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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 8 August 2005 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Arlene's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Betsy's Bookshelf Betty's Bookshelf Bob's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carolyn's Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Cheri's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf
Christy's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Gypsi's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Hunter's Bookshelf Judine's Bookshelf
Julian's Bookshelf Lowe's Bookshelf Magdalena's Bookshelf
Makasha's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Robyn's Bookshelf Roger's Bookshelf
Sharon's Bookshelf Sullivan's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Catch and Release
Karla Huston
Marsh River Editions
ISBN 0971890986, $10.00, 31 pages

Andrea Potos

In Karla Huston's latest chapbook Catch and Release, the reader is seamlessly transported all the way from a fourth-grade infatuation to a middle-aged mother dirty-dancing in the kitchen in the hilarious poem "How I Went from Cooler than Ratshit to Lame and Really Annoying." These poems posess a remarkable immediacy, as if the narrative of each poem were indeed happening as we read them, from the shores of a Midwestern lake to deserts filled saguaros--their ancient arms raised/ in praised of great and dangerous things.

Huston is repeatedly fearless in her poems, veering the reader into bold and unexpected places, as in the poem "Eighth Hour," a wry musing on the significance of the number 8. Aren't odd numbers more satisfying? The Sacred One, the Three Graces, the 5 W's of reporting. . . . she asks. After encountering the Beatles and the Beatitudes, we arrive at the eight ladybugs stuck tight to my windshielf and the glorious surprise of maples trees swallowed by sun.

Several poems explore the absurdities of our daily lives, as in her delightfully fresh prose poem Run Amok, where the speaker takes to reading the tabloid headlines while waiting in the supermarket checkout line. She gets carried away--as the reader the does with her--in the frenzy of Lizard Man clubbing a woman to death in the South, the Abominable Snowman forming an army in Tibet, and finally, the dire possibility of any minute New York City's gators will mutate into Republicans.

None of these poems shy away from sorrow, as the Niagara Falls jumper who does it for the cold cocoon of it/tumbling/throwing me/against every thing/that had ever gone wrong, a pristine and compassionate revelation of how people might respond to the pain of this life. In her stunning title poem "Catch and Release," Huston wonders about the two boys discovered under frozen ice, the grief that will abide and yet inevitably change form in the families left behind: a different ache will lure them/and they will know/there is no getting beyond the pull of the shore. The dead have their own living presence here--the second rising that always comes in spring--and, thus, a kind of aching consolation for the living.

Often feisty, funny and always steeped in emotional truth, this chapbook is to be savored and returned to again and again. With an almost joyful sense of agony, it makes us remember all the selves we were and might yet be.

Beyond the Beginnings: Literacy Interventions for Upper Elementary English Language Learners
Angela Carasquillo, Stephen B. Kucer and Ruth Abrams.
Multilingual Matters: Clevedon, England.
ISBN: 185359749X, $24.95 (Paperback)
ISBN: 1853597503, $74.95 (Hardback) 159 pp.

Anne C. Ihata

The teaching and learning of English as a native language and as a second or foreign language take place in so many different contexts in the present world that the reader may interpret upper elementary English language learners' in a variety of ways. Certainly, it could be taken to refer to the level of achievement of a learner population, or learners in general. It is very appropriate, therefore, that the authors begin with a chapter clearly delineating the group they are concerned with; English as a second language learners in the upper grades of the elementary school system in the US.

Communicative approaches to ESL and other foreign language teaching have dominated education policy, teacher training and curriculum design to such an extent since the emergence of Krashen and Terrell's Natural Approach and Larry Selinker's Interlanguage theories in the 1970s and early 1980s that the teaching of second language literacy has received relatively little attention. The significance of reading, in particular, is increasingly acknowledged and emphasized even by proponents of methods that support natural-like acquisition rather than more artificial taught' modes of language instruction.

Although literacy has always been an important issue in society and educational policy, its significance has increased greatly in the US and the UK over the past twenty-five years1, for native speakers of the English language, as well as for immigrant children, or children of non-English-speaking parents. (No Child Left Behind legislation (2001) in the US, and the Right Start initiative in the UK, for example). The authors refer to the relevant legislation at various points, but they are at pains to draw attention to the fact that it may often result in a disservice to English language learners ( struggling ELLs') who are having difficulty simultaneously coping with the demands of both reading and writing in English and the content curriculum in the upper grades of elementary school. This is because, in grades four through six which the authors mainly focus on, there is a lot of pressure on class teachers to achieve results in terms of percentages of students succeeding in state and national standardized tests, and there may be little or no language assistance for some ELLs who still need it. This frequently occurs because these learners have been mainstreamed', or placed in regular or mainstream' English-only programs through scoring at particular cut-off scores in a standardized English proficiency test, or because their parents have chosen to enroll them in monolingual English-speaking schools, in the belief that this will encourage them to master English more quickly and naturally. The result is often that they are no longer identified as ELLs and receive instruction designed for their English-speaking peers, with no allowance for the fact that they may not have the literacy skills to meet the different literacy demands of the curriculum. They are taught by regular classroom teachers, many of whom have had no specialized training in this area (p.7).

Carrasquillo, Kucer and Abrams begin from this vantage point and set out to provide concrete practical solutions to a very pressing concrete problem; the fact that there are these children out there in regular classrooms, struggling to cope with reading and writing in English as a second language, and trying to learn the content in other subject areas through English, now. Suggestions for helping to identify and assist ELLs from kindergarten up are not going to help them right now, when they need it. So, their subtitle is very appropriately Literacy Interventions' for the upper grades; ways that teachers can intervene almost at once to give these older children the additional support they need, which may also be very useful to some of their low-literacy-level monolingual peers. With all the current debate concerning literacy, it could hardly be more timely.

Most of the book is a reflection of the authors' concern with the practical, in terms of student needs, teachers' limitations of time and resources, the classroom situation, budget restrictions, and, in the final chapter, parents' or family circumstances. Carrasquillo et al have obviously given a good deal of consideration to the planning and design and writing of their text, so that it is accessible to the people for whom it is written, who are the most able to make a difference: busy classroom teachers. This begins with the very clear and concise statement of findings and purposes in the Introduction, which is re-enforced on page ? with Organization of the Book'; a brief summary of the contents of the eight chapters it contains, and continues through the layout of the chapters, each with its own title/contents page.

Chapter 1: English Language Learners in United States Schools, deals with the issue of defining a typical' ELL student, because of the diversity in the population of school learners, the challenges that face the challenges that face them, and the language assistance currently available within the school system; and introduces the problem of those for whom it is inadequate, the struggling' English language learners. Chapter 2: English Literacy Development and English Language Learners looks at the theoretical background to the book's discussion of literacy, examining the nature of both First Language literacy and its development and Second Language acquisition. It also includes a discussion of issues involved in planning instruction for ELLs. Chapter 3: Moving Beyond the Transition: Struggling English Literacy Learners in the Regular/Mainstream Classroom sets out the problems facing struggling English Language Learners in the upper grades of elementary education in the United States, with their varied abilities, backgrounds and needs, as they try to come to grips with the increasing literacy demands at that stage. Chapter 4: Instructional Writing Strategies for Struggling English Language Learners introduces instructional methods and strategies, such as scaffolding, to help students progress towards independence in writing academic English. Chapter 5: Instructional Practices to Promote Reading Development in English Language Learners outlines strategies for instruction and for the learner to promote their ability to construct meaning from text when reading in English, and eventually their fluency in reading in that language. Chapter 6: English Literacy Across the Curriculum basically expands the ideas suggested in Chapter 5 to other content areas of the curriculum; Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics, with specific instructional modifications proposed in each area. Chapter 7: A Framework for Assessing English Literacy Among Struggling English Language Learners provides a theoretical framework to answer the questions of how to assess ELLs and what type of assessment should be used for instructional and assessment purposes, with particular emphasis on the assessment of literacy. And Chapter 8: Developing collaborative Literacy Relationships with Parents, focuses on the important role that parents whose native language is not English can play, and the writers believe should play, in their children's English literacy development. The parents' own standards of literacy are among the issues raised.

The frequent use of diagrammatic or tabular presentation of key information or examples also contributes significantly to the text's overall user friendliness, encapsulating the details in a form that is readily memorized or visualized by the reader who will need to call upon them later either at the lesson planning stage, or during actual classroom teaching.

Chapter 1 not only identifies the group of learners involved, but also the challenges they face as double learners' of English and the content curriculum, and how the latter may be particularly challenging because it requires them to be familiar with and employ distinctive cognitive language and literacy functions for the different subject areas as they progress through the grades. The diversity among the population of struggling ELLs in the upper grades is given some emphasis here, in terms of their first language background and literacy and extent of formal schooling, as well as the amount of English language assistance they may have received. The authors are critical of educational policy in the US that emphasizes learning/academic standards, especially English language arts curriculum standards, which means that there is an emphasis on teaching English and through English to English language learners as fast as possible, with the result that many of these learners receive most or all of their instruction from teachers who have no specialized training in dealing with such students or their special needs. Carrasquillo et al do acknowledge the contribution other researchers have made to raising educators' awareness of the challenges ELLs face in meeting the academic standards of the school curriculum, but fail to indicate whether this has had any practical effect at classroom level so far.

An important factor they do draw attention to here is the oral fluency of some of the learners, especially those who were born in the US, or who have already spent quite a long time there. The significance of this lies in its impact on teachers' (and often parents') perception of the child's English ability, especially as it is often not matched by their academic language proficiency which will determine their success in the content areas in the upper grades, where reading and writing become increasingly the tools of learning, not its goals.

In Chapter 2, the writers provide a theoretical overview of ESL literacy development, through a consideration of accepted thinking on the nature of first language literacy and second language acquisition. While no one would argue with the soundness of presenting the relevant research background to their recommendations, and there is certainly a need to condense what is actually currently a very wide-ranging discussion in the area of ESL literacy development, their case here might be strengthened by including some reference to relevant studies in L2 reading. Schema theory, for example, surely needs to take into account the diverse cultural backgrounds of the learners involved, and Carrell's work in this area deserves to be brought to the attention of classroom teachers who may not be familiar with it. The discussion concerning the notion of a linguistic threshold' that is necessary before transfer of skills or strategies from first language to second language use can take place (p.25) is another opportunity to relate to ESL reading researchers, such as Alderson (1984, 2000), Devine (1987, 1988), Urquhart (1998), etc. Cummins (1979) BICS/CALP distinction is very pertinently introduced, for its theoretical support of the authors' own observations of the gap that often exists between their struggling ELLs'' oral proficiency and the academic language they need to successfully complete courses in the content areas, such as math or science.

One is, however, left at the end of the chapter with a sense of having seen several of the theoretical threads involved in the background to the learners' current situation, but of not having really seen them successfully woven together into a coherent tapestry. This is perhaps inevitable to some extent, given the size of the two main research fields referred to (literacy development and second language acquisition), but nonetheless, linear organization of the material could probably be improved here. This is rare in a work that is, for the most part, well organized and accessible.

In Chapter 3, the focus is on how the changes in instructional style and mode of transmitting information that occur as students enter the upper grades of elementary education impact on ELLs in mainstream classrooms, frequently compounding already existing difficulties resulting from their lack of literacy skills in English. It is at this level that learning to read is increasingly replaced by reading to learn and students become more and more responsible for their own learning. One result of this is that ELLs with poor English reading skills at this stage receive less support from the teacher at a time when they probably need more as they face the demands of more complex matters in the subject areas, especially mathematics, social science, and science subjects. 3

Carrasquillo et al are critical of the emphasis on what the learners lack, rather than on their capabilities, which will appeal instinctively to many experienced classroom teachers, familiar with the generally more positive results achieved by building on whatever strengths a learner may have. They may, however, be accused of being over optimistic in stating that Children do not enter the instructional context without knowing how to talk' (p.34). This is, unfortunately, precisely a growing source of concern for educators in the US, the increasing number of children (many of them US-born) from immigrant families who arrive at school with very little command of any language, largely due to their families' economic circumstances. Such children may have a superficial fluency in English, acquired from long hours spent in front of a TV while their parents are working, but frequently not enough to carry on a conversation at an age appropriate level. These children suffer from the double disadvantage of not having learned English or their first language very well because of insufficient contact time with mature speakers of either language prior to starting school. Rather than being bilingual, they have been described as alingual'. 2

This news really serves to reinforce the urgency the writers' are trying to impart and would be a valuable addition to their argument that intervention to improve ELLs' literacy skills in English is necessary immediately, and that early emphasis on decoding needs to be replaced by more attention to teaching important strategies, such as the use of context.

The specific instructional practices for promoting reading and writing development in English language learners outlined in Chapters 4 and 5, and the examples of their application to different content areas in school found in Chapter 6, will be of practical use to many teachers of English in a variety of ESL/EFL contexts. The tables on pages 52 and 54, for example, designed to present text structures, signals and the writing process, could usefully be employed in reading or writing classes in secondary school or college level EFL classes where the students' native language may be organized very differently from English. Statements such as [Many upper elementary ELLs students] are so concerned with the surface structure of the text that they ignore the meaning.' (p. 56), or Many students experience difficulty integrating and synthesizing information.' (p. 58) will certainly sound a familiar note to many ESOL teachers abroad as well as in the US.

There is a growing body of classroom research evidence to support the authors' contention that it is possible to teach struggling readers to use strategies more efficiently, and thereby improve their comprehension skills (p. 67), and these chapters in particular will repay any ESOL teacher's careful reading and re-reading, providing a wealth of detailed instructional strategies adaptable to individual circumstances. The only thing absent here, although there are several references to using real objects, pictures, films and other visual or physical clues to clarify meaning' (p. 89, for example), is a discussion of how to encourage learners to make more effective use of the variety of illustrations they will encounter in their various textbooks. The learner's cultural background may influence their ability to integrate and synthesize information from the text and from accompanying illustrations, and this is likely to be particularly significant in the teaching/learning of the sciences, where formal diagrams abound.

The difficulties involved in assessing the English literacy skills of struggling English language learners are addressed in depth in Chapter 7, with the strong recommendation that schools develop their own batteries of authentic' assessment (teacher observations, checklists, etc) to supplement the standardized state and national tests and provide a more complete picture of the strengths and needs of ELLs. After initial discussion of this, and how necessary it is to acquire good all round information on students' abilities, so that appropriate instructional decisions can be made, there are, again, concrete suggestions as to how teachers can set about authentically assessing reading and writing skills. Attention is rightly drawn to the need to identify whether a struggling reader's problems are simply due to a lack of English proficiency or to a variety of other factors. (See, for example, Alderson, 1984, 2000; Devine, 1987, 1988.)

The rationale behind state level standardized testing and its potential usefulness for assessing ELLs abilities, and the aims and shortcomings of the No Child Left Behind' legislation (2001) are clearly presented, with recommendations for improving matters for struggling English learners. The insistence that assessment should inform individual instruction is to be seen in this context, where the measures actually being used in many cases are not capable of providing teachers with adequate data on individual students on which to base such instruction.

The final chapter of the book very sensibly, and quite courageously, given the nature and size of some of the difficulties involved, tackles the issue of involving the parents of struggling English language learners more with their children's ongoing literacy development. The very real barriers to such parental involvement that may exist are acknowledged, but the writers refer to the body of research evidence showing beneficial effects for parental involvement, and place the burden of responsibility for organizing this squarely on the shoulders of the individual schools. Parents' participation is important for a variety of reasons detailed here, but one of the more interesting to note is that the authors recommend it as a means of ensuring that the children develop literacy in whichever is their stronger language, in the firm belief that they can transfer skills later (p. 135).

Clear, supported suggestions are given concerning how schools might go about setting up a program of collaboration with students' parents, which would benefit everyone concerned.

The book concludes with a good starter list of resources for teachers of ELLs, particularly the list of websites, and it is good to see the extensive work of Rebecca Oxford on learning strategies at least receiving mention here. As mentioned above, the list could be expanded to include some of the background research by more established researchers in the field of ESL reading. The following two works, for example, both provide a good representative sample of papers and are both widely available through libraries; Joanne Devine, Patricia L. Carrell and David E. Eskey (Eds.), Research in Reading in English as a Second Language, (1987), TESOL: Washington, DC; or P. Carrell, J. Devine and D. Eskey (Eds.), Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading, (1988), Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series, Cambridge University Press.

The book needs little improvement as a whole, however. It would certainly be a very worthwhile investment for anyone engaged in the field of teaching English as a second or foreign language, wherever they might be working.


1 The Schools Council Project on Reading for Learning in the Secondary School, 1980, for example.

2 Trapped Between 2 Languages: Poor and Isolated, Many Immigrants' Children Lack English'. Brigid Schulte. The Washington Post. Washington, D. C. June 9, 2002.

3 Teachers working in an EFL situation in Japan, like myself, might draw parallels here with the Japanese education system's introduction of English language learning in the first grade of junior high school, just as learning/teaching modes become more presentational and formal (as in the US upper elementary grades).

The Cross of St. Maro
E. Kelly Keady
Magdalene Books, LLC
Suite 4100, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapols MN 55402
ISBN: 0974973807, $24.95 398 pp.

Barbara Rhoades

What a great first novel! Mr. Keady writes of places he has lived which provides a first-hand and accurate knowledge of the area of the country he writes about. What was even better is that I live in the St. Louis area and have lived in the Keokuk Iowa area as well so I know the descriptions of these places are accurate.

The story is structured around lawyers, politics, terrorism and government secrecy. The main character, Peter Farrell, is an attorney living in St. Louis. He meets with a client and finds himself deep into a government conspiracy, complete with bribes and blackmail. His brother is murdered and the frame-up makes it look like Peter is to blame. Not knowing who to trust, Peter runs for refuge and help in the only girl he has ever loved, Sara Ahrens. Sara believes she can help him provide the truth to the police through her father. Belatedly, she finds out her father is a part of the conspiracy.

The two run to a family friend of Sara's, Redwood, who has been in the political/security scene many years ago. While the life he lives shows to the world a backwoods man, he has kept up on the technology and abilities of his past life. This saves Peter and Sara from sure death. Once again on the run, they end up with the President of the United States and his right-hand man. This time, the President is killed and yet another murder is added to Peter's supposed killing spree. Who is behind all of this? What is the agenda of that person? The finger points to Elias St. Armand, son of Lebanese parents, who believe his way is the only way to save the world.

Between the political intrigue, the up-to-date scenarios of world problems and various people trying to accomplish their own agendas, Mr. Keady writes a powerful story. It was one I didn't want to put down. There were sections that were a bit hard for me to keep straight as I am not fully versed in today's politics and who is terrorizing who but even with that, I was able to follow the main thread of the story with no difficulty. For anyone who knows the past history of other countries and keeps up with today's headlines, the story would be a breeze to read and understand the deeper intrigue and meaning of this first novel. I hope Mr. Keady intends to write a second novel because he writes in a clear and easy to understand language on today's topics.

Aspects of Love: Friends, Lovers & Soul Mates
Cozean L. Hedrick
Authorhouse Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1418446750, $9.95, 65 pp.

Carey Yazeed, Reviewer

A journey of self-exploration soon turned into an emotional collection of poetry. A project manager by day and a spoken word artist by night, Cozean Hedrick's journey is simple, all of us have been at these same low and high points in our lives, but his message is profound, leaving a significant impact upon anyone who stops for just one second and reads some of his work. From Anticipation to Revelation at Dawn and from loving yourself to respecting the one you are with, the reader can't help but to enjoy this poetic journey of love as Hedrick's "takes this chance by unlocking his heart to the world."

Cozean Hedrick is a graduate of Indiana University where he was first introduced to poetry by a friend. His first published poem, "My Lord, My Confidence," can be found in another collection of poetry entitled V103's Poetic Moments, by Joyce Little. Hedrick's currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he works as a program manager. For more information on the poet please visit his web site at

Leeway Cottage
Beth Gutcheon
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc
10 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0060795018, $24.95, 432 pp.

Coletta Ollerer

Leeway Cottage is a summer place on the Maine coast at Dundee, from which most of the action of the story takes place. Sydney Brant is a lonely young child, surrounded by wealth. Her mother has fondness for things and position rather than her child. Her father's affection is precious to Sydney but his alcoholism ultimately distances him from her. She finds comfort with her contemporaries who inhabit this vacation community and that group is her stronghold all of her life.

This is the story of her marriage to Laurus Moss, a famed Danish musician. While she is pregnant with her first child in the early part of WWII, Laurus decides he must join the war effort and he goes to England. The Nazis step up the persecution of Danish Jews and while he works for Danish resistance in London his brother Kaj and sister Nina join the struggle against the Nazi occupation at home. These last know they must get their parents, their mother being a Jew, out of Denmark to Sweden. Creatures of habit, the parents are unwilling to leave home, scoffing at the Nazi threat. Finally they agree to go. "They wished they had listened to the children the night before. Frightened and chastened, they are listening now." (p182)

Back in the States, Sydney's life is far removed from stressful Denmark. She and Eleanor, her first born, enjoy each other's company as she deals with food ration stamps and other inconveniences of war experienced by the privileged American classes. Laurus' parents arrive safely in Sweden. Nina is captured by the Nazis and sent to a camp in Denmark at first, later she is transported to Ravensbruck in Germany. Her life there is a tableau of horror from which she never really recovers.

At war's end, Laurus returns, Sydney is ecstatic. They resume their marriage and have two more children. "somewhere during the war years, when his attention was elsewhere, her dish of weights had gotten so full of must and should and want to and can't and won't, that it has plunged toward the ground, leaving Laurus' light and amiable dish of can, and have, and why not, swinging in the breeze." (p263) Their different temperaments become apparent. Friends wonder why Laurus stays with Sydney. His explanation of the Danish character seems to give the answer. "Danes love peace. And they love comfort, and they'll sacrifice a lot for them. But they cannot enjoy peace and comfort while behaving badly. . . . They trust each other to behave. . . .They act (respectfully) out of simple pride." (276)

Laurus' family of origin, now reunited, visit at Leeway Cottage. Aunt Nina accompanies them but the children are uncomfortable around her, "she was so touchy and reserved and they knew their mother thought she was basically a pain in the ass." (p233) Nina's and Sydney's lives are too disparate to allow for any empathy.

The author implies throughout that Sydney is a very spoiled, self-indulgent person but perhaps she was just a person frantically searching for someone to love her while being incapable of loving her own self due to an affection deprived childhood. Either way this study of a mid twentieth century marriage is worth the read. Beth Gutcheon's research regarding the Nazi invasion of Denmark is an added bonus to a remarkable saga of life on both sides of the Atlantic during and after WWII.

Horse of Seven Moons
Karen Taschek
University of New Mexico Press
1 UNM Albuquerque, NM
ISBN: 0826332153, $19.95, 184 pages

Connie Gotsch

Two on a Horse: an Interesting Game

Bin-daa-dee-nin and You-his-kishn carry their badly wounded brother, Nzhu-'a'c-siin, into a cave. For the moment, they can breathe. But tomorrow, what can they do? Return to the Mescalero Apache reservation from which they've run to escape the filth, disease, and starvation that killed their father and mother? No! They'll remain in the mountains, raiding ranches, until they escape to Mexico, or die at the hands of the white soldiers.

Bin-daa-dee-nin prays to the Mountain Gods for help. A beautiful--and completely tame--pinto horse appears. The boy can ride it instantly. Surely this is the answer to his prayer. Now he can hunt. He and his brothers might just survive.

But, the army comes. The Apaches flee one way, and the horse runs another. Rancher's daughter, Sarah Chilton, finds it. It becomes hers, until the terrifying night the Apaches come raiding. A boy about her age snatches the horse out of her father's corral.

From this beginning, Albuquerque author Karen Taschek's youth novel, HORSE OF SEVEN MOONS, turns into a frightening turn-of-the 20th Century cat-and-mouse game between two cultures trying to survive in southern New Mexico.

Bringing their opposing lives and values together through the horse--Moon Dancer to Sarah, and Moon that Flies to Bin-daa-dee-nin--Taschek presents the plight of the Apaches fighting to stay free in their home lands, and the anguish of the settlers struggling to protect ranches they have built.

She shows the conflict in realistic fashion, using language that is simple and direct, but never simplistic. Neither settlers nor Apaches like each other, and neither considers how the other might feel. Yet, the reader sympathizes with both by the end of HORSE OF SEVEN MOONS. The fate of Bin-daa-dee-nin, Sarah, and Moon-that-Flies/Moon Dancer leaves happiness, pain, and a touch of sadness--as life can do.

Both adults and young people will enjoy HORSE OF SEVEN MOONS.

Selling is Dead
Marc Miller & Jason Sinkovitz
John Wiley & Sons Inc.
111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030
ISBN: 0471721115, $27.95, 320 pp.

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

In today's corporate world, the performance of a company's sales team can determine if they will sink or swim. The sales team is responsible for seeking out opportunities from current customers and creating opportunities from potential customers. In the new book "Selling is Dead" by Marc Miller and Jason Sinkovitz, the Ohio-based authors explain the importance of hiring the right salesperson, recognizing the type of demand that is needed, and monitoring the progression of each sales stage.

"Selling is Dead" introduces a new way of approaching potential customers based on four types of demand: new application demand, aggregate demand, continuous improvement demand, and economy demand because the authors believe that customer decision-making changes from one demand to another. According to this book, an informed salesperson should be able to recognize the demand type and respond accordingly.

This book is at its brilliant best when it explains the Buyer Psychological Model, the importance of creating demand, and how to overcome traditional objections such as a potential client's budget constraints. It also serves as a wake-up call for sales managers who employ mediocre salespeople who are ineffective at creating demand or selling to prospects who are satisfied with existing products or services.

However, there are a few problems with this book that may cause its words to fall on deaf ears. The first is that it reads like a dissertation and contains complicated language (i.e. the cadence of commoditization) that may cause the average salesperson without a college degree to run for cover. Next, the book is written from a very strategic point of view and lacks more needed tactical instructions. Finally, the book is written with a slant towards IT firms and may turn off those who are not in technology fields. In other words, it's great for IT sales managers but maybe not for other sales professionals.

"Selling is Dead" has the potential to be a groundbreaking book. The authors understand the psychology of supply and demand, the pressures of a sales manager, and the need to move salespeople from inertia. But the success of this book will be determined by the buying public's willingness to make a major paradigm shift in the sales process and the hiring process and a clear understanding in the psychology of how purchasing decisions are made. This book makes an interesting and informative read but it will be even more interesting to see if salespeople worldwide accept or reject it. Recommended.

Firecracker Jones Is On The Case
Christopher Klim
Hopewell Publications
PO Box 11, Titusville, NJ 08560-0011
ISBN: 0972690670, $9.95, 111 pp., Ages 8-12

Jamie Engle

Just as he's about to set a school football record, Ted Packard disappears: packs up, moves out, up and leaves. His best friend, Firecracker Jones, knows something is very wrong: Ted wouldn't leave without saying good-bye. Classmates keep asking Firecracker what happened to Ted. Determined to find out what happened, Firecracker Jones is on the case.

Firecracker can't get a straight answer from his Mom, teachers or coaches. He can tell they're hiding something, but what? A search of Ted's old house and yard turn up nothing but suspicions about the guy who moved in after Ted left. Finally, by chance, Firecracker finds a lead to follow: at night, across town by bus, through the woods and over the muddy lake. What he discovers is totally unexpected - and so is what Firecracker decides to do about it.

Kids age 8-12 are at a vulnerable spot with reading; it's often when they decide if they like reading or not. They need well-written, high interest books to convince them to be readers for life. Firecracker Jones Is On the Case ably fills that need. With just the right blend of humor, logic and message, Klim draws readers into the mystery with appealing, dimensional characters while subtly teaching about confronting fears, change, and loyalty. Kids can relate to the sometimes-clumsy Firecracker and his health-conscious mom. They will laugh out loud at the antics of Firecracker and his friends.

Firecracker Jones Is On The Case is at once funny, serious, and wholesome. The first book of a series, I can easily see this as a Disney Channel movie. Highly recommended for boys and girls age 8-12.

Unholy Alliance
Dana Reed
ArcheBooks Publishing
4305 State Bridge Rd., Ste 103-121, Alpharetta, GA 30022
ISBN: 1595070265, $28.99, 304 pages

Joyce P. Hale

One of the most gripping books I've read, Unholy Alliance is a book that can't be put down. If
you enjoy reading murder mysteries, detective tales, psychological thrillers.... Unholy Alliance
will grab you and hold you 'til the last page. Two of the main good characters are two women,
both strong in their own ways, both with pasts filled with violence and abuse; both with a will to
survive. One is a homicide detective trying to prove herself and put her past behind, and the
other is a would-be journalist trying to overcome an abusive past and a physical disability - the
loss of one leg because of the past abuse. They are thrown together by circumstances and are
bound together as they seek the answers to brutal slayings, and the perpetrator., who has
targeted one of them for himself.

The villain is a brutal, insane serial killer who collects body parts and leaves a signature:
a glass rose. Any mystery lover must read it from beginning to end in one sitting.

"And that's when he saw it, felt it. First came the hand holding the hunting knife with the
enormous blade. Sharp looking. So sharp that when it crossed his throat he didn't feel a
thing." I highly recommend this to mystery readers.

The Spear of Lepanto
Leon J. Radomile
Vincero Enterprises
490 Marin Oaks Dr. Novato, CA 94949
ISBN: 0967532930, $19.95, 335 pp.

Shirley Roe, Reviewer

Papal emissary, Leonardo Radolowick is called to the Vatican to meet with Pope Pius V, General Colonna, Capt. Gavino Poliziani, and Guiseppe Martino. Accompanying him is his new friend and protege, Miguel de Cervantes. It is not long before Radalowick is asked to choose two companions to accompany him on the search for the Spear of Longinus. It is believed that those in possession of the spear will conquer all enemies, rising victorious in the name of God. The Pope declares that the Turks must be stopped and only the spear will ensure their victory. However, first Leonardo must travel to the Apulian coast of Italy where he will oversee the completion of a huge ship, equipped with a recently discovered invention of Leonardo di Vinci-a propellor. Cervantes and Radalowick's other companion, Michele Geraldi accept their papal quest without reservation. Meanwhile, Spanish Ambassador Alzamora, his wife Lanette Louise and his daughter, Lea Linda board a ship for Spain. An unexpected storm finds them separated from their convoy and soon the captives of the dreaded Turks.

Religious turmoil, savagery, violence and deceit, all contribute to an exciting and fast paced tale. The Spear of Lepanto begins with a rather intimidating and lengthy ten page list of characters. This reviewer found the first few pages read like an exhaustive "who's who" of the rich and famous of the sixteenth century. It was difficult to keep the characters straight and their importance to the story was vague at first. That said, once the author begins the tale it is most enjoyable. We recommend that readers be persistent in continuing past the first few chapters, it really will be worthwhile.

Author, Leon Radomile has researched his subject thoroughly and intently providing readers with an excellent history lesson mixed with an exciting story. He began researching his own Italian ancestors and eventually produced this fictional Renaissance adventure. The surname Radomile is a transformation of the noble name of Radalowick.

A great book for history buffs and fans of historical fiction.

72 Hour Hold
Bebe Moore Campbell
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
1400040744, $16.47, 336 pp.

Tamika Johnson, Reviewer

Bebe Moore Campbell weaves a tale of unrelenting love and pain in her latest novel 72 Hour Hold. 72 Hour Hold tells the story of Keri, a successful owner of an upscale Los Angeles Boutique whose beautiful, intelligent 18 year old daughter has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Quite gifted and on her way to Brown University, Trina's life has come to an abrupt halt as her disorder overtakes her and Keri tries everything, legal and illegal, to try to save her daughter from this debilitating disorder.

Moore Campbell does an excellent job of portraying the hell a family has to go through when a loved one has been diagnosed with a mental illness. The struggles with the health care system, the erratic behavior, the toll it takes on the healthy family members, are all told in breathtaking detail and roll off the pages in a fast paced, rollercoaster ride that keeps you guessing from beginning to end.

The best part about 72 Hour Hold is that it manages to never come off as preachy or judgmental. There's some scathing commentary on the problems with the mental health industry in this country and the novel handles that discourse in a way that allows you to understand all sides of the issue from patients rights, to the needs of the families trying to save their relatives and the overworked and under-funded system we have in place to deal with some of our most troubled citizens. Moore Campbell offers insight into a world that few are privy to or want to admit they are a part of and in so doing challenges all of us to do something to better the treatment and understanding of those who suffer from a mental disorder, whether we are personally affected by it or not.

The one criticism I have of the novel is how the main character, Keri is very difficult to sympathize with. She is judgmental, unforgiving, arrogant, short-sighted and all around a person that is very hard to like. She is incredibly inconsiderate of those in her life and completely unaware of the needs and desires of others. I spent the whole novel being amazed at her sense of entitlement and superiority. At the same time I found Keri's character trying, I also recognized that making her such an imperfect person, one who expects and has attained success, makes her daughter's illness all the more devastating and ultimately makes the novel much more dynamic and interesting.

Bebe Moore Campbell has always been good at creating characters and stories that are compelling and believable. Her characters jump off the page and feel like they could be people you know in your own life. 72 Hour Hold is no exception. It's a great read and excellent social commentary on an issue that doesn't receive nearly as much attention as it deserves.

Arlene's Bookshelf

Love on the Line
Laura Dehart Young
Bella Books
PO Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 1594930082, $12.95, 167 pages

Love on the Line

This novel is a classic reprint of the first book in Laura DeHart Young's Alaska series. Kay Westmore is a thirty-eight year-old National Park Service ranger stationed in Fairbanks. She and her colleague Russell Bend have been given the assignment to inspect the Alaska pipeline for possible structural defects. Along for the trip is a Washington bureaucrat named Grace Perry. It is obvious to Kay that Grace has her own agenda; she has her eye on becoming the next Secretary of the Interior, and this will probably occur if Grace is able to discredit the frontrunner for the position. From the start there is an adversarial relationship between these two women and many disagreements develop. However, Kay must perform her job. Embarking upon this assignment at one of the worst possible times of the year, November, when the physical conditions are virtually impossible to combat, the group heads north to complete its inspection task. Compounding Kay's frustrating professional problems are two women: Barb, a psycho ex-lover, and Stef Kramer, an enamored twenty-two year-old, to whom Kay is inexplicably drawn. As Kay's life becomes increasingly more complicated, it also becomes more apparent to Kay that her very life may well rest upon the completion of her dubious assignment.

Young writes in very succinct unencumbered prose. The sentence structure is not very demanding which moves along the action in the plot, but at the same time, it becomes a bit repetitive and predictable. This reader's interest sometimes wandered. However, when Young is recounting events using the flashback device, the pace quickens, the diction becomes more complex, and these scenes completely captivate the reader. These brief snapshots of life-altering moments in Kay's life expand the story's characterization. The reader has a deeper understanding of her family dynamic and dysfunction. Sometimes a less adept writer can abuse the flashback technique, and that only serves to intrude upon, if not interrupt, the flow and pacing. Young prevents this from occurring by seamlessly segueing into each flashback and then effortlessly returning to the present. The reader actually looks forward to there being subsequent flashbacks as these mini-stories help foreshadow the personal dilemmas that Kay must overcome, or at least, try to overcome.

The secondary characters are a diverse group of individuals. Barb sometimes borders on the stereotypical. However, the ex-lover from Hell theme is so stereotypical that this reader can easily overlook the use of that element here. There is also a sad and rather melancholy understanding of a relationship's erosion. Kay attempts to find a reason for her failure with Barb, and it comes down to one statement. "She had somehow come to be lost in an existence of Barb's choosing" (p. 7).

Stef is an energetic and spontaneous young woman who lacks the real life experiences that influence Kay's decisions regarding personal relationships, inconsequential flings, and shutting the door on the past. Young also creates an aura of enigmatic professional and sexual assurance in the character of Grace that keeps the reader wondering if she might indeed be a match for Kay. Russell is Kay's best friend as well as her colleague, and it is striking to see that their relationship of respect and trust is uppermost in Russell's mind. He is such a startling contrast to the male police detective that she encounters as the story unfolds.

Love on the Line is short at one hundred and sixty-seven pages, but it is an entertaining novel which explores the Alaskan wilderness and Kay Westmore's attempts to deal with her past and discover her future. Young's book is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, and it will definitely spark the reader's appetite for the remaining books in the series, Forever and the Night and Love Speaks Her Name.

Down the Rabbit Hole
Lynne Jamneck
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 1594930120, $12.95, 193 pages

Down the Rabbit Hole

Lynne Jamneck's stellar debut novel is the first in a mystery series featuring Samantha Skellar, an FBI agent working in Seattle. She and her partner, Rob Munroe, are investigating a possible serial killer who has been targeting suburban neighborhoods. The crimes appear to be random, but nonetheless violent. The husband is senselessly murdered and the wife is brutally sexually assaulted. The investigators are finding few leads as they attempt to produce a profile of the perpetrator. Further complicating Skellar's investigation is an unsettling personal problem. Someone has been watching her every move. This audacious stalker has managed to hack into her computer and has been sending her threatening emails. Since the threats have taken on a new measure of menace, Sam engages the assistance of one Lucy Jane Spoon, a twenty-seven year-old uninhibited laid-back computer expert with a definite dislike for all things resembling authority and government. Add to this mix Kate, Sam's rock-star sister, and Carol, Sam's ex-lover, and the reader has more than enough primary and secondary plots to maintain her interest.

Jamneck has created a protagonist in Samantha Skellar who is a totally dedicated and professional woman, a woman who has just begun to feel those nagging pressures of her high-powered job. Solving crimes has begun to take its toll, but Sam is intelligent enough to recognize this common pitfall experienced by many law officers. She has also reached that point where a bit of introspection about her past, her family, her love relationships is necessary for her own peace of mind. Sam has flaws, but she has compassion and integrity. Solving the crime is her passion as well as her duty. "Little else encouraged me to professional perfection than the idea of some fucked-up little misogynist criminal, sitting back and laughing at the law, laughing at the FBI. Laughing at me" (p. 50). Her relationship with Munroe is the product of two years of being there for each other, of protecting one another, and of understanding each other's method of criminal investigation.

Lucy Spoon is an engaging and highly satisfying secondary character. She possesses that ability to both rankle and intrigue Sam. An outspoken feminist, Lucy pulls no punches. She states her opinions and beliefs and then leaves it to others to react or ignore. She is neither easily impressed nor intimidated. When Sam first appears asking for computer assistance, she is told that Lucy can't help her that day but can the next day. Sam responds, "This is really quite important" (p. 12). Lucy looks at Sam completely unimpressed with her FBI status. "What I have to do is important too. Tomorrow. Take it or leave it" (p.12). Through the careful use of foreshadowing, the reader is aware that there is a definite connection between these two assertive women. Discovering what that may be, is one of the many enjoyable aspects of this novel.

Down the Rabbit Hole is a well written police procedural with gripping conflicts, realistic conclusions, and surprising twists and turns in both the plotting and the development of characters. Jamneck has created a worthy addition to the mystery genre. The fact that the author chose to have Sam's sexual identity play a secondary role is a refreshing change from other lesbian mystery detectives. In this instance, the emphasis is upon Sam's competent performance of her demanding job. The subplot of her romantic relationships or lack of such serves to heighten the authenticity of the character. Her sexuality is a part of her life, not the focus of her life. This indeed lends more credibility to her character as she is first and foremost an FBI investigator in this mystery series. Also interesting and impressive is Jamneck's clever detailing. Without revealing the conclusion of the book, suffice it to say that Jamneck has incorporated a most original segment of plotting that will indeed segue nicely into the next adventure of Samantha Skellar. Down the Rabbit Hole is a thoroughly riveting and rewarding reading experience - certainly one not to be missed.

For Every Season
Frankie J. Jones
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 1594931014, $12.95, 234 pages

For Every Season

For Every Season by Frankie J. Jones introduces Andrea "Andi" Kane, a thirty-four year-old project manager living in Dallas, Texas. Life certainly is not proceeding as she had planned. Andi is enduring an unsatisfying nine-month relationship with Trish, a control freak extraordinaire and high-powered realtor. Their life together has become nothing more than mind-numbing routine. One morning as Andi hears Trish scrape her chair across the kitchen hardwood floor, Andi knows it must be seven-thirty. "I may not have a lover, but I have the best alarm clock in the city" (p. 4). As her luck would have it, when Andi arrives at work, she is told she has been let go due to budget constraints. Holding only a box containing her possessions, she is unceremoniously escorted by security out of the building. Several minutes later her friend Becka joins her on the sidewalk; she too is holding a box. The two women drive to Becka's home and quickly proceed to drown their troubles in alcohol. When Stacy, Becka's partner, arrives home, she drives Andi back to her house. When Trish realizes Andi is intoxicated, she refuses to hear any kind of explanation and throws her out of the house. Soon after, Andi decides to leave Dallas and go home to San Antonio to re-assess her situation. While staying at her parents' home, her grandmother, Sarah, asks a favor of her - to look into a family tragedy which took place sixty-five years earlier. Having nothing better to do and not wanting to disappoint her grandmother, Andi heads down to HiHo, a small town south of San Antonio, to investigate this dark period from the very distant past.

Jones has written several good romance novels, Rhythm Tide and Midas Touch to name but two. However, For Every Season surpasses these past efforts in two very important respects. First, the characterization is outstanding in its depiction of both the lead and secondary characters. These characters are rich in detail, depth, and realism. Andi is a woman with whom the reader can readily identify and empathize. Andi is affable, humorous, and deeply rooted in the concept of family. Love, loyalty, and respect for her grandmother compel Andi to undertake a quest for the truth, regardless of where that journey may lead. The reader is provided with generous back-story through the use of flashbacks and expository narrative. Yet, Jones manages to always show, not tell.

The actions in this novel are primarily interpersonal which allow for fuller threads of character development. Leticia, Andi's mother, is a meticulously drawn character whose actions and motivations are explained through a series of genuinely engrossing and sometimes heartbreaking vignettes of her childhood in HiHo.

Jones' second main character is Janice Reed, the District Attorney in HiHo. Here the reader meets a refreshingly intriguing and fascinating woman. When Andi brings her concerns to Janice, Janice tells her to expect a 99.9% chance of failure, but nonetheless she still offers to help Andi in any way she can. When asked why Janice would still help given those odds, Janice responds, "Because I have a hunch about you and I always play my hunches" (p. 95). This somewhat cryptic response serves not only to embarrass Andi but also to give her an intuitive sense of some kind of possible connection to Janice. As the storyline progresses, Janice is conflicted in a variety of ways. However, the deft writing always maintains her credibility. The reader is able to peel away the layers and, thus, is permitted to see within the core of this hard-working attorney. The mercurial sexual tension is captivating as both Janice and Andi struggle with outside forces which inevitably will affect them and those closest to them.

For Every Season is a skillfully written and highly entertaining look at the past and the present of two very different families. The events of so long ago have indeed cast ripples into the lives of all concerned. From the humorously drawn portrayal of Trish, the Ice Woman, to the painfully stated mother-daughter contentions of three generations, to the surprising revelations of love and misunderstanding, Jones has created a multi-faceted and page-turning story that this reader will long remember. For this reviewer it is always an even more rewarding reading experience to see how an author continues to stretch and to grow. Enhanced writing style, amplified narrative technique, and intensified characterization are expertly evidenced here. For Every Season may very well indicate a new level of writing craft for Frankie J. Jones, and this reviewer eagerly awaits her next novel.

Dawn of Change
Gerri Hill
Bella Books
PO Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 1594930112, $12.95, 236 pages

Dawn of Change

To those around her, Susan Sterling seems to have the perfect life: a successful husband of twenty years, a lovely daughter in college, and the country club society scene. One day she arrives home early to find her husband in their bed with a twenty year-old blonde. Sparing herself the it's not what it seems speech, she bolts to the family's cabin in Kings Canyon National Park. Enjoying the solitude and avoiding the meddling of her mother and overbearing sister Ruth, Susan meets Shawn Weber, a young woman who has been camping nearby. The two women strike up a conversation and Susan invites Shawn to dinner. A friendship begins to develop, secrets are shared, and both Susan's and Shawn's view of life undergoes subtle yet important changes. A daughter who is confused about her own personal life, a husband who refuses to accept the demise of their marriage, and Shawn's seemingly mysterious past all contribute to the inner turmoil and uncertainty Susan Sterling is experiencing while sequestered in the woods.

Gerri Hill is the author of several impressive romance novels, and Dawn of Change further serves to elevate her status as a leading writer in this genre. Characterization is clearly and deftly written, especially for the protagonist, Susan Sterling. The reader can easily identify and empathize with the upheaval she is experiencing. Somewhere along the way, while being a wife and mother, Susan lost herself, her dreams, her hopes, and she is now confronted with several opportunities to find the woman she had once hoped to be. Her actions and reactions ring true. Avoiding the overly sentimental and melodramatic, Hill has created a character that exudes a realistic portrait of the woman scorned. Her dialogue is moving and at times quite wryly humorous. When her sister Ruth pompously states that she and their mother are worried about Susan, Susan recognizes the insincerity dripping from each word. "Bullshit," Susan said quietly. "You're worried what people are thinking and Mother's only concerned about what time she can have her first scotch" (p. 45). The internal dialogues of both Susan and Shawn further show the reader the complicated emotional wiring that these women possess.

Another strong point of this novel is the characterization of Lisa, Susan's daughter. Hill has created an intelligent, witty, attractive young woman who is coming to terms with her own identity. She is a relevant and contemporary character. Her interactions are multi-faceted. Reading the verbal sparring between Lisa and Ruth is humorous and very telling. Generational differences are only secondary; the disparate temperament, spirit, and integrity of Lisa and Ruth are the true indicators of what constitutes a decent and compassionate individual.

Dawn of Change is a fast-paced, comfortably read novel that affects the reader on a variety of levels. Likable and intriguing main characters, vivid descriptions of emotional entanglements and their repercussions, and a fluid and carefully crafted plotline all contribute to this well written novel. The basic premise has been told in other books but not in as skillfully entertaining a manner as Hill has imagined it in Dawn of Change. From the contrast of everyday living with the narcissistic maneuverings of the country club set to the desire to have solitude and quietude in one's life while at the same time recognizing the possibilities presented with a random meeting along the trail, Hill has managed simultaneously to capture the interest of the reader and to provide serious consideration for some of today's troublesome societal issues. This reader eagerly looks forward to Hill's next book.

Arlene Germain

Bethany's Bookshelf

Reading God's World
Angus J. L. Menuge, editor
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63118-3968
0758605803 $14.99 1-800-325-3040

Reading God's World: The Scientific Vocation is a compilation of essays by diverse authors, all of them Christians who work in scientific fields, including teaching, experimental science, or technical work. The common theme binding the different topics is the bond between faith and natural laws, and the revelation that since nature is created by God, human understanding of religion needs to hear what science has to say just as modern science needs to be guided by innately moral and ethical assumptions. Individual essays concerning the origin, contribution, and theology of scientific vocation include "Interpreters of the Book of Nature", "Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?" and "Scientists Called to Be Like God". An enthusiastically welcome contribution to the ongoing debate concerning the moral intermelding of scientific and religious wisdom, and the increasing need to establish ethical codes that respect the sanctity of life and individual dignity in a world dramatically changed by ever-increasing scientific possibilities.

Health, Healing & Wholeness
Mary Chase-Ziolek
The Pilgrim Press
700 Prospect Avenue, East, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100
0829816526 $21.00 1-800-654-5129

Written by the director of the Center for Faith and Health and recipient of a nursing Ph.D., Health, Healing & Wholeness is a resource intended especially to speak to congregations in health care ministries. Stressing the importance of understanding the culture of one's congregation, as well as tapping the potential that ministries have to promote community health and development, Health, Healing & Wholeness covers such topics as functioning models of health ministry, creating a positive vision for the future, and more. Health, Healing & Wholeness draws upon anecdotes, testimony, research, the author's experience and the latest findings concerning human health to promote its vision in which ministries apply preventatives and cures, both physical and spiritual, to the best of their ability. Highly recommended.

Who Do You Say I Am?
M. Basil Pennington
New City Press
202 Cardinal Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538
1565482190 $13.95

Written by a Trappist monk from Saint Joseph's Abbey, Who Do You Say I Am? Meditations on Jesus' Questions in the Gospels is an anthology of ponderings on questions uttered by Jesus in the New Testament. Written in plain-terms and accessible to lay readers and theologians alike, Who Do You Say I Am? draws upon biblical scholarship, history, simple morality, and the unceasing quest for answers and understanding. Who Do You Say I Am? is not a compendium of strict answers, but rather a stimulating tool encouraging the reader to think about his or her own spirituality, and rationally contemplate the meaning in Jesus' message. Highly recommended.

What Did Jesus Say?
William S. Epps
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
0817014721 $16.00 1-800-458-3766

What Did Jesus Say? A Daily Devotional Journal is a consumable, 365-day devotional resource. For each day, it presents a quote from Jesus Christ, a paragraph of plain terms commentary that reflects upon questions pertaining to the intersection of human spiritual needs and the wisdom of Jesus' words, and blank lines for the reader to write his or her prayers. For example, the commentary for January 2nd concerning the quote "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49) concludes with the question "As you consider how your energy and time are both consumed, what do you need to do to develop a God-centered life?" Highly recommended as a resource for faithful introspection, meditation, and life-changing resolve.

Jesus: The Authorized Biography
Gary C. Wharton
New Leaf Press
PO Box 726, Green Forest, AR 72638
0892216182 $24.99 1-800-999-3777

Compiled with explanatory text by a graduate from the Moody Bible Institute with scholarship in pastoral studies, Jesus: The Authorized Biography turns directly to the gospels to portray the life, words, teachings, experiences, and death of Jesus Christ. Sections offer simplification, clarification, and context for the Biblical text in contemporary language, but Jesus: The Authorized Biography earns its seemingly audacious subtitle by faithfully reproducing the New Testament texts (in English translation, of course - different translations of the Bible have been fused together to create a smoother holistic narrative) that speak directly of Jesus' life. The words of Jesus and God in particular are emphasized in bold print. A highly readable narrative, as accessible to lay readers as to Christians and theologians, that gives readers of all faiths a better understanding of who Jesus was and what he strived for.

Church History 101
William M. Ramsay
Geneva Press
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-1396
0664502776 $14.95

Though intended especially for Presbyterians, Church History 101: An Introduction for Presbyterians is a solid, well- researched overview of the history of the Christian church from the era when Jesus Christ walked the earth to the present. Written by a retired Presbyterian minister, Church History 101 draws on a wide variety of scriptural, historical and archaeological resources to reconstruct the daily lives of Christian faithful as well as the monumental impacts of rulers, persecutions, crusades, alleged heresy, and attempts at reformation. The text reads fluidly, and is highly accessible especially to lay readers and study groups. Discussion questions such as "To what extent does the church in our country reflect the ideas of the Puritans? To what extent should it do so?" and "What has caused Presbyterians to divide in the past? How helpful have schisms proved to be? What has helped bring many of us back together?" follow each chapter, to better stimulate contemplation and the exchange of ideas. A highly recommended resource and history refresher.

The Spiritual Millionaire
Keith Cameron Smith
WKU Publishing
10 Eloise Circle, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176
0975507001 $19.95 1-386-441-0028

The Spiritual Millionaire: The Spirit of Wisdom Will Make You Rich is a guide especially for Christians who seek harmony between their faith in God and their efforts to achieve prosperity. In the quest to earn a comfortable living, enough to provide for the self and the family well after retirement or passing, The Spiritual Millionaire demonstrates how to tap into spiritual wisdom to enhance personal productivity and success. Chapters address the value of prayer and meditation to stabilizing one's frame of mind, the power of love as a motivating force to earn success, how all things are possible to all people, the values of enthusiasm and perseverance, and much more. A morale-boosting and spiritually reassuring guide.

Going Home
Bill Kemp and Diane Kerner Arnett
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
0825429846 $10.99 1-800-733-2607

Going Home: Facing Life's Final Moments Without Fear is a guide especially for Christians who are confronting their own possible (or certain) death. At such moments, it is quite possible for doubts to arise in one's heart, as well as questions about salvation, guild concerning cravings for relief, the need to wrap up relationship conflicts, and practical matters such as preparing a will. Embracing both Christian truths and realities faced by dying individuals, Going Home turns to scripture, anecdotes, and time-tested wisdom to help the reader see the journey of life through to its final step. "The Book of Job reminds us of several important facts: A person can be angry at God and still be a person of faith. God doesn't blame us for the way that we feel. God is mysterious, and much of his plan is hidden from us. Even patient people like Job get frustrated because they cannot understand why God allows certain things to happen. God is still God, and one day we will understand." A reverent, respectful, and highly helpful guide.

Susan Bethany

Betsy's Bookshelf

Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation
Ellen Sarasohn Glazer and Evelina Weidman Sterling
Perspectives Press
PO Box 90318, Indianapolis, IN 46290
0944934323 $24.95

Clinical social worker specializing in adoption, parenting, and fertility-related issues Ellen Glazer and certified health education specialist Evelina Sterling present Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation, a thoroughly practical and informative guide that provides, in lay terms, everything prospective parents need to know about using modern technology to create children through donated eggs. Chapters address the circumstances in which egg donation is an option; the laws, rules, and ethics for recruited-donor programs; common emotional issues and problems associated specifically with a pregnancy from egg donation; issues to deal with during parenthood of a child conceived through egg donation; and much more. A list of organizations and on-line resources rounds out this valuable, absolute "must-read" for anyone considering participation in an egg donor program or becoming parents through such a practice.

Your Baby's First Year
Glade Curtis, M.D. & Judith Schuler, M.S.
Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
0738209759 $16.95 1-800-242-7737

Now in an expanded and thoroughly updated second edition, Your Baby's First Year: Week By Week is the collaborative work of Glade Curtis (an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists board certified physician who has delivered thousands of babies and who is Co-Director of the Health Clinics of Utah) and Judith Schuler (who has worked with Dr. Curtis for more than 20 years as his co-author and editor on fourteen books dealing with pregnancy, women's health, and children's health). A standard in its field, this chronological development compendium begins with "Before Baby's Birth" and "Baby's 1st 48 Hours", then goes on week by week through the first year of life. Enhanced with a special section covering "Emergency Situations", a glossary, a resources section, and a "user friendly" index, Your Baby's First Year is especially recommended for first time parents for whom every week will bring forth new revelations in their baby's first year of physical and mental development.

Divining The Body
Jan Phillips
Skylight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farms Offices, Route 4, PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
1594730806 $16.99 1-800-962-4544

Divining The Body: Reclaim The Holiness Of Your Physical Self by award-winning author Jan Phillips is a spiritual self-help guide especially for women. Written to counter a negative culture of self-hatred by cultivating appreciation for the holy qualities of the physical body as God's temple, Divining the Body focuses on different physical parts chapter by chapter: the feet, legs, hands, back, generative organs, belly, heart, breasts, throat, ears, eyes and brain. Exercises and reflections offer means to dwell upon the sacredness in the body as a gift from God, and spiritual quotes in the margins from a wide assortment of authorities enrich this guide to life-affirming personal contemplation.

No Saints, No Saviors
Willie Perkins
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001
0865549672 $25.00 1-800-634-2378

No Saints, No Saviors: My Years With The Allman Brothers Band by Willie Perkins (President of Republic Artists Management) is based on the authors' direct involvement with The Allman Brothers Band from 1970 to 1976, and with Gregg Allman from 1983 to 1989. Gripping in its detail of personal tragedy, the nightmares of drug and alcohol abuse, the sad deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, and the band's phoenix-like rise from ashes, No Saints, No Saviors is a primary source that will prove vital to fans and researchers of The Allman Brothers Band and a valuable insight into the music industry in general for others. Black-and-white photographs enhance this poignant, personal, and singularly perceptive memoir.

Every Grain Of Sand
J. A. Wainwright, editor
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
0889204535 $24.95

Compiled and edited by J. A. Wainwright (Professor of English, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), Every Grain Of Sand: Canadian Perspectives On Ecology And Environment is a collection of thirteen erudite and knowledgeable essays on environmental issues from a decidedly Canadian perspective. The contributing authors and their presentations range from Lionel Rubinoff's "The World is Your Body", to "Anne Marie Dalton's "Who Cares about the Meadow?", to Onno Oerlemans' "Romantic Origins of Environmentalism", to Ehor Boyanowky's "Cutting a Deal with Attila". Even though the perspectives are Canadian, the issues are universal, making Every Grain Of Sand a very strongly recommended addition to Environmental Studies academic library collections and supplemental reading lists, as well as thoughtful and thought-provoking reading for non-specialist general readers with an interest in nature and environmental issues.

Natural Wonders Of The Jersey Pines And Shores
Robert A. Peterson, Michael A. Hogan, Steve Greer
Plexus Publishing, Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750
0937548480 $49.95 1-609-654-6500

Natural Wonders Of The Jersey Pines And Shores by the late educator, journalist, historian, and sportsman Robert A. Peterson (1956-2003) covers a diversity of topics drawn from the unique Pine Barrens and coastal ecosystems of New Jersey including the flora, fauna, geological formations, and natural forces of the area. Much of the material was adapted from his regular newspaper column in "The Egg Harbor News". The informed and informative text is wonderfully enhanced with the nature photography of Michael A. Hogan and Steve Greer. This posthumous publication of Robert Peterson's Natural Wonders Of The Jersey Pines And Shores is a welcome contribution by a gifted writer whose "insatiable curiosity about nature and history" make the New Jersey Pine Barrens and beaches a truly engaging read from beginning to end for the non-specialist general reader as well as the student of nature's ecosystems, as well as a welcome contribution to American Ecological Studies and Environmental Studies library reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Betsy L. Hogan

Betty's Bookshelf

Steeped in the World of Tea
Edited by Sharon Bard, Birgit Nielsen, and Clara Rosemarda
Photography by Juliana Spear
Interlink Books
Interlink Publishing Group, Inc.
46 Crosby St., Northampton, MA 01060
1566565561, $20.00 183 p.

From the tea ceremonies of Japan to the samovars of Russia to the carefully brewed beverage of an English high tea, tea is the world's most popular drink. Its very smell can return adults to the nursery tea table and revive memories of time spent with friends and loved ones over a "cuppa". And for the true tea drinker, a cup of tea can soothe even the most stressful day, at least for a moment. Tea drinkers all have their own reasons why tea is so important to them, and Steeped in the World of Tea allows readers to see the joys of tea from twenty-three different points of view.

In addition, the authors are donating some of the proceeds to Food First (, a non-profit organization that promotes freedom from hunger as a basic human right, which makes reading about the pleasures of the tea table even more enjoyable. Whether you like tea or just like good writing, I think you' ll enjoy this book. However, be sure you make a nice pot of tea first, to add extra enjoyment to your reading. (If you make Darjeeling, save me some!)

Just Imagine
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Avon Books
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd St., New York, NY, 10022-5299
0380808307, $6.99 372 p.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips's first solo fictional effort, Risen Glory, came out in 1984 and has been out of print for many years. After much begging and pleading from her fans, Phillips revised, retitled, and re-released it in 2001, as Just Imagine.

In the style of Margaret Mitchell's famous antebellum romance, Gone With the Wind, Risen Glory is set in the days after the end of the Civil War, where the reader first meets Katherine Louise Weston. Katherine, better known as Kit, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl from South Carolina who's on her way to New York to kill a man. Left to her own devices by a father too infatuated with his new wife to care, she's grown up differently than most Southern girls, whom she thinks are all soft and weak.

She's determined to be neither; she can shoot, cuss, ride a horse bareback, and smoke cigars, and the only thing she hates more than dressing like a girl and acting properly is Yankees. After illness kills off first her father and then her stepmother and she discovers that the only home she's ever known has been left to Major Baron Cain, a Yankee hero (and stepbrother she's never met), she decides the only way to get back what is rightfully hers is to kill Cain.

Once in New York, her plan backfires; it's not so easy to kill a man, especially a man like Cain! When her next plan (offering to become his mistress) doesn't work, either, she's stymied. Then he makes a counter-offer - go to the Templeton Academy for Young Ladies for three years and learn to be a lady. Afterwards... well, who knows? So she goes. Maybe another plan will come to her.

After three years, she comes home, but she's still confused. Does Cain love her or just want her? Is it for herself or for the plantation? She can't be in love with a Yankee... can she? And how can she live anywhere but Risen Glory? Following the twists and turns of Kit's life as she learns what being a woman is all about will take the reader to the last page with a sigh of satisfaction. I never read Phillips's original version of this story, but this version definitely bears the hallmark of a Phillips story - strong characters, deep emotions, humor, and lots of sizzle. This is a story readers will long remember.

Betty Winslow

Bob's Bookshelf

Baby Goose
Kate McMullan
Illustrated by Pascal LeMaitre
0786804300, $15.99, 33 pages

An amusing "take" on the Mother Goose rhymes, Baby Goose holds center stage in this collection of short verse which features lots of illustrations of adorable babies.

The 27 rhymes collected here include "Baby Shall Have a New Bonnet", "Baby Foster Went to Glouscester", "Rock-a-bye, Baby", and "This Is How Babies Take a Bath".

Young children will delight in reading these short verses aloud with their parents. If you are so inclined, add to the fun by singing them!

Diary of a Fairy Godmother
Esme Raji Codell
Illustrated by Drazen Kozjan
Hyperion Books for Children
0786809655, $14.99, 170 pages

A tale of witchcraft gone amuck, Hunky Dory is destined to be one of the best evil crones of all time. Alas, though, when she decides it's more fun granting wishes than casting evil spells, Hunky gets booted out of witches' charm school. What's a girl to do after this embarrassing situation? Why practice "wishcraft" of course! In Hunky's case, the results of her good deeds aren't always what one would expect or hope for.

This unconventional happily-ever-after story which puts an amusing spin on the traditional fairy tale will appeal to readers eight years of age and up.

Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch
Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Cynthia Ryland
Simon & Schuster
0689811780, $14.95, 40 pages

Part of the Ready-to-Read series of books for children between the ages of four and six, this story find Henry and his dog Mudge planning a special surprise for Mother's Day. With Dad's help they are going to make Mom the best lunch ever. You'll accompany the trio as they go to the grocery store and then prepare the Mom's special meal in the kitchen. What makes it a "funny lunch"? You'll have to read the story to see what Henry, his Dad, and Mudge come up with!

Although released for Mother's Day, "The Funny Lunch" is a story that works nicely anytime of year. You don't have to wait for a special day of the year to surprise Mom with lunch.

Mice Twice
Joseph Low
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
0689710607, $5.99, 28 pages

Appropriate for youngsters four years of age and up, "Mice Twice" follows the misadventures of Cat who invites Mouse for dinner. Of course, Mouse is no dummy and she knows Cat intends that she will be the entree. When Mouse asks if she can bring a friend along, Cat readily agrees, thinking "Double portions!"

How Mouse outsmarts Cat and makes it a social event the sneaky feline won't wish to repeat is the subject of this delightful tale. "Mice Twice" is a Caldecott Honor Book.

Kokopelli's Flute
Will Hobbs
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
1416902503, $4.99 148 pages

Tep Jones has always been fascinated by the Picture House, an Anasazi cliff dwelling, near his home. When the youngster finds a bone flute left behind by grave robbers, Tep's interest in the ancient ruin takes on a whole new dimension. Since discovering the flute the boy's life has changed for the worse. The key to the ancient magic that the artifact has unleashed resides in the enigma of Picture House and Cricket, an old Indian who knows the secrets of the past.

Children ages nine years of age and above will enjoy this riveting Southwestern adventure set in northern New Mexico.

Sammy The Classroom Guinea Pig
Alix Berenzy
Henry Holt
0805040242, $16.95, 28 pages

When Sammy begins making strange sounds, Mrs. B and the rest of the class wonders what is going on. "Wheep, wheep, wheep," shrieks the little guinea pig. Now what could that mean? "Whutt! Whutt-whutt-whutt!" follows along with "Coot! Dutt-dutt-Deet-doot!". Something's obviously not right with Sammy.

All the children wonder what is happening but it's Maria who solves the mystery of all the strange sounds.

The author includes a useful fact sheet on guinea pigs and how they communicate, which you'll want to take a look at after you finish the story.

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

Perspectives on Spirit Baptism
Chad Owen Brand, editor
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue, North, Nashville, TN 37234
0805425942 $19.99 1-800-251-3225

Perspectives on Spirit Baptism: 5 Views is a collection counterpoint views by five different authors concerning beliefs about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Each author is a learned and prominent theological scholar in his field, and presents the view of his own tradition in clear and succinct terms, as well a response to the differences of other traditions. The speakers cover the Sacramental view, the Wesleyan view, the Charismatic view, the Pentecostal view, and the Reformed view. All draw heavily upon the scripture to better illuminate their perspective. A well-rounded introduction into the theology of spirit baptism, especially useful for theologians and scholars but also accessible to lay people who want to better understand the practice of spirit baptism as it applies to them and their given faith.

Forest and Trees
H. Doyle Smith
Aaron-Denburn Publishing
PO Box 9059, Canton, OH 44711-9059
0964789191 $12.95

Written by the son of a Southern Baptist minister who is also a member of Mensa and has studied the Bible privately in addition to public church worship, Forest and Trees briefly discusses common conundrums often expressed concerning alleged inconsistencies in the Bible. Focusing on the theme and outline chosen by the authors of the King James version of the Bible, Forest and Trees tries to reconcile micro-focused issues in favor of a broad picture that emerges of God and history. Written with faith, passion, and a positive belief in the goodness of humanity and God, Forest and Trees is a compelling interpretation that sheds fresh light on age-old wrestlings and issues with the Old and New Testaments. Highly recommended, particularly for lay readers and worshipers searching for solace.

Seasons of Friendship, revised edition
Marjory Zoet Bankson
Augsburg Publishers
100 Fifth Street, Suite 700, Minneapolis, MN 55402-1210
0806651369 $12.99 1-800-328-4648

Seasons of Friendship: Naomi And Ruth As A Model For Relationship by Marjory Zoet Bankson (the first woman and layperson to serve as president of "Faith @ Work", a nationwide Christian ministry dedicated to providing tools for international community within churches) offers the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi's unique friendship as a model for valuing the different kinds of support that contemporary women, today still need and are able to provide in the different seasons of their lives. In this newly revised edition, Marjory demonstrates the contemporary aspects of Ruth and Naomi's friendship as she ably chronicles her own long-time, ever-changing friendship with one particular friend. Inspired and inspiring, Seasons Of Friendship will prove to be engaging, thoughtful, and motivating reading for Christians of all denominational backgrounds and affiliations.

The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom
Stevan Davies
Bardic Press
PO Box 761, Oregon House, CA 95962-0761
0974566748 $19.95

Now in an updated and expanded second edition, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom by Stevan Davies (Professor of Religious Studies, College Misericordia, Pennsylvania) focuses upon the writings known as the Gospel of Thomas which were discovered in Egypt in 1945 as part of the now famous Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of first century Christian documents that are some of the earliest written records we have available arising from the earliest days of the Christian movement. This Bardic Press edition returns to print a classic work of painstaking yet accessible scholarship and features a new forty page introduction discussing recent developments in scholarship, the distinctions of the Gospel of Thomas from the canonical gospels, the role of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Thomas, and additional, invaluable insights into one of the most exciting finds of the 20th Century in Biblical Studies. Not to be missed is a fascinating and provocative essay on the possible use of the Gospel of Thomas an oracle text for those early Coptic Christians thought to be responsible for the Nag Hammadi Library collection. Highly recommended reading for both scholarship and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Christian Theology and History, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom is an enduring work of substantial value and interest. Also very highly recommended reading are Professor Davies other works: The Gospel of Thomas Annotated & Explained; Jesus the Healer, New Testament Fundamentals, and Revolt of the Widows. Additionally recommended is Professor Davies' The Gospel of Thomas website which is a world class Internet website dedicated specifically to this subject.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

California's State Parks
John McKinney
Wilderness Press
1200 Fifth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-1306
0899973868 $15.95 1-800-443-7227

Hiking expert John "The Trailmaster" McKinney presents California's State Parks: A Day Hiker's Guide, a traveler's guide packed cover to cover with everything a nature-loving vacationer could hope to know about day-hikes in California's state parklands. Divided by geographical region, the trails in California's state parks are illustrated with black-and-white maps and carefully described in terms of length, difficulty, directions, what to expect while hiking and more. An index allows for quick and easy lookup of individual trails, and black-and-white photographs offer a visual introduction to natural splendors. California's State Parks: A Day Hiker's Guide does not concern itself overmuch with information unrelated to day hike trails, where to find them and what to see on them, leaving such matters to other guides. A "must-have" for hiking enthusiasts visiting or residing in California.

Managing With Conscience For Competitive Advantage
Pete Geissler
Quality Press
c/o American Society for Quality
600 North Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
0873896386 $24.00 1-800-248-1946

Managing With Conscience For Competitive Advantage by business management and marketing expert Pete Geissler dissects the flaw of a "managing for stockholder value" philosophy, that leads to amoral business decisions, harmful financial fallout, and blows to a firm's reputation. The kinder, gentler, and more productive alternative that Managing With Conscience For Competitive Advantage offers is "managing with conscience", a.k.a. "managing for customer and employee satisfaction." The benefits of managing for satisfaction are deliberately set out - satisfied employees are more productive and less likely to leave (which begets costly rehiring and retraining efforts), while satisfied customers are more likely to keep coming back and spread a good reputation by word of mouth! Chapters further discuss the importance of forming positive relationships through hospitality as sure as good business, and lessons that can be learned from other's mistakes and difficulties just trying to survive. More than just an ethical handbook, Managing With Conscience For Competitive Advantage is a "must-read" chock full of prosperity-building tips, tricks, and techniques for small and big business managers alike.

Jackson Choice
Gerard Murrin
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
1931741484 $19.95

Jackson Choice is a human issues novel of crisis, challenge, and temptation. A small-town restaurant manager find love in his marriage, but not contentment, when an upscale golf club competes with his business and draws him into its allure of excessive drinking, gambling and debauchery. With his marriage and his future precariously on the line, he must choose which lifestyle he will follow, but tragedy inevitably strikes one of his employees drawn too deep into the club's allure, suffering a nervous breakdown due to gambling problems and internal demons. Meanwhile the FBI converges upon the River Club like an ominous vulture, running a investigation that will unearth shocking truths. A compelling tale of hard decisions and cold consequences.

French Creek
Peter Rennebohm
North Star Press of St. Cloud
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0451
0878392114 $24.95 1-888-820-1636

Award-winning author Peter Rennebohm presents French Creek, a suspenseful novel about an ordinary Minneapolis salesman whose trip to a junkyard in search of a part to rebuild an old truck quickly entangled him in a lethal struggle with his life as the prize. Against ruthless and experienced killers, he must weather a severe winter storm amid the rural farmland of central Minnesota and the prairies of the South Dakota borderland. A gripping saga of personal defiance, ingenuity, and courage, compelling to the last page.

What Works and Why: Effective Approaches to Reentry
American Correctional Association
4380 Forbes Boulevard, Lanham, Maryland 20706-4322
1569912165 $35.00

What Works and Why: Effective Approaches to Reentry is an anthology of seven essays by experienced professionals concerning practical approaches to re-integrating former prisoners into society. The essays are "Social Learning, Social Capital, and Correctional Theories"; "Models of Supervision Relevant to the Delivery of Effective Correctional Service"; "Evidence-Based Programming Today"; "Using an Integrated Model to Implement Evidence-based Practices in Corrections"; "Public Safety and the Search for a Strategic Converter"; "Meeting the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry"; and "Revisiting Responsibility". Published jointly by the American Correctional Association and the International Community Corrections Association, What Works and Why dismisses extended philosophical concerns for a focus on common problems that need immediate solutions. Written in plain terms, the essays highlight what is most needed for the sake of benefiting society as surely as the former prison inmates. Strongly recommended for anyone working in corrections, criminal law, associated politics, and potentially of use to even former prisoners themselves.

Iraq, Inc.
Pratap Chatterjee
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
1583226672 $11.95 1-800-596-7437

Written by award-winning investigative journalist Pratap Chatterjee, Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation is a scathing indictment of how the American occupation has proven immensely enriching to private corporations - at the expense of American taxpayers and the freedom, safety, and economic stability of the Iraqi people. Chapters discuss the scams and frauds involved in reconstruction, the constant threatening presence of military men, militiamen, and civilians with guns, and the questionable and arguably unstable "shadow government" being set up. The author concludes his words in July of 2004, in fear of the future of Iraq. America and Iraq both need desperately to grapple with the difficult issues and outright larceny in order to promote the transformation of Iraq as a place where people can live without fear, and seek their destiny without the burdens of economic poverty or the hovering threat of violence. A "must-read" expose for anyone studying the recent war in Iraq and its aftermath.

Ricardo Ayerza Jr. & Wayne Coates
University of Arizona Press
355 South Euclid Avenue, Suite 103, Tucson, AZ 85719-6654
0816525882 $14.95 1-800-426-3797

Also available in a hardcover edition (0816524386, $50.00), Chia: Rediscovering A Forgotten Crop Of The Aztecs by agronomist Ricardo Ayerza (Associate in Arid Lands, Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona) and engineer Wayne Coates (Research Professor, Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona) focuses upon "chia", a principle Aztec food crop at the time of Columbus' appearance in the Caribbean, and which was almost wiped out by the Conquistadors because of its use in "pagan" rituals. For centuries the plant survived in only a few scattered areas and was largely unknown in the continental United States. This was a plant that the Aztecs used as raw material for medicines, and as an energy source on long journeys. In this comprehensive study, Ayerza and Coats compare chai's fatty acid profiles with those of fish oil, flaxseed, and marine algae, finding chia superior in many ways. Chia has the highest known percentage of alpha-linolenic acid, and the highest combined alpha-linolenic and linoleic fatty acid percentage of all the crops. Chia has more protein, lipids, energy and fiber (but fewer carbs) that rice, barley, oats, wheat or corn -- and its protein is gluten-free. Chia is also an excellent source for calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. Chia is low in sodium (salmon has 78 times as much, tuna 237 times as much). Chia exhibits no evidence of allergic response, even in individuals with peanut and tree-nut allergies. Chia doesn't give off a "fish" flavor, unlike some other sources of omega-3 fatty acid. The need to supply omega-3 fatty acid in the human diet, combined with the imperative of finding a safe, renewable omega-3 source not dependant upon the fishing industry, chia is now documented as being one of the world's most important crops. A work of impeccable and documented scholarship, Chia: Rediscovering A Forgotten Crop Of The Aztecs is an important, seminal contribution whose agricultural value for human health we simply cannot afford to overlook. Very highly recommended, informed and informative reading!

John Burroughs

Carolyn's Bookshelf

The Sorcerer's Stone
J. K. Rowling
Illustrations by Mary Grandpre
Arthur A. Levine Books, 1st American ed
0590353403, $22.99, 309 pages

With Book #6 on the horizon, I am remembering the first one. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the first book by J. K. Rowling. It is a story about young Harry Potter, a name now known around the world. Rowling is much admired for her writing technique, her ability to weave an intriguing story, and her ability to keep her readers on the edges of their seats. I read this book in 2000 because my grandchildren were reading it and loving it! I was hooked; and, let's not forget Mary Grandpre whose illustrations add liveliness to the text.

When infant Harry Potter's parents are tragically murdered, he has the misfortune to be taken to live with his mother's sister, husband, and their son. He is delivered to Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Cousin Dudley, the muggle family (non-magical people), on Privet Drive, London. They are a miserable lot, and so Harry spends the next 10 years living in an unloving household, unloving toward him. While his aunt and uncle treat him badly, they dote on their obnoxious brat, young Dudley. Then, at age 11, Harry receives a letter telling him to prepare to enter wizard school at Hogwarts. After a few fits and starts getting there, Harry is off on a fantastical adventure with new (and first) friends, Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasley. He begins to find out who he really is. People he's never seen before know who he is as soon as they hear his name. Heads turn and whispers abound.

This book takes us through Harry's first year at the Hogwarts School. We meet many characters along the way, including headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, huge and lovable Rebeus Hagrid, bad boy Draco Malfoy and his sidekicks Crabbe and Goyle. We meet menacing Professor Snape, changling Professor McGonagall and strange Professor Quirrell, among others. We learn about Quidditch, a most remarkable, challenging and dangerous sport, one in which only those possessed of magical skills could ever engage. This book is a delightful beginning to what is now a world favorite, akin to the Hardy boys series of another era.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J. K. Rowling
Illustrations by Mary Grandpre
Arthur A. Levine Books
0439064864, $22.99, 352 pages

On July 16, 2005, Book #6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will be released. It is eagerly, almost desperately, anticipated. I own and have read, Books 1-5, and am remembering each. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in Rowling's extraordinary series about a remarkable young boy; a lad who starts out life happily, then his wizard parents are tragically murdered, and his life is forever changed.

One of the challenges facing this author, and others who write series in which characters are brought forward, is the necessity to keep track of each character's personality traits, habits and experiences over time. If an author comments on one page that so-and-so dislikes coffee, and later has so-and-so savoring his or her favorite cup of java, well, we have a problem. Rowling has prepared well with outlines, drawings, and briefs about people, places and things portrayed in her work. Still, the task is enormous. Throughout seven books (that is the total number, she says), she must keep every detail constant, unless of course so-and-so decides he or she likes coffee, after all!!

In the Chamber of Secrets, Harry must spend another summer on Privet Drive. He eagerly awaits his return to Hogwarts and his friends. Transportation back to school is a flying car, driven by friend Ron, who shows up at his upstairs bedroom window (an upgrade from the space behind the stairs where Harry spent his first 10 years on Privet drive). The adventure starts here. First, they stop off at Ron's home where we learn more about the Weasleys, and formerly meet Ginny Weasley, the boys' sister (she was at the train station in Sorcerer's Stone). The trip to school is treacherous with Ron at the wheel and a car with a mind of its own.

This book takes us through Harry's second year at the Hogwarts School and more dangerous adventures. His curiosity and innate sense of right and wrong carry him through, though barely, in some cases. We meet several new characters, including vain Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, pesky Colin Creevey, and creepy Moanin' Myrtle; and there's more Quidditch. There's trouble about mudbloods who are half wizard and half muggle. Hermoine Granger is a mudblood.

What makes Harry so likable is that he's not perfect, far from it. He gets angry, is not a good student, occasionally disobeys the rules (for a just reason, of course), and gets into all sorts of jams. However, whatever roadblock appears before him, whatever mistakes he makes, he carries on without whining (well, maybe a little), blaming others or giving up, a good lesson for all of us. However, the dangers he faces in the Chamber of Secrets may be insurmountable. Read and see.

The Prisoner of Azkaban
J. K. Rowling
Illustrations by Mary GrandPre
Arthur A. Levine Books: 1st American Edition
An Imprint of Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York 10012
0439136350, $22.99, 448 pp. (Hardcover)

By the time Book #3 came out, The Prisoner of Azkaban, I was completely hooked on Rowling and on Harry Potter. (Have you noticed how each book gets longer? This one is 226 pages longer than Book #2, The Chamber of Secrets.)

In this book, Harry becomes a teenager. He spends his thirteenth birthday, as usual, with his miserable relatives, The Dursleys. However, after feeling sorry for himself all day, he gets a phone call from Ron...that's a trip, and letters from Hermoine and Hagrid. He's feeling better now. However, a visit by Aunt Marge, Uncle Vernon's sister, the next day is a disaster. You'll have to read Chapter Two to appreciate what happens to Aunt Marge.

We move on to Hogwarts School where there is real danger for Harry this year. It seems a vicious criminal, Sirius Black, has escaped Azkaban Prison, a most dreadful place for only the most vicious of criminals, kept in line by the terrifying Dementors who suck the breath from their victims. It seems Black is looking for Harry. Everyone is terrified, and Harry and friends are faced with many harrowing moments. Near the end of the book, Harry has a close encounter with a Dementor and commits an act that will cause him considerable grief later. (Exactly what is a Dementor? A brief description from p. 384: "Where there should have been eyes, there was only thin, gray scabbed skin, stretched blankly over empty sockets. But there was a mouth...a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking the air with the sound of a death rattle.")

This book has some truly terrifying passages that are extremely well crafted. I was genuinely scared in parts and wondered how Harry and his friends were going to make it this time. The Prisoner of Azkaban takes Harry Potter and author Rowling to a whole new level. Don't read this one when you're alone.

The Goblet of Fire
J. K. Rowling
Illustrations by Mary GrandPre
Arthur A. Levine Books: 1st American Edition
An Imprint of Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York 10012
0439139597, $29.99, 734 pp. (Hardcover)

They just keep getting better, and longer. Book #4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is 734 pages long, and I still didn't want it to end. Things are really heating up in Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts School. He is fourteen and thinking more about girls. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Voldemort) is becoming stronger once again and the number of Harry's enemies is increasing, or so it seems. Just who are his true friends, and who are not? Evil is everywhere. The war between good and evil grows more intense and dangerous. Meanwhile, Hermoine is determined to free the house-elves and establishes the House Elf Liberation Front. Dobby, the house-elf, tries to adjust, but is confused; and what is Dobby's friend, Winky, the wicked Malfoys' ex-house-elf up to?

In the first chapter, we visit Riddle House where something strange and horrible happened 50 years before. To the villagers of Little Hangleton, it remains a creepy place. Nobody knows anymore what is true and what isn't, but they all agree that the events of that horrible day so long ago started at daybreak. We learn about Portkeys and the Dark Mark, and attend a Triwizard Tournament where some spectacular and frightening events take place. Padfoot and Wormtail are up to no good. The Death Eaters terrify everyone. Rita Skeeter is out to discredit Albus Dumbledore and ruin Rubeus Hagrid. The Irish National Quidditch Team and the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team face each other at the Quidditch World Cup where Harry is so distracted by the beautiful Veela dancers that he loses his concentration and so it goes. It's no wonder this book is over 700 pages.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J. K. Rowling
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Scholastic, Inc.
043935806X, $29.99, 870 pages (hardcover )

J. K. Rowling continues to amaze with her writing talent, her creativity and her extraordinary organizational skills. Her prose is easy to read, her fantasies full blown and (once again) she successfully keeps track of the details as the story of Harry Potter, his friends and enemies, continues. At 870 pages, the Order of the Phoenix is the longest and I thought a bit too attentive to detail in the early stages, but that did not diminish my admiration for the author or the content of the story.

Harry is now fifteen and in his fifth year at Hogwarts. He spends almost the entire book in a bad mood, not unusual for a teenage boy. He is introduced to the Order of the Phoenix and eventually learns they are charged with protecting him. In this book, Harry has a recurring dream of walking down a long corridor toward a closed door, which eventually opens for him, leading to all sorts of trouble and horror. Meanwhile, Hagrid is missing for a time. He returns somewhat worse for wear, but at least he's back, to the great relief of Hermoine, Ron and Harry. A dreadful witch wizard in the form of Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge arrives at Hogwarts and much of the story involves her treachery there. Harry's first introduction to her was at his hearing early in the book. Hearing? For what? (Only the reader knows!)

As with the earlier books, pay close attention as you read. You will need the information provided early in the story to fully grasp the events at the end of The Order of the Phoenix as Harry continues to fight against the dark forces of the wizard world.

Carolyn Rowe Hill

Carson's Bookshelf

The Story Of Human Language
John McWhorter
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
1565859480 $374.95 1-800-832-2412

Linguistics expert John McWhorter is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute whose academic specialty is language change and language contact. In The Story Of Human Language, Professor McWhorter presents 36 thirty minute lectures captures in a six DVD format series organized into 3 plastic storage cases of two discs each. This fully developed seminar begins with an exploration and explanation of what constitutes language, how languages changes and evolves, the classification of language into "families", "The Case Against the World's First Language" and "The Case For the World's First Language". Professor McWhorter then goes on to cover dialects, language mixture, offers a new perspective on the developmental history of English. Then addressing the question of whether culture drives language change, Professor McWhorter ably addresses how language "starts over" using Creole as an illustration. Concluding with lectures on Black English, "language death", and artificial languages, Professor McWhorter ends with his lecture series with "Finale--Master Class". Professor McWhorter's lectures are hallmarked with an engaging, informative, and even entertaining presentation style that proves easily accessible to the non-specialist general viewer, and yet is detailed and scholastically rigorous to serve the needs of the student seeking academic credits. This DVD lecture series is accompanied by three paperbacks (The Story of Human Language: Parts 1, 2 & 3) that provide a published version of all of the lectures. The Story Of Human Language is strongly recommended for college and university library collections, and would make an excellent curriculum for individual advanced student and high-school "Honors Class" studies in the development of language.

Silence On The Wire
Michal Zalewski
No Starch Press
555 De Haro Street, #250, San Francisco, CA 94107
1593270461 $39.95 1-800-420-7240

Silence On The Wire: A Field Guide To Passive Reconnaissance And Indirect Attacks by computer security and programming expert Michal Zalewski focuses upon fundamentals of computing so that even non-specialist general readers can understand network design and their own computing activities, becoming able to address computer security issues. Silence On The Wire follows the path of a piece of information from the moment the user's hand touches the computer keyboard to the instant when it is received by a remote party on the other end of the wire. Zalewski notes that security concerns don't simply stem from a set of isolated faults that can be worked around, but represent issues associated with every process and system, and therefore they need to be understood and studied within that broader and more comprehensive context. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, Silence On The Wire should be considered mandatory reading for all security professionals, and is enthusiastically recommended to the attention of technophiles with an interest in computer security for themselves and their associates.

John Barleycorn Must Die
Ben F. Johnson III
The University of Arkansas Press
McIlroy House, 201 Ozark Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72701
1557287872 $19.95 1-800-626-0090

John Barleycorn Must Die: The War Against Drink In Arkansas by Ben Johnson III (Associate Professor of History, Southern Arkansas University) begins with the early attempts to keep alcohol from the Native Americans during Arkansas' colonial period. Then temperance groups focused on outlawing alcohol in the antebellum communities of Arkansas. After the Civil War new federal taxes on whiskey production in Arkansas led to violence between revenue agents and moonshiners. The state joined the growing national movement against saloons the culminated in 1915 when the legislature approved a measure to health the sale, manufacture, and distribution of alcohol (which prohibition included the then thriving wine industry in Arkansas). The state supported national prohibition, but the people became disillusioned with the widespread violations of the law. But the state waited to repeal its own prohibition law until compelled to do so by a fiscal crisis in 1935 that required it to raise revenue. Even then, the new law only authorized retail liquor stores, and not the return of taverns or bars. A final effort to restore prohibition in 1950 was rebuffed by voters, but there are still 43 counties in Arkansas remain dry, and only 32 are wet -- with disputes over the granting of private club licenses continuing to be a lively social and political concern throughout the state. Enhanced with 50 photographs and an index, John Barleycorn Must Die is a work of considerable scholarship and an impressive contribution to both American History and Arkansas State History library reference collections.

The Sami People
Veli-Pekka Lehtola, author; Linna Weber Muller-Wille, translator
University of Alaska Press
PO Box 756240, 104 Eielson Building, Salcha Street, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6240
1889963755 $27.95 1-888-252-6657

Enhanced with both color and black/white photography, maps, a glossary, and a bibliography, The Sami People: Traditions In Transition by Veli-Pekka Lehtola is written from the perspective of the indigenous Sami people of Scandinavia and European Russia, the only ethnic group in Europe to be recognized as aboriginals. An economically and culturally diverse people who speak several dialects of the Sami language, they have been divided by national borders for centuries. In recent decades the Sami have been transitioning from their principle image as herders of reindeers to such contemporary enterprises as writers, artists, and political activists. The Sami People is written by academician and Sami native Veli-Pekka Lehtola (a Senior Research Fellow, University of Oulu, Finland), and is available in English thanks to the excellent and pains-taking translation skills of Linna Weber Muller-Wille. A unique and invaluable work of original research, The Sami People will prove to be of special interest and value to the study of circumpolar aboriginal peoples, and is an important contribution to the fields of anthropology, sociology, ethnic cultural studies, and European history.

Wild West China
Christian Tyler
Rutgers University Press
100 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8099
0813535336 $27.95 1-800-446-9323

The home of sand-buried cities, painted cave shrines, rare animals, and wonderfully preserved mummies of a distinctive European appearance, the wilderness of Xinjiang in northwest China is marked by a savage landscape and volatile climate where the Uighurs still farm tranquil oases that ring the world's second largest sand desert (Taklamakan) and the native herdsmen sill roam the wild mountains. This is a region that has been hallmarked by violence ranging from the incursions by nomad chieftains from the north, Muslim emirs from Central Asia, Russian generals, and warlords from inner China. Wild West China: The Taming Of Xinjiang by journalist Christian Tyler is the story of how the Communists have developed this one time untamed wilderness through the development of a penal colony, as a buffer against invasion, and as a suppler of raw materials and living space. But Chinese development is seen by the native Uighurs as the unwelcome work of an alien occupier which has led to continued violence and savage reprisals. An invaluable contribution to Chinese History and International Studies, Wild West China is especially commended to academia and university library reference collections.

Michael J. Carson

Cheri's Bookshelf

Darkness Descending
Penny Mickelbury
A Mimi / Gianna Mystery
Kings Crossing Publishing
P.O. Box 673121, Atlanta, GA 30006
ISBN: 0971448965, $14.95, 207 pages

Penny Mickelbury, a highly acclaimed award-winning author, writes with an authoritative flare about discrimination against homosexuals, particularly black lesbians who dress and act like AGs or Doms (Aggressives or Dominants - new terminology replacing "Butch" within a "counter-culture" or "sub-culture") within the Washington D.C. gay community. Someone is targeting women who dress and act like men with " kind of an in-your-face-don't mess-with-me attitude " [73]. Pathetically, the police department isn't doing a thing about it, and the religious fanatics are propagating discrimination of gays in every way imaginable, even condoning murder and rape as God's will. Darkness Descending is a work of fiction that depicts the disturbing ugliness of homophobia and racism too often seen in the real world.

Lieutenant Gianna Maglione, head of the D.C. Police Department's Hate Crimes Unit, and her girlfriend investigative reporter Mimi Patterson, work to solve the brutal murder and mutilation of twenty-nine year old AG, Natasha Hilliard, that occurred as she was leaving a gay nightclub in a seedy part of town. By all appearances, Hilliard looks like an average male hoodlum, but what Gianna and Mimi discover about the victim is very surprising.

"Mainstream society finally decides that maybe it's OK to be queer, as long as the girls look like they belong on The L Word and the boys are interior design and fashion queens, but heaven help anybody who doesn't fit inside their straight little lines!" [p 72]

Mickelbury's Darkness Descending begins in the "hood" with an accurate portrayal which includes the colorful local language, sights, sounds, and smells. You can cut the tension in the first few scenes with a knife. It "feels" hot, exciting, dangerous, seedy, and incredibly real. Once you move to the nicer neighborhoods, the mood and settings noticeably change, which shows the contrast between the two worlds in a very effective way. Mickelbury's writing is sharp, her images vivid, her style engaging - all adding up to an educating, but somewhat disturbing piece of fiction you don't want to believe could be based on truth.

Mimi and Gianna are outraged at the blatant irresponsibility of law enforcement officers who do not protect all citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. Both deeply committed to their jobs, can they be equally committed to each other? Find out in Darkness Descending, the fourth Mimi / Gianna Mystery. I highly recommend this book to socially conscious readers who enjoy murder mysteries, crime scene investigations, investigative reporting, fighting against hate crimes, and abolishing corruption in law enforcement. Mickelbury does an excellent job of keeping the reader engrossed in this wonderfully written story, rooting for the good guys, and trying to solve the mystery before Mimi and Gianna. Micklebury is a superb author. I didn't feel like I was reading a novel - I felt like I was there. Darkness Descending is deservedly a finalist for the Golden Crown Literary Society award in the mystery category for 2005.

Change of Pace: Erotic Interludes
Bold Stroke Books, Inc.
314 Conestoga Road, Wayne, PA 19087
ISBN: 1933110074, $14.95, 187 pages

Change of Pace: Erotic Interludes by Radclyffe is a wonderful collection of short stories so delightful and delicious they will tempt, tease, and thrill readers for years to come. The anthology is contemporary, yet timeless, not only about sex, but also about love, longing, lust, surprises, chance meetings, planned meetings, fulfilling wild fantasies, and trust. Radclyffe is masterful at wrapping subtle plots, inspired settings, and entertaining characters around an incredible variety of hot sex scenes.

Radclyffe paints her characters using just enough brushstrokes to give the reader a whole portrait. When one lover states, "She had the hands of a magician, the mouth of a saint, and she could read me as if I were a billboard lighting up the night in Times Square" [p. 134], it's easy to imagine how much she appreciates her lover.

Full Service Station made me laugh out loud when the main character was so horny she thought, "The waitress in the diner, a friendly gem of a woman about one year older than God, made my pulse trip. Hell, even inanimate objects such as trees and fireplugs were beginning to appeal" [p. 14]. The scene became funnier as it went on but you'll have to read the book to see what I mean. This is a mere sampling of Radclyffe's humor sprinkled throughout the text.

Runway Blues was great! Who hasn't fantasized about meeting a stranger at an airport after the trials and tribulations of trying to fly somewhere on a holiday weekend? Or maybe you've been to the Red Light District in Holland as in A Woman in the Shadows, or longed for a massage as in Four Star Accommodations, or perhaps a luxurious bath as in Hart's Desire. If you've ever gone toy shopping in a sex shop, you'll love Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby. Contemplating a piercing? You have to read Pleasure Points! All of the twenty-five stories are diversified enough to keep you interested, and are sexy enough to keep you hot.

The build-up, humor, and satisfaction are evident and incredible; Radclyffe gives her readers the pay-off they long for and have come to expect. Trust me when I say that you are going to need a fan, cold shower, partner, or whatever floats your boat, to quell the fire you'll feel while reading Change of Pace: Erotic Interludes. Three of my favorite stories are the Clinical Trials Phase One: Calibrations, Phase Two: Video, and Phase Three: Assist Mode, but I highly recommend you read all of Radclyffe's Change of Pace: Erotic Interludes and choose your own favorite. I am sure you will have more than one favorite in this five star collection.

Cheri Rosenberg

Christina's Bookshelf

Common Herbs For Natural Health
Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Ash Tree Publishing 1997 (Reprint Edition)
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 USA
ISBN: 0961462094, $11.95

This book is one of the best herb books. Not only does it provide details on what herbs do and how, but gives recipes, guidance on gathering, preparing, preserving and all in an easy to follow and understand way. The author is one of the most enduring, respected herbalists of our time.

Because she has traveled to many parts of the world to teach and learn she is known as the gypsy herbalist. Juliette de Bairacli Levy loves to share her experience and knowledge of herbs.

With this book she's created a reference that readers may find life changing. Rosemary Gladstar says it did hers and tells readers how in her foreword. Gladstar claims that Levy evokes a sense of adventure and freedom that seems to evade dreams of a more natural way of living in harmony with the world.

There is an index, plant sketchings, over two hundred herbs from around the world, recipes for cosmetics, medicines, and meals.

Chapter four teaches how certain herbs and plants can be used naturally to protect other plants and trees. The information is understandable and explanations given with reasons why so that even beginners will understand.

Levy constantly helps readers throughout the book. Her advice, information, and conclusions all aid in attempting to gently teach. One can tell she is friendly, humble, sincere, and a gift to the world.

She offers multiple fascinating tips from when the best time to gather herbs is, to how to make an herbal poultice bandage.

Leaves should be picked when young. Flowers should be gathered in their first opening and before being much visited by bees and other insects.

Levy provides cautions when necessary too, like how when gathering herbs, care should be taken that they have not been sprayed with chemical poison.

As is her way, she further provides a list of a few suppliers of high quality dried herbs, tinctures, cosmetics and other useful products.

Multiple common herbs are listed in alphabetical order and talked about in the middle of this book. Each provides its common and Latin name, where it can be found (its habitat), a description of the herb itself, its use to man internally and externally, the dose, and more.

Examples of medicinal and culinary uses for herbs are plentiful, such as Fenugreek. It is found in pastures, and likes sandy soil. The nourishing, and medicinal value of this plant is in its seeds, which are very mineral rich and nourishing, and in chemical composition close to cod liver oil. Use, internal: A general tonic and stomach remedy.

To increase the body weight. To strengthen the stomach, intestines, nerves. Use, external: Fenugreek seeds make a useful poultice. The ground seed is made into a thick paste with hot milk. Spread on cotton cloth and apply directly upon swellings, abscesses, boils, carbuncles, and corns, running sores. As a throat pack, applied hot to relieve soreness. As a throat gargle, use a hot brew. Dose: A strong tea of the seed (do not strain the tea, eat the seeds also).

Herbs and plants have a lot to offer in a most natural way. It is Levy's hope people will find as much health and happiness through the studying of herbs as she and her children have. She says that the human race should make a study of herbs and not be content to remain ignorant of a medicine which is man's rightful inheritance, and which has only become lost to man through their ignorance and laziness and their departure from natural living.

Unnatural chemical medicines are seldom beneficial to the human body and often harmful, their total effects unknown. Learn to know wild medicinal plants. They are free for the taking. Nature makes the best medicine.

Anyone looking for natural and healthy ways of healing and who enjoys herbs and plants will enjoy this book. Some herbal books may sit on your shelf collecting dust, but this one won't. Readers will find it a reference used often and will want to keep it available and easy to reach.

Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal)
Susan S. Weed
Ash Tree Publishing
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 USA
ISBN: 0961462027, $12.95

This creative herbal healing guide will teach herbalists of all levels. Susan Weed gently offers information about three traditional ways of healing along with insightful aspects of each. She goes on to explain that the Wise Woman Traditions are nourishing and simple, easy approach to healing.

Later, in the book, Weed shares her knowledge of alternative healing with seven common, abundant herbs. She teaches in an entertaining way the nutrients contained in each, the effect they have on the body, and a variety of ways to prepare and use them. Weed offers her knowledge in such a fashion that the reader suddenly realizes they are refreshed. It's almost as if they just visited an earthy scented forest or a butterfly filled, grass-waving field.

To add further to the good feelings this guide presents Toni Bernhard sprinkles charming illustrations throughout the book and Alan McKnight a watercolor book-cover along with delightful calligraphic plant names.

Contents (because it's nice to know what a book contains)

PART 1: Traditions of Healing
- WISE WOMAN ways nourish spiraling transformations
- HEROIC ways cleanse the spirit's dirty temple
- SPIRALS OF TRANSFORMATION put it all in perspective
- Chart of the Healing Traditions
- Medicine Wheel of the Wise Woman Tradition

PART 2: Green Allies and Deep Roots
- BURDOCK: Get down!
- CHICKWEED: The Little Star Lady
- DANDELION: Doctor Dent-de-leon, sil vous plait
- NETTLE: Pay attention
- OATSTRAW: Secret Sexy Goddess Reveals All
- VIOLET: Sweet (Shy) Aunt Vi

Herbal Pharmacy
Recipe Index

Susan Weed follows through with her belief that healing comes first by nourishment. She feeds reader's souls with the way she writes. One cannot help but relax and have fun reading and using this book.

Christina Francine Whitcher

Christy's Bookshelf

On the Road with the Old Gals
Feather Schwartz Foster
Epstein Publishing
ESBN: 80339-050609-230438-00, $4.99, 55 page e-book

Feather Schwartz Foster incorporates her 35 years of experience in advertising and public relations into her ventures in lecturing about her first book, LADIES: A CONJECTURE OF PERSONALITIES. Thank goodness she has chosen to share her experience and lessons learned with others.

ON THE ROAD WITH THE OLD GALS is packed with information for the novice as well as the experienced author and/or speaker. Although this easy-to-read book deals mostly with lecturing, it can readily be related to book signings and other author events. Ms. Foster discusses everything from targeting and locating your audience to materials needed. She provides helpful hints concerning recording keeping, publicity, fees, and collecting money from book sales. No question is left unanswered and every topic imaginable related to speaking events is covered.

I highly recommend this book to all authors and others who may be interested in or are engaged in speaking before an audience. Informative, edifying, and easy to follow, this is one book that should be kept nearby for easy access and reference.

Final Wishes
Dana A. Matthews
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413762093, $19.95, 199 pages

In this sequel to SURVIVING PIECES, state investigator Tiffany Potter and actress Jasmine O'Reilly, having acknowledged they are reincarnated twin souls, are becoming comfortable with their relationship and growing closer to one another. Each holds the other in awe, somewhat astonished by the telepathic communications they share and synchronous emotions. Tiffany has recovered from her injuries and is ready to return to work but devastated to learn that her former partner may be responsible for having her shot at the command of Thomas Farlan, son of drug lord Michael Farlan. Michael Farlan has fallen ill with cancer and Thomas has stepped into his shoes. When Thomas learns that Tiffany did not die from her injuries, he seeks to have her terminated by one of her own team members. Tiffany and Jasmine lead the reader on an exciting adventure as they face danger together, guided by the ghost of Theresa Silverfish, Thomas Farlan's ex-girlfriend.

Author Dana Matthews once more provides a spellbinding thriller, with plenty of twists and turns intertwined with a fascinating peek into the mystical world of ghosts and reincarnated souls. The story moves at a fast pace, laden with breathtaking suspense and galvanizing action. With an interesting plot and masterful characterization, FINAL WISHES is one book that will linger in the mind a long while after the read is finished.

Body Double
Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books/Random House Publishing Group
New York, NY
ISBN 0345458931, $24.95, 339 pages

Pathologist Maura Isles returns from a visit to Paris to find the dead body of a woman outside her house, surrounded by police, crime scene technicians, and neighbors - all who have assumed the dead woman is Maura. Adopted at infancy, Maura learns the dead woman is her identical twin sister. In her search to find out more about her own biological family, as well as who killed her sister, Maura finds herself heading down a path filled with death and into the midst of an adoption ring involving dead pregnant women. Detective Jane Rizzoli plays second fiddle to Maura, but, as always, she is one of the best characters in the book. Rizzoli is pregnant in this book - close to term - but that does not deter her from her fierce determination to be the best cop on the force, even though she is horrified by the circumstances surrounding her investigation.

I find this to be an excellent series and cannot get enough of Maura or Jane, two strong, independent women. This is a fantastic thriller, filled with suspense, with twists and turns at every corner. Highly recommended.

Christy Tillery French

Debra's Bookshelf

I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason
Susan Kandel
Avon Books
ISBN: 0060581069, $6.99, 292 pages

With five previous books under her belt, Cece Caruso, the protagonist of Susan Kandel's I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason, is stalled on her sixth, a biography of Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner is best known as the creator of Perry Mason: he penned more than eighty novels featuring the man Raymond Burr would immortalize for a television audience. But Gardner was also an attorney himself, and he made a point in his career of investigating cases in which he believed an innocent party had been wrongly convicted. He received a great deal of mail, in consequence, from convicts hoping to lure Gardner into taking on their cases. His involvement in these nearly lost causes provides Kandel with the hook for her story, as Cece, while poring through Gardner's correspondence, stumbles upon one of the letters that did not manage to pique the attorney's interest. A certain Joseph Albacco Jr. wrote Gardner in 1958, in Kandel's story, shortly after he was convicted for killing his wife on their first anniversary. Perry Mason's alter-ego may not have taken on the Albacco case, but Cece is struck by the convicted murderer's tone in his letter--humble rather than hostile. She hopes to combat her writer's block by walking in Gardner's shoes for a while and looking into the case. Cece visits Albacco, still moldering in prison forty-odd years hence, and takes upon herself the responsibility of righting an old wrong. Unfortunately for her, as old as Albacco's case may be, there are still people eager to see that the true story of his wife's murder remains safely buried.

This first installment in Susan Kandel's series of Cece Caruso mysteries is very appealing. It is a stroke of genius to give her amateur detective the day job of writing the biographies of mystery writers: it allows Kandel, as here, to punctuate her novel with information about the subject of Cece's current writing project. (Next up in the series is Not a Girl Detective, in which Cece takes on Nancy Drew.) The writing is good ("I was going for sexy and tousled and vowed not to look in the mirror until bedtime for fear of encountering evidence to the contrary."); the mystery absorbing. Less appealing were Kandel's secondary characters--Cece's daughter and son-in-law; her friend Lael, who lives in apparent chaos with a great many children from a great many fathers; the proprietor of a vintage clothing store Cece frequents: not poorly written, but not interesting or likeable enough to jump off the page. Cece's interest in the designer clothing with which she decks herself also left me cold--though readers will find her obsession with Oscar de la Renta silk saris and the like interesting or not depending on their own proclivities. That said, the quality of writing, the clever plotting, and most especially Kandel's brilliant channeling of Erle Stanley Gardner for this initial offering in the series makes for a winning combination. I look forward to more of Cece's romps through genre fiction.

Close Case
Alafair Burke
Henry Holt
ISBN: 0805077847, $22.00, 351 pages

Samantha Kincaid, a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, catches a high profile case on the morning of her 32nd birthday, the murder of hot-shot reporter Percy Crenshaw, who was bludgeoned to death during the night in his carport. The apparent solution of the case comes quickly: circumstantial evidence puts two drugged-up teenagers at the scene of the crime. When one of them confesses to the murder, the case seems open and shut. But unfortunately for the D.A.'s office, the methods that were used to extract the suspect's confession may not stand up to scrutiny. And unfortunately for Kincaid, the hot-headed officer whom she must confront over his interrogation techniques is her live-in boyfriend's partner on the force. With Samantha's relationships with the police department and her own personal liaison with it souring over the Crenshaw case, she is put in the even less enviable position of shepherding the racially-charged case of an officer-involved shooting through a grand jury hearing. Sam's relationship with her policeman boyfriend may not survive these twin, work-related assaults.

This third installment in author Alafair Burke's Samantha Kincaid series is a sort of "D.A. procedural"--imagine a Law and Order episode with a bit more Law than Order. I did not come away from the book caring deeply about any of the characters, and the writing is unremarkable (by which I do not mean "bad," just transparent), but the story is intriguing. What is particularly good about the book is the author's careful explanation of the case and its complications (perhaps not surprising since the author is herself a former deputy D.A.). We are given an insider's view of a prosecutor's response to a case--the evidence, its handling by the police, the testimony of witnesses, the affect on the case of the personalities involved. The reader comes to appreciate the complications that Samantha faces in seeing the Crenshaw case through, not least of which are the personal problems that arise because her interests as a prosecuting attorney differ from those of the man she lives with. Close Case starts slowly, and what tension there is does not keep one glued to one's seat. But it builds into an intellectually interesting read. I, for one, was left wanting to read more.

Small Town Odds
Jason Headley
Chronicle Books
ISBN: 0811845362, $23.95, 341 pages

Twenty-four-year-old Eric Mercer is a good guy, but he copes with the disappointments of a life that hasn't quite gone according to plan by drinking too much. Weekdays find him working two jobs--assisting alternately at a bar and a funeral home--and sharing in the task of raising his five-year-old daughter, who lives full-time with her mother. Weekends he is more often than not drunk and belligerent to the point of exciting police attention. Jason Headley's debut novel follows Eric's life in the present, a chapter a day, through one unusually eventful week, from a Sunday morning hangover endured in the local jail to the following Saturday, when everything--and nothing--has changed. The seven chapters devoted to Eric's present are interspersed with chapters detailing slices from his past: his liberation of a Playboy Magazine from someone's stolen stash when he was twelve; the big game against his town's arch-rivals that Eric won more or less single-handedly during his senior year; the birth of his daughter. Gradually the pieces of Eric's life, related out of sequence, recombine to explain the mystery of his character: how a top student, a hero on the gridiron, a man whose innate goodness is plain to see--despite the darker side that reveals itself when he drinks--how such a man came only seven years after his high school triumphs to be squandering his life in a kind of hopeless holding pattern.

Jason Headley's Small Town Odds is an elegant, gorgeously written novel. And it is well plotted, the various elements of Eric's quiet drama lining up as they are meant to and leading inevitably to the book's denouement, but not in such a way that one notices mid-read what the author is doing. Only afterward does one appreciate the story's structure, how a funeral and a football game and the baggage of Eric's past lead finally to resolution. Like Richard Russo, the Pulitzer-winning author of Empire Falls with whom he has been compared, Headley offers readers a charming exploration of life in small-town America, where the cast of characters tends to remain unchanged, and people bump into one another's lives at various points, passing time together and sharing histories and resentments: the sort of aging that makes for complex relationships. And like Richard Russo, Headley is able to create from these elements some very fine fiction indeed.

Cover the Butter
Carrie Kabak
ISBN: 0525948767, $23.95, 352 pages

The last straw for Kate Fenshaw isn't so much the disgusting residue from her son's party that greeted her return home after a weekend away--the congealed egg on the wall in the kitchen, the pool of some stranger's urine by the back door--but rather her husband Rodney's reaction to the mess, to what she'd had to do to make things right: sheer indifference. TV on, Rodney barely listens to her complaints, and something inside Kate snaps. It was a long time coming, we learn, as Kate falls later into an alcohol-washed sleep, and we fall with her out of the book's prologue and into Kate's past. We land thirty years later in 1965 and watch Kate's sometimes heart-rending struggles to assert her independence from her sharp-tongued mother Biddy, a woman who doles out her love so stintingly that Kate remains hungry for more of it for the rest of her life. For the next thirty years Kate never really manages to shake off her mother's dampening influence. Her life follows the usual arc: college and marriage, friendships and motherhood. She is by no means miserable, but true happiness is precluded by her relationships with her mother and her spouse: she is smothered by the former's expectations, and virtually ignored by the extraordinarily egocentric Rodney.

Cover the Butter--the title, at least in its literal sense, refers to her parents' post-prandial habit of doing just that--is a nicely written, often moving story. While its subject matter is on the heavy side--mothers can crush their young, and men can be bastards--the book is not a depressing read. Its writing is lively and light, and Kate's soul is never in fact extinguished by the innumerable injustices and small abuses she is made to bear. The book, however, is over-long. Some 30-50 pages could probably have been cut without it losing its impact, and a tighter story would have made a more gripping read. Even at its current length, however, the book comes recommended: the author tells Kate's story well, and it's a tale that a lot of women will probably recognize as an exaggerated version of their own lives.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

The Life and Legacy of Mary Mcleod Bethune
Nancy Ann Zrmyi Long
The Florida Historical Society Press
435 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa, Florida 32935 321-690-0099
ISBN: 188610414X, $12.95

Long has done a first class job of telling the story of how Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida was founded and how Mary McLeod Bethune was the driving force behind this major black institution in the country. Bethune's life story is an inspiration because she overcame so much to accomplish the remarkable things she did.

Baby Step thru Computer Security & Preventive Maintenance for Seniors
Char Wood the Computer Granny
2028 Pine Tree Drive, Edgewater Fl 32141 386-424-6768
ISBN: 0971961344, $19.95

In this fourth installment of the "Computer Granny" series, the author now shows seniors how to protect themselves from major problems. She again writes simply and explains identity theft, e-mail scams, viruses, are some of the things she deals with this time. Unlike many computer geeks I've known who don't translate their information to me, Char Wood talks to readers in language they can understand and tells how important it is to initiate these protections. I'm sorry to say this is the last of the series of books by this author about the computer world. Hopefully she will tackle something new to help seniors.

Enabled in Words
Keith Landry, Sarah Lopez, and Yudha Pratma
ISBN: 0976656000, $19.95

This is an interesting collection that makes one think about people with disabilities in a very different way. Some of the writers are politicians who tell that government has done many things but feel it can do more to help disabled individuals. There are also stories about and by people with disabilities. The book is a learning tool to be more understanding of people with disabilities. The fascinating thing about this gathering of writings is the number of people who are very positive about living with a disability.

Mr. President
George Sullivan
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 212-343-6100
ISBN: 0439703352, $4.99

Sullivan tells many facts about every one of our presidents. The book is an easy to read fun expose that is for anyone who wants to learn more about the men who have served this nation as its leader.

The Uncensored Confessions
Nina Malkin
Point Novels
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 212-343-6100
ISBN: 043972421X, $8.99

In the press material that accompanied this book, the age group listed states 12 and up. I disagree. I feel this is not proper material for someone that young to be reading. I think the ideas are more suited to someone who is 16 and up. I'm very surprised Scholastic would even think to market titles to such a young age. There are other things I did not like about this story, among them it is very hard to keep straight which character of this rock band is telling his or her story. I found the book to be boring and unrealistic of the world of a rock band.

On the Run 2: the Fugitive Factor
Gordon Korman
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 212-343-6100
ISBN: 0439651379, $4.99

Escapees, Aidan and Meg Falconer head to Boston to locate evidence to prove their parents' innocence. They are on a mission to find out what really happened to their parents, as they are fugitives from the law. What I enjoyed was how these two teenagers are able to stay one step ahead of the law enforcement agencies that are trying to bring them in. The characters are believable while the writing is tight in a very fast paced thriller that is as good as "On the Run Book One Chasing the Falconers." I look forward to the next novel in the series.

Scholastic Kid's Almanac
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 212-343-6100
ISBN: 0439560780, $12.95

Can't find what you are looking for? Check out this wonderful new edition. Whatever you want to find is all here with easy to read descriptions, photos of famous people, to animals. This is the biggest easiest research tool for kids to use that does not cost an arm and a leg. What's also nice is you don't have to be a kid to use it

Dancing in the Dark
Mary Jane Clark
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
ISBN: 0312323158, $21.95

I've always liked suspense novels and this one is a gem. In fact, this is a great one by this author. Known for her titles that are song titles, this races along to its final shattering conclusion. They say write what you know and in this case Mary Jane Clark, who works for the news department of CBS, has once again filled the story with believable characters who work for a news network. Diane Mayfield is sent to a town in New Jersey to cover for her news network a strange case of a possible abduction. No one believes the woman who claims she is a victim. Mayfield delves into the case and becomes a target herself. This Clark novel is a winner in keeping the suspense to the very end. This is a fast paced read that is also very revealing in how the news media really works.

Skin Deep
Marianne Ruuth
Holloway House Publishing Company
8060 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90046
ISBN: 087067983X, $7.99

To my knowledge this is the first book on the subject of mixed racial couples. It reveals a lot about our society and how we are so into labels. It points out that only recently has the census has a place to put mixed race for classification. But we have far to go. For instance in the realm of market research there are only a few races represented for a person to be classified in. The author spoke to 19 people who show the frustration of classification, racism, raising children of their own. What I found most interesting is that the author talked to mostly people in the creative arts. I would love to see other volumes of other professionals who are of mixed backgrounds. This book should be used on college campuses across the country in courses that deal with race relations.

Michael D. Eisner
Warner Books Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN: 0446533696, $22.95

I have to admit I had my doubts about this book but I have to say it is a delightful excursion into the world of summer camps and how important they can be in a person's life. Eisner tells many tales of his life as a child and shows a very different side of the Disney executive we thought was only for the corporation. This is a totally very likeable persona of the man. He has an easy writing style that draws the reader in to learn more about the man and where he came from.

Girls Can Make it Happen
Rick Kupehella with Sandra Day O'Conner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Sally Ride
Illustrated by Marilyn Brown
Tristan Publishing Inc
2300 Louisiana Avenue North Suite B, Golden Valley MN 35427 1-886-545-1383
ISBN: 0972650431, $16.96

This kid's book is a positive role model for all young girls to read and begin to believe they can be whatever they want to be. The author used Sandra Day O'Conner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Sally Ride as young girls to show that if you dream it, you can do it.

Gary Roen

Gorden's Bookshelf

Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies
Jared Diamond
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
ISBN: 0393317552, $16.95, 440 pages

This is the first history book that I have read that takes the world environment and integrates it into human history. Diamond uses concepts, known in physics as complex systems and in math as chaos, to build a logical reasoning behind the development of societies in the world. 'Guns' is a great first attempt in this difficult process. A little more knowledge of complex systems on Diamond's part would help with the weaknesses in his history. Feedback is a stronger force than he envisions, the exceptions are more open, and tracing back through history is more open to multiple minor starting factors. Despite the weaknesses, this is a major historical analysis with important truths about history.

'Guns, Germs, and Steel 'starts with the developing of farming from hunter gatherers and traces how this influences societies and the environment itself. 'Guns' shows how food production developed into technological change, centralized government, writing, human diseases and finally the migrations of societies across the world. The logic is solid. The proof is anecdotal. But the logic in 'Guns' forces the historian to reject most previous theories and look closely at the world/human environment as a whole. The pattern of historical change is as important as the change itself.

'Guns, Germs, and Steel' is highly recommended for the reader of history. It is a powerful and more accurate way to look at human history. It doesn't tell the reader everything but it does tell more than the facts and dates you find in your standard history book. It is a must read.

Shadows in Zamboula & Other Tales of Conan
Robert E. Howard
Renaissance E Books
P.O. Box 1432, Northampton, MA 01060
ISBN: 1588735788, $4.99, 77 pages

Disclosure: I have 7 books published through Renaissance

We all think we know the classic stories. Buck Rogers, Zorro, Tarzan and Conan have been re-told so frequently and changed over time that the original strength and depth of character has been forgotten. Robert E. Howard's Conan is an intelligent, amoral, barbarian, adventurer. He is more complete and interesting than the modern Conan of the movies. There is a slight streak of nobility in Conan but it is hidden under the thieving adventurer traveling through an ancient fantasy world. This collection of four tales brings out Howard's real Conan.

In 'Shadows in Zamboula', Conan is a penniless thief/adventurer who is setup for death. He turns the tables and ruthlessly extracts revenge.

'Beyond the Black River' is a mercenary tale of civilization battling and losing against barbarians and tribal magic. Conan is a soldier hired to protect the frontier. The true hero in the tale is a youth, Balthus, who learns to become a soldier from Conan. But the bloody victors are the surviving barbarians.

In 'The Jewels of Gwahlur,' Conan is a thief betraying his employers and fighting monsters.

'Red Nails' is a tale filled with magic and mythical creatures. It tells of people totally corrupted by magic and revenge. The tale introduces Valeria, a female pirate, who nearly matches the lethal force of Conan.

These tales are highly recommended. It is impossible to appreciate the power of Conan without reading the originals. It would be a shame if all you knew about this great character is the pale imitation known today.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Gypsi's Bookshelf

Bloodsucking Fiends
Christopher Moore
Avon Books, Inc.
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0380728133, $12.95, 304 pages

Twenty-six year old red-headed Jodi wasn't always a vampire, you know. One night, she gets mugged - or at least that's what it seems like is happening - but the mugger does something totally odd. He bites her neck, shoves thousands of dollars into her shirt and pulls a dumpster over her. When she awakens, she makes the unsettling discovery that she has become a bloodsucking fiend.

Being a vampire isn't all glamour and bloodsucking, of course; there's a disappointing practical side to it as well. When you'll fry in the sunlight, how in the world can you get simple things done, like rent a new apartment, get your car out of the impound and quit your job. Jodi finds the perfect accomplice in Tommy, who is fresh from Indiana, quite young, and full of big ideas of how to make it in San Francisco. Tommy and Jodi naturally fall in love and settle into a settled pattern of vampire and minion.

The story doesn't end there, though. Oh no; I mean how could it - this is a Christopher Moore novel, after all! Several murders, another evil vampire, Tommy's co-workers, a couple of snapping turtles, the use of a deep freezer, along with the Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, play crucial parts as Tommy and Jodi find that, yes, life CAN get even more difficult, yes things CAN get worse. As usual, Moore takes all the bizarre loose ends, ties them up in a breathtaking package and presents the reader with another amazing novel. Both my husband and I resent the years it took us to find Moore and eagerly await another novel, while highly recommending Bloodsucking Fiends. And don't let the fact that I gave it only four stars turn you off. . . I just happen to disagree with the author on the proper ending, that's all. . . and once YOU read it, email me so we can discuss it!

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling
Arthur A. Levine Books
an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
ISBN: 0439784549, $29.99, 652 pages

In Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, we find the world a darker place. Voldemort's power is growing and his Death Eaters are attacking not only the magic community, but the Muggle world as well. Hermione reads the paper every day looking for the answer to Ron's also daily question, "Anybody we know?".

Dumbledore takes Harry aside for special "lessons" and together they delve into memories in search of Voldemort's past, in search of any little clue that would help defeat him. Otherwise, things go much the same at Hogwarts as always. . . new teachers, misunderstandings between friends, homework, crushes, Quidditch, and deadly peril.

Rowling's latest is another exceptionally good work from the first page to the last. I'll not give any spoilers, but will only say that the final chapters were so intense and emotional that I've thought of little else since I finished reading it two days ago! Much of it is open to debate, hopeful re-interpretation and speculation-and I expect we'll see a lot of it as we wait for the final installment. Rowling will have a lot to answer in the book seven, as the Half Blood Prince asked more questions than it answered and ended with many loose ends to be tied. In the meantime, this book 1s well worth at least one more read for it's funny lines, awesome adventure and exceptional writing. My admiration for its author deepens, as does my love and concern for its characters.

Gypsi Phillips Bates

Harwood's Bookshelf

Abracadabra: Secret Methods Magicians & Others Use to Deceive Their Audience
Nathaniel Schiffman
ISBN: 1591022487, $18.00, 441 pp.

reprinted from American Rationalist, July/August 2005.

Abracadabra is devoted to demonstrating that magic, defined as simulating the impossible by methods of deception known only to magicians, is not confined to entertainers.

"We can turn on the TV and find plenty of magic shows. But the magicians don't wear tuxedos and manipulate props, and they don't call themselves magicians or even mentalists. They call themselves psychics and claim to be predicting the future or speaking with the dead by utilizing cold reading' techniques - educated guessing - to bring magic to a much wider audience than ever before. However, these magicians don't present their shows as stage magic but as reality." (p. 7)

As an example of a magician posing as a psychic, Schiffman cites mental magician Kreskin. "The Amazing Kreskin, who professes to be a psychic, has the appearance and agility of a bumbling numbskull nerd. But that only goes toward clarifying for certain gullible people that he is the real deal. Get with it, oh ye of little skepticism: his bumbling is all part of his act." (p. 237) In other words, Kreskin cultivates the fa‡ade that he is not a professional actor, because the marks are more likely to believe he is a psychic if he lacks the stage presence of a polished performer. "Kreskin has built a quandary performing under the pretense of being a psychic (who claims no psychic powers). This, folks, is called underselling. Like much of good magic, you don't tell the audience what you want them to believe. You display your little trick, then let them make of it what they will. Their minds fill in the gaps, and if the gaps happen to say, Oh yes, psychic forces are involved!' then who are you to argue?" (p. 320)

"Unfortunately, a large portion of the general public is so unskilled in the dividing line between science and magic that it is possible for many viewers to plausibly believe that the psychics have supernatural powers." (p. 7) Television consistently presents magic - deception - as reality. The claim of the fantasy series Medium to be based on true events is only the latest example. And the reason for the deception is the bottom line, for, "it is in the best interest of corporations to have as many consumers believe as many different crackpot ideologies as possible, for each ideology produces new ideas for revenue streams." (p. 8) And because the only source of information for the semi-literate masses is the prostitute media, it follows that, "If magicians are so good at fooling us during a show when we expect to be fooled, how much more effective magic and illusions could be when used to influence us outside of the theater, in real life, in the real world." (p. 303)

In the process of pointing out that victims of deception have little experience in logical thinking, Schiffman cites the still widespread myth, "The hand is quicker than the eye." The absurdity of such a myth becomes evident when persons who express the belief that a magician can perform a manipulation faster than the eye can follow, nonetheless are not fooled for a moment when a prankster asks, "Do you want to see the fastest draw in the west?" and a few seconds later, without having moved a muscle, asks, "Do you want to see it again?" Yet, "Magicians, including the TV psychics, use mostly the same tricks and techniques that magicians have been using for millennia, and audiences are still fooled." (p. 10)

This might be a good point at which to insert a couple of anecdotes not taken from Schiffman's book, but which support his position. When a mentalist billed as Argus the Boy Wonder was performing at Melbourne's Tivoli Theatre in the 1940s, identifying and describing articles that members of the audience handed to his father, who conveyed the information through a verbal code, the theatre manager suggested that, while the Boy Wonder was sufficiently polished, his father should be dropped from the act because, "one of the usherettes can do that." And when a ventriloquist was rehearsing for the Ed Sullivan Show, Ed or one of his honchos informed the vent, "You're coming through okay, but could you hold the dummy closer to the microphone?" My point, echoing one that Schiffman makes in many places, is that, if persons in professional show business cannot distinguish between magic and reality, what chance does Jose McDoakes have?

Abracadabra is a survey course in the principles of deception: Magic 101. And the first principle is misdirection. While the "how" of specific effects is explained, it is usually in the form of a specific application of a general principle. While Schiffman is not averse to using the word trick to describe a magical effect, he also draws attention to the negative connotations of that word: "Magicians create illusions - hookers do tricks." (p. 215) He justifies exposing the "secrets" of magical entertainment in a book that only readers with some interest in magic will ever read, but has harsh words for performers who expose the methodology of illusions to anyone who happens to be watching a sensationalized television program.

While generally denouncing the use of stooges to create an illusion, Schiffman also cites situations where at least a segment of the magical community sees such rule breaking as justified. For example, when David Copperfield made an airplane disappear, he had two choices: either let the alleged volunteers who formed an unbroken chain around the plane in on the secret, and recruit them to cooperate by moving aside while the plane was being wheeled away, or not do the illusion at all. Given the spectacular nature of the end result, few would argue that this kind of stooging can never be justified.

However, Schiffman also expresses the view, "Many magicians break that bond [of legitimacy], presenting themselves as a hypnotist but doing psychic stuff as well. They often conduct hypnotism in a scientific way, and stress the truthfulness of it, and the reality of hypnotism. But they then go ahead and simply lie by performing psychic' acts." That passage is subject to mutually exclusive interpretations. Is Schiffman saying that when a magician passes himself off as a hypnotist, presenting unscripted playacting as science, he is crossing the line? Or is he expressing the belief that hypnotism is any more genuine than psychic acts? If so, has he never seen a stage hypnotist? For if he had, he surely could not have mistaken such improvisations by eager amateurs for something even remotely scientific.

Perhaps because I came to Abracadabra with unrealistic expectations, I find it disappointingly trivial. In my view, its biggest weakness is what someone else might well see as its greatest strength: It is written for teachables. But to be teachable, one must already have the ability to look at a questionable proposition critically. The persons most in need of information about how they are being deceived on a daily basis by what are essentially the principles of magic are unteachable. Before they can benefit from this book, they need a primer on Gullibility 101. While such primers, by James Randi, Martin Gardner (both cited in Schiffman's bibliography), and others are available, the unteachables are no more likely to read them than to read Abracadabra. Over all, this book's greatest value is not for persons to whom information about the offstage use of the techniques of magic is new, but for persons interested in the techniques of magic for their own sake: magicians, future magicians (especially), and magic buffs.

Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication
Herman H. Spitz
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers
10 Industrial Avenue, Mahwah, NJ 07430-2262
ISBN: 0805825630, $24.95, 214 pp.

Facilitated communication is a form of bodily ventriloquism in which a "facilitator," supposedly merely supporting the wrist of an autistic or severely retarded patient, uses the patient's fingers to type a message that is passed off as authored by the patient. In fact the message, most commonly an accusation of sexual molestation against innocent caregivers, emanates from the mind of the facilitator, a self-deluded and as often as not emotionally disturbed crank who cannot be made to realize that FC is a fraud.

FC largely disappeared from the news media after it was exposed as self-delusion on such documentary TV programs as Nightline and Sixty Minutes, and the NBC fictional series, Law and Order. In a recreation of the definitive debunking of the delusion, Law and Order showed a facilitator being instructed to have her patient describe a photo that she was shown. When the facilitator asked to be shown the photo, the prosecutor declined, and demanded that the facilitator turn and face the rear while the photo was shown to the patient. When the facilitator, a True Believer, took hold of the patient's wrist, the message typed read, "a flower," even though the photo had not been a flower. And in the real cases on which the episode was based, the patient had been shown one photo, while the facilitator was shown what she believed was the same photo but was in fact quite different. In all such experiments, the typed message described the photo or object shown to the facilitator, not the one shown to the patient.

In the expectation of confirming that the facilitated communication delusion is as dead as the cold fusion delusion, I used Google to find the latest information on the subject. I was appalled and repulsed to learn that pushers of this outrageous fraud are continuing to practise facilitated communication in state-supported institutions, and continuing to validate false sexual abuse allegations that originate in the minds of the facilitators. As Herman Spitz summarizes in Nonconscious Movements, "Facilitated communication is not easily expunged; indeed, it continues to spread like a virus run rampant. The antidote is knowledge and we have a rich stock of evidence and a storehouse of knowledge. Because proponents of facilitated communication do not know or choose to ignore this enlightening history, facilitated communication now takes its place alongside the witch trials, magic cures, animal magnetism, an other such phenomena in the long struggle of our species to emerge from the grip of irrationality" (p. 175). Sadly, that negative conclusion is as true in 2005 as when Herman Spitz wrote it in 1997.

Spitz spells out in detail the evidence falsifying facilitated communication, showing that it is the result of the same kind of involuntary muscle movements that led to belief in dowsing, ouija boards, Clever Hans (an allegedly mathematical horse), pendulum swinging, and some other phenomena such as automatic writing that strike me as better explained as conscious humbuggery. He quotes (p. 13) the findings of researchers Botash et al, who wrote that, "The fact that [some] allegations of abuse rendered via FC were ultimately corroborated by physical evidence and/or confessions does not necessarily validate the technique of FC since the initial allegation may still have emanated from the facilitators. If any of the facilitators were adult survivors of abuse, it is possible that they may not have been as objective as nonabused facilitators."

He reports that, "The weight of evidence is that sexual abuse of developmentally disabled people, primarily children, is widespread. This being the case it follows that at least some of the charges made by facilitators via facilitated communication must by chance be true" (p. 17, emphasis in Spitz). And he summarizes, "The communications contain information that only the facilitators know because the facilitators themselves are, without awareness, directing the typing. Naturally the facilitators deny this, just as those who questioned Clever Hans and Lady [another talking horse] denied their roles in the horses' responses" (p. 45).

Spitz demonstrates that, "There are similarities between the false memory syndrome and facilitated communication. The same wish-fulfilling mechanisms that drive believers in facilitated communication find fertile ground in the expectancy fulfillment of therapists who believe in the ubiquity of repressed memories of abuse and therefore induce memories,' usually unwittingly" (p. 149). But while Spritz recognizes that most recovered memories are false memories, he suggests that some recovered memories may be legitimate. They are not. Even when self-styled therapists elicit sexual abuse allegations that are independently corroborated, the patient's tale is still a false memory, in the sense that it is a memory put into his mind by the therapist, not a memory of any true event, no matter how similar it may be to a true event.

Spitz does not get everything right. On rare occasions he endorses the reality of delusions every bit as fraudulent as facilitated communication. He debunks multiple personality, but offers explanations for the rare situation in which multiple personality disorder is not conscious playacting (p. 131 ff). Newsflash: Multiple personality is always conscious playacting. He is far too charitable to Joseph Rhine, a gullible twit who validated the existence of ESP in a horse. He endorses the reality of hypnotism, a new name for animal magnetism but just as nonexistent. But the fact that a more comprehensive debunking of facilitated communication has not been published since Spitz's book, despite the survival and even expansion of the hoax, is a good indication that Spitz was so thorough that there is really nothing more to say. Surviving pushers are unteachable. End of discussion.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Confluences - Postcolonialism, African American Literary Studies, and the Black Atlantic
John Cullen Gruesser
U. of Georgia Press
330 Research Dr. Athens, GA 30602-4901;
ISBN: 0820326038, $37.95, 177+xi pp.

The "Black Atlantic" referred to in the subtitle is Paul Gilroy's "pathbreaking book...engaging with philosophical, sociological, historical, political, as well as literary issues." The author Gruesser himself takes this approach to the interrelationships--the confluences--among postcolonial writings, African American literary works, and influences and literature in Africa and the Caribbean and their presence in other, mostly white, cultures. The term "black Atlantic" was used originally in the field of black art. Gruesser notes especially Gilroy's interest in "routes" more so than "roots." Gruesser--professor of English at New Jersey's Kean University--develops a panoramic comprehension of the different literary areas; which are typically studied in the light of different theories. But this author is interested in the experiences, sensibilities, and cultural and historical grounds drawing the different literature together. Writings by Salman Rushdie, Naipaul, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker are among those assayed. Gruesser explores the bonds among this diverse group.

Anthracite Lads - A True Story of the Fabled Molly Maguires
William H. Burke
Erie County Historical Society
419 State St., Erie, PA 16501-1106
ISBN: 1883658470, $18.99, 264+vi pp.

Reexamining contemporaneous documents, studying ones which have come to light later, and talking to surviving individuals, author-lawyer Burke puts together a strong argument that the Molly Maguires acquired their notorious reputation as an anarchic, murderous gang as a result of underhanded scheming by individuals associated with the Pinkerton detective agency, including its legendary founder Allan Pinkerton who gained fame in the Civil War. Burke uncovers and analyzes documents which call into question statements and testimony given by such persons that at the time were used to convict and execute by hanging twenty local Irishmen. Burke, an Irishman from the Pennsylvania region where the violent labor strife of the latter 1800s occurred with ancestors who were miners, writes an absorbing account that will alter any reader's perspective on this historical episode of an early U.S. labor conflict involving the different players of the Irish laborers, mine owners, local residents, and government agencies. He tells his story rooted in his methodical research in a mostly novelistic style bringing central characters to life and attributing actions and quotes recorded in documents of inferred from them.

The Lyceum and Public Culture in the Nineteenth-Century United States
Angela G. Ray
Michigan State U. Press
1405 S. Harrison Rd. - Suite 25, Manly Miles, East Lansing, MI 48823
ISBN: 087013745X, $79.95, 371+xi pp.
ISBN: 0870137441, $24.99

The word "lyceum" is a Latin word with a Greek derivative that was a name for the god of the sun. The association with classical learning and culture and the "enlightening" the audience of lyceum events would undergo were intentional. The idea of the lyceum in America arose in the early 1800s as a means to provide common knowledge and ideas, or at least some common experiences, for the population of an America that was expanding geographically, changing demographically from large numbers of immigrants, and engaging with the early phases of industrialism and new inventions such as the steamboat. Lyceums throughout the U. S., including frontier areas, were seen by both promoters and audiences as matrixes for unity and communication for the increasingly complex democratic society. In spite of the high-mindedness and vision of their originators, it wasn't long before lyceums were holding circus-like entertainments and other events straying from their intended purposes. But lyceums drew large local audiences wherever they were held, inevitably playing a large part in forming the democratic public culture, much as the universality and eclecticism of television does today. The lyceum--the numerous ones in all parts of the country--is studied not only as representing the diversity and interests of 19th-century America, but also as a central, fundamental ground of rhetoric as "that art by which culture and community and character are constituted and transformed." Though "lyceum" is now an antique word and only traces of the idealism of its originators remain, one recognizes by Ray's historical and social study that the lyceum contributed greatly to the foundation of a unique American culture. This author is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.

Line Break - Poetry as Social Practice
James Scully
Foreword by Adrienne Rich
Curbstone Press
321 Jackson St., Willimantic, CT 06226;
ISBN: 1931896186, $14.95, 169+vii pp.

Scully says that in the eight essays he means to question the "fetishes we find ourselves wearing like ankle bracelets...that enable cultural overseers to shut us up in a kind of house arrest." Adrienne Rich remarks in her "Foreword" on this poet's "fiercely demystifying intelligence." Yes, Scully fiercely, uncompromisingly, brings his hopes for a truly, thoroughly humane world into the light. Such hopes are often preceded by trenchant, riveting critiques on writings, ideas, and states of affairs; and sometimes the hopes are bound in with these in a struggle. Such struggling especially is the sign that besides having a cogent moral sense and articulated vision, Scully is a consummate realist. He does not abandon common, inevitable life for promises, visions, or programs of a heavenly life. What he surely does bring to light is the true notion that "ankle bracelets" need not be an inevitable or permanent part of life, nor be the defining attribute of it. The essays mostly and ostensibly about poetry, writing style, expression and all its sources and destinations are in a larger sense and ultimately about larger life than most are accustomed to, and than most can even conceive of. The essays packed with serious and reflective thought, earnest with teaching and persuasion, and buoyant with inspiration and possibility demonstrate once again that the best writing on politics, culture, and individual life and its choices usually comes from accomplished poets such as Scully. Essays of Seamus Heaney are another example.

Erotic Utopia - The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin De Siecle
Olga Matich
U. of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe St. - 3rd floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059;
ISBN: 029920880X, $45.00, 340+xiv pp.

In Russia, the responses to the feelings of decadence spread throughout Europe in the fin-de-siecle period of the end of the 19th century manifest "utopian, millennial hopes to an extent unknown in Europe." Unconventional, exotic, feverishly imaginative sexual ideas and practices were the locus of such hopes. At the heart of these were emotions and ideas about the desirability and potency of abstinence. However, this was not chastity in the religious sense, but rather a suppressed eroticism which reflected both the sense of futility relating to an apocalyptic outlook and also the anomalous hope of spiritual regeneration and transformation. Matich--professor of Russian literature and culture at the U. of California, Berkeley--lays out the varied symbols, literature, and practices of this peculiar Russian turn relating to perceived decadence in the latter 19th-century political and social disruptions and concomitant anxieties in Russia and parts of Europe. The Russian writers Tolstoy and Alexander Blok and the philosopher Dmitri Merezhovsky and the woman Zinaida Grippius with whom he had a relationship are among those critiqued for bases and variations of this Russian blending of eroticism, spirituality, vision, and politics. Matich has a solid hand on this heretofore obscure vein of Russian fin-de-siecle culture ordinarily dominated by radical political philosophers, social anarchists, and the writer Dostoevsky. The author brings cogency and breadth, and thus allure and longevity, to the subject.

The Charter School Dust-Up - Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement
Martin Carnoy, Rebecca Jacobsen, Lawrence Mishel, and Richard Rothstein
Economic Policy Institute
1660 L Street NW - Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20036;
ISBN: 0807746150, $19.95, 186 pp.

Copious, detailed statistics and related material represented in the book's many tables finds that despite the claims of charter schools' advocates and some success stories, there is no meaningful difference between charter schools and public schools. "[C]harter schools are not, and likely will not be, able to play a large role in reforming public education as a whole." The four authors are all academics in the overlapping areas of economics and education belonging to the Institute publishing this timely study that is associated with Teachers College, Columbia U. The Bush Administration's program "No Child Left Behind" is scrutinized in one chapter in light of the findings recorded here. Recommendations for more relevant standards for measuring and judging the performance of students and schools are put forth as well mostly in appendices. An up-to-date, sound, and with respect to some central education questions, definitive report for educators, administrators, and policy makers.

Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Demian Elaine Yumei
illustrated by Nicole Tamarin
Illumination Arts
13256 Northup Way - Suite 9, Bellevue, WA 98005
ISBN: 097401902X, $15.95, 32 pp.

The holistic Zen teachings of Thich Nat Hanh are behind this picture given by a young girl of everything that goes into the little yellow pear tomatoes in her family's garden. "A lot of not-a-tomato [italicized in original] things" are in them. Her mother and father are "in" the tomatoes for helping to cultivate them. Sunshine, worms, insects, and weather are also in the tomatoes because they are a part of the surrounding, ecological environment in which the tomatoes grow. Tamarin's dramatic shifts in perspective from illustration to illustration help carry this holistic message home to young readers. A farmland panorama is followed by earthworms in the ground beneath the tomato plants; in one double-page illustration, the young girl becomes smaller than a plant leaf, while in a later picture her head in shown among the planetary system.

Douglass and Melville - Anchored Together in Neighborly Style
Robert K. Wallace
Spinner Publications
164 William St., New Bedford, MA 02740
ISBN: 0932027911, $19.95, 148+xiii pp.

The subtitle is taken from Melville's short story "Benito Cereno." Although Wallace cannot verify that the two major early 19th-century American figures ever met, he abundantly demonstrates from themes and quotes from their influential writings and activities and associations of theirs that the two men were kindred spirits. A professor of Literature and Language at Northern Kentucky U. and former president of the Melville Society, Wallace found his intuition that Douglass and Melville were connected in significant ways "deepened and expanded in multiple ways" as he researched and wrote this work. No one can argue with this after reading his work with much visual matter emphasizing the ties between these two important literary and cultural figures. Stories of Melville's and essays of Douglass's deal with individuals at the bottom or margins of society, the cruelties of physical punishment, and also the characteristic perspectives and abilities of individuals treated as less than human. An accessible work for young adults and adults that with its plumbing of comparisons of the works and concerns of Melville and Douglass sheds new light not only on them, but also American society in the years leading up to the Civil War.

In Search of Wagner, new edition
Theodor Adorno
translated by Rodney Livingstone
Foreword by Slavoj Zizek
180 Varick St., New York, NY 10014-4606;
ISBN: 1844675009, $18.00, 148+xxvii pp.

The European emigre writer Adorno is a major mid 20th century author identified with the Frankfurt School of social criticism. Although this School is usually described as having a Marxist perspective, the social criticism of Adorno is not doctrinaire or propagandistic. Adorno's writings--as this current publication testifies again--have stood the test of time for their acuteness, rigor, and application of first-rate intellectual powers to subjects of the contemporary society. These qualities of Adorno's critical thinking are evident as well in his work "In Search of Wagner." In a 20-page introductory foreword, the philosopher/social critic Slavoj Zizek takes up the question "Why Is Wagner Worth Saving?" Wagner's music, ideas, and biography continue to draw the attention of thinkers in various fields because exploration of these and positions reached regarding them yield insights and assessments on power, anti-Semitism, art, psychology, and politics in the modern world. Written in the late 1930s, "In Search of Wagner" demonstrates Adorno's innovative, timely, and valuable methodology as it grapples with central questions of modern culture.

Henry Berry

Hunter's Bookshelf

If Not Stocks, What?
Gene Walden
Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121
ISBN: 0071421491, $14.95, 212 pages

Most financial experts encourage their clients to diversify to protect their portfolios in both up and down markets. Many investors, however, are confused as to their options when attempting to put that plan into action. Gene Walden, author of more than 20 investment books, makes available an easy to read and understand solution to the problem. He lists over twenty investment alternatives to stocks, and gives his readers the information needed to make choices based on their needs and temperament. Among the listed alternatives are an eclectic mix ranging from annuities to Treasury Inflation-protected Securities (TIPS) and a variety of others in between.

Walden devotes a short chapter to each of his twenty-four suggestions. For simplicity, he begins each chapter with a succinct explanation of the investment vehicle and then divides his analysis into twelve straightforward and understandable major considerations the investor must take into account before making the decision to include the instrument in his or her portfolio. These include such necessary pieces of information as who should buy the particular investment and who should not, what rate of return might be assumed, what risks are involved, what are the upside and downside potentials, how to buy the investment vehicle, and such other considerations as to concerns, timing the purchase and monitoring your investments. He also discusses any special considerations involved in the particular investment, and finally he suggests an asset allocation level for each.

Each of the considerations are presented in an uncomplicated writing style without a lot of investment mumbo-jumbo. Since every chapter follows the same pattern, it is easy to compare each alternative in an item by item manner and to decide if it should fit into your financial plan.

The final chapter is devoted to an overall discussion of asset allocation and makes general recommendations based upon the reader's own age, risk tolerance, and other factors. All in all, the book anticipates and addresses most of the questions the novice or more experienced investor might have before embarking on a complete investment plan.

Personal Finance For Busy People
Robert A. Cooke, Robert Cooke
Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121
ISBN: 0070125562, $16.95, 196 pages

This is a nicely laid out book which provides basic information on a wide variety of personal finance topics in an easy to use and understand format. Among the many topics is information on how to get more out of your current income, advice on insurance and annuities, and the benefits and pitfalls of investing in real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and treasury issues.

A helpful feature is the inclusion in every chapter of a section called "Fast Forward." This is, in reality, a quick reference summary of major points of the chapter. Busy people sometimes don't have time to read the whole thing.

Another interesting feature is the use of easy to recognize icons to call the reader's attention to areas in which there might be a question or special information. Sprinkled throughout are icons of a pensive scientist with "Expert Advice." Here there tips on such things as using credit for meeting emergencies, using 401k's and IRA's to accumulate savings, and where to find yields on government securities. Caution signs warn about possible repercussions of taking a specific course of action. Important definitions are signaled with an icon of a muscle man. Finally, and icon of two musical notes calls attention to "margin notes" on various items of interest.

This book succeeds very well in its intended purpose. It serves as a quick introduction to many important areas of personal finance without bogging down in complicated theories and charts, gives some very helpful basic advice, and serves as a handy reference book for further study.

Save Smart For A Secure Future: The Essential Guide to Achieving Your Retirement Dreams
William T. Spitz
Wiley and Sons
11 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
ISBN: 0078618416, $12.95, 184 pages

William Spitz has written a well organized easily understood guidebook on saving for retirement. Among the topics covered are a run down on the basics of retirement plans, formulas for determining how much you should be saving to meet your retirement goals, a review of investment fundamentals, an interesting look at investment risk, and how to create a portfolio and select appropriate mutual funds. Each of these topics are discussed in clear and concise language and illustrated with relevant charts and graphs. The section on risk and the section on creating an investment portfolio interested me the most.

Spitz restates the well documented correlation between investment risk and reward and attempts to put it in proper perspective for those who are in the process of saving for retirement. Briefly, he cites five factors which must be considered when evaluating investment risk. They are time, human capital, financial responsibilities, other resources, and emotional makeup. For each factor he discusses important considerations and provides some guidelines to help in understanding.

The section on creating an investment portfolio is interesting and well done. He introduces the theory of the optimization process an its use in selecting appropriate investment choices. He presents four recommended portfolios and discusses them based on risk/reward projections.

This is a nice guide to saving for retirement, especially for those nearing retirement who need to refresh their memory on some important basics of saving and investing.

Clint Hunter

Judine's Bookshelf

Just My Take: A Book of Poetry and Words of Inspiration
M.C. Lyte
Sunni Gyrl, Inc.
14431 Ventura Blvd. #120, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
ISBN: 0976742438, $9.95, 104 pp.

The spotlight of fame propels only a limited number of people. The American Idol show proves this true. While some have years of talent, a novice can rise to public icon status within a short period of time. Maybe divine order chooses those who will use the mass attention, not for self-glorification, but to uplift the spirits of those within their reach.

"Just My Take" sheds snippets of wisdom on common, every day thoughts and feelings. There's inspiration in Being Unique,' constructive advice in Misdirected Aggression,' and nothing but the truth in Letting Go.' But she begins by daring you to realize your greatness in You Are Simply:'

You are mighty. You are beautiful.
You are self-sufficient. You are tough.
You are great. You are worthy. You are amazing.
You are one of a kind and let no one tell you different.

Lana Moorer aka M.C. Lyte reaches into her heart and pens motivation pieces for those who may have given up on love, on trust or on themselves. Her book reveals the emotions, which probably inspires her lyrics. In "Just My Take" MC Lyte gives back to the community through a different art form. When the disc jockey picks another tune, her words will continue to play.

The Promise Box
Vanessa Craddock
Smart Girls Publishers
PO Box 11492, Baltimore, MD 21239
ISBN: 0976051508, $15.00, 304 pp.

Who remembers chain letters? These frightening messages, sent anonymously, scared the receiver into forwarding the note to a certain number of people, or else doom and gloom kinda like the paper version of electronic spam.

In "The Promise Box," an unknown culprit mails Bernadette Windsor a puzzling poem suggesting her demise and revealing old family secrets. Slightly afraid but more intrigued, she attempts to dig up the truth from her sisters, Beatrice and Marietta. While her body symptoms tell the signs of the past, Marietta wants to keep the facts buried. The doctor warns, "Things that happened far back can end up trickling down to you." (pg 86) Bernadette knows the box with written childhood promises has many answers, but where can it be found?

Vanessa Craddock writes with an Alfred Hitchcock flare. The reader anxiously waits to uncover the mystery until the very last pages. With the help of excellent detail, I vividly imagined the scenes. She held me in such suspense, I almost cheated by reading the last chapter before its time. "The Promise Box" could easily become a box office hit. Now pass this review on to 10 of your friends.

Judine Slaughter, Reviewer

Julian's Bookshelf

"Unveiled" Damsel Arise
Marie Broadwater
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403 888-519-5121
ISBN: 1414156656, $11.50

Like a wise old woman imparting into an impressionable child, "Unveiled" Damsel Arise moves to give spiritual and intellectual motivation through its wisdom. "Unveiled" is a book of poetry searching the joys and pain of womanhood. The title of the book looks at unveiling the mask covering the hurt, and continuing to move on. Marie A. Broadwater gives both power and inspiration through her poetry. The book is well written, moving from spiritual elements of poetry to more situational perspectives on the daily challenges of womanhood. The author uses a style that is simple, yet classy and compassionate. In the mold of Maya Angelou, many of the titles are direct statements speaking to empowering women despite their individual obstacles. The strongest point in "Unveiled" Damsel Arise is the gentle strength with which she delivers both encouragement and pride. Broadwater handles these issues expertly, educated by her personal experiences.

For women, this is a book where specific poems will impact each person differently. For men, "Unveiled" gives a voyeuristic look at the heart of a woman. There is much to enjoy within "Unveiled", from the uplifting poem "Now you can fly", discussing the relationship between a mother and her child, to prayerful works like "This Day Oh Lord".

A common problem exists in books of this nature. There simply aren't enough pages. "Unveiled" Damsel Arise is a brisk forty-four pages. It is not a book that causes the reader to question or interpret. It mainly focuses on the spirit of the reader. Since most poetry is read or recited continuously, inspired readers will discount the lack of material available.

Putting the book in its proper context, "Unveiled" Damsel Arise is a book of poetry that gains its charisma from its positive nature. It is void of abstract connotations, but in its simplicity, it offers a clear understanding of spiritual relevance to the joys and pain of womanhood.

With Every Drop of Blood from the Wound
Manuel Corleto
translated by Michael B. Miller
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512 402-323-7800
ISBN: 0595304249, $11.95, 222 pp.

With Every Drop of Blood from the Wound is the story of two protagonists, Gabriel and Willy, facing the hard reality of their adolescent failures in their adult lives. The title of the novel comes from the lyrics of a song at the end of the book that Corleto wrote to underscore the pain of lost dreams. Manuel Corleto attempts to make a point in the story: that in the end the only enduring and worthwhile value is love, the human need for each other, the need of family, of belonging, and of warmth.

Manuel Corleto bypasses any and every innuendo, choosing to meet violence and sexual exploration directly. There is elegance within the honest brutality of the book. There seems to be two stories fused together and held by the faint thread representing the characters evolution and their memories. The author looks upon his creation with both knowledge and confusion, as he questions virtue and later gives interpretation to those questions through his characters.

Set in the late 1940's and 1950's, Manuel Corleto creates a vivid urban environment in the railroads of Guatemala, and shows a particular awareness of the locale. Manuel Corleto is extremely articulate in communicating his points, and flows very well when the characters are involved in reflection. There is a difficulty in determining the importance of some of the minor characters and events. Characters are introduced and dismissed without adding much to the story. Also, the vulgarity the author possibly included to provide a verbal exclamation detracts from the pureness of the author's purpose.

The plot is a disturbingly intense puzzle, connected or disjointed dependent on the page. An indirect plan is used, which allows the reader to determine who to love or hate through the character's actions. The author was extremely detailed in his descriptions of the characters and their environments. Lesser characters were given emotional qualities rivaling the major characters. There was a sense of love and belonging evident in Gabriel and Willy, yet at times these qualities were overshadowed by their carnal flaws displayed by their contempt for the laws and rules of society.

Dramatic incidents flourish through the novel, forcing the reader to backtrack through previously read pages. Michael B. Miller does an exceptional job translating Corleto's story, clearly capturing the author's vision. The indexes and definitions were a benefit to the book's clarity. A reader could easily lose track of the characters, but once the family lineage has been recognized through the index, the pace of the story can be settled.

Overall, With Every Drop of Blood from the Wound is a well written novel by a talented writer that readers may have difficulty relating to. Manuel Corleto provides significant details to bring to reality a foreign environment and a difficult subject. The book focuses on the most violent parts of society, but the best writing comes in the form of the subtle moments of tranquility within the story.

Julian Vaughan Hampton

Lowe's Bookshelf

Walls of Westernfort
Jane Fletcher
Bold Strokes Books
314 Conestoga Road, Wayne PA 19087
ISBN: 1933110244, $15.95, 320 pages

For Natasha Ionadis, the rules of life are as clear as her reflection on the breast plate of her Temple Guard uniform. For the last few of her 22 years, her mantra has been the Guard maxim, "when in doubt, polish it." In Walls of Westernfort, this devout young woman is offered an opportunity by the Temple hierarchy to be part of a covert mission and she leaps at the chance to offer her life to her goddess, Celaeno. She is to be part of a team of three women who are to infiltrate a group of evil heretics, journey to their stronghold known as Westernfort, and assassinate their leaders.

Natasha's commanders doubt any of the women will survive their mission. Posing as a family interested in joining the heretics, the intelligence agents' journey will challenge the beliefs that Natasha has sworn herself to defend, force her to face her own internal crisis, and define the nature of loyalty and faith. Along the way, she also struggles with her definition of family, and finally, love.

Walls of Westernfort is a recent release from Jane Fletcher and part of her growing Celaeno fantasy series. Celaeno is an all-female society in a pre-industrial, pre-Enlightenment setting ruled by a strict theocracy. The idea of a female-centric, goddess-worshipping world is often symbolic of a utopian culture in lesbian-feminist founded speculative fantasy and science fiction. And a new reader to the Celaeno series might be tempted to adopt this view initially, especially as she travels with the naive and earnest Natasha on her coming-of-age quest.

However, it soon becomes apparent that not all is as it may appear in Natasha's world. The Temple authorities who oversee the worship of Celaeno, with its complex undercurrents of science cloaked in religion, will tolerate no deviance from its established policies and will stop at nothing to ensure compliance with temple law. Thus issues involving the nature of religion, particularly that of a fundamentalist view, and the dangers it can impose in politics is a primary theme of Fletcher's Celaeno world.

As a result, Walls of Westernfort, is not only a highly engaging and fast-paced adventure novel, it provides the reader with an interesting framework for examining the same questions of loyalty, faith, family and love that Natasha must face.

Refreshing in its original twists on old themes, the Walls of Westernfort is well conceived and Fletcher's characters are multifaceted and interesting. Through Natasha's eyes the reader is treated to layered discoveries of the complexities of these women. Indeed, it is through familiarity that the "evil heretics" are revealed to be intelligent, equally determined women struggling to survive within their own conscience. This humanization of the evil enemy creates increasingly difficult internal conflicts for Natasha, forcing her to think for herself rather than accept established doctrine.

It is unnecessary to have read any other Celaeno novels to follow the action and the unfolding culture. While some of the characters in Walls will be familiar to readers of other Celaeno titles, the series is not designed to be strictly chronological. Rather, it appears to be theme-based on the institutions of that world, with stories focusing on the ruling Sisters of the Temple, the Temple Guard, the Rangers, the Militia, the psychically skilled healers known as Imprinters and, perhaps most importantly, the heretics.

In Walls, we see the Temple Guard, inside and out. We learn of their strict code of discipline and life, including abstinence from alcohol and sex, and with Natasha we learn of the harsh, cruel methods the Guard employs to deal with heretics in the name of Celaeno. Natasha finds herself struggling with age-old conflicts faced by military personnel. Is it lawful to complete a mission that is morally wrong? Is it insubordination to refuse? Who gets to decide?

Related to Natasha's self-questioning is her growing attraction to Dani, one of the heretics assigned to guide the "family" to Westernfort. A potter by trade, Dani's short life is marked by scars from a great deal of loss and pain, courtesy of the Guards. And as the attraction and affection between the two women grows, it will become apparent that before Dani can allow herself the hope of loving Natasha, she will have to deal with those scars.

In Walls, Fletcher brings this chapter of Natasha's life to a satisfying conclusion. However, it is clear that many stories of Celaeno remain to be explored. This reviewer will be looking for other titles set in Celaeno and hopes that Fletcher continues with her storytelling.

Karin Kallmaker
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302 1-800-729-4992
ISBN: 1594930015, $12.95, 209 pages

"She'd read a romantic book and thought maybe someday life would be like that, but it never seemed like women in books had jobs and families and worries -- things that made it hard to look around for somebody who might be fun, might want to see if where they were headed in life was the same destination." (p79)

This passage defines a theme in Karin Kallmaker's newest romance, Sugar. Kallmaker, arguably the best-selling writer of lesbian romances, contrasts images of a "traditional romance" (if such a thing can be said to be portrayed in lesbian writing) with the realities of love as it exists in everyday life. The lead character, Sugar Sorenson, is a talented, intelligent woman in her thirties struggling to establish her own specialty bakery business in Seattle's post-Dotcom-boom. The action opens when Sugar's home is destroyed by fire and her plans for competing in a city-wide "Cook Off" contest, with its related monetary prize and boost in notoriety, are seriously threatened.

After months of no social life, Sugar suddenly finds herself under the romantic notice of not one, but three attractive, dynamic women. There is a gentle but strong social worker named "Tree," a tall, dark and handsome firefighter named "Charlie" Bronson, and the elegant and vivacious television producer named Emily. Their combined energy is almost more than Sugar can juggle after her long, self-imposed solitude, not to mention the stress of the fire. For a time, Sugar is confused because her apartment is not the only fire she is feeling. The sexual tension is palpable and Kallmaker serves readers a few deliciously hot scenes. Sugar tries to decide which woman really attracts her -- and, more importantly she realizes -- which woman's life is headed in the same direction as Sugar's.

With nowhere to go Sugar finds herself returning to her maternal grandmother's house and braces for the onslaught of judging, preaching and meddling that characterized her grandmother while she was growing up. But something has changed dramatically and Sugar discovers that she perhaps didn't know her grandmother as well as she thought. There are assorted complications and miscommunications to occur in the weeks following the fire and Sugar's life does not turn out as she'd expected.

Food and baking flow through the novel in many ways. Descriptions of complex baking projects occur through much of Sugar's day as well as the steady, comfort baking of Sugar's grandmother. Further, Sugar's world view is often cooking related with Emily's eyes being "the blue of four drops of food coloring into a quarter-cup of sugar" (p7) and a woman is "hotter than Tabasco." (p132)

Sugar is a kind of "every lesbian" and the issues she and her friends deal with are those that most of us face in our day-to-day lives. Kallmaker's Sugar does not follow the "story book romance" formula; however, she plays with its themes. Even the cover art, which is reminiscent of a 1950s "happy home maker" image, tweaks at this "ideal."

Kallmaker's writing is charming entertainment. Her wry wit and gentle humor prompt smiles and quiet chuckles, as when Sugar dresses for her first date in months to discover "Good God in heaven, how long had that enormous black hair been growing out of her chin?" (p63) Or when Sugar mentions that she'd heard Charlie and Tree had dated for a time, and is told "We did not. We met at agreed upon places and argued." (p182)

In many ways, Sugar is a return to some of Kallmaker's earlier romances, like Painted Moon or Making up for Lost Time. However, if it is a return, it is not without the maturity that her writing continues to develop. Peopled with real women who are grounded in the realities of life and willing to accept the risk of love, Kallmaker's "romance" provides readers with simple, touching moments. As Sugar reflects, "The world seemed peacefully asleep. It was just her and the moon and the scent of Emily on her fingertips." (p111) Sugar is a lovely dessert of a book made with real eggs, butter, and no doubt, chocolate. Light and fun it is, yet it's not an artificial confection. Readers of the lesbian romance genre will want to lick the spoon.

M. J. Lowe

Magdalena's Bookshelf

New Beginnings
Tsunami Relief Fund (Editor)
ISBN: 1596910542, $14.95, 256 pages

Sold in aid of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Earthquake Charities

It was impossible not to be moved by the "Boxing Day" Indian Ocean tsunami. Personal stories of parents whose children were torn away from their arms, and children whose parents were torn away from their sides will stay with those of us lucky enough to watch the tragedy on the news rather than experience it first hand. Some of the world's most famous, and respected writers have donated original, and hitherto unpublished work specifically for this collection, and features a range of genres from literary fiction, to mystery, to poetry, full length short stories and novel first chapters (in both senses of the word novel. For those who bewail the overt commercialism of the publishing industry, this book is a good antidote, as almost every aspect of the book, from the writing to the editing, designing, printing, wholesaling, distribution, publicity, and even retailing fees have been donated, and so far have produced about a half million pounds in donations. So this is a courageous and inspiring effort, but it isn't the fact that this is in aid of an excellent charity, or that it is the kind of coordinated and self-less response that should be supported which will get reader's shelling out their own money for a copy. Readers will buy this book because it contains some excellent work.

Some of the authors wrote stories specifically for the book. Margaret Atwood's three very short stories, "Tree Baby," "Something Has Happened," and "But It Could Still," are all affirmative ones which are written about the impact of the Tsunami, specifically for this collection. All of the stories read like prosaic poems, and go deeply under the skin of those affected, both indirectly, like most of the readers, and directly:

You remember this. No, you dreamed it. Your dream was of choking, and sinking down, and blankness. You woke from your nightmare and it had already happened. Everything was gone. Everything, and everyone - fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, the cousins, the tables and chairs and toys and beds - all swept away. Nothing is left of them. Nothing remains but the erased beach and the silence. "Tree Baby" (1)

Maeve Binchy's "Georgia Hall" is also a short story. Engaging and quickly read, Binchy treats us to an unchallenging but enjoyable tale of female insecurity. From there, most of the pieces in this book are the first chapters of "as yet unpublished" new novels. For writers, this is a fascinating glimpse at the creation process, and it will be interesting to compare the work here with the final work. In most instances, the first chapters presented are so compelling, that it would be a hard reader indeed who wasn't tempted to go out and buy that novel once it is released. First chapters by Tracy Chevalier, Paulo Coehlo, J M Coetzee, Nick Hornby, and Ian McEwan are standouts, and although none of these are self-contained like short stories are, and it can be frustrating to be so thoroughly taken in and then left hanging. It's a delicious frustration though, and one which will probably work well for the author when the novels are out.

Paulo Coehlo's "The Zahir" is particularly compelling, and sets up an almost Kafka like scene of a writer whose wife has disappeared, left to contemplate the meaning of freedom versus enslavement:

While I was fighting, I heard other people speaking in the name of freedom, and the more they defended this unique right, the more enslaved they seemed to their parents' wishes, to the person for the rest of their lives', to the bathroom scales, to their diet, to half-finished projects, to lovers to whom they were incapable of saying "No' or "It's over', to weekends when they were obliged to have lunch with people they didn't even like. (71)

Many of the authors chose to write about accidents; a moment of change and the impact it has on relationships, and the notion of the "self." Coetzee's "Slow Man" goes into the mind of a man whose leg is crushed and his resultant convalescence. The language is Coetzee's usual clear logic, but coupled with the pain and chaos of the accident provides a powerful look at change:

The nights are endless. He is too hot, he is too cold; the leg closed in its swaddling, itches and cannot be reached. If he holds his breath he can hear the ghostly creeping of his assaulted flesh as it tries to knit itself together again. Outside the sealed window a cricket chants to itself. When sleep comes it is sudden and brief, as if gusts of leftover anaesthetic were coming up from his lungs to overwhelm him.(84)

Similarly, Nicholas Evans' "The Divide" tracks the progression of a father and son's ski accident, from anticipation to the aftermath, using a combination of fast action and slow description to distort time as the accident changes everything for the pair:

The walls of the hole in which they sat were layered with shelves of buish white ice, which their two falls had shattered. It was like being in the cross section of some giant frosted wasp nest. The floor felt firm and when the boy brushed away the snow he saw that they were on solid ice. (104)

A few of the pieces will appeal to genre readers, such as Harlan Coben's thriller "The Innocent" which is compelling enough, but clearly genre driven or Joanna Trollop's "Second Honeymoon," which traces in a fairly predicable way, the impact of "empty nest" syndrome on a mother. Stephen King, on the other hand, makes a departure from his usual horror with a character driven piece that takes a wife's point of view as her famous writer husband is shot in "Lisey's Story." There are so many possible directions for this work that the reader is left guessing at the turns it might take and which element may take priority as the story progresses past the paces.

Not everything here will appeal to everyone. Vikram Seth's poem, "Earth and Sky" is more cute than profound, with its rhyming couplets and puns, but will appeal to those who prefer poetry with traditional forms. But most of the work is easy to read, and full of possibility which will tantalise and entice readers. All up, this is a varied and fascinating collection, with something for everyone. The clear bent is literary fiction however, and that makes this, in the main, a moving collection full of provocative and evocative work from some of the most well known and respected writers working today. This is a wonderful marketing idea, and one which makes much more sense than those little booklets that publishers are leaving in bookshops. After reading these tantelising beginnings, readers will no doubt be convinced to buy the novels that these chapters prefigure. That the money is going to a very serious and worthwhile charity is cream on the cake. Buy it for the work, and feel good in knowing that your money is going to those who are very much in need. May this project auger many more of its kind, providing a win-win for authors, publishers, and readers alike. An ongoing record of the money raised and the charities which received it can be found at

The Rose Notes
Andrea Mayes
Penguin Books Australia
ISBN 0143003178, A$22.95, 340 pp.

It is a testimony to Andrea Mayes' writing ability that her first novel, The Rose Notes, is more ambitious than it seems. The story itself is moving, and lightly written enough to appeal to fans of all types of fiction, from light romantic comedy to hearty historical fiction, but it conveys a truth deeper than the simple story of lost and found. Set in the southern Riverina district of Australia, the story follows the parallel lives of two main characters, Thomas Hearne and Pearl Kinnear. Both characters are in their early fifties, and at critical points in their lives. Thomas has fallen into a serious depression after the death of his father Henry, and Pearl is struggling with ennui and frustration as she attempts to put her life on hold while she takes care of her demanding aging father Dobie. Both mourn the early passing of their mothers from Cancer, and both struggle with their self-image in the face of their own aging, loveless future, and against the mirrors of their fathers and missing mothers. When Thomas is handed a mysterious tape from his father, he begins a quest to pass on the gift of a unique rose. As he searches for a mysterious woman, Thomas' quest takes him on a journey beyond the limits of the terrain he crosses. Similarly, Pearl also finds herself transforming, redefining herself, partly through the impact of Thomas' gift, and partly through her own menopausal transition.

Mayes' work is full of rich detail, and a clear love of the physical world of its locale, from the flora and fauna, to the inner workings of farm life. The story line moves forward in a simple progression, and is easy to follow, driven by the simple uncovering of clues and helped by its sardonic narrator who continues to remind readers that their pre-conceptions may not be correct: "Is it a rose? Or a time bomb? Tick. Tick. Tick." (242)

The narrator interjects at various points throughout the novel, laughing at the reader, at the characters, giving shade and perspective, and a sense of postmodern irony. In the hands of a lesser writer, this might have produced a cold novel, stopping the reader from engaging. Mayes handles the humour deftly however, and allows the narrator a role which works smoothly within the narration of the story, allowing for dreams, inner thoughts, and sensual imagery:

They sit, side by side on a low stone wall, pale smoke from Robert's cigarette eddying in the still air. Currawongs and a single butcher bird call from the trees behind them. Thomas is sharply aware of the ripples of dislocated time, the liquid notes of the birds, the odour of tobacco cutting through the fragrance of the roses, the feel of rough-hewn stone behind his jeans, the lumps of brown clay sticking to his boots. This moment will stay with him, caught on the keen point of a quickening excitement. (116).

The real action of The Rose Notes occurs within the characters minds, fuelled by recollection, desire, and the unfolding of potential in reaction to serendipity:

Pearl turns ideas, images, conversations, slowly in her mind, turns and turns and turns. Mamerbrook Farm, Alice's Rose BookMannie's slow and gentle smile, Henry's Pearl and Thomas Hearne, and all her beloved roses. Pity anyone who doesn't have what Pearl Kinnear has, she thinks, and knows it to be true. Breathing in deeply, she throws her arms wide in all that space, spreading her fingers, reaching and spinning and dancing into her own future, her own time, at last. (383)

Although the story is fast moving and satisfying, with all of the ends cleanly tied up, it isn't the plot which will stay with the reader once the book is finished. Instead, it is the marvellous passages within the characterisation of Dobie, Thomas, and Pearl. The Rose Notes is a novel rich in poetry and a deep understanding of the intimate connection between the human and natural world, and the subtle ways in which inheritance and beauty can create change. The two stories within The Rose Notes bisect perfectly, coming together slowly, "in their own way, in their own time," (345) without recourse to romance, or any other devices of plot. The storyline is so clear and easy to follow that the prologue and epilogue really aren't necessary, and perhaps remove that tiny hint of doubt which makes the story work so well. Nonetheless, The Rose Notes is a beautifully crafted novel, worth reading once for its fast paced, relaxing story, and again for its narrative skill and the beauty of its language.

Magdalena Ball, Reviewer

Makasha's Bookshelf

Stone's Revenge
Sylvia Hubbard
Lulu Press
3131 RDU Center, Suite 210, Morrisville, NC 27560
ISBN: 1411624491, $16.99, 360 pages

Sylvia Hubbard's Stone's Revenge makes getting back at an arch enemy more than an empty confectionary treat but a filling four course meal plus desert and an after dinner drink!

William Yared Castro-Chavez Stone is an orphaned outcast due to his grandfather and father's sick, sadistic serial killing rampages. To make matters worse, Enid, his uncle's stepdaughter, accuses him of rape and William is thrown out of the only home he has. While roaming the streets after school, he saw the most beautifully, captivating girl, Abigail McPherson, who is being tormented by her older brother and sister. Fortunately for her, the object they teased her with rolled across the street and ended up in his hands. Before he returned the ball he made Abigail make him a promise to never forget him. She complies. Several days later, fate dealt him another crappy hand: right before his eyes an injured motorist plows down Abigail and both of her siblings. Knowing Abigail's father, Ramsey, has a personal vendetta against his entire family, William leaves Abigail stuck under the car and fleas the scene and the city knowing with Abigail gone he has no reason to stay.

Several years later, Stone returns to Davenport for his mother's funeral and copycat murders, similar to the ones his father committed, begin almost as quickly as he arrives. Ramsey McPherson, certain that Stone has inherited "bad genes", sets out to prove that he is the one committing the crimes. While arguing with Ramsey, he learns that Abigail is alive and almost well, the accident caused paralysis and memory loss. With that information, he decides that the best way to get back at Ramsey is through the one thing he holds dear, his beloved daughter.

Sylvia's book is dramatically entertaining while touching on the powerful conflict of love and family. Who did it? is obvious around the middle of the novel but the mystery falls back seat to this passion filled love story. William Yared Castro-Chavez Stone is the most memorable character I have ever read. He's been in my dreams a few times DON'T TELL MY HUSBAND!

A Moment of Justice, A Lifetime of Vengeance
John A. Wooden
JBOW Productions
PO Box 82922, Albuquerque, NM 87123
ISBN: 0976740400, $11.16, 320 pages

John Wooden authors an eyebrow raising novel, that should scare the hoods off former KKK members, their families, and anyone else who lynched a black man during a time when America was muddling through the wrongs of its own Holocaust.

Kenny "KC" Carson, former NFL star turned FBI agent, is called back to work while morning the death of his baby sister, Alyse, to investigate the gruesome murder of US Senator and Presidential hopeful, Robert A. Cowen. To make matters worse, the senator's murder is the tenth in a serial killer's plan to bring justice to the fifteen people who tortured, taunted, and lynched Marcus Murray, an FBI operative just passing through, in Alabama over thirty years ago. He races to save the lives of the remaining members of they lynch mob; the same men who would have hung him from a tree, naked and beaten, back in the day.

Full of irony, this book is more than a suspenseful, murder mystery. It's an account of the mean, cruel things done in the "dirty south", a phrase that has been adopted by today's youth just as the "n" word, and how the American government has not taken a stand for its own debased race the Negro. It also schools the reader on the message behind "Strange Fruit", a poem written by a Jewish schoolteacher after seeing a photograph of a lynching and later put to music by Billie Holiday in a haunting, condemning tune.

John's book is passionate, provoking, and groundbreaking. The plot is well thought out with characters that are loveable, hate able, and down right irritating at times. Trying to figure out the case is pointless due to the large cast of characters, which can be confusing at times, and almost everyone shows small signs of motive. You won't know who did it until the last few pages of the novel.

This is a good, informative, and entertaining read.

Makasha Dorsey

Mayra's Bookshelf

The Demon Plague
Joreid McFate
Zumaya Publications 512-707-2694
ISBN: 978-1554100354, $22.00, 417 pages

Salem, 1692.

At the Magistrate's House, a young red-headed woman named Patience Gladstone is in trial for witchcraft. Among the present is a mysterious tall blond stranger whose gaze seems keenly fixed on an amulet which rests on the table of evidence - an exceptional-looking crystal that holds the "blemish" of a perfectly five-pointed star within it the same star which, to the people's horror, marks the skin of Patience Gladstone behind her ear.

The atmosphere of tension rises at the trial when another figure appears, at least seven feet tall and as broad as two men standing abreast, his face as hideous as that of a demon from hell. As the demon lunges himself against the tall blond stranger, panic spreads among the crowd, the sheriff raises his flintlock, and a thunderous explosion is heard.

Immediately after this scene the reader is transported to the old town cemetery, year 1992.

Crystal Donovan, a young journalist for the Salem Gazette, is at a turning point in her life. At her grandmother's burial, she is given a strange crystal amulet which she is told she must guard with her life. She is also urged to remember and recite an old poem her grandmother taught year years ago.

Crystal's mind is plagued with haunting, troubling questions. What does the poem mean? Why is the star on the amulet so similar to her own birthmark? Does her full name - Crystal Patience Gladstone Donovan, have something to do with it? What, in fact, is her mission, and why does it seem so imminent?

As Crystal searches for these answers, an exciting series of events follow - a horrible murder, running from demons, being transported back in time and then forward into the future. A different array of interesting characters - including Crystal's dog, an adorable Doberman who maintains his important role throughout the book - non-stop action and plot twists will keep readers turning those pages late into the night.

Witch hunters, demons, malfunctioning time machines, evil scientists and bloodthirsty creatures from the future In the midst of so much adversity, will Crystal fulfil her destiny?

The Demon Plague combines horror, time travel and science fiction to create a thrilling ride that will leave demanding readers satisfied and even breathless. The author has interwoven the past, present and future beautifully. The characters are engaging and believable and the dialogue sparkles with genuineness. Scenes are kept short and the writing focuses on narrative and dialogue, keeping descriptions to a minimum to ad to the fast-pace, thrilling effect. Yet the author manages to create a fully imaginable world, one which is vividly visualised. For those who have always found the Salem's witch trials fascinating, this book certainly ads a new original twist to the story. An exciting, entertaining, well-worth read.

Every Waking Moment
Brenda Novak
Harlequin Books
ISBN: 0373770456, $6.99, 374 pages

Brenda Novak's gift lies in grabbing the reader mercilessly by the throat and not letting go until the very end. Her latest romantic suspense, Every Waking Moment, is one of those special books which will make readers so deeply involved with the story and characters they will laugh, scream and even shed a few tears.

On the surface, Vanessa Beacon leads the kind of life most women would be envious of - she lives in a luxurious mansion, drives a Jaguar, and wears ten-thousand dollar studs on her earlobes. Many would say she has the perfect boyfriend - the arrogant, handsome and successful Manuel Rodriguez, with whom she has been living together for five years and who happens to be father of her young son, Dominick.

But Vanessa's life has a much darker side. The lovely mansion she lives in is, in fact, her prison, and her handsome boyfriend, her captor. Suspicious of her every move, Manuel obsessively controls everything she thinks and does, and even goes to the extreme of having her constantly followed wherever she goes and denying her any kind of economic independence. Deep inside, she knows Manuel is a dangerous man, and his "business" dealings more than dubious. To ad to her predicament, her son Dominick suffers from diabetes and she must care for him constantly, administering insulin and checking his blood levels several times through the day and night.

But abuse situations sometimes reach a limit - and today Vanessa is leaving Manuel.

With the housekeeper's help, Vanessa and Dominick are able to escape but for how long?

Haunted for the past two years by a tragic event in his life, Preston Holman is obsessed with a deadly mission, one he will fulfil or die trying. When his destiny clashes with Vanessa's, the last thing he wants is getting involved with her - especially with her son, whose sight constantly brings a torrent of heart-wrenching memories. Besides, their presence will complicate his plan. But how can he not help her, when she seems so terrified?

Preston tells her he will bring her as far as Iowa, no more. But as they move from state to state in his van, and stay in motels at night, the emotional and physical attraction between the two become irresistible. To complicate matters, Preston begins to feel attached to Dominick, and vice versa.

With Manuel and his men close behind on a death wish, will Vanessa and Dominick ever be able to find freedom and happiness? What about Preston's mysterious mission in Iowa - will he bring it to fruition and still survive?

Fast-paced scenes filled with sparkling dialogue, romantic tension, and a series of

pulse-racing plot twists bring the story to a heart-stopping climax and a conclusion that will form a knot in most readers' throats. The hero and heroine, as well as the little boy Dominick, really stand out, casting their magic to maintain a continuous suspension of disbelief. An exciting, compelling, entertaining read, Every Waking Moment comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

Could You, Should You Self-Publish a Children's Book?
Anne Emerick
Aboon Books
3743 Route 32, Saugerties, NY 12477
ISBN: 0975464906, $15.95, 68 pages, e-book

Have you ever felt the desire to publish your own children's book? Have you ever considered starting your own children's book publishing company? If you've answered Yes to these two questions, but have always been daunted or afraid by the prospect, then this book is for you.

Anne Emerick, founder of her own children's book publishing company, Aboon Books, takes the myth out of the process. In her practical, informative step-by-step method, she takes you through the whole self-publishing process from start to finish, and makes it utterly interesting along the way.

Emerick breaks the self-publishing process in four stages: planning, getting the story illustrated, getting the book printed, getting the book into the hands of readers and a return on your investment.

Within these main topics, you'll find the following subjects: what first to do to become a publisher, filing a DBS or an LLC, getting ISBN and library card catalogue numbers, expenses, illustrating and book designing, the different printers and what to keep in mind when choosing one, how to price your book and keep that price competitive, professional associations and fees, promotion and marketing, how to plan your budget, how to find a distributor, selling to libraries and bookstores and much, much more.

The author uses illustrations to better demonstrate what she's talking about. There's also a section of success stories where other people share their experiences and ideas.

The fact that the book is in electronic format is convenient and time-saving, since it is filled with lots of helpful links you can readily check at the click of a mouse.

This book really clarifies in simple language what it takes to open your own children's book publishing company. Highly recommended.

Mayra Calvani

Molly's Bookshelf

One Incredible Dog! Boone
Chris Williams
Judith Friedman
Moo Press, Inc.
PO Box 54 Warwick, NY 10990
ISBN: 0972485392, $15.95/$23.95 Can.

Charming Read .. Highly Recommended .. 5 stars

The narrative encompasses 32 pages filled with prose and black and white 'pen and ink' type drawings. Boone, Daniel Boone is a big, friendly Search and Rescue dog. Boone helps find people who are lost or hiding. Boone learned to be a Search and Rescue dog by playing Hide and Seek with his friends Teri and Jim. He learned to play his game in many places: factories and train stations, country path and city streets. He even learned to play his game in all kinds of weather. Teri and Jim bring Boone to visit classrooms. The children love Boone and he loves them too. Boone needs to sniff something belonging to the lost person when he begins a hunt. Boone's special word is Find, when Boone hears Find he knows he must play his Hide and Seek game. Boone finds a girl who is lost and he finds an old man. Boone can even find a man who runs away with a lady's purse. Hound dog Boone is One Incredible Dog.

One Incredible Dog! Boone, second in the One Incredible Dog series, is an admirable work created by writer Williams and illustrator Friedman to encourage children's awareness for how a Search and Rescue dog may spend a typical day. Crafted in an easy reading, child friendly style filled with well-written prose and child appealing illustrations One Incredible Dog! Boone is a publication sure to please the target audience of young listeners/readers.

Boone is a real hound, an actual Search and Rescue dog, who has earned many awards for his search and rescue work. Boone lives in Pennsylvania where he works as a Search and Rescue dog.

One Incredible Dog! Boone is certain to prove an asset in the classroom for unit work as well as 'free time reading'. Vocabulary used is beyond reading capability of most younger readers, however it is within the scope of many middle grade readers who will enjoy reading the book to younger students. The sturdy well crafted edition is a must have for the public school library, the home school classroom and on the home library pleasure reading shelf where it will stand up to repeated use.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Bully Brigade
Betty Jo Schuler, author
Susan Scott, illustrator
Disk Us Publishing
PO Box 43, Albany, Indiana 47320
ISBN: 1584952075, $7.50 large coil bound book, also available as an eBook

Informative Read .. Recommended .. 4 stars

The book is a 44 page illustrated publication written especially for kids. Bully Brigade presents tools for young people to use to help them recognize bullying behavior, reasons for why bullies may be acting as they do and how to stop them. Writer Schuler offers specific explication regarding what it is that bullies do; they push, take, grab and engage in other unacceptable behaviors towards their peers. Then Schuler takes it a step further to ask, why does the reader think a bully does this or that, and do you know a bully, and does the bully begin fights with kids who are larger than he. Kids are offered a chance to do some thinking about what a bully is and why the bully may be behaving as he does. Kids are encouraged to pay attention to behavior and not be swayed by appearance. Included in the book are pages where children can answer questions and write their answers regarding what they have learned about bullies and why they intimidate. A Banish Bully Badge, which the child can cut out and wear, rounds out the work.

Educator/Author Schuler has created a thoughtful well-written work regarding a serious problem facing many children today. Bullying on the playground and elsewhere is a situation children, teachers and parents must understand, confront and deal with if we are to see bullying brought to a stop. Bully Brigade is written in understandable terms and is illustrated by pencil drawings certain to appeal to the target audience of primary and middle grade readers. The book is a 'read-to' for younger students and a 'read alone' for older kids.

Writer Schuler and Illustrator Scott call upon their years of experience within the public school system for material presented in Bully Brigade. Vocabulary used is easily understood by children. Illustrations are to the point and child friendly. The book will fit well in a classroom unit setting dealing with relationships in general and bullying in particular. The book is a good choice for pleasure reading as well as unit work, and will be one a mentor student can use with ease when working with younger students.

Bully Brigade is a must have for the school, home school and home library. Discounts are offered for school quantity purchases. A teacher's guide accompanies the work.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Career Magic: A Woman's Guide to Reward & Recognition
Marjorie Brody
Career Skills Press
815 Greenwood Ave STE 8, Jenkintown PA 19046
ISBN: 1931148090, $19.95

Instructional Read .. Recommended . 4 stars

Career Magic A Woman's Guide to Reward & Recognition: 224 pages, Introduction, 9 chapters as well as information about Brody Communication and an order form. Chapter titles indicate material to be found on the pages of the work. Chapter 1: If It's Meant to Be, It's Up to Me, advocates taking a good look at what you really want to achieve. Brody says be preemptive in your thinking, don't wait to be noticed, don't enter or stay in a career that keeps you from what you really want in life. Chapter 2: M Your Magic Starts with Your Manner, appearance and body language are important. Little things are the ones that tend to stop careers. Express yourself, but keep in mind your role, the environment and the work you do. Chapter 3: A Advocates: Add Their Influence to your Marketing Plan, who knows you and knows your capabilities is what matters most. Cultivating advocates to plead your cause will hold you in good stead during your career. Chapter 4: G Never stop Growing, growth brings you closer to your goals, when you stop growing you begin rotting. Change is not a threat, complacency is. Chapter 5: I Increase Your Involvement, Involvement will bring results when you take an active role beyond your job responsibility you grow personally and professionally. Chapter 6: C Create Commentary, commentary creates visibility. Commentary is tangible evidence that you possess leadership abilities. Chapter 7: Go Work Your Magic, Focus on what matters. Create choices, create maximum visibility. Chapter 8: What Others Doing, is three pages detailing in a sentence or two each how women are furthering their careers. Chapter 9: Women Who've Blazed The Way details 35 successful women; their education, family, and careers.

Writer Brody is a well known speaker, consultant and job coach. Career Magic A Woman's Guide to Reward & Recognition with its collection of tips, tricks and techniques for furthering one's career is the result of Brody's many years experience and expertise in the field. While the title indicates the book is written particularly for women the narrative will prove as valuable for men who also hope to enjoy long and successful careers based upon good manners, growth along the way, getting involved in leadership roles within your chosen organization, drawing upon advocates who will hire, recommend and network you to others and guiding you toward becoming an expert in your field. Career Magic A woman's Guide to Reward & Recognition is not only for the new college grad just entering the work force, but will prove as valuable to the old work horse who has been at it for a while, and may have forgotten or set aside some of the basics for success.

The book is easily read, presented in straight forward language and filled with charts, areas for note taking, and individual success stories. A must have for the business person's library. The work is meant to be read often, mulled over and used on a daily basis by those who wish to take control of their own future.

Enjoyed the informative read, happy to recommend.

Daily Positives: Inspiring Greatness In The Next Generation
Edward P Fiszer, Ed.D
Cameo Publications, LLC
PO Box 8006 Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
ISBN: 0974414980, $16.95

Illuminating read .. Recommended . 5 stars

Inspiring reflections addressing friendship, success and failure, daring to try new things and expectations are presented in one page segments within the covers of Daily Positives: Inspiring Greatness In The Next Generation. Quotations from well known and lesser recognized historical figures include those coming from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Manufacturer Henry Ford, Philosopher Aristotle, President Thomas Jefferson and football pioneer George Halas. I particularly enjoyed reading the thoughts of musician Duke Ellington who once said, "A Problem Is A Chance." Ellington who lived from 1899 to 1974 did not care much for piano lessons when a boy, however, he did become interested in the piano when he was a teen, gave it his best and became known the world over as a musician second to none. I also enjoyed reading Vidal Sassoon's quote, "The only place where success comes before hard work is in the dictionary." In addition to the 145 daily quotes are six additional inspirational readers directed toward specific days: Labor Day, September 11, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Break, President's Day and Memorial Day.

Daily Positives: Inspiring Greatness In The Next Generation is a compilation of thought provoking quotations meant to aid parents, educators and other youth leaders as they endeavor to motivate young people toward success. Educator Fiszer has gathered introspections written or spoken by a wide array of authors including Elbert Hubbard, Francis Bacon, Napoleon Hill and Orison Swett Marden as well as sports figures including Tiger Woods, Andrew Hill, and Babe Ruth. In addition, Ancients Plato and Seneca share space with political figures, and artists.

One of my favorite Authors, Mark Twain, is quoted in the book as saying, "the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." Those are strong, positive words for youngsters to consider.

Fiszer has brought together a extensive melange of sentiments, inspirations, thoughts and ideas all put forth by the widest variety of people. The quotations presented are written in vocabulary well within the range of understanding of middle grade students, and reading ability of most upper middle grades and beyond.

While Writer Fiszer's major intent for the work he has prepared is to provide a method for 'parents, counselors, teachers, administrators and mentors to inspire positive actions each day through guidance and meaningful discussions with their students; Daily Positives: Inspiring Greatness In The Next Generation is a book well suited to being read and used often for both pleasure reading and inspiration. A must have book for the personal reading shelf, classroom, home school curriculum and book shelf of those who endeavor to inspire youth Daily Positives: Inspiring Greatness In The Next Generation is a book I will be keeping, and I do not keep all books sent for review.

Enjoyed the book. Happy to recommend.

Dance With Your Heart Tales and Poems That the Heart Tells
Shirley Cheng
Lulu Press Inc.
3131 RDU Center Dr, STE 210, Morrisville NC 27560
ISBN: 1411618580, $15.95

Enjoyable Read .. Recommended ......... 4 stars

Dance With Your Heart Tales and Poems That the Heart Tells A publication of poetry and prose wherein the table of contents offers a mix of titles such as 'Free the Magic,' 'One Petal Falls,' and 'The Greedy Cat' for reader endorsement and satisfaction. 'Mary Miller, the Elusive Lady,' is a whimsical, quixotic tale told on three pages. 'Be On Our Way' is a delicate verse composition of love. 'The Colors of the Rainbow' offer the reader an awareness for the colors of the rainbow together with the author's grasp of God's intention.

An assortment of succinct tales and verse Dance With Your Heart Tales and Poems That the Heart Tells has been assembled carefully by writer/poet Shirley Cheng. Cheng is a young woman who has faced well-nigh overwhelming personal misfortune from early childhood and has managed to grow stronger despite facing adversity that often causes those with less faith or determination to falter and give up.

Poetry interspersed with the short prose narratives includes: 'Wonders of Nature,' 'Memories,' and 'One Petal Falls,' as well as one I particularly enjoyed 'Life of Autumn and Winter,' with its description of fall leaves and winter snows. 'Love in the Air,' is a light, ethereal offering. 'The Sounds I Hear,' is an especially touching read, "I hear all this in my heart, which hears: My heart speaks and I listen, for I am deaf."

Fiction anecdotes are fanciful, quick reads filled with delicate prose, settings portrayed in vivid detail and entertaining characters. 'Firey Passion' is a love story with a twist, 'Trapped in Panic,' is a poignant read with a clear lesson to be learned, while 'The Gift of Uniqueness,' offers optimism in a narrative about creatures not often thought of except in a fleeting manner.

Dance With Your Heart is an agreeable mixture of verse composition and prose each meant to awaken the spirit, give rise to laughter and bliss and enlighten the reader a bit about life. While most of the anecdotes appear simple on the surface each also offers a message cleverly woven into the tale. Each of the works; reverie, illumination and exultation offered are a pleasure to read. Writer Cheng is an intriguing woman who has a grasp for what is important and sets about to get it all down on paper for everyone to enjoy.

Excellent choice for the home pleasure library, the home school curriculum as well as the public school classroom.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems
Harry E Gilleland Jr
Lulu Press Inc.
3131 RDU Center Dr STE 210 Morrisville NC 27560
ISBN: 1411629272, $12.95

Enticing Read .. Highly Recommended .. 5 stars

Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems consists of 195 pages of poems and storoems. Storoems are explained by the poet: "I am a 60-year-old Southerner, now living in Louisiana, who is a retired scientist with a passion for writing poetry. I write mostly 'storoems', which are hybrid story-poems."

I read through the Table of Contents to locate especial pieces to read: of particular interest were several works entitled 'Wandering Warrior' ( II, III and so forth) a storoem detailing the adventures of a wanderer who comes to a valley menaced by a fearsome foe. 'Wandering Thoughts Gleaned Walking My Dogs,' 'Cats and Dogs,' 'In Memory of Coco, A Red Dachshund,' and 'On Armadillos,' all caught the eye of this animal enthusiast. 'An Idea To Die For' is a verse composition extolling the Freedom we cherish while 'America's Indians and Hitler' leave the reader with an unsettling realization of the antithesis of that Freedom. 'Rick and Mick' and 'A Visit With Grandma' offer two succinct, poignant reads portraying the reality of life. 'Old Blue' is poem beginning 'When I was a lad of ten, my great granddad once told me a tale that left me out of breath.' The composition goes on to bring the reader to tears with 'a tale of love, of danger, with an end that's sad, about a boy, his dog, and a savage death' as we read of a boy and his dog and the dog's faithful, boundless love. Poet Gilleland includes an ethereal Haiku entitled 'Spring Rains,' along with a touching, poignant work detailing how love sometimes causes us to do what we would not. 'Alfred Must Die' will leave the reader saddened. 'Granddad Did His Best' touches on the bond of familial love that transcends time and space. Beginning My Linda, my darling wife, my soul mate 'For Linda' is a loving tribute to a wife offered by her husband of many years. Poet Gilleland ends his loving tribute with these words You make my life worth the living, cause my heart to soar. Sweet Linda, I'll love you today, tomorrow forevermore.'

Within the covers of Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems lyrist Gilleland offers the reader a wide variety of style, subject and feelings to fit any reader want or need. I enjoyed the wide variety of themes from the heartfelt to thoughtful, tribute to merry. There is truly something for everyone, and something for every occasion included in the work. Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems is one man's life's journey presented in thought and notion through his insights, notions, understandings and words.

Poems are not grouped by subjects, rather the table of contents is used to stimulate readers toward searching for engaging titles and subject matter. That poet Gilleland loves and understands words, their flow and meaning is obvious. His works are filled with meaning, feeling and charm without sounding stilted or 'poetsy.' Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems is an excellent addition to the home reader pleasure library, the school library as required reading for students and for the home school curriculum to be used for introducing young people to interesting, worthwhile poetry.

Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems is a volume to be reached for often. It is as an excellent a choice for a lazy afternoon spent sitting on the porch, swinging, reading while sipping lemonade as it is for a cold wintry evening spent before a cozy fire with a good hot cup of chocolate.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

Letters From Afghanistan
Eloise Hanner
Branden Books
P.O. Box 812094, Wellesley, MA 02482
ISBN: 0828320837, $14.95, 176 pages

It was the year 1971. The author, a recent college graduate from Idaho, and her fiance (soon to be her husband) decide to join the Peace Corps. They aren't qualified to do much except teach English, so they applied for somewhere in the South Pacific, and had to wait several months for an opening. After a weekend of more intense interviews in Chicago, they finally get their assignment. They both have to look on a map to find Afghanistan, a landlocked country in southwest Asia. This book consists of weekly letters sent home about their experiences.

After an interminable plane flight, and many shots, they reach Kabul. It is a colorful, yet noisy, sort of place. They find a house (all of which are behind high adobe walls) through the local Peace Corps office. They are given the usual rules when traveling to the Third World. Don't drink the water (it will be provided by the Embassy). Don't eat anything from the stalls in the local bazaar; in fact, don't eat anything that can't be peeled or hasn't been thoroughly cooked. Despite this, they still suffer from nearly weekly bouts of diarrhea. The plan for the Hanners is to undergo a three-month crash course in Farsi (the local language) and get used to Kabul before starting their assignment. The author's assignment is to teach English to employees of the Education Ministry.

Creature comforts in Kabul are few and far between. Heat in the Hanner's house comes from a couple of wood stoves. Light comes from a couple of bare light bulbs. Their mud roof leaks constantly, and during the summer, it grows wheat. Refrigeration is unknown, so Dad Ali, their cook/handyman/jack of all trades, makes daily food trips to the bazaar. The Kabul bazaar is a place where practically anything can be made or found, including a moneychanger who accepts American checks. Being a Peace Corps volunteer is not for everyone. Several people leave before their time is up.

These letters chronicle the good and bad of living in Afghanistan. On one side there is the incredible generosity of the Afghan people. They have little or nothing, and think nothing of sharing. On the other side is dealing with daily life in Kabul. There are also those people who let the author know, clearly and succinctly, if they feel she is not appropriately dressed in public.

This is a gem of a book and a very easy read. To get an idea of life in Afghanistan before the Soviets and before the Taliban, start right here. It's highly recommended.

Glitter and Greed: The Secret World of the Diamond Cartel
Janine Roberts
The Disinformation Comapny Ltd
163 3rd Avenue #108, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 0971394296, $22.95, 374 pages

This book takes a much-needed look inside the diamond business. The myth is that diamonds are so expensive at the local jewelry store because they are very rare. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

South Africa is one of the world's major diamond producers. Conditions for the black miners inside the mines can best be described as barbaric. The miners are locked in the mine compound for months at a time, supposedly to protect against diamond theft. Among other things, protective gear is rare or nonexistent, and their pay is microscopic. Apartheid is alive and well in the South Africa diamond mines. In places where diamonds have been found, like the Australian Outback, Botswana and northern Canada, indigenous rights are trampled like they don't exist.

During World War II, America had a very hard time getting sufficient supplies of industrial diamonds from DeBeers, the cartel that still controls much of the world's diamond trade. It got to the point where the US threatened to stop all shipments of fighter planes to England unless the British used their influence with DeBeers to ease the restrictions. The Germans, however, had much less trouble getting industrial diamonds from DeBeers.

DeBeers drives up the price of diamonds by simply keeping them off the market, or stockpiling them. It's common to cut production at a certain mine, or close it completely, in order to keep that type of diamond off the market. Ownership of the various pieces of DeBeers is shuttled around through a seemingly infinite number of shell corporations, most of which are little more than a nameplate on a door of a building in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland. Among other reasons, it's done to reduce the company's tax bill, and the fee paid to the government where the mine is located, as much as possible. If a government wants to change the extremely unfair (for them) payment system, DeBeers floods the market with diamonds from that country, depressing the price.

The book spends time looking at the role of diamonds in recent African wars, like the 1970s war in Angola, and the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which America was deeply involved. Last but not least, did you know that there was a working diamond mine in the American state of Arkansas?

This is a major eye-opener. It is a very detailed investigative piece, the likes of which are rarely seen these days. Diamonds are a girl's best friend? Not after reading this highly recommended book.

God, Science and the Cosmic Jigsaw
Jonathan Kingsley
Llumina Press
P.O. Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL 33077-2246
ISBN: 1932047980, $15.95, 178 pages

Many people are looking for something "more" out of life, like a closer relationship with God. The problem is that they are reluctant to give up their belief in the scientific view of things. They feel that a deeper faith in God is supposed to equal acceptance of creationism and rejection of evolution. This book shows that there is a middle path, that faith in God and evolution can go together.

Take Creation according to Genesis, for instance. The earth was formed before the sun, moon and stars. From a scientific standpoint, they should have been combined in Day 1 (you can't have the earth without the rest of the universe). Otherwise, Chapter 1 of Genesis sounds a lot like evolution, as long as you consider that a "day" could equal millions of years.

In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness." Whose image? Who is He talking to? It suggests that there was a race of beings in Heaven, before man was created. They were the authors of Genesis. In Genesis 2, Adam and Eve were created, and were told to stay away from the fruit of the tree in the center of Eden. They didn't, and the rest is history.

In Genesis 3, Eve is tempted by a serpent to eat of the forbidden tree. The author's interpretation is that this was not some sort of talking snake, but had to do with the discovery of sex between Adam and Eve. The author also feels that the two are part of a designer race, who aren't supposed to sexually reproduce. After the two have intercourse, and discover that they are naked, God decrees that, from now on, woman shall experience pain in childbirth, and that man's days on earth shall be numbered (implying that they weren't numbered before). After son Cain kills son Abel, Cain moves away, and starts his own family, eventually founding the city of Enoch. This means that there were other people on earth, created by evolution. The interbreeding of Divine Man and Evolutionary Man (for lack of better terms) is what causes God to create the Flood that, among other things, made Noah famous.

This book is about more than just the Book of Genesis. It does a fine job at showing a middle ground between evolution and creationism. Mercifully, it is light on the jargon, but it will still give the reader a mental workout. For those looking for a closer relationship with God, this is very much worth reading.

Ending Entrenched Power
Curtis L. Harris
iUniverse Inc
2021 Pine Lake Road #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595268412, $15.95, 172 pages

Entrenched power is when people in authority, in business, government or religion, serve themselves instead of those they are supposed to represent.

In the beginning, God created the Universe and Natural Law. The author is not talking about any particular conception of God, but means "God" as a more general term. People discovered many of these Laws (Known Law) through spiritual reflection and scientific experimentation. Among the major Natural Laws are basic morality, individual freedom, change and the progress and consequences that result from that change. As time went on, leadership and social organization came about. Religions developed to help explain man's place in the overall scheme of things.

The major religions were established using the same general concepts of morality, like right and wrong, good and evil, etc. The author advocates the creation of a society based on these spiritual concepts, which are common to everyone, instead of basing it on any particular God.

How can entrenched power happen in present-day religion? They are part of the social fabric that organizes people into effective societies. On the local level, they teach moral and ethical values. They support the development of good character in children. They provide understanding and comfort in times of loss. As one goes up the hierarchy (a feature of most organized religions), leaders are more interested in the organization and holding on to power than in serving the faithful. An example of entrenched power is the Catholic Church molestation scandals. It would have been painful to deal with the problem years ago, but sweeping it under the rug, as the Catholic hierarchy did, has made the problem many times worse.

On the subject of entrenched power in politics, need we say more than "term limits?" A major flaw in the system as designed by the Founding Fathers was not setting a limit on terms in Congress. The author advocates a system where average citizens can actually run for Congress (currently impossible), serve two terms, then make way for someone else. It would go a long way toward helping America to lead the world toward the fulfillment of "God's" destiny for Man.

This is quite a book. It's a really interesting read for people of any political or religious viewpoint. The reader may not agree with all of it, but it is still well worth reading.

Till Noever
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
P.O. Box 1714, Calgary AB T2P 2L7 Canada
ISBN: 1894063082, $14.95, 358 pages

This fantasy story is about the land of Keaen, whose central idea or concept is the survival of an ancient Covenant between the ruler and the people. One manifestation of that Covenant is that the ruler of Keaen can not marry or even have a lover. Heirs to the throne are created by the ruler impregnating any woman in the kingdom that he wishes. If a male child is born, that child is taken from the mother and spends his life in the castle. Armist is very uninterested in taking over as ruler, because he believes himself to be the product of such a union. His sister, Tahlia, is about to be married off to one of the local barons, a prospect that she equally dreads.

In Keaen, opposition to the Covenant is growing. Would-be rebels start to organize, semi-openly. One huge push is all that is needed to bring down the whole system. Armist and Tahlia aren't thinking about that when they flee the castle, throwing everything into chaos. They just want to get as far away as possible. Along the way, Armist and Tahlia find that they have friends within the castle.

Caitlan is the royal Weaponsmaster and Pandrak is the emissary of the magices of Skele (the head wizard). They have their reasons for wanting the system changed, so, in their own ways, they keep the pursuit away from Armist and Tahlia. Naturally, their father, King Hain, is not taking this lying down; their freedom doesn't last for long. Tahlia is forced into marriage with Baron Tegel, a fat, disgusting man with an unnatural liking for young boys. Armist is captured by forces loyal to Tergan, Keaen's neighbor and long-time enemy.

This one is very good. It's more of an adventure tale with narrow escapes, knife fights and carnivorous beings who come out at night. It may take some work on the part of the reader, but this is recommended.

Even the Stones
Marie Jakober
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
P.O. Box 1714, Calgary AB T2P 2L7 Canada
ISBN: 189406318X, $14.95, 337 pages

This historical fantasy is about an ancient land, and its young queen's fight for her crown, her freedom and the man she loves.

Several years previously, Marwen of Kamilan was kidnapped and forced into a marriage with a heartless lord from the neighboring kingdom of Dravia. With the help of Keri, a warrior/minstrel who is part of a caravan passing through Dravia, Marwen escapes. After several weeks walking through forbidding terrain, they arrive back in Kamilan.

Soon after the celebrating stops, the Kamilan Council brings up the subject of Marwen, who is barely 20 years old, marrying and producing an heir to the throne. An unmarried, childless queen is not acceptable, so Marwen reluctantly marries Landis, one of Kamilan's nobles. It's purely a political marriage, until Marwen produces an heir, when the two go their separate ways.

Meantime, Marwen resurrects the ancient, and long-suppressed, religion of the hill queens, leaving the Council aghast. It gets worse when Dravia sends a military probe into Kamilan. Shadrak is a slaveborn commander of an outpost who has been given permission to train a company of men his way. He has also won Marwen's heart. Shadrak defeats the Dravian attack, but according to the Council, he didn't do it honorably. Shadrak used hit and run, guerrilla tactics which greatly limited the casualties among his men. According to the Council, honorable combat means two armies clashing in an open field, swords and lances flying.

Marwen and Shadrak have several late night liaisons, which brings the Council to near-mutiny. The possibility of a half-breed ruling Kamilan is almost too much to bear. But Marwen is not alone. She has Keri, and she has Medwina, priestess of the goddess Jana, and those of her people who keep the old religion.

The proverbial final straw comes when Dravia sends a full-fledged invasion force. There are many casualties on the Kamilan side, but ultimately, with some sorcery help, Shadrak and Kamilan are victorious. Marwen only wants the Dravia forces out of Kamilan, but the Council is shocked that she doesn't conquer Dravia. They only see the possibility of more riches and power for themselves, they don't see that Kamilan would have to go on a permanent war footing. Feeling that Shadrak has somehow bewitched Marwen, a plan is hatched to get rid of Shadrak, permanently.

This is a first-rate piece of writing. It's more a story of gender roles, and the cost of changing them, than a sword and sorcery story. The author does a fine job with the characters, and this is very much worth reading.

The Burning House
H. David Blalock
P.O. Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
ISBN: 1591134390, $15.95, 234 pages

This is part two of a six-part fantasy series about Andalarn Thran, Jarl (leader) of House Thran, one of several Houses on the island of Adylonis. For several centuries, no House has had the power to become Ascendant (to become "Crown Prince" of Adylonis, under the Emperor on the mainland). Therefore, the choice of Andalarn Thran, by the Council at Moorkai, to become Ascendant, is guaranteed to upset a lot of people. Foremost among these is House Suum, a military House who would like nothing more than to wipe House Thran off the map.

With Andalarn's promotion, he must move to Moorkai and hand over House Thran to Daepar, his son. Daepar knew this day would come, but he still dreads the responsibility. House Suum is on the move, and Daepar is reluctant to send troops, against the advice of his advisors. His wife's father, a member of the Council at Moorkai, is assassinated, and she demands revenge. Daepar meets, and is smitten with, the daughter of another House, and they enter into a political marriage, while he is still married (legal, but unorthodox). Andalarn and his wife are very overdue at Moorkai; the first thought is that they have been captured by House Suum. Daepar takes several men, and goes to search for them, also against his advisor's wishes. Andalarn is found, and when he hears about how bad things have gotten at House Thran, he removes Daepar as Jarl, and appoints Lady Mara, Daepar's wife, as regent until their young son comes of age. This is undone by the Emperor. Finally, Daepar realizes that, on several different levels, he has messed up, big time.

This is another strong, well done piece of writing. It has good characters, it's just weird enough to be interesting and fantasy fans will love it.

God Drug
Stephen L. Antczak
Marietta Publishing
P.O. Box 3485, Marietta GA 30061-3485
ISBN: 1892669331, $14.99, 208 pages

Tom and Sparrow, his lover, are part of the punk music scene in present-day Gainesville, Florida. Sparrow is part of a band that has a gig at Dave-O's, the local punk music club. Earlier that day, they score some LSD, that was not meant for them, from Galactic Bill, the local drug source.

Meantime, near Atlanta, Georgia, a young woman named Hanna wakes up in a suburban house next to a fat, hairy guy. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there, except for flashbacks of having served in the Vietnam War, even though she is nowhere near old enough to have served. Hanna gets in a car and heads south, not knowing where she is going. Along the way, she meets The General, an older man in uniform who certainly remembers Hanna.

When they reach Gainesville, Hanna realizes that The General is some sort of alien whose task is to absorb certain people, and thereby become part of Jovah. She realizes this after seeing The General swallow Galactic Bill whole, like a snake eating a rat. Back at the punk club, the LSD begins to have an effect, and suddenly, everyone at the club is flying, as long as the music keeps playing. When a malfunctioning amp stops the music, gravity takes over, violently. While in the air, Tom, Sparrow and their friends watch as a giant mechanical dragon lays waste to Gainesville, like a modern-day Godzilla movie. They can't help but think that this is the ultimate drug trip, but this is reality (that's the magic word). They meet Hanna and The General, who must absorb Hanna to become "whole."

This book does a fine job at messing with conceptions of reality. One can almost hear the punk music in the background. This one is really strange and really good.

The Road of Silk
Matt Afsahi and Barbara Dysonwilliams
Synergy Books
2525 West Anderson Lane, Suite 540, Austin, TX 78757
ISBN: 0974764469, $24.99, 329 pages

This fantasy story is about Queen Yasamin of Gwendomere, who agrees to marry King Amir of Dragonval in order to save her kingdom. She is to become Second Wife to Amir, because Medusimia, Queen and First Wife, has yet to produce an heir. Medusimia is irate at this "competition," so she conspires with Vulmire, a man-beast who lives in a deep cave, to make sure that Yasamin has an "accident."

A freak storm sinks the three-ship convoy taking Yasamin to Dragonval, killing everyone except her, Arash, a prince from another kingdom, and Goliagoth, the head of the military escort from Dragonval. After several weeks without rescue (the sailing route was known, so they shouldn't have been that hard to find), the three start walking. During a battle with skeleton warriors, Yasamin meets Mosesra, a man who totally changes her outlook on life. He tells her that a major battle between good and evil is coming, and she is the focus. Many demons are waiting for her in Dragonval, so she needs to watch her back at all times.

She makes it to the castle, and marries Amir. Medusimia is able to convince Amir that she was unfaithful, many times, with Arash and Goliagoth, and Yasamin is thrown in prison. Amir may be King of Dragonval, but he is not the person in charge. Many years earlier, Serpata, who is Yasamin's grandfather, made a deal with the devil for power. Now, he is kept in chains in a darkened dungeon cell, but Serpata still has plenty of power. The three escape the castle, but Yasamin goes back, in an attempt to turn Amir away from the "dark side."

This one is very good. It has more of an Eastern than European feel, the characters are well done, and the authors have left room for a sequel. This is well worth the reader's time.

The Conrad Chronicles: Revolt
Heather Hobson
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413743099, 282 pages, $16.95

For the past couple of hundred planetary cycles, a group of humans living on the planet Aleron have been building a peaceful, thriving society. But the elders have been hiding a big secret. They were exiled from the planet Karna, their actual home, for using their Conrad (telepathy and telekinesis) abilities.

Xavier, a hothead who wants to be the next Conrad leader, convinces a group of young people to join him on a mission to Karna, to ask for permission to return, and if that doesn't work, to exact some retribution.

Xavier rules by fear and intimidation. The basic rules are: do what Xavier says, or die. The people of Karna live in isolated clans, so killing them is easy. Meantime, back on Aleron, a group of older Conrads, followers of the Light, decide to go after Xavier's group, to bring them back home. They help rebuild the villages of Karna that were destroyed. Along the way, after the first attack, Xavier's group stops on another planet to build more ships. Xavier finds a race of small, red, scaly animals on the planet. Through genetic manipulation and more mental powers, they are changed into a race of large, red, scaly warriors whose only purpose is to follow Xavier. He sends a plague back to Aleron, unknowingly carried by Thera, his soul mate, that kills all the other Conrads, except Bruner, the leader. Those who are trying to stop Xavier see his "handiwork," up close and personal, and are devastated. Killing another being, especially hundreds of the small, red creatures is totally against Conrad teaching.

This book belongs in that large gray area of Pretty Good or Worth Reading. It is an interesting story, perhaps a little on the "quiet" side and with room for a sequel. Overall, the reader will not be disappointed.

Aurelio O'Brien
1663 Liberty Drive #200, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1418421588, $18.75, 276 pages

Govil is a man born in the wrong century. In the tradition of all great 19th Century heroes, he needs a great cause, so he creates for himself a living mate named Eve. But that's easy for Govil to do.

Earth of the 31st Century is a very strange sort of place. There are no births or deaths; everyone is immortal. Everyone is sterile, because things like sex and families have been outlawed; so have war, disease and famine. All of mankind's needs are taken care of by Genie Corp (the only corporation on Earth), makers of biological Creature Comforts. Among their creations are JohnDeer, a multi-headed deer used as a lawn mower, an AlarmCock, the head of a rooster with little feet and HeavenScent, a skunk that sprays air freshener. Therefore, it is nothing for Govil to create a deliberately average human. The hard part is keeping it quiet.

Eve's education is left in the hands of an obsolete robot named Pentser, the narrator of this book. Years later, after Eve is able to function on her own, she is told the truth about her origins. By this time, Govil has fallen for her. The not-very-diligent investigation finally learns the truth, and the three are hauled into court. While Eve is sentenced to be recycled, it is revealed that Govil is not the only one with a secret "relationship."

This one is pretty good. It's a good future social speculation mixed with a 19th Century romance and includes some very weird bits of genetic engineering. Get past the strange front cover, and this one is worth reading.

Zollocco: A Novel of Another Universe
Cynthia Joyce Clay
Oestara Publishing
575 Sabal Palm Drive, Key Biscayne, FL 33149
ISBN: 1594577838, $14.99, 300 pages

This story is about a woman who, having escaped from a dying Earth, lands on a planet governed by sentient forests in the solar system Imenkapur. At first, the forest, called Zollocco, doesn't want her there, but slowly changes its "mind" after realizing that the woman is at least trying to live in harmony with the forest.

She is captured by, and made the property of, the Toelakhan, an interstellar corporation not in agreement with the forests' stewardship of the planets. She escapes, and runs from planet to planet, meeting other civilizations living in tune with the forests. She is made a priestess of the forests, but the Toelakhan is always one step behind her, wanting their property back.

Included in the book are vignettes about life on an Earth that has become an environmental disaster area. Through some new version of Eminent Domain, houses are flattened and parking lots are torn up to create space to plant trees, because breathing masks are required at all times when one is outside. The ozone layer, even over America, has become very thin. Faneuil Hall in Boston is now on the waterfront, because of global warming. An expedition is made to the flooded, and

evacuated, Boston Financial District to gather up all the house plants in all those offices and keep them alive to produce much needed oxygen.

This one is very good. It has a rather strong social message, but it also has an interesting story that will get the reader thinking. It is well worth the time.

Pledge of Honor
Lori L. Anderson
436 Walnut Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106
ISBN: 1413407102, $21.99, 298 pages

Jamie McGivens and Tony Stone are among a group of humans who have been kidnapped and taken to the planet Elos, by a humanoid race called the Berloff. The men are to be slaves, and the women are to be used for breeding. Jamie becomes the property of Locom, the leader of the Berloff.

Keenu is the grown son of the leader of a race of native Elosians, who have suffered constant Berloff slave raids. His quest is to find Dolan, his grandfather, who left their home village many years before. Using Dolan's wisdom (and experience living on Earth), the plan is to get themselves arrested by the Berloff (the easy part), and somehow free all the slaves from the "inside" (the hard part), to stop the whole slave system, permanently.

The breakout happens, and the four flee into the jungle. While in Locom's possession, Jamie was forced to let Locom have his way with her, and she is having a hard time dealing with it. Back on Earth, she was the sole caregiver for her sick mother, and the last thing she remembers before her abduction was finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. So Jamie is not appreciative when told that Keenu had to establish a mental Link with her (sort of a permanent Vulcan Mind Meld), that is not easily broken, when she is injured in the breakout.

Tony falls prey to one of the many deadly creatures of Elos, and Jamie almost joins him. She is brought to Keenu's home village to recover. Dolan was thrown out of the village years before, under very unpleasant circumstances, and little has changed. Damar, the Elosian ruler, and Dolan's son (and Keenu's father) does not want Dolan there, and the fact that he has brought an alien with him makes it that much worse. After she recovers, Dolan brings Jamie back to an Earth that holds nothing for her. Her mother died a couple of days previously, the police want to know where she has been for the last month, and her ex-boyfriend really wants to get back together with her, to the point of being obnoxious. Jamie also discovers that she has some pretty strong feelings for Keenu.

This works best as a story about the human spirit and about bonds between very different people, that happens to take place mostly on an alien planet. The reader could do a lot worse than to read this novel; it is very much worth the time.

The El-eventh Hour
Lily G. Stephen
Blooming Rose Press
P.O. Box 1211, Mt. Shasta, CA 96067-1211
ISBN: 0971265917, $19.95, 320 pages

This story, part 2 of a trilogy, is about Miranda, a young woman whose interest in physics leads to more theoretical subjects like hyperspace and alternate universes. A friend of her mother, Willa Carson, agrees to take Miranda on a trip to Peru to visit sites like Macchu Picchu. Her parents aren't exactly thrilled at the idea, but they agree. On the way to Peru, the plans change. The two women join an expedition led by a woman named Margot, looking for a city called Tanum. It's inside an Andean mountain and is the home of an ancient civilization called the Ugha Mongulala. On the plane to Peru, Miranda has a dream. Her friend, Opal Courtright, now part of a higher consciousness being called Sappho (read part 1), tells Miranda that they will meet in Tanum.

After several days travel through impenetrable Andean jungle, the entrance to Tanum is found. While exploring subterranean tunnels, an earthquake strikes and Miranda is badly injured. The people of Ugha Mongulala come to the rescue, bring the three women to Tanum, and nurse Miranda back to health. There is enough light and fresh air in this underground city to support 2,000 people; they have been on Earth for thousands of years, and went underground to escape "white barbarians." Meantime, the earthquake that injured Miranda wasn't just an earthquake. It was part of a worldwide catastrophe that included, among other things, Earth's rotation stopping for three full days.

Miranda attracts the attention of an ethereal, androgynous, even more ancient, race called the Els, who take Miranda into another realm for a visit. She is given all sorts of ancient knowledge and wisdom, which she, in turn, is to preach to the people of Earth. When the three women are returned to "reality," Miranda is compelled to go into the jungle alone, following her own path.

Those who are interested in New Age concepts, like higher states of consciousness and ancient civilizations, will love this book. For everyone else, it's grounded enough in reality, and weird enough, to be very much recommended.

Many Children Left Behind
Deborah Meier and George Wood (ed.)
Beacon Press
25 Beacon Street, Cambridge, MA 02108-2892
ISBN: 0807004596, $13.00, 134 pages

The nationwide No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is the latest attempt to reform American education. It is supposed to do this through enforcing a system of standards and accountability through standardized testing. According to the authors in this book, NCLB actually hurts, instead of helps, children, especially urban children.

The biggest problem is that NCLB has been underfunded, by anywhere up to $12 billion. The states have all sorts of new federal mandates, but not enough money to pay for them. Standardized tests are valuable as a measure of a student's progress, but they should not be the only measure, which is the case with NCLB. Portions of the school curriculum that don't directly deal with testing, like art, phys ed and field trips, will be dropped, as schools become little more than test-prep factories.

A school can be classified as Failing if even one subgroup in the school, like Asains or disabled students, don't do well enough on the test. The school must then pay to bus its students who want to transfer to a non-failing school. If it is an inner-city school, their resources are already thin enough. There probably aren't any non-failing schools nearby, and besides, they have no incentive to accept students who might bring down their test scores. Urban schools, and urban communities in general, need a lot more help than to be told, "Raise your test scores, or else." Many schools have gotten in the habit of making students repeat a grade, raising the chance that they will eventually drop out, only because they might negatively affect the test score for the upper grade.

The most well-known non-education provision in NCLB forces schools to give student contact information to military recruiters, or face a cutoff of federal aid. Any policy that prevents participation in prayer in public schools, as well as any policy that prohibits the Boy Scouts or any other "patriotic society" access to school facilities. For these and many other reasons, the list of states refusing to follow NCLB is growing.

This is an excellent book. It shows that the public pronouncements about NCLB are much brighter than the reality. It's short, easy to read and highly recommended.

Paul Lappen

Robyn's Bookshelf

The Thief and the Beanstalk
P.W. Cantanese
Aladdin Paperbacks,
ISBN: 0689871732, $4.99, Ages 9 to 12

"There were two kinds of thieves in the world: thieves like Jack, good people who succumbed to temptation, and whose conscience forever punished them for it; and thieves like Finch, predators who could murder and rob without a pang of regret. They were the haunted and the hunters. To one you gave your pity, to other your contempt, and to neither you envy."

Orphaned Nick is in trouble. He's hungry and no one seems to care. A band of ruthless thieves need a boy to climb into Jack's castle so the door can be opened for a raid. The leader of the pack Finch knows exactly where to find such a desperate soul, one he can bend to his will. He discovers Nick at an abandoned farm site, homeless and weary. Nick indeed climbs the ivy to the castle but an unintentional meeting takes place between him and old man Jack, the legendary survivor of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The story takes a twist when Jack throws a monkey wrench into the caper and offers Nick a couple of magic beans. But within Jack is a secret that needs answering and the reader will soon learn why the beans become important.

This book was a fun read but not for the faint of heart. The writing uses vivid imagery providing deliciously gruesome people and creatures alike, one of my favorites being the baby head spiders. I did find several questions left unexplored but the adventure was exciting and worth the ride.

Palms to the Ground
Amy Stolls
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
ISBN: 978-0374357313, $17.00, Ages 12-18

What kind of a 13 year old, only child evolves from an overly analytical household where every thought and word is scrutinized? Where life can't just happen, it has to be micromanaged and controlled? Where safety and precaution are practiced every minute of the day. That's the kind of environment that's given life to Calman Pulowitz, a Jewish Pepto-Bismol guzzling teen full of paranoia and inhibition.

The story begins when Calman makes plans to visit his pen-pal living on the other side of the country. What he doesn't realize is the chaotic whirlwind he'll step into and the true nature of his unpredictable pen pal friend, Rizzy. Calman is immediately thrown into angst when no one greets him at the airport and he has to catch a ride to the house. His arrival puts him in the middle of a dog funeral and he discovers Rizzy isn't the person he pretended to be.

A zany array of personalities put Calman's personal issues front and center as he encounters what an unfiltered life has to offer. Strong, wickedly funny characters take the reader on a hilarious ride of true friendship and remind us what adolescence must pass through to come of age.

Dennis Foon
Annick Press Ltd.
ISBN: 1550378856, $19.95, Young Adult

In the shrouded valley, the people of Longlight evaded destruction. For seventy-five years they quietly thrived, isolated from the world. Nurturing a small flame of hope, it took less than one hour for them to be annihilated. Book One The Dirt Eater.

In this second installment of the Longlight Legacy Trilogy, a year has passed since Roan, Alandra and the children have escaped the Brothers, when a coma-like sleep overtakes the children. Roan, possessing special powers, seeks to discover the whereabouts of the children's imprisoned souls. When a mysterious boy comes to Roan in a vision, he and his friend Lumpy set out to meet an unknown fate.

During this journey Roan discovers his lost sister Stowe in possession of great powers and a favorite of Darius, the archbishop behind the annihilation. Will reaching his sister bring her back from a destructive life and permit him to fulfill his destiny?

The story seamlessly blends fantasy with science fiction creating a believable imaginary world. The reading is compelling, the plot intricate and well crafted; with a storyline continuing from book one. It is highly recommended The Dirt Eaters be read first. The story goes through numerous conflicts and wends through several sub-plots but beware, the resolution won't take place till book three. That will be something you won't want to miss.

Robyn Gioia, Reviewer

Roger's Bookshelf

The How of Wow: A Guide to Giving a Speech That Will Positively Blow em Away
Tony Carlson
ISBN: 0814472516, $14.95, 277 pages

Light, valuable reading for corporate speechmakers

As an active professional speaker, I have far too many opportunities to witness well-meaning corporate executives damage their reputations by delivering speeches that are lame and embarrassing, using presentation styles that are as inappropriate as their talking about the topic to begin with. As I shake my head in wonder, I contemplate whether any of these people ever read a book on what speech-making is all about.

If they were to search for such a book, The How of Wow would certainly meet their needs. The author has written speeches, delivered speeches, critiqued speeches, and enjoyed the journey of coaching executives how to present their ideas - and their ideals - in public.

This book is not quite what you might expect it to be. It is not a rah-rah volume, nor it is a step-by-step handbook for writing and delivering a speech. Rather, Carlson's book is a lighthearted look at one of the biggest fears harbored by men and women in today's business world.

In an unusual approach for a book on this topic, Carlson begins by asking why the reader should even care about giving a blow em away speech. Then, part two challenges whether you should even accept the invitation. Not all opportunities are right, so be careful. In the third section of the book, Carlson digs into how to think about what you will say and why. Preparation gives you strength, as in part four you settle into the writing phase. Craft the story, make the connection, Carlson advises repeatedly. Then, to demonstrate, he does exactly that in these pages. You'll learn more about hooks to connect with your audience than you ever thought existed.

The writing section explores ways to build simplicity - much more effective in speechmaking than complexity. You'll learn about language, quotations, and words and phrases that detract from, rather than contribute to, the positive influence of the speech.

The last section of the book takes us into the actual presentation, with a follow-up emphasis on going beyond merely the basic strength of the speech itself. The supplemental questions at the end of the chapters is exceeded only by appendices that take you deeper into the knowledge base of speech-writing.

Well-directed toward executives; value for professional speakers, as well.

Brian Tracy and Campbell Fraser
ISBN: 0814472486, $24.00, 213 pages

Light, good content, formulaic

Here's another book on coaching. No, it's not. TurboCoach is more focused on the reader as an individual than it is on the techniques of professionally coaching others. This volume is more of a self-help book.

TurboCoach, a guide to better managing your own life, is organized into 21 short chapters grouped together into three sections. The first seven chapters are designed to help the reader gain clarity about one's own life. The text seems most appropriate to the sole proprietor and independent business owner than to an employee of a larger organization.

The second section of the book, another seven chapters, explores improving one's personal productivity. The third section - yes, another seven chapters - deals with growing your business. The authors' Advanced Coaching and Mentoring Program is promoted after the body of the book - big surprise. The index is helpfully comprehensive.

I felt the book was somewhat condescending. It appears to have been written by formula; may I suggest "manufactured?" Each chapter begins with two questions, with check-off boxes, and a synopsis of the chapter's focus. A few pages of text come next, followed by a seven-question application exercise. Who ever decided that life should be packaged in sevens? Almost every chapter has the same structure. After a while, the reading became annoying. The obvious structure distracted from the content.

There is good material in the chapters and the writing style makes the advice easy to grasp. For the beginner in this field of reading and personal growth, there is good value here. The advanced reader may find this read too simplistic.

The Geeks of War
John Edwards
ISBN: 0814408524, $24.00, 221 pages

Fascinating Insights into Military Technology

A nation at war focuses media attention on the technology that protects our warfighters, provides an advantage over the enemy, and protects the homeland. Interest in the development of technology to improve our lives is intense, and in demand. "If we can send a man to the moon, why can't we ...?

In Geeks, John Edwards, a veteran business technology journalist, takes us on a fascinating ride through a rich resource of developments. While these inventions, creations, products, and emerging technologies are initially designed to enhance military effectiveness, a large proportion have civilian applications that can significantly improve our quality of life.

Readers will enjoy an eye-opening tour through seven (chapters) technological arenas. After a relatively slow start through the introduction - interesting, but not exciting, we begin with a look at tactical systems. Finding things and breaking them is the way the author describes this aspect of war - an apt description. With our imaginations tickled by the creativity and possibilities of these almost-science fiction advances, we continue our journey with a look at how information is gathered and applied. More and more of the civilian applications leap from the pages. We begin to wonder how many of these hi-tech (OK, geeky) ideas are actually reality already, and how many are still in the design phase.

The book explores developments in telecommunications (like ad hoc wireless networks), reconnaissance (a robot that can fly), disaster relief (mass casualty treatment), and easily transferable health, medicine, and biotechnology advances (QuikClot to stop serous bleeding). Logistics, security, and clothing are covered in the final three chapters. As you near the end of the book, your eyes - and mind - may glaze over in amazement and intellectual overload. The intriguing research into intelligence and high-tech clothing will hold your attention.

A valuable glossary follows the text, a welcome tool. The book is well-indexed, a helpful feature when you want to find something to discuss with someone else. And you probably will! The surprisingly enjoyable book - I didn't expect such an imaginative work that was highly readable at the same time - will be of interest to young and old, military and not. Innovators in all fields will find the text stimulating. You won't find political statements or innuendos, just straight reporting.

The Chinese Century
Oded Shenkar
Wharton School Publishing.
ISBN: 0131467484, $25.95, 191 pages

Timely, High Content, Thought-Provoking

Is China's growth and development affecting your life? Of course, it is! You would not believe how many different ways you are affected every day - directly and indirectly - by what is happening in this huge country on the other side of the globe. Shenkar, an international scholar focused on China and East Asia is a perfect guide to take you on a journey of discovery. You'll be fascinated.

The book begins with a look at past centuries, to better understand this one. The first couple of chapters provide an enlightening understanding of the what and the why that will equip you to amaze friends with your lucid conversation about China. Historically, China has important relationships with Japan (a former conqueror), and the dragons. You'll learn about that aspect of China before you dive into an exploration of technological development.

Shenkar does a great job of covering the waterfront. As I pondered specific pieces of the China puzzle, our author provided the answers. Relationships with American companies, job migration, and possible scenarios for the future. I can not testify that this is a complete book - I'm sure there are a number of subjects that Shenkar didn't cover. However, what he does cover in this book will give you an invaluable understanding of China: its people, its potential, its problems, and its power.

What you learn in the pages of this book will alter your view of the world and stimulate your thinking about your future. Regardless of your position in life or where you live on the planet, your future will be influenced by what is happening in China today. Read this book - soon - or be doomed to follow or disappear from the picture altogether. The choice is yours.

Don't Just Relate - Advocate
Glen Urban
Wharton Business School Publishing
ISBN: 0131913611, $27.95, 234 pages

Customer Service Application of Relationship Selling

The premise of this book is simple: trust and relationships. The author's contention is that we are in an era of customer power. Customers have numerous choices of where they shop - and where they buy - for practically all their goods and services. This highly desirable situation, from the position of the buyer, can be challenging for the seller. No longer can companies take customers - or customer loyalty - for granted. A new design is called for.

The new theory, postulated by Glen Urban, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, is customer advocacy. He calls his approach "Theory A - for advocacy. The concept is disarmingly simple, but is explained in over 200 pages. Put simply, relationships are not enough by themselves. You must build sufficient trust with your customer that you can legitimately advocate for your customer - taking the customer's best interest position in providing the right merchandise and service at all times.

To achieve this position, truly working on behalf of the trusting customer, takes a culture change in most organizations. Leadership development is key to success of Theory A, as is cross-cultural cooperation. In his book, Urban shows the reader how to accomplish these changes in an organization to become customer advocates.

Career Coaching: An Insider's Guide
Marcia Bench
Davies-Black Publishing
ISBN: 0891061843, $34.95, 392 pages

Explanation of the field, from an industry leader

The profession of personal coaching has exploded over the past decade, following the establishment of the field by the late Thomas Leonard, founder of CoachU. A number of sub-categories of the profession have been developed by specialists who began their own educational programs, bodies of knowledge, and certifications. Marcia Bench is one of those specialists, concentrating on the vital field of career coaching.

In addition to her personal coaching of hundreds of clients, Bench formed the Career Coach Institute, a virtual training organization pioneering this part of the coaching field. The Institute was founded in 2001; this book was published in 2003 to share Bench's perspectives, positioning, and body of knowledge.

The first part of the book is devoted to a thorough explanation of coaching and, more specifically, career coaching. While the focus is on individual professionals coaching individual private clients, the concept has broader application in working with students, recent graduates, and corporate employees.

Bench and her followers emphasize what they call "authentic vocations." Their design includes eight factors: life purpose; values; motivators and interests; knowledge, skills, and abilities; work and other expertise; job/career targets; work environment; and business reality. Each of these factors is discussed in a separate chapter.

For anyone in the field of career coaching, or considering the field, this book is a valuable resource.

Bath Pond
Lowell Teal
Oakhill Press
1647 Cedar Grove Rd., Winchester, VA 22603
ISBN: 1886939705, $14.95, 337 pages

Heartwarming, touching, hard to put down

I'm a reviewer of business books. I don't read much outside that genre, because I haven't really found that many books that really seem worth my time. A friend suggested I read Bath Pond, and I felt uncomfortable right away. "Bath Pond," what kind of title is that? What am I getting into? But, friendship being what it is, I agreed.

Almost from the beginning, I was pulled into this book. The writing style is easy to flow with - almost too contrived in the dialog in a few places. But, captivating! I'll admit to actually giving up some work time to return to the pages of this historical novel. When tears begin to well up just from reading words on a page, something's happening. This writer has a way of engaging the reader that makes this book worthy of my highest recommendation.

The storyline is the tale of a family growing up in Florida in the Depression and the decades that followed. From literally having nothing but each other, a young couple build an inspiring life in the cattle, farming, and citrus business that characterizes Florida's history. Joy and tragedy take the reader on a roller-coaster ride of real-life experiences that are vividly portrayed. I found myself emotionally involved a number of times, even when trying to be dispassionate about my reading. Teal obviously used his background - growing up in the environment he writes about - to good measure.

A book I tried to avoid became a favorite. For some great appreciation of a slice of history rarely seen, a very human story of people so real you can almost talk with them,

and an opportunity to reflect on your own life, read Bath Pond.

Roger E. Herman, Reviewer

Sharon's Bookshelf

Garden Stone
Barbara Pleasant
Storey Books
210 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175449 $19.95

Garden Stone: Creative Ideas, Practical Projects, And Inspiration For Purely Decorative Uses by expert gardening and award-winning gardening writer Barbara Pleasant showcases garden stonework from gardens in all parts of North America illustrating what can be done in diverse geographical locations and climates. Instructional line drawings provide the reader with a wealth of practical, applicable information to devise, develop, and construct their own garden oriented stone projects. Enhanced with more than 50 photo portraits and descriptions highlighting plants that are especially effective when used in the company of stone, Garden Stone offers instructive advice on using stone when creating steps, walls, boundary definitions, and mood settings for gardens. More than 40 projects are presented to illustrate the manifold uses of stone to beautify the garden and give opportunity for gardeners to reveal their own unique and enduring artistic expressions. Garden Stone is a welcome and specialized addition to any personal, professional, or community library Gardening/Landscaping reference book collection.

Warren Kimble American Folk Artist
Warren Kimble
Landauer Corporation
12251 Maffitt Road, Cumming, IA 50061-1009
189062134X $24.95 1-800-557-2144

Subtitled "His Life, His Art & Collections with Inspirations and Patterns for Creative American Folk Crafts", Warren Kimble American Folk Artist is a 144-page pictorial showcase of Warren Kimble's gallery and museum shop in Brandon, Vermont. A part of the "Signature Artist Series" from the Landauer Corporation, Warren Kimble American Folk Artist showcases the artistic wit and whimsy of one of American's foremost living folk artists and is nicely organized into four section: "Warren Kimble: Introduction" providing a biographical overview of his life and accomplishments with a text enhanced by personal photographs, "Art" covering his projects depicting animals, fruits, florals, landscapes, seascapes, and Red, White & Blue patriotic themes, "Antiques & Collectibles", and "Folk Crafts & Inspirations". Profusely and wonderfully illustrated throughout with full color photography, Warren Kimble American Folk Artist will serve as an effective and informative introduction to the life and work of a unique and imaginative contemporary American artist. Highly recommended and thoroughly enjoyable reading!

The Adventures Of Pinocchio
Carlo Collodi & Roberto Innocenti
The Creative Company
123 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001
1568461909 $19.95 1-800-445-6209

Carolo Colloid is the pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini (1826-1890), an Italian journalist whose translations of French fairy tales in the late 1870s became so popular that he wrote his own, "Le Avventure di Pinocchio" (The Adventures of Pinocchio) in 1881 which went on to become a children's classic around the world and in 1940 was the basis for the animated film by Walt Disney. Now a new edition of this magnificent and imaginative fairy tale has been superbly illustrated by Roberto Innocenti with intricate artwork of museum gallery quality. This is the original story that includes all of Pinocchio's travels including getting ambushed by vile assassins, strung up in a tree, drowned in the sea, nursed back to health by a beautiful blue-haired fairy, slaying a large serpent through laughter, chained up as a dog to catch thieving weasels, arrested for fighting with classmates, almost eaten by a ravenous fisherman, saving a great mastiff and being saved by the mastiff in return, morphing into a performing donkey, flying on the back of a pigeon, getting swallowed by a gigantic shark, saving Geppetto's life, and so much more that most readers will be completely unaware of if the only contact they've had with this sophisticated story is the Disney movie and the abbreviated children's picture book versions. This simply outstanding and enthusiastically recommended edition of The Adventures Of Pinocchio does full and complete justice to the wonder and storytelling skills that originally made the life and travails of a wooden puppet brought to life so universally beloved.

The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook
American Cancer Society
American Cancer Society Press
1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
0944235379 $24.95 1-800-ACS-2345

A vital part of treating cancer and preventing its recurrence is a diet of healthy, nourishing food that is properly prepared. Now the American Cancer Society has produced a compendium of hundreds of recipes that are particularly suited for purpose. Each recipes is a low-fat delight offering substantive nutritional value, variety, and taste. The recipes comprising The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook range from Mozzarella-Vegetable Canapes; Moscow Borscht; Yogurt Tomato Salad; Fruited Chicken Breasts; and Fillet of Sole with Dill Sauce; to Stuffed Shells with Beef and Tomato Sauce; Sesame Kebobs; Caribbean Chili; Sweet Potatoes with Apples; English Muffin Loaves; and Blueberry Peach Crisp. Enhanced with health tips, cooking ideas, healthy food substitutions, and cancer screening guidelines, The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook is a "user friendly" and welcome addition to any kitchen cookbook collection, but especially recommended for families having to deal with cancer and its aftermath.

Sharon Stuart

Sullivan's Bookshelf

Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity
David Bodanis
Crown Pulishers
ISBN: 1400045509, $24.00, 308 pages/indexed

"When the universe was very young," writes Bodanis, "in the first moments after th Big Bang, powerful charged electrons began to pour out of the swirling furnace that filled empty space. Many became part of simple hydrogen atoms that tumbled through the cosmos and ended up within huge stars." And thus the story of electricity begins.

Electricity is created when one or more of the negatively charged electrons that usually orbit the positively charged nucleus within an atom are pulled away and sent in another direction. This is merely the reviewer's over simplified understanding, after perusing the book under discussion, of how electricity really works. Naturally, the explanation totally ignores electrical fields, waves, and other electrical phenomena. The book, though,will fill any reader's knowledge gaps and do it in a fun, nonacademic, yet understandable way.

The word 'shocking' in the volume's subtitle is a double entendre, mostly tongue in cheek. The stories told of the developers of electricity, however, are serious and downright interesting. The author relays information about Volta and his electric battery and William Sturgeon and his magnet. With that device, as the tale continues, Joseph Henry entertained and got the attention of his unruly, but curious, students.

The book then details the great communicators of their day: Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone, Samuel Morse and his telegraph, and Cyrus Field and his transatlantic underwater cable used to communicate with the rest of the world. Of course, they all had to deal with electricity.

Not to be overlooked, and Bodanis doesn't, are the scientists Edison, Faraday, Hertz, Maxwell, Turing, and several others all of whose developments came about thanks to electricity. And the stories continue with the more modern applications of electricity, or electronics, in radio, radar, television, and computers. Bodanis also elaborates on the uses of electricity in animal and human brains.

Unlike other books of this kind, in which readers never learn what became of the principal players in the story, Bodanis has a separate section near the book's end that briefly completes the person's story. Moreover, his endnotes are well written, interesting, and worth reading, too.

A Chicagoan by birth, Bodanis now lives in London. He taught at Oxford Unversity for several years. His most recent earlier book was the acclaimed E=MC2.


Confessions of an Ecnomic Hit Man
John Perkins
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 1576753018, $24.95, 250 pages/indexed

The author refers to himself as an EHM, an Economic Hit Man. This is an allusion to a Mafia hit man. But Perkins didn't shoot people with a gun. He did, however, impact heads of state by causing enomous sums of money to be thrust at them in the form of large develoment loans.

Perkins briefly begins the tale telling of his normal, and somewhat sheltered, youth and early schooling. But primarily he writes about his work life during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, down to the present.

Immediately upon graduation from college in 1968, he served a year in Ecuador, South America for the Peace Corps, at that time a new U.S. volunteer service. Then, by dint of his coincidental meeting with some well-connected individuals, he's offered a position with an international economic consultiing firm called MAIN.

For that firm, Perkins went around the globe to various underdeveloped countries, like Indonesia, Panama, Columbia, and Iran. In each, he'd spend time doing economic research on that country's electric needs. Based on his and colleagues' wildly optimistic projected industrial growth patterns as those countries were developed to their fullest capacity, he would propose large and expensive electrical grid requirements.

Such a forecast would then justify immense loans to that country. Once the borrowing occurred, that nation's leaders, and its citizens, would be beholden to the U.S. global empire: in other words, to its corportions, its banks, and its government. The author refers to that emprie as the 'corporatocracy.'

When need be, borrowers, particularly that country's leaders, who grew wealthy, albeit illegally, as a matter of course in the loan pocess, would also provide any and all favors requested of them by the corporatocracy. In short, the leaders had been, in effect, bought.

For those country's leaders who saw such money lending for what it really was, bribery, and refused it, jackals, CI¸ operatives, would come into the country and convince those leaders that the best course of action was to borrow the money offered or else. And, finally, if that tactic didn't work, armed invasion could and often would happen to that country.

Of course, when those major loans were made to undeveloped countries, to fulfill Perkins' fantasy forecasts for economic growth, the IMF, the World Bank, and the other international lending institutions were the primary money sources. Everyone knew the gigantic loans could never be paid off. But this, from the '60s onward, had become the preferred U.S. method of waging the war for global empire. Remember that the 'Cold War' was raging at this time.

After a nation defaulted on its big loans, that country's common citizens suffered the most. The poor people had to live with the austerities imposed by the international lenders.

Once Perkins finally realized just who was getting hurt, his conscience got the better of him, and he resigned his job. Eventually, he decided that the best thing he could possibly do to help poor citizens of undeveloped countries was to tell his story.

But is it true? Newspaper headlines and history would seem to bear him out. Proving it through documention, though, might be difficult. Yet the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.

He writes, "[...] The book was dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been my clients, whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits--Jamie Roldos, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMs failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in."

Today, John Perkins lectures on the subjects in this volume and on peace matters. The author, incidentally, had a difficult time, for obvious reasons no doubt, to find a mainline (please excuse the reference to 'main') publisher to accept the manuscript and to print it. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. courageously stepped in to do the job.

Highly recommended.

Jim Sullivan

Taylor's Bookshelf

Introduction to Christianity
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
1586170295 $16.95 1-800-651-1531

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and well-known theologian, presents Introduction to Christianity, a simple discourse of Christianity's basic precepts combined with a thorough understanding of Scripture and the history of theology. Written in straightforward contemporary language ideal for the lay reader, Introduction to Christianity addresses biblical beliefs, the doctrine of redemption through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and basic tenets of the creed in Jesus Christ, and many other basic topics relevant to core Christian beliefs. Topical and scriptural indexes round out this valuable, down-to-earth summary of great use to anyone interested in learning more about Christianity, including those who have been surrounded by it all their lives but who want to come to a better understanding from the simplest concepts and their origins onward.

The Circle of Life
Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
Sorin Books
PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0428
1893732827 $19.95 1-800-282-1865

The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons is a deeply spiritual work of reverence and worship that draws upon the cycle of Earth's four seasons as a means of connecting with its sacred center. Poems, brief song verses, color illustrations, meditations, thoughts for rekindling one's faith, questions for individual reflection and more compose this guide for finding the divine all around, and offering its profound message of love, respect, wonder, and praise for life to readers of all faiths. "Teardrops of Growth": April is soaking the world / with her spring tears. / They patter softly on the roof, / clinging to silent windows. / Gently they fall into soil / diligently turned / and ready for watering...

A Down To Earth Bible Study For Growing In God's Kingdom
Joanne Taylor
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
0899571441 $12.97 1-800-266-4977

Using the metaphor of the garden, A Down To Earth Bible Study For Growing In God's Kingdom by Joanne Taylor (a dedicated Christian who creates and maintains gardens for her clients in the suburbs of Philadelphia and teaches inner-city children the joys of gardening though the "Grow in Peace" program) is unique biblical studies workbook that combines day-to-day gardening tips with biblical concepts with the gardening oriented imagery, language, and tasks of reaping and sowing, weathering storms, planting seeds, etc. Twelve "reader friendly" Bible lessons comprising this novel but effective approach for non-specialist general students. The include "The Master Gardener", "The Seeds of Success", "God's Majestic Landscapes", "The Forces of Nature", Enemies in the Garden", "The Need for Pruning", "Hardscapes", "Homegrown", "Garden Talk", "Edible Gardens", "Seasons Come and Seasons Grow", and "Get Ready to Grow!". A consumable workbook, A Down To Earth Bible Study For Growing In God's Kingdom is ideal for either small group or individual adult biblical studies. Also available from AMG Publishers and very highly recommended to the Christian community is My Prayer-Buddy Journal (0899570666, $10.99).

Spiritual But Not Religious?
Reid B. Locklin
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
0814630030 $13.95 1-800-858-5450

Written by a theologist who teaches in the Christianity and Culture Program at Saint Michael's College, University of Toronto, Spiritual But Not Religious? An Oar Stroke Closer to the Farther Shore, is an exploration of diversely plural religious beliefs. Inviting the contemplative individual to consider institutions such as the Christian church and other religious institutions not as obstacles to knowing faith, but as rafts that gradually bring one an oar stroke closer to the farthest shore. A profound contemplation and mediation of differing specifics in pursuit of a general goal - reverence and love for the Divine.

On The Holy Icons
St. Theodore the Studite; Catharine P. Roth, translator
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
575 Scarsdale, Road, Crestwood, NY 10707-1699
0913836761 $10.95 1-800-204-2665

Written by St. Theodore the Studite during the iconoclastic controversy of the eighth-ninth century, On The Holy Icons is a powerful rebuttal of iconoclasm with profound repercussions to the present day. St. Theodore argued passionately that to reject the Christian veneration of images is to deny God's incarnation, which is what makes human salvation possible; to say the Christ cannot be portrayed is to say that He was not truly man, and humanity was not truly united with God in Him. An introduction and a select bibliography round out this enduring text, which is divided into three intense refutation of iconoclasts. A serious-minded and faithful work of theology that grappled with a pressing spiritual issue of its era and truly survives the test of time; very highly recommended for church libraries and theology reference shelves.

Spirituality Of The Beatitudes
Michael H. Crosby
Orbis Books
PO Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308
1570755493 $20.00

Originally published in 1981 and now in a newly revised edition, Spirituality Of The Beatitutdes: Matthew's Vision For The Church In An Unjust World by Capuchin-Franciscan priest Michael H. Crosby explores the message of Jesus Christ in terms directly relevant to the late 20th century and beyond. Especially revealing the meaning and essence of Matthew's Gospel, Spirituality Of The Beatitudes reveals in depth the philosophies and some contradicting opinions concerning the classic and well-known refrains, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (notes point out that Matthew was exceptional in his conviction that doing good works led those of wavering or little faith to salvation); "Blessed are the nonviolent; they will inherit the Earth"; "Blessed are the peacemakers; they will be called the children of God" and more. The discussions, although sometimes evaluating complex ideals and varied scriptural and historical resources, are fully accessible to lay readers. A welcome contribution to spirituality and Christian studies shelves.

Discovering Saint Patrick
Thomas O'Loughlin
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809143607 $18.95

Written by a theology lecturer at the University of Wales, Lampeter, Discovering Saint Patrick is a religious and biographical study of Saint Patrick, that strives to understand as much as possible about his life, his impact on history, how he influenced the development of Irish Catholicism, and much more. Thoroughly researched, drawing heavily on original sources as well as directly from scripture, Discovering Saint Patrick approaches the life and times of the famous saint with a scholarly eye for detail and as much corroboration and verification as reasonably possible. A welcome contribution to church libraries and biographical collections of holy figures, and a "must-read" for anyone who is curious to understand what St. Patrick's Day is really all about.

1 Enoch: A New Translation
George W. E. Nickelsburg & Jacs C. VanderKam
Fortress Press
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
0800636945 $16.00

The collaborative effort of George W. E. Nickelsburg (Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa) and James C. VanderKam (John A. O'Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures, University of Notre Dame, Indiana), 1 Enoch: A New Translation is an invaluable work and a welcome addition to Biblical Studies. Based on the Hermeneia commentary, 1 Enoch is divided into five sections, followed by two brief appendices: The Book of the Watchers, The Book of Parables, The Book of the Luminaries, The Dream Visions, The Epistle of Enoch, The Birth of Noah, and Another Book by Enoch. Different sections portray the evolution of stages of Enochic tradition, which are linked by a common world view that considers the present world incurably corrupt and unjust, in need of divine judgment and renewal. Claiming to transmit divine revelation, as given to Enoch in primordial times and made public in the last days to perpetuate the community of the chosen, 1 Enoch is translated with every effort to present ancient writings as clearly and intelligibly to the reader as possible. Extensive footnotes, annotations and reference allow this complex script to be comprehensible to lay readers (with effort), and 1 Enoch: A New Translation is an enthusiastically recommended primary source for religious studies and reference shelves.

The Bible and the Business of Life
Simon Holt and Gordon Preece, editors
Australian Theological Forum Press
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
1920691243 $25.00 1-800-758-3756

The Bible and the Business of Life is an anthology of essays by a variety of authors celebrating the 65th birthday of Robert Banks, and honor his retirement as Director of Macquarie Christian Studies Institute at Macquarie University. Grouped into three categories of exegesis, ecclesiology, and everyday life, the essays include "'Hallowed Be Your Name' (Matt 6:9): Reflections on the First Petition of the Lord's Prayer", "All Are Called: The Universal Vocation of the People of God", "Domestic Spirituality: Jonathan Edwards on Love, Marriage and Family Life" and many more. Scholarly in their evaluation of sometimes complex canonical, theological, and spiritual topics, The Bible and the Business of Life is a welcome and timely contribution to Christian studies shelves due to its scrutiny being grounded in the perspective of the twenty-first century yet willing to learn from the wisdom of history.

Pope Benedict XVI
H. J. Fischer
The Crossroad Publishing Company
481 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1550, New York, NY 10001
0824523725 $19.95 1-800-395-0690

Heinz-Joachim Fischer is the leading Vatican journalist and Rome correspondent for one of Germany's premiere daily newspapers. With Pope Benedict XVI: A Personal Portrait, Fischer provides an informed and informative first-hand account of the new Pope's astonishing life and ministry. From simple, humble believer, Joseph Ratzinger, the man who became Pope Benedict XVI evolved into a world respected theologian, a Cardinal of the Church, the unwavering Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a primary confident of the late John Paul II. A theologically trained correspondent, Fischer proves himself to be an ideal biographer of the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church as he presents the history of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger for three decades, culminating in his being elevated to the Papacy, facing the problems and opportunities for the Catholic Church in the 21st Century. Both professionally and personally, Fischer knows the new Pope very well, and is able to place life story of the new Pope within the intricacies of Vatican City and the Catholic Church with an insider's insights. Pope Benedict XVI is very highly recommended reading, especially for those not yet acquainted with the life story of the newest Roman Catholic Pope.

Catholic Schools Then and Now
Mary Reardon
Badger Books Inc.
PO Box 192, Oregon, WI 53575
1932542116 $16.95 1-800-928-2372

Written by a journalist and graduate of St. Mary's College, Catholic Schools Then and Now is a straightforward discussion and description of Catholic schools in the twenty-first century, intended especially for parents of all faiths who may be considering a Catholic school education for their children. Describing some surprising changes in the focus of Catholic schools - which are less "villain" focused today and emphasize love for all rather than the militant protection of the Faith in Protestant country - Catholic Schools Then and Now is filled with vignettes and answers from Catholic school teachers and workers concerning everything from religious beliefs taught to basic curriculum to responses to the September 11th attacks. A "School Compatibility list" of key questions parents are encouraged to ask of Catholic school administrators, such as "What complaints or issues has the parent group raised in the past five years?" and "What is taught about abortion/birth control/homosexuality?" is an extremely useful tool for illuminating whether a specific school is right for an individual family. An inset collection of black-and-white photographs rounds out this "must-read" introduction strongly recommended for anyone who needs to learn more about what Catholic schools are like today.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Galt Publishing
PO Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327
1-818-360-0985, fax 818-363-3111,

Doug Thorburn specializes in identifying early-stage addictions to drugs and alcohol. Founder of the PrevenTragedy Foundation (which is dedicated to preventing the tragic results of progressive alcoholism), Thorburn draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to write four critically important books on the subject of alcoholism. Alcoholism Myths And Realities: Removing The Stigma Of Society's Most Destructive Disease (0967578825, $14.95) explores and debunks more than one hundred commonly held myths about alcohol and drug addition including the popular misconceptions that alcoholics lack willpower, that proper parenting and involvement can prevent alcoholism, that successful people can't be alcoholics, and that being an alcoholic can explain all of a person's failures in life. How To Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues To Recognize Addiction In Its Early Stages (0967578868, $14.95) considers why most attempts by alcoholics to stop drinking end in failure and relapse. Thorburn lays out all of the "early warning signs" of alcoholism including lying or twisted logic, belittling others, being unusually accident prone, assigning inappropriate blame to others, and encountering recurrent financial difficulties. Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How To Recognize Addicts And Avoid Financial Abuse (0967578833, $19.95) reveals that we all have been and are affected by people with addictive behaviors and conditions. The reader learns how entire fortunes can be lost due to becoming involved with alcoholics and other drug addicts. Why non-addicts must uncompromisingly disenable and deny anyone as soon as addiction is indicated. Thorburn goest on to provide sixty behaviors, signs and symptoms of addiction to help the reader protect against financial devastation at the hands of an alcoholic or addict, including what actions to take when separating one's financial life from that of the alcoholic or addict. Get Out Of The Way!: How To Identify And Avoid A Drive Under The Influence (0967578841, $12.95) should be considerd required reading in every high-school driver education program in the country. Drunk drivers take an hourly toll of shattered lives and brutal deaths every day and night of the year. Now readers will discover how to identify and avoid the one out of every fifty vehicles on the road being driven by someone legally under the influence of alcohol; how to observe inconsiderate road behaviors and avoid being a victim of them, how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the most dangerous drivers on the road; why "road rage" is just someone having a bad day; and why alcoholic beverages and many prescription medicines can cause destructive behaviors directed at family members, coworkers, and the other drivers on our nation's highways. All four of these outstanding and strongly recommended titles are written in thoroughly accessible language ideal for the non-specialist general readers. No community library system should be without their own copies of Alcoholism Myths And Realities; How To Spot Hidden Alcoholics; Drunks, Drugs And Debits; and Get Out Of The Way!

Holiness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages
P.H. Cullum and Katherine J. Lewis
University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 2W8
0802048927 $27.50 1-800-565-9523

Holiness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages is a compilation of scholarly essays that examine medieval masculinity and identity in a religious, spiritual, sanctified or "holy" context. Sample writings include "Matronly Monks: Theodoret of Cyrrhus' Sexual Imagery in the Historia Religiosa", "Holy Eunuchs! Masculinity and Eunuch Saints in Byzantium", "The Significance of the Tonsure", and more. A handful of black-and-white illustrations and extensive notes and research underscore these meticulously thought-out discussions of masculinity in medieval times as a source of validation or anxiety. An eye-opening view of medieval culture, and a welcome balance to more numerous discussions of "holy" femininity in medieval times.

Graphs Maps Trees
Franco Moretti
180 Varick Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10014-4606
1844670260 $26.00 1-800-233-4830

Graphs Maps Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary Theory is a bold and revolutionary approach to literary scholarship. Stanford University literature teacher Franco Moretti argues passionately that for too long, those who study literature have restricted themselves to a narrow handful of canon texts, thus allowing their view of literary history to be terribly distorted by a skewed sample base. Instead, Moretti claims, the discipline should start charting, graphing, and mapping themes and trends of larger literature samples, in order to systematically reveal trends and a larger picture. Drawing heavily on research and seamlessly blending the critical objectivity of mathematics with more traditional forms of literary evaluation, Graphs Maps Trees is a breath of fresh air and enthusiastically recommended for college literary studies and reference shelves, due to its daring challenge to the status quo.

Printer's Type in the Twentieth Century
Richard Southall
Oak Knoll Press
310 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720-5038
1584561556 $59.95 1-800-996-2556

Written by Richard Southall, who has engaged in publishing about type and typography since the 1960s, Printer's Type in the Twentieth Century: Manufacturing and Design Methods is a scholarly examination the past hundred years on the industry of type manufacture. In the last years of the nineteenth century, type manufacture transformed from an individualized craft to an industrial process, and complex mechanical systems to create text quickly arose into being. Yet a century later, with the advent of laser printers and image-setters, type manufacture became a craft process once again, this time with computer displays and software taking the place of physical metal parts with letters stamped into them. Printer's Type in the Twentieth Century covers the evolution of everything from hand punch-cutting through hot metal to laser image-setting and the PostScript revolution, with numerous typeface samples to illustrate its points. Not content merely to recite events of modern history, Printer's Type in the Twentieth Century also offers theoretical views on the evolution of type and typography, as well as scholarly narration. A superb resource, history, and repository of vision for anyone with a keen interest in the type and typesetting fields.

On Assignment
Esther Bubley
20 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010-4463
193178857X $35.00 1-800-929-2323

On Assignment is a collection of black-and-white and a few color photographs by Esther Bubley, one of America's leading photojournalists who free-lanced for national magazines from the 1940's to the 1960's. Enhanced with a narrative essay describing the working and daily life of a photojournalist in an era before television became as prolific as it is today, On Assignment is remarkable in how its images perfectly capture the subjects, from stills depicting a life-saving emergency tracheotomy to work at a Pepsi-cola refinery to the gracious opportunity for a rare portraits around the home allowed to her by renowned genius Albert Einstein. An emotional, vivid, and exquisitely memorable monograph.

Sinners & Saints
Anthony Gayton
Te Neues Publishing Company
16 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010
3832790438 $50.00 1-800-352-0305

Sinners & Saints is a compendium of homeo-erotic images in which photographer Anthony Gayton pays homage to the iconography of the male in the tradition of pictorialist photography. From romanticized mythic imagery, to Victorian style nudes, to stylized contemporary pin-ups, the visual theme of eternal masculine beauty and desire is provided from beginning to end without textual interruption. Enhanced with a bi-lingual essay on "Youth, Beauty And Desire: The Photographic Work of Anthony Gayton" by Peter Weiermair, Sinners & Saints is an impressive body of work and a recommended addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library 20th Century Photography collections.

House Framing
John D. Wagner
Creative Homeowner Press
24 Park Way, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
158011235 $19.95 1-800-631-7795

House Framing: Plan, Design, Build by housing construction expert John Wagner clearly and coherently lays out illustrated construction techniques that will enable any do-it-yourself enthusiast to built a room addition, install windows and doors, finish a basement, create a shed, or construct a garage. More than 55 detailed step-by-step construction techniques are enhanced with more than 750 photos and illustrations that guide the reader through every layout and framing process. In addition to framing techniques for building floors, walls, and roofs, as well as "how to" information on steel framing, stairs, windows, and doors, the reader is provided with up-to-date information on the best tools and materials for their building project. House Framing is a welcome and invaluable addition to any personal or community library Architecture, Design & Construction reference collection.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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