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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 6 June 2012 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf
Daniel's Bookshelf Deacon's Bookshelf Don Martin's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Harwood's Bookshelf Heidi's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf
Katherine's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Lois' Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Maria Ryan's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Regis' Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Riva's Bookshelf Sandra's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

We The Animals
Justin Torres
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9781847083951, $18.00,

Ann Skea

Enter the world of a seven-year-old boy growing up in a poor family, newcomers in upstate New York, not white trash - similar but different. Ma white, Paps Puerto Rican, aged 14 and 16 when they took a bus to Texas to marry. Both workers - night shifts and casual jobs, and with three boys, wild, unruly but bonded to each other - "we were brothers, we were Musketeers" - and growing older.

We share the youngest boy's strange perceptions of relationships, his view of the family, innocent but full of information which suggests to the reader a disordered life in which he and his brothers exist like untamed animals, uncontrolled, fighting, stealing, learning to survive, learning about people, beaten but loved.

Then, a growing awareness of difference, the boy dances and his father, watching, thinks "Goddamn, I got me a pretty one". The brothers are exposed to pornography, and this and imagination work on the boy strongly. Suddenly he is grown up, fantasizing, experimenting, seeking sexual adventures.

Finally, there is a diary, exposure, rejection, guilt and madness. But is it real madness? Or is it just that the family make it look that way? There are fragments about a cage at this father's work, a curious episode in an old man's garden. Are these significant? Values, relationships - there is so much to think about for the boy and for us.

The brief chapters move through half-a-dozen years of growing up with immediacy and intensity. There is love, fear, uncertainty and resolution, and there is a freshness to the writing and a simplicity which makes the boy's thoughts and feelings vivid and his awareness of his difference and his fierce animal anger understandable.

The final chapters, his father's tenderness, his brothers' memories and care, his own incarceration and his caging in an inner world of fantasy and dreams - a zoo in which he hopes, finally, to stand upright amongst his fellows - are disturbing yet full of hope but tinged with dream-like madness which may or may not be real.

This is a most unusual and impressive first novel from a young writer who is already attracting literary awards.

The Shadow of You
Brenda Iovino
c/o Dream Arts Productions LLC
9781466494633 $2.99 (ebook)
9781466494633 $9.77 (paperback)

Christina Francine, Reviewer

Ivino writes plays, short-stories, novels, owns Dream Arts Production, LLC, and holds interest in ghosts and reincarnation. She has a daughter and states at the beginning of The Shadow of You that it's based on real experiences. Readers cannot help but be intrigued. Some may possibly be reassured about their own encounters with Ivino's claims. Either way, it's a fast read; pages turn themselves. The writing is fluid and scenes poignant. Readers will race through pages eager to learn more.

The Shadow of You is about a divorced writer with a teen-aged daughter who longs for more than the mind-blowing sex she currently has with her husband from a previous life. Monika never knew a better lover, not then as Snow Goose from a Navajo tribe, or now as a writer. Oh, she felt lucky and Hawk reminded her of their past as husband and wife, and she even recalled the exquisite details, but she longed for him in the flesh and blood. She wanted things like him taking her hand to be in this life, for him to really walk through the door. Monika had lived in daydreams until Hawk came along. Now, she knew how happy they'd been in their other lives. Things weren't perfect between her and Hawk, but Monika believed herself fortunate until he began to come to her less and less.

Funny thing about the present, sometimes it's connected to a past life. Reality becomes a secret known only by two. The Shadow of You is both the title of this book and how the main character feels about her past Native American lover in non-human form presently.

This book addresses reincarnation, the continuation of love, and unexplained ironies. Ivino confesses her belief that the soul takes a new body captivating readers further, personalizing her character's longing and ache. Interesting, fun, and a captivating story. For those who believe and for those who don't.

Yellow Glad Days
Sam Bellotto, Jr.
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468114072, $9.95 Paperback; $4.95 Kindle

Donald Schneider, Reviewer

Journalist Astin W. Wench comes to consciousness in an apparent state of limbo in unfamiliar environs. Not only is he unaware of where he is, he seems unaware of who he is and even uncertain if he is at all. He speculates that he might be dead and in some sort of spiritual hereafter. With this Douglas Adams-like introductory segment of Yellow Glad Days, a satirical dystopian novel somewhat reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World, begins an odyssey of remembrance and revulsion through the murky depths of the protagonist's not too distant past and perhaps our not too distant future.

Gradually, memories surface as Wench appears to be in some unfamiliar field hospital in parts unknown. He realizes that his last memories were of the nightmare of facing imminent execution by a democratically elected authoritarian regime that he had aggravated once too often. It is with trepidation that he awaits answers to his present situation as he is approached by an unknown man he presumes to be a doctor. The novel then flashes back to recount Wench's career as associate science editor for Bigapolis's Daily Parade, the city's largest newspaper. "Bigapolis" appears to be a thinly-veiled representation of New York City, the only actual place name within the book so fictionalized, presumably for satirical reasons a la the Superman comic books.

As the novel's protagonist slowly recovers his memories and bearings, the reader learns that the United States had some years into the past elected the Moralist Party to power by the largest (apparently legitimate) electoral landslide in history. The party's founder and president of the country is the Reverend Angus Barlow Yaramon, a Mainline Protestant minister turned Fundamentalist televangelist. Yaramon built a media empire, an interlocking network of power centers, which forms the basis of his seemingly mesmerizing influence over the populace. Throughout the novel, Yaramon himself remains a sort of iconic, omnipresent background figure, never personally figuring in the narrative. Instead, Thackery Eliphalet Cinder, Yaramon's smarmy vice president and hatchet man, engages the public with the administration's relentless propaganda designed to placate the people into a sense of complacency, passivity and consumerism to the benefit of the decidedly pro-capitalist regime.

As the party's name would connote, the regime rose to power on a platform of family values advocating the outlawing of abortion and virtually all forms of birth control short off sterilization, a method resorted to by many women, though discouraged by the government. In what I found to be a rather strange twist on the part of the author, the Moralist government-in its zeal to protect the fetus (and even "unconceived" potential ones)-so empowers children as to allow them to sue their parents for such grievances as not buying them a birthday present or the parents' failure to send their children to the best finance schools within the true capitalistic paradigm. Attributing such a position to an otherwise arch-conservative political movement seems rather out of character for those of the "children should be seen and not heard" school of thought of child rearing as exemplified by at least today's denizens of the social right.

Nevertheless, as the public is increasingly "zonked out" with the omnipresent diversions of public entertainment and consumerism-the administration's contemporary version of the bread and circuses philosophy of the ancient Romans-, many women placidly return to motherhood and housekeeping as urged by the paternalistic government. The tendency towards crass consumerism is enhanced by the administration's abolishment of income taxes in favor of ingenious methods of coaxing voluntary contributions.

However, the seeds of discontent have not been completely banished as dissenters have become increasingly vocal and have congealed into loosely defined separatist movement intent on demanding Alabama as an independent state and haven for the nonconformists. Wench and Mars Gumbo, a bear-like man and Wench's nominal superior as science editor at the Daily Parade, are sympathetic to the dissident cause, especially after the veep Cinder announces a new government program called: Biopsychic Lavation for Intensified Stimulation of Superego or "BLISS" for short. This innovation in mass mind control is announced by Cinder, couched in quasi-Freudian psychobabble designed to bedazzle the rubes. It basically involves a chemical composition injected into people from seemingly arcane, antiquated Rube Goldberg type equipment loaded into mobile labs in the form of bright yellow trucks (thus the book's title). The idea is sold as a way for people to finally achieve a sense of ultimate happiness that has always eluded them.

Although the acceptance of BLISS is entirely voluntary, as testimonials begin to pour in of its effectiveness by those guinea pigs of a more adventuresome nature or desperate disposition the populace is increasingly eager to embrace this seemingly miraculous panacea for all of life's ills. Wench, however, remains skeptical and becomes outright hostile towards BLISS after his common law wife, a chronically depressed and angst-ridden Latin beauty and onetime professional model turned fast food worker trying to raise a young daughter, chooses BLISS for herself and child against the expressed wishes of her crusading lover. The result is an apparently changed and, well, blissful woman who functions perfectly while seeming to care about nothing, not unlike the sense of complacency observed in converts to contemporary mind control cults.

After Wench and Gumbo are summoned to a surreptitious meeting with a leader of the normally publicity-shy Freeyares, a group of quasi-religious, mostly male street mendicants and radical separatists who have embraced public humiliation and masochism as a way to achieve Nirvana, Wench is arrested by the police who violently bust the hapless social misfits. Wench is condemned to death after his publicly viewed trial, much to the shock of the presiding judge-not to mention himself. Being led to his presumed execution room is the last memory the frantic reporter has before the narrative resumes after its introductory segment.

Titus Archimedes, a medical researcher and virologist with a medical degree, dumfounds Wench in relating to him that his execution had been magnanimously commuted by the Reverend Yaramon at the last moment in favor of Deep BLISS, a far more potent form of BLISS that results from a state of extreme fear by the recipient; the only condition under which it can be successfully administered to those unwilling to receive the treatment. As a result of Archimedes and other separatist citizens of the now independent state of Alabama rescuing and reviving Wench from the zombie state he has been living in for the past nine years, the journalist has suffered total amnesia regarding these years and is shocked to learn of his own activities during this period of missing time within his consciousness.

As a result of the horrifying revelations concerning himself, Wench, along with Archimedes and the ever colorful governor of Alabama of Wench's prior acquaintance, sets off on a quest to combat Yaramon, Cinder and BLISS and rescue their erstwhile countrymen from the insidious hypnotic grip of the Moralists' benighted ethics with the help of some heretical, schismatic Freeyares with an attitude and a bomb.

Yellow Glad Days is rather cerebral fare which does not have the markings of a national bestseller. However, it does indeed have the potential to become a modern cult classic amongst academics, intellectuals and politically-minded folks. The story incorporates several elements of today's political landscape, ranging from climate change and abortion through a host of other issues, while employing scathing social commentary replete with outrageous names and puns. From the author's introductory quote from Schiller, through his sardonic dedication to Xanax and Paxil, to the novel's amusing but thought-provoking and satisfying conclusion, Yellow Glad Days is a delightful, farcical romp through the jaded psyche of contemporary society projected into an all too plausible tomorrow.

Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World's Most Loved (and Hated) Team
Edited by Rob Fleder
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
9780062059628, $27.99,


Rob Fleder says it himself in his introduction to this book, love them or hate them, everyone has an opinion about the New York Yankees. This book proves it.

In "Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World's Most Loved (and Hated) Team", Rob Fleder has gathered essays from 24 top-notch writers about anything Yankee related. Some speak about their experiences growing up as fans, as haters, as onlookers, but all talk about the Yankees and what they mean to them.

The collection of essays are interesting in their variety, each author talks about different times and topics, which means there's something for everyone here. Some essays are better than others and then some are really good. Number one pick for best essay: "The Errors of our Ways" by Pete Dexter.

Oops, I Lost My Sense of Humor
Lois Wells Santalo
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9780595258406, $12.95,

Jessica Wood

For the young, old age seems a long way off, something they need not worry about for years to come. Yet recent studies have shown that many physical problems of the elderly start in their thirties and forties, and with reasonable care many illnesses might be avoided.

We all want to live to a ripe old age, but only if we can carry on with our life with no debilitating diseases. We hope to be that rare person still running marathons, or writing books, at age 90. Yet often we fail to take the necessary steps to get us there.

Of course, good genes help. But we should do all we can, because it's later than you think. Astonishingly soon, you may begin to wonder what happened to that person who could dance most of the night and still go off to work in the morning.

As an old-age survivor of both breast cancer and pancreatic cancer, author Lois Wells Santalo speaks as an expert on living long and prospering. In her book, Oops, I Lost My Sense of Humor, she describes her operation for pancreatic cancer, undertaken at age 81 amid doubts by the doctor that surgery could be successful on a patient of an advanced age. The doctor said, "I wouldn't attempt this on a person even slightly obese." the surgeon insisted everything had to be right: no heart condition, no threat of organ failures on the operating table. "I was lucky," Lois says. "A folk dance enthusiast, I'd developed through dancing a strong heart and maintained youthful internal organs."

While facing the dreaded O-day, the operation which would either save or end her time on earth, the author probes deeply into the question of the meaning of life. Looking back, she describes major events including the loss of two much-loved husbands, her conflicts with her mother, and even a road trip across country, undertaken at age seventeen when she'd never seen a mountain and felt terrified of the "naked geology" of the West. Later, the wife of a concert pianist, she was called upon to host parties and accompany her husband to social events even while the couple scraped by on minimal G.I. bill funds. Her life was challenging but never dull.

Working for many years as a reader and ghost writer for her literary agent, Lois had struggled mightily but with minimum success to meet publishers' guidelines in her own writing. After her operation, she threw out the guidelines and wrote from the heart, seeking to express what she alone had to say to the world. The advent of Print on Demand publishing made this possible, and in the eleven extra years so far granted to her, she has produced six novels as well as the memoir.
The last section of the book is a triumphant update of her survival: "Ten years and counting." Her story is an inspiration to the upcoming retirees on how not to go gentle into that good night. Highly recommended.

The Otherworld of Jenny McQueen
Margo Martin Benning
Advocate House
c/o A Cappela Publishing
P.O. Box 3691
Sarasota, FL, 34230-3691
9780984617784, $12.99

Jodi Grant, Reviewer

Ever wished you could leave your life behind and find happiness and romance in another world? So did Jenny McQueen, 60 year old widow and former shop owner who found no sparkle to her life in Omniville, Ohio - when suddenly her damned cell phone rang yet again as she battled rain, traffic, telemarketers, and hidden keys in her effort to reach a dental appointment she was late for. This was not the usual tin can ring. It was harp music. She answered irritably, only to hear a wise wizardly voice invite her to The Otherworld.

In Jenny's many trips to this magical kingdom she encounters mythical animals, fairy-tale people, and her own personal dragons. And, of course, Jenny ends up living happily ever after.

This wise, witty Jungian tale of rebirth and rediscovery is truly a tale of enchantment for the disenchanted.

Sea of Crises
Marty Steere
Penfield Publications
c/o Amazon Digital Services
9780985401405, $15.95,

Kaye Trout

Quoting from the back cover:

""That shouldn't be here."

"Those are the last words uttered by Commander Bob Cartwright in September 1976, just before all communication with the crew of Apollo 18 is inexplicably lost during the astronauts' first moonwalk. Frantic attempts by mission control to re-establish contact are unsuccessful. Three days later, however, as NASA is scrambling to put together a rescue mission, astronomers detect a burn of the service propulsion system, and, on schedule, but still in eerie silence, the command module begins to return transit, culminating in the welcome sight of the capsule descending majestically beneath a trio of parachutes into the South Pacific.

"But when the hatch is opened, the navy divers tasked with assisting the astronauts into the recovery helicopter make a gruesome discovery. The bodies of the three men inside have been burned beyond recognition, victims of a failed heat shield. And with them has died the answer to a great mystery: What was the meaning of Cartwright's enigmatic last statement, and what happened during those three blacked out days in the Mare Crisium, the Sea of Crises?

"Unfortunately, unless and until man returns to the moon, that mystery will remain forever unsolved.

"Or will it?""

This fictional story of the three Cartwright brothers coming together to solve this mystery is a fast-paced, suspense-filled novel you might enjoy, particularly if you're interested in space exploration. Marty Steere is a practicing attorney in Southern California, and Sea of Crises is his first novel. It is well written, well edited and up to professional standards. Congratulations!

A. C. Gaughen
Walker and Company
175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010
9780802723468, $17.99,

Melissa Prange

Will Scarlet has a secret: He is actually a she.

In Gaughen's novel, Scarlet acts as thief and spy for Robin Hood and his band of merry men. She steals food and money for the poor and spots the best places for the band to stage ambushes on travelers and coaches. She's excellent with a knife and isn't afraid of anyone or anything--with the sole exception of spymaster, Guy of Gisbourne. She, however, thinks herself rid of that monster after she fled London, but the sheriff summons him to Nottingham to track down Robin Hood. Thankfully, Robin has Scarlet, John Little, and Much to help keep Gisbourne at bay.

Scarlet is a well-written adventure story that fits in seamlessly with the Robin Hood legend. Gaughen succeeds in presenting a likeable and strong heroine. Unlike the traditional Maid Marian, Scarlet is no damsel in distress. Scarlet defends herself, demands to be treated as an equal, and rescues those in danger. She doesn't let others do the fighting for her, and she's willing to sacrifice almost everything for those she chooses to protect. It is refreshing to read a YA novel where the heroine and not the bad boy/good boy love triangle takes the forefront. Too many books give the female protagonist no life outside of their messed up romantic relationships. While Scarlet may have a crush on Robin, it doesn't consume her entire life. Instead, she focuses on trying to right the wrongs of her past. Scarlet isn't perfect and can be grumpy and somewhat foolish at times, but compared to other YA heroines, she's an absolute gem and the sort of heroine that teen girls can admire.

As for the Merry Men, Much is by far a stand out. He's much more likable than Robin or John in spite of his infrequent appearances in the novel. He is a good friend to Scarlet, and it is nice to see a platonic male/female relationship for once. The author should have included more of Much and less of John Little. Both Robin and Much get overshadowed by him. John Little is not a badly written character, but he is just plain unlikable most of the time and the ending completely cements his distastefulness. Robin, in comparison, is a more favorable leading man, but he isn't in the book enough for the reader to really get to know him. Hopefully, there will be a sequel and the reader will see a bit more of him.

One character that should also be further explored in a potential sequel is Guy of Gisbourne. The novel definitely suffers by his complete lack of characterization. He has no substance and quickly becomes a villain of the mustache twirling variety. It would have been nice for him to have one admirable quality. He is just plain boring without it.

On the whole, Scarlet is a very worthwhile addition to the Robin Hood legend and a great read for young adults and Robin Hood fans alike.

Zen Master Next Door
Edward G. Kardos
Humanics Publishing Group
12 S. Dixie Highway, Suite 203
Lake Worth, FL 33460
9780893344580, $29.95,

Susan M. Andrus

As a child, I read Aesop's Fables several times enjoying seeing the characters learn lessons from their environment and their own behavior. Edward Kardos's book, "Zen Master Next Door: Parables for Enlightened Everyday Living", reads like a modern version of my favorite fables as the characters learn valuable lessons around topics such as generosity, aging, compassion, and grace. Salespeople, lawyers, parents, children, and others find themselves in situations where they have an opportunity to learn generosity from their neighbor, simplicity from the Amish man offering wagon rides, compassion from the mechanic who fixes an engine for a reasonable price when times are tough, and respect for diversity from a neighbor, a bus driver, and a teacher.

A group of quotations written by Kardos and others follows each short story related to the lesson being illustrated. On generosity Kardos writes, "A full glass can take no more. Unless we empty it, the chance for more is lost. So it is with us. We are blessed for no reason when we practice grace. As we empty ourselves giving to others, we are miraculously filled with what we need."

In the final chapter, "Listening to Others," Kardos offers more selected quotations on topics such as Knowledge and Wisdom, Doubt, Today ("Never let yesterday use up too much of today." Will Rogers), Hope, Kindness, Forgiveness, and others. Some quotes came from my old friend, Aesop.

For an opportunity to read stories filled with lovely descriptions of scenes, characters, and situations, as well as learn lessons pertaining to everyday life, Zen Master Next Door is the book. I'm going to read it again and again.

Bethany's Bookshelf

Augusto Angelucci
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456306991, $17.95,

The reason to study history is not just to prevent the repeating of mistakes, but to enable our understanding of who we are, how we came to believe what we believe, and to appreciate the cultural, physical, and scientific accomplishments that have created the world in which we live today. "Civilizations: A theory regarding the origin, development and conflicts of shepherd and farmer societies. The influence of a celestial being in the creation and evolution of the universe" by Augusto Angelucci is a 520-page compendium exploring the connections and commonalities between geographically and culturally diverse civilizations and their influences and impacts upon the development of our 21st Century world. Informed and informative, "Civilizations" begins explores human history with a focus upon nomadic and agricultural societies. Of special note is an appendices dealing with human influences upon the environment. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Civilizations" is a highly recommended read for anyone with an interest in the history of human cultures and their continuing legacies with respect to the world of the 21st Century.

Global Economics
Victor R. Levine
Privately Published
9780692016428, $15.95

The world of economics is always changing. "Global Economics: The Age of Balanced Capitalism" is a combination memoir and discussion of worldwide economics as Victor R. Levine, a professor of medicine and public health who has seen much of the world and gained insight into many systems, presents an intriguing study in today's changing systems and where he believes economic trends are going. "Global Economics" is a strong read for those curious about economics around the world and how it all ties together.

Change Your Life, Not Your Wife
Tony Ferretti & Peter J. Weiss
Heathrow Books
c/o Cadence Publishing (publicity)
9780985043407, $14.95,

Success in life all too often comes at the price of personal relationships. "Change Your Life, Not Your Wife: Marriage Saving Advice for Success Driven People" is an advisory guide for business people who often have their relationships fall apart as they pursue their career. Tony Ferretti and Peter Weiss as they advise readers on how to manage their personal and professional lives in a way where both can flourish. "Change Your Life, Not Your Wife" is a must for those constantly toiling for their next great success in their lives.

The Devil's Son
Anne Black Gray
Woodland Press
9780985264000, $21.95,

The Hatfield McCoy feud is legendary, as two families gained their own spot in history. "The Devil's Son: Cap Hatfield and the End of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud" discusses the twilight of the family feud, Anne Black Gray analyzes the impact of the feud that spilled into the courtroom, had much blood spilled, and raged through generations. Following Cap Hatfield and the resolution of the feud following the failure of former family patriarch Devil Anse in leading the war. "The Devil's Son" is a strong analysis of this conflict and why it matters, a strong and much recommended addition to American history collections.

Jackie and the Dreamstalk
Duane C. Wilson
Privately Published
9780984731800, $11.99,

Our dreams are what keeps us going and they should never be surrendered. "Jackie and the Dreamstalk" is a short story from Duane C. Wilson who advises readers on how to keep at their dreams even at their lowest points, and keep creating new dreams to pursue in their life in many levels. With colorful illustrations throughout, "Jackie and the Dreamstalk" is a fine addition to community library motivational collections.

Angelica's Discoveries
Otilia Greco
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462073511, $13.95,

Old phobias can challenge our lives, but they can be overcome. "Angelica's Discoveries" follows Angelica as she pushes herself to see the world, facing a crippling fear of water, a fear that she must overcome if she is to sail the seas. A story of fears, facing them, and reaping the adventure that comes with it, "Angelica's Discoveries" is a strong pick for general fiction collections, especially for those seeking tales of overcoming phobia.

It Was Food vs. Me ...and I Won
Nancy Goodman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468005417, $12.95,

Overcoming one's diet's issues can often be a long struggle in life. "It Was Food vs. Me... and I Won" is a health memoir from Nancy Goodman as she shares her own journey to fitness, recounting her own struggle to stay away from binging on food and being tempted by it all around her. With plenty of advice on developing a healthier lifestyle, "It Was Food vs. Me... and I Won" Is a strong pick for general fiction collections, highly recommended.

The Last Man
W. C. Turck
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469771939, $12.95,

The machine of the world can be realized, although there are those who will fight it. "The Last Man" is a novel from W. C. Turck, envisioning a world controlled by one mega-corporation. When one child is born free of the system, he faces the crime of existing, and is tried, as he tries to prove his right to exist in a world that is devoid of anything but the will of the corporation. "The Last Man" is an intriguing novel of a dystopic world and what ti means to be human.

The Ripple Effect
Ken Coleman
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469167428, $19.99,

The American legal system is founded on intent...but can a child hold the intent of murder? "The Ripple Effect" is author Ken Coleman's personal exploration of such an event from the many perspectives of personal, legal, and public beliefs and their effects on society. "The Ripple Effect" is a choice and much recommended addition to general fiction collections.

A Pool Player's Journey
Dale Brandt
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9780533165414, $16.95,

Success in anything can drive one further. "A Pool Player's Journey" is a memoir from Dale Brandt, a pool enthusiast who shares his love of the game and hopes to inspire others who are fans of the game to gain better success and drive with it. With a good dose of psychology, practical playing tips, and much more, "A Pool Player's Journey" presents an intriguing delve into the mental aspect of the game and how to gain better success at the table.

Accidental Assassin
Chris Elgood
Chris Elgood Associates Ltd.
9780956894809 $11.99

The first book in the Nshila Trilogy, Accidental Assassin is the story of a black female witch in England. With the great power of the mysterious, magical craft she learns from her teacher Kwaname, she dares to assassinate villains who would otherwise be untouchable, from a crooked policeman to a white slaver and even a wealthy foreign terrorist. A dark and gripping chronicle of ruthless justice, Accidental Assassin is especially recommended to fans of thrillers, as are its sequels "He Only Died Twice" (9780956894816, $11.99 pbk. / $0.99 Kindle) and "The Eager Apprentice" (9780956894823, $11.99 pbk. / $0.99 Kindle).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

5 Steps to Your Next Job
Narinder K. Mehta
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456528140, $11.95,

Finding career success in today's market requires something special. "5 Steps to Your Next Job" is a driven guide from Narinder K. Mehtaas he advises readers to drive themselves further and make them more attractive potential employees to get the job that they desire for their career. From using the internet to the fullest and making for a more comprehensive resume, "5 Steps to Your Next Job" is a strong addition to any job-hunters reference collection.

Whatever is Lovely
Marsha Maurer
Carpenter's Son Publishing
9780983557166, $19.99,

We all have who we want to be, and we always be pursuing that. "Whatever is Lovely: Design for an Elegent Spirit" is an inspirational and spiritual read from Marsha Maurer as he hopes to drive and inspire women to become what they dreamed of, transforming themselves and the world around them. Insightful and powerful with a strong Christian spiritual element to the endeavor, "Whatever is Lovely" is a most for inspirational and Christian spiritual collections geared towards women.

The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx
Linda A. Cadose
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468508079, $14.95,

A great secret lies hidden, and when it's revealed, everyone seeks it. "The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx" is a novel exploring the revelation of a seeming anachronistic supercomputer lying within the Great Sphinx. With the revelation, comes plots to profit off it, and a terrorist group rushes to seize it. A novel of revelations, adventures, and reactions, "The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx" is a choice thriller novel.

Letters from Robots
Diana Salier
Night Bomb Press
9780984084227, $12.00,

Emotion changes things we face in life. "Letters from Robots" is a collection of poetry from Diana Salier, as she explores life with and without emotion, to gain a perspective on its force in our lives. With humor and poignancy throughout, "Letters from Robots" is a strong addition to poetry collections, highly recommended. "a simple request found on market and Jones": please can i/ have some pot/and a nice girl to love/forever.

The Prophet's Alibi
Timothy J. Korzep
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469737010, $16.95,

World leaders in danger, it will take the peak of training to have a chance at success. "The Prophet's Alibi" is a thriller novel from Timothy J. Korzep, following the abduction of the president of the United States and the weight of the world that lies in the hands of Sylvia Jensen, a trained fighter turned assistant, as she not only faces terrorist, but the murky web of foreign relations. "The President's Alibi" is a strong pick for those who enjoy modern thrillers.

The White Bridge
Robert Rubenstein
All Things That Matter Press
9780985006631, $16.99,

The consequences of racism can be felt strongly through a small community. "The White Bridge" is a follow up to Robert Rubenstein's previous novel Ghost Runners, bringing a combination of dark history and comedy to the impact of racism as it poisons the well of a small town, and the proponents of change lash back not going lightly. "The White Bridge" is a thoughtful and intriguing novel that should keep the pages turning.

Scott Schultz's Guide to Closed-End Funds
Scott T. Schultz
Barringer Publishing
9780983308898, $18.95,

Investing is a major component for future financial security. "Scott Schultz's Guide to Closed-End Funds: How to Achieve Your Financial Independence" is an investment guide from long time financial veteran Scott T. Schultz who advises readers on how to use Closed-End funds to get their success and find that success for many years to come. "Scott Schultz's Guide to Closed-End Funds" is a strong pick for those who want better security for their future money management concerns.

Earth Shaker
Richard Guimond
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461115885, $15.38,

The legend of the minotaur is one of man and beast. "Earth Shaker" is a modern take on the myth from Richard Guimond. Naomi Slocum, an archaeologist unearths the origins of the minotaur legend and brings it from Greece to Washington D.C.. In the process, something is unleashed on the town, and Naomi must quickly learn to deal with the millennia's old legend face to face. "Earth Shaker" is a fun and fascinating addition to general fiction collections.

Calling Extra
Kristina Romero
Kids Book Market
9780985191603, $14.95,

With a new century on the horizon, change might lay in the hands of the youngest. "Calling Extra" is a novel set in 1899, as paperboys and girls in New York City, left with little other option, begin to push through social change and make a difference in their world. Two thirteen year olds do their part to make a difference, and makes "Calling Extra" a riveting read of a struggling youth against a world with no favor for them.

Christ: The Preeminent Throne
Cynthia King Bolden Gardner
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468549287, $12.95,

"Christ: The Preeminent Throne" is a slender, 60-page compendium comprised of Baptist evangelical commentaries in celebration of Christ Jesus, the hope of the world and of every sinner seeking forgiveness and redemption. Cynthia Gardner draws upon her life of work and faith to provide scripturally sound and life enhancing insights. Inspired and inspiring, "Christ: The Preeminent Throne" is enthusiastically recommended reading and a welcome addition to personal and pastoral supplemental reading lists and reference collections.

What's Going on at the Montcliff?
Linda Stone
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466431720 $14.00

What's Going on at the Montcliff? is a tense murder mystery in which most of the investigators happen to belong to the over-65 generation. Set in the Montcliff Apartments, a formly grand building surrounded by declining property values on the Chicago lakefront, What's Going on at the Montcliff opens with the addition of a miserable new tenant, who is a drug dealer as well as a boor and a jackass. Then one of the tenants is murdered. The police hypothesize that it's a robbery gone foul; their lackluster investigation prompts the geriatric tenants to hunt for the perpetrator on their own. They begin by parsing overheard gossip, but then their search for a murderer turns dangerous! A choice pick for mystery aficionados.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

The Steel Queen
Karen L. Azinger
Kiralynn Epics
9780983516002 $13.50

Book one of a five-part series, The Silk & Steel Saga, The Steel Queen is a sword-and-sorcery epic that encompasses the destinies of gods and kingdoms. Kath, a princess with the heart and soul of a warrior, must stand against a nefarious force, while Liandra, the queen of the spiders, battles a fierce rebellion. An enthralling struggle of good versus evil, The Steel Queen is especially recommended for readers who enjoy high fantasy. The second novel in The Silk & Steel Saga, "The Flame Priest" (9780983516026, $13.50) continues the fight against the darkness, as the malevolent Mordant is reawakened by a red comet and spreads ruin across the land, and a fire-dominated religion grips the people of Coronth. The third novel is "The Skeleton King" (9780983516064, $13.50), in which the world teeters upon the edge of the abyss, and the final two volumes, "The Poison Priestess" and "The Battle Immortal" are forthcoming - the sooner the better!

Antonia De Rocsini
Rinaldo Rinaldini, author
Krys Roxien, translator
Privately Published
9780615477220 $20.95

Antonia De Rocsini: Queen of the Pirates is a biography of one of the least-known female pirates: Antonia De Rocsini, born of royal blood but destined for infamy. Originally penned in the 17th century by Rinaldo Rinaldini, Antonia De Rocsini has been skillfully translated from the French into modern English by Krys Roxien, and reads as fluidly as a novel. Any who thrill to true-life pirate stories are sure to enjoy this!

Sand Dollar
Sebastian Cole
Privately Published
9780985115609, $9.99,

A love is not something people seek to release so easily. "Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love" is a novel of love lost, following Noah Hartman as he tries to release the love of Robin, who cut him out of her life those years ago. When Noah finds another love once more, Robin reappears in his life, and shakes what Noah truly believes in his pursuits. "Sand Dollar" is a strong pick for general fiction and romance collections, highly recommended.

Row Well and Live
James E. Haley
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462083497, $18.95,

The lead up to a time of trouble had its own allure. "Row Well and Live" is a novel of the pre-Vietnam war era, set among the backdrop of the Cold War and rowing up in the early 1960s. A tale of student romance spirals into a story of espionage and secrecy, as young Jack Norton comes out of the naivety of youth to face the cruelty of the world. "Row Well and Live" is an intriguing novel, very much worth considering.

Torch in the Dark
Hadiyah Joan Caryle
Book Publishers Network
9781937454234, $16.95,

When your a sole woman in the world with no one to provide "Torch in the Dark" follows Hadiyah Joan Caryle as she shares her journey of delving into the profession of delving, becoming of the first women to be union certified, struggling with her demons in the tumultuous climate of the 1960s and 1970s, and offering a perspective of the era from a woman with her own troubles. "Torch in the Dark" is a fine memoir, very much recommended reading.

A Voice in the Wind
Donald Risho
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432712075, $17.95,

War against your countrymen is not a war one seeks to fight. "A Voice in the Wind" is a collection of short stories from Donald Risho as he presents many tales of the four years which America clashed and nearly destroyed itself. With its own poignant moments of a very human conflict, "A Voice in the Wind" is a strong addition to any historical fiction collection, highly recommended reading for fans of civil war and short fiction.

Robert Kral
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468095746, $8.99,

One mistake can lead to another. "Idiotville: The Fool's Handbook for the 21st Century" is a novel from Robert Kral, set in the titular town with a none-to-high opinion of itself. As the town's mayor allows his brother another task, the accidents that begin to spew forth careen into more and more, as Kral brings a fine brand of humor and satire on the more laughable aspects of society. "Idiotville" is a strong pick for humorous fiction collections, recommended.

Honeycomb Kids
Anna M. Campbell
Cape Able
9780980747508, $17.95,

A new century brings new ways to raise one's children. "Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting: For a Changing World ...and to Change the World" discusses new parenting ideas and techniques for the 21st century, with advice for dealing with the problems that modern children will often face with today's world of all encompassing advertisement and misinformation, and how to better equip them to deal with a rapidly changing world of tomorrow. "Honeycomb Kids" is a fine parenting guide for parents who know the wisdom may remain the same but the ways we teach our kids change with the times.

Baby Rose
Carol Short
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432765866, $14.95,

On a rough start, life can only grow even more difficult. "Baby Rose" is a novel from Carol Short, as she crafts a story of two half-sisters Heidi and Ali, born from a struggling mother as they face life together and try to overcome the struggles of a rough upbringing and the search for happiness. "Baby Rose" is a fine novel, very much recommended reading, not to be missed.

Soul of Synchronicity
Cindy K. Dhilton
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452536941, $13.95,

We channel the past of lives that may have once been our own. "The Soul of Synchronicity" is a spiritual self-improvement read from Cindy K. Dhilton as she advises readers to come to understand their place in the universe and how to embrace a potential past life and channel its experiences. "The Soul of Synchronicity" is a fine pick for spirituality and metaphysical self-improvement collections, recommended.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

A Dubious Terrain
Gerald J. Kubicki
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468184136 $13.99

A Dubious Terrain continues the exploits of Colton Banyon, who must stop a deadly threat against the heart of American government. Along with his three sidekicks, he searches for three artifacts that have been stolen, apparently by someone with government connections - and the hunt will lead him to cross paths illegal immigrants, drug dealers, questionable politicians, Homeland Security, and even a ruthless modern-day Nazi organization called Effort! The reawakened Nazi menace is more powerful, financed, and ruthless than anyone could have imagined, and Banyon and his companions are the only ones in a position to protect the free world before it's too late, in this suspenseful, high-action saga. Also highly recommended are the previous three novels in the "Dubious Mystery" series, "A Dubious Mission", "A Dubious Secret", and "A Dubious Dream".

You Can Live
Sonja Michelle Archie
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468548266, $12.95,

Even as life comes with a bad hand, one must always push themselves to live to the fullest. "You Can Live" is a Christian memoir from Sonja Michelle Archie, as she shares her story of determination to succeed on many levels, sharing her triumphs and tragedies over life's illnesses, the reliance on the kindness and goodwill of others, her drive to become a mother. Although published posthumously, it proves as a tribute to never let ailment determine one's place in life. "You Can Live" is a remarkable and recommended story, not to be missed.

Bitter Victory
Mary Lou Hagen
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469771991, $14.95,

As the war ends, not all conflicts and ill feelings are resolved with it. "Bitter Victory" is a novel set in the Reconstruction era following Trace Burdette, a Union soldier coming to a ranch that belonged to a dead brother to care for it. In the surrounding town, times are changing as people come from all over to find their place in the world. Marrying a woman who has a child who is not his, Trace sees the tide of racism rising up, and he and those he calls dear must go to war once more. "Bitter Victory" is a fascinating story of race after the Civil War, very much recommended.

Crystal Marcos
Cat Marcs Publishing
9780984389919, $9.95,

Evil has a tendency to be all the more annoying in its ways. "Headache: The Hair-Raising Sequel to Bellyache" is a novel from Crystal Marcos, following up her previous volume discussing the heroics of Peter and Lina as they try to protect their hometown from a very persistent villain who has nefarious intent for them. "Headache" is a humorous and much recommended addition to general fiction collections.

The Churning Cauldron
Ronald Dahle
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432777623 $18.95

Special Forces veteran Ronald Dahle presents The Churning Cauldron: Book1... The Beginning, an action-packed novel describing an America that has grown corrupt, repressive, and on the verge of degenerating into a totalitarian state. One man, a retired Green Beret, is determined to bring liberty back to the collapsing nation - by force if necessary! With the aid of "The Geriatric Warriors", friends he served with years ago, he is prepared to sacrifice everything - even his very soul - to exterminate those responsible for the failing government, no matter how high their political rank. Violent, dark, and brutal, The Churning Cauldron is a gripping page-turner to the very end.

Under the Shadow of the Almighty
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781616636760, $7.99,

Life will continue to knock us down, and some look to faith for the power to get back up again. "Under the Shadow of the Almighty" is a Christian inspirational book as Ms. Yvette Freeman Rowland as she advises readers on how to pursue a faithful life under the protection and guidance of Christ. Driven and faithful reading, "Under the Shadow of the Almighty" is worth considering for those seeking a bit of gospel for everyday life.

The Silver Coast
Daniel Powell
Distillations Press
9780615596044, $14.00,

Humanity can present itself in many, many ways. "The Silver Coast: And Other Stories" is a collection of short stories from Daniel Powell as he presents a wide array of stories reflecting the lost bits of history we face, touching on the known and unknown, the dark sides of what has happened and what goes on when we're not looking. "The Silver Coast" is an enticing collection of fiction that shouldn't be overlooked for fans of offbeat stories with many twists on the tropes of common events.

Gumshoe Granny
Allen B. Boyer
Cozy Cat Press
9780984840205, $14.95,

Retirement won't let a good mind rest. "Gumshoe Granny Investigates" follows Bess Bullock who finds her investigation skills are continued to be needed, even in her supposedly quiet Honey Hills Retirement home. A fine pick for lovers of cozy mysteries, "Gumshoe Granny Investigates" is a humorous and much recommended pick for those seeking an old fashioned mystery, highly recommended.

Red Nova
Paul L. Centeno
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466481800, $14.95,

One man alone is not enough to turn the tide of the universe. "Red Nova" is a novel of the twenty seventh century, as the universe seems to be under threat of certain destruction. A story of many rising to the call of heroism to save humanity from its ultimate destruction. "Red Nova" is a riveting work of far flung science fiction, highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Anne Gurchick
Transformation Media Books
9780985273729, $16.95,

A good heart is only the first step in a battle against cancer. "Saved!: Cancer, Katrina Dogs, and Me" is a memoir from Anne Gurchick as she shares her own struggles as a veteran of animal shelters and how cancer hit her along with the influx of dogs that came with the Katrina disaster. A story of facing down cancer while caring for animals no one else would care for, "Saved!" is a strong pick for those with a concern for animal shelters or looking for a cancer memoir.

Michael J. Carson

Clark's Bookshelf

Blue Heaven
Willard Wyman
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806142180, $21.95,

Western skies, mountains, trail riders, and the old West come alive once again in this compelling novel by award winning author Willard Wyman. A prequel to his "High Country" we encounter the early days of Fenton Pardee as they stretch into four decades.

Wyman opens in classic style with a train wreck, which created havoc in the Wild West show of "Buffalo Bill" who has been known to all as William F. Cody. A bizarre crash results in the destruction of many rail cars that transported the entourage on to their next engagement. Assessing the situation as hopeless, Fenton Pardee rescues his mules and horse, packs them up, says goodbye to old friends and hits the trail to the openness of Montana.

Traveling is rugged even for this experienced mountaineer, but he trudges his way westward in search of fulfillment of his life. He follows Indian trails and game trails as he moves deeper into the wilderness. Fenton faces hardship when his horse dies and he has to travel on foot to lead his three mules, which are carrying his worldly possessions. He walks through the valleys and up mountains leading his pack animals to the camp of Tommy Yellowtail.

Tommy was surprised at the arrival of Fenton Pardee and was astonished that he was able to do it without a saddle horse! Admiration starts a new friendship that lasts throughout the years. Tommy was a self-styled horse trader who was trying to survive on his own by selling his collection of horses. Fenton was in need of a horse and it was a perfect opportunity for each of them in this serendipitous meeting.

Fenton brought his skill as a hunter, tracker, trader, and chef to the arrangement and Tommy displayed his knowledge of the land. It was a time in which they both gained mutual respect for each other.

What makes this story stand out, as being exceptional is the development of a relationship between an Indian and cowboy! Tommy and Fenton each recognize that in order to succeed they will need to become civilized and live in society rather than being out in the wilderness living off the land. Their time in the wilderness still exists, but it is under different circumstances. They become guides to city folk who want to experience the outdoor conditions, but with the thoughtful guidance of experienced packers. Because they are so responsible, their business thrives and they acquire land. There are many opportunities which open doors for Fenton to become a landowner. The exploration of these events is another part of the compelling interest in this story.

Fenton has romantic interests that lead to his marring Cody Jo. Tommy also has romantic interests, though he does not marry. This is an adult themed book with interesting interludes at "The Bar of Justice" that was a speakeasy and house of ill repute. After all, this did take place partially during the period of prohibition.

William Wyman easily describes a sense of reality since his background is similar to that of the same style as his character. Even with this wild side, Wyman has been a college instructor in literature and dean at Colby College and Stanford University. His previous novel, "High Country," was named Best First Novel and Best Novel of the West by the Western Writers of America.

This novel is highly recommended and is a five star book.

The Family Corleone
Ed Falco
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9780446574624, $27.99,

Mario Puzo wrote "The Godfather" which is a modern classic that sold 21 million copies and evolved into the first two "Godfather" films directed by Francis Ford Coppola. These movies are widely considered two of the
best movies of all time.

A prequel is a book, which antedates the original book and brings to life the development of the characters that made up the original story. Ed Falco an award-winning author who has written four story collections and three novels writes "The Family Corleone". He has also penned nine plays in addition to poems, essays and book reviews. He is a professor of English at Virginia Tech where he directed the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. This background fully qualifies him to capture the essence of the people who make up this Mafia family and describe their early years.

In 1933, the nation was changing from a prohibition era that created many opportunities for criminals to peddle illegal liquor at a high profit. Changes came to the way they were going to do business and the five Mafia families that controlled New York came to grips with how they would do business in the future. Vito Corleone, the Godfather, was patient in his approach to gaining control of the other families and had the foresight to know that careful planning was necessary to achieve his takeover.

Artists use broad-brush strokes when painting a picture to illustrate they have mastery over the entire canvas. Vito Corleone was not different. He created a scenario of bribery, which included Judges, Councilmen, and even the Mayor of New York. He was able by his illegal and legal profits to obtain favors, which he made available to the other Mafia families, thus he made himself invaluable to them.

During this early origin of the family, the children who will become the main characters of the movies and the book "The Godfather" grow up. Featuring the relationship between Sonny and his father, we see how control of many situations make Sonny a more calculating criminal rather than just being hot tempered. The other children are either too young or are in school getting educated.

Vito Corleone had ambitious dreams for his children, including Sonny, but Sonny at 17 was rambunctious and tried to strike out on his own. He organized his own gang of thugs who robbed another Don and stole his shipment of whiskey. Touching off a skirmish between the two families, Sonny and his gang found they had to stop being independent and come into the fold.

One of the interesting facets of this book is the use of Italian throughout. At first, the reader does not realize what the words mean. Ed Falco has treated us to an Italian language lesson by including a glossary at the back of the book that tells how to pronounce the words and what they mean.

Many of the scenes are not for the squeamish. Depicted in clear language is the gross killing of various characters throughout the book. Remember, these are not your loving and kindly meek people. They are rough and tough from the top, Vito, to the bottom Sonny!

Humor is interspersed along with some love scenes, though these are not that graphic. One funny incident involved a couple of scammers who attempted to outsmart Vito as he was constructing his family's compound on Long Island. These two men showed up during construction and said they were going to inspect, free, the furnace installation. They proceeded to tear it apart and then tried to charge for reassembly. Vito told them he would send one of his men down to pay them their outrageous sum. Sonny wanted to fight them immediately, but Vito said that he would not have to since when his man got through with them, they would put it together free and apologize for the inconvenience. They did apologize and drove away in their van on three tires since the other one was tireless!

This is an excellent adult book from start to finish and seems to kindle once again how the five families in New York evolved into the Mafia. This is a five star book, which is highly recommended.

The Last Camel Charge
Forrest Bryant Johnson
Berkley Caliber
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425245699, $25.95,

Memorial Day is a fitting time to remember the heroes of the old West. Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale is one of those pioneers who were instrumental in the development of trails, which led to roads, and placement of today's cities. Kingman Arizona is located where it is and Fort Mohave is where Beale Crossing is located.

What does this have to do with "The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America's Desert Military Experiment"? In the 1850's there was misplaced fear about Utah and the Mormon community in Washington, D.C... Fear that the Mormons were going to take over the entire West and run it their way to the exclusion of other emigrants who were attempting to move west during and after the discovery of gold in California. In this era, Indians could see their lands being taken over so they harassed the settlers. The Mojave Indians lived on the banks of the Colorado River and though they were peaceful, finally rose up as they had no place to move.

Lt. Ed Beale had the task of finding a better means of transportation in the desert and through years of discussions, Congress and the President of the United States gave $30,000 for experimental importation and evaluation of camels! Use of camels was a secret weapon for the military and because Beale had experience with them, he was the chosen one in this noble experiment.

Beale was not the only person involved at this time and the book is so thoroughly researched that most of the heroes both pre-civil war and civil war are chronicled. This book is a remembrance to those who willingly gave their lives so that new emigres could settle the western territories. Many monuments are scattered throughout modern cities and pay homage to the men who served. However, in some of these monuments are the remains of camels!

Camels were extinct in North America for thousands of years and only survived in the Mideast. Lt. Beale on a specially outfitted ship brought about 70 camels to Texas and then on to New Mexico, Arizona, and California. In Texas, the camel's home was a specially built set of buildings at Camp Verde.

Many astonishing surprises came about during these experimental years. Although water was not a problem for these desert animals, they could go for days without water. The dietary habits were something not expected! Camels loved cactus, mesquite trees, and other roughage, which horses and mules could not stomach. Camels have four stomachs and razor sharp teeth. During one of the Indian encounters with odds against Beale's troops of ten to one, the camels saved the day! They could swim! In addition, they could gallop at 40 miles per hour up to 75 miles distance, something that horses could not do. Lt. Beale led a charge through the Indian forces with 20 camels, did not lose a man or camel, and crossed the Colorado River to safety!

Photographs depicted in the book show that in 2003, camels were still roaming at large in Texas and Bullet Bob Smith a railroad historian spotted a herd. A photograph shows them. Many other historical pictures feature camels and key figures involved in the bringing of camels to the West.

Historically, Forrest Bryant Johnson has done a great service for those who want to know more about the Mohave Desert. He has brought to life a history of the past by using the camel to tell the story. Conflicts with Indians, Mormons, and civil war battles are mere sideshows when it comes to the main feature of the camel!

Of particular interest to Kingman residents is the naming Beale Street and Stockton Hill Road, as these people were very instrumental in establishing the trail to California known as the Mother Road (Route 66). Lt. Beale also named his second son, Truxtun! This is a four star book which centers on the historic town of Kingman, Arizona!

The Power of Reputation
Chris Komisarjevsky
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814417973, $22.00,

We all have an asset or liability, which is reputation. There are both good and bad reputations. When entering business, education, or some other endeavor how others perceive us is extremely important. Failure or success in our chosen fields is a measure not only how we do the job, but also how we relate to those we serve.

Chris Komisarjevsky in "The Power of Reputation: Strengthen the Asset that will Make or Break Your Career" stresses that it is very important to relate to others in a positive way. This is a book, which is for any field, not just professionals. Many times, there are mechanics that seem to always have so many customers that an appointment is necessary to get even the simplest repair. There is a reason for this! The shop or mechanic has a good reputation. They do what they promise by being fair in pricing and diagnosis. Then there is the other side where no matter who the customer, it is a surprise for charge or the work performance. This is earning a bad reputation.

In simple terms, the relationship between reputation and being successful in customer service or business is how others see you. Many techniques employed in this book are not new. Leaders of industry, government, and educators words show how reputation is a powerful tool.

Komisarjevsky breaks down three sections that he feels are determinative in building reputation. Character, Communication and Trust are these tools. Each section is broken into chapters with methodology, which is easy to follow.

The author has a stellar reputation as a public relations professional with over 35 years in the field. He retired in 2005 as worldwide chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries. He has written other books and articles relating to Public Relations. In addition, he is Professor and Chair in Public Relations at Boston University.

Some examples used are not new. However, to emphasize how perception of coworkers is very important, Chris tells of the MBA graduate who swept the floor of a factory on his first day at work. Everyone needs to start at the bottom and work his or her way up to gain the respect of fellow employees. No job is too menial! Being able to do the work expected of others strengthens the bonds so they will follow orders amicably. Building character in this manner gains respect, this all builds upon reputation.

Listening attentively and showing that understanding other points of view is a highlight of the communication section. Speaking or talking according to Chris should only be after listening. Some of the best communicators are the best listeners. Putting an action plan into motion, which will have broad effect, should only happen after careful consideration. Being able to explain how a plan is going forward also entails communicating the reasoning behind it.

"The Power of Reputation" is not a textbook, though it could be! It is a guide to being effective in whatever business or field there is. This is highly recommended for a better career and is a five star book for everyone!

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

The Drop
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company
c/o The Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316069410, $27.99,

I enjoy reading Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch novels. I also liked some of his other main characters, and I know he still has them on the backburner for a future novel, if he chooses. It gets even more interesting with Connelly when he interweaves characters together in one book to make the story interesting and a fresher point of view. I am trying to read Connelly's earlier novels to rediscover the character and get better reads in my spare time. Michael Connelly is one of the better crime detective, lawyer, or journalist type stories with making it so easy to get into his books turning pages.

Harry Bosch is close to retirement, but the LAPD places him into the DROP. This acronym meaning Deferred Retirement Option Plan. He had asked for five more years of working but they gave him four years from that request. Bosch wants cases more aggressively than ever and one morning he ends up with two. The first one is a old cold case of twenty-six years ago being a 1989 rape murder with the DNA matching a twenty-nine year old convicted rapist of today. That scenario means the killer was eight years old at the time of the crime. The red flag goes up upon this discovery. The other case involves a jumping suicide from a 7th floor balcony in the Chateau Marmont hotel. The first case Bosch started working on, and he learned the second case took high political priority. Bosch's chief made that perfectly clear on letting his subordinates pester Harry via cell-phone. It involves a son of an old nemesis of Bosch's Councilman Irvin Irving. The Councilman insists Harry Bosch takes the case. Bosch reluctantly accepts, but knows this is going to be a political fight with him and the hierarchy of LAPD.

Bosch started working on the both cases to see where they took him. He discovered that a political conspiracy was going to make his investigation of the Councilman's son more difficult to what ever answer he was going to learn based on the evidence. On the other case found out that a sadistic killer has been roaming the streets for more than two decades and still operating. No matter how things were going to go on these two cases his efforts of discovery were going him between the enemy of his past and the political machinery of the LAPD. The other case would bring up revolting events that destroyed people's lives and torment for one of its victims, that wanted justice for himself. Bosch had to bring the truth up front and personal no matter who got upset. He wanted more satisfaction on its eventual completed outcome.

Michael Connelly is the author of twenty-four novels including the Lincoln Lawyer, who is Mickey Haller, and the detective series with Harry Bosch. He has another series with an interesting main character, who is a crime journalist named Jack McEvoy. The other three novels are stand alones with his other infrequent main characters. One non-fiction book entitled Crime Beat which is a collective journalism from the Sun-Sentinel and Los Angeles Times. It seems that several of his novels made the New York Bestselling list were The Fifth Witness, The Reversal, The Scarecrow, The Brass Verdict and The Lincoln Lawyer. I await his next novel which might be with the Mickey Haller as he flip-flops between these two main characters. He has a Harry Bosch novel, The Black Box to come out later this year. (2012)

The Hunter
John Lescroart
c/o The Penquin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525952565, $26.95,

I smiled when I think back how I first got to read John Lescroart. I had finished a book, and I noticed my wife's copy of his earlier book. She had finished his book, and began looking for my book to read. I decided to try him, and I now pick up his copies, when I see his latest book in a book store or at a library fund-raiser. So I have one more author to enjoy legal fiction, investigating and crime novels. I think I gained on picking up his book more, than I ever lost.

Wyatt Hunt is an investigator in his own firm in San Francisco and he was raised by loving adoptive parents. He never gave any to any interest or concern on who his birth parents were, until he received an alarming text one day. The text read simply, "How did your mother die?" Hunt learns for the first time, that his mother was murdered. The skeletons in the family closet have now become reopened.

Hunt agonizes while his life has turned an about face on a case he never would have thought existed. The door was opened by some unknown texter who seemed to know details Wyatt had not known until that certain day. The case lay dormant and unsolved for over forty-two years. His familys's dark past were submerged in the office files of Child Protective Services who suspected, but couldn't prove that Hunt was neglected. He also found out his father was tried twice for his mother's murder, and he was let go on a hung jury. Wyatt investigates some of the people in his mother's past, and the circumstances that surround it. His mother's drug-addicted friend is untraceable for some possible information. His father has left the area, and he is hiding. So there is a cat-and-mouse game, where Hunt is trying to find out information. He gets more text telling him other questions and details in brief form to keep him on the hunt. Wyatt Hunt is on a dangerous pursuit not knowing the killer is only willing to keep this secret to the grave. It seems the barriers are being put in place. There is no way the killer is willing to be identified, let alone to be brought to justice. The more Hunt learns some tidbits of the truth, he learns the investigation is becoming more dangerous.

John Lescroart is the author of twenty-three legal fiction novels, and I eagerly await his next one probably in the fall. His novels have skewed away from Dismiss Hardy as he has gotten older to allow Wyatt Hunt and his team to work on cases with a younger persistent flair, but on the other hand an interesting close togetherness.

Daniel Allen

Deacon's Bookshelf

Thoreau In His Own Time
Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, editor
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road
Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609380878, $27.50,

Best I can recollect, it was Mark Twain who argued that the surest way to earn fame as a liar is to always tell the truth. I have no idea who first observed that when the big fish dies all little fish flock to eat him, but it is perhaps the simplest lesson a reader learns from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Of those two grim ironies, there may be no better illustration than the life and career of Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 - May 6, 1862).

Having spent the bulk of the few years allotted him in pursuit of Truth and Beauty at the feet of Nature and Nature's God, Thoreau was almost unknown outside his hometown of Concord, Mass. He made a living as a house painter, gardener, and surveyor while he wrote poetry. His walks in the woods inspired contemplative essays on natural history, conservation, spirituality, Transcendentalism, citizenship, nonviolence, the abolition of slavery, and other, potentially controversial subjects. He was formidable in debate and highly regarded as a scholar. He produced what some modern readers deem one of the two-or-three best books ever created by an American hand. Yet critics and publishers largely ignored him while he lived. The gist of it is that Thoreau, in life, never sold more than a few copies of anything he wrote.

The curtain of obscurity that hid Thoreau from the book-buying public began to part when the author died in 1862. The eulogy spoken by Ralph Waldo Emerson at Thoreau's funeral includes a few paragraphs that might have been nothing more than a club-footed attempt to add "balance" to what Emerson may have feared his intellectual friends would otherwise disparage as hagiography. Those few errant paragraphs might also have been the product of vicious, academic spite. Stranger things have happened. Be that as it may, Emerson's swerve led him to run completely off the track. He accused "that terrible Thoreau" of "a dangerous frankness" that sparked dislike in many who knew Thoreau personally. "His virtues ran to extremes," quoth Emerson, while he tarried to itemize the extremes. In short, Ralph Waldo Emerson left many listeners with the impression that Henry David Thoreau was a prig, a crank, a social cripple and a misanthropic hermit.

So the great Transcendentalist tore a rent in Thoreau's reputation through which other assailants quickly leapt. The fact that most of Thoreau's postmortem detractors (Robert Louis Stevenson among them) had never met the author or even bothered to read his books troubled them not at all. They piled on, ripping, kicking, gouging at Thoreau's works, his ideas and ideals, his morals, his lifestyle, his rhetorical skill and whatnot until -- by and by -- a strange thing happened: The number, the nature, the intensity of the attacks on Thoreau called public attention to his name, his ideas, and his works. People who had never heard of Thoreau while he lived began to buy and read his books and discover an interest in his ideas. As the number of Thoreau's fans came to rival the number of his critics, the color of the cloud around the dead author's reputation changed from forbidding, Stygian black to a benign, roseate gray.

Things changed again for Thoreau in the closing decades of the 20th century. Multitudinous failures of American education combined with other factors and produced a society in which more and more people read fewer and fewer books while a transformation that History may one day dub "The Politicization of Everything" proceeds apace. At the Left end of the spectrum, a lot of illiterate "liberals" love Thoreau because somebody told them he was the father of environmentalism and at the same time a lot of today's illiterate "liberals" hate Thoreau because somebody told them he favored small government. Over on the Right, illiterate "conservatives" love Thoreau because somebody told them he was a tax protester and at the same time a lot of illiterate "conservatives" hate Thoreau because they heard somebody say he was a tree hugger.

Observing turmoil around the dead author and his works in 2004, novelist John Updike described it nicely: "A century and a half after its publication, Walden has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible."

Considering all the above, I begin to believe the story that William Faulkner was once found raving, slobbering drunk and naked, in a tree, clutching a loaded shotgun. Readers ask why would I believe a thing like that? My answer is that it just makes sense.

Away, way off in the hazy distance, I see the ghosts of Twain and Hemingway and Faulkner and Updike and other noted scribblers taking their ease on clouds of glory. They swill quarts of Dago Red and wing dead soldiers at the horde of morons on Earth, far below, who stalk and rape and rob and kill each other in the name of this-or-that.

I know: Thoreau was a lifelong teetotalist. But I figure he might have become a drunk if he'd lived a few more years, booze seeming the last refuge of all sentient writers. After Thoreau died, a few weeks in the company of tosspots like Bill Shakespeare probably rectified his (I can't help it!) teetotalitudinarianism.

For the few Americans who still read, there is good news lately. Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, editor and author of numerous books about Thoreau, has given us yet another. This latest, titled Thoreau in His Own Time, aims to clear away some of the murk that still dulls Thoreau's name and reputation.

Between the covers, Petrulionis offers a compilation of material written about Thoreau by friends, relatives, neighbors, peers and associates who actually knew the author while he lived. I particularly enjoyed accounts from those who, like Joseph Hosmer, Jr., accompanied Thoreau on wilderness hikes. College classmates such as John Weiss also wrote thoughtfully and well. Editor Petrulionis arranged the stuff in chronological order, which (in this sort of an effort) seems to me the best way possible. Petrulionis also wrote a useful Introduction to the material, wherein (having myself read Master of Ballantrae years ago) I much admired her spiffy disassembly of Robert Louis Stevenson. The work includes a formidable Bibliography, an accurate Index, and enough footnotes to satisfy any reader who likes being able to check the veracity of what (s)he reads.

Whether editor Petrulionis's new book will correct any misperceptions of Thoreau's life, his ideas and his works is anybody's guess. Of course it didn't change my good opinion of Thoreau, but it filled several gaps in my small store of knowledge about him and his circumstances. The only flaw I could find in the book (if it is a flaw) is that I feel it should have included Ralph Waldo Emerson's funeral oration -- maybe in an appendix -- as a point of reference for readers. But that's a lack that's easily satisfied because Emerson's eulogy of Thoreau is posted at several sites on the Internet.

Solomon sez: "Thoreau in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn From Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates" is a warm, easy, informative read that I'll gladly recommend to anybody. Get it from the University of Iowa Press, from your local bookstore, or from the usual suspects online. Four stars for a good time with a good book and a "Thank you!" for Ms. Petrulionis.

The People of the Abyss
Jack London
Hesperus Press
28 Mortimer Street
London, UK W1W 7RD
9781843914501, $19.95,

When somebody says "muckraker," I recall names such as Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell, Izzy Stone and a few others. I never thought of Jack London in that context because books I associated with his name (White Fang, et al.) were works of adventure fiction. I was aware of London's socialist-labor sympathies having read a few of his short stories: romances such as South of the Slot come to mind. But I never knew Jack London for a muckraker.

Now I've read The People of the Abyss (London: Hesperus Press Limited; 2009), I'm willing to allow that Jack London was a muckraker. Still, I note that London's approach to muckraking was different than some. Where Ida Tarbell (for example) did years of research, gathered mountains of documented evidence and used something like 800 pages to expose the foetid monstrosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jack London did only a few weeks of leg work, composed just one airtight analogy and used only 232 pages to expose the foetid monstrosity of the British Empire and of civilization as we know it.

The People of the Abyss is Jack London's eyewitness account of what he saw when, in the summer of 1902, he went to England disguised as a merchant seaman on the skids. Arriving in England, the author dived headlong into the reeking labor ghetto at the notorious East End of London.

Walking the same mean streets that Jack the Ripper had stalked just 12 years earlier, the American novelist spent several months living the life of London's poor. He wore the clothes. He ate the swill. He slept out in the weather. He visited lodgings in which families of six, eight, or more dwelt in single, 7-by-8-foot rooms with no heat or water. He stayed in Dickensian workhouses. He visited hospitals that made people sick and asylums that drove people crazy. He worked for pennies a day while he watched multitudes of people slog through filth, disease and starvation to achieve misery, despair and death.

In this writer's ken, Jack London never wrote a book that didn't contain a purple passage or two. No surprise, then: The People of the Abyss contains a few. But if London was a passionate writer, he was also a damned good one. He understood that rhetoric won't stand without facts to support it. He also understood that a long recitation of bald facts will alienate most readers. Accordingly, London's Abyss uses few statistics and those few statistics are shrewdly chosen. The following paragraph (p. 178) is about as thick as the narrative gets:

"The figures are appalling: 1.8 million people in London live on the poverty line and below it, and one million live with one week's wages between them and pauperism. In all England and Wales, eighteen percent of the whole population are driven to the parish for relief, and in London, according to the statistics of the London County Council, twenty-one percent of the whole population are driven to the parish for relief. Between being driven to the parish for relief and being an out-and-out pauper there is a great difference, yet London supports 123,000 paupers, quite a city of folk in themselves. One in every four in London dies on public charity, while 939 out of every 1,000 in the United Kingdom die in poverty; 8 million simply struggle on the ragged edge of starvation, and 20 million more are not comfortable in the simple and clean sense of the word."

The bulk of London's narration describes with horrid clarity what it meant to be "driven to the parish for relief" and to be "not comfortable in the simple and clean sense of the word." Here it should suffice to say that in America today, cattle and hogs are typically more "comfortable" than poor Britons of 1902.

For all it tells a depressing story, The People of the Abyss is an almighty good book that offers today's American reader plenty to think about. Tales of parents who killed themselves after murdering children for whom they could not provide ring all too familiar. Even more chilling is the realization that we today are afflicted with moronic leaders who want to do away with "entitlements" such as Social Security and Medicare and Food Stamps so we can enjoy the good old days that (they tell us) prevailed before such programs existed.

Jack London was a great writer who never wrote better than he reads in this swaggering reprint from Hesperus Press. The People of the Abyss will curl your hair, stiffen your spine, and stand you right up on your hind legs. Read it. Get mad. Raise Hell!

Deacon Solomon

Don Martin's Bookshelf

Tollesbury Time Forever
Stuart Ayris
Amazon Digital Services
B006TJDJKE $3.99 (e-book)

Let's say you go to the local pub one night to do some drinking. And you do drink, and you get drunk. As you do, you ponder your life. It isn't working out like you want. So you decide to kill yourself. Which you try to do. The next morning you wake up in the drunk tank at the local constabulary. The cops give you a lecture, and say you are no longer welcome in town. And they release you. To a town which is 170 years in the past. The old buildings, like the church, are still there. But your house isn't. It's a pasture where horses graze. Are you hallucinating? Are you mentally ill? This is the story author Stuart Ayris tells.

The story is set in the small town of Tollesbury, England. Simon Anthony is a man who seems to have no set purpose to his life. He is a drinker, though. And after many hours at the pub one night he decides to kill himself. He tries to drown in the salt marsh near town. But the police rescue him. The next day they release him, to the Tollesbury of 1836.

Parts of the town, like the town square, are familiar. But much of the town is missing. What is going on? Simon discovers his money is not good at the local tavern, because they don't recognize it. But a kindly lady gives him a few pounds, with 2006 dates on them. Things are all mixed up. People mock and ridicule him as the town drunk. He sleeps in the graveyard, which is quiet at night. Simon had worked as a mental health nurse. He, of all people, should know if he was crazy.

Then Simon discovers a strange old man, Zachariah. At the exact site he had tried to kill himself. They become friends. And the old man starts to describe the secrets of life. There are not many. Friendship, love, and comfort. Money isn't one of them. Zachariah takes Simon in, and he can stay at Zachariah's shack, but Simon is not sure what to make of him. Then Simon meets Penny Shoraton. The most beautiful woman he has ever met. She serves as his guide to his new, previous life. And he also meets Weepy and Nardy. And The Walrus. Are they real?

Simon is treated to a ethereal stage play. Nine children, each reciting some lines, much of it poetry. When each finishes they reveal a letter. And those letters spell out a word, a word which describes how you should live your life.

But Simon commits a crime. He kills a child. He didn't really do it, but he is suspected of it. He is hung without a trial. As the noose tightens around his neck he passes out. The next day he wakes up in a modern psychiatric hospital.

Simon is mentally ill. He is a schizophrenic, and has been hallucinating. Nothing is real. At least for now. Tollesbury Time Forever is a carefully crafted look at a man descending into mental illness, and his recovery from it. Author Ayris handles this with a lot of sensitivity. In many books about the mentally ill they are portrayed as crazies, or kooks, or deranged. Not in this book. Simon is just a man with a problem. But Simon is going to meet his friends from the past. Penny, Weepy, Nardy, and others. They are, of course, his doctors and nurses. And he had been in the hospital all along. The hanging was a suicide attempt.

The book splits nicely into two pieces. The first describes Simon's experiences in a town 140 years before he was born. It's all imagined, but very real. The second describes how he comes to realize he does have a mental illness, and how he struggles to deal with that. As he starts to recover he has to build a new life, one based on the realities of today, not an imagined town in the past.

Others have said the text of Tollesbury Time Forever is almost lyrical, or poetic. And it is. If you look carefully you'll find some song lyrics. Beatles songs mostly, but some Dylan as well. And parts of the book are indeed written as poetry. Also included are some passages from well-known books. The book is written in traditional British English style. Which means it is fairly formal. There's no real problem there. You can easily read it. But it may seem a bit different if you haven't read much of it before.

It took Stuart Ayris three years to write Tollesbury Time Forever. About it he says there were ups and downs, but in the end it was a satisfying experience. Stuart is also the author of A Cleansing Of Souls. He lives in Tollesbury, England with his girlfriend Rebecca, who is an illustrator, and his dog. He has three sons, Matthew, Daniel, and James.

No Ordinary Woman
Valerie Byron
Austin Macauley
CGC-33-01 25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LQ
9781849631013, $15.80,

No Ordinary Woman is an apt title for this work. The book is the autobiography of the author Valerie Byron who is certainly an extraordinary woman. In her lifetime she has done things most of us can only dream about. In her early twenties she was introduced to movie and TV stars, some of whom became friends, and others romantic partners.

Growing up in England after World War II, life was idyllic although she was sent away at age seven to a very strict boarding school in Brighton. After her father abandoned the family, her mother moved the two of them to the United States. At first they lived with relatives in New York, but then moved to Beverly Hills. After battling the angst of dealing with snobbish Beverly Hills students, Valerie had plastic surgery to reconstruct her nose at the age of fifteen, turning her into a beauty. She then took an after-school job at the Fox Beverly movie theater in Beverly Hills as an usherette where she occasionally was asked to wear her prom dress for movie premiers. After briefly meeting Groucho Marx and Ricky Nelson, she received a taste of what movie stars were all about.

The next year, she and her mother moved back to Manchester, England and briefly lived with her uncle. She fell in love (she thought) with a local boy whose 14 year old sister was Elaine Bookbinder (Elkie Brooks, who would become a famous British singer) and whose brother was Tony Mansfield (of Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, a reasonably successful British band).

Valerie was trained as a stenographer and her first job was with a law firm. Eventually, she landed her dream job at Granada TV (now ITV) in Manchester. At the time they produced the most popular TV shows in Britain, including Coronation Street. Being an attractive young lady, she began to date some of the actors, producers and directors. During the course of her five years with Granada, she met Woody Allen, Sonny and Cher, Donald Sutherland, Oliver Reed and the new and unknown musical groups, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Valerie's mother moved back to California in 1969. Valerie was hesitant to return to America, but complied with her mother's wishes and left the job she loved at Granada. Again they settled in the Los Angeles area and she took a job as a secretary at Universal Studios in the Business Affairs department. There she met Steven Spielberg, who had an office next to hers - and fended off attentions from actor George Hamilton.

Three months after her arrival in America, she was introduced to her future husband, Bill Fee, a court reporter and they were married in December 1969. Her boss at Universal Studios was laid off, and Valerie had to find another job as soon as she returned from her honeymoon. She immediately found a plum job as secretary to a top talent agent at Creative Management Associates who represented such stars as Raquel Welch, Natalie Wood, George C. Scott and Warren Beatty.

She had her first child in 1972 and had to regretfully leave CMA to take maternity leave. Three months later she accepted a job with movie producer Peter Bart and millionaire Max Palevsky, who produced Islands in the Stream and Starting Over. Peter was the prestigious producer of Rosemary's Baby and The Godfather, and now is head of Daily Variety. Valerie assisted him by summarizing scripts and suggesting actors for future projects.

Then her life started to fall apart. She discovered her husband was having an affair, after only three years of marriage. They reconciled and he promised to try again. A few years later Valerie had a second child, a son, in November 1976. She left the entertainment business and worked closer to home, although her young son started acting as soon as he could walk.

Her husband also turned to the theater, and acted in a local theater group. It seemed as if she was not going to escape the show business life after all. And she didn't. She became her young son's manager and attempted to get work for him. Unfortunately she landed in trouble by selling "breakdowns" which are essentially casting calls that are listed by producers, stating which movie or television roles are available. One day the sheriff showed up and she was charged with copyright infringement and had to serve community service.

In 2000, after thirty years of marriage, Valerie discovered that her husband was having another affair so they sold their home and separated. She also discovered that her 21 year old son was gay, which was a huge shock.

After she and her husband separated, she spent seven years alone in her new home, deciding that love and relationships were not for her. But after an impulsive "tummy tuck" operation, she noticed the glances of men, and her libido was revived. At 65 years of age, it was a huge risk to take but she started dating again and felt the same thrills she had as a girl in her twenties.

Valerie joined a writers' website in 2010 and uploaded her mother's memoirs and became hooked on writing. She entered writing contests and was surprised to find herself winning a great deal of money. She decided to write her memoirs, which were later picked up by a publisher. She then went on to write an anthology of short stories and a children's book.

No Ordinary Woman is interesting because it is so honest. Author Byron not only points out the flaws she finds in others, she points out the flaws in herself. This is refreshing to see. She discusses her sexuality only to a point - there is nothing graphic. All her life she searched for the right man, but was never able to find him...until she reached the age of 67. At that time she was pursued by a man twenty-five years her junior whom she had met on a dating site. After a year of emails, they met and fell in love. An inventor, he turned out to be somewhat of a character. She had finally found true love, and the book ends there.

The book is also interesting because it contains photos of many of the people mentioned. From her early boyfriends to John, her current partner, many of them are in the book. This helps to put a face to a name, and is a welcome addition. The book is also richly detailed. Rather than just say she took a five-day sail on the Queen Mary to come to the US she describes what life aboard a cruise ship was like for a young girl. I highly recommend this book. If you are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the early television and film industry, and the stars that came along with it, this is one you can't miss.

Valerie Byron is the author of several books, among them The Man Who Lost His Genius, The Sponge, The Ghost Club, and Lola and The Lover. She has recently published a children's book, Surprisingly Short Stories, which she has donated to a Los Angeles area school for low income children. Ms. Byron lives in Torrance, California.

Giving Up The Ghost
Marilyn Levinson
Unical Press
2550 SW 204th Ave., Aloha, OR 97006
978601741349, $6.99 (e-book),

What would you do if you moved to a new town, took a new job, moved into old cottage, and discovered it was haunted? And what would you do if the ghost asked you to find out who his killer was? And what would you do if the ghost was totally irresistible? That's the story Marilyn Levinson tells in Giving Up The Ghost.

The story revolves around Gabby Meyerson. Recovering from a nasty divorce, Gabby decides to start a new life in the small town of Chrissom Harbor. She takes a job as a fill-in English teacher, replacing another teacher who is having some surgery. She rents a cottage on the beach, and settles in.

From the beginning Gabby senses there is something not right with the cottage. She has the spooky feeling she is being watched. Things move on their own. There are strange cold drafts with no apparent source. And, sometimes she hears voices.

The place is haunted. Before long the ghost introduces himself. He is Cameron Leeds. A dashingly handsome ladies man, he was also in business. And being in business he made some enemies. There were more than a few people who wouldn't mind seeing him dead. He just doesn't know who did it. Cameron's death was ruled an accident by police. He was drunk and fell off the sea-side cliffs. Cameron tells Gabby that he was actually killed in the cottage, and then his body was thrown over the cliffs to make it look like an accident.

And Cameron has a request. The ghost can't leave the room he was killed in. He asks Gabby if she would do some investigating, and find out who the killer was. At first she is reluctant to do this. But she gets caught up in the small-town gossip. In a small town, everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows everyone's secrets. Gabby believes finding the killer shouldn't be that hard to do. And she is learning things about her new town. Lots of things. Gabby becomes involved in the lives, deaths, and romances of pretty much everyone in town.

Gabby learns that while Cameron could be a charming man, he was also a shrewd businessman. And as a businessman he sometimes took advantage of people for financial gain. And not everything he did was legal. Gabby discovers that Cameron had quite a few enemies in town. And the killer could be any one of them. Her question now was, which one?

Gabby also learns that Chrissom Harbor is a town with many secrets. Secrets everyone knows about. It's also a town which enforces its own justice. A rapist would be very nearly beaten to death. Would it really be unusual that somebody would kill the local swindler? Gabby now has lots of suspects. By day she is an ordinary schoolteacher, dealing with the usual classroom problems. By night she is an amateur detective, trying to solve a murder.

Over time Gabby becomes obsessed with finding the murderer. And she has quite a number of prime suspects. Then Cameron tells her he doesn't think he was killed because of a business deal gone bad. He had half a million in cash in the cottage. And it was missing. It looked liked a robbery gone bad. So now Gabby has a whole new list of suspects. And Cameron reveals he had "slept around" with the wives of local men. Was it a cuckolded husband who killed him?

And then, Cameron drops the bombshell. He said the killer had certainly heard she had been snooping around town, asking about the murder. In that case he would likely kill Gabby. So she was no longer just an armchair sleuth. She was probably a target. She starts to get death threats. Telling her to back off the case, and ask no more questions.

But Gabby is a strong woman, and somewhat stubborn, and isn't about to back away until she finds out who killed her ghost. And to find the killer Gabby will have to explore the deepest secrets of Chrissom Harbor. But everything seems to be interrelated. It's all connected together. There is no way to chisel out any one person as a suspect.

It is upon this basis that author Levinson builds her story of a woman who is just not going to give up. Although the book is billed as a "ghost story" it really isn't much of one. There is a ghost in it. But it isn't a scary one, and actually it is really friendly. It's not really a horror novel either. Except for the horror Gabby feels as she learns someone is out to kill her. And, although there is some well-written romance in the book, I wouldn't call it a romance novel. It's really just a solid mystery, with a good deal of suspense thrown in.

As a mystery, Giving Up The Ghost is well worth the time. The plot and character development is solid, and the book is correctly paced. And, unlike many mysteries it doesn't wander. The author knows exactly where she wants to take you. The small town setting is compelling, and adds a sense of intimacy to the plot. You'll get to know Gabby quite well, and see why she is determined to find the killer of a man she never met. Except as a ghost. Highly recommended.

Marilyn Levinson is the author of the adult mysteries Murder In The Air and A Murderer Among Us. She also writes fiction for children and young adults, including Rufus and Magic Run Amok and No Boys Allowed.

Don Martin

Gary's Bookshelf

11th Hour
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316097499, $27.99

"11th Hour" is another fast paced thriller in The Women's Murder Club series. This time Lindsay Boxer is pregnant and she has two different murder cases she is investigating. One is a bunch of severed heads on a movie star's property and the other is a series of killings that have one common thread. Patterson and Paetro once again have a very tightly written thriller that races along to its final conclusion with great characters, conflicts, and page turning suspense. "11th Hour" is a great addition to this series that gets better with each book.

Robert B. Parker's Lullaby
Ace Atkins
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399158932, $26.95,

Spenser is back in "Robert B. Parker's Lullaby" the first Spenser novel to not be written by Robert B. Parker. The trick Ace Atkins had to pull off is how near to Parker's style is this new one. It is very close in several ways. The characters of Spenser, Hawk, and Susan have for the most part the feel, as does the writing that is filled with the snappy witty dialogue that was a trademark of Parker and it moves along at a very brisk pace to the end. Where it is a bit different is that too many of the characters swear, to where it is so noticeable that it tends to detract from the story. I can not remember Parkers use of those kind of words to fill the story. Fans of Spenser will enjoy "Robert B. Parker's Lullaby" in spite of the bad language.

The Accident
Linwood Barclay
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553591767, $9.99,

"The Accident" is another solid tale of suspense by a master of the genre. Glen Garber cannot accept that his wife had a drinking problem and died in an accidental car crash. As he begins to piece things together his whole life begins to turn upside down. At the same time, people he thought he knew are anything but what they seemed. Barclay once again drives the story along with interesting characters and a fast paced thriller that has the readers rapidly turning pages. "The Accident " is a chilling tale of greed and how it can change a person's life.

Family Affair
Debbie Macomber
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022
9780061997129, $16.99

"Family Affair" is another great novel by Macomber that is a fast paced read with interesting characters and many different conflicts that are resolved by the end of the novel. Lacey Lancaster has a cat named Cleo who is the gem of her life. Lancaster has a neighbor named Jack Walker who is always arguing with a girl whom he wants to move in with him. He also has a cat named Dog. It is an interesting reason that brings them together and Lacey finds out that not everything is as it seems. "Family Affair" is a short wonderful tale that will please Macomber fans.

Lost and Found
Karen L. Syed
Echelon Press LLC
2721 Village Pine Terrace, Orlando, Fl 32833
9781590808566, $12.99,

Allison Ryder is having a terrible day and it does not seem to be getting any better. She is having problems with a neighbor and her work is not going too well either. Things just seem to be getting worse and that's just the beginning of the novel. Syed has written a fun filled story that has interesting characters and a nice even pace that concludes with a very satisfying ending. "Lost and Found" is good clean fun.

Imperfect Justice Prosecuting Casey Anthony
Jeff Ashton with Lisa Pulitzer
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street
New York, New York 10022
978006215323, $28.99,

There are lots of reasons this case was lost by the state of Florida and readers will be able to see many of them in "Imperfect Justice Prosecuting Casey Anthony." Now Jeff Ashton one of the state attorneys who prosecuted this case, reveals many of the things often suspected about this case that was a world wide event for over 3 years. Ashton who was the chief prosecutor of the Carla Larson murder detailed in "Evidence of Murder," had a winning record until he was brought into the Casey Anthony fiasco. Ashton is quick to point out that he was not the lead prosecutor for this case and he gives many insights about it and some of the problems the state of Florida had Some of the things that stand out are how the entire Anthony family lied to protect Casey, the many sides of Casey that were exposed, the request by the jury on day three of the trial and how it was so revealing to the final verdict. "Imperfect Justice Prosecuting Casey Anthony" shows why this case was a travesty of justice.

The Collaborator Rules
Sally Shields
Safflower Publishing Inc
9780974761718, $12.95,

I'm not a big fan of partnerships in writing because so many of the ones I've been in and that I've seen end up so negative. I have to say though if there is a formula to not have problems "The Collaborator Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Stay Friends With Your Co-Author " by Salley Shields is the best resource to guide the two writers to a happy working relationship. Shields easily points out 101 surefire ways to avoid major problems. The book is easy to follow and has a lot of simple things that people never think to do. Class 101 Collaborator Rules is now in session.

The Journey Less Traveled
Loretta Faith Harris
Children's Heart Publishing
Post Office Box 691223
Orlando, Fl 32869-1223
9780978668150, $16.99

"The Journey Less Traveled: Choose to Turn Your Tragedy Into Triumph" is the remarkable account by the author after her major car accident and how she has turned her life around from that incident. She begins the book the day of the crash that took the life of one of her passengers. She reveals that doctors gave her very little chance to live through it with all the damage that had been done to her body. It was a very slow process through many surgeries and rehab therapy. There are several things she shows that helped her along the way. Her belief in God, her prayers, the love and support of her family proved to her that you can choose to make your life happy or bitter. "The Journey Less Traveled: Choose to Turn Your Tragedy into Triumph" is an inspirational story that shows that miracles do happen and that people can control many of the things that happen to them.

Is She Naturally Thin, or Disciplined?
Sally Shields
Blooming Twig Books
P.O. Box 4668 #66675
New York, NY 10163-4668
9781933918716, $14.95,

Sally Shields is back with a new slant to the subject of how women stay so thin. "Is She Naturally Thin, or Disciplined? Insider Secrets of the Sexy and Slim" shows the techniques that women use to stay thin. Shields divided the book into ages starting with women in their twenties to ones in their sixties. There are many similar things all have in common. Eating certain foods in moderation, regular exercise programs, dealing with stress better, more awareness of what is in food are just some of the things they talk about. "Is She Naturally Thin, or Disciplined? Insider Secrets of the Sexy and Slim" is an interesting look at how women of different ages and professions stay thin and physically fit this is a great resource for anyone to stay healthy.

The Lost Tail of the Hare or How the Bunny Lost His Tail
Dennis Vebert
Privately Published

"The Lost Tail of the Hare Or How the Bunny Lost His Tail" is a fun little story about how a rabbit lost a portion of his tail while trying to get away from a big bad wolf. The characters are fun while the writing is very easy to follow with a very happy ending. Vebert is a great story teller who is comfortable writing children's stories or adult novels and the artwork by the author showcases another aspect of his talent. "The Lost Tail of the Hare Or How the Bunny Lost His Tail" is a kid's book that is excellent reading for all ages.

My Daddy is a Marine: A History of the U. S. Marine Corps
Dennis Vebert
Privately Published
9781936592852, $9.95,

Told through the eyes of children "My Daddy is a Marine" takes readers from the creation of the Marine Corps to the present war on terrorism. Each story is of a conflict in which the Corps has participated. The author has an easy to follow style that makes it fun to read history. Though written for kids "My Daddy is a Marine" is for anyone who wants to learn more about the Marine Corps.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

Murder Season
Robert Ellis
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Marti's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NYC 10010
9780312366179, $25.99,

It is just the beginning of spring in Los Angeles, but the heat has come in early this year, with temps reaching 117 degrees, and with it the murder season. Homicide detective Lena Gamble is called in the middle of the night to the scene of a shooting at a celebrity hangout, where the owner of the club and a patron are found dead. The patron is 25-year-old Jacob Gant, acquitted just days before in a very high-profile and volatile case involving the rape and killing of a 16-year-old girl. Think George Zimmerman in Florida, a recent case analogous only in its bare facts: a young and seemingly innocent person killed by an older one for no apparent reason.

Another notorious case is brought up here as well: OJ's murder trial, where someone thought by the public to be guilty is freed by an LA jury. As in that case, there is outrage as to the way the case has been handled, or mishandled, by the LAPD and its forensics lab. There is strong feeling that the girl's grief-stricken father is responsible, and much evidence to support that theory. The public of course sees it as completely justifiable. Under the spotlight from the public and the media, Lena and others believe she is the designated scapegoat for the police department.

There are twists and turns galore, with many a red herring. The reader will be in doubt as to who did what, as are the police, until the very end. Not all of the plot was credible to this reader, nor were some of the scenes depicting one male character after another nearly breaking down with tears and near collapse one minute and filled with homicidal rage the next. But as the author says, "humanity can be shed as easily as clothing. Everything you know about someone can change in the blink of an eye."

Fair enough. -- An interesting and suspenseful read, the book is recommended.

The Informant
Thomas Perry
c/o Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02166
9780547737430, $14.95,

As in his earlier novels [and I'm thinking particularly of the wonderful Jane Whitefield series], the devil is in the details, and this author excels in conveying the meticulously planned and executed steps taken by his protagonist, so that credibility is never an issue. In this standalone - actually, a follow-up to Mr. Perry's very first novel, The Butcher's Boy [for which he won an Edgar award] - that eponymous character returns, twenty years older. Although he goes by any number of other names, that soubriquet is the name by which he is known, both to the authorities and to the mafia members who variously employed him, betrayed him, and then became his victims. The Butcher's Boy kills without compunction. It is, after all, what he does best, taught since childhood, simply as a job, or a way to stay alive, or to seek revenge for the aforementioned betrayal. Rarely is it personal. Although somewhat more so of late.

Well-trained from the age of 10 by an actual butcher, whose "side job" is in "the killing trade," beyond the necessary skills he is also taught "Everybody dies. It's just a question of timing, and whether the one who gets paid for it is you or a bunch of doctors. It might as well be you."

While working as a hit man, his philosophy was simple: He had "resisted the camaraderie that some of the capos who had hired him tried to foster. He had kept his distance, done his job, collected his pay, and left town before buyer's remorse set in. He made it clear that he was a free agent and that he was nobody's friend." He has been out of the US for over twenty years, now over 50 years old, and afraid he had gone soft. But his skills are not diminished. He leaves no witnesses. The ones who aren't dead never notice him entering or leaving a crime scene: "He was a master at being the one the eye passed over in a crowd." And the authorities - - with one notable exception - - haven't a clue. That exception is Elizabeth Waring, of the Organized Crime & Racketeering Division of the Department of Justice. She connects the dots and has no doubt that he has come out of retirement and is the one now murdering Mafiosi at an alarming rate, and sees in him, potentially, "the most promising informant in forty years." Of course, to fulfill that possibility she must get him to agree and, even more difficult, keep him alive, as "he wasn't worth anything dead." They embark on an ambivalent, and somewhat fluid, relationship, equal parts grudging respect and fear of the danger the other represents, somehow both earning sympathy. The author's trademark suspense as the end of the novel draws near had this reader literally holding her breath. I loved this book, and it is highly recommended.

The Most Dangerous Thing
Laura Lippman
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062122926, $14.99,

The new standalone novel from Laura Lippman was, to this reader, unlike anything this wonderful author had written to this point. [Among her more recent ones, "I'd Know You Anywhere" and "What the Dead Know" still stand out in my memory and resonate with me.] The present work is not really a mystery [although there is a death early on in the book] nor procedural, but instead a series of in-depth character studies which will be difficult to match.

The author takes her time recreating and juxtaposing scenes from the past with those of the present, from the time when "everything was perfect until the moment it wasn't," in the lives of five youngsters in their early teens, three brothers and two young girls. Ultimately each of these, along with their parents and siblings and extended families, will have their own chapters, describing events which took place in 1980, in their native Baltimore, with p.o.v. changes from one character to another and from those early years to the present time, when most of them have grown children of their own, all of it shaped by one pivotal 'incident' [insert your own euphemism] which changes all of their lives forever. The reality of the events of that night is different for each of them, children and parents alike. And ultimately it is about secrets kept, or not.

One of the three brothers, Gordon ("Go-Go") Halloran, nine years old in 1980 and always the most reckless of the three, although presently two years sober, leaves the bar at which he has just fallen off the wagon and does not make it home alive, crashing into a wall at about 100 mph. There is a question about whether it was a tragic accident, or something somehow worse.

I found this book [in which, btw, Tess Monaghan makes a cameo appearance] a departure for this author, and very thought-provoking. I suspect it too will stay in my memory for a long while. Parenthetically, I loved Ms. Lippman's description of one perpetually angry character who, when counting to ten, started at nine. But there are many memorable moments, and personalities, here.


All Yours
Claudia Pineiro, Translated by Miranda France
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London W11 2LW
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 W. 108th St., NY, NY 10025
9781904738800, $14.95,

Upon opening this slim novel, the reader immediately enters the world of Ines Pereyra, an Argentine woman who firmly believes that "All women are deceived by their husbands. It's like the menopause; it may come sooner or later, but nobody gets away scot-free." She was taught that at her mother's knee after her father left the marital bed, and home. [Her mother is quoted frequently.] After 17 years of marriage, she learns this first-hand when her suspicions turn out to be well-founded. After discovering incriminating love letters and other proof of his indiscretions, she follows him to a park in Buenos Aires one evening, only to witness him in a violent quarrel with a woman, the outcome of which involves him dumping the woman's body in a lake. At first she conspires to alibi her husband, Ernesto, which she believes may only serve to bring them closer, but the reader cannot help but feel this is a far-fetched plan.

An alternating story line revolves around Ines and Ernesto's teenage daughter, Laura ("Lali"), who has serious problems of her own arising out of yet another ill-advised sexual encounter, and unfortunately without parents in whom she can confide, being too wrapped up in their own crises as they are.

Written with a finely tuned sense of irony, this is an engaging, off-beat and somewhat different kind of tale, one which is recommended.

A Bitter Veil
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Allium Press
1530 Elgin Ave., Forest Park, IL 60130
9780983193814, $16.99,

In a departure from her popular Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis series, Libby Fischer Hellmann leaves Chicago with a fascinating and obviously well-researched novel set at the time of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970's. Her protagonist, Anna Schroder, an English major at the University of Chicago, also leaves that town, in January of 1977, after a passionate romance with Nouri Samedi, a handsome engineering student who quotes poetry to her and sweeps her off her feet. The reader knows literally from the opening pages that things will not end well.

Nouri is an only son whose parents are wealthy and well-connected. Anna longs for a loving family - her parents divorced when she was five, and her mother moved back to her native Paris; her German father, a scientist - with whom she hadn't had contact in a long time - is in America. When she and Nouri decide to marry despite their apparent cultural differences, they move to Tehran, where unrest and demonstrations against the Shah are beginning. Within a few short months, the military government resigns, the Shah is forced out, and Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard have taken over. They want nothing less than to purge Iran of all traces of the shah. The repercussions, for any opposed to the new rule of law, especially among those from America, the "Great Satan," are profound. Anna is told by an Iranian bookseller, who is forced to keep hidden away any counter-revolutionary poetry or books by such as e.e. cummings or William Shakespeare not already confiscated, "We have been victims for years. Invaders, the shah, now the revolution. It is all the same."

The background of that area of the world and the "complicated history of Islam" provided by the author is extremely interesting. Nouri, discussing the volatile situation with his childhood friend, says "yes, we opposed the shah. But our goal was a democratic government, not an Islamist republic. Don't you remember?" We are told that the people "long for Iran to create a parliamentary democracy. It would be a blessing for the people of Iran, the Middle East, the entire world. But Khomeini has made it clear that's not his priority." Things reach a fevered pitch, and Anna doesn't know who can be trusted.

Those looking for the mystery element usually found in this author's books will not be disappointed, for there is a murder and a surrounding mystery along the way. The book is completely absorbing, and is recommended.

Death Will Extend Your Vacation
Elizabeth Zelvin
Five Star
10 Water St., Ste. 310, Waterville, Maine 04901
9781432825775, $25.95,

The newest in this author's "Death Will . . . " series brings back the Three Musketeers, Bruce Kohler [recovering alcoholic], his best friend, computer nerd Jimmy, and Jimmy's girlfriend, Barbara, self-described codependent, this time embarking upon a summer holiday in the Hamptons in the fictional town of Deadhampton [nee Dedhampton]. On only their second day, they stumble upon the body of one of their housemates, apparently drowned, possibly the victim of foul play. The dead woman was, as are our protags, among those staying in a "clean and sober" group house, all of the occupants being members of one or more twelve-step programs for compulsives, whether it be AA, Al-Anon and the like or one of the lesser-known programs (at least to this reader) such as SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous) or SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous).

The police treat the woman's death as "suspicious," but Barbara, self-described as having "a disease of not minding my own business," is not content to leave it to the professionals, and does some amateur sleuthing of her own. And when another body turns up, things heat up. The second victim is a wealthy developer, and the hostility between the local farmers, the developers and the environmentalists make for a healthy suspect pool. Or is it more personal than that?

There are some lovely descriptions of the beauties of the Hamptons, e.g., "The cove nestled in the curve of the towering cliff between two headlands. The far end shimmered in a veil of haze. In the foreground, sea and virgin sand sparkled, every glint, grain, and droplet crisply delineated. Surf crashed intermittently on a broad border of flat, hard-packed beach the color of coffee cream. The lacy edge of the breakers formed a single rim with an unbroken line of high rollers behind it."

The summer, and the investigation, proceeds at a leisurely pace, with the novel beginning just before Memorial Day and going, as one might expect, through the Labor Day weekend, which makes the timing of the publication of the book perfect: Just the thing for an enjoyable beach read.

Misery Bay
Steve Hamilton
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312008527, $14.99,

The first page of the newest book by Steve Hamilton, which brings the welcome return of Alex McKnight, describes a scene wherein the body of a young man is found hanging from a tree branch at the edge of a bay in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. For those new to the series, McKnight is a former Detroit cop and current holder of a p.i. license, although he protests that he 'doesn't do that anymore': He owns and rents out cabins to 'the snowmobile people' in season.

Three months after that first-page event takes place, McKnight is approached by Roy Maven, Chief of Police in "the Soo" [Sault St. Marie], who asks for his help. This from a man whose relationship with McKnight could at best be described as 'fraught' - as the Chief says, 'just call it a persistent lack of liking each other." The dead boy's father had been Maven's partner on the police force, and Maven wants McKnight to investigate the circumstances that could have led to what appears to have been a suicide. Having suffered horrendous personal losses himself - his partner on the Detroit police force, the woman he loved - there is no way this particular man could refuse. In what is perhaps the unlikeliest of alliances, McKnight agrees.

The place where the body was found is the eponymous Misery Bay, a fitting enough name for the site itself and for what happened there, and a five-hour drive away from McKnight's home on Lake Superior, in a town called Paradise. McKnight once again periodically turns to his friend Leon Prudell, the once and perhaps future p.i., for his unerring ability to point him in the right direction. The investigation takes some unpredictable turns, as more lives are lost and more still endangered.

The writing is wonderful - no surprise here. The long, long winter of Paradise is once again made palpable by the author: "The sun went down. The wind picked up and started howling and I knew the wind chill would be something like thirty below. Another beautiful April night in Paradise. . . [where] springtime felt like a fairy tale." [And I loved that the author tips his hat to fellow mystery writers, both from NYC: Reed Coleman and Jim Fusilli, both police sergeants in this incarnation.]

As dark as the story line is, there is just enough humor injected into the writing and, as usual for this author, it is a sheer pleasure to read, and highly recommended. [It should perhaps be noted that the next book in the series, "Die a Stranger," will be published by Minotaur in July 2012.]

Robert Crais
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399158278, $26.95,

Those who have been waiting for their fix of Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels [and I count myself among them] need wait no more. "Taken," the fifteenth book in the series, brings their return, and introduces yet another protag cut from the same cloth: trustworthy, brilliant at what he does, and letting nothing stop him.

The opening paragraphs take the reader to a spot in the CA desert Jack Berman and Krista Morales, five months plus into their passionate relationship, are kidnapped in what one would think is that unlikeliest of settings. The story picks up six days later, when Elvis Cole, his reputation having preceded him after an LA Times Magazine story depicts him, tongue only slightly in cheek, as the World's Greatest Detective, is hired by Krista's mother following receipt of a ransom demand. We next come to a point several days after that scene, when Joe Pike enters the picture. The tale flashes back to pick up the story line from each of these starting points in turn. This device only serves to heighten the suspense, contrary to what might be expected

To the uninitiated, quoting Elvis Cole: "Pike, Joseph, no middle initial, learned the tracking arts as a boy who grew up at the edge of a logging town, and later refined those same arts when he hunted men first as a combat Marine, then later as an LAPD police officer and a private military contractor in Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. If I was good at hunting men, Pike was better. Pike had also been my partner in the agency since we bought it together, and my friend for even longer." And now we meet, for what I believe is the first time, Jon Stone: "Jon Stone was a professional military contractor - - a PMC, also known as a mercenary . . . though occasionally he still worked as a special teams operator for certain corporations and governments, namely the good ol' U.S. of A." Stone is a man who loved challenges, believing that they "made life interesting." And there is no dearth of challenges ahead of him in this tale. There is much more going on here than a simple case of kidnapping. We learn about the bajadores, predators who preyed upon other criminals, under whose control the lives of several of the players lie.

The first person p.o.v. is that of Pike, changing to third person according to the scenario unfolding. The book is very well-written, with just enough humor [usually within the Pike p.o.v.] to lighten the tension. Mr. Crais' many fans will not be disappointed, and "Taken" is sure to add to that number.


Ed Gorman
Severn House
555 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10022
9780727880253, $28.95,

Ed Gorman jumps right in on page 1 of his new novel by telling the reader that his protagonist in this series, Dev Conrad, is among "a large number of people at a political rally [who] are carrying guns and assault weapons." Dev is a political consultant, and he is checking out the opposition, Rusty Burkhart. The latter is described as a 63-year-old multimillionaire whose aim, Dev believes, tongue only slightly in cheek, is out to "prove once and for all that the president was a Muslim Manchurian Candidate."

Any resemblance between these characters and their real-life counterparts is, of course, completely intentional. The candidate's mantra is that he is one of the people, just like them - - except perhaps for the fact that he went to Yale and inherited ten million dollars when he turned 25. Dev, former army intelligence, is asked by Tom Ward to oversee the campaign of his son, Congressman Jeff Ward. Tom believes there is a spy hidden somewhere among the campaign workers. Almost immediately after being brought on board, serious problems arise when one of Ward's people is murdered in his headquarters' parking lot, and another goes missing.

The book is filled with terrific writing and personal political outlook: "For a few minutes I allowed myself to enjoy the afternoon. I watched hawks ride the air currents and smelled the smoky scent of the breeze and saw the surrounding hills melancholy with leaves that were beautiful in their dying. This was the season of Halloween and football Saturdays and long walks to watch the shadows stretch as dusk came early now. To hell with the Burkharts and Sylvias. If they had their way they'd strip-mine and cut down everything that made the landscape godly. They'd also start revising textbooks the way Texas and a few other states already had - - you know, the John Wayne mythic America. There was a time in my life when I occasionally voted for men and women of the other side. But that party and those people had no place in the opposition anymore." But the author also makes clear his point that "despite the bankers and the bought-and-paid-for Congress and the haters and the madmen . . . as yet we still had a country that we could rightly be proud of."

I suspect that this book might be more appreciated by the more liberal-leaning readers than others, but the writing is so delightfully humorous (despite its more barbed content) as to perhaps (and hopefully) charm others as well. And I hasten to add that despite the humor, some very serious issues are raised. This is a fast and very engaging read, with the action ratcheting up as the end nears as the politics takes a back seat and the mystery/whodunit aspect comes to the forefront. Whether or not you will enjoy this book may depend on your own political views, and I realize that my own may become apparent when I say that I loved it, and that it is recommended.

Parenthetically, and after noting that I have greatly enjoyed Mr. Gorman's past books, especially the terrific "Ticket to Ride," published in late 2009, I smiled to read that the author's website is

Liars, Cheaters & Thieves
L.J. Sellers
Spellbinder Books
1755 Lorane Hwy., Eugene, OR 97405
9780984008612, $13.99,

The title says it all, really, for there is a full complement of each in this carefully-plotted tale: liars, cheaters and thieves. As the book opens, in quick succession two fatal events occur in the space of three pages, within thirteen hours of each other, and only several yards apart. Oddly, there would seem to be nothing else to connect these two deaths, the first the murder of a man sitting behind the wheel of a parked car, the second an elderly woman who died of a heart attack upon discovering she'd been the victim of cyber fraud that had wiped out her savings. Detective Wade Jackson, senior investigator with the violent crimes unit of the Eugene, Oregon Police Department, returns in the fifth and newest entry in the series, and is handling the investigation. Then in short order another murder takes place. Both male victims had been friends since childhood, had both served in the military, and had died forty-eight hours apart.

All the people in Lt. Jackson's life who readers know from the earlier books in the series are present: investigative reporter Sophie Speranza; Jackson's 15-year-old daughter and her boyfriend; his recovering alcoholic ex-wife and her new boyfriend; Lara Evans, his colleague; and his girlfriend, Kera Kollmorgan, plus her daughter-in-law and baby grandchild. His relationships with the females in his life seem to be in a state of flux, not always in a good way, and his life is changing in that after selling the house he'd lived in for thirteen years, he is moving back into the home in which he grew up. A good mystery, action-packed, with an unexpected solution, populated with interesting characters - what more could one ask?


Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Silencing Sam
Julie Kramer
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439178003, $7.99,

Kramer has written a readable mystery novel. The mystery part is a little weak but the insider story about big media isn't. Her scathing satire about corporate news media makes the story. Even when you know her tales about the inner workings of the business of media is satirical, you feel that there is more truth her irony than the public face and the mythology of the news. The news media today is run by big business. There is no such thing as the liberal press. There is only broadcasting news that produces dollars. The ethics of the news media is money. Kramer's satire brings this out in a way everyone can understand because nearly everyone has had a boss whose only consideration is where to get the next dollar.

Riley Spartz is a Twin Cities TV reporter, who tries to work with the ethics and policies learned in journalism school. Noreen, her boss, and the corporate ownership of the TV station are only interested in the money they can make broadcasting the news. They want what sells and not what people want or need to know. Clay Burrel is a new reporter brought to the station from Texas and immediately things become tense between Riley and Clay. The pot is stirred even more when a gossip reporter for a local newspaper with 'no' ethics decides to focus his attention on Riley.

Sam, the gossip reporter, is murdered after a confrontation between him and Riley and she is soon the prime suspect in his killing. Everyone seems to hate the media and the way they seem to always swarm around grief and mayhem. So everyone wants to pile on the new sensation of a reporter suspected in killing another reporter. Of course this controversy means ratings for the TV station and Riley becomes a pawn between the killer, police and the corporate greed of the money hungry media.

Silencing Sam is standard mystery that is worth reading because of its seedy setting within the business of the news industry. This is a fresh storyline in contemporary writing and gives the book a new feel. Although the plot line doesn't break any new ground, the inside feel of the newsroom makes the mystery an enjoyable read. You will not be disappointed reading Silencing Sam. It is worth looking for it on the paperback shelves.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded
Thomas L. Friedman
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9780312428921, $16.00,

Thomas Friedman is a journalist who has spent years covering environmental and economic issues. In "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why we Need a Green Revolution --and How it can Renew America", he pulls together information on the topics into three groupings -- Hot for the environmental problems, Flat for vast improvements in interconnectivity within the world and Crowded for the huge increase in population.

The two functions he attributes to the cause of our economic and environmental problems are the population increases and how everyone is interconnected. We are outstripping the earth's resources and everyone actually knows this. It is obvious and easy to tell just by looking at the rapid changes to the environment around you. The interconnectivity of the world means that anything that happens anywhere affects everything else -- air pollution in China appears as smog in California and banks failing in the US affects the growth in China. The result is that Mother Nature reacts by changing the environment and that reaction is rapidly escalating into more and more lethal proportions.

Friedman points out that our use of dirty fuels is wasteful and accelerating our problems socially, economically and environmentally. He gives a way that we can reverse this by intelligently changing the way both we and the government do things. He gives real life examples of how to do this and uses a multitude of facts and figures to support his claims. For the average person, this book is a must read. Friedman's explanations and work makes things easy to understand. Since everyone is part of the world, everyone has to become a part of taking care of the world.

There are weaknesses in the book. There are many more concrete facts in both history and the world around us that support most of Friedman's premises. Some of them are easier to understand and give a stronger understanding of the problems. Another weakness is his more idealistic solutions to the problems. This is a major problem today. There are too many people wanting to get what they can today and are willing to forget the problems for next year or the next decade. There needs to be a stronger solution presented beyond the hopes of idealistic leadership to mold a universal change in how we do things. Friedman optimistically presents his analysis but there is a deep pessimism in his story. One overriding strength in his book is his intense patriotism and his belief that if we can kick start our national pride into doing the right things our nation will become a leader to the world again.

Everyone, including the no-nothing naysayers, need to read this book. The depth and details Friedman uses in his arguments make this a book key for anyone interested in the life their children will be living.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

Born Atheist
Tim Covell
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
9781450267533, $22.95,

Children are not born with a belief that there are no gods. If they were, they would have to be described as born anti-theists or something analogous. Children are born without a belief in gods, and that is what makes them "born atheists." Atheism is no more a belief system analogous to religion, than baldness is a hair style. Atheists may develop a belief that there are no gods, just as persons who do not believe in fairies may develop the belief that there are no fairies. But atheism means "without a god," the absence of a god-oriented belief system. It does not denote an alternative or opposite belief system with which it usually coexists. Whether they admit it or not, agnostics are atheists.

Tim Covell is a fan of the word "atheist." He believes that adoption of such alternative terminology as "secular humanist" constitutes a sell-out of atheist principles, allowing one's mindset to be dictated by religionists. He notes that (p. 212), "Nonreligious people toss around dozens of names to identify ourselves . freethinkers . non-believers, non-theists.. Choosing a name is a first step to defining an identity and building pride.. Let us stick with the term 'atheist.'" This despite his recognition that, "'Atheist' has been used as a derogatory name and it carries a fair amount of baggage." He suggests (p. 206) that, "The path of the gay rights movement over the past 50 years has lessons for atheists," and praises homosexuals for adopting the word "gay" as a token of pride. Has he stopped to consider whether the liberating effect of "gay pride" would have been effective if gays had retained a word as widely denigrated as "atheist," and instead called their position "fag pride"? Curiously, I am reading Covell's condemnation of nontheists who allow themselves to be manipulated into conforming to theistic protocols, at the same time I am looking at a commentary in the Scottish periodical, Humanitie, on whether there should be humanist cathedrals. It seems that people who are united in what they do not believe are not unanimous about how to promote what they do stand for.

Covell is neither a biblical scholar nor a historian. He has no more expertise in evaluating religious propaganda than any other person who has at some time sat on a toilet seat and compared his reason for being there with the fairy tale that the human body was intelligently designed by an omnipotent, benevolent creator. He consequently cites statistics on the prevalence of atheism taken directly from rigged opinion polls designed to elicit a politically correct answer. He swallows the big lie that the percentage of atheists in America is between eight and sixteen percent, even though Ronald Aronson (Living Without God) has shown that competent evaluation of the polls reveals the true number of nontheists to be 36 percent. Admittedly, he recognizes (p. 296) that, "there are many more people who do not believe in religion than the few who affirmatively identify themselves as atheists." Since Covell acknowledges his layman status, there is no point citing other factual errors with which his book abounds. But the reader should keep in mind that nothing in Born Atheist is anything but the inexpert opinion of a well-meaning amateur.

Like every nontheist I have ever encountered or can imagine encountering, Covell recognizes the politically godphuqt such as Mitt Romney and Pat Robertson as lower lifeforms, evolutionary throwbacks who would have the human race revert to the stage of moral evolution that the authors of the Bill of Rights had already outgrown. He sees the claim that humans can be good without god as an unnecessary concession to the religious pretense that goodness is a godly attribute. Tell the victims of 9/11, whose deaths can be directly attributed to the perpetrators' belief in a god, that goodness is a concomitant of godliness. No atheist has even been accused of such a dogma-inspired atrocity, although perpetrators of atrocities such as Adolf Hitler have been falsely accused of being atheists.

On the biblical myth of Joshua's violation of astrophysics, Covell writes (p. 147) that, "to make the sun stand still in the sky, the earth would have needed to stop rotating, causing a loss of gravity and all the soldiers flying off into space!" I do not imagine for one moment that Covell seriously believes that a non-spinning earth would cause a loss of gravity. But in using such misleading wording, he generates the impression that he is as ignorant as his book's targets would like to pretend. In contrast, his comments on Islam focus on showing, not that its myths are objectively falsifiable, but that its hatred of non-Moslems makes the Koran a paean to evil comparable with Mein Kampf. Other religions are treated at points where they are relevant to a point he is making.

The one religion Covell sets out to falsify in great detail (chapter 8) is Mormonism. He acknowledges that there was a good reason for that choice. While only a minority of Christians deny that Mormons are Christians, virtually all other sects see the LDS cult as so far removed from the mainstream that its falsification does not constitute a threat to their own glass houses. Covell hopes that, if he can convince other Christians that the arguments for Mormonism's fraudulence are definitive, they will then be amenable to the application of similar reality-evaluation of their own sects. Good luck with that.

Born Atheist is as good as one could reasonably expect from a layman. But when he asks readers to pass it on rather than consign it to their book shelves after reading, he reveals an unawareness of how inadequate a refutation of religion it really is. I would like to refer him to the bibliography of God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion. If it has no affect but discouraging him from writing another book as long as he remains profoundly uninformed, that is a good enough reason.

Proving History
Richard C. Carrier
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY, 14228-2119
9781616145590, $28.00,

In "Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus", Richard Carrier argues that, when Bayes's theorem is applied to biblical studies, it proves that the majority of scholars who have concluded that there was a historical Jesus at the core of the Christian fairy tales are wrong, and the minority who argue that there was never a historical Jesus are right. Carrier sets out (p. 95) to explain what Bayes's theorem is, how it works, and why its application can be trusted to reach the most probable conclusion. The problem is that, either Carrier's explanation is fatally flawed, or the theorem itself is the same kind of contentless doubletalk as theology, psychobabble, and educationese. As he concedes (p. 49), "The literature on Bayes's Theorem is vast, and usually technical to the point of unintelligibility for historians."

That would explain why Carrier has written 340 pages of gobbledygook that is as incomprehensible as Etruscan.

Carrier devotes almost his entire book to refuting the argument that the Embarrassment Criterion, meaning a gospel author's inclusion of an incident so antithetical to the point he was trying to make that he would not have invented it, constitutes evidence of historicity. He argues that, when Matthew or Luke redacted embarrassing passages in Mark (p. 127), "those embarrassing details never existed in the tradition at all before Mark." Is that a better explanation than concluding that Mark included embarrassing facts because he was quoting what he considered a usually reliable source? Carrier clearly thinks so.

Since the strongest argument for a historical Jesus is the anecdotes no Jesus fan would have invented-for example, that he made a unilateral declaration of independence from Rome and was promptly executed after a Ten Minute War that no historian of the period deemed worth mentioning-undermining the legitimacy of the Embarrassment Criterion would indeed make the "no such person" hypothesis more credible. Carrier no doubt believes he succeeded. Pardon me if I disagree.

Probably only a theologian would dispute Carrier's recognition (p. 11) that, "There are no reliable criteria for separating authentic from inauthentic Jesus tradition." He is of course limiting that observation to incidents that are not violations of the laws of reality. The fact that the dead do not come back to life is a sufficient criterion for rejecting the claim that a particular dead man did so. But the Embarrassment Criterion can only increase the probability that a scene had a factual basis, not prove that it did. And I agree that (pp. 117-118), "absence of evidence is evidence of absence-but only when that evidence is expected." And given Jesus' status as a nobody prior to Paul posthumously transforming him into a somebody, contemporary historians would no more have reported his pathetic insurrection than the insurrections of a dozen other unsuccessful messiahs.

Carrier's acquaintance with correct English leaves something to be desired. For example (p. 42), he combines the plural pronoun "them" with the singular antecedent "someone." He uses the babytalk word "snuck" (p. 32), instead of the correct preterit, "sneaked." He seems to have no awareness that referring to Jesus as "Christ" (p. 199) carries the implication that Jesus was the allegedly prophesied fairy tale character he believed himself to be. And he cites Jesus as referring to "an eschatological Son of Man" (p. 150), making no mention that, while "son of man" is a literal translation of the words found in the Greek gospels, the original language would have been Ben Adam, meaning literally "descendant of Adam," but implying a second Adam destined to rectify the screw-up by the first Adam. And yet, in discussing modern interpretations of ancient writings, he is aware (p. 41) that, "that's certainly not what these authors meant."

Carrier does not argue in this book that there was no historical Jesus. That is the topic and purpose of his next book. Instead he tries here to preempt rebuttals of his future arguments by denigrating the methodology he knows will be used against him. That he fails utterly says nothing about whether his future arguments will be valid. We can only wait and see. But don't hold your breath.

Despite his assurance that he has no axe to grind, and that his rejection of the god hypothesis does not depend on the nonexistence of a historical Jesus, I am forced to conclude that Carrier is a fatuous pretender with delusions of infallibility. He has no more ability to evaluate evidence contradicting his inflexible dogma than William Dembski or Michael Behe, and no more respect for anyone's opinion but his own than Joseph Ratzinger. The upside is that those of us who are satisfied that a preponderance of the evidence points to the existence of a historical Jesus, an insignificant Maccabee-wannabee whom Paul of Tarsus capriciously chose to be the posthumous figurehead of his new, gentile religion, are not prepared to say that the "no such person" hypothesis is totally, definitively, unquestionably wrong. But if Carrier could foresee the need to write a whole book putting down the methodology used by his opponents, he obviously cannot be unaware that he is standing on shaky ground.

Robert Sawyer
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St.
New York NY 10014-3657
9781937007164, $25.95,

Imagine a unique electro-magnetic affect triggering a kind of brainwave in humans that causes the entire human race to become part of a group mind. Each individual knows or remembers everything known to everybody else, and the ability of the most intelligent and educated to retain only beliefs that are compatible with the evidence causes that ability to generalize in the whole population. Would the universal acquisition of knowledge about the origin of imaginative beliefs, and the evidence falsifying those beliefs, cause religion to disappear from the human mindset in a single day?

That is a question Robert Sawyer raises in Triggers. How or whether he provides an answer, each reader will have to find out by reading the book.

The focal character in Triggers, around whom all subplots resolve, is the President of the United States. Sawyer depicts him as a Republican of questionable integrity whose recent but not necessarily immediate predecessor was Barack Obama. The plot is, however, so fictitious that equating the president with Mitt Romney, while it might spring to mind, would be going beyond the evidence. Similarly, the resemblance of the Secretary of Defence to Dick Cheney is no more than superficial. But the president's detestation of the Canadian prime minister, whom he describes as a "weasel," can only be based on Stephen Harper.

The president is an atheist (as Romney is not) who plans to come out of the closet after he leaves office, thereby proving that fear of electing an atheist president is as unjustified as fearing to elect a Catholic president prior to JFK. So when the SecDef prompts him to respond to repeated acts of terrorism similar to 9/11 with a Draconian measure comparable with Hiroshima, he is reluctant to do so. He fears that such an act would destroy the observable precedent that atheists do not commit atrocities as a concomitant of their beliefs; only godworshippers commit such atrocities, in the belief that their deity hates every sect but their own and wants them exterminated. While Sawyer does not identify the religion responsible for the terrorist acts to which the president responds, few readers will have any doubt of its identity. As to why, despite the harm it would do to the atheist cause, he is nonetheless willing to send an unparalleled, "don't mess with America" message, revealing that would be as much a spoiler as revealing whether he proceeded with SecDef's plan.

The evolution of the universal mind proceeds slowly, one link at a time, enabling Sawyer to depict a variety of characters with whom the reader will have no difficulty empathizing. Several Amazon reviewers expressed disappointment with the ending. But it is difficult to imagine where else such a plot could have led. My impression is that Sawyer started with the ending, and then constructed a means of getting there. And the real objection of at least some of his detractors seems to be that Sawyer does not share their ignorance of facts that a group mind was bound to recognize. I was up to page 200 before it crossed my mind to wonder if Sawyer had achieved the same standard of excellence as in his previous books, and my conclusion is that he has done so. Read and enjoy.

Stacy Horn
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
9780061116858, $24.99,

Wikipedia describes Stacy Horn as an "occasional journalist," with degrees in fine arts and telecommunications. Her lack of qualifications in investigative research does not in itself prove that she has no more ability to evaluate parapsychology experiments than Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ, the gullible wannabee investigators who pronounced the fifth-rate magician Uri Geller a genuine psychic. What does prove it is her inability to grasp that a thousand positive results in ESP experiments, every one obtained by flawed methodology that allowed for cheating or other non-paranormal explanations, equals 1,000 x 0, which equals zero.

"Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, From the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory" is a chronicle of Joseph Rhine's experiments at Duke University. Horn asks (p. 8), "What if one of them worked?" Her response is, "What I discovered, among many other things, is that one of them did." If that is typical of her credulity, I can only wonder where she was when P. T. Barnum really needed her.

Carl Sagan once wrote that we should keep open minds-but not so open that our brains fall out. Horn's willingness to start from the assumption that ESP might exist, and that claims that it does exist should be examined objectively without any investigator bias, is commendable. That is the assumption from which C. E. M. Hansel, as well as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, started, only to conclude that all of Rhine's positive results had been obtained by flawed methodology. But Horn describes Rhine's flawed results as (p. 17), "the first hard evidence that the elusive proof of life after death might be out there." She describes Hansel's expose (p. 228) of Rhine's pet cheater, Hubert Pearce, as (p. 243), "so obviously biased and far-fetched . it's hard to understand how they ever got published in the first place." It is not hard to understand how Horn got published. She espouses a viewpoint that echoes the wishful thinking of the ignoranti, and that was all the reason a publisher with no ability to recognize her incompetence needed. And she echoes the big lie (p. 235) that CSI was "formed to take away what little ground Rhine and his colleagues had gained." CSI was formed to examine paranormal claims scientifically and determine whether they have any merit.

Horn has clearly never taken a course in statistics. It was my first stats course that destroyed my belief that Joseph Rhine had proven the reality of ESP.1 Rhine had persistently claimed better-than-chance results for experiments that, as any first-year student of statistics could not fail to recognize, had produced results that were equal to chance. Horn reports (p. 243) that, "It was the parapsychology critics themselves who finally convinced me that the lab's work was sound." If that is a sample of her critical thinking, I strongly urge her to contact me. I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think will interest her.

Horn's conclusion is (p. 245), "The work of the Duke Parapsychology Lab will probably be explained some day, one way or the other. Critics are sure that time will show that it was all the result of poor technique or some yet to be discovered flaw in the math, and maybe it will. But we don't know that." Yes we do.

William Harwood

Heidi's Bookshelf

Seasonal Spanish Food
Jose Pizarro
Kyle Cathie Ltd.
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781906868093, $32.95,

Intriguing flavors, accessible recipes with precious ingredients

Determining the quality of a cookbook is tricky. One can do the best to be objective but in reality it is truly a matter of taste. One can take the objective ideas of cost per recipe to determine value, ease of using the book and a number of other factors that do not over balance visceral reaction. Seasonal Spanish Food by Pizarro presents many intriguing flavor combinations. In comparison with other specialty cookbooks, such as Espana by Caruso, you get more recipes but fewer pictures.

Pizarro presents legendary Spanish elements, Serrano Ham, Saffron, piquillo peppers and others, in mostly rustic applications. The "Chickpeas with Chorizo" works out to be a bit like a stew that eats as incredibly satisfying. It's not hard to imagine this delightfully forward dish easily seems something Abuelita would serve her family. My family agreed we wanted this recipe to show up again on our table.

Another great recipe was "Lentil Salad with Piquillo Peppers and Anchovies." This recipe also highlights one of the advantages of the book: the author always gives you options for ingredients that you may not find in your local market. While the results completely justify hunting down authentic ingredients, access doesn't have to limit your cooking adventures. You can choose more commonly found items and proceed to enjoy the results. The salad comes together with a much brighter taste than expected for most lentil dishes.

A number of other recipes are still lined up to grace our table - as the seasons progress we look forward to working through more of the offerings of the cyclical line up from the book. A different salad however truly won our hearts and taste buds. The combination was unexpected but the results stunned to silent consumption. Like any good performance, silence is the best homage to success.

Check out "Serrano Ham and Goat Cheese Salad" to explore sophisticated and homey tastes of Spain. In this case it's worth the extra effort to find the suggested ingredients. You will be glad you did.

Overall, the book provided a high level of enjoyment. Well-indexed and presenting more than one recipe on many pages, the value is a good match for someone looking for Spanish flavors you can reproduce at home. While the book won't stun guests with visual impact, you will get great results at the table!

Martha Holmberg, author
James Baigrie, photographer
Chronicle Books LLC
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452105345, $19.95,

Great Combinations and Accessible Instructions

Crepes intimidate many home cooks. Many food writers and experts lament changes in French cuisine, so perhaps others adding classic foods such as the crepe to your repertoire. When you also consider that crepe ingredients are affordable, they can be prepared quickly and easily even on a busy night, and the value of mastering cooking crepes at home becomes more obvious.

I can relate to feeling overwhelmed by tackling crepes: although a number of taste combinations caught my eye when the book first arrived, I believed this cookbook would be harder to follow than is actually true. I last tackled a crepe recipe nearly ten years ago. That outcome didn't bear repeating. Fortunately Ms. Holmberg provides better and more manageable instructions that I found in my earlier attempts.

On the test evening, I actually made two crepe batter recipes and two different filling recipes with minimal effort. I was pleasantly surprised that one recipe even called for canned tuna as the filling base. We enjoyed "Mediterranean Tuna Tapenade Crepes" and clearly the recipe is a good go-too on those nights when something fast is needed based on my pantry.

As recommended, I made the Buckwheat crepe recipe for the Mediterranean dish. The earthy flavor from the buckwheat was a great complement for the tuna and salty components in the filling. The deeper flavors are lifted by lemon notes. I did find the other crepe recipe easier to work with.

The Gluten-Free Rice Flour Crepes made a soft, neutral background for virtually any filling. When matched with the "Coconut Cream Crepes with Mango-Lime Sauce" the very delicate crepes allowed the charming combination to take center state. As a filling, the blend is perfect. The coconut cream pairs with the mango so that any natural cloying quality of the coconut is reduced while also toning the piney note sometimes found in mangos.

Overall we found sophisticated flavors in recipes that are accessible for a home cook. If you've made pancakes, you can manage the crepes presented in this book. Upgrading your skills to include crepes is completely possible with this cookbook.

Irish Traditional Cooking
Darina Allen, author
Kristin Perers, photographer
Kyle Cathie Ltd
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781856264976, $35.00,

Highly Recommended! Recipes, history, and an enchanting walk through the emerald kitchen

Ms. Allen presents a collection that blends cooking history in Ireland and recipes through time while revealing a variety of influences. The interplay of regional foods in the country and even external influences all come into play.

This book is truly a treasure. With many recipes to try, including versions of a dish scattered over centuries and areas, those seeking a recipe collection may be well-satisfied. The real value of this book goes far beyond food preparation. For those who love to read cookbooks like novels Irish Traditional Cooking is real gem.

Food readers can dig into personal stories, instructions for recipes, and information in the realm of anecdotal food anthropology. Years ago I heard a teacher talk about how some things show up in culture over and over again: nearly every culture has some form of flat bread. From pitas to pancakes to naan flat bread is an easy way to solve the need for food without the time for yeast bread.

Irish Traditional Cooking opens the door on things familiar and new. By seeing the Irish take on these dishes the reader and cook can expand their awareness and options. Readers can try a variety of flat-bread forms based on potatoes. In the case of these recipes any savvy cook has a superb base recipe with a variety of applications.

A surprisingly simple recipe baked up incredibly tasty and disappeared like proverbial hot cakes during a gathering. Don't under estimate the "Oatmeal Cookies" recipe from page 274. Simple ingredients combine in a perfect manner to please any palate. From library shelves to the home chef who loves a good cookbook-read, Irish Traditional Cooking is worth reading, having on hand and exploring the recipes offered.

Wicked Good Barbeque
Andy Husbands, Chris Hart, Andrea Pyenson
Ken Goodman, photographer
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quayside Publishing Group
100 Cummings Center, Suite 406-L, Beverly, MA 01915-6101
9781592334995, $21.99,

Challenging, Intriguing and Bacon Jam!

I lived in Kansas City for seventeen years. Arriving in this famed BBQ city from parts farther North I needed an education: where I grew up barbeque meant putting hot dogs and burgers on the grill. In the beginning I didn't get the smoky, pit-centered devotion. Ten years later I had favorites scattered around town: sausage here, spicy sauce over there, veggie kabobs over the hickory pit at another restaurant and even specific choices for each type of meat.

Thanks to getting my BBQ buds educated I tasted even more in my travels around the country. When you are ready to take your home, smoky adventure to the next level, Wicked Good Barbeque could be just the guide for you. Often considered the purview of southern-based cooks the book is written by Northerners who break the mold - and racked up a ton of wins in the process.

From personal comments to competition insights you can read and cook your way through the flavor of all the wins, unique ideas and time-consuming but delicious recipes. In every tested recipe the combination of flavors was intriguing and rewarding. In some cases I found the rub recipes to be saltier than appealed to me. Other testers also found some of the salt levels too high. Despite this, each of the rubs tested will get used again with adjustments for local tastes.

With all the great results from wet and dry treatments, smoke levels and different dishes, one recipe specifically knocked everyone out. Even people who didn't get to taste it wanted to know about the book that contained the recipe for "Bacon Jam." Yes, bacon jam. The plan laid out in the book is to serve the bacon jam with cornbread and butter. Good luck keeping it around long enough to serve with anything.

Like the evil indulgence of peanut butter straight from the spoon or chugging milk from the container, once completed all bacon jam needs is a spoon to enjoy. Was it good on cornbread? You bet! And if I wanted leftovers for anything else I definitely needed to make a bigger batch!

While I don't recommend this book for those beginning their real BBQ journey (Slow Fire is a better starter book) it's a great source for going further into smoke mastery. Many dishes require the completion of multiple recipes to get those prize-winning results. In addition, as common to quality BBQ, time is needed to get those tasty results. One advantage to Wicked Good Barbeque is methodology for various meats and cuts. If you are a big rib fan then Best Ribs Ever may be a better option.

Odgen Publications Inc.
Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106
9781449409746, $24.99,

Grandma's Secret is Trendy Again

Lard comes full-circle like so many other ingredients. Considered an evil for past few decades due to cholesterol levels and other concerns, it turns out that lard isn't actually evil on its own. Thankfully, with a pure source for this product you can use this cookbook to resurrect those amazing heritage dishes.

In the Lard cookbook readers learn how to identify a safe product, historical vignettes about traditional rendering. Memories are scattered throughout the; individuals with shared family history of farming or self-sufficiency will find much to love in the stories.

I found many recipes to love in the book from hush puppies to main dishes. One specific recipe lured me into the kitchen to start right away. I remember having a lush, chocolate cake as a child that had sauerkraut in the recipe. Every time I've asked others about the recipe they thought I was crazy! As a devotee of zucchini cake's moist, satisfying texture I knew the cake recipe I found in Lard would be a hit.

Fortunately, the recipe lived up to my expectations. The "Chocolate Kraut Cake" on page 174 impressed and pleased. I admit that I didn't tell the testers about the cabbage until after the first bite. Everyone liked it so I finally admitted to the secret ingredient.

If you remember impossibly flaky pie crusts, rich cakes with a light texture, and extra flavor in past food perhaps you're ready for a new cookbook. Through the pages you will develop a new relationship with this cookbook and this re-claimed ingredient.

Heidi Sue Roth

Karyn's Bookshelf

Getting Over Garrett Delaney
Abby McDonald, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA, 02144
9780763655075, $16.99,

With great wit, intelligence and compassion for real-life teen struggles, McDonald crafts a novel that entertains and teaches. Seventeen-year-old Sadie desperately yearns to be Garrett Delaney's girlfriend. Garrett is Sadie's longtime best friend, but he shows no interest in dating her. He dates other girls. She hears about them all, and lends him relationship advice, while her heart breaks. With the help of some slightly older coffee shop co-workers and a best friend who has gracefully re-emerged after several years of being pushed aside, Sadie realizes that she's allowed her entire persona to be eclipsed by Garrett. Everything, from her clothes to her haircut to her choice of movies, books and even her bedroom decor, is now a clone of his tastes and interests. When Garrett heads to summer camp, new and old friends help Sadie right her world. The process isn't easy, and some of the novel's best (and funniest) scenes are when Sadie's friends go into full support mode. The life lesson, staying true to yourself, is pointedly yet gently presented, without going preachy. Although the context here is a romantic relationship, this lesson is applicable in all sorts of situations, and is a crucial coming-of-age skill for older teens. Alternately hilarious and thoughtful, and dead-on throughout, a terrific summer read that teens will be wiser for

Go Out and Play!
Darrell Hammond/KaBoom!, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA, 02144
9780763655303, $11.99,

Remember playing "Ghosts in the Graveyard," on moonless summer nights? Maybe. Remember the rules? Maybe not. They're here, alongside how-tos for nearly 70 other outdoor games. KaBoom, a non-profit group dedicated to keeping kids playing and active, has compiled the rules for classic tag, hide-and-seek, ball, team, sidewalk, circle, race, no-rule and other games. The offerings, from "Kick-the-can" and "Steal the Bacon" to "Mother May I?" and "Red Light, Green Light," vary in their age suitability, with something for all levels from preschoolers to tweens. The directions are clearly written and concise, generally limited to three paragraphs and one page per game. A great resource for adults who want to share with the children in their lives games they once played, or games they've heard of but never knew the rules for. A must-have shelf staple for Scout leaders, rec directors, camp counselors and anyone else whose job it is to get kids outdoors.

Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass
Russell Freedman, author
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547385624, $18.99,

Bringing complex, intense Civil War-era issues of race and slavery down to a tween reading level is no small feat. It requires masterful writing. Newbery Medal winner Russell Freedman proves, again, that he has the skill to pull that off while retaining historical detail amid space and vocabulary constraints. Freedman juxtaposes the lives and political careers of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the former rising to the presidency after being born into poverty, the latter an escaped (ultimately freed) slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist. Their lives paralleled each other as they championed causes that would define the future of the nation. They knew of each other, with Douglass alternately a vocal critic and supporter of Lincoln's policies. They did not meet, however, until 1863. What stands out, perhaps, most clearly here is the black perspective. Douglass was a radical abolitionist who wanted to see all slaves freed immediately. Lincoln moved too slowly and cautiously for Douglass' tastes, suggesting, for instance, that slavery not be abolished but simply confined to the south once the rebellion was put down. Lincoln put off signing the Emancipation Proclamation until he felt it would be broadly supported. A too-quick misstep, Lincoln felt, might doom any chance of reunifying the nation. Garnering that support, especially in swing states, took time and careful deliberation. Douglass understood why Lincoln moved slowly but wasn't happy about it. The intricacies of war, race and mid-19th Century politics, that culminated in a historic meeting of the two men at the White House, are laid out in the pages of "Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship" in a way that's accessible and retainable for young readers. Important and excellent.

Same Sun Here
Silas House and Neela Vaswani, authors
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA, 02144
9780763656843, $15.99,

Two award-winning authors team up in this frank, insightful novel about two middle schoolers whose pen pal letters bridge a long distance and deep cultural divide. Meena is a recent immigrant from India who lives in New York City's Chinatown. River lives in rural Kentucky and is the son of a coal miner. When they begin corresponding as part of a school project, the first thing they notice is that they both are forced to write longhand; both are from poor families and neither has consistent access to a computer. As they ask each other about their very different lives in the city and the countryside, and respond to each other's curious questions, Meena and River also begin to divulge personal and familial challenges. This lends great depth to the novel. Meena's family is struggling with a range of issues familiar to immigrants, most notably that they secretly live in an apartment leased to a neighbor and face eviction if discovered. River's family, meanwhile, is incensed about a new mountaintop-leveling coal mining operation adjacent to their property, and the sudden appearance of pollution in their previously pristine stream. The book's format, as succinct letters written between the two young teens, allows much more detailed information about their homes and personal situations to be squeezed in than would have been possible in a traditional format. There's a lot going on in their lives, and a lot is packed into 297 pages. But good writing keeps the story flowing. A well-crafted tale about what we can learn from each other, and how we can change the world in baby increments.

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
Nicola Davies & Mark Hearld
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA, 02144
9780763655495, $19.99,

Exquisite illustrations compliment beautiful poetry, attaining that rare combination of art and words that is a near-perfect picture book. The book's more than 50 nature-inspired poems progress through the four seasons of the year. Color schemes also progress from blues and greens of spring to pinks and corals of summer, reds and burnished oranges of autumn and icy blues and blacks of winter. Individual subjects include dandelions, planting seeds, lambs' tails, making hay, baby birds, apples, harvest and winter trees. A host of different birds, animals and plants make appearances. The poetry's simplicity makes it child-friendly and the stunning art will entice old and young readers alike. A gorgeous, award-winner-in-the-making collaboration.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Katherine's Bookshelf

Lady Justice and the Vigilante
Robert Thornhill
100 Enterprise Way Ste A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469987071, $12.99,

Lady Justice and the Vigilante is another comedy/mystery thriller written by award winning Robert Thornhill for our reading enjoyment. This time he takes a story from the "headlines" (really, the movies in this novel) and adapts it to his unique style.

Walt Williams and the rest of the crew take on a vigilante who is stalking Kansas City and using his own brand of justice to rid the town of those he considers lawbreakers. The vigilante takes his cue from the Charles Bronson movies about a vigilante who believes he is cleaning up the streets of his town. Mr. Thornhill's vigilante does the same. The people of Kansas City are divided as to the morality of the issue. And again, he leaves the right or wrong of it up to you, the reader.



"Detractors screamed 'MURDER' and said that the vigilante was even worse than the offenders he was killing."

Walt and his band of crime-fighting crew work together with their usual hilarious unorthodox ways of solving crimes, but this time, they work closer with the 'perp' than usual. The vigilante joins the City Retiree Action Patrol, becoming a trusted member of the team. Join Walt and his band as they seek to solve this case and bring the vigilante to justice. The end will surprise you.

Robert Thornhill began writing at the age of 66. He has written seven novels in the Lady Justice series, seven Rainbow Road series for children, a cookbook and a mini-biography. He lives with his wife, Peg in Independence, MO. His website is

Romantic Retreats in Texas
Katherine "Kat" Smith
TomKat Productions, LLC
P O Box 701478, Dallas, TX 75370-1478
9780971502413, $18.95,

True to her training as a relationship coach, Kat Smith has written "Romantic Retreats in Texas: Places to Relax, Rejuvenate and Reconnect", a book that will take you to places of romance in Texas, guaranteed to help you give your relationship a boost. She makes sure you will not miss out on a romantic Texas retreat by giving you instructions on how to use the book, including Texas Road Traveling Tips and Sources of Travel in Texas (and she does not include wagon train in this list).

The retreats are described according to the area of Texas they are in, giving the location, the address and other contact information as well as the romantic amenities provided by the individual properties. There is a short page on planning your retreat, another couple of pages on packing and information on how to conduct yourself on retreat properties. In perusing the Table of Contents, you will see that Ms. Smith has inserted a few pages called "Keys to Intimate Foreplay". Be sure to read it as it is NOT what you think it would be.

In the Preface, Ms. Smith says:

"My goal with this book is to share what the state has to offer, which is something for everyone; from rustic ranches to sophisticated resorts. There are places to relax and read, get in touch with nature, ride horses, swim in lakes, to boat or fish, day trips to cleanse the body or spirit and entertaining retreats filled with areas for shopping, dining and more."

I think she has reached her goal and then some. Anyone can use this book to plan a short trip, a long tour of the state or a trip to just relax and refresh themselves.


Went Out to Get a Donut - Came Home With a Muffin
Laura W. Eckroat
Tate Publishing
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781613468418, $9.99,

Went Out to Get a Donut - Came Home With a Muffin is a lovely little ditty (her description) that Laura Eckroat has written about Muffin. Who or what is Muffin? What a mystery! You have to read this story to find out the answer. Children will love to sing along to this delightful story. Be sure to download the audio of the book, as Ms. Eckroat narrates it with the fun and enthusiasm that it deserves. Children will delightfully sing along with her after the first time they hear it. I, personally, would like to taste some of those donuts as I follow Ms. Eckroat to the end of the story. Of course, then I would like to have the Muffin in the end.

"Oh...I went to the store to buy a donut,
A cinnamon, sugary, tasty donut.
I went to the store to buy a donut -
but I came home with a Muffin."

The illustrations by Greg White are colorful and descriptive of the story. Children will excitedly pour through the book, pointing out the different kinds of donuts and follow the trail to the answer to whom or what Muffin is. The illustrations capture the trail to the Muffin in gorgeous color.

The premise of the story teaches the value of adopting a pet. Children will learn to love and care for an adopted pet and discover unconditional love in return.

Laura Eckroat was born and raised in Whiting, Indiana. After living in Colorado, Georgia and Massachusetts, she now lives in Fort Worth with her husband, Stephen, her daughter Ashley and Muffin, her Anatolian Shepherd rescue dog. She works for the Northwest YMCA and volunteers at the Fort Worth Nature Center. She has been an elementary school teacher and the general manager of an educational toy store. During football season, she roots for "DA BEARS" (Chicago Bears).

Vivian Gilbert Zabel
4RV Publishing LLC
P O Box 6482, Edmond OK 73083
9780982588642, $16.99,

Stolen crafted by Vivian Gilbert Zabel is the proverbial page turner done with sensitivity and emotions that will keep you wanting more. The emotions are garnered from her own life as two of her grandchildren were taken by their father.

Torri Adamson and her children go to live with her family, after she learns that her husband has married another woman. She has spent her whole married life forgiving him his predilection for other women. This bigamous marriage is the last straw. He lets her have a divorce and does not want to have anything to do with the children. He even talks the other woman into marrying him legally.

As Torri picks up her life, she loses her best friend to cancer; she develops a new relationship with Jason, her best friend's widower who provides the father role in the children's lives. Then, her ex-husband makes a move that she cannot believe. He takes the children from her - stolen!

Mrs. Zabel has captured the tension that is always connected to a crime like this. You must read it if for no other reason than to see how Torri and her family deal with the ordeal.

"Abruptly halting in mid-step, she whirled to face Jason, her expression slightly out of focus with terror and tears. 'He wouldn't, would he? He couldn't, hurt, really hurt them, could he?'"

Vivian Gilbert Zabel has written several books and poems over the years. She always knew she would be a writer and she was right. She taught high school English and writing for twenty-seven years. She lives with her husband of 50 years, Robert, in Oklahoma and periodically surrounds herself with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as she writes her books and poetry.

Ode to Icky
Maranda Russell
Mirror Publishing
6434 W Dixon St., Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612250588, $9.99,

Maranda Russell has written a funny, colorful story, illustrated by the animated pictures by Nicolas Peruzzo. Children will enjoy the funny storyline of "Ode to Icky" as they watch the progression of the story in the illustrations and plot.

Candy has a very lazy cat she named Icky who only thought of eating and sleeping and would not clean himself until he smelled so bad that the dog even stayed away from him.

When Candy's sister gets some new perfume from France that purportedly smelled like Icky, an idea of how to make some money comes to Candy. She makes some perfume from Icky's hair and sells it at school. What happens next at school with her classmates and at home with her parents is predictable, but also holds a surprise.

Children will laugh as they read this book, not only for the storyline, but also for the surprise ending that is so typical of "young entrepreneurs".

"As Kayla stomped out of the room, Candy got a brilliant idea. In fact, she was so excited she turned off the TV and went into the kitchen to find an empty glass jar."

Ms. Russell's first picture book, Ode to Icky is written for 3-8 year olds, but parents will also enjoy it as they laugh along with their children. The moral is not spelled out, but is left for the children to work out for themselves. Parents and teachers can have lively discussions about the consequences of their actions.

Maranda Russell is a foster parent, book reviewer and children's writer. She spends most of her time reading, writing, hanging out with her family, playing with her 5 cats and giving author talks and presentations at schools, stores, and community events around the Dayton, Ohio area. She also likes to dance, hike, visit art museums and browse local bookstores. Check out Maranda's website:

Meet Aunt Panda
Nancy Baku & Pama Monfries
Pama Monfries
18918 Venture Dr.
Point Venture, TX 78645
9780984891009, $4.99,

Told from the viewpoint of a little boy about his Aunt Panda, Meet Aunt Panda created by Nancy Baku and Pama Monfries relates his visits to her house. He tells of her unusual likes and dislikes. It turns out she likes the things a little boy would enjoy! These things include but are not limited to chocolate, making jewelry, painting, bugs and gardening.

Not only does he have a good time helping her when he goes to visit, he gets to go home with gifts for his family. And he made them himself. It is a great lesson to teach a child about making gifts and sharing with others.

"When it's time to leave I have a necklace for Mommy, flowers for Daddy, a painting for Nana and cookies to share."

The illustrations are simple and bright. They are just what I think a young child will enjoy. Your child will want you to read this lively book to them over and over again and you will love doing it. It is a good book for an older sibling to read to a younger one.

Pama Monfries and Nancy Baku are longtime friends who enjoy bouncing ideas and dreams off of each other. Both share a love for children's books and the lifelong dream of creating one. 'Why not now?" they asked. So they did!

Nancy Baku is a former elementary school teacher and advertising executive. In 2009 she became a fulltime writer and mixed media artist. She lives in Grapevine, TX with her husband, near their two young grandchildren.

Pama Monfries is a lifelong artist who gave up her corporate advertising career after 9/11 to become a fulltime fine artist, muralist and illustrator. Monfries and her husband of 35 years live in Austin, TX near two of their three grown children.

They plan to write future books about the boy as he interacts with other family members. Be sure to watch for the series as you and your children will enjoy them as much as you have this one.

Fatal Philosophy
David S. Alkek, M.D.
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way Ste A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463646219, $15.00,

There is a serial killer on the loose in Dallas, Texas. Dr. David S. Alkek's novel, Fatal Philosophy, delves into the thoughts of the perpetrator as he moves from one victim to the other. As Jason Colbert, the detective in charge of solving this crime and Doris Goodman, a psychologist follow the clues by decoding a cryptic message they believe is the key to solving the crime. Their investigation leads them to the Philosophy Club which has a lot to lose unless the killer is found.

The reader follows the murderer's thoughts and twisted philosophy as he commits one murder after another. The investigators also take a philosophical look at their own lives and come up with some interesting conclusions.

Jason and Doris work to put the pieces of the puzzle together in the same way as detectives in most novels. It is the pieces to the puzzle as well as philosophical thinking by the murderer and the detectives that lead to the conclusion. Will the murderer make a mistake?

"... Jason remained alone in the conference room, thinking about what they had. A pattern of murders and one step ahead of them, a shadow, a murderer, who leaves no clues except a message, the names of dead philosophers written in blood. The scenario was like a fiction in which fantasy and reality merged, but the plot had to be dissected until image and reality separated."

David S. Alkek, M.D. specializes in cosmetic dermatology in Dallas, Texas. He is a Clinical Professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, he is past president of the Cosmetic Surgery Society. He has written over 15 scientific articles and two published books. Dr. Alkek's life-long interest in philosophy has led him to many organizations where he lectures and leads discussions. He has published a book and a second revised edition, "The Self-Creating Universe", which combines science, philosophy, and theology.

Katherine Boyer

Logan's Bookshelf

Cutter's Bizaar
Bud Rudesill
Moonstrike Press
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475219531 $10.00

Cutter's Bizaar is an eccentric novel following Frank Cutter, a gifted photographer who starts as a cowboy and learns to shoot action photography on a cattle ranch. Prompted by his mentor, he strives to adapt his talent to take memorable photographs of beautiful women. His journey to find his place in the modern world of fashion photography, and even high art, takes the most extraordinary twists and turns; Cutter is destined to encounter people he would never have dreamed of meeting back on the Wyoming cattle ranch. An unforgettable read from cover to cover.

Blessings in the Storm
Roberta Wright
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426937705, $11.65,

The road to be treated as human beings in America has been long for many African Americans. "Blessings in the Storm: Samuel Wesley Gathing: A Closer Look" analyzes the struggles of the titular man and his family, living in Mississippi in 1929, where racism was not only prevalent, but codified into the law. Through faith and personal leadership, author Roberta Wright presents a detailed story of true life under Jim Crow, making "Blessings in the Storm" a read very much worth considering.

Joel Martin
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466236578, $19.95,

A crusade of justice can come with its own realizations. "Inquisitor" is a novel following Gabriel Lavoure, inquisitor of the Order of the Righteous. Working for the glory of God, he comes to a crossroads, as he meets others who also supposedly push for the greater good, as he encounters those with methods different form his own, as he faces terror in a riveting dark fantasy world. "Inquisitor" is a fine addition fantasy collections, highly recommended.

The Pursuit of Cool
Robb Skidmore
TMiK Press
9780985037901, $12.00,

The search for cool is one that can often turn out foolish. "The Pursuit of Cool" is a novel surrounding college student Lance Rally, as he seeks to rise to the top of the social ladder by finding what cool is, only to be swept into the whirlpool of its many definitions. With plenty of humor and a strong moral on the purpose of youth, "The Pursuit of Cool" is a strong pick for general fiction collections and those who want an original take on the college dynamic.

The House on Terminal Island
Ronald R. Schmidt
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426982019, $15.45,

With wealth comes a chance for something greater, but the price paid for a better life may not be worth it. "The House on Terminal Island" is a novel following Jenny Watson and her two teenaged children as a burst of luck gives them a chance at a new home in California, away from the ravages of gang territory. The cost comes in brushes with the supernatural, as forces unknown want to force them form their new home. "The House on Terminal Island" is a worthy considering for those seeking a modern set horror tale.

Where We Find Ourselves
R. Thomas Risk
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781463420932, $18.04,

In life, we can often look for answers with no answer. "Where We Find Ourselves" is a memoir of sorts from Randolph Thomas Risk as he presents his own search for the answer to the question of why. Looking to religion and science for answers, he comes to many unique conclusions and false hopes of answering that question. A thoughtful memoir on philosophy and our purpose, "Where We Find Ourselves" is a solid and much recommended pick for memoir collections.

Birthday Suit
Tyler Durman
Eight Toe Books
c/o MediaConnect (publicity)
9781467518031, $14.95,

The honesty of life holds nothing off in our pursuits. "Birthday Suit" is a collection of short stories from Tyler Durman, as he collects poignant and honest stories offering humor raw and naked. With plenty to laugh and think about, "Birthday Suit" is a strong pick for general short fiction collections, very much recommended reading.

Arthur Mokin
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463773915, $15.00,

To follow those destined to wander the desert is something one must be truly devoted to agree to. "Meribah" is a novel of Exodus, as a young Egyptian man falls for an Hebrew slave woman. As they take the start of their journey into the desert for decades to come, the Egyptian must abandon his pagan beliefs and accept the God of Abraham. "Meribah" is a strong addition to historical fiction collections focusing on Biblical times.

I'm Still Standing
Kelly Standing
Standing Media, LLC
9780985274504, $24.95,

Life sometimes plays you a bad hand. Kelly Standing has faced way too many bad hands. "I'm Still Standing: How One Woman's Brushes with Death Taught Her How to Live" is a memoir from Kelly Standing as she recounts how her numerous brushes with death have given her a better outlook of life and its value, as a woman and as a mother. With a strong message and a remarkable story of surviving multiple potential tragedies, "I'm Still Standing" is a strong pick for memoir collections.

Carl Logan

Lois' Bookshelf

Gift of a Lifetime: A Woman's Guide to Triumphant Aging
Barbara Stanford
Lodge Hill Press
P.O. Box 849, Cambria, CA 93428
9780965285308, $8.95,

Offering a wealth of helpful short chapters, "Gift of a Lifetime: A Woman's Guide to Triumphant Aging" by Barbara Stanford starts right off with meaningful statements about aging, as: "Perhaps the key to a good old age lies with your feelings and assumptions about yourself ... If you hate the idea of being old, then efforts at creating a good old life will be defeated by a mind that is saying 'no' to existing at all."

But surely everyone wants to live to be a hundred?

Surprisingly, no. In a recent seminar I attended on aging, several elderly folks shocked the rest of us by saying they were done. Whatever possible future was suggested, they'd been there, done that.

Personally, I was beyond shocked, I was speechless. My feelings are so much the opposite. If Faust's horned companion were to show up at my door offering some such bargain as the one he offered to Faust, I would be sorely tempted. I'd love to be young again. The world is so full of things of which I haven't yet been there, done that. The incredible newly discovered archeological sites, Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan, and in South America, Pumapunku - I would love to go and see them. I watch Nat Geo entranced as it shows archeologists uncovering one fascinating site after another. I am also in awe of the elderly who learn to parachute out of planes or climb Mount Everest. Surely there is something new for even the most world-weary of us to do.

Gift of a Lifetime assumes that you want to live long and prosper. It offers chapter after chapter of great suggestions on planning for a fulfilling old age. Learning to live alone, learning to do things on your own, especially those things your spouse once took care of, like keeping the car serviced and in good working order - all that sort of thing ought to keep boredom away. Conversely, there is the possibility of learning to be a good house-sharer so as not to have to live alone. The Agency on Aging helped me find a housemate who lived with me for ten congenial years. Neither of us wished to marry again so there was no problem of involvement; we had our separate lives; but we had someone on call in an emergency. Loren was a great cook, having attended a cooking school in Paris, and he often cooked for both of us while I paid for the groceries. It was a good arrangement all around.

The book is mainly upbeat and positive, but author Barbara Stanford does not fear to confront the bad side of old age. In the chapter called "Losing Your Head to Save Your Mind" she says:

"Like a cloud in the sky on a summer's day it hangs there, the dreaded curse of aging. Is he, is she, am I the one who is doomed? I forgot to buy milk yesterday, I lost my car keys this morning. Is that a sign? ... It's the mark of Cain on old people, on some old people ... On me? ...

"The reported cases of Alzheimers keep growing. Why is it so much more prevalent? Are we doing something to ourselves? Is it in our food, our water? ... Can we prevent it? What's going on?

"One of the most dreaded aspects of the disease is that it cannot be diagnosed until an autopsy is performed and yet I frequently hear people say that a loved one has Alzheimer's. The diagnosis seems to have been made on the basis of very little testing ... and at present the testing is wrong 25 to 40 per cent of the time. Though the person may be curable, no cure is sought ... Is this the sort of thing that could happen to anyone?

"We live in a society where the stereotype of old people is that they are weak, sick and senile. Old people are not valued nor are they respected ... Today there are well over fifty million people who are over fifty five. By 2020, that number will have doubled. We are looking at an explosion in the number of a group of people who are vulnerable and, at the same time, are seen to be undesirable."

No elderly person, however smart and stable, can entirely escape this societal perception. What we do about it will define us as a culture. We need to give careful thought to the matter because this is the future for all of us, not just for the aged. Barbara Stanford has courageously highlighted a situation we all need to focus attention on.

Labeled as a woman's guide to aging, I should think this book would prove rewarding for any older reader. Aging, as the author remarks, is often more difficult for men than for women because they have little experience in the kinds of activities needed to care for oneself, like shopping, cooking, clothes washing and ironing. I would recommend the book for anyone heading toward old age.

Life Begins @ Sixty
Joan Frentz
Journey Publications
P.O Box 1071, Summerland, CA 93067
097480875X, $15.95,

This is a book clearly designed for the Boomer generation, many of whom have already reached the sixties. Though primarily designed for women, the book offers suggestions helpful for everyone, such as the amount of daily exercise needed, as well as hints like the use of goggles when swimming in a pool, to protect the eyes from chlorine. It also offers much specific information about pending health concerns for Boomers: osteoporosis, arthritis, heart problems - and how to anticipate and forestall them, fortifying the body against the onslaught. It provides outlines for such matters as personal family histories, allowing us to see at a glance our own past and probable future, healthwise.

Much of the book is focused on the value of exercise, but there is also a section on fitness and food. All the information is good and useful, even the touting of exercise as a cure-all, which indeed it can be. My only complaint is that the tone of the book is a bit lacking in joy. The author takes a You-must-do approach, and includes some surprising Thou-shalt-nots. For instance, she doesn't approve of exercising to music because she claims that the music interferes with thinking about your body, being aware of your muscles as you work them. She feels that attention is needed in order to guarantee that the exercise is beneficial. Personally, I would need a lot of convincing about this; I can't believe that anything is lost by moving to music. I've done it all my life, from the sidewalk jump-rope chants of my childhood (Ella, Ella, dressed in yella, went to town to meet her fella) to the later walkmans and ipods, and managed to maintain a fair amount of health in the process. Exercising to music or rhythmic chant is fun, and humans like to have fun, and I think the author is off base in making this important activity seem like a chore.

Still, on the whole, this is a useful book, and as a quick reference guide it can be helpful in suggesting ways to prevent problems in the future.

Lois Wells Santalo

Margaret's Bookshelf

Blood Possession
Tessa Dawn
Ghost Pines Publishing
9781937223038 $14.84

The third book in the Blood Curse dark fantasy series, Blood Possession centers upon Napolean Mondragon, authoritarian lord of the Vampyr house of Jardon, and Brooke Adams, a career-driven woman who comes to visit Dark Moon Vale unaware of the supernatural horrors that lie within. Fate is about to transform both their lives forever, and pit them in a desperate struggle against the savagery that is blood possession! An intensely gripping and dramatic saga from start to finish, Blood Possession is enthusiastically recommended especially to fans of vampire stories, as are the previous Blood Curse novels, "Blood Destiny" and "Blood Awakening".

Selling With Soul
Sharon V. Parker
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469753287, $16.95,

It can seem like you have to give up everything to make a difference in today's world. "Selling with Soul: Achieving Career Success without Sacrificing Personal and Spiritual Growth" is a motivational book from Sharon V. Parker, as she advises those with faith and spirituality on how to maintain and manage it even in the most daunting of times, where one's spirit will definitely be tested. "Selling with Soul" is a strong pick for anyone who enters sales and wants to keep their head on straight.

The Coal Bin
David E. Watson
Privately Published
9780615529394, $12.95,

Karma's wrath is subtle but effective. "The Coal Bin" follows amoral greedy sociopath Tom, who successfully plots his family's own demise to reap the benefits of their fortune, getting away with it scot-free, or so he thought. Things begin to happen around Tom, things that may make him regret what he did yet. "The Coal Bin" is a psychological horror of bad things happening to bad people, a read worth considering.

Tighter, Tighter
Lynn Kear
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468089417, $15.99,

Famous people some times seem to get away with everything. "Tighter, Tighter" is a novel of mystery as prosecutor Meredith Carlson places blame on a famous rock star who she holds is responsible for a disappearance and a murder thirty-five years ago. An enticing read of determination and cold cases, "Tighter, Tighter" is a fine read for fans of mystery novels, highly recommended.

Willful Women II
Randall S. Smith
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470033712, $14.99,

Strong women are specific to no era of history. "Willful Women II" is a collection of short stories from Randall S. Smith as he writes of women in many stages of history from the distant past to a possible future, offering women looking at the odds and doing what they can to break through it all and make quite the difference. "Willful Women II" is a strong pick for general fiction collections focusing on short stories.

Jagged Blind Hop Zozzle
M. S. Simpson
Round Mountain Press
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466359918, $15.00,

A shot at something new doesn't guarantee something new. "Jagged Blind Hop Zozzle" follows Cuthbert, as he takes the opportunity to live with his aunt in France to write a novel. Taken in by Paris in the 1920s, and learns much about the life, finding the slew of experiences will change everything he knows about the world. "Jagged Blind Hop Zozzle" is an original and thoughtful take of life changing experiences, a solid and very much recommended read.

Wicked Allure
Leslie C. Ferdinand
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475010800, $11.99,

You don't know that this is it until it may be too late. "Wicked Allure" is a mature novel from Leslie C. Ferdinand, as she follows the burden that Zach has, enjoying his romance with Madigan, but deciding it'd be wrong to pursue anything else given his past. But the decision to split breaks them apart and sends Zach off the wagon, and years apart their lives go on. Years later, a second chance comes, and the pain comes along. "Wicked Allure" is a solid and much recommended romance, not to be missed.

Woman Cheater
Samantha Joyner
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468564211, $14.95,

Infidelity knows no gender. "Woman Cheater: Making It Do, What It Do, Not My Way" is a collection of tales of women and their struggles with cheating, its temptation, and the problems that have spun out from it all. Following many insightful stories and tales, with a strong message of faith and keeping one's world straight before it spirals out of hand, "Woman Cheater" is a must for urban fiction and romance collections, highly recommended.

Ebony Iman
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432785130, $13.95,

To do what is taboo is only a greater aphrodisiac for many. "Desideras: 7 Sexclusives" is a collection 7 short stories from Ebony Iman as she creates stories of fetish and temptation running wild, presenting these unique stories with all of their spice and unadulterated nature. For those seeking enticing stories of erotica, Ebony Iman's "Desideras" is a collection that is very much worth considering.

Margaret Lane

Maria Ryan's Bookshelf

Long Drive Home
Will Allison
Free Press
1230 Avenue of the Americas
NY, NY 10020
9781416543039, $22.00,

I'll assume that this story is supposed to make us all think twice before acting and that even the most unbelievable events can and do occur to everyday people. The way Allison illustrates his points though is nothing more than ridiculous. Glen, a suburban stay-at-home Dad is driving his 6 year old daughter home from school one day when he encounters 3 separate downright scary automobile incidences. It is the last one that takes the cake when a split second decision by Glen to teach someone a lesson results in a vehicular crash. Apparently his life up to this point has been typical and uneventful. The story continues to unfold with Glen's wife wanting to split seemingly only because of his part in the accident and how that accident will affect the family's finances in case they happen to get sued. An over the top cop intent on nailing Glen due to his correctly guessed theory on how the accident occurred stalks Glen all over town like an enraged Columbo (with none of Peter Falk's charm). Glen manages to be a magnet for auto accidents as later in the story he is hit by a truck while working as a crossing guard at his child's school. Oh, there is also another incident involving a threat with a gun in which Glen decides to play one man vigilante and engages in some stalking of his own. Someone went a little heavy on the testosterone with this one and really went round the bend. The story is so improbable that it comes off as a bad joke. There are much better ways to spend your time but if you do decide to read, thankfully it's a short book.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Kim Edwards
Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
0670034169, $24.95,

A doctor delivering he and his wife's newborn twins during a snowstorm in 1964, makes the decision without her knowledge to give away one of his babies who was born with Down's Syndrome. He hands the baby over to his nurse and asks her to take the child to an institution. The nurse takes the baby, flees and raises the newborn as her own child. The child's natural mother never knew this happened yet it is essentially the beginning of her and her husband's marital problems, ones that they never overcome even while raising their other healthy child. David tells his wife that the other baby has died and even though she is mourned, Norah, his wife, never gets over the loss. Late in the story, an unexpected twist takes place before David can tell Norah what really happened, something he struggles with for the rest of his life, taking up photography as a way to deal with his overwhelming guilt. We are never sure if David would have made the decision to tell Norah the truth. This is one of the story's aspects that haunt the reader. I fully expected that eventually he would. The story is richly layered with themes regarding the value of a life and making a life for yourself in spite of unforeseen and unexpected circumstances. The principal characters each take a journey that is uniquely their own. Edwards writes a moving story.

Sing You Home
Jodi Piccoult
Washington Square Press
c/o Simon and Schuster
9781439102725, $28.00,

This may be my favorite Piccoult book to date and I really do love her earlier works. The story touches so many nerves. Yes, there are disturbing and upsetting aspects but the author handles them deftly and with respect. It is obvious that she does the necessary research. Not everyone will be able to emotionally handle the book's content and perhaps that is the reason they do not like it, however, this story is well crafted and although some of the character's display strong extremist beliefs, these people do exist and they happen to be a part of this particular story. One of the questions I always ask myself when reading any novel is could this story really happen? Does it ring true? The answer here is a resounding yes. The only thing I did not care for was the musical CD that was created to highlight the story. First of all, it wasn't necessary. The book offered all the right tools to get a sense of the characters. Secondly, I am simply not a fan of the Indigo Girls, folksy genre. The CD is designed to be played along with reading the story and the tracks are conveniently earmarked to correspond with the appropriate chapters so the reader gets a deeper sense of what Zoe is feeling in the moment since the music is created from her perspective. It is an interesting concept however, I would never interrupt the reading

Maria Ryan

Mayra's Bookshelf

Griffin's Fire (Book Two)
Darby Karchut
Twilight Times Books
P.O. Box 3340
Kingsport, TN, 37664-3340
9781606192122, $15.95,

What happens when a moody teenage angel is forced to attend high-school?

The answer is Griffin's Fire.

Griffin's Fire is the second installment in Darby Karchut's Terrae Angeli young adult fantasy series, published by Twilight Times Books. I didn't read the first book in the series and have to say that I was a bit lost at the beginning of the story. Fortunately, not for long. Karchut provides only the essential bits of backstory and I was soon engulfed in Griffin's world. As far as the first book, Griffin Rising goes, suffice to say that Griffin is a supernatural being known as a Terrae Angeli, a being who has the ability to control Fire, Water, Wind and Earth and who, like a guardian warrior, helps humans who are in danger. Book I is all about his apprenticeship, relationship to his mentor, love for a mortal girl and 'fall' into the world of mortals when he's banished from the Terrae Angeli.

In this book II, Griffin is forced to live like a normal mortal teenager and enroll in Centennial High, a form of hell on earth. Not only must he adjust to his new nature, but he must also deal with nasty math teachers and especially with his mentor Basil's new Terrae Angeli apprentice, who comes to live with them and who does everything in his power to drive Griffin crazy and turn Basil against him. Griffin is pretty miserable, even more so when he's compelled to breakup with his beloved Kate and hide the powers that refuse to die within his own being. Is his Terrae Angeli nature gone for good--or are his powers back? If so, why? What does it mean? And how must he keep this knowledge a secret without betraying Basil and others who trust him?

I had a lot of fun reading this novel. The story moves quickly, the characters are all distinct with their own quirks and personalities and Griffin is truly sympathetic--moody, hot-tempered and impulsive yet with a kind and courageous heart. Karchut does a good job with her teen-friendly prose and her voice is fresh and engaging. After I finished reading the novel I felt an urge to get myself a copy of the first book to see how it all started. So the main characters are definitely ones to root for. Griffin's Fire will appeal to both boy and girl teens and to angel-fiction fans in general. Recommended

Don't Cry, Daddy's Here
White Bird Publications
P.O. Box 586, Diana, Texas 75640
0982802463, $14.95,

Don't Cry, Daddy's Here: One Woman's Journey to Recovery from Incest is a deeply disturbing memoir. At the same time it is an important book, one that offers a strong message of hope and renewal to victims of this terrible crime.

"My decision to write this book came from a deep desire to say, 'You are not alone.' I share some of my memories and some lessons I have learned to aid me in living a happier life," writes Carey.

In her candid, honest voice and simple, straight-forward style, the author tells us what her childhood and teen years were like. It was hell, being abused by a manipulative father and raised by a mother who often beat her with a belt yet at the same time was--or seemed to be--completely oblivious and unaware of what was going on in her household.

While reading the book, I couldn't decide whether I was more angry and disgusted at the father or at the mother. What makes me even more revolted is the fact that some of the relatives knew what was going on but never said or did anything to help. It's so hard to accept that this kind of situation happens all the time. This is a brave, poignant account of a victim finally shouting out to the world the horrors of incest and its often inevitable consequences such as teen pregnancy and prostitution.

All I can say is that I take my hat off to this courageous author for having written this memoir. Don't Cry, Daddy's Here includes a lot of practical information and resources for victims. If you're a victim of incest or you know someone who is, I recommend this book. If you suspect someone of being a victim, this is the right book for you as well. The author includes various checklists for signs, prevention and aftereffects.

The Realms of Animar
Owen Black
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515
Parker, CO 80134
1432786601, $16.95,

The Realms of Animar is an enjoyable read, one that will appeal to teens who are fans of fantasy and science fiction.

Set in a world where people have two forms, one human and one animal, this is the story of Thane, a teenage boy whose life is suddenly turned upside down when his animal form unexpectedly transforms into something never seen before. Filled with immense power, he now holds the key to the future of Animar and to saving his people from struggle and oppression. But Fatalis, the evil force who plans to rule Animar, learns about Thane and creates an army to destroy him and anybody who gets in the way of his plan. In order to fight Fatalis, Thane seeks the help of other beings, the Avians and Aquans. In a twist of fate, the hunters and the hunted must get together to save their world.

Though the beginning was kind of slow, with a lot of information being presented by dialogue, I was intrigued with the story enough to keep reading. The author does a fairly good job in creating his medieval world--which, by the way, doesn't have dragons, elves or magic like so many other books in this genre nowadays--and dividing it into five realms: Herbivore, Carnic, Avian, Aquan and Reptilian. I enjoyed the action, battle scenes, and watching Thane grow into a brave, fearless warrior and hero. Though it has some violence, the language and other aspects make this book appropriate for the lower young adult crowd and even for middle graders. Recommended for readers 11 & up.

Cheerage Fearage
Kimberly Dana
Wild Child Publishing
PO Box 4897, Culver City, CA 90231
B007OZH5XO, $3.99,

Kimberly Dana's latest book will bring hours of reading pleasure to teen girls, especially those with a particular interest in cheerleading.

Years ago, a murder was committed in a cheerleading camp: a beautiful teenager with beautiful red flowing hair was drowned in the lake. Rumors say the killer was her best friend.

Now, ten years later, our witty protagonist Tiki Tinklemeyer is put in the same camp by her parents, who want their daughter to become more social and outgoing. But Tiki couldn't hate the situation more. She feels awkward and out of place, to say the least. She's not into fashion, makeup and boys, like the other girls in the camp. Worst of all, she's never done cheerleading in her life! How could her parents have been so cruel? How will she possibly fit in? Thank God, one of her roommates, Rubi, turns out to be rather nice.

Soon, Tiki finds out about the ten-year old murder and the rumors that the dead girl's ghost still roams the camp. Tiki can handle rumors of ghosts. After all, she's an intelligent girl with common sense. However, things take a turn for the worse when strange events begin to take place in the camp. Is it one of the girls playing a trick on her--or is it the ghost of the murdered girl?

This was a delightful read! Dana really has a talent for getting inside the head of teen girls. The voice is young and fresh and the pace moves quickly with lots of fun, quirky dialogue. So this is a soft horror story with a humorous twist. The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading throughout and the ending was good, promising more to come in book II. The only thing I found a little annoying was how the author wrote in capitals some of the dialogue by some of the girls. At times it was too much and I found it distracting. Because of this detail, I'm going to give this book 4.5 instead of 5. Recommended!

Mayra Calvani

Peggy's Bookshelf

Evolution for Young Minds
Flemming Bermann
Strategic Book Publishing
12620 FM 1960, Suite A4-507, Houston, TX 77065
9781618970046, $17.50,

"Evolution for Young Minds: An Evolution and Natural Selection Guide for Young Children" offers an introduction to a complex and controversial subject that is original and - dare I say - entertaining. From genes to evolution to natural selection, children learn to explore the nearest things in nature in order to understand the big picture. This book dispenses with boring textbook science and presents the history of the planet and the evolution of the animal world with the help of colorful photographs, illustrations, diagrams, even fun puzzles. Young minds can test their skills at simple gene-mapping and find out how elephants as a species are fooling the poachers.

Each chapter covers one topic on one page and is followed by a set of questions called, "Dean and Lisa's Learning Check". For teachers and parents who are looking for an interactive approach to natural science this book serves as a unit outline, complete with a glossary and two hands-on experiments, all of which is guaranteed to keep students fascinated. "Evolution for Young Minds" puts the fun in natural science.

The Secret of My-Myst
Mike DiCerto
Zumaya Publications
1105 Nueces St., Suite 3
Austin, Texas 78701
9781612710921, $14.99,

"The Secret of My-Myst" is Book 2 in the Adventures of Rupert Starbright series. And Mike DiCerto does not disappoint. We jump back into the thick of it with our hero, Rupert and his companion Dream Weaver. The evil Murkus still enslaves the children of Far-Myst while his darkness spreads across the land. He is more terrifying and powerful than ever before as a flame-throwing, winged Dragon Lord. Rupert is still trying to make his way home to Graysland. On a quick trip to the outhouse, Rupert crosses paths with Quix and Xerks, Murkus's boy soldiers. They lure him into the Wildness with the promise of finding the treatmentia bush to cure his grandmother's coffus. After all, the only reason he even came to this bizarre-o-land was to help his grandmother, who happens to be a very wise woman. But now he's stuck here.

As much as I would like to go on and on about this captivating tale, you really must enter the mysterious land of My-Myst with Rupert and meet the shape-shifting Truseens for yourself. Be prepared to lose all contact with the outside world while immersed in this mesmerizing adventure. Once again imagination plays a major role - which I love. Amazing things are learned about the Weaver kids. And the path to victory does not necessarily mean destroying the enemy.

The Adventures of Rupert Starbright is a top-notch, original fantasy series. For all the questions "The Door to Far-Myst" (Book 1) asked, "The Secret of My-Myst" answers - then asks some more. Along his journey this time, Rupert discovers a connection between Graysland and the strange lands of Far-Myst and My-Myst. See if you can figure it out. I'm pretty sure the answer will come in Book 3. I confess, I'm hooked on Rupert Starbright.

Bronto and the Pterodactyl Eggs
Charlotte Vivian Rodenberg
Craigmore Creations
2900 SE Stark St, Suite 1A
Portland, OR 97214
9780984442249, $14.99,

One day while munching leaves on the treetops, Bronto the Apatosaurus discovers a nest of blue eggs. Bronto is kind and smart. He lives in the Jurassic Period and knows there are many things that could harm the little eggs. He protects them during the long night but he dreams about a great volcano. The next day while he searches for the mother pterodactyl the earth shakes and the volcano erupts. Bronto hurries back to the tree with a good idea to rescue the eggs. Rodenberg's impressive watercolor and ink illustrations animate earth's lush and rapidly evolving landscape with vibrancy and color. "Bronto and the Pterodactyl Eggs" is sweet story that shows the importance of helping the weakest ones through a dangerous and changing world. Young dinosaur fanatics will fall in love with big-hearted Bronto.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

The Time in Between
Maria Duenas
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020
1451616880, $26.00,

Sira lives during an explosive time, The Time in Between, in world history. As a young woman under her mother's tutelage, Sira had become an expert seamstress creating the most admired and modern fashions of that time. Her skilled needled fingers created garments sought by those willing to pay for exotic dress ware.

At the same time, swept off her feet by a man who would sweep away huge sums and jewels she had just inherited from a father she'd never met, Sira moves with this lover to Tetuan across the Straight of Gibralter at a time when Hitler's henchmen are quickly infiltrating the Spanish government, planting seeds of unrest in favor of eventual complete Nazi occupation and dominion.

With time she realizes that the man she thought she admired and adored has unwittingly used her very own fortune to continue his high-living amidst Spanish nobility including any other high-lifers who immediately accept him, and his seemingly endless supply of funds, none of which are really his. They belong to Sira.

The Time in Between reveals how Sira, fortified with her own ingenuity and with the help of her compassionate landlady and several female conspirators who damn Nazi occupation, she sets up her own chic seamstress workshop - Chez Cirah. In here, Nazi woman seek the latest clothing fashions in northern Africa and are willing to pay plentifully for them. At the same time, speech in Sira's seamstress shop runs freely, particularly among the proud Nazi wives and mistresses of moneyed high ranking Nazi military officials.

At any second, betrayal looms. Yet sophisticated Sira remains faithful to her father in Spain who bestowed upon her, her misspent and/or stolen wealth. She begins to work for the English underground. Her shop is a prime location for overhearing and instigating Nazi women to talk of Hitler's intended plans for world domination.

Filled with constant anxiety and extreme fear lest she be caught and murdered, Sira sews disclosed secret plans into the hems of her beautiful creations in the form of Morse Code. These garments, of course, reach England and are critically helpful in eliminating political conspiracies and obscure secret missions.

What will happen to this brave woman who dares, in one sense, to play both sides against the middle? This tale of betrayal, honor, and un-waving courage I will leave to the reader of The Time in Between. Author Maria Duenas has done a remarkable job keeping her book focused, wandering only far enough away from its theme, to give readers information regarding times, places, and the deep emotions of those involved.

I would recommend The Time in Between to all readers who love stories of spying, high intrigue, fear, dishonor, and ultimately - love. The book is 612 pages long, but the story moves quickly. I must confess that I found myself skipping some long paragraphs that seemed to provide just a bit too much detail to move the story along.

All in all, The Time in Between by Maria Duenas will not disappoint. It will transport the reader back to an era between two world wars - a time of warfare that eventually plagued most of the civilized world. The story is clever because it shows the length and breath the spirit of Sira, always seeking love, was willing to chance in order to stop an age of tyranny.

A Gift for My Sister
Ann Pearlman
Emily Bestler Books
c/o Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439159491, $24.99,

In this imaginative story, A Gift for My Sister, two half sisters learn how lovingly human the other is through incidents that would seem to drive them apart. Young Tara becomes pregnant while still in high school and runs off with the leader of a rap band. Her personality and hip language would, in so many ways, remind the reader of a deliberately belligerent uncouth teen striking out with pounding rap to show the world just how totally experienced and independent she is.

Like so many confrontational youth of Tara's type who broadcast through music that they have tasted life's full potential when in fact, what she's tasted is the thinnest wedge life's pie has to offer, Tara and her child moves around with her rap friends. But this woman is lucky. Both she and her musical group are, indeed, talented. They are arriving at the very edge of success through various triumphal on-stage tours.

In A Gift for My Sister, Sky's personality is the exact archetype of Tara's rebellious, in many ways - unpleasant - character. Sky lives in a splendid townhouse along beautiful beachfront property. She has reached success as an outstanding lawyer. Like her sister, Sky, also, has a child by a faithful husband she adores. To this woman, husband and child mean everything. She has arrived at the pinnacle of success and hopes to stay there.

But Sky's success is short-lived. Because of financial reasons, the law firm that employs her must shrink its size. Her job is eliminated. Next, Sky finds that the husband she cannot live without has contracted some type of MRSA. Hospital technicians and laboratory chemists are unable to design a type of antibiotic to counterattack what seemed, at first, to be a small local skin infection, but it spreads rapidly. The methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) cannot be killed. Sky will die and does.

In a very touching scene in the hospital, Sky's dying husband makes her sister Tara vow to take care of Sky who will certainly need comfort and support. Now the two sisters' personalities are forced together. At first, Tara treats Sky with appropriate pity and Sky accepts it. It is necessary. But sooner or later, pity alone will not provide a successful lifestyle for two sisters. In A Gift for My Sister, Conflict arises as surely as the friction between two pieces of sandpaper.

Here is where this reviewer will leave the reader to discover for her/himself how these two sisters eventually deal with their own lives. Will the opposition between their characters dissolve, or will genuine soul searching force each sister to simply go her own way?

All in all, the characters in A Gift for My Sister are very well developed, so much so, that I found Tara's immature personality disagreeable from the beginning of the book. Sky, on the other hand, seemed to fit my idea of an adult. I would recommend this book to any reader seeking a story where audacity and courage force two very different women to uncover their inner souls and continue on.

Regis Schilken, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

10 Amazing Muslims Touched by God
Faisal Malick
Ambient Press
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441161, $15.99,

Stories of Muslims Impacted by Christianity

Faisal Malick has compiled the testimonies of ten Muslims supernaturally stirred by the Christian message that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God and savior. "10 Amazing Muslims Touched by God" contains stories of individuals practicing the traditions of the Sunni, and Shiite lifestyles forsaking Islam to become followers of Jesus. Other accounts examine the mindset of a Muslim Jihadist and other radical cults as they relate their own supernatural experiences once receiving the revelation of truth through the scriptures.

Each of the ten dramatic stories in this compilation are accompanied by commentary from the editor Faisal Malick explaining and reinforcing foundational truths of the Gospel and an invitation and suggested prayer to guide the reader to receive Christ as their savior.

The testimonies are written with clarity, and a strong emphasis on recognizing Jesus Christ as the true Son of God as the basis for salvation, eternal life, assurance of eternal life. They tell of personal supernatural experiences, dreams, visions, miracles, and other circumstances that bear evidence of the personal touch of God on their lives. Reports of the fruit of these conversions express the ripple effect as individual Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and atheists have found Christ to be the answer.

Malick's commentary is highly informative: I was interested to learn of the differences between the Sunni and Shiite and of the various echelons of status, of their values, and of intellectual motivations. I found another interesting concept which reveals the motivation for becoming Christian: One writer described his reason for leaving Islam for Jesus this way: "...not as a punishment as an apostate, but rather as the redemption of one's soul." The stories bear evidence of the hunger of must Muslims to know more of truth and of their longing to be closer to God.

"10 Amazing Muslims Touched by God" is relevant, timely, and important. The book serves as a revelation to Christians of the open door of opportunity to clearly demonstrate God's love to Muslims in these explosive times, and as an invitation to Muslim seekers to find the Christ of Christianity.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Breaking Free, To Live the Promise of Abundant Life
Tom Hauser
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
97807684471215, $14.99

A Life, Calling, and Pursuit - A Ministry of Healing and Deliverance

"Breaking Free, To Live the Promise of Abundant Life" is Tom Hauser's story. Tom begins by sharing a glimpse into an unlikely calling and insights into the progression of his life from:

A turbulent childhood
A dependence on logic and a successful nuclear science career
A supernatural radical change of heart, lifestyle, and rebirth
An intentional pursuit for more of God
Ministry in Brazil and Mozambique

The stories of miracles of salvation, deliverance, of spiritual conflict and supernatural victory in real life battles in spiritual warfare are powerful, heartening, exciting, and inspiring.

In part two Hauser provides the reader with important principles for "Breaking Free" and claiming the promise of abundant life. I found the chapters dealing with dispelling myths, starting a healing ministry and important guideline for starting a prayer ministry especially helpful.

Hauser's writes with clarity, insight, and conviction. The format of the book is clearly reader friendly with a comfortable font, subject titles, numbered guidelines, bulleted topical development, and an easy to follow well organized outline approach.

"Breaking Free, To Live the Promise of Abundant Life" is filled with biblical teaching, practical instruction, and powerful spirit filled testimonies.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Born to Create: Stepping into Your Supernatural Destiny
Theresa Dedmon
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441437, $16.99

Creativity - The Untapped Resource of Releasing Supernatural Power

In her book "Born to Create: Stepping into Your Supernatural Destiny" Theresa Dedmon provides the reader with practical steps to empowered ministry by awakening and releasing the creativity within.

The book includes testimonies of:

Transformed individuals who have tapped into experiencing the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit
Stories of Churches around the world revived and renewed, demonstrating Holy Spirit power Supernatural anointing
Spiritual restoration

Practical principles are drawn from examples found in the scriptures. Dedmon establishes guidelines for developing prophetic ministry, describes creative concepts for challenging others to use their creativity in areas of worship, ministries of healing, and supernatural living through the use of encounter rooms, prophetic destiny arts, and the performing arts. I found the application exercises stimulating and helpful for releasing, developing, and practicing my own creative destiny.

Theresa Dedmon has a unique ministry teaching supernatural creativity at the Bethel-Redding School of Ministry. Her work is endorsed by nationally acclaimed Christian leaders. She writes with enthusiasm, conviction, and passion. "Born to Create" opens the door to untapped resources of creativity in areas of supernatural living.

An important resources section provides guidelines and step by step instruction for:

Making Prophetic Art Piece for Small Groups
A Prophetic Art Treasure Hunt
Prophetic Meanings for Colors Chart
Cultivating Supernatural Creativity in Children Guide

"Born to Create: Stepping into Your Supernatural Destiny" is a powerful resource tool for anyone wanting to fan into flame their personal spiritual creativity. It is also an ideal training guide and for pastors, worship leaders and other lay leaders to encourage others to release their creative potential.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Why Jesus Appears to People Today
Mel Bond
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441178, $14.99

Dreams, Visions, and Visitations from Jesus

In his book "Why Jesus Appears to People Today: A Biblical Understanding" Mel Bond draws from his personal experiences to vividly testify of nine of these visitations and their intended purposes and a message from each appearance.

In easy to understand language Bond provides simple instructions through an in depth presentation of the scriptures dealing with miracles, dreams, visions, spiritual warfare, and supernatural visitations with Jesus. Bond's writing corroborates his serious study of the Bible, his grasp of the Biblical languages, and of his biblical understanding.

Bond maintains that: "All people can learn to be spiritually minded and have visions and spiritual encounters." He leads the reader through an important study on visions explaining the Hebrew and Greek meaning of four different kinds of visions and the dispensation of visions. He challenges the reader to carefully continue an in depth study of the material.

Adherents of a dispensational interpretation of Biblical truth may find Bond's stand difficult to accept. It is always important to keep an open mind and to rely on the Holy Spirit's discernment in matters of scriptural enlightenment.

"Why Jesus Appears to People Today" is a stirring reminder of the unconditional love of God and the important truth that from the day of creating the first man, Adam, God has been desirous of a close communion and an intimate fellowship in the presence of his creation.

A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Fasting and Prayer: God's Nuclear Power
Steven Brooks
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441154, $15.99

Blueprint for Building a Strong Foundation of Prayer and Fasting

Steven Brooks develops parallels between nuclear energy and the power gained through fasting and prayer in his book "Fasting and Prayer: God's Nuclear Power."

The book is packed with:

Biblically based illustrations from carefully selected passages that demonstrate the concept and power of fasting and prayer
Inspirational quotes from well know Christians and prayer warriors
Testimonies of answered prayer, healing, and deliverance
Personal experiences expressing evidence of God's miraculous intervention
Fascinating stories of God's working following purposeful extended sessions of fasting and prayer
Well documented research
Incidences of responses to the Gospel Message for salvation

Along with a prophetic word to the reader, instruction on the art of waiting on the Lord, Steve's own "21 Day Fast Diary," are a discussion on "Remembering the Poor," a warning of the place of doubt in prayer, and potential problems and precautions to consider before beginning an extended fast.

Steve Brook's life bears witness to the reality of his message. His writing is clear, crisp, and articulate, forward moving, a writing style that engages the reader, and motivates a positive proactive response.

"Fasting and Prayer: God's Nuclear Power" is a convincing call for concerned Christians to take the challenge and intentionally fast and pray in preparation for a specific need, a unique purpose, or an upcoming event.

A truly engaging and meaningful reading experience. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Glory Within: The Interior Life and the Power of Speaking in Tongues
Corey Russell
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441239, $15.99

A Look at the Potential Power of Exercising Your Personal Prayer Language

"The Glory Within: The Interior Life and the Power of Speaking in Tongues" describes a deeper relationship with Jesus in a growing intimacy through withdrawing to meet God inwardly. The narrative begins with a dramatic, powerful personal testimony of Corey's conversion, including a comprehensive look into what transpires at the time we are bon into the family of God, and the progression of experiencing fellowship and communion with Christ, and moving on to a fullness of the inner life, through meditation and a dialog with the spirit.

Russell unveils an incredible revelation into the nature, character and glory of God. I was captured by the thought of looking into the devotional life of the Apostle Paul - and amazing concept - what better example to follow?

The theme of the book concentrates on only one aspect of the doctrine of tongues as seen in the New Testament. Corey looks at benefits of Speaking in Tongues as a devotional prayer language.
These include:

To connect you to the heart of God
To build you up and to strengthen and edify your spirit
To give you a key to unlocking the power of God in your prayers
To enable you to stand against the wiles of the devil in spiritual warfare
For your sanctification

He also includes an excellent study on the roles of the Holy Spirit. Russell writes with: authority and clarity. He thoughts are insightful transformational, practical, and life changing. His life and writing are endorsed by, highly respected, well known leaders in prayer ministries within the Charismatic community.

"The Glory Within" delivers God's invitation to join His inner circle - in conversation and dialog with the Trinity. Be ready to be blessed with an intense reading experience.

A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

7 Secrets of a Phenomenal Life
Howard Partridge
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9781937879006, $14.99,

A Guiding Principle - A Spiritual Focus for Life

Howard Partridge challenges the reader to discover their individual inherent worth through universal principles of life and creation using the illustration of "The Wheel of Life with its Seven Spokes" in his book "7 Secrets of a Phenomenal Life."

Over the years I have read a number of motivational books that have introduced important principles and solutions in specific areas of self-help, leadership roles, and success in business. Often the principles are similar or the same simply repackaged in a new format. I have found these helpful in reinforcing and restating applications which I have already established or have put into practice on a regular basis. Howard adds an excitement in his fresh approach with a focus on the balanced life. He concentrates on seven important aspects necessary for success in both business and personal life.

The format of this book is designed for ease in reading, assimilation, application, study, reflection and taking action. I particularly liked his various sequences of clearly numbered tips and steps, his pithy quotes, his effective use of acronyms, and his use of charts and graphs to illustrate the narrative.

"7 Secrets of a Phenomenal Life" is powerful in presentation of practical principles and successful steps for establishing a phenomenal life. Highly motivating.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

God and Psychobabble
Kathy Martin
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17527-0310
9780768441222, $15.99

Biblical Truth Refutes Pop Psychology

"God and Psychobabble" explores, exposes, and refutes the popular deceptions being promoted in today's culture that lead to bondage, anxiety, and resentment under the guise of finding "success and happiness." Kathy Martin points the reader to a journey of hope through answers leading to abundant life.

Martin explores how establishing a right relationship with God is the only way to find true answers for individuals who are struggling with:


Issues of: Pschogenic Illnesses, Psychoneuroimmunology, panic attacks, and Agoraphobia are all described, as well as the side effects these have on our physical body's functions.

Each chapter includes illustrations drawn from real life to illustrate misconceptions, truths, and information. The narrative also includes instruction, suggests actions that can be taken to achieve freedom from these maladies. These principles are re-enforced with thought provoking interactive questions for discussion, reflection, and action. These questions are designed to be used on an individual basis, in a one on one in a mentoring or counseling relationship, or in as a group study or in support group environment.

Martin writes with a simplicity and clarity that allows the reader to understand otherwise complex psychological principles which often lead to misconceptions and confusion which keep individuals in emotional bondage.

"God and Psychobabble" replaces the momentary relief, feel good remedies, and the quick fixes offered in today's culture by TV Reality shows and highly rated TV personalities. Martin presents Biblical truth which leads to freedom allowing the reader to experiencing the joy of an abundant life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Etz Chaim: the Tree of Life
Eric E. Walker
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441246, $15.99

A Messianic Understanding of the End Time Teachings of the Torah

Messianic Rabbi Eric E. Walker introduces his book "Etz Chaim: the Tree of Life" with lessons from Genesis, Psalms, Jeremiah, as well as the gospels of Mark and John, and Revelation. He guides the reader through seven lessons learned from the "ground." These lessons include profound questions for personal consideration, beautiful illustrative artwork, practical exercises for application, and comprehensive end notes which lend themselves to further reading and additional study.

Walker provides practical, easy to understand instructions for abundant living from the Torah. The book is presented in the form of an inspired parable. The seven chapters are based on the seven aspects of the Tree of Life: The ground, the seed, the roots, the trunk, the branches, the leaves, and the fruit. Each chapter culminates with seven life-changing conclusions drawn from seven lessons, broken down into seven parts, with seven exercises at the end of each part.

Walker delivers a powerful message challenging the reader to a personal examination of their spiritual status as a Christian in a writing style that is simple yet profound. It is inspirational and motivational.

Etz Chaim: the Tree of Life is Biblically based, true to the scriptures, providing understanding, offering hope, while revealing the end times teaching of the Torah.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

God's Divine Design for Dating and Marriage: A Perfect Love for Imperfect People
Chrystal Armstrong
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768439151, $16.99

A Blueprint for Rebuilding God's Radical Relationship Revolution

"God's Divine Design for Dating and Marriage" provides a step-by-step blueprint for building relationships according to God intended pattern, for dating, marriage, and sexuality. Chrystal Armstrong parallels God's systematic model of the tabernacle in the Old Testament to demonstrate His love for His chosen people with His New Testament design for love and marriage, a plan which is still relevant and applicable today. Chrystal redefines "love as divine, marriage as beautiful, and sex as sacred."

Candidly transparent Chrystal shares experiences of her own failures and frustrations through personal anecdotes. She also uses illustrations and stories of other individuals that reflect the pitfalls of relying on cultural influences and practices.

She warns of:
The impact of television on morality
The bold disrespect for the sanctity of sex in the lyrics of popular rap music
Demonic Influence
Dysfunctional relationships

She presents positive patterns for:
Comparing real love with its counterpart counterfeit love
Marriage love in light of covenant love and typology of the tabernacle
A systematic approach to courtship and marriage

Armstrong's work is thoroughly researched, well documented, articulate, and sometimes explicit. The book is an important expose and eye opening report for contemporary Christians. "God's Divine Design for Dating and Marriage" is a book for everyone: single, engaged, married, divorced, or separated.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Love Story: How God Pursued Me and Found Me
Samantha Ryan Chandler
Crossbooks Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781615077588, $11.95,

A Journey of Tribulation

"A Love Story: How God Pursued Me and Found Me" is the story of Samantha Ryan Chandler's spiritual journey. A journey filled with hatred, betrayal, abuse, greed, and fear. It is also a story of emotional healing, enlightenment, forgiveness, and revelation.

Chandler writes from her heart, opening her soul to the reader to a point of being vulnerable, and misjudged. She acknowledges her literary limitations. This lack may frustrate some readers as the format at times is confusing. She relates her story as a memoir, records personal observations and opinions on life, in short chapters, filled with proverb like quips, and Biblical concepts. Some readers will miss her subtle sense of humor.

Samantha briefly introduces episodes from her early life, of poverty, abuse, and brokenness. She goes on to tell of being unfulfilled in a marriage of over twenty years, the birth of her three daughters, and of abuse from her husband, that ultimately lead to separation, divorce, and of losing her children. She describes how God lifted her out of her period of deepest despair to give her spiritual healing and victory.

I was personally touched by the heartwarming stories of the ministry of Children's Cross Connection, a ministry she co-founded, which ministered to hundreds of children with life crippling and life threatening ailments and afflictions from Third World countries, who were brought to the United States for donated surgeries.

It Chandler's prayer that her book, "A Love Story: How God Pursued Me and Found Me" will be an encouragement to many who, like her, are in the midst of their own journey through tribulation.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Warding Off Demonic Attacks in Jesus Name
Dr. Robert Peprah-Gyamfi
Thank You Jesus Books
P. O. Box 8505, Loughborough, LE11 9BZ, UK
97809570780417, $14.99

Divine Intervention and Healing in the Midst of Spiritual Warfare

"Warding Off Demonic Attacks in Jesus Name" is the amazing testimony of Dr. Robert Peprah-Gyamfi of his salvation, his medical training, and his call to writing. The book is divided into two parts. Part One gives a glimpse in to the author's background and the events leading up to his "Amazing Testimony of Divine Intervention in Our Time."

Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi, medical doctor and author of numerous books on modern Ghana, tells of his call and passion for writing. He shares from his heart as he candidly tells of the struggles to get his books into the hands of his potential readers. Every writer will identify with this part of his story.

Over the years Robert persevered in the face of discouraging deterrents within the publishing industry as well as experiencing excessive financial loss. On the threshold of publishing success and attaining recognition for his books through the potential of large scale distribution, Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi is met with spiritual opposition in the form of attacks on his body, including burning-flesh sensations, dizziness, and an irregular racing heart rate.

After extensive medical testing provided no physical reason for these symptoms Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi attributes them to combat with demonic forces and Spiritual warfare seeking which were seeking to destroy him physically, discourage him emotionally, and bring to an end his calling as a writer, and the eradicate the impact of his message.

"Warding Off Demonic Attacks in Jesus Name" reveals how Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi chooses to call on Jesus in a desperate prayer, to preserve his life, for physical healing, and to enable him to provide for the financial needs of his family.

Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi's writing is engaging, entertaining, and instructive. I appreciated his insight into the publishing industry, and became highly interested in his explanations of medical terms, heart issues, and the steps he used in confronting spiritual warfare.

"Warding Off Demonic Attacks in Jesus Name" is an important and timely book for anyone experiencing demonic attacks or confronted by the techniques used by Satan to discourage and defeat Christians and their effectiveness in ministry.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Satan Thinks in Black and White - Racism in the Congregations of America
Ronald B. Jimmerson, Sr.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S, Parker Rd. - 515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432782467, $14.95,

Satan's Strategy to Create a Schism in the Church - Racial Separation on Sundays

In his book "Satan Thinks in Black and White - Racism in the Congregations of America" Ronald B. Jimmerson, Sr. maintains that the first step toward stamping out racism in America is to understand the root causes that have resulted in the indoctrination of discrimination and prejudice prevalent in America today. Jimmerson challenges the Christian church to take the lead in building trust and unity truth, confession and forgiveness by actively addressing these issues.

Jimmerson's writing is confrontational and disturbing, thought provoking and convicting. The format of the book is compact with a balance of narrative, illustrations, and topical headings. The copious use of Biblical references adds to the value of the book as a resource tool for future individual or group study.

The reader is encouraged to take a stand against racist ideas and to move along the continuum of the Christian Walk from being a natural, carnal, or social Christian to a Spiritual Christian acting in accordance with the Biblical principles intended by God.

"Satan Thinks in Black and White - Racism in the Congregations of America" takes a serious look at the inroads of Satan's influence on the American church, culture, and history.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Reviewer

Riva's Bookshelf

Imago Chronicles Book Seven: The Broken Covenant
Lorna T. Suzuki
Amazon Digital Publishing
9780986724015, $18.99 pbk. / $3.99 Kindle

With The Broken Covenant Lorna T. Suzuki brings the tale of Nayla and the men of the Order to a close. This is perhaps the darkest of the books that comprise the Imago Chronicles, but it was, as always impossible to put down.

Suzuki's skill is amazing. She brings out the best, and the worst, in her characters and there is so much action going on one wonders how she manages to maintain this level of intensity consistently throughout the books. The fight and battle scenes are realistic and Lorna goes on what she described as a "killing spree" wiping favorite characters off the canvas for good. It was heartbreaking and I cried to see some of my favorites die, or suffer irreparable harm.

As well as killing off some favorite characters Suzuki introduces a very interesting group of villains. I loved her inventiveness with this aspect of the storyline. It was really believable and I found it led to so many fascinating new complications for the characters.

I found myself holding my breath time after time as beloved characters faced one life or death situation after another. I knew some characters wouldn't survive the book and that suspense made the reading of The Broken Covenant even more captivating. I found myself literally holding my breath in scene after scene and crying in many of them.

I have enjoyed every minute I've spent in the pages of the Imago Chronicles from when we first meet Nayla Treeborn to the sorrowful passing of beloved characters. I think Suzuki has created a fantasy world that will endure and be loved by future generations, especially since the first three novels have been optioned for production as a motion picture. This will introduce Nayla to future readers and will help establish Imago Chronicles among fantasy books you simply must read, which is precisely where it belongs.

Also available from Barnes and Noble (2940032997832, $3.99) and from Smashwords in multiple formats ($3.99).

In Leah's Wake
Terri Giuliano Long
Inspired Quill Publishing
9780615608327, $15.95 pbk. / $2.99 eBook

In Leah's Wake is an astounding story of a family in transition due to the troubling changes in their daughter Leah. Leah, once captain of the soccer team and an A student has begun a slow downward slide into the dark world of drugs. She has a boyfriend, Todd, who was busted for drugs in the past and who her parents have warned her about, demanding she stay away from him, but their demands, actions and accusations just push her closer and closer to Todd, and deepen her commitment to this troubled man a few years older than she is.

It's not just Leah's story, it's the entire family's story, showing what Leah's parents and sister are going through the entire time all of this is going on. There are touching scenes and there are scenes so that leave you aching for the people in them. Leah's descent into drug abuse, her problems at school and her deteriorating relationship with her family are all told realistically. You don't have to work hard to enter Will, Zoe, Justine and Leah's world because of this. You just turn the pages and you're there with them as they all go through this.

I stayed up till 3 a.m. the night I finished this book because I had to know what was going to happen. I literally could not have slept without knowing how the story was going to end and what was going to happen to all of them. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the book where everyone still believes things will turn around and Leah will return to being the child they all know and love:

Leah was proud of her mom. She looked so professional, standing by the podium with her flip chart. As Zoe talked, she jotted down bullets, her audience scribbling furiously on their notepads. Weeds in every garden? The advice was cheesy, unoriginal, and yet, maybe because her mother put so much of herself in her words, she sounded totally convincing.

As the afternoon wore on, people opened up. They talked about their lives, their long-term goals, the changes they intended to make after the workshop. . . The woman beside Leah leapt out of her seat. "I'm cleaning out the refrigerator," she announced. "The instant I get home." The woman pumped her fist and everyone cheered. "I'm ordering flyers for my business," shouted somebody else. Finishing my degree. Traveling to Italy. Getting my realtor's license. Quit biting my nails, Leah vowed silently. Be my own person.

On the way home, Zoe's daughter said, "I'm impressed, Ma." They were stopped at an intersection, waiting for the light to change. Zoe looked at her daughter and smiled. "Thank you, honey. That's sweet." This is my real daughter, she thought. This is my Leah.

"I mean it." Leah turned the radio up. "You're great with them." Why on Earth were she and Leah always fighting? It was absurd. Look at them now. It was easy to get along. It's all about listening, Zoe thought, congratulating herself on her insight. And mutual respect.

I highly recommend In Leah's Wake. I know it is a book I will revisit time and time again.

Never Gonna Let You Go
Jessica Subject
Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
B00737R2PE $3.99,

Jessica Subject is becoming a master when it comes to writing hot, erotic romances. In Never Gonna Let You Go Calla is assigned to an outpost on the planet Airondelle. She is to investigate the plant and animal life to see if the planet is suitable for humans and if they could be self-sustaining if they lived there. Calla loves her job as a biologist for Planet Core, but she's not as thrilled about this assignment as she could be because her former lover Erik Edwards is on the same planet. Erik was supposed to be waiting for Calla until after this assignment; instead he went and got married to the woman in command of this operation! While Erik and Melina are divorced now, Calla is still hurt and Erik has changed. He's always distant and angry with Calla. Defeated and overwhelmed Calla finds love in the most unexpected place - with Erik's ex-wife.

This is a tangled trio that only gets more so when an accident happens and Erik's protective side begins to show again. Calla begins to discover that things may not be what they seem to be and she starts to question who, if anyone, she can trust.

I really enjoyed the way Jessica Subject wrote this book. The scenes were hot and well-written. Calla comes across clearly as a hurt woman looking for love and the characters of Melina and Erik are very believable. The love triangle is unusual but through her writing and story development Subject makes it believable. She also does a good job with the development of the planet Airondelle. It is habitable by humans but poses unseen risks that make you aware of the fact you can't let your guard down physically, mentally or emotionally because you never know what previously unknown factor is waiting for you around the bend.

While Never Gonna Let You Go is complete in and of itself, Subject leaves some tantalizing loose ends I would love to see developed in future books taking place on Airondelle. If you like hot, sexy erotic romances then this is a book for you.

The Sacred Path of Tears
M.B. Tosi
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781449721688, $13.95 pbk. / $7.69 Kindle

The Sacred Path of Tears by M.B. Tosi is the story of a young Cheyenne girl named Mokee who at age fifteen is already afraid of war when she ends up witnessing the Sand Creek Massacre while in the company of her best friend, a young Cheyenne warrior named Tovee. Mokee and Tovee spread the word to all the Cheyenne camped in the region to flee because the soldiers are coming. After days of travel spreading the word, Mokee and Tovee flee eventually finding shelter after in a farmer's barn. However they fail to awaken in time to leave before the barns owners come to do their chores.

Trapped by the owners of the barn and facing a gun young Mokee uses body language and the few words of English she knows to convey the concept that they are not a threat. Eventually the stand-off is ended when the woman who owns the farm decides to shelter Tovee and Mokee from what is going on. Tovee leaves after just a few days to join the Cheyenne warriors and seek revenge for the Sand Creek Massacre. Mokee, whose skin is lighter and who could pass as a white woman, stays behind.

The owner of the farm, a good Christian woman, takes Mokee under her wing and teaches her English, how to read and about God. A lot of things happen to Mokee and to Tovee, the boy she thought she loved and would always be with. The experiences each go through changes them in ways good and bad. There are many factual historical references in this work of fiction that helps give it a ring of authenticity.

Overall I enjoyed The Sacred Path of Tears. The characters are lifelike and multidimensional. The storyline is interesting and well developed. The only thing I had an issue with was the fact that Mokee fell instantly in love with all things white and completely transformed with no apparent inner struggle between the two cultures. Other than this I enjoyed the story and I would definitely recommend it.

Mother's Heart: Book Three of the Mother-Earth Series
Alan Tucker
MAD Design, Inc
366 Adelaide Street East, Suite 225
Toronto, ON, Canada, M5A 3X9
9780982686447 $14.99,

Alan Tucker brings the story of Jenny Kershaw and her friends to a dramatic conclusion in the third installment of the Mother-Earth series, Mother's Heart.

At the end of the last book, Jenny was stranded back on earth in the company of a fire-spirit named Neseus and his daughter, an air-spirit named Xenia. Jenny was searching desperately for a way back to mother where all her friends and now even her parents are.

Eventually, after trying many different locations Jenny makes her way back to Mother. This time Jenny isn't the only human who finds a way to Mother, in fact an entire group of Army members find a way to make a portal between Earth and Mother and are there to explore the planet and exploit its resources. What they don't realize is that like every other human who has ever come to Mother they are all changing into whatever the planet will make of them. Thankfully the officer initially in charge of the team on Mother has one of his men record the changes taking place as a way to let the people back on Earth know that perhaps coming to Mother might not be the wisest decision they can make.

When Jenny makes it back to Mother she discovers herself on the opposite side of the planet from her friends and family. While there she makes friends with a young Gobinstratorai boy who is essentially a victim of forced slave labor. Jenny manages to free him, but becomes extremely aware of the fact that outside of Seren'naie, the advanced city where Jenny and her friends eventually ended their initial travels on Mother, there exists grave injustice. Realizing she has to pick her battles, Jenny has to ignore what is going on with the mind controlling class of elves and concentrate instead on getting back to her friends and family.

There is a ton of action in this book involving Jenny, her old friends and new ones, the Army and relatively new extremely dangerous threat. Mogritas is at it again and is out to destroy Mother itself this time; taking away all that makes magic thrive on the planet. Can Jenny and her friends stop him in time? Is there even a chance of winning when the battle, this time, is so stacked in favor of the opposition? I highly recommend you read this exciting YA and Middle Grade series.

Glamorous Illusions
Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764300, $14.99,

I loved Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren. It is the story of young Cora Diehl Kensington, a young woman who is simply the daughter of two hard-working farmers in the pre-World War I years of the twentieth century. Cora has been away at Normal School studying to be a teacher and returns home for the summer sabbatical. Her parents are supposed to meet her at the train station, but fail to arrive so Cora sets off the three miles to home in her neighbor's wagon. Arriving home Cora finds disaster waiting for her. It will set off a change of events in her life that Cora could have never foreseen and will take her far from the farm she has always called home.

I really loved the characterization and plot in this story. While there is certainly a love story or two running through the plot, the story is so much more than that. It is about discovering who are at your deepest core, what you value and even more importantly, all the places your faith can take you. It is a story that has a deep current of faith running through it, but it isn't pushy about it. It is simply part of the make-up of some of the characters and it is revealed through their thoughts and their natures and comes across so naturally on the page. I really admire a Christian writer who can make the point of the importance of their faith without sounding like he or she is preaching on the page and Bergren does this wonderfully.

The storyline is packed with thrills and action. It never lags or plods wearily on. It kept me engaged the entire time and I hated when I reached the end of the book. The characters are rich and multidimensional and the heroine is portrayed as real person fighting real battles that challenge the person she is and the person she will become. I honestly can't wait until Bergren comes out with the second title in this series and not just to see what else happens to the heroine, but also because there is an entire group of characters I have become involved with through this story and I can't wait to learn more of them. I solidly recommend this book.

Tracy M. Riva

Sandra's Bookshelf

A Fair to Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
Oak Tree Press
140 E Palmer Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
9781610091220, $14.95,

I have had the pleasure of reading one of the books in this series before, and I truly enjoyed it so much. Once again the author gives us vivid details sure to stimulate your senses. Her description of places in Arkansas is right on the mark.

One afternoon Carrie was singing and dancing to Neil Diamond's song's as she was about to start cooking dinner. Her husband Henry was at a meeting, and called to say he would be later than he thought.

Then a short time later she receives a call from a woman name Edie, claiming to be her cousin. Carrie was told she had a cousin, but her cousin died when she was young. Carrie could not figure out if the women really was her cousin, why did it take so long for her to contact her? What did she want or need? Or perhaps she really did just want to meet her.

As Carrie was thinking things over there was a knock at her front door. She looked out the window and saw a man she did not know standing on her porch. There was also a man sitting in a car. She opened the door just a crack and asked what he wanted. The man open his wallet and she saw a badge, but before she could read it he placed it back in his suit. He said he was with the F.B.I and wanted to ask her some questions.

This is just the beginning of a really good mystery. I could not figure the book out until the last chapter. The author has once again proved to be a master story teller.

Rated G

Field of Dead Horses
Nick Allen Brown
Harrowood Books
3943 N. Providence RD, Newtown, PA 19073
9780915180240, $16.95,

Sometimes you may get a book that starts out slow and then the book gains momentum and your interest as it goes along. Then, there can be books that get you from the first page. This book got me from the start.

Elliott Chapel owns a horse ranch that his father had started. His dad Paul Chapel was well known in the horse racing world. He trained thoroughbreds, but after the loss of his wife due to child birth he changed completely. His relationship with his son is sad, and at times makes you want to cry. A man who was filled with so much grief, that he never realized his wife's last gift to him.

Elliott and his ranch manager Booley were out mending fences when they came upon a woman who was bloody and beaten, laying face up in the shadow waters of Penny Creek. Elliott told Booley to go and call the sheriff and the doctor to come out to where the woman's body lay. But Booley told Elliott it would be better if he called the people to come out.

During the time period of this book a black man was not considered as equal to a white man. They were treated as slaves and not to be trusted. But Booley was different as he was wise and well read. To the Chapel's, Booley was family. They made him their ranch manager and he had his own home. Both things were rare in that time period for a black man.

This book defies the normal conventions of its time. Society would not accept a romance, which you will find when you read this book also.

Rated PG

Fearful Addict: 30 Degress Below
David Mitchell and Michael O'Toole
Caddis, Inc.
107 Coachway GD S.W
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
978098682177, $14.99,

Reviewed by Sandra Heptinstall and Troy Halliwell

This book gives a very interesting look at one person's fight to get rid of the addiction to nicotine and the way the author and mind fought was an interesting visit to the deeper levels of ones' mind and the war of self- doubt and self- depravation. His mental stresses' as he relapsed, and his fears would be one any smoker would recognize.

I have read a lot of articles and heard the dangers of smoking for years. I think the author approach is something anyone wanting to quit should read this first. He tells his story and it gives hope to people who have failed at quitting before.

If you have tired quitting using the patches, pills and gum and not made it then please read this book first. You really have to get your mind set for the battle to come.

This book is worth the time to read.

Rated G

Sandra Heptinstall

Suzie's Bookshelf

Because of You
Jessica Scott
c/o Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780345533869, $2.99 (Ebook)

Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison's life revolved around his career in the army. When he received divorce papers, he knew that fighting for his country had cost him his marriage. His friend Vic Carponti refused to let his best friend wallow in self-pity. He demanded that the two of them paint the town at a local bar before they were deployed to Iraq. Shane knew there was no way Carponti would allow him to bow out of the invitation so he reluctantly agreed to go with him.

Jen St. James had survived breast cancer, but the price she had paid for surviving had been losing her left breast. Her friends refused to allow Jen to close herself off from the outside world. They knew it was up to them to see that Jen got back to living a full life. They coaxed her to come with them to their favorite bar to say farewell to their husbands and friends.

At the bar, Jen encounters Shane Garrison. Shane's darkly handsome looks and sexy smile quickly melts her heart. In his presence, she forgets her loss of a breast and for once feels whole. As the two of them part, he leaves her with a kiss she will long remember.

In Iraq, Shane is gravely injured; his injuries send him back to the states and back into the arms of Jen St. James. Jen is shocked to learn her newest patient is Shane Garrison. She knows as a nurse she must maintain a professional appearance; although she can't get Shane out of her mind.

Shane is not accustomed to asking for help, but he knows that Jen is his only way to get well and walk on his own two feet. Will these two wounded souls be able to find the healing comfort they both need in each other's arms?

Jessica Scott has taken the romance world by storm with her smash debut BECAUSE OF YOU. Shane and Jen are characters that you can't help fall in love with and endure their life hardships. I was so impressed with this book, I couldn't put it down and it cost me a sleepless night as I stayed glued to its pages. October can't come soon enough for I can't wait to read the second book in this exciting series.

Other planned titles in this series include:

Until There Was You - October 2012

Back to You - TBA

Heaven is for Heroes
PJ Sharon
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463569549, $0.99,

At seventeen, Jordan "Jordie" Dunn learns of her Brother Levi's death. He served as a Marine, and lost his life while serving on a Special Op mission in Iraq. His best friend Alex 'Coop' Cooper had been with Levi during his last day; he has no memory of the event, and suffered the loss of his right leg. His injury resulted him being sent back home to recover.

The military is blaming Alex for Levi's death. Jordie is convinced that Alex is innocent of any part in her brother's death. She is intent on proving his innocence. Working with Alex brings back strong feelings of a crush she has had on him since ninth grade.

Will Alex be able to heal his mind and body to accept the love that Jordie if offering? Or will the military falsely accused him of a crime he didn't commit?

HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is one emotional packed novel. Throughout the pages you can experience the loss and heartache that the characters experience. I was highly impressed with PJ Sharon's writing style. She has written a very heartfelt young adult romance that can be enjoyed by all ages. I highly recommend her writing style to those who appreciate a book that has a lot of in-depth emotional impact that leaves a lasting impression that will not soon be forgotten.

Guilty Pleasure 5: Claimed for the Master's Pleasure
Jan Bowles
Siren BookStrand, Inc.
2500 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704
1619262894 (ebook), $5.50

When Lia Constatine fiancee died she thought her heart couldn't hurt any more, and then she suffers another loss with her father's sudden death. With her father's death she learns that he was deep in debt to casino owner Jake Benetti. She feared the debts he left behind would rob her of her inheritance and home.

Jake felt his life has ended the day his lost his wife three years prior. With her death he focused on his energy managing the Arabian Nights Casino. When Jake meets Lia Constatine her beauty takes his breath away. For the first time since his wife's death, he is able to feel an emotion other than sadness.

Lia feels that is Jake is able to hear her dilemma she might convince him to not call in the one million dollar debt her father owned. Jake knows that he must keep Lia in his life until he figures out exactly where she belongs. He makes her proposition to possess her body in both mind and soul. Will Lia agree to prostitute herself for the amount of the debt?

Jan Bowles GUILTY PLEASURE SERIES has been one series that has highly impressed this reviewer. Each story can easily stand on its own merit, but combined together produce one sizzling combustible reaction. CLAIMED FOR THE MASTER'S PLEASURE is yet another wonderful BDSM offering that Jan Bowles talented pen makes a strong impression in her readers mind. To say that this reader is in love with her writing style is an understatement.

Other titles in the Guilty Pleasure Series include:

In Debt to the Dom
Bought for the Billionaire's Bed
Tamed by the Dom
Love Slave to the Sicilian Billionaire

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

Fun House: A John Ceepak Mystery
Chris Grabenstein
Pegasus Crime
c/o Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street,5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781605983363, $25.00,

I am fairly certain that law enforcement personnel do not enjoy having a reality show in their community. Between the loyal viewers, fans, and contestants who will do anything to win, keeping within the law is not a high priority. To those people, getting their time, their fifteen-minutes of fame, is the entire purpose while they view this opportunity as having no boundaries with their belief of assured fame.

In the resort suburban town of Sea Haven, near Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the newest location for another reality sensation. This one is called Fun House. It has the typical contestants, busty, tanned, buffed, drunk, and definitely lacking compassion and intelligence. What could possibly go wrong?

John Ceepak is an experienced and ethical police officer who has a reputation for doing the right thing. I see him as a combination of James Bond and Sheriff Andy Griffith. Danny Boyle is Ceepak's partner who has the advantage of knowing his native town and many of the locals in Sea Haven. Through a chance event involving illegal steroids, Ceepak ends up being an admired policeman who seems to be part of the televised plot of the reality show. However when one of the contestants in murdered, the two also have the almost impossible task of protecting the rest of the cast while investigating at the same time.

Fun House is the seventh John Ceepak/Danny Boyle mystery by Chris Grabenstein. Mr. Grabenstein also has written children mysteries which are outstanding. This series now with Fun House, are all fast-paced with an involved intriguing story line that is somewhat predictable, but still thoroughly enjoyable.

The strength of all these novels is the characterization. As John Ceepak and Danny Boyle grow in their relationship with each other, the readers also get to know each one as a real person with a personality and some depth of the character. Ceepak is the type of person who is a natural hero. His Boy Scout ethics combined with his athleticism and military training makes the reader constantly reassured and yes, makes the storyline predictable. Danny is highly influenced by Ceepak but is more human, even flawed.

Even though Fun House is part of a series, it is also a great standalone novel. From my point-of-view, you could read this novel and then go back to read the other Ceepak novels. Also, everyone definitely needs to read Grabenstein's children's novels especially the trilogy featuring Zack Jennings.

Fun House is definitely a fun read for the summer.

The Take-Charge Patient
Martine Ehrenclou, M.A.
Lemon Grove Press
1223 Wilshire Boulevard, #1750
Santa Monica, CA 90403
9780981524030, $19.95,

Who is the one person who is most responsible for the quality of your health care? It's not your doctor. -- It's you!

When you're sick, really sick, you call the doctor. Then the average person trusts that the doctor has the correct diagnosis and then prescribes proper treatment to get you back to normal. This sounds fairly simple but in reality can be a complete nightmare, especially if the diagnosis is wrong and the prescription does not heal the real problem. What do you do then?

While writing "The Take-Charge Patient: How You Can Get the Best Medical Care", the author, Martine Ehrenclou, had developed a pain which became worse. She went to a variety of doctors which prescribed many different treatments, including surgeries.

Eventually, after many painful challenges that were literally debilitating, she was able to have a correct diagnosis and was able to have surgery to solve the initial problem. These experiences ended up being the perfect guideline for her utilizing her own recommendations to this
excellent resource.

The suggestions and information in The Take-Charge Patient are practical and realistic. The writing style is easy to understand and keeps the reading interested as each chapter continues. From the medical aspect, if you actually follow through with the author's suggestion, any doctor should be thrilled about any patient being so involved with their care.

The medical records sections are well-written and informative. Most people keep records for their pets. Why would it seem strange not to also keep your own medical records? Ms. Ehrenclou explains exactly what needs to be kept and the reasons for this. Her information on obtaining the best medical care is well-researched but should not be overwhelming for anyone, especially when the person who benefits the most from this is yourself.

As I was reading The Take-Charge Patient, I felt that Martine Ehrenclou was singing to the choir but much of her book had new information that is helpful for everyone. Having a mother who did exactly what her doctor prescribed until it literally killed her and having a non-curable, but treatable disease, I am well aware of the medical profession, the expectations, the trust or lack of, the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, are just some of the influences that
can lead any doctor in a different direction.

The author, Martine Ehrenclou has earned her Master's Degree in psychology from Pepperdine University. She has worked as a journalist, ghostwritier, public relations professional, and facilitated a program for at-risk teenagers. Through her own experiences, now she works as an advocate for patients with her websites, and

The Take-Charge Patient is a resource that should be available in every home, business, and medical facility.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

Slash and Burn
Colin Cotterill
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616951160, $25.00,

Dr. Siri is two months away from finally retiring as the national coroner of Laos in 1978 when he is reluctantly engaged in a joint U.S./Laotian mission in a remote northern jungle in which an American helicopter had crashed ten years earlier. It appears the pilot was the son of a U.S. Senator, and there are various subtexts to the operation. The wily 80-year-old doctor outfoxes his superiors substituting his wife and friends on the task force as a last paid vacation before leaving his job.

Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and events unfold in various unexpected ways. It is up to Dr. Siri to solve the myriad mysteries, assisted by assorted cohorts. Early in the story, he is warned of his impending death, another factor that has to be watched carefully and which leads to an amusing solution.

The by-play between the Laotian Communist officials and the cryptic comments by Dr. Siri and his friends are amusing. But more to the point are the descriptions of the bombed out territories and unexploded bombs dropped as a by-product of the Vietnam conflict. Dr. Siri supposedly has retired before, and one wonders whether or not this is the final chapter in the series.


Silent Mercy
Linda Fairstein
Signet Select
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451413154, $9.99,

This deeply researched series highlighting New York landmarks featuring Alexandra Cooper and Mike Chapman takes the reader in a somewhat different direction from previous entries. This time the author tackles religion, albeit in a non-controversial manner.

While New York continues to be the prime real estate, the murderer the duo is chasing has committed the same crime in other states, ending up on Cape Cod. But various religious institutions set the stage for the chase as the culprit leaves his victims on display at various churches, apparently making a statement. And Alex and Mike visit a couple of leading teaching institutions undergoing a crash course in various religions and beliefs in an effort to learn what the murderer is attempting to say.

As usual, the reader learns a lot about the streets and history of New York City, always an important part of reading a novel in the series. But equally important is the tightly written mystery and analytical approach to solving it. This author's books are always a delight to read and this newest one, as all her prior novels, is recommended.

A Bitter Truth
Charles Todd
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062015716, $14.99,

This Bess Crawford mystery, set during World War I, finds her on a short leave from the front, intending to spend the Christmas holidays with her parents. When she arrives at her apartment in London, she finds a young woman huddled on her doorstep, cold, hungry and distraught. In sympathy, Bess takes her up to her room and learns that she has run away from her husband and home because he has abused her, and her disfigured face is proof.

From this improbable beginning, Bess becomes involved in a family's secrets and along the way in a few murders, since she accompanies the young woman back to her home and family. The novel rambles on, as the plot unfolds and the police fumble in an effort solve one murder after another. Bess returns to France, only to be recalled by the police for additional inquiries.

There are some excellent aspects to the novel, including insights into the lives of upper crust Britons of the period. But it appeared to this reader that to bring the plot to a conclusion, the mother-son author duo reached out to contrive a solution that has little if any foundation. Nevertheless, the book is an enjoyable read and is recommended.

Buried Prey
John Sanford
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425247891, $9.99,

Discovery of the bodies of two young girls, murdered 25 years earlier, sets the stage for a look at the popular protagonist, Lucas Davenport, both as a rookie patrolman and later as the seasoned investigator of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension a quarter of a century later. Soon after joining the Minneapolis police department, Lucas worked with the Intelligence Division on a couple of murder investigations, especially the case of the two young Jones Girls.

He became so involved in the work that he solved one of them, and came close to discovering the identity of the culprit in the girls' slaying. The facts continued to haunt him and 25 years later, when the bodies are found during the excavation at a construction site, he pursues finding the killer with an obsession, using all his training and intelligence (and a lot of luck) in the chase.

The depth of the plot and taut writing give the reader incentive to keep turning pages. The dialogue is sharp and the pace well-measured. Character development is extremely effective. Another welcome addition to the series, and recommended.

As the Crow Flies
Craig Johnson
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670023516, $25.95,

The thrust of this eighth Walt Longmire novel is two-fold. Walt and his sidekick, the "Bear," also known as the Cheyenne Nation, are charged with arranging the wedding of Walt's daughter, a formidable task for the two men. Meanwhile, they witness the death of a young woman, holding her young son, who falls off a cliff to her death (the boy survives). Was it an accident or murder?

The event diverts the attention of the two, while they become involved with the investigation, although Walt is out of his jurisdiction. Complicating matters also is the fact that a new inexperienced tribal police chief is involved, and Walt sort of has to take her by the hand, mentoring her.

While the story is straightforward on both levels, more important is the further insight into Walt's personality, as he confronts the various personages with tact and psychology, especially his headstrong daughter and equally obstinate police chief.


Never Knowing
Chevy Stevens
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
97811250009319, $14.99,

Many authors create a protagonist who is brought back in a series to good advantage. Others latch on to a theme or locale for use in subsequent novels. And that is, apparently, what this author has succeeded in doing in this second effort. In her debut novel, "Still Missing," she wrote about a woman repeatedly raped, currently undergoing therapy, on Vancouver Island [where the author was born and lives], with chapter headings labeled according to the session number.

In the present novel, the main character, Sara Gallagher, is the child born of rape 35 years ago, who lives and works on Vancouver Island, and the chapters are labeled according to the session number in which she tells her story to the psychiatrist. The plot involves the rapist-father, who is responsible for numerous other rapes as well as murders over the three-and-a-half intervening decades, contacting Sara by telephone and telling her only that she can prevent him from committing future transgressions.

It is an interesting idea and the story is valid, with the pressure on Sara building to a crucial climax. Somehow, however, the writing seems stilted and cliched. The over-use of the fact that Sara was put for adoption and treated badly by her putative father, the ups and downs of her relationship with her soon-to-be husband, the stereotypes of "good sister"/"bad sister" seemed hackneyed. And Sara herself is a pretty wooden character, sort of an empty vessel into which the author can pour forth verbiage. Too bad, because otherwise it could have been a much better read.

One Dog Night
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur Books
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780250006592, $14.99,

This novel has some of the endearing attributes of an Andy Carpenter story, but unfortunately just 'some.' Missing are the customary high jinks of courtroom maneuvers which made prior novels outstanding. In this book, Andy only goes through the motions, and most of them are objected to and denied. Present, however, are the usual sardonic comments, humor and the "team" which always provide the series with an uplift.

The plot, of course, is up to the author's accustomed standard, with Andy, Laurie, Sam and Marcus coming up with background and facts to sustain the efforts to exonerate the client, sometimes in the face of extreme danger. In this case, Noah Galloway, about to receive a Presidential appointment, is accused of having set fire to a building housing a drug distributor six years before, resulting in the deaths of 26 persons. A former drug addict, he has no memory of the event, but does harbor guilty feelings.

Andy, who has no need or desire to work, much less take on another client, does in this case, because Noah is the former owner of Tara, the golden retriever that is a major part of his life. First he has to convince himself of Noah's innocence. Then go to work. And then just plod forward. Since the usual courtroom antics do not take place, the plot unwinds in a manner which is mechanical in nature, with forces outside Andy's control or contrivance. In some other novel, this type of conclusion might be warranted, but in this series it seems out of place. Despite these misgivings, Andy's irreverence and quips are always enjoyable.

Photo Finish
John McEvoy
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200137, $24.95,

Shades of Mr. Ed, the talking horse of the eponymous television program: A veterinarian who receives communications from her equine patients plays a vital role in this latest Jack Doyle racetrack thriller. An Irish bookie convinces Jack to take on a 17-year-old female jockey, Mickey Sheehan, as her agent, setting the stage for another intriguing episode in his life, during which he's been a boxer, racetrack publicist, and advertising man, among other things. When Mickey and her older sister arrive from the Emerald Isle, Jack gains not only a client but a lover.

An immediate sensation, Mickey wins races and becomes the darling of track personnel and the public. She wins her first race atop Plotkin, a horse Jack and his friend, Moe Kellman, furrier-to-the-mob, bought for $50,000. All goes well until someone with a grudge against the trainer of Plotkin begins doping the animal, resulting in Mickey having a serious fall, weeks before a million-dollar race in which she's to be pitted against another top Irish horse ridden by her brother.

The series is reminiscent of the Dick Francis novels, and the plots flow as smoothly as the horses gliding through the turf. The author, as in the previous entries in the series, writes with realism, with accurate racetrack descriptions, and this fifth chapter in the Doyle series is heartily recommended.

Target: Tinos
Jeffrey Siger
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589762, $24.95,

All the troubles in Greece are reflected in this, the fourth novel in the Chief Inspector Andreas series: prejudice against immigrants, aversion to taxes, repugnance to working at menial jobs for low wages (but it's ok for immigrants to take the jobs) and, of course, the huge national debt. Many astute asides throughout the novel allude to these current problems. But the main plot has to do with the discovery of the murders of two gypsy brothers, followed by a few more on the island of Tinos.

Complicating the excellent police procedural is the fact of the imminent wedding of Andreas. The pressures from his intended and that of the Minister of Justice on Andreas to make the investigation "go away" (for obviously different reasons) do not deter him from doggedly pursuing the matter.

Along the way, the reader learns much about the geography and history of the island, especially about the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, the Greek "Vatican" and home of a relic of the Virgin Mary. Such information is fascinating, and the novel is recommended.

Operation Napoleon
Arnaldur Indridason, author
Victoria Cribb, translator
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800
New York, NY 10010
9781250003188, $15.00,

Long before there were Erlender and Sigurdur Oli, Arnaldur Indridason wrote this imaginative novel. In fact, it was copyrighted a decade ago, and only now has been published in Great Britain and Canada. [The next Reykjavic Murder Mystery, "Outrage," was published last June in the UK and is due out in a US edition in the Fall.] It is a pity we have had to wait this long for an English translation of this work, but all the more reason to be grateful that that has now been done.

Just before the end of World War II a German bomber crashes on a large Icelandic glacier with American and German officers aboard. One of the senior German officers attempts to reach a nearby farm, while the others remain on the plane only to be buried by a blizzard and ice; then he disappears as well.

Over 50 years later, after a few failed attempts to find the plane by U.S. intelligence, they are finally successful, and a secret mission is undertaken to remove the plane and its contents.. Coincidentally, two young Icelanders on the glacier in a training mission spot the Americans and are captured, one killed and the other seriously injured. Before the capture, one of the men had contacted his sister, Kristin. She undertakes to discover the truth of her brother's fate, placing herself in danger in the process.

The tense plot follows Kristin as she challenges the Americans in an effort to find out what happened to her brother, leading her on an arduous journey to learn the facts of Operation Napoleon. The descriptions of the various elements of the story are overwhelming: the freezing weather, the subterfuge of the Americans, the divergent views of Icelanders vis-a-vis relations with United States authorities, and other conflicts. Written with a sharpness to which we have become accustomed from this author, the novel is highly recommended.

Gun Games
Faye Kellerman
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062064335, $25.99,

In this latest installment of the Decker/Lazarus series, the author attempted to inject a slightly different approach to the formula. It probably will upset some readers, and intrigue others. Some will look at the novel and consider it pornographic, in a sense. Others might see it as sensitivity akin to the current controversy over same sex marriage. Whatever stance, the plot is a stimulating one, with the intersecting of two very different sets of characters.

The story begins with the mother of a high school boy who has committed suicide visiting Peter Decker in an effort to find out why he did it. Although the coroner has ruled it a suicide, Decker is intrigued enough to look into the matter, especially when a second suicide of a pupil from the same school occurs. The novel then continues to look into what appears to be a group of bullying students, combined with the teenage love affair of Gabe Donatti, the 15-year-old piano genius living with Peter and Rina, and an orthodox Persian teenager who attends the school at which Lazarus teaches.

As in the previous novels in the series, the well-written book is full of homespun allusions. Some of the techniques to flavor the teenage atmosphere, like excessive texting, certainly may be off-putting to many readers, but is an apt portrayal of communication for this age group. That said, it is a good read and is recommended.

Sara Paretsky
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399157837, $26.95,

One thing we have learned in the previous 14 novels in the series: V.I. Warshawski is brash, rash and opinionated. So it should be no surprise that those characteristics continue in this, the 15th entry in the series. Unfortunately these traits also carry over to the plot, and that is unfortunate because otherwise it might have been an interesting novel. However, the book never seems to make up its mind whether it is a political tract, murder mystery or something else.

In fact this reader, at least, is hard put to try, even in a minimal way, to summarize the plot. It begins with a few young girls in an improbable setting (a cemetery) performing some sort of ritual, during which a murder takes place. Long diatribes against a Fox-like cable network and its right wing lead commentator, a couple of more murders or attempted assassinations, a senatorial campaign pitting a conservative against a liberal, and who knows what else. Enough? There's probably more.

Just as an aside, detracting from the novel, in a finished copy, displays some very poor (or lack of) proofreading along the way. Needless to say, the novel gets off to a slow plodding pace, and only picks up speed at times beyond the middle and before the conclusion, which seems perfunctory at best.

The Hunter
John Lescroart
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525952565, $26.95,

The Hunt Club, the private investigative agency in San Francisco headed by Wyatt Hunt, has been the focus of several novels prior to this one, exciting mystery-thrillers. While the present volume is both a mystery with some elements of thriller, the reader has to painstakingly plod through a lot to find them. It basically is more of an introspective look at Hunt, his birth and his development as a mature person.

Hunt's mother was murdered when he was three, his father twice tried for the deed but not convicted because of hung juries. While on trial, he let Hunt go through the system, passing through several adoptive families before hitting success with the Hunts. Then one day, now a middle-aged man, he receives a text message: "How did your mother die?," thus setting him on a journey to rediscover his routes, with almost no memories or information to guide him.

Uncovering strange and unexpected information along the way, Hunt follows a trail, often led by additional text messages, not to mention additional murders. Too often, there is much repetition, and the physical reaction by Hunt to the pressures seemed superficial, leaving one wondering if there is some basic physical ailment or just plain old anxiety affecting him. Perhaps some judicious editing, or even a rewrite, could have improved the novel, which in its present form is quite interesting but to this reader lacks the spark of the predecessors in the series. Perhaps that's what the author strove to achieve - - who knows? With that caveat, the novel is recommended.

All I Did Was Shoot My Man
Walter Mosley
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594488245, $26.95,

Leonid Trotter ("LT") McGill is a 55-year-old African-American man, a former boxer, con man, fixer and over-all reprobate turned [relatively honest] PI is one of the more unusual characters in mystery fiction. Married, he has little if anything to do with his wife. As far as his three children are concerned, he acknowledges that two are not his, but he loves and nurtures all. His collection of friends and associates are as unconventional as he is. And so are the books in the series, all somewhat bizarre but very enjoyable.

The plots of the books, while intricate and complicated, tend to be odd. And the present installment is no different. In the past, LT framed a young woman who shot her boyfriend three times, when she came home to find him in bed with her best friend. Since she was destined to go to jail anyway, he planted evidence in her locker of complicity in a $548 million heist from an insurance company. Some years later, LT finds the "false" information that led to her conviction following which his lawyer gets her released from prison. As a result, a number of events take place, including an attempt on LT's life, along with the murders of several others. Of course, it's up to him to solve the case.

Written in a style that sometimes defies belief, the complexity and insight of the novel and, especially, the LT character, are overwhelming. With each book, development of LT as a person deepens, and the reader gains substantial knowledge of the man.

Highly recommended.

Long Gone
Alafair Burke
Harper Paperbacks
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062120151, $14.99,

The author has written six previous novels, but this is her first standalone, so her familiar characters and themes do not apply. Nevertheless, she has demonstrated an ability to take an idea and run with it, in this case two separate themes with some common threads.

The main plot involves Alice Humphrey, daughter of a famous motion picture director and his Academy Award-winning wife. Somewhat estranged from her father, and wishing to demonstrate her independence, she presently is unemployed when a "dream" job falls into her lap. It turns out to be part of a plot against her and her dad, but that is as far as we should go in divulging the plot. A subplot involves a missing teenager. The commonality of the two themes involves the effects of the relationships between the mother of the missing girl and Alice and the law enforcement personnel with whom each is involved. Enough said.

Ms. Burke has amply demonstrated in the past her knowledge of the law and the various people involved in enforcing it, and this novel shows her insights into how detectives go about their business. Here empathy for the female characters is obvious, but the male characters seem to be stereotypes. On the whole, however, the novel is an excellent read, and is recommended.

Cell 8
Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom
Silver Oak
c/o Sterling Publishing
387 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10016
9781402787157, $24.95,

The focus of this novel is the controversy over the death penalty, the plot is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Playing a minor role in the story is, of course, Detective Superintend Ewert Grens, who was introduced to readers in the widely acclaimed "Three Seconds" a year ago. "Cell 8" is more of a polemic than an old-fashioned crime novel, often seeming merely a dry tract supporting arguments against capital punishment.

Nevertheless, after a rather slow beginning, the book develops into an interesting tale with a finish so unanticipated as to take the reader's breath away. Essentially, this is the story of a 17-year-old boy convicted of murdering his 16-year-old girlfriend. No real hard support was presented at trial that he committed the deed, but he is convicted solely on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to death. He spends 10 years on death row and then the authors once again show their ingenuity in carrying the novel forward [this comment by way of avoiding the heart of the plot].

Yes, there are long spells of dry prose, but on the whole, it is well worth reading through from beginning to end, and is highly recommended.

Vulture Peak
John Burdett
c/o Random House Group
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307272676, $25.95,

The Bangkok novels by John Burdett are somewhat off the wall, and this latest entry is no exception. It opens with three corpses lying on a bed in a posh mountaintop mansion, with all bodily organs missing. This sets the stage for an investigation into the world-wide trade in human organs by the Buddhist detective, Sonchai Jitplecheep, instigated by his boss, who plans to run for governor of Bangkok based on solving the murders and putting an end to the business.

We follow the detective's efforts in a bizarre path from Asia to Dubai, where he meets beautiful twin females, and back to Bangkok and its environs. Along the way we are introduced to a couple of more interesting detectives, one from Hong Kong, another from Shanghai. More important, however, are the far out experiences Sonchai lives through in an effort to understand the organ trade and solve the original three murders.

Needless to say, the novel is filled wit exotic images, detailed descriptions of the sex industry in Thailand, and Sonchai's unusual marriage to a former prostitute. While the Bangkok novels are always a lot of fun, this one is a lot blacker than usual, filled with eyeballs, livers, hearts and other parts of the body.


Theodore Feit

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

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