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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 9 September 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Donovan's Bookshelf

Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader
Bathroom Readers' Inst.
c/o Advantage Publishers Group
5880 Oberlin Drive, Suite 400, San Diego, CA 94121
1592232701 $16.95 1-800-788-3123

The new 17th edition of a fun bathroom reader packs in trivia, ironies, odd facts, and a healthy dose of humor into a title which ranges from plain gossip to strange science facts. Meant for quick, light bathroom browsing, SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR covers everything from songs and old wills to movies, working dogs, bat bombs and more, SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR, 17TH EDITION proves hard to put down.

The Flourescent Light Glistening Off Your Head
Scott Adams
Andrews McMeel
4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111
0740751131 $10.95

It's hard to believe, but this is the 25th Dilbert cartoon collection on the market, presenting new cartoons to toiling cubicle business inhabitants everyone - and those who would understand office culture. From Elbonian call center ironies to visiting customer encounters with feng shui, THE FLOURESCENT LIGHT GLISTENING OFF YOUR HEAD is packed with fun.

Father Still Knows Best
Tripp Whetsell
Citadel Press/Kensington
850 - 3rd Ave., New York NY 10022
0806527129 $9.95 1-800-345-2665

From Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy fame to sayings from The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, and The Munsters, FATHER STILL KNOWS BEST: THE WIT AND WISDOM OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE TV DADS gathers some excellent and hilarious one-liners from some of the best TV comedy sitcoms on screen. Makes a great gift for any father.

Humor from the Country
Jerry Apps
Guest Cottage/Amherst Press
P.O. Box 848, Woodruff, WI 54568
0896587169 $16.95 1-800-333-8122

Country wit and advice blends with funny stories, sage country advice, and black and white photos in HUMOR FROM THE COUNTRY by storyteller and historian Jerry Apps. From a horse-drawn plow and its lessons to a lively goat which doesn't work out, HUMOR FROM THE COUNTRY's short stories are funny with more than a touch of wisdom and truth.

Innocent Targets
Michael Dorn & Chris Dorn
Safe Havens International, Inc.
PMB #201, 5540 Thomaston Road, Suite F, Macon, Georgia 31220
097412401X $19.95

Beginning with the 1970 murder of nine Israeli school children, father-son school safety analysts Dorn and Dorn examine the history of school-related terrorist attacks in twelve countries, providing an important assessment of school safely, antiterrorism tactics, and social issues alike. Myths are confronted, realities outlined, and insights on the causes and impact of bad information assessed in a survey essential for both parents and students of terrorist issues nad social science.

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

These excellent outdoor exploration guides offer beginners outstanding opportunities to understand basic elements of the outdoors. Sky-viewers have to fine titles to choose from: Robin Scagell's revised STARGAZING WITH A TELESCOPE (1554070279, $14.95), which covers all the basics from choosing a telescope and setting it up to becoming an amateur observer and taking astro-images. Supplement this with Scagell's larger NIGHT SKY ATLAS: THE MOON, PLANETS, STARS AND DEEP SKY OBJECTS (1554070260, $29.95): maps by Wil Tirion compliment a book packed with color night sky photos and tips on observing the sky in both northern and southern hemispheres, complete with seasonal charts and detailed constellation maps. If you wish to get closer to the ground, choose A.C. Bishop, A.R. Woolley and W.R. Hamilton's GUIDE TO MINERALS ROCKS AND FOSSILS (1554070546, $19.95): among this new edition's distinguishing features are a completely redesigned, revised text, new introduction sections, and new reference appendices. Amateur collectors as well as specialists will find plenty of information plus a field guide packed with color photo examples. Perhaps it's wildlife which is of interest: if so, make sure Chris G. Earley's WATERFOWL OF EASTERN NORTH AMERICA (1554070570, $19.95) is on your reference shelf, if you live in or plan on visiting the East Coast waterways. Ducks, swans, loons, pelicans - all are displayed in their natural environment, with over 200 color photo displays including handy comparison pages by waterfowl group for quick reference. All are solid picks.

Why Not Every Man?
George and Willene Hendrick
Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60622
1566636450 $14.95 1-800-462-6420

George and Willene Hendrick provide a strong history of civil disobedience by African Americans in WHY NOT EVERY MAN? AFRICAN AMERICANS AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IN THE QUEST FOR THE DREAM. From abolitionist years to opposition to Jim crow and beyond, key events and episodes - including many nearly forgotten - illustrate the issues and trace the origins of the idea of civil disobedience. An excellent history of the idea of civil disobedience evolves within the civil rights framework.

Mental Toughness
Karl Kuehl,
Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60622
1566636175 $24.95 1-800-462-6420

'Mental toughness' is here defined as the art of taking control of your life, whether it be relationships, work, or sports. That being said, this book is about baseball - and also, about more. Yes, MENTAL TOUGHNESS: A CHAMPION'S STATE OF MIND could've been featured in 'Sports' - but it would be a shame to limit its readership to just sports enthusiasts when it has so much to offer the business-minded reader too. So, how to 'get tough'? Use the lessons offered up from the sports world in MENTAL TOUGHNESS and apply them to virtually every aspect of business: it works.

Food and Culture In South America
Jose Rafael Lovera
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313327521 $49.95

Joining other fine titles in Greenwood's 'Food Culture Around the World' series, FOOD UCLTURE IN SOUTH AMERICA tells of the traditions and culinary history of the primary cultures and groups which make up modern South American countries. Don't expect another recipe collection here: the focus is on culinary history, heritage and geography and provides plenty of food history from analysis of eating out patterns and major foods to a timeline of developments. Especially recommended for college-level collections strong in ethnic and food history.

Artists of World War II
Barbara McCloskey
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313321531 $59.95

Surprisingly, ARTISTS OF WORLD WAR II is the first global survey of art during the war, and gathers biographies of such artists along with discussions of war-era art trends around the world. Of particular note are discussions which allow readers to compare not only artists' experiences of war in different countries, but their different responses to their experiences, from support of war efforts to criticism. Add discussions of the influence of artists' productions on war and you have an intriguing survey which goes beyond the art world.

The Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare
Joseph Rosenblum, Editor
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313327793 $299.95

If it's a definitive and comprehensive student's reference you seek to Shakespeare, for either advanced high school through college-level grades, then Greenwood's weighty 4-volume COMPANION TO SHAKESPEARE: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR STUDENTS is the item of choice. Overviews of the history, comedy, tragedy and romance writings of Shakespeare offer students scene-by-scene analysis of plots, as well as a general overview summary of each work. Themes, interpretations of meaning, reviews of controversies surrounding each work are provided in clear, scholarly analysis. An exquisite interplay of critical thinking and analysis encourages college-level students to delve into Shakespeare's skills and literary devices.

Chemical Composition of Everyday Products
John Toedt, Darrel Koza, Kathleen Van Cleef-Toedt
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313325790 $49.95

Both high school and college collections strong in chemistry will want to add this helpful analysis to their collection: over 100 groups of products receive attention to not only chemical composition, but historic product use, functions, and related issues. Ten lab exercises provide students with observation keys, making CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF EVERYDAY PRODUCTS the perfect supplemental text for introductory chemistry courses. Easy to access and understand, relating to everyday materials from soap and cosmetics to baby products what more could one wish for?

China Today
Jing Luo, Editor
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313321701 $199.95, 2 Vols.,

College-level reference holdings will be delighted with the weighty two-volume reference CHINA TODAY: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OFL IFE IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC. An A-Z encyclopedic format covers all aspects of modern China, from education and technology to foreign investment, intellectual participation in society, and economics. These aren't just category summary listings: articles on each listing provide depth and detail, from a thorough coverage of history and social issues to a bibliography for further reading.

Greenwood Press
Box 5007 Westport, CT 06881-5007

Janet Long-Solis and Luis Alberto Vargas' FOOD CULTURE IN MEXICO (031332431X, $49.95) provides an excellent review of the ingredients in Mexican food culture and how they evolved, offering a survey of rural and urban eating alike, considering Mexican food's transitions beyond Mexico's borders, and providing an excellent blend of timeline, historical and culture overview, and culinary insights. Recipes aren't neglected either, though the series is more valued for its many culinary insights than for recipes alone. F. Xavier Medina's FOOD CULTURE IN SPAIN (0313328196, $49.95) achieves the same for Spanish cuisine, covering typical dishes and drinks, Spanish wines, the evolution of home and restaurant cooking, and more. Peter Heine's FOOD CULTURE IN THE NEAR EAST, MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (0313329567, $49.95) provides a discussion of foods of the region, with discussions of ingredients, kitchen set-up, and cultural influences accompanying selected traditional recipes. The blends of social and cultural insights are very well done in this Greenwood Press 'Food Culture Around the World' series.

Karim Rashid
3828839957 $29.99

Computer graphics lend to producing two- and three-dimensional decorative works, and designer Karim Rashid's DIGIPOP project explores these dimensions by theme, showcasing his geometrical patterns both as designs in and of themselves, and in applications from clothing to figures. He's created these designs over a ten-year period: chapters examine the use and application of themes over a broad spectrum of artistic goals.

Japanese Erotic Fantasies
Chris Uhlenbeck, Ellis Tinios, Cecilia Segawa Seigle
Hotei Publishing
CCRI Numbero 1964, 1000 VC Amsterdam, Pays-Bas/Netherlands
9074822665 $95.00

Plenty of books have been written on Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo period - but usually erotic imagery receives short rift, so it's refreshing to see a presentation focusing exclusively on such art. JAPANESE EROTIC FANTASIES: SEXUAL IMAGERY OF THE EDO PERIOD also goes beyond presenting woodblocks and prints: chapters analyze intention, representation, and significant achievements in the Japanese art world. The authors are a Japanese print dealer with a specialty bookstore, an honorary lecturer, and a professor: they bring a scholarly analysis to a book packed with gorgeous color reproductions.

A Pike in the Basement
Simon Loftus
Eland Publishing Ltd.
61 Exmounth Mkt., London EC1R 4QL
0907871240 $18.99

If it's witty armchair travel you seek, then Simon Loftus' A PIKE IN THE BASEMENT: TALES OF A HUNGRY TRAVELLER is for you. Loftus has a sense of adventure, a love of food and travel, and a nose for trouble, at times. Mouth-watering descriptions of food, people and local color permeate a warm, witty account of some sixteen tales - each of which ends with a local recipe and wine tips. Very highly recommended.

Audio Editions
Auburn, CA 95604

Four fine new books on cd promise leisure listeners hours of intrigue and listening pleasure. Agatha Christie's WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK EVANS? (1572704551, $29.95) receives Emilia Fox's British voice and acting prowess as it tells of one Bobby Jones, who discovers an injured man and hears his last words before he dies. From then on Bobby himself faces danger as he's forced into an willing investigation into murder. Donna Leon's BLOOD FROM A STONE (1572704683, $31.95) receives veteran David Colacci's smooth and vivid theatrical abilities as it tells of an African street vendor killed just before Christmas. Inspector Brunetti finds the death of a seemingly inconsequential man holds implications for the entire immigrant society in a complex set of plots and patterns of intrigue. Rex Stout's THE FATHER HUNT (1572704594, $27.95) benefits from veteran actor and narrator Michael Prichard's ongoing dramatizations, which are no less powerful here. A young woman determined to learn the identity of her long-last father hires Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin to take on the case of his disappearance, only to find she may become a murder victim unless she can solve the puzzle of her heritage first. Robert Littell's LEGENDS (1572704853, $39.95) tells of a discharged CIA agent turned private detective who struggles with his own memory lapses and identity. Grover Gardner's extensive background in audio narration provides tension and exquisite detail to this gripping thriller.

Art of Project management
Scott Berkun
1005 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastopol, CA 95472
0596007868 $39.95

How can a manager make sure a team is properly motivated and organized to get the job done right? One of the ways is by consulting Scott Berkun's ART OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT. Berkun worked t Microsoft for ten years on various project, working with groups and consulting and teaching development teams. His experience with all kinds of projects and groups lends to discussions which range from shielding a team from distractions and some processes outside the workgroup to using and interpreting research, specifications, and more. From making mistakes to damage control in a project environment, THE ART OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT covers, in depth, many of the common obstacles in a business environment. Very highly recommended indeed.

Your Rights at Work
Richard C. Busse
Sphinx Publishing/Sourcebooks
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
1572485051 $14.95 1-800-432-7444

Take advantage of the workplace rules which are your rights - but understand them, first - in YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK, which answers typical questions ranging from termination and daily workplace environment to surviving discipline and settling disputes in and outside of court. From employer contracts to employee benefits, YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK is a virtual bible of workplace law and its applications.

How to Parent With Your Ex
Brewette McWhorter Sember
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
1572484799 $12.95 1-800-432-7444

HOW TO PARENT WITH YOUR EX: RESIDENTAL & NON-RESIDENTIAL PARENT holds wide value as it addresses a major social issue: parenting after divorce; and thus is featured here to reach audiences of non-parents and other concerned adults. An unusual 'flip over' format packs two books into one, with the Nonresidential Parent addressing the special concerns of the parent who lives elsewhere, and the Residential Parent addressing the parent who has daily custody of the child. From changing one's relationship with the child upon divorce and overcoming hostility to creating a new partnership with the child's needs the focus, this is a wonderful resource which addresses all the emotional and social conflicts parenting after divorce brings.

A Hero of Our Time
Mikhail Lermontov
Hesperus Press/Trafalgar Square, Dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
184391106X $14.00 1-800-423-4525

Talented Pecorin is bored and decides to leave civilization in search of adventure in the wilds of the Southern Caucasus - instead finding further isolation in his life. Poet and novelist Mikhail Lermontov was a leading figure in Russian Romantic literature, and this presents his only novel, a hard-hitting survey of social alienation, published in the early 19th century.

The Legend of Napoleon
Sudhir Hazareesingh
Granta UK/Trafalgar Square, Dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
1862076677 $35.00 1-800-423-4525

Napoleon's legacy was the modernization and beautification of Paris, but his trials and exile remain more well-known than his contributions. THE LEGEND OF NAPOLEON draws on new archival research material to trace the emergence of the Napoleonic myth and how it fostered ongoing popular affection for the emperor. Chapters examine why the legends surrounding Napoleon continue to this day - and they present plenty of realities based on research.

Making and Manipulating Marionettes
David Currell
Crowood Press/Trafalgar Square Press
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
1861266634 $50.00 1-800-423-4525

Relatively few books exist on marionettes, much less highly illustrated and covering both their construction and their use. Enter David Currell's MAKING AND MANIPULATING MARIONETTES, written by a leading puppet theatre authority who was co-founder of the national Puppet Center and its chairman for nearly 20 years. Add a degree in arts and a teaching background and you have the perfect author of choice to explain the particulars of marionette manipulation and construction.

Complicated Shadows
Graeme Thomson
14 High St., Edinburgh EH1 1TE
2841956651 L8.99

Elvis Costello is one of the most unusual figures in rock, pop and other musical genres, and COMPLICATED SHADOWS: THE LIFE AND MUSIC AND ELVIS COSTELLO is a definitive biographical coverage of the man and his music. Graeme Thomson used interviews from schoolmates, band members, and others to trace the course of Costello's diverse career, and to consider his extensive contributions. From previously unpublished lyrics from Costello's earliest songs to controversial album releases, COMPLICATED SHADOWS presents a full view of the man and his magic, spiced with a centerfold of black and white photos. Highly recommended for any Costello listener.

Fashion, Retailing and A Bygone Era
Isadore Barmash,
Beard Books
Washington, DC
1587982692 $34.95

Women's Wear Daily has reflected many years in the fashion industry, with the publication's editors viewing many changes in fashion and retailing over the decades. Seven former editors of Women's Wear Daily join forces to look back at these years, considering changes in fashion, marketing trends, and more. Chapters present first-person insights on being involved in the fashion industry, discussing changes experienced by one of the top industry newspapers and the special challenges faced by each editor's tour of duty. An engaging, vivid survey is created which will interest both lay readers and fashion industry pros alike, providing lively first-person insights.

7 Steps to Leaving the Rat Race
Ajay Ahuja
3 Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, Oxford, UK, OX4 1RE
1857039432 9.99 Brit. pounds

Tired of commuting and handling an office environment? Want to change your life? Then read this book, which intends to motivate listeners to leave jobs they hate in favor of work they love. From evaluating one's position and its pros and cons to overcome fear and minimizing fixed cost of living in the early stages, 7 STEPS TO LEAVING THE RAT RACE: FREE YOURSELF FROM THE 9 TO 5 GRIND covers part-time work, self-employment opportunities, and how to live like a pauper during the early stages of change.

Backbeat Books
600 Harrison St., San Francisco CA 94107

Two very different, highly recommended music books are recommended pick for any contemporary music book collection. Will Romano's INCURABLE BLUES: THE TROUBLES & TRIUMPH OF BLUES LEGEND HUBERT SUMLIN (0879308338, $17.95) focuses on Hubert Sumlin, blues guitarist, who overcame cancer and alcoholism to move Chicago blues to new heights. Sumlin was heard on most of Howlin Wolf's Chess recordings, yet has received comparatively little in-depth coverage, even though his style inspired Jimi Henrix, Santana and many other famous names. Interviews with Sumlin himself supplement those with his associates in this vivid history. John Elnarson's MR. TAMBOURINE MAN: LIFE AND LEGACY OF THE BYRDS' GENE CLARK (0879307935, $19.95) is told through recollections of those closest to Clark, the founding member and front man of the Byrds. Clark was a key figure in the rock music movement; yet much of his legacy has been obscured until MR. TAMBOURINE MAN: chapters examine the man's ups and downs in the music world, and his lasting talents.

Da Capo' Press
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142

Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald's THE MAYOR OF MACDOUGAL STREET: A MEMOIR (0306814072, $26.00) provides the memory of Dave Van Ronk, leader of the New York folk revival scene in the 1950s, who died in 2002. He was a singer, guitarist, and pioneer of modern acoustic blues, and was also a major figure on the Village scene, influencing fellow musicians in coffee houses and cafes. From his encounters with fellow folk players to notable contemporaries, THE MAYOR OF MACDOUGAS STREET traces the evolution of a social and musical era. Pat Gilbert's PASSION IS A FASHION: THE REAL STORY OF THE CLASH (030681434X, $18.95) is a lively coverage of the punk group which emerged from London in the 1970s to change the world with their politically-charged rock sound. You'd think there would have been many exposes of this popular group by now, but PASSION IS A FASHION is the first to examine The Clash's ten-year history, using over 70 interviews with key fans, friends and producers and conversations with The Clash members themselves. Whether you relish The Clash or not, if you have any interest in the 1970s sound or punk scene, PASSION IS A FASHION is a 'must'.

R&B: Rhythm & Business
Norman Kelley, Editor
Akashic Books
PO Box 1456, New York NY 10009
1888451688 $15.95

Plenty of books have been written about r&b music in the past, but R&B: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF BLACK MUSIC is something very different, so don't anticipate the usual lineup of musicians and trends here. Who profits from black musics from gospel to hip hop? Norman Kelley and other journalists and musicians join forces in R&B to consider how black music has been fostered, marketed and distributed in America. The eye on who benefits from these marketing efforts is revealing, as is the exploration of how and why blacks have interacted within the music business.

Sounds of the Silk Road
Mitchell Clark
MFA Publications
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-5523
0878466886 $24.95 1-800-338-2665

Any student of Asian music should not be without SOUNDS OF THE SILK ROAD: MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF ASIA: it's the first to provide a detailed survey of the history of musical instrument development throughout Asia, drawing on the MFA's collection of Asian instruments as a foundation for examining some fifty key instruments. But, you needn't be a student to enjoy SOUNDS OF THE SILK ROAD's history: general-interest listeners will find plenty to attract here, from the history to color photos of zithers to drums. A simply lovely overview.

Turn the Beat Around
Peter Shapiro
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York NY 10003
0571211941 $26.00 1-888-330-8477

Fans of disco music who are tired of the music being criticized will welcome music writer Peter Shapiro's celebration of disco in TURN THE BEAT AROUND: THE SECRET HISTORY OF DISCO. Disco was more than the Village People: it was a democracy and a music revolution all at once, celebrating new beats and sexuality: a unique marriage between emerging gay sexual awareness and post-civil rights sentiments. Don't expect just a music history here: plenty of cultural insights pack TURN THE BEAT AROUND to give it a decidedly scholarly bent.

Billy Joel
Hank Bordowitz
Billboard Books/Watson-Guptill
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003
0823082504 24.95 1-800-451-1741

Pianist Billy Joel began as a middle-class Long Island NY gang member, working as a boxer and musician to make ends meet - until his 1973 album PIANO MAN shot him to the heights of fame. BILLY JOEL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF AN ANGRY YOUNG MAN follows musician Joel's big moments, his movement from pop to classical composition and on to Broadway, his sordid life, and more. Interviews blend with research to offer a full-faceted portrait of a complex young man's encounters with the changing music industry. An intriguing story of success and change evolves.

The Horse Behavior Problem Solver
Jessica Jahiel
Storey Publications
210 Mass MoCa Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175244 $19.95

Horses have a language and behaviors which are unique, but people can use this to better understand the horse's personality and needs. Here are answers to 101 common horse behavior problems based on this understanding, from handling a head-shy or kicking horse to understanding how and why a horse responds. Author Jessica Jahiel is a lecturer and expert on equine behavior: real-life case studies blend with an easy question/answer format to explain and explore horse reactions.

Complete Idiot's Guide To Designer Dogs
Margaret H. Bonham
Alpha Books/Penguin
375 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
159257369X $14.95 1-805-523-9270

It's said that dogs which are a cross between two breeds are good buys - but what are their advantages? 'Designer dogs' have some pros and cons which COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO DESIGNER DOGS covers, from typical designer breeds to how to choose a breeder and understanding genetic limitations, pros, and cons. From breed characteristics and history to where to best buy a 'designer dog', would-be owners have lots of facts at their fingertips, here.

Your Outta Control Puppy
Teoti Anderson
TFH Publications
One TFH Plaza, Neptune City, NJ 07753
0793829003 $12.95 1-800-631-2188

Turn your puppy into a well-behaved pet with a puppy management book by a professional dog trainer, YOUR OUTTA CONTROL PUPPY. A puppy can wreck a household with chewing and bad habits unless an owner can control it: here are unusual step-by-step suggestions for controlling typical puppy misbehaviors from chewing and barking to nipping and jumping. Each chapter of training tips comes with color photos and an overview of what the owner will learn, too. An invaluable guide and perfect gift for that new puppy owner.

The Rally Course Book
Janice Dearth
Alpine Publications
PO Box 7027, Loveland, CO 80537-7027
1577790677 $24.95 1-800-777-7257

AKC rally exhibitors will find THE RALLY COURSE BOOK: A GUIDE TO AKC RALLY COURSES a perfect introduction to instructor/exhibitor rally courses, from lessons on creating rally courses and turns to using exhibitor sheets Exhibitors, instructors and judges alike will find this key to designing and judging Rally: the AKC signs are accepted AKC Non-Regular Obedience Class Signs from the latest 2004 holdings, while the author's insights - which come from a judge of over 800 handler/dog teams at venues over a four-year period - comes from an expert's point of view. Plenty of charts throughout clarify course modifications and set-up.

The Wild Coast: Volume 1
John Kimantas
351 Lynn Avenue, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, V7J 2C4
1552856488 $24.95 1-888-980-9852

The coast of Vancouver Island is rugged and wild - and ideal for any who want adventure and wish to venture beyond the usual tourist area of Victoria City, the focus of most Vancouver Island travel guides. Whether it's hiking or kyaking, author John Kimantas explores the outer coast from Part hardy to Esquimalt with Kayakers in mind, presenting all the details on wilderness campsites, coastal ecology and attractions, wildlife, and waters alike. Color photos and maps abound, tips for further exploration pack the pages, and both North and West Vancouver Island receive in-depth attention. If you're planning an outdoors vacation on Vancouver Island - especially one involving kayaks - you simply can't miss THE WILD COAST: VOLUME ONE.

South Africa titles
Struik/International Publishers Marketing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605

Two outstanding visual celebrations of South Africa are highly recommended picks, particularly as relatively few coffee-table-type titles on the country are available in this country. Elaine Hurford's SOUTH AFRICA: MAGIC LAND (1868257711, $39.95) packs in over 200 photos from the country's top photographers and pairs them with Hurford's text reviewing the country's natural beauty. From giraffes to a windmill and tidal lands, SOUTH AFRICA MAGIC LAND's focus is upon diverse natural areas to expand perceptions of the country's natural beauty - and it succeeds in entrancing readers. Ditto for SOUTH AFRICA: A VISUAL CELEBRATION (1868259579, $49.95), a larger-sized show book gathering more stunning photos from the country's photographers. Both people and natural areas are contrasted in oversized, full-page glory. If only two picture-oriented books on South Africa were chosen for a discriminating collection, it should be these visual displays: the photography is outstanding.

Fulcrum Publishing
16100 Table Mountain Parkway #300, Golden, CO 80403

Two wonderful new guides offer excellent travel coverages for travelers. The third edition of Don & Barbara Laine's THE NEW MEXICO GUIDE: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT (1555913180, $14.95) represents years of travel through New Mexico - plus thirty-five years of residency. From cattle drives and state parks to old town attractions and monuments, New Mexico is divided into regions with each given thorough coverage on everything from what to see and local color to where to stay and eat. A wonderful travel planner. VALLEY OF THE DUNES: GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE by Bob Rozinski and Wendy Shattil, with text by Audrey DeLella Benedict (155591523X, $19.95) is as much an armchair read as it is a destination guide, providing a photographic tribute to Colorado's San Luis Valley and Great Sand Dunes National Park. Text discusses and describes wildlife while the gorgeous full-page color photos which pack nearly each page provide stunning visual displays.

Countryman Press
PO Box 748, Woodstock, VT 05091

Other travel guides on the market cover Maine alone, but few offer the depth of Christina Tree & Nancy English's AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE TO MAINE (0811506680 $19.95), which packs in hundreds of updated web sites in its 12th edition of opinionated reviews of everything from accommodations of all types to dining and sightseeing. From reviews of and advice on seasonal attractions to local history and color and plenty of outdoors areas, AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE TO MAINE is the item of choice for any destination-bound visitor. If it's art towns you like to visit, which hold galleries, museums and festivals as their lure, don't miss John Villani's THE 100 BEST ART TOWNS IN AMERICA: A GUIDE TO GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, FESTIVALS, LODGING AND DINING (0881506419, $19.95). It includes some of Canada in its coverage of small towns which hold special attractions in the arts, from theater to visual arts venues. Discussions include the local art scene's assets and overall artistic atmosphere, reviews of specific venues, and venue hours and locations. Of course, accommodations are featured as well - but the meat lies in the arts venue listings and descriptions, which would be hard to find handily under one cover, elsewhere.

Denali National Park
Carrie Compton, Compiler
W.W. West
20875 Sholes Rd., Bend, OR 97702
0972792198 $5.95

Don't expect the usual hardcover-sized title in DENALI NATIONAL PARK: it's not meant for either coffee table nor take-along tote, but as a mini-book pictorial celebration of Denali's wildlife, holding small color photos and one-line natural history observations. Tom Walker, one of Alaska's leading nature photographers, contributes the lovely color photos to this mini-keepsake.

Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley, CA 94703

Four new titles join others in Ulysses' outstanding 'Hidden' travel series of state guides blending vacation with adventure options to appeal to those who want a taste of adventure without the white water. Susan Farewell's HIDDEN MAINE (1569754608, $15.95) juxtaposes lodging and dining tips with hiking and outdoors suggestions, focusing on special attractions unique to Maine, such as a good value fish restaurant located off the beaten path, or special boat tours available in certain areas. HIDDEN MAINE is packed with historic sights, drives and shopping opportunities perfect for Maine visitors. Catherine O'Neal's HIDDEN CAROLINAS (1569754845, $17.95) provides opinionated, recommended reviews of local attractions from folk art to scenic mountain hikes. From small cafes to parks and valleys off the beaten path, HIDDEN CAROLINAS is packed with suggestions for all types of vacationers. Marty Olmstead's HIDDEN TENNESSEE (1569754853, $16.95) surveys local inns, restaurants, and Tennessee attractions, from museums and outdoor opportunities to botanical garden tours, providing visitors with a wide range of touring choices, while Eric Lucas' HIDDEN WASHINGTON (1569754861, $15.99) covers some of the ethnic restaurants and neighborhoods of the state, adding in plenty of local history and color. All lend to use as take-along totes.

In Search of River Phoenix
Barry C. Lawrence
Wordsworth Publishing
PO Box 471, Penngrove, CA 94951
0967249198 $26.95

Few books begin their journey to publication with the foundations of Barry C. Lawrence's IN SEARCH OF RIVER PHOENIX: THE TRUTH BEYOND THE MYTH with a dream out of nowhere yet a powerful dream in which the dead actor River Phoenix asked Lawrence to discover the truth about his life led to a years-long, in-depth probe of River's short life and many films: a probe which was to involve Lawrence with River's closest friends, family members, and fellow actors. You don't have to be a River fan to appreciate IN SEARCH OF RIVER PHOENIX: it reads like a novel, with all the drama, action, and yes, even intrigue of fiction - yet Lawrence's goal was to dispel the veil of myths surrounding River's short life, and reveal the realities and facts of his controversial short life and career - and Lawrence achieves this and more in an exciting blend of drama and documentary: classic docu-drama translated to print. Highly recommended.

Applause Books
19 West 21st Street, #201, NY, NY 10010

John Willis has two excellent film and theatre roundups out, which should be considered 'musts' for enthusiasts of film and stage. His SCREEN WORLD: 2004 FILM ANNUAL VOLUME 55 ( 1557835396, $24.95) is co-written with associate editor Barry Monush and packs in the black and white photos as it defines the world of 2004 cinema productions. Photographic stills and film credits accompany biographical notes on selected actors and achievements. THEATRE WORLD VOLUME 59 with Ben Hodges (1557836353, $24.95) covers the 2002-2003 stage season, both off-Broadway and further beyond, offering a statistical and pictorial survey of classic companies' productions. From series productions to professional regional companies, THEATRE WORLD is packed with description.

Manhattan On Film
Chuck Katz
Limelight Editions
512 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
0879103191 $17.95

If you're Manhattan-bound with a love of film, don't forget to pack the latest revised, expanded edition of MANHATTAN ON FILM: WALKING TOURS OF HOLLYWOOD'S FABLED FRONT LOT. Here are fourteen walking tours of Manhattan's most famous film locations under one cover, packed in a format which lends to coat pocket as much as purse, and providing street maps, directions, photos from movie shots and a quick-check film index in back. An outstanding walking guide for Manhattan film fans.

The Dolby Era
Gianluca Sergi
Manchester University Press/Palgrave
175 - 5th Avenue, #400, NY, NY 10010
0719070678 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

For a close inspection of film sound evolution in modern Hollywood productions, check out film studies lecturer Gianluca Sergi's THE DOLBY ERA: FILM SOUND IN CONTEMPORARY HOLLYWOOD, part of the 'Inside Popular Film' series. New sound technologies have created new powerful tools for filmmakers, yet few coverages of Hollywood have focused on these tools: THE DOLBY ERA uses historical analysis and interviews with some of the creators of Dolby sound itself to trace the evolution of sound in Hollywood from the early 1970s to modern times.

Newmarket Press
18 East 48th Street, New York NY 10017

Fans of Jaws or Douglas Adams will find two specialty publications revealing. Carl Gottlieb's THE JAWS LOG: 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1557046778, $15.00) remains the only book on how the young Steven Spielberg translated Peter Benchley's best-selling novel into the equally best-selling classic film JAWS. This detail of screenwriter Carl Gottlieb's year-long adventure first appeared in 1975: this 30th anniversary edition provides a keepsake hardcover for the first time, with a new foreword by the author. A real keeper. Robbie Stamp edits THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: THE FILMING OF THE DOUGLAS ADAMS CLASSIC (155704676X, $35.00) presenting the author's friend and executive producer's insights into the making of the film. From handling real sets and creatures to interviews with others involved in the film's production, storyboards, sketches and unique artwork pair with cultural references and insights to make THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: THE FILMING OF THE DOUGLAS ADAMS CLASSIC a fan's dream.

From Alien to the Matrix
Roz Kaveney
I.B. Tauris
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1850438064 $14.95

Much has happened in the world of science fiction cinema in the past few decades: the science fiction movie has earned a place in the mainstream, and has replaced the novel as the genre's primary media of choice. FROM ALIEN TO THE MATRIX: READING SCIENCE FICTION FILM offers a guide to science fiction movies large and small, considering plots, performances, cultural influences and genre changes with a critical yet lively eye. From the influence of Asimov on the robot dramas of science fiction to the fostering of comedy in the genre, FROM ALIEN TO THE MATRIX is packed with important insights in a very readable, lively format.

Just Making Movies
Ronald L. Davis
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211-6492
1578066913 $20.00 1-800-737-7788

From the late 1930s to the mid-50s, five big movie studios dominated Hollywood's films, fostering an era of assembly-line production and creating a tier system of screenplay and director connections under long-term contracts. JUST MAKING MOVIES: COMPANY DIRECTORS N THE STUDIO SYSTEM provides interviews with twelve house directors from this era, probing the politics and operations of the big studio film machine. Chapters reflect on director experiences with famous personalities, studio contract experiences, shoot memories, and much more.

The Movie Business
Kelly Charles Crabb
Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0743253924 $28.00 1-800-223-2336

If it's an overview to the various challenges of getting a movie produced which is needed, make it THE MOVIE BUSINESS: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE LEGAL AND FINANCIAL SECRETS OF GETTING YOUR MOVIE MADE. Thousands of people have great movie ideas, but there's a logical (and long) path from thought to fruition, which THE MOVIE BUSINESS explores. Chapters cover everything from movie tie-ins to publicity and promotion arms to acquiring a screenplay, financing a production, assembling actors and directors, and assessing expenses at every step of the way. An essential guide for would-be movie producers.

Gurze Books
PO Box 2238, Carlsbad, CA 92018

Two important guides to eating disorders are very specific in their insights. Margo Maine, Ph.D.'s second edition of FATHER HUNGER: FATHERS, DAUGFTERS, AND THE PURSUIT OF THINNESS (0936077492, $15.95) is based on ten years of further study conducted since the first edition, and details the origins of 'father hunger' and its effects on the family as a whole. Included here are tips to help fathers and daughters understand their relationship and its influence on the pursuit of food and body image. The fifth edition of Lindsey Hall and Leigh Cohn's BULIMIA: A GUIDE TO RECOVERY (093607731X, $14.95) answers the questions most commonly asked about the condition, adds details from over 400 recovered and recovering bulimics, and offers advice both both bulimics and their families. Included is something many eating disorder guides would have avoided years ago: a three-work program to stop bingeing, offering many ideas based on the root causes of bulimia.

Addicus Books
PO Box 45327, Omaha, NE 68145

Three excellent health titles tackle very specific topics and offer consumers advice on subjects usually 'buried' in more general health texts. Paul Ruggieri, MD and Scott Isaacs, MD's A SIMPLE GUIDE TO THYROID DISORDERS FROM DIAGNOSIS TO TREATMENT (1886039631, $14.95) discusses all the basics; from how the thyroid gland works and symptoms of common problems to handling both physical and psychological problems caused by a malfunctioning thyroid. An excellent overview. Dental implants are becoming the treatment of choice for many with ongoing tooth problems, and Thomas Balshi, DDS,'s A PATIENT'S GUIDE TO DENTAL IMPLANTS (1886039658, $14.95) surveys the benefits of these implants, how they are inserted, possible risks, and how long they last. An excellent review of procedures, options, and results. Jon Mendelsohn, MD,'s YOUR OCMPLTE UGIDE TO FACIAL COSMETIC SURGERY (1886039704, $19.95) discusses all kinds of facial cosmetic surgery options, from facelifts and nose reshaping to chin implants and wrinkle fillers. From laser to chemical peels, every kind of option is surveyed.

Don't Eat This Book
Morgan Spurlock
375 Hudson St., New York NY 10014-3657
0399152601 $21.95 1-800-847-5515

Morgan Spurlock's DON'T EAT THIS BOOK: FAST FOOD AND THE SUPERSIZING OF AMERICA is no history or celebration of the fast food industry, but an account of the author's thirty-day diet eating nothing but McDonald's as a reuslt of his ongoing probe into the effects of fast food habitso n American health. Here Spurlock considers the expansion of fast foods into schools and homes, how it's marketed, and how it competes with physical education to create obese children and adults with accompanying physical problems. Interview with experts in 20 US cities reveals research from lawmakers to health experts who share their insights into fast food. Add more than a dose of comedy and you have a winner.

After a Stroke
Cleo Hutton
Demos Medical Publishing
386 Park Avenue South #201, New York NY 10016
1932603115 $16.95

From communication to home management and travel, life after a stroke often is vastly changed. For an idea on how to best manage these many changes, choose Cleo Hutton's AFTER A STROKE: 300 TIPS FOR MAKING LIFE EASIER. Hutton, herself a stroke survivor, discusses all kinds of topics from intimacy to recreation and safety: stroke survivors receive numerous practical tips on adjusting the little and big things which make life easier.

Overdosed America
John Abramson, MD
Harper Perennial
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
0060568534 $13.95 1-800-242-7737

From Celebrex to anti-depressants, the commercialization of medical knowledge is resulting in a country which is increasingly overdosed and over-medicated, and in a medical world where doctors are continuously misled by pharmaceutical companies and biased studies: that's the message of OVERDOSED AMERICA: THE BROKEN PROMISE OF AMERICAN MEDICINE. Chapters present damning evidence in this expose of American medical dangers, which refutes many 'miracle drugs' being touted as cures today.

Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228

Eldercare caregivers now have a companion title to Susan Beerman, MS, MSW & Judith Rappaport-Musson, CSA's prior acclaimed ELDERCARE 911: THE CAREGIVER'S COMPLETE HANDBOOK FOR MAKING DECISIONS, in THE ELDERCARE 911 QUESTION AND ANSWER BOOK (1591022932 $20.00). Here are the tested answers to common problems encountered by caregivers, from elders who are time abusers and demanders to handling dementia, juggling work demands with caregiving requirements, and more. Plenty of case histories supplement real-life questions and answers. Consumers seeking a guide to the latest lab tests will welcome Mary C. Ricotta, Ph.D.'s A CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO LABORATORY TESTS (1591022479, $21.00), explaining what the tests men and cutting through common medical jargon in the process. An organization by body system makes it easy to use CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO LABORATORY TESTS to locate typical tests for particular system problems. From how disorders begin and risks of disease to testing procedures and how diagnosis is made from a test, this is one of the most straightforward guides to tests and results interpretation on the market. Marc Zimmer, Ph.D.'s GLOWING GENES: A REVOLUTION IN BIOTECHNOLOGY (1591022533, $28.00) provides the first popular science book on green fluorescent protein, which has existed in one species of jellyfish and was cloned recently to provide a host of new biotech applications. The protein does more than glow: it can kill and image cancer cells, monitor bacterial infections, and light up in the face of pollution. Glowing proteins have important uses in both agricultural and medical industries: GLOWING GENES covers all the potentials of this fascinating new science.

The Great Brain Debate
John E. Dowling
Joseph Henry/National Academies Press
500 - 5th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001
030909223X $24.95 1-888-624-7654

How much of behavior is determined by genes and how much by environment? The debate over nature vs. environment has raged for years, but new research on both developing and aging brains provide new ways of thinking about the issue, as well as new treatments for various mental and aging conditions. THE GREAT BRAIN DEBATE comes from a neuroscience researcher which considers the latest research, issues and findings.

What's the Patient's Code Status?
Dr. Fernando L. Mirarchi
PO Box 9397, Erie, PA 16505
1889014583 $12.95

Most people want to protect their rights in health, and the Advanced Directives help in this - yet most people aware of them aren't aware of its components or how it's used. Information on code status implementation, Directive pros and cons, a sample that may be used, and details to be addressed when completing an Advanced Directive are part of a guide originally created for the author's own mother. It looks like a pamphlet, but WHAT'' THE PATIENT'S CODE STATUS is so much more: a patient and family reference essential to creating and maintaining an appropriate health directive.

Living Homes
Thomas J. Elpel
12 Quartz Street, Pony, MT 59747
1892784181 $30.00

Planning a home? Spend more time on planning it and you can have a home which is designed with energy and resource efficiency in mind, which won't be unaffordable either during or after construction. Plenty of books tell how to build a house, or blend in energy-efficient systems. Few cover the process from the design stage on, as does LIVING HOMES: INTEGRATED DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION. From basic water supply and management system choices to building straw bale walls and treating logs and chinking, LIVING HOMES is packed with ideas and options owner/builders will appreciate.

The Houses of Martha's Vineyard
Keith Moskow
Monacelli Press
611 Broadway, #309, New York NY 10012
1580931537 $50.00

Keith Moskow's THE HOUSES OF MARTHA'S VINEYARD isn't a review of historic structures, but a presentation of over twenty Vineyard houses built in the past twenty years by renowned architects: a diverse set of designs and innovations which are both beautiful and answers to architectural challenges. Color photos of both interiors and exteriors pack every page and provide rich visual accompaniments to descriptions of the architects and their special approaches. A gorgeous keepsake for Martha's Vineyard residents, students of architecture, and architectural library collections alike.

The New Southwest Home
Suzanne Pickett Martinson
Northland Publishing
2900 N. Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff, AZ86001
0873588576 $34.95 1-800-346-3257

If you wish to build your Southwest dream home a room at a time, do it with Suzanne Pickett Martinson's THE SOUTHWEST HOME: INNOVATIVE IDEAS FOR EVERY ROOM. Here are ideas for Southwest style furniture, art and accessories which use the classic colors and decorating ideas of the Southwest. From elevated fireplaces to rich waterfall-spiced bathroom settings, THE NEW SOUTHWEST HOME will intrigue home designers with fresh new approaches.

Victorian Kitchens & Baths
Franklin & Esther Schmidt
Gibbs Smith
PO Box 667, Layton, UT 84041
1586853023 $39.95 1-800-748-5439

More than just another scrapbook of Victorian d‚cor, VICTORIAN KITCHEN AND BATH investigates Victorian styles from historic to modern, surveying the basic design elements which make up Victorian style and displaying, in vivid color photos, how these elements may be incorporated into today's home; from using period Victorian antiques to 'fix' a setting's atmosphere to historically accurate kitchen lighting. Articles probe in depth the elements of Victorian design which will work in the modern home - and what doesn't. This approach creates an excellent practical guide: embellished with numerous color photos examples by the authors, VICTORIAN KITCHENS & BATHS goes beyond most hardware-oriented guides.

Pottery Barn Outdoor Spaces
Christene Barberich
Oxmoor House
80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025
0848730550 $24.95

POTTERY BARN OUTDOOR SPACES: EASY IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FOR CASUAL OUTDOOR LIVING isn't just for rural or suburban homeowners - if you're an urban dweller with only a balcony, you can still find a lot to learn from an entertainment book dedicated to creating lovely outdoor environments and outdoor rooms. Exterior spaces are rarely given their own complete book: this provides easy techniques for converting or decorating porches, garden areas, and more. From simple balcony decors to creating outdoor kitchens, spa areas and patios, OUTDOOR SPACES is packed with colorful photo examples and plenty of ideas.

At Home with Pictures
Paige Gilchrist
Lark Books/Sterling Publishing
387 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10016
1579903606 $27.95

Photos and art lend personality and style to a home, especially if they're arranged artistically and appropriately to compliment existing d‚cor. But how to display family photos in a creative manner? Choose Paige Gilchrift's AT HOME WITH PICTURES: ARRANGING & DISPLAYING PHOTOS, ARTWORK & COLLECTIBLES to learn about classic, traditional or alternative arrangement choices. From choosing appropriate frames and mats to hanging pictures in the more familiar manner, AT HOME WITH PICTURES shows there's a range of options involved.

Amherst Media
PO Box 586, Buffalo, NY 14226

Four new photography guides instruction neo-pro and would-be pro photographers on some of the foundations of achieving and marketing professional-quality work. Jeff Smith's PROFITABLE PORTRAITS: THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S GUIDE TO CREATING PORTRAITS THAT SELL (1584281529, $29.95) tells how to target a client's needs to create a salable portrait. In choosing this focus over that of producing an artistic product, chapters are able to focus on identifying a client's unique tastes, using that knowledge to create demand for work, and making associated decisions from clothing and background choices to lighting and posing. Especially powerful when covering photo repair and retouching. Stephen A. Dantzig, PsyD.'s LIGHTING TECHNQIUES FOR FASHION AND GLAMOUR PHOTOGRAPHY (1584281472, $29.95) focuses on light and its effects on setting mood. Learn how light affects photo quality, how to meter for excellent exposures for either film or digital modes, and how to control image color and lighting through a title which focuses exclusively on fashion photography needs. Next, market your photography skills with Kathleen Hawkins' MARKETING & SELLING TECHNIQUES FOR DIGITAL PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY (1584281634, $34.95), which covers all the basics from identifying a market niche to target photo marketing to advertising effectively, proofing presentation tips, and developing a personal website. Color and black and white photo examples abound. If you're an Adobe Photoshop beginner and just want to learn basic photo touching elements, be sure to pick up Michelle Perkins' BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ADOBE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS: EASY LESSONS FOR RAPID LEARNING AND SUCCESS! (1584281383, $29.95). Chapters review all the basics of how to work with digital images in Elements: from adjusting color and converting images to sepia to using filters, working with layers, and adding artwork to a photo. All are excellent, basic photography references: very highly recommended.

Digital Nature Photography Closeup
Jon Cox
Amphoto Books
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003
081743674X $24.95

Macro nature photography is seldom given its very own book, much less digital macro nature photos; so any seeking to learn close-up techniques for flowers, insects and more must have DIGITAL NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY CLOSEUP: it comes packed with in-depth discussions of all macro techniques, color photos examples fill the pages, and details on file formats, Photoshop editing, and more offer macro photographers plenty of tools of the trade. Excellent depth and scope.

The Art of Animation Drawing
Don Bluth
DH Press/Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street, Milwaukee, OR 97222
1595820086 $14.95

Don Bluth as an animator and artist who has directed such major cartoon productions as All Dogs Go to Heaven and Anastasia: his ART OF ANIMATION DRAWING thus comes from a practicing master, and is packed with specifics on how to design characters, adapt them to script, pair them with voice and music, and more. Lovely black and white and color examples throughout accompany written, specific direction artists will relish.

Edward Hopper's New York
Avis Berman
775A Southpoint Boulevard, Petaluma, CA 94954-1495
0764931547 $30.00

Edward Hopper is one of the country's best known painters: he based himself in New York City and depicted the city through the first half of the 20th century. While most of these portraits have appeared in more general Hopper art books, it's refreshing to see in print the first book devoted entirely to his New York paintings alone. Reproductions drawn from galleries around the country includes both color paintings and black and white prints created before he was fully recognized as an artist: with each picture enhanced by artistic insights on the opposite page, any Hopper collection won't be complete without adding EDWARD HOPPER'S NEW YORK.

Western Traditions
Michael Duty & Suzanne Deats
Fresco Fine Art Publications
9812 Nimitz NE #100, Albuquerque, MN 87111
0974102342 $85.00

WESTERN TRADITIONS: CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS OF THE AMERICAN WEST is an excellent collection examining art of the American West. Michael Duty's essays on the history of painting and sculpture supports the lovely full-page photos and Suzanne Deats' interviews with the artists - all living and working today. Emphasis is upon the evaluation of the art pieces themselves: influences, interpretations of work, and background history place each piece in perspective. If Western American modern art is the focus, WESTERN TRADITIONS should be one of the cornerstones of any serious art library holding.

Automate Your Business Plan
Linda Pinson
13381 White Sand Drive, Tustin, CA 92780
0944205283 $TBA

Too many books on business plans are just plain hard to get through: small aspiring business owners must consider pages of instruction, charts, graphs, and sometimes terminology which is not fully explained - and wind up with no business plan in place. For those who would learn while filling in the blank, choose the stand-alone software program AUTOMATE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN: a set of industry-specific customized business plans which can be used to develop realistic financial projections useful for both owners and for loan applications. The software does most of the work - you just fill in the forms to produce plans which are created from pre-formatted files complete with headers, fonts, and print commands. Another plus: AUTOMATE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN can be imported or exported to or from Word and Excel, making it a portable, useful program indeed.

Career Press
PO Box 687, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417

Career Press's motivation titles for both bosses and workers tackle basic business issues which may be experienced at all levels in the workplace: thus, there's something for everyone on Career Press's business bookshelf. Arthur H. Bell, Ph.D.'s YOU CAN'T TALK TO ME THAT WAY! STOPPING TOXIC LANGUAGE IN THE WORKPLACE (156414822X, $14.99), for example, covers the problems of verbal insults, ridicule and putdowns in the workplace and how they may be ended. There are many motives for verbal attacks in the workplace: chapters consider these motivations and their psychology, who tends to be the target, and how companies can eliminate toxic workplace environments and events. Discussions of legal options are also included. The abuse shoe can also appear on a higher foot, as Gerald M. Groe, Ph.D. explains in WAS YOUR BOSS RAISED BY WOLVES? SURVIVING THE ORGANIZATIONAL FOOD CHAIN (1564148149, $14.99). These are the bosses who are always grumpy and snapping, who attacks peers or new employees, and who views the workplace as turf to defend. Chapters tell how an employee can recognize a boss's territorial problems and how to tackle common issues underlying bad boss behavior. Marisa D'Vari's BUILDING BUZZ: HOW TO REACH AND IMPRESS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE (1564147797, $14.99) packs insider information into its discussion of media promotions and competitive promotional environments. From how to get interviewed by the print media to developing a news hook the media will relish, BUILDING THE BUZZ covers all aspects of getting attention. Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson's 100 WAYS TO MOTIVATE OTHERS: HOW GREAT LEADERS CAN PRODUCE INSANE RESULTS WITHOUT DRIVING PEOPLE CRAZY (1564147711, $19.99) represents years of successful leadership coaching and training by the authors, a leadership trainer and an attorney. Executives and managers will be the audiences for a title which tells how to motivate others both effectively and gently. From understanding unstable people who wish things to stay the same to understanding concentration, elaxation and impetus to change, 100 WAYS TO MOTIVATE OTHERS is packed with examples. Dr. Paul Powers' WINNING JOB INTERVIEWS (1564147789, $12.99) provides a step-by-step guide to understanding the job interview process, focusing on why the process favors the job hunter and how to use this process to assure success. Learn how to ask and understand key questions, how to reduce interview anxiety, and how to out-prepare others seeking the some job through a guide which covers the basics. Christine Durst and Michael Haaren's THE 2-SECOND COMMUTE (1564147924, $14.99) comes from the founder of the Virtual Assistant industry herself, paired with an ex-Wall Street attorney who was one of her clients and helped her launch Staffcentrix, a leading VA training company, and the International Virtual Assistants Association. These assistants work from home and provide admin support, consulting, and more - all via email, fax and phone. Any who dream of working from home must have THE 2-SECOND COMMUTE as a guidepost to success.

Berrett-Koehler Publishers
235 Montgomery, #650, San Francisco CA 94104-2916

Two excellent, very different guides will appeal to business professionals. Greg LeRoy's THE GREAT AMERICAN JOBS SCAM: CORPORATE TAX DODGING AND THE MYTH OF JOB CREATION (1576753158, $24.95) exposes a scam maintained by the myth of 'job creation' in which big billion-dollar corporations play states and cities against each other to gain lucrative taxpayer subsidies. The myth has revolved around the fact that the payoff for such subsidies lies in job creation and higher wages - but is this true? Greg LeRoy exposes a bait-and-switch scam, naming actual corporate names in a discussion of the rigged corporate development system which promises much but seldom delivers, in exchange for lucrative agreements. State-by-state examples discuss free growth, costs, and vanished benefits of such scams. Truly revealing. Keith Merron's CONSULTING MASTERY: HOW THE BEST MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE (1576753204, $34.95) goes beyond the usual guide to consultant roles in solving company project problems, discussing how the savvy consultant can actually influence and change company direction in the process. CONSULTING MASTERY seeks to explore and explain the consultant's wider role in the business process, surveying how a consultant can make a difference and reframe a decision-making process. An intriguing guide re-defining the consultant's role in a company.

Warner Business
1271 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

John C. Maxwell's contention is simple: "to do well in life, we must first think well." - but follow-through is tougher than ideal and it takes his THINKING FOR A CHANGE: 11 WAYS HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE APPROACH LIFE AND WORK (0446529575 $22.95) to outline just how such thought processes can be altered to take place more effectively. From understanding how to see the bigger picture to focusing thinking and collaborating with others to achieve higher results, THINKING FOR A CHANGE is packed with ideas backed by actual achievements. H. Anthony Medley's SWEATY PALMS: THE NEGLECTED ART OF BEING INTERVIEWED (0446693839, $13.95) is written by a business professional who has conducted thousands of job interviews and made hiring decisions based upon them: as such, it comes from the other side of the desk, providing the interviewer's perspective on what makes or breaks a job interview. From making eye contact and understanding job requirements and strategies to determining how and when to take control of the interview process and understanding interviewer focuses, SWEATY PALMS is the item of choice for all job seekers.

Harvard Business School Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163

Three new business books offer readers diverse perspectives and approaches to understanding business. From the 'Harvard Business Essentials' series comes POWER, INFLUENCE AND PERSUASION: SELL YOUR IDEAS AND MAKE THINGS HAPPEN (159139631X, $19.95), a compendium of ideas for managers on how to recognize opportunities within the organization to further careers and make things happen. From building credibility through expertise and marketing this expertise to analyzing audience receptivity to ideas, POWER, INFLUENCE AND PERSUASION tells how to achieve goals. Charles O. Rossotti's MANY UNHAPPY RETURNS: ONE MAN'S QUEST TO TURN AROUND THE MOST UNPOPULAR ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA (1591394414, $26.95) focuses on the IRS, and comes from a businessman who became the first business manager to lead the Internal Revenue Service. Rossotti almost single-handledly transformed an aging organizational structure into a modern business model: MANY UNHAPPY RETURNS shows how he reformed the system, and his confrontations with both politicians and IRS officers in the process of change. MADE IN CHINA: WHAT WESTERN MANAGERS CAN LEARN FROM TRAILBLAZING CHINESE ENTREPRENEURS by Donald N. Sull and Yong Wang (1591397154, $35.00) profiles those shaping China, the world's second largest economy. Eight Chinese ventures are profiled with an eye to revealing their success secrets and how they responded to challenges and changes. A set of uniform success approaches and strategies are revealed based on extensive research which shows how the organizations maintained flexibility while address and replacing long-term plans with more fluid adaptations to change. All are excellent business guides.

2 Penn Plaza, NY, NY 10121-2298

With all the news about real estate riches in the daily papers, it's more than evident that a real estate boom is happening not just in a few states, but around the world - and Gary Keller, Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan's THE MILLIONAIRE REAL ESTATE AGENT (0071444041, $19.95) is written for the real estate agent who would turn a basic practice into a successful business. From basic models for high-achieving real estate goals to gaining a million dollars in annual income, THE MILLIONAIRE REAL ESTATE AGENT promotes an understanding of the agent's role, responsibilities, and special abilities and provides basics on everything from organizing and running a staff to the four fundamental models of real estate business. A wider-ranging discussion is presented in Paul A. Laudicina's WORLD OUT OF BALANCE: NAVIGATING GLOBAL RISKS TO SIEZE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE (0071439188, $27.95), an analysis of new global challenges in competitive advantage. From shrinking deadlines and increased competition to rapid geopolitical changes, corporate leaders and others face quick decision processes in the new global environment requiring a better understanding of new technologies, innovations, and ways of doing business. Turn to WORLD OUT OF BALANCE to learn how your company can stay ahead, face opportunities and threats effectively, and adjust to changing consumer needs: understanding a few crucial keys to success, as outlined by global business director Laudicina, is all it takes.

Career Compass
James A. Winnefeld Sr.
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
1591149630 $24.95 1-800-233-8764

Navy members and would-be officers who want to make an upward career of the Navy would do well to consider James A. Winnefeld Sr.'s CAREER COMPASS their 'bible' of success. A thorough explanation of Navy promotion systems and chains of command is covered in chapters which survey every position and how to network to move up the ladder. From the influence of professional military education on promotions to awards, decorations and more, CAREER COMPASS provides a wealth of insider's advice on charting a career through the Navy.

Impact Publishing
9104 Manassas Drive, Suite N, Manassas Park, VA 20111-5211

Two new job-seeking guides appeal to specialty populations seeking work rather than mainstream job-seekers or college grads, and will be indispensable parts of any job-hunter's collection. Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds's AMERICA'S TOP JOBS FOR PEOPLE RE-ENTERING THE WORKPLACE: 85 OPPORTUNITIES FOR JUMP-STARTING YOUR CAREER (1570232261, $19.95) covers the best jobs for someone re-entering the modern job market. There are employers and positions which are particularly accessible to such re-entry job seekers: chapters cover work opportunities in fields ranging from education and entertainment to government, law, transportation, sales and much more, describing each job in terms of employment outlook, nature of work, training requirements and expected earnings. Ex-offenders re-entering the job market also have special needs, as the Krannichs explore in THE EX-OFFENDER'S JOB HUNTING GUIDE: 10 STEPS TO A NEW LIFE IN THE WORK WORLD (1570232369, $17.95). From researching jobs and communities and seeking assistance to writing effective letters, resumes, networking, and selecting appropriate jobs to apply for, EX-OFFENDER'S JOB HUNTING GUIDE shows there is a job for everyone - and how ex-offenders can land a good one.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Degunking Linux
Roderick W. Smith
Paraglyph Press, Inc.
4015 N. 78th Street, #115, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
ISBN: 1933097043 $24.99 311 pp.

The newest title in this series from Paraglyph Press, Degunking Linux is another winner. What is degunking? Whether you have just installed a system from scratch or inherited an already running system there are always programs, services, and configuration options that can be removed or changed to clean up your system. By cleaning it up you can get it to work more efficiently and leave it less prone to exploitation by others.

The author does a thorough job of examining most of the common program and configuration items that can clutter up a Linux system. Not just the Linux system itself, the book also examines configuration and of common applications like OpenOffice, Mozilla, and Evolution. There are much more detailed books on removing processes and default configuration options on the market, but they are generally under the heading of security and too advanced for the novice user. On the other hand, this book is written for the novice to intermediate user and really stands head and shoulders above other books for this particular group. In addition this book contains a good section on optimizing your X configuration, which can really improve your graphic performance. Degunking Linux is highly recommended for novice to intermediate users.

The Enthusiastic Employee
David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind, Michael Irwin Meltzer
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131423304 $26.95 301 pp.

One of the problems common to all businesses is how to build employee loyalty, productivity, and satisfaction. The Enthusiastic Employee examines how you can make a company profitable by creating enthusiastic employees. One of the most interesting parts of the book examines how employees change their attitudes over time from one of excitement and eagerness to please to a lackluster one. They propose that over time managers often kill the enthusiasm of employees and then describe what to do about it.

The authors provide a close examination of motivational factors in the workplace including job security, compensation, respect, a sense of achievement, challenge, feedback, recognition, and feeling you are part of a team. They also examine the problem of changing the corporate culture to implement change. The analysis presented in the book is based on real world knowledge obtained through years of research on millions of employees. For those interested in employee relations The Enthusiastic Employee is highly recommended.

Built for Growth
Arthur Rubinfeld, Collins Hemmingway
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131465740 $25.95 329 pp.

If you are working in the retail industry this book will be of interest to you. In it the authors detail how to start or buy a retail business as well as how to revive a failing one. This is not just another book on retail theories. Arthur Rubinfeld has worked with the likes of Starbucks, Oakley, Gateway, and many other highly successful retailers. Co-author Collins Hemmingway also co-authored Bill Gates' best selling book Business @ the Speed of Thought.

The authors provide a step-by-step process focusing on all aspects of a successful retail business including branding, location, employees, customers, finance, and business planning. The book is well organized and follows the normal business growth model from planning and implementing your first store through expansion to using innovation as a way to grow beyond the limits of your current product line or customer profile. Of course such a book would not be thorough if it didn't include information on pitfalls to avoid and the authors do not disappoint the reader in this area either. With solid advice in how to be a success in your retail business Built for Growth is a recommended read.

I Want My Dinner Now!
Renee Pottle
Hestia's Hearth Publishing and Design
PO Box 7059, Kennewick, WA 99336
ISBN: 0976013711 $12.95 140 pp.

The first 44 pages of this book are pretty much designed for the novice cook. They contain tips, information on safety issues, herbs and spices, common ingredients that may be unfamiliar to you, what a well stocked pantry should include, and similar information. The book is divided into four sections - Fast And Simple, Toss It In The Oven, One Pot Meals, and Using The Appliances. Each of the four sections concentrates on a specific preparation requirement. Fast And Simple contains meals that can be on the table in 35 minutes or less, Toss It In The Oven contains meals you can prepare if you want to put it together and toss it in the oven so you can get other things done. One Pot Meals minimizes dirty dishes. Using The Appliances contains meals prepared with the use of a slow cooker, electric grill, microwave, or rice cooker.

The book contains 85 recipes in total, all of which are designed for the busy family. At the back of the book the author has even included 16 weeks of coordinated meals. If half a can of something is used one day then the rest is used later that week. I Want My Dinner Now is highly recommended for the busy family that still wants home-cooked meals.

Ending Spam
Jonathan A. Zdziarski
No Starch Press, Inc.
555 De Haro Street, Suite 250, San Francisco, CA 94107
ISBN: 1593270526 $39.95 274 pp.

Author Jonathan A. Zdziarski starts this book by giving the reader a history of Spam as well as the historical approaches to fighting Spam. This is followed by a very practical guide for the serious Spam fighter; including details on statistical filtering, tokenization, Markovian discrimination, and Bayesian filtering. Although it is very technical in many respects most readers should be able to comprehend the text if they read carefully. Readers who already understand the basics of filtering and email analysis will find it both easy and educational to read.

The author includes an excellent section on spammer tricks and how they get past fileters as well as what to do about it. This section alone makes the book worth the price. Ending Spam is a highly recommended read for anyone in charge of controlling spam in a corporate environment as well as on their own system.

Firefox & Thunderbird Garage
Chris Hofmann, Marcia Knous, John Hedtke
Prentice Hall/PTR
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131870041 $24.99 271 pp.

When it comes to Internet browser and newsreader software Firefox and Thunderbird are both considered to be one of the best available. Firefox is the browser of choice for me and has been for some time. This book is about getting under the hood and modifying your Firefox and Thunderbird to make them work the way you want them to and make your experience more pleasurable. Just like car enthusiasts will take a stock car and modify it to be their pride and joy, this book explains how to take the stock installation of Firefox and Thunderbird and make them work the way you wish a browser and newsreader would work. Filled with valuable advice and insight, the authors don't waste waste a lot of words trying to explain things you don't really need to know. Basically they point out an item that can be improved, describes how it can work better, and then walks you through how to implement the change. With multiple appendixes that are packed with very valuable information, Firefox & Thunderbird Garage is highly recommended.

Can't Stop the Love
Sherri D. Dyson
SDD Publications
2335 University Parkway, Sarasota, FL
ISBN: 1931600155 $12.95 126 pp.

Author Sherri Dyson uses poetry to share her thoughts and feelings about some of life's most important events and themes including love, children, weddings, saying good-bye, and holidays. She does an excellent job of distilling the most important aspects of these events and at times provides the reader with an excellent and inspirational read. Unfortunately, all of her poetry does not rise up to this same level. At times it seems she reaches in order to get a word to rhyme. Several poems provide three or four excellent lines and build towards a deep sharing of feelings and then have a totally out of context line for the sake of producing a rhyme. An example is the poem on page 25 where it reads in part "I sit here silently wondering where you are. I love you endlessly, you are my shining star." The focus is on her feelings and she does a good job of sharing them but suddenly comes up with " are my shining star". This movement from her to the other person completely throws off the flow of sharing her deep longing and does it for the sake of creating a rhyme.

On the other hand there are excellent poems like "Perfect Fit" and "The Battlefield of My Mind" on pages 21 and 52. These are fine examples of her better poetry. Overall, Can't Stop the Love is an average book in which everyone is sure to find a poem or two that speaks to them and is recommended for poetry lovers.

Daily Positives
Edward P. Fiszer, Ed.D.
Cameo Publications, LLC
PO Box 8006, Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
ISBN: 0974414980 $16.95 171 pp.

As a school principal Dr. Fiszer started including positive motivational messages with the morning announcements in his school. The purpose was give the students a positive attitude and the courage to take action when facing challenges in life. This book is a collection of those messages. While they were designed for school-age children, the messages are also valuable as a motivational aide for adults. Daily Positives is highly recommended and a great way to start each day.

The Long 19th Century: European History from 1789 to 1917
Professor: Robert I. Weiner
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Tape
Lectures: 36

Through this series of lectures Professor Weiner, Professor of History at Lafayette College, introduces the listener to the important people, events, political climate, and other factors of European life from 1789 to 1917. Some of the important periods and people examined include the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Era, the First Industrial Revolution, the Era of Metternich, the Crimean War, Napoleon III, Bismark and the German Empire, the Russian Experience, Industrialization, Socialist Response, Anti-Semitism, France, Bismarckian and Wilhelminian Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, Turkey, the Balkans, and World War I.

Professor Weiner does an excellent job of examining not only the various countries and key people, but also the cultural groups within the country. This is an enlightening view into the lives and thoughts of the peasants, workers, aristocrats, women, and minorities of the various periods. The Long 19th Century: European History from 1789 to 1917 is highly recommended to anyone interested in the political, social, and diplomatic history of Europe.

Books that Have Made History
Professor: J. Rufus Fears
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Tape
Lectures: 36

This course takes a unique viewpoint on great books by examining those that had a major effect on our society. Professor J. Rufus Fears examines how these books have shaped the minds of great individuals and through them changed the direction of history. Some of the writings examined include Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers From Prison, Homer's Iliad, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Exodus, the Gospel of Mark, the Koran, Gilgamesh, Euripides's Bacchae, Plato's Phaedo, Dante's The Divine Comedy, Shakespeare's Othello and the Moor of Venice, Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's the Gulag Archipelago, Shakespear's Julius Caesar, George Orwell's 1984, Vergil's Aeneid, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Confuscius's The Analects, Plato's Republic, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Gandhi's An Autobiography.

Professor Fears, a professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, does an excellent job of describing the writings, the settings in which they occurred, and how they challenged the thinking of the period. Books that Have Made History is a highly recommended purchase for anyone interested in the history of social thought and how particular writings changed the direction of our history.

Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition
Lecturers: Various Professors
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Tape
Lectures: 84

Divided into seven major sections this large collection of lectures by five different professors covers every period from the Near Eastern and Mediterranean, Classical, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Neoclassic, and 19th Century, to Modern literature. The section on Near Eastern and Mediterranean Foundations includes lectures on Gilgemesh, Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Job, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Sappho and Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The following section on Literature of the Classical World includes the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plato, Menander, Catullus and Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Tacitus, Plutarch, Petronius and Apuleius, The Gospels, and Augustine. Both of these first two sections are presented by professor Elizabeth Vandiver, a professor of Classics at Whitman College.

The third part, Literature of the Middle Ages includes Beowulf, The Song of Roland, El Cid, Tristan and Isolt, The Romance of the Rose, Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Sir Gwain and the Green Knight, and Chaucer. This portion is presented by professor Thomas F. X. Noble, Director of the Medieval Institute and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He does a particularly good job of presenting Sir Gwain and the Green Knight and Chaucer in a very interesting manner.

The fourth part, Literature of the Renaissance, covers Christine de Pizan, Erasmus, Thomas More, Michel de Montaigne, Francois Rabelais, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Miguel de Cervantes, John Milton, and Blaise Pascal. These are all presented by professor Ronald B. Herzman, Professor of English at the State University of New York, Genesco.

Part five, Neoclassic Literature and the 18th Century, examines Moliere, Jean Racine, Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Volatire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Johnson, Denis Diderot, William Blake, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This section is done by Professor Susan Sage Heinzelman, Associate Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. A particularly good lecturer, her treatment of Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and William Blake is not to be missed.

Parts six and seven, Literature of the 19th Century and Modern Literature, covers the likes of William Wadsworth, Jane Austen, Stendhal, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, William Butler Yeats, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Bertolt Brecht, Albert Camus, and Samuel Beckett. These sections are both presented by professor James A. W. Hefferman, retired professor of English at Dartmouth College.

If you want to understand some of the best that western literature has to offer I can't think of a better introduction to the authors behind those works than this series of lectures. Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition is highly recommended to anyone wanting to better understand these authors and literary works.

Computer Forensics
John R. Vacca
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Ave., Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503890 $49.95 703 pp.

At 703 pages this is a voluminous work that attempts to cover all the basics of computer forensics and accomplishes that goal. The book does include a CD but it is somewhat disappointing. It contains mostly demo programs that give you only a taste of the product and a few public domain tools that you are likely to have anyway if you do even a modicum of computer security work. The nicest thing about the CD is the inclusion of various checklists to help make sure you follow good forensic procedures. As such the target audience for this book is people who need basic forensic skills and the knowledge to develop an IT security strategy.

The book starts with a solid overview of computer forensics technology and how the field has changed over the last several years. The author does a good job of covering computer evidence issues and the special issues associated with the Windows operating system. This introduction is followed with sections dealing with Internet security, intrusion detection, firewalls, storage area networks security, disaster recovery, public key infrastructure security, wireless network security, satellite encryption, instant messenger, ID management, ID theft, biometrics, and homeland security.

The author also discusses several specific vendor tools that can be used as well as policies that should be used to document and prosecute an attack. This section includes a discussion of appropriate incident responses, evidence collection, forensic analysis, expert witnessing, forensic litigation, and insurance support. While the book provides an excellent base of knowledge to the reader in the area of evidence collection the reader should also be aware that the legal and technical environment changes quickly.

If you believe your computer has been attacked or otherwise need to prove something did or did not occur, this book's shining point is the excellent job it does on evidence collection and preservation. This is an area where many business owners and technical users get into trouble. Incorrectly checking the system for signs of the attack or other illegal information often makes the data unusable in a court of law. You must follow specific procedures to protect the original evidence and work on a copy. All the details of the correct procedure is presented clearly in this book. Computer Forensics is highly recommended.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Sex and the Single Witch
Holly Chamberlin, Carly Alexander, and Theresa Alan
Strapless (Kensington)
ISBN: 0758209312 $12.95, 352 pp.

"The Trouble with Witchcraft" by Holly Chamberlin. Unlike her proficient parents who are embarrassed by her inabilities, witch Haven Castle cannot make a spell work properly. Her last effort was a love spell sent at Jared Cragmere, who vanished instead of kissing her. He has returned and is angry at whoever displaced him. Jared and Haven begin to fall in love in spite of the manipulations of Angora Slate. However, Haven fears once he finds out who zapped him he will drop her to the same nowhere she accidentally sent him. "Single White Witch" by Carly Alexander. Etherworld resident Annie Quicksilver is on earth investigating male mortals as part of a series of articles for Ephemera Online. She thinks her boss, warlock Simon is sexy, but too grouchy and alas bossy. Still she keeps measuring her ninety dates against Simon and finds them all lacking. She worries that she could be falling for a warlock, which in her mind means the worst toil and trouble for a witch. "The Witch's Guide to Life" by Theresa Alan. When witch Ariel Watson sees the hunk in the restaurant she orders up a wind that inadvertently blows cake on his hair. Feeling contrite she gives him tickets to attend her opening at the MacLean Gallery. North High School ice hockey coach J.T. Manning arrives and buys one of her paintings. Others follow suit. By doing so he converts the curse that stopped her work from selling into her inability to paint as she only dreams of the hockey hunk. This bewitching trio of amusing paranormal romances will cast a charm spell on readers.

Night after Night
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
ISBN: 0758206801 $14.00, 288 pp.

Marcy Bryant remains shell shocked in Seneca Falls, New York from learning that her twin Jenny is the proprietor and madam of Manhattan's CLUB FANTASY. Unable to understand why her sister would become a prostitute especially since Jenny apparently loves her boyfriend, Marcy decides to write an erotic novel based on what she knows about her sibling's club and similar tales selling at the bookstore. She shows Jenny a short story that her sibling says is excellent, but the first chapter of the novel is horrendous. Jenny insists that for Marcy to write with feeling she must understand her subject. The short story worked because Jenny claims Marcy was the star seeking her first real orgasm. She offers Marcy a chance to come to Club Fantasy, meet everyone and if interested taste "forbidden" fruit. Marcy agrees rationalizing she needs to better understand her sister. At the club, pleasure giver Zack melts Marcy's brain and other body parts. As Marcy begins to appreciate what the body can do with the right partner, she falls in love with the male prostitute, but has no hope that a lion would desire a mouse; Zack reciprocates but assumes a nice woman would never want a relationship with a prostitute. This erotic romantic sequel continues the escapades of the Bryant twins this time Marcy is the sex star of the tale. The story line will remind fans of the Devil and Miss Jones except that Zack is a heavenly hunk teaching the art of lovemaking while receiving lessons in love. Sub-genre fans will gain immense pleasure from this XXX tale, but be aware that your significant other better be handy (pun intended).

Category Five
T.J. MacGregor
ISBN: 0786016809 $6.99, 384 pp.

Billy Joe Franklin and his girlfriend Crystal DeVries robbed a bank and he absconded with the money, leaving Crystal to take the fall. While waiting to go to trial, she, along with her friend Tia, transferred from the Dade County jail to the one on Tango Key. Billy successfully breaks her and Tia in a daring jailbreak. It looks like his planning will allow them to make a clean getaway until Hurricane Danielle turns into a Category Five storm, worse than even Hurricane Andrew. Bookstore owner and psychic Mira Morales, her daughter Annie and her grandmother are preparing to survive one of the worst hurricanes on record when the escaped convicts and Billy take over the house and make sure the hostages are subdued. Mira's live-n-lover, Shep, an FBI agent, knows about the danger the women face but he is trapped in a cellar and is unable to get out. Mira has to take charge and see that her family is safe until someone can rescue them but when their situation looks hopeless, help comes from a most unexpected source. It is a toss up to Mira which is worse the Category Five hurricane or dealing with the unstable Billy Joe. Both could get her killed and even her psychic powers are not strong enough for her foresee what kind of trauma and tragedy will result from the criminals and the storm. T.J. MacGregor has written a fantastic crime thriller, filled with action and suspense but the true antagonist in CATEGORY FIVE is Hurricane Danielle.

Last Girl Dancing
Holly Lisle
ISBN: 0451411978 $6.99

Atlanta Police department Homicide Special Crimes Unit (HSCU) is looking to stop apparently two serial killers working in tangent targeting Perimeter's exotic dancers. HSCU Detective Jim Hennicut recommends to his boss Captain Howard Booker that they ask for "Princess Grace" as he affectionately calls Detective Jess Brubaker to go undercover as she meets the physical requirement of the killer. Jess reluctantly agrees because this might be the break for her to learn what happened to her stripper twin sister Ginny, who thirteen years ago vanished without a trace. Because of regional politics including the FBI, the task force consists of Jess, Jim, his partner, and a martial arts psychic who is not a cop. Jim's friend former Ranger Hank Kamien agrees to help. He and Jess enter the sordid realm of exotic dancing and not long afterward a killer targets the female cop. However, trying to hide their attraction from one another becomes almost as difficult as playing cat and mouse with diabolically clever killers. This is an exciting police procedural romance that takes off at a fabulous pace once Jess goes undercover and never slows down until the final confrontation with the killer. Though the clues as to the culprit's identity are there, fans will be shocked as Holly Lisle does a terrific job with misdirection. The romantic subplot between the undercover duo augments a fine suspense thriller that keeps the audience in a state of high tension throughout the whole tale.

Ernest Hebert
Hardscrabble Books
University Press of New England
37 Lafayette Street, Lebanon, NH 03766
ISBN: 1584654902 $24.95, 320 pp.

In 1985 on a mountain ledge near Upper Darby, New Hampshire, Freddie Elman reaches his beloved Lilith Salmon only to find her dying from blood loss caused by giving birth all aloneat this isolated wilderness spot. She dies, but leaves behind a son Birch. Bitter and filled with self loathing and guilt for failing and doubting his Lilith, Freddie ignores his infant son turning to drink to dull his pains while his mother cares for her grandson. Freddie becomes concerned when his parents and Lilith's family decide he is unfit and begin making separate cases for custody of Birch as he realizes the child is his only connection to his deceased beloved. He takes Birch with him and flees into the woods and beyond starting a nomadic existence for father and son on the run while those left behind pursue them. It has been about ten years since Ernest Hebert wrote his last Darby novel LIVE FREE OR DIE that included Freddie the trash man's son and Lilith the late Squire's daughter seeing one another. Their relationship as a subplot of that novel devastated the social hierarchy of this New England town. The direct sequel, SPOONWOOD takes the audience further by following the escapades of Freddie, their son Birch and those chasing them. The cozy story line digs deep into New England life from two social strata those with and those without as Mr. Hebert once again entertains yet tells the relevance of the most seemingly minor aspect of the tale including that of a small stone.

Death at a Premium
Valerie Wolzien
ISBN: 0345468090 $6.99, 272 pp.

Just before Memorial Day, building contractor Josie Pigeon and her fianc? lawyer Sam Richardson discuss their Labor Day wedding when she learns that her firm Island Contracting won the bid to renovate Bride's Bed and Breakfast. However, her client also sends his grandson, an undergraduate architectural student Christopher Higgins, to redesign the B&B. Worse than keeping the rookie in line, her associate accidentally hires a man who besides breaking Josie's gender wall is unable to get insurance due to illness. As the crew works on breaking down a wall, they find a corpse behind the plaster. However, the body turns out to have been a mannequin. Later they find a second dummy under the house. Not long afterward they find a third except this time it is a real corpse. The father and son Rodney "Rats" who make up the sheriff's department assumes that one of the crew killed the victim though their preference is to pin the crime on Josie. Not sitting idly around waiting for the Rats to devour her, Josie investigates beyond just her team though some shaky shenanigans over E-Bay items surface. DEATH AT A PREMIUM is a fine amateur sleuth starring a strong intelligent and proactive heroine in a Florida barrier island setting. The cozy like story line starts off breezy with wedding plans, unwanted male help, and buried mannequins, but soon turns into a homicide investigation. Josie is at her best saving her business, solving a murder mystery along with a summer cop (female of course), coping with her teenage son and her future mother-in-law and planning a wedding. This is no different than battling Hurricane Agatha as she did in Murder in the Forecast.

The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life
Steve Leveen
Levenger Press
420 S Congress Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33445
ISBN: 1929154178 $17.50

Levenger Press CEO Steve Leveen provides a terrific self help book to assist readers with choosing their material, making the most out of the time they set aside to read, and to not feel guilty when one decides to not finish the book. The keys to this guide are Mr. Leveen's enthusiasm and the practical and easy to follow advice. His suggestions include keeping an updated list of what you want to read and when you can get a copy get it - don't wait until you have time to read that book. He also emphasizes be active which include visiting the prime setting and writing notes inside a book; in honesty his footprint vs. preserving gave this reviewer cardiac arrest; I make notes on stickees (pink for romance; red for mystery, blue for sci fi etc.). This is a fabulous guidebook aimed more at the wannabe reader to leisurely enjoy oneself by getting inside a book. This is similar to how the Potter crowd reads (my opinion the most influential books outside of the bible in decades as it has brought new blood to literature). Mr. Leveen provides a wonderful guide to fully enjoying books for mostly spectators who want to join the game.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Diana Gabaldon
ISBN: 0385324162 $28.00

Though officially war has not been declared, blood has fallen in Massachusetts Bay. On Fraser's Ridge, North Carolina Jamie Fraser already knows the outcome of the Revolutionary War because his spouse Claire told him having journeyed from the future to his past knowing the details about the Revolutionary War because she read about it in the American history books. Tension is high so Colonial Governor Tryon asks Jamie, leader of those residing along Fraser Ridge, to help keep the peace there. He is not sure how to respond because Jamie knows that those who support the monarchy will either die or flee in exile yet Jamie still hopes he can avoid bloodshed. There is also the matter of knowing that three plus years from now The Wilmington Gazette December 1776 reports that Jamie and his family died in a fire. Jamie knows that the devil is in the details, but how can a mortal change history even if the events have not yet occurred. Now in 1773 he must take sides knowing that soon people he cares about will die. The latest Gabaldon time travel historical tale is a superb entry because of the dilemmas facing the hero who knows the outcome of the upcoming war and is aware of the deaths of himself and his beloved family yet must make difficult choices. For instance, perhaps he should relocate elsewhere so that the Frasers and others are nowhere near the mid December 1776 inferno, but that also means neglecting his responsibilities. Jamie, Claire, and the others are at their best when knowing what is coming, but sometimes an ethical person must choose a losing perhaps deadly position. Ms. Gabaldon is at her epic best with this powerful saga. The paragraphs above fail to even hint at the vast deep look at North Carolina on the verge of war because it is impossible to describe the scope of this work in a few paragraphs.

Spell of the Highlander
Karen Marie Moning
ISBN: 0385339143 $18.00, 320 pp.

In the ninth century, women have always loved Celtic Druid Lord Cian MacKeltar, who as the only male in his family (his sire died just before his birth) has always been spoiled by the females. Still he enjoys studying Druid tomes as much as bedding the lasses until Samhain "buried" him alive in an underground library sealed for eternity. Over the centuries Cian became a myth although he still lives in a hellish dark mirror prison. While Chicago based archaeology graduate student Jessi St. James plans a post PhD life filled with boyfriends, Lucan Trevayne panics over a break and entry. Someone stole the Dark Mirror amongst other "Unseelie" Hallows artifacts at a time when his tithe is due. Professor Keene asks Jessi to accept a delivery for him. She does and looks at the ancient mirror, but sees a hunk looking back from the glass at her. Cian is freed but knows his powerful and most likely affluent enemy still lives and is coming for him and the mirror. With Jessi at his side to keep the woman he is falling in love with safe, Cian knows he must stop Lucan from regaining what he lost and regain the final fourth Unseelie Hallows object. This exciting romantic fantasy never slows down from the moment that Cian is trapped inside the Dark Mirror until the final confrontation. The story line is action packed (the first paragraph above is only a few pages) as the ninth century warriors battle in the twenty-first century with Lucan having all the advantages expect the love of a good woman. Karen Marie Moning provides a terrific saga.

The Patriots Club
Christopher Reich
ISBN: 0385337280 $26.00

Thirty-two years old Thomas Bolden has come a long way from his youth growing up on the meanest streets of Chicago. Today he is director of the New York investment bank Harrison Weiss and is dating a nice girl Jennifer Dance. However, just minutes after he proposes to Jenny, two thugs kidnap him and take him to a partially constructed office building in Harlem. There, another stranger orders Thomas to tell him everything he knows about Crown and Bobby Stillman if he wants to live. Thomas knows nothing having never heard of either person. He manages to escape. However, his escape has not freed Thomas. He has run afoul of THE PATRIOTS CLUB, a secret group of influential individuals who since the beginning of the republic has insured certain political privileges remain intact. This group needs to eliminate Thomas who knows too much, starting by destroying aspects of his life, as they methodically hunt for him and his fianc?e. This is a terrific thriller that will remind readers of The Firm although THE PATRIOTS CLUB members seem tougher. The story line is action-packed from the moment Thomas meets the muggers and never slows down until the final High Noon confrontation. Though lacking the financial shenanigans that Christopher Reich is known for (see THE DEVIL'S BANKER) fans of a tense somewhat by the numbers suspense tale starring David vs. Goliaths will want to read this solid novel.

Karin Slaughter
ISBN: 0385339453 $25.00

Grant County Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver finds the corpse inside a sealed box with a protruding pipe near Lake Grant. His former wife and current lover medical examiner Dr. Sara Linton does the autopsy on the victim identified as Abigail Bennett. To her horror, Sara realizes that slow suffocation was not the cause of death, but that the culprit poured cyanide down the pipe. They soon learn that Abigail was a member of the Holy Grown soybean farming collective, many of whom are former felons. Upon learning of her murder they react as nothing unique occurred, that poisoning and burying a living person is normal. However, Sara, Jeffrey and detective Lena Adam also make inquiries at the local Church for the Greater Good as they begin to wonder if twisted morality involving fallen sisters and daughters might be involved especially after meeting Minister Thomas Ward and when a second buried body is found. The toughest peach in Georgia (see INDELIBLE and KISSCUT), Sara is actually mellower than usual as this case makes her somewhat introspective reflecting on hiding her relationship with Jeffrey from her family; don't worry the forensics remain grim and gritty. Interestingly as abortion and domestic abuse are raised to an extreme level in the storyline, Lena also ponders her relationship with an abusive mate. Still this is a Slaughter story so that the police procedural plot is the focus in the usual dark grim suspense laden way.

Dragon Blade
Andre Norton & Sasha Miller
ISBN: 0765307472 $24.95

The Nordon monarchs Ashen NordornQueen and Gaurin NordornKing are looking forward to peace, spending quality time together and with their infant son having recently defeated the Great Foulness ice dragon. However, their tranqulty ends when Ashen finds a letter inside the false bottom of a box containing a gift; the note explains that only the legendary DRAGON BLADE can kill the Mother Ice Dragon. Corageous though wary, Gaurin leaves to find the blade made from the scales of the enemy's deceased mate that will finally end this nightmare. After her sposue left, Ashen disocvers a map that shows where the DRAGON BLADE and the Mother Ice Dragon lair are located. She sets off to catch up to her husband while their land has a new foe, a rogue troll destroying anything in its path. The fourth tale in the Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan saga is a fabulous fantasy especially when the exciting story line follows the escapades of the Nordorn rulers. The action is fast-paced and never slows down even when the Troll threat takes fans down a sidebar that is fun to follow by bringing in other favorites from previous books, but also weaves a thread that takes away from the grand adventure. Still fantasy fans will gain immense delight from this fine tale.

A Rumor of Gems
Ellen Steiber
ISBN: 0312858795 $25.95

The city of Arcato is under some sort of mystical siege. First magical gemstones began appearing with the potency to cast spells. On top of that the ancient port city has become a place teeming with gods and other mythological creatures pretending to be humans only to vent havoc on the locals while time is multiple with varying epochs coexisting in an interactive spiral. As chaos rules the city, human Lucinda de Francesco detests males whether they are god, shapeshifter or mortal as she wants no one to dictate to her how to live and yet she still thirsts for true love. She is especially wary of antiques dealer Sebastian Keane, who obsessively courts her in spite of her acrimonious rejections of him. At the same time; eleven years old Michael Fortunato has apparently become a killer because someone seems to have used the power of a gem to control the lad. Could that have been a God, a rogue shaman like Alasdair or even the sentient miniature dragon gemstone? The weird city and its supernatural cast that includes the thinking gems and most humans are well rounded and solid so that the audience believes in what is going on inside of Arcato. However, the heroine on the other hand pontificates on her life slowing down an exhilarating plot that moves on all cylinders when Lucinda is not musing about the shortcomings. Fans of strange fantasy tales will appreciate this fine story wondering whether the preadolescent is a killer, a victim of a gem, or set up by one of the Gods.

Holly Lisle
ISBN: 0765309939 $27.95

Because of the three century old war with the Eastil Kingdom, the land of Tonk drafts young children to train as soldiers in an everlasting war of magic. These soldiers are patriots who expect to die in combat and believe being killed protecting their country is honorable. However, from outside the war zone, the Feegash arrives forcing the two adversaries to end the hostilities that threaten the tranquility of the world as it constantly spills beyond the borders of the warring nations. The Feegash successfully broker a peace, which leaves a lot of soldiers out of work. This is especially harsh on the veterans who have spent their entire lives training or fighting and expecting to die in battle. Warriors like Talyn are not just unemployed, but mentally unprepared for civilian work. Feegash diplomat Skirmig becomes her lover, but soon Tonk an ex-soldier of Talyn and Eastil diplomatic Captain Gair believe in the threat that the benevolent Feegash plan to annex both disarming countries. These sworn enemies must unite to have any hope against Skirmig, who employs a hideous magic that leaves him in full control. Readers will have to adapt to the changing POV from first to third and back to first within the same passage that allows the audience to see inside the heroes, but sometimes proves difficult to follow. Once fans adjust to the constantly changing POV, they will appreciate Holly Lisle's deep thought-provoking epic fantasy. The keys to the tale are that the international relationships seems genuine when there is open hostility or the Trojan Horse peace that must be dealt with when the heroes work through personal problems as well as their distrust of one another. Only then can they can try to save their respective nations. TALYN is a deep and powerful fantasy saga that readers will treasure.

Sara Douglass
ISBN: 0312873751 $27.95, 480 pp.

The Star Gate has been destroyed allowing the TimeKeeper Demons to enter Tencendor. The land is devastated as these killers destroy anything and everything whether the deceased was once human or gods. Their fate is the same as this malevolent horde march unstopped and unstoppable. Watching from what appears to be the last haven from the invincible demons remains a small group of humans and two former gods; each awaits death feeling hopeless. Yet survivors remain struggling to destroy the Timekeeper Demons before they achieve their objective of bringing back to life their abomination of a leader Qeteb. If he returns Tencendor will be a total wasteland. An octet vows to save the soul of their land before the evil adversaries can reclaim the soul of their master. The humans and the once Gods split up in a race to save a beleaguered land from the abyss. This epic fantasy is a terrific tale starring more of an ensemble cast than usually found in the sub-genre. This enhances the feel that the land is about to be run over by dark forces. The collapse of the gate and several other elements bring a science fiction mix that further makes the fantasy rudiments seem genuine. Throw in the metamorphosis of life, death and rebirth inside a strong exhilarating story line and fans will totally enjoy a fabulous Wayfarer Redemption tale that will leave newcomers on a crusade to find previous tales and fans of Sara Douglass euphoric while awaiting the next installment.

Robert J. Sawyer
ISBN: 0765309726 $13.95

Afsan's Saurian punishment for declaring that the Face of God is a planet that the Qintaglio home sphere orbits as its inner most moon was being blinded. His related theory that their "orb" will be destroyed in about a century is met with mixed results. Those who believe the astronomer ponder how to go off planet when ocean voyages are difficult enough while Afsan negotiates a fee with therapist Mokleb to help him mentally "see" how to overcome his natural irrational behavior and adapting to using his new grown eyes. Meanwhile Afsan's spouse Novato studies an alien spacecraft found in the southwestern Frahtoolah Province. At about the same time that Novato nervously evaluated the craft, her son Toroca, while on geological survey aboard the ocean going Dasheter, meets a second sentient saurian race on a small archipelago. This shakes the Qintaglios more than Afsan's "taking God out of our skies" with a biological blow to the belief they are the superior race of God. These scientific advances, instead of saving the race from the breaking up of their moon, lead to war. This reprint of the final tale of the Qintaglio Ascension is a fabulous science fiction story that makes the saurian races seem real as the audience will obtain a historical, anthropological, and psychological perspective especially of the Qintaglio culture. The three prime well written subplots tie together in a delightful climax. Fans of the series will appreciate the dual first contacts by Novato and Toroca, but especially enjoy Mokleb getting Afsan on the couch to psychoanalyze him so that he can understand the irrationality of the species (move over Freud). It is best read this novel after the first two books in the series to fully savor the saurian culture but FOREIGNER can definitely stand alone.

A Princess of Roumania
Paul Park
ISBN: 0765310961 $24.95

In the eighteenth century in an alternate world England has been devastated by a tsunami like wave while in central Europe Roumania and Germany battle for control. Sorceress Aegypta Schenck conjures up a magic tome that enables her to hide young Miranda Popescu in our world's Massachusetts to elude the evil black tyranny of Baroness Nicola Ceausescu. She is the hope for the future as the "white tyger" regal descendant. With her niece safe, Aegypta tries to set the stage for her triumphant return. At the same time Ceausescu searches to find and destroy her only rival. When the Baroness abetted by her necromancer elector succeeds, she brings Miranda accompanied by her friends Andromeda and Peter into a realm so unlike what any of them have ever seen before. As Andromaeda is changed into a dog and then a noble and Peter lives up to his sire a warrior from this world, Miranda begins the first slow steps towards the challenge that will decide the destiny of a planet. The key to this delightful fantasy that targets the Harry Potter class is the powerful alternate historical backdrop to Europe that makes the two world scenario seems genuine. Miranda and her allies are terrific younger heroes struggling with the abrupt changes in their lives especially an adversary who wants her eliminated. The Baroness is a vile villain who fans will hiss at. Fantasy fans of all ages will enjoy this fine dual worlds thriller.

Jacqueline Carey
ISBN: 0765312395 $25.95, 352 pp.

Long ago the world of Urulat was created by the Seven Shapers who made the races in their own images. The eldest brother Haomane did not like what his brother Satoris did with his creation, giving them free will, the ability to think for themselves and the urge to strive so they won't become stagnant and complacent. He ordered his sibling to withdraw his gift and when he refused the Shapers went to war Sundering the world as a by product of battle. Haomane and his siblings live together not seen by their creations while Satoris walks the earth and lives in the fortress he created, the underground realm of Darkhaven. Satoris's ally, the one thousand year old immortal Supreme Commander Lord Tanaros kidnaps the ellyon (elven) Princess Cerelinde and takes her back to Darkhaven. This stops Haomane's prophecy from being fulfilled which would end in Satoris' death. He could permanently destroy any chance of the prophecy being fulfilled by killing the princess but that is something he refuses to do. As Haomane's allies make ready for war Satoris decides that his allies will also fight rather than endure a siege in Darkhaven. Both sides know that whoever wins, the undoing of the Sundering will take place. There are many different sentient species in the world of Urulat and with the Sundering, each race wars against the other just as the Shapers do. Haomane is never seen and uses lies and misdirection to paint his brother as the enemy that must be destroyed. Satoris who was not responsible for the Sundering is an enigmatic and mysterious being who got cast in the role of villain due to his brother's deception. There is a cast of hundreds and it takes careful reading to figure who is the ally of what Shaper. The Godslayer storyline is about the races getting ready for war and Jacqueline Carey demonstrates her talent as fantasist by making the plot exciting and memorable.

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens
Edited by Jane Yolen & Patrick Nielsen Hayden
ISBN: 0765313839 $17.95, 288 pp.

Ten of these eleven enjoyable stories targeting young adults (but older readers will appreciate them too) were initially published in varying publications in 2004; one story "They" by Rudyard Kipling is a century old (interesting to historiographic compare to the modern writers). The stories are mostly fantasy and even the few science fiction contributions like "Sergeant Chip" have a fantasy like feel to them. The authors are a who's who of the genres with each providing a strong effort. Settings vary from Grandma's handbag (think Men in Black II) to the New York Forty-Second Street Public Library to a K-9 point of view on war. Some, as is typical of fantasy, use horror elements to enhance the plot. Each tale is well written and the editors provide the titles of other similar stories that teens would most likely enjoy. An honorable mention list adds to the experience of fostering reading amongst young adults. This is a terrific collection for young and old readers.

Pay the Piper
Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
ISBN: 0765311585 $16.95, 176 pp.

Fourteen-year-old Calcephony "Callie" McCallan is a school reporter school in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is excited by her job because this assignment enables her to go back stage while the popular rock 'n' roll band, Brass Rat performs. The only setback is that her parents make her bring her brother Nick with her. After listening to a recording by the group, Callie wonders why her classmates ate making such a fuss over this band. That is she wonders until she meets the dynamic lead singer Peter Gringras. His flute playing mesmerizes all who listen including Callie. However, on Halloween night as the Brass Rat performs, all the children including her kid brother Nick vanish. Callie thinks she knows why the children have been "abducted" and plans to rescue them as she plans to follow the magic flute into the land of faerie to make the piper pay, but she will soon learn how "faerie justice" works. The middle school crowd will enjoy this fine version of the Pied Piper starring a wonderful young heroine who risks her life to save her sibling and the other children from the unknown. As the audience learns the truth, feelings towards Peter the Pied Piper will change although he still committed the abductions. Young readers will enjoy the first rock and roll fairy tale while looking forward to future fantasies from this solid mother-son collaboration.

Chocolate On A Stick
Carole Bellacera
Baycrest Books
ISBN: 0972845062 $14.95 257 pp.

Velma and Louie met at the Happy Valley Hope for Retired Citizens in Memphis, Tennessee and fell in love. Even though they are in their seventies, their love life is that of a couple in their twenties. They are very happy together until the day Louie meets her son (owner of the used car lot, Elvis Mobile) his bible thumping wife Loretta and Louie's identical twin daughters Geneva and Genovedene. They inform the duo that the home is being closed and she will live with them while Louie will live in with his daughter. Opposing the arrangements especially without their inputs Louie calls his grandson, rich and famous rock star Gavin who he helped raise. Gavin sends them money and a red corvette to make their getaway. Their families call the police and their plight captures the heart of America who believes their children should leave Velma and Louie alone. On their way to California they ride the rapids, win money in Las Vegas and take a ride on a hot air balloon, evading the police and their family. When the family catches up with the lovebirds, tempers flare and Velma has do something drastic to convince their children they are going to be together. This is a very different type of read than the ones Carole Bellacera has written in past. It is funny yet contains a serious social issue that is addressed. The elderly have rights even though their grown up children might not agree with their choices and the lovebirds prove that they will do whatever is necessary to lead their own lives. CHOCOLATE ON A STICK is a sweet charming geriatric romance.

Chicago Noir
Neal Pollack (Editor)
PO Box 1456, New York, NY 10009
ISBN: 1888451890 $14.95 252 pp.

Moving from Brooklyn to Chicago, the latest urban noir anthology provides the audience with eighteen delightful tales that pays homage to the ethnic neighborhoods and to the sports teams (especially the Cubs and their curse). The settings vary from the present to Prohibition to the age when Jazz was king. Each contribution shows the underbelly of the city not anything displayed by Oprah. Each tale is well written and should please fans of mysteries set there though some of the Second City superstars failed to show up like Sara Paretsky. Still this is a sold second entry to what looks like is going to be a long friendship between readers and Akashic set in urban noirs.

Mad About Jack
Gayle Kasper
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142955 $26.95, 233 pp.

Holly Hanford has worked hard to make a success of Hanford Motors that she inherited from her late father. She especially had to overcome the sleazy effort to take over her car sales company by a former employee Adam Stone, who sweet talked her while she was grieving her dad's death. Holly is irate that Wall St. transplant Jack Murdock has opened up Mad Jack Used Autos across the street from her deep in the heart of Texas. Jack employs glitz and gaud to sell vehicles, but she admits his classic red MG is a beauty. Meanwhile Jack is falling in love with his competitor, but though she seems to reciprocate she rejects his advances as she does not trust handsome glib males. He knows he must do the best sale of his life to persuade Holly to one day soon be his wife; if he fails he will leave town with a whipped tail and right now things are not looking good. This is an amusing contemporary romance though late intrigue seems unnecessary except to increase Holly's suspicion that Jack is out to drive her from business through any means possible including sexual and vandalism. The story line is fun as Jack drives Holly crazy, but she does not know him well enough to realize she has all the power. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romp between two competing car lot owners.

Falling Through the Cracks
Barbara Haynie
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143846 $26.95, 271 pp.

The two surviving Bloom triplets (Rose died at birth), have lived a very good life until Lily tries to kill herself over a boyfriend; deadhead Iris knows she cannot cope because she is so shook up. She flees her relatively happy middle class Colorado home. On the road she meets Oregonian environmental activist Blair Jaeger fleeing a situation that went wrong. They journey together stopping in San Vacio, Mexico for some needed respite. The hotel is a dump so Iris asks elderly ailing American expatriate Henry Whitman if they can rent his other house that he owns since he only uses one. Henry was going to refuse until she notices and comments about his Scrabble board. As they play Scrabble every night, a warm relationship forms until he begins to show signs similar to Lily's. Iris wants to flee out of fear for what Henry might do. She has no one to turn to as Blair is off to his next environmental event and the married doctor that she is half in love with ignores her. She soon realizes she needs to be with kindhearted dying Henry who has given her back her life one tile at a time. FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS is a deep character study that focuses predominately on Henry and Iris as each find a way to live through their warm relationship. The story line enables the audience to comprehend why Iris fled Colorado and is considering running away before Henry dies, but she has matured so plans to be there for the person who was there for her. Barbara Haynie provides a deep look at people nurturing one another during a time of crisis.

Summons to the Chateau D'Arc
Kay Cornelius
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143862 $26.95, 324 pp.

In 1882, before she dies, mama makes her daughter twenty years old American Ellen Edmon promise that she would write to the Marquis D'Arc. Mama wants Ellen to visit the chateau in Dreux, France where her mama spent some happy moments of her life. After mama passes away Ellen writes and the Marquis responds providing her with passage and a job as companion to his wheelchair bound sixteen years old daughter Lucy. Ellen arrives at the Chateau D'Arc to find Lucy does not want her there, her older brother Jacques seems to only want to bed her, permanent guest Madame Albert hates her, her employer the Marquis is kind but distant, and the estate manager Philip Mailley is hostile. Ellen finds the tension between everyone quite excruciating, but tries to help Lucy while hiding her desire for Philip. Soon she finds herself wondering what happened to Lucy's mother ten years ago when she seem to just vanish and what was the cause of Lucy's horse riding accident at the same time that paralyzed her. Her snooping leads to someone amidst the household trying to kill her and she fears it is Philip who she loves. SUMMONS TO THE CHATEAU D'ARC is an intriguing gothic historical romance starring an innocent newcomer, a mansion that is somewhat dark especially the upper floor and a brooding hero who wants nothing to do with the newcomer. The story line is action-packed though the killer seems to have hidden his homicidal history with some help to easily. Still fans will appreciate this fine tale due to the antics of the kindhearted courageous Ellen.

Prophecy of the Seventh Dragon
Tyler Blackwood
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143897 $25.95, 341 pp.

Christopher Bartholomew is an Eskarian, a two hundred year old immortal who drinks blood for nourishment but can go out in the sunlight. He is not a vampire but a Defender who protects humanity from evil entities like Bermudan water dragons or demon wolves who change into animal form every night but keep their human intelligence. A bite from one of them turns a human into a demon wolf. After killing one such creature in the backyard of Mackenzie Wallace, he notices she was bitten by a demon wolf and is due to turn very soon. Normally, he would kill her without a qualm but he realizes she is his benekeda, his soulmate and instead of destroying her he turns her into an Eskarian. When Mackenzie is convinced that her life has irrevocably changed, she finds she loves Christopher as much as he loves her. They would be devilishly happy but Christopher and his Defenders must prevent The Triad, a trio of powerful sorcerers, from completing the rites that would allow the dark evil wizard Uleah from entering and laying waste to the world. This romantic urban fantasy is refreshingly original using concepts that will appeal to lovers of this sub-genre. It will appeal equally to readers of fantasy and romance because it has the elements of both genres. Christopher is a delightful protagonist who, for all his many powers, finds himself feeling vulnerable when it comes to Mackenzie. There is plenty of action and surprising twists which keeps readers eagerly turning the pages to see what happens next. This reviewer would love to see more stories written about the Eskarians, a very special group of people worth reading more about.

Grave Review
Cynthia Thomason
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142963 $25.95, 256 pp.

After inheriting the showboat the Jubilee Palace, The Barlows, mother Lillian daughter Gwen and brother Preston leave their staid existence in a small town and perform shows along the rivers of America. Their latest stop is Moss Hollow, Kentucky; an insular village that makes the star of the show Marianne Dresden acts very peculiar. Instead of acting like her casual out going self, she hides in her stateroom. Gwen learns the reason the star is acting despondent and reclusive is because she came from this town and her real name is Mary Alice Kobb who left home in disgrace. Her father, a stern emotionally abusive man wants her to come home which she refuses to do and after the performances his body is found dead. The sheriff refuses to let the Jubilee leave until the murderer is caught and when another killing occurs, Gwen decides to snoop never realizing that she will be caught in a killer's trap. Readers who like exciting amateur sleuth novels set in an American historical setting near the turn of the twentieth century will find the Jubilee showboat mysteries a pure delight. Cynthia Thomason creates characters that are easy to like and places then in situations that range from the comical to dangerous sometimes in the same scene. She creates a picture of a bygone era, one this reviewer finds enchanting.

The Guardian
Jennifer A. Ruth
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142335 $26.95, 278 pp.

As a Helper to Protector Alana Devlin, Carrick "Rick" Murphy watches her back and protects her when she is battling creatures from the Otherworld. His vocation doesn't leave him much time for a love life but when he meets librarian Ruth Westland he can't help but falling in love with her and cherishes having a normal relationship with her. This proves to be a difficult feat when he has to keep leaving her to battle a monster killing men in a horrible fashion in Las Vegas. Devlin believes a sorceress summoned these creatures from the Otherworld to do her bidding. When Alana's sister Fiona casts a spell she sees the sorceress and draws a picture of her. Rick recognizes her as Joan's next door neighbor Lisette. The Devlin sisters ward Joan's apartment to protect her but all it does is make Lisette want to harm Joan. Rick uses his strength, with the help of the Devlins to keep Joan safe but nobody is prepared when Lisette grabs him. Only Joan, using her empathic powers, has a chance of saving Rick before Lisette kills him. Jennifer A. Ruth has written a fantastic urban fantasy in the tradition of the works of Tanya Huff and Mercedes Lackey She place magical creatures in a mundane world and makes them so believable that readers will entertain the possibility that these magical entities actually exist. There is enough fantasy, horror and romance in THE GUARDIAN to keep fans of the three genres very happy.

Lawnmower Blues
Rex Anderson
Five Star
ISBN: 159414320X $25.95, 243 pp.

In 1999 Houston private investigator Tony Aapt inherited a ton of debt when his grandfather died and left him the family sleuthing business. Fiftyish former bartender Maggie Hawk recently won a sweepstakes that guarantees her 500K per year for twenty years. She wants Tony, who frequented her bar with exaggerated tales of his work, to look into the death of her husband George W. Hawk in 1966. Tony looks at the detailed information she provides him and agrees with the official ruling of suicide until she begins to make a case that her spouse did not kill himself; he was murdered to steal his invention, a safe lawnmower blade. Needing the money but feeling guilty as the clues will be cold and he has no experience with this type of inquiry Tony begins his investigation. He soon becomes convinced that people were paid off by the legendary lawnmower king Jason Woods to hide a homicide and a stolen invention, but how to prove it proves difficult especially when the target of his case offers him a job he cannot afford to refuse. Tony makes the case fun to follow as he fumbles and bumbles the investigation, but perhaps it is in the DNA because he keeps moving forward one clue at a time. The hero is apt to fail not only due to his lack of experience, but also he is going up against a highly regarded superheavyweight who has much more power than when he seemingly bribed the world three decades ago. Fans will enjoy the twists to LAWNMOWER BLUES as Rex Anderson provides a fine mystery starring a wannabe hard boiled detective who is undercooked and truly a softy.

Fortune Cookie Karma
L.F. Crawford
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143110 $25.95, 260 pp.

Beverly Hills detectives forty-two years old Art Murry and twenty-three years old Billy Kidman are working the crime scene of the fifth murder by the Ice Pick killer when they learn they have been added to the regional task force to apprehend this serial killer. The victim is a college professor of parapsychology who called the police to offer her help on the case and seemed to know she was in danger. Meanwhile Conrad the Ice Pick Killer is stunned that the King of Thieves broke into his home and stole his ice picks. He expects to hear from the thief who he plans to kill when the extortion attempt occurs. He is also making plans for his next victim, medical examiner Mary ?clair, Art's girlfriend. As Art works the clues and trains a somewhat frustrated Billy, the brass with media and elected officials pushes for quick solutions not necessarily correct ones. This is one of the best police procedurals of the mid point of the year in spite of the over-used serial killer angle. Art is terrific as he provides on the job training to his junior partner and to readers. Fans of solid investigative tales that also showcases the thoughts of the killer in a Hitchcock manner will want to read FORTUNE COOKIE KARMA and want more works starring these two fine detectives from award winning L.F. Crawford; she is an author worth searching for her backlist.

The Case of the Greedy Lawyers
Carl Brookins
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143196 $25.95, 260 pp.

An upper class female visits Hennepin County, Minnesota private investigator Sean "NMI" Sean insisting that powerful attorney Ephraim Harcourt Saint Martin sent her to him because she needs his help. She tells him no more except that she will consider hiring him before leaving. The next day the police ask Sean to come to the morgue to identify a corpse of a woman carrying his business card. He recognizes her as his visitor who left without providing her name or her reason for seeing him. Not long afterward, someone attacks Sean at his home warning him to back off or else. Another woman calls pleading with him to help her; she too is murdered. Finally Sean also learns that a nameless detective (not Pronzini's) has made inquiries about him so he investigates why. This leads him to Lucinda the dominatrix and the knowledge of S&M behavior on the part of the legal class. Sean keeps digging as only he can to uncover who is snuffing out their bondage partners as Ephraim is now dead. Sean is terrific in what is a spoof on hard boiled detectives as the hero proves that tough sleuths can be small (5'3"), compassionate, caring and in your face as he refuses to accept crap. The story line is interesting as Sean is pulled into the world of bondage by not quite clients who end up dead. Private investigative fans will enjoy the entertaining tale wondering what is going on and tagging along with Sean as he ponders why homicide amongst the legal class has interrupted their sexual games.

Wolf Point
Edward Falco
Greg Michalson
200 North 9th Street, Suite A, Columbia, MO 65201
ISBN: 1932961089 $23.95, 240 pp.

Near Syracuse though he knows only a fool would stop, fifty-seven years old businessman T Aloysius Walker known as Tom pulls over to the shoulder of the road to pick up the two hitchhikers. The beautiful woman no more than twenty years old checks him out before entering his SUV followed by her leather clad dude. Jen says she and Lester are heading to Tully until Tom mentions he is heading to the Thousand Islands, which she says is their destination too. He knows he picked them up because since his divorce he is lonely, isolated, and his life feels in ruins. T and Jen play the game of truth asking each other questions until he asks whether they plan to rob him. Jen says she is no longer sure, but that was the plan while Les says he needs the car and money with T out of the way. T knows he must at least ditch Les who sounds increasingly desperate as they drive the seemingly isolated road. Confrontation is coming, but who will walk away as T relishes the adrenalin that has awakened inside him for the first time since his marriage legally ended. WOLF POINT is a terrific thriller that stars three protagonists who on the ride form an intriguing triangle that keeps the audience in suspense wondering when the seemingly inevitable altercation will occur. The story line mostly happens inside the Rover yet the suspense is stratospherically high and keeps growing because the audience slowly understands the demons that eat at each of the key players. Edward Falco provides a terrific thriller sort of mindful of Spielberg's Duel except that the audience knows all the adversaries up front and personal.

Get a Clue
Jill Shalvis
ISBN: 0758211376 $14.00, 320 pp.

Irate that her fianc? Dean left her at the altar, Breanne Mooreland goes on their honeymoon anyway so that she can run up charges on the rat's credit card. She takes her vibrator with her knowing that gave her more thrills than Dean ever did. The trek in a snow storm to the cabin in the Sierras is hellish, but she makes it to her destination only to find a naked stud in her shower. San Francisco battle fatigued police vice squad detective Cooper Scott picks up the vibrator that the woman who ruined his shower dropped. He needs this vacation so he refuses to allow an angry beautiful woman spoil his time off. Besides with the storm there is no other lodging available. They split the bed in half; during the night both dreams of hot sex with the other. As he tries to prove he is a nice guy who wants sex with her, Breanne trips over a corpse. Snowbound, Cooper investigates wondering who amongst the zany staff is a killer although he prefers to investigate the body of his roommate. GET A CLUE is a terrific police procedural romantic suspense as Cooper works the homicide as best he can in accordance with procedures. The romance between the recently burned Breanne and the burned out Cooper is deftly handled as he struggles to get her to believe he will not just leave (not that he can with the weather) once they have sex. The eccentric support cast seems like escapees from a loony farm, but in a wacky way enhance the two subplots. If they do not know already, fans will GET A CLUE that Jill Shalvis is a talented writer.

Highland Vampire
Hannah Howell, Adrienne Basso, and Deborah Raleigh
ISBN: 0758211554 $12.00, 304 pp.

"Kiss of the Vampire" by Hannah Howell. In 1478 at court Janklyn MacNachton sees Efrica Callen for the first time in three years and realizes he still desires her. When two lords accost Efrica, he intercedes. She makes it clear she wants him, but he offers this wealthy heiress nothing but darkness that will eventually become the light that he sees deep in her soul. "His Eternal Bride" by Adrienne Basso. In 1321 Anaxandra watches the wonderful Highlander lead his men to a slaughter of the English. Afterward the creature of the night slips into his keep and has her way him. The McCloskey clan blames the death of their chieftain on his bride Callum. They lock her away in an isolated tower where she dreams of seeing her beloved once more. As she begins to believe he still lives in a shadowy place, Callum debates joining him in his realm. "To Tame the Beast" by Deborah Raleigh. Bane the Beast of MacDonnell is cursed to live a lonely existence so he forces each generation of the Foster clan to give him the oldest daughter when she turns twenty-one. Kathryn will be the next sacrifice shortly, but her younger sister Isobella challenges Bane to leave them alone, but is stunned to find a handsome man rather than a monster. He is shocked that the lass will do what no warrior has done in centuries get into his face and no woman ever before get into his heart. These are three delightfully biting vampiric historical Scottish romances that will leave the audience thirsting for more bloodsucking hunks and passionate women who tame the beasts.

Really Unusual Bad Boys
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 075820891X $14.00

"Bridefight". With her injured knee killing her, Detective Lois Commoner takes a pain killer. However, somehow she wonders what she took because she is no longer inside her apartment. Instead she is in a beautiful strange land looking in delight at a naked hunk Prince Damon who offers to take the visitor under his wings and his body. The cop in her says to investigate him thoroughly starting with a pat down even though she sees he has no hidden weapons. "Mating Season". Army officer Lieutenant Anne Sanger looks forward to being stationed in Germany so she can see Europe and hopes to meet a strong farm lad in uniform who worships her. Instead she meets Prince Maltese naked in her tub who wants to kiss her senseless, which he does. Everything is ecstasy unless she figures she will wake up putting a climax to what feels so truly hard. "Groomfight". Prince Shakar seemingly fell from the heavens at the feet of Rica Callanbra. He adjusts to her lifestyle while she adapts to having a compassionate caring hunk to swim naked with and make love to. However, the Prince must go home because he must marry one of the fighting females from his realm. Of course these women never battled a strong female human who knows what she wants and how to achieve her objective. These three amusing erotic romantic fantasies are terrific fun stories starring strong females who match up well with REALLY UNUSUAL BAD BOYS. Once again nobody combines humor, romance, otherworldly elements (including that), and erotica into fabulous tales like MaryJanice Davidson.

Fangs for the Memories
Kathy Love
ISBN: 0758211317 $14.00, 320 pp.

It is the day before Christmas Eve and two hundred year old vampire Rhys enters a seedy bar seeking oblivion. While he drinks away his sorrows, in walks Jane an innocent who sticks out in this dive. A customer hits on her and Jane is so innocent she accepts the drinks he keeps buying for her. When she leaves he follows her and attacks her but Rhys stops him. When Jane goes back to her hotel, Rhys drinks from her attacker and is then attacked by his brother, Christian who believes Rhys was the cause of his lover's destruction. Jane returns to the area and Christian takes away her memory of seeing Rhys unconscious and him being on the scene. Sebastian, Rhys's other brother finds both of them and brings them to his home. Rhys' thinks he is betrothed to Jane and has no the memory that he is a vampire. Sebastian encourages his delusion believing that Jane can make Rhys very happy. The two fall love, neither knowing what Rhys really is but Christen is out there, waiting to destroy Jane and make his brother suffer. Kathy Love has done the impossible: come up with an original idea for a vampire romance. She creates a situation that leaves the hero with amnesia so that neither he nor his lover knows he is one of the undead. This makes for some very humorous scenes as Sebastian, who is playing matchmaker has to placate them while creating believable explanations to his brother's questions. The love scenes are brilliantly written but lingering in the background is Christian and the danger he presents to Rhys and Jane, making readers wonder when he will attack next. This novel is a bloodsucker's delight.

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
John le Carre
ISBN: 0802714541 $19.00, 245 pp.

In the early 1960s British Agent Alec Leamas is assigned control of undercover double agents working out of the wall that divides Berlin. His job is simple: keep everyone under his watch safe while infiltrating his men. However, somehow the East Germans are beginning to find and assassinate his spies. Knowing that one death means failure, Leamas expects his London based boss Control to call him back to England. In some ways he looks forward to being fired so that he can come in from the Cold. Control brings Leamas home, but instead of sacking him, he orders him to play the role of a dishonored agency failure. Rumors spread about Leamas the loser even as he is deep behind the Iron Curtain. This reprint of the Cold War espionage thriller came out in 1964 just after the Berlin Wall was raised. This reviewer did not read it (or any spy novel) until my spouse encouraged me around the time of the Iranian Hostage crisis to try this and Cooper's The Spy. In spite of a seemingly us vs. them surface mentality this tale (and its Revolutionary War predecessor) paints a grim shade of life due mostly to the outlook of the forlorn hero. Interestingly Leamas still holds up though the Wall is gone over a decade and this novel easily meets the test of time as a classic like the Cooper thriller because the protagonist is a real person though a spy for any season.

Desires Unleashed: Knights of the Darkness Chronicles
D.N. Simmons
ISBN: 1418481157 $17.50

Police detectives Warren Davis and Matthew Eric have worked several ghastly cases in their respective twelve and ten years on the Chicago force and partners for the last five years on the Supernatural Unit Investigation Team, but this may be the worst. The body contains no blood and is headless. Not needing profiling and putting aside their donuts, they seek a killer vampire. Meanwhile Natasha Hemingway and her best friend Annette were celebrating the former obtaining a new job when they were in a car accident. Natasha was hospitalized but as she recovers from her injuries she begins having dreams that seem very real involving the homicides. She also meets and is attracted to Xavier Richards, but is unaware that he is a vampire. Xavier introduces Natasha to his vampiric lover Darian Alexander. To her chagrin she is attracted to him too. The vampires like the human female as much and while they work out a potential m?nage de trois, Natasha offers her assistance to Warren and Eric involving their case. DESIRES UNLEASHED: KNIGHTS OF THE DARKNESS CHRONICLES employs two major subplots that ultimately tie together. The police procedural investigation into the supernatural seems gritty, genuine and makes readers believe while the erotica theme adds depth to the belief that vampires live though the audience will wonder if Natasha will go for a threesome or not. This is not a Bueller Chicago joy ride as the novel contains graphic violence and sex scenes including an opening with an erotic death scene that is not for everyone. However fans of well written erotic supernatural investigative tale will enjoy D.N. Simmons dark, gory chronicle.

Lyon's Gate
Catherine Coulter
ISBN: 0515138975 $9.99, 434 pp.

Five years ago Jason Sherbrooke left England after being betrayed by his lover (see THE SHERBROOKE TWINS). He vowed never again to give his heart to any woman. However, after a five year self imposed exile living in Baltimore he deices it is time to return home where he plans to buy LYON'S GATE so he can breed racing horses there. Raised in America, Englishwoman Hallie Carrick (see NIGHT STORM) plans to buy Lyon's Gate. When she meets Jason, an attraction is instant that neither wants because he loathes females and she is betrothed to Elgin Sloane; they hide their feelings behind caustic comments. Worse they soon learn they are co-owners of the horse breeding farm with the stipulation that they must live at Lyon's Gate or forfeit their half of the estate. As they argue, they fall in love, but Jason still distrusts any female with his heart; Hallie in turn offers hers without a stipulation. This is a terrific Sherbrooke tale that brings in a secondary player from the author's "Night" novels of the early 1990s. The story line is terrific due to the lead couple especially Jason who burned once by love refuses to allow his feelings towards Hallie to interfere with his belief she will betray him. Hallie is perfect for the damaged Jason as she tries to heal him with love. Catherine Coulter is in top form with this fine Victorian romance.

Blood of Angels
Michael Marshall
ISBN: 0515140082 $7.99

Former CIA Agent Ward Hopkins and his lover FBI Agent Nina Bayman hide in the remotest part of the Cascade Mountains so that the conspiracy of killers THE STRAW MEN cannot come after them. They fear reprisal ever since they along with former cop John Zandt captured Paul "THE UPRIGHT MAN" Hendrickson, a serial killer who happens to be Ward's twin brother; a sibling he was unaware existed until he got involved in the homicides. FBI Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Charles Monroe and LAPD Robbery Homicide Lieutenant Doug Olbrich arrives to inform Nina that that they need her in Virginia where an apparent female serial killer is on the rampage and that Paul escaped. Everyone knows Paul is coming for his brother, but no one knows what happened to Zandt who wanted to kill the Straw Man when they had the chance for murdering his daughter. Refusing to wait for the inevitable, Nina and Ward search for Paul, but not only uncover a tail of small town killings, they learn of the "Day of the Angels" is coming and fear the mass murders by a string of puppet serial killers. The third Hopkins tale is an exhilarating thriller that grips the readers with suspense from the moment that the heroes know their sanctuary has been breached. The story line is action-packed as the siblings hunt for one another. Though better to have read the previous chilling stories, the audience still gains a taste of how widespread and insidious the Straw Men murder for hire conspiracy is. Michael Marshall shows his horror roots with this frightening chiller that will leave a spellbound audience leaving the lights on at night.

In Stone's Clasp
Christie Golden
ISBN: 0373802293 $13.99, 400 pp.

Four times the Shadow came to different worlds and on two occasions the Dancers, along with their Loremasters and Companions have been able to defeat it. The trio is reborn onto each world and the Loremaster remembers their previous times. Jareth knows nothing about the Shadow but when he was thirteen he became the Spring-Bearer able to change the seasons, allow crops to grow and commune with the earth and the animals. Twenty years, later perpetual winter came and Jareth's powers deserted him. He decides to find the gods and demand that his powers be returned otherwise all of Lamath will die. Kevla the fire dancer and her companion a dragon know that Jareth is the Stone Dancer. They accompany him on his quest to find the gods, knowing he will find his Companion the tiger to help him accept his true destiny. Before searching for the other Dancers, he must find and destroy the Ice Maiden who blocked his power and stopped spring from returning to Lamath. Working together, Jareth and Kevla find the Ice Maiden and if they are able to stop her they must set out to look for the other Dancers to fight the coming Shadow. The Dancers are elementals who wield magic that is basic to their nature. Readers will love this romantic fantasy whose happily ever after is not a guarantee and the quest to unite the dancers leads to danger, treachery and romance. There is one enemy who wants to see the Dancers fail. He is the emperor and what he is will be made clear in future books in this series. Christie Golden is a brilliant world builder and her characters are people it is easy to care about.

Song of Unmaking
Caitlin Brennan
ISBN: 0373802323 $13.95, 400 pp.

Euan Rohe, a Caletanni barbarian almost brought the Empire and the Emperor to its knees during the Great Dance. Valeria, a rider of the wild stallions who are gods made flesh, finished the Dance with her own and seven other stallions and for a time war was averted. Valeria returns to the mountain for more training while Euan escapes to his homeland and allies himself with Gothard, the baseborn son of the Emperor who wants to Unmake his father's empire. War is coming and the Emperor, his warriors and his mages are at the border waiting for the right time to strike out at their enemy. Gothard has a stone that has the power to Unmake, once he knows how to use it. Valeria and her lover Kerrick, with their stallion gods travel to the battleground to stop Gothard before he starts using the stone's power to crush the Emperor's forces. Partners in love and battle Kerrick and Valeria perform a Dance unlike any dance the stallions performed, one that will determine the fate of the Empire. This is the second book in this magnificent romantic fantasy series (See THE MOUNTAIN'S CALL) and it is full of more action, romance and drama than its prequel. The love Kerrick and Valeria feel for each other is tested by secrets he keeps from his lover and the wounds that refuse to heal, both magical and physical, inflicted on him by his half-brother. The battle scenes are magnificent, the characters are realistic and the storyline is pure magic; readers will eagerly await the next book in this tantalizing series.

Poison Study
Maria V. Snyder
ISBN: 0373802307 $13.99, 350 pp.

Yelena has been locked in the dungeon under deplorable conditions for almost a year, waiting for her execution. Even though she killed Reyad in self-defense, the Code of Behavior punishes the murderer even though there is cause for the crime to be committed. When Yelena is brought before Valek the Commander's chief spymaster and assassin, he gives her a chance since she is the next prisoner due to be executed. An opening for a taste tester for the Commander is available and Yelena eagerly accepts the position. Valek has poisoned her and she must take the antidote each day thus preventing her escape. Reyad's father, General Brazell wants Yelena dead but Valek prevents numerous attempts on her life. Meanwhile Brazell sends candy to the commander that he eats several times a day; over time Valek and Yelena notice a change come over their leader but are unable to find any evidence that Brazell is poisoning or enchanting the Commander. When they travel to Brazell's home, a trap is sprung and the outcome will determine who rules the realm. Yelena, now aware of her magical abilities, must fight a trained magician who has had time to strengthen his position and see his plans come to completion. The heroine, an orphan who doesn't know her heritage, is a strong willed person able to take the pain life throws at her and remains a good hearted person giving love and loyalty to those who deserve it. POISON STUDY is rich in character development and action scenes and many of the battles take place in the magical arena. Valek is an interesting character, more so then Yelena, because he hides behind a mask so that readers wonder what motivates him while Yelena wears her heart on her sleeve. Maria V. Snyder makes readers believe in her world and the characters she creates, a writer's form of magic.

Christopher Whitcomb
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316600806 $24.95, 400 pp.

FBI Hostage Rescue Team Special Agent Jeremy Waller is looking forward to coming home to spend time with his family after an assignment in Indonesia fighting terrorists; three are Americans and the CIA supports instant execution. Shocked he heads home only to find American under attack as extremists bomb Disneyland Anaheim, Minnesota's Mall of America and a popular Atlanta nightspot. The first reaction from law enforcement and the media is they terrorists are Islamic Jihads. Soon speculation turns to within and Jeremy begins to suspect an unholy alliance between Islamic Jihad, white supremacists, and the highest levels of the American government as clues lead to the White House. Could the recently elected President Venable be a traitor or is there someone else behind the scenes. While he struggles with the clues more attacks occur on key American energy points. The country is on the brink of collapse and the terrorists are becoming more brazen with every success; only Jeremy and a couple of super female agents stand in the way of turning the Red, White and Blue totally blood red. WHITE, the sequel to BLACK, is a terrific thriller that is action packed from start to finish, but also contains solid characters like the heroic Jeremy. Several key players from the previous novel provide critical support such as Sen. Elizabeth Beechum who is now VP and Jordan Mitchell of Borders Atlantic telecommunications. However, the key to this exciting thriller is that it seems possible so much so the audience will reconsider some of the intrusive authorizations handed to the FBI. Christopher Whitcomb writes a tense terrorist thriller that fans will be grateful to have read it.

The Historian
Elizabeth Kostova
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316011770 $25.95, 656 pp.

In 1972, the sixteen year old American has lived in Amsterdam as the daughter of a widowed diplomat so long she cannot remember much of her time in the United States. While in her father's library, the teen finds an ancient tome that contains no writing only a disturbingly menacing looking picture of a dragon and the word "Drakulya". However, numerous letters from 1930 are also inside with the enigmatic salutation: "My dear and unfortunate successor". The daughter asks her father what this all means. Despondent he explains what he knows and how he "inherited" the book and the related terrifying quest from his former adviser at Oxford, who became convinced that Drakulya lives, but vanished soon afterward. He picked up the mantle risking ridicule, but though he has made progress, he fears that the search for Drakuyla will be what he bequests his beloved daughter. Still he tells her to concentrate on school and forget his obsession. She cannot as the book has hooked her as it has done others including her dad; the daughter begins her research into the living legend of Drakulya. THE HISTORIAN is a terrific suspense thriller that grips the audience when the naive narrator picks up the quest over the objection yet expectation of her father. The story line takes the audience across Europe as the teen investigates Drakulya, what happened to the history professor, and related sidebars as she follows the mantra that the truth is out there. Fans will accompany her every twisted step of the way wondering what is at the end of this darkened rainbow. Like the book within the book, THE HISTORIAN grips the audience from the start causing some sleepless nights.

Taming the Barbarian
Lois Greiman
ISBN: 006078394X $5.99, 384 pp.

Seven years have passed since Thomas passed away, but Lady Fleurette Eddings has no plans to ever marry again as she enjoys her freedom especially from abusive spouses. In Paris with friends, she admires the statue of the Black Celt with his wolf. Legend says he was the deadliest mercenary who sold his services to highest bidder until he met the woman who stole his heart. She cannot stop gazing at the statue as if hypnotized by it. She has to make an effort to pull away from its strange attraction. Unable to stop herself, Fleurette returns to the statue and caresses it. Shockingly she releases Killian Hiltsglen from his statue home of the past few centuries. The Black Celt knows he must somehow help the lass who freed him, but instead finds he wants to make love to her. She in turn does not trust Killian though she also desires him. However, Fleurette needs a warrior to protect her from one of her friends whose plan is to force her into marriage. TAMING THE BARBARIAN is a fabulous historical romantic fantasy that grips the audience from the moment that the Black Celt comes to life only to realize his charge seems unable to trust him. The story line plays out on two subplots that nicely intermingle. First the obvious romance between the lead couple supported by someone who has killed and is willing to do so again to foster his ambitions. Lois Greiman opens her Men of the Mist trilogy with a fine tale.

One Dead Under the Cuckoo's Nest
Lori Avocato
ISBN: 0060731672 $6.99

Former nurse Pauline Sokol is enjoying her birthday party with her parents when the mysterious Jagger, who she has worked with before, shows up claiming he needs her help. He wants Pauline, a Scarpello & Tonelli insurance fraud investigator, to assist him in escorting Mary Louise Huntington to the Cortona Institute of Life mental institution near Hartford, a facility run by nuns; Jagger insist that the escort must be a nurse. At the same time her sleazy boss Fabio dumps a psychiatric fraud case on her lap while he goes to gamble at the Mohegan Sun Casino. The two simple cases collapse when the nuns take Pauline in as their patient. No one including Jagger bails her out and she fails to prove to the Sisters that's she is sane. So rather than mope, she begins sleuthing only to learn other patients have been abducted and committed to this institution. However, the fraud turns ugly when murder occurs, but Pauline refuses to walk away as she has befriended some of the innocent victims. The third Sokol insurance fraud mystery (see A DOSE OF MURDER, THE STIFF AND THE DEAD), ONE DEAD UNDER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, is a terrific tale. Pauline is not only at her courageous best, but her family, the mental institution patients, others and especially Jagger add depth and to a degree eccentricity to the exciting story line. Lori Avocato writes a fabulous mystery starring a delightful protagonist and a horde of supporting players who together provide a fine who-done-it reading experience.

Deadly Collection
Elaine Flinn
ISBN: 0060545828 $6.99

Grieving artist Frances "Mackie" O'Brien returns from two years in France to California for the funeral of her parents who died in a car accident. Stunned by what happened to her family, Mackie hires Carmel based antiques dealer Molly Doyle to catalogue the collectibles her parents owned from their days as Hollywood set designers. Molly expected something huge at sprawling La Casa, but not anywhere as massive or valuable as the O'Briens accumulated over the years in movie memorabilia worth a fortune and an expensive antique collection. However, the real shocker is when Molly and others find a coffin containing a corpse in it. Concerned that the police limit their suspects to one person, Molly investigates. Aided by her precocious preadolescent niece Emma, Molly soon finds the two female amateur sleuths in trouble from a killer who wants the truth to remain buried. The latest Molly Doyle amateur sleuth tale is a terrific who-done-it that takes its time to set the stage of the key players so that the audience will not know who killed the victim. The story line often humorous but never loses sight that a homicide occurred years ago. Molly is wonderful as she makes inquiries ably assisted by her Shrek loving niece. Fans of California mellow cozies will appreciate Molly's latest caper.

Jenna Peterson
ISBN: 0060798599 $5.99, 384 pp.

At his brother's engagement party, Dominic Mallory desires Katherine Fleming, fianc?e of his step-brother Cole, who learns that his wife thought dead in a ship wreck two years ago lives. As his family and her guardians struggle with limiting the scandal, Dominic enjoys the mess. Cole takes his despised brother aside and offers Lansing Square to Dominic if he weds Katherine; Cole would receive Katherine's dowry and property as he explains that he lost them gambling. Reluctantly Dominic agrees to Cole's terms though he hates his sibling. Katherine does not want to marry Dominic, but knows she does not love Cole. Dominic explains her choices and she reluctantly agrees to marry him. Dominic and Katherine marry and leave for Lansing Square. They make love every night until she decides to make this home perfect for her spouse. Meanwhile during the day, Dominic searches for something, but refuses to tell Kat what he looks for; instead he shakes her by saying they will leave soon and live in London. Kat loves her spouse, but now pregnant plans to leave him as unrequited love is not good for a child as she knows first hand. The growing love between the lead couple is deftly handled making the tale fun and the love at first sight between Katherine and Dominic set the tone of the plot. However his step-brother is too pompous, snooty and nasty and Cole's wife is even worse. Still in spite of neither showing any redeeming quality, fans will appreciate this fine nineteenth century romance starring two protagonists who begin to heal due to love.

A Match Made In Scandal
Melody Thomas
ISBN: 0060742313 $5.99, 384 pp.

Four years have passed since the death of Kathleen changed her husband Ryan Donally into a womanizing angry person and her best friend Rachel Bailey into a guilt laden soul. He has become an award winning civil engineer rumored to marry soon the lady Gwyneth Abbott while Rachel fled to Ireland to perform engineering projects. Now Rachel, an engineer too, is back in London ostensibly to expand the Rathdrum project. However, she knows she is really there to plead with Ryan that she needs him to help heal her heart as she feels guilty over the horrible accusations she made when Kathleen died in childbirth. She also feels guilty that she had desired him although he was married to her best friend. However, Ryan, who once loved the only woman who could defeat him at croquet, refuses to forgive her. Still he is unable to ignore his desire for Rachel and soon they make love as if the world is about to end. Forced to marry, their relationship though filled with blazing passion, looks doomed to failure unless each forgive her transgressions and reconcile with the past. A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL is a terrific Victorian romance starring two likable but remorseful individuals who have never come to grips with the death of Kathleen, a person they both cared for. The story line is driven by the lead couple as each needs to find a way to move past their grief although four years have passed. Fans will appreciate this fine 1870s drama in which love is the only hope to bring about healing.

After Midnight
Teresa Medeiros
ISBN: 0060762993 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1820 bookish Lady Caroline Cabot writes off the latest comments of her whimsical in the clouds youngest sister seventeen years old Portia of being overly dramatic as ever when she claimed their middle sister Vivienne is marrying a vampire. Normally she ignores her sibling's ramblings like the proclamation that a werewolf is sifting through the garbage. However, the pragmatic Caroline realizes her middle sister in town for the season with their Aunt Marietta has a suitor in London so she plans to travel there and meet this Viscount Adrian Kane. In London Adrian invites Vivienne's sisters to join him for a midnight meal so they can become better acquainted though she has some doubts about the time in light of rumors about his nocturnal activity. To her chagrin from the first moment their eyes meet, Caroline feels hypnotized by the handsome viscount; to his shock he feels the same about the bookworm, but fears his feelings if known could harm his beloved. As they begin to fall in love, she begins to believe that her soulmate is a vampire. However, Caroline wonders if he is also a killer while also feeling guilty that she is stealing the man( make that male as a vampire is not a man are they?) courting her sibling's beau. AFTER MIDNIGHT is a delightful tongue in cheek Regency vampire romance with quite a bite as the audience will wonder for quite a while whether he is or is not. The supernatural historical novel freshens up the sub-genre because the hero's falling in love endangers his beloved. Fans of both sub-genres will appreciate Teresa Medeiros's fine tale and look forward to the sisters' stories.

Still in My Heart
Kathryn Smith
ISBN: 0060740744 $5.99, 384 pp.

Viscount Brahm Ryland is rake who does not care about his sordid reputation. In fact Brahm uses the image of a rake to hide how much he hurts inside. He misses the woman he loves Lady Eleanor Durbane, but has no hope of reconciliation with his ex fianc?e who will never forgive seeing him make love with another woman. Brahm had been drunk and thought she was his beloved Eleanor, but the betrayal cut deeply and she will not give him a chance to plead his case. By1819 after several years of pining for Eleanor with no hope, opportunity finally arrives when Eleanor's father invites Brahm to attend a shooting party at his estate. He hopes his beloved will accept his apology and allow him back into her life. Heeding the advice of her sisters and her years of hurt by his betrayal and subsequent womanizing Eleanor rejects his plea. Brahm knows he must rebuild the trust she once had in him; he also knows he will do anything including grovel in public to get a second chance at love. Though similar to many of the sub-genre tales, STILL IN MY HEART is a fine regency romance starring likable characters struggling with trust issues even though the love between them remains strong. The story line focuses on Brahm trying a Hail Mary desperation play to win back the regard of the woman he loves. Eleanor considered an ape on the shelf being single in her thirties, still loves Brahm, but she knows even if she forgave him, she will never trust him. His efforts to prove his worthiness make for a fine time for readers.

A Stroke of Misfortune
Nancy Gotter Gates
Silver Dagger
ISBN: 1570722978 $9.95

In La Hacienda condo in Sarasota, Florida, Geraldine "Gerry" Stapleton worried about how her relatively new neighbor Emma Daniels is adjusting to the sudden death of her fifty-nine year old spouse Paul. Though Emma wants to be alone she also welcomes the show of friendship as her family is all back in Ohio. However, not long afterward tragedy strikes when chronic leukemia stricken Gerry suddenly dies and her husband Phil subsequently suffers a stroke, losing the ability to communicate. The real shocker to an already mentally battered Emma occurs when the police arrest Phil for suffocating his wife in what they label as a mercy killing. Emma refuses to believe that Phil murdered his wife especially as an act of mercy when he informed her that the doctor's prognosis for Gerry was excellent and would probably live at least ten more years. Unable to let it go, Emma investigates starting with obtaining information on her deceased friend's past. She learns that the assertive Gerri was a former president of a pro-life group that sued a storefront church for blocking entrance to an abortion clinic and belonged to a crafts collective in which she challenged some creative bookkeeping. Could either of these groups which had motive take revenge by killing her? Obviously Emma is the star of this delightful cozy as she struggles with widowhood, her friend's death, the husband as the prime suspect, and on top of that her daughter-in-law, estranged from her son, has turned to her for help. Emma's adventures include abduction and a bomb threat to go with her fun amateur sleuth investigation. She makes the tale she tries to solve who killed Gerry as she refuses to accept Phil could kill his beloved spouse when she still had her spark.

Someone Else
Tonino Benacquista
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738125 $14.95

The two men in their forties met when neither confident of their sport's ability played tennis against each other at Les Feuillants Tennis Club. Afterward Tierry Blin and Nicolas Gredzinksi went to the bar. Over several drinks they both admit to one anther they are unhappy with their present life and the apparent tedious future. Tierry is a successful picture framer who wants to become a private detective while Nicholas is an executive trying to hang onto the corporate ladder that he detests. Under the influence of imbibing too much alcohol they bet as to who could change his life the most. They agreed to meet in three years right here. Both are frightened to make the change, but Tierry tries dropping his loyal clientele to become a sleuth while legal circumstances forces Gred to let go of the ladder. As each leaves their safety net behind neither knows what to expect, but the time has come to find out what makes them tick as the capitalist world has sucked away their identity. However, neither is prepared for the danger that comes as each journey into the unknown fostered by the women in their lives. This is a terrific character study that looks deep into the onset of middle age with mortality around the corner and the need to believe that there is more to life than just making money in a safe environs. The story line rotates point of view between the two lead protagonists yet though clearly character driven has plenty of action. Fans of something different especially those who have become a bit cynical will appreciate this powerful glimpse at the risk of change to become SOMEONE ELSE.

The Elder Staves
Steven Oliverez
ISBN: 1593302800 $14.95

The majestic sky city of Tyr runs on the magic of the aristocratic elders, who use staves to keep the deadly tundra below at bay by controlling the environs. Still even in this seemingly utopian realm, the rebels revolt against the status quo especially the death sentence used to quell dissension. As the rebellion mounts, rumors abound that the staves are losing their power; this growing belief is fostered by the daily occurrence of a cold wind blowing across Tyr when until recently this had never happened before. His family, especially his father has manipulated the political landscape so that Carn will be named elder. Carn has problems with becoming an elder because of some of their tyrannical practices like the execution of peaceful dissenters. Meanwhile in the frozen wasteland below Tyr, the Fallen Exile wants vengeance against those who kicked him out of paradise. He may just succeed if he can remove his only worthy opponent Garret the inventor, which he cleverly does. However, the Exile failed to consider Carn. The comparative analysis between the two societies and within Tyr makes for a deep fantasy in which readers observe a battle of ideas as much as a war mindful of the late 1960s and the deep split in America today. The story line is action-packed with the key cast members symbolic of a segment of society. Whereas Carn represents the rebellion of youth, his father connotes tradition. Both believe their city is falling part, but who will prevail or will the intrusion from below cause the end of days. This is a terrific saga that readers of all ages will cherish as much for its concepts as for the action-adventure.

Dragon Son
Elaine Corvidae
Mundania Press
ISBN: 1594260613 $13.00

During the chaos of the battle of Segg, dying half-breed Yozert Jonaglir (offspring of a dragon fire sorcerer Aclytese and Wolfkin shapeshifter) is near death with no hope of anyone saving his life. However, a female orphan Owl finds Yozert in his wolf form and saves his life. They become very close like a father with a beloved daughter, and exchange blood. They journey in hopes of finding a haven from the brutal war as neither the forces of the merciless King Fellrant of Jenel and the just as cold-blooded Emperor Jahcgroth of Argannese care what happens to civilians. Yozert and Owl attract other wannabe survivors amongst human, Aclytese and Wolfkin desperate for respite from the horrors of war. Yozert leads his troupe to Vorslava where they take over the city. Soon word spreads of a haven for refugees. Yozerf's mate and his mother arrive to find him in charge preparing his followers for a rough cold winter and an even tougher spring when the magical armies of King Fellrant and Emperor Jahcgroth will attack this peaceful insurrection. The above paragraphs barely make a dent into describing the adventures of the hero and his troupe who fight every inch of the way to the city, to take the city, and to rule the city. Fans will believe in the existence of the differing sentient species that have been at war for generations, but to survive the vicious royal armies must merge. Though this epic fantasy can stand alone the audience will better appreciate and understand the key players by reading the first two novels in the delightful Lord of Wind and Fire series (see WOLFKIN and THE CROW QUEEN; the trio is worth the time and money.

In the Hope of Rising Again
Helen Scully
ISBN: 1594481032 $14.00, 336 pp.

With the Civil War over, Colonel Riant moves to Mobile where he meets and marries wealthy Regina. However, when she dies from a yellow fever epidemic, the grieving Colonel spends his time running the Mobile Chronicle and doing good deeds for the less fortunate. Fifteen years later, the Colonel weds a second Regina in a marriage of convenience. Their relationship is frosty at best, but still he sires four spoiled sons and a daughter of course named Regina. Unlike her pampered siblings who adopt their mother's hedonistic lifestyle, Regina the daughter adulates her father who teaches her the importance of caring for the less fortunate. In 1919 twenty one year old Regina the daughter marries Charles Morrow, who seems feckless especially compared with her father. After the Colonel dies, his four moronic sons waste his fortune and Charles kills himself while intoxicated. As the Depression makes life harder, Regina the daughter finds her confidence in Jesus somewhat shaken, but her friendship with her family maid Camilla helps her make it. Ignoring the urge to sing Henry VIII by Herman's Hermits, readers will enjoy IN THE HOPE OF RISING AGAIN. The tale lives up to its title as an inspirational historical fiction novel that showcases the life of a hardy woman coping with failure. The story line feels somewhat fragmented, but for the most part follows Regina the daughter as she courageously handles life's curveballs mostly tossed by the males in her life, who fail to live up to dad. Although the ending is too easy of a cop out from Regina the daughter's latest woes, fans of early twentieth century sagas will want to read Helen Scully's fine epic drama.

My Very Own Murder
Josephine Carr
ISBN: 0451216466 $12.95, 272 pp.

When Anne Johnson discovered her husband was cheating, she divorced him but unlike most women who catch their spouse cheating, she is content because she was never happy in her marriage. She moves into the prestigious Kennedy apartment building and she misses neither her husband nor her children as she revels in being alone and being able to decide what she wants to do. The fifty year old divorcee is shaken to hear a voice in her head saying that a murder will occur in the Kennedy in thirty days and she must prevent it from happening. Not knowing what to think, she goes to the laundry room where she meets Mary, a cleaning woman for many of the apartments in the building. She confides about what the voice says to Mary who doesn't believe Anne is crazy. Together they cook up a scheme where Anne has a housewarming party so that they can look for potential murder suspects and victims. What follows is a friendship that involves a whacky investigation that leads to the criminals who want to silence Anne before she finds out their secret. This is a lighthearted serio-comic amateur sleuth mystery based on a voice in the protagonist's head. The heroine is a delightfully quirky individual who marches to her own drummer and her friendship with the cleaning lady is instant. The mystery of who is behind the suspected crime comes very late in the book but readers won't feel any disappointment because the author is, without being obvious, sprinkling clues that leads to the killer throughout the tale. This is a very special, unique and exciting mystery featuring characters that are razor sharp and diabolically clever.

The Great Pretender
Millenia Black
ISBN: 0451216482 $13.95, 304 pp.

For six years in Florida, marketing vice president Reginald Brooks has had two families. His mistress Renee lives in Orlando with their daughter Denise while his wife of two decades Tracy resides in Miami along with their two daughters, Olivia and Valerie. However, Tracy is not pure as she is having an affair with Reggie's childhood enemy, Franklin Bevins, who simply is using her because he loathes her husband and plans to destroy him. Reggie feels his age as his duplicity is exhausting. He informs Renee that their relationship is over as he has a wife and two other daughters. He further tells Tracy that he has another child living in Orlando and learns about her affair with his adversary Frank. Other truths surface with relationships apparently nuked as each participant in this sordid situation must make decisions about the future. This is a fabulous insightful family drama with no one unscathed or perfect, which is why the tale is so good. The key cast is selfish and hedonistic, but though none come across as likable they all seem very human. Millenia Black writes a deep powerful character study that looks at the consequences on relationships when people live duplicitous lives to cover up bad choices.

50 Harbor Street
Debbie Macomber
ISBN: 0778322084 $7.50

In Cedar Grove, Washington, private detective Roy McAfee and his wife Corrie are undergoing mixed emotions. They are elated that their daughter Linette is in town, but shook up by the harassing anonymous letters that imply their past will soon catch up to them. Roy applies his investigative skills to uncover what the stalker knows, why the person is sending the letters and who he or she is. Still both feel the pressure, behaving testy and unsure with one another, but that does not stop mom from matchmaking Linette with Cal at a dog and bachelor auction. Meanwhile other townsfolk go on with their lives. Cal's boss Grace Sherman has given up on Cliff Harding while her married daughter Mary faces a difficult pregnancy so soon after a miscarriage. Charlotte and Ben Rhodes are happy newlyweds until his son David from a previous relationship invites them to his home. Cecelia Randall is euphoric but frightened as she is five months pregnant, her spouse is at sea, and they lost one child already. Though many tribulations face these locals and others, life goes on in Cedar Grove. As with the previous four Cedar Grove tales, there is a prime story line focused on one couple enhanced by mini subplots on other town residents. This time the center is held by the McAfee couple happy that their child is home but fearing the shame of a secret being revealed. Folks from the previous tales also have their lives looked at, but on a smaller scale and not just those quickly patched together in paragraph two above. Meandering and frequently switching focus, fans will enjoy visiting 50 HARBOR STREET.

A View of the River
Kathleen Eagle
ISBN: 0778320987 $6.99, 384 pp.

Schoolteacher Rochelle LeClair returns to her home in Little Falls, Minnesota to insure her once wealthy philanthropist Aunt Meg has a roof over her head. The family fortune earned by great-grandfather Martin Bruner back in 1911 also devastated the homes of a small but courageous band of Ojibwe Indians. Ojibwe shaman Birch Trueblood is doing quite well with providing Native American rituals to believers and tourists though he himself is a cynic. He raises his preadolescent daughter Robin by himself ever since his wife, a soldier, died on active duty overseas. Birch is hired to help the spirits that reside at Meg's home which was converted to a bed and breakfast move on to the next level. Everyone who attends his performance including Robin thinks he is the real deal except himself and Rochelle. Their ancestors crossed back in 1911 and they have known each other on and off for years; she believes he is fraud, something he would agree with. However, this time encouraged by her aunt, his daughter, and several spirits they fall in love but she refuses to believe him when he insists he has seen ghosts that no one else sees. This is an interesting contemporary romance with a paranormal spin and a delightful final reverse twist that will surprise readers. The cast makes for a pleasant read as the past haunts the present in more ways than just the ugly "eminent domain' 1911 incident that link the lead duet. Though Robin is too precocious, fans will enjoy this fine tale with ghostly intervention.

Deadly Impulse
Olga Bicos
ISBN: 0778322114 $6.99, 384 pp.

The trial ended with a hung jury, but most people believed that photographer Clayton Chase killed his pregnant wife Jillian though he insisted he was unconscious having been hit by lightning. Currently, Clayton receives mental counseling from Piper Jordan who specializes with lightning cases ever since her beloved spouse died when he was struck. She raises her two children though the older teen Mandy is not her biological daughter while her preadolescent son Simon suffers from electroporation as a result of the same strike that killed his dad. Clay's lawyer Aidan Parks informs him that Florida is re-prosecuting the case. Clay cannot understand why Aidan represents him as Jillian's influential and wealthy dad wants Clay executed. Meanwhile Clay realizes that he is falling in love with his counselor especially when she is the only subject he can photograph since he was struck by lightning. However, he also knows, as the trial starts, he will not see her or help Simon who is only a scared child not suffering from an illness. To her chagrin, Piper is attracted to her patient, who is probably a spousal killer. DEADLY IMPULSE is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience who will want to know whether Clay really killed his wife. Though the story line has perhaps too many sidebars, ultimately they come together turning into a tense final confrontation. Fans will appreciate this strong thriller while hoping for a sequel involving a reappearance of secondary players, a married ADA and her private investigator spouse.

The Masquerade
Brenda Joyce
ISBN: 0778322092 $7.50, 592 pp.

Tyrell de Warenne rescued ten years old Lizzie Fitzgerald though he could not save the book she was reading. From that moment on, Lizzie worshiped the older boy. In 1812 sixteen years old Lizzie attends the annual All Hallows Eve masque at the home of Tyrell's father the earl. Tyrell and Lizzie meet and agree to a tryst later in the evening. When her sibling Anna spills wine on her costume, she persuades Lizzie to change garb with her. Lizzie, believing she is ugly and unworthy of her hero, goes home while Anna meets with Tyrell. Nine months later at their aunt's isolated home, Anna gives birth to Ned who she intends to give away as she plans to marry her sweetheart, but Lizzie adopts him as hers though society condemns her as a fallen woman. Her parents learn that Tyrell is Ned's father. They confront Tyrell and his parents, who agree, Ned is one of them. However, Tyrell does not believe he slept with Lizzie, but decides to go ahead with the game she is playing so he can uncover the truth. As Tyrell and Lizzie fall in love, he has first hand proof that she is not Ned's mother, but waits for her to confess; she wants to but she promised Anna she wouldn't. THE MASQUERADE is a solid Regency romance that sub-genre fans will rejoice in reading due to the likable lead couple. Tyrell has everything going for him, but instead of being spoiled and pompous like much of the nobility, he is a nice person. Lizzie has issues about her self-worth, but her champion sees her courage and kindness as virtues. Though the secondary cast accepts Ned and the relationship between the heir and the bookworm too readily, historical romance readers will enjoy this fine tale.

Grand Traverse
Michael Beres
ISBN: 1932815341 $24.95

The earth is heading toward pandemic environmental disaster. However, Paul Carter and his family do not worry about the orb as the crisis to them is local. Ducain Chemical contaminated Easthaven. He sues and wins, but his victory is hollow as his beloved wife Judy suffers from breast cancer. Ironically they met during an environmental protest back when Reagan was President. Three decades later Paul's daughter Jamie believes the toxic chemical spill is the pivotal point of her life though she was only two at the time. She successfully becomes a political activist, a soldier, "Chemical Jamie", in the war to save the embattled planet. Heather West seeks vengeance from the family that successfully won a lawsuit against her father that ruined him and destroyed her heritage. When she makes it big time on television, it furthers her life's goal to destroy the internationally popular daughter of the man who devastated her dad. The two daughters are on a collision course that has global impact neither of their fathers could have remotely envisioned. Michael Beres paints a bleak ashen future on a planet devastated by environmental disasters. The story line focuses on how the two women react to the key identical incident in their respective lives. One uses this to become a crusader while the other uses it to spread culpability on others for what she and her family lost. There is no question on what side of the environment argument Mr. Beres is on as his twenty-first century looks as if mankind is one step away from extinction yet a thousand points of light still shine with hope to save the world.

A Foreign Policy
Richard Graham-Yooll
ISBN: 193281549X $6.99, 311 pp.

In Boston Brigham Payne insurance company director Sam Payne asks his son-in-law, Guy Sinclair, an employee of the firm, to meet with him outside of work to discuss a business situation involving Saudi Arabia. At a nearby restaurant, Sam introduces Guy to Nadya Kassam who opens up her attach? case to allegedly show him something. Instead she is a suicide bomber killing herself and Sam and hospitalizing a severely injured Guy. After Guy heals, his boss Freddie Lewis sends him to Saudi Arabia to ostensibly work a claim. He meets Musa Salech who takes Guy around town. However, the visiting American also witnesses a homicide in which the police name him as the prime suspect. As he fears for his life from criminals, terrorists, and the cops, Guy with Musa's help tries to prove his innocence but obvious allies like the Webbing-Turner company of England sell him out to the authorities while Dr. Kamilia Rutger, Nadya's step-sister, joins his side and wants to know why. Adding to Guy's fears is that he learns back ho me his beloved wife Diane and their ten years old daughter is threatened. This is an interesting look at the business-terrorist complex from the perspective of a potential victim. The lead character is the last Guy anyone would believe turns into a hero as he luckily escapes death in Boston and Saudi Arabia, but becomes a champion when his beloved females are threatened. Fans of suspenseful character driven thrillers will enjoy his efforts to extricate himself from trouble and keep his family safe while also wondering like Kamilia what drove her step-sister.

Memories of Empire
Django Wexler
ISBN: 1932815147 $14.99, 475 pp.

The Imperial Empire had become complacent and hedonistic so it wasn't very difficult for the Khaevs to conquer and occupy the Imperials. Far away in the desert, a caravan is attacked by Corvus dressed all in black who kills everyone except Veil and that was because she was hidden under a dead woman's body. Having been sold into slavery by her father, Veil has no place to go except with Corvus who grudgingly accepts her company. Corvus is a man on a mission, an annesiac who wants to find out who he is. The duo travels out of the desert to Corsa where he takes his sword to an expert to find out the providence. It belonged to a person also named Corvus two hundred years ago who was the First of the two Hundred best Khaev swordsmen. Veil and Corvus are of interest to the spirits Sybian and Saya who arrange mortals both Imperial and Khaev like chess pieces until they can exploit them. It is hard to believe that this is Django Wexter's debut novel because it is as well written and character driven as a Terry Brooks or Robert Jordan novel. Veil humanizes Corvus through her force of her personality changing him from an obsessed individual be a man who cares about others. The Imperials and the Khaevs are reminiscent of the Romans. Sword and sorcery fans will find MEMORIES OF EMPIRE a very enjoyable one sitting reading experience.

Life Sentence
Tekla Dennison Miller
ISBN: 1932815252 $6.99

Pilar Brookstone transferred from the University of Michigan medical school to the University of Wisconsin to get away from her cold father and to flee from the brutal murder of her friend, one of eight victims of convicted serial killer Chad Wilbanks. After a residency at Detroit Receiving Hospital, tired of no one male accepting that someone beautiful can be intelligent and wanting to be different from her wealth is everything dad, Pilar accepts employment as the doctor at Hawk Haven Prison. Her first patient is Chad; she expected a monster, but instead he is charming and nice emphasizing her brains as much as her beauty. Pilar is shocked because she is attracted to the killer of her friend. As Chad beguiles Pilar she gives him money and rewrites her will naming him as her beneficiary. Tragedy strikes when someone murders Pilar. Her mother believes that snake oil Chad arranged a hit through one of his prison cronies and plans to prove it. Though somewhat a suspense thriller especially in the latter half of the novel, LIFE SENTENCE is more an intriguing character study that focuses into the psyche that allows an intelligent person to destroy themselves. The story line centers on Pilar whose distrust of males goes deep so when Chad penetrates through her anti-male armor, he grips her heart though she knows he is bad for her. After her murder, the story line continues as a character study although with more action and the focus on several protagonists but especially the victim's mother. Fans of tense deep looks into why people do things that they know are bad for themselves will want to read Tekla Dennison Miller's powerful drama.

Too Wilde to Tame
Janelle Denison
ISBN: 0425205282 $6.99, 304 pp.

In Chicago, for the past two years, private investigator Cameron Sinclair hid his desire for Mia Wilde from the teasing, taunting, and smart mouthed woman who he feels is TOO WILDE TO TAME. It helped to avoid the zany sexy born to be Wilde female although she is cousin to his business partner because she is not his type with her overt provocative tease; besides which she has protective brothers and cousins who will assault you before asking questions if you harm one hair of her head. However, Cam cannot walk away or evade his nemesis anymore as she needs him, but not just sexually though that would be pleasant. Someone is threatening to expose her as more than just a tease with provocative photos that they could have only gotten by stalking her. Not wanting to send her family into an alert mode that Homeland Security would envy, she asks Cam for help. He agrees. As s Cam investigates and tries to keep her safe, already in love, they can no longer pretend the attraction is not there. Readers will want to take a walk on the Wilde side with the latest tale that combines a strong private investigative who is doing it with a heated romance. Starring two protagonists, who have had a thing for one another, neither will brake for love until danger forces the pair together. Fans of the series and anyone who appreciates a well written romantic suspense thriller will want to read this action-packed torrid contemporary.

Death Waxed Over
Tim Myers
ISBN: 0425206378 $6.99, 220 pp.

In New Conover, North Carolina is the home of Harrison Black the owner of the candle making store At Wick's End and the business complex it is located in River's Edge. He is finally starting to show a profit when Gretel Barnett opened Flickering Lights in Micah's Ridge only two miles way. To drum up new business, Harrison decides to have a booth at the New Conover Founder's Day Fair. He sees Gretel there and the two get into an argument before retiring to their respective booths. When Harrison takes a lunch break, he walks near Gretel's booth at the same time someone shoots her. When the wife of the town's newspaper editor accuses of him of killing Gretel going so far as to say she saw him get rid of the gun, Harrison becomes the police's number one suspect. Besides the damage to his reputation, business at the store drops forcing Harrison to conduct his own investigation to clear his name and win back his customers. This regional cozy is a brilliantly constructed who-done-it as the killer hides in plain sight while Harrison tries to clear his name and that of the police's other suspect. Besides excellent storytelling that makes for a good reading experience, readers learn a lot about candle making and life in a small southern town. Tim Myers, nominated for an Agatha award, is a talented writer who deserves to hit the bestseller lists.

Scent of the Grave
India Ink
ISBN: 0425205339 $6.99, 272 pp.

Her live-in-lover, the "nice" Elliot, was arrested for embezzling and quickly turned state's evidence on his employers for money laundering. Persia Vanderbilt left to return home to Gull Harbor on Puget Sound's Port Samanish Island. There she works for the woman who raised her, her Aunt Florence, owner of Venus Envy, a business that creates custom blended oils and spa services. Lydia Wang, the winner of the Radiance Cosmetics Beauty Contest, asks Persia to make a special scent for her. While she is waiting, Lydia is nasty to the store's gardener, her ex-boyfriend Trevor Wilson. She also gets into a fight with the beauty contest runner up Colleen and Colleen's friend Debbie who has an inferiority complex. The next day when Persia opens the business, she finds Lydia's murdered body; the police arrest Trevor because they found the murder weapon contained his prints. Neither Persia nor her aunt believes Trevor is guilty and Persia sets out to prove it, almost losing her life in the process. India Ink has written a clever, often humorous and definitely complex amateur sleuth mystery. The protagonist is a martial arts expert who is a very feminine, feisty and independent woman. The murder victim had many enemies due to her abrasive and cruel attitude so it is impossible for readers to figure out who killed her until the author chooses to reveal that person's identity. SCENT OF THE GRAVE is a very disciplined and unusual mystery, the start of what smells to be a winning series.

A Crossworder's Delight
Nero Blanc
ISBN: 0425206564 $10.95, 176 pp.

It is the day after Thanksgiving and most everyone in New Castle, Massachusetts is at the Paul Revere Inn decorating the various rooms and completing for prizes. Belle Graham, the crossword puzzle editor for The Evening Crier, is looking at books in the inn's library when she finds a handmade book of crossword puzzles that a mother made for her daughter. Belle decides to see if she can find out who the mother and daughter were. Belle's husband, private investigator Roscoe Polycrates is involved in locating a stolen copy of Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride that was attached to the wall of the inn. Twelve year old E.T. Whitman, who was hired to clear the snow from the inn, watches the guests to make sure nobody sneaks out with the poem. One morning the poem is back on the wall but, E.T. believes it is a forgery and when they take the poem off the wall, they find a hidden compartment in the frame. While Roscoe tracks down the thieves, E.T. helps Belle with the puzzles and gives her the clue she needs to figure out who the mother was who made the book and its puzzles. Readers who like to do crossword puzzles will find this book A CROSSWORD DELIGHT. The puzzles are hard to solve because the clues center around the 1940's when the puzzle maker constructed them. It is fun to read a regional cozy that has no violence, gore or murders in the storyline yet still grips the reader. Although E.T. is a secondary character he plays a major role in helping Roscoe and Belle. Once again Nero Blanc constructs a clever and witty mystery.

Touch Me
Lucy Monroe
ISBN: 0425205312 $6.99

In 1797 England, angry aristocrat Geoffrey Selwyn believes his wife cheated on him though Anna swore she did not. When she gives birth to a boy, he takes the boy away with him. Heartbroken she gives birth a few minutes later to a twin a girl she names Althea. Fearing Geoffrey will steal Thea if he learns about her existence, Anna flees to the British West Indies. Twenty-three years later, Anna has been dead for a decade, but Thea is a partner in Merewether Shipping with her Uncle Ashby. Pierson Drake needs a blacksmith to fix his steam engine so that he can sail back to Liverpool in a timely manner to insure his investors make their money. He ignores Thea who offers to help him until he learns he needs her to hire the blacksmith. She assists him under the stipulation that he takes her to London because she wants to look at several discrepancies in the business books. He is blackmailed into agreeing. On the voyage over they fall in love and he wants to marry her, but she refuses because she knows what an inflexible male can do to a loving female. TOUCH ME is an enjoyable Regency romance starring two likable protagonists carrying plenty of relationship baggage; hers as described above and his being an illegitimate offspring. The story line is character driven as the cast especially the support players vividly brings out England, the West Indies, and to a lesser degree sailing the Atlantic in 1820. Fans of historical tales will want to journey with Lucy Monroe as her wonderful tale will touch readers hearts, making them look forward to future passages starring the heroine's half-sister and twin.

Grave Sight
Charlaine Harris
ISBN: 0425205681 $23.95, 272 pp.

After being struck by lightening, Harper Connelly can locate dead people and know if they died of natural causes, committed suicide, or were murdered. Relatives of missing people hire Harper to find their missing loved ones. Harper knows how they died because she senses the last minutes of the individual's life. Right now she and her step-brother Tolliver are in the Ozark town of Sarne, hired to find Teenie, a missing teenage girl. Harper finds the burial place and knows that the girl was murdered. She also discovers that Teenie's boyfriend didn't kill her and in remorse committed suicide but was murdered as well. Hollis, one of the police officers working the homicides, is interested in Harper who tells him that his wife Sally, the sister of Teenie was murdered and not an accident victim. Someone wants Harper and Tollivar gone and that person will not hesitate to use violence if it results in getting rid of them permanently. Considering that the heroine can find a dead body and learn how they died, she is amazingly normal and treats her skill like any of her other five senses. She even make a living out of it, not to exploit people but to give closure and sometimes even helping her client figure out who killed them if it was a homicide. Fast pacing, excellent character development and a strong storyline make GRAVE SIGHT an excellent reading experience. This fabulous opening gambit affirms that every series Charlaine Harris creates is utterly fantastic.

Someone to Believe In
Kathryn Shay
ISBN: 0425205304 $7.99, 368 pp.

Bailey "the Street Angel" O'Neil has dedicated her life to rescue youngsters from gang violence. She does right on the mean streets risking her life every time she tries to save a child, but that does not stop her from being convicted as an accessory for hiding a teen in her home. The case serves as a springboard for then DA Clayton Wainwright to become a senator. Clay feels change is needed in the neighborhoods to lesson the influence of gangs on youngsters. He disagrees with what he feels is Bailey's ardent caring but insane efforts. They have a public dispute going on as to what is best to save the next generation as each argues in the media and whenever they meet. However, one night their war changes to passionate kisses. Each realizes the attraction they have for the other, but is that enough when fundamentally they disagree on how to deal with gangs? This contemporary romance is built off a real social issue involving how to best deal with the influence of gangs. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of seemingly opposites though when love intercedes they begin to realize how much in common they truly have, which is the typical case in societal problems. Clay and Bailey are superb characters, who want to help people, but disagree on method making their love for one another so much more fun to follow.

The Angel and the Warrior
Karen Kay
ISBN: 0425205290 $7.99

In 1817 on the NW Plains, elderly medicine man White Claw explains to the four preadolescents the curse of their tribe. Many moons ago, after killing 200 buffalo they killed a bird. That senseless murder angered Thunderer who took away the souls of four women. The irate tribe retaliated by killing four of Thunderer's children. In a rage he starts to eradicate the tribe of 2000, but the Creator intercedes by placing the tribe under a curse. Two days a year they will live on the mortal plane; the rest of the year in an ephemeral existence. The only hope to escape the curse resides in the Chosen One who must perform a heroic s acrificial deed by the time he is thirty. In 1835, Burnt Chest knows he is running out of time to save his tribe but instead rescues Angelia Honeywell and her brother who lead a wagon train through the wilderness though they know nothing about the job, endangering their passengers to escape the law. As he helps them and he falls in love with Angelia, Burnt Chest knows he must not lose sight of his quest, but she is so pretty and warm as she reciprocates his deepest feelings. THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR is a terrific Indian romantic fantasy that readers will enjoy from the moment when White Claw explains the dilemma to the four preadolescents. Burnt Chest is fabulous as he knows time is running out on his mission, but prefers spending what's left of his clock with Angelia. Though the emphasis is more on the romance, this fast-paced story line is driven by the desperation of Burnt Chest, who understands what is at stake.

Charmed & Dangerous
Candace Havens
ISBN: 0425206912 $14.00

Sweet, Texas High Witch Bronwyn has the Prime Minister of England as a client. Recently she saved his life in Oslo and that of Sheik Azir from a warlock and other assassins. The Sheik has provided Bronwyn with a jet as a thank you gift, which she does not want because it is too extravagant. Back in Sweet, Bronwyn meets non-practicing warlock Dr. Sam McKinney. They are attracted to one another, but Bron has a policy not to date warlocks as men and magic do not mix well. Of course enforcing her dictate means practically no males in her life. As Bron tries to keep Azir safe from his odious cousin, the Sheik and the doctor fall in love with her; she likes both though one contains warlock genes and the other is halfway around the world. Still does she love either of them and if the answer is yes which one? This is a humorous chick lit romantic fantasy starring a delightful protagonist in which Bewitched meets James (make that Jane) Bond or at least Cody Banks. The story line is fun to follow even the dreaded bane of the sub-genre lists seem apropos as they come across as box scores of Bron's magical usage. Fans will appreciate this fine charmer while wondering who the dangerous Bron will select as her man.

Treacherous Love
Lynda Hales
ISBN: 1413761658 $24.95

Skyler Kingston practices veterinary medicine at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. She also suffers from a family curse that Norda the Norwegian witch in 1027 bestowed on her kin; she like those before her transforms from a human into a wolf when the full moon rises. Skyler fears the other segment of the curse; in four months when she turns thirty she joins her beloved brother Damien and the Others as she will become Sky the white wolf with no reverting back to her human form. This month Skyler is late from her work and is caught outside during the conversion. A hunter wounds her thinking she is one of wolves killing local livestock. When a car hits Bubba the Pomeranian of six year old Cassandra, Skyler insures the tiny furrball is okay while the owner's father Dr. Nathaniel Brady disrespects her. She soon learns that his reaction is out of fear for his daughter dying from a blood ailment. As Skyler and Nathan become acquainted he figures out her secret, but instead of being appalled with her as she expects he dreads the end of their loving relationship unless they find the cure. This is a terrific werewolf romance starring two wonderful protagonists who struggle with the shapeshifting curse, his daughter's illness and cures for both as well as the impact of any solutions on their loved ones. The story line is character driven by obviously the lead couple, but enhanced by support cast like Cassandra and Damien. Turing the werewolf legend upside down, sub-genre fans will hail TREACHEROUS LOVE as a splendid entry whose love between the prime players is symbolized by of all things a dishwasher.

Across the Wall
Garth Nix
ISBN: 0060747137 $16.99

Middle school children and other fans of Garth Nix's Abhorsen stories will appreciate the superb clever novella, "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case". The story line centers on the young hero struggling far from the Wall against a creature, whom somehow he must bring back to the Old Kingdom, but his opponent, seems to gain its power from Nicholas. The other twelve contributions are wonderful short stories that have been printed in other publications over the past decade but apparently mostly overseas. The tales run the gamut of the genre. This reviewer especially enjoyed the Arthurian-Merlin tales and the haunting "Hansel's Eyes" that reminded me of some crazy fairy tale plays my spouse put on with elementary school children. Though the short stories are well written and fun to read, Mr. Nix's legion will remain focused on Nicholas' latest adventures while asking why he was not the star of all the tales of ACROSS THE WALL, which obviously refers to him.

Shaman's Crossing
Robin Hobb
ISBN: 0060757620 $25.95, 624 pp.

The military of the Kingdom of Gernia conquers the nomads and other tribes of the uncivilized plains. The king rewards his officers by adding new lines of nobility that not only raises morale among the troops but provides a personally loyal cell within the ruling class. The cavalry next conquers the strange forest dwelling Specks of the Barrier Mountains. The Specks are considered blood-drinking tree worshipers who carry a plague that can kill Gernians. The second son of a new lord's second son Nevare Burvelle becomes as expected a student learning steed combat at the King's Cavalry Academy. Upon graduation he will marry his chosen bride and relocate to the Speck zone. However, at school Cadet Nevare runs into prejudice and hostility from faculty and students detesting the new nobles. Even more mysterious, Nevare meets the Plainspeople and is attracted to their magic especially as he comprehends their freedom of choices, which he lacks, but also was ignorant about it. He questions his lifestyle, but as he becomes deathly ill he also finds his name tattered by the son of a distinguish ed officer. Through Nevare's eyes and those who come into contact with him, readers gain a savory taste of conflicting cultures, historical background (mostly recent) and strident religions. The story line, like most first fantasies, sets the world scene so that the audience gains a full understanding of what the hero undergoes as a cadet. Readers are hooked from almost the start as they follow Nevare's planned life not going according to the plan. Fans of Robin Hobb's Farseer tales will want to read this fabulous opening novel that sets the stage for what looks kike a terrific series a terrific saga. However, it can also stands alone more like a historical fiction.

Black Monday
William Manchee
Lean Press
Portland, OR 97216-3219 503-708-4415
ISBN: 1932475087 $13.00, 260 pp.

Attorney Stan Turner hates Mondays because his clients have a weekend to think. However, this Monday, October 19, 1987, is worst than usual as the markets have nose dived from the opening bell and his clients are panicking like everyone else's customers accelerating the drop. Stan faces a more horrendous BLACK MONDAY than most lawyers. Someone murdered client Lottie West, who named Stan as her executor and the SPCA as her beneficiary of an estate that includes the renowned Ludinburg Collection of art treasures allegedly stolen by a GI during World War II. As the stock market collapses and the Federal Reserve fails to react, Stan is caught up with hostile fire between the CIA and the FBI on an overseas matter he works involving the other espionage group the IRS. Finally his partner Paula Waters informs him she plans to defend Jimmy Bennett accused of killing his father-in-law, the CEO of Metroplex Savings and Loan. As Stan reflects on a law banning Mondays, he investigates Lottie's murder with Dallas Police Detective Besch, struggles with Federal entanglements that tie Central America to Iran, assists Paula, and waits for Tuesday while someone wants him dead, but for which case he does not know. Stan's the man as he does his best whether his clients are dead, government or that of his partner. The tongue in cheek story line feels like a historical Noir as Stan cynically pontificates on various 1980s events; for instance he blames the market collapse on President Reagan's tax cuts promised as part of his 1984 reelection debate. Legal thriller fans will appreciate 1987 as seen through the eyes of Stan unless President Regan is part of your pantheon of the Gods.

Virginia Henley
ISBN: 045121627X $7.99, 416 pp.

In 1657 Captain Robert "Graysteel" Montgomery fights to put Charles on the throne, but General Monck and his troops trap Graysteel and his soldiers; the captain surrenders to keep his men alive. Monck offers to send Graysteel's men home in exchange for Graysteel providing him insight as to how the people feel about Cromwell. Able to remain loyal to Charles, Graysteel agrees. Meanwhile his betrothed, Elizabeth "Velvet" Cavendish, is on the continent with her parents when her mother dies. Her dad remarries a woman her age so Velvet returns to England to live with the Dowager Countess Christian of Devonshire. Graysteel learns the people detest the iron rule and that Cromwell is dying. Graysteel and Velvet meet for the first time in thirteen years only to argue. Graysteel courts Velvet and they make love. Velvet finds a Roundhead uniform in his closet so she accuses him of being a traitor. He is angry that she does not trust him. Charles tells her the truth, she apologizes and they marry. Velvet loves Graysteel but has trouble trusting any man. Graysteel loves Velvet but believes if she loved him she would trust him. It will take a miracle for these lovebirds to trust one another. The key to this fine Restoration tale is the insightful look at the era and personage that is cleverly woven inside a fine romance starring two courageous supporters of Charles who love each other but also distrust one another. That trust issue is overly done as much of their conflict appears unnecessary if either took the time to talk with the other. Still no one is better than Virginia Henley at incorporating the period's details to enhance a fabulous seventeenth century romance.

Dying in Style
Elaine Viets
ISBN: 0451216792 $6.99, 488 pp

In St. Louis thirty-one years old Josie Marcus enjoys her undercover work as a mystery shopper for Sutton Services mostly because it enables the single mother to spend plenty of flexible time with her nine years old daughter Amelia, but also she enjoys the thrill. She admits that the job pays lousy, is hard on the feet and her car and her mom thinks she is as bad as the CIA dirty tricks squad. Her current assignment is for the client Creshan Corporation, which is considering whether to spend fifty million dollars to purchase the three exclusive Danessa boutiques from founder Danessa Celedine. Josie is shocked to find the three stores poorly managed and not customer focused even with few people shopping. Her report tears into Danessa and threatens the business deal. Before Danessa can react, someone kills her with the police wondering whether the mystery shopper, fearing a costly law suit, killed her. Josie in turn ponders whether the amazon store manager of one of the Danessa shops did the deed because she assumes someone had to be strong to commit this style murder. DYING IN STYLE is a fun cozy starring a delightful protagonist who enjoys debunking crummy sales people and managers. The first half of the story line introduces the audience to Josie, a terrific undercover agent. When Danessa is murdered, Josie becomes an amateur sleuth because she fears she will be the fall gal. Throw in fourteen simple shopping tips and one has a fine unique espionage murder in the mall thriller.

Dark Lover
J.R. Ward
ISBN: 0451216954 $6.99, 416 pp.

In Caldwell, New York, the vampires and their adversaries the Lessening Society Slayers are at war. To enable the bloodsuckers to oppose their deadly opponents, six vampires formed the Black Dagger Brotherhood led by Wrath, who loathes Slayers for murdering his parents though hundreds of years have passed and detests humans almost as much. Wrath learns that one of his top warriors Darius has been killed by the enemy combatants. Though he wants instant vengeance he is more concerned over Darius' daughter Beth, unaware that she is a hybrid born of a human mother and vampire father. To keep her safe, Wrath must bring her into his world, that of the undead; however he fails to realize until later that she has guided him into her world of love when the legendary Omega apparently has need for her. Though obviously an action-packed vampire romance, DARK LOVER is character driven. Readers will feel vampires and slayers exist especially the former though they are nothing like those found in the Stoker universe. Wrath is terrific as a leader and a lover while Beth proves to be his equal or as he feels his superior. J.R. Ward paints an interesting realm that fans will want to bite into in one delightful reading.

Almost Perfect
Julie Ortolon
ISBN: 0451216407 $6.99, 304 pp.

Artist Maddy Mills, scientist Christine Ashton, and Amy Baker are elated for former college roommate Jane Redding, a TV anchor tuned motivational speaker, who has written a self-help book "How to have the Perfect Life". However, they become angry when they realize Jane used the trio as classic examples of how fear can destroy your life. Angry and feeling ridiculed, the threesome detest that Jane is right. Motivated, they vow to prove little Ms. Perfect wrong by regaining the passion they lost when they allowed phobias to paralyze them. Artist Maddy is to get any Santa Fe gallery to display her work. To achieve the objective Maddy obtains work as the Arts & Crafts Coordinator at Mama Fraser's Camp Enchantment. Fraser's son Joe also works there as director. Years ago Maddy rejected Joe's proposal of marriage as she chose art school over being a military spouse. Ultimately she lost both as her fervor for the arts vanished with Joe leaving her life. Though frightened, she is more scared that Joe is there and she still feels her heart beat like crazy for him though he seems to reject her as yesterday's news. The first of the "perfect" tales is a fun story with a strong male lead whose heart was once crushed by the more tenuous female counterpart; choosing ice cream flavors is difficult for Maddy. However, readers will wonder not just whether Maddy meets the challenge that her two buddies dared her with, but also how will she overcome Joe's animosity towards her. Fans will appreciate this lighthearted second chance at love between two high school sweethearts reunited for the first time in a decade.

The Chocolate Mouse Trap
JoAnna Carl
ISBN: 0451216350 $6.99, 240 pp.

In Warner Pier, Michigan, Lee McKinney manages her Aunt Nettie's chocolate shop, Tenhuis Chocolate. Currently the emails from wannabe party planner Julie Singletree is driving Lee crazy with her Victorian sweetness in every message; approximately six arrive every day to Lee and five other people that Julie has anointed as the seventh major food group, "fancy foods". Lee eats the sugary electronic memos because she cannot afford to alienate the granddaughter of wealthy customer Rachel Shraeder of Shraeder Labs. On local TV news is the report someone murdered Julie. Lee feels bad and a bit guilty that she recently badmouthed the woman, but goes on with her life. That changes when assaults on the fancy food group occurs. Julie wonders if one of the other five is a killer or could an outsider have a grudge against them. Julie plans to find out before she or her aunt become victims. The latest chocolate animal amateur sleuth novel is a fine tale as Lee changes from detesting the victim to guilt and sorrow over her death to fear and courage for the safety of her aunt and her. The heroine's transformation happens quite smoothly as she hated the sugary emails, but never wished Julie dead nor willing to allow herself or her aunt to join the deceased by idly waiting for the cops to solve the caper. Once Lee knows that she has a different deadly rodent than the chocolate mice she made for a Shraeder Labs gala, she begins her investigation into who wants to murder the fancy food group.

Home at Last
Jerri Corgiat
ISBN: 0451216210 $6.99, 384 pp.

Eight years ago, Marigold "Mari" O'Malley fled Cordelia, Missouri for Kansas City vowing to never return. However three strikes propel her to go home. First her career tanked; next her love life collapsed; finally and most critical her beloved mom suffered a heart attack and resides in the cardiac care unit of St. Luke's Hospital. Her mom's health accentuated by pressure from her siblings Lil and Alceca is the reason Mari rationalizes as to why she is in Cordelia. Former troublemaker Andy Epplewaite has struggled but turned his life around. Now he works with troubled teens trying to help them straighten out their lives. He wants Mari, but she is reluctant as her last relationship was a disaster. As he gets her involved in his work, they fall in love, but she has a secret that she knows she must tell him though she expects once she reveals the truth he will send her away to Kansas City. The third "Home" tale (see FOLLOW ME HOME and SING ME HOME) is a terrific O'Malley contemporary romance that stands alone because Jerri Corgiat cleverly intertwines the key elements from the previous novels into the fine story line. Andy is fabulous as a reformed bad boy while Mari is his ideal counterpart struggling between love and shame. Although a major but almost feeling like an implausible twist of fate propels the plot to its conclusion, fans will appreciate the final story in the O'Malley sisters' you can find love at home trilogy.

First Dance
Karen Kendall
ISBN: 0451216105 $6.99, 320 pp.

When New Jersey nouveau riche Julia Spinelli and Texas Brahmin Roman Sonntag met and fell in love, neither expected their respective families and friends to revolt. That is what seems to have happened as everyone discounts the feelings of the duo and insists they know what is best for either Julie or Roman. Now the third bridesmaid New York divorce attorney Vivien Shelton does not trust the Italian speaking Texan that she never met. Their whirlwind courtship has their families in an uproar. She draws up the perfect present for her best friend Julia, a prenup with no loopholes though she has to do that in between migraine causing clients. She leaves her five greyhounds behind to go to Texas to rescue her best friend. Roman's pal attorney J.B. Anglin is reminded by Roman's nuptial of the New York lawyer who bested him in a divorce case, Vivien Shelton. When they meet again to discuss prenups, he is cold towards her while she is cynical about relationships and marriage. As they fight, they fall in love, but she is Manhattan and he is Texas but more important neither seems to trust one another though they are good in bed together. The third entry of this series (and the final one starring the bridesmaids) is a terrific tale as the two combatants battle every moment until both realizes that love has snuck into their relationship. The story line is amusing as the lead couple argue over everything as he is cattle and she is greyhound. This dueling duo makes for a fine entry that sets up the final march down the aisle of Julia and Roman in FIRST LOVE.

First Love
Julie Kenner
ISBN: 0451216296 $6.99

The plan seemed doable just three weeks ago when New jersey nouveau riche Julia Spinelli and Texas Brahmin Roman Sonntag met, fell in love, and agreed to marry in the month. Neither of the lovers anticipated the bridesmaids. Her sister (see FIRST DATE), his sister (see FIRST KISS) and her best friend (FIRST DANCE) have caused absolute havoc with the wedding plans and male participants in the upcoming nuptials. Still they cling to the hope that they can throw the greatest wedding ever seen in the state of Texas. With nothing going right and the parents have not even met, Julia wonders what else could go wrong. She quickly learns why her sibling considers Murphy an optimist because her parents have left South River, New Jersey for Fredericksburg a few days early. Her crass dad Marv, owner of Marvs Motor Inn chain, believes her beloved is after her money. He alienates everyone with his tackiness making the wedding of the century look like it will be called off. Even the groom is having second thoughts heeding a maelstrom of Texans warning him not to marry a Jersey daughter of the tactless. FIRST LOVE is a wild ending to the amusing wacky The Bridesmaid Chronicles. The story line continues the tale of the tapes between New jersey and Texas, but this time raised to new levels of craziness as Marv invades the Lone Star State, which will never recover. Though capable of being enjoyed by itself, fans of contemporary wedding romances will want to devour the entire series in order to fully savor the war between the states (see FIRST DATE by Karen Kendall; FIRST KISS by Kylie Adams; and FIRST DANCE by Karen Kendall).

Confessions of a Nervous Shiksa
Tracy McArdle
Downtown Press
ISBN: 1416503218 $13.00

In Hollywood, publicity vice president Alexis "Lexy" Manning works 24/7 promoting her studio's movies and its stars. Lexy could not have a more suited job for herself as she loves the movies adulating footnotes from her favorite pictures in discussions with her friends. Lexy is almost engaged to Jewish bartender David Rothstein who uses the name of Deke Rothrock as a wannabe actor. She takes him home to spend a Yankee Christmas with her family in Vermont that shakes him to his circumcised core because he feels so out of place. Afterward, David makes religious demands on Lexy to convert to Judaism so they can raise their children Jewish. She refuses and they break up. It helps that she is attracted to a director she just met, but it hurts as it gives her time to worry about her ailing cat and sick sister. Lexy sees no happy ending as the reels of her life play out. Though readers might question Lexy's choices and there is the inevitable lists (though some like the schedules fit her job), she seems like a genuine person living a stressed out lifestyle turned even more nerve-racking by David's demands after three years together. Simply put Lexy makes this chick lit tale worth reading as she spends money on herself, uses help when she needs to, and euphorically drops cinema references that this movie buff (don't ask how I squeeze time in for a flick) and her even greater movie buffed spouse enjoyed. Junk food junkie Lexy struggles at work and at home while seeking the next popular hit, which readers will hope is CONFESSIONS OF A NERVOUS SHIKSA.

Endangered Magic
Gloria Harchar
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526182 $5.99

Pixie Allegro Soprano reluctantly agrees to help her friend Largo rescue his missing fianc?e. That would seem noble except that to do so the two fairies must join forces with the evil Shade Lord. The malevolent being simply demands that the bungling twosome help him destroy Europe, a small price to pay to rescue one's fianc?e. They do have an alternative: finding the Shade Lord's enemy Sheridan who could save the human realm and two misguided fairies. Meanwhile Earl Nolan Monroe believes he killed his spouse during one of his mysterious blackouts. Filled with shame and self scorn, he wants to die so he asks for the most malevolent being to kill him because he cowardly cannot do the deed. However, spy Tessa Ballard saves his wretched life though she detests him because she believes like him he cravenly murdered her friend his wife. As she struggles to uncover who plots to kill the Prime Minster, Tessa feels abashed that she desires Nolan, who feels guilty to want her so soon after killing his spouse. Soon the realms of fairie and human will collide with Nolan the key ingredient to stop the Shade Lord. In her third "by magic" tale, Gloria Harchar provides her audience with a whimsical Regency fantasy romantic suspense with the world at stake. As usual whenever Allegro and Largo team up, nothing goes right as they are the epitome of chaos theory. Readers will find them amusing, but also believe that England is in peril from a supernatural malevolence. The human romance between Nolan and Tessa enchantingly intertwines in a fine thriller that will leave readers wanting more from Ms. Harchar.

Predators & Prayers
Phillip Carlo
ISBN: 0843955767 $6.99

New York Police Department Captain Tony Flynn investigates a serial killer targeting priests, but also uncovers criminal activities by the victims. As he follows up that link, the Catholic Diocese pressures the cops to back off that side of their inquiries even if that is the key connection besides religion between the deceased. The Church wants the killer stopped, but not with a spotlight on them; if he or she remains free to murder a few more priests until caught so be it. The NYPD brass and the mayor's office heed the Church's desire to back off from anything that makes the priesthood look bad. They press Tony to stop following clues that paint the Church in a nasty light. The Church also uses the media claiming the cops are anti-religious activists hating Catholics. Already with a cloud over him from his past, Tony refuses to back off as he wonders about the Church's attitude until he finds a taint impacting children that have conspiracy, cover up and crime reaching into the top levels of the Catholic hierarchy. This is an exhilarating police procedural suspense thriller that grips the reader from the moment the Church begins to complain to the media and the politicians that the cops are Catholic bashers who are not interested in capturing a deranged killer. Fans will wonder why they take that position as the conspiracy starts to surface at the same time that the audience will feel the tension of a serial killer psychological thriller. All this comes together though some readers will think perhaps Phillip Carlo went too far with the conspiracy, but all readers will finish this in one tense sitting to learn the several whys behind the realistic cast.

The Moon and the Stars
Constance O'Banyon
ISBN: 0843955422 $6.99, 353 pp.

On her wedding day in Charleston, Caroline Duncan became a widow when she believes her stepbrother-in-law Brace arranged her husband Michael's murder. Knowing that Brace will take her, Caroline flees, hiding until she surfaces in 1871 using the surname Richmond in San Sebastian, Texas until bounty hunter Wade Renault arrives to escort her home to face a murder rap. As he takes her back with him, Caroline swears she is innocent; at first Wade's cynicism from his years of hunting criminals leaves him disbelieving her, but soon he begins to see holes in his client Brace's story. Still he has doubts as he wonders if he just wants Caroline to be innocent because he is falling in love with her. Instead of taking her to Brace, Wade hides Caroline in his Louisiana home thinking that if he married her she would be safe. However, Brace finds them and abducts Wade's adopted son Jonathan, leaving it up to courageous Caroline to confront her murdering nemesis. This is a terrific nineteenth century American romantic suspense thriller starring two caring likable individuals. Readers will admire Caroline who tosses her lifestyle away to elude her murdering brother-in-law. Wade is a perfect counterpart starting off with not only distrusting his prisoner but assuming she probably killed her husband. He soon regrets his pre-opinion as he sees how kind and caring she is. Though Brace is too evil to matter except as a threat, historical romance readers will enjoy Constant O'Banyon's exciting tale.

Lethal Dose
Jeff Buick
ISBN: 0843955783 $6.99

Near Canyon Creek, Montana, self made-millionaire Gordon Buchanan, his brother Billy and others struggle to contain a fire that threatens to destroy his brand new sawmill. When Billy accidentally slices his leg to the bone with a saw, first aid fails to stop the bleeding. Gordon is stunned to watch his sibling die in spite of doing everything right. Billy's blood simply failed to coagulate like it should have. Gordon cleans out Billy's house only to find strange green pills Triaxcion prescribed by highly regarded Dr. Hastings of Butte. He learns from the doctor that the drug is making a fortune for its manufacturer Veritas Pharmaceutical of Richmond, Virginia; it used to prevent baldness. Gordon has a nagging feeling that the drug killed his sibling by preventing his blood from coagulating. The legal system offers no relief since the drug company is "protected" by the FDA. The company CEO Bruce Andrews refuses to listen to Gordon claiming he grieves by seeking culpability elsewhere. As Gordon continues to dig he gains an ally Jennifer Pearce of Veritas and begins to find evidence of deadly foul play. LETHAL DOSE is a tense thriller that will shake up the audience with the recent withdrawals of drugs due to adverse deadly side effects. The story line is at its best when Gordon, who has more going for him than most people would believe, takes on the Fortune 500 giant. When the tale spins into a murder thriller, it remains an exciting action packed tale, but loses some of its condemnation steam of pointing fingers at the American pharmaceutical-government incest. Still Jeff Buick writes a thought provoking suspense filled novel.

Ship of Dreams
Elaine LeClaire
ISBN: 0843955759 $5.99

In 1725 Rosalind Hanshaw refuses to marry Murdock, the odious business partner of her father. However, she also knows if she remains in London, she will be forced to wed against her will. Her only hope is to journey to Jamaica where her brother can protect her. On the high seas, Alexandre de Marchant, the notorious French pirate Black Angel, stops Rosalind's vessel and takes her captive. When Alexandre realizes that he has his adversary's fianc?e as his prisoner, he decides she is the perfect pawn for avenging what Murdock did to him and his family. He will deflower her before shipping her home for a large ransom. However, he soon changes his mind as he finds he is her prisoner as she has captured his heart. Though the relational theme of this strong pirate romance is similar to several recent tales (for instance, see Jennifer Ashley's THE PIRATE HUNTER), fans of the sub-genre will appreciate this fine early eighteenth century romance. The story line is action-packed filled with daring sea battles and plenty of romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as the audience observes the metamorphosis of the hero from pirate capturer to loving prisoner. Readers will want to sail the seven seas with Captain Elaine LeClaire.

Too Rich to Live
Lawrence Light
ISBN: 0843955465 $6.99, 338 pp.

In New York though in her thirties reporter Karen Glick is reengineering her life. First she has divorced her PowerPoint efficient investment banker Tim Bratton. Second she wants out of the fluff executive profiles she writes for Profit magazine as her heart is in investigating. She is looking into the buyout of Redmon, Dangler, Strongville & Morgan by the Billionaire Boys Club who she has evidence that proves they are a quartet of tax cheaters. Highly regarded investigative journalist Frank Vere tells her if they can verify the proof with supporting documentation they will bring down a powerful group that includes one member currently running for the US Senate. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art fundraiser, senatorial candidate Caddy Redmon gives a shocking speech before collapsing and dies. The group Vampyr has accused Redmon of fraud and cheating, but Karen doubts this organization would seek blood to cleanse the problem. Karen begins to investigate, but soon realizes that someone with a personal vendetta has targeted the Billionaire Boys Club as another member is murdered, but finding the guilty party will prove difficult as this group has hurt many people over their two decades of cheating. Ironically while Karen seeks to uncover the identity of a killer, readers know who he is from page one and somewhat his motive although that is not fully understandable until the final climax. The story line is exciting as the audience follows Karen investigating the homicide while also seeking the collaborating evidence that proves the Billionaire Boys Club are tax cheaters. Though the reasoning behind the killings seems stretched, fans will appreciate this intense thriller starring a delightful protagonist who hopefully covers future financial scandalous stories.

Halfbreed Warrior
Bobbi Smith
ISBN: 0843953969 $6.99

In 1870 Texas Hawk Morgan sees the lad on what appears to be a runaway steed so he gives chase. When the "boy" sees the Comanche coming after her, Randi Stockton tries to flee, but he catches up to her. She is stunned that he speaks eloquent English and he is shocked that he is a she. Even more astonishing to both is the attraction each feels almost immediately for the other. Neither wants a relationship at this particular time, but neither can they ignore the feelings though their heated discussions would imply otherwise. However, Hawk must first catch the rustlers he tracks before he can heed his heart's message. Soon his dilemmas merge when the rustlers try to kill Hawk and Randi's dad and kidnap her. Hawk risks his life to save the woman who gives meaning to his life. HALFBREED WARRIOR is an exciting western romance starring two amiable protagonists who readers will want to see make it. The vivid descriptions of Reconstruction Era Texas is brought to life through the cast especially Hawk. Fans will admire his sense of honor and duty, but also want him to catch the outlaws so he and the strong willed courageous Randi can come together. Bobbi Smith provides a fine Americana tale that her fans will treasure.

Chris Cleave
ISBN: 0307262820 $22.95, 237 pp.

The suicide attack killed a thousand attending the football game at Arsenal Stadium, but to the wife and mother of two victims, it is personal. Her grief has aged her and the video Osama made lauding those who killed the innocent upsets her further. The nameless widow decides to write a letter to Osama as her mourning gives her little comfort. Still her loss goes through the stages until she becomes angry that the government anticipated the attack, but did nothing to stop it. As her anger grows, she becomes a civilian working at Scotland Yard's antiterrorist unit where she learns a new strike is imminent, but it appears once again officialdom will do nothing. As she continues hermessage to Osama she believes now he is right that some people deserve to die as they are selfish but not everyone for instance why her innocent son. She now trusts no one especially not her government, the media, or her neighbor; Christmas Eve has arrived with no hope or cheer for anyone. Yes Osama you are right. This is a deep thought provoking and haunting tale that will leave the audience stunned by the impact on the living by a terrorist act. The nameless protagonist comes across as an every-person whether they are a civilian victim in Iraq, the WTC, Madrid, or London. This talented author cleaves one through the soul of the audience that even when there are sprinkles of humor they turn the plot even more provocative. Not for the faint of heart, INCENDIARY is a powerful indictment of humanity.

The Mercy of Thin Air
Ronlyn Domingue
ISBN: 0743278801 $24.00, 320 pp.

In late 1920s New Orleans, while at college Raziela "Razi" Nolan and Andrew O'Connell share a heated romance. In 1929 she slips at a poolside and dies. However, Razi who wanted to live forever finds herself at THE MERCY OF THIN AIR, a gray world in between the mortal plane and the afterlife. She can see back to her former home and over time learns she can slightly interfere with humans, but emotionally she was never able to watch what happened to her beloved Andrew after she died though she would constantly peek at others from their circle. That is until seven decades on earth have passed. She decides to learn about Andrew, but is interested in Amy Richmond and Scott Duncan. This pair seems so in love yet so troubled. Their relationship appears to be in jeopardy at least from what Razi can perceive. However, even as she feels an obsession to intercede and insure this pair makes it together, Razi tries to figure out why them. Razi is a tremendous protagonist looking back to life in the 1920s in New Orleans especially with her beloved Andrew, which enables readers to gain an interesting feel for the place and time. Her reflections on her life and on her post time existence in the thin air are well written and her amateur sleuth investigation from the other side is cleverly devised adding an aura of suspense. However, the tale belongs to the moral lesson of never take for granted loved ones or what the senses provide when one is alive.

Mercy Falls
William Kent Krueger
ISBN: 0743445880 $24.00, 352 pp.

Tamarack County Minnesota, Sheriff Cork O'Connor and deputy Marsha Dross respond to a domestic disturbance between Lucy and Eli Tibodeau on the Iron Lake Reservation, home of the Ojibwe. However, someone begins firing at the law enforcement officials with Dross hit in the stomach in spite of body armor and O'Connor barely escaping. Cork begins pondering why they were ambushed and soon believes that he was the target, but in the dark the culprit mistook the tall big Marsha to be him. Before he can consider who wanted him dead, Cork has a murder investigation to deal with as someone killed despicable Eddie Jacoby whose wealthy family arrive from Chicago demanding instant results. Eddie's father brings with him his own sleuth, former FBI agent Dina Winter to find the culprit. This strong police procedural is enhanced by the hero's doubts when a former law school lover of his wife is part of the Jacoby entourage. However, though that humanizes the sheriff, he remains so stiltedly correct he seems at times unreal especially when compared with the outside muscle. Still the exciting story line is filled with action as Cork works the murder case and the ambush while struggling with jealousy and with the inability to keep the Jacoby crew from destroying his investigations.

Bluetick Revenge
Mark Cohen
ISBN: 0892968001 $24.95, 310 pp.

Attorney "Big" Matt Simms of the Denver law firm of Keane, Simms & Mercante hires private investigator Pepper Keane to perform two jobs for his client, Karlynn Slade. First he must "dognap" her canine from her husband and second he must keep her safe from him. Pepper knows neither duty will be easy because her husband is Thaddeus Bugg, head of the most violent drug dealing biker gang in Colorado, Sons of Satan. Matt explains that Karlynn left Thaddeus taking 300K with her only to have the FBI threaten her with arrest if she failed to cooperate on bringing down her ex and his cohorts. She agreed to life in the witness protection program instead of prison as long as Prince her bluetick coonhound joins her. Learning that there is a bounty on whoever stole Bugg's mutt, the simple job turns more complex than the DNA double helix when Karlynn vanishes. Expecting the SOS crowd to come after him, Pepper is shocked when instead Thaddeus hires him to find her. However, the case spins further out of control when the trail leads to a cold case murder. Pepper would like to expedite himself in one piece and alive from this mess, but knows he has some difficult decisions to make to do so. BLUETICK REVENGE is an exciting private investigative tale that is filled with much more action and less cerebral concepts than the incredibly superb predecessor THE FRACTAL MURDERS although some key characters reappear in this tale. Still this is a strong entry as the hero has extremely thorny choices to make in which morality is gray. Though not the mathematical delight of the previous keen tale in spite of math Professor Jane Smyers on hand, readers will take immense pleasure with this powerful thriller in which nothing is sound byte black and white.

Cape Perdido
Marcia Muller
ISBN: 089296006X $24.95, 305 pp.

The North Carolina incorporated Aqueduct Systems, Inc wants to pump the pristine water of the Perdido River from California's serene Soledad County to the southern thirsty cities to the south. Friends of the Perdido River headed by Maine transplant Bernino Tobin and other pro environmentalists including internationally renowned activist but local resident Joseph Openshaw oppose the water grab that they feel will destroy the natural beauty of the area and harm the mostly navigational river. Environmental Consultants Clearinghouse has sent two specialists, water rights attorney Fitch Coller and ecologist Jessie Domingo, to assist the locals and testify in Sacramento as expert witnesses against the corporation. However, the environmental vs. development dispute turns dangerous when someone shoots the enormous bags used to tote the water. Additionally, instead of just obtaining supporting data on the water debate, Jessie finds herself in the middle of a cold case unsolved murder that have left angry memories that appear ready to explode with the return of Joseph. The water rights issue has been around a long time with the demand of Southern California for the precious liquid vs. the environmental concerns of Northern California where the supply is. However, balance is lost in CAPE PERDILLO as the representatives of Aqueduct Systems, Inc are all avaricious suits wanting to make a quick buck at any cost to others while the environmental opponents, especially the outsiders, have pure motives. The murder mystery is fun to follow, but is two edged as it also takes away from the prime adversarial dispute. Though no McCone, Jessie is a terrific protagonist who should return with that jerk Fitch on future debates. Overall this is a fine tale but not quite as good as Marcia Muller normally provides.

Troy Lord of the Silver Bow
David Gemmell
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345458354 $24.95

Dardania Prince Helikaon sails the stormy Great Green Sea on a gigantic ship that most feel will quickly sink due to its massive size. He and companion Zidantas have angered King Agamemnon of Mykene when they killed the pirates terrorizing the Great Green Sea; Agamemnon stealthy abetted the pirates. At about the same time, Priam of Troy has killed his sons except for Hektor the warrior who allied with the Hittites against the Egyptians. Priam orders Priestess Andromache to wed Hektor. Instead she sails for Blue Owl Bay where she meets Helikaon. He falls in love with her while several people try to kill him; one enemy Kolanos tortures and murders Zidantas. Outraged and out of control, Helikaon begins destroying Mykene ships with the crew on board. As Kolanos flees, Helikaon follows devastating anything in his path with Troy the apparent destination of the blood feud that has boiled over. TROY LORD OF THE SILVER BOW is a terrific historical fiction that brings alive the Trojan War era as few tales do. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed, but works because the key cast members seem genuine. Helikaon runs a gamut of emotions from stoic warrior-trader sailor to besotted hero to avenging berserker. Priam also comes across as real as he is the tyrannical Machiavellian poster monarch. Others like Kolanos, Andromache and Zidantas add to the overall feel that this exciting thriller is the real deal.

Looking for Jake
China Mieville
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345476077 $14.95

The award winning horror and fantasy novelist provides a powerful anthology that runs the gamut of speculative fiction. The collection consists of ten works previously published in the last few years in varying publications and five new tales. One story is a graphic short ("On the Way to the Front"), but that was not available for review. Another The Tain is more a short novella while the author breaks the wall as China Mieville is a key character in "Reports of Certain Events in London"; the title now feels eerie even unrelated to the latest horrifying terrorist ahole BS. Though most are set in London, fans who know Iron Council and Perdido Street Station will appreciate that "Jack" is set in that same realm of New C robuzon. Each tale is well written, filled with suspense and grips the audience with a sense that nothing is quite the way it first seems, which turns out to be true. Though China Mieville imbues messages including an anti war theme in his submissions; that never slows or take away from the entertainment of a fine compilation.

Terry Brooks
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345451120 $26.96, 384 pp.

Grianne Ohmsford, the Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Order, was never fully trusted because of the harm she did to others as the llse witch. Certain druids led by Shadea with the aid of the Prime Minister of the Federation trapped her in The Forbidden, a dark, dangerous evil place where the dark beings of Faerie were sent eons ago. Shadea is now the new Ard Rhys and rules through fear and terror making the Druid keep of Paranor a very unpleasant place to live and learn the craft. What Shadea doesn't know is that a demon sorcerer, Tael Riverine, in the Forbidding influenced Shadea because when one is sent to that evil place, a being is allowed into the real world. The shapeshifting demon is influencing events in the real world so that the wall of the Forbidding will come down allowing the evil creatures penned up inside to enter the Druid realm and turn it into another Forbidding. Grianne's nephew knows he must bring his beloved aunt home from the Forbidden, but has no idea how to find the demon. STRAKEN, the last book in the latest Shannara trilogy is a fantastic, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable sword & sorcery book. One of Terry Brooks greatest gifts as an author is to create characters that are realistic and believable in settings that enable the audience to suspend reality. Grianne is his greatest creation, a character who demonstrates that redemption is always possible if one wants it enough.

Double Tap
Steve Martini
ISBN: 0399150927 $26.95, 432 pp.

Successful wealthy CEO of Isotenics, Inc. Madelyn Chapman enjoys her bi-coastal lifestyle that includes abodes in Manhattan and Virginia. However, one day when she returns to the house she considers her home in La Jolla, California, someone assassinates her with a double tap, two precise bullets to her head. The police follow clues that lead to career veteran Emiliano Ruiz. He hires attorney Paul Madriani to represent him. Paul faces an uphill battle as not only evidence places the accused near the crime scene; Emiliano had the skill to perform the precision operation. Adding to his dilemma is that Emiliano provides no background information about himself especially a seven year data hole in the middle of his long military career. The prosecutors cooperate as much as his client refuses to impart information on the victim's link to the military. Still Paul continues to dig to insure he bestows the best defense he can for his silent client. DOUBLE TAP is a terrific thriller that has the hero frustrated at ever turn as his client refuses to cooperate and the prosecution is even less forthcoming. Paul keeps digging for information, but for every step forward he takes two steps backward. Still he wants to put up a strong defense even if he wonders if Emiliano committed the homicide. Steve Martini is at his supreme best with this tale that showcases a struggling legal defense unable to obtain any cooperation.

School Days
Robert B. Parker
ISBN: 0399153333 $24.95, 304 pp.

In the upscale affluent Boston suburb of Dowling at the local prep school, two teens that attended the education facility took their nine millimeter handguns and opened fire. Five studies and two teachers were killed a six students and two teachers were injured. They then holed up in the library until a hostage negotiator persuaded Wendell Grant to give up. The other killer disappeared but Dell later told them it was Jared Cark who later confessed to the crimes. Jared's grandmother hires Spenser to prove her grandson is innocent but when he gets to Dowling, he finds Jared is represented by an incompetent lawyer who believes his client is guilty and Jared's parents feel the same way. By the time Spenser questions everyone there is no question in his mind that Jared is guilty. However, Spencer goes one step further and sets out to find why this tragedy happened and what the private investigator learns turns out to be almost as big a tragedy as the teen killing spree. Fast paced, breezy dialogue and the protagonist's trademark dry-wit makes for another delightful reading experience in the long running Spenser series. Robert B. Parker is at the top of his game in this exciting private investigative tale that examines how a Columbine type action could happen and where the blame should be placed. Fans of this series won't be disappointed in SCHOOL DAYS, one of the best and most timely books Mr. Parker has ever written.

Blue Smoke
Nora Roberts
ISBN: 0399153063 $25.95, 448 pp.

In 1985 Baltimore Catarina "Renna" Hale was attacked by her neighbor twelve year old Joey Pastorelli and would have been raped if the neighbors didn't intervene. Reena's father fought with Joey's abusive dad and that night, the Hale's family pizzeria, Sirico's burns to the ground. Police find enough evidence to arrest Joey's father and Joey is taken away from his mother after he burns his dog and leaves it on Reena's doorstop. Reena decides that she will because an arson investigator, studying hard in school to make her dream a reality. When Rena buys a house in her old neighborhood, her next door neighbor is Bo Goodnight who saw Reena at a college party years ago and fell in lust. Over the years he sighted his Dream Girl but they never met but when the pair finally get together, lust turns into something more for Bo and the commitment phobic Reena who is afraid that he might be her one and only true love. They conduct their courtship during an arson investigation in which someone is targeting Reena and the people closest to her. Reena is in a race against time to catch the killer before the body count mounts. Once again Nora Roberts has written a wonderful romantic thriller that is sure to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Her characterization are fantastic, the firefighting scenes are full of action and suspense and the plot moves along at a fast pace. Bo's Dream Girl is better than his fantasy of her and he is determined to woo her no matter how many obstacles she put in his path. Their love scenes are sweet, poignant sometimes downright funny. BLUE SMOKE is an example of why Ms. Roberts is one of the most popular authors writing today.

Iron Orchid
Stuart Woods
ISBN: 039915325X $25.95, 304 pp.

Teddy Fay Worked for the CIA for forty years, eventually becoming a Tech Services coordinator and when he retired, he erased all his files in the Agency's computers. They have no pictures or fingerprints of the man who disappeared with astonishing ease. He started killing Right Wing politician including the Speaker of the House and when he was close to being caught, he blew up the plance he was flying and jumped out into the ocean. While the FBI and CIA think he is dead, Teddy relocates to New York when he starts killing terrorists, the enemies of America as he calls them. A joint FBI-CIA task force is formed and one of the CIA members is Holly Barker, the former Chief of Police in Orchid Beach, Florida. They recruited her and she eagerly grabbed the chance to become an operative. She is the only agent to see Holly and she is in the forefront of the investigation as Teddy tries to avoid the agents while continuing on his mission. The antagonist is the focus and the star of IRON ORCHID as he calmly hacks into CIA and FBI computers with the help of an inside source. Readers will be simultaneously drawn to and repelled by this character who marches to his own drummer. The protagonist takes to her CIA training like a duck to water and is able to carry her share of the work load on her uses first case as an agent. Stuart Woods has written a compelling and entertaining cat and mouse caper.

Point Blank
Catherine Coulter
ISBN: 0399153225 $25.95, 432 pp.

FBI agents Dillon Savich, his wife Lacey Sherlock and their friend Dane Carver are staking out Hooter's Motel in Pumis City, Maryland hoping to rescue the kidnapped Pinky before he is killed. His captors Moses Grace and the teenage psychopath Claudia want Savich and Sherlock dead because he was involved in the killing of someone Moses loved. The criminals set a trap for the agents and when they enter the motel they see a bomb and luckily are able to escape. The Feds next go to Maestro, Virginia to see fellow agent Ruth Warnecki who was on a treasure hunt in Wrinkle's Cave looking for Confederate gold. Suddenly she becomes dizzy and blacks out coming to when she is rescued by Sheriff Dixon Noble. When the four agents and the sheriff return to the cave they find the body of a dead student from nearby Stanislaus College, the Julliard of the south. Shortly after that grizzly discovery, Savich and Sherlock pursue a new lead on Moses and Claudia while two men break into the sheriff's house where Ruth is in an attempt to kill her. If the agents working the two cases solve them without being kil led it will be a miracle. Fans of Tami Hoag, Iris Johansen, and Kay Hooper will want to read Catherine Coulter's latest suspense thriller. The love between Savich and Sherlock is stronger than ever while Ruth and Noble realizes they feel a strong emotional connection to one another. There is enough romance in this crime thriller to satisfy fans of that genre and of course it will appeal to readers who favor works of psychological suspense. Ms. Coulter once again delivers a work brimming with action, chase scenes and terrific characterizations.

King of Glory
Kristen Halter
ISBN: 1411630750 $19.94 308 pp.

Life is hard for unwed mother Gisele Domingo who just got fired from her job at the library. She lives with her son Jonathan in her parents' home and her only solace is her love for Jesus, which she teaches to her son so he will love him as well. During renovations of her parents home, Giselle finds what later is known as "The Jesus Letter" which proves Jesus lived and was resurrected. Her faith is stronger than ever as she becomes an international celebrity. Gregorio Vargas, a singer with the Christian band the Jesus Freaks, is a world renowned celebrity but his fame and fortune don't take away his loneliness. He saw Giselle at a concert where he was performing and he never was able to get her out of his mind. They are thrown together at a speaking engagement where Giselle talks about her find and both realize they are soulmates. After a very rocky courtship, they marry and bring the Jesus Paper to Israel. There she is kidnapped by Muslims who want her to renounce her find because the letter nullifies all existing religions. A miracle delivers her from her kidnappers but Giselle's future is cut short by a freak accident and it is only their faith in God and his son that keep her two men from sinking into despair. Each character in KING OF GLORY is accompanied by an invisible Jesus who walks with them though they don't realize it. He gives them peace and hope and he never gives up on those who turned their back on him. This exciting ecclesiastical thriller wrapped around a Divine love story is a creative and inspiring tale. Kristen Halter gets her message of Jesus' love through actions that speak for themselves.

Contact Zero
David Wolstencroft
ISBN: 052594902X $24.95

In Peru, Ben Sinclair looks forward to his first posting after graduating with nine others from British espionage school. However, his assignment falls apart almost immediately when he is accused by the local police of smuggling. He escapes capture, but is stunned when his call to his handler Mum is met with zero help. The embassy reacts the same way although to both parties he insists he was framed. Ben makes an appeal to his classmates, but only Lucy responds. She informs him that seven of them are dead murdered on the same day around the globe; only they and Nat still live. The trio tries to unite to stay alive as agents try to kill them. There only hope of survival resides in discovering and perhaps destroying their only possible haven mythological Contact Zero, but the probability of achieving this appears impossible but is even made more difficult by the threesome not trusting one another. This action packed thriller starts with an assault in Thailand on one of the seven and never slows down until the final confrontation with zero options left for the runaways. Readers will be hooked trying to learn why seven homicides and three attempted murders occurred to the espionage school graduating class. The survival capers of the beleaguered trio take front stage in a thrill a page tale that keeps the adrenaline of readers anticipating what happens next at the pinnacle of excitement.

Harbor Nights
Marcia Evanick
ISBN: 0821777084 $5.99, 304 pp.

Twenty-four years old petit Norah Stevens and her mom have relocated to Misty Harbor, Maine where she gets a job writing a weekly column for the Hancock Review that provides Views from the Other Side. Her mom's Pomeranian Zsa Zsa has moved under the next door neighbor's bush where Norah tries to get the canine diva. Ned Porter sees her and introduces himself. However, Norah fears his size as he seems even bigger than her father who beat her up last year. As Norah adjusts to living amongst the Redwoods with even the females extended Porter family easily topping six feet, she finds herself attracted to Ned though remains afraid of him. Ned reciprocates, but believes the beautiful runt is wrong for him as he needs females like his outdoor hefty but beautiful sister-in-laws. Still as love connects them, their relationship cannot grow until she overcomes her phobia that giant males equate to abuse. HARBOR NIGHTS is a fine contemporary romance that focuses on how abuse can potentially devastate a person's psyche and ultimately even relationships with a caring soulmate. The story line is character driven as neither Norah nor Ned is comfortable with the size gap, but their reasons greatly differ. He because he assumes a big outdoor guy needs a big woman; she because of her father's recent physical abuse. Though the resolution seems abrupt as love conquers all (this reviewer believes it would need time to heal the wounded), fans will enjoy the return to Misty Harbor (see BERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS and BLUEBERRY HILL).

The Night I Got Lucky
Laura Caldwell
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895313 $12.95, 256 pp.

Billy (dad wanted a brawling boxer hence her first name) Rendell cannot believe that she is in her twenties and questioning how life can be so boring. Married for two years, her husband Chris has seemed to lost interest in her even out of bed. Her mom, who has never untied the umbilical cord since her father abandoned them a quarter of a century ago, has recently tightened the noose if that is possible. Finally at work, her boss Roslyn hates her, she is unable to get the promotion she covets, and Evan, the VP she flirts with sees her as a friend. Her therapist Blinda tells her to look inside to ascertain what she desires and gives her a jade frog that will make it come true. Chris gives the frog her full attention and mom discovers her own life. At work Billy is promoted and Evan starts flirting with her. All is perfect. So why is Billy on the top of the Sears Building tossing the jade frog away? Simple Chris is smothering her with affection, she misses mom the globetrotter, the VP job is all responsibility with no fun, and Evan has become even more tempting. THE NIGHT I GOT LUCKY is a fabulous deep version of chick lit meets the Monkey's Paw. The story line is owned by Billy as she starts lamenting that life is a boring rut, receives the frog, obtains her wishes, but hates the outcome wanting to go back to the starting line. Laura Caldwell provides a whimsical tale that showcases the sub-genre at its magically charming best.

Fiona Gibson
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895321 $12.95

Marcus Skews decides that leaving London to live in the countryside is best for his wife Ro and almost six years old son Tod. He persuades a reluctant Ro by claiming the eccentric Tod needs a different school having been the victim of recent bullying incidents due to his eccentric behavior and the neighbor in the flat above them seems to have a loose screw. Thus they move to Gorby Cottage, a fixer-upper, in Chetsley, population 1200 and just under two hours to London causing Ro to give up her job at Anna's Film Archives, not a bad thing as she hated her boss, but an extra major change. Not long afterward, Marcus goes to work with a severe cold; that night he tells Ro he is too sick to come home. More days like that occur in which he stays in London. Soon she finds she likes Chetsley especially the friendly people kind to her son such as her neighbor Joe, who shows he wants her too. However, Ro stays true to her vows until she learns why Marcus spends increasingly more time in London. WONDERBOY is an interesting family drama that digs deep into the disintegration of a relationship by looking closely at the three prime players. Fans will know what makes Ro tick and feel for Tod, a brilliant but troubled child failing to adjust to formal and informal school behavioral demands. Though they will hiss at Marcus' indiscretions and avoiding his obligations, fans will understand his motives that led to his failures. Fiona Gibson's insightful tale is well written, though Joe is too nice and convenient.

The Funeral Planner
Lynn Isenberg
Red Dress
ISBN: 037389533X $12.95, 384 pp.

Even as a child Maddy Banks equated self worth to be equal to net worth. So she is concerned that she has yet to make her entrepreneurial mark. Maddy has no time for self pity as she travels from Los Angeles to Ann Arbor to attend the funeral of her friend Tara Pintock. This second sudden death, last year her cousin was hit by lightning, with a canned eulogy by a clergy who never knew the deceased has Maddy thinking that ceremonies should be customized to honor the dearly departed and provide solace to the guests. Her Uncle Sam lends her $15K to develop the strategic business plan for Lights Out and soon sells the concept to venture capitalist Victor Winston. Her business booms until the Fed Uncle Sam pulls the plug on her. She misses Victor, who encouraged her every step of the way as he was with her the extra miles beyond that of an investor, more than Lights Out. Maddy reconsiders her mantra as her self worth is much higher than her net worth if she can persuade Victor that he invested in love. THE FUNERAL PLANNER is a primer for starting a business with satirical chapter titles that Maddy's entrepreneurial efforts never seem to quite achieve. Maddy is terrific as even as a preadolescent preferred the financial reports over dolls. Her how to succeed at business with trying makes for a fine chick lit tale; even when she breaks the first commandment of the Bush Administration "Thou shall not worship any other god but Adam Smith" when she entered the dark side of placing her personal life over the bottom line.

Love So Tender
Stephanie Bond, Jo Leigh, & JoAnn Rock
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836570 $5.99

"Taking Care of Business" by Stephanie Bond. In Vegas, FBI Agent Steve Berringer is undercover as a photographer at the Taking Care of Business Chapel. His target is Mitch Landy who is expected to come here to marry. As Steve trips over H.D. the dog, he also finds he can't help falling in love with wedding designer Gracie Sergeant. "Play It Again, Elvis" by Jo Leigh. In Vegas, stand up comedian Molly Canada worries that her writer Charlie Webster has written poor material for her lately. Charlie is not suffering from writer's block, but instead fears unrequited love. He knows it's now or never that he must declare his feelings to Molly. "The Good Luck Charm" by JoAnn Rock. In Vegas, former music agent Alyssa Renalto owns and operates the Memorabilia shop. Currently she is angry with musician Brett Neale who disrupted her Elvis dance. Brett wants Alyssa to be his agent and more as he suffers from a burning love for her. However, when he competes against her sister in the Elvis Legacy Contest, Alyssa feels divided as she loves her sibling but the hound dog too. These contemporary romances with an Elvis theme are tongue in cheek fun starring delightful couples and a multiple of "Elvi".

Searching for Cate
Maria Ferrarella
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373285256 $5.99

FBI Special Agent Catherine "Cate" Kowalski reels with difficult blows to her mental health. Her beloved Gabe Summer died at the World Trade Center on 9/11 in the line of duty just like her daddy years before. Her dying mom needs blood, but a test shows that Cate is incompatible to her mother, which means Julia could not have birthed her. After mom dies, Cate feels alone with no attachments to anyone. She decides she needs to search for the real Cate starting with finding her biological parents. Three years ago Alma the wife of Dr. Christian Graywolf committed suicide taking their tiny daughter with her; he holds himself culpable for their death because he failed to heed his spouse's final plea. To forget his demons Christian buries himself at Blair Memorial Hospital. That is until now. His sister Lydia introduces him to a new friend from work Cate. Both are stunned by their immediate overwhelming attraction and desire for one another, but neither trust relationships because each has demons to deal with first. SEARCHING FOR CATE is a fine investigative romance starring two individuals struggling with life's setbacks that make each one leery of love. When the story line concentrates on either Cate seeking her biological heritage or on the relationship between her and Christian, the tale is excellent. When the plot evolves into an FBI case, it turns excitingly suspenseful, but loses some of the key focus. Still Maria Ferrarella provides a warm contemporary romantic thriller starring two scarred souls seeking solace and a reason to live until love frighteningly shows them what it is all about.

Linda Turner, Ingrid Weaver, & Julie Miller
Signature (Silhouette) Collection
ISBN: 0373285280 $5.99 240 pp.

"Fooling Around" by Linda Turning. When staid and stuffy Josephine London learns that her great-aunt Boonie left her a detective agency, she kicks up her heels and moves to San Antonio. Her partner Wiley Valentine is first surprised that she had the gumption to make the change and then becomes worried when she accepts the case of a mafia's lord's wife who wants to find out if her husband to cheating on her. While working the case, the pair falls in love. Josephine also inherits a parrot Elliot who talks to people in a human manor and manages to steal the spotlight in this exciting romantic suspense. "The Man in Shadow" by Ingrid Weaver. For a year, her family and friends worried about Erika, who kept seeing Sloan in spite of knowing he drowned at sea even though his body was never recovered. While working a case on the docks she notices a man who looks like Sloan and goes to investigate, but is knocked out. When she regains consciousness, she finds the man who looks like Sloan brokering an arms deal. When the authorities arrive, Sloan falls into the water and she can't convince anyone that he was with her. Ingrid Weaver's heroine believes, despite the evidence, that her beloved did not die at sea a year ago, leaving readers (and her family) empathizing yet wondering. This is a terrific tale by a fabulous author. "A Midsummer Night Murder" by Julie Miller. Not available for review.

Warrior Without Rules
Nancy Gideon
Silhouette Intimate Moments
ISBN: 0373274521 $4.99, 249 pp.

Personal Protection Professional Jack Chaney arrives from the states to convince covert operator Zach Russell to meet with wealthy Mexican-American Victor Castillo, CEO of Aletta. Though he and Victor detest one another, Zach flies from Australia to Chicago. The hatred they felt ten years ago remains strong, but Victor needs Zach to protect his daughter Antonia while completing a major business deal as someone threatens her life; she trusts only Zach with that and he came because Jack asked him. Zach lays out three rules that everyone must agree to if he is to accept this civilian job. Rule one is he makes the rules; rule two is where she goes he goes; rule three is nothing personal between them. Antonia agrees to his obnoxious terms even as Zach wonders if her father will pay the price as he refused when his daughter was kidnapped ten years ago. Zach struggles to adhere to rule three as Antonia tempts his body, heart, and soul. However, the threats turn real, but neither are prepared from where and how the present ties back to when she was abducted. The latest "warrior" tale (see WARRIOR WITHOUT A CAUSE), WARRIOR WITHOUT RULES, is a terrific romantic suspense filled with intrigue and plenty of twists and turns especially the climax. Readers will appreciate Zach's discomfit as enforcing his rules leaves him conflicted because two and three contradict between his head and his heart while in spite of his professional experiences rule one ends up with Antonia making the rules. Nancy Gideon provides a gripping tense thriller that the audience will read in one sitting to learn who is behind the assault.

Rare Breed
Connie Hall
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513682 $4.99

In the Lower Zambezi National Park, Africa, Zambian Wildlife Authority Ranger Wynne Sperling has diligently worked to shut down a major poaching operation. Former US Navy SEAL Jack MacKay says he is a businessman in Africa to enjoy a safari hosted by Hellstrom Tours. Sparks fly when they meet, but not due to an attraction as they have a martial arts encounter. Though Hellstrom has a reputation as a philanthropist, she suspects his company is killing the animals to sell as meat. She does not trust the Texan. Perhaps it was how well she held her own in their fight, but Jack is shocked that he so desperately desires Wynne that he is thinking of corrupting his mission because he wants her to see him as one of the good guys. However, he holds his heart and libido in check as he continues his undercover work, but knows that if his beloved ranger becomes endangered to hell with the mission, a feeling this dedicated individual has never felt before. She to her chagrin feels feminine for the first time and wants to believe he is not a poacher, but holds back judgment in him. RARE BREED is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller staring two dedicated protagonists who want to do the right thing, which means ignoring their attraction for one another. The story line is action-packed and quite exciting yet makes the case that the right and wrong of poaching is not just black and white as people risk their lives to feed their families. Interestingly the star of this excellent drama is Zambia and its people who are lovingly intertwined into this quality plot making the tale must reading.

Devil's Bargain
Rachel Caine
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513674 $4.99

Milo Laskins, partner at Gabriel, Pike & Laskins, LLP, sends employee attorney James Borden to inform former cop Jasmine "Jazz" Callender that a not for profit organization wants to fund her in opening a private investigative firm. The only stipulation is that she partners with Lucia Garza, a former USAF Security Police Officer Law Enforcement Supervisor who she has never met. Though she does not like knowing more about these enigmatic benefactors, she agrees to their terms. After a less than amiable first call between the two tough females, they agree to meet though they are across the country from one another as neither trusts their unknown benefactor. However, the 100K check they already received is good so the duo agree to the terms. As the two sleuths conduct an investigation for their new employers, the case turns dangerous. James tries to help the women, but neither Jazz nor Lucia wants a civilian in the way. Someone wants the inquiries stopped or else; but these two tough females are too obstinate to back down over a threat even if it is to them. Though the investigation is convoluted and starts relatively late, readers who appreciate strong female action heroines will want to read DEVIL'S BARGAIN. The testosterone flows on every page in which either Lucia or Jazz appear starting from the beginning the latter kicks butt in a bar and never lessons until the final kick butt climax even when Jazz and James make love. Fans of strong women starring in a wild investigative thriller will enjoy this dynamic tale.

The Profiler
Lori A. May
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513704 $4.99

FBI Agent Angela David comes home to New York to train under legendary profiler Marcus Cain, a close friend and partner of her late father. As he tutors her on the job, they succeed in apprehending dangerous criminals; for instance they capture dangerous Zeus due to his experience and knowledge and her skill to pose as a foreigner. However, Manhattan also serves as a depressing reminder that her beloved dad was murdered with his throat sliced here. Soon she is assigned her first case to uncover the identity of a devious serial killer. Cain introduces Angela to New York Police Officer Carson Severo who is to help her with her investigation. Though she struggles to ignore her dad's death her current case keeps intertwining with his murder. Someone apparently holds a grudge against the David family. Angela knows she must stop this serial killer before anyone else she loves is hurt. Though the audience will wonder if Angela should have been disqualified from the investigation for personal reasons, readers will enjoy this strong heroine as she works the mean streets of New York. The romance takes a back seat to the action as physically active Angela wrestles with killers and follows them in wild Manhattan car pursuits. A final twist that seems way out adds suspense to a terrific kick butt police procedural.

She's on the Money
Stephanie Feagan
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513690 $4.99

In Midland, Texas following her success as a whistle blower rising from the ashes of public scorn to heroine (see SHOW HER THE MONEY), CPA Whitney "Pink" Pearl is hired by Banty McMeans to look into why his oil profits have dropped off considerably. He thinks David Lorenzo is siphoning revenues from him. However, like her love life the simple case takes a strange spin when not long after she visits Beeps Body Shop and finds someone killed Nolan Beeps. That is followed by David's wife and Pink's Aunt Dru vanishing and assumed abducted. While trying to choose between romancing her lawyer Ed Ravnealdt and having a fling with that handsome Senator Santorelli, Pink ponders whether she missed "National Nutcase Day" as her inquiries have gone crazy and interferes with her personal life. Of course her dad "Lurch" would tell her that is a good thing as neither of these white collars is worth that of a mechanic as a son-in-law. To make matters worse, someone wants to shut down Pink before she can select which hunk (perhaps that police sergeant) she wants or even learn the truth about the oil wells. Adding her to the obituary column is an unacceptable method to close her investigation as far Pink is concerned. Readers will appreciate Pink's return engagement in this wacky satirical private investigative tale. The story line never takes itself seriously even when someone tries to kill the heroine. Fans of humorous mysteries that lampoon chick lit superheroes will agree that Stephanie Feagan is on the money with this thriller.

Crazy Love
Desiree Day
ISBN: 1416503501 $13.00, 320 pp.

In Atlanta, best friends Stacie Long and Tameeka Johnson totally disagree on what they desire in a man. Whereas Stacie has a list of ten items that she has revised several times to improve the attributes of her desire, Tameeka has one requirement. She just wants to meet her soul mate while Stacie assumes she is God's gift to mankind so deserves a wealthy healthy specimen. Neither have had any success in finding The Hunk. Both attend the Sexy and Sultry New Year's Eve gala unescorted in spite of being beauties. At the event, Stacie meets NBA star Crawford Wallace while Tameeka meets Tyrell Powell. As they continue to see the new men in their lives, the two females wonder if that have found their perfect mate, but both have doubts that their feelings are reciprocated. Their respective hesitations grow especially when Jackson and Mohamed enter their lives. This is an interesting chick lit tale starring two delightful protagonists though the seemingly ever present lists are included. The story line follows the two women as they wonder if they have found their respective Mr. Right, but question if they are their lovers' Ms. Right especially when new men enter their lives. Sub-genre fans will get pleasure from these Georgia Peaches as they search for love.

The Shattered Blue Line
Patrick A. Davis
ISBN: 0743499751 $7.99, 406 pp.

Major Nathan Malone, the Commander of the Office of Special Investigations, is jailed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on a DWI charge. He fully expects to be discharged but instead Superintendent Crenshaw frees him and puts him in charge of working with the representative of Senator Smith involving sexual misconduct on the base. When he meets the senator's representative, he shocked to see a woman who looks like Christina Barlow, the only woman he ever loved. The woman was raped by three men never caught at the Air Force Academy. The woman he sees is Christina's identical twin Kaitlin who blames the Academy for what happened to her sister. The investigation takes a sudden turn into murder when the cadets Mary and Rachel are killed. Rachel was pregnant but refused to name the father. Her roommate Mary was killed because the murderer believed she told Mary who the father was. Suspicion falls on Rachel's ex-boyfriend who never wanted the break-up but he is found dead along with an investigator assigned to watch him. Rachel's mother is also murdered and the wife of a suspect kills him and herself. With pressure to solve the case, Malone works a hunch that lea ds him to the killer but before an arrest can be made, more deaths follow. Malone, a wealthy playboy, is portrayed as a good investigator but a terrible officer who frequently breaks the rules. Patrick A. Davis has written a crime thriller that is exciting, well plotted and with so many suspects hiding secrets that his investigation frequently spins out of control. Though the homicide count requires a serial killer calculator, THE SHATTERED BLUE LINE remains a mesmerizing military mystery.

Have Glass Slipper Will Travel
Lisa Cach
ISBN: 0743470893 $6.99, 352 pp.

In Seattle, her social life was already in the tank when she lost her job as a technical writer at WxyTech. Katy Orville needs someone to talk to, but cannot afford a psychiatrist. So she does what many poor Americans do, she ponders what would Oprah do. Since Katy cannot consult with Oprah, she turns to the website of her goddess for advice. Later Katy dreams of Oprah advising her that you have only one short time so it is important to live life to the fullest. Katy interprets the sage advice to mean she should fulfill her fantasy by flying to London to find Prince Charming. At a family wedding, he did not want to attend Will Eland meets the crazy Yank. She thinks he is her Prince Charming while he believes she is an heiress who is the answer to saving his organic gardening business. The passion between them is an added bonus to both of them who believe they found what they need at last. Not long after love begins to blossom, scandal erupts as the tabloids expose Katy as a sham after title and wealth. Though Katy's behavior is rationalized as caused by her fear of poverty, readers will still shake their heads at her placing Oprah on Olympus above Dear Abby in the advice pantheon and her grasping for the glass slipper until they get to know her. Still Lisa Cach's fine tongue in cheek modern day retelling of Cinderella is delightful.. Her antics makes the tale amusing and fun to follow as she and her Prince Charming do not have a smooth coach ride to happily ever after. Ms. Cach provides a humorous chick lit romance.

When Secrets Die
Lynn Hightower
ISBN: 0743463919 $14.00, 352 pp.

After caring for her son during a traumatic illness that eventually killed him, Emma Marsden is finally coming to terms with her grief. Her world is shattered once again when a call from the Clay's Mill children's clinic that was treating her son informed her that they had some of his organs that they kept for research purposes. When she goes to collect them, the person who called her is under orders not to give them to her. She takes them anyway. Soon after that incident, Dr. Theodore Turnbridge, her son's doctor, accuses Emma of poisoning her son because she has Munchausen by Proxy. She is in danger of children's protective services taking her fifteen year old daughter away from her and there is the real possibility she might go to jail. She hires private detective Lena Padgett to disprove the charges. Lena, who has an intenseapport with her client, takes the case but it isn't until Emma's daughter is kidnapped does Lena, the police and the medical people have a clue who is behind Emma's legal troubles. Lynn Hightower is one of the best thriller writers of the new millennium and will appeal to fans of Patricia Cornwell and Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. Readers learn about the power of the medical profession and how in the wrong hands it can ruin the lives of innocent people. Emma is a sympathetic character and readers will empathize with all the problems she has to bear through no fault of her own. Lena plays more of a secondary role then in previous novels in the series but the audience won't feel cheated because she is still a key player in a tense drama.

Joseph Nassise
ISBN: 0743470958 $6.99, 304 pp.

When their organization was outlawed, the Knights Templar went underground until the Vatican recognized them again and they became an arm of the church fighting the supernatural enemies of humanity. One Knight Commander Cade Williams, in charge of Echo Command, joined the order when as a policeman he encountered a supernatural entity he calls the Adversary that killed his wife. He fully intends to avenge his wife's death but for now he fights the cases of the order whenever he is called to do so. Someone or something is attacking commanderies (various headquarters of the Knights Templar), killing the Templars and raising them from the dead as revenants. The group of nine led by Simon Hamilton Logan, the head Necromancer is looking for the Spear of Destiny for it is believed whoever possesses it could rule the world. The battle becomes personal for Cade when he realizes the Necromancer is in league with his enemy the Adversary. Before he can ever think of taking vengeance on his foe, he must keep the spear out of the enemy's hands, a difficult thing to accomplish when there is a traitor within his organization. Horror fans will be delighted to discover the works of Joseph Nassise a relatively new writer who can hold his own with such masters as Douglas Clegg, Bentley Little, and Stephen King. Heretic is a dark work, gothic in tone with scary scenes that will frighten even those who don't get scared by reading a horror novel. The protagonist fights on the side of the light even though he has his own agenda. Like this reviewer, fans will look forward to more adventures starring Cade and the Knights Templar.

Shadows All Around Her
Catherine Mulvany
ISBN: 0743493842 $6.99

Janus the head of security for the Mediterranean Sea island monarchy Calix, informs his agent Dominic Fortune that someone is stealing artifacts from the palace library. Of most concern is that American medieval literature Professor Erskine Grant has obtained a copy of a sacred Calixian document. Dominic is to retrieve it from Grant who is in Edinburgh attending a forum. Dominic finds Erskine dead and another visiting professor Magnus Armstrong missing. Magnus' stepdaughter Math Professor Caitlin O'Shaugnessy received a package from Magnus for her birthday. When she learns he is missing, accompanied by her closest friend Bree Thatcher, she flies to Scotland where Dominic meets her at the airport. As he tries to keep her safe from several attempts to abduct her, Caitlin begins realizing that she possesses the missing manuscript sent to her by Magnus. She also knows she loves her protector who reciprocates her feelings, but first must solve the case of the seventeenth century manuscript in order to rescue Magnus from a villain who seems invincible. SHADOWS ALL AROUND HER is a fantastic romantic suspense thriller with fantasy and horror elements that enhance the delightful story line. Readers will root for the lead couple to rescue the tortured Magnus from a clever adversary pulling everyone's strings. Romance readers will enjoy the relationship between Dominick and Caitlin as well as that between Bree and another protection expert. Still the plot is loaded with intrigue from the beginning to the final chaos theory twists that will have the audience seeking more works from talented Catherine Mulvany.

Born to Be Bad
Sherrilyn Kenyon
ISBN: 1416507507 $7.50

"One Bad Night". The Bureau of American Defense (B.A.D.) has assigned Agent Samantha Winslow to rectify the Road Runner problem as Jason Banks betrayed them by giving another agent's name to terrorists. In Berlin, Sam shoots and abducts Jason to interrogate him. Though she hates him, she also finds herself attracted to the traitor. "Bad to the Bone". Thirty year old high school teacher Marianne Webernec dreams of being tall, thin, and terrific, but knows she is average. However, she looks forward to playing out her favorite romantic fantasy at a "sex camp". Instead of pretend, Marianne finds herself underneath and in other positions with real life B.A.D. espionage agent Kyle Foster as she is on the wrong side of the vacation island, but the right side of her lover. "Captivated by You". To capture a terrorist B.A.D. Agent Rhea Stevenson is preparing for an undercover assignment as a dominatrix. Training with her for her role is Agent "Ace" Krux, who she has secretly desired. As they rehearse, passion flows between them. These three good B.A.D. novellas are tongue in cheek (literally perhaps more so than figuratively) erotic romantic suspense tales with "One Bad Night" being new; the other two were in relatively recent anthologies. The B.A.D. collection is fun for Ms. Kenyon's fans, but not on a par with the author's Dark Hunter fantasies.

A Bitter Chill
Jane Finnis
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581938 $24.95, 352 pp.

The Roman settlers in the province of Britannia near the town of Ebornacum (later known as York) in Dec 95 AD are getting ready to celebrate the holiday Saturnalia. Nobody is more excited than innkeeper Aurelia Marcella who expects no overnight customers due to the inclement weather. She is very disappointed when a very important Roman family comes up from Londinium to search for their runaway son who wants to marry a local girl and not the woman his parents chose for him. Aurelia's sister is shocked to learn that her fianc? Candidus is the rich Roman son of a senatorial family. A confrontation leads to the threat of him being disinherited but he chooses love over money. When his father's slave is killed in the patriarch's bed, Aurelia and her sister are accused of the murder. When a second slave is murdered, it verifies the patriarch's fear that someone is trying to kill him. Aurelia agrees to help in the investigation once she is cleared of any suspicion but the killer strikes again mounting a full scale investigation with Aurelia's sister and Candidus as two of the prime suspects. Readers who liked the first book in this series GET OUT OR DIE will find A BITTER CHILL is even more exciting. It is a fantastic historical mystery that gives insight into the Roman culture adjusting to life in the back water provinces. The characters are well drawn and the support cast plays key roles and are as important to the storyline as the protagonist. Aurelia is an independent businesswoman who would have been at home in twenty-first century America instead of a Roman province where women were considered second citizens.

The Green Room
Deborah Turrell Atkinson
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581997 $22.95, 370 pp.

On the island of O'ahu in Hawaii, native Storm Kayama and her lover Ian Hamlin opened up a law office in a small converted house about a mile from Honolulu. Her very first client is Stephanie Barstow who wants Storm to represent her in a divorce from her husband Marty who will definitely contest it. Stephanie and her son believe that Barstow will be coming to the island shortly and they are proven right. Barstow and his partner Steve O'Reilly are putting together a high stakes surfing competition The Intrepid where the surf is so high the only way the contestants can get to waves is by jet skis. The person thought most likely to win is Nahoa but he is killed when he is caught in a cave and then washed out to sea. His molars are missing as were those of another surfer who also drowned a short time ago. The police believe it is a coincidence but Storm, who knows the island legends, believes something about the contest is off kilter. When someone breaks into her home to see what information she has on her computer and discs, she starts her own investigation which puts her in danger and later almost gets Storm and Hamlin killed. Readers get to see the real Hawaii through the eyes of the heroine, a headstrong, independent and feisty woman who is a good role model because she doesn't let anyone make her feel less than she is. Vivid descriptions of the island, a glimpse into the Hawaiian mythos and an exciting plot makes THE GREEN ROOM the perfect reading experience.

Madonna of the Apes
Nicholas Kilmer
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581962 $24.95, 278 pp.

In Boston, Good Samaritan Clayton Reed tries to help his drunken companion to his home. Another passerby Fred Taylor comes along and helps. At the apartment, Fred, a former overseas operative, takes charge as he knows the drunk was pulling scam on the innocent Clayton and takes over the situation. The phony drunk is a Franklin from Atlanta and he has some interesting art, if genuine, in his place that should probably not be in the United States. Franklin says he has something truly special coming in to his possession in a few days; the tantalizer hooks art collector Clayton who agrees to return. As they leave, Fred asks Clayton if he is nuts. He responds in kind by hiring Fred to provide him security. A few days later, they are shown a Renaissance masterpiece MADONNA OF THE APES that could have be an original Renaissance masterpiece. Though having doubts on its' authenticity, related murders occur that seem to affirm that this painting is indeed a lost treasure worth dying for. The stupendous sixth Taylor-Reed collaboration is a prequel to the previous art mysteries by occurring at the beginning when they first met and formed their employer-employee relationship. The tale is terrific as the art expert and the former agent work to learn if MADONNA OF THE APES is authentic and uncover who is murdering those associated with the painting. Taylor receives a first hand lesson in art appreciation as dealers willingly lie to make a sale. Nicholas Kilmer refreshes his delightful series with a wonderful "first" tale.

James Sallis
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581814 $19.95

Los Angeles based Drive lives up to his name day and night. During the day he works in films as an action drive while at night he drives the getaway car in criminal activities. His current evening job has Drive working a heist just north of Phoenix. As he sits in the vehicle waiting for his teammates, The New Guy who cooked up the job and hired Drive, Dave Strong who aptly provides muscle, and Blanche, who offers the sexy distraction, he notices another car sitting in the nearby alley, mirroring what Drive is doing. Shots are fired; Blanche races into Drive's car with the money; urging him to take off. Drive leaves with the other vehicle on his back; he gets rid of the tail by cleverly using the police to stop the other car. However that night at the motel, the thugs from the other car arrive shooting at Drive and Blanche leaving her and the two adversaries dead; Drive has a ton of money, but first must clean up the double cross if he is to use it without someone trying to murder him. DRIVE is a throwback tale to the Noirs of the late 1940s and 1950s starring a tough individual who steps over the legal line, but only so far until the double-cross and attempts on his life turn him into a retaliatory machine. The story line is action-packed with a strong support cast that provides a look at the support Hollywood role of a driver as well as a first class criminal tale. Fans will want to hitch a ride with James Sallis as he provides an excellent hardboiled crime thriller.

Easy Streets
Bill James
ISBN: 039306042X $23.95

For years there was agreement between Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles and drug kingpins Mansel Shale and Panicking Ralph Ember. The cops would wink at their drug deals in return they would keep the streets safe and peaceful for the law abiding citizen. However, classic supply and demand economics takes root over time; surplus drugs become available in a risk free buyer's market leading to increase in small owner competition that eats at the oligopoly's dwindling profit margin. Someone ends the truce, blowing up the home of dealer Ferdy Dubal, killing him and his daughter. Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harper and Iles know the peace is over, as they try to solve the double homicide. Meanwhile Colin's teenage Jill explains the by-product outcome of the street deal in economic terms making Iles wonder if he has done the right thing. As the detectives investigate, more killings occur and the open drug war threatens the city making both cops reflect on the ethics of blinking. The Harper-Iles police procedural has consistently been one of the best British police procedurals on the market for the past six or so years; the latest tale EASY STREETS perhaps is the best yet. Besides a fabulous investigation, readers see a fresh side to Iles whose conscience has taken a battering with the outcome of his drug policy yet he remains pompous and rigid as ever. Harper is his perfect sidekick but this single dad receives an education from his teenage daughters that open his eyes to the reality of the deal as much as the drug related murders do. Bill James is at his finest with this unsurpassed thriller that may prove to be the sub-genre's top novel of the year.

First Dawn
Judith Miller
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764229974 $12.99, 379 pp.

In 1877 Kansas, two new segregated towns are formed out of the Great Prairie: The former slaves are to live in Nicodemus while the whites settle in Hill City. Many former slaves hearing about the new opportunity take their family to relocate, but arrive to find a tent city with abject campsites to call home. Most are disappointed and return to their former homes. One of the newcomers Ezekiel Harban decides stay although his three daughters have doubts. Former Kentucky physician Samuel Boyle brings his family to Hill City, but his new home is devastating as there is not much more than a few abodes and "several sad-looking buildings." His accompanying family members miss their old Kentucky home with the social atmosphere especially potential boyfriends. Though going back is quite the temptation, their faith in the Lord by the Boyle family and others provide them with the encouragement to make their new home work. Meanwhile Boyle's provides medical care to both towns and soon he and his family form friendships with black settlers like Ezek iel. Christian historical readers will enjoy this fine Reconstruction Era tale with its insightful look at the period and especially the obvious parallels to the Exodus. The story line overuses improbable happenstances to move the plot forward, but sub-genre fans will not care because the cast is solid especially the lead males whose friendship bonds starting with the birth of a newborn and solidified by their beliefs in God. Judith Miller in her solo debut (see Lights of Lowell series co-written with Tracie Peterson) opens her Freedom's Path series with an entertaining Americana saga.

The Double Eagle
James Twining
ISBN: 0060762098 $24.95, 400 pp.

On April 5, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt claiming a national emergency issued Executive Order 6102. With this declaration, FDR directed citizens to hand in their horde of gold whether it is be coin, bullion or certificates to the Federal reserve system by 1 May or face criminal charges. The gold coins including the $20.00 Double Eagle were melted down with five stored as a memento locked way in Fort Knox. Seventy years later, a gold coin surfaced in the throat of a mutilated priest found floating in the Seine in Paris. Someone broke into Fort Knox and stole the coin. FBI Agent Jennifer Browne sees the gold coin caper as a chance to redeem a career that recently took a bad blow due to an error in judgment on her part. She assumes former CIA Agent and retired jewel thief Tom Kirk, who has the requisite skills needed to successfully break into the highly guarded installation and steal the coin. That is until she meets him in England. He wants to clear his name and she her reputation so they team up. This is a terrific thriller that uses the true story of the Double Eagle as background enabling the exhilarating action-packed story line to stay anchored in reality. The story line is fast-paced as readers accompany the protagonists and others as the adventure moves back and forth between several American locations, Paris, London, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Readers will appreciate the anti-heroic Tom and commiserate with beleaguered Jennifer who is not sure she should trust her rascally companion, but has no other choice. James Twining provides a fabulous thriller that never allows the audience a chance to catch their breath.

The Coast of Akron
Adrienne Miller
ISBN: 0374125120 $25.00

In the mid 1970s, Lowell Haven met and married Jenny in London; they had in common painting as both were talented artists. The two American settled in Akron where they had a daughter Merit. However, Lowell's womanizing and need to be part of the gentry aristocracy takes it toll on Jenny, who in spite of loving her mendicant spouse, divorces him. Lowell is now a famous portrait artist though he has not done anything in five years while Jenny's talent died when her beloved killed their relationship when he seduced her best friend Fergus and moved into Fergus' lavish mansion. Fergus assumes that Merit running away from her parents has devastated Lowell, who no longer paints. To get him back to doing the popular self portraits that has brought fame and fortune Fergus believes he needs Merit home. Fergus chooses to throw a gala inviting the Midwestern aristocracy, but not knowing that one of the guests is the true secret behind Jenny's collapse, Merit's running away and Lowell quitting. THE COAST OF AKRON is a terrific often amusing and as equally tragic family drama that showcases what happens when someone obsessively needs to possess a butterfly that needs to be left free. The well written insightful story line contains full blooded key characters and a strong support cast that enhances the look into the behavior of the three Havens, Fergus, and the prime guest. Contemporary readers will enjoy Adrienne Miller's cross Atlantic three decade character study.

Into Temptation
Penny Vincenzi
ISBN: 1585677086 $26.95, 672 pp.

In the Coronation Year 1953 septuagenarian Lady Celia Lytton makes two shocking announcements that everyone who knows her assumes she is terminally ill. After five decades with Lyttons Publishing and known as its life force since her spouse Oliver died, she informs her stunned family and others that she is retiring to marry long time friend Lord Arden. The family members react differently, but all share a stunning disbelief. Meanwhile Lytton Publishing is in trouble in spite of the efforts of the Lytton next generation to modernize and compete in a new age of book making at a time that they have lost their two symbols, Celia and Oliver in the past year. The only hope of rescue resides in New York where Barty Miller runs her own publishing house while also owning powerful shares of Lyttons Publishing stock. Celia believes her Barty who she rescued from the slums so many years ago will save the firm; other family members know how they mistreated the slum child as beneath them and fear she will retaliate by burying Lyttons Publishing. The third "Spoils of Time" tale continues the Lytton family saga started with NO ANGEL (World War I) and continued in SOMETHING DANGEROUS (1930s). Whereas the first two dramas concentrated mostly on Celia, this time the plot focuses predominantly on Barty. As with the first two tales, other family members are highlighted just to a lesser degree. Fans of insightful historical dramas that center on people and families will enjoy Penny Vincenzi's powerful 1950s tale that can be read alone, but better when following SOMETHING DANGEROUS as much of Barty's decision making motives are formed in the previous novel.

Side by Side
John Ramsey Miller
ISBN: 0553583433 $6.99, 352 pp.

Winter Massey used to be a U.S. Marshall until he killed a person and didn't feel a shred of remorse. He knew it was time to get out and is now making a new happier life with his wife Sean and their infant daughter Olivia. When his old friend Special Agent Alexa Keen tracks him down to help her in a case that she is pursuing without the help of the FBI. Winter is reluctant to assist her until she explains that a woman and her infant son were kidnapped; he agrees to lend a hand. The kidnapped woman is the daughter of Judge Hailey Fondren, the presiding over the case of Ex-Army Colonel Hunter Bryce charged with killing an ATF agent who found the weapons that the accused was planning to sell to the Soviet Mafia. Bryce's criminal allies are using the hostages to extort the judge to pronounce the colonel not guilty. If he fails to free Bryce they will kill his daughter and grandson. Winter searches for the victims but after nearly being blindsided several lines, he has to wonder if Alexa is working for the enemy. SIDE BY SIDE is a fantastic action thriller that starts of at light speed and just keeps accelerating until the shocking and exciting finale. Readers won't know who the real villains are until the author chooses to reveal their allegiances. The characters are well drawn and three dimensional especially the hero so that readers feel they know him and his motivations. John Ramsey Miller writes a strong crime thriller with espionage and military overtones filled with plenty of guts and heart.

The Mission: Crazy Hot
Tara Janzen
ISBN: 0553586106 $5.00

The Boulder police did not believe paleontologist Regan McKinney that the disappearance of her beloved grandfather was not his usual summer wandering amidst the Badlands. She insisted this was different as retired professor Dr. Wilson McKinney always checked in with her and would never miss a speaking engagement; both occurred. That is why she is in the middle of the ghost town Cisco seeking former USAF hero Quinn Younger who Regan believes knows what happened to her grandfather. While Quinn watches Regan wondering if she is an en emy agent, two thugs arrive, forcing him to come out of the shadows to rescue her. In front of Quinn's "guardian angel" Kid Chaos, Regan explains that Wilson vanished just after bringing home a Porsche, whish she knows from her teen days means Quinn is involved. Quinn would do anything for his mentor Wilson who he believes straightened him out as a teen except give away his cover as a thief. Still he must protect Regan because she refuses to stop her search and rescue of Wilson though he believes the bones doc is safe. He must also prevent some nasty thieves from stealing precious dinosaur bones inside a nest filled with diamonds. This action-packed thriller never slows down from the moment that Regan arrives in Cisco until the final discussion between the lead couple over confiscated diamonds. The story line is action-packed leaping from one escapade to another mindful of an Indiana Jones adventure. Fans who appreciate plenty of adventure and romance will want to read CRAZY HOT and look forward to the capers of Quinn's teammate Christian Hawkins in the next crazy special defense force unit's appearance.

The Belen Hitch
Pari Noskin Taichert
University of New Mexico
ISBN: 0826339158 $24.95, 296 pp.

Free lance public relations consultant Sasha Solomon is hired by the New Mexican town of Belen to give her expert opinion on what to do with Harrow's House so that it would attract more tourists. One idea is to convert it into an art gallery featuring the paintings of local artist Phillipa Petty. Others want to turn the place into a bed and breakfast with a restaurant. When Sasha arrives in town she drives to Miss Petty's home only to find the woman dead. She takes a picture that is near the body featuring her Phillipa and an unknown man without telling the police what she did. Afterward she suffers from a very sore throat, the same affiliation suffered by police officers who were at the crime scene. The cops believe that they breathed in something poisonous that also killed Phillipa. Sasha's mother is recovering from a nursing home where someone is trying to kill her by giving her penicillin. Someone is also trying to frighten Sasha away from Belen because she is asking too many questions. She doesn't realize that the killer won't mind adding her to the head of the list of people he wants dead. The first book in this series earned the author an Agatha nomination, but this novel could go one step further. The support cast is made up of quirky characters that add humor to the tense storyline and make readers feel they are reading a family saga inside an amateur sleuth tale. Pari Noskin Taichert creates an atmospheric mystery that will send chills up the readers' spines.

Pardonable Lies
Jacqueline Winspear
ISBN: 0805078975 $23.00, 352 pp.

In 1930 through Sir Julian Compton, Sir Cecil Lawton meets renowned psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs to ask a favor of her, regardless of her high fee. Nervous Cecil explains that his son Ralph served as a member of the Flying Corps, but died in 1917 in France. Cecil's wife Agnes believed her son lived in spite of the contrary evidence and turned to spiritualists as her mental state collapsed. Three months just before dying Agnes made Cecil vow on her deathbed to find Ralph. Though she believes this is a wild goose chase, Maisie agrees to make some inquiries although she admits she is not sure how to proceed. She is curious as to how Agnes reconciled her insistence that Ralph lives with the fact that he never came home to see her. Still she begins her inquiries into what happened to Ralph at his home while seeking a legal miracle worker to help embattled Avril Jarvis. Her efforts take Maisie full circle as the clues lead to her college friend Priscilla Evernden, whose lost brother served with Ralph. Meanwhile someone wants the investigation stopped, tampering with Maisie's car amongst other attempts to end her inquiries. The third Maisie Dobbs investigative tale is a fabulous historical mystery that brings to life two eras, 1930 through the heroine's lifestyle and 1917 through the case. The story line is fabulous to follow because of the cast especially the heroine as she digs deep into the past. Readers who appreciate an intelligent well written period piece detective story will enjoy this fine tale and its predecessors (see MAISIE DOBBS and BIRDS OF A FEATHER).

Good Woman Blues
Lynn Emery
Harper Torch
ISBN: 0060731028 $6.99, 384 pp.

Erikka Rochon was on her way to top of the corporate ladder as an accountant in New Orleans until the DUI. She was convicted of first offense driving while intoxicated and reckless operation of a vehicle; the part of her sentencing she hates is the sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Morrow and her rule enforcing team. Still due to her hospital roommate Terri's insight, Erikka finally bluffs a pass out of "jail". Her employer tells her to chill for a while so she takes time off visiting her Aunt Darlene in Loreauville, a home she went to as a child when she needed to escape from her own house. In spite of the loving nurturing of her Aunt, Erikka struggles with the future as she wants back up the Big Easy corporate food chain, but also worries that her depression accelerated by an empty personal life will lead her back to binging. However, everything changes when she meets Gabriel Cormier. They are attracted to one another from the start, but as love blossoms their personal demons leave both reluctant to take the next step in their relationship. GOOD WOMAN BLUES is an intriguing contemporary romance starring two nice but haunted protagonists and a mixed support cast with several quite likable while the her heroine's parents are too into their own hedonistic needs. The story line is character driven as Erikka and Gabriel struggle with their destructive pasts, their loving yet shaky present, and whether the future is together or not. Lynn Emery writes a fine Bayou romance that showcases a fine couple trying to make it over their own issues.

My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliot, Royal Courtesan
Jo Manning
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074326262X $25.00

This combination biography and autobiography enables Georgian and Regency readers especially of romance to gain deep insight into an interesting era of manners that today seem contradictory yet perfectly acceptable. Fans of the period will see through the eyes of one of the more renowned courtesans Grace Dalrymple Elliot, whose memoir was filmed by Eric Roemer The Lady and the Duke). Her insight into royalty and other members of the aristocracy is enhanced by sidebars from noted Regency author Jo Manning. Easy to read with its pick up and put down style and quite entertaining, MY LADY SCANDALOUS will elate sub-genre audience with living up to its subtitle by providing a deep look at the outrageous life of a royal courtesan during a time of decadence and hedonism. Excellent biography worth the time needed by the audience to absorb as there is so much here that bears rereading and applies so brilliantly to the novels set in this period.

The Big Scam
Paul Lindsey
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743250001 $24.00, 320 pp.

FBI Headquarters is investigating the New York office when Administrative Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bernard Dreagen, seeking future favors, offers to his former colleague Inspector Charles Lansing the special Vanko squad as a sacrifice. This group apparently breaks all the rules. After scamming a criminal lowlife they are searching for the missing Judge Ferris. At about the same time local mob chief Tony Casesca suffers a stroke. His deadliest lieutenant Danny DeMilglia becomes temporary head of the family. He warns Tony's nephew by marriage Mike Parisi he better shape up or else. Mike knows that Tony is setting him up to take a fall so that the only competition to replace the boss is eliminated. Soon Vanko's squad, Parisi's men, Lansing, and DeMilglia will learn the basic law of physics about objects sharing the same space when they collide over Judge Ferris. THE BIG SCAM is a wild FBI investigative tale that uses sidebar vignettes to provide excitement and insight into the Vanko team yet never intrudes on the prime story line of internal gang warfare and internal Feds warfare ultimately meeting. Fans will appreciate the non-stop action starting with an impressive fun to read opening sting and never slowing down until the contenders' final altercation. With all this action, kind of like a modern day Indian Jones tale, Paul Lindsey also insures his ensemble cast seem real and unique from one another. This is no scam as fans of Mafia vs. the FBI detective novels will enjoy the ride.

Oddest Yet Even More Stories to Chill the Heart
Steve Burt and Jessica Hagerman (illustrator)
Burt Creations
29 Arnold Place, Norwich, CT 06360
ISBN: 0974140716 $14.95

This nine tale collection of chilling suspense that edges towards the realm of horror and fantasy genres targets the middle school aged child. The contributions are fabulous and adults will enjoy the entries too. Each tale is unique whether it pays homage to Stephen King ("Storming Stephen King") or Devaney and Hoag struggling with a paranormal mystery ("The French Acre" actually a longer short than the other contributions). The illustrations found in five of the stories add to the eerie feeling that something bad is about to happen usually to youngsters. Yet the key to ODDEST YET EVEN MORE STORIES TO CHILL THE HEART like its award winning predecessors is that the stars like the train muggers of "Uncle Bando's Chimes" using somewhat nasty language so that it seems real when a wind chime works its magic. It is that the tales entertain with realistic protagonists although the format is magically short.

Rorey's Secret
Leisha Kelly
ISBN: 0800759850 $12.99, 288 pp.

Though life has been hard during the Depression, Samuel and Julia Wortham have weathered the storms through faith while raising their children. The Worthams believe they are blessed as they and their children have been healthy, they still own their Dearing, Illinois farm, and the two remain very happy with one another and with their children. However, in 1938, disaster strikes at the farm of their close friend and neighbor George Hammond when a fire destroys much of his property. After the blaze is put out, but not before much damage to the crops and the barn occurs, everyone begins to wonder what caused the inferno. Most people believe Franky Hammond set the fire except teenage Sarah who feels Rorey caused the disaster as they share a secret that both keeps silent about even as their families struggle with a new beginning with only their faith in God keeping them going. Six years have passed since the Great Depression impacted the Wortham and Hammond families (see KATIE'S DREAM, JULIA'S HOPE AND EMMA'S GIFT) and the children in those tales are now adults or teens. However, the message remains the same though told from new perspectives; that when things seem bleak, hopeless, and darkest salvation and solace is with the Lord. The story line is exciting as readers observe varying viewpoints about the fire and its aftermath. Americana Historical Christian readers will enjoy this fine tale of salvation after the brutal test of fire.

A Lady's Guide to Rakes
Kathryn Caskie
ISBN: 0446616095 $6.50, 320 pp.

Meredith Merriwether asks the driver of the hot air balloon to get closer so she can research her treatise on rakes with a close up look at how Alexander Lamont behaves towards Giselle the courtesan she hired to accost him. However, the balloon gets too close to the trees and is punctured. Alexander catches Meredith when she falls, but before he could question her or her compatriots she fakes fainting. Alexander carries her home. Her Aunts Leticia and Viola Featherton argue with Meredith that her rescuer is a reformed rake, but she insists that is impossible. Two years ago a rake left her at the altar and so now she writes the guide to warn other innocent girls to beware of rakes. Alex's dad informs him though his motives were honorable he compromised Meredith and will have to marry her. Surprisingly the concept does not disturb Alex. He comes to see her, but she informs him that she is betrothed to Mr. Arthur Chillton. Alex does not plan to let that get in his way of marrying Meredith; however, she remains stubborn that a rake is a rake by any other name. The Featherton sisters (see RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and LADY IN WAITING) are their usual outrageous selves and with their niece's antics make this somewhat typical Regency starring a reformed rake quite amusing and refreshing. The lead couple is a fine pairing as she loathes rakes and considers him the poster boy for rakes. Readers will enjoy this fine historical romance due to the zany cast.

Bride Needs Groom
Wendy Markham
ISBN: 0446614548 $6.50, 384 pp.

In recent years, Mia Calogera has been spoiled because her grandpa won the lottery. However he is also from the old country and demands Mia marry before she reaches her thirtieth birthday or he will cut her out of his will. He even offers to bring a groom from Sicily for her. Mia meets Derek Jackson, an orchid grower, over the internet. They exchange email, chats, and pictures, and soon agree to wed. She flies to Vegas to marry him at the Chapel of Luv. Her first class row mate on the flight is Dominick Chickalini. On the plane they hit it off starting with both being from Astoria Queens. In the Vegas Airport she decides to drop Derek and try to convince Dominick to marry her because she feels attracted to him. She offers Dominick money, which he needs to move out from under his father's roof so he marries her. Soon the newlyweds each wants to make their relationship permanent because they love each other, but neither is willing to take the daring first step. BRIDE NEEDS GROOM is a fun lighthearted romantic romp that fans of contemporary tales will appreciate. The lead couple are fun to read about as they marry for the wrong reasons, but all the right reasons are there too if either courageously reaches out to the other. Readers will enjoy Wendy Markham's amusing tale of love across the tracks in Astoria.

The Marriage Bargain
Diane Perkins
ISBN: 0446614386 $6.50

In 1816 Earl Spence Keenan cannot believe that his seconds Gideon Wolf and Theodore Blakewell were unable to put an end to the duel he has forthcoming with Esmund who accused him of cheating at cards. A former soldier, Spence is not afraid of dying; he just cannot see why they need to settle this over guns. Spence purposely misses, but a shaking Esmund shoots him dead on; Spence's last thought was an apology to his wife Emily who he has not seen in three years. Gideon and Theodore bring Spence's corpse home for burial, but Emily demands to see the body before it is buried feeling deep in her heart she would know if he died. Reluctantly, the coffin is opened and Spence grabs her gasping for water. Over the next few days Emily helps her husband heal; when he recovers enough he fails to recognize his wife. Already angry at him for neglecting her and his estate, she wants nothing further to do with him. As he heals he loves his wife, but she rejects him. Spence realizes he must make up for his neglect to his tenants if he wants to regain the love of his special angel. THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN is a terrific Regency romance starring two interesting characters. Spence feels regret and love as he tries desperately to overcome guilt and neglect while Emily refuses to let her love of her spouse intercede with her feelings of abandonment and disdain. The villain and his actions add excitement and even provide some explanation to Spence's early failures though that seems an unneeded rationalization as the dysfunctional relationship as accentuated by the bargain makes for a strong historical.

Out of the Night
Robin T. Popp
ISBN: 0446616265 $6.50, 368 pp.

Admiral Winslow arranges a charter flight to take volunteer EMT firefighter and full time librarian Lanie Weber from Houston to Taribu in the Amazon Rain Forest so she can take home her dad, who just died in an accident. Michael "Mac" Knight of Dey or Knight Private Charters flies her, but hides from her that she is his cover to learn what happened at the zoological research facility and whether naval officer Lance Burton is dead. At the remote lab, they find five corpses all lacking blood as if a creature dined on them. Lanie opens up a cage containing a statue that comes to life and bites Mac when he tries to rescue her. She contains the creature before dragging Mac into the facility where she provides him a blood transplant that saves his life. She concludes that her father, an expert on cryptozoology, must have found El Chupacabra, which she assumes is the stone creature inside the cage. Believing her father and Burton are vampires, Lanie will soon join them as a blood sucker. Since she cannot get TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN, Mac knows he must kill the woman he now loves. OUT OF THE NIGHT is an engaging vampire romance starring two wonderful lead characters supported by a solid (no pun intended) cast to include El Chupacabra, the two vampires, and the US Navy. The story line is action-packed as the thriller elements take charge of the plot. Though the romantic subplot seems abrupt, fans will enjoy the relationship between Mac and Lanie starting with his drugging her so she can fly. Robin T. Popp writes a fabulous supernatural romantic suspense that never slows down until the final altercation.

Shattered Justice
Karen Ball
ISBN: 1590524136 $12.99

Avidan "Dan" Justice and his beloved wife Sarah went into the woods with bows and arrows for fun. Her shot struck a yellow jacket nest that she failed to notice. The angry insects attacked, stung and killed Sarah. Dan moves with his two children Shannon and Aaron to Sanctuary, Oregon where the trio adjusts quickly with the kids healing faster than their dad. Their renewed happiness ends when several children including his two are murdered. Dan discovered their bodies and the meth lab which is the motive for their deaths. Dan was a believer until he saw the corpses of Shannon and Aaron amongst the dead children. He no longer believes that God is a just being after the yellow jackets and now the random shootings. Shelby Wilson works with troubled teens, but because she has loved Dan from almost day one of his arrival she hopes to reach him with solace. She thinks by matching him with one of her most troublesome teens Jayce Dalton, both will make it through their respective storms. Neither wants it, but she is persistent showering them with love as she fights to save two souls that mean the world to her. Dan has tried to live up to his name fortified by his belief in God. However, the deaths of his loved ones, fine souls that they were, nuke his conviction as he fails to see the justice of the heavenly master plan. The wise Shelby sees inside the torn Dan and the troubled Jayce believing they were intended to help one another through the darkest night. As Dan has one more Job like test to cope with, Christian fiction readers will treasure the inner war for his soul.

The Mile High Hair Club
Naomi Neale
Making It
ISBN: 0843955643 $12.95, 336 pp.

Bailey Roberts left Crestonville, Virginia for New York City several years ago to make her mark in the theater. Though she nearly succeeded as an actress, she has fine job as the talent producer at Expedition Network and has a boyfriend for four years who fails to get the message of what an empty drawer in her apartment means. With her mother recovering rather oddly from a stroke, Bailey goes home to help her younger sister Jeanne with their mother, but her sis is missing in action. As usual home is chaos, assisted by her Aunts Bits and Bubbles competing against Shirley "not the Partridge" Jones to sponsor the winner of the Miss Butter Bean Competition and by her sibling who has come home pregnant and man less. However, this time beleaguered Bailey finds herself attracted to the agronomist next door Taylor Montgomery, which makes her stay more than palpable; it makes it lovingly divine. The Roberts extended family is the Steel Magnolia version of You Can't Take It with You. Bailey is the "normal" one in a sea of likable nutcases, but the "runaway" soon gets caught up in the zaniness and becomes a born again convert to the world of the southern small town eccentric. Though the acerbic satirical scrutiny is somewhat abated by the amusing situations, readers will enjoy this slice of Southern lifestyle.

Shannon Drake
ISBN: 0373770618 $16.95

From the deck of her father's vessel the Promise, Katherine "Kat" Adair sees her beloved Lord David Turnberry fall from his ship The Inner Sanctum into the Thames; when no one reacts, she jumps and rescues him. However, before she can get back to her boat, she runs out of steam. Notorious rake Lord Hunter Macdonald sees the two "fools", jumps in, and saves her life though she refuses to acknowledge he did. Afterward David insists someone deliberately pushed him into the river. Hunter asks Kat's father, an artist, whether his daughter can join an Egyptian archeological expedition. He agrees, but she becomes concerned when she hears rumors of some dying on their last trek. When Hunter learns that David wants to make Kat his mistress, he decides to protect her by naming her as his fianc?e. In the Sahara someone tries to abduct Kat with only Hunter keeping her safe. She falls in love with her heroic rescuer who feels the same way as they search for items of antiquity while trying to uncover who is behind the deadly attacks on this expedition and the previous one. This is an exhilarating historical romantic suspense due to the RECKLESS antics of the heroine who dives head first into dangerous situations that forces her champion to keep rescuing her. The story line is action-packed but brings out the English Egyptology period during the reign of Queen Victoria especially in Egypt. Fans of nineteenth century adventure romances will appreciate Shannon Drake's tense thriller.

Feet First
Leanne Banks
ISBN: 0373770189 $6.99

Design artist Jenny Prillaman works at Bellagio Shoes where she is an assistant to Sal of the Sal Amore line of shoes. Manager Marc Waterson asks Jenny where Sal is; she covers for him saying he ill when she thinks he is drunk. When he asks if Sal has sketched any special shows for the upcoming wedding of the century, she says yes, but hands him her sketches insisting they were done by Sal. He has her stay when the bride, his spoiled cousin Brooke Tarrentino arrives. Marc is impressed as she handles Brooke with ease. Afterward he tells her that Sal called from a rehab center praising her and insisting it was her work. As they work on the wedding that will be filmed as a reality TV show Marc finds himself impressed with Jenny. His admiration begins to turn to desire; Jenny has salivated over Marc form the first moment she saw him, but assumes someone who cannot resist a second and third Krispy Kreme has no chance. Besides if he ever learns that her r?sum? is a fabrication created by Sal, he would dump her even if he miraculously fell in love with her as she has him. FEET FIRST is a fun contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters and the cousin from hell. The amusing story line focuses on how Marc's feelings towards a too confident Jenny evolve as he observes her competence in shoe design and handling people starting with his cousin the Frankenstein bride, her ailing boss, and eventually him. Readers will never look at shoes the same way as Leanne Banks designs a fine tale.

U.S. Male
Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792034 $4.75

In San Francisco, someone stole the rare Blue Mauritius stamp from her grandfather's business while her sister Gwen Chastain was on watch (see CERTIFIED MALE). Feeling sorry for her sibling and knowing the family business is in jeopardy, Joss Chastain decides to try to recover the valuable stamp. Her plan is simple she will hire a private investigator to escort her to Stockholm where she believes the person possessing the stamp is; there she will pretend to have the Orange Mauritius stamp. Joss hires sleuth John Baxter, who reluctantly accepts the case though he tries to persuade her to stay in California while he tries to recover the stolen stamp. She rejects his idea so he agrees to her ploy because he fears someone less reputable will harm her or let her get hurt. As they work together in Stockholm, Joss and Bax fall in love, but first there remains a stolen stamp to recover. U.S. Male is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller that never decelerates from the moment that Joss hires Bax. The action-packed story line grips the audience as Bax has cardiac arrests at the same time his heart has never felt more complete in both cases due to his client. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this fine tale that though can stand alone as Kristin Hardy cleverly interweaves the back story, is even further enhanced by reading Gwen's escapades first.

Dee Davis
ISBN: 037377060X $5.99

CIA agent Melissa Pope uses her photojournalist skills as a cover to investigate who is using the UN Peacekeeping Operations to smuggle weapons and other illegal contraband. The current assignment allows her to see the East River as she is looking inside the Office of the Secretariat for the turncoat. At a reception honoring the Swiss delegation she encounters British M16 Special Agent Nigel Ferris; they fell in love fifteen years ago while on assignment in Spain, but separated once the job was done. He seeks the stolen nerve agent taken in Russia as part of his job for the Last Chance task force and she has information for him. The next day at her information drop Ed fails to meet her at the rendezvous restaurant. However, while waiting Melissa eats tainted food; someone poisoned her. The next morning Melissa wakes up in her home with vehicles surrounding her abode. Not wanting to involve her pregnant sister and with Ed missing, Melissa contacts the only other person she trusts with her life, Nigel, who immediately rushes to her side. He knows they must find the nerve agent. The latest E for excellence Last Chance romantic suspense thriller is a fabulous espionage tale that stars two strong protagonists, the return of the heroes from ENDGAME and ENIGMA, nasty but clever terrorists, and New York City. The danger they face as they seek clues to the whereabouts of the nerve agent before the terrorists cause destruction enhances the relationship between Melissa and Nigel. Dee Davis' final Last Chance novel is like the previous trio a delightful spy loves spy vs. terrorists in a tense thriller.

She's Got the Look
Leslie Kelly
ISBN: 0373770588 $5.99

Eight years ago when she learned that preadolescent boys were masturbating to her modeling pictures, Melody Tanner quit. Her mom seeing the meal ticket over deserted her, which did not surprise Mel. Two years later Mel was to marry Atlanta dentist Dr. Bill Todd; the night before she and her pals drew up a list of five hunks they would like to sleep with. Her fist choice was the marine on the cover of Time. Not to long ago she divorced her womanizing spouse, but he got everything because she destroyed his dental business by defacing his advertising billboard. Mel refuses to dwell on the past and plans to use her camera to make a living. Her best friend Rosemary Chilton mentions that two from her list recently died. Rosemary tells her boyfriend Savannah Police Detective Dex Delaney who arranges for his partner Nick Walker to discuss this with Mel. When Mel sees Nick who wants to look at and discuss the list she realizes who he is, her dream lover from years ago. As they become acquainted they fall in love, but someone wants to eliminate the competition to have Mel for himself only. SHE'S GOT THE LOOK is a fine chick lit police procedural starring a fiery female (epitome of a woman scorned) and a wonderful hunk who was her fantasy sex partner a few years ago and now is her reality sex partner and more if she takes a chance on love. The romance turned murder list storyline contains an intriguing twist that will fool the audience though the answers are in plain sight and keeps the tale from falling into a trite climax. Leslie Kelly shows she has the talent to provide fans with a delightful romantic suspense thriller.

Montana Blue
Genell Dellin
ISBN: 0373770448 $5.99

Blue Bowman spent the last ten years in prison convicted for murdering the person he held responsible for killing his junkie sister Dannah. He heads to the renowned Splendid Ranch in Montana to compete the vow he made to himself when his mother died to avenge the deaths of her and his sibling by destroying rancher Gordon Campbell, his biological father. Blue obtains work on the ranch because he is so good with horses. There he meets and helps veterinarian Andie Lee Hart with a nasty situation involving her troubled son Shane. To his mortification his attraction to her has him wanting to forget his pledge. As they work together, they fall in love, but she admires his father who is her stepfather while he detests his sire; this makes him wonder how she will react when he reveals the truth and breaks dear old dad. Though the theme has been used quite frequently especially in romance novels, Genell Dellin provides a fine contemporary tale. Readers will wonder whether Blue will choose love or revenge as he feels about his father similar to how Shane feels about the same man who many in the area admire including Andie Lee. Though the final round up seems to simplistic, fans of Big Sky romances driven by the characters will want to read MONTANA BLUE.

Summer Lovin'
Carly Phillips
ISBN: 0373770197 $16.95, 304 pp.

Boston Brahmin attorney Ryan Baldwin is pleased his search for his sister is over after years of trying to find Faith, a teen runaway. However he is sad that he is too late as she died in a drug shootout. He plans to bring home his fourteen years old niece Samantha who he assumes is unhappy after years in the foster care system. To his astonishment he arrives at her Atlantic City home only to find Sam adjusted and very happy living with the Costas family. The parents and sisters shower Sam with love and proper discipline though they are a zany bunch with Zack the monkey as a friend and a pet pig as a birthday gift for his niece. The worst jolt is his attraction to big sister Zoe; she to her astonishment feels the same way. Both knows a relationship between the free spirit and the stuffed shirt cannot survive very long, but they share a common goal keeping Sam safe from someone who wants the teen permanently missing. The return of the crazy kooky Costas crew provides the audience with an amusing class warfare tale of manners. The story line focuses on Ryan's reactions to the wild bunch as he starts off so tight a nickel could not slide out of his butt, but time with Zoe and Sam grease his brain so that he turns somewhat zany. Though a late suspense adds tension, that subplot feels out of place in this comedic look at upper class Boston meets hustler Atlantic City UNDER THE BOARDWALK.

Kiss & Makeup
Alison Kent
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792018 $4.75

Shandi Fossey left her home tending bar at the Thirsty Rattler in Round-Up, Oklahoma to find fame and fortune in Manhattan. While she waits for her break, Shandi tends bar at Hush, a Manhattan luxurious hotel. Music producer Quentin Marks visits Hush every night that Shandi is on duty offering to buy the beautiful Sooner a drink. She sweetly declines each time, but does so with an impish hint of brazen fire that turns Quenti on. He muses that he probably would have a heart attack when she finally says yes as he sees desire for him flash in her eyes. He knows he can help her career, but does not want the gratitude of a roll in her sack as her remittance. Shandi's fears are similar that if he gives her career a boost, he will misinterpret her need to make love with him as payment in kind instead of truly coming from the heart. KISS & MAKEUP is an interesting contemporary romance because of the lead female character. Shandi is sweet and hot as the hunk Quentin will testify. The story line is somewhat common with the small town sweetheart and the big city dude falling in love though both have doubts about the other's motives since he can make her career. Alison Kent steps away from her exciting Smithson group thrillers to provide readers with a heated modern day Manhattan romance.

A Fabulous Wife
Dianne Castell
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750811 $4.99, 251 pp.

Accompanied by his parents, Chicago cop Jack Dawson comes to Whistlers Bend, Montana to attend the high school graduation of his son Ben. However, Jack is stunned to see Maggie Moran, his ex-wife, who divorced him thirteen years ago when he chose urban cop and she selected ranch. Though both are fortyish, each keeps the thought to themselves that the other looks great, better than when they were married. Maggie has problems as her prize bull Andy is missing and probably abducted which means her Sky Notch ranch is in jeopardy of foreclosure, but the worst is that she still desires Jack. He knows from the first moment he saw her he wanted her too. When he tries to keep her safe from cattle rustlers, she objects until he kisses her senseless. As they realize they remain in love, both worries that what divided them then remains in the way though the loft seems like so much fun when they visit it together. The tense suspense takes somewhat of a back seat to the delightful second chance at love gender battle between two likable protagonists who fans will want to see compromise so they can grow old together. The story line hooks the audience from the moment that Jack sees Maggie moving at her usual pace that leaves world class sprinters lagging. The cattle rustling adds an element of tension that brings additional conflict between the lead duet, but the intensity of the tale lies between the heated relationship of a couple in love unable to find a common path.

Heart of the Dragon
Gena Showalter
ISBN: 037377057X $6.99 286 pp.

The underground city of Atlantis is real and in the present day and is guarded by the shapeshifter Dragon Darius en Kragin who kills anyone who enters the city through the portal and the mist. For three hundred years he kept the citizens of Atlantis safe, killing any surface dweller who dared to enter the city. However when Grace comes to Brazil looking for her brother who is searching to see if Atlantis really exists, she enters the city but Darius is too attracted to her to kill her. Her feelings for Darius frighten her so aided by the Argonauts, the company her brother works for, she escapes and returns home. Darius follows her because humans have found an entrance to Atlantis and are taking the jewels that decorate the walls. If Grace helps him, he will insure her brother, who is a prisoner, is safe. In love with the taciturn man, Grace agrees to his conditions and both realize he can't kill the woman he desires above all others. Now he has to defeat the humans so the secret of Atlantis is insured, find a way to make Grace part of Atlantis so he won't violate the laws of the city and free Grace's brother who is also in love with a dragon. This romantic fantasy is a magical work where dragons take on human form and have different values than the surface dwellers. Atlantis is an exotic city populated by dragons, vampires, centaurs, and other beings of myth and legend. There is plenty of action as well as romance in the storyline as the book will appeal to a wide range of readers. Gena Showalter has the magic touch to make readers believe in what she writes.

Another Woman's Son
Anna Adams
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712944 $5.50, 297 pp.

Isabel Barker has known for months that her estranged husband Will and her married sister Faith were having an affair. She never informed her brother-in-law Ben feeling unsure whether to tell him or not that his wife cheated on him with her brother-in-law. However, the car crash that killed the cheating lovers leaves her no choice as she feels she must explain to the grieving husband that his eighteen month old child Tony does not contain his DNA. Ben is stunned with Isabel's accusations that their deceased spouses were fleeing with their infant when they crashed. He assumes at first that she is filled with guilt over her rift with her late husband. However, as Ben begins to accept the truth about his wife and their child, he sees how loving and nurturing Isabel is towards her nephew. As the two work closely together to insure that Tony is loved the cuckolded pair fall in love, but can they make a happy family of three out of the tragedy. Though the intriguing family drama at times feels like a soap opera, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance that demonstrates the healing power of love. The adults are a delightful duo as they struggle with anger and resentment towards their late spouses which in turn makes it difficult to admit they love one another until their feelings towards the innocent child and each other begins healing them. Fans of deep character study tales will appreciate Awesome Anna Adams' strong tale.

Dear Cordelia
Pamela Ford
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 037371291X $5.50, 299 pp.

Reporter Liza Dunnigan always does her best, but her stomach is not in her work even if she does the food column at the Chicago Sentinel as she has for seven years; instead she wants to become an investigative journalist. After her latest haranguing of her boss Kristin Coulter, she is assigned a chance to prove herself by performing an impossible task. She is to interview advice columnist Dear Cordelia, who no one has claimed they ever met her, let alone interviewed her. Liza decides the only place to start is with Cordelia's only known contact, publicist Jack Graham. She follows him to Maine where he is visiting to arrange for the care of the dog of his late beloved grandmother. Desperate to make progress with her only link, Liza pretends to be a professional canine caretaker. However, her plot backfires when she falls in love with Jack, but fears once she tells him the truth he will distrust and drop her. DEAR CORDELIA is a fine lighthearted romantic romp starring a delightful cast of characters. The story line is fun though it seems unrealistic yet the audience will not care because they will be so into Liza's efforts to meet Cordelia through Jack. Fans will enjoy her efforts as her heart and body betray her by falling in love with her meal ticket. He, in turn, desires her as much from the moment he watched her at his grandmother's table though he knows that she only wants to know Jack because of Cordelia.

A Mom for Mathew
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712901 $5.50, 297 pp.

Texas schoolteacher Grace Stafford refuses to believe the official record that her grandfather deserted the military during World War II. She plans to prove her assertion that instead his plane went down off Galveston, Texas. Following intensive research, Grace begins diving in search of the lost plane. Meanwhile her efforts could cost Zeke Rosetti's oil company Kemper Offshore Oil Reserch and Development a bundle if their drilling is delayed by her diving. He owes Kemper and the firm because they are so cooperative with his being a single father of a handicapped child Matthew. Instead of a long winded court suit, he decides to expedite her efforts by helping her. As they seek the evidence she so desires, Zeke and Grace fall in love, but he fears how she will react when she learns that he is raising a young deaf son whose mother deserted him as an ailing infant. This is a wonderful contemporary romance starring two wonderful protagonists, a fine supportive cast (except for the social worker and his ex) that digs deep into the issue of raising a handicapped child. The story line is fabulous as the audience along with the wonderful male lead wonder if Grace's love for Zeke will allow her to not just love Matthew, but to cope with his deafness. The Navy-sea salvage subplot is deep and powerful, but it is the relationships that turn Roz Denny Fox's into a powerhouse.

Pelican Bay
Charlotte Douglas
ISBN: 0373230397 $5.50, 304 pp.

Five years have passed since the Florida West Coast town of Pelican Bay has had a homicide until now. Police detective Maggie Skerritt investigates who murdered the twenty-two years old obese Edith Wainwright in her home while her boss wants her to fail because he hates female cops. Clues at the crime scene lead to Karen Englewood, a counselor at the Pelican Bay Weight Management Clinic as it appears the victim died from cyanide laced chocolate apparently given as a reward by Karen. Maggie interviews Karen who insists she refuses to use Skinner's conditional behavior to help her clients lose weight; they must do it themselves with her assisting them. She also says that Edith was upbeat; this is confirmed by a co-worker. When a second victim Sophie Morelli dies from cyanide poisoning, the evidence again points towards her weight counselor Karen. Still nothing adds up as her retired former partner in Tampa and current lover Bill Malcolm tries to quietly help Maggie resolve what seems like a closed case in which a deranged weight counselor is killing her clients. PELICAN BAY is a terrific police procedural with a touch of a romantic subplot that stars forty-eight years old dedicated cop trying to look at a bewildering case from different perspectives because the obvious culprit seems innocent in at least her mind. The story line is action-packed as Maggie works the clues that a serial killer leaves behind to either paint Karen as a crazed murderer or she is. Though the killer's motives take a strange twist that seems unnecessary, fans will appreciate this fine tale and look forward to the next appearance of Maggie once she finishes her sailing vacation with Bill.

The Red Hot Empress
Meredith Blevins
ISBN: 0765307812 $24.95, 352 pp.

By this time Anne Szabo should know that when she goes along with one of her mother-in-law's plans, trouble follows. Mina wants Jimmy's picture in The Eye, the tabloid where Annie works. Jimmy's a toner, a person who heals illness and cures them through chanting. If he can't cure a person, he is able to give them peace. The picture and the story attract too many people who want to use the twelve year old boy for their selfish purpose. Flora an Evangelical preacher wants to use Jimmy to heal the sick in her congregation so she can collect a fee. The CDC wants him when he is older to help discover cures for diseases even though his method is outside the box. The FBI wants him because they believe he can create biological weapons. The tongs want him to keep them in good health. When Jimmy's uncle is murdered, Mina kidnaps him and hands him over to Annie to protect, a dangerous job because some assailants will kill to control Jimmy. Anne devises a diabolical plan to make everyone think they are dead so she can figure who the real villain of the piece is. Meredith Blevins should be on everyone's must read list if they like a who-done-it with plenty of action and a lot of honorable characters. Jimmy almost steals the show as a pre-teen, who is wise beyond his years, a healer who practices alternative health medicine that is mystical in nature. He is an adorable young man who will endear himself to the readers who will root for Annie to keep him safe so he can have somewhat of a normal life.

Pale Death
David and Aimee Thurlo
ISBN: 0765313855 $23.95, 264 pp.

State police officer Leo Hawk, once known as Lee Nez, is a Navaho half vampire who frequently works with FBI agent Diane Lopez who knows what he is and cares about him anyway. They are called to a crime scene where three people are staked and bite marks are on their neck. They trace the works to a nearby top secret federal facility where vampire Stewart Tanner, a full fledged vampire was being held against his will. Experiments were conducted on him that were painful and could be considered torture. Eventually he went insane and when he was able to escape he killed his captors and is now going after federal employees. Dianne and Lee are assigned to the case and Lee has the best chance of catching him even though he is only a half vampire and Tanner is stronger and faster than him. As the body count mounts, Lee knows he has to work faster to take Tanner down but it is difficult when he has to hold back his true nature because he is working with mortals that will use him to experiment on if they discover he is a half vampire. Navaho culture is woven into the vampire legend and what results is a fantastic storyline that is creatively different than most vampire stories. Lee is a good man who protects mortals from the evil vampires that want to kill or turn humans. His sense of justice is strong and as a result he recognizes that there are good vampires in the world and he has no reason to go after them. PALE DEATH will appeal to horror and mystery fans as well as those who love to read tales that are refreshingly original.

Sons of Liberty
Marie Jakober
ISBN: 0765310414 $25.95

In 1862 the border state of Maryland is a divided state with many southern sympathizers pushing for succession. Both sides know the strategic importance of Maryland if it joins the Confederacy it isolates the Union Capital from the rest of the United States. The battles of Bull Run have energized groups whose loyalty is with the south such as the Sons of Liberty. Austrian expatriate Union assistant provost marshal Captain Branden Rolfe, a firm believe that slavery is an abomination, worries that the rebel loving Sons of Liberty are about to do something to insure the state goes Confederate. He tries to penetrate their cloak with spies and capture their leaders. However, so far the key person Langdon Everett remains free to continue to push his belief in "plantationism"; the only way the south can economically survive which also provides protection of those childish incompetent darkies. Everett wants an insurrection while Rolfe wants secure northern loyalties. These two ideologues will soon clash. This is a superb Civil War thriller that brings to life perhaps the key strategically located border state just after the failures of the Union army. The story line combines real events with deep characterizations especially the two adversaries who seem heading towards a showdown. Fans of historical fiction will want to read this excellent fresh take on the Civil War.

Ken Bruen
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312327307 $12.95, 208 pp.

In London, Desk Sergeant Doyle receives the call about the bomb at the Paradise Cinema just before the explosion. The caller tells to cop to provide $300K or more bombs will ignite. The bomb was amateurish consisting of two sticks of dynamite and a simple timer with no one hurt. The second bomb a few days later proved a bit more sophisticated but still amateurish, but the extortion demand doubled. While the cops like crazy Detective Sergeant Brant search for the bomber, Angie James and her associates the Cross brothers keep the blitz on by raising the ante with each new explosive incident. Angie also works on recruiting disaffected cop P.C. Falls upset for not receiving a promotion. As Brant and James head towards a collision, no one knows who of these two who feel so much alike yet think so differently than most people will survive. The macabre fascinating Angie freshens the series with her inability to comprehend in terms of right or wrong but instead she feels life is for feeling good and to do that takes her into the realm of the criminal. Readers will enjoy her cat and mouse game with the cops with tough guy Brant her only competition. The story line is a combination of a police procedural enhanced by the sociopath subplot. Ken Bruen combines that into a terrific thriller starring two adversaries and a support cast burned by contact with either of them.

Irish Gilt
Ralph McInerny
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312336888 $23.95, 240 pp.

South Bend, Indiana is known as the home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Brotherly private investigators Roger and Phil Knight love the college atmosphere, the sports, and the occasional intrigue. Roger, recently appointed to the Huneker Chair in the Catholic Studies Department, teaches a course on the renowned Father John Zahm, a Renaissance man who many believe found the legendary El Dorado Mine. However, Roger nd his students are not the only people interested in Zahm. Alumni Boris Henry possesses Zahm's diaries that provide clues to the El Dorado Mine. He wants to mount an expedition that he hopes will lead to a center based on Zahm's works. Another alumnus Xavier Killock is also interested in finding the El Dorado Mine; Boris believes Xavier stole the diaries from him, but if he did he will not be able to confess as someone killed him. The tour of the famous university will be enjoyed not just by alumni, but also fans of teams who until recent years spent many a defeat in Rockne Stadium. The who-done-it is fun to follow as Ralph McInerny provides lots of misdirection, which also turns into to many dead ended sidebars. Still this is a pleasant read in an amiable series.

Gagged & Bound
Natasha Cooper
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349211 $24.95, 352 pp.

New House of Lords member Simon "Baiborn" Tick sues renowned biographer Beatrice Bowman for claiming he was one of the terrorists who killed a bus filled with children three decades ago. Beatrice insists she is right and hires London barrister Trish Maguire to represent her against Simon's libel suit. At the same time Trish's friend, Police Inspector Caro Lyalt faces a moral dilemma about a rival competing for a job that she wants. Apparently rumors abound that a London crime family is making payoffs to a certain police offer. The accusations have not been proven so if false it would destroy both careers anyway; hers for being a snitch and her opponent by innuendo. On the other hand if true, she will not be able to sleep at night if she remained silent. Caro assists Trish with information on the thirty year old deadly bombing attack while the barrister seeks evidence to either confirm or deny the mob tie. GAGGED & BOUND is a terrific English legal thriller starring one of the better protagonists of recent years. The story line is fast-paced as readers observe Trish struggling at home with George while working on the libel case and trying to assist her best friend Caro with her quandary. Fans will appreciate this fine tale with an intriguing final twist about justice.

Getting Hers
Donna Hill
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312281943 $19.95, 212 pp.

The three successful business women had never met when they were at the top of their respective game. Tess McDonald managed a highly respected escort service; Nikki Perez was a sleuth; Kim Sheppard-Benning had built the successful Sheppard Enterprises and had a wonderful spouse. All three meet after their lives already crashed when the elevator in the building housing their gynecologist gets stuck for several hours. They exchange names and tales. Tess lost her business to her twin who arranged a police raid; Nikki was convicted of a crime her former lover committed and spent time behind bars; Kim's husband is suing for divorce and demands control of their business or else he will reveal her deepest secret to the media. The trio forms a sisterhood to avenge the affronts they suffered from so called loved ones. These three tough sisters from different walks of life and races make a bond that will intrigue the audience as they avenge the wrongs done to each of them. The story line is driven by the trio as their exchanges are fun to follow starting with the chocolate incident in the elevator and ending with one more item to clean up. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of merciless hurt women fighting back after facing a near ten count.

Evan Blessed
Rhys Bowen
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312332068 $23.95, 246 pp.

Detective Constable Evan Evans knows first hand what it means to move someone as he has lugged the junk (don't tell her that) of his fianc?e Bronwen up Mount Snowdon's mountainside to their cottage. On one of his treks he meets Paul Upfield, who says he is searching for his seventeen year old girlfriend Shannon Parkinson who he raced ahead of hiking down the mountainside; she never caught up and he never found her when he turned back to look. Instead of finding the missing teen, the K-9 dogs uncover a concealed underground bunker including handcuffs hanging down from a ceiling beam. Soon Evan begins receiving sheet music containing enigmatic clues. The police struggle with too many people and no viable suspect. While Evan continues his investigation, a strange twist occurs when Bronwen disappears with the music writer sending notes that she is now a prisoner. Whereas before he was duty intense to rescue the girl now he is obsessed to save his beloved and the teen. The long running Evan Evans' police procedural is refreshed with this fine cat and mouse tale as this time the case turns personal. The story line grips the audience from the beginning when a frantic Paul explains to Evan that his girlfriend is lost on Snowdon and never takes time off as the hero begins to believe he is the ultimate target in a cat and mouse encounter. Rhys Bowen shows why she is one of the best mystery writers today with this excellent tale.

Breaking Faith
Jo Bannister
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312343019 $24.95

In Dimmock, England, Brodie Farrell, who runs the business Looking for Something? explains to her friend nerdy Daniel Hood what demon rock is. Her current client, demon rock star Jared Fry, lead singer of the Souls for Satan, is proving impossible to satisfy as even realtors failed to come up with the right home for him, but for 2.5 million pounds she will find Dracula a blood bank. Thankfully Jared's manager Eric Chandos is working with Brodie although they must adhere to the rock star's impossible mega list. They find the perfect place, a rundown former inn changed into flats, The Diligence although Jared whines that he needs a pool. A builder begins digging up the ground only to find a Jane Doe who has been buried for several years. The locals assume that the corpse is either runaway Sasha Wade or Michelle Rollins who allegedly left town with a truck driver. Brodie's lover, Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon investigates while she goes undercover with Eric. This is an intriguing English police procedural in which the interaction of the cast to include the almost decade old deceased is more interesting than the investigation. The story line follows Brodie who is attracted to Eric though she is seeing Jack while her best friend Daniel wants to keep her safe though she probably could take him. Throw in eccentric suspects on top of zany outsiders and the audience will have a fun time while pondering who at the climax will end up in bed with Brodie rather than wondering who the killer is.

Killer Cocktail
Sheryl J. Anderson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312319444 $24.95

Molly Forrester has mixed feelings about her recently solving the murder of her boss (see KILLER HEELS) because she believes that should have been her meal ticket to real journalism. However, resolving the case failed to get her from under writing the Zeitgeist magazine advice column, but on the other hand besides proving her capabilities she met NYPD Detective Kyle Edwards, the hunk who saved her life. She wonders if she just suffers from hero worship as opposed to love as her brain seems to consist of one icon Kyle. One of her best friends, event planner Trish Vincent pleads with Molly to learn who killed her brother's fianc?e, wannabe actress Lisbet McCandless at their engagement party. Apparently someone smashed Lisbett's head with a champagne bottle at the Hamptons home of Trish's aunt. Feeling this will keep her mind off of obsessing over Kyle and enable her to play hard to get when he calls, Molly makes inquiries by interviewing those who attended the gala. Her efforts result in someone trying to kill her with Kyle as the only reason she remains alive. Though difficult to accept that Trish would ask Molly to investigate an open homicide and that the reporter agreed to do so after her harrowing experience, fans will enjoy this chick lit amateur sleuth tale. The story line is a lighthearted romp as Molly gets into trouble with a Southampton police hunk, her fantasy male Kyle, and a killer. Readers who enjoy a breezy late summer read will appreciate the zany antics of Molly on Long Island.

First Drop
Zoe Sharp
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312341695 $23.95, 304 pp.

Body guard Charlie Fox leaves England for Florida to protect fifteen year old Trey Pelzner, the son of a software company director, Keith. Currently in her fourth day on the job, she baby sits Trey with a trip to Adventure World which is why she feels like puking as they ride the roller coaster for the fifth time together; that is not even the dangerous Demon ride. When Charlie sees a man heading towards her charge, she charges at full speed to stop him. Charlie keeps them safe as the man fires at them. Her calls to the Pelzner home and to her security teammates including her former lover and boss Sean Meyer go unanswered. She realized the adversary was one of the "cops" who escorted Charlie home after he was picked up for shoplifting. Feeling all alone and not sure who to trust, Charlie and Trey are on the run as the enemy encircles them as if they are sitting ducks in a wintry pond. FIRST DROP is an exciting suspense thriller starring a very competent individual struggling in a foreign territory with no help in sight against powerful enemies while having no idea who they are. Throwing her off kilter is that the person who shot at them is the same cop who brought home Trey when he was caught shoplifting. The story line is action-packed with the audience reading FIRST DROP in one sitting to see how Charlie extracts herself and her charge from what seems inevitable capture or death.

To the Limit
Cindy Gerard
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312990928 $6.99, 352 pp.

In West Palm beach, Florida at 1:00 in the morning, personal security specialist Eve Garrett wonders where teenage heiress Tiffany Clayborne is. The young woman hysterically called Eve to meet her in the nasty rainstorm, but she is no where in sight. Eve only came for Tiff when they bonded three years ago while she was a Secret Service agent protecting her, which she did when an assailant tried to get to Tiff. Impatient Eve goes out of her car only to be accosted by a thug who before knocking her out whispers "You're dead. You just don't know it yet. The next night though still sore, Eve searches for Tiff at some of the popular night spots when she runs into the last man that she wants to meet alone, Tyler "Mac" McClain. Fourteen years ago they were hot lovers, but he left her without a look back. He explains that Tiff's dad Jeremy hired him to find her before she does something stupid that the media learns about and then portrays her as rich bimbo to the world. Eve believes Tiff is in trouble. When a bomb nearly kills her followed by other attempts on her life, Eve reluctantly agrees to team up with Mac in search of the missing teen. The second bodyguard romance (see TO THE EDGE) is a super action-packed investigative thriller starring two capable individuals who have a history that they must overcome if they are to locate and perhaps rescue the missing teen let alone find a future together. Love is not the issue between them; nor is attraction and desire. Instead the two obstinate heroes take each TO THE LIMIT as they battle one another for the top position.

Too Hot to Handle
Cheryl Holt
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312937970 $6.99, 352 pp.

In 1813, when her odious cousin Reginald demands she marries him Emily Barnett was going to do her duty and wed him though she did not like him until she learns he plans to ship her blind widow sister Mary to an asylum and do who knows what to her nine years old niece Rose. Emily fakes her references and visits a rake, Earl Michael Farrow, who needs a governess for his two wards. While waiting her interview she drinks too much spiked punch and though she is not in red as he expected he interviews her for the position of mistress, which he has had plenty of hands on applicants. After realizing his error, Michael hires Emily as a governess and allows her sister and niece to live with her. As he tries to persuade Emily to fill two jobs, he falls in love with her; she fell in love when they first met while she was intoxicated. However, he does not believe he deserves the happiness she offers him as everyone except his only friend believes he is a killer who got away with murder. This is a fun regency romance that starts off with a comedy of errors and turns into a wonderful amusing battle of the sexes. Emily is terrific as a courageous individual going after what she believes is right whether it is protecting her relatives or trying to persuade the man she loves they belong together. Michael is stubborn, unable to accept that anyone even the woman he loves will believe he killed no one. Cheryl Holt provides a delightful historical with a slight twist as to whom really killed poor Pamela.

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
Carolly Erickson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337086 $24.95, 352 pp.

In 1769, Father Kunibert demands that thirteen years old Archduchess Maria Antonia called Antoinette to confess her sins by writing them down in a journal. Thus starts a record of her life through her eyes that she maintains until her last entry while residing in Conciergie Prison in Oct 1793. Early on at fourteen, she is to save Austria by marrying the Bourbon heir to the throne of France. Over the next two decades she takes lovers, but supports her husband King Louis XVI. When the peasants storm the palace, she is as unprepared as the other nobles especially her spouse. As she realizes they will get their pint of blood and more, she keeps her head up until she meets Madam Guillotine. Using real historical events over the latter half of the eighteenth century, Carolly Erickson provides a provocative fictionalized autobiography of Marie Antoinette. Fans obtain a taste of how the royal court perceived life including their take on the peasant class. Though there is too much titillating tease about Maria's affairs that takes away from the insightful look at the events and misinterpretation of these incidents that lead to the downfall of royalty, THE HIDDEN DIARY OF MARIE ANTOINETTE remains a fine work of historical fiction.

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-second Annual Collection
Gardner Dozois (editor)
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312336608 $19.95, 662 pp.

Each year this series is always one of the best anthologies on the market as evidenced by the numerous awards including several over the last year. As always the compilation provides readers with insight into what is happening in the genre. The twenty-eight chosen tales run the gamut displaying a widening genre that proves no boundaries exist except that of the imagination. The stories are all well written and fun to read especially contrasting styles and sub-genres. Of most interest to at least this reader is the increase of contributions that initially appeared on-line; fans will be hard pressed to figure out which first appeared in electronic media vs. print without the insightful introduction that laments th e slow decline of publications. As usual Mr. Dozois does his terrific yeomen job (sort of reminding this reviewer he and me need to get a life beyond the classic bookworm) of bringing together a broad sample of science fiction that showcases the trends of 2004 inside of superb tales.

The Iron Girl
Ellen Hart
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312317492 $24.95, 352 pp.

Now that Kenzie is in Jane Lawless's life, she is so grateful to have found love for the second time after a ten year hiatus she gets up the nerve to go through her dead lover's things in order to put Christine in the past. She is shocked to find a gun in Christine's briefcase and when a friend brings over a statue that she was to give to Jane ten years ago but forgot all about it until now, Jane realizes both things were the property of the Simoneau family. Christine worked for Bill McBride of McBride Realty and she was selling the property of Bernadette Simoneau who moved with her son Philip into the family mansion. Not long before Christine died, the matriarch, Philip and the cook were murdered. The handy man was convicted of the crime. After visiting the black man in prison Jane believes that he is innocent; she starts asking questions in the hopes of finding the real murderers because she believes Christine would want her to do this. The reader sees flashbacks of the last weeks of Christine's life and how she came into possession of the gun and the statue. They also read about the revelation about Christine's death and how heart wrenching it is for the two lovers to acknowledge this. In the present, Jane meets Greta who could pass for Christine's double propping pictures of Jane's new restaurant. Jane's friend believes Greta has a motive for crossing Jane's path and the reader slowly began to believe it too, but wonder why. The decade old triple homicide was constructed with several suspects who had a motive and the opportunity to kill the victims. Ellen Hart has written one of the best novels of her career.

The Girl in the Green Glass Mirror
Elizabeth McGregor
ISBN: 055380359X $24.00

Art appraiser Catherine Sergeant thought their marriage was perfect until her husband Robert left her without warning just vanishing. Feeling betrayed and unable to confide in anyone even her friend and partner Amanda, she turns even deeper into her fixation, Victorian painter Richard Dadd, who spent four decades in Bedlam after slicing his father's throat with a knife that he insists Osiris told him to do to free his sire; there he painted his masterpieces. That helps a bit, but not much as she still mourns the loss of her relationship. Fleeing from London to Dorset to find solace, Catherine meets architect John Brigham, two decades older than her. They find commonality when she learns he is the grandson of the attendant at the insane asylum that housed Dadd. He not only knows a lot of insider information on the crazed artist, but owns several works. John insists that Catherine resembles a character in one of the paintings he possesses. As they begin to have an affair, Catherine learns that her lover suffers from heart disease that will soon prove fatal. THE GIRL IN THE GREEN GLASS MIRROR is a remarkable tale that contains a strong lead protagonist and a powerful support cast in London and Dorset that enables further insight into Catherine or to a lesser degree John. A subplot that takes the audience inside 1840s Bedlam is a stunner that will horrify the audience. Though the climax starring John's sister Helen in a key role seems contrived fans of character driven novels that focus on the arts will appreciate Elizabeth McGregor's portrait of an obsessed woman in trouble.

Dancing on Thorns
Rebecca Horsfall
ISBN: 0345479785 $23.95

Only sixteen and his promise as a classical dancer already seems lost as his teachers at the Academie in Paris have given up on him and worse so has he. Jean-Baptiste St. Michel's dream of proving to his renowned dancer-choreographer father that he is worthy appears doomed to failure as his techniques are imperfect until the internationally once famous aging Nadia Petrovna arrives for two weeks of escape from bills to the place she first achieved acclaim. She brings him back to London and arranges for her ingenious protege Charles Crown, head of the Islington Ballet, to tutor the teen. Over the enxt few years, Michel works on his craft to become a star under the demanding tutlege. He also becomes the center of the troupe that includes Jonni Kendal. They are attracted to one another immediately and marry, but he is unable to provide any true emotion to their relationship as the dance is everything. In spite of success and marriage to a nice sweet person, Michel remains discontented as he still fails to achieve his objective of parental approval. This is a terrific dance saga that though Michel is the prima donna contains side tales of several other key players so that the prime cast seems genuine whether it is a scorning father, a cold mother, a nurturing yet demanding teacher or a sweet wannabe actress. Still the in spite of the powerful characterizations, ballet is the star of this five star production. Readers will appreciate this strong look over several years that look deep inside life of a classical dancer and those in his sphere.

Among Grizzlies: Living with Wild Bears in Alaska
Timothy Treadwell and Jewel Palovak
ISBN: 0345426053 $14.00

This is a reprint of the intriguing autobiography of Timothy Treadwell who found a new life living AMONG GRIZZLIES every summer for thirteen years in Alaska's Katmai National Park until he was killed there by his beloved bears in 2003. Mr. Treadwell explained how he fled a drug filled life in Los Angeles to find renewal of the spirit amidst the bears that he loved. The book is well written providing insight into a controversial figure loved by many for his courage and hated by others for his claim as a grizzly guru by daring to reside inside the "grizzly maze." Fans of nature tales or National Geographic will want to read this delightful autobiography and a wonderful companion piece, THE GRIZZLY MAZE by Nick Jans that follows up on the life and death of Timothy Treadwell.

Wedding Day
Catherine Alliott
ISBN: 0345462823 $13.95

Annabel "Annie" O'Harran has raised her daughter Flora by herself ever since she dumped her womanizing spouse Adam. She vowed never again would she fall for another man until she met kindhearted and patient (no pun intended) Dr. David Palmer. They are marrying at the end of the summer, but first she must finish writing her book. David persuades her to go use crazy Aunt Gertrude's vacant home in Cornwall where she will find peace and quiet. The only problem with the hideaway is Aunt Gertrude. She has rented the place to visiting American hunk Matt Malone. He is only the first in what seems like an endless queue as Annie's sister Clare and her crew arrive to use the beach followed by Adam and his young girlfriend. However, Matt is the one causing Annie trouble because she wants him instead of David in her bed, but she also does not want to cheat on the kind doctor who has given her a reason to live again. Of course he is in a custody fight with his ex-wife Madeline over young Tod and cannot afford a diversion. This will either be the greatest or worst summer of her life. As the doorbell kept ringing at Annie's getaway, this reviewer kept thinking of the cabin scene in A Night at the Opera. That sets the tone of an amusing yet deep look at modern day extended families. Annie is the center that keeps the story line together while the ensemble cast feels like real people whose prime role is enhancing the heroine (some might say harassing her). Fans of contemporary character studies will enjoy this detoured trek towards the altar.

Cold Truth
Mariah Stewart
ISBN: 0345476654 $6.99, 400 pp.

Twenty-six years have passed since the horror, but Cassandra "Cass" Burke will never forget. When she was six, someone killed her family, but made one mistake; the assailant thought she was dead too. Rookie police officer Craig Denver comforted the child and over the tears provided support to her. For the past decade, Cass has served as a cop turned detective with Bowers Inlet, New Jersey, headed by Craig. Suddenly in the past week four homicides occurred by the same person who has taunted Craig with notes just like the Bayside Strangler did twenty plus years ago. Craig and Cass know they are out of their league so ask for help from the FBI. Special Agent Rick Cisco works with Cass and Denver while Special Agent Mitchell Peyton is dispatched to the home of writer Regan Landry, daughter of a recently famous bestselling true crime author to see if he had information on the Bayside Strangler and hopefully a lead to stop Bowers Inlet killer. Though this is the first novel of the Truth mini series, Mariah Stewart's fans will recognize some of the law enforcement characters from the previous Dead tale leading to the feeling that crime never sleeps. The story line is action-packed as the beleaguered local cops and their outside allies struggle with time slipping into the future summer tourist rush, which could mean an exponential increase in homicides. There is romance in the tale, but that takes a back seat to a strong serial killer police procedural that will leave Ms. Stewart's grateful but frightened audience leaving lights on 24/7.

Angels in the Gloom
Anne Perry
ISBN: 0345456564 $25.95, 352 pp.

In March 1916 in the icy mud that separated the trenches, several British soldiers raided the nearby German forces; two failed to return with one dead, but the other Tucky Nann apparently is alive. Protestant chaplain Captain Joseph Reavley finds the badly injured Tucky andmoves him to bring him safely to his side. However, before he can make it, a shell exploded nearby sending Joseph into severe pain and immediately thereafter unconsciousness. He awakens with a horrendous headache and other pain as Surgeon Cavan explains he has a broken arm, a badly injured leg and lost plenty of blood. He is sent to his Cambridgeshire hometown for surgery and recuperation. However, rest is not what Joseph will find as he soon becomes embroiled in trying to stop the diabolically clever plot of the Peacemaker to forge an Anglo-German Empire that would dominate the world for centuries. ANGELS IN THE GLOOM is a fabulous historical thriller that is at its best on the not so quiet Western Front as readers taste the horrific conditions that the soldiers faced during the trench warfare. When the tale returns to idyllic Cambridgeshire and the London nightlife, it remains quite intriguing with the comparison between those at home enjoying nightclubs and those at the front or like dedicated Joseph recovering from war injuries. As the story line twists into a murder mystery with a conspiratorial twist, the plot remains exciting and action-packed but loses some of its grittiness. Still Anne Perry provides a fine World War I tale with her latest Reavley caper.

Perfect Nightmare
John Saul
ISBN: 0345467310 $25.95, 352 pp.

Attorney Steve Marshall is exhausted from his daily commute from his home in Camden Green, Long Island to his firm in Manhattan so he and his wife agree to relocate to the Big Apple. While Kara seeks a brownstone for them to live in, their teenage daughter Lindsay objects as she expects to be named the high school head cheerleader; besides why would she leave suburbia and her friends for the dirty city. A psychopath recently burned down the home of Patrick Shields, a Marshall neighbor, killing his wife and two daughters. This maniac targets Lindsay next using a realtor open house to enter the Marshall home on two occasions for initial reconnaissance and finally the abduction of the teen. Stunned Steve buries himself in his work and frantic Kara tries to recruit her neighbors and the media to help her find her missing daughter while police sergeant Andrew Grant assumes she is another run away. The story line explodes early into a tense thriller, but in spite of several homicides, once the audience meets up front and personal the psychopath he seems tame especially dealing with his teenage female prisoners; his threats towards Lindsay appear ineffectual and empty even as he murders strangers. Still John Saul provides an interesting tale because of the reactions of Lindsay's parents. Her father buries himself in the sands of work while her lioness mother recruits an army to search for her cub.

Without a Word
Carol Lea Benjamin
ISBN: 0060539011 $23.95, 288 pp.

Five years two months and eleven day ago, Sally Spector was walking Roy the family pet when she vanished. Her daughter Madison has not spoken since her mother disappeared and is the prime suspect of murdering her doctor for causing a drooping eyelid. Though hurt by his wife's abandonment, Leon is more worried over his daughter; he concludes that Madison needs to see that her mother is okay if she is to start to heal. In Manhattan's Washington Square Park, Leon sees Rachel Alexander walking her pit bull Dashiel a former therapy dog. He asks for her help in finding his missing wife and mother to his shell shocked daughter. Seeing father and daughter wear deep psychological wounds from the abandonment, Rachel agrees to help starting with Dashiel offering friendship to the distraught girl. As Rachel investigates the disappearance and the homicide, she soon learns that the doctor's mistress apparently committed suicide. Rachel knows this is too coincidental to be happenchance; she wonders who connects a mute frightened girl, her doctor, and his mistress for that missing link is the killer. WITHOUT A WORD is a remarkable private investigative tale because the prime cast members seem genuine and the events quite plausible. The hearts of readers will go out to the silent sad little murder suspect who as Rachel digs deeper into the case it seems increasingly likely she committed the homicide though the sleuth's gut and Dash's opinion evidence by his actions towards Madison speak otherwise. Fans will be fully entertained as Rachel works the missing mommy inquiry for a fee and the murder investigation pro bono for a little girl who has touched her soul.

The Killing Art
Jonathan Santlofer
ISBN: 0060541075 $24.95, 352 pp.

Former NYPD detective Kate McKinnon quit the force after her husband was murdered to become an art historian. She was drawn back into police work when art and murder intersected in the cases of the DEATH ARTIST and the COLOR BLIND. Now she is writing a book about the New York School of abstract impressionists of the 1930's and 1940's like Phillip Zander. One of the paintings Kate donated to the Modernist Museum was slashed beyond repair and she later finds out that a Jackson Pollack painting was defaced in the sane manner a few weeks earlier. The same person ruins a Kline painting at the home of Kate's friends the Starnetts and kills the male member of the twosome. Kate is once again drawn into a murder case. The killer strikes three more times leaving a clue each time. Even when various police departments and the FBI finally believe they know who the killer was after he died in a shoot out, Kate is convinced that the person was not a murderer just a thief and con man. Acting on a hunch, she enters a scenario where innocent people could die. Jonathan Santlofer has written an exiting crime thriller that focuses on the cliques, petty jealousies and the competition for attention that is prevalent in the art world. The small paintings that contain the clue the killer sends to the victims are placed in various chapters in the book giving the plot an artsy feel and makes the reader feel that they are part of the investigation. The protagonist is a strong woman still recovering from the death of her husband but is determined so make a new life for herself. Readers with will eagerly await her next adventure.

And Only To Deceive
Tasha Alexander
ISBN: 0060756713 $23.95, 320 pp.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Viscount Philip Ashton proposes marriage to intelligent Emily, who accepts not because of love, wealth or title, but to escape her nagging mother who wants her wedded to an aristocrat. Emily assumes Philip has to be better than mom besides he is always overseas hunting on a safari anyway. Six months later, Emily learns that her husband died in Africa. She inherits a lot of money and his family insists she stay in their home. Eighteen months later Philip's friend Colin Hargreaves mentions a Greek villa on Santorini in the Aegean Sea and how much her late husband loved her. Trying to avoid her marriage minded mother again, she decides to follow up on Philip's love of Ancient Greece; she begins an odyssey that takes her to her late spouse's island home and his collection. As she learns more about antiquities encouraged by Colin, Emily realizes someone is stealing the originals and replacing them with well done forgeries. Unable to resist she begins investigating knowing the danger she will be in from hard core collectors. Emily was already a feisty independent soul when she decides to conduct her investigations first into the life of her spouse that she did not know well and then into what was happening to his prized possessions. Her willingness to take risks allows her to escape the prison that Victorian society has on women as embodied by her mother's view on marriage. The who-done-it is well designed and fun to follow, but that also enhances a solid look at a spirited soul who makes Tasha Alexander's historical mystery terrific.

Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 006051518X $26.95

The West African spider-trickster god Anansi in an incarnation as Mr. Nancy has died and was buried in Florida. He left behind an adult son Fat Charlie in England. Ironically Charlie is not overweight but instead is a half god who lost part of himself due to a grudge and a curse. His other part is Charlie's unknown brother Spider. Spider tricks Tiger and ends up gaining control of all the stories in the world as well as a deadly enemy who wants to kill him whether he is reincarnation of Anansi or just a demi God. Using animistic magic, Spider flees to England where he meets his sibling's fianc?e Rosie and odious boss, Grahame. Being a trickster, this is not a joyful encounter as Spider steals Rosie from Fat Charlie and causes troubles for his brother with Grahame. Meanwhile Tiger is coming to regain the stories stolen from him and if killing two brothers and other innocent people will achieve his goal so be it. Sort of a loose sequel to the AMERICAN GODS, ANANSI BOYS is a fine fantasy tale that combines myths from different cultures. The story line is much more complex than what is presented above, but Neil Gaiman keeps his subplots straight, ultimately tying back together in a final High Noon confrontation in which the power of story-telling is the real magic. Mr. Gaiman's fans from novels and comic books will take immense delight in his latest wild thriller.

The Woman Who Married a Bear
John Straley
ISBN: 156947401X $12.00

In Sitka hard boiled drinker Cecil Younger sits outside the Alaskan state run Pioneer Home for the elderly without any money and no idea what happened to his credit card. He cannot afford the ferry to leave town and wonders what cure to try next to battle alcoholism as only Haiku writing so far has helped a little. Cecil blames or thanks his drinking problem depending on how many he already has on his wife deserting him. When his potential client Mrs. Victor finishes her breakfast Cecil enters the facility to talk with her. The elderly Tlingit woman hires Cecil to learn the whole truth why someone killed her son Louis, a big-game guide; she rejects the official position that a crazy man convicted of the murder committed the crime. Needing to escape his troubles and knowing the irony of taking on The Brown Bear Man Case, Cecil agrees to investigate to help the grieving mom get some closure though he expects to find nothing different until someone tries to shoot him. Cecil travels to Juneau and Anchorage to talk with family members and hunting guides not realizing that opening up this solved case could lead to a second murder, his. THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED A BEAR is a terrific Alaskan private investigative tale that grips the audience on several fronts. Readers will appreciate the fallen hero struggling to regain some of his self esteem, but not always succeeding. Cecil's inquiries are electrifying as the suspense mounts with every new person he questions and his tour of Alaska enhances the excitement. Readers will welcome John Straley as a super addition to the forty-ninth state mystery pantheon.

Call to the Hunt
Steven E. Wedel
Scrybe Press
15 Cook St, Massena, NY 13662
ISBN: 1933274050 $10.00, 112 pp.

Fans of werewolf thrillers will want to howl with this strong twelve story compilation. Most of the tales are set in the eighteenth century, which Steven E. Wedel uses to deftly portray an eerie environs in spite of commonly known American historical events like an escaped slave , life on the frontier with the Sioux, or the battle of Saratoga. Seven of the contributions star Josef Ulrik, an interesting lycanthrope who steals the show even when the competition is the queen of howling Shara Wellington. For the most part the tales are serious with Sunday Dentistry more a tongue in cheek tale. Readers will feast on this fabulous journey into the world wild werewolves and latent lycanthropic who prove to the enthralled audience that Mr. Wedel knows his subject while also wondering if this author takes the full moon off.

Fiesta Moon
Linda Windsor
WestBow Press
ISBN: 0785260633 $13.99

At Madison Engineering, CEO Blaine Madison lectures his brother Mark for his third DUI offense. Tired of his sibling's shenanigans Blaine offers Mark a deal; if he brings in the hacienda contract on time and sober, he can take over the on-site management of their projects. Mark readily agrees as he wants to travel anyway while wondering why Blaine prefers to stay home with his wife and children. Corinne Diaz came to Mexicalli, seeking information on her biological mother at the last known place she lived. She works at the Hoger de los Ninos orphanage at the local orphanage when Mark arrives to take charge of the renovation project. Corinne thinks very little of the alcoholic hedonist though she is attracted to him. He wants her too, but hates the scorn in her eyes. Matchmaking them is a haunted piglet who adopted Mark as her pet. However, what begins to bring the two outsiders together besides a deep attraction is someone, perhaps a voodoo practitioner, who wants the project stopped and them out of town. Mark is an interesting character who all his compared unfavorably to his successful siblings, using charm with no substance to compete. However, Corinne, who initially write him off as a playboy with no core, begins to see little things in him based on his interactions with the children and his piglet; she encourages him and the underachiever begins to accomplish the mission. That Pygmalion Effect transition is the key to the inspirational romance FIESTA MOON; a fine Moonstruck tale filled with humor and a serious undercurrent that the locals believe is a voodoo curse on Mark while he deems that he is simply doing God's work.

Servant of the Shard
R.A. Salvatore
Wizards of the Coast
ISBN: 0786939508 $7.99, 384 pp.

In Calimport, Artemis Entreri heads the powerful House Basadoni, but is concerned that his secret sponsor Jarlaxle the drow is increasingly descending under the control of Crenshinibon, the Crystal Shard. If Jarlaxle falls, he will be replaced by one of his second in command either Kimmuriel or Rai-guy; both of whom hate Entreri and will remove him from leadership. Though visibly worried that others notice that the ice cold killer seems almost frightened, Entreri refuses to sit idly by and watch his plans vanish and perhaps even his life. He concludes that he must insure that his surreptitious mentor remains in charge of the drow. To do that, he must evade the number two drows and Jarlaxle while finding a way to neutralize the Crenshinibon's control over his superior. However, to attempt this means risking the chance he too could become a SERVANT OF THE SHARD, a fate worse than death, but perhaps better then listening to Cadderly and Danica preach. The key players in the power struggle make for a strong Forgotten Realms fantasy as each competes for power. Thus Enreri, a few of his closest associates and the three head Drows come across as fully developed characters that turn SERVANT OF THE SHARD into a winning tale. Interestingly the fast-paced novel slows down a bit when the morally correct Cadderly and his wife spout their pious ramblings that enable them to claim God's will while torturing their enemy. Readers will appreciate this fine reprint of Book 1 of the Sellswords series in which the "bad" dudes win out as complete characters over the shallow "good" guys similar to the first Star Wars movie with Darth or Solo vs. Luke).

Someplace to Be Flying
Charles de Lint
ISBN: 076530757X $14.95

In 1996 Newford, Canada cab driver Hank leaves his vehicle to stop a man beating up a woman in a nearby alley. The Good Samaritan takes a bullet in his shoulder for his efforts with the assailant apparently ready to kill him. Instead a girl comes off the roof and somehow kills the punk. She licks her fingers and touches Hank's wound with her moisturized fingers before running off. His shoulder immediately fully heals. Both Hank and the initial victim photojournalist Lily are stunned by the turn of events. Hank and Lily have had their initial encounter with the immortal "First People," a hybrid human-animal mix. The two shocked humans soon meet other strange individuals like Jack and Kerry, who both differently shun the "normal" world. The humans soon join the hunt by members of the First People to find the object that created the world, "Raven's pot", for war is brewing and the winner is assured if they obtain possession of this magical artifact. Newford fans of course will appreciate this fine urban fantasy, but so will anyone who enjoys a strong tale with intriguing characters regardless of whether they are human or out of mythos. Jack and Lily are fabulous opposites who come together in search of the First People and soon begin a quest to find the Raven's Pot so it does not get into wrong hands. Though allegedly targeting high school readers, Charles de Lint's latest tale is urban fantasy at is best that all genre fans will enjoy.

The Protector's War
S.M. Stirling
ISBN: 0451460464 $24.95, 496 pp.

It has been nine years since the Change has rendered technology obsolete. There is no more electricity, guns are obsolete and the world has devolved into a feudal society. In the Wilmette Valley in Oregon Michael Havel's Bear Killers, a tribal community, and Clan McKenzie led by Juniper McKenzie have organized the people into a farming community, giving land and livestock in return for loyalty to the leaders. Norman Arminger is their greatest enemy who loathes what they have built. He is a former medieval historian who has formed a society based on Norman culture which includes the building of castles that will protect his people in the coming war. In a stroke of luck, Arminger's daughter is taken by clan McKenzie. Sir Nigel, who helped King Charles bring England back from the brink of extinction, had to leave his country in a hurry because he dared to question his liege's decisions. He makes his home with Clan McKenzie who the beautiful leader believes will play an important role in the upcoming war. It's hard to imagine a world where something destroyed Earth's technology which resulted in the deaths of billions of people due to famine, fire and plague. Yet S.M. Stirling places such an apocalyptical event on human scale so readers get a picture of what such a world be like. This is a dark gritty world yet the people are determined to rebuild and cooperate to ensure their survival. The villain in this exciting and well constructed work of speculative fiction is the type of that emerges whenever a crisis allows him to seize control of events. Readers will eagerly await the next work in the stunning series.

King's Blood
Judith Tarr
ISBN: 0451460456 $16.00, 384 pp.

When the Saxons converted to Christianity, the Old Magic of Britain that kept it alive started dying. When the Norman conquerors came, Britain for a time began to heal because William and his wife followed the Old Ways. When Mathilda died, William turned his back on magic and with his death, a king sits on the throne who can see but wants nothing to do with magic. The darkness is spreading again and the magic is dying out. The guardians are short one number because a priest denies the Old Ways and follows Christianity. The princess of Scotland, Edith, and Prince Henry, the English king's brother, are filled with and accept the magic that is a part of them. With England under siege from all sides the time is coming for a great sacrifice that if not made will cause Britain to suffer the same fate as Atlantis. Judith Tarr weaves a web of historical facts and imbues them with a touch of enchantment so that a pivotal event in history is made possible by sorcery. This glimpse into a past that once existed comes about because many minor magical rites and especially one major one cause the essential moment that magic made history. This romantic fantasy is full of action, otherworldly creatures and the need for the champions to prove brave and victorious otherwise Britain will be destroyed.

Daughter of the Ancients
Carol Berg
ISBN: 0451460421 $7.99, 544 pp.

Gerick can never forget his time spent as a Lord of Zhev'Na especially the unspeakable acts he committed during that period. Freed by his father, he spends his time in the Bounded, a realm he created out of the chaos of the Breach between the world of Gondai, where everyone uses magic and the mundane world of Valleor. Out of the desert in Gondai comes the woman D'Sanya claiming to be the daughter of King D'Arnath who died one thousand years ago. Her reputation spreads as she heals people who are dying and the land that was destroyed in the war with the Zhev'Na. The people want her to be crowned the queen and for Prince Vam'Dar step down. He loathes doing so because he isn't sure if he can trust Lady D'Sanya. He convinces Gerick and his dying father to work undercover to see if her claims are true. While Gerick spends time with her and falls a little in love with her, the world of Gondai is once more under attack by the Zhid, soulless creatures in thrall to the Lords. With the Lords dead, it becomes imperative to find out who is controlling them before another war destroys the land. Garick has an important role to play in the final battle but first he must learn and accept the truth of Lady D'Sanya. This is the fourth and final book in THE BRIDGE OF D'ARNATH saga and it ties up all the loose ends, answers all the questions readers may have and finally shows where Gerick's true loyalties lie once he is again exposed to the magical instrument of the dead Lords. Carol Berg has written an exciting, ensorcelling and enthralling fantasy saga on a par with The Lord of The Rings and The Sword of Shannara.

Bear Daughter
Judith Berman
ISBN: 0441013228 $15.00, 432 pp.

One day Cloud wakes up to find she is a twelve year old human girl and no longer the bear she once was. Her mother Thrush is glad to see her daughter take human form but her husband King Rumble of Sandspit Town is horrified and banishes her from her mother's home. She goes to stay with Aunt Glory who tells her she must visit the seer Winter in Whale Town. Rumble tries to kill her and sends his wizard to make sure she never comes home again. She makes her way to Winter and her husband the wizard Otter who tells her she is half mortal and half divine, a fact that scares her because her father is one of the First People who walked the Earth as a Bear who killed many people. Rumble who loved Thrush, Blush's mother, rescued her and killed her father and brothers and bound their bones together so they cannot be reborn. They cry out to Blush in her dreams and she undergoes many dangerous adventures to undo what Rumble has done and in the process accepts herself and her dual nature. This is a delightfully imaginative world where magic exists and is used the way people in our world use machinery. The protagonist travels through many realms and sees wondrous sights but she doesn't have time to enjoy any of them because she is in constant danger and must keep on the move. Readers will empathize with her fears and hope she finds peace in a world that treats her like an outcast.

Songs of Victory
Loren L. Coleman
ISBN: 0441013104 $6.99, 324 pp.

Conan, the Cimmerian who became 'king of another realm' was a legend in his own time. However, there were other warriors of Cimmeria who were as brave and strong as Conan. They too did their best to keep their land safe from the Vinir and their masters the Ymirish who came from the North to conquer and settle the lands. They are led by the giant Grimnir, the son of the god Ymir who is invulnerable in battle. Only Kern Wolf-Eye, an outcast from the clan, ever hurt him and the giant wants his revenge. While the Vinir and Ymirish are using various techniques to get the clans fighting among themselves, Kern is traveling the breadth and width of Cimmeria hoping to unite the clans against a common enemy. It is when Kern exposes one of the most powerful clan chiefs as a shapeshifting ally of the Ymirish do the clans put aside their differences to fight as one against the enemy. In the end it is Kern who will face off against Grimnir with the winner of their battle deciding the fate of Cimmeria for years to come. The protagonist, who looks like the Ymirish with their soldier eyes and inability to stay warm, doesn't let the fact that he looks like the enemy stop him from going to battle against them even as his own clan fears him and casts him out. There is plenty of action in this swords and sorcery tale but the true magic of this story lies in one man's courage to go against his heritage and fight to keep Cimmeria free even if it means his death.

Song In The Dark
P.N. Elrod
ISBN: 0441013236 $24.95, 384 pp.

After being tortured for over an hour and being skinned alive, vampire Jack Fleming, owner of the nightclub Lady Crymsyn, in Chicago of 1938 is recovered physically but is an emotional wreck. He can't hypnotize anyone without getting a vicious headache. He has uncontrollable muscle spasms and an unholy thirst for blood to drink. He is afraid if he is with his girlfriend Bobbie, he will be unable to control his bloodlust so he keeps his distance from her at a time he needs her most. His friend, mob boss Gordy is sick and while he recovers, Jack takes his place. A New York Crime lord is in Chicago to hear why Jack killed the man who tortured him before bumping off Jack. The vampire risks the headache and hypnotizes him into becoming his friend. When the lead singer at and his ex wife are both murdered, Jack resolves to find the killer. When a mob war breaks out Jack has to watch his back from his enemies because in his present condition he could be killed and in a horrible twist, his greatest enemy uses Bobbie to bring him to his knees. P.N. Elrod has written another exciting vampire crime thriller featuring an immortal but not invulnerable protagonist who suffers from panic attacks because of lingering psychological trauma. This vulnerability makes Jack even more of an endearing character in the tradition of Heathcliffe. The infighting in Chicago is very realistic in an Al Capone sort of way. Only Jack limits the violence as much as possible. This long running series just keeps getting better and better.

War Surf
M.M. Buckner
ISBN: 0441013201 $7.99

In 2253, after almost two and a half centuries of living, Nasir Deepra is bored. The wealthy exec knows all the NEM treatments and replacement parts make him almost immortal, but nothing helps with the tedium until recently. For a couple of centuries he and fellow Agonists (Verinne, Kat, Winston, and Grunze) took pleasure jumping into the middle of the small wars between the workers and the Corporatists that they broadcasted live on the Net, but even with side wagers that has become dull. The exception occurred five years ago when he met physical therapist Sheeba Zee. He obsessively needs her though he hides his feeling from his Agonist teammates. Nasir and Grunze interfere in another battle, but this time the former calls Sheeba to make an appointment to see her in the midst of the action. When the scenario turns dangerous, he forgets to shut down the communication device so that Sheeba hears everything. As Sheeba learns her best client's darkest secrets, she seduces him to come with her to Heaven; though he goes with her over the objection of his four partners, Nasir knows this stop might prove his hell if he lives long enough to talk about it. M.M. Buckner's fabulous futuristic tale focuses on an intriguing "young" man who has found extended life exceedingly boring instead of addicting. The story line is character driven though the action is powerful and vivid. Readers will understand the subtle differences between the two century plus old quintet in comparison to twenty-something Sheeba. Fans will appreciate the other side of near immortality as the Paul Revere and the Raiders words "kicks keep getting harder to find" seem apropos.

Paths Not Taken
Simon R. Green
ISBN: 0441013198 $6.99, 272 pp.

In the place know as the known as the Nightside, a realm in another dimension that can be accessed in London, the name John Taylor means apprehension to the denizen of the magical area. Residents of the perpetual three in the morning locale are divided when it comes to whether John is a while knight or evil, but all fear him. His supporters feel that this sleuth is the next monarch while his detractors want this Abomination dead. Recently John has his worst nightmare has turned real. He dreamt that his magical home was a wasteland with everyone dead all because he sought to meet his mother. Now he knows his mother Lilith, Adam's first wife, created Nightside as a haven from the Heaven-Hell eternal war, but she is back and since he knows who she is so the beginning of the end has started unless John can find away to prevent the pending disaster. He visits Old father Time so he can travel back to the beginnings when Lilith created Nightside or perhaps earlier before she was exiled form the Garden. Somewhere back in time he must confront her knowing that even if he wins he may not return to see his victory. The fifth Nightside tale is a fantastic fantasy with some mystery, but less than usual, to enhance the tale. The story line is action-packed from the moment that John realizes by learning the identity of his mother, who has just returned to Darkside after eons away, the nightmare that he has feared for seemingly ever has been set in motion. John is at his best in this fabulous entry that easily stands alone yet newcomers will seek Simon R. Green's previous four thrillers.

Mistaken Identity
Josh McDowell & Ed Stewart
Green Key
The Resource Agency
616 Bradley Court, Franklin, TN 37067
ISBN: 1932587632 $13.99, 308 pp.

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

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

White Lotus: A Journal of Haiku & Senryu Poetry
Fall/Winter 2005, Issue #1
Shadow Poetry
"White Lotus Magazine"
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024 USA
ISSN 1556-3979
Subscription rate $14 US; $16 CAN; $20 International
Individual copies $7.95 US; $8.95 CAN; $9.95 International

When White Lotus arrived in the mail, I simply held in it my hands for several moments. From the cover alone I knew it was a labor of love. Cover art sets the tone for any book or journal. This cover, front and back, reflects the eloquent simplicity I found within. Inside are small visions of man's universe, fleeting bits of life recorded in haiku or senryu by twenty-four contributors. And scattered throughout are beautiful drawings by talented artists, evocative of and aesthetically connected to the verses.

I must confess to knowing very little about haiku, senryu, or haibun. This journal educated me in so many delightful ways. Simply stated, haiku concerns nature and senryu human nature. Haibun is a combination of prose and haiku. I randomly chose several samples from White Lotus to demonstrate its content and examples of haiku and senryu:

white lotus
behind a veil of green
the blushing bride
by Robin M. Buehler

over marsh marigolds
the shadow of a hawk
as it circles
by Emily Romano

missing you --
I drop each bread crumb
a little closer
by Robert Mestre

soup line --
a tattered child makes
the first snow angel

by Kathy Lippard Cobb

In addition to verse, White Lotus features informative, provocative haibun and an interview with Stanford M. Forrester. Forrester is past President of The Haiku Society of America, a poet, and a frequent judge of haiku competitions. Submission guidelines are clearly stated for both White Lotus and Shadow Poetry's Zen Garden Haiku contest.

By every possible measure, White Lotus lives up to its promise. I congratulate Shadow Poetry for creating this beautiful journal. It's an island of peace, a haven from our stressful world. As a journal, White Lotus is highly recommended.

A.D.D. and Me: Attention Deficit Disorder from a Child's Viewpoint
Debra L. Hall
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
ISBN 142084721X $12.25 22 page

This beautiful book is a must have for school counselors, psychologists, parents, or anyone who needs to understand Attention Deficit Disorder. Full of bright colors and positive messages, A.D.D. and Me is appropriate for all ages, including small children. This book is more than simply helpful and informative. It's a success story blueprint for anyone who reads it. A portion of the proceeds will go to C.H.A.D.D.

In 1976, Travis Hall was born into a loving, nurturing family. As Travis grew, he had difficulty concentrating, completing tasks, and interacting effectively with others. Concerned teachers wondered why he couldn't remember instructions or "settle down" and pay attention. Travis struggled due to his confusion and anger at needing constant reminders to complete simple, everyday tasks.

His parents soon learned to accentuate the positive accomplishments instead of dwelling on the negative behaviors. Travis is wonderfully gifted in many ways. His colorful drawings recreated in this book are proof of that. He is a handsome, physically healthy, and intelligent boy. Over time, Ms. Hall built on Travis' strong points with positive messages. The Halls also learned that hereditary traits often are a cause of A.D.D. With patience, understanding, and encouragement the adults in his life eased Travis towards adulthood.

Any parent, relative, teacher, counselor, psychologist, or child dealing with A.D.D. will benefit from this book. I will repeat that this book is beautiful, helpful, and wise, written from Travis Hall's point of view. When I called A.D.D. and Me a blueprint for success, I was not exaggerating. Travis Hall is a winner in every way. Highly recommended for all age groups.

The Skull: a novel in Tales of the Hall series
Tom Eagan
Aran Press
1036 So. 5th Street, Louisville KY 40203
ISBN 0966158873 $24.95 384 pages

This fifth in the Tales of the Hall series is innovative, colorful, humorous, and just a touch dark. Eagan calls himself a "hackmeister" but he's anything but that. He excels at serio-comic parables of our modern world and rich characterizations of the often bizarre people whose foibles make up humankind. I keep waiting for him to be "discovered" by the media. Imagine a Quentin Tarantino film, black and dramatically devastating, starring every major comedic talent of our time.

Bob Schaad is a River City attorney who seems to be forever in the spotlight, even in his dreams. Schaad is an enigmatic man who fears he has become a caricature without dignity among his peers. His clients never seem to have the means to pay his fees. He drives a battered clunker of a car; his suits look like he slept in them, which is often the case. Still, he sails through his daily court appearances with panache.

When an old client, Bobby Jo Cratchit, is arrested for assault in Bone County, Schaad sallies forth to defend him. Cratchit is a long time thief who wouldn't deliberately harm anyone. But his oldest daughter, the first Cratchit who ever "had a brain" -- nicknamed The Skull -- is dead from suspected suicide and the grieving father blames her biology teacher. He's attacked his daughter's High School biology teacher and beaten him to a pulp. Schaad knows there must be more to the story than simple assault and sets out to find the proof needed to clear his client.

Presiding Judge Beltcher hopes for just one interesting case before his tenure in Bone County ends. He gets what he hoped for when Schaad and Cratchit come into his court. Prosecutor Henry Doorman is wet behind the ears and no match for Schaad's defense shenanigans, so enlists attorney / icon Don Heavrin to assist. What ensues is a riotously funny and surprisingly poignant portrayal of the law and what it has become in America today.

As his defense tactic, Schaad invokes the theory of evolution. It's a case of Intelligent Design vs. Darwin's theory as Schaad pursues the Scopes trial in reverse. In one of the most interesting closings I've ever experienced, Schaad hits his stride by waxing eloquent on the topics of philosophy, abortion, euthanasia, man's law vs. God's, and other hot button issues of the modern era. The bottom line is a teenage girl is dead due to the failings of her school system and a grief stricken father attacked the teacher who failed her.

Tom Eagan writes with intelligence and passion in equal portions. His characters are endearing, charismatic and colorful. The story is engrossing and gains momentum as Schaad systematically skewers every failing known to man and modern law. The author clearly understands human imperfections, yet creates each character and scenario with compassion. Eagan's work stands out because of its complexity, humor, and stark reflections of human life as we know it.

Small Press Verse & Poeticonjectures
Alessio Zanelli
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113-1513
ISBN 1401068308 $20.99
ISBN 1401068316 $30.99 156 pp

Alessio Zanelli is a prolific Italian poet who creates in his second language, English. That fact alone is impressive, but is just the beginning of his accomplishments. Zanelli is making a name for himself internationally. His work has been featured in journals originating in Australia, Canada, Iceland, UK, US, and others at the time of this review. His poetry contemplates life, love, loss, the environment, the stablizing influence of family, and does so with passion.

Old World rhythms often accentuate his words in pleasing ways, as in this excerpt from "Dedi":

Wiser would you have been
Had you never stolen
The richest sighs from me
Together with my only treasure.

In a surprisingly tender remembrance, "Mom's Dad Bigio", Zanelli portrays his grandfather as talented pianist, lover of wine, and a man forced to entertain the Nazis in his home while his wife and children hid themselves away. War's impact on three generations is clear in this excerpt:

.....My mom's dad Bigio
Is said to have had large hands and
A heart so big! Then why is it
That mine are not as big?
I have no music in my fingers.
I don't drink to excess.
I have no kids to feed,
Nor the SS reveling at home.

Zanelli is a world traveler whose fascination with the history of American Indians lends poignant power to his words. Consider this excerpt from "I Once Met a Man in Navajoland":

I have seen -- sunk into your eyes --
The Spirit of a great man, of an entire nation.
But now you poorly earn your living
By selling pendants of stone on the fringe of Grand Canyon.
When it is the time, man, I --
Who live six thousand miles away,
On the other side of the large sea
That you have never even seen --
I would like my soul to ride with yours....

Another tribute to America and her indigenous people is the haunting and beautiful "I've Seen." This poem does not lend itself well to excerpt. I tried because it's a favorite, but choosing small portions of it detracts from the whole experience. In "Dineh Ritual of Recall", Zanelli witnesses a Navajo ritual:

Sort of a privileged intruder -- now I too can
Perceive the raped earth's wail. Vacant-looking
Faces transmit memories and deliver places'
Quiddity. Being native slithers into me.

In his quest to provide readers with worthy contemplations, Zanelli often plays with words and meanings in charming ways, such as in this excerpt from "Nightsough":

The night is a youngling
Still afraid of the sonance
of her supreme sough....

While sharing his poetic tales of America, the Scottish Highlands, or his native Italy, Zanelli communicates a world view. And whether musing on the brutalities of life or the sweet balm of forgiveness, this poet's voice rings true.

Barbara Crooker
Word Press
P.O. Box 541106, Cincinnat OH 45254-1106
ISBN 1932339914 $17.00 soft cover plus 5.00 s & h 84 pages

Barbara Crooker has won or been nominated for more prestigious poetry awards than I have room to list in this review. Word Press is a publisher with a primary submission guideline of poetic excellence. Radiance is the winner of the Word Press First Book Prize. While reading Crooker's beautiful poetry, I decided her association with Word Press must have been predestined in the stars.

Crooker's poetry is easily understood, coming straight at readers from the heart and marrow. In this excerpt from "Autism Poem: The Grid", for example, she contemplates her autistic son's view of the world:

What does he see in his world, where geometry
is more beautiful than a human face?
Given chalk, he draws shapes on the driveway:
pentagons, hexagons, rectangles, squares.
The spider's web is a grid,
transecting the garden in equal parts.

Her technique of occasionally continuing the poem from its title was new to me, and quite appealing. A personal favorite is "Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself":

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry......

This poet skillfully creates magic out of the mundane. Consider this excerpt from "Possibly":

When I left Pennsylvania, spring was still scuffing her feet,
scarf muffled around her neck, duffle coat buttoned up tight,
the ground still hard as a calculus textbook, grass infinite
shades of dun and tan...

Crooker's poems often reflect a graceful blending of bitter and sweet, light and dark. In evidence of that statement, I offer "White Lilacs, after a painting by Eduoard Manet" in its entirety:

When the world
was reduced to a black flag
of pain, what else could he do
but paint flowers, white
lilacs in a crystal vase,
prismatic in the May sunlight,
their heavy perfume
filling the room?

And what can I do
when my autistic son
shuts down, talks nonsense,
flicks and stims?
I want to go out
and swim in this river
of drenching scent,
so thick you could lick it
from the air. I'd like to shrink
to the size of a raindrop,
make my home on this branch
of white clusters, let the ether
of their odor anesthetize the evening,
a field of blank white snow.

Hers is a world of impressionistic beauty, generously shared. She gives us "bruise-blue irises that wince against the yellow wall" and "white blossoms, festive as brides." With her we hear "dogwoods sing loud hosannas" and "notes turned liquid in the autumn sun." Each word and every phrase is carefully combined for our pleasure or understanding of Crooker's world, much like the impressionist artists created paintings dot by precious dot. Her poetry paints rich word canvases, glorious as an Old Master in his prime. Radiance is highly recommended.

Threads From a Coat of Many Colors: Poems on Genesis
Yakov Azriel
Time Being Books
10411 Clayton Road, St. Louis MO 63131
ISBN 1568091001 $14.95 115 pages

Yakov Azriel is an award winning poet who lives in Israel. This first full length book is a shining example of why his tenderly crafted work wins awards. As he leads readers step by step through the book of Genesis, God's words and covenants come to life in human form. And yet, it isn't necessary that we be Jewish, Christian, or religious to appreciate Azriel's poetry. His blending of modern day humanity with the ancient historical icons of Genesis is that skillful.

Scriptures from Genesis introduce each poem, starting with the Creation and ending with Joseph's Coat of Many Colors. Each poem, regardless of topic, melds the modern with the historical in insightful ways. Consider, for example, this excerpt from "Questions for Eve":

Why did you talk to the serpent?
Don't you know that even then he was planning the gas chambers,
Blueprinting the crematoria?
How can a mother be so naieve?
Snakes devour
Dust, like the cinder
Of children belched from the chimneys.
Lucky you -- only one son will be murdered.

And in "The Ark", Noah's ark becomes a metaphor for man, whose body and spirit seek safe haven from life's trials:

Oh, God, don't let me go under.
Save this vessel from shipwreck;
Keep it sound and in one piece,
One peace.
Don't let this boat just drift,
But help us reach dry land and home port;
The mountain of Your resting place.

Azriel uses various poetic forms, from formal rhyme to free verse to haunting metaphor as he shares the Song of Songs and the Generations of Jacob. One of the most chilling works in this book, and ultimately the most glorious, is "As the Stars, As the Sand", based on God's promise to ancient Israel in Genesis 22:17: "For I will surely bless you and surely multiply your seed, as the stars of the heavens and as the sand on the sea-shore." Excerpts do not do this beautiful poem justice. Nevertheless, I feel the need to share a small part of it:

Hiking to Jerusalem, I met a woman with weathered hands
Who recommended visiting Eilat,
Where waters, skies, sands
When we parted, we shook hands.
I saw tatooed in blue on her arm:
I pulled out my blue passport, to be sure:

We grains of sand crawl homeward
Across the empty withered wasteland of Europe.
Our feet limp as we sing without music,
Unheard by all
Except the unseen stars,
Stars blotted out in the leer of the noontime desert sun.

Threads From a Coat of Many Colors is a wistful paean, a universal spirit prayer carried on hot desert winds. Azriel transports us to a time of miracles and promises, detailing a rich history we all share in one way or another. This book is highly recommended.

Pardonable Lies: a Maisie Dobbs Novel
Jacqueline Winspear
Henry Holt and Co.
175 5th Ave., New York NY 10010
ISBN 0805078975 $23.00 325 pages

This is the third in Winspear's award winning Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Mystery fans who have not yet discovered Maisie Dobbs would be well advised to correct that oversight! This author's writing is first rate and Maisie Dobbs is a deliciously detailed heroine.

In the Fall of 1930, London is mired in economic Depression. And England's citizens have never quite recovered from World War I, including Maisie Dobbs. She still struggles with her experiences as a nurse at the Front. The man she loved in wartime is little more than a vegetable confined to a wheelchair. And her mother's untimely death haunts Maisie's thoughts, asleep or awake. Still, her work as an Investigator / Psychologist keeps her focused and busy as she pursues a cautious relationship with a devoted admirer, Dr. Andrew Dene. Maisie Dobbs is plucky, determined, and has become a skillful investigator in her own right. She'll need every ounce of courage and skill she possesses to survive the case that unexpectedly presents itself.

Sir Cecil Lawton QC is a legal miracle worker and one of the great orators of his time. He promises his wife on her death bed to search for proof of their son Ralph's death. Sir Cecil hires Maisie to investigate the fiery airplane crash in France to prove Ralph dead. In exchange, Maisie agrees to halve her fee if Sir Cecil will defend an innocent, imprisoned girl awaiting trial for murder. While Maisie follows one intriguing lead after another in her search for evidence of Ralph Lawton's death, her assistant Billy Beale seeks information to bolster her belief that an innocent girl has been wrongly accused of murder.

To complicate the investigation into Ralph Lawton's death, long time friend Priscilla begs Maisie to find information about her brother Peter. Soon, Maisie's educated hunches and focused search for clues lead her to believe that the disappearance of both men is related. After several attempts on her life, Maisie is convinced that someone powerful wishes to prevent a firm conclusion of her investigation. The list of suspects is painful to contemplate because it includes her old friend and mentor, Maurice Blanche.

Why would investigating the death of two brave soldiers lost to war move anyone to kill her? Once Maisie ties up all loose ends to her investigation, the truth is shocking and poignant. Should she reveal the utter truth, or are a few "pardonable lies" in order?

This book is a delightful read in every way. It's a crackerjack mystery, written by a skillful writer. The characters seemed like real people; they were that well-developed and appealing. Winspear creates an interesting and believable milieu for her characters and provides fascinating details of the era following World War I. Such details add to, and do not in any way detract from, the mystery and plot development. I applaud Ms. Winspear and her intriguing heroine. The possibilities for this series are endless, and wonderful to contemplate.

Kaddish Diary
Sean M. Teaford
Pudding House Publications
81 Shadymere Lane, Columbus OH 43213
ISBN 1589983637 $8.95 25 page chapbook

Pudding House is an exemplary publisher of notable poetry, which they call "limited edition fine art." Sean M. Teaford is a gifted poet. That these two came together to produce Kaddish Diary is a blessing. Teaford is a young American living in Bryn Mawr, PA, far removed from the stark horrors of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, reading Janusz Korczak's Ghetto Diary inspired a creative spark in this young poet that goes well beyond empathy. Korczak and the children he cared for and taught at a Polish orphanage during the Holocaust are a forgotten part of history. Teaford's Kaddish -- his haunting affirmations of their lives -- memorializes and sanctifies their existence in words both beautiful and chilling.

Plucking bits of Korczak's diary, Teaford brings small moments of that awful world to life. This excerpt from "Teaching His Children" took this well fed American to Korczak's makeshift classroom, where I looked on in shame and sorrow:

Korczak knew he was slowly
losing his children.

Before occupation, the children
were disciplined for pencils
chewed in boredom.
Now, sounds of gnawing wood
were ignored. The doctor knew
that it could be the only thing
they would have to eat that day.

Korczak often wrote in pencil through the night while his charges were sleeping. An assistant typed his notes and kept his own thoughts private. The images invoked by this small excerpt from "The Assistant's Diary: August 4th 1942" are effectively conveyed in a few well-chosen words:

Amidst the children's
cacaphony of coughs,
the typewriter keys popped
with every staggered finger stroke
like moist maple wood in a flame.

Korczak and his children are destined for Treblinka's ovens. He knows that for a certainty. He has written his diary, recorded their existence for future generations to acknowledge. "A Pure Breath" is his Kaddish, his affirmation of their lives. I quote Teaford's poem in its entirety. To do otherwise might dilute its message:

The boy pushed away sleep and,
blinking his silent eyes in the candlelight,
he listened to Korczak's voice.

Echoing above the soldier's
ash-muffled steps, the only
sound in the camp was
the doctor's paper cracking
like a stiff flag in a sharp
breeze as he chiseled lead
onto what was once white.

Despite his arthritic fingers,
he had written hundreds of
pages in the ghetto;
but these were the first
curled letters of his Kaddish.
This was his last leaf of script;
the last journal entry which
would never leave his hand.

This was his voice that would rain
down with his body and
rest in the lungs of Treblinka.

Neither Korczak nor his orphans survived to see the end of the war. But sixty years after war's end, a young poet's words have given those innocent victims of Nazi horror new life. Sean M. Teaford has the sort of power poets crave, the power to touch hearts, capture moments, and express the often inexpressible. For devotees of fine poetry, this chapbook is a must read, must have.

Flaw in the Tapestry
Joyce S. Anderson
PO Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 1413764878 $19.95 236 pages

Joyce Anderson states in her press release that she prefers to write "about and for women." Her first book, Courage in High Heels, was non-fiction, the true life story of eight remarkable women. This second book is fiction, but with the distinct intelligence of well researched non fiction. Anderson's writing style is crisp and clean, her characters well developed and sympathetic.

The central characters in Flaw in the Tapestry are three generations of uncommon women. Annie Bertman has what most women would view as a storybook marriage. Her children are accomplished, living productive, stable lives. She's successful in her career as a freelance writer, and her husband is an OB/GYN practitioner who loves her devotedly after 37 years of marriage. At age 62 she's still healthy, fit, and attractive. Annie has never dreamed of having an affair, until she meets a handsome artist at the fitness center. Everything she ever valued -- home, family, husband -- has been safely compartmentalized until Mark Trianos becomes her lover.

Annie's mother, Ruth Schaeffer, is 87 years old and a role model for her family. This lively widow and retired teacher enjoys a wide circle of friends, varied interests and social activities. She stays mentally and physically active. Ruth loves the metaphorical in life and is creating her granddaughter a needlepoint tapestry with a deliberate flaw in its border. Life, after all, is flawed. Humans are flawed. Only God is perfect. The tapestry represents Ruth's metaphorical message for her granddaughter.

Annie's daughter Tessa is a lawyer juggling family and work with long commutes into the city by train. Her long term plan is to make partner at the small but prestigious law firm where she works. Both Tessa and her husband are in their second marriages. Both are financially successful, sharing household chores and childcare duties for two children. When an unplanned pregnancy threatens Tessa's career plans, she considers abortion as an option despite her husband's objection.

This is a touching and realistic tale of three strong women, their trials and triumphs, and the men who love them. Each woman struggles with age related issues and personal views of what life should be. Through good times and bad, one constant remains: their love and devotion to each other. Like all good literary fiction, Flaw in the Tapestry has the clear ring of truth to it. It's a thoroughly engrossing read.

Tammy L. Boulds
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper WY 82605-1052
ISBN 1593742932 $12.95 239 pages
ISBN 1593742940 ebook $4.99

Briana is a lively western historical romance that fans of the genre should find well worth the read. The characters are larger than life in keeping with their Texas locations, and the romance deliciously spicy.

It takes hard work to keep the Silver Lining Ranch running, and Briana McBride does more than her share. Work rough hands and shabby work clothes successfully disguise her beauty. Briana is little more than a work horse on the ranch, while her step mother Victoria and step sister Tiffany live a pampered life of leisure. Victoria and Tiffany are a beautiful, conniving pair who make Briana's skin crawl. Her father Raymond caters to the pair while treating Briana -- his own flesh and blood -- like trash. Her one supportive friend is Miss Abby, the family cook and housekeeper.

Life has not been good for Briana since her mother's death. A recent series of odd accidents has left her bruised and distracted. When her father sends Briana to pick up the new foreman, life goes from bad to worse. Nick McMurtry comes to town smelling of whiskey. He's a widower in shambles, in need of drink at regular intervals to calm his shattered nerves. His only saving grace is a handsome, precocious three year old son who takes to Briana right away. And the boy is not the only one who sees beyond Briana's surface shabbiness. McMurtry rapidly progresses from initial attaction to the girl, to worry about her safety, to barely controllable desire. Briana is the first woman since his wife's death to spark hope and desire in Nick and he's not about to throw this chance away through drinking.

Nick traces down the reasons for Briana's rash of accidents. The truth is frightening and leaves the girl few options if she is to survive. Nick summons his Uncle Jake to help protect Briana, and in the process both men find love and renewed purpose.

I loved these characters. Nick and Briana are not perfect, but become so in each other's eyes. The romance is spicy and just right between these well matched lovers. Three year old Logan is a pure delight. Uncle Jake and Miss Abby are staunch, sensible allies. And the bad guys are very bad, deserving of the poetic justice dealt them in the end. Readers who enjoy western romance stories should give Briana a read.

Shades of Silence
Gloria Davidson Marlow
Authors Ink Books
PO Box 396, Sturgis Michigan 49091
ISBN 0972238565 $14.99 250 pages

Gloria Davidson Marlow excels at creating mysteries that make her fans shiver, coupled with delicious romance. Her heroines are strong, with human vulnerabilities, and the bad guys represent the sort of creeping evil that readers of the genre expect.

Sara Jennings has a gift. Since early childhood she's tapped into the emotions and inner experiences of others. Swirling colors, overpowering feelings, and stark visions often come with a touch of her hand. Sara is exhausted by such daily assaults on her senses and isolates herself in search of peace. When Drake Sexton seeks her out in hopes of helping his young daughter, Sara initially turns him away. Sexton is an angry, shattered man. His daughter Kelsey is trapped in horror after seeing her mother's death. She has not spoken in several years. Despite misgivings, Sara agrees to spend three months in the Sexton home to help Kelsey return to normal life.

Kelsey Sexton is a beautiful child who blossoms towards healing over time with Sara's help. And Drake Sexton cannot hide his need for tenderness and warmth from Sara's gift of seeing true emotions. Drake's dead wife Madeline was a classic beauty, an empty shell of a woman in life and a cold, haunting apparition in death. Her ghostly presence is evident in the house Drake built overlooking the ocean, and along the beach where she died. Sara quickly realizes that Madeline's death came as the result of murder, not suicide as she had been told. As she learns more about the Sextons, an unidentified evil gains power and momentum. And soon, everyone who knows the truth about Madeline's death is eliminated by her killer. Sara is in danger from the deadly stalker, whose image remains hidden from her. Complicating her situation is the growing love she feels for Drake.

Shades of Silence represents another successful Marlow excursion into passion and suspense. The mystery is chilling as Sara gradually learns the murderer's identity and motives. Sara's gift is harrowing and believably detailed. Drake Sexton is a sympathetic character, struggling to make sense out of a broken life. And Kelsey is a delightful child whose world is brightened by Sara's warm and compassionate personality. For readers of the mystery and romance genre, any book by Gloria Davidson Marlow should be a must read.

Molding 2
Bob Watkins, Eric Watkins, John Wheeler and Friends
Eric Watson -- Molding Music
529 Barrywood Drive, Nashville TN 37220
10 Tracks $10.00 plus s & h Purchase ID -- M-002

I've been a rock and roll fan since its inception. My friends and I were screaming in the audience for Jerry Lee Lewis, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly while fame was still their distant hope. From the beginning, rock and roll was heavily influenced by a country, bluegrass, jazz, and southern gospel music. Regardless of musical genre, the best always deliver to listeners a sense of raw wonder through imaginative instrumentals and vocals. The Beatles and the Stones had it; Alabama had it; and Molding has it.

Molding 2 features ten original tracks that demonstrate this group's range. One of my favorites, "Set Myself on Fire", has strong bluegrass leanings, as does another favorite, "Oklahoma Moon." The Watkins brother's father -- Nashville poet and musician Klyd Watkins -- does an entertaining turn as a radio preacher on "Oklahoma Moon." "Heavenly Wrecks" tells a Dylanesque story, but with a wider vocal range than Dylan. In fact, each Molding 2 track tells a story in song accompanied by acoustic or electric guitars, bluegrass fiddles, and drums. Each track is alternately tough, tender, or humorous and always featuring original, entertaining vocals. For me, the highlight of this CD was "Coffee Girls & The Suicide Shift." It not only tells a poignant story but its instrumentals are a perfect fit.

Molding delivers humor and energy in their music. I've never seen a live performance but this is one group out of Nashville I'd gladly pay to see.

Molding 3 -- a CD
Bob Watkins, Eric Watkins and Friends
Eric Watkins -- Molding Music
529 Barrywood Drive, Nashville TN 37220
11 tracks at 10.00 + s&h ID # M-003

Fans of this talented group may disagree with my opinion that Molding 3 is their best work yet. I'm certain it will earn a parental guidance rating. The lyrics are bold, unapologetically rated 'R', and backed by instrumentals that communicate a lusty sexuality both tough and tender. Bob and Eric Watkins share vocals and guitar. John Wheeler mans keyboard, guitar, fiddle, and vocals. June Kato is a pro on bass, and the same can be said for Terry Thomas on drums. Klyd Watkins' spoken poetry and Scott "Sweepy" Walker's blues harmonica contribute to the overall impact.

"Annie" kicks off Molding 3 with a frenetic energy. That rousing intro is followed by a reprise of Molding classic, "Jason LaFarge", a mellower, bluesier version of the original.

"Wyoming" is a personal favorite, a perfect blend of Watkins lyrics and instrumentals that tell a story of love gone wrong. The lyrics on this one are priceless, and will no doubt bring the house down in a live appearance.

"Phone Call" is quintessential Molding -- an addicting combination of vocal manipulation backed by powerful instrumental work -- the sort of sound that inspires candles in the dark in concert.

Track 5 is a social commentary, presented Watkins style: People are the root of all evil so you better learn to watch your ass "When People Get Involved."

"I Do" is another brilliant blending of lyrics, instrumentals, and musical genres, including fiddle work reminiscent of the best of Irish folk music.

"Against the Law" has all the earmarks of another Molding classic. Sweepy Walker's harmonica perfectly punctuates R-rated lyrics about a tumultuous male-female relationship. This one is "outlaw" music at its best. Waylon, Willie, and Hank Jr. would be proud.

"Deadbeat Sonic", with Klyd Watkins' haunting spoken poetry in the background and Molding's chilling instrumentals, could easily be the theme track for a Quentin Tarantino film.

"Song for You" is another favorite. The sound is sweet, lyrical, and lulled
me into a false complacency at first. And then the lyrics and instrumentals
slowly segued into a raw, angry edge.

"Hope for the World" wraps up Molding 3 with a retrospective of this country's violent past. The ending is a surprise. I won't tell you who or what provides hope for our world!

I'm convinced Molding can do any musical genre well. This CD showcases their ability to handle rock and roll, avant garde, bluegrass, blues, country and outlaw, folk, and other genres I can't name. Their sound is distinctive and explosive, lyrics straightforward and laced with expletives. I can only imagine what sort of riot they incite before a live audience. This talented group is highly recommended.

The Threef Project
C.H. Foertmeyer
2021 Pine Lake Rd. Suite 100, Lincoln NE 68512
ISBN 0595363083 $12.95 153 pages

C.H. Foertmeyer's ninth book is a departure from his previous genres of sci fi and fantasy. With The Threef Project, this prolific Cincinnati author tackles an action thriller at the encouragement of his fans. Foertmeyer fans won't be disappointed. This thriller is every bit as good as his award nominated sci fi / fantasy novels.

Dr. John Jennings is a small town family practice physician who loves his work and his life. Hatcher Creek Arkansas is a peaceful village, far removed from the traffic, noise, and polluted air of cities. Jennings, his wife Carrol, and children Timmy and Sally embark on their annual rough camping trip to a remote mountainous region not far from Hatcher Creek. The experience swiftly changes from idyllic recreation to danger when Jennings hikes to his favorite fishing lake in hopes of enjoying solitary time. He's driven into unfamiliar territory by a storm and takes refuge in a cave that smells strongly of exhaust fumes. Back at camp, his family sees an oil slick on a clear mountain stream. In Dr. Jennings' absence, his family is surrounded by men in military garb, blindfolded, and held hostage in an unknown location. The campsite is swept clean. An empty clearing greets Jennings on his return. He has no choice but to retrace his path in hopes the cave will yield clues to his family's disappearance.

When Jennings stumbles across the mountain home of Cordell Heartley, the odds of finding his missing family change to his favor. Heartley is a reclusive ex-Army Ranger, an experienced spelunker and warrior whose survival skills prove helpful to the bewildered Jennings. Using a natural underground cave system, they systematically track the smells of vehicle exhaust. What they find is is shocking, a hidden military project underground where SUVs are transformed into bombs destined for Iraq. Those involved are patriots of a different stripe than Heartley, playing a dangerous game without the knowledge of their government. From that initial discovery the game becomes straight arrow Rangers vs. a few bad apples as the danger level increases exponentially with passing time. Heartley's investigation takes him from Arkansas to New Orleans to Iraq as he calls in favors from old friends and military contacts to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. But the unprincipled predators hiding behind U.S. Army uniforms don't plan to give in without a fight. They'll eliminate Heartley if they have to, murder Jennings and his family if necessary to accomplish their illegal goals.

The Threef Project is fast paced and exciting. The plot is distinctive and definitely not a clone of every other action thriller out there. Heartley is a true patriot in the finest sense of the word, and John Jennings is a courageous common citizen caught in a frightening maze. This book is Foertmeyer's testament to the men of courage and honor -- both in and out of the military -- who love their country and do whatever it takes to protect it.

Final Decree: A Corie McKenna Mystery
Kay Finch
Top Publications, Ltd.
1221 Merit Dr. Suite 750, Dallas TX 75251
ISBN 1929976208 $14.95 279 pages

If this first novel is any indication, Kay Finch will soon be a familiar name to mystery fans everywhere. Plot development is first rate, her characters lively and believable. Adding distinctive flavor to this delightful mix is a little taste of Texas.

Private Investigator Corie McKenna is a thirty-something widow living and working in Houston. Since her husband's death in an explosion two years before, much of her energy is focused on avoiding men sent her way by a matchmaking mother. Her position as investigator for attorney Wade Alexander is simple and straightforward. She gets the goods on two-timing spouses, tracks down deadbeat dads, then goes home at the end of her day to a dog and an empty house. When Dr. Edward Kemp retains Alexander's firm to handle his divorce, Corie's investigative involvement is reluctant at best. Kemp is arrogant, foul tempered, and a pain in Corie's kiester from the start. Alexander assures Corie that Dr. Kemp is a good man who deserves custody of his young son, but her sympathies are with his beautiful young wife, Suzanna.

Corie tails Suzanna Kemp on her late night sortie to a warehouse in a rundown area of Houston. She's still questioning the purpose of that visit when Suzanna is gunned down from the shadows in her own driveway. All clues point to the unpleasant Dr. Kemp at first. Corie's dislike of the man, however, does not cloud her judgement or investigative focus. As she systematically follows minute clues from the warehouse to a strip club to Mexico, a troubling light dawns: Suzanna Kemp's murder is only the latest in a series that may be related to her husband's death.

Kay Finch's writing style is crisp and exhilarating. She pulled me into this story fast and kept me there through every twist and turn of plot. Corie McKenna is a gutsy character, a strong willed woman with charming foibles and vulnerabilities that add to her persona. A second in this series of Corie McKenna mysteries is coming soon, and I can't wait to read it.

The Black Silent
David Dun
Pinnacle Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022
ISBN 078601637X $6.99 479 pages

The Black Silent is a mystery action thriller that will have readers careening at a dizzying pace from first page to last. The plot is intelligent and plausible in ways that educate as well as entertain. The three main characters shine because Dun allows them human weaknesses and strengths. Page one of the Prologue sets a hair raising pace that does not let up throughout the book.

Someone wants Marine Biologist Ben Anderson dead. The project he's been working on for years could solve Earth's energy crisis, prolong human life, or extinguish life as we know it on this planet if it falls into the wrong hands. His discoveries are worth trillions. But Anderson is an idealist whose motives have nothing to do with money. To prevent his discoveries from being tainted, he's been negotiating with Big Government and predatory CEOs. Unscrupulous men want Ben Anderson's knowledge and don't care who they have to kill to possess it.

Ben Anderson is Haley Walther's adoptive father and mentor. Haley is a brilliant scientist in her own right, unexpectedly fired from the Sanker Corporation where she and Ben both worked. When Ben goes missing, the clues he leaves behind are cryptic and frightening. Haley needs help circumventing security protocols at Sanker and, whether she likes it or not, Ben's nephew, Sam Wintripp, is the only man she can trust. Sam and Haley have unresolved history between them, history that Sam believes is best forgotten.

Sam Wintripp is recuperating from devastating injuries that left him physically weakened and emotionally drained. He hopes the magnificent beauty and peaceful surroundings of the San Juan Islands will promote recovery and ease his physical and psychic pain. Sam is determined to leave a career of killing and covert ops behind, but Haley needs him to locate Ben Anderson. Sam can barely walk, and is no longer the focused operative he once was, but he protects Haley with what energy he has left as they fight to locate Ben.

Everyone who cares about Ben Anderson is relentlessly hounded by a vicious retired cop named Frick. Frick kills without compunction, because he enjoys maiming and murder. He's pathologically power-mad and hungry for the wealth Ben's discoveries will deliver. And nothing would please him more than to see Sam Wintripp and Haley Walther suffer a slow death at his hands. He plays a grueling cat and mouse game with the exhausted Sam and terrorizes Haley. Imported henchmen from Las Vegas assist Frick in his madness, but underestimate the combined skill and ability Sam and Haley bring to the chase. Sam may not be the physically powerful superhero he once was, but he's cunning and intelligent. And Haley is not the fragile female Frick imagines. She's an accomplished sailor and pilot who knows the San Juan islands well, and she's not about to let Frick win.

I read The Black Silent straight through because it was too exciting to put down. The scientific background information was fascinating and added greatly to this book's appeal. And the glorious Pacific Northwest provided haunting atmosphere. But it was the realistic characters as Dun created them that made this book for me. Are you listening, Hollywood? The Black Silent has "blockbuster movie" written all over it.

Michael Corrigan
Virtual Bookworm
P.O. Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
ISBN 1589397630 $13.95 224 pages

Michael Corrigan's third book is a noir action thriller, with plenty of action and enough excitement and intrigue to keep the pages turning. What sets this book apart from others of the genre is intelligent prose and appealing characters with human vulnerabilities who prove themselves under extraordinary conditions.

Byron Duffy has come to an uncomfortable juncture in his life. A man "past his prime for wooing women, no longer the dashing rogue", Byron finds himself recently divorced and facing unemployment. With typical wry humor, Byron wonders what a self-described "academic saddle tramp" will become without his position as a college English teacher in Pocatello. He's accustomed to defining the boundaries of his world in solitary pursuits by listening to the blues, reading Hemingway or Keats or Rilke, enjoying Nature in the wild Idaho back country. He's out of his element when a couple of his students lead him into a dangerous distraction.

Ted Bear is a student activist determined to reveal illegal toxic dumping and stop white supremacist activities in the area. Despite his initial reluctance, Byron finds himself drawn into conflicts between white supremacists, a suspicious red neck sheriff, drug dealers, the Mafia and the F.B.I. To complicate his world, Byron is falling in love. The quiet man and deep thinker who vowed to never fall in love again is making sweet music with Mary Goldstein -- an undercover F.B.I. agent -- in wild grasses on the Ft. Hall Reservation. Mary brings a dangerous edge to their affair. Soon he's up to his neck in an FBI investigation, tracking a marauding bear and having his life saved by a vengeful Indian Spirit Walker. Despite his doubts about himself, Byron Duffy measures up.

Let me reiterate that what sets Byron apart from other action thrillers is Corrigan's splendid use of descriptive prose. Through his eyes and words the Idaho wilderness becomes a living character. And the noir loneliness of Byron Duffy shines in a thousand different passages because Michael Corrigan knows how to tell a story:

"At the crossing, Byron watched the last train heading toward Pocatello. Trains always made him think of hoboes riding the rails, American isolation and loneliness celebrated by folk singers singing of poverty and lost love. It was a world of unrequited love, revenge, murder and characters with names like Staggalee and Pretty Polly. The train passed, light bringing up the brief images of trees and houses, the whistle coming back at him like a ghostly voice out of the darkness. Byron thought he saw a lone figure standing in the trees, but then the train was gone and the landscape vanished into darkness."


Reed Evan Richards works in Development and Alumni Relations at Vanderbilt University. He is also a poet, writer, and free lance photographer. I first discovered his poetry online at The Time Garden, then later read his poetry and short stories in Nashville Scene. Reed's writing has what I call a universal appeal. Most readers can relate to the style and substance of his writings in one way or another.

Laurel: When did you begin writing, Reed? Did your interest start as a result of attending college courses and creative writing workshops, or did the drive to write come earlier in life?

Reed: My dad was a junior high school English teacher, and when we kids were very young he used to read us a story every Saturday morning. They were his own favorites from the literature textbook he taught from, but they were excellent read-aloud stories for kids, "Split Cherry Tree" by Jesse Stuart, an autobiographical piece whose title I forget by Lincoln Steffens about getting a pony for Christmas, and everybody's favorite, "Rikki-Tikki- Tavi" by Kipling. Poetry came from my mom. I always loved nursery rhymes and still think they are some of the best poems there are. When I was in the first or second grade I wrote a poem about a meadowlark, based on what my mom told me the meadowlark's song meant: "Wake up! Spring's here!" My teacher liked it so much she showed it to the principal, who liked it so much he showed it to the district officers, who came to see me in school. I imagine they were disappointed to find a nerdy and painfully shy and tongue- tied kid who after all was probably not a genius. I, however, though I didn't have much to say to them, enjoyed the attention and decided that a writer was a pretty good thing to be. On the other hand, I always was and always will be pretty lazy. I read a lot and thought a lot about writing but did not write very much until I got in high school. I adored my eleventh grade English teacher and wanted to impress her as I had the district officers years before, so I started writing poetry again, not love poetry - I didn't have a crush on Mrs. Pearlman - just poetry. I found I wasn't half-bad and that I loved it - it was exciting, poetry was open to anything you could put in it. Best of all, Mrs. Pearlman liked what I wrote.

Laurel: An admiring peer speaks of "the distinctive bits of Reedness" in your work. That describes perfectly how I felt while reading your poetry and prose, like I knew you. You share yourself with readers. Your style is unique and accessible. How do your stories and poems come to you?

Reed: There's no one way. I remember a couple of poems starting as lines that came to me in the shower, which makes it ironic, since I was getting clean, that one poem was about a prostitute and the other was titled "Old Men Looking for Prostitutes." I don't spend time with prostitutes, but it interested me what it must be like to be one getting old. The second is about what it must be like to get old and have to lower your expectations from life and love. Another poem I dreamed during a troubled sleep. I woke myself up and wrote it down in about fifteen minutes and then couldn't get back to sleep because my imagination was so excited. I'd hate to live like that all the time.

I wrote a series of poems about the articles of clothing I might be wearing at any given time - shirt, pants, glasses, socks, shoes and cap, underwear. Just made myself sit down every few days and make a poem out of one of these items, spend a few days revising, and then draft a poem on the next item. They are funny and melancholy. Then I moved on to body parts - hair, teeth, knees, nose, nipples, navel - as a series, that one is unfinished.

I guess I could answer your question by saying poems come from showering, sleeping, wearing clothes, having a body. They also come from memory and from emotional events. One of my favorites is about finding a wounded dog and trying to help her and then losing her in the woods.

As far as stories, I can't think of any two I've written that have had the same kind of genesis, unless "what if?" counts as a genesis. A lot of them are first person "what ifs" - what if I were that guy I saw from the drug rehabilitation facility a few blocks away, riding a bike too small for him and wearing a heavy jacket in the middle of summer? What if I were a child molester who thinks his sexuality is a gift from God? What if my sister had been adopted? What if, when my sister had her miscarriage, a mysterious woman came to me in the night and told me about it? What if, instead of me being white and my cousins Mexican, my cousins were white and I were Mexican? What if I could prove my cousin was killed by a gay-basher?

Laurel: Is Nashville a poet and writer-friendly place? Do you participate in poetry readings and literary gatherings, for example? And how does the fact that you've won awards for writing impact your experience?

Reed: Nashville is right in the middle of the Bible Belt. The publishers here - and there are a lot of them - are mainly religious. Thomas Nelson is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) publishers of Bibles in the English- speaking world. Abingdon Press is Methodist. Ideals Magazine comes from Nashville. It would be safe to say that Nashville is a great place for religious writers. I am religious and active in my church, but I don't write for a religious market, so I don't have personal knowledge of what the opportunities in that market are really like here. I assume they must be good, but I don't think you have to live in Nashville to take advantage of them.

As far as newspapers and other periodicals are concerned, Nashville has only one daily paper, The Tennessean, whose quality has fallen considerably since the other, competing, paper went out of business eight or nine years ago. It's come a long way down from the paper that won a Pulitzer for its civil rights coverage in the early Sixties. The Tennessean barely recognizes any local culture outside of established groups and venues that are supported by high profile society types - symphony, opera, ballet, TPAC Repertory Theater. Pretty much, if it isn't downtown, it's nowhere. Of the three or four weekly papers, Nashville Scene is the most supportive of writers and musicians. Adam Ross, who was then features editor, established the Scene writing contest five years ago, and it has been a big success. Margaret Renkl, the book editor, has done a terrific job of pushing her agenda to have regular book reviews, and, of particular interest to me, a weekly personal essay.

When I first became interested in open mikes ten years ago there was one local poetry publication, The Beatlick Poetry News, put together with great care by Joe Speer and Pamela Hirst, which I think they mostly underwrote, though they charged a very small amount for it to cover at least some of their expenses. I'd had an idea to do something like that even before going to any open mikes. In fact, that's one of the main reasons I started going. It was clear that there was room for another poetry publication, and Joe and Pam, who were selflessly dedicated to the local poetry scene and who were poets themselves, encouraged it. I took the easy route of printing it all on one piece of paper, an 11x14 broadside, and putting it out as often as I felt like it. I called it Radio Beds, which earned me the nickname from Joe Speer of Radio Reed. I accepted and printed just about anything that was handed to me, so if the quality was not uniformly high, there was always a lot of variety. There was often artwork in the spaces between poems, usually by me, but sometimes solicited from poets at open mikes. Once I asked everybody to draw me a picture of a tree. One time I decided to do a theme issue and asked for poems of an erotic nature. I was surprised to discover that most people's sense of the dividing line between erotic and pornographic is not very sophisticated, if there's a dividing line at all. I felt like a prude, but I refused to prudishly turn anything down since I had solicited all the submissions. I usually left copies of Radio Beds at most of the local coffee houses, but that issue I only took to open mikes and charged a quarter for it so nobody could say they came across it by accident or didn't know what they were getting. It was probably actually the best issue, just not something I would show my mother. Radio Beds has been on hiatus for several years now. It got to be a hassle when Joe Speer, with all the best intentions but perhaps being more supportive than I needed him to be, started getting people from all over the country and even overseas to submit poems to me. I hadn't intended for it to be any bigger or more widely distributed than it was at the start.

Another arts publication started up a few years ago called Sensored. It was home-grown and desktop published, but quite advanced in format and reproduction values (they had color) compared to my sheet and the Beatlick newsletter. They had rock concert fundraisers and for a few years sponsored a contest covering writing and visual arts called The Starvies. Sensored is still around, but only online.

On the academic side, Nashville likes to style itself the "Athens of the South." That's partly in reference to the replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park, which I suspect is more a tribute to Victorian taste and maybe Southern pride than to ancient Greek values, which is not to say it's not a beautiful building. But "Athens of the South" is really supposed to mean that Nashville is a center of learning because of all the colleges and universities here. I supposed there are quite a few, though it has never seemed to me that it had an unusual number for a city its size. If Atlanta doesn't have at least as many colleges as Nashville, Atlanta should be ashamed. Anyway, I don't think cities that are truly academically distinguished tend to advertise it in neon lights. As far as I know, Boston doesn't call itself the Athens of the North. We do have Vanderbilt, which is highly rated. I think the English Department even now somewhat relies on its reputation as the home and source of the Fugitives, but that movement is far in the past. It shook up the critical world and produced one or two enduring poets - Warren and Ransom, maybe Tate - but the Fugitives' politics were nearly as well-known as their critical theories, and far less attractive, and the New Criticism that had such a profound effect on analytical method has been passe for three or four decades.

All of which is not to suggest that there's nothing going on at Vanderbilt. The English faculty has three distinguished creative writers - Kate Daniels, Mark Jarman, and Tony Early - and every year well-known writers come and give readings that are open to the public.

There are hardly any open mike venues around here any more. There were quite a few ten years ago when I became interested, and several that have come and gone between then and now. I had been hesitant for a long time to participate, partly because, though I wanted an audience and though I rarely have stage fright, reading my own poems to anybody always made me nervous. What's more, a few years previous, I had gone to a slam with a couple of friends, just to observe. A poem that was better by several yards than anything else read that night didn't even make it to the second round because the poet had simply given it without chewing the scenery or even raising her voice. It was not a poem that would have benefited from that. The other poets spat gobs of confrontational language and emoted like carnival geeks -- they ripped their guts out for no good reason that I could see. If there was an art in slamming, it had little to do with the writing. When I finally started going to open mikes, I was pleased to discover that they were less feverish and competitive than slams. I'm impressed when someone can bare his soul, even frighten me, and do it honestly, not looking for a prize. A local poet named Adoni can do that. His monologues are bone-deep and blood-red. He's a rare combination of true artist and true performer, but his appearances are extremely infrequent. He reveals himself more completely than anyone I know, and if he came out more often his value would be diminished. One of the big mysteries of poetry is why we choose to communicate these things at all, and why we choose to communicate them in these ways, why we want as many people as possible to hear us or read us and think what we've written is good and maybe even be changed by it, have their view broadened, of themselves, of their art. You go to open mikes ideally, I think, to listen critically and to be astonished, and the surprising thing, you come to realize after you've been to a few, is that in spite of all the bullshit you have to sit through, astonishment usually happens once or twice an evening. On the other hand, maybe I've come around to the slam point of view when I feel that lively crap is usually better than boring good stuff, and sometimes those seem like the only alternatives. That's when you start to question whether it is worth your time going to those things. Do they offer any opportunity to improve your art? Is the audience they offer the right one for what you have to say? Are they even listening? I still go to one which is just about the only one left, a sort of combination of writing group and open mike that meets monthly. We are given a topic a week in advance to write a poem about. The aspect of parlor game bothers me, but on the other hand, in the two and a half years I've been going I've written three pieces worth keeping. That sounds like a low yield, but they are pieces I might not otherwise have written.

What was the question? Is Nashville a writer-friendly place? Sort of, I guess. Hard to say.

Laurel: The Great Duckweed Debate is one of my favorite projects featuring your poetry because of the many styles used well. It is an improvisational exchange, a humorous debate, a commentary on life and nature expressed from several different viewpoints. What prompted this online debate and how would you as poet describe it?

Reed: Klyd Watkins was always writing little poems (I hope he's still writing them, but he's always threatening to give up poetry altogether) about natural events that most people don't consciously observe or that they even tend to avoid - changes of light on the surface of a brackish pond, the growth of duckweed in the same pond, the ripples left by a turtle in the same pond, the reflected image of sycamores in the same pond. His observations are precise enough that he titles the poems by the date, place and time of day. If there is an un-ironic side to postmodernism, this is it, if not in intention at least in effect. Readers who are not on Klyd's wavelength can tend to be bored or puzzled by what looks like an obsession, though if it is one I think there are a lot worse things one could get obsessed about. Some of the readers who have been least sympathetic to Klyd's poems have been some of his closest poet friends. It seems the more ironically they view themselves and their lives the less attracted they are to the purity and simplicity of Klyd's vision. Even his livelier poems with characters and events in them have a kind of holy innocence.

Anyway, one time Klyd asked me to go to Radnor Lake and take some pictures of sycamores for the cover of a chapbook of poems he was putting together. It was not easy to get a good shot of sycamores. They like the water and tend to grow right on the edge of the lake. Shooting them from across the lake, even with a zoom lens they seemed too far away. Shooting them with the lake behind them, to see them at all you had to get too close to take a picture because the woods were fairly dense. I did my best, though I don't recall that any of the shots were especially good. But while all this was going on I got an idea for a poem, a sort of reply to Klyd's love of sycamores called "Oh Look, Sycamores." I truly am not very fond of sycamores. The color of their trunks makes a nice contrast with the trees around them, but there is nothing aesthetically pleasing to me about the way their branches grow in all directions, and if you have one in your yard, as I did at the time, you know what a mess they make, losing branches whenever the wind blows and dropping those great big green globes all over the place at the end of summer. In the poem, a very old widow is complaining about sycamores and about how she misses her husband and revealing that sycamores represent her guilt because she once had an affair and used to meet her lover in remote places outdoors like the scene in the photograph she is looking at.

When Klyd posted the poem on his website someone commented that it looked like a debate was heating up. I thought, why not? I decided to tackle another of Klyd's favorite subjects: duckweed. I think part of Klyd's point writing about duckweed is that in nature nothing is unacceptable and therefore nothing is ugly. I, on the other hand, think duckweed is ugly and possibly unsanitary. The truth is, though I really don't feel that strongly about duckweed, my view of life is more tragic than Klyd's, so I thought I could use duckweed as a way to point out some of the things that happen in the world that his view can't account for. I invented an alter-ego named Alvin B. and wrote, "You and Your Duckweed" not as a criticism, but as a challenge. The upshot is that I would write something long that wallows in the muck of life and he would always come back with something even longer and incredibly beautiful. I'm telling all this, of course from my own point of view, but I think, as philosophical as Klyd gets in his poems, that I at least had common sense, if not logic, on my side. The argument ends with me/Alvin B. unpersuaded, but I'm more than willing to admit that Klyd always had art and beauty on his side. I guess you could say my point was that life and beauty are not the same and rarely intersect.

Laurel: One early critic said Duckweed has echoes of Zen Buddhism because it is "beauty and life described by vituosos." Is there a chance it will be published in book form any time soon?

Reed: We're trying to make a chapbook out of it.

Laurel: Which writers and poets have had the greatest influence on your writing?

Reed: I asked a poet at an open mike once who she read and she said, "I'm not a reader, I'm a writer." I read a lot, but I don't think I could say any better than she could what writers or books ended up being influences. I know the influences are there, but I hope they've been well enough digested that readers can't tell what they are any better than I can. I'll tell you who some of my favorite writers and what some of my favorite books are. Favorite novel (it's a lot of people's favorite) is One Hundred Years of Solitude. Two other favorites: The Tin Drum and Death on the Installment Plan. Celine is like Dickens on angel dust - so full of life and yet so bleak. I guess the best short story writer ever is either Chekov or Turgenev. Probably about a hundred years ago Ford Madox Ford said that Turgenev's "Bezhin Meadow" was the most beautiful piece of writing ever created. That is still true.

Samuel Johnson's Rasselas is worth reading once a year. Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt are the sweet and the sour of English essayists. There is so much pleasure in reading them slowly. My tastes are pretty conventional I guess. I really enjoy quite a few modern and post modern writers, but Dickens and Thackeray and Melville and Conrad cast such long shadows over all of them! Melville and Conrad had to struggle just to be who they were and to write (the best modern equivalent, I think, is Thelonius Monk) and outside of scripture there is not much that is more profound than their best works. I once taught "Bartleby the Scrivener" to a class as an anti-Sunday School lesson about the disappearance or withdrawal of God (not my personal feeling) and the ethical dilemma that leaves us in. I love Sir Thomas Browne and think the last two chapters of Urn Burial, though prose, make up one of the best poems ever written.

Of poets, the usual suspects, Shakespeare, Donne, Wordsworth. Anybody writing poetry ought to read "Tintern Abbey" every so often. I dearly love Browning and can fairly confidently claim him as an influence, though I'd hate for anybody to make a comparison. I think most of all I love Hardy because his poems can bring honest tears to your eyes.

Laurel: Is there any question you wish I had asked, or any other bit of information you'd like to share with our readers?

Reed: I have a cat named Spud.

Laurel: Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Reed. Examples of Reed Richard's writing can be found at and

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Tea Is for Terror
Gayle Wigglesworth
Koenisha Publications
3196 53rd St., Hamilton, MI 49419
ISBN: 0974168521 $19.95

Gayle Wigglesworth left the world of art, where she began her education, to move to San Francisco. She instead chose banking as a career and excelled at it, rising to Senior Vice President. She had a family and ended up moving to Houston, where she and her husband presently live. She and her husband travel and read extensively. TEA IS FOR TERROR placed second in the Mayhaven Annual Award for Fiction in 2002.

Claire Gulliver is an erstwhile librarian who took the plunge out of a careful life when her uncle left her his shabby bookstore. She revitalized the store and made it a haven for travelers. Claire is still bothered by nightmares from a series of odd events that brought out a flair for detective work, and her father's police mates watch over her. Claire is about to take her first trip abroad, but ends up as the guide when her friend Lucy Springer, an established travel writer and guide, mysteriously falls on a broken step and can't make the trip to England and Wales. Little does Claire realize that the seeming accident is just the beginning of a malicious design on her travel group:

"'But it's Arnie. He's with us. I mean he's a member of our tour. I'm in charge. I have to do something.' She knew she wasn't quite coherent but the policeman apparently understood and he led her over to two men standing to the side, one talking on a mobile phone directing the rescue efforts on the roof. It was apparent from his conversation that there was no hope of Arnie having survived the fall."

Wigglesworth combines lots of interesting elements to put her mark on TEA IS FOR TERROR. She is knowledgeable about the interesting parts of England and Wales and carries on a travelogue for the reader, even as the plot unfolds. Claire is a somewhat shy heroine who enjoys wandering by herself, and she finds a keeper and friend in Jack, who is himself interesting and full of surprises. The plot moves right along, with one disaster after another testing Claire's resolve. Even as the ending of the book draws near, Wigglesworth plays her cards close to her vest, not wanting the reader to guess at the conclusion. Her denouement is well crafted, and she cunningly leaves a few threads hanging for her next story. An excellent first effort!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Jane Shoup
Echelon Press
56 Sawyer Circle #354, Memphis, TN 38103.
ISBN: 1590804260 $14.99 280 pages

There are times when a book is so outstanding that you wonder how you will possibly write a review worthy of it; such is the case with Pedestals. As we begin our reading journey we met Jack Wilmont, a detective who just wants to take sometime off; get back in touch with life, but that was not about to happen. When a serial killer strikes Jack is asked to look at the evidence; Jack knew this was just the beginning.Through this, he becomes involved in the case of a missing nine-year old who had been abducted from her home.

Jack knows this is a strange case. The young girl is being raised by her step-mother, unwanted by either her father or mother. Jack is immediately drawn to the step-mother, and although she is the main suspect, Jack does not feel she is guilty. He enlists the help of his ex-partner and the two of them begin an exciting investigation, just where it will lead, and if the child will be found alive is yet to be known.

The author does an outstanding job of running two separate cases in this work, but keeping your interest peaked in each one, yet not causing any confusion. You wonder at first if the two are related, but soon find out they are not. The characters are well defined, extremely likeable and believable and the storyline flows without a flaw. Well done! You are in for a treat when you see the twist and the strange reason for the serial killings. I was shocked and surprised and I think considering the ending that we may have a reason for another book in the future, although I can't be sure of that.

I don't want to give a lot away concerning this mystery, but I can tell you that this is certainly one book you do not want to miss reading. It's suspenseful, has a tad of romance and some humor and is full of the wonderful question, who done it! This is one work I am proud to recommend, well worth your time.

Super Foods RX
Steven Pratt, M.D.
William Morrow Publishing
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0060535679 $24.95 352 pages

I have to tell you that once I began this read I could not put it down. The information that is packed inside of it to help us promote better health is superior to most that I have read.

Dr. Pratt gives us fourteen foods that will definitely bring us closer to a healthy body if we will incorporate them in our diet. These are: Beans, Blueberries, Broccoli, Oats, Oranges, Pumpkin, Salmon, Soy, Spinach, Tea, Tomatoes, Turkey, Walnuts and Yogurt. Not all on your 'favorite list;? take heart, the good doctor also provides some alternatives in each group for you to chose from. He dedicates an entire chapter to each one, clearly defining their benefits for our bodies.
He winds down this outstanding educational read by giving us some wonderful recipes and some important nutrition facts and slam dunks it with a chapter titled, SuperFoods RX Shopping Lists, that will allow you to take the guess work out of which product has what , and which is the best to buy (something I always have trouble figuring out); and for those hard to find items, he includes their email or street address. Excellent!

This really is a useful, informative book; especially for those who wish to improve their health by adding foods that are readily available. Dr. Pratt does an outstanding job, writing in a clear and concise manner, bringing to light just the right amount of information you need to know without boring you. This book is a keeper, and one you will turn to time and time again. Recommended.

I Knew I Was A Woman When....
Vanessa Denha
Publish America
PO Box 151, Baltimore, Maryland
ISBN: 1413707084 $14.95 176 pages

Author Vanessa Denha delves into a topic that will surely be embraced by women near and far. When did you know you were truly a woman? Ah! Was it on a certain day, a certain occasion or perhaps a certain season of your life?

In this work you will relish in the stories of many different women as they share the time or event they knew they had become a woman. I laughed some and felt some tugs on my heartstrings as I read their words. I definitely could relate.

I really liked the section, "Yes I Am a Woman NOW," where our author asked her interviewees to answer the question, "How would you define being a woman today?"

In this section she also gives little tid-bits of information about women. Intriguing fun facts that you will enjoy.

I really liked this book; I believe it is the personal touch that it presents to the reader. It truly is like you are sitting and talking with your sisters, your friends, and sharing their hearts. It was an interesting and fun read; I think all women will enjoy this work.

When Fallen Angels Fly
Vicki Thornberry
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, Il 61108
ISBN: 0976091917 $16.00 353 pages

In this work we are first taken into the life of a young girl named Charlene. Charlene lives in Kentucky, child of a loving but poor coal mining family. The author marks her as the main character in this read; the source of much strength, determination, faith and loyalty that the other players in the story, Rosie, Karma and Birdie will draw from and lean on. Ms Thornberry does an outstanding job of defining her characters bringing them into a full spectrum of their vibrant personalities and bringing them alive in your minds eye.

This story is mainly about Charlene and the journey of her life and how it touches others.
It is laced with the friendships she develops and the bond that is created between them.
Often heartbreaking, often humorous, at times insightful, their lives are played before you like a vivid well documented movie that burst forth with a true taste of local color and life, that is often the norm in a coal mining community. Excellent job in that area; I might add. This is a work that will touch your heart with many explosions of emotions. You will laugh, you will cry, you will even become angry at life itself, but you will never forget the story, nor the Angels that fly.

The Third Condition
Richard Lawrence Gilbert
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford Ill 61108
ISBN: 0976091976 $14.95 232 pages

Unique, that is the word that would best describe this outstanding work by author, Richard Lawrence Gilbert. In this read we meet Dr. Richard Gilbert, a Professor of Psychology in Los Angeles. Dr.Gilbert is preparing an international conference entitled,"The Post-Freudian Millennium." What is this about?, Richard plans to destroy the writings of the late Sigmund Freud. Richard is a divorced dad, one whose life is more complicated than even he realized and it is about to change in a way he would never imagine.

On Halloween night Richard finds himself face-to-face with the ghost of Sigmund Freud. At first he thinks it is an elaborate hoax, but soon realizes that God Himself has allowed Mr.Freud to visit earth for purposes yet unknown to Richard. What follows is a two-month interaction between Richard and Sigmund discussing his theories and opening Richard up to a world within himself, as they debate psychology and matters of the heart. Before his arrival Sigmund was given three conditions by God that must be followed on earth. Sigmund reveals the first two to Richard, but the third, a secret that will unlock hidden mysteries and change Richards's life forever, is waiting towards the end of the read to totally confound you. What a great twist in a novel; I never saw it coming.

This work, although done as a fictional memoir, is quite thought-provoking, yet it is laced with humor, realism and a surprising comfortable style for the reader. A different, unique and interesting read awaits you in "The Third Condition," don't miss this one.

Predators & Prayers
Phillip Carlo
Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Ave., Suite 2000, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 0843955767 $6.99 384 pages

There are some books that grab your attention from the first word, such is the case with this outstanding work, Predators & Prayers. Priests in New York City are being brutally killed, mutilated, degraded and the pressure is on to find this madman. That was the job set before Captain Tony Flynn, a man who has seen more than his fair share of murders, but this case would run into deep un-charted waters, waters he didn't like being in as they stirred memories that he had tried to forget. This one would be personal.

As for our killer, he has his reasons for what appears to be senseless death, and as the author details the deep-seated pain of his past you must rebuke the urge to cheer him on, knowing within yourself murder is never the answer, two wrongs do not make a right. Yet, the author takes you so deep into the pain in the soul of this man that you bleed within for the sorrow that was his life.
We are introduced to Carole Cunningham, a hard nose attorney from the DA's office, who is carefully working another angle of the case. The author worked this side of the investigation in allowing you to know facts that otherwise would be left by the wayside. That was a good move and really enhanced the read.

The story is quick paced as the killer travels to Rome, his quest, the death of the Pope. We are introduced to Nino Maranzano, the Italian Chief of police who merges forces with Flynn to stop this killer. Mr. Carlo builds character upon charter, defining each one so vividly that they nicely layer the story and pull you into the core of this book, the lives of these people. There are many emotional surges throughout this work and some surprising twists, such as the first true feeling of love our killer experiences for a wonderful woman named Diane, and the final chapter that brings closure to a life wracked in pain. As details are revealed you want to laugh, you want to cry and your emotions spiral within you.

I really can't say enough good things about this work. Philip Carlo brings out a hidden truth of sexual abuse that plagues the very institution that should be a haven of safety, the Catholic church. Yet, understand this, he makes it plain that it is not the belief in God, nor the soundness of such a belief that is to fault, but the concept that predators always find openings to feed upon their prey. He opens our eyes to a problem that is sweeping our country, infiltrating many sacred institutions and touching those who cannot defend themselves. This read is one of pain, revenge, love, hate, forgiveness and frank honesty that you will never forget. This is a must read that you will not be able to put down. Highly, highly recommended.

Pretty Poison - A Peggy Lee Garden Mystery
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0425202992 $6.99 272 pages

We are introduced at the beginning of this read to Peggy Lee, widow of John who was a police detective before he gave his life for the cause. Peggy Lee owns a garden shop and has plunged into learning all she can about her beloved plants. She is a middle-aged vibrant woman, with much to give to others; and her knowledge of poisonous plants is about to be put to good use in this outstanding mystery read.Peggy finds the body of a Mr.Mark Warner in her shop one morning upon arriving for work. The fact that she knows the man and that his body was found in her shop puts Peggy in a very hard position and plunges her into a quest to solve the murder. This is not appreciated by the detectives that are working on this case; however in time they will change their tune. Peggy, who has been content to live without a man in her life suddenly is thrown into the path of Steve, a local veterinarian. Despite him being a little younger than Peggy, the instant attraction to each other cannot be denied; yet Peggy fights the feelings she has long buried; but her struggle will be futile.

We are taken on an enjoyable roller coaster ride as Peggy, Steve and her workers at the garden shop begin their investigation work to solve this murder. To add some spice, another woman dies in the same way in another city and Peggy is sure the two cases are related. I don't want to give away the reason these poor souls died, but it certainly is not as it first appeared. A nice touch that the authors add at the beginning of each chapter is information about different plants. A perfect addition to the read, that blends well with the story. The authors introduce many colorful characters that add complete realism to this read. They interweave relationship turmoil's that top the cake with a little cream and also you are given a nice slice of humor in the form of a canine named, Shakespeare.

I believe the fact that Peggy is a middle-aged woman caused me to enjoy this read all the more. Not the norm for many mystery novels; this shows that adventure certainly can knock on the door at any age; and wisdom that comes with maturity can make a difference. I liked that. I have come to respect the writing of Joyce and Jim Lavene. I know I am always going to be engrossed in any book they write. They amaze me with their ability to write in so many different genres with such expertise, and this work is yet another reminder of that fact. I can truly say I loved this book and was sorry when it ended. And for a reviewer that is something we don't say very often.

Adventure, romance, humor and mystery. This is truly a read that you do not want to miss. I carry the characters with me and look forward to Peggy's next adventure with great anticipation. Well done!

Black Rose
Nora Roberts
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Avenue, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0515138657 $7.99 370 pages

Do you think it's true that every house has a secret? If the walls could talk would you want to hear what they had to say? The Harper House in this story could certainly tell you a few things.
We meet Roz, descendent of the owners of the Harper House, where she now resides. Recently divorced, she is a likable perky, wealthy woman in mid-life, searching to find answers to some hidden happenings in her home. It seems Harper House has had a ghostly residence for years; a young woman who sings to the newborn and has stayed in the shadows until recently. Her gentle presence, which was tolerated through the years, is now turning into rage and violence; nearly taking the life of Roz and endangering her entire household. Who is this woman and why will she not leave the house? Why has she turned from gentle to savage and how is she connected to the family? Chilling questions for sure; and you will devour the book to find out the answers.

The author does a wonderful job in story and character development in this novel. She allows you to know the main players, draws you into their personal lives and emotions and uses this as building blocks to the danger and mystery that surrounds them. Ms. Roberts adds some romance and humor which makes the work a comfortable read without losing it's mysterious element. I found this book to be outstanding. a real page turner and one that I can highly recommend.

Long Ride Home
Susan K. Marlow
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
ISBN: 0825431883 $12.95 128 pages

In this wonderful teen novel we meet perky 12-year old Andi and her beloved horse Taffy. Andi is the type of girl that loves adventure, is curious about everything and always seems to get into trouble, despite her best efforts not to. After causing a ruckus and almost losing her life by being careless with a wild horse, Andi is afraid she will be sent to her aunts since her family is at wits end with her daily bouts of trouble and something must be done. Overhearing her family discussing her possible future, Andi decides she will run away and make it on her own. Bad move! Her youth does not give her the wisdom that is needed to be on the look-out for the many unsavory people that lurk in the world, and so she loses her beloved horse Taffy to a horse thief, almost loses her own life, and learns the hard way how those not as fortunate as herself must live just to survive.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick paced read and kept my interest from beginning to end. It has some great teaching elements in it and a wonderful storyline. I recommend it highly, a very enjoyable read.

The Carpenter's Notebook
Mark Clement
CenterLine Publishing
1021 Arlington Blvd Suite 1206, Arlington, VA 22209
ISBN: 0975421239 $16.95 291 pages

In this book we meet Brendan, a young man in a collapsing marriage, father of two daughters and desperate to once again find peace. Brendan loves his wife, but seems unable to reach her, unable to rekindle the love they once shared. Brendan has a promise to fulfill to his now passed father. He promised to take his old shop and turn it into an art studio for his mother. It is during the keeping of this promise that Brendan turns his own life around.

Brendan's father had recorded much of his work. Finding his old clipboard and his papers, Brandan reads the words that his father penned so many years ago. Using his tools, and comparing his work to life, Gideon records small morsels of wisdom to lives challenges and speaks of what really is important. These words and the strength that Brandan takes from them turns Brandan around to see what truly is important in life, and in doing so brings his family back to him. A touching work that will open the eyes of any willing to see.

Wake Up- Live The Life You Love
Steven E & Lee Beard
Little Seed Publishing
PO Box 4483, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
ISBN: 0964470691 $14.95 190 pages

In this exceptional collection of essays we are given morsels, pearls of wisdom to help us achieve a better life. Sharing their secrets are some of the world's well-known teachers, public speakers and entrepreneurs. They openly discuss how they view happiness, freedom, opportunity, destiny and many other subjects. They share ways to overcome fears, doubts, past hurts allowing us to forge forward to a happier tomorrow. This is a very uplifting book, brimming full of positive advice in a frank and honest way which you definitely can and will apply to your life. Recommended.

Chesapeake Crimes Two
Coordinating Editors: Donna Andrews and Maria Y. Lima
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN: 0977007006 $23.95 151 pages

I love a good mystery, one you can curl-up with at night and immerse yourself in; I truly found more than my cup of tea in this work. We don't just have one mystery to solve, but fifteen, as some top-notch writers take us from one dark corner to the next in reverting tales of murder, mayhem and mystery. My favorite was,"A Senior Discount On Death." I loved the two main characters, Kate and Marlene and the twist that the story took. At first I felt sorry for them, until I realized it was the 'bad guys,' who needed my pity. I had to chuckle!

However, each story in this book works its own magic, as every author pens their style and talent with excellence. Each story unique, yet brimming with the familiar mystery you anticipated, you will find yourself turning the pages in anticipation and delight. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. More than a great read, many great reads all wrapped up in one. Outstanding, thank you authors for sharing your talent with a hungry audience that will devour every morsel with joy.

Looking Up: A Working View
J.M. Kearney
Quiet Storm Publishing
Martinsburg WV
ISBN: 0974408417 $25.95 218 pages

In this work author J.M. Kearney writes from his heart on subjects that we face and think about everyday but perhaps never voice our opinion. A fireman in New York City, he has perhaps heard and seen it all and shares his opinion, those of others and his comments on the thinking of many who do not speak for the working man (or woman.)

Sometimes harsh, sometimes humorous this book takes you into perhaps unspoken thoughts of your neighbors, friends or family on some tough subjects that flood our existence. I loved his take on "Wealth Vs Income," and if I may quote from page 145, " Money isn't " a method of keeping score," it's a barometer of how much value that person has produced." Interesting isn't it? Now you get an idea of the contents of this work. He covers such a wide variety of subjects that touch our lives it would be hard to tell you them all. A few are , Our obsession with self, Grief, and even a short take on 'Bumper Sticker," and their hidden meaning. I loved it.

A real down to earth, straight talk read that the 'working class' will be able to relate to.
I think this one you will enjoy sinking your teeth in. Recommended.

Red Tide
T.G. Browning
RDD Publishing
2170 Raynor St SE, Salem, OR 97302
ISBN: 0975351044 $16.95 344 pages

I sat on my bed reading this book and hearing my heart pound within me; what a ride. Pam Whitby was to be married, that is until Kevin was killed in a car accident. Kevin worked magic, knew the powers that be, was gifted. Pam also is gifted, but is not prepared for the battle against evil she will be thrust into.

Traveling across country Pam is drawn to an ocean town where something is devouring the people, literally. This evil is eating them, controlling them and becoming stronger with each victim. Pam teams up with some very colorful characters, such as Jack Westfeld, a local bartender who is seeing people change before his eyes and Casey Nugent, a teenager who is forgotten by everyone who ever knew him, including his own family, once he was touched by the evil. Add to that a talking cat, several women who see into the future, robbing of graves and the walking dead, you better know you are in for one chilling adventure. I have to tell you; I read this book in two nights and was so engrossed in the read that I actually jumped when I heard a noise, for a moment thinking could it be "The Maker of Night!" Scary!

If you want a book that has a great storyline, is bone chilling and chock full of the supernatural this one is for you. A work that grabs you and locks you in until you have read the last word; now that is a book you don't want to miss. Very highly recommended especially for those who love to feel the terror as they read; I know I did.

Finding Favor With The King
Tommy Tenney
Bethany House Publishers
11499 Hamphire Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota,55438
ISBN: 0764200178 $12.00 224 pages

In this outstanding work author Tommy Tenney takes us on a journey, that if followed could change our lives and bring us to a place with the Lord that is breathtaking. He shares with us the story of Esther in the Bible and how she won favor with the King during her time. Using this as an example, Mr. Tenney challenges us to take the steps as Esther did to receive favor from our King, the Lord Jesus.

His leading in instructions to achieve this goal are practical, Scriptural, and profoundly spiritual as you soon see that Esther was a true example for us to follow; and you realize you actually can obtain favor with the Lord if you are willing to pay the price that it will require. It really is not a hard price to pay, but a joy to do to achieve the favor of the One we love. To give an additional help, our author has a page at the end of the book that we may use as a reminder of what these protocols are. On this page are the, "Twelve Protocols of the Palace," Esther's secrets of finding favor with the King. I agree with my fellow reviewer; I'm hanging this on the wall as well. Thank you Mr. Tenney for such an encouraging read.

The Time Tunnel of August Kaplan
Jane Shoup
Kids Dimension
An Imprint of New Age Dimensions, Inc.
P.O. Box 772097, Coral Springs, FL 33077
ISBN: 15961110325 $4.50 download 84 pages

Do you ever entertain the possibility of time travel? Wonder what another era was like and longed to visit that time for yourself? If you do, this book is for you. We meet a delightful 'almost,' thirteen year old named Kati Kaplan; one is going through a time of divorce with her parents and an awakening to who she is. She doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, money is tight for her and her mom, and life seems to be zigzagging from one hard spot to another, but that was about to change.

Katie and her mom inherit a beautiful home from her father's several times removed Uncle August. Why he left it to Katie and her mom and not to Kati's dad and how he even knew she would be born are several of the mysteries waiting to be solved in this delightful read.
As they moved into this mansion of a home, Kati begins to explore and finds a secret tunnel, one with a special purpose. As Kati ventures through this tunnel she is transported back to the year her Uncle lived and after the initial shock of meeting her Uncle; they begin a friendship that spans all time and space. Quite a ride.

I have been privileged to review some really wonderful young adult books lately, but I have to say this one is top of the notch. The characters are well defined, realistic and likeable and I believe all young people will relate to Kati and will love the way the author allows her to express freely her feelings and the growing pains she is experiencing. Top that off with mystery and adventure and you have a real winner of a read. I give this book a high recommendation and believe this is one you should not miss reading. A very fun, enjoyable read.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

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

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