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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 4 April 2014 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Ann's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Cheri's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Janet's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Sandra's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

The Albino Redwoods (The Redwoods series)
Heather Nelson
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00GFDHUOU, $2.99,

Mary Crocco, Reviewer

Bullying and Discrimination

In a post-apocalyptic word of albinos, a mature seventeen year old girl, Joanne, bullied and discriminated against because of her pigmented skin, tries to make the best out of her life.

In high school, Joanne mistakenly falls for a cruel and deceitful albino, Grey, who tricks her for his own devious pleasure. The situation forces Joanne to remember what her father taught her before he died - to be proud and demand justice.

While taking care of her dying mother, Joanne tries to pull herself together, finish school, and keep her job. In the meantime, Grey is relentless. However, a silver lining appears when she unexpectedly meets Grey's brother, Jem. Joanne's life takes a surprise turn for the better.

Twists and turns throughout The Albino Redwoods by Heather Nelson create an enjoyable and unpredictable read for all ages. It may generate discussions about bullying and discrimination.

Killing Jesus
Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Henry Holt & Company LLC
175 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10010
9780805098549, $28.00 hc / $6.49 Kindle,

K. Anne

If you know Bill O'Reilly from Fox News, you will be able to hear him talking throughout this book. He definitely writes like he talks. Whether that is good or bad, I leave up to you. This is one of three books the pair (O'Reilly and Dugard) collaborated on. The other two are Killing Kennedy (which was made into a tv movie) and Killing Lincoln. So far, I have only read Killing Jesus. As O'Reilly has stated on his show, this is a historical book, not a theology book. Although he felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this book, it is not intended to inspire but to inform, and that it does. The reader travels back in time to the period when Jesus lived. Geographical and cultural references deliver images to the mind's eye that are both beautiful and horrible. I realize that the book is entitled, Killing Jesus, so I should have been prepared for the graphic horrors of that time but I was hoping those details wouldn't be so....... detailed. This book is not for the faint of heart. Not only does the book describe Jesus' crucifixion but also the common tortures of that time period and then the debauchery of the Kings and other men in power. Certain things about these leaders I didn't need or want to know. I received an education I could have done without. Unfortunately, I cannot "unknow" these things. Thanks Bill.

Ok, onto what I did like about this book. The politics behind Jesus' arrest and killing are explained far better than any other book I have read on the subject, including the Bible. Being a historical book, the authors made fervent effort to produce an accurate account of who was governing and the circumstances that might have drove them to make fateful decisions. Most of us read Bible stories, in Sunday school, about a wonderful man named Jesus. We learned about His kindness, His miracles and wondered why those "bad guys" killed Him. If you were perplexed by that quandary, you won't be after reading this book. It is clear that Jesus was a maverick who made those in power feel threatened. Possibly losing their power, status and funds made them desperate to extinguish the threat and they felt unfettered do so by any means. The book ends where the facts end and faith begins. The facts of Jesus' life and death are not disputed among the erudite scholars. It is only the resurrection that is disputed and whether or not He was the Son of God. Historians of all faiths or no faiths do not argue that Jesus lived, preached, was very popular, stirred up turmoil and died on the cross. The arguments are about what happened to His body after burial and whether or not He rose. Some claim that His body was stolen or He just "swooned" and did not actually die on the cross. In either case, this book does not go there. It is strictly a factual history book detailing indisputable facts. Therefore, people of all faiths or no faith at all can read this book without getting "bent out of shape".

I recommend this book.

The Four Kings
Scott Spotson
Solstice Publishing
P.O. Box 460455, Denver, CO 80246
9781493535644, Paper $12.65, Kindle $2.99,

Michael Thal, Reviewer

Political Fantasy

The U.S. presidency is shrouded in scandal. The world economy is in depression, and India and Pakistan are on the brink of a nuclear exchange. In the midst of the crisis four young adults materialize in the Oval Office and announce, "We are the Liberators!"

Thus begins Scott Spotson's political fantasy, The Four Kings. This 492-page epic novel is about a race of wizards taking over our world to implement needed changes. From the Mortals (that's us) they choose Amanda Fullerton as their Supreme Liaison.

A committee of four takes control of each continent destroying the nation-state paradigm over night. World government and economy are now in the hands of the Wizards where coins and bills are replaced by "bitcoins" and taxes are abolished. Each continental team of wizards appoints its own Supreme Liaison to act as emissary between the Wizards and the Mortals.

Through Amanda's point of view, Spotson's political fantasy about Justica, Demus, Regi, and Indie - the four wizards of North America - is perceived. Their ruling style can be seen by the masses on special days called Game Day, Debate Day, and Petition Day. As Supreme Liaison, Amanda has the challenging job of communicating wizard intent to the "liberated" population and Mortal concerns to their new rulers. Thrown into the mix is a love triangle between Amanda and the two male wizards and Amanda's loyalty to her conquered people as she connives to uncover the Wizard Achilles heel.

The Four Kings is a novel with non-stop excitement that keeps coming until its rewarding climax. The only negative about this page-turner is that it ended.

5 Stars

The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own: 21st-Century Fables
Margaret Harmon
Plowshare Media
P.O. Box 278, La Jolla, CA 92038
9780982114582, $13.95 (PB), 226pp,

Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Twenty-two rich confections await the reader in this lovingly constructed collection of fables for the world as we know it. If you're looking for food for thought, here's your banquet, and it's nourishing fare for discussion, too. With humor and wisdom and a careful eye for detail, Harmon has spun scenario after scenario that will illuminate many journeys, especially the path of the creative soul. A sweet book that would make a sweet gift for your thinker friends, served in bite-size pieces for our busy lives.

Fighting Down into the Kingdom of Dreams
Robin Wyatt Dunn
John Ott
1625 Hillside Dr., Fallbrook, CA 92028
9781940830025, $15.00, paperback, 312 pages
9781940830032, $8.00, ebook

Victoria Irwin, Reviewer
Geek Girls

Fighting Down Into the Kingdom of Dreams is the latest book from writer Robin Wyatt Dunn. The story follows Hrothbert, a former priest who has started to fight his way down and destroy a monster known as The Wight. Told by the Hrudu Man, who often takes the form of a giant rabbit, a strange narrative of speaking rats, an alternate New York city and a corrupt former king begins to unfold for the reader. The story twists and turns, with fish men, The Hierophant and elaborate plots that seem to only slightly be resolved.

Fighting Down Into the Kingdom of Dreams is much like it's name. Like a dream, the writing is poetic, transporting the reader from place to place, image to image. However, also like a dream many times the sequences make little to no sense and jumps around. I found myself having to reread many passages just to make sure I had the information correct. Towards the end, I finally just gave up trying to keep it all straight in my mind. This is not a book for those who wish to power through a lazy read on a Sunday afternoon; this is a book that one has to savor and digest in small portions, like an eight course meal at a fancy restaurant.

The downside to this book is that it is fairly easy to get lost while reading the story. Characters appear in a semi random order, and disappear just as quickly. Answers always seem about two steps away from the reader's grasp, and like the proverbial carrot and stick, the reader finds themselves being alluded by the concept. Dunn chooses to focus on concepts, such as what war does to an individual and a nation. My particularly favorite line had to do with employment, declaring, "Management takes love, because without love management would kill their employees."

The book is beautifully written and charming, but requires the reader to let go of control and embrace the flow of the words and imagery. This is a book for poets; not a book for control freaks.

Winning Fantasy Baseball: Secret Strategies of a Nine-Time National Champion
Larry Schechter
Emerald Book Company
c/o Greenleaf Book Group LLC
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
512.891.6100; 800.932.5420; Fax: 512.891.6150
9781937110574, $19.95, 360pp,
Also available Kindle, Nook, iTunes

Steve Gardner
Reviewer & Senior Fantasy Editor
USA Today

The upcoming season brings a renewed sense of optimism to any baseball fan. Perhaps this will be the year our favorite team brings home a championship.

It's that way for fantasy baseball players as well. The season begins with a blank slate. And even in keeper leagues where some of the players carry over from last year, it all begins with every team tied for first place.

From there, it's up to each individual owner to find the best path to a championship.

Larry Schechter, arguably the most successful fantasy baseball player in the country, has written a book that provides an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at just how he's been able to win seven experts league titles and two national competitions in the past 12 years.

The book is appropriately titled Winning Fantasy Baseball because that's what he does. He wins ... more often than just about anyone else.

But take note: the book is not called "playing" fantasy baseball. There is a big difference.

Though Schechter says the book is written for players of all skill levels - and it does include a section on the basic concepts of the game that experienced players can easily skip - the emphasis is clearly on the "winning."

He goes step-by-step through his preseason preparations, from projecting player statistics to calculating their values to formulating a draft strategy to leveraging the trade and free agent markets.

Along the way, Schechter also reveals some of the tricks of the trade that even veteran fantasy owners may not realize. (One example: Calculating separate inflation rates for hitters and pitchers in keeper leagues to more accurately gauge their draft values.)

Undoubtedly, some of his fellow competitors in the LABR and Tout Wars experts leagues (both of which he won in 2013) will use the knowledge to their advantage, but in the end it may not make much difference at all.

He's THAT good.

What readers of this book will want to know is whether or not they can be THAT good in their leagues. The answer is an emphatic yes. But the main takeaway from Winning Fantasy Baseball is that achieving success requires a significant commitment.

It all begins with projecting player values. Schechter encourages fantasy owners to compose their own projections for every player in the pool. While it's not an iron-clad requirement (an average of several trustworthy sources will work as well), any outside factors that may affect a player's fantasy value -- such as injury history or park factor -- can be built into the projections from the very beginning.

The second step is converting those projections into a player value. It doesn't matter whether you use an auction or a straight draft or play in a keeper or single-season league. Each player will have a specific value.

In one of the book's more polarizing statements, Schechter argues that there's no such thing as position scarcity. Therefore, there's no reason to pay more for a player or draft him earlier just because of the position he plays. (One caveat: the lack of depth and irregularity of playing time among catchers does require a slight adjustment.)

Where Schechter gets his edge is in the precise accuracy of his player values, which he trusts implicitly, even down to a fraction of a dollar. If the auction reaches $21 on a player he has valued at $20.8, he won't bid.

The main objective, Schechter says, is to get as much excess value as possible out of your roster. For him, a draft isn't successful unless he has at least $300 worth of stats out of his $260 draft budget. He'll even pass on some significant bargains during the draft because he's confident he can get an even bigger one later on.

For me, that was the biggest revelation. If you have confidence in your values, you'll be willing to wait for the right mix of players - even if it seems as though pitching is being overvalued or all the good power hitters have suddenly become scarce. Since there's a finite collection of stats in the player pool, the owners who overpay to acquire those stats will always lose out to those who get more, less-expensive stats.

Where I end up disagreeing with him is how accurately anyone can determine what those stats will be. Is a $21.3 player really worth more than a $20.8 player? Schechter says yes - and adding up all that incremental value is how he gets his edge on everyone else at the draft table.

Based on the results and the number of championships he has won, it's hard to say he's wrong.

The greatest issue for an average fantasy owner is the willingness to make a commitment to Winning Fantasy Baseball. If the will is there, Schechter's book provides a clear blueprint to building a championship-caliber squad.

In a manner-of-fact style, Schechter explains exactly why he does things the way he does. He provides the charts and calculations to prove his points. He downplays his understanding of higher-level math and sabermetrics, but isn't afraid to use those concepts to make his strategy work.

On the other hand, if playing fantasy baseball just for the fun of kicking back with a couple beers on draft night and following your favorite players during the season is what's most important, then you'll just have to be content watching Schechter's followers take home the trophy.

As a fellow LABR participant, I have first-hand experience of how well his system works. If you need more proof, just ask the other owners in AL Tout Wars, where he's won the last three titles.

If you're serious about winning your league, Larry Schechter's Winning Fantasy Baseball: Secret Strategies of a Nine-Time National Champion should be an essential element in your preseason preparation.

Science and Religion: Reconciling the Conflicts
David M. Barker
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781625103796, $29.99, 523 pages

Dave S. Collingridge, PhD

In the same spirit of reconciliation as Francis S. Collins and the late Stephen J. Gould, Mr. Barker shows how to reconcile science and religion's seemingly incommensurate beliefs. This book is especially relevant to Christians looking for a well-thought-out approach to reconciling traditional Biblical views with modern scientific discoveries. Abundant scientific information on dating, evolution, and other topics typically at odds with religious views are presented. Barker offers reasonable critiques and ways to interpret scientific findings without doing injury to traditional religious views - food for thought even if you don't accept all his views. The book is well-written, researched, and presented in a non-dogmatic fashion. Highly recommended for people interested in science and religion.

Listen To The Whisper
David Sample
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781452582733, $8.00 (PB), $21.00 (HC), $3.99 (Kindle), 108pp,

Reviewer yet to be named.

David Sample captures the promise and truth of life in his new collection of free verse and lyrical poetry, "Listen To The Whisper."

Inspired by his own life and faith in God, Sample pulls inspiration from his personal experiences, including his successes, failures and life-altering decisions, to create moving, thought-provoking poetry. Readers will be inspired and encouraged to reflect on their lives.

"Listen to the Whisper"captures the imagination and brings insight to anyone searching for peace within themselves. It is an emotional collection of poetry that contains pearls of wisdom and will guide those who seek to deepen their spiritual journey. Sample's book is truthfully written and heartfelt.

An excerpt from "Listen To The Whisper":
"No greater battle is waged and won
Than the one from within the man
Who struggles to free himself
From the chains of self-doubt"

Readers are already responding positively to "Listen To The Whisper." Jack McCall, founder of ACT Ministries, says, "David Sample's contribution to each of us through this book is no doubt inspired by God. I highly recommend that all of David's readers take time to listen to the whisper."

David Sample is a speaker, songwriter, singer, poet, author and sales guy. Through the arts, Sample opens the hearts of his audience to their full potential. A veteran of the Xerox Corporation and the Tom Peters Group, Sample knows the importance of discipline and heart in achieving extraordinary performance.

Readers can listen to or download Sample's music at

Silk Armor
Claire Sydenham
Old Harbour Press
Greenville, North Carolina
9780615774749, $10.49, 318 pp.,

Marilyse Figueroa, Reviewer
World Literature Today

In the town of Eski?ehir, Turkey, fate is called kismet. In Silk Armor, debut novelist Claire Sydenham never lets her readers forget that it is the unseen force of kismet pushing her characters into the individuals they are destined to become. In this twisting tale of destiny, secrets, and growth, Sydenham's narrator - named Claire - is an ex-pat university English teacher working in Turkey. Claire expected to spend a year discovering a Turkey without complications. However, she finds herself involved in a secret affair between a coworker, Victor, and Didem, one of her students. Much of the story reveals itself in Claire and Victor's trip back to the United States. Claire appears to know many of the obvious facts about their relationship, but she probes Victor for answers about another female student - Sevgi, Didem's childhood friend from the village of Karaagac - who suddenly disappears.

The plot seems simplistic at the outset of the novel, because Claire has not yet discovered all the information. However, each twist and turn will take the reader into a deeper understanding of the kismet that ties all the characters together. Claire's search to find Sevgi's whereabouts opens a well of secrets, creating tension and desire in the reader to discover the truth along with Claire, who reluctantly must partake in the search. The search proves to be the most important part of the story as Claire realizes that each person has made "mistakes - fated mistakes."

A Western reader will find a familiar guide in Claire as they discover Turkey and its people alongside her. A Turkish reader will understand this familiar story of rebellion against family and traditions. Special attention is paid to the deeply symbolic veil that is a prominent motif in the novel. Because the details about Turkey are told through the perspective of an outsider, the feeling of being veiled and protected from real life is potent in the story. Both men and women, whether they look towards home in the East or the West, will be able to discern the power of the veil to cover and to protect. However, Silk Armor does not seek to question the validity of tradition or to compare differing cultures. Sydenham's power of crafting characters that walk the pages as individuals with their own thickly layered struggles - calling to mind the Turkish proverb, "One who is drenched does not fear the rain" - is compelling enough to make readers turn inside to the truths within themselves.

College Freshman 101
Brenda Faye Collie
Daylight Books
PO Box 1105, New York, NY 10040
Atlas Books (Bookmasters, Inc.)
9780984022021, $9.99, 276pp,

Ellen Feld, Reviewer
Feathered Quill Book Reviews

When College Freshman 101 arrived at Feathered Quill I was excited to see it and grabbed it for my review stack. Back in 2011, I had read the first book in this planned trilogy, Almost A Senior, and found it a very enjoyable read. I was eager to learn what happens to the protagonist, Loresha Evans, as she embarks on her college adventure.

We first met Loresha when she was a junior in high school, in Almost A Senior. Loresha, a young woman growing up in Harlem, might have been marked for failure by many, but they didn't know how strong she was, nor how determined she was to get what she wanted. She knew that graduating from high school was necessary to set her on the path to reach her dream of going to college, and so, throughout the first book, we follow Loresha as she struggles, and

Now, in College Freshman 101, we catch up with Loresha once again, this time as she prepares to leave the streets of Harlem for the lush, green grounds of a beautiful college in Massachusetts. Saying good-bye to her family and friends, Loresha makes the several hour trip to her new home, at Jackson College, where everybody seems to fit in except her. The first thing that Loresha notices is that the school is predominately white. Will Loresha find a place at her new school?

Loresha's roommate, Cookie, starts off by annoying her without even trying-'Loresha' seems too long a name so Cookie calls her 'Lori' and when that doesn't work, 'Whatever' seems to be the new name. Loresha is unhappy to say the least, but when she ventures outside she spots "Another Black student...maybe I would make it here after all."

Loresha soon finds several friends among the small Black and minority population at school. Eager to fit in, she goes along with them as they steal money from the library's copier machines. Loresha is hesitant to go along, but when the others in the group encourage her with lines such as, "we're not stealing. We're on financial aid," she gives in and acts as a decoy while others take the money. while Loresha makes some bad choices, she also makes some decisions that show she is maturing. Anxious to earn some money, she takes on a work-study job recording the life stories of Black people working in the area. And while she does party hard, she also is quite serious about studying. That determination to get good grades is also what leads her to a tutor. Walek Simms, a handsome graduate student. Loresha is immediately drawn to the young man, but is he falling in love too or just using her?

Told in the first person by Loresha, I was instantly drawn into College Freshman 101. While I honestly can't relate to the trials that Loresha was going through because our backgrounds are vastly different, the author did such a good job of writing a well-fleshed out main character, that I truly was interested in Loresha's life. When she helped steal the copier money, I found myself cringing, hoping that she would see the mistake she was making. Other characters, too,were well crafted-I particularly liked the way Loresha's relationship with her roommate Cookie changed over time. And while the new college student fell for the hunky graduate student's claims of everlasting love, many readers will undoubtedly scream at Loresha not to fall for his sweet talk. While there were a few spots where the dialogue was a bit strained, overall it was a very satisfying read and I truly enjoyed catching up with Loresha. I look forward to meeting Loresha again in the final book in this enjoyable trilogy.

Quill says: New friends, life lessons, heartache and joy await Loresha as she embarks on her first semester of college. It's a journey she won't soon forget, and I suspect that for the reader, the story will also linger long after the last page is read.

Ann's Bookshelf

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Elizabeth Kolbert
9781408851210, A$29.99, 319 pages
Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805092998, $28.00, 336pp,

We have 'Save the Whales', 'Save the Rhinos', 'Save the Sharks' - but what about 'Save the Frogs'?

As Elizabeth Kolbert begins her book she is in a market in the town of El Valle de Anton in Panama. It has, she says, "what must be the largest selection of golden frog figurines in the world", because, here, the golden frog is a lucky symbol. Once, there were thousands and thousands of golden frogs in the El Valle area but by 2002 they had all disappeared. Scientists who decided to capture and breed a few in captivity were too late. It quickly became apparent that the golden frog and amphibians of all kinds were disappearing rapidly, not just in South America but also in Central America, Costa Rica, Australia and many other places, too. The culprit was found to be a chytrid fungus which lives on the animal's skin and interferes with its metabolism.

The golden frog and many other amphibian species are now extinct in the wild and amphibians are currently the world's most endangered species. Should that worry us? Yes, says Kolbert. Extinction takes place very rarely in geological time and usually very slowly. Sudden mass extinction, such as that which is currently happening to amphibians, and, worryingly, to other species such as reef-building corals, fresh-water molluscs, rays and sharks and some species of mammal, is usually associated with a sudden change in the environment caused by a catastrophe of some kind. So, what is happening?

One major factor cited by Kolbert is "intercontinental reshuffling" - the ease with which animals and organisms are transported around the world. Recent concern about the spread of the SARS virus is one example of the danger this poses. But there are other things which are changing the environment. And who is responsible for this? "One weedy species": Us.

Having pointed the finger, Kolbert digresses into an interesting history of the way in which the concept of extinction came about. Not until the eighteenth century was there any idea that a species might die out. Huge fossilised bones were found and studied in America in 1739 and they were argued over for years, but it was assumed that the animal from which they came was "still out there somewhere". Not until Frenchman, George Cuvier, made a close study of as many of these huge bones as he could collect did the idea of a vanished species arise. In 1800, Cuvier determined that there were at least four species of animal that no longer existed, but he argued with Jean Baptiste Lamarck as to whether these animals were a separate species or were creatures which had 'transformed' (evolved) into animals which currently existed.

Kolbert follows this argument through, introducing seminal figures in the debate, such as Charles Lyell, whose Principles of Geology strongly influenced Charles Darwin. She also discusses those who proposed and argued over various theories about the cause of mass extinctions. And she brings the arguments up-to-date by visiting places where important discoveries have been made and talking to scientists, ecologists, geologists, conservationists, and others whose current work adds to the debate. Her style is journalistic, which makes for easy reading. But her habit of introducing each person by their physical attributes gets rather wearing: x is lanky, long faced, with bushy eyebrows; y wears a silver ear-ring in each ear and has a large tattoo; z has curly brown hair and a boyish smile; and so on.

Five mass extinctions are know and Kolbert discusses each of them. This current 'Sixth Extinction' (as she has called it) is, like the others, put down to sudden change, caused, not as earlier mass extinctions apparently were by an asteroid strike or a massive volcanic eruption but by our disruption of the Earth's biological and geochemical systems.

Can we stop it? Halfway through this book, reading of the first appearance of homo sapiens and our supposed culpability in the extinction of the Megafauna and also of our close relatives, the Neanderthals, ten thousand years ago, and reading of our continuing responsibility for the loss of various species of birds, bats, trees etc., I began to find the book depressing. Kolbert, however, is not a doom-monger. She pins her hope on "our restlessness, our creativity, our ability to co-operate to solve problems and complete complicated tasks". But at the same time she believes that we are now at the point of "deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed".

Kolbert's accounts of her travels, her descriptions of specific events and of particular animals and historical developments, are all good reading. The overall message, however, is clear: the Sixth Extinction is ongoing and it will change our world. Whether we will survive or not we don't know, but we should heed the warning of ecologist Paul Ehrlich, who wrote that "in pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches'.

The Wives of Los Alamos
TaraShea Nesbit
9781408847824, A$29.99, 230 pages
Bloomsbury Press USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620405031, $25.00, 240pp,

In 1943, nuclear physicist, J Robert Oppenheimer, was given the task of establishing a secret bomb-development laboratory in a remote, isolated location in America. He chose a Ranch School in Los Alamos, New Mexico, which the American government acquired for the purpose, and he set about recruiting a staff of highly qualified scientists.

Most of the scientists were men, most were married and their families were allowed to join them. Some were American, some British and some had been born in countries which were then being ravaged by war. To begin with, none of them knew exactly where they were going or what to expect when they got there.

For the men, the work was challenging and intensive and the hours were long, but they had a goal and a reason for being there. For their wives, the move meant an almost complete loss of identity and purpose. They left their homes, jobs, parents, family, friends, their social networks and connections, to move, initially, to an unknown location. They could not even tell their children where they were going, because they did not know themselves until they got there. The only address they could give to anyone was P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe. They arrived at a closely guarded, barbed-wire-surrounded area, where the small wooden buildings in which most of them were to live were still being built; where essential facilities like water and electricity were often restricted; and where all letters in and out were censored. For some of them, even their names were changed so that they sounded more American: Mrs Meuller became Mrs Miller.

The culture shock for all of them, and for their children, must have been immense and TaraShea Nesbit conveys vividly how they felt, what life was like for them, and how they adapted - or did not. Nesbit traces the women's lives from their first move to Los Alamos to their departure a few years later, and, briefly, what some of their lives were like in the following years. Her choice of the collective 'we' brings their experiences close, includes the reader in their lives, and makes everything feel personal. This style takes a little getting used to but it works well when she describes "our husbands", the difficulties "we" faced and the things "we" hated and loved, the new friendships "we" made, and the changes "we" saw in "our" children as they grew up. At times, however, it is awkward: "One night we found our husbands, or someone else's husband, sitting in the middle of the children's sand box...".

Oppenheimer and The General ((Leslie Groves), the scientists, the GI's (Los Alamos was a US Army establishment, although the scientists were civilians), the first detonation of the Atomic bomb - all these come alive in this book, so that the horrific news of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and its civilian populations is immensely moving. And the mixed reactions of "our husbands" to this news easily become part of our experience. Husbands, wives and, later on, grown-up children all respond to the development and use of the bomb in very different ways.

TaraShea Nesbit's imaginative empathy with the wives of Los Alamos and her skill in conveying their many experiences, thoughts and feelings makes this a remarkable and unusual first novel. She is certainly a writer to watch.

Terms & Conditions
Robert Glancy
9781408852217, A$29.99, 254 pages
Bloomsbury Press USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620406434, $26.00, 272pp,

Because Terms & Conditions is all about reading the small print, it comes with a title and advertising material replete with small-print footnotes. None of these are as enlightening as the footnotes in the book itself, but they warn you what to expect. And if you are short-sighted you may need to read this book with a magnifying glass handy, as there are often footnotes to the footnotes to the footnotes and the typeface gets progressively smaller as these progress.

This gimmick is essentially part of the story, since Frank Shaw, our narrator, is a corporate lawyer who specialises in the small-print Terms & Conditions on legal contracts. He is, he tells us, on one of the bottom rungs of his business: "the legal equivalent of the guy who sweeps up the hair in a barber's shop".

Frank, however, is expert at his job, even after losing his memory in a car crash, so he is indispensable to his brother who runs the family law firm, even if he doesn't initially recognise him. Nor does he recognise the other person sitting by his hospital bedside who, it seems, is his "alleged wife".

Robert Glacey's debut novel is carefully plotted, fresh and amusing. Frank is understandably confused and the gradual return of his memory reveals more to him than the bare facts of his pre-accident life. He learns things about himself as the "Old Frank", and things about his family, which he finds surprising and enlightening. He sees that Oscar, his brother, is manipulative, evil and "the most corrupt lawyer in London"; that Alice, the "lovely, messy, chaotic girl" he fell in love with has become, in her own words "a brilliant HR expert and change-enabler" who, in Frank's words, no longer speaks plain English but is fluent in "corporate cant"; and that Malcolm, his younger brother who sends him quirky e-mails from exotic places, had the right idea when he said "Fuck it!" to becoming a partner in the firm and walked off into the blue.

All the characters are lightly drawn and Frank, himself, is wryly funny and likeable, so much so that when he eventually exacts his delightful and appropriate revenge you feel like cheering, even if he can't resist one final footnote as he walks off wishing everyone "the best of luck and lots of love" *

* terms and conditions apply.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Compleat Acupuncturist
Peter Eckman, M.D., Ph.D., M.AC.
Singing Dragon
c/o Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781848191983 $49.95

Acupuncture is an alternative medical practice that has existed for thousands of years, involving stimulation of specific points on the skin with needles, heat, pressure, or other mean. Full-time acupuncturist of 40 years' experience Peter Eckman presents The Compleat Acupuncturist: A Guide To Constitutional and Conditional Pulse Diagnosis, an in-depth resource about the history, clinical details, traditional and modern practice of acupuncture. The Compleat Acupuncturist covers both traditional Chinese acupuncture, and the lesser-known practice of korean Constitutional Acupuncture, based on the author's years of personal study. A handful of black-and-white diagrams, a glossary, and an index round out this "must-have" for any layperson or professional intrigued to learn more about this enduring, inexpensive, and popular form of treatment. Highly recommended, especially for alternative medicine reference shelves.

Tales from the Dry Side
Christine Molloy
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478722090 $15.95

Sjogren's syndrome is a chronic autoimmune (and therefore non-contagious) illness that affects moisture-producing glands in the human body. An estimated four million Americans have it, although it is difficult to diagnose; often the symptoms are incorrectly classified as psychosomatic. Tales from the Dry Side: The Personal Stories Behind Autoimmune Illness Sjogren's Syndrome gathers true-life testimonies of day-to-day life with Sjogren's syndrome, from thirteen different individuals who share their life story of the long journey to diagnosis and treatment. "I've found that Sjogren's has made me learn to choose the most important activities. I've learned that people are more important than things... I've learned sign language and I work with a deaf/blind woman at church. Somehow, helping someone who has different problems than you do provides perspective." Highly recommended, especially as inspiration or fortification for anyone personally affected by a chronic illness.

Broken Wing
Anna Klay
Privately Published
9781482586527 $9.99 pbk. / $2.99 Kindle

Broken Wing is an original novel about the innately relentless cycle of domestic violence and abuse. Ray Long comes to the town of Pettington hoping to break free of horrific memories. He meets Skye Roosevelt, and believes his own lies denying the past. But the abuse Ray Long once suffered is still a part of him, and it gradually twists him into an abuser. Skye Roosevelt suffers an identity crisis as she struggled to protect herself and her son from Ray's inner demons. Is their any path to escape the endless, repeated suffering? Introspective and emotional, Broken Wing candidly portrays the harsh realities of deep physical and psychological wounds. Highly recommended.

Silent: The Power of Silence, revised edition
Gregory Nicholas Malouf
Epsilon Healing Academy Press
9780988863880 $23.95

Silent: The Power of Silence is a self-help guide that blends both practical wisdom and a metaphysical understanding of the healing power of collective souls and spirits. Chapters speak of learning to connect with oneself (Socrates command to "Know thyself" is as relevant today as it was millennia ago), "The Three L Rule" (Learn to Give, Learn to Accept, and Learn to Love), the power of conscious creation - learning how to perceive a new reality and bring it about - and much more. The books title refers to the treasure that is silence, which enables one to contemplate, concentrate, or meditate. "When does your mind stop for an instant in time to do nothing, think no thoughts, and truly rest in solitude and silence? Resting your mind in nothingness rests your body. A well-rested body finds its path to passion and lives with energy and vitality. A mind free of conditioned responses is a mind living consciously in the present moment that is capable of thinking creatively." Silent: The Power of Silence is a welcome addition to New Age shelves about empowerment and personal growth.

The Devil's Playground
Cynthia Sens
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491711835 $15.95

Book One of the Sapphire Staff Series, The Devil's Playground is a contemporary mystery-thriller with an air of the supernatural. Genealogist Mel Taylor is caught between memories of previous life's struggles in World War II, and the hard times of 2011. Then Mel's friend Jospeh begs for help to find his missing son. The search will take Mel on a journey through a labyrinth of diabolical past memories and remorseless present-day evidence, leading him to a rogue Nazi scientist and a relic of unimaginable power, hidden somewhere within the cornfields of Iowa. Suspenseful to the very end, The Devil's Playground is a fresh twist on a captivating genre, highly recommended.

It's Raining Tonight
Eralides E. Cabrera
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781477232507 $16.95

Practicing attorney Eralides E. Cabrera, who has lived in Cuba, Spain, and the U.S., presents It's Raining Tonight, an original novel about the obstacles and challenges of an interracial relationship. A young couple's love is tested by the difficulties of the modern world - from prejudice to economic hardship to differences in expectations, whether of each other or of society about them. A tale of courage, hope, and learning to work through mutual differences, It's Raining Tonight is a thoughtful, uplifting read.

Willis M. Buhle

Carson's Bookshelf

Teen Self Defense
Lieutenant Colonel Garry Klaus, USMC Ret.
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781491813508 $28.99

Retired marine Garry Klaus has studied martial arts under Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and American teachers since 1968. He shares his knowledge in Teen Self Defense, a handbook of self-defense techniques created especially to help teach teenagers and young adults. The techniques cover how to escape from holds and grapples, how to fight back when threatened with a gun or knife. Each technique is described at length, and illustrated with full-color photographs. Perhaps just as valuable is the practical-minded advice for remaining alert and aware of potential dangers during everyday life. "Be aware of your instincts! If a situation feels wrong, trust that feeling and leave! Sometimes this is nothing more than a feeling that something just is not right. Some people call it a sixth sense, others call it 'gut instinct'. Whatever you call it, it's usually a good idea to pay attention to it." Like all martial arts, Teen Self Defense needs to be practiced with partners, preferably under the guidance of a skilled teacher, for best effect; it's an excellent supplementary manual for self-defense courses.

One Man In His Time
William C. Prentiss
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781491824634 $23.95

Thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, One Man In His Time is the memoir of a man who spent a great deal of his life learning and working to help others. Born in 1932 during the Great Depression, author William C. Prentiss' childhood overlapped with World War II, and his efforts to serve included duty to the United States Air Force, grassroots work with the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern, and his 1976 foundation of a program to help youths referred by the Orange County Juvenile Court. Dubbed Operation Comeback, this programs was chosen by President Ronald Regan for the prestigious honor of the Volunteer Action Award. Prentiss has worked to help troubled youth not only professionally, as a college-level instructor in the areas of Adolescent Psychology and Juvenile Delinquency, but also personally; he and his wife have taken in seven troubled young men over the course of years. One Man In His Time is a thoughtful, vivid, and candid life story, highly recommended.

A River Divides
Michael J. Roueche
Vesta House Publishing
9780983756767 $17.99

2012 Cooke Fiction Award-winning author Michael J. Roueche presents A River Divides, book two in the Beyond the Wood series. Set in 1864, during the last throes of the American Civil War, the story follows Confederate widow Betsy Henderson, and runaway slave William searching for freedom and the opportunity to fight for the Union. A complex narrative about conflicted individuals struggling to be true to themselves and their beliefs, despite the harsh realities surrounding their lives, A River Divides is a sober, thoughtful, and expertly researched Civil War novel. Highly recommended.

Four Corners
Cary Smith
Privately Published
c/o The Barrett Company
9781492204084 $9.89 pbk. / $5.99 Kindle

Four Corners, or A Book That Will Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple is a no-holds-barred, sheer satirical look at daily life in high school. The author adopts the dubious persona of "Cary Smith" to narrate his tormentedly twisted narrative of pseudo-intellectual critics, frustrated dreams, overbearing peers, and highly crazed hyperbole. So real it must be grounded in personal experience, yet so wildly offbeat it can only come from a demented imagination, Four Corners resonates a chord with every reader who has suffered through the uncountable indignities of attempted to extract a secondary education, and is every bit as utterly unforgettable!

Michael J. Carson

Cheri's Bookshelf

Navigating the Bible: The 5-Minute Guide to Understanding God's Word (Illustrated Bible Handbook Series)
Christopher D. Hudson
Barbour Publishing Inc
1810 Barbour Drive Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781624167546, $12.99, 288 Pages,

We all struggle with reading the Bible. We as Christians want a clearer understanding and we know we should read it more but in frustration we give up feeling as a failure. We don't need to struggle anymore. "Navigating the Bible: The 5-Minute Guide to Understanding God's Word" is an outstanding compliment Bible handbook to our Bible reading. Broken down into five minute bites we can get a clearer picture and understanding of God's Word. We have all the information we need at our fingertips. We have an introduction, timeline, a who's who cast of characters and more. Most important to note is the five minute overviews making it perfect for devotional time. All this makes studying God's word fun and exciting no more frustrations!

Hudson has done an amazing job with this unique concise Bible handbook. With most study guides we deal with the same confusion as reading the Bible. "Navigating the Bible is perfectly laid out with no guessing what the Word has to say. This is by far the best Bible handbook ever written! Highly recommended for adults and teenagers with bright bold pictures there is no way to lose interest. Whether read alone or with the Bible this is a must have in any Christian home.

Heaven and Hell: Are They Real?
Christopher D. Hudson
Thomas Nelson Publishers
501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214
9781401680251, 288 Pages $12.99, paperback
B00GUTATIS, 277 Pages $7.99, digital,

The belief of heaven and hell changes from person to person even from Christian to Christian. But here is the truth clearly to set the record straight. Not only do we learn if they exist but what we can expect. Whatever questions you may have the answers are here. The book is divided into two parts the first being on heaven. All our questions are answered such as what happens after death, what life will be like in heaven and what will heaven look like. In part two we learn about hell with answers to questions like is hell a choice, why there is a hell and what will hell be like.

Outstandingly written Hudson has included information from all the greats C.S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, John McArthur, R. C. Sproul, God Himself plus many, many more. There is not a better book on the subject as you have all the information ever needed put into one book. Easy to read without the usual commentary lingo usually found on these subjects and concise being less than three hundred pages. Excellent study guide to read with your Bible to see what God says or read alone as an in depth look at heaven and hell. Highly recommend for teens and adults, Christian or non-Christian. Also would make an excellent ministry tool to reach the unsaved. This book is so outstanding it should be on every Christian's bookshelf but on their e-reader too to be referenced again and again.

Cheri Clay

Gail's Bookshelf

I've Never Been to Vegas, But My Luggage Has
Mandy Hale
Thomas Nelson Publishers
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9781400205257, $15.99,

Author and blogger Mandy Hale, affectionately known as The Single Woman releases her second book, "I've Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has" March 11th. It's both a serious and humorous account of Mandy's "wrong turns, humiliating flops and painful breakups" that taught her life doesn't always work out as planned because "God has a greater plan at work."

She captures her take on the singles life with a dash of humor, sprinkles of wisdom and inspirational quotes on her blog and in her books. Due to her massive global presence on Facebook and Twitter Mandy has a "built-in" platform for anything she writes, from books to The Single Woman's blog. Not to mention more than a half million Twitter followers.

Mandy's Twitter handle @TheSingleWoman was voted one of the top ten Nashville Twitter handles by Nashville Business Journal, who also identified her as a "Woman of Influence." While the Huffington Post considers Mandy a "Twitter Passionista" with a voice of empowerment for women.

Yet it took a long road of self-discovery to become that woman where "the ashes of the girl" she once was became the "diamond" God intended her to be. Her journey would include a miraculous healing doctor's couldn't explain and a baptism "that penetrated her heart" unlike her first immersion.

That baptism spurred a newfound walk with God at a charismatic church where a prophetic minister called her forward and said, "I see you one day speaking into the lives of many young women." That was "a full decade" before "The Single Woman" came into being, writes Mandy.

Meanwhile dating gave her more questions than answers and prompted her to "kiss dating goodbye" for five years in favor of courtship where singles put romance on hold, "hang out in groups together and get to know one another as friends."

Mandy's fresh, sometimes sassy voice engages readers emotionally since many struggle with issues she writes about. From her poignant descriptions of loneliness to hopes being dashed when a current love interest doesn't meet expectations or struggles with anxiety and depression.

However, one of the best chapters, Mandy's abusive relationship experience, reveals the unrecognized danger and subtle development of abuse until it can no longer be ignored. This segment provides insight into the abuser as well as the abused and the courage it takes to walk away.

Mandy's vulnerability, genuine honesty and multiple "foot-in-mouth" experiences reveal her unique ability to laugh and continue in spite of embarrassing moments. Her words make it clear she's sold out to the Lord as she gives him credit for her success and talent to encourage and inspire single women.

For a two minute preview: I've Never Been to Vegas... in Mandy's own words.

Join Mandy's new release launch team and receive a free digital copy.

The Shepherd's Song: A Story of Second Chances
Betsy Duffey & Laurie Myers
Howard Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
216 Centerview Dr., Ste. 303, Nashville, TN 37027
9781476738208, $19.99,

The "Writing Sisters," Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, penned The Shepherd's Song, scheduled to release March 11th, around a prayer drenched Psalm from the Old Testament. It's an inspirational narrative of chance and change that "links lives and hearts with it's simple but beautiful message."

The story begins with Kate McConnell, a wife and mother who regains consciousness to hear the ambulance medic give a "critical assessment" of her vital signs to the emergency room doctors. In coming days newspapers would report Kate was part of the "worst traffic accident ever on I-95 between Washington D.C. and Baltimore," that involved "twenty-five cars, six semis and one bus."

Kate's last memory was "the sounds of breaking glass and crunching metal" then a "crushing pain in her chest and down her right leg" before she lost consciousness. When she came to in the ambulance she felt restraints on her wrists as blood pooled beneath her. The medic's calm transmission of vital signs made her wonder if she was going to die and she prayed, "Please, let my life count."

While the ambulance sped toward the hospital Kate remembered carefully copying Psalm 23 onto the scrap of paper she slipped into her son Matt's coat pocket, hoping he would read it. She had prayed long "over each phrase" she wrote, then had forgotten to take the paper from Matt's coat pocket when she left the coat to be cleaned.

That's what prompted her to go back. Kate couldn't know how God would use her carefully, prayerfully scripted words in the weeks ahead. Thus begins a story within stories of lives forever changed as Kate's handwritten scrap of paper travels around the globe. Through a narrative that begins with Kate and ends with Kate, her son Matt and husband, John among other brief narratives sandwiched in between.

Readers meet Chris, an employee of the cleaners who emptied Matt's coat pocket and read the first verse of Psalm 23 - I shall not want that brought the unexpected into his life. Then there's Private Johnson, a veteran in therapy with Doctor Mitchell, who's frozen in a life-changing moment of combat who reads the words from verse two - He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Or Nadia in Turkey, whose brother translated the Psalm as their family ran from the "horror of war." While the Haboob, a stinging sandstorm, adding meaning to verse three - He leads me beside still waters. These and many more richly drawn narratives reveal people powerfully changed by Kate's prayer filled words from the most beloved Psalm in the Bible.

Although the book is a quick read, the stories important message teaches God uses what might be considered our most insignificant words, gestures and actions to affect the lives of others. It might be as simple as smiling at a stranger, giving a tip of the hat or the wink of an eye. Or taking the time to make that phone call, fix a meal for someone or sending a card just to say, "I'm thinking of you." If you, like Kate, wonder whether your life has meaning "The Shepherd's Song" is a must read.

The Auschwitz Escape
Joel Rosenberg
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414336244, $26.99,

The Auschwitz Escape, scheduled to release March 18, unlike Joel Rosenberg's other novels, is an inspired work of historical fiction based on the "greatest escape of all time," writes Rosenberg. It's the story of two men sentenced to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps who escape to warn the world of what the "final solution" really means - death in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Gas Chamber. They carry with them documents the world would come to know as the Auschwitz Protocols.

The riveting, multi-layered story includes an idealistic young man, a pastor, German Jews and the men and women of France who sacrificed to save them. Although a narrative of death, grim persecution and heartbreak, moments of hope inspired heroism are riveting. The story begins in 1940's France, where, writes Rosenberg, no one realizes "Evil unchecked is the prelude to genocide."

Jacob, one of the main characters, is an underground freedom fighter involved in "a rescue operation that went horribly wrong." While some of the Jewish prisoners escaped the trains cattle car, Jacob remains trapped inside with those who didn't escape. Pastor Luc, the other main character, is arrested by the Gestapo, beaten and sentenced to Auschwitz for "helping Jews" escape. Their riveting story plays out against the concentration camp of Auschwitz.

Rosenberg adds realism with historical facts, such as Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order 9417 "for the rescue and relief of victims of enemy oppression." And the burning of German Jewish poet, Christian Johann Heinrich Heine books in 1933. Who had written "wherever they burn books, in the end will also burn human beings."

Rosenberg's realistic characterizations and nail-biting events enhance a segment of history few lived to tell about with a fictionalized account of courage and faith that reveals the resilience of the human spirit. "The Auschwitz Escape," thought-provoking, unforgettable and guaranteed not to disappoint.

Water Walker: Outlaw Chronicle Series, Book 2
Ted Dekker
Worthy Publishing
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
9781617952746, $14.99,

"Water Walker," book two in Ted Dekker's "Outlaw Chronicles," releases March 18 from

Worthy Publishing Group who acquired the print rights. The suspenseful narratives of redemption and forgiveness makes clear why "Library Journal" considers this author a master of suspense.

It's the story of thirteen-year-old Alice Ringwald, a foster child with amnesia. Her memories begin six months ago and it's as if she didn't exist before that. In those months she'd been tested many times, told she had a high IQ and speaks like an adult with an unusual ability to absorb new information intuitively. Yet, the counselor she sees once a week tells her she's also naive and trusts without question, much like a child.

Alice only knows she's different in a way no one can explain which makes her feel weird, like she doesn't fit in anywhere. She must have had parents but she doesn't know who they were, where she once lived or even if she went to school. No one has answers and she has too many "why" questions. Until one night, four months after moving into the foster home of John and Louise Clark, Alice answers the door and "stares up into the blue eyes of a man who claims to be her father."

Thus begins a "modern day parable" that takes readers on an unforgettable, mind-bending journey that keeps them guessing from beginning to end. From Kathryn, a mother everyone thought dead, to Wyatt, a submissive father who does what he's told. To FBI agent Olivia Strauss, obsessed with a case that reminds her of Michelle, her kidnapped daughter who was murdered, to April herself, who learns her real name is Eden.

Add a rich senator, a large inheritance, bizarre and strange ritualistic behaviors, a cult-like life of captivity; Stephen the "Outlaw" who gives "secret words" and this suspense filled thriller, based on choices, consequences and spiritual warfare is one only Dekker could write.

I especially liked Dekker's writing Alice's chapters from her point-of-view with the rest of the story in third person. By the time I finished I realized he had returned to his earlier style of writing that made such a huge impact on the Christian publishing world and brought him thousands of fans. If you mystery and suspense this is not a book to miss! I'm also looking forward to reading Hacker, book three, scheduled to release June 10, 2014.

52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times
Diana Savage
Harvest House
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
9780736956604, $11.99,

Professional editor, author and encouraging mentor, Diana Savage penned, "52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times," a book of hope filled meditations served up with a dash of humor. Intimate with loss and grief, this Washington native now encourages others with the encouragement she received that she now writes about on her popular heartlifters blog. Where readers can also read sample chapters of this book.

Diana begins with a description of what a "heart lifter" is, such as a smile, wink, nod or tip of the hat, small gestures that remind recipients "we're not alone on life's journey." Her warm humor, God-blessed wisdom and insightful understanding shine through each meditation.

The book, divided into four segments includes:

"Choosing our Outlook" - what our minds dwell on determines our destiny. Or like Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "We become what we think about all day long."

"Living Miraculously" - belief in miracles and believing God for miracles. Or like the French proverb says, "There are no miracles for those that have no faith in them."

"Participating Joyfully" - centers on trusting God. Believing God has a plan and purpose for your life and has your "best interests at heart."

"Pursuing Possibilities" illustrates how a victim mentality, incorrect assumptions and misconceptions "shackle" and hinder pursuit of "new possibilities" in life.

Fifty-two scripture themed meditations include a Bible verse, a light-hearted anecdote or other illustration of the selected scripture theme and conclude with prayer. These brief devotions are perfect for time-challenged readers.

Diana's book of "52 Heartlifters" is especially good for anyone suffering from loss, disappointment, or a sense of failure in our fast-paced world. The book would also be an excellent choice for a friend or family member in need of hope and encouragement.

The Love Languages Devotional Bible
Dr. Gary Chapman
Moody Publishers
820 North LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802408532, $29.99,

Dr. Gary Chapman, noted counselor, relationship expert and author of, "Five Languages of Love" that teaches language of love concepts adds his practical and helpful devotions to the NLT version of "Love Languages Devotional Bible." It's a perfect choice for couples of all ages with readings that apply "text to real-life relationships and deepens couples' understanding of God and of each other."

His devotions are a perfect addition to this translation, already appreciated for its straightforward approach and "clear, dynamic writing style," which can also be said of Dr. Chapman's teachings and devotions.

Dr. Chapman's devotions focus on different aspects of relationships, enhanced by a topical, "relationship oriented" index of relevant Bible verses and devotional themes. Bible books start with summaries that note the author, time frame and overall theme of the book. Three easy-to-follow reading plans are also included:

"Read through the Bible in one year"

"Getting to know God"

"Growing your faith."

More than 260 devotions touch on communication issues, gender roles, conflict, finances, children, guilt, manipulation, confession, forgiveness and more. For example the devotion on "Temper, Temper" cites the example of Moses who struck the rock in anger instead of trusting the Lord to do what He promised. (Numbers 20:1-13).

The reading illustrates anger has negative consequences, while acting in love neutralizes a hostile situation. Examples of provocative situations, recommended responses and suggestions for prayer complete the devotion. The "if you have more time" segment offers extra relevant scriptures and questions.

Since weekends are busy times for couples and families, the 52 "weekend studies" are intentionally short, contain supplementary scriptures, several questions and a "challenge" to consider and discuss. Besides a "powerful, life-changing resource," devotions and reading plans encourage individuals and couples to read the Bible.

Dr. Chapman also provides free study guides on the love languages of marriage, parenting, teens and children. To listen to why Dr. Gary Chapman believes this Bible is good for all ages, click on the link, or visit Dr. Gary Chapman.

Gail Welborn

Gary's Bookshelf

Nathan's Run
John Gilstrap
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786028276, $6.79,

"Nathan's Run" is a suspenseful nail biting thriller that starts on a high plateau and races to a final crashing finish. Twelve year old Nathan Bailey does not have an easy life. He is thrown into juvenile detention because of the system, he then fights for his very existence and has to kill an officer of the court. Knowing the authorities will not listen because of what he has had to deal with so far, he runs way from the detention center. There is no one he can turn to, but there are those who do help him fight to tell his side of the story. Nathan's Run" is more than a good novel because it has a lot to say about how the juvenile and adult criminal court systems are failing the people of this country

Owl Goingback
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781596074255, $6.95,

Stop what you are reading and pick up a copy of "Breed" by Owl Goingback. Something is on a killing spree in old St. Augustine and detective Jack Colvin of the St, Augustine Police Department is on the case. Until this occurrence Colvin thought he had seen it all. An ancient Indian chief spirit contacts St. Augustine tour guide Ssabra Omith because she is part Cherokee Indian, about the murders. He wants her to contact the police. When she talks to Colvin and tells him that a Wican priestess from Cassadaga, Florida opened a door for an evil spirit to attempt to crossover and mate with beings of this existence, he shows very little interest in what he's been told. He thinks Ssabra is just too weird to believe. Later when he hears from another source the same information, he begins to allow himself to realize that he is not dealing with something human but that the killer is something supernatural. Goingback known for his three other tales of horror that involve Native American folklore is on solid ground with the spirits that frequent this novel. He is also in new territory with telling the many interesting facets of the legends and lore of America's oldest city, St. Augustine. Owl Goingback is one of the finest horror writers writing today.

Return to Sender
Les and Sue Fox
West Highland Publishing Company
9780964698604, $49.95 new, used $0.01 to,

Unlike many other books about the King, "Return to Sender" is a fun what it story that is written by fans of Elvis and in no way damages his image. In 1995 a young man named Jamie Randolph who reminds people of Elvis Presley inherits $4 million dollars anonymously. Not content to just take the money, Randolph tracks down a strange set of clues dating back to 1973 that lead directly to Elvis himself. The authors fill their tale with enough twists and turns, interesting characters and situations to please any reader of mystery novels as well as the millions of Elvis fans.

Bimbos of the Death Sun
Sharyn McCrumb
Fawcett Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345412157, $3.97

"Bimbos of the Death Sun" falls into the category of mystery fiction, but science fiction fans will have a very good time with it. The novel takes place at Rubicon, a science fiction convention. One of the guest authors is killed. The mystery is finding out who would want to kill him, and why. Half the fun of this novel is reading about the numerous people who also attend this convention. Rubicon is surely the most memorable gathering of science fiction fans ever to be written about. "Bimbos of the Death Sun" is great fun.

Richard Bach
Dell Books
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440205623 $7.19,

"One" is an interesting blend of fantasy, sf, and a love story. Bach and his wife take of in their small plane and have adventures back in time with themselves. The writing is sharp and races along to a grand conclusion. "One" is one of Bach's best novels.

Island of Tears
Troy Soos
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9781576667683, $19.50,

"Island of Tears" is far different from all of Troy Soos's other books. This time the work has nothing to do with baseball. The novel takes place in the 1890s in New York when America opened Ellis Island, involving corrupt police, immigration and a murder. The writing is very easy with characters that are realistic while the description of the time period is very educational. "Island of Tears" is a great novel to read and enjoy

Mystery in the Sunshine State
Edited by Stuart Kaminsky
Pineapple Press
P. O Box 3889, Sarasota, Fl 34230
9781561641855, $14.95,

Some of the tales are a bit weird while others are great mysteries, but all are by authors who live in Florida. Some of the names are Robert W. Walker, Les Standiford, Edna Buchanan, Harold Q. Masur, and 18 other writers. "Mystery in the Sunshine State" is a fine collection of stories of the State of Florida.

The Dollar Collar
Ed L'Heureux Jr.
Sabal Palm Press
P.O. Box 756 Goldenrod, Fl 32733
978096161634100, $4.00,

"The Dollar Collar" is the first collection by the author of "Clay Of Vases. The 13 short stories are about suburbia and set the tone of life in America. Two of the best stories are "The Blade" in which a man makes a new friend when he takes his lawnmower in for repair, and "Passing at the Beach" where a couple finds out the value of a walk at the beach. Other stories in this collection show that this author is gifted and his writing ranks in the class of a John Cheever or John Updike. "The Dollar Collar" is a wonderful collection of short stories.

Where Garagiola Waits
Rick Wilber
University of Tampa Press
401 Kennedy Blvd, Tampa 33606
9781879852617, $24.95,

"Where Garagiola Waits is a collection of writings about the national pastime game of baseball with an SF slant as well as editorials, articles, and poetry. Wilber even tells some stories that involve his father Del who played the game in the 1950's, in a what if universe that brings together some of the best ball players from different generations. 'The short stories appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and used bits and pieces of my history with the game, blending them with fictional elements to tell the story at hand. Most of what you'll find in the short stories isn't true of course, at least not in the way it's used in the story. But fiction writers write about what they know and lie to fill in the rest...Writing is a lonely business in most cases, but when I write about baseball I get e mail, phone calls, letters. People really read these stories and they care. I find that strange and wonderful." "Where Garagiola Waits" is a great baseball book for any fan of the game.

The Andy Griffith Show Book
Ken Beck and Jim Clark
St Martins Press
175 Fifth, New York, NY 10010
9780312661770, $15.99,

"The Andy Griffith Show Book" is another fine book for fans of the show. Unlike the Richard Kelly account of "The Andy Griffith Show, this one focuses on the town of Mayberry, instead of the actor. This is the only history of the people, city, and other good little tidbits of the fictitious town of Mayberry, U.S.A. No fan of the show should miss this great book.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

How the Light Gets In
Louise Penny
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781312655471, $25.99, Hardcover, 404 pp,

The newest novel in the Chief Inspector Gamache series is perhaps the finest yet, which is high praise indeed. As the book opens, Gamache, head of homicide at the Surete de Quebec, has become increasingly isolated. Now "on the far side of fifty," after three decades in the department the only one of his original investigators left is Isabel Lacoste, the rest having been either transferred out on their own or moved by Gamache's nemesis, Chief Superintendent Francoeur, the most senior cop in Queec. But that situation has to take a back seat when he is called by Myrna Landers, the woman who owns the bookstore in the village of Three Pines, concerned when a friend who had just spent a few days there visiting, promising as she left that she would return shortly for the Christmas holidays. The enigmatic woman, Constance Pineault, had not returned, and Myrna, worried about her, asks Gamache to investigate. Therein lie the seeds of the ensuing parallel investigations. The rest of the novel concerns itself with murders and intrigues, both plentiful, going back over decades. Along the way we learn a great deal about lesser-known aspects of Canadian history, some more shameful than one might expect.

Gamache discovers that Constance, 77 years old, was in fact Constance Ouellet, the lone surviving member of quintuplets who had become world-famous upon their birth in the time of the Great Depression. She had for years hidden that identity and lived under her mother's maiden name to avoid the spotlight that had always followed her. (The author admits to having been "inspired" by the real-life Dionne quintuplets, born in that same era many years ago.)

All the residents of the village are present, and the many fans of the series will welcome them: Myrna, a large black woman who had been a practicing psychologist; Ruth Zardo, an eccentric, award-winning poet, and Rosa, her beloved pet duck; Gabri and Olivier, the lovers who run the bistro and the B&B; Clara Morrow, an artist and portraitist; as well as Henri, Gamache's German shepherd. Crucial but present only on the fringes of the tale is Jean-Guy Beauvoir, formerly Gamache's second in command and engaged to his daughter but now in the throes of a terrible addiction to painkillers after the life-threatening wounds sustained during the traumatic events which closed the prior book in the series. Suffice it to say that I found myself literally holding my breath in the final pages.

The writing is never less than elegant. This book is going from my hands into those of my granddaughter, a big fan of Ms. Penny's writing and a resident of Montreal from the time she started her college career at McGill University in that city as well as since her graduation, which I know will give her an even deeper appreciation of the book than my own.

As usual, the author from time to time includes snippets of poetry (mostly courtesy of Crazy Ruth), one such giving us the title of the novel: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." And the meaning of that couldn't be clearer by the end of this novel, which can only be called simply terrific. And highly recommended.

The Set-Up Man
T.T. Monday
Doubleday & Company
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385538459, $24.95, Hardcover, 272 pp,

The book is equal parts mystery and baseball. There is enough action in both aspects to keep the reader involved and turning pages quickly. Johnny Adcock is a terrific protagonist. He is a no-longer-young baseball player, 35 to be exact, thirteen years in the big leagues, his assigned role, as the title would suggest, to come into a game in the eighth inning, primarily to face left-handed hitters (as he is a southpaw himself), and retire them. Divorced and with a teenage daughter, his significant other is Bethany, a partner in a venture-capital firm who Johnny describes as the most intelligent woman he has ever met.

Johnny's side job, so to speak, is as an investigator, which primarily involves "cheating spouses, paternity threats, nothing bloody or life-threatening." Until now, that is. He is approached one night by Frankie Herrera, the 25-year-old backup catcher for the Bay Dogs of San Jose, California, who tells him that he has a "problem with his wife." Very shortly thereafter, Frankie is found dead after an apparent auto accident. His widow believes it was not an accident, and hires Johnny to find out who killed her husband. The ensuing investigation embroils Johnny in matters of murder, porn, Mexican cartels, and other assorted intrigue.

Timing is everything, they say, and my reading this debut novel by T.T. Monday on the eve of the new baseball season couldn't have been more perfectly timed. "The Set-Up Man" is a good mystery, with heavy doses of humor despite some of the darker aspects, and contains an abundance of terrific baseball lore and references. One doesn't have to be a baseball addict to enjoy the novel (although, to be fair and in the spirit of full disclosure, I am exactly that). Not a no-hitter, perhaps, but a solid performance, especially from a rookie. This is a very entertaining book, on any level, and it is recommended.

Helsinki Blood
James Thompson
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425264614, $15.00,Paperback, 341 pp,

Inspector Kari Vaara, of the National Bureau of Investigation, the protagonist in this series, in which this is the fourth entry, has a reputation as a "hero cop," having been shot more than once in the line of duty and decorated for bravery both times, and possessed of "annoying incorruptibility." In the prior book in the series, "Helsinki White," he was offered, and accepted, a job running a black-ops unit in his native Helsinki, using crime to fight crime with hand-selected (and admittedly sociopathic) cohorts, his "brothers in arms, brothers in blood."

The book opens a very short time after the events described in the last book. Kari is still recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor, the unsettling after-effects of which, while now lessening, were psychological/emotional rather than physical. As I wrote about that book, his motives were primarily altruistic: "I took this job and started this illegal operation after being promised that it was for the purpose of helping people" specifically "young women being forced into the slave trade and prostitution. (A welcome by-product of bringing those criminals to justice was the ten million euros he had "liberated" from a faked blackmailer, aiding his present efforts.)

Those are still his primary motivations, especially when he is approached by a woman who begs him to find her 19-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, who has been duped and is being held against her will with an intended future as a prostitute. He believes that "if I could truly save this one girl, in some tiny way, it would justify all I've done. It wouldn't make things right or restore balance to my inner world, but the symbolism would be there, proof that doing good is possible for me." And maybe get his wife back: Vaara's life, mind and body are in shambles, only made worse when his wife of two years, shattered by the events in the prior book and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, has left him, and their baby daughter, and sought refuge (ironically) with her drug-addicted brother in Miami. Honor-bound "to the concept of duty, that sacrifice for the good of others is not only laudable, but expected, especially when it comes to family," he is determined to see that justice is again served, even after his investigation soon reveals that some very important people are involved, to his, and his family's, peril. This book, as readers of the prior books in the series know, is not for the faint of heart.

It is, however, recommended.

The Dead Place
Stephen Booth
Witness Impulse
c/o Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062302021, $15.99 pb, Kindle & Nook e-book,

The newest book in this deservedly popular series by Stephen Booth, first published in the US in 2007, brings back Detective Constable Ben Cooper and his partner, Detective Sergeant Diane Fry. While Fry is investigating creepy phone calls received by the police from an obviously deranged person speaking through a voice changer and referring to deaths which have not yet taken place, in addition to the disappearance of a young woman from a car park, Cooper is trying to identify, with the help of a forensic artist who has done a facial reconstruction, a woman whose body has been found lying in a wooded area apparently more than a year after her death.

The anonymous phone caller is obsessed with death, and the subject permeates every corner of this book. Part of one phone call: "I can smell it right now, can't you? ...It's the scent of death." And indeed death in all its aspects becomes palpable - to the police and the reader in turn, the thanatologist who volunteers to assist the police as a consultant only enhancing the effect. Diane muses: "...there must be many ways of shutting out the sight of death passing by, or pretending it didn't exist." But the caller, again, insists: "To most people, death is a dirty secret, a thing of shame, the last taboo. To me, it's completion, the perfect conclusion." On the other hand, Ben "knew that he'd have to face up to his own death some time. Like most people, he'd always thought he could avoid it forever. And perhaps he'd read too many stories in which people didn't die. Instead, they passed away, breathed their last, or were no more. In polite conversation, death was skated over rapidly, like thin ice." Cryptic clues are contained in the phone calls, which exhort the police and tells them that all they have to do is find "the dead place." It becomes a race against time as the police attempt to discover the identity of the caller, and of his next victim.

A psychological thriller of the first order, "The Dead Place" is filled with atmospheric detail and a complex plot. Fry and Cooper are wonderfully drawn characters with whom the reader becomes more involved with each new novel by Mr. Booth. Highly recommended.

S.J. Bolton and Sharon Bolton
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250-042231,$15.99, Paperback, 400 pp,

The current obsession of Barney Roberts, a bright young boy with OCD, is something with which many in London are currently preoccupied: Five boys his age had disappeared in the last five weeks in South London, where Barney himself lives, their bodies turning up soon afterwards with their throats cut. And as the book opens, the bodies are being found more and more quickly, the killer seemingly escalating. Barney's den is covered with posters, maps and photographs about each boy, his kidnapping, and his death.

The police investigation is headed up by D.I. Dana Tulloch, of Lewisham's Major Investigation Team. Sure of only one thing, that the killings will continue, they have no clues. And someone, perhaps the killer, is taunting them online. On the periphery of the investigation is D.C. Lacey Flint, still recovering from the horrific event of her last case, in the aftermath of which she is still seeing a psychiatrist twice a week, fighting her own demons, unsure of whether or not she still wants to remain a policewoman.

Barney is the youngest of a small group of kids (five boys and one girl) who are brave, and foolhardy, enough to do some investigating of their own. He also happens to live next door to Lacey Flint. One day he works up the nerve to ask her to help him find his mother, who apparently left several years ago, when he was four years old, and he is determined to track her down, going so far as to use all his meager wages working for a newsagent to run anonymous classified ads in very methodically and geographically plotted newspapers in London and beyond.

The novel is but the newest of several suspenseful books from this author, and characters, plotting and tension seen in her prior work are fully present here. The reader is never more than guessing at the possible identity of the killer, as are the detectives whose work is detailed here, knowing that if they do not succeed another boy will die. Obsession is a constant theme. This is another winner from S.J. Bolton, and is recommended.

Graveyard of Memories
Barry Eisler
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
276 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10001
9781477818169, $14.95, Paperback, 322 pp.

A prequel to the thriller series whose protagonist is John Rain, assassin for hire, this new novel takes place in Tokyo in 1972. Rain, recently returned from combat duty in Vietnam and Cambodia and having left the military under a cloud, barely 20 years old, he finds a job of sorts as a CIA bagman. Rain is half American and half Japanese; after his father was killed in street riots in Tokyo in 1960, when Rain was eight years old, his mother brought him to the US, where he stayed until her death, at which time he joined the military. His beloved Suzuki motorcycle has been dubbed "Thanatos," which he felt was "appropriate after what I'd done in the war."

After a series of incidents which trigger "combat reflexes shaped in the jungle," and initially at least through no fault on his part, Rain finds that "something about my demeanor . . . was suddenly making everyone swoon for my apparent potential as a contract killer," and so the Rain we have come to know and love is born. Rain also displays a sentimental side: "My past and everyone part of it sundered, irretrievable, accessible to me now only as painful and haunted memories, some still sharp, some increasingly indistinct . . . But with sufficient exposure, you get acclimated to anything, killing included." And ultimately there is "the smooth,ineluctable symmetry of fate."

The author manages to inject humor into a tale that is, unexpectedly, almost dispassionate, not as dark or graphic as might have been the case in lesser hands, despite the high body count. And the mantra throughout: "Sometimes there's just what you can do, and what you can't." By book's end, Rain is forced to enter a self-imposed exile and starts a decade of life as a fugitive.

Highly recommended.

Don't Ever Look Back
Daniel Friedman
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250027566, $24.99/28.99 CA, Hardcover, 304 pp.,

This book is the second by Daniel Friedman featuring Baruch "Buck" Schatz, an 88-year-old Jewish ex-cop from Memphis, Tennessee, self-described as "grumpy more for sport than out of necessity" but more recently as "a crippled retiree living in a rest home." He has had to sell his house and move with his wife of 65 years into an "Assisted Life-Style Community for Older Adults" after having been shot and severely beaten in the first book, "Don't Ever Get Old." During his 35 years as a cop he had shot thirty-one men and beaten an equally impressive number, but was "famously incorruptible." He still carries a blackjack, which he named "Discretion," and as he says, he "exercised my Discretion liberally."

He still carries the scars, physically and mentally, of his days in Auschwitz as a child, of his father's murder when a young boy, and his son's death seven years ago. Also returning here is Buck's grandson, a law school grad named William Tecumseh Schatz, whose nickname is Tequila (apparently a frat thing) - the last name of course being pronounced "Shots." (Of his grandson, Buck says "Maybe because he was family, I disliked him less than most other people.") The tale takes place in 2009, but is equal parts flashbacks to 1965, a time when racism and anti-Semitism were endemic, and when the seeds of the events taking place in 2009 were sown. A lot of history from that earlier time, much of it unfamiliar to this reader, is included. The intricate plot spins out after Buck receives a visit from an old nemesis, who offers him what appears to be a bribe, which Buck of course refuses. But more importantly, it appears that the man intends to rob a local bank. And Buck can't allow that to happen, not in his town. The events that follow are alternately shocking and very, very funny.

Interspersed from time to time are brief passages from Buck's notebook of "Things I Don't Want to Forget" (primary among which is a reminder that "paranoia is the first symptom of dementia in the elderly," important for him to remember since paranoia seems to be recurring with worrisome frequency). These are often more like ruminations than part of any story, but they are intrinsic to knowledge of the man, as well as occasional historical details. As Buck says, "you just write down the stuff you want to remember, leave out the rest of it, and keep pushing yourself forward on a walker or in a wheelchair or with anything that can keep you moving."

The author does not shy away from the occasional difficult and wrenching truths. As was the first book in what one hopes is a series, this novel is alternately laugh-out-loud funny, often poignant, frequently touching, and with a totally unexpected ending, the book is recommended.

Don't Look For Me
Loren Estleman
c/o Tor-Forge Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765331212, $24.99, Hardcover, 288 pp,

"Don't look for me" is the entire content of a handwritten note left for the newest client of Amos Walker, to wit: a full partner in an investment company "with gray temples and an office with a view of two countries" - - that would be the US and Canada - - whose wife, 14 years her junior, has disappeared for the second time in the six years they've been married Her husband suspects anything from her having left him for a younger man to having met with foul play.

Mr. Estleman is the author of over 70 novels, and this is the 23rd entry in the series. Walker, a former cop who carries an honorary sheriff's star, is now a private detective renowned for finding missing persons. There is immediate evidence of the author's trademark wit, to which the new client responds: "The humor I can take or let alone." Not so the reader. His descriptions of several characters are exquisite portraits. Of his new client's choice of attire: "a suit the color and approximate weight of ground fog," and of the man himself, "If he was so rich, why wasn't he smart?" The superintendent of his building was "on the tattered outer edge of middle age." Inspector John Alderdyce, of the Homicide division of the Detroit Police Department, who he'd known "longer than anyone living," and who is Walker's "bane and salvation, . . . looks like a grizzly bear carved with a chainsaw from a living oak."

Walker soon realizes that "a simple missing-persons case had turned into something else, like most things in a bad dream." It ultimately involves the Detroit Mafia, a porno film studio, and a 'Dragon Lady' nemesis of Walker, "a psychopath with a two hundred IQ and more liquid assets than an emirate . .. ten times smarter than I am and twice as insane. Make that three times."

A fast-paced and consistently witty entry in this terrific series, it is highly recommended.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You
Paula Daly
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802121622, $24.00, Hardcover, 312 pp,

This stunning debut novel from Paula Daly is a breathtaking tale of ostensibly normal lives torn asunder. Lisa Kallisto, who runs an animal shelter, lives in a small village holding 260 houses in the English Lake district. Just a few days before Christmas, her best friend's thirteen-year-old daughter disappears, and the only thing more horrifying to Lisa is the fact that it appears to have been her fault. The author makes palpable the guilt which wracks the overworked and overwhelmed mother of three. And apparently this is not the first adolescent girl in the area to have been kidnapped, nor is she the last. As Lisa says: "There is nothing as bad as a missing child. Nothing at all."

The investigation is headed up by D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. Both women are in their late thirties, and the author focuses much of the book on these two women, wonderfully well-drawn, as are the other characters. The book is not as dark as one might expect, dealing as it does with such perverted acts. It is certainly suspenseful. Not edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, perhaps, at least until Day 4.

As the tale comes to a close, what came to mind was my mother's old adage: One never knows what goes on behind someone else's closed doors. And everyone has a secret (or two). I read this book in a little more than 24 hours, and it is highly recommended.

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Gallery Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451635553, $26.00, Hardcover, 390 pp,

This book is the newest entry in the Butch Karp/Marlene Ciampi series. Karp is the District Attorney for New York County, ably assisted by Special Assistant D.A. Ray Guma ("the Italian Stallion," whose significant other is Darla Milquetost, Karp's receptionist) and Detective Sergeant Clay Fulton of the NYPD. Marlene, his wife and the mother of their twin sons, is the former head of the DA's sex crime bureau and a defense attorney/p.i., now devoting most of her time volunteering at a women's shelter.

The plot involves criminality on various levels, from corruption to embezzlement to murder, among the leaders of the New York dockworkers union. When a well-respected and high-ranking member is killed, Marlene investigates on behalf of the girlfriend of one of those picked up for the crime, and Butch takes the lead in the ensuing trials.

The novel is replete with wonderful references to Shakespeare's Macbeth (as well as the film On the Waterfront). The author, himself a former Chief of the Homicide Bureau for the NY DA's Office, among several other prestigious positions, has written another terrific courtroom drama, with his trademark twists and turns, realistic characters and dialogue. Series fans will love it, and it should find many converts among those not already familiar with the Karp/Ciampi books.


Barry Lancet
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451691696, $25.00, Hardcover, 398 pp,

The eponymous area of San Francisco is comprises six square blocks and the scene, early in this new novel by Barry Lancet, of a horrendous murder of three adults and three children. (Ultimately one learns that the second man was in fact the bodyguard of the woman, who is the daughter of a wealthy and powerful Japanese mogul.) There are "no fingerprints, no trace evidence, no witnesses" and no clues except for a blood-drenched slip of paper bearing an unreadable kanji, a unique Japanese character.

Jim Brodie, formerly LAPD, is now a 32-year-old private detective who is a 6' 1", 190-lb. Caucasian with black hair and blue eyes, had lived for the first 17 years of his life in Japan, where he has his office; he also has a shop in San Francisco where he repairs and sells art and antiques, primarily Oriental. (He says of himself that he is "refined on the one hand, brutish on the other," and wonders if he can "make the leap from things people created to things they destroyed.") He is called in as a consultant by the SFPD to assist in the investigation, and is staggered by the enormity of the crime. Brodie is a fascinating protagonist, intent in finding the perpetrators, but equally dedicated to protecting his six-year-old daughter, all the more so after having lost his Japanese wife in a lethal fire which had destroyed their home. The ensuing events put Brodie, his daughter, and all those around him and involved in the chase in great danger as it soon becomes evident that they are looking for a serial killer (or killers).

The novel is obviously very well-researched, beyond the author's own apparent knowledge of Japanese culture, history and martial arts. The plot draws the reader in. I have to admit that in the early pages I thought some of the dialogue a bit overwrought, but that reaction dissipated as I read further. The book is action-filled and suspenseful and surprises, as Brodie digs deeper into a twisting plot whose tentacles reach through parts of Asia, Europe, and the US to find the killers, of whom the description "ruthless" doesn't even come close. A thriller in every sense of the word, the novel is recommended.

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451635560, $9.99, Paperback, 480 pp,

(This review was e-mailed yesterday for the hardcover edition of the book. I'm re-sending just to give information on the pb edition, which was inadvertently omitted.)

This book is the newest entry in the Butch Karp/Marlene Ciampi series. Karp is the District Attorney for New York County, ably assisted by Special Assistant D.A. Ray Guma ("the Italian Stallion," whose significant other is Darla Milquetost, Karp's receptionist) and Detective Sergeant Clay Fulton of the NYPD. Marlene, his wife and the mother of their twin sons, is the former head of the DA's sex crime bureau and a defense attorney/p.i., now devoting most of her time volunteering at a women's shelter.

The plot involves criminality on various levels, from corruption to embezzlement to murder, among the leaders of the New York dockworkers union. When a well-respected and high-ranking member is killed, Marlene investigates on behalf of the girlfriend of one of those picked up for the crime, and Butch takes the lead in the ensuing trials.

The novel is replete with wonderful references to Shakespeare's Macbeth (as well as the film On the Waterfront). The author, himself a former Chief of the Homicide Bureau for the NY DA's Office, among several other prestigious positions, has written another terrific courtroom drama, with his trademark twists and turns, realistic characters and dialogue. Series fans will love it, and it should find many converts among those not already familiar with the Karp/Ciampi books.


Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Psalter
Galen Watson
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B009ZSPS14, $3.99 US
9780615726588, paperback

The Psalter is a well written historical suspense novel. The history is strong and the fiction blended into the history is not so fanciful that the history is impossibly corrupted. The story is actually two tales, a contemporary and a historical, separated by a thousand years of time. The only problem I have with the story is the method used in blending the backstory and the contemporary was at times awkward.

Father Mike Romano works in the Vatican archives. His close friend Father James Mackey is murdered while secretly taking a thousand year old Psalter out of the Vatican. The local police call on Father Mike to explain the Psalter found on the murderer of Father Mackey. Father Mike recognizes the Psalter (an ancient devotional copy of the Psalms) from the archives he works in. The scribe who wrote the Psalter had carefully copied over other more ancient books, carefully erasing the older text and meticulously writing the devotional Psalms. The quality of the Psalter had impressed everyone who saw the book and Romano knew that there had to be something important about the book to incite the murder of his friend. He takes the book to Paris to scientifically examine the writing underneath the thousand year old Psalms and finds an Aramaic copy of the Gospel of Thomas dating to the first century. There he and the scientists he enlisted to help him read the underlying script are attacked and the Psalter is stolen again. Romano's actions have brought about the climax of a confrontation between religion, politics and power that has laid festering for the last thousand years. A confrontation marked by murder and destruction.

The Psalter is good historical suspense novel that forces the reader to think. It isn't one of the current action oriented contemporary novels where history and accuracy takes second place in the tale. Only those readers who think action and violence has to be the sole measure of a suspense novel will be disappointed with the story. For everyone else The Psalter is highly recommended. The historical fiction is strong enough to take its place with any other story.

Silken Prey
John Sandford
G.P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USa
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399159312, $27.95, 406 pages,

John Sandford has told his fans that he will be writing only a few more books. This makes Silken Prey a book to be cherished by the detective mystery reader. It has all of the blend of realistic dialog and crime you would expect in a book by one of the best detective writers today. It has another added benefit. Sandford's key character in his very first novel, Kidd, has a nice secondary roll in the story. Sandford has been pulling together all of his major characters creating a rich tapestry for his fans that creates a single narrative to all three of his major storylines and a depth that enriches all of them.

The story starts out in the familiar way that most detective tales begin, with a vicious murder. A political fixit man is murdered. The murder covers up a political dirty trick to destroy the campaign of a senate candidate just days before the election. The governor tasks BCA agent Lucas Davenport to solve the political crime while at the same time not upsetting the election. Lucas has to wade through a political minefield of political intrigue that spans the competing parties while trying to solve a series of murders done by professionals willing to kill anyone getting close to the truth.

Silken Prey is an easy recommendation to any detective genre reader. It has all of the rich investigative details along with ruthless protagonists. The ending is especially good. Sandford balances a solid end that still permits the messiness of the real world to impact the storyline.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Janet's Bookshelf

Diamond in the Dark, leaving the shadow of abuse
Phyllis Hain
Bancroft Press
3209 Bancroft Road, Baltimore, MD 21215
9781610881005, $20.06 (HC), $9.54 (Kindle),

Who you are born to and who you marry are inherently linked. Strike it lucky in the birth department; grow up in a family where you are valued and loved and your chance of choosing a partner who also values and loves you improves markedly.

This didn't happen to Phyllis Hain, the writer of a remarkably honest memoir, Diamond in the Dark, leaving the shadow of abuse.

Phyllis, the youngest of three children was born with an undiagnosed (then or now) illness, similar to epilepsy, which caused breathlessness and fainting fits. Her father, a marine who had been invalided out of WWII with acute brain trauma, could only find employment in lowly paid positions, as a result the family finances bordered on poverty; Phyllis' illness was an additional burden for her mother.

The brain injury suffered by her father caused him to become a violent alcoholic bully who regularly meted out beatings to his wife and children. Perhaps today, his brain injury would have been controlled by drugs - difficult to predict. What is apparent from this memoir of a family where the father either fuelled by alcohol or religious zeal terrorized and abused his family is that the children suffered dreadfully; their home, a place of hellish conflict and beatings.

A pretty blond girl, away from home Phyllis was a well liked, outgoing, intelligent child, who enjoyed a special bond with her grandmother. Visits to her grandparent's property to pick peas were a happy relief from a mother who favoured her older sister, and a father, whose behaviour was erratic and abusive.

Something that Phyllis felt very deeply growing up was that no-one in her immediate family appeared to like or value her existence. Her mother, close to her older sister, often ignored or was at odds with Phyllis which left her a lonely isolated figure in a family where conflict ruled.

At sixteen, she became pregnant to a fellow high school student, JJ. No other option but to flee her family home, Phyllis married JJ. An unhappy choice, while the marriage produces two much loved children, JJ is a physically and sexually abusive bully and Phyllis, aware she is reliving her mother's life, experiences years of domestic violence.

On a number of occasions, Phyllis attempts to leave JJ but well practiced in emotional manipulation, he always assures her things will change and for the sake of her children, she returns home. During this period, despite the lack of a college education, Phyllis, a hard working go-getter, takes courses and is successful in a number of jobs. Attractive, optimistic and intelligent, you have to wonder what Phyllis could have achieved at this time, given a life where domestic violence wasn't a devastating main event.

With financial help from a local business man, Phyllis plans an escape, surviving the terrifying ordeal of divorce from JJ.

She subsequently marries the business man and at first it appears that her life has changed for the better. I did though have some reservations about her new husband (easy to be wise about someone else's life) and it's not long before his honesty and life before their marriage becomes questionable.

Phyllis' story morphs into a legal drama of high suspense with jealousy and intrigue among her husband's family members regarding a possible homicide and the distribution of family money. When the dust settles, Phyllis, takes her children and moves on; a good decision.

Perhaps as a result of childhood experiences and wearing her heart on her sleeve, Phyllis forgets the old one about "good looks being only skin deep" and makes other mistakes in the romance department before meeting a partner who loves and respects her unique qualities.

Happy and settled, after joining the US Navy she works as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator - a Family Advocacy Educator. Phyllis excels - during twenty one years of service she uses her own life experiences to respond to hundreds of victims of abuse, setting up and documenting support mechanisms for their treatment and rehabilitation.

Phyllis Hain's memoir, Diamond in the Dark, shines a light on an area that no-one wants to talk or do anything about - domestic violence, it reinforces that physical and sexual abuse in a family unit, no matter what the circumstances, is never acceptable only criminal.

Diamond in the Dark is the sad but always optimistic and inspiring journey of a courageous woman who stumbles, falls and stumbles again to rise up and walk tall. Bravo, Phyllis - good life, good read.

Whispers Of Vivaldi, A Tito Amato Mystery
Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen Press
4014 N Goldwater Blvd #101 Scottsdale AZ 85251 USA
9781464202100,$11.75 (PB), $7.11 (Kindle),

Venice, 1745 and the buzz on the streets and canals is all about opera; glorious voices, bravura orchestras, librettos of passion, political intrigue, with murder and suicide common occurrences - the big "O" has it all. The place to be for upwardly mobile Venetians, the city's opera houses vie with each other for their patronage. Every production, bigger and better than the previous, it's an expensive business. If an opera company fails to get bottoms on seats then the odds are they will founder, sinking into oblivion amid the charcoal grey waters that ebb and flow through the canals of Venice.

The setting for Beverle Graves Myers latest Tito Amato mystery, Whispers Of Vivaldi, is the Teatro San Marco, eighteenth century Venice's premier opera house. Singers and musicians lured away by a rival company, Teatro San Marco is failing, the Director needs a hit and he needs it fast, if the rising tide of bankruptcy is to recede.

Maestro Torani, San Marco's Director, is persuaded by Tito Amato, a Castrato singer who no longer performs, to resurrect the company's fortunes by the staging of a new production, 'The False Duke' by a hitherto unknown young Venetian violinist. The score is beautiful, the orchestrations redolent of a favourite of Venetian opera lovers: the late Antonio Vivaldi.

Torani, a friend and mentor to Tito Amato agrees, and after obtaining permission to mount the opera from the Savio alla Cultura, an official who collects a percentage of the ticket sales for the state's coffers, Tito goes to Milan to engage the services of a popular Castrato, Angeletto as lead singer for the new production. A castrato is a male singer who before puberty was castrated in order to retain a soprano or alto voice. The popularity of castrati singers waned after the 1850's and the extremely unpleasant practice of maiming young boys stopped. Today's equivalent to operatic castrati singers are counter tenors (delightful to hear) who sing with natural ability.

There's a problem: Angeletto accepts the role but is 'he' really a 'she'? Rumour hath it that Angeletto is a woman; a soprano who, enticed by a large pay packet, is masquerading as a male castrato.

Beverle Graves Myers has created an intriguing, amusing and really engaging narrator in Tito Amato. Whispers Of Vivaldi is the sixth in the Tito Amato series, I haven't read the others but it didn't matter; I felt as if I had alighted from a gondola in eighteenth century Venice and with Tito by my side was walking along the cobbled walkways, the air flavoured by gossip, innuendo, political grandstanding and the brackish aroma of the City's waterways.

To add to Tito's problems the general consensus of opinion regarding The False Duke's score is that it owes a lot more to Vivaldi than has been acknowledged. The public outcry which develops around Angelleto's gender and the truth about the composer of the new production, set to spiral out of control, Maestro Torani is cruelly attacked and murdered.

Tito, shocked by the death of his friend, falls under the scrutiny of the Police Chief, "Messer Grande". The prime suspect, Tito's own life is in danger as in an exciting conclusion, he fights to uncover Maestro Torani's murderer and in so doing save the fortunes of the Teatro San Marco.

You don't have be an opera buff to enjoy Whispers Of Vivaldi, Beverl Graves Myers' skilful writing translates to an enjoyable, easily understandable mystery about the machinations of opera houses, patrons and performers in eighteenth century Venice. Take a magical mystery trip along Venice's historical waterways with Tito Amato as tour leader - it's a lot of fun.

Janet Walker, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Invisible Stars
Donna L. Halper
M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
80 Business Park Drive, Armonk, NY 10504
9780765636690, $32.95, 400pp,

Synopsis: Originally published in 2001, "Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting" was the first book to recognize that women have always played an important part in American electronic media. The emphasis is on social history and the changing role of women in different eras influenced their participation in broadcasting. This is not just the story of radio stars or broadcast journalists: the focus here is on women in a variety of everyday positions, both on and off the air. Beginning in the early 1920s with the emergence of radio, the book chronicles the ambivalence toward women in broadcasting during the 1930s and 1940s, the gradual change in status of women in the 1950s and 1960s, the increased presence of women in broadcasting in the 1970s, and the successes of women in broadcasting in the 1980s and 1990s. This newly published second edition is expanded to include the social and political changes that occurred in the 2000s, such as the growing number of women talk show hosts; changing attitudes about women in leadership roles in business; more about minority women in media; and women in sports and women sports announcers. Author Donna L. Halper addresses the question of whether women are in fact no longer invisible in electronic media. She provides an assessment of where progress for women (in society as well as broadcasting) can be seen, and where progress appears totally stalled.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting" is an especially highly recommended addition to community and academic library Women's Studies as well as American Broadcasting Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted (especially for library collections), that "Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting" is also available in a hardcover edition (9780765636690, $69.95).

The Giraffe's Neck
Judith Schalansky
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620403389, $26.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: Adaptation is everything. Inge Lohmark is well aware of that; after all, she's been teaching biology for more than thirty years. But nothing will change the fact that her school is going to be closed in four years: In this dwindling town in the eastern German countryside, there are fewer and fewer children. Inge's husband, who was a cattle inseminator before the reunification, is now breeding ostriches. Their daughter, Claudia, emigrated to the United States years ago and has no intention of having children. Everyone is resisting the course of nature that Inge teaches every day in class. When Inge finds herself experiencing intense feelings for a ninth-grade girl, her biologically determined worldview is shaken. And in increasingly outlandish ways, she tries to save what can no longer be saved.

Critique: "The Giraffe's Neck" is author Judith Schalansky's debut novel and documents her as a gifted and original storyteller able to deftly populate an entertaining and original story with memorable characters. A terrific start to what promises to be an outstanding literary career as a novelist for Ms. Schalansky, "The Giraffe's Neck" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted that "The Giraffe's Neck" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Atheist's Prayer
Amy R. Biddle
Perfect Edge Press
c/o National Book Network
4270 Boston Way, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781780995823, $16.95, 234pp,

Synopsis: After a solar eclipse, nineteen people were found dead in a remote area of the California National Forest. They were lying in a circle, holding hands and wearing plastic fairy wings. Years later, on the other side of the country, no one in the southern city of Jefferson is concerned about fairies or fairy-worshiping suicide cults. Except for. She might not have proof, but she's damn sure it's going to happen again. The problem is, Candy is a coke-dealing stripper and the only person who will listen to her is an alcoholic mall Santa named Hank, who's only listening because, well...she's hot. There are seven days until the next eclipse.

Critique: An exceptional and unusual novel, "The Atheist's Prayer" is a riveting read that captures and hold's the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. Offering a rollercoaster of a ride with all manner of twists and turns, "The Atheist's Prayer" is deftly written, highly recommended and very entertaining!

The Dancing Master
Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764210709, $14.99, 432pp,

Synopsis: Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past. Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own. Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village. . .and to her mother's tattered heart? Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a 'good match'

Critique: Author Julie Klassen is a master of the Regency England romance novel. "The Dancing Master" is her latest literary contribution to the genre and once again demonstrates her extraordinary storytelling talents. "The Dancing Master" is pure entertaining from beginning to end and highly recommended reading for Regency Romance enthusiasts. It should be noted that "The Dancing Master" is also available in a hardcover large print edition (Thorndike Press, 9781410468284, $30.99) and a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Twelfth of Never
Brenda Ortega
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781495334207, $9.99, 190pp,

Synopsis: Presley may be smart, but she buckles under pressure - or more specifically, she alphabetizes. In stressful moments her mind grabs words and compulsively sorts the letters, like a frightened guard dog chasing its tail. So it's no surprise when signs from the universe constantly warn her: stay out of the spotlight. That's hard to do when her Elvis-loving mom, the school secretary, plays embarrassing snippets of The King's hits on the PA every day. It's even harder when the school's biggest goofball nominates Presley for president and her campaign speech turns disastrous. Her greatest refuge from the drama is her adorable nephew. But Luke's mom - Presley's teenage sister - has a secret that threatens to tear the boy from the family forever, unless Presley can stop it. Maybe the universe is out to get her. Or perhaps it's whispering a new message: Stay cool. Step into the spotlight. Summon your inner Elvis.

Critique: A riveting good read from beginning to end, "The Twelfth of Never" is a unique and entertaining young adult novel that showcases author Brenda Ortega's genuine gift for storytelling! Very highly recommended for personal, school, and community library YA contemporary fiction collections, it should noted that "The Twelfth of Never" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Julie Summers

Margaret's Bookshelf

Type "S"uperWoman
Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D., LMHC
Privately Published
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
3748 Turman Loop, Suite 101, Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
9781492285694 $12.95

Certified Life Coach and licensed mental health counselor Dr. Jaime Kulaga presents Type "S"uperWoman: Finding the LIFE in Work-Life Balance, A Self-Searching Book for Women, a self-help book written especially for women than emphasizes the values of positive thinking, and maintaining balance among one's own needs, goals, and priorities. Becoming a genuine SuperWoman doesn't mean being self-sacrificing to a fault, but rather learning how to focus on one's plans, identify and remove barriers to one's dreams, and change bad habits (which may ingrained from a lifetime of overuse). And as one chapter title puts it, "It's Not Only Okay to Ask for Help, It's Mandatory". "The difference between the people who always seem to 'have it good' and the people who 'can't get a break' is that those who 'have it good,' make decisions in life at high points. If you are in a depressed state, angry state, going through a divorce, failing at something, a family member died, you lost your job, whatever the case may be, you are not ready to make a major Life decision... This is why some of the best business savvy individuals are so successful. They do not make decisions based out of emotion." Type "S"uperWoman is a somewhat consumable book, in that the reader is encouraged to write in responses to various questions and exercises, and offers invaluable advice for improving one's overall quality of life. Highly recommended.

Finding Eve
Jill Huckelberry
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781491701294 $13.95 pbk. / $3.03 Kindle

Finding Eve is a striking, unique novel that explores biblical, spiritual, and LGBT themes. The premise is that the true Original Sin of Adam's wife Eve was that she fell in love with Lilith, Adam's first wife. As punishment for their forbidden love, God curses Eve and Lilith to reincarnate, fall in love, and be cruelly torn apart, eternally throughout history. In the time of the French Revolution, they live under the names of Katherine and Anna, and the barriers to their love include arranged marriage and the predations of a serial killer. Is there anyway to break the curse upon their happiness, and their future? A thought-provoking saga, at once both dark and romantic, Finding Eve is truly unforgettable.

I Be Emma
Charlotte Pritchard
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781475978056 $8.95

I Be Emma is a coming of age novel about a young woman facing an identity crisis not of her own making. Clara has grown up in the Tennessee backwoods, isolated from the larger world, but a chance encounter caused terrible nightmares to surface within her. When Clara's mother accidentally reveals a damning truth, Clara begins to realize that her life is essentially a lie. The man and woman raising her are not her parents; they are her kidnappers. Trapped by her isolation, is there any opportunity for Clara to reconnect with her long-lost real parents? A brief tale, yet profound to the final page, I Be Emma is highly recommended.

Justify Thin
Renae Da Grava
Justify Books
9781492144854 $19.97

Justify Thin is more than a diet and exercise book - it's a guide to crafting a lifestyle weight management regimen, tailored to one's own unique needs. The strategies emphasize not only building menus of healthy foods and incorporating exercise into one's everyday life, but also behavioral strategies that can help break bad habits and build good ones. "Just as you train your body with a personal trainer to attain your goals and maintain strength and fitness, you must learn to train your mind to attain a lifetime of weight control over your body." Justify Thin empowers the reader to forge his or her own path to a healthier lifestyle, and is highly recommended.

The Most Beautiful Girl
Tamara Saviano
American Roots Press
c/o Lissy Peace & Associates, Ltd.
9780989124300 $16.95 pbk. / $9.95 ebook

Grammy and Americana Award-winning producer and music business consultant Tamara Saviano presents The Most Beautiful Girl, a memoir reflecting on loss, complex family relationships, and the healing and sustaining power of music. When Saviano witnessed Johnny Cash's funeral, it prompted a flood of emotions about her childhood and unfinished business with her father. Like the bonds of blood, the bonds of music form a connection that transcend life and death, in this quintessentially American life story of hardship, conflict, coming of age, and the search for reconciliation. Highly recommended.

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

Golden Danube
Julies Verne, author
BearManor Fiction
PO Box 71426, Albany, GA 31708
9781593933975, $24.95, 282pp,

Synopsis: Jules Verne's "Extraordinary Journeys" often used the travelogue mode, and here the author offers a voyage down the entire length of the Danube, from Germany to the Black Sea. However, rather than the placid "blue" Danube of classical conception, Verne offers one which is golden, in multiple ways. Smugglers are operating along the river, with the police in pursuit, and the hero is a champion fisherman who is abducted and forced to prove his courage.

Critique: A true 'time lost' literary treasure, this newly available work of the legendary French author, Jules Verne, "Golden Danube", is an extraordinarily entertaining novel that has stood up well to the test of time. Ably translated into English by Kieran M. O'Driscoll, and under the editorial aegis of the North American Jules Verne Society in the person of Brian Taves, "Golden Danube" is a 'must read' for the legions of Jules Verne fans and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library collections.

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf
Frederic M. Wehrey
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231165129, $45.00, 352pp,

Synopsis: Beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and concluding with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings, Frederic M. Wehrey investigates the roots of the Shia-Sunni divide now dominating the Persian Gulf's political landscape. Focusing on three Gulf states affected most by sectarian tensions -- Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait -- Wehrey identifies the factors that have exacerbated or tempered sectarianism, including domestic political institutions, the media, clerical establishments, and the contagion effect of external regional events, such as the Iraq war, the 2006 Lebanon conflict, the Arab uprisings, and Syria's civil war. In addition to his analysis, Wehrey builds a historical narrative of Shia activism in the Arab Gulf since 2003, linking regional events to the development of local Shia strategies and attitudes toward citizenship, political reform, and transnational identity. He finds that, while the Gulf Shia were inspired by their coreligionists in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, they ultimately pursued greater rights through a nonsectarian, nationalist approach. He also discovers that sectarianism in the region has largely been the product of the institutional weaknesses of Gulf states, leading to excessive alarm by entrenched Sunni elites and calculated attempts by regimes to discredit Shia political actors as proxies for Iran, Iraq, or Lebanese Hizballah. Wehrey conducts interviews with nearly every major Shia leader, opinion shaper, and activist in the Gulf Arab states, as well as prominent Sunni voices, and consults diverse Arabic-language sources.

Critique: A model of meticulous scholarship and comprehensive research, "Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings" is the newest addition to the outstanding Columbia Studies in Middle East Politics series published by the Columbia University Press. Deftly written and superbly organized into four major sections (The Roots of Sectarianism; Bahrain; Saudi Arabia; Kuwait), Frederic M. Wehrey (Senior Associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) has made a seminal and critically important analytical presentation that should be considered mandatory reading for governmental American-Middle East policy makers. "Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings" is an essential academic library acquisition for Middle Eastern Studies reference collections. It should be noted that ""Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings" is also available in a Kindle edition ($26.99).

America's Fiscal Constitution
Bill White
Public Affairs Books
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
9781610393430, $35.00, 567pp,

Synopsis: "America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse" tells the remarkable story of federal leaders who imposed clear limits on the use of federal debt. For almost two centuries those limits allowed the federal government to borrow for only four purposes. That traditional fiscal constitution collapsed in 2001, when federal elected officials broke the traditional link between federal tax and spending policies. For the first time in history, the federal government cut taxes during war, funded permanent new programs entirely with debt, and became dependent on foreign creditors. With insights gained from original scholarship and an unusual breadth of experience in finance and government, Bill White distills practical lessons from the nation's five previous spikes in debt. "America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse" is an entertaining and objective guide for people trying to make sense of the current and most dangerous debt crisis.

Critique: An extraordinary economic history and contemporary analysis, "America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse" is enhanced with extensive notes, a bibliography, eight appendices, and a comprehensive index. Informed and informative, "America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse" is highly recommended for community and academic library collections, and is especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in, and concern for, the history and soundness of America's economic and fiscal policies. It should be noted that ""America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.49).

Metaphysics Of Infinity
Ion Soteropoulos
Marketing Department
University Press of America
c/o Rowman & Littlefield
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780761861461, $50.00,

Synopsis: Since the time of the Greek philosopher Zeno (fifth century BCE), our faculty of analytic understanding has failed to comprehend motion through the ages. The reason is the paradox or contradiction associated with motion. One fundamental contradiction is the conflict between the finite body and the infinite divisibility of the unit distance ab. Indeed, how is it possible to move from a to b if we must first pass through an infinite series of sub-distances in one instant? How can we traverse an unlimited series - a series without limit - yet reach its limit?

Because the heart of the problem is the conflict between the finite and the infinite, its solution depends on reconciling this contradiction and transforming this reconciliation into the founding principle of motion. Having accomplished these two things, this work investigates the sweeping consequences they have regarding the geometric form of the physical universe, the Aristotelian ontology of the physical body, the nature of our finite brain, the finite analytic paradigm of empirical science and the meaning of our technological acceleration.

Critique: A work of impressive and original scholarship, "Metaphysics of Infinity: The Problem of Motion and the Infinite Brain" is an informed and informative study that is especially recommended to the attention of anyone with in interest in the logical mechanics of the physical universe, the capacity of the human brain, and integrated role of robots and artificial intelligence in the future. An understanding of elementary mathematical equations is required to fully appreciate the principles upon which Ion Soteropoulos has founded her presentation. An extraordinary and seminal contribution, "Metaphysics of Infinity: The Problem of Motion and the Infinite Brain" is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and highly recommended for academic library collections.

Grind Joint
Dana King
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586526, $17.95, 189pp,

Synopsis: A new casino is opening in the rural town of Penns River, Pennsylvania but just where the money is coming from no one really knows. Is it Daniel Hecker, bringing hope to a mill town after years of plant closings? Or is the town's salvation really an opening for Mike The Hook Mannarino's Pittsburgh mob to move part of their action down state? Or could it be someone even worse? When the body of a drug dealer is dumped on the casino steps shortly before its grand opening, Detectives Ben Doc Dougherty and Willie Grabek have to survive their department s own inner turmoil and figure out not only who s behind the murder, but what it means to whoever is behind the operation itself. Between the cops, the mob, and the ex-spook in charge of casino security Daniel Rollison, a man with more secrets than anyone will ever know Grind Joint is a mesmerizing mix of betrayal, police action, small town politics, sudden violence and the lives of the people of a town just trying to look after itself.

Critique: It takes a very skilled writer to pull of a true winner in the action/adventure mystery genre. In "Grind Joint" that is exactly what author Dana King has done to the pure delight of his enthusiastic readers. "Grind Joint" is highly entertaining and recommended reading. It should be noted that "Grind Joint" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Hammett Unwritten
Owen Fitzstephen
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
Smith Publicity
9781616147143, $13.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: A worthless bird statuette -- the focus of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon". Or is it? As Dashiell Hammett closes his final case as a private eye, the details of which will later inspire his most famous book, he acquires at a police auction the bogus object of that case, an obsidian falcon statuette. He casually sets the memento on his desk, where for a decade it bears witness to his literary rise. Until he gives it away. Now, suffering writer's block, the famous author begins to wonder about rumors of the falcon's "metaphysical qualities," which link it to a powerful, wish-fulfilling black stone cited in legends from around the world. He can't deny that when he possessed the statuette he wrote one acclaimed book after another, and that without it his fortunes have changed. As his block stretches from months to years, he becomes entangled again with the scam artists from the old case, each still fascinated by the "real" black bird and its alleged talismanic power. A dangerous maze of events takes Hammett from 1930s San Francisco to the glamorous Hollywood of the 1940s, a federal penitentiary at the time of the McCarthy hearings, and finally to a fateful meeting on New Year's Eve, 1959, at a Long Island estate. There the dying Hammett confronts a woman from his past who proves to be his most formidable rival. And his last hope.

Critique: A superbly crafted novel, author Owen Fitzstephen is to be congratulated on a novel that capitalizes on one life and times of one of the truly great writers of the hard-boiled private eye genre of the 1940s and 1950s. Imaginatively original and terrifically entertaining, "Hammett Unwritten" is highly recommended reading and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library fiction collections. It should be noted that "Hammett Unwritten" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.69).

Owen G. Irons
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444817058, $20.99,

Synopsis: An outlaw gang has kidnapped the Colorado and Eastern train, leaving the passengers afoot in a winter blizzard. Tango and Ned Chambers, the men hired to prevent such things from happening, are left alone on the frozen prairie with a wealthy widow and a brother of the US vice-president. Now all they have to do is recover the train, get through to Denver and bring to justice those responsible for the outrage, without allowing harm to come to their charges...

Critique: Simply stated, "Derailed" is a terrific read from beginning to end and documents author Owen G. Irons as a skilled novelist and a master of the western genre. The large print format makes this particular edition of "Derailed" especially appropriate for community library collections and the reading lists of anyone who is a western novel enthusiast and requires a larger print size for comfortable reading.

Sheriff Of Vengeance
Rob Hill
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444816341, $20.99, 264pp,

Synopsis: With a failing farm, and with nightmare memories of the war, Clay Butterfield and his wife Rose Alice abandon life in the East. They join a wagon train bound for California. However, when their departure is delayed, Clay finds out that a gunman is in town, intent on killing him. Instinct tells him to run, but to protect Rose Alice, and make his new life secure, he rides into town to confront the stranger who wants him dead.

Critique: "Sheriff Of Vengeance" is a gritty, realistic western that grips the reader's total and rapt attention with a story that is a deftly crafted masterpiece replete with unexpected plot twists and a cliff hanger finish. Of special note is that this is a large print edition, making it highly recommended as an enduringly popular addition for community library collections.

The Artist On The Island
Pete Hogan
The Liffey Press
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781908308498, $31.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: "The Artist on the Island: An Achill Journal" is a beautifully illustrated memoir by Pete Hogan and the follow-up to his highly acclaimed "The Log of the Molly B." (9781908308214, $32.95). After the adventures of building his own boat and sailing from Canada to Peru, Pete decided to settle down on Achillbeg Island, in County Mayo, Ireland. As the only inhabitant on the island, Pete had to use all his resources to survive the kind of harsh winter experienced in the west of Ireland. With over one hundred full color plates, The Artist on the Island is a remarkable record of one man's attempt to forgo modern-day conveniences and social conventions in order to focus on what is truly important.

Critique: A thoroughly engage and wonderfully entertaining read from first page to last. "The Artist on the Island: An Achill Journal" again documents the storytelling abilities of Pete Hogan and showcase both his art work and his life's story in a fashion that is informative, candid, insightful, punctuated by his full color images, and simply beautifully related. Very highly recommended and deftly crafted reading.

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

More Generals in Gray
Bruce S. Allardice
Louisiana State University Press
3990 W. Lakeshore Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
9780807131480, $22.95, 301 pages,

More Generals in Gray, Bruce S. Allardice, is A Companion Volume, to Ezra J. Warner's 1950 editon Generals in Gray. As such this publication offers the consequences of investigation conducted by Bruce S. Allardice who presents an assemblage of military officers relatively generally disregarded.

These are the southern Confederacy's supplementary generals; men who accomplished their rank not through the customary process of promotion by President Jefferson Davis with endorsement of the Confederate Congress, but frequently were elevated through other process at the time, and, as a result have been all but overlooked.

The 137 men registered in the biographical section originate with Charles W Adams, born in Massachusetts raised in Indiana and moved to Helena, Arkansas in 1838 where he came to be an attorney and served as a judge preceding the secession from the union of Arkansas and concludes with James Yell major general of Arkansas state forces. Born in Tennessee, self-educated Yell taught school, moved to Arkansas where he settled in Pine Bluff and developed into an effective jury lawyer. At the time of the publication of this work he lay in an unmarked grave in Bellwood Cemetery, nevertheless when I visited his grave it was marked with a lovely stone through the determination of southern ancestry groups.

The assembly of men recorded in this work encompassed a sundry set of landed, and city dwellers, most educated, 10 born in northern states, and 9 not born in the United States either north or south. Santos Benavides born in Mexico, in what was to become Laredo, Texas demonstrated his capability as a leader of men.

James Boggs, born in Ireland, was an emigre to Virginia, US, with his parents and siblings where as an adult he became justice of the peace, county sheriff and was chosen to local political office preceding to the war. Pierre Benjamin Buisson born in France in 1793 was the eldest of Confederate brigadiers. Buisson served with Napoleon prior to immigration to New Orleans, Louisiana USA.

Samuel Preston Moore, Surgeon General of the Confederacy was born 1813, South Carolina, served as physician during the war with Mexico during which time he caught President Davis' attention, served again as surgeon to various units as well as at West Point previous to the War Between the States.

Numerous of the men noted in Allardice's work did receive their command from President Davis, while some were raised to the rank through service in state militia. Others were elevated to brigadier during or subsequent to battle by the Confederate General under which they served, some seem to have been called general by mistake during later years of their lives, whether as an endeavor to promote status, or for the reason that they were inspector general and that was confused, or another reason is not always clear. Allardice does note whenever conceivable the rank, particularly Confederate Army and state militia units proven in history whether in historical tomes, or in other writings.

Nicholas Bartlett Pearce, collateral relative of mine, served in a none to notable capacity during a transitory period including the battle of Wilson's Creek, White Oak in Missouri. Gen'l Pearce, while a West Point graduate and colonel in the local Arkansas militia, was a disinclined anti secessionist who half-heartedly received his rank to general by state authority. Most of his service was that as chief commissary at the commissary post in Fort Smith serving District of Texas, Indian Territory's Ft Gibson and western Arkansas, Trans Mississippi region.

Allardice does list Gen'l Pearce's bonafidies so to speak and they do include a number of historians, two of which contend Pearce's was a Gen'l Kirby Smith appointment. However Southern Historical Society Papers, SHSP, seem to indicate state authority only.

Thomas Grimke Rhett, South Carolina, West Point graduate launched his military career as 2d lieutenant of weaponry, Washington DC. Active during war with Mexico Rhett was breveted Captain, joined the staff of Gen'l PGT Beauregard soon after acceptance commission as major, served on staff under Gen'l Joseph E Johnston. Following melee of Seven Pines, 1862, Rhett was assigned to Trans Mississippi, and was selected chief of artillery. At the conclusion of the war Rhett refused to linger in America, accepted suggestion he join army of the Khedive of Egypt and served as colonel of ordnance until 1873. A stroke in 1873 left Rhett paralyzed, he resigned his commission, went to Europe, returned to the US in 1876 and lived in Baltimore, Md until his demise, 1878.

Raphael Semmes, Confederate seaman commanded CSS Alabama, took 69 prizes before the Alabama was sunk by USS Kersarge. Promoted to rear Admiral, Semmes commanded James River Squadron. In charge of defense at Danville, Virginia subsequent to the fall of Richmond, Semmes was listed as Rear Admiral and as Brigadier when paroled following surrender of the Army of Virginia by Gen'l Lee.

Supplementary Generals leading units in Confederate states included 9 from Alabama, 10 from Arkansas, 7 from N Carolina, 9 from S Carolina, 4 from Florida, 15 from Georgia, 9 from Louisiana, 16 from Mississippi, 11 from Tennessee, 18 from Texas and 13 of the men served from Virginia, while 2 led southern units from Kentucky, 14 led Confederate units from Missouri. Many of these men were well educated, 94 had military experience, others were lawyers, served political offices, 72 of the 137 attended college.

More Generals In Gray, Bruce S Allardice, A Companion Volume to Generals in Gray is a well-researched work dedicated to bringing the lives and actions of a group of officers executing the duties of generals of southern armies in Confederate or state service during the years of the War Between the States to the attention of historians and others. These are men whose names and service has been all but lost and virtually disregarded due to lack of confirmation regarding prescribed promotion to the office by President Davis whilst texts, written records and word of mouth have communicated the deeds of the more celebrated leaders about whom whole books have centered.

Allardice in the preface to his work allows that this book encompasses succinct biographical articles telling the deeds of these officers in an effort that the deeds of these men will not be lost. Allardice outlines that the sketches offered will present a standard body of information for each of the 137 officers included and will present dates and place of birth and death, place of burial, names and occupations of the men's parents, a likeness of each man, outline of his military career including an evaluation of his claim to the rank of general.

The work does not proffer a standard table of contents, it does list Preface ix, Abbreviations xv, Introduction 1, Biographical Sketches 15, appendix 243 and Biography 259. As a student of the period encompassing the War Between the States, I found the abbreviations to be significant and embraces not only names of some of the generals, but CV, Confederate Veteran a succession of books listing the million plus men of the Confederate army, works found in my personal library, as well as OR denoting the Official Record of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes accessible for research in many public libraries, SHSP Southern Historical Society Papers, also found in my personal library existing in reprint today in 50+ volumes.

That Allardice has fashioned a work worthy of note can be inferred from the research and bibliography he lists to support his words that the objective of the book is to outline the lives of a long ignored group of officers. Not only does Allardice bring to the fore the lives of these men, but, he clarifies the procedure for achieving rank during the period including that the procedure of becoming a general was often filled with prompting carried out by the man himself, or his friends, or men with whom he served, and the like; as well as unassuming coincidence of time and place with need leading to the ranking General brevetting to brigadier as well as maneuvering, politics, simple chance, or his service in state militia with accomplishment of rank there and carry over to Confederate records, politics, and even mismanagement.

The 1959, Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray presaged as a standard of WBTS erudition, established on painstaking standards for qualifying the facts produced through his personal in-depth investigation, recognized 425 men having clearly documented service as Confederate generals. Allardice, long active member of the respected Chicago Civil War Roundtable, after undertaking his own research determined that an additional 137 officers can be recognized as Confederate generals.

As a member of a historical lineage group, I find significant that Allardice's appendix lists yet another 132 nominees whose recognition as having general rank may yet be authenticated through additional research.

Bruce S. Allardice, long a professor of history, South Suburban College near Chicago, has published a number of articles, compositions and essays appearing in periodicals including Civil War History, Civil War Times Illustrated, and North & South as well as authoring Jeff Davis's Colonels and serving as coauthor of Texas Burial Sites of Civil War Notables.

Well researched, well written, comprehensible and easily understood by the WBTS buff, historical reader and average reader. Happy to recommend More Generals in Gray, Bruce S. Allardice, is A Companion Volume

Reviewed first for author, member of Author's Den

September Wind
Kathleen Anderson
Solstice Publishing
P.O. Box 460455, Denver, CO 80246
9781492393306, $16.99, 528 pages,

Genre: Coming of Age

Entertaining Read, 4.5 stars, Highly Recommended

September Wind penned by Kathleen Janz-Anderson opens with a prologue and we meet Rachael laying across her bed, angry and in tears. Pregnant, unmarried, 1940 Illinois was not a forgiving setting for a girl not quite 18.

Emily faces life with her uncles and grandfather following the death of the woman who tended to her following her birth and the death of her mother soon after that birth. Kept at home tending to a growing list of chores Emily had little time to relish the joys of childhood. Going to school following a visit from the school board, making a friend, and then losing her friend to drowning all had an effect on Emily.

Emily's childhood moves forward filled with drudgery, school, end of schooling, young love, and loss when her friend and his family move away and culminates with an attack terminating with her using a pitchfork to stop the assault.

Then life becomes one of running away, fear of being found, arrival in San Francisco and carving out a life filled with ups and downs, meeting people, never quite able to trust, but always filled with mettle and anticipation and insight that her father may be alive somewhere.

Writer Janz-Anderson's grasp of writing methodology preceding the initiation of her gripping tale is very evident and holds her in good stead. Furthering Anderson's vigilant groundwork is her attention to detail. Writer Anderson weaves a fast, well written narrative filled with sentiment, courage and reaction. Characters are credible, storyline is well plotted, writing is filled with more than enough importance to keep the reader turning the page.

September Wind is a bang-up, coming of age, narrative assured to hold reader interest right from the prologue as we meet the characters peopling the book and right on to the closing paragraphs when we find Emily at last facing a life filled with expectation and faith and confidence.

Writer Janz-Anderson presents a cleverly wrought work filled with the tension of the farmhouse, the elderly unapproachable grandfather and his grown sons set against a backdrop of farming, and anger and family secret not revealed to Emily, but always hanging over them all and always leading to strain. On the periphery is Emily's elderly aunt, seeming as unreachable as is Emily's grandfather, but now and again showing small indications that she is not quite so thorny or remote as might be thought.

The writing set down in September Wind's riveting chronology is well thought out providing a powerful read. Filled with compelling settings, down to earth, believable dialogue, fiduciary interaction between the characters and a persuasive theme, September Wind is an electrifying read meant to be appreciated.

Tension between Emily and the various members of her childhood family is something we can believe as is the interplay between Emily and the various players she meets following her leaving the farm and the anguish, anguish and aguish experienced there.

It is a relief to this reader that Emily may, at last, be on the road to a new life filled with more confidence, happiness and optimism.

Rare Breeds
Terry Bridge
Chartwell Books
c/o Quayside Publishing Group
400 First Avenue North, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780785826460, $14.99, 256 pages,

Genre: Non Fiction

Rare Breeds Unusual farm animals from around the world offered by Terry Bridge is a thought-provoking, captivating accumulation highlighting Cattle, Pigs, Goats, Sheep and Horses that may have once been familiar on ranches and farms, or are now beginning to supersede some of the long established critters raised in a particular region for decades and more.
I grew up in an agricultural country, spent part of my childhood living on a dairy, and have always relished the feel of soil in my fingers, have used whinny pooh for years as soil additive for my garden beds. Know the difference between hot manure, as in chicken droppings, warm as in needing to mellow a bit before being applied to the soil, cattle droppings are in this category and cool manure, horse droppings, these can be applied any time and will not burn the cultivars. And can walk barefoot in the pasture and not become hysterical when a hidden cow pie squishes between my toes, it DOES wash off.

Rural Life, County Fairs and oddities of critters tend to interest me, I rushed this book off the shelf quickly.

Livestock is animals raised in rural areas to produce items meant for apparel, foodstuff and revenue. Rare breeds are those critters not commonplace to today's agriculture. The term breeding stock is applied to a group of animals selected for particular traits in hopes to purify, better and improve the egg laying, meat producing, hair quality or whatever the trait desired.
Beginning with cattle, chapter 1, a gorgeous Aberdeen Angus is seen, a tuft of green grass in her mouth gazing into the camera. This particular breed developed during the early 19th century by cross breeding polled and black cattle in the Scottish north east. Breed standards encompass nearly any quality imaginable from temperament, appearance, movement, history of the breed, and use whether as meat producing, or as in the case of Angora goats the amount of valuable hair available per animal.

I found interesting that The American, a sturdy native to the United States is known for its history as an American bison hybrid. Developed during the 1950s this animal can survive on the poor fodder of the arid American south west. With genetics including Hereford, Shorthorn and Charolais as well as Brahman and bison most American display a slight hump, floppy ears and may have horns. Coloring is varied, ears are down turned.

Ankole Watusi's are slender African natives bearing very large distinctive horns capable of cooling blood via air passing over the honey comb of blood vessels in the horns thus lowering the body temperatures. With a life span of some 20 years this medium sized animal has gained popularity in Australia, North and South America, and Europe. I have seen some on ranches here in Oklahoma.

From the double muscled Belgian Blue, a large meat producing breed I got to see several years ago at the State Fair, to the French Blonde D'Aquitane to the Swiss Braunvieh to the Italian Chianina cattle having special traits deemed important to a particular culture, society and region on earth have been developed, grown in popularity or have been supplanted by another having traits more prized today.

Today many people are returning to a semi-rural life, on smaller acreages, and are beginning to search out mini sized cattle including the Dexter, the smallest of the European cattle breeds, weighing about 600 pounds it is about a third the size of a Friesian milking cow. I often see specialty mini cattle at our local county fair including small cattle resembling the Dutch Belted, often called Oreo Cookie Cows, or some African mini cattle resembling Brahmans.

Dairy cattle mentioned in this book include Ayershire, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey while beef cattle include Charolais, Salers, Angus and Santa Gertrudis.

Featured on the cover of the book is a shaggy Highland from Scotland, often only seen by American children in a zoo, Tulsa, Oklahoma is one zoo having a Highland in the children's zoo area.

Chapter 2 offers a peek at hogs including American Yorkshire and Chester White another American breed. The Hampshire is a banded animal having erect ears, a black body and white band around the center of the body giving the appearance that this well dressed critter is wearing black pants and white shirt. The Lacombe breed developed from breeding work begun during the late 1940s and produces a large meaty hog having excellent weaning weight record, and huge floppy ears.

I have never seen a Mulefoot, but hope to someday, this swine breed is named for its solid hoof similar to the hoof of a mule. A popular breed during the early 1900s the breed has all but vanished and is today listed as critically rare.

Also listed in this work is the Poland China, the first developed breed of swine in the USA, originating in the Miami Valley of Ohio, The Red Wattle, a large red hog having wattles attached to either side of the neck. The wattles serve no known purpose. An English breed, the Tamworth, get along well with cattle and the Vietnamese Potbelly round out the section devoted to swine. Potbelly pigs begin small, but can attain a good bit of girth and often are kept more or less as pets as are other miniature pigs including Gottinger, Resident of Munich, and Kunekunes.

Chapter 3 devoted to a selection of goats opens with a photo and information of the hardy, milk producing Alpine. Angora goats prized for their lush hair, mohair, were depicted on Turkish banknotes during the late 1930s through early 1950s. Shorn twice a year a single Angora produces 11 - 18 pounds of hair each year.

Boers developed in South Africa are a meat goat having high resistance to disease and adapt well to hot, dry arid areas. Golden Guernsey; Kiko; Kinder a cross between Pygmy and Nubian goats; Lamancha, a milk goat; another milk goat, the Nigerian Dwarf are all noted in the work. Pygmy and Nubians are goats often seen in this area. The small sized Pygmy is a favorite of children's petting zoos. The Toggenburg, the oldest known dairy breed of goats is named for an area in Switzerland where they originated. A medium sized animal the Toggenburg does well in cooler climes.

Chapter 4 presents sheep. The first listed is the Barbados Blackbelly, a line of sheep developed in the Caribbean. Introduced into the US in 1972 the fleece from the Black Welsh Mountain sheep is gaining notice from home spinners and weavers. Bluefaced Leicester, Border Cheviot, Brecknock Hill Cheviot and British Milk, a large beefy animal having demi lustre wool and Ewes presenting a 300 day lactation period these are all around critters for the serious sheet enthusiast. The dual purpose, fleece and meat, Corriedal is the oldest of the cross breeds developed during the late 1860s to early 1900s was first brought to the US in 1914. Cotswold, originating in south central England is a heavily fleeced breed, seen now and then in American zoos, where their shaggy coats catch the eye of passersby.

Our Tulsa zoo has Jacob sheep, these are an English breed noted for their multiple horns. Dorset, East Friesian, Finnsheep, Gulf Coast Native, Icelandic and Hog Island are some of the colorful names of sheep noted in the book.

Chapter 5 relates facts regarding the equine farm population. The Brabant, Belgian Heavy Draft Horse resulted from the heavy soil requiring a horse having excellent pulling power and strong joints enabling it to remove its huge feet from the thick mud of the area in which he lived. The Barbrant has served as the breeding foundation for many of the large draft horse lines.

The Cleveland Bay, Clydesdale, Percheron Shire are all noted in this work devoted to rare agricultural breeds. The Suffolk Punch rounds out the book. Punch is taken from the old word meaning short and hefty, The Punch is chestnut, easy to train, very strong and agile, becoming very rare and are shown, used in ploughing competitions and shown hauling brewery wagons.

This is not a story book per se, it is a very interesting work detailing some of the breeds of critters I have known from childhood and introduces many I have never seen, but would enjoy having opportunity to do so.

This book offers some suggestions for setting up a breeding program and suggestions for maintaining some of the present breeds beginning to decline. While a few breeds of animals are being raised extensively many of the older, interesting and just plain fun breeds are all but disappearing.

All in all the book is well written, provides a wealth of information regarding many agricultural animals, is filled with many photos of animals often not seen any more. Humans have long bred critters to improve productivity, the few breeds used today mean many of the rarer, interesting breeds are being ignored. Realizing the importance of maintaining gene pool capability enables enthusiasts who are setting up small breeding programs to conserve for the future farm animals for future generations to know and enjoy.

Entertaining Read 5 stars Highly Recommended

Kitchens and Gadgets 1920 to 1950
Jane H. Celehar
Wallace-Homestead Book Company
201 King Of Prussia Road, Radnor, PA 19087
9780870693588, $TBA, 156 pages,

Kitchens and Gadgets 1920 to 1950 by Jane H. Celehar a comprehensive guide to the identification, history and values of colored handled gadgets and the kitchens in which they were used.

I have collected Depression Era kitchen glassware along with gadgets, gizmos and thingamajigs for many years. Some I noticed in use in the kitchens of my grandmother and aging aunts. Others I have discovered at garage sales, in jumble shops, and estate sales. Some of the pieces I own are suspended from ceiling hooks, or rest on the walls in my kitchen and breakfast nook, and, some are in use when I slice a tomato or open a can.

This particular paperback is my own and has proven itself vital over the many years I have scanned its pages searching for yet another captivating doohickey whose name and function may be as yet unfamiliar to me.

This work with 136 pages chockfull with explanations and portrayals of numerous of the many items created during the Depression era is rightly a worthy resource for the serious accumulator of green handled kitchen gadgets.

Many of us who accumulate soon recognize that we need to confine our fervor to a solitary paint, there were red and black and green and other colored handles of gadgets produced. I chose to collect green.

Or. we will need to choose a single element to collect, from among the many kitchen gadgets just waiting to be lifted from a dusty shelf to be taken home by an eager collector.

I find this exacting edition to be a prized resource. Acknowledgements and introduction are presented on 1 single page each. The author specifically notes that Ekco Housewares Company provided occasion for Celehar to examine A & J and Ekco catalogs from the 1920s to 1950s and provided catalog pages for use illustrating pages in the paperback. Illustrations are most beneficial when trying to identify a particular item, use, handle type and the like.

For decades the kitchen was the step child of the home. It was frequently a small, cramped chamber unseen at the back of the house, or, was often an unattached small structure near the back door. At the turn of the century when wood both heated homes and provided fuel for cooking; just preparing a meal during summer tended to heat food, home and everyone concerned.

As character of the kitchen and use of the room and its trappings began to transform; came a need for contraptions used for preparing foods and garnishes. The kitchen developed into a pivotal arena of the home providing a locale for rallying and dining and conversation. Where a knife for cutting and a large spoon for beating once epitomized much of the tool ware found in kitchens suddenly there were Baking Tools and Knife Sharpeners, Bottle Openers and Mixing Tools. And, there was color.

The Table of Contents lists pages, and classes of items available for collectors as well as showing some of the development from the single Hoosier Cabinet to the expansive array of gizmos produced.

Table of Contents lists American Kitchens 1920 - 1950 with pages in color as well as black and white;

Manufacturers from A to Z, 8 pages;

A Guide to Trademarks covers 6 pages, and proves invaluable for the serious collector;
Finding and Purchasing Kitchen Tools provides cautionary notes including that as antique kitchen gadgets become less available, prices soar and how to care for these gems so that the price paid is not diminished with handling or improper washing technology.

Background, Color and Dating information is 9 pages, filled with information regarding when, by whom and what was being produced. Dating and Patent Numbers is presented as a single page.

Then the gadgets themselves are listed:

Baking Tools beginning on page 68 lists cookie cutters, cake and sandwich cutters, biscuit cutters, revolving cookie cutters note: how anyone made cookies with these things I have yet to deduce, I have one and a more gnarly gizmo I have yet to attempt to use, but it looks good hanging up near the ceiling in the kitchen.

Dough blenders, Pie Crimpers, Pastry Blenders that appear much as a lifter might to the uninitiated, as well as rubber scrapers, rolling pins and an interesting pie lifter are all shown and described in detail over 5 pages.

Beaters and Whippers beginning on page 73 includes spiral whisks resembling modern gizmos, as well as flat wire whips in various oval to round design with green or other colored wooden handles as well as a series of vari shaped whisks and a one hand automatic eggbeater are detailed. More recognized egg beaters of the handle, rotating wheel and blades in the bowl are shown over 4 pages. Beater and Bowl, or Ptcher Sets and even an electric powered glass bowl and beater, 1933, rounds out the section. I will admit I have too many egg beaters, and a Beater and Bowl or two as well as several of these whisks.

Bottle, Can and Jar Openers, Lifters and Wrenches begins on page 82 and specifies varied gadgets provided for removing corks and/or lids from bottles, in addition to lids removed by hand powered, stab in the point and move the can opener around the top of the can gizmos. These lethal devices did remove lids from cans, I suspect at times to the tune of a good bit of swearing and reaching for bandages, I have several of the things, and on occasion have used one or the other for removing a lid. Cut was never particularly true or smooth, but somehow lids did get removed and meals were prepared.

A & J and Ekco began production of Miracle(TM) Can openers, the design continues in production to today. Handheld openers and wall mount openers also were introduced during the depression era, many continue in use to the present.

Jar Lifters devices used then and now by home canners for lifting hot jars filled with fruit, jams or vegetables from pots filled with boiling water. The early lifters proved an outstanding archetype; the ones accessible on the shelf at the big box store for home canners today has changed little from those offered during the 1930s.

Jar Openers and Wrenches are used for releasing or tightening metal screw type lids and caps. Once more, the design presented during the depression era is used today for the same use.

Choppers and Mincers are hand powered, bladed mechanical and rotary cutting and shredding devices. Some are a simple blade with wooden handle while others are a mite more elaborate, all deliver the result, and maybe save fingers from scrapes and cuts as onions or other items are hacked into miniscule bits using something other than a sharp kitchen knife.

I have choppers and mincers, they spend most of their time hanging on the wall. I do have a glass cup or jar and chopper devices too. Choppers include devices using up down movement to raise and lower the bladed end of the device in the glass cup or bowl, others, particularly convenient for chopping nutmeats, have handle or key turn chopping gizmo which fit onto top of glass jar.

Rotary Mincers offered by numerous companies were used for narrow chopping, creating strips, of meats, fruits, vegetable, orange rind, parsley and homemade noodles.

Cutting Tools (Other Than Knives) begins on page 94 and specifies fruit and vegetable ballers or scoops, butter curlers, corers, and parers, grapefruit corers and French Fry Cutters, Fruit pitters, and garnishers, graters in several different designs as well as ice cream scoops and ice picks of many designs. Parers, peelers, slicers and graters are included in this section.

Juicers begins on page 102 and includes Juice O Mat(TM), Orange Flow(TM), Speedo Super Juicer(TM) and KwikWay(TM) are shown and detailed. Also included are the Handy Andy, and Universal fruit juice extractor. While I do have a number of glass reamers, I do not collect many metal juicers. The ones I have are mainly display items.

Knives and Knife Sharpeners beginning on page 105 includes Bread knives, Cake and Pie Servers, and grapefruit knives, fruit knives, paring knives, spatulas, Utility Knives, and spatulas along with Knife sharpeners. I have several knife sharpeners, and have yet to be able to sharpen a knife using one of them. Sharpening Stones and Rods are also shown, these I can use for sharpening.

Mashers, Pounders, Ricers, Food Presses, and Food Mills begin on page 109 and feature many designs of mashers including round, mesh and one with spokes. Pounders are wooden while meat tenderizers resemble axes with blades and ax type head. Ricers includes a whisk type, a push through mesh and one design that has continued to today with a perforated basked and pull down pressure panel.

Measuring Tools begins on page 113 and details measuring cups, scoops, spoons and scales. My own collection of measuring tools is mostly glass.

Mixing and Cooking Tools beginning on page 116 features beaters resembling lifting tools and slotted spoons as well as a Foley Fork, strainer resembling a lifter and a slotted mixing spoon. Coffee pots show a Drip O Later(TM) while a hand powered Toddy mixer with clear glass tumbler reads A meal in a glass.

Popcorn poppers, the handled basket for holding over flame type are detailed as is an early electric popper. Also noted are egg poachers for cooking eggs sans shell in boiling water, these are used by submerging the gizmo with egg into the water.

Egg lifters resembling ones seen today had wooden handles.

Two and three tine forks for lifting and holding or stabbing meats and vegetables. I do have several of these with green handles, and use often for lifting and holding turkey and the like during holiday meals. Ladles and strainers, pan drainers, basting spoons and scrapers are all discussed.

At one point I embarked upon search for into electric appliances and treasure my few toasters. They take up a lot of space on the shelf, nonetheless I was pleased to see one of the very early ones shown in the book, and its twin sitting in my breakfast nook.
Lifters, often referred to as pancake turners came with wooden handles and slotted, pierced and dotted blades.

Early electric waffle irons were a far cry to the ones we enjoy today. I have none, they too take up too much shelf space.

Sifters and Strainers beginning on page 124 commence with Rotary Sifters. While any dry ingredient might be sifted, we called the one used in Mama's kitchen a flour sifter. The basic design has changed little, a circular metal tube, mesh at the bottom, turn handle and a wire or other device for moving the flour through the mesh. Depression era sifters had wooden handles for turning. I have several used mainly for deco along wall area just below ceiling in kitchen.

Horizontal Sifters feature a shaker type, to and fro sifting while trigger action sifters were used via a squeeze handle. Arthritis in my hands precludes my using mine for sifting, it hangs on the wall. I do use one having a green rotation type handle.

Tea and Coffee Strainers used to separate liquids from solids by pouring through wire mesh featured wooden handles and perforated metal or mesh bowl. Strainers can be found in a variety of sizes.

This book also discusses a few other specialty items, ones I do not collect, including curing iron, heated on stove, non-electric; various brushes and mops, and shows a green handle, electric clothes iron.

Children during depression era as now enjoyed toys similar to those mom used, and various toy kitchen collectibles can be found. I do not collect these.

Writer Celehar offers a 2 page Bibliography. And closes with an A - Z index.

On the whole this is a well-researched edition describing many of the gadgets and devices obtainable during the Depression era. For the novice or serious collector this book helps guide understanding for use, appeal and purpose of the many items we can discover, perhaps use and fill our shelves, walls, cupboards, rooms, barn ...

Prices are shown for items, a note of caution, because a price is shown as the going rate today may or may not mean a thing in the market place.

Items in a dusty box may be marked as .25 each and show in the book as $2.50, buying the item with a notion that a quick profit is to be made may or may not come to fruition.

Prices vary from state to state, collector to collector and economy of the country, condition of the item, etc.

I buy only things I like, and have a set price I am willing to pay in mind before I go to the sale, shop or whatever. If the seller will not haggle and the price is too great, I walk away.

Knowing what you are looking at may be a huge advantage. I take my book along when I go on a foraging mission. My book published many years ago is still timely, the items showcased have not changed, only prices listed would be different in a newer edition. I will continue to use mine despite loose pages and notes penned in margins.

Well written, well researched, good resource Happy to Recommend Kitchens and Gadgets 1920 to 1950 by Jane H. Celehar.

Pages were not stapled or sewn into book, and after 3 decades plus of usage some pages are falling out. Even so, I still do not plan to replace.

Molly Martin

Paul's Bookshelf

Rheo Palaeo
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington, IN 47403
9781477299807, $16.95, 162 pages, 2013,

This novel is set several hundred years from now, when Mankind has spread out throughout the galaxy.

Nearly every political and sociological way of life, from anarchism to communism, has been tried somewhere. A series of wormholes, both natural and artificial, has aided Mankind's expansion. Earth is no longer the "center" of Mankind. Rumors start to spread of a new, and very powerful, drug called Unrecognizer.

It temporarily disables the part of the brain that understands human speech, and the part that allows a person to speak. That's why it is also called Mute. A sort of cult has grown up around the drug. In some places, it is practically worshiped. A first-time user of the drug is called a "newborn." Of course, smuggling the drug can be very lucrative, and very dangerous, as one character discovers, the hard way.

Another side effect of the drug is that it gives some people strong psychic and telekinetic powers, with little or no distance limit. Can the pro-Unrecognizer forces get past corrupt police and politicians on nearly every planet to spread the drug far and wide, and maybe bring about a new system of galaxy-wide government?

This story easily gets four stars, maybe 4.5 stars. It has some interesting economic and political ideas, and it's also a good story. The reader won't go wrong with this one.

Reviewed by Paul Lappen for the Kindle Book Review. The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.

An Abduction Revelation: The Comeback Kid Returns
Thomas L. Hay
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
9781452559575, 194 pages, $14.99,

This book is about an average person with an almost unbelievable story to tell, a story that involves abduction by aliens.

Hay lived a rather normal life. He joined the Navy after high school, becoming a radioman, and getting very good at sending Morse Code. After the Navy, he married Claudia, and settled down to a normal life, except for the part about being abducted by aliens. With no prior warning, one night Claudia asks for a divorce (at the end of the book, Hay learns that she had a very good reason).

While living and working in Saudi Arabia, Hay falls in love with Fiza, an Arabian woman (very bad idea). They keep their relationship very quiet, but the male members of her family find about it, so Hay has to practically run to the airport to catch the next plane out of the country. They re-connect outside of Saudi Arabia, get secretly married and live in America, but things end very badly.

In the depths of depression, Hay is visited by a couple of men from NASA, with an invitation to join a Top Secret project. It seems that all the reports of UFO sightings and abductions since the mid-20th century are not all mass delusions; they happen to be true. Hay is able to telepathically communicate with a real alien, who really is not so alien after all. He also learns why, during an earlier visitation, the aliens took some sperm from him. The alien race is sterile; Hay is asked for his assistance. This is one of those decisions where there is no going back. What is his decision?

Hay had some memories of his abduction experiences, so he wrote a book about them. Claudia discovered a way to totally neutralize the alien mental blocks that were put in her head. Hay tried it, and he suddenly remembered everything that happened to him. He felt compelled to write a revised and updated book about his abduction experiences; this is the book. The reader can decide if this is fiction or non-fiction; the author insists that it is a true story. Either way, it works really well. It's very well-written and easy to read, with more than enough "strange" in it. Yes, this deserves five stars.

Reviewed by Paul Lappen for the Kindle Book Review. The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Fabulous Features of Mythical Creatures
Paul Perro
Amazon Digital Services
PO Box 81207, Seattle, WA 98108
B00GZ9CHGA, $0.99, 17 pages,

Imagine you and your child are reading a book together on your Kindle. Suddenly a kraken appears out of nowhere in the story. Your child asks, "What's a kraken?" If you remembered to download Paul Perro's "Fabulous Features of Mythical Creatures" the answer is a click away:

"The kraken is a giant squid
That lives under the sea.
Sometimes when it gets hungry it
Has fish and ships for tea."

You will both share a good laugh over this and your child will actually learn what a kraken is. Perro's brilliant and comical illustrations reduce these monsters to a manageable size and tame them with fabulousness. "Fabulous Features of Mythical Creatures" is a sweet and simple way to introduce young children to mythology.

Ice Dogs
Terry Lynn Johnson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue S, New York, NY 10003
9780547899268, $16.99, 288 pages,

Fourteen-year old Victoria Secord is one of Alaska's top junior sled dog racers. After qualifying for the race of all races, the White Wolf Classic, she gets it in her head she needs a new lead dog. She sets off on a "quick" 35-mile trip with a small team of six dogs hoping to get first pick of a dog team for sale. She remembers her compass and the map but forgets to check the weather. In the midst of a surprise snowstorm she and her dog team stumble upon a wrecked snowmobile. The injured passenger nearby turns out to be the new kid in school, a clueless city boy named Chris. Eager to get rid of her passenger Vicky follows his directions to take him home and together they become hopelessly lost in the wilderness. In order to survive, Vicky draws on the skills her father taught her plus the strength of her dog team and the bond she shares with them. Terry Lynn Johnson's life as a musher reveals itself in her attention to detail that drops the reader right onto the snow-packed trails. Brace yourself for a wild ride through the unpredictable Alaskan wilderness. "Ice Dogs" is a heart-pounding, riveting adventure story not just for middle grade readers.

A Perfect Day for Digging
Written by Cari Best
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Two Lions Publishing
PO Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89140
9781477847060, $17.99, 32 pages,

Nell and her dog Rusty love digging in the dirt. But their friend Norman hates to get dirty so he hangs out and watches them. One by one, Nell and Rusty unearth a variety of interesting treasures. How long will Norman remain on the fence sitting on his hands before he is overcome by the excitement of digging in the dirt? Christine Davenier's vibrant watercolor illustrations combine the right amount of mayhem and humor to draw young readers into the fun. "A Perfect Day for Digging" is the perfect book to celebrate the arrival of spring. However if you happen to find yourself digging in the dirt after reading it, don't say I didn't warn you!

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Sandra's Bookshelf

The Burn List
Stan Stamper
Hugo Publishing
128 East Jackson Street, Hugo, OK. 74743
9780988264625, $14.95, 372 pages,

One thing I like about this author is that within two pages you go from 0 to 60. This book is action packed and never a dull moment. I enjoyed the way each character is thought out and intelligent.

The way this book is written there is no room for error in this story line. It hits you fast and keeps you reading. Annie is a reporter who is trying to take down the mob in Miami. AS her husband and son got in the car while she was locking the house. Then all of a sudden she hears an explosion and as she turns to look she sees both her husband and son on fire.

After two years in a mental hospital her brother an ex-Navy Seal, checks her out of the hospital, and begins to wean her off of the medications she was on. He is successful and all I can say is the mob is going down fast.

Good read but I have to say PG 16

Mystery at the Lake House #2 The Mermaid's tale
Laura S. and William L.B. Wharton
Broad Creek Press
P.O BOX 43, Mt. Airy, NC 27030
9780983714873, $9.99, 186 pages, www.JockAvery/

Once again we are find Jock, Lynna and Chip who always seem to find an adventure. Only this time it is really different as Chip who is the youngest of the three swears he saw a mermaid. No one believes him until one by one they see her also. In book number two we learn about Mermaids and the importance of keeping all of our waterways clean and safe.

I loved reading the interview with William Wharton. I think he is a good example for all young writers. Then the interview with the Mermaid Linden was educational.

This little gem also has some recipes that sound really good. I can't wait to try them.

Rated G

Sandra Heptinstall

Susan's Bookshelf

Something Old, Something New
James R. Vance
RealTime Publishing
9781849611985, $12.56. 246 Pages,

About the Author: Originally from England, I now live in rural south west France. My first novels, 'Animal Instinct', 'Killer Butterfly' and 'The Courier' were published between 2008 and 2010. They formed a trilogy depicting the careers of two detectives. My knowledge of Cheshire and Greater Manchester is apparent in both 'Animal Instinct' and 'Killer Butterfly'. The final novel of the trilogy,'The Courier', uses my experience of working in France and London as an inspiration for the storyline. My fourth novel 'Eight', published in 2011,is a crime fiction novel set mostly in France, a sequel to the trilogy featuring one of the detectives and a former suspect. My knowledge of both countries enabled me to provide a backdrop for the plot. During this same period, I also wrote and published a children's short story, 'Goose'.

Having discovered that I live in an area swamped by a rich tapestry of war-time memories, I have since dedicated my time to unearthing stories of resistance activities in this region before the extraordinary tales disappear along with the ageing survivors of that period. My novel, 'Les Ruines', was my first foray into the genre of historical fiction. After researching local sites and listening to personal recollections of French Resistance exploits during WWII, I produced a mysterious tale of tragic events involving betrayal, retribution and chaos during the fragmented liberation of France. The novel was exhibited at the London Book Fair 2012 and a version of the novel in French will be available towards the end of 2013.

In April 2013, I published my next historical fiction project, 'Risk', about agents of the Special Operations Executive who organised evaders' escape lines from occupied France during the Second World War. Combining romance and tragedy, the novel will have subtle links to 'Les Ruines'. To learn more about these wartime exploits, I became a member of E.L.M.S. the Escape Lines Memorial Society, based in the U.K.

About the Book: Historical fiction novel, set in France depicting the conflict that still exists amongst families since the Nazi occupation of WWII. Two young sisters discover war memorabilia hidden in their grandmother's trunk in an attic. They set out to trace their family history, an exploit that triggers devastating consequences.

Our path through life, right from the beginning is composed of a series of small events. These, sometimes imperceptibly, cause change and each of these seemingly insignificant junctions cause a ripple effect, the results of which shape our lives. Sometimes, these junctions are hidden innocently, impossible for foresee and with no apparent ability to affect our future.

The story, which Elodie Arnaud recounts, starts innocently enough with her sister Monique's fascination with the quaint English bridal tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Soon to be married to Gerard Thiebaud, the determined Monique convinces her sister Elodie to go with her into the attic and find their grandmother's trunk. Monique reasoned that surely, there must be something, which she could use; however, nothing could have prepared them for the repercussions that simple action caused.

Their grandmother, Marie Lafond had lived in Montauban, a large town in the Tarn-et-Garonne region of France during WW2, and during the war, she had been only a teenager, with a teenager's perspective on life. The decisions she made and events in Oradour-sur-Glane, a village in the department of Haute-Vienne, are the substance of this book.

The Oradour-sur-Glane lived in today, is new, and built on the orders of Charles de Gaulle after WW2. The original village, which Marie would have known, stands as a permanent memorial and museum to the 642 men, women and children, slaughtered by the 2nd Panzer Division of the German SS on the 10th June 1944.

If you live in a rural community anywhere in the world, you accept that they are very close knit, with memories which are carried down through the generations. I live in rural France where the war is still so apparent both in monuments and remembrance days in every village; the horror of their lives through occupation and the work of the resistance, are very plain to see, even now.

This book is a beautifully written chronicle of the life of one family through three generations. The author, through meticulous research has given the reader a wonderful insight into what it would have been like to grow up and live in France under occupation.

Through Elodie and Monique's discoveries and reflections, we learn how the outlook of modern generations has changed, on the surface, but then memories for some people, run deep.

Lest We Forget... Bella... A French Life - The Cookbook
Marilyn Z. Tomlins
Raven Crest Books
B00HYN2W4S, $1.65, Website:

About the book:
Since the launch of Bella...A French Life in 2013, reviewers have loved the novel for the way it immerses the reader into rural France; helped in no small way by the descriptions of French cooking that Bella creates for the men in her life or while dining in restaurants.

The cooking is seamlessly woven into the text such that while evoking the sights, smells and tastes of Normandy, it isn't easy for the reader to replicate these themselves.

So by popular demand, here is Bella... A French Life - The Cookbook.

It details the recipes from the novel with complete ingredients lists, methods, how to serve and what wine to drink with. All this set against a narrative of events in the novel that inspired them.

This is a beautifully written cook book, which not only contains wonderful recipes in various categories, Starters, Meat, Fish and Seafood, Chicken, Duck and Rabbit, Cake and Cookies but also provides the reader with the correct solution to that age old question "Which Wine With What? "

It is universally accepted, that the French are a nation of food lovers, producing recipes using exquisite ingredients. Living here, in France the importance of food is really brought home to you. The dinner table is the place for the family, eating and discussing topics, sometimes for hours at a time, over numerous courses of delicious food, which is freshly produced, and enjoyed with a fine glass or two of wine.

I have already read Bella... A French Life, and followed her fortunes, firstly as a paediatrician and then as a busy guest house keeper, so, I immediately felt at home with her in le Presbytere. The author sets the scenes beautifully with each recipe, which Bella shares with us. The recipes have either been made by herself, prepared by her wonderful chef Gertrude Duc, or enjoyed in the restaurants near to her home on the Normandy coast.

Some of the dishes you will recognise, others will be new to you. The only advice I will give is that, whether you are an experienced cook or not, there are recipes for everyone. Most importantly, as Bella says you can improvise, it's okay, tailor them to suit you, or the person[s] you are cooking for, that way you will enjoy the whole experience much more.

The only thing which has stopped me giving this book a 5 star is the lack of pictures, in my opinion, no cookery book should be without them.

The Treebobs and the Runaway Cauldron
Declan Harney
Tales4All Limmited
B00A4443KU, $3.39

About the Book: With Rotten Rena failing in all her wicked spells she is warned that she faces being expelled from the Witches Union unless she "bucks her ideas up" - and how can she do this? Well of course one person who has the answer and who always knows best is Rotten Rena's mother who forces her to enter the witches great egg and cauldron race. Poor old Rotten Rena simply hasn't got a hope of winning especially when her Cauldron runs away.

So the Treebob's faced with Rena being replaced by a far more wicked witch who would be much worse than Rena decide to help Rena win the race in the most wonderfully wicked way you can imagine!

Rotten Rena the witch is in trouble. She has received receives a gramagram from her very unhappy mother who has said that unless she wins The Great Egg and Cauldron Race she will lose her home. Desolate, Rotten Rena knows that she must win, but how can she?

Her cauldron is not very helpful, but luckily, her Treebob friends and Bindweed Belle the Fairy decide to help her. But first they have to get her cauldron to agree, and then hatch a plan to win the race.

Will they manage to save the day?

I loved listening to this magical children's audio book in the Treebob series, written by the talented Declan Harney. The brilliant narration of Lindsay Abbot bought the characters wonderfully to life, and I would imagine any child would love this book.

The Time Portal 5: The Nazi
Joe Corso
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781495306389, $13.39, 236 Pages,

About Joe Corso: I grew up in Queens,New York and my motivation to write came from my wish to help my grandchildren pay for their college education. So far I've completed 14 novels and a number of short stories including my popular 'ENGINE 24 FIRE STORIES' trilogy and I've just finished the 5th installment in the 'TIME PORTAL' series. I'm just completed 'LAFITTE'S TREASURE' and then I plan to revisit 'THE STARLIGHT CLUB 5 which I shelved about a year ago, When that book is finished I will write a sequel to my western 'THE ADVENTURES OF THE LONE JACK KID', titled 'THE RETURN OF THE LONE JACK KID'. AWARDS THE STARLIGHT CLUB won the silver in the 2012 eLit contest in the 'TRUE CRIME' category'. In 2013 the book won HONORABLE MENTION in the 'HISTORICAL FICTION' category'. THE LONE JACK KID won 'FINALIST' in the 2013 Readers Favorite in the 'WESTERN' category. My short story 'FIRE: BOX 598' won the BRONZE in the 2013...

About the Book: What if you discovered a portal that took you to the 12th Century, where you met, fell in love with, and married a princess, had a child together, and then you discovered that you might never see them again?

Lucky finds himself in this peculiarly unique situation when he discovers he no longer can access The Time Portal. Because of obligations in the present, Lucky uses the time portal and leaves the 12th Century, his princess, and his son. But unknown to him, his enemies are waiting patiently for his return, and several questions are raised as Lucky tries to regain control of his powers.

Adolph Mueller - Nazi billionaire - has pledged to destroy his enemies, but he needs Lucky's unique abilities to accomplish it. What powers do the titanium bracelets that were placed on Lucky's wrists hold over him?

Lucky has decided to bring a soldier back to the present with him from the past, but for what reason?

Why do the priests of the Spanish inquisition still pursue Lucky's wife and child?

Lucky, in his weakened state, must somehow find a way to return to the past to help save the woman he loves...

In Germany during WWII, a young Adolph Mueller Jr., is befriended by the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler.

Falling in love for Lucky Campo knows no boundaries. He has been given the gift of time travel and his heart lies with the Princess Krystina and their son, in Medieval England at the court of King Richard where he is known as the wizard. They marry, and things could not be happier, until Lucky senses that his friends in the present day need him, and so, he has to leave his family in the trusted hands of his good friend Tor and return.

Back in the present day, he is dismayed at the turn of events; two of his friends have been taken hostage, and then he makes a discovery, which has devastating effects. However, whilst Lucky is fighting evil in the present, he is unaware of what's happening in the past....

The Time Portal series of books are amazing, true escapism. As we travel through the time portals with Lucky and his friends, we are treated to snap shots in time, visiting historical events as they happen, meeting people from the past, and visit places many of us will never see, some destroyed forever, before we were born.

Another exciting science fiction adventure from this talented author, which stands-alone, or can be read as part of the series. The prologue sets the scene and after that, it's just pure magic!

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Teri's Bookshelf

After Eli
Terry Kay
Untreed Reads
Brendan Seibel (Publicity)
B00A7UPCO2, $5.99, 271 pages

"Death's just God's way of showin' his believers what it's like to be forever achin' with happiness."

In 1939, it was not unusual for a family living in the Nahella Valley in the Appalachian Mountains to be isolated. Families frequently spent days or weeks without seeing another person outside of their immediate household. Life was different there and then. If someone needs a temporary home when just passing through, it was not unusual to have shelter for the night in a family's barn.

For the drifter, Michael O'Rear this is an opportunity. With his Irish accent and being a previous performer, he also possesses the skills to charm and for people to trust him.

Unfortunately a young couple first met Michael. They pay the price of being hospitable to him. However, they also tell about a neighboring farm where there are just three women: a mother, daughter, and the mother's sister. The father, Eli, just disappeared. The local talk is that Eli stole some money and hid it before he left. To Michael, this seems like a wish come true.

He can read people and has an understanding about their acceptance of him as a stranger.

Michael visits this farm with the legendary hidden treasure of stolen money. Certainly a man with his talents can charm these lonely women into revealing the treasure.

Quickly Michael learns about an elderly woman who has the power of healing in her hands. Even though the community has a local doctor, he even has been astonished about Mama Ada's skills. Mama Ada seems to sense something in Michael but doesn't say a word.

As Michael builds a relationship with Rachel, Sarah, and Dora, they notice that he seems similar to Eli. So Michael feels it is safe for others to believe that he is Eli's distant relative from Ireland.

Terry Kay is best known for his novel To Dance with the White Dog which was made into an award winning Hallmark Hall of Fame production. He has written numerous novels set in the South of life during the depressed times of the 1930s.

After Eli is a unique novel in that the reader has insight that is not immediately revealed to the characters giving depth to each protagonist and trepidation to the antagonist.

In all of Terry Kay's writings all his characters are loved by the author whether good or bad. His stories are reminiscent of a skilled storyteller weaving an enticing tale into a captivating web.

The Valley of Amazement
Amy Tan
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062107312, $29.99, 589 pages,

An American woman becomes pregnant by a Chinese man while he is in America. Being disgraced, she feels that she has no choice but to follow him to his home in Shanghai in the hopes that he will marry her. His family has promised him to another. Even though he loves the American woman, he will not marry her but claims to only love her.

This is the story of Lulu and her daughter, Violet.

Violet Minturn doesn't have friends her own age for many reasons. She is a mixed-race child living in her American mother's courtesan house in Shanghai during the year of 1912.

Lulu, her mother had a relationship with a man from Shanghai while living at her home in California. When she discovered that she was pregnant, her family was obviously upset. They knew that a mixed-race child would unquestionably not fit into their social setting. Violet's father will not marry her mother since he plans to follow his family's wishes and to marry a bride chosen to him for the family. What is her mother to do?

Lulu decides to travel to Shanghai truly believing that he will marry her. His family has to accept her. What are her choices? How do you live you survive in a foreign country where you don't know the language or customs and have been abandoned?

Violet is naturally curious about her past and the identity of her father. Could one of her mother's patrons be her father?

With the collapse of the last Chinese imperial dynasty, life is quickly changing throughout the country. For years, Lulu has relied on the loyalty of her staff and patrons and now that is changing as the country changes. Who can she trust to help her?

Lulu decides that is time to take her daughter back to her native California. She needs to trust another person to retrieve Violet's birth certificate from the embassy. Since the city is rioting, it is not safe for her to be in the streets. She has no choice but to trust.

Through deceit, Violet's mother is on the ship as it leaves for America. Violet is not.

How does a mixed-race child with limited language and real life experiences survive in a country during a revolution?

Dealing with the changes in traditional practices of marriages as well as the influences of the opium usage, the hierarchy and practices of the prostitution trade, gambling dens and the activities of the Green Gang, as well as life in the countryside as opposed to the city are all what makes The Valley of Amazement an outstanding novel for life in Shanghai in the early twentieth century. The theme of this novel is the constant strain of mother/daughter relationships and the perspective of each constantly judging and unfulfilling each others' dreams. The constant battle between control and submission involves both women and their similar lives.

The Valley of Amazement is unquestionably an epic novel covering years for both Violet and her mother with frequent windows into the past which at times is a little confusing. Amy Tan writes the continual story of Lulu, the mother, Violet and with multiple episodes into the past.

The Valley of Amazement does relate some of the previous experiences in Amy Tan's other novels. For a novel that truly pictures Shanghai, The Valley of Amazement truly is amazing. tale.

The Missing: Book 4
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781416989806, $15.99, 352 pages,

Time travelers need to respect continuity and to realize that by changing one small thing, everything in the past, present, and future can and must change.

Jonah and Katherine find themselves on Henry Hudson's ship, Discovery, in the year 1611 just as the crew is ready to mutiny. This historic event places Hudson in a small ship along with his son and a few who are near to death. The doomed boat is never to be heard from again. Jonah quickly discovers that he is to take the place of John Hudson, the son on the boat. Will history repeat itself? Life on the ship, Discovery in the early 1600s life was not easy with the crew low on food, a tired and irritated crew and a captain wanting to extend their exploration into finding the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. Hudson and many other explorers were certain that there had to be a waterway to the other side of the American continent. Logically with the new land explorations and the number of newly discovered waterways, there had to be rivers, streams, and creeks that were unexplored and one could actually reach to the Pacific

Torn is a gripping tale of life and death on the Discovery weaving logic into past history based on real events that were never completely concluded. Taking what is already known of Henry Hudson and creating a character true to the historical documents of the time, Haddix's approach of filling-in the missing information was well-organized in a wonderful science fiction historical mystery.

Torn is the fourth novel in Haddix's Missing series following Found, Sent and Sabotaged. Even with being a part of a series, Torn can easily be understood without having read the previous books. Each of the novels in this series centers around a historical event that has elements that are not well-known such as the Roanoke settlement and in this particular novel, the disappearance of Henry Hudson. Since this was published further books in this series are now available. Caught focusing on Albert Einstein's daughter and Risked is about the Russian Revolution have been.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many middle-grade and teen novels, all of which quickly become the favorite of these tween readers. Her stories are always appropriate for all audiences within gripping tales enjoyed by young and old and all her books are page-turners that cannot be put down. Her series of the Shadow Children is both chilling but realistic science fiction for younger readers.

Torn is a fascinating story teaching history through science fiction.

The Story of Sassy Sweetwater
Vera Jane Cook
Musa Publishing
Lancaster, Ohio
9781619370272, $5.99, 320 pages

Sassy Sweetwater's mother told her that she was named after the nearby Sweetwater Creek, not her father. As Sassy's mother, Violet McLaughlin has decided that it is time to return home with her daughter. She left thirteen years ago as a pregnant seventeen-year-old. Sassy has never met her family.

Life in Carter's Crossing, South Carolina during the year of 1962 has many secrets which Violet's family would prefer to keep hidden. The entire family has been a leading family in the community for generations enough to have their own versions of justice, morality, and obeying the laws. 1962 was before the Civil Rights changed society and the real law frequently varied depending on the color of your skin, the money within your family, and the influence of your status within the community or family.

To Sassy all this is new and a completely different world. With her beautiful mother, Violet, and her bewitching dark looks, Sassy feels strange as a pimply redheaded teenager. She doesn't completely understand life in this closed community. The rules and values are strange to her not to mention that no one completely explains the past events and relationships to her.
The Story of Sassy Sweetwater is a page-turner with the viewpoint of a curious teenager who doesn't feel that she belongs with this family. Even though she is related to this family, the secrets from years ago have permanently changed people's lives are not easily or willingly revealed to her.

The Story of Sassy Sweetwater is unquestionably adult oriented. The story involves many delicate family events that require mature readers. This is also what makes this story fascinating in talking about uncomfortable and unspeakable family events and how the individuals handled these situations without involving law enforcement and attempting to maintain their lives as uncomplicated or normal.

This particular novel would best be categorized as woman's fiction with some history and romance intermixed. The story is well-written and organized by an author who obviously loves her believable characters whether protagonists or antagonists.

Vera Jane Cook is an Award-winning author of ten novels. Although born and raised in New York City, she was unquestionably influence by her beautiful Southern mother while living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The Story of Sassy Sweetwater is a wonderful story of Sassy learning the secrets of her family and her own past.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

Breaking Point
C.J. Box
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425264607, $9.99, Paperback, 448 pp,

One thing you can always count on in a Joe Pickett novel: The environment and topography of Wyoming plays a vital part in the plot. This book is no exception. "Breaking Point" starts with an actual true story as its foundation: the Sackett Case, by which the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 9-0 ruling, declared that the EPA had overstepped in its dealings with the Idaho family.

Similarly, the regional director of the EPA in Denver, began an action against Butch and Pam Roberson, acquaintances of Joe and Marybeth Pickett, setting off a maelstrom in its wake, including four deaths, a forest fire of monumental proportions, and a variety of other results. When two agents serving a compliance order arrived at a plot on which Butch was starting to build a retirement home, they were shot and buried on the property, and Butch fled into the mountains. A massive effort led by the regional director to capture Butch was begun, with Joe forced to guide a posse of agents in his wake.

This reader could envision a much different conclusion than the one the author chose, but up until that point, I found the novel powerful, especially the forest fire scenes and Joe's efforts to return from the mountain. It is a riveting description of the wilderness, and Joe's return apparently sets the stage for his future efforts. Recommended.

The Fame Thief
By Timothy Hallinan
Soho Crime
851 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616952822, $14.95, Paperback, 352 pp.,

Junior Bender, the protagonist in this, the third in this series, has a franchise, according to the eminence grise of Hollywood, the powerful Irwin Dressler, the 93-year-old mob boss. Junior prides himself as a burglar's burglar, and has found himself much in demand by criminals as their own private investigator. And that's why Dressler has two of his goons snatch Junior off the street and bring him to his home. He asks Junior to find out who was responsible for ruining a minor actress' career over 60 years earlier.

This gives the author an opportunity to describe the Hollywood scene of the 1950's, together with the glamour of Las Vegas and the prevalence of mafia bigwigs and run-of-the mill hoodlums. It is a mystery why a minor starlet became so important to the mob that she had a single starring role: testifying at the Estes Kefauver crime hearings.

I did not find Junior not quite as amusing this time around as he was in the first two novels in the series, "Crashed" and "Little Elvises, but Mr. Hallinan makes up for it in the dialogue delivered by Dressler, a Jew who was sent west by the Chicago mob to develop Hollywood and Los Angeles, as well as Las Vegas, for it. This book has quite a plot, and Junior has a tough road to hoe to solve the mystery.


The Broken Places
Ace Atkins
Berkley Trade
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425267752, $16.00, Paperback, 384 pp,

Quinn Colson, in this third novel in the series, has just entered his 18th month as sheriff of his hometown, Jericho, Mississippi, and encounters a tough situation. A convicted killer is pardoned and comes to town, starting a church as a mail-order-ordained reverend. Moreover, to complicate Quinn's life even more, his sister falls in love with the preacher.

Then two armed, violent prisoners escape from prison, and arrive in Jericho looking for the preacher. They believe he has a significant sum of their money from a robbery they committed prior to their incarceration. To top off all the violence that ensues, a tremendous tornado practically wipes out a good portion of Jericho before the plot winds down to a conclusion.

Ace Atkins is a prolific author, and has written ten novels, in addition to two under the Robert B. Parker imprint. "Broken Places" is of the same high quality as his previous efforts, with smooth dialogue, tight plotting, excellent pacing and lots of suspense. The Quinn Colson novels also highlight the sheriff's sense of law and order and right and wrong. The author says the next book in the series will be about the unmaking of Quinn and destruction of all he's helped build since returning home from the army. Should be worth waiting for.


Ordinary Grace
By William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451645859, $16.00, Paperback, 336 pp.,

Sometimes an idea grabs you and won't let go. That's how this novel came about. The story occurred to the author who was busy writing his popular Cork O'Connor novels and festered in his mind for a couple of years before forcing it into the open and onto paper. And it is a good thing it did, because it is a touching tale of a Minnesota family in the summer of 1961.

The novel is a moving portrayal of small town life, of two young boys growing up, of life and death and the lives of those affected by such loss. It is narrated 40 years later by the now-grown-up 13-year-old who looks back at his memories and examines various events and concepts important to him.

"Ordinary Grace" is a departure from the author's previous work and written with even more sensitivity than the wonderful crime novels for which he is best known. In fact, his next one, "Windigo Island," is scheduled for release in August. In the meantime, I suggest you take this one up and read it. Highly recommended.

Robert B. Parker's Wonderland
Ace Atkins
c/o Simon & Schuster
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425270660, $9.99, Paperback, 352 pp,

Well, Ace Atkins signed a contract for three Parker novels, but apparently he didn't agree to the tried and true formula. In this interesting book, he deviates from the usual cast of characters, concentrating on some of the background participants, like Henry Cimoli, proprietor of Spenser's gym, and his sort-of assistant-in-training, the Cree Indian Zebulon Sixkill ("Z")' sending Hawk away to Miami, and Susan Silverman to the Carolinas to teach for a semester. It's an interesting change of pace, contributing strongly to the plot's progression.

The plot revolves around the competition for a casino in Boston, with the usual strong-armed tactics, bribes, politicians and underworld interests. Henry, along with a lot of other senior citizens, lives in a condo on the beach in Revere near a bankrupt dog track named after its former occupant, Wonderland. The coop is a key plot of land giving the proposed casino site on the Wonderland site access to the beach. Physical pressure is put on the coop owners by thugs, and Henry asks Spenser for assistance. And it's Spenser and Z, off to the races.

Atkins has Parker's style down pat, and the dialogue and smart aleck cracks flash by regularly. Spenser remains Spenser and the chapters remain short although some of the paragraphs are longer than in the master's versions. While the conclusion turns out to be an old-fashion motive for some murders, it is entirely believable and appropriate, and the novel is recommended.

Brooklyn Graves
Triss Stein
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464202179, $24.95, Hardcover, 246 pp,

This novel is the second Erica Donato mystery, and, like the first, "Brooklyn Bones," it's not all about a contemporaneous crime, but involves the past. In a way, this is fitting, since the protagonist is working on a PhD in history. As in the first in the series, it takes place in Brooklyn, NY, home of the Green-Wood cemetery, where many Tiffany windows adorn mausoleums, and Brighton Beach, home to numerous Russian immigrants and nicknamed Little Odessa.

The plot involves the murder of a Russian immigrant, Erica's friend and the father of her daughter's friend, whose second job was as a night watchman at the Green-Wood cemetery, and the theft of a Tiffany window from one of its mausoleums. This gives the author the opportunity to delve into history, as she reviews century-old letters of an artist who worked for the famed glassmaker.

The story moves a bit slowly, weighed down by Erica's personal life, complicated by her widowhood, the pressures of her studies, her own insecurities, and the raising of her 15-year-old daughter. But in the end, as Thomas Wolfe wrote, "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn." Yet Triss Stein is carving out that territory as her own.


The Golden Egg
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 1003
9780802122421, $15.00, Paperback, 304 pp,

It is no mean feat to sustain a mystery series at this high a level through 18 novels. Of course, that is just what Donna Leon has accomplished, and more (this is the 19th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery). Of course, "The Golden Egg" features that charming and erudite Venetian detective in a tale that begins with the death of a mentally challenged deaf mute who works in a tailor shop frequented by Brunetti's wife, Paola. She goads Brunetti into looking into the death, which appears to be natural.

At the same time, Brunetti's boss timidly asks him to look into whether or not the mayor's son's fiancee, part owner of a store, is evading taxes or paying bribes to tax officials. The mayor, of course, is running for reelection and could do without any embarrassing revelations. The Commissario solves this one quickly and smoothly, but spends the entire novel on the other investigation, which becomes more complicated with every interview, no part of which is an official inquiry.

The charm of Brunetti's home life, his relationship with his wife, daughter and son are always plusses in the books that make up this series. Unlike most others, the central theme of this novel is not a serious issue, but a personal, subtle one. Written with the usual depth of knowledge about Venice, its allure and atmosphere, the novel is recommended.

Eyes Close Tight
Peter Leonard
The Story Plant
155 Post Rd.East, Ste. 8, Westport CT 06880
9781611881141, $13.95, Paperback, 276 pp.,

O'Clair (he goes by only one name) put in his time as a Detroit detective, bought a motel in Florida and runs it with his beautiful girlfriend, Virginia. But instead of peace and quiet, crime never leaves him. One morning, while straightening up the pool area, he notices a chaise missing. Looking around, he sees it nearby on the beach, and on it lies a strangled woman whose eyes are missing. A while later, another chaise is on the beach, this time with the body of his cleaning woman. Same MO.

Many years before in the Motor City, O'Clair had arrested a man who was convicted of committing two similar murders. Convinced the Florida and Michigan crimes were related, O'Clair goes to Detroit to read the file and interview the convicted man, who is serving two consecutive life sentences. While he's up north, a lot is happening down south, including the abduction of his girlfriend.

Up to this point, the plot and characterizations are just fine. As the plot draws to a conclusion, however, is where the reader bumps into sort of a roadblock and the going just gets a bit less smooth. Instead of a tightly honed finish, the author chose to bring the novel to a jerky ending, jumping back and forth, trying to tie all the loose ends together by telling one incident, and then jumping back a few minutes before to relate another event, consequently jumping to yet another occurrence some minutes ahead. This approach is somewhat disconcerting and detracts from what otherwise would be an excellent thriller. Nevertheless, exceptions can be made for a top-notch author, and the novel is recommended.

The Long Shadow
Liza Marklund
Emily Bestler Books/Atria
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451607031, $15.00, Paperback, 544 pp,

The author picks up from previous novels in the series with Annika Bengtzon plying her trade doggedly as a reporter for Sweden's Evening Post. The plot takes her to the Costa del Sol and Morocco following the robbery and murder of a well-known retired hockey star and his family, except for a 16-year-old daughter by a former marriage who miraculously escaped the slaughter but goes missing. Annika follows the story, despite being assigned several silly assignments by her news editor, in an effort to not only find the girl but also to discover why the family was gassed to death.

Meanwhile Annika's personal and professional lives continue in turmoil, as she is divorced, and now suspected of burning down her house (so the insurance money is frozen), and her attitude is less than appreciated at the newspaper where her superiors wrestle with a decision on what to do with her despite her superior production. Notwithstanding it all, she plods on to fulfill her mission.

The cast of characters remains constant throughout the series, reappearing in this entry and providing continuity. At times, the 544-page book is difficult to read. Whether it is the author's constant repetition of thoughts and phrases or a reflection of the translation is difficult to determine, but the novel is well worth the effort to read. Obviously, the seeds of the next installment have been sown so we have something to look forward to.

Highly recommended.

Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do
Michael Brandman
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399159503, $25.95, Hardcover, 271 pp,

This is the third Jesse Stone novel since Robert B. Parker's death, and it follows the customary formula: two subplots and the police chief's sense of "justice" and his fast retorts. To begin with, Jesse observes mistreatment in an assisted living facility when visiting his former accountant, and takes steps to rectify the situation in his own indomitable fashion.

But more to the point of police work, he is summoned to a local motel to find a young woman dead with a knife wound through her heart. This brings Jesse smack in the middle of a festering war between two pimps fighting for control of prostitution not only in Paradise, Jesse's jurisdiction, but Boston as well. How he goes about solving the dilemma is pure Jesse.

The author recreates the fast-paced dialogue, characteristic of Parker's novels, using the same approach to moving the stories ahead, including short paragraphs and chapters alternating between the subplots. Once again, it is a happy thought that the franchise still lives, even as we mourn the loss of the originator.


A Blind Goddess
James R. Benn
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616951924, $26.95, Hardcover, 320 pp,

Just prior to the Normandy invasion in 1944, Billy Boyle, just promoted to the rank of Captain, is handed an assignment by Britain's MI5: work with the local police to find the murderer of a supposed civilian, without any background, but the admonition to "stay away" from a couple running a rooming house. At the same time, a boyhood friend, a Negro sergeant in a tank destroyer platoon, beseeches him to look into the arrest of his gunner after the murder of a local policeman, stressing the man is innocent.

As in the previous novels in the series, the book traces various aspects of World War II in which Billy, who serves on Dwight Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters staff, acts as a detective, solving crimes and other mysteries. Only this time, the author also portrays the injustice of race relations, since the army continued to be segregated until after the war. And the indignities suffered by Black servicemen.

The plot proceeds smoothly with unexpected turns, but with familiar faces from previous novels, including Kaz and Big Mike, as well as Major Cosgrove and Billy's girlfriend, Diana. Once again, Mr. Benn has done a superlative job of creating a first-class mystery while authentically describing the period and circumstances.

Highly recommended.

Theodore Feit

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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