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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 8 August 2012 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Ann's Bookshelf Applegate's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf
Crocco's Bookshelf Daniel's Bookshelf Don Martin's Bookshelf
Duncan's Bookshelf Esther's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Harwood's Bookshelf Heidi's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf
Katherine's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Maria Ryan's Bookshelf Marjorie's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf
Mira's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Riva's Bookshelf
Sandra's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

How to Tell a Story and Other Essays
Mark Twain
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016
0195114183, $29.95,

Deacon Solomon

Mark Twain's How to Tell a Story and Other Essays was no ordinary book. It was a Hail Mary play. The Oxford Mark Twain facsimile edition of How to Tell a Story improves on the original.

Driven to bankruptcy in 1894, Twain set out to pay his debts and rebuild his fortune. He was hampered in that effort by a series of unhappy events, being stricken with grief in 1896 by the death of his most beloved daughter, Suzy, among them. How to Tell a Story is an attempt at humor, a collection of essays thrown together in the midst of Twain's emotional moil and published as a book in 1897. Received by the public with middlin' acclaim, sales of the book nevertheless helped the Twain family sleep under a roof until finally, in 1898, they were rescued from ruin with the help of Mr. H. H. Rogers (on the board at Standard Oil). Not to make too much of that, we see there that some benefits did attach to being 'America's most-beloved author'.

As originally published, How to Tell a Story (HTS) comprised eight essays. The first of them is titular: "How to Tell a Story" uses 10 pages to discuss technical differences between writing a shaggy dog for enjoyment by readers and telling a shaggy dog in front of a live audience. The joke there is that the two efforts at telling the same story entail entirely different narrative tactics.

The book's second offering is "In Defence of Harriet Shelley." This one is a lengthy demolition of Prof. Edward Dowden's 1886 attempt at a biography of English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Twain's beef with Dowden was the biographer's mealy-mouthed attempt to cover Shelley's sexual misadventures by painting Shelley's first wife, Harriet (a child bride aged 16) scarlet. Dowden laid all the blame for Shelley's contemptible excesses in the middle of Harriet's innocent bed.

In doing so, Twain was justified: Dowden's treatment of Shelley and his first wife is more than grossly unfair. Dowden's Life of Shelley is as greasy and craven a piece of hagiography as I'd ever want to see. But (for this writer) beating that same horse over and over across 76 pages made Twain's case tiresome rather than funny. Long before Twain was done, I began to feel that Twain looked as much the ass as he sought to make of Dowden and Shelley.

The third essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences," is truly funny. It is a rich chortle made richer by the fact that its seemingly hyperbolic charges are all perfectly true. I first read James Fenimore Cooper at my mother's knee. Revisiting that experience some years ago, I couldn't be sure my ol' Ma inflicted Cooper upon me because his stories were some of her childhood favorites or if she wanted to scare her little boy away from Walt Disney's equally awful Davy Crockett.

Be that as it may, many of today's Americans know Cooper only from watching The Last of the Mohicans, the 1992 romantic film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe. Many of today's readers, never having read his books, probably have no idea how horrid a novelist Fenimore Cooper actually was. For them, Mark Twain explains it all in fine detail across 25 pages. "Literary Offences" is easily the most amusing essay in HTS.

Other works included are "Traveling with a Reformer," "Private History of the 'Jumping Frog' Story," "Mental Telegraphy Again," "What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us," and "A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget." Of course today's general readers probably know less about Paul Bourget than they know of the poet Shelley and care no more about Mark Twain's beef with Prof. Edward Dowden than they care about other 19th-century authorial cat fights. That's why it's a good thing The Oxford Mark Twain edition of HTS features an introductory essay by David Bradley and an afterword by Pascal Covici, Jr.

Bradley's 'Introduction' provides a wryly humorous and keenly perceptive take on how childhood exposure to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn set him on a long path that led him (as a young man) to eschew the concoction of racist polemics and become an author, instead. Passionate writers of whatever stripe, if they're in search of a voice and an audience, should heed David Bradley. Covici's 'Afterword' illuminates the tales and essays that appear in HTS, helping readers make sense of them by explaining the context that sparked their creation.

Solomon sez: The Oxford Mark Twain edition of How to Tell a Story and Other Essays is a useful book even if it isn't the funniest thing I ever read. As the title hints, HTS is chock-full of good, solid advice for budding writers. But in the year 2012, HTS wouldn't read near so well without the contributions of Covici and Bradley. It is in their essays as much or more than in the work of Twain himself where the strength of this edition resides. Four stars for a good, profitable read.

Missing in Mexico
Stuart Gustafson
9780977172740, $14.95 hc
B004HW6FIS, $2.99 ebook

Aaron Paul Lazar, Reviewer

Missing in Mexico is a fine first novel, filled with a genuine sense of place and easy-to-read prose. Many debut novelists fall prey to overwritten prose with too many adverbs or adjectives, excessive "telling," and laborious narratives. Mr. Gustafson has, for the most part, avoided those traps, and does a good job of simply telling the story in a natural style. Gustafson also includes a bit of education at the beginning of each chapter, where he provides us with a simple Spanish lesson. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel because although I've studied French and German, I'd only taken on semester of Spanish in high school and the memory-jogging was fun.

When Robert and Tina Johnson visit Mexico with their daughter Sarah and her best friend Mary, they had no premonition of the impending horror they were about to endure. When the joint vacation is over, they leave the girls (both college freshmen) to enjoy a few extended days in Los Cabos, an area they deemed quite safe, knowing the girls needed a little time to unwind before returning to college after Christmas break.

When Mary gets on the plane with Sarah right behind her, she's shocked when the girl doesn't show after making a beeline for a last minute purchase. The plane leaves without Sarah, and the mystery begins.

Did Sarah miss the plane on purpose? Or did someone kidnap her? Is she alive? Or dead? The most important question, however, is whether Stan Walkorski - the private eye the Johnson's hired - will find the girl in this strange but beautiful land.

The author has achieved a great start to his series here, buoyed by his extensive knowledge of the land of Los Cabos, Mexico. While his travel knowledge sometimes crept into the story a bit too often to maintain taut suspense (there was a long section about the art district that was interesting but not crucial to the story), in general the tension was well-maintained.

Gustafson makes his readers care about Sarah and her parents, who suffered dreadfully and imagined the worst every waking hour of their days that stretched from weeks to months; and also about the protagonist (Stan). I couldn't help but wonder, however, why he became involved with a woman he met on the plane who originated from the Los Cabos area, and then just let the woman go without really fighting to find her. (I really liked her and was very disappointed when that didn't work out and he started seeing a new woman he also met on the plane.). In real life, things like this do happen, so I chalked it up to the author's right to choose.

As a last note, I do believe the title is a real winner - how can anyone resist a mystery named "Missing in Mexico?" I'll be interested to see how this author progresses in his travel mystery series, and where he'll take us next!

Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse
James Wesley Rawles
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781439172827, $25.99,

Belle Ringer, Reviewer

I am extremely honored to have the privilege of providing you with a review of James Wesley Rawles' latest book, Founders, A Novel of the Coming Collapse. I am an avid fan of his writing, and from the moment I read his first book, I must credit him with giving me my wake-up call in a style that was meant to inform, not panic; to educate, not radicalize; and to give sound instruction on how to prepare for the impending disintegration of our country. And he has done it all in compelling stories that capture your imagination.

As I began this final novel in the Collapse trilogy, it dawned on me how the idea of "The Group" and a survival retreat in remote Idaho was such a foreign idea back in 2008. When we were introduced to Ken and Terry Layton in Patriots, they seemed on the fringes of the "Survival" movement. Were they visionaries, or merely extremists? Time has proven that both Rawles and his characters possessed clairvoyance.

In Founders, we now find the Laytons in the midst of the full-blown "Crunch", and executing their plan to reach the Idaho retreat. What I loved about reading this book was how skillfully Rawles has woven "teachable" moments into the riveting storyline. Through Ken and Terry's cross-country trek we are introduced to countless survival tips that we should consider and implement. If your circumstances could find you traveling long distance on foot, you would do well to pay attention to what they include in their backpacks; their methods of travel and how to avoid "refugees" on the road; and the way they barter their security services for room and board during the non-travelable winter months.

And true to form, the book abounds with other fascinating characters. There is Sheila Randall, the innovative owner of a microstore during the Crunch; Maynard Hutchings, who abdicates the sovereignty of America to become the head of the Provisional Government; Ben Fielding, a Messianic Jew and member of the Resistance; and Captain Andy Laine, our hero from Survivors, who agrees, along with his wife, Kaylee, to work undercover for the Resistance.

There are countless other personalities that contribute to the story, and demonstrate the mindset and skills that will be necessary to survive the very real collapse we are facing. For me, perhaps the most beneficial element of Founders, is the mental picture Rawles paints of just how this country might change when the economic collapse finally occurs. It helps me to visualize what that could look like; how the structure of this country might be reshaped and how we are most likely to respond. He vividly portrays what hyperinflation will look like with empty store shelves, a rush to buy tangibles; and a race to pay off mortgages with inflated dollars before the reset button is activated.

At first, there will be a "benevolent" new administration; a seemingly well-intentioned "Provisional Government" (PROVGOV). Then we begin to see controls gradually increase, and key industries and utilities "nationalized". Wage, price, currency and credit controls are instituted and the PROVGOV establishes a "New Army" to maintain domestic tranquility; only to find out that they are a foreign occupational force and the UN is calling the shots. This may be a novel of fiction, but it reads like the real world.

There will be Christians who planned on being raptured before this SHTF, and thought that prepping showed a lack of faith in God's providence. This is the same mindset that the people of Stalingrad held during WWII, and just like those poor souls, millions will starve and freeze during the first winter of the Crunch. And then there is the looting of America by the foreign UN-sponsored troops who are hired to "pacify" the "terrorist sympathizers" who don't agree to be taxed at 40%. The New Army then helps themselves to the priceless inventory of jewelers, coin dealers and gun shops across the U.S. All those that resist will be shot or arrested.

But don't think that Rawles leaves us without hope. There is the Resistance, and the author makes it quite plain that this type of totalitarian regime will fail in America for a multitude of reasons, including the spirit of liberty that resides in the bosom of every patriot. Never count us out, and never think you've defeated us. Like the patriots of '76, we know how to fight against foreign tyranny on our home soil. Rawles is able to capture that uniquely American resolve and you'll be proud of how we acquit ourselves. In the end, his novel leaves you with a portrait of our country in the far future-off that will both surprise you and confound you. And that's the goal of any good novel. Well done!

Julian of Norwich
Grace Jantzen
Paulist Press
987 Macarthur Boulevard
Mahwah, New Jersey 07430
0809139912X, $16.95,

CarrieAnn Marie Thunell

I selected this book to review because as a returning (prodigal) catholic, I have found it very instructional to read of the lives and writings of saints, and mystics. Author Grace Jantzen was born in 1948 and died of cancer in 2006. She was a feminist philosopher and theologian who held a professorship of religion, culture and gender at Manchester University from 1996 until her death.

She is known best for her book, Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion.

She is a very well qualified scholar and writes with insight, dedication, and curiosity.

Since little is known of the biographical details of her subject, Julian of Norwich, Grace Jantzen spends a great deal of time explaining the political, cultural, and religious climate that Julian lived in, the cultural gender restraints she would have struggled under, and the major events that were unfolding at that time, most notably, the Black Death. Of the Black Death, Ms. Jantzen notes that, " People died, horribly and suddenly, and in great numbers. It was so contagious that one contemporary witness describes how anyone who touched the sick or the dead immediately caught the disease and died himself, so that priests who ministered to the dying were flung into the same grave with their penitents." 1. P 7

The book is written in a scholarly, incisive style, and documents how Julian of Norwich spent her life developing a comprehensive theology that seeks to reconcile apparently irreconcilable contradictions.

Julian unflinchingly strove to reconcile the love of God as shown to her in 16 mystical visions and elaborated on by Christ in answer to her fervent requests for further illumination, with the teachings of Holy Mother Church on sin, suffering, and hell. She penned two famous documents to leave a record of her experiences and the theology that arose from them. The first was a quick sketch known as the Short Text of the Revelations of Divine Love, which very faithfully documented the content of her 16 visions. The second, the Long Text of the Revelations of Divine Love, was a much more detailed documentation with extensive commentary, written some 20 years later, after a lifetime of prayer, pondering, and meditation on the meanings of these visions. The development of Julian's understanding of the nature of God and the meaning of the cross, sin, and suffering is the subject of this book. Julian of Norwich was blessed with a series of extremely rare communications with God that took the form both of visions, and some sort of vocalizations or thoughts that were communicated to her when she expressed to God in prayer her grave difficulties in understanding, and her great desire for clarification. Her confusion and struggle in coming to terms with sin, suffering, and the church's teaching on hell is something shared by most Catholics and protestants alike. For this reason, we can learn much from studying what this great mystic learned over a lifetime of dedicated prayer in one of the most severe vocational callings, that of anchoress.

Put simply, an anchoress is one who agrees to live a lifetime of solitude in a small living quarters, and to dedicate one's entire life to prayer and meditation on God. The calling is more difficult, and more absolute in its demands, than the life of a nun or monk. One's living quarters are attached to a church, and one does not leave these living quarters until death. Food is brought and slipped through an opening into the anchorage by a maidservant. The anchoress is available to offer consultations to those seeking spiritual guidance for limited hours on certain days. She speaks and is spoken to through a veiled window. This is the only break in her solitude. Though the lifestyle is more extreme than most people would choose, her existential questions are universal questions that have plagued sincere Christians, and the answers she discovers can teach us much. The theology is one of great hope, faith, and love, and as such, can offer us much comfort.

This particular book is an ideal introduction to the person and background of Julian of Norwich that is beneficial to read before one delves into the actual texts of the Revelations of Divine Love. The author has done superlative detective work in reconstructing the times, place, gender restraints, cultural, religious, and political pressures in which Julian of Norwich would have lived. Almost no biographical data exists about the mystic herself, and Grace Jantzen offers several suppositions of what her life was likely to have been like. We do know she was an English woman, and is credited with penning the first book written by a woman in the English language. We also know she achieved this at a time and place in which it was very rare for any female to even receive a literary education. Much of who the mystic was we can only speculate, but we do have her teachings. We can safely say that the mystic was a very humble woman who felt her only purpose was to draw attention to God and offer teaching assistance on behalf of humanity's quest to know God better, and to this end, she chose to leave us with almost no details of herself. I recommend you read this book first, and then get a copy of the Revelations of Divine Love. Much spiritual illumination and consolation is offered in this material.

Verbatim: A Novel
Jeff Bursey
Enfield & Wizenty
345-955 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3G 0P9
9781926531038, $29.95,

Christopher WunderLee

When the culture wars are annexing just about everything, it should be apt for satire. But what appears missing from the current battle cries from both sides - Tea Partiers and Occupy any spot available - is that Swiftian figure cutting ribbons off vestments.

I've been waiting for a book to seize upon the tragicomedy of the boom years imploding and the subsequent monster hangover we're enduring. That book that captures the time definitively.

We have the wars. They've arguably gotten uglier and dirtier, with issues ranging from revenue to healthcare to privatization now cast with the vicious polarity once employed for abortion or gun rights or stem cell research. We have state legislatures all over the country turning into cage matches appropriate really only for pay-per-view. We have the party of obstruction and the party trying to stay in power, municipalities defaulting and towns going bankrupt, and amidst that, demands for no taxes, no abortions and Constitutional scripture squaring off against demands for taxes on the rich, same sex marriage and healthcare...

It escapes no one's attention that what these current 'wars' are indeed missing is culture.
Or, so I thought...

Then I came upon Verbatim: a Novel, an enthralling, nuanced work by Jeff Bursey. By feigning to be the actual legislative record of an unknown province, Verbatim offers an intimate, highly clever and comedic representation of the petty bickering, trickery, egos, and lack of will that plagues government proceedings, and just why we have bridges to nowhere, half-built schools, failing infrastructure and all the rage.

What's perfect about Verbatim is its accuracy - it sounds real, even while being hilarious.
Mr. Gascoigne: Speaker, thank you.

With the departure of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, and the passage of bills that will serve as a bulwark in times of hardship, as well as a boost to the general well-being of the populace, we can now move to have the adjournment motion called.

At this time, we would like to say, on this side, how we appreciate the efforts of those at the Table, our Clerk and other clerks, who, clerking away, something amidst our own clucking away, have always --

The entire narrative is presented as documentation, whether it is the record of the minutes of the legislature or the letters between departments. But this is no dry chronicle of every snort and every grumble and every trifling speech. Here, there are monologues, interruptions, corrections... all blended together so cleverly, Bursey captures the tone realistically and thematically.

Ms Muller: Whenever they start saying they represent the people I get suspicious, Speaker. They're the friends of businessmen. If the common people heard them abusing their name for political causes day after day in this House like we hear them, well, I, we - after what they did to the people when they were in power, they'd be Alliance Party members hung from every lamppost available.

Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Some Hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Speaker: Order, please! Order, please!

I find a lot of loud noise this afternoon. I've been trying to concentrate on ministers and members and their answers and questions and I - we allow a certain degree of levity in how far we range - in the activities in the Chamber, but this is too wide, and between shouts and private conversations it is difficult for the Chair to comprehend what is going on. I ask all hon. Members to understand the predicate of a deafened Chair is.
An Hon. Member: Good ruling, Speaker.

What we learn from the record is the legislators hardly deliberate legislation, things always quickly digress into pot shots and one-upmanship and retribution, and it makes for entertaining reading.

In Verbatim, you have all shades of the political spectrum well represented, along with their dogma and sleaziness. As in the world over, it's dominated by two opposing factions. In this case, the Social Progressives, ironically actually conservatives, versus the Alliance, the lefties. Within this context, representatives run the gamut of extreme to moderate, and it's Bursey's skills as a storyteller how we fashion an understanding of these differences.

Mr. Carew: I appreciate the joke, Chairperson, and I hope the Member for Brownsville sticks around. He may learn something.

I would like a few words on Bill No. 9, the health care boards act. According to a recent Globe & Mail we're ranked about -

Mr. Kimball: You don't pay attention to them, do you?

Mr. Carew: I'm sorry, I didn't catch the minister.

Mr. Kimball: You don't read that trash, do you? I'd be ashamed to quote them. They hate this Province.

Mr. Carew: If they do, you give them good reason. The Social Progressives are like a bad headache, a migraine that won't go away. But normally, usually, or at times, I say to the Minister of Finance, no, I don't read it.

But it did say we're not doing well any more. We're on a poor ride in the economy, and the Cabinet decides a way to save money by endangering the lives of our people...
Centrally, though, what's striking is no one present legislation, or champion a bill, or discuss the budget, without interruptions, clarifications, and of course, a policymaker from the other side trying to derail the whole thing. It's satire satirized.

Within this setting, there are suggestions of a sex scandal, corruption, an enormous mining opportunity that some believe will save the province if they just ignore environmental impacts and safety regulations all set amidst an environment of poverty, lack of healthcare, and a stagnate economy.

As a parallel to the real issues mired in politics, we also learn about the department tasked with reporting on the legislative session. Called Hansard, we quickly learn what a monumental, bureaucratic undertaking it is - Bursey's treatment of it would make the Kafka of The Trial grin, and Joseph Heller would have notably giggled.

To: All Members and Staff of the House of Parliamentary Legislators.
From: Sean Turbit.
Re: Office and Personal Records.

As the Legislature Library is responsible for maintaining precise records of the House of Members and staff we would like to ask Members and staff personnel to please retain all records, briefs, reports, and other documents for possible use by the Library. We would appreciate receiving any and all extra copies of any documents currently in our possession once they are no longer needed as we exchange material frequently with other Parliamentary Libraries across Canada. This exchanging enables each library to enrich its collection for use by MPLs, MHAs, MLAs, MNAs and MPs in every Province and Federally at very little charge.
Hansard, as a vast bureaucracy dependent upon a dysfunctional source, feeds off this dysfunction and seems to mirror it.

Like the strict conservatives facing off against the diehard liberals within the legislature, at Hansard you have an echo of this with two warring editors determining how posterity will comprehend the historical record. "HF" (they go by their initials) demands and tries to cajole a severe traditionalism that requires changes to how things are actually said so that the record sounds official and high-minded. "DO" is more authentic, a bit of rogue, who argues for accuracy and replicating the modern diction of the speakers. Their entire debate is covered through correspondence and memoranda - not pulled off this well since Choderlos de Laclos ripped on L'Anciene Regime.

Feb. 11/9-
From: Director of Hansard
To: Clerk of the House

This will let you know more about the Editors' positions on the style book. To most people this would be a simple thing to agree to work on, but the two individuals are intent on not getting along with me, or each other, on this.

In my career I've come across stubborn & fanatical people, but never with so little justification as to whether 'Jack' or Jack is correct, more fitting, more traditional, & so on. I don't know if they believe what they're saying, but place them in this office & the world stops moving around the sun & starts revolving around them. One Editor says tradition must be maintained; the other says we must 'go with the flow.' Every move I've made to better Hansard has been in the way of a needed change, & each change has been seen as revolutionary & either praised or condemned, depending on which Editor is asked. No one wanted Hansard to be restrictive that is false to what actually happens in the House, & no one wants Hansard so poorly done that it doesn't make sense. I think the individuals have found something solid, or pure, in each of their versions of Hansard, & won't let go of it. Middle ground is impossible.

It's easy to say Bursey is commenting upon the relationship between the record and the truth, and thus, the written word and history. But that is a simplification that belittles his scope.
As a reader, you're led through the actual versus the farcical constructs of politics through a reflection as believable as its source.

Speaker: The hon. The Government House Leader

Mr. Gascoigne: Speaker, thank you. If I was slow to get up it's because I can't believe we've actually reached this part of the day. For a while it was like one of those modern plays where nobody does anything but there's always this anticipation about something that never happens but is imminent.

Ms Elgar: Such as you calling the business of the day.
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Gascoigne: Touche!

Today, as members know, would have been Private Members' Day, but by agreement between this side and the other side, that rare bird itself, we've dropped our day. The Member for Crescent City has very kindly allowed his resolution to be put aside until the next turn for the government, and everyone thanks him for his kindness. Instead, we'll get through some first readings, then second readings, this afternoon before the break occurs. When we -
This is more than commentary about a larger philosophical issue - it vaults off into the wonderworks because Verbatim is experimental fiction capturing reality, and doing so with a method that is much more than a wink to the idea of how history is recorded. Through his careful rendering of the characters, their simultaneous isolation because we only know them via the record and their letters, and our simultaneous, unmitigated access to their beliefs, biases, ignorance and enlightenment, Bursey crafts theater, complete with a stage, the players and that magical suspension of belief that makes it all work towards some experience - something lived, not just read.

With Verbatim, Bursey has tapped into how our culture wars have turned nearly any issue into a stalemate, and through his spirited gift for mimicry, he illuminates how the procedures and protocols of governing are perverted to hinder action and fuel the ongoing fractures that only assist the powerful. Verbatim is that quintessential chronicle that captures a time so deftly, as a reader, it's like reading your own memories of it.

Black Eagle Force: Sacred Mountain
Buck Stienke and Ken Farmer
Timber Creek Publishing
Amazon Digital Services
B007RRUM02, $3.99,

Dr. Israel Drazin

This is a splendid action thriller, filled with battles, about a highly unusual and specially trained fighting force with extraordinary weapons, clothing that makes them invisible like a chameleon and which is more protective than Kevlar, and airplanes that can speed through the air and stop suddenly, planes with unusual weapons and with the chameleon camouflage ability. This is the second adventure of this Black Eagle Force. In a sense, it continues the story told in the first book, but it has a totally different plot, and readers who did not read the first volume will have no difficulty following the narrative. While readers who delight in reading about weapons will find much to enjoy in the descriptions that the authors offer, those who are uninterested in such matters will still enjoy the plot, action, surprises, and suspense in this well-told tale.

The story begins with the kidnapping of the first female president of the United States, a woman of American Indian descent. Readers will be astonished to find out who engineered the kidnapping. The White House staff is convinced that someone at the highest level must have revealed secret information about the whereabouts of the president and other very sensitive data that made the kidnapping possible. They have no idea why she was kidnapped. Is it for ransom for money, to force the US to do something it would not like to do, or some other reason? The Secretary of Defense knows about the abilities of the Black Eagle Force and assigns them to rescue the president. The BEF must enter Mexican territory and fight well-trained forces. Readers will enjoy reading about the actions and about the extraordinary and courageous men and women.

Jeanne Bannon
Solstice Publishing
P.O. Box 460455, Denver, CO 80246
9781466368750, $10.99 (pb), $2.99 Kindle,

Michael Thal, Reviewer

The Girls Who Could Disappear

We live in an age where people are judged by their appearance and not the content of their character. Author Jeanne Bannon understands the problem and its effects on teens. So this talented writer wrote Invisible.

Lola Savullo is a high school senior confronted with a multitude of problems. First, she's very tall and fat, she thinks she's ugly, and she can't seem to fit in anywhere, not even in her own family. Her best friend, Charlie Menardi, is a lesbian, and her Grandma Rose is the only family member she can relate to. Then, one day while being tormented and beaten by the school bully, Nino Campese, Lola disappears.

Bannon writes an amazing tale for her YA audience about a young woman opening her eyes to who she is and learning to love herself. Through realistic dialogue and emotional depth of writing Bannon understands the pulse of young people with a deep understanding of what it feels like to be different. As you pace through the novel be prepared to laugh out loud on one page and sob on another.

Invisible uses Lola's super power of invisibility as a platform to show readers that self-acceptance is the key to happiness. The author does it with a gifted writing style that will keep you riveted to the book from first to last page.

Oh, and one word of caution. Make sure you read this book with a box of tissues by your side. Highly recommended.

The Legend of Koolura
Michael Thal
Solstice Publishing
PO Box 460455 Denver, CO 80246
B00792L9QG, $2.99,

Nancy Curteman

In the "The Legend of Koolura" Michael Thal takes young readers on an adventure that couples magic super powers with the everyday life of intermediate grade students. Through his main character, Koolura Akopyan, a young sixth grade girl, Thal explores the complexities of school kid friendships, the adjustments needed to manage in today's multicultural classrooms and the importance of good values.

Koolura is a normal student at Bethune Elementary School. She experiences the same kinds of problems like the other students. She suffers through poor treatment by snooty girls, comforts a friend whose mother is going through cancer tests, and supports another whose parents are divorcing. She tutors students who can't read or do math. She worries about grades, tests and homework. Every young reader can identify with Koolura and her friends.

Koolura is also different from other students at Bethune because she has the "Cool." It gives her super powers. Sadly, it has also forced her to lead the life of a nomad. A treacherous stalker seeks to destroy her and steal the "Cool" for himself. Koolura's fearful father has moved her from place to place in an effort to keep her safe.

Koolura's use of her "Cool" to help her fellow students through their difficulties and her effort to keep one step ahead of Neb, her stalker, is what makes Thal's book an exciting experience for young readers.

Special note: I taught sixth grade and when I read Thal's vivid descriptions of school life, I thought I was back in the classroom again.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author
Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452110226, $16.99,

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Dedicated to William Steig, "Wumbers" employs his style of wordplay to create fun with numbers. There is also a hint of rebus to this book because the action-packed illustrations help young readers solve the puzzles of words made up of numbers. As in Steig's "CDB!" and "CDC?" there is no story here. A story would have limited Rosenthal's freedom to use a variety of words in number form. Instead a series of scenes are described with captions and dialogue using words that contain numbers in place of letters, such as "10t" and "4ever". The result is a page-turning, brain teaser that shows kids how to sound out words. "Wumbers" involves readers in a game with words and numbers, which will inspire them to create their own wumbers.

Innovate Products Faster
John Carter & Jeanne Bradford
Privately Published
9781470002909, $19.95,

Robert Neivert

As a CEO of startup companies, I am always looking for ways to drive innovation faster. "Innovate Products Faster: Graphical tools for Accelerating Product Development" is full of great ideas, with simple examples I could implement immediately, on an as-needed basis, so I don't waste time with monolithic changes when small adjustments are all that is needed. I also liked the way it was organized, with an appendix that allowed me to save time by looking up an issue directly and read the proposed solutions.

Because the points are made in a few pages, you can quickly skim to find the tool you need and read just a few pages to get a solution. This makes it much easier to find the right tool for situations that are not covered by the appendix. This is one of the reasons I keep the book by my desk, instead of the back shelf with most of my business books, because it is so fast to get something useful and I reuse the book over and over.

For example, my software deliveries have been late so I used "Increasing Product Delivery Productivity" in the appendix. I picked the Tracking Real Time Progress section and used the Task Burn Down Chart to make adjustments. It took me all of 20 minutes and I had the tool I needed to solve my issue. Later that week I was kicking off another team so I read over "Getting Teams Off To a Good Start" which allows my next team to start off in a much better place.

Overall, this book was very useful. I highly recommend it to the busy executive in the tech industry.

Chris Fabry
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414319551, $12.99,

SallyAnn Shore

Co-author of the popular Left Behind Series, Chris Fabry introduces his first Christian novel written for adults in Dogwood. A 2009 Christy Award winner (awarded each year to recognize novels of excellence written from a Christian worldview), Dogwood is the first book I have read by Chris Fabry. Written for the female audience, Fabry's writing style is easy and puts you immediately into the setting as if you actually live there. The structure of his novel is similar to others books that have proven effective, where the story is told in the first person by the key characters. Each chapter is one of these characters speaking and is an enjoyable way to read a novel.

That being said, I struggle with the play of emotions the author puts on the reader. I understand this book has received great reviews- the story line is woven with various threads and it all comes together nicely in the end, but it is all emotional. The story is basically one man's sacrificial devotion and protection of the woman he loves but the end does not justify the means. Peeling away the noble, sacrificial, and love-driven act of this man we have that he needed to lie in order to demonstrate his love.

Good literature should elevate and edify, especially Christian literature. This book does neither. It makes me wonder how far we have come from the simple, fundamental truth that God cannot bless a lie. I wish Fabry would have written a story where the truth was revealed at the onset and yet still had his main character take the girl's just punishment as an act of love.

Ann's Bookshelf

Michael Frayne
Metropolitan Books
c/o Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, NY, NY 10010-7725
9780805095494, $25.00,

"Now he was Dr Norman Wilfred, Oliver had discovered, once the security guard had unlocked his room and broken the padlock off his suitcase for him, he had an unexpected taste for pure silk underpants and pure silk pyjamas"

But Oliver was not Dr Norman Wilfred, however much he had convinced himself and guests at the Fred Toppler Foundation House Party that he was. He was Oliver Fox, charming sociopath, master of deception, lies and seduction. And he was in the middle of the most unexpected, entertaining and complicated scam he had ever undertaken.

Michael Frayne, whose Noises Off is a theatrical masterpiece of farce, is an expert at weaving bizarre, intricate and unbelievable elements into a story in such a way that you can't predict what will happen or how the ensuing muddle can ever be sorted out. No-one expects farce to be totally believable but it has to draw you into the chaotic world of the characters and it has to be funny. Skios succeeds on both counts and it does so delightfully. Plots may be predictable - muddled suitcases, muddled love-lives, muddled identities. Characters may be caricatures - Greek taxi-drivers, Russian oligarchs, rich Americans and middle-aged professors who are expert in obscure disciplines like 'Scientometrics'. The situations may be unrealistic, too. But Michael Frayne handles it all so well that you suspend disbelief and get carried along by the sheer momentum, fun and mayhem which ensue.

It all starts simply enough. Dazzled by a smile, Nikki, discreet, nice, competent, efficient Nikki, PA to Mrs Fred Toppler and organizer of Foundation's annual Great European House Party on the Greek Island of Skios, mistakenly collects the wrong man from the airport. The wrong man but the right suitcase.

Meanwhile, the right man, complete with his much travelled keynote lecture notes and the wrong suitcase, ends up at a rented villa with a strange, highly disturbed woman. The woman is Oliver's latest amorous conquest, Georgie, who, arriving after Dr Wilfred at the villa Oliver has been lent, unsuspectingly climbs into the mosquito-netted bed in which the professor is sleeping.

Georgie locks herself in the bathroom convinced that she is being attacked by a rapist. Dr Wilfred, unable to calm the woman and believing he is where the Toppler Foundation intended him to be, sets off to find breakfast. He gets horribly lost and as messages, mobile phones, women (a second paramour of Oliver's turns up at the villa), taxi-drivers, suitcases and identities are lost, found, misinterpreted and misunderstood, he gets progressively more confused, bedraggled and befuddled.

Oliver, in his new identity as Dr Wilfred, and paper-clipped into his new, rather large, silk underpants, meets and totally charms the Toppler house guests, and in the course of the day is offered various patronships, partnerships, presidencies and jobs worth many million dollars a year. He is in his element. This is the life he always knew he deserved. He works his magic on Mrs.Toppler and Nikki and, reveling in the challenge, is preparing to make up his after-dinner keynote lecture as he goes along.

Frayne, whilst mixing this potent brew of mayhem, pokes fun at human nature, at our gullibility, and at the delusions and self-dramatization in which most of us occasionally indulge.

The Fred Toppler Foundation exists to promote "civilized values" and to be "a centre of wisdom and civilization", which, as the widowed and wealthy Mrs. Toppler sadly notes, is a passion mostly shared by people who are past retiring age. The guests, as Nikki tells Oliver, are mostly from the States. "All horribly rich, of course, or they wouldn't be here. But awfully nice people", and they have been coming to Skios every year since the House Party started. They spend their time in seminars "studying Minoan cooking and Early Christian meditation techniques", and in classes on exotic subjects like "Late Mediaeval flower-arrangement". All this is interspersed with swims, siestas and "civilized conversation, over breakfast and mid-morning coffee, over pre-lunch drinks, lunch, post-lunch coffee, over afternoon tea and snacks", dinner and post-dinner drinks.

So anxious are these guests to accept and approve of Oliver in his role as a distinguished professor of an esoteric subject about which most of them know nothing, that when Oliver tells them the truth about his deception they take is as a philosophical discussion about identity and trust:

"Someone has only got the say, "Hey guys, I'm an expert"', said Mr.Chuck Friendly, "and next thing he's operating on the President's brain, he's running the space programme."

"How do you know I'm Harold Fossetts?", said Harold Fossetts.
"How do you know you're Harold Fossetts?", said Morton Rinkleman.
"Hey, how do I know I'm Harold Fossetts?", said Harold Fossetts.

Of course, all the muddles have to be resolved in the end but Michael Frayne does not do this in the usual way. First, he offers a quick summary of how this might be done. "A showdown. The grand denouement". The whole thing is part of a great causal chain where each cause "trails an effect at its heels like an obedient dog", and "the whole sequence of events could have been predicted in time to be included in Newton's Principia or the Book of Revelation". But instead of this, he resolves the situation in a quite different way.

We might prefer the causal-chain ending to Frayne's chosen one but, in the end, his ending is just another unexpected twist in a tale where unexpected events are at the heart of the fun.

Skios, could be the idea book to take with you as holiday reading on a Greek island.

Second Chances
Charity Norman
Allen & Unwin
81 Alexander St. Crows Nest, NSW 2065, Australia
9781742379579, A$29.99

"Finn fell.

I don't think, if I used a million words, I could call up the horror. It isn't a matter of words."

Finn is Martha's five-year-old son and she sees him fall from the balcony of their home. But there is more to this terrible event than Martha is willing to tell us or anyone else when she begins her story.

Martha and her husband Kit have emigrated from England to New Zealand and have settled into their new home in what seems to be an idyllic, rural part of Hawkes Bay. Back in England, Kit's advertising agency had foundered because of the economic downturn, and he had become depressed and increasingly reliant on alcohol. Martha's salary as an Occupational Therapist was not enough to cover the family's expenses, and the marriage was suffering under all the strain. Change was inevitable. Trawling the Internet one day, Martha discovered that she could easily find work in New Zealand in an area where the family could have a dream house, mortgage free and in their price range. So, Martha accepts a job and Kit agrees to shun alcohol and concentrate on painting, a passion and a talent which he has never had time to develop. It all seems like the perfect way to start again.

Charity Norman knows from her own experience the emotional turmoil of migration. She writes movingly of the excitement and of the sadness of uprooting yourself from home, family, friends, work, and all that is familiar, to move to a new country at the other end of the world. And she describes Martha's feelings well, as the family begin to explore their new country and learn its ways. She writes bautifully, too, of the New Zealand countryside and its unique culture.

For a time everything seems to go exceptionally well. Finn and his twin brother, Charlie, who are delightful characters, take to New Zealand life immediately. Kit does, too, and he begins to have some success as an artist. Martha settles into her new job and learns how to deal with her new colleagues. Only teenage Sacha, who didn't want to move in the first place, has difficulty adapting to her new life, new school and new friends. Sacha is not Kit's daughter and Martha has always claimed that after a one-night-stand her real father disappeared and was never heard of again. Kit and Sacha are good friends but Sacha was just beginning to want to find out more about her birth father when they left England. Eventually, however, Sacha seems to settle in and begin to enjoy New Zealand life.

Finn's fall from the balcony, however, throws Martha into crisis. She has secrets, more than one, which could destroy her family and, as she sits by Finn's bed in intensive care, not knowing if he will survive or, if he does, how damaged he might be, she slowly reveals events of past and present.

This is a compelling book and Charity Norman creates some very real characters and draws you into their lives so that you become emotionally involved with them. The plight of Finn is a thread which runs through Martha's story and her memories of earlier events and creates constant tension. But there are other, equally serious, issues which threaten the family and which must be resolved. All this is balanced by the strong loving bonds which hold this family together, the beauty and freedom of the environment, and the support of neighbours and sense of community which ultimately convince Martha that this is where they belong.

Norman handles the suspense, the anxieties and the joys fluently and, whilst keeping you absorbed by the family, she deals intelligently with serious social and family issues. Not least, she explores the power of dreams to entice, delight, confuse and disappoint but, ultimately, to have the power to change the lives of those who are brave enough and resilient enough to follow them.

Ann Skea

Applegate's Bookshelf

An Ocracoke Affair
T. L. Peters
Barnes & Noble
2940012602466, Nook eBook: $0.99

Our hero has had his fill of the cold northeast weather this particular spring, and decides to grab himself some sunshine on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As he drives south in his little yellow Pontiac Sunfire, he has no pre-selected destination, the temperature of the air, the ocean and the sunshine will make his choice for him.

He drives past Nags Head - still too cold - on to Cape Hatteras - warmer as the Gulf Stream passes by - but continues to Ocracoke Island. He has heard that Ocracoke, despite its funny name, is noted as a " pristine and thoroughly charming vacation spot." Ah, this is it.

Peters tells of Cape Hatteras, Pamlico Sound, Nags Head, Hatteras Inlet, helping readers imagine the fishermen (maybe some fisherwoman) lining the white beach, the mile-long bridge, the small town where he stops for gas.

The Outer Banks and Ocracoke offer unexpected "delights" - a sun-burnt blond Our hero has just gotten out of a dreary relationship and isn't looking for romance. If he had been, this hot young babe with a flashy smile and southern drawl might be a good candidate. He changes his mind in a hurry when the hot young babe grabs his shoulders and throws him to the sand.

Thus begins the story. He is bright and has legal training but none in the martial arts, although he had played football in high school. This Valkyrie knows his name, and appears - actually it's obvious, I'd say - that she has a grudge of some sort against him.

He gets an idea of what her problem with him might be when she observes him looking at her in a carnal manner and says, "A womanizer even now. Well, take your last gander at comely female flash, Tommy, because it's over for you." But he survives.

She continues to slap, chop, throw him down, up and over for page after page Our hero is bruised, battle-scarred, cold-cocked, and finally creates a defensive strategy - avoid her at all costs. The rest of the book tells of his attempts (mostly failed) to flee her depredations, and eventually explains the reason for all the mayhem inflicted on the confused and battered young lawyer who is looking only for some R&R in a warm spot.

Between martial arts displays on the part of the hot young babe and our hero's ability to survive it all, Peters manages to get in some interesting description, both historical and modern day, of the Ocracoke area and its lifestyle and denizens.

If you enjoy watching vicariously a young man get knocked around, slammed into the sand, gravel or plain earth, you'll get a chuckle from "The Ocracoke Affair." Add to that the interesting descriptions of that part of the eastern seaboard of North Carolina, a thin but amusing plot written in an equally amusing manner, this makes an unusual, unchallenging, but entertaining read for a mid-summer afternoon.

For a quick summer unchallenging read, "The Ocracoke Affair" is a good choice.

An Outer Banks Vacation
T. L. Peters
Barnes & Noble
2940013116924, Nook eBook: $0.99

What kind of law firm is Bile and Bilge?

A tip-off of what's ahead for a reader of the Outer Banks, NC trilogy is the name of the law firm that employs our hero in all three of the Peters' Outer Banks novels I have read. How about Bile and Bilge? (Their accounting firm might be named "Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.")

Most of the partners of Bile and Bilge are, in the words of the hero of these tales, "mostly stuffy and pedantic souls." The senior partner would, again in our hero's estimation, " . . . line you up in front of him and look you straight in the eye as he stove the blade into your quivering gut. "In this novel, has just made partner and the senior partner has offered him a few days off for vacation - instead of the blade in the "quivering gut." His competition for this partner slot is a 6'-2' toned and worked-out Amazon who has taken kick-boxing classes.

Loretta, the loser, is no lady, but a tough broad You know what's coming, I'm sure. Loretta, unhinged by her loss of the partnership, makes a sneak attack on our hero, a slender, gentle man, who although he works out regularly and prides himself on some good moves, is not match for Loretta.

After the battle with Loretta, Jonah thinks that a vacation while his bruises and bumps heal is in order. He selects the Outer Banks of North Carolina's eastern seaboard, since he has been there before and enjoyed it, in spite of some unusual and sometimes painful experiences that came his way.

A September Outer Banks vacation - less crowded, warm sea. It's September, a great time for the Outer Banks vacation, since the area is less crowded after Labor Day, and the water is still warm. Jonah packs a bag, whistles up his dog, Muffy, and sets off in his battered 2001 green Cavalier and drives to the quaint village of Duck.

And who should he meet, just when he is getting relaxed and setting aside the annoyances of the workaday world, but Loretta, seated on his couch. He gathers his nerve, throws her out - in a manner of speaking - but decides against involving the local cops.

Life seems normal for a while, although Jonah is always aware that Loretta is gunning for him - so to speak - and he'd better watch his step. But it's only a few days before his living room window is smashed by Loretta. And the game is on.

A spoiled vacation on the Outer Banks - almost Combat takes up many pages of Peters' novel, what with lots of mano a mano fighting interspersed with wrestling matches, attempts to strangle and other varieties of mayhem. First it's Loretta, then it's Jonah, then it's - well, you get the point.

Eventually, Jonah winds up strapped to a chair with Loretta making dire threats and promises. Another battle ensues. Is all well in the end? Will Jonah go in the drink? Will he get back to Bile and Bilge?

Read the book, find out if Jonah's Outer Banks vacation is indeed spoiled As I've said about the other two books in this series by T.J. Peters, this is a writer who wrote this series with a twinkle in his eye and a chuckle not far from his throat. An Outer Banks vacation is amusing, a quick read (101 pages in my Nook version) and a good diversion from everyday life.

Whether you read in a lounge chair in your backyard, your kitchen table, your deck, or on the beach, it is an entertaining way to pass a few hours of a midsummer's eve (or afternoon).

Nags Head Affair
T. L. Peters
Barnes & Noble
2940012849762, $0.99,

A young man from Cleveland OH falls in love with Nags Head, NC Jimmy Spiegel has a goal - to retire from his law career, the sooner the better. As good fortune would have it, he has inherited almost a half-million dollars, and now can live out his dream. He has a strong sensory recall about a vacation to Nags Head, NC, of floating on his back in warm salty ocean water near white beaches. Ah, this is it, the life he's been waiting for.

Nags Head, NC is expensive, but he can buy a small place a mile from the ocean Jimmy's small but nicely furnished dream house has everything he wants, and after buying it has enough left to live on for the rest of his life, assuming he is a careful spender. That means no extras, like wine, women, song. But trouble finds Jimmy.

At a gas station, he meets a lovely blond young woman with a charming accent he assumes is French. Jimmy is a plain fellow who, in the interests of staying away from the dangers of money-consuming females, makes no effort to improve his looks.

Nags Head lesson: Beware of French accents on girls short of cash The French charmer is short a few dollars of what she owes for gas, so Jimmy pays the difference. She hugs him in gratitude. He goes home and after a modest meal, checks his bank balance on his laptop. Woe betide him; the sweet French accent belonged to a charming thief who had stolen his credit card - his only credit card - and has already begun charging.

After cancelling his credit card and changing his bank password, Jimmy decides on a swim. At the beach, he spots a cute young surfer - female, naturally - coming in on one of the glorious waves that surfers so love. And he realizes it's the chick who stole his credit card.

The Nags Head Mafia? I don't think so, says Jimmy The cute young thief, who calls herself Yvette, claims she's in danger from the Mafia, but Jimmy, bright young lawyer, disbelieves this story. Later, though, he finds himself followed by two men in a BMW. Whatever they are, Mafia or angry locals, they appear to want Jimmy's hide. Or his car and money, at the very least.

When his small Sunfire gets stuck in the sand, Jimmy and Yvette abandon it and try to escape on foot, to no avail. Much of the rest of the story follows Jimmy and Yvette on a chase throughout the Nags Head area, through soft sand, hard sand, water, creeks, stands of trees. At one point, the chase takes place on wave runners individual watercraft.

Later, the sweet and delicate young woman proves to be a handful, when she engages in hand-to-hand and full-body combat with seemingly stronger men as Jimmy watches. The story ends nicely with the baddies losing out, the goodies coming in on top. In the midst of all the situations Peters creates for his characters, he gives readers a good sense of what that area is like. He - Peters - seems to very much like the Outer Banks, as he has written three novels set there.

An entertaining if highly improbable story with loads of action Peters doesn't take his characters, his plot, or himself too seriously. These novels are a good break from the vividly described horror and viciousness of so much modern mystery writing. That makes these novels perfect for reading on a beach, in a hammock, or a creaking porch swing. For fun - and lots of action on land and sea - consider spending a couple of hours with Peters at Nags Head, NC

Marcia K. Applegate

Bethany's Bookshelf

What's to Know About Mexico?
John Virtue
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470169787 $18.95

What's to Know About Mexico? One Thousand Questions and Answers About America's Southern Neighbor lives up to its title with plain-terms answers to common questions that Americans have about their sister nation to the south. Author Jon Virtue draws from personal experience (including being based in Mexico City for six years while he worked as a foreign correspondent) as well as research in this accessible, informative, and enjoyable browse. "Do Mexican drug agents operate in the United States? The United States allows Mexico to launch raids from the American side of the border in order to prevent or reduce the possibility of leaks to the drug cartels." Given that Americans today tend to know far too little about Mexican history, culture, or current events, What's to Know About Mexico? is highly recommended, and an absolute must-read for every American considering a visit south of the border.

The Realms of Animar
Owen Black
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432786595, $16.95,

There is a hidden nature to us all, and in Animar, it is simply realized. "The Realms of Animar" is a fantasy set in a world where every human has two forms, one of humanity, and one of animal. Thane holds his alternate form as something truly unique and will allow the salvation of the hunted, and those who seek to dominate the world under their methods. "The Realms of Animar" is a fantasy worth considering, much recommended.

Unconditional Forbidden Love
Vicki Case
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452504070, $16.99,

Love can often be all too close to pain. "Unconditional Forbidden Love" is a collection of romantically driven poetry as Vicki Case explores the allure of what we're not suppose to have. In a long running style that entices her train of thought that goes through her mind in the pursuit of love, "Unconditional Forbidden Love" is a strong pick for those seeking devoted and enticing poetry, much recommended.

Survival of the Young Poet
Uzuegbu John Munonye
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466918047 $21.11

Told alternately in prose and verse, Survival of the Young Poet chronicles a poet's efforts to express himself. The daily toil necessary to survive inflicts one type of pain; the ongoing struggle to translate the will of the mind into words on paper is another. "We were caused together, / We are reaching the sky, / The moon of our life is weightless, / For there are things we share together, / Things we fear together, / Things we ought to accomplish together, / And love is what we have in common." Survival of the Young Poet reaches out from the author's soul to stir the souls of poetry lovers and aspiring artists everywhere.

Ayshe Talay-Ongan
Sid Harta Publishers
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781921829062, $18.75,

Love blooms in many peculiar ways, and it may prove unobtainable throughout much of one's life. "Turquoise" follows the love that cannot be story between Yasmin and Renan, who first meet separated by the bonds of marriage. With the rise of political tensions in Istanbul, their love grows tougher, and as they separate throughout the world it seems their dreams will never be. "Turquoise" is a strongly recommended pick for world fiction collections.

The Promise
Eliezer Nussbaum
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
0891469793382, $19.95,

A charge to protect people is a charge that may spit in the face of genocide itself. "The Promise" is a novel from Elizer Nussbaum who explores the concepts of Holocaust survival, and the efforts of Yanusz Dov. Charged with protecting the family of a Jewish friend in the face of the Nazi Occupation of Poland, he faces three generations of oppression to fulfill a lifelong debt. "The Promise" is a strongly recommended pick for historical fiction collections set around the Holocaust.

Raymond P. Jones
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432789275, $16.95,

A divide of the Koreas led to families being divided. "4km" follows Rex, as he seeks to enter the despotism of North Korea to rescue a sister in law he doesn't know and has never met to make good on a decades old promise that he kept. A riveting read of going deep into enemy territory and the risks that come with it, "4km" is a well worth considering, recommended.

One Last Child
Antonia Phillips Rabb
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467028042, $23.95,

The route to establish oneself in a new world is often a long and difficult one. "One Last Child" is a family memoir by Antonia Phillips Rabb, who explores the ideals of her family coming to America and the pressures that her family faced coming together as immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century. Insightful and much recommended reading, "One Last Child" is a strongly recommended pick for general memoir and family history collections, not to be overlooked.

The Carlyle Deception
Andrew M. Williams
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780987944504, $12.99,

The biggest risks often hold the biggest rewards. "The Carlyle Deception" follows Lambert Greene as he finds himself charged with diving into the worst of the world, having to make sure he blends in with them, knowing he is all alone on his quest, trusting no one and where that may be the problem. For fans of international thrillers, "The Carlyle Deception" is well worth considering, highly recommended.

Tumult and Dr. Frances Lowe
Eula Youngblood
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781434327499, $17.48,

Even with the skill to save lives, the color of one's skin can be a difficult thing to overcome. "Tumult and Dr. Frances Lowe" is a novel following a doctor traveling the old west in the late nineteenth century. Frances Lowe has all the training in the world, but that won't help her from being turned away for both her gender and her race, and a new town in Nevada will learn just how petty that is. "Tumult and Dr. Frances Lowe" is a strong addition to general historical fiction collections.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Mark! My Words
Mark Evans
Basset Books
c/o Skye Wentworth, Publicist
9780984767908 $19.95

Mark! My Words: How to Discover the Joy of Music, the Delight of Language, and the Pride of Achievement is a sharp-tongued manifesto decrying the coarsening of today's modern culture, where a dirty bed or a pickled shark can be exhibited as "art". Emphasizing the importance of preserving great works of cultural expression, and noting the timeless value of cerebral, nuanced, and detailed communications that reflect both sophistication and effort. "Loss of communication skills is a sad casualty of popular culture. Grammar and syntax are sadly neglected in today's schools, and reading is badly taught as well." How to reverse such disturbing trends? Author Mark Evans cautions against relying exclusively on academia, government, or the entertainment industry, but proposes other valuable recommendations: introducing children to the arts at an early age, reforming education, discarding the flawed notion that "new" automatically means better, allowing artists to express spiritual and patriotic values in their works, producing and distributing multimedia materials that promote our cultural past in a positive light, and much more. Mark! My Words is a serious consideration of the ongoing problem of cultural impoverishment, highly recommended.

Tide Walker
Belva Rae Staples
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475230277, $20.95,

The peoples of the land and the peoples of sea may be consumed by powers unknown to them. "Tide Walker" tells of a conflict rising as King Neptune of Oceanus enters a conflict with the Ancient Man, as their creatures send massive powers and unleash massive creatures at each other, all blooming from Neptune's daughter Serena falling for a human man. "Tide Walker" is a riveting fantasy of the oceans, very much recommended for fans of this genre.

Lindy S. Hudis
Bettie Youngs Book Publishers
9781936332274, $16.95,

A split second is what lies between riches and death. "Crashers: A Tale of Cappers and Hammers" is a novel that explores the insurance fraud underworld, where cappers and hammers scam insurance agencies out of millions. Nathan and Shari, facing debt, are tempted by the big payday, but everything has a catch and Nathan and Shari will soon find it strongly. "Crashers" is an enticing read of get rich schemes and everything that goes with them.

A Righteous Gentile
Augusto Ferrera
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440199219, $36.95,

The fall of one man may start the fall of the world. "A Righteous Gentile" follows the conflict that surrounds the secrets that lie behind Peter Kramer, envoy who is charged with negotiating an Israel-Arab peace treaty. As world leaders fall to their own demons and loyalties, the instability of the region may soon erupt and claim millions of lives. "A Righteous Gentile" is a riveting political thriller set in the 1970s, very hard to put down.

Do You Dare to Be Yourself?
Andreas Dudas
Privately Published
c/o MVP Media (publicity)
9783033032552, $19.95,

Being an act only works for so long. "Do You Dare to Be Yourself?: Developing Power in Life and Leadership Through Authenticity" is an inspirational read from Andreas Dudas, as he suggests readers take charge of their lives and live genuinely, and in the process, inspire others to do the same. With plenty to consider and plenty of humor, "Do You Dare to be Yourself?" is a must for anyone who wants to unlock to secrets to their own leadership.

A Bronx Story
Salvatore Sarate
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781465308399, $15.99,

New York City is both the town of massively successful CEOs and those who are just struggling to get by. "A Bronx Story: From Hate to Hope" is a memoir from Salvatore Sarate as he shares his story of coming up from the Bronx and all the cruelty that comes from rising up from the bottom, including accusations of murder. "A Bronx Story" is a riveting story of coming from nothing, much recommended.

Satan Thinks in Black & White
Ronald B. Jimmerson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432782467, $14.95,

Racism divides in many ways. "Satan Thinks in Black & White" is a Christian rally against racism from Ronald B. Jimmerson who states that the split within the Church between churches and denomination is what he believes to be the work of Satan and that races should come together and denounce Satan's methods. "Satan Thinks in Black & White" is a strong pick for social issues and Christian collections.

The Unjust Justice
Edward Castle
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462064571, $26.95,

To be marked as one with a mental illness is often a hefty weight to shoulder. "The Unjust Justice" is a psychological narrative from Edward Castle as he writes of a schizophrenic man who faced the accusation of killing a dog, and how his mental illness got him imprisoned and marked as a potentially dangerous and violent offender. "The Unjust Justice" is a strongly recommended pick for psychology and criminal justice collections.

Think About These Things...
M. L. Vaughn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466282261, $15.95,

Prayer drives the human spirit and will to a greater goal. "Think About These Things..." is a collection of prayers and thoughts about the world, history, and life around it. Devotional and high spiritual with touches of faith that could be taken to heart for any religion, "Think About These Things..." is a must for those seeking a collection of devotion, enhanced with black and white photography throughout.

Getting Over Not Getting In
Allison Singh
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432787073, $8.95,

Rejection is a common aspect of life, and sometimes it may first come at college. "Getting Over Not Getting In: A College Rejection Guide" is a helpful guide for those who are coping with rejection from college and how to cope with the reality that it is often not about the student, but countless other factors, and turning one's work into getting into college into other factors. "Getting Over Not Getting In" is a strong pick for general education and inspirational collections.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Buddha's Principle of Relativity
Don G. Athukorala
Publicity Department
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9780646543154, $25.60,

Buddhism is not a god-based theology like Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Rather it is a spiritual philosophy that over the centuries has evolved into many different branches. Born into the Theravada Buddhist philosophy, Don G. Atukorala has written "Buddha's Principle of Relativity: Mind Body Stress", a 264-page compendium showcasing the "Buddha's Code of Practice', a way of achieving better health through an ancient teaching of the Buddha relatively neglected from more than fifteen hundred years. The underlying premise is that the psychology of the mind can and does have tremendous influence and affect upon the body. Enhanced with an extended bibliography and a comprehensive index, "Buddha's Principle of Relativity" is informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and a seminal contribution to the growing body of Buddhist literature for western readers.

The Reality of the Virtual
Betsy Cheung
Pebbles Publications
9781478119647 $12.99

Set in near-future of 2018, The Reality of the Virtual is a dystopian science fiction novel telling of a world where "welfare" has been abolished - government has all but abandoned any responsibility to the poor, despite the scarcity of jobs and rising misery that explodes into riots. In this poorly balanced world, Hugh van Santen struggles to keep his newspaper in business; when he hires rookie journalist Sophie Chantal, her first assignment is to write about the bicentennial birthday of a revolutionary figure of ill repute. She draws upon the virtual technology of a genius to simulate and recreate this personage - but the program works too well, unleashing a potential menace that might just eradicate what little global stability is left. Things only heat up further when the CIA gets involved, in this edge-of-one's seat saga of the knife edge between the real and the virtual, as well as the devastating consequences when society willfully neglects its poor and dispossessed. Highly recommended.

Let Me Go when the Banter Stops
Linda Gromko
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470118181, $24.95,

The struggles against a life-threatening illness are quite difficult, especially when you are a doctor, looking on, unable to do nothing. "Let Me Go When the Banter Stops: A Doctor's Fight for the Love of Her Life" is a memoir from Linda Gromko, a family physician of Seattle who recounts her romance with her midlife love Steve Williams. As Steve develops kidney failure, heart disease, among other problems, Linda feels powerless, but must do what she can to serve her husband. "Let me Go When the Banter Stops" is a must for memoir collections focusing on life's tragedies.

The Vampire Girl Next Door
Richard Arbib
Highgate Books
9780615572635, $14.95,

A dream isn't all that far from a nightmare. "The Vampire Girl Next Door" is a novel following the arrival of the mysterious Sylvia in the vicinity of Mark, and the two begin to hit it off immediately. Despite all the warning signs that surround him, Mark may have to learn the hard way about Sylvia and her past she just won't speak up about. "The Vampire Girl Next Door" is a choice pick for one looking for a romance with a supernatural twist, highly recommended.

William Pillow
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475928204, $15.95,

What lies beyond the material? "Spirituality: Beyond Science and Religion" is a collection of metaphysical essays compiled by William Pillow, as he presents writings that seek to go beyond traditional science and ponder the nature of spirituality beyond it all. "Spirituality: Beyond Science and Religion" is worth considering for followers of metaphysical spirituality.

This Ain't No Self-Help Book
Jack Terry
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468176834, $9.95,

What works for one of us won't work for all of us, but we can take note and find our own way. "This Ain't No Self-Help Book" is a memoir and against his own title, self-help book from Jack Terry as he shares his own journey to putting his life back together again so that readers can piece together the experiences they see to apply it to their own lives. "This Ain't No Self-Help Book" is a strongly recommended for motivational collections, highly recommended.

The First to Say No
Charles C. Anderson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432791018, $14.95,

People can only take so much before striking back in their own ways. "The First to Say No" is a novel following the oppression the female doctors of Parkview Hospital face with a local gang who has been tormenting them for some time. Focusing on Kate Taylor and Elita Romanov as they take their own strike against the gang, author Charles C. Anderson explores many other issues surrounding healthcare as well. "The First to Say No" is a strong pick for general fiction collections, highly recommended. Also recommended from author Charles C. Anderson in Fiction is "The Farm" (9781432790936, $25.95), following a deep government conspiracy that may push the world towards nuclear war.

Steve Trotter
Privately Published
9780987961501, $13.95,

It's hard to return to a world where one isn't suspecting death at every corner. "Resurrected" is a thriller following former covert ops agent Adam Wolf as he tries to blend back into normal life at the age of sixty. But even in retirement, grudges live on and Wolf finds himself a target, and realizes his golden years won't be spent playing Bingo after all. "Resurrected" is a fun and hard to put down thriller, very much recommended.

Robert Burgett
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432785871, $13.95,

American democracy began meeting its challenges very early on. "1803: Constitutional Intent for Electing The Presidency: How the Twelfth Amendment Failed to Anticipate the Rise of Competing National Parties" explores early politics and the place of the electoral college in early American politics, and the origin of the Twelfth amendment, including author Roget Burgett's own beliefs of what needs to be done to help the twelfth amendment. "1803" is a strong pick for political history collections, recommended.

In America with a Disability
Stanley Schmulewitz
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462053896, $16.95,

With a disability, may doors seem closed, unless you force them open yourself. "In America with a Disability: A Journey to Equality" is a memoir from Stanley Schmulewitz who reflects on his own personal journey to a higher standard of life, facing his disability and his pursuit through his career and the various levels of discrimination that he faced. "In America with a Disability" is worth considering for those seeking a tale of the differently abled conquering adversity.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

The Coachable Leader
Peter J. Dean
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462048885, $22.95,

Leadership grows more valuable than ever in the modern world. "The Coachable Leader: What Future Executives Need to Know Today" is a guide to advising readers on how to piece together their ideas for their own greater success. From keeping one's emotions together, practicing good ethics, good persuasion, and being a worthy leader of men, "The Coachable Leader" is well worth considering for anyone who is considering taking on this mantle.

Second Chance
Stephen J. Weiss
Military History Publishing
9781780392325, $39.95,

France's fall in World War II was the note that the war was going to be something big. Its liberation is the turning point. "Second Chance: In Combat with the US 'Texas' Infantry, the OSS, and the French Resistance during the Liberation of France, 1943-1946" is a military memoir from Stephen J. Weiss who reflects on his own part in World War II. Fighting in Southern France with the underground French Resistance leading up to the main conflict in Normandy, Weiss also makes a strong point in the affects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that he had faced as well as his own associates. "Second Chance" is a military memoir that is very much worth considering for history and World War II collections, enthusiastically recommended.

The P-47
Ted S. Overcash
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
0595272789, $14.95,

In the sky, there is little hope for retreat. "The P-47" is a novel set in Vietnam following Sid Mason, a combat pilot facing him against the grueling conflict, facing the reactions of those around him Drawn on a life long lover of history with a focus on World War II and Vietnam, "The P-47" is a fine pick for those who seek war thrillers set among the skies of Vietnam.

A Shadow's Tale
Robert D'Angelo
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432782542, $12.95,

To bring your world back into what it should be, one is often tasked with overwhelming opposition. "A Shadow's Tale" is a fantasy novel as author Robert D'Angelo explores the conflicts of Divina and her quests to restore the King and the Price, but with the heavy threats of magic lying in front of them to do so, testing Divina and her sister's dedication to their family. "A Shadow's Tale" is a strong addition to fantasy novel collections, recommendation.

Growth Above the Clouds
Michael S. Lawson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432788247, $15.95,

A successful business changes to meet the challenges of the times and adapts. "Growth Above the Clouds: How Businesses Grow Above Competition and Challenges of Today's Economy" is a business guide as Michael S. Lawson as he presents his two going on three decades of business experience on what is needed for a business to flourish and succeed, encouraging constant growth and meeting demand. "Growth Above Clouds" is a must for those who want to assure their business's continued success.

Cash Flow Now
Jim Ingersoll
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470118464, $14.95,

Investment is the core of continued wealth. "Cash Flow Now: How to Create Multiple Streams of Real Estate Income" is an advisory for those who want to generate secondary steams of wealth for themselves using real estate investments and creating something that will build and flourish over time. "Cash Flow Now" is a strong pick for personal finance collections, recommended.

Michael J. Carson

Christina's Bookshelf

Bob Curran
Open Road Publishers
c/o Career Press Inc.
220 West Parkway, Unit 12
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
9781453254066, $14.99,

It seems that Bob Curran has made a career of the gothic realm. "Vampires: A Field Guide to the Creatures that Stalk the Night", unlike his book World's Creepiest Places, introduces the reader to a creature which in some regions is considered to be very real. Curran tells us why he decided to write this book.

"We are all familiar with the ghost at midnight (when one day merged into another), but midday (when the morning passed into the afternoon) was also a significant time. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans believed it was when the legions of the dead, together with the forces of evil, were at their most powerful."

Vampires, page 6

Beginning with an explanation about how fear of the dead was introduced to civilization, mostly through Christian churches, Curran explains the concept of purgatory as a way the church could obtain major money: relatives had to pay the priest to pray for the downfallen dead to insure the dead didn't go down below. People were convinced that the dead could become angry and vengeful. In some cases the dead might break the necks of the relatives they were angry with, and suck their blood out as punishment. All Saints Day, Curran shares, was a day churchgoers finally set aside to pray for all the dead, not just those who could afford a priest, trying to placate any anger held by the dead. This day coincided nicely with the Celtic holiday of Samhaim (Halloween), which was also a day to honor the dead. And the rest is history.

Curran discusses the beliefs of other societies and shows that everyone has a version of the biting dead and that many ideas, although humorous to some, were really believed by many people. In the end, Curran says;

"The dead, it seems, are everywhere, and they can physically attack the living. The dead hate the living, it is thought, with a passion no one can truly understand, and the vampire is the embodiment of that hatred."

Vampires, Page 9

The Alp is the first area Curran handles, discussing Germany/Austria. Known for particularly disturbing fairy tales, the Alp is a place of cold fear. The Wood Wives often dressing in long, flowing green gowns start the chapter. Hanging out in the woods, these creatures hunted lost travelers as prey.

Curran's attempt at making this book a complete, daring examination of the vampire is both entertaining and colorful. He covers 17 creatures, from 17 different locales, and may share more than readers need to know. Such as: the rakshaka, from India, known for removing the victim's intestines, wrapping them about its' body and performing a ritualistic dance. Another Indian entity, jigarkhwar, preferred the blood and liver of it's' prey, consuming the items after biting the victim. Strong hints of other supernatural creatures were present in vampirism. Zombies and werewolves are only two of these.

Beautiful illustrations by Ian Daniels visualize the subjects, rounding out this fascinating and easy to read look at a darker side.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Horace McCoy
Open Road Integrated Media
Digital Edition, New York
9781453246726, $14.00

Opening with an ominous, "the prisoner will stand..." Horace McCoy prepares to tell you a story that you will never forget.

This story displays man at his lowest humanity and is about a couple who had nothing better to do than sign up for a dance marathon. This marathon goes until there is only one couple left. The venue of the dance hall seems to be on the outskirts of Malibu where the marathon participants will tell you "all of the stars live."

Beginning with an ill-fated meeting, the protagonist, Robert tells us about partnering up with Gloria to try to win a marathon, better yet to get the attention of Hollywood producers and any one else who can propel them into stardom. Gloria is interested in being a star, while Robert wants to be a director. If they win the $500 each (big money in 1935), Robert will fund his own directorial debut.

Horace Stanley McCoy (1897 - 1955) wrote this book during the depression and his skill of conjuring up characters with very little wordage on his part is almost phenomenal.

"What could I say?...All those people knew I had killed her; the only other person who could have helped me at all was dead too. So, I just stood there, looking at the judge and shaking my head. I didn't have a leg to stand on.

'Ask the mercy of the court,' said Epstein, the lawyer they had assigned to defend me.

'What was that?' the judge said.

'Your Honour,' Epstein said, ' - we throw ourselves on the mercy of the court. This boy admits killing the girl, but he was only doing her a personal favour - '

The judge banged on the desk, looking at me."

--- They Shoot Horses Don't They?

Horace McCoy, Page 7

This story will sweep you up into the madness of a dance marathon. There is also a host of characters that keep the story jumping. Readers can't forget about the legal trouble that comes up during the marathon, resulting in one man being arrested for murder and a young girl being apprehended as a runaway. All the while, her male accomplice is trying hard to dissolve into the population outside of the marathon.

Through out the story, the reader will see Robert and Gloria pull away from one another. The little things start to mount while we see Gloria turning into a not-so-likable-character.

'I'm sick of this,' Gloria said. 'I'm sick of looking at celebrities and I'm sick of doing the same thing over and over again - '

'Sometimes I'm sorry I ever met you,' I said. 'I don't like to say a thing like that, but it's the truth. Before I met you I didn't know what it was to be around gloomy people.'

We crowded behind the starting line with the other couples.

'I'm tired of living and afraid of dying,' Gloria said.

--They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Horace McCoy, Page56

After reading the end of this tale, readers will see that it could not have ended any other way. I really enjoyed this book.

Bloody Chester
JT Petty, author
Hilary Florido, illustrator
Hilary Sycamore, colorist
First Second Publishers
175 - 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781596431003, $18.99,

This is a strange little graphic novel that opens with a young man lying in a stable, being nuzzled by a horse. The man gets up and prepares himself to go down into the town, which he does without fanfare. However, when he enters the local watering hole, the excitement begins.

Getting harassed by other patrons in the place, the man keeps his cool. Finally, one of the men, calling him Lady Kate, asks him to come over and warm his lap, offering to buy his breakfast if he does. Our man tells the harasser that his name is Chester. Then, he continues to keep to himself. Chester finally warms the harassers lap with a cup of coffee and this is enough to cause both of them to walk outside for a fight. The fight only injures Chester.

In case I didn't mention it, this is an illustrated novel. The artwork is lively and colorful, mating well with the dialogue offered.

The main story here begins when Bloody Chester is offered a sum of money to go into a (what turns out to be a deserted) town and burn it down. I never understood why Chester is called Bloody Chester, unless I just missed it. Maybe because he does this kind of work? I think this is an average story and will be read by previous fans of Chester or fans of the old west.

Christina Kiplinger-Johns

Clark's Bookshelf

Dyn-O-Mite!: Good Times, Bad Times...Our Times
Jimmie "J.J" Walker and Sal Manna
Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9780306820830, $25.00,

Memoirs tend to be delightful reminisces of days gone by; "Dyn-O-Mite!" by Jimmie Walker and Sal Manna is an exception to the rule.

Jimmie gives his background, rise to fame, and successes he has achieved through the years by recanting all the wonderful things that have made his life a pleasure, both in the entertainment world and personally. In the middle of the book, his political posture emerges and what he feels needs to be done to get America back on track.

Interestingly, he has had the opportunity to help struggling comedians achieve their fame by hiring them to work for him when he was at the top of his game. Folks like David Letterman, Jay Leno, and David Brenner to name a few. Walker was an ingenue when black comedians were a novelty in the entertainment world. He struggled to make a name for himself beyond $25.00 per night gigs. What he acknowledges is the helping hand given to him by white entertainers that far exceeded what a Bronx street person could ever imagine. Hard to comprehend is the fact that during this era in which he was rising, there were many super stars emerging.

Walker does not gloss over his early years and does not name people just for the sake of impression. There was a method to his zany early years. He learned his craft, studied hard, created files of jokes, practiced delivery, and above all discovered that he could not do it alone. He opened his heart and his home to writers so there could be an interchange of ideas as to what was funny. This book is a lesson in creativity!

What is interesting is Jimmy Walker in not afraid to expose who he really is and where his family came from. He went back through time and researched his family's history so that he could talk about his heritage. He has developed an outstanding philosophy, to reach out to others and lend a hand so they might have the opportunities he has had. Clearly, he tells it like it is. He does not speak kindly of some of the talk show hosts who are not willing to open their doors or stages to newcomers.

Best known for his role in "Good Times" he exposes some on-set tensions between actors that belied the close-knit family America watched every week. Little ever leaks out about what influences a show when it is from the actor and not the writers. Very fascinating are behind the scenes interchanges with writers, actors and directors including how he coined the phrase "Dyn-O-Mite!"

His personal political beliefs from the Black Panthers to President Obama are interesting and make it a-dyn-o-mite read about a true pop culture icon and comedy legend.

There are some cautions regarding this book since it has adult language he has used for emphasis. Walker appears to be a Conservative by nature and though he does not state which party he supports, he leans in the direction of the Republican Party at this time.

This is a fun read, a book, which you will remember, and one that might make you stop and pause for a moment as you ponder some of his pithy sayings. This is a five star book and one you will want on your bookshelf.

Truth Be Told
Larry King
Weinstein Books
345 Hudson Street, 13th floor, NY, NY 10014
9781602861619, $15.00,

Memoirs written by those who have something to say about their careers, lives, and the things they have done are interesting. Larry King's "Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions" is no exception. However, the strange twist for this author is he is an interviewer exceptional!

Larry King in the years of broadcasting has been the person who brings out the best in everyone who has sat across from him! In this book, not his first, he summarizes 50 years of having a show, which was one of CNN's highest-rated programs. Recent ratings of the CNN programs show a drop in listeners and it might just be that because Larry is no longer behind that mike with his raspy voice.

Stars gave their good byes and Larry describes how the many friends he made through the years came to pay their last tributes to him. Barbara Walters said, "Television will never be the same."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said "In the U.S. mass media, there are many talented and interesting people. But, still, there is just one king there. I don't ask why he is leaving. But, still, what do you think? We have a right to cry out: 'Long live the King!' When will there be another man in the world as popular as you happen to be?"

In many respects, this is an adult book, with some coarse language that is akin to many entertainers off the air. However, the stories and insights to Larry's life on and off the stage are worthwhile. He discusses his very first celebrity interview with Bobby Darin in Miami Beach at Pumpernik's deli.

Larry King has interviews with so many people, that he could start his own Who's Who in having told their stories to him. He shares thoughts on other famous farewells and departures, from LeBron James, Bill Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Michael Jordon to Lou Gehrig and George Bush 43.

The joys of his extended, blended family and of being a 77-year-old father to young boys again (he coaches his sons' Little League team), and more.

"Truth Be Told" has anecdotes and behind-the-scenes insights. This is the story of a cultural icon and an unconventional family man. One of the outstanding characteristics he possesses is his love of suspenders, not the king you would hide under a suit coat, but those bright flashy ones that dress up his shirts!

Larry King founded the Larry King Caria Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars and provided lifesaving cardiac procedures to those who otherwise would be unable to receive the medical treatment they require. Since its inception, the Larry King Cardiac Foundation has served more than 700 individuals in the United States and abroad. He has shown that he is a true humanitarian.

This is an excellent book. Fans of Larry King will enjoy the inside look into his life and those people who have influenced him through the years. An entertaining four-star book that is enjoyable.

On The Island
Tracey Garvis Graves
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142196724, $15.00,

"Build it and they will come," was the theme of the movie "Field of Dreams" many years ago. There is a new theme on the block in "On the Island," "write it and they will clamor to read it!"

"On the Island" is a phenomenon in modern literary circles. Starting out as a self-published e-book, it came into the market as a hit among readers from the start. There are over 7,000 reviews by readers ranging from Amazon to GoodReads. It is an internet best seller and MGM is making it into a movie.

Many budding authors have tried to submit their books to recognized publishers and vast collections of rejections. Author Graves is no exception; she had 14 turndowns before publishing this book herself as an e-book. This is her first novel.

Major publisher, Plume, is a division of Penguin Group and is now handling the sales and distribution of this book as either a paperback or e-book. The first edition is starting with a 350,000 printing.

Enough with the success of the book let us get to the review and storyline. A 30-year-old tutor has accepted a summer position to bring a 16 year-old boy up to speed so that he can resume his education with his peers. He had to drop out of school because of cancer. When it went into remission, his parents decided to treat him to a vacation in the Maldives. The pilot of a private plane has a heart attack, crashes the plane into the ocean and both tutor and student survive. However, they arrive on an uninhabited island where they remain for several years!

Graves is able to keep your attention riveted on their survival. The two learn skills and they form a bond, which turns into a closer relationship as the years go by. Important techniques they use in their survival are getting fresh water and another is making fire.

A relationship between student and teacher is constantly on the mind of the tutor who maintains her decorum throughout their ordeal until the boy gains in maturity and becomes a young man. This turns into a loving relationship making this book for adults or those over 18.

E-books are now outselling hardcopy books according to media reports. During the next few years, it is going to become the media norm rather than the unusual. "On the Island" is the example of how to get a first novel published. The question remains whether or not achieving wide circulation through electronic means or by standard methods is the new way. Either answer is correct, since the writing of this novel is excellent! It stands alone as a five star book and one that is highly recommended as a great summer read.

Albert of Adelaide
Howard L. Anderson
Twelve Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455509620, $24.99,

"Albert of Adelaide" by Howard L. Anderson is very reminiscent of "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, which was published in 1945. The main characters are animals that live their parts on center stage though the travails of lives are vastly different.

Albert is a platypus who escapes from a zoo in Adelaide searching for "Old Australia." He is a delightful character who discovers he can be more than an object stared upon in a caged atmosphere. Carefully he travels along railroad tracks, crosses deserts, and always is in quest of his dream like a Don Quixote.

The first thought about this book was whether it was another children's book. The answer is a resounding no! This novel has messages embedded throughout which are definitely adult in nature, but because the characters are animals does not diminish the platitudes which are thematic throughout.

Differences in animals demonstrate individuality as well as people. There are bandicoots, kangaroos, and various other species throughout, but there is only one platypus. A duck billed platypus who is a male with poisonous spurs who can take down an enemy. Albert learns that he has the ability to fight and win. He obtains self-confidence so that he can become a leader rather than a follower.

Conflict is what normally keeps interest in many books and "Albert of Adelaide" has plenty. A posse goes into the desert in search of Albert for crimes he allegedly has committed. Efforts in his capture lead to poisoning of water holes by the posse as they use methods that are against society, but at the same time use the theory that the result justifies the means.

Humanizing of animals is accomplished by descriptions of their clothing, and how some of the animals are so persnickety about their appearance. They continually need to have their outfits laundered. Quite amusing is the concept of Albert carrying a backpack in which he has tins of sardines given him by one of his acquaintances. Albert does not like sardines, but takes them anyway to give to others.

An effect of alcohol on a few of the animals shows how they become ineffectual when they are drunk. Their attitudes and relationships with some become negative, but Albert is able to treat them with understanding and compassion.

"Animal Farm" is a classic recognized as one of the top 100 books of all time. "Albert of Adelaide" may not be in that category, but reading it is worthwhile. Using animals to convey messages is a great way to explore change necessary in society. We all search for Utopia; some never find it, but those who do realize that acceptance of life as you live it will enrich your relationship with others. This is a five star book that is highly recommended.

Clark Isaacs

Crocco's Bookshelf

The Coach House
Florence Osmund
Amazon Digital Services
B0082OKDJO, $4.99,

Things aren't always what they seem.

Tall, dark, and handsome describe the two men in Marie Marcheti's young life. Besides being from different ethnic groups, they are worlds apart in character, moral, and ethical strength.

Marie lost her mother when she was a young girl and never knew her father. The only information her mother shared was that her father was tall, dark, and handsome. Marie had no idea until she was in her late twenties that 'dark' meant Negro. Realizing she was a Mulatto in the 1940's left Marie with mixed feelings of confusion and fear.

Richard was her tall, dark, and handsome husband. In her gut she felt there was a secretive side to him, but she married him anyway, doubts and all. They were in love and enjoyed each other's company, but things aren't always what they seem. It didn't take long for Marie to decide to leave Richard.

Not taking this well, Richard stalks Marie. She desperately tries to find a place to live where he will never find her. But Richard's secret life involved corruption and it was easy for him to keep tabs on her every move.

Marie ends up in Atchison, Kansas renting a coach house apartment. It's located behind a beautiful Victorian home where her landlord's family lives.

Marie is an interior designer and left a good job in Chicago when she left Richard. When she ended up in Kansas, after working a menial job for a year, she was able to thrive once again as an interior designer. She made friends easily and Karen, her new best friend, helped Marie endure her life on the run from Richard in Kansas.

The settings in The Coach House are described beautifully by Florence Osmund. Chicago and its music venues, New York City, and San Francisco, we get to travel and enjoy these cities with Marie.

The character development is Osmund's strength in The Coach House. Each character becomes alive in chapter after chapter. It's hard to put down the book because we get so absorbed with each character - whether it's Marie, Richard, and Karen, or Richard's cohort doing his dirty work.

The Coach House is a superbly written book, in my opinion. It will leave the reader thinking about relationships, adversity, independence and growth, and prejudices. It's always nice to finish a good book with something to think about.

Tan - A story of exile, betrayal and revenge
David Lawlor
BeCreative Media Group
Amazon Digital Services
B007R40XEA, $2.99,

The essence of revenge

Tan is referred to the "Black and Tans" in Ireland. They consisted of soldiers who previously served and were brought into Ireland in 1919 by London's government. Their job was to assist the RIC, the Royal Irish Constabulary.

The first Black and Tan soldiers arrived in Ireland in March 1920. They accepted the job offered because they were unemployed and unskilled (except to fight in a war). So the main reason was pure and simple; money. They severely lacked discipline and found pleasure in terrorizing local communities during Ireland's War of Independence.

The story of exile:

The year is 1914; the place is Balbriggan, Ireland. A young man named Liam Mannion is accused of rape. He is beaten just shy of death by the ruthless RIC District Inspector Webber. In order to save his life, Liam's father helps him escape and he ends up in England. He enlists and fights in the war for five hellish years. Today we call it PTSD; in 1919 Liam deals silently with the memories of trench warfare.

Liam needs to find work, so he takes a job in a cotton mill in Manchester. Not only is the job hell physically, mostly because of the five years spent at war ruining his lungs, but the Brits don't like the Irish, so the prejudices were hell to put up with on a daily basis.

Since poor Liam could hardly breathe working in the mill, he quit. With no job and no food, he once again enlists, this time in the "Black and Tans." Ironically, he is assigned a post in Balbriggan, Ireland, his home town which he fled in 1914.

The story of betrayal:

Liam is now a Black and Tan, and his hometown friends fight for the republican cause and his own brother for the British Armed Forces. Again, poor Liam has to deal with fighting on the unscrupulous Tan side while he wrestles with his feelings of loyalty to friends and family.

The story of revenge:

Remember the beating he took from Inspector Webber? Well, you must read Tan - A story of exile, betrayal and revenge, to experience the essence of revenge.

David Lawlor's descriptions of violent combat battles are exceptionally compelling. However, he didn't lose sight of the fact his book was a historical fiction. Lawlor brilliantly introduces the family; Liam's brother Eoin, who is jealous of Liam, and his father, Dan, who he loves and respects.

Other characters including friends and women are perfectly woven into the story. It's a beautifully written novel in which to entertain and learn about this period of Irish history.

Let the Willows Weep
Sherry Parnell, Inc.
Amazon Digital Services
B00538B3XC, $3.99,

A story of family drama

Let the Willows Weep is about a dysfunctional family, the Harlin family. The mother carries with her a secret from a previous life which is supposed to explain her abusive behavior toward her family, especially her daughter. This is revealed in the last pages of the book. Depending on the reader, we can feel sympathetic or angry towards the mother. Did this secret justify putting her family through hell?

The father worked hard and always spoke highly of his wife to be respectful and a good role model. He made excuses for her behavior. Again, was this an admirable trait, or was he a coward?

The children, two boys and a girl had completely different relationships with each parent. There was favoritism and a lack of or too much discipline.

Let the Willows Weep tells the story of how each of these characters handles the dysfunction of their family. How does one child handle the love of one parent, but the neglect of the other? How does one child handle being the favorite? Lastly, how does one child handle being completely overlooked?

The story covers the usual dysfunctional family occurrences from day to day, such as abuse, neglect, jealousy, and anger. Major, even tragic events, take place, such as, love/hate relationships, prejudices, devastation, and death. We get to see how each character deals with these problems in their individual ways.

Sherry Parnell makes the story enjoyable with her beautiful writing style and being unpredictable. We get to know the characters well enough to predict their choices, but are surprised with a twist we never see coming. I think the best stories are unpredictable.

There are other characters in Let the Willows Weep that Sherry Parnell introduces who share in the Harlin family drama. They are as vivid as the Harlin family characters themselves.

Does the family survive the dysfunctional drama? Do any of the Harlin family members learn from the choices they made in their life?

I recommend the book; Let the Willows Weep for readers who enjoy stories about family hardships.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
Paulette Mahurin
Blue Palm Press
P.O. Box 61255
Santa Barbara, CA 93160-1255
097718661X, $14.95,

We are left to evaluate our own beliefs

The year is 1895; the place is a small town in Nevada. Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian and she lives with her partner, Edra.

Mahurin introduces her story using Oscar Wilde as the example as he was persecuted for being a homosexual in 1895. It is Wilde's conviction that gets this small town to vocalize their ignorance. We get to experience the townspeople's intolerance; prejudice, hatred, and bigotry. Mildred must endure this hell whenever she goes into town.

Mahurin is a genius developing her characters. Mildred should be a bitter, hateful woman but she is the opposite. She is a compassionate, tolerant, and loving human being. Even with her community hating her for her physical looks and her wealth, she still helps out the needy including the ones who hate her most.

Her partner, Edra, is a perfect companion and lover for Mildred. It makes the reader cringe to see how they had to live in this town full of hate.

The townspeople characters consist of nosy, stuck-up, ignorant, busy bodies that make up stories and gossip about Mildred's life. The husbands don't condone their behavior, they just ignore it.

Mildred does make a friend, a male friend, and Edra finally embraces the friendship. The story ends well enough, but the town has a long way to go, as do many towns today. I think this may have been the reason for writing the book.

As readers of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, we are left to evaluate our own beliefs. We need to think about changing the opinions of 1895 and be more tolerant in 2012.

I recommend this beautifully written book for readers of all ages.

William Gordon
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008BUMHMU, $5.24,

The year was 1878. The place was Byland Crescent, located in a town called Scarborough, on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England.

The story is about the Cowgill family that grew up in poverty. Albert was the son determined to free the family from impoverishment. He decided to learn the wool business early on and as a result he managed to become a respected, wealthy, business partner of a global wool merchant business. He was only twenty-three years old.

Albert did extremely well, being promoted often. The business grew and prospered because of his innovative ideas. The three partners were living well; married, children, maids, butlers, servants for their every need. Albert brought in family members to his firm to share the wealth.

Meetings were held involving deals and decisions were made for the thriving wool merchant business. There was honesty, integrity, and loyalty, however, the intrigue in Requiem was the conspiracies, manipulations, and deceptions. This perfect mixture is what made Requiem such an impressive book.

Partners came and went, employees were promoted and demoted, family members were disowned, and people were murdered. The author left nothing out of his remarkably chronicled family saga.

All this drama took place before the start of WWI. Then in the midst of the war, family life changed dramatically. Hence to say, maids, butlers, and servants for their every need were not part of daily life anymore. Everyone had to pitch in to help with the war. Tragedy affected every family. Some members came home wounded; others never made it home.

The family problems in Requiem were not just business and war related. Health issues of the early 1900's took many lives. Family problems concerned children who were disowned for being gay and others who married beneath parent's expectations.

I thought Requiem was a literary masterpiece which possessed each trait determined for a master work. For example, there were many characters and places yet there was never a time I was lost or confused. The author had an effective, subtle way in his style of writing to add a reminder just when it was needed.

This was my first book read by Bill Kitson, Writing as William Gordon, and it was a pleasure to start with Requiem. This was Book One of the Byland Crescent series. At the end of Requiem it states Book Two, is coming soon.

I recommend Requiem for readers of all ages as it's also an enjoyable way to learn history. I'm anticipating another great read when Book Two is released.

Conditioned Response (Phoenician Series #2)
Marjorie F. Baldwin
Phoenician Books
Amazon Digital Services
B007UQU3VI, $7.99,

Phoenicians co-existing with humans

The relationship between the Phoenicians and humans for 400 years is the story behind Conditioned Response. The Phoenicians, or humanoids, obtained power to store and project energy and used that to control life on their planet. When humans left Earth and lived on the Phoenicians planet, it wasn't the best of circumstances to say the least.

The main character, Shayla, is a Phoenician who lived against her will with humans for thirteen years. She and fellow members of a Council wanted to start a revolution and overthrow the society. Which society would that have been for Shayla, the Phoenicians or the humans?

It is difficult to form an opinion about the Phoenicians and the humans. They both have a caste system where certain people are treated like garbage and both planets are equally politically corrupt.

As the characters are developed, we learned some reasons for their bad behaviors, which helped sway an opinion to like or dislike a character. It helped to understand their background. There are numerous characters, and I would have liked previous knowledge earlier in the book that described them more in depth. I thought a list and a one or two sentence description in the beginning would have been a good idea.

There were many situations with Shayla and her bodyguard, Raif. It involved plenty of sexual tension between the two. This is a must for every good story.

I don't claim to be a sci-fi fan; however, my review may shed light on that very fact. I wasn't sure what to expect from Conditioned Response, but as a story in general, I would have liked an introduction. A set up would have been a helpful aid to the newly sci-fi reader.

The setting seemed like one or two little rooms. There were two planets involved, but never any mention or description to any traveling that took place.

The story did have lots of twists and turns, mysteries, unusual experiences, and sexual innuendo. It is also a story you can think about and I imagine it could be a discussion starter for how we treat society today.

Henry Herz
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
146646304X, $12.95,

Subtle lessons beautifully taught!

Nimpentoad is a beautifully written and illustrated fantasy adventure book for children. It is a subtle way to teach lessons about friendship, trust, courage, and thinking through situations. Herz also includes manners and trying new vegetables! I bet children actually eat vegetables after reading this story.

Nimpentoad is a Nibling and he lives in Grunwald Forest. There are many other creatures that live in the forest, some are nice and some are not. Niblings are very small and because of this they are picked on a lot every day in the forest.

Finally, Nimpentoad has had enough bullying. He comes up with a plan to travel with all the other Niblings to live with Goofus the Giant. His plan is to help the Giant do all the things he can't because he is too big. So children also learn being small has advantages, especially after seeing the Nibling's being bullied for so long because they were small.

It's a hard journey traveling through the forest and meeting up with all the other creatures who bully them. It took them five days, traveling a mile a day. This is where they all have to trust Nimpentoad and work together through the unexpected problems that come up.

I recommend Nimpentoad for ages five and up. Even adults will appreciate the humor.

It was written by Henry Herz and his two sons, Josh and Harrison, who are in elementary school. I think this is worthy of sharing with the children who read Nimpentoad.

Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight
Daniel M. Fife
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B0082CIJUQ, $2.99,

Dragons and Shadows!

Did a popular card game of middle school students come to life? The game was called 'Knights.' The middle school students who played the game were Danny, Doug, Matt, Alonso, and Chris. Of course when they played the game of Knights it was just a perfectly innocent card game. Until one day . . .

The boys started playing Knights over the summer. It was a game based on using fantasy creatures and knights of legend to ultimately defeat opposing players. The basis of the game was to confront the forces of neutral, good, and evil against one another. The three groups were Light, Gray, and Dark.

When the summer was over, Danny and all his best buddies were looking forward to their last year of middle school. Everything was the same until, yup, you guessed it, a really hot girl! Her name was Sabrina. And yup, you guessed it, much to Danny's surprise, she knew about the card game, Knights. So Danny had the biggest crush on her for her beauty and the fact she played the game, Knights.

This is where the story, Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight, really began with the fantasy adventures. When Danny was confronted by the school bully, he took him down, but can't figure out how he did it. Of course later he finds out it was Sabrina who helped him. But how? How can a little tiny girl break the nose of a big bully without being seen? Here was the story's first fantasy adventure. And oh, there were many more to come if you read this wonderful book by Daniel Fife.

Sabrina had a nice family. I didn't say normal, but I did say nice. What exactly do I mean? Is Sabrina a real person? Is she a dragon? Is she a shadow? Are her parent's real people? Danny finds out when he meets Sabrina after school one day. He saw a fight between two creatures, a dragon and a shadow. Sabrina became one of these creatures, but which one? Normal humans don't have the ability to see these creatures, but Danny did! So Sabrina explained why to Danny.

Being shocked for a few days was in order, wouldn't you say? However, because Danny possessed this rare ability, he decided he wanted to fight the forces of darkness with Sabrina, and her parents. He wanted to become a Knight of the Light.

Come to find out all his buddies possessed the same rare ability. So they all joined Danny to fight the forces of darkness. They attended a summer school in Florida called the White Rock Academy of Illumination. Of course none of the parents knew what this school was really about. They thought it was just an innocent fun summer school adventure.

Here there was magic on a magical ship. With danger lurking a wizard named Navi helped navigate, so they arrived safely and began their training to become knights. They learned how to fight along with learning the history of the Shadows.

Not all the teachers were on the up and up. Danny thought some in the Order of Light were betrayers. He felt he had a strong ability to become the Mageknight, so Danny used all his new knowledge he was trained for to see if he was right. Was he? Does he become the Mageknight?

This was a great fantasy adventure story all ages will enjoy. We see Danny and his friends, including Sabrina; grow up from immature middle school students to mature thinking students ready for high school.

If you want any of the questions answered here in my review, you must read the beautifully written book, Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel Fife. You won't be disappointed!

Freedom First, Peace Later
Jeanette Hewitt
Bluewood Publishing Ltd
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B004GKNN18, $2.99,

War Changes Lives

Jeanette Hewitt writes her poignant novel about the IRA (Irish Republican Army) by developing six characters that reside in Crossmaglen, a village in Northern Ireland.

Stu is an inexperienced British soldier, Barry is an undercover (double) agent, Bronwyn is Barry's fraternal twin and she is a brave, outspoken bartender, Rosina is Bronwyn's best friend, and is the complete opposite of Bronwyn. Danny is 100% IRA, and Connor was the secret boyfriend of Rosina, but ends up marrying Bronwyn.

These six characters and their families try to survive the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland. The war went on for over twenty years.

We see what war does to individuals and families. War changes people. Living with racism, bombs, and death everyday takes its toll.

There was hatred between the Catholics and Protestants, so much so that just walking on the wrong side of town was taking your life in your hands. The violent rituals were common, men were beaten to a pulp, kneecapped and crippled, and women were beaten and raped.

Stu, Barry, Bronwyn, Rosina, Danny, Connor, and their families live through hell and are subjected to all the violence at one time or another. Lives are lost. Lives are changed. Families are split up, some abandoned their own family members, and the drama is intense.

Everyone had to make life changing decisions to survive. Did everyone make it? You will have to read Freedom First, Peace Later, to find out who survived.

Jeanette Hewitt describes the setting vividly. Her characters are very different yet well developed. Freedom First, Peace Later has such a great flow that when I started the story I finished it and never noticed how long it took. I never put the book down.

As far as format, I would have preferred a table of contents.

I recommend Freedom First, Peace Later by Jeanette Hewitt to readers who enjoy learning history through a good novel.

Wrong Place Wrong Time
David P. Perlmutter
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008955FG2, $2.99,

The Walk from Hell

Such a harrowing experience, it took David P. Perlmutter twenty years to be able to put pen to paper and tell his true story, or nightmare may be a better word. We all make foolish mistakes, but David's mistake turned his life upside down.

After a night out drinking in London, David got behind the wheel. If that wasn't stupid enough, he made a nuisance of himself by driving like an idiot and neighbors justifiably called the police. He was thrown in jail overnight, and the next day he was fired. David had a great career as a realtor making great money. He not only lived in a luxury apartment but drove a BMW to boot.

Soon after being fired he appeared in court and his license was suspended for a year and he was ordered to pay a considerable fine. This resulted in having to move back with mom and dad giving up his life of luxury.

When all this really hit David, it hit him hard. He became depressed, reclusive, and a couch potato. He knew he couldn't continue on this path so he decided to escape to some fun in the sun, Marbella, Spain.

David is the first to admit he blew it. He spent money he didn't have and partied way too much. Eventually this took its toll. He did get a job of sorts, but that ended up badly with a busted up face. Of course a beautiful woman was involved, one usually is. So David was jobless again.

Having just a few bucks left and a bruised face David tries to find an out of the way bar to have a drink. Here he meets a couple, Peter and Rosa, who befriends him and he gets drunk with them. The guy is a loser, but the woman, Rosa, is a knock out. She flirts with David and again he gets himself in trouble. When he leaves the bar it's with Rosa. She takes him to her place and they have an incredible night of steamy hot sex. Of course David gets to eat and is back to feeling human again. They say their good-byes.

Again David loses his living quarters, an inexpensive hostel he was renting still owing back rent. Back to being penniless and jobless David spends his days and nights at the beach. He meets a crazy guy and they smoke weed together. He knows he's got to pull himself together. But how when all you own are the clothes you are wearing and look like hell?

Starving, stoned, filthy, and tired David finds himself in a nice hotel waiting room and falls asleep on the couch. When he is found, he is physically thrown out in the street. Guess who he runs into? The gorgeous Rosa. She takes him under her wings and after shower, sex, and clean clothes, they go to a party where David can eat free. Guess who they run into at the party? Peter. David doesn't want yet another bar scene, so he excuses himself politely and takes a walk. This is David's walk from hell.

So far you've seen David be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But this walk from hell takes his life to a whole new level. I've been spoon feeding you leading up to the core of the story. This is where the nightmare really begins. Now just try to remember, David really is a nice guy. He was young and foolish, yes, but didn't deserve what happened to him while taking this walk.

I'm going to leave out a lot of details because you really have to read David P. Perlmutter's account yourself to get the gist of what happened. You have to read David's words to feel what he experienced.

On his walk he sees a building on fire. Let's remember David is once again drunk, he's out of shape from doing nothing and he's suffering from malnutrition. He can't believe the intensity of the fire. As he stares at the fire trucks arriving he hears a woman screaming for help.

This is why you must read David's account. He writes what happened with such intensity. All I will say is he saved two lives on this day. Did he get recognized? Oh yeah, but not in a good way. David made another foolish mistake and stole two credit cards while looking for other victims in the building.

His dad had told him Spain's police were the worst. David experiences this in the worst possible way. He is arrested and treated like a true foreigner and a piece of garbage.

A journalist with his own personal agenda takes David under his wing. Understandably, David is too vulnerable at this time to realize he's getting screwed. Does he get out of the pig sty of a jail? Does he go to court and have a trial? Is he found guilty or innocent? Does he spend the rest of his life in Spain in prison?

Wrong Place Wrong Time is a must read. It's hard to believe it's a true story. How is David today? Where does he live? One can only imagine the nightmares he must still endure. He shares with his readers what he goes through on a daily basis even twenty three years later. It took David three years to complete his book.

David P. Perlmutter claims he is not an author. This is his first piece of writing. He was encouraged to get it out of his system by those who love him. This should give you a clue as to the intensity of the story.

I disagree with David's perception of himself as a writer. Wrong Place Wrong Time is written beautifully. It is a heartfelt and amazing story of courage and stamina. I'm not sure how many people would be able to live through this and then write about it.

Thank you for sharing your story David. I wish you the best.

Navigating Life's Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey
Deborah L. Parker
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008FQDPYE, $9.99,


Navigating Life's Roadways is an account of Deborah L. Parker's life. She begins her story after her mother's death as this was an extremely emotional time for her.

I could never take away someone else's memories or life's lessons learned, however, to me this was just another book of relatively similar memories and life lessons communicated.

While acknowledging Deborah's beautiful style of writing, using quotes, proverbs, and metaphors, it has been done many times over. I was hoping to read some original enlightening words and/or phrases. Sadly, this wasn't the case.

Each time I choose a book to read I expect to learn something new. I am also a cancer survivor and I struggled to find new inspirations to augment my knowledge. I'm not saying I knew every quote, proverb, or metaphor in the book, just that the messages were stale.

For readers who may not have previously read an inspirational memoir, Navigating Life's Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey would be an insightful revelation.

Mary Crocco, Reviewer

Daniel's Bookshelf

77 Shadow Street
Dean Koontz
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780553807714, $28.00,

My first time reading Dean Koontz was with his novel Watchers, and I keep getting back to him from time to time. I have so many favorite authors, and Koontz is a master story-teller and writes in a suspense thriller genre' I enjoy reading. He has a knack for writing about people, that keeps the reader interested with the characters he introduces or continues in his novels. I picked up this novel as it sounded interesting and kind of macabre.

There is a plush condominium entitled with the address of 77 Shadow Street, and for all extensive purposes, it is not a normal house. A resident, Earl Blandon, while trying to get to his complex residence uncovers a strange incident, but he is unaware of what is going on. The security on duty, Devon Murphy, notices something strange had happened to Blandon. He was tracking him on camera from the time he entered the building., as he was indirectly told to do so especially in the elevator by the board of Pendleton Property. The mural in the elevator was pointed out to be a problem to Earl for his own personal reasons. As the rest of the residents are going through their day to day activities, they start to hear strange sounds in their residences including other common areas, available to all the residents. Now one of the resident is guilty of murders following the long history of the place dating back to the late 1800s. It seems that the ghosts of the building's past are coming back in ghostly forms to appear in rooms or hallways to some of the people. They walk through walls and disappear after conversing. Some are other apparitions of horrific creatures. Whatever elements drove the past inhabitants to their unspeakable fates is happening again. One individual of the condominium is killing people following the building's past history of deaths every thirty-seven years. Everyone who lives within the Pendleton's walls will be engulfed by its deadly past, which few have been allowed to escape. The singular inhabitants hold the key to humanity's destiny. Their efforts force them to stick together on this gripping journey to what ever happens. The residents discovered this has become their price when residing at 77 Shadow Street.

Private Games
James Patterson & Mark Sullivan
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781455513024, $27.99,

James Patterson has written both stand-alone and co-authored fast action packed thrillers. I actually prefer his stand alone books the best, and this series is a newer one which moves along with either Maxine Paetro and now he uses Mark Sullivan. I like to have his books to propell into a quick story which interesting plots. This particular series being an investigative firm fits my bill to delve into something different to read. I read so many different authors, so I can squeak his books easily into between more descriptive novels. James Patterson novels are noted for having relatively short chapters, taking very little effort for this reader to get moving into the plot.

The world's most recognized commissioned investigative firm is secured as security for the 2012 Olympic games being held in London. Private has agents who are the smartest, fastest and technologically advanced on the earth. They have to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries. The problem is that with all these resources it really doesn't matter, if someone is going to calculate to disrupt the event in spite of all this security. Peter Knight to called to a scene of a ruthless murer concerning a high ranking member of the Games organizing committee. This crime was apparent to Knight, that it one of percise calculation and not passion. A newspaper reporter named Karen Pope receives a letter from a person named Cronus claiming responsibility for the murder. Karen Pope hires Private to investigate the letter, while they attempt to uncover this criminal master mind. His intentions seem intent on creating havoc and disrupting the modern Games. The problem has already escalated by a few of the early events by him. No one is safe near the Olympics, and the best security force's best agent has a new threat emerging on his own personal home front. His children are to be used as targets by Cronus, and Knight isn't aware of it. His focus is leading him away towards the perpetrators, who are killing or maiming innocent athletes. He has to step up his vigilance, and he has to protect his family. The conclusion places him against Cronus, and his highly trained agents named furies in an exciting battle with Knight. They won't be easily diverted from their mission.

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than other writer. This is according to Guinness World Records. His first novel won the Edgar Award in 977 and he has Alex Cross series, Women's Murder Club novel series, along with a detective series with the main detective named Michael Bennett. He also has written books for young readers including Maximum Ride, Daniel X, Witch & Wizard and the Middle School series. His latest adult novels out on the book stands along with Private Games are the 11th Hour and Kill Alex Cross, and Guilty Wives. His book I, Michael Bennett was just released.

Daniel Allen

Don Martin's Bookshelf

Christine Hughes
Black Opal Books
PO Box 504, Parkdale, OR 97041
9781937329518, $2.99 (ebook), $11.99 (paperback)

Our story concerns Samantha English. An ordinary teenage girl. She lives with her father, a doctor, and two young men she considers brothers. Although she is not related to them her father took them in very young when their parents were killed. One is her age, the other a year older. For the most part, the family gets along well.

Her father often goes on overseas trips to tend to people who have little in the way of medical services. On one such trip the SUV he was traveling in was ambushed and all the occupants were killed in a robbery of medical supplies. Or that's the story Sam was told. That wasn't exactly what happened, though.

Sam and her brothers try to go on the best they can, although Sam is a swirl of mixed emotions. She is devastated by her father's death, and just can't sort things out. But she starts to notice she has a few special abilities. She can, for example, repair things. She can take a twig, snap it in half, put the broken ends together, think about it some, and the twig will be in one piece again. She also has the power to recall things. She can take a stone, throw it as far out into the nearby lake as she can, sit down on the bank, and ask the rock to return to her hand. It always does.

So Sam not only has to deal with the grief of her father's death, she also has to figure out what is happening to her. And she discovers she has more powers. She can break things, like windows, by thinking about it. She can also heal. She can heal both herself and others. Things are getting strange.

Her brothers decide it is time to explain things to Sam. They sit her down and lay it out. Sam is an angel. So are the two brothers. As well as her father and mother. To prove it one of her brothers shows Sam his wings. Sam has a hard time accepting this, but considering all the strange things lately it makes some sense. Her family belongs to the Faithful angels. Their mission is to help out humanity. There is also a band of Exiled or Fallen angels who are out to destroy humanity. The two branches are constantly at war with each other. Since Sam has some extraordinary powers she would be a good warrior on the side of good. He brothers and others start to train her, to make her physically strong, as well as to refine her abilities.

There is a longstanding folk tale that says eventually an angel will appear who can walk equally well with the dark angels and the light angels. Although Sam's family associates with the Faithful (light) angels, she comes to learn her father was a dark angel. So she has both dark and light blood in her. She is conflicted, and the dark angels have quite some appeal for her. This is not a coincidence. The dark angels have been closely following her, looking for any weakness, and want to recruit her to their side. If she is indeed an angel of mixed blood she may have unlimited powers, which the fallen angels could exploit.

Suddenly, her brother Lucas betrays Sam. He crosses over to the dark angels. But Sam is falling in love with Ethan, her other brother. Ethan does what he can to protect her, but the Fallen angels have declared a full-out war on the Faithful angels, to get Sam. They will kill whoever they have to to win her. They will also kill her if she refuses to cross over. Will Sam and Ethan be able to rally the Faithful angels and defeat the Fallen?

This is a spectacular first novel by a new author. A sequel has been announced, and I look forward to it. The characters and plot in the book are solid. The novel essentially explores thoughts of uncertainty, confusion, and not knowing what to believe. There is plenty of action, and lots of suspense. Highly recommended.

Whisper Cape
Regan Walsh
Amber Glow Books
9780615585734, $2.99 (ebook), $14.99 (paperback)

Whisper Cape is billed as a Sensual Paranormal Romance. Sounds very interesting. And it is.

The story concerns Addison "Addie" MacKenna. Growing up as a normal child there was nothing unusual about her. But after the recent death of her father she began to have nightmares. Every night. The nightmares seemed to be trying to tell her something, but she couldn't figure them out. The only concrete thing she had of her father was a single note he had written shortly before he died. It said simply, "Addison will come of age soon. Then she will inherit the powers."

The town Addie lived in, Whisper Cape, was fairly quiet. Until a series of gruesome killings. The police attributed them to either a bear or a mountain lion. But Addie wasn't so sure. Local legend said there was a maniac around; he had always been there, and killed people on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was claimed if you went to the cliffs at night you could hear the voices of the dead. Hence, "Whisper Cape."

One morning, driving to work, Addie hits a man crossing the road. Concerned, she pulled her truck over and investigated. There was nobody to be found. She was sure she had killed him, because it was a very hard impact. But no injured man. But she had caught a glimpse of his face just before she hit him, and she would never forget that face.

Then the stranger started to show up in her life. The bar she worked at. The beach. The cliffs. He was always there. She had to get to know him. And she had started to see some unusual things happening. She could turn on the TV on just by thinking about it. In fact, she could control any electrical device just by thinking abut it. She could toast bread by thinking about it. Were these the "powers" her father referred to in his final note?

The stranger she thought she had killed, but kept showing up, was Cael. She approached him, and did get to know him. About all he would say he was in town "on business." But Addie knew there was something more there. So she dug. As it turns out Cael had some of his own special powers. Far beyond what Addie could do. And Cael knew her father. They were members of a secret society of people who had special powers. The secret society had two unique "keys." One was a manuscript, the other a locket. Anyone who possessed both could have unlimited powers, and would rule the earth. And, Addie had both of them.

Cael eventually tells Addie what "business" he is on. Eidolon, another member of the secret society, suspects Addie has the two keys. And he will kill her, and Cael, to get them. Cael is her protection, her bodyguard. That's why he keeps showing up. Eidolon is a shape shifter, and he is very good at it. That is, he can appear as any person or animal he wants. He can also take over any person. Addie and Cael are never really sure who, or what, Eidolon is. But Cael is not only Addie's protector. He is also her teacher. He needs Addie to expand and perfect her powers, so together they can defeat Eidolon.

So the book describes two lovers who both have special abilities, and their mission is to find the shape shifter and destroy him. Walsh takes us on an enjoyable, and incredible, journey as the two try to find Eidolon, to save their own lives. Some scenes are intense, but well written. And Eidolon is not who you think he is. You will be shocked when Walsh finally reveals his real identity.

Although Whisper Cape is sold as a romance, it is also a good mystery. Fans of romance novels will enjoy the book, because there is plenty of romance in it. Fans of mystery will enjoy the unexpected twists and turns in the story. There is nothing not to like about Whisper Cape. The book is well written, and character and plot development are solid. The book will keep you on the edge of your seat during the scary parts, and you will relax and sink back into your chair during the romantic parts. Regan Walsh intertwines the two themes perfectly. Highly recommended.

Blood is Heavier
Ella Medler
Privately Published
9781476448633, $3.99 (ebook)

Nick Hunter is a killer. A hitman. He is paid to kill people. And he is very, very good at it. Never once has he come even close to being caught. And never once has he been a suspect. That is because he is a brilliant tactical planner. He doesn't look at a hit as a killing. It is a job. And as a job he needs to plan it down to the last detail. What will he do if something goes wrong? What if the scene was not as he expected it to be? If needed, he plans things down to the second. Ideally, he likes to get in, do the killing, and get out in under a minute. With nobody seeing him.

But Nick has retired from the business. He is not always sure who his client is anyway. One he knows about is Dollar De La Rue. Dollar is a criminal mastermind living in London. And he is ruthless. Nick has done some contract jobs for him. Dollar has surrounded himself with equally ruthless people. They would rather kill you than talk to you. Nick is not really comfortable with that sort.

Nick moves to Providenciales, an island in the Turks and Caicos. It is pretty much a tropical paradise, and he hopes it is far enough away from his former associates. He shortly discovers Tequila is also living there. Nick knows who Tequila is. She was in the same line of work Nick was in. And she was also very good at it. Both hired killers, they sometimes consulted with each other on jobs.

One night Nick and Tequila are at a local bar. Nick notices a despondent young woman on the beach. He asks Tequila to ask her if Nick can talk to her. Tequila goes over and the young woman agrees. Nick talks to her, and starts to fall in love with her. And she is falling for Nick. They start seeing each other, and are married on the exact spot where they first met. Not long afterwards, they have their first child, a son named Cameron. They are happy.

But things change. Nicks friends start to be killed. After each killing he gets a message from his former associates saying they need him back at work. The have a hit that only he can do. He refuses. One day, driving up his driveway, his house explodes. A woman's body is found in the ruins, and is identified as his wife. His son is also kidnapped, and will be killed if he doesn't accept the new hit.

This begins a complicated but enjoyable tale with a lot of twists and turns. The criminal syndicate has underestimated Nick. He appears to go along with all the suggestions for the hit they want done, but the whole time he is really planning to kill all of them. Tequila is around, and she helps Nick out where she can, but she can't tell him everything she knows or how she knows it. For example, she knows Nick's wife is still alive. Can Nick and Tequila kill all the syndicate and rescue Nick's wife and son?

Blood is Heavier is a solidly written book. Characters are well developed, and there are two separate plots wound around each other. It falls into the action/suspense genre, and there is plenty of action and plenty of suspense. The tropical setting, where life is slow and easy, is a nice contrast for the story of two contract killers who are out to kill a bunch of people as soon as they can. Highly recommended.

Lawyers In Hell
Janet Morris & Chris Morris
Kerlak Enterprises, Inc.
Kerlak Publishing
1779 Kirby Parkway, Suite 1-373, Memphis, TN 38138
9781937035020, $19.95,

Hell is in trouble. The upper gods, who rule the space between heaven and hell, have been hearing rumors about hell. So the talk goes, hell is being mismanaged. Injustice is not being equally distributed. And worse yet, hell seems to be a comfortable place for most people there. So the gods send in an audit team (of lawyers), to discover what is wrong with Hell, and correct the problems.

As it turns out, the rumors are true. Only the worst of the worst go to the lower levels of Hell, where there is eternal torture and fire. Most people there are there for relatively minor sins. Seems God originally sent down 350 commandments. Moses was lazy and only decided to reveal the most important 10. But if you broke any of them, even if you didn't know about them, you were going to hell. Many live in New Hell City, which is essentially a fairly modern city (think New York City). You can have a fancy house with a flat-screen TV, a car with a chauffeur, a cellphone, and a computer with Internet service (however sporadic), and servants. As long as you follow the unjust laws you are safe from torment. Even if you don't follow the laws the worst that will happen is you will be killed again, and end up on Slab 1 in the morgue. There you will be repaired, and released back into New Hell with a warning.

Lawyers in Hell is a collection of 22 short stories, all related to each other. It reads more like a novel than an anthology. Basically, it explains the justice system in hell. There is a Department of Injustice, and the Injustice Courts. And there are plenty of lawyers to take your case. There are a few minor annoyances in Hell. The first is that the legal system in Hell changes every few days. It may be ancient Greek law for a while, then switches to Irish law during the Dark Ages, and then to modern Egyptian law. So your lawyer never knows which law will apply to you, or how to argue your case. The other annoyance is that you can never accomplish anything you set out to do. Hell is a place of endless frustration, but if you can overlook that you will do just fine.

Rapture Elevator concerns Kinmont Willie, a soul who lived in the 1500's. Kenmont was a petty criminal, robbing and stealing, but only from the British (he was Scottish, and had no love for the Brits). Willie had escaped from jail, and as he left he set fire to it. In the ruins the body of a woman was found, and Willie was charged with murder. On earth he was acquitted, because the body had been badly hacked up, and it appeared the woman was already dead before the fire started. But upon his death Willie was subject to Divine Justice. He was found guilty, and condemned to Hell.

Willie has decided he was unfairly condemned and has appealed his sentence. He has a good lawyer, Richard "Dick" Nixon. Nixon is known as a talented man, just not very ethical. On the day of the appeal Willie and Nixon show up at the injustice court. As usual, there is a Rapture Elevator there. This leads directly to heaven, if the doomed is successful at presenting his case.

Willie and Nixon win the case, and Willie is placed on the Rapture Elevator. He is finally going to heaven, where he belongs. The elevator starts to rise, and Willie is getting closer by the minute. But at the very last minute there is one final legal detail to attend to. Will Willie make it to heaven after all?

Tail of a Tail is about Napoleon, Myles Standish, Atilla the Hun, and Duke Ellington.

The first part of the story concerns how you deal with a homeowner's association in Hell. They have them, and they are very strict. For example, your grass can only be 3 inches tall. But grass in hell grows faster than that. So you have to mow your lawn every day, sometimes more than once. You also can have no weeds in your yard. But weeds easily grow all over Hell. So you'll spend hours every day pulling weeds.

The second part of the story concerns a new neighbor. Nobody has met him, or even seen him. Napoleon is assigned the job of evaluating the guy, since he lives next door. Napoleon is not happy about this, but does knock on the door a few times, to no response. But one night, relaxing in his backyard, Napoleon sees the neighbor. He is a demon. This is a problem, because demons are not allowed to live with the dead humans. This puts the HOA into an uproar. The demon will have to be evicted, and that, of course, requires lawyers.

And Injustice For All concerns Marie Antoinette. As the former Queen of France she has lived a comfortable life in Hell. Until she bought a doll from Prophecy Dolls, LLC. These are the shrunken heads of all the best seers and mystics that have lived. Marie got Rasputin. And the prophecies Rasputin tells are all wrong. Following his advice, Marie has lost much of her wealth, and will be evicted into unwelfare housing shortly. That's where the bums in hell live. There is only one thing she can do. Sue her shrunken head. But Rasputin points out the fine print in the instructions. It says that the doll will tell you a prophecy, but you don't have to believe it. Marie needs a good lawyer.

She settles on John Pym. In the early 1600's he led the notorious "Long Parliament" which tried to impeach the king and throw the nobles out of government. In the English Civil War he solidly backed the rebels, and there was a warrant out for his arrest. He died before it could be served.

It looks like they have an airtight case. After all, the doll did give her bad prophecy. That was right up until the judge entered. He was a demon, not a dead human judge. And demons are known for the injustice they mete out. Marie may well end up in a worse place than she was headed, doll or not.

Lawyers in Hell is a part of the Heroes From Hell series, which dates to the 1980's. It is very much collaborative fiction. For example, there are 22 authors for Lawyers in Hell. Janet and Chris Morris, the lead authors, lay out the story arc, and write the bookend stories. Then they invite in a few writers who have never been published, and a novelist or two who have never written short fiction. They mix these with established short-story writers, many of whom have won awards. The stories are then rigorously edited, so they flow into each other.

Debut writers in Lawyers in Hell who are publishing their first fiction include Larry Atchley, Jr., Sarah Hulcy, Leo Champion, and Richard Groller.

Novelists writing their first short fiction include Scott Oden.

These share equal billing with C.J. Cherryh, Nancy Asire, Michael Z., Janet & Chris Morris, Nancy Asire, Michael Armstrong, C.J. Cherryh, Jason Cordova, Deborah Koren, Allan F. Gillbreath, Bruce Durham, Michael H. Hanson, Edward McKeown, David L. Burkhead, Kimberly Richardson, Michael Z. Williamson, Bradley H. Sinor and John Manning.

Amelia's Destiny
D. G. Torrens
Amazon Digital Services
B008663QEC, $3.49 (ebook)

Amelia Travis is about to turn 18. To say her childhood had been tough would be an understatement. When her father left the family, her mother (who had no instincts of a mother) turned the young children over to State Services. Amelia was separated from her brother and two sisters, and lived in government orphanages and occasionally foster care. She grew up essentially alone, with no significant adult interaction aside from the little she got from her caregivers (who she didn't trust). Now she would be an adult. She has some dreams. She would like to find a man, marry, and have a family, she wants to be financially independent, and she wants to travel. This is her story.

The most pressing need for Amelia is to find a place to live. The youth hostels are always an option. But she has heard stories about them. Drug use is rampant. They are places where young adults with no ambition and no future go to burn out, and return in many cases to State Services, or prison. Her other option is to beg her mother to take her in. This is also not attractive, because her mother is a mean, spiteful woman. But Amelia does not earn enough at her job to afford rent, so it's going to be one or the other.

Amelia goes to her mother. To her surprise her mother takes her in, with conditions. Lots of conditions. Amelia will have to pay most of her paycheck in rent. She will have to pay for phone calls. All the communal items in the house (things like toothpaste and shampoo) are off limits to her. If she wants those, she'll have to buy them herself. It will be a very strict life, but at least she'll have a place to stay.

So Amelia moves in, and it is every bit as bad as she expected. Her mother is constantly telling her how worthless she is, how ugly she is, how the clothes she wears make her look horrible, and anything else to degrade her. And phone calls, which are limited to a few minutes, are 10 pounds (US $15) each. Her mother is trying to bleed her dry, to the point where she will never save enough money to be able to live on her own.

Amelia thinks she may be pretty enough to do some modeling. She enters a contest, and to her surprise she wins and is offered a modeling contract. Modeling is pretty easy work. Might take a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday, but you can earn up to a week's wages. Amelia also takes a new job which pays significantly more than her current job. She doesn't tell her mother about the modeling or the new job, because her mother would just raise her rent and keep her broke. Amelia is finally starting to accumulate some savings, and the end appears to be in sight.|

She agrees to spend the weekend with Dean. Dean is in love with Amelia, but she has no feelings for Dean other than friendship. But Dean introduces her to Peter. The two hit it off immediately, and soon become lovers. Then they get a lucky break. One of Peter's friends is going to serve six months on a cruse ship. He needs to rent his flat. Amelia and Peter check it out. The rent is reasonable, and together they can easily cover it. So they move in as a couple. Amelia is now away from her domineering mother, in a different city in fact. Amelia is moving up in her career, and Peter is doing well for himself. It looks like marriage may be in the cards.

Amelia continues doing new things. She goes to college and gets a Certified Financial Planner certificate. This opens doors for her at the very upper levels of corporations. Before long she is responsible for managing tens of millions of pounds a month. She is very good at it, and is paid well. Her and Peter have broken up, but she dates other men. She has a wide circle of friends, and an active social life. She has enough money to travel, and she starts to visit foreign countries. First with friends, then alone. Everything looks too be going perfectly.

But it's not. First, she has not found a man she wants to spend her life with. But more importantly, she has not escaped her past. It continually drags on her. She goes into deep depressions, where she is not able to work or do much else for weeks at a time. She also wants to find her brother and sisters, as well as her father and grandparents. But she has very little information on them - not even their names. Will Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, be able to overcome her past, overcome the depression which haunts her, meet the man of her dreams, and find her family?

Amelia's Destiny is the story of a strong woman, with very specific goals in mind. But there are roadblocks to just about everything she tries to do. Nothing in her past has set her up to be successful. She is not well educated, but she is very intelligent. Author Torrens tells an enjoyable story of a young woman who digs deep into herself to overcome some things most people never face. You will get to know Amelia very well. You will feel for her as she struggles, and you will celebrate with her when she triumphs. The writing is crisp and sharp, and just like Amelia goes right to the point.

This book is the second book in a series. I did not read the first book, Amelia's Story, which details the earlier part of Amelia's life. But you don't have to have read the first one, because this book stands on its own. But if you are like me you will be buying the first book, to see how this story started out. Highly recommended.

Bitten By Regret (Book 2 of the Just One Bite series)
Kay Glass
Privately Published
B007TEXFYS, $2.99 (ebook)

Diandra Malone lives with her life partner Lizbeth and her small daughter RayLyn in the small town of Bethany Beach. They live a fairly quiet life. Diandra is a stay-at-home Mom, and Lizbeth is a police detective. They are just like any family you'd expect to see. They have a nice house on the beach, their cleaning woman Margaret, and money is not an issue. There is only one thing different. Diandra is a vampire.

Diandra lived with her husband Jonah until just before RayLyn was born. He was killed in unusual circumstances. But Jonah is also a vampire, and vampires are immortal. As far as the local police and authorities are concerned he is dead and buried. But as far as Jonah is concerned he is alive and well.

When Jonah was killed Diandra received a generous life insurance payment, more money than she could use. So she set up a charity to feed the homeless. This is a perfect business for her; she can run it alone from home. Although she knows Jonah is still alive, she doesn't expect to see him.

That all changes one morning when Jonah shows up on the doorstep, demanding to see his daughter. He is in rough shape, and has obviously been living on the streets. Diandra explains to Jonah that she has built a new life, with a new partner, and they are raising RayLyn together, as a family. Diandra makes it clear she does not expect to see Jonah again.

As it turns out Jonah needs a favor from Diandra. Something is out to kill him, for good. Dia is the most powerful vampire he knows. She is also associated with Eamon, a shape-shifter. Between the two of them they may be able to protect Jonah.

They consult with Eamon. He is an ancient, and knows more than most paranormals do. He listens to what Diandra and Jonah have to say, and considers it. After some time he says that The Council has passed a death sentence on Jonah. The Council controls all the vampires, but they usually stay out of the day-to-day lives of them. Unless they break a rule. And Jonah has broken a rule. He had "turned" Diandra against her will. Making a human into a vampire without their consent is punishable by death. The Council has spoken, and Jonah will die.

Diandra thinks she may have better luck with The Council. Eamon puts her in touch, and she argues leniency for Jonah. The Council won't remove the death sentence, but they will suspend it while they consider the new evidence Diandra has provided. Eventually they will make a final ruling, but for now Jonah is safe.

Meanwhile, Lizbeth gets an interesting case. Heroin is being cut for the street with pure arsenic. Any junkie who uses it will die, and they are dying. And, as it turns out, that's how Jonah (also a police detective) died. The police know this, but have never released the information because they would have to admit they had a "dirty cop" on staff. Jonah wasn't an addict himself. He was just extorting money from dealers. He was killed for that. (Or was he?)

Jonah begins to think if he can eliminate Lizbeth he can win Diandra back. If he kills her he will have violated another rule (vampires are not allowed to kill humans). The Council would again sentence him to death. But it may be worth it. He starts to show up at all hours of the day and night asking to see his daughter. This puts a strain in the relationship between Diandra and Lizbeth. To counter this Diandra puts in strict rules on visiting. Which Jonah ignores. He thinks the more Diandra sees him the more likely it is she will return to him. To top off this domestic uncertainty, RayLyn, not yet a year old, seems to have some special powers herself.

Will Jonah be able to win back Diandra? And what of Lizbeth's tainted heroin case? The more she looks into it the more it looks like it is not just drug gangs. There seem to be vampires involved. Who are they working for? Was Jonah killed because he was stealing from drug dealers, or because he was a vampire? And what will come of RayLyn? She is young, but has special powers. What will she become? These are the questions the final 2/3 of the book will answer.

Bitten by Regret is one of those books I just couldn't put down. It starts off strong, and just keeps getting stronger. The characters are well developed, and the plot is strong with just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. It's hard not to feel for Diandra, who is living a supernatural life she thought she'd left behind. This is the second book of a trilogy, but it stands on it's own. I look forward to reading the other two. Highly recommended.

Kay Glass is the author of the Just One Bite series, the short stories Heaven Can Be Hell and Table of Blood, and the upcoming Strange Curses series. She also writes and publishes under the pen name Kendra Glenn. She lives in Delaware with her husband, their two children, and a variety of beloved pets. When she's not writing, she can be found reading, swimming, and spending time with her family.

Jennifer Loiske
Translated from Finnish by Aino Artell
Lulu Press
Amazon Digital Services
147093996, $5.99 ebook, $15.46 paperback

Our story concerns a typical Finnish family. David and Sophia are mom and dad, and they love each other dearly. They have two children, Clarissa who is 16, and Marie, who is 15. They also have two dogs, Bruun and Flow, who are wolf hybrids. They have a nice house, and live a comfortable life. Dad goes to work during the day, the kids go to school, and mom sees to the household. They have only one secret. Sophia is not human. She is a shape-shifter. She is a wolf, although she can be a bird or a human as well.

If you have ever wondered what a shape-shifter is all about this is a book you need to get. It explains all about it. For those unaware a shape-shifter is an animal who can appear in various forms. A weak shape-shifter can only appear in their alternate form for a few seconds or a few minutes. A powerful one can live as their alternate for many years.

Sophia is a very powerful one. Not only can she shift shapes, she can read minds and she can take control of minds. Over hundreds of years she has risen to be the beta in her pack. Second in command only to the alpha. Shape-shifters are immortal. Sophia decides to spend a lifetime as a human. She falls in love with David and they marry as humans. Sophia has no intention of telling anyone, even her own family, what she is. Her pack still keeps tabs on her though. And her identity is about to be revealed.

One hundred ninety-two years ago she was bonded to Gunward, the alpha of the pack. When shape-shifters are bonded they will be together for eternity. Nobody, except perhaps the Elders, can do anything about that. But Gunward started doing things, like random killings, which upset Sophia. So she shifted into a bird and flew far enough away she thinks Gunward won't find her. But Gunward has spent 190 years looking for her, and he now finally has a pretty positive lead. So he calls some of his pack together and goes to visit her. Sophia can sense other paranormals if they are around, and she senses the pack. She also senses Gunward is with them.

One night part of the pack visits one of Sophia's daughters. She is terrified, of course. Sophia picks up on this and rushes to her. She orders the young men to leave, since she is their beta (second in command). But David sees it. Sophia has no real choice but to reveal to David what she is. He takes it about as well as you can expect, upon being informed his wife is not a human but some sort of monster.

Gunward does show up. He explains he has come to claim her. To Sophia's dismay she finds she still loves him. But she loves her husband as well. What should she do? She explains she will be available after David's natural death. Until then Gunward can hang around, as long as he orders his pack to have nothing to do with the family.

But one night the six youngest wolves, led by Adam, launch a plot. They kidnap Marie. They are going to hold her until Sophia agrees to leave David and return to Gunward. This leads them to Tiamhaidh, another wolf who eventually gains custody of the kidnapped girl. But he has fallen in love with Marie, and she with him. He returns her to her family, on the condition he can live with her.

Not only does Tiamhaidh move in, but six other shape-shifters do as well. David is very unhappy living in a house full of paranormals. He is also unhappy that Gunward often stops by, and is obviously courting his wife. But the worst may be yet to come. Clarissa is showing signs of being a shape-shifter. It was thought a shape-shifter can not be born of a shape-shifter/human cross. It's never happened. Clarissa will be the first one. David becomes estranged from his wife, and orders her and all her paranormal friends to leave.

Clarissa discovers she can shift, but only for a second or two at a time. She will get more powerful. But word of her spreads rapidly. Nobody knows what powers a shape-shifter/human hybrid will have. It is thought they might have extreme powers, far beyond anything they have seen. Adam starts to date her. But Sophia is uncomfortable with this, because Adam engineered the kidnapping of Marie. So she asks Gunward to take care of the problem, and he banishes Adam for a year. The Ciall steps in. But Sophia doesn't want her daughter dating a shape-shifter at all. And a rival pack lets it be known the are willing to fight a war over Clarissa. Then the bottom drops out and all hell breaks loose.

We have two packs of shape-shifting wolves which are fighting internally and externally. We have a brand new shape-shifter who is not sure what is happening to her. We have a shape-shifter who has fallen in love with the mortal daughter. David and Sophia are estranged. And Sophia is stuck in the middle, trying to hold everything together.

Imminence is a solid book. Chock full of action and more twists and turns than you can count, it is an enjoyable read. Sophia emerges as very strong, but she is still conflicted about whether she should return to Gunward and her pack or stick with David. You will feel her tensions as she starts to sort through her life, which used to be quiet and perfect, but is now a real mess. Recommended.

Don Martin

Duncan's Bookshelf

The Whole Truth
Baldacci, David
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017
9780446195973, $26.99 / est. $16.95 in book club

Perception Management is a process of proclaiming the truth to a million (or millions) of people via the Internet and video sites, with the deliberate purpose of 'molding' the truth to fit your agenda.

Nicolas Creel (spelled 'bad guy') runs Ares, the world's largest defense (that is an oxymoron) contractor and he hires Dick Pender to 'perception manage' the world's superpowers into a nuclear confrontation. His intent is to see $1.5 trillion in weapons sales to Russia and China.

A Shaw (first name, 'A') works for a multinational intelligence agency. His role (as 'good guy') and protagonist revolves around a series of incidents and attempts on his life. He is a quiet man who has never been in love.

Until he meets Anna, a brilliant, lonely think tank specialist who speaks seven languages and publicly discusses superpower motivations.

Prepare to have your heart wrenched. Whole Truth is an easy read. Filled with tension. Warning: this novel contains the most gripping, most gruesome death scene that is at once both graphic and emotionally draining. The reader will 'zip' through The Whole Truth.

Editor's Note: Marty Duncan's trilogy Black Powder, Gray Hope (a novel of Civil War heroes) was published in 2011 and 2012.

White Death
Cussler, Clive and Paul Kempreco
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
0425195457, $7.99,

Same old, same old. A swashbuckling hero and his slightly ethnic sidekick. Lots of verbal joshing. An old technology brought forward and used with a new technology.

The new tech is a biogenetic experiment that has produced a voracious eating machine that can eat all the food fish from an area of the oceans and create an economic disaster. The old tech is a German dirigible lost on the ice cap and used by a malevolent tribe of warped Eskimos.

Same old, same old. Like I said. Kurt Austin and his multitalented sidekick Joe Zavala are mirror images of Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino.

It is a good formula but the writers continue to rely on deus-ex-machina to solve problems, whether the deus is Dirk or Kurt or an amazing helicopter. Frankly, my love for Cussler goes way back --but I want Dirk and Al (even Matthew McCaughney in the movie) and not the second string.

Cussler was part of the reason I wrote my first novel without characters who solve problems with the technology of the day (cars, rifles, telegraph etc.) because I wanted to write a novel with common sense heroes solving simple problems. Read two chapters of Gold ...then Iron at

Texas: A Compact History.
Archie P. McDonald
Statehouse Press
P.O. Box 818, Buffalo Gap, Texas 79508
978193337159, $16.95,

What does it mean to be a Texan? McDonald has written a string of short paragraphs that relay the history [of Texas] in compact form. The section on Texas in the Civil War is indeed 'compact' and brief.

This is a text of historical facts presented without hyperbole. An easy read. But do not expect any illuminating descriptions of the lives of the Texans.

Texas: Last Battle of the Civil War: Palmetto Ranch..
Hunt, Jeffrey Wm.
University of Texas Press
Austin, Texas..
0292734611, $9.00

Major General John Walker (CSA) and Gen. Kirby Smith (CSA) were determined to continue the war in Texas in the hope of negotiating recognition of the rights of Texans and restoration of slavery. In late April President Johnson hinted at vengeance when he said "Treason must be punished." To the Confederates in Texas, there was "Nothing left to us but to fight" (George Robertson, near Brownsville p. 49)

There was no clear purpose to the Union expedition to Palmetto Ranch. Five hundred men (62nd USCT; 34th Indiana and 2nd Texas Cavalry (dismounted) spent 12th--13th May, 1865 skirmishing 200 Rebel cavalry. Late on the 13th the Rebels received reinforcements and pushed the Union troops back to Boca Chica Pass (South end of Brazos Island). Final Union casualties were 2 Killed, 6 wounded, 102 prisoners and 2 missing. The least known battle, Palmetto Ranch was a Confederate victory.

Jeffrey Hunt writes a "full and accurate" account of the last battle, in which the combatants took pride and courage from their participation.

The Innocent Man.
Grisham, John.
Doubleday & Company
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
978038551723, $14.95,

Grisham's first work of nonfiction: 'small town justice gone terribly awry' according to the blurb writer. That is a gross understatement. This 'report/statement' of what went wrong in Ada, Oklahoma ought to be required reading by every attorney who even dreams about being the District Attorney in any county in our fair land.

Ron Williamson was suspected of murder because he was a drug addict with two charges of rape for which he was acquitted. His mental condition was suspect: he was schizophrenic and manic depressive. He was a strange character who lived up the alley from Debra Carter, who was rape/murdered. His good friend Dennis Fritz was also charged in the violent crime.

They were tried by an aggressive D.A. in an election year. With no physical evidence and the testimony of jailhouse snitches (who lied to get better treatment) Ron received the death penalty and Dennis Fritz life in prison.

The horrendous, ABSOLUTELY depressing element of this report are the reports written while Ron was in death row: guards taunting him while he screamed his innocence for hours on end; the prison failing to give Ron his psychotic medicine; his attempts on his life. Eleven years Ron Williamson spent on death row; he and Dennis Fritz were exonerated in 1999 with help from the Innocence Project. Ron and Dennis sued (and won) a large settlement (rumored to be near $5 million). The D.A. never apologized.

Grisham has written a factual re-telling of the incidents in Ron Williamson's life and made the main characters come to life by using transcripts and documents. This book has to be on the 'Must Read' list for people with an interest in justice and the law.

Duncan's trilogy Black Powder, Gray Hope with subtitles 'Vengeance' 'Romance' and 'New Americans was published in 2011 by Red Lead Press. Available on, and

Marty Duncan

Esther's Bookshelf

Calico Joe
John Grisham
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385536073, $24.95,

Admittedly, I was hesitant but intrigued when this book came out. The combination of John Grisham and baseball was either going to be fantastic or... not.

There is no need to point out the obvious, that the book is well written. The plot line has a lot of potential as a story about a son trying to make peace between his major league pitching father and the man whose career he surreptitiously ended with a fastball to the head. The path Grisham set out with this story line was ambitious but also something difficult to solve satisfactorily in such a short time.

The book is too short and simple to address something as complex as forgiveness and the intentional destruction of a career. To end with something positive, although slightly inaccurate, Grisham does incorporate real athletes and events to create a solid background setting.

The Big Miss
Hank Haney
Crown Archetype
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780307985989, $26.00,

As one of the most famous athletes ever, Tiger Woods is also one of the most talked about and often over talked about athlete ever. Although, this book is just more Tiger Woods, it is written by his former swing coach, Hank Haney, and the perspective that is offered is unique and revealing.

"The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods" contains a lot of detail about the actual mechanics of Woods' swing but there are other details there as well. The book is not about getting even, but a simple revelation about a man who is human and yet not like the rest of us. The more interesting parts of the books are the accounts of Tiger's actions and attitude that are telling in the mentality it takes to be at the top. That we do not have lives anything like Tiger's is obvious but this book confirms why.

Driving Mr Yogi
Harvey Araton
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Ave S # 12, New York, NY 10003-1621
9780547746722, $26.00,

There have been many books about Yogi Berra and Yankees baseball and this one is no different in it's admiration and fandom of the two. "Driving Mr Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball's Greatest Gift" is not a celebrated account of Berra's early years but of the years since he came back to the franchise and reclaimed his stature as the great number 8. The specific focus is on his 11 year spring training relationship with the great Ron Guidry, and the general atmosphere he brings to the Yankee clubhouse there. The book recounts the quirks and nuances that endear Berra to fans and players alike and is a tribute to what he means to the Yankee organization.

It's a great read because it's hard to think about Yogi Berra and baseball without smiling...

Esther, Reviewer

Gail's Bookshelf

My Message is C.L.E.A.R.
Gabe Murfitt w/Gigi Devine Murfitt
Gabriel's Foundation of HOPE
9780985093211, $12.99,

Twenty-two-year-old Gabe Murfitt with his mother, Gigi share how Gabe learned to live in "a uniquely formed body" in "My Message is C.L.E.A.R." He asks "...what makes my story so special?"

His "design is a little on the unusual side" since he was born with bone-covered ear canals, three inch long arms and fused legs fused bent at the knee. To imagine what that might look like he says "...think about how you sit 'crisscross applesauce.'"

His body shares the limb deficiencies of Thalidomide babies born in the 1960's. However, his mother didn't take drugs during pregnancy and his "...birth defects were not caused by Thalidomide." Thus the name of his birth defect begins with "pseudo..." which means similar to.

He admits he faces extraordinary challenges, but writes "I've found hope and strength in the face of great adversity" and that's what he wants to share with readers. The strategies he's learned that taught him at a very young age, "I'm more like you than I am different."

For example, when an Oprah Winfrey Show producer asked if he wanted to say something to people who pointed and stared at him, he replied, "Don't judge a book by its cover. I might look different, but I'm actually not that different."

Yet, in a remarkable way Gabe is very different. It's his up-beat, can-do attitude that sets him apart, not how he looks. He has shed his tears, but he's also taught himself to brush his teeth, take a shower and dress without help. He even puts his socks on alone " using the big toe on the opposite foot to pull them on."

He developed the acrostic C.L.E.A.R. to explain "five things" he practices to live a successful life, "C" for courage, "L" for leadership, "E" for endurance, "A" for attitude and "R" for respect.

He wants to help others find the "courage to face everyday challenges," provide "tools" to be an awesome leader in school, work place and family and to endure in the "really hard things." He considers the most important letter of the acrostic, "A" because it takes attitude " achieve great things." Last, but not least is R, "Respect" for yourself and others.

Psalm 139: 13-18 tells Gabe how God formed him, where God knit him together in the "secret place," for a plan and a purpose, according to Jeremiah 29:11. Gabe knows God doesn't call him "disabled or different...instead God uses words like "wonderful and precious."

Gigi organized a nonprofit group to serve individuals and families with disabilities called "Gabriel's Foundation of Hope" to encourage and help others overcome and persevere.To learn more or donate:

There isn't a reader who won't enjoy Gabe's story with its powerful, inspiring, encouraging message. However it's especially suitable for children and young adults.

The Woodinville Weekly:

Preferred point of purchase: with PayPal, credit card or cash. To purchase Kindle edition, for questions please call 206-715-0134 or contact email via the website.

Eric Blehm
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307730695, $21.99,

Eric Blehm, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author's new release, "Fearless" arrives today, May 22. It's a remarkable narrative about "SEAL Team SIX's most legendary operator," Adam Brown, a member of the same SEAL team "... counterterrorism unit that took down Osama bin Laden..."

Although "Fearless" is Adam's story, it's also the multifaceted story of an elite, little-known, fierce brotherhood of warriors who defend, protect and guard our nation's freedom.

The story begins in Adam's childhood with his parents, older brother, Shawn and Adam's twin sister, Manda who were raised by loving parents who learned to " Adam like a hawk..." from an early age. Adam's love of heights, demonstrated by frequent falls from his crib at the age of nine months made his father cut the legs off his crib so he wouldn't have so far to fall.

His daredevil childhood antics brought him "goose eggs and bruises" and a few tears that quickly ended when he would " off exploring..." once again. That adventurous attitude would follow Adam into adulthood and be an advantage in the brotherhood of SEALS.

However, this " country boy" from Arkansas would first take a life-changing detour when he tried drugs with a young woman he wanted to impress, a five-year detour that would lead to drug addictions, jail and loss of everything important to him.

Yet what started with painful devastation became a "...last-chance road to redemption..." when Adam found Christ during his confinement and later, his beloved wife Kelley.

Readers learn there wasn't a challenge Adam didn't accept and excel at because "quit" wasn't a part of his vocabulary. For example in two separate incidents he lost his right eye and one hand was crushed in a Humvee rollover. Both qualified him for medical disability. Instead, he trained himself " shoot - both pistol and carbine - with his left hand." And learned to "swivel" his head to compensate for the loss of vision when he was accepted into SEALS "Green Team," a specialty unit trained for " pistol clearance."

In addition to heroic deeds performed in overseas warzones, Adam made time to provide the children of Afghanistan with shoes, food and treats, noting sizes and needs as he went door-to-door.

Adam never saw himself as a hero, only a warrior, son, brother, husband, father and Christian.

He wanted his "complete" story told, especially his " before I met Jesus Christ and Kelley...." to encourage others on detours of their own.

Adam's remarkable journey from high school hometown hero to drug addict to jail to becoming an elite Navy SEAL is a testimony of the power of God to restore when lives are surrendered to him.

This is the only book anonymously endorsed by a Navy SEAL who writes, "...we don't endorse books or movies, [however] this succeeds where all others fail..." I couldn't agree more.

Living beyond your Feelings
Joyce Meyer
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446538527, $22.99

"Living Beyond your Feelings," by bestselling Christian teacher and author Joyce Meyer is for anyone who struggles with controlling emotions, such as fear, anger or failure. Joyce teaches readers to examine, manage and control their emotions instead of their emotions controlling them. She writes "If you are ready to master your emotions, this book is for you."

She begins with a quote by Jonatan Martensson, who says, "Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf." And that's what her book is about - choices - and the realization we control our behavior when we manage our emotions.

That effort leads to right choices and life becomes more enjoyable.

In the introduction she reminds reader's emotions are neither good nor bad, they are simply feelings that can fluctuate and change, sometimes without cause or reason. She cites the example of "...going to bed feeling fine physically and emotionally, only to wake the next morning feeling tired and irritable."

She notes that people who feel tired and discouraged "...tend to talk a lot more about negative feelings..." than their positive counterparts. An action that took Joyce years to learn and one she cautions readers about because "...talking about how I feel increases the intensity of the feelings" I talk about. Instead, she recommends talking to the Lord because "God gives the strength to do what is right."

She gives an example of the need to forgive when we feel like "shutting someone out of our lives" because of unfair treatment or hurt feelings. She recommends the choice of prayer for the person or situation even if you don't feel like it. When we treat others as "Jesus would" we gain God's peace. If we act "according to our feelings" we forfeit God's peace.

The first segment of this comprehensive guide focuses on emotions that drive behavior such as disappointment, regret, change, difficult people and more. The second part offers specific advice for handling destructive feelings, emotions and experiences like stress, anger, guilt, depression and much more. Chapters end with "Decision and confession," such as chapter one where readers decide to "follow God's principles, not emotions" and confess, "I am a winner in life."

The book ends on a positive note with a chapter on good emotions that "...promote health, contentment, joy, productivity, and a sense of well-being."

I recommend this book to everyone, from preteens to the elderly or for those "stuck in a moment" of emotional and spiritual bondage. Joyce's sound and practical spiritual advice is good for any season of life, young and old, to manage troublesome emotions and avoid unwise harmful behaviors.

Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th Edition
Peggy Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post, Daniel Post Senning
William Morrow Publishers
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061740237, $39.99,

The 18th edition of Emily Post's book, "Etiquette" is all about "manners for a new world" and not just table manners like some might think. This edition includes "new trends, topics and societal hot zones," from everyday behaviors, to FaceBook etiquettes, job searches, "life in the workplace" and more. Principle authors include fresh new voices of fourth generation Posts, Peggy, Daniel and Lizzie.

From the beginning, where topics are divided into eight sections and sub-sections, to the topical index at the end, information is user friendly, easy-to-find and written in a conversational style.

For example, if you have questions concerning FaceBook etiquette and you want to know if it's okay:

To unfriend someone...
To remove a photo from your page...
Delete comments left on your page...
To ignore game requests, polls and event requests
To initiate a "digital breakup"

Turn to chapter thirty, "social networking," for the answers. There readers are reminded, "Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another you have etiquette." Even if the method to communicate is electronic the same rules apply because it's "an interaction between two people."

Chapter thirty-one, "the job search," is especially valuable with today's high unemployment and so many competing for the same job. This segment includes "networking that works," online job searches, do and don'ts of resumes, "effective" cover letters, references issues and the topic of salaries. Such as how and when it's appropriate to ask questions about or discuss compensation.

Perhaps one of the best is chapter thirty-two, the do's and don'ts of "the job interview." Some of it is common sense; however the section on "piercings, tattoos and the job interviewer" is worth the price of the book.

The Posts point out that times have changed, however polite manners remain a constant. Because etiquette is about communication, relationships and interactions that include respect kindness and consideration for others.

I recommend everyone read this updated, modern edition that tackles everything "...from texting and tweeting, to iPhones and FaceBook" besides everyday manners. For more information: or

Gone to Ground
Brandilyn Collins
B&H Books
127 Ninth Avenue North, MSN 114, Nashville, TN. 37234
9781433671630, $14.99,

Award-winning author, Brandilyn Collins, delivers another intriguing cat-and-mouse mystery in "Gone to Ground," this time set in the small town of Amaryllis, Mississippi, where three remarkable women are caught in a web of suspicion and fear.

This once sleepy, southern town is now tense with fear due to five unsolved murders over the past three years by an unknown, elusive serial killer. The victims, all women, span a wide age range. The killer is dubbed the "Closet Killer" because the women's bodies are found stuffed inside closets of homes they're murdered in.

Just when townspeople's fears begin to diminish the killer strikes again, using the same methods and procedures except for one thing, this young woman was pregnant where the other victims were not. The killer had changed his victimology and no one could guess why.

The story begins with easygoing Cherrie Mae, a black cleaning woman who vacuums and dusts the living room of the mayor's home. He demands perfection and she leaves the room spotless before she carries her "fold-up stool" into the mayor's home office.

The mayor's missus has gone to Piggly Wiggly for groceries, which leaves Cherri Mae alone to do what she does best - not just clean - explore. Some might call it snooping, however she reasoned it was okay because she always kept her "discoveries" to herself.

That is until today, when she opened the desk drawer filing cabinet and found a file labeled "Closet Killings" mixed in with "City council" business files. And graphic pictures of five murdered women spilled from the folder... How could she keep this to herself...?

Add a relentless reporter, a resident ghost, a missing ring and blood-stained cotton swabs sent mysteriously to the police. Then to add to the confusion, three women are certain they know who the killer is - each suspects a different man with good reason, which keeps the pages turning faster and faster...

Collins writes in first person, beginning each chapter in the voice Deena, Tully or Cherrie Mae. Deena is the town beautician and ex-wife of an Amaryllis police officer who suspects her brother because of what she's seen and heard. Nineteen-year-old Tully, married to an abuser, is pregnant with her first child. She has proof her husband is the serial killer. Then there's the delightful cleaning lady, Cherrie Mae who quotes from classic books who believes she's caught the mayor red-handed because of photos she found in his files. Each woman suspects a different man and all have valid reasons for their suspicious.

Collin's weaves subtle elements of faith throughout the suspense filled narrative which is why she is called "Queen of Seatbelt Suspense (c)." If readers aren't already fans, they will be by the time they turn the last page.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

It Worked For Me In Life and Leadership
Colin Powell with Tony Koltz
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022
9780062135124, $27.99

"It Worked For Me In Life and Leadership" is a wonderful upbeat set of tips General Colin Powell has used to guide him through his life that he now passes on to readers. He has 13 principals he discusses and tells about some of the people who have influenced him along the way. He is very modest about himself and relates stories about his years of public service that are interesting also very revealing about many of the historical event he has been fortunate to be a part of. Powell has always been an officer and a gentleman and "It Worked for Me In Life and Leadership" shows why

Naked City The Television Series
James Rosin
The Autumn Road Company
9780425246061, $19.95,

"Naked City the Television Series" tells about the name of the show and how it changed the industry of television and how "Naked City" was different from others of the time, how the show evolved. There are episode guides for each season. These are just a few of the things covered in this edition of Rosin's expose of the groundbreaking series. Recently Rosin has come out with revised editions of Wagon Train, Adventures in Paradise, The Invaders, and a new expanded and updated version of Naked City is due out in a few weeks. .Regardless of the edition Rosin has always made it fun to read about other shows and "Naked City" is another great look back at a very different era of television.

God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked
Darrell Hammond
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022
9780062064554, $25.99

I was surprised how much Hammond is willing to tell about his drug use in his autobiography "God, If You're Not Up There I'm F*cked." He reveals that on his way up the ladder of stardom he became addicted to drugs very early and he gives his perception of why he thinks he has been an addict for so long. Also he tells about his days on "Saturday Night Live" and reveals many unknown secrets about the show. Some may find the title offensive but his message in "God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked' is clear about how weak someone can be to any kind of addiction.

Hoist Up Your Muffin Top and Show Me Your New Belt
Terry Ayrault
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432788018, $12.95,

I do not know why movies and authors insist on filling works with so much toilet humor. "Hoist up Your Muffin Top and Show Me Your New Belt" has more than its fair share of what many will find in poor taste. Many of the pieces are too plain, dull, and worthless tales. "Hoist Up Your Muffin Top and Show Me Your New Belt" is not funny as it claims on the back of the book. Instead it is a waste of paper for the hard copy and an abuse of space for the e book edition.

Key Notes A Collection of Short Stories
William Hatfield
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463691110, $7.00,

"Key Notes" is filled with 7 excursions into different realms of dark and sinister warped worlds of horror fiction. Two in particular are told in as few as 66 words making them that much more memorable. For each story the author tells the influence that caused him to write that tale. "Key Notes" is a quick read that gives readers a deeper appreciation for the short story genre.

Die Laughing
Louis K. Lowy
IFWG Publishing inc
9780615518466, $12.99,

"Die Laughing" is a very funny novel of science fiction that will have readers laughing out loud at the many jokes that come throughout the novel. Aliens kidnap a two bit comedian to carry out their plan to rob the planet of some resources. He is given the choice of stardom or saving the planet. The author has filled the novel with interesting characters with a setting of the 1950's that is filled with different portions of that era's most famous stars and events. Readers will enjoy "Die Laughing for its oddball characters and fast paced satiric look back at the 1950's

The Necromancer's Apprentice
R. M. Prioleau
Privately Published
9780615450462 $5.99

With clearly defined characters and a very evenly paced story "The Necromancer's Apprentice" is a memorable tale in the fantasy genre. Jasmine Na'Darod life changes forever when she and her family are on a quest to save her mother's life. She becomes an unwilling participant with a strange man who will take her down a very different path toward a strange, dark, and sinister existence. "The Necromancer's Apprentice" is an easy to follow narrative that is a wonderful addition to the fantasy realm of fiction.

Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan Final Judgment
Gold Eagle
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780373644049, $7.99

"Final Judgment" opens with a Neo Nazi group taking over a courthouse with demands for their leader to be released. Mack Bolan is called in to end the situation but it is more complicated than other missions because he has to be careful not to harm any civilians inside the courthouse while taking out the Neo Nazis. "Final Judgment' roars along with great action fans of the series crave.

Tell Me A Story Stories From A Childhood In Old New York
Bea Gold
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
97814327778002, $38.95,

"Tell Me A Story Stories From A Childhood In Old New York" brings to life what it was like to grow up in a Jewish home in New York in a different time from the present. She talks about her family and where many members came from, different foods related to a Jewish upbringing, the importance of family and many other long lost traditions. "Tell Me A Story Stories From A Childhood In Old New York" is a historical coffee table book with art and writings about Jewish culture that all ages of readers should cherish and enjoy.

Musika A Delightfully Harmonic Tale of the Origin of Music
Albeto Herrera
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432788070, $25.95,

I don't know how true the story in "Musika" is, but it is a fun tale that shows how music in a portion of the world began. The artwork, also by the author, is a bright happy addition that adds to the spirit of the book. Both art and prose in "Musika" show the importance of birds and music in our society.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

The Dead Hour
Denise Mina
Back Bay Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
0316003530, $13.99,

Paddy Meehan, 21 years old and on night shift [called the "calls car" shift, and encompassing the Dead Hour, 3 AM], at the Scottish Daily News in Glasgow, makes one of her usual nightly calls, following the police radio in the car and going to the address to which the police have been summoned. This time it appears to be a domestic disturbance, the victim a young, elegant-looking blond woman who, though obviously bloodied, refuses any assistance and, when Paddy catches her eye, seems to slightly shake her head. The police leave, aided by the passing of money into their hands from the man who had answered the door, a scenario replayed moments later when Paddy, herself now the recipient of a 50 pound note, tries to question him. The following morning Paddy learns that the body of the blond woman, a prosecution attorney from a wealthy family, has been found, having been tortured, beaten and left to die, and she is tormented by the possible role she may have played by her quiescence.

To salve her conscience and, not incidentally, hoping to make her mark as an investigative journalist at the same time, Paddy follows up on the story, which expands when another death follows, whether suicide or murder an uncertain matter.

Glasgow, its rougher as well as finer areas, the helplessness of those affected by 1980's unemployment, and the protagonist's Irish Catholic background, are well drawn, as is Paddy, young, rebellious, hardworking [sole support of her parents and several siblings] and ambitious. The author having interspersed a second pov, contained within but separate from its surrounding chapters, was a bit confusing at first to this reader, as the identity of the second voice in unclear [although the reader knows her name] - it is really her relation to the rest of the story thus far that is not clear. It is not until over 50 pages into the book that her identity becomes evident. The effect of this device is to steadily build the suspense which, despite the book having begun at a moderate pace, grows till the hold-your-breath conclusion and a shocking twist before a very satisfying conclusion. As for that cliffhanger in the last line, the resolution of that will have to await the next book in the series, which I will eagerly await.

The Dead Hour is the second in the Paddy Meehan series, following Field of Blood, and Ms. Mina's earlier books, including Deception and the Garnethill Trilogy.

Five Days to Die
Katia Lief
Ebury Press
c/o Random House
20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London S1V 2SA
9780091939229, 6.99 BPS,

The events in the book take place, as the title implies, over a five-day period. As it opens, on September 3, 2001 [and that specific date is significant], Emily Parker, a young wife and mother, has left her children - - a one-year- old girl and two boys, ages seven and eleven - - with her mother to run a small shopping errand. She never returns from that chore, and there is no clue as to what has happened to her. Vacationing in Cape Cod, the family had been scheduled to return to New York City the following day. Her husband and mother are stunned by her disappearance, and the police are immediately called in. The following day, her car is found in the parking lot of the market, the rotting groceries inside the vehicle.

The case is assigned to Detective Al Snow and a relative rookie, Amy Cardoza. In addition, joining the investigation is John Geary, former special agent and head [and one of the founders] of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI, now retired after 30 years with that agency. When Emily's disappearance is first reported, Geary was at the station working, in a basement office, on a book about cold cases he had worked, with the assistance of a man he had consulted with over the years, a renowned criminologist. Together they launch a manhunt, determined to find the woman and her abductor before things escalate.

As to the aforementioned significance of that date: Dr. Geary, among his cold cases, is immediately caught by one with unavoidable similarities, wherein over the span of several years six women have each been abducted on the 3rd of September, each one exactly seven years after the preceding one. Moreover, each was the mother of a boy between six and eight years of age, and each of those boys was abducted on precisely the fifth day following his mother's disappearance, each ultimately found after having been gruesomely tortured and killed. The pattern was inescapable. They the crimes have been disparate geographically, they are convinced this is a work of a serial killer, and their time is fast running out.

Geary is a fascinating creation: beyond middle age, his appearance is described as a "state of overwrought, rumpled antagonism." So too is Amy, a half-Portuguese woman overcoming the prejudices that come with that as well as her rookie status, but with great intelligence and instincts. The two work together and gain mutual respect in the process. The novel is filled with nail-chewing, breath-holding suspense, and is recommended.

Available Dark
Elizabeth Hand
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312585945, $23.99,

This novel isn't one that defies description, exactly, but it does make it difficult. Its tone is bleak throughout, perhaps in keeping with the geographical landscape, made palpable by the author's gorgeous writing. The plot is not complex, but that is not the crux of the book, which is the haunting quality of its beautiful prose.

Cass Neary is a photographer with a moribund career, a woman prone to night terrors, who still indulges in her long-time near-addiction to alcohol and drugs of various kinds, from "speed" to crystal meth [about which I learned more than I ever wanted to know as to its effects on the human body, and mind] and everything in between. Nearly six feet tall, she is self-described as "a burned-out, aging punk with a dead gaze, a faded tattoo, and a raw red scar beside one eye." The story takes her to the streets and highland areas of, respectively, Helsinki, where she is told "the entire country's unemployed and on the verge of a psychotic breakdown," and Reykjavik [also in dire straits, where there can be snow in August and where, she is told, "everything is an illusion"], trying to track down a long-lost friend/lover from her high school days of thirty years ago, and in an attempt to evade both the police and a murderer.

Cass leaves the Lower East Side of Manhattan after receiving a lucrative job offer: to confirm the existence of, and authenticate, a group of photos depicting ritual killings, still photos which could have started life in a snuff film, something called "murderabilia." There is much discussion about the photographer's technique of using only available light, the converse of which gives rise to the title. Nordic, Viking and Icelandic religions and myths play a large part in the story line. We are told of "ghosts that didn't know they were dead," and there is a quote from the sagas of the region: "Death will claim no man until his time has come, and nothing will save a man who is fated to die. Therefore be bold: to die in fear is the worst death of all."

There were many cultural references that I must admit escaped me, which were, I'm guessing, linked to "punk" music ["death metal" and "black metal"] and "punk" photography [a genre I didn't even know existed]. The writing is macabre and disturbing on several levels. This is a novel not easily forgotten.

The Beautiful Mystery
Louise Penny
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312655464, $25.99,

This newest in the Armand Gamache series takes place far from the latter's usual territory. Gamache, Chief Inspector for the Surete du Quebec, and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his second in command for more than a decade, have been called to a "near mythical monastery. . . which is home to two dozen cloistered, contemplative monks. Who had built their abbey as far from civilization as they could get." After four centuries, no one not among those two dozen had entered there, until the murder of one of their own brings the outside world in. The Gilbertines were an order of monks until recently thought by the world [including the Vatican] to be extinct, whose members had taken vows of silence, poverty and isolation.

What had changed that perception was a recording of the millennia-old chants sung, several times a day, by these monks, the result of which was a clamor for more information about them, and the unexpected success of the recording. This in turn had caused a rift among the monks, about half of them aligned with the abbot, who wanted their existence to continue as it had, and those who favored the suspension of their vow of silence, and the wealth that would surely come to the monastery in the aftermath of a second recording. Somehow that divide had led to murder. The dead man was the choir director, described by all as a genius, a brilliant musician with a glorious voice [as were all the others, though to a lesser degree].

The two detectives come to gain some insight into each of the monks: How they came to be here, in this remote place, with no link to the outside world, but men not unlike themselves. Jean-Guy, in particular, finds that one of the monks in particular is so like him that they are like opposite sides of the same coin. The rift in the monastery is mirrored by the one inside the Surete itself, with its roots going back some time, exacerbated by horrific events described in an earlier book in the series, its effects, both physical and emotional, still felt by both Gamache and Beauvoir. Those effects are again explored at some length, as are the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists.

About the title: The author summed it up in her Acknowledgements better than I ever could. It deals with the effects of music on our brains, in this case the majesty of the Gregorian chants: "I wanted to explore this beautiful mystery. How just a few notes can take us to a different time and place. Can conjure a person, an event, a feeling. Can inspire great courage, and reduce us to tears. And in the case of this book, I wanted to explore the power of ancient chants, Gregorian chants. On those who sing them, and those who hear them." And in this aim, the author has wholly succeeded. The reader too can, just for a moment, merely reading about the effects on those who sing them and hear them, get a glimpse of what that must be like. It's been a very long time since I heard a Gregorian chant, but its memory was still very strong in my mind's ear, if you will. The book, while slowing down somewhat in the middle, contains such consistently charming prose that this is a minor quibble, and the book is highly recommended.

The Other Woman
Hank Phillippi Ryan
c/o Tor-Forge Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765332578, $24.99,

There is more than one "Other Woman" in this new novel by Hank Phillippi Ryan [following her 2010 "Drive Time," the fourth in the terrific Charlotte McNally series]. This time she introduces a new female journalist, Jane Ryland. For Jane, the other woman she is trying to track down is the one she suspects of being the paramour of Owen Lassiter, the political Golden Boy, charismatic former Governor and current candidate for Senate, in whose life there is, perhaps, more than one "other woman." For Jane's not-quite-significant other, Detective Jake Brogan, of the Boston PD, the "other woman" is the one whose dead body is discovered [on page one], the second in a week found in the river, under one of Boston's bridges, with nothing to identify her: no ID, not even a pair of shoes, for the police to work with. The tabloids have of course dubbed the women as victims of The Bridge Killer, though the police vehemently deny that a serial killer is in their midst. And there will be more "other women" before this tale is through.

Jane's personal backstory plays an important part in the plot: an award-winning investigative tv reporter, when she refuses to give up her source on a scandalous piece she did about a married businessman magnate who patronized a prostitute, she and the tv station for which she covered the story are found guilty in the ensuing defamation lawsuit, a million-dollar verdict the result. She is, of course, promptly fired, although she soon manages to get a job as a reporter on a Boston paper. On the romantic front, she and Jake find that their respective professional obligations make any relationship difficult, at best.

Other bodies turn up, and the 'serial killer' theory harder to deny. The political story as well is a tough one for Jane to uncover. There are a couple of females who could be described as potential stalkers, their motives unclear. But who was the real threat? And who the killer? The author sleekly weaves together several threads, with corresponding and changing pov, each time leaving the reader with mini-cliffhangers, and building the suspense to the point that this reader was racing through the pages in the final third of the book.

Ms. Ryan's bona fides in writing about a media reporter turned print journalist, involved in a political fray, are hard-won: She is a multiple-Emmy-Award-winning reporter on Boston's NBC affiliate and former US Senate staffer and political campaign aide, and her credentials are evident on every page. I found this a terrific summer read, and it is highly recommended.

Little Shop of Homicide
Denise Swanson
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451236180, $7.99,

Devereaux ("Dev") Sinclair has moved from Kansas City 40 miles away to Shadow Bend, Missouri, population 4,028 [the residents somewhat disconcertingly called Shadow Benders], buying a local shop now called, fittingly, Devereaux's Dime Store and Gift Baskets. Her background is also a bit disconcerting: When she was in high school, her father was involved in a DUI accident and imprisoned, her mother abandoned her, the boy who had vowed to love her for all eternity walked away, and her grandmother took her in.

After getting her MBA, she worked in the 'cutthroat investment consulting business,' then quit her job several months before her boss, a man who apparently fit the Bernard Madoff profile, was exposed as a swindler, and his investment firm nothing but a Ponzi scheme. She left, giving up a six-figure job to take care of her grandmother. Dev was briefly arrested and had come under intense scrutiny by the FBI, the federal regulators, the media and, worst of all, the people in her hometown Her boss had stolen his investors' life savings. Dev had known the man was a swindler and his investment firm nothing but a Ponzi scheme. She could see in her fellow Shadow Benders' eyes that they were thinking the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree; that like her father, she was a criminal too.

One morning a cop barges into Dev's store, all but accusing her of killing a young woman who was engaged to marry the man Dev had loved thirteen years before and who, rumor had it, had never stopped loving him. Just the motive the detective means to prove led to the murder, snarling "You and your boss made a fool out of me once, but you won't get away with it again."

Dev still has two good friends, one an attorney, the other her best friend who owns Gossip Central, the most popular bar in the county. They are her support system, and they determine to find who the real killer is. Then a new man puts in an appearance, grandma's old love, from twenty years earlier, the man who owns the next acreage to theirs, and who has had his nephew join him on the ranch to help. The nephew, Jake DelVecchio, is a U.S. Marshal, on disability leave, who just happens to be tall, muscular, and very handsome, and awakens all the old feelings in Dev that she hadn't even thought of in thirteen years. But she sure does think them, and feel them, now. The Group, joined by Jake, determines that they have to pin down the real killer, and get Dev off the hook

As it unfolds, the tale becomes more about romance than mystery, not altogether a bad thing, and in fact just right for a time when many of us are living through one heat wave after another, with little end in sight. It is really a charming story, ending with a bit of a hint as to the possibilities that lie ahead for Dev in the promised next entry in the series.

[And for those who are frustrated by the lack of a 15th book in this author's popular Scumble River Mysteries, take heart: There is a new one due out in September of 2012, "Murder of the Cat's Meow," - - Skye Denison is apparently still dealing with the spirit of the previous owner of the house in which she still lives, despite her impending marriage.]

Birthdays for the Dead
Stuart MacBride
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780007344208, $14.99,

Stuart MacBride's writing has been called "gritty," and "brilliant." Understatements both.

In his new standalone mystery/thriller, the author introduces DC Ash Henderson of the Oldcastle Police, formerly DI Ash Henderson - he was busted down to Constable following a particularly horrific phase of an investigation into murders committed by a killer dubbed by the tabloids the "Birthday Boy," an investigation now eight years old. The victims have all been young girls, abducted within a few days of their thirteenth birthday, their parents tormented with photos mailed to them every year on the ensuing birthdays, each one increasingly grotesque in its images of torture, mutilation and, finally, death. What no one else knows - not the detectives with whom he works, not even his wife - is that Henderson's daughter, Rebecca, who went missing five years before, is another of those victims. The rest of the world believes that she has simply gone missing; Ash has hidden the truth so that he can continue to hunt for the killer, in the quite-correct belief that he would otherwise be pulled off the case, placed on compassionate leave and given grief counseling.

Henderson is a fascinating protagonist, 45 years old, with an ex-wife and twelve-year-old daughter and now living in a dilapidated council estate, he is not one to shy away from exacting revenge, or justice, when called for. But the most fascinating of the characters created by Mr. MacBride for this novel is Dr. Alice McDonald, brilliant forensic psychologist, somewhat mentally unstable, self-described as "delightfully quirky" - - a more objective viewpoint might include OCD and perhaps agoraphobia.

The book takes place over a period of ten excruciating days, as the victim list mounts, and bodies are suddenly found, and the hunt for the Birthday Boy has suddenly become more intense, if possible. With canny plotting, and a stunning ending, this is a book which will stay with you long after the cover is closed. I made the mistake of coming within 100 pages of finishing it late one night, something I definitely do NOT recommend - unlike the novel itself, which I most definitely do.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Lost Gate
Orson Scott Card
A Tor Book
c/o Tor-Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765365385, $7.99,

First an apology--Card is a very good writer. His construction of story and plot is one of the best. Although I can see the quality of his work, I have never been a big fan of his writing. For me, his writing is so technically precise it doesn't thrill me. The impeccable design of the story seems to hide the elegance of the creation. The writers that thrill me highlight the storytelling to the degree you don't realize the technical design.

The Lost Gate is an adult version of other blended mythology SF stories. The subgenre started back in the classic pulp SF of nearly a century ago. The story might be better served with a touch of editing to bring it closer to the young adult/youth market. The rich detailed story is a fascinating take on the genre and is worth exploring. One of its biggest problems is that, like many stories today written by series authors, the ending, although solid, tells you that there is more to the story and you will need to wait for the sequel or sequels before you can finish it.

Danny North is born into the North family of mages. There has been a war between the different families of mages that has lasted for centuries. The current truce between the families is tentative and threatens to break back out into fighting at any time. While the other children in the North family are creating fairies, ghosts... and merging consciously into plants, animals and things, Danny is exhibiting no magical powers. He is learning languages, history, math and science at an accelerated rate but is unable to display any magical gift. Of course, this puts him at odds with every other children in the family making him the social misfit. Just when he thinks he has no magic he discovers that he is a gatemage, someone who can create dimensional gates between places. But a gatemage is the one thing that all of the families fear. The one point between the magical families that they have all agreed on is to kill any gatemage before he/she can create a gate back to their homeworld. The thirteen year old Danny must run from everyone, grow-up and learn to control his magic before the families or the normal people in this world have a chance to kill him.

If you are an Orson Scott Card fan, The Lost Gate is a must read. You will become lost in another of Card's fantasy storylines. For the readers of some of the current youth SF, such as The Lightning Thief, this story will expand the genre line into adult readership. Card is a very solid SF writer and anyone who enjoys this general genre will relish any of his works. The SF reader will not be disappointed with The Lost Gate but remember that it is just book one of a series.

Gideon's Sword
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446564311, $7.99,

Preston and Child write books with impossible situations and with impossible characters but they seem to be able to put enough real details into the plot and characters that the reader can lose themselves completely in the action fantasy.

Gideon's Sword is an action/detective story. As a child, Gideon Crew sees his father murdered in a cover-up. Later in life, with the blessing of his dieing mother, he uses his knowledge and skills to destroy the man who used and ordered his father killed. But this is only the introduction to the tale. The real story happens when a wealthy man who works and lives in the background pushes Gideon into tackling a near impossible bit of spying. Gideon is charged with obtaining a world shattering piece of information for the United States from a Chinese engineer running for his life. As he starts his quest, Gideon runs afoul a Chinese government hit man protecting his governments secrets by killing everyone who gets near the engineer. Governments and industrial spies are all interested in the secret and don't care who is killed to obtain it. Gideon has to travel the world and solve a series of intricate clues to find the engineer's information, all the time dodging the others searching for the same secret and willing to kill to get it or keep it secret.

Gideon's Sword is a great action/detective tale. It is a fast easy story that permits you to forget your troubles for a weekend. It has enough speed and strength to attract a cross section of contemporary genre readers. It is a great find on the mass market shelves and a book to look for.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

Under the Dome: A Novel
Stephen King
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439148501, $35.00,

Stephen King is a highly skilled writer. Not many authors could describe an Alsatian trying to rip out the throat of a bad guy and have me rooting for the dog, even if the antagonist did have a lot in common with Charles Manson.

The bad guys in Under the Dome are elected officeholders and their cronies who abuse their power in order to get away with rape, murder, arson, and selling drugs. They are also fundamentalist religious fanatics who have no difficulty rationalizing that anything they do conforms to their deity's wishes, or at least is approved by him. The editor of Freethinker described the book as "the most aggressive attack on Christian zealotry King has ever penned."

The problem with such a description is that the overwhelming majority of Christian zealots do not commit rape and murder-for-profit. Consequently, fanatics who bomb abortion clinics, IRA terrorists, and professional hatemongers such as Ian Paisley are unlikely to see the book's Big Jim
Rennie and his thugs as mirror images of themselves. King makes no attempt to demonstrate a causative relationship between the criminals' conscienceless behavior and their religiosity. Even when he compares Big Jim's rise to power with Adolf Hitler, sycophants of such totalitarian theofascists as Pat Robertson, Joseph Ratzinger and Rick Santorum will not see any resemblance to their own tinpot Hitlers. And that is a pity, since a book spelling out the antihuman consequences of religious brainwashing, by an author of King's stature, could have been a powerful weapon in the war against theocracy.

While few readers will infer that the antagonists' conscienceless proclivity to crime is a consequence of their Jesus-addiction, it is hard to escape the implication that only a religious zealot could brainwash himself that rape, murder, embezzlement and dope peddling are minor imperfections when weighed against the ultimate virtue of loving the Sky Fuhrer. And the further the novel proceeds, the clearer it becomes that the bad guys see themselves as the good guys. For that, religion can indeed be blamed. While the message that religion is anti-human is not front and center, it is a reality of which King is clearly aware.

King acknowledges that Big Jim's strategy of having himself elected to a second-banana position, leaving the top office to a mental midget he could control, manipulate and hide behind, was inspired by Dick Cheney. He effectively demonstrates why Robert Heinlein found himself unable to write the novel he planned about his First Prophet's actual reign, since merely describing the man's rise and fall produced all of the nausea he could tolerate. King has a stronger stomach, and was able to paint a picture of a man who, while sharing the worst qualities of Manuel Noriega, Pol Pot (comparisons King's good-guy characters actually make), Hughie Long, Jimmie Walker, and Dick Cheney, has an even stronger resemblance to Dorian Gray.

In single chapters, starting on pages 437, 465, 739, 800, 950, 981, 997, 1033, 1059, and 1061, King's narrative abruptly switches to the present tense. By the time readers encounter the first hint that there is a plot-related reason for that capricious inconsistency, many are likely to have stopped reading out of sheer annoyance. Even more annoying is that the present-tense watchers, who turn out to be the ultimate perpetrators of the book's science-fiction element, fall so far short of a satisfactory denouement, that they can only be described as a cop-out.

When Grace Metalious wrote Peyton Place, the whole population of her hometown recognized her characters as their next-door neighbors. It is unlikely that Stephen King's characters will be similarly recognized. Only the science fiction concept of an impenetrable force field surrounding the town of Chester's Mill and cutting it off from the rest of the world could have enabled a would-be Boss Tweed like Big Jim Rennie to gain the absolute power that corrupts absolutely. Under the Dome is a warning, but it is fiction. And if the theocratic Tea Party is exterminated in 2012, it will remain fiction. But King's 2009 portrayal of the totalitarian slave state America will become if Republicans take over the White House and Congress, with opponents of the theofascists disenfranchised and unable to vote them out of office, is frightening. Was King able to extrapolate the kind of Soviet-style tyranny the Republican hierarchy was plotting, a year before the 2010 elections revealed it to the rest of America? Barack Obama could use an advisor with that kind of foresight.

The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates
Howard Bloom
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2119
9781616145514, $20.00,

According to Howard Bloom (p. 21): A does not equal A; One plus one does not equal two; and (p. 25) in an America in which forty percent of the population are not Christian and a world in which eighty-four percent are not Christian, Christians and non-Christians alike are living in the Year of the Master, "AD." Anyone who does not know that Howard Bloom is a jackass has not read The God Problem.

Bloom quotes Ayn Rand as saying that A equals A, and then sets out to discredit Rand in the delusion that he is thereby discrediting everything she wrote. That is like discrediting Barry Goldwater (not hard to do) in the belief that it discredits his contention that the earth is round. Proponents of reality must surely wonder: with a friend like Bloom, who needs enemies? Where is Nurse Ratched when we really need her?

Bloom discusses individuals as diverse as Rand, Einstein, Plato, Aristotle, Darwin, Newton, Lavoisier, Pythagoras, Kepler, Bertrand Russell, the Michelson Morley experiment, and six monkeys sitting at six typewriters. Does he say anything about any of them that the world does not already know? Does he say anything about them that the world does already know? Since I do not read gobbledygook, I have no idea. Does he discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? how many Republicans it takes to screw in a light bulb? how many zeros make a googolplex? I have no idea. Ultimately, does he offer an explanation of how what is came to be, that is less desperate, metaphysical and indefensible than the god hypothesis? Again, I have no idea.

Bloom does echo some obvious but unoriginal truths. For example (pp. 17-18), "God is a mass murderer. . . . Why does God kill so casually? In this case [the Book of Job], just to win a bet. What's worse, God makes mass murder ordinary. . . . A God who slaughters is no God at all." So there are passages in his book that make sense. A stopped clock is right twice a day.

The hardest thing to understand about The God Problem is why the world's foremost publisher of unpopular truths would choose to print such imitation-Etruscan drivel. Did no editor bother to read it? Did whoever recommended it swallow the big lie that anything incomprehensible must be too profound for a non-pseudoscientist to grasp? Did Bloom's status as the inventor of "paleopsychology" not constitute a warning? Did his endorsement of the sociobiology hoax not provide a clue? Did it cross nobody's mind that the reason a book reads like contentless doubletalk might be that it really is contentless doubletalk? Bloom should stick to what he does best: conning the tone-deaf that Michael Jackson and AC/DC belong in the same universe as
Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda
Gail Collins
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780871404077, $25.95,

Gail Collins makes a powerful case that Texas's greatest virtue is that it is a single large state, and not the five smaller states into which some Texans have wanted to divide it. If two Republican senators from Texas can wreak havoc on the lives of every American, imagine what ten Republican senators from Texas might do.

"Texas banking laws set the stage for the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s. The 2008 economic meltdown was the product of financial deregulation that was the work of many hands, but most particularly the paws of Texas senator Phil Gramm. Our energy policy is the way it is because Texas politicians and Texas special interests like it that way" (p. 5).

Despite some verbal diarrhea posted to Amazon by Republican reviewers, only the most thin-skinned Texans will see As Texas Goes as damaging to their state. The individual most damaged is Governor Rick Perry, whom Collins exposes as an inept, bungling, no-talent wannabe who clings to the delusion that he could still be a viable candidate for POTUS at a future date. Perry was speaking for only a hardcore lunatic fringe when he suggested that Texas
might secede from the United States (p. 13): "A Rasmussen poll in 2009 found that only 18 percent of the respondents said they favored breaking away. That's still a tidy number . . . over 4 million people." That is even more than the "17 percent of likely Republican voters [who] said they thought it would be a good idea to nominate Donald Trump for president."

Texas has never been a bastion of human rights (p. 41): "[T]he Texas voting majority has very consistently gone wherever the African Americans are not." Also (p. 123), "Texas is one of only four states that don't cover contraception under the federal Children's Health Insurance Program." A big reason for that war on women is (p. 125) Perry's assurance that, "I'm going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works." And in the state with the third-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the country, an investigating committee found (p. 19) that "abstinence-only programs have a stranglehold on sexuality education in Texas public schools."

But Perry did not limit his imposition of ignorance-based policies to sex education. He described the finding of scientists that manmade global warming is harming the planet as (p. 143), "one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." And the reason Texas Republicans reject the evidence for global warming as totally as they reject the evidence for evolution is, as spelled out by Congressmen Tom Delay and Dick Armey (p. 139), "Only nature can change the climate. . . . It is quite pretentious of we little weaklings here on earth to think that, that we are going to destroy God's creation." So there we see the bottom line. Mere humans cannot make planet earth uninhabitable, because a deus ex machina can be relied on to prevent it from happening. One can only wonder where it was during the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Black Death, and the Holocaust. As for Armey's saying "pretentious of we," using a nominative case pronoun in the accusative case, that is better attributed to his going to school in North America, where correct English has been a foreign language since World War Two, rather than to his going to school in Texas.

Collins concedes that (p. 53), "Perhaps it's a coincidence that Texas presidents keep getting us into conflicts abroad." He suggests that, "[T]he fact that W. got us into Iraq and Afghanistan had more to do with W. than with the grand Texas love affair with dramatic gestures." And she does not even mention that the present and previous Texas governors are the most prolific serial killers in American history. At a time when the whole civilized world, and some American states, have abolished state sanctioned ritualistic revenge murder as barbaric and subhuman, Bush minor and Perry each has over one hundred legal homicides on his resume. Whether Bush major's status as a Texan contributed to his becoming the most bigoted president in American history, denigrating the nation's most intelligent, most rational, and most educated 36 percent, nontheists, as neither patriots nor citizens in what he identified as "one nation under Hitler" (or was it "under God"? I'm always confusing those two), she also does not say.

But the most far-reaching effect of Texan ignorance can be seen in America's public schools. For economic reasons stemming from Texas's subsidizing textbooks that carry the "right" message (p. 108), "No matter where you live, if your children go to public schools, the textbooks they use were very possibly written under Texas influence. If they graduated with a reflexive suspicion of the concept of separation of church and state . . . you know who to blame. . . . In 2009, the nation watched in awe as the state board worked on approving a new science curriculum under the leadership of a chair who believed 'evolution is hooey.'" Professor Keith Erekson of the
University of Texas at El Paso estimated (p. 11) that, nationwide, "the proportion of social studies textbooks sold containing the basic Texas-approved narrative range from about half to 80 percent." The state legislature, embarrassed by the attention Texas was drawing on account of
the right-wing and theofascist (there's a difference?) propaganda in its textbooks, instructed its censors to limit their interference to "factual errors" (p. 112). "This made surprisingly little impact when you had a group of deciders who believed that the theory of evolution, global warming, and separation of church and state are basically all errors of fact."

So the reason Texas is screwing America is that Texans screwed by the god delusion are writing the textbooks that American children are required to read. And Republican senators screwed by the Texas religion are similarly screwing Congress. If Collins' thesis had been that everything wrong with America could be blamed on Texas, I would have to disagree. But she merely argues that Texas is a major contributing factor. Even so, secession might not be such a bad idea-if it is America that secedes from Texas.

William Harwood

Heidi's Bookshelf

Bean by Bean: A Cookbook
Cresent Dragonwagon
Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014-4381
9780761132417, $15.95,

A Bean Bible for Your Kitchen Shelf

When I spotted this cookbook and the oddly named author, I figured the contents would be like older vegetarian cookbooks 15 years ago. At that time, most of the books I tried yielded nutritious recipes but little satisfaction. Imagine my appreciation when I found Bean to Bean has creative, flavorful recipes covering a wide spectrum of cooking styles, tastes, and preferences. You will even find recipes with meat as an ingredient!

Eating beans more often is beneficial in many ways. It stretches your budget, provides an inexpensive source of protein, and stretches denser proteins into more meals. Not to mention beans come in a variety of shapes, colors, and styles. Usually I make three test-recipes; this time around three simply wasn't enough. Over the next few months I know I will make many more recipes from this value-packed cookbook.

I made the "Lentil Tapenade" first. It was a great find. For those who need to avoid commercially produced foods due to allergies or other dietary concerns, this kind of recipe can be a huge boost to interesting eating. The accents from herbs and other common tapenade tastes hit all the right notes.

Still, the standout recipe caught my attention due to four entire tablespoons of Rose Water. If you aren't familiar with this item, Rose Water is typically used in much smaller amounts. One of the cautions is overuse creates a soapy quality in a dish. Seeing this unusually large use of a flavor more common in Middle Eastern or Indian dishes completely stimulated my curiosity.

The result with the "Rose of Persia Cake" is amazing. Additionally unique is the use of besan (chick pea) flour. Sour cherry juice was also a unique ingredient. The end result, reminiscent of an Italian Polenta Cake, was a huge hit. Served at a party, it disappeared fast. None of the surprising ingredients stood out. Rather, they blended into a fabulous whole that delivered satisfaction, and lots of requests for the recipe.

If you're looking for a solid addition to your recipe collection using beans in a satisfying variety, Bean to Bean is a great choice. International influences and a real understanding support an impressive use of the spectrum of beans in various forms. If you're ready to expand your bean palate, this book is a great choice.

The World's Best Street Food
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781742205939, $19.99,

A Fun, Interesting Survey of Street Food Around the World

Taking this book off the shelf is like starting on kaleidoscope, street-food adventure. The writing, photographs and recipes take the reader on a whirlwind tour across the world. One of the joys of reviewing the book is the possibility of flipping around to what interests you. The modified magazine style makes browsing through the book fun.

You will get satisfying results from the recipes as well. Many personalities and writers believe that traditional foods provide an important window into cultural exchange. As so many things become homogenized on the planet, these deeply homey food rituals allow a different kind of communication.

One of the common themes in traditional cooking is creative treatment of challenging or less-desirable ingredients. Many of the street foods take this tradition and make fast-serve versions. This is reflected in many recipes, which are attributed to individual contributors with the recipe presentation. A favorite recipe was the Masala Chai. Many versions offered to Western kitchens leave out the lemon grass. It was a pleasure to include it and taste this specific chai recipe. I even found the lemon grass at the farmer's market that weekend.

Murtabak was one of the most interesting recipe. Eaters in the United States are at best used to savory crepes. These filled pancakes take that to the next level. On the other hand, finding an authentic, tasty recipe for falafel has turned out to be harder than I expected. Fortunately, the "Felafel" recipe in this cookbook completely fit the bill.

I hope you'll get a consider grabbing a copy of this interesting book. Whether you want an armchair food tour, some truly interesting, global new recipes, or are simply a Lonely Planet fan, it's an appealing, enjoyable collection of recipes, photos, and vignettes.

The Truck Food Cookbook
John T. Edge
Workman Publishing Company
225 Varick Street, New York, NY, 10014-4381
9780761156161, $18.95,

Trendy Food on Wheels from Around the Country

John T. Edge shows up on television, in newspapers, and now in a cookbook tracking the food truck trend in the United States. The trip includes what happens when a writer and a photographer show up at food-truck central unannounced, where brilliant new combinations come from, and even how one can use mobile-shortcut recipes to make some interesting foods.

One recipe demonstrates the inspiration that can happen with chili. In fact, if you haven't tried Adzuki bean in chili yet, start with this recipe. Personally, I don't care for kidney beans. I've been substituting these red beans, originally from Asian traditions, in my recipes. Take the leap with something besides kidney beans today-definitely worth the investment.

The Sweet Potato Cupcakes discovered in North Carolina were another big hit. With an unexpected spice profile, everyone who tasted them wondered what was different about this recipe. The Meringue topping takes humble sweet potato to a new level of sophistication.

Despite a number of other recipes met with popular approval, the one I will use the most is "Cheater's Horchata." A taco truck in L.A. figured out how take the 48-hour plus process of making horchata and make it possible to reproduce it much, much faster. The fabulously evil idea of adding some bourbon to give it a more "grown-up" twist.

Perhaps you can't make the rounds to find all the great food trucks working the hungry streets. Now, you have any option besides mouth-watering shows on those all-about food cable television channels. With this cookbook, you can bring the food truck trend into your home kitchen.

Heidi Sue Roth

Karyn's Bookshelf

Giddyap Tin Lizzie
Harold William Thorpe
Little Creek Press
5341 Sunny Ridge Road, Mineral Point, WI 53565
9780984924547, $15.00,

In early 20th Century southwestern Wisconsin, a young man could dare to dream. This first in a planned series of novels follows Will O'Shaughnessy, who at 25 makes the wrenching decision, not uncommon in his and successive generations, to walk away from the family farm. His grandfather's farm has been left to a sibling and Will can't earn enough working on his father's farm to support the girl he wants to marry. In a leap of faith that ultimately pays off, he buys an automobile dealership. Thorpe does a great job of linking Will's personal and business trajectory to the times, as his dealership flails during World War I, booms in the 1920s and bottoms out in the 1930s, forcing him to consider leaving it all behind to return to farming. Meanwhile, Will matures from an idealistic bachelor to a level-headed, middle-aged husband and father. A memorable cast of characters emerges over two decades, including Mary, his wife, who is ahead of her time as an intelligent, career-minded school teacher; three well-grounded, close-knit daughters; two brothers, one successful and aloof, the other a war veteran and alcoholic family black sheep; and a variety of neighbors, longtime friends and business people who add interest to the fictional small town of Ashley Springs, Wisconsin. Some of Thorpe's best writing is color: pitching hay into horse-drawn wagons before a coming thunderstorm; the inner sanctums of a small-town tavern and, later, a prohibition-era speakeasy; the underside of a Model T; the messy, awe-inspiring birth of a colt; a marriage proposal in a picture-perfect secluded park; and a 1916 honeymoon to young Madison, Wisconsin. Will's common sense, that helps him avoid the 1929 stock market frenzy and bust, is an always relevant message. A wide-open conclusion and abundant depth of characters and place lay a solid ground for future sequels. A richly wistful, skillfully-penned, epic tale of a bygone era whose economic lessons hauntingly mirror today's troubled times. Readers will yearn for more.

Long Lankin
Lindsey Barraclough, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763658083, $16.99,

Barraclough screams out of the gate in her deeply chilling debut, an exciting new voice for young teens. The eerily sinister tale, for ages 12 and up, follows two sisters who are sent from their home in London to the British countryside to live with their aunt after their mother goes to a mental institution. Their mother's demise is key - why did she break down? Barraclough is particularly good at scene setting, describing to the smallest detail the nearby gated church and Aunt Ida's decrepit, centuries-old mansion that is slowly sinking into the surrounding tidal marsh. Both the church and the mansion hold horrible secrets. The sisters, Cora and Mimi, quickly encounter a series of frightening, ghostly apparitions. Soon it's clear that Mimi is in grave danger. Aided by two young, local brothers, whose involvement provides some droll relief to the dark tale, Cora seeks answers. Do the adults around her know what's lurking? If they do, will they open up to her before it's too late for Mimi? And why are all of Aunt Ida's windows nailed shut, even on the hottest summer nights? Why is the door always bolted? The answers don't lie just in the present; something has been stalking young children for generations. Melding past and present is the other thing that Barraclough does exceedingly well. She lays out in great detail, yet in a very comprehensible and readable way, a series of complex, horrific events that stretch back nearly 400 years that may now culminate in Mimi's doom. A debut of rare quality; an author not just to watch, but who, with her first release, has already proven herself a contender.

The Waters of Star Lake
Sara Rath, author
Terrace Books
c/o University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe St., 3rd Floor
Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299287702, $26.95,

Abundant Northwoods detail that could only come from Rath having spent a lot of time at an aged, remote cabin lends great authenticity to this story that is 100 percent Wisconsin. A fun summer read that is also convincingly poignant, it follows recently widowed Natalie Waters as she retreats in grief to northern Wisconsin. Natalie is in the "deep north." Her lakeside cabin, built nearly a century ago by her grandfather, has one room, no electricity and an outhouse. Within days, however, her solitude is interrupted by the unexpected arrival, from New York City, of her troubled teenage granddaughter. After a rocky start, their renewed relationship proves just what both need. A cast of warmly believable supporting characters; local angst about wolf poaching; lots of quirky, bantering dialogue; wonderfully detailed scene-setting at the cabin, lake, surrounding taverns and woods; and a hilarious twist on treasure supposedly buried long-ago by John Dillinger all contribute to the novel's success. Well-written, heartfelt and genuinely Northwoods, a perfect back porch read. Pack it for the cabin.

Robin, Where Are You?
Harriet Ziefert, author
Noah Woods, illustrator
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley St., Maplewood, NJ, 07040
9781609051921, $17.99,

Just-right simplicity in the art and language perfectly compliment this gentle story about a grandfather introducing his granddaughter, Lucy, to bird watching. As the binocular-toting duo hunt for a robin they encounter all sorts of other birds in trees, on the ground, in a pond, in the air, in a park and atop buildings. When Lucy tires Grandpa sympathetically finds a park bench, where they eat a snack and feed crumbs to pigeons. The warm relationship between Lucy and her grandfather is a comfortable context for introducing information of a non-fiction nature, softening the actuality that readers are being fed quite a bit of detail. Hiding, under flaps, non-fiction facts about each of the birds Lucy and Grandpa encounter is a good move. Children can read more if they want to...or not. The "facts" themselves aren't at all onerous but rather, often quirky tidbits of knowledge. The art is minimalistically lovely, simply-lined and uncluttered with abundant, yet mostly muted color. The exception to the low-key color is the cover, which is a bit brighter, a good choice that will lure kids. Young readers will love the robin's nest surprise at the end and the concluding, oversized, flip-up bird recognition quiz. A beautifully crafted, informative, intergenerational nature quest that harkens back to a quieter time when families plugged into the outdoors, not electronics, and tended real robin's nests, not e-nests. A great reminder that this is not only still possible, it's important.

Draw + Learn: Places
Harriet Ziefert, author
Tanya Roitman, illustrator
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley St., Maplewood, NJ, 07040
9781609052171, $8.99,

Ziefert and Roitman continue their drawing series for young children with this guide to sketching a familiar place: home. Other titles in their "Draw + Learn" series have previously covered people, animals and faces. In the same fabulously fun, colorful, kid-friendly format as previous books, "Places" begins with an exhaustive exploration of all corners of a human home, from the bathroom to the kitchen to the garage. Then, it expands to other kinds of homes including a firehouse, doghouse, palace, lighthouse, apartment house and even an igloo. Activities progressively step up in difficulty. Children are first asked to finish, add detail and color partially-finished sketches. Then, they're challenged to draw on their own. Children are encouraged to messily dig in. "This book should become rumpled, creased, splattered, filled up and thoroughly used," says a parent note. Parents are directed to "crack the spine," so the book lays flat for drawing. Although listed for 3-to-5-year-olds, the series is probably best for 4-year-olds and up. The tasks may be beyond all but particularly artsy, fine-motored 3-year-olds. Four-year-olds will need adult guidance with the directions; kindergartners might read well enough to go it alone. A good choice even for first-graders, who can work independently and are not too old to appreciate the format. Another great title in a series that will inspire young children to pick up a pencil...and a crayon, marker, pot of paint, stick of chalk and other art tools.

Time for a Bath
Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, authors and illustrators
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547250373, $12.99,

Animals take baths, too. Tigers wash in the river, rhinos and emus roll in mud. Young children will relate to this little book that shows animals doing something familiar. At just over 8-inches-square, it's smaller than most picture books and it's thin, with just 24 pages. But the Caldecott Honor-winning duo, who have published many other books about animals, pack a lot into a small space. Children will thrill to learn that, of the sixteen creatures featured, many don't bathe in water. Elephants and Jerboas bathe in dust, and many others including geckos and jackrabbits, wash themselves with their own tongue. Others, including ants and white-tailed deer, wash each other. That the spoonbill splashes a lot while it bathes will bring sympathetic giggles. As always, Jenkins and Page offer inspiringly beautiful art that is both simple and richly detailed. One in a trio of small picture books; other series titles focus on what animals eat and how they sleep.

Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster
Axel Scheffler, author and illustrator
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763659189, $12.99,

The sturdy, bright, board book-like cover on this gentle story about friends and fears feels just right for 2 and 3-year-olds that are transitioning to picture books. Inside, abundant color continues, starting with eye-catching purple-striped endpapers. The simple story is full of familiar things, from kitchen cupcake baking to backyard picnics to scary costumes. The age level is dead-on, as children are beginning to be a little bit less afraid of scary things. They will quickly grasp that the monster costume in the story is being worn by a non-threatening friend. The book begins as Posy decides to bake cupcakes on a rainy day. Suddenly, a hairy blue monster shows up at her door. After a teary moment, Posy realizes it's just her friend, Pip, in a costume. Life goes on with a Pip offering to let Posy try on the costume, and they ultimately have a cupcake in the backyard. While Halloween is never mentioned, falling autumn leaves in the backyard suggest that time of year. An appealing book about fears young children face every day, showing it's possible to get past them.

Tessa Tiger's Temper Tantrums
Barbara de Ruberts, author
R.W. Alley, illustrator
The Kane Press
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7206, New York, NY 10118
9781575653532, $22.60,

Language arts and behavior are two things that early elementary schoolers work on daily. As Tessa Tiger learns to be a good sport and to keep her temper tantrums in check, young readers are exposed to lots of "t" sounds, from t-ball to twist, twirl, team and tummy ache. This is the latest in the "Animal Antics: A-Z" alphabet-based books that help children learn to identify letter sounds while reading a story they can relate to. This time, Tessa loses it when her t-ball team doesn't win. When she overhears classmates talking about how they no longer want to play with her, Tessa realizes something has to change. With a great infusion of humor, their wise teacher tells the class about a time when she had such a bad tantrum that her tailed became tied in a knot. After some cleansing giggles, Tessa tries again. This time, when her team loses, she stays in control. Children will like the soft, pen and watercolor illustrations and the fact that Tessa's class consists of an array of different animals. Just right.

Weird and Wonderful
Phil Whitfield/Animal Planet, author
c/o Macmillan
175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010
9780753467220, $12.99,

A burst of color -- orange clownfish amid purple sea anemones -- greets readers on page one of "Weird and Wonderful: Show Offs: Astonishing Animals. Bizarre Behavior", an alluring book about bold animal behavior. Throughout, the text and illustrations remain vividly kid-pleasing. From the glowing green mouth of a pineapple fish to highly toxic skin of the blue poison-arrow frog to color-changing chameleons, readers learn that the features that make creatures stand out often have a purpose. Warning potential predators and enticing potential mates are high on the list. Lots of close-up pictures, break-out animal fact boxes and just the right amount of text will engage young readers without overwhelming them. One in a recent series of highly readable, beautifully designed "Animal Planet" books by Kingfisher that focus on interesting aspects of animal life.

Images of God for Young Children
Marie-Helene Delval, author
Barbara Nascimbeni, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
978082853912, $16.50,

God is lots of things. Poetic, Bible-based, child-centered language, backed by exquisite artwork, defines some of them. In fact, after reading all of the book's 40 plates, children should firmly see that God is everything. Each page describes the creator in a way that can be sensed. Children will touch, see, hear and smell God as he is said to be and illustrated as breath, silence and tears, as having the strength of an elephant and providing the tough fortress-like protection of a thick rosebush hedge. Big terms are brought down to child level. God is deliverance "when we are locked up by things that keep us from being loving and joyful and generous." A covenant is a promise, such as when God told his people "he would be with them, now and always." The illustrations are bold-hued and childlike: a boy swinging amid creation to depict joy; a pink house with a red door on a gray "rock" that is solid like God; animals drinking at a fish-filled flowing stream, just as "the flood of God's love satisfies our thirst to love and be loved." The latest in a series of Eerdmans' scripture-based titles for young children; others have been about the Psalms, beloved Bible stories and animals of the Bible. One to gift.

Draw With the Cartoon Dude!
David Miller, author and illustrator
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley St., Maplewood, NJ, 07040
9781609050689, $14.99,

Miller starts aspiring young cartoonist out with the basics --- the structure and shape of the human body, a reminder that most images can be boiled down into a collection of four basic shapes, and a lesson in drawing body parts like faces and hands. Then, he takes off and for the next 250 pages teaches young artists how to add elements like clothing and streetscapes. There's an introduction to drawing animals, which morphs into drawing fantasy characters like fairies, ninjas, mermaids and robots. Blank newsprint pages pepper the book, and readers are encouraged to draw their own creations here. Motivational thought blocks and helpful tips will keep kids engaged. A combo young cartooner's Bible and working sketchbook; its sheer heft will keep kids busy for a long time. A concluding author's message pushes kids to keep working on their new skills, even after all these pages are filled.

Planting the Wild Garden
Kathryn O. Galbraith, author
Wendy Anderson Halperin, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455638, $15.95,

Farmers and gardeners carefully tend to their straight rows of vegetables and crops. But all around them nature is cultivating in an age-old way, by randomly scattering seeds that later take root. Sometimes it's a non-living natural force like wind or water that does the work, often it's a living creature. Really lovely, earth-inspired watercolors combine with text that stirs the senses. Readers will hear the "Gulp! Gulp!" of a minnow swallowing a stream-washed seed; the "Chomp, chomp," of raccoons eating blackberries, whose seeds may later embed in the soil; and the "scratch, scratch," of a squirrel burying an acorn that might someday grow into an oak tree. People can unknowingly scatter seeds, too, on muddy boots and sweaters, readers are reminded. A beautiful primer on how nature is abundantly equipped to renew itself, and how that actually happens.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Katherine's Bookshelf

No Greater Glory
Cindy Nord
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
11821 Mason Montgomery Road Suite 4B
Cincinnati OH 45249
9781619211889, $5.50,

In Cindy Nord's No Greater Glory, another Southern plantation has joined the famous Civil War plantations of Tara, Twelve Oaks, and now Shapinsay. To inhabit these literary plantations, there is a bevy of beautiful plantation ladies - Scarlett, Melanie and now Emaline. To consternate the ladies - Rhett, Ashley and now Reece. As a reviewer, I don't normally contrast or compare novels to other novels as I think each one should stand alone. I am not necessarily changing my personal policy for this beautifully written book by Cindy Nord, as I believe that it does stand alone. The love story - fantastic! Fraught with desire and doubt! The research of the era - minutely perfect. Right down to the clothing worn by the characters.

Emaline McDaniels meets the hated and feared Yankees when Col. Reece Cutteridge commandeers her magnificent plantation, Shapinsay, for his troops winter bivouac. They take over the whole plantation, including the bottom floor of the house to be used as a hospital. Knowing she cannot do anything about it, the beautiful mistress of the plantation bides her time. Soon, though, her hatred of the Yankee colonel is overshadowed by something else. What is it? Respect? Understanding? Acceptance? Another emotion more akin to love? Read Ms. Nord's novel of the War Between the States, the Civil War or whatever nomenclature you prefer. You won't be disappointed, I assure you.

"Colonel Reece Cutteridge spotted the woman the instant he turned onto the lane. He informed his comrades he'd handle the situation. But just how, he didn't quite know yet. The blazing animosity reflected in her evergreen eyes indicated she wasn't open to hospitality. The rifle in her hands underscored that fact. Of the many plantations he'd commandeered since the beginning of the war, most were deserted or housed civilians cowering within."

Ms. Nord has a command of the language of the day, just as Colonel Cutteridge had command of his troops. She knows the history of the period. She writes an engrossing story of love between enemies, as opposed to fighting brother against brother.

Born in Arizona to a family of educators, Cindy Nord moved from the southwestern desert to southwestern Indiana during her teenage years. After the birth of her two sons, she became a stay-at-home mom. At this point, she decided to try writing an historical romance with her own special twist. The result, No Greater Glory.

I recommend this debut novel to those who love romance and historical fiction. I has both in abundance.

She is a veteran of Civil War reenacting that started for her when she met her husband, Tom. From what I know about Civil War Reenactments, the research is thorough and the actual reenactment is true to the era. This, I believe, is what makes No Greater Glory so well written.

A member of numerous writers groups, Cindy's work has finaled or won countless times in chapter competitions, including the prestigious Romance Writers of America National Golden Heart Contest.

Indian Affairs
Parris Afton Bonds
Parris Afton, Inc.
B008JLF4U8, $5.99

Parris Afton Bonds certainly knows how to put words on paper to fashion an intricate and exciting story. Indian Affairs is just that.

Alessandra O'Quinn must move to a dryer climate in hopes that the air will cure her tuberculosis. Although she does not want to go, she moves to Taos, NM. The first view of the town is a little foreboding and Alessandra hopes she will get well soon so she and her son, Jeremy, can return to Washington, D.C.

"Something awaited her here in the dead desert, something more powerful than Life, and she feared it might be Death. Death waiting for her with arms wide open."

Surprisingly, her move expands her horizons and allows her to rediscover the avant-garde lifestyle she enjoyed in her youth. She becomes a part of the local "artsy" society and meets many famous people like Dr. Carl Jung, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence. They introduce her to the local shaman, Manuel Mondragon. The conflict between the two worlds of Alessandra and Manuel makes for some very exciting electricity, both between themselves and their respective cultures.

Parris Afton paints a graphic word picture of the plight and acceptance of the Indian and a descriptive picture of the ones who want to keep their way of life and fight the Washington bureaucrats. Note: As a former librarian, I always wanted to know from reading the reviews if there was any risque scenes in the book, so I am going to say that there are a couple in this book. The storyline itself is exceptional and it is a book that I know you will enjoy, as I did.

Parris Afton Bonds is the mother of five sons and the author of thirty-five published novels. She is the co-founder of and first vice president of Romance Writers of America. Declared by ABC's Nightline as one of the three best-selling authors of romantic fiction, the award winning Parris Afton Bonds has been interviewed by such luminaries as Charlie Rose and featured in major newspapers and magazines as well as published in more than a dozen languages. She donates her time to teaching creative writing to both grade school children and female inmates. The Parris Award was established in her name by the Southwest Writers Work(s)hop to honor a published writer who has given outstandingly of time and talent to other writers. Prestigious recipients of the Parris Award include Tony Hillerman and the Pulitzer nominee Norman Zollinger. (Quoted from her book)

Alone and Alive
Janet Boyanton
Shafer Publishing
PO Box 134, Lyons, NJ 07939
9780974772028, $19.95,

Alone and Alive by Janet Boyanton is a practical and useful book on what a woman goes through when she loses her spouse. Many parts of it can pertain to men as well, but it is written for women.

"This book will not be about sadness. It is not the tear-jerking story of a grieving widow. It is the story of how to overcome the grief and recapture the joy of life. It is the story of how you live in your newfound state, how you move on, and most important, how you stay yourself, even when you feel like part of you is gone forever."

Mrs. Boyanton sent her husband and 9 year old son off on a camping trip that ended tragically. Her son called her and told her that his father would not wake up. This started her down a journey that taught her that people, especially women, are not emotionally or physically prepared for the loss of a spouse. She gives a straightforward account of what should be done from finances to things that have an emotional impact on the surviving spouse.

The author's advice is not to do anything immediately, but to wait at least a year if finances will let you. Some of the things she suggests are not to sell your house, don't let anyone move in with you or move in with anyone else until you have had a chance to grieve and find out where you stand emotionally and financially.

She has several decision making aids that will help you to make plans for the future. You may not need all of them, but it is worthwhile going through each one.

Janet Boyanton is a probate attorney practicing in Texas. In addition to her JD, she holds a Master's of Business Administration and a Master's of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology. Her education and experience as a widow gives her a unique position from which to address the issues that affect all women who have suffered a loss.

Alone and Alive was a finalist in non-fiction at the North Texas Book Festival in Denton, Texas on April 14, 2012 and the winner of the 2012 Texas Association of Authors Book Award for Women's Issues.

Born Mad
Robyn Wheeler
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452536408, $11.95,

As the title implies, Robyn Wheeler has written a book about a disorder finally diagnosed as dysthymia, a chronic type of depression, that she has lived with since birth. Born Mad, is her journey from rage and being angry all of the time to what she considers a normal life. She spent her formative years not knowing what was wrong with her. Finally it was diagnosed and her life changed. It affected ALL of her relationships, friends, family, workers, acquaintances and even her health. The book takes the reader through her search for help, with the hope that it might help others.

After years of good and bad counselors, drugs (Prozac) that helped, researching her disorder and learning through experts about how to control and live with it, she now knows that it will be a lifelong battle. There is no 'magic pill' that will make it go away completely, but only things that will treat the symptoms, whether it be drugs and/or lifestyle changes. She works on maintaining her stability on a daily basis.

"I felt unloved, unappreciated, and taken advantage of, like I didn't matter to anyone else, including my husband or my immediate family. I'd suffered the consequences of losing a friend and a sister and felt the few people still in my life didn't care about what I was going through or understand the severity of my aching soul."

I recommend this book to those with the same affliction and for family and friends who know someone with dysthymia. It gives a good insight to what a person goes through in searching for why they are angry and upset all of the time.

Robyn Wheeler, an avid animal lover since childhood, created a wildlife education company called The Creature Teacher, LLC. She has since sold the company and is now a reporter for The Monitor of Cedar Creek Lake newspaper and created Born Mad, LLC, to help create awareness for dysthymia. She is involved in speaking engagements and support groups to spread the word about dysthymia. She was selected as Professional Woman of the Year 2012 by the National Association of Professional Women ( and Professional of the Year in Writing and Editing 2012 by Worldwide Who's Who (

Listen to the Ghost
Beverly Stowe McClure
Twilight Times Books
PO Box3340, Kingsport TN 37664
1933353511, $16.95,

Listen to the Ghost by Beverly Stowe McClure surprised me. I do not usually read paranormal or ghost stories, but I really liked this one. It is written for young adults and they will find it exciting and interesting, but not actually scary.

The ghost, Phoebe, is one who is congenial, but mischievous, who only wants help from the live young people, Jade, Elaine, David and Matt who were house sitting for Jade and David's grandparents, so she could go to her eternal rest.

"She laughed at herself. What is wrong with me? She thought. I sound like I believe Elaine with her stories of ghosts and spirits and noises in the night. She'd say we have a supernatural being in our midst."

As Phoebe appears to each of them one at a time, they all become more aware of her and she eventually becomes almost real to each of them. Her request from them is to help her find the wedding rings that were to be used at her wedding on the day she died. The group of young people works hard to help her, but feel that it is going to be an impossible task after so many years.

There is a normal storyline in addition to the ghostly one that unfolds as they try to help Phoebe. Kurt, her former boyfriend begins to stalk her and they have to deal with that situation along with the ghostly event.

This young adult novel will hold your interest and you will be looking forward to finding out what happens in the end.

Beverly Stowe McClure has written several teen novels as well as an adult novel that delves into the realm of ghost stories. She lives in the country with her husband, Jack where they watch armadillos, skunks and other wild creatures. She is a member of the North Texas and the national Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She is a mother to three sons, grandmother to four granddaughters and two grandsons and great grandmother to one great grandson. Her official bio says she married very young.

The Adventures of Little Boy Brown
Leslie Lucas
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
9781456740351, $16.59,

The Adventures of Little Boy Brown by Lexie Lucas is a charming book about a puppy, Little Boy Brown. He is the runt of the litter, who grew up to be a really fast runner. He is told to stay close to home, but he has so much fun running that he runs all through the south.

"One beautiful day on Sunshine Lane, Little boy Brown was out for his daily run. He was running, leaping and waving at all the neighbors as he whizzed by their houses."

He sees many exciting places and meets several new friends. Texas longhorns, a turtle that he helped to travel to his friend, Mr. Fox, to play chess, a family of beavers who were building their lodge and a horse who was heading for a race in Kentucky.

His dream has always been to run in the fastest race and this was his chance to do it. His adventure at the Kentucky Derby leads him to understand that he really just wants to be back with his family and friends on Sunshine Lane. Children will learn, through his example, that following rules is very important.

There are questions at the end of the story that will help the teacher or parent to lead children in discussions to help them understand the lessons to be learned in the book.

Lexie Lucas grew up in Garland, Texas and has always loved dogs. She rescued Harley, the inspiration for her children's book while attending school in Denton, Texas. She now lives in Washington, D.C. and works in the United States Senate while attending Johns Hopkins University.

The illustrations of Little Boy Brown's journey by Eris Gentle are guaranteed to fascinate children. A wife, mother and multi-media artist living in Austin, Texas, Eris Gentle considers her two children to be her greatest artistic creations.

Katherine Boyer

Logan's Bookshelf

Danny's Workin' the Crowd
Daniel S. Goodman
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741474261 $15.95

Despite the bright, cheery juggling clown on the book cover (not to mention the quixotic talking camel reminiscent of a cartoon animal once used to pitch cigarettes), Danny's Workin' the Crowd is not really a book young children. Danny's Workin' the Crowd is for adults or older teens, due to occasional references to mature subjects. Each page features a different brief insight - some brilliant, some quixotic puns, some highly questionable, some involving lateral thinking, and all will make the reader's head spin. A variety of black-and-white illustrations add their own depth to this compendium in the irreverent vein Saturday Night Live's "Deep Thoughts". The internal gems include such ponderings as "I have two questions. Is axiomatic a small hatchet? Can you tell the age of a doorbell by the number of rings?" and "When it comes to commercial air travel, I love the comment by an air pilot, 'There's no such thing as a water landing. It's called crashing into the ocean.'" Danny's Workin' the Crowd is quick to browse, long to ponder, and especially recommended as a distinctive giftbook for friends with a strong sense of humor.

Transition to Peace
Russell Faure-Brac
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469730783, $14.95,

War may be an inefficiency of the past. "Transition to Peace: A Defense Engineer's Search for an Alternative to War" is an intriguing exploration of a post-war world where war is left behind as an inefficient way to progress the world and for the United States to defend itself. Encouraging an optimistic view of how the United States can change the world, "Transition to Peace" is a read well worth pondering for those who seek a better future.

You Don't Say
Douglas Arthur
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9780533164325, $16.95,

The English language is a mutt language taking influence from countless sources the world over. "You Don't Say: The Words Most Often Misused & Mispronounced" is a discussion of the English language where a large portion of our language may often be seen but not always heard. Defining these misused words and presenting a pronunciation guide to getting the language right, "You Don't Say" is a must for those who want to expand their language skills.

The Twelfth Paladin
Nora Weston
Melange Books
9781612351766, $15.95,

To live up the standard of a paladin is a tall order, but Jake may be more up to it than he knows. "The Twelfth Paladin" is a fantasy of heaven and hell as Jake Cottrel is sanctioned to become the titular paladin. But his journey will be one of temptation, spite, and the fires of hell following him wherever he may go. "The Twelfth Paladin" is a read for those who want a story of good and evil with a bit of spice on board.

Healthy Shame
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432769420, $13.95,

We torment ourselves because we love ourselves. "Healthy Shame: How to Spank Your Inner Monkey!" is a guide to dealing with our own self-sadism of torturing ourselves and how to turn that into a healthy self-love and use it to make our lives and the lives around us better and more complete. "Healthy Shame" is a strong read for inspirational and self-help collections, highly recommended.

On the Road with Muggsbottom
J. Patrick Adcock
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469962818, $9.50,

Delving into small town America from England can bring its own twists of fate. "On the Road with Muggsbottom" is a fictionalized memoir from J. Patrick Adcock who tells the story of Charles Pierpont Muggsbottom, an aging Englishman who faces a gauntlet of comedy with a completely stern face, encountering many unique characters along the way. "On the Road with Muggsbottom" is a fine addition to humor and fiction collections, recommended.

The Emptiness That Kills
Jim Taylor
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432771287, $18.95,

Man is a social creature, not meant to be cut off alone. "The Emptiness That Kills" tells the story of a man isolated from the world, searching for something to make him whole but may be quickly spiraling into the realm of self-destruction. A psychological novel of what drives us together what drives us away, "The Emptiness That Kills" is a strong addition to general fiction collections, highly recommended.

What Happiness Looks Like
Karen Lenfestey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466415171, $14.00,

Life never goes according to plan. "What Happiness Looks Like" is a novel of Joely Shupe, approaching middle age and not having many of her own dreams coming true, coping with the realities of life, as a bout of lupus leaves her life in shambles as a single mother to a daughter who struggles to put it all together. A family in shambles, she tries to find something of happiness through it all. "What Happiness Looks Like" is a strong pick for those seeking a tale of mid life crisis and what results.

Parenting: The Bottom Line
Ron Mackey
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426955204 $15.19

Parenting: The Bottom Line is a plain-spoken defense of the currently unpopular (to say the least) parental disciplinary tool of spanking. Author Ron Mackey warns that being too lax in discipline can be as harmful to children as being too harsh, if not more so; at the same time, spanking must be done properly if it is to be used positively and effectively. For example, spanking should not be done in public (the goal is to gain the child's attention and correct bad behavior, not humiliate the child), should not be used on children over age nine, and should absolutely never be hard enough to leave a bruise or any other injury. Perhaps most importantly, spanking must not be an expression of anger; it is a means to impress lessons upon children who are too young to fully understand other forms of punishment, and generally should not be more frequent than once a week. "It is important to remember, that failing to guide and discipline a child is a form of neglect and abuse. Some think that this type of abuse happens in only poor families, but it takes place in every walk of life, even of the wealthy." More than mere a justification for spanking, Parenting: The Bottom Line stresses parental responsibility and the value of teaching responsibility to one's children above all.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Shaman Friend Enemy
M. Terry Green
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466463004 $13.99

The sequel to "Shaman, Healer, Heretic", Shaman Friend Enemy continues the saga of techno-shaman Olivia Lawson. Although Lawson is a genius among techno-shamans, her skill and talents have attracted enemies that threaten her in both the material and the spiritual worlds. Her personal life is in tatters; she is relentlessly hounded by dark shamans; and the weight of the terrible event that pushed her into shamanism is forcing her to re-examine her past, even though she may be forced to put everything she has on the line. A riveting blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and coming to terms with the darkness in one's own life, Shaman Friend Enemy is highly recommended.

Be Your Best Without the Stress
Katrina Radke
Motivational Press, Inc.
c/o Joanne McCall (publicity)
8200 SW 184th Ave., Aloha, OR 97007
9781935723615, $24.95,

Just because you're not claiming the gold at everything you do, doesn't mean you have to stress out about it. "Be Your Best Without the Stress" is a driven and inspirational read from Katrina Radke, who had once competed at the Olympics, got knocked down, and pushed herself to succeed once more in life. "Be Your Best Without the Stress" is a driven and much recommended addition to any self-help collection, highly recommended.

Cultivating Peace
James O'Dea
Shift Books
9780984840717, $15.95,

Perhaps more than ever, the world needs a good dose of peace. "Cultivating Peace: Becoming a 21st -Century Peace Ambassador" is an inspirational read from James O'Dea who advises readers on how to spread goodwill throughout life, providing great benefits to society and culture. "Cultivating Peace" is a powerful read for those who want to make a difference in the lives of people all around them.

The Betrayed
Igor Ljubuncic
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466323490, $13.95,

It is hard to match the fervor of fanaticism. "The Betrayed" is the first entry of Igor Ljubuncic's fantasy series set in the Realms, as the sect of Feor enters the realm of the old Gods, and the people of the Safe Territories must band together to stop their impressive force, if they can avoid breaking down themselves. "The Betrayed" is an enticing fantasy that should prove very hard to put down, much recommended.

Mark Twain
Ira Fistell
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469178707, $23.99,

Mark Twain is heralded as one of the most brilliant writers of the nineteenth century. "Mark Twain: Three Encounters" is a literary analysis of Twain's work from Ira Fistell who presents a fascinating break down of his work, presenting what he believes are brilliant moves by Twain in keeping his stories relevant through the ages. "Mark Twain: Three Encounters" is well worth considering for any literary studies collection, highly recommended.

Richard Bruno
9781589097995, $15.95,

In the twilight of their reign, the Third Reich began plots for rebirth. "Icewine" is a novel set amongst Europe as Alex James and company find themselves wrapped into a plot that surrounds the possessions of Herman Goring, second in command to the Nazi Regime. But the wine that once belonged to Goring hides many more secrets, and those secrets may get James and company killed. "Icewine" is an exciting thriller that shouldn't be overlooked.

A Farewell to the Queen of Talk
Kimberly Adams
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468561517, $14.95,

Oprah was an icon and idol to many women. "A Farewell Platform to the Queen of Talk: True Aha! Moments of Divine Order" is a dedication to Oprah Winfrey from a lifelong fan in Kimberly Adams as she writes of her own journey through show business and her internship at Harpo Studios. Dedicated and spirited, "A Farewell Platform to the Queen of Talk" is well worth considering for fans of Oprah and her long career.

Unconventional & Spiritual Marriage
Jeanette De Jonk
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
1425140017, $12.75,

Marriages fail, and we try to put together our lives once more. "Unconventional & Spiritual Marriage" is a spiritual memoir of Jeanette De Jonk as she tries to pierce together her own wonder and spirit and what it meant to be everything she wanted to be, finding free will and piece of mind away from the bonds of matrimony. "Unconventional & Spiritual Marriage" is a strongly recommended pick for memoir and spirituality collections.

Suite Encounters
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781573447904, $15.95,

Cleis Press is a premier publisher of erotic fiction for an adult readership. One of their latest titles is "Suite Encounters: Hotel Sex Stories" knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Comprised of twenty short stories by remarkably gifted writers, the tales recounted within the pages of "Suite Encounters" touch upon honeymoon suite romances, 'by-the-hour' hotel trysts, clandestine rendezvous, couples revisiting and renewing their past occasions, coworker quickies, and even a mermaid! Perfect 'guilty pleasure' reading, "Suite Encounters" is certain to be a welcome read by anyone who has every engaged in (or fantasized about) an erotic encounter in a hotel room of their own!

Margaret Lane

Maria Ryan's Bookshelf

Left Neglected
Lisa Genova
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439164631, $10.00,

In my experience some of the best fictional stories are written by authors with some expertise in their subject matter. Lisa Genova is no exception. Her neuroscience background translates into an engaging tale of a 37 year old women facing Left Neglect after a bad car accident. Before reading this book, I had never heard of this condition but after reading Sarah's story, I could almost imagine wisps of what this condition might feel like. This was due, in large part, to the talent of Genova's writing. I loved the story, especially Sarah's hilarious sense of humor throughout her trials and while facing one of the scariest things that a human can face. Her accident caused by her own neglectful driving while trying to make one quick call on her cell phone also illuminates a serious cultural issue that all of us face today. Impressively woven into the story is the hard lesson learned by Sarah that still went right over her own husband's head echoing our lack of ability in many cases to heed someone else's wake up call as a should-be-learned lesson of our own. I will definitely be reading more from Genova.

Night Road
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010
9780312364427, $11.20,

A little more sensationalized and over the top for Hannah. I didn't love the way she handled the subject matter. Jude, one of the main characters was just so ridiculously written and completely irritating. The Farraday family overall was so out of touch with regular folk it was laughable. Jude, the mother was sickening in her hovering, helicopter style of parenting. It literally seemed that her every action centered around trying to get her boy/girl twins to climb right back into her womb while simultaneously overreaching to be that "coolest" of parents whose house is where all the kids want to hang out. Enter reality check number one in the form of Alexa Baill, a motherless girl in and out of the foster care system, till her trailer park residing aunt takes her in. She immediately becomes Mia Farraday's best friend and the love of Zach Farraday's life. Jude tries to control all facets of these relationships, her surgeon husband Miles pops in occasionally to humor her and pat her on the head like some clueless puppy whose heart is in the right place. Tragedy strikes and the whole happy clan is dismantled. Jude at first reacts accordingly then goes right off her nut and round the bend. Alexa bears the entire weight of the tragedy and pays a ludicrously high price for one very bad decision that she in no way shared alone. She however bears alone the role of scapegoat and is ruthlessly targeted by the ignorant out-for-bloods. Unrealistically, there were people not even mentioned that should have been made partly responsible for the tragedy. There were lots of competing themes emerging in one story so that it was a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, the reader really isn't left with the true intent of the story.

Maria Ryan

Marjorie's Bookshelf

Concierge Confessions
Valerie Wilcox
7290 Investment Drive, Suite B
North Charleston, SC 29418
9781469976761, $14.95,

Valerie Wilcox has an exciting new series featuring a concierge sleuth which is different and refreshing. But Kate Ryan is no ordinary concierge. She is an engineer out-of-work and taking on a brave new career. She has spunk, intelligence and an innate curiosity, and she inevitably solves the puzzle of the murders mysteriously occurring in the swanky BellaVilla condominium where she works. Along the way she is helped or sometimes hindered by her ex-husband police detective who can still move Kate emotionally although she is trying to put him in her past. Willcox uses an interesting chapter format, each a numbered confession. We learn of official condominium policy through bulletins placed at the beginning of each chapter by her none too friendly boss. Kate Ryan is a modern woman beset with all the problems facing the 21st century woman. She's current, resourceful and always looking ahead. The ending brings a pleasant surprise for her future. Wilcox is a superb writer and weaves a well-paced, intriguing tale that keeps one turning the pages. The good news is that its the first in a series, and I recommend getting started.

Where Lilacs Still Bloom
Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBook Press
122265 Oracle Blvd., Ste 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781400074303, $14.99,

Jane Kirkpatrick makes history come alive, and she has done it again with her latest historical fiction, Where Lilacs Still Bloom. The book is based on the life of Hulda Klager, a German immigrant who settled with her husband and four children in Woodland, Washington, not far from Vancouver and Portland, Oregon. Hulda was born around 1864 and died at the age of 97, outliving her husband and all her children. Early in her marriage she wanted an apple that wasn't so hard to peel to make apple pies for her husband. Through selective breeding she attained her goal and began to use the technique to improve her flower garden and ultimately her lilacs. She wanted a creamy lilac with twelve petals which took her a lifetime to achieve. Jane tells her tale with a real eye for making the people and events in her novels like living history. She tells her tales with humor and faith. In the story Jane gave us glimpses of the characters who would figure prominently in the story. Some of these characters were composite people from her research. But she has such an attention for detail for the time period that she is writing about that it seems as though the reader is right there. And we learn something about history in the process. And about the people who made history with their unique lives like Hulda Klager. I would very much recommend this book as well as any of Jane Kirkpatrick's 22 published books. You are in for a real treat.

Marjorie Thelen, Reviewer

Mayra's Bookshelf

Golden Chariot
Chris Karlsen
Books to Go Now
P.O. Box 1283, Poulsbo, WA 98370
B007KNLC02, $2.99,

Talented author Chris Karslen has written an action-packed adventure story set in exotic Turkey that will be relished by fans of underwater archaeology and lost treasures.

Our feisty protagonist, Charlotte Dashiell, is about to complete her doctorate in nautical archaeology. She travels to Bodrum, Turkey, to start a new excavation for the Maritime Institute of Archaeology and Research. In fact, she's there to investigate a wreck possibly associated with Troy. This is her dream come true, as she's always wanted to focus her research on shipwrecks located in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Her field of interest, the Trojan War, is focused on that area. Her work there could mean the proof she needs for her theory: that the shipwreck contains the lost treasure of the king of Troy.

Unexpectedly, though, her boat is broadsided and the craft responsible mysteriously explodes. To make matters worse, the only man who has any answers goes missing and then is found dead. As a result, the local authorities don't believe her story - not only that, but they suspect her of criminal intent.

Our hero, Turkish archaeologist Atakan Vadim, is there to protect the relics and the integrity of the shipwreck. He's warm, genial and has a good sense of humor. However, with Charlotte he behaves cold and somber. He doesn't trust her one bit. For him, she means trouble in all the sense of the word. He also thinks her mad and an utter romantic because of her theory.

As tension escalates and more deaths happen, Charlotte knows she's in grave danger and should go back home, but there's no way she'll do that. If she does, she'll miss the chance to be part of the exploration. It could mean a break or make opportunity for her theory.

This is one of the most entertaining novels I've read in a long time. I loved the whole scenario of the exotic location and the underwater shipwreck, and also the connection to the enigma of the lost treasure of Troy. I've always been an avid fan of underwater archaeology, so this was right up my alley. Charlotte is a smart, sympathetic heroine. I also enjoyed the fact that the hero is Turkish and that the story is rich with local flavor. I lived in Turkey for five years and know the author did an excellent job with the setting, local customs, language and people. The historical facts and everything about the underwater exploration was fascinating. The villain was particularly terrifying in a cold blooded way. I highly recommend this novel to anybody who enjoys a good story full of action and adventure, especially those who love archaeology and/or are interested in Troy.

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Betrayal and Forgiveness
Linda Armstrong-Miller
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
1449726682, $19.95,

Lisa is a brilliant, 30-year-old computer programmer recruited by ISF-Intel Securities Foundation, a contractor for the Department of Defense. At such a young age, she already has a patent on a software that the DOD is willing to buy from her at any price. Overnight, it has become the most sought-after program on the planet.

Then one day she is kidnapped and badly hurt in the process. To avoid giving her captors what they want, she fools them by faking amnesia. What keep her alive are thoughts of seeing again her son and the man she loves.

Meanwhile, her father Sam and her son Zach, together with the authorities, are doing everything they can to find her. Sam has a love-hate relationship with Lisa because he blames her for the death of her mother - and the only woman Sam ever loved.

Their relationship is further damaged by the fact that he took Zach away from Lisa and raised him as his own son. His action was partly due to the fact that Lisa was only a young teenager when she had Zach. The story, told in multiple points of view, switches from Lisa and her ordeal as she's kept captive, to Sam and Zach as they try to find her.

There is quite a lot of backstory, especially at the beginning, which together with various punctuation mistakes, was somewhat distracting. However, I was able to root for Lisa and I also found interesting the dark family dynamics taking place between father and daughter, and mother and son until the compelling ending when there's a transformation among the characters.

Part-thriller, part-drama, Betrayal and Forgiveness is an out-of-the-ordinary story that will appeal to fans of Christian fiction.

Mayra Calvani

Mira's Bookshelf

The Whole Food Guide For Breast Cancer Survivors
Ed Bauman & Helayne Waldman
New Harbinger Publications
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781572249585, $18.95,

For all of those out there who have survived breast cancer there is now a book, "The Whole Food Guide For Breast Cancer Survivors", that goes beyond primary treatment and survival. With the information in this book you can learn how to support your body, to be can be healthy and strong using nutrition and a holistic health focus.

Covering a wide variety of topics including environmental risk factors, understanding hormones, glucose and metabolism, chemical exposures, and even a thorough explanation of those nutrients and foods which are highly supportive to health, this book covers the broad spectrum of what you need to know. Providing background material and in-depth studies the work is well-supported and scientifically grounded.

Written in a straightforward and easy to understand manner the book provides a solid foundation of knowledge for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of how their food affects their body and their health when breast cancer is involved. It also includes a wide variety of delicious recipes, the foundations of eating for health, a sample meal plan, and ideas for incorporating these healthy and delicious food choices into your diet.

It isn't, however, just a discussion of nutrients and chemicals; the book also points out various types of therapy, diagnostic tools, and laboratories that offer additional or alternative treatments for breast cancer. There are educational resources including books and support organizations. The resource section even lists a number of retreats that are specifically for breast cancer patients, survivors, and some are also for family members.

If you or someone you love is a breast cancer survivors, this book would be a great resource. But it's not just for survivors, it would also be an excellent roadmap for those who may discover that they are at risk for breast cancer.

The AntiAnxiety Food Solution: How The Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood & End Cravings
Trudy Scott, CN
New Harbinger Publications
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781572249257, $17.95,

Written in a warm, reader-friendly style, "The AntiAnxiety Food Solution: How The Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood & End Cravings" takes the often undiscussed topic of anxiety disorders, brings them into the light, and offers solid, scientifically backed nutritional advice to help alleviate the symptoms.

Anxiety disorders encompass a wide range of conditions from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to panic disorder to social anxiety and more. Often undisclosed by those who suffer from this sometimes debilitating range of disorders, anxiety can cause a wide array of physical symptoms due to the stressors, emotional toll, nutrient depletion, and the lack of proper diet. The author herself a former sufferer of anxiety, brings the voice of experience to this topic in a caring yet straightforward way.

Diving right in to the topic, Chapter 1, Figure Out Your Optimum Antianxiety Diet, gives a step-by-step approach to proper nutrition to support the bio-individual needs of those looking to, as the sub-title says, calm their anxious mind, improve their mood, and end their cravings. As part of the nutritional support offered in the book, the author gives very clear examples of what to eat and, just as importantly, what not to eat, even including examples of nutrient dense bonus foods. The author then takes the subject a step further by including chapters on a wide range of conditions that may affect nutritional status and promote anxiety such as allergies, addiction, blood sugar imbalances, poor digestion, brain chemistry, hormonal imbalances, and lifestyle choices. Throughout the book are a number of easy to understand self-scoring quizzes as well as tables which concisely illuminate the points the author is making.

One main premise of the book is the promotion of a clean, traditional diet, free from chemicals and additives, that is high in whole foods. In another significant topic, the author explains how the use of amino acids can be highly beneficial for many sufferers of anxiety disorders. Clearly highlighting the symptoms each amino acid deficit can cause, she then illustrates how to address these deficits and discusses how to consider use of amino acids to help regulate brain chemistry. She then looks at a little discussed condition called pyroluria, a genetically induced anxiety disorder caused by faulty hemoglobin synthesis. As little known as this condition appears to be it is easily treated with supplemental levels of readily obtainable nutrients; all explained by the author in very plain language.

The book ends with some solid advice about lifestyle and health changes that do not rely on medication, supplements, or nutrition, but are equally important to the concept of living a balanced, happy life. Addressing sleep, exercise and support as an important factor in recovery.

Overall this is a book that should provide a very valuable resource for those who suffer from anxiety disorders or who have a loved one who suffers. By following the advice in this book you will learn specific suggestions for avoiding those substances that can trigger anxiety and prevent a return to balance and wellness. You will also gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the link between nutritional support and a balanced mood.

Joy Bauer's Food Cures
Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN
Rodale Books
733 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781609613129, $21.99,

"Joy Bauer's Food Cures: Eat Right To Get Healthier, Look Younger, And Add Years To Your Life" has been revised and updated providing even more information and education to help people understand the connection between food and health. We are what we eat; eating whole food and practicing wholesome nutrition goes a long way toward supporting our bodies.

Broken down into several easy to understand categories this book covers the basics of understanding nutrition as well as how to, as Joy puts it, "think like a nutritionist." She offers information on a variety of topic such as how to lose weight or how to support healthy skin and hair. It turns out the average person loses about 100 hairs each day. Since hair is made from protein if we don't get enough we can actually cause the rate of new hair growth to slow down. In the book Joy points out that hair is a good way to determine overall health and highlights which vitamins (and which foods contain those vitamins) are supportive for healthy hair and nails (which are made from the same hardened keratin protein as hair). Offering more in-depth health and nutrition support, the book also delves into conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, migraines, IBS and more.

The book is easy-to-read and laid out with step-by-step encouragement and support to help the reader reach their goals for health. The book is also sprinkled with lots of call-out boxes which cover the highlights and answer questions that the reader may have. She includes stories and examples throughout the book which is helpful. In addition to providing the necessary information to help the reader better understand the basics of their condition and how to best support their body each chapter has a 4-Step Program which reminds the reader of the basics, provides a grocery list, offers some additional suggestions, and then also offers meal plans with some delicious looking recipes. Her Citrus Smooth-See recipe on page 272 is delicious as is the Vegetable Oatmeal Bisque on page 322. And the Parmesan Couscous and Ratatouille with Olives, Tomatoes and Fresh Basil on pages 383 (listed below) is a new family favorite.

Joy Bauer's Food Cures provides what you need to know about healthy eating and whole food nutrition. It also gives you information to help you understand how to make those healthy changes.

Parmesan Couscous and Ratatouille With Olives, Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil
Makes 3 servings (1 1/2 cups ratatouille and 1 1/2 cups coucous per serving)


1/2 pound kale, stems trimmed, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow squash, cut into small cubes (about 2 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 cups kalamata or nicoise olives (7 or 8) pitted and chopped
Pinch of ground red papper
1/4 cup whole basil leaves torn


1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth, heated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

To make the ratatouille:

Heat a deep saute pan over high heat
Add the kale, a sprinkle of salt, and 3/4 cup water
Cook, stirring occasionally for 13-15 minutes or until softened
If the kale becomes too dry add more water
Stir in the oil, squash, tomatoes, olives, and red pepper
Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the squash is tender and the tomatoes lose their shape
Remove from the heat and stir in the basil
Set aside

To make the couscous:

In a medium bowl, mix the couscous and sugar snap peas
Pour the hot broth on top, stir at once and cover with aluminum foil
Allow the couscous to rest for 5-6 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the couscous is soft and fluffy
Fold the cheese into the couscous and season with salt and black pepper

To serve:

Spoon the couscous onto a plate or bowl and serve the ratatouille on top

Mira Dessy, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

The Designer Bag at the Garbage Dump
Jackie Macgirvin
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441451, $14.99

When Jesus Changes Julie's Direction from Designer Clothes to Feeding Orphans

Julie, self-centered and insecure seeks fulfillment and satisfaction by being on the cutting edge in designer clothes, accessories, as well as perfection in home decorating and in career accomplishment. A planned two day shopping spree in New York City took an unexpected twist to become a supernatural extended spiritual experience with Jesus in India.

In her book "The Designer Bag at the Garbage Dump" Jackie Macgirvin uses the platform of fiction to deliver a strong message of self-discovery. I was personally moved as I vicariously absorbed the message of Julie's conversations with Jesus, her struggle to surrender her will to Him and to see her life transformed by a newly found intimacy with Jesus. Julie also received the healing and freedom that comes with obedience to God.

The plight of 44,000 orphans victimized each year by the "beggar mafia" in India is dramatically presented through a composite of the lives of eleven orphans living on a garbage dump. Poverty, parental neglect, famine, and kidnapping are all factors that lead to the abuse of these children as they are forced into begging, child pornography, and are sexually abused.

Macgirvin's character development is strong. Key characters reveal character flaws common to most of us. Jackie skillfully reveals transformation and growth in the depth of Julie and the orphans as they build a relationship of trust in each other, and faith in Jesus.

Although I sometimes thought the story line became repetitious or too idealistic I was careful to read on as I did not want to miss a single word of Julie's next conversation with Jesus, as I found them personally applicable to my own faith.

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

"The Designer Bag at the Garbage Dump" is a powerful reminder of the admonition that ... true religion is manifest in meeting the needs of ... orphans in their time of trouble.

Unbound: Breaking Free from Life's Entanglements
Jack & Trisha Frost
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441314, $14.99

Let Go - Break Free - Embrace Change that Liberates

"Unbound: Breaking Free from Life's Entanglements" is made up of heartfelt testimonies, helpful teaching, powerful questions to ponder, and soul searching sample prayers. These prayers are filled with strong affirmations, heart searching confessions, and refreshing inspiration which result in spiritual revitalization.

Jack shares a testimony of his own radical salvation experience. I appreciated Jack's candid openness as he told of the period of discovery and growth after his conversion. "Unbound" combines Jack's writing and Trisha relates stories of how the wounds of the past left them bound by the entanglements of life. Jack has introduced their discoveries in two earlier books. Trisha tells of her own rediscovery of these lessons as she faces life alone, as Jack's widow.

Jack and Trish promise the reader hope and healing from the cycle of inner fears, resulting in strongholds of life's entanglements in exchange for boundless freedom to live out their destinies. I envisioned Satan filling our subconscious minds with strongholds of fear and identity to alienate us from believing the truth that we are loved by God.

The questions to ponder are penetrating and thought provoking. Chapter by chapter I sensed a progression - moving from recognizing and identifying the source of my own woundedness to understanding the process of how strongholds develop and finally to discover how to embrace change that gives freedom.

"Unbound: Breaking Free from Life's Entanglements" is filled with authoritative instruction, well-chosen scriptures, and relevant illustrations.

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

It's Your Life - Live Big
Josh Hinds
Sound Wisdom
167 Walnut Bottom Road
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781937879020, $15.99,

How to Identify and Achieve Your Success Goal

"It's Your Life, Live Big" tells the story of Josh Hinds journey and how he overcame the symptoms of Tourette's disease and other adversities on his way to becoming highly successful as a motivational speaker, mentor, and entrepreneur.

Practical examples, effective ideas, proven theories and simple action steps fill the pages of each of the clearly titled chapters. The reader friendly format of the book, with bold topical headings, adds value for getting an immediate grasp on the material as well as the benefit of later review and application.

I found the suggestions for personal and professional development, creating your life mission, and visualizing the accomplishment of your goals especially helpful. I also found the life lessons on pursuing your goals and dreams and the concept of "breathing life into an idea" motivating.

Josh is able to create the sense of experiencing one on one coaching through his writing. He inspired me to incorporate powerful motivational principles from the quotes of dozens quotes, classic and contemporary, from well-known successful leaders in business, government, philosophy, and other great achievers from every walk of life.

"Live Big" is a book you will want to read, re-read, assimilate, apply the principles, and commit to identify your goal and to put the suggested action steps into practice to achieve that goal.

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

The Children of Eternity
Kenneth Zeigler
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441468, $14.99

New Insights into Heaven, Hell, and Spiritual Battle

"The Children of Eternity" is the fourth in Kenneth Zeigler's "The Tears of Heaven Series." The book introduces Christopher, Jerry, Jonathan, and Lilly who are called on to liberate more than 300 people taken into captivity by Satan's demonic invaders of heaven. They discover the power of the faith within them as they develop their special gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit as God's warriors in the War on Heaven.

The book is divided into two parts: They come face to face with Lucifer and his demons as well as a physical manifestation of the Creator of the Universe, God the Father in book one. In book two they are called on to rescue Leona Stahl from the torments of Hell as they are faced with a battle against death and Satan's dark angels as they deal with unresolved issues of their past.

Zeigler is a gifted communicator with a creative imagination, and an amazing insight into the scriptures. Several themes recur throughout which are rich in spiritual application: These include:

Developing faith
Spiritual warfare
Growing in Christlikeness
God's plan for the universe
Guarding against fear
Bonding together in Christian love
The importance of teamwork

Fans of Star Wars, fantasy novels, and science fiction, will enjoy the quest and fast moving adventure of "The Children of Eternity." Zeigler's use of his own imaginative and original vocabulary, vivid word pictures, thought provoking dialog, and unique concepts of heaven, hell and the complexity and confusion of spiritual battle added to my reading enjoyment.

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

Hollywood Mission: Possible
Steve Cha
WinePress Publishing
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781414119984, $19.99,

A Life Changing Witnessing Tool

"Hollywood Mission: Possible: Piercing the Darkness of a Decadent Industry" is the story of Steve Cha's spiritual journey. Cha candidly relates incidents from the experiences of his three-years as an extra in over one hundred movie, television, and commercial productions. During this time he shared his faith with peers, crew members, and such celebrated stars as Brad Pitt, Tori Spelling, James Wood, and others.

Steve also relates incidents of evangelistic opportunities taken by his mentor, Jonathan Khan, who witnessed to luminaries like Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Dan Aykroyd, and many others.

The book is more than a memoir. Steve is articulate, insightful, and intentional in his writing. He writes to challenge, inspire, and equip the reader to Christian discipleship through the recurring themes of:

Spiritual growth

The Good news of the gospel - Using the 10 commandments, divine judgment, the doctrines of grace, holiness, righteousness, and justice as springboards to effective witnessing

A plan of intentional evangelism

A thought provoking discussion guide is provided for individual or group use. Questions stimulate reflection and discussion of topics covered within the chapters of the book dealing with our relationship to God, doctrinal subjects of: Christian responsibility, prayer concerns, and approaches to sharing Christ with others.

Currently Steve is using social networking and his website to enlist prayer warriors to pray for Christian actors and actresses in Hollywood. His prayer is that they might be an influence in "Piercing the Darkness of a Decadent Industry."

"Hollywood Mission Possible:" is entertaining, informational and life changing, providing a working tool for intentional evangelism and witnessing.

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

Abba Calling: Hearing...From the Father's Heart Every Day of the Year
Charles Slagle
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
978076841376, $14.99

Devotional Thoughts Direct from the Father's Heart

Charles Slagle has captured the tender loving words of affirmation, wisdom and comfort from God the Father in his book "Abba Calling." The book is made up of daily readings representing letters from God. Each letter includes promises from the scriptures with intimate words of personal encouragement, inspiration, and comfort. Every single reading contains a wonderful revelation of God as Father, Abba, or Daddy.

Each day's reading becomes a brief encounter with God the Father, intimate times of worship giving me a sense of connecting with God experiencing his presence in a time of renewal, reflection, and contemplation.

Slagle has profound insight into the mind of God and the realities of the busyness of daily schedules. His writing offers hope, guidance, and promise to readers in every walk of life facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties, hectic lifestyles, family adversity, or impending economic crisis.

Slagle writes from his own experience of intimacy, love, and worship as he unfolds the concept and drama of God the father reaching down to embrace his child as Abba or Daddy.

The eye-catching cover, binding, format, contents, and attractive presentation page add to value of "Abba Calling." In addition to your own reading enjoyment the book is the ideal gift for holidays, graduation, birthdays, or any other gift giving occasion. The daily affirmations of the book also make it especially meaningful for shut-ins or for hospital visitation.

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

An Apple for the Road: Wisdom for Life
Pam Spinosi
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768441338, $15.99

An Honest Transparent Glimpse into Loving God, Loving Others, and Living Life

Pam Spinosi has compiled engaging stories from members of the staff of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry of Redding, California. These stories reflect honest and transparent glimpses into their lives and their passion for God. The authentic testimonies provide the reader with examples of, impartation, preaching, healing, and prophecy.

The book is divided into three parts: Loving God, Loving Others, and Living Life. Each author shares a specific aspect from one of these themes. I was captivated by the realization of the many different ways God uses to manifest himself to us as unique individuals. There are heartwarming testimonies of victories won, and of heartbreaking testimonies of disappointments experienced while learning lessons in God's perfect timing. I was touched by the hunger expressed for knowing the "manifest presence of God," and for a deeper connection with the Holy Spirit.

I gained new insights in the scriptural dynamics of human relationships, our identity in the father's love, and of enjoying friendship with the Holy Spirit. I identified with the longing to find the meaning of true intimacy with God while cultivating a lifestyle pleasing to him.

If you are looking for answers to the questions: Why am I here? Or "What should I do? you will find guidance, meaningful answers, and practical suggestions for life in the wisdom found in "An Apple for the Road." Highly recommended.

The Lost Art of Pure Worship
James W. Goll and Chris Dupre
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
97807684741284, $16.99

A Fresh Look at the Pursuit of God through Worship from a Pure Heart

James W. Goll and Chris Dupre join forces with four other contributors, well known for their insights and experience as worship leaders in the book "The Lost Art of Pure Worship." Each contributor is passionate about an aspect of worship close to their own heart. Their presentations are written with clarity and relevance.

I gained a new appreciation for, and understanding of, what is meant by pure and intimate worship as coming from "the intent of the heart" offered up as praise, adoration, and thankfulness in pursuit of God.

Each chapter includes the words of a song that "declare the glory of God" and make Jesus the center of our worship, bringing honor and praise to him. Well-chosen scriptures, personal stories, and practical instruction help the reader in their pursuit of a deeper understanding of purity in worship, individually or corporately, as a member of the body of Christ.

Whether worshiping with your words, music, talents, service or lifestyle pure worship is a response to God's love for us, out of a heart "secure in his affection." The words of Sean Feucht caught my attention and capture a fresh look at pure worship. "There is a hungry stirring in the hearts of people all across the world to know, feel, and experience the presence of God. They are in a "quest for authenticity."

"The Lost Art of Pure Worship" gave me a fresh look at the pursuit of worship from a pure heart.

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

Richard R. Blake, Reviewer

Riva's Bookshelf

Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor
Stephen Goldin and Mary Mason
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463685393 $15.95
B007KDGON2 $6.99 Kindle
2940033116409, $6.99 NOOK

It has been awhile since I have read a book I enjoyed as much as Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor. It is complex and intricately developed. The action is driven by the characters in the story and by Jade Darcy in particular.

The slate of foreign characters is amazing. The story is set on a planet on the edges of developed society. It is comprised of many different species, some of whom are humanoid and others who are insectoid and still others who inhabit more or less dimensions than our simple three dimensions. The characters are rich, interesting, and the different problems that can occur when such varied life forms, with all their intricacies, interact causes situations that range from the comic to the life threatening.

Jade Darcy herself is an enigma. Early in the story we are led to believe Jade Darcy might not be her real name, but other than a clue to part of it at the end of the book we aren't let in on that particular secret. What we do know is that Jade has had a specialized operation to computer augment her reflexes. She is a carc, a computer-augmented reflex commando, and her existence outside of the military world makes her a rarity. She hides the fact she is a carc for reasons that aren't clear. It is implied that she may be wanted. She takes what is certain to be a suicide mission rather than face another human being - the first to come to the planet of Cablans where Jade lives in the seven years she has been there. It is apparent she has run from human contact before.

The story and the action in it are wonderful. The science fiction in it feels realistic; it isn't simply another Earth-like setting with futuristic sounding problems, but a setting on an outpost planet favorable to life that teems with diversity that becomes a driving force for part of the story. The matter of honor the story addresses exists on several different levels and becomes the driving force for the evolution of the main character. And the Greest, why he/she or it will just have you wondering how many dimensions it is possible for a being to exist in and what creatures from all those different dimensions might be like. I know I personally will be puzzling over the Greest and hiss/hers/its manipulativeness for some time.

If you are a fan of science fiction, or even just futuristic literature that doesn't simply result in some apocalyptic version of our demise, then you should read Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor. I think you will find it believable on all the levels that count and thoroughly enjoyable. I know I did.

Shut Up & Write
Judy Bridges
Redbird Studio Press
3195 S. Superior St. #211
Milwaukee, WI 53207
9780976474272 $19.95
B005PTWLC6 $3.99 Kindle
2940013276055, $3.99 NOOK

I had the opportunity to read Shut Up & Write as a judge for the Global eBook Awards. I was a little intimidated by the title, I expected to open the book and find a Drill Sargent waiting inside roughly demanding I write, right now.

I was pleasantly surprised. Judy Bridges comes across on paper as extremely knowledgeable and personable. Her advice is based on years of experience and the exercises she gives are great.

I found the book to be interesting and not the least bit pedantic, which was another concern I had going into the reading. As a writer herself, Ms. Bridges knows her audience and writes in a way that I feel will appeal to most writers. Her style is direct, but not pushy, she shares examples of results she has gained using the very techniques in the books at classes she teaches, and the exercises she asks the reader to do are easy and result in productive writing.

Bridges style is approachable and her way of teaching is extremely helpful. I would recommend this book not only to beginning writers but also to experienced writers. You can learn to hone your craft through this book and develop your skills. I found this to be one of the more helpful books on writing that I have read.

Emlyn Chand
Blue Crown Press
9780983930839, $12.95 pb
9780983930822 $19.95 Hardcover
B005WXFG54 $2.99 Kindle

I received a copy of Farsighted as a judge for the Global eBook Awards in return for my unbiased review and score. Right away I liked Farsighted it involved an unlikely hero and a paranormal storyline that was vastly different from the many offerings of vampires, fae and elves.

The hero in Farsighted is a blind teenager, Alex, who suddenly discovers that he is able to glimpse the future, only the future he sees is highly disturbing. It involves the death of his best friend, a girl named Simmi who has unusual gifts of her own.

Alex has visions of another teenager, a boy named Dax whose gift is telekinesis. In his visions, Alex sees Simmi die repeatedly in a multitude of ways. Alex decides he must hone his gift so he can better protect Simmi. In the end, he decides he must go looking for Dax and confront him, as it is the only way to keep Simmi safe, but how do you find someone you have only seen in visions?

Chand masterfully builds and releases the tension throughout the story and the reader can definitely feel the anxiety that Alex is experiencing and how much he wants to protect his friends from this menace. The characters are rich, multidimensional, and so interesting. I felt like I could sit down and talk with them they were so well developed.

I would highly recommend Farsighted to readers who are looking for a suspenseful, wonderfully developed paranormal novel that has just enough romance tossed in to make it interesting.

30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller
Carolyn McCray
Off Our Meds Multimedia
B004HB1W82 $4.99

On one hand, I really enjoyed Carolyn McCray's thriller 30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller, but on the other hand, I found the historical inaccuracies in the book to be very distracting. As one can tell from the title part of the story centers around Jesus and Judas, the problem is McCray has set the story in 42 A.D., nine years after the latest possible historical date for the crucifixion. I found this to be extremely distracting. Also, there are some grammatical errors in the book that were a bit distracting as I was reading.

The premise behind McCray's book is an interesting one and I found the storyline to be intriguing. The novel centers around a historically and religiously important anthropological discovery. A secret society is sworn to prevent some of the information that could be gained from this find from coming to light. They will even kill to protect their secrets.

Because of the importance of the find, a specialist in the subject matter, who has been in hiding and supposedly dead for years is brought in to head the research team. Because his participation in the study places him at risk, a top knot, highly armed security team is assigned to him, but their first mission is to bring back a doctor from the middle of nowhere to assist with the discovery. They recover the doctor, and just in time, as a man a killer has been sent to dispatch her before she could join the team.

From this point on the race is on to uncover the truth about the discovery, which in turn keeps leading them down a puzzling path of more discoveries. The secret society known as the Knot is out to kill them and somewhere in the security team is a mole. Can our team stay alive long enough to uncover the truth and what will happen if they do?

Despite the historical inaccuracies and grammatical errors, I would recommend 30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller because it delivers consistent edge of your seat action, wonderfully developed characters, an interesting storyline with an interesting twist and is a really good read. If the few issues I noted above were fixed the book would be stellar.

Learning by Rote
Martina Reisz Newberry
Deerbrook Editions
9780982810026 $16.95

Learning by Rote by Martina Reisz Newberry is a stellar collection of poetry that ranges greatly in range and emotion. From scathing condemnations of the things we as a people allow, to examinations of the individual in all its facets, to deep insights into life and human nature Learning by Rote is at once timeless and fresh, a difficult combination to achieve.

Learning by Rote evokes strong memories and reactions. It is impossible to hide from the scathing picture Newberry paints of a careless human kind, content to let its fellow man suffer, but my favorite piece in the book occurs early on and is quoted her to give you a taste of Newberry's talent.

Welcome Mat

The light rain of your own name
is strange to you - a foreign documentation
of your self disappearing into a house
that was never really there.

And will you leave that house
and leave your name at its doorstep
as a warning to God to let you be?
Will you go down into the cellar

where jars of peaches and pickled eggs
sit in stasis waiting for you
to claim your history?
And will you run from that cellar

into the syllables of another life,
someone else's life bigger than your own?
Will you listen all night to the strong wind
pummeling the trees, pounding out sentences

that you want to remember but won't?
You see, your name will take them from you
and, sure as the delicate bones of a bird
grace the treetops, you will die to live again.

I found this poem touched me deeply, stirring pride, denial, fear and finally excitement at the promise of a sure rebirth. It brought me through the gamut of emotion and seemed to speak to me deep inside. This is the feeling all of Newberry's work evoked and I would highly encourage poets, writers and lovers of language in all its subtle nuances to read it.

The P-Town Queen
Ute Carbone
Champagne Books
B0088QAL6G $3.99

The P-Town Queen by Ute Carbone is laugh out loud funny. I was laughing so much I think my daughter who lives with me began to doubt my sanity, until I explained what I was laughing at and then she understood and was giggling along with me even though she had only heard about the antics within the pages of The P-Town Queen.

The P-Town Queen is the name of a boat, a purple pleasure cruiser with kinky handcuffs hanging off one of the walls below deck. Owned by the lover of the gay brother of the heroine of our story, it is loaned, sort of, to the heroine, who is an oceanographer, so she can conduct research into dogfish - a kind of shark. A heroine who while smart, educated and attractive is just a little bit clueless when it comes to life outside of the ocean.

Our heroine, Nikki, or Nik as her family calls her, hires a man hiding out from a mobster because he witnessed a murder and because the mobster thinks Marco, our hero's real name, got his daughter involved with some unsavory characters.

Nikki doesn't know Marco, aka Parker Bench is hiding out, she thinks he is a gay fisherman. Of course, she senses he's lying about at least his name but she takes him on anyway in exchange for room and board to be her research assistant; Research that is currently unfunded but that she is determined to pursue anyway. After their first day out at sea Nikki knows Parker is no fisherman, but deciding he is a quick study she decides to keep him on anyway. Marco ran away from his would be hit man and hid out on a bus filled with a gay men's choir which is where he got the idea to hide out in P-Town and pretend to be a gay an waiting for his partner Murray to join him. Only he didn't count on his attraction to his employer getting in the way.

I absolutely loved the characters and think Carbone is a master at making characters spring off the page and into your mind. The characters were vital, amusing, annoying, and anything but predictable. They were true to life and you felt that they could be anyone's quirky family with good hearts and flaws and lots of love for one another.

For the comedic value alone I would recommend The P-Town Queen. It is a funny, feel-good book. It is enjoyable and I greatly relished reading it.

Tracy M. Riva

Sandra's Bookshelf

A Rainbow for Christmas
Mary Montague Sikes
Oak Tree Press
1400 East Palmer St., Taylorville, IL 62568
9781610090346, $11.95,

Since this book only has 117 pages it is more like a novella. The story is set in 1869. There you find Meg Smith and her niece Eliza, in a wagon train headed toward Denver, Colo. Meg was going to Denver as her dad had arrange for her to marry a man she had never met. Basically her dad sold her for money so that the farm they live on could be saved.

The outcome of the story you pick up within a few pages, but you keep reading the book anyway, because we all need to get away from our normal lives and so we pick up a book. Then we are transported by the author to someplace else.

The history in this book is right on the mark. Meg's mom had made her a blue dress to be married in. This was normal as only rich people could afford a white wedding gown. It just happens my own mom, was also married in a blue dress in 1949. It was her going to church dress.

I don't think the younger generation knows about marriages being arranged in our country. Nor do I think they know how hard it was for a lot of people as our country was forming.

I wish I could give this book a five star rating, but I can't. The book needs more substance in my opinion. Yet since it is a novella I can give it a four star.

Rated G

Mystery at the Phoenix Festival
Jack and Nicole Spanton and Laura S. Wharton
Broad Creek Press
P.O. Box 43 Mt. Airy, NC 27030
9780983714880, $9.99,

This book has no age limit on it. Two of my grandson's Zach and Elijah, and me, we all really enjoyed this book. This maybe a small book but it tells a big and warm hearted story. Cari and Bruce Rivers had saved enough money that they were able to travel the country in a RV, along with their two children Zach and Nicole and their two service dogs Zena and Dolly. It is Bruce and Cari's hope that their children will learn to grow spiritually, and to share love with others.

The River's family desire is to bring joy, hope and laughter to very sick children. Their dogs were trained to behave and do tricks to entertain kids. Their first stop was in Phoenix, AZ at a Cancer Treatment Center for kids.

Right from the start Zach and Nicole made many new friends at the center. While there Nicole finds a friend whose family owns a dog shelter. Because of the cost to get help for their daughter they were in danger of having to close the shelter. People who usually donated to cover the cost could not do it anymore because of the economy. But Nicole was already thinking of ways to raise the money to keep it going.

Then one early morning at the campsite the whole family's faith is tested.

I did not want this story to end. It is hard to find books that encourage children to believe in God and to live for Him. This book did so but in an interesting way to keep kids attention.

Rated G

Sandra Heptinstall

Teri's Bookshelf

The Pitcher's Kid: A Memoir
Jack Olsen
Aequitas Books
c/o Pleasure Boat Studio
201 West 89 Street, New York, NY 10024
9781929355761, $19.95,

Most memoirs are about a person and how wonderful that person is, in their own viewpoint, slightly jaded and egotistical. The Pitcher's Kid, though, is a realistic, down-to-earth perspective from the eyes of Jack Olsen who grew up as a child of the depression who had the weight-of-the-world on his shoulders, fulfilling the dreams and expectations of his father, a former major league baseball pitcher. This is not an account building anyone's ego.

Unfortunately for Jack, he does not easily live up to being his father's progeny, and discovers that he is lousy in sports. It doesn't help either that he skipped a grade in elementary school, so he really is the smallest and the last one to be chosen for team games. Also, his father has his own version of English which is naturally the only correct way of speaking since the words came
directly from his mouth.

Besides his father's athletic reputation, Jack's father has a fondness for gambling and talking big. Unfortunately, to balance that, he is not reliable and causes his family many financial problems while others are also having problems during the Great Depression.

The Pitcher's Kid is wonderful with Jack Olsen's personal voice making this a laughable, delightful, realistic, and memorable read. Yes, there is definitely adult language but in this particular novel, it does not seem inappropriate, but genuine to the situation. The society pressures of the communities makes this feel like you are right there with Jack in many of his awkward situations during his first seventeen years of life, prior to our country entering World War II. Also, the places in New Jersey and Philadelphia had their own identities, and sometimes languages, making this a perfect glimpse into life in these times and places.

Jack Olsen lived from 1925-2002. He became an author who won numerous awards publishing thirty-three books, being a former Times bureau chief, and writing for a variety of magazines.

Others have compared Jack Olsen's writing of this book to Frank McCourt, Geoggrey Wolff, and David Sedaris. Yes, I have read these, but Jack Olsen's is more sincere and even has a little taste of Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Of all of these, unquestionably, Jack's personal voice is the best.

The Pitcher's Kid is an educational and enlightening journey to a past time that hopefully will never need to be repeated.

The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel
James Rollins
c/o Harper Collins Publisher
9780061785658, $9.99

What do these things have in common? The Mormon Church, Lewis and Clark, the mysterious death of Meriwether Lewis, Native Americans, The Founding Fathers of the United States, the disappearance of the Anasazi people, the Iroquois Nation, nano technology, Indian mounds, volcanoes, and the emblem of the United States? One thing, the book The Devil Colony.

When you live near the Rocky Mountains in Utah, naturally exploring by climbing and hiking is a frequent activity for many. Trent Walker and Charlie Reed decide to follow an old Indian map that was drawn on an old deer hide piece. The two are trying to find the landmarks on this faded fabric and attempt to compensate their map with erosion and weathering. The two had just finished high school and Charlie was planning on entering college in the fall while Trent plans to work locally.

The map belongs to Charlie's grandfather who is currently experiencing a taste of a traditional trip, or hallucinogenic. Only a few of the tribal elders even know that this map exists. This is a great opportunity for the two friends to finally explore and have an adventure before their lives change with their prospective futures.

The two are looking for a supposedly haunted cave which has some kind of a secret hidden treasure.

The two discovered the cave with mummified bodies. However, the bodies looked Caucasian, not Native American. Being shocked and uneasy, the two quickly begin to leave the cave when Trent slips and falls. Charlie continues to leave the cave. Trent is ready to yell for help when he hears voices outside the cave and then a gunshot. He chooses to hide further back into a tunnel in the cave. He hears something rolling into the cave. It is Charlie's body followed by his elderly grandfather who then puts a pistol to his own head and shoots himself.

This is only the beginning of an enthralling interwoven action-adventure tale, intermixing legends with real events. The tale combines many of the characters from Rollins' previous novels in combining all these themes through places around the world.

Compared to Rollins' previous novels, this one is the best with the intermixing of the past and the present with reality and legend. Also, the reader certainly enjoys the opportunity to be reacquainted with many of the characters from previous novels as they continue with their every day challenges while still trying to stop the Guild from its ultimate desire of world power.

Also, after the conclusion of The Devil Colony, there is a short story, "The Skeleton Key" which explains what happened to Seichan prior to her entering the story in The Devil Colony.

The Devil Colony will not disappoint any Rollins fan. I would not recommend this as a first Rollins novel as many of the characters are from previous novels. However, for me, The Devil Colony was another wonderful and educational adventure with the fictional Sigma Force in a great novel by James Rollins.

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane
Amy Elizabeth Smith
Sourcebooks, Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402265853, $14.99,

How many of you are Jane Austen fans? Do you realize that there are international book clubs for discussing Jane Austen books? What have I been missing all these years?

Literature professor, Amy Smith decided to take her love of Jane Austen books on the road to discuss the books with people in Central and South America. Even though the books would be translated into Spanish, she wanted to record people's reactions and thoughts to the Jane Austen books that were written about two-hundred years ago. Would people feel the same way about the author and the books as those who have read the books in this country? Also, would Amy find love in one of these exotic far-away places? (even though this is not mentioned in her agenda, but is fairly obvious.)

All Roads Lead to Austen is somewhat a travel-log of Amy Smith as she meets with people in Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina to discuss books such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey. (Yes, I have read these books but have chosen not to make them a guide to my everyday life.)

Who is this book for? I would definitely say Jane Austen fans and also women who tend to favor romance novels. I chose to read it because I wanted to see her view of these people from the various countries and her triumphs and disasters in traveling to these places.

All Roads Lead to Austen is delightful even when the author comes down with dengue fever while also discovering the people and the books of these varied cultures. Also, she began this journey with a very limited Spanish vocabulary. I saw this book as a possible, "How to survive in Central and South America without knowing the language." For those of us who discuss the possibility of traveling to these areas, I thoroughly gained through her experiences, both positive and negative.

This non-fiction book is easy to read and well-organized. I would suggest that minimally the reader have some sense of the Jane Austen books even if it is just watching the movie, "Emma" before reading this book. It greatly helps to know the topic and to view the places then as the variables, just like a science experiment.

I enjoyed the book but was a little disappointed as it turned into a romance novel. The book is well-written and enthralling as the author immerses herself into the culture of each distinct country.

Graeme Kent
Soho Crime
c/o Soho Press
853 Broadway New York, NY 10003
9781616950606, $14.00,

Many times it is better to read about another place and time than to actually experience it yourself. That sums up my feeling in the Graeme Kent novel Devil-Devil.

Devil-Devil takes place in the 1960s in the Solomon Islands. Two unlikely characters, Sister Conchita, an American nun, who has just arrived on the islands and Ben Kella, who is a sergeant in the Solomon Island Police Force join together to solve the problems, crime, and mysteries of the area.

Sister Conchita attempts to bury a skeleton that was recently discovered. Since the skeleton is of a tall man, there is an assumption that this could be the missing white man from years ago. She wishes to bury it to prevent further problems regarding ethnicity and race. Sister Conchita strongly has her own way of doing things and does what she believes is the right thing to do, even if it is against the wishes of the local priest.

Being that Ben was born on the islands and has lived there all his life, he brings an insight into the white police force that is unusual for this time. Also Ben is an aofia which is a hereditary spiritual peacekeeper of his native Lau people. Pleasing the local police department and his people seems to be impossible since both seem to want opposite things in almost all matters. The police somewhat accept the customs of the people, but they do not always agree with it.

Devil-Devil thoroughly immerses the reader into the culture of the 1960s on the Solomon Islands. As the people transition from their tribal customs to the white man way, life is not always smooth or easily explained. With Ben being both with the police and the people, he is viewed frequently with mistrust rather than acceptance in his dual role. Even though it is a little difficult at first to get into the rhythm of the writing, it is well worth the journey.

Also, being that Guadalcanal is located on the Solomon Islands, this place was involved during World War II and was frequently occupied, invaded, and defended. The influence of both sides on the people who were native to this chain of artificial islands greatly affected their futures as well as their cultures.

Devil-Devil is the first book in this series featuring the unlikely team of Sister Conchita and Sergeant Kella. The next book, One Blood, has also recently been published.

Graeme Kent has taught in the primary schools in the UK, has spent years as Head of School broadcasting in the Solomon Islands, and is currently working as an Educational Broadcasting Consultant for the South Pacific Commission while also writing.

Devil-Devil is a wonderful book to read of a time and place that I never plan to visit except through this experience created by author Graeme Kent.

Will McIntosh
Night Shade Books
1661 Tennessee Street, #3H
San Francisco, CA 94107
9781597803359, $24.99,

Sometimes life is just not fair. Finn Darby is finally beginning to get his life back on track. As a child, his twin sister drowned. The two were competitive and she chose to swim at night due to a dare from him. His grandparents and mother raised him However, his grandfather always made it clear that he was not the favored twin. Added to that, Finn's wife died two years ago in a freak accident where she was struck with lightning on a river bank.

Finn's grandfather had successfully created a syndicated comic strip, Toy Shop. After years, the popularity of the strip was beginning to fail. With the death of his grandfather, Finn let the comic strip die but after awhile and with his wife's encouragement, revitalized it, adding new characters while reigniting interest with success that the old strip could never had imagined.

When Atlanta, Georgia is struck with a terrorist attack, life changes for Finn. He is beginning to believe that he is possessed by his hateful grandfather. As people die from this anthrax attack, Finn discovers how mad his grandfather is at him for changing the comic strip. Who do you go to for help if you believed you are possessed?

At first, Finn finds medical help but he is not alone. It appears that with half-a-million people dying within such a small area, this created conditions of souls who are not wanting to die. These souls have unfinished business and tend to inhabit the bodies of those who they resented. The term for these souls inside a formerly normal human, is "hitcher.."

Hitchers is an enthralling thriller. This is one of those books that pulls you into it and does not release your mind, (This is similar to possessing.) The characters are well-developed within the logically gripping tale. The story is interwoven with the guilt from his sister's death, his wife's death, and dealing with the difficult and self-centered grandfather. The contrasted feelings of Finn are superbly displayed when his dead wife shares the body of the waitress who she had berated shortly before her death. As Finn develops a strong relationship with Summer, he is also feeling guilty about Lorena, his wife, and his unresolved feelings for her, both in one body.

Will McIntosh has won a Hugo Award and was a finalist for the Nebula Award. This native New Yorker now is a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University.

Hitchers is a gripping tale thoroughly possessing your mind. Read this haunting tale.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

Catch Me
Lisa Gardner
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525952763, $26.95,

D.D. Warren, the Boston homicide detective featured in this widely-read series, faces two challenges in this latest installment: a new baby boy who keeps her and her boyfriend, Alex, up through the night and, now that she's back from maternity leave, a complex mystery surrounding a young woman who approaches her with the admonition that she expects to be murdered four days hence and she hopes D.D. will handle the investigation. What to do? How can you undertake the investigation of a murder that hasn't even taken place yet?

The prospective victim's name is Charlene, known as Charlie throughout. She's spent the past year in training: running, boxing, and learning to shoot in anticipation of the big event. It seems her two best friends were strangled on January 21 in each of the previous two years, and logic dictates that it's now Charlie's turn.

The plot traces the next days and the events that take place, which demonstrate D.D.'s evolving character change brought about by her domestic developments and Charlie's preparations to meet her expected fate. An interesting aside within the sub-plot, which addresses murders of pedophiles, involves a young boy lured into a potential sex act by the user of an internet game appealing to youngsters. The author uses the technique to tell the story by alternating third person p.o.v. to relate D.D.'s activities, and first person describing Charlie's.

Not a thrill a page, perhaps, but certainly an excellent thriller, and recommended.

Night Rounds
Helene Tursten, Translated by Laura A. Wideburg
Soho Crime
c/o Soho Press
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616950064, $25.00,

It's taken a long time for this 1999 novel to cross the ocean, but the wait has been worthwhile. It is part of a series in which the protagonist is Inspector Irene Huss, a former Jiu-Jitsu champion, and is a Swedish police procedural. The action takes place in a private hospital specializing in surgery in Goteborg.

One night around midnight an elderly nurse sees what she believes is the ghost of a nurse who had committed suicide in the hospital's attic 50 years before. It is up to Huss and her colleagues to sift through the situation after the discovery of one nurse who has been murdered nurse and another who is missing. Complicating their efforts, of course, is the elimination of additional witnesses, presumably at the hands of the "ghost" murderer.

Huss is an interesting protagonist, married to a gourmet chef and the mother of twin teenage daughters. Insights into her character and family situation throughout the novel add significantly to humanizing her. In an excellent translation, the story flows smoothly, incrementally adding to the reader's knowledge until it all coalesces in the final pages.


The Prophet
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316122610, $25.99,

Although football is a main topic throughout this novel, in this small Ohio town (dominated, it seems, by the high school team) it is anything but a game. Typical of many rust belt areas, when the steel plants closed the population dwindled. But life goes on, especially for two estranged brothers, both of whom played for the Cardinals in their youth: Adam Austin, a fullback who was on the last championship eleven, and Kent, who starred as a quarterback after Adam's graduation, and is now the head coach.

Their subsequent lives have been dominated by an unfortunate occurrence one night when Adam was preoccupied with his girlfriend and Austin couldn't leave his football duties to accompany their sister, Marie, home from school. It was Adam's responsibility, and she never made it home. At some point after she went missing the family learned that she had been murdered. Neither brother forgave himself, especially Adam, who maintains the boyhood home with Marie's room as a shrine. When the culprit is finally captured on a fluke in Cleveland and sentenced to prison time, Kent visits with him in jail and tells him he forgives him, an act which Adam hardly condones.

Thus, the stage is set for a repeat performance when the girlfriend of the star receiver for Coach Kent's team asks Adam to locate an address for her father who apparently has just been released from prison. Adam gets an address and the girl goes there, only to be brutally murdered. It turns out that Kent had recommended Adam, who has a PI license, to the boy, who had passed along the information to the girl. Each of the brothers feels responsibility, leading to a series of events through which they seek to redeem themselves for present and past actions.

The author has written a suspenseful crime story based on good and evil, selfless acts, and atonement of sins. At no point does the reader know what will happen next, even when it is on the one yard line with goal to go.

Highly recommended.

Stay Close
Harlan Coben
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525952275, $27.95,

Gambling was supposed to be the salvation for the downtrodden Atlantic City, but has proved to be anything else. Once you leave the glitz of the casino environment, the resort city is pretty well the rundown area that it was before the old and new hotels were converted to wagering meccas. So it is fitting that Atlantic City is the setting for this novel which, we presume, reaches for the jackpot, but comes up a little short.

It is a murder crime tale united by the past histories of three main characters, two of whom remain in Atlantic City and one, a lap dancer turned suburban mom, escapes for 17 years. What reunites them and brings the plot to a boil is her sudden return on a whim to the resort, resurrecting a murder that took place just before she ran away.

While the basic plot revolves around a police investigation into the murder (and subsequent ones), the author schmaltzes it up with a side love story, as well as a narrative of mother love and duties. Somehow, it all does not really fit together. Oh, Myron Bolitar, where were you when we needed you?

Force of Nature
C.J. Box
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399158261, $25.95,

While nominally a Joe Pickett novel, the newest entry in this series is all about outlaw Nate Romanowski, finally bringing readers up to snuff on what makes him tick. Right off the bat, Nate is attacked by three locals, one firing an arrow into his shoulder, but he shoots and kills them all. He learns that he is being sought by his old Special Forces commander, and one by one all his potential allies are being murdered. Certainly his past is catching up to Nate.

The plot is the challenge of one or the other of them killing his nemesis, and the story progresses along the highways and mountains of Wyoming, which the author, as always, conveys with realism and fervor. While the law seeks Nate in connection with the three murdered men, he travels widely in an effort to protect those he cares about, especially the Pickett family.

The reason Nate is being targeted is something he witnessed many years before while on assignment in Pakistan. His fellow Special Forces member and commander is now afraid that a prior, dastardly act that might now be divulged could harm his chances at a big government contract. It is the reason Nate has been hiding all these years. Frankly, I thought the act was a bit too much and way far out. But despite that, the novel is well worth reading, and is recommended.

Cooking the Books
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589823, $24.95,

Corinna Chapman, the less-than-svelte baker of bread, in this latest chapter in a long-running series, is supposedly on vacation (with Heavenly Delights closed as her apprentice is away learning how to surf) when she is "blackmailed" into helping out a school chum cater the film set of a TV pilot. Meanwhile, Daniel, her Israeli private detective lover, is preoccupied on a case involving a young girl who has lost $1 million of bearer bonds.

So the stage is set for each of them to solve a number of mysteries, including who is tampering with the star's food creating turmoil on the set. Since the title of the pilot is "Kiss the Bride," it is fitting that much of the novel reflects the soap opera-ish aspect of the simultaneous stories, especially the use of nursery rhymes as clues to the discovery of the location of the missing bonds.

Ms Chapman is a delightful character and has fulfilled the role many times. The plot presents the reader with enough alternatives to maintain interest, and the writing, as usual, is excellent. Whether the denouement is acceptable is the only question in this reader's mind, since it unfolds quickly and seems contrived to bring the episode to an end. But in total, it is an enjoyable read, and is recommended.

Liar Moon
Ben Pastor
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London W11 2LS
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 W. 108th St., NY, NY 10025
9781904738824, $14.95,

One of crime fiction's more unusual protagonists is Baron Martin Bora, a German Army Major during World War II. In a previous [debut] novel, "Lumen," Bora served in Spain, Poland and at Stalingrad, where he gained some distinction for solving a murder. This novel takes place in 1943 just as the Italian government switched sides, but the Nazi troops still controlled the north.

As the novel opens, Bora is in a hospital after his troops were attacked by partisans; he loses his left hand and shrapnel is embedded in his leg, leaving him in pain for the rest of the book. Parenthetically, this reader wondered how he was not sent home after being so badly injured. In any event, when he returns to his duties, his superior foists on him an investigation into the murder of a fascist leader. His inquiries take place in conjunction with those of a local inspector, who in turn is seeking a serial killer.

While the description of the investigation and activities against the partisans are skillfully drawn, more important is the author's portrayal of the individual characters, especially Bora, who apparently scrupulously undermines efforts to transport Jews to concentration camps. To say the least, the characters are quite original, Bora a droll creation, highly intelligent.


Blue Monday
Nicci French
Pamela Dorman Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670023363, $26.95,

This novel, whose protagonist, Frieda Klein, is a psychotherapist, is promised to be the first of a new series of psychological thrillers authored by this husband-and-wife team. It has the makings of an interesting work, but it seems to me that Frieda, whose profession is helping other people to cope with life, needs a lot of help herself, which makes for a lot of ambiguity and confusion.

At the heart of the plot is the disappearance of two children a couple of decades apart, and somehow Frieda, while treating a patient, divines clues to help the police solve the two kidnappings. Of course, the idea seems to be based on solid psychology principles, but appears to be contrived.

Maybe the plot is too complex and Frieda a too-complicated personality for the reader to sustain undivided interest. On the other hand, it is interesting and one hopes another effort will be more rewarding.

The Leopard
Jo Nesbo, Translated by Don Bartlett
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307743183, $14.95,

The latest Harry Hole novel published in the US presents the reader with a formidable challenge: On the one hand, the temptation is to try to read this tautly written, tightly plotted murder mystery in a single sitting. On the other hand, its 611 pages is undoubtedly a very large hurdle. Whatever the method, it's well worth the effort to read it no matter how long it takes.

After the travails he suffered at the conclusion of "The Snowman,", Harry was so down that he resigned from the police force and traveled to the Far East, where he loses himself in alcohol, opium and gambling. There, a female detective from Norway finds him, pays off his gambling debts, tells him his father is in the hospital dying and he, as the only officer with experience solving serial murders, is wanted back in Oslo to help in what appears to be another multiple homicide case. At first he is reluctant, but finally accedes to the request to return because of his dad.

Still refusing to rejoin the crime squad, Harry finally gives in when a third victim, a member of parliament, is killed. There are no clues and no common links between the victims until Harry discovers all three spent a night in an isolated mountain cabin together, and it becomes apparent that the "guests" are being picked off one by one.

From that point, the case slowly unfolds somewhat murkily to keep the reader in the dark as to the ultimate denouement. Sometimes, Harry's insights are prophetic, others off base. But he always has his eye on the main purpose: to catch the bad guy. At the same time, he is fighting his personal demons, his separation from the great love of his life, his relationship with his dying father, the politics of the competition between elements of the department as to responsibility for murder investigations, and his disillusionment with his role as a cop. More than enough, one must say, for one man.

Highly recommended.

Lehrter Station
David Downing
Soho Crime
c/o Soho Press
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
97816169950750, $25.00,

Five months after the fall of Berlin, this chronicle of the adventures of John Russell, the Anglo-American journalist, and his paramour, Efffi Koene, the actress, continues. Four previous "Station" novels carried them through the pre-war years in Berlin to Russell's escape to England. Now, his former Russian spymaster sort of blackmails him into returning to Berlin as a spy for both the Reds and the Americans. To sugarcoat the request, Effi is offered a starring role in a soon-to-be-made motion picture.

The couple return to a devastated city, where the only rate of exchange seems to be cigarettes and sex. No food, housing or other essentials, but a thriving black market. The story continues with the history of the immediate post-war, including the beginnings of the Cold War and the plight of surviving Jews, with the British reluctance to allow emigration to Palestine and the Zionists' attempt to get around the roadblocks.

The series is more than just run-of-the-mill espionage stories, but a reflection of the time and people in an era of mass murder and terrible war and its aftermath. The descriptions of the rubble that was Berlin after the Allied bombings and the Russian rape (it is said that there were as many as 80,000) is terrifying. And the depiction of the duplicity of the U.S. and Soviet intelligence agencies is despicable, especially when they overlooked Nazi backgrounds when they served a purpose. Presumably, there is room for a new effort in the series, and we look forward to it.


Showdown at Chigger Flats
Robert Fate
Kindle Edition
Amazon Digital Publishing
B008MO6Q61, $3.99 e-book,

[This novel is presently only available as an e-book for Kindle]

Violence, thy name is Kristin Van Dijk, better known as Baby Shark.

No sooner than this fifth novel in the series opens than we find the bodies of two dead men, courtesy of Baby Shark. Of course, it was understandable: she was protecting her partner, private eye Otis Millett, as the two men were gunning to kill him. Then the plot thickens and the bodies begin to pile up.

Ten years before, Otis sent Walter Fairchild away for a long prison sentence. Now, a decade later, Fairchild escapes and embarks on a campaign of revenge against everyone who had a hand in convicting him: the judge, prosecutor, jury - - even the D.A.'s secretary. After two additional failed attempts to murder Otis, Walter uses a little guile, luring him into a successful kidnapping, bringing him to his fortress in West Texas.

Baby Shark, together with one of Otis' girlfriends and Henry Chin, sets out to rescue Otis, and they are joined by a Deputy Marshall who seems destined to play a role in future Baby Shark adventures. And the action begins. And then continues non-stop, along with shooting and other forms of violence. There's never a dull moment, and the reading is swift, the colorful characters matched by witty dialogue.


[It should perhaps be noted that we are famously, or infamously, known as Luddites, only reading/reviewing 'traditionally' published books. This book was an exception: The author's previous four books, published in paperback format, were all terrific reads. Unfortunately, that publisher is no longer extant, thus the e-book format, and the author was kind enough to provide us with a printed version of the new book.]

Theodore Feit

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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