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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 9 September 2012 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf
Micah's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf
Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

Before Things Fall Apart
Barbara McVicker
Privately Published
9780985389628 $17.99

Eldercare expert Barbara McVicker presents Before Things Fall Apart: Preparing to Care for Mom and Dad lives up to its title as a practical-minded guide to taking care of one's aging parents. Its solid wisdom is best used to make preparations before a crisis looms, but there are plenty of tips, tricks, and techniques for responding to sudden emergencies as well. Chapters address the basics of caregiving, the important conversations one must have with Mom and Dad, how to use a family meeting to construct a caregiving plan, organizing Mom and Dad's five essential documents (living will, health care power of attorney, HIPAA privacy forms, last will and testament, and financial power of attorney), how to make the house safer for Mom and Dad or downsize prior to a move, and much more. Personal testimonies pepper this invaluable walkthrough for dealing with difficult situations. Before Things Fall Apart is a must-have recommended for anyone with aging parents. Also highly recommended is the companion consumable workbook, "Before Things Fall Apart: The Essential Workbook on Caring for Mom and Dad" (9780985389635, $12.99), which is filled cover to cover with useful checklists, strategies, and step-by-step guidelines.

Anxious but Happy
Nic Lucas
Research Media
808/109 Pitt St., Sydney
NSW 2000 Australia
9780980619201 $15.00

Anxious but Happy is the true personal story of author and health professional Nic Lucas, a man who learned the hard way how to cope with lifelong generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Information about phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are also included, although Lucas cannot draw from personal experience to testify about them. Anxious but Happy is filled cover to cover with useful tips, tricks, and techniques to mitigate the toll that anxiety and panic attacks take upon one's life. "One of the main questions on people's minds is the cost of treatment. With regard to psychological therapy, people ask, 'do I have to pay for therapy, or can I do it myself'? Well, many people, myself included, have overcome anxiety and panic disorder without formal therapy is possible. I'm not making a recommendation for either approach... Mayo-Wilson and Montgomery are planning a large systematic review on the effectiveness of what they call media delivered self-help therapy, because so many people access self-help programs for anxiety and panic." Although Anxious but Happy cannot substitute for the expertise of a mental health professional, it is highly recommended an excellent self-help start to the life and overall well being of readers who grapple with anxiety and panic attacks on a regular basis.

The Discreet Guide for Executive Women
Jennifer K. Cittenden
Whistling Rabbit Press
9780984736003, $17.95,

Succeeding in business and being your own woman comes with its own share of problems as you climb the tumultuous corporate ladder. "The Discreet Guide for Executive Women: How to Work Well with Men (and Other Difficulties)" is a guide for business women who find themselves in a position of power and want to create a harmonious environment in fields where misogyny often reigns highly. Vital reading for any woman who wants to navigate the toxic corporate culture, "The Discreet Guide for Executive Women" is a fine and much recommended pick for career and women's studies collections.

Life and Death on the Tamiami Trail
Sheila Marie Palmer
Privately Published
9781456535872, $14.99,

The more you learn, the more you find out you need to learn. "Life and Death on the Tamiami Trail" is a mystery set in Florida as Sheriffs find them pit against time as a beloved friend is accused of crimes that Sheriff Bernie Raines knows cannot be true. As they hunt for something that resembles truth, they find many layers of deception. Designed to keep readers wondering about the culprits until the end, "Life and Death on the Tamiami Trail" is a much recommended read, not to be missed.

Integrating the Chapters of a Life
Allen Roth
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469987354, $9.95,

Life is hard to define simply. "Integrating the Chapters of a Life" is a collection of musings from Allen Roth as he ponders his life as a teacher in college and as a father. Using many mediums to tell the stories of his life, "Integrating the Chapters of a Life" is a curious and recommended memoir for those seeking a very personal story.

Takeover 2
Robert Michael Wynn
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466913417, $12.00,

To challenge power unknown is quite the challenge to undertake. "Takeover 2: Visitors from the Other Side" is a paranormal adventure as a group challenges a demonic entity surrounding a house on Raven Lane in Virginia. The weapons of the damned come out in ways that few would ever expect, as the investigation group finds challenges that may be beyond their ability to cope. "Takeover 2" is worth considering for fans of horror fiction, recommended.

Last Summer at the Compound
J.H. Bartlett
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466285828, $12.95,

Raw profit cares not for the lives it consumes. "Last Summer at the Compound" is a novel of a small town concerned about its nuclear power plant, in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. With the fear strong but the corporate interest unrelenting, Kitty, an aging woman fearing for her family knows not what to do to help protect her family from reckless greed. "Last Summer at the Compound" analyzes the fears that many small towns face, highly recommended.

Blogging Through the Obama Years
Richard Miner
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781467977265, $18.00,

The political landscape in the past few years has been a chaotic one. "Blogging Through the Obama Years" is a collection of politically charged blog posts from Richard Miner as he presents his own views on politics since Barack Obama took office in 2009. In his efforts to find the truth and with plenty to ponder think about and a good bit of humor, "Blogging Through the Obama Years" is an enticing read, very much recommended for political junkies.

What's Your Monster's Name?
Ingrid Kern
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432782290, $18.95,

We all have our demon's, our monsters, destroying our lives. "What's Your Monster's Name?" is an inspirational read from Ingrid Kern who advises how readers can face their life's fears and take that fight to empower them to become stronger individuals throughout their lives. "What's Your Monster's Name?" is a strong pick for motivational and inspirational collections, empowered by the very personal stories throughout.

The Soul's Mark Found
Ashley Stoyanoff
Privately Published
9780988077515, $13.95,

No one seeks to be the property of another, but a mark may designate Amelia as so. "The Soul's Mark Found: You Cannot Run From Destiny" follows Amelia as she finds that her birthmark marks her as the inevitable soulmate of a vampire. Fighting destiny, she tries to find happiness elsewhere, but the vampire whose mark she bears won't let her go so easily, and she finds that fighting destiny is no easy task. "The Soul's mark Found" is an enticing and much recommended addition to paranormal romance collections.

What if the Problem's Not the Problem???
Jasmyne Boswell
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781467950527, $12.95,

A clear mind can make everything feel that much more manageable. "What if the Problem's Not the Problem???: 4 Practices for Peace of Mind" is a spiritual and inspirational read as Jasmyne Boswell advises readers on clearing their mind and keeping it clear as they deal with the obstacles in their life. "What if the Problems not the Problem???" is a thoughtful guide for attaining greater spiritual, emotional, and mental health, recommended.

Peter Hetherington
Pingora Press
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780983656319, $21.95,

Poland had to fight for everything it has received. "Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski, Resurrected Poland and the Struggle for Eastern Europe" analyzes the life story of Pilsudski, who was born under Austrian-Prussian control of his homeland, by rose up through society to become a hero to the Polish people for his patriotism and role in much of the intrigue that played out in the background of the first two World Wars. "Unvanquished" is a riveting addition to any world history collection that focuses on Eastern Europe and Poland in particular.

The Lilac Autumn
Cecilia Weidner
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468178197, $10.00,

One morning forever changed everything, as it was and as it will be. "The Lilac Autumn" spins a novel of a conflicted Johannesburg woman faces the revelation that her husband was not always faithful to the appearance of a dying AIDS-afflicted women bearing a child in her arms, belonging to her husband. When the revelation reveals that Lilly Johnson's husband carries HIV, Lilly is uncertain whether her marriage can take the weight of all this. Exploring the pain that the AIDS virus has wrought on Africa, "The Lilac Autumn" asks many questions, and provokes many possible answers, recommended reading.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Apocalypse Cult
Alex Siegel
Kindle Direct Publishing
9780557657612, $2.99,

Alex Siegel's Apocalypse Cult introduces The Gray Spear Society, which works under God's direction to save lives and souls - even acting as assassins in his name when mankind is threatened. Only this time the threat is the Church of One Soul, a cult that not only has the slaughter of thousands of tourists in mind, but who are part of a bigger threat to the entire world. The Society has only a few days to locate and destroy the cult and its leader before the world is plunged into a dangerous darkness.

Enter Aaron (the main protagonist of Apocalypse Cult), whose beliefs and convictions are tempered by his experience as a private investigator. His investigation into the Gray Spear Society begins as a search for a lost daughter who has been missing for two months, but his initial survey of the cult's camp brings him into trouble when he runs into special agents from the U.S. Secret Service who are also investigating the cult for printing counterfeit currency.

As Aaron delves deeper into the secret society and those forces working against it, he comes to find that it's not a straightforward matter of one ruler's charisma and a set of believers; but a dangerous system spiked by paranormal events and unerring visions of apocalyptic doom.

His rescue of one cult member doesn't end his associations with the group but instead brings him in touch with a deeper and darker force complete with miracles, devils, and extraordinary powers.

Experiments into space and time itself enter the picture, bringing Aaron ever closer to uncovering a world-changing truth that leads to revelations about kidnappings and forces struggling for control. Each revelation brings with it more confusion about who is the 'good guy' and who is the 'bad guy' in world-changing scenarios of conflict.

Apocalypse Cult may sound like a religious novel of the end times; but in fact it's so much more: a gripping thriller packed with twists and turns of plot that are powerful, unpredictable, and compelling. Ultimately it will be Aaron's influence that will either determine the face of a new world or contribute to its destruction.

Thriller writing at its finest!

Mindkind: Math & Physics for the New Millennium
William John Cox
Mankind Publications
c/o Amazon Kindle
9780985785017, $1.99,

William John Cox has had a multifaceted career, moving from his farm roots to become an attorney working as a prosecutor and handling landmark national and local defense cases; but through it all he never lost his passion for math and physics - and Mindkind: Math & Physics for the New Millennium represents this passion at its best, discussing his vision of 'Mindkind', a multiverse of beings who communicate via telepathy and who live on different planets.

It may sound like science fiction, but introductory chapters cover the basic physics and science of Newton, Galileo and Einstein, linking scientific advancements to concepts of the collective unconscious at a level which projects mankind's eventual need for a larger 'Mind Field' for storing and utilizing information.

Math formulas blend with physics to discuss the likely nature of this paradigm for future generations with introductory chapters examining how building blocks of science associate with social change - all leading to the ultimate question: "Has the "collective consciousness" of humanity arrived at a plane where our common mind becomes capable of logically understanding the external forces which act upon our perceived universe in the absence of experimental evidence of their existence?"

The conclusion is that our generation (as well as those of the past) have already built the foundations of a 'Mindkind' on this world; and that future generations will be the ones to explore space and adjacent dimensions using the 'Mindkind' constructs already laid in place.

The evolution of computer logic, the base 10 calculation system, further logical extensions of numerical bases, and the evolution of a Millennial System of math that better describes the universe and mankind's place in it makes for engrossing reading filled with formulas, geometric designs, and reflections linking math and science to intellectual evolutionary changes that will enable future generations to move through time and space, establishing their own 'Mindkind' colonies.

Science fiction or science? You decide: the blend of math, science and social concepts here is engrossing.

The Man Who Ate His Fingers: War & Justice
William John Cox
Mankind Publications
c/o Amazon Kindle
9780985785024, $2.99,

Political philosophy blends with fiction in a darkly riveting series of stories centered around one Sam, who decides to make a political statement about the senseless of the Iraq war - by biting off and swallowing a finger a day in protest.

A political columnist who covers the event and interviews Sam for his perspectives and political slant on life finds his reporting has gone viral: suddenly everyone wants to know about Sam, involving columnist and commentator in a collaboration that will help people face their own political realities, and which ultimately will result in Sam's marriage to a retired Navy nurse.

War and Justice is the first of three installments, which range in time from the end of the George W. Bush administration through that of Barack Obama (Books Two [Free Enterprise)] and Three [The Future] will be primarily set in the Obama Administration). While based on the economic and political tones of its time, War and Justice's focus on one man's wide-ranging decision to change his own world offers a striking set of insights powered with grisly yet pointed actions:

"Sam said the pain was more than he had expected, but he continued to refuse to take any medication. He wanted to experience the pain felt by those soldiers who had avoided death, but who were maimed for life, and by those whose mental pain seemed beyond all endurance. But mostly he wanted to share the pain of children who suffer and die from the cowardly acts of those who glorify war."

Facts about election fraud, the process of true democratic assessment, voter rights in the face of changing political beliefs and behind-the-scenes influences, and much more permeate a novel which is essentially a social observation piece using the fictional characters of Sam, Alana and others to capture the social and political feel of the George Bush era.

Homelessness, poverty, growing military powers and an increasing sense of voter frustration leads to much political inspection, all fueled by the Iraqi War specifically and Sam's ability to draw his fellow Americans into his perception of justice and injustice.

Peace and justice issues permeate Sam's life - and The Man Who Ate His Fingers: War & Justice provides a complex, powerful survey of individual connections to political realities and social change in a hard-hitting novel recommended for any politically astute reader.

Defining Family
Daniel Lance Wright
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781611602456, $4.99,

Defining Family is a powerful young adult novel which opens in a Texas children's home when a prank gone awry sends four sheltered teens into the world on the run from the law.

For teen Samantha, recovering from a nightmare of childhood sexual abuse by her parents, it means re-entering a world which has defined her life and fears with one event.

For Rebecca, it's all about antagonizing Samantha, whom she sees as controlling others around her by intimidation. Covered with tattoos and piercings, Rebecca's hard exterior hides a tender heart and a fondness she holds for Aaron.

Speaking of Aaron, his quest to live a less fearful life brings them all into danger, while Amy has her own demons to flee.

While running makes sense at the time, the four teens eventually realize that flight isn't bringing them any further from trouble, and is ultimately bringing them closer together in an ever-tightening quest for survival.

Romance, survival, trust, betrayal, and quests for maturity affect the friends as they move through countryside and bring challenges which will bring them full-circle to confront their own inner demons of their pasts.

DEFINING FAMILY is about more than defining family or coming of age without one. It's about breaking down barriers to intimacy through shared experiences and struggles for both individual and group survival - and it's about finding a place in the world rather than running from it.

Teens interested in a gripping coming-of-age survival saga will find much to relish in this moving saga.

The Child Inside a Liberal
Anthony Sebastiano
c/o Amazon Kindle
9781470191894, $8.95,

Liberals want your money - and they want to control your life as well: that's the contention of THE CHILD INSIDE A LIBERAL, a discussion of why liberal adults become emotional and often irrational when discussing politics ("because they actually are still children trapped in an adult body").

Chapters consider how liberals use arguments designed to evoke emotional responses over reason, consider connections between emotional and logical arguments in the political arena, and provide wide-ranging points differentiating liberal and conservative attitudes and approaches to problem-solving.

After identifying connections between child-like attitudes and liberal sentiments, Anthony Sebastiano provides further points condemning liberal pursuits in social and political arenas: "Liberals have no trouble being dishonest in order to get what they want, the same way they did as children, cheating on their schoolwork."

From reinforcing ideals taught to children in public education to opposing homeschooling options, liberal attitudes offer many conflicts between perception and values and often serve to turn commodities into entitlements. Liberal attitudes permeate every social and political strata of our society and, Anthony Sebastiano maintains, are inherently dangerous to the very ideals of democracy in which they profess to believe.

Chapters pinpoint these potentially dangerous attitudes, widespread issues of minority grouping and entitlement, and show how liberal perceptions of shame around living a privileged American lifestyle has roots in not only childish perceptions, but in desires to limit American growth and achievement.

Whether you agree or not, or are liberal or conservative, THE CHILD INSIDE A LIBERAL offers intriguing food for thought and discussion and will invite many dialogues on the differences between liberal attitudes and other viewpoints.

By Stone, By Blade, By Fire
Kate Wilhelm
InfinityBox Press
9781622050215, $TBA,

By Stone, By Blade, By Fire provides another fine Barbara Holloway mystery and is a perfect pick for any collection strong in mysteries and thrillers; particularly those which have seen popularity with the prior courtroom cases featuring Barbara Holloway.

What seems to be the open-and-closed case of a young man who walks into a house and shoots a man in cold blood turns into a story of intrigue when Travis swears he is innocent - against all odds and evidence.

Barbara has her hands full if she's to prove that a fairly straightforward murder is in fact something else - and in her efforts to prove his innocence she finds herself on the wrong side of both Travis' father and a judge who only wants to close the case and move on.

The story opens with a bang: a stranger rushes into an attorney's office and collapses before he can make his needs entirely known. An unsigned client agreement, a whispered demand to protect information, and a dying man's legacy of confusion involves Frank Holloway in a puzzle even as Barbara Holloway faces a case that will take them all on a wide-ranging journey to ranches and countryside in search of a corporate scheme that involves murder as well as payoffs and danger.

There are many complex pieces to the puzzles Barbara and Frank face; from murder weapons and evidence based on erroneous facts to attempts to take down the government.

As Barbara and Frank's probe reaches into dangerous circles, By Stone, By Blade, By Fire heats up and soon the reader has no clear vision of who will prove innocent and who will prove a murderer. And unless Barbara can turn an impossible case into one with open-ended possibilities, her young client is certain to be deemed guilty as charged.

Half the story revolves around an investigation that turns a clear case into a complex set of criminal connections and half focuses on Barbara's desperate attempts on her client's behalf in a courtroom that doesn't seem to care about his potential innocence in the matter.

The blend of PI investigation and courtroom drama lends to a vivid story packed with tension and intrigue throughout, with a fine connected set of protagonists who all seem to hold their own motives for silence, falsehood, and illegal operations.

By Stone, By Blade, By Fire's constant twists and turns and high drama makes it a top recommendation for any fan of mysteries and courtroom dramas, carefully entwining personal destinies and motivations until differences between guilty and innocent become impossible to predict.

The Ultimate Guide to Building and Marketing Your Business with Google
Gabriela Taylor
c/o Amazon Kindle
B00851Y7PA (Kindle) $9.99 (ebook on Kindle) (print with CreateSpace)

The Ultimate Guide to Building and Marketing Your Business with Google provides important keys to setting up Google for maximum online business success, and is a winning pick for any who would use Google strategies to market any kind of business.

Chapters providing a basic history of the Internet's evolution and Google's place in the process lead to a discussion of basic startup tools that are as simple as setting up a gmail email account, installing Google Chrome as one's browser of preference, and using Google's calendar and docs features.

The 'meat' of The Ultimate Guide to Building and Marketing Your Business with Google lies in chapters which quickly move beyond basics into more advanced features applicable to business pursuits, from researching finances and competition using Google intelligence-gathering tools to establishing an online presence using Google Merchant Centre and Google Shopping, considering sitemaps and using Blogger to attract links and attention, and using YouTube and Google's affiliate networks to interact with an online community.

There are not only clear explanations at each step of the process which assume no prior Google knowledge or usage; there are step-by-step instructions covering 'what must be done to get started', reviewing the basics of setting up a business presence, starting an online ad campaign, and working with AdWords and Google Images to best advantage.

The result is a powerful step-by-step set of insights key to any successful use of Google for creating and building an online business presence, with clear guides that build foundations of knowledge and move beginners up to advanced functions in the Google work environment.

By the end of these discussions even novices will find themselves not only proficient at Google's options, language and operations, but able to readily understand more advanced 'tweaks' for a website, such as using Google's 301 redirects.

The concluding coverage of top 20 recommended blogs for keeping up to date on Google's ever-evolving processes assures that this handbook won't become outdated any time soon.

In summary, this book is highly informative, well written and is a fantastic guide for all small or larger businesses who want to get the most from their online presence. The author brings her own experiences and knowledge to the book and I would recommend it highly for any online marketer or business owner who's looking to make the most of the tools Google has put at their disposal.

Entity: The Spectra Series
Joanne Elder
MuseItUp Publishing Inc.
9781771270878, $5.95

Readers interested in a science fiction thriller centering around an evil entity and a lone man's confrontation with a changed being will find Entity, second in The Spectra Series, to be a compelling choice.

Its opening is gripping: madman Sam is given unlimited license to explore the science of his dreams; only it's not the science of dreams but of his worst nightmares. His Day of Reckoning brings these nightmares of death and destruction out into the real world when an extraterrestrial entity becomes involved, and a bloodbath begins.

Cut to Dean and his love Laura, just cleared from a murder charge that kept them falsely imprisoned. Energy life forms found on a mining mission caused Laura and Dean to become temporarily gifted with extrasensory powers - but their efforts to keep the entities a secret weren't successful, and the conspiracy to exploit these beings and their powers resulted in a murder charge to keep Dean and Laura in prison and out of the way of special interests.

Now they are free and probing the nature of these entities - only to discover there's a new malevolent force taking over humans and threatening to grow into a dangerous evil that will ultimately attack all that Dean holds dear in his life.

Solid doses of science blend with a detective/thriller plot and otherworldly supernatural influences that lead Dean and his love Laura on an increasingly desperate chase to corner the evil entity before it becomes unstoppable.

Captive souls, energy fields changed by the evil entity during its attacks, and an ultimate confrontation with aliens who could bring either peace or destruction to Dean, Laura, and the world make for captivating, fast-paced chapters that just don't quit.

It's one madman's vision against an alien entity's evolving capabilities, tempered by Dean, Laura and others who are on a quest to discover the real nature of the beast. Also woven into the plot are evolving universal questions about the nature of life, good and evil, and more:

"He needed some signal, some assurance that he'd done the right thing. After his brush with the entities he'd come to believe that perhaps with death comes life. Not a religious based ever after, but a home coming to the one true perfect existence - an existence on the same plain as the entities, unfettered by the negative emotions that develop in a world full of greed. He shut his eyes longing for an answer to that age old question. Is there something else?"

An unexpected, satisfying conclusion keeps ENTITY fast-paced and gripping from beginning to end.

The Carousel Ghost
Andrea Pelleschi
MuseItUp Publishing
ASIN: B007Y5TJVA, $5.50

Publisher's Website:


Young adult readers who love ghost stories, puzzles, and gripping plots will have much to like in THE CAROUSEL GHOST, a time-slip novel that tells of Kate's ride on a new carousel ride, only to find herself transported through time into the body of 1928 resident Isabelle, whose husband carved the carousel horse - and who may have murdered her.

Returning to the present with memories of Isabelle's plight, Kate embarks on a mission to uncover the truth about the ghostly woman's death with each subsequent ride on the carousel uncovering more facts about its gruesome heritage.

The captivating chronicle opens with a bang: "I didn't always believe in ghosts. I used to think people heard a creak in their attic late at night and called it a ghost. Or they saw the shadow of a tree branch on their bedroom wall and thought Aunt Lucy had come back from the dead. To me, ghosts were a fun and exciting way to pass the time."

Andrea Pelleschi's choice of the first-person immerses young adult readers in Kate's life and experiences as she moves from a skeptic to becoming deeply involved in an ages-old mystery with the power to lure her back into time - and trap her in the body and life of Isabelle.

When Kate returns to her own body and time and begins to investigate, history collaborates the names and people she's met in the past - and suddenly the reality of ghosts and her involvement with one changes the direction of her life, presenting a vivid mystery that will consume her unless she can help affect its outcome.

There's nothing to be done but to ride the carousel horse into the past again and again, risking the possibility of becoming stuck in a past life. For Isabel wants something from Kate - and awakens within her a newfound ability to communicate with ghosts and the dead. Can Kate find the key to free both herself and Isabelle from the past?

This gripping story will keep young adults engrossed and is a recommended pick for fans of ghost and time-slip stories.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

Poor-Sucker Syndrome
Mitch Vandell
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466487130, $11.99,

Money is attractive, but romances built on love almost fail as if by design. "Poor-Sucker Syndrome: The Story About Leeches and the Men that Feed Them" is a humorous guide surrounding gold diggers and leeches as Mitch Vandell suggests to readers on how to find themselves a mark or defend themselves from being prayed on by riches seekers. "Poor-Sucker Syndrome" is a strong addition for humor with a nod to self-help collections, recommended.

A Death In Our Family
L. S. Miller
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469923796, $19.45,

When you're at risk of losing something, you realize how valuable it really is, and this too is the case with life. "A Death In Our Family" follows Lassiter, known as Last, as he faces a terminal diagnosis from his doctor. Looking at his life for all its triumphs and flaws, he tries to piece together what's left of his life and leave something ultimately worth remembering. A novel of life and death, "A Death in Our Family" is a read that proves quite poignant, recommended.

Brad Anderson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432793357, $18.95,

The war between humanity and the supernatural rages onwards. "Guardians" is a novel of the blossoming war and the knowledge emerging to those who think they are simply another corrupt drug lord. Learning of the Guardians, ex-DEA agent Robert Mackie's task gets a lot more troublesome. "Guardians" is well worth considering for fans of thrillers, recommended.

A Million Tiny Things
Kenna Lee
Moles Hill Press
9780985021504, $15.00,

Trying to make a difference in the world while raising kids can sometimes be often overwhelming. "A Million Tiny Things" is a blend of environmentalism and parenting from Kenna Lee, as she shares her very human struggle to do the right thing and how to keep her spirits high when life seems to be out to break it all down. "A Million Tiny Things" is a strong pick for parenting and environmentally concerned collections, much recommended.

Changing Worlds
Donald E. Dambois
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466271111, $13.99,

A new friend can bring many surprises, some good and some very bad. "Changing Worlds" is the first entry into Donald E. Dambois's Dharalyn Chronicles, as Daniel Walkermann discovers a white haired girl who changes his life with her tendency to feast on the blood of humans. A riveting fantasy that explores the unseen, "Changing Worlds" is a strong pick for those looking for a unique twist on fantasy, recommended.

Harvey Shapiro
HSB Books
9781463660550, $14.99,

The Olympics is suppose to be the theater of human physical potential, and science has the ways to interfere with that. "Morphed" is a novel of the Olympics, as Dr. Speak Singleton, drug monitor for the 2012 games finds a new threat lurking to interfere with the game, as the human DNA itself may be rewritten. A riveting medical thriller that looks into the implications of revising human DNA, "Morphed" is a strong pick for modern fiction collections looking for something with a spice of near future science fiction.

The Blueprint
Daniel Rirdan
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470135881, $21.95

We have the technology to create a sustainable, peaceful, and harmonious world, so why aren't we doing it? "The Blueprint: Averting Global Collapse" is a political and environmental delve into the problems facing the world that seeks to bankrupt the manmade world and bring the natural world with it. With an optimistic outlook for the future and the value of technology, "The Blueprint" is well worth considering for social and international issues collections.

Love is Alive
James Josue
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432789886, $15.95,

Love is everything that makes life worth living. "Love is Alive" is a collection of poetry from James Josue, as he writes of his dedication in life to love and everything that spawns it, using his skill in many languages and creative formats. "Love is Alive" is a collection of poetry worth considering, recommended. "What's the Point?": "What's the point?"/You ask./Is Your life a sentence?/Finding it/Won't be a big task.//Hope/It's not "oops!"/"Why me?"/Or "I shouldn't."

Mark J. Terrell
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469904559, $12.95,

A rebirth of life's pursuits and principles can open us to many new things. "Apollo: The Power of Change" is a spiritual self-help book as Mark J. Terrell advises readers to embrace their own pieces of their lives and psyche. He advises readers to embrace their spirit and nature of the world, and find their own dreams through their imagination. "Apollo" is worth considering for those seeking an uplifting and motivational read.

Matt's Gift
Carol Lynn Thomas
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470052720, $9.95,

A game has the power to heal, if it truly means something to those involved. "Matt's Gift" is a novel from Carol Lynn Thomas, telling of Matt Collier, a struggling teen after 9/11. Encountering an alien who grants him the power to see the past, and how he sees links among the lines of time and gains a greater understanding of family. "Matt's Gift" is a fine pick for young adult science fiction collections, worth considering.

In the Course of My Life
Renata Reinhart
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463745257, $19.95,

Vengeance is a foul beast that brings the worst out of people. "In the Course of My Life" is a memoir from Renata Reinhart who recollects the Soviet advance on Berlin in the twilight of World War II through drama and fiction. Answering the cruelty of the Germans with the cruelty of their own, millions of Germans fell under Stalin's boot, and Reinhart shares a story from a perspective rarely heard. "In the Course of My Life" is a fine addition historical fiction collections

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Jockey on a Crocodile
L.H. Knickerbocker
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478179788 $14.95

The third novel by military veteran, former professor, and international consultancy founder L.H. Knickerbocker, Jockey on a Crocodile is an original novel written in the style of fictional superspy's memoir. Sylvester Van Zandt amazing achievements include heroic service in the Korean War and spying for the CIA; his gifts for language and infiltration change the fates of not only individuals, such as a would-be KGB colonel who wish to defect, but also heads of nations, such as when he quashes a plot to assassinate de Gaulle. The women in Van Zandt's life also show a flair for multitasking (to say the least), such as Suzanne, who engages in part-time prostitution to pay the bills for her legal studies, and Judith Ann, who may be the most relentless tabloid reporter alive. Irreverent, off-the-wall, and sometimes just plain wild adventure, Jockey on a Crocodile is high-spirited reading from cover to cover.

Shadows Walking
Douglas R. Skopp
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781439231999, $18.00,

Some crimes prove far too hard to forgive. "Shadows Walking" is a novel following a German physician as his patriotism for his country aligns him with the Nazi Party during its reign of terror. But after the Third Reich crumbles, he accepts a position as a janitor, seemingly escaping karma. But the guilt weighs heavily on him, and he seeks to confess his actions, to his wife, if no one else. "Shadows Walking" is a story of guilt and finding some level of redemption, much recommended reading.

Orphans of War
Randy Fingland
Regent Press
9781587901775, $12.00,

War has many casualties, as it consumes us all. "Orphans of War" is a collection of poetry from Randy Fingland as he discusses his many views through his art, with his thirteenth compilation. Worth considering for those seeking modern poetry, "Orphans of War" is worth considering. "Who's Counting": Some children/know the comfort/of a gun/more years/than the arms/a mother may wrap them in.

The Consequent Touch of McHenry Feathers
R. P. Poe
Privately Published
9780985482350, $11.99,

When a father vanishes from one's life, everything can change in an instant. "The Consequent Touch of McHenry Feathers" is a novel exploring the loss of a dear father, as a young Noll Spencer abandons college to support his mother, an act that comes with much weight and difficulty. With many intriguing characters surround him, author R. P. Poe puts forth a novel of coping with the weight of life, very much recommended reading.

The Exchange
Dennis P. Busche
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432786014, $14.95,

To give up everything we have attained so far a new life..."The Exchange: Mind to Body The Next Evolution" is a work of science fiction from Dennis P. Busche as he presents a novel, the first of a trilogy, as he explores this concept and what it would mean to human kind to be able to have this option, to switch their lives for a new one. "The Exchange" explores many intriguing ideas, highly recommended reading.

Architecture Laid Bare!
Robert Brown Butler
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466345935, $24.99,

Understanding a bit of architecture can't hurt one in their everyday lives. "Architecture Laid Bare!: In Shades of Green" is a discussion of architecture from a fifty year veteran of the field as Robert Brown Butler presents a study on the styles of architecture, its functions and how understanding it all can help readers gain a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the world that surrounds them. "Architecture Laid Bare!" is an enticing read with plenty to ponder to consider for architecture and possibly self-help collections.

Are You Kidding Me?
Elizabeth Glasband
Brighton Publishing
9780615584478, $13.99,

Romance is a checkered minefield with plenty of twists and turns. "Are You Kidding Me?: A Journal of Fist Dates, Flings, and Finding Loves" is a memoir of romance from Elizabeth Glasband as she shares her humorous adventures through love and how that pursuit of a better relationship has lead her on many intriguing adventures all over the world. "Are You Kidding Me?" is a must for anyone who has tasted the insanity that is the pursuit of greater love.

Blue Flute
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470023621, $15.99,

Many people, many cultures, many stories. "Fragments" is a wide assortment of poetry throughout the world today, from many ancient cultures around the world to the modern poets all throughout the world, presented in their original language and modern English, using photography and imagery throughout to touch on the many topics throughout. "Fragments" is a must for those fascinated by international and historical poetry, highly recommended.

The Battered Heiress Blues
Laurie Van Dermark
Privately Published
9780615579917, $14.99,

A single bad decision can wreak havoc on one's life. "The Battered Heiress Blues" is a novel of a mother facing the tough decisions that may result in the death of her unborn child. With the results of a poor choice in husband, acts of violence, and the one chance at happiness in her future, "The Battered Heiress Blues" is a riveting novel of the pain of the choices mothers make, recommended.

A Single Drop of Ink
Carla Ramsey Weeks
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469943046, $15.95,

Through freedom and servitude, everyone has their own goals in life, and not much will stop them. "A Single Drop of Ink" is a novel set in pre-Civil War America, as a household containing both freeman and slaves, blacks and whites, begins to self-destruct as pressures and stress from their lives begins to come forth. From attaining businesses, to feeling second rate to a family, to simply having family, and long rotting secrets, "A Single Drop of Ink" is a fine pick for historical fiction collections surrounding the topic of slavery.

Unsinkable Mister Brown
Brian David Bruns
World Waters Publications
9780974521756, $15.95,

Cruise ships are now the height of luxury in society. "Unsinkable Mister Brown" is a memoir from Brian David Bruns as he shares more stories from his life in the Cruise Ship industry, sharing his humorous adventures upon cruise ships, following up on his previous works on the subject, 'Ship for Brains'. The people you see on these cruises and the attraction of high class luxury makes "Unsinkable Mister Brown" a read that shouldn't be missed for those who love good stories about life and what passes for it.

Barack Obama
Okyere Bonna
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475115956, $14.99,

A new president always brings young people curious about the process. "Barack Obama: The Road to the White House" tells the story of Barack Obama, as Okyere Bonna presents a youth friendly discussion of the forty-fourth president of the United States, discussing a few of the issues surrounding the election, including numerical information surrounding the 2008 election. "Barack Obama" is worth considering for social studies and history collections.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Pharaohs of the Bible
Eve Clarity
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477447291, $39.95,

The Pharaohs of the Bible were the antagonistic villains of Exodus, but there was more to Egyptian history in scripture. "Pharaohs of the Bible: Mizraim to Shishak" chronicles the pharaohs who ruled over Egypt throughout the Biblical era, as the author delves into both scripture and secular history to provide an enticing history of Egypt and its role in the Bible. With reproduced artwork all throughout, "Pharaohs of the Bible" is a must for those who want a glimpse at ancient Egypt in a Biblical context.

Contracts to Kill
Robert Tyndell
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432789268, $14.95,

Killing is sometimes something that needs to be done. "Contracts to Kill" is a novel of intrigue and suspense following FBI Agent James Degler who is faced with many choices that will leave people dead in one way or another. As the decisions he makes get closer to his family, it starts to dwell on him stronger than ever. "Contracts to Kill" is a worth considering for fans of thrillers.

Stations Along the Way
Mark Shaw
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781620240137, $19.99,

The Hitler Youth called many youths under its banner. "Stations Along the Way: The Spiritual Transformation of Former Hitler Youth Leader Ursula Martens" is a biography of a Hitler Youth leader who tried to redeem herself following the war and Third Reich propaganda. Working with Holocaust survivors, she pieces together a renewed faith in life. A biography of moving away from the brainwashing of the Hitler youth, "Stations Along the Way" is a fine addition to Holocaust studies and biography collections.

Crashing Eden
Michael Sussman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477444894, $12.99,

A vengeful god is not one to oppose so freely. "Crashing Eden" tells of teenagers who manage to build a device that will deliver people through the gates of the Garden of Eden once more. Gaining the wrath of the creator in the process, they are faced with appeasing his anger, or the world as they know it will simply cease to be. "Crashing Eden" is a strongly recommended addition to general fiction collections and for those seeking something with a religious touch.

Clues Over Croissants
Allen B. Boyer
Cozy Cat Press
9780984840250, $14.95,

Too good to be true usually is. "Clues Over Croissants" is a mystery novel following Bess Bullock, ex-policewoman as she finds her sleuth skills haven't deteriorated when a new chef arrives at her retirement home and is a bit too good to be true. While trying to keep her senior romance going, she tries to find what's really going on in the kitchen, and "Clues Over Croissants" is a treasure for those who enjoy old fashioned Cozy-style mysteries.

Stealing Atlanta
Cary Allen Stone
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781439203149, $7.99,

The worst crooks may not actually be the ne'er do wells we expect...but those who already have millions to their name. "Stealing Atlanta" is a criminal thriller from Cary Allen Stone, telling of the blossoming friendship of conman Brandyn Wood and Federal Reserve of Atlanta Chaiman Portend Buford, as the two plot their plans to escape with millions to their name. "Stealing Atlanta" is worth considering for those who enjoy tales of heists, much recommended.

Faith Nuggets to Live By
Jawanza Kunjufu
African American Images
9781934155653, $14.95,

Faith can help see us through the toughest of times. "Faith Nuggets to Live By" is a Christian spirituality read from Jawanza Kunjufu who explores the meaning of faith. He defines what faith is, what life like is like living by faith, and keeping one's faith strong through life's onslaughts. "Faith Nuggets to Live By" is a strong addition to any Christian and inspirational collection, much recommended.

To The Moon and Back
Meghan Feran
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468137767, $15.00,

Our obsession over our own appearance can turn unhealthy quickly. "To the Moon and Back: A Daughter/Mother Journey Toward Eating Disorder Recovery" tells of a mother and daughter's struggles against anorexia and bulimia. The disorders enforce low self-esteem, because nothing ever good enough or thin enough for the viewer. Potentially fatal, they share their story in hopes others will take their cue to succeed. "To the Moon and Back" is a strong addition to health and memoir collections with a focus on mental health and eating disorders.

Encouraging Appropriate Behavior
Murray Irwin
9780987227805, $19.95,

Everyone can act in ways counter-intuitive to the situation. "Encouraging Appropriate Behavior: A Six-Step Approach" is a management guide that explains how to correct wrongful behavior and how to adjust problematic actions. Murray Irwin presents many principles to help diffuse difficult situations, finding the root problem, among other strategies to make it all work. "Encouraging Appropriate Behavior" is a strong addition to inspirational and motivational collections.

The Spirit Sherpa
Marc Littman
Privately Published
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470056902, $7.50,

There's no place for hatred when you cross over to the other side. "The Spirit Sherpa" is a spiritual memoir as a bigoted man faces death and what lies ahead of him in after life journey. His hatred will place many obstacles in his journey to his next level. With a powerful message and intriguing setting with plenty to think about, "The Spirit Sherpa" is a fine and much recommended read, not to be missed.

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Michael Chabon
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780007149827, $26.99,

For those of you who missed reading Jewish American writer Michael Chabon's Hugo and 2007 Nebula Award winning novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, it is a must read and the pleasure of the tale is in the telling.

This book is more than a wonderful alternative history focusing on Jewish life and religion. Michael Chabon attempts to imagine his way out of the Holocaust. It is a literary work that aspires to greatness and arises phoenix like out of the ashes of the richness of European Jewish civilization, with its art, language and culture all wrapped up in the deceptive package of a hardboiled detective novel, which utilizes the science fictional convention of alternative history, that is to say the parallel universes of what might have been had a few things been different, like for example if the American government actually allowed European Jewish refugees fleeing from Hitler to settle in Alaska in significant numbers, so that two million rather than six million Jews would die in the Holocaust. Incidentally, in this iteration of history the Second World War ends with an atomic bomb being dropped on Berlin in 1946. This was something Winston Churchill was really looking forward to doing if the war lasted long enough, according to official records.

The book is an incantation which brings to mind our own Native American's Ghost Dance that arose in the late 1880's in response to three centuries of European genocidal warfare, and sought to bring the back the buffalo and dance back into being the world as it was before the start of the relentless three century war of near extermination wrought by European invaders, who considered native Americans something that needed to be cleared from the land, perhaps like underbrush or maybe the mountain on top of the coal deposit, depending on whether we are talking about the 19th or 21st century .

Of course the Ghost Dance was a real historical event and culminated in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 in which US government mowed down hundreds of barely armed Indians with Gatling guns. In one way art is superior to politics and fiction is better than history in that it is a lie telling the truth, and cannot be suppressed or exterminated with automatic weapons. I would go further and claim that literature goes in where philosophy loses its guts; literature expresses a truth which transcends our individual and collective existence. This same truth is something most contemporary philosophers would like to wish away, so they can continue to play with their ethical story problems.

Let me digress a little in order to write about the about time fifteen years ago while attending a Medievalism conference. I got into a discussion with a medieval art historian. Not noted for my shyness, I asked exactly what he did working as an expert on a type of medieval script which was known as Carolingian Miniscule.

He said, "Well you see, Philip, all art is a gesture, that is to say it points to something and it is my job to get to what that thing is" I argue the boundary between genre literature and art is not like the Berlin Wall but more like a semi-permeable membrane that lets the real stuff through.

So we ask ourselves, what is the gesture of Michael Chabon's novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. According to his interview at the Voices on Anti-Semitism Project on The United States Holocaust Museum Website, Chabon found a 1958 travel phrase book entitled Say it in Yiddish, and wondered where it would be useful, since the Holocaust, according to Chabon, killed European Jewish Yiddish speaking culture.

In order to make the phrase book useful, he chose to write an Alternative History, quite a popular subgenre within science fiction and fantasy, but still unusual for the literary mainstream. Michael Chabon presents us with a contemporary alternative world, in which the outcome of the Second World War is different, and the State of Israel loses the war of independence in 1948, when its forces are driven into the sea by the combined Arab armies. Jewish settlers are given a mandate to settle for a sixty year period in the US Federal District of Sitka, Alaska, but now its 2008, and time as running out and Sitka's Jews must go elsewhere.

Michael Chabon task is to facilitate our imagining of a world without a State of Israel yet paradoxically not without a Jewish nation. Therefore, it is a literary task is one of fictional nation building, in which a nation means something other than a geographic location on a map, but rather culture which consists of language, customs, observances and rituals, which at least for a short time may be spoken and performed without retribution.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is Chabon's world is built from the bottom up, and it is built both richly, and dark and dirty at the same time. It sort of makes me think about ideas under the snow which appear with the first spring thaw.

The richness starts with names of the characters, places and expressions: Berko Shemets, Detective Meyer Landsman's (whose name is only a single syllable from real world Jewish gangster Meyer Lanksy), half-Tlingit, half-Jew partner or the Hotel Zamenhof, the fleabag hotel where Landsman lives, and the murder of the person who may be Tzaddik Ha-Dor, the Messiah who comes every generation.

Detective Meyer Landsman, is an alcoholic homicide detective with the Sitka police department, whose marriage of fifteen years broke up two years ago. It broke because of the seemingly inconsolable sorrow of aborting their daughter Django due to a nearly always fatal genetic defect. But his ex-wife Bina Gelbfish is still his boss at the police department, and there must be no open cases when the Sitka district reverts to the Federal Government and all of the Jews must go elsewhere.

The story is centered on the execution style death of heroin addict, former genius and probable Messiah Mendel Shpilman in Landsman's flop house. Mendel Shpilman refers to himself by the pseudonym Emanuel Lasker, the German Jew who (according to those in the know like myself) was greatest chess player who ever lived, The novel richly uses chess as a metaphor in many instances including the final resolution of the murder which comes close to being a mercy killing in which Mendel Shpilman's life was in Zugzwang, which means all of one's moves are bad, but still one must move, and each move only makes the position worse.

For, according to detective Meyer Landsman, Mendel Shpilman's thought his best and only move was his death, since in his mind he had failed all those who loved him, because he could be the Tzaddik Ha-Dor, the Messiah; the righteous Jewish man who comes once a generation to repair the world.

Chabon is very clever in that he hints that this is not just a folk tale: since as a child and young man Mendel Shpilman cured cancer in his father's mistress who was near death, and without even intending to, beat the world chess champion. Goodness was a part of Mendel Shpilman, yet because he was gay, on his wedding day he refused to marry, and broke his mother's heart. In the process he makes himself a dead man to his powerful father, Verbover Reba Shpilman, the "boundary maven " who is both a major figure in organized crime, and yet at the same times sets the boundaries both literally and figuratively within "the law."

The mystery is set against the back drop of the Jews being force to pack it up once more and go to re-established themselves elsewhere, as they have so many times before in our own realized history. The author makes me ask myself this question. Are the Sitka Jews of his The Yiddish Policemen's Union also in Zugzwang, a position where they must move, yet all their moves are bad, and perhaps their only move is death.

I think not. They are just about to make just another move just like the Jews have always made across history from the times of the great empires of ancient Egypt, Babylon, Rome, to modernity in the case of England, Spain, and of course the Holocaust. Yet even here as the novel is set against the backdrop of tragedy, really funny stuff happens, for example towards the end of the novel a slip of paper falls out of Landsman's double breasted, rumpled suit pocket that is a offer for a life time membership in a gym, good for two months or forever, whichever comes first. Philip Kaveny

Mean Spirit
Linda Hogan
Random House
1745 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019
9780804108638, $7.95,

Fiction is a lie that tells a truth:

In this review I am going to extend the metaphor of the Native American Ghost Dance to Linda Hogan's mystery novel Mean Spirit set in Oklahoma in 1922. Native American writer Linda Hogan has infused her novel Mean Spirit with
evocative power, according to a number of highly respected Native American Historians and late American writer Kurt Vonnegut, who used Ghost Dance as a metaphor in his 1951novel Player Piano to criticize an America run by industrial engineers who extracted every last iota of human dignity from the human work place the Ghost Dance was the real deal and scared pants off Uncle Sam.

The thing that terrified the United States government about the Ghost Dance in the late 19th century was its great potential of evocative and restorative power. More than anything this book set in the early 1920's is an a fictionalized indictment of the citizens of Oklahoma for waging genocidal and ecocidial warfare against the Osage Indians whose only crime was that they were accidentally relocated and given the mineral rights to thought to be worthless but actually oil rich lands. In a way it also is an indictment of the American Government of that era for not extending and then protecting the civil and property rights of Native Americans who were not granted citizenship until 1924. The book is literary classic but more than that it belongs on any introductory American history syllabus, secondary, high school or college. The novel is fictionalized, but according to the work Of a number of respective academics, historically accurate. In a sense this gives weight to the old adage: official histories are authorized lies, but fiction at its best is a lie that tells the truth. Linda Hogan's literary Ghost Dances the truth back into the world, sometimes to an audience of resistant readers like myself. In her award winning 1988 historical monograph Prairie City, Angie Debo, universally acclaimed as Oklahoma's greatest historian gives historical substance to Linda Hogan's fiction.

The literary quality of Linda Hogan's 1992 novel Mean Sprit is not in question since it was a Pulitzer short list candidate. However I will note that according to criteria presented by UW Madison Comparative Literature Department's James Joyce expert, Professor David Hayman in a 1972 graduate seminar, Linda Hogan is a very serious writer indeed because of her ability control, direct, characterize, and even critically understate in her narrative, all of which work to make her James Joyce's peer, in terms of economy of expression, multi-cultural resonance, and polyvalent meaning, along with her ability to create multiple points of view.

Dr. Hayman might have also have been impressed by her sardonically clever word play evidenced by the way she characterized Grace Blanket's representation of her 160 acre Dawes Act land allocation which is so barren nothing would grow on it, thus becoming her barron lands, in that now she is now the richest Native American in Watona Oklahoma (p 8). Of course it is her ownership of mineral rights to this land which give her oil baroness status, which becomes the motive for calculated and brutal murder, where she is hunted down and killed like a wild animal.

In a way Hogan is superior to James Joyce's because she is master of frustrating the reader, confounding and their expectation, and still keeping them reading. In the process she transgresses the genre boundaries that American editors have constructed for the genres of historical fiction or the hardboiled detective novel, and even the generational American immigrant family saga, all of which are lens this work may be viewed through. What she really does is the very difficult task of expanding her reader's horizons of expectation. By this of course I mean, the mainstream Euro American model reader who delighted in the Mario Puzo Godfather saga, both the books and the movies. Had Puzo written Mean Spirit rather than Linda Hogan we readers would have been waiting for Nola the frail teenage daughter of murdered Grace Blanket to grow in to an empowered woman, entice her mother's murderers one by one into moments of sexual ecstasy and bondage, and then slowly castrate them with a dull arrow head, because as you remember, in the tradition of The Godfathers fictionalized orphaned Don Corleone, as a child he flees Sicily to the haven of America, where he grows and then goes through the rights of passage into an empowered young man. As a matter fact (or should I say historical fiction) in The Godfather this plot takes place in a slightly different form within the rough time frame of Mean Sprit, and of course is wonderfully dramatized in the Francis Ford Copula film The Godfather. Don Corleone returns to Sicily at the peak of his power of young Euro-American manhood, and in the hot noonday with his own hands brings bloody vengeances to the murderers of his parents.

Linda Hogan does not give us the story we want but instead gives us the story that truth demands, the real story of fictionalized Nola Gray Cloud's courage and resistance in boarding school. Later she is a child bearing teenager sustained only with the spiritual power and dignity of her tradition, and the friendship and the support of some of her fellow Osage. She, like all the Native American, is without the Corleone luxury of violence and vengeance. In a sense she can never directly refuse any offer though she can witness for us and resist. Perhaps more like a fictionalized diary of Anne Frank, in which we the Euro-Americans become though our historical inaction and indifference like the good Germans who went along with Hitler even when the stink of death camps (reservations) was in the air, and now must smell the stink of death which is behind the celebration of much of our history since Europeans brought the gift of plague and death to what they called the New and empty world, which became their ideology.

Linda Hogan moves into a teaching mode of fabricating a lie that tells the truth, and by reversing one of the important reading protocols of the mystery genre, that is to say the "who done it." From the time we ask this question, who done it, we know the answer even if nearly all characters hide from the answer. In a way nearly all the characters who deny who done it, are like the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto of John Heresy's 1950 novel The Wall, who deny they are being ever more tightly encircled by the Nazis as they are being hauled away to their final solution. In the rest of the review we look at how Hogan gives what we need rather than what we want as she disturbs rather than satisfies. For example let's look at her use of detail. Why do we as the reader care about themake, color and number of cars in the parking lot of the Watona Oklahoma Baptist Church, or that the paying customers (all Native Americans or mixed breeds) are singing Amazing Grace? At least some of us know that the Cadillac Lincoln, even in 1922 were American very high end luxury cars, and that these were paid for with the oil money which is being referred to ironically because it is a curse in its origin in that it is really torn and plundered from the earth, and because Euro-American greed will cost untold Native American life and suffering. (p12) Turning to the next page we learn that as Moses Gray Cloud (a name transparent, with symbolic meaning even to a Euro-American like myself), sang with vigor as he removed his jacket from his hot dark grey suit, and his shirt was damp with sweat. A Medal of valor from the Spanish American War (taking place in 1898) hung heavy on his chest. (p15)

One asks this question, why does Linda Hogan use this curious turn of a phrase: "A Medal of valor...hung heavy on his chest." One usually thinks of a medal of valor as a symbol of pride to be worn proudly rather weigh heavily. I would argue that it is not the heat or the humidity in the church which makes Moses Gray uncomfortable, but the fact that it is a signifier of his complicity in the colonial war which expanded the American Manifest Destiny into the Cuba and Caribbean. The same colonial war which expanded the American frontier across the Pacific and involved the brutal occupation and war of colonial repression against freedom fighters who had fought for decades against the Spanish overlords for centuries, who were now replaced by three hundred pound American colonial governor Robert E. Taft. Moses is as complicit in this as he would have been if he had joined the Buffalo Soldiers to fight against his own people. Yet like the Buffalo Soldiers he was betrayed by the American government he fought for since the promise of citizenship in return for fighting and perhaps dying for his country was denied him till 1924, and then it was the kind of diluted Jim Crow citizenship which protected neither life, liberty or property.

I am not saying that this weight of the medal diminishes Moses Gray cloud as a moral agent; far from it. Linda has created him a morally aware agent carrying the weight of his moral responsibility. He is the moral agent within a world of Euro-Americans who are about as aware of moral agency and choices as swimming pool full of sharks about to explode into a blood feast.

For example, one, might also take as an example the following sentences describing a carnival which comes to Watona Oklahoma after payment day, the time when Indians get the mineral rights payments from Uncle Sam for the oil which was discovered on their otherwise worthless land. It evokes the circles in Dante's Inferno, yet does not require the reader know that information. "Just beyond those lights, whiskey peddlers sold their goods in the first circle of dankness." (p68) What Lilia did not know even [until the day she died was that was that her daughter's oil had forestalled the damming of the blue river (which meant).... The dam would not go until all the dark wealth was removed from the earth from the earth the earth (pp9-10) (the bracket up there, is it meant to be there? It isn't closed.) From the earlier mentioned church service. Joe Billy fanned himself with the sermon notes,"it's more than a race for. They are raging a war with the earth. Our forests and cornfields are burned by them. But, I say to you, our tears reach God. He knows what's coming around, so may God speak to their greedy hearts and move them" (p15) Yet I wish to look at this passage a different way first, through the epistemological lens of Standpoint Theory, which has its roots in the work of feminist theorist Sandra Harding's. He Her book Whose Science, Whose Knowledge argues drawing from Hegel, that those who watch from the margins since they have little invested in a system and are getting little or nothing from it, or in the case of slaves being objectified are in fact the best ones to clinically make accurate statement about the system.

One aspect Linda Hogan's Mean Sprit is that it has caused me re-evaluate my relationship to Sam who is also my uncle, and by extension his nephew Bucky Badger. Both, until the November 2010 election, have been pretty good to me and my family; as a matter of fact Uncle Sam and his nephew Bucky Badger, between my Social Security, and the Wisconsin retirement system check, pay me, protect my life, property and civil rights. But, there is a move afoot by conspiratorial groups like The Tea Party to revoke all the rights, privileges, and promises made to us American as they bring down the Federal government as we know it. Martin Luther King said injustice anywhere diminishes justice everywhere, and in the words of American writer Kurt Vonnegut in his book Bluebeard, "This time all we Americans will be the Indians."

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

My Favorite Fangs: The Story of the Von Trapp Family Vampires
Alan Goldsher
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312640200, $14.99,

After six centuries residing at the Abbey in Saltsburg, Austria the Mother Zombie tosses Maria the vampire novice out from their order. Stunned to no longer live with the zombie nuns, Maria obtains work as the governess to the out of control von Trapp family.

She is attracted to the Baroness von Trapp the succubus and the clan patriarch. Maria changes the family into vampires and marries the father. The family that performs together sips blood together. However the hills are alive with the sound of Nazi Undeath Squads hunting the undead including trapping the von Trapp troupe.

Taking a sarcastic bite into the Sound of Music, Alan Goldsher provides an overall amusing satirical tale although there are too many gross jokes that overwhelm the storyline. Fans of rowdy jocular horror (see Paul Is Undead) will laugh at the performance of the von Trapp vampire troupe.

Yankee Doodle Dixie
Lisa Patton
9781250007476, $14.99

With her marriage over as he chose boobs over her and their daughters, Leelee Satterfield decides to leave Vermont and the Dixie B&B and restaurant she made successful with the help of Peter the Chef to go home to Memphis though she rationalizes her reason for leaving is that the inn was her ex's dream. Before she heads south, Peter stuns her with a kiss (see Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter).

In Memphis, she makes a home for her two young children with help from her late parents' housekeeper Kissie. Her BFFs welcome her back to the real world. Leelee obtains work at a radio station and is attracted to a rock star Liam White who takes her with him on his tour until she realizes he has the cloned personality of her former husband in which the world owes them. She just wishes Peter would become southern fried.

The storyline lacks the southern invasion of rural Vermont theme of the first tale, but still readers will enjoy the further complications in the life of Leelee due the eccentric cast who bring to life Memphis. Although her return as a single mom seems too easy; as she gets by with a little help from her friends (paraphrasing the Beatles) and Kissie, and obtains the radio station position though her resume lacks any reference to air waves, fans will enjoy the return of the prodigal daughter.

South by Southeast
Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451650631, $15.00,

In Los Angeles, highly regarded director Gustavo Escobar hires actor Tennyson Hardwick to play the key role of the first victim in Freaknik, a zombie horror movie. Ten, his ailing dad and his eighteen year old not quite adopted daughter Chela are in South Beach for the film. Left back in Southern California is his ex-April.

During the shoot, Chela's street friend Maria arrives at the set. They go out together clubbing in Miami at the Phoenix like they did a few years ago before Ten took the former off the street. Not long afterward, Maria's murdered corpse is found with the police believing she was the latest victim of a serial killer stalking hookers in South Florida. Ten investigates the death and soon believes he knows the identity of the killer. However, the culprit commits suicide so the case is closed except someone murders a person Ten cares about and threatens the two females he loves.

The latest Tennyson Hardwick mystery (see from Cape Town With Love, In The Heat of the Night and Casanegra) is an exciting street thriller though between his reconciliation with his dad and his love for April and Chela the hero has lost some of his hard-boiled noir edge. For instance he is like every caring parent setting rules as he worries about his teenage daughter clubbing. His adversary is a diabolical brilliant serial killer who places Ten in what the military calls a Morton's fork selection between two horrible choices each leading to death. Readers will appreciate Ten's dilemma as death stalks him and his loved ones.

The Map of the Sky
Felix J. Palma
9781451660319, $26.00

In 1898 H. G. Wells, author of the War of the Worlds and The Time Machine meets with American author Garrett Serviss who wrote a sequel to the Martian science fiction novel starring Thomas Edison leading an earth invasion of Mars. Serviss informs Wells that he believes Martians are real and that he saw the ruin of a space ship and an alien found frozen six decades ago in Antarctica in the basement of the Natural History Museum. Though he has doubts, Wells decides to confirm the assertion. A drop of Wells' blood rejuvenates the alien. The Messenger from space walks out of the museum as H.G. Wells. Others from his planet plan on total genocide and terraforming earth for their habituation.

New York socialite Emma Harlow accepts millionaire Montgomery Gilmore's proposal if he meets her one stipulation. Though she is attracted to her wannabe fiance, she demands he brighten up her otherwise mundane existence by recreating the War of the Worlds. Montgomery would do anything for the woman he loves especially with her marrying him on the line so he sets out to make a Martian invasion happen. All the players converge on the day Gilmore is supposed to make this invasion occur.

The second Wells' transformation (see The Map of Time) is a fascinating historical science fiction thriller with three fully developed subplots starring full blooded characters who change as time goes by. Flashbacks are used to tell the present day scenario while also leading to a different ending than previously observed (sort of like the movie Clue). Filled with paradoxical twists Felix J. Palma pays homage to Wells with this engaging convoluted thriller.

Shadows Before The Sun
Kelly Gay
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451625486, $7.99,

Atlanta police detective Charlie Madigan wants to get her partner Hank the siren released from the siren stronghold Fiallan where Circe tortures the prisoner. However, Charlie is stunned when she is informed that Hank was executed. Filled with denial, she vows to liberate Hank any way she can including using the power coming from being part of three races; though Charlie knows that her use of her talent brings Sachath ready to claim her in Death. Meanwhile mysterious Alessandra offers help again.

Charlie heads to heavenly Elysia with Fiallan just beyond. At the same time, jinn mob chieftain Grigori Tennin searches for the divine dormant Ahkneri. However, his actions awaken Ahkneri, which places Atlanta in peril.

The latest exhilarating Charlie Madigan urban fantasy has the heroine on another mission impossible rescue adventure (see The Hour of Dust and Ashes in which her sister is in peril in Charbydon). Filled with non-stop action, readers will appreciate this exciting thriller as Charlie risks all to save Hank who may not even be alive.

Dying Echo
Judy Clemens
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200236, $24.95,

Ricky sits in jail accused of murdering his girlfriend waitress Alicia McManus. Attorney Don Winter notifies Ricky's older sister Casey Maldonado. She, accompanied by her traveling companion Death, hitchhike home to prove Ricky is innocent as she firmly believes he could not kill anyone though the cops and the DA believe they have a perfect case.

On the way she begs Death take her to her late husband and baby once they solve the case. Death informs troubled Casey that when he took away Elizabeth Mann, Alicia's real name, she alluded to the Three. Casey meets Eric Van Diepenbos, who offers to help her on her investigation. They along with Death look into the victim's history only to find a top secret past.

The latest Grim Reaper mystery (see Embrace the Grim Reaper and Flowers for Her Grave) is a gender bending thriller as the hard-boiled heroine kicks butt while the male is her softer sidekick. The whodunit is fun and fans will feel the anguish of Ricky when she is not kicking butt. Although the attraction between Casey and Eric never seems plausible except as Batwoman and Robin and the final confrontation has too much chatter, fans of the series will enjoy meeting another member of the family.

Champagne: The Farewell
Janet Hubbard
Poisoned Pen
9781464200793, $24.95

NYPD detective Maxine Maguire flies to France to attend the wedding of family friend Chloe Marceau in Champagne, France. At the gala, Max meets and is attracted to older juge d'instruction Olivier Chaumont; he introduces her to Detective Abdel Zeroual. However, the nuptials are marred when at the wedding dinner someone murders Chloe's fortyish widow Aunt Lea de Saint-Pern, the owner of a major vineyard.

A reluctant cop, Max plans to stay out of the homicide investigation that Olivier leads. However, she ends up getting involved when a second murder of a family member occurs. As she applies the sleuthing skills her dad Hank the legendary New York cop taught her, Max cleverly questions those in attendance only to find several suspects all tied to owning the vineyard.

The first French wine region mystery is an engaging whodunit starring an intriguing American with French blood from her mama and police blood on her paternal side. Though the ending is abrupt yet fascinating, fans will toast Janet Hubbard with Champagne for an entertaining action-packed investigation.

Scone Island
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen
9781464200557, $24.95

Former CIA agent turned Picketsville, Virginia sheriff Ike Schwartz and his fiancee Callend University president Ruth Dennis vacation at Scone Island off the coast of Maine. Though she calls him a chauvinist pig, Ike plans to be gentle with his Ruth, who recovers from injuries suffered in a neat fatal hit and run (see Rogue), and has had a year that would have tested Job. Ike selected the location for the amenities it did not have like phone service so that Ruth can rest.

The suspicious death of Harmon Staley has natives begging Ike to help on their inquiry while Ruth fumes. His CIA buddy Charlie Garland who helped him on Ruth's hit and run investigation tries to contact Ike who refuses to respond at a time unknown adversaries assassinate some of their former comrades with a Maine barrier island targeted next.

The latest Ike Schwartz thriller (see Secrets and Buffalo Mountain) is a superb tale from the opening bantering between the engaged couple until the final altercation in which Ruth rips skin from the CIA chief. With Scone island becoming Groucho's cabin in a Night At the Opera as a horde including Ruth's mom invade while the heroine insists they would have been better off in Vegas hiding in plain sight. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as Ike's past arrives with an avaricious vengeance.

The Dead Women of Juarez
Sam Hawken
Serpent's Tail
3A Exmouth House
Pine Street, London, England, EC1R 0JH
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th Street, Suite 901, NY, NY 10025
9781846687747, $14.95,

Texan Kelly Courter fought in the States as a welterweight. Now boxing on the other side of the border from El Paso in Ciudad Juarez, he is a middleweight but that is irrelevant as there is no weigh-ins before a bout; instead fighting south of the border is catch-all weight. He understands what the fans want is gringo blood and his face shows his comprehension.

Kelly is seeing Paloma, the sister of his friend drug dealer Esteban. At the same time, Mexican veteran police detective Rafael Sevilla investigates drug related violence in the border city that he believes is the factor behind the missing most likely dead women. Paloma joins the survivor's family advocacy group, but soon afterward men take her away. Rafael and Kelly team up trying to rescue the latest victim by solving the serial disappearances and probably murders of The Dead Women of Juarez.

Based on the real tragedy of the shocking female homicide rate over the last two decades, The Dead Women of Juarez is an exciting hard-boiled thriller that that throws plenty of hooks and upper cuts in a violent crime thriller. The storyline initially focuses on the washed-up Texan before placing the weary detective in charge. Although the transition between them as lead is weak, fans will want to go the distance with both of them as Sam Hawken provides a strong gory tale.

A Heartbeat Away
Harry Kraus
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434702579, $14.99,

Her peers and patients felt that top rate surgeon Dr. Victoria "Tori" Taylor is great in the OR, but lacked a heart; she is especially hard on support staff. Ironically, Tori receives a heart when she is the recipient of an emergency transplant.

Tori struggles to accept her new found feelings of commiserating with people rather than keeping her frozen professional distance. However, what disturbs Tori most is the recurring horrific nightmare of a murder. She wonders if her new heart is transmitting "cellular memories" from the donor. Obsessed with a need to uncover the identity of who killed her former heart's owner, Tori and therapist Phin MacGregor investigate while the cops thinks she became unhinged by her near death experience except for one veteran. Meanwhile someone knows the surgeon and the therapist are searching for a killer.

This tense medical thriller grips readers on two levels as a strong murder mystery and a second chance at life redemption tale. The fast-paced storyline deftly merges medical technology with amateur sleuthing as a Tin Man-like heroine figuratively finds her heart.

L.A. Fadeaway
Jordon Okun
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781451651980, $15.00,

In his early twenties, he was born with a gold spoon and a sense of entitlement as his parents gave him anything he wanted. His father being the head of a major talent agenct got him an entry level as position as a mail clerk at one of the most prominent talent agencies in Los Angeles. For following his elated dad into the business by adhering to his father's master plan for him, he was given a home in Versailles, an unlimited credit card and a very expensive sports car.

However, he is far from happy as the pressure on him to succeed due to DNA mounts exponentially with every promotion. He uses Xanax, alcohol and marijuana like candy to stay calm. His current job is the assistant to Nick Rizzo, which means being 24/7 on call. He does whatever his boss tells him to do even unethical and potentially illegal things. When David Michaels fires Nick, he survives by transferring his loyalties to the former. David assigns him the task of signing up a client so he uses blackmail to accomplice the mission. A chip off the old amoral block, he will do anything to achieve his goals.

With a nod to Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run?, L.A. Fadeaway is a fascinating character study of an unlikable but charismatic individual, whose ambition and his sense of entitlement enables him to stomp on anyone in his way. The nameless narrator makes the tale as a contemporary Sammy Glick who has no compunctions about his place as numero uno in the Hollywood celestial universe.

Luther: The Calling
Neil Cross
9781451673098, $25.00

In London, the killer mutilated the bodies of Tom and Sarah Lambert before removing an eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus from the womb of the female victim. The assignment to find the infant goes to Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, who is the best at apprehending killers though he increasingly acts unstable.

Already suffering from OCD and a failing marriage as his wife believes he is wedded to homicide cases; John knows the priority is to rescue the baby who hopefully lives. Filled with rage after years of unending battles with psychopaths, Luther vows to do anything to save the baby as time is running out. He also pledges to himself if he finds infanticide has occurred Luther painfully will kill the SOB.

This is an intriguing look at the case that drove the London cop over the edge mentally. The storyline is fast-paced, but does not quite capture the intense anger of the TV show or what led him to the precipice. Still this is an exciting police procedural as Luther will do anything necessary to save a life.

Dead Anyway
Chris Knopf
Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Road, Sag Harbor, NY 11963
9781579622831, $28.00,

In Stamford, Connecticut, market researcher Arthur Cathcart returns home only to be greeted by a horrific sight. A stranger has a gun aimed at his wife Florencia's head. He demands she sing a document. Once she does he executes Arthur and Florencia.

Florencia dies while Arthur is in a coma. Several months later he awakens. With the help of his sister a doctor, Arthur is declared dead so that he can obtain a new identity, which he learns is not as easy as TV claims. Still, his objective to learn who and why keeps him focused as revenge may be a dish served cold but tasty when the goal is left even colder.

The key to this powerful thriller is the difficulty Arthur finds in reinventing himself if he wants to function in a way that enables him to complete his life mission. Though his sibling's medical occupation is too convenient, the spellbinding storyline is fast-paced but character driven by an obsessed Arthur who will do anything to kill his killer; which means entering the lethal world of professional hit-men and organized crime.

Low Pressure
Sandra Brown
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781455501557, $26.99,

Bellamy Price never moved passed the murder of her sister Susan Lyston in Austen though almost two decades have passed. Now thirtyish the troubled Bellamy writes a novel under a pseudonym based on the homicide as a means of closure. Low Pressure becomes a best seller and Bellamy is exposed as the actual author.

Many people involved in Susan's life become angry at Bellamy for opening up wounds. Susan's boyfriend pilot Denton Carter is especially livid as he was at one time the prime suspect, but had a perfect alibi to exonerate him. Also upset is violent Ray Strickland, whose brother Allen was convicted of the homicide and eventually murdered in prison; he blames Susan for his sibling's death. When an unknown adversary trashes her house and attacks Bellamy and Dent, they team up to investigate who is retaliating for her book and why he is a target too. Dent also believes Bellamy's suppressed memory of what happened on that fatal night before the tornado destroyed the murder scene is the key.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense starring three interesting flawed individuals tied together by the late Susan as each has weaknesses (though sociopathic violent Ray would deny it after hammering your head with an object). The romantic subplot enhances the mystery by adding tension to an already taut situation. Action-packed, fans will appreciate Sandra Brown's Low Pressure.

Severe Clear
Stuart Woods
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399159848, $26.95,

Dignities flock to Bel Air for the grand opening of the luxurious Arrington Hotel built on the estate of Stone Barrington's late wife Arrington Carter. American President Lee, his Mexican counterpart, other foreign leaders and royals, billionaires and Hollywood's A list are among the who's who attending the gala. Also at the bash besides Stone are police detective Dino Bacchetti and lawyer Herbie Fisher.

Security is at its highest level as the Arrington is a prime terrorist target with so many of the elite attending the bash. NSA overhears chatter that targets the Arrington. They work with other agencies like the CIA's Holly Barker to prevent a calamity while Stone enjoys the party atmosphere.

Though the usual over abundant mix of food, sex, wine and more sex are major ingredients, this is an exciting Barrington thriller (see Unnatural Acts). Fast-paced once Stone and the alphas (Fed agencies not the TV series) begin their counter measures, fans will enjoy the latest Barrington tale though once again the hero's involvement seems over the top of the Hollywood sign.

Randy Wayne White
9780399158490, $25.95

In Florida, the squall sent strong fisherwoman Hannah Smith hustling her two wealthy clients to safety though Lawrence Seasons questions how she takes him and his companion New York attorney Martha Calder-Shaun to safety. Mr. Seasons asks Hannah to meet with him for lunch to discuss a case involving the other work she "inherited" from her late uncle. He says his niece Olivia sort of disappeared as none of her family knows where she is though she calls every two weeks to the executor's office as required by her trust. When Hannah asks what if his niece does not want to be found by him; he responds if she signs one legal document she gains control of $90 million. Finally Mr. Sessions explains he believes Olivia is living on a boat off the west Florida coast.

Though no longer a sleuth as that line of work failed to pay the bills and is normally boring, Hannah agrees to search for the missing niece as her fishing client makes an offer she cannot refuse; besides her strong sense of right coaxes her to insure Olivia is okay. She begins her search for Olivia finding clues that make Hannah wonder if the heiress was not voluntarily hiding.

With Doc Ford taking a respite though referred to, fans will appreciate tall, big and strong Hannah as she proves she is a super fishing guide and a not by the book investigator. She makes the storyline work though the support cast adds depth with diversity. Fans will enjoy Hannah making waves as she intimidates people with her size and her take no prisoners attitude while searching for the missing heiress.

Kelley Armstrong
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, NY, NY 10014-3657
9780525952831, $26.95,

The barriers that separate dimensions rapidly are vanishing. Creatures no one has seen before have crossed over to earth as the Supernatural Liberation Movement has used their powers to batter the earth and shake Otherworld.

Investigator Savannah Levine still lacks her witch powers, but knows she must be there with her friends when the confrontation occurs. She needs to be with them though she knows she risks her life and that some of her loved ones will surely die. She joins with the man she wants as her lover Adam, her guardians; her two siblings (one of whom she recently rescued from the SLM) and others to defend earth from within and from the paranormal invaders who no one knows how to defeat. War as perhaps not seen in eternity has descended on earth

The final Women of the Otherworld is a great finish to a strong urban fantasy saga. The storyline is fast-paced while bringing to full circle the series starting with repeating the first chapter of the opening act (see Bitten) in a fabulous good and evil confrontation. Though it is preferably better to have read the entire series to see how far the Women of the Otherworld have changed over the years; at a minimum newcomers should read the previous two entries (see Waking the Witch and Spellbound) that lead directly to Savannah's maturing into a responsible caring adult. Kelly Armstrong provides great final act to a wonderful long running show though fans will want curtain calls.

Caravan of Thieves
David Rich
9780525952886, $25.95

After going undercover in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Lenten Rollie Waters returns to his home station Camp Pendleton, California. While driving his jeep, two men shoot the window. Rollie forces them off the road. However, the brass claims he drove while under the influence and declare he went AWOL before tossing him in the brig.

Knowing the charges are false but aware that means nada, Rollie kind of expects what the CO wants from him. Thus he is not surprised when his superior officer orders Rollie to find his con artist father Dan and recover the millions his dad stole from the loot taken from Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Baghdad. To locate his father, Rollie must separate the needle of truth from the haystack of deceptions.

This is a powerful thriller starring two fabulous antagonists sharing DNA. The storyline is filled with stunning twists inside of an exciting investigation. The key to this enjoyable suspense is the deep psychological look at the dysfunctional relationship between a law abiding young man and his felonious undependable father.

Munster's Case
Håkan Nesser
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307906861, $25.95,

In Sweden, the four retirees (Leverkuhn, Waulers, Palinski and Bonger) win equal shares of the lottery prize of 20,000 guilders. Septuagenarian Leverkuhn knows his 5,000 will not pay for anything as he muses what an old grump he has become as he has no idea what he wants to do with his portion. His partners persuade him to join them as they celebrate at Capernaum. Before he leaves he fails to tell his wife of several decades Marie-Louise that he won some money and that he was celebrating with the guys.

Leverkuhn comes home intoxicated but before falling asleep he notices his spouse is not home. He never wakes up as someone stabs him twenty-eight times with a carving knife. With Inspector Van Veeteren retired, his top gun Intendent Munster leads the investigation in which the wife is the most likely suspect. The case seems closed when she confesses, but anomalies exist when one of the partners vanish and a neighbor his butchered.

The latest Inspector Van Veeteren mystery (see The Inspector And Silence, Mind's Eye and Woman with a Birthmark) is a great Swedish police procedural as the now misnamed series passes the torch to the next generation. Part of the fun is Munster's amusing asides, which accentuate his personality differs from his former boss. With a great late twist, Munster's Case is a fabulous investigative thriller as he proves he can be the lead protagonist.

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau
Guy Adams
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9780857689337, $12.95,

After lecturing his brother for living up a flight of stairs, Mycroft Holmes tells Sherlock and Dr. Watson that defrocked genius Dr. Charles Moreau was funded by the Crown to look into evolution after he had been exposed as an insane vivisectionist. Several years ago Moreau vanished. Recently London has been attacked by wild beasts in which Mycroft believes the culprits come from Moreau's lab; so he tasks his sibling to find Moreau before matters turn uglier.

Holmes and Watson investigate the deaths, which supports Mycroft's theory re Moreau's beasts. As they follow clues that lead to the Rotherhithe neighborhood, a raging Moreau vows to punish the scientific community and the Crown for scorning him by releasing his horde of Beast Men on them.

This is a superb Holmes mystery (see Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God) as Guy Adams has the great detective go up against H.G. Wells' Army of Dr, Moreau. Part of the fun is the appearances by other noted Victorian era characters from Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and Wells. The sleuthing is top rate as fans anticipate a confrontation or more between Holmes and the Beast Men.

The Devil's Madonna
Sharon Potts
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090495, $25.95,

In Miami, pregnant artist Kali Miller and her husband Seth dine at his parents' home when the hospital calls her. To her dismay, her beloved nonagenarian Austrian grandma Lillian Campbell almost burned down her house.

Kali questions Lillian about her mom's death and her grandma's life in 1930s Austria and Berlin, and the death However, the response is a shocker as her grandma seems paranoid, psychotically frightened and withdrawn while insisting someone from seven decades ago has found her. Wondering what is going on, Kali fears she has a stalker though she cannot figure out whom or why. At the same time she searches for a small painting buried somewhere in Lillian's house that is the key to the mystery.

This exciting thriller grips the audience with a need to know from the moment we meet grandma and never slows down until the final twisting confrontation that ties 1930s Berlin with present day Miami. Although over the top of the Austrian Alps, readers will enjoy this aptly titled entertaining chiller.

Bones Are Forever
Kathy Reichs
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439102435, $26.00,

In Montreal, Amy Roberts arrives at the Honore Mercier ER suffering from vagina bleeding. Dr. Kutchemeshgi realizes the disoriented woman recently gave birth, but is distracted by an influx of victims from a car pile-up. Amy leaves. Kutchemeshgi calls Surete du Quebec. Homicide Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan goes to the address Roberts gave to the hospital. She had used the name Alma Rogers at the apartment house, but is obviously gone. With forensic anthologist Temperance Brennan and several cops they search for proof of the baby. They find the remains of one in the bath; a second decomposed in the window seat and pepper the dog finds the third in a closet. Ralph Trees arrives for paid sex with Alva Rodriguez who apparently fled to Edmonton.

Joining Andrew and Tempe on the case is Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ollie Hasty, who had a fling with the latter just after her divorce. They head to Edmonton where they find a fourth newborn corpse. The trio pursues the mother who heads to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories unprepared for what awaits them as diamonds are not a girl's best friend.

The latest Temperance Brennan forensic police procedural (see Flash and Bones) is an exhilarating thriller in which the three investigators follow the horrible infanticide trail. This case especially haunts Tempe whose son died at three from leukemia. The relational triangle is a bit too coincidental, but adds tension to the storyline as the two men compete in different ways to claim Tempe who wishes both would tone down the testosterone. Fast-paced from the onset, series fans will appreciate this chilling tale.

Angel Eyes
Shannon Dittemore
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781401686352, $9.99,

Grieving Brielle Matthews the ballerina takes the train from Portland back to her hometown Stratus, Oregon, barely able to move as she suffers from PTSD after the death of her close friend eighteen year old Ali. Her dreams to make it as a dancer died when Ali died. Her family tries to help her cope with the heaviness that engulfs her heart and soul, but only offer platitudes.

At Stratus High school, she meets Jake Shield who moved into the previously vacant Miller house next door to her family home. He seems to be everywhere she is and she begins to heal from the death of Ali though she fears those she loves die as she is attracted to her teenage neighbor. However, the pair is caught in the middle of angels protecting them from demons wanting them dead.

This is an entertaining young adult good and evil urban fantasy as the Dittemore pantheon of angels and demons seems reasonable. The storyline starts slow as the audience meet the key players through rotation of viewpoints between the two teens, Canaan the guardian and Damien. Readers will enjoy this engaging tale as Brielle no longer trusts a God who allows bad things to happen to good people until she finds her life and soul (and that of Jake) depends on the angels of the deity she disavowed.

The Stars Shine Bright
Sibella Giorello
Thomas Nelson
9781595545367, $15.99

FBI forensic geologist agent Raleigh Harmon returns to the Seattle office after being suspended without pay for stealing potential evidence (without a warrant) while on an Alaskan cruise ship with her mom (see The Mountains Bow Down). Her boss back in the Richmond office Victoria Phaup, who disciplinary reassigned her to Seattle, wants Office of Professional Responsibility to suspend her for six months before terminating her; instead with the local SAC's approval her Seattle boss Allen McLeod assigns her to go undercover as the niece of an affluent racing horse owner, octogenarian Eleanor Anderson who claims races are being fixed at Emerald Meadows. Her case agent is Jack Stephanson who reported her illegal activity to OPR.

However as Eleanor shows her niece Raleigh David the ropes, more than just fixed races in which winning thoroughbreds lose occur. Soon some of the horses die. At the same time she worries about her mom who had a nervous breakdown on the cruise and reconsiders whether she wants to marry her controlling Virginia fiance. Still in spite of knowing she is her family's breadwinner, Raleigh once again crosses the line of procedue to prevent further killing of horses.

The latest Raleigh Harmon FBI investigation is a terrific undercover thriller in which the protagonist risks her career which is already in peril at a time she needs income to support her mother's medical care. Insight into Washington State geology is deftly interwoven into the storyline while the horse racing elements provide much of the background. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as the heroine tells Freud she is coming to closure.

Johnny Hiro (Half Asian, All Hero)
Fred Chao
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765329370, $16.99,

In Brooklyn, Johnny Hiro lives with his Pollyanna girlfriend Mayumi while he works across the Bay as a busboy in a Lower East Side sushi restaurant owned by Chef Masago; she accepts her role is that of the pretty sidekick GF to the hero. One night while they are sleeping, Gozadilla the monster that destroyed Tokyo crashes through their paper thin apartment wall seeking vengeance against Mayumi's mom who was a limb of giant Super A-OK Robot that kicked his butt. However, Johnny has experience battling urban blight waiters demanding greater tips for inadequate service or samurai carrying businessmen. Thus Johnny ruining Mayumi's bunny slippers leaps in a single bound at the humongous lizard hoping his reflexes keep him from an extended hospital stay as he lacks insurance. Thank goodness for Mayor Bloomberg or Johnny would not be there to play catch with a gigantic tuna, battling sushi ninja, arguing the law with Judge Judy in Night Court and dealing with the government failure to bail out that critical too big to fail capitalist industry, high heels; all part of everyday living in New York City.

This graphic version of the award winning Johnny Hiro survivor of New York City comic books showcases the amusing satirical adventures of a young man trying to make it in a city that never sleeps (as Gozadilla proves). The entries are fast-paced short clips with the B&W drawings lampooning the misadventures of the working class couple as nothing is sacred when it comes to life in the boroughs.

The Sundered
Ruthanne Reid
4th Floor Publication
9780985260002, $14.99,

The world is a terrible place to die. The darkened water is deadly if touched; and much of the planet is inundated by it except for a few small islands with those diminishing every day. There is no place to grow food so what you have must last. Finally there are the watery Sundered slaves, who most feel are needed to survive but are limited by how easily they die in this dismal realm.

Harry knows the final pandemic flood is coming soon; extinction is humanity's near future. Still he leads a team to include a highly intelligent Tier 1 Sundered seeking to save the planet before the orb becomes totally under water. The only chance is to find the long lost legendary Hope of Humanity; an artifact that enabled humans to obtain the top rung of the food chain and allegedly can cure the planet. Harry has a nightmarish choice between saving the Sundered and humanity dying rather quickly; and committing genocide by eradicating the Sundered so humanity can linger a little longer before expiring.

This is a superb cautionary environmental science fiction thriller in which earth takes center stage as the planet is changing by becoming uninhabitable for humanity who has abused it and is increasingly home to the Sundered. The fast-paced storyline grips the audience from the moment Harry explains the survivor rules and continues to hold readers spellbound as he takes us on a tour of a radically modified deadly for humans but thriving for Sundered earth.

Sour Lake Or, The Beast
Bruce McCandless
Ninth Planet Press
106 E 6th Street, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78701
9780615544861, $9.99,

In 1911, East Texans live in fear as a monster is viciously ripping people apart while draining the victims of their blood. Ochiltree County Sheriff Reeves Duncan knows he must end this reign of terror, but realizes all the advantages belong to the unknown malevolence who owns the night in this depressed area called Big Thicket for an obvious reason.

While the good citizens of Acheson and other towns blame Sheriff Duncan in spite of his almost two decades of dedicated law enforcement, he puts together a posse of undesirables and second class misfits (as the good citizens refuse to help). The team of unacceptable pariahs methodically searches the slough of Big Thicket seeking to end the gruesome beast's horror unaware that this monster has quisling allies and that there is an even greater danger to mankind.

This is an exhilarating gory early twentieth century horror thriller in which the taut storyline is enhanced with short backstories re the posse and the victims. Fast-paced with a sense of doom on every page, fans will appreciate this dark tale as 1911 East Texas comes to depressing light through grisly deaths and the eyes of a team suffering from PTSD with every mutilated body they find.

Pittsburg Landing
Robert Burns Clark
Definitive Words Cyber Publishing
9780985537500, $19.95,

Fortyish West Point graduate widower Will Moore knows the horror of war having served in the Mexican conflict. He opposes the War Between the States that have Americans fighting Americans. However, he joins the Union army and trains a unit in Indiana. There he meets twentyish surgical assistant "little Sarah" who years ago he taught to jump her horse. They fall in love and marry just before he leads his troops into battle.

Mexican War vet Amos Bingham vowed to never kill again after he killed over thirty soldiers in one horrible night. When the Confederacy called for soldiers to enlist, he refused. His family and neighbors called him a coward and his teenage son Noah, disgusted with him, joined the Southern army. Fearing for his son's life, Amos pursues Noah vowing to kill anyone who gets in his way.

On April 6, 1862, the two armies collide at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The fighting is brutal with Will and his unit at the front; while Sarah joined a field surgical team also near the fighting. Noah and Amos are on the other side of the combat that by the end of April 7, 1862 left 23000 dead.

The two soldiers and the surgical assistant put faces to the horror of war as the bloody battle at Pittsburg Landing (AKA Battle of Shiloh) proves a key victory for the Union and made the early reputations of Grant and Sherman. Character driven, military historical fiction fans will relish this insightful look at one of the most pivotal bloody Civil War fights as none of the lead characters want to go to war but each feels compelled they must.

Dave Freer
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146252, $16.95,

In 1976 the world understands that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" except in urban centers like London where smog from coal blocks out much of the light. In Fermoy, Ireland malicious Menshevik spies and brutal Imperial soldiers stalk St. Margaret's School for the Children of Officers and Gentlemen student Clara Calland and her mom who has secrets that if revealed would insure the sun sets on the Empire.

Mother and daughter flee Cork for London while pursued by airships and trusting no one as anyone can be a traitor. They feel fortunate to be picked up by the crew of the Cuttlefish, a smuggling submarine sailing from the flooded London's canals to Fortress America while evading the imperial steamships. On board, Clara meets underpeople crew member Tim Barnabas who lived in the tunnels beneath the city as the treacherous journey for freedom begins.
This is a faster than the speed of light steampunk alternate twentieth century thriller that never decelerates from the moment the Calland pair flee Ireland until the final confrontation. With a fascinating premise, readers who relish action to the nth degree will want to join the adventures of the Cuttlefish though none of the cast including Clara and Tim are three dimensional and most of the key players stereotypical typecasting.

The King's Damsel
Kate Emerson
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451661491, $16.00,

In 1525 Glastonbury, thirteen years old heiress Thomasine Lodge mourns the losses of her father Sir Arthur from a fever and her brother Stephen in a hunting accident. A letter arrives from a stranger, Sir Lionel Daggett who claims he is her legal guardian. A stunned Thomasine and her gentle stepmother Blanche meet with him as he explains he purchased her guardianship from King Henry VIII.

Sir Lionel assigns his ward as a Lady-In-Waiting to Princess Mary as a means to get inside the court where he orders her to become the monarch's mistress. She disobeys his command as she has no desire to help the ambitious amoral Sir Lionel gain insider advantages though she ends up in the Anne Boleyn's circle where she learns of the personal advantages of becoming the King's Damsel.

Based on a 1534 letter, this is an engaging Tudor historical fiction that brings to life the insider machinations during the 1520s and 1530s reign of Henry VIII. Thomasine proves to be a strong protagonist who seems real as she more than just survives the intrigue of a court in which innuendoes lead to executions. Although the romantic subplot feels out of place as the heroine learns lessons in manipulating others and surviving the manipulation by the same others. Still fans of Kate Emerson's Secrets of the Tudor Court will enjoy her latest sixteenth century thriller.

Resurrection Express
Stephen Romano
9781451668643, $25.00

Two years ago influential David Hartman killed Toni Coffin. Toni's raging husband hi tech criminal Elroy Coffin came after Hartman but took a bullet to the head and went to prison on an assault conviction. The bullet left Coffin with partial amnesia as he cannot recall what Toni looked like. Though his sentence is thirty years he expects to be out in five.

Two years after his conviction, a wealthy woman promises to get him released within two weeks if he agrees to help her rescue her daughter from Hartman. She insists that she protects his father whom he thought died and that Toni lives as a prisoner of Hartman. As part of his release Elroy works at a toy shop when Hartman sends armed thugs to send him a message by killing the innocent. His wealthy patron Jayne Jenison, her crew and the father and son Coffin males prepare to invade the Hartman compound.

Filled with no apology violence, this is a great action thriller as Elroy distrusts Jenison as much as he does Hartman because he knows both are affluent amoral a-holes who have no compunction over collateral damage homicides. He expects his patron will sell him out at the first opportunity; probably with a deja vu bullet to the head as no witnesses can live. Fast-paced, spell bound readers will appreciate this gory tale as violence is the American way to resolve rivalries.

Let the Devil Sleep
John Verdun
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307717924, $25.00,

Retired homicide detective Dave "NYPD Supercop" Gurney recovers physically from wounds he suffered on his last case; mentally he heals much slower (see Shut Your Eyes Tight). However, when freelance reporter Connie Clarke, who crowned him Supercop, asks a favor he agrees to help her journalism student daughter Kim Corazon with a TV series that evolved from her thesis on the impact of degrees of connection beyond the murder victims and their immediate loved ones; her focus was the unsolved serial killings of the Good Shepherd over a decade ago.

The psychopathic sniper killed several Mercedes sedan drivers in upstate New York; he left behind a memento of toy animals and notes raging at the avarice. Though he promised only one day, Dave meets the still grieving family members and becomes hooked with their plight caused by a lack of closure. Dave talks with the Fed and State cops who worked the cold case. Some warn him to Let The Devil Sleep as they fear he will awaken the dormant deadly demon.

The third Dave Gurney mystery (see Think of a Number) is an exhilarating fast-paced serial killer investigation. Loaded with action, Gurney works the cold case while also handling other inquires. Though somewhat typical of the sub-genre, the greed of the TV station heads, the reactions of the surviving families and especially the psychological insight into the three prime law enforcement officials from the original failed investigation bring a unique freshness to this exciting whodunit.

A Soul in the Wind
Richard Finegold
Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Road, Tamarac, FL 33321
9781595267504, $12.95,

Geriatric Gideon Fruitman reflects back on the so-called good old days. He was born on the road to the hospital during the blizzard of 46. His mom in spite of being related to a famous pediatrician failed to turn him in the crib so when the goo settled his head remained flat. When Gideon turned seven he finally found someone uglier than him when he saw the film the Hunchback of Notre Dame. In school he stunk at sports but was a haven from his cage in Revere. The four month snows of winter gave him a respite from his family and demands of enforced socialization (except for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings) as he recalls his family was a constant war zone that finally led to a divorce. Gideon never did well with females, which was affirmed when his wife filed for divorce while he recovered from surgery. He enjoyed schooling and became a lawyer who made plenty of money and had plenty of sex, but felt he never achieved nirvana.

A Soul in the Wind is deep look at the life of an early baby boomer as he tells his story of living during the epic technological revolution of the latter half of the twentieth century. There is little action as the storyline is more a delightful passive musings on what a discerning Gideon believes are his successes and failures while world changes definitions of both. Readers will enjoy this strong glimpse into how an elderly person perceives his life as he reflects on what he has accomplished and not done while wondering whether future generations will even know his name.

You & Me
Padgett Powell
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062126139, $23.99,

Somewhere spiritually near Bakersfield and geographically near Jacksonville, the dudes sit on a porch in a Mayberry of the mind near a liquor bunker in a rundown area debating anything and everything. They argue over who had the worst childhood, the impact of suicide, and visiting the creek to challenge Despair in a staring contest to see who first looks away. However, moseying to the creek or the liquor bunker requires action, but that word is a noun not a verb. No one intercedes as the puissant porch philosophers ponder the nano gnats like the extinction of barber poles and critical giants of the universe like Mansfield's smothering cup size.

Filled with word play and no action, You & Me is an intriguing metaphysical tale that raises difficult questions (with open answers) to key life issues that range from the true meaning of "Be neat, be brave, be Buster-Brown Bustamante" to "are we free? and "are we perfect?" Not for everyone, readers who appreciate something radically different and passive will enjoy Padgett Powell's dialogue of the absurd as the two dudes apply The Interrogative Mood to be or not to be.

After The Apocalypse: The New Way
David Anderson
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781105532887, $28.30,

Humans became the dominant hunter for one-hundred millennia because people remained in harmony with Enger. Then ten millennia ago, civilization is created and over time people became lost until on 12-21-2012 everything imploded under the weight of avarice as science and politics supersede Enger. However, some prepared for life After the Apocalypse. Led by the prophet David and his apostles, these blogger monks created the Hidden Node waiting for the right moment to emerge and guide the remnants of humanity on thriving in the New Way harmony with Enger.

Over two centuries later the monks surface to guide the remnant who survived. Their Supreme Council sets rules by consensus for the monks in Harmony; the mass remnants in Greater Harmony; the Hero remnants who show promise as aspiring monks moving back and forth between the two centers; and the banished. Supreme Council leader Jules fears a crisis as the Heroes are increasingly not choosing the path to monkhood. Two Monk offspring tweeners Joicila and Sort are the latest needing to make a decision, Jules fears they will reject the righteous path. Could the New Way go the same as the old way?

This is an intriguing allegory as David Anderson focuses on a New Way of life based on healthy harmonious relationships with others and with Enger. As expected with parables, most of the cast even the council symbolize aspects of life; except for the concerned Jules and the enthusiastic Joicila. Readers will appreciate this thought provoking cautionary tale mindful of Walt Kelly's Pogo stating on Earth Day over fifty years ago: "We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us".

Desire After Dark
Jo Carlisle
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237040, $15.00,

Just like her Valkyrie hard ass sisters Kassandra loves starting the day with taking her sex slave Taryn followed by breakfast before doing her mission. Kass is diligent when it comes to collecting and delivering the souls of the fallen.

In New Orleans, the three Fontaine vampire siblings (Aldric, Soren, and Luc) own La Petite Mort, an adult resort that caters to the fantasy desires of a variety of beings, not all human customers. Normally diligent, Luc takes a breather with a ride when a feral werewolf attacks him. As he fights for his life, he sees a sword yielding beauty arrive. Kass has come for Luc, but after centuries of loneliness waiting for her mate, the warrior ironically must deliver his soul into the afterlife. Stunned she must choose defying the Gods (and her vow) or defying her heart.

The second Lords of Pleasure romantic urban fantasy (see Temptation at Twilight for Soren's sensational saga) is a wonderful paranormal as the Valkyrie and the vampire risk all for love. The heated Carlisle mythos is anchored by promiscuity as demons, werewolves, Valkyries, vampires and uninhibited humans go after what they want. Fans will enjoy Kass' potential career breaker as she chooses to chain her mate rather than deliverance.

Temptation's Edge
Eve Berlin
9780425247846, $15.00

Mischa Kennan owns the Thirteen Roses tattoo shop in San Francisco. She flies to Seattle as a maid of honor at her friend Dylan Ivory's wedding in two weeks. Upon arrival in bad weather, she goes to Dylan's engagement party to Alec Walker (see Pleasure's Edge) and is also greeted by Dante DeMatteo and Kara Crawford (see Desire's Edge).

However, it is Alec's friend Connor Galloway who on their first encounter stirs her libido. Each agrees to a fortnight of no strings sex. As he mentors her in the pleasure of BDSM at the Pleasure Dome Club, she realizes he owns her heart, but vows to slink back to San Francisco once Dylan marries. Dominant in the boudoir, Connor feels like a nervous sub as he wonders how to change their casual tryst into a commitment relationship without driving his beloved running from him back to the Bay.

The third Pleasure Dome BDSM romance is a heated (duh!) contemporary erotica starring two fascinating lead characters. The storyline is filled with sex, sex and more sex and after that more sex (I kept expecting him to wear bandages as Dr. Young (Harry Reems) did in Deep Throat). Yet the relationship between the protagonists change over the two weeks as Eve Berlin tattoos a tender "edge" to this engaging drama.

Maya Banks and Lauren Dane
9780425247532, $15.00

"Exiled" by Maya Banks. Exiled Prince Xander Carrera waited on the island while his three friends (Sebastian, Garen and Nico) who also are his bodyguards bring Talia Montforte to him. The couple met four years ago when she was a teen, but though he wanted her he waited until she turned twenty-two and graduated from the University of Paris. Now he and his BFFs teach her multiple pleasures until he leaves to return to his struggling country while she goes home heartbroken though the royal is not finished with her.

"Sway" by Lauren Dane. On Bainbridge Island near Seattle affluent widower Levi Warner is twice the age of free spirited twentyish dance instructor Daisy Huerta. They each know they are wrong for one another, but both cannot ignore the attraction. As they enjoy their tryst, he must decide between his reputation and his woman; she already decided what she wants.

The full blooded (not just the lower head) cast makes these two enjoyable erotic romances; as Maya Banks makes the MFM relationships seem real even with a blue-blooded penis while Lauren Dane provides a "Delicious" BDSM romance.

The Amish Bride
Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736938624, $13.99,

In Lancaster County, Ella Bayer and Ezra Grundy have loved each other since they were children. However though both are Plain, she is Mennonite and he is Amish. One of them will have to give up a way of life if they are to marry as each wants.

To emphatically end the relationship, his family sends Ezra to work on the Kline Amish farm in Nappanee, Indiana. Her grandmother gives Ella a journal that once belonged to the elder's mother Sarah; she wants Ella to interpret the entries especially the drawings. Taking the journal with her, Ella shocks everyone when she follows her beloved to the Hoosier state. Ella obtains a job at Rosalee Neff's Plain Treats Bakery and soon meets Amish farmhand Luke. Attracted to the nervous Luke as well as Ezra, Ella feels fickle but knows if given a choice she will "have to finally decide and say yes to one and let the other one ride" (Lovin' Spoonful's Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?).

The latest Women of Lancaster County (see The Amish Midwife) is a delightful Plain people romance starring an independent Mennonite who risks alienating her family to go after the man she cherishes. Filled with fabulous twists including the early twentieth century journal, fans will enjoy Ella's dilemmas as she frets over making up your mind.

The Face of Heaven
Murray Pura
Harvest House
9780736949491, $13.99

In 1861 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Lyndel Keim finds two slaves in her barn. One of them Moses Gunnison says he is a man not a slave while his friend Charlie Preston is injured. If caught they will be returned to the Virginia plantation where Charlie will be hanged for his third escape attempt. Moses is valuable as he can read. Sheriff Jackson arrives to take the property back to its rightful owner to the chagrin of Lyndel and others. She, her brother Levi, her beau Nathaniel King, his brother Corinth and Joshua Yoder argue against the Amish "Thou shalt not kill," pacifism.

The community including three respective families shuns the five rebels. Though non-violence is imprinted in each of their make-ups, they feel a need to serve God by fighting against slavery. Lyndel Keim trains under Clara Barton as a field nurse following her Nathaniel and the Iron Brigade into combat. The three other males also join Union combat units.

The second Snapshots in History (see the WWI thriller The Wings of Morning) is a terrific Civil War epic that follows the emotional trials of mostly Lyndel and Nathaniel at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg. Both sees the horror of war; amplified by their pacifist nurturing. Character driven, fans will enjoy this Amish war tale as the lead couple knows they can never go home, but until he is severely injured at Gettysburg, they felt the cost was worth doing what they believe the Lord would want of them: to free the enslaved peoples.

Living In Harmony
Mary Ellis
Harvest House
9780736938662, $13.99

In Mount Joy, Pennsylvania John Detweiler takes his fiancee Amy King home to her family farm when they see the inferno. Her Maem and Daed die in the blaze while her three schwestern (Nora, Rachel and Beth) were not home at the time of the fire. John persuades Amy to marry him soon and for them to take Nora with them to Harmony, Maine near where his brothers live and land is cheaper.

John's minister brother Thomas and Sally welcome the two sisters warmly. Thomas also suggests the couple delay their marriage vows as Amy still grieves. While adjusting to Living in Harmony, Amy and Nora learn they have a shunned aunt Prudence nearby who they want to meet. However, the local Amish community is much more rigid on rule enforcement than back in Pennsylvania, which means they must never contact their banished relative. John agrees with the elders.

The first New Beginnings Amish family drama is a strong character driven tale in which the siblings' faith in God has been challenged by a bad thing happening to good people. They are further tested when they insist on meeting Aunt Prudence. Readers will appreciate this engaging Amish romance as Harmony proves a misnomer for John and Amy while looking forward to the stories of her sisters especially Nora whose path has been set in this engaging storyline.

Murder of the Cat's Meow
Denise Swanson
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237811, $7.99,

In Scumble River, Illinois, the previous occupant the late Mrs. Griggs breaks Skye Denison's Grandma Leonfanti's cookie jar. The frustrated school psychologist and police consultant warns the ghost to stop her haunting or else her fiance Police Chief Wally Boyd will not move in with her as most incidents occur when he is in the house.

Wally attends a police chief certification program in Springfield. Frannie calls Skye from Bunny Lanes with an emergency. Skye rushes over to the bowling alley owned by former Vegas dancer Bunny Reid. There she sees Elijah Jacobson dangling Alexis Hightower in the air using one hand on her throat while cuddling his cat Princess with his other hand. Bunny intercedes and accidently hammers Skye instead of Elijah. An injured Skye learns that Bunny, Frannie and computer expert Justin started a matchmaking web site in which almost exclusively cat lovers joined. Thus they host a cat show with Alexis as the judge combined with speed dating for the pet owners. Not long afterward the obnoxious judge is found dead in the bowling alley basement.

The return to Scumble River (see Murder of a Creped Suzette) is an amusing madcap cozy starring an intrepid heroine who muses how she became the center of craziness and a strong quirky support cast; especially wherever Bunny steps, trouble follows. The humorous storyline contains several other supporting zany subplots, but the prime tale centers on investigating the case of death by a cat toy.

Death In Four Courses
Lucy Burdette
9780451237835, $7.99

In Key West, Florida, Haley Snow works for Key Zest magazine as the food critic. She currently covers the annual Key West Loves Literature seminar which this year focuses on culinary fiction and nonfiction. Besides Haley and food critics from around the country, her mom from New Jersey is also attending the symposium in which famous Jonah Barrows is the featured superstar.

Barrows' opening remarks centers on the need for truth and transparency to separate the wheat from the chaff. He further explains his memoir will upset many people. After behaving like a moron with star attendees, Haley takes a respite only to find Jonah's corpse in a reflecting pool. KWPD Officer Torrance targets a close friend of Haley as the prime suspect. As Haley also investigates, a second murder of a conference attendee occurs.

The second Key West Food Critic mystery (see An Appetite For Murder) is an entertaining journalist whodunit though Haley seems more like an amateur sleuth than an investigative reporter. Key West steals the show as a talking parrot asks taxi riders where they want to go and the taxi bikes are fun. Although the storyline starts slow with readers meeting the egomaniac critics and the quirky city residents, fans will enjoy Haley's comet.

A Witch Before Dying
Heather Blake
9780451237637, $7.99

Infamously known for their witch trials, Salem, Massachusetts contains a tourist attraction Enchanted Village in which practitioners of the Craft (witches) can practice their skills without mortals knowing it. If a witch tells a mortal what she is, she loses her Crafty power. Visitors enjoy seeing "magic" performed but assume it is illusions by magicians as everyone knows there is no such thing as magic.

Sisters Darcy and Harper Merriweather relocated here from Ohio after their Aunt Velma told them they were witches. Working for her aunt's concierge services As You Wish where "No Job Impossible", Darcy the wishcrafter can make wishes come true. Elodie Keaton hires Darcy to clean up the house of her hoarder mother Patricia who vanished a year ago. Darcy stumbles over a pile that collapses against a suitcase, which opens. Inside is the mummified body of Patricia. Everyone assumes the motive for the murder was to obtain Patricia's possession the Anicula Stone, which grants wishes to whoever holds it as long as that wish is not evil. Petty break-ins with nothing stolen follow, which leads Darcy to believe someone is searching for the stone. She starts to investigate and almost gets killed by someone who believes she has the Anicula Stone.

Readers will enjoy visiting Enchanted Village, which lives up to its name as a sort bewitching tourist attraction (think Disneyland) as familiars like Pedro the mouse and Archie the bird soar freely. Although most of the residents use their otherworldly skills for good, a few practice evil dark magic. Having met personally the t village police led by her boyfriend, a caring Darcy feels compelled to help investigate as part of the "No Job Impossible" mantra. Though the usual elements of an amateur sleuth urban fantasy occur in the second A Wishcraft Mystery (see It Takes a Witch), fans will enjoy this entertaining paranormal whodunit.

The Donors
Jeffrey Wilson
9781936564460, $16.95,

Steve was already in a near rage when his woman had not returned home from work to watch over her brat. When he sees almost six years old Nathan cooking spaghetti O's in the kitchen he goes berserk. Steve breaks the child's arm and grabs Nathan's hand screaming he will teach him what a stove does; he burns the kid's fingers. Nathan refused to cry because he didn't want his mommy sad and alone. Hysterical; Sherry takes her "little man" to the ER where Dr. Gelman tells her the burns are full thickness which means Nathan will need the dead skin replaced by a skin graft. Sherry wants her now ex-boyfriend arrested, but he insists Nathan hurt himself.

Two lizards from another dimension garbed as humans Mr. Clarke and Mr. Smith work the hospital where they use suffering to harvest organs though they rationalize that they only punish abusers deserving torture. The pair fear little kids who can see what they are, but also know adults assume children have wild imaginations. A doctor Jason, whom never moved on from believing he failed his late mom when he was a kid, tries to prevent them from using a nurse he loves, and the mom and child as a tool to get at Steve though his gut screams the SOB deserves the same punishment he gave Nathan.

This is a powerful horror thriller in which readers will root for the vigilante justice of the lizard men to rip Steve one organ at a time while rooting for intrepid Nathan to not fall under their dark "spell". Fast-paced throughout and a strong cast, fans will appreciate The Donor, which questions what evil and heroism truly are.

Little Night
Luanne Rice
Pamela Dorman
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670023561, $26.95,

Sisters Clare and Anne Burke were close growing up in Chelsea. When Anne married Danish glass blower Frederik Rasmussen, he isolated her from her family and friends. In 1993 needing to see her beloved sibling, Clare visited Anne at her remote country home where her sibling, her niece Grit and her nephew Gilly welcome her. Seeing bruises on her sister, Clare convinced the trio to leave with her, but Frederik interceded. When he chokes Anne, Clare hammers him with a burnt log. The police arrested Clare who served two years in prison for assault due to Anne's testimony defending her spouse.

Almost two decades later in Manhattan, Clare, who has become an urban ornithologist, remains hurt by her sister's betrayal though she prays somehow they reconcile but has no hope as Frederik forbids Anne contact with her family. Twentyish Grit arrives at Clare's residence seeking to belong, feelings she has not received from her parents who live in Copenhagen. She tells her aunt her father physically and emotionally abuses her mom and her, and her brother died in a bog. As they bond, both hope Anne will one day join them.

This is an exciting family drama that focuses on the extended impact on other loved ones by a codependent relationship between an abuser and his victim. The key cast is solid including the manipulative violent Frederik though Grit's resiliency and Paul's dedication feel wrong. The depiction of New York as an urban rainforest with a vast variety of aviary is brilliantly captured as two female relatives bond while hoping to reconcile with the woman who is the one degree that connects them.

Rage of Lions
Curtis Jobling
Viking Juvenile
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670013890, $16.99,

Simple shepherd Drew Ferran learned he is the missing Werewolf heir to the throne of Lyssia and led a successful revolt against tyrant King Leopold the Lion and his cruel werelions who killed his father (see Rise of the Wolf). Now he and his supporters must turn from rebels with a cause to rulers with a cause though he prefers to return to the meadows as a free man instead of a king making royal decrees.

However, the reluctant king's halfbrother Prince Lucas the Werelion escapes kidnapping Drew's beloved Gretchen the Werefox. Leaving everyone concerned as his advisors insist save the kingdom before saving the girl, Drew pursues them with only Whitley the Werebear at his side. At the same time that Lyssia faces a leadership crisis, the Catlords led by Onyx the Werepanther invade the kingdom.

The second Wereworld young teen fantasy is an action-packed thriller starring a Were who knows he is unprepared to lead a kingdom as his flock has always been sheep not people (though some might argue his subjects behave like sheep). The kingdom is fully developed as young adult readers will enjoy touring the land with Drew as their guide. Although the dual cliffhanging climax will leave the audience disappointed, fans will enjoy the bloody trek getting there.

Escape from Eternity
Nate Scholze
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432789060, $15.95,

University of London math Professor William Nolan investigates an object that fell from the sky near his home. He returns to the house ordering his wife Katherine to give him his passport before leaving. Shocked by his out of character behavior she calls family friend John Barrington.

Calling himself Adrian, William flies to Chicago and from there goes to Ephraim, Wisconsin to see Teddy Bitterman. Adrian tells Teddy that Caleb lives in the Cycle and demands he help him rescue him. Teddy refuses as he lost his beloved wife Audrey and his sibling Caleb when he tried to assist Adrian years ago rescue the alien's missing brother Menonan. Pleading for his sister and him to be left alone, Teddy tells his visitor to look for the oldest Whitmore sister. Adrian locates depressed Laura Whitmore and asks for her assistance, but she refuses as her dreams died in a car accident. He explains why he needs her to find Menonan who vanished after putting down a coup attempt by creative aliens on planet earth many millennia ago. While she turns to her younger sister Michelle and her BFF Colin Benton, her father Howard vows to kill the alien and Katherine and John follow William's trail to Door County only to learn he killed Laura's abusive Adam Blake.

Escape from Eternity is a gripping science fiction thriller starring a strong cast with diverse tsuris in a Close Encounters of the Third Kind scenario adding to their woes. The complex twisting storyline built on an eternal cosmological premise is character driven starting with Adrian's possession of William's body and never slows down as the audience anticipates a confrontations in Wisconsin and beyond.

Darksiders: The Abomination Vault
Ari Marmell
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345534026, $15.00,

They seek what is inside the Abomination Vault left behind by the Nephilim. If they achieve their objective they will have at their disposal weapons of universal destruction that will end the fragile cold war peace between Heaven and Hell.

The only surviving Nephilim are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Death recognizes the threat to the universe from the shadows. With memories of what happened when his species committed all types of atrocities, he and his brother horseman War set out to prevent the raiding of the Abomination Vault; knowing failure is not an option.

This is an entertaining companion prequel piece to the Darksiders and Darksiders II games. Part of the fun is comparing the personalities of Death and War as the former prefers stealth sniper while the latter is more an infantry charging the hill. Although Death's barrage of amusing asides detract from the tension as at times he acts more like the Grim Reaper in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey than a horseman assigned to prevent the end of days war, fantasy fans (not just gamesters) will enjoy the two Horsemen riding ironically to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

Whispers Under Ground
Ben Aaronovitch
Del Rey
9780345524614, $7.99

Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector and registered wizard Thomas Nightingale assigns sorcerer apprentice London Constable Peter Grant to follow up on the lead of archivist Postmartin as to the whereabouts of two illegally trained evil magicians. Detective Inspector Miriam Stephanopoulos asks Grant to look at the murder of an unidentified male at the Baker Street Underground Station. He finds no vestigium but checks the nearby tube tunnel where he finds the murder weapon is a magical potsherd.

The victim is American exchange student James Gallagher, a son of a U.S. Senator demanding answers. Stephanopoulos' boss taunting cynical Soewell informs Grant he is now part of their murder investigation team since his Nightingale, who usually leads magical inquiries, is tied up with tracking the Faceless Man malevolent magician. FBI Agent Reynolds joins the team as does the other Folly member Constable Lesley May, who recently lost her face to a magical assault.

The third Peter Grant police procedural urban fantasy (see Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho) is an exhilarating tale in which the actions and reactions of the cast starting with the "Hogwarts Express" make the Aaronovitch mythos seem real. The murder mystery is clever with ties to the Victorian age construction of the underground. Although the overarching premise widens with no forward progress, fans will enjoy the antics of the apprentice constable as he and his cohorts work the Whispers Under Ground whodunit.

One Night Rodeo
Lorelei James
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451236845, $15.00,

Barrel racer Celia Lawson knows the womanizing reputation of bull rider Kyle Gilchrist which makes her keep her distance. Kyle feels the same as she is the kid sister of a close friend. They both go to Las Vegas where they get drunk and married.

The next morning his mom calls to tell him his mystical father is dying and wants to see him. Sarcastic Kyle mentions his wife to his mom. While Celia wants an annulment, Kyle likes being married to her. Dangling the end of their marriage as blackmail, he coaxes his spouse to come with him to meet his dying dad Marshal Townsend. His father is already dead but left him a sizable ranch and money. Kyle tells Celia he will grant a divorce if she helps him for six months with the spread while the no sex clause is negotiable.

The latest Blacktop Cowboys Wyoming ranch romance (see Wrangled And Tangled; Corralled; and Saddled And Spurred) is an engaging tale though fans of the series will feel a strong sense of deja vu. The lead protagonists are a fascinating pair who fight, fuss and fall in love while working the ranch together.

Sweet Deception
Heather Snow
9780451237606, $15.00

In 1817 British double agent Lord Frederick "Derick" Aveline heads home to Derbyshire with plans to leave espionage after completing one last mission: to expose a traitor. Derick has not been back at his northern most estate in over a decade, but what greets him is a shocker even for a spy like him.

His childhood adversary Emma Wallingford is the Derbyshire magistrate who is conducting a murder investigation. She makes it clear she expects the aristocrat to stay out of her official inquiry. However, neither Derick nor Emma can resist the unwanted attraction as each works their respective case while trying to conceal from the other what they are doing. Both are unprepared for the truth in which deception and lies supersede the seductiveness of love.

The second Veiled Seduction Regency romantic thriller (see Sweet Enemy) is an entertaining historical starring an independent female magistrate and a professional spy whose separate infestations entangle in a delightful twisting climax. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the dueling inquiries as fans will enjoy the antics of pair still battling one another after all those years.

Eternal Beast
Laura Wright
9780451237729, $15.00

Having been a captive at Mondrar prison, impure vampire leader Gray Donohue vows his peers will become free and equal or he will lead the rebellion to destroy the oppressive biased Eternal Order. However, he has one obstacle to his Resistance cause; his attraction to the mutore jaguar-shifting pureblood vampire Dillon who saved his life though she is destined to die for her shapeshifting ability which is considered a bad breeding omen.

Former Eternal Order member Cruen raised Dillon and her Duro foster brother Beasts. He has diabolical plans for his Beasts though Dillon is out of control as the jaguar seems to have taken control. She seeks vengeance on those who raped her while only Gray can calm the savage beast; but that intrudes on his leading the revolt for equal rights. Besides she rejects anyone interfering with her mission even her True Mate.

Expanding from the Roman Brother's Mark of the Vampire trilogy (see Eternal Captive, Eternal Kiss and Eternal Hunger), Laura Wright provides another super romantic urban fantasy as the prejudice of the Purebloods come under increasing attacks by those who demand freedom. The lead couple are a rare breed as each is filled with rage and acrimony as the cowardly senator learns, so that even being in love the True Mates seem destined to fail. The Eternal Beast is a strong thriller with a brilliant shocking late twist.

A Wanted Man
Lee Child
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385344333, $28.00,

On an eastbound Nebraska highway Jack Reacher seeks a ride that will take him to Omaha or Lincoln where he can ride a bus to Virginia. Two men (Alan King and Don McQueen) and a woman (Karen Delfuenso) pick him up; his goal is Virginia as soon as possible. In the other direction at a gas station is the corpse of a man who was professionally murdered.

County Sheriff Victor Goodman calls the FBI in Omaha who claim jurisdiction and leave with the body while a roadblock is set up to find the two men. The vehicle with Reacher manages to get around the roadblock and soon enters Iowa. FBI Agent Julie Sorenson leads the pursuit at the same time Jack realizes that Karen is not part of a trio but unsure why she is with this male duo.

Continuing Reacher's journey to Virginia (see 61 Hours and Worth Dying For), A Wanted Man is an exciting twisting thriller as the former military cop learns moms are right about hitching a ride. Though over the top of Panorama Point, fast-paced throughout this is an exciting Reacher tale as his biggest fear is being trapped in a motel in Kansas.

The Kill Order
James Dashner
9780385742887, $17.99

The solar flares bombarded the earth with radiation and intense heat leading to the melting of the ice caps quickly. This in turn caused flooding on a Noah scale that left millions dead from the tsunamis. Marc and Alec were in the subtrans when the floods began. Alec rescued Marc, Tina and other teenagers.

The teen group makes it to the 90-story Lincoln Building where they hope to survive the sun flares baking the planet. Eventually the survivors arrive in Appalachian North Carolina with renewed hope as the water and radiation levels ebb. A Berg low level flying ship attacks their settlement with a virus that spreads rapidly from person to person leading to insanity or death. There is only one possible way to prevent extinction, but the obstacles remain insurmountable.

This prequel to the bestselling Maze Runner young adult saga is an action-packed thriller in which surviving the apocalypse ordeal supersedes any deep character development; even Mark the narrator who tells the trek to the Appalachian Mountains in flashbacks has limited depth. Still the storyline is fast-paced and to reiterate filled with action, action and more action. Fans will enjoy this engaging tale though series readers know the outcome.

The Messenger
Stephen Miller
9780345528476, $26.00

Daria spent much of her early years in an Iraqi refugee camp. Her two brothers were killed and her father periodically taken away without cause. She has no purpose until she is recruited by terrorists who give her a reason to live and one day die for God. They send her to a Florence, Italy boarding school until her time to avenge her family arrives. She is brought to Berlin where she is infected with smallpox and placed on a plane bound for New York to bring death to the ugly American egomaniacal destroyers of the rest of the world. However, as she meets the real Americans, she realizes they are not bogeymen but people, no different than her, concerned with their families.

Scientist Dr. Sam Watterman's life was devastated when he was a prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax mailings. The FBI believes a biological terrorist attack has come to the States so they enlist Sam to help them trace the source. Though he would prefer to give the Feds the middle finger for what they did to him; he needs the money so he accepts the gig.

The early section focused on Daria's youthful sleeper years in Italy are incredible as the audience understands how easily terrorists win the hearts, souls and lives of suicide bombers as she obtains three square, a bed, and an education while the west offers displacement, starvation and rendition. Once she begins the trek across the United States, the exciting tale turns to a more conventional thriller as Daria is unsure how to rectify her error and Watterman finally realizes he seeks the Messenger of God. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this stunning premise as Daria makes it feel so genuine.

Dead Mann Running
Stefan Petrucha
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464743, $7.99,

The state executed former Liveblood cop Hessius Mann for murdering his wife. After his death, suppressed DNA evidence proved his innocence. To atone for their blunder the state applied the Radical Invigoration Procedure (RIP) to reanimate Mann as a Chak in which he is tested every month to insure he does not go rogue. The side effects are horrid as his IQ is gone along with his memory; his bones break easily and no lotion can help with the dry skin. He needs money so Mann becomes a private investigator with Misty the Liveblood as his office manager.

He asks who is it to a knock on his office door, but no one responds. Mann opens the door to see a hand attached to an arm holding the handle of a briefcase; there is no rest of the body. The arm enters the office taking the case inside with it. Leaving the case behind on the floor; the arm jumps out of a window. Misty orders Mann to investigate why an arm left him a suitcase containing two vials of a blue liquid; while adversaries seek the bottles.

The key to this super Mann zombie detective is the RIP seem plausible due to little nuances that enable the reader believe a walking arm seem reasonable. The Livebloods consider the Chakz an inferior race. Only Misty is an exception as she treats her employer with tough love affection as if he is a senile uncle who needs bullying not because he is a Chak, but because he is filled with self-pity. The mystery is fast-paced from the moment the hand knocks and never slows down as there are several people who will kill to get their hands on the vial.

Alex Hughes
9780451464750, $7.99

The Tech Wars destruction changed the social order as normal humans avoid telepaths. He seconds the motion as distance enables him to stay away from hearing the Mindspace thoughts of everyone nearby. The Telepaths' Guild exiled him allegedly due to his addiction to Satin, but he believes they, like the humans, distrust him though he has been clean for three years.

The eighth level telepath works for the DeKalb County Police Department where the brass always makes sure a normal "baby-sitter" accompanies him to insure he does not break the rules of telepathic use on a subject. He and his partner Detective Isabella Cherabino investigate a case going nowhere. Six bodies have been found in two months with no apparent link. Thus Captain Paulson hopes the telepath can find clues in Mindspace. Recognizing he is Cherabino's pet monkey performing Mindspace tricks, he finds a connection to the Telepaths' Guild and sees a vision of the next victim: him.

The nameless telepathic detective brings to life an alternate Atlanta just after the Tech Wars. He and Cherabino work the investigation that their superior says is not a serial killer case while also providing insight into each of their backgrounds without intruding on the whodunit. Unequal partners, he accepts his second class citizen as a way of life while she struggles with hyperactivity when not in the field. Filled with a great late twist, the first Mindspace Investigations urban fantasy police procedural is a super mystery starring two wonderful protagonists.

Kat Richardson
9780451464552, $24.95

Over a quarter of a century ago, the Seawitch set sail with four passengers and one crew. The vessel never returned to the marina nor found; until now. Twenty-seven years after the yacht vanished, in a Grey fog the Seawitch returns to the same dock in the Sound that it left from, but with no one board and in terrible condition.

The insurance company hires Harper Blaine the Greywalker to investigate the "ghost ship." Seattle Detective Sergeant Rey Solis leads the police inquiry. She is pleased that she will work with Solis who may be uncomfortable with the "creepy" that seems to come with Blaine cases, but always is professional. They jointly explore the Seawitch; Harper and Solis find ritual symbols written in blood. He focuses on what appears to be a murder while she follows clues that are as insidious but also arcane.

The latest fabulous Greywalker investigative urban fantasy (see Downpour) is a fabulous at sea "locked" yacht ghost story that hooks the audience from the moment the diverse detectives meet at the dock and never slows down as they work their respective cases. Spellbinding throughout, readers will relish this entry as the Greywalker and Solis, who is slightly less stressed with the creepy, follow the clues to what happened to five people on board the Seawitch.

Iron Gray Sea: Destroyermen
Taylor Anderson
9780451464545, $25.95

The Human-Lemurians alliance invades Saa-lon and Indiaa to take the war to the Grik at a time when the eastern front against the Holy Dominion remains perilous especially the air assault on New Britain. However, the alliance is unprepared for the strength of the feral Grik who with the help of Kurokawa prepared for two years for a different fight as they deploy surprising operational strategy and modern technology trapping the enemy military.

In the Empire of New Britain Isles, treachery and assassination shakes up the confidence of the people in their leadership. At sea, recently married Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy leads his USS Walker crew to search to destroy the much larger rogue Japanese destroyer Hidoiame that has devastated Allied ships in the north.

The latest Destroyermen alternate military thriller (see Firestorm and Rising Tides) is an action-packed tale as the Alliance faces a tri-front war. The key to this entry and the entire series is not everything goes well for the allies who are in trouble against the Grik at sea and on land; against the Dominion in the air; and against the Hidoiame at sea. With a superb shocking twist and a cast of seemingly quadrillion (scorecard included), fans will enjoy the world war on another earth.

Two Weeks' Notice
Rachel Caine
9780451464620, $7.99

Serving in Iraq as a soldier, Bryn Davis learned she handled corpses without her stomach betraying her so as a civilian she obtains the position of Funeral Director at the Fairview Mortuary where her boss Lincoln Fairview IV and his thug Freddy killed her. However, Pharmadene security chief Patrick McCallister revives her using the firm's top secret drug Returne. To obtain future daily doses of Returne, Bryn acquiesces to work for McCallister (see Working Stiff).

The FBI takes control of Returne while Bryn works at the Davis Funeral Home. She and Patrick begin seeing each other romantically and in supporting a Returne group to help users adapt. However, when the chemical zombies including her sister Anne start to vanish, Bryn fears the Feds are behind the activity, but will do anything for her next dose controlled by the FBI to extort favors and to find and rescue Anne.

The second Revivalist urban fantasy is a strong chemical Zombie thriller as the Working Stiff heroine finds her ultimate undying loyalty is to the government; no group manipulates the pharmaceutical "free" market more than the Big Pharma-Fed complex. Readers will enjoy this action-packed thriller starring two caring protagonists swimming in a sea of Federal and Pharma sharks.

Trust Your Eyes
Linwood Barclay
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237903, $25.95,

Sexagenarian farmer Adam Kilbride dies in a tragic tractor accident. His son Ray an illustrator returns home to Promise Falls, New York for his dad's funeral. With the death of his father, Ray's biggest fear has arrived: how to take care of Thomas, his schizophrenic map savant brother.

Thomas lives on the Whirl360 website studying and memorizing layouts of cities so when the internet crashes, he will replicate them for the CIA. However, Thomas goes viral when he demands his older brother investigate a homicide he witnessed on the Whirl360 images of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Reluctantly Adam agrees though he does not believing his sibling saw a murder of a woman on the net. However, a former cop and his ice pick henchwoman become aware of the pair's inquiry. The Kilbride bothers are now part of their cleaning up a botched crime.

Trust Your Eyes is a gripping thriller that increasingly turns convoluted and violent. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Thomas insists he witnessed a homicide over the web and never slows down as the reader anticipates a High Noon showdown on the mean streets of Manhattan between the sympathetic amateur sleuthing siblings and the vile vicious murdering duet.

Biting Cold
Chloe Neill
9780451237019, $15.00

In Chicago, Cadogan House vampire master Ethan Sullivan's return has Cadogan sentinel Merit rejoicing though wary of her feelings (see Drink Deep). However, the Merit has bigger concerns than the turmoil inside her heart as she learns her former best friend Mallory seeks the Maleficium; if misused it would free evil upon an unsuspecting world.

Ethan and Merit head to Nebraska where the ancient tome is safely stored. However, though aware of Mallory's misguided magic, neither vampire realizes that anti-vampire Tate wants to possess the Maleficium so he stalks Merit. At the same time the powerful Greenwich Presidium plans a coup to take over Cadogan House.

The latest superb Chicagoland Vampire urban fantasy (see Twice Bitten and Friday Night Bites) relocates the storyline from Chicago to the Great Plains as betrayal and duplicity leave the master and the sentinel in peril. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the heroine learns what Mallory intends and vows to prevent this pandemic horror from occurring and never slows down as she and her "sire' struggle to keep the nightmare from happening while others prefer the alternative.

No Way to Kill a Lady
Nancy Martin
9780451237057, $23.95

Society columnist Nora Blackbird knows why she is a former debutante as to be deb status besides ties back to the colonials means money and her finances lack the prerequisite. Still she feels pretty good that she has turned around her life though she is concerned about her two sisters; Libby is a sex scandal waiting to happen and Emma is pregnant refusing to identify the father. Nora also worries about her BFF Lexie who is in jail and her Mafia lover Mick Abruzzo who is serving house arrest time on her family farm and is running some sort of racket from there.

Still the three Blackbirds inherit Quintain from their late great-Aunt Madeleine, who died in Indonesia during a volcanic eruption. Upon arrival expecting a treasure trove they find a dump with seemingly nothing of value; Nora is especially disappointed as she and her aunt were close so she knew what was once there. The trio also discovers one more undesirable item, the remains of a body who apparently died at Quintain years ago. Feeling she owes Madeleine, Nora investigates but is impeded by cousin Sutherland Blackbird and lawyer Simon Groatley.

This is the usual zany Blackbird sisters' amateur sleuth (see Murder Melts In Your Mouth) as each clue leads to more madcap adventures for fearless leader Nora and her two assistants. Fast-paced, the three siblings make the tale as Emma is always hungry while eating for one and a half; Libby flirts outrageously with Sheriff's Deputy Foley; and Nora groans as the estate owes twenty years in back taxes as well as the need of massive renovation. Fans will enjoy the amusing antics as the trio investigates the murder and the estate neglect.

The Spymaster's Daughter
Jeane Westin
9780451237026, $16.00

Queen Elizabeth's spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham wants his beloved daughter Lady Frances to stay clears of espionage as that is a very dangerous occupation. However, Lady Frances proves a chip off the old spy block when she clandestinely learns to decipher coded messages.

Named a Lady-In-Waiting "In The Court of Elizabeth I", Frances soon has several opportunities to break cryptic notes. She succeeds and finds strong evidence that Mary Queen of Scots plans to take the throne from her English cousin. Sent by Elizabeth to spy on Mary, Frances faces danger in the Scottish queen's court if caught, but also contends with the mistimed attraction by the Earl of Essex and her servant Robert Pauley.

The Elizabethan background makes for a strong espionage historical novel as readers obtain a deep look at two powerful royal rivals competing to rule the kingdoms. Fast-paced, this complex tale grips the audience who follow the adventures of The Spymaster's Daughter as she conducts an undercover operation that her father would be proud of yet he is also frightened for her safety. This is a great sixteenth century thriller.

Allergic To Death
Peg Cochran
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425251461, $7.99,

Suburban Woodstone, Connecticut is a very expensive place to live as Gigi Fitzgerald knows first-hand. The only reason Gigi can reside there she is leasing a bungalow from one of her dieter clients, restaurant critic Martha Bernhardt. From her rental she sells Gigi's Gourmet De-Lite lo-cal meals for those who want to lose weight but also enjoy what they eat.

Gigi and Martha drive their separate cars when the latter munches on one of the meals. From just behind Martha, Gigi watches her drive erratic until the vehicle crashes into a tree; Martha dies. The autopsy reveals that Martha suffered an anaphylaxis shock from peanut oil in Gigi's repast. Police Detective Mertz closes the case, but Gigi differs as she knows she did not use peanuts in any form in the meal as she was well aware her customer was severely allergic. Besides feeling she owes Martha, Gigi knows her business is teetering. Accompanied by her friend Sienna, she investigate what Gigi believes is murder even when someone threatens to make her victim number two.

The first Gourmet De-Lite Mystery is a delicious amateur sleuth tale due to the fully developed cast; besides the obvious Gigi, who holds the storyline together, the secondary characters especially Martha known for her vindictive nature and Mertz who shows interest in the heroine as they bring depth to the entertaining whodunit. Although somewhat formulaic in terms of relationships, culinary cozy fans will take De-Lite with Peg Cochran's first recipe.

Heart Secret
Robin D. Owens
9780425253144, $15.00

On Celta the Iasc sickness spreads rapidly killing everyone except private investigator Garrett Primross. Although he lived through this lethal plague, Garret grieves the loss of his woman and her baby while also struggling with survivor guilt. Celta healers want to learn why he lived when everyone else dies; he just wants to forget the nightmare but the Iasc sickness returns with a vengeance.

Several years ago healer Artemisia Mugwort Panax's life imploded when her family was wrongly accused of participating in the Black Magic Cultist murders. Her blood went underground while she struggles to make a career out of being a healer as she is tainted by association. Garrett reluctantly agrees to be infected while Artemisia will serves as his only healer. Each knows they are HeartMates, but he remains in denial and rejection is a way of life for her. When the last missing Black Magic Cultist is executed, the pair and their Famcats are forced to investigate.

The latest Celta romantic fantasy (see Hearts And Sword and Heart Search) centers on two HeartMates, who are so traumatized they reject relationships as each knows even destined love hurts. The pair makes the tale as the guinea pig and the tester must learn to relate if they are to find the cure and identify the killer.

How To Tail A Cat
Rebecca M. Hale
9780425251294, $7.99

In San Francisco, the late Uncle Oscar's niece the accountant and the two feline siblings Rupert and Isabella move into the Green Vase Antique shop that she inherited. When the niece completes her daily jog she always brings home by Lick's Homestyle Chicken for Rupert to dine on; he loves the fried food as the snack is as good as Uncle Oscar used to make for him. While he savors the meals, his brilliant sister knows the source of the fried chicken.

Frog whisperer Sam Eccles visits the Aquarian to help ailing amphibians; however the frogs are assisting him with his plan to help Clive escape captivity. Isabella tries to coax Uncle Oscar's niece to follow clues involving the early twentieth century Steinhart brothers, who financed the aquarium. Clive escapes but misses his heated rocks while the niece and her feline roommates search for Uncle Oscar's treasure.

The thin storyline moves at a leisurely pace yet will enthrall fans of the Cats and Curios whimsical anthropomorphic amateur sleuth series (see How To Moon A Cat, Nine Lives Last Forever and How to Wash a Cat) with a unique tour of the streets of San Francisco. The treasure hunt and alligator hunts are fun and a delicious twist enhance this fried chicken cozy.

When The Cookie Crumbles
Virginia Lowell
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251485, $7.99

The 250th anniversary of the founding of Baltimore suburb Chatterley Heights is coming soon and the excited townsfolk prepare for the celebration. Gingerbread House co-owners Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs are creating a gingerbread house on the form of the vacant Chatterley Mansion where the celebrants including the two BFFs since childhood look forward to touring the place.

However, the tour ends before it begins when the last of the Chatterley brood, thought deceased Paine and his wife Hermione, who suffers from heart problems, arrive and move into their family home. He denies access so there will be no tours. Many people who looked forward to the tour are irate with Paine. Soon afterward, Hermione becomes hysterical when she finds Paine lying face down dead in the tub. The police conclude she is innocent as he was suffocated to death before the culprit placed him in the tub, something she could not have done. Though she knows to mind her business, obsessed Olivia cannot as she knows Paine made many enemies but theorizes he died due to avarice as the killer wanted his valuable Chatterley Cookie Cutter collection.

Cozy fans will enjoy the third delicious Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery (see Cookie Dough Or Die and A Cookie Before Dying). Olivia is a complex person who knows almost every town resident and they all know her; so encourage and abet her investigation as it takes a quaint village to solve a homicide case. Although Olivia has no motive beyond her bone marrow compulsion to sleuth, fans will appreciate her efforts as she escorts armchair readers on a tour of small town Maryland.

Bruja Brouhaha
Rochelle Staab
9780425251492, $7.99

In the Bay area, psychologist Liz Cooper is is normally and rational pragmatic individual; while Professor Nick Garfield studies the occult. Logically this is not a pair that belong together; however opposites attract in love.

The couple attends the sixtieth wedding anniversary celebration of Santeria practitioners Paco and Lucia Rojas, who own Botanica Rojas where they grow herbs for their spells. In the middle of the gala, Paco goes to answer the downstairs doorbell. Shots are fired leaving Paco and a gangbanger dead. Santeria Priestess Lucia falls apart and holds good citizens culpable for Paco's murder for enable gangs to thrive. She places a hex in the neighbors which angers them as they blame her for things going wrong dubbing her the bruja witch. Liz and Nick seek the killer so that Lucia can have some peace of mind before a "hexed" neighbor comes after the elderly grieving woman.

The second Mind for Murder Mystery (see Who Do, Voodoo?) enables readers to believe in the magic of the Santeria hex as things suddenly go wrong just after Lucia cast her Bruja Brouhaha on the neighborhood. Liz and Nick may be the oddest couple since Oscar and Felix, but their attraction is strong even though she prefers going slow having been burned by her ex and he wants to marry yesterday. Their investigation is light but entertaining as Rochelle Staab provides an enjoyable whodunit.

Master Of Darkness
Angela Knight
9780425247938, $7.99

Based on a prophecy, werewolf mage Miranda Drake believes she is the only one who can prevent her alpha father Warlock the werewolf sorcerer from killing King Arthur and destroying Avalon. While Warlock rallies the werewolf hordes to his cause, Dire wolf William Justice the cop is despondent that he failed to stop his enemy's Machiavellian maneuvers that have the werewolves prepared for war.

William vows to keep Miranda safe though she makes it clear to him she does not want another abusive alpha in her life after years of being on the receiving end from similar werewolves especially her father. Though Justice and Drake are attracted to one another, they need to trust and rely on each other in order to interpret the enigmatic prophecy before Magekind becomes extinct.

The ninth and final Mageverse fantasy (see Master of Dragons) is a great finish to an excellent saga. Fast-paced and loaded with action including heated lovemaking, fans will appreciate the final confrontation (turning T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" upside down), as the Knight Mageverse world ends not with a whimper but a bang.

Shiloh Walker
9780425250952, $7.99

Six years ago, Dr. Luke Rafferty left military combat medicine to become a civilian "combat" doctor working the emergency room working especially with abused children. His vocation introduces him to children's social worker Devon Manning. The pair are attracted to one another and begin a heated affair.

As they fall in love, someone stalks Devon; an individual who seems to know not so public facts about each of them. Whereas Luke believes he finally found what he was looking for when he left the military, his beloved social worker is reminded why she prefers working with troubled childhoods; her belief is that she only relates well with kids due to her awareness that relationships end in a relatively short time. She plans to end hers with Luke who she believes deserves better, but he insists he loves her. As he struggles to break down her reinforced barriers, they uncover the identity of her stalker, which only fortifies Devon's belief she can never have anyone permanently in her life.

This is a reprint of a 2009 exciting character driven romantic suspense thriller as Luke battles on two fronts. He must convince Devon they belong together and uncover who the stalker is and why. The support cast is solid especially Luke's reclusive twin and the other grunts from their military unit. Devon is also a strong character as he knows love is fleeting as people leave. Shiloh Walker provides a tense thriller starring a hero finding what he has been seeking seemingly forever and his FRAGILE beloved who is ready to flee.

A Perfect Home
Kitty Glanville
9780425247778, $15.00

Claire raises her children (twins Emily and Oliver, and baby Ben) while running her Emily Love business from the exquisite house that her husband William and his parents bought while she was away. A magazine is doing an article showcasing the house with Stefan the photographer. William spends most of his time renovating the house and lecturing his wife over the behavior of their children; only Emily is never criticized.

Stefan tells Claire the house is special. He surprises her when he gets on well with Ben and Macavity the cat. She talks to William about the article but he ignores her and instead mentions he will build a summerhouse. Claire and the kids have fun while William is unhappy that the shoot takes away from house projects. Stefan and Claire discuss Emily Love, Inc. and he orders an apron for his ailing sister. Stefan emails Claire saying he would like to pick up the apron. They begin to exchange emails until she says she would like to see him. They begin a tryst, but as they fall in love family matters and distrust separate them.

The key cast (including the house) is fully developed and more important so are their interrelationships especially William's obsessive love for the house. However, many American readers will find the cast's behavior (especially William and his obnoxious snobbish mother) too British and frown at a late separation caused by an overly used misunderstanding of the "other" woman in this character driven contemporary.

Stygian's Honor
Lora Leigh
9780425246078, $7.99

Jonas Wyatt the Lion Breed rescue his soul mate Rachel's baby daughter Amber from Philip Brandenmore who injected the infant with an unknown elixir. Though Amber is Devon's biological child, Jonas considers her his offspring ever since he knew she recognized his voice while she was in the womb. He vowed to find the antidote to the experimental drug that is killing his baby (see Lion's Heat).

Jonas believes only locating two women who survived injection by Brandenmore Research with similar toxin is the only hope for his Amber. With help from the Navajo Nation's Liza Johnson, Wolf Breed Stygian Black searches for the missing Honor Roberts and Fawn Corrigan who both vanished several years ago. Stygian starts his search for Honor who was last seen when she was a young teen in Window Rock, Arizona. However he also senses the Navaho and their agent conceal something important from him, but he remains resolute in finding either of the females while refusing his recognition that Liza is his breed mate until after Amber is saved.

This is an exciting Breed romantic suspense urban fantasy as Jonas sets the tone with his willingness to do anything to save the life of his child but also vows no one involved in those horrific experiments will live if Amber dies. The thrilling storyline is filled with twists as individuals find themselves yanked in opposite directions by people they care about. Lora Leigh continues to provide quality thrillers

White Hot
Nina Bruhns
9780425243985, $7.99

Fleeing across the icy Bering Sea with Chinese Black Ops led by Command Xing Guan in hot pursuit, U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Clint Walker knows he must get the stolen military plans back to DC immediately. In the Aleutians Dutch Harbor he seeks the airport, but the enemy found him. Desperate, he stows away on a cargo ship.

Ike de Coeur ship's Captain Sam Richardson knows those in the Richardson Shipping Company like her father, her ex-husband and her fired chief mate overtly detest a woman running a crew. She plans to prove them all wrong with this shipment of biscuits. At sea Sam finds she has a new crew member while Clint finds his captain beautiful especially when she is steadfast on accomplishing the mission.

The second Men in Uniform romantic suspense (see Red Heat) is an action-packed military espionage thriller with a superb White Hot romance enhancing the at sea adventures. Starring two strong protagonists and fast-paced from the moment Clint flees his deadly assailants on to Sam's vessel, the storyline hooks readers so much that it is impossible to put down.

Wild Texas Rose
Jodi Thomas
9780425250372, $7.99

In 1876 Texas, twenty-five year old Rose McMurray panics as she leaves Whispering Mountain for the first time in years to attend the wedding of a former school mate Victoria Chamberlin in Fort Worth. While most people who know her assume she is a coward, Rose knows why she fears adventure which goes back to the trip as a little girl from Chicago.

Like Rose, Texas Ranger Duncan McMurray is adopted. He has always kept little Rose safe and vows to do so while she is in Fort Worth. However, he inadvertently places his sweet Rose in peril from Owen and Jeb Tanner and their deadly outlaw gang who vowed to kill every McMurray. Though he needs to remain in Dallas on Ranger business for a few days, he arranges for his mysterious friend Stitch to keep Rose safe. Regardless several confrontations are coming to Fort Worth.

The return (loosely that is ) to Whispering Mountain (see Tall, Dark, And Texan; and Texas Blue) is a delightful Reconstruction Ear Texas romance that contains plenty of suspense and several tender romances. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Rose arrives in Fort Worth and never slows down as readers anticipate the battle between the Tanners and their ruthless gang, and the Ranger and his allies. Fans will appreciate this deep in the heart of historical Texas as love is everywhere but danger is the other side of the two-step.

A Brew To Kill
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425247877, $25.95

Clare Cosi manages the Village Blend coffeehouse owned by her former mother-in-law Madame DuBois. Business has been slow so Clare decides to bring coffee to the customer via a kart-truck that upsets the shop's coffee buyer Matteo Allegro. The Kupcake Kart's obnoxious owner Kaylee Crimini retaliates as she makes it loudly clear she will not drive idly by while the "Bobbsey Twins" steal her business.

Someone deliberately runs over Clare's friend Lilly Beth Tanga as she leaves the Village Blend. With Detective Mike Quinn out of town, Mad Max Buckman leads the inquiry. He concludes the intended target was Clare but has no motive why. Clare decides to look into the incident that has left her friend hospitalized.

The latest Coffee House amateur sleuth (see Roast Mortem and Murder by Mocha) is a superb whodunit that is refreshed by the heroine blending with a different detective on the hit and run case. Fast-paced and breezy with a touch of UBE, readers will enjoy this caffeine cozy as Mad Max and the coffee queen team up to investigate the attempted vehicular homicide.

Death Of A Schoolgirl
Joanna Campbell Slan
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425247747, $15.00

In 1829 in Ferndean Manor in Yorkshire, Jane nee Eyre and Edward Rochester are married and raising their baby Ned. However, Jane and Edward become concerned when Rochester's ward Adele Varens sends a letter begging for help in French that also includes a note threatening the child. Because of his eye injury flaring up (caused by his late first wife's arson of Thornfield Hall), Rochester will travel in a few days but Jane immediately heads to London.

She has never been to the big city before and has doubts leaving behind her spouse and their six months old infant, but Jane needs to know the child, whom she was governess to, is safe. On the way she is robbed but makes it to family friend Lucy Brayton. At the school, Jane learns that another student Selina Biltmore recently died. Deciding to investigate the suspicious death by taking advantage of the superintendent's belief she is a teacher, Jane obtains a teaching position, but her efforts to find the motive leads to much of the school wanting obnoxious Selina dead.

The first Jane Eyre Chronicles captures the essences of Jane and Rochester as Charlotte Bronte had written though changes have occurred to their lives with the arrival of Ned. Jane remains diligent as she protects those she loves like Adele. The mystery is entertaining fun, but it is what happened to Jane and Rochester since the classic ended that sub-genre fans will enjoy.

A Lady Never Lies
Juliana Gray
9780425250921, $7.99

In 1890 widow Lady Alexandra Morley flees England to avoid her creditors. She heads to the Florence, Italy area. At the same time, inventor Phineas Burke and his Italian rival Delmonico agree to have a race. To prepare for the contest, Finn travels to Italy planning to focus on his horseless carriage invention that includes abstinence from women.

Alexandra cons Finn and his two traveling companions out of their room at a Tuscany inn. Soon after they met, the two English expatriates realize they have leased the same castle. Though he knows he needs to steer clear of her, Finn finds Alexandra a welcome distraction. As they fall in love, he learns she has financial interests in Manchester Machine Works horseless steamer. Irate, Finn becomes apoplectic when Alexandra enters the road race.

This is a strong late Victorian romance that takes readers on a joy ride in Italy to an era when the horseless carriage battled traditional modes of transportation and competed within on different ironically still timely power sources that include electric vs. combustible. The protagonists are fully developed interesting individuals while the support cast adds eccentricity to a wonderful historical.

Blackstone's Bride
Kate Moore
9780425250884, $7.99

In 1825 as he sails home on the HMS Redemption, Lyle Massing, Baron Blackstone, knows poverty awaits him as his family paid the ransom to free him from Greek warlord Vasiladi. In England, needing money, Lyle agrees to go undercover as a government agent trying to prevent a foreign operative from deploying a deadly mission. He pretends to be an amoral rake who allegedly had a harem and owns an infamous portrait of his voluptuous mistress.

The women want him, but his first assignment is pretending to be the fiance to the one female who loathes him heiress Violet Hammersley. She prefers to ignore the SOB who humiliated and broke her heart a few years ago, but needs his help to find her missing brother, a British agent who vanished as he was delivering a critical report, so she agrees to the fake engagement. As each realizes they remain in love and begin to close in on the clever enemy, Violet learns Lyle's secret.

This an entertaining second chance at love late regency espionage romance starring the wealthy banker's daughter and the scandalous rake. The gender war is fun to follow as neither trust the other with their back and especially with their heart; yet they have no choice except to team up. The undercover subplot is exciting and filled with tension partially because the engaged couple distrusts one anther leaving them further likely to suffer a defeat from a diabolical foe. Fans will enjoy this engaging historical.

Wedded In Sin
Jade Lee
9780425251034, $7.99

Dispossessed second son Samuel Morrison notices things that most people ignore. He watches a young woman holding a crying boy while she shouts at someone inside the Shoemaker's house where she just was evicted. However, everyone saw that scene including the constables, but Samuel realizes her screaming tantrum is a sleight of the hand ruse to enable her to toss unnoticed (except by him) a bag onto the rubbish. The garbage she deftly threw away seems to contain a man's foot.

Unable to resist Samuel offers to help Penny Shoemaker with her problems. She explains that her parents were murdered, her inheritance stolen, and the family business gone. Furthermore Penny says she supports her brother and herself by designing shoes for A Lady's Favor dress shop. As he investigates her claims, they fall in love, but someone wants to prevent the sleuth and the shoemaker from learning the truth.

The latest A Bridal Favors historical romance (see Wedded In Scandal) is a wonderful tale due to the fresh protagonists teaming up on the investigation. Samuel is a fascinating individual who sees the world rather differently than apparently everyone else; his observatory skill makes him an ideal detective. Fans will enjoy the escapades of the amateur sleuth and his "client" as they fall in love while trying to solve the mysteries that threaten the shoemaker and her sibling.

Hold Me
Betsy Horvath
Carina Press
9780373062676, $7.00

Katie McCabe watched her fiance Tom doing up and down exercise with the body of his supervisor Brandy as his mat. Irate she used a broom as a stickball bat with the pair as the Spaldeen before dumping the SOB, but was fired from the company where all three work due to her assault.

Six months later, Katie waits at a red light when a man yanks open her passenger door and jumps into her vehicle. Seconds later a stunned Katie realizes people are shooting at her Nova. He screams at her to drive, which she does as she realizes her life is still spiraling downward. The mob wants no longer undercover FBI agent Luc Vasco dead and they have come close to achieving their objective. Only the Nova enabled him to escape but places a civilian in jeopardy from a psychopathic offspring of a deadly mob chieftain. Luc vows to keep her safe, but conceals one fact from his savior that would have her join the enemy.

Hold me is an exciting romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists. Fast-paced from the moment Luc dives through a window to the street and into Katie's life, and never slowing down, fans will enjoy this fun tale though the degrees of separation are over the top of Harrah's Waterfront Tower.

A Way With Murder
R. J. Jagger
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street,5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781605983639, $25.99,

In 1952 in Denver, Secret St. Rain enters the office of private investigator Bryson Wilde unsure whether she is in trouble as she saw a woman fall to her death when someone dangling her out of a window let go. Secret says she could not see the man as he was in the dark but he could see her as she was near a streetlight. She wants him to trap the killer of Charley-Anna Blackridge before he might come after her.

In his other case Colder and Jones lawyer London Marshall tells Bryson she is in trouble because of what she saw on her most recent annual visit to the Mexican Pyramids. She climbed through an opening and found a casket that contained a shocker inside of it. Frightened she also heard breathing nearby as London fled the scene but fears her adversary saw her and will come for her.

The latest Bryson Wilde private investigative thriller (see Lawyer Trap) is a great historical noir that captures the essence of the 1950s hardboiled detective. Bryson is superb as he has away with female clients who get him in trouble and he, in turn, gets his assistant Alabama in trouble. Readers will appreciate this Wilde historical as Bryson works two femme fatale (even in a baseball cap) cases.

Death in C Minor
Rebecca Yount
Rebecca Yount
B008BY13RQ $0.99; 9781467514996

Her World Bank administrator husband left renowned concert pianist Jessica Beaumont for his Swedish secretary. Soon after that a hit and run driver killed her ten years old son Boyd. Emotionally, unable to perform on stage she skipped shows and attempted suicide. Needing to escape, Jess rents a cottage from the Stanhopes in Kenwick, Essex while the professor teaches at Harvard. When Jess meets Adam Marr, heir to the local earldom, they begin a tryst.

One year ago someone hacked to death Peter Chandler in his home in Kenwick. Jess asks the Fish and Chips gang about the homicide, but they refuse to talk about it. Meanwhile New Scotland Yard Cold Case Detective Inspector Mick Chandra and his only teammate Detective Sergeant Elizabeth Chang reopen the case. He heads to Kenwick hoping to stay at the Stanhope house like he did last year. When Jess and Mick meet, each feels the attraction that neither wants but both needs after their previous marriages ended in divorce. As they fall in love, he works the case while she finds a key clue that has the killer preparing to eliminate the nosy Yank.

This is an exciting romantic police procedural starring two wonderful characters reeling from failed marriages and separation from their children (her son is dead and his son lives with his ex in another city). The inquiry is engaging though I doubt a cop would answer a civilian's series of questions about a murder case. With a strong support cast of wealthy Brits, an entertaining whodunit, and the healing power of love supported by Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata in the background make for an enjoyable character driven drama.

The Other Woman's House
Sophie Hannah
Penguin Press
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780143121510, $15.00,

In 2010 thirtyish bookkeeper Connie Bowskill goes on line to look at a house for sale in Cambridge that haunts her soul though she has no proof of what she thinks is going on there. As she virtually tours 11 Bentley Grove, she finds something even more horrifying when she sees a woman lying perfectly still in a pool of blood. Shocked she calls her husband Kit to take a look; but by the time he gets to the computer, the corpse and blood are gone. Connie ignores her husband's plea to write it off as her imagination going wild; instead she informs the police.

Detective Sergeant Sam Kombothekra leads the investigation on which another on line witness affirms Connie's assertion. When Detective Sergeant Charlotte "Charlie" Zailer and Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse return from their honeymoon, they join the official inquiry. At the same time, Connie fears her adoring husband is behaving amoral and perhaps illegally at 11 Bentley Grove.

The latest Zailer and Waterhouse police procedural (see Hurting Distance and Cradle in the Grave), is an entertaining mystery with a Hitchcockian Suspicion feel to the storyline. The main plot is an exciting psychological drama but at times overwhelmed by a myriad of twisting turgid subplots (past and present) in which several never tie back to the main theme. Though confusing, fans will want to know the truth of what happened in The Other Woman's House.

Andrea Cremer
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399256134, $18.99,

In 1404 in the Scottish Highlands, family friend Guard Alistair Hart arrives to collect a debt Lord Morrow owes to his group Conatus. To pay for healing his wife, Morrow hands over his sixteen year old daughter Ember to Hart who escorts her to where she will be trained as a Guard swordswoman working for Conatus.

Ember always enjoyed swords as her stuffed kirtle recently learned; so she relishes that aspect of her training. She also begins to learn about magic and the darkness taking over the world. Her teacher brooding Barrow Hess demands more and more of her as he seems never satisfied with her accomplishments. Though Ember wishes he would encourage her, she falls in love with her mentor. However, evidence mounts that one of the Conatus leaders Eira deploys dark magic. Ember and Barrow know they need to destroy her and her followers though the temptation is to join Eira in the nether realm.

The prequel to the Nightshade Trilogy is an entertaining alternate historical fantasy that focuses on the rise of the Keepers even keeping the expected romance limited. Ember is a superb protagonist who is a strong person able to team with others or go solo; she makes the storyline fun to read. Although fans of the saga know the ultimate outcome a few centuries into the future, young adult readers will enjoy the chronicle of how it all began for the Keepers.

Penelope Crumb
Shawn K. Stout
9780399257285, $14.99

In art class, fourth-grader Penelope learns the worst news she ever head as she finds out that she has a humongous shnoz. Upset when she goes home she talks with her medical illustrator mom, who informs her she has been cursed by the "Crumb nose" of "Graveyard Dead" dad and her still breathing (albeit using up a lot of oxygen) paternal Grandpa Felix, who Penelope thought was with her father. Also Penelope is confused as to how she failed to recognize her snout as even her older brother Terrence the Terrible noticed the family icon.

Curious about her paternal grandfather who disappeared when her dad became ill, Penelope wants to compare noses with him. A school assignment on family trees is the final impetus for Penelope to locate Grandpa Felix.

With a nod to famous noses like that of Jimmy Durante and the Ricci character in the film Penelope, this fabulous upper elementary school amateur sleuth investigative thriller is a fun tale as Shawn K. Stout treats his youthful audience with respect never dumbing down the drama. The heroine is a wonderful individual who still grieves her dad's death and is an expert on reading nonverbal cues especially from adults ready to pounce. Valeria Docampo enhances the engaging storyline with b&w images of Penelope and her protuberance as fans will root for the spunky protagonist who noses her way to solving the case and somewhat her grief.

The Second Spy
Jacqueline West
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803736894, $16.99,

Ever since tweener Olive Dunwoody and her mathematician parents moved into fixer upper Victorian mansion left vacant when elderly Ms. Annabelle McMartin died, she found the house odd especially the paintings that she entered led her to Elsewhere. After dealing with the evil Annabelle (see The Shadows), Olive knows she must stay grounded as she starts school soon.

However, when she falls through a hole in the backyard, she lands in an Elsewhere mess. Instead of staying dead, Annabelle McMartin remains a threat and even more malevolent are other evil essences. None of that frightens Olive as much as how her allies behave. The three cats (Harvey, Horatio and Leopold) are misbehaving rather than protecting Olive and the house; her only friend Rutherford Dewey wants to run away from her; and her Elsewhere buddy Morton seems upset with her.

The third Books of Elsewhere (see Spellbound and The Shadows) fantasy is an engaging thriller as upper elementary school readers get deep inside the head of the beleaguered heroine. Olive feels like Gary Cooper in High Noon as her allies apparently deserted her while she confronts some nasty adversaries. Action-packed yet profound due to Olive's disappointment that those she thought had her back apparently forsaken her, fans will relish the superb Second Spy.

What You Wish For
Janet Dawson
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745187, $15.95,

Retired San Francisco history professor Lindsey Page has lunch with her two friends Gretchen Segal and Claire Megarris; but the trio knows it is not the same as the fourth member of their sisterhood Annabel recovers from a stroke. They discuss family and Lindsey admits she has not heard from her daughter Nina since she walked out swearing to never see her mom again four months ago when she left with Chad for Austin. However, each has secrets that if surfaced will shake their long time friendship forged back in the late 1960s at Berkley. After leaving her buddies, Lindsey finds Nina who asks to stay with her mom for a few days.

Meanwhile Lindsey is conducting interviews for her new book on Latin American female immigrants who fled their homelands due to war, deprivation and torture. One of the people she has talked with, immigrant Flor Cooper asks for her help. Her El Salvadoran village was the sight of a massacre in 1989, but she believes her son Efrain, a baby back then, survived the atrocity as she swears she saw at the Berkeley Farmers Market a man the right age that looks just like her executed husband Atenacio.

Rotating between the Bay area and El Salvatore, the 1970s, 1989 and the present, Janet Dawson provides a thought provoking thriller as the author invokes the deadly full cost of a cup of coffee. The subplots interweave while perspective change so that readers obtain a rich suspenseful blend that will stun the audience with the profound look at the outcome two decades after the coffee war massacres.

The Hanging
Wendy Hornsby
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745262, $15.99,

It has been a difficult year for investigative documentary filmmaker Maggie MacGowen as her husband Mike died from an illness. She still cries over her loss as she misses her Mike. Making matters worse her solo escape from her grief was her TV show, which was canceled.

Her best friend Kate obtains a teaching position for Maggie at Anacapa Community College where her class is film production. A benefit of the job is she sees her young friend student Sly Miller; whom she and Mike rescued from the streets of Los Angeles. The teen won an art contest in which his huge sculpture is placed in a highly visible location. However, college president Park Holloway upsets Sly when he informs him his work will stand in this prestigious location for one year. Holloway has also upset students and faculty with his exorbitant building projects dubbed by most as the Taj Ma'Holloway at a time when austerity for anything not directly rated to academics needs to be strictly practiced. Maggie finds Holloway hanging from the spot where Sly's sculpture was to be placed. Fearing for Sly, Maggie investigates who murdered the college president.

The Maggie MacGowen Mysteries (see The Paramour's Daughter and In the Guise of Mercy) are always special treats and the engaging latest entry affirms that hypothesis. Readers will adore and admire the intrepid heroine who on the outside stoically deals with tsuris, but those close to her know she hurts inside. Her inner turmoil and her investigative skills make her sleuthing seem realistic as she uncovers a horde of people with strong motives and an art for arms deal that even the Pentagon would respect as The Hanging is a suspenseful whodunit.

Bill Pronzini
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765325655, $24.99,

In California, the somewhat retired "named" detective Bill and his public relations specialist wife Kerry seek a second home in Green Valley at the Sierra foothills. Near Six Pines they find the perfect cabin.

While hiking in the nearby woods by herself, Kerry recognizes Pete Balfour, an angry individual seeking revenge against the bully whose taunting made him the biggest fool in the Sierras. When she calls out his name, a stunned panicked Pete abducts the one person who can identify him being in the area. The local authorities insist they are busy with a major investigation so knowing time is critical a frustrated and frightened Bill and his San Francisco partner Jake Runyon follow meager clues that lead to the Hellbox.

The latest (no longer) Nameless Detective Mystery (see Camouflage) is an exciting thriller in which readers feel Bill's panic as the long time sleuth (37 books) knows the first few hours matter in an abduction. Although the storyline never veers from its anticipated path and the climax disappointing as Balfour fails to live up to his image of a raging berserker, series fans will enjoy the desperate investigation by Bill and Jake in which the townsfolk either are uncooperative or neutral.

A City of Broken Glass
Rebecca Cantrell
9780765327345, $25.99

In 1938, Using the Swiss identity Adelheid Zinsli, American journalist Hannah Vogel and her adopted thirteen years old son Anton are in Poznan, Poland where mom is covering the annual November 11th St. Martin's Day festival for her newspaper. She learns that the Nazis have begun deporting Polish Jews in mass so she follows the lead to learn first-hand more about the refugee situation.

Her inquiry leads Hannah to Miriam the pregnant wife of her friend Paul Keller. Miriam, who dislikes the journalist, despondently tells Hannah she left her two years old daughter Ruth behind in Berlin when she was forced to leave. Hannah and Anton agree to rescue the baby.

The latest Hannah Vogel historical thriller (see A Game of Lies) is an exciting tale that brings to life the growing Nazi terrorism spreading anti-Semitism like a plague from Germany into Poland though the plights of Ruth and Miriam, and other displaced refugees. Fast-paced and loaded with suspense, fans will appreciate heroic Hannah and awesome Anton as they mount a rescue attempt though they land in too many perils more than Pauline.

Chasing The Wind
Pamela Binnings Ewen
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9780805464313, $14.99,

At exactly 8:47 A.M. on Wednesday, October 12, 1977 businessman Bingham Murdock flies his silver Lockheed Jetstar into New Orleans. At the same time Mangen & Morris lawyer Amalise Catoir looks out her downtown office window for the first time in three months. She feels rather good considering she survived the insane abuse of her husband Phillip Sharp. Amalise knows her friend Jude saved her life, who she thinks she loves, but he is seeing her friend and firm's rival Rebecca. Looking out she notices the silver glint of a small plane. Also observing the silver in the sky is a lonely six years old Cambodian foster child who upon seeing the reflection remembers the terror of artillery that turned him into an outsider refugee.

Amalise is assigned to the Project Black Diamond resort hotel led by banker Doug Bastion. The client is Lone Ranger Incorporated owned only by Bingham who wants to build a gaudy hotel at the historical Faubourg Marigny historical sector adjacent to the French Quarter. Amalise and others are stunned by the revelation. Soon she, Bingham, Hey Jude and a displaced uncommunicative little boy converge over a construction project.

This is a strong character driven historical thriller with a powerful morality lesson that it what you failed to do that determines the fortitude of the inner person. Amalise holds the storyline together as she knows she loves Jude but also falls for the little Cambodian who suffers from PTSD nightmares. However, it is Bingham who brings roguish depth by challenging the capitalist vs. traditionalist beliefs of everyone; as Charles Rosner wrote for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA): "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

A Knight to Desire
Gerri Russell
Gerri Russell, Jun 28 2012
9780983899785, $9.99, B008GGFJQU

Brianna Sinclair trained all her life to become a knight though her male counterparts scoff at a woman using weapons though she uses a sword as well as any man can. Templar Knight Sir Simon Lockhart knows Brianna's cause for gender equality is right but cannot afford to alienate his allies at a critical moment as he must find Joyeuse the sword of Charlemagne and the Holy Grail before a maniac uses these stolen relics to destroy Scotland.

Simon asks Brianna to help him with his quest as he feels her visions of a horrific battle leads him to believe he needs her at his side guiding him especially when an unknown Templar has betrayed the Order. She agrees to assist him on his dangerous but noble quest to save the Scottish people and the Order. Both are attracted to one another, but the mission must come before their desire.

The final Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars historical romance (see To Tempt a Knight, Seducing the Knight, and Border Lord's Bride) is a superb end to a strong saga. As a fourteenth century Boadicea, Brianna brings freshness with her demand to become a knight and her lack of fear as only how her heart feels about Simon scares her. Fast-paced with a touch of the paranormal, fans will appreciate the adventures of the Templar and the warrior woman as they fall in love while facing death as they seek to prevent a madman's deployment of Joyeuse and the Holy Grail.

What Happened to My Sister
Elizabeth Flock
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345524430, $15.00,

Nine year old Caroline "Carrie" Parker kills her abusive stepfather (see Me & Emma). She and her alcoholic mom Libby flee from their small North Carolina town. However, her mother emphatically tells her never mention Emma who has kept Carrie feeling pretty good about herself. Confused Carrie begins to wonder if her younger sister Emma, who recently vanished, exists as her mom insists she has no other daughter.

In Hartsville, while Carrie's mom drinks and entertains men, the tweener searches for food. On one of her treks, she meets Cricket Ford and the girl's mother Honor. Stunned by how much Carrie looks like her dead daughter, Honor wonders why she never sees the obviously neglected child with her mother.

The sequel to Me & Emma is an exciting thriller that focuses on survival techniques by victims of domestic abuse. Fast-paced but filled with way to much happenchance, the storyline rotates viewpoint between the neglected and abused tweener and to a lesser degree Honor while readers will wonder whether Emma is Carrie's imaginary sister helping her live through her young ordeal or a real person.

When You Wish Upon a Duke
Isabella Bradford
9780345527295, $7.99

In 1760, the Duke of Marchbourne James "March" FitzCharles decides it is time to meet his betrothed since childbirth Lady Charlotte Wylder. He wishes for a quiet spouse having watched as a child the war between his parents. So he is taken aback when he meets his intended while she rescues a cat from a tree. To his shock he revises what he wants in a wife as he likes the tomboyish Charlotte.

To avoid a scandal caused by a brief interlude, March and Charlotte marry. However, his passion frightens him as he feels like a chip off the old dysfunctional block. March pulls away from Charlotte who rejects his fears that he is his sire. Instead she becomes the independent duchess who insists her March is a caring lover not an unfeeling deviant; now she needs to convince her beloved one seduction at a time.

The first Wylder sisters' Georgian romance is an engaging tale starring a strong female and a doubting male. Although the theme has been used frequently in historical novels, fans will enjoy the gender war between Charlotte and March as she sets out to prove he can trust in their love.

The Lady Is A Vamp
Lynsay Sands
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062078070, $7.99,

Argeneau Enterprises Widower Paul Jones is desperate to save the life of his dying five year old daughter Livy. His only hope is with his knowledge of what species the Argeneau clan is. Thus he targets vampire Jeanne Louise Argeneau after she leaves work; he tranquilizes her at a stop light before abducting her.

When Jeanne awakens in chains she is unconcerned with her plight as she knows she can mentally control the mortal hunk who kidnapped her. However, her tranquility ends when she realizes the connotation of her failing to make him do her bidding; her kidnapper is her life mate. Paul demands she change his daughter; Jeanne agrees to turn both of them into vampires and mentor them even while the Enforcers pursue them.

The latest Argeneau vampires' romantic urban fantasy (see Under A Vampire Moon) is an engaging tale as Jeanne fears her beloved accepts changing only for the Girl's sake and not enhanced by an eternal love of her too. Fans will enjoy The Lady Is A Vamp though ironically the adults need to "work on their people skills."

Night Forbidden
Josh Ware
9780062018649, $7.99

In 2010, the five men entered Ferrester's Pocket a cave near Sedona, New Mexico. Fifty years later, they left the cave to find a world gone mad. They made it to Envy where each of them except Fence shows a paranormal skill. In the time since they resurfaced, the quintet and their allies have learned that under the sea Atlantis and the Elite caused the apocalypse as a new evolution and that to survive they must maintain a diligent vigil against the corral deploying "Strangers".

Once an extreme sports advocate in his previous life, Fence may not have any otherworldly talent, but easily adapts to the new world. However, when he and Ana meet they are attracted to each other. There is one problem that keeps them apart; she needs the ocean while he psychotically fears water. When she realizes something or someone is altering her beloved ocean, Ana must act to keep Envy safe while Fence must overcome his phobia to assist the woman he loves.

Though the overarching theme does not move much forward, the latest Envy Chronicles romantic apocalyptic fantasy (see Night Betrayed) is an intriguing tale as love may not be enough for the protagonists who are oceans apart in everything but desire. Fast-paced yet character driven by the lead couple who keep secrets and hide their respective flaws that make a permanent relationship seem doubtful. Fans will enjoy time in the night of the vivid Ware Mythos where a malevolent "matchmaker" rises from the depths of the ocean.

The Warrior Laird
Margo Maguire
9780062122889, $7.99

In 1717 in the Scottish Highlands, Major Donal Ferguson informs Dugan MacMillan that the Duke of Argyll demands 3,000 pounds from him or his entire clan will forcibly be removed from Braemore Keep. Though he prefers to tell the odious Campbell to shove his demand up his arse, Dugan knows his clan could not deal with the deadly assault that would follow. Irate, he realizes he calmly must find the hidden gold that he knows exists but needs to obtain the rest of the treasure map that shows the location.

Her father arranges for Lady Maura Duncanson to marry nasty elderly Lord Kildary. Instead she flees and is rescued by Dugan. She possesses a segment of the map, but her hero learns he can save his clan from the ignominy of surrender or the suicide of combat by "selling" Maura to her fiancee. There is one major obstacle to his ransom scheme: his heart.

Although the key cast is underdeveloped, the passionate caring protagonists on the lam make for a thrilling Georgian romance; as he is desperate for money while she is "Brazen" for freedom. Using the real Glencoe massacre of 1692 as a jump off point, readers will enjoy riding at a fast-pace through the Highlands alongside of Dugan and Maura.

Lessons From A Scandalous Bride
Sophie Jordan
9780062033000, $7.99

Her mother had three stillborn siblings and four brothers and sisters who died very young. As the only survivor Cleo worries when her mom gives birth again to a fourth corpse. She fears for her mom's life while her stepfather "sells" Cleo to her wealthy biological father Jack Hadley who ignored her since she was born.

Lord Logan McKinney arrives in London seeking an affluent title hunter to fund his failing estates. His objective changes when he meets Cleo as he wants her. Cleo is attracted to the gold-digger but prefers to wed an older man who will not demand she carry the heir and the spare as her deceased siblings and her mom haunt her. Logan knows he must earn his beloved's trust as he believes he already has her love just like she has his.

The latest Forgotten Princesses historical romance (see Wicked In Your Arms) is a fast-paced gender war as the lead male changes his life's goal from a cold relationship to a loving need; while the heroine is the classic the adult is the child as she witnessed what marriage means. Cleo's neurotic trepidations freshen up what would otherwise have been an overly used premise; instead fans will relish their lessons in love.

Return of the Viscount
Gayle Callen
9780062076069, $7.99

In 1841 Cecilia Mallory and a friend of her late military father Sergeant Michael Blackthorne become pen pals. She assumes her writing buddy is her dad's age and he believes her to be plain. However, her last letter concerns him as she tells him she must marry so that she can gain control of her inheritance from her guardian in order to help her immature brother Oliver with the estate; she boldly proposes to him

In 1843 Michael, having left India, arrives in Middlesex to honor his late friend Lord Apperton as he owes Cecilia's father so much by insuring the success of the estate. However, as they fall in love, she fears her pen pal wants to harm her and her brother; since he came to Middlesex there has been a rash of accidents.

The first Brides of Redemption Victorian romance is a strong historical that twists the marriage of convenience theme into a fabulous nineteenth century Hitchcockian Suspicion as the evidence points to Michael. Fans will want to know whether her enlisted viscount is the cause of the dangerous incidents that place his beloved in peril as Gayle Callen provides an exciting romantic suspense thriller.

The Cowboy and The Princess
Lori Wilde
9780062047779, $7.99

In Texas Brady Talmadge has five rules of life. His fifth rule is never to pick up a hitchhiker as his skull can testify from when he did and ended up pistil whipped and out $1300 plus expenses for four days at a hospital. So he chastises himself when he breaks rule # 5 and gives a ride to cold and wet Annie Coste and her BFF Lady Astor.

As he takes her to Jubilee, Texas, he breaks rule # 4 "Avoid damsels in distress" as he finds he likes his companion and one kiss later adhering to rule # 2 "Always trust your gut" and breaking rule # 1 "Never tell a lie" he believes she reciprocates. However, she has a secret that prevents them from forming a relationship as Annie is Princess Annabella Farrington of the tiniest European country Monesta on the lam from an arranged political marriage to much older Prince Theodore Forsythe of the second smallest nation on the continent Dubinstein. The royal violates rules # 1 and # 3 "Never order chili at a truck stop."

The latest Jubilee romance (see The Cowboy Takes a Bride) is an amusing madcap tale mindful of Roman Holiday (starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn) but in a modern day version of a 1930s zany comedy. Though the storyline is thin, readers will laugh out loud as the European princess and the Texas horse whisperer shatter his five rules.

The Bride Wore Pearls
Liz Carlyle
9780061965777, $7.99

With the death of her English military spouse, mixed-blood Lady Anisha Stafford, accompanied by her two sons, leaves India for her late husband's homeland as she has no safe place for herself or her kids in her homeland. She hopes to fit in for the sake of her boys though she fears London will prove radically different from Calcutta.

Anisha turns to the Guardians of St. James Society for assistance. She also is attracted to Guardian Lord Rance Welham, who hides his feelings for her as he fears what would happen to the widow's reputation if she is seen with him. Instead he tries to keep her and her boys safe while also struggling to prove he is not a murderer.

The latest St. James Society Victorian romantic mystery (see One Touch of Scandal and The Bride Wore Scarlet) is a wonderful tale that fans of the series will especially enjoy as the relationship between the protagonists has been changing since they first met. Fast-paced Liz Carlyle deftly merges a rousing romance with a powerful perilous murder investigation inside of a vivid Victorian backdrop as Lord Rance and Lady Anisha team up in love.

Naked Games
Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758269034, $14.00,

Two months ago Catherine Michaels' fiftyish parents died in a horrible car crash. Now family friend Dr. Cabel informs a grieving Catherine that she was adopted. She and her BFF Mary go through documents until they find a letter from Catherine's biological mother thanking the Michaels. Catherine also learns from that note that she has an older sister Gracie Baron in Zanesville, Ohio.

Six weeks and several emails later, a scared Catherine visits Gracie (see So Sensitive). The latter introduces her visiting sister to her fiance Wade Harrison and his younger brother Dean who accepts she is a lost sister of Gracie but also thinks Catherine is a con artist, which upsets him because he is attracted to her. Soon afterward Wade's twin sister Deanna and her boyfriend Jonas (see Pleasure Bound) arrive. Dean and Catherine cannot resist their need so begin a boudoir BDSM tryst, but he remains wary about her motive for coming to Ohio.

The sisters' subplot enhances a strong erotica as Dean and Catherine fall in love, but he still looks for her angle while she has doubts about relationships after feeling her late parents failed to tell her the truth. Fast-paced, fans will relish returning to Zanesville, Ohio, the BDSM capital of the world.

Simply Voracious
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758269461, $14.00

In 1826 London, Jeremy sexually assaults Lucinda "Lucky" Haymore. Her friend Emily Ross takes her to her stepmother notorious owner of the Pleasure House Madame Helene Delornay. Lucky sees compassion in Helene's eyes as the older woman says the animal will try to blackmail her and her ducal family into forcing her to marry him or face scandal.

Jeremy threatens Lucky if she fails to marry him. Her best friend Paul St. Clare offers to wed Lucky though he has no plans to end his tryst with Lieutenant Colonel Constantine Delinsky. However, he also wants Lucky in his bed so proposes a menage a trois. Meanwhile a raging Jeremy plots to expose the trio.

The latest House of Pleasure (see Simply Carnal and Simply Forbidden) is once again simply a pleasurable historical. The cast, especially the FMF triangle, is fully developed except for one trick Jeremy. Though the storyline is thin, Lucky, Paul and Constantine provide readers with an enjoyable post Regency erotica.

Imitation of Death
Cheryl Crane
9780758258885, $25.00

Spoiled abusive Eddie Bernard, son of a major TV producer, is found murdered in a dumpster in an alley near the Beverly Hills mansion of legendary superstar actress Victoria Bordeaux. The killer stabbed Eddie in the chest with pruning shears belonging to the Bordeaux gardener Jorge Delgado.

Victoria's realtor daughter Nikki Harper knows her friend quick-tempered Jorge would not murder even an obnoxious a-hole like Eddie. Though she admits to herself the evidence is very strong as, besides the murder weapon belonging to Jorge, Nikki witnessed a public argument between the pair in Victoria's driveway with Eddie holding a gun. Though her last sleuthing effort (see The Bad Always Die Twice) was a near disaster, Nikki uses her DNA connection to investigate the homicide at the same time the media howls for the death penalty.

The second Nikki Harper Mystery is a lighthearted fun amateur sleuth as the heroine uses her pedigree to meet a horde of suspects who wanted Bernard dead. Her relationship with her mother brings humor to an entertaining whodunit as Cheryl Crane lampoons celebrity status in an engaging investigation.

Death Of A Neighborhood Witch
Laura Levine
9780758238498, $24.00

Freelance writer Jaine Austen lives in the slums of Beverly Hills amongst retirees. However, though logically she knows not to buy Halloween candy as no one goes trick or treating in her neighbor, the chocolates talk to her so she stocks up.

A hunk Peter Connor the book editor moves next door. Jaine thinks he will prove better than sugared candy (well almost as good); while her cat Prozac seems attracted to him; and shoe salesman Lance Venable challenges her for Peter's affection. As Jaine and Lance compete for Peter, even acrimonious former TV monster mommy actress Cryptessa Muldoon is nice to the new kid on the block. When Prozac gives Cryptessa's parakeet Van Helsing a heart attack, she tells Jaine see you in small claims court. Soon afterward, on Halloween, someone bludgeons Cryptessa with her own Do Not Trespass sign. VHPD looks at Jaine as the prime suspect.

The latest humorous Jaine Austen amateur sleuth (see Last Writes and Pampered to Death) is an enjoyable lighthearted cozy that lampoons fan obsession with where are they now Hollywood has-beens. Fast-paced, Jaine has two critical issues to confront: first finding the real killer and second not chomping on all the candy she bought that talks to her seductively saying softly "eat me".

Popped Off
Jeffrey Allen
9780758266903, $7.99

In very conservative Rose Petal, Texas everyone remains up to date on scandals, misdemeanors and felonies. However the biggest shocker to the appalled townsfolk remains teacher Deuce Winters who has become a stay at home dad taking care of their five years old daughter Carly while his wife Julianne is the breadwinner high powered attorney. Despite eyebrow-raising by their appalled neighbors, Deuce and Julianne are very satisfied with their relationship. Additionally the househusband has become a part-time private eye ever since brilliant detective Victor "little person" Doolittle conducted surveillance of Deuce (see Stay At Home Dead).

At a soccer game gigantic Belinda Stansfield informs Deuce, coach of the Mighty, Fightin' Tiny Mermaids girls' team, that the president of the Rose Pedal Youth Soccer Association Moises "King of Soccer" Huber stole the funds and trophies earmarked for the kids like Carly. Belinda demands Deuce find the missing money and trophies. Deuce consults with Victor and persuades the experienced detective to help him with the investigation. Their inquiry leads to a crooked preacher and a fixed gambling ring as Deuce insists that Moises and his cousin Elliot as his return the loot though the stay at home dad prefers to avoid injuries as that hurts and death as that is unknown.

The second small-town Texas Stay at Home Mysteries is an amusing cozy due to the residents of Rose Pedal to include little Victor and big Belinda. The short opening soccer match is hilarious while setting the tone of a jocular investigation. Though most locals think Deuce is weak as a househusband, he is resolute as he has no qualms with his marital relationship and with confronting problems of others.

Touch of a Scoundrel
Mia Marlowe
9780758263568, $14.00

In 1860 when the Earl of Devonwood Griffin Nash touches an object that others have handled, he sees twelve hours into the future. His younger brother Teddy arrives at Devonwood Park accompanied by Emmaline Farnsworth and her ailing Egyptologist father Teddy plans to marry the American while Emma plans to fleece the family to pay for her dad's medical bills by conning the Devonwood family into sponsoring and funding a fake Egyptian expedition.

Devon touches a sketching pencil previously held by Emma and envisions them in a romantic scenario. He refuses to ignore what he knows is inevitable as he does not want to hurt Teddy. Emma needs no paranormal skills to know Devon is trouble for her and her desperate scheme as she feels guilty over what she must do and worse is attracted to the aristocrat.

The third touching paranormal historical romance (see Touch of a Rogue and Touch of a Thief) is a terrific nineteenth century frolic containing a madcap triangle mindful of the Hudson-Day-Randall movies. Fast-paced from the moment Devon touches the pencil, readers will enjoy this zany Victorian as the psychic and the con artist fall in love, while Teddy, Dr. Farnsworth, a villain and others observe the antics.

A Sweethaven Homecoming
Courtney Walsh
9780824931711, $13.99,

The Sweethaven Circle (Suzanne, Jane, Lila and Meghan) were best friends as children who shared a scrapbook/journal starting in eighth grade for several years back in the late 1980s. Recently Suzanne died while her daughter Campbell learned from the 1987 book what her mom hid from her BFFs when she broke the circle. Campbell contacted the three living members (see A Sweethaven Summer) with the news of Suzanne's death.

Mourning for the loss of their childhood friend Jane, Lila and Meghan return to Sweethaven, Michigan to complete their personal scrapbooks and move on with their grief. Each has issues to deal with too. Meghan the singer has cleaned up her act and wants her children back with her. Jane tries to forgive Meghan for causing her son's death. Lila has left her husband. As each struggles with their problems, Meghan's twins are kidnapped.

This is a warm sweet sequel that focuses on friendship lost and friendship regained if each moves passed their hurts and fears. As with the first tale, scrapbooking remains a key element while redemption is the prime theme even for a buried Suzanne. Although it behooves fans to have read A Sweethaven Summer as this drama builds directly from it, fans will enjoy this engaging contemporary tale.

Roshi Fernando
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307958105, $24.95,

In London on December 31 1982, Victor and Nandini host a New Year's Eve party attended by fellow Sri Lankan immigrants and their offspring as all share in common a feeling of no belonging and a desire to belong in "Homecoming." Their daughter Preethi starts nursery school while waiting for Archee her Soup Dragon grandma in the "Clangers." Her brothers especially Gehan blames Preethi for them not going back to Sri Lanka on a visit as they save money to send her to a private school in "Love Me Tender." Years later seventeen year old Preethi is in love with Ollie like all the girls her age in "Sophocles' Chorus. As her marriage teeters Preethi's husband is downsized in "Meta General." Finally Preethi worries about her Mum "At the Funeral" of her aunt. The stories are entertaining and enlightening as the audience meets Preethi the prime star and others in her circle like her nasty cousin Kumar in "The Fluorescent Jacket." Fans will appreciate this strong series of interrelated vignettes that provide a deep look at the Sri Lankan culture especially in England though at times in the Homeland too; yet also serves universally for any displaced (volunteer or forced) person who becomes a Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert A. Heinlein) after leaving a Homeland.

Wen Spencer
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451637830, $24.00,

An orphan from Pittsburgh, Tinker knows the second order effect of her actions left 60,000 Steeler (and Pirate) residents isolated in the Ghostlands rather than Pennsylvania. Tinker's cousin Orville "Oilcan" Wright notices a young female Stone Clan elf drumming with olianuni sticks in front of a soda machine in the train station. He warns her that Pittsburgh has become dangerous, but Merry the elf insists she has a letter to give to the Earth Son. Oilcan informs her that the Earth Son is dead. He escorts her to the Stone Clan embassy where Thorne Scratch tells him to keep her safe. She soon joins the Naekanain band of mixed breed musicians.

At the same time Tinker's mate, Wolf Who Rules Wind invites former slave, Oni hybrid leader Tommy Chang and his brethren to join the Wind Clan as Beholden. Tommy distrusts the Windwolf's motives, but Jin Shoji the Tengu freed from captivity by Tinker suggests the Wind Clan leader offers the Oni a seat at a special table. As he considers what the Tengu says, Tommy searches the forest for Oni.

The latest Elfhome fantasy widens the super Spencer world as other species like the purebred stranded humans, the Tengu and the hybrid Oni take the lead from elves; even the featured elves focus on other clans besides the Wind Clan in this entertaining story line. The prime subplots are the coming of age of Oilcan and Tommy as responsibility for the well-being of others makes you mature rather quickly. Character driven by racism triggered by a history of hostilities including genocide, fans will enjoy meeting the other species as major change has come to the Ghostlands with many preferring the pre Tinker status quo.

Ashes of Honor
Seanan McGuire
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407490, $7.99,

One year has almost passed since October "Toby" Daye can claim a good night's sleep as she suffers nightmarish reminders of who she lost rather than the country she gave up ruling. Her total focus is on doing her duties as mentor to her squire Quentin and detecting to pay her bills.

Etienne the knight retains Toby to find his changeling sixteen year old daughter Chelsea that he recently leaned he sired. He is worried for the safety of Faerie and his offspring as the untrained teleport leaps into long deserted sectors; which places the barriers that keep the realm secure at risk. As Toby, Quentin and Tybalt King of Cats search for Chelsea, an unknown adversary seeks her too and will assassinate any individual who gets in the way; at the same time Tybalt needs Toby's help with trouble in the Court of Cats.

The latest October Daye urban fantasy (see One Salt Sea) is a terrific noirish thriller as the heroine and her companions set out to save a teen changeling, a world, and a kingdom. Readers will want to join Toby and her team as they traverse Faery on this fast-paced, action-filled tale with a strong twist re the consciences of the second order effect of magic.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven
Tad Williams
9780756407681, $25.95

Though ostensibly Bobby Dollar is an angel, he understands sin first hand from his travails on that wicked oasis planet earth as he has tasted most if not all of the seven deadly sins. Bobby is a defense attorney advocating for the placement of souls as Heaven and Hell debate the merits and demerits of a lesser being in judgment. He trusts neither side as Heaven works in mysterious ways with hidden agendas and hell is like a dog catcher. A newcomer sent from Heaven makes Bobby feel as if the rookie is from internal affairs with his unrelenting questions. In fact the only person he believes tells him the truth is the Countess of Cold Hands and he is unsure whether lust is filtering her responses.

However, recently things have gone terribly wrong when souls vanish prior to their judgment. Hell lies and Heaven obfuscates as the advocate tries to learn the truth. At the same time a monstrous Babylonian demonic avenger stalks Bobby with plans to dine in his soul.

This is a wonderful fantasy in which heaven and hell are not good and bad but filled with gray matter. Bobby is terrific as he recognizes that both sides in the eternal war are collectors with Hell more open with their BHAG than Heaven is. With an exciting investigation and an end of days feel to the storyline, The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a serious version of Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life but with the Rip Torn advocate telling the tale of life in the afterlife bureaucratic judicial system at a time when all hell (or heaven) breaks out.

Blood of the Empire
Tracey Hickman
9780756407322, $24.95

The five heroes arrived on dragons but it is the human Drakis on Marush who has rallied the diverse rebel species like the manticore, dwarves and humans, etc. to revolt against their oppressive conquerors the elves of the Rhonas Empire. Drakis is considered the Man of Prophecy who will lead the overthrow of the Rhonas Empire. However, he is a man with doubts and a heavy heart as he has seen personally the cost of the insurrection with the death of his beloved Mala. Without Drakis as the rallying point the revolt will end in crushing defeat.

His fellow dragon riders (Lyric the human, Jugar the dwarf, Ethis the Ephidrian crimerian and Urulani the Forgotten Ones free human encourage him to take charge of the Army of the Prophet though each has their own hidden agenda for joining the freedom cause. However, the keys to victory especially deploying Drakis plan are Braun the human wizard who is working on negating the aether wells source of elven magical power and Soen the elven inquisitor seeking the truth though that outs him questioning the Imperial Will of Queen Chythal.

The final Annals of Drakis fantasy (see Citadels Of The Lost and Songs Of The Dragon) is a great tale due to the strong cast starting with the hero who has doubts sending so many to die (kind of like Ike leading up to D-Day). Drakis, encouraged by Urulani and Soen, begins to understand that "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) as he reluctantly leads the final encounter. Fast-paced with a strong cast, fans will relish this saga.

Violette Malan
9780756407407, $15.00

In the Land of the Faerie, Dragon born High Prince Cassandra and her supporters have defeated the usurper Basilisk Prince to become the rightful ruler. However, winning the war does not denote winning the peace as healing must come to the land and those trapped in the Shadowlands on the other side must be given the opportunity to come home.

Prince Cassandra sends former Hound Stormwolf the Rider she healed to Shadowlands to welcome home the exiled. He meets Nighthawlk in Spain who sends him to Toronto where Alexjandro Martin AKA Graycloud resides with his human fara'ip ward Valory Martin a psychic who he helped escape from the Collector. Meanwhile Stormwolf learns to his horror that the Hounds of the Wild Hunt assault the souls of humans, draining their dra'aj, which leaves the victims extremely lethargic. He meets Valory when he thinks he is rescuing her from an assault that was planned to catch those who stalk her. They, other Riders and mortal victims take the fight to the Hounds while also in the Shadowlands Foxblood and his pack seek the girl as a means to obtain the Horn and keep the High Prince in Faerie.

This is a fabulous urban fantasy sequel to The Mirror Prince as the war may be over in Faerie but the healing has just begun as some especially in the Shadowlands reject the Cycle of Prince Cassandra as the high ruler. Action-packed, the irony of this strong tale is summed up by those who never crossed over from Faerie believing that humans are mythological creatures. Fans will enjoy Valory's tour of Toronto as Violette Malan writes a strong thriller.

The Grass King's Concubine
Kari Sperring
9780756407551, $7.99

The world is divided into two parts between the World Below where elemental spirit Grass King rules and the World Above where humans reside. The two realms never intertwine until Marcellan ventures into the World Below. The Grass King and his inner Cadre think nothing much about the human visitor except as a curiosity. However, he proves inadvertently insidious when he introduces human concepts of rights to the masses. Marcellan's impact on the World Below also affects the World Above.

Her visions of a magical court haunt heiress Aude Pèlerin des Puiz and propel her to seek the source of her family's incredible wealth. She finds a sea of thin gray grass where once rice paddies flourished as to her horror she concludes that the droughts that dried up the rice paddies connect to her wealth. Her inquiry leads Aude and her lover Jehan end up in the World Below where the Cadre demands she become the Grass King's Concubine.

Readers will enjoy this entertaining fantasy that occurs several centuries after the events of Living With Ghosts. The engaging storyline tends to accelerate and decelerate as the pace is uneven especially the transitions between Marcellan and Aude. Still with a strong cast, a deep environs and a fascinating mystery, fans will want to know what happened to Marcellan and what is happening to Aude.

Jim C. Hines
9780756407391, $24.95

Isaac Vainio is a rare magic practitioner as a Libriomancer who makes real objects from things in books manifest in reality. However, needing to earn a living, he turns in magic for bar codes as he accepts employment at the Copper River Library. Meyerii vampires materialized from a book attack him, Isaac is fortunate to survive.

He soon learns the vampiress have assaulted other magic users as they target the Die Zwelf Portenaere "Porters" in retaliation for attacks on their kind. The six century old Libriomancer founding father of the Porters Johannes Gutenberg vanishes. Isaac, dryad Lena Greenwood and Smudge the fire-spider begin a mission to end the war and free Gutenberg, but are unaware of a diabolical and hostile third party.

With a nod to the movie Inkheart, Libriomancer is an exciting urban fantasy starring a wonderful hero, a fabulous kick butt sidekick and a burning lunatic "pet" who left Jig the Goblin's shoulder for a new fiery gig. Fast-paced and filled humor, readers will enjoy the escapades of Isaac and his two allies as they leap off the pages of Jim C. Hines terrific thriller.

Sin's Dark Caress
Tracey O'Hara
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061783159, $7.99,

The three NYPD cops at the murder scene are not feeling very well as the homeless victim was ripped open like a can of corn to remove the baby inside of her. This is the second horrific homicide in two weeks. Detective McManus asked magic expert Dr. Bianca Sin the Forensic witch to look at a symbol. When she does, Bianca becomes sick as she realizes the Dark Brethren seal is on the alley wall.

She calls shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie with the news the worst that could happen has begun. He and the team race to the murder scene. War is coming in which the paranormal species and the humans will take enormous losses, but must unite or face even worse as evil is on the march. Bianca understands this as she opens her locket to meet her familiar Kedrax the dragon who warns her dark magic plans to enable the Dark Brethren to cross over.

The latest Dark Brethren urban fantasy (see Death's Sweet Embrace and Night's Cold Kiss) costars a nasty malevolent being who uses magic to impregnate chosen "fallen" women and then guts them to take the baby from them; this evil has great plans to bring hell on earth. Bianca, Oberon and the crew investigate in hopes of preventing the pandemic threat from happening. Their inquiry allows the audience to learn more about the secretive witch clans and to a lesser degree vampires and shapeshifters. This is a winner in the O'Hara mythos as time is running out on earth.

Power Blind
Steven Gore
9780061782244, $9.99

San Francisco-based attorney Charlie Palmer the fixer used blackmail and threats to rescue above the law politicians and corporate executives who could pay their way out of amoral and even illegal behavior. Very successful at his career for years, Charlie also collected evidence of major national misfeasance when he is assassinated on the streets of San Francisco one hour after briefly talking to private investigator Graham Gage and the detective's receptionist Tansy Amaro, mother of a Palmer victim Moki.

In Washington, Senator Landon Meyer is the favorite to become the next president. He forces the incumbent to nominate his choices to vacant seats on the Court. Though he despises the man who finally received justice, due to Palmer's widow, a sister to Gage's security chief, he investigates the homicide and a subsequent break in to the victim's home. Gage soon finds a link between Palmer and Meyer, but will he love long enough to tell it seems questionable.

The latest Gage thriller (see Absolute Risk) is a terrific political cautionary tale focused on the dual concept of "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Lord Acton) entangled with too big to fail. Gage escorts readers though the DNA double helix of the industrial-political-financial international complex in which money, intimidation, homicide and control of the Supreme Court money can buy and therefor allow the ultra-affluent to get away with murder. Timely with the Romney tax and investment questions, fans will enjoy Steven Gore's exciting complicated story.

Buried on Avenue B
Peter de Jonge
9780061373558, $25.99

In 2006 in New York City, home health care provider Paulette Williamson informs the police that her current patient and a former junkie Gus Henderson confessed to her that he murdered his partner Charles Faulk seventeen years ago. Furthermore, he said he buried Faulk in the community at 6th Street and Avenue B.

Though the confession is muddled by Gus suffering from Alzheimer's, NYPD Manhattan South Detective Darlene O'Hara digs up the plot where she finds the remains of a male tweener recently shot with a .22 in the shoulder who died from blood loss before being buried here. O'Hara places the bullet specs on the national law enforcement database; Sarasota PD Connie Wawrinka notifies O'Hara that she has a match; octogenarian Longboat Key resident Benjamin Levin used the rifle to blow out his brains six months ago. They team up trying to find the answer to how a body in the East Village connects to a death in the Gulf-Sarasota Bay.

The latest O'Hara police procedural (see Shadows Still Remain) is a great mystery starring two kick butt females. O'Hara makes the fast-paced storyline work whether she is drinking with her mostly male peers, worrying about her son, or working the strange case with an in your face partner who does not hide her sexual preference. This tale of two women cops entertains fans as we wonder what connects Buried on Avenue B with Longboat Key besides the weapon.

Prudence Couldn't Swim
James Kilgore
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781604864953, $14.95,

In 2003 in an exclusive Oakland, California neighborhood ex-convict Cal Winter returns home to find his beautiful much taller and younger English wife Prudence dead in their swimming pool. Though their interracial marriage of convenience never was consummated, Cal always dreamed they would one day. He realizes his wife never stepped into the water as Prudence Couldn't Swim; so someone killed her. Panicked he moves the body before returning it to where he had pulled it out of the pool. Cal calls the cops who think he murdered his spouse.

Cal calls his friend ex-convict Red Eye, to help him learn who killed Prudence. They find evidence that Prudence apparently was leaving soon and a clue that takes them to IHOP manager Mandisa who tells them that like her, Prudence came from Zimbabwe where her name was Tarisao Mukombachoto. As the pair digs deeper while the cops try to pin a murder rap on Cal and accessory on Red Eye, the pair begins to connect the convoluted life of the late Prudence with ties to the affluent who can pay big bucks for their sexual needs.

This is an exciting amateur sleuth tale as readers will want to know if Cal's hypothesis based on the given that Prudence Couldn't Swim proves valid. Although readers will have difficulty accepting Cal's weird treatment of Prudence's body, fans will enjoy touring Oakland with the widower and his always bet on red partner as they land in and in and in trouble. A late coda involving a powerful individual and his wife seems so accurate in this age of remorseful pleading publically to forgive indiscretions.

False Impressions
Laura Caldwell
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313731, $7.99,

In Chicago, Maggie Bristol of Bristol & Associates is going on maternity leave so she needs her best friend and employee lawyer- private investigator Izzy McNeil to take more responsibility. Izzy owes Maggie who assister her transition from entertainment law to criminal law so will do what it takes to keep her BFF's firm functioning.

Her friend Mayburn asks Izzy to do him a favor. His former lover art gallery owner Madeline Saga has recently learned some originals she sold were fakes. Madeline insists that when she first obtained these works they were originals; so far she has not gone to the police because she will be ruined. Izzy investigates knowing this has to be an inside job by either someone working at the gallery or an artist. The case turns ugly when this unknown adversary threatens to kill Madeline. Packer cheesehead Detective Damon Vaughn tries to help Izzy the Bears fan when she becomes a target too.

The latest Izzy McNeil Chicago Files (see Question of Trust, Red Blood Murder Claim of Innocence and Red Hot Lies) is an engaging tale in which the whodunit though well written plays second fiddle to the changes in Izzy's life. Readers will appreciate Izzy's tour of Chicago's art scene as she learns the Agony and the Ecstasy (by Irving stone) that art imitates art.

The Unspoken
Heather Graham
9780778313618, $7.99

In 1898 the Jerry McGuen sinks in Lake Michigan; everyone aboard dies. The freighter contained many treasures including the sarcophagus of an Egyptian sorcerer. Rumors spread that many believe today over a century later that the sorcerer cursed the Jerry McGuen and anyone foolish enough to go after his resting place.

Having found the location where Jerry McGuen sits on the seabed, a diver and a ghost expert explore only to die. The FBI assigns Jackson Crow and his Krewe of Hunters unit to investigate the ghost ship. Pathologist Katya Sokolpv and illusionist Will Chan meet at the Chicago morgue and follow-up with inquiries into the mysterious deaths as more people involved with the Jerry McGuen exploration die.

The latest Krewe of Hunters romantic urban fantasy (see The Unholy) star two previous support characters; who although attracted to one another get on each other's nerves. The paranormal romantic mystery is exhilarating and fast-paced with the lead duet and their team finding evidence that point to several suspects but one Unspoken name in particular seems most likely the culprit. The romance is handled deftly, but feels more a requirement as the whodunit grips the audience.

The Siren
Tiffany Reisz
9780778313533, $13.95

In New York City in six weeks editor Zachary "The London Fog" Easton will leave the Royal House Publishing Manhattan office for the Los Angeles branch. He has one final book to work on, which he prefers not to do as he cherishes art and poetry over Brownian thrillers and porno romances. Zach agrees to edit popular erotica writer Nora Sutherlin's latest hot romance, but the Brit places specific demands on the book by an author who hopes for a contract with Royal House who needs her sales in their stable.

She accepts his terms as a chance to prove to the world (and herself) that she can really write. In Connecticut Zach meets her teenage intern Wesley Railey before he puts the pressure on Nora to write in the style he demands of her. However, he is attracted to his client but refuses to act on his need though his lower head argues with his upper head that he is being an idiot. Meanwhile though she wants her editor she knows he remains hung up on his Grace and besides she needs the book more while still having the hots for Soren.

This heated Original Sinners is an intriguing intense psychological erotica starring two flawed protagonists and an interesting support cast. The BDSM scenes enhance the deep look into what makes rigid Zach and irreverent Nora tick. Though somewhat stereotyped, fans will relish this fascinating hot tale with the proper climax and the metafiction of a book within a book (fans would appreciate a novella of Nora Sutherlin's The Consolation Prize).

Catching Fireflies
Sherryl Woods
9780778313595, $7.99

Serenity High School student Misty Dawson cuts classes in order to avoid the bullying by Annabelle who taunts her whenever they are near each other and writes nasty commentary with pictures on a social networking site about her target Misty's sexual encounters. Misty's English teacher Laura Reed worries about the junior so with support from her principal Betty Donovan decides to learn why the drop in performance and the skipping of classes.

Laura turns to Misty's pediatrician, J.C. Fullerton for help. They team up to learn why a contented teenager has become so unhappy. Eventually the teacher and the doctor learn Misty is the target of a bully; a scenario both adults are familiar with. As they gain support from the Sweet Magnolias that Serenity, South Caroline will not tolerate any bullying, Laura and H.C. fall in love.

This unique Sweet Magnolias tale provides readers with tense look at the impact of bullying from the perspective of the victim and her caring defenders although the tormenter's motives from her viewpoint are lacking. Though the romance feels out of place, the profound storyline casts a deep light on the impact of this social issue through Annabelle's psyops campaign that comes across as a form of terrorism that requires takes a caring village to prevent.

One Mountain Away
Emilie Richards
9780778313557, $14.95

In Asheville, successful realtor Charlotte Hale assesses her life and finds it wanting. She has made a fortune, but at the cost of her daughter who she never sees or hears from. Her friends do not care one iota about her except for what she can do for them. Even her lovely home seems cold without loving family to mess it up.

Unhappy, Charlotte feels remorse over the death of animal protector Minnie as she knows she was part of the cause of the woman's death. At the coffee shop, waitress Harmony Stoddard serves Charlotte who watches a nasty customer treat the young woman with contempt. Recalling her time severing tables years ago, Charlotte intercedes when an unfortunate accident occurs. On an impulse, she takes Harmony home with her. As she begins to reach out to help people without fanfare or from a monetary distance, Charlotte dreams of reconciling with her daughter Taylor who she drove away when her then sixteen years old child told her she was pregnant and keeping the baby. Charlotte needs to hold her granddaughter Maddie whom she never met though she has seen her from a distance when the child is with her grandfather Ethan.

This Goddesses Anonymous family drama is an engaging contemporary due to the strong cast especially Charlotte who uses a journal to help her cope with her depression. Character driven by Charlotte who knows time is running out. However she fears rejection so she doesn't act on her feelings. With little action but with strong characters and Good Advice (re the movie scene of a mom and her estranged dying son) she finally learns that it is never too late to reach out to loved ones. Fans will appreciate this warm second chance at family.

Sneaky Pie For President
Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345530462, $26.00,

The title says it all as Sneaky Pie Brown adopted by Rita Mae Brown is tired of the humans destroying earth and harming the non Homo sapiens population with their chemicals. Like any caring politician, Sneaky Poe listens to his constituency (consisting of the creatures on land, in water and in the air) for their concerns. The woodpecker dines on bugs, but the sprays kill their food. Others agree that pesticides must be banned. Fish state that the humans must end their polluting of the waters and land animals decry the hunter stalking mentality to claim a trophy. Sneaky Pie even gains the support of the rodent population as the non-humans rally behind their feline candidate.

Her friends (Pewter the gray cat, Tee Tucker the Corgi, and Tally the Jack Russell) support her bid because they believe that if Sneaky is president she can end the human destruction and make the world a better place. With a nod to Furry Vengeance and Animal Farm, fans will enjoy Sneaky Pie for President as she and her buddies make her case in this cautionary anthropomorphic tail.

Stranger in the Room
Amanda Kyle Williams
9780553808087, $26.00

Private investigator and former FBI profiler Keye Street and Atlanta Police Department Lieutenant Aaron Rauser look forward to a restful Fourth of July weekend together. However, this being hot Atlanta, a respite over a holiday weekend proves impossible. Aaron Rauser investigates the strangling death of a teenage boy while Keye tries to persuading her emotionally damaged relative Miki that no one entered her home or stalks her.

Keye and her computer genius Neil head to Creeklaw County to work on a chicken feed crematorium case. When a second murder in Atlanta involving the hanging of an elderly man occurs Keye offers profile services to Aaron while both look into Miki's frightened accusations.

The second Keye Street investigative thriller (see The Stranger You Seek) is a terrific tale as the heroine works her cases and helps Aaron with his. They team up on Miki's assertion as both realize sometimes there can be someone chasing after a drug-addled paranoid while the crematorium subplot will remind Atlanta readers of the Tri-State Crematory scandal. Fans will enjoy this exciting Hotlanta regional mystery.

Wicked Business
Janet Evanovich
9780345527776, $28.00

In Salem, Massachusetts Diesel informs pastry chef Lizzy Tucker that his cousin, Gerwulf Grimoire has a lead on one of the seven stones of SALIGIA that each contains a deadly sin. He also says that Harvard University English Professor Gilbert Reedy was tossed off his fourth-floor balcony with a hand print on his neck that most likely belonged to Wulf.

They learn the late professor spent two decades in search of the Luxuria Stone that contains the sin of lust. Lizzy and Diesel accompanied by Carl follow clues found in a Romantic Era book of sonnets that leads them into the Boston catacombs, the Brahmin and the government while Wulf and his loyal follower Hatchet track his cousin and the tracker waiting to snatch the prize once they find it. Neither rival is aware that lurking in the shadows is Anarchy.

The second Lizzy and Diesel urban fantasy (see Wicked Appetite for gluttony) is a fun lighthearted romp. The storyline is fast-paced as the two teaming "Unmentionables" seek lust before Wulf obtains it. The Evanovich trademark jocularity seems off and distracting; still fans will enjoy touring Boston with Lizzy, Diesel and Carl as our guides.

Odd Apocalypse
Dean Koontz
9780553807745, $28.00

Odd Thomas communicates with ghosts and has visions including seeing before meeting Annamaria who talks in an odd cryptic vernacular. They recently met (see Odd Hours) and soon after accept an invitation to spend time as guests at Roseland where they are placed in a stone tower and warned not to leave at night. Also with the pair is breathing Raphael the Golden Retriever and Boo the German shepherd ghost dog.

Odd encounters a despondent woman on a horse who using pantomime to tell him that her son who is at Roseland is in trouble. After the ghost leaves, Odd continues his walk where he sees weird copper lazy eights all over the compound while also meeting the odd residents who tell him to flee immediately. Heeding the pleas of the ghostly mother and Annamaria, Odd knows he faces evil if he is to save the offspring.

The latest Odd paranormal thriller is an enjoyable entry as wherever the hero goes trouble follows. The storyline has a gothic feel to it especially Roseland, which in many ways is the prime support "character". Though there are too many external references (Psycho ghost Mr. Hitchcock excluded) that slow down the latest encounter with evil, fans of the series will appreciate the adventures of Odd, Annamaria, the canines and Tiny Tim with a late twisting pregnant pause that seems will have shocking future revelations.

The Witch Is Back
H.P. Mallory
9780345531568, $7.99

Master vampire Sinjin Sinclair vowed to keep his bewitching Jolie Wilkins safe but needs a do-over to have the "right" ending. After she is crowned queen of the Underworld (see Witchful Thinking), he sends her back in time to before she learns that she is a witch. Jolie is working at her tarot-reading store clueless as to her otherworldly powers.

Sinjin's enemy warlock Rand Balfour makes it clear to Jolie he wants her as does her vampiric protector. Jolie is attracted to both males but feels unworthy especially with the debonair Sinjin. She is baffled, not by her divided romantic feelings, but more a sense that something is off kilter in her world. She remains clueless that the Underworld is in peril as she remains ignorant to its' existence of the Underworld. As she must choose between the two hunks, Jolie needs to save the world by using her witch powers that she is unaware she possesses while the Lurkers stalk her and others.

This is an intriguing entry once fans of the series adapt to a sort of new beginning; newcomers will struggle to adjust to the deja vu references. Fast-paced, Jolie retains her likability enhanced by a new vulnerability on top of her lack of confidence. In addition there is also a well written novella "Be Witched" that tells the same storyline in "Toil and Trouble" but from Rand's viewpoint; however this tale comes across as awkward due to the feature fantasy's time travel premise and would have been more apropos as a bonus with Witchful Thinking.

When Temptation Burns
J.K. Beck
9780345525673, $7.99

In Los Angeles several homicides have occurred in which the female victims were mutilated and their blood drained. The Preternatural Enforcement Coalition is concerned that psychopaths believing their genocidal end justifies the mean by killing the innocent is trying to expose their paranormal species to the larger human populace. They assign Preternatural Enforcement Coalition centuries-old paradaemon Agent Ryan Doyle to investigate.

Reporter Andrea Tarrent follows the same story as Ryan is. He is shocked by his attraction to her as he takes pride in his self-control. She reciprocates his confusion and his desire. As they team up in pursuit of a serial killer(s), his efforts to conceal his essence and the preternatural existence prove increasingly impossible while Andy wonders what the hell she has gotten into.

The latest Shadow Keepers romantic urban fantasy (see When Darkness Hungers) grips fans from its opening sequence of three humans stalking a werewolf and never slows down until the final confrontation. Part of the fun is the intrepid reporter knows her "partner" hides something humongous and she plans to find out what the secret is. When Temptation Burns is a terrific entry as the streets of L.A. burn with a genocide like intensity so that Andy will leave readers knowing who the monsters truly are.

Garment of Shadows
Laurie R. King
9780553807998, $26.00

Having completed her brother-in-law's assignment and a silent film shoot for Fflytte Films (see The Pirate's King), Russell looks forward to seeing her husband Holmes in Morocco. However, when Holmes arrives at the rendezvous locale, his Russell is not there and has not been seen since she walked into the desert accompanied by a child several days ago; she left behind a note saying she was going to Fez.

Holmes seeks clues at the same time Russell awakens with a horrific headache in a place she does not recognize. As she ponders how she got here, Russell realizes she does not remember her name. Her gut tells her she needs to flee as she believes she is in peril; Russell starts the great escape though she has no idea where safety may be. Russell quickly learns it is 1924 and she is in Fez dressed as a man. As civil war supported by Europe seems imminent, Holmes continues his search for his spouse while Russell would never believe she is married to anyone.

Garment of Shadows is an exhilarating Russell-Holmes historical thriller as the heroine suffering from amnesia tells much of the entertaining storyline (in her memoirs) but Holmes' viewpoint is much greater than usual. Fast-paced from the whimsical moment the man informing Holmes that Russell left town thinks the great detective has the brains of a tortoise and never decelerating, fans will enjoy this super entry with a great climax and a discerning coda that resonates today.

Can't Hurry Love
Molly O'Keefe
9780345525611, $7.99

Her husband the financial investor was involved in a Ponzi scheme. When caught, he took the easy way out by committing suicide. He left behind an impoverished widow Victoria Schulman raising their seven years old son Jacob by herself. Victoria knows she lacks marketable skills and is guilty by association so her only answer is to leave New York and accompanied by Jacob move onto her nasty late father Lyle Baker's Crooked Creek Ranch, a place she hated as a child when she was forced to spend summers there.

Eli Turnbull worked for years at the ranch with hopes of one day buying what was once his family's land. Her plan is to convert the spread into a spa, which anger Eli who wants her to go back to Manhattan's high society. Finally accepting he will not help her she fires him. She turns around and hires his estranged mom Amy the architect who left him, his father and their ranch when Eli was eight years old. His father lectures Eli that not everything comes easy but quitting is for losers. As Eli and Tori fall in love, both must overcome their demons, which the Crooked Creek Ranch in many ways symbolizes.

Not for everyone as Eli and Tori each has plenty of emotional scars that makes the storyline much darker than her brother Luc's tale (see Can't Buy Me Love) though he and Tara Jean had their share. Character driven by protagonists whose anger and hurt leave them vulnerable, fans will appreciate this second chance at life though it is difficult to believe this couple can overcome the baggage flowing through their respective circulatory systems.

The Wanderers
Paula Brandon
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553583830, $15.00,

Aureste Belandor kills Vinz Corvestri in an act of self-defense. Magnifico Aureste knows the death of Magnifico Corvestri will have a negative impact on their weary companions as they needed the late mage's skills to help them on the impossible mission of balancing the world's Source of magic before reality is ripped asunder. The team is upset with what some call Corvestri's murder. As their distrust of one another grows, their only hope to succeed is to take a chance on each other and persuade arcanist Grix Orlazzu to join their divided team; but first they must find the recluse.

Aureste's daughter Jianna has little interest in her father's quest. Instead her focus is on freeing her beloved physician Falaste Rione who rescued her from imprisonment by her Aunt Magnifico Onarto; he resides on death row. Her only hope to free Falaste is with Magnifico Tribarri who loathes her. At the same time the undead slaves of the Overmind ravage the Veiled Isles.

The final Veiled Isles fantasy (see The Traitor's Daughter and The Ruined City) is a superb finish to a strong trilogy. Part of what makes this saga so good is that not everyone cares about the impact of the fall of magic that has been a key cornerstone of society for seemingly forever; in fact some rebel as they prefer to takes chances on a new reality without Magnificos dictating their existences. Fans will relish The Wanderers as Paula Brandon provides a terrific taut thriller.

Pleasures of a Tempted Lady
Jennifer Haymore
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446573160, $7.99,

On the Irish Sea the crew of the Freedom captained by Commander William Langley search for smugglers when they spot a drifting vessel. They rescue an unconscious woman with a frightened boy not older than six. However, Will is stunned as the female is his lost beloved Meg Donovan, who disappeared at sea eight years ago while the child is named Jake.

When she finally awakens, Meg explains that she escaped from the Defiant taking Jake with her when her friend the captain's wife recently died. She knows ruthless Jacob Caversham will come after them as he cannot accept such an affront especially in front of his vicious crew; as Jake is his son. Will vows to keep his beloved safe, but Meg refuses to allow either of the two males she cherishes to come to harm from vicious Caversham.

The third Donovan sister historical romance (see A Season Of Seduction) is an entertaining tale as Meg this time unlike in Confessions of an Improper Bride actually comes back from the dead. Although the premise for why she failed to attempt to escape much earlier seems too altruistically unlikely, fans will relish her return even if it means she is now her twin "Serena" and "Serena" is "Meg".

Shadow Rising
Kendra Leigh Castle
9781455511648, $7.99

The Grigori vampire clan resides in strongholds in the deserts of the West. This mysterious group knows their destiny is watchers observing others but forbidden to intrude on the activities of the other bloodlines or the humans.

Sammael vanishes, but Grigori leader Sariel makes it clear to the clan not to follow him. Ariane, Sammael's best friend, defies the decree as she does the unthinkable and sets out to find the wayward vampire. The House of Shadows commissions egocentric shapeshifting bounty hunter Damien Tremaine to bring in the rogue vampire. The pair collides and agrees to team up in their search for Sammael. Neither anticipated the attraction nor the evil chaos that stalks them and the Dark Dynasties of the United States.

The third Dark Dynasties romantic urban fantasy (see Midnight Reckoning and Dark Awakening) is a super star-crossed thriller starring two fascinating individuals coming from polar-opposite backgrounds inside of a deadly divided United States. The action-packed story line grips the reader from the moment a determined Ariane disobeys her leader (not an easy act) and never slows down as heated star-crossed lovers confront their respective hearts and a vicious ancient.

Forever And A Day
Jill Shalvis
9781455503698, $7.99

Four months ago, Grace Brooks left New York for a bank investor job in Seattle that ended when she refused to have sex with her employer. With no money she drives as far as she can until she runs out of gas in Lucky Harbor, Washington. She does odd jobs to survive and makes friends over chocolate with Health Services Clinic RN Mallory Quinn (see Lucky In Love) and waitress Amy Michaels (see At Last).

Overworked single dad Dr. Josh Scott hires Grace to walk Tank the Antichrist that his angry out of control wheelchair bound sister Anna gave to his five year old son Toby. After a soaking and failure with the mutt, Grace expects a firing; instead Josh hires her to take care of his troubled child when the nanny left. She feels for Toby who barks rather than talks. As she obtains bookkeeping jobs, attracted to each other Josh and Grace agree to a no strings relationship. When they fall in love, Josh knows caring for his son and his sister as well as his dedication as a doctor comes before his desires.

The latest Lucky Harbor contemporary romance is a wonderful zany affair starring two protagonists whose first hilarious meeting sets the tone of a strong serio-comedic tale. Fast-paced from the moment Tank the matchmaker causes a ruckus, fans will appreciate love and chocolate with a touch of the Jedi and wheelchair racing in a town affectionately summed up nicely by Sheriff Sawyer Thompson as fecking Mayberry.

The Last Policeman
Ben Winters
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9781594745768, $14.95,

Asteroid 2011GV1, dubbed Maia, is not a near earth object as this rock is an earth bound object. In six months Maia will collide with the planet leaving Earth dead. Humans react differently to the countdown but share in common prayers to God for a miracle and quitting their jobs.

For instance, Concord, New Hampshire has become known as "hanger town" due to the predominant form of suicide by residents. While most first responders have left to die with their families, Police Detective Hank Palace continues to work cases. He investigates the death of Peter Zell whose demise looks like another suicide but the cop thinks otherwise. At the same time his sister Nico wants Hank to find her missing husband.

This is a great pre countdown apocalyptic thriller in which how people react to the news supersedes a terrific investigation as even the hero wonders why he obsesses over a whodunit when in less than six months humans will become extinct like the dinosaurs. With no atheists in the foxholes, fans will appreciate the dark final days as earth will soon go out with a big bang rather than a whimper.

Creole Belle
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451648133, $27.99,

In the middle of the night when visitors are not allowed, Cajun singer Tee Jolie Melton sneaks into the hospital room of New Iberia, Louisiana Deputy Sheriff Dave Robicheaux who is drugged to control his pain while he recovers from a bullet wound. Tee Jolie leaves behind an iPod filled with her music. No one else in the hospital saw the singer who vanished several months ago as everyone insists the morphine led to an illusion; though none of them can explain adequately the iPod tunes like "My Creole Belle" to Dave.

While Dave ponders what happened, Tee Jolie's teenage sister Blue is found inside a large floating block of ice dead from a heroin overdose hidden inside her mouth is a note: "My sister is alive." Meanwhile, Bix Golightly demands Clete Purcel pay him $30,000 immediately for a gambling debt the thug bought from Frankie Giacano. However, contract killer Caruso kills Bix, his enforcer Waylon Grimes and Frankie. Clete saw Bix's murder and tells Dave that Caruso is his daughter Gretchen Horowitz. As Clete and Dave search for Tee Jolie, they are caught in the crosshairs of the Dupree brood.

The latest Dave Robicheaux mystery (see The Glass Rainbow) is a terrific thriller as James Lee Burke ties the oil spill to Nazis and more. Action-packed from the moment the Creole Belle singer visits Dave and never slowing down, fans will relish this superb regional investigation as the two buds search for Tee Jolie while struggling with what to do about their respective daughters.

Detroit Breakdown
D.E. Johnson
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250006622, $25.99,

In 1912 in the Detroit area, the caller informs Elizabeth Hume that her cousin Robert Clarke, a lifelong resident of the Eloise Insane Asylum is suspected of murdering another patient. Elizabeth tries to speak with her cousin, but is told no since Robbie is being kept in solitary confinement as this is the fourth person murdered by the Phantom using the "Punjab lasso".

She asks her friend Will Anderson to help. Elizabeth volunteers at the facility in order to prove her Robbie is innocent. Will pretends to suffer from amnesia so he is committed as a patient at Eloise Hospital. As the two along with Police Detective Riordan investigate the serial killings, Will learns what it is like to be a helpless patient with no champion to protect him from the abuse and abasement of the staff.

With a reminder of the need for vigilance to protect those most helpless (think of Willowbrook in the 1960s), Detroit Breakdown is a powerful dark historical noir. Fast-paced from the moment Will enters the asylum, readers will be shocked by the treatment he receives. The serial killer inquiry is superb, but it is the conditions at the Eloise Insane Asylum that grips the audience as D.E. Johnson provides another superb Anderson Motor City Shakedown (see Anderson Electric Car).

Far North
Michael Ridpath
9780312675042, $25.99

In 2009 during the pots-and-pans revolution, unemployed banker Harpa Einarsdottir accidentally kills her former boss Gabriel Orn. Several months later in London, someone shoots to death Icelandic banker Oskar Gunnarsson, who was under investigation for fraud. Other assassinations follow.

On loan to the Icelandic police because of his family's roots, Boston PD detective Magnus Jonson is assigned to the inquiry into Gunnarrsson's murder. He seeks a link between that death and the accidental death of Orn. However, the murder of his Icelandic expatriate father several years ago in Boston still disturbs Magnus who is unaware that the tie to his dad's killing goes back to 1934 with what two young boys witnessed.

The financial meltdown in Iceland serves as the impetus for an exhilarating police procedural (see Where the Shadows Lie) as a nation of 300,000 suspects exist with rage against the banking elite. The investigation to excellent while Magnus works the case but struggles with what happened to his dad as he has never found closure. Readers will relish this strong Icelandic whodunit as the cops, who lost big time to the crisis, sympathize with the vigilante.

Kill You Twice
Chelsea Cain
9780312619787, $24.99

Portland Police Detective Archie Sheridan the insomniac knows why he cannot sleep by touching the scar; so when nine year old Patrick calls him, he commiserates as they belong to the same survivor club and counts numbers with the traumatized child until the lad falls asleep.

On the top of Mount Tabor in a park, Archie looks at the body of Jake Kelley, a volunteer at the Life Work Center for Young Women. The victim was hammered in the head and tortured while alive with skin carved from his chest and abdomen before he died. Legally insane serial killer Gretchen Lowell resides in lock up at the Oregon State Hospital where she persuades Dr. Prescott to inform Archie that her child is in danger; he wants nothing to do with the great manipulator who scarred him and left him sleepless in Portland though he knows if a child lives the kid could be his. When a second victim is burned to death on the fifty foot city neon sign in Old Town, Lowell contacts reporter Susan Ward insisting Ryan Motley is the killer and that there is a third not yet found victim.

The latest Sheridan-Lowell Oregonian tango (see The Night Season) is somewhat the same refrain especially early, but freshened up starting with Prescott's revelation and Ward's interview of the diabolical serial killer that provides series fans with deeper insight into her psyche especially her past. The twisting storyline is fast-paced from the Kelly homicide and never slows down as Lowell proves her psychopathic brilliance; summed up by her assertion that Archie is happiest when he chases her.

Fire Season
Jon Loomis
9780312668136, $24.99

While the search for a permanent police chief goes on, Provincetown, Massachusetts detective Frank Coffin serves temporarily as the cop in charge while also doing his regular job. His hope for an easy run in which he spends time with his pregnant girlfriend and deals with his Alzheimer's inflicted mom during the non-tourist season proves false wishful thinking.

First someone kills several seals. Next Frank becomes concerned with a serial arsonist whose fires are increasingly becoming bigger and more dangerous. Finally inside the Fish Palace's lobster tank floats a human head amongst the crustaceans. As he investigates the seal homicides, the Fire Season, the decapitated head and UFOs, Frank wishes they would select the chief already.

The latest Frank Coffin Season Mysteries (see High Season and Mating Season) is an amusing police procedural, Filled with eccentric characters (residents and visitors) and plenty of whimsical situations including UFO terror and when the hero's mom or Uncle Rudy takes the stage, readers will enjoy Frank's abysmal season as the acting chief.

Dead Ringer
Allen Wyler
Astor + Blue Editions
419 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003
9781938231148, $12.99,

Seattle-based neurosurgeon Dr. Lucas McCrae is in demand as he specializes in the most difficult cases. Currently, Dr. Wong Yih-Wah invited him to provide a demonstration at Hong King's Queen Victoria Hospital using the "fresh" head of a cadaver. Lucas begins his demo when he looks at the face staring back at him. He starts puking because he sees the head of his best friend Andy Baer.

Seattle Missing Persons Squad Police Detective Wendy Elliot investigates the disappearance of hooker Lupita Ruiz who befriended her when the cop worked vice. Her boss Redwing seems indifferent to her inquiry unless it interferes with her caseload. She visits Ditto's Funeral Home because a vehicle illegally parked near where Lupita vanished is registered to the Medical Research center of Seattle and is owned by the funeral parlor. Soon the cop, the surgeon and Lupita's brother the gangbanger team up as they look into the lucrative body recycling supply business that has made Ditto a fortune.

Allen Wyler's latest medical thriller (see Dead head) is a tense suspense starring two dedicated people Sleepless in Seattle. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Lucas stares at Andy's head and never slows down as the two subplots deftly converge. Although a key ally in the body parts commodity exchange seems an unlikely enabler and the probability of Hong Kong is astronomical (as several characters point out), readers will relish this tense tale while wondering alongside of Lucas whether that is Andy's head or a Dead Ringer.

Hearts Of Darkness
Kira Brady
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420124569, $6.99,

Norgard assigns Hart the mercenary werewolf to obtain a necklace. He watches the grieving human, alleged wearer of the necklace when Hart notices the ancient adversaries nearby. He muses over the bloody war between the self-proclaimed human protectors Kivati and the Drekar while detesting both sides but feeling the latter are honest in what they want.

Nurse Kayla Friday flies from Philadelphia to Seattle to identify the body in the morgue; her pregnant sister Desi lies dead on the slab. Stunned Kayla begins to do something that has Hart warning her to stop before she dies. He demands she give him the necklace he claims she stole from his employer while shocked that she is human. Hart finds the card of nasty Kivati Raven Lord Emory Corbette amongst Desi's final possessions. He tells her to run back to Pennsylvania, but his advice proves too late when Rudrick and his thugs enter the morgue. Soon they are teaming up investigating her sibling's murder, seeking the necklace and falling in an uneasy love that shakes the Aether.

This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy that has a horde of diverse paranormal running wild in the streets of Seattle. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this thriller from the moment Hart tells Kayla to run and never slows down to even a walk as Kira Brady provides a fabulous first act.

A Woman Made For Pleasure
Michele Sinclair
9781420126495, $6.99

Having vowed to never marry, by 1816 Lady Millie Aldon loves excitement. She feels her childhood friend Marquis Chase Wentworth, who just returned to London after spending time in Spain, will provide her with plenty of stimulation as she senses he hides a secret that she plans to learn what it is.

While she clandestinely conducts surveillance of Chase, he steals a kiss from her, which has both reeling from the impact. As they fall in love, she reconsiders her non-marriage pledge and he thinks of his dangerous secret mission to uncover the murderous traitor who betrayed the crown and him in Spain. However, his attention towards Millie places his beloved in danger from his diabolical adversary. Instead of running from the peril, she thrives on the peril of their awesome adventure.

A Woman Made For Pleasure is a great regency romantic espionage thriller starring a dedicated "Spy Who Came In From The Cold" and a marvelous "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Filled with danger, a great romance, and a thrilling late twist, fans will relish Michele Sinclair's strong spy saga.

The Mad Lord's Daughter
Jane Goodger
9781420111521, $6.99

In 1862 Melissa Atwell lived in isolation with her father the "Mad Lord of Northumberland" until his recent death. Melissa is stunned as she has no time to grieve her loss since her life as a recluse is over as her guardian her uncle Lord Braddock plans on introducing her to society; expecting his ward will find a proper husband. Braddock hires Miss Stanhope as Melissa's chaperone.

He assigns his son John to help Melissa adjust to the Ton. John is attracted to Melissa and whenever he thinks of her marrying someone beside him he becomes agitated. Melissa is attracted to John and vows to marry him or no one. However, both know they can never wed though in love. At the same her late father's secret that she is unaware of and he supposedly took to the grave with him begins to surface; if revealed she will return to rustic solitude as The Mad Lord's Daughter.

This is an enticing Victorian romance starring two fabulous "fools in love". The key to the engaging storyline is the secret that "Mad Lord of Northumberland" took to his grave (apparently not) as readers will want to know why Lord Atwill became a single dad hermit in Jane Goodger's delightful historical romantic romp.

Fire Kissed
Erin Kellison
9781420118971, $6.99

Banished by her fae fire peers for refusing to marry her fiance Ferrol Grey, Kaye Brand was fifteen when she left her Mage house. She became a mercenary to survive selling her talent to show customers the future in flames for a sizable fee. Angel of the Order Jack Bastian loathes magical sellers like Kaye, branding her and others like her as prostitutes.

Thus he is irate with himself for hiring this beautiful female abomination though his cause to prevent a Mage war plunging the world into the Shadow is just. He needs information on Ferrol Grey who is instrumental in the hostilities between the Order and the mages and she is the best chance to obtain it. However, to his chagrin he is attracted to someone who he considers taboo and worse placed the mage he loves in the crosshairs of the dispute.

The latest Shadow romantic fantasy (see Shadowman, Shadow Fall and Shadow Bound) is a superb tale that hooks the audience with the introduction to Kaye in the prologue. The exciting storyline is filled with action and plenty of danger as the lead couple struggle to prevent the war and restrain their desire for one another. Readers will relish this strong thriller wondering whether fire melts the ice, the frozen puts out the flame, or love merges them into hot ice.

In The Barrister's Bed
Tina Gabrielle
9781420122756, $6.99

All his life his father the Duke of Blackwood failed to recognize James Devlin as his son though he occasionally was allowed to visit his sire's Wyndmoor manor. James became an efficient aloof London barrister. In 1819, the duke dies and to his shock, James inherits as he turns out to have been legitimate.

Though he knows he is being foolishly sentimental James compulsively needs to own Wyndmoor Manor, which was sold, as the only place he connected with his late father. He buys the estate, but when James arrives at Wyndmoor he finds the "owner" widow Bella Sinclair already residing there. She has a deed too and refuses to leave. As they battle for ownership, James uses seduction as a means to achieve his end; but soon wonders who is seducing whom as he falls in love; just when her past brings danger that threatens their lives.

The second Barrister regency romance (see In The Barrister's Chamber) is an engaging historical gender war. Readers will root for the intrepid heroine who learned patience from her first marriage as she outlasted her late odious husband; on the other hand we will hiss at the poster child of the heartless barrister whose obsession leaves him initially willing to do anything to possess Wyndham Manor. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale but will want more action in the courtroom chambers rather than the manor chambers.

The Book Of The Night
Pearl North
Tor Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765320988, $17.99,

Now that the Libyrarians and the Singers realize they come from the same root, the longtime enemies end their hostilities. The former adversaries look forward to peace and plentiful throughout the land. Alas that is not to be when Po the healer finds the ancient Lion's Bloom (a pen); this artifact can alter reality with the strokes of a pen.

Arrogant Queen Thela abducts Po and steals the Lion's Bloom. She uses it to scribe her first sentence forbidding Po from harming her and turns him into her consort. Po uses advanced Kinseology techniques to keep her occupied and ergo not using the pen. However when someone challenges her for her throne, an irate Thela concludes that Po has cunningly manipulated her. Raging she uses the pen with everything she writes occurring and ripping the fiber of what was reality. As a new order begins to supersede the world that the Libyrarians and the Singers know, Redeemer Haly finds no way to end the never ending story of the Libyrinth as the only hope to prevent eradication rests with the mystical Book of the Night.

The third and final Libyrinth teen fantasy (see The Boy from Ilysies and Libyrinth) is a thrilling finish to a strong saga. The action-packed storyline contains a fully developed cast starting with the "You're So Vain" (Carly Simon) queen who tries to ignore her sparks of decency and a resolute Po who vows to stop her insanity.

The Book Of The Night
Pearl North
Tor Teen
9780765320988, $17.99

Now that the Libyrarians and the Singers realize they come from the same root, the longtime enemies end their hostilities. The former adversaries look forward to peace and plentiful throughout the land. Alas that is not to be when Po the healer finds the ancient Lion's Bloom (a pen); this artifact can alter reality with the strokes of a pen.

Arrogant Queen Thela abducts Po and steals the Lion's Bloom. She uses it to scribe her first sentence forbidding Po from harming her and turns him into her consort. Po uses advanced Kinseology techniques to keep her occupied and ergo not using the pen. However when someone challenges her for her throne, an irate Thela concludes that Po has cunningly manipulated her. Raging she uses the pen with everything she writes occurring and ripping the fiber of what was reality. As a new order begins to supersede the world that the Libyrarians and the Singers know, Redeemer Haly finds no way to end the never ending story of the Libyrinth as the only hope to prevent eradication rests with the mystical Book of the Night.

The third and final Libyrinth teen fantasy (see The Boy from Ilysies and Libyrinth) is a thrilling finish to a strong saga. The action-packed storyline contains a fully developed cast starting with the "You're So Vain" (Carly Simon) queen who tries to ignore her sparks of decency and a resolute Po who vows to stop her insanity.

Johnny Hiro (Half Asian, All Hero)
Fred Chao
9780765329370, $16.99

In Brooklyn, Johnny Hiro lives with his Pollyanna girlfriend Mayumi while he works across the Bay as a busboy in a Lower East Side sushi restaurant owned by Chef Masago; she accepts her role is that of the pretty sidekick GF to the hero. One night while they are sleeping, Gozadilla the monster that destroyed Tokyo crashes through their paper thin apartment wall seeking vengeance against Mayumi's mom who was a limb of giant Super A-OK Robot that kicked his butt. However, Johnny has experience battling urban blight waiters demanding greater tips for inadequate service or samurai carrying businessmen. Thus Johnny ruining Mayumi's bunny slippers leaps in a single bound at the humongous lizard hoping his reflexes keep him from an extended hospital stay as he lacks insurance. Thank goodness for Mayor Bloomberg or Johnny would not be there to play catch with a gigantic tuna, battling sushi ninja, arguing the law with Judge Judy in Night Court and dealing with the government failure to bail out that critical too big to fail capitalist industry, high heels; all part of everyday living in New York City.

This graphic version of the award winning Johnny Hiro survivor of New York City comic books showcases the amusing satirical adventures of a young man trying to make it in a city that never sleeps (as Gozadilla proves). The entries are fast-paced short clips with the B&W drawings lampooning the misadventures of the working class couple as nothing is sacred when it comes to life in the boroughs.

The Dragon Reborn
Robert Jordan
9780765334350, $15.99

Three millennia ago the Dragon and the male mages sealed the Dark One in an unbreakable prison. However, the mages paid the cost of their involvement as all of them went insane; males mages since also become mad.

The unthinkable is starting to happen as the binds containing the Dark One is breaking apart. If freed, nothing can prevent the disaster. However, there is some hope that Rand al'Thor is the Dragon Reborn. Though he battles madness, Rand knows he must obtain the sword Callandor. He, his allies and his enemies travel the dangerous path to Tear where Callandor is guarded.

The reprint of the exciting third Wheel of Time epic fantasy (see The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt) is an action-packed adventure thriller in which good and evil clash. The fast-paced storyline grips fans of the saga throughout although there is too many happenstance moments especially the miraculous appearance of an individual obtaining the right skill at the right time. Ironically Rand plays less of a role than the Aes Sedai novices (Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne) and even Mat in Robert Jordan's thrilling tale.

Queen's Hunt
Beth Bernobich
9780765322180, $24.99

In Tiralien City, Varaene lovers Ilse Zhalina and Raul Kosenmark break up after a quarrel. In fact their highly visible argument was a sham in order for them to prevent war between the kingdoms of Karovi and Varaene.

Thus Ilse leaves town allegedly to escape her former lover, but actually to find one of the three magical Lir jewels to counterbalance that held by Karovi King Dzavek. At the same Raul, once upon a time a royal court attendee seeks information on the plans of two kings. Their enemy Markus Khandarr captures and interrogates Ilse; who escapes with an incognito queen seeking peace and a disgraced female soldier.

With a late medieval feel to the plot, the second River of Souls fantasy (see Passion Play) is an engaging entry; as the lead couple spends most of the storyline on separate exciting adventures with each trying to save the world from dark and light magical and mundane hostilities. The secondary cast, especially the two female companions of Ilse and allies of Raul, are fully developed as they enhance an entertaining thriller.

D.B. Jackson
9780765327611, $24.99

In 1765 Boston Ethan Kaille the thieftaker conjures spells to track stolen goods for a fee. Abner Berson hires Kaille to locate the brooch stolen from his murdered daughter Jennifer.

Ethan, assisted by his familiar a ghost garbed in medieval armor, works the case. They start with Jennifer's corpse that shows no signs of physical trauma but Ethan detects magic performed by a sorcerer much more powerful than the thieftaker. Kaille finds clues that tie the unknown conjurer to rebellion, something he prefers to avoid after spending time in a penal colony for his role in a mutiny though he supports the concepts of the Sons of Liberty who he meets. As he digs deeper, Ethan deals with his thieftaker's rival Sephira Pryce who will use any means to eliminate the competition.

This is an exhilarating opening act of a wonderful pre-Revolutionary War historical fantasy starring a wonderful hardboiled detective who prefers brains to brawn. The vernacular, real events like the reaction to the Stamp Act and other details of life in Colonial Boston enable armchair readers to believe they meet notables like Samuel Adams. Although the use of Latin in conjuring feels too gimmicky and distracting, fans will enjoy the entertaining Thieftaker.

Earth Unaware
Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
9780765329042, $24.99

An extended family affair, the mining ship El Cavador travels deep inside of the Kuiper Belt. When an object is detected decelerating, the crew knows this is a visit by a vessel from outside the solar system. On an asteroid, they debate what to do with Victor Delgado insisting they warn everyone. Captain Concepcion questions who while the leaders proclaim no one as they fear claim-jumping corporates.

Corporate miner Lem Jukes tests a machine that breaks down an entire asteroid into its various molecules. He chooses the locale where the El Cavador is, but starts with a sneak attack on that ship. Several days later, Victor and others finally fix the prime systems but lack communications to warn the imminent invasion by aliens. While on Earth, Captain Wit O'Toole seeks the best of the best from the military to join the U.N.-backed Mobile Operations Police.

This prequel to the Ender's Game outer space thriller is an exciting tale that fans will enjoy though it covers the same time, space and theme as Marvel's Formic War saga. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the aliens attack as do the corporates. Fans of the series will enjoy reading the events of what led up to the Enders Game though if you read the comic books the plot comes across as deja vu with more depth.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel Volume 2
Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon and Andie Tong
9780765331625, $24.99

The Trollocs surprisingly attack remote Emond's Field while Myrddraal targets three villagers (Rand al'Thir, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara), who conclude they are the focus of the hostilities so to save the townsfolk from further slaughter they flee. Egwene al'Vere, Moraine Damordred the Aes Sedai, Warder Al'Lan Mandragoran and Thom Merrilin the Gleeman join the frightened lads. None know why the enemy wants this threesome (see The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel Volume 1).

Lan leads the riders on the North Road heading to Tar Valan home of the Aes Sedai while Moiraine uses her power to keep her traveling companions and their horses from tiring. The Trollocs Pursue, but the deadlier Draghkar finds them. Lan realizes the Myrddraal knows where they are. They reach Taren Ferry where they pay Hightower to take them to the other side. On the sixth day the weary group makes it to the large city of Baerion where innkeeper Master Fitch welcomes then and the Children of the Light do not. Nynaeve al'Meara the Wisdom of Emond's Field joins the band on the run vowing to bring the three lads home safe.

The second graphic adaptation of Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World is an exciting fantasy that captures more of the essence of the original novel. The travelers have diverse personalities as Rand suffers from nightmares; while Lan trusts no one though he shows reverence to the Aes Sedai who mentors Egwene; and the Gleeman warns the naive country lads to watch what they say even within the band. Although the confrontational action is limited, Chuck Dixon's adaptation and Andie Tong's illustrations are excellent.

Forged in Fire
J. A. Pitts
9780765324696, $26.99

In the Seattle area Sarah Beauhall muses about her difficulty previous months since the blacksmith and budget movies props guru working on Elvis versus the Goblins forged a sword that turned out to be the Nordic legendary Gram (see Black Blade Blues). Since then, all sorts of supernatural creatures accost her and her significant other Katie over ownership of the blade that allegedly Sigurd used to slay Fafnir the dragon Jean Paul. She now believes it as she and her friends defeated a dragon twice (see Honeyed Words).

However, Sarah has no time for R&R with Katie because a necromancer serial killer deploys deadly magic in Washington State. She knows all of the dead and Sarah concludes this evil adversary who has no compunction about killing the innocent is stalking her and must be stopped by her before more die. However Sarah remains ignorant of another insidious threat to the well-being of herself, her beloved Katie and their allies and friends.

The third Sarah Beauhall urban fantasy is an exciting action-packed thriller that works because of Sarah and her cohorts still struggling to rationally accept an altered "physics". The storyline is fast-paced while the prime villain is a powerful diabolical threat to the heroine. Although the climax is abrupt, fans will enjoy Sarah's daring feats Forged in Fire.

Edward M. Lerner
9780765328496, $27.99

The "Crudetastrophe nuclear disaster left the Middle East oil fields contaminated and unusable. Russia has become the world's top oil producer. In America, the price of a gallon at the tank is $10 and growing while several alternative energy resources are being deployed.

One of these efforts deals with moving Phoebe into an Earth orbit; where Powersat One, a gigantic solar power station will be constructed that emits microwave power to receiving stations in the United States. There are strong oppositions to the project from environmentalists, anti-technology Resetters and clandestinely Russia who prefers their monopoly. The Russian Federal Security Service blackmails powersat project participants. Radio astronomer Valerie Clayburn is irate with what has happened to her studies, but NASA engineer Marcus Judson convinces her they need her help. As Marcus travels to Phoebe, the Russians take control of powersat releasing powerful microwaves around the world to destroy alternative energy installations.

This is a fast-paced cautionary science fiction that grips the readers from start to finish. Although the cast seems out of a Cold War movie like Red Dawn, which somewhat diminishes the message, readers will enjoy this Energized action-packed thriller.

The Hollow City
Dan Wells
9780765331700, $25.95

Delusional Michael Shipman suffers from hallucinations as he is schizophrenic. Because he is paranoid Michael also suffers from the obsessive belief that The Faceless Men pursue him. Awakening in a hospital, he wants to know where his girlfriend Lucy is while the medical staff assumes there is no Lucy or girlfriend as he is mentally divergent (in layman's terms - crazy). However, Dr. Murray becomes concerned beyond the patient's well-being when Michael mentions the Faceless men. The doctor asks him if he knows about Chicago's Red Line Killer who leaves victims without their visage.

Reporter Kelly Fischer sneaks into his room to get an exclusive. When she mentions the Children of the Earth; Michael reacts by saying their leader Milos Cerny killed his mother after he was born so he will kill them. Stunned she says almost all the victims belong to the Children of the Earth. To his horror, Michael is taken to Powell, a psychiatric hospital that he has been sent to before. There he observes The Faceless Men hunting him. Michael flees the hospital with a plan to uncover the identity of the Red Line Killer, learn the truth about the Children of the Earth, and locate The Hollow City that has haunted his memories seemingly forever.

John Wayne Cleaver was a fascinating refreshing protagonist, but Michael Shipman as a paranoid schizophrenic suffering from some amnesiac has an even more unique voice as even he distrusts his memories and his ability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Think of the movie A Beautiful Mind but instead of a university the venue is a serial killer. Fans will appreciate this exciting thriller wondering what the truth is and whether Michael is the Red Line Killer.

Wake of the Bloody Angel
Alex Bledsoe
9780765327451, $14.99

Tavern owner Angelina hires her room renter private investigator Eddie Lacrosse at 25 gold pieces per day to find her lover. Two decades ago sailor Edward Tew and barmaid Angelina met and had one hell of a month before he left for his first love the sea though before he departed he promised her he will come back to her. Edward became the pirate Captain Black Edward but never returned to Angelina.

LaCrosse learns that Black Edward's ship the Bloody Angel allegedly sunk after they stole a humongous horde from King Clovis' treasure ship. One crew member Marteen survived while Tew supposedly went down with his ship. However, LaCrosse also hears another rumor in which Tew not only lives, but lives as ruler of a pirate kingdom. Finally a third tale is that the dead Black Edward sails the sea forever. Needing help he asks Jane Argo to join his mission.

The latest Eddie LaCrosse paranormal investigation is a delightful thriller that grips the audience from start to finish although more a swashbuckler than the usual detective fantasy of the previous entries (see Dark Jenny). Muscular tall Jane is an interesting sidekick who ties males in knots just ask her spouse. Fans will enjoy the amusing search for the real Black Edward Tew; not the legend.

Rivals and Retribution
Shannon Delany
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312625184, $9.99,

In Junction Jessie Gillmansen and the Rusakova family including her boyfriend Pietr take the lycanthropic cure so that they can be "normal" and safe from the mob and the company whose headquarters in town was destroyed (see Destiny and Deception). However, Pietr has changed, which strains his relationship with Jessie.

Menwhile, Marlaena leads her Chicago werewolf pack to take over Junction. When someone abducts Jessie, Pietr goes berserk with an obsessive need to rescue his beloved. However, he turns wolf only to imprint with Marlaena. Like him she loves someone else so neither wants this bond. At the same a mutual enemy plots the demise of the Lycan while Jessie hopes to save her boyfriend and reverse engineer the terrible scientific experiments.

The final 13 to Life werewolf saga (see Secrets and Shadows and Bargains and Betrayals) is an engaging climax to an entertaining urban fantasy. The storyline is fast-paced, but the enemy who seems menacingly invincible early on fails to live up to their earlier reputation when the confrontation occurs. Still fans of the saga will appreciate Rivals and Retribution as time is running out to find the cure and deal with the adversarial assault.

Ties That Bind
Natalie R. Collins
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312941994, $7.99

In Kanesville, Utah, the Stake President Mark Malone finds his seventeen year old son Jeremiah hung himself using a tie. KPD Detective Samantha Montgomery becomes angry and frustrated when a peer at the death scene tampered with the evidence by removing the tie. Her boss Chief Roberson tells Sam to make the inquiry fast as he believes Jeremiah committed suicide. Sam feels the death is too similar to recent suicides by two girls Jeremiah's age; she wonders if a serial killer stalks Kanesville.

Seminary principal and Sam's high school sweetheart Pail Carlson shows his office computer screen to the police; someone with access to the seminary typed in "Vengeance", which changes the cause for the three teen deaths from self-inflicted to murder. Salt Lake City Police Detective Gage Flint arrives to help on the investigation over the objection of Sam who blames him, her former lover, for her having to leave SLCPD. As they investigate, Vengeance watches Sam closely as she may be next.

Natalie R. Collins latest Mormon Church mystery (see Latter Day Saints, SisterWife and Wives And Sisters) is an exciting police procedural serial killer thriller. The engaging whodunit shines a light on the closed abusive patriarchal society especially in an insular small-town (one near Salt Lake City) in which a dark soul rationalizes his actions by claiming he is God's Vengeance against sinners; though one must wonder why he waited to attack Sam who disavowed any connection to the Church. Although Sam can be too angry, fans will understand why with her older sister dead but still inside her head, her dad condemning her wicked ways and her mom a vegetable.

To The Grave
Carlene Thompson
St. Martin's
9780312360757, $7.99

Catherine Gray returns to Aurora Falls to establish her psychology practice. Her teenage unrequited love James Eastman has a legal practice in town. James met his troubled ex-wife Renee in New Orleans when he attended Tulane University law school. She left Aurora Falls three years ago without a warning; not a word since she departed.

Catherine shows her sister Melissa, James' country estate where both are shocked to find Renee's murdered corpse. They call the police who investigate the homicide while wondering why the victim came back to town and who someone wanted her dead. At the same time the cops make their inquiries, another homicide occurs, which leads Catherine to wonder if she is next on the killer's queue.

This is an exciting romantic suspense with a strong murder mystery anchoring the engaging storyline. Although neither lead character nor any of the support players including the corpse comes across as fully developed, readers will want to know who killed Renee and why as the whodunit grips the audience from the start to the final confrontation.

Almost A Scandal
Elizabeth Essex
St. Martin's
9781250003799, $7.99

In 1805 Richard Kent dishonored his stunned family when he vanished rather than board the HMS Audacious in Portsmouth. To save the honor of her family his older sister Sally puts on the British Royal Navy uniform. She joins the crew of the Audacious as a midshipman. Sally loves sailing the High seas and being liberated from the rigid rules of polite society as she proves to be a super sailor.

Lieutenant David Colyear knows the Kent family having sailed with them over the years. He suspects something not quite right about Richard so he keeps an eye on the lad until Col realizes Richard is Sally. Col keeps it secret as he knows she is a superior sailor than most of the crew. However in sea battles with the Spanish and French navies, he becomes concerned for her safety and ready to batter a sailor for bullying her. As they fall in love amidst the war, neither is ready to deal with this undesirable feeling.

The first Reckless Brides Regency romance is a delightful high seas thriller as love and war merge. Fast-paced from the moment Sally becomes Richard, fans will enjoy the scandalous behavior of Sally as she is more comfortable in sea battles than in aristocratic balls.

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess
Alexandra Hawkins
St. Martin's
9781250001375, $7.99

In 1812 in Diphill Green, Catherine Deverall survived a horrid childhood filled with abuse and the sexual assault by her foster cousin Robert Royles when she was fifteen. Knowing her foster parents blame her, she fled for London, where she became a courtesan and five years later has become Madame Venna, the half-masked proprietress of the exclusive Golden Pearl brothel.

However, Madame Venna shares the most incredible night of her life with the Marquess of Sainthill, sinful Simon "Saint" Jefferes. Needing to get the Saint out of her blood, she sleeps around with his friend and other customers; while also dispatching employees to satiate the Saint's needs.

The latest Lords of Vice Regency romance (see Sunrise with a Notorious Lord, Till Dawn with a Devil and All Night with a Rogue) is an entertaining historical with a unique spin. The actions of the two fascinating amoral protagonists are intriguing as each throws other bodies at each other to keep their distance. Though over the top of the Tower as no one will accept a permanent relationship can be forged between them even if they are in love; fans will enjoy the journey as the lead couple uses very wicked tricks to avoid that unwanted emotion.

Heather Anastasiu
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250002990, $9.99

The planet surface was poisoned by the dwellers making it inhabitable for humans to reside there. In the underground Community, inside of everyone's brains are computer chips that wirelessly connect all residents to the Link. Feelings are dampened to the point that emotion is nonexistent so that the rivalries that destroyed the outside will not devastate the inside.

Seventeen years old Zoe glitches, which at time disconnects her from the Link. She knows her duty is to report her new status so she can be fixed, but she enjoys thinking in a world filled with colors. Zoe also has telekinesis ability. She conceals her rebirth from authorities until she meets Max and Adrien who are just like her and learns about the Resistance trying to free humanity from electronic slavery.

This is a taut 1984-like dystopian thriller in which teenage readers will accept the premises of the Community. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with exciting unexpected spins. Although the cast is not developed to include the critical triangular relationships between the three glitchers, fans will enjoy this action-packed drama.

Amanda Hocking
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250008121, $17.99

On summer vacation sixteen year old Gemma Fisher swims all day at the nearby pool where her coach observes her laps. However, she prefers her late night swims at Anthemusa Bay though her father and her older sister Harper disapprove because three people have recently vanished. When her car breaks down, her neighbor Alex takes her to the bay. At the cove, three girls begin singing, which has Alex swimming towards them until Gemma gets him to leave with her. Gemma wonders about the beautiful newcomers (Penn, Thea, Alexi and Arista) who have interrupted the tranquility of her nocturnal swims.

One night Penn, Thea and Alexi lure Gemma to join them near the water. When she awakens the next morning she is battered from head to toe but has no lucid memories of the night before. Gemma realizes she is no longer just the best swimmer locally but so much faster with greater endurance than she was. She also has uncanny healing skills that she had not possessed before that strange night and though already beautiful has become even prettier. The three girls explain that curses are blessings in disguise, but Gemma's gut warns her that her new friends are concealing the downside.

This is an engaging opening act of the Watersong horror thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who must choose between her previous life she loved and a new existence that makes her even stronger as a creature of the sea. The fast-paced storyline ends with a fabulous cliffhanger but the characters are not fully developed so that key relationships like between the siblings seem shallow. Still with tugs on her heart, fans will wonder whether Gemma swims with Alex or with the sirens.

Kept by Seduction
Jaymie Holland
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312386641, $14.99

Three consecutive years on the same day, one of Awai Steele's nieces vanished (see Annie in Bound By Desire, Alice in Taken by Passion, and Alexei in Claimed by Pleasure). She has no idea who or why, but Awai waits for the arrival of the culprit(s) to come for her on the anniversary date of their kidnapping is soon; she plans to make them pay.

Awai has become a Dom who still yearns to be a sub but refuses to give into her nature after the torture of marriage to an abuser when she was very young. Kingdom of Clubs ruler Ty comes for his bride Awai, but he senses she refuses to ever submit though that is what she desires. He explains she is his queen and that her family is safe and married to monarchs and raising were-children in the other three kingdoms of Tarok. Still danger stalks the kingdoms perhaps from allegedly dead sorceress Mikaela, sister of the four kings who never accepted female rivals.

This reprint of the final Wonderland (as Cheyenne McCray) BDSM fantasy romance is a delightful erotica as Ty must persuade his Awai they can enjoy love and life if she sets free her inner sub. Ironically she is the one who believes that the true power is with the sub over the dom. Readers will enjoy the titillating gender war as the King of Clubs tries to persuade his queen neither has to bust genital parts to have a wonderful SM life together.

A Hundred Flowers
Gail Tsukiyama
St. Martin's
9780312274818, $24.99

In 1957, Chairman Mao proclaimed "Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend." However, he failed to explain the unacceptable critiquing of the Party. Within one year of his declaration for open dialogue, the Communist party continues to round up the outspoken dissenters.

The police take history teacher Sheng Ying to a reeducation camp. His family is devastated by their loss of a loved one and on the economic impact of their new pariah status compounded by the incarceration of the breadwinner. His wife herbalist Kai Ying, their son Tao, his family friend Aunty Song, and his father art history professor Wei struggle with what has happened to Sheng. The adults try to hide the truth from Tao, but he learns about his father's fate from taunting students at school. His grandfather admits his role in what occurred; further tearing apart a grieving frightened family.

This historical thriller is a great character study of a Chinese family caught up in Mao's latest revolution. The perspective of life following a government sponsored rendition of a loved one is rotated between each member so that their fears and their interrelationships are fully developed yet also evolve since the abduction effects how each feel towards one another. Although there is no action, readers will appreciate the ordeal of a family and friends during the Hundred Flowers Campaign that challenged millennium of Chinese philosophy by going after the intellectuals.

The Year's Best Science Fiction 29th Annual Collection
Edited by Gardner Dozois
St. Martins
9781250003553, $21.99

This annual collection consistently is one of the best and the latest anthology obtains the high standard due to the overall strength of the thirty-five entries. My advanced reader copy failed to include the year's Summation essay so I obviously cannot comment on that. Many of the stories are award nominees with several winners. The sources range from the internet to magazines to books with few contributions from the less commonly known online sources. In "The Choice" by Paul McAuley occurs after the Spasm left the world devastated with places like Norfolk, England under water as two lads visit the sea dragon craft of aliens. The police suspect Dolly (by Elizabeth Bear) the sex robot was either the weapon or the killer of her viciously murdered owner. Linnea is stunned as to whatever that terrible thing is that has her mom leaving their home built by The Coffin People in The Dala Horse by Michael Stanwick; note that my advanced copy did not include the wonderful illustrations by Julie Dixon as found at In "Ghostweight" by Yoon Ha Lee, on Rhaion Lisse hosts a ghost as she becomes an Imperial cadet with one goal to destroy those who assaulted her village when she was a child. He is in charge of building a bridge over the mist in "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" by Kij Johnson is a wonderful novella about a man in charge of building a bridge over a mysterious substance known as mist. In "The Cold Step Beyond" by Ian R. MacLeod, Bess of the Warrior Church travels to an isolated sector of Island City of Ghezirah where she is to kill someone.

Amy Kathleen Ryan
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312621353, $17.99

The New Horizon and the Empyrean are the only hope for mankind to survive as they searched for a new Eden with earth dead. Pastor Anne Mather on the New Horizon needed breeding-age females but none were on her vessel so she killed or captured the adults on the Empyrean and abducted the teens. Waverly Marshall led the kidnapped as they escaped their incarceration. She feels guilt over what she did to free herself and the other girls, while the parents were left behind (see Glow).

Meanwhile the irate younger girls hold Waverly culpable failing to save their parents. Kieran, who became the ship's leader, pushes unity as he constantly gives oratories encouraging teaming while hiding his fears about his own power as he leads with an iron fist. His imprisoned rival for captain and Waverly, Seth escapes from the brig only to uncover a shocking realism that the Empyrean is in deep trouble.

The second Sky Chasers young adult outer space thriller is a fabulous fast-paced science fiction. The storyline is character driven by the three prime teens, but ably supported by a strong cast who look deep into the impact of a trauma as many show signs of PTSD and the justification of violence and torture while comparing management philosophies. Spark is an intelligent taut teen tale.

Dream Lake
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250008299, $14.99

The ghost cannot remember anything as he is stuck inside a lake house that has no occupants until Sam Nolan buys the property. Over the next two years Sam with help from friends, his work crew and his brother Mark fix up the place. Sam's other brother Alex arrives at the house. The ghost sings a song; Alex hums it. Stunned the ghost says he is here and Alex sees him. Alex leaves and the ghost goes with him.

Over the next two years, the ghost detests Alex but cannot leave the alcoholic who still has sex with his ex-wife though she plans to sell his house. Sam introduces Zoe Hoffman to Alex. He is attracted to her but acts surly and avoids her. Zoe's marriage to Chris ended when he left her for a man. Her father remains distant from her and her beloved grandma Emma suffers from dementia; her mother left them years ago. She plans to have Emma live with her in the cottage that her cousin is fixing up for them using Alex as the contractor. The ghost tells Alex to get rid of him; he needs to know who he is and what he did; and believes the evidence is in the attic of Sam's house.

The second Nolan Brother contemporary romance (see Rainshadow Road) is a wonderful drama starring flawed individuals. The relationship between the ghost and Alex comes across as real as does Alex's relationships with Zoe, his brothers and his ex-wife. Although Zoe comes across as the Mother Theresa of Washington State as she is too nice, fans will root for her and Alex to make it and need to know who the ghost was when he lived.

On Her Side
Beth Andrews
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373717941, $5.50,

With the long buried remains of their mother Valerie recently found, the three Sullivan sisters want justice though Layne the cop knows not all cases are solved (see Unraveling the Past). Though her sister attorney Nora feels good that her mom did not run away eighteen years ago as everyone believed, she obsesses over finding the prime suspect Dale York.

To do so she feels the only lead is in confronting York's adult son Griffin, but Layne says she and her boss Ross already questioned him and his mom; both insist they have no idea where the scum is; nor do they care as long as the abuser stays out of their lives as Dale has for almost two decades. Soon after Nora challenges Griffin, Dale arrives in Mystic Point and quickly threatens the Sullivan sister to back off or else. No longer the frightened child who remains even today traumatized for failing to protect his mom or his brother Tanner from his psychopath dad, Griffin vows to keep Nora and his mother safe.

The second Truth About The Sullivans romantic suspense is a fast-paced gripping thriller. The two protagonists, though falling in love, have a seemingly insurmountable shared tragic past that prevents a permanent relationship from forming unless each moves pass the trauma. Readers will enjoy this tale while looking forward to the conclusion starring the last Sullivan sibling Tori.

Within Reach
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717958, $5.50

Single Angela Bartlett visits her BFF Billie Young, a mother of small children (Charlie and Eva), to wish her friend a happy thirty-second birthday. Suddenly in a shallow voice, Billie complains her chest hurts before falling unconscious on the kitchen floor. Billie dies from a previously undetected congenital heart defect.

Billie's depressed husband Michael takes a one year leave of absence to help him and his children move passed their grief. Ten months after watching her friend die, Angela worries that neither Michael nor the kids are healing so she decides an intervention is in order. However, the two adults are appalled by their attraction that causes each feelings of survivor guilt over dissing the memory of their beloved Billie.

This is a tender second chance at life family drama that starts with the tragic death of a beloved mom and follows with the aftermath lack of adjustments by those she left behind. Character driven, readers will appreciate Sarah Mayberry's strong contemporary as the Nazareth song is right that "Love hurts, love scars, love wounds ...", but as Michael learns love lives.

Out of Depths
Pamela Hearon
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717996, $5.50

In Kentucky, Marshall County Sheriff Blaine calls Paducah-based attorney Chance Brennan to inform him five more kids were found exploring the cave on the latter's lakefront property. Chance tells the sheriff he will look around tomorrow when he gets to Kentucky Lake while his perfectionist dad demands he finish his briefs and date Denise Macomb.

Chance's former girlfriend Kyndal Rawlings had become a good nature photographer until she became black-listed six months ago because of Mike Sloan's stupidly that killed the True Tennessee website. Mike tells her that the state commissioned Charlie Short to start a quarterly tourism magazine; Charlie wants photos of the less known smaller caves; she knows of only one. Blaine catches Kyndal trespassing and arrests her. Chance arrives at the station. She tells him that she found a vug room of crystals in his cave. They go to the cave together where they first made love and end up making love again. She becomes pregnant and he proposes in spite of knowing she is bad for his aspirations of the bench by forty. She rejects his offer as he burned her once before when he dumped her for his Ivy education and partnership with his dad.

The key to this engaging second chance at love romance is the abuse of power by those with influence against those with none. The lead couple has flaws as he tries to please his dad by being perfect like his late brother Hank was and she is a clinger who smothers her loved ones. Their chance at a permanent relationship is zero as his father will do anything to keep his surviving son from the unacceptable photographer even if he never meets his grandchild.

Dragon Justice
Laura Anne Gilman
9780373803484, $14.95

PUPI (Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations) investigator Bonnie Torres is exhausted from too much work and too little rest as she and others bring justice to those who commit crimes with magic as the means. After informing his partner Ian Strosser, Bonnie's boss Benjamin Venec invites Bonnie to join him in Philadelphia for a few R&R days while they explore their magical "Merge".

However, their time off including their deep look at their bond ends before it begins when the cops ask them to look into two odd homicides. The pair soon realize they are dealing with diabolical serial killing paranormal practitioners whose murders span decades. The rest of PUPI join them as they hunt for killers using magic as a deadly weapon before someone else dies.

The latest PUPI PSI (paranormal scene investigation) urban fantasy (see Tricks of the Trade and Pack of Lies) is a magical mystery tour of Philadelphia in the land of the Gilman mythos. The engaging storyline focuses on the changing relationship between the Merge pair though the serial killings soon supersede the destined inevitable.

Fallen Angel
Eden Bradley
Harlequin HQN
9780373777174, $7.99

On the beach in Mendocino, Declan the forest ranger and his dog Liam walk as they do every morning so he can clear his head and prepare to deal with people; something he hates as he has become a recluse. He hears a loud thump just behind him; when he turns around he sees a battered naked woman covered in blood and tattoos, and a leg at an impossible angle. Though he wonders where she could have come from he calls 911.

Feeling obsessed and definitely out of character, Declan visits Jane Doe at the hospital. She informs Declan that she has no name, only knows of Asmodeus and The Grandmother who raised her, and has no concept of what a hospital is. He calls her his Angel and takes her home with him to teach her to survive a cruel world. She fears her mentor will come for her to finish the job for her failing at the gift of seduction that he trained her for and he will also hurt her current benefactor.

This is a fascinating romantic urban fantasy starring an intriguing female lead; Declan's issues with his father and others seem minor compared to Angel's hellish existence. Fast-paced from the moment Angel seems to have fallen from the sky, fans will enjoy this drama but a deeper look into the heroine's state of mind after rejection and abandonment by those who she believed love her and whom she loved would have intensified the storyline. Still with a twisting climax, readers will want to know where Angel fell from "grace" onto the beach near the sea.

Seduced By Blood
Laurie London
Harlequin HQN
9780373776696, $7.99

In British Columbia Guardian regional Commander Tristan Santiago (see Bonded In Blood) is impressed by a friend of Lily Degraff (see Embraced by Blood) tracker Roxanne Reynolds when she took out two Darkbloods with no weapon of her own to rescue a sweetblood human. Reluctantly he knows he needs her unique skill to uncover the traitor who has betrayed him and his unit. The Darkbloods know more than they should without an informant giving them information.

Roxy agrees to pose as Tristan's lover while they internally investigate his team. Both are appalled by their attraction to each other and secretly vow to his or herself not to act on these undesirable desires though since he cannot read her he hopes she is the one to prevent him from turning into a Darkblood. As they close in on the mole, a lost Guardian blade that vanished when Roxy's lover died several years ago resurfaces.

The latest Sweetblood romantic urban fantasy (see Tempted by Blood) is an entertaining tale starring two obstinate lead characters used to getting their own way until now as they butt heads. Similar in tone to Christine Feehan's Carpathian tales, fans will relish this Pacific Northwest vampire thriller.

Circle of Silence
Carol M. Tanzman
Harlequin Teen
9780373210626, $9.99

Washington Irving High School senior Valerie Gaines has worked hard over the past two years to become Campus News producer. Advisor Mr. Carleton broke the group into two teams and Valerie has hers ready. Her BFF Sunny Marcy says she is a shoo-in, but Valerie knows Raul Ortega is tough competition. However, her former boyfriend Jaggar Voorham joins her squad to Valerie's chagrin.

Valerie and her team investigate pranks at Washington Irving by someone using the nom de plume MP. However, what started as harmless begins to grow in intensity and danger with each new stunt. MP warns them to back off or else a student trying to join the team is injured. Fearing for her undercover operative, Valarie leads her team into ferreting out MP before someone is severely hurt or killed.

Circle of Silence is an exciting young adult investigative thriller starring a strong cast. The obsessive heroine wants the story desperately until she realizes her fixation could harm members of her dedicated crew who she now considers friends. Her relationship with Jaggar enhances a terrific high school age amateur sleuth as Valerie makes for a thrilling storyline.

Pushing The Limits
Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen
9780373210497, $17.99

Overnight Eastwick High School student Echo Emerson went from the in-crowd to social outcast due to the scars that appear on her arm that she has no idea how she got them. Everyone avoids cigarette smoking bad guy Noah Hutchins who insures no one comes close to him as he has one objective to obtain custody of his younger brothers (Tyler and Jacob) on his soon to be eighteenth birthday.

Eastwick High School clinical social worker Mrs. Collins tries to help both troubled teens who reject her efforts, but she rejects their rejection. That commonality has Echo and Noah comparing notes with each realizing they are attracted to one another and have more secrets than the Pentagon. Each knows love comes at a bad time, but both need to feel wanted.

Rotating perspective between the two troubled students, Katie McGarry provides an engaging teen tale. The protagonists seem real as they struggle with numbing tsuris but soon have each other's back (and heart). Fans will want to know how Echo was scarred and whether Joe and Carrie who have custody of the boys are the devil as Noah believes. This is a deep character driven drama.

Big Sky Mountain
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN
9780373776610, $7.99

In Parable, Montana, as here Comes The Bride plays in the background Brylee Parrish escorted by her brother Walker walks down the aisle towards her waiting fiance Hutch Carmody when the groom abruptly stops the ceremony. His half-brother Slade Barlow and the best man Boone Taylor (see Big Sky Country) escorts Hutch back to their Whisper Creek Ranch before he makes matters worse.

Kendra Shepherd has just returned to Big Sky Country after spending time in England fulfilling her former husband Jeffrey's death bed vow of finding and adopting his four years old daughter Madison. Her BFFs pregnant Jocelyn Taylor and Jocelyn Barlow welcome her and her adopted toddler home. Kendra once was attracted to Hutch and knows she still is; however, Madison comes before she allows her heart to be broken by the rancher. Hutch jilted Brylee because he knew his heart belongs to Kendra; his actions sent her to Jeffrey. Feeling fate is on his side he plans to regain the trust of the mom and the love of the daughter as he wants both as his family.

The second Big Sky contemporary romance is an engaging second chance at love tale. The lead male has matured quite a bit from his early antics in Big Sky Country as shown by how well he treats his "Shortstop". Although Madison adjusts too easily to her "mommy" and more (though love and acceptance helps her after being isolated with efficient nannies), fans will enjoy this warm Montana romance.

All Summer Long
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN
9780373776948, $7.99

His looks enabled him to be a successful underwear model, but Clay Stryker wants to make it due to his intelligence. Everyone including his family assumes he is shallow except in the underwear region though he has been successful in business. He returns to Fool's Gold, California with plans to start a ranch.

Firefighter Chantal "Charlie" Dixon knows her mother the graceful ballerina has always been disappointed in her tomboyish offspring. She is like everyone else who assumes Clay has no depth outside his underwear. Thus when Clay volunteers as a firefighter, a surprised Charlie revises her opinion of him. They are attracted to one another, but he lost a loved one before and fears commitment of his soul; while she was assaulted at college and fears the intimate touch of the heart.

With a tender amusing gender bending look at don't judge a book by its cover, fans will enjoy this Summer's Fool's Gold romance (see Summer Nights and Summer Days). Besides the shallow first impressions that hurt each of them, the lead couple carry emotional baggage that they must overcome if they are to catch rather than run away from "the bright elusive butterfly of love" (Bob Lind).

That Thing Called Love
Susan Andersen
Harlequin HQN
9780373776917, $7.99

In Razor Bay, Washington, the deaths of his grandparents Kathy and Emmett Pierce leaves thirteen year old Austin in the temporary care of his adopted older "sister" Jenny Salazar while the attorney contacts the lad's biological father Jake Bradshaw, who when the lad's mother died during childbirth, he left his baby behind.

Now an international photographer, following a National Geographic shoot, Jake returns home to take his teenage son back with him to live in Manhattan. However Austin wants nothing to do with the man who deserted him as a newborn and Jenny distrusts the globetrotter has any relationship staying power (outside the bed). As Jake tries to prove to his doubting son and the kid's fierce petit protector that he is not the same SOB who fled the Pacific Northwest, he knows he wants both in his life permanently.

This is a warm second chance family drama starring a man who needs to rectify the error of his youth though encouraged to take a rare opportunity to do so by his in-laws. His rationalization of why he stayed away comes crashing down when his heart fills with regret upon meeting his son. Although the storyline is thin and goes as expected even with his refrain of I'm Not In Love" (10Cc), fans will appreciate this engaging tale as Jake learns love comes in different packages.

Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN
9780373776924, $7.99

In 1794 in Paris, British spy Simon Grenville waits in La Prison de la Luxembourg for his date with Madam Guillotine. When his French captors offer him a deal of giving them key information in exchange for his safe passage across the Channel, he accepts.

At St. Just Manor in Cornwall Lady Grenville dies in childbirth. She leaves behind three young children (Lord William, Master John and the unnamed newborn). Their impoverished neighbor, Amelia Greystone, who loved Simon yen years ago, helps with the grieving sons. Simon arrives in time to bury his estrange wife knowing the girl is not his. He asks her to serves as his housekeeper in London, which she accepts as she needs the money and cares for the children. As they fall in love again, he hesitates because his espionage life as an English agent and a French double agent leaves anyone he loves in peril not from Warlock but from Lafleur.

The second Greystone Spymasters Men regency espionage romance (see Seduction) is an exciting second chance at love historical if the beleaguered lead male can extract himself from spying though he knows the French will use his kids as pawns to make him behave. The engaging late eighteenth century tale is character driven by Simon as he considers himself craven for his betrayal of his country and his love a decade ago. Thus, he makes the entertaining storyline fresh as he feels trapped between a rock and a hard place with his loved ones in danger because of his "cowardly" actions.

Forever a Lady
Delilah Marvelle
Harlequin HQN
9780373776467, $7.99

In 1822 in New York, bookkeeper Richard Rawson embezzled a fortune from the Milton newspaper. He spent it all on gambling and whoring before fleeing town; however, his horse misstep while still in Manhattan and fittingly he broke his neck. He left behind a financially and emotionally broke father who fears for his son Matthew's future as an ostracized fallen one.

By 1830, no longer possessing a silver spoon, Matthew has lived in the Five Points slums as a vigilante and a thief of sorts. He has to go to London where he meets Lady Bernadette Marie. The widow plans to do what she wants to do including a tryst with an unacceptable American as she does not care what the Ton thinks. She is attracted to Matthew, who flaunts society as a rule-breaker. As they fall in love, she offers him a chance to climb out of poverty and violence if he accepts her belief that he is worthy of her.

The key to this wonderful historical romance is the vivid violent description of life in an 1830 slum in which Les Miserables perform Jean Valjean-like illegal deeds. The romance is top rate as she becomes his inspiration to better himself while she sees him as a first chance at life. Readers will root for this couple to make it Delilah Marvelle marvelously writes a strong nineteenth century tale (see Forever and a Day).

The Covert Wolf
Bonnie Vanak
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885510, $5.50

The mission of SEAL Team 21 top secret Phoenix Force is a counterterrorism ghost squad. This elite cell battle enemy paranormals. In Afghanistan, pyrokinetic demons abetted by the fae attack the team. Chief Petty Officer Adam "Wildcat" Barstow, a jaguar-shifter dies in the battle. His BFF SEAL Lieutenant Matthew "Dakota" Parker the Draicon werewolf rages at what happened including his failed attempt to rescue his buddy; making it worse is there is no body or even ashes to bring home to bury with honor.

On a train from Brooklyn to Times Square, lonely Dakota senses another paranormal. He wonders who hurt her making her frightened and filling her eyes with tears. Fae-Draicon hybrid (though she hides the werewolf side) Sienna McClare senses a werewolf, which adds to her fears as a beast like the one on the train raped and killed her purebred fae mother. She rides the mortal box underground to retrieve the stolen Orb of Light taken from her fae colony by most likely a Draicon. When they meet she tells Lassie to go home. However, to the chagrin of both, her aunt and his superior officer assign Sienna and Dakota to team up to find the Orb.

This is a great urban fantasy romantic suspense that grips the audience starting with the firefight in Helmond Province and what happens in the States as Bonnie Vanak makes her fae, Draicon and demons seem real like riding the subway. Fast-paced, the romance enhances the thriller as Sienna loathes being attracted to the same specie who raped and killed her mom. Dakota recognizes two missions: first retrieving the orb and taking down the pyrokinetic demons and second persuading his beloved to take a chance on love.

Sentinels: Tiger Bound
Doranna Durgin
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885527, $5.50

Sentinel Brevis Southwest Consul Nick Carter sends still injured were- tiger Maks Altan to protect were- Chinese water deer Katie Rae Maddox from the Atrum Core as she investigates evil activity in the area. Besides shifting and a belief like all Sentinels that they live to protect humanity from the evil Atrum Core, they are total opposites as he rips skins and she heals skin. Still he suffers from injuries that occurred even before last month's Atrum Core assault, but vows to keep her safe.

However, an incident with vicious Roger Atkins and his two dogs has Maks reassessing his partner. The mission proves personal for Maks when they conclude they battle an Atrum Core magician who once held him prisoner when he was a child; the same monster who plans to suck out his life force and steal the healer he loves.

The latest Sentinels urban fantasy romance (see Jaguar Night and Wolf Hunt) is a strong tale as the heroine lacks confidence in her skills so feels unworthy of being a Sentinel, the hero struggles from injuries, and the vile villain is a deadly shadow. The lead protagonists make the storyline fun as they must overcome their fears and doubts in their abilities and their love to defeat a ferocious fiendish foe.

Riley's Baby Boy
Karen Rose Smith
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373656875, $5.25

In Miner's Bluff, Brenna McDougall arrives at Riley O'Rourke's place holding a six week old baby. She tells him the infant is his. Filled with doubts, the former marine asks his high school sweetheart why she failed to tell him she was pregnant. She replies complications with her life as a designer in New York, with doubts on how he would react, and with what she wanted to do. Riley knows that the old times' sake fling at their high school reunion would have been when she conceived. He questions paternity and she answers that she has not slept with anyone for a long time, but test the DNA of Derek. Her parents do not know they are grandparents.

Neither trusts the other and their offspring senses the tension. Additionally the grandchild reignites the feud between their respective families. Brenna knows she needs to flee for New York with a broken heart (again), but instead of just designs she will have her beloved Derek to help ease the pain.

The latest Reunion Brides (see Once Upon A Groom, and His Daughter...Their Child) second chance at love is a warm romance starring two protagonists with a history, a strong secondary cast mostly family, and a matchmaking baby. Brenna's decisions re her pregnancy and Derek's birth at first seem inane, but as the enjoyable storyline unfolds, readers will understand her real motive is a fear of rejection for her baby by those who she loves. Karen Rose Smith provides another deep entertaining contemporary.

A Cowboy's Duty
Marin Thomas
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754182, $5.25

Thanks to the sponsorship of her friend Shannon Douglas, Dixie Cash becomes a bronc-rider at rodeo competitions. She plans to use the money to launch an on-line business selling homemade organic bath soaps. At the Boot Hill Rodeo in Boot Hill, Arizona, Dixie meets Afghan veteran contestant Gavin Tucker when she lands at his feet after a bronco tosses her. They share a night of lovemaking.

Dixie becomes pregnant. Gavin swears he will be there for her and their baby, but will not marry her. Dixie never expected he would make them into a family as she knows firsthand dads leave. As he is always around her, they fall in love; but when a tragedy strikes and she most needs him he proves to be just like her father and leaves.

The latest Rodeo Rebels drama (see Arizona Cowboy) is an entertaining contemporary starring two fully developed protagonists whose flaws seem real especially when an emotional crisis occurs that shows love is not enough. Fans will enjoy this heart-wrenching poignant drama.

Honorable Rancher
Barbara White Daille
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754205, $5.25

In Flagman's Folly, New Mexico Paul Wright asks his best friend Ben Sawyer to watch over his wife and their children while he served in the military overseas. One year ago, Paul died and ever since Ben has been there for the widow and her dependents.

Dana tries to limit her dependency on anyone. She also hides from everyone that just before Paul died, she and he had agreed to a divorce as she wants their kids to think of their dad as a hero; just like everyone of Flagman's Folly does. However, when Dana and Ben share a night that he has dreamed of since kindergarten, they begin to dream of much more, but the children come first.

This engaging Land of Enchantment ranch romance is a warm second chance to love starring two engaging lead characters as she wants the memory of Paul kept revered while he wants her. The theme has been used a zillion times, but the eccentric support cast brings freshness to the madcap storyline.

Nancy Holzner
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781937007706, $7.99,

In Boston's Deadtown, Victory Vaughn wonders whether her successful demon-slaying operation has put her out of business as the demonic population is dwindling rapidly. While searching for a stolen ancient Celtic cauldron taken from the Peabody Museum, Vicky also looks into the disappearing demon horde.

The dragon slayer soon finds evidence that her demi-demon cousin Pryce is behind the snatch and the vanishing, which means he seeks to regain the demon shadow abilities that Vicky removed from him. However, she remains ignorant to the fact that Pryce has an ally also with an ax to grind preferably in Vicky's head.

The latest Deadtown urban fantasy (see Bloodstone and Hellforged) is a terrific entry that continues to build on the rights of minorities vs. the security of fearful majorities. The storyline is fast-paced as obstinate Vicky battles her cousin and a more dangerous adversary with a no retreat manta. Readers will appreciate the latest tour of the Deadtown ghetto as the demon exterminator follows the clues unaware if she continues on this path leads to her extinction.

Bared Blade
Kelly McCullough
9781937007676, $7.99

In Tien, Zhan Aral Kingslayer sits in his office in the Gryphon's Head Tavern with his best (and only) friend and secret partner Triss the shade in his shadow, musing how far he fell when his Goddess of Justice and the Downtrodden Namara was assassinated. He was a Blade of Namara delivering justice to affluent and impoverished alike. Now he earns a living as a jack of all shadow trades to clients beyond the fringe of society which is a step up from where he was one year ago when he became a Broken Blade with a price on his head.

Two women enter the tavern; one is very tall and muscular while other a lithe dancer. When Cobble Runner Shadow Lieutenant Boguin offers money to do both of them, Triss, acting out of character, insists Aral intervene, which he reluctantly does as he tells the officer they are with him. Stel and Vala order Aral to leave them alone. Almost immediately afterward, a magical assault hammers the Gryphon's Blade. The four survive though bystanders and assassins do not. Attracted to Vala who reminds him of his former fiancee Jax, Aral and his Shade find themselves in the crosshairs of a battle for an artifact.

The second Fallen Blade fantasy stars an interesting hero with an irreverent, self-deprecating attitude as he no longer has a purpose to live. Ironically, Aral and Triss struggle to help the extremely competent females who come to their aid as often if not more than they do for them. Fans will appreciate the magnificent McCullough mythos as the BFFs learn the mantra the road to Shadowside is paved with good intentions.

Heaven's War
David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
9780441020928, $25.95

The Near Earth Object heads towards the sun. Astronomers believe this NEO called Keanu is an asteroid. America sends Destiny 7 and the Bangalore Group (Russia, India and Brazil) deploy Brahma. Each of the rival manned spacecraft land on the projectile, but instead of a rock or gases as expected, they find the object is an ancient space ship. Their arrivals activate the dormant machines (see Heaven's Shadow).

Keanu's Architects need mankind's help to solve a major problem. However, Destiny 7 Commander Zack Stewart, marooned on Keanu with a few others, fails. Instead the Architects abduct selected members of the Houston Group headquarters and the Bangalore headquarters in India. These newly marooned earthlings must quickly adapt to a Keanu's deadly environment while those who died like astronaut Yvonne Hall have returned as Revenants who can make mental contact with the Architects. Complicating the confusion is the arrival of the Prisoner, who escaped from the Architects after centuries of incarceration while the Keanu appears ready to leave the solar system with the earthlings on board.

The second Heaven's Shadow science fiction tale is a faster than the speed of light thriller that targets readers who prefer action to the nth degree. None of the cast is fully developed beyond diversity stereotypes, but those fans who appreciate an exhilarating outer space adventure tale that never stops to allow readers a breathe will enjoy Heaven's War as time runs out for the stranded who must find a way to control the Keanu or leave the solar system forever.

King of Thorns
Mark Lawrence
9781937007478, $25.95

Nine years ago, Count Renar's soldiers murdered his mother and his brother while hanging Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath on briar patch thorns to watch them die. Raging with vengeance and an obsession to one day take back his family's throne from his traitorous uncle and from there the empire by the time he turns twenty, Jorg achieves his first objective five years after the betrayal (see Prince of Thorns).

Now eighteen King Jorg's rage remains strong on his wedding day to Princess Miana. Jorg's has made many enemies due to the atrocities he committed over the decade. These include the woman he loves and his maternal Aunt Katherine ap Scorron; the Prince of Arrows, the only person he fears, leads his adversaries with a force much stronger than his. Still Jorg's hope lies with weapons that the masses would say are magic but he believes are man-made artifacts from the ancients he found in the bowels of his castle.

The second brilliant Broken Empire dark gritty fantasy shows how much the obsessed protagonist has matured deploying smarter tactics, but remains steadfast fueled by his anger in his pursuit of becoming the emperor; the child of thorns is the adult still feeling those thorns. Rotating perspective between his wedding day and four years ago when he took the throne from his uncle with extracts from Aunt Katherine's journal, fans obtain a complete picture of a man who has no remorse over the means he uses to accomplish his end. Action-packed throughout with a surprising spin, Mark Lawrence's thriller is excellent because of the insightful look into the dead soul of a man whose bloodless heart is filled with intense ire.

Gunmetal Magic
Ilona Andrews
9780425256138, $7.99

"Gunmetal Magic". Her BFF Kate Daniels lost an apartment when her Aunt Erra devastated Atlanta; however shapeshifting Andrea Nash lost a lifestyle. Though she pretended to be a purebred human, Andrea lost her position (and her reason for being) at the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid; and her lover Bouda clan alpha Raphael Medrano ended their relationship. Despondent and feeling unanchored; Andrea knows she can count on Kate being there for her. Kate asks Andrea to join Cutting Edge Investigations. Andrea first investigation involves the suspicious deaths of Bouda shapeshifters at a dig owned by Raphael. She and her ex accompanied by his fiancee Rebecca work the case that leads to a secret Atlanta underground.

"Magic Gifts". In Atlanta Curran the Beast King and his "consort" Kate Daniels go out to eat when a People vampire navigator dies strangled by a gold necklace while a mother places her child in a perilous situation. The dinner date ruined Curran and Kate team up with Ghastek trying to recue the boy before the gold necklace kills the child.

The "Magic Gifts" entry is a bonus novella that is fun to read as the appetizer is vampires, shapeshifters, and Vikings, oh my! The prime novel Gunmetal Magic focuses on the relationship between Andrea and Raphael as they dysfunctionally work together on a shapeshifter serial killer case. This provides a different perspective on the Atlanta paranormal community than the Kate Daniels' urban fantasies as noted by the placement of Magic in the title. Fans will appreciate this sidebar tale and hope for more just like this one.

Judgment Call
J.A. Jance
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061731167, $25.95,

In Bisbee, fifteen years old Jenny Brady finds the body of high school Principal Debra Highsmith in the desert close to her family home. Jenny immediately calls her mom Joanna, the Cochise County, Arizona sheriff, who drops everything and rides her horse out to the crime scene. Someone shot the reclusive principal who kept her distance from everyone.

A second homicide soon follows. As Brady leads the investigation, someone is leaking information on Facebook about the crimes; including a damaging photo that only Jenny could have taken. Besides suspecting her daughter as the leak, Joanna believes Jenny conceals something critical to the case. As she digs deeper and finds a threatening video, Joanna begins to uncover secrets the prim and proper late principal hid for years.

The latest sheriff Brady police procedural (see Fire and Ice) is a superb entry as the heroine struggles to balance her job with her daughter's needs. The investigation is top rate and enhanced by the social media intruding on the case. Additionally, longtime fans will appreciate the ties to a murder case that has remained cold in the background of the series as J.A. Jance provides a great whodunit.

Crackpot Palace
Jeffrey Ford
9780062122599, $14.99

These are twenty exciting speculative short stories with eighteen included in other publications since 2008; one from the 1990s ("Every Richie There Is") and one entry never published before ("The Wish Head"). In "The Dream of Reason" the scientist is losing his mind as he obsesses over proving his theory that the distant stars are diamond lights. The flock who attend this church are of a different breed in "Relic". Those who know of "86 Deathdick Road" know they know nothing of dreams or nightmares and what they symbolize as hallucinatory illusions. Desperate and broke they decide to poach the translucent "Glass Eels" that sell for a $1000 a pound. "Down Atsion Road" in New Jersey the urban legend Crackpop allegedly lives in the Pine Barrens while protected from the Garden State demons by a moat and something else; just ask Ginny Sanger who nobody claims they ever heard of. Ranging from fantasy ("The Coral Heart") to science fiction ("Daltharee") and horror ("After Moreau") readers will appreciate this super anthology; summed up nicely by Hippopotamus Man when he tells us the truth as to what came down on Moreau's island to those like Dog Girl from the Bronx.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Death of Santa Claus And Other Stories
Carol Adler
Dandelion Books
1960 W. Keating Ave., Ste. 236, Mesa AZ 85202
9781934280997, $16.95,

What do Santa Claus, pregnancy, the Holocaust, poetry contests, and train stations have in common? Each of these topics and many more come alive through Ms. Adler's agile prose. Each of the eleven short stories here was born from memories or imaginings, and each has its own unique power to shock, amuse, enlighten, or inspire readers.

"The Death of Santa Claus" revisits youthful fears and misconceptions. The same year that Santa disappears, ashes coat the writer's memories like the ashes spewed from ovens in Hitler's Europe.

"Covenant" is a humorous discourse. Learning about Jewish cooking, Jewish suffering through the ages, and the Holocaust in confirmation classes is not Sarah's idea of fun, so she livens up the learning process by asking the Rabbi about circumcision.

"Exegesis" features a motley gang of pushy, overbearing relatives and offers up a sweet serving of justice.

In "The Puzzle", a bratty wunderkind and a patient, hard-working father outfox and outlast an alcoholic uncle.

"Minhag" (tradition.) Traditions often have odd inceptions that defy explanation.

"Yom Kippur" is one of my sentimental favorites because it's so beautifully rendered. In it, a clever, bright, disciplined woman is too ill to spend a day of joy with her husband.

"The House With the Blue Door" is a rich fantasy. Or is it reality?

"Ingenue" is more truth than fiction. Everybody wants to be a world famous writer. A successful author's quiet, organized life is in chaotic shambles after meeting an old roommate who decides to be a writer.

"The Train" is an enigmatic, metaphorical tale that kept me guessing throughout? Was it real or a hallucination?

"Therefore I Am" is a tongue-in-cheek tale about a poet who submits a blank manuscript to a poetry contest and wins. (Anyone who ever wrote anything for submission will understand and appreciate the irony.)

"Possible Plots" considers several scenarios involving pregnancy, newborns, joys, sorrows, and miracles.

I've deliberately provided only the barest tidbits of each story in hopes of enticing readers to explore this book in greater detail. Each story has a unique personality with layers of delicious revelations to be savored. The characters and plots are exceptional. If you are a reader who wants your mind and imagination to be nourished by the words you read, this book of short stories is highly recommended.

Inescapable: Book One of Road to Kingdom
Nancy Mehl
Bethany House Publishing
11400 Hampshire Ave. South, Bloomington MN 55438
9780764209277, $14.99,

I received a copy of this first book in Nancy Mehl's latest series just in time for my birthday, and what a delightful gift it was! I eagerly anticipate each new series and book by Ms. Mehl because they never disappoint. This series is located in a tiny Mennonite village in Kansas. I enjoy books where the locale and weather play significant parts in the plot, and no one does this better than Nancy Mehl.

Lizzie Engel's faith has been shattered, along with her hopes and dreams. Lizzie is the "fallen" daughter of a stern Mennonite elder, pregnant out of wedlock and the mother of a six-year-old daughter as the story begins. Years before, when Charity was a baby, Lizzie escaped the scandal by running from her hometown in Kingdom to make a new start in Kansas City. Nothing has gone well for her since. She and Charity live in near-poverty in a drab apartment. The job Lizzie loves is lost when she's framed for a crime she didn't commit. She's being stalked by stranger and receiving frightening threats by mail. With no job, no money, and no options, Lizzie runs away again - back to Kingdom and her Mennonite heritage. Her father's response is harsh and less than welcoming. When the owner of Opal's Cafe offers a job and an apartment above the cafe, Lizzie reluctantly accepts. Much has changed in the Mennonite community in Lizzie's absence. The townfolk didn't judge her as harshly and her friends did not turn their backs on her as she imagined they had. Lizzie and Charity are warmly welcomed. Is it possible that God did not reject Lizzie like her earthly father did?

Life in Kingdom is cozy and satisfying. Slowly, Lizzie begins to relax and regain her faith in God and man. She renews her lifelong friendship with Noah Housler, a Mennonite man Charity says looks just like Prince Charming. And Charity's father, Clay Troyer, returns to apologize for abandoning the pregnant Lizzie and their child. Lizzie's mother seeks a warm relationship with her daughter and granddaughter despite her husband's objections. Life seems hopeful, until Lizzie's stalker comes to Kingdom and threatens the lives of everyone she cares about.

The greatest strengths in any Nancy Mehl book are writing style and plot, the endearing characters, and the simple faith by which they live. Whatever dangers befall Ms. Mehl's characters, readers know God is in charge and prayers are heard. Her books make me feel safe, comforted, and loved by a kindly God. They remind me how blessed I am to have loving friends and family in my life. Her books are memorable because the stories are well-written, the characters realistic, and the message positive. Highly recommended.

Family Fortunes
Michelle Mairesse
Dandelion Books
1960 W. Keating Ave Ste 236, Mesa AZ 85202
9780986014529, BOO8HA1WCA, $9.99

How long has it been since you eagerly devoured a book in one sitting because the characters and era were so compelling? For me, Family Fortunes was such a book. And the author's descriptive writing style brought each nuance of the locations, characters, and plot to vibrant life.

The story begins in San Francisco, circa 1905 with the Allister family. Col. Andrew Allister is the powerful patriarch and head of a respected law firm. His son Will dallies at being a partner in the firm, but focuses most of his energy on legal secretary and paramour, Vera Venturi, despite being engaged to marry the wealthy, beautiful Marjorie Huckfeldt. Jenny Allister is strong and sensible but inexperienced when it comes to men. Jenny is mesmerized by Paul de la Tour, a handsome titled Frenchman who cruelly rapes her. The plot and characters quickly thicken to a rich stew as the Allisters clash with the Huckfeldt, and de la Tour families. Marjorie breaks her engagement to Will and focuses her affections on Paul de la Tour. The battle is on, and the Huckfeldts and de la Tours intend to win by any underhanded means at their disposal.

Andrew Allister arranges a marriage of convenience between the pregnant Jenny and Frank Venturi. Frank is Vera Venturi's brother, moving west from New York because he's ill with consumption. Jenny and Frank move to Oak Hills, the Allister family winery in Napa. Jenny is a born vintner and excels at managing the winery, caring for her son and looking after Frank, while Frank broods and works at making her life difficult. Jenny's troubles are compounded when the San Francisco earthquake topples homes, businesses, family fortunes, and the city. Her parents die in the earthquake and Will's mind and spirit are broken. A neighboring vintner, John Braga, offers to buy Oak Hill, or help Jenny in any way he can as she fights to hold on to the Allister winery.

What each character dishes out to others comes back to them in the form of good or bad karma. I relished seeing the evil punished and the good rewarded, but the beauty of this story is how the author takes readers from beginning to end with exceptional skill as a wordsmith. If you enjoy well-written fiction of any genre, this one is highly recommended.

President of the World
Norman D. Livergood
Dandelion Books
1960 W. Keating Ave. Ste. 236, Mesa AZ 85202
9781934280973, BOO8ADPY2S, $9.99

Dr. Livergood's latest book is a shocker. Yes, it's fiction, but fiction that addresses many of the concerns we see around us in the world today:

Crooked politicians and bankers;
The proliferation of illegal drugs;
Manipulation of the Federal Reserve System;
Increasing violence in TV, movies, video games, and in the real world;
Scandals and suspicious deaths in high places;
A failing education system;
A failing economy world-wide.

Ben Emerson is a man on a quest. He has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and is a gifted profiler. Ben wants answers about why the world is so chaotic. He wonders why voters haven't ousted the current crop of politicians, why they accept political sins of omission and commission like sheep? He seeks enlightenment through a Dr. Cartright who contends that religion is the fossilized remains of a genuine tradition, an ancient belief system called The Perennial Tradition. His search takes him to the picturesque California wine country and Cartright's compound.

Emerson's search for understanding turns ugly when his mother is disgraced and fired as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. How could this happen to an honest woman who has always been faithfully devoted to her country? His investigation of her downfall introduces Emerson to Dr. Lyman Gorgon. Gorgon has managed successful campaigns for politicians who should never have been elected. He's a master of manipulating the masses through TV advertisements that overtly smack of mind control. Gorgon has developed The Medusa Project. His ultimate goals are:

programming the minds of school children starting in first grade;
turning American minds to figurative stone through TV and movie messages and images;
destroying what's left of the country's moral underpinning;
and revising the U.S. constitution to suit his goals.

To do this, he and his minions must control all branches of government, including the President.

In hopes of finding a chink in Gorgon's armor, Emerson joins forces with Col. Frank Wilson, his ex-brother-in-law, and Tim Keplar, a skilled computer hacker. He focuses on bringing Gorgon down, while continuing his quest for enlightenment with Dr. Cartright. Cartright's path to fine tuning the universe is simple: See with your heart; stop spending time and energy worrying about world troubles; and believe that even evil forces can be bridled to benefit the ultimate good.

Will good overcome evil? Can a handful of enlightened citizens overcome a chaotic world?

This was a well-written, fascinating read. Livergood asks all the right questions and provides intriguing solutions to the world we live in today. If you're a thinking citizen of any country in the world, worried about the chaos around you, this book is highly recommended. My take is that President of the World is more truth than fiction.

The Rented Pet
Ron Singer
Piker Press
P.O. Box 254, Ripon CA 95366

Ron Singer has a long history of creating exceptional stories with few words. The Rented Pet is the latest addition to his memorable repertoire. Singer has the gift of taking everyday people, complete with weaknesses, failings, foibles and strengths, and making readers care about them.

The location is 1970s Brooklyn. Mildred Schapp is a lonely spinster who wants a friendly dog to keep her company on weekends. She decides to visit Eddie Mays at the neighborhood guard dog store, aptly named AARF. Rex is an aging, battle scarred German Shepherd that seems perfect for Ms. Schapp's needs and soon becomes her weekend companion. Through Rex's companionship and protection, "Mildred's routine became threaded with joy, a cloth of gold." Rex brightens lonely hours and inspires unexpected happiness in Mildred's dull life. Two other business owners in the neighborhood, Jerry Kaplan of Jerry's Lumber and Joe Bassano of Addeo Moving Company, are curious about the skinny woman they see passing their stores from time to time with Rex on a leash. Jerry's interest in Mildred soon turns to more than curiosity, much to Joe's amusement.

Charles Miller is a blind man in need of a Seeing Eye dog. Since Rex is trained as a companion animal for the blind, Eddie Mays asks Mildred if he can substitute Julia Caesar, a black and tan Collie-mix female as her companion. Julia is another old dog, sweet natured and loving, the ideal canine companion. Mildred loves Julia too, but keeps in touch with Rex through Charles Miller.

The beauty of this story is how two aging dogs connect and transform the lives of five solitary humans. Singer poignantly portrays the blossoming of human love, and the effect of canine devotion on both dogs and humans. If you have a Kindle reader, consider downloading this story. If not, you can read it in serial form at

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Wisdom of Stones
Brian W. Flynn, author/photography
Sea Hill Press
P.O. Box 60301, Santa Barbara, CA 93160
9781937720100, $14.95,

"The Wisdom of Stones" is a deeply inspirational little book of stunning, expressive color photo compositions of beach stones of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, perfectly wedded to a haiku-like series of poetic meditations or prayers. "The Wisdom of Stones" seems to be about an inner journey and a listening, an endless mystical process of becoming one with impressions and expressions of nature. It is a very comforting collection of stone meditations. One could easily imagine going on to create another unique series of meditations, inspired by beautiful natural surroundings. "The Wisdom of Stones" carves deep into the soul, if you allow it, perhaps similar to the mute, recorded sometimes violent interactions of water, wind, and rock. "A Stone's Prayer" is the final meditation, accompanied by a minimalist beach stones photo in black, gray, silver, and white, perhaps taken at dawn or twilight, an in between time. "Rays of the sun... warm me./ Dark of the moon... protect me from harm./ Waters of the world... cleanse me./ Tides of the oceans... guide my journey."

earth2earth I
Michael Bostwick
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456536558, $19.98,

"earth2earth I" is a searching collection of illustrated poems by Michael Bostwick that define a consciousness-raising search for meaning, responsibility, awareness, and participation in life as the divine within might direct. Linked with humor, joy, bleakness, and an aching clarity, the poems and drawings co-reflect an inner dialogue that is both tormented and inspired, cataclysmic and revealing, at war and at one with itself. Deeply religious in its underlying inspiration, "earth2earth I" takes its reader on a devotional meditation journey, only to expose the deepest divides, questions, issues, and moments of wonder imaginable. Despite its sometimes light tone, "earth2earth I" is not light reading, for there is no easy answer contained here. A deeper harvest may be gained by the discerning reader, if messages are allowed to reverberate to their fullness and finish.

Berkeley Prelude
Mark Smith-Soto
Unicorn Press
1310 Glenwood Ave., Greensboro, NC 27403
9780877759560, $12.00

"Berkeley Prelude: A Lyrical Memoir 1970-1975" has been described as "the story of two men: Mark Smith-Soto and Mark Smith-Soto." It is a collected narrative in eight parts of a man's intense memories from a vivid, chaotic period in his youth. Set in Berkeley of the 1970s, many expected divisive expressions and issues provide stimulating color and contrast, but the focus is ever on the personal, an evaluation of one's humanness, or level of participation in compassionate awareness. It could not be more vivid, or more painful to write. Many pages describe familiar memories, issues, scenes, but with no forgiving sentimentality, only a relentless questing for what? Meaning? Self awareness? the dawning of compassionate responsibility? Or even just the clarity of inter-relatedness - is no man an island? Baby boomers, gen-x-ers, college students of any age will relate to this vivid memoir of experiences. Its questions are unanswerable, its message is timeless. Who was I then, who am I now, what have I become, and was it all worthwhile? In the end the painfully precise images, the jagged edges of a soul's poetry, the intensity of the vision revisited, this becomes an answer in itself.

Domenico Scarlatti: 30 Sonatas
Mel Bay Publications Inc.
PO Box 66, Pacific, MO 63069
9780786684113 $22.99

Transcribed for the Guitar by Fabio Zanon, this fine collection of 30 harpsichord and piano sonatas by the famous Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti is respectfully and accurately transcribed and arranged for (classical) guitar by the famous guitarist Fabio Zanon. Here are many well known and favorite sonata themes (K. 11, K. 322, K. 380) and also some hidden jewels and lesser known treasures (K.394 and K.404) never before transcribed for guitar. The collection is complete with an illuminating Table of Ornaments which spells out the specific conventions for Baroque style ornamentation in the different sonatas. A challenging collection for the accomplished guitarist, "Domenico Scarlatti: 30 Sonatas" is a beautiful extension of the classical guitar repertoire for enjoyable performance.

Easy Classical Themes, Easy Piano Series
Arranged by Alexander Cole
Minstrel Press
c/o Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
Mp1102 $9.95

"Easy Classical Themes" is a collection of 46 popular classical themes arranged for easy piano for the adult or intermediate juvenile piano performer. Including versions of Beethoven's Minuet in G, Tchaikovsky's Love Theme form "Romeo and Juliet," Mendelssohn's Wedding March, Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary, and many more popular classical favorites, this collection will yield the pre-intermediate pianist the satisfaction of producing favorite melodies with more accessible arrangements. "Easy Classical Themes" is from the Minstrel Press series of collections for easy piano, which also includes "More Easy Classical Themes" arranged by Alexander Cole (MP2102, $9.95), and additional collection featuring arrangements of such favorites as Bach's "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu," and Pachelbel's "Canon in D." Both are fine collections for the early intermediate pianist performer.

The Dramatic Symphony
Robert Tallant Laudon, author
Franz Liszt Studies Series No. 12
Michael Saffle, General Editor
Pendragon Press
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576471678, $46.00,

"The Dramatic Symphony: Issues and Explorations from Berlioz to Liszt" is a far-reaching study of examples and master composers of a conflicted but mighty medium. Laudon illuminates basic controversies at the beginning with a defining of terminology of dramatic compositions which includes a wholistic circle model, including the categories of pure (absolute), programmatic (dramatic) and/or characteristic. The following chapter deals with beginning dramatic symphonies composed by Berlioz, Schubert, Reber, Kittel, Spohr, and Mendelssohn, in the season of 1839-40. This includes much fine analysis of the first dramatic symphony, Berlioz' "Romeo et Juliette," as well as a fine retracing and display of the history of music critical thought regarding the dramatic symphony. A set of three basic concepts seem to be agreed upon: First the symphony should display "a grandeur and an elevation of thought" in its use of orchestral components and action. Second, the symphony should include both action and interaction rather than stasis, described as "a kind of musical epic," often accompanied by a written guide or printed program. Third, it should be unified, based upon what Wagner called the "pillars of the dramatic edifice." Further detailed analysis of the 7th Symphony of Schubert (rediscovered at this time and presented by Mendelssohn), and the other previously listed composers of 1839-40 follow in the succeeding chapter, Other Fruits of the Season.

Further chapters trace the meteoric rise and development of the new expressive art form through other later works of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Douay, Berlioz, the French composer Felicien David, Franck, Scudo, Marx, and Wagner, and finally Lacombe, Weckerlin, Kastner, and Reyer. The final chapter, "Toward New Paths," closes in 1854, with the final paragraph summarizing the culmination of the effects of the dramatic symphony of symphonic poem on the evolution of the modern orchestra: "Thus, season by season, French musicians and some Germans... attempted to write symphonies united to drama, works they thought might rival Beethoven's mighty accomplishments. They composed and performed a variety of works that have been identified historically in this study as 'dramatic symphonies.' In the process they arrived at the 'modern orchestra.' Their efforts - heavily criticised by German scholars clinging to the traditional pure symphony - led eventually not so much to a new symphony as to a new style: the style of program music and symphonic poems that became accepted in the concerts of the period from 1850-1900 (p. 135)."

In addition to an extensive bibliography, "The Dramatic Symphony" contains some interesting material in appendices on musical parody in the public press, with several detailed engravings from the time, parodying performances of the dramatic symphony and other related elements. Appendix B, titled Cruelty and Flight, deals with the devastating effects of revolution on musicians and composers of the time. A number of black and white engravings are sprinkled throughout the book, adding intrigue and historical authenticity to the portrayal of this exciting era.

"The Dramatic Symphony" is Number 12 in the Franz Liszt Studies Series published by Pendragon, edited by Michael Saffle.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

One Change for Glory
Edward T. Heikell & Robert L. Heikell
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468006087, $16.95,

Early flights of endurance asked much from the pilot and his crew. "One Chance for Glory: First Nonstop Flight Across the Pacific" tells the story of Clyde Pangborn, whose flight across the Pacific failed to gain the same attention as Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic, but was a daunting task ahead of him. Telling his story by drawing from history and adding some dramatization, "One Chance for Glory" is a must for followers of aviation history who seek a telling of another first.

Making Sense When Life Doesn't
Cecil Murphey
Summerside Press
9781609362249, $14.99,

The laws of the universe are as they are, and there is no law for making sense. "Making Sense When Life Doesn't: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times" is an inspirational read for making the most out of the confusing blitz of life as it comes. Cecil Murphey advises readers to stop panicking about life as it comes and suggests they piece it all together before it overwhelms them. Better management of one's life allows more time for the things that make it all worth it. "Making Sense When Life Doesn't" is a strong pick for motivational readers, recommended.

Politics in Compassion
Jack Schauer
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432792268, $14.95,

Where does compassion stand in the realm of the political. "Politics in Compassion: The Future of American Politics" analyzes compassion in American history as Jack Schauer touches on many people in American history who used compassion as a major fuel for their reigns in power, and analyzing their impact in pursuit of the common good. "Politics in Compassion" is a strongly recommended addition politics and history collections.

Echoes of a Distant Past
Eraldo Lucero
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466360396, $12.98,

For many veterans, the stress of the war can never fade from their thoughts. "Echoes of a Distant Past: Screaming Eagles, Vietnam Memoirs, 1969-70" is a memoir of author Eraldo Lucero's struggles through the conflict as he tells his story in the conflict and the weight of the aftermath upon him, following him and his service in the A Shau Valley. For anyone who wants a personal take on the conflict, "Echoes of a Distant Past" is a fine memoir, much recommended.

The Greening of Oz
Robert Fraga
Wasteland Press
18 Village Plaza, PMB # 177
Shelbyville, KY 40065
9781600477157, $16.95,

A tornado is a disaster in one way...and an opportunity to start anew. "The Greening of Oz" tells the story of Greensburg, Colorado, a town hit with a nasty tornado and forced to rebuild. Instead of typically rebuilding, they fully embraced environmentalism and sought to make Greensburg as green as its name. Robert Fraga writes of the cities story and how it made the decision to go green a great one. "The Greening of Oz" is a fine addition to any travel or environmentalism collection.

Management Culture
Denise Moreland
Two Harbors
9781937928506, $16.95,

No one likes being bossed around, and far too many people hate their boss. "Management Culture: Innovative & Bold Strategies to Engage Employees" is a business advice guide from Denise Moreland, who encourages bosses and managers to treat their employees as something more than a regrettable means of simply getting things done, disposing of the old toxic culture for something that encourages greater teamwork for all those involved. Sage advice for those who don't want work to be the worst thing in those involved's lives, "Management Culture" is strongly worth considering for business and management collections.

The Hidden Truth
Wade C. Wilson
Privately Published
9780985728403, $TBA

The nature of the world and our dreams proves to be endlessly fascinating. "The Hidden Truth" is a collection of thought and philosophy as Wade Wilson ponders the meeting of the scientific, philosophical, and religious and how we piece together our world and try to understand it all. "The Hidden Truth" is well worth considering for metaphysical and philosophical collections, highly recommended.

6001 Iceworld
W. R. Widerberg
South Head Press
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780980809602, $12.00,

An ice age will come for the world again and mankind may face extinction in the process. "6001 Iceworld: Invasion of the Tortorats" is set four thousand years in the future as humanity struggles for survival against the harsh frozen wasteland, where they must rely on each other for survival, and also struggle to survive against one another as well. "6001 Iceworld" is a riveting take of post apocalyptic fiction, much recommended. Also from W. R. Widerberg and his 6001 series is "6001: The Sleepers" (9780980809619, $12.00), continuing the story of the Camarilla and the challenges that come with their small victories.

George Pica
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460906712, $19.99,

As a career crumbles around you, doing something truly great seems out of the question. "Blueboy" follows the crumbling life of Tacoma Police Captain Thomas Gaston as he deals with he corruption and murder that seem to be consuming his life. Dealing with a crazed wife, failing family, and murder targeting him, "Blueboy" is a psychological focus on a shifting life and the myth of the hero.

Tinder James, editor
Racy Pages
c/o Rubicund Publishing LLC
419 South 19th Aver Eat, Duluth, MN 55812
9780984371433, $14.95,

To those with wild imaginations, adding sex into there just makes it even more exciting. "Stretched" is a collection of erotica from many different authors, compiled by Tinder James, who compiles these works under one cover to give readers a very pleasurable taste of the newest authors in erotica. Along with stories from Steven Bantt, writer of Showtime Reality series Gigolos, "Stretched" is an excellent addition to any erotic fiction collection.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Lethal Lake
Joan Blacher
Zumaya Publications, LLC
6170 Old Balcom Canyon Rd, Somis, CA 93066
9781936144747, $15.99,

Dr. Joan Blacher is a former faculty member and director of a counseling and guidance graduate program. She has written both in the mystery genre with her publication of MURDER CANYON, and she co-authored DIFFICULT TEENS: A PARENTS GUIDE FOR COPING. She now gives lectures and workshops on various subjects relating to educational, psychological, and writing topics. In 2003 she received the Carl Vincent Award for literary contribution to mental health and publication. She holds memberships in various professional organizations, including Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Ardis Jensen is a university counselor, holding what is commonly referred to as an academic position. She is a former L.A. County Sheriff's forensic psychologist, and lost a younger sister to a witless murderer. Now one of their own faculty members is found floating in a lake ringed by wealthy ranches. Ardis is currently vying for a faculty position, which would improve her standing with the university. When the local police chief begs for her help, she is put between a rock and a hard place to those at the university who have power over her future:

"'How will you manage that?' He looked skeptical.

'Don't worry, I will.' Although she wondered to herself how she would do both jobs.

'I'll count on it.' He lowered his gaze and straightened papers."

LETHAL LAKE is an entertaining academic mystery with a faculty/staff point of view. Ardis is an unlikely heroine, but in the end she struts her stuff.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Shadows of The Past
E.A. Jensen
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd Parker CO 80134
9781432787967, $13.95,

I have always liked to read mysteries, the 'who done it' type, but for me this mystery was definitely not the norm. In this story we are taken to the murder scene where a ware-animal has been killed. Now I didn't know what a ware-animal was until I read this book. In this story creatures that we have only seen in chiller movies, such as Vampires are now next door neighbors. The problem is, not all are happy about their 'coming out of the closet,' and living side by side with 'normal' humans. We meet Krista, who is a Paranormal herself, but one that helps to investigate happenings that are unjust. Krista has personal issues that had forced her to draw back, but now she is drawn deep into the circle of events. Murders continue as the team desperately tries to find who is responsible as time seems to be running out.

I enjoyed this read mainly because it was different. The characters and their personalities and 'needs' really made the read. Interweaving between normal people and the others seemed to hit a cord in the battle we continue to face in real life. The story was full of mystery and did not lag but kept your attention throughout the read. At times it was intense, at other times it was gentle and tender, and the ending was a surprise. I would have to say this is definitely not the norm as far as murder mysteries go, but it has an appeal because it is so different and well written. It definitely kept my attention from beginning to end. Well done.

The End of Sunshine Street
Johanna Constance Hunt
CreateSpace Publishing
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466360044, $14.00,

As we first begin this read we meet, Judy, our main character. Judy is on a vacation and while traveling she meets, Sam, a very well-to-do man. Judy and Sam soon marry and settle in Palm Beach, Florida. The story continues as you share the couples interaction with neighbors, friends, and family. As we travel along something is brewing between Judy and Sam but just what is it. Judy seems to take a turn towards the 'weird' side of her personality as she does some things that some might consider 'for the best,' while others would consider, evil. However, the final blow is what happens to her husband, Sam, and the coarse Judy takes after.

Wow, at first I thought I was reading just a sweet book about a husband and wife and their comfortable life in Florida until 'Bang!' everything seemed to change. This is an interesting book, the first part is really a calming fun story until something happens within Judy that changes everything. I liked this book because it had shock value, you just don't see it coming and your not sure about the ending. My final word was, "WHAT?" Give it a try, I think you will enjoy it.

I Thought I Saw a Dragon Late Last Night
Clayton J. Liotta
CreateSpace Publishing
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475293814, $14.95,

This is a adorable book about a young boy who thought he saw a Dragon late last night and wakes up determined to find it. We travel with him as he figures out just where a Dragon may go and heads that way, eyes open and alert. After all, Dragons can be clever and may use a disguise. Does he find his Dragon? I'll never tell.

I liked this book and the story it told. Our author, Clayton Liotta, tells a tale that will spark the imagination of any child whether they have gone Dragon hunting or not. His illustrations are wonderful, letting you see what our young boy is seeing on his quest. I loved the first one where he had one eye open peeking out the window. Was that a Dragon? So cute. I recommend this book, it will definitely entertain your little one and you as well. Good job.

100 Puzzle Quizzes
Grabarchuk Family
Amazon Kindle
No ISBN, $2.99,,

Although I was never much of a puzzle person as I continue to review the puzzle books I am definitely becoming one. This puzzle book,'100 Puzzle Quizzes,' was a lot of fun. The book is set up from easy puzzles (One*) to hard puzzles (Five*****). Myself, daughter and granddaughter enjoyed playing. I pretty much stayed on the one to two star level. My daughter is very good with puzzles and moved up to the harder ones, she really enjoyed them. The only complaint she had was that she wished there were more of the five***** puzzles.

My granddaughter who is 10th grade level in reasoning worked mostly in the Three*** level. So I would gear this book mostly to a high school level of thinking. It was easy to download and navigate. I enjoyed challenging myself and my family. My favorite would be finding the hidden digit, the first time you try this you will get it wrong. I also enjoyed the games with the cubes. Three dimensional thinking. If you enjoy puzzles and challenging yourself these books are for you. Great to have with you when you are waiting in the doctor's office or anywhere and want something to do. They sure help to keep your mind sharp in an entertaining way. Recommended.

Coastal Access
Walter Ramsey
Pena Beach Press
9780983440741, $11.99,

I knew immediately that I was going to like our main character, Tucker Lee Anderson. Tucker, a divorced man with children seemed to be making headway with his life in the state of Florida. He has a new lady and his job seems to be working out well but things were soon to get a bit hairy for him. Tucker meets a mysterious man named, Doug. Doug soon becomes a good friend and a man he seems to be drawn to, one who in some way brings Tucker support and comfort. However, questions begin to rise in Tucker's mind, just who is this man, Doug, and why has he offered Tucker so much support? The answer will surprise you. Things begin heating up in Tuckers area of Florida. Something is going on that somehow Tucker is being pulled into, but what? And why is Tucker having dreams of his grandmother and his ancestor, A Seminole Indian? What are they trying to tell him? And why would he even be involved? The plot thickens.

I really enjoyed this read for several reasons. First, it was a comfortable read, by that I mean the characters were so well defined I felt as if I knew them and cared what happened to them. I feel that pulls you deeper into the story and is very good when the author is able to do that. I also loved the locals since I am originally from New Jersey, and have resided in Florida for the past thirty years, I felt like the story was happening in my backyard. It was nice to recognize the different areas that author, Walter Ramsey, took the reader to. The story had plenty of mystery, intertwining different characters in the many events going on, making you wonder what part they were playing and how deep they were involved. Some were dark and sinister, others were merely pawns in evil plots of greedy people. Mr. Ramsey brought a nice personal touch in the read, introducing you to Tucker's two children. His teenage daughter is brought into the drama in a scary way and his younger son helps to bring Tucker some assurance that he is a good parent. I also liked the supernatural aspect that our author brought into the read, it really gave it a good flare. I could have done without the sexual details in his love life, but I suppose for some that would be a plus. To each their own. All in all a very good read, one that I enjoyed and absolutely loved the ending. I am happy to recommend this read, well done Mr. Ramsey.

Escape From Eternity
Nate Scholze
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd Parker, CO 80134
9781432789060, $15.95,

In this read we meet Laura Whitmore, her sister and parents. They appear to be a normal family yet a secret circles their lives, one that only the father fully knows, but never told his family. In a strange visit from a space craft a man runs to see what it is only to be taken over by something or is that someone, with a mission. This now possessed man, who calls himself, Adrian, seeks out Laura who holds the key to the future. Who really is this creature and what secrets does he hold for mankind, and why is Laura so important to him?

I have to say this was a different read with twists and turns I did not expect. The author kept you running forward with the desire to know who Adrian really was and why was he so intent on finding Laura. The characters in this story were interesting and well developed and tied together nicely as the read progressed. I think a little more information should have been given on who this character, Adrain, was a little sooner in the story. Perhaps a few more hints dropped here and there. As I said this was a different twist on 'earth visiting' characters and I feel our author plans to take this into another book, or so I assume from the ending of this one. The ending was a surprise in so many ways, I really did not see this ending coming, and it appears Laura is in for other visitations. If you enjoy a read that is a little different than the norm, this one is for you. I will be watching to see how our author continues this story.

Yield: Book One of The Armageddia Series
Bryan K. Johnson
Bedside Books
c/o American Book Publishing
14510 Big Basin Way #155, Saratoga Village, CA 95070
9781589826816, $24.95,

I don't know about you, but I wake up each morning wondering how many more days we will have of peace in this world we live in. It's a scary thought, I know, but unfortunately destruction seems to be heading towards us. In this read by, Bryan K. Johnson, this fear becomes a reality as our precious nation is attacked by our enemies. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye everything changes for the American people and out of work fireman, Devin, and his family. Devin is the main character throughout this book, separated from his family due to a trip, he is saved miraculously as his plane crashes and he pulls others out of the wreckage. These people soon unite and try to battle their own fear and suffering to help one another. As they gaze upon the city of Seattle burning before them, they wonder if they even have a home to return to. Unfortunately they will encounter much tribulations and heartaches along the way, some will live, some will die. We also meet a determined News crew that battles Hell to try and get the latest news to the American people, and we are taken into the lives of the American people as they battle for their very existence.

This is a remarkable story, one that will touch the very core of your fears. It is a tale that unfortunately could well be tomorrows reality. As I walked with these people I wondered how I would handle the different events they encountered. Would I have the courage that would be needed to survive? Would I share my last piece of bread? Would I stand up against evil people to save a life of someone I didn't know? I hope so, but at this point these are questions without answers, and I pray they stay that way. This story will make you think, what if this does happen? Very well written and I am pleased to recommend it.

Turbo Charged Recipes
Dian Griesel, Ph.D. with Tom Griese
The Business School of Happiness, Inc.
P.O. Box 302, Washington Depot, CT 06794
9781936705078, $14.95,

This is a great book for people who are healthy eaters, or for those that would like to be, but its also so much more. In the beginning of the book you have a great introduction section. They give you eight easy steps to follow that will help you move towards a healthy lifestyle. In that small section, you will find it packed with great tips that are not hard to follow. The author than goes into some more explaining and follows is an explanation of Turbopower Foods. Here you will find foods such as: Fish, Nuts, Beans, Eggs etc. with much helpful information as to why they should be eaten and also how. I found this very interesting. One of my favorite parts was "Flavoring With Herbs and Spices." I never know what spice goes best with what food. Now I do. It continues on with information about beverages, that is something you don't often see, and going organic or not,. Wow, talk about useful information, it's all here. Following we are blessed with page after page of recipes from Dips and Dressings to Desserts, and everything in between.

Is this book only good for those doing the Turbo Charged Lifestyle? I don't think so, although I feel it is geared towards them. As far as I can see, anyone can use these great recipes and information. It has an introduction that gives you a glance at the mind set you need to have for eating healthy. The book has recipes on everything including veal, sea bass, lobster and, of course, ground beef, roast and tuna. It boasts lots of variety and lots of tasty results. The squash and zucchini soup was my favorite. (although I eat a lot of squash) There is even a vegetarian section. I think this is a must for anyone looking for new ideas in the kitchen, is wanting to improve their health, and lose a few pounds. This book is great for everyone who eats, and that of course would be all of us. Very well done and well worth you time.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Cancer Country: A Survivor's Memoir
Chet Skibinski
Inkwater Press
c/o First Books
6750 SW Franklin Street, Suite A
Portland, Oregon 97223-2542
9781592998067 $12.95

Cancer Country: A Survivor's Memoir is the personal testimony of author Chet Skibinski, a senior citizen (late 60's) who was diagnosed with a rare form of deadly cancer (lymphoma) in 2008. Chet's seeks to tell a story that is neither excessively ebullient nor morbidly depressing - it's simply true. From the debilitating side effects of sickness and treatment, to personal frustrations and bewilderment, to the power of family and group support, Cancer Country: A Survivor's Memoir lives up to its title by providing a fleshed-out portrait of the trials and tribulations of suffering from yet surviving with a relentless disease. "I had been dealing with cancer for less than two years and it hadn't much changed my lifestyle at all. True, at times it's made me worried and angry and depressed and miserable, but so have some other things in life. I didn't think of myself as 'fighting' cancer in a brave way. Most of us have been through similar situations." Eminently readable and straight from the heart, Cancer Country is highly recommended.

On the Hole
Jeff Bacot
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790837, $12.95,

A good friendship can only go so far before it is truly tested. "On the Hole" is a novel of the greens, as Nick and Jay's strong bond over the game and what surrounds it. As secrets are revealed, they face life's challenges and an unusual new couple appears on their favored course. "On the Hole" is an enticing read for those who like mystery and the game of golf, recommended.

Your Soul's Gift
Robert Schwartz
Whispering Winds Press
9780977679461, $24.95,

Our soul can allow us to understand much throughout our lives. "Your Soul's Gift: The Healing Power of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born" explores the nature of the soul, and how that soul often plans our routes through our lives and how to use that soul's plan to help us heal through our traumas and tragedies throughout our lives. Robert Schwartz uses spirituality and metaphysical concepts to help many people cope with their lives and understand how to cope. "Your Soul's Gift" is a spiritual read that may help those who are facing trauma and tragedy, highly recommended.

Bullets and Bandages
Robert J. Saniscalchi
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470081607, $10.99,

Vietnam tested the resolve of many young men through the 1960s and 1970s. "Bullets and Bandages" is a novel of war and friendship as author Robert J. Saniscalchi draws on his experiences in the conflict to tell this story of surviving and trying to thrive. With a touch of memoir, "Bullets and Bandages" presents a personal narrative of the difficult conflict, much recommended.

Trader Jack
Neil Behrmann
New End Books
Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780953384310, $TBA,

When corruption boils everywhere, is there such a thing as innocence? "Trader Jack" is the story of Jack Miner, who tries to clear his name and proclaim his innocence when dealing with the world of high finance and organized crime, and their increasing cross over. Throughout, the many sides to the scam and the culprits doesn't make Jack the pure hero either, but what's a hero when everyone is a cutthroat? "Trader Jack" is an enticing novel of organized crime and justice, much recommended.

A Walk in My Moccasins
Justus Peters
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470007058, $12.99,

With no audio, the world seems familiar, but very different. "A Walk in My Moccasins: Memoirs of a Deaf Physician" is a memoir from Justus Peters as he shares his story of becoming a physician while being deaf, and the success he has ultimately found in spite of his disability, an uplifting story of American success that cares only if you can get the job done. "A Walk in My Moccasins" is a strong pick for any inspirational collection focusing on life stories.

The Black Letter Omnibus
D.W. Stojek
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781438200040, $11.96,

Poetry often seeks to capture a massive range of emotion and though. "The Black Letter Omnibus" is a collection of versatile poetry from DW Stojek as he p-resents his work in its many forms. Seeking to find the range that a single day might bring us, "The Black Letter Omnibus" is worth considering for those seeking a new voice of poetry. "How Time's Tourbillion...": You, rose of wind, who hour our rhumb,/loose day upon a dial, common,/mark measure of the fan,/til upon your breast it shades a crumb:/Where seizes gnomon,/make that the very minute of Man.

In Between Myths
Tom Marriott
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469950167, $7.99,

As legends fade, the legends must move on with their existence. "In Between Myths" is a humorous twist on Greek legend and the modern day, as Tom Mariott follows Henry Lomax, a man who wants to believe in the unusual and the impossible in his life. When he finds the minotaur, he is shocked...and perhaps underwhelmed...and the other legends of the past still lurk as well. "In Between Myths" blends humor and mythology to make for a fine read of modern adventure.

Don't Disappear Part 2
Nina Guest
Don't Disappear Production
Bill Treadaway (publicity)
PO Box 172404, Arlington, TX 76003
9781475194180, $12.95,

In Communist Russia, the person you're talking to one day may not exist the next. "Don't Disappear Part 2" is the followup to Nina Guest's chronicle of Vicka Zotova, a young woman trying to get by in Communist Russia, as author Guest draws from her own experiences with Russian culture. A coming of age novel with a certain doom hanging over head, "Don't Disappear Part 2" is a read well worth considering, highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

What I Did On My Midlife Crisis Vacation
Debbianne DeRose
PiscAquarian Press
9780615526195, $17.00,

With half the life done, people often reconsider what they have done thus far. "What I Did On My Midlife Crisis Vacation" is a memoir from Debbianne DeRose, who shares her tale of piecing together life and her exploration of everything that lies beyond and how she came to understand it all. With plenty of humor and plenty to ponder, "What I Did On My Midlife Crisis Vacation" is a strong pick for anyone else quickly reaching this point in their lives.

The Drug Invasion of West Africa
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432786694, $15.95,

Africa has always been faced with many problems since the colonialism days. "The Drug Invasion of West Africa" draws on real world events to discuss the International War on drugs and its impact on Africa through narrative fiction. Arthur Kobina Kennedy, with a strong interest in the fate of Africa, touches on this topic and brings many points to light. "The Drug Invasion of West Africa" is fiction with a message that should be heard.

After One Hundred Years
Joseph J. Dunn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466249547, $20.00,

The great recession is the name of the lives of many Americans. "After One Hundred Years: Corporate Profits, Wealth, & American Society" explores the financial crisis that the country faces surrounding the power of huge corporations and the response by many non-profit organizations growing towards social justice, and the effects of a Dark Age of American Innovation. "After One Hundred Years" is an intriguing perspective on the recession and the influences that are causing the rise and fall of American prosperity.

The Spotting Scope
David Carle
Phalarope Press
9781475200546, $16.95,

Environmentalism has many enemies, and some may be out for blood. "The Spotting Scope" follows ex-park ranger Jack Morgan as Saline Lake's protection as a National park is removed and he finds himself leading a search for a lost teenager in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But his search evolves into something more, as there may be those who will do anything for profit, even murder. "The Spotting Scope" is an environmentalism influenced novel of adventure and mystery, worth considering for fans of the genre.

The Eager Apprentice
Chris Elgood
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780956894823, $11.99,

Murder for hire is a dirty business, but one can try to make even murder ethical. "The Eager Apprentice" follows the continuing adventures of Nshila Ileloka, a young woman of Africa moving to London, using her homeland's techniques to further her career and earning a reputation for assassination work using otherwise improbable methods. A riveting read of adventure, "The Eager Apprentice" is a fine and choice read, not to be missed.

The Spiritual Mind
Jim Ryan
c/o O-Books
9781780993775, $12.95,

Our spirit is often battered and beaten by the world around us, but we hold the power to let it flourish. "The Spiritual Mind" is a read of the spirit, as Jim Ryan takes readers on a tour of the state of mind. Or states of mind, touching on the negative states of mind that we all often fall into and how to overcome them and shape our minds to be more positive and hopeful. "The Spiritual Mind" is a strongly recommended for those who want to improve their mental look into their lives.

An Agroraphobic's Guide to Hollywood
Darlene Carviotto
Front Door Books
9780984671199, $19.99,

Flourishing in a career requires a little luck, but a lot more drive. "An Agoraphobic's Guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jackson Got Me out of the House" is a memoir from Darlene Carviotto as she shares her adventures of breaking out into her Hollywood career as a working mother with a pile of problems on her plate and much stress all around with plenty of humor, "An Agoraphobic's Guide to Hollywood" is a fun and much recommended addition to memoir collections.

Sex, Drugs, and Scuba Diving
Klaus M. Stiefel
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475146899, $29.90,

The Oceans hold immense knowledge of the world and its deep history. "Sex, Drugs, and Scuba Diving" is a collection of memoir and thoughts from Klaus M. Stiefel as he presents what he has learned through a lifetime of studying the creatures under the ocean, accompanying his words with full color underwater photography throughout. With plenty to think and ponder, "Sex, Drugs, and Scuba Diving" is a fine memoir to consider, recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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