, and Barrowhouse. "The War Of independence In Kildare" examines the Rath internment camp in the Curragh, and the reaction in the county to the truce, the treaty, and the eventual split in the republican movement in the lead up to the Civil War.

Critique: "The War Of independence In Kildare" is an accurately detailed, impressively documented, and chronologically organized account of the people and events involved in this turbulent period in Ireland's history. Enhanced with extensive notes, and expanded bibliography, and a comprehensive index, "The War Of independence In Kildare" is a strongly recommended addition to academic library 20th Century Irish History reference collections and supplemental reading lists. It should also be noted that "The War Of independence In Kildare" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

My Four Years in Soviet Russia
Yitzhak Erlichson, author
Maurice Wolfthal, translator
Academic Studies Press
28 Montfern Avenue, Brighton, MA 02135
9781618112545, $59.00,

Synopsis: "My Four Years in Soviet Russia" is the memoir of Yitzhak Erlichson, writing under the name Jerzy Edison a Polish Jew who was nineteen years old when he escaped the Nazis by fleeing toward the USSR from his hometown, Wierzbnik. There he hoped to find a land true to its official ideals of justice, equality, and brotherhood. Arrested as an English spy, he was sent to prisons and slave-labor camps, and after his release worked and traveled in the USSR. To his dismay, he found injustice, inequality, and anti-Semitism equal to that of his native Poland. Attempting to join the Polish army forming in the USSR, he was told it was "only for Poles". He married his wife Fania during the war. She nursed him back to health after his last imprisonment. He later returned to Wierzbnik only to learn that none of his family had survived the German occupation.

Critique: "My Four Years in Soviet Russia" is deftly translated into English by Maurice Wolfthal and provides American readers with a truly candid, deftly written, and intensely personal autobiography of what life was like in Communist Russia during the Second World War. Informed and informative, "My Four Years in Soviet Russia" is a fascinating read and would prove a welcome addition to academic library Soviet Studies reference collections.

Gold Fever: San Francisco 1851
Ken Salter
Regent Press
2747 Regent Street, Berkeley, CA 94705
9781587902406, $18.95, 322pp.,

Synopsis: Pierre Dubois and his sexy girlfriend, Manon, sail on the American Clipper, Flying Cloud, for San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush - Dubois tasked to prove mining society fraud and Manon to open a restaurant French law won't allow a woman to own. With most of the easy to mine gold gone and boatloads of new gold seekers arriving weekly, San Francisco is a lawless, raucous, dangerous place in 1851, where quarrels are settled by a gun, men outnumber women 100-1, and crooks rule the streets, bordellos, and gambling palaces. Dubois' and Manon's odyssey lead them through Little China's opium dens, brothels, and gambling lairs, Little Italy's charming trattorias, and on to the gold fields of the Yuba River where American and foreign miners compete in hostile conditions with each other for the rare chance to strike it rich. After the City is torched by the predatory Sydney Ducks gang and a Committee of Vigilance seeks to hang them, Pierre and Manon must make their way and earn their keep or return home defeated and impoverished like most who risked life, health and family debt for a dream of riches.

Critique: "Gold Fever: San Francisco 1851" is a deftly written historical novel and one in which the author, Ken Salter, pays close attention to getting the background details right. The result is a riveting, entertaining novel from first page to last. Very highly recommended reading and an enduringly popular addition to any community library collection, it should be noted that "Gold Fever: San Francisco 1851" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Redacted Dominionism
Christopher Cone
Wipf & Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781620321591, $17.00, 134 pp.,

Synopsis: Critiques of the environmental ramifications of the early Genesis narrative by environmental thinkers such as Aldo Leopold, Ian McHarg, and Lynn White underscore a long-standing tension between the environmental movement and Western Christianity. The evangelical community, especially, has been at odds with the environmental movement, in grounding its theology of human relations to nature on the Genesis narrative-a narrative the environmental community views generally as contributing negatively to environmental matters. "Redacted Dominionism: A Biblical Approach to Grounding Environmental Responsibility" is a literal interpretation of the early Genesis narrative that recognizes human relations to nature are based on theocentric themes. "Redacted Dominionism" understands humanity as initially given dominion over nature, by virtue of the image of God in humanity, but that human disobedience to God tarnished that image, and human qualification for dominion was lost. Post-fall, the dominion mandate is never repeated in Genesis and seems even to be replaced.

Critique: "Redacted Dominionism: A Biblical Approach to Grounding Environmental Responsibility" by Christopher Cone (President of the Tyndale Theological Seminary & Bible Institute) is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Critically important reading, "Redacted Dominionism: A Biblical Approach to Grounding Environmental Responsibility" is a very highly recommended addition to seminary and academic library Contemporary Christian Theology & Environmental Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Equity Of Evil
Rudy A. Mazzocchi
Paladin Timeless Books
9781606192375, $19.95,

Synopsis: Roman Citrano is an entrepreneur and founding partner of a new company offering medical services including abortions. What he discovers is that he and others are part of a conspiracy involving the illegal market in human organs for transplantation in a particularly bizarre form - prime, hyper-enriched organs are being spawned from the aborted fetuses and grown like hydroponic vegetables.

Critique: Rudy A. Mazzocchi draws upon his many years as a medical device and biotechnology entrepreneur, inventor, and investor to craft a first rate and very realistic medical thriller. Deftly written, Mazzochhi has woven a truly suspenseful plot peopled with memorable characters and fully believable background details. The result is one of those novels that lingers in the mind's imagination long after being concluded and set back upon the shelf. Highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections and medical thriller enthusiasts. Also strongly recommended is Mazzocchi's novel "Equity Of Fear" (Kindle $3.99). It should be noted that "Equity Of Evil" is also available in a Kindle edition ($1.99).

Jack Mason

Richard's Bookshelf

The Power of Uncommon Unity: Becoming the Answer to Jesus' Final Prayer
Joey Letourneau
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403497, $15.99, 192 Pages

A Challenge to Experience the Powerful Dynamic of Unity within the Church

Eureka, an "Aha" moment, an epiphany. My eyes were opened to a new understanding of Jesus' prayer recorded in John, chapter seventeen. Jesus lifted His eyes toward heaven in prayer for the disciples: He was also praying for me and for you, that we might be one even as He and the Father are one in a unique unity.

In his book The Power of Uncommon Unity: Becoming the Answer to Jesus' Final Prayer, Joey Letourneau helps the reader discover how to become the answer to this prayer. God wants our generation and generations to come to establish and experience the power of this supernatural unity on earth as was demonstrated by the Christians of the New Testament Church, recognizing our role in a worldwide community.

Letourneau is a vision-caster. His writing is filled with Biblical examples, personal stories, and scriptural challenges to be renewed, transformed, and empowered to pursue His purpose by becoming participants experiencing the benefits and power of unity in our churches.

The Power of Uncommon Unity: Becoming the Answer to Jesus' Final Prayer is an extraordinary revelation of the opportunity to become a part of the body of believer's in an "uncommon unity."

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Spirit of Adoption: Winning the Battle for Children
Randy & Kelsey Bohlender
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403503, $ 14.99, 137 Pages

An Inspiring Story - The Challenge to Embrace the Call to become a Pro-Child Advocate
The Spirit of Adoption: Winning the Battle for Children is a clarion call to the church and its members to stand as a unified body in embracing the call to be Pro-Child. This is the story of Randy and Kelsey Bohlender's experiences after they responded to the call of God to go beyond their convictions - to act on them.

The authors introduce disturbing parallels which demonstrate the political impact of slavery in America during the 1800's with the value of life take by the Supreme Court in their decision of Roe versus Wade in 1973.

A new awareness of the plight of the thousands of orphans in Haiti, after the devastating earthquake in January 2010 dramatically illustrates battle waging over the destiny of children. First, the Haitian government benefit financially through state control of the adoption process. Second, there are the sex traffickers who exploit the children for profit, and third is an awakening awareness of the church to assume responsibility by answering the call to become pro-child.

The Spirit of Adoption: Winning the Battle for Children is a sobering, but rewarding read. Heartbreaking stories illustrate the redemptive benefit that accompany the choice of a full term pregnancy and adoption over the life-long trauma and guilt that accompany abortion. The reader will be better informed, challenged to action, and committed to pray, with a deeper understanding of what it means to be pro-life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Loving Our Kids on Purpose, Making a Heart to Heart Connection
Danny Silk
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403527, $ 16.99, 185 pages

A Model for an Intentional Parenting Lifestyle

Loving Our Kids on Purpose, Making a Heart to Heart Connection provides the reader with a practical and powerful tool for raising children in a warm secure environment where they can develop strong Christian character while discovering God's purpose and will for their lives.

Danny Silk is intentional and intuitive in his resolve to impact not only his family but also the parents within his church, his community and beyond. He describes a far-reaching paradigm shift in the way parents can approach family roles and goals in parenting by looking through "a new set of eyes."

The pages are filled with practical illustrations and scenarios that the reader can identify with which demonstrate the importance of "training up a child" in the nurture of the Lord, and guidelines for motivating obedience, approaching discipline, handling stress, and improving family relationships.

Danny is an articulate communicator; his writing is clear and arresting filled with practical applications and principles for raising kids. His writing is direct; his content chock-full of valuable principles for equipping parents to accept the spiritual challenge to incorporate Biblical ideologies and standards into their parenting approach.

Loving Our Kids on Purpose provides the reader with important guidelines and ideas for forming a child's character, connecting, and communicating with toddlers, children, and teens in ways that will model effective future generations to come.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Discovering Joye - Uncovering the Treasures Inside Ordinary People, Places, Things, and Ourselves
Jim Stovall
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403541, $ 14.99, 174 pages

Poetic Insight Which Insures Success in Every Facet of Life

Bestselling author Jim Stovall's lifelong appreciation of poetry led to the discovery of the writings of Joye Kanelakos. Stovall compiles her poetry into a topical arrangement of nineteen discoveries titled simply Discovering Joye."

In this melding of art and scholarship, Jim adds a story from his personal experiences to produce a beautiful life-changing gift of practical motivation and inspiration. The combination Joye's poetic expression and Jim's remarkable insight become a vast treasure house of sage advice and profound wisdom for ordinary people to uncover guidelines for living successfully in the frenetic complexities of contemporary society.

I found Stovall's observation especially intriguing, "Joye captures the essence of the fleeting nature of the family as the generations pull together, stretch apart, and eventually release from one another while still remaining connected in special and lasting ways."

Stovall adds this bit of observation as his suggested discovery. "Celebrate your family, not in spite of their imperfections but because of them. If families were perfect, they could never include people like you and me."

Discovering Joye provides inspiration and motivation worthy of reading, re-reading, personal contemplation or sharing with others in reading groups. This edition is beautifully bound making it ideal as a meaningful, memorable gift for any and all of those special occasions.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

My Heart Cries Abba - Discovering Your Heavenly Father in a More Personal Way
Hank Kunneman
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403558, $ 15.99, 190 Pages

Discovering More Personal Relationship with Abba God

I experienced a new, more personal and intimate way to approach the all-powerful God, creator of the universe and discovered Abba God, "My Dearest Father," as I read Hank Kunneman's book, My Heart Cries Abba - Discovering Your Heavenly Father in a More Personal Way.

Pastor, author, and founder of One Voice Ministries, Hank Kunneman presents the all-powerful, all knowing, and omnipresent God we worship, as a loving, affirming father, eager to connect heart to heart with His children, as a father to turn to in time of trouble, as a provider, and protector who expresses his love, affirmation, and affection to his sons and daughters.

Kunneman's writing is clear, convicting, and convincing. Power truths from the Scriptures are carefully examined as Kunneman traces the character of God as Abba throughout the Old and New Testaments. His skillful use of word pictures encourages the reader to create visual portrayals of these passages. An in depth study of the life of Jesus demonstrates how his life revealed Abba God.

My Heart Cries Abba is must reading for anyone desirous of a more powerful, personal, and profound relationship with the heavenly father.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Alternate Currents
Arleen Alleman
9781479798322 $14.95

In this read by author, Arleen Alleman, we are taken into the life of two Seattle men, Charlie and Don, and their adopted daughter, Penelope. When Charlie is kidnapped their close friend Darcy travels to help them to the dismay of her soon to be husband, Nick. It seems Darcy always puts others ahead of herself trying to help, often putting her own life in danger, and Nick is not happy about this.

The story goes on to the investigation of the kidnapping. The author does an excellent job bringing in the different characters who may well have done the crime, the authorities that are investigating, and the family and friends, showing the stress on all involved. She does well in her character development and in building her story, bringing it to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

Fingers, Toes and Murder
Dan Kraft
Outskirts Press
9781478702450 $12.95

Our main character, Jonathan moves to Washington DC where he begins to work at the same TV station that his brother does, who is quite famous and popular with all. Jonathan begins to fit right in and his life is moving along nicely, even to the point of having a relationship with a beautiful woman. We begin to meet other characters, a news anchor who is secretly a stripper who becomes involved with a priest! Hum, interesting. Each character is revealed and blended within the read. However, the main line of this is the killer. A person who decides to take justice in his or her own hands against child abusers. Who is this person? Do you think you could figure it out? I was surprised.

I enjoyed this read. The author did a very good job with character and local development, and the development of the mystery killer. He brought the characters, their personalities, clear to the mind's eye, yet left some question as to who the killer could be. The story will definitely keep you guessing. It was a quick read, flowed nicely and had a very good ending. I think you will enjoy this mystery. Well done.

The Power of Imagination
Kerry Kirkwood
Destiny Image Publishing
No ISBN $12.95

I have to say that I believe many things were held back until this time. Now is the time for the people of God to open their hearts to what He needs us to know. We were made in God's image, and I think God's has the greatest imagination ever, and He has given it to His children as well. We just never knew we had it or how to use it, until now.

In this exceptional read, author, Kerry Kirkwood, will open your eyes to the possibilities your Heavenly Father has laid before you with the wonderful gift of imagination that is inside of you. You will learn YOUR Spirit man, if you will, holds secrets of God that can bring you into victory in so many areas of your life. if you are not afraid to imagine. Our author doesn't leave a stone unturned in showing you what is available when you understand and use YOUR Godly imagination. I highly recommend this book to all serious Christians who want to partake of everything their Father God has to give them. Excellent ! thank you, Mr. Kirkwood, for exposing the truth in a critical time that is so needed. God bless you.

The Harbinger
Jonathan Cahn
Front Line Publishing Inc.
9781616386108 $12.00

I truly believe we are now in the midst of "The End Times." As a reviewer and Christian I am amazed and quite pleased at all the books I am seeing concerning this area. I saw the author of this book on 'Praise The Lord,' TV show and I was amazed at what he shared. I simply had to read the book.

The book is written in story form. The author felt more people would be willing to read it this way instead of being all facts. I enjoyed the story, and all the information that was in it. What is it about? The author will show you how America is going through exactly what Israel did when they turned from God in ancient days. He takes you back to 9/ll and shows how this event and happenings that follow are a blue print of Israel when they turned from God and had to face the anger of Him. Believe me, I could hardly believe what I was reading, could this information be true? I knew it was. We and our Nation are in trouble.

It would be impossible for me to even begin to tell you what is in this book, but I will tell you it will definitely change your life, and if it doesn't I really have no words to say. A must read for every American, a wake up call and a cry to turn back to the God that gave this land to us. A must read before it is too late.

Eternity Invading Time
Renny McLean
Advantage Books
9781597550383 $14.95

I have to say this is an amazing book and our author is a blessed man to have the knowledge that he gives to us in this work. I am just now doing a lot of study in this area, and I have to tell you it can be very confusing. One sentence can be packed full of some much revelation and knowledge that you actually have to sit and allow God to download it in your Spirit. As with any book with this type of Spiritual information, it is NOT a fast read.

Do not misunderstand me, I love this book, but I found reading it I had to have quiet time, and also time to be able to reflect on all that I was being told. Our authors knowledge and understanding are amazing and definitely inspired by the Lord. Listen, if you want to move on in your knowledge of Spiritual understanding, walk in more victory as a Christian, and be able to help set yourself and others free, read this book. Read it over and over and over again until this information becomes alive in you. You will not be sorry. Highly recommended.

Obama Confidential: Strange, Odd & Bizarre Letters To The 44th President
Marc Berlin
BB Books, a Division of BSF LLC
9780985962418 $14.95

I was really looking forward to this book because I assumed that it had letters that were actually sent to the President, but I was wrong. The letters in this book are fictitious, so that was a disappointment. However, I am sure that a lot of the topics that are in the letters are written to the President. Some are really crazy and others are in-depth concerning many areas that Americans would be concerned about. Many of them made me giggle, so that was good. It is a well written book and has some really nice pictures of the President in it. A good read to give you an idea of what the President may have to endure in his communications with Americans and just what may be on Americans minds. Interesting.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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