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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 10 October 2012 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Ann's Bookshelf Applegate's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf Christy's Bookshelf
Clark's Bookshelf Crocco's Bookshelf Daniel's Bookshelf
Gail's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Heidi's Bookshelf
Janet's Bookshelf Janie's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf
Katherine's Bookshelf Kaye's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Lois' Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Marjorie's Bookshelf
Mayra's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Sandra's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Serpent's Bite
Warren Adler
Stonehouse Press
B00906GKRC, $7.69 Kindle
9781590060445, $21.95 print,

Aaron Paul Lazar, Reviewer

The Serpent's Bite by Warren Adler offers raw escapism rooted in the wild environs of Yellowstone State Park. This riveting novel pits nature against the tense dynamics of a very unnatural family, drawing fascinating conflicts between right and wrong, real and counterfeit, power and subservience, abuse and rebellion.

George Temple, widowed several years earlier, deeply mourns the loss of his first wife, the mother of his two children. Over time, much to his surprise, he meets Muriel, a woman who understands and comforts him. Now he hopes to gingerly introduce the idea of his upcoming marriage to his two estranged children, Scott and Courtney, and has planned a grand trail riding adventure during which he will divulge his news.

George hopes to recapture the innocence of a time when he and his young family took a long guided trail ride through Yellowstone. He contacts his children, who have all but abandoned him, and they reluctantly agree to retake the trip of their childhood with the same guide who hosted them years ago.

Courtney and Scott are spoiled, ungrateful offspring. Scott - weak and easily pushed around by his sister - still holds some affection for his father, although he is furious that George has recently declined to finance the latest in a long string of unsuccessful ventures.

Courtney - egocentric, brutal, and completely without conscience - is focused only on her unsuccessful career as an actress and nothing will stop her maniacal grab for her father's fortune. This woman is the ultimate sociopath housed in a goddess's body, and her scheming ways make hardened criminals look tame.

In addition to the intricate layers of subterfuge in this miserable family, horrible, dark secrets simmer in their past. Flashbacks include insight into a relationship most shocking. I won't reveal the participants or nature of the liaison, as it's one of the surprise elements of the story.

One of George Temple's greatest disappointments in this adventure has to do with the trail guide. Decades after their first trip, Harry has succumbed to alcohol and is constantly inebriated. The Mexican trail hand, Tomas, enables his boss's habits by burying bottles of liquor ahead of time near the campsites. Although Harry has some redeeming qualities, such as his deep and respectful knowledge and love of nature, Temple finds him intolerable because of his treatment of Tomas. With prejudice and arrogance, Harry orders the trail hand around like a slave, hurling racial epithets at every opportunity and taunting the quiet man with regularity.

Mr. Adler's understanding of abnormal relationships is insightful and brilliant. Some scenes made my skin crawl, and others saddened me deeply. I felt great empathy for George, who tries so valiantly to reunite his family. Of course, these reactions to strong characters parallel the suspense and tension embedded in the story from page one. Will George win the affection of his children again? Will the group make it out of the park safely? What about the grizzlies and mountain lions lurking in the background? Can there be a positive outcome?

This tense and often shocking journey through nature's spectacular canyons and mountains will hold your attention and keep you reading long into the night. A new classic has been born from the prolific Mr. Adler!

The War Of 1812
Bud Hannings
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786463855, $145.00,

Andy Jordan

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States and those of the British Empire. The United States declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions brought about by Britain's ongoing war with France, the impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over insults to national honour after humiliations on the high seas, and possible American desire to annex Canada. Tied down in Europe until 1814, the British at first used defensive strategy, repelling multiple American invasions of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. However, the Americans gained control over Lake Erie in 1813, seized parts of western Ontario, and ended the prospect of an Indian confederacy and an independent Indian state in the Midwest under British sponsorship. In the Southwest, General Andrew Jackson destroyed the military strength of the Creek nation at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1814 on April 6, the British adopted a more aggressive strategy, sending in three large invasion armies. The British victory at the Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814 allowed them to capture and burn Washington, D.C. American victories in September 1814 and January 1815 repulsed all three British invasions in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans.

The war was fought in three principal theatres. Firstly, at sea, warships and privateers of both sides attacked each other's merchant ships, while the British blockaded the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and mounted large-scale raids in the later stages of the war. Secondly, both land and naval battles were fought on the American - Canadian frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. Thirdly, the American South and Gulf Coast also saw major land battles in which the American forces defeated Britain's Indian allies and repulsed a British invasion force at New Orleans.

Both sides invaded each other's territory, but these invasions were unsuccessful or temporary. At the end of the war, both sides occupied parts of the other's land, but these areas were restored by the Treaty of Ghent.

In the United States, victories at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and in the Battle of Baltimore of 1814 (which inspired the lyrics of the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner") produced a sense of euphoria over a "second war of independence" against Britain. Peace brought an "Era of Good Feelings" in which partisan animosity nearly vanished. Canada also emerged from the war with a heightened sense of national feeling and solidarity, having repelled multiple American invasions. Battles such as the Battle of Queenston Heights and the Battle of Crysler's Farm became iconic for English-speaking Canadians. In Canada, especially Ontario, memory of the war retains national significance, as the invasions were largely perceived by Canadians as an annexation attempt by America seeking to expand US territory. In Canada, numerous ceremonies are scheduled in 2012 to commemorate a Canadian victory. The war is scarcely remembered in Britain today; as it regarded the conflict as sideshow to the much larger Napoleonic Wars raging in Europe. As such it welcomed an era of peaceful relations and trade with the United States.

Strongly recommended for both community and academic library American History and Military History reference collections and supplemental reading lists, "The War Of 1812" by military historian Bud Hannings provides a complete chronology of the conflict and is enhanced with the inclusion of biographies for sixty-three of the general officers who fought in the campaigns that comprised this encounter between the military forces of the Americans, the English, and the Canadians.

Last to Die
Tess Gerritsen
Bantam Press
9780593063279, A$29.95
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345515636, $27.00,

David Skea, Reviewer

I hadn't come across Tess Gerritsen's novels before Last to Die landed up on my desk. Background reading told me that this is the 10th Rizzoli and Isles thriller and that the characters had spawned a hit TV series in the US.

This mystery revolves around three young children all orphaned within a week of each other in three different locations. They are then all horrendously subjected to a second similar trauma, some two years later, when all of the children's foster parents are killed. The children themselves narrowly avoid death. They all then end up in an exclusive boarding school in the backwoods of Maine which apparently specialises in helping children in trauma.

Forensic pathologist Maura Isles becomes involved when she visits the school to visit Julian 'Rat' Perkins, the young boy with whom she bonded during their ordeal in Wyoming (see the earlier book, Ice Cold). Unsure of the motives of the schools founders and that the school is the best place for Julian she becomes aware that all the school's pupils are survivors of violence and that for some of the children the school may be the only safe place. She is also startled to discover that the backgrounds of two of the children are very similar to that of a boy whose foster parents deaths she has just examined back in Boston.

Detective Jane Rizzoli in Boston, alerted by Maura, decides to check up on the boy and is instrumental in foiling another murder attempt. After talking to Maura again, she decides that the best option is to take the boy straight to the school, a school that may be the only safe place. However Maura and Jane soon discover that the school, even though it is protected by locked gates and acres of woodland, cannot be totally secure especially when the threat may be inside the school. Strange clues such as three twig dolls hanging in a tree, and a crucified deer are found. Later the apparent suicide of the school's psychiatrist counsellor also causes concern.

Interspersed in this story is a second story of a kidnap in Rome where the family of the kidnapped are all killed in a road smash. Only towards the end of the main story does this second tale start make any sense.

This latest novel from Gerritsen will please those who have read her earlier books. To the first time reader there are references to characters found in earlier books that are not fully explained and that do nothing for the plot. Perhaps this the author's way of getting you to read all the earlier books.

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City
John Ross
Nation Books
116 East 16th Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10003
1568584245; $28.95,

Deacon Solomon

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (New York: Nation Books; 512 pp. 2009. $28.95) may be the last book we'll ever get from John Ross (Mar. 11, 1938 - Jan. 17, 2011). Little known outside left-wing political circles, Ross grew up aspiring to be the last of the Beat poets in New York City's Greenwich Village. In 1959, Ross burned his draft card and went to live in the historical district of Mexico City. From that base he traveled throughout Latin America and reported events as a freelance journalist for the remainder of his life. In addition to newspaper, magazine, and wire-service reportage, he wrote something like 10 books about the people and the politics of Latin America.

El Monstruo (The Monster) will pass for a wild man's history of the capital of Mexico and Mexican presidential politics. Starting with the Aztecs' founding of Mexico City and perpetual rape of their neighbors, Ross's account takes us forward to the looting of Mexico under corrupt, present-day leaders such as Vincente Fox and Felipe Calderon. Across 452 pages of street-smart narration, readers learn of many interesting things: Aztec cannibalism; Mexico's love-hate relationship with the Roman Catholic Church; Pancho Villa's boys turned nunneries into whorehouses; origins of the term gringo; tactics employed by striking Mexican workers, to name just a few. Some of those things are even useful: Mexico recruits police officers from its prison population, which explains the absolute police corruption that characterizes Mexican law enforcement and does much to shape Mexican society. Mexican police officers deal drugs, do robberies, kidnappings and extortion. They terrorize debtor families when they act as repo agents for corrupt Mexican banks. There is much, much more. Anybody wants the dirt and the jokes on Mexico will find loads of such provender in El Monstruo. For certain, reading Ross gives one an appreciation for the extraordinary courage, humor, and resilience of the Mexican people, assets without which nobody could bear up under the burdens imposed by such rampant mal gobierno.

Author Ross, of course, was an old beatnik. His style delights those who like hepcat jive, taberna gossip, and a mean eye for the nut of any situation. The tone calls to mind a hardcase American expatriate being debriefed by a journalist. Think Fred C. Dobbs and Hunter S. Thompson knockin' down mezcal shooters while they beef Mexican history and current events. That's the kind of juice that stains the pages of El Monstruo.

Though it is informal history (no footnotes), the bulk of El Monstruo is undeniably factual. Insignificant bits of it may not be so, but it isn't hard to sort them out. "Pancho Villa sodomized nuns" (p. 155) for instance, is one of the "facts" about Villa that may be moot. Ross may have thrown it in for added color, though I think it unlikely that he did so because the last thing El Monstruo (or Pancho Villa) needs is more color. Besides -- given the content and the heft of Ross's works-consulted list (p. 471) -- I'm neither brave enough nor inclined to assert that anything in this book is either a lie or a mistake.

For this writer, the only downside is that the pace of Ross's narration seems to flag in a couple of places. How much that has to do with the fact that Mr. Ross was struggling with terminal cancer while he finished this book is a thing I do not know as I write. What I do know is that signs of stress I believe I saw in a couple of passages do not in any way detract from the readability of the book.

Solomon sez: All in all, El Monstruo is an informative read, a spicy-hot bowl of journalistic menudo, and a helluva lot of fun. Don't miss this one, folks!

PFC Liberty Stryker
Peggy Tibbetts
Sisterhood Publications
180 N. 1100 East, Washington, Utah 84780
9780967786841, $12.99,

Katie French

"PFC Liberty Stryker" by Peggy Tibbetts grabs you right from the start and does not let go. The story opens with Libby Stryker in a military convoy in Iraq. The swearing, lingo-talking Libby fits in with her male counterparts right from the start. It's clear she has a lot to prove and prove it she will. Her past has been rocky, including her father's death at the Pentagon during 911 and sexual assault by superiors once enlisted. You can't help but feel sympathetic for Libby and situation. And you understand her motives for going to war and risking her life. You are ready to go along for the ride with Libby through the dangerous streets of Baghdad.

The thing I appreciated the most about this book is the amount of extensive research that went into its creation. While reading it I kept thinking it seemed like a direct account from someone who'd been on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The lingo, acronyms and small details (things like the food they ate or the Iraqi slang they used) seemed too real to me. I love books that transport you to a new world and let you learn something about the world in which we live. This book did just that.

Overall, even though this book is outside the normal genre in which I read, I found myself enjoying it and learning from it. War is compelling and Tibbetts does her all to take us there. It is suitable for mature teens and adults for language, violence and references to rape.

Night of the Humpbacked Moon
Lois Wells Santalo
1663 Liberty Drive, suite 200
Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9781475933253, $19.95,

Melanie Thompson

These days there is such a plethora of murder mysteries available on TV that sometimes it hardly seems worthwhile for authors to write books in the genre. Fortunately, there are still a few things books can do which TV cannot. Books can explore character in depth while taking us through the protagonists' experiences, letting us live alternate lives in a way that TV viewing can never capture.

This is particularly true of the work of author Lois Santalo, who writes character-driven novels. Her sleuth, Jill Szekely, is a real and believable person, a newly graduated social worker and the wife of a wannabe concert pianist struggling to support his family in a post-war era when women are not warmly welcomed in the workplace. Jill has much to cope with apart from the fact that she is new to her job, trying hard to translate the book learning of her student days into action appropriate to her working days.

The Szekelys (pronounced SAYkelly) arrive in San Diego for Jill's first professional role as Acting Director of the EsCa (the Estelle Carruthers Home for Women), an institution established during World War II for Navy Wives stranded when their husbands shipped out for lengthy overseas deployment. After the war the place had lost its reason for being when the Navy established its own aid programs for families. Now, with the war decade ending, it seeks a new mission to women of the community. Will it focus on battered wives, runaway teenagers, or women newly on their own after a divorce? Currently, it houses some women in each category, while it flounders in an attempt to find a direction.

Then the patron and donor of the house is murdered. While still struggling to learn her job and handle rebellious young people, Jill must cope with police eyeing everyone associated with the EsCa - residents, staff, and neighbors - with suspicion. She must take on the job of sleuth together with that of Director.

Even though Jill has some experience at solving mysteries, the task is a daunting one. There are sixteen women living in the house, including eight teenagers, two of whom are angry and rebellious, with a third one threatening to join their ranks. There is a new arrival who doesn't seem to be the person she claims to be. There are staff members who show signs of mental deterioration. And there are neighbors angry over the whole idea of having a women's shelter in their neighborhood. Jill sees indications of plots among residents and staff. It's hard to know where to begin looking for a murderer, and even harder to sort through the tangled web that unfolds as she goes.

With a controversial person as victim, seen by some as the rescuer of women and by others as a gold digger, friend of Hollywood actors, Queen of the Del Mar racetrack, the deceased is as much a mystery woman as are her possible killers. No ordinary murder story, this book is a study of complex people from various backgrounds thrown together in an unusual setting that provides opportunities for making new lives for themselves, not always legitimately.

Lois Santalo is a fine writer who has been praised for her gifted use of the English language and her story-telling talents. She knows her material intimately after having worked as night director at a women's shelter. The book is highly recommended.

The Scarlet Omen
Cinthia Koeksal
Parker Publishing, Inc.
12523 Limonite Avenue, Suite #440-438
Mira Loma, CA 91752
9781600431166, $13.95,

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Like any normal sixteen-year old, Anjeli Xavier has her share of troubles. She fights with mom. Her boyfriend's parents don't approve of her. She is also plagued by dreams and visions of vampires and evil spirits. But Anjeli lives in the magical and superstitious land of Malaysia where creatures can materialize in broad daylight to haunt their victims.

At her sister Priya's wedding, Angjeli falls head over heels for the groom's brother Mark. But not long after the wedding her mother dies from a heart attack. Wracked with guilt and grief, Anjeli sinks into a deep depression. Mark convinces her that a trip to Kuching in Borneo, where she lived as a young child with her mother, will re-kindle happier memories. On a mountain hiking trip, Anjeli slips and falls during a torrential rainstorm and loses her way. She seeks shelter in a cave which turns out to be the doorway to the mysterious land of Lembah Kenyalang.

There Anjeli discovers the world of her dreams and visions which is populated with a talking bear and cobra, a blind catfish, dragons, fairies, mermaids, miniature elephants, blue baboons, plus hundreds more exotic creatures and unusual spirits. Yet an unspeakable evil threatens this mythical land. The Blood Witch and her daughter, Lady Suriya rule the skies with their armies of Pontianak Susu - the vampires. The inhabitants of Lembah Kenyalang believe Anjeli is the Nirupita, the chosen one who has come to fulfill the prophecy. But Anjeli is not convinced. The handsome Prince Kayanya of the Lake People persuades her to join him in defeating the armies of vampires. Will Anjeli fulfill her destiny or fall victim to Suriya's spells?

"The Scarlet Omen" transports readers on a fantastic journey to Malaysia and beyond. Cinthia Koeksal cleverly weaves ancient myth into a thoroughly modern teen's life to create an engrossing supernatural saga. Readers will be spellbound and will want to learn more about the mystical wonders of Lembah Kenyalang.

Ann's Bookshelf

Buddhaland Brooklyn
Richard. C. Morais
Allen & Unwin
81 Alexander St. Crows Nest, NSW 2065, Australia
9781743312957, A$29.99
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., NY, NY 10020
9781451669220, $25.00,

Buddhaland Brooklyn is the story of a middle-aged, Japanese Buddhist priest, Seido Oda, who, after a quiet life creating and teaching art in his mountainside monastery in Japan, is suddenly sent to New York to lead a group of American believers and to manage the construction of a new Buddhist temple there.

Seido Oda tells his own story and it is soon apparent that he is not a man who will adapt to change easily. Culture shock is, of course, inevitable. He has to learn to cope with the boldness, variety and energy of Americans, and there is confusion and humour to be found in misunderstandings of language and situations, but that is not unusual. What is more unusual are his encounters with the various members of his new 'flock'. Often their behaviour offends his Japanese sensibilities but he must also learn to cope with their idiosyncratic interpretations of Buddhism.

Richard Morais set himself a difficult challenge when, as an American with no Japanese ancestry, he chose to write as a Japanese Buddhist priest. Not only does he try to convey the family life and the cultural milieu in which Seido Oda grew up, he also writes an insider's view of the Buddhist Headwaters Sect in which his priest lives from the age of eleven. It helps that the sect is Morais' own invention and that modern life has impinged on it in many ways, but I did not always find his interpretation of either of these two cultures convincing. Even the frequent use of Japanese words and phrases, references to famous Japanese art works and a scattering of haiku by Basho and Issa, seemed to me to be contrived, rather than a natural part of Seido Oda's life. Nevertheless, Morais tells a good story and his many American characters are vividly drawn and often funny.

Reverend Oda is a likeable character, even in his stolid acceptance of the foibles of his American 'Believers'. "How could I explain", he comments after meeting Arthur Symes, an elevator-sales magnate, "that increased elevator sales were not proof that Buddhist prayers worked". He faces a variety of predicaments, including the suicide of a mentally disturbed young man he had tried to help, and he learns much about America and about himself in the process.

Morais' descriptive writing is often evocative and beautiful, and his extensive study of Buddhist texts is apparent from his acknowledgments pages, but this is not a serious novel about religion or culture. It is a simple, very human story of Seido Oda's life and experiences. If Morais does have any message for us, it is in Seido Oda's own acceptance of his fate. "The life of man is like a ball in the river", he tells us at the beginning of the book, "the Buddhist texts state - no matter what our will wants or desires, we are swept along by an invisible current that finally delivers us to the limitless expanse of the black sea". And at the end of the book, as an elderly man looking back over the life he has just described for us and musing on his struggles, he concludes: "I now believe enlightenment is a simple state: it is the ability to suffer what there is to suffer; it is the ability to enjoy what there is to enjoy. To understand that, truly, is enlightenment.

Craig Taylor
9781847083296, A$24.00
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062005854, $29.99,

Craig Taylor is Canadian, but after living for several years in London and growing attached to the place he began to ask "What is a Londoner?". It seems that there are almost as many answers to that question as there are people living in London but my favourite is that " a real Londoner would never, ever, ever eat at one of those bloody Angus bloody Steak Houses in the West End". I like it, firstly, because I grew up in London before there ever was an Angus Steak House in the West End; and secondly, because I have never, ever, ever eaten in one. However, I am sure there must be some Londoners who have.

In search of an answer, Craig Taylor interviewed some 200 people all over London and even some who had left London to live elsewhere. He interviewed anyone and everyone, from those in high places (and not just workers in the office towers at Canary Wharf but also high office holders like the Under-Sheriff and Secondary of London), to a street sweeper, a manicurist, and, of course, one or two taxi drivers. Tourists, immigrants, those who love London and those who hate it; teacher, squatter, Wiccan priestess, hedge-fund manager, currency trader, a couple who live in the Tower of London (try ordering a take-away Pizza from that address!), people in the arts, market traders, nurses, all have a voice in this book. We hear their language, their opinions, their likes and dislikes.

Even as a Londoner, I learned things I didn't know before and had glimpses of life in London which I hardly knew existed. I learned, for example, that around the back of the Planetarium, just off Baker Street, there is a block of flats with a whole set of train parts stuck into the top of the building. And I learned that according to Mistress Absolute, a dominatrix, London is one of the kinkiest cities in the world. I was fascinated by the funeral director's account of the changes in his profession which immigrants to his local area have caused; and by the career change which brought London its only black, dread-locked, female plumber. I was also intrigued to hear from fast-talking, fashion conscious "Smartie", an East-Ender who conned his way onto the bank's market trading floor by making up his c.v. and who reckons that half the traders in the futures market (the best ones, of course) were originally barrow boys who "came from market stalls...were rough and ready...edgy...streetwise, and "who could add up numbers easily".

There is such variety and so much interest in the eighty accounts in this book that it is hard to pick out favourites. It is, in fact, just like London: full of life and spirit, full of the varied people who generate energy and excitement, and full of ordinary people who keep the whole city running. The sub-title of the book says it all: The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long For It - Londoners.

The Jaguar's Dream
John Kinsella
Alma Books Ltd.
London House
243-253 Lower Mortlake Road, Richmond
Surrey TW9 2LL, United Kingdom
978184668187 9, A$24.99, $16.95,

This book of poems is described in the press release as "A personal journey through the works of poets that most influenced Kinsella's work". Kinsella himself describes it as "creating responses, translations, versions, distractions, takes, adaptations and interpolations". He goes on to say that "the poems are 'my' poems in so far as my own biography and experiences necessarily inform their references, conceits and dynamic responses". The book is, he says, "an attempt to bring the work of poets from other languages I admire into the language I speak and think with most days".

Sadly, this turns out to be a book for specialists. If you can understand the Latin titles and fragments of Latin text; if you are very familiar with the stories told by Virgil and Ovid and with the background in which Apollinaire and Tristan Tzara wrote their poems; and if you are happy to look up translations of the works of less well-known poets from Classical times to the 20th Century (most of which are easily available on the Internet), then this book may be for you. If not, you are likely to feel, at best, baffled; at worst, excluded from some elitist intellectual club where such things are considered to be the norm.

Some of the poems do stand alone with no need for recourse to the work which inspired them or to the mythologies or poetic 'fashions', times or cultures in which the originals were written. Those poems which work best and show Kinsella's own poetic style best, are his versions of Book VI of Virgil's Aeneid, where he transposes the story of Aeneas's journey through the underworld to the Wheatbelt of Western Australia, via the Nullabor, the Great Australian Bight and Mount Magnet. Two of these poems, in particular, reflect Kinsella's usual ecological concerns and are fine original poems: 'On the devastating fallout of the war waged by humans around the earth as witnessed in the Chittering Valley', (which has a dedication 'for Cate Blanchett'); and 'Two gates of sleep: Death of trees in catchment'.

At the opposite extreme to these poems, Kinsella's 'Approximation: Extracted Ode to Tzara' is as meaningless to me as any other Dadaist random compilation of words. And his 'Zone (Echidna): A Take on Apollinaire' is certainly 'Surrealist' but unlike Apollinaire's 'Zone' it has no coherent meaning that I can divine. As to Kinsella's excursion into Villon's 'Jargon Poems', which he tells us were described by the London 'Daily News' in 1895 as being as obscure to the ordinary reader of French "as if the language was Coptic or Romany, Basque or Gaelic", I was equally lost by Kinsella's English 'translations'.

The Jaguar's Dream is an attractive title. Unusually for me, page after page of my review copy of the book now had scribbled comments in the margins: question marks; exact translations of Latin and French phrases (which I had to look up); fragments of mythology (which I also had to look up); expressions of puzzlement, exclamation marks and underlining when I was lost to understanding the meaning or the syntax. I am no stranger to complex poetry and I am always ready to discover something new. I began the book hoping that Kinsella's stated aim of introducing the reader to some lesser-known poets would lead me to some inspiring new work but I was disappointed.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Applegate's Bookshelf

For Keeps
Aaron P. Lazar
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
9781606191743, Kindle eBook $ 2.99

Paranormal: a mystery without scientific explanation

Dictionaries define "paranormal" in terms such as "purportedly supernatural phenomena," or "claimed occurrence." When you have finished For Keeps, the latest offering in Lazar's Sam Moore paranormal series, you might find yourself agreeing with Shakespeare's Hamlet that indeed there is more in heaven and earth than we dream of in our philosophies.

For Keeps opens a mysterious doorway into the past

Sam, a physician now retired and looking forward to spending much of his time in his garden among his beloved flowers, can do something many people over the centuries have dreamed of doing. He has found a doorway to the past. Well, not the past in the historic sense, but rather in the most personal sense, his own past - and in an unusual form, a green marble which connects Sam to his long-dead younger brother, Billy.

The mystery begins: Who is this woman?

Sam gets a call from his old friend and one-time fellow medical student, Louise Reardon, now the local coroner. A woman staying at the historic Twin Sisters Inn has been found dead in her room, beaten to death. Lou has called Sam to the scene in the hope that he will recognize the woman, because a local telephone book is lying open on the desk in the victim's room; Sam's name and address is circled on the opened page.

The mystery continues: What connection can there be?

Sam, relieved that he isn't a suspect, agrees to look at the victim, in case he can identify her. He looks, at first without recognition. Then he spots a topaz ring on her right hand and, suddenly, with a sense of shock and horror, he remembers the woman. And he remembers spring break of his last year of medical school. A sexy, attractive young woman named Ginger. A brief but intense fling.

Now, after these many years, Ginger has reappeared in his life in the worst possible manner. Dead. Murdered. Why? Why here, why now? On the way to finding answers to why this woman has turned up at his doorstep, and who has killed her, Sam get caught in the midst of more murder most foul. Ginger is not the last victim, there are others who are part of Sam's life today.

The green marble - and Billy - again show the way

Sam is a man who, although he has run a busy and successful medical practice, has always kept his family at the center of his life. His family, his garden, his flowers and his friends are where his happiness lies, the places where he can almost forget the tragedies of his youth. Now, in retirement, Sam is suddenly pulled back into the past. His brother Billy, long-dead, has come back to a kind of life through the green marble Sam keeps in his pocket.

Lazar's use of the green marble - and Billy - is masterful

Lazar moves Sam back and forth between the past and the present as his life seems to fall apart. Piece by piece, as each part of his past his revealed to bear in some way on the present trouble, Sam loses much of what he has loved and begins to mistrust his own feelings. At the same time, Billy, also piece by piece and bit by bit, helps Sam find the way to the solution of the many mysteries Lazar has put before him.

Lazar gives the reader a roller-coaster ride, and surprise

I don't believe anyone can read this novel without recognizing the pain and fright that besets Sam during the worst of his travails. When it seems the worst has happened, it hasn't. And on top of all that misery heaped upon Sam, Lazar has set us up for a compelling twist at the end. When I read a mystery (probably many mystery readers do the same), I challenge myself to stay a step ahead of the writer and at the same time I love it when the writer surprises me. Lazar surprised me.

For Keeps is a keeper

For Keeps is entertaining, touching, just the right amount of thrills, and an ultimately sweet story with characters who act consistently when that's called for, and do the unexpected when that moves the story forward.

Lazar is perfecting the use of paranormal "events" and "occurrences" and "phenomena" as he moves through his series of paranormal tales. His deft handling of the subject makes the paranormal, although always mysterious, seem almost, well, normal.

I recommend For Keeps highly. A fine read.

Bones are Forever
Kathy Reichs
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439112823, Nook eBook $ 12.99, Hardcover $21.59

Kathy Reichs' qualifications to write a forensic mystery are exceptional:

A forensic anthropologist certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology

Has worked in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina

Works in the office of the medical examiner in Quebec, Canada

Professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Award-winning author of many books related to forensic anthropology

The first mystery in Bones are Forever is about the babies

Reichs creates a host of interconnected mysteries in this book, and, take warning: She writes without mercy. Her descriptions of the conditions of three dead babies set the tone for the rest of the book. A reader looking for an easy, just-before-bed-and-then-sleep-well kind of novel should look elsewhere. Bones are Forever pulls no punches.

Mysteries, questions of many kinds flow in and out as the story proceeds Who are these babies? How did they die? Were they killed, or were the deaths natural? Temperance Brennan sets out to answer these questions. As the search for answers grows increasingly complex to a growing list of questions, Tempe uses not just her well-honed technical skills, but her intuitive and trained ability to think beyond the obvious.

Canada provides a fascinating background for this story. It begins in urban areas such as Edmonton, Alberta, in western Canada, and concludes in the Northwest Territories, a vast spread that is home to indigenous peoples, yet has large unpopulated areas, as well as gold mines unused since Gold Rush days. A small town called Yellowknife is the center of much of the action. An unusual cast of characters adds mystery

A reader needs to pay attention as the story progresses. Reichs has the perfect situation for misdirection since her characters are gathered from a wide area, have all sorts of jobs, some have no visible means of support but seem to get by, many share intermixed familial relationships and may very well be co-plotters. She creates unusual situations for her characters and develops complicated and surprising relationships. Plots and counterplots make following the threads as they are knitted together both challenging and engrossing.

Mounties, cops, officials of many and conflicting ranks Officers of various ranks and from different jurisdictions - local, provincial, Royal Canadian Mounted Police among them - descend on the town, adding to the confusion. Tempe must take care not to step on toes, so that she can do what needs to be done, despite threats and restrictions from not just police agencies, but her own associates. Two men from her past are working the case - or cases - with her. Their past relationships interfere with their present tasks, adding another layer of complexity for Tempe. Murders continue, Tempe herself is attacked.

As murders continue to happen, some seemingly unrelated, Tempe realizes that there are basic assumptions leading her in wrong direction. She begins to peel away layers, untangle relationships, follow circuitous plots, and question assumptions. Then, in a shocking development, she is personally attacked - from a completely unexpected direction. Science is another character in this book

Reichs adds reality to her story with vivid and detailed descriptions of her work identifying the sources of all sorts of body parts, from desiccated bodies and skeletons to bones in bits and pieces.

In Bones are Forever the reader gets an almost master's degree level education in the development of diamonds and diamond "pipes." I found the discussion fascinating, although I was occasionally tempted to skip over some of it, not having the scientific mind that Reichs (and Temperance Brennan) have. But it was definitely worth it, not just as an integral part of the story, but as some new information to mull over on a rainy Saturday. Bones are Forever is a fine novel, a thriller that does exactly that. I recommend spending some time with Temperance as she solves this complex and highly entertaining tale.

Kathy Reichs delivers as promised!

Marcia K. Applegate

Bethany's Bookshelf

Ice on the Grapevine
R.E. Donald
Proud Horse Publishing
9780988111813 $14.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

A 2012 Global Ebook Awards finalist (also available in a trade paperback edition), Ice on the Grapevine: A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery is a tense murder mystery featuring tough-minded ex-homicide detective turned eighteen-wheel truck driver Hunter Rayne. When the frozen remains of an unfortunate victim are found just south of Grapevine Pass, Rayne is called upon to defend a truck-driving newlywed couple who are the prime murder suspects. The couple refuse to speak in their own defense, and the circumstantial evidence looks grim. But the deceased had so many enemies; untangling the truth of what happened will take not only careful sleuthing, but also fierce clashes of will with stubborn lawmen! Ice on the Grapevine is a riveting mystery that will keep the reader guessing to the very end. Also highly recommended is the Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery "Slow Curve on the Coquihalla" (9780988111806, $13.95 pbk / $4.99 Kindle), in which Rayne works with an outlaw biker friend to stop an illegal smuggling ring - only to face the terrible risk of betrayal by his own man on the inside!

My Life And Times as A Postal Worker
Warren Pearlman
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468553819, $19.95,

The post office is consistently under fire, and few understand the pressures from within. "My Life and Times as a Postal Worker" is a memoir from Warren Pearlman as he presents a delve into recent history from the perspective of a life long postal worker in management of many offices as a clerk and union officer. "My Life and Times as a Postal Worker" is a fine read with plenty to consider about the future of the postal service.

Drawing for All It's Worth
Charles Staats Jr
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432728366, $24.95,

Drawing allows others to see the world through your eyes. "Drawing for All It's Worth" is a guide to exploring one's own artistic potential and embrace drawing as an art form with the many side benefits that go along with it. Insightful and recommended for those who want to discover a potential talent, "Drawing for All It's Worth" is to be considered for would be amateur artists, recommended.

For My Daughter
Eric M. Strumpf
Introspective Press
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780985232306, $15.99,

A daughter faces a rapidly changing world, a world different from any woman before her. "For My Daughter: Lessons for Life's Journey" is a parenting memoir from Eric M. Strumpf, who offers advice for a young girl growing up in the twenty-first century, with the goal of attaining happiness and fulfillment. "For My Daughter" is a moving and recommended pick for parenting collections, for any parent who wants to inspire their daughter to rise up and be the absolute best that they can be.

The Granta Book of the African Short Story
Helon Habila
Granta Books
9781847082473, $27.95,

The cultures of the world have their own takes on the many common legends between us all. "The Granta Book of the African Short Story" is a collection of short fiction drawing from writers from every area of the continent. and capturing the spirits of many Africans as they face their nations triumphs and tragedies, with the overlying theme of pushing towards a new and unified Africa of tomorrow. "The Granta Book of the African Short Story" is a literary addition to any international fiction collection looking to expand their offerings from the continent.

Project Moses
Robert B. Lowe
Enzo Publications
9780615614151, $12.95,

Writing about murder is not something that fluff journalist Enzo Lee ever wanted to do. "Project Moses" is a thriller and mystery from Robert B. Lowe. Enzo Lee is ordered by his newspaper boss to investigate a string of deaths. Wanting nothing more than to return to his preferred fluff pieces, Lee helps the case along; in the process he discovers terrible things hidden behind a shroud of secrecy. "Project Moses" is a fast-paced and hard to put down thriller, recommended.

Odyssey of a Gemini
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9780578104362, $17.95,

Every generation has a revolution of its own, and for the baby boomers, it was the 1960s. "Odyssey of a Gemini" is a memoir from 'BK' as he recounts his own experiences sensing the passing of time and life through these very different times in life, and how things have gone very differently than he had hoped. "Odyssey of a Gemini" is a strong addition to any memoir collection with a focus on the sexual revolution the Vietnam war.

The Brazilian Dream
Raphael Rottgen
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468135671, $14.95,

If you have the opportunity, there may be greater opportunity elsewhere. "The Brazilian Dream: How I Left My Finance Job in London and Became an Entrepreneur in Brazil" is a business memoir from Raphael Rottgen as he tells his story of why he chose Brazil for his entrepreneurial choice over America, China, India, Russia, and his native United Kingdom. A blend of business memoir and culture shock, "The Brazilian Dream" is a very much unique read with a good dose of life and business advice, not to be missed.

Women From Venus
Ed Brodow
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781300007128, $15.95,

Decisions we make may change our lives irrevocably. "Women from Venus" is a collection of short fiction from Ed Brodow as he presents many stories of people with serious decisions ahead of them and the aftermath of facing such realities. "Women from Venus" explores many intriguing ideas and is much recommended reading.

Philip Anthony Quinet
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466320307, $9.99,

As we journey through life, we experience many things that alter our course. "Redbone" is a novel from Phillip Anthony Quinet who writes of the journeys of Redmond Bone, a man of the second half of the nineteenth century, finding friends and threats, as well as love and hate. "Redbone" is an exciting novel of the adventure of life in Post-Civil War America.

The Life Squad
Amir Yassai
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781105201042, $12.99,

Life and death ever oppose one another, and some will learn that for life to continue, some will have to die. "The Life Squad" is an urban fantasy follows Adam Bronn, as he copes with the parade of tragedy in his life, feeling as if he's cursed. The lessons he learns in life, he realizes he may be the cause, but he also holds the gift of life and resurrection. But to use this power comes with a great cost, and Adam must make many decisions. "The Life Squad" is an enticing read with plenty of intriguing concepts, highly recommended.

Out of the Box
Julie C. Morse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469759838, $14.95,

Truly remarkable people in our lives can change our world. "Out of the Box: The Mostly True Story of a Mysterious Man" is a dedicated memoir from Julie C. Morse who explores the uncle in her life, who helped her through the tough times in her young life as she battled a juvenile arthritis, and let her see the world, and what she knows of this wonderful man who helped her enjoy life. "Out of the Box" is a fine pick for those seeking inspirational memoir of the power of family.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

True Miracles with Genealogy
Anne Bradshaw
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453767115, $9.99,

Genealogy is discovering our own history. "True Miracles with Genealogy: Help from Beyond the Veil" is the first volume of Anne Bradshaw as she compiles stories of people finding out things about themselves and their families that they thought they would never be able to discover, and finding their own bit of divinity in their lives. "True Miracles with Genealogy" is sure to inspire others to find their own life stories, much recommended. Also from Bradshaw, is "True Miracles with Genealogy: Volume Two" (9781466389656, $9.99) providing additional stories on the transformative power of finding one's own roots.

What Happened When Technology Went Before Morality?
Harry Litinas
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9780533163755, $13.95,

Technology has ramped up much in the past hundred years. "What Happened When Technology Went Before Morality?" is a novel from Harry Litinas as he addresses what he believes is a serious issue of unrestrained technology growth without concern for mankind. Presenting a riveting twist of science fiction in the process, "What Happened When Technology Went Before Morality" is worth considering for those seeking a what if scenario of fiction, recommended.

Remember the Music & The City Brigade
Timothy Gerard
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468524215, $14.95,

Friendship and family drive us forward in our lives. "Remember the Music & The City Brigade" is a pair of two stories. 'The City Brigade' follows Ricardo and Peter as they try to find what happened to their old man friend, and find they can solve many problems in their environment. 'The City Brigade' speaks of the family and the relationship of a little girl and her grandfather. "Remember the Music & The City Brigade" is a fine and uplifting pair of reads, recommended.

Life is a Choice
Dr. David Washington
Washington & Co.
9780614552200, $14.99,

Bad choices can come back to haunt us throughout our life. "Life is a Choice: A Guide to Success in Life" is a self-help advisory from Dr. David Washington as he advises readers on how to make better and wiser choices throughout their lives and avoid those that would sink their life in the long term. Good habits that lead to success, is a fine and recommended pick, not to be overlooked.

The Accidental Don
Guy J. Tirondola
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470101046, $9.99,

Who says the might of organized crime only has to be used for profit? "The Accidental Don" follows Don De Luca, who is assumed to have mob ties. With accusations flying, he realizes he has a bit of power in his hands, and has benevolent intent in his schemes, but his benevolence will be challenged by those who aren't so comfortable for new organized crime heads to appear in their territory. A humorous and exciting read, "The Accidental Don" is an exciting read not to be overlooked by those who love the mafia-motif, highly recommended.

Elevating Overman
Bruce Ferber
Fulcort Press
9780985322106, $17.95,

No matter how many bad choices we make in our lives, there's always a chance to try again. "Elevating Overman" is a novel of Ira Overman, a man facing a midlife crisis and trying to find his way through the canyons of life after failures have put him at rock bottom. Finding his calling, he tries to redeem those past bad decisions. "Elevating Overman" is a story of finding redemption in one's life and being meaningful to self and ones that they care for.

Signal to Noise
Jonathan Lyons
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781434867070, $14.95

Music is a grand expression of creativity, constantly alluring those who want to hear more. "Signal to Noise" is a novel following Connor Hegarty, a young man who becomes enraptured with the underground music legend, going deeper and deeper into the culture that comes with it. Drawing heavily on the industrial and hardcore genres of music, "Signal to Noise" is a riveting read that tries to capture the essence of its music in its text, highly recommended.

Don't Call Me Angel
Alicia Wright Brewster
Dragonfairy Press
9780985023034, $6.99,

Those spurned from Heaven do not seek to embrace hell. "Don't Call Me Angel" is the first book in Alicia Wright Brewster's Forsaken series, following fallen angel Six as she seeks to escape Hell and free herself from her responsibilities as an angel. As another angel seems to be committing atrocities though, she has to set things right, with the evil going against her conscience. "Don't Call Me Angel" is a riveting story of the clash of Heaven and Hell with intriguing twists on the characters.

To America - With Profound Gratitude
Reiko McKendry
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468024609, $12.99,

Opportunity, when it comes, is something truly wonderful. "To America - With Profound Gratitude: My Journey to Freedom and Independence" is a memoir of the American dream. Reiko McKendry tells her story of leaving Japan and coming to America in 1972 with her Air Force husband, and finding a completely different world and culture that she had to adapt to, in addition to meeting the challenges of being a new mother. An uplifting tale of success in America, "To America - With Profound Gratitude" is a fine and highly recommended pick for those seeking a charming memoir.

Far Distant Echo
Fred Marks & Jay Timmerman
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533164639, $17.95,

Life's epic journeys are still here, just in places we don't expect. "Far Distant Echo: A Journey by Canoe From Lake Superior to Hudson Bay" is a memoir of Fred Marks & Jay Timmerman as they share their 1400 mile canoe journey between Lake Superior and Hudson Bay, a modern day Odyssey that took them nearly three months and challenged their mettle as outdoors-men. A riveting tale of true adventure, "Far Distant Echo" is a strong addition to general fiction collections, highly recommended.

Robert George-Paul
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781105599200, $22.50,

Harmless fun can become something not so harmless. "Sagasus" follows four college age students as they spend a weekend that will change their lives, and make them quickly learn the sinister nature of the world they sought. Sex, violence, and everything else combine to make "Sagasus" an intriguing read that won't be easy to put down, recommended.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

The Pope's Conspiracy
Lewis M. Weinstein
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475058413, $14.95,

"The Pope's Conspiracy" is the sequel to author Lewis M. Weinstein's early novel "The Heretic" (9781475082845, $24.95) and continues the adventures of Benjamin and Esther Catalan, who have now escaped from the horrors of the Spanish inquisition and are rebuilding their lives as Jews and printers in Florence under the protection and patronage of Lorenzo de Medici. But things go awry when they find themselves caught up in a secret plot other than the Italian Pope Sixtus IV to murder Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano. Of special note is that author Lewis Weinstein Bases his superbly crafted novel on actual historical events, while providing the reader with a true perspective of life in Renaissance Florence at the peak of its artistic and political glory, and the on-going struggle of Jews living in the all to often hostile Christian environment. "The Pope's Conspiracy" is a thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end and especially recommended to fans of superbly crafted historical fiction.

Picasso on a Schedule
Stephen K. Wiggins & Kenneth C. Abernethy
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463772802, $29.95,

Information is the biggest resource of the modern day. "Picasso on a Schedule: The Art and Science of Managing IT" is a guide for creative people who are faced with IT problems management, from dealing with software, organizational issues, building business relationships and more, the writers present a comprehensive and recommended pick for those who want to learn how to manage their business more effectively. "Picasso on a Schedule" is a worthy consideration for those who want to better understand IT and their business problems, highly recommended.

Music Box Dancer
Marc Pietrzykowski
Pski's Porch
9780615652399, $13.00,

Our own life can sometimes be uninteresting, and we can spice it up with our own imagination. "Music Box Dancer" is a novel from Marc Pietrzykowski as he writes of Charlie Price, a man seeking revenge in many ways, both justified and unjustified. With a strong dose of humor of a man with great self importance but an unwillingness to do something about it, "Music Box Dancer" is an excellent and highly recommended pick, not to be missed.

Navigating Infinity
Michael Langthorne
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468176735, $8.95,

As the weight of our parents sins bears down on us, we let it control us in unclear ways. "Navigating Infinity" is a novel from Michael Langthorne who presents a story of Wilbur Topsail, child of an alcoholic growing into an adult, as he tries to find his place in the world and trying to be accepted for who he is. "Navigating Infinity" is an enticing read with a coming of age message that explores the metaphysical and existentialism that many face at one time or another.

Stepping Into the Sunshine
Grace Greenwood
Footsteps Press
9781908867001, $11.30 / 6.99 Brit. pounds,

It's hard to run away, even when everything says you should. "Stepping Into the Sunshine" is a collection of poetry from Grace Greenwood, who dedicates her work to the women who live in darkness and despair of highly abusive relationships and the weight that comes with it. "Stepping Into Sunshine" is a tragic yet much inspired work of poetry, much recommended. "Secretly": Secretly I write/In the dead of night/Afraid to let anyone see/The brilliance which is really me.

When the Hurricane Came
Nechama Liss-Levinson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470082536, $7.99,

Natural disasters can uproot a life, and young folks are often unable to fully understand why. "When the Hurricane Came" is a novella from Nechama Liss-Levinson as she tells the story of young Gertie, as she presents the story of Hurricane Katrina from a youth perspective as Gertie celebrates a Jewish holiday from somewhere she never expected to- not home. "When the Hurricane Came" is a charming and insightful pick, not to be overlooked.

Secret Growth
Benton Savage
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466338913, $9.99,

Sometimes we have to hit the ground to realize we've been falling. "Secret Growth" is a psychological novel telling the story of Arnold Humphrey, a man whose mental illness causes him to plummet, losing his home and everything before being committed to a mental hospital. Author Benton Savage creates a deft story of a man clawing back to health, and makes for an enticing read all the way through. "Secret Growth" is a fine addition to any literary fiction collection.

A Family Survives the Eye of the Storm
Anne Marie Ryan
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468550788, $19.99,

Tragedy often proves a daunting and terrifying thing in our lives. "A Family Survives the Eye of the Storm" is a mother's memoir as Anne Marie Ryan touches on the struggles of her life and how one slew of events pushed her to the brink, and here she shares her experiences of trying to piece her life together once more in spite of it all. "A Family Survives the Eye of the Storm" is a choice addition to memoir and parenting collections.

The Market is Chaos
Steve Burns
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470013264, $6.95,

Marketing has become a war of ideas. "The Market is Chaos: The Tao of Marketing" approaches the ideas of marketing with the ideas of Eastern philosophy to present a new take on marketing, drawing on the works of Lao Tzu and Sun Tzu, using their works in the modern battlefield of marketing and how good marketing can bring out the best for all those involved. "The Market is Chaos" is a fascinating twist of marketing and business, very much recommended.

From Change to Transformation
Om Prakash
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469746579, $20.95,

A good positive mindset can carry us far in our lives. "From Change to Transformation & Beyond: Maintaining Balance on the Fast Track" is a spiritual guide from Om Prakash, who advises readers on how to keep their soul in the often soul crushing world of business. With plenty to ponder and help themselves keep their head straight as they plow up the ranks in the business world, "From Change to Transformation & Beyond" is a strong addition to spirituality and career collections, recommended.

Fish House
Stephen Dougherty
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468053944, $13.75,

Trying to piece one's family back together after neglecting it for so long can be quite the difficult task. "Fish House" follows corporate head Alex Cole as he tries to get out of the game and reconnect with his daughter before it's too late. Moving to a whole new town though throws him at a new dose of life's challenges in a small fishing town, and Alex finds himself diving into the culture headfirst. "Fish House" is a poignant and humorous delve into life, with much to think about - recommended.

Crazy Courage
Samantha Light-Gallagher
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468576061, $14.95,

Widowhood was never meant for the young. "Crazy Courage: A Young Widow's Survival Guide" is a memoir from Samantha Light-Gallagher who recounts her endeavor of her husband facing death by a drunk driver in a line of duty, irrevocably changing her life and trying to build the guts to face the world once more after it took so much from her. "Crazy Courage" is a strong addition to general memoir and grieving collections.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Loser's Memorial
Larry Nocella
QECE Publishing
9780615625553, $15.00,

If there was a noble goal, it may have been lost to the ages. "Loser's Memorial" is a story of the darker side of war, as Larry Nocella writes of Pete, a criminal drafted into the military as a way of escaping his prison sentence. Not the best soldier, Pete slips away, and sees the darker side of the Iraq War, a war fueled by profiteering and military contracts, finding friendship with a Moroccan boy in the process. "Loser's Memorial" is a dark novel that is highly critical of recent events, worth a consideration.

Ashes, Ashes, The Twin Fall Down
Pauline L. Hawkins
Anole Publishing
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9780578105307, $14.95,

9/11 changed everything for America. "Ashes, Ashes: The Twins Fall Down: Twin Towers, 9/11" is a memoir from Pauline L. Hawkins as she shares her personal story of 9/11 and the tumultuous time that followed this tragic event. A personal memoir that will resonate with many readers, "Ashes, Ashes: The Twins Fall Down" is a strong addition to memoir collections centered on tragedy, recommended.

Mariner Valley
James Crawford
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477410219, $10.00,

With all of earth claimed, humanity's lust for conquest turns elsewhere. "Mariner Valley" is a novel of the advancement of the space-faring nations and their struggle for mars. As Mars Police Officer Ben O'Ryan seeks a killer who has fled the American settlement for the other nations foundations, he heads out into the open Martian landscape to chase justice, and all the challenges that follow. Drawing strongly on science, "Mariner Valley" catches an old west style story in Science fiction, highly recommended.

A Promise Made
Marianne Mitchell
Rafter Five Press
9780967349763, $10.00,

For something better, some may have to travel all over the country. "A Promise Made" is a novel following young Petra, fleeing abuse from her family and trying to find her cousin in a mining town. Finding a new career, she finds she can't escape her past forever. A coming of age tale set at the end of the nineteenth century, "A Promise Made" is a riveting dramatic read, much recommended.

Lost Weight, Get Healthy & Be Happy
Douglas Jay Sprung & Denise Sprung
9780578090078, $18.00,

Rice has been a staple food of humanity for thousands of years. "Lose Weight, Get Healthy & Be Happy: The Rice Diet is the Right Diet, For You!" is a guide to the ricer lifestyle, using rice as the foundation of one's diet, and building upon it. With practical advice for general health and weight loss all throughout, authors Douglas Jay Sprung & Denise Sprung present a solid advisory for those who want better health and wellness in their life. "Lose Weight, Get Healthy & Be Happy" is a solid pick for those who are considering the rice diet.

How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life
Sandra Hayes
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467870467, $11.96,

Everyone wishes they could win the lottery, but could it be a situation where they have to be careful what they wish for? "How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life: Windfall, A Blessing or a Curse?" tells the story of Sandra Hayes as she recounts her story of stumbling upon those millions of dollars and what it did for her life, for better or for worse, and her experience on a reality show. "How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life" is a poignant memoir on the true influence of money in our lives.

Self-Esteem in the Workplace
Joseph L. Richardson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453768747, $11.95,

Happy employees are productive employees. "Self-Esteem in the Workplace: The Key to Positive Employee Relations" is a guide to work-place positively and leadership as Joseph L. Richardson advises readers on how to better increase their employees self-esteem and how to morph that self-esteem into greater success. "Self-Esteem" is a choice read for business and inspirational collections.

The Consecrated Cocoon
Ann Thomas
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140
Longwood, FL 32779
9781619968677, $15.99,

Transformation can happen if we're willing to put our minds to it. "The Consecrated Cocoon: Emerging From Intimate Isolation with Power and Purpose" is a Christian inspirational guide from Ann Thomas who advises women to embrace their feet and go into their own cocoon to emerge a more beautiful creature in God's eyes. "The Consecrated Cocoon" is a strong read for the faithful and those willing to embrace transformation, recommended.

Formerly Known as Tank
Ann Miketa
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463768515, $15.00,

Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before clawing our way out of life. "Formerly Known as Tank" is a memoir from Ann Miketa, as she shares her story of spiraling out of control after her family collapses and everything that can go wrong goes wrong, she realizes what happened and tells her story of finding help and the personal willpower needed to succeed once more. "Formerly Known as Tank" is a treasure of a memoir, well worth considering.

January Jackson & Friends
Zonie Felder
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462083558, $13.95,

Lust drives us to the now, and can make us to make some mistakes that last a life time. "January Jackson & Friends" is a collection of stories based in erotica as Zonie Felder writes story of sex and passion, but the betrayal and bad mistakes that can be made during that time. Riveting reading of eroticism, "January Jackson & Friends" is a must for those seeking meaningful erotic fiction.

Little Orphan Andy
Glenn D. Glasgow
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468555301, $14.95,

When our life is rough, we struggle to find the truth through it all. "Little Orphan Andy" follows a young boy as he escapes the harsh reality of his young life. Through his daydreams, he escapes to a whole new world where life may not be so bad for him. "Little Orphan Andy" is a poignant pick for readers of all ages.

Michael J. Carson

Christina's Bookshelf

Eliza's Forever Trees
Stephanie Lisa Tara
Cover Illustration by Alex Walton
Amazon Digital Publishing
9780615426440, $4.99,

Eliza's Forever Trees is both the title of this children's chapter book and the theme. Tara takes a sensitive topic, a sickly young girl dealing with the loss of her mother, and gentles it with talking butterflies, frogs, birds, and other animals. A tender and insightful account that builds as Tara takes frail Eliza, with a heart that produces "wrong beats," out alone in search of her missing mother. Only the creatures of the forest are available to help.

Another topic graces Tara's story, the giant Redwood trees of California, otherwise known as "forever trees" because of their incredibly long life. While turning pages wondering what will happen to young Eliza and how she'll react to learning the truth about her mother, readers also learn about the giant Redwood trees. For instance, they learn that "Redwood trees don't reproduce with seeds like all other trees. When a redwood branch falls onto the soil, it grows a sprout for a new tree, right next to its mother. More of the mother's branches do the same thing and a circle of children grows around her." Eliza explains this to her new friend, a monarch butterfly who accompanies Eliza. "This circle is called a fairy ring," Eliza tells him.

Though this story tries to be light-hearted, the somber situation of the main character and her plight is not. Still, Tara manages to provide enough fun and adventure to keep the book delightful. A heartfelt and quietly wise read.

Gremlins, Genies and Trolls, Oh My!
Francine L. Trevens
Maggie Cousins, Illustrations
TnT classic Books at Smashwords,
9781886586185, $9.95,

Each of the six stories in Trevens's book is entertaining and offers insightful lessons. Not necessarily only for children. Adults two may find themselves reflecting. Using gremlins, genies, and trolls, this author conjures mischievous behavior instead of spiteful. Even the artwork does this.

Treven's insight shines through in a number of ways, displaying insight about the result before writing. Children often find hanging in there difficult for long periods, especially when a lesson is involved. Learning lessons isn't fun. Trevens makes lessons fun and she keeps each short.

"Frank the Prankster" is about the day imps and sprites decide to teach a little boy named Frank a lesson because they believed only they should play pranks, not a human boy.

"Silver and Gold" is about a genie named Megiation who helps Lila, an eleven-year-old girl who is poor. She makes a selfless and simple wish to get her mother a dress. Because Lila and her mother were not greedy, Magiation grants them a miracle and becomes an official genie.

"The Greedy Gremlin" is about a grumbly gremlin that doesn't like to make others miserable. Instead, he does by eating much more than his share. His mother worries about his eating and doesn't like how her son embarrasses her. Georgeele decides to aide his greedy and wasteful brother by casting light on the situation and with a challenge.

"Wood Sprite Woes" is about a wood sprite, Aila, who turns an ogre and a troll who picks on her around. The ogre and troll also intended to harm Aila's tree. This was Aila's beloved home. The ogre and troll are the ones ending up with bumps, bruises, and a lesson.

"Terry the Terrible Troll" is about a grumpy old troll who lives in the base of a smelly rotten tree. Though he doesn't like the smell either, he does like how the smell keeps everyone away. He regularly places flowers in his home to make it look nice and help the smell. One day a flower talks to Terry complaining about how dark and cramped she is. Terry believes the flower is complaining about his home. Eventually, his patience runs out and Terry tares at the flower and then is about to crush it when he gets a surprise.

"Joyous Genie Journeys" is about Magiation, a cadet genie and his teacher, Jairlee. Jairlee had taught many great genies and had helped with many major events through history. At first, the teacher isn't sure if Magiation would make a good genie, but this changes leaving Jairlee impressed. She then considers Magiation for something much more important than the ordinary.

The concept of teaching young people through stories isn't new. Trevens realizes how useful this is however, and decides certain lessons need power. Children identify with characters, learn how to solve problems and to make decisions from them. The positive messages from Gremlins, Genies, and Trolls help develop children's inner voices and sense of justice.

Francis L. Trevens has authored plays, been a columnist, a teacher/dance critic for various newspapers, published work in national magazines, authored eight books, and has wrote segments of McGraw Hills Encyclopedia of World Drama. She's written poetry since the age of twelve and believes she was born to write. Other books include Pixie Tales, Elfin Tales, A Patio of Poems, and Echoes of Eternity.

Maggie Cousins is the illustrator for this book. Each tale has an illustration, some more than that for a total of nine within the book. Cousins is a graduate of Bournemouth College of Art and Design, UK as a graphic designer. She works with clients in both the UK and the US. "I love color and simplicity," she says.

Readers will cheer for and recognize Trevens's characters because gremlins, genies, and trolls pop up in everyone's lives. Each story stands on its own and wisely uses humor to liven up its lesson. A charming and valuable collection.

Walking for Peace, An Inner Journey
Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso
Smashwords Edition
B0086WCIAY, $9.99,

The less traveled path teaches more than the worn one, as Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso learn. After Mony's marriage and life crumbled, she found a deep need for peace, and after not finding it through traditional avenues, she decided to take a non-traditional approach. She'd walk to Jerusalem for peace. Alberto decided he should go too. He couldn't over-look obvious signs. He viewed the walk as a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey. Neither Mony nor Alberto were prepared. Finding peace meant great lessons, not only through exposure to others' views and blockages, but to their own as well. Exposure to various situations and people, to various areas of generosity or lack of, and from allowing the universe to have its way with them and take care of them, or not, brings even more lessons. Lessons of peace and love require a letting go of egos, of protection. Mony especially realizes only then can she recognize truths, only then can she touch and be touched spiritually, only then can she find peace and be the answer--love. To quote a line from a famous song, "Love is the answer," and to quote a popular saying, "Live and let live."

Walking for Peace, An Inner Journey contains examples of awakenings, understandings, lessons, and insight to the human condition. Readers share the "Ah-ha!" moments of Mony in this journaling of sorts and find themselves wanting to share these revelations with others. This book can set readers free from their own blockages, from their need for control themselves and others. Relief and good will, peace and love, and generosity and freedom radiate from this account. To name and share them all seems right and yet the better way is to just read the book.

In the end Mony and Alberto surprise themselves with yet one more truth about love, peace, and freedom. Mony eventually knew Alberto's accompanying her on her journey changed the whole experience for the better. His way of seeing their purpose may have been the same, but his way of going about it was different. At first, Mony wasn't sure Albertos coming was the right decision. He frustrated her so with his ideas and lack of control. He made her feel guilty and at times like a bum. She always paid her way. Alberto helped Mony lose this controlling part of herself and to see it in others. At the end, she worries about losing an ultimate freedom--the loss of her dreams because with love we often throw away our dreams for another's. How does one go about giving and receiving love without sacrificing their total selves? Can one love and find peace without controlling themselves or another, or does the only way to travel and experience the narrow path have to be a lonely one?

Readers cannot help but not help but ask themselves questions. The book's dedication provides more insight to its flavor and message. "To those who do the work of peace--both inner and outer--despite the odds against them. You are not alone."

Readers cannot help but ask themselves how they view not only themselves, but others also. They'll reflect how they view those taking the road less traveled and themselves why they've taken or not taken the less worn road.

Sometimes books come along that speak to us, do more than entertain, Walking for Peace, An Inner Journey is one of them. Most of us have times when people don't understand our choices, try to force their beliefs upon us, try to hold us back from our path, believe our joy disrespectful, and insist on cold, formal rituals, or the so called "safe" road. We try to hear our quiet voice but are afraid because we don't trust it. Mony and Alberto take the road less traveled and at the end find themselves better people. Highly recommended. Poignant. Memorable. Life-changing. Beautiful.

Christina Francine, Reviewer

Christy's Bookshelf

Sin Creek
Susan Whitfield
L&L Dreamspell
9781603183048, $13.95

SBI agent Logan Hunter is called away from her bridal shower to a crime scene where the mutilated body of a UNC Wilmington coed has been discovered. It doesn't take Logan long to learn this young college student had a sordid past tied to pornographers who travel around in vans offering young girls money to be photographed in the nude and holding parties on an elusive ferry featuring drugs and kinky sex. When another young girl's body is found in a dumpster, Logan teams up with an undercover agent who goes by the nickname Crack. Although Crack rubs Logan the wrong way, they make headway in the case, going undercover and trying to infiltrate the pornography ring. In the interim, Logan marries her fiance Chase but the two never seem to find time together as Chase is dealing with a death in his family and Logan's busy with the investigation. When Logan and Crack take drastic measures to catch the pornographer they believe to be the murderer, their plan goes awry and Logan finds herself in mortal danger with no one to help her.

#4 in the Logan Hunter series by Susan Whitfield deals with a troubling issue: college students indulging in pornography to pay for their tuition. Whitfield has obviously done her homework and portrays this gritty, grimy world in all its gruesome reality. Logan is an engaging character, a strong woman with a confident attitude. This well-done mystery moves at a quick pace with enough action and suspense to keep readers quickly turning pages. The unexpected ending is somewhat of a shock although ensures avid interest in the next book in this series.

The Hangman's Daughter
Oliver Potzsch
Amazon Crossing
9781611091496, $40.00,

Jacob Kuisl, a public executioner, called a hangman, lives in a small Bavarian town during the 1600s. Although considered a necessary official, Jacob and his family are ostracized by the townspeople and it is expected that his offspring will marry the children of executioners in nearby towns as no one wants to be part of a hangman's family. When a young boy's body is pulled from the river with a crude tattoo on his back, the town's midwife, who is a friend of Jacob, is arrested and accused of witchcraft. Jacob places her in jail in hopes of keeping her safe from a mob that seems intent upon killing her. Jacob and his friend Simon, a young physician who is considered a dandy by the townspeople, take it upon themselves to conduct their own investigation into the child's death and prove the midwife innocent. When another child's body is found with the same tattoo, Jacob is pressured to torture the midwife to obtain a confession at soon as possible which he puts off by giving the midwife a concoction to sedate her. But politics are at play in this small town and it seems preordained that the midwife will burn for murders she did not commit.

The mystery here is a good one, although the plot, which begins quite interestingly, lags and sputters out. The hangman, who supposedly is intent upon proving the innocence of the midwife, spends most of his time sitting around contemplating or discussing the mystery with Simon. He never seems to be in any sort of hurry to find the murderer although the midwife's days are numbered. Simon plays the dandy well and his relationship with the hangman's daughter carries no chemistry at all. In that regard, the hangman's daughter is only peripherally part of the story; she seems to have no real significance. It could be that the book's slow pace and amateurish writing (at times) are due to translation, but this version does not live up to the hype.

Christy Tillery French

Clark's Bookshelf

A Deadly Draught
Lesley A. Diehl
Mainly Murder Press
9780982589922, $14.95,

Author, Lesley Diehl, is a retired psychology professor who lives in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. She has written four novels and though this is the first of her books, it is a very worthwhile read, which will give you a foundation of her style.

"A Deadly Drought" is about murder, revenge, old secrets and lies. Something sinister is happening in the small community of microbrewers located in upstate New York. Diehl presents an enjoyable mystery with a lively cast of colorful characters who will entertain in a "who done it" fashion.

Heroine, Hera Knightsbridge, runs her own brewery since the death of her father who apparently committed suicide because the business was doing badly. She found brewing was hard work and challenging. Not only was she having money problems, but her and the other brewers were facing a serious drought that could shut them all down.

Complications arose for Hera when she discovers a fellow brewer and a friend of her father murdered in her own brew barn. Even though all the owners were competitors, they were on friendly terms for many years. Things became even worse when Sheriff Jake, a sweetheart from her past, placed Hera at the top of his list of suspects. To complicate matters more, Jake advised her that he believed her father did not commit suicide, but was in fact murdered. Hera and Jake join forces to find out the truth and the plot brews as they try to connect these two murders!

As the list of suspects grew, so did the alibis with no real evidence. The brewers were on edge and Hera's life was in constant danger. There was someone prowling around her barn disrupting her brewing business and drugging her coffee thermos. There was no alternative; Hera started to sleep in her barn.

Strange events occurred in the community. A neighbor's brew barn and home were set on fire and possibly two lives could be lost. An arsonist was now among them, the town was unraveling, suspicious and lies were plenty. Who would do such horrible acts and why?

Even though the odds were against Hera and her fellow brewers, she never gave up in her search for the truth while trying to keep her business afloat, but unfortunately her money was running out and the wells were drying up!

Diehl has well defined the technical aspects of brewing and fracking in a manner that is easy to understand. A close look into the brewing world while mixing it up with a tale of mystery, lies, and revenge guarantees to keep you guessing.

It does not matter whether you like beer or not, "A Deadly Drought" is a page-turner with a good ending. A foamy five star rating is drawn by this draft.

The Lighthouse Road
Peter Geye
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195
Lakewood, CO 80214
9781609530846, $24.95,

Conceptualize that it is the 1890's and you are a single woman traveling from Norway to the new world of America where you have family living outside of Duluth Minnesota. Travel is on a steam ship and you as a Norwegian immigrant do not even speak English! This is that story in "The Lighthouse Road" by Peter Geye.

Arriving in Duluth Thea Eide discovers she has to journey even further to Gunflint, Minnesota a small community that caters to the needs of the loggers who have descended upon the North Woods to harvest trees, which build homes and businesses. Not too long before her arrival, the community realized this industry would grow their rural village into a city.

Peter Geye is an accomplished award-winning author who made his debut with "Safe from the Sea." This current offering exceeds all expectations for his second novel. His choice of language to tell this warm-hearted tale is outstanding. Peter has a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) from the University of New Orleans and his PhD from Western Michigan University. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and continues to live there with his wife and three children.

Do not let the fact of his fine education deter you from reading this book. Peter has constructed a story, which intrigues, mystifies, and entices you to read to the end. He has taken his characters and molded them into being fine upstanding individuals who have a zest for living the good life, even if it is a hardship doing so. Savoring this story is easy since there are many nuances raised by Geye. His choice of words will astound you and many shall have to turn to the dictionary! I know I did!

Odd Eide, the main character, life spans several years. An interesting technique employed by Geye is the movement from 1896 to 1920 in the various chapters. Odd's story is unfolded through the relationship he has with his one true love Rebekah. Odd develops into a master boat builder with extreme attention to detail and perfection. At the same time, he tries to live his life the same way.

Other characters evolve in the story and weave into the life of Odd to demonstrate his naivete with the world around him. Odd's mentor is the owner of several business enterprises in the Gunflint community and raises Odd as if he were his own child after the death of Odd's mother shortly after he was born. However, Odd Eide develops into his own man who makes outstanding decisions that affect the way he shall live in the community.

This is an outstanding tale which will take readers to an often misunderstood region where the rough and tumble meets with gentility! Highly recommended is this 5 star book.

Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, And Getting What You're Worth
Mika Brezinski
Weinstein Books
345 Hudson Street, 13th floor
New York, NY 10014
9781602861602, $15.00,

Men and women in the business world each have uniquely different skills when it comes to asking for a raise in salary. Culture, background, and self-worth play into how each gender will ask for a raise. Mika Brzezinski in her recently published book "Knowing Your Value" relies upon other women in the business world to give their opinions on how to succeed in obtaining more money, better contracts with better perks, and establishing women as equals in the market place.

This is a well written, clear, and definitely a worthwhile aid for women to achieve that well-worn phrase "show me the money." Mika is a co-host on the show "Morning Joe" where she shares the stage with Joe Scarborough in their discussion of issues and meeting with celebrities.

One of the outstanding features that Mika presents is her ability to recognize her failings in negotiations with her bosses at the MSNBC and not earning enough money to compensate her fairly for the 15-hour days she is working. It was not as if they were paying a minimum wage for her efforts, but she felt that she could be earning more.

What Mika found was the glass ceiling was holding her back. As a woman, she found herself at a disadvantage by the management playing her heartstrings as a woman. Mika was told by another woman mid-management representative to be happy with what she was earning and frankly that it was more important to be "liked" than it was to make waves by asking for more money.

Mika has discussions with many women, Chief Operating Officers and other executives throughout the book on various topics relating to relationship in business to the crucial aspect of how to ask for more money and earning what you are worth. This advice is not only useful for women, but men as well. Men and women have different levels of success not only due to abilities, but also due to perceived limits on being able to do the job.

Family and child rearing obligations in some companies limit the ability of the working woman to achieve parity in income with men. Interestingly, Mika discusses that in some companies the relationship with the family and children is a top priority to a happy worker and they have found it enhances the company and the worker providing a win-win situation.

Another interesting side note was how Mika's attitude to her co-host Joe changed. She had discovered Joe had been earning income far greater than she was because of the way he had his contract negotiated. When Joe realized she was upset about the disparity of income, he gave her some of his bonus money to make her happy. Mika became upset and felt that MSNBC should have raised her income, not Joe sharing his with her. However, the difference was when Joe explained to her he knew her value as a co-host and until negotiations could take place with the company, he felt it was a worthwhile investment, which would benefit him in the end by having her stay on the show. He told her he was being selfish. When she realized this, all was rosy once again.

This is an excellent 5-star book, which can enhance your career, and that is why you should read it!

I Talk, You Walk: 40 Years Of Winning Defense Strategies
Thomas P. Casselman
Avery Color Studios
511 D Avenue, Gwinn, MI, 49841
9781892384638, $18.95,

Lawyers love to talk about the cases they have defended and won! Thomas Casselman is not an exception in his book, "I Talk, You Walk," which is a collection of many of the cases he has been involved with throughout his 40 years of practice in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, affectionately called the UP.

There are many cases, which will make you snicker, smile, and empathize with both clients and victims as their tragedies unfold. Casselman has a wonderful sense of humor, which he uses when discussing foibles of his clients, judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement. Each story takes a few pages and is complete.

Tom is whom this book is about, but he has a sidekick who acts as his investigator and private detective. That person is his wife, Rhonda "Goodwin" Casselman. He gives her credit in many of the cases for having discovered defenses and getting evidence to assist him at trial. He gives her full credit for being the professional she has become!

Some of the cases turn on recently discovered evidence. One such case involved his own defense of a speeding ticket issued to him when he was driving a recently acquired car. In preparation for the trial, he studiously learned all about radar. He hoped to defend against allegations made by a State Trooper who claimed he was speeding 65 mph in a 55 mph zone. Casselman asked the trooper to produce his certification for being able to use the radar device, which he promptly did. Casselman discovered the trooper's card was expired by two weeks before issuing the ticket. He promptly moved the court to dismiss the case and he walked because he talked in his own defense!

A sad case took place when a child died from injuries sustained from a logging truck. The driver in obeying the speed laws and those relating to passing school buses was visibly upset when he told his story to Casselman. This lawyer's investigation created a change in the instructions given to school bus drivers who picked-up handicapped children. It no longer was safe to have children cross roads in the face of on-coming traffic without having all flashers illuminated. In addition, whenever possible, drivers were to enter the driveways of their charges to have them board the bus.

Casselman recommends this book to read for all law students attending law school. His motive is not for his self-aggrandizement, but instead to show that not every lawyer was an "A" student in law school. Many successful lawyers are middle of the class, but through perseverance, common sense, and good investigation they can represent clients by winning those tough cases!

This is a five star book that is worthwhile to read and then pass on to those struggling law students to show there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Clark Isaacs

Crocco's Bookshelf

Lakota Woman
Mary Crow Dog
Grove Press
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, 4th floor, New York, NY 10003
0802145426, $14.95,

Re-read 18 years later

I met, Mary Crow Dog, in 1994, at her book signing, in Phoenix, Arizona. I was impressed that Mary took the time to not only sign my book, but she wrote a note and drew a picture. Richard Erdoes accompanied Mary, and he also signed his name under Mary's.

When I read Lakota Woman in 1994, I enjoyed what I learned about the Lakota Sioux Nation's people, customs, and history. Re-reading the book in 2012, I read for a different purpose. I'm writing a historical novel, and need to validate any facts I might include in my book.

Lakota Woman is just as fascinating a read in 1994 as it was today. Mary grew up as a Lakota Sioux on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Much like today, Pine Ridge was poverty stricken. Mary described her life, but she included other American Indians in her book.

She was raised in a one room shack, filled with many family members, with no amenities, much like camping. She described the daily life of Sioux women, and Sioux men, differentiating their roles. Ignorance was bliss for Mary, as she thought this was how everyone lived. She viewed her childhood as happy because she basically had love in her family. Domestic abuse was rampant in reservations, and there were dysfunctional families, as we call them today.

Indian children were sent to boarding school to 'become white', to shed their Indian ways and customs. The students were beaten and punished if they didn't succeed in the daily attempts to change their traditional values. Mary left and became a street smart Sioux, she drank and shoplifted to survive.

As every teenager looked for something to be a part of, Mary joined the AIM (American Indian Movement). She was empathetic to her people and other Indian's struggles and was hungry for knowledge. Mary shared the AIM events with her readers. Not all of it is pretty, by any means, but that is what is so fascinating. It's a first-hand account of what American Indians suffered in the 1970's.

Mary had a baby during the siege at Wounded Knee. Here she met her husband, Leonard Crow Dog; he was a medicine man and a leader, and also had children of his own. She was a naive wife and mother, but she learned how to do both well and stood by her husband during his imprisonment and adversities during these tumultuous times.

The book includes sixteen photos that illustrate traditional customs, and put faces to names and places. Whether you read Lakota Woman to learn about the Lakota Sioux in general, or to obtain precise facts for your own research, it is the perfect book.

It is written on a young adult level, so it's an easy read that any age would enjoy. It's always fun to learn history through reading a story such as Lakota Woman vs. a textbook.

Cheryl Davies
MP Publishing
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B004S7BHYE, $2.99,

A manipulated soap opera, or a controlled reality show?

It's GameWorld, located on a remote island, sometime in the future. It's a place where no one has to lock their doors because nothing bad ever happens. As a matter of fact, everyone must wear a sleep- mask before falling asleep, to stop bad thoughts from entering their minds.

GameWorld is an extremely successful business. The CEO, Madison, is in control, and his employees take orders. The people, or androids, are purchased for entertainment by the wealthy. To receive a birthday gift of a Character for GameWorld, is the best gift ever. Amelia receives just such a gift from her father, her name is Lily.

Lily's husband, Dean, is really a nice guy and a good husband. But his owner, Luke, has a bad day and decides to take his anger out on his Character, Dean. He types in for Dean to cheat on Lily. Sadly, Dean has no control over his programming. Amelia won't have her Character, Lily, hurt in this way. She talks to Madison, and Amelia becomes the first game changer in GameWorld.

To protect Lily, she wants to replace Dean. She is willing to finance the cost of owning a second Character. Madison approves the deal. He feels guilty because GameWorld is a happy place, where people fulfill their fantasies and morals, through their Characters. Very rarely do people type in something bad for their Characters to do, and this is where we realize GameWorld isn't perfect after all. But Amelia wants a perfect man for Lily, and Madison provides her with one. Again she controls Lily's life and her destiny with this new Character, Archie, a perfect man.

What happens to Dean? You must read Automaton to find out! Is he terminated, is he swapped for a twin, is he forced to retire, is retirement a good thing in GameWorld?

I continued to be entertained throughout, Automaton, by Cheryl Davies. I don't know if it's because I don't participate in role playing games or watch reality TV, but whatever the reason, I found the story captivating.

Cheryl Davies writes in a succinct writing style. She doesn't waste words with fluff descriptions. I appreciated reading a well written book applying this style. It served as an example of 'less is more' well done. Every character and scene was flawless in description.

I recommend, Automaton, by Cheryl Davies, for readers of all ages. It will leave you pondering if a GameWorld is in our future!

No Easy Day
Mark Owen
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor
NY, NY 10014-3657
9780525953722, $26.95,

"I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions."

I had mixed feelings about purchasing and reading this book. I saw 'Mark' interviewed, but I wanted to see why a Seal would write a book about a Seal mission. I thought there was a code among the Seals, so I Googled and found this sentence included in the Seals code: "I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions." My concern was about a Seal writing about a Seal mission.

But . . . I admit I was curious, and there is nothing better than reading a first-hand account of any event. I have always respected the Seals for what they do. These men are exceptional American heroes, and I am glad they are working for me every day. Like the title states, Seals have No Easy Day. Therefore, I didn't see the necessity to humanize the Seals in the way 'Mark' did. There was no reason to share their senseless pranks in a book such as this.

'Mark' also states this isn't a political book. Yet, he mentions more than once about the Washington machine (his words) being slow in the decision-making, and how the military doesn't have all they need. He comments on American tax dollars paying for a nice paved road, that isn't in America.

'Mark' describes how he became a Seal; this degraded the Seals high standards, because he makes it sound like he barely made it. I don't understand why he included this detailed information.

After reading, No Easy Day, I'm still not sure why 'Mark' wrote this book. I hope there's nothing more sinister behind it except the monetary gain. No one wants to see repercussions for any of the Seals and their families.

"No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden" was well written, and I did learn a few things from reading, No Easy Day:

Seals should not get married. If the job comes before family, they shouldn't have a family.

I wasn't aware how much the Seals dislike President Obama. Osama Bin Laden was more of a coward than I originally thought.

Mark of the Loon by Molly Greene
Molly R. Greene
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00838H1OY, $0.99,

Great mystery and romance story for the Young Adult reader.

Climbing through a window, late at night, to check out a listing for an English cottage, is what starts Madison on her quest to solve the mystery behind the original owner's past. Madison is a real estate agent who flips houses, because she is afraid of staying in one place. It is the perfect job until she falls in love with this listing.

It isn't an easy purchase, and once she has moved in, the mysteries begin. Hidden keys, and plastered walls hiding secret rooms, intriguing messages, uninvited guests, are all clues to the puzzle. Madison is not alone in this quest; she has several close girlfriends who get involved. Molly Greene describes their close friendship in great detail throughout the story.

Of course, there has to be romance. That's where Cole comes in. Madison is very cautious in her feelings for Cole, and Cole is a patient man, because he falls for her the minute he set eyes on her. He also plays an important role towards the end of the mystery.

There is much going on in Mark of the Loon; the true meaning of friendship, compassion for Madison's deep rooted problems, the blossoming of an innocent romance, the history of the original owners, all leading to the solved mystery.

The story is jam-packed with wordy details and descriptions that impeded my reading. I like to read a book in one sitting, but found I had to take quite a few breaks.

I think Madison's main partner in crime, Gen, would have been sufficient for the story. Less is more, regarding her other friends, because they weren't significant enough, therefore adding to the jam-packed effect.

The ending tied up all the loose ends in a couple of chapters. Sprinkling some of the conclusions a bit throughout the last half of the story, may have allowed the reader more time to appreciate the solving of the mystery.

Molly Greene's imagination is superb. Mystery lovers will certainly enjoy sharing the ride with Madison and her friends solving the mystery of Mark of the Loon.

75x75=Flash Fraction
Helena Mallett
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B0081Q6PG8, $2.99,

This was fascinating!

Well written, well thought out stories, consisting of only 75 words - amazing!

Helena Mallett followed me on Twitter, so I followed back. Of course, I always go to a new follower's site to see what cool writing the author is up to. When I saw this title, I was without question - intrigued.

I sent a tweet to Helena disclosing I was a book reviewer, and without delay she delivered a copy of 75x75=Flash Fraction for my Kindle. I read a few stories and was hooked and curious. So, I sent another tweet and asked her if it was hard to write a story in 75 words.

She tweeted back her answer: "It's a discipline that I love - cutting and honing until there's 75words."

I bet it's a discipline, and Helena Mallett has mastered it. There is a subject for everyone in her collection of 75 stories. It's a fun, quick, easy read, which activates your brain. Loved it!

In Helena's original answer, she shared: "I'm now writing a new book of 75 x 75 word conversations."

I can't wait to read it!

75x75=Flash Fraction is for readers of all ages to enjoy. Love that title!

American Amaranth: Love and World War in the New American Century
J.R. Ortiz
American Amaranth LLC
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B007Q0W5QO, $9.99,

Julian Stansfield is a US Naval officer on a nuclear submarine, his wife Olivia, is a Classic Studies major at Dartmouth. The two share a love most couples only dream about. They have four children, three boys and a girl.

Olivia, being a political exile from Cuba, has an extraordinary love for America. The following is what Olivia inscribed in a large laminated bookmark, to go along with a book she gives to one of her sons for his birthday; it sums up the entire book:

"Love of democracy can be likened to a mother's love for her son. It must be nurtured and protected for all time. Happy birthday, Julius, Love, Mom." With the inscribed bookmark came a single preserved Red Globe Amaranth flower.

Because of Olivia and her family's adversity in Cuba, Julian and their children learn the true meaning of liberty. Their three sons graduate from Annapolis and join the Navy, like their dad, and their daughter becomes a world renowned pianist.

American Amaranth is a novel which begins in the future, 2016. It follows Julian Stansfield in a world war as he is now Director of Naval Intelligence at the Pentagon. He has personal vested interest in the war, because his sons are fighting and his beloved Olivia dies. He makes a promise to bring their boys home safely.

Instead of reading a history book about a war already fought, or in the midst of fighting, American Amaranth is a history book of a future war. We get to experience it through a family's eye. As with any war, it is never a pretty sight.

J.R. Ortiz manages to intertwine the hell of war with the love of his family. It is a well written novel including all the elements of a good story.

Dakota Douglas
Dakota Douglas; 1 edition
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008EKVXB8, $2.99,

The play on the word ANT is very clever. The ants live in InhabitANT. Inhabitants are HesitANT, EXUBERant, and BrilliANT, just to name a few.

The story is a fun adventure for children to read. The ants are very much alike families that deal with similar issues as human beings. In this story, the biggest challenge for the ants is foraging food for InhabitANT, without getting killed by humans, animals, or bullies in their own environment.

While the book is not age coded, and because of its length, children would appreciate the story if it included pictures. The cover page is very enticing and fun and young readers would expect to visualize each unique ant and 'character' in color.

An idea would be to break up the book into smaller stories. There are so many terrific adventures; one adventure a book would be more effective in holding a child's attention.

There are several typos, which cannot occur in a child's book.

ANTics is a subtle and fun way to teach children life's lessons. The story is clever and well written. Pictures accompanying such a character rich story would be an enhancement.

Young readers will be entertained when they choose, ANTics by Dakota Douglas.

Thirty Something (Nothing's How We Dreamed It Would Be)
Filipa Fonseca Silva
Amazon Digital Services, Inc
B008WNPXZE, $0.99,

It must require a certain type of person to enjoy reading, Thirty Something. The story is about a group of unhappy, whiny, old college friends that never stop complaining.

All the characters are dysfunctional, putting on airs, lying to one another; nothing is ever good enough, etc. etc. This plot might be fine if integrated into a piece of writing, but it's quite another story when it is THE story.

I realize the book title depicts exactly what the story is about. However, page after page of every single character whining about their existence, continued to be too excessive.

Readers will recognize it definitely is not what these thirty something characters dreamed their lives would be.

Filipa writes well, and she develops her characters in depth.

Messages from Henry
Rebecca Scarberry
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008CJ1R5S, $0.99,

In reading the book description before 'flying into', Messages from Henry, it states the story is an "edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller." I disagree.

It's about a homing pigeon, named Henry, who tries to save his kidnapped owner, Evelyn. A neighbor, a cop, and Evelyn's son, depend on Henry's notes to locate Evelyn.

A very short book of 'thirty something' pages, a child would enjoy the short tale. In the book description it declares, Messages from Henry, for the twelve and above age group, however, I think it is better suited to the twelve and below age group. There is minimal drama for the twelve and over reader.

Rebecca Scarberry does a wonderful job writing in present tense. I appreciate her writing style.

Messages from Henry, is not an "edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller." However, it is a harmless, cute, little story for young children.

Pyramid of Skulls: A Novel of Timur, Warrior and Emperor
Martin Fruchtman
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B0091XFKHK, $2.99,

I am officially up to speed on Timur, the most sadistic killer of the late 14th and early 15th Century, hence the title, Pyramid of Skulls, which was his trophy.

The story is told through the eyes of Timur's Jewish doctor. It basically consists of a horrific war, a serial killer - killing only one prostitute a day - and typical daily political issues in Timur's court.

There's a lot going on in, Pyramid of Skulls, besides the style (if you will) of war during that era, and way of life. There's philosophy and social issues of the era as in any historical fiction.

If reading between the lines, I wonder if we, as a society today, are any more tolerant than society was in the 14th and 15th Century. Food for thought, if nothing else.

As far as Timur himself, all I got from, Pyramid of Skulls, was his brutality as a leader. As disgusting a man as he was, I wonder what kind of person it takes to become such a man. I mean, it seems he was rather brilliant. To his credit, he did make Samarkand the capital of his empire, where he built a new city and populated it with artisans and craftsmen from all of the places he had conquered. I wonder about this side of him.

I am no expert in this era, or of Timur, hence my deciding to read, Pyramid of Skulls: A Novel of Timur, Warrior and Emperor by Martin Fruchtman. As I stated in the beginning, I'm officially up to speed, and it was a rough read arriving.

Rosemary and Antonio
Marie Fostino
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B0079AKFRW, $0.99,

Rosemary and Antonio is a brief history of the era of prohibition and gangsters, of the 1920's, in Chicago. It's all about the rivalry between Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

Added to the mix of violence is a couple, Rosemary and Antonio, whose story is compared to Romeo and Juliet.

Al Capone is Rosemary's father's cousin, and Antonio works at his father's auto mechanic garage, and repairs Bugs Moran's vehicles. This relationship makes it impossible to continue, as their lives are in danger, because they cannot be seen together.

It was a nice romance story mixed with the violence of the 1920's.

I would have appreciated more of the music scene, as Rosemary and Antonio only visited a club once. It was fun reading and visualizing them dancing to the Jazz era's music.

More of the music scene and less of the violence, would have justified the title, Rosemary and Antonio. After all it wasn't titled, the Chicago era of the 1920's.

The story would have been enhanced as a romantic love story with more of the 1920's music scene, including Rosemary and Antonio.

Marie Fostino exhibits outstanding writing skills and I would like to see her research a historical novel because her attention to detail is recognized.

Ukulele Land
Uke Jackson
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B006H9QZA2, $0.99,

A stage production that I wish I could attend. Ukulele Land is hysterical. Not sure if it was meant to be so funny, but I laughed throughout the book.

A drug company, The Corporation, dictates people take drugs for all kinds of ailments, for example; sexual desire, where sex is illegal. There are Love Police who jail the offenders.

The music is obviously ukulele by Uke Jackson, and his lyrics are funny with specific messages. I understand the lyrics to say; stand up for yourself, and question authority.

It's somewhat of a spoof on the music industry as a whole and of our corporate culture.

There's no way to properly describe this musical without reading the book, Ukulele Land, by Uke Jackson. It is to be enjoyed by imagining the lyrics being sung and the ukulele being played, and the fun characters acting their part.

It is an entertaining read even though we must imagine the musical performed in our minds.

The Moon of Innocence
Uke Jackson
Uke Jackson Entertainment
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B006C4CCXQ, $0.99,

The story takes place in Catalonia, Spain, in 1963. It's far away from the city, and farming is the way of life.

Cesar is an orphan, as his mother dies in childbirth, and he doesn't know his father. He is a budding writer and poet, because he's lucky enough to work for a man who mentors him using books in his home library.

Maria works for Ella (Inglesa) as a maid. She is a seventeen year old virgin, and beautiful, especially to Cesar. He writes poetry to Maria trying to win her love. It takes a while, but eventually Cesar's efforts are rewarded.

In order to see each other, they must sneak around. It is during one late night they manage to finagle, that Maria becomes pregnant. This is where the story is captivating and so much happens, you must quickly read through to the surprise ending.

Uke Jackson writes The Moon of Innocence with a unique style. The beginning of the story is the end of the story, and it is an excellent way to get the reader excited about, The Moon of Innocence.

Jackson develops his characters to be as appealing as his description of the setting. I felt like I was in Ella's living room as well as riding on Cesar's motorbike in the dirt. Always a plus is including history in a good story, and Jackson manages to accomplish this through his characters conversations.

I recommend readers of all ages to take pleasure in reading, The Moon of Innocence, by Uke Jackson.

I do have one question, however, what's with the bear?

Of Stampedes, Runaway Trains, & Riverboat Scoundrels
James O'Donnell
American Book Publishing
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008WZD3KE, $9.85,

If you can't take a trip to Virginia City, the next best thing to do would be to read, Of Stampedes, Runaway Trains, & Riverboat Scoundrels by James O'Donnell.

O'Donnell compiled the Best of the West stories for an entertaining read adding his own twist to the tales. He included, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, and Calamity Jane, just to name a few.

Enjoy your trip Out West!

No Mercy (Sgt Major Crane Story)
Wendy Cartmell
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B0078BFIOC, $0.99,

This short story anthology, No Mercy (Sgt Major Crane Story), begins my introduction to Wendy Cartmell's writing. The book consists of three, quick and easy to read mysteries; No Mercy features, Sergeant Major Crane.

The last story is an autobiographical piece, which I question the author's reason for including it in a mystery anthology.

The mysteries have a ring of familiarity; I have either read similar stories or have viewed comparative TV shows.

I always appreciate the element of surprise in a good mystery. I expected unpredictable endings to the three mysteries; however bleak, I must express disappointment.

The author's writing style is flawless for composing mysteries, and readers will notice her passion. I encourage, Wendy Cartmell, to continue writing mysteries in the future, however, adding originality to her stories.

I recommend, No Mercy (Sgt Major Crane Story)

Tyrker's Tale (The World's Edge Series)
Robin Ingle
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00851Y8YK, $0.99,

One doesn't often think about the Vikings, from tenth century Iceland, so this is a great little story to spark an interest in an area of study, abandoned since the fifth grade.

Tyrker is a thrall, which is a slave, and he is training to be the guard of Eirik the Red's son, Leif Ericson. It's a story, in and of itself, how Tyrker becomes a thrall for Eirik the Red.

In less than twenty pages, Robin Ingle, has managed to write an exceptional, historical, piece of writing. So much occurs in this extremely short story; we get to know Tyrker, we learn about Viking women, slaves and non-slaves, and we are treated to an inside peek into the mind of Eirik the Red.

Tyrker is educating Eirik's sons for combat, as he is a well-rounded man of warfare. He is such an interesting character, with an intriguing love life, and I am eager to read more about Tyrker, in the future.

Tyrker's Tale (The World's Edge Series), is my introduction to Robin Ingle. As a reader of historical fiction, I am thrilled to have stumbled across this author, and I'll be looking for more of her work.

The Sun Zebra
R. Garcia
R. Garcia; 5 edition
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B006AC5FCU, $1.99,

A collection of short stories with unpredictable endings is a description of, The Sun Zebra. If anyone has ever read a review of mine, they know I value unpredictability as the key to great fiction.

The Sun Zebra is a perfect reminder for adults to open their minds and become kids again. To understand events, through the eyes of a child, is a wake-up call to the kid in all adults.

Each story is different, containing the elements of great writing. Nell is a precocious child, who possesses the ability to think critically, and analyze better than most adults. Her father is the epitome of a perfect dad, listening to her and allowing her to think. Her mother is the perfect balance to a loving marriage. Nell is lucky to be a child in this family.

My children are grown up, but this tiny book of wisdom will benefit me to augment my ability to be a better grandmother to my grandson. I thank R. Garcia for writing these pearls in, The Sun Zebra.

Mary Crocco, Reviewer

Daniel's Bookshelf

Private #1 Suspect
James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316097406, $27.99,

I selected this book to catch up on this Patterson series which I started, and I like the fast pace plotting and story-line. Summer time is an excellent time to read his novels because my wife and I are busy with other fun activities like hiking, daily walks, and fairs. We generally do enjoy the out-of-doors. The summers do get hot, so we still like to read under the shade of an umbrella or awning. We do need to take a break from the other things, and a James Patterson book with his co-authors is not really a terrible alternative.

Jack Morgan gets a shock upon returning to his gated Malibu beach house, after a final leg from Stockholm. He was on a three day trip visiting six cities. He has a determined agenda, and crime scene to explain as his friend and ex-lover is now lying dead on his bed. The police have him as their #1 suspect. His friend who is the police chief wipes his hands of the case. The police chief figures if the evidence leads that way, then Morgan is guilty as charged. So the police keep harassing him with their good circumstantial evidence to keep him on a short leash.

Meanwhile while Morgan is the #1 suspect in his former lover's murder, Jack is also pressured into recovering $30 million in stolen pharmaceuticals from one of the mob's undercover trucks. He is also busy in investigating a string of murders in a luxury hotel managed by an attractive manager. He has his plate full, and even more with all of his current struggles in the potential problems in the case against him. His trusted colleagues are threatening to leave Private, and Jack quickly realizes he is under battle with smart and powerful enemies. He has to keep his head cool under fire, and he has to keep the firm handling everything to show strength. He has to do this by managing to hold up all the balls juggling well into the air. He knows only too well, that if he doesn't do that, Private and him might not survive the aftermath with his being accused and of the rest of the firm's future.

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer. His next Private book in the series is Private Games. 11th Suspect is his latest Women's Murder Club book which is currently out at book stores. That book is also written by Maxine Paetro. She is the author of three novels and two works of non-fiction. She is the coauthor of ten books with James Patterson. She has done three of them in the Private series, and seven with the Women's Murder Club series.

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780345528506, $27.00,

I have quite by accident become a fan of Karin Slaughter's novels. I chose a book to purchase out of huge stack of donated books to raise for one of the local libraries bookfair. I haven't read any of her books before that one, and I was so glad I picked it later. Sometimes with the many books I read, I am scattered through many different types of genre'. Science fiction, adventure and my favorite detective crime fiction. I stack her writing right up there with Michael Connelly. I like stories that carry the main characters forward into sequential novels. I prefer to see the history of the character's lives and new situations brought into perspective by the author. Sometimes that introduces some minor characters, and other main characters to place in the novels. I cite more author's doing that for a good reason. It keeps the reader engaged, and the story develops into many different interesting tangents.

Lucy Bennett is on a course of destruction in 1974. She is a street working girl following in the dangerous step of other prostitutes making money for a violent pimp. He has no need for anyone who crosses him or fails to do his biddings. She runs into a strange person who is acting like her life time salvation for her street life, but she finds out he is scarier, after her street encounter. The young prostitute isn't the only victim as more of them start to find out.

In the present year, Will is at odds with Amanda after a victim is found, and she doesn't want him near the crime area. Will is an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Amanda is his superior and mentor with the title of deputy director. It seems the unsolved crimes of yesterday are merging into the crimes of the current time. That meant there were more victims were dying with Will's father released from prison and that meant nothing has changed much throughout all those years.

Will knows his police force's superior Amanda and him are at odds over her stepping over the same territory nearly 40 years ago, when she was a newly recruited detective. The police department at that time had to fill the quotas with women on the force. Amanda Wagner and her partner Evelyn Mitchell were partners. It was not long after, they were investigating a crime of with similar characteristics. They were checking on people in a poor dangerous area. It wasn't long after Amanda joined the force and was partnered up with Evelyn. The case did become the deaths of white prostitutes in that bad section of town near an Union food kitchen. Their tortured bodies were found one by one near an apartment building. It was shared by a number of the street girls. It seems that Amanda and Evelyn are the only ones who care what happened to the young white prostitutes.

The past and present case even has Will's birth and parentage intertwined being his long-held mystery. Those events loomed in the minds of Amanda and Will placing those guilty of the past crimes to justice. These two persistent investigators presently will have to face those demons from their past to prevent an even worse evil from springing back to continue.

Karin Slaughter is the author of twelve novels, and an editor for one book. Her last novel was entitled Fallen, and I have been a regular reader. I first discovered her writing by reading Broken at a library bookfair. I can't wait to catch up on her earlier novels, and with next year's release.

Daniel Allen

Gail's Bookshelf

Walk with Me: Pilgrim's Progress for Married Couples
Annie Wald, Foreword by Eugene H. Peterson
River North
c/o Moody Publishers
820 North LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802405937, $15.99,

Annie Wald's, "Walk with Me: Pilgrim's Progress for Married Couples" is a parable of marriage inspired by John Bunyan's, "Pilgrim's Progress." While Christian's journey in "Pilgrim's Progress" takes him to the Celestial City, Peter and Celeste's journey take them to the "King's City." Their story, while similar to Christian's, is that of two lonely travelers, their relationship, their common struggles, fears, promises and commitments.

Annie starts with Celeste, who journey's from "Slouching City," a town that had forgotten the "King of Love" except for a faithful few, such as Celeste's beloved grandfather. Upon her grandfather's death she finds his copy of the King's guidebook and begins to read. At first the book makes her feel closer to her grandfather. Soon it shapes a growing spiritual hunger and thirst to learn more about the "King and His Son the Servant."

Unlike Celeste, Peter was raised in "Upright Village." His parents had taken him to the "gathering hut" every week where the King's guidebook was read. Peter learned about the King and why his rules should be followed, although Peter's parents never "...ventured onto the King's path themselves...."

Thus begins Annie's powerful allegory of marriage. Partners will see themselves in the actions, words and travels of Celeste and Peter who began their partnership because they each "...felt a deep yearning for a partner..."

The young couple's commitment begins with a ceremony symbolized by a three strand bracelet braided into a cord. The strands signify their shared strength, their shared love and their promise of commitment that becomes a symbolic cord they tie around their wrists.

Their instructor "Devotion" reminds them the bracelet would be "...sensitive to the state of their partnership..." And sometimes the braided cords might even feel like "handcuffs." However, if the cords were ever cut from their wrists there would be "painful wounds" left in their wake.

Readers learn about the "...the basket of remembrance...file of good works...knife of grace...rag of compassion..." and other matters that portray our collective journeys of love and commitment.

Their travels cross territory familiar to us all such as the "...Swamp of Selfishness, Plains of Distance, Way of Winter, Meadows of Intimacy, River of Unfaithfulness and the Valley of Cut Cords..." Their journey reflects many of our own journeys of commitment.

Tell-all chapter titles, such as "Around the Mountains of Maturity...Across the Swamp of Selfishness...Under the Disillusioning Sun...Into the Orchard of Earthly Delights...Along Desolate Canyon to Revenge Chasm...Through the Darkest Night...Up to the Highlands..."

Each one portraying seasons of growth.

Annie's focus is that good partnerships "...double your joys and divide your grief's," if we use our freedom to serve one another in love, however if we don't...that leaves the "Valley of Cut Cords."

John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" became a timeless classic. Annie Wald's, "Walk with me..." deserves a spot on the same shelf. That's powerful praise for a debut book author, even though she has many anthologies and short stories to her credit. This amazing book belongs on every pastor, counselor, married or engaged couple's bookshelf.

Surviving The Church: Restoring Hope To Your Faith
Amy Walker
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432791902, $14.95,

Amy Walker writes about pastors, ministry leaders and volunteers in relation to church "burnout" in her new release, "Surviving the Church." Her descriptive words for symptoms of this all-too-frequent experience are exhaustion, guilt and stress.

If you serve in this type of church "'s all about "the we" she writes, in addition to busyness, long hours, "lists" and "programs" that promise improved relationship with God. However, the result all-too-frequent result is burnout from overworked leadership with too much work, too little time and not enough of God's direction.

In fact, Walker believes "burnout," stress and exhaustion are tools of the enemy (pg. 32) that prevent authentic relationship with God. She also thinks this occurs when churches are so "program oriented" God is left "...out of the equation," relegated to the back burner with little time spent seeking God's direction and will - all in the name of good works.

She wants churches and leadership to "...stop creating programs and start meeting needs," real needs "...through genuine relationships..." with God the top priority among those they work with, serve and help. As opposed to running programs because relationship is the design Jesus and the Disciples modeled for all believers, never programs.

Amy is a "firm believer that God is in the details," however when churches reach out in ministry, leadership should first "...wait to receive from God instead of doing things their way..." (pg. 31)

Chapter three, one of the best chapters in the book, "this way to Burnout Boulevard" lists a summary of burnout symptoms, some of which are lack of joy, absence of God's peace, and judging others, what she calls "roadside signs."

She uses personal anecdotes and real-life examples to illustrate why frustration was checked with 93% of those selected for a sample survey on burnout, with 76% of those who responded listing a personal burnout experience.

Much of what Walker writes about is similar to what happens in many relationships, except the issue here is about spiritual growth and support within the church and church body.

Much of what she recommends is common sense, like better communication and forgiveness. She also lists the following priorities:

Pray and seek God's guidance
Take a break, rest and recuperate before returning to ministry
Make a list of priorities and eliminate activities that take away from listed goals
Don't give up, don't be influenced by others or give in to others demands

Churches were designed to offer the salvation message, be a place of worship and spiritual growth, encouragement and fellowship. Some think of churches as hospitals for the wounded. Yet church attendance and membership are at an all-time low. The author uses this book to question how much of it is caused by personal burnout.

Oh God, Please Teach Me to Pray
Oh God, Please Help Me with My Doubt
Leighann McCoy
c/o Worthy Publishing
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
9781605873718, $11.99,

Leighann McCoy's new "Oh God, Please..." series is for anyone, but especially for those who feel, distant from God, who struggle with doubt, unanswered prayer or catastrophic illness. Leighann's hard won insights and wisdom were earned in the "darkest moments" of her life, moments that she used humor, authenticity and prayer to cope with.

She serves as prayer and women's minister alongside her husband Tom, senior pastor at Thompson Station Church, TN where besides her other duties, she fought and won her first battle with cancer in 2010. Since then she went on to experience "...a flood, a prodigal child, and an unexpected grandchild..." in just the past two years and now - cancer again.

Today she's recovering from surgery that removed a large part of her cancerous liver just as her book series, "Oh God, Please," released with teachings on doubt and prayer. Her messages are fueled from personal experience because she's " the messages..." she writes about.

Readers learn to approach God in prayer with honesty, to "hear" His voice in Scripture and apply what is learned with simple biblical tools. Chapters begin with key Bible verses and include word studies, prayer prompts and questions, enhanced by examples of practical application to real life problems.

Excellent chapter-by chapter appendixes with scripture citations conclude both books and provide blank pages for study notes. I especially liked appendix two, "help me with my doubt" and Leighann's "Praying Scripture" examples. Also, the Bible verses in appendix three that target times of doubt where God's power, concern and love are questioned, "Scriptures for when you doubt."

The other book on prayer, "Teach me to pray," concludes with "how to spend an hour in prayer" using the Lord's Prayer, "praying the names of God...praying in Jesus' name...creating a prayer place..." even a "quiet time recipe" and how to " with trash baskets..."

Everyone experiences that small voice of doubt the enemy plagues God's children with; Leighann teaches how to subdue that voice and learn to hear God's voice. This courageous prayer warrior lives the words she writes. The "Oh God, Please..." series would make a wonderful gift for friend or loved one, as well as an excellent choice for individual or small group study.

Around the Word in 60 Seconds
Mary E. DeMuth
Tyndale Momentum
c/o Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414363929, $14.99,

"Around the Word in 60 Seconds, Around the Word in 60 Seconds: The Ultimate Tween Devotional, Ages 8 and Up" is a pre-teen devotional by bestselling author Mary Demuth in partnership with iShine, the popular Christian media group. Their subtitle, "ultimate tween devotional" targets a market the publisher, author and iShine consider "undeserved" that of tweens.

While there are lots of materials available for children and teenagers, there is little for pre-teens according to Tyndale Momentum. Their research reveals "20 million American kids...ages 7 and 13" spend more than "60 hours" a week with some type of media. That exposure forms children's "values and beliefs" without spiritual influence.

Robert Beeson, founder and chief creative officer of iShine writes, "Tweens form their...sense of values...underlying purpose...popularity... appearance and personal success..." by their use and exposure to media." He started iShine, a faith based "Christian version of Disneyland" in 2008 to afford his pre-teen daughters the choice of an "uplifting media experience."

This devotional, designed and targeted for ages 9-12 provides a 52 week "spiritual roadmap" that teaches pre-teens about Jesus and positive values in a "life-affirming way." Where youth learn Jesus really does change lives, and their lives can be changed too if they follow the "sixty-second time commitments" for 52 weeks in this devotional.

The first day of each week takes a bit longer because DeMuth believes the Bible is better understood "...with a story wrapped around it." Children relate to her brief fictionalized narratives of familiar circumstances they find at home and school, with family and friends.

For example, the lead story is about "grumbling" from the book of Jude where people gripe, complain and flatter themselves. The fictional account concerns eighth-grade Tia who will do anything to be class president. During a candidates assembly she orders everyone to "stand on their feet" egged on by two mean boys beside her on the podium. Amidst loud cheers and clapping Tia's words reveal her motivation when she says, "Now that's power. If you want a powerful president, vote for me."

The story illustrates the young girl's selfish manipulation for power and control. In contrast with the second part of the Jude passage that features encouragement, the Holy Spirit, faith and prayer. The devotion ends by directing readers to pray "...encourage others...tell God your worries, fears and problems...ask for His help and thank Him."

The following days of the week include one short Bible verse with a topical question that encourages "...short, daily interactions with God."

Topics include "filthy lips...liar, liar...betrayal...brag...truth...what to wear...stressed out...insults...fraidy cat...bad influence...finish pleasing" and many more.

The activities, prayers, stories and Scripture reveal who Jesus is, what it means to follow Him and what a "changed heart" really means. I encourage everyone to add this book to their gift list for "the teen or tween" in their lives, perhaps even for Christmas.

Opening Moves: The Bowers Files
Steven James
Signet Select
c/o Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York10014
9780451237767, $9.99,

Steven James, best-selling author of "The Bowers Files" takes readers back to FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers early years in "Opening Moves" a prequel that released Sept 4th. There readers find Bowers working as a homicide detective, ten years before his career as an FBI Special Agent.

James weaves fact and fiction together and uses 1997 Milwaukee, Wisconsin for his setting, just a few years after serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's cannibalistic "...kidnappings and mutilations..." paralyzed the city with fear. At the time, Bowers is a Milwaukee homicide detective involved in a gruesome case that mimics the work of Jeffrey Dahmer. While the homicide squad believes "...a Dahmer copycat is on the loose..." Patrick isn't so sure.

The chilling story opens with Vincent Hayes, an ordinary man on a bizarre assignment that challenges him to his core, an assignment he isn't sure he can complete - yet his choice is unthinkable which leaves him no choice at all.

Vincent had been careful to follow the explicit directions to the "New Territories Pub." He knew he was to look for "...a young black man ...athletic build...and it was supposed to happen at this bar..." What he didn't know was whether he could do it.

Now he pulled the door open and stepped inside, his eyes sweeping the dim room. His fingers again touched the pills in his pocket as he crossed the room repeating to himself: "you can do this; come on, you can do this."

Thus begins Patrick Bowers terrifying new thriller, this time with "...a killer who will stop at nothing to get his message out to the world..." whose irrational crimes may once again paralyze the city with fear. Join James in this fast-moving, intense thriller that has as many demented twists and turns as the crimes themselves to its unforeseen conclusion.

The author writes with authenticity about grisly crimes, despicable evil, justice, hope and love without detailed scenes of blood and gore, use of gutter language or explicit sexual scenes. "...I never glamorize evil, make it look alluring..." says James in a interview. Instead, he shows "...there's a redeemer who's bigger than the evil we're capable of..."

In the C.J. Darlington, interview, James says he wrote "Opening Moves" to "show the genesis of his [Bowers] character...the traits he has...that foreshadow things..." he plans to deal with in future releases, "The King" and "Checkmate." C.J. Darlington:

The author admits "I had nightmares writing this book" in his note to readers. While fiction narratives deal with imaginary evil, incorporating actual crimes didn't "...afford him that option."

I can't recall reading a prequel to an established series before. Yet Darlington's insightful interview provides insights into the author and his creation. Patrick Bowers, the man behind the badge, why he thinks and behaves as he does with a story that questions where sanity leaves off and insanity begins. If you weren't a James fan before, you will be by the time you close the cover.

The Stars Shine Bright, #5 Raleigh Harmon series
Sibella Giorello
Thomas Nelson
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9781595545367, $15.99,

Special Agent, Raleigh Harmon, forensic geologist for the FBI, is suspended without pay after mishandling evidence aboard an Alaskan cruise ship while on vacation with her mother. Her Richmond boss now wants a six-month disciplinary suspension ending with potential termination. However, Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle office, Allen McLeod, sends her on an undercover assignment to Seattle's Emerald Meadows with Special Agent Jack Stephanson as her case agent instead.

McLeod knows Raleigh's mother had a nervous breakdown, that she is the sole support of her family, however his one requirement for the assignment makes Raleigh cringe, "...extra visits with a psychiatrist..." She doesn't know how much more she can handle. Her mother refuses to talk to her after her commitment and her long-distance fiance demands more of her time than she can give; especially now she's undercover. Then the final blows - working with Special Agent Jack Stephenson - AND now - talking with a psychiatrist!

Thus begins book five in the "Raleigh Harmon" series, a stand-alone thriller with an insane narrative of deception and lies that threaten Raleigh's life and career. From her undercover role as niece of Eleanor Anderson who suspects horse races are being fixed, to fighting for the lives of drugged and dying horses and life-threatening horse stall fires. Raleigh is on the verge of uncovering a mysterious, diabolical and lethal plot that includes terrorists.

Giorello writes multi-faceted tales with three-dimensional characters readers come to love and sometimes hate. Her intricate, complicated mysteries continue to unfold page-by-page, while they keep readers in suspense, unable to guess the end until the last page is turned.

Underlying themes of faith, snappy dialogue and quirky characters like eighty-something, Eleanor Anderson prove again that Giorello is a writer to watch. Whether Raleigh deals with Jack's irritating sense of humor and infatuation, her fiance booking an airplane flight so her dog can spend a few minutes with her or dangerous terrorists, arrogant trainers and ugly mobsters, the read is entertaining.

Fascinating geological information about Washington states Puget Sound fault lines, eastern Washington scablands, scenic and beautiful Deception Pass area, encase the story with informative descriptions not commonly found in thriller suspense. I especially enjoyed them because I live in the Pacific Northwest.

Giorello's strong writing continues to flow in book five of the Raleigh Harmon series, each a stand-alone narrative as well as part of a series. Another one not to miss by this engaging author!

Planned Bullyhood
Karen Handel
Howard Books
216 Centerview Dr., Ste. 303
Nashville, TN 37027
9781451697940, $24.99,

Former Komen exec, Karen Handel's, "Planned Bullyhood: The Truth behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure" is an explosive tell-all book. Where she documents an insider account of " Planned Parenthood, in partnership with the liberal establishment, made Komen pay for daring to put its mission above the ideology of the almighty left." According to Karen, this is "...what really happened when the big pink bus collided head-on with the political machine of the left..."

CEO and founder, Nancy Brinker, with Liz Johnson, President of Susan G. Komen hired Karen as a consultant because of her "abilities" and ethical reputation of sound fiscal business practices. The underlying factors were Karen's "...political contacts...with governors and legislative leadership..." Karen accepted the position, Sr. Vice President of Public Policy, never imagining she would resign months later the center of a media firestorm over a "funding dispute."

However, there was far more to her resignation than a simple funding dispute. "That's why I left Komen," she writes, " be free to tell the full and unadulterated truth - not attributed to unnamed sources and distorted by media assumptions and outright lies." Karen's resignation letter, "Political Insider," Jim Galloway:

Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood, agreed upon by the Komen board, Karen, CEO Brinker and President Johnson was the spark that led to the media "firestorm." When Komen considered all their grants, Planned Parenthood's appeared "inconsequential to PPH's $1 billion budget." In addition, Liz was "...weary of the 'pink' being tarnished by Planned Parenthood's controversies..." and scandals that undermined their breast cancer mission.

Karen's task was to implement the revised grant standards January 1, 2012, even though she warned Nancy prior to the November 28th board meeting, "...they couldn't please everyone." That meant Komen's new requirements of "measureable results...higher standards of excellence ..." made Planned Parenthood ineligible because of "...more stringent granting criteria."

This economy inspired decision was then "hijacked for political purposes" and turned into "...a divisive debate on abortion..." Karen found herself and the largest breast cancer charity in the world a pawn in the politically charged "war on women" with Karen, "...the eye of the storm."

Karen's story, from personal notes and recordings of people, meetings and events, reveals extraordinary political influence, favoritism and political correctness. Readers learn why Karen was accused of acting as a "Trojan horse for Republicans, pro-lifers or the Catholic Church...," while conservatives hailed her a "pro-life hero" when she was neither.

Listen to Andrea Mitchell's enraged interview with Komen's CEO and founder, Nancy Brinker, Feb 2, 2012 (left side of review). Why Karen thought Mitchell had a "special dog in the fight," and her interview with Politico: that disclosed the cause of her anger.

Learn about the "gentle-ladies agreement" made with former Pelosi staffer, now Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards and how Richards violated it. How Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman and the Obama administration used PPH's funding withdrawal " distract from its burgeoning problem with Catholic voters over contraception mandates." Why "Catholics, Baptists, and pro-life groups," along with "Senator Marco Rubio" and Lifeway Christian Resources-Southern Baptist Convention" withdrew their support from the breast cancer organization.

When Karen asked friend and former Georgia Attorney General, Mike Bowers about politicians and the dilemma she found herself in, he said, "There are two types [of politicians]...those that become aware of a problem and do nothing...becoming part of the problem; and those who stand up and do whatever it takes to fix the problem."

Karen wanted to be part of the solution, the first step, her costly resignation from Komen. The second is this book where she hopes " stop those who politicize the apolitical...who take hostage those who dare to disagree..." Perhaps when such practices are exposed, the publicity will end the "bullying."

Karen Malec, Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, in an interview with Steven Ertelt, describes it this way: "...Komen's founder, Nancy Goodman Brinker, wilted under pressure and capitulated to her tormenters."

It's a persuasive and fascinating book you must read to judge for yourself the truth of Karen's allegations about what goes on in the name of "election year politics."

Just Along for the Ride
Martha Roddy
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449738488, $13.95,

Martha Roddy first wrote this memoir driven book for "family and friends," where she documents the life of her son Bill and his struggle with colon cancer. The title, "Just Along for the Ride: The Amazing Journey of William Baine Roddy" were words Bill said throughout his battle with the disease when he reminded her, "It's in the Lord's hands, mom."

She presented the book as a "work-in-progress" to the Houston Inspirational Writers Alive!" meeting, where several members said the words carried a "spiritual message worthy of publication." That spiritual message was the unusual relationship Martha saw between sin and cancer, not that one caused the other, but the parallels she saw between them.

This is Martha's story of her 46-year-old son Bill, the similarities she saw between cancer and sin, his faith, God's grace and the disease that took the life of her beloved son. She begins by saying, "We all have the potential for sin." Then explains how some sins like drug use are visible, while other sins, committed behind closed doors, are not. That's how she saw the cancer consuming her son - invisible - hidden - undetected.

In the beginning Bill had few symptoms, the cancer buried deep in his colon, in the same way that sin can be hidden in the heart. If left undetected, both sin and cancer are allowed to grow and become predators, with one destroying the body, the other destroying the soul, which in Bill's case was his body. His soul went to heaven. The correlation between sin and cancer is the "spiritual message" that Martha wants to convey that includes a serious warning about the need for early detection of colon cancer

Early detection of colon cancer is crucial for eradication and healing. Just as "God's Word" applied early and often to sin can restore the soul, colonoscopies are crucial for early detection and restoration of the body. However, after Martha's experience with her son, she believes the "...general public is unaware of the need for early screening."

She would like to see "...visible reminders..." of colon cancer symptoms posted in places commonly "frequented by active men and women." Signs posted that advertise and encourage education about the disease and the need for colonoscopies "...before fifty, at fifty, and after fifty" to avoid the "heartache" of colon cancer which often includes financial destruction.

Her well-researched book includes links to American Cancer Society, Katie Couric's heartbreaking story, the Mayo Clinic:

and more.

Martha's son Bill was "...outspoken about the need for early screening and funding for medical scientists...he left an extraordinary legacy of love and trust in God's will..." that Martha uses to continue his fight against colon cancer.

Several inserts of Bill's pictures from babyhood through adulthood are sprinkled throughout. Each one a testimony of the kind of baby, boy and man Bill Roddy became. Terry Whalin called the book a "...personal call to action for every reader..." in an review: it is that and more...

Found: The Secrets of Crittenden County #3'
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
c/o Harper Collins, 10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
9780062089755, $12.99,

In "Found," the third and final installment of the Amish police procedural, "Secrets of Crittenden County," the author reveals long-awaited answers to the murder of young Perry Bortntrager, broken relationships and other struggles within the quiet Amish community. From Detective Luke Reynolds surprising arrest and his own romance to the causes behind Jacob's struggles with guilt, anger and betrayal and why Jacob and Deborah feel their romantic attraction is unhealthy.

While Jacob is still upset over his father hiring Deborah to work with him at Schrock's Variety Store, his feelings begin to soften when he sees and works with her every day. Soon their conversations, like everyone's in the small town, end with theories about Perry's murder and speculation about who could do such a horrible thing.

Since both Jacob and Deborah know something about Perry's final hours they share what they know, except for Jacob, who is careful not to say too much. He continues to guard a secret. However, their conversations remind them of their lost friendship, their attraction for one another and how much they like being together.

Until Jacob is arrested for the murder of Deborah's brother and she doesn't know who to believe or what to think...

Grey's fully developed characters, relationships and story line give reader's intriguing characters they sometimes love, sometime hate, but always care about. She combines that with a fascinating story that keeps readers involved and guessing to the unforeseen conclusion and it's easy to understand why her fast-paced Amish narratives never disappoint. Although part of a series, the books can be read as stand-alone titles.

Leading from Behind
Richard Miniter
St. Martin's Press
175-5th Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010
9781250016102, $25.99,

Investigative journalist Richard Miniter evaluates the president's leadership style in his August 2012 release, Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisers who Decide for Him". He uses West Wing sources, exclusive interviews and extensive research to document "...six pivotal decisions of the Obama years..." many of which were historical and controversial. There he identifies the president's advisors and influencers to determine " and why the president..." made the decisions he did.

Six of seven chapter headings, "The Women...Health Care, by Hook or Crook...Nothing is Sure but Debt and Taxes...Killing bin Laden Loudly...Israel's Dilemma...Fast and Loose and Furious..." alert readers to chapter contents.

In these segments Miniter builds his case for why he believes or disbelieves the president's governance style is collaborative and inclusive or individualized and isolationist. In simpler terms, whether President Obama acts in a decisive or indecisive manner, something that could be of critical importance with the recent outbreak of violence and unrest in the Middle East. It's also why Miniter believes leadership style is an "essential question" of the 2012 election year.

Readers learn the part Speaker Nancy Pelosi played in Obama care, Wall Street reforms, the causes and "deals" of a paralyzed, "contentious" Congress. The fascinating story of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's critical part in the Osama bin Laden mission as well as the downfall of Libya's dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

Miniter provides insights into Valerie Jarrett's role, the surprising influence on both Michelle Obama and her husband, their long history together and Jarrett's "unprecedented" influence at the White House. Why the president answered "Yep, absolutely," when Robert Draper, the New York Times asked Obama if he "runs every decision past her [Jarrett]."

Rohm Emanuel's relationship and feud with Valerie Jarrett and how "four strong-minded women" shaped the president, from his formative years to adulthood on into politics. As well as why secret deals across the aisle failed and the reasons behind the president's disrespectful treatment of Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Chapter six offers an in-depth look at the heartbreaking "Fast and Furious" tragedy where Miniter writes about the administration's need for " support new [gun] regulations..." What was behind the "strong bond" between the president, Holder and the 2008 political debt?" Why border patrol agents were outfitted with "less than lethal guns that fired high-speed bean bags" and more.

Miniter closes the seventh and final chapter with a question: "What kind of a leader is Obama?" where he details the qualities of good leadership. I encourage readers to listen to the attached video, read the book and decide for themselves what kind of leadership our president exhibits.

The inside flap says, "Barack Obama has never been fully vetted - until now." The chapter-by-chapter notes segment that completes the book with documented facts and easy-to-check research supports Miniter's evaluation. The book is an easy, albeit provocative, insightful read in this important election year.

Sally Turner interviews New York Times bestselling author Richard Miniter ("Shadow War" and "Losing Bin Laden") about his new book "Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him".

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

Popped Off
Jeffrey Allen
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780758266903, $7.99,

The "Stay at Home Dad" series began with "Stay at Home Dead" and continues with "Popped Off. " This time stay at home dad and amateur detective Deuce Winters must solve the case of the mysterious disappearance of the King of Soccer Moises Huber, the president of the Rose Petal Youth Soccer Association. Many of the characters from the first novel are back as well as some new ones that are just as charming. The story races along with many fun twists and turns to its final laugh out loud conclusion. "Popped Off" is a Donald E. Westlake type of mystery novel that is fun reading.

James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316097444, $27.99

"Zoo" is another great read by these two authors. Something has happened around the world. Many different types of animals are attacking humans. Jackson Oz, a biologist considered a crackpot, has a theory that many do not believe. He has to convince the world that his hypothesis is coming true and that they must find a way to stop it from continuing. "Zoo" is a Michael Crichton type of novel in the fold of "Jurassic Park" but much more believable, because the animals are not extinct. The novel races along with a final ending that is realistic and logical. "Zoo" is a total departure from the usual mystery novels these two authors are known for and is a frightening look at how technology has gone wrong

Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice
Michael Brandman
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399159497, $25.95,

Jesse Stone is back in another great story with "Fool Me Twice." Michael Brandman was a logical perfect choice to continue the novels of Jesse Stone because he as screenwriter for the TV movies, worked with Robert B. Parker. Brandman has the feel of the Parker writing with the snappy dialogue and the tense situations in Paradise, Massachusetts that made them so much fun to read. This time out Jesse has to deal with a spoiled rotten rich kid and her parents, a movie crew to begin filming in Paradise, and the murder of one of the stars of the film. As the plot unfolds Jesse has his hands full but nothing fazes him as he tackles all of the situations. "Fool Me Twice" although not written by Parker, is a great addition to the series that continues to be so much fun to read.

Severe Clear
Stuart Woods
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
97803991598948, $26.95,

Woods is back with another great Stone Barrington novel in "Severe Clear." The Arrington Hotel is set to open and Stone and a slew of characters are to attend the ceremonies. There also are some terrorists who are going to try to make a statement bigger than September 11th. The novel races along with many interesting characters situations and plot twists to its final enjoyable ending. "Severe Clear" is a nice addition to the Barrington series.

Cast into Doubt
Patricia MacDonald
World Wide Library
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills
Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780373062553, $7.99

For a while I wondered what happened to Patricia MacDonald because I had not seen anything new until "Cast into Doubt." Shelby Sloan's world is out of whack when she learns that her daughter Chloe disappeared from a cruise ship. Shelby cannot believe the explanations given by the police and Chloe's husband on the vanishing of Chloe. Something to Shelby does not seem right. She delves into the circumstances and begins to learn not everything is as it seems. MacDonald has crafted a complicated tale that races along to its final satisfying conclusion. It's great to see MacDonald back with another great chilling novel. "Cast into Doubt" is a suspenseful story that is a page turner

Death of a Neighborhood Witch
Laura Levine
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780758238498, 24.00,

I had never read anything by Laura Levine but "Death of a Neighborhood Witch" makes me want to read other things by her in the future. Jane Austen has a problem with Crypetssa Muldoon a down and out B horror movie actress who lives like a witch in Austen's neighborhood. Crypetssa hates Austen and gives her fits about everything. Later Crypetssa is found murdered and the police have only one logical suspect. Austen has a short time to expose the killer before she is charged with the crime. Levine has written a laugh out loud mystery that races along with interesting characters and funny situations. Levine also fills the story with e mails fro Austen's parents that are a separate story and are very funny. "Death of a Neighborhood Witch" is perfect reading for the Halloween season.

Mr. Monk on the Couch
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451235336, $7.99,

"Mr. Monk on the Couch" is another great tale of Adrian Monk the obsessive compulsive detective. This time Adrian Monk solves several cases while Natalie Teeger enlists the aid of Adrian's agoraphobic brother to solve a case on her own because Adrian is too busy with a case that involves a couch. Goldberg once again has a firm handle on the characters and takes readers along a fun filled Monk adventure that finishes up with a very satisfying conclusion. The Monk novels like the TV series are fun filled laugh out loud mysteries that are such a delight to read. "Mr. Monk On the Couch" is sure to please fans of the Monk series.

The Skinvestigator Sunburn
Terry Cronin
3 Boys Productions
9780983766711, $6.99,

The third installment of this series "The Skinvestigator Sunburn" takes off with a stunning beginning and races along to an exciting conclusion that ends "The Sunshine State Trilogy." Once again author Terry Cronin introduces medical factual material into the fictional world of Dr. Harry Poe and makes it very interesting. I love the cover artwork that is a perfect parody of the Coppertone advertisement that adds to the enjoyment of this novel. "The Skinvestigator" novels have been enjoyable mystery fare by a very talented writer.

The Puppet's Secret
Alex Samms
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432790349, $10.95,

Normally I do not like novels that tell, not show, what is happening but there is something about "The Puppet's Secret" that held my interest all the way through. Though very short the author has written a very disturbing tale of a women's obsession with a man she briefly encounters. She is so fixated with this person that she is willing to give up her husband and family. The reader is taken along on a very chilling journey that concludes with a very satisfying ending. "The Puppet's Secret" is a page turner for great summer reading.

A Giant Pencil
Connor S. Wilson, author
Alyssa Machette, illustrator
Magic Dreams Publishing
c/o Weaving Dreams Publishing
P.O. Box 194, Watseka, IL 60970
9781937148126, $.95

"A Giant Pencil" is the story of Billy who hates his life because he feels he is being picked on by everyone he knows. He finds a magic pencil that changes his life. He thinks it is a great thing what the pencil can do, but he learns that it is really worse. So maybe just one more time he can do something more positive with it. What is unique about the author is that Connor Wilson began the story when he was 8 years old and finished writing it when he turned 9. The writing is very polished and is a fun children's book written by a kid. "A Giant Pencil" has a message to everyone that you should always value what you have before you lose it.

Fluffy's Guardian Angel
Donald Bussel
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781436315241, $21.99

Fluffy a female dog tells the story how she got separated from her owners and the many different characters she meets along the way to get home in "Fluffy's Guardian Angel." Children will enjoy "Fluffy's Guardian Angel" for the artwork but there are many lessons that can be learned from the story of the dog who struggles to get back home.

The Upside of Down Times Discovering the Power of Gratitude
Lisa Ryan
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790554, $19.95,

Finally there is a book about the importance of saying thank you. "The Upside of Down Times Discovering the Power of Gratitude" is a ground breaking work that talks about the importance of gratitude. It is one of the simplest things but so many people never do it. Examples are for the service you have by a server in a restaurant and how most people do not take the time to tell managers how good the service was. Or companies that do not understand how important it is for workers to be thanked for the hard work they do. Lisa Ryan shows how the simple act of a compliment can affect business more positively. She also takes it to the level of people dealing with others and how we need to be more complimentary to each other. "The Upside of Down Times Discovering the Power of Gratitude" is for the politically correct generation who need to read this book and go back to a more straightforward set of values.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

and when she was good
Laura Lippman
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061706875, $26.99,

The opening sentence of Laura Lippman's new standalone is nothing if not eye-catching: "Suburban Madam Dead in Apparent Suicide." The newspaper headline read by Heloise [nee Helen] Lewis is especially attention-getting in that Heloise herself is in the same profession. The dead woman had been arrested eight months earlier and was a month out from trial.

The events that led Heloise to this place in her life are recounted in deftly placed flashbacks going back 20 years, basically telling of a father who was abusive, physically and mentally, and a mother who valued the man more than she did her own daughter. Perhaps the mental abuse inflicted upon her which resonated most, and longest, was her father's comment that she had a "nothing face . . . not ugly, but not really pretty either. Unmemorable," something that she found ultimately worked to her advantage and allowed her to "fade into the background." Forced to quit school and start working to contribute to the household finances, Helen [her given name] finds herself in one abusive relationship after another, at some point becoming a "paid companion" [just one of the many euphemisms for sex worker], although she is now a registered lobbyist, she runs a high-class escort service, with many important men in the Baltimore/DC area among her regular clientele.

The most important thing to come out of her last liaison, with the pimp who initially set her up in her own business (now serving a life sentence for murder) is a son, eleven years old as the story opens, whose father knows nothing of his existence, despite the fact that Heloise visits him in jail bi-monthly. What he also does not know is that she was responsible for putting him behind bars.

The story unwinds at a gentle pace, with each chapter in Heloise's life laid out in orderly fashion, all the pieces in place. That is, up until an ending which the author has meticulously fashioned, one which took me completely by surprise and had me racing through to the stunning denouement. As good as any of the excellent Tess Monaghan series books and standalones which preceded it, this newest book by Ms. Lippman is highly recommended.

The Vanishing Point
Val McDermid
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802120526, $25.00,

In her twenty-sixth novel, a standalone, Val McDermid goes rather far afield from her previous books. It opens with a child abduction at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. While a passenger is going through an airport security check, a man in what appears to be a TSA uniform appears and guides the five-year-old boy traveling with her through the terminal and they both seem to disappear. It soon falls to 27-year-old FBI Special Agent Vivian McKuras to interview the woman, Stephanie Harker, the godmother [and planned adoptive mother] of the little boy, Jimmy. The boy's mother, Scarlett Higgins [dubbed by the media as The Scarlett Harlot] had been a reality-tv star, one of those famous for being famous, with whom Stephanie had ghost-written several books, becoming best friends in the process. The question becomes: Had this been "a random abduction, a spur-of-the-moment snatch," or had Jimmy been a very specific target?

In order to ascertain into which category this falls, Vivian questions Stephanie at length as to the entire background and history of all concerned. What ensues is a rather lengthy tale, the story zig-zagging from those flashbacks to the present time as the investigation shifts into high gear. The boy's father, who Scarlett married shortly before his birth in a media-planned circus, had died from a drug-overdose not long afterwards, Scarlett more recently after a very public battle with cancer. Stephanie puts Vivian in touch with a UK counterpart, and everything becomes more complex. As it nears its end, the plot takes a very unexpected turn, morphing into a stunning conclusion.

Stephanie is a fascinating protagonist, one who takes refuge in her profession. When it is suggested to her that she could sell her story to a magazine, her response is: "'I don't want to have a story.' I like being a ghost. Insubstantial. Transparent. Anonymous." An intriguing tale it is, in which manic stalkers [of both genders] are a theme.

[The author thoughtfully includes a glossary at book's end, translating Brit-speak for the American readers.] Val McDermid just keeps getting better.

Highly recommended.

The Retribution
Val McDermid
Grove Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802120441, $14.00,

In her twenty-fifth novel, Val McDermid brings back Jacko Vance, introduced to readers in "The Wire in the Blood," and to television viewers in its wonderful series adaptation. As the book opens, this truly malevolent serial killer, whose resume includes "killer of seventeen teenage girls, murderer of a serving police officer, and a man once voted the sexiest man on British TV" as well as an Olympic athlete and an outwardly charming and charismatic man, has served over 12 years in prison, owing mostly to the efforts of DCI Carol Jordan and psychological profiler Tony Hill. Vance has spent most of that time meticulously planning his escape, as well as his future after its successful completion: the revenge suggested by the books title, directed toward those who had caused his imprisonment, first among them Jordan and Hill, as well as his ex-wife whose betrayal he sees as making her equally culpable. Of course, his plan for vengeance merely begins there.

Carol Jordan, as yet unaware of what is about to happen, is dealing with a shake-up at the Bradfield Metropolitan Police, where the powers that be are disbanding her Major Incident Team. In an attempt to go out in a 'blaze of glory,' they are faced with finding a killer who has been killing street prostitutes in gruesome ways, and branding them with a distinctive tattoo on the wrist of each. Suddenly, Jordan's priorities change with Vance's escape, and its implications. Tony's priorities as well must be divided between these investigations.

The relationship between Jordan and Hill has always been difficult to define, becoming more so all the time. They are not quite lovers, although they share space, and different flats, in Tony's house. But their emotional entanglement has always been obvious to all, even if they themselves do not admit to one. That relationship, both professionally and personally, is about to be threatened now as never before.

The author goes into Tony's background, and the emotional and psychological paths that have shaped him, and caused him to work at "passing for human," as never before. He tells a colleague "I won't deny that the people who do this kind of thing fascinate me. The more disturbed they are, the more I want to figure out what makes them tick." It is his empathy and his oft-times brilliant insights that have made him so successful. But this is a challenge unlike any he has ever faced.

The pace steadily accelerates along with a sense of dread as Vance begins to carry out his plans, and the resultant page-turner is as good as anything this acclaimed author has written. Highly recommended.

Final Sail
Elaine Viets
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451236746, $23.95,

Helen Hawthorne, the protagonist of the endearing Dead-End Job Mystery Series, now finds herself spending her time solving cases with her husband, with whom she has opened a private detective agency. As the book opens they take on two investigations, and the novel is about equally divided between them. The first case involves the impending death of an elderly man, presently hospitalized but with apparently no hope of surviving, whose daughter is convinced that his second wife, much younger than he, poisoned him, the $10,000,000 she stands to gain being a pretty good motive.

At the same time, they are hired by the captain of a luxury yacht who believes there is a jewel smuggler aboard, and they agree that Helen will work undercover as a stewardess to uncover his or her identity. But first she is "trapped in a sad domestic drama."

The elderly man very soon succumbs, and Helen, who has become ordained in an on-line ministry for the occasion, meets the young widow and gains her confidence, while her husband, Phil Sagemont, applies for a job as the woman's estate manager [the residence being comprised of eight bedrooms, twelve baths, two dining rooms, a six-car garage and pool house in addition to various halls, sitting rooms and living rooms.] Of course the cops find no evidence of poison, and don't believe the daughter's accusations of homicide or of the woman carrying on an affair with another man.

Both cases provide windows into the lives of the obscenely wealthy, as the yacht where Helen undertakes her second investigation caters to three couples [and the cute little white poodle owned by one] used to living in luxurious surroundings, served wonderful food and waited on hand and foot, as they say, while sailing in the Caribbean. [And who among us can blame them?] But one of them, or a member of the crew, is smuggling emeralds, and Helen's job is to find out which one.

Helen, now forty-one, is herself a recent bride, thoughts of her first wildly unhappy marriage mostly behind her. She wants to feel like she is contributing equally to the professional side of the marriage, and between them she and Phil resolve both cases very handily. The novel is a charming read, perfect for an end-of-the-summer relaxing day or two at the beach [or anywhere else, for that matter].

Arnaldur Indridason
Translated by Anna Yates
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avge., NY, NY 10010
9780312659110, $24.99,

At the outset of this book by Icelandic author Indridason, the eighth in the series available in English translation, a young man picks up a woman in a bar, slips some rohypnol into her drink and brings her back to his home in an historic area of Reykjavik. When two days later the police are called to the scene, the body found lying in a pool of blood on the floor is not that of the woman, but the young man who lived there, his throat having been slashed. The only clues are a woman's shawl, and a strange smell that lingers in the air.

In this latest entry in the series, Detective Elinborg has the primary role, while her colleagues Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli take on lesser roles, the former only by reference in the early and late parts of the book [referred to as "a failure of a father," an "irascible loner," and "an insightful detective" whom Elinborg admires but does not necessarily like]. As the book opens he has apparently taken a leave of absence to travel to the East Fjords, where he had lived as a young boy. Oli has only a secondary role in the present investigations, with Elinborg taking the lead.

As always, Elinborg has conflicts between her job and her role as a wife and mother, and worries that she is not devoting enough time to her family. The older of her two sons, 16 years old and increasingly distant, has been a cause of concern lately, and she "sometimes worried about the relationships between parents and their children," a theme which recurs throughout the book. In the course of her investigation, Elinborg is drawn into an old case, one involving the disappearance of a 19-year-old girl six years prior, and the possibility that the two cases are tied together.

Having been steadily absorbing reading for more than the first half of the book, it suddenly becomes more intriguing as the plot turns more complex, and maintains that level till the denouement. This is a powerful book, consistent with all this author's prior work, and highly recommended.

Bleeding Through
Sandra Parshall
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200274, $24.95,

This suspense-filled novel is built around characters you care about, especially its protagonist, Dr. Rachel Goddard, veterinarian extraordinaire. The book opens when Rachel and her significant other, Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger, working with a group of teens cleaning up roadside trash in a rural area in southwestern Virginia, discover the body of Shelley Beecher. The girl, a 22-year-old first-year law student, had been missing for a month, having disappeared after leaving her volunteer job at an Innocence Project office in Fairfax County, in Northern Virginia, an area hours away from where her body had been dumped like so much trash into the bottom of a ravine. Tragically, the group of youngsters discovering the body included Shelley's 17-year-old sister, Megan.

There is a common theme in this tale, that of stalkers and their victims. It includes Rachel's history wherein a man who stalked and nearly killed her was ultimately caught and tried, although because of a cop's biased testimony was only sentenced to a psychiatric hospital. Now, Rachel's psychologist sister, Michelle, announces that she needs to see Rachel immediately because a stalker in her own life has her feeling threatened: her office has been broken into, and she is receiving frequent e-mails, phone calls and notes from him, and she feels unsafe in her own hometown of Bethesda, Maryland. With no physical evidence, or any idea of who is doing this to her, there is little or nothing that the local police can do. This causes Tom's investigation to necessarily take a back seat to the more immediate threat that has come into his and Rachel's lives.

The background of Rachel and Michelle, fascinating and horrifying, as well as their present relationship, is carefully revealed to the reader, as is each sister's ambivalence toward her live-in lover and husband, respectively. The pov alternates between that of Rachel and Tom, and the writing is fast-paced and well-plotted. The threats, and the tension, escalate to the point that I was torn between not wanting to find out what happens next and not being to turn the pages fast enough. The novel is terrifically entertaining, and recommended.

[The book is also available in a trade paperback edition, ISBN 978-1-4642-0029-8, $14.95]

Karin Slaughter
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780345540850, $15.00,

In her eleventh novel, Karin Slaughter brings us back to Georgia. Agent Faith Mitchell, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, finds that what started out as a normal workday becomes something else entirely. [A bit of background: A cop for 15 years, Faith is a single mom, diabetic, 34 years old, and a former detective with the Atlanta homicide squad; her mother has helped care for Faith's four-month old baby for the past two months, since Faith went back to work.] When Faith drives up to the house, she immediately sees a bloody handprint on the front door. Before the ensuing confrontation is over, three men have been shot to death - two at Faith's hand; she finds her baby locked in a shed; the house has been ransacked; and her mother is missing. Faith's mother, a decorated police officer, had been in charge of the narcotics division, and two of the three dead men appear to be members of a local Hispanic gang known to control the drug trade in Atlanta.

Will Trent, Faith's old partner in the GBI, is handling the investigation; there is a bit of a conflict of interest at work here: Amanda Wagner, the deputy director and his boss, had been the BFF [before the term existed] of Evelyn Mitchell, Faith's mother, a 63-year-old widow and a cop for nearly forty years, who had been implicated in a sting operation that had been headed by Will, to weed out dirty cops, part of the upshot of which was her forced retirement.

Will has a complex relationship with Sara Linton, formerly a county coroner and now a pediatric attending physician in the emergency department of a local Atlanta hospital. Widow of the county's former police chief, at 5'11", with red hair, Sara is a striking woman. The 'complexity' of her relationship with Will is due to the fact that he is still married, sort of. The relationship between him and his wife is strange, to say the least.

The plot is intricate, the main characters each strong yet vulnerable; the book is a wholly satisfying, fast read, and it is recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

When the Wind Blows
James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
0316693324, $25.00,

People are familiar with James Patterson the mystery writer. When the Wind Blows is not a mystery. It is a light SF fantasy. Its key premise is that a group of scientists have discovered how to manipulate human genes anyway they want to. The story's scientific premise is more extreme than the story proclaims but it still makes an acceptable fantasy.

Max, an eleven year old girl, escapes from a private school/prison and generic laboratory. She has been genetically altered to be able to fly. At the same time, a FBI agent investigating a series of murders of doctors involved with genetic research arrives in Colorado under the false name Kit Harrison. Veterinarian Frannie O'Neill is pulling together her life after the death of her doctor husband and is working at her clinic in Bear Bluff, Colorado. These three individuals are violently thrown together in a search for survival by the people looking for Max while trying to keep secret their billion dollar genetic experiments. They are killing everyone who knows about the experiments or Max.

When the Wind Blows is a solid light SF fantasy. With the heroine an eleven year old girl, a key audience for the story is the young adult market. The mystery/action storyline is hard enough to keep your adult reader interested but the young will enjoy the tale more. Adults who enjoy Patterson should look for the book on the used shelves. Teens will be more interested in this story and will probably look for one of the sequels Patterson has written about Max.

Treachery in Death
J.D. Robb
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425242612, $7.99,

J.D. Robb is the nom de plume for Nora Roberts when she writes gritty detective stories. She does a good job in this genre. The gritty detective story can work with any time period but if you shift the story to the past or future, the grittiness becomes less immediate and the story becomes more escapism. Robb's Detective Eve Dallas stories are set in the intermediate future, one that is easy to envision and therefore easier to accept. The settings and characters have the classic themes of Noir with a refreshing hint of science fiction. As with any Roberts story, you have the occasional hot love making scenes but the romantic interludes act as a counter to the non-stop mystery pacing and vicious criminality.

Peabody, Dallas' detective trainee, is taking a shower after a workout when she overhears two dirty cops discussing murder. With nothing but a towel and a half open shower door between her and two bad cops, she is forced to silently wait and hope the cops leave before finding her. After she escapes from the locker room, she calls on Dallas and tells her what she has heard. Dallas and Peabody, with the help of Dallas' husband Roarke, immediately begin investigating the corrupt ring of cops. With each step, they find that the ring is more lethal and widespread than what they originally thought. They have to both get the proof to put away the dirty cops and survive the investigation.

Treachery in Death is a solid gritty detective mystery. It is a balanced story that pulls the reader into a criminal underworld while still leaving you feel safe. With this mass market edition, it is an easy recommend for any adult detective mystery reader.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

Child of Fortune
Norman Spinrad
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0553050893, $16.95,

I have written twenty books of fiction, including several with first-person narrators. I have never written a story with a female narrator, for the logical reason that any attempt to simulate girl-think would be nothing more than a guess. Child of Fortune, by a male author, is told by a female narrator. Much of the time it works, requiring no more suspension of disbelief than any other science fiction. But when Spinrad spells out his narrator's physical and intellectual responses to sexual situations, the result falls somewhere between undisciplined speculation and wishful thinking. Admittedly the action takes place in a distant future in which tantric artists, once called courtesans, or more recently whores, have the potential to be as highly regarded as Ludwig van Beethoven, Enrico Caruso, Leonardo da Vinci, Anna Pavlova, and William Shakespeare. But while such moral evolution could conceivably happen in a post-religion era, it is hard to escape the reaction: "Don't you wish!"

"je comprend, liebchen"; "naturellement"; "vraiment"; "ma chere"; "je ne sais pas"; "de nada"; "au contraire"; "que pasa"; "nom de merde"; "caga"; "und so weiter"; "ma pouvre petit"; "nicht wahr"; "ca va"; "enchante, muchacha"; "bitte". Those and similar non-English expressions, all taken from a single randomly chosen seventeen-page section (394-410), permeate Spinrad's whole book. Sixty years ago, when I had the same eighth-grade education as most Australians, I found a similar profusion of foreign words in the novel, The Greengage Summer, and could only wonder if the author was putting down his readers and boasting, "Look how educated I am." While that unlearned state is now a distant memory, and not until I was well into Child of Fortune did I consciously notice that Spinrad replicated a practise that had so angered me in the past, I nonetheless find myself wondering whether he was targeting a more educated readership, or simply being a fatuous blowhard.

Like the Jerry Seinfeld TV series, Child of Fortune is a story about nothing. The narrator describes her travels through various places, but not to anywhere. Getting there is not the bulk of the story. It is the story. Since the book is a paean to psychotropic experiences of the ultimate kind, it should surprise no one that the most glowing blurb on the back cover comes from Timothy Leary. If anyone could empathize with submersion into drugged sub-sentience, Leary could. Admittedly the narrator has qualms about exposing herself to substances capable of sucking her into a state of mindless sensuality from which escape might prove impossible. But other than trying to delineate how a Leary type might justify a descent into unreality, the book has nothing to say. While the narrative is not boring, anyone hoping for a climax or denouement is bound to be disappointed. That said, I would be less than honest if I failed to mention that I finished reading all 495 pages, and am glad I did.

Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans
David Niose
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780230338951, $27.00,

Nowhere in David Niose's Acknowledgments, Index or Notes, is here any mention of Ronald Aronson, author of Living Without God. That would explain why Niose (p. 13) buys into the Big Lie that nontheists in America number a mere 18.4 percent. As Aronson has shown (p. 12) a competent evaluation of the polls shows that nontheists constitute 36 percent of the American population. A further 32 percent are secularists, theists who nonetheless support the separation of church and state. Niose does recognize (p. 14) that, "given the various social and cultural pressures that encourage over-reporting of religiosity . . . it would be reasonable to infer that the 12 to 18 percent figure is probably conservative."

Nor is there any mention of Victor Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. That in turn explains Niose's belief that the existence of God, defined (p. 11) as a god "having the attributes that are traditionally associated with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God," can only be disbelieved, not disproven. NEWSFLASH: It is only the concept of "gods" that cannot be disproven. The nonexistence of the Sky Fuhrer mistranslated as "God" in English Bibles is as fully proven as the nonexistence of Mother Goose.

Niose states (p. 5) that, as long as the Religious Right "stands firmly opposed to science, reason, and critical thinking, intelligent debate and policy making become impossible." But he also points out that there is a solution that is beginning to be implemented: "Effective opposition to the Religious Right . . . is made possible by the rise of the long-overlooked population of Americans who reject outright the notion that religiosity is a prerequisite to patriotism or sound public policy."

"Secular Americans have existed as long as the country itself, but only in recent years have they begun to stand together as a unit and demand recognition, respect, and equality" (p. 11). That stops short of the exhortations of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Victor Stenger for nontheists to come out of the closet and show the world that they outnumber any single religion (unless one lumps Catholics and Protestants together as a single religion). But it is a good start. And he does recognize (p. 46) that, "the inescapable conclusion is that millions of Americans are in the closet about their religious skepticism."

On the evolution of human thinking, Niose notes (p. 93) that, "If humans entered the theological stage because they were able to ponder big questions, the post-theological stage is the result of our acquiring enough knowledge to finally answer many of them. . . . We don't need creation myths anymore, because we have a pretty good understanding of how the earth formed and how life evolved. . . . We don't know what, if anything, caused the Big Bang, but there is no evidence to suggest that it was caused by some kind of 'superbeing with intent.'"

Nelson Rockefeller, Republican vice president from 1974 to 1977, was quoted as saying, "I do not believe it right for one group to impose its vision of morality on an entire society." Niose observes (p. 22) that, "It's hard to imagine any GOP leader making such a statement today." Even Barry Goldwater, America's most reactionary Republican presidential candidate prior to the 2012 campaign, described the Religious Right that was starting to take over his party as a "bunch of kooks." Today the Republican hierarchy view

Rockefeller and Goldwater as unacceptably sane or, even worse, "liberal."

In contrasting JFK's endorsement of the separation of church and state with Mitt Romney's position on the issue (p. 99), Niose cites Romney's statement that, "any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me." He then points out that Romney's speech "suggests that Osama bin Laden would have had a friend in Romney, whereas Stephen Hawking would not. How unfortunate that Romney didn't stop to realize how far astray from the realm of sanity his rhetoric had drifted in order to kowtow to the religious extremists of his party." That is as close as Niose dare come to acknowledging that religion per se is a form of insanity, since it rejects any rational definition of morality and instead accepts that right and wrong are whatever an imaginary sky fairy or its scriptwriter says they are, heads it's a sin and tails it's a virtue.

While denouncing such Republican politicians as Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachman and some lesser-known brain amputees for their hypocrisy, ignorance, and determination to impose their religion on all Americans, Niose singles out Rick Santorum as the most dangerous on account of his "because the pope says so" opposition to birth control in a dangerously overpopulated world. He concludes (p. 117) that, "An objective outside observer would be shocked that such an individual could ever have even a remote chance of winning the presidential nomination of a major party in the world's most powerful nation."

In reporting (p. 142) a common opinion that, "the presidency of George W. Bush was the best thing that ever happened for organized secularism in America,"-since it demonstrated how easily a religious activist in the White House could do to America what priests do to altar boys-Niose describes Bush as "anti-intellectual." Is that his PC way to avoid openly naming Bush as the least intelligent president America has ever had (or is ever likely to have), a position Bush captured from the previous titleholder, Ronald Reagan, in a canter? Niose's determination to place politeness ahead of honesty suggests such a possibility.

Like Dawkins, Harris and other advocates of secularism, Niose is not a biblical scholar, and that deficiency leads him, like them, to make statements about biblical history that are inaccurate. For example (p. 21), he describes Jesus as, "perhaps history's most famous pacifist." Is he being politically correct, going along with a theistic dogma he considers irrelevant to his purpose? Or is he emulating the theists who habitually quote biblical passages that endorse their position and ignore those that refute it? Is he unaware that Matthew 10:34 put into Jesus' mouth the words, "Don't imagine that I've come to bring the land peace. I've come to bring, not peace, but rather a sword"?

In describing Christianity's junior god as "Jesus of Nazareth (p. 167), Niose is clearly unaware that "of Nazareth" is a blatant falsification of the Greek word, nazoraios, that identified Jesus as a member of the Nazarene/Nazirite sect. A village named Nazareth did not even exist until sometime after Jesus' death. But his reference (p. 179) to "Jesus Christ" could conceivably be a quotation from the Rapturists he is refuting, rather than a personal endorsement of Jesus' delusion that he was the prophesied "anointed one" destined to overthrow the occupying Romans.

Niose uses the word "adultery" to include behavior involving an unmarried woman (pp. 38, 40). As any biblical scholar could have told him, behavior that did not deceive a cuckold into raising a cuckoo's chick as his own was not what "adultery" meant to the composers of the various sets of biblical "ten commandments." And his reference to Armageddon (p. 102) shows no awareness that Revelation's prediction that the last battle of the war in progress at the time of writing would take place at Armageddon, north of Jerusalem, and the Jews would win, failed when the last battle took place at Masada, south of Jerusalem, and the Jews lost. Fortunately such errors, by all of the cited authors, not just Niose, pale in comparison with what they got right.

While exposing the plethora of Big Lies that make up the Religious Right's unceasing mantra, Niose hones in on one Big Lie (p. 46): "In all of American history, it is doubtful that any person has ever been killed in the name of atheism; . . . It just does not happen, because the notion of 'militant atheism' is entirely a product of antisecular propaganda." But the biggest Big Lie is that America is or was intended by the Founding Fathers to be a "Christian Nation." Anyone who believes that rewriting of history either has not read Niose's chapter, "A Secular Heritage," or is simply unteachable.

Niose recognizes that correlation between religiosity and social dysfunction does not prove causation. But he argues (p. 34) that, "If America has a reputation for being both religious and anti-intellectual, it is reasonable to infer that there is a relationship between the two." He notes that, "In the United States, a list of states with the highest rates of social dysfunction is like a tour of the Bible Belt. . . . we find the more religious states with higher rates of poverty, obesity, infant mortality, STDs, and teen pregnancies, and the lowest rates of college education."

Much of Niose's book would have a significant problem-solving influence if it reached the religiously brainwashed who assuredly will not read it. But he also has a useful message when he is preaching to the choir (p. 28): "The strong favoritism of secular voters toward Democratic candidates has led some to believe that Democrats need not worry about winning the secular vote, confidently assuming it is a foregone conclusion. But any candidate making such an assumption does so at his own risk. . . . most secular Americans see Obama as more sympathetic to their view than his predecessor, but Obama's continuation of Bush's practice of funneling millions of tax dollars to religious groups for social programs has disappointed many." In other words: Do not sit on your hands on Election Day. Vote for the lesser evil, even a lesser evil who ends his speeches by asking the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction to "bless" America.

Recognizing the unlikelihood of changing the minds of religious conservatives (p. 42), Niose argues instead that nonbelievers "hope to convince the more rational members of the public that the exaltation of religion and vilification of secularity is mistaken, that the continued marginalization of Secular Americans is against the public interest." If Jews, women and gays could overcome their marginalization by campaigning as a visible community, then so can nontheists. But while we can wait and hope, the demonstrated inability of half of the American population to recognize Republican presidential wannabes as conscienceless, pathological serial liars raises serious doubts that anyone over the age of 50 will live to see it happen. Niose is being realistic when he notes (pp. 209-210) that, "It is almost certain that fundamentalists . . . will be running for the [presidential] nomination for years to come."

Niose's summation of what is a clear and present danger is (pp. 211-212), "No amount of sugarcoating can hide the stark reality that American democracy is in serious danger in the early years of the twenty-first century. . . . Religion is not solely responsible for the intellectual shortcomings of America, but it is increasingly clear that the proliferation of fundamentalist religion is a factor, and the marginalization of Secular Americans further contributes to the problem. . . . As we see Governor Rick Perry responding to a catastrophic drought in Texas by calling for prayer . . . the damage inflicted upon America by over three decades of the Religious Right becomes clear."

Prayer might be intrinsically harmless. But when the only response to a situation in the real world, by an elected official from a party actively campaigning to disenfranchise its political opponents, is to ask Mother Goose (or was it God? I'm always confusing those two) to solve the problem, the overthrow of democracy and substitution of theocracy may be only a matter of time.

William Harwood

Heidi's Bookshelf

Gleefully Gluten Free (Healthy Desserts & Snacks)
Ruth Naylor
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008MNR6JA, $3.97,

Well worth the investment

Affordable, digital books often disappoint in the cookbook arena. Fortunately, this cookbook, bucks the trend. I found many recipes to look in this book and have many more too fix before being done with this book.

A number of the recipes work with raw-food principles or styles of food preparation. One of the nice things about raw food styles is you can create tasty snacks and satisfy your sweet-tooth with healthier options. If soaking nuts and getting out the food processor isn't your style, don't worry.

Naylor also offers more traditional recipes. I highly recommend the Homemade Healthy Granola Bars. They disappeared quickly in my house and I've already heard the request to make more of this recipe. Another baked good that received a positive response was the "Pumpkin Bars" recipe. You can even sneak one for breakfast and not feel so guilty for having dessert first thing in the morning.

I find this book useful and helpful. Learning how to work with gluten free flours is like getting an entire new perspective on flour and baking. Naylor introduces other ways to work with these components and increase the nutritional value.

If you're looking for some great ideas, not to mention great tasting, for gluten free enjoyment, this book is a great resource.

A Classic Well Worth the Time

The Flavor Bible
Page & Dorenberg
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316118408, $35.00,

The level of home cooking continues to improve. At the same time many consumers are demanding higher quality and more interesting foods when eating out. "The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of the America's Most Imaginative Chefs" supports this trend. No available in multiple editions. curious home cooks will find some surprising applications for this interesting volume.

During blackberry season this year, I needed some new ideas on what to do all the extra, tasty fruit. After freezing lots of berries and making jam, inspiration was required. Exploring the different suggestions in the book, I found some new directions. We now have two new favorite desserts in my house. In fact, it looks like they will be the basis for creating my own cookbook.

Whether you are looking for new flavor ideas for old favorites, want to find new ways to tweak an existing recipe to make it more personal, or want to freshen up a classic, "The Flavor Bible" is a perfect, permanent resource for creative cooks looking for more ideas.

Sounds Better than the Results Taste

New England Cookies: 20 Classic Recipes
Alex True
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B008C4JMM8, $2.99,

The list of recipes in this little collection sounded interesting and tasty. The history represented of the food area includes expected ingredients such as walnuts and maple syrup. Unfortunately, a number of the recipes simply didn't work. I made five of the recipes and found inaccurate results with each one.

For example, the Popcorn cookies--no popcorn included, but reputed to taste like popcorn--didn't match the description or results at all. In another case the recipe instructed pouring the batter into the pan. As the concoction has the texture of fudge brownie batter, pouring wasn't an option.

I did find a number of the flavor combinations to be good jumping-off points for creating new recipes, but none of the recipes I made lived up to the expectations from a good cookie recipe. Perhaps in the future I'll try some of the recipes again and hope for better results. Meanwhile, I'll be looking for other unusual cookie recipes from other sources.

Heidi Sue Roth

Janet's Bookshelf

Anatolian Days & Nights
Joy E. Stocke & Angie Brenner
Wild River Books
P.O. Box 53, Stockton, New Jersey 08559
9780983918806, $16.95 pbk. / Kindle: $9.99

An Aegean sunset, the breeze, soft and warm against my bare skin, dining in an outdoor cafe, senses assailed by the salty air of the Mediterranean and the fragrant spices of Turkish cooking - something I can only dream about in wintry Melbourne, Australia, where I live.

Reading Anatolian Days & Nights, Joy E. Stocke and Angie Brenner's new book, subtitled: A Love Affair with Turkey, is almost as good as being there. The most aromatic book I have ever read, it had me salivating from page one; I haven't been to Turkey but I feel like I can taste it. Joy Stocke, a travel writer and editor of the online magazine, Wild River Review and Angie Brenner, freelance writer and former bookstore owner, write about Turkish cuisine, whether in private homes or cafes, in loving detail and oh-my-goodness, every meal they have is a feast for the eyes, nose and taste buds. Not surprisingly, Joy has compiling a Turkish cook book on her to-do list.

Experienced travelers in Turkey, Joy and Angie first met in 2001 when they volunteered to help a friend by running a small guesthouse on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The beginning of an enduring friendship they coped with the friend's sulky male partner while trying to turn a rundown pension into a profitable concern. Not so much a travel book as pages from a 'day-in-the-life-of' diary, Joy and Angie share with readers the good, the bad and not ugly, but sometimes frustrations of travelling in Turkey.

The book maps Joy and Angie's trips back and forth between the US and Turkey between 2001 and 2009. The text alternates between Joy and Angie's depiction of people and events; friendships are forged and Turkish society is peeled back to reveal fascinating intimate detail of family life and values in large cities and villages where not much has changed since ancient times. The writing, uniformly good, the descriptive sequences are often poetic and always absorbing.

A Whirling Dervish festival, Istanbul, Ephesus, the Black Sea and Mesopotamia are all described with empathy and great enthusiasm for the people met and the places visited. Neither author moralises about Turkish cultural or traditional customs which may be at odds with western society's view of civilised practice - they write it like it is and allow readers to make up their own minds.

Joy, an indefatigable traveler, is supported in her wanderings by a sympathetic husband and daughter who wait patiently at home for the next instalment of her Turkish adventures. Angie, single, and I suspect, an incurable romantic, generously shares with readers a brief love affair with a Turkish guy. A crescent moon above, a dark eyed lover by your side - a romantic or not, it would be hard to resist.

If you are planning a trip to Turkey don't leave home without a copy of Anatolian Days & Nights in your backpack. It's a worry free guide to tripping around in Turkey and gives info on transport, tours, local customs, sights and sounds not to miss, and the whys and wherefores of safe travel in a country where adventure awaits around every corner. If you're not lucky enough to be going to Turkey, take the tour with Joy and Angie; read Anatolian Days & Nights, it's an exciting intriguing journey.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl
Andrew Blackwell
Rodale House
733 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781605294452, $25.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

It's not important whether it's fine and sunny or wet and stormy in Chernobyl except to a few die-hard (they probably will) residents and the mutated wildlife that have made their home in the irradiated exclusion zone. What is important is to read Andrew Blackwell's new book, "Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures In The World's Most Polluted Places".

A New York journalist and filmmaker, Andrew Blackwell is a 2011 Fellow in Nonfiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Visit Sunny Chernobyl is his first book and he presents the unpalatable truth about the world's disaster areas in a travelogue format. The text includes research, personal encounters/impressions, descriptive pieces and probable outcomes if nothing is done to prevent or repair the damage being done to planet Earth.

Blackwell, our-guy-on-the-spot in radioactive Chernobyl, moves on to oil sands mining in Alberta, visits Refineryville in Port Arthur Texas, navigates Pacific Ocean garbage, checks out deforestation in the Amazon, sees toxic electronic waste being recycled in China and dodges sewage in India's Yamuna River. He does his best to give us a truthful, sometimes shocking account of what's happening in areas of the world that only occasionally come to the attention of the global media; the existence of these environmental time-bombs mostly hushed up by the vested interests of governments and corporations. Andrew Blackwell's best is very good indeed; engaging and well-written, his book isn't devoted to doom and gloom; experiences and meetings with people who live and work in the places visited are recorded in an often wryly funny way as he explains the history behind the polluted areas - a sort of: why-is-it-so and what-we-can-do-to-fix-it expose.

Before reading this book, I had assumed the US sourced most of its oil from the OPEC Arab nations. Silly me - the biggest single provider of foreign oil to the US is the oil sand mines in Alberta, Canada. Extracting oil from sand is energy intensive; processing the oil is costly and a huge atmospheric pollutant, the by-product of which is vast quantities of poisonous waste water stored in ever growing numbers of tailing ponds. Environmentalist groups are trying to stop the Canadian government from allowing further expansion of the Alberta oil sand mines. Canada, the home of Greenpeace and nice responsible citizens, we can only hope these groups succeed before Alberta disappears under a layer of black sludge.

Of all the polluted environments described in this book, Andrew Blackwell's visit to the Amazon was the one which hit me the hardest. In the midst of a personal problem which would have put me in counselling 24/7, he travelled with a friend to find out what was really happening to the Amazon's dwindling rainforest. Linking up with a crazy, windsurfing, Brazilian tour guide, Blackwell gets the facts on what's going down (a lot of trees) and why. It's not loggers that are causing the destruction of the forest; roads are the root cause of the rapidly expanding clearance of forest areas. There are now two roads into the Amazon rainforest (one traverses the entire length of the forest). Roads mean trucks, and trucks mean transport and development - areas of the forest are being razed to provide land for soy farmers. A soy processing terminal has been built and farmers are scrambling to farm land that before being cleared, ensured world communities had clean air to breathe and rain water to fill our rivers and reservoirs. It's not all bad news; the government of Brazil has started a program to allow indigenous tribes back into their forest homes to manage logging operations - the idea being that if they are making money from the forest they will also want to preserve it. Let's hope it works.

While much is written and spoken about saving something for future generations, little is done. We are all hooked on motor vehicles, air conditioning, central heating, air travel and all the other energy consuming/polluting accouterments of modern living. Andrew Blackwell doesn't suggest we give up the technological advancements of the twentieth and twenty first centuries but we do have to get the balance right. Getting the balance right; moving forward not backward to create a world community where human beings co-exist with other species on an environmentally healthy planet Earth is what Visit Sunny Chernobyl is all about.

The future belongs to all of us; you, me, our families and friends. To make sure it's a good one, read, think and talk about Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures In The World's Most Polluted Places.

Janet Walker, Reviewer

Janie's Bookshelf

Caesar's Fall
Dorien Grey
Zumaya Boundless
9781936144082, $14.99

Dorien Grey offers the next installment in the Elliott Smith mystery series with the release of "Caesar's Fall." This third book finds Chicago contractor Smith dealing with ghosts not only in the newest residence he's restoring but also in the very building where he lives. With the help of John, a spirit who accesses only bits and pieces of information from the other side, Smith delves into the puzzling suicide of his neighbor Bruno Caesar. Smith isn't satisfied by the official ruling that Bruno jumped from their tall condo building after making it known he was terrified of heights.

Like Grey's other offerings in this series, readers not only wander through a contemporary world where ghosts are real, but they discover a tour of various parts of Chicago. These are so real I'm able to revisit places I've been in this bustling city. It adds texture and authenticity to the story, grounding it in reality while Grey suspends disbelieve when he introduces ghosts into this milieu.

Fans of the series will also see how Smith and his lover Steve's relationship is developing and how they interact with others in the gay community, of which Bruno Caesar is also a member.

Elliott Smith is always cool and professional---and often reluctant to act on some of the information ghost-helper John provides him. But in the end, Smith finds out who did it and, most importantly, why.

Grey's writing is crisp and detailed. But it is his characters that are his strength. Each book is like a visit with an old friend. Readers are just catching up on what's been happening in Smith's life and we get drawn into the mystery Smith has just had to puzzle over.

The series continues in "Dante's Circle." I can't wait!

I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas
Adam Roberts
c/o Orion Publishing Group
Orion House, 1 Upper St. Martin's Lane
London, England WC2H 9EA
978057509152, $14.95,

You will never look at Dickens' A Christmas Carol quite the same again after reading I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas. Written by Adam Roberts, a well-known satirist in England, the book lurches and shuffles through London and the European countryside, as zombies hunt for brains. When a zombie plague hits the heart of London on Christmas Eve, Ebeneezer Scrooge is the only one immune from the disorder. That doesn't mean he isn't affected by it--by no means. He and the spirits of Christmas Present, Future, and Past (in that order) endeavor to find the extent of the zombie plague, its cause, and how to stop it - if it can be stopped at all.

The book is graphic with its brain-munching zombies but chocked full of barbed quips about the Queen, businessmen, and well-loved authors. The cover of this little hardback is also in keeping with the theme. It appears to be a time-worn volume with black and white period illustrations that are marred by blood splatter and type O (or A, B, or AB) fingerprints. More illustrations are scattered throughout the little book, perfectly in keeping with a Dickensian work - except these show a lot of zombie chomping.

Warning: do not expect a cozy Christmas tale. Adam Roberts presents a grim laugh or two and leaves no Dickens character untouched by his satire. I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas is a hoot for any Terry Pratchett fan or a Dickens buff (though that aficionado should be open to unique twists in this ageless story). It's a book that should be chewed on.

Lawyer Geisha Pink
Jonathan Miller
COOL Titles
439 N. Canon Dr, Suite 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
9781935270102, $15.95,

In Jonathan Miller's latest thriller, "Lawyer Geisha Pink," Susie Song comments on one of Miller's own books. (It's a veiled reference to "that marginally famous Albuquerque lawyer turned writer.") You'd expect him to have her rave about the book. Instead, she says, "I don't think he gets female characters." On the contrary, Miller not only understands them quite well but is able to draw them with great distinction, even those in another culture.

The plot revolves around a million-dollar suit against an affluent family that caused the permanent maiming of rising golf star Susie Song. Susie asks her cousin, brand-new lawyer Jen Song, to represent her. Jen pulls her two half-sisters Judge Luna Cruz and law student Selena into the case. Though Miller's plot is strongly rooted in the law, he has more twists and surprises in it than any courtroom proceeding. Be assured, though, the novel isn't bogged down with legalese. This is most definitely a fast-paced thriller with guns, thugs, and the cold cockiness of the powerful.

Miller introduced Judge Luna Cruz in "LaBajada Lawyer," a book that followed his debut novel, "Rattlesnake Lawyer," about New Mexico prosecutor Dan Shepard. Intrigued by tough but beautiful Luna Cruz, Miller cast her in two other Judge Luna Cruz thrillers: "Conflict Contract" and "Volcano Verdict." In "Lawyer Geisha Pink," she takes a backseat to Jen Song who proves to be a gutsy gal who rises high above her checkered past.

If you haven't read a Jonathan Miller thriller, you should. He knows the law (he's a prosecutor by day), and he knows New Mexico extremely well, painting vivid portraits of its people and its urban landscape. And the stories will leave your breathless.

Suffering a Witch
R. K. Bohm
E-Book Time, LLC
6598 Pumpkin Road, Montgomery AL 36108
9781598248180, $14.95,

I first met Pastor Lou, a very open-minded Lutheran minister, in Testing the Spirits, the first book of this series, written by real-life Lutheran pastor R.K. Bohm. It was most welcome meeting as Pastor Lou encountered Larch, the proprietress of the local New Age store, and together they solved a town mystery and reached hands not only across pews but between churches when religious intolerance raised its ugly head in the peaceful Pennsylvania town of Tocksville. Always a progressive (and sometimes maverick) spiritual leader, Pastor Lou encounters followers of Wicca (also known as witches) and helps the townsfolk (and R. K. Bohm's readers) understand what that particular spiritual path is all about - and not what the Hollywood image of it is.

In Suffering a Witch, the third book in this series, Pastor Lou is once more in the midst of witches when one of them is found murdered. There is a locked door mystery here as well as a few other rather spooky elements such as colored flames popping up in the local cemetery. It takes Pastor Lou's sensible, don't-jump-to-conclusions approach, Larche's wealth of knowledge, and Police Chief Mac's professionalism to solve this particular mystery.

I've enjoyed Pastor Lou and Larch's adventures since that first book. This one certainly didn't disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed Pastor Lou's unconventional approach to his congregation and to controversy. Having lived in Lutheran country in the Northern Plains, I find Pastor Lou to be authentic if a tad more broadminded than some pastors I've known personally. He's always a delight, though.

I would suggest reading them all in order. The outcome of Gazing into Heaven, the second book, is talked of in Suffering a Witch and would be a spoiler if a reader wanted to fully enjoy all of the books in this series.

The Youngest Templar: Orphan of Destiny
Michael P. Spradlin
Puffin Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
9780142419595, $7.99,

Orphan of Destiny, the last book in The Youngest Templar trilogy, concludes the cliffhanger series about Tristan, a young Templar who was entrusted with returning the Holy Grail to England. He is joined in his quest by Robard Hode, Maryam, Little John, and Will. Yes, we are talking about the legendary Robin Hood and his merry men. However, Maryam of this story isn't the fair maiden who has lived in a nunnery, but a Middle Eastern warrior woman. This twist on an adventurous Grail story is further enhanced by Tristan's own story. Orphan of Destiny delivers answers to Tristan's origins and his place in the world.

As always, Michael P. Spradlin offers a great adventure tale with strong, multi-leveled characters. I reviewed the first two books in this series, and each one left me hanging desperately wanting to find out what happens next. Orphan of Destiny ties up all of the loose ends while offering some fresh adventures and more questions for Tristan. This is excellent fare for young readers but captures the interest of adults as well. Excellent reading!

Janie Franz

Karyn's Bookshelf

After Eli
Rebecca Rupp, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763658106, $15.99,

Piercing and surprisingly wry, this is a masterfully knit, intricately layered story of life and loss. Rupp melds the wrenching, wartime death of a brother and a young teen's budding awareness of what makes a true friend. Friendships, too, can be lost and should be cherished, learns 14-year-old Danny. Three years after the death of his 22-year-old brother, Eli, in Iraq, Danny and his parents are still grieving. Then in blows Isabelle, a free-spirited New Yorker visiting Danny's small town for the summer. Isabelle helps Danny regain an appreciation of full moons, lightening bugs, rushing brooks...and life in general. Danny and Isabelle also become friends with Walter, who has far more to offer than his nerdy appearance suggests. Ultimately, Danny must choose between being friends with Walter or remaining in the popular crowd he has long hung with. He must also face Isabelle's departure at summer's end. The friendship theme runs even deeper, as Danny begins working at an organic farm owned by friends of Eli's. They become mentors as Danny works through a myriad of issues. Rupp softens the story's many tough twists with just-right comic relief, particularly in the form of Isabelle's 9-year-old twin siblings, whose sole reason for inclusion seems to be to infuse laughter as needed. Good thing, because some moments are three-Kleenex-worthy. Rupp's skill as a writer is evident throughout, but particularly in her plotting. She starts the book, for instance, with Isabelle's final postcard to Danny and ends with a final letter from Eli; other purposefully constructed moments abound. Short paragraphs, zinger insights and exceptionally tight editing, in which virtually every sentence matters, will hold readers from start to finish. And Rupp keeps a few punches for the very end; just when you think the most profound chapters are past, there's more. Readers will laugh, cry, and think hard about what's most important in life.

Birgitta Sif, author and illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763662479, $16.99,

In a way that will instantly resonate with children who struggle socially, a young boy transitions from isolated, pretend friend play to discovering the joy of real companionship. In real life, children like Oliver may play alone for a variety of reasons, from living in a geographically remote location to disorders like autism that impede their social skills to simple shyness. Busy with books and puppets, Oliver seems outwardly content. Yet, he feels "different." He knows his solitary world isn't the norm. On every illustration on every page, others are pointedly interacting. One day, Oliver is no longer happy alone. Then, when his tennis ball bounces into the yard of a neighbor, he has a chance to extend himself socially. Sif, in her picture book debut, does an outstanding job of pointing out that we all need others. For many children, this is harder said than done. Children who are not good at pushing themselves into social situations will understand how hard is for Oliver to step out of his box. But they will also see the reward he reaps in a new friend. Sif's soft pencil drawings, in subdued hues, feel as gentle as the text. A memorable debut.

This is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen, author and illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763655990, $15.99,

Illustrative clues hilariously counter the mindset of a small fish who has stolen the hat of a large fish, in the follow-up to Klassen's best-selling, "I Want My Hat Back." "... he probably won't wake up for a long time," the small fish muses, as readers see that the big fish's eyes have indeed popped open. The small fish remains a step behind, as the big fish does notice that his hat is gone; does suspect who took it; does confirm the thief's identity; and does follow into a dense, weedy patch that is supposedly a foolproof hiding place. The thief's ultimate, apparent demise is a shocking in a way that will make kids laugh aloud. Really funny.

Charley's First Night
Amy Hest, author
Helen Oxenbury, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763640552, $15.99,

A beloved author-illustrator team crafts this sweet story about a puppy's first night at home. A young boy carries his new puppy home in a worn baby blanket that once was his. After introducing it to the house and listening as his parents set rules for its care, the boy settles the puppy into its bed in the kitchen. Of course, the puppy cries. Ultimately, going against a parental dictate that it must sleep in the kitchen, the boy lets the dog curl up in his bed. Mom finds them snuggled there, and stifles a giggle instead of ranting. Oxenbury's illustrations feel wonderfully old-fashioned. Scenes like a moonlit kitchen, as the boy tries to comfort his pup, beautifully compliment the tender tale. Soft and warm, a perfect bedtime read.

Boat Works
Tom Slaughter, author and illustrator
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley St., Maplewood, NJ 07040
9781609052157, $13.99,

Children will delight in the multiple, oversized flaps they must lift as they guess the answers to marine-inspired riddles. And a study, chunky board book format will ensure flaps stay intact. Each of the book's six spreads offer two illustrated "what am I?" clues as readers lift flaps. The six spreads feature a row boat, a sailboat, a ferry, a tugboat, an ocean liner and a harbor. The simple illustrations and stenciled typeface keep things accessible to even the youngest lap listener. Older children will also enjoy the guessing game. Great nautical fun.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Katherine's Bookshelf

Your Gift to Me
Bonnie Bartel Latino and Bob Vale
100 Enterprise Way Ste A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477478639, $12.99 pbk. / $4.99 Kindle,

Bonnie Bartel Latino and Bob Vale have teamed up to write a first-rate novel of romance and the military entitled Your Gift to Me, which won the gold medal for Military Super Romance at the Military Writers Society of America 2012. Available as a paperback or as an Amazon Kindle ebook, Your Gift to Me will take you away to Emily and Ted's imaginary pagoda to revel in their budding love story.

"'...we have to be careful. Once we create this house with identical images in our minds,' he stroked the center of her forehead, 'our home will forever be a part of both of us. You understand?'"

Both Emily and Ted have lost their respective spouses and are grieving in their own individual ways. They meet on a blind date and soon become entwined in each other's lives, especially their pain. Ted decides to help Emily alleviate her heartache and in doing so, works a miracle on himself with her help. The approach to this dual change in their lives is something that the reader will share as they pour through the pages of this unusual romance.

This is a book you do not want to miss. It is an entrancing story, written to interest everyone.

Bonnie Bartel Latino and Bob Vale met online in a military forum. Although they have never met in person, their correspondence evolved into a professional writing team that has lasted for over a decade. Your Gift to Me is the culmination of that collaboration. Bonnie is a former freelance columnist for Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe and was a military wife for three decades. She has won two national writing awards from the Military Writers Society of America. A correspondent for the Mobile Press-Register book page, Bonnie lives in Atmore, Alabama, with her husband, retired Air Force Colonel Tom Latino. Bob Vale is an award-winning graphic designer, writer, and photographer. He founded and is President of Graphic Word, a full service creative agency on the East Coast. Bob provides creative services to a broad range of clients in addition to his collaborative writing projects with Bonnie. He has designed and produced three published works of non-fiction. Bob is also a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He and his wife Janice live in New Jersey. They have two adult sons, Nicholas and Bryan.

Your Gift to Me has been nominated for a 2012 Book Award from the Military Writers Society of America. Based on reader reviews, the novel is Amazon's current #1 Top Rated War Fiction. It previously achieved the rank of #1 Top Rated Contemporary Romance and #1 Top Rated Romance. For several months the book has consistently remained in both genres' top three.

Blessing, Texas
Sherri Godsey
100 Enterprise Way Ste A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469967325, $13.00,

Sherri Godsey has written a different, but at the same time, a familiar story of romance and misunderstanding in her novel, Blessing, Texas. Although Blessing is a real town in Texas, Sherri Godsey has created a fictional town by the same name.

In Sherri's story, Mayor Jackson Bless has a vision for his town, Blessing, Texas and he has the "luck" of the Bless family. Enter Tanna Synfel, the person who is to evaluate whether Jackson's vision is even viable. Stir in an abandoned factory and a few local "characters" who believe wholeheartedly in Jackson's vision - or at least in Jackson - and you have a fascinating mix.

"Tanna bit her tongue. His irritation was justified, his rules logical and not unfair. He was the client and could decide what was accessible on the property. He could have her replaced, but apparently wasn't ready to do it yet. She had to tread lightly. The property was rife with environmental concerns and she didn't want to lose the chance to work on an interesting job."

Tanna does not believe that Jackson is living in the real world, but she was hired to do a job, so she begins working, in spite of her misgivings. She even thinks he is a bit despotic in his dealings with the townspeople. The real truth will come as a revelation to Tanna and possibly teach Jackson about relationships, or at least one relationship. Even with the misunderstandings between the two people, they are inexplicably drawn to each other.

This book is a fun read. You will get caught up in the town of Blessing, the townspeople and, most of all, Jackson and Tanna. Be sure to join them as they plot the direction of the town and its citizens.

Ms. Godsey began writing for personal pleasure when she was young, but never thought to seriously pursue a writing career. She has worked as an environmental consultant for almost 20 years. She belongs to the Dallas Area Romance Authors chapter of RWA. She has placed in numerous writing contests, including being a finalist twice in the RWA's Golden Heart Contest for Unpublished Writers. While she enjoys romance and has written several unpublished romance novels, her true voice comes to life in her first love, fantasy. Her duology, The Dragons' Veil and The Dragons' Vision, has been such fun to write, she is working on a series of tales about the various secondary characters in those two books. Sherri lives in Plano, Texas with her mother and Katie, a perky little Shorkie Tzu (1/2 Yorkie-1/2 Shih Tzu) who rules the homestead like a tyrant.

Angela 1: Starting Over
David A. Bedford
Eloquent Books
845 Third Ave, 6th Floor - 6016
NY, NY 10022
9781608607556, $25.50,

David A. Bedford has written an incisive book about teens in Angela 1: Starting Over. I personally have a little problem believing that teenagers would be able to make the adults in their lives believe a conspiracy about the school district, especially one as shocking as the one Mr. Bedford describes. But I do believe that they would be involved in bullying and, depending on their maturity, handle it as well as Angela and her friends do. It is a good lesson for teenagers to learn about bullying and how to handle it. The description of how a school board works is fine, except for the part about the board making decisions in executive session and then not voting on them in open session.

"Angela grew up in San Antonio, quite happy and content until the day, just under a year before, her father came into her room to talk. Angela knew something was wrong the instant she saw him."

Angela moves with her mother and little sister to Corpus Christi, Texas when her father leaves her mother. She is enrolled in honors classes and excels in her classes because of the educational work ethics taught by her mother, a librarian. She makes friends easily with like-minded students. But, for some reason, there is a clique who begins to harass her. There are several incidents that make it look like she is the troublemaker and she has to count on her honesty and her mother to prove she has done nothing wrong.

Angela and her friends go to the school board to right the injustices and show the board something that is much more disturbing than the bullying. Will they prove their innocence? Will they prove that there is criminal activity involved in the addition to their school? Read Mr. Bedford's exciting and interesting book about the adolescents and adults in the school.

David Bedford grew up in Argentina, then received his BA and MA in French at Texas Tech University with a minor in Spanish. He earned his Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education at the University of Texas at Austin and his MA in Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is now a faculty member and Spanish instructor at Texas Christian University. He is in the process of writing two sequels to Angela and has published a book of Spanish short stories.

Katherine Boyer

Kaye's Bookshelf

Rime of the Ancient Underwriter
Jim Salmon
Hobblebush Books
17-A Old Milford Road
Brookline, NH 03033
9780984592142, $18.95,

Rating: Excellent

Quoting from the back cover:

"A circumnavigation wasn't a desire, it was a need. Like Thoreau, I would not 'when I come to die, discover that I had not lived.'"

"Jim Salmon found out when he quit his job as an insurance executive and signed onto a three-masted barque for a nineteen-month circumnavigation of the globe. Here now is an account of his voyage of discovery aboard the Picton Castle out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The world voyage was the subject of a popular, sixteen-part series on Canadian cable television called Tall Ship Chronicles.

"Jim weathered storms at sea and stormy relations aboard ship, tramped through a steamy Panamanian jungle, climbed the rarified summit of Kilimanjaro, and tracked wildlife on the high plains of East Africa and the Australian Outback. There are pirates and a mutiny, but mostly his account is about people, places, and the human condition as seen through the eyes of a corporate exec turned seafarer."

A most excellent read! I thoroughly enjoyed Jim's account of his adventures and travels. Rime of the Ancient Underwriter is well-written, well-edited and well worth reading. I had a unique perspective from which to enjoy Jim's tale. I, too, was an underwriter at one time, for Fireman's Fund American Life. I, too, was involved in delivering yachts: cooking, shopping in foreign ports, standing watch, working the lines - worked the port stern line through the Panama Canal. The Picton Castle stopped at ports with which I was familiar, and the bars are still in the same places.

For those of us who don't have the driving need to circumnavigate the world, we can enjoy such an experience vicariously through the trials, tribulations, adventures, misadventures, good and bad times as recounted by this gifted author, Jim Salmon.

You won't be disappointed.

The Diet Dropout's Guide to Natural Weight Loss
Stan Spencer, PhD
Fine Life Books
9780983571704, $11.95,

Rating: Very Good

Quoting from the back cover:

"NO HYPE. NO FLUFF. This slim book is packed with myth-busting facts and practical advice.


-The truth about common weight loss myths
-The secret to losing weight and keeping it off
-Why 'fat genes' can't keep you from being thin
-How to naturally boost your metabolism
-How to calm cravings and quit emotional eating
-How to keep a slip from becoming a binge
-How to eat less without going hungry
-How to get more exercise and enjoy it
-And much more...

"With this book you will create your own weight loss plan - your easiest path to naturally thin. Take your first steps on the path today and LEAVE DIETING BEHIND FOREVER."

I like slim, little books packed with the facts you need to know. Dr. Spencer has put together a realistic program for you to consider in ten well-organized chapters. We all have read many books on dieting, and. I think Dr. Spencer's Chapter 3 - Emotional Eating - presents a helpful key to the problem of overeating and eating properly. Learn to meditate, relax and focus, and you will find your desire for food lessens.

This little books doesn't provide you with any miracle plan...just common sense eating and taking control of your life and eating habits. It is well-written and well-edited...a very professional presentation, easy to read, easy to understand.

Thank you Dr. Spencer for your contribution to this global problem.

Kaye Trout

Logan's Bookshelf

Fierce Compassion
Kristin & Kathryn Wong
New Earth Enterprises
9780979831829, $21.99,

America is the melting pot of the world, but the status was heavily resisted. "Fierce Compassion: The Life of Abolitionist Donaldina Cameron" explores another hidden side of the abolition movement, even after the federal abolition of slavery surrounding the American Civil War. Cameron did much to battle against the Chinese slave trade in California, where many young girls were used as sex slaves taken from their native land. Her story is one of being vehemently opposed and supported, and Kristin & Kathryn Wong hope to bring her story to light. "Fierce Compassion" is a strong addition to any biography and American history collection, recommended.

Smart Eating Made Simple
Jane Ibbetson
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468566598, $19.95,

Good diet can take us far in finding better health in our lives. "Smart Eating Made Simple" is a collection of nutrition advice from Jane Ibbetson who advises readers on better understanding nutrition on many levels and how better health can save our money, our health, and our lives. Cover to cover with plenty of advice to eat healthier, "Smart Eating Made Simple" is a strong and much recommended addition to general health collections.

Important Nonsense
Steven Brutus
Privately Published
9780615608808, $10.00,

The philosophy of the ages still stays with us, millennia later. "Important Nonsense: Essays in Philosophy" is a collections of writings on philosophy from Steven Brutus as he presents a study of the modern nature of philosophy and what it has evolved into. An experienced teacher in many philosophical or related fields, his writings offer much to ponder on the nature of humanity and the world, making "Important Nonsense" something to very much to consider, recommended.

Mind Game
Bob Rueff
RM Publishing, Inc.
c/o RMA Publicity
9780965639514, $14.95,

The modus operandi is often the first thing that must be figured out by those investigating a serial killer. "Mind Game" is a mystery novel from Bob Rueff as he explores the antics of a serial killer in the town of Bloomington, Minnesota. Commander Hankenson seeks the truth behind the second serial killer in his career, trying to figure out his grudge and protect the people who may be the next target. Weaving characters who seem all too real with those who seem like they push the boundaries of reality, "Mind Game" proves riveting and very much hard to put down, highly recommended.

Executive Wisdom
Reynier Lezcano
Smart Dollar Press, LLC
c/o ShapiroPR (publicity)
9780615549361, $12.95,

A business leader has to make decisions where the lives of many hang in the balance. "Executive Wisdom: Reflections for Today's Leaders" is an advisory guide from Reynier Lezcano as he advises readers on how he feels lack of leadership is the biggest problem in today's business world, an dhow understanding the essence of leadership can lead to greater levels of business success in many ways, balancing common sense with knowledge. "Executive Wisdom" is a strong pick for general business and leadership collections, not to be missed.

Brooks Firestone
Grundoon Publishers
9781463792862, $14.95,

For some, there is no greater joy in their lives than music. "Evensong" is an autobiography from Brooks Firestone, who shares his experiences with the joys of choir later in life. His talent for singing bass led him to a new career that involved joining many different choral groups and traveling the world. An uplifting read, "Evensong" is a fine addition to memoir and music collections focused on choir singing.

Defense of the Heart
Jamie Dell White
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469949741, $12.99,

For a friend, some are prepared to go to any extent. "Defense of the Heart" follows defense attorney Julie as she rushes to the defense of her friend Jenny, who is accused of grave crimes. Meeting with her co-counsel, who entices her with more than legal advice, she faces the mounting evidence against her friend, and growing concern for her son. "Defense of the Heart" is an enticing read for those seeking a blend of crime drama and romance.

Adina Pelle & Ken Coffman
Stairway Press
9780982773444, $22.95,

The odd nature of the world leads us into many questions. "Mesh" is a collection of short fiction with a strong element of memoir from Adina Pelle & Ken Coffman as they present an enticing delve into their minds, tagging off between chapters and offering a different viewpoint all throughout. With plenty to keep readers interest and much to think about, "Mesh" is a read that is well worth considering, recommended.

Pocket Poems
Laurie Haines
Privately Published
9780615582870, $12.95,

Poetry is writing that tries to capture the full spirit of the moment. "Pocket Poems: Unregretted Lessons from a Broken Heart" is a collection of poetry from Laurie Haines as she draws on her intimate history and life to create a read that comes out as personal, yet stories that resonate with us all. "Pocket Poems" is an enticing and much recommended pick for contemporary poetry collections, with an original style that will be hard to match elsewhere.

Judge Not...
Patti Leith
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9780578101125, $13.95,

Not everyone thinks like you. "Judge Not..." is a guide to reaching out and communicating with others, as Patti and Ken Leith advise readers to find the strength to communicate more effectively with others, by not being so quick to judge and generally becoming a more positive person in life. With plenty to consider for general life and success, "Judge Not..." is a motivational book with a good and solid message.

Tom Slone
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466357969, $14.95,

A good role model can go far in our lives. "Grounders: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey of Baseball, History, and Mentoring" is an advisory guide as Tom Sloane tries to give guidance to the many young boys and men out there who have often grown up without a father figure in their lives to follow. Drawing strongly on baseball for ideas, "Grounders" has plenty of sage advice that's well worth considering.

Carl Logan

Lois' Bookshelf

Healthy Religion
Walter Kania
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, Indiana 47403
1425924166, $19.98,

We almost had a shooting in my high school French class, and that was long before Columbine! A young man in the back row - I'll call him Albert - who until then had been quiet and almost unnoticeable, suddenly jumped up on being handed back his test. In one hand he held his test paper with an E on it, and in the other what we all assumed was a toy gun. He waved this and shouted at the teacher. "Woman, do you have any idea what you've done? You've flunked Jesus Christ!"

While students tittered, the teacher paused in handing out papers and stared at him in astonishment. He went on. "Don't laugh. I never told anyone until now, but you force me to reveal myself. This is it, people, the Second Coming. Now the whole world will know. I'm Jesus Christ returned, and you, woman, have just flunked the Lord himself. Think what that means for your chances of going to heaven!"

The teacher eyed the gun uneasily but somehow kept her cool. She answered calmly. "I didn't flunk anyone, Albert. You did that yourself, by giving the wrong answers."

"Wrong? Christ can't be wrong. I know every language on this earth. You're the one who's wrong."

I can't say the rest of us were frightened; I think everyone else assumed, as I did, that the gun was a toy. At first we were merely diverted by the delay in lessons. Yet we did begin to feel uneasy as the obviously crazy young man rambled on about how he'd long known he was Jesus Christ and how he'd hoped for a more triumphal moment to reveal the fact to the world. As time went on, what had first seemed to us a joke became a threat, especially when two boys tried to head for the door and were sharply reprimanded by their rampaging fellow student. They eyed the gun and apparently decided not to take a chance about its being real. Following his instructions, with a shrug they resumed their seats.

Luckily, a passing teacher overheard the ruckus and summoned the principal, who entered the room stealthily followed by two male teachers, and together they wrestled the gun from Albert's hand and dragged him to the hall. Police cars soon appeared outside and Albert was taken away. The principal returned to inform us that the gun had indeed been a real one, loaded. While we marveled, belatedly, at our narrow escape, class was dismissed and we were told we were free to go home for the day if we felt unable to carry on. Most of us chose instead to sit on the front lawn and discuss the experience while waiting for school to be out. We wanted to play Big Shot and report to the other students on what had happened.

As to Albert, he was sent to the State mental institution. In subsequent days we learned more about him. He'd been raised in a very religious home where he was made perpetually conscious of being a sinner. Apparently, when at puberty he experienced sexual - possibly homosexual? - feelings, the guilt was too much for him, and he finally rejected it by identifying with the ultimate purity - Jesus Christ.

The experience left me with a lifetime interest in the effects of religion on the psyche, so I was instantly drawn to Walter Kania's book when I came upon it. I've often wondered how religious extremists can fool themselves so effectively. Since the days of Albert's revelations, we've watched lost souls from Jonestown to Heaven's Gate self-destruct, while equally lost souls in the Muslim world pursue some fantasy of possessing many virgins in the afterlife. Every one of them has elicited the same wonderment: How could anyone believe that? Countless commentators have attempted, unsuccessfully, to answer the question.

The world is becoming more and more polarized. Western extremists destroy abortion clinics and force non-scientific views of creation on the public schools. Muslim extremists destroy World Trade towers, embassies, and other symbols of Democracy. All are based on the same assumption: that they alone possess all truth and righteousness, that others are wrong and evil. Extremists all believe they have some sort of direct channel to the mind of God, that they know, and others do not, what God wants. The ultimate arrogance, it's the basic premise of unhealthy religion.

According to Kania's view, healthy religion is based on love, caring, and compassion, and views the world as basically a good place where most people, most of the time, manifest goodwill and good intentions. Unhealthy religion sees most people as "beyond the pale" and in need of conversion to whatever religion the holder of the belief subscribes to. In unhealthy religion, the poor are moochers too lazy to make an effort in their own behalf, while healthy religion sees them as victims of circumstance entitled to aid.

Though confessing himself more oriented toward sociology than psychology, the author, a clinical psychologist, does an excellent job of interpreting psychologists like Jung and Allport from a layman's viewpoint, making their esoteric views understandable to the common reader. On the whole, the book successfully winds its way through the jungle of many religions and pinpoints the commonality of all of them, and the ways they can go awry. With chapters on issues such as Personality and Religion, Mythology and Religion, the book is an interesting read as well as a pithy statement of the route to good mental health.

Dead Man's Switch
Barbara Seranella
Thomas Dunn Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010
9780312361709, $23.95,

This book documents a train wreck on a Southern California commuter train, but not the one that really happened. The real wreck was caused by texting, the engineer being diverted and not paying attention. This one was a deliberate gesture of sabotage resulting in a derailment. The deaths become murder and a crisis management expert, Charlotte Lyon, called in by the railroad company, becomes the sleuth. Hers is an interesting and unusual point of view, very different from that of the standard policeman or even the amateur detective. And while pursuing the investigation from this oblique slant, we are given an added bonus: the author, as a former mechanic, is knowledgeable about the workings of train switches and can tell us in exact detail how the derailment was accomplished.

All this adds greatly to the basic fascination of whodunit and whydunit, always interesting questions to us mystery buffs. Besides offering much otherwise unavailable information, the book provides a baffling and fast-action plot and an interesting and unusual heroine. The tragedy is that the author died shortly after writing the book. One could have hoped for many more of these to come. But the volume left to us by Barbara Seranella is still a great read and highly recommended.

Lois Wells Santalo

Margaret's Bookshelf

Maximum Success With LinkedIn
Dan Sherman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468167887, $16.95,

LinkedIn is the social media for professionals of many fields. "Maximum Success with LinkedIn: Dominate Your Market, Build a Worldwide Brand, and Create the Career of Your Dreams" is a guide to using LinkedIn more effectively. From building a more solid and complete network for your business or your career, create connections with customers, and more, "Maximum Success with LinkedIn" is well wroth considering for business and career collections.

Do Different
Eddie Sharpe
FastPrint Publishing
9781780353296, $15.50,

Going with the crowd can get you brief popularity, but the ultimate sum of one's happiness is the opinion of the self. "Do Different" is a memoir from Eddie Sharpe as he shares his own story of trudging through life and realizing what he wanted out of it, seeing the world in his own way living abroad and finding something well worth living for. "Do Different" is a strong addition to self-help and inspirational collections.

Fudge Day
Rich Skalstad
c/o Colonus Publishing

Parents often force their children into their path, and the children often revolt. "Fudge Day" is a novella from Rich Skalstad, who tells of a few women trying to find what they want out of their lives. Mitzi and Audrey both face turning points in their lives, a mother who cannot have her daughter forever, and a daughter who realizes she can never cut her mother out of her life. "Fudge Day" is an intriguing novel of a unique relationship, worth considering.

Young Master
David Warren
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470091057, $9.95,

The politics of the Roman senate are complex and vicious. "Young Master" is a novel of three individuals in different states of the Roman Empire's government where three individuals with their own ideas on how best serve Rome, and how the weight of their duty may crush them quickly as they enter big stakes between factions. "Young Master" is a riveting read for those who love the Roman setting, recommended.

From Adam to Omega
A. R. Roberts
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781457905045, $30.95,

What lies beyond our own atmosphere has baffled humanity for thousands of years. "From Adam to Omega: An Anatomy of UFO Phenomena" discusses UFOs and extraterrestrial involvement in earth, as A. R. Roberts presents his own findings on the existence of UFOs, their involvement in history, possible cover ups, and much more. "From Adam to Omega" is an intriguing take on the possible place of aliens and otherworldly influence in our world, worth considering for metaphysical readers.

Sowers of God
Glenn K. Graham
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470164188, $14.95,

One's routine job becomes a lot more difficult when one is faced with the drive of terror against them. "Sowers of God" follows Johan 'Oxy' Taylor, overseer of the Lunar Helium mines, which supplies the fuel for Earth's fusion reactors. But when terrorists who call themselves the Sowers of God strike, Oxy is set against them, trying to understand their cause, and protect the love he had lost for so long but found once more. "Sowers of God" is a riveting read of science fiction, much recommended.

The Beautiful Anthology
Elizabeth Collins, editor
TNB Books
9780982859841, $14.99,

Beauty offers its allure in many forms. "The Beautiful Anthology" is a collection of poems, essays, prose, and other forms of art, compiled under editor Elizabeth Collins banner, who presents a wide array of thoughts on the nature of beauty and how it manifests in our life, often shielded from view by our own bad ideas. "The Beautiful Anthology" is well worth considering to any community library focusing on fiction and poetry compilations.

Personal Baggage
Margaret McMillon
Privately Published
9781461156444, $15.99,

Healthcare can be murder. "Personal Baggage" is a novel from Margaret McMillon discussing the current issues surrounding the modern healthcare system, following Nurse Penny Pewitt, who is trying to bring in more money for her family. Noticing potential danger in the system, her life may be turning against her in other ways that brings about death and fraud wherever it turns. "Personal Baggage" is a strong pick for contemporary fiction collections.

Stephen Mateo
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463410803, $18.99,

Leaving your home country always has its own risks, and fleeing fascism adds an extra layer of terror to the table. "Journey" is a novel surrounding Tomas, a young man who with regrets flees fascist Spain under Franco, and travels to America, and how those around with him deal with a world where has seemingly vanished into the night. "Journey" is a choice pick for historical fiction collections, recommended.

Colored Floodlights
Frank Drury
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475011395, $14.00,

Worn out by war, some take time to come back to their life. "Colored Floodlights" is a novel as Frank Drury tells the story of Afghanistan veteran Roy Calhoun. As he meets and befriends psychologist Parker Boyce, their bond grows as Roy visits many Occupy Wall Street protests throughout the country and tries to understand the discontent, while figuring out who he truly is. "Colored Floodlights" explores the mind of the veteran and the lost generation, a read well worth considering for those seeking contemporary literary fiction.

The National League Sucks
Jim Frank
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475042979, $12.99,

The stats give you hard, objective numbers to make sure your argument is right. "The National League Sucks...and some others too." is a sports statistics guide from Jim Frank, who seeks to delve into the sport of baseball and its numbers, presenting a sabermetrics driven argument on the superiority of the American League in Major League Baseball, comparing crossover players and performances of teams. "The National League Sucks" is a strong pick for those who enjoy a good old in-depth sports argument, very much recommended.

I'm Afraid That Won't Do
Sam Armato
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456857196 $29.99

I'm Afraid That Won't Do is an allegorical novel written in the general style of a play (though not with stage-specific blocking); the story is told almost entirely through dialogue, with occasional asides in parenthesis mentioning what characters are doing at the time. The relationship between the main character, Victor, and his love interest Beatrice ("Betty") is intentionally parallel to the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. Victor's conflicts with his dual nature of flesh and spirit lead to his pursuit to embrace spirituality and purity over loveless pleasures of the senses; the title refers to his response when Betty tries to seduce him as a test of will. At one point Victor abducts Betty, but this is not a typical kidnapping; he treats her with high respect, and eventually the guilt he feels over keeping her captive and over his past sexual relations with a prostitute drive him to attempt suicide. Victor's journey also mirrors the New Testament parable of Christ's death and resurrection, and the chronicle culminates in a dramatic courtroom finale. As an allegory, I'm Afraid That Won't Do prompts the reader to think long and hard about what true Christian spirituality demands of ordinary humans, and the role of organized worship in following the path of Christ.

Margaret Lane

Marjorie's Bookshelf

Appaloosa Flanks and Other Poems
Kate Marsh
Finishing Line Press
PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324
9781622290390, $12.00,

As far as I'm concerned Kate Marsh is an up and coming Northwest poet superstar. I've admired her poems for some time now, and I don't read much poetry. Hers I read. This is her first chapbook and a delight it is. How about:

In the midst of this high
Risk district
A gambler's sidekick
Sits and watches,
Paces and waits,
Marking time
By the shuffles,
The blackjack deals

And the click
Of the whores' high heels.
From MGM Coffee Shop--1976


I liquefy when you come near;
The molten lava that was my body
Flows along the planes of your bones
And into hollows.

My mind follows my muscles
Following yours, sinews
Fluid like honey,
Warm and rhythmic like a good song.
From Like Honey

Both of these excerpts are from two of her poems that appear in Appaloosa Flanks. It's a slim volume with nineteen poems but worth every penny. Her poems are earthy and sensuous and are the kind you want to read again and again. Kate's poems have appeared in Avocet and Magazine of the Guild for Structural Integration. She won first place and honorable mention in the Kay Snow Writing Contest of Oregon's Willamette Writers, an an award from Oregon's Writers of the Purple Sage, and another honorable mention from the Oregon Poetry Association's, Spring, 2012 contest. She won the Oregon Senior Poet Laureate competition for 2011, part of the Amy Kitchener Foundation and one of her poems was published in their 2011 on-line anthology. Watch this lady. You'll hear more from her.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
Sherman Alexie
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316219303, $19.99,

I laughed, I cried, and read the whole book in one Sunday afternoon. What a writer, what a story. I liked it better than Alexie's short story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. We need an Arnold sequel. Arnold, aka Junior, is the fourteen year old Spokane Indian boy whose coming of age odyssey is the subject of the book. We learn, among other things, about Junior's relationship with his friend, Rowdy, life on the reservation, going to school off the reservation, basketball, the deaths of too many friends and relatives. Alexie is not afraid to write about controversial subjects, but his humor makes them bearable. We view Junior's take on painful subjects through his humor, like when he describes his home reservation as "located approximately one million miles north of Important and two billion miles west of Happy." The accolades for the book are endless. It won the National Book Award. It is listed as young adult, but is easily enjoyed by adults. I noticed on Amazon that there are teacher and library editions for sale, and The School Library Journal on Amazon gives an excellent summary under the reviews. The illustrations by Ellen Forney are funkily perfect. I took out the book from the library and then bought the e-book edition, just because I wanted to keep the book and support the author. Drop everything and read this book.

Marjorie Thelen

Mayra's Bookshelf

Call Me Tuesday
Leigh Byrne
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463690021, $12.49,

A mother suffering from mental illness.

A little sweet girl who wants nothing more than her mother's love.

Family members who turn their backs to the blatant horror that is staring them in the face.

Call Me Tuesday was a tough book to read. Based on true events, it is a fictionalized story of what really happened to author Leigh Byrne while growing up. It reads like a memoir and in its true sense, that's just what it is.

Using first person point of view, Byrne recounts her childhood while growing up with a mother who, after falling from the stairs and suffering a head injury, becomes unstable and increasingly violent and sadistic. The horror of the scenes is heightened by the author's simple, straight-forward style. However, the true tragedy of this story lies in the fact that other people, including the girl's father, knew what was going on but chose to ignore it.

Call Me Tuesday reminds us that situations like this happen more often than we think. It reminds us that we should be aware of this problem and also to act and not just watch, if the situation ever calls for it. I hope the writing of this work was therapeutic for Byrne. It takes hope and courage to put everything down on paper and share it with readers the way she did. Of course, it's a plus that the prose is clean and flows well and that the voice is tragically honest without being melodramatic.

Journey in Time
Chris Karlsen
Books to Go Now
P. O. Box 1283, Poulsbo, WA 98370
B005KP18XS, $2.99,

Shakira Constantine is a beautiful, independent, successful London attorney. One night she meets handsome Alex Lancaster. There's no denying that the sparks are mutual, even though she isn't impressed by his riveting good looks and acting career.

Then fate plays a trick on her when he is unjustly sued for sexual harassment and she ends up representing him. Of course, now that he's her client, they get to spend a lot more time together.

Risking venturing into the boundaries of unethical behavior, she accepts his invitation to spend a weekend in the countryside. He promises to behave and also swears that the weekend will be strictly professional.

Nothing, however, prepares her for what happens next...

Walking in the woods one day, they experience a moment of abrupt, strange disorientation and find themselves in front of a Norman medieval stone castle. Everyone around them is dressed in medieval fashion and speaks in an archaic way just like in The Canterbury Tales.

Unable to believe her eyes, Shakira thinks the setting is for one of his movies. But nothing prepares her for the truth...

Journey in Time is a steamy, time-travel romance story with a strong, independent heroine and an irresistible, warm and caring hero. Karslen does an excellent job with the historical setting and characters. I really felt myself transported in time and enjoyed all the historical details.

There's also a lot of good humor at times to balance the serious segments. Abundant love scenes spice up the prose and there's enough tension to keep readers turning pages.

I look forward to reading more novels from this talented author.

Mayra Calvani

Paul's Bookshelf

Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes
J.R. Campbell & Charles Prepolec
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
P.O. Box 1714, Calgary AB T2P 2L7 CANADA
9781894063609, $15.95,

Here is a new collection of fantasy/mystery stories about that most famous of detectives, Sherlock Holmes.

Who was Sherlock Holmes before he became a famous detective? He was a student at Cambridge University, who, while living in Paris, learned the art of detection from another famous person, Edgar Allan Poe. Holmes and Watson travel to the English countryside, where, according to the locals, the Devil himself is causing hoofprints from invisible horses to appear in the turf during frequent storms.

A book, but not just any book, has disappeared from the monastery where it has been under lock and key for several hundred years. It is a compendium of evil, hideous acts; when anyone reads from the book, they are compelled to enact what they have read. The passage then disappears from the book. Can a book actually be a malevolent, living thing?

Despite Holmes' well-known disbelief in the supernatural, a strange green slime may be legitimately alien. It hypnotizes its victim, before it turns them into a mass of green protoplasm. In another story, Holmes is assisted by a certain Count named Dracula. Another tale takes place in 21st Century Las Vegas.

Five years previously, a disaster on a salvage ship left a man on the ocean bottom in a diving bell. Now, he seems to be alive and communicating from the diving bell. Is it possible, or is the explanation more down-to-earth?

This is a gem of a collection. Fantasy fans will love it, and so will Holmes fans. Those who enjoy good writing, in general, will also love it.

The Lurking Man
Keith Rommel
Sunbury Press
2200 Market St., Camp Hill PA 17011
9781620060896, $14.95,

This novel is about a woman who is forced to take a hard look at her life, and the choices that she made to get her to this point.

Cailean will never be nominated for Mother of the Year. She has taken to alcohol to ease the memory of a terrible thing that happened to her when she was a child (it's not what you think). She doesn't drink simply to get drunk; she drinks to pass out. She and Wilson, her husband, are separated. Her record for visiting her son, Beau, who simply wants his mother to love him, is not good. One day, Cailean shows up at Wilson's door, sober, and convinces him to let her take beau to her condo for just a few hours. The intention for Cailean is to show Beau and Wilson that she really can change. Things do not end well.

Existing somewhere between life and death, Cailean finds herself trapped in a cone of bright light in a snowstorm. She is being held there by a humanoid being named Sariel, who forces her to take a hard look at her life. She finds out just what it was that turned her into such a mean and rotten person, filled with self-hatred (again, it's not what you think). Cailean also sees what has happened to the "good" part of her. At the end, does Cailean have an Ebenezer Scrooge-like epiphany, and work to regain the confidence of Beau and Wilson? Does she even survive the encounter with Sariel?

This book will certainly get the reader to look inside themselves, to see if they have any Cailean-like behavior. It is recommended for everyone, especially those in the grip of alcoholism. Do you and Cailean share a similar reason for your actions?

Crossed Genres: Year One
Bart R. Leib and K.T. Holt
Crossed Genres
P.O. Box 45316, Somerville, MA 02145
9781449996949, $9.99,

Crossed Genres is a speculative fiction magazine based in Massachusetts. These stories come from the first year of its existence.

There is a tale about a pitched battle that takes place in a diner, after closing time, among the condiments. A superhero named The Sentinel is getting on in years, with a wife and daughter who don't want him to go out each night, fighting crime.

A story is narrated by the only AI on Mars. It was part of a group of 2 AI's and 300 robots that were to build shelters for human colonists to start terraforming the planet. They hold a burial service for an early human rover found on the surface, rusted into uselessness.

Earth has become a ghetto, with all the rich people living in orbit or on the Moon. A man, and his family, build a rocketship in a junkyard, intending to head for the Moon, where everyone is free. England has a new weapon in its war against Germany; witches and warlocks who knock enemy airplanes out of the air.

My favorite story takes place in near-future America. The US Army upgrades it soldiers with things like artificial eyes, and titanium ribs. The soldiers are supposed to re-enlist for two years to help pay for the upgrades. If they don't, the Army no longer provides maintenance for the upgrades, leaving them vulnerable to gangs who kill just to get the upgrades.

There is a good variety of stories, and they are all well-done. The reader will not go wrong with this book.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

Practice of Honor: Putting into Daily Life the Culture of Honor
Danny Silk
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768441352, $24.99,

A Biblical Perspective - Equipping Believers for Leadership

"Practice of Honor: Putting into Daily Life the Culture of Honor" is designed as a companion to Danny Silk's earlier book "Culture of Honor." The book is formatted as a workbook/tool to help the reader assimilate, embrace, and process the core values of honor and leadership.

Each chapter opens with a relevant illustration, or first-hand example to help the reader recognize and apply lessons on guidance for making right choices, identify their destiny, and practical principles from the scriptures that empower the believer to live a supernatural lifestyle based on core values of leadership. Silk helps the reader understanding and recognize their identity in God through practical exercises, important instruction, and motivational inspiration.

Frequent opportunity is given to discuss, reflect, or record responses and personal application to a series of stimulating questions. Additional suggestions are given for use in a small group, with a friend, in a mentoring/discipleship relationship or in personal Bible study.

Tools are included that address: Tips for asking questions, problem solving, leading effective discussions, creating challenging application ideas, identifying problems, and responding to the unrepentant individual.

A chapter is dedicated to developing a wealth mindset and perspective with keys to finding financial freedom. Other topics include: The priorities of leadership, issues of confrontation, developing trust, and a call to transforming cities for Christ.

Danny Silk is a gifted and anointed communicator. His writing is direct, rich in insight into equipping leaders through spiritual challenges, and an understanding of how to incorporate Biblical principles and daily life and ministry.

"Practice of Honor" is an important and timely study guide for believers willing to become revolutionaries in revival, reformation, and seeking an anointing and transformation into supernatural living.

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

Gangster to Doctor
Ray A. Ransom, PH.D.
Samson Publishing, Inc.
P. O. Box 22934
West Paul Beach, FL 33416-2934
9780974941363, $13.95,

A Powerful Story of Poverty to Riches, Crime to Prison, Purpose and Principles
"Gangster to Doctor" is Ray A. Ransom's true life story. Ray's story reads like a definitive novel of the south. Ray was born turning the tumultuous years of political unrest in the late 1950s. His earliest memories include discussions overheard in his home regarding racial tension, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the assassination of Malcolm X.

Overcoming unimaginable hurdles Ray became vitally influenced through his involvement in school integration in the 1960's. Ray made a promise to his grandmother at the age of seven to become a doctor. This commitment became the driving force and Ray's life purpose. A purpose that took turned into an amazing journey before reaching its achievement.

As a teenager Ray became a martial arts master. At age twenty Ray was already a father raising three children. A year later he was Florida's youngest real estate broker. At the same time he was establishing himself as a man to be feared. He took upon himself a form of street justice as a result of being betrayal by trusted partners and his mistrust of law enforcement agencies.

Ray became a millionaire by his twenty-fifth birthday. A series of encounters with the law forced him out of real estate resulting in his becoming a drug-dealing gangster. In time he was on the top of the Division of Organized Crimes list, indicted on fifteen federal counts, and sentenced to serve sixteen years in prison.

During his time in prison Ray earned a B. A. degree, an MBA, and a Ph.D. degree. This fulfilled the commitment he made to his grandmother to become a doctor. Ray's writing is engaging, written with purpose, and highly informative. He warns the reader of the results of bigotry, racism, injustice, and needed social reforms.

Today Ray draws on his life experiences to coach and educate his readers on the risks of misdirected pursuits and their consequences. Ray's life is a testimony of the higher purpose and plan of God for Ray. During his imprisonment he changed the thousands of prisoners to follow a better path. He has contributed to prison reform, promoted proactive programs and training for at risk youth.

"Gangster to Doctor: The True Life Story of a South Florida Gangster who Became a PH. D." is a powerful account of poverty to riches, crime to prison, purpose and principle.

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

The Power of the Imagination
Kerry Kirkwood
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 127257-0310
9780768403145, $15.99

Spirituality, Creative Imagination, and Supernatural Vision

Kerry Kirkwood removes the mystery and confusion prevalent in the minds of many evangelicals today regarding the principle of "imagination" as a source of spiritual power in a Biblical context in his book "The Power of the Imagination."

Kirkwood skillfully weaves a pattern of inspiration, information, and challenge through a practical progression of step by step instructions on how to strengthen and develop Godly imagination in a balanced Biblical way. He puts an emphasis on using the power of magnification and the power of love to see things through the eyes of God. Kirkwood maintains that everything in scripture revolves around God's love as administered and imparted by the Holy Spirit.

Using an emphasis on a focus on potential, graphic impressions, imaginative communication, Kerry describes the excitement which follows when we see our plans become reality, once we have dared to believe. These experiences testify to the creative ability we have to change our circumstances. Terry also explores the concepts of dreams as a tool for revealing images of destiny, the creative imagination of childhood, and the precise gift of prophecy using real life experiences and Biblical examples to illustrate the scriptural principles of the power of the imagination as the result of an overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

Kerry's writing goes beyond theoretical, is validated scripturally, and evidenced experientially.

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

God, You've Got Mail: 15 Keys to Abundant Provision
Danette Joy Crawford
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
97807684703077, $15.99

A New Perspective on Peace, and Potential

"God, You've Got Mail: 15 Keys to Abundant Provision" presents fifteen powerful principles described by Danette Crawford as secrets to abundant provision. Danette openly shares lessons she has learned through personal heartaches, spiritual battles, and victories won.

The book includes a balance of carefully selected Bible verses offering admonitions, encouragement, hope, and promise. Biblical examples, testimonies and stories instruct the the reader in matters of obedience to God while internalizing these faith based keys to unlock His promises.

Three important features included at the end of each chapter focus on:

- One of the fifteen "little keys to abundant provision"
- Questions for Reflection and Personal Application
- A prayer suggestion directly aimed at pursing examples and aims discussed within the chapter

Crawford included lessons in prudent fiscal management as well as the importance of recognizing God as your provider. These lessons are directed at providing helpful in these uncertain and challenging economic times. Other important lessons included: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude, acquiring new levels of faith, and the importance of develop a life style of prayer.

Danette Joy Crawford's writing conveys sincerity, empathy, humor, and the faith principles of which she writes. Articulate, convincing, practical encouragement and inspiration for followers of Christ in every circumstance.

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

Power to Change Your World
Danny McDaniel
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768402827, $15.99

Becoming an Agent of Change in the World Today

"Power to Change Your World" is aimed at helping the reader identify, recognize, and connect with the supernatural power of God. Throughout the book Danny McDaniel captures the simplicity of the Gospel message and the transformational power of the Holy Spirit available to the Christrian.

Using an easy to read and understand writing style Danny expounds profound truths from the life and teaching of Jesus. He explores in detail each facet of the mandate of Jesus to heal the sick, cast out devils, cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, and the other signs that are to "follow those that believe."

Danny relates real life stories, Biblical examples, and personal life experiences to illustrate the commission given by Jesus to his disciples in Mark 16:15-18. He provides a ministry model with step by step guidelines and instructions to follow while collaborating with the Holy Spirit in miracle working power.

Readers who are willing to put aside preconceived ideas to trust God for understanding, and who are willing to accept the truth of God's Word at face value will benefit from the bold courageous teaching on the supernatural the power available to the Christian who is not limiting God.

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

Richard R. Blake, Reviewer

Sandra's Bookshelf

Coming Out Can be Murder
Renee James
Windy City Publishers
2118 Plum Grove Rd. #349
Rolling Meadows, IL 6008
9781935766285, $12.99 print / $4.29 Kindle Edition

"I have no idea of why I said I would review this book. The genre is something I would normally never choose. It is so far out of my comfort zone. That being said, I have to tell you that the author is really good. I felt I would just read a few chapters and then return the book saying I can't read this. It goes against all of my beliefs.

My problem was the characters seem to draw me into the story. I loved Bobbi and hated what all she went through. The ending was a complete surprise. I thought I was so smart that I had everything already worked out.

This book is not for everyone. It has to do with transgender people, lesbians and gays. Plus, some things I had no knowledge of. It was a learning experience for me. Would I like to read this genre again? I don't think so but not for the reasons most may think.

The writing was interesting and revealing. I am sorry for anyone who is treated like trash. There is an old saying and it is, "God Don't Make No Junk."

There are a lot of people and kids out there that could be helped by this book. Some that may be thinking about suicide. While this book is a very good mystery, it could be also saving someone's life. "

Rated PG 18

Jungle Jeopardy
Mary Montague Sikes
Oak Tree Press
140 E. Palmer St., Taylorville, IL 62568
9781610090247, $12.95,

When I first started reading this book I thought I must be missing something. Then I looked at the back of this book and realized it was part of a series. But, with small parts of the history that the author gives, I was able to understand what was going on in the story.

This book is filled with adventure, suspense, love and mystery. You will walk along with Dana, Clifton, Tyler and Mick, as they make their way through a wild jungle trying to find a lost cave that is filled with all types of treasures that Dana's grandfather hid there.

They are confronted with drug dealers, and a black jaguar which Dana called Billy, that follows them and has saved them more than once.

I have really enjoyed this book, and know that if you like suspense, adventure, mystery and a romance that came alive again you will enjoy this book. It has something for everyone.

Rated G

Sandra Heptinstall

Teri's Bookshelf

The Black Stiletto
Raymond Benson
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090204, $25.95,

Most of us think that we know our parents extremely well. They have no secrets that we do not know and as grown children we have judged their lives as being rather dull and routine. What would you do though, if you discovered that your mother actually was a mysterious, caped, crime-fighting vigilante from years ago. This legendary crusader was almost a comic-book heroine whose identity had never been discovered. Her escapades made her a friend of the people, feared by the mobbed, and wanted by law enforcement.

Accountant Martin Talbot's mother is in a nursing home since she is suffering from Alzheimer's. Her memory isn't wasn't it used to be and she usually does not recognize him during his weekly visits. Since she has moved to the home, Martin has emptied her house and placed it for sale but it's just sitting there, vacant.

Being a single-parent to a teen-aged daughter is excitement in Martin's life. That is until he discovers his mother's diary of her life in the 1950s in New York. She explains why she ran away from her home in Texas to successfully begin a new life in New York at the age of fourteen. This is definitely a shock to Martin.

Now fifty-years later in the Chicago area, Martin is engrossed with his mother's previous life through her diary while his career has hit a dead-end. At first, he tests the information in his mother's diary by mentioning a name from it and watching how his mother miraculously and coherently reacts.

At this same time back in New York, a man is released from being in prison and he has one goal, revenge by killing the one who put him there, the Black Stiletto.

The Black Stiletto is a well-developed novel based on a diary and revenge. This story combines realism with balancing law enforcement and justice while dealing with the everyday routine challenges with an aging parent suffering from a debilitating disease. Also the idea of viewing our parents through different lenses makes this an interesting life lesson. How well do you really know your parents?

The Black Stiletto is an intriguing tale through the hum-drum daily routines of the realistic character of Martin Talbott. The characterizations are visual and well-developed in an unusual tale of creating a real-life action hero, the Black Stiletto.

Raymond Benson has written several books including many James Bond, 007 novels. His writing has been nominated for both a Shamus and an Edgar.

After reading The Black Stiletto, I plan to look for more books by Raymond Benson as well as wonder about the secrets my parents never told me. I wonder if there is a hidden diary, cape, and a stiletto somewhere?

The Killing Way
Tony Hays
Forge Books
Tom Doherty Associates
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765319456, $14.99,

Most of us have heard the legends of King Arthur with the sword in the stone along with Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. This magical story is now believed to be based on a real person and time, though probably without much magic. Tony Hays book, The Killin Way, approaches the legends as a realistic mystery of these early times, complete with crime.

As the ruling king ages, he plans to name his successor with Arthur as the likely choice. Even though Arthur serves basically as a tribal king, his chances are weakened when a woman's body is found outside his close friend and advisor, Merlin's house. The woman was killed with Merlin's knife that he loaned to someone. He just can't remember who. Also Merlin is a little unusual and the town people have already judged and condemned him to death and begin to stone his house.

Arthur wisely chooses an old friend, Malgwyn to investigate this murder and to discover the truth of whether or not Merlin killed the woman, and if not, who did and why. Added to that, Malgwyn hates Arthur for saving his life. When a Saxon cut off his arm and left him to die during a battle, Arthur rescued him forcing him to become a one-handed scribe. Malgwyn has never forgiven him for that.

The Killing Way is a fascinating tale weaving the old legends into a realistic tale of the times including the constant war with the Saxons, the adjustment from being ruled by the Romans, the Druids with the own religion and followers, the Picts mixing in the society, and Arthur's stand with Christianity. All of these are combined to make this story a history lesson woven through the murder.

This book is well-researched and organized into a logical and realistic story. The part about the early Christians with the Druids was fascinating in this culture with their family traditions.

Texas author, Tony Hays, is both a novelist and journalist. He has previously written Murder in the Latin Quarter, On the Banks of the River: A History of Hardin County, Tennessee, and since this first novel in the Arthurian Mystery series, has additionally written The Stolen Bride, The Divine Sacrifice, and The Beloved Dead.

The Killing Way is a superb historical mystery novel, truly weaving the past into the story. Personally, I definitely plan to read his other novels in this series.

Portrait of Malice
Sanjay Sanghoee
Agni Books
Amazon Digital Services
B008JOZCVG, $1.99,

Everyone has heard about the art that was stolen during World War II by the Nazis, but never recovered. It always makes you wonder if it is stored in a Swiss bank or a hidden vault in some remote location inside a mountain.

However, there is the true story of the Goudstikker family who received international attention after the loss of their art which was sold to the Nazis, reclaimed by the Dutch government, and after a law suit, finally restored to the original owners. Portrait of Malice is based on this family's long quest to regain the art that was stolen from them.

Ethan Wolf is not enjoying life. He is a former police detective who had the bad habit of gambling and taking little payoffs. His wife is in a coma depending on life support. He needs the money to keep her alive. So now, he works as an insurance investigator, still skimming a little off the top, continuing to visit his bookie and owing too much money, in this dead-end job.

Ethan is being sent to Paris, France to investigate the robbery of many art masterpieces from a museum. He quickly discovers that the stolen art actually does not belong to the French government, but was taken from a Jewish family during World War II and was never returned to them. So how do you investigate stolen art that was already stolen? Added to that, the French law officials have their own problems without having outsiders asking questions about their internal corruption at numerous levels. Being stonewalled, Ethan quickly deduces that this is a dead-end investigation and discovers that he has few allies until he is arrested, one friend rescues him. Or is this a "friend" with their own agenda?

Portrait of Malice is a realistic, action-adventure thriller with believable characters. The problems of justice with the art stolen from the Jewish people by the Nazis with the restitution between the governments and the people, addresses the multiple issues facing the descendants of these unfortunate families. How can you prove ownership from papers that were destroyed? How can you prove your ancestry with the many documents that were destroyed during this time?

Sanjay Sanghoee has previously written the thriller novel, Merger. Daily, this New Yorker works in the banking and investment industry.

From Paris, France to the forgotten underground tunnels of New York, Portrait of Malice is a thrilling and engaging novel with a flawed protagonist that is still endearing. With the search for safety and dealing with low lifes while simultaneously entering the elite society events, Portrait of Malice is a memorable and educational novel.

Mixed Signals
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200618 Hardback, $24.95
9781464200632 Trade Paperback, $14.95

We all have some kind of emotional baggage which weighs us down. For private investigator, David Randall, it's his eight-year-old daughter who died in a car accident. Since then, he has divorced twice and believes that he has found the love of his life with a much younger woman, Kary, who is not going to quickly jump into any commitment.

Accompanying his friend Camden, the two discover the dead body of Jared Hunter, who has been stabbed numerous times. Being that Cam has psychic ability, he actually repeatedly sees the brutal slaying of his former friend and is constantly haunted by this vision. The two plan to investigate this to be certain the they are not involved, even though the police are working on it. It just might clear the nightmares.

At the same time, a series of robberies are happening in an older section of this city, Parkland, which seems to be somehow related to a recent robbery at a history museum. This along with the newspaper, have common elements. What is combining these with the murder? Why is one of Cam's former friends hiding? Why is a friend of Jared now locked at a mental facility?

One unpredictable suspect is a person in a red and yellow costume calling themselves, The Parkland Avenger. Being that this character sometimes has caused more problems than help, this masked super hero/villain is getting the attention of the newspaper and the local community. There is even a Super Hero Society of Parkland whose masked members deny any knowledge of the Avenger.

Jane Tesh retired from being an elementary school library media specialist while becoming a writer and continuing her love of the violin, piano, and the community theater. She is also a certified kickboxing instructor who lives in North Carolina.

Mixed Signals is the second in this Grace Street series by Jane Tesh. Being that this is part of a series, it does help the reader to read the first book Stolen Hearts first to help understand the characters and their relationships. She has written another series featuring Maddy Maclin with the books A Case of Imagination, A Hard Bargain, and A Little Learning.

The basic storyline is unusual, logical, and engaging. The characters are believable, even eccentric at times in this well-organized tale. All of this mixed in a brew of a delightful romp connecting the threads of a haunted psychic. Without having read the first book, it is difficult to completely connect with the characters at first since their development was in the previous book in this series. Mixed Signals is definitely a lesson in history, public records, as well as a delightful romp with red tights and a cape.

I look forward to more book in this humorous, cozy series.

Just Add Salt: Book 2: Hetta Coffey Series
Jinx Schwartz
WhooDoo Mysteries
Treble Heart Books
193269546X, $12.45,

Some people seem to attract trouble like Hetta Coffey. It also might be that Hetta is the type of person who jumps into the water and then asks about its depth. Added to that, she can't swim.

Living on a yacht definitely requires a different lifestyle. Since she no longer has a land-based house, all of her life encompasses her boat. Being the she is an engineer who is contracted to work in various places, her boat or house, goes wherever she is needed. With her love, Jenks, currently in the Middle East, Hetta takes off for Mexico with her best friend, Jan, and a mysterious, but conveniently cheap captain to pilot the boat.

The more Hetta discovers about her new temporary job, the more she questions whether this job is legal or ethical. A particular Japanese company wants to buy land in Baja to develop into a desalinization plant which also seems to be involved with some poaching of whales. Hetta's job is to plan their supplies and needs to complete their project. Jan accompanies Hetta as a marine biologist who is really a companion and friend with no qualifications.

Just Add Salt is the second book in the Hetta Coffey series which now includes four novels. Just Add Water is the first book in this series which is wonderful with the character develop of Hetta and her friends. This second book in this series could be difficult to understand if someone does not have this background of the characters.

Just Add Salt truly succeeds with giving a sense of the setting. Understanding the area of Baja is quite unique with its varied populace and the Atlantic hurricane season as well as the US Coast Guard responsibilities along the southern California coastal region. The characters, especially Hetta, seem to long for adventure without thinking of the possible consequences. In that respect, it is a delightful journey in someone else's shoes that I personally would not want toinhabit.

Jinx Schwartz has written four books in this series featuring Hetta Coffey. Jinx lives in Arizona and Mexico most of the year. Jinx has also written a wonderful book, Land ofMountains, based on her own experiences growing up in Haiti.

Just Add Salt is a fun read. Hetta's misadventures resemble LucyRicardo from I Love Lucy, even with the red hair. The recommended audience is for women who love a mystery with a wicked sense of humor.

Love Finds You in Amana Iowa
Melanie Dobson
Summerside Press
9781609361358, $12.99,

Life with people known for their peaceful practices allows avoidance of war, bu how does anyone attempt to handle a country's civil war while still holding your values and beliefs.

The people from the Amana colonies are in the process of moving their entire colony from New York to settle in Iowa during our country's Civil War. Even though the elders chose to pay for their young men not to be conscripted, they were still strongly influenced by the realities of the war.

The colony in New York sent many able-bodied men ahead to begin to build and prepare for the women, children, and the rest of their families who would eventually make the long trek overland to Iowa. Their advance team included Friedrich Vinzenz, clockmaker, and his adopted brother, Matthias, who was a builder. Their job was to start planting the fields and building the kitchens, shelters, and places of worship for those coming in the near future.

Friedrich has promised to marry Amalie Weise when she finally arrives at the colony. Their long relationship grew from their childhood while spending time with Friedrich's family. Growing up with the Vinzenz family, their close relationship grew as well along with Matthias being promised to Friedrich's sister.

However life does not always work out as we plan or hope. When some wounded Union soldiers come to the colony to recruit, Friedrich feels obligated to join and to fight for those in slavery. Even when the elders of the community offer to pay in compensation for their services, Friedrich still chooses to join much to the distress of his friends, family, and community. Added to that, Amalie is finally near the Iowa colony after being separated from Friedrich for nearly three years. Now that she is finally arriving, she has to question their relationship when she is told that Friedrich has left to fight in the war.

This hauntingly romantic tale expertly describes the hardships of those resettling in Iowa and gives the perspective of the Amana people. This country's Civil War influenced more than those who were directly in battle, the influences changed the country in numerous ways, including attitude. The characters were believable and realistic in this well-develop story.

The strength of this particular novel is how well Melanie Dobson developed the characters and life in the beginning Amana Colonies in Iowa during our country's
Civil War. Her interwoven characters into the daily life traveling on foot and wagon train, to beginning in a new land, to the struggles with a country in a civil war allow the reader to truly understand the times.

Melanie Dobson has written many novels in this historical romance category. Except for the cover of the book not matching the character description of Amalie Weise, this particular novel is a wonderful book to read for anyone who is interested in these historically peaceful people and for those who love romance.

Talking to the Dead
Harry Bingham
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345533739, $26.00,

Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths is new to her job, insecure, and finding it difficult fitting into the "old boys" detective mold with the police force in the town of Newport in Wales. Knowing that she has a tendency to not fit in anyway, she finds the job a challenge that is quickly becoming a life obsession.

For Fiona, her first murder scene is shocking and disturbing. Sure, woman on drugs would seem to have an outcome of being murdered, stabbed. That part didn't completely bother her. What she didn't plan on was the woman's six-year-old daughter being killed by having a sink smashed over her head. How could a six-year-old have deserved that kind of a death? Also, the young girl seems to have a smile on what is left of her face. She appears happy and content.

Curiously though, a platinum credit card was found at this crimescene. The card belonged to a man who went missing months ago. Even though his body had not been found, he is believed to be dead. Could he be alive? What would this wealthy man's platinum card be doing at the home of this single mother? Added to that is that the neighbors didn't ever see the daughter. Was she hiding in the house and fearful to even look out the windows? It seems that each discovery brings with it a multitude of questions that are not easily answered.

Also, she is currently assigned the job of investigating embezzlement by another police officer. She finds that somehow he seems to be linked to both the murders and the missing person.

For whatever reasons, Fiona becomes obsessed with this murder. She searches out the history of the credit card and the missing man, as well as those who knew both the mother and her child. Unfortunately, she manages to question too many people and another prostitute is killed. As she finds herself connecting with the world of the victims, she discovers a healing process herself for her own breakdown years ago.

The author of Talking to the Dead is Harry Bingham who is the literary consultant of the U. K. largest literary consultancy firm, The Writer's Workshop. He is currently working on his next novel featuring his unlikely heroine, Fiona Griffiths.

The character of Fiona Griffiths is refreshing as a realistically flawed and insecure character who has her own set of rules and is willing to put her own money with her beliefs. Although definitely unconventional within her police department, Fiona discovers her own way of doing things might just be the best. At times, she was a depressing person but considering the crime, that was appropriate.

Talking to the Dead is a hauntingly realistic tale of real police work with the quirky and likable protagonist, Fiona Griffiths, who is a refreshing character to the mystery scene. I look forward to the next Harry Bingham book featuring this unlikely heroine, Fiona.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

Salvation of a Saint
Keigo Higashino
Translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye Alexander
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312600686, $24.99,

What's more effective in solving a crime: a detective's intuition and police skills, or the scientific method? This theme seems to be a recurring one in the author's approach to crime fiction. In "The Devotion of Suspect X," Mr. Higashino's last book, a mathematician was pitted against physics professor Yukawa, also dubbed "Detective Galileo," while an actual detective, Kusanagi, plied his trade using his intuition and other skills. In the present mystery, they repeat this dance in trying to solve what at first appears to be a perfect murder.

The crime revolves around the death of a CEO by poisoning, and the investigation turns up no evidence of the source of the substance. It is quickly determined that this was not a case of suicide. The wife, usually a prime suspect, was thousands of miles away, and the paramour is also cleared. A junior detective, Kaoru Utsuni, stubbornly pursues the case, finally turning to the professor when neither she nor Kusanagi make any progress in solving the murder. And then the fun begins: logic vs. gut feeling.

The author demonstrates a wonderful ability to wrap a puzzle within an enigma, supplying twist after twist to keep the pages turning, raising the tension as the investigation progresses. This is one clever plot, and the novel is highly recommended.

The Trinity Game
Sean Chercover
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183183, $14.95,

This novel is quite a departure from the author's previous books featuring a Chicago PI. It asks the reader to suspend disbelief and accept all kinds of conspiracies, while the protagonist, Daniel Byrne, a Roman Catholic priest working out of the Vatican charged with authenticating or disproving "miracles," encounters one involving his own uncle, Timothy Trinity.

Dan's mother died in childbirth, and his father committed suicide shortly afterward, orphaning the boy. Trinity took the child in and raised him, while plying his talent as an itinerant preacher on a Southern circuit. He is a great con artist, and eventually Dan became disillusioned, leaving his uncle, later becoming a priest. Decades later, Trinity suddenly develops the ability to accurately predict the future, from natural disasters to sports events, resulting in the Church and the mob wanting to discredit him, one as a false messiah, the other because it is costing profits.

So much for the beginnings of the plot, which goes on in various offshoots as Dan becomes more involved with his uncle and tries to protect him against threats, the FBI and other assorted entities. It becomes overly complicated and the reader is exposed to TMI (Too Much Information). There are exciting developments and the writing is well-developed, but the book probably could have benefitted from some useful pruning, especially to shorten its length.

[It should perhaps be mentioned that the book is also issued in hardcover, $24.95, 9781612183503, and as an e-book, $7.99, #B006YZ2DFU]

Bronwen Hruska
Pegasus Books
80 Broad St., NY, NY 10005
9781605983790, $25.00,

Once the reader gets past and accepts the initial premise of this novel, that there is an almost universal conspiracy to boost children's learning power by declaring them victims of ADD or ADHD and prescribing Ritalin or similar drugs, then it becomes a heart-warming story. Sean Benn, a single father (the result of his wife's abandoning him and their young son, Toby), is pressured to dose the boy, against his better judgment, after having refused for quite some time.

It should be noted that Toby's best friend had gone into a coma and died. The school told everyone it was the result of a peanut allergy. Shortly afterward, Toby fell during PT, suffering from an arrhythmia, and ended up in the hospital, comatose. From that point the plot takes off in dramatic fashion.

Certainly the novel's raison d'etre is a significant topic. When over-medication is routinely used to force students to accelerate their ability to learn, something is wrong. So exposure is warranted. But to raise the possibility that this technique is so widespread across the country, aided and abetted by pharmaceutical companies, while worrisome, is kind of hard to believe. But maybe such exaggeration is needed to make the point. And perhaps "worrisome" is required as well. Written with a smooth hand and tightly plotted, the book is recommended.

Nights of Awe
Harri Nykanen, Translated by Kristian London
Bitter Lemon Press
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 W. 108th St., NY, NY 10025
9781904738923, $14.95,

There are two Jewish cops in all of Helsinki. One of them, Ari Kafka, a lieutenant in the Violent Crime Unit of the Helsinki police, who makes his debut in this novel, identifies himself as a policeman first, then a Finn, and lastly a Jew. He catches a weird case involving the murder of two Arabs, to begin with, followed by several others.

It is not known whether these deaths are related, although they appear to be, or are the result of a drug bust gone bad, gang warfare or even a terrorist plot, when it is learned that the Israeli foreign minister plans a two-day visit during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Of course, this makes the investigation more difficult, as the Finnish Security Police and Israel's Mossad enter the picture. Complicating Ari's efforts is pressure put on him by the Rabbi, his brother, and the rest of the Jewish community.

The novel is an extraordinary beginning to what is promised to be an ongoing series. The plot takes place during the Days of Awe, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. While Ari's background plays a prominent role in the story, don't look for a lot of accuracy about the religion or its practitioners, other than Ari's noting that while he doesn't keep Kosher, he also doesn't eat pork. This is a fast-moving thriller, with a very remarkable protagonist. And be prepared for an even more unusual conclusion.


Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders
Gyles Brandreth
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439153734, $14.00,

Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Watson, and in this series (in which this novel is the fifth entry) Oscar Wilde invariably plays the detective while Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle plays the foil. This role reversal allows the author to make many witty observations and create unexpected plot situations. Unlike Holmes, however, Wilde is not particularly analytical but more intuitive, making great leaps of faith in drawing conclusions.

The story begins with Conan Doyle traveling to England so he can concentrate on answering a ton of mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes which he has been unable to take care of at home. And who does he meet when he arrives at his hotel but his good friend Wilde, who is there to lose weight by "taking the waters." But any excuse is a port in an unwelcome storm, so Wilde volunteers to assist Conan Doyle in his effort to weed through the letters. No sooner do they begin than a man's mummified right hand is found in one envelope. And then a finger, obviously from another hand, in another. On that finger is a distinctive gold ring with intertwined fish etched on the inside, the symbol of the Vatican. A third envelope is found to contain a lock of hair. The postmark on all three envelopes is Rome. So much for the rest cure, as off the pair goes to the Eternal City to solve the mystery.

Once again, the author has written an enjoyable historical piece, filled with clever observations and droll comments, peppering the prose with crisp Wilde prose and poetry while moving a Sherlock Holmes mystery forward. This is really a delightful series, and well worth reading.


Deadly Negatives
Russell Hill
Caravel Books
c/o Pleasure Boat Studio
201 W. 89th St., #6F, NY, NY 10064
9781929355846, $16.00,

Sometimes you find a bargain, but it turns out to be not worth the price. That's what happened to Michael McSwain when he found a coveted 35 mm. camera in his favorite photography shop and struck a deal to buy it. And when he got home, he found an unexpected surprise. Buried in the box the camera came in was a strip of negatives showing an event that took place many years before in Vietnam and two individual negatives, one of the wife of the person who took the pictures and another of a painting hanging in the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

McSwain undertakes to find the meaning behind the pictures, and his efforts take him on a journey he wishes he could forget, along with the negatives. His house is trashed by unknown persons and 10 years' worth of work is taken. In the middle of the night, he is visited by a goon threatening him if he doesn't hand over the negatives. And that's just the beginning.

There is non-stop action along with the danger in which Michael finds himself as he attempts to find out who so desperately wants the negatives. The novel is relatively short and can be read in a single sitting, as was the case for this reviewer. In the end, it is well worth the small amount of time it takes for an ending that really comes out of the blue.


Bleed for Me
Michael Robotham
Mulholland Books
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316126373, $14.99,

There are a couple of subplots, in addition to the main thread, in this latest Joe O'Loughlin psychological thriller. To begin with, there are the comings and goings of two dysfunctional families. One is, of course, Joe's, since in the previous entry in the series, "Shattered," his wife had asked for a separation. Then there is Joe's daughter's best friend, Sienna, whose domineering father reduces his wife and children to miserable and fearful individuals.

But more important to the novel is Sienna's relationship to a school drama teacher. And then she turns up at Joe's doorstep one night covered in blood. It turns out that her father was murdered, in Sienna's bedroom, and she is eventually arrested for the crime, putting Joe on of a long journey to save her, if possible, and to uncover other wrongs.

The series continues to demonstrate the author's ability to combine elements of psychology with police procedural activity. He writes with authority, creating ever-mounting suspense along the way.


Dead Man's Grip
Peter James
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
978031243218, $14.99,

This is the seventh in the Roy Grace series, detailed police procedurals that take place in the Brighton area of Great Britain. The tightly written plots carry the reader from page to page wondering what comes next. And the nearly overwhelming [in a good way, to be sure!] detail keeps the reader from guessing the next step.

This novel begins with the gruesome death of a young man, who defies his mother, the daughter of a mafia don in New York City, to study at a Brighton university and live with his English girlfriend. One day, on the way to school, riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, he is narrowly missed by a car driven by Carly Chase [who swerves onto the sidewalk to avoid him], but is hit by a tailgating white van [which leaves the scene], then rolls under a truck's wheels and is killed.

The plot stems from this incident, with the mother hiring a hit man to torture and murder the three drivers. When two of them are found dead, it behooves Carly to attempt to protect herself and her young son. And thereby hangs a tale, a rather detailed description of the killer's movements, and the efforts of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and the entire Sussex police force to capture him. By all means get a copy and read it. Highly recommended.

Ken Bruen
Mysterious Press
c/o Grove Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802155139, $21.00,

The ninth book in the Jack Taylor series is as good as they come. The hardcover edition was the kick-off novel from a then-new imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Otto Penzler's Mysterious Press, and serves well as a guide to the future.

As in the previous volumes in the series, the troubled Irish PI wallows in drinks and drugs, violence and evil. It begins with the brutal beating of a priest, where no love is lost between Jack and the victim. Then Jack, his buddy Stewart, and Ridge, the female Garda, receive miniature headstones, apparently the targets of a person or persons bent on some form of aggression. Along the way are a variety of side issues occupying Jack's attention, including the church and the precarious economy.

Jack Taylor is a unique character. Beyond that, one can read Ken Bruen and enjoy the writing, the sad commentaries on Ireland, life in general, and the awesome adventures of Jack Taylor. The book is, obviously, highly recommended.

Black Skies
Arnaldur Indridason, Translated by Victoria Cribb
Harvill Secker
20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London SW 1V 2SA UK
9780846555404, $22.00 CA
9781846555817, $32.95 CA / 12.99 BPS

(This book is only available in/through the UK and Canada at this time, in US Nov. 2012)

With Erlendur traveling and incommunicado and Elinborg away from the Reykjavik police station, only Sigurdur Oli is left of the team to conduct police business. However, first he's asked by his good friend Patrekur to do him a favor. It seems that his sister-in-law and her husband got involved in wife-swapping, and now are being threatened with exposure if they don't pay blackmail money. Sigurdur Oli is asked to have a word with the female blackmailer, retrieve the pictures and get her off the couple's back.

When Sigurdur Oli goes to the blackmailer's home, he finds the door unlocked. When he enters he discovers her body on the floor and determines that she's been killed by a blow to the head. And then he's hit with a baseball bat, and the perpetrator runs out of the house. The policeman chases but loses his quarry. Thus begins a long and complicated plot which ultimately also involves a banking scandal and another murder.

The novel is pretty much a straightforward police procedural, and an intense look at Sigurdur Oli's personal life. It is a departure from other of the author's efforts, and certainly not as intense as "Jar City" or "Hypothermia." This reader can't tell whether it is the translation or the original prose which is different from the haunting style of the author's previous works. In any event, it should be read, and is recommended.

Restless in the Grave
Dana Stabenow
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312559120, $7.99,

This latest Kate Shugak novel imports the protagonist from another Stabenow series, Liam Campbell, relegating Jim Chopin, Kate's lover, to a walk-on role. It also takes place far away from her home base in Alaska, The Park. Liam has a problem, and he visits Jim for his help. It appears a leading citizen of Niniltna, Liam's base, has died in an airplane crash, which might or might not have been an accident. Liam's wife could well be classified as a potential suspect if, indeed, it was a murder. Jim suggests Kate undertake an investigation.

So Kate goes undercover in Niniltna, taking a position as barmaid in a bar and grill, while attempting to learn what had taken place. And of course, she hears gossip and learns information little by little, taking her as far away as an outer island in the Alaskan chain and, along the way, a look into a possible murder widens to a much wider scope.

As in previous entries in the series, descriptions of the Alaskan environment, both as to people and land, are outstanding, especially the effects of economic development on the state's residents. The plot is somewhat different from the prior Shugak novels, given the wider scope afforded by the new location far away from her beloved "Park" and the "Park Rats." It could well be looked at as a standalone, except for the fact that the characters are the same as in the two series for which the author is well-known. Recommended.

XO: A Kathryn Dance Novel
Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439156377, $26.99,

Some years ago, Marry Higgins Clark wrote a mystery entitled "You Belong to Me," which was also the name of a popular song. The plot involved a murderer who slew victims in places mentioned in the song. This is the theme Jeffery Deaver has selected for this latest novel featuring kinesics expert Kathryn Dance, in which forensic specialist Lincoln Rhyme makes merely a cameo appearance.

As the book opens Dance has just finished a particularly difficult case and decides to take some time off, traveling to Fresno to record some music of a group of Mexican musicians for her private web site and visit with a friend, country singer Kayleigh Towne, who is scheduled to give a concert in her hometown later in the week. But it turns out to be anything but a vacation, when a stalker becomes a threat to Kayleigh, soon becoming a suspect in a series of murders. Of course, Dance quickly inserts herself in the Sheriff's investigation, even to the level of upstaging the chief detective and taking over direction of the department's efforts.

The author has written a convoluted book, with too many plot lines, complicated with too much information about music, and lyrics, which suffuse the narrative. Perhaps his own background as a songwriter led him to follow this course, but a little restraint could have been shown. This was not one of his better efforts, but after 29 novels, I suppose he's entitled. [Parenthetically, I felt that better proofreading would not have gone amiss, e.g., "electric" for "eclectic."]

Dick Francis's Bloodline
Felix Francis
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399160806, $26.95,

The second standalone written by Dick Francis' son follows the same formula that served the father so well: A mystery set in the English racing world, populated by the trainers, jockeys and track officials. In this case, the plot involves the Shillingford family, especially race-caller Mark and his twin sister, jockey Clare. When Clare rode a horse that came in second when it should have won, he believed Clare lost on purpose and over dinner they had a heated argument.

Later that night, Clare fell 15 stories from a London hotel to her death, an apparent suicide. Bereft, Mark starts asking questions, seeking a reason for her death. What was the meaning of a short written message which the police believed to be a suicide note, but really is ambiguous? What, if anything, does the discovery of several blackmail victims in the racing world have to do with her death?

The author shows the same talent as Dick Francis for creating suspense, pitting danger and personal jeopardy for his protagonist on the way of solving the mystery. And the reader will be hard put to tell the difference in the writing between father and son. It is virtually indistinguishable.

Highly recommended.

Through Dark Spaces
Karen E. Hall
Karen Hall Books
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470008796, $15.00,

This is the second book by Karen E. Hall to feature Hannah Morrison, a consulting environmental engineer and sole proprietor [and only employee] of Morrison Engineering. Hired by Aureus Mining Company as the latter prepares to "reprocess some of its ore" [a term the author does her best to explain to the layman], Hannah has left St. Paul to come to Lead, South Dakota, and is trying to get accustomed to the [very] small-town life. An expert in anything dealing with oil and refineries, things below ground are new to her, but she is anxious to get her company off the ground so that it can actually provide her with an income.

Helping Hannah fit in and familiar herself with her new surroundings is Lila Cooper, owner of the Ore House restaurant, who knows everybody in town and everyone's secrets as well. Hannah hires Lila's brother, Dooley, one of the miners, to help her acclimate herself to the mine and its secrets. Though she feels attracted to him, she thinks of herself as "attached," sort of: Her putative boyfriend, a photojournalist working for CNN, has at least for the moment decided that his career opportunities were more important than their relationship and gone off to Atlanta.

Hannah's claustrophobia kicks in when she finds herself several thousand feet underground exploring the mine. As her investigation proceeds, suddenly accidents in the mine becomes life-threatening, immediately causing palpable terror for the mineworkers and the reader, who has just started to get to know the characters and thus fear for them. Indications of pollution in the groundwater and questions of hazardous waste contamination soon make matters much more complicated.

Unfamiliar terms and jargon slowed down this reader; terms like "stope," "headframe," "natural attenuation,""manway," "heap leach operation," and "winze," the terminology at times making the read somewhat of a struggle. Once the relatively technical background has been laid out, the pace picks up considerably. Hannah is a fascinating protagonist, and the plot is an interesting one, giving the reader an insight into a world previously little-known to most. There are hints of a return of Ms. Morrison in a subsequent offering from the author, and I will look forward to reading it.

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel
Anthony Horowitz
Mulholland Books
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316197014, $14.99,

Maybe it's a coming trend. First the Gershwin estate authorizes a Broadway version of "Porgy & Bess," in an attempt to milk its assets. Then the Arthur Conan Doyle estate authorizes for the first time a Sherlock Holmes novel. Another similar event and we might just be enjoying a fad.

Be that as it may, this novel is based on one of the many unpublished adventures of the famous detective, with Watson, now retired, recalling one last case a year after Holmes' death. It begins when a London art dealer visits Baker Street and tells Holmes and Watson about his confrontation in the United States with a Boston gang which has murdered a customer of his and which he believes followed him back to England. From this flows an intriguing tale far afield from the original surmise.

The writing flows like an original Sherlock Holmes tale, and the logic and analysis reflect the virtuosity and great mind of the singular detective. Too often attempts to recreate classics fail or end up being something else. Such is not the case with this novel, and it is recommended.

Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues
Michael Brandman
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425250457, $9.99,

It is quite a challenge to be asked to pick up where a master like Robert B. Parker left off. But that is exactly the dare the author faced when the publisher asked him to continue writing the popular Jesse Stone series. Mr. Brandman was no stranger to Parker: they were friends for many years and collaborated on several Spenser and Stone movies on television. Still it was a formidable task.

So let us begin by noting that we will not compare this work with any of Parker's oeuvre, simply because it would not be fair to either. Instead, let us judge the work on its own merits. To begin with, it is constructed like a Jesse Stone novel, with many of the elements that have made them so popular, with good plotting and short dialogue and witty Stone comments.

It involves three separate story lines, both of which affect Jesse as a Chief of Police and as an individual. They take place just as the summer tourist season is about to begin in Paradise, MA. One involves carjackings, another something out of Jesse's past, and the last a serious situation involving a young girl holding a school principal at gunpoint. Each requires Jesse to solve it in his own inimitable fashion.

With that, the conclusion is that an assessment lets us accept the book, as it is presented, favorably. It is possibly unfortunate that the publisher chose the title to ride the coattails of the late, esteemed Grand Master, somewhat like the producers of the current "Gershwin's Porgy and Bess" renamed an opera that has stood the test of time for eight or more decades. A book should stand on its own, and this one does.

Enough with comparisons already: Just read it and you'll recommend it, as I do.

Theodore Feit

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

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