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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 3 March 2005 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewers Recommend Alisa's Bookshelf Arlene's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Betsy's Bookshelf Betty's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carey's Bookshelf
Carroll's Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Catherine's Bookshelf
Charisse's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf Christy's Bookshelf
Debra's Bookshelf Dian's Bookshelf Duncan's Bookshelf
Emanuel's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Isobel's Bookshelf
Judine's Bookshelf Lori's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mayra's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf Nancy's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Pogo's Bookshelf Robyn's Bookshelf
Roger's Bookshelf Sharon's Bookshelf Sherry's Bookshelf
Sullivan's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf  

Reviewers Recommend

The Two Pound Tram
William Newton
ISBN: 0747573336 A$21.95 186 pages

Ann Skea, Reviewer

We walked the length of the tramshed and into the yard. It held trams of every description, many decrepit and obviously out of use for a long time, but also there were ones like the picture in the advertisement.

"All these 'ere are two pounds." said Alf. "You can 'ave whichever you likes."

So Wilfred and his older brother, Duncan, bought a tram. How they came to do so, and all that happened to them after that, Wilfred relates, although, as he says, this is "a story which starts in a world now vanished".

In some ways, Wilfred's vanished world is the rosy world of childhood memory. In the 1920s and 1930s, Wilfred and Duncan grew up in a big house in Sussex, cycled the countryside, camped, hunted small animals, collected butterflies and dreamed of owning a tram like the one they had seen advertised in the Daily Mail. But illness, family breakdown and war changed all that.

Familiar as this scenario might seem, this is no commonplace story. Duncan suffers a bout of meningitis which leaves him dumb, and he and Wilfred learn to communicate through their own sign language; the boys' mother drives off in her Hispano-Suiza car and disappears from their lives, and their father take up with "a succession of ladies", none of whom like the boys. Then, in early 1937, Hitler walks into Austria: and Pale Clouded Yellow butterflies invade the Sussex fields. In pursuit of butterflies, the boys trespass on a nearby property and are seized by the gardener and hauled before the owner, Mr Schwayder, who is German. But this is not a spy story.

As a result of all these events, the boys (now young teenagers) decide to be independent. They scrape together their meagre savings, leave home, and go to London to buy a tram. What they will do with their chosen tram once they have it, they have not considered, let alone how they will get a tram out of the depot without tracks and wires. Alf, the tram-depot foreman, saves their dream by offering them an ancient horse-tram - a 'penny-bumper' - which has wheels which can be taken on the road. And, in a tour of the Acton totters' yards ['totters' were the London rag-and-bone collectors], the boys find an ancient draught horse, used to hauling coal, whose owner no longer wants it.

So, with the tram comes, first, Homer (the horse) and his inseparable companion, Tiger, the dog; then Hattie, a girl of about the boys' own age; then, by chance, a private tram-line in Worthing; followed by bombs, unofficial signalling duties, a German bomber seemingly shot down by Duncan's catapult, a letter from Winston Churchill, and a visit from the King and Queen.

All of this sounds fantastic, but the charm of this story is that it could all, just possibly, be true. William Newton tells it so simply and so plausibly that you end up wanting to search for corroborative evidence. And if you do so, I'm sure you will find some, although the details may not be sufficient for you to verify Wilfred's version of events.

Whether the story is truth or fantasy, however, is not important. It is a wonderful story, told by a story-teller who, if nothing else, can embroider facts so imaginatively that you suspend disbelief. It reads like a memoir, and it captures with deceptive simplicity and humour, the adventure, optimism, delights and disappointments of the vanished world of youth. It is a pleasure to read.

Lorraine Adams
Alfred A Knopf
201 E 50th St, New York, NY 10022
ISBN 1400042332X, $23.95, 292 pp.

Coletta Ollerer

A tale with three prongs: The escape from a life in a homeland that was so desperate, so horrifying that it made the lonely and dreadful prospect of becoming a stowaway look attractive. The frightening and solitary life of an alien in the USA. The terrifying awareness of an illegal that he might be of interest to Federal agencies.

In several flashbacks we are taken into the military experiences of Aziz in Algeria including the brutal killing of a woman, and his unending fear of being tortured himself by his own comrades and superiors as he watched others in the throes of agony. He trusts no one. "Now there was nothing Antar (the local warlord) did not believe was his right. There were those among Antar's men who took to depravity the way birds take to air. They had imaginations bloated with ways to inflict suffering, and they saw the permutated hell of their nighttimes as an underground heaven they had never hoped to enter." (p157) This was the atmosphere that drove Aziz to escape his country.

He manages to get back to his family and intends to leave the country but his inability to get the proper papers from his government forces him to take the risk of becoming a stowaway. He is dirty, hungry, cold and without the native language when he drags himself onshore in Boston. A stroke of good fortune brings him to the attention of an Egyptian whose Arabic tongue allows him to provide help. Aziz manages to get in touch with a friend, Rafik, from Algeria who he knows is living in Boston. Rafik is glad to hear from him and he invites him to live at his flat. He knows he must be careful when dealing with Rafik who is known to be untrustworthy but this relationship is the only one he feels comfortable with in Boston. Illegals come and go at Rafik's apartment.

Aziz' lack of language skills and his unsettled background left him feeling isolated. He doesn't understand a lot of what is going on "Mostly, he had no one to discuss most things with, so their weight and importance were all too often equal. Anything could matter. Anything could be anything." (p65) He watches people closely in an attempt to better understand this place. He feels invisible but lucky because he is here and not in Algiers where terror is the order of the day.

The federal agents have numerous meetings to determine if they have a case against Aziz and others who pass through Rafik's apartment in Boston. They decide to arrest them. Those arrested are people who fled the fear and intimidation of life in Algeria only to find themselves faced with anxiety and suspicion in the land they hoped would give them a chance of refuge. The story gives us a glimpse into the lives of these unfortunates and into the Federal agencies charged with their surveillance.

The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson
Random House Inc.
ISBN: 0375725601 $14.95 464 pages

Craig McAndrew

Heard the one about the architect and the serial killer? It's not a bad joke, but it is a great book. The architect was Daniel Burnham, the driving force behind the Chicago World's Fair of 1893; the killer was H.H. Holmes, a Svengali-type figure who lured young women to his hotel and did the most gruesome things, the least shocking of which was murder. The two men never met, but The Devil in the White City brings their stories together, and although it reads like a novel, everything is thoroughly researched fact.

The book:

The Great Columbian Exhibition of 1893 was Chicago's big chance to shake off its old image as a hog-slaughtering, dirty and dangerous town and to take its place as America's second city. Although the fair's theme gave a backward nod to the 400th anniversary of Columbus bumping into the Americas on his way to India, its vision was futuristic: for the first time, electric lighting, clean water, and planned green spaces could be experienced on a massive scale. Innovations - the Ferris Wheel, the hamburger, an elevated railway, Juicy Fruit gum, the zip fastener and shredded wheat among them - enhanced the feeling that the next century would belong to America. The buildings were monumental, the exhibits eclectic (one example: a map of the USA made entirely of pickles) and the visitors were awestruck. They called it the White City, from the colour of main buildings that were imposing by day, dazzling by night.

Much of this was down to Daniel Burnham. His can-do reputation for building skyscrapers made him a natural choice as project manager. But we're frequently reminded that he had to push himself to the limit and step on quite few toes to ensure the Fair's success, a job made all the more difficult by economic recession, bickering architects, striking workers, pompous politicians and Chicago's notorious weather.

As if all this weren't enough to occupy the reader, a parallel story takes us inside the grim world of H.H. Holmes. Capitalising on the advent of the Fair, Holmes built his own hotel to attract single young women who were streaming into the city from across America in search of work, independence and a new life in the big city. One such unfortunate believed she was on the threshold of marriage to this enchanting gentleman; in reality, she was destined for a gas chamber in the hotel basement. She was not to be the last to fall for his charms, but even in death there was no rest. Holmes literally picked over the bones of his victims, selling their remains to medical students eager to examine recently deceased corpses - no questions asked. At first, the benefit for Holmes was financial, but as time passed, the chase, the kill, the post mortem had become ends in themselves. A single-minded detective and a stroke of luck brought Holmes to justice, but even when he realised the game was up, he managed to keep his unsettling cool.

My thoughts:

I had a strong feeling that I would take to this book, and from start to finish I was never disappointed. It fairly zings along, both stories proving absorbing, while casting out facts like frisbees.

Although Burnham and Holmes are the book's dominant characters, there are walk-on parts for numerous figures who made their own mark on the White City. Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison, and Scott Joplin are among the famous names, and the description of George Ferris's efforts to debut his eponymous wheel is a story in itself. But the lesser-known characters are also worthy of note. I pitied poor Frederick Olmsted's attempts to landscape the exhibition in the midst of an enormous, muddy construction site and a fit of depression. But I can see how ahead of his time he really was, insisting on natural greenery instead of a regimented collection of flower beds. Then there was Patrick Prendergast, whose descent into madness was to have a shocking impact on the Fair's final days; it's here that Larson's descriptive powers really come into their own.

As for the serial killer, the author doesn't dwell on the sensationalist aspects of his more grisly activities, but what he leaves to the imagination is far more powerful. Extracts from letters written by a child kidnapped by Holmes are among the most upsetting words I've ever read - a reminder that the worst of human nature may not only be found in our own times.

But my lasting impression from this book is one of optimism, of Burnham straining every nerve and sinew to achieve the impossible, and the ordinary folk of Chicago bursting with pride at what had been achieved.

The U.S. edition of the book has the subtitle "the fair that changed America" - and that's certainly true, right down to the Pledge of Allegiance which can trace its origins to the exhibition's opening day. Beyond that, the Chicago Fair of 1893 not only showed America how it could be, but how it would be - better living and working conditions, convenience foods, domestic appliances, gadgets and more time for fun. In short, it heralded the prospect of a decent day's pay for a full day's work, a clean, safe environment, and of course the God-given right to eat shredded wheat.

Who would you like this book?

I enjoyed it because of an interest in cities and architecture. But it would equally appeal to readers who are into engineering, politics, social history, horticulture, true crimes; does that leave anyone out?

The Other Brother
Geoff Elliott
Allen and Unwin
ISBN 1741143241 A$24.95 194 pages.

David Skea

The Other Brother is the story of Simon Holmes … Court, the younger brother of Robert, the West Australian billionaire. Unexpectedly it's a fairly ordinary story of a rather quiet, shy young man making a career first as a wild life protection officer in the then Bechuanaland Protectorate (now independent Botswana). After independence, having to leave the British Crown service, he decided to start up a yacht charter business but first had to find a boat and learn to sail. Unfortunately this enterprise did not prosper so he then decided to make a wild life documentary film whilst sailing round the world. He completed his filming and spent a year or so editing the film footage he had taken but found no takers for the finished film. He then returned to Botswana starting out again as a sculptor.

What is puzzling is that in June 1977, at the age of 37, he suddenly disappeared. His vehicle was found abandoned some two days drive away from his home in a remote forest. Moreover the vehicle identity had been defaced as if someone did not want the identity of the owner to become known.

Three years later some girls out cutting twigs to make brooms stumbled across a skeleton which was presumed to be that of Simon. Alongside was a double-barrelled shotgun, one shell still unfired. An inquest was held and the case closed. The official cause of death was found to be an accident or suicide and it was also found that no one else was responsible for the cause of death.

All of this was reported in the South African press but did not get exposure in Australia where his mother and brother lived. This is not really surprising as he wasn't an Australian or a resident of Australia and his story wasn't unique.

So how did Elliott get involved? It seems that Elliott began his career as a journalist in Western Australia where, amongst other stories, he reported on the rise of Robert Holmes … Court. Later he moved to Europe and then to South Africa, working in Cape Town. A colleague there mentioned that he had gone to school with the Holmes … Court brothers and that Simon had disappeared. This was the first time that Elliott knew that there was a younger brother and he became intrigued (obsessed) by the story. This book is the result of the research that followed.

It would appear that Simon was a somewhat foolhardy young man and early on in his sailing career was 'lost at sea' between Maputo (Louren‡o Marques) and Durban. Fortune smiled on him and he was rescued by a passing oil tanker. However he had run up a huge debt for the rescue. In settlement for the rescue and towing, and to pay the cost of repairing his yacht, he agreed to a sailing trip up the east coast of Africa, ostensibly a charter trip for two rich tourists. In reality this was electronic surveillance or spying trip where he also honed up his skills as a sailor. Another sailboat and a round the world sailing trip followed, ostensibly to film wild life. Unfortunately his film was not the commercial success Simon had hoped for and he ended up back in Botswana starting a new career as a sculptor. His friends say that he had a natural ability and could have become well known. During this time, he apparently became involved with a married woman who was living apart from her husband. The night before he left there was a tiff she said she needed a breathing space, time alone to work things out. Simon left early next morning for Johannesburg, ostensibly to purchase casting supplies for his business but he never reached there or returned home.

Elliott's style is easy to read and my only complaint is where he comes into the story himself as a fictional reporter. As he says, he had trouble with writing this part of the story and this was his way of managing it. All-in-all a light read useful for passing the time on a long air trip.

The Artist's Quest for Inspiration, second edition
Peggy Hadden
Allworth Press
10 East 23rd Street, Suite 510, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 1581153589 $19.95 279 pages

Rose Glavas

The Artist's Quest for Inspiration is a book that will appeal to artists at many different stages of their career and in most artistic fields. If you are creative at any level this is a title that will help you find new ways of being inspired.

The author offers many suggestions to help you break through any creative blocks such as: journal writing, working with other artists, meditation, and music... just to name a few techniques! Throughout The Artist's Quest for Inspiration you will find highlighted ideas for you to try. One of them that I like in particular goes like this:

'I think creative responses are helped by singing old songs. I know it can lift my mood. Even in private, singing can help you remember incidents from your past that might have drifted off to a corner of your mind's attic.'

This is NOT a how-to book with step-by-step instructions in using various media or lessons in perspective etc. However, this is a book that will draw on your true creativity and individual offerings to the world that will truly reflect what you have to offer.

The author has done a fabulous job in providing you with a multitude of 'block' busters that will help you break through any creative barriers you may be suffering from. Even if you don't suffer from this problem The Artist's Quest for Inspiration is bound to provide you with even more energising ideas than you already have! The language is easy to understand and friendly.

I would recommend this book to anyone involved in a creative pursuit - particularly if you are looking for new ideas - but also for those of you looking for a fresh approach. I must admit that I don't suffer from a shortage of ideas, but this title certainly gave me a lot more to think about!

Minding Her Own Business: The Self-Employed Woman's Essential Guide to Taxes and Financial Records, 4th Edition
Jan Zobel, E.A.
Sphinx Publishing
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410
ISBN 1572484551 $14.95 239 pages

Peter Hupalo

Minding Her Own Business: The Self-Employed Woman's Essential Guide to Taxes and Financial Records by Jan Zobel is a solid introduction to taxes and recordkeeping for small business owners.

We learn there are 10.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. (48% of all businesses), employing 19.1 million people and generating total annual sales of $2.46 trillion.

During her career preparing over 8,000 small business tax returns and teaching small business tax classes, Zobel says she learned that many people women, in particular are frightened by financial and tax issues.

Zobel writes: "Taxes don't differentiate between men and women the complexity of the laws leaves everyone confused! This book was written with the belief that anyone no matter how unfamiliar with or afraid of numbers can learn to take charge of her finances."

Minding Her Own Business covers these topics especially well:

* Tracking Expenses

* Understanding What Makes an Expense Tax Deductible

* Car Expenses and Home-Office Expense

* Depreciation and Amortization

* The Importance Of Tracking Business Revenue and Other Sources Of Income

* What Records the IRS Expects You To Keep and How Long

* Financial Statements

* Inventory and Cost-of-Goods Sold

* Retirement Accounts

* Understanding the Audit Process and What To Expect If You're Audited (Yikes!)

* Sole Proprietorship (Schedule C) Taxes

* Self-Employment Tax (IRS Schedule SE)

* Estimated Tax Payments (IRS Form 1040-ES)

New business owners (and most business owners) operate as sole proprietorships and need to understand the three basic IRS forms for sole proprietor tax reporting and payment. Those forms (Schedule C, Schedule SE, and Form 1040-ES) are covered in detail. One-member limited liability company (LLC) owners also file as if they were sole proprietors.

Zobel writes: "Sole proprietorships file a Schedule C with their tax return, showing their business income and expenses. For this reason, the IRS calls sole proprietors Schedule C filers. Schedule C filers are audited more often than other people because the IRS thinks they may not be reporting all their income. There is less focus on businesses that don't have a lot of cash transactions than there is on businesses, such as restaurants and hair salons, where much of the business is done in cash. Nevertheless, all businesses need to keep good records."

Zobel does a good job of explaining the rationale behind IRS requirements and explaining tax issues in simple, real-world terms.

For example, in discussing car expenses, Zobel uses a little drawing showing commuting between home, a regular job, a second job, and a temporary work location to show when car mileage is deductible.

Zobel writes: "When asked how many miles their cars were used for business in the prior year, many taxpayers stare at the ceiling as if the answer's written up there. Some tax preparers call this the PFTA (Plucked From The Air) approach to recordkeeping. It will not stand up in an audit. Business owners sometimes claim that they use their car 100% for business. If you have a deductible office-in-home, 100% business car use is possible if you have another car available for personal transportation. If you don't have a deductible office-in-home, your car generally won't be used 100% for business because you have at least some commuting miles. Often, the business car is also used for a vacation trip or to pick up groceries. True 100% business use is rare for a passenger vehicle."

Minding Her Own Business is completely updated for 2005 and covers important tax considerations for today. The deductibility of health insurance premiums to small business owners is discussed, as are education expenses and the lifetime learning credit.

One of my favorite chapters covers retirement planning for small business owners. With worked examples showing how much an individual could save tax-deferred with SIMPLE-IRAs, SEP-IRAs, and the new one-person 401(k), it becomes clear the newer one-person 401(k) (also known as the self-employed 401(k) or the solo 401(k), among other names) is a particularly desirable option for those entrepreneurs who don't have employees but who wish to maximize their tax-deferred savings.

Zobel also discusses the new Saver's Tax Credit which is designed to give a tax credit up to $1,000 to lower-income individuals for a $2,000 contribution made to a retirement account. (My first reaction: What?! A tax credit for low-income people? How did that find its way into the legislation?). Essentially, if you qualify, you can get $1,000 back from the IRS if you contribute $2,000 to a retirement account. As Zobel points out, this tax credit expires in 2006 (You had to know they'd catch it eventually!). This demonstrates the importance of staying current on tax issues. Reading the current edition of Minding Her Own Business and taking advantage of this credit, could instantly get some entrepreneurs $2,000 from the IRS for the next two years.

A great chapter focuses on IRS audits and what to expect if you're audited. We learn that your chances of being audited is very low. Zobel writes: "In reality, only a small percentage of people are audited each year. Just 1.91% of all Schedule C filers were audited in 2003 but this was nearly triple the rate for other taxpayers. Those who believe their income is too small for the IRS to care about may be surprised to learn that in 2003, 3% of sole proprietors with gross receipts below $25,000 were examined."

I think every new business owner who isn't already familiar with business taxes should get a copy of Minding Her Own Business. I highly recommend this book to both men and women, especially entrepreneurs who plan to operate as sole proprietors or as one-member LLCs. Because the book is updated for 2005, I recommend people who own previous editions also acquire a new edition for current information about one-person 401(k)s and other changes affecting entrepreneurs.

The Culprit and the Cure
Steven G. Aldana, PhD
Maple Mountain Press
935 East 900 North, Mapleton, UT 84664
ISBN 0975882805 $24.99, 272 pages

Jamie Engle

Most everyone knows a healthy lifestyle includes eating right and exercising, yet many people don't eat right or exercise regularly. What will it take to get you committed to a healthy lifestyle? For me, it was Dr. Steven Aldana's book The Culprit and the Cure.

The Culprit and the Cure clearly connects the dots between a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of chronic diseases, a prolonged life, and a higher quality of life. It also shows you what you need for a healthy lifestyle and how to achieve it. Dr. Aldana, a professor of lifestyle medicine in the College of Health and Human Performance at Brigham Young University, "read just about every scientific article ever published on nutrition, physical activity, and chronic diseases." He uses them to make a convincing case for permanent lifestyle changes and to define healthy nutrition and exercise guidelines. It's his engaging, but matter of fact, presentation that gets your attention. For example, " approximately 40% of all cancers are caused by the typical American diet, lack of physical activity and obesity, and that cancer is mostly a preventable disease." And, "Chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems to treat, but they are also among the most preventable."

Have I heard these facts before? Probably, but study results tend to go in one ear and out the other because the results seem to conflict. One study says, "Do this," and the next one says, "No, don't." Because of his extensive research and background, Dr. Aldana can state,"17 studies show this, 3 studies show this, and 2 show this. Taking all of them into account, here's what we know." I feel like I'm finally getting the whole picture, not just part of it. Having convinced you of the need to make permanent, healthy lifestyle changes, Dr. Aldana next gives you the tools to make them. No quick fixes or meal-by-meal plans. Dr. Aldana doesn't advocate giving up all red meat, or all white breads, or extremes of any kind. He advocates something much more realistic: a balanced diet and regular exercise. He lays out nutrition and exercise guidelines, such as a new food pyramid, and a thorough explanation of why food closer to its natural state is healthier. He gives you a blueprint for planning how to incorporate proper nutrition and exercise as a natural and permanent part of life. You'll find tips on how to overcome obstacles, helping children accept healthier food, setting goals, useful websites, and more.

Making lifestyle changes happens when you see benefits outweighing the barriers. The Culprit and the Cure had a profound impact on me. It tipped my benefit/barrier scale to the benefit side, thereby changing my life. If I feel barriers creeping back up, I can refer back to the book to reinforce the benefits. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be healthy or raise healthy children.

The Amateur Marriage
Anne Tyler
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
1400042070, $24.95, 320 pages

Julie Merritt

We have all read books that rehash the same tired motif of the fairy tale relationship. Even when these stories are laced with reality, the authors seem to wrap up the stories neatly with a nice ending. Life is not always so tidy or sweet. Anne Tyler graces her readers with a beautiful story that would rival that of a fairy tale, but it is about real life, with real characters with only the most understated notions of glamour.

Tyler's gives us her first dose of reality when Michael and Pauline fall in love in the romantic frenzy of early WWII. Young men are running off to enlist in the Army, and young women are busy romanticizing the soldiers' struggle to protect their homeland. Michael enlists in the Army and quickly returns home from boot camp after he is accidentally shot during a training evolution. Although his wound is not serious enough to cripple him, it does keep him from serving abroad.

There the real journey begins. Michael and Pauline marry without any of the misty-eyed romance of a soldier returning home to his war bride. Their marriage isn't a glorious reunion after angst-ridden months of separation. Instead, it is subdued, entirely human, and far from perfect. Pauline wants more from life than Michael can give her. She is ambitious, manic, and largely unsatisfied with the life her grocery-store-owner husband provides for her. In contrast, Michael seems emotionally distant, content to steer clear of life's many peaks and valleys as he plods through his daily routine.

Tyler truly shines as she defines the course of their marriage. A subtle tension ripples just below the surface, and she skillfully hints at the larger problems that inevitably result from the pairing of such mismatched personalities. Tyler recognizes that marriage is a partnership, and that far too many people slip into flawed relationships based on an ill-founded infatuation. Michael clings to an image of his wife seared into his mind during the passion of their initial encounter, all the while longing for a wife who only wants to share his peaceful existence. The quiet desperation that permeates 'The Amateur Marriage' is all too real. Tyler is a first-rate author, and her beautifully drawn novel is a wonderful success.

What You Owe Me
Bebe Moore Campbell
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., New York, New York 10014
ISBN: 0399147845 $25.95 640 Pages

Kim Anderson Ray

Rating: 4

Corporate Revenge

Los Angeles in 1948 marks a crossroads for both Hosanna Clark and Gilda Rosenstein. Both are running from violent pasts. Hosanna from the vicious mob that raped her sister and stole her family's farm and Gilda from the death camps of Nazi Germany. Tapping their resilient inner strength, the two women manage to start a small cosmetics company catering to women of color. But their success doesn't last long because one day Gilda simply disappears taking all of the small company's assets with her.

Gilda's defection plants a bitter seed of retribution inside Hosanna that lives even beyond the grave and continues to grow inside her youngest daughter, Matriece. Gilda has resurfaced many years later and heads one of the most successful cosmetics companies in the world. Now it's time for Matriece to collect her dead mother's due.

Bebe Moore Campbell skillfully revisits a period when black people were migrating to Los Angeles with little more than dreams. It is a story that spans fifty years and all the poignant drama of three dynamic women, their friends, children and lovers. It is tantalizing, edgy, and sexy at times; sure to keep you turning the pages to discover who comes out on top in this corporate drama.

The Lilypad List
Marian Van Eyk McCain
Findhorn Press, 305a The Park, Findhorn, Forres IV36 3TE, Scotland, UK
ISBN: 184409037X $14.95 182 pp.

Linda Davis Kyle, Reviewer

In her wonderful book, The Lilypad List: 7 steps to the simple life, Marian Van Eyk McCain helps you to find 'The Way of Consciousness' to simplify on all levels -- not just the "surface manifestations of the simple life: how to recycle things; live on less money; tie-dye your old T-shirts; clean your windows with vinegar" as in some other also useful books. But her book delves into the "most profound level of all" to help you to align with the "greater whole of which we are a part, i.e., the Earth" (p. 115). In inspiring and poetic prose, McCain offers ideas "upon which to build a life that's simpler, sweeter, and more fulfilling than the one you have been leading up till now" (p. 141).

In addition, at the end of her book, McCain suggests additional books to read. Having been a certified psychotherapist for many years, she also shares a self-therapy technique "to use for peering more deeply into the corners of your unconscious mind," and a "tape measure to estimate the size of your ecological footprint" (p. 141). The Lilypad List is a must read for anyone on a quest to simplify and revitalize life and restore health to help not only oneself but also to make a difference in the lives of those near and far and to respect and nurture the very Earth itself. Rather than offering a prescription for the simple life, McCain shares the pathway that she has used with the hope that she will "enable you to create your own, unique prescription" (p. 152). If The Lilypad List enchants you, you will find McCain's Elderwoman a must read, too. I highly recommend both books.

What Does Bunny See? A Book of Colors
Linda Sue Park, author
Maggie Smith, illustrator
ISBN 0618234853 $15.00 32 pp.

Lynne Marie Pisano

Follow Bunny through a cottage garden in Linda Sue Park's sometimes-rhymed, morning-to-night story. In this colorful garden, Bunny discovers a variety of flowers in red, yellow, purple, green, pink, orange and blue. Maggie Smith's charming watercolor and pencil illustrations drive the reader through the sometimes awkward (though sometimes rich in assonance and consonance) verse with near-rhymes: In a cottage garden/ past the pussy willow/ bunny nibbles tender shoots/ what she sees is---/ yellow!/ Primroses are nestled low/ in their leafy pillows. Surprisingly, this picture book lacks the usual Linda Sue Park polish. Still, little ones may enjoy identifying the bold colors, as well as locating the small insects pictured on each spread.

Knock Their Socks Off: A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters that Sell
Mridu Khuller
e-book, $12.95 130 pages

Magdalena Ball, Reviewer

If you are looking to make a living as a freelance writer, you'll need to become very familiar with the query letter. It is the basis of any assignment, from a brief point by point article to a full length non-fiction (and even fiction writers need to produce good queries). Mridu Khuller is the editor of, and has written for hundreds of magazines, websites, newspapers and anthologies around the world. Many of the books targeted to freelance writers come out of the USA, and tend to be just a little bit US-centric (to coin a word). Although Knock Your Socks Off is applicable to writers working anywhere in the world, for those freelance writers who don't live in the USA, the global applicability of the advice and anecdotes is refreshing. Khuller writes in clear, accessible and friendly prose, designed to encourage and inspire new, and experienced freelancers in the art of finding ideas, markets and putting together query letters with those ideas, for those markets, in order to land writing assignments.

Khuller presents a number of "assignments," brainstorming techniques and practical suggestions designed to give you targeted and viable ideas --the obvious basis of any query. The assignments provide activities which will help you understand the limits of your own knowledge, and ensure that, when you do get a sale (as you will if you follow Khuller's advice), your work is relevant to you, for example: "Make a list of all the jobs you've held previously and for each, come up with an idea that would appeal to a mass audience." The idea generation questions in this section are guaranteed block busters, and will provide the basis for magazine articles for the rest of your working career. Some of the suggestions, like itemising your big successes, or noting the compliments that others give you may seem obvious, and they are, but just the process of working through the questions in writing, with article ideas as the agenda, is enough to generate a huge number of fairly original topics. Khuller provides advice on how to ensure that your idea is original too, by using a very common title for one market (like an article about good eating for a pregnancy magazine) and switching the market (an article on your pregnant spouse's diet for a man's magazine).

If you've followed Khuller's advice in the idea chapter, you will probably already have a number of markets lined up, but Knock Their Socks Off provides a detailed guide to the different types of markets, generally focussed towards the non-fiction magazine markets, both online and print. She also provides links to some of the more respected online market e-zines and instructions on how to set up an manage a market/query database for the huge number of potential markets. Once you have a good list of markets, it is critical to determine whether the piece you are pitching is a good fit for the market and Khuller provides a number of techniques for customising your queries in a way which will be most attractive. She also provides advice on how to obtain and make good use of quotes and expert opinion, with tips on using online websites like Profnet and NewsWise.

The rest of the book goes into the nitty gritty of putting together an actual query, from the salutation through the lead or hook, the brief, the bio and clips. Throughout the book are examples and anecdotes, quotes from queries that worked, and those that didn't, and tricks for making your queries stand out above others. Hints on using photographs, formatting, e-mail querying, one sentence queries and resubmissions, with a range of real life templates/queries that you can use yourself with a few modifications. Khuller also suggests a workable schedule for ensuring a steady supply of queries goes out (2 queries for each rejection). Although at 130 pages, this isn't a lengthy book, it is a pleasurable, humorous read full of pithy information designed solely to get the reader writing for the potentially lucrative magazine/freelance article market. By the time you've finished Knock Your Socks Off if you haven't already begun the process of writing a series of weekly queries, and receiving a reasonably number of acceptances, you probably aren't serious about being a freelance non-fiction writer.

Beach Girls
Luanne Rice
Bantam Books
Bantam Dell, Division of Random House
NY, NY 1-800-733-3000
ISBN: 0553587242 $7.50 428 pp.

Martha Robach

Within the magic circle Emma has drawn in the sand, Stevie, Emma and Maddie chant, "Beach girls now, beach girls tomorrow, beach girls till the end of time." The three girls enjoy blissful summers on the beach at Hubbard's Point, Connecticut, during their youth. But now years later there are only two surviving "beach girls," and they are lonely women whose lives have turned into an emotional wasteland. Stevie Moore, artist and author, after three failed marriages and having "fallen in love too hard and too wrong," lives hermit-like at her beach house on Hubbard's Point until nine-year-old Nell Kilvert bolts past her "Please go away" sign, skinning her knees on the rocky path leading to Stevie's door.

Nell is the daughter of Emma, who Stevie lost touch with years before. Emma married Maddie's handsome older brother Jack, making Emma and Maddie sister-in-laws. But now Emma is dead. And something that occurred during the traffic accident that killed Emma and seriously injured Maddie a year before has driven a wedge between Jack and his sister. Nell grieves the loss of her mother and the beloved aunt she is forbidden to see and strives to come closer to them through Stevie's beach memories. With Nell, Stevie begins again to feel the warmth of the sun, and that sun glows even hotter when Stevie meets Jack. There is an instant attraction between them, but Jack is bewildered, struggling to cope with his wife's death while building a new life for himself and Nell.

In Beach Girls, Luanne Rice probes gently but realistically some of life's darkest trials: the loss of one's mother during childhood and the suffering at the end of a marriage. As Stevie, Nell, Jack and Maddie attempt to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and find a way to fit them together once more, the book progresses like a wander through a maze, with each character allowing his or her feelings to lead them, submerged as they are in the dark substance of life's tragedies. Rice extols the beneficial effects of psychotherapy during deep trauma, and emphasizes the importance of taking care of the environment and all living things. Even when her characters appear to lose all hope of happiness, they are pulled back from the abyss by the bonds of friendship, family and the coherent force of beloved surroundings.

I read Beach Girls at the suggestion of my daughter, who is a big fan of Luanne Rice and eagerly awaits the appearance of her latest novel. Rice is a prolific and popular writer. Her former novels include Dance With Me, The Perfect Summer, The Secret Hour, Safe Harbor, Summer Light and Firefly Beach. The author's in-depth descriptions of emotions and romantic settings will be most appreciated by women, but her topics are universal.

Detailed and lyrical descriptions of New England's beaches draw the reader into the story. A full-moon night on Hubbard's Point is pictured: " the moon would crown the surface -- a copper-colored orb slipping out of one element into another. It would shimmer, then clarify, turn glowing white, and grow smaller as it rose high in the sky, its light trickling onto the surface of the Sound."

This book is an enchanting, sincere and positive read, with an ending that demonstrates the redemption and solace family, friends, love and nature can bring in times of loneliness and sorrow.

Rich Dad's Escape from the Rat Race: How to Become a Rich Kid by Following Rich Dad's Advice
Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter, CPA
Little, Brown, and Company
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316000477 $9.99

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Don't let the comic book format fool you! Money is serious business. But let's face it -- that's bor-ring! Yet Tim Turtle makes a strong case for achieving financial intelligence when he runs out of money at the amusement park. He thinks the answer to his money problems is to get a job. When Red Rat laughs at him and says he'll never get rich by working at a job, poor Tim is totally confused. But isn't that how to make money? Instead Red Rat shows him the difference between working for money and making money work for him. Based on Kiyosaki's bestselling book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad", this comic book adventure into the world of finance brings money issues to life. How to find moneymaking opportunities and create assets are explored in ways that are fun and easy to understand.

Christopher Moore
ISBN: 006056668X $13.95

Terry Mathews

I had a ball reading this book. I've just finished ISLAND OF THE SEQUINED LOVE NUN and THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE, too.

Christopher Moore is a New Age Hunter Thompson. Irreverent. Cheeky. Cynical. And thought-provoking.

Set in Maui, FLUKE centers around an expert whale researcher seeing the words BITE ME on the tail of a humpback whale. Of course, he was the only one who saw it and the pictures he took didn't turn out, so he has to prove to himself that he's not going crazy from too much time in a boat.

Moore has filled his book with rich characters, a plausible plot (mostly), and some really wild adventures.

Moore has many gifts, but the one that shines brightest is his skewed view of what most of us see as normal. He makes his readers pause and think: "Could this really happen?"


Alisa's Bookshelf

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
Kim Harrison
Harper Torch
ISBN: 0060572973 $6.99 453 pp.

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead is Kim Harrison's follow-up to Dead Witch Walking. The world of this duo is a future Cincinnati which has survived a genetically engineered tomato plague that has exposed 'supernaturals' to the world. The supernaturals have staked out a community called the Hallows. To humans, the Hallows is like Vegas or New Orleans during Mardi Gras - a definite walk on the wild side and tourist trap.

Rachel is back with a vengeance along with Jenks, her pixie sidekick, and Ivy, the living vamp. The story begins about a month after the conclusion of Dead Witch Walking. Rachel is still struggling to earn her half of expenses at the church with Ivy. Rachel's new association with FIB - the Federal Inderlander Bureau, police force for humans, finally pans out. On the surface the case appears simple - Sara Jane's warlock boyfriend has disappeared. Normally IS, police force for supernaturals, would handle the case, but they have a 72 hour waiting period. Rachel jumps at the chance to be involved for the money and Sara Jane is Trent Kalamack's secretary.

As normal, nothing is as it seems. Dan, Sara Jane's boyfriend, may be one in a string of grisly murders of ley line witches. Ley line witches tap into the Ever-After using ley lines for their power. Rachel is at a disadvantage as she failed the ley line witch class she took in college. She is also very leery of the Ever-After due to the demon attack in Dead Witch Walking and the death of her father. Rachel finds many links to Trent, but is unable to find hard proof to satisfy Detective Edden of the FIB.

The Hallows is the incredible world created by Kim Harrison. The alternate world of the Ever-After with a demon city is very interesting. Rachel finally takes us to Pizza Piscary and we get to meet the master vampire Piscary himself. Kist and his motorcycle are back to torment Rachel. During the course of the novel, we finally get a much clearer picture of what Trent Kalamack is and what his motives are.

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead far exceeded my expectations after Dead Witch Walking. The storyline branches out in many directions that are unexpected and thrilling to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and am anxiously awaiting the third installment, Every Which Way But Dead due out in July of 2005.

Kim Harrison describes herself as born in the Midwest. She has been called a witch, among other things, but has never seen a vampire (that she knows of). She loves graveyards and midnight jazz, and wears too much black. Please be sure to visit her website at:

The Autumn Castle
Kim Wilkins
ISBN: 044652381X $24.95 435 pp.

The Autumn Castle, first in the Europa series is a very fascinating urban fantasy from Australian author Kim Wilkins. I highly recommend this wonderfully imaginative series.

The Autumn Castle introduces use to a group of artist who are currently working under a fellowship which allows them to live at the Hotel Mandy Z. in Berlin, Germany. The fellowship is through a very eccentric artist, Immanuel Zweigler whom everyone calls Mandy Z. Jude, one of the artists, lives with his girlfriend, Christine Starlight. Christine is an American who lived in Berlin as a child. The artists are rounded out by Gerda, Pete, and Fabiyan.

Christine has had a very difficult life. While living in Berlin, she befriended a neighbor child everyone called little May. May and Christine were inseparable. One night, May disappeared and was presumed dead. Christine and her parents moved back to America shortly after May's disappearance. In 1989, she lost her parents in a horrific car accident that left her with horrid injuries. The car accident was caused by another driver who never even paused to see if anyone survived. Life was bleak for Christine until Jude appeared in her life like a knight in shinning armor.

Mandy Z. is a very complex and creepy man. He is a world renowned sculptor and is also color blind. Along with being incredibly wealthy, he is also an insane sociopath. He is secretly working on a bizarre sculpture he calls the Bone Wife. This sculpture is not made of marble or any other stone, but of fairy bones. Mandy Z. has a unique gift that allows him to know when a person is really a Fairy.

One fateful day, Christine injures herself and is transported to Ewigkreis, Fairyland. In this strange land, Christine encounters a talking fox named Eisengrimm and the Fairy Queen. Queen Mayfridh is Christine's childhood friend, May. As children, they preformed a 'blood bond' that allowed Christine to enter Ewigkreis. One characteristic of Fairyland is residents forget about humans and our world once the seasons change. Queen Mayfridh is amazed and intrigued to be reunited with her friend Christine. After Christine returns to the real world, Mayfridh longs for all she lost when she entered Ewigkreis. Soon a plan is hatched to allow Mayfridh to visit the world she left as a child.

The residents of Hotel Mandy Z. are on a collision course with Mayfridh. She brings out many dark secrets and tempts Mandy Z. to commit unspeakable acts. Mayfridh's visit brings all these horrors and more to pass. Christine, Jude, and the rest are never the same again.

Kim Wilkins has created an incredible tale of morality and madness to delight. Her characters are rich and multidimensional. The plot does seem to lag at times, but that is a result of dealing with character development. We get to know the residents of Hotel Mandy Z. and Ewigkreis very intimately. The twists and turns created in the plot are amazing in their ingenuity. This is not a typical Fairytale nor is it a typical fantasy. At the end, Wilkins treats us to a real Fairytale that closes the plot in such a way that you crave more.

Kim Wilkins lives in Australia and is the author of numerous books. Her Europa series continues with the Giants of the Frost - available in Australia, and the Snow Witch - to be released July, 2005 in Australia. For more information, visit her website at

Elphame's Choice
P.C. Cast
ISBN: 0373802137 $13.95 551 pp.

Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast is a wonderful follow-up to Cast's first novel, Goddess by Mistake. Elphame's Choice is set in the same world, Partholon about 125 years after the events in Goddess by Mistake.

Elphame, the great-granddaughter of Rhiannon and the daughter of Etain, the current Goddess Incarnate is struggling to find her way. Born part-human and part-centaur, she is worshiped by the people of Partholon and she hates it. Elphame is a woman - not a goddess. Epona, the Goddess, has never directly spoken to Elphame. As a matter of fact, Elphame has never experienced anything magical except her hybrid looks.

MacCallan Castle, according to Goddess by Mistake was the site of a terrible atrocity. The Fomorians, vampire-like demons attacked the castle, murdered all the men and used the woman as incubators for their children. Fomorians had lost the ability to reproduce and had discovered that human woman could be used for children. These women died a horrible death at the birth of these Fomorian off-spring. With the help of Rhiannon and Epona, the Fomorians were defeated and driven into the Wastelands. MacCallan Castle was destroyed when it was used a funeral pyre for the dead.

Elphame has decided MacCallan Castle should be rebuilt. She hopes those who join her endeavor will accept her just as a woman and not a goddess. To assist her in rebuilding the castle are her brother, Cuchulainn, Danann, Stonemaster and centaur, Brighid, a Huntress and centaur, Brenna, a Healer, and many others. This band of young people are hopeful that MacCallan Castle will be a place for them to start over and have a better way of life.

The Fomorians are not done with Partholon. While the original Fomorians have long since died off of a plague, their children have survived. Epona, in her infinite wisdom, allowed some of the mothers to survive. These mothers loved their children, even though they where fathered by Fomorians. These hybrid children raised by loving mothers fight a constant battle to retain their humanity. Lochlan, their leader, believes in a prophecy told to him by his mother - the hybrid Fomorians will gain salvation from madness with the blood of a dying Goddess. Lochlan believes this to be Elphame - who is also his lifemate.

P.C. Cast has created a wonderful and rich mythology for Elphame's Choice. The intricate characterizations make the book very interesting to read. This is not just as standard romantic fantasy. There are no buxom heroines in distress. Elphame is strong in both character and body. While some parts of the story are traditional romance, most is not. The storyline has a few twists that are not anticipated. The fantasy element of the book is what dominates the storyline. The ending will even surprise most. It is not your typical 'happy ever after.' I enjoyed reading this book.

P.C. Cast is a professional teacher and speaker. Her first book, Goddess by Mistake won the Holt Medallion in the category of best paranormal romance, The Prism Award, and the Laurel Wreath Award for Excellence in Published Romance Fiction. Goddess by Mistake will be re-released by Luna entitled Partholon by Mistake in the fall of 2005. Her other works include Goddess of Spring, Goddess of the Sea, and Goddess of Light. For more information, please visit her website at .

Sister of the Dead
Barb & J.C. Hendee
ISBN: 045146009X $7.50 405 pp.

Sister of the Dead is Barb & J.C. Hendee's third book in the Noble Dead series. Once again, we join Magiere and Leesil on their journey for the truth - no matter where it takes them. Wynn, an apprentice sage, and Chap, a Fay spirit in dog form, round out this intrepid traveling group.

Magiere is a dhampir, half-human and half-vampire. She is a hybrid created for unknown reasons. In Dhampir, Magiere was introduced to Welstiel Massing, a Noble Dead (vampire) who told her she was created to kill other Noble Dead. In Thief of Lives, Welstiel is unmasked and Magiere learns his true intentions - to force her to find an artifact that will allow Welstiel to become human again. Needless to say, Magiere is not one to appreciate being manipulated and has vowed to never help Welstiel in his quest.

At the conclusion of Thief of Lives, Magiere and Leesil have decided two different treks are in order. Leesil, half-elf and half-human, has just found out that his elvish mother, Nein'a is still alive. Leesil has vowed to find out her fate. He believed his parents were executed after he deserted employment as an assassin to a powerful lord.

Magiere seeks to find out why she was created. Her mother, Magelia was impregnated by a Noble Dead with Magiere the result. Magelia died shortly after Magiere's birth and she was raised by her Aunt Bieja in the small village of ChemestŁk in the country of Droevinka. Life was hard for Magiere as the other villagers never accepted her.

Leesil and Magiere decide to head to ChemestŁk first as it is closer. This decision brings about much knowledge and even more questions. The events around Magiere's birth are even more complex then anyone had previously considered. The journey is arduous for all and much is revealed.

Sister of the Dead is a wonderful addition to the Noble Dead series. While certain mysterious are answered, even more are created. Leesil and Magiere's relationship deepens. We learn more about Chap and what his intentions are. Sister of the Dead leads us on an amazing adventure that will keep you engrossed until the final chapter.

The Noble Dead series is a mix of high-fantasy and traditional vampire fiction. This makes the series unique and interesting. The fantasy elements are interwoven with the vampire lore. Magiere is a hybrid and as such struggles with her nature. Leesil has similar struggles as he is also a hybrid. The two together present both sides of the mixed genres. This is a series that will appeal to both horror and fantasy fans.

Barb & J.C. Hendee are a husband/wife pair of writers. Dhampir is the first in the Noble Dead series, followed by Thief of Lives, and Sister of the Dead. Traitor to the Blood, fourth in the series, is scheduled to be published in January, 2006. Barb Hendee is the author of another vampire novel, Blood Memories published in 1999. Both authors have written many short stories. They have a website at with many extras for the series.

Alisa McCune

Arlene's Bookshelf

Dreams Found
Lyn Denison
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 0931513589; $12.95; 201 pp.

In Lyn Denison's novel, Dreams Found, Australian carpenter Riley James is a twenty-five year-old woman who has decided to locate her birth mother who gave Riley up for adoption. She has the complete love and support of her adoptive mother, Lenore. "As I see this, love," she continued, "the most important thing is whether or not you want to contact your birth parents." (Page 9) Through some vigorous research Riley finds the woman and makes that all-important first telephone call. " I was born on September twenty-fourth." (Page 13) To which Margaret Easton whispers into the phone, "My baby girl." (Page 13) Thus begins one woman's journey to discover a family she never knew, and at the same time, to meet a young woman, Jayne, who could affect Riley in a myriad of ways. Throughout this passage there are the reassuring confirmations as well as the unexpected pitfalls that serve both to inspire and discourage Riley. Friends, some calmly and steadfastly loyal and another the epitome of outrageous egocentricity, take part as she tries to put into perspective how her life is, should, and will evolve.

Denison has crafted a novel with likable and realistic characters whose exceptionally believable seamless dialogue flows smoothly and effortlessly. Riley James is a proud and out lesbian who sometimes questions whether her birth mother will be accepting of this fact, while at the same time, Riley never denies who she is. Mac Bradford, her straight male best friend, provides the comic relief with his easy self-deprecating swagger and magnetism. Jayne Easton captures the angst and uncertainty of a thirty year-old woman who has followed the corporate and conventional path and the expectations of others for too long and far too intensely. She also is on a journey of rediscovery and renewal. "Looking back, I suppose I settled ." (Page 194) It remains to be seen if Jayne can overcome the obstacles in her path and trust in her own judgment. Darren Wardell, Jayne's business partner, exhibits that smarmy, suffocating, and superficial charm of a fundamentally insecure man that wears thin and tedious for most whom he encounters, and that feeble charm increasingly exasperates and infuriates Riley. Their skillfully written pivotal verbal confrontation is one to be savored and re-read with delight.

Denison develops the plot in a sequential, straightforward, and comprehensible fashion. Conflicts are created with just the precise degree of foreshadowing which enables the reader to actively anticipate and participate. Becoming part of any scene is the hope and desire for most readers, and they will be neither disappointed nor dissatisfied here. One can indeed identify with these two main protagonists, Riley and Jayne, and their trials, uncertainties, and aspirations. Events fall so neatly and believably into place that the reader never has to think or utter those five dreaded words, "Where did that come from?" In a subdued, yet controlled and quiet style, Denison creates tension and suspense that ring true. These actions never appear to be maudlin, gratuitous, or unwarranted.

Lyn Denison's novel Dreams Found is, indeed, undeniably one of those exceptional books that one is reluctant to put down; it truly is an indisputable page-turner. Denison effectively manages to take a rather routine occurrence, seeking one's birth parents, and transforms it into a particularly plausible and richly rewarding narrative. What makes this book so different from so many others of this genre is this author's ability to imbue her characters with such a degree of coherent vulnerability and fortitude that the reader cannot help but be enchanted with them from the very start. The realizations that Riley and Jayne discover, as they examine who they are and desire to be, create empathy within the reader that is both satisfying and enjoyable. This reader is eagerly looking forward to a sequel to Dreams Found for two crucial reasons. First, this novel has only two-hundred and one pages; at times one does feel slightly rushed toward the finale. Secondly, there is undeniably more to explore, amplify, and expand with these attractive and engaging characters. Of course, it could very well be simply a matter of this reader's not wanting a good thing to end.

Saving Grace, Second Edition
Jennifer Fulton
Yellow Rose Books
PMB 210, 8691 9th Avenue, Port Arthur, TX 77642-8025
ISBN 1932300260; $15.95; 167 pp.

Dawn Beaumont, a once promising Australian champion swimmer with Olympic aspirations, is again bemoaning the sad state of her twenty-two year-old life to her cousin Trish. It's been six months since Dawn's accident shattered any prospects for an athletic career. To make matters worse, she has returned to her parents' home which causes her to proclaim dramatically, "It's driving me 'round the bend living at home" (page 1). Trish explains that she has planned a holiday get-away for Dawn, a return trip to the isolated Moon Island, so that she can relax, strengthen her body, and generally get her priorities in order. Recognizing an opportunity to escape from her parental strangle-hold, Dawn reluctantly accepts her cousin's offer to return to a place which has less than pleasant memories for her. However, at this stage in Dawn's life, any alternative would be better than her present situation.

Grace Ramsay, a thirty-two year-old scientist and savvy career woman from New York City, is on her way to Moon Island where she will be conducting discreet geological studies for Argus Chemco, a worldwide conglomerate searching for a new dumping ground for toxic wastes. Grace, too, has a past, one she has neither accepted nor dealt with. However, this is only one of the reasons why this so very cool and composed woman careens from one meaningless affair to another, consumes far too much alcohol, and is so ruthless in both her professional and personal dealings with others.

The two women soon find themselves sharing the small island, and this proves to be a challenge for them both. Add to this mix a former lover, an unscrupulous businessman, a casual one night stand, and another's sexual awakening, and you have all the elements necessary to keep you reading until the very last word of the epilogue.

Jennifer Fulton has created credible conflicts, both internal as well as external. The main characters, Dawn and Grace, are beset with numerous problems which each can no longer avoid, deny, or escape. Yet these struggles are described through viable actions and believable dialogue. Both women have realistically reached that pivotal point in their lives, and for better or worse, the choices each woman will make will affect more than simply themselves.

This novel offers well-rounded, three-dimensional characters, not stereotypes or stock players. The secondary characters are endowed with personality, insight, and humor. There are people the reader grows fond of, wants to spend time with, and hopes only the best for like the septuagenarian nurse living alone on a Pacific atoll or the bi-sexual personal assistant who, after having spent only one brief evening of lust with Grace, understands Grace better than Grace cares to admit or even recognize.

Fulton's writing style is fluid, fast-paced, and compact yet it is extremely descriptive, " watching the procession of colors from sapphire to heliotrope to amethyst, until finally the blood-red sun fused with the ocean." (Page 35) The diction chosen captures the mood of the scene, "blinking in the buttercup light of morning" (page 50). This appreciation for just the right word enhances the narrative, "In the moonlight, she glowed marble-smooth, her hollows and contours deeply shadowed" (page 74). Proficiency in word choice too often is a neglected skill. Being able to strike that natural balance between the trite and the florid is a talent which is most evident in this novel. Imagery is not given short shrift here.

Ethics, moral principles, integrity, self-worth, acceptance, and societal accountability are some of the themes touched upon in Saving Grace. However, the author has managed to seamlessly weave them throughout the intelligent plotting that the reader never loses sight of the fact that she is reading a true romance novel of two women on a journey of discovery. It is to the author's credit that the reader can so easily read between the lines; there is depth to this novel.

Jennifer Fulton's Saving Grace is an enjoyably entertaining and rewarding way to spend a few hours. The exceedingly likable and believable characters find themselves in the midst of various intriguing and startling developments. The delicate convolutions of personal relationships, sexual awakening, and past misfortunes will keep the reader thoroughly engaged and satisfied. Although this novel is Book II in Fulton's Moon Island Series, it is not a prerequisite to have read the first installment. This is an excellent stand-alone novel, complete in its detail and current issues. Saving Grace has all the hallmarks of a well written romance novel: unique setting, superb characters, plausible dialogue, and realistic and exciting sexual depictions. This is a tale that will make you want to pack your bag, buy an airplane ticket, and check into that tropical cottage on Moon Island where you can read the rest of the series.

Arlene Germain

Bethany's Bookshelf

The Book of Daniel
Mary Breeden, illuminator
Elderberry Press
1393 Old Homestead Drive, 2nd floor, Oakland, OR 97462-9506
1932762264 $20.00

The Book of Daniel is an illuminated rendition of Christian Biblical text, chronicling the experiences of Daniel, a man "greatly beloved" by God and an excellent role model for today. Colorful artwork in the style of Persian courts - Persia is the site of ancient Babylon where the story takes place - lends vivacity to this timeless classic. Though it resembles a child's picturebook at first glance, The Book of Daniel is a faithful rendition of the Biblical story and equally meaningful to young and old readers.

So Who Is This Jesus?
Russell Boulter, host
Vision Video
PO Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490
#4806D $19.99

So Who Is This Jesus? is a superbly produced, 48 minute, full color, DVD documentary that offers viewers a basic introduction to Jesus. Specifically designed for young people who have no idea who Jesus is, and ideal viewing for anyone needing a helpful overview about Jesus, host Russell Boulter takes an engaging and thoroughly "viewer friendly" approach in providing a tour of the very places Jesus lived and ministered in the Holy Land. We meet a Jesus who changed people's lives then and who continues to do so now. A co-production with Christian Television Associates of Bristol, England, and organized in a three part presentation, this outstanding and DVD is also available in a VHS format. So Who Is This Jesus? is an ideal addition to family, church school, and Sunday School multi-media resource collection.

Raising Maidens Of Virtue
Stacy McDonald
Books On The Path
20770 Westheimer Parkway, Suite 504, Katy, TX 77450
0974339016 $17.99

It has always been a primary task of Christian parenthood that fathers and mothers raise their daughters to grow up exhibiting such moral values and personal behaviors as modesty, purity, cleanliness, compassion, industriousness, courtesy, guarded of speech, peaceable with their siblings, honoring their parents, and keeping faith with their God. These are all attributes ascribed to biblically based standards of feminine beauty both in appearance and in conduct. In Raising Maidens Of Virtue: A Study Of Feminine Loveliness For Mothers And Daughters, wife and homeschooling mother of nine uses stories, conversational teachings, illustrations, and memory-making projects to aid mothers in teaching their daughters on how to best comport themselves as Christian women and to deal with the inevitable decisions that will confront those daughters with respect to family life, peer relations, courtship, marriage, and all other aspects of womanhood in the world today. Raising Maidens Of Virtue is strongly recommended reading for parents wanting only the best for their daughters and seeking to help their daughters to want only the best for themselves.

Earth, Wind, & Fire
Carol J. Dempsey & Mary Margaret Pazdan, editors
Liturgical Press
Saint John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
0814651100 $21.95

Assembled, compiled, organized and co-edited by Carol J. Dempsey (an instructor in Biblical Studies and Theology, University of Portland) and Mary Margaret Pazdan (Professor of New Testament, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis), Earth, Wind, & Fire: Biblical And Theological Perspectives On Creation consists of twelve papers by experts in their fields that together provide the reader with a compelling dialogue between feminist exegetes and theologians on the subject of creation. Common themes running through these diverse contributions concerning distinct texts in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures celebrate the biblical traditions of creation inclusive of plants, animals, non-human and human life, as well as the male and female genders. An impressive body of academic and theologic work, Earth, Wind, & Fire is a testament to the creative artistry of God within the Judeo/Christian tradition, and highly recommended reading for both seminary students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Genesis story of creation as interpreted and reference in both the Old and New Testaments.

Susan Bethany

Betsy's Bookshelf

Sylvia Plachy: Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home
Sylvia Plachy
20 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010-4463
193178843X $50.00 1-800-929-2323

Sylvia Plachy: Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home is a moving and personal photographic memoir by expert photographer Sylvia Plachy. Forced to depart her native Hungary at age thirteen with her parents, she arrived in America in 1958 and became a U.S. citizen in 1963; Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home reflects upon the Eastern Europe of her childhood, her changing homeland, and the trials and travails of growing up in America. The black-and-white images throughout offer a unique look into the stages of her life and the world around her, and her commentary is a candid window of insight into her difficulties and joys. A moving and emotional collection.

Beyond the Reach of Time and Change
Simon J. Ortiz, editor
University of Arizona Press
355 South Euclid Avenue, Suite 103, Tucson, AZ 85719-6654
0816523606 $24.95 1-800-426-3797

Beyond the Reach of Time and Change: Native American Reflections on the Frank A. Rinehart Photograph Collection features one hundred photographic portraits taken during the very late nineteenth century by professional Frank A. Rinehart. Rinehart practiced his trade upon Native Americans in their traditional dress during the an event known as the Indian Congress; his landmark photography, which unlike that of others did not pander to shameless stereotypes, rests in the Haskell Indian Nations University today and is widely regarded as one of the best photographic documentaries of the era. In addition to the powerful black-and-white photographs of individuals and groups from a wide variety of native tribes, Beyond the Reach of Time and Change features 14 essays by modern Native American writers, artists and educators - including some descendants of the individuals photographed - offering various reflections upon the role of these timeless images in their heritage. Highly recommended for native studies shelves and personal collections, and an emotional collection to page through.

The Art of Photographing Children
Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Amphoto Books
c/o Watson Guptill Publications
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0817435476 $24.95 1-800-451-1741

The Art of Photographing Children: Techniques for Making Better Color, Black and White, Handcolored, and Digital Pictures is a no-nonsense guide for amateur and professional photographers alike. Chapters discuss optimum equipment, lighting, composition, and more, such as how to capture an important moment, and tips for running a smooth photo shoot. The easy-to-follow narration accompanies a wealth of black-and-white and color photographs that keenly illustrate points and principles discussed. Highly recommended for proud parents seeking to succinctly capture their child's milestones on film, family portrait experts striving to improve their craft, and every photographer in between.

Charms and Charm Bracelets: The Complete Guide
Joanne Schwartz, author; Robert N. Schwartz, photographer
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
0764321293 $39.95

Charms and Charm Bracelets: The Complete Guide is a price guide to charm bracelets from the 19th century to the present, illustrated with over 300 color photographs and featuring jewelry ranging in composition from gold to plastic. Written by an enthusiastic collector of antique jewelry, Charms and Charm Bracelets discusses techniques in making charms, trends in charm and jewelry making throughout the decades, factors to consider when evaluating and appraising specific pieces of charm jewelry, and much more. A "must-have" resource for serious collectors, and a treasury to page through for art lovers interested in this unique form of adornment.

Heather McHugh
Wesleyan University Press
215 Long Lane, Middletown, CT 06459
0819566721 $20.00 1-800-421-1561

Eyeshot is a collection of free-verse poetry. The common theme of the wide range of human blindness - from literally being unable to see to willfully refusing to see what lies before one - permeates these often dark verses, sometimes brooding and anxious, sometimes laced with black humor. "Through" (After Sully Prudhomme) In blue or black, all lovely and beloved, / Some countless human eyes have seen the dawn. / They're sleeping at the bottom of the grave. / Here comes the sun. // But far more delicately than the days / The nights ignite in countless eyes a spark. / The stars are always sending out their rays: / Eyes fill with dark. // That they should lose their glimmer, one and all- / No way. It simply isn't possible. / I say they've turned toward the side we call / Invisible. // And like the stars that must incline to set / They too are somewhere out there in the sky; / The eye-lights may go down at times and yet / They do not die. // All lovely or beloved, in black and blue, / To any dawn's immensities disposed / On earth's far side they're seeing through / The lids we closed.

Vitamins: Their Role in the Human Body
G. F. M. Ball
Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
0632064781 $199.99 1-800-216-2522

Vitamins: Their Role in the Human Body is a single-source reference and textbook that assimilates the latest knowledge about vitamins' biological properties with regard to human nutrition. Introductory chapters cover historical and nutritional aspects of vitamins, detailed aspects of physiology and functional anatomy, biochemistry, immunology, the regulation of protein synthesis by nuclear hormone receptors, and much more. The subsequent thirteen chapters scrutinize each specific vitamin in turn. A glossary, bibliography, and index round out this expert resource intended especially for nutritionists, biochemists, physiologists, physicians, food scientists, food technologists, and other health professionals whether in the fields of research, teaching, or study. An in-depth overview of vitamins, that does not shy from advanced scientific detail but is packed with tools to help the lay reader understand exactly what vitamins are and what they do. Highly recommended especially for health and science student and library collections.

Workouts for Women
Joni Hyde
Healthy Living Books
c/o Hatherleigh Press
5-22 46th Avenue, Suite 200, Long Island City, NY 11101
157826183X $16.95 1-800-528-2550

Certified Personal Trainer Joni Hyde presents Workouts for Women: The 12-Minute Total Body Sculpting Workout, a straightforward introduction to circuit training, offering a program designed by a woman for women. Focusing on a total body exercise session that builds feminine lean muscle tone, increases strength, and cultivates aerobic endurance in a time-efficient workout that can be condensed into as little as 12 minutes a day, Workouts for Women also offers tips for fitting exercise into one's schedule and eating right for optimum health. Over 90 different exercises, illustrated with black-and-white photographs as well as meticulous instructions, make Workouts for Women an easy-to-use resource to tailor a fitness regimen right for the individual.

Strength Training For Women
Lori Incledon
Human Kinetics
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61825-5076
0736052232 $18.95

Lori Incledon is Vice President of Human Performance Specialists, and for more than a decade has been highly involved in personal training, sport-specific conditioning, physical therapy, athletic training, and injury prevention. Specializing in women's personal training with an emphasis on strength training, Lori draws upon her considerable experience and impressive expertise in Strength Training For Women to present a unique, individualized, highly recommended approach to strength training specifically designed to teach women how their muscles function so that they can take maximum advantage of every workout they do. Sample training programs and exercises are provided to work every area of the female form, and are presented in such a way as to be easily customized for individual training objectives. Organized into three main sections ("Designing Women"; "Results-Oriented Training"; "Movements and Muscles", Strength Training For Women is the ideal do-it-yourself instructional guide which is enhanced with an Appendix, Glossary, "References and Resources", and an index.

Betsy L. Hogan

Betty's Bookshelf

Feminine Wiles: Creative Techniques for Writing Women's Features Stories That Sell
Donna Elizabeth Boetig
Quill Driver Books
c/o Word Dancer Press
1831 Industrial Way, Ste. 101, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956025 $14.95 184 p.

If you want to make it into the pages of magazines like Ladies' Home Journal or Woman's Day, Donna Elizabeth Boetig can show you the way. The cover of her book, Feminine Wiles, is as eye-catching as the covers of popular women's magazines, plastered with headlines that grab your attention and make you want to read what's inside, just like the newsstand magazine covers: Get Intimate With Your Readers. Why Gushing Doesn't Sell. Stark-Naked Interviews - Getting a Woman to Bare Her Soul. Inside, Boetig divides her information into four cleverly-titled sections that will move you from reading women's magazines to writing for them.

In the first section, The Chase, Boetig tells you how to come up with ideas and how to massage them to fit the magazine you want to sell them to. In addition, she gives you tips on how to write attention-getting query letters, how to do a good interview, how to get permission to tell someone's story, and how to use quotes appropriately and effectively.

The second section, (The Drama) demonstrates the use and importance of pictures and emotions to illustrate and add oomph to a story, while the third section, (The Main Event) gives several formulas and lists of steps for writing the actual meat of an article.

Finally, in The Bye Lines, Boetig demonstrates showing, not telling, fact-checking, marketing, and other end-of-the-process details. If being published in a big name women's magazine is one of your goals, reading Feminine Wiles will be a great jump-start. In fact, once you've finished, you'll be overflowing with ideas and possibilities. I find it so inspiring that it's one of the books I keep handy for days when I'm threatened with writer's block!

Until the Last Dog Dies
John Laurence Robinson
River Oak
c/o Cook Communications Ministries
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
1589190211 $12.99 381 p.

Until the Last Dog Dies is a Joe Box mystery, the second by author John Laurence Robinson. (The third Joe Box title, When Skylarks Fall, is due out from RiverOak in October 2005, and Robinson is currently writing Skin the Cat.) Sadly, the first Joe Box book, Sock Monkey Blues, is currently unavailable, as it was originally published by a Publish-On-Demand company that refuses to return the rights. Robinson is currently in negotiations with said company, and I look forward to eventually being able to read Sock Monkey Blues, too.

Meanwhile, my enjoyment of Until the Last Dog Dies was not hampered much by not having read the first book. A few questions did crop up, but none made a big difference in following what was going on (and most were answered by the end of the book, through the use of back story). Back story is often known among writers as "infodump", a pejorative term that means the author took a bunch of material he thought the reader needed to know and inserted it whole. It usually sticks out like a sore thumb and many readers skip over it without a qualm.

However, Robinson does it with scarcely a ripple by alternating chapters of Joe's present life as a newly-Christian private investigator with chapters of his past life as a skilled soldier in Vietnam. The story starts with Joe being dragged from sleep by a phone call. It's Little Bit, an army buddy he hasn't heard from in over thirty years, and it isn't good news. A man Joe and Little Bit's unit captured during the war has escaped, according to the terrified Little Bit, and he was gunning for all of them.

Joe couldn't believe it. Martin ten Eyck, the son of a powerful senator, had become a sadistic and talented killer during the war, and after Joe's unit had tracked him down and captured him, he'd been locked up for life in an asylum for the criminally insane. True, ten Eyck had sworn to kill them all, one by one, but he couldn't be out. No one would be that careless with someone that deadly.

But Little Bit has gotten a threatening phone call and he's sure it was ten Eyck, coming for him. Joe finally hangs up, still unconvinced, only to be aroused a few hours later by a call from Little Bit's wife. Little Bit is dead. He was electrocuted while working on a radio that was still plugged in. The authorities have written it off as an accident, but Joe knows better. Soldiers spend a lot of time talking, and he knows Little Bit was terrified of electricity. No way he'd have been working on something still plugged in.

Then, Joe begins to find out about other deaths in the unit. Vlad, who feared blood and being shot at, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot. Ed, who's afraid of driving and always lets others drive him around, dead at the bottom of a cliff in a car he was supposedly driving. Each man had died in the way he'd been most terrified of, and Joe can't convince the authorities that they were murdered. Then, there are more murders, and now Joe is one of only three men left alive. Time to find out what's going on!

When he talks to one of ten Eyck's doctors from the asylum, he discovers that ten Eyck is even more dangerous than before. Over the thirty years ten Eyck has been imprisoned, the asylum treatments have included LSD and unrestricted involvement with the occult. As a result, ten Eyck is possessed by more evil than Joe has ever faced before. He may not be able to stop him from killing again, but - armed with a borrowed gun and backed up by the prayers of the church he attends - he has to try, for it isn't just Joe in danger now, it's everyone he cares about. Will his faith in God, bolstered by prayer, be enough to help Joe stop ten Eyck from killing again?

Betty Winslow

Buhle's Bookshelf

Words of Wisdom: Beginning Buddhism
Master Hsuan Hua
Buddhist Text Translation Society
3106 Crescent Avenue, Unit 7, Marina, CA 93933
0881393029 $12.00

Words of Wisdom: Beginning Buddhism is an anthology of introductory talks concerning Buddhism by Tripitaka Master Hua, who was born near Manchuria in 1918, became a monk at age 19, and brought orthodox Buddhism to the United States in the 1960s. Words of Wisdom discusses such topics as the potential of all living things to become Buddhas, warnings against the three poisons of greed, anger, and sexual misconduct, the Six Guidelines of no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuit of personal advantage, and no lying, and much more. Presented in plain terms easily accessible to the reader who knows little or nothing of Buddhism, Words of Wisdom is a superb introduction to Buddhism as a faith that embraces people of all backgrounds and strives to alleviate the suffering inherent in all life.

Stephanie Kaza
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
1590301722 $16.95

Hooked! Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume is an anthology of essays by a wide variety of learned authors that scrutinize the overpowering desire for material items from a Buddhist viewpoint. From how yearning for material things can have a corruptive influence, to the value of Buddhist tools in restoring balance to one's life and wants, to ethical principles of Buddhist consumption (ranging from how to successfully be generous in a consumerist world to Green Power in contemporary Japan) and much more, these essays strike directly to the heart of modern materialism - what it is, how much is too much, and how to put the craving in its place before it escalates into untold misery. Highly recommended; one does not have to be a Buddhist to see the value in moderation in an increasingly advertisement-saturated world.

Peace Begins Here
Thich Nhat Hanh
Parallax Press
PO Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707
1888375450 $14.00

Peace Begins Here: Palestinians And Israelis Listening To Each Other by Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Thich Nhat Hanh focuses on the importance of Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace and stability of the Middle East and the world as a whole. Thich Nhat Hanh highlights individual stories arising from Palestinian and Israeli participation in "peace retreats" which he led, and how the participants found peace and shared an experience of deep listening, deep relaxation, and "mindful walking". Relying on his lifelong commitment to Buddhist teachings and non-violent action, Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how the opportunity for making peace is possible through daily peace practices. Peace Begins Here offers a kind of blueprint for the readers to join in the peace-making process within their own lives. Peace Begins Here is especially recommended for Buddhist Studies, Peace Studies, Middle East Studies, and International Studies supplemental reading lists and reference collections.

Frege Explained
Joan Weiner
Open Court Publishing Company
332 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60604
0812694600 $18.95

Written by a Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University, Frege Explained: From Arithmetic to Analytic Philosophy is an in-depth examination of Frege's career and legacy. Frege's work was marked by his determination to show that arithmetic is really a part of logic; while that effort ended in failure, in the process Frege revolutionized philosophic understanding of logic and set the foundation for analytic philosophy. Chapters survey Frege's life and character, his "new logic" and definitions of numbers, his logical investigations and speculations upon the foundations of geometry, his impact upon recent and modern philosophy, and much more. Especially for philosophy students and scholars, Frege Explained presents complex concepts in as straightforward a manner as practically possible, and is especially recommended for college library philosophy shelves.

An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire
Arundhati Roy
South End Press
7 Brookline Street, #1, Cambridge, MA 02139-4146
0896087271 $12.00 1-800-533-8478

Award-winning writer Arundhati Roy presents An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire, an anthology of her lectures and essays highlighting the injustice, greed, and corruption behind the "poverty draft" of the United States (in which the military is disproportionately made of individuals of indigent backgrounds, and very, very few politicians have a child serving in Iraq), murderous pogroms against Muslims in India with atrocities that bring so-called ethnic cleansing to mind, the transformation of South Africa that ultimately only further concentrated wealth and power in the hands of a few, and more. From the obsessive nature of crisis reporting in the media that ignores underlying problems and history, or summarizes them in a backward progression if at all, to propaganda as a tool of empire-building, to the ruthlessness of the police state in so-called "democracies" that get their hands as bloody as any fascist, An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire spares nothing in its effort to show the raw, real, and often vicious truth. Highly recommended.

Tribute To A Mathemagician
Barry Cipra, et al.
A K Peters, Ltd.
888 Worcester Street, Suite 230, Wellesley, MA 02482
1568812043 $38.00

Collaboratively compiled and edited by the team of Barry Cipra, Erick D. Demaine, Martin L. Demaine, and Tom Rodgers, Tribute To A Mathemagician is an impressive compilation of mathematical games and puzzles contributed by a roster of "Who's Who" in the world of puzzles. This 464 page collection includes Tripos, Black Jack, Chinese ceramic puzzle vessels, paper folding, Mongolian interlocking puzzles, rolling block puzzles, sliding puzzles, cryptic crosswords, The Panex Puzzle, polyonimo puzzles, and so much more. Tribute To A Mathemagician is a "must" for dedicated puzzle enthusiasts, mathematicians, and gaming enthusiasts of all kinds and categories!

Faith In Science
Gabriel R. Ricci
Transaction Books
Rutgers - The State University
35 Berrue Circle, Piscataway, NJ 08854
0765808420 $24.95

Volume 34 in the Transaction Books "Religion and Public Life" series, Faith In Science is compiled, organized and edited by Gabriel R. Ricci (Associate Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Department of History, Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania). The focus of the expert contributors draw from diverse historical, religious, and scientific vantage points to explore and analyze the relationships of religion and science. After an informed and informative introduction by the editor, Faith In Science is composed of these scholarly essays: A Tech Approach to God and Religion (Guy Consolmagno); On Being an Intellectually Fulfilled Theist: A Critique of Darwin's Dangerous Idea (Anthony Matteo); The Clergyman-Scientist: Locating the Conflict between Science and Religion (William A. Durbin); Teilhard and Evolution: Faith in the Cosmos, Faith in Person, Faith in the Divine (Kathleen Duffy); Valuing Nature: Vital Reconstructions of Anne Conway 1631-1679 (Carol Wayne Wright); Science and Religion: A Reconstructive Postmodern Perspective (Dave Ray Griffin); A Place for Religion in Science? (Robert Pollack); and Science and the Bible: Two Views of One Reality, The Most FAQ's in the Science/Bible Debate (Gerald Shroeder). Faith In Science is especially recommended reading for students of philosophy, religion, and the sciences.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

The Underground Rail Road
William Still
Plexus Publishing, Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055
0937548553 $49.50

Originally published in 1872, The Underground Rail Road presents firsthand accounts of African-American slaves who escaped north via the human support network known as the Underground Railroad. Collected by William Still, the son of emancipated slaves, who helped guide fugitives to safety as an Underground Railroad "conductor" based in Philadelphia, The Underground Rail Road collects letters, testimonies, news articles, and reflections upon extraordinary individual journeys to freedom. Collecting these records, let alone participating in the Underground Railroad, was a dangerous endeavor in an era when merely failing to report slave escapes could get one imprisoned or worse. William Still hid his manuscripts in a crypt to protect himself and the people they documented; he never expected to witness emancipation or the opportunity to publish them in his lifetime. The Underground Rail Road remains a classic first-person anecdotal documentary of history itself, and is highly recommended for American history and library collections.

A Century Apart: Maine Then & Now
Cindy McIntyre
Down East Books
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843
089272613X $28.00 1-800-685-7962

A Century Apart: Maine Then & Now is a gorgeous visual and historic tour of Maine's landscapes and cities. Author Cindy McIntyre was an avid collector of Maine postcards; inspired by the vintage photographs, she sought to compare snapshots of present-day Maine with images past, revealing striking differences and similarities. The text recounts changes in the last hundred years in various Maine towns, while the full-color paintings and photographs often display striking contrasts when placed side by side. A superb souvenir book for Maine vacationers, and a trip down memory lane for longtime Maine residents.

Ohio Archaeology
Bradley T. Lepper
Orange Frazer Press
PO Box 214, Wilmington, OH 45177
1882203399 $39.95 1-800-852-9332

The companion book to the Ohio Archaeology project, which also includes a public television documentary series, an "Ancient Ohio" art series, and a companion website Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures is a superb history of prehistoric cultures in Ohio and their legacy to this day. Full-color artworks, maps, and photographs on almost every page lend a vivid touch to this accounting of ancient migration to and settlement within Ohio, how the first Ohio people lived over thousands of years, Native American earthworks that survive to this day, and legal and ethical controversies concerning the research and display of human remains and funerary objects - while much of scientific use can be learned from such things, many Native Americans consider digging them up a violation of the sanctity of their ancestors' gravesites. Ohio Archaeology is a truly wonderful, balanced, and in-depth read revealing fascinating new details about Ohio's lively past.

The International Book of Days
Stephen G. Christianson
H.W. Wilson Company
950 University Avenue, Bronx, NY 10452
0824209753 $140.00 1-800-367-6770

The International Book of Days is a companion volume to the fourth edition of "The American Book of Days". For each of the 366 days in the year (including February 29th), The International Book of Days remarks on extraordinary and pivotal events in world history, as well as international holidays and observances, from the debut of Beethoven's first symphony to Evacuation Day commemorated in Egypt (celebrating the withdrawal of British colonial forces) to Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. A unique and useful reference, especially recommended for public, school, and private library collections, enhanced with appendices and a straightforward index.

Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress
John Y. Cole and Jane Aikin, editors
Bernan Press with The Library of Congress
4611-F Assembly Drive, Lanham, MD 20706-4391
0890599718 $125.00

The most comprehensive book yet published about the largest library and research institution in the world, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress: For Congress, The Nation & The World is a resource categorizing details about the American Library of Congress in alphabetical order. Entries include biographies of all 13 Librarians of Congress, essays, articles, and more than 300 black-and-white photographs, descriptions of the Library's collections, functions, and administrative units, and much more. An easy-to-use, in-depth, information-packed resource written for lay people as well as students of library science, especially recommended for educational and public libraries.

Walk Around F-8 Crusader
Ed Barthelmes, author; David Gebhardt, illustrator
Squadron/Signal Publications
1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010
0897474848 $TBA 1-972-242-1485

Walk Around F-8 Crusader offers the reader an in-depth tour of the F-8 Crusader airplane, a carrier-based supersonic fighter first designed in the 1950's to serve the US Navy and used as a front line interceptor until December 1999. Known as "The Last of the Gunfighter" because the F-8 Crusader was the last US fighter plane designed with guns as its primary weapon, these planes are examined inside and out, in this guide packed with black-and-white and color photographs. Paragraphs of text delineate technical details of the F-8 as well as convey the craft's strengths, weaknesses, and limitations, as well as the bravery of those who risked their lives to fly them. Recommended for anyone with a keen interest in specific details of military aviation history and the indissoluable contribution made by The Last of the Gunfighters.

Colors: Architecture in Detail
Oscar Riera Ojeda and James McCown, authors; Paul Warchol, photography
Rockport Publishers Inc.
33 Commercial Street, Gloucester, MA 01930-5089
1592531075 $50.00

The third volume in the "Architecture in Detail" series, Colors: Architecture in Detail explores the work of top architects and interior designers working today. Especially focusing on the form/color duality, Colors is filled cover to cover with beautiful photographs illustrating rooms and exteriors based around the impact of various colors: white, black, red, blue, yellow, brown, gray, green, and polychrome. Paragraph highlights draw attention to specific details, but the majority of Colors focuses squarely upon the almost dreamlike images themselves. A truly captivating volume simply to page through.

2005 National Construction Estimator
Dave Ogershok and Richard Pray
Craftsman Book Company
6058 Corte del Cedro, Carlsbad, CA 92009
1572181427 $52.50 1-800-829-8123

Now in its 53rd updated edition, 2005 National Construction Estimator is a no-nonsence resource designed expressly to aid in estimating labor and material costs, manhours, and city cost adjustments for residential, commercial, and industrial construction. 2005 National Construction Estimator consists almost entirely of tables listing prices for each piece of hardware (or manhours); an index allows for swift lookup of individual components. Monthly price updates are automatically available on the web throughout 2005, for free; an accompanying CD-ROM features "National Estimator", a program that will aid the reader since it has all the book's cost estimates plus an easy-to-use Windows program that allows one to quickly and efficiently add up totals for a final ballpark figure. A program called Job Cost Wizard transforms estimates into invoices and exports to QuickBooks Pro. A superb, professional-quality, industry-standard reference.

John Burroughs

Carey's Bookshelf

Get Out of Your Own Way!
Jovita Jenkins
Ajides Publishing
5875 Doverwood Drive, Suite 211, Culver City, CA 90230
ISBN 0974988715 $15.00 108 pages

Are you searching for just the right book that will help you to jump start a new career or makeover your current one? Well, this maybe the book for you. Get Out of Your Own Way! is a new motivational book by executive coach, Jovita Jenkins. Unlike other self-help books, I found this one to be realistic and easy to follow. This thought provoking book encourages the reader to think differently about their life, goals and dreams. Jenkins challenges the reader to think outside of the box, while offering creative strategies along with some age old wisdom that will not only help the reader to reorient their thinking but to reinvent themselves in the work place. I think this book is also a great resource for high school seniors and college students who are in the mist of discovering their purpose in life.

A former engineer and executive in a Fortune 500 aerospace company, Jovita Jenkins, MBA is a Certified Professional Coach and the founder/president of Ajides International, Inc. She lives between Culver City, CA and New Orleans, LA with her husband.

Black Sheep
Achebe Toldson
House of Songhay
P.O. Box 74084, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70874
ISBN 0910758530 $15.00 252 pages

Black Sheep is a desperately needed wake up call for inner city youths and the professionals who are trying to save them. In addition to offering insight and intellectual nourishment, Black Sheep also gives us hope.

Achebe Toldson invites the reader into a world filled with social stigmas, systemic challenges and ill fates and fortunes that are the familiar stumbling blocks for individuals who are growing up in crime infested and poverty stricken environments. A haunting suspense novel, Black Sheep is told through the eyes of Duce, a prominent graduate student who has become obsessed with his thesis, which tries to explain the mindset of youth offenders. In the mist of his self absorption Duce loses sight of reality and begins to live through his thesis. He soon discovers that his greatest challenge will not come in the form of a research paper, but in learning how to fight the demons of his past and confronting his present fears.

Toldson does a remarkable job of challenging the reader's current perspective on life as we know it and he helps us to understand the present state of our inner city youths. The human mind is tantalized with psychological proses, biblical quotes and sometimes just the plain truth as he pushes us to the brink of reality. A modern day Harlem Renaissance writer, Toldsons' impressive style will surely leave a mark in the literary world.

Achebe Toldson, Ph.D. is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he lives with his lovely wife Marshella. Dr. Toldson is a psychology professor at Southern University and he is currently at work on two additional novels: Birthright and Blackened Mississippi.

Characters of Lust
Karlyn LeBlanc
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512,
ISBN 0595325394 $15.95 225 pages

Characters of Lust is a riveting novel by literary newcomer, Karlyn LeBlanc. In this eye-opening, one of a kind novel, LeBlanc takes the reader on an intoxicating journey through the eyes of a Christian woman who is torn between lust and her religious convictions.

Shelby Tate is the main character and as the story opens, she has just ended a five year relationship with her first love. Determined to stay on the right track, Shelby has recommitted her life to the Lord and has begun to attend weekly bible study and Sunday church services, but one night of backsliding and hanging out at the club leads her back into the life she desperately tired to avoid. Readers become mesmerized as Tate and her friends venture into a wild life filled with sex, clubbing, gambling and lusting to name a few, but a life threatening event changes their lives forever.

A combination of Zane meets Christian, this novel is filled with subliminal messages that are sure to hit home with many mature readers, but will also raise a few eyebrows with its thought provoking, erotic and hard-core content. Characters of Lust is a great book if you are an open minded adult.

Karlyn LeBlanc is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she works as a medical social worker. LeBlanc is currently at work on her second novel, When Lust Steps Back In.

A Bird in Flight
Troy Buckner
Hytara Productions
P.O. Box 19049 Anaheim Hills, CA. 92817
ISBN 0972793305 $16.95 US $22.95 Canada 267 pages

A Bird in Flight (Hytara Productions) is a beautiful novel that shares the pain, passion and struggles of one woman, Rachel Howard, as she struggles to find inner peace, truth and compassion within the world that she lives in. Rachel's story is a familiar one that many readers can relate to. From being raised by a single parent to living with a spouse who is a drug addict, her story is about courage, strength and spirituality. Each chapter begins with a related scripture that is taken from Ecclesiastes and the basis for what is about to transpire in the novel. The inspiring words and details are heart warming to the human spirit and you feel as if you have been transplanted into the life of the main character, with the reader taking on her pain and suffering. Buckner's novel is hypnotic, often taking a slow and methodological tempo as the story of one woman's determination to make it, despite all of the obstacles that are placed in her way, unfolds before your very eyes. Although this novel is based on spirituality there is some language and materials that may be offensive to some readers, but despite this factor I found this book enlighten and would recommend to anyone who is struggling with a difficult situation in their life or who is trying to strengthen their relationship with God.

Troy Buckner is a graduate of Southern University and holds a degree in Accounting. She is the founder of My Broken Wings Women Organization and currently resides in Anaheim Hills, California. Buckner is currently traveling throughout the US to promote her play which is based on the novel.

Carey Yazeed

Carroll's Bookshelf

The Last Dance
Ed McBain
Simon & Schuster.
ISBN 0684855135 $25.00

Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) has written 50-plus 87th precinct novels as well as numerous other novels. He also writes books for children.

In "The Last Dance," cops Carella, Meyer, and others hunt the killer of an old man who, it at first appears, has nothing of value to anyone.

For fans of a good cop novel, this is a step-by-step police investigation.

For fans of a good mystery, this book provides an intricate tapestry that unravels bit-by-bit, keeping the reader puzzled and surprised.

For those not fans of McBain's 87th precinct books, and those who like character driven fiction, it may be hard to get into this book. There is no character to care about but there are many characters to keep track of and only the crime, the investigation and the mystery to move the story along. The dialogue is true-to-life, often repetitious the way people talk, and often hilarious.

Although I couldn't get into the story I didn't care about the murder victim or the detectives--I kept reading to see what all the guys were wearing. Like Robert B. Parker, McBain describes what every male who steps into the story has on, ". . .black jeans, a black turtleneck sweater, and a fringed suede vest." ". . .a moss-green corduroy suit over a black turtleneck sweater, black loafers and black socks, a massive gold ring on the pinky of his left hand." Evidently detectives, or at least detective story writers pay attention to those details.

The women, however, got "The woman had fake teeth but she smiled a lot nonetheless." or perhaps " a green cardigan sweater and a brown woolen skirt." (evidently no blouse, shoes or socks).

Try this book. Skim through the somewhat boring parts to get to the dialogue where you will be captivated, as I was, by the natural flow of the back and forth discourse. If it hadn't been for that, the fashion show, and Fat Ollie Weeks, a total bigot of a cop, I might not have stayed for "The Last Dance."

All That Matters
Jan Goldstein
ISBN 140130110X $17.95

The story question of All That Matters is, "Can a 76-year-old woman with severe emphysema help her depressed and suicidal granddaughter, Jennifer, before the young woman kills herself or before her father carts her off to a mental hospital?"

Jennifer is depressed over the death of her mother and blames herself in some ways. The father, a busy, take-charge movie maker, feels the only solution is to get Jennifer professional help. Gabby, the grandmother, a holocaust survivor, is determined to help Jennifer overcome her suicidal thoughts.

"I did not hide away in an attic, jump from Hitler's death train, and escape the burning hell of Poland to see my granddaughter locked up in a loony bin," Gabby says.

Against the father's wishes, Gabby takes Jennifer to New York, and the first thing she does is take Jennifer to shovel horse manure. This is also the first time the reader might pause to wonder. How would this extremely ill grandmother be capable of such strenuous work?

Gabby and Jennifer next go on a trip through new England to places Gabby and Jennifer's mother used to go. Stories about Gabby's life and the life of Jennifer's mother come to light. Some scenes are quite touching, occasionally there is humor.

There are little inconsistencies in this book, and there are also big errors. The biggest, in my mind, is when the author has Gabby confront Jennifer. Jennifer is "staggering bleary-eyed" drunk. Certainly not a good time to have a heart-to-heart. Jennifer, in turn, carries on a totally coherent conversation with Gabby while in this drunken state.

Gabby also picks this point in time to tell Jennifer about her own life as a child in Poland. What could have been a very moving story stopped me cold when Gabby said she clung by her fingers to the slanted walls of an attic all day so her feet wouldn't touch the floor. Maybe. But it is very difficult to picture a ten-year-old being able to do that.

Jan Goldstein has a good story and the novel is at times a tear-jerker, but also at times the reader is jolted right out of the story by something said or done.

Jean Carroll

Carson's Bookshelf

Rousing Songs and True Tales of the Civil War
Wayne Erbsen
Native Ground Music
109 Bell Road, Asheville, NC 28805-1521
1883206332 $5.95 1-800-752-2656

Rousing Songs and True Tales of the Civil War is an anthology of vintage songs and anecdotes from the American Civil War. Each song is fit onto one page, in simple musical notation with the lyrics printed both within the music notation and separately for easy reading. Black-and-white photographs and illustrations embellish the histories behind individual tunes and some just plain eye-popping tales. Especially ideal for Civil War buffs as well as anyone interested in singing vintage pieces or performing them on any simple instrument (the tunes appear to work especially well with a harmonica), Rousing Songs and True Tales of the Civil War perfectly captures the spirit of a troubled and transforming era.

Edward C. Matthews III
Southeast Missouri State University Press
MS2650, One University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
0976041308 $19.00

Matthews: The Historic Adventures Of A Pioneer Family by Edward C. Matthews III is the biographical story of the author's family who settled in Southeast Missouri two hundred years and eight generations ago. A superbly written family history, this is the story of generations of men and women whose ambitions and perseverance were to shape and influence the entire region. Beginning with the settlement of the then newly acquired Louisiana Territory, nd continuing with the subsequent growth and development of Southeast Missouri, these are very human stories of Matthews family members complete with the private tragedies, public accomplishments, and diverse personalities. At the core of the story is C.D. Matthews who was born a poor farm boy in the 1840s and who grew up to risk his life supplying corn and wheat to the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Surviving the war, he went on to amass a fortune in the fields of banking, lumber, railroads, and land. Also available in a hardcover edition (0976041316, $35.00), Matthews: The Historic Adventures Of A Pioneer Family is informative and fascinating reading, and could well serve as a template for others who are thinking of writing their family histories.

Watching Your Back
Anthony L. Schmieg, M.D.
The University of Hawaii Press
2840 Kolowalu Street, Honolulu, HI 96822
0824828232 $20.95 1-888-847-7377

Emergency physician and martial arts practitioner Anthony L. Schmieg presents Watching Your Back: Chinese Martial Arts and Traditional Medicine, explores the symbiosis of traditional Chinese medicine and the martial arts. Chapters reflect on how the martial arts grew out of the need for survival, their history and intent, the distinction between martial and military disciplines, the influence of Daoism upon the evolution of an ancient system, and much more. Watching Your Back debunks common myths such as misinterpretations of the yin/yang dichotomy, and over-emphasis on the role of Shaolin temples in the genesis of Chinese martial arts (the Shaolin temples reflected Buddhist culture specifically and isolated their warrior-monks from Chinese society, and therefore could not be prototypical of Chinese martial arts). An articulate, well-thought-out philosophical treatise revealing the far-reaching depths of Chinese martial arts, reflecting meaningfully on their purpose and greatness in human history.

The Scandinavian
John Emms
Everyman Chess
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1857443756 $19.95 1-800-243-0495

Now in an updated second edition, The Scandinavian is a guide for intermediate to advanced chess players concerning the Scandinavian Defense, its various strategies and tactics, and tips for using it to the fullest advantage or reacting to it. Written by John Emms, one of Britain's most well-known Grandmasters, The Scandinavian is packed cover to cover with examples and sample games, many of which are taken directly from matches between expert players, to illustrate its points. Changes made to the new second edition include revisions of personal opinion and analytical amendments, which by the author's own admittance, are so common that he elected not to highly each and every one. A superb resource for the serious chess player striving to improve.

Living Smart: New York City
Craig Wroe
Hal Leonard Corporation
151 West 46th Street, 8th floor, New York, NY 10036
0879103086 $16.95 1-800-637-2852

Living Smart: New York City: The Ultimate Insider's Guide for the Budget Savvy is a resource packed with tips, tricks, and techniques for living frugally in the big apple. From avoiding health insurance scams to discount internet service providers to stretching the dollar while shopping to partaking of high culture on a low disposable budget and more, Living Smart: New York City balances quality with economy. Written in a lighthearted, fun-filled tone, Living Smart: New York City is a quality of life advice guide that quite literally pays for itself.

Essential Deren
Maya Deren
McPherson & Company
POB 1126, Kingston, NY 12401
0929701658 $18.00 1-800-613-8219

Essential Deren is an anthology of writings concerning cinema theory by acclaimed filmmaker Maya Deren. From the poetics of "Cinema as an Art Form" to tips on "Creative Cutting" to scrutiny of fims in medias res and much more, Essential Deren is a treasury of insight reflecting a life and a professional career dedicated to the highest potential of expression movies can bring. Appendices present Deren's articles in the "Village Voice" as well as manifestoes and program notes; a bibliography, filmography, and list of resources points the reader toward more useful and fascinating discussion of the film as trade and medium. Especially recommended reading for cinematography students, connoisseurs and critics, and college libraries and references shelves.

Families Of The King
Alice Sheppard
University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4Y 2W8
0802089844 $70.00 1-800-565-9523

Families Of The King: Writing Identity In The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle by Alice Sheppard (Assistant Professor, Department of English, Pennsylvania State University) directly addresses the central interpretative question with respect to the student of five primary manuscripts that together offer a contemporary history of Anglo-Saxon English ranging from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, and materially contribute to understanding the body of Old English prose and poetic texts which in turn, enabled scholars to document how the Old English language evolved and changed. The question is how those five manuscript function as history. Professor Sheppard shows just what has been read as a series of disparate entries and peculiar juxtapositions are upon closer scrutiny a compelling articulation of collective identity and provide academia with a coherent approach to writing the secular history of invasion, conquest, and settlement. The central theme for Families of the King is that the king's performance of his lordship obligations was recorded and transformed by annalists into literary representations of a political ethos offering insights and an understanding of the Anglo-Saxon aristocratic culture and the impact upon that culture by the Normans who conquered them. A work of impressively articulate scholarship , Families Of The King is an invaluable, core addition to academic library collections and will prove to be of immense interest to students of Medieval Studies.

Bending Spines
Randall L. Bytwerk
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, Manly Miles Building, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
0870137107 $24.95 1-517-355-9543

In Bending Spines: The Propagandas Of Nazi Germany And The German Democratic Republic, Randall L. Bytwerk (Professor of Communication, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan) has created a seminal, groundbreaking work of painstaking scholarship in the often obscure field of governmental propaganda and the influence such controlled and goal oriented communication has upon those who create it as well as upon those to whom it is directed. With the benefit of extensive archival and field research, Professor Bytwerk reveals that inevitably propagandists come to believe their own distortions while the recipients of their work grown increasingly cynical as the ideologically driven announcements diverge from real world experience and observation. Professor Bytwerk also underscores how even though Nazi and German Democratic Republic propaganda took diametrically opposing stands, the mechanics, dynamics, and consequences of their propaganda efforts were far more similar than dissimilar. Bending Spines is especially recommended and informative reading for students of rhetoric, mass communication, and twentieth century German history.

Michael J. Carson

Catherine's Bookshelf

The Coal Tattoo
Silas House
Workman Publishing, Inc
ISBN: 1565123689 $22.95 336 p.

Rating 5 stars

Silas House embodies a sense of family and community, an appreciation and a disdain for the simple life and forgiveness and tolerance of others in his latest book, The Coal Tattoo.

It is an intricate tale of two sisters, Easter and Anneth Sizemore, raised under the watchful caring eye of their grandmothers, Vine and Serena after the sudden tragic death of their mother. But the Lords calls them home, first Vine and then Serena, leaving the girls to their own devices.

Easter gives up her scholarship to Berea College and her dreams to become a teacher to care for Anneth, who is still a minor and quite the handful. Easter is a woman of faith; a devout Pentecostal who would never dream of straying from the righteous path to salvation for fear the fires of hell would rise up and claim her.

Anneth rebukes her family's rigid faith and enjoys the life of a sinner. But to Easter's dismay, her sister embraces the darker side of drinking, smoking and men, and makes no apologies for her reckless behavior.

But Easter does stray from the church after she falls in love and marries El. Together they get their fill of bars and immorality until Easter's guilt consumes her and she finds herself standing at the church altar asking for forgiveness for her wickedness. Her request comes too late as she will pay the ultimate price years later.

Anneth never ask for forgiveness even after she elopes with Matthew, a promising country and western singer, and runs off to Nashville. Some life's teaching are etched in stone as Anneth insists on a Pentecostal preacher to perform the wedding ceremony. Like a wildflower in a clay pot, Anneth struggles against the concrete and the high rises of Nashville and seeks solace down by the river - a river whose waters had passed through her own small town before washing over the banks of Tennessee.

The sisters, who seem like water and fire on the exterior, are undistinguishable on the inside, where their Grandmothers molded them with strength to overcome even the most devastating of losses, to love as if it is their last day on earth, and the taught them of forgiveness and tolerance. These gifts caused their souls to mesh as one.

Silas House brings The Coal Tattoo to life against the backdrop of the beautiful and magical Appalachian Mountains and the tyranny of the coal mining companies whose decades of treachery and abuse of the powerless local community is about to come to an end. It encompasses all the elements for a classic and his slow, sensuous style will take your breath away. Well done Silas House.

Carry Me Home
Sandra Kring
Dell Publishing Company
ISBN: 0385338139 $13.00

Rating 5 stars

Sandra Kring weaves an intricate and heartwarming tale of family, love, and forgiveness in her sensational debut novel set in 1940 rural Wisconsin.

Earwig Gunderman is a simpleminded sixteen year old coming of age during the tumultuous era of World War II. Mentally crippled by a fever when he was young, he is protected and nurtured by his family, especially his older brother Jimmy. Although his ability to interact with others is limited, his thoughts on the world around him are just as precise as even the sanest person in town.

Earwig's story is told through his eyes of innocence and honesty as he spends his days working in the family grocery, sucker fishing with Jimmy and his friends, playing with his young friend Eddie and visiting his Pa at the local garage. His unique point of view on the quirky residents of his small town is at times hysterical and other times poignant and introspective.

His family life is turned upside down when Jimmy volunteers for the National Guard and is sent to the Philippines during the early days of the war. And old family secret emerges from the depths of his mother's memory and hovers over Earwig's family long after Jimmy's departure and disappearance on the Bataan Peninsula, which eerily mirrors a similar family occurrence during World War I. Despite their attempts to keep appearances, Earwig stumbles upon the clues he needs to discover the truth.

It is only upon Jimmy's return home five years later that the family learns the truth of his ordeal in the Bataan Death March where he was subject to inconceivable torture and witnessed unimaginable horrors. Only Earwig seems to understand Jimmy's need to rid himself of the sorrows he carries inside. He watches, but does not criticize, as Jimmy and his friend attempt to drown both the demons that visit them in their dreams and their feelings of abandonment with alcohol, but to no avail.

As stories of Jimmy's and the other local boys' ordeal in the Asian jungle are told, a covert mistrust of the US Government emerges among the town-folk, as those who served and were affected most during post World War II are ignored and silenced 'for the good of the country".

Together, Jimmy and Earwig bear their burdens and eventually find their place in a town ripped apart by the tragedies of war.

Sandra Kring's passionate voice is reminiscent of Faulkner, Hemingway and Steinbeck, and leaves you wanting more. In these modern days where commercial thrillers and chick-lit often rule the best-seller list, her old-fashioned style seems new again, and quite a welcome change. The story flows flawlessly from beginning to end and her words are sheer artistry, carefully woven in to create Earwig's world. She will make you laugh, have you in tears and take you back to the days of good friends, good times, millponds and bonfires. This is a piece destined to become a classic and is a must read for devotees of the historical fiction or the literary fiction genre. I look forward to her next book.

Catherine Ekbert

Charisse's Bookshelf

Oh No! UFO!
Strange Encounters Series; Book One
Linda Joy Singleton
Llewellyn Publications
P.O.Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383
ISBN 0738795799 $4.99 192 pp.

Meet the Strange family! Dad, popular cable show host, is a passionate paranormal debunker, bent on proving logic always wins. Mom, an environmental activist in search of a cause, is a woman of the earth, whose idea of a hearty meal consists of cucumber-and-apricot-jelly sandwiches. Lucas, a ten-year-old actor-wannabe, lives on the edge of stardom. Amber, a cherubic, golden-haired first-grader, talks to the animals in Dr. Doolittle fashion. Then there's average, boring Cassie, two years from teendom, who prefers to live low-key with no special talents, and claims she's the only normal seed in the Strange household.

When Dad decides on a family vacation to the China Flat Campground, Cassie is elated. What's more normal than family togetherness? Normal, however, quickly turns strange as Cassie discovers her father is on another secret mission. After his hands-off, top-secret briefcase thuds to the ground, papers fly and an eerie photo catches her by surprise. There, glowing against a star-filled, velvet sky, is a banana-shaped sphere, caught in a glossy Kodak moment of all moments! Shock soon turns to fear when Cassie realizes Amber is the victim of an alien abduction. To win her sister's freedom, she must become a risk-taker. In so doing, can Cassie prove she has the zeal for real-life adventure?

Singleton, author of more than twenty-five books, including the Regeneration and The Seer series, spends her spare time researching mysterious legends and destinations for her books. Oh No! UFO!, a mystery written for ages 9-12, is loosely based on a true-life family excursion as a child. She brings the wide-eyed innocence of her youthful memories to life through a zany cast of colorful characters. The first-person narration provides the reader a front-row seat to the hilarity of the family dynamics and the jaw-dropping effect of the surprise factor built into each chain-reactive scene. Short chapters, clever titles, and an imaginative plot maxed to the limit with non-stop action, all work in unison to ensure a successful reading experience for younger readers. Singleton's style is refreshing, and her story, vivid and unmistakably believable doodlezapps, zillofaxes, babbzonks, and all!

Don't Die, Dragonfly
The Seer Series: Book One
Linda Joy Singleton
Llewellyn Publications
P.O. Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383 Ages: YA

ISBN 0738705268 $4.99 288 pp.

How does a girl with psychic visions blend in with her surroundings and find a new normal? Easy! Survive a mysterious move, switch schools, create surface friendships, and spend most of the time running from the one thing that makes you who you are a girl with a paranormal gift and a cranky spirit guide to boot!

Sabine Rose may seem normal by anyone's definition, but she sees visions that could have deadly consequences and knows she lacks the power to change them. Or does she? When Sabine receives a psychic warning about a girl with a dragonfly tattoo, her first inclination is to protect her deepest secret, but as the visions become more intense and the threat more imminent, she knows she must uncover the girl's identity and warn her of the danger lurking in the shadows.

Singleton, author of the Regeneration and Strange Encounters series, is a veteran series writer for the mid-grade and young adult audience. Don't Die, Dragonfly explores the other-realm possibilities of an otherwise average teen, with a taste of intrigue and ever-present danger wrapped in outrageous, frightening predictions. The heroine, strong and feisty on many fronts, fears what makes her most vulnerable, not unlike the challenge of most teens.

One of the most interesting characters in Sabine's life is Opal, her bossy spirit guide, who with a little imagination takes on a Paula Danzinger (author of Amber Brown series/Scholastic) persona, complete with shimmering sequins, golden threads, and swirls of dancing lavender scarves. Opal is unique in that she offers advice in not-so-gentle nudges, but she never steers the main character on a path not of her own making, even though she's often outwardly impatient. She leaves the realizations up to Sabine, simply offering clues, warnings, and words of wisdom as guidance. Only after Sabine acknowledges this source of wisdom does she begin the journey to self-discovery and an appreciation for her gift.

Every page tingles with paranormal activity a glittering of fairy sprinkles and otherworld whispers. Singleton's characters a confidant, a raging enemy, a Goth girl, a quirky grandmother, a mysterious roommate, and a delicious love interest share in Sabine's treacherous quest, adding several intricate layers of subplot. The surprising twists and page-turning cliffhangers literally pulsate with dramatic tension, and the novel's pace, in near-breathless passages, runs full-throttle as the reader approaches the story's climax and vows to untangle each perilous detail. Singleton's next installment debuts in summer 2005.

Charisse Floyd

Christina's Bookshelf

A Month of Sundays: Searching for the Spirit and My Sister
Julie Mars
GreyCore Press
2646 New Prospect Rd., Pine Bush, N.Y. 12566
Ph. 845-744-5081 Fax: 845-744-8081
ISBN# 0974207454 224 p. $12.95 paper
ISBN# 0974207462 224 p. $21.95 cloth

"Why can't you just let it be what it is?" Shirley asks her sister while in stage Two of the Final Dive toward death. "I've never been madder." Shirley was mad because we wouldn't just let it be what it was. Her dying."

Imagine your dearest friend, who also happens to be your older sister and sort of your mother, is dying of pancreatic cancer. She understood you best, nurtured you growing up and stood by you through all your crazy phases. You owe your life to her. She taught you how to love. Now, for seven months you put your life on hold without any conflict over it. You're with her cooking her meals, cleaning her house, fielding phone calls, caring for her, running errands, and have become her health care proxy. You watch her cry out in pain, make good-bye phone calls, and ask for God.

This is what Julie Mars, the author of this book, went through. As her sister, Shirley draws closer to her faith, Mar's disappears. Later, when Mars returns to her home in New Mexico, a driving need suddenly envelopes her. She must go to church and search for the spirit. And so, the pilgrimage begins. Mars decides to go to church every Sunday for thirty-one weeks; a month of Sundays. Each Sunday she'll visit a different church. Some are in New Mexico, some in New York and one in Canada. Some are traditional and others, not at all. She also decides to arrive a half-an hour early to take a picture of the building (photographs featured in the book), with Shirley's camera, sit somewhere in the middle of the church, and then open her heart to the spirit. Why? Mars isn't exactly sure until toward the end of her month of Sundays.

Throughout eight months of visiting churches, Mars remembers her life, her sisters, and struggles through her dying marriage, and her dying father, who she never got along with.

Mars asks the question many do. "My doubt says, "There is no order in the universe. No hereafter. No meaning. No hope. No point at all. Is there a God?"

'A Month of Sundays' is Mar's second book, and has received various praises. 'The Secret Keepers,' published in 2000, is her debut novel. This too received excellent feedback. Mars is the recipient of the NYS Council on the Arts Grant in Screenwriting, and lives and teaches in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Book Excerpt:

At the True Vine at Five Points Baptist Church Albuquerque, NM

Everyone here is black, all ages.

"Do you have a bible sister? Somebody find that sister a Bible!" Reverend Bobbes says.

My ears open up, as if they suddenly have better circulation, and the cartilage in them gets hot.

"I got a flint rock right here," he bellows, tearing open his robe to show us his heart," he says. "I got my own eternal flame, right here. If you feel the Lord, come up here! If you feel the Lord, you come up her right now!" He repeats and then to my dismay he points right at me.

Right at me.

His arm is fully extended and I can feel the power of his finger on me, like God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but I don't move.

How does 'A Month of Sundays - Searching for the Spirit and My Sister' measure up?

Field/Genre: Non-Fiction - Memoir, 1st person
Originality of theme: Original
Quality of writing: Excellent
Plot: Excellent
Style: Excellent
Author's ability to prove the point of the book: Excellent

Target audience: Especially for women over the age of forty, but some younger women will enjoy it. Middle and late aged women especially will find themselves nodding in understanding and reflecting on their relationships with their family, friends, God and with themselves. They will find a type of homage in sharing Mar's insight. Also for those who've sought the truth about God and dealt with the devastating blow of loosing someone close to them. But, most everyone will benefit from Mar's book because it's about life - something we all have, will loose, and will watch loved ones loose.

Mars shares this challenging time in her life, swooping readers along; immersing them in her grief, meditations, struggles, memories, and spiritual questioning. Despite the prevailing darkness, her story offers moments of humor, whimsy, and warmth. She also provides multiple words of wisdom, along with a few poems to stir up thoughts and tips to live by. A worthy book to experience. A beautiful, enduring, and haunting journey. A salute to the connections women have with each other as sisters, friends, mothers, and daughters. Also, a celebration for the strength, and understanding they provide each other.

Winning Ways
Toni Leland
Parallel Press
Equine Graphics Publishing Group
285 Taylor Street, Zanesville Ohio 43701
ISBN# 1887932232 $15.95

Horse-showing can be a cut-throat world. Some will do anything to win. Liz Barnett believes she'll be taken seriously though, even if she is a woman. So what if most winners are men. Her horses are good. Somehow her business, Legacy Arabians, needs to attract clients, and winning would do that. She'd moved from Kentucky to California with what was left of her deceased father's outstanding Arabians. She'd graduated top in her class from Tufts University Veterinary School, and been resident veterinarian at a large Thoroughbred farm. To make a living, Liz needs to gain the respect of the area ranchers. That wouldn't be easy since the retiring vet is a man. The rancher's don't believe women can do as good of a job. A few situations present themselves and Liz jumps in. Will they see how good her abilities are or just that she's female? If this isn't enough of a challenge, something bad happens at an important horse show. Kurt warns her not to leave her horses. He tells her some people will do anything to win, even harm a horse. Liz decides the stakes are too high. She loves her horses too much. Her dreams aren't worth their safety. Will her horses' bloodlines and her father's reputation be enough to still attract clients?

Kurt DeVallio knows horses. He's trained some of the best, unfortunately for the worst owners. One of them destroyed his reputation years ago along with his dreams. Ten years later, he's lucky to have a job training horses. A dark secret haunts his waking days. When Liz steps into his life, he denies his attraction to her. He doesn't mean to lead her on, yet she fills those jeans nicely. He's haunted by the woman he doesn't want to want. "Cool it," he tells himself. "You have absolutely nothing to offer her. The way things stand right now, she can't be part of your life."

She doesn't understand him. His mixed messages confuse her and she doesn't need more confusion in her life. She has to pay attention to her business. If only he didn't show up everywhere, and obsess her thoughts.

Story Excerpt:

His mustache curled enticing at the corners of his full mouth. "Not for a few days yet. Eve changed her mind about showing that weanling, so I decided to urn up here and see how you were doing."

"Eve changed her mind? I thought you were the one who was so hot to show that baby."

Kurt's smile faded abruptly. "Not me. I'd never wean a foal so early... I don't believe in it. 'Course, that opinion could cause me problems with Eve down the road." He grinned wickedly. "But, I'll take my cues from you."

About the Author:

Leland's life has revolved around horses since her youth. She spends free time with them and centers her careers around them as well. Her professional background includes advertising, graphics, and since 1994, owner/editor of two small publishing companies. Her published books include 2 children's books and three novels. She recently signed a contract with Arabella Romance Magazine for her short story.

Leland paints a real-life horse world. Reader's who've never been around horses get to sample it, and for those who have spent time with them, will enjoy the familiar. Leland shares her knowledge about various horse personalities and how to move around them. She provides all this, and a romantic story.

Winning Ways is a delightful and fast read. Leland entices readers with a blend of horses and romance. Her characters are ambitious and engaging. A novel filled with surprises, clever twists, and constant entertainment. An absorbing story.

Christina Francine Whitcher, Reviewer

Christy's Bookshelf

Fairway to Heaven
Roberta Isleib
Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 212-366-2155
ISBN 0425201554 $5.99, 258 pages

Golfer Cassie Burdette teams up with her father, Chuck, and boyfriend, Mike Callahan, for the Pine Straw Three Tour Challenge at Pinehurst, North Carolina. Following the tournament, Cassie's slated to be maid of honor at her friend Jeanine Peters's wedding, something she dreads more than interacting with her father's wife. During the tournament, Cassie's game improves while her teammates perform poorly, leading to even more tension with her boyfriend. Before the bridal shower, Jeanine's father mysteriously disappears after a man who opposed his plans to develop a strip mall in their community is found dead. Jeanine shows Cassie a demand for ransom and asks her to surreptitiously check around, see if she can find out who kidnapped her father. From that point on, Cassie can't stay out of trouble with the police while being pursued by a mysterious person intent on harming her.

Fourth in the Cassie Burdette series, FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN delves deeper into the family dynamics between Cassie and her estranged father, embittered mother, and jealous stepmother. Mix that with Cassie's roller-coaster relationship with moody Mike Callahan and the underlying mutual attraction going on between Cassie and her friend, psychologist Joe Lancaster, and you've got a hole-in-one. Cassie is a delightful character, with a dry wit and fresh perspective. Her personal insights, as well as her sessions with her shrink, will amuse the reader throughout the book. Her amateur sleuthing may lead to dangerous territory, but Cassie proves a real penchant for solving complicated mysteries. Golf fan or not, this is one book all mystery lovers will enjoy reading, with plenty of twists and turns and suspicious characters. Highly recommended.

My Life Undercover
Mary Erickson
Behler Publications
22365 El Toro Road #135, Lake Forest, CA 92630 800-830-2913
ISBN 0974896276 $14.95 171 pages

Paralegal certificate in hand, C.C. Chaney heads out into the business world, hoping to land a job in the field she loves: law. At the age of 42, she ends up as an investigator with the Economic Crimes Unit for her city's District Attorney's Office. And that's when the fun starts. With tape recorder stuffed into her 40-D bra, C.C. sets out to catch violators of the consumer protection act. C.C. goes after scam artists, auto repair shops, air conditioning repairmen, art forgers, roof repairers, employment agencies, and the like, some with success, others not. But all with a great deal of humor and fun.

Author Mary Erickson's comedic peek into the investigative work of a middle-aged former homemaker will evoke plenty of laughs. Her style is wonderfully engaging and a delight to read. The antics of C.C. and her cohorts and the quirky characters they deal with will hold the reader's attention throughout, eagerly turning pages to read what happens next. Absolutely one of the most entertaining books written, one everyone should read, if only for the health benefit derived from having a good laugh.

The Dead Angel
Carolyn Rowe Hill
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Fredericksburg, Maryland 21705
ISBN 1592863760 $21.95 270 pages

Detective Hannah Bell, called to the scene of an apparent suicide, is struck by the perfect arrangement of the body of deceased Angela Allen, as well as her youth and beauty. Suspicions arise at the unemotional reactions of Angela's mother, Mariah, and twin sister, Gloria, to her death, as well as the mother's declaration Gloria killed Angela. Dr. Garrett Adams, forensic scientist at the scene, suspects foul play but dies suddenly of a heart attack after confiding this to Hannah. Hannah begins an intense investigation of Angela's death, unsettled that the deceased has stirred up memories for her concerning her own twin sister's sudden disappearance at the age of eleven. The investigation intensifies and becomes more complex, with questions arising concerning Mariah's secret meetings with several powerful men in their community and suspected dealings with the illegal immigration of Irish workers. When Mariah is found dead, apparently having choked to death, things only grow more complicated.

Ms. Hill delivers a nice mystery here, with plenty of red herrings and twists and turns to keep the reader on edge. Hannah is a likable character, a young woman determined to make her mark in the investigative world while trying to deal with the loss of her twin during childhood. A very good read guaranteed to entertain the reader, one I recommend highly.

Christy Tillery French

Debra's Bookshelf

Good News, Bad News
David Wolstencroft
ISBN: 0525947949 $23.95 307 pages

The first chapter of David Wolstencroft's Good News, Bad News promises great things: two unnamed men flip a coin--the first indication that the book's plot will hang on the vicissitudes of chance--to determine which of them is going to die. Surprisingly, the loser of the toss does not seem unduly put out by the result. In chapter two we are introduced to Wolstencroft's two main characters, Charlie, the younger of the two, and George, "a baked potato of a man" given to spouting the plots of locked room mysteries at odd moments. Both men are relatively new employees of a photo lab situated in the "troglodyte empire" of the London Underground. Charlie, at least, is convinced that one of their regular customers, a gorgeous woman whose photographs suggest she trots the globe at breakneck pace, is a spy. The two men bicker regularly over the implications of her suspicious photography.

The opening chapters of Good News, Bad News are very good indeed, suspenseful, well-written, and humorous. (I was sold on the book after the first half page.) The interaction between Charlie and George is especially good, Charlie attempting in vain to ignore the older man's "endless and near-psychotic amiability." In the course of the novel Charlie and George come to discover that they have more in common than they--or we--had supposed, including, in particular, that both are interested in quitting their jobs.

But while Wolstencroft's novel starts extremely well, it does not quite live up to the promise of its introduction. As Charlie and George's situation becomes more dire, the humor of their early intercourse is dropped. And while there are patches of exquisite prose early on in the book, the writing becomes less noticeably good--if never bad--later on. Nor will readers be glued to their seats awaiting the book's outcome. It is certainly a good enough book to continue with, but it does not build the sort of suspense that keeps one up reading late into the night.

Despite these reservations, Good News, Bad News comes recommended. Wolstencroft (he is the writer and creator of the spy drama MI-5, which airs on A&E) is clearly a writer to watch.

Ken Follett
ISBN: 0525948430 $26.95 374 pages

Christmas Eve starts out poorly for Antonia Gallo, head of security at Scotland's Oxenford Medical, when she discovers that two doses of a top secret experimental drug have gone missing. The drug is an antiviral agent, a potential antidote for the deadly Madoba-2 virus, and its disappearance suggests that the virus itself, kept in storage under the tightest possible security at the small pharmaceuticals firm, may have gotten out of the lab. In the next 72 hours Toni will find that the situation is far worse than she initially supposed: the security system at Oxenford has been breached by the one person capable of defeating its safeguards, someone who now has access to a highly infectious, easily released disease with a survival rate of zero. Throw into the mix an uncooperative police superintendent and an unexpected blizzard, and Toni may not be able to stop the bad guys from unleashing a plague with unprecedented killing power.

We've seen this sort of book from Ken Follett before: a highly competent heroine battles an amoral--or at least insufficiently moral--antagonist while overcoming obstacles thrown at her by a difficult former lover. The story is told from multiple perspectives, and the heroine's ultimate victory over her nemesis is never really in doubt. But if the general outline of Follett's plot is familiar, so too is the author's skillful build-up of page-turning suspense. Follett never fails to fashion characters one wants to root for, and he is adept at keeping the good guys forever in the thick of some horrific danger. Whiteout, like its predecessors in the author's shelf-full of bestsellers, is a great read.

My Kind of Place
Susan Orlean
Random House
ISBN: 0679462937 $24.95 282 pages

Susan Orlean's third collection of essays includes thirty pieces that were previously published, most of them in The New Yorker, between 1990 and 2003. Orlean explains that the essays she chose for the book are connected in that the sense of place in them is especially important: "When I wrote these pieces, the sense of where I was--of where the stories were unfolding--seemed to saturate every element of the experience, to inform it and shape it, and to be what made the story whole." In some cases the importance of location to an essay will be apparent to the reader, as for example Orlean's piece on the student president of Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Manhattan ("Madame President"). But in other cases the reasons for the author's inclusion of an essay are not apparent. Readers, at any rate, are unlikely to care whether the essays are connected to one another by a meaningful theme. Orlean divides her book into three sections: "Here" includes essays set in the United States; those set abroad--from Cuba to Hungary to Thailand--are included in "There"; and "Elsewhere" is a hodgepodge of mostly short (some as brief as two pages), mostly whimsical essays set in any number of places.

Orlean's modus operandi is to observe her subject for a length of time--spending a week or two, say, walking the aisles of an independently owned grocery store in Jackson Heights, New York, interviewing its managers and employees, watching the parade of hair-netted housewives and pierced teenagers and hand truck-pushing delivery men who flow in and out of the store ("All Mixed Up"). And then she writes about the experience in plain prose, and through the accumulation of ostensibly mundane details--sometimes, truth be told, a few too many mundane details--she brings her chosen slice of society alive for readers. Sometimes Orlean is introducing us to unfamiliar terrain, to the resting stations that punctuate a climb up Japan's Mt. Fuji, for example. But Orlean's essays are no less interesting--are indeed often more interesting--when she focuses on the familiar: among my favorite essays in this collection is "We Just Up and Left," the author's description of a trailer park in Portland, Oregon, the sort of place one can drive by for years without noticing.

Other noteworthy pieces in My Kind of Place are "Royalty," detailing the author's investigation into the curious abundance of royally-named papaya stores in Manhattan (Papaya King, Papaya Prince, Papaya Kingdom); "Art for Everybody," a look inside a Thomas Kinkade (the Painter of Light!) Signature Gallery; and "The Congo Sound," an essay about an African music store in Paris, France.

Fans of Orlean's will find more morsels to savor here. Readers who have not read Orlean previously can start here or might, better yet, read the work for which she is best known: her book The Orchid Thief is itself very much about a place--Florida--as well as the orchidophiles who populate it. Just don't expect the book to resemble its fanciful film adaptation, Adaptation, wherein Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, is depicted as a drug-addicted murderess.

Little Children
Tom Perrotta
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312315732 $13.95 368 pages

The main characters of Tom Perrotta's Little Children find themselves, in their early thirties, stuck in imperfect relationships and in life situations that are somehow less than what they had imagined for themselves. Sarah, in her college days a short-haired feminist flirting with lesbianism, is married to an older man, Richard, who failed as a father and husband in his first marriage and is repeating his mistakes in a second. Sarah, though not a bad mother to her three-year-old daughter Lucy, is not fully comfortable with, or competent at, the task of caring for a child. Todd, on the other hand, a square-jawed former athlete whom the other mothers at the playground have dubbed the Prom King, thoroughly enjoys his role as stay-at-home dad. What plagues him is his failure to pass the bar exam, his failure to want to pass it, and his wife's relentless attempts to push him into a career for which he is unsuited. Sarah and Todd meet near the swings, enact a dramatic if unlikely scene for their audience of busybody playground parents, and fall into an affair which they hope will make their lives right. The drama of their relationship and its complications is supplemented by trouble in their town, the arrival of a convicted child molester, who has moved in with his mother after a stint in jail and has his own more extreme problems forming relationships.

Perrotta's novel is about choices--the mate one selects, the children one chooses, or not, to have, the life that results from the small decisions one makes along the way. And it is about relationships, usually dysfunctional romantic relationships, unexpectedly supportive same-sex groups that play or read or pass out flyers together, ties between parents and children. The book is not always successful. The hierarchy of playground mothers, the less powerful personalities under the sway of a spandex-clad, fascistic, supermom, does not ring true. And the children's dialogue, what little there is of it, sounds to my ears more like an adult affecting childish speech than realistic three-year-old language: "Where it went? ...Where my snack?" But sometimes Perrotta gets it just right, as in his description of Todd's contentment with full-time fatherhood:

"Something had happened to him over the past couple of years, something to do with being home with Aaron, sinking into the rhythm of a kid's day. The little tasks, the small pleasures. The repetition that goes beyond boredom and becomes a kind of peace. You do it long enough, and the adult world starts to drift away. You can't catch up with it, not even if you try."

Little Children builds in suspense as Todd and Sarah's relationship consumes them and as the child molester's demons threaten to overpower him. One fears for the children of the book's title, not so much because of the threat posed by the sex offender in their midst, but because of the harm their own parents' bad decisions may cause. It is a powerful book, worthy of the read.

An Eye for Murder
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Berkley Prime Crime
ISBN: 042518739X $6.50 322 pages

Documentary filmmaker Ellie Foreman's interest is piqued when she learns that an elderly stranger, Ben Sinclair, has died in a Chicago boarding house leaving a scrap of paper with her name on it among his possessions. Ellie's attempts to understand the deceased's interest in her, beginning with a meeting with the dead man's landlady, lead her into a much larger mystery: Sinclair's death is somehow connected with Nazi-era intrigue and Chicago politics, an illicit love affair, and more than one murder. While tracing Sinclair's steps on her own time, Ellie is hired to produce a campaign film for a senatorial candidate, the scion of a long-dead Chicago steel magnate, who may have skeletons of her own to conceal. Ellie's work on the campaign dovetails neatly into her private investigations, and she finds herself in increasingly hot water the closer she gets to the truth Sinclair had been trying to unravel before his death.

Libby Hellmann's An Eye for Murder is the first in a series of mysteries featuring filmmaker Ellie Foreman. It's a good read with a rather complex plot that, however, can become confusing if one isn't paying strict attention. In Ellie Hellmann has created a likable protagonist with an interesting circle of friends and family: Ellie, the divorced mother of a twelve-year-old daughter, has a fiscally irresponsible ex-husband, an unusually but charmingly devoted gardener, a cigar-smoking character of a father, and, as we see blooming in this first book in the series, a love interest in the person of fifty-something David Linden. Hellmann saddles Ellie with some unfortunate vices: she has a history of kleptomania, and it is hinted that she makes occasional use of drugs (not to mention alcohol and tobacco). In future installments these imperfections may serve to round out her character, but in the present book they seemed tacked on rather than organic. I will be interested to read future books in the series to see how Ellie develops, and how her ostensibly safe career as a documentarian involves her in new difficulties.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
Gideon Defoe
ISBN: 0375423214 $15.95 133 pages

When they're not belting out a lusty sea shanty or arguing about the best way to prepare ham, there's nothing pirates like more than a rousing adventure. Happily, that's just what's in store for the Pirate Captain and his shipful of variously monikered pirates--the scarf-wearing pirate, the pirate with an accordion, the ill-fated balding archeologist pirate--when they bump into Charles Darwin and his trained monkey Mr. Bobo in the South Pacific. Together, Darwin and the pirates sail off to England to combat the Bishop of Oxford, an evil-mustachioed villain with a diabolical scheme involving the grisly murder of numerous circus-going women. The Pirate Captain may be an unusually gullible scofflaw, and--how to put this nicely--he's not the sharpest cutlass in the drawer, but his peculiar combination of hirsute manliness, keen introspection ("Damn my piratical nature!"), and roguish je ne sais quoi may be just the thing needed to defeat the Oxfordian knave.

Gideon Defoe's exuberant The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists purports to be an account set down some 150 years ago by the debonair Pirate Captain himself--so the Captain's note to readers (specifically, negligee-clad, nineteen-year-old readers) on the back of the book alleges. (Careful readers may doubt the account's historicity, though, given its frequent anachronisms - references to Murder, She Wrote, for example, and Cocoa Puffs. I'll leave it to readers to nitpick.) It comes complete with the occasional footnote, some of the entries very odd indeed: "Black looks best on persons who have black in their features (hair, eyes, brows, and lashes), although black can be worn by most people for very dramatic occasions." There is also a handful of helpful questions for discussion in the back of the book. (For example, number seven: "Scientifically speaking, who do you think the tallest pirate in the world is?")

If it's not clear enough by now, Defoe's Pirates is a hilarious read filled with some extremely clever writing. Not for nothing has Monty Python's Eric Idle blurbed it as "destined to become a classic of pirate comic fiction." You'll want to read this one.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Dian's Bookshelf

Lessons from the Gypsy Camp
Elizabeth Appell
Scribes Valley Publishing
6824 Drybrook Lane, Knoxville, TN 37921
ISBN: 0974265217 $20.95

Ten-year old Lolly Candolin has decided to rebel. Either her father stops drinking, or she's cutting her hair.

Her father, lawyer Regan Candolin, doesn't care much for Lolly's ultimatum, and after she cuts her hair, he forces her to wear an itchy, wool cap over the mess she's made on her head. But that's not all. A firm believer in consequences, the unlikable Candolin forces Lolly to accompany him to the levee, where he proceeds to dump her old, best-friend cat.

At times disturbing, perhaps because of its realistic voyeurism into a home wrought with alcoholism and mean-spiritedness, Lessons from the Gypsy Camp is riveting.


So it was at the Johnsons' that she realized she could eat her entire dinner without having to force food down between knots in her throat. That night, when her mother came into her bedroom to hear her prayers, Lolly knelt and made the Sign of the Cross. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. God bless Mama and Daddy and Bo and me. And God, please let us have dinners like they do at the Johnsons' and have Daddy talk to me at the table." She blessed herself and crawled into bed.

"Your daddy is who he is and nothing's going to change him." Her mother leaned over and gathered her into her arms. Lolly twined her mother's hair around her finger and breathed in her scents of Estee Lauder and Kent cigarettes. "I don't want to change him. I just want him to talk to me."

"Don't bother with those kinds of prayers, Lolly. God made your daddy. Once the cherry pie comes out of the oven, you can't turn it into a lemon meringue."

"Do you love Daddy?" she asked.

Her mother sighed, then said, "Of course."

Lolly liked the feel of her mother's fingers combing through her unbraided hair.

"Do you think he loves you?"

Her mother said, "Yes. But there's two things I want for you, Lolly girl."

"What are they, Mama?"

"I want you to need your own approval before anyone else's, and I want you to be able to take care of yourself in case you ever have to."

"What do you mean?"

"Just that you mustn't be afraid."

"Of Daddy?"

"Of anything."

Lolly proceeds to look for her cat, Bo, and visits the other side of the levee where all children of good upbringing are forbid to go - this book's equivalent to the 'other side of the tracks.' While there, Lolly befriends Tick, a young-girl home-schooled by her healer mother, Sophia.

The other residents of the small trailer park also take a liking to Lolly and add layers to this novel, which keeps the pages turning. Meet Maltilda and Ducky, a husband and wife who are determined to outdo each other in their threats to kill each other; Bob Bob, a literal giant of a man who never misses a shot but misses the subtle meanings of life; and Sam, a man in love with Sophia who owns a cougar, which is Cougarville's secret.

Lolly becomes more involved daily with the residents of Cougarville and discovers more than she needs to know at ten-years old. She also manages to draw her grandfather into her secret visits which results in his being wounded by the cougar.

She is horrified and angry at the people of Cougarville, but doesn't realize the full ramifications of her actions. The sheriff proceeds to kill the cougar; the sheriff is murdered; and Sam is tried for the murder.

Lolly discovers more secrets and her knowledge leads her to testify against her father in court as he proceeds to prosecute Sam in the murder of the town's sheriff.

Though the book is fascinating, the prose at times slips to read like a young-adult novel, which this is not. The subjects of alcoholism, cruelty to animals, grudges, revenge, murder and insanity clash with the storytelling style.

I would not recommend this book for unsophisticated young readers, as the images portrayed are vivid enough to leave disturbed marks in a child's mind.

On the other hand, I would have liked to seen this story told in a more adult style to fit the adult sophistication level of the material. Though children today face horrid circumstances, and the events portrayed reveal both the best and worst of humankind, Appel's approach leaves the adult wanting more; but provides too much too much information for a child to absorb and process without an educated parent's firm and guided supervision.

Ted Dekker
Westbow Press
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214 (615) 902-2704
ISBN 0849943736 $21.99

I am a columnist for Faithwriters Magazine as well as the Editor in Chief for Sisters in the Lord Magazine, and as part of those jobs, I look for good reading material that engages the mind and challenges the reader to pursue a relationship with our Creator. I ran across Dekker's work two years ago when I searched for "Christian Fiction" on the Internet. A couple reviews piqued my interest, and I bought the second book in his "Martyr's Song" trilogy, titled "When Heaven Weeps.

That first book served to build in myself an obsession to read all of Dekker's books, and I promptly bought all that were available at the time. I've yet to be disappointed.

Dekker writes for the average individual and targets his books at a secular audience. He's received both good and bad reviews for doing so. I happen to applaud his courage and insight into man's psyche and his ability to enthrall even the most jaded reader. Perhaps a reader won't immediately run out and become a born-again Christian, but at all levels, a reader will have his heart touched and a seed is planted that develops an urge to want more.

Dekker's style in each book is to capture the reader from the first page and not let up until the end. So far, all his books have left me gasping at the end and obsessed to seek more.

Since the year 2000, author Ted Dekker has had eleven books published. An amazing accomplishment by itself, but currently, he also has all three of his Circle Trilogy books on the Christian Booksellers Association bestseller list.

No one can quite figure out what genre he's writing in, though. Is it fiction, fantasy, science fiction, thriller, mystery, Christian fiction? He's crossed genres in all of his books and perhaps that's what makes his work so appealing.

OBSESSED is Dekker's eleventh book, which combines mystery with a huge dose of suspense; historical fiction with compelling characters; and a quiet introduction to the true power and meaning of love. OBSESSED has something for everyone.

It begins in 1973 with young real-estate broker, Stephen Friedman, whose mother disappeared after the Holocaust. He's a brilliant moneymaker, living a quiet lifestyle and seems content until a phone call propels him into a madcap race to discover a treasure, his past, and possibly the love of his life.

OBSESSED takes the reader on a journey into two eras with alternating storylines. In 1973, Stephen's quest to discover the truth of his past and recover a treasure pits him against villain Roth Braun, the offspring of Gerhard Braun, an SS Officer during the Holocaust.

Scenes from 1944-45 at the work camp Toru¤ (Thorn), in Germany (now Poland) tell the stories of Stephen's mother, Martha, and her friend, Ruth as they struggle to survive and keep their children alive while under the evil power of Gerhard Braun. Both women are pregnant, a condition that puts them in peril. Between them, they are able to ensure the survival of their children: Stephen, Martha's son; and Esther, Ruth's daughter.

The wit and courage of Martha and Ruth reach across a generation and instigate a pursuit to fulfill the promises of hope and defeat the power of evil on one hand; and on the other, a pursuit to destroy hope and defeat the power of good.

Stephen discovers that his biological mother, Martha, may have lived near him for many years, though he never knew her; they were separated after the war, never to be reunited. Her death sets into motion both Stephen's quest to find one of the treasured Stones of David and recover his past, and Roth Braun's mission to recover not only a journal of the torturous games of his father, but also the power he feels has been drained from his family by the cleverness of Ruth and Martha.

Braun is disturbing, perhaps more so than the fictional Hannibal Lecter. He is obsessed with regaining a power that can only be fueled by drinking the blood of the offspring of the women his father guarded in Germany almost thirty years ago. Right before he kills them.

As Stephen races to retrieve the stone, his obsession grows to encompass the mysterious Esther. Could she be alive? Are they meant to be together? Are they the true Stones of David?

Dekker is a master at creating suspense with his creepy villains and boy/girl next-door heroes. Stephen is not athletic, his reasoning is skewed at times, and his courage is pulled from the depths of his being. As his obsession leads him into dangerous territory, a battle for his life and for others, the questions of exactly how is he going to prevail keeps the pages turning. The touches of humor in OBSESSED are a new device used by Dekker. But it works.

OBSESSED explores the question, "how far would you go" to retrieve a treasure? To discover your past? To find the love of your life? To protect the ones you love? To seek revenge on the ones you hate?

The theme in OBSESSED mirrors that in many of Dekker's books - the obsessive actions of a person in pursuit of his heart's desire, be that a possession, a person, or a god. Dekker also uses this compelling storyline to introduce readers to the parallel obsession of God in His never-ending pursuit of human hearts. At the end of OBSESSED, another question begs for an answer: How far will God go to woo our love?

Readers who are unfamiliar with Dekker's work can discover more online at his website, which is complete with trailers, soundtracks, free book downloads and a reader forum.

For a reader new to Dekker's style, I recommend two books to begin the heart-racing journey and obsession to read more:

Thr3e - A thriller which is under movie contract

When Heaven Weeps - the 2nd book in the Martyr's Song Trilogy. Start with the second book, then read the first, followed by the third.

All books by Dekker:

The Circle Trilogy: Black, Red, White
Blessed Child (with Bill Bright)
A Man Called Blessed (with Bill Bright)
The Martyr's Song Trilogy: Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, The Thunder of Heaven

I had an opportunity to interview Dekker about OBSESSED, and for those interested, it is available online at

Your Father's Voice: Letters for Emmy About Life with Jeremy and Without Him After 9/11
Lyz Glick and Dan Zegart
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0312319215 $22.95

Lyz Glick, a self-described "single-married person," chose to write a series of letters to her daughter, Emerson, about Jeremy Glick: husband, father, and fighter a hero who died on September 11, 2001, as one of the passengers on Flight 93.

Brutally honest, Lyz Glick and writer, Dan Zegart, create more than a book filled with letters to the Glick's daughter, Emerson, or "Emmy." Emmy, and readers around the world, will come to know a man who is both common and exceptional. Glimpses into the past, told by friends, family and his wife, show Glick's growth from precocious child to courageous man.

Emmy was not quite three-months old when her father and other passengers of Flight 93 became icons of courage in modern American history.

As Emmy learns about her father's past, from childhood to adulthood, readers also come to know Jeremy Glick, his wife, his extended family and friends.

Poignant, funny, wry, and sad, Your Father's Voice, is an intimate portrait of a special man whose past prepared him for the events on 9/11, an infamous day carved forever into American history.

Your Father's Voice is not a book to enjoy, but rather one to absorb.

This is a story of how the common man can rise with honor and sacrifice self to fight against evil. Jeremy Glick, in these letters to his daughter, is such a man a man who became one of God's warriors.

Lyz Glick and Zegart, through Your Father's Voice, allows those of us who watched helplessly as events played out on 9/11 to believe in heroes and hold them close in our hearts.

Laced with humor, sadness, anger, curiosity and more, this book of letters is also an account of the process Mrs. Glick was forced to partake in as a surviving widow, or "single-married person," as she calls herself.

Though the details are sometimes gruesome, at the same time, they are important to not only Lyz Glick, but to readers as well. Because of her tenacity, the world can also take a step forward toward healing by putting to rest questions about that ugly day.

Your Father's Voice is not a sugarcoated account of Jeremy Glick's life. We meet Glick as he was an ordinary man made extraordinary through his choices in life, and in death.

About the Authors: LYZ GLICK teaches at Berkeley College in New York. DAN ZEGART is a journalist whose work has won him several awards. He lives in Titusville, New Jersey, with his wife and daughter.


Now that Your Father's Voice is published, what, if anything, would you like to add?

Mrs. Glick: Tough question. I think Your Father's Voice accurately portrays where I am today in terms with my acceptance of Jeremy's death. I am still learning from him and still feel him near to me in so many ways. Emmy continues to grow and when she asks I tell her stories about her father. However, her knowledge of the events of September 11th is still very basic.

You wrote about the advice of a friend who said to get up immediately and don't stay in bed. What words of advice would you give to someone who is suddenly widowed?

Mrs. Glick: To take each moment as it comes. I feel best when I live in the moment, not worrying about the future or mourning the past. Take care of yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

How would you like to see this book used?

Mrs. Glick: I was touched to see how my book brought a sense of peace surrounding September 11th to you. My hope is that it will bring healing from a personal perspective to those either affected or not directly affected by September 11th. I hope my words and my story bring comfort and strength to those who have experience or will experience loss.

The picture on the back of the book looks like Jeremy is looking into the future, perhaps praying. What was he looking at?

Mrs. Glick: That has actually been a secret up to now -- because he really looks like he is thinking deeply and contemplating life, doesn't he? On a much lighter note however, he is looking with disgust at the spider webs which have accumulated on the porch ceiling.

How did the collaboration with Dan Zegart come about?

Mrs. Glick: I was introduced to Dan through my literary agent Bob Mecoy. I felt a natural comfort with Dan immediately. He is a great listener and obviously a very talented writer. As a father, with a daughter Emmy's age, he was able to capture my voice perfectly.

How long did it take to write this book?

Mrs. Glick: I started work on this book in the spring of 2002. I brought Dan in a few months later. So I guess about two years.

I was struck by the many ceremonies you attended and the ever-present presence of the media. What advice would you like to give the planners of ceremonies and the media when intruding into a survivor's grief?

Mrs. Glick: I feel that media events and public ceremonies are for the public and do not necessarily reflect the needs of grieving families. Respecting privacy is number one. I have met many reporters who were very respectful of my privacy and others who were overly aggressive and pushy. For months I hand reporters knocking on my door uninvited. Personally, I preferred to be contacted by mail. Then it was up to me whether or not I wanted to call back and I could do so at a time that was convenient for me.

What's new with you and Emmy?

Mrs. Glick: We just celebrated Halloween. Emmy was Pocahontas. I still have my ups and downs -- but watching Emmy grow and learn always lifts my spirits. As she grows, I see so much of Jeremy in her and that is very beautiful for me.

Treasure Forest, Book I of The Forest Inside Trilogy.
Cat Bordhi
Namaste Publishing Inc.
P.O. Box 62084, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6J 4A3 604-224-3179
ISBN: 0968236480 $24.75

A riddle, a wise-woman, mystical acorns and a hermit all are part of the mysterious journey a grandmother entrusts to her grandchildren Ben and Sara.

Grandma Daphne has died, and her Will includes secret letters and instructions to her daughter Lily's children. Daphne's greatest wish is for the family to live in her house adjacent to the Forest for one year, during which time she hopes Ben and Sara's tasks will lead their mother and father into the forest to find "the dearest freshness deep down inside."

First in a trilogy, author Cat Bordhi has set the stage for an ongoing adventure-quest acted out by Ben and Sara. Ben is a new teenager, with Sara close on his hills. Together, their special skills and knowledge, taught them by Grandmother Daphne, work towards the ultimate understanding of self and nature.

In this first book, young Sara turns up missing after a visit to the Forest. The characters introduced to complete this storyline are each interesting.

Daggett, a hermit who lives on the other side of the pond in the Forest and communes with ravens and coyotes.

Esther, a woman of wizardly skills who continues Daphne's story for Sara.

Rupert, an old friend of Daphne's, confined to a wheelchair and the owner of Matthias, the three-legged bloodhound Ben loves.

Thea, Rupert's daughter, who, with Matthias, joins the search for Sara, and trusts the instincts of Ben.

Archie, another friend of Daphne's.

Lily, Ben and Sara's mother, who is frightened of the Forest.

Peter, the father of Ben and Sara, who learns his children know more about the universe than he does.

Mystery surrounds each character and object in the book, from how to retrieve a treasure from beneath the pond without disturbing the water to the mystical qualities of seven, specially carved acorns. One of the seven acorns is in the wrong hands. Why does Daggett live in the Forest? Why is Lily afraid of the Forest?

One of the numerous unique story elements is a tree-house knitted from rope. Ben learns this skill from Rupert, and he uses it to help his mother continue to knit a special pair of socks for the missing Sara.

Listed as Young Adult Fiction, "Treasure Forest" is an adventure suitable for adult readers, too.

CAUTION: Parents should know that dangerous situations are described in detail in "Treasure Forest," such as falling into quicksand, escaping it, but liking it enough to want to do it again; using rope to climb steep cliffs, and venturing into areas the fictional parents told their children not to go.

I recommend for parents to read the book first and decide whether their child is mature enough to not go out and attempt any of the adventures described in the book. Though the information, if properly absorbed can save a life, please make sure your child is mature enough to apply the information with common sense.

That caution aside, the book is fascinating, the characters well drawn, and the setting one of endless secrets to discover.

About the Author:

Interview with Cat Bordhi, Author of Treasure Forest, Book I of The Forest Inside Trilogy

Dian: There are many elements in this first book of "The Forest Inside" trilogy. Can you share some of your inspiration for

a. The knitted tree-house

Cat Bordhi: I love trees - and spent hours and hours in them as a child. I am a knitter as well, actually a knit designer and author, and it was natural for me to segue from knitting into knitting a tree house. It turns out to be a profoundly practical method of making a tree house which goes up and down quickly, does not harm the tree, and is very safe because it involves no nails or splinters, and you can cling to it anywhere with fingers or toes.

b. The seven acorns

Cat Bordhi: The tree I spent the most time in as a child was a California Live oak, with wonderful acorns. They always seemed magical to me - and still do.

c. The mystical Esther and who or what she represents:

Cat Bordhi: Esther just appeared. She represents the wisdom that comes from being old enough to have lived many lives and also old enough to be unattached to appearances, ideas, or other footholds in the ego's struggle. I did not invent her or think about her - she just "is".

Dian: Some of the situations Ben finds himself in are dangerous, and he gets into these situations by disobeying his parents. Young Adults will appreciate the small rebellions, but parents may be concerned, especially with the explicit scenes about the quicksand and using rope to climb the forbidden cliffs. With this in mind, what advice do you have for your young readers and their parents?

Cat Bordhi: This is a good question, one which my brother asked me after reading the book as well. I grew up in a large family and also spent a decade as a school teacher, so am very familiar with mischief and children's fondness of trying the "forbidden". The last thing I would want is for anyone to become harmed through reading my book, but I feel I have been very careful to safeguard against such things. The information about quicksand is accurate and who knows, it may save a life sometime if a reader knows to relax and not struggle. I do feel that the level of misbehavior the kids get into is very realistic, and in my opinion, realism offers parents and children a good forum for discussion. It is much safer to talk about what happens to characters in a book than to have your child try things out him or herself; my hope is that the book acts as a caution to children in certain areas.

Dian: Daggett is a complex character. Did you have a role-model for Daggett and will he have a larger role in subsequent books?

Cat Bordhi: My role-model for Daggett comes from several places. One, Ishi, the last Yahi Indian, and the subject of many books, this Rousseau-like man of nature also inspires Daggett as a boy when he discovers Ishi's artifacts in a museum in San Francisco. The other model for Daggett is far darker and not directly mentioned - and this is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. I do consider Daggett to be "Everyman", the seemingly "bad" person who is in truth deeply good. Yes, Daggett will have a large role in both remaining books. In the prequel he will be a pivotal character - appearing as a youth along with the other older characters of Treasure Forest, also appearing in their youth. In the sequel Daggett will surprise you with what happens to him as he must continue his life "homeless" and far away from his kingdom of nature.

Dian: Have you knitted your own tree house?

Cat Bordhi: I have knitted several. In fact, if you go to my web site,, you will find photos and directions and also several very detailed interviews with me about the book.

Dian: Where did the phrase, "the dearest freshness deep down inside" originate?

Cat Bordhi: This phrase comes from Gerard Manley Hopkins, the poet, from the most delicious poem, "God's Grandeur".

Dian: Will all the character introduced in Book I make an appearance in Book II?

Cat Bordhi: All the main characters, including Matthias the bloodhound, will appear in all three books.

Dian: This book is a journey of discovery into our inner-man and the intertwining spirits of all living creatures. Readers will absorb the meanings in this story based partly on their own spirituality, their understanding of fantasy and other things you have no control over. Ultimately, what is the message you wish your readers to take away from the book?

Cat Bordhi: My wish is that readers awaken from their time with my book with two things. One, a feeling that cannot be put into words, a feeling that the world is good and life is good and that the dearest freshness deep down things is indeed in all things and all beings. Two, I hope that readers find themselves experiencing life with a greater innocence and faith in themselves and others, that they notice that which is "invisible" yet powerfully felt in other people is of enormous value and worthy of love and respect. And I wish to bring people's awareness to nature more than it may be now. Again, thank you for the opportunity.

Dian: Thanks so much for sharing your imagination, love for nature and for re-awakening the child in myself.

Kevin Scott Collier
Baker Trittin Press
PO Box 277, Winona Lake, IN 4659
ISBN: 0975288024 $10.95

Through my position as an editor and columnist for Christian publications, I am always looking for good reading material for all ages. I happened upon author Kevin Collier quite by accident when I saw the title listed on a new releases publication. Intrigued by the name of the book, and the concept of heaven going high-tech, I sent for the book. I was charmed. Though written for the middle-school-aged child (tweener), BARTHPENN@HEAVEN.ORG strikes a chord in the adult heart as well.

Ten-year old Jordan Mink accidentally receives an email from Bartholomew Pennington (Bart), an Angel who lives on Cloud 9. Jordan writes back, and Bart is in deep trouble for breaking the confidentiality of Heaven. To avoid exposure he agrees to correspond with Jordan, and the story unfolds, told entirely in emails.

I recommend that people of all ages read this small book with a big message. Better yet, all ages should read this book together, as a family, with friends, and in school. Yes, in a public school.

Without preaching, Collier has created a masterpiece of communication full of vivid details, which appear in the reader's mind through short, web-ese emails.

By the end of the story, I was amazed, and touched, to realize I had finished a story of remarkable dimensions.

Kindness, good deeds and learning the importance of empathy are explored, and Collier shows through this story how our actions cause ripples in the ocean of human life, affecting ourselves and the people we come to know. The importance of love and friendships without judging one another are illustrated as Jordan interacts with his family, schoolmates and an angel who also has a lesson to learn.

My interest in this author grew, and I wanted to know more about him and his inspiration for this unique book. He agreed to an interview, and I've included it below for those who are interested in more.

Collier also writes and illustrates two online stories on, The Adventures of Tommy Tweener" and "Esther's Channel." He designs all the graphics and illustrations.

Interview with Kevin Scott Collier, author of BARTHPENN@HEAVEN.ORG

Interviewed by Dian Moore

Q. What was your inspiration for a book written entirely in e-mail form?

A: It just came to me, from a joke I told a child. He asked me if I prayed to God, and I responded, "No, I email him instead!" Then, the wheels in my head started turning. I started seeing the entire concept in my head, of a book that is both inspirational, and tech oriented for children.

Q. What is your ultimate dream - your hopes from the publication of this book?

A: To inspire children. To reach out and make people think, both young and old. I'm not in it for fame or fortune, I'm on a pathway my creator has put me on. This is about using my gifts for a spiritual purpose.

Q. When did you begin to write, and what types of things did you write?

A: I actually began as an artist, at age 5. But, with the creation of characters, stories had to be told, so writing was a natural companion to illustration. I mainly created, wrote, and illustrated Super Heroes, and made my own comic books which I sold to neighborhood kids. I pretty much had my own humble little publishing company by age 13.

Q. Tell us a little of your background - where you grew up, family composition, hobbies and current life.

A: I was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan in 1957. It was a foundry town, my dad worked as an automotive pattern maker, and mom was a full time mother raising us five kids; I have 3 brothers, 1 sister. I was really into art as a kid, cartooning in particular, and still am today. I have a lot of strange and dangerous hobbies, like Parasailing and Sand Boarding to name a few. My family has a cottage on a lake, we pull a parachute behind our powerboat, and go sailing up to 500 feet in the air. I have a few surfboards I surf down huge sand dunes with too, some hills as high as 10 stories. I've had a few mishaps there! I love to ride my mountain bike everywhere too, and average 1,500 - 2,800 miles a year recreational biking.

Q. Will there be a sequel to Barthpenn?

A: The ending of the book is set up to lead to a sequel, and my publisher, Baker Trittin Press has opened the door for one. We're just going to see how much impact it has before I begin a second one. And, I have many other books for them in the works, so I'd like to get out new things before revisiting

something I've done.

Q. How about a book for adults, in the same format - would you do one? If so, why, and if no, why not.

A: Actually, "", and all of my upcoming titles, are for parents, too. My publisher is aware of this, and supports the concept. It's a way to reach and touch kids and adults for more of a blanket audience. My next book, "Esther's Channel", on the surface, looks like a little tale about a turtle and her friends, but it's really about adult behavior that unites and divides us.

Q. When determining what type of job an angel might hold, how did you come up with the "workforce."

A: It all sort of fell into place. Heaven was going to be shaken up with a breach in security, and thus there has to be an angelic food chain as well, different levels all trying to manage a crisis. It's whimsical! I think the funniest part is Bart the angel's superiors (St. Andrew and St. Hawthorne) trying to keep the "misguided email" sent to Jordon Mink a secret of sorts from God Almighty. Yeah, right! God knew this all was going to happen before any of it did!

Q. Who is the inspiration for Jordan's character?

A: It's me, but I didn't do it intentionally. My wife says I drew so much on my past that Jordon became me. I did have a situation when I was 16, where I had a burst appendix, and spent a month in the hospital. I almost died, and I was very spiritual, and felt I had a guardian angel there watching over me.

Q. Feel free to talk at length about anything you would like readers of this book to know.

A: There are a lot of messages in BART (as I call the book), but perhaps the best message is to never make negative assumptions. There are so many situations in the book where assumptions are made about others that turn out to be totally wrong. Get to KNOW others. Negative assumptions caused Jordon to misjudge Mr. Baxter, the elderly man with Alzheimer's disease, and a misjudgment of Brandon's character (Jordon's friend) nearly cost the two their friendship. It isn't until we get to know others, and use compassion and wisdom and hope as our guide, do others begin to unfold for us in our lives. You really begin to see what life is all about when your heart becomes your eyes. And, we all affect one another, and influence others. It's like they book says, "by the end of our lives we become a collection of everyone who ever loved us." You will miss out on many good people by misjudging them or making assumptions.

February 2005 News about


"barthpenn" has been chosen the as the February 2005 book of the month by Craig Hart's ChristianLit magazine website. The first place award recognition notes: "(It) is the first juvenile fiction book chosen for the Craig's Choice Award."

The Valley of Cancer: a Journey of Comfort and Hope
Angelina Fast-Vlaar
Belleville Publishing
Belleville, ON. (no longer in business)
ISBN 1553060229 $10.95

Cancer. The word itself is ominous and strikes terror in our hearts. Today, it's not uncommon for people in North America to know someone who has or had cancer, have it themselves, or had a family member suffer from it.

A diagnosis of cancer means many things to different people, but often it does not immediately conjure a feeling of hope.

In "THE VALLEY OF CANCER: A JOURNEY OF COMFORT AND HOPE," author Angelina Fast-Vlaar has given to the world a gift of hope. It is her "prayer that this sharing of my journey may be a means of "calling back" to you to encourage you, whatever your valley may hold."

The small volume is arranged to document the 17 months of Fast-Vlaar's journey, beginning with the diagnosis in July 1997 to remission of the cancer in November 1998.

Then entries are excerpts from her journal, beginning with what her condition that month is, then proceeding to reflection, a poem, a place of understanding. As Fast-Vlaar states in the conclusion, the entries themselves sometimes inspired hope as a thought, scripture or poem was brought to mind. In reading the different chapters, the reader also takes the journey and experiences a renewal of hope.

The format is unusual as it is not a memoir or in-depth story of a woman's life after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Instead, it is a personal dialogue between the author and God, the author and herself, the author and her family, and finally, the author and the readers.

I watched my mother travel in the dark valley of cancer over a period of two years, and I wish I had had this work to share with her during that time. To know she was not alone in the moments of darkness, and to encourage her to find the peace in her heart.

As a reviewer, I normally read a book with an analytical approach as to its overall value in content, writing skill, entertainment value, life-application, and ultimately reach a conclusion of whether I recommend it.

This review process was different. From the first page, I was enthralled, emotionally attached to the work as I wept, laughed and finally rejoiced. I have been blessed from reading this book. Though my mother did not survive her battle with cancer, I was comforted that hope springs eternal through a woman I've never met.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has cancer, fears getting cancer, has a loved one with cancer or is just curious. And along with reading the book, I encourage the reader to also journal, taking inspiration from a survivor who wishes to "call-back" to you.

Books may be purchased through the author's website at

About the Author: Angelina Fast-Vlaar is a cancer survivor, teacher and writer. She has a new book, Seven Angels for Seven Days, scheduled to be released in late Spring/05. It won The Word Guild's "Best New Canadian Author" award!

Interview with Angelina Fast-Vlaar:

Q. It's been almost eight years since you received the diagnosis that you had colon cancer. I'm thrilled you are here today as a survivor and thankful that you shared your journey with us in The Valley of Cancer: A Journey of Comfort and Hope. What was the defining moment that caused you to publish this book of personal journaling, poetry, and vignettes of your time of treatment and recovery?

AFV: There were several defining moments that prompted the publishing of The Valley of Cancer. I wrote "Glory for Jane" for a friend experiencing the hair loss disaster at the same time I did. She was deeply touched and encouraged by the piece and that gave me the first indication that my experience could be of help to others. I sent "Easter" to a friend with terminal cancer. It arrived on the day he went to glory. Again, the family was deeply touched not only that I shared but that it should arrive on the day they so much needed this vision of entering heaven.

The most defining moment came into the eighth month of chemotherapy treatments when I became so ill I thought I might not make it. My reading was in Psalm 118 one day. When I read verse 17, "I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done..." it was as if the words were spoken aloud directly to me - a promise that I would live and a task to tell others what the Lord had done for me in the form of a book.

Q. May I ask how your health is today?

AFV: My health today is good. The last check-up showed I'm still completely cancer free! I do not have the energy I used to have, but we learn to adjust to that.

Q. At times the book is both poignant and hopeful, such as "The Dance," where you describe dancing with your granddaughter and her delight in the new hair that's growing back. Your daughter then joins you and helps shape the hair, and you are admired as once you admired the new growth on newborn babes. Tell us how that moment defined hope for you.

AFV: That moment remains such a precious memory! The room tingled with joy and hope that night; the walls echoed giggling and laughter. My "newborn fuzz" was a sign of healing! Just as my head was "healed" of baldness, so my body could be healed of cancer. Life and love would continue!

Q. Cancer changes people, as you noted in the epilogue. Now, a few years later, what other changes have you experienced because of your journey through that valley of cancer?

AFV: My activities have changed. They are now much more cancer-patient focused: visiting, encouraging, writing, and, yes, being at death-beds. I've spent the last two years visiting, among others, a dear neighbor as she battled lung-cancer. We spent precious hours together; I heard her life-story; she gave her heart to the Lord. A few hours before she died, I spent time softly stroking her, telling her to let go, the angels would soon come and take her Home. I miss her. I am the one who is blessed by these encounters with brave souls who have made peace with God and with dying.

Q. Have you thought of adding to the book, or perhaps writing a sequel? I noticed it is on its third printing as of November 2004, and that you post new information on your website.

AFV: After finishing Seven Angels for Seven Days, I feel "nudged" to write a devotional book. Not quite a sequel to The Valley of Cancer but it will include experiences after cancer. It seems like a monumental task to write 365 pages but ideas keep coming and I keep scribbling. It'll be in the same vein as the other books: finding a message in the circumstances God has placed us. The theme for this new "work-in-progress" is, "In the shelter of His presence."

Q. A term you used, "call-back," refers to an action or feeling of a cancer survivor who calls back to those newly diagnosed to not give up hope, that they are there on the other side. This described "Valley of Cancer" in a nutshell. Would you elaborate more on calling back?

AFV: The term, "calling back," originates in a poem printed in Streams in the Desert (Compiled by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman). It embodies the idea of encouraging each-other. "Tell me how it was for you and that will encourage me to keep going." We see ourselves in other people's stories and find truth and encouragement. I met a friend at the cancer clinic who said, "Angie, all my hair fell out over the week-end and I cried my eyes out. But that was all right because I knew you also cried."

Q. You stated in the beginning of "Valley" that friends and family encouraged you to publish this book, taken mostly from your journaling during that time. How much of the book is from those journals, and how did journaling help you through your journey?

AFV: All the titled pieces in the book appear just as I wrote them in my journal except for some minor editing. The pages that describe what took place each month are many journal entries condensed to one page.

Journaling became my "out" during the long year of therapy treatments. Too ill to get up and totally bored, I'd reach for my notebook and just start writing. It was mostly telling the Lord exactly how I was feeling. I wrote short sentences because I was too tired to write long ones! Short sentences with and added title creates a poem more or less! I soon realized the writing was God's gift to me - to help me pass the time as I played with words, to record what I was feeling, to pray on paper, to find meaning in the suffering and to receive encouragement!

Q. What are you working on now?

AFV: I'm very excited about my new book, Seven Angels for Seven Days, scheduled to be released in late spring of this year. It won the "Best New Canadian Author" award. The publisher is Castle Quay Books (connected with Augsburg Fortress Publishers.) The book tells another personal "saga." An exciting journey into the Australian outback desert takes a drastic turn and catapults me into a desert of a different kind. Strangers come to minister to me, as I envision angels would.

Q. Finally - say anything you like - a blurb about your upcoming book; a plug for cancer awareness; the page is open for you.

AFV: Today as I watched Oprah, [Feb. 10, 2005] two cancer patients received a wedding shower and a trip to Australia. It touched me so that with tears in my eyes I proclaimed to my husband that a new charity needs to be founded: "Make an Adult Smile!"

We can all do something on a smaller scale: give a coupon for a facial, a massage, a dinner out, a weekend away, an offer to baby sit, clean the house, etc. etc. etc.

I just received a phone call. Another friend, a beautiful husband and father, just heard the devastating news - colon cancer gone to the liver and lungs. So very sad. Especially so because a colonoscopy in time may have prevented it all!

Thank you for sharing this story with the world. I believe every cancer patient should have a copy.

Dian Moore, Reviewer

Duncan's Bookshelf

The DaVinci Code
Dan Brown
Doubleday, div of Random House
1745 Broadway; New York, NY
ISBN: 0385504209 $24.95 454 pp.

The curator of the Louvre Museum is murdered. He leaves a cryptic message that leads his granddaughter (a gifted French cryptologist) and an American expert in religious symbology on a hunt to understand the curator's last message and the hidden details buried in Leonardo DaVinci's paintings.

The prize they seek is a collection of ancient documents that will reveal the real history of the prophet Jesus: that he was married to Mary Magdalene. Following his death Mary came to France to protect the child of Jesus, named Sarah. The documents list the children of Sarah and list her descendants who became the first members of the Merovingian blood line of French royalty. The collection of documents and the bones of Mary Magdalene are known by another name, the Holy Grail.

Browns' The DaVinci Code is a fast paced adventure of two people who are running to stay one step ahead of a religious fanatic assassin. The story resolves itself when Sophie (the cryptologist) discovers why her parents were killed and discovers she has a surviving brother.

The Grail story is based on the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln.
Delacorte Press
1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza; New York, NY 10017
ISBN: 0440036623 $24.95; 387 pp. plus 77 pp. appendices & Index.

There are, living among us, lineal direct descendants of Jesus of Nazareth. These descendants carry the genetic markers of the prophet Jesus and his wife Mary Magadalene. The authors claim the early church slandered Mary Magdalene (who was not a prostitute) in order to foster the asceticism of Jesus.

Further, the authors propose that Mary traveled to southern France to protect her child, Sarah. Direct descendants of Sarah were the progenitors of the royal bloodline of Franch kings. The authors also propose the Knights Templar brought Solomon's treasure to France and (perhaps) hid it in a mine in southern France.

The authors also propose that the Priory de Sion has protected the bloodline and the bones of Mary Magdalene down through the centuries. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a reference work used by Dan Brown in writing his novel The DaVinci Code, If you have an interest in the hidden obscure history of the Priory de Sion then this book is a comfortable entry into the mystery.

Digital Fortress
Dan Brown
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0312995423 $7.99; 430 pp.

Imagine if you will, a computer generated algorithm with the ability to stifle and bewilder any hacker anywhere in the world. This algorithm would have the ability to protect the privacy of all transmissions on the internet. Dan Brown's Digital Fortress proposes that the United States could build an agency with a computer so powerful that it could decipher any 'Privacy Code' used by security technicians, unless a 'Digital Fortress' code was developed to thwart that code-breaking computer.

Digital Fortress is a techno-thriller that held my attention with escalating drama and plausible dangers to the two heroes who are acting to save and preserve the United States' intelligence computer from a massive and invasive virus. This book is a fast read and an enjoyable thriller. You will enjoy the suspense.

Marty Duncan, Reviewer

Emanuel's Bookshelf

No Plot? No Problem!
Chris Baty
Chronicle Books
ISBN 0811845052, $14.95 176 pp.

How you would feel if you were told you could write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days? Would you picture yourself quitting your day job and retreating to some log cabin to write it? Could you see your name on the New York Times Bestseller list? Well, in Chris Baty's new book "No Plot? No Problem!," the author explains just how the seemingly impossible goal is attainable.

Baty is the founder of the National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo), where everyone from the polished author to the newbie is given the task of writing a novel in 30 days. The book serves as a step-by-step guide on how to achieve the goal. Why is the writer only given 30 days? It's because people seem to work better when deadlines are established. Baty explains: " most of us become "one day" novelists. As in, 'One day, I'd really like to write a novel.' The problem is that that day never seems to come, and so we're stuck. Or we were stuck, anyway. Because as far as artistic deadlines go, this book comes with a doozy."

What about the person who hasn't a clue about novel writing? Not a problem. Baty shows you how to get started by developing characters, writing what you know or want to know, and participating in free range writing without worrying about editing. By the time you're done, you'll have a first draft of that great American novel you've been promising yourself you'd write. Well, uh, at least you'll have written an American novel, which is the goal here anyway. The editing phase and getting published are a whole different ball game. So if you're just writing a novel just to say you've written one or to get a major publishing deal like a few of the NaNoWriMo participants have done, there's something in this book for you.

"No Plot? No Problem!" is filled with sound advice on how to write the first draft of a novel, even if you don't adhere to the 30-day rule. Baty's humorous writing style makes reading the book a fun way to learn all about the writing process without necessarily taking the task too seriously. So if you're interested in writing a novel just for the hell of it or to sign that two-book deal with a major publisher, this book is great desk reference to help you get started.

Highly Recommended

We the Media
Dan Gillmor
ISBN 596007337, $24.95 304 pp.

Weblogs (online web pages written in diary-format often called blogs) are one of the latest trends in Internet technology. Blogs can be written by an incredibly diverse group of people, including consumer products advocates, political supporters, and corporate public relations people. In "We the Media," San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor discusses how grassroots journalism has gained momentum, especially due to weblogging.

From the introduction of the book, it is clear that the author believes that "tomorrow's news reporting and production will be more of a conversation, or a seminar." The technology behind blogs allows that conversation to take place, particularly the comments section that allows readers to give input and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that allows readers to pick and choose the subject matter they want to read about. Even though there is a down side to consider (trolls, liars, and other people who use the technology maliciously) the tone of this book indicates that Gillmor is a supporter of the technology.

"We the Media" is very informative when it discusses history in journalism, the limits of the First Amendment, and trends in technology, such as WIKI, SMS, and RSS. However, if one was looking for a more technical book on how to use this technology, this may not be the book for that person, since it gives more of a surface level overview than a deep, technical view. In other words, it is more of a "what is" versus a "how to" book. Though some of the information tends to get repetitive, this book could still serve as a useful guide on the future of grassroots journalism.

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

Joy Fielding
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020 1-800-456-6798
ISBN 0743488008 $25.00

This is Joy Fielding at her very best. I have read this author since the first novel and she continues to show why she is one of the best in the field of suspense novelists. This novel marks a first in that it takes place in Palm Beach and Canada. Attorney Amanda Travis gets a call telling her that her mother has been charged with the crime of murder in Canada. She leaves her home in Palm Bach Florida to confront her mother in jail. She is stunned when her mother admits to the killing and wants to receive her punishment. Amanda knows there is something beneath the surface and she is determined to find out what it is. Fielding once again tells her narrative with solid characters and writing that build to the final surprising ending.

Clear Body Clear Mind
L Ron Hubbard
Bridge Publications.
4751 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029
Phone: (800) 722-1733 Fax: (323) 953-3328
ISBN 1573182249 $14.95

In death L. Ron Hubbard has become a publishing phenomenon. He died in 1986 at the age of 74, but Bridge Publications under the banner of Galaxy Publishing continues to pump out copies of his science fiction novels including "Battlefield Earth," The Mission Earth Series," his pulp westerns and, of course, Dianetics. With this book the late founder of Scientology weighs in with more advice for the living. Originally intended to be used in the drug treatment programs, Clear Body Clear Mind offers advice on how someone can remain youthful and healthy by keeping the body in harmony. Hubbard discusses such things as running every day to get rid of toxins that build up in the body; eating the right foods to keep the system well tuned; and keeping a positive mental attitude. He argues that with a body in good working order, stress can be easily relieved. This book, originally published in 1990, is back again with a new cover and format of trade paperback. Its information is timelier now as opposed to when it first came out, because our world is more stressed than ever before. What I liked about this book is that it has a very sensible approach that is easy to understand, and the information makes a lot more sense than the fad diet programs we have seen come and go

Business Daffynitions Humor from the Workplace
Joe Heuer
Daffynitions Press
Glendale Wisconsin 1-800-492-3548
ISBN 0964761858 $9.99

I love books like this that are just a lot of fun. Heuer has pulled together a lot of wacky definitions of terms about jobs, business, bosses, and a lot more, and given new meaning to many things we frequently say and do everyday. This is a book to take to the office and have fun with co-workers. The funny thing is that some of his warped definitions are right on target with the way things are today in our society. Heuer's book is one to laugh out loud and share with others to create lighter moments for all occasions.

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XX
Edited by Algis Budrys
Galaxy Press
7051 Hollywood Blvd, Suite 200, Hollywood, CA 90028
ISBN 1592121772 $7.99

When this series began, no one ever believed it would last this long. This twentieth volume shows that Writers of the Future program will be around for a lot longer. This is the newest installment to continue the yearly collection of novice writers who for the first time get a chance to be published. Like all other volumes in the series there are also some great editorials by many noted writers in the field of fantasy and science fiction. Some are former contest winners themselves. Galaxy Press continues to be one of the biggest contributors to the field of science fiction and fantasy and carries out the mission author Hubbard set forth to bring new talent to the genre.

Simon Says Dream Live a Passionate Life
Simon T. Bailey
Foreword by Mark Chironna
IP Books
P. O. Box 150823, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32715-0823
ISBN 0972991204 $15.00

I found this book to be very interesting because it tells that you can do whatever you want to you, just have to have the imagination to do whatever you want to do. He shows that so many of us do not use what we have to get where we want. His writing is clear and concise, while he speaks in simple terms all can understand. Bailey is truly a motivator with a great book that has a lot to say about getting what you want in life.

3rd Degree
James Patterson and Andrew Gross
Warner Books Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN 0446614831 $7.99

So far, this is the best book of the series. The writing is, as always, fast and furious with many likeable characters. In this one there is an element that makes it different from the first two. One of the four characters of the Women's Murder Club will die before the end of the book. Part of the fun was to try to figure which one it is. These are the three professional ladies who in the last two novels get together with Detective Lindsay Boxer and give her insight that helps her solve her case. Patterson is as always a master of this type of book and he shows again why he is so popular. I look forward to seeing the next book in the series where Patterson is teamed with a female writer. It will be interesting to see if that book is as good as the first three that were written by males.

The Acton Principles
Bill Fitzpatrick
American Success Institute
5 North Main Street, Natick MA 01760
ISBN 1884864139 $6.00

This small book is packed with lots of good positive statements on how to have a wonderful life. There are over 100 different things the author shows on how to have a better life. This is an inspirational book that is easy to follow and understand.

The Confession
Domenic Stansberry
Hard Case Crime
Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN 0843953543 $6.99

I loved this book with a twist and turn mystery that held my interest to the final page. Forensic psychologist Jake Danser finds he is the center of an investigation into the murder of one of his patients, even though the police on the case have worked with him before, because all of the evidence they have points directly to Danser. This is an author who knows how to tell a good story. I look forward to seeing other books by this writer.

The Executioner: Poison Justice
Don Pendleton
Gold Eagle
ISBN 0373643160 $4.99

Known for so many years as guilty pleasure, reading these books continue to pour out to fans like myself every couple of months. The stories are written by several authors and detail the adventures of Mack Bolan who fights terrorists and others in a never-ending war. The books are always good escapism and this one is one of the best in a long time. In this one there is a radioactive toxin that Bolan has to shut down before it is set off to cause so much damage and destruction.

Kipton & the Android
Charles L Fontenay
Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue, PO Box 399, Unionville, NY 10988, USA
845 726-4444 Fax: 845 726-3824
ISBN 0880923830 $7.99

Now seventeen, Kipton is on another case of murder on the planet Mars in the 8th novel of the Kipton Chronicles. Fontenay, a master storyteller, has once again combined the best elements of science fiction with those of the mystery genre in a very fascination story that is filled with interesting characters like gruff, who helps her solve the puzzling tale. Fontenay has also included the Asimov Laws of Robotics for the Android character who has confessed to the murder that sets up the rest of the novel.

From Sawdust to Stardust
Terry Lee Rioux
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
ISBN 0743457625 $14.00

I enjoyed this biography of one of the most important actors to the show "Star Trek" because throughout the book, the author is always very positive about DeForest Kelly who played Dr. McCoy. Unlike other books by the stars of the show where they were ridiculously negative about certain aspects of the show and movies, this author shows the real DeForest Kelly to be a very private person as well as an actor who had worked in many genres and types of film before "Star Trek" Also unlike other actors of the show he never felt or resented being typecast, and loved the character of Dr. McCoy. I am a Trek fan like most and learned a lot about a very fine actor who is no longer with us. The author's work is a tribute to the man who made the character so much fun to watch.

Gary Roen

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Mocking Program
Alan Dean Foster
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 044661307X $6.99 312 pages

Foster creates worlds. In 'The Mocking Program,' Foster brings the reader into the foreseeable future. The region along the border between Mexico and the US has become the industrial powerhouse for the North American continent. The 'Strip,' from the Pacific to the Caribbean, is an area of factories and urbanization blended with Mexican, Native American and US cultures. It has all the problems of a thriving growing community of millions bursting into its own power.

Inspector Angel Cardinas is the federale investigating the scavenged corpse of George Anderson. His DNA doesn't match his ID. His wife claims she isn't his wife and disappears with their young daughter, Katla; leaving their home, a time bomb triggered to kill anyone who enters it. Inspector Cardinas is an intuit investigator for the Noamerican Federal Police, NFP. It takes all of his special training to follow and survive the trail the Andersons leave through the teaming underworld of the Strip. With criminal gangs from three continents trying to kill or capture the women, Inspector Cardinas' skills are pushed to the limits in the dangerous search for the truth behind the women's disappearance.

'The Mocking Program' is a hard-boiled detective novel set in a believable science fiction world. It isn't an easy read. You are brought into a new reality with all of the surprises and familiarities of someplace you imagine might exist a hundred years from now. 'The Mocking Program' is a must read for anyone who enjoys SF or gritty detective mysteries. The richly detailed action story will carry you nonstop from the first page to the last, leaving you wanting more.

Burn Factor
Kyle Mills
Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0061098035 $7.99 424 pages

Mills is a straightforward suspense writer. He doesn't push the plot too far into fantasy.

Quinn Barry is working as a computer programmer for the FBI. A search program she writes for CODIS, the national DNA criminal database, turns up five linked murders. When she tells her boss about the links, she is nearly fired. Quinn decides to investigate and discovers that the CODIS system has been programmed to ignore crimes where a specific criminal's DNA is left. Soon more than her job is at stake when a shadowy government agency tries to silence her and the sadistic murderer discovers she is looking for him. 'Burn Factor' is a clear-cut thriller. It doesn't push the limits of believability to the extreme. 'Burn Factor' is a comfortable nail-biter that is an entertaining weekend read.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Women Surviving the Holocaust In Spite of Horror
Jutta T. Bendremer
The Edwin Mellen Press
PO Box 450, Lewiston, NY 14092-0450
0773486658 $99.95 1-716-754-2788

Women Surviving the Holocaust In Spite of Horror presents the experiences of ten female Holocaust survivors. Each one tells her story in a first person interview, the paragraphs of which are broken up by editor, compiler and author's Jutta T. Bendremer's summaries of the milestones of life. The tales are unflinchingly honest in their portrayal of unspeakable horror, but also reveal determination and boundless strength within the hearts of those who suffered. A powerful, poignant, and welcome addition to Holocaust literature shelves.

The New Politics Of Race
Howard Winant
University of Minnesota Press
111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520
081664280X $19.95

The New Politics Of Race: Globalism, Difference, Justice, is a collection of superbly crafted essays by Howard Winant (Professor of Sociology, University of California - Santa Barbara) dealing with contemporary American social issues arising from considerations of race and ethnicity. A mix of new and previously published essays, The New Politics Of Race combine to provide the reader with a comprehensive perspective on the origins and nature of post-World War II complex racial politics that evolve and persist to the present day. Of special note are Professor Winant's thoughts on identifying the ways in which racial hierarchies everywhere are being reestablished and reenergized (often clandestinely and in newly refashioned forms) by contemporary political state and national forces. Also available in a a hardcover edition (0816642796, $59.95), The New Politics Of Race is a seminal and critically important work of impeccable scholarship which is an invaluable contribution to academic library Contemporary Social Issues, Political Science, and Black Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World
Robert Neuwirth
270 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10016
0415933196 $27.95 1-800-634-7064

Investigative reporter Rober Neuwirth personally spent two years living in squatter neighborhoods on four continents, and from that experience presents Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World an engrossing documentary concerning shantytowns and those who live within them - estimated to be a billion individuals, and projected to grow to two billion. Though shantytowns are feared as centers of decay and lawlessness, Neuwirth discovered thriving and vital communities striving to build liveable quarters in an era when private developers charge far more than individuals can afford. One squatter home in Rio de Janeiro is a three-room apartment with tile floors, a full bathroom, an eat-in kitchen, electricity, running water, and a balcony with a view of the ocean. Though Shadow Cities understands that the reality of squatters may be gritty, it reveals hope in the character of those who live humbly, and reveals that squatters will build vibrant neighborhoods without private titles as long as they know they are not subject to eviction. A probing and highly recommended scrutiny of all dimensions of a critical worldwide phenomenon.

Learning and Knowledge for the Network Society
David V. Gibson, Manuel V. Heitor, and Alejandro Ibarra-Yunez, editors
Purdue University Press
1207 South Campus Courts, Bldg. E, West Lafayette, IN 47907
1557533563 $69.95 1-800-933-9637

Learning and Knowledge for the Network Society is an anthology of essays by a wide variety of learned authors from academic, business, and government sectors across the globe, concerning crucial contemporary issues of science and technology and their use to foster economic development, at home as well as abroad. Chapters discuss the nuts and bolds of building a "learning economy", how to network for regional economic development, issues of language and policies to help transcent the language barrier, and much more. Charts, graphs, and bibliographies supplement these valuable and cutting-edge assessments of problems be wary of and solutions to be implemented worldwide.

Governing by Network
Stephen Goldsmith and William D. Eggers
Brookings Institution Press
1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20036-2188
0815731280 $44.95 1-800-275-1447

Written by former politician Stephen Goldsmith and global director of Deloitte Research, Public Sector William D. Eggers, Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector exposes a largely hidden but nonetheless monumental transformation in the manner that public services are delivered and local and national governments fulfill their policy goals. Dubbed "governing by network", it presents great challenges to those in charge: skill-set issues (managing a contract to capture value); technology issues (keeping information systems compatible with one another); communications issues; cultural issues (including differences between public, private and nonprofit sector cultures) and much more. Governing by Network clearly outlines what works in a networked state and what is a recipe for failure, using case studies as well as firmly established practices. Chapters focus on achieving the goals of efficiency and effectiveness in the constantly changing and increasingly technological 21st century. Governing by Network is especially recommended for political leaders, political science teachers, political science students, and school library collections for its invaluable contribution to observing dramatic shifts in leadership and day-to-day practice requirements.

Able Greenspan

Harwood's Bookshelf

Humanism: An Introduction
Jim Herrick
ISBN 1591022398, $20.00 120 pp.

Humanism: An Introduction makes some valid points. For example:

"It is worth noting that the account of a miracle often involves personal interpretation. The one person who is not killed in a motorway pile-up attributes his or her salvation to a miracle; but the dozen or so dead are merely the detritus of the workings of nature." (p. 19)

"Humanists do not on the whole take the extreme view that Jesus did not exist, but they see him as a fallible human. Some might see him as misguided in his political activity; others might admire his revolutionary activity and ethical teaching, although his ethics are inconsistent you can only produce a consistent picture of Jesus' teachings by selective quotation." (p. 33)

"It should be noted that many theologians and clergy today are fully aware of the highly skeptical approach to the Bible but they do not pass on their doubts to their congregations." (p. 34)

It also makes some less valid points:

"In the post-communist Russian regime religions are thriving, demonstrating perhaps that ignoring religion is much more successful than persecution in bringing about its decline. Now in Russia the larger religions such as the Orthodox Church are trying to ban the newer ones such as Jehovah's Witness or Mormons an example of how religions often do not love one another." (p. 29)

That Russia's attempt to suppress religion was a disastrous failure is not in dispute. But the suggestion that ignoring it would have worked better is absurd. Russia wasted the perfect opportunity to free its citizens of religion. Instead of compelling all school children to study the Bible as critically as they would study a will signed by "Howard Hughes," and identifying the mass of evidence that it is a work of fiction, it actually campaigned to keep such material out of believers' hands, perhaps in recognition that if competent documentary analysis became widespread, it might be applied to Das Kapital.

As for the Orthodox Church's attempts to ban newer religions, Herrick ignores the obvious point that the Jehovah's Witness and Mormon religions can be totally falsified without the necessity of falsifying Christianity just as Protestantism can be falsified without falsifying Catholicism, and Christianity and Islam can be falsified without falsifying Judaism. Falsifying Judaism, in contrast, automatically falsifies all religions that start from the assumption that the Torah is nonfiction.

For some reason, Herrick adheres to practices and beliefs most modern writers have abandoned. He continues to use the offensively Christian dating system, AD/BC, when even liberal Christians are now using the scientifically neutral CE/BCE. He states that the existence of a god or gods cannot be disproven, apparently unaware that the existence of the god of religion (as opposed to an undefined god) has indeed been disproven. And he uses the word atheist in situations where nontheist would be more appropriate, apparently unaware that to the brainwashed masses the former term has itself acquired connotations of a belief system, while the latter, as yet, has not.

Humanism: An Introduction will cure not a single believer, since it makes no attempt to show that religion stands or falls on the veracity of religious writings that endorse a flat earth, among other demonstrable falsehoods. It adds nothing to the Humanist Manifesto. In the bluntest terms, it can be viewed as either a good undergraduate essay or a mediocre Master's thesis.

Michelle Remembers
Lawrence Prader and Michelle Smith
St Martin's Press
175 5th Avenue, NY 10010
ISBN 031292531X, $3.50

J. Edgar Hoover's thought police have a vested interest in convincing the public that there are crimes they alone can solve. Yet the FBI has publicly acknowledged that satanic cults and ritual abuse are fantasies concocted by evangelicals and fundamentalists. The author of this book informed journalist Bruce Grearson that he considers the question of whether Michelle's claims are "technically correct" immaterial nit-picking. (Manufacturing Victims 2001, page 196) Michelle Remembers is a close clone of Little Red Riding Hood, but less entertaining.

The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin With a Mythical Christ?
Earl Doherty
Canadian Humanist Publications
P O Box 3769, Stn C, Ottawa ON, K1Y 4J8, Canada
ISBN 0968601405, $14.50 390 pp.

No competent biblical historian believes that the virgin-born god Jesus who emulated fifty other savior gods by rising from the dead on the third day ever existed. Anyone who thinks otherwise started from predetermined conclusions and distorted the evidence to make it fit. That is not scholarship.

On the question of whether myths that were already 3000 years old were posthumously grafted onto the biography of an anti-Roman rebel so insignificant that contemporary historians did not deem him important enough to mention, scholars are evenly divided. My book, Mythology's Last Gods, takes the position that Jesus was indeed a person from history. So do Michael Arnheim and Martin Larson. Robert Price and G A Wells do not, and Earl Doherty does not

The main argument for Jesus' nonexistence is the absence of his name from non-Christian writings. Extant passages in Josephus are, as Doherty correctly observes, Christian interpolations. But Josephus's Halosis, quoted by Robert Eisler, described Jesus as, "a man of simple appearance, mature age, small stature, three cubits high [4 ft 6 in], hunchbacked, with a long face, long nose, and meeting eyebrows, so that they who see him might be affrighted, with scanty hair ... with a parting in the middle of his head, after the manner of the Nazirites, and with an undeveloped beard."

While it is possible that the Josephus passage is a forgery, it is a matter of record that the earliest generations of Christian apologists accepted its accuracy.

That description of an ugly Jesus is one of the proofs that such a man existed. Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria and Andrew of Crete would not have accepted such a description without dispute if their Khristos had been a literary invention whom they could have repainted in any image they wished. Further evidence lies in the first gospel's acknowledgement that Jesus' family saved him from a lynching by arguing that "He's gone mad," (Mark 3:21) and Luke's acknowledgement that Jesus' first remark to a synagogue audience was, "You're sure to recite this proverb to me: Doctor, heal yourself." (Luke 4:23) Why would Jesus have said such a thing, if he was not as malformed as Josephus described? The gospel authors were attempting to portray Jesus as their ultimate hero, and assuredly would not have included such negative anecdotes if they were not stuck with the reality that they actually happened.

In contrast, Robert Price wrote that, "The gospel story of Jesus matches the pattern of the Mythic Hero Archetype in every detail, with nothing left over." Doherty agrees with that. I do not.

Doherty presents a logical, coherent argument for a purely mythical hero, that I am not prepared to state categorically is wrong. As a historian, I am more impressed by the negative anecdotes that no creator of a totally heroic mythical Jesus would ever have invented. Doherty likewise gives paramountcy to negative evidence, meaning the absence of any mention of Jesus by writers who logically should have mentioned him if he existed. I can only suggest that the reader reach his own conclusion after reading both my book and Doherty's.

Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People
Dr. Tana Dineen
Robert Davies Multimedia Publishing
9 Parkside Place, Montreal, QC, H3H 1A7, Canada
ISBN 1552070328, $12.99 320 pp.

"Psychology presents itself as a concerned and caring profession working for the good of its clients. But behind the benevolent fa‡ade is a voracious, self-serving industry that proffers 'facts' which are often unfounded, provides 'therapy' which can be damaging, and exerts influence, which is having devastating effects on the social fabric. The foundation of psychology, its critical thinking, if not an illusion from its inception, had by the end of the 20th century been abandoned in favor of power and profit, leaving only the guise of integrity, a show of arrogance and a well-tuned attention to the bottom line." (p. 15) The only incomprehensible element of Dineen's totally accurate observation of the snake oil industry of psychology is that, forty years after Thomas Szasz gave the world the same information, it needs to be restated at all. The first photographs of the Martian surface destroyed the "canals" myth. Why did the first exposure of psychology as a fraud not destroy the psychoquackery industry? In the words of Cassius, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves."

Humankind as a species is unteachable. As long ago as the year dot, philosophers proved, in writings widely circulated among the educated, that in a world produced and directed by omnipotent, omnibenevolent gods, evil could not exist. Two thousand years later, in a world observably infested with evil, as many as half of this planet's six billion denizens continue to believe that they are the beloved, domesticated livestock of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent god.

More than 150 years ago, historians proved that all claims of a god revealing its existence can be traced to a Bible that simultaneously claims that the earth is flat. Yet a billion Christians continue to believe that a flat-earth fantasy novel containing over 19,000 demonstrable false statements is nonfiction. Certainly the existence of professional pushers whose bread and butter depends on perpetuating the Big Lie that religion cannot be disproven is a significant factor in the survival of superstition. But human imperviousness to evidence is a more significant factor.

Decades ago the pretence that humanoid aliens have visited earth was definitively falsified. Yet conspiracy freaks continue to insist that governments are covering up an alien space ship (actually a spy balloon) crashing at Roswell.

Decades ago Thomas Szasz published the definitive exposure of psychology as pseudoscience and psychiatry as pseudomedicine. Since then Robert Baker and others have published confirmations of Szasz's conclusions. They pointed out that, in every court case in which a psychiatrist gave ostensibly expert testimony, the other side called its own psychiatrist to contradict the first psychiatrist's supposedly expert opinion. And it is an observable fact that psychology, unlike any legitimate science, is a cult in which two dissertations so incompatible that for either one to be valid the other must be incompetent nonsense can both be awarded Ph.D.s by the same department of the same university in the same year.

Now Tana Dineen has added testimony from her forty years as a practising psychologist to the revelations of Szasz and Baker. And eight years after the publication of the first edition of Dineen's book, the psychology hoax is as widespread and dangerous as it was when Sigmund Freud first invented the masturbation fantasy of psychoanalysis. Is "unteachable" a sufficient explanation? Or are believers in playacting and self-delusion better described as insane, even though Szasz showed that insanity as a medical condition does not exist?

Psychiatrists have the highest suicide rate for any profession, with the probable exception of priests, for whom such statistics are suppressed. There is a good reason for this. For those psychoquacks with even a modicum of rationality, the day eventually comes that they realize they have spent their entire lives practising contentless humbuggery. Since they have long forgotten everything they ever learned about genuine medicine, and therefore cannot switch to a different specialty, they are forced to choose between killing themselves and staying on as conscious hypocrites. No doubt a large number do choose the hypocrite route, or the suicide rate would be even higher.

Dineen readily recognizes the worst scams of psychotherapy for what they are. She is fully aware that the recovered memory hoax, unquestionably the most repulsive of all of the psychoquackery industry's crimes against humanity, was invented for the sole purpose of enriching its creators and enabling them to exercise absolute power over persons who are indeed victims not of imaginary abusers but of the self-styled therapists. Yet she writes of a patient who asked to be hypnotized, "Hypnotizing him seemed both unsafe and inappropriate." (p. 25) Newsflash! Hypnotism does not exist. All allegedly hypnotic phenomena has been playacting, delusion, fantasizing, or what a car rental agency calls "trying harder."

Dineen observes that, "One would assume, considering the use of psychological services by millions each year, that indisputable evidence exists proving the effectiveness of psychotherapy. But most of the information about therapy's usefulness comes from those who buy and sell the services rather than from scientific research . Why would psychologists distort the truth, accentuating the positive and minimizing negative results? Of the many reasons, two stand out: looking honestly at what they are doing might interfere with their practice and their income, and might create doubts about their effectiveness, self-worth and chosen career." (pp. 112-113) In other words, psychotherapy, like prayer, is rated as effective by persons addicted to the practice, even though every objective evaluation of observable results says otherwise. "But the Psychology Industry proceeds undaunted, measuring its success not by research findings but by satisfied customers . Nowhere does he acknowledge the already plentiful research that fails to support psychotherapy's effectiveness." (pp 149-150)

Dineen further recognizes that, "However, naming or diagnosing 'diseases' in the pseudomedical field of the Psychology Industry in mostly fictional in nature . For instance, the Psychology Industry may pejoratively describe the construction worker who whistles at a passing woman as harassing and assaultive, while being more forgiving of such behaviors as consuming alcohol, using heroin or overeating, calling these 'addictive diseases.'" (pp. 84-85) In other words, observable realities diagnosed by psychoquacks as medical problems are really behavioral problems. Is that so hard for the ignorant masses to comprehend, that it has to be repeated over and over and still does not get through?

Although Dineen does not suggest that psychiatrists who perpetuate the most nonsensical fantasies are not sparking on all neurons, she does cite cases that raise precisely such a suspicion. A Harvard psychiatrist wrote a book authenticating alien abductions, based on his fatuous conviction that he could not be deceived by lies, and anyone who spun him an abduction tale with a straight face must be telling the truth.. And a psychiatrist whose book authenticated satanic ritual abuse (which even the FBI acknowledges does not exist) informed a correspondent "that it didn't really matter 'whether or not they were technically true, that was immaterial;' he didn't want to 'nit-pick about facts.'" (pp. 195-196)

Psychotherapy's bottom line depends on its success at manufacturing victims. Just as pushers whose bread and butter is extorted from prayer addicts perpetuate the Big Lie that the entire human race needs their services, so do psychoquacks promote the Big Lie that the entire population are victims who need "therapy." Not only are the relatives and friends of persons killed in the assault on the World Trade Center "traumatized victims;" so is every person who encountered the atrocity by watching television or reading a newspaper.

A Denver newspaper journalist quoted on the cover of Manufacturing Victims describes Tana Dineen as "arguably the planet's preeminent psychotherapy critic." Presumably the journalist has never heard of Szasz or Baker. Or perhaps what gives Dineen preeminence in some people's minds is that she denounces psychotherapy's excesses and self-serving practices while continuing to treat psychology per se as a legitimate science. Newsflash! Psychology is not a legitimate science. If persons who listen to compulsive talkers, nod sympathetically, and occasionally venture a comment designed to prove that they have been listening, are therapists, then bartenders, taxi drivers and call girls are therapists. The discipline that invented the hoaxes of multiple personality, past-life therapy, recovered memory, hypnotism, and dream interpretation, and reclassified behavioral indiscipline as "attention deficit disorder," is an incompetent, fraudulent, self-serving scam motivated solely by lust for power, and a desire to enlarge one's bank account by deluding every human being on this planet that he is a victim of a nonexistent pathological "condition." Frenchman J. Messelier in 1733 wrote, "I should like to see the last king strangled with the guts of the last priest." So would I. I would also like to see the last "profiler" strangled with the guts of the last psychotherapist.

William Harwood

Isobel's Bookshelf

Irish Magic
Anita Whiting
Whiskey Creek Press
P.O. Box 726, Lusk, Wyoming 82225 307-334-3165
ISBN 1593740956 $15.95 (available electronically at $3.99)

With visions of a plane falling out of the sky, you meet Abby, a sweet, interesting Irish-American, who has chilling dreams that tend to come true. In a few chapters you get a feel for this feisty, clairvoyant woman, enjoy her quick wit and learn of her tendency to dream of bloody scenes. In no time, the novel's strong start shifts from Abby's gruesome nightmares and charming but mystical Irish ancestry to the building of a modern, go it alone character, who has yet to fall deeply in love and who doesn't seem to care. Not until we read a hilarious scene do we learn that Abby is pretty fair at karate and very able to take care of herself. After landing a guy on his overbearing, male chauvinist ass, Irish Magic turns into a romance because, from his awkward position, a position most men would find humiliating, Jake, the handsome friend of a friend, is done for. Never worrying about his ego, poor Jake is captivated and so, it turns out, is Abby.

The relationship between Jake, the detective and Abby, the author, pretty much dominates the next hundred pages. The characters are likable and their pairing is written so well that readers can practically see the twinkle in their eye, feel the chemistry in the air and appreciate their sparing. But, what was fun at first turned boring. Abby's trip from feisty combatant to starry-eyed lover was way too simple for me. That would have been alright had it not been for reading the same words and actions over and over and over again. For too much of the story, the nightmares, the Irish ancestry, the witchcraft or whatever you want to call it, takes a back seat to too many predictable head on the chest scenes of rising passion and everlasting declarations of love.

Maybe I'm just jealous, after all, Jake will never need anything like Viagra and never finds it difficult to express his love, but I need more complexity and found myself losing patience with the predictability of it all. When mystery finally moved forward, I felt as if I already knew who'd done it. Oh, I was hoping that I was wrong, that no author would give it away so early, so I waited for the tension to build, thinking it would and that I had been cleverly fooled. That didn't happen. All that was left was for me to pay attention to details and their inconsistencies.

For example, if readers are to accept that Abby is a clairvoyant with magical powers, shouldn't she have those powers throughout the story? And, if she can foresee how and when a relative stranger is about to face danger and be able to avert it, why not do the same when a lover is threatened? Also, if readers are to believe that Jake is the bright detective we are told he is, shouldn't an attempt to lure him into harms way require sophistication if it is to be successful? As for the killer and his motivation, the author lost her opportunity for suspense by limiting her characters. Then she weakened her story by not sticking to one reason for the killer's killing, one pattern and one type of victim. Still, Anita Whiting has created likable, charming characters and as Irish Magic stands now, it is a simple story and an easy read.

Port of Fear
Sherry Derr-Wille
Whiskey Creek Press
P.O. Box 726, Lusk, Wyoming 82225
ISBN: 1593740301 $12.95

Twenty pages into Port of Fear by Sherry Derr-Wille, I felt that the two main characters needed more of an introduction before Hugh, the ex-cop from Atlanta and Dani, the Minneapolis travel agent, meet in Florida. Still, I enjoyed being thrust into the story of a young woman running from her fiancee - a serial killing scam artist.

Dani is not the typical Grade B damsel in distress and some aspects of her bio required a good deal of suspended disbelief - like her dropping the news that she was a virgin (at the age 29) before she met her fiancee - but I accepted the fantasy and settled back to enjoy the light reading Port of Fear promised. At times I wished that the goodness of many of the characters were plausible. I especially would have liked it if there were more Hughs to go around. Atlas, there was only one - and he was on paper - but it would be great meeting a caring, sexy guy who could (and would) solve life's problems as easily as Hugh did Dani's.

Port of Fear accomplished a multiple feat. It created a sexy romance while attempting to create a thriller. From the start, Hugh, the hero of Port of Fear, assumes personal risk beyond what most people would think reasonable. He does it simply because his heat is rising, and that doesn't have anything to do with his living in the Florida heat, either. Coincidently, Hugh already knows the bad guy. His knowledge came from another time and place. Still, like Hugh, I assumed that it will be awhile before the bad guy makes an appearance and becomes physical threat in this story.

Here in lies the weakness of Port of Fear. There is no suspense. It didn't take any time at all for the bad guy to get there and get right into his awful ways. As a reader, I sat back, as the day old Hugh-Dani relationship grew, thinking that the evil guy in this story would be incapable of a quick appearance, and wondering how, once his first plan was accidentally thwarted, he would develop a second. After all, the bad guy was in Milwaukee expecting his fiancee, Dani, to be waiting for him in Minneapolis. I read thinking that a transition would develop and the evil recalculations of the bad guy explored. They weren't. Suddenly the shit hit the fan and when it did, the characters did, said and thought in ways I found unbelievable.

Still, Port of Fear made for enjoyable reading. The dialogue moved me along effortlessly. Sure, I felt that the explanations, descriptions and segues fell short but Port of Fear read like a TV serial - quick, light, and easy. As a thriller, it needed a more suspense. Still, I was able to sit sat back and enjoy it. You will too.

A Fresh Air Cure
Barb Jensen
1st Books
ISBN: 1414072465; $16.00 (electronic $4.95) 328 pages

This easy to read romance explores another time and place and family crisis that is neither as familiar nor as threatening as it was a hundred years ago. For that I was happy. I prefer escaping into another world while I read, and this story did that for me.

Martha, the heroine, is the essence of the sweet, guileless, dependent matriarch that was typical in the early 1900's society. Almost as soon as the story begins, Martha is diagnosed with tuberculosis and forced to leave her husband and children to go off on her own to seek a cure. Desperately sad, she is at least comfortable with the fact that her sister, Susan, will be there to run her house and take care of her husband and children.

From the start, there is something unacceptable about Martha's husband. His reaction to Martha's crisis made me very uncomfortable. It didn't take too much more reading to realize that Barb Jensen truly created Dickens like characters for this story. There were either the very, very good - Martha, Chet and Connie - or the very, very bad. Rest assured that while reading this, you will emote. You will feel Martha's frustration, sadness, and impatience. You will learn how undependable the CURE was. You will learn more about TB, a killer of many during the early 1900's (my grandfather among them) and you will get a sense of life when good people can make lemonade out of lemons.

Isobel Kleinman, Reviewer

Judine's Bookshelf

Realizing the Power of Love: How a Father and Teenage Daughter Became Best Friends...and How You Can Too!
V. Michael Santoro and Jennifer S. Santoro
Publish America
ISBN: 1413715109; $19.95; 196 pp.

Description: Recognizing communication misunderstandings

There's a special relationship between every parent and child. In the beginning, it's the family bond, which causes the parents to love unconditionally and the for the children to obey. That's works well when the family is young. Then the children grow to become independent thinkers. The teenage years can blend smoothly or completely break the harmony of the family, depending on the loving tone set from infancy to adolescence.

"Realizing the Power of Love" explains how good communication between a father and daughter helped to improve the parent-child relationship. In the early years, Dad Santoro's job kept him away from his family for long periods of time. This could have been a ripe opportunity to burn the bridge of trust with daughter Jennifer. But Dad Santoro developed habits of recognizing the non-verbal clues, traits and character of his daughter Jennifer. Most of the chapters in the book outline his best practices to how he improved his character to set a good example daughter Jennifer. "No matter how great a communicator you are, there will be times when your daughter will catch you off guard with a topic that makes you angry. When this happens, it is imperative that you think before your react, which is usually easier said than done." (pg 65)

But he was successful. Daughter Jennifer explains how she spoke to Dad Santoro with respect, even when upset. Controlling her response by writing down what she really wanted to say, helped bring an awareness of how words can hurt. She knows it takes two to make a great relationship work correctly. "Being best friends with your father is a team effort and just like any other relationship, it takes effort to make it work." (pg 155) As a bonus, communication building exercises get the reader involved by showing the reader how to apply what the authors have learned.

V. Michael Santoro and Jennifer Santoro do a fantastic job by working together to assist other families build better relationships. It's great to hear from both generations about developing a true friendship. Although he started early on the relationship with his daughter, it's never too late to begin applying the techniques of good communication with your child. I recommend "Realizing the Power of Love" for all parents and children, no matter which gender.

By Chance or Choice
Toni Staton Harris
Epiphany Publishing House LLC
One Gateway Center, A-193, Newark, NJ 07102
ISBN: 0971069506, $14.95, 364 pp.

Description: Not by accident

Life experience is by cause and effect, action then reaction, or biblically known as reaping what you sow. The fundamental principal lies in your driving skills while steering on unpredictable roads. When do you arrive at a destination by accident? Never.

"By Chance or Choice" follows the paths of three main characters, Talise, Gemmia and Stephanie. We watch as their daily lives entertwine as a marketing exec, a professional singer, and a phychologist, respectively. In the beginning, there appears to be minor events, but nothing immediately drastic. With the assistance of boyfriends, other peers and family members, the adventures curve through steep inclines and hilly terrains. All three ladies begin to face the consequences of their driving skills. "Choice always comes with a price." (pg 211)

Toni Staton Harris holds the wheel as a very good storyteller. She coasts along by describing the lives of each character, so the reader knows them as friends. Then the action begins, and you can't put the book down until you arrive at a complete stop. I recommend "By Chance or Choice" to all young women, 18 years and older, as a fantastic example of driving while under the influence of love and the desire for success.

Chance Meeting
Esther Christian
Pond Casse Press
4711 Cashill Court, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
ISBN 0974934909; $13.95, 224 pp.

Description: The storm is worth the rainbow

There are many kinds of weather storms, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or simply dark skies with pouring rain. First it starts with a little drizzle, then you run for shelter and wait until the "coast is clear." Once the clouds have finished squeezing out the last drop, the skies become blue and sometimes you might see a rainbow. The heavens play like a grown child and silently exclaim, "Oh did I do that!" I suppose human imitation of this behavior is the sincerest form of flattery to God.

In "Chance Meeting" Sandy goes through a tsunami, some of which she caused, but Damon and his family helped to increase the windsheild and everyone jumped to hide. The storm started brewing when Sandy finds Tom, her finance, trying on his birthday suit with Evelyn, their wedding planner. So Sandy cancels holy matrimony, runs for cover to Savannah Lakes, and bumps into Damon, a who she thought was a poor-guitar-drifter turned out to be a rich-doctor-playa. The skies were so clear that she forgot to check the adverse effects of antibotics on her birth control pills, and he didn't bring his condoms.

The connection with Sandy was something Damon had never experienced, so he cancelled his wedding plans to his high school sweetheart. But one month later, a little embryo caused lightning to flash. Accusations of he said, she said, and his mother said caused Sandy and Damon to put on golashes with holes in the sole while the rains poured down. He had to find out the truth about a family secret, and she found out her socks were wet well before Damon. Both of them try to battle the storm alone, but soon realize they need to share the golf umbrella. The rain really helped to clean the air, and there was a double rainbow at the end!

I loved the familiar scenes Esther Christian uses in the book. The story revolves around Haines Point, Zanzibar, Mitchellville and Bethesda, MD. Esther writes about well educated characters, who act just like ordinary folks with their down-to-earth conversations. There are familiar reality scenes with not answering the telephone to chit chatting with girlfriends over lunch. I recommend "Chance Meeting" for anyone who likes a fun romp in the rain and read about the rainbows after heavy rainstorm.

Judine Slaughter, Reviewer

Lori's Bookshelf

Coaching the Artist Within : Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America's Foremost Creativity Coach
Eric Maisel
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA, 94949
1577314646 $14.95 256 pp.

I've read almost a dozen books by Eric Maisel about writing, the arts, and the psychology of creativity, and though it seems impossible, each new book is better than the last. Maisel's latest, COACHING THE ARTIST WITHIN, is no exception. Drawing on his experience as a psychotherapist, author, and creativity coach, Maisel has developed a book that creative people from all realms can use.

From the first examples in the Introduction through the twelve chapters of advice and information, anyone practicing an art will find solid help and inspiration. Chapters on self-coaching, creating while in the middle of things, dealing with anxiety, achieving balance and centeredness, and maintaining a creative life are particularly excellent. Maisel also provides the reader with 22 exercises, all of which provide food for thought and could easily jumpstart authors or artists who are blocked or at a crossroads with their work.

Inspiring, challenging, and entertaining, the book is compulsively easy to read and jam-packed full of the kind of teaching and coaching that every creative person needs. I can't recommend it highly enough. Maisel includes an Appendix for anyone interested in becoming a Creativity Coach. At the end he also lists a Resource section of all of his own writings that support the teachings within this book. Taken all together, this volume is a wonderful addition to the library of anyone interested in furthering their creativity.

Imperfect Past
Jessica Casvant
Yellow Rose Books
ISBN: 1932300341 $16.95 212 pp.

Homicide detective Jamie Saunders is a mess. The vicious murder of an eight-year-old girl has nearly pushed her over the edge into hopelessness. Other people might not notice it from the outside, but it's clear to Jamie that she is coming a little more unglued every day. The death of this small child reverberates through her life, and the shock waves keep on coming when Jamie learns of another murder, this time of someone she knows personally and with whom she has bad history. To make matters worse, apparently the killing has been done by a person Jamie knows and never would have suspected, but she can't figure out why. Under stress and in no small amount of panic, Jamie withholds information from her friend and work partner, Alex, and attempts to solve the murder cases on her own.

And who can she turn to? Not to her ex. Not to family. Jamie feels utterly alone and on the edge, but Darcy, her long-time buddy who owns the local lesbian bar, is there for her. The past comes back to haunt Jamie, though, and she is unable to tell where friendship ends with Darcy and something else begins. Her work life is a wreck, her relationships are compromised, and her self esteem is zero. Will she ruin the one good friendship she has and lose her job as well? It's clear that Jamie must reconcile her past and present, or her future will be bleak, but she is not able to envision what that looks like. The bumpy journey she takes makes for an engrossing read.

This is the third installment in the "Boston Friends" series (TWIST OF FATE, WALKING WOUNDED), which follows the work lives and relationships of a group of Boston women whose lives often cross paths. The beauty of this series is that the books are so loosely connected that you can read them in any order. Grab any one of them and settle in for a gripping and entertaining session.

Nick of Time
Scott & Scott
Booksurge, LLC
ISBN: 1594574251 $12.99 193 pp.

Brent, a former ballet dancer from New York City, is in town to attend his sister's wedding. Rural Holmstead County is a far cry from the "clubs, coffee houses, book stores, chic little storefronts crammed with modern design" (p.1), but it's where Brent grew up. And it's where he happens upon Nick.

Nick is a handsome, extremely well-built stonemason engaged to marry an Irish immigrant. She seeks citizenship, not love. He's not interested in a relationship anyway. After being badly burned in his last relationships with a man named Alex, Nick "buried his dream of finding an equal. A partner. He became disciplined. Trained his body. Trained his mind. He declared he would never fall in love" (p. 11). He's become practical and rather jaded.

But of course, upon meeting one another, sparks fly even if Nick is repulsed by Brent at first and won't admit it the attraction. He doesn't see Brent as someone worthy of a relationship and figures him for the "wham-bam-thank-you-man" type. And besides, Nick is getting married!

What follows is a classic romance fraught with perils and pitfalls and the angst and reluctance of a man with a broken heart. Will these two men manage to see beyond the opposites that they present to one another and find love? The tension runs high, the love scenes are hot, and the story is refreshing within this age-old genre. NICK OF TIME is a fun and entertaining read.

Erik & Isabelle: Freshman Year at Foresthill High
Kim Wallace
Foglight Press
ISBN: 0975584804 $12.95 235 pp.

Isabelle and Erik, teenage friends in their first year of high school, are the heroes of this Young Adult novel. Isabelle comes from a family of former hippies who are Peace Corps volunteering, eccentric geniuses. Free spirits and emotionally open, Isabelle's household is warm and inviting, and they are not concerned that she has professed a liking for girls.

Erik's household and life are very opposite from Isabelle's. His father and brother are both Marines, and his household runs with military precision, including their meals being called "rations" and their beds made only with hospital corners. "Erik tried to conform by studying his father and brother's actions and language, but he never seemed to be able to mimic convincingly what came naturally to them. There was a softness in his demeanor that couldn't be ordered out .The gentleness in his hazel eyes refused to be hardened. His father saw and despised this softness" (p. 9). That "softness" is disguised as much as possible by Erik because he is gay.

This book follows the trials and tribulations of these two young people in their first year of high school. The author has planned four books, one for each year of school, to show the ups and down Erik and Isabelle go through. The writing is clear, to the point, and accessible to teens while not being overly simplistic for the adult reader. Kim Wallace has written a realistic and hopeful book that will be enjoyable for anyone, gay or straight.

Lori L. Lake, Reviewer

Margaret's Bookshelf

Pink Panther Cocktail Party
Adam Rocke
Surrey Books
230 East Ohio Street, Suite 120, Chicago, IL 60611
1572840722 $16.95

Adam Rocke celebrates the more than 40 years of Pink Panther popularity with this new anniversary edition of the Pink Panther Cocktail Party, a collection of 85 "pink-a-licious" mixed drinks that will liven up any and all festive occasions. Enhanced with the Pink Panther illustrations of San Diego-based artist Shag, this compendium of happy time beverages includes a sampler CD with music from the "Pink Panther's Penthouse Party " featuring Mailbu, St. Germain, Fat Boy Slim, and others. After an informative introduction, readers will learn how to set up a "Pink" bar complete with basic instructions and a glossary of terms. The rest of this unique drink book is devoted to wonderful liquid refreshments ranging from a Pink Panther Cooler, to a Pink Cream Fizz, to a Harvey Wallbanger, to an Electric Pink Banana, and so many more. If you are a fan of Pink Panther movies or parties, then get yourself a copy of Pink Panther Cocktail Party!!

The Sensational Skillet Cookbook
Wendy Louise
Champion Press
4308 Blueberry Road, Fredonia, WI 53021
1891400258 $16.00 1-877-250-3354

In The Sensational Skillet Cookbook: Create Spectacular Meals With Your Electric Skillet, cooking expert and author Wendy Louise draws upon her lifelong interest in cooking to create a follow-up cookbook to her highly recommended debut effort Complete Crockery Cookbook: Crate Spectacular Meals With Your Slow Cooker. This latest compendium of mouth-watering, kitchen cook friendly, mealtime delights have has being prepared with an electric skillet as their unifying focus. The more than 180 recipes range from traditional to innovative. From Ham and Broccoli Roll Ups with Mustard Sauce; Beef Sandwiches a la Stroganoff; Lamb with Snow Peas; and Sauteed Olives in Wine; to Cauliflower Escabeeche; Fried Green Tomatoes; Crepes a la Jubilee; and Peach Melba, The Sensational Skillet Cookbook fully lives up to its title! If you have an electric skillet and a hungry family, then The Sensational Skillet Cookbook will make a welcome and appreciated addition to your kitchen cookbook collection!

Anointed To Cook
Penny Tootle
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
1933148152 $19.95 1-888-361-9473

A wife and mother of two active boys, Penny Tootle of Las Vagas, Nevada is active in various ministries including her local church. She is the co-founder of Impact Ministries which serves the needs of others throughout her community. It was in living a such a busy, active life that she got the inspiration to compile a book of recipes particularly well suited to family oriented, time-stressed kitchen cooks in need of a fool-proof planning method for meal preparation. The result is Anointed To Cook: Recipes That Bring The Family Together. Beginning with an informative chapter on how to get started, there are chapters devoted to recipes for Entrees (chick, turkey, beef, pork, seafood); Side Dishes (starches, vegetables); Breads; and Desserts (cakes, pies, cobblers, cookies, brownies). Of special note are the chapters devoted to practical tips and helpful tools. From Turkey Salad; Sweet Beef Sticks; and Lemon Baked Cod Fish; to Fast and Easy Onions and Green Beans; Monkey Bread; and Pudding Surprise, Anointed to Cook will prove a welcome and appreciated addition to the cookbook shelves of busy couples and single parents everywhere.

The Wholesome Dog Biscuit
Patricia Leslie, M.S.
Regent Press
6020-A Adeline, Oakland, CA 94608
1587901048 $12.00

For human vegetarians wanting a healthy, meat-free, make-it-yourself, snack or treat for their canine companions there is now Patricia Leslie's The Wholesome Dog Biscuit cookbook in which this vegan and dog friendly author provides thirteen tasty, natural-ingredient recipes for vegan, sugar-free, allergy-free dog biscuits and treats ranging from Great Danish Cookies and Tail Waggers, to Veggie Crunchers and Langues de Chow. All the necessary preparation techniques are provided along with illustrative diagrams so that even the most novice of kitchen cooks will feel confidently in making these recipes. Enhanced with timely information of "Food, Health, and Dogs", the clear, concise text is embellished with original drawings of the real-life dog, and biographies of these mostly rescued dogs told with humor and offering food for thought as well. If you have a canine companion who has truly become a member of your family, then get yourself a copy of Patricia's wonderful cookbook with its no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no wheat, no corn recipes for doggy snack and reward time!

Berlitz Publishing
Lande Communications (publicity)
36-36 33rd Street, Long Island City, New York, 11106
1-800-432-6277 (fax) 1-718-784-0640

Berlitze Publishing is a highly respective producer of travel books and language instruction materials. They have now launched "Berlitz Baby Talk & Tunes", two new series of language oriented audio CD titles in English or Spanish. The ten-page "Baby Berlitz Talking Board Books" ($8.95 each) are laminated, chunky and round, the six-buttons are easy to press, and the books are light enough for baby to easily lift. The titles include Peek-a-Boo Family; Baby's Animal Friends; and Count On Me Baby! Employing original music, the "Baby Talk & Tunes" titles ($9.95 each) are 30-minute audio CD's designed to tach baby important basic concepts, promote both language skills and overall cognitive abilities -- all in a thoroughly entertaining and "parent friendly" format. The "Berlitz Baby Talk & Tunes" and the "Baby Berlitz Talking Board Books" are enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, daycare center, and community library collections for babies and toddlers.

Margaret Lane

Mayra's Bookshelf

Judy Lawn
Zumaya Publications
3209 S. IH 35 #1086, Austin TX 78741-6905 512-707-2694
ISBN: 1894942000 $14.00, 197 pages

Auckland, New Zealand's "City of Sails."

Vanessa, at the "fragile" age of 44, suddenly finds herself alone at home. Her kids, now grown, have gone off to study. Her husband has just moved out to live with his mistress.

Vanessa can't help laughing at her predicament. Free at last! Yet uncertainty and fear for what the future holds fills her soul.

Her children and neighbors aren't particularly helpful nor comforting. Stuck with a dead-end job and living a dull, gray life, she is terrified of ending up as most of the women her age: watching soap operas and gossiping. But not even all her self-help books and subscription to Cosmopolitan are helping.

Henry, her neighbour, is obviously interested, but who needs to jump into another relationship so soon, specially with a man who, though caring, leaves her cold?

Instinctively aware she needs a change, Vanessa makes some clumsy attempts like coloring her hair red, getting a new wardrobe, and looking for another job. She also decides to make a trip to Zidney, and thus meets Nigel young, irresistible Nigel who, in an instant, with his flashing black eyes and "lost boy" looks, sweeps her off her feet.

For a while it seems their romance will last forever. Then tragedy strikes, and Vanessa's dull gray life threatens to consume her once again. But is it a man what she truly needs, or is this just a "mask" for a much deeper void that lies within?

Nominated for an EPPIE 2005 award, Progressions is a story about sexual awakening and the sad, almost pitiful fatalism of women's roles in society, particularly of Vanessa's age group. The author has done an excellent job in portraying Vanessa as a vulnerable yet shallow human being who was obviously raised to believe that a woman is nothing without a man at her side, a woman incapable of enjoying solitude and without any intellectual restlessness of any kind. I highly recommend this book for group readings, as it raises some quite interesting and controversial questions about women's roles.

David Dibble
Asgard Publishing Company
21185 Tennyson Rd., Moreno Valley, CA 92557-8407
Phone: 951-276-2518
ISBN: 0974579017 $23.95 313 pages

Fiction Mystical intrigue, literary

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

In this intriguing, suspenseful, beautifully written, complex psychological tale, the author presents us with Daniel Graham, a talented young actor who finds himself in the strange, unusual predicament of having to save himself and escape from a darkness that, though he may not realize it, threatens to consume him.

While acting on stage in New York, Daniel suddenly experiences what every actor dreads most stage fright. But as we are clued in at the very beginning of the story, "phobias which develop in adulthood are related to a loss of control in other major facets of one's life," thus foreshadowing a story rich with psychological implications.

After one of the performances, a small, emaciated man approaches Daniel and offers him a major role in a film soon to be shot in Italy. The rest of the cast already has been selected. When Daniel asks to see the script, the man tells him it is being kept in secrecy by the director. Strange indeed. But the pay is good, and more than anything else at this point, Daniel feels like escaping his present situation. "I was so determined to get away that I did not really dwell on where I was going," Daniel thinks.

Warm, sunny, sensuous Italy. The set is on a hill overlooking the sea and next to the ruins of an ancient Roman villa. Soon Daniel meets the cast, and he finds himself instantly attracted to actress Deidre, who is to play his love in the film. He also learns some very odd facts about the script. Supposedly, it is based on a translation by a previously unknown comedy by Ephorus, and was found buried in a clay pot until a construction project uncovered it. Moreover, the director plans to film the whole movie without re-takes. In other words, all takes are a master. Why the film has to be shot in such an unconventional way, no one seems to understand.

At times Daniel experiences feelings of "separation" and confusion, as if he is somehow breaking the thin fabric between illusion and reality. These feelings appear to intensify when he meets Count Cagliostro, an enigmatic, mysterious man feared by the locals and accused of being the Devil himself, but who also happens to be the producer. Daniel has the recurrent feeling that Cagliostro is not what he claims to be.

Unexpected events and spooky coincidences threaten Daniel's state of mind. Soon after they start filming, the actor who was to play the major role, "disappears." Daniel finds a skull by the ruins of the villa. Cagliostro shows Daniel an old Roman coin engraved with a profile which uncannily resembles Daniel's. Is Cagliostro immortal? A psychic? A magician? An alchemist? Are all the weird, spooky incidents real or hallucinations? Is the place itself evil? Is it one of those "dark places where one feels dread, where without knowledge of the horrors that occurred, there is a sinister and claustrophobic air"?

As the film unfolds, so does Daniel's story, both overlapping one another in a bizarre way. Ultimately, Daniel must save Deidre, the woman he loves, from a cave. Highly symbolic, the cave represents the darkness that has threaten to consume Daniel all this time the darkness and enigma of his childhood and family, his inability to express love and make a commitment to a woman. In escaping from this cave, Daniel will escape from this darkness. Or will he?

From the fascinating first chapter to the deeply enigmatic ending, I was entranced with the eerie, dream-like quality that permeates the novel throughout. Paralleling the mystery of the plot is the mystery of Daniel himself, and the author has made this work superbly. The author never tells the reader anything about Daniel's past, his childhood, his family. There is only a brief mention, when he refers to his parents as "monsters." Daniel, in fact, is a riddle.

The elegance and grace of the narrative and dialogue completely absorbed me. The simple, yet beautiful rich descriptions strongly appeal to the senses: "The low sun illuminated the nearby hills, oblique light cutting into ravines. In the distance, on wine-dark sea, fishing boats headed back to port after a long day. The air was scented with wild oleander and jasmine, fresh with the tang of the salty sea breeze. Some kind of blackbird squabbled in the woods behind the trailers."

Another fascinating element of the story is all the bits of information about acting and the stage. The author has done an excellent job in using this acting "illusion vs. reality" or "double-life" as a metaphor for Daniel's psyche. A book difficult to forget, Enchanter comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

Mayra Calvani

Molly's Bookshelf

Purrlock Holmes And The Case of the Vanishing Valuables
Betty Sleep
PageFree Publishing, Inc.
109 S. Farmer St. Otsego, MI. 49078
ISBN: 1589613309 $8.50 92 pages

Fun Read ... Highly Recommended .. 5 stars

Birman Purrlock Holmes lives with the Robertsons. They are a typical family with Dad a computer 'geek', Mom working for the police department, and pre teen Steve and fifteen year old Rebecca going through much of the same growing up angst as all kids experience. And, oh yes, there is the dreaded hairball hacker, whomever that maybe as well as the family dog Watson the Basset. The tale opens on a day for what Purrlock reveals is a pretty characteristic day for the family. The kids are fighting, Dad is lost in the sports page, Mom is concerned about a rash of recent thefts and the dog just fell down stairs, again. So far the thefts are small: a silver lighter here, an old silver dollar there, a silver chain. The only suspect so far is Andrew. He is a new kid in town who has been working at odd jobs for the neighbors. Where ever Andrew has worked something seems to have disappeared.

Purrlock and Watson set out to try to discover what is really going on. Before long Purrlock sees a pattern. With the help of the neighborhood pets: a Schnauzer, a gold fish, parrot, ferret, potbelly pig, snooty cat and a rabbit it doesn't take Purrlock long to discover a sad little boy who is recovering from his parent's divorce. He also finds a pair of lost kittens and discovers exactly who, how and why the thefts have been taking place.

Writer Sleep, herself a cat breeder and lover of the Birman group, has penned a sure winner with her Purrlock Holmes: And The Case of the Vanishing Valuables. The tale told in the first person by Purrlock is filled with humor, tongue in cheek plays on words, enough clues to aid the target audience into making some assumptions about who the culprit might be along with enough red herrings to keep older readers on their toes and turning the pages.

Purrlock Holmes: And The Case of the Vanishing Valuables is a book cat lovers and even those who don't care so much for the creatures will enjoy. The escapades, near misses and scrapes Purrlock and Watson get themselves into as they try to unravel the mystery are sure to bring a chuckle to the young reader. This is an excellent book for that after lunch period quiet reading time as teacher teachers a chapter a day to youngster.

Excellent choice for the school, counselor and home library. Older kids will find the work perfect for an afternoon's reading, younger kids will enjoy the grown up chapter feel to the book. With humor and wisdom Purrlock Holmes: And The Case of the Vanishing Valuables touches on the desolation children often experience when divorce turns their world upside down, children who have experienced this sadness may see themselves in Andrew. The two lost kittens typify the attitude many folks have for their pets, when they become a 'burden' many pets find themselves discarded with little regard for the animal and its plight. Along with an enjoyable tale teachers and counselors will find opportunity for children to discuss divorce and responsibility for the creatures who share our space.

Enjoyed the tale, hope to see more from this writer. I too like cats and particularly enjoyed reading this story told from the perspective of a pretty quintessential cat.

Happy to recommend.

The Wells End Chronicles Book 2: Whispers of War
Robert Beers
Writers Exchange
PO Box 372 Atherton QLD 4883
Format: pdf, html, palm, rtf, Microsoft Reader and unencrypted mobipocket (prc)
File Size: 471K
ISBN: 1876962380 $3.00 (download) $9.95 (CD)

Interesting read . Recommended .. 4 stars

Over a thousand years have passed since Labad wrote his prophecy in blood. The promised ones: the last of the king's lineage are among us. Adam and Charity are well known through the legend. At the approach of a small dark figure; Drinaugh, a dragon, and a wolf pack stand in the center of town. McCabe is not just any small dark figure. Recently released from the darkness of the duke's dungeon there is more to the man than meets the eye. The power of a shaping is the only thing that will save Milward the wizard, Adam and the rest of the small group.

And the tale begins long after Labad died during the Magik Wars; Charity and Adam, unaware that the other is alive, the last of the house of Labad face the oncoming strife filling the land on opposite sides of the conflict. Wizard Milward who parted from Adam during an angry row does his best to guide the siblings as the wall between the worlds weakens. Adam has become the officer of the guard under Cpt Bilardi and joins the army of Grisham as they begin fighting the soldiers from the south, while Charity continues her search for Adam with Flynn and Neely. The trio join the Southern army, befriend Circumstance a half elf lad and march against the city of Grisham.

Watching from afar are the inhabitants of Dragonglade. Shealauch a young dragon has had a discouraging meeting with men resulting in his being pierced with arrows. This action by man is something the Dragons must consider carefully. Many of the dragons believe they must withdraw from man, others of their group believe a watch and see attitude is needed.

On the pages of The Wells End Chronicles Book 2: Whispers of War writer Beers weaves a multi-layered account within the fanciful backdrop of myriad tales and imaginative, extraordinary characters such as the hoary harridan living in the bog who detests humans and the antiquated dragons who watch mankind from afar. They and the innumerable others leaping from Beers fertile imagination add a manifest piquancy to the brew. Peopled with intriguing beings including a crone name Haberstroh, elves, dragons, wizards, sorcerers, a swordsman named Ethan, thieves, wolves, and evil spirits, a horse name Heartthrust, two dedicated armies, Thaylli, an old duke, a special potion, jumping the swords, McCabe and his treachery, a cat, wolves and help from dragons this is one book you won't want to put down.

The Wells End Chronicles Book 2: Whispers of War captures the spirit, dialog and character of fantasy settings known and loved by young and old alike. Ingenious author Robert Lee Beers has constructed a fascinating domain infused with both base and charitable, blameless and depraved, loveable and detestable characters the reader is sure to find engaging. Teeming with strife fittingly resolved in this masterfully engineered suspense filled narrative; The Wells End Chronicles Book 2: Whispers of War paints a razor sharp, focused account of destiny, cupidity and perseverance. Effect dialog, well-drawn scenarios and characters to love and hate the book is an enjoyable read.

Some parental guidance will be necessary for younger readers in the 12-15 age group: now and then language or topic may offend. On the whole the book is sure to be a welcome addition to the home library. Meant for pleasure reading, The Wells End Chronicles Book 2: Whispers of War target audience of young adults will find the book has all the ingredients they wish in a good fantasy work.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Nancy's Bookshelf

Mr. Crisper
T.M. Gray
HellBound Books
ISBN 0974244775 $7.99 332 pages

Devilishly delicious, just about sums up my feelings after reading Mr. Crisper. T.M. Gray has written another winner, and it's one you don't want to miss. From page one, this is a sordidly sinful ride that will make you cringe, laugh, and want to read again.

Pork rinds. Insert cringe. I admit that I've never had one, but they've always intrigued me. There's something enchantingly grotesque about them and because of that, I've never had the nerve to eat one. After reading this compulsive novel, I must say, there's no chance in hell I'll try one. But for many unsuspecting consumers and factory workers of Mr. Crisper, Hell is where they end up. Daryl Dartmor, the former owner of the Sunnydale Snacks had happy employees working for him, selling delicious pork rinds to the public. The factory was a place of benefits, quality, and utmost satisfaction. After his untimely death, the strange and uptight Mr. Crisper took over and that's when all the insidious trouble began. Terrified to say or do anything, the disgruntled workers are made to adhere to his harsh and rigid set of rules, while watching one employee after another succumb to bizarre deaths and unexplainable accidents. Many believe Mr. Crisper is nothing short of evil and perhaps the devil himself. With his devious assistant Mr. Krackle, the very innocent souls of the factory are collected and discarded, just like a bag of pork rinds.

Page by page we delve in deep to the unrelenting ways of Mr. Crisper. With his monocle he is able to see inside the minds of people, as well as able to make them do things they otherwise would not. After too many odd coincidences, a couple employees decide to seek out Mr. Crisper's true identity, but what they learn only leads them to danger.

Accomplished author T.M. Gray, knows how to keep a reader's attention. By adding just the right balance of naughty and nice, she excels at the true art of master storytelling. Mr. Crisper is a scandalous way to pass your time and possibly help you to pass on another bag of pork rinds. The story is easily digestible and satisfying, while the subject itself is a bit dodgy.

Oral Vices
Adrienne Jones
Publish America
ISBN 1413734367 $24.95 316 pp.

Oral Vices. Yes, what a title, and oh what a story! Adrienne Jones, author of many stories and a clever story titled Gypsies Stole my Tequila, has penned yet another exhilarating and adrenaline-inducing piece. Samuel Doherty, an artist looking to be discovered, winds up running into a giant selling jewelry outside a local club. With the charm of a snake and a little opium-laced tea, the giant - Garr, stirs up Samuel's curiosity with an offer too good to be true. And indeed it comes with a hefty price. For all the fame, money, fortune, women, and riches, he is to wear a pendant around his neck. Before he has a chance to decline, Garr whisks him away, far into the future within his mind, and entices him with the fantasy life he longs for. How can he possibly resist such temptations? Greedily, Samuel accepts, and the giant, quite sure this man was "chosen for success" tells him to never to take the pendant off for his very life is dependant on it.

Five years later, Samuel has enjoyed the good life and sitting in the lap of luxury, but strange visions gnaw away at him. He realizes the life he thought he wanted, wasn't really what he wanted at all. Just as there was a price for obtaining his fame, the fame itself had a price tag as well. Bothered by odd feelings or uneasiness, he wants to be rid of the pendant.

What he doesn't realize is that the pendant acts like an all seeing eye, complete with shape-shifting creatures - morphlings - that are to watch over him. Samuel makes a special trip to seek out the giant, Garr, after having learned his lesson of looking a gift horse in the mouth, and hopes his life goes back to normal, when people didn't even know his name.

Adrienne Jones writes with a whimsical wit that is full of adventure, vivid characters you want to meet someday, and a plot that takes you down one tumultuous road and up another. When you arrive at the end, you know you've been somewhere exciting and can't wait to embark on yet another journey. Oral Vices has not only a killer title (and this author knows how to pick a title), but has enough panache to keep you reading it all in one sitting. Addictive - yes, and a must read for everyone!

Stereo Sanctity
Mike E. Purfield
Publish America
ISBN 1592861237 $19.95 219 pp.

Stereo Sanctity reads like a surreal mind-trip that pulls you in and doesn't let go. Mike Purfield has created an exhilarating story that leads up to a frantic yet necessary finish.

Sleepwalking. Dreaming. These seem normal to most people.

Beings. Invisible beings that only a chosen few can see, doesn't seem quite as normal to the average mind.

Daryl Hersh does his best to live with the unknown creatures that come to him in the night, and go from childhood playmates to deadly enemies in a flash. Without a memory of his past, his family, or even his name, he does what he can to survive in a world where reality and dreams coincide with one another.

For a while, things seem to appear okay. He works and is a best selling children's author. Then a procession of life-changing events occurs where he scrambles to keep hold of his sanity. A close friend commits suicide and he feels guilt that he was unable to stop her. He falls in love with a beautiful singer of an all-girl band and finds happiness. Shortly after their marriage, the nightmarish beings put his life at risk one time too many, and he's admitted to a facility to help him make sense of it all. The man in charge of the hospital seems to care and is willing to help Daryl be rid of the beings in his mind, but he's not sure at what cost. Several others are also inside the hospital with him, claiming to see the creatures as well. Concerned for the well being of his wife, he makes a phone call only to learn she has moved on without him. Or has she? The thin line between reality and dreams mesh as one and it all becomes a frightening blur.

Mike Purfield takes an all ready disturbing concept and adds a unique strain to it. His ability to make very real and honest characters drives this story forward. The reader is able to experience the vivid thoughts, ideas, and visions of Daryl Hersh, and truly care for him and what he's going through. The whole way I was rooting for him to be rid of the beings, and return to a somewhat normal life. With the many twists and levels of suspense, Stereo Sanctity is bold, brash, and full of surprises.

Spook Rock
Pasquale J. Morrone
ISBN 0595311520 $32.95 395 pp.

Spook Rock is a brilliant blend of both fiction and historical facts. Between the haunting words of witchcraft, magic, legends and folklore to the gripping fast-paced plot, Pasquale J. Morrone delivers a stunning read.

If you love to delve into tales of witches and be told stories passed along from one generation the next if you crave supernatural tension and a plethora of twists and turns you will be hooked immediately into the pages of Spook Rock. The complexity of the story is laden with intrinsic characters, suspense, intelligent ideals and strange coincidences. Add to that the already intriguing pieces of history from the Salem witch trial, zombies, creatures of mythology to satanic demons, and you have yourself a page turning delight. This is the kind of book that reaches out to you with intellect and doesn't let up for a minute.

The Banning Corporation is a powerful force, one with money and prestige behind its name. With a need to become modernized for the international popularity of video games and production, filmmaker Brad Banning, son of his deceased father Jacob Banning, decides to take on the job. Joe Halester, comes up with an idea for a video game titled The Guardians, about witches from the sixteen hundreds, and pitches it to the Banning Corporation. With an assembled team to help with research and realistic design, they suddenly become the key players in a game bigger than they could ever imagine. Unknowingly, Brad Banning uncovers a host of secrets buried deep in a place discreetly known as Spook Rock. Disturbing a vicious and revengeful creature, he and his crew venture in too far and must deal with the repercussions.

As the team fights for their lives, they must believe in and accept the very things that seemed like they were once only campfire stories. The eyes of the sadistic creature watch their every move, and darkness closes in fast. I won't divulge how many times I shivered or looked behind me, as that would be embarrassing, but I will say that the whole premise makes for an eerie read that requires nerves of steel and a well-lit area.

The author writes in a sharp style that begs you to ignore all the things you think you know, and rather let your imagination take over. After all, isn't that what storytelling is about? The escape to the unknown, reading between the lines, forcing you to ask questions and revel in the many possible answers; and at the same time is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish? Pasquale J. Morrone does this with fine-tuned skill and creates a novel that demands attention. Not only is this a thinking persons book, it is a tribute to creative minds everywhere. Spook Rock will draw you in and mesmerize even the most stubborn of non-believers. In short, it's a gem worth discovering.

The Labyrinth
Catherynne M. Valente
Prime Books
ISBN 1894815661 $29.95 180 pp.

The Labyrinth is a prose-laden journey through light and dark blended together in a kaleidoscope of exquisite imagery. For those who appreciate fine puzzles and intricate maze-like inner travels, this will thoroughly captivate you. Freely flowing between trance-filled fantasy and enchanting mythology, this makes for a surreal and soothing read.

All perception of reality instantly falls away, as you join the main character in her decent within. There is a high level of intelligence here, each action has a consequence, and each path is a lesson, but one for each person to make their own and discover. Rather than searching for doors with the hopes they lead somewhere, our strong-willed warrior must hide from the Doors and be given the freedom to make her own choices. The Doors - seemed to me - to act like pressures, expectations, and places that want to cage you up and keep you stuck. Her need to be liberated and trek through the perils of the maze, or life itself, is very much like our ways in this modern world. Behind every turn something lurks, waits, and attempts to stifle our more passionate direction. I believe each person will take away something different from the story, depending on what we're facing in our own lives.

The Labyrinth is very much like a classical music piece. Starting softly it sings to the soul, is filled with complexity and poise, reaches a startling crescendo, and then leaves the body luxuriously stirred for quite some time. While the characters seem offbeat at first you may find they represent the very events, things and people that surround us all. The author's sheer use of creativity is what makes the whole story work and in a manner that deserves attention as well as applause. This is original, and a beautiful direction for literature to take. Think mystic, Shakespeare, fables, and allow the gentle escape into a multi-faceted world.

This was my first opportunity to read something by the artistic and eloquent author, Catherynne M.Valente. I will no doubt be on the lookout for all her future works. Her sense of writing style grabbed my attention immediately and pulled me along through each and every strand of prosaic words. For one who appreciates the fine art of using the imagination to its greatest capacity, this will be delicious mind candy.

Nancy Jackson, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

The Doomsday Brunette
John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem
DAW Books
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0756400902, $6.99, 356 pages

Set in the middle of the 21st century, the Thompson Quads (short for quadruplets) are genetically engineered to be stronger, smarter, more beautiful and alluring, more everything than the average person. Ona, Twoa, Threa and Foraa (seriously) are supposed to be the pinnacle of humanity, but their personalities never caught up with their bodies. During a private dinner at Ona's private compound, attempting to patch up disagreements between them (which have grown to the size of the Grand Canyon), Foraa falls to the floor, dead, and apparently poisoned.

Enter Zachary Nixon Johnson, the world's last freelance private investigator. The wine Foraa was drinking when she collapsed tests negative for all known poisons. An autopsy on Foraa is impossible because her skin, like that of her sisters, is impregnable to outside objects, including scalpels, saws, and even lasers used on asteroids. Johnson, who is assisted in his investigation by HARV, the world's most sophisticated supercomputer hardwired into his brain, doesn't lack for suspects.

Perhaps the killer was aiming for Ona (she inherited all of Daddy's money when he died, and has become an arrogant, overbearing you-know-what) and miscalculated. After much investigation, and narrowly surviving an attack by a cybernetic suit of armor, Johnson feels the case is solved. During what is supposed to be the climatic scene, where the hardboiled PI calls together all the suspects in order to reveal the murderer, Johnson gets a call from the morgue. Foraa has woken up, gotten off the autopsy table and left. The final battle of the book takes place in a New Vegas casino that happens to be built on top of a real doomsday device, built by Daddy before he died.

Fans of hardboiled detective novels will enjoy this story; science fiction fans will also enjoy it. The authors do a fine job throughout and this is well worth reading.

In Lieu of Heaven
Kevin Archer
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
ISBN 1413421865, $30.99 166 pages

A man is walking along a path, not totally sure of where he is going. In the middle of a desolate landscape, he suddenly encounters a lush, green forest. Exploring the forest, he comes across a man cooking a meal by a fire, a small cabin nearby. The traveler is invited to sit and realx for a while, as if he was expected. The forest resident (for lack of a better name) tells his story.

One day, he woke up in a beautiful garden, with no memories before that day. Physically, he was an adult, but mentally and emotionally, he was like a newborn child. His father gave him no guidance, no idea what to expect. Adam (that is what he calls himself) had to find out for himself what happened when he pricked his finger on a thorn or ate the wrong berries. His father told him not to eat from the tree in the center of the garden. Sound familiar? Adam had no concept of "Do Not..." His life became complete when Eve, his mate, arrived (yes, that Adam and Eve). After they ate from the forbidden tree, because Eve was never told not to do it, they are thrown out of the garden by Adam's father (Jehovah) and forbidden to return.

They eventually found a place to live, and Eve gave birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel (if there was only the four of them, where did the concept of murder come from?) and disappeared. This seems to suck the life out of Eve. She got sicker and sicker, until she just stopped breathing. Holding her in his arms, Adam swore vengeance on his father.

Adam has little good to say about many of the major figures of the Bible, like Abraham and David. He talks about this tribe and that tribe that are not just defeated by the Israelites, but totally wiped out. After many years of wandering, Adam met a freelance prophet in the south, and realized that this was Jehovah in the flesh (his vow has not been forgotten). His teachings are either vague, bloodthirsty or taken from other groups. Adam became one of the Disciples, using the name Judas, and waited for the chance to carry out his vow.

As someone who was born and raised a Catholic, my initial reaction to this is: Holy Cow! The author also includes over 270 references to specific Bible verses, so the reader can see for themselves. For a very different, and very uncomplimentary, view of Christianity, this book is very much recommended.

Paul Lappen

Pogo's Bookshelf

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho
an imprnt of HarperCollins: London
0722532938 177 pp.
0060834838 $14.93 256 pp. large print edition

If dreams were candy, we would eat the sweet ones and hide the others where others could stumble over them, forgotten in an overgrown graveyard.

"The boy's name was Santiago. Dusk was falling as the boy arrived with his herd at an abandoned church. The roof had fallen in long ago, and an enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy once stood." (p3)

The neutron bomb came from the invisible atom..The sanctimonious moralist goes about spouting aphorisms, "From the tiny acorn comes the mighty oak." Bookstore and grocery shelves alike hold inspirational literature that is meant to uplift you with the "aha" moment of sudden insight and spiritual revelation. Paul Coehlo belongs outside the clutter of oozing inspirational literature where the saint is found up to the elbows in the washtub, still scrubbing away with the corrugated scrub-board with Grandpa's red winter flannels. The Alchemist belongs with a small collection of literature that includes Tagore's Gitanjali and Gibran's Prophet. Ageless, it will withstand many years of reading and re-reading during the nights of anxiety and disillusion when the frozen pipes explode and the mortgage threatens to squash the house.

The story line is geometrically simple. So simple that I could get it right on a practice SAT exam and turn the page without a bead of sweat. Draw a line from A to B and then from B to C, and then from... What kind of book is that? Without subplots and the cast of thousands to be modified for a television series or at least one bad movie?

Why must all books be venues for bad movies or Hollywood extravaganzas with animation and actors so mixed that reality and illusion become impossible to differentiate? Consider it a jewel an opal. Smooth, round, luminous, cool, yet whenever you turn it, appearances change as it breathes fire to incite life. Such is the Alchemist, a person who can change appearances more easily than the legendary Chameleon and genie of the desert.

Santiago explains simply if he were to write a book, he would introduce the characters one at a time so that the reader wouldn't get confused. Accordingly, new faces enter sequentially as Santiago leaves his beloved Andulasian homeland to travel across the strait to enter a different world. His first impression of the inhabitants of Tangiers smoking enormous pipes is a "practice of the infidels." Santiago sees the world in reflection of his own prejudices and preconceived stereotypes, but as he progresses on his path toward his destiny, he discovers that reality is different. Chagrinned with being scammed, he recognizes his willingness for self-deception, "I'm like everyone else I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does." (p 42)

Through experience, with encountering his projected stereotypes Santiago learns to see through the superficiality of his environment and listen to the Soul of the World. In his encounter with Melchizedek, he learns that people ae aware early in their lives their reason for being, but it might also be the reason why they give up so easily. A dream without application is only a fantasy. People are afraid to dream as they are afraid to fulfil their destinies, inhibited by the anxiety of failure or that they are not worthy of their aspirations. Only through pursuit of a dream, can it be realized, but when a person refuses to acknowledge the dream it dies within him like a discarded flower.

Poetic, lyrical, Paulo Coehlo takes the reader on a journey of the soul, confronting the evil genies within. Filled with soft irony and dry humor that fizzes like champagne, tickling the heart, the reader becomes immersed with the struggles of Santiago to get from Andulasia to the Egyptian Pyramids. On his path, he meets the ubiquitous Englishman of the desert in search of the Alchemist. Being mildly practical, the Englishman packs around with him a library of ancient books to make the simple complicated and have encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. Being a seminarian turned shepherd, Santiago is only slightly interested, but far more aware of his environment, learning to listen in the language of the universe. Ironically, for a seminarian, Santiago has no recollection of an ancient named Melchizedek, revealing the immense gap between the Catholic and Jewish faiths, and exposes even greater ignorance when confronted with his Islamic brothers. However, he learns.

In a world troubled by national and religious bitterness, Paulo Coehlo's Alchemist is a refreshing study of faith and destiny. Through hardship, Santiago learns to discard the stereotypes of his childhood as well as his prejudices. He comes to recognize that courage is not only protecting the sheep from their predators, but confronting the unknown and allow it to wsh over him, trusting in the mysterious forces of the Soul of the Universe and the Principle of Favorability. The ubiquitous Englishman carries a gun because it helps him trust in men, and he seeks the mentorship of the alchemist to learn teh secret of turning lead into gold. Unarmed, Santiago comes to understand that each thing has its own value and place in the universe and that each person is as important as the next one in shaping destiny. Definitely a parable of our time, the Alchemist considers the conflicts of human relations among the three great faiths within in the context of fantasy.

There ae several different imprints of the text available on Amazon, including audio and a compilation of three short novels: The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage and By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept from One Spirit (ISBN : 096547559X 2002)

A Soft Place to Land
Jaxine Daniels
Wings ePress
Newcastle, OK
1590885082, $15.00 212 pp.

Fast moving, Jaxine Daniels takes you on adventure. as Nic rescues the unknown woman off the street, dressed in pajamas but minus a slipper--a potential Cinderella minus the ball gown and pumpkin. Every parajumper knows that when dropping form heights, you need a soft place to land, even if in a parking lot.

Nic finished off his pizza, left the beer and left the pub when the hockey game ended. Winter outside came in one flavor cold. He scraped off the ice on the car and headed back to the hotel only to edge up to a disabled vehicle with a disoriented driver. The paramedic with Batman's instincts sprang into action, taking on the uneven battles of the world, championing the underdog. She wasn't so terribly bad looking, either, but didn't respond normally. Drugs? At least she knew her first name.


"Julie what?"

She began looking around as if hoping that the answer would appear in lights. It wasn't that hard a question. Hell. This could be a problem. while he waited for the answer, he automatically clicked through the possible causes of altered levels of consciousness. Alcohol, altitude, anaphylaxis, apnea...the list went on." (p6)

Reality orientation begins with the list of questions: the president, date, place, etc. Julie fails with the date, coming close with the twenty-third of December. Nic is in for a Christmas he will remember for the rest of his life. Skiing was planned, but now he has company for the slopes that he didn't invite. Having a soft heart, he takes her in with the compassion for an abandoned kitten. Lost? Perhaps, but difficult to know when someone can't remember who they are. But what to do? You can't rightly just take in a lost person in the same way as a lost dog or cat, especially when you don't know anything about their past. Besides who wants to be alone or abandoned at Christmas.

Within a few pages the reader is snagged. The writing is fluid, swift and dynamic, drawing the reader into the drama of Julie's tulmultous life. Defenseless, she dislikes being defended as a victim; but traumatized her life is broken in confused fragments. Steps retraceed, she confronts the horror that lies beyond the front door. Action moves quickly across the California-Nevada wonderland as Julie tries to recall the nightmare. She's wanted; but not for any good reason.

In a quandary, faced with more than he can handle, Nic turns to his relatives and team mates for support as he assists Julie rediscover herself. Although she seems survival smart and can handle a gun, she seems vulnerable to mental lapses. Like an animal, she's tracked, but doesn't have a secret place to hide. No stranger to trauma, himself, he understands the need for extended support and the dangers of facing crisis alone. Members of a team live and work together in seasons of distress. Paramedics trust each others in the face of death, rescuing survivors of airplane wrecks or pulling bodies out of fires. Courage comes in two parts, physical and mental that requires spiritual toughness to overcome adversity and the finality of death.

Intimate with rescue teams, Daniels convinces the reader of the dangers and cameraderie that exist among paramedics and their colleagues. Often the unknown heroes, they are overlooked when headlines scream about survivors airlifted from a cliff face or bodies recovered from the unforgiving wilderness. Daniels conveys the intense drama of wilderness rescue through the multiple eyes and voices of the team members, from control down to the ground. She pits the harsh realities of tricky manuevers against the off-beat humor that's required to survive psychologically. The characters are lively, realistic and dynamic. Through Julie's identity crisis and her recent trauma, Daniels paints the blossoming affair of Nic and Julie against the insidious treachery of local city corruption and the bravery of wilderness rescue teams. When folks are snuggling in front of a fire or Christmas tree, they open presents and drink hot cocoa, but avoid unlocking the cupboard for the skeletons in the closet.

Slick, fast, Daniels knows how to write a page-turning book that is good for the purse or backpack to take on the train or plane or read in a night of insomnia.


Robyn's Bookshelf

The Unicorn Treasury: Stories, Poems, and Unicorn Lore
Bruce Coville, compiler and editor
Magic Carpet Books
c/o Harcourt
ISBN: 015205216X $5.95

What does a Unicorn find irresistible? So irresistible in fact, it can be used as a trap? What sort of power radiates from its legendary horn? And what is an "alicorn?" In this endearing collection of unicorn lore, the word treasury is appropriately applied. Compiled and edited by a unicorn master, author Coville has taken us into a magical realm where we can believe in ancient times and modern venues featuring stories, poems, and unicorn tales. We meet a princess who encounters a demanding and arrogant unicorn and a boy torn between saving himself or a trapped creature destined to chains. We feel the angst of two children struggling to protect a unicorn from hunters and we realize the power of a unicorn's magic and the extent of its charm. This enchanted collection includes works from Bruce Coville, Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, Jane Yolen, and others coming together to create a world of unicorn adventure.

What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math Adventure
Julie Ellis, author
Phyllis Hornung, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 1570911509 $6.95

Ever wonder where all the math theories came from and what drove the great minds to discover how things work? Meet Pythagoras, a young Greek boy born around 563 BCE. This engaging story of discovery is told through a fictionalized account of curiosity and persistence. The father of Pythagoras wants his son to be a merchant, but the son has other dreams. He likes to ponder the geometrical puzzles he sees before him. Why do columns lean, why is the ladder too short, and what is that specially knotted rope used by Neferheperhersekeper the builder? Left alone in a garden with a statue base shaped like a triangle, Pythagoras experiments by placing different colored tiles around the sides. Through visual discovery, the young Greek begins to understand the laws governing the right triangle and how that knowledge may help him. From this inquiry, the Pythagorean Theorem is born. Although a sophisticated concept to understand, the endearing storyline and delightful cartoon pictures help the youngest to grasp the concept behind aý+ bý=cý. Readers will be able to put the story into historical prospective with illustrations featuring a peaceful Mediterranean landscape.

Dragon's Gate
Lawrence Yep
HarperCollins Children's Books
ISBN: 0064404897 $6.99

What are the hardships of being a young Chinese boy in a new American frontier during the late 1800's? What do you do when you have come from a privileged background and you are suddenly thrust into an unbearable work environment of little food, long grueling hours, and unbelievable danger? America's quest to build a transcontinental railroad is historically detailed in this fictional account of laying track across an unforgiving mountain known as "Snow Tiger." Young Otter wishes to join his father and uncle in America so he can be part of a new creation called the railroad. And bridging travel across the land is a tireless wonder known as the locomotive. Forbidden by his adopted mother to join his father and uncle in the land of promise, Otter suddenly finds himself in jeopardy after encountering the combative Manchus. He arrives in America to find life is not what he thought. His uncle "Foxfire" is not the great man he thought him to be, and his once kingly father has been reduced to a gravelling laborer. The hardships of intense physical labor, dangerous working conditions, starvation, bitter cold, racial prejudice, and isolation bring the reader's sense to life. It is through these senses we feel the desperation of Otter's destiny as he chooses to die or rise above the task. Friendship and family love provide strength in this heart felt story.

Robyn Gioia

Roger's Bookshelf

The New Workforce: Five Sweeping Trends That Will Shape Your Company's Future
Harriet Hankin
ISBN 081440829X $27.95 243 pages

Thought-provoking, Educational: Well worth your time.

Human resources executives are naturally concerned about what's coming. Part of their job is to prepare for future workforce and workplace needs and advise senior leaders regarding appropriate strategies. Those senior executives are also beginning to wake up and smell the trends. The smart ones are hungry for the insights that will empower them to lead their organizations boldly into the future.

Harriet Hankin, president of a benefits design consulting and administration firm in the Philadelphia area, brings corporate experience, an ownership role, and the perspective that comes from serving as an objective consultant to corporations. She's obviously done her research in order to present key trends and their impacts.

The book is organized into two sections: The Five Major Emerging Workforce Trends and The Impact of the Trends on Human Resources. Hankin selected five trends; as a futurist by profession, I see a number of others on the horizon. Selecting the more influential trends can always be challenged. This book addresses Longevity, More Varied Household Types, Generations, Diversity, and Trust, Respect, and Ethics.

The book is written in an almost conversational style, with stories and anecdotes that flavor the text and make the book even more readable. Hankin includes some information which, while it may not be right on target from a serious business perspective, broadens the reader's appreciation of the issues raised. The depth of the author's research comes out in the notes at the end of each chapter. Readers interested in gaining even more knowledge about a topic Hankin discusses will easily be able to follow her research path. Call-out boxes and charts fit well into the book design, enhancing the value for the reader.

In the second section, Hankin shares a treasure chest of ideas that employers may apply. There are enough ideas in these pages to keep a human resources staff busy for quite a while! Among the valuable features I appreciated is a list (on page 181) comparing the kinds of reward priorities that will be preferred by various generations.

A helpful appendix offers an outline for engaging employees in a future think tank experience to help prepare tomorrow's workforce. A comprehensive index makes it easy to find what you're looking for if, as I expect, you'll want to go back to this book for repeated readings and considerations.

As a qualifier, I am author of "Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People," a book on the coming shortage of skilled workers. The issues we concentrate on as workforce futurists, are well-addressed in "The New Workforce." If you're in management or human resources or moving in that direction in your career, read this book.

Lee & Grant: Profiles in Leadership
Maj. Charles R. Bowery, Jr.
ISBN 0814408192 $24.00 262 pages

Wonderful Mix of Leadership and History

Here's a very enjoyable book written by a military historian and leadership specialist. Bowery has very effectively intertwined a captivating history of the civil war, a tale that certainly holds the attention of the reader, with an almost subtle set of valuable leadership lessons.

Using profiles and examples of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, the commanding generals of the Union and Confederate armies of the American Civil War, Bowery teaches strategic leadership, effective interaction with subordinates, changing styles with needs, and transformational leadership. By using the lessons demonstrating the impact of leadership styles on the outcome of battles and the war, Bowery delivers a powerful insight into a trying period of history.

The lessons of this war's battlefields, influenced by politics and an ever-changing environment, are inspirational and instructive. Leaders of today and tomorrow, on battlefields that are much different than those challenging conditions of the 1860s, will gain from understanding of Lee and Grant's successes and failures.

I was impressed with the way Bowery wove his leadership lessons into a thoroughly researched and detailed story of historical battles and maneuvers. The lessons sort of sneak up on you. The primary body of the book is supplemented by a helpful summary of the Union and Confederate forces and suggestions for further reading. An appendix on Leadership Laboratories ways to gain the most from visiting the battlefields adds an unexpected, but stimulating, perspective.

This book can serve as a fine management text, offering an opportunity for leaders to engage in some fascinating conversations about what they've read. Touring the battlefields, using the guidelines in the book, will add a deeper dimension to the experience.

Get What You Want: A Fun, Upbeat, and Fresh Approach to Negotiating
Hal Becker and John Lief
Oakhill Press.
ISBN 1886939683 $17.95 230 pages

Light Reading with Good Messages

Hal Becker is a sales trainer and professional speaker. His friend, Jon Lief, is a gemstone broker. What can these men teach us about negotiating? They're not negotiators. They're not trainers in the field of negotiating. They're not university professors specializing in negotiating. And they're certainly not statesmen with decades of experience across the table with heads of state.

That's the point. They're ordinary guys who gained their expertise in negotiating in the trenches. This is a practical book written by two businessmen very successful businessmen who learned about getting what they want by actually doing it in a variety of situations. Becker was Xerox's Number One salesman; you don't achieve that rank without gaining substantial negotiating experience. Lief deals internationally in a highly competitive field where one slip can cost you a lot of money.

The two authors have put together a list of Top Ten Negotiating Points on which the book is based. Teaching the real-life application of the ten points, they use stories from their experiences and what they've learned from others. Becker wrote the first portion of the book; life wrote the second portion. The third portion is a summary of a set of interviews, conducted by Becker, of people the authors consider to be effective negotiators.

The style of the authors is light, but content-filled. At several points in the book, I felt that I was being dragged through a story that took me far afield from the topic of negotiating. Then, the light dawned and I realized that I'd just been taught some more about the topic. The book goes beyond business negotiating to demonstrate that getting what you want is a life skill. The authors are a bit irreverent at times, but if you've read Becker's other books you know that this is part of who he is. He takes what he does seriously, but that's where his seriousness stops. The interviews toward the end of the book seemed lighter than what I expected disappointing, but there are nuggets there, too. When you read between the lines, a skill of negotiating, you "see" more than what appears on the printed page.

Good book for sales professionals, businesspeople in all fields, parents, and well just about anyone. It's not heavy, but it's educational, fun, and only $17.95.

Roger E. Herman, Reviewer

Sharon's Bookshelf

How To Photograph The Paranormal
Leonore Sweet, Ph.D.
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
1125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
1571744118 $16.95 1-800-766-8009

How To Photograph The Paranormal is an advice guide to capturing preternatural phenomena and events on film. From learning to recognize and avoid reflections of TV screens or other light sources, to recognizing and finding the best times to hunt orbs, will-o'-the-wisps, and other unearthly lights, to filming apparitions and unknown biology and more, How To Photograph The Paranormal describes in plain terms what symptoms and markers to watch for, and what techniques to use. Black-and-white and an inset collection of color photographs enhance this easy-to-follow guide.

High Magick
Frater U.D.
Llewellyn Publications
PO Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383
0738704717 $29.95 1-800-843-6666

With his practical, non-dogmatic, occasionally iconoclastic approach to the Black Arts, as well as being one of Europe's best known practical magicians and contemporary occult authors with more than twenty-five books to his credit, Belgium-based Frater U.D. is the founder of "Pragmatic Magic" and "Ice Magic", and the author of High Magick: Theory & Practice. This comprehensive and thoroughly "reader friendly" introduction to magical practices will provide even the most novice inquiry with a sold, methodical foundation for furthering their personal studies. Rather than a mere compendium of potions and spells, High Magick focuses upon explaining the basic laws governing magic, with an emphasis on what it means to be a "good" magician. With an impressive emphasis on self-discipline and the need for training the practitioner's own will, High Magick covers all of the major facets of high magick including "The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram", sigil magick, ritual magick, visualization, the "Greater Ritual of the Pentagram", planetary magick, tools of the magician, talisman work, mantra magick, money magick, magickal paradigms, chaos and cyber magick. Enhanced with practical exercises at the end of each informed and informative chapter, High Magick: Theory & Practice should be considered required reading for anyone wanting to study the metaphysical and magical arts of the occult. Also very highly recommended is Frater U.D.'s previous work published by Llewellyn Publications, Secrets of Western Sex Magic: A Practical Handbook for Men and Women (15767187064, $17.95).

Sharon Stuart

Sherry's Bookshelf

The Great American Novel Or, Random Start
Eliot Stafford
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595334466 $13.95 paperback
ISBN: 0595669360 $23.95 cloth 173 pages

The Great American Novel Or, Random Start is a precious shot of adrenaline. This brilliantly original storyline is a saucy tale taking place in the small rural town of Hickston, Kansas.

Dr. Daniel Morrison, a recently retired OBGYN, and his wife are quietly settling in to the simple life when a past anxious patient knocks on his door. Seventeen years ago, Dr. Morrison delivered the eccentric patient's daughter dubbing the baby Miracle Miriam, due to the difficulty of the birth. Miriam is the reason for Alice Baxter's (the patient) zealous visit. Alice, in her hyper-parenting, believes her daughter is a prophet.

Alice parcels out the necessary information convincing the good Doctor to participate in the possible validation of this miracle. Miriam seems to be carting messages from heaven in a very unusual way. Once this news is released about Miriam, it becomes a horse that can't be put back in the barn. As the situation continues, it has a transformative effect on all involved.

The author chisels his characters so finely that the book is alive with side-splitting yet heart warming comedy. This is one vastly entertaining novel. I loved this kooky intelligently written book.

Mr. Stafford has a vibrant creative imagination and deserves a Bravo!

Guardian of the Zercons
Brian Jeffrey Voigt
Blue Pig Productions
PO Box 691779, Orlando, Florida 32869-1779
ISBN 1932545182 $21.95 339 pp., 10 black and white illustrations

The story unfolds as the wicked Schartan implements his masterfully designed plan. In the city of twin luminescent blue moons, Plebar, the market is full of delco traders by day. Delcos are coins made of a metal similar to gold. Schartan is a conniving, gluttonous delco trader with his eye of a much larger objective. The enigmatic Schartan slyly acquires great wealth which catapults him to achieving his next purpose. The evil plotter desires to become Chancellor giving him wide-ranging access to the King. Once he accomplishes this, the land soon becomes his. He spitefully strips the joy of color from his land and blinds others.

Schatan's victims include the massive peace loving vegetarian Zercon Dragons. He doesn't stop there as his nightmare rein fully destroys the diminutive little Frollics while shades of gray loom over the land.

Yet, success is not guaranteed to Schartan, for life is full of surprises. A small Dragon cub is born and renews hope for all. Little Repunzel blurted out the most stunning words at the age of five. These important three little words revitalizes the Zercon's and hope abounds once again. Repunzel becomes the eyes and the protector for the Zercons. As the Guardian of the Zercons, Repunzel is told a tale about a missing magical amulet. This amulet could put an end to the Schartan's torment and so the search begins to rescue his world from devastation.

Enjoy cat-like creatures, Sany Monsters and Gorgon Soldiers to name a few of the peculiar and inventive characters. Add in the weird and wonderful gizmos along with the suspense and you have a cleverly created fantasy.

Guardian of the Zercons showcases Mr. Voigt's talent for entertaining fantasy. A real treat for fantasy lovers and for those who love "good over evil" story lines. A bonus is the glossary in the back of the book.

Sherry Russell

Sullivan's Bookshelf

Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture
Richard Restak, M.D.
Harmony Books
ISBN# 1400048508 $22.00 235 pages/indexed

The book's title refers to Edgar Allen Poe's protagonist in "The Tell-Tale Heart" short story. Having killed a man, the main characcter develops deep anxiety from guilt, leading him to imagine that he hears the heart beat of his deceased victim. Meaning: anxiety can be a strong, and negative, force in some humans. The mountain climber allusion relates to those who fearlessly, and apparently, with little anxiety, climb such peaks as Mount Everest. In brief: anxiety doesn't have to inhibit.

Anxiety is defined as "A state of uneasinss and distress about future uncertainties; apprehension; worry," according to The American Heritage Dictionary.

Today, more than ever before, many people are highly anxious. The book points out that, "...over 19 million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety dysfunction." Why? Well, thanks to modern technology, more is learned about what's going wrong in the world. And that information comes around the clock, seven dys a week. Certainly, events like 9/11 in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania are a part of this heightened anxiety, too. With so much bad news, people are tenser. And it's making some of them anxious to the point of experiencing panic and anxiety attacks.

That's the bad news. The good news is, according to Dr. Restak, the book's author, anxiety can benefit humans. This life saving/or enhancing trait lets people know of internal conflict, so something can be done to resolve or alleviate the problem. And for those who have an inordinate amount of anxiety, they can learn to cope with it and/or to medicate the malady. And here he's not talking about old self-remedies for anxiety, such as consuming alcohol to excess or becoming a workaholic. He's discussing effective, nonaddictive pharmacological drugs such as Prozac plus attitudinal changes.

The author explains the difference between fear and anxiety. The former being a reaction to a specific external threat: a bear met face to face in the woods, for instance. Once that threat passes, so does the fear. Anxiety, on the other hand, is more of a general feeling of unease, an internal conflict. The anxious sufferer may not even know what's causing that feeling. But it effects his life negatively.

The amount of anxiety felt by individuals, of course, varies. Researchers suspect, it depend upon the genes. No one, however, knows exactly which genes are responsible.

Restak writes, "[...]. My point here is that people differ in their susceptibility to developing anxiety not because of 'neuroses' or a 'weak will' but, we're learning, because of genetic susceptibility: Nature dealt them a 'bad hand.' "

At the end of chapters and in the epilogue, the author lays out ways to learn how to cope with your anxiety, like thinking specifically about what makes you anxious, recording these thoughts in a journal, learning how to stop thinking that way, and more.

The idea isn't to rid yourself completely of anxiety, because it's a very necessary life force. But you shouldn't let it ruin your life, either. It's a survival mechanism. So it has to be kept in proper perspective.

Writer of over a dozen other books, Restak is a neurologist and neuropsychiatrist. He also teaches neurology at a major university hospital.


Letters to a Teacher
Sam Pickering
Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN# 0871136996 $19.95 242 pages

This is an advice book addressed to teachers of all grade levels of school, public and private, boys and girls, rich and poor, average and above mentally. Its format is the essay, in fact a series of ten of them, on various topics of concern to the teaching profession, written as letters to an imaginary teacher.

This advice giver is teacher himself, now a Professor of English at the University of Connecticut. He earned his Ph.D. in English from Princeton. Pickering has had extensive teaching experience in the lower grades, too, at schools in the U.S. and around the globe. He was also the inspiration for the DEAD POETS SOCIETY motion picture that came out few years ago.

Some of his advice includes, "You must realize that much lies beyond your knowledge. Never [..] underestimate the ignorance of the partially learned, that is all of us. Although older teachers generally lack the energy of beginning teachers and responsibility may make some older teachers less inclined to stray from the fold of rule, people who have been in the classroom for decades can be more tolerant and kinder than the young. One of the best things you can do amid the mess of class is interest students in the particular, matters close to hand that at first seem small but may enrich life more than things generally thought major or important. As a teacher you cannot escape being misunderstood. [...], if you think a slight distortion will encourage and maybe lead to blossoms, then push a mark a little higher than it should otherwise be. Unless new teachers stumble badly and lose control of themselves or their classes, probably the best things you can do are to act concerned and be ready to advise. A person can learn as much about good living from a science course as from history. There are no easy answers and no easy classrooms or lives."

Pickering leavens all his essays with several humorous, down-home stories of his imaginary growing up years in Carthage, Tennessee.

Most of the seventeen books that Pickering has written are collections of his essays.


Jim Sullivan

Taylor's Bookshelf

Echoes Of Eternity
Hal M. Helms
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
1557251738 $9.95

Hal M. Helms (1923-1997) was a Congregational minister who served five different congregations between 1949 and 1974. For twenty-three years he also served on the clergy staff and lived at the Community of Jesus in Orleans, Massachusetts writing a number of devotional books and producing modern versions of Christian classics for contemporary readers including "Pilgrims Progress" and "Confessions of St. Augustine". With Echoes Of Eternity: Listening To The Father, Hal Helms compiled 365 meditations on different scripture verses with a special focus emphasizing the necessity to listen for the still, small voice within us, as well as to speak when we pray. Each of the daily meditations comprising Echoes Of Eternity includes a scripture verse and encouraging words that speak of Chris as our personal anchor, the treasure of God's love, and the abiding peace of God that can sooth even the most troubled of souls. Very highly recommended and with a conveniently pocket-sized portability, Echoes Of Eternity can accompany the reader anywhere for contemplative reading at any appropriate time.

James Montgomery Boice
Baker Book House
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
0801012821 $19.99

Written by senior Presbyterian pastor James Montgomery Boice, who has also written commentaries upon The Gospel of Matthew, The Gospel of John, and many more, Nehemiah: An Expositional Commentary is a scholarly and well-reasoned close reading and interpretation that inspects the Old Testament book. Revealing how God steels His servants for their appointed tasks, Nehemiah: An Expositional Commentary deconstructs the holy text verse by verse and draws from it profound and all-encompassing truths: "If we will not obey him [Jesus Christ], live holy lives, and be his witness in this world, it is certain that no one else will. The responsibility is ours alone." A deeply moving, passionate, and faithful presentation.

Being Human
Terry Kyllo
Cold Tree Press c/o Terry Kyllo
7555 Crescent Lane, Anacortes, WA 98221
1583850570 $12.95 1-360-770-2774

In Being Human: The Image of The Serving God, Lutheran pastor Terry Kyllo invites the reader to explore Jesus' profound relation of the Serving God. A God utterly committed to loving and healing everyone and everything think in a contemporary world that seems intent upon inflicting damage to the hopes, aspirations, and spiritual lives of the Christian community. Very highly recommended reading for Christians of all denominations and traditions, Being Human offers a compelling vision of just what it really means to believe in Jesus in the context of the modern world. Pastor Kyllo maintains that we are made in the image of a loving God, and it is in serving God that we serve the world, as well as find purpose, meaning, and joy in our personal daily lives.

A Biblical Guide To Counseling The Sexual Addict
Steve Gallagher
Pure Life Ministries
14 School Street, Dry Ridge, KY 41035
0971547092 $13.99 1-859-824-4444

Like any other kind of compulsive behavior that rises to the level of mental illness, sexual addiction, the victim must deal not only with the self-destructive behaviors, but also the social and spiritual stigma associated with sexual promiscuity or deviancey, and the condemnation of them by the Christian community as sexual sinners. Steve Gallahger (Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries) has come to the aid of such unfortunates and the clergy charged with the responsibility of providing them with pastoral counseling with A Biblical Guide To Counseling The Sexual Addict. Organized into three major sections (Applying the Fundamentals of Biblical Counseling; Counseling Specifics; Running A Successful Support Group), A Biblical Guide To Counseling The Sexual Addict is a complete course in a single volume that will materially assist any pastor, priest, or lay leader in effectively assisting their afflicted brothers and sisters in Christ to understand and ultimately end their compulsive behavior. Enhanced with a Bibliography, a Recommended Reading list, and indexes by Scriptures and by Subjects, A Biblical Guide To Counseling The Sexual Addict is an essential and strongly recommended instructional reference.

The Complete Jesus
Rick Alan Mayotte
Steerforth Press, LLC
PO Box 70, South Royalton, VT 05068
1883642779 $15.00

A lifelong student of the history of religion, Ricky Alan Mayhotte has produced what can only be called a seminal, breakthrough work that should be read by every member of the clergy and ever member of the Christian congregations they serve regardless of denominational affiliation. The Complete Jesus is nothing short of a complete and exhaustive collection of sayings by Jesus as recording in 23 documents surviving from antiquity. In addition to the four biblical gospels and "Book of Revelations", this ancient sources include Christian Gnostic writings and New Testament Apocrypha ranging from "The Book of Thomas", to "The Gospel of Mary", to "The Apocryphon of James", to "The Sophia of Jesus Christ", to "The Acts of John", to the "Epistle of Titus", to "The Apocalypse of Peter". The sayings of Jesus are impressively organized into nine chapters: Commandments, Parables, Jesus Speaking About Himself, Warnings And Admonitions, Teachings And Proverbs, Hymns And Prayers, Jesus Laughing, Diverse Doctrine, Apocalyptic And Revelation. Enhanced with appendices that provide the reader with the descriptions of the New Testament books, the Gnostic documents, and the Apocrypha writings which served as the sources for the diverse quotations from Jesus. "Jesus said, Who ever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world."

The Work Of The Pastor
Victor D. Lehman
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-9897
081701473X $12.00

Rather than laying out a rigid job description, The Work Of The Pastor by Victor D. Lehman (Lead Pastor, First Baptist Church, Fargo, North Dakota) presents ideas and perspectives based on the understanding that there is really no single correct way to be an effective pastor. There are simply too many variables within congregations and their pastors for any "one size fits all" job description. Instead, Pastor Lehman focuses on core ministry duties essential to the vocation of pastor. Of special interest is the beneficial focus upon the obligations of small church pastors having to address a diverse range of congregational expectations. Also of great utility is the advice offered and perspectives given for the benefit of all pastors regardless of the congregational assignments, as well as those who are contemplating a pastoral ministry of service to the Christian community. The Work Of The Pastor is also very highly recommended reading from members of church boards charged with the tasks of recruiting, overseeing, and evaluating pastors for their churches.

The Most Real Being
J. A. Crabtree
Gutenberg College Press
1883 University Street, Eugene, OR 97403
0974691410 $33.00

The Most Real Being: A Biblical And Philosophical Defense Of Divine Determinism by biblical scholar J. A. Crabtree (Director of McKenzie Study Center, Gutenberg College, Eugene, Oregon) distinguishes between the Christian bible-based concept of divine determinism and pagan fatalism while addressing major philosophical and ethical arguments such as the doctrine of free will. Controversial, and given contemporary Christian dogmas and theological discussions, sometimes iconoclastic, The Most Real Being is hallmarked with a logical consistency as it argues divine determinism being consistent with the concept of human free will and independent choice. The key is in knowing that God is in control which provides an assured confidence in our decision making processes. A welcome and scholarly contribution to the Free Will vs Divine Determination debate within seminarian theological discussions, The Most Real Being is also recommended reading for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in this often misunderstood and misleadingly simplified aspect of Christian belief.

John Taylor

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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