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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 12 December 2009 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Chris' Bookshelf Christina Johns' Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf
Daniel's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf Erica's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Georganna's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Hassler's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Janie's Bookshelf Jennifer's Bookshelf
Jessica's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Liana's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Regis' Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Suzie's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf Victoria's Bookshelf
Whispering Winds Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Project Multiscam: Channeling Jesus' Beloved Disciple
William Harwood
BookSurge Publishing
7290B Investment Drive, North Charleston, SC 29418
9781439247310 $15.99

G. Richard Bozarth

Project Multiscam was originally intended to be a hoax that would be revealed after one of the publishers of paranormal books put it in bookstores and believers gobbled it up. The purpose, Harwood explains in the afterword, "was to prove that believers in supernatural, metaphysical, paranormal and other pseudoscientific delusions have no more ability to recognize when they are being conned than" believers in all that nonsense who have already been exposed as gullible marks. None of the publishers accepted the book because by endorsing "all currently fashionable delusions, I alienated believers in any one of them." So now he is publishing it without guile as a fantasy novel that tells a very famous story in a different way to entertain and also provoke thought. It accomplishes both missions.

The famous story is the career and death of Jesus the Messiah as told by his most beloved disciple, Nathanael bar Tholomew (erroneously called Bartholomew in the New Testament's gospels). That places the novel in the subgenre of fiction that specializes in telling famous stories in the disguise of being the account of the true events that inspired the myths that became the best-known versions of the stories. One of the most famous examples of this subgenre is Jesus Christ Superstar, which is a true-events version of the same story used by Multiscam. Harwood put in his novel a lot of what he believes are the actual historical events that believers evolved into the myths told in the New Testament, but warns the reader that Multiscam is not intended to represent "my beliefs about what did happen, may have happened, or could have happened." Harwood refers a reader curious about those beliefs to his Uncle Yeshu, Messiah.

Nathanael is telling his tale to Archimedes Fenton under hypnosis in 1989, so it comes in the form of a recovered past-life memory that reveals the young man is actually the reincarnation of the Beloved Disciple. He has been disincarnate since his death sometime after Jesus was crucified and has been reincarnated now so he will be alive when Jesus, who also has been disincarnate all this time, is reincarnated in 1997 to try again to save humans, who now are on the verge of extinction by a human-caused environmental catastrophe. Although Jesus is not the son of the god in charge of Earth, he is a highly valued servant. That is why Jesus the Messiah is the reincarnation of Jesus the Righteous Rabbi, who had lived about 100 years earlier and had been executed. As JRR he founded the cult of Qumran Saints, a group of "celibates who despised and detested women." During his JTM incarnation he founds the Ebionite cult, the Commune of the Poor, which is dedicated to celibacy and poverty. This is the Jewish cult that evolved into Christianity.

In Multiscam the god in charge of Earth is called Allah and he's not a supreme supernatural entity. He's one of many god-level beings who do seem omnipotent compared to humans, but in fact their powers are limited by the natural laws of physics and logic. He's served by angels who are called Barnardians because their home is the third planet in the solar system orbiting Barnard's star, 6 light-years from Earth. They are previously flesh-and-blood beings that had spent 9 billion years evolving into angels (another 6 billion years and they will evolve into gods). They had been living on Earth before relocating to Barnard 3 when Atlantis sank 12,000 years ago. Allah's commander also resides on Barnard 3 and this more power entity is in charge of the "quadrant" that includes Barnard 3 and Earth. Those who know will recognize this as similar to the theology of Latter-day Saints.

Multiscam has many entertaining and thought-provoking variations of numerous myths and beliefs. The best example is one that was elevated to international fame by The Da Vinci Code. In Christian mythology Mary Magdalene has been established as a reformed whore. In the intriguing radical mythology Dan Brown exploited for his incredibly successful novel MM is the wife of Jesus and had children with him. Multiscam cleverly uses both myths. Harwood's MM is a prostitute, but not the commercial kind. She was a nun at the temple of Magdala and engaged in sacred prostitution, which once was common in the Mediterranean cultural region. When she joined Jesus' cult, she vowed to be celibate and became Jesus' spiritual wife. The rumor that they are actually a sexual couple and Nathanael is their son is described as a slander put into circulation by Jews who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah to discredit him. I'm sure if Harwood had explored the family tree of the originator of the slander, he would have found that Karl Rove is one of his direct descendants.

Multiscam, because of its original purpose, is a fascinating Theory of Everything Paranormal. All sorts of paranormal beliefs are explained in ways that make them fit perfectly in the novel's fantasyland. There doesn't seem to be anything left out. Humans are really souls, thus are "photonic" beings that eventually will evolve into angels and ultimately into gods. A person's body obviously is only a kind of vehicle the person operates during an incarnation. When souls are disincarnate, they can speak through mediums. The Wandering Jew myth was created by disincarnate Nathanael speaking through mediums while waiting to be reincarnated again. How palmistry and astrology really work is revealed. This is entertaining for nonbelievers, but obviously too much for paranormal believers to comfortably endure.

Atheists, Freethinkers, and Secular Humanists will appreciate most the thought-provoking parts of the novel. When discussing the nature of sin, Nathanael gives examples of sins that every member of the Freethought Movement will agree with. "Executing murderers who could be as effectively neutralized by incarceration is a sin. Using physical force to punish 'victimless sin' is a sin. Making your planet uninhabitable for future generations is a sin. Abridging freedom of speech, including freedom to publish that which some find offensive, is a sin. And refusing to grant equal treatment to a person of a different sex, color, religion, language, philosophy or sexual orientation is a sin." None of these "sins" are condemned as sins in the Bible, which is one of the major reasons why Judaism and Christianity have been atrocious religions. The reason why they are not as atrocious as they used to be is because the secularization of Western culture that began with the Enlightenment gained enough cultural power to compel the theological melioration of most of the two religions' sects. Now millions of Christians and Jews understand that the above "sins" should have been condemned as sins in their holy scriptures.

Multiscam offers an intriguing version of the Lord's Prayer: "Our father in the sky, whose name is taboo, may your theocracy be established. May you whims be gratified on the land as in the sky. Give us today the food we need for tomorrow. Forgive us the injuries we do, as we forgive those who injure us. Do not encourage us to be defiant. Rather, liberate us from that which is intolerable." This is one of the parts that are not products of Harwood's imagination. It is nearly identical to the translation of the Lord's Prayer Harwood gives in "The Q Gospel" of his The Fully Translated Bible, which is intended to be the most literal translation of the Bible so far published. This is a better translation for today. For example, now that "heaven" has evolved until it seems to mean a place more like an alternate supernatural dimension instead of a material place in the universe, "sky" is the truer translation. When the Lord's Prayer was written, Christians and Jews believed the universe was a very small place, the sky was a physical dome over a flat Earth, and heaven was a physical place that was a kind of second layer of sky where an anthropomorphous supreme supernatural entity lived and looked down on Earth to watch sparrows fall and whatever else was going on.

In Multiscam the Golden Rule is "Do not do to another that which is hateful to yourself". In the real world this is sometimes called the Silver Rule. Readers of Harwood know he has often criticized the Golden Rule as being unrealistic and recommends the Silver Rule because it is realistic. Nathanael explains it this way: "It was taught by his Lordship [Jesus], and before him it was taught by Zoroaster, Confucius and Hillel. It is not a mere ideal, worthy of admiration but impossible to observe. Every single human being on this planet is capable of avoiding behavior that would do to others what he would not have done to himself." (That is true, but not pragmatically true. For example, how many managers have had to downsize people under them even though they would profoundly hate being downsized? To cite the Silver Rule and refuse to do it will not score brownie points with their managers and most likely will result in them being downsized and replaced by managers who are willing to do to others what they would hate if it was done to them.) Nathanael explains the origin of the New Testament's Golden Rule ("Do to others what you would have them do to you") as deliberate rephrasing by "his Lordship's third Greek biographer" (called Luke in the New Testament) because he "thought he could improve on what was already perfect."

Project Multiscam is definitely worth the time spent reading it. It is an enjoyable fantasy that has a lot of serious content that will appeal especially to Atheists, Freethinkers, and Secular Humanists. If nothing else, Harwood has provided more proof that, because they have entertainment value, religious myths and paranormal pseudoscience are not entirely useless.

Night Watch, Book 1 of the Watch Series
Sergei Lukyanenko
Hyperion, Miramax
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298
9781401359799 $13.95

Brittany Frick

The book Night Watch contains 3 stories, set in modern-day Moscow, Russia. These stories have different events that happen to the main character; Anton Gorodetsky. Anton is a computer specialist for a secret organization called the Night Watch. The Night Watch is made up of light ones, like Anton, who patrol at night, and keep an eye on the dark ones. Anton has to keep the dark ones and the Day Watch (a secret organization that patrols during the day; only dark ones are agents) away from a powerful sorceress that doesn't know she has any powers. Unwittingly Anton falls in love with the sorceress, and will not stand for the Watches to choose her destiny for her.

If you are not familiar with Russian names and how they change forms, you will be a little confused. The confusion is caused by consonants changing, endings but on to a name, and different forms of that name. Before you decide who is saying something, or who someone is talking to, you have to learn the way they speak, or the way the answering person speaks. For example in chapter 2 of story 2, Svetlana is talking to Olga and she says "Olya?". It is confusing but they are the same person. Also beware of people with many names, or people with names that are closely spelled, they may be different people. Like Igor and Egor. Igor works for the Night Watch while Egor is a magician who doesn't know if he will be dark or light. The characters all have very different personalities. Some have strong personalities and others have weak personalities but they are all different. The way that the characters respond to situations and settings usually differ with the character. The situations are mainly nonrealistic but some can truly happen.

This is the first book in a series of four; Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, and Last Watch. I recommend that you read Night Watch first, in order to understand the rest of the books. The name changes annoyed me at first because I didn't get the point of it until I read that Russian names change very often. I also thought that Night Watch was an altogether good book. I suggest that you look up the Russian name changes, so you won't be confused. The confusion will be gone at the end of the book, it was for me, so don't worry too much over it. My final judgment of the book Night Watch is that it is confusing at times but that seems to work itself out in the end, so you know what has just happened.

Liberty, Equality Consensus and All That Jazz at the Del Rio Bar
Ernie Harburg with Eve Silberman and Larry Behnke
Huron River Press
308 1/2 South State Street, Suite 30, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
9781932399233 $17.95

Paul Buhle

It is easy for outsiders to misunderstand the peculiar role of the friendly, progressive-minded tavern in the social and political life of a left-leaning American town. But that is mostly because memory is short and discontinuous between generations. The German-American beer garden of the later nineteenth century could easily be described as the fount of "free thought," combining lively avant-garde theater, labor union strategy-sessions and generalized affability that protected inhabitants from a less sympathetic, often antipathetic world outside the tavern doors. These were family places, notwithstanding the cigar smoke, and children grew up within the culture, taking a sip and not binging as later generations fresh to college and away from home.

Later on, the neighborhood hall that doubled as bar for one ethnic group or another was to provide the logistical space and often the food for the organizing of industrial unions. Here, police and company thugs were somewhat reluctant to invade with clubs flying. As late as the 1980s, remnants could be found, like the Croatian Halls with Friday Fish Fries, occasional tamburiza bands (and often, a neglected library room with an oil portrait of Karl Marx). It was, in all, a history of cooperation, good feeling and sentiment at the opposite end of the political spectrum from the VFW dive.

Just when it seemed these kinds of places were gone for good, the 1960s counter-culture brought a new generation of them back to life, in places where antiwar and antiracist sentiment flourished: Berkeley, Madison, Eugene, Austin, Santa Cruz and Burlington, Vermont, just to name a few. The Del Rio is one of these, but like any institution, it has its own unique history.

Ernie Harburg, son of the great lyricist "Yip" Harburg ("Brother Can You Spare a Dime"; "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "It's Only a Paper Moon," etc) and a research scientist at the University of Michigan, was the key player here. In 1969, when Ann Arbor was badly divided between its campus neighborhood and a rough blue collar section, he bought up an old, beaten-up spot, opening in 1970. It was a rough first few years.

Like every counter-culture operation, the new managers had to learn how to keep accurate books, pay taxes and, in this case, keep the police from closing the place by holding off the under-age drinkers. They, or most of these businesses, operated on the basis of something like consensus among the owners and employees, something made more difficult by the free-floating pot. On the plus side, the staff learned to move troublemakers outside without the help of a bemuscled bouncer. Usually, they only had to direct a mean, collective stare (shades of The Men Who Stared at Goats!).

Oldtimers from the bar's predecessor either got used to the change or moved on. In the following years, a crowd of regulars devoted in their own way to the memories of the 1960s and the efforts to advance further, then hold off Reaganism later on, stuck together, ate good fresh food together, and drank together. They also worked hard to improve the surrounding neighborhood, helping to attract pedestrians to bookshop or art gallery or upscale restaurant.

That last point was a rather touchy one. Every successful hippie scene in any of the above-mentioned cities saw yuppies flow in with open wallets, aging hipsters wince, and a changing ambience that could not be denied.

The crisis point for nearly all coops or semi-coops is the issue of charismatic leadership. Only someone totally committed can carry on, maintain the atmosphere, but others never quite feel an equal among equal. Then the leader-person gets resentful. And of course, grows older, sometimes with family responsibilities growing. In a deeper sense, the belief that a better, more cooperative world is coming through small-scale activities turned out to be ever-more difficult to maintain. Some of the best people never got over the disappointment (just as happened to earlier generations of radicals); others grew cynical and even greedy or just wanted to live a little better from a lot of hard work.

The Del Rio persevered, into the twenty-first century, and that is a remarkable thing. The particular conditions under which it finally expired are less important than the endurance. Nothing lasts forever. The Del Rio kept going a long time.

Emily/Out of my Mother's Darkness
Janie Lancaster
Star Publish
9781935188032, $13.95,

Dore E. Frances, M.A. (Therapeutic Consultant, Horizon Family Solutions)

Great book. Powerful writing. Haunting words. I have read many books about abuse. This one really focuses on the truly dark secrets and the struggles that continued to cling for a very long time.

Skunk Stew
Helen Parramore
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
0595476716 $15.95

Steve Glassman, Reviewer

The children of artists bear special burdens. Faulkner, in a burst of rage, told his only child that no one remembered Shakespeare's daughter. All this seems a small, albeit unfairly, paid price for great art. In the memoir Skunk Stew by Helen Parramore we find that the special burden, like a unique type of original sin, extends to families of unsung artists too. Helen Parramore was born in 1930 of a bohemian mother. After a brief fling with family life her mother abandoned her children and husband, a devout Irish Catholic. She worked an artistic scam painting meeting-hall curtains in New England, sometimes selling more advertisements than would fit on the curtains. The father, unmanned and unhinged, began musing aloud about paradise. He roamed the apartment at night, butcher knife in hand, finally electing to cut only his own throat. The mother, now stuck with the kids, moved them into a shack for which she paid five dollars, no plumbing, no lights, water from a nearby lake. This chapter in their lives ended when the famous Long Island Express Hurricane destroyed the shack and the forest and the kids, lucky to escape alive, were let out to various agencies or family members. The story picks up ten years later in Florida and goes on for another fifty years, the real battle between a mother more interested in her art than her children and grandchildren, and her daughter fighting - and ultimately losing - the battle to achieve a kind of family rapport. This book is about dealing with traumatic stress syndrome and trauma amnesia which occurred as a result of living and coping with an unstable and dangerous family. Skunk Stew is a fine, exquisitely told tale, Everywoman's version of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Haunted: The Ghost on the Stairs
Haunted: The Riverboat Phantom
Chris Eboch
Kids Simon and Schuster
Aladdin Imprint
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NYC NY 10020
9781416975489 (Ghost) 9781416975496 (Riverboat) $7.99 each

Connie Gotsch, Reviewer

Jon's a typical 13 year-old, annoyed when his mother loves on him, wary of Bruce, his new step father, and not quite enjoying this summer of traveling the country with the ghost-busting TV show that his mother produces.

His sister, Tania is a typical 11 year-old pain, giggly and over dramatic. Actually, she's a nice pain, and he loves and protects her, patiently explaining the world, a la their scientist father, whom both kids miss a lot.

Then Tania announces she can see ghosts. Jon has no response to that. Is she putting him on? Is her imagination in over drive? Has she gone crazy? Or is she telling the truth?

The fun of Chris Eboch's Haunted series begins. Tania decides to accept her psychic abilities as a gift. Jon isn't sure what to think, so he keeps an open mind, especially when rooms turn cold, Tania collapses for no apparent reason, and he feels an unexplainable chill or two himself.

Tania elects to tell no one what she sees. Jon supports her. As she deals with the ghosts that come to her, she and Jon hatch plans to avoid snoopy Mom, curious Bruce, Mean Mick a member of the TV crew who doesn't like kids, and Madam Natasha, the actress who fakes being a psychic.

The first volume "The Ghost on the Stairs," introduces a bride who haunts a hotel looking for the husband who vanished right after the wedding. The second ""The Riverboat Phantom" presents a steamboat pilot who lost his concentration, ran aground and killed several passengers. Now he must haunt the pilot house until he can make amends for his mistake.

Around the ghost stories, Eboch weaves river lore, Mark Twain, tidbits concerning steamboat operation, and morals, manners, and customs of late 19th Century America that could just entice someone to pick up "Tom Sawyer," or go learn something about mining towns.

Eboch has a nice writing style, and she crafts her stories well, carefully building suspense, showing her action, and setting scene. She discusses various theories of what ghosts might be and ghost hunting, without drawing conclusions as to whether or not they exist.

Each book stands alone. Family dynamics and history come out clearly, though Mean Mick and Madame Natasha are a lot easier to picture in "The Ghost on the Stairs" than in "The Riverboat Phantom." Ms. Eboch might consider keeping character descriptions as strong as she keeps motivation across the volumes. She might also let her characters grow a bit from book to book. Bruce might move beyond the not-so-hot step father. Madame Natasha just has to go some time. Otherwise the relationships between people might get repetitious.

She plans to send Tania, Jon, and the TV show to New York next, to a museum that might or might not be haunted. If she mixes the history of one of America's oldest cities with her fantasy, and continues to let her characters develop, she'll probably have another fun filled story.

Moore's Mythopoeia
Christopher Wunderlee, author
Picaro Editions
PO Box 90145, New York, NY 10011
9780557115464 $22.95

Miyo Baird

Masterpiece is a term that should only be used if it's actually true, which is why I use it now: a masterpiece. This is rare and it should be. But, when it happens, it's like being on hand to see a meteorite strike the earth, and we feel compelled to report such a unique instance.

Christopher Wunderlee's seminal novel Moore's Mythopoeia is a tour de force. It is the most original, clever, intriguing, learned, comical work of fiction in 20 years, maybe more. It is a masterpiece because its language, its narration, its plot, its characters, and its ideas, all offer something new. Rarely do we find a book so original, one that can do so much with language, one that does things with language no one has ever thought of before. Here we have new adjectives and new verbs aplenty, as if forms in marble, waiting for a sculptor to reveal them. Imagine a short exchange of dialogue with multiple literary devices, some long ignored. Imagine descriptions beset with adjectives and adverbs that are new inventions. Many of us know what platonic infers or what Socratic may mean, but Wunderlee has given us "intolerably Byronic" and "Heraclitian" and "Vallaian", and the list goes on. Few pages don't have some new adjective or noun modifier for us to ponder.

Combine this wordplay with prose that at times borders on poetry, ("It is written over the dooryard, where the lilacs last bloomed, Böhme. I am here to read the bodies. E quant'uom più va su, e men fa male. A sea-span and a folded butler, a moaning gondolier, a brooding corpse sometimes passes by. The throaty voice lifting into the oriental sapphire walls, undiscouraged by the dying Magpies, plunging into the river"); an almost sadistic enjoyment in digression that has a parenthetical statement within a parenthetical statement within a parenthetical statement; metafiction layered upon metafiction; allusions, references, clues, symbols in profusion, many with triple and quadruple layers; and lines that taunt this genius.

And this mockery of itself is the magnus opus of the novel. The narration is realism thrown on its head. Some may say the book is hysterical realism or maximalism; the omnipotent, omniscient narrator of realism is absent. Instead, Wunderlee has given us something else. An other for a narrator. This narrator likes to poke fun, make jokes, at the reader's expense, but at the characters' as well. This narrator at one point loses a character in a confusing building (seemingly because it takes longer to describe the movement than it does to follow it), and can't seem to pronounce certain names properly (and therefore, has to be corrected by the character).

The narrative form is as much of a paradox as the plot, which is, as difficult to summarize and explain, save to say, it's beautifully refreshing because it is something new, never before seen. The best science fiction reinvents the genre. Moore's Mythopoeia crosses genres and its sci-fi elements (it takes place in the future) are reinventions.

Here you have a utopia, but it's only so because it's a pharmaceutical one. By law, everyone is on a drug prescription regimen to make them "tranquil". So, everyone is synthetically content. Aiding this drug-induced bliss, every citizen is guaranteed 15 minutes of fame (something not even Warhol would have imagined), and in line with this celebrity, society is partitioned into "lists". Just as one might read in a trashy tabloid about an "A-list star" or a "C-list ensemble cast", Wunderlee has made Plato's (and by extension Huxley's) myth of metals a popularity contest. You are an "A-lister", "B-lister", "C-lister", etc. based on criteria that is defined by your "brand". Everyone is considered a brand (if you step out of line, you're even rebranded), and therefore, everyone is for sale (they even sell their names, so you have characters named Ralph Cinn-Cola, Mary Jo Kronus Cable, Amelia Daio Motors, etc.).

Then, you have the merging of business and government. Forget the separation of church and state, Wunderlee (accurately) foresees our real dilemma, one currently significant as we see more and more privatization. In Moore's Mythopoeia, representatives are chosen not by popular vote, but by the annual revenue of their businesses. And in this way, government and private enterprise don't compete; they help each other, which supposedly makes things better. It's a transparent relationship, so transparent, representatives are required to wear jumpsuits with their corporate sponsors' logos proportionately sized and placed - think race car drivers standing around arguing policy.

All this would be enough to call the novel highly original, but Wunderlee has more, much more. In an incredible recounting of how they achieved this medicated utopia, he details probably the most hilarious history ever written. We learn of this from the novel's engrossing, absurd, beautifully defeated protagonist, Joseph Moore, who is stuck in a meaningless job, a C-lister, uncomfortably content.

But, for some reason, all the medication, all the propaganda doesn't work on Joseph. We meet him as he's falling from a bridge he's voluntarily jumped from, and mid-fall, all the sudden this guardian angel appears, which is when theology returns (religion has gone extinct in this world). A blonde (everyone else has brown hair), scantily dressed, seductive, Flower as she's called by Joseph, fills him in. All the old procedures are in place - everyone has a guardian angel, so when they need them, they appear. But with things going so well in the 'real' world, by creating a paradise, the other one, the 'unreal' one, has disappeared. So, spirits like Flower are left milling around, waiting, for like eons, which has made her quite the embittered little sprite (she "talks like a sailor").

Joseph, quite sure he's in love, since Flower is nothing like his wife of several years (Flower spends the greater part of their exchanges trying to convince him to have sex with her), determines to "save" her. The only way that can happen is if sin returns to the world (and thus, heaven reopens), so Joseph, who does not die from the fall (he can't, not in a perfect world), sets out to do just that, which sends the reader on an allegorical crusade of sorts (he uses Paradise Lost as his "guidebook").

Along the way, he hooks up with The Player's Rebellion, a group of writers of children's fiction who have been protesting the system by various innocuous terrorist attacks (they steal people's socks on a bus, deliver speeches in parks, etc.). Through the Rebellion, Joseph meets Elisa Greene, girlfriend of the leader, and a child of the most prestigious family in the world - the Green's. She's perfect, perfectly beautiful, perfectly intelligent, perfectly interesting, and everyone knows it. Her whole family is (again, a hilarious family chronology details just how wonderful this family truly is), from her brother Graham, who is the head of the family's firm GreenNet (an environmental firm that "solved" that pesky problem of extinction of "everything"), to her sister, who is happily married to a very successful patriarch from another A-list family.

But, Elisa takes her medication regimen in reverse, has a sordid, bondage-based relationship with the leader of the rebellion, Arthur Dodger, and is the family's black sheep. To her, the Rebellion is not doing enough.

Elisa's beauty, her sexuality, seems to be the only reason the Rebellion hasn't been busted. The lead government agent, Vincent Belacque, is a telepathic who has become obsessed with her. He leads a "Section" in charge of "women's services" who investigate and nominate women for "rebranding", i.e. essentially a freaky program in which they are arrested and taken away, only to return peaceful and content, with a new name (brand) and a new drug regimen (the reasoning for being "rebranded" can be as little as turning down a perfectly reasonable marriage proposal or working too much).

Dodger finds out Vincent is investigating Elisa and thus, the Rebellion, so he sends her to seduce the agent to find out what the government knows. Both Elisa and Vincent know who each other is (Vincent pretends to be an engineer), making for a strained relationship in which they are both trying to get information from one another and keep up pretenses, all the while, Vincent is actually in love with Elisa, and wants to "save" her.

To top things off, Elisa meets Joseph during a Rebellion meeting - she's tasked with convincing new recruits that they should join. In him, she sees a person trying to actually cause change, and she starts to fall for him. But, he is on a mission. He becomes the first "missing person" in a century when he ventures off to find a way to return sin to the world and "save" Flower.

This is an odious simplification of a complex, engaging, masterful plot, but any summary is bound to be. Wunderlee is at his apex here. He employs so many devices, the book is about just about everything, and paradoxically about nothing.

This is what makes Moore's Mythopoeia the masterwork that it is. It 'makes' myths, which are, of course, parables, moral tales that foster universal ideas that influence people throughout time. Like Paradise Lost, Wunderlee's accomplishment is how he reinvents the myth. Milton retold the genesis story, making the devil a sympathetic character, causing a rift in the reader's immediate moral judgment. Wunderlee's tome is a new religion, with its own canon, its own heroes, its own fall, and that alone is a literary achievement.

Heavenly Pleasures: A Corinna Chapman Mystery
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584262 $24.95

Lorraine Morgan Scott

Heavenly Pleasures is the second book in the Corinna Chapman Mystery, and the second book I've read of Kerry Greenwood's. I enjoyed reading Earthly Delights so much that I sought out the next book in the Corinna Chapman series.

Reading the first book in a series is like un-tangling a ball of yarn. One is able to un-wrap the character a little at a time as events occur until you have just enough information about the character to form a profile or expect the character to act in a certain way.

In the second book the author is compelled to remind the reader of character traits provided in the first book to add depth and expectation to the story. In the creative, conversational style that I appreciate, Ms Greenwood re-visited character-building moments from book one without boring me and causing me to skip pages. Yet, as I was reading this book of fiction, Ms. Greenwood threw in real-life politics and put-downs about the former president of the United States for which I did not appreciate. I am a patriotic U.S. citizen. After two references to the former president (which did absolutely nothing to further the story) I felt anxious, annoyed, and as I read on I realized I was so wound up waiting for the next barb I nearly closed the book without finishing it!

But I did read on, and thankfully, the personal attacks by a fictional character and by an Australian writer (living in Australia) stopped and the story continued without causing me anymore friction.

Corinna, the owner and bread-baker of Earthly Delights is the main ingredient in the community mix of the Melbourne area near Flinders Street Station and her 'eccentric' building Insula. It's eccentric because it is fashioned after Greek gods and goddesses. It's also eccentric because of its tenants.

Each tenant has a story, a past, and Corinna accepts their weaknesses with the same care as she does their strengths. It is through her concern for her neighbors and by being a private investigator's girlfriend, Corinna once again is involved in not one, but three mysteries! The mysteries involve danger and death and dastardly deeds done by some surprising characters.

Using ingenuity and a store of uncanny knowledge, Corinna saves the girl, the building's inhabitants, and aids in saving a neighboring shop. Not bad for an ex-accountant-turned-bread baker.

The new characters add dimension and my favorite characters from the first book are just as endearing in this one. The writing is fresh, funny, and at times sweet. Ms Greenwood takes just enough meanness and naughtiness from real life and swirls them through the story like streusel in a cake. It was an enjoyable read.

The Game of Their Lives: The Untold Story of the World Cup's Biggest Upset
Geoffrey Douglas
It Books
New York, NY
9780060758776 $13.99

Raja N. Krishnan

I grew up watching soccer. I enjoyed playing soccer with friends and then later for my high school team. In this country soccer is considered to be mostly enjoyed by kids. It is growing in popularity; it just has not crossed that threshold or the tipping point to take it into the mainstream. After watching the U.S. Soccer team's great run in the Confederation Cup this past summer culminating in the loss to Brazil, the most feared team of this time, I was inspired to find a book written about the game of soccer. I came across a book titled The Game of their Lives authored by Geoffrey Douglas and this is the subject of this review.

The setting of the book is about a famous soccer match between the United States and England, the most feared time of that time, in the 1950 World Cup. Although at times in the beginning of the story the detailed play by play account of the soccer match can seem to be tedious reading, the author does convey the beauty of the game of soccer in a concise manner and also providing some history throughout the book. The author provides some of the best descriptions of the game of soccer in small doses throughout the book. At one point in the beginning of the book, the author goes on a smooth ride describing the gorgeous game of soccer. The following is an example from the book comparing the sport of soccer to other sports:

"The rhythms of most sports rely on stop-and-start devisements: four downs, nine innings, eighteen holes-and play is halted, breaths are caught, adrenaline depletes. In soccer, where play is continuous-there are no huddles, inning changes, set pieces, or lulls between tackles or points-the rhythms determine themselves."

Throughout the book the author appropriately conveys the reason why soccer is an exciting game. Having stated that, this book is not only about soccer, it's about the lives of the players that were on that famous 1950 US soccer national team. The book gives a glimpse about how it was like growing up in America during the depression of the 1930's. Furthermore it's also about the life of immigrant families during that time and also the family life. As the author indicates he was sharing the living history of these soccer players. Living history....yeah I think that's what a good historian does. I thought that at times the back and forth transitions between the soccer match and the history of the players on the team seemed to not flow smoothly and also diminished the building suspense of the soccer match, I think with some patient reading Douglas does communicate this living history. It is a challenging task to merge two different aspects, such as a description of the game of soccer with a history of the players; in this case I thought it was a valiant effort and with some patient reading Douglas does communicate this living history.

I would recommend this book for those young soccer players, and also for those that are interested in the account of this 1950 United States vs England World Cup Match. This is an apt book to consider reading ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa. Also, this would be an interesting reading for those that are interested in history, particular the history of immigrant families in the United States. The book gives a nice perspective on the life of immigrant families.

Not Me
Eileen Myles
522 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027
No ISBN $10.00

Rick Marlatt, Reviewer

And We Began to Pray: A Review of Elieen Myles' Not Me

Eileen Myles states in her sweeping memoir driven poem "Holes," "I carried slim notebooks which only / permitted two or three-word lines, I need you." (32) This brief but essential moment in the poem serves as an excellent starting point for a discussion regarding structure in Myles' 1991 collection Not Me. Myles' lines are typically short and often end before a thought is complete or a new thought has a chance to begin. Yet it is in this asymmetrical alignment of composition and form that Myles' achieves great beauty in her art. In the book's opening piece, "An American Poem," Myles' sets up a lament on the speaker's privileged upbringing which eventually melds into a meditation on class issues in America. After a female character in the poem suggests the speaker could be a Kennedy," Myles notes: "I knew the jig / was up. / Yes, I am, / I am a Kennedy. / My attempts to remain / obscure have not served / me well." (15) As the speaker recounts her numerous attempts to realize an individual existence apart from her fortunate background, she finally has this breakthrough midway through the piece. And as the emotion rises and the speaker's questions directed toward the reader and society become more poignant, the line length remains consistently controlled.

By turning society's roles on their heads and declaring "you are the new Americans," (15) Myles begins to fuse together and comment on dark elements of society such as homelessness, disease, health care, social responsibility, and politics. Finally, Myles rages against this loss of innocence in a final cry for action:"I am not / alone tonight because / we are all Kennedys. / And I am your president." (17) Myles' poems function like lightning bolts striking down the middle of the page, and as the reader struggles to keep up with each emotional movement, the act interpretation begins to commence at a frantic and exciting pace. At first thought, the lucidity and musicality with which Myles' words roll of the page and flow through the reader's mind might suggest longer, perpetual line formations such as Whitman's or Ginsberg's; however, the structure that Myles typically employs is almost an attempt at constraint which makes Myles' poetry all the more powerful. In a sense, the voice and content don't match the form; in fact, together they transcend form altogether, an accentuation of a major theme in Myles' poetics, that is, to battle against labels and the trivialization of identity.

In "The New Cassette," Myles' achieves a similar level of mastery with her arrangement of abbreviated line lengths which hold the foundation of powerful emotions and moments. The poem begins, "My mother / turned 65 / today. The / most beautiful / poet in the / universe is / her daughter. / Does she / know that?" (40) This thought initiates an exploration of the relationship not only of mother and daughter, but of avant-garde artist and bourgeois society. The speaker continues by admiring her mother's experience of aging, and she uses this recognition to enhance her own self-examination. After a rare stanza break, the poem shifts into a transcript from the telephone call between daughter and mother, all the while maintaining the constriction in length despite great expression. Ironically, the poet, with worlds of words to share with her mother via her art, finds very little to say as her mother gradually loses interest in the conversation which is alarmingly low key and restricted to mindless chatter. As the conversation ends with "Well this / has been / fine. This / has been / just enough. Well, thank / you for / calling. Uh- / huh," (41) the reader harkens back to the opening moments of the poem in which the speaker shares secrets about herself that the mother doesn't realize. This absence of human connection despite remarkably compassionate potential makes the piece as a whole all the more gut-wrenchingly emotional and beautiful.

Myles' poems seem to begin in a flash, a flicker of a moment, and hit the ground running with a charged momentum that relentlessly searches for meaning and understanding through the experience of writing the poem and discovering a multitude of implications as a result of external stimuli. One of the more unique aspects of Myles' work is that unlike reading many other poets, the reader is constantly conscious of Myles writing the poem and reaching new and deeper levels of understanding as the lines progress further into the text. This fascinating process makes for an intimate relationship between poet and reader that is entirely contemporary and unfailingly memorable. As Myles writes in "Everything's House," "I love this kind of poetry." (24)

The Power of Women
Sister MorningStar
Motherbaby Press
c/o Midwifery Today Inc.
PO Box 2672, Eugene, OR, 97402-0223
9781890446437 $29.95

Shari Maser

Every time I visited my Great-Grandma Gertie, she fascinated me with tales of her childhood. I always gained incredible insight and understanding from her stories, even when I found it challenging to bridge the gap between her reality and mine. Reading The Power of Women, a collection of intimate personal stories of powerful and empowering childbirth experiences, I almost felt like I was reconnecting with my great-grandmother. I was awed, intrigued, sometimes mystified, and continually inspired.

The author, Sister MorningStar, is a long-time midwife who uses the art of storytelling as a venue for exploring the mysteries of birth, death, and womanhood. She openly expresses her spiritual beliefs and her philosophy of maternity care, and she is not shy about addressing difficult topics such as stillbirth, homebirth, poverty, unwanted pregnancy, and misogyny. She also gives expression to the voices and visions of dozens of other mothers, daughters, and midwives, recounting how each woman discovered her own inner power and drew upon the power of others around her in order to meet life's challenges with feminine strength.

Sister MorningStar asserts that storytelling is an effective way to share information and an important way for traditional midwives to teach the next generation of maternity care providers. "See with a thousand eyes," she says.

Through The Power of Women, Sister MorningStar passes along the stories that have touched her own life as a woman and a midwife. Life stories are never simple: thus, this is a complex book, raising as well as answering questions. If you want to think deeply and learn compassionately about the feminine mysteries, the struggles of women, and the art of midwifery, you will want to read The Power of Women.

True Blue
David Baldacci
Goldberg McDuffie Communications
9780446195515 $27.99

Annie Slessman

A formidable 454 pages, David Baldacci's, TRUE BLUE, is a tale of two sisters who possess a mutual love of law enforcement. Currently Beth Perry takes on the challenges of being the Chief of Police in Washington, D.C. Her sister, Mace, a former D.C. police officer has lost her right to be part of the law enforcement community when she spends two years in prison for acts she never committed.

Once she is released from Prison, Mace sets out to find the people who kidnapped her and set her up. Along the way she meets a young attorney who once walked the path of a criminal defense attorney. He now makes nearly three thousand a year for a private firm but still holds dear to his heart the street sense he developed in his former job.

With her sister Beth telling her to stay out of the investigation of the death of a young woman attorney who also worked for Roy's firm, Mace and Roy follow their leads to a surprise ending.

This work has all the elements to keep a reader's interest. Great characters, a storyline that takes the twists and turns that keeps a reader quickly turning pages and an ending that begs for more. No doubt we will be hearing more from Beth and Mace and who knows; even Roy may stick around for the next exciting story.

Albert Samuel Tukker
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557024759 $25.96

Teri Davis

Once in a while you find a book that is unusual, not predictable, almost haunting, and demonstrates creative thinking. RAGE is such a book. With naked ghosts and pirate treasure, RAGE romps through many times and places.

Jules Planchette finds himself in an awkward situation when he is simply trying to avoid being drenched by a downpour. As he shelters himself under the overhang of a building, he notices a vagrant. Unfortunately, this vagrant also has a mission and that is to rid himself of the "rage". This being, "rage", is inside of Jules' body everything appears normal except for if he happens to witness a situation where someone is at a disadvantage or is bullied.

The "rage" seems to level the playing field in regards to fairness and being just. Unfortunately, it also overreacts and literally turns Jules into a Rambo-like being. Is it really wrong to beat up a bully who is terrifying someone? It definitely is when you can't stop the fury and the bully ends up being killed. However, this "rage" almost gives Jules superpowers without a cape and a motto. His concern is how to control it and get rid of it.

RAGE is Jules' story of his trials with this possession which only becomes problematic in a threatening situation. In each situation, the voice of Jules is the outstanding feature of this novel. You can truly feel his questioning of his choices, the situation, his frustration, and fear in ridding himself of the "Rage."

Albert Samuel Tukker is masterful at balancing this adventure in terror with humor and compassion. His position of fighting for those incapable of defending themselves from life's misfortunes while being possessed makes this twist unusual, but intriguing.

My biggest question about RAGE is why isn't a regular publisher working with the obviously gifted author. Yes, this book is a self-published, vanity press novel. Being that this book have already won an award, I am puzzled.

Albert Samuel Tukker lives in the Omaha metropolitan area. He is definitely an author that is an extremely gifted storyteller with an imaginative gift for writing. Unquestionably, I look forward to reading his other novels.

Ann's Bookshelf

Source: Nature's Healing Role in Art and Writing
Janine Burke
Allen & Unwin
PO Box 8500, 83 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, NSW 2065, Australia
9781741759177 A$55.00

"Creativity is place", says Janine Burke in the introduction to Source. And that place, she believes, is the beginning and end of every artist's journey. It is the childhood realm, "the original source of inspiration and identity". For all but one of the artists and writers in this book, however, it was not their birthplace but a found location in which they produced their major works.

As the chapter titles in Source indicate, Burke has chosen a wide and disparate range of artists through which to explore this idea: 'Georgia O'Keeffe and the Desert', 'Picasso's Provence', 'Karen Blixen's Homelands', 'Jackson Pollock on Long Island', 'Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell in Sussex', 'Ernest Hemingway in Key West', 'Monet, Blanche Hochede and Giverny' and 'Emily Kame Kngwarreye's Utopia'. She outlines the creative lives of each of these men and women, discusses their desires and disaffections, their marriages, passions, strengths and weaknesses, and their work. She also visits the places in which they were most creative and offers her own vision of what inspired them. Inevitably, given the very unusual lives of all of her subjects, their stories involve "mourning and regeneration", and "patterns of illness, alcoholism, syphilis, breakdowns and suicide". But these are also stories of achievement and rebirth.

Source is an interesting book, not just because of the lives it documents but also because of the similarities which Burke traces between these creative lives. Sadly, the book cannot reproduce all the artistic work she discusses, but there is a good range of full-colour plates which help to illustrate her themes.

Of particular interest, is her account of the work of Blanche Hochede, the daughter of Alice Hochede who became Monet's lover and, later, his wife. Blanche was part of Monet's household almost constantly, from the time he first took her family into his Vetheuil home when they were declared bankrupt, until his death at Giverny in 1926. As a teenager, Blanche decided to become an artist and she began to work beside Monet, learning all that she could from him. He, in turn, encouraged her and also painted her at work. Eventually, she became his studio-assistant and, as well as exhibiting her own work professionally, it is very likely that she helped Monet with his when he became older and less active. There is some debate over whether she actually worked on any of Monet's canvasses, but Burke makes a good case for her having done so, and she deplores the fact that Blanche has been given little recognition for the help and support which she certainly provided for Monet for much of his creative life.

The last of Burke's subjects, the Australian Aboriginal artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, is the least known to most people. Emily began to create batik art work when she was sixty-six years old and she did not paint her first picture until twelve years after that. Her first paintings immediately won critical acclaim and in 1997 she was a chosen representative of Australia at the Venice Biennale. Her work now hangs in major art galleries around the world. She died in 1996.

Emily's painting grew from her kinship with the land of the Central Desert in the Northern Territories of Australia. She was a tribal elder, guardian of a particular Aboriginal food plant, and an important senior woman in her tribe. Her place of inspiration was the desert land on which she lived, and Burke visited this land as part of her research for Source. Faced with the reality of Aboriginal life in a remote part of the Central Desert, she struggles to come to terms with the "schismatic vision" of tribal people who produce "subtle and sophisticated art", who are intimately connected to the land of which they are the "spiritual custodians", and yet live in squalor and seemingly have "scant regard for their environment".

Emily's Utopia (that is the name of the area where she lived and worked) is not the Utopia we might imagine. Burke's initial impression is that she has descended into "one of the circles of hell".She is shocked by the snotty-nosed children, the desecrated houses, the rubbish and the plastic bags festooning the desert; and she is angered by the unreproved cruelty that a young boy inflicts on a dog. Yet, from this seeming neglect comes delicate art based on tribal beliefs and stories. She recognizes her desire to impose her own cultural standards and she tries to come to terms with her own lack of understanding.

No such shock is produced by the creative utopias of Burke's other artists and writers. She visits their houses with delight and describes them and the landscape around them glowingly. Perhaps too glowingly at times. It is interesting to compare her description of Jackson Pollock's studio at Springs on Long Island with that of art historian Robert Hughes. Burke's visitor stands, as she has done, in Pollock's paint spattered studio and "feels energy rushing up from the floor, from the web of painted lines, so fast and intense it seems she is lifted off the floor". Hughes, in his vast and impressive book American Visions, describes the "shrine" of "Jack the Dripper" (a title he borrowed from an early Time magazine feature on Pollock). He sees only the "Miraculous brushes", the "Sanctified Shoes" and the "surplus drips of the Master, the sacramental ichor" that went off the edges of his great works.

Nevertheless, Source is an interesting and absorbing book. The illustration are beautiful, the photographs of her subjects are unusual, and Burke makes a very pleasant, relaxed and informed companion and guide to the lives and work of her chosen artists and writers.

Source: Nature's Healing Role in Art and Writing
Janine Burke
Allen & Unwin
PO Box 8500, 83 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, NSW 2065, Australia
9781741759177 A$55.00

"Creativity is place", says Janine Burke in the introduction to Source. And that place, she believes, is the beginning and end of every artist's journey. It is the childhood realm, "the original source of inspiration and identity". For all but one of the artists and writers in this book, however, it was not their birthplace but a found location in which they produced their major works.

As the chapter titles in Source indicate, Burke has chosen a wide and disparate range of artists through which to explore this idea: 'Georgia O'Keeffe and the Desert', 'Picasso's Provence', 'Karen Blixen's Homelands', 'Jackson Pollock on Long Island', 'Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell in Sussex', 'Ernest Hemingway in Key West', 'Monet, Blanche Hochede and Giverny' and 'Emily Kame Kngwarreye's Utopia'. She outlines the creative lives of each of these men and women, discusses their desires and disaffections, their marriages, passions, strengths and weaknesses, and their work. She also visits the places in which they were most creative and offers her own vision of what inspired them. Inevitably, given the very unusual lives of all of her subjects, their stories involve "mourning and regeneration", and "patterns of illness, alcoholism, syphilis, breakdowns and suicide". But these are also stories of achievement and rebirth.

Source is an interesting book, not just because of the lives it documents but also because of the similarities which Burke traces between these creative lives. Sadly, the book cannot reproduce all the artistic work she discusses, but there is a good range of full-colour plates which help to illustrate her themes.

Of particular interest, is her account of the work of Blanche Hochede, the daughter of Alice Hochede who became Monet's lover and, later, his wife. Blanche was part of Monet's household almost constantly, from the time he first took her family into his Vetheuil home when they were declared bankrupt, until his death at Giverny in 1926. As a teenager, Blanche decided to become an artist and she began to work beside Monet, learning all that she could from him. He, in turn, encouraged her and also painted her at work. Eventually, she became his studio-assistant and, as well as exhibiting her own work professionally, it is very likely that she helped Monet with his when he became older and less active. There is some debate over whether she actually worked on any of Monet's canvasses, but Burke makes a good case for her having done so, and she deplores the fact that Blanche has been given little recognition for the help and support which she certainly provided for Monet for much of his creative life.

The last of Burke's subjects, the Australian Aboriginal artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, is the least known to most people. Emily began to create batik art work when she was sixty-six years old and she did not paint her first picture until twelve years after that. Her first paintings immediately won critical acclaim and in 1997 she was a chosen representative of Australia at the Venice Biennale. Her work now hangs in major art galleries around the world. She died in 1996.

Emily's painting grew from her kinship with the land of the Central Desert in the Northern Territories of Australia. She was a tribal elder, guardian of a particular Aboriginal food plant, and an important senior woman in her tribe. Her place of inspiration was the desert land on which she lived, and Burke visited this land as part of her research for Source. Faced with the reality of Aboriginal life in a remote part of the Central Desert, she struggles to come to terms with the "schismatic vision" of tribal people who produce "subtle and sophisticated art", who are intimately connected to the land of which they are the "spiritual custodians", and yet live in squalor and seemingly have "scant regard for their environment".

Emily's Utopia (that is the name of the area where she lived and worked) is not the Utopia we might imagine. Burke's initial impression is that she has descended into "one of the circles of hell".She is shocked by the snotty-nosed children, the desecrated houses, the rubbish and the plastic bags festooning the desert; and she is angered by the unreproved cruelty that a young boy inflicts on a dog. Yet, from this seeming neglect comes delicate art based on tribal beliefs and stories. She recognizes her desire to impose her own cultural standards and she tries to come to terms with her own lack of understanding.

No such shock is produced by the creative utopias of Burke's other artists and writers. She visits their houses with delight and describes them and the landscape around them glowingly. Perhaps too glowingly at times. It is interesting to compare her description of Jackson Pollock's studio at Springs on Long Island with that of art historian Robert Hughes. Burke's visitor stands, as she has done, in Pollock's paint spattered studio and "feels energy rushing up from the floor, from the web of painted lines, so fast and intense it seems she is lifted off the floor". Hughes, in his vast and impressive book American Visions, describes the "shrine" of "Jack the Dripper" (a title he borrowed from an early Time magazine feature on Pollock). He sees only the "Miraculous brushes", the "Sanctified Shoes" and the "surplus drips of the Master, the sacramental ichor" that went off the edges of his great works.

Nevertheless, Source is an interesting and absorbing book. The illustration are beautiful, the photographs of her subjects are unusual, and Burke makes a very pleasant, relaxed and informed companion and guide to the lives and work of her chosen artists and writers.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Words from the Wise
Deana Cerniglia
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440161339, $14.95,

Wisdom is contagious and hereditary. "Words from the Wise: Parenting With Proverbs" is a collection of simple words and wisdom for parents who often are overwhelmed with the task of bringing up their children for all eighteen years and then some of their childhoods. Sibling rivalry, the other parent, discipline, and more. "Words from the Wise" is a top pick for any parent looking for guidance when there's never enough.

A Book of Silence
Sara Maitland
2117 Fourth Street, Suite D, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781582435176, $25.00,

The power of silence is something that is criminally underrated. "A Book of Silence" is a memoir of Sara Maitland as she reflects on the power of silence and how it has helped her reflect on her life as a family woman and feminist. Analyzing silence and offering many interesting and intriguing ideas for readers, a "A Book of Silence" is a very strong pick and a highly recommended read for those who want to truly understand silence.

7 Steps Out of the Humpty Dumps
Susan Sherwood Parr
9780882704449, $6.99,

Putting one's life back together again is much easier with a little faith. "7 Steps Out of the Humpty Dumps: It's Time to Put the Pieces Together" is an inspiring read pushing people to, when in pain, look towards God for guidance and inspiration to give them the recovery they need for their own happiness in life. Simple and motivational, "7 Steps Out of the Humpty Dumps" is a top pick for religious people in a rut.

Sweet Grass Season
J. R. Nakken
Imago Press
3710 East Edison, Tucson, AZ 85716-2912
9781935437079, $13.00,

Love knows no race or class. "Sweet Grass Season" tells the romance of a white business woman and how she catches the eyes of a native American man who knows a toolbox much better than he does a cubicle. Their romance buds, as J. R. Nakken tells this charming and sweet romance. "Sweet Grass Season" is well worth considering for genre fans.

Killing Yourself With Your Fork?
Francois C. Maloney
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440138041, $14.95,

Many will use it for nearly a century, so it's well worth taking care of. "Killing Yourself With Your Fork?: 40 Tips in 40 Days" is a health guide dedicated to helping readers pick out how to optimize their health through countless tips and ideas to help readers keep their bodies in peak condition. Discussing everything from common dietary debates to myths about aging, "Killing Yourself With Your Fork?" is a solid and worthy choice for the health concerned reader.

Lee Mandel
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440141508, $28.95,

When trying to survive and complete one's mission, one may do the unthinkable. "Moryak" tells the story of Stephen Morrison, an American sent into Russia to remove the Tsar from power at the turn of the twentieth century. Caught up in Russia's own political turmoil, Morrison's job gets only more and more complicated as the years of his mission roll on. "Moryak" is an intriguing spy thriller using the chaos of early twentieth Russia as an excellent setting.

Women Writing for (a) Change
Mary Pierce Brosmer
Sorin Books
PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0428
9781933495187, $15.95,

Writing is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated. "Women Writing for (a) Change: A Guide for Creative Transformation" is a book encouraging women to write and find their own inner voice which can help motivate them through life and become not only better writers, but better women. "Women Writing for (a) Change" is a top pick for any woman who wants to improve their pen wielding skill.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Arch to Freedom
Mark Metz
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161256, $12.95,

The hunt for truth is never easy, literally and spiritually. "Arch to Freedom" tells the story of a man who searches the world as his lover and his child are found dead. Except for him, he's not even certain they're dead. An endless slew of questions mixed with love and the need for certainty and closure, "Arch to Freedom" is a fascinating mystery.

Sex and Marriage
Cynthia L. McGill
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161645, $10.95,

A good sex life is essential to a good marriage. "Sex and Marriage: Myths Uncovered" is Cynthia L. McGill coming at readers with much reassurance and ideas when it comes to marriage and knowing how to keep that fire alive and what preconceived notions to avoid. "Sex and Marriage" is well worth considering for new couples.

Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan!
Ed Benjamain
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432744281, $24.95,

With all that money being thrown around, how does one get into the game? "Cash In on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan!" is a guide for those who want to take advantage of the down economy and get some the economic stimulus money for themselves. With tips on certain economic concepts and ideas that the plan targets, any business that wants to boom in the recovering conditions must consider "Cash In on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan!".

The Power & The Plunder
Sean A'Hearn
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440144073, $21.95,

The will to survive is undeniable and is within everybody. "The Power & The Plunder" tells the story of Laura and Jennifer, two young adults faced with a kidnapping that drags them from their Texas home to an African nation plagued by civil war. Their parents try to help, but they may have their own problems to attend to. An intriguing and fascinating thriller, "The Power & The Plunder" is a solid and very highly recommended read.

Through the Triangle
C.P. Stewart
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432740368, $21.95,

The future can be a scary thing, especially if you don't know what led to it. "Through the Triangle" is a novel following Jake and his son Nathan as they go on a Florida vacation. Their vacation soon takes a turn for the unusual after a voyage into the Devil's Triangle, they find themselves flung into the far future with little evidence of what happened between the present and then. "Through the Triangle" is an intriguing thriller, well worth considering.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Honest Sid
Ronald Probstein
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440141874, $17.95,

To make ends meet and to keep your sanity is a hard compromise to make. "Honest Sid: Memoir of a Gambling Man" is a son looking back towards his father and reflecting on how he lived his life. Ronald Probstein reflects on the figure known as Honest Sid, who he knew as Dad, and how he lived his life. Giving original insight in how the families of these individuals who will delve into the underworld to make ends meet and how they are not necessarily bad people, "Honest Sid" is a fine and fascinating read.

Poems of Love and Life
Charles D. Chambers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449028572, $14.95,

Simplicity is the best method for conveying messages. "Poems of Love and Life" is a collection of poems from Charles D. Chambers with focus on simplicity, the world, and the simple subjects that appeal to everyone. "Poems of Love and Life" is a read that any poetry fan can get into. "God": A little bird once said to me/It whispered very clear/That God was looking down at us/So we should have no fear/That never should we have a doubt/That he would always care/For like his presence in heaven above/His love is always there.

The Magnificent 700
Michael Bonventre
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449026486, $35.95,

The motion picture has became a major medium in the twentieth century, and there have been no shortage of great ones. "The Magnificent 700: Your Guide to the Essential Films to View or Collect on Your Way to Becoming a True Motion Picture Buff" is the rookie film buff's guide to the finest pictures of the twentieth century, giving plot synopsis, the people behind the film, and more. With no shortage of valuable information for readers, "The Magnificent 700" is a worthwhile investment, packed cover to cover with trivia.

The Gentiles
Agnes Padmini Thambynayagam
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449023515, $74.49,

Sri Lanka has a truly unique history. "The Gentiles: A History of Sri Lanka: 1498-1833" covers the history of the island from their first contact with Europeans in the fifteenth century and their unique relationship with the Portuguese, British, and Dutch through the years. With plenty of maps and photographs, "The Gentiles" is a fine addition to any history collection focusing on southeast Asia.

The Cobra Conspiracy
Roger A. Naylor
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440162800, $20.95,

When some people don't want something done, they'll do almost anything to stop it. "The Cobra Conspiracy" tells the story of Buck Barnum, as he's faced with the task of helping launch a high tech ship from Los Angeles. But there are those who will go to any lengths to stop this ship from launching, and Buck finds himself between them and his new job. "The Cobra Conspiracy" is a fun thriller, highly recommended.

Mind Gone Astray
Wayne Kallio
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440121166, $20.95,

Schizophrenia is a term loosely thrown around in jest, but when faced with it, the reality is much more frightening. "Mind Gone Astray" tells the story of a couple faced with schizophrenia of one of them. Wayne Kallio tells the story as an outsider looking in of Charles Koivu dealing with his wife Kaija's schizophrenia. Giving a very personal touch to a topic few know about, "Mind Gone Astray" is a very highly recommended read.

Echoes of Eden
George L. England
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595534081, $17.95,

A family legacy is royalty in itself. "Echoes of Eden: Life as Humans Know It" tells the story of a family through the generations and how Albert Hemsby the tenth seeks to carry on the family legacy in his own way. Telling the story of living up to the tall order of a long standing American family, "Echoes of Eden" is a very fine and recommended read for general fiction fans.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

The Man and a Boy
James J. McBride
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9781440126789, $20.95,

Friendship is a very powerful learning tool. "The Man and a Boy: Teach Me to Be" is a spirituality guide that uses the model of a mentor and student dialogue to teach the lessons of life. Discussing many topics and Christian in its roots and nature, "The Man and a Boy" is a fine and very recommended read with many valuable lessons through its heartwarming tales.

Three Threads Woven
Lucinda Stein
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9781440157530, $29.95,

Being of mixed ancestry sadly gets you the worst of many worlds. "Three Threads Woven" tells the story of young Wenona Black Elk, a young girl of Sioux, Navajo, and white ancestry, as she deals with the rough challenges of her ancestry. A father who doesn't want her, her childhood is never easy and it seems she is unloved all around. But her father can't run from her daughter forever, and "Three Threads Woven" is an intriguing look at the Native American attitude towards interracial children.

The Four Corners
Christian N Usera
Privately Published
9780615313191, $19.95

The wisest of messages can come in the most deceptive of formats. "The Four Corners" is a collection of short folk tales from Christian N Usera, who presents his stories alongside simple and childish drawings which he uses to surprising effectiveness. "The Four Corners" is a top pick for those looking for something a bit offbeat.

Plowshares in the Palatinate
Phyllis Harrison
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440152177, $31.95,

Religious persecution tears countries apart. "Plowshares in the Palatinate" is the story of one Huguenot, or French Protestant who has left France to go to a small German country on the Rhine River. But founding religious freedom is never easy as this individual founds a new settlement for his protestant brethren away from the oppressive French crown. "Plowshares in the Palatinate" is an intriguing piece of historical fiction on the value of one's beliefs.

Diagnosis and Prescription to Combat Global Terrorism
Jeremiah Z. Whapoe
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438998060, $20.00,

Terrorism is a very real issue for modern America. "Diagnosis and Prescription to Combat Global Terrorism: An Insight in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism" is the opinions and thoughts of Jeremiah W. Whapoe as he looks into the minds of terrorists and what they are truly trying to accomplish. With his own ideas for solutions and measures to take, "Diagnosis and Prescription to Combat Global Terrorism" is well worth considering for social issues collections.

The Immigrant
Max H. Lombardi
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
9781425182977, $24.95,

The pursuit of the American dream draws them here, but that doesn't mean it's easy street when they get here. "The Immigrant: A Collection of 120 Short Stories" is a collection of short tales from Max Lombardi focusing on Marco Donnatti, a Peruvian immigrant to America who embarks on a long pursuit of the American way. Entertaining and insightful, "The Immigrant" is a fine collection of short fiction.

The Bishop of Lipoppo
Gerald T. McLaughlin
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9781440134654, $16.95,

Tradition is something to be challenged if it's for the betterment of mankind. "The Bishop of Lipoppo" tells the story of one particular Father of the Catholic Church, as he leaves his small African village to go to the Vatican. His unusual antics earn him quite the fame, and much popularity around the world, but when the pope passes, the man who has not be the staunch defender of tradition may be a high contender to become the emissary of God. "The Bishop of Lipoppo" is an entertaining foray into the world of Catholicism.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith's Employment Survival Guide
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438979700, $12.99,

Work is something everyone must do, and a lot of people hate. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith's Employment Survival Guide: How to Organize and Enhance Your Employment Status" is a guide for those who hate their jobs and don't need to know how much longer they can take it. Filled with simple tips and tricks for readers they can do to ward off the pain of their careers, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith's Employment Survival Guide" is a treasure that should not be ignored.

Michael J. Carson

Chris' Bookshelf

Midnight Revelations
Karen M Bence
SterlingHouse Publisher
3468 Babcock Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15237
9781563454140 $14.95

Is there a point at which the rational can no longer be reconciled with the facts? How is one to judge the difference between that which the senses reveal and the spirit world shows beyond those senses?

Bence takes these questions and answers them for Sara Miller, her husband David, and their son Jack. This mystery, and perhaps even horror story, is a tale that grabs the reader and does not let go. The Millers move into a dream home. Yes, there are problems from the past that they are dealing with this way, but it is always with hope and dreams that they moved into this new house. And for the Millers this was a dream-come-true house. There is plenty of room on this Virginia farm for horses to run and dogs to play and, last but not least, a family to grow together after a heart wrenching loss.

Sara is the main character. The tale begins with her finding a mirror that came from the home she now owns when it was abandoned by the previous owner, Patrick McHugh. The McHughs are a mysterious family with much tragedy and darkness concealed from the community in general. The mirror reveals things that Sara cannot explain. Even Jack her son sees images there that only hint at mystery without revealing any depth. Then a few boxes of old books are found with a journal or diary locked and still tantalizingly attractive.

As the story progresses other things begin to build into a hodgepodge of hints and dark feelings. Sara, and Maria, her adopted mother far away in NYC, both experience nightmares. Tragedy strikes again, but this time history is repeated with a more positive possibility. All this adds up to difficulty and grief for Sara and her little family.

The characters are so real and finely wrought that family portraits appear in the reader's head. Sara, of course, is very well developed. But Emma, the horse caretaker, and Carlos, the farm hand, are as real as Donna, the aunt, who helps out in the most desperate of circumstances. David and Jack fill out the family well with the honest feeling of people known and life experienced with.

The plot is thoroughly twisted and yet very tightly maintained. When, in the course of the story, the dreams and visions come they are so forceful and traumatic that they impede real life, then logical responses no longer matter, and the spiritual ones take over. There is no variance or drifting with Bence's writing. She is able to weave a complicated and intricate tale while maintaining flow and consistency.

This is a great read, and this reviewer cannot recommend it heartily enough. It was a pleasure to read from cover to cover. It was difficult many times to put the book down and return to real life. Bence has some real experience with grief and presents a wonderful and satisfying course for others to follow when grieving. Then she also deals with adoption, and birth parents, very practically. Any reader should enjoy and learn from reading this book.

Frugal Foodie Cookbook
Lara Starr with Lynette Shirk
Viva Editions
P.O. Box 14697, San Francisco, CA 94114
9781573443630 $15.95

A small book like this, at 6.9" x 6", will be lost on many a cookbook shelf. However, there are plenty of reasons to keep this one on the counter and handy. Printed in the style of the "Dummy" series books, there are tips, hints and quotes interspersed throughout this delightful collection of recipes and more.

Starr and Shirk have found and included many recipes that most cooks will be looking for at times when running short of specific supplies or ingredients. From the "3-in-1 Eye-Opening Mix" (pg. 18) through "Best Dressed Salads" with a chart to show how to mix herbs together (pg. 62) and to "Cents-able Solutions: Savvy Substitutions" (pg. 114, 115) with a chart showing common substitutes for things that might not be in the pantry. There are recipes of all qualities and styles where the gourmet can vary ingredients for that special taste or the rushed mom can have things already prepared for immediate serving up for dinner.

There are tips in marquee boxes like "Processor Points" delineating how to clean the blade and how to really clean the compartments. There are "Cents-able Solutions" like the one mentioned above in a different style of marquee box. Interspersed throughout are short quotes from famous and infamous persons. Zsa-Zsa Gabor - "I'm a marvelous housekeeper, every time I have a man, I keep his house." To by M.F.K. Fisher - "Almost every person has something secret he likes to eat".

The recipes are good and easy to follow. The ingredients are listed first so the pantry can be checked before starting. However there is no index or cross reference to help find something specific. Even the chapters and entries in the table of contents do not provide any type of sorting, just titles of the sections are referenced there.

This book will help anyone trying to save money by trying to use what is already in the pantry. The recipes are simple enough to follow and there are tables and charts throughout to help with substitutions and changes. However, this is not the book for someone who already does this on a regular basis. With the odd size of the book, the missing index and references to items in it, and the odd and limited table of contents it could becomes harder to use than others that are available.

To Wrestle With Darkness
Alan D. Jones
Rising Sun Group Publishing
Atlanta, GA
0966667913 $19.95

To Wrestle With Darkness is Science Fiction, but a different type of Science Fiction. There is technology unavailable now; there is time travel and space/time manipulation. But there is also a very Christian theme; Heaven and Hell are real for these characters; there are demons and truly evil beings; there is God and divine intervention. So what is this?

The book begins with the story of Michael, in the first person, as he begins to learn about himself and secrets hidden from him by his own family. As these revelations unfold the trials and tribulations begin. Intertwined in this tale, and contrasting with it, is the tale of Jonah. Alternating chapters go from Michael's first person account to Jonah's third person tale. The plot manages to weave between the two narratives very well and very consistently.

Michael first discovers that his family has many secrets when he stumbles upon some pictures of people that are very familiar to him with others that are not. The common figure among them is Uncle Paul. He senses nothing good from the others depicted there. A meeting with Uncle Paul then sets him on the path of his destiny.

Jonah, on the other hand, knows too much. A scientist, he lives many years after Michael's time, and is probably a genius in wave theory and wave manipulation in the form of energy, light and sound. In his time, an elitist group has taken control of the government, religion and everything else. A caste structure is firmly in place with this elite group called the Blues, entrenched as the upper class. The lower castes are firmly held in place, and many groups are persecuted. The Blues practice a specific religion and ban all others. Many religious groups, Christians, Muslim, Jews and others, are hunted and killed for their outlawed beliefs.

From these two perspectives a story is interwoven, comparable to Pilgrim's Progress or even to some Greek tragedies. Jones takes several science fiction tropes, and gives them a Christian basis, while twisting the whole into a new depiction of the struggle between good and evil. With only first names to work with, throughout, what could be confusing creating identity problems among the characters, he uses to develop each one into a believable and convincing person. The plot, while typical of a morality tale, has sufficient twists and turns to make it a thriller, too. The action, and angst are all part of what keeps the novel moving, and surprises truly do lurk in every corner and on almost every page.

Jones' depictions of the struggle with self and against evil are a revelation. Jones' beliefs or the beliefs of these characters, at least, are clear and consistent throughout. The interactions between supernatural beings, spirit beings and some extraordinary humans create tension while keeping the action flowing smoothly. This book is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. Jones should write more and explore this genre. Anyone liking religious science fiction like A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller or Speaker For the Dead by Orson Scott card would enjoy this book.

Black and White Make Brown
Cornelia Brown
Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781606966426 $12.99

Black and White Make Brown centers on Cornelia Brown's autobiography, including her family in Germany and her in-laws in the USA. Brown is a German emigre married to an American service man (retired). From the Bavarian highlands of southern Germany to Louisiana, she has traveled far to have a marriage with the man she loved.

The story begins with the Title quote, Kayla, Brown's granddaughter, referring to conversations with her school friends, say, "…I know Black and White makes Brown." Although this quote is key to the book and is in the first chapter, it is the true message of the whole story.

Brown's husband is an African-American. But she married him when such unions were not acceptable. She left Germany because her husband-to-be was in the military and stationed in the States. However, on both sides of the ocean, in two different countries, she encountered the same hate, prejudice and bias because she chose to be different. She chose an inter-racial marriage. Even in the state where the marriage was performed, it was illegal to marry across racial lines. This issue persists with recent news articles highlighting similar couples in Louisiana blocked from getting a marriage license by the refusal of the officials to grant one to a couple of different races.

Brown writes of her grandmother and mother enduring the ravages of WWII and her witnessing the pain and suffering of those times. Those hardships and troubles weren't noticeable to her as she was growing-up until she gained some independence. Then she started going to dance at clubs where US service men were. There and at home she began to see the bias toward around racial intermingling.

There are many problems and personal suffering revealed through the story. Brown writes of the courage of her husband and children as well as her husband's family. She also deals with prejudice as it is encountered while trying just to be herself.

As far as the publishing of the book goes, this reviewer is very disappointed by the book's size (6.7" x 4.9"). This makes the book feel unusually small in the hand and a challenge to read. However, this is an important tale to tell. It is a sad reminder that racial prejudice and inequities exist still, but it is also a lesson in the triumph of spirit.

This book should be read by everyone. And it should be read with an open mind and heart. It is hard to understand why there is still so much of this intolerance still existing. Race does not preclude any two people falling in love. It does not change anything in the people or their families, but the effects of prejudice are still experienced by people every day.

The Great Grammar Book
Marsha Sramek
Arch Press
9095 Briar Forest Drive, Houston, Texas 77024.
9780984115709 $18.95

Grammar books have certainly changed since this reviewer last looked at one. Sramek has written the suitably titled The Great Grammar Book. What stands out about the book is its layout. With a workbook style she covers all the regular topics, but very well. Starting with the Diagnostic Test in the beginning she instructs and informs with trivia and fresh exercises testing the material taught.

The Diagnostic Test is not easy and does test the basic ability of the reader. However, it does provide immediate support in showing the correct answers. The subsequent chapters strengthen the weaknesses revealed with this test. Each chapter is divided in to a statement of the rules, examples of these rules and exercises to reinforce the rules. Finally, the review exercises and the "Final Chapter Review" test the reader on all the topics thoroughly.

Remarkably, Sramek has introduced examples and exercise sentences that are both new and interesting as they stand. "George Washington created the Purple Heart in 1792, making it the nation's oldest military decoration," reveals a trivia tidbit that keeps the attention of the reader (pg. 73 for the exercise. This is the corrected version for those interested). Under Parentheses, one of the examples is something this reviewer didn't know, another bit of trivia, "In 1898 (fourteen years before the Titanic tragedy) Morgan Robertson wrote the novel Futility, about the largest ship ever built hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic on a cold April night." This book is filled with interesting facts in Sramek's efforts to keep the subject lively and the reader interested in completing the lessons.

The chapters follow the standard topics, but she ends the book with the most practical chapter of all "Successful Writing Skills." Sramek condenses the whole book into a series of explanations and exercises utilizing the lessons taught in the first part to "practice, practice, practice." The particular instruction and exercises enhance what comes before while using practical applications to emphasize each section. This chapter is good for students and the obvious reason for the book. This chapter is also very good for refreshing skills using proper grammar for others outside of the education sphere.

This book is definitely well targeted by the marketing department of Avon Press. Students preparing for SATs and ACT will benefit greatly. However, another marketing arm could be pursued with the businesses world. All persons who communicate via the written word would do well to review this book and work through the exercises. This reviewer is recommending this as a practical guide for any one that writes on a regular basis.

Chris Phillips

Christina Johns' Bookshelf

Shadowed Summer
Saundra Mitchell,
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
9780385735711 $15.99

Saundra Mitchell's first novel is quite a treat, for readers of all ages, who enjoy ghost stories.

Shadowed Summer is a story about Iris, a girl on the cusp. She is on the cusp of womanhood, in this light novel, and when the reader catches up to her, she is on the cusp of deciding her beliefs concerning the supernatural. Does she believe it, or does she not?

Along for the ride is Iris' best friend, Collette. The girls have been friends for a long time, but during this summer, which is Iris' 14th, the relationship is going through many changes. Iris is moving into womanhood and things are starting to look different to her.

Collette has already made her mind up about ghosts. She believes in them. This becomes most evident when the girls, along with Ben (a local boy who is supposed to be Collette's love interest, but seems to have a thing for Iris), use an Ouija Board to help communicate with the dead. Though Iris is slightly moving the pointer with her fingertips, Collette and Ben believe they are communicating with a ghost. During these antics, Iris sees something supernatural. It is the apparition of a boy who has been missing from the area for the last 20 years, Elijah Landry.

I wandered the edge of the road, picking butterfly weed to weave into a scarlet crown. The Incident was a haunt to me, a black fairy tale that went like this:

Once upon a time in the '80's, Elijah Landry went to bed, and when his mama came to wake him the next day, she found an empty room and a blood-dotted pillow instead. They searched all of Ascension Parish, but nobody ever saw him again, and only God or the devil knows what became of him. Amen.

--Shadowed Summer, pg 27

Iris is the only one that Elijah is reaching out to. This makes her feel special. The girl becomes almost obsessed with finding out all that she can about Elijah, his life and his disappearance. As the story continues, the connection between Iris and Elijah turns out to be a close one. Doing the best they can to find out information, it is during a seance that Iris decides that she has had enough of Elijah's ghostly antics.

Scared or not, Collette wasn't about to let foolishness ruin the moment. Sounding like our English teacher, she pronounced her question with perfect diction, demanding a real answer this time. "We're trying to help you, Elijah. Do you have a message for us?"

He rapped twice, then twice more, then just pounded away, slamming my bedroom door open and closed. Then everything stopped.

Looking around slowly, I chewed my bottom lip, wondering if we'd driven him off forever.

"Guess that's that," I said and blew out the candle closest to me.

First, I heard the scream. It came so sharp and high, it broke my skin open and made me bleed ice cold. Dripping wet, my cheek burned. I touched it, and my fingers came back stained watery dark. I tasted salt and metal; the pressure in the room had changed.

--- Shadowed Summer,

Page 90

I found this story interesting and a pleasure to read. Through Mitchell's pen, I felt like I was a young teenager again. The book is suitable for young and old. Miss it and you will really miss it.

Dark Time, Mortal Path, Book One
Dakota Banks
EOS an imprint of Harper Collins
N.Y., New York
9780061687303 $7.99

In this first effort for Dakota Banks, readers meet Susannah, a pregnant healer of the 17th century. In the beginning of the story, Susannah, the protagonist here, ends up being burned at the stake because of her healing abilities. Her abilities are mistaken for witchcraft, as was the case for several other young women at this time period. Losing the child she is carrying during the melee of being accused and tried a witch, serves to ignite her desire for revenge. While she is dying, Susannah decides to make a pact with a demon who offers her a way out of her current situation. This deal enables her to stay alive, giving her a chance to avenge herself. All she has to do is act on the demon's bidding when she is instructed. For doing this, Susannah becomes an immortal human assassin.

Dakota Banks paints a realistic tale in Dark Time. Beginning in the 17th Century, the author takes the reader through time with a confident pen. She does this with hopes that the reader will enjoy her blend of archaeology and the paranormal. Early in the book Banks explains the immediate concerns to readers so that the story is plausible from the beginning. With a delicate pen, she pulls the readers in.

By 1955, Susannah is among us, except that now her name is Malia.

As a journalist, she affords exceptional housing and many luxuries that are only known by most in dreams. She has made some friends, who are not privy to Malia's true origins, and if the killings she commits are not added into the equation, she is living a fairly good life. Unfortunately, the killings can't be accepted and Maliha begins to realize that she wants out of her deal with the demon.

After 263 years of killing in servitude to the demon Rabishu, Susannah's work was lying heavily on her heart. She marveled at the Louvre visitors who walked by her as she sat on the bench and didn't gasp in alarm at the foul stench that surely exuded from her. It was the same way that Rabishu announced his presence, with the odor of the Underworld clinging to him. Lately, she'd had that smell caught in her nostrils, even while strolling in a garden, even while swimming in the warm, azure waters of the Mediterranean, even while making love.

My mind is trying to tell me something. My heart is rotting.

--From Dark Time, page 29

There is a lot of action in this book. Maliha is an exquisite fighter and has many opportunities to test her abilities by sparring with men much bigger than her. Finally, Maliha learns that the only way to get out of her contract with the demon is to save one life for every life she has taken.

Unfortunately, for every life Maliha saves - she will age. Were she to fail her task, she will become the demon's plaything forever. Her punishments will be unspeakable, unendurable and never-ending.

For a first try at a novel, Banks is almost expert in dealing with the complex storyline needing constant concentration. The characters are well-rounded and Maliha even has a love life in all of this carnage!

He gently tilted her face up and kissed her. The touch of his lips thrilled her. He put his arms around her and pulled her to him. She rested there comfortably, there bodies in full contact, with her cheek against his chest. He bent toward her ear and she thought he was going to whisper something sweet.

"You taste like hot sauce," he said. "I just missed all of the off ramps for this date."

---Dark Time Book One

Page 76

Don't think that Mahila will just fade into the woodwork when this tale is done; Banks tells readers that Dark Time Mortal Path Book One is only the beginning. Two more books will round out the trilogy as Dakota Banks plans. New York to Chicago, from the wilds of Peru and China, from corporate espionage to tomb-raiding, Mahila does it all and she must save as many lives as possible before her own time runs out. Quite an order for a new writer, but Dakota Banks just may carry it out.

Work Less, Do More The 14-Day Productivity Makeover
Jan Yager, Ph.D.
Sterling Publishing
387 Park Ave South, New York, New York 10016
9781402748370, $17.95

When I picked up this book for the first time, I was frazzled. Working a forty hour week, cleaning house after two people, and working on a freelance writing career was leaving me with a lot to be desired. It would have been nice to be able to enjoy some television viewing, or more reading, or maybe just going outside and walking around. Most desired, I realized, was more time in the day.

Jan Yager, Ph.D., author of this book, has been conducting time management workshops since 1984. She is an award-winning author of over 20 books, translated into 20 languages, including Business Protocol and Making Your Office Work for You. Having taught Crisis Intervention, Interpersonal Communications and the Sociology of Health at several colleges including the University of Connecticut, Yager admits that she brings a unique medical sociological perspective to this workbook that makes it more in touch with the connection between stress and increased time pressures.

Work Less, Do More is set up in an interactive style with chapters designated into days and each issue making up the chapter. Beginning with Day 1, Getting Started, Yager takes the reader through goal setting, dealing with the five p's (procrastination, perfectionism, poor planning, poor pacing and petulance), prioritizing, multitasking so it works, and more. Not usually dealt with, using the phone and other equipment and E-mail and communicating electronically, information brings readers up-to-date when thinking about what they really need help managing. My biggest problem is paperwork. My desk looks like a paper mountain and is as cold and unfriendly as one when I attempt to work or find something.

"How can you deal more effectively with all of this paperwork? Here are some suggestions:

*Don't bring it into your office in the first place. When you pick up your mail, try to read it or open it with a garbage can or recycling bin nearby, tearing up and discarding or recycling materials that you want to deal with quickly.

*Become ruthless and firm about what you do with paper in your office. Rather than putting it in a pile:

*Throw it out.

* Shred it and then throw it out.

*Recycle it.

*Pass it along to someone else.

*Scan it and save it electronically.

*File it.

*Set aside a regular time to sort through your paperwork.

*Get off mailing lists or cancel publications (or switch to the electronic version)."

--Jan Yager, Work Less Do More

Page 85

Readers will find chatty paragraphs, self assessment tests and logs to enable them to reach out and grab those time management problems by the scruff. Once the reader knows the problem, he or she will be led to the answer of fixing it. By the time the reader completes the book and retakes the test early on in the book, "How do you currently rate your time management skills?" answers will be quite different.

Even if the reader finds it impossible to stick to the plan, he or she will find that mere exposure to the knowledge in this workbook, written in an understandable, no nonsense way, may be enough to help with the most basic of the management problems. This book will make a difference in how things are looked at - that is if you can squeeze out the time to read it!

Christina Johns

Clark's Bookshelf

Robert Greer
Fulcrum Publishing
9781555916893 $24.95

"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty "Hi-yo, Silver!" The Lone Ranger! " is the opening line of the old-time western radio show which was popular and began in 1938. This is a modern western novel by Robert Greer. "Spoon" is the leading character who is half-black and half-Indian. While hitchhiking through Colorado in search of his roots, he gets a ride from T J Darley, son of a local rancher in Hardin, Colorado. The story is related through T J and he tells of their immediate bonding as friends.

As the story unfolds in true western fashion, we learn the identity of Spoon, a nickname shortened from Arcus Witherspoon. He is a Vietnam veteran, a talented ranch hand, and most of all clairvoyant when necessary. His past is somewhat spotty because of time spent in jail for tangling with a peace officer. Spoon feels that he was set-up by the lawmen, but now realizes he cannot challenge them without dire consequences.

Greer demonstrates ranching is an extremely trying business. When ranchers by the name of Darley find someone who is willing to work hard, live in a bunk house, and get paid $500 per month plus room and board, they hire him at once. Spoon demonstrates his skills by doing unusual things which help to save the ranch from ruin. He formulates a plan for irrigating a pasture by diverting streams with pipes and equipment which had lain dormant for some time. He foresaw a drought coming and took corrective action before it occurred.

Trouble comes to the valley in the form of a coal mining company who is trying to obtain rights to mine from the ranchers. They all start out agreeing that the beautiful serenity of the valley could be destroyed by strip mining. The Darley's ranch has the most plentiful deposit of coal and they become the most adamant in denying the mining operation. Conflict abounds with the mining company, the Darleys, and other ranchers. Those who left the anti-mining coalition have capitulated and signed contracts which allow the company to get coal from their lands. Hired hooligans trespass on Darley's land and this leads to an exciting conclusion.

Greer has written several C J Floyd mystery-detective books which have been reviewed, among them, "Blackbird Farewell". These books were immensely enjoyed and are a good demonstration of his writing abilities. "Spoon" is a worthy read. However, it seems that the adventures of C J Floyd are more entertaining. This is a modern western with shoot `em up bang-bang features which you will enjoy as in the cloud of dust the masked man rides away always with the same ending, who was that man? Spoon, of course!

Heaven's Keep
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
a Division of Simon & Shuster, Inc.
9781416556763 $25.00

William Kent Krueger is an award-winning author of eight previous Cork O'Connor mysteries, including "Red Knife" and "Thunder Bay". "Heaven's Keep" is a tale of suspense and Cork's relentless determination to find out what happened when his wife's charter plane vanishes from radar over the Wyoming Rockies. This investigation has become personal.

Cork is an ex-sheriff and his wife Jo is an attorney representing tribal leaders. She leaves Casper, Wyoming with 6 Indian clients to attend a conference of American Indians to draft recommendations for supervision of their casinos.

They were in the air for 45 minutes when trouble came. The plane jolts. The pilot assures them there is nothing to worry about. "They all wait…the left wing dips…and the plane begins to roll".

Cork and his son Stephen receive unfortunate news that Jo's plane is missing. They leave their home in Northern Minnesota in an effort to assist in the search for the plane. Due to the menacing snowy conditions, the search becomes extremely dangerous. Snow drifts were "deep enough to cover a school" and search planes could have their wings ripped off by canyon ridges. Cork hated this part of the country "the way the land rose up like walls . . . how all that emptiness could easily swallow a plane and its passengers."

After extensive air and ground searches, and no sign of wreckage, Cork and his son return to Minnesota. Six months pass and then Cork is contacted by the wife of the Indian pilot and her attorney. He is told by them that they are convinced the pilot was not her husband and they have video proof. Following their meeting, he mulls over the fact that maybe whoever was behind this knew about the charter flight. Maybe he would find Jo alive!

The plot intensifies on the Arapaho Indian Reservation when Cork returns to Wyoming. His strong Ojibwe heritage becomes useful as he tracks suspicious characters. Some of the suspects are found murdered. Lies and deception haunt Cork's investigation as law enforcement and Indians deliberately mislead him.

Intriguing and helpful to the exploration are Stephen's dream and visions by Indian mystics. Following these revelations, Cork is able to piece together clues which aid him in his search for the missing plane and passengers. The search party saw a rectangular depression in the snow near what appeared to be an air strip. They started digging by hand and struck metal. All tribal leaders' bodies were found shot dead. Jo was not in the plane, only her briefcase was discovered.

Krueger has written a suspenseful story of corruption, fraud, murder, and the men who thought "they were untouchable". The author has commanding grasp of Indian morals and spiritual culture. He is skillful in portraying beauty, time and place.

A mystic ending and a great read. This book is highly recommended.

The Glass of Time
Michael Cox
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
9780393337167 $14.95

Author Michael Cox has left a legacy for the world to read. He died in March, 2009. "The Meaning of Night" published in 2005 is followed by his sequel, "The Glass of Time". They both stand alone. Reading the first novel embellishes relationships, but character development is handled with clarity in his subsequent book.

"The Glass of Time" is a Victorian tale of inheritance, blood lines, lies, deceit, and murder.

One of the most powerful families in England since 1264 is the Baron or Baroness of Tansor. It is now 1876 and the 26th Baroness of Tansor resides on the great estate of Evenwood. The mansion is described as a house without end, filled with opulent riches.

Widow Emily Duport, the 26th Baroness, is an elegant and beautiful Lady. While her demeanor is haughty and full of pride, great sorrow haunts this lady. Many years before, her fiance Phoebus Daunt was murdered. The Baroness has two handsome adult sons, Perseus, heir to her title and his younger brother Randolph.

Enter the heroine; orphan Esperanza Alice Gorst, who has little knowledge of her parents. She is raised by her loving guardian, the wealthy Madame de L'Orme of France and is tutored most of her life.

Madam de L'Orme demands that 19-year-old Esperanza travel to England to secure the position of lady's maid to the Baroness. Thus begins the secretive mission her guardian describes as the "great task". Esperanza knows she must watch, listen and report all that she discovers at Evenwood to her guardian.

When Miss Gorst is interviewed for the position, the Baroness finds her to be of good breeding. She is of the opinion that Esperanza's dire circumstances require her to apply for the lowly position of lady's maid. Esperanza secures the position.

Esperanza wins the trust and friendship of the Baroness which allows her to accomplish covert missions of a secretive nature. One of her assignments is to deliver a note to a woman who she discovers is drunk and shabbily dressed. Later, the woman is found dead, floating in the River Thames.

Esperanza accompanies her mistress for a short stay in London. While there, she sees Mr. Vyse, a lawyer. She perceives him to be an unscrupulous character who is often an uninvited guest at Evenwood and someone that the Baroness barely tolerates. While following Mr. Vyse through the streets of London, she observes him entering a seedy tavern in a highly unsavory area. There, he meets a man who she later learns is a known murderer for hire.

During her service to the Baroness, exploring the mansion becomes an intriguing pastime for Esperanza. She finds a secret passage, an unusual key, and important documents.

The "great task" is completed with all of its implications and complications.

This novel is mysterious, romantic, full of secrets, and a myriad of dangerous encounters. Definitely a must read for those who enjoy the pageantry of the Victorian era.

The Bread Machine Bible
Anne Sheasby
Sterling Publishing Co.,Inc.
9781844837953 $19.95

"The Bread Machine Bible" by Anne Sheasby is a must-have for your dining pleasure at home. With over 100 recipes of basic to exotic breads for the expert or novice, she has combined them into a comprehensive and well-illustrated guide for making bread.

Bakeries in many of the communities have been combined into supermarkets and the local bakery is quickly fading into the past. Along with this, has been the disappearance of specialty breads which many of us have enjoyed through the years. With increasing prices for those being sold at the major chain stores and the lack of old-time texture, we are being pushed into creating our own alternatives.

One of the best gifts for your home this holiday season is a new bread machine and a copy of this book. Directions on how to make these breads are straight-forward and easy to follow. They not only taste good, but are good looking. Many of the breads are mixed in the bread machine on the dough cycle and then placed in the oven for baking. This adds to the fun of being able to show off your creation to company.

Anne Sheasby has written over 15 cookbooks, is an accomplished authority on cooking, and is able to tell others how to make healthy foods at home. Anne is well-known throughout the United Kingdom, where she resides, and her books are esteemed world-over as being authoritative and practical.

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
Lifelong Books
Da Capo Press
9781600940484 $17.95

"Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" is a delicious sequel to "Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World" and "Veganomicon" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. These best-selling authors have compiled recipes which would whet any appetite and still be healthy.

Acceptance of vegan eating habits has become more than just the fancy of "yuppies"; they are finding their way to the palettes of ordinary folks who are concerned about eating heart-healthy.

Cookies are the mainstay of snacking, desert or just a treat at anytime. When you see the beautiful pictures, you can just about taste them.

Holiday time has started with Thanksgiving Day and continues through New Years. What better way to entertain at home than with a favorite beverage and a cookie which is easy to make. When you have friends over or decide to share a snack at work, here is an exceptional recipe:

Caramel Pecan Bars:


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
A big pinch of salt
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine,
slightly softened


3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 1/2 -cups dark brown sugar
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons melted non-hydrogenated
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with alumi num foil, making sure the foil completely covers the sides of the pan, with about 2 inches folded outside over the edges. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.


1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives held together to cut in the margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press down evenly and very firmly, making sure to press the mixture all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until firm and very lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside.


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and nondairy milk until foamy. Stir in the dark brown sugar, brown rice syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture onto the crust, using a spatula to spread the topping evenly.

2. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is rapidly bubbling. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then move it to the refrigerator to finish cooling and setting. Chill for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.

3. To slice completely cooled bars, grab hold of the foil and carefully lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a heavy cutting board. Peel away the foil and cut bars with a heavy, sharp knife.

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

The Brass Verdict
Michael Connelly
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780446401197 $9.99 1-800-986-8666

I remember my book review on Michael Connelly with Overlook and he has managed to keep his books on a high benchmark level. He wrote with masterful keyboard skills of the crime genre by continuing with Scarecrow and this Harry Bosch novel. I am prepared for a good read, but Michael Connelly has created a tough writing plane for his competitor crime novel writers. When you reach the New York Bestsellers List and have such a huge following you must be doing something right. I selected a good choice to see his latest paperback effort I missed in hardback. I will be after his latest book Nine Dragons when I space my reading to enjoy that book. I noticed it made the bestseller list on the New York Bestsellers.

Defense Attorney Mickey Haller's life changes with over two years of wrong turns with a gut shot that puts him in rehabilitation with abuse of pain killers. Haller's earlier notoriety involves a case of a double murder. The murder suspect, who was Barnett Woodson got acquitted, and that changed the life of a states' prosecutor. His loss of the Woodson case ended his career as a state prosecutor. Prosecutor Jerry Vincent later decides to join private practice as Haller's colleague. Now the colleague gets murdered, and Haller is put on case load by the chief judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. This is explained by a clause in California's bar rules due to a transfer or sale of a law practice. Haller is to be the second in this standard contract of representation. He is directed to check on the cases pending, and bumps into Harry Bosch rummaging through files to get information on the murder of Jerry Vincent. Haller inherits one of his biggest cases which is to defend a Hollywood producer accused of multiple murders. He also gets more pressure when he learns that Vincent's killer may be coming after him. As the tension mounts with courtroom drama danger lurking in the background, Haller and Bosch see the best results when they have to join forces as a team.

Michael Connelly has written twenty four books including two anthologies and one non-fiction. His best selling series include the Harry Bosch novels and one of his novels was made into a major motion picture entitled Blood Work. He has numerous awards for his journalism including an Edgar Award, a Nero Wolfe prize, a Macavity Award, An Anthony Award and the 2009 Carvalho Prize for his books. His latest Novel is Nine Dragons now on the best selling list. I plan to read that book, allowing some time in between to keep this fine author fresh on my reading list.....

The Associate
John Grisham
Published By Bantam Dell
A Division of Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway-3rd Floor, New York NY 10019
9780440243823 $9.99

I first discovered John Grisham when I picked up his second novel of this little known author, The Firm. I then followed with his first book A Time to Kill. I continued through out his writings of legal fiction and general fiction. He proved his skill, and I liked it when he got back to the legal genre again. I always enjoyed his brisk narrative prose and confident style of a good storyteller pulling the reader right into his novels and keeping them turning the pages wanting more. His next book returns to the first book with short stories and his storytelling keeps him on the New York Bestseller List with Ford County: Stories .

Young upstart attorney Kyle McAvoy is looking at a promising career, and he is placed in a compromising position due to an earlier dark secret. This could destroy his way of life including risk to himself. A video is used as blackmail to ruin him, if he doesn't do the bidding of the conspirators. They do offer him a position in the world's largest law firm as an associate, and if he accepts he will be eventually working against two large defense contractors in a dispute worth billions. Kyle is squeezed between criminal forces using him, the FBI, and his new law firm. The conspiracy might prove to be difficult even for him with his intellect to get out of this problem in one piece.

John Grisham started with his first novel A Time to Kill and has written twenty novels most of them in the legal fiction genre and others in good fiction story telling. He does it with a good page turning style and keeps the story flowing with good characters and his legal stories pull deep down at the moral fiber of his main characters making it easy to root for the evil in the adversaries in his stories. His next book is a collection of short stories named Ford County: Stories and I continue to find his books good interesting narrative stories.

Daniel Allen

Debra's Bookshelf

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts
Cici McNair
Center Street
9781599951874 $22.99 368 pages

In her book Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts, Cici McNair introduces readers to her very unusual life. As the title suggests, she's a private detective, and stories about her experiences as a detective form the backbone of her memoir: her initial attempts to break into the business, stake-outs with guys with thick accents and foul mouths, investigations into counterfeit property or accusations of rape or lunchtime shenanigans, wearing a wire in the diamond district, in seedy warehouses, in a massage parlor. The author walks us through her role in a great many cases. It's fascinating, real-life stuff, the nitty gritty of detection, from paperwork to phone calls to the innumerable times the author has had to fake her way through a meeting to get information. She assumes an identity, swallows the information she'll need to pass herself off, and walks into a dangerous situation to lie her way through it and get her mark to say something incriminating on tape.

Woven through this main narrative are two equally interesting threads. The first has to do with the author's family: brothers and a sister whom an ex-homicide detective and friend of McNair's described as "the worst people I've ever met in my life"; Cici's mother, a likable, genteel Southern lady who was, however, abused during parts of her life; and the author's father, a menacing figure for whom an early death was insufficient reward. Finally there are the pre-detective days, which McNair spent rootless, traveling around the world and consorting with exciting characters--gun-runners and princes and the occasional fiance. She's been suspected more than once in her life of working for the CIA, which is not the sort of thing that's said behind the back of your average suburban housewife.

McNair's book is--I'll use the word again--a fascinating read. It could have been a bit shorter: those descriptions of the guys she's worked with--and in particular, some of their dialogue--could have been cut back. (Readers should persevere if they're put off by this in the book's early chapters.) But I'm very happy to have read it.

The Time Machine
H.G. Wells
Amazon Kindle
9780141439976 $9.00

With a Kindle in one's hands, downloading and reading many older books that are no longer in copyright is both free and simple. Having thus come into possession of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine the other day by way of experimenting with the Kindle, I found myself reading it at once, and so, almost without meaning to begin it, I've finished. In the book, first published in 1895, an unidentified narrator relates what he and others were told by the so-called Time Traveller, at whose house they were accustomed to congregate on successive Thursdays. The Time Traveller had built a time machine which he showed to the assembled one week. The following week, arriving at his own house for dinner late, sockless, and apparently injured, he told them of the experiences he'd had in the future since their last meeting. The Time Traveller had in fact gone very far into the future, looking to discover the ultimate fate of the earth, but he spent most of his time in the year 802,701. There he was greeted by strange descendants of humanity, the Eloi--small, childlike, sexless, pasty people, all of them having "the same girlish rotundity of limb." They spoke an uncomplicated, mellifluous language and all dressed similarly. (Here is the antecedent for that Star Trek trope, noted by Jerry Seinfeld, wherein everyone in the future always wears the same outfit.) The Eloi were strangely uninquisitive, apparently fearless, and they seemed to live in a sort of paradise, where man had thoroughly subjugated nature to his needs and, having nothing further to fear or for which to strive, had become soft. So, at least, the Time Traveller thought at first. But his first impressions turned out to be horribly mistaken, and the novel, in the end, is deeply pessimistic about the ultimate progress of mankind, Wells having taken the development of the relationship between the haves and the have-nots to its distressing extreme.

Gone Tomorrow
P.F. Kluge
9781590202593 $14.95

The bulk of P.F. Kluge's Gone Tomorrow purports to be a manuscript that was found among the belongings of the late George Canaris, whose three previous books had landed him in the canon of must-read 20thcentury authors. Canaris became a writer in residence at a no-name Ohio college at the height of his fame, eager for a place that would give him the space to write his magnum opus, "The Beast," as he referred to it. But against all expectations Canaris stayed on at the school for more than thirty years and never published another book. His failure to come out with anything new lent him a Salinger-esque mystique, but his status slowly slipped from celebrity author on campus to beloved but has-been professor.

The manuscript Canaris left for his literary executor, Mark May, to find in his freezer isn't The Beast. It's an account of his last year at the college (2005), when he was forced out by the administration to make room for new blood. These chapters in the present time alternate with those describing his earlier years at the school, so that it becomes an account of Canaris' life and career across thirty years of teaching. This book within a book, also titled Gone Tomorrow, is preceded by a twenty-odd page introduction supplied by May, who explains the background of the manuscript and offers a precis of Canaris's career. May introduces the idea that Canaris was wont to blur the boundary between fact and fiction in his writing, so that one enters Canaris's narrative ready to question the veracity of the account. The principal question is, was Canaris in fact working on The Beast all those years, as he claims in his book? Or was he perpetrating a kind of fraud for decades and buttressing it with a final manuscript that left readers unsure of the truth?

George Canaris, dead already when Kluge's book begins, comes to life in the pages of his memoir. He is an entirely believable character whose death we come after the fact to regret. And the book offers a lovely discussion of the seasons of a life, the ephemerality of experience, the importance of memory. My one complaint is that the book should have ended with the end of Canaris's manuscript, which would have left the mysteries of The Beast and Canaris's veracity intact. Instead, the book closes with an afterword by May that neatly ties up our questions, or most of them, and in the process, I think, diminishes the impact of the book. Better to be left guessing in the end.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much
Allison Hoover Bartlett
Riverhead Books
9781594488917 $24.95

Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a quick, readable look at the world of book collection. She dips into the history of bibliomania and provides vignettes of other characters, but mostly the book is an account of two men and the author's experiences in getting to know them. Ken Sanders is the owner of a rare book store in Salt Lake City who served for six years as the security chair of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association. He embraced that role enthusiastically, improved methods for alerting members of the organization to recent thefts during his tenure, and doggedly pursue done particular repeat offender. John Charles Gilkey, like other bibliomaniacs, is obsessed with adding to his collection of rare books, but in his case the books have tended to come free of charge, courtesy of the sorry souls who were unlucky enough to have once handed over their credit cards to Gilkey when he worked at Saks Fifth avenue. Gilkey methodically collected their numbers and identities and used the cards, months later, to fund hotel stays and book-buying junkets.

Bartlett spent a lot of time interviewing both men, and while neither quite comes alive on the page, Gilkey emerges as an interestingly flawed human being, possessed of a curiously selective sense of morality. For him, stealing rare books is illegal, perhaps, but hardly immoral, a means of evening the score against an unfair world that has not made him rich enough to own priceless books without stealing them. His conscience about his misdeeds is clear. Bartlett spends some time with Gilkey's mother and sister as well--more exploration of this dysfunctional family would have made for a more interesting book. Gilkey's mother, at least, seems to be thoroughly in denial about her son, whom she praises for his outstanding posture.

I don't really get the allure of collecting myself--books or anything else. Like the author, I understand that books can carry secondary meanings as physical objects: a book may be loved because of its place in your or someone else's history. But I don't relate to books in the same way that collectors apparently do, desiring to possess particular copies, and so I approach this story as something of an outsider. Bartlett's book is not a hard-hitting investigative piece by any means, and it probably won't offer anything new to readers familiar with book-collecting from their own experience or from other treatments of the subject. But for the non-specialist it's a good light introduction to the topic and to the lives of the two very different men whom the author profiles.

Dead Connection
Alafair Burke
Henry Holt
9780312944810 $7.99

In Alafair Burke's stand-alone police procedural Dead Connection, rookie NYPD policewoman Ellie Hatcher is temporarily assigned to homicide to assist in the investigation of a series of related murders. Ellie is just the demographic the killer seems to be interested in--thirty-something, single--but Ellie's assignment to the case may have more to do with her new partner's tendency to court media attention than to her potential as bait. As the daughter of a policeman who allegedly killed himself after years of obsessing over another serial killer, the press can be expected to lap up details about her personal life along with news about the case.

The victims in the case are apparently being stalked by someone they've met on an online dating site,, which is headquartered in New York and thus conveniently located for the investigation. The book's plot certainly makes it timely--the scary side of internet relationships and identity theft being much in the news. Ellie is a likable character--devoted to her family and dedicated to her job. The plot of the story is a complex one. Perhaps too complex at times, actually, because in the last quarter of the book, when all the loose ends are being tied up, the who- and how-dunits revealed, it takes some concentration to remember just who everybody is and what victim was killed for what reason. Less than 24 hours after finishing the book, I'd be hard-pressed to provide a summary of the various murders without rereading. The book slows down at the end, as well, or at least it did for me, and becomes a bit of a slog. There was one detail that seemed unrealistic to me, Ellie's too quick assumption that a pseudonym used by the killer was selection based on a popular translation of a Biblical text. Otherwise the story held together well (I think, though to be certain I'd have to diagram all the facts related to those different victims). It's certainly not an edge-of-your-seat read, but perfectly readable, if slow going toward the end.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Erica's Bookshelf

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the first marines, and the secret mission of 1805
Richard Zacks
114 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
9781401300036 $25.95

Zacks vividly recounts the events surrounding the 1805 mission to overthrow the ruler of Tripoli and replace him with his brother. At the time, most countries paid tribute to the Barbary pirates of Northern Africa, rather than risk attacks on merchant ships in the Mediterranean. But the young American government is short of cash and, after the humiliating capture of over 200 seamen by the pirates, decides to try a new tack. The story focuses primarily on the memorable figure of William Eaton, leader of the land expedition. He is an officer, gentleman, patriot, and hot-headed man of action whose sheer force of personality extracts him from many a tight corner and leads him into many more. In his crisp, vibrant writing, Zacks brings each character to pulsating life. Though contributing substantial amounts of satirical humor of his own, he also includes many amusing and witty excerpts from his subjects' personal letters and papers. This is no dry tome written for scholars, but rather a tale of unparalleled adventure to delight any reader. Those who enjoy "The Pirate Coast" should also try "Chronicles of the Frigate Macedonian, 1809-1922" by James T. De Kay.

Scared to Death: from BSE to global warming: how scares are costing us the Earth
Christopher Booker & Richard North
80 Maiden Lane, Suite 704, New York, NY 10038
9780826486141 $29.95

"Scared to Death" documents the scare culture that has emerged over the past 30 years. According to the authors, a "scare" is the unjustified fear produced in the general public when a combination of special interest groups, politicians, and the media exaggerate the dangers posed by a contaminated food product, new disease, etc. Numerous examples demonstrate a consistent pattern: a scientifically proven risk becomes wholly disconnected from its factual roots and escalates to a point where almost no one is willing to listen to those who present rational arguments disproving the myth of imminent death and destruction. At this moment the government steps in to initiate reforms and regulations to protect the public from a danger which is primarily theoretical or even imaginary. That is when the damage is truly done. A mass of business-crippling, economy-crushing regulations emerge after each scare which do little to enhance public safety.

Well-written and thoroughly researched, the book makes an insightful read. Unfortunately, most of the examples come from Great Britain where the authors both live. American readers may find these topics less interesting and the government agencies involved difficult to distinguish from each other. However, a couple of the most substantial chapters, those covering asbestos and global warming, do discuss the United States at length and will certainly interest any reader who follows social issues or politics. Christopher Booker has another book coming out in December 2009 called "The Real Global Warming Disaster," also published by Continuum.

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Timothy Keller
Dutton Books/ Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525950790 $19.95

Almost everyone knows the Biblical story of the prodigal son who runs away from home to recklessly spend his inheritance only to return penniless. Countless Sunday school lessons use it as an illustration of God's willingness to forgive those who realize the error of their ways after living lives of profligate dissipation. However, Jesus did not intend his parable to be solely about the younger, wayward son, but equally about his outwardly more obedient elder brother. Keller explains that it is a story of God's extravagant (prodigal) love for both the elder and younger brother. In a few short, easy-to-read chapters, he revolutionized the context and meaning of a sadly misunderstood parable. Though Keller calls it a story of two lost sons, he focuses far more attention on the elder brother's side of the parable. This book will be of special interest to those who, like the elder brother, strictly follow all the rules in hopes of earning God's love but are dissatisfied with the results.

Erica Dorsey

Gary's Bookshelf

Gentle Women through the lens of Douglas J. Nesbitt
Sandra K. T. Crawford
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449608 $49.99

I've reviewed many of the books of Legacy Publishing Company but I have to say this is one of the most amazing coffee table books I've ever had the pleasure to critique Sandra K. T. Crawford combines many thoughts and the pictures of numerous women by photographer Douglas J. Nesbitt. All of the photos are beautiful ladies of all ages in black and white that add a depth to the overall look of the book. Some of the people Crawford used to convey in words the idea of beauty are Henry David Thoreau, Jane Seymour, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kahlil Gibran. Gentle Women is a remarkable combination of several art forms in one package. This work of art is a perfect gift for any occasion.

I Alex Cross
James Patterson
Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316018784 $27.95

This time the case is personal for Alex Cross. A relative of the detective has been brutally murdered. Cross doggedly pursues the killer and nothing will stop him from solving this case. Not even a summons by the president of the United States. Patterson shows once again why he is one of the most popular authors of all time. Readers will not want to put this one down as they roar through the pages to the exciting conclusion.

Mr. Monk In Trouble
Lee Goldberg
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451229052 $22.95

Adrian Monk is back in a new novel that is great fun. He is asked by Captain Stottlemeyer to go to the town of Trouble and look into the murder of a museum guard who was a retired SFPD cop. What he uncovers is both interesting and revealing to his own family history. The novel races along with many twists and turns along the way. Natalie, Monks' assistant, Captain Stottlemeyer, and Lieutenant Disher, are involved in solving the case. The author who has written some of the episodes of the TV show continues to show different facets of the obsessive compulsive detective. One of the funniest is when Monk gives children, who knock on his door for Halloween, something totally different from the usual candy. He also solves a murder as only he can do. This is one of the funniest in the series of novels.

The Greatest Show on Turf
Robert Mullen
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432744878 $15.95

I am not a big fan of the game because I do not really know who plays on what team these days so this book was a mish mash of players names and games the St. Louis Rams played during the 1999- 2001 seasons. He talks about several super bowls the team played but it is very hard to tell if the Rams won or lost the games. All in all the author could have done a better job of telling the Ram's story. The book that should have been a lot of fun is very disappointing. I also would have like to known a little bit about the author. He gives us no information about himself.

The Fury
Jason Pinter
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778326274 $7.99

Henry Parker is back and this time it's personal. As he is leaving his newspaper, a man tries to talk to him but Henry brushes him off. Later the man is found dead. Henry covers the story and learns the man was a brother Henry never knew about. As he delves further, he finds that his father is accused of the man's murder. The story is another great tale in the Henry Parker series with a lot of twists and turns along the way that will please anyone who wants a fast paced read.

When Lighting Strikes
Michele Cameron
Genesis Press Inc
P.O. Box 101, Columbus, MS 39703
978158571369 $16.99

Cameron once again fills her novel with believable characters caught up in emotional conflicts. This time it seems that anyone close to Grace Foxfire ends up dying. Her latest is Livingston Lockhart. Her grief is so overwhelming that she feels she will never again be close to anyone. Jet, a friend from childhood she felt was always like a brother to her is at her side to help her through her sorrow. What begins to happen is that they both begin to feel something but she is so afraid to move forward she finds that she deliberately pushes him away because of her fear that he will be the next one to die. The novel races along with a very interesting ending. Cameron is a master of the roller coaster romance novel.

Alex Kava
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9

Wow, this is one of the scariest novels ripped from the headlines of our fight against terrorism. Maggie O'Dell and her team at the FBI are the target of a threat that they misread. A deadly virus has been used against them by copy a cat criminal. The story is fast paced with short chapters in the James Patterson style. Kava takes the reader along for the evil ride with a great story that is a very well paced read that will have readers wondering who will survive this deadly attack.

Depraved Indifference
Joseph Teller
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
97807783 2691 5 $7.99

This third novel is the best in the series. Criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker now suspended, has the toughest case he has ever tackled. The evidence is overwhelming against his client's husband who killed nine people in a car accident. In the middle of his suspension, he has set up shop as a private investigator. He begins to nose around and finds a lot of things are not what they seem. Later he is reinstated and can try the case in court. The events get very complicated as he defends his client. Teller has written a fast paced legal tale that has a fascinating array of characters in an intricate complex set of circumstances.

Christmas Diamonds
Devon Vaughn Archer
Kinani Press
9780373861392 $5.99

The author once again tells a tale that is a gem in the romance genre. Chase McCord, a jeweler, needs an interior decorator to re-do his home. Enter Paula Devine the same woman who insulted him in a coffee shop just before their meeting at his home. They decide to start over again and take the relationship to a professional level. The author treats the reader to interesting characters through some complicated issues to a very satisfying ending.

Libroman The Unknown SuperHero
Created by Bonnie and Noel Pantely
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, Oklahoma 73064
9781606964811 $7.99 888 361-9473

What if there was someone who made it their quest to eliminate all books? This is a fun little book by a mother and daughter who combine their talents to tell a wonderful children's story that has a lot of underlying concepts for kids.

Who Hired These People
Peter A. Laporta
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200, Bloomington IN 47403
9781438956992 $14.50 1-800-839-8640

My thoughts on this book are: we are a service economy that does not do it very well and how did any of these people get the jobs they seem to keep. The stories are all true of companies that do not know how to take care of the customer. Some of the situations are a Dunkin Doughnuts that cannot make a decent cup of coffee, a Wal Mart where the manager told the customer to learn Spanish before he came in again, a customer has a difficult time cashing a Bank of America check at one of their branches, or the restaurant where the customer had great service at lunch but had a horrible experience at dinner the same day. Some of the things are laughable at how stupid the situations are. The author has so many companies that he talks about all, are negative. It is amazing that so many places stay in business based on the way they handle a bad situation. To be fair minded the author talks about several places that do give great service One company that stands out is Darden Restaurants that go that extra mile to keep customers coming back to their establishments One place that should be in the next volume is Five Guys. Yes, that's the one President Obama recently gave a thumbs up because he went for takeout with a journalist from NBC. Of course they got excellent service. But very few of us can be president, get good service, and not all locations of Five Guys are the same and Five Guys is very corporate minded. They have their rules and regulations on how to run their business instead of making the customer the most important priority.. Five Guys management and all other enterprises should use this book as required reading for everyone who works there

The Storyteller II
Erik J Ekstrom
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432741006 $14.95

I was open to reviewing this book until I thumbed through the pages and found a comment attributed to me by Erik J Ekstrom. First of all, that is not what I said exactly and the author added words to the statement. This is what I said about his first novel "The Storyteller:" "The first part of this book had the feel of a Ray Bradbury horror tale. But something happened from the second portion of the book to its end that made it very uninteresting. I could not figure out what the author was trying to accomplish. The writer led off with a weird cover, interesting characters, a dark and sinister situation but it is not enough to carry the book all the way through. "The Storyteller" becomes a look at different cultures that does not seem to tie in with the beginning of the novel. I was very disappointed and have very little interest in the sequel". After that the author asked me to take a look at his next novel in manuscript form which I did. I gave him a few comments. This is what Ekstrom put together in his haste to get the book published "The Storyteller II Chicago Blood is a very good book. Erik J. Ekstrom remains focused with believable characters and a terrific plot. He is an author reminiscent of Ray Bradbury. Great Job!" Where I was partial to the book and the author I am now closed minded to both. The door is closed to this writer because he has violated a trust between reviewer and author. I read the other comments he has and have to ask, did he do the same to those as well? Most people would say don't even bother to review his books. I felt that way at first. But I thought this is something other writers should learn not to do. His mistake is that he never let me see it before he published it so that I might correct it for the finished version Erik can shop around for someone else to critique his books

Suzy Lou The Prettiest Girl in the World
Doris N. Alston
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449271 $11.95

Miss Alston in her dedication says this is a novel. I have to correct her. This is a short something or other. It's not a novel because it is not long enough to qualify nor is it a novella or a short story because the writing is way too flat. It reads like a bad journalist account of a woman's life. It took me most of the book to learn that the main people are black. The account of a black woman who lived through so many different types of change in this country could have been interesting if the author had written it as a story with a beginning middle and an end. Her final statement reads the same as her beginning. What she has provided is an outline or a skeleton. It should have been a powerful narrative tale of an African American woman's journey through life. The cardboard people would have made great characters if the author had done a better job. This book is an insult to any writer who is seriously working to get published.

Gary Roen

Georganna's Bookshelf

Mrs. Scrooge
Carol Ann Duffy
Simon & Schuster
1240 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9781439176337 $12.99

A little red book for Christmas--it is perfect for stuffing in the top of a stocking. The author is Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and a professor at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Set in London, the now Widow Scrooge experiences an adventure similar to the one her famous husband had years ago. She reviews her life and learns about the true meaning of the spirit of Christmas and value of the gifts we give and receive.

This extended poem is set in contemporary times and amply illustrated with drawings by Beth Adams. Some violence and adult language. Not recommended for small children.

Deck the Halls/The Christmas Thief
Mary and Carol Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster/Scribner
1240 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9781439175675 $17.99

Two suspense novels for the holidays arrive in one volume. It is the first omnibus of the mother and daughter writing team, including their first collaborative efforts. Both books feature Regan Reilly, a young detective, and Alvirah Meehan another amateur sleuth on the trails of kidnappers. In the usual Clark fashion, the stories are filled with intrigue, danger and all sorts of twisty turns of events while still heartwarming holiday adventures.

Decoding the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction
Simon Cox
Simon & Schuster/Touchstone
1240 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9780743287272 $14.99

I had been advised to hold off reading this until I see Dan Brown's latest semiotic chase scenes. Cox must have had a preview in order to write his guide that appeared two months after Brown's book. The publicity says it was "2 weeks from manuscript to the final printed book...." No doubt the "extensive research" on which the book is based probably derived from his previous Cracking the DaVinci Code and Illuminating Angels & Demons. Maybe I won't wait, though. Subjecting my self to the DaVinci book was torture enough. What could it hurt to cut to the solution?

Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife
Francine Prose
9780061430794 $24.99

A top novelist, Prose may be better known for her New York Times bestseller, Reading Like a Writer. This new nonfiction offering opens eyes to view Frank's little book as something more and other than just a girl's diary. For instance, did you know Frank's work is published in three different versions? Not languages (dozens of those), but editions with differing material. This happened partly because Frank was of a tender age, training herself to write and rewrite her experiences as a novel. Prose proposes that Frank was already an author before her short life ended all too soon.

Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life's Terms
Zig Ziglar and Julie Norman
Simon & Schuster/Howard Books
1240 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9781439142196 $23.99

In this slim volume, the current pope of positive thinking and his daughter build on a traumatic event in Ziglar's life to convince others with similar struggles that life is still worth living, even if it is on life's terms. "More inspiring" is how Ziglar describes his life since a traumatic fall one night caused vertigo and brain injury. At last, the dramatic changes forced him to take the advice he had dispensed for years. The authors also compiled stories of their friends' ordeals to offer hope to others faced with struggles of their own.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Business Books
Bert Holtje
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781592578795 $18.95

I think this book will have application to writing any nonfiction book, although the author says not. It begins with testing your idea and offers a comprehensive guide through all publishing stages, ending with publicizing the finished product. Holtje was an agent for many years and has authored 12 books published under his own name and 20 others as either a ghostwriter or collaborator. This man knows whereof he speaks, even if not always grammatical.

Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives
Elizabeth Benedict
Simon & Schuster/Free Press
1240 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9781439108611 $24.99

The author was surprised to find that her fellow scribblers, often reclusive and cranky, were delighted to share stories of those who lured, shoved or cajoled them into becoming writers. Perhaps email played a part, enabling them to scowl behind their keyboards in pink fuzzy house slippers and pajamas, while punching out sweet tributes to their mentors and muses (few monsters lurked about despite the title).

This anthology includes heavy literary hitters like Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jane Smiley and Benedict herself. She is the author of five novels and currently on the faculty of the Columbia University MFA program. She has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Princeton and Swarthmore. She invited two Pulitzer Prize winners, six National Book Award recipients, and numerous authors of bestsellers and Oprah picks to share their early experiences with people and books that shaped their identities and careers.

Most books reviewed in this section were gifts from publishers.

Georganna Hancock, M.S.

Gloria's Bookshelf

Sand Sharks
Margaret Maron
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780446196116 $24.99 800-759-0190

In the newest in her Judge Deborah Knott mystery series, Margaret Maron has her protagonist attending a summer conference for North Carolina district court judges in Wrightsville Beach, not far from Wilmington. She gets more than she bargained for, however, when a fellow attendee is murdered, and Deborah is the one who stumbles over the body. It is not long before another judge is run down by a car whose driver sped off after striking him. The suspects in the first incident are numerous, as the victim was not a man of high principles, or ethics. As Deborah was a witness, and suspicion runs high that the two attacks are connected, she becomes involved in the search for the killer.

The author prefaces each chapter with a quote from a well-known jurist of years past - and I do mean past - ranging from Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) going back to late-era B.C. and early A.D. (My favorite of these - well, the one that had me grinning - began the penultimate chapter, to wit: "Our ancestors established the rule that all women, because of their weakness of intellect, should be under the power of guardians," attributed to Cicero (BC 106-47). The gorgeous descriptions of the Southern landscapes, and seascapes, only add to the enjoyment. Marital infidelity and dissolutions, and men with wandering eyes [among other body parts] - regardless of marital status - supply a theme running through the novel.

I greatly enjoyed the debates conducted in Deborah's mind between "the preacher who lives in the back of my head" and her "inner pragmatist." I have to admit that I found it a bit disconcerting when Deborah and her friends debate, shortly after the discovery of the body, if one or another of their colleagues might have killed the victim. On the other hand, at a later point, she and her fellow jurists feel that the initial attack "must have been a stranger killing because none of our fellow judges could possibly be a murderer." Or could it actually be one of their own? The mystery thus presented is a good one, and the characters well-drawn; the novel is thoroughly entertaining, and it is recommended.

The Water's Edge
Karin Fossum Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02166
9780151014217 $25.00 617-351-5003

The reader soon knows what is in store on the first page of the first chapter of this disturbing yet immensely absorbing novel by Karin Fossum, when we are told: "He did not wish to discard his burden casually on the ground; he wanted this precise cluster of trees, which would serve as a kind of monument. This last scrap of decency comforted him, he was still a human being, he had feelings, many of them good ones." This is a prelude to the discovery of the dead body of a young boy, nearly eight years old, in the forest near the edge of a lake, naked from the waist down.

This newest in the Inspector Sejer mystery series finds him and his assistant, Jacob Skarre, somewhat contemplative and trying to define what draws them to their work, asking Sejer "Why are we so drawn to the death of others? . . . Why do you think people are so fascinated by crime? Nothing sells better than murder and the worse it is, the more interested people are. What does that say about us?" As the search for the killer begins, Sejer expresses his main concern: that "this man will strike again."

Conrad Sejer is an interesting man, "always correct, reserved and polite. His formality might at times be mistaken for arrogance, unless you knew him well. Hardly anyone knew him well." He is the owner of a dog, "Frank Robert [great name for a dog!], a Chinese Shar Pei, [who] had the same temperament as his fellow countrymen; he was both inscrutable and dignified. In addition he never barked, but might occasionally emit a disgruntled snort."

The author again, as in her excellent "Black Seconds," captures the anguish that the loss of a child brings, of "the magnitude of losing those closest to you." In the aftermath of the tragedy, lives, and marriages, are completely torn asunder. The author also examines the often fraught relationships between children and their parents, and between husbands and wives. As I read, the hours, and the pages, flew. The book is highly recommended.

The Scarpetta Factor
Patricia Cornwell
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399156397 $27.95 800-847-5515,

It is the week before Christmas in New York City, and Kay Scarpetta, now working pro bono part-time for the NYC Office Medical Examiner, has become something of a celebrity, with guest appearances as senior forensic analyst on CNN and being offered her own show, to be called - what else? - The Scarpetta Factor. Two cases are hogging the headlines: The disappearance the day before Thanksgiving of Hannah Starr, a beautiful financial titan, now presumed dead, and the more recent discovery near Central Park of the body of Toni Darien, a young woman who was presumably jogging when she was attacked. But the forensics tell a different story. And then the possibility of a connection between the two women arises.

There are references to the current economic crisis, as well as the always-present post-9/11 trauma the city sustained, which are well-handled and realistic. There is much in the way of forensic and computer/tech-heavy information given. The stakes rise when a suspicious package is delivered to the apartment where Scarpetta and Wesley live, which may or may not be a bomb.

Possible spoilers follow for those who have not read the last book[s] in the series and plan to do so:

I must admit two things: I had not read the last several Scarpetta books [the current entry is book number 17] - had lost track of what was going on in the lives of the main characters in the series: Pete Marino, the cop who had, in an instant, gone from being the guy who is merely attracted to Scarpetta to the one who assaulted her before admitting to his alcoholism and going on the wagon, now working for the NYPD; Benton Wesley, Scarpetta's husband and former FBI profiler who had been declared dead to one and all, including his wife, and being put into the Witness Protection Program, now a prominent forensic psychologist affiliated with Harvard; Lucy, Scarpetta's brilliant niece who, among other things, "as a high-school wunderkind [had] helped design and program [for the FBI] the Criminal Artificial Intelligence Network," formerly with the ATF and now heading her own forensic computer investigative agency and involved in a romantic and increasingly problematic relationship with a female ADA; and of course, Scarpetta herself.


The second admission: I was disappointed in the book, finding the writing not up to my expectations, and frequently repetitive. I am reluctant to say I will probably not plan on reading the next book in the series [always assuming there will be one].

Blind Eye
Stuart MacBride
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312382643 $26.99

Detective Sergeant Logan ("Lazarus," or just "Laz" for short) McRae, of the Grampian Police, has his first big case in six months. It's been longer than that since his last, disastrous, one. And the present one isn't going well.

There are actually two big cases going on. One has to do with a caravan full of heavy-duty firepower. And the fear is that there is a turf war in the offing. The second one poses a more imminent problem. Six businessmen in the area have been attacked, in the most horrific way imaginable, having their eyes gouged out and the optic nerve and eye sockets burned. All the victims have been Polish, indicative of the anger, resentment and just plain racism at work in the community, mirroring hate crimes arising out of the issue of immigration and hatred of immigrants, both legal and otherwise, extant in many parts of the world.

McRae lives and works in Aberdeen [the author's place of residence as well]. He is tempted to begin a new relationship with another member of the police force, but is a little out of practice. He also is hoping for a promotion, since a Detective Inspector is about to retire and McRae is one of three thought to be in line for the job. But first he must catch the man they call "Oedipus." His DCI thinks he is a natural for it, given his "experience with serial weirdoes."

Detective Inspector Steel is going through her own personal issues, describing herself as "a forty-three-year-old lesbian chain-smoker who swears like a f***ing sailor and boozes it up every night." They make for an interesting team. Once again Mr. MacBride gives the reader a sometimes brutal but always interesting police procedural, sure to please his growing number of fans as well as gaining him new ones. Recommended.

206 Bones
Kathy Reichs
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9780743294393 $26.99 800-223-2336

Temperance Brennan, the forensic anthropologist and protagonist of numerous novels by Kathy Reichs and now a popular tv series, returns in a terrific new entry, the twelfth in the series. [It should be noted that the title refers to the number of bones in the human body.] Temperance is presently with the coroner's office in Montreal.

There are a number of mysteries presented from the first pages of the novel. The most immediate of these is that Temperance, as the book opens, is regaining consciousness and becoming aware that she is hog-tied and apparently in some tiny space, with no recollection of how, why, or by whom she has been taken. As she tries to regain some semblance of memory, she reconstructs the last cases she can remember working on, trying to gain some clue as to her situation.

The most personally troubling case had been that of a woman whose death had been ruled an accident, but because of an anonymous tip received by the dead woman's father [not coincidentally a blue-blood Chicagoan with political connections], who now believes the case, and Temperance's role in it, had been mishandled, to be more precise, "either botched or deliberately falsified." In addition, the bodies of three elderly women have turned up, in Canada, and the resulting investigations lead the police, and Temperance, to believe that a serial killer could be responsible for the deaths. The probe takes her variously to Montreal, Quebec and Chicago, the cities where Temperance has worked over the last few decades.

The writing is terrific throughout, e.g., when a head-turning statement is made, "at an observatory high up on Haleakala, an intergalactic monitoring device beeped softly, alerted by a black hole of silence that suddenly popped into being in a Midwestern suburb," and, speaking of herself, "Southern women are famous for knowing the right things to say. For conjuring words and phrases that put others at ease. It's a skill I admire but do not possess. That's being generous. When it comes to small talk, I suck." Oddly, when watching tv, with the book open on my lap [well, what do you do during commercial breaks??], I found myself both watching and reading about Temperance Brennan [a slightly disorienting experience]. And enjoying both mightily, I might add.


The Missing Ink
Karen E. Olson
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425227461 $6.99 800-847-5515

Karen E. Olson, the author of the Annie Seymour Mysteries, here introduces Brett Kavanaugh, owner of her own tattoo shop, The Painted Lady, in Las Vegas. Only in this instance, what happens in Las Vegas doesn't stay in Las Vegas, because there's murder involved. A young woman comes into Brett's shop one day to discuss getting "devotion ink," with a heart and the name of her fiancee, she explains. When the design is approved, she makes an appointment to return the following day to get the tattoo. When she doesn't keep the appointment, Brett doesn't think too much of it. But when the police arrive to question Brett, she realizes that the girl has disappeared, and Brett is the last one to have seen her, or at least the last one to have seen her alive. She is engaged to a scion of a very wealthy family, with the wedding scheduled to take place in a matter of days. The problem becomes evident when it is revealed that her fiance bears a name different from that in the requested tattoo.

A tattoo artist, or "tattooist," Brett firmly believes, "is sort of like being a psychiatrist. Some people come to us discreetly, and they expect discretion in return. I had to tread that line carefully." So she keeps some of the details to herself. Not easy when your brother is a police detective. The sibling situation is as follows: "Tim and I had been living together for two years now. He'd left our childhood home in northern New Jersey and moved to Vegas ten years ago, getting a job as a blackjack dealer. A year of that was enough, and he ended up at the police academy, training to be a cop like our father. It's in the DNA." Brett, on the other hand, after studying in art school, finds herself going in a different direction: "My canvas was alive, soft and moving, and my brush had turned into a machine with a needle on the end of it. The first time I'd touched that needle to my own skin, I knew this was what I wanted to do." And she is an exemplar of her art. Something about which the average reader may know little, but it is fascinating stuff.

When the missing girl's fiance comes to Brett's shop to try to track down his missing bride-to-be, and the police also think she knows more than she is telling, Brett becomes enmeshed in the investigation, which grows more complex when a dead woman is found, a woman with a curious connection with the missing girl. As Brett says, "Just call me Miss Marple." As the case proceeds, she thinks "This was just getting stranger and stranger." And I knew just what she meant. But the world of "ink" is more interesting than this reader would have thought, and the fluid writing and strong characters make the pages turn swiftly, the resolution tying up all ends neatly. I will look forward to the next entry in this offbeat new series, due out in April, 2010 and to be called Pretty in Ink. The protagonist is offbeat as well, and likeable, and the book is recommended.

Secrets to Die For
L. J. Sellers
Echelon Press
9055G Thamesmeade Rd., Laurel, MD 20723
9781590806548 $13.99

Detective Wade Jackson, of the Eugene, Oregon Police Department, plays a somewhat more prominent role in this newest novel by L. J. Sellers, while his girlfriend, R.N. Kera Kollmorgan, has a lesser one than in Ms. Sellers' prior book, The Sex Club. They each make terrific protagonists, equally altruistic and idealistic, despite their jobs.

When the dead body of Raina Hughes, a 20-year-old social worker, is found, suspicion immediately falls on the ex-con father of Josh Gorman, the eight-year-old boy she has been assigned to monitor in her volunteer position as a children's support advocate. The boy had just been placed back in the care of his parents, and Raina has been refused admittance to their home so she can confirm that all is well. She had soon thereafter been brutally attacked and raped, and Detective Jackson is certain that the boy's father is responsible. He suspects that there may be a connection between the murder and two recent rape cases in the area, but fails to find any connection among the victims.

Jackson, the father of a 14-year-old daughter and divorced from her substance-abusing mother, is particularly affected by the brutal attacks, all too easily envisioning his own daughter as a potential victim. He becomes convinced that the boy's father is responsible, and no effort is spared to try to find the evidence to prove it. Although it appears that there is a serial rapist on the loose, the author allows the merest hint that there may be more than one assailant at work here, just enough to keep the reader off balance. As well, just possibly, the ex-con may not be the rapist/murderer. The brutality of the attacks is escalating, and they are happening with greater frequency. When another young woman goes missing, Jackson becomes desperate to find the man behind it all. Jackson allows his fear for his daughter to distract him, as yet another cop finds his family situation lessening his concentration on the case as well, with nearly fatal consequences. Among other things, the book is about dysfunctional families and the efforts to cope with them, as well as about some other things, secrets that must come out if the case is to be resolved. When Jackson begins to suspect that Gorman may be innocent, he realizes that if Gorman wasn't the killer, then someone else out there was raping and beating women, and another girl may be next if he doesn't solve this case quickly.

A young woman journalist helps Jackson find the clues that give him the connection he seeks, and then it becomes a matter of time and the chase to see if he can find the answer in time to stop another brutal death. The suspense accelerates at a commensurate speed, and secrets abound, further frustrating Jackson's efforts. The conclusion is one that shouldn't surprise many, but manages to do so nonetheless. Leaving Jackson and the reader to ask, how on earth could things have come to this?


Double Exposure
Michael Lister
Tyrus Books
1213 N. Sherman Ave., #306, Madison WI 53704,
9780982520932 $24.95 (hb) 978098252092-5, $14.95 (pb)

Remington James has returned to the small North Florida where he grew up, to mourn the death of his father and take over the care of his mother, now seriously ill. Guilty of "mistakenly putting his camera down as if it were a childhood toy he had outgrown," he finally decides to do what his mother had always done and what he now realizes he was meant to do. As he explains: "He'd wanted to be an adventure photographer for over a decade." Mr. Lister's eloquent evocation of the beauty of the area and its non-human inhabitants makes clear to the reader what has drawn his protagonist back and easily explains James' return to the profession on which he had turned his back. The threats to the region's ecosystem are made equally vivid.

Nearly the entire tale takes place within a twenty-four hour period of time. Out in the black forest searching for the elusive Florida black bear and even more rare panther, his father a vivid companion and presence in his mind, James retrieves a camera trap he had set up previously. Reviewing the photos thereby captured, along with the wildlife caught on film he sees unexpected and shocking images of a woman being murdered. Apparently, however, the murderer has not left the area, and James' life is immediately threatened. He is forced to flee, and to take refuge in the inhospitable forest and surrounding swamps. During this time, he reflects on his endangered marriage, interspersed with philosophizing and bits of poetry: "He finds it funny that in his brief contemplation of death, it's not religion or philosophy or even photography, but poetry that consoles and prepares." The novel is thought-provoking, while at the same time the author deftly maintains and steadily builds suspense.

Mr. Lister's writing is stylistically fresh, frequently alliterative, and distinctive. "Double Exposure" is a wholly original and ultimately haunting work, and it is highly recommended.

Vengeance Road
Rick Mofina
MIRA Books
225 Duncan Mill Rd., Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9, 416-445-5860,
9780778326380 $7.99

This first in a new series from Rick Mofina introduces Jack Gannon, a reporter for a Buffalo, New York newspapers going through what every paper in North America is enduring: the constant threat of downsizing or closing down. Jack, once a contender for a Pulitzer Prize, is now thirty-four and single; he had been with the Buffalo Sentinel for ten years, and still dreams of moving to New York City. When he comes upon a story where the opportunity for a huge scoop nearly falls in his lap, he seizes upon it. The story involves the horrific murder of a young woman, Bernice Hogan, who had a history of drugs and the prostitution necessary to support her habit.

Gannon's investigation into the murder suddenly takes an expected turn when he discovers the shocking identity of the leading suspect. When he convinces his editor of the legitimacy of his source, while standing by his pledge to keep that person's name secret, he lands a front-page headline, to his peril. He refuses to be intimidated, however, vowing "to see that in death, [Bernice] received the respect that had eluded her in life." And then the woman's best friend disappears, and the degree of danger, and suspense, escalates quickly.

I have to reluctantly admit that I found the writing, at least in the early sections of the book, frequently overly melodramatic. Of course I should also state that the story itself is inherently a melodramatic one, made all the more so by an underlying thread dealing with Gannon's sister, who seemingly disappeared after leaving home years ago when she was seventeen. But, e.g., when Gannon decides to stake out the house of the man the police have named as their lead suspect, and later follows him, and there are no police present doing the same thing in the course of their own investigation, I found my suspension of disbelief somewhat strained. However, as I read on, that quickly passed when, as in all Mr. Mofina's previous novels, "Vengeance Road" kept this reader quickly turning pages, anxious to find out all the answers in the tale he has spun. I will look forward to Gannon's next appearance on the page, and the book is recommended. (I should note that I started the novel on the day before Thanksgiving. The next day, I picked up the book again, pausing only for the holiday meal and foregoing the day's TV offerings - - a Dallas Cowboys followed by a NY Giants football game, followed in turn by a Paul McCartney concert, recorded live only a few months before in New York City - - until the book was finished. Now that's suspense!)

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Devil Bones
Kathy Reichs
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743294386 $25.95

Kathy Reichs is an author that gives the reader a feel of real forensic anthropology. Other writers excel in the action or mystery portion of the story but Reichs gives you the gritty feel of a real job. In Devil Bones, the toil, work and details of examining and solving the clues found in decomposing corpses comes to the forefront of the story. Paradoxically this produces a freshness to the mystery that is not found in the typical story.

A plumber in an old house is installing new pipes when he discovers a hidden sub-basement. Inside is a Santeria (Voodoo) alter complete with a human skull. A headless body with satanic symbols carved into his torso, a fanatical politician running for office and a psychotic killer all add to Temperance's problems as she tries to solve the mysteries behind the multiple deaths, all the time struggling with her crashing personal life.

Devil Bones is a solid and entertaining forensic murder mystery, the type you would expect from one of the leading authors in this sub genre. It isn't Riechs' best but its realistic feel makes is a minor gem worth looking for among the mass of mysteries you will find on the shelves.

Team of Rivals, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743270755 $21.00

Lincoln has been and will be analyzed over and over again. Specific statements and events have been and will be looked at under a microscope. But this method of analysis will always fail because nothing happens in isolation in the real world. Goodwin, in Team of Rivals, takes a different approach. She uses the diaries and papers produced by those around Lincoln, including his political rivals, which he brought into his cabinet. This approach explains the events that developed into the Civil War that when isolated seem abrupt and implausible. It also explains and highlights the genius of Lincoln because even his political enemies write amazing things about his political and personal astuteness.

Team of Rivals is a must read for anyone interested in the Civil War or Lincoln. Much of our understanding in his actions and history has been lost in time. The inevitable comparisons between him and other historic figures have belittled his acuity since our understanding of the depths and events surrounding his time has been blurred.

One simple comparison between today and the past will underline what the problems a contemporary reader will have with understanding history. In Lincoln's time, the Republican Party was for public education, social support & reform and infrastructure investments. Today that platform would be more commonly found in the Democratic Party. It requires a detailed broad look at the personal lives of a number of people to understand the differences between the past and today and that is exactly what Goodwin has done.

Team of Rivals is a gem of a history book that reads easily and fast. It imparts a broad understanding that gives the reader the ability to understand more fully the events in the past. It also helps cut through the many questionable histories of Lincoln and the Civil War. No individual is perfect and no event happens in isolation. By seeing through the multiple eyes of those around Lincoln, the history becomes more understandable and surprisingly more fantastic. Lincoln was truly a great leader.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

The Lost Symbol
Dan Brown, 2009
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
9780385504225 $29.95

The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons left little doubt that Dan Brown aims his books at the most uneducated, scientifically illiterate, gullible, superstitious, intellectually challenged kindergarten dropouts on the face of the earth. But in The Lost Symbol he proves it in spades. Consider the following statement by Brown's omniscient narrator:

"Experiments at facilities like the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in California and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) had categorically proven that human thought, if properly focused, had the ability to affect and change physical mass" (p. 55). And in mentioning the millions of dollars spent by the CIA "researching" remote viewing, a conjuring trick perpetrated by humbug Uri Geller and exposed as a hoax in an episode of Columbo, Brown's reaction is (p. 291), "Unfortunately, horrified Americans called it absurd, and the program had been scuttled."

Unfortunately??? Pulling the plug on spending taxpayers' money to research how many unicorns can dance on the tail of a virgin is "unfortunate"? If Brown believes that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think will interest him. Let me quote from Science Under Siege, edited by Kendrick Frazier, "The … (PEAR) group is shutting down after twenty-eight years of searching for [and not finding] proof of the paranormal." As for Noetic "science," a spokesman for the Center for Naturalism writes that, "There are any number of promoters of paranormal and occult phenomena … for instance … parapsychologist Dean Radin of the Institute for Noetic Sciences." The organizer of Quackwatch has stated that he views the Institute of Noetic Sciences "with considerable distrust."

In other words superstitious ignorance is alive and well in The Lost Symbol. Whether Brown is as ignorant and gullible as Puthoff and Targ, the long-discredited apologists for Uri Geller, or simply an opportunist who peddles lies he knows are lies because, "That's what sells, man," I will not guess. But his statement about IONS and PEAR that, "Their experiments were no 'spoon-bending' parlor tricks" (p. 55), indicates that he is not unaware that the most publicized claimant of paranormal powers (oxymoron) was the fifth-rate magician whose conjuring tricks presaged both IONS and PEAR. And unless Brown is as profoundly unteachable as the Vatican alleges, he cannot be unaware that "noetic science" is as oxymoronic as "creation science," or that the "eidetic memory" he attributes to his protagonist exists only in science fiction.

Science fiction is a legitimate literary genre, and its Grand Masters wrote many stories in which the power to read or influence minds was central to their plot. But what Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein never did was try to maximize sales by using real-world allusions to generate the Big Lie that their fantasy concepts existed outside of speculative fiction. The most blatant purveyors of that prostitute strategy were the producer of The X Files and the fatuous Steven Spielberg - until now. The Lost Symbol is science fiction for mystery buffs who not only do not generally read science fiction, but also have no more ability to recognize alternate reality when they encounter it than the disparate housewives who lack the education to grasp that "medium" and "ghost whisperer" are concepts from Cloud Cuckoo Land.

"I just used a super-cooled charge-coupled device to photograph the hands of a faith healer at work…. streams of energy pouring through the healer's fingertips.… How do you think Jesus healed the sick?" (p. 313) Faithhealers are something other than swindling hypocrites who have no more belief in their imaginary divine healer than Richard Dawkins? And they exude a genuine power through their fingertips? Where was Dan Brown when P. T. Barnum really needed him?

On the other hand (p. 327): "From the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to American politics - the name Jesus had been hijacked as an ally in all kinds of power struggles. Since the beginning of time, the ignorant had always screamed the loudest, herding the unsuspected masses and forcing them to do their bidding. They defended their worldly desires by citing Scripture they did not understand. They celebrated their intolerance as proof of their convictions." He certainly got that right, although I doubt that he is aware how right. The first hijacking of Jesus' name was by Paul of Tarsus, who made him the posthumous figurehead of a religion Jesus the Jew would have denounced as infidels if he had not died a generation before its invention, "those who call themselves Ioudaians and are not, but are a synagogue of the enemy," as a Jesus-Jew described the Christians (Revelation 2:9).

The full extent of Brown's incompetence in documentary analysis is revealed in his declaration that Psalm 82:6, "Ye are gods" (p. 308), was directed at humans. Even a superficial examination of the context would have revealed that Yahweh was speaking those words in a situation in which, "The gods are assembled in the god-synagogue. He is judging among the gods." Yahweh was warning his fellow gods that, "I declare that you are gods, all of you, descendants of Ilion [Yahweh's father, after whom the city of Ilium was named]. But you are going to die like Adam" (82:1-7). Equally pathetic (desperate?) is Brown's attempt to turn Einstein's reverence for the forces of nature into a belief in metaphysics (p. 308).

Brown's theology, if one can use that word for a system of metaphysical fantasy lacking a "he who must be obeyed" Sky Fuhrer, puts his crime against reality somewhere between those of Shirley MacLean and L. Ron Hubbard. As to whether the self-created Manchurian Candidate or the sucker-fleecing confidence swindler is the closer comparison, I would have to say that the jury is still out.

Nonetheless, despite being unendingly nauseated by page after page after page of Brown's ignorance, superstition, and conscienceless peddling of any lie that might help sell his book, I was able to finish reading it. Why? Because Brown has a storytelling talent capable of gripping even a reader who recognizes his shortcomings. Like Ian Fleming, Brown builds his stories around a conflict between a bland protagonist ("James Bond" was the blandest name Fleming could think of) and a spectacular antagonist. The albino in The Da Vinci Code contributed more to the book's success than most readers probably recognized. While the fanatically evil psychopath in The Lost Symbol would be beyond belief if only fictional villains such as Ernst Blofeld and Count Fosco were available for comparison, it is the existence of real-world parallels that makes Mal'akh terrifyingly believable.

The climax of The Lost Symbol is the death of an epitome of absolute evil that for some reason had me visualizing Dick Cheney. Unfortunately, it is followed by a fifty-page sermon posing as a denouement, designed to pander to mindslaves of the god psychosis and titillate the Bozos who participate in the role-playing comic opera known as Freemasonry. And Brown's concept of a happy ending turns out to be the salvaging of research "proving" that the earth really is flat - or something only an incurably self-deluded nonsense-addict would deem less ridiculous. As fictionalized reality, The Lost Symbol is a masturbation fantasy. As a finely crafted mystery to rival the unbridled imaginations of Edgar Allen Poe and Wilkie Collins, it more than measures up. Now if only Brown would write a book that is not permeated with fairy tales that would be right at home in Scientology For Dummies....

The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition?
Robert M. Price
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2197
1591021219 389 $27.98

In Deconstructing Jesus, Robert Price concluded, on the basis of what might be termed a preponderance of the evidence, that Jesus of Galilee was not a real person from history. In The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, he does not withdraw that conclusion, but I get the impression that he now sees it as "too close to call." For example (p. 121), he concedes that Jesus' immersion by John "was so embarrassing to Christians, both because it seems to subordinate Jesus to John and because it seems to cast Jesus as a repentant sinner, that the early church would never have fabricated it." The point on which both proponents and opponents of a historical Jesus converge is that the virgin-born savior-god Jesus, whose repeated violations of the laws of reality culminated in his rising from the dead, assuredly did not exist. That conclusion is disputed only by incurable dogmatists who fall somewhere on the evolutionary scale between flat-earthers and Scientologists.

Price's treatment of miracle tales is likewise more consistent with Jesus being a real person than a purely mythical entity. He writes that, "Paul never mentions any miracles of Jesus" (p. 123), and suggests that "the writer had no knowledge of any miracles that might have satisfied his disappointed Jewish hearers." He suggests (p. 146), "A historical Jesus would surely have shared the beliefs of his contemporaries … and exorcists were certainly not uncommon." He continues (p. 151), "The strongest argument in favor of Jesus actually being a faith healer is that virtually all the ailments he is said to have cured have a place on the list of psychogenic maladies or somatization disorders in today's diagnostic manuals." In summary (p. 155), "The principle of analogy allowed us to consider the miracles of exorcism and healing as likely candidates for actual deeds in the life of Jesus, since there are faith healings and exorcisms today, whether one understands them as supernatural manifestations or as instances of abnormal psychology and psychosomatic healing." And (ibid) the "earlier New Testament statements that Jesus did no miracles," implies the existence of a real Jesus, no more capable of impossibilities than Oral Roberts.

Price may have simply been allowing for all possibilities, including a historical Jesus. But he seems far from convinced that there was never any such person. Nonetheless, in support of a purely mythical Jesus, he reports (p. 21), "If some New Testament miracle stories find no parallel in contemporary experience, they do have parallels, often striking ones, in other ancient writings that no one takes to be anything other than mythical or legendary." As for theologians who project the bias they see in the mirror onto scholars who do not start from predetermined conclusions, he says (p. 21), "Their real gripe is not that critics hold a theoretical bias, that of naturalism, but rather that they fail to hold one, namely the belief in the historical infallibility of the Christian Bible."

Price does not waste his time rebutting drivel: "The last thing we as critical historians can do is allow the party line of an institution (i.e., the creed of a church) to control our reading of the evidence. This is why the vast writings of Christian apologists hold no attraction at all for the critic" (p. 25). He does not, however, ignore the possibility that biblical literalists might be right. Rather, he cites the fable of Jesus looking at the entire surface of the earth from a mythical high mountain, a myth "presupposing a flat earth" (p. 123). Even if there was no other falsifying evidence, touting a book that in fourteen places endorses a flat earth as nonfiction clearly removes such apologists from serious consideration.

In explaining the gospel descriptions of Jesus as "the Nazarene" (Mark 1:24 and elsewhere) and "the Nazorean" (Mat 26:71 and elsewhere), Price sees Nazorean as meaning a member of the Nazorean sect. He acknowledges that, in calling Jesus The Nazarene, "Mark no doubt took this as a geographical reference" (p. 51). But he explains that Jesus was originally known only as The Nazorean. One of the competing schools of Christianity later changed his designation to The Nazarene for the purpose of suppressing his status as a member of a preexisting sect rather than an innovator. Mark wrote at a time when the changed title had become common, and used it exclusively. The other gospels, in addition to using Mark, also utilized older documents containing Jesus' original title.

Price asserts that there were Nazoreans before Jesus, and that the Greek Nazoraios and the Hebrew Nazir (a person under a vow of self-denial) are not the same word. My position, spelled out in God, Jesus and the Bible, is that Jesus was originally styled The Nazirite by his detractors as a comment on his un-nazirite behavior, and the Jerusalem Essene commune became known as the Nazirites or Nazoreans after it adopted Jesus as its dead messiah in place of its previous dead messiah, the Essene Righteous Rabbi, whose title Jesus' brother, Jacob the Righteous, had inherited as Head Essene. British writer Steuart Campbell (The Rise and Fall of Jesus) postulates that the "Nazarenes" were a sect led by John the Immerser, and that Jesus was his cousin and successor. Price is satisfied (as am I) that there was no connection whatsoever between the Immerser and Jesus, although he cites the testimony of Epiphanius that a sect called Nazoreans had existed since the time of Jeremiah. Even so, I continue to maintain that the Jerusalem Essenes became "the Nazirites" as a result of their adoption of Jesus as their posthumous figurehead.

Price ignores those early Christian apologists who accepted that Jesus was basically a hunchbacked dwarf. He clearly does not believe that such a description originated with Josephus or a comparably early source. If he is right on that point, the case for a Jesus of history is indeed severely diminished. Unfortunately, what if anything Josephus actually wrote about Jesus may never be established beyond dispute. And because Price rejects the "ugly man" hypothesis, he interprets the line in Luke, "Physician, heal yourself," as "Heal your own," meaning, "Repeat in your hometown the miracles you allegedly performed elsewhere." My explanation of the line is that there was so much about Jesus that needed healing ("Not even of honest human shape," as Tertullian described him), that the taunt can be accepted as a historical event.

Price writes (p. 175), "Christian scholars have, unfortunately and naively, perpetuated the Christian vilification of Jews as merciless legalists, simply by taking gospel texts as history." My only dispute with that is that the anti-Semites who "[take] gospel texts as history" thereby reveal that, by any valid definition, they are NOT scholars. Scholars can disagree on the extent to which Christian gospels have a factual basis, but they cannot mistake them for nonfiction. The Jews of the Christian gospels are "the horned Jews of the Oberammergau Passion Play, not the Jews of history." Anyone who does not agree [including the imbecilic Mel Gibson] is incompetent by definition.

Price shares my view that, "the Pharisees have simply been made to look bad as foils for Jesus" (p. 175). He continues, "We have to think there was an opponent lurking off stage, that these barbs were actually directed against someone. If Pharisees do not fit the picture, who does?" His answer is that the real target of invective retroactively attributed to Jesus was the Jewish Christians (a designation I consider an oxymoron, since Nazirites were not Christians, followers of the religion invented by Paul) who opposed preaching to gentiles. My interpretation is that the passages are historical, and that the gospel authors changed "Sadducees" to "Pharisees" to dissociate the Christians from the anti-Roman Jewish sect that had started the war of 66-73 CE. Mark turned Judas the Sicarius into Jesus' betrayer for the same reason.

Price interprets Iskariot, not as a Hellenizing of the Latin Sicarius, but as a Hellenizing of the Hebrew Ishqarya, meaning "betrayer," a designation attached to Judas only retroactively. But he agrees that the betrayal story is unmitigated fiction, and points out the absurdity of an insider needing to identify Jesus to the temple police: "Which one of you guys is Elvis?" (p. 185) And while the assertion that "many think" is not exactly a ringing endorsement, he cites the same evidence I raised, that part of Revelation was written during the war of 66-73 CE, and the final redaction during the reign of Domitian (p. 32).

There is a transfiguration scene in the gospels in which Jesus' physical appearance changed dramatically. My explanation (God, Jesus and the Bible, p. 259) is, "While subject to other interpretations, those passages can also be viewed as an admission by the writers that a messiah as ugly as Jesus must have had an alternative, beautiful body that he saved for special occasions." Price's explanation for the scene, which takes place in the presence of only the most reliable disciples, is (p. 200), "Second, the Transfiguration is probably the clearest scene in meaning, especially in view of the Hellenistic-Buddhist flavor of it. Only the spiritually attuned can behold the Sambogka (divine) body of the Buddha beneath the illusion of his Nirmankya (earthly) body." The different interpretations involve only the gospel author's reason for composing such a myth. More important is the agreement that it was invented for the polemic purpose of rebutting critics, whether inside or outside of the various Jesus factions.

Another difference of interpretation occurs in connection with the scene in Mark in which Jesus' relatives try to take him into protective custody in the belief that he has gone mad. My view is that the scene is historically accurate. Price offers a very different but by no means implausible explanation. And while he agrees that there was no "virgin birth" myth in the original gospels of Matthew and Luke, he suggests that only a couple of words of the relevant passages are interpolations, and the original annunciation scenes meant nothing of the sort.

Price sees flaws in the theory that the resurrection myth began with the discovery of an empty tomb, because (p. 333), "It is predicated on the women visiting the tomb of Jesus to anoint the body for preservation, despite the fact that the Middle Eastern climate pretty much rules out the viability of such an attempt two days after death." He accordingly concludes that the "resurrection" element was added to the legend decades later. (For a different interpretation, see God, Jesus and the Bible, pp. 277-278.)

But having leaned over backward to allow for a historical Jesus, Price ends by citing "a piece of early Christian tradition [that] presuppose a theology of the savior whereby he received the name Jesus only after his death struggle…. According to such an understanding, there can have been no Galilean adventures of an itinerant teacher and healer named Jesus" (pp. 352-353). Perhaps. But I remain unconvinced.

So how does The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man compare to God, Jesus and the Bible? The Jesus chapters in G.J.B are sufficiently definitive that no sane, intelligent person who reads them can remain a godworship indefinitely (any more than I could, on first confronting the same evidence), but they contain no more information than I deemed necessary for that purpose. And whereas I allotted just over 100 pages to the life of Jesus and the evolution of Christianity, Price devotes almost 400 pages to the same subject - and not a single paragraph is redundant. He spells out much evidence that, in retrospect, I wish I had also included. While many of my earlier comments concern hairsplitting differences in interpretation, there is no significant conclusion in Price's book with which I disagree. This book should be mandatory reading for all scholars concerned with Christian origins, whether behind or in front of the professorial lectern. Nothing of comparable importance has been written for at least a decade.

Gandhi Under Cross-Examination
G.B. Singh and Timothy Watson
Sovereign Star Publishing
PO Box 392, Lathrop CA 95330
9780981499222 $17.99

More than sixty years after Mohandas Gandhi was murdered by a disgruntled Hindu who saw him as the main obstacle to the British plan to create an all-Hindu India by exporting Muslims to a separate nation called Pakistan, few persons in the Western world are aware that Gandhi's "passive resistance" was only the outer shell of a hidden agenda that would have turned India into a (Hindu) totalitarian theocracy comparable with present-day Iran. Gandhi's campaign for "respect" for the Untouchable caste effectively disguised his determination that the descendants of Untouchables were to remain Untouchables forever. Neither Gandhi's end nor the means to which he was willing to resort in order to achieve it were admirable. He was no Nelson Mandela.

G.B. Singh and Timothy Watson call into question Gandhi's claim that his lifelong campaign against England's imposition of second-class citizenship on Indians was initiated by his being thrown off a train in South Africa for being a precursor of Rosa Parks by (equivalent of) refusing to sit in the back of the bus. Singh & Watson note that, when Gandhi created the Natal Indian Congress, allegedly in response to that incident, the first of its seven primary objectives was (p. 12), "To promote concord and harmony among the Indians and Europeans residing in the colony."

As the authors note, "This objective should raise the curiosity of any attentive reader. What motivated Gandhi to seek cordial relations with the very people who threw him off the train in Pietermaritzburg?" They note (p. 13) that, "Rather than using his training as a lawyer to help the vulnerable natives of South Africa, the far reaching consequences of which might have toppled apartheid much sooner, Gandhi chose a bigoted path."

Specifically, his response to having to use a "blacks and Indians" entrance at the Durban post office was to communicate with the country's President and demand, not that separate facilities for Whites and non-Whites be abolished, but that the two entrances be increased to three. Indians, in Gandhi's view, should not have to suffer the indignity of being lumped with the black Africans whom he called Kaffirs, a word that to this day is considered the African equivalent of "niggers" (p. 237). As the authors ask (p. 13), "Are we to believe that the very same Gandhi who was tossed unceremoniously from a train simply for being the wrong color was now promoting segregation himself?"

In the racist Mahatma's own words (p. 15), the South African government's "deliberately expressed object is not to allow the Indian to rise higher in the scale of civilization but to lower him to the position of the Kaffir." Not all Indians, however, deserved equality with Whites. After denigrating "the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness" (p. 15), he declared (p. 16) that, "The Santhals of Assam will be as useless in South Africa as the natives of that country." Santhals were part of the low-caste Indian culture commonly termed Untouchables. As S & W observe (p. 19), "The evidence shows beyond a doubt that Gandhi's scathingly racist view of black Africans, derived from his Hindu caste ideology, was deep-rooted and unquestioning." And that attitude would never change. Until his dying day, Gandhi would continue to endorse a hereditary caste system that guaranteed that an Untouchable's descendants would be restricted to such occupations as sweeping streets and emptying potties forever. Prior to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, America enforced a Bible-validated polity that differed in no significant way from the Hindu caste system that Gandhi fought so fanatically to preserve. It was called slavery.

The incident in Pietermaritzburg in 1893 was not mentioned by anybody, anywhere, earlier than 1909, when it was described by J. J. Doke in a biography of Gandhi, "who largely dictated the account himself" (p. 32). It was retold in Gandhi's autobiography in 1927. Two other accounts are also in print. An examination and comparison of the four accounts by S & W raises serious doubts that the discrepancies should be attributed to Gandhi's fallible memory of long-past events. They write (p. 52), "The fact remains that the accounts are so riddled with chronological and factual inconsistency as to call their authenticity into question. On the sheer grounds of chronological, logical and factual inconsistency, Gandhi's account of the racial train incident can safely be discounted."

The authors write (p. 53) that, "In order to prove that Gandhi has fabricated his own eyewitness testimony, let us begin by examining some of the contradictory accounts he gives in his own testimony." They so totally discredit Gandhi's story as to raise the question of whether the mutually-contradictory tales were even based on a real event. No doubt something persuaded Gandhi to remain in South Africa for twenty-one years as a campaigner for Indian (and only Indian) rights. But his description of what that something was generates a serious credibility gap.

Among several questions that the authors indicate they would have liked to ask Gandhi under cross-examination, one seems particularly penetrating (p. 117): "You said that when the stagecoach reached Johannesburg, there was one Indian who had come there to welcome you. However, failing to recognize each other, you were left stranded…. You were the only Indian traveling in the coach in the company of a number of white people. And since you hardly look like a Caucasian, how could anyone miss you in broad daylight?"

While a fellow Indian having to ask, "Okay, which of you guys is Elvis?" is the most intrinsically implausible element of Gandhi's story, his account of the behavior of persons he encountered in the incident is analogous to claiming that an Asian American persuaded the proprietor of a Ku Klux Klan hotel to accept a black man as a guest. S & W's conclusion (p. 118) is that "the entire account is likely to be another example of Gandhi's fanciful imagination."

Of all the questions raised by Gandhi's insertion into his biography of events that have all the appearance of pure fiction, the most obvious is: Why would he do that. S & W suggest an answer (pp. 209-210, 220-221):

"Gandhi's biographies and autobiography are probably the most shameless example of exhibitionism since St. Augustine's confessions…. All that was missing from the attempt to form a new religion was the miracles. The quintessential political opportunist, Gandhi soon hit on the formula to change all that…. He would invent a past … that would show him … as a victim of persecution, a martyr…. After Rev. Doke planted the 'martyr' idea in Gandhi's mind, he looked back into the past to see what racial incidents had actually transpired in South Africa. He remembered the incident of Tyab Mohamed who faced racism when forced to move from his compartment three times in a single night's train journey in November 1893. Gandhi took that incident and transposed it into his own life in June 1893…. The victim who went by the name Tyab Mohamed had his name and identity changed to M. K. Gandhi."

Does that sound implausible? It is no more implausible than the authors of the Christian gospels copying published accounts of miracles credited to Eliyah and Elisha, along with miraculous birth and resurrection myths previously told of Mithra and Adonis, and attributing them to Jesus - and we know that happened.

For the second time (Singh also omitted it from his earlier Gandhi biography), S & W make no mention of a naked Gandhi sharing his bed with naked teenage girls, allegedly to strengthen his resistance to temptation. Yet they footnote (p. 206) the March 1983 Commentary article by Richard Grenier that discussed it and quoted Sigmund Freud's suggestion that Gandhi might have been "enjoying the caresses of the naked girls." They cite Gandhi's vow of celibacy, allegedly made in 1906 (p. 168), and question whether such a vow was ever made (p. 199). They raise the possibility that, if it was made, it could have been a consequence of post-traumatic stress disorder (p. 168). They stop short of suggesting that an observable effect of PTSD might have been psychosomatic impotence. Since it was not until 1928 that Gandhi first mentioned that he had taken such a vow, he could have concocted a convenient lie to conceal his disorder. Indeed, his bedding twelve-year-old virgins might have been a ruse to overcome such a disability.

Among Gandhi's less admirable activities - and this is a matter of record, not the authors' subjective evaluation of his questionable claims - was his attempt to persuade an American woman not to sully his reputation in America by revealing to the world that a mob of Gandhi's "non-violent" adherents had murdered her white husband for having the wrong skin color (pp. 269-271). As for his eagerness to raise an Indian military unit to help the White government put down an anti-apartheid uprising by the dirty black Kaffirs, we have only Sergeant Major Gandhi's own word that he came to recognize that he was on the wrong side and diverted his unit to providing medical care for wounded Zulus (p. 169).

Gandhi contributed significantly to India's gaining independence from the British, and his carefully edited propaganda was an inspiration for the campaign for equal rights for black Americans. But he was nonetheless, as a biographer once said of James II, "not a nice man."

You Don't Have to be a Buddhist to Know Nothing: An Illustrious Collection of Thoughts on Naught
Conceived and Edited by Joan Konner
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2119
9781591027577 $17

"We simply cannot accept, no less conceive of, the paradoxical concept that 'Nothing exists,'… In the material world, which we inhabit, the very words 'Nothing exists' are a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron" (p. 15). That sounds like something I might have written at a time when I spent hours contemplating whether I alone existed and everything else was a creation of my imagination - when I was nine years old. Then I turned ten and, as Paul of Tarsus said before me, "I put away childish things."

The rest of Joan Konner's nine-page introduction is equally incomprehensible gibberish. The remainder of the book is a collection of one-sentence or one-paragraph quotations that allegedly have some relevance to nothing. For example (p. 88), "The blank white page contains the finest songs." I seriously doubt that the author of those words knew what he was talking about. And even if he did, it is highly unlikely that Konner has any idea what it was.

Consider her quotation from Hamlet (p. 101): "Do you think I meant country matters? … That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs…. Nothing." That Shakespeare, whose plays are riddled with sexual puns, meant, "Do you think I meant CUNT-tree matters?" or that "Nothing," as in Much Ado About Nothing, was a euphemism for the female genital orifice, she almost certainly did not know, since her choice of quotations seems to have been based solely on references to Nothing, regardless of whether it made any contextual sense.

For many years I regarded magician Kreskin's pack of lies and confabulations, in which he claimed to have powers of perception, discrimination, and memory that do not exist (he did admit that he has no belief in "psychic" powers) as the worst book Prometheus would ever publish. Not any more.

William Harwood

Hassler's Bookshelf

Red Hot Internet Publicity
Penny C. Sansevieri
Cosimo, Inc
PO Box 416, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10011
9781605207247, $18.95,

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Our FAScinating Journey, Keys to Brain Potential Along the Path of Prenatal Brain Injury
Jodee Kulp, Author
Better Endings New Beginnings
6289 Brunswick Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
0963707256 $24.95

Our FAScinating Journey, Keys to Brain Potential Along the Path of Prenatal Brain Injury is the continuation of Liz Kulp's book, The Best I Can Be Living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Effects. This fully in-depth account of Liz Kulp's journey is a book that describes the growth that Ms. Kulp experienced after one year of Neurodevelopment Therapies. Written in simple to understand language, Our FAScinating Journey is a book that will introduce families, caretakers and medical professionals to the neurodevelopment of the brain.

Many families that adopt children and consider their child a "healthy" child become faced with a youngster that has either learning or behavioral disabilities. Our FAScinating Journey addresses the challenges that a child and their family faces when they are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). These innocent young people (and adults) can have a multitude of challenges like; lifelong disabilities, including mental retardation, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Many families feel isolated and alone in their quest to help their children and family members. Our FAScinating Journey, Keys to Brain Potential Along the Path of Prenatal Brain Injury, helps families who are exhausted, feel depressed and alone and give in to hopelessness. This book wipes away tears and fears as it opens doors to understanding, compassion and services available.

Author, Jodee Kulp, holds nothing back in her heartfelt account of their life living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) with her adopted daughter Liz Kulp. Author and devoted mother, Jodee Kulp, has diligently translated professional language into an easy to understand format for both families and non-professionals that bridges understanding and provides a future for other children.

Our FAScinating Journey, Keys to Brain Potential Along the Path of Prenatal Brain Injury, provides insight into the life of people who live with FASD's. It shows readers how to apply proven strategies to improve the future of these individuals with step by step guides and personal stories.

Our FAScinating Journey covers brain function, proper nutrition and neurodevelopment including sensory, sensory integration, working memory and special senses. It also dives in-depth into self-care, parenting and emotional behaviors. Home education that involves visual, auditory and social behaviors is also discussed. Secondary and hereditary alcohol addiction is addressed as well as public education. Letting Go for Growth and practicing how to let a child learn independence is another chapter that families and caretakers can look forward to.

In the back of book is an appendix that includes, books and films to help parents and families learn more. Internet support and information is also provided. Teaching tips, exercises and teaching resources are all informational tools that have been included. Brain Basic Nutrition serves a healthy dish of how to naturally enhance neurotransmitters to add to the neurodevelopment of a person living with FASDs. Out of the Box Ideas shares activities and therapies that the author, Jodee Kulp, and her family have found helpful for their own daughter. The Informational Guide on FASD for Families and Friends are parenting ideas from the families in trenches and includes, what every child with FASD needs, ways to help a child with FASD grow, how to ask for help, what things families with FASD child might need to avoid, things to remember, and most importantly, tips on communicating with a child with FASD. Juvenile Justice helps adults work through the system and offers tips and tricks on runaway teens. Hope for the future offers Better Endings and New Beginnings for families, parents, children, their caretakers and medical professionals.

Our FAScinating Journey, Keys to Brain Potential Along the Path of Prenatal Brain Injury is an exceptional and indispensable book that will help to save families from feeling alone and hopeless. Author Jodee Kulp exposes herself without fear and speaks clearly to the joys of learning to triumph over brain trauma. This book is highly recommended for foster and adoptive parents, educators, social work professionals and physicians who want to learn how to help the innocent victims of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Librarians and Booksellers will find this a valuable resource to offer to their patrons and community.

Sara Hassler

Henry's Bookshelf

Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit
Muriel L. Crawford
Foreword by Jack Klugman
Dillon and Parker Publishing
Walnut Creek, CA
9780981959009 $19.95

Crawford brings together reasons to quit smoking from varied, and in some cases, surprising areas. Besides the area of health which is most often stressed, these other areas range over etiquette, adoption, self-help, pollution, healing of injuries, fertility, health of bones, economics, and personal appearance. The author has brought together this incomparable fund of reasons to quit smoking with the assistance of 10 doctors specializing in dermatology, respiratory disease, oncology, pediatrics, and other relevant fields who are listed at the end of the text. Jack Klugman relates a cautionary tale in the Foreword about his scare with throat cancer which could have ruined his acting career. Crawford uses her background as an educator and author of textbooks for this timely book on a major health and social issue for general readers.

With the topic of quitting smoking covered so widely and recurrently in the media, most readers will have some knowledge of some of the material. But given the book's breadth and also depth along with the input from the medical advisers from varied fields, every reader will inevitably learn something new. And any new point may be just the one to give the reader motivation or encouragement to finally quit smoking for good; or may be the word to motivate or encourage a family member, friend, fellow worker, etc., to quit.

Many readers are bound to learn reasons to quit smoking which they may not be aware of because these have no bearing on their present circumstances, but which would apply in coming or unforeseen circumstances. Smokers, for instance, may find themselves at a disadvantage in child custody disputes in a divorce or denied an adoption. And while most readers know that smoking is related to respiratory health problems and lung cancer, Crawford gives information on many other smoking-related health problems such as bone disease, back pains, and eye and ear problems. Tobacco can also adversely interact with medications one may require for nonsmoking-related health problems.

This book could well tip the scale for ones serious about quitting smoking but unable to take the final step. It's also recommended reading to dissuade ones considering smoking. Its self-help, informative style including clear chapter titles and a detailed index lends itself to use as a reference too. Bringing together such diversified, yet all plainly relevant material in a reader-friendly style puts this work among the top regarding the ongoing health and social issue of smoking.

The Art of Tradition - Sacred Music, Dance, and Myth of Michigan's Anishinaabe
Gertrude Kurath, Jane Ettawageshik, and Fred Ettawageshik; edited by Michael D. McNally; Foreword by Frank Ettawageshik.
Michigan State U. Press
East Lansing, MI
9780870138140 $79.95

This is the first book edition of a 450-page typescript anthropological work on the upper Midwest Native American Anishinaabe tribe done in 1959 (whose three authors are now all deceased).

The 1950s were a crucial and in some ways transformative period for these Native Americans as well as others. They weren't trying to modernize nor adapt. Despite the tribal changes inevitably taking place in the changes in U.S. society and culture coming after World War II and the realization that the tribe could not survive isolated or indifferent to the mainstream, maintaining tribal identity was the primary aim. As McNally's Introduction explains, "[T]he materials [the authors] collected are anything but timeless traditions frozen in amber as museum pieces on the eve of their disappearance. Nor are they documents of what anthropologists of the time identified as the stuff of 'acculturation,' evidence of tradition's erosion by the forces of assimilation."

The anthropological material of songs, dances, lore, myths, and such are a "rekindling" (as McNally describes it) of the Anishinaabe identity. Thus this study is not an anthropological attempt to record a dying culture mainly from oral history of tribal elders, but is a record of how tribal members of all generations engaged in the "artful work of...breathing new life into traditions...often in venues and contexts that were anything but traditional." How traditional Christian hymns were rendered into Ojibwe and Odawa language to "count as Native American music" is an especially instructive artful work of appropriating dominant mainstream cultural elements into tribal traditions and identity.

Though focused on a particular Native American tribe, the content nonetheless has a place in the general field of Native American studies. For the Anishinaabe's "artful work [of] rekindling" fundamentals of their tribal culture as well gives insight into the ever-present tension between mainstream culture and indigenous ethnic culture.

Great Gardens of America
Tim Richardson, Photographs by Andrea Jones
Frances Lincoln
9780711228863 $50.00

There is no characteristic style of great gardens of America; as there is for great gardens of England or Italy for example. The wide geographical and climatic range of the United States and Canada and the diversity of influences on the cultures are reflected in the gardens giving them a greater diversity than any other country. The diverse cultural and aesthetic backgrounds of the landscape designers accounts for this too.

More so than other countries, the great gardens of America incorporate and sometimes represent the vegetation and atmosphere of their locations (rather than aim to create sanctuaries distinct from their surroundings). In most cases, the location is the source for the idea or inspiration of the garden.

A location on Long Island for instance lent itself to a house overlooking a pond resembling the famous Shinto shrine at Ise in Japan. The gardens around this house expand on the Japanese reference with their ponds, antiquities, and sculpture seen in Japanese gardens.

This attunement with specifics and moods of the natural world notable in Japanese landscape and garden design is seen too in most of the other gardens. Lurie Park in the city of Chicago carries this approach to an exceptionally imaginative point. This park crisscrossed by walkways is like a patch of original prairie with its wildflowers, grasses, and other vegetation.

Quebec to the American Southwest, the American Northwest to Miami is the territorial range of the gardens. Within this range come gardens in California, New York, Midwestern states, and others. Each of the 25 gardens is viewed in an individual section with an engaging and informative play of words and photographs. The text of the writer Richardson rests of his background as a garden historian and landscape architecture critic. The text brings out the general and particular features of each garden by relating the origins of the design, historical points, and biographical and stylistic matters about the property owner and the landscape designer.

Jones' 300 color photographs of varying sizes and perspectives (wide-scale to close-up) work in coordination with the text. Jones is the 2008 Royal Horticulture Society/Garden Media Guild's Photographer of the Year.

While visually appealing and informative, the book goes beyond the typical style and intent of an art/coffee-table book. It's obvious that more editorial and design thought went into it. For text and photographs working together openly and implicitly are like a memorable guided walking tour through each of the gardens.

Jane Wilson Horizons
Elisabeth Sussman and Ralph Sessions, and an interview with Justin Spring
Merrell Publishers
9781858944883 $60.00

There is an evident progression in the career of Jane Wilson (b. 1924) from its beginnings in the early 1950s. Her first solo exhibition was in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1951, two years after she had moved to New York City with her husband. Born in Iowa and attending the U. of Iowa through an M.A. in painting, she wanted to be in New York because it was a center for internationally-acclaimed contemporary modernist art, particularly Abstract Expressionism. In New York for the beginning stages of her career, Wilson moved in art circles which included Jackson Pollack, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston; many of whom were producing "fascinating examples of a new abstract style, which came to be known as Abstract Expressionism." "Wilson moved toward the new art forms and away from the figurative painting of her Iowa training." For example, her 1952 "Black Still Life" contains the unorganized energy, graphic sharpness, and also the suggestion of menace found with Kandinsky.

Wilson demonstrated she had skills and imagination to rightfully belong to this group taking modernist art to its next stage; although it is unlikely she ever would have been one of the top tier. But Wilson ended up being true to her intuitions. Freed from the competitiveness and constant edginess of the hectic New York art world, Wilson's style simultaneously mellowed and became individualized. Anomalously, she took to paintings reflecting senses and overt and subconscious memories of the Iowa plains she grew up in while staying located in New York and participating fully in its art scene. Instead of pursuing the increasing austerities of Abstract Expressionism, Wilson applied its techniques of effacement and consequent expansion to references from the natural world in paintings which intriguingly present the fullness of nature as in impressionism while also presenting the distance, or otherness, of nature, as abstract expressionism holds itself apart. It is for this Wilson has distinguished herself as an artist.

Minimal, yet informative and insightful text enables readers to see the development and the distinctiveness of Wilson's art in the plentiful pictures and to understand her place in the post-War art world. As Elizabeth Sussman writes in the single biographical and critical essay, "This Iowa of rich earth, low horizons, flat land, and big skies was a tangible and positive experience" for Wilson. There is also an interview with the artist, and a illustrated biography titled "Chronology." The movements and full range of Wilson's art work over her career of more than 30 years are treated knowledgeably and rewardingly in this major art book on this artist.

A Volume of Friendship - The Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Isabella Greenway 1904-1953, edited by Kristie Miller and Robert H. McGinnis, Preface by Blanche Wiesen Cook.
U. of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque, NM
9780910037501 $34.95

Eleanor Roosevelt and Isabella Greenway were lifelong best friends. They met when both were young in New York City early in the 1900s. Roosevelt remained on the East coast, eventually residing in the White House, while Greenway went to live in Arizona. They stayed in touch by letter, and visited each other periodically. With two other friends, they formed a small group known as the "four of hearts".

One sees in the letters a more personal side of Eleanor Roosevelt than the well-known one of work in social causes and her marriage to FDR. She freely writes about her feelings, concerns, disappointments, political activities (as opposed to positions or goals), hopes, and relationships with the wide circle around her including relatives and staff. For her side, Greenway writes about the same matters, though she was not so active in politics. The collected letters as a whole are not only a vein of biographical record, but also a limited, yet illuminating record of the social history of a period. The coeditors' generalized notes setting letters in context and to each letter (in addition to footnotes) bring the woman into focus and give a life to them which is ordinarily not found in a collection of letters.

The letters go from 1909 to 1953. There are 139 of Roosevelt's and 85 of Greenway's. "The letters...are copious but incomplete." The recent discovery of three more of Roosevelt's letters raises questions about how many more there are to be discovered. The more than 200 letters included however with the knowledgeable and sensitive annotations give a well-rounded picture of the women and their friendship which given who they were, has as well historical interest.

The Well-fed Writer - Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months of Less
Peter Bowerman
Fanove Publishing
Atlanta, GA
9780967059877 $19.95

This book follows Bowerman's The Well-Fed Self-Publisher. Its subtitle How to Turn One Book Into a Full-Time Living mirrors the subtitle of this book. Picking up where most books on writing leave off--and usually leave the writer dangling--the concept of both books is earning money from writing. The self-publishing handbook goes into working with a book one has written; whereas this book goes into getting writing work from others. Bowerman is himself a prime example of what can be done in either enterprise. He has sold more than 50,000 copies of his books bringing in enough income for him to support himself for seven years. Bowerman's enthusiasm and savvy as a motivational seminar leader and business coach carries into his books.

The author first lays out the terrain which he realizes is unfamiliar and thus somewhat forbidding to many writers. Marketing especially can be off-putting for writers used to working alone. In a full chapter titled Learning to Love S&M (Sales & Marketing), Bowerman gives guidance on developing a mindset for overcoming this. Early on, he also clarifies that his guidance and coaching are not aimed at having the writer "find your passion." Determined poets and novelists are not the target audience; though the handbook does contain material such writers could benefit from in getting their writing known to the public.

Bowerman thus focuses on practicalities, techniques, and tools. The tools are few--basically a computer and some promotional materials. It is what the commercial writer can do with these which generates work. A good website is a basic. Bowerman relates favorable design and optimum content for a website. The computer is also invaluable for promotion, communication with clients, management of tasks, and delivery of assignments.

The author gives not only psychological advise for feeling confident in making cold calls and other techniques for getting assignments, but also deals with practicalities of appropriate contacts in corporations and other businesses, proper research and preparation before approaching them, and focusing one's sales pitch to induce interest and at least leave an impression which may be beneficial in the future when not landing an assignment at the time.

Bowerman does not leave out anything of worth to the skilled writer wanting to get into the field of freelance commercial writing. Though as Bowerman advises, the writer wants to give quotes by a job, not hourly rates, hourly rates can range from about $60.00 to $125.00 or more for some specialized areas. The book's one weakness is that while it is systematic, it sometimes doesn't seem systematic with the author's enthusiastic desire to get in as much as possible to be as helpful as possible and the plain, simple formatting. Better use of graphics, including more imaginative use of type sizes and styles, would have made the book more reader-friendly. But this isn't really a drawback considering the patent relevance, usefulness, and guidance of this work of consummate interest to freelance writers in varied fields.

Creswell Photographs Re-examined - New Perspectives in Islamic Architecture
edited by Bernard O'Kane.
American University in Cairo Press
Cairo and New York
distributed in U.S. by International Publishers
9789774162442 $34.95

The Creswell photographs are a large archive of nineteenth-century photographs known as the Creswell Archive at the American University in Cairo. The large majority of these--7,850--were taken by the Englishman K. A. C. Creswell for the volumes of his books on Muslim architecture, with another 2,000 photographs by other photographers of the time. Creswell bequeathed the negatives of his photographs to the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

The "new perspective" proffered in the twelve articles by scholars connected with the American University in Cairo do not so much contest or revise current accepted scholarship as use the voluminous Creswell photographs as sources, references, and jumping off points for studies and sometimes hypotheses on aspects of Muslim architecture found in Cairo. Creswell's own studies ended with Muslim architecture in the early fourteenth century. The articles here using Creswell's incomparable photographs move beyond this both chronologically down to the present day and also by going into a much wider range of subject areas. Creswell focused on architecture per se. Parts of the articles include this technical, utilitarian, and aesthetic perspective. But wall inscriptions, Muslim religious beliefs and practices, features from different architectural periods, history and social history, and rulers, religious leaders, and architects are other subjects dealt with. All of these are made possible not only by the volume of Creswell's photographs, but also by the great variety of their perspectives and subjects. Creswell's photographs range over mosques with surrounding neighborhood buildings, domes, front entrances, mosaics, corners, and--for the studies of the writings--inscriptions. Creswell's original photographs are invaluable for studying later architectural changes or restorations.

The roughly 150 photographs can be appreciated on their own for their antique, romantic patina; and they are educating about Muslim architecture for their diversity and trained eye of Creswell, the photographer. The depth and minutiae of parts of the articles is mainly for scholars; whereas the parts on historical background, the sweep of Muslim history, and aspects of Muslim life relating to architecture are for readers interested in more generalized, yet nonetheless especially knowledgeable and informative material on Muslim culture.

Public Address and Moral Judgment - Critical Studies in Ethical Tensions
edited by Shawn J. Parry-Giles and Trevor Parry-Giles
Michigan State U. Press
East Lansing, MI
978870138683 $59.95

This is the latest in the publisher's Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series, now some thirty works. This one collects articles mostly by academics in the field of communications; as do others which are not by individual or coauthors. "The essays in this volume situated public address figures in the crafting of public morality and how such crafting is difficult, tenuous, and often confusing." Analyzing particular situations, public speakers, and their words and rhetoric, the authors "point to the range of problematics that attend to the investigation of public morality as expressed rhetorically, from tensions about language and narrative to concerns about gender, ideology, and visuality."

The editors note that "much of public moral argument in the United States occurs within contexts of war or in situations where advocates compete over the extension or restriction of civil rights." Accordingly the essays treat key statements relating to U.S. preparation for or engagement in war and civil rights issues and struggles. Given this framework set by the editors, it is not surprising that President George Bush, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln are figures whose words are analyzed for the moral position reflected in them.

Such leaders' pronouncements and speeches to the public are rarely explicitly moralistic, but rather are meant to persuade the public to embrace or affirm a moral position. Bush, Lincoln, and such are not preachers, but leaders trying to unite or sustain public opinion in some enterprise. As in most calls for action or support (as opposed to military directives for example), moral sentiments and beliefs are inherent in the origins, delivery (i. e., rhetoric), and influence of public words.

Contrasting Lincoln's viewpoint toward war and foes with Bush's in the article "Bush, Abu Ghraib, and Moral Discourse" exemplifies how differing moral points of view are reflected by different political leaders and implies differing courses of action relating to these. In Lincoln's words about the Civil War the country was engaged in and the opposing Confederate forces, "Lincoln eschewed a harsh, dichotomizing style, and instead employed pentadic ratios and a style that wove agents, scenes, and temporal domains together. In contrast, by placing Bush as the central agent of a battle in which the opposition was pure evil, Bush's rhetorical strategy...made it impossible to condemn any actions of the United States without thereby lauding or absolving the enemy." Differences in such moral outlooks result in differences in policies and actions which have effects. Lincoln talked about and worked toward "binding the nation's wounds." Bush, by contrast, was fully committed to annihilating an ill-defined, elusive enemy. Such differences are not accounted for entirely by differences in "situation".

The articles mostly concern major public issues from World War II and after. Government patriotic and propagandistic activities during the War are treated, as is Martin Luther King's leadership in the civil-rights struggles. Many readers will be most interested in the complete chapters and parts of chapters on issues relating to the war in Iraq; which issues also relate to Afghanistan.

Scholarly analyses on public subjects and topics of modern-day and contemporary concern, the collected essays are a particularly relevant, informative, and insightful type of media study.

Henry Berry

Janie's Bookshelf

Killer Dolls
Angelica Hart and Zi
Champagne Books
35069-4604 37 St. SW, Calgary AB Canada T3E 7C7
9781926681016 $3.99 ebook $7.50 CD

I found writer Angelica Hart in 2005 when I reviewed her mystery, The Darkness Within. I was intrigued by her ability to blend romance, mad scientists, and supernatural beings into a good story that had definite spiritual overtones. Hart's latest, Killer Dolls, is a departure from spiritual realms, diving deep into terrorism and sexuality. This story revolves around Letti Noel, a lonely but successful dollmaker who has been targeted by foreign terrorists as a means to incite fear in America. Their plan is to plant deadly ricin in Letti's dolls and have them kill innocent children all over the country. The FBI, in the form of hunky Taut Johnson, is sent in to get close to Letti and discover if she's behind the ricin poisonings herself or merely a victim (if terrorists are using her dolls without her knowledge). Needless to say, romantic sparks begin to fly between Taut and Letti.

The story has some great chase scenes, some very steamy romance, and a decent plot. I wasn't sure sometimes whether the story hadn't been written as satire-or at least for comic effect-especially regarding some of the sex scenes. The structure of the chapters and some of the chapter titles that are plays on words contribute to a modern impertinence that 20-something readers will find appealing. And, the sex is ever present and well-written.

The change in writing style and tone that I see in Killer Dolls is due to the writing partnership Angelica Hart has formed with the mysterious Zi. They have produced eighteen books, ten of which are hot romances like this romance thriller, and they have won several Eppie awards for their efforts. Angelica Hart and Zi have two more titles that are expected next year. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this dynamic writing team.

Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock
Phil Sutcliffe
Voyageur Press
729 Prospect Ave, PO Box 1, Osceola, WI 54020
9780760337196 $40.00 800- 826-6600

Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock is one of the newest offerings in the illustrated histories of famous musical artists that Voyageur Press has been publishing. This book is as regal and ornate as the band it embodies. The cover, for example, is a black and white photo on a white background with the band's name done up with a crown in gold. Carried further inside, the book boasts having 300 color photos and 100 black and white ones, starting from when the band first started playing music. Like most of the books in this series, this book doesn't just contain photos and a history written by a single author. This book also has backstage and offstage candid photos that have never been published, posters, ticket stuffs, album and singles covers, handbills, and even t-shirt designs. And some of the photographs are the work of noted rock photographers such as Neal Preston.

The majority of the commentary in the book is done by Phil Sutcliffe, a freelance music journalist who has written for Sounds, Smash Hits, The Face, The Northern Echo, Mojo, Q, Blender, and the Los Angeles Times, and has interviewed just about everybody in rock stardom. Sutcliffe also enlisted album comments by a number of other music journalists, including Jim DeRogatis and Jon Bream, who both have written some of the other titles in this illustrated music series. As part of the book, Sutcliffe gathered reflections from other musicians such as Slash, Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Geddy Lee (Rush), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Kid Rock, and even Neil Diamond.

There is even a year-by-year listing of Queen tour dates, a discography, and even some excerpts from publications during Queen's heyday. Combined with the photos and commentary, Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock becomes one of the most comprehensive histories of this band ever published. It handles the flash and theater of Queen well, while showcasing every member of the band---and not just Freddie Mercury as the frontman. What I was most impressed with was the handling of Mercury's death. There were absolutely no photos of the singer as his health deteriorated with AIDS. His illness and death are treated with dignity, allowing Freddie Mercury to remain a rock icon and not become a tragic figure to be pitied.

Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock is a book Queen fans will treasure and rock journalists will refer to as a key resource in understanding the dynamics of this legendary band.

Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time
Jon Bream
Voyageur Press
729 Prospect Ave, PO Box 1, Osceola, WI 54020
9780760335079 $40.00 800- 826-6600

This book, Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time, was the initial release in Voyageur Press' distinguished visual series on contemporary musical artists. It was written by Jon Bream, a noted musical journalist who is currently on staff at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune but who has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone. Bream also wrote Neil Diamond Is Forever: The Illustrated Story of the Man and His Music, also from Voyageur (2009), and Prince: Inside the Purple Reign (Collier Books, 1984).

Bream set the tone for the other books in this series, filling its pages photos, interviews, and commentary. The photos alone are worth the price of the book. There are vintage photos (some of which have never been published), concert photos that range from Led Zeppelin's early days to today, album covers and even old 45 labels, posters, a collage of ticket stubs, one of buttons, and another of embroidered emblems. The commentary not only belongs to Jon Bream, but to rock journalists who discuss specific albums. There is also a whole bevy of musicians who speak about how this band influenced them, what their music meant to them personally, or reactions to personal encounters with band members. Some of those musicians include Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart), Don Brewer (Grand Funk Railway), Peter Frampton, Steve Earle, Ray Davies (Kinks), Ace Frehley (Kiss), Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20), Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), Jon Bon Jovi, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and even Dolly Parton and Kid Rock.

And then there are the interviews. There are a few with Led Zeppelin recording engineers, press agents, and managers who comment about their time spent working with the band. In addition, there is one rare vintage interview with Jimmy Page that was conducted by William S. Burroughs that is priceless.

Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time is the perfect book for any Led Zeppelin fan. Whether you want to just leaf through the pages and enjoy the photographs or you dig deep into the commentary, Zeppelin fans will take away a greater understanding of what made this band such a musical phenomenon.

Music Success in Nine Weeks: A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Use Social Media & Online Tactics to Supercharge Your PR, Build Your Fan Base, and Earn More Money (second edition)
Ariel Hyatt
Ariel Publicity
Artist Relations and Booking
389 12 th Street, Brookly NY 11215
9780981633107 $34.99

Seasoned publicist Ariel Hyatt has created a much-needed business course for musicians. Her new book, Music Success in Nine Weeks: A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Use Social Media & Online Tactics to Supercharge Your PR, Build Your Fan Base, and Earn More Money (second edition), is destined to become the musician's marketing bible.

The book has nine chapters - one for each week you work the program-- and a big two-part bonus chapter. Included also are a music business dictionary and a list of 20 essential websites for musicians. The first chapter deals with setting goals, which any business person needs to do. There is a lot here that the musician will need to work through---if he or she hasn't already done some of this work. These goals cover every aspect of the music business starting with lifetime goals and then breaking them down into workable one year goals. The book encourages breaking these goals down into targets and tasks over a month, a week, and daily to further the yearly and lifetime goals.

This detail set the tone for the rest of the book. Without goals, you can't steer a career or a business. This crucial chapter actually could have been made into a whole book - and there are plenty out there about critical goal setting. But I think Ariel was wise to just offer a framework for goal setting that would allow readers to get on with the tasks necessary to make those goals happen, instead of being bogged down into the anal minutia that goal setting can often get mired in.

The next step was creating an elevator pitch. This was an odd term to use in this situation because it's usually reserved to book or other media pitching. I would have called this a tag line or artist blurb. But the concept is similar and essential to creating a brand and making an artist stand out. It's rather like a slogan ad writers use. Ariel walks you through this critical step and offers a video example. She also gives you ideas about how and where to place your brand.

And the great ideas just keep coming. Music Success in Nine Weeks shows you how to use your website to reach more fans, how to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and even podcasts to get your brand out there, how to use a blog to get reviews and create a buzz about your work, how to use newsletters and surveys, how to build a mailing list, how to network, and how to keep it all going. The big bonus chapter shows you how to do some traditional PR, such as writing a catchy press release and what to do with it and how to be your own publicist or choose a professional.

The price may seem excessive for an ebook or even a paperback, but it comes with a bonus--a lifetime membership and access to Ariel's online Mastermind Forum, which offers support from Ariel herself and industry veterans who have used the program. Their guidance can help the novice through the steps and answer any questions that come up. Also, Ariel directs readers to a number of videos and other online aids to help them with specific parts of the course.

Though Music Success in Nine Weeks was written with musicians in mind, it is perfect for other creative artists and small businesses. It is comprehensive and covers everything you need to known about marketing. And, most importantly, the information is written in a clear fashion as if Ariel were sitting across from a desk (or a computer) and showing you what you needed to do.

As a freelance journalist and novelist, I found the information essential to my own business and extremely helpful in forming my own brand and promoting my books. Music Success in Nine Weeks is a resource I will use again and again as I grow in my creative life. Thank you, Ariel!

Janie Franz

Jennifer's Bookshelf

The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing For Profit
C. Pinheiro (co-authored with Nick Russell)
Pineapple Publications
4023 De La Vina Way, Sacramento, CA 95823
9780982266007 $18.95

The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing For Profit: Start A Home Based Publishing Company and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book With CreateSpace and Amazon, is a cost-effective, invaluable reference tool for any writer.

The author, C. Pinheiro is an accredited business accountant. She has authored over thirteen books, including this Step-By-Step Guide, which she self-published with her own publication company, Pineapple Publications.

For writers of every profession, this book is a short, but thorough and concise guide to the necessary steps of becoming self-published. Additionally, C. Pinheiro includes sections on how to promote your product and make use of affiliate programs such as Google AdWords, and Amazon's affiliate program, where you can set up your own bookstore. Furthermore, the Step-By-Step Guide contains useful information on how to start-up and run your own publication company. Subjects from obtaining an ISBN number for your book, to getting a copy editor and designing cover art for your book is contained in this handy guide. There is also information on trademarks, and copyrights as well as discussions on the different forms of business structures to consider for your own company.

Traditional publishing remains very popular. However, this guide is very useful to someone who desires to publish their book, and has either limited resources, or has sent numerous query letters to no avail. It is very user friendly, and easy to understand. It is particularly helpful for individuals who have a non-fiction niche and desire to publish their work. Overall, this book is a thorough comprehensive guide packed with knowledge and helpful resources , which renders it a primary tool for anyone wishing to self-publish. The beautiful thing about this wonderful and extremely practical little guidebook, is that it allows the author power over their own work. If you truly want to publish your work, there are simple, relatively inexpensive steps you can take to accomplish your dream of publication, and C. Pinheiro does a great job outlining the steps it takes to get there.

Mr. Langshaw's Square Piano
Madeline Goold
Blue Bridge (USA)
240 West 35th Street, N.Y, N.Y. 10001
9781933346212 $24.95

Mr. Langshaw's Square Piano is an eloquent anecdotal story of how a formerly unrecognized and unnoticed organist in the 1700's had his hand in shaping our modern culture and society by the distribution of what we now know as the piano.

The author, Madeline Goold had bought an antique piano. After finding a handwritten inscription on the piano, she began to investigate. Her investigation brought her on a long journey as she discovered the historical account of the piano. Hence, the background for this extraordinary story.

In Britian, John Broadwood (1732-1812) was the first to produce and distribute the square piano in large numbers. Broadwood was known for meticulous record keeping and his sales records and archives are still intact till today. John Langshaw (1763-1832) became acquainted with the square piano by Broadwood, and later formed a business relationship with him. Through an unusual chain of events, John Langshaw actually ended up training under Reverend Charles Wesley (brother of John Wesley, founder of the Methodists).

The interesting thing I discovered reading this wonderful story by Goold, was how Mr. Langshaw had such an impact on history, although he was seemingly forgotten. Through Langshaw's business dealings with Broadwood, he had an instrumental impact on Northern England with the social changes that accompanied the piano. Even more interesting was to see how the piano was looked upon socially. I never realized the importance this instrument had in society. As Britian led the world in piano making, the piano was looked upon very prestigiously. It not only reflected the highest quality of furniture, but later became a commercial commodity. It was also considered a defining attribute of a lady. As the story progresses, we see how changes in musical taste reflected the social order, and how rapidly the square piano became a status symbol.

This is an intriguing story. It is also heartwarming to see the relationship between Langshaw's father and Wesley's father. Apparently Langshaw resided and trained with the Wesley's for years, while the father's communicated back and forth through handwritten letters. The love that both father's displayed for their children, and the respect and love they had for each other as friends, truly transcends time. The story of Ms. Goold's antique piano number 10651 a/k/a Mr. Langshaw's Square Piano, will remain a part of history for those who are willing to take the journey. Goold does an exceptional job in relating the historical facts and the story of her antique piano interestingly makes for a remarkable read!

Tell Me Something True
Leila Cobo
Grand Central Publishing (a division of Hachette Book Group)
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446-51936-6 $13.99 USA

Leila Cobo's debut novel, Tell Me Something True, hooked me from the beginning, and kept my attention to the very end! This fast moving story is set in Cali, Colombia. Gabriella Richards, is a young woman and classical pianist who lives in Hollywood with her father. Gabriella had lost her mother at a very young age. She is visiting her grandmother in Colombia, as she does every year.

Several things transpire, leading Gabriella to find her mother's old diary, which she discovers is written to and for her. As she reads through her mother's diary entries she finds many lies have been told over the years to protect her mother's secrets from being revealed.

As Gabriella deals with her mixed emotions and feeling of betrayal, she gets involved with the son of a known drug dealer who she had met at a party. As the two become more fond of each other, Gabriella is led on a journey of awakenings throughout her four week summer vacation in Columbia. Gabriella continues her quest to find the truth about her mother's apparent secret life that she led without her prior to her fatal accident.

The story crescendo's towards the culmination of events that leads Gabriella to learn the truth about her mother, and face some unpleasing things about the life of her lover. As all is revealed, Gabriella learns some difficult life lessons and discovers a few things about herself in the process.

Leila Cobo displays her remarkable writing skills through her characters. They are credible, and believable. She draws the reader into their world with amazing ease. Leila herself is a native of Cali, Colombia. She has degrees in journalism and piano performance and is a former concert pianist. She is well known and respected in her field. She is the executive director of Latin content and programming for Billboard. She also includes an author's note with some anecdotal notes, giving the reader insight into the inspiration for her impressive debut novel.

Redefining Beautiful
Jenna Lucado
Thomas Nelson
565 Royal Parkway, Nashville, TN 37214
9781400314287 $12.99

Redefining Beautiful: What God Sees When He Sees You, is a powerful workbook for young adult females. Jenna Lucado, with the help of her dad, minister and author Max Lucado, discuss many issues that young females encounter as they begin their journey through adulthood.

There are many discussions about how we as women, view ourselves, and how we would react under certain circumstances. Using various scenarios, Jenna Lucado does a great job in having the reader answer questions about themselves, where you can truly have time with yourself and reflect on how you view yourself, and why you react the way you do.

Redefining Beautiful is a workbook that allows the reader to look inside themselves and explore their own spirituality, as well as their relationships with their parents. The many reflections that Jenna Lucado includes in this book allows the reader to take inventory of their life, and genuinely and honestly look at areas that can be improved, while discovering the wonderfulness of the perfect Dad we all have. From issues such as self-esteem, confidence, and what we truly value as beauty, this little workbook is great for any girl approaching adolescence.

Jennifer Ochs, Reviewer

Jessica's Bookshelf

In Cheap We Trust
Lauren Weber
Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780316030281 $24.99

Do you assume something as being cheap because it is made in China or is associated with Wal-Mart? It does seem that there is indeed a lot of negativity towards this word and before I read this book I didn't quite understand how deep rooted "cheap" is in terms of history.

The author, herself interested as to why we behave like we do around cheap things, has decided to write this book all about it and its true meaning.

I saw so many idiosyncrasies in my own friends and family when the author described how her father behaves around such items as teabags (reusing the same one up to twelve times). Weber explores just why we act like we do and how the word cheap has come to mean something so negative.

Is it true we feel some sort of satisfaction and are altogether more self-assured because we paid more for something? Is there really any need to malign an object just because we paid less for it?

I sadly had to nod my head in shame as I saw myself in so many of these arguments.

Weber believes some of the issues lay in the advertising world but surely there is more to all of this then just pointing the finger at one aspect of it?

We are taken back in time to an era where housewives made their own produce and learned the values of thrift. Not a scrap of cloth was ever thrown out or a morsel of food wasted. These times were hard, that much is made clear, but surely we could all perhaps take on board some of these lessons from our great ancestors and learn to use them for ourselves?

The arrival of the supermarket in America is discussed at great length and was interesting to read. It meant that the ways of these money-conscious housewives were brought to a prompt halt. No more did they have to make do or waste their time travelling all over town to find just a few ingredients. They could now find it all under one roof and probably at half the price. This book examines these cultural changes and what they have come to mean today.

We delve into the meaning of cheap in the next chapter which talks of the Jewish culture and the ever-thrifty Chinese. It proved interesting to read and you begin to see our modern society in a different light. I'm now left wondering if the old belief that Chinese really do eat dogs is true which is well accounted in this book.

A poem about War Saving Stamps is nicely displayed for enthusiastic readers to enjoy which includes the lines:

"And now he dines on field mice,

And pals with other tramps,

Which never would have happened,

If he'd bought War Savings Stamps."

An excellent read which gives us plenty advice and ideas on how we can cope and survive in the future if we have to live through more recessions.

Evenings at the Argentine Club
Julia Amante
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780446581622 $13.99

Evenings at the Argentine Club is as unique and fresh as it is delightful and charming.

The tale begins by explaining the meaning of July the 9th. Not only is it widely recognized as Independence Day but it is also a date which brings back memories of "family celebrations centred around food, wine and heart-pounding renditions of the national anthem playing on every radio and TV across the nation."

Victoria Torres has observed the goings on on Independence Day in her house with her parents for 28 years and knows their rituals. Often she'd sit and listen time after time as her parents recalled memories of years gone by.

Her parents own a popular restaurant down town which always promises to be busy on a Sunday. It is in both ways a blessing and a curse.

Whenever the Torres family are free and have done their work the celebrations at the Argentine Club will beckon and bring the community together. It has been like this since Victoria was born. In fact the club has become like a second home.

One day Victoria finds a form as she's sorting out their papers - this one has her home address on. The next series of events throw her life into chaos. Will things ever improve?

Victoria is not sure it's a good idea for her dad to follow through with his expansion plans but at the same time she longs for all her father's ambitions to pay off.

Yet Victoria finds herself rushed off her feet with the up-keep of the restaurant and when family and friends make it all the more complicated, Victoria can't help but feel at an all time low.

What happens when Eric Ortelli, the ever successful son, decides to visit home for the first time in five years? The twists and turns that come along threaten to entangle Victoria forever.

This book portrays your typical family who search for that all-important American dream through life's ups and downs. Victoria and mother Jacqueline play the roles of parents and restaurant owners well. However when faced with challenges you do tend to question if they are strong enough to get through it all.

Daughter Victoria can be an insecure woman who wonders where she is meant to be in life.

I wanted to know what would eventually happen and if the family would get their dream. The only real part of this novel I struggled with was probably trying to recall who was who. Too many names for my liking but maybe others will feel differently?

A story interwoven with love, desire, conflict, secrets and tradition.

The Memory Thief
Rachel Keener
Center Street, Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10017
9781599951126 $13.99

Rachel Keener is the author of The Killing Tree and has written this new book of fiction.

It tells the tale of two women who appear to have different childhoods at first. However the more you get involved with this book the more you can see the shared themes that emerge.

We first learn about Hannah who grew to know that amongst other things she missed in Carolina any sort of comfort was also absent. Her family arrived there, armed with suitcases and religion and tried their best to get by. They insisted Hannah read good literature and attend church on a regular basis.

Work for Hannah was not easy, made all the more hard by the layers of clothing she was forced to wear. All in the name of God of course. Even her hair was to fit the strict requirements her parents imposed upon her. It reached her knees and names such as "Rapunzel" grew familiar to Hannah.

Underneath the name calling and the uncomfortable clothes Hannah really only cared about one thing: Sam. She was besotted with him but at the football game things began to change and the future didn't appear so good for them.

Angel's story reads altogether different at first. We are told how she burned down Snake Trailer, the only home she had grown to know, and walked away from the destruction. The mountains beckoned her and drew her in. Angel may have been angelic and shy when she was a girl but as she grew her name no longer meant what it once had. Mixing with the wrong people taught Angel bad ways and she eventually lost her wings for good.

Angel learnt to sleep beside the sycamore trees and chew on bacca as others did and to follow that voice which called her to the mountains.

You will read on as Hannah's life changes direction and takes a different meaning. Will those dreams of toy-filled Christmases and a love multiplied come true?

This novel unfortunately failed to hold my attention. The storyline just seemed to drone on a little too long for me and the ending was disappointing. I also struggled to really connect with the characters and I felt like there was something missing which might have given this fiction more appeal.

I Am Ozzy
Ozzy Osbourne with Chris Ayres
Sphere, Little Brown
Little Brown Book Group,
100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DY
9781847443465 20.00 Brit. pounds

Today Ozzy Osbourne is recognized as a world-wide celebrity famous for having musical roots with Black Sabbath and for starring in The Osbournes television show.

But how well do we really know Ozzy? Through the mass media and television we see a megastar living out the dream in a big house with pots of money. This is only one side to Ozzy's life and the rest is often kept hidden from the public. Now this autobiography has arrived which lifts the lid on Ozzy's past and the man he is today.

"My father always said I would do something big one day," recalls Ozzy in the first of the two parts in this book.

It becomes clear to the reader that Ozzy, although now out of the thick of his problems, had a hard start in life. He tells, only in the style Ozzy can, of how thieving became a part of his early years. As you reflect on this you realise that life can be rock bottom one minute and then sky-high the next.

Ozzy's parents and family weren't what you'd call religious and none, apart from Ozzy, went to church.

"I went to a Church of England Sunday school, 'cos there was f*** all else to do, and they gave you free tea and biscuits." Ozzy remembers. That is of course not to say Sundays were Ozzy's favourite day of the week. Ozzy tells of not having much fun in Aston where he was born. A place of grey skies, corner pubs and "sickly looking people who worked like animals on assembly lines."

Ozzy recalls the various jobs he got, including a job at the slaughter house. This was a job he appreciated very much but I simply didn't enjoy reading about the brutal ways in which the animals were often killed.

After these jobs Ozzy discovered what it was like inside prison. His accounts are vivid and detailed and a pleasure to read. I did however end up feeling much remorse for one of the prisoners Ozzy tells about who was a known child-molester. It made me wonder can you hate someone too much?

Eventually Ozzy's prison days were behind him and he and a group of guys decided to get together and form a band. Even then though, as this book portrays, times were not easy and money was still a problem.

Ozzy recalls the gigs, the girls, the music and the good times as well as the bad while being in Black Sabbath.

Inside you will learn the reasoning behind why Ozzy bit the head off a bat. It may surprise some of you. You'll also read about Sharon's cancer and how the family had to pull together to make it through those difficult times.

His accounts are fresh and he leaves no stone unturned, telling everything in an honest down-to-earth way - the only way Ozzy can.

We are taken on a roller-coaster ride into his past. Included are sections of photographs which capture moments of Ozzy's life bringing them to the reader in all their glory.

Nearly all the stories that have been mentioned in the media are told here by the man himself and he obviously is the only one who really knows what went on. The fights with Sharon, the cancer, the drugs and alcohol and the famous dirt bike incident which left Ozzy with a broken neck, eight fractured ribs and punctured lungs are all detailed in this remarkable autobiography.

I only have three words left to say: "Rock on , Ozzy!"

Teenage Hysteria
Mantle Rae
Outskirts Press
9781432746544 $23.95

This book by Mantle Rae tells of teenage years and its many problems.

The beginning proved very difficult to follow - Mantle mentions lots of names but not who these people are. All we are made aware of is a party, kids and enough booze to sink the Titanic. As is usually the case the mixture of teenagers and alcohol do not go together well and the party ends on an unpleasant note. It leaves the reader disturbed and alarmed.

Mantle becomes involved in a shooting at a party which leaves one friend ill and a bullet hole in the freezer door.

This isn't the only incident to occur in Mantle's world…drugs play a large part in it and teenage hysteria is indeed very much the essence.

Mantle was a very troubled teen with problems and someone who thought shooting the neighbour's dog was a game. He didn't yet know the values of life and often woke up with rolls of money in his pockets. How did it get there? Could this boy really be capable of stealing?

Behind closed doors and in the shadows money is exchanged for those illegal highs. Lying and stealing became as much a part of Mantle's life as the drugs themselves. Paranoia and shaking hands were all Mantle knew of life.

The reader is reminded this was a time where PlayStations and hi-tech gadgets never existed - a time when you had to make your own fun. Which when you consider Mantle's use of drugs is exactly what he did.

However how long could he keep his problem anonymous? Someone would surely find out.

Read how Mantle's "trips" often played tricks on him and how he learnt to cope with his problems.

"The next hour and a half is likened unto a dream: with feelings of teen hysteria now blowing in the wind; the purple and orange twinkles of sunshine love fairies wink their eyes at Alvin and his gold mutant chipmunks." Mantle writes, often intoxicated with drugs and booze.

An interesting story but I felt more attention to the chapter layout could have been made. Also I felt some more editing of this book could have improved the overall enjoyment of it. I came across bad grammar which spoilt the way in which it read. Otherwise however a good book which helps to demonstrate what happens to an individual once under the powerful lure of drugs. Could also be worth reading if you are studying how we use and abuse drugs.

Jessica Roberts

Karyn's Bookshelf

Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew: Stories and Essays from a Writing Life
Michael Morpurgo, author
Peter Bailey, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144
9780763636241, $18.99

"I write about what I know, about what I care about," Michael Morpugo says.

In musing over a new collection of 10 of his short stories, published over the past two decades, the former British children's laureate zeros in on that theme.

"Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew," was released in the U.S. this fall, three years after being published in the U.K. It intersperses the ten stories with ten essays about the writing craft.

Morpugo recalls having to let down a child who assumed that the settings in his tales were made up, dashing "his heart-warming opinion of me as some kind of imaginative genius."

"For just a moment I confess I considered lying to him…but I just couldn't do it. In the end I had to tell him that Scilly was in fact a real place, a scattering of little islands off the coast of Cornwall," Morpugo writes.

The sea figures a lot in "Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew." It's where Morpugo spent time as a child and continues to return to as an adult, and is the setting for one of his favorite novels -- Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island."

But the book's 263 pages also take readers down cobbled streets of small towns and deep into the countryside. In the title story a small town and lives are scarred by industrial progress. Cities figure in sometimes, but aren't the predominant locale.

And there are lots of people, animals and places scarred by war. Morpugo explains that by noting he grew up in London after World War II, playing among bombed-out buildings, and simply observing those around him. "I know what war does to people," he writes.

"Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew," Morpugo says with more than a hint that the project may have been a reluctant one, was an attempt to satisfy readers malcontent to just enjoy his writing. It was done for those "who would like to probe a little deeper, who are not happy simply to gaze at the field of ripe wheat dancing in the breeze and wonder."

Morpugo graciously indulges those people, inviting them into his life journey, even though it's clear he would rather simply write than spend time trying to explain himself.

Along the way other authors, particularly those still emerging, get an important lesson in the pen needing to imitate life. "Now I was beginning to write about what I cared about, not simply to entertain children or anyone else for that matter," Morpugo reflects.

His ponderings aside, "Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew" is also simply a great anothology, collectively celebrating the breadth of Morpugo's talent and highlighting the common threads between the tales that aren't as easily seen when they're published one by one.

The Storm in the Barn
Matt Phelan, author and illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St. , Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144
9780763636180, $24.99

Nature takes on a furious persona, but it can't match the strength a young boy finds within himself in Matt Phelan's hauntingly poignant graphic novel "The Storm in the Barn."

Phelan, who this time takes on the Dust Bowl of 1937 Kansas, has dealt in dust before as illustrator of 2007's Newbery Award-winning "The Higher Power of Lucky" by author Susan Patron, about a young girl in a remote desert town.

But this time Phelan takes responsibility for the entire package, not just the illustrations but also the words, with terrific results for a debut author.

The story follows a young boy named Jack, his family and surrounding community who have not only lost their source of agricultural income, but also their sense of hope as dust storms swirl where crops once grew and those with the financial means leave them behind for better locales.

The dust is taking its toll physically, with Jack's sister seriously ill with a pneumonia-like lung ailment caused by the particle-filled air.

And it's taking its toll psychologically on kids and adults, with tempers short and disturbing behavior such as when a mob of men and boys beat to death the rabbits that have been eating their remaining green foliage. The mob members catch themselves, with faces horrified at what they have done, but only after the rabbits are dead.

It's a credit to Phelan's skill as an illustrator, for a book recommended for kids as young as age 12, that scenes like the rabbit beating offer the full emotional punch if you study the drawings and especially the faces of the people involved. But they don't cross the line graphically, stopping short of overdoing it with excess blood and other violent elements.

Throughout the 200 pages, Phelan does a beautiful job of catching the emotions of those caught in such a dead-end situation - the sadness, the thin, drawn cheekbones, the weary eyes, the building anger and the hope still visible in the face of Jack's ill sister, Dorothy, as she alternately entertains her siblings by reading Frank Baum's "Oz" books and coughs until she collapses.

The inclusion of the "Oz" books in a story about a family trapped in Kansas is certainly a deliberate one, with great parallels to children who wish they, too, could fly over the rainbow.

But when Jack discovers the reason that the rain isn't falling - it's been held hostage by a specter-like creature in an abandoned barn - he takes it upon himself to rectify things.

The result is a tale about the power of the human spirit to persevere in the darkest times, beating back evil - great reading in a modern day fraught with worldwide economic challenges not seen since the 1930s.

Justine Larbalestier, author
Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781599903057, $16.99

The hints are all over the early pages of Justine Larbalestier's "Liar," for those who know what they're looking for. But, in the mark of a great emerging novelist, Larbalestier doesn't give away her hand in the jacket notes nor even in the first 170 pages - not until it begins to really dawn on readers what the nature of teen heroine Micah's genetic make-up might be, that might have contributed to the violent death of a male friend. In the book's acknowledgements Larbalenstier likens "Liar" to a jigsaw puzzle, and that is an apt description. The details of what led to the death and Micah's rare life story come slowly out, not always in chronological order and sometimes shifting factually mid-stream, sometimes oscillating between what really happened and what Micah wished would have happened, the distinction between which she gradually clarifies. "Liar" isn't perfect, lagging a bit mid-way with too much family history and talk of DNA. Pages might have been better spent offering elements such as the full story of Micah's brother's "accident." And in such an edgy book, the characterization of a young boy Micah sees while running in Central Park, who ultimately plays a significant plot role, feels a tad too soft-sided, as does the ending. But overall an intricately crafted, well-written page-turner that becomes less about her friend's brutal demise than about a young woman dealing with something she didn't choose, that she must somehow live with - or not. A must-re-read, to pick up on all the plot clues overlooked the first time through.

The Smallest Snowflake
Bernadette Watts, author and illustrator
North-South Books
1201 Ingram Dr., Chambersburg, PA 17202
9780735822580, $16.95

Simple seasonal joy wraps around "The Smallest Snowflake," author-illustrator Bernadette Watts' tale of a tiny frozen flake seeking her place in the world. As they begin to drift away from each other on a strong wintry wind, some of her companions look ahead to great things - whitening cathedrals and mountaintops, dazzling forest creatures. But after much soul searching, and watching where others land, the youngest snowflake of the group spots a rural cottage where a woman often comes to the window and smiles while she paints. In the end, from the place where she settles on a window box, the little snowflake ends up watering bursting spring flowers. A gentle story, accompanied by soft illustrations, that speak to charting your own way and letting others chart theirs. Textually and illustratively a lovely reminder that we all belong somewhere, and that patience is the key to letting our destiny play out.

Snow White: A three-dimensional fairy tale theater
Jane Ray, author and illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144
9780763644734, $19.99

Paper artist Jane Ray outdoes herself with a stunning three-dimensional tribute to the Grimm brothers' original tale of Snow White, complete with the poisoned comb and strangulation elements left out of the 20th Century Walt Disney version. The delicate, intricately detailed pop-ups take us inside Snow White's father's castle, to the woods and to the dwarves' cottage. Ray's decision to hide the text behind flaps designed to look like stage curtains does t double duty -- offering a kid-friendly puppet theatre feel and allowing readers who surely know the plot already to first drink in the illustrations, without the distraction of words. There are endless details to eye - from the laundry flapping outside the dwarves' cottage to the eastern European/Middle Eastern-looking dwarves to the animals, forest foliage, family portraits, plot elements and other tiny details penned into the multi-layered backgrounds. The delicacy of the paper makes this a book not for babies or toddlers , nor for all but the most gentle-handed of preschoolers, but really for older children and adults. They will eventually turn to the wonderful, classic, albeit somewhat lengthy text. But not after they take ample time with the art for it is the star here, gorgeous enough that it could, in fact, have stood on its own in the complete absence of any accompanying words.

Ghost Town
Richard W. Jennings, author
Houghton Mifflin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547194714, $16.00

Author Richard Jennings' wacky prose propels what might have been a ghost story into a crazy jaunt filled with sincere yet goofy characters and a hopelessly funny, meandering plot. "Ghost Town," about a boy and his mother who are the last remaining residents of a failed Kansas town, doesn't follow its initial trajectory, all but abandoning the early premise that the teenage hero, Spencer, has an enchanted, antique SLR camera that captures images of people who have left the area and whose essences are the only things remaining. Shots of an abandoned store come back with the former shopkeeper in them. Shots of a former next door neighbor's empty bedroom come back with her in them, talking on the phone. That could have gone a spooky way, but Jennings turns the plot on its head, jumping instead to focus on Spencer's dealings with a Caymen Islands publisher of a mail-order novelty catalog. When Spencer sends a copy of a poetry book written by his imaginary friend, Chief Leopard Frog, to the publisher, the writing becomes an instant hit, drawing world-wide attention and an unexpected visit by a young female reporter from a poetry magazine. In the hands of a lesser writer "Ghost Town" might have felt hopelessly disjointed but Jennings' is a deliberate intent to not pin the plot down. That, combined with great wit, keeps "Ghost Town" afloat through hilarious twists and turns that may not always make sense, but always entertain.

The Christmas Magic
Lauren Thompson, author
Jon J. Muth, illustrator
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780439774970, $16.00

Simplicity reigns as author Lauren Thompson and illustrator Jon J. Muth's paint a quiet, contemplative picture of Santa Claus and his North Pole home. Nowhere to be found in "The Christmas Magic" are a bustling polar city, noisy elves' workshop, jolly red suit, ho-ho-ho or even Mrs. Claus. Santa, this time, pads around his two-story farmhouse in rolled up jeans and bunny slippers, darns his socks in a sparsely furnished room with a reindeer curled up like a dog at his feet and on Christmas Eve wears wintry blue robes and a matching pointed hat, which in combination with his long white beard offer a feel similar to Albus Dumbledore of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. The similarities to Dumbledore, painted in the Rowling books as a kind, loving parental-type figure, continue, with Santa lovingly plucking burrs from his reindeer's fur, gently polishing his sled to gleaming, closing up his creased leather sack and standing in the snow on Christmas Eve thinking of the world's children "and how he loves them so" until a unspecified mysticism arrives that allows the reindeer to alight from the ground. Muth makes beautiful use of different color schemes, juxtaposing wintry blues and greens with bright bursts, including the deep red sleigh, purple berry reindeer food, neon stoneware on a workshop shelf and Santa's intense blue eyes. The text has a sparse feel, similar to 2005's "Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert" by Marla Frazee. But while Frazee's Santa was Crayola-hued and rollicking, at one point giving a pogo stick a try, this Santa is peaceful and solitary. A wonderful new version of a man whose image is so entrenched that breaking the jolly, red-suited mold otherwise might seem unthinkable. But why stick to that box? Thompson and Muth break Santa out of it, forging fresh new ground. Magically.

Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life
Catherine Reef, author
Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780618987054, $20.00

Award-winning biographer Catherine Reef offers young readers an easily-readable, straightforward primer on the inspired yet tumultuous existence of a 20th Century literary icon. "Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life" is listed for children as young as 10, so the details of his extramarital affairs, alcoholism and passion for violence required tempering, and Reef succeeds at that, melding age-appropriate talk of his personal issues with discussion of his published writing that won both Pulitzer and Nobel prizes and spanned 11 novels, four works of non-fiction, nine volumes short story, poetry and drama and countless newspaper and magazine articles including coverage from the front of both World Wars I and II.

Of course, as with any artist, "stories mirror lives," as Reef notes as she draws toward the 192-page book's conclusion. Well-stocked with photos and backed by a final 40 pages of notes, bibliography, credits and index, "Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life" meticulously lays out Hemingway's roller-coaster, bi-polar life. We learn of his too-strict, unsupportive parents, his likeability that drew many friends, his four wives and three sons, his world travels including legendary time in Paris in the 1920s, his captivation with Spanish bullfighting, African hunting trips and other violent and hyper-masculine pastimes, and his bouts with depression and ultimate mental breakdown that ended in a gun-inflicted suicide. Of course, there's also his writing: the famously sparse use of verbiage and intense subject matter that won both rave reviews and ample criticism, including from his parents. His mother characterized 1926's "The Sun Also Rises," as "one of the filthiest books of the year." "I shall trust your future books will have different sort of subject matter," wrote his father. "You have such a wonderful ability and we want to be able to read and to ask others to enjoy your work." Writing in a fresh way about someone already so well-covered is hard, but Reef does it well, offering an insightful volume that will appeal not just to students, but also to adults seeking a baseline account of Hemingway's work and the things that influenced it.

The Little Red Elf
Barbara Barbieri McGrath, author
Rosalinde Bonnet, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472
9781580892360, $14.95

Lazy companions get their just desserts in a Christmas season take on the classic "Little Red Hen." A little red elf - who interestingly, clearly resides at the traditionally bustling North Pole with no one but her animals friends, no Santa or other elves in sight despite multiple references to holiday things like a red sleigh -- is readying for Christmas. As with the heroine in "Little Red Hen" the elf gets stuck with all the work while her friends loaf. She polishes the sleigh, untangles the lights, bakes the cookies, shovels the snow and (sort of miraculously) grows a Christmas tree from a seed overnight, then harvests and decorates it. The friends, of course, are eager to ultimately open presents and after an initial angry retort of "I'm going to open all the presents myself," the elf lets them. But then she delights as they find the boxes filled with little red hens. Some adult readers might suggest a better conclusions would have been to have the elf set her resentment aside and offer better gifts, or for the animal friends to come to their senses and acknowledge they should have been contributing more. But there is also validity to righteous anger, and expressing to those taking advantage of your good nature that their slothful behavior isn't appreciated. "The Little Red Elf" is a good outlet for those who would love to give such presents to the difficult people in their lives, but whose goodness stops them short of that line. And it's a good message for those who fall on the lazy size of the equation. Some people might also say that the red elf epitomizes those who try to do too much during the holidays, and that she might take a lesson in her friends' more deliberate lifestyle. All those potential messages aside, however, "The Little Red Elf" is captivatingly illustrated in lovely wintry and holiday hues. Its attractiveness will help the idea of pitching in come through for young readers, while older readers and adults can chuckle at the retributive ending.

Bears on Chairs
Shirley Parenteau, author
David Walker, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St. , Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144
9780763635886, $15.99

In a delightful way that will engage the youngest toddler and offer lessons to children through early elementary school, author Shirley Parenteau and illustrator David Walker offer a pastel-hued social skill primer in "Bears on Chairs." There are nods to sharing, to the sadness that comes from not having enough of what's being shared for everyone in the room and wonderful pint-sized problem solving. Four really cute, stuffed toddler-esque bears find seats on a row of four wooden chairs. But when a bigger bears shows up, there aren't enough seats to go around. Eventually, by using their noggins and pushing all four chairs together they fashion a long bench that accommodates everyone. In addition to the group problem solving element, "Bears on Chairs" is a good introduction for older kids to the spatial/mathematical concept that you gain a few inches more for every chair pushed together. If you do that enough times, all can sit. Also a great use of rhyme and of simple yet absorbing language. And gentle, soft illustrations that will hold readers' attention to the end.

The Princess Blankets
Carol Ann Duffy, author
Catherine Hyde, illustrator
Templar Books/Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144
9780763645472, $18.99

Its stunning, foiled inlaid cover is just the start of what, inside, is among the year's best written and illustrated picture books, measuring up to September's "The Lion and the Mouse" by James Pinkney. "The Princess Blankets" is the story of a princess who simply cannot get warm, no matter how many blankets are heaped on her. Her concerned parents issue a call, saying a suitor who succeeds in warming her up may marry her. Among the respondents is an evil man with "cruel eyes" who tries to win her hand by covering her one by one with blankets belonging to the ocean, the forest, the mountains and the earth. Not wanting to become this man's wife the princess stubbornly resists, and remains cold. Not only does the evil man not solve her dilemma - he destroys the ecosystem, with no ocean, forest, mountains or earth left for the kingdom's people to enjoy. Fish, animals, mountain streams, farm crops - all are gone, heaped on the still-freezing girl. Then one day a warm-hearted musician comes bearing love, and as the two embrace the blankets fall away and the earth's natural elements are restored. Of course, the two ultimately marry. The story itself is gracefully and classically written, with beautiful use of language such as when the evil man is characterized as having "hard, gray eyes like polished stones," and when one by on the blankets are described. The ocean's blanket, for instance, "was woven in blues and greens and grays, and it moved over her body in clumsy, urgent waves." The forest blanket "was coarse and spiky, and as the princess tried to push it off, it scratched at her arms and hands, drawing blood." Then there are the illustrations - particularly the use of color that captures the distinct geographic feel of the four blankets - grays and whites and silver for the mountains, deep browns and copper for the earth. The love between the musicians and princess ushers in warm pinks, reds and blues. Simply gorgeous on all fronts.

Little Red Riding Hood
The Brothers Grimm, authors
Bernadette Watts, illustrator
North-South Books
1201 Ingram Dr., Chambersburg, PA 17202
9780735822566, $16.95

Beloved European children's illustrator Bernadette Watts lends her talented hand to yet another classic fairy tale. This time it's "Little Red Riding Hood" following publications of recent years that have included "The Snow Queen" and "The Bremen Town Musicians" "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Lion and the Mouse." The story is traditionally straightforward: a wolf meets Little Red Riding Hood in the woods, succeeds in distracting her by suggesting she pick flowers, and heads to Grandma's House, where he eats the old lady whole. Riding Hood shows up and the wolf swallows her too. Ultimately, both Riding Hood and grandma are saved by a hunter, and the wolf's stomach is filled back up with rocks, killing him. Watts' acrylics are simple and old-fashioned feeling, with a mix of soft and harsher edges, and jewel tones juxtaposed with the earthier colors of the forest. A lovely adaption.

Max and the Dumb Flower Picture
Martha Alexander, author and illustrator
James Rumford, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472
9781580891561, $9.95

With help from James Rumford, who completed her illustrations based on the manuscript she left, the late Martha Alexander lends a child's eye to the idea of not letting your creativity be boxed in. Max, a little boy, is dismayed by his teacher's suggestion that he color a stock, coloring book line drawing of a rose for his mom's Mother's Day gift. The other children do as the teacher instructs, but Max runs outside and hides behind a bush, where he turns the paper over and draws his own flower. When the other children see what he's done they also turn their papers over and make flowers independently, to the ultimate delight of their interestingly diverse group of mothers. The use of the word "dumb" is keenly fitting, the exact verbiage a 6-year-old would use to describe a frustrating situation. A short tale that will appeal to kids, teachers and parents, reminding everyone that children are best left to forge their own ideas.

Crow Call
Lois Lowry, author
Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780545030359, $16.99

In a way that will instantly resonate with any military family who has lived through a long parental deployment, Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry draws on personal experience to follow a young girl and her father as they reacquaint after World War II. At the book's conclusion Lowry notes that the story is a true one, based on a morning spent with her father in 1945. And she includes a photograph of herself in a man's plaid shirt, identical to the one worn by "Crow Call's" heroine, Liz. The story follows Liz as she sets out with her stranger father on a frosty November morning that will eventually include breakfast at a local diner and hunting for crows, who have become too populous and are destroying crops. They begin the day distantly with her father not even knowing standard things about her like her favorite food. But warmth slowly creeps in, as they giggle about a waitress who mistook Liz for a boy, as they speak seriously about whether he was afraid in the war, and as laughter breaks fully forth as they progress from crow calls to silly calls of other animals like cows, lions and giraffes. In the end, Liz takes her father's hand to walk up a hill and they are en route to a renewed relationship. Along the way, Russian-born illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline gently and believably captures the pair's initial hesitations, hones in on details like the father's war-weary eyes, and gradually brings them together.

Karyn Saemann

Liana's Bookshelf

Woman: A New Definition
Gina Cloud
Booksurge Publishing
9781439236314 $27.99

Gina Cloud is an internationally known radio talk show host of the program "Redefining WOMAN", life coach, dancer, mother and a passionate WOMAN. She is also an expert in nutrition and natural beauty. She is a native of New Orleans and lives currently in Los Angeles with he daughter.

Woman, A New Definition, is an inspirational book that focuses on the inner feelings of a woman and her role in society. The author approaches the theme from various angles, elaborating on each female quality and explaining the magic that lies within each aspect. It is a strong read that inspires readers and especially women who need to learn all about their magical qualities and enhance them. It is educational and entertaining as well, and caters not only to women worldwide but also to men who would like to get educated about female matters.

Written in a simple and clear style, Woman is a definitely a wonderful book that embraces feminine aspects in such a sensitive and intimate way that grips the reader from start to finish. Get this book from online stores.

Mozart in the Future
Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters
Lightning Source
Uk Ltd, Milton Keynes UK
9783950280401 $8.95

Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters, a teacher and graduate in Artistic Education at the University of Mogi das Cruzes, has completed a course in Fine Arts and has become a regional judo champion at Mogi das Cruzes! Learn more about her at

Mozart in the Future is a book for kids that focuses on a fantastic adventure involving Mozart and music! Max, a little boy, has a talent for music. But one day he is ill at home, Max meets Mozart, one of his heroes, and follows his adventures.

The story is simple and enjoyable, full of wonderful cartoons made by Pedro Caraca, the illustrator. His work is here

The translator of the story is Paula Vaz-Carreiro

This enjoyable little book caters to all children who love music and those who would like to know more about Mozart as a child. It is also suitable for teachers, parents and educators around the world. Get this book from online stores and from

Liana Metal, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

King Ruma
Lee Winter Thorne
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434383655, $17.99,

It's a tall order for a boy king to be faced with the challenge of the underworld. "King Ruma: And the Well of Souls" is the first book in Lee Winter Thorne's series about the rise of a young Egyptian king and the many challenges he faces. Filled with magic and intrigue, the King Ruma stories will do much to keep young readers reading, making "King Ruma" a strong choice for children's fantasy collections.

Passing Through
Ron Smith
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781441550347, $19.99,

Some work is never done, and even death won't stop it. "Passing Through" is the story of the restless spirit of Palmer Bramlett as he oversees the lives of the people who live in his most treasured home after his death. Not a vengeful spirit, Palmer connects with the family in unique and unusual ways to help them with their problems that range from murder to illness. "Passing Through" is an intriguing look at the world of spirits, highly recommended.

The Black-Print
Malik Green
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432743864, $19.95,

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. "The Black-Print: Black America's Blueprint for Achieving Wealth, Prosperity, and Respect" discusses the problems facing modern African Americans where opinions of one poor individuals so often get imprinted of other members of the same race. Pushing readers that the mass, not the few, needs to change the image, "The Black-Print" is a call to action, well worth considering for the progressive minded African American.

To Be An Agnostic
James Kirk Wall
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440166587, $15.95,

Agnosticism is a philosophy all its own. "To Be An Agnostic: An Agnostic Approach to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" discusses agnosticism as a philosophy, extending it from religion to a pursuit of knowledge. From everything from problem solving to morality, "To Be An Agnostic" is an intriguing and worthwhile read for those trying to understand agnosticism and what it means to identify as one.

An Atheist's Testament
Bernard Sarachek
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161881, $12.50,

Atheism is not the lack of faith, but a different faith in itself. "An Atheist's Testament" is a collection of reflections on Atheism from Bernard Sarachek as he examines the history of atheism in America and how he came into his own faith. Discussing where an atheist stands in moral matters, "An Atheist's Testament" is an intriguing analytical look at the disbelief in God.

Murder in the Garden District
Greg Herren
Alyson Books
245 West 17th Street, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10011
9781593501051, $14.95,

With power comes ever growing secrecy. "Murder in the Garden District" is a mystery following Chanse MacLeod as he must dig through the elite families of New Orleans in order to find out who was truly behind a certain murder. Truth, however, is constantly out of reach when everyone seems to be working against you, and may go at no ends to prevent it from escaping. "Murder in the Garden District" is a strong choice for any mystery fan.

W. T. Hunsucker
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave . South, New York, NY 10016
9780533154999, $15.95,

If you had an opportunity to change history, would you take it? "Timelord: Dawn of the White Spirit" tells the story of a distant future. The United States of 2087 wants to disarm itself after the third world war. But Tommy Garvey has ideas for what to do with the weapons even though the country may not like it. Armed with weapons centuries ahead of the curve, the Native Americans of the nineteenth century, may be able to hold their own and establish their own country. "Timelord" is an interesting take on native American affairs, highly recommended.

Making Sense of Me
Aaron Heinrich
Privately Published
9781439235980, $16.99

Writing about everything, the hardest subject may still be yourself. "Making Sense of Me" is a memoir from Aaron Heinrich, as he reflects on his decades in public relations. Facing everything from cancer to suicide, to family issues, and more, his story is one many will relate to and find comfort in. "Making Sense of Me" is worth considering for memoir fans, recommended.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Stan's Leap
Tom Duerig
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595508488, $21.95,

Away from civilization, is life really all that bad? "Stan's Leap" tells the story of of Jenny and Stan, who sign up to go on a vacation to a remote Polynesian island, promoting an authentic experience. But they soon learn it's more authentic than they hope, as they can't leave. "Stan's Leap" is a riveting read of paradise gone wrong, highly recommended.

Judith Montgomery
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449012083, $15.49,

The struggle for independence is quite the inspiration. "Aksandar" tells the story of Aziz Rashani, an Afghani man who seeks to protect Afghanistan from the invasion of a cruel and corrupt force of the Soviet forces. Blending history with fiction, "Aksandar" is a fine and intriguing read, worth the consideration.

Seek His Face
Carla D. Chapple
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781607919698, $11.99,

The search for God should easy, but why do so many struggle? "Seek His Face: Speaking God's Joy and Peace Into Your Life" is Carla D. Chapple hoping to help Christians find God and Jesus and make them more prominent into your life. Worthwhile for those who want to invite the unconditional love of God into their lives, "Seek His Face" is a strong pick for Christians.

The Awkward Season
Pamela C. Hawkins
Upper Room Books
1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN 37212
9780835899970, $15.00,

The time of Lent is meant to be a time of reflection. "The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent" is a Christian's guide to lent. With spiritual advice on prayers of many sorts, relevant scripture, and more, any Christian not entirely sure of the value of Lent will be well informed. "The Awkward Season" is a fine addition to any religious collection.

The Devil's Playground
Dutchess Taylor
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432742911, $21.95,

What goes on in a relationship between the imprisoned and the free? "The Devil's Playground: Redemption and Deliverance" is a memoir of Dutchess Taylor reflecting on her life with Chris, a man who has been incarcerated through most of their relationship. Biracial, with a generational gap, this relationship puzzles many, but Dutchess hopes to explain it and offers a very different sort of love story. "The Devil's Playground" is a top pick for its unique tale.

Lessons for the Journey Called Life
Elaine A. T'souvas
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161560, $14.95,

There are some universal truths embraced by all faiths. "Lessons for the Journey Called Life: Spiritually Inspired" are the spiritual reflections of Elaine A. T'souvas, as she offers much in the way of thought and inspiration for readers who are looking through life to find those answers that are oh so elusive. "Lessons for the Journey Called Life" is a strong choice for spirituality readers, not to be ignored.

Going to the Dogs
James Thomas Odom
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161539, $9.95,

Lessons of life always seem to present themselves in the most intriguing of ways. "Going to the Dogs" tells the story of Dickie, a dog who inherits millions from an eccentric owner. But the family of the owner isn't about to leave it to a canine, and eliminating the dog may leave it to them. But family bonds may form, giving what is originally a greedy grab for money something that may form a learning experience. "Going to the Dogs" is a humorous and very entertaining read.

Margaret Lane

Paul's Bookshelf

Scarecrow in Gray
Barry D. Yelton
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595401857, $15.95

Francis Yelton (actual ancestor of the author) is a reluctant participant in the last months of the Civil War. He would much rather stay on his North Carolina farm, but, he also does not want to be known as the 19th Century equivalent of a draft dodger. Along with Whit Whitaker, his neighbor and fellow farmer, Yelton joins the Confederate Army.

These are desperate times for the Southerners. The men are haggard, exhausted collections of skin and bones. Starvation is an everyday concern; when there is food, which is rare, it is usually moldy and inedible. More men are lost to disease and desertion than to northern artillery. Deserters are usually shot on sight. The war's outcome is a foregone conclusion; it's only a matter of time.

Alongside small pockets of humanity, Whit and Francis see the horror of war, up close and personal. The first Union soldier that Francis kills in hand-to-hand combat is only a teenager, who forgives Francis as he dies. Both Francis and Whit are injured, so they experience a field hospital. It's a place where the main medical activity seems to be amputating of limbs, and the only available anesthetic is whiskey. Whit loses one of his eyes, and the eye socket has to be cleaned out, to prevent the onset of gangrene. Both men are at Appomattox Court House to witness the official end of the war. On their way back home, both men are distressed to learn that the killing does not end just because the war is over.

As much as possible, this is a historically accurate novel, and it shows. It was written by someone who really knows his way around the finer points of the War Between The States. By all means, read the official histories of the Civil War. To get the point of view of the average soldier, the reader could do a lot worse than start right here.

Broken Gourds
Beresford McLean
Anancy Books
P.O. Box 28677, San Jose, CA 95159-8677
0975329707, $15.95

In present-day Jamaica, the government wants to build a road that will greatly help the small town of Albion. The problem is that the route will force the demolishing of an old, decrepit building with a sign that says "Balm Yard and House of God". Victor Rawlings, the village representative, sits down the government people, and the local children, and tells them the story of Dada.

Dada was a young man who could not complete the simplest of tasks. Today, he might be called "slow" or "learning disabled," one person called him an idiot savant (each Sunday at church, Dada shows off his amazing singing voice). Prince, his father, is at his wit's end. One day, in his early twenties, Dada has a very strange dream. When he wakes up, his disability is gone. He is convinced that his purpose on Earth is to spread peace and brotherhood. He decides to take the name Brother Walk.

He also has the power to heal the sick, so Brother Walk's fame spreads like wildfire. His followers build the Balm Yard, which becomes his church and residence. Attendance at Albion's First Baptist Church plummets to only a handful, which leads Albion's leading citizens to consider ways to get rid of Brother Walk, once and for all.

Brother Walk has the ability to see directly into a person's soul, and tell them exactly what is bothering them. With the women, that usually leads to ending up in bed with him. If a person is having financial problems, and is about to lose their farm, Brother Walk gives them the money to pay the bill. The only stipulation is that they must sign over the deed of their land to Brother Walk. In later years, Brother Walk has a dream which he interprets as a command to circumcize everyone in the village, starting with a young woman named Ruth, who Brother Walk tells that they are getting married. He does not ask Ruth, he tells her that they are getting married.

This is quite a story of humanity, temptation and modern religion combined with old religious practices. It's about a place alien to most people, and it is very much worth checking out.

Listen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win
Robert Creamer
Seven Locks Press
3100 West Warner Avenue, Suite 8, Santa Ana, CA 92704
0979585295 $23.95

Based on four decades of hands-on experience, this book shows how, for political progressives, being right on the issues is less important than being the winner.

A campaign should concentrate their attention on two types of voters: persuadables, or swing voters, and mobilizables, supporters who need to be motivated to go to the polls. If a campaign can peel off the occasional GOP voter or two, that's great, but do not spend a lot of time or money on it. A campaign needs to find, and address, people's self interests: physical needs, need for structure, intellectual stimulation, control over your life, etc.

These days, it is tempting to base a campaign around new media, like blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Do not, for any reason, abandon old-fashioned Get Out the Vote methods, like phone banks, calling people several times during the campaign, and knocking on doors. People like to be asked for their vote.

All the effort in the world will be worthless if the candidate is boring or wishy-washy on the issues. People like to feel that the candidate is on their side, that they aren't afraid to stick to their values, that they have vision and integrity, and that the candidate respects the voters. Next in importance after having a good candidate is having good organizers and a field operation that can cover the whole area (town, district, state).

It's tempting to think that the election of President Obama, and the current unpopularity of the national Republican Party, makes this book not necessary or obsolete. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's easy, in relative terms, to win one election, whether on the local, state or national level. The hard part is to continue the day-to-day work to get voters to realize that Progressivism can become the dominant American political philosophy. Besides, the Republicans will not stay unpopular forever. They will be back, perhaps in 2010, perhaps in 2012, and Progressives cannot wait for them to return before they start fighting for the future of America. They should be doing everything possible to change the playing field, now.

This book is an excellent place to start. It is full of information for people planning any sort of political campaign, and is extremely highly recommended.

The Upside of Fear
Weldon Long
Greenleaf BookGroup Press
P.O. Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781608320004 $19.95

This is the true story of one man's journey from rags to riches.

The author was a twenty-something alcoholic high school dropout; overall, a pretty dislikable person. One night, driving around in his pickup, he picks up a hitchhiker. Fueled by large amounts of beer and cocaine, they rob a couple of businessmen coming out of a Colorado restaurant. They are arrested later that night, which begins a decade-long journey through the criminal justice system.

After several years in prison, he is sent to a halfway house. While living with his son and second wife, he commits several armed robberies. In prison for the second time, the author begins to realize that his life does not have to be a downward spiral. He reads every book he can find on success, from authors like Napoleon Hill, Wayne Dyer and Stephen Covey, and begins to take it to heart. While out for the second time, he gets involved in shady telemarketing, and finds that he is really good at it. For a time, he runs his own "boiler room," until the authorities catch up with him. A central part of his new philosophy is to take responsibility for his actions, which means a third trip to prison on federal fraud charges.

The biggest reason for wanting to change his life is to not be an emotionally distant father to his son, like his father was to him. In prison, he gets his GED, a Bachelor's degree in Law, and then an MBA. To show how much he has changed, he saves a guard's life (not a path to popularity in prison). Out of prison again, he gets a sales job for a heating company, and is really good at it. After a couple of layoffs, perhaps for being "too good" or "too ambitious," he and Wife #3 start their own heating company, which becomes very successful.

Long does a fine job of showing how anyone can change their life. No one is beyond help. The first steps are to want to change, and then to visualize yourself as a changed person.

From Prison to Paycheck: What No One Ever Tells You About Getting a Job
Pam Hogan
Community Press
P.O. Box 31667, San Francisco, CA 94131
9780979429491 $19.95

Among the many challenges faced by those just released from prison is that of getting a job. Those with a job are much more likely to stay out of prison than those without one. This book attempts to make that challenge less challenging.

Think of a resume as equivalent to a business card. It's required; the book tells exactly how to write it. For those whose work history is spotty or non-existent, register with a temporary employment agency. Going on a variety of jobs will help to narrow down the type of jobs that you do (or do not) want, they will provide experience to put on a resume, and the paycheck does not hurt. Volunteering is another way to get experience to put on a resume. Target your resume for different types of positions. A resume that highlights your experience as a landscape gardener will be of little help in applying for a security guard position.

Treat your job search as a full-time job. Carefully read the on-line or newspaper ads. If it says, for instance, "no phone calls" or "apply in person," then follow it. If your qualifications don't exactly match the requirements, apply and go for an interview, anyway. The more job interview experience you can get, the better off you will be. You need to be out there every day, filling out applications and leaving off resumes.

The book goes through the job interview process, including a list of questions the interviewer will ask. Practice the answers to these questions ahead of time, so that you will sound confident and "with it," instead of hesitating and unsure of yourself.

At some point, the question will be asked: Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Do not lie, because the truth will eventually be discovered, but there is no need to include every detail. If that part of your life is, honestly, never to return, find a way to say so. The book gives some suggested responses.

This book does a fine job at making the job search process as painless as possible. It is not just good for those just out of prison, but also for those whose work history is less than stellar.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Toy Story Storybook with 3-D Viewer
Reader's Digest Children's Books
Reader's Digest Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570
9780794419042 $15.99

The two stories in this book are based on the films, Toy Story and Toy Story 2. In the first story Woody the cowboy is worried that the new toy Buzz Lightyear will become Andy's favorite. But when Sid the evil neighbor kid steals Buzz, Woody comes to the rescue. In the second story Andy rips Woody's arm by accident and winds up at the yard sale. Al the toy collector steals him but Buzz sees the whole thing and pulls off a daring rescue. While Toy Story is a huge favorite with kids these stories contain too much exposition and not enough dialogue. They seem more like plot synopses than stories. Older readers (ages 8-10) will appreciate the action sequences more than younger children.

The book comes with a 3-D viewer and 3-D image cards. The viewer is difficult to remove from the book and can easily be damaged in the process. There is no pocket in front of the book to keep the cards. The 3-D images are fun to look at and add much detail to the stories. However they are small and must be viewed in bright light.

This is an attractive book with popular characters children love. Its most redeeming quality is that it's designed to be read to a child while he watches the images in the viewer, which sets it apart from other novelty books and makes it a suitable gift.

A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas
Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills
Illustrated by Wilson Swain
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9780811861113 $18.99

When Fritz Stahlbaum breaks his sister's favorite nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve, his parents take away his favorite video game, Mouse Hunter 5000. Adding insult to injury the rest of the family rushes off to see the Nutcracker ballet and the boring neighbor Mr. Drosselmeier comes to babysit. But Fritz sneaks off, unlocks the toy closet and plays with his video game anyway. And that's when the real adventure begins. Can Fritz defeat the Mouse King and save Christmas?

Wilson Swain's illustrations are reminiscent of Tim Burton's animations and contain dialogue banners and humorous character antics that add layers of fun to the action-packed story.

This book also comes with a CD which includes the audiobook of the story plus fun, sing-along songs from the hit musical "A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas".

"A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas" is part Nutcracker, part Night Before Christmas, part Year Without Santa Claus, all rolled into one wacky adventure kids will read again and again. This has all the makings of a Christmas classic.

Kung Fu Kitty
Lauri Bortz, Illustrated by Marianne Nowottny
Abaton Book Company
100 Gifford Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07304
9780981655000 $15.00

In the Monkey Kingdom, all cats live as slaves of the monkeys. Wu Zhua was born with five claws into a family of six-clawed cats. The Monkey King denounces her and demands she be drowned. Her mother, Ma Mao cannot bear to see her special kitten destroyed. With the help of Zhi Shui Zhi Shen, the Water God, she sends Wu Zhua upriver to live with the exiled Monkey Princess Shuang Wei who was banished for her own particular deformity. Wu Zhua and Shuang Wei live together like sisters for many years until one day the Monkey King becomes ill. Shuang Wei is called upon to fulfill her duties as Heir to the throne.

The sudden calling thrusts Wu Zhua and Shuang Wei back into the Monkey Kingdom where monkeys and cats are not friends. They are master and slave and Wu Zhua's master is the Princess. Wu Zhua learns the truth about her past and the plight of the oppressed cats and kittens. Zhi Shui Zhi Shen makes an unusual return appearance and shows Wu Zhua the path to her destiny. Must Wu Zhua go to war with Shuang Wei in order to liberate the cat kingdom?

Based on the story of Exodus, "Kung Fu Kitty" illuminates a different way to achieve courage and strength. Bortz has created a mystical tale - in more ways than one - of self-discovery and friendship. Wu Zhua will pounce into the hearts of readers. Nowottny's black and white drawings add just the right amount of Chinese flavor to spice this up into an original and appealing graphic novel.

As an added bonus, this book comes with a DVD. The video presentation of the story is narrated by Lauri Bortz. It stars four talented live cats, a horde of mischievous stuffed monkeys, and eye-popping special effects. Altogether this makes a uniquely charming package.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

Battle Scarred
Kylen Pattermann
Comfort Publishing, LLC
9450 Moss Plantation Avenue N.W., Concord, NC 28027
1935361201 $14.99 704-782-2353

Brave, skilled, but badly beaten, unconscious Dera awakens in a deep wood. Severe blows to his head and body have left him barely alive - dazed - with no memory of whom he is, where he is, or where he's from. After awakening then falling unconscious several times, the young man musters enough courage and strength to stand and stumble forward. At the forest's edge, he collapses again, but not until a young maiden has seen him.

In Battle Scarred, the young woman and her father, Mela and Fra, carry the injured Dera to their humble farm home in West Maytheia to begin a long period of recovery. Since he has almost no memory, he identifies with Mela and Fra, telling himself these two humans might as well be family. While recovering his strength, Dera spends many hours with beautiful Mela. The two become infatuated with each other. Dera regains his muscular strength by helping Fra work his farm.

Dera learns of a treacherous civil war playing out between East and West Maytheia, which has raged for years. As word spreads of an impending attack from the East, the inhabitants of West Maytheia are aware of their weak position. Dera is conscripted into the West's army, deeply troubled by the threat that the army will burn Fra's farm if he refuses to enlist and leaving beautiful Mela behind.

The West's army knows it will be defeated unless it receives help from a large number of elves who dwell high in the trees along the western coast of Maytheia. As an emissary to plead with the Elven queen and king for support, Dera is sent to Maytheia. His journey forces him to cross the Ceies Mountains where he is captured by dwarfs. Their kingdom is an intricate series of perfectly formed, rectangular tunnels inside the Ceies Mountains. The dwarfs do not harm Dera but take him prisoner. They have pledged to prevent all wars with humans.

As Battle Scarred continues, Dera manages a tricky escape from the dwarfs and arrives at the kingdom of the elves. These peaceful creatures live high above the dense forest floor in the canopy of trees where they have interwoven gigantic limbs and branches to support their walkways and buildings. The elves reach the ground via elaborate steps carved inside huge forest trees.

At first the king and queen refuse to support any war effort until Dera convinces them that war could eventually ruin their society and peaceful way of life. When Dera helps expose a traitor among them, the rulers agree to assist in ending the civil war. They will send several hundred elves to fight on the side of West Maytheia. Dera returns to the West's army and prepares for battle. He fights courageously with a weapon given to him by Fra. The sword had belonged to Fra's son who died in a previous battle. Although wounded, Dera continues to fight. What happens to him and beautiful Mela I'll leave to the reader's imagination.

Battle Scarred is an extremely exciting and well written story from its Prologue until the very last word. The narration of sword fights and battles are easy to picture. The description of the squared-off tunnels with perfectly smooth surfaces inside the rocky Ceies Mountains not only highlights the dwarfs' skills as masons, but highlights the descriptive ability of young author, Kylen Pattermann.

Equally imaginable is Pattermann's description of the Elven empire sitting high atop the forest canopy. It is fascinating trying to picture ancient trees so large and so dense at the top, that their branches can be woven into flat surfaces not only capable of supporting the weight of a single person but an entire organized population of happy elves.

I would recommend this book to anyone seeking an adventure story; where romance, courage, and honor - where myths about dwarves and elves - come magically to life. If you enjoyed the Harry Potter stories and the Lord of the Rings series, Battle Scarred will keep you on edge awaiting Kylen Pattermann's next book: War Wounds.

Journey Home
Gary A. Long
Comfort Publishing, LLC
9450 Moss Plantation Avenue N.W., Concord, NC 28027
098211544X $13.99 704-782-2353

After finishing his own chores each day, ten-year-old Billy walks two miles to Eli's place, where they spend time together, talking and laughing, while Billy helps the elderly man tend to his garden, work in his barn, or mend fences out in a cow pasture. There is no person Billy admires more than the white-haired Eli, who spends countless hours not only teaching Billy farming skills, but also steering him toward a meaningful manhood: "Simply choose to be what you have dreamed you will be, and you will create that life … love yourself for who you are."

On one of his daily visits to Eli's farm, his aged friend invites Billy to explore the forest beyond the bog. The youth eagerly trails along. Eli teaches the impressionable youth about deer, snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and a host of animals that live in the forest and in its woodland pond. More importantly, Eli teaches Billy a respect for all living creatures:

"These animals, trees and even the tiniest of insects are part of us all … in a sense you can say we are all one being."

Eli introduces Billy to Martha, the oldest tree in the forest. He explains how she drops her seeds each autumn to start other saplings growing the following spring. In fact, he says "Many of her offspring have grown into this wonderful forest."

But Billy is both confused and surprised when Eli begins talking aloud to the forest creatures like the huge buck, Trevor, and particularly the ancient tree, Martha. He assumes Eli is merely talking as a kind friend would talk to a loving, adoring pet. Yet the old man insists the creatures of the forest not only hear him, but answer him:

"If you remember to listen closely from within and from your heart, you will then understand how to hear the beings of this special place."

As The Journey Home develops, Billy and the reader become astounded to realize that Eli's claim is true. He does communicate with nature. What's more, the elderly man's ability slowly passes on to Billy, who now knows the names and unique natural habitat of each creature.

A sad episode occurs when Billy's mother finds a good job in another state; the two move away leaving Eli, his farm, and his forest friends to fend for themselves. For the next twenty-five years, Eli and Billy communicate only by occasional letter and a rare phone call. Inevitably, the old man dies but not until he has left a will stating his farmstead belongs to his now adult friend, Billy.

Billy, his wife, and their young daughter return to Eli's neglected farm and begin to restore it. The Journey Home reveals some of the difficulties all three have adjusting to life in the remote rural area. It is easiest for Billy who begins taking his daughter, Natalie, on walks through the forest just as Eli had taken him so many years before. At first the animals are reluctant to befriend him after a twenty-five year hiatus.

One of the most delightful parts of The Journey Home is Chapter Twenty-one. Here, the forest creatures talk among themselves plotting how they will discover if it really is Billy who has returned as a grown man.

I found Gary A Young's work a short but delightful read. It points out the special bond that exists between the human and animal world if we take the time to hunt it. What's more, the book shows that the generation gap can be foolishness - age differences need not separate persons bonded in spirit by love.

If you are looking for a feel-good tale you can enjoy as an adult, this book is for you. If you read to your children or grandchildren each night at bedtime, the chapters of this book will provide them with warm-fuzzy thoughts before they drift off to sleep.

Regis Schilken, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

Questions Writers Ask: Wise, Whimsical, and Witty Answers from the Pros
Karen Speerstra
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9781934759325 $16.95

Age Old Questions Writer's Ask - Fresh Contemporary Answers

"Questions Writers Ask" is a surprising gift, a compilation of nearly 6,000 quotations addressing questions asked by real writers. Karen Speerstra has been painstakingly scrupulous in her task of gathering and selecting the quotes for this project.

Writers from the past some contemporaries, well known greats, recognized authors, and a number of upcoming more recent writers provide bits of wisdom, wit, insight and advice participating in a world wide forum in dialog across an imaginary common table.

Using a conversational approach, Karen presents fresh writing insights and small gems of wisdom explaining why writers write, practical ideas on play writing, poetry, comedy and satire. The quotes she uses are often funny, sometimes profound, and always enlightening or entertaining.

Among the twenty topics covered in the book, I personally appreciated the information on editors and publishers, the thoughts on handling criticism, and where writers get their ideas. I plan to implement many of the thoughts on personal writing: journals, diaries, and memoir. Getting started and facing up to writer's blocks were also very helpful. The chapter on writing specifically for children and adolescents is packed with information and inspiration.

Karen is the perfect one to compile this book. Her career in publishing encompasses writing, acquisitions, newspaper columns, curriculum writing, and developmental editing.

"Questions Writers Ask" will is destined to become a classical. I am adding it to my own permanent library to be read and re-read often for sheer enjoyment.

Chasing the Avatar
Jovan Jones
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768428247 $14.99

A Downward Spiral into Evil

Maya, brilliant, and successful in her academic pursuits became enmeshed in a search for truth and false enlightenment that led her to the brink of darkness. As a result of meeting with Cha Ma, a Hindu guru, the direction of Maya's life changed directions.

In the midst of her doctoral program Maya decided to put it on hold, relinquished the lease on her Boston apartment, abandon her faith, and leave her family behind in an attempt to find truth through the study Hinduism. She traveled to South India to the ashram of Cha Ma, in the hope of finding truth and of moving to a new level of enlightenment.

Jones describes encounters with angelic beings, embattling to influence the outcome of the lives of those experiencing spiritual warfare. She uses these illustrations to powerfully describe the impact of prayer in changing the results of these battles from spiritual annihilation to spirit empowered victory.

A helpful glossary of recurring vocabulary, unique to the setting of this novel and to followers of Hinduism is included.

"Chasing the Avatar" is a fictionalized account of Jovan Jones' personal plunge into fear-provoking evil. Jovan is destined to impact a new generation of truth seekers, as she leads them to answer the question "What is truth," by examining their relationship with the one true God and His Son Jesus.

Jovan's writing is intense, disturbing, informative, and spiritually perceptive. Her story is heartwarming and fascinating. There is an openness in her writing that demonstrates the vibrancy and passion of one who has found forgiveness and victory through the Christ of whom she writes.

Life Between Sundays
Joseph W. Walker III
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768428292 $16.99

Turning Personal Adversity into Restoration and Hope

"Life Between Sundays" is written as a tribute to honor Diane Greer Walker. This is the testimony of Dr. Joseph W. Walker III. It is a testament of faith which details the events, passion, frantic prayer, and the unwavering fight to claim God's promises and seek His presence during an eighteen month struggle for life, meaning, and ministry.

Walker describes his wife Diane's introspective personality, her analytical mind, and passionate faith which enabled her to turn personal pain into offering encouragement to others and as she faced her final days with dignity, no regrets, and positive victory.

Joseph W. Walker III, husband and pastor, writes of his own battles to maintain a pastoral ministry of encouragement and faith to his church members during a period when his own faith wavered through testing and trials.

The book is becomes an allegory. The days between Sundays represent a unique season of challenge and adversity faced after Diane's diagnosis of inoperable pancreatic cancer. Each day becomes the focal point of a spiritual lifeline necessary to face a specific personal difficulty.

Each new difficulty became a deeply ingrained lesson, permanently imprinted on Walker's heart. This has helped him writer this profound masterpiece of hope and encouragement. Walker's writing resonates with his unquestionable faith. "Life Between Sundays" is an important book for every pastor, oncology counselor, and cancer victim. His writing is totally absorbing, poignant and sensitive.

Praying the Heart of David
Elmer Towns
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768430967 $15.99

Discover the Comfort, Peace, and Unfailing Love of God through David's Prayers

"Praying the Heart of David," conveys the sense of awesome wonder and the deep feeling of worship expressed in the reverent prayers of King David. This is another in the "Praying the Scriptures Series" by Golden Medallion winner, Elmer Towns.

The book is based on prayers taken from First and Second Samuel and First Chronicles. It is filled with a look into the significance of the life of Samuel on Israel's history as judge, prophet, and as a recorder of an important season in that history. Dr. Towns unfolds spiritual lessons on listening to the voice of God through prayer and worship. He describes the patience of God as seen through Samuel's life and in his writing.

Towns probes deeply into the person and motive of Saul. He shows how the power of sin and demonic influence changed Saul from a meek and humble young man to a selfish and mean despot. Saul's disobedience parallels the way we often rebel against God's Word today. Dr. Towns illustrates how Saul's sinful offences are an example of the pattern, progression and cycle of remorse, confession, and repentance. This illustration is typical of the many personal applications included throughout the book.

David is described as complex, sometimes compassionate, tender, and generous, and "a man after God's own heart." David's life communicates the care and gentleness of a shepherd as evidenced in the beloved 23rd Psalm.

He was also shown as being fierce in battle and scheming in his double sin with Uriah and Bathsheba.

The book details the life of David, the slaying of Goliath, his friendship with Jonathan, Saul's jealousy, Samuel's anointing, and of the death of Absalom. Interspersed within the narrative (Towns own paraphrase of these scriptures) are the prayers of David from the Psalms.

David's anguish, desperation, and complete trust and love for God come to life as Towns brilliantly makes it possible for the reader to transcend time and place as they experience and share in David's presence with God through prayer. David's victory celebrations, family disappointments, his spiritual failure, sin and confession all become real to the reader. Bringing the reader to a sense of conviction of personal sin and to a recognition of the amazing grace of God's forgiveness are an indication of God's anointing on Dr. Town's writing.

"Praying the Heart of David" provides evidence of the power of God given to David as a result of his persistence in prayer and worship. The reader is encouraged to use David's prayers as a guide to move forward in their pursuit of becoming "a man after God's own heart."

Mohamed's Moon
Keith Clermons
Realms (A Strang Company)
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
9781599795256, $13.99

A Novel of Suspense, Romance, Action

Award winning author Keith Clemons has created another masterful work in his novel "Mohamed's Moon." Non stop suspense, fast moving action, a complex plot, phenomenal descriptions, and powerful character development combine to keep the reader mesmerized. Keith delivers a thought provoking message in which culture, religion, and a lust for power challenge logic.

The story revolves around two brothers separated at birth. One becomes a devoted fundamentalist follower of Islam, the other a committed Christian. Through a unique set of circumstances they both fall in love with the same girl. Riveting action take the reader from the culture and geography of the Egyptian dessert and the bondage of Islam to California where there is opportunity for the freedom of choice and the liberty found in Christ.

Clemmons' descriptions are awesome. I could almost feel the shimmering sun on the sand blurring my eyes as the sea of sand spraying a limestone abrasion burned my skin.

The plot is convincing with unexpected twists which keep the reader in suspense as conflict builds, demanding resolution. Clemmons' writing is thought provoking, insightful, and moving. It is easy to identify and empathize with his characters. He touches the heart and emotions with poignancy as his real life characters make choices that will impact the world today, and their eternal destiny.

"Mohamed's Moon" communicates a message of love, sacrifice, and redemption. Clemmons' writing is sensitive establishing his authenticity as a person and his gifted ability as a story teller.

Is Yeshua The Prophesied Messiah of the Hebrew Bible?
Dan Kane
WinePress Publishing
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781606150030 $19.99

Yeshua the Mashiach - Prophecy Fullfilled?

"Is Yeshua the Prophesied Messiah?" examines a number of Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus to provide an answer this question. Is the prophesied Mashiach of the Hebrew Bible the same as the Jesus that Christians embrace as Messiah? Zane looks at prophecies from Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Zechariah to explore evidence as to whether Jesus fulfilled any or all of them.

Kane's work creditable and is worthy of serious study. He is systematic in his presentation. The material is organized in a logical order, is well researched, and clearly communicated. Zane takes an analytical approach in his study of the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as well as of the ancient Jewish writings. The time line of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus was helpful to me in establishing His authenticity as the promised Messiah.

Of special interest to me was Kane's look into the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the writing of Jewish rabbis and on how this teaching and these traditions remain, deeply rooted, in many Christian denominations to this day.

Many may take exception to Kane's conclusions and charge him with not being objective in his conclusions. However, Bible Scholars, Pastors, and layman will find "Is Yeshua The Prophesied Messiah of The Hebrew Bible?" a valuable addition to their to their resource library for in-depth examination and ongoing reference in their personal study on the subject of Messianic Judaism.

Nelson's Annual Preachers's Sourcebook 2010 Edition
Dr. Kent Spann & Dr. David Wheeler, editors
Nelson Publishing Company
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781418541507 $24.99

New and Innovative Fresh Ideas for Sermons and Worship Services for 2010

Dr. Kent Spann and Dr. David Wheeler have collaborated to compile material from the works of 52 well known evangelical pastors and teachers, contemporary and classic, including Dr. Stuart Briscoe, Dr. Ed Dobson, Dr. Jack Hayford, Dr. David Jeremiah, and Dr. James Kennedy.

"Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook" for the year 2010 is made up of new and classic sermons and outlines, worship aids, and music suggestions for services, for 52 weeks. The two alternate sermons or lesson ideas included each week provide material for extra services or Bible teaching occasions. Material is cross referenced by topic and scripture. Compelling illustrations, engaging illustrations, and highlights from "This Day in History" all add to the value of this outstanding resource. A software package and special service registry forms accompany the book.

The event specific sermons and related resources provide new messages and material which will be especially helpful in providing freshness to your services throughout the new church year for occasions such as: Funerals, Candlelight Services, Child Dedication, Patriotic Services, The Lord's Supper, Baptism, Sanctity of Life, and Holidays.

The organization of the sermons does not follow a common lectionary calendar but is a collection of independent key topical sermons and resources organized so they can be used in series to help develop a flow in preaching.

"Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook" for the year 2010 continues the standard of excellence of the publisher in providing planning for purposeful worship programming for the full church year. Additional articles for pastors provide nourishment and encouragement for the pastor and cover thoughts on expository preaching, planning services, hospital visitation, ministering to the grieving, and a series on heroes of the faith.

I was found the format to be user friendly and the material well organized. I especially appreciated the faithfulness to the scriptures and the meticulous attention to details in blending all the elements of praise and worship by exalting the name of Jesus Christ and the message of God's mercy, love, and grace as the underlying theme throughout the year.

Richard R. Blake

Suzie's Bookshelf

The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Cindy Woodsmall
WaterBrook Press
The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307446534 $14.99

Beth Hertzler is a young Amish girl whose heart broke the day her fiance died. She shut herself off from feeling anything or going forward with her life. She spends her day working with her Aunt Lizzy in a dry goods store.

Aunt Lizzy is concerned with Beth's withdrawal from society. She feels that the time of mourning has long past. She wants to find a way to help Beth get on with her life by finding her a new love.

When Beth takes an interest in an Artists wood carving Aunt Lizzy realizes this is the first time she has shown any interest since the death of her fiance. She decides to take matters in her own hands and track down the Artist. Her journey leads her to a single Amish man named Jonah Kinsinger.

Aunt Lizzy realizes through Jonah's use of a cane and his two missing fingers he also has suffered his own form of tragedy. She sees him as someone in need of love and healing. She devises a plan to bring Jonah and Beth together; when two souls have been wounded they deserve to find happiness together.

Will Aunt Lizzy's scheme to bring these two young people together succeed? Or is their hearts shattered beyond repair?

The Sound of Sleigh Bells is the perfect way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Be prepared that once you start this book there is no way in which you will be able to put it aside. Cindy Woodsmall has written a beautiful romance where you will find yourself falling in love with her characters. The beauty her words convey are truly spectacular, they capture the true essence of romance!

Workout for the Soul: Eight Steps to Inner Fitness
Chrissie Blaze
Aslan Publishing
2490 Back Rock Turnpike (#342), Fairfield, CT 06825
9780944031902 $14.95 800-786-5427

Your body is your temple; how you choose to honor it could be the difference of living a rewarding life or a life filled with much despair. Exercise is an essential element to our overall well being. What we often forget to add to our daily ritual is the spiritual side of our existence.

Each one of us is put on this earth to experience their own journey. Unless we are prepared to encounter the unknown our spiritual belief could be weakened. Often we allow our busy lifestyle to get in the way of our self fulfillment. We put others needs high above our own. When time is of the essence we seek out activities we can complete in the shortest amount of time.

In Chrissie Blaze's Workout for the Soul: Eight Steps to Inner Fitness you will find a program designed to be achieved in as little as 15 minutes a day. By practicing the methods outlined in this book you will gain a better appreciation for the person you are and what steps you need to change to make you better equipped for life's ever changing world.

I gained so much insight of self discovery through this one book. I felt like I had run a marathon and won. The feeling of being healed from the inside out was overwhelming. This book literally changed my life; it offered me an outlet to find my true creative spirit, learn the importance of visualization, and how to control my breath for the ultimate form of relaxation.

Those who seek an effective program to strengthen your spiritual awareness should search no further. Chrissie Blaze is a true master; she is able to provide you with her insight and knowledge that you will need to succeed to greatness.

Dream or Destiny
Lillie Ammann
GASLight Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 1025, Leander, Texas 78646
9781933869032 $12.95

Dreams have a way to turn into reality . . .

Marilee Anderson awakes from a horrific dream it felt so life like she could almost smell the deadly gunpowder that committed the hideous crime. The victims face was locked in her mind. It was one that was familiar for it belonged to Barbara Nichols, the person she purchased her condominium from six months ago.

The next day at church Marilee is shocked to learn that her dream had turned into a reality when she discovers that Barbara had been actually murdered. She is stunned to discover she is also a suspect. To help clear her name she goes to the police station to explain her dream.

At the police station she meets David Nichols, Barbara's brother. She learns that he is also a suspect. Together they agree to team up and piece together the clues to try and find the real killer. Will they succeed or will they be putting their lives in jeopardy?

Lillie Ammann is the type of author who puts her whole heart into her writing. Whether romance or mystery you are assured of getting a top notch reading experience. Dream or Destiny is written in such a realistic way you question if it is fact or fiction. It is definitely a page turner, one that kept me glued to my seat until I finished.

Vibrational Healing Music
Marjorie de Muynck
Sounds True
413 S. Arthur Avenue, Louisville, CO 80027
60083513292 $17.98 1-800-333-9185

Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence.

~George Santayana

Close your eyes, breath in deeply, allow your mind to hear the beauty the world has to offer. You will find your body quickly begins to relax as you gain a true appreciation for all that surrounds you as the earth revolves.

Appropriately the first track of Marjorie de Muynck's Vibrational Healing Music is entitled "Earth Speaks" it provides the perfect introduction to the audio for it allows you to slowly begin to relax as the calming effects wash over your body allowing it to go into a state of total bliss.

What sets this audio apart from similar titles is that the composer uses natures own sounds that consist of crickets, cicadas, honeybees, baby crows and a ruby throat hummingbird to blend the Earth's "Ohm" frequency. This frequency is based on the elliptical orbit of the Earth as it travels around the sun through the four seasons.

The end result is nine tracks which radiates healing and peace. Listeners will gain a better appreciation for the world they live in when they discover all the natural man made sounds.

Vibrational Healing Music is an audio that radiates the purest form of the Earth's great splendor. Its healing presence is assured to be a benefit to all of mankind. This audio is one that will offer the perfect form of relaxation.

Armchair Reader The Gigantic Reader
Editors of West Side Publishing
Publications International, Ltd.
7373 N. Cicero Ave., Lincolnwood, IL 60712
9781412716536 $15.95 847-676-3470

Are you someone who lives to discover new knowledge? Do you enjoy playing trivia and are always looking for more interesting facts and details to help strengthen you game? If so, then search no further for the Armchair Reader The Gigantic Reader is the book you need to add to your collection in order to enhance your life.

This one book overflows with a wide variety of knowledge, facts, quotes, and an unlimited amount of details. What makes this book a must read is all of this knowledge is contained in one gigantic book that has 576 pages.

From the moment you open this book you will amazed at all that you learn. I guarantee that you will be swept away at all the fascinating facts that your brain will absorb. Some of my favorites included:

-The original title of the Buddy Holly hit song "Peggy Sue" was originally called "Cindy Lou"

-Bears do not urinate while they are hibernating

-Over a lifetime, an average human spends about six months on the toilet

These are just a sample of what you will discover, there are hundreds more interesting things to discover in this one book, each time you open it up you will amazed at what you find.

With Christmas around the corner, this book would make an excellent present. It would provide a unique gift that the receiver will be proud to own. I predict once others see how wonderful this book is they will be disappointed that they didn't find it under their Christmas tree.

Kundalini Meditation Music
Featuring Snatam Kaur, Harijiwan Khalsa, Guruganesha Singh, Joseph Michael Levry (Guurunam)
Sounds True, Inc.
413 S. Arthur Avenue, Louisville, CO 80027
600835-136822 $17.98 1-800-333-9185

Mediation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the patch that leads to wisdom.


In today's turbulent times it is essential that you find an outlet to help relieve stress. For hundreds of years, Kundalini Yoga has been practiced worldwide. It was brought to the western culture in 1968 by Yogi Bhajaan; its primary focus is to align the individual consciousness with that of the universe. It consists of postures, breathing, mediations, relaxing, and chanting.

Kundalini Mediation Music primarily is centered on mediation. Through the seven tracks you will gain inner peace and harmony. There are a total of seven healing tracks that help to obtain healing, prosperity, love, peace, unity, relaxation, and calmness.

What makes this audio so effective is that it enables the listener to choose the track that relates to what is missing from their life. It provides an interactive experience by including a guidebook with the words to each audio. This allows the person to chant along with the audio to gain the maximum amount of benefit. The chanting allows you to draw from the healing energy of the light that radiates from the mantras.

Kundalini Meditation Music encompasses a wealth of healing magic. From the moment you push play your problems will seem to float away. This audio is one that is assured to be added to your favorite collection.

Zumba(R): Ditch the Workout, Join the Party! The Zumba Weight Loss Program
Beto Perez and Maggie Greenwood-Robinson
Wellness Central; (Hatchette Book Group)
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446546126 $16.49 1-800-759-0190

Zumba is the workout program that has taken the fitness world by storm. It features a fun way to dance yourself into the best shape of your life. Zumba consists of a high energy fitness routine that includes salsa, samba, and the meringue. Its sultry Latin moves are easy to learn and are very effective in burning calories.

The ability to learn Zumba without joining a health club is now available through Beto Perez and Maggie Greenwood-Robinson book Zumba(R): Ditch the Workout, Join the Party! The Zumba Weight Loss Program. The book is priceless, not only do you learn the moves of Zumba by viewing the in-depth illustrations it also includes an instructional DVD, along with the Zumba diet.

I discovered Zumba approximately six months ago at my local gym. From the first class I instantly fell in love with all that it offered. Within six weeks of practicing this workout routine twice a week, I lost more weight and inches than with anything I had ever tired. What is so amazing is that it had kept my interest; I now look forward to my Zumba classes each week.

Get an early start on your New Year's resolution to lose weight and have fun doing it. Zumba(R): Ditch the Workout, Join the Party! The Zumba Weight Loss Program is the only book you need to help you achieve your goal. Once you see that you can actually have fun and lose weight you will quickly become a Zumba fan.

Suzie Housley, Reviewer

Theodore's Bookshelf

Rhino Ranch
Larry McMurtry
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020, 800-223-2336,
9781439156391 $25.00

It's been a long road, but all good things have to come to an end. So we are treated to the adventures of Duane Moore, as his life is nearing its end. And what a bizarre time it is in Thalia, Texas. A billionairess decides to import the vanishing black rhino from Africa on a spread near the town, in an effort to save the species and perhaps establish a tourist attraction.

Of course, the insular people of Thalia look askance at outsiders, and Duane's friendliness with the sponsor of Rhino Ranch does not serve him very well in the closing days of his life. The novel, full of pathos and nostalgia, as Duane looks over his past days, contemplates the changes in Duane's little world, as well as the broader world as well. It's full of wit and philosophizing, and whimsically reflects upon the humor and romantic relationships inherent in the series.

One does not have to report on the writing, observations and plotting by Larry McMurtry: These elements are always top grade, and "Rhino Ranch" is no exception. Highly recommended.

New Tricks
David Rosenfelt
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780446505871 $24.99 800-759-0190,

This newest entry in the Andy Carpenter series starts out with Andy being called to a judge's chambers and assigned a client, which turns out to be a dog. But not just any dog. It is a potential champion show canine, son of perhaps the greatest show dog of all time. Custody of the dog is disputed between the widow of a murdered multi-millionaire and his son, who has no love for his step-mother. While Andy is retrieving the dog from the woman until he can decide who gets possession of the animal, the mansion explodes and the step-mother is killed.

Soon, the step-son is arrested for causing the explosion and death of his step-mother, and he retains Andy to defend him. Meanwhile, Andy's lover and former investigator is visiting, providing a love angle. When the case endangers her life, Andy unavoidably becomes distracted from his investigation. The plot revolves around trying to formulate a defense and developing all kinds of theories.

The Andy Carpenter series is consistently entertaining and always is built around a trial in which the dilettante attorney defends an innocent accused of some crime or other. Often, the trial tactics are intriguing, unusual, inventive or far out, as becomes Andy's irreverent personality. Unfortunately, that is not the case in this otherwise pleasurable novel. That said, the book is written with the accustomed smoothness and flippancy seen in former entries in the series which made them good reading and, despite the lack of exciting trial tactics, the novel is enjoyable, and is recommended.

Arctic Chill
Arnaldur Indridason, Bernard Scudder, Translator
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312381035 $24.99

It is strange to think of Iceland as a multi-cultural society, but the fact that it has a fairly substantial immigrant population provides the background for this murder-mystery. A 10-year-old half-Thai boy is found stabbed to death on a path to his home on the way back from school. And Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson has to investigate not only the murder but also the possibility of a hate crime.

In this latest novel featuring the Icelandic Inspector, he also confronts his own past: the estrangement of his daughter and son and the haunting ghost of his brother's tragic death when they were both young boys lost in a snow storm.

Indridason is the author of four previous novels, including the Gold Dagger award-winning "Jar City." This latest effort merely reinforces his reputation as being among the best of the contemporary Scandinavian crime novelists. He addresses not only the traditional crime-mystery themes, but also present-day social matters as well. The writing is beautifully simple, but poignant and elegant. Highly recommended.

All My Enemies
Barry Maitland
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312384005 $13.99

First published in the United Kingdom in 1996, this intriguing British procedural, part of a series featuring DCI David Brock and DS Kathy Kolla, has finally crossed the Atlantic. The wait was well worth it.

Kathy is to begin her new assignment in the Scotland Yard Serious Crimes Branch, and the day before Brock calls her and asks if she would join him at the scene of the brutal murder of a young woman. This leads to a series of murders, and Kathy, along with her colleagues on the team, investigates various possibilities, although forensics has little to guide them. While the plodding work goes on, she follows what leads develop, however implausible some of them appear.

Eventually, she discovers an amateur theatrical group whose the script might as well be written in blood. The clues are deceptive and the plot ingenious, even good theater. The dialogue and prose is as good as it gets, and the character development superb. The novel is suspenseful and engrossing, and is recommended. Next up for this reviewer: Mr. Maitland's latest, "Dark Mirror," to be published in the US in October.

Dark Mirror
Barry Maitland
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312383992 $24.99

The latest Brock and Kolla procedural provides a mystifying case involving arsenic poisoning, a relative rarity in the crimes of the day. Kathy Kolla, newly promoted to inspector, is presented with a challenging, if not enigmatic, crime. Marion Summers, a young, brilliant PhD student collapses in the British Library after having just eaten lunch in St. James Park. The pathologist intuitively believes that it is a case of arsenic poisoning [later confirmed] and murder.

Unfortunately, as the investigation proceeds, it soon appears that the victim committed suicide. But Kathy is obsessed and continues to look into Marion's background. Then the latter's friend, another student, is found poisoned, and the case takes yet another turn.

The plot revolves around Marion's research into the Victorian pre-Raphaelite period, in which arsenic was widely available and used for a variety of purposes [unlike today, when it is rare and largely unobtainable]. There are a number of suspects, and the reader is kept on the brink of discovery until the real culprit is unveiled. Maitland is a master in creating suspense, and smoothly moving the story ahead without revealing clues to the reader as he or she twists and turns until a most unexpected conclusion. Recommended.

The Professional
Robert B. Parker
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399155949 $26.95 800-847-5515

Spenser continues to quip his way throughout this different caper. And Susan, psychotherapist and his significant other, helps enormously. The case begins when four young women, all married to older rich men, retain the Boston private detective because they are being blackmailed by the same man with whom each had had an affair.

When Spenser finally meets the lothario, he takes a liking to him, even to the extent of protecting the blackmailer from harm by the gangster husband of one of the wives. But the more Spenser delves into the lives of the four women and their erstwhile lover, the more complicated the case becomes. Understanding the personalities and psychologies becomes essential.

Just when the reader thinks he/she has a handle on the situation, of course, Parker changes course. As usual, the dialog is superb and the plotting splendid. And the exchanges between Spenser and Susan on sex, among other things, are more than entertaining. Recommended.

Joseph Finder
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312379087 $25.99

Joseph Finder has written several thrillers revolving around the business and corporate world. Each was a standalone. Now, he turns his attention to creating the beginning of a series. The protagonist is Nick Heller, a tough, principled investigator with a high-powered private intelligence firm.

Nick's father is serving a 30-year sentence in Federal prison for insider trading and corporate fraud, among other things. His brother is a top-level mergers-and-acquisitions attorney for a leading defense manufacturing conglomerate. Nick is close to his sister-in-law, the administrative assistant to the CEO of the company in which his brother plies his trade, and especially close to his nephew.

The tale begins with an attack on Nick's brother and sister-in-law as they leave a Georgetown restaurant one evening. The woman suffers a concussion and is near death, and the brother disappears, an apparent abduction. His nephew calls Nick to ask for his help. And the plot moves forward in many unexpected directions. Nick is an interesting character, and he promises to be a powerful and intriguing protagonist in future entries in the series. Recommended.

Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon
The Penguin Press
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9781594202247 $27.95 800-847-5515

Readers of Thomas Pynchon novels in the past usually were left wondering about the mysteries of the plots and their characters. So it is time that the author turned his attention to the mystery genre. And while this novel somehow is classified as a mystery, featuring a psychedelic PI, Larry Sportello, a/k/a Doc, it is more of a far-out effort obfuscated by marijuana smoke.

Set in Los Angeles in the 1960s, with Vietnam, hippies, drugs and the like running throughout, the plot begins with Doc being told by an ex-girlfriend that there is a plot to kidnap her current lover, a billionaire real estate developer. Thus begins a bizarre tale filled with all kinds of weird characters, with even stranger names, a favorite Pynchon ploy. So we find Dr. Blatnoyd; Bigfoot, an LAPD detective lieutenant; Denis (pronounced "penis"); FBI agents Flatweed and Borderline; and a whole host of others.

It really is impossible to describe the absurdity of the novel. Is it noir? Is it a spoof? Is it just Pynchon being playful? Is it satire? Who knows? But it is all-encompassing and some might think it is a tour de force, and it is recommended.

Blindman's Bluff
Faye Kellerman
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061702327 $25.99 800-242-7737,

The Rina Lazarus-Peter Decker series in the past has been filled with various lessons in religious teachings, especially orthodox Jewish tenets and requirements, and this latest novel is no exception. However, the Biblical allusions in the plot include the usual references to Kosher meals and the like, and harken back to Genesis.

Decker is awakened at 3 AM one night to learn that a billionaire real estate developer Guy Kaffey, his wife and employees have been murdered at Kaffey's ranch and his son and brother wounded. It would appear to be a botched robbery. Meanwhile, Rina is serving on a jury and meets a blind translator who overhears two men speaking about the murders. The intertwining of this chance meeting, which places Rina (and the blind man) in jeopardy, complicates Decker's efforts to solve the case and protect his family, much less the blind man.

The novel is replete with the usual point and counterpoint give-and-take between Rina and Peter, as well as a well-ordered police procedural. Another exciting if somewhat drawn-out Faye Kellerman novel, filled with lots of food and assorted personal conflicts between Peter and Rina, two loving but strong personalities, and one which is recommended.

Blood Safari
Deon Meyer, Translated by K. L. Seegers
Atlantic Monthly Press
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802119032 $19.95

The tragic history of South Africa, replete with conflicts about the environment and race relations, serves as the background of Deon Meyer's novels. His protagonists are usually hard men, befitting the harsh environment and rugged country, where lions and leopards, elephants and elands roam. Lemmer, a mostly silent, taciturn security expert, primarily a bodyguard, is just such a person. He has a violent past and tempestuous personality. He also is fairly introspective, observant, and prone to categorizing people, thus formulating various "laws" pigeon-holing various types of persons.

Lemmer's latest assignment has him serving as a bodyguard to a rich heiress who is attacked in her home by three masked men after she telephones a remote police station to inquire about a man whose picture she fleetingly saw on television. She believes the man might be her long-lost brother who disappeared many years before in Kruger National Park and reportedly died thereafter. The man is charged with murdering five men and goes by another last name (while sharing the same first name). Lemmer accompanies her north to determine the man's identity.

So the journey gives Meyer the opportunity not only to write a vivid story about this particular journey, but the countryside and political conditions of South Africa. As one game preserve manager observes: "This is still the old South Africa. No, that's not entirely true. The mindset of everyone, black and white, is in the old regime, but all the problems are new South Africa. And that makes for an ugly combination. Racism and progress, hate and cooperation, suspicion and reconciliation . . . those things do not lie well together." And the problems are compounded by the competing forces of the environmentalists and proponents of 'progress.' All told against a well-written, succinct plot. Highly recommended.

Homer & Langley
E.L. Doctorow
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9781400064946 $26.00 800-726-0600

The reclusive and eccentric Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley, occupants of a Fifth Avenue four-story mansion cluttered with all sorts of detritus, baled newspapers and magazines and even a model T Ford, provide E.L. Doctorow with the means to write another panoramic history of the United States.

It begins at the turn of the 1900's, and continues with the Great War (in which Langley is affected by mustard gas), the Roaring Twenties, the Depression and Prohibition, World War II, the post-War period, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam, hippies, and the dawn of the electronic music era into recent years. All reflected through the eyes and lives of the two brothers.

The poignant story of the compulsive and probably mad Langley and blind Homer is written with deep insight as the author attempts to recreate their lives, as they deteriorate over time, with sensitivity and understanding, at the same time trying to explain the great events of the time. Recommended.

Sara Paretsky
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399155932 $26.95 1-800-847-5515,

In past novels, Sara Paretsky has tackled many hard topics and never shied away from them. In "Hardball," she writes about the ugly race relations that existed in Chicago during the 1960's, something she experienced first-hand when she was doing community service there in 1966.

Yet the V.I. Warshawski series is built around the female detective and the mysteries she has to solve. So, in "Hardball" we see her take on a case that has its roots 40 years in the past, with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leading demonstrations in the Second City. Vic is asked by King's dying aunt to find a black man who disappeared in those days. And her efforts not only are dangerous but lead her to discover many surprising facts about her family, especially her revered cop father.

It is a tautly written tale, filled with suspense and poignant descriptions of Chicago politics both in the 1960's and the present day. Recommended.

Baby Shark's Jugglers at the Border
Robert Fate
Capital Crime Press
P. O. Box 272904, Ft. Collins, CO 80527
9780979996023 $14.95 970-481-4894

Baby Shark, Kristin Van Dijk, got her nom de plume by learning from her father to be a top flight pool player. And that talent has played a prominent role in prior novels in the series, but none in the current installment, especially since she became a full-fledged partner as a PI with Otis Millett. They make for a good team, and they combine their seat-of-the-pants talents to pursue an unusual and resourceful maniac.

It begins when Otis is called by Lt. Carl Lynch to visit the morgue to identify his estranged wife, Dixie Logan, known as the Dallas Firecracker in the Texas striptease circuit. Apparently she and a boyfriend were shot by a gang of bank robbers with whom she worked but were conned out of the loot. This leads the pair to work undercover with the Dallas police to find and attempt to capture the gang and their boss, leading to a merry chase and a series of dangerous situations for Kristin.

Baby Shark is one tough cookie, a female worthy of James Bond and Mickey Spillane rolled into one woman's curves. She's hard-boiled, but is able to express her feminine attitudes with aplomb and wise-cracks. This latest entry in the series (three novels have preceded "Jugglers") continues an entertaining and well-written string, and it is recommended.

Theodore Feit

Victoria's Bookshelf

Triangle of Deception
Haggai Carmon
Leisure Books
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843961928, $7.99, 336 pages

This is the fourth book in the Dan Gordon Intelligence Thriller Series. Government agent Dan Gordon becomes caught up in an undercover assignment with the CIA. The Agency wants to follow the big money laundering trails of certain organizations and the terrorist groups they support.

Under an assumed name and identity, Dan travels to Paraguay to the infamous city of Ciudad del Este to infiltrate Hezbollah's network. Next he travels to Dublin, Africa and a few other countries in further pursuit of his objective.

From the start, Dan's felt the CIA was withholding important information from him, and soon discovers his instincts were correct. His former employer-Mossad and the CIA are working together and rival terrorist groups only complicate matters as Dan finds himself caught in a web of danger and intrigue.

Triangle of Deception gives an enthralling glimpse into a secret and complex world the rest of us never see. It's a great read for those who want to know more about spies and the lives they lead. For more information go to

Dead Air
Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid
Oceanview Publishing
61 Paradise Road, Ipswich, MA 01938
9781933515502 $25.95

Tiny, red-haired Sammy Greene seems out of her element at conservative Ellsford University in Vermont. She likes shaking things up with her controversial radio show, which the university keeps threatening to shut down.

There's more going on at Ellsford than academic studies and it's all part of a darker, hidden side of the University. The institution is greedy for cash and will do whatever it takes to make money.

Sammy soon discovers the body of Dr. Burton Conrad, a professor who didn't like getting involved in college politics or passing certain basketball players who were failing his classes. His colleagues warned him about committing career suicide with his attitude, but Dr. Conrad refused to listen.

Sammy tries to find the person responsible for Dr. Conrad's murder, while other students are disappearing and committing what appears to be suicide. If she doesn't watch out, she may find she's next on the list to die. Dead Air is a chilling tale guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. It's the first in a new series and more information may be found at: or

Quiz It: Arizona, 101 Fun Facts about the Grand Canyon State
Felice Prager
Arthur McAllister Publishers
97 Firehouse Road, Harpswell, Maine 04079
9780982044575 $9.95

I've always liked Arizona and wanted to go to school there when I was younger. The state is full of natural wonders as well as Native American archaeological sites. I thought I knew a bit about the state, but this book made me realize there was a lot I didn't know.

The book contains page after page of quizzes and fun facts about the Grand Canyon State. Having read at least one book on Geronimo, the famous apache leader, it surprised me to discover some new information about him. The section on the giant saguaro cactus was also interesting and entertaining.

I've given you just a taste of what you'll find between the book's pages. If you're curious and enjoy learning new information, I'd recommend reading this fun filled and entertaining book. For more information you can go to Felice's website at: or

Victoria Kennedy

Whispering Winds Bookshelf

Wrong Side Of The River
Cliff Johnson
Misty Peaks Publishing
Box AL, Filer, Idaho 83328
9780974679488 $15.95

I found this book to be raw in both emotions and language. I had to read it twice to understand that this was the true story of one mans life.

This book takes you on a emotional roller coaster ride from the first to the finish. Mr. Johnson's book tell us about triumph over his childhood. He faced many obstacles to become the person he is today. He broke the cycle of alcoholism that destroyed his family in many ways.

His story teaches us that we can overcome anything we might face in this world. No matter what is going on. No matter how big or how small it might be. We can come out of it as a stronger, happier person

Mr. Johnson had a great grandmother who taught him about God. It is by the Grace of God that gave him the strength to say, "Enough is Enough," at the age of fifteen. In a time when there was not agency's that could of helped him like today.

The author is reaching out his hand to all and saying miracles do happen. It is your chose which path to take in life. You can stay the victim or grow and strive for better things.

Mr. Johnson will show you it is possible. He chose victory over defeat.

Nana's Tomato Patch
Jackie Alley, Shawna Lippert, Kali Dow
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrance, Mustang, OK 73064
9781606045800 $10.99

I though this book was so sweet and the author's show great talent. The book holds the attention of young readers. The story is about love, faith, the importance of family and the fact that God is always with us no matter what.

As the story ends you have a daily devotional for children to study with the help of an adult. In my opinion it is the best I have read in a very long time. Each devotional relates back to the book and reinforces the lessons that they have learned.

While this is the author's first book they have wrote; in Oct they earned a bronze metal by Moonbeam Children's Publications.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone.
Gayle Martin
Five Star Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589850507 $14.95

This book begins with Luke and Jenny, a brother and sister who are on vacation with their mom and headed to their grandparents' house in Dallas, Texas. Along the way, their mom decides to stop and have lunch in Tombstone, Arizona.

While they are there, Luke and Jenny meet a ghost named The Swamper. He takes them on a trip back in time to the days leading up to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. They see Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holiday and the Clantons. The Swamper teaches them many different lessons, as they travel through time. They even get to witness the actual gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

This book is interesting and unique and would make a great addition to school libraries in our country. It is a book to be enjoyed by all. Kids that read this book won't even recognize that they are being taught morals and life lessons through Luke and Jenny's travels. It makes learning fun. I have really enjoyed this book, and even though it is a work of fiction, it is backed by historical facts.

As an adult I thought I knew all there was to know about the gunfight. But I have learned lessons also.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone.
Gayle Martin
Five Star Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589850507 $14.95

This book begins with Luke and Jenny, a brother and sister who are on vacation with their mom and headed to their grandparents' house in Dallas, Texas. Along the way, their mom decides to stop and have lunch in Tombstone, Arizona.

While they are there, Luke and Jenny meet a ghost named The Swamper. He takes them on a trip back in time to the days leading up to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. They see Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holiday and the Clantons. The Swamper teaches them many different lessons, as they travel through time. They even get to witness the actual gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

This book is interesting and unique and would make a great addition to school libraries in our country. It is a book to be enjoyed by all. Kids that read this book won't even recognize that they are being taught morals and life lessons through Luke and Jenny's travels. It makes learning fun. I have really enjoyed this book, and even though it is a work of fiction, it is backed by historical facts.

As an adult I thought I knew all there was to know about the gunfight. But I have learned lessons also.

Whispering Winds Book Reviews

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

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