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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 8 August 2013 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    



Cowper's Bookshelf

The Hummingbird That Answered My Heart's Calling
Noelle M. Meade-Izzi
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100
Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
3748 Turman Loop, #101
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
www.newsandexperts.com
9781452562919 $27.95 www.balboapress.com

The Hummingbird That Answered My Heart's Calling is an unforgettable blend of professional-quality, full-color photography and heart-touching spiritual insight. Nature photographer Noelle M. Meade-Izzi discovered an empty, tiny nest near her home... then to her amazement and delight, a light brown mother hummingbird took up residence! Photographs chronicle a single egg that hatches into a nearly helpless chick, the mother hummingbird feeding her child precious nectar, the baby's gradual growth and fledgling, even its efforts hopping between branches as it learns how to fly! Every two-page spread featuring a striking, close-up, full-page photo on the right, and a page of Meade-Izzi's wistful observations and memories on the left. The industrious hummingbird mother and her trusting child have a profound and astonishingly beautiful lesson to teach all who witness them. Highly recommended, especially as a gift for bird and nature lovers of all backgrounds.

Mary Cowper
Reviewer


Donovan's Bookshelf

Nadia's Obsession
Charles D. Martin
Chaney-Hall Publishing
Hardcover: ISBN: 9780985198435
Paperback: ISBN: 9780985198459
eBook: ISBN: 9780985198442
http://www.amazon.com/Provocateur-Charles-D-Martin/dp/0985198400/ref=sr_
1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370364126&sr=8-1&keywords=provocateur

Nadia (the character introduced in Charles D. Martin's previous novel Provocateur) originally came to the U.S. as a young Russian mail-order bride, only to be employed by an ex-CIA agent who hires her to seduce wealthy men and obtain their fortunes.

Nadia's Obsession continues her saga and opens with a satisfying prologue that sets the background and events of Provocateur for newcomers, outlining her background, missions and motivations.

The scene is set for a road trip steeped in California culture and fast action as passenger Nadia finds herself in a yellow sports car taking a wild ride with her best friend Alexandra, a skilled driver who loves thrills and danger. Readers are treated to a display of Nadia's special abilities when a simple lunch at a local dive provokes unwelcome advances from bikers: threats Nadia dispels through observation, knowledge, and courage. It is this incident and Nadia's other special skills that set the stage for Nadia's Obsession: a journey that follows her through many worlds of danger as she moves like a tornado through a maze of intrigue.

Her few friends begin to grasp these special skills - and come to understand why many forces vie to gain control of her:

"It's not just her ability to solve complex math or computer problems. It's far beyond that. An individual like her has a hyperawareness about everything going on around her. She observes everything in a way that is almost superhuman.

It's as if the rest of us live in a two-dimensional world and she lives in a three-dimensional one. Her mind grasps and understands things on a whole different level than us."

Nadia's journey involves emotional development even as it revolves around intrigue, dangerous wealthy men, and high-stakes international schemes. Ex-KGB operatives, secret units of government, and military intelligence experts all want something from Nadia that she's unwilling to give, even including passing her rare mental abilities to progeny who would then be manipulated.

From a cruise which turns deadly to Nadia's realization that her real foe might equal both her intelligence and her rare abilities, the underlying journey Nadia takes is that of cementing her involvement in Russian affairs in general and the plight of orphans (like herself) in particular. Add in a chess game whose moves mirror Nadia's and you have a collection of insights into character, skills and purposes that are strengthened by every move she makes:

""You really live dangerously." He said. "I love the thrill of it." She responded, tapping her finger nails again impatiently on the table. He still had a big piece-count advantage and had tightened his defenses around his king. But he could not get on the offence. She was controlling what was happening. He had to move to defend his king or to respond to an audacious move on her part."

It takes a journey to Russia and a dangerous encounter that claims the life of one of her best friends to point Nadia in a different direction: one that ultimate promises changes to Russia's orphanages and new friendships.

Aside from its fast-paced plot packed with twists, turns, and international intrigue, a strength of Nadia's Obsession lies in not just the protagonist but a host of female characters who are powerful women in their own right. These are uniformly intelligent, take-charge individuals, courageous and confrontational: it's refreshing to read a novel where all the female protagonists are powerful individuals.

Another notable point: Nadia's Obsession incorporates social consciousness along with its story of international intrigue: Nadia's concern for orphans and her own experiences with Russia's orphanages makes for a fine subplot that involves readers in more than Nadia's personal goals.

Black and white and color illustrations pepper the story and add vivid visual embellishment, whether they concern a yellow Lamborghini or a deadly viper snake set to strike. These visual moments come at key points in the text and provide satisfyingly unexpected color to the story line.

The result is a multi-faceted story that whips through action scenes and struggles, the focal point being Nadia's strong character which holds everything together.

As a sequel to Provocateur, it's a fine expansion that adds further depth and details about Nadia's personality and purposes. As a stand-alone thriller for newcomers, it won't disappoint.

And, be forewarned: newcomers WILL want to read Provocateur!

October 3rd
Armelle Cloche & Phillip Schlesinger
Amazon Digital Services Inc.
ASIN: B00CDSXMRA $0.99
http://amzn.to/11vX9iB

October 3rd is about to become the most important date in human history: it's the date that a space message predicts God will come to Earth, forever changing the world.

Against this backdrop of predicted change a cast of characters find their spiritual journeys entwining as mankind races to what could be the greatest transition of its existence. What would we do if we knew for certain that God was coming to Earth?

This fine saga is presented in an unusual format: that of a screenplay, written for production and ready to go. Now, novices be forewarned: a screenplay and a novel share certain elements but are NOT alike. For one, a screenplay holds no chapters, no separation, and reads like one long story. It typically portrays what is to be seen and heard on a screen, and it is limited to a certain length to confirm to the requirements of a screen presentation.

Working within these parameters while appealing to a reader may seem challenging but October 3rd achieves it goals with smooth ease, involving readers in the characters and settings affected by a miracle. A simple glossary of terms provides the foundation (for those unfamiliar with the format) to understand scene directions embedded within the screenplay, and then the story begins.

Fade to a Milky Way scene, then zoom to a close-up of one blue/green planet on what will begin as an ordinary day in 2013 only to end with revelations.

A Hawaiian space observatory detects a sonic wave signal that is something other than background noise. Just as scientists are realizing this signal is 'everywhere', aliens secretly monitoring earth also make the same discovery - and conclude that humans can't be the source of the strange signal.

From aliens to the missing daughter (of a well-known astronomer) who has run away to search for God, an American president's concern with spiritual, political and social decorum, and an Afro-American designer tasked with outfitting the First Lady for the occasion, October 3rd is filled with fun observations and a startling blend of comic moments and serious reflection alike:

"That's just brilliant Alloin. Brilliant. The First Lady is naked before God anyway. So she might as well be naked in front of two billion people for the most-watched event in the history of mankind."

Families open dialogues and doors long closed, interactions between people move to a different level in the face of a deity's arrival, and when God himself finally appears, it's to unsuccessfully hail a taxi until a Sikh driver stops to pick him up and finds himself on a strange and magical journey.

October 3rd is all about that journey and that magic, and uses a satisfyingly diverse cast of characters to explore how relationships and worlds are transformed by a miracle. It takes place in a mere 72-hour time frame: an uncertain period in which all come to question the nature of divinity and being.

If you've never read a screenplay before, begin here: October 3rd provides a riveting sequence of fast-paced encounters that incorporates not just spiritual reflection, but how people's perceptions of miracles and change affect their choices and interactions.

Amazing Americans
Dr. Charles Margerison
Viewpoint Resources Ltd.
9781921629259
http://amazingpeopleclub.com/product/amazing-americans-1

Amazing Americans offers surprises on many levels, and is a top recommendation for any who seek a lively set of biographical vignettes that focus on individuals operating in a range of endeavors, from business and politics to science, education, and beyond.

Among the featured individuals are familiar names (Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman and Jonas Salk, among others) along with lesser-knowns (psychologist Lillian Gilbreth, union organizer Mary Harris Jones, and scientist Percy Lavon Julian, to name a few). This juxtaposition of famous with less famous names makes for a satisfying collection overall as readers refine their knowledge of familiar figures and then make new discoveries in other areas.

Author Dr. Margerison is a psychologist who has created an entirely new genre with his 'bio view' titles, which combine biography with 'interview formats' written as if the person has conducted an interview with the author. BioView stories are based on facts combined with the author's interpretation - and thus offer unique opportunities not to be found in either traditional biography or straight interview formats.

What led each individual to make specific choices in their lives? How would they feel and what would they discuss if interviewed about their achievements? Each life has been re-created in this unique manner, offering students more than dry facts and providing much food for discussion and thought.

Amazing Americans opens with one Anna Burras, who lived between 1594 and 1650, presenting a black and white drawing of Burras and the captivating introduction "Some days can change your life. In June 1608 that happened to me. I was working as a servant..."

The journey that transpires and the events that led Burras to encounter a young Indian girl named Pocohontas - the only girl her age in the New World - and form a unique friendship documents the evolution of women in the New World as seen through the eyes of a common girl associated with some of the biggest names in early American history.

The segue to Walt Disney, whose contributions to film and animation revolutionized the world through the mid-1960s, involves a fast transition from America's distant past to modern times; but once again the initial sentence is compelling ("I was not born into a fairyland, but I created one.") and invites even reluctant readers to learn about events that made Disney remarkable.

What made these selected Americans more 'amazing' than their contemporaries was an attitude of discovery, willingness to accept changes and challenges, and a focus on incorporating these changes and challenges into endeavors that would change worldviews and perceptions for many decades to come.

What makes Amazing Americans so amazing in and of its own right is a dual attention to biography and unique lessons learned by each individual. Take Disney, for example: "...We took large financial risks on my dreams. Big ideas and detailed drawings meant more long hours combining art with teamwork. All the time, I was learning new business skills."

The result is a revolutionary dialogue and style that will captivate and educate readers on far more than just the historical facts about these selected amazing individuals: it provides an immersion experience that considers the fundamental attitudes and roots of success that elevated each individual beyond the ordinary.

Amazing Entrepreneurs
Dr. Charles Margerison
Viewpoint Resources Ltd.
9781921629358 $16.99 print / $9.99 Kindle www.amazon.com
http://amazingpeopleclub.com/product/amazing-entrepreneurs-0

Amazing Entrepreneurs features Dr. Charles Margerison's unique approach of combining biography with a 'virtual interview' format for each profiled individual, and also excels in selecting both famous and lesser-known individuals who proved exceptional entrepreneurs with approaches that changed industries, businesses and lives.

There's the usual focus on famous individuals (such as Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford) alongside a (wider, here) selection of less familiar individuals, including Beulah Louise Henry (a female inventor whose interest in "seeing things in a new way" led to her inventions of the spring-limbed doll, a sponge that held soap in the middle, and carbonless copying. Her childhood approach of "play as experimentation" led to many ideas that changed industries and afforded her a healthy income largely due to her attitude that she would give none of her ideas away for free) and Guglielmo Marconi (whose action-based approach to experimenting produced the evolution of public broadcasting systems.)

Amazing Entrepreneurs does more than present biographies: it captures the essence of attitudes, innovations, and - most of all - their translation into successful business endeavors.

The fundamental elements of entrepreneurship are considered in each biographical sketch, which emphasizes just where, how and why each individual made a conscious choice to be different in his or her approach to problem-solving.

It's important to note that each of these biographical sketches opens with a particularly involving first line, as in Mayer Amschel Rothschild: "They say one can go from rags to riches in three generations..."

Entrepreneurial savvy is then incorporated into the overall life and times of each individual - descriptions which are also is clear about the challenges faced: "...I was good at making the calculations. What was more difficult was reading the politics."

With this focus, Amazing Entrepreneurs creates a series of insights that directly link to the underlying elements of business success, making it a top recommendation for not just biography readers, but students of business wisdom as well.

Amazing Careers
Dr. Charles Margerison
Viewpoint Resources Ltd.
9781921629365 $16.99 print / $1.99 Kindle www.amazon.com
http://amazingpeopleclub.com/product/amazing-careers

Amazing Careers provides biographical vignettes documenting the evolution and special challenges of careers of noted individuals, from Coco Chanel and Albert Einstein to Walt Disney and Antoni Guadi (whose ongoing struggles with rheumatoid pain led to his focus as a designer.)

Each biography opens with an often-startling, engaging line designed to draw readers into the account (as with Guadi's opener: "When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my donkey."). NOT the dry beginning one normally anticipates from a career biography - and, therefore, unusually accessible even for reluctant readers used to dull facts in biographies.

Amazing Careers also offers author insights in the form of career notes which explain why work preferences are vital to forming career paths, a 'career timeline' that provides at-a-glance information on the time frames in which each selected individual operated, and 'career quotations' which select and present a succinct, moving quote from each featured individual.

Any reader interested in pursuing general information on how careers are formulated and evolve and how success is achieved will find this collection of varied biographies to be inspirational and enlightening, serving to pinpoint the many paths by which a career is settled upon, achieved, and expanded.

The result is recommended for any business reader, moving neatly beyond the biography format to offer invaluable insights by example.

Shadowlands
Alan Steven Kessler
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00CIWD7IK $5.99
http://www.amazon.com/shadowlands-ebook/dp/B00CIWD7IK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372205302&sr=1-1&keywords=shadowlands+alan+kessler

Shadowlands tells of the agony of a young boy who endures violence and abuse by escaping into a shadowy world of madness and fantasy, and is a powerful novel highly recommended for readers interested in strong psychological plots and stories of survival.

At the heart of the tale is young Steve, who has been rejected from birth and whose mother steadfastly ignores him while preening over her twin daughters. His father is an abuser, and Steve has nobody on his side - so his silent fall into a world of refuge and madness goes largely ignored by all who surround him. This madness takes the form of altered perceptions of his world, which is affected by his uncertain friendships with Tom a boy from a poor part of town, Dane, a new arrival who also abuses Steve, and others he comes into contact with.

Shadowlands is really the story of friendships, family relationships and madness - and the fragile lines that divide all possibilities.

Seventeen years later Steve is still facing old acquaintances, consequences of his choices, and an uncertain dance between madness and sanity that has shaped his career as a lawyer and has led him to a secret fascination over death, murder, and power.

From summer rituals and evolving relationships with girls to secrets that stem from his childhood abuses and experiences but which evolve into adult preoccupations, Shadowlands tells of the evolution of boy into man, innocent into dangerous misfit, and rituals and initiations that promise a new life even as they require rejection of elements of the old.

Special relationships, rejected feelings and the ability to feel, and equations of love with death prove powerful evolutionary processes that readers are drawn to as they follow Steve's life and experiences:

"By occupying the same space, dad, the Buick and the father had to die. It was a law of nature with a well-known corollary: love killed."

Steve's altered perceptions and twisted sense of reality slowly become the reader's own perceptions of events in a tangled psychological saga which is as absorbing as quicksand.

Readers interested in psychological suspense and protagonist motivations will find Shadowlands a fast-paced, riveting read right up to its unexpected, involving conclusion.

Yours Forever ... Maybe
MK, a.k.a. Katherine Mitchell
Lane Unlimited
9780615597751 $9.95 print / $1.35 Kindle www.amazon.com
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/146578

Yours Forever ... Maybe features four very different, compelling women whose lives unexpectedly entwine as they center around the recovery process of 27-year-old Marla, whose life has been changed traumatically by divorce.

Marla and her mother open Yours Forever ... Maybe with Marla's wedding day, where a 'wedding truce' has been declared between the two that initially seems to resolve the many differences between them.

Despite the truce, Marla's mother is not enthusiastic about Marla's choice (Warren) and can't help imparting some last (unwelcome) words of wisdom and caution: words Marla will recall later as she navigates through unfamiliar Hollywood society and eventually comes to realize that her decision has not been the best one after all. Warren's mother wants a passive bride for her movie star son; and Warren can't stop making promises he can't keep: facts Marla only slowly comes to realize after distancing herself from her worried mother.

But Yours Forever ... Maybe isn't a singular story of Marla alone: it's the story of four women whose lives entwine - and thus another personality, young, sexy Linda, soon enters the picture. Linda has journeyed to Hollywood with high hopes of pursuing a successful acting career after her parents are killed in a car accident, only to find her long-held dreams of freedom and success are elusive: "Her father told her that there would be an upside awaiting her in life when the time was right. Was this the time?" Her father also taught her some skills that were less than fatherly but reliable.

Thwarted by her lack of life experience, Linda uses sex to rise in the industry, overcoming many obstacles and always finding the openings that allow her to use sexual prowess to advance her career. The sordid affairs that pave her way through this progress result in uncertain friendships that may or may not undermine the promise of lasting, real connections in life. Sex, whether presented in a humorous, or self-serving, or implied fashion, always heats up the pages.

Aging, but beautiful Carol believes that with her experiences she holds life by the tail, but is really a lost soul incapable of forming such healthy bonds. And Xim?i, the immigrant with an agenda, resorts to highly illegal pursuits in her quest for big money.

The real story in Yours Forever ... Maybe lies not just in the mangled dreams of each but in different methods these women use to get ahead. Their uncertain (sometimes envious and vicious) interrelationships overshadow the similarity of goals that revolve around money, Hollywood society, and the drive to advance at all costs regardless of the powerful element of love that can happen any time.

Eventually their relationships will lead to murder, redemption, and love. The choices around which each character's actions revolve are based on their past and present experiences and needs - and make for a gripping saga that moves well between romance and intrigue.

Female audiences will find the result is a powerful story of love, adventure, and achievement. Women will relish the juxtaposition of these four very different females in the powerful women's novel that is Yours Forever ... Maybe.

Wasted...Maybe
MK, a.k.a. Katherine Mitchell
Trafford
ISBN: 9781466981041 (sc) $13.99
ISBN: 9781466985445 (hc) $23.99
ISBN: 9781466985452 (e ) $3.99
www.amazon.com www.barnesandnoble.com www.trafford.com

Wasted...Maybe is romance and adventure writing at its best, and opens with a bang: ""You're a slut," said Biff."

With this one sentence the reader is hooked; especially as the woman in question, Melody, denies his accusation but is facing a losing battle to maintain her status of purity in a 1950s world dominated by men's achievements.

There is not just one female protagonist, but several: each with her own past experiences, desires, and struggles.

Melody's lifestyle - and facade - is failing, Lara is too beautiful and innocent and heads for a different kind of fall, and Carla is seasoned in deals replete with political and social manipulation and intrigue. All are on similar paths but use different approaches to achieve status and maybe love, and all of them are up against conflicts and disruptive changes that challenge their goals and abilities and sometimes cause them to reject the idea of romance itself:

"Who knows, working for the guy could become an exciting opportunity and help her forget Peter and Bill and whoever else that had intruded on her life with love. She wanted to forget love itself."

The idea of moving into a foreign realm of thought and creating a life different from experience, training, and social acceptance in the male-dominated climate of the 1950s is one all characters share as they make their way in the world:

"She was determined to be everything she never was, to go against her grain, to live for the job. No more nine to five. If she had to work around the clock some days, why not. Whatever Ben needed. He didn't realize right away what a treasure he had found. Her grasp was quick. She took charge with ease. Areas of her brain that have been dormant for years suddenly got a chance to surface and function. She felt important, was fulfilled."

But at what price comes fulfillment?

All three, in her own way, must ask and face this question. Choices include both opportunities and hidden dangers - and all three find their choices challenging not only their abilities and desires, but society's perception of women and their traditional roles.

Surprising liaisons lead to a foreign country where political history is being made. Darkness of illegal activities surrounds unsuspecting characters unaware of being in a downward spiral. Intensity of sexual attraction brings spice but not more than that of the heat of true love.

Wasted...Maybe is romance and action writing at its best, powered by strong protagonists in the form of women who adopt different approaches to reach achievement. Add a healthy dose of intrigue and balance everything with an overlay of danger that eventually comes to a head and you have a multi-faceted novel that rips away at social convention and reveals the strengths and weaknesses of three special women. The result is a gripping story line that keeps readers guessing to its dramatic conclusion.

Anastasia
Vladimir Nikolaevich Megre
Megre
ASIN: B00CP6AWY6, $5.99
http://vmegre.com/en/books
http://www.amazon.com/Anastasia-Volume-Ringing-Cedars-ebook/dp/B00CP6AWY6

Anastasia is Volume 1 of 'The Ringing Cedars Of Russia Series', and charts businessman Vladimir Megre's trade trip to the Siberian taiga, where he witnesses firsthand the paradigm-changing phenomenon of the sacred ringing trees' of the region and spends a short three days with a woman, Anastasia, who will change his life.

What kind of spiritual experience could lead a man to abandon a lifetime of goals to take a very different path? And what kind of woman would request him to write a book that will ultimately change the world?

Anastasia is that woman - and Russian history and culture are steeped in Megre's spiritual account of finding God, then creating a revelation in writing through which others can discover or refine their own experiences with God.

The opening paragraphs of Anastasia place Megre's world in perspective and set the atmosphere for any not familiar with Russia's social and political changes:

"With the start of perestroika in Russia in 1990, people were suddenly allowed to start their own private businesses.

For the peoples of the Soviet Union, where entrepreneurship had been considered a crime punishable by law, up to and including imprisonment, this decision was revolutionary.

Approximately a third of the population, especially in the capital and major cities, was inspired to dream of a self-defined future that resembled the happy and luxurious life of Western millionaires."

Struggles in Russian society to build business which had been discouraged and even banned are explained in a powerful account by an author who participated in these revolutionary times and changes, and who made his stand to support the rise of a new social order:

"You say you worked for your children, and here we are - your children. We decided to become entrepreneurs. And build a life no worse than in America. The law now allows us to engage in private business. Thank you for your efforts, but what you built doesn't really suit us, and we want to build something of our own."

Megre believes his role in fostering in business changes is the focus of his life - until his business trip to Siberia introduces him to God, Anastasia, and the mysterious healing potential of a taiga 'ringing cedar' that can perform miracles and change lives.

Instead of succeeding in his assignment to cut down the cedar and distribute its powers, he meets remarkable recluse Anastasia who agrees to take him deep into the taiga to find it - and who instead teaches him a different way of perceiving his world. His instant perception of her is evocative and lovely:

"Gradually she reduced the diameter of her circles until she was exactly in the middle of the lake. There she turned on her back and lay on the water, facing the sky, her hands stretched out to the sides. Because the heavenly stars were reflected in the lake's water, she seemed to be lying in the middle of a space filled with heavenly bodies on all sides, above and below, and she herself seemed to be a part of the starry assemblage.

The water in the lake pulsed with a soft, barely perceptible, varicolored light. The starry lake and the entire space around it cast a spell, and I fell asleep thinking of nothing."

These revelations move beyond the religious, questioning wants, needs, and the social order of poverty and plenty in Russia.

Anastasia doesn't just tell him her story - she provides him with a whole new vision of the world; one that defies the technocratic approach of modern civilization and its obsessions:

"She wakes up in the morning and her very first thought is not to rejoice at the coming day but what to cook. She gets upset that she's out of some kind of food, then she gets upset that she's out of something you use to rub on yourself in the morning, either a cream or paint. She is constantly thinking about how to get it. She is constantly late and forever running, hoping that first one, then another means of transport doesn't leave without her. "At the place she always goes to, her brain is generally overloaded..."

Lyrical, poetic, philosophical and spiritual, Anastasia is the first in a projected ten-volume series, and is a call to connection and God. Anastasia's energy, passion, and drive permeates a powerful account highly recommended for any spiritual reader.

Ghost of Lost Eagle
Dean Sault
American Writers
No ISBN, $3.49 Kindle www.amazon.com

Ghost of Lost Eagle is part of the 'Sweetwater Canyon' series and is Book 1 beginning the saga.

The first thing to note about Ghost of Lost Eagle is the fact that it fits no single genre. Yes, it's a Western - yes, it's a romance - and yes, it also holds unexpected elements of the supernatural in present ancient Indian paranormal elements.

Another difference is a strong female protagonist, who opens the story by saving one Tuck from certain death in a flash flood when he ignorantly enters a box canyon during a rain storm. But it's more than Tuck's rash actions that have her calling him names: Sass is fighting her attraction to him by pointing out his many faults - and finds herself at continual odds with him when her father hires him to work the ranch that she runs.

Soon Sass discovers that Tuck brings much more than reckless behaviors and possible romance into her life, for his ability to hear noises nobody else can hear and his recurring dreams of an old Indian medicine man soon lead to his encounter with a ghost arrived to save his life and bring him a warning about his future.

Ghost of Lost Eagle is presented in the first person with the protagonist of Tuck offering "you are there" experiences and impressions which bring all of the reader's senses into play throughout the gripping struggles that mark fast-paced chapters and passages. Hopefully you'll never come closer to drowning in a flash flood than by experiencing these moments; for example:

"Water quickly engulfed my horse's legs. He high-stepped, but when it rose above his knees, we tumbled forward into the roiling floodwater. Up or down was impossible to know. Something hard slammed into my shoulder, jarring the breath out of me. My lungs screamed for relief. I momentarily saw daylight and gulped a welcome load of fresh air. As I was sucked back under, I saw Chuck's legs sticking out of the water on the opposite side of the flood. They thrashed wildly as he tried to roll over."

The growing interplays between Tuck and Sass perfectly capture many of the cat-and-mouse games between men and women and further involve readers in just how the romance evolves between them, through little moments:

"Asshole," she said and rolled her back to me in sleeping position. She didn't know, but I could see the edge of her cheek in the fire light. It bumped out, betraying her smile."

It's this vivid blend of emotion and experience narrated through the eyes, heart and experiences of Tuck that grip readers of Ghost of Lost Eagle and sweep them along on a journey that delves deep into the heart of Indian lore, magic, and the complexities of love and death.

Dialogue between all characters is brisk, realistic and compelling and when combined with a moving story line that holds no predictable events or conclusion, makes for a powerful western romance novel highly recommended for readers who like their stories emotionally charged and packed with twists, turns, and believable protagonists.

The conclusion is truly a punch line - and offers both a satisfying windup of action and emotion and the promise of further adventures to come.

Grim Reflections
Alex Siegel
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00CUSSPZ2 $2.99
http://www.amazon.com/Grim-Reflections-Spear-Society-ebook/dp/B00CUSSPZ2

Grim Reflections represents the ninth addition to Alex Siegel's blossoming Gray Spear collection and is a special recommendation for prior enthusiasts of the series.

It ties in neatly with the current fascination with zombies fostered by numerous science fiction writings and the new movie World War Z, and tells of a strange plague that's turning people into zombies.

But unlike the many other zombie novels on the market, the plague in Grim Reflections is only the beginning of trouble and Alex's team's investigations reveal a deeper plot and evil surrounding the entire process: this is what continues to make the Gray Spear Society titles so compelling as they move beyond predictable formulas and delve into unique (and spiritual) realms of deeper plots and strong characterization.

Siegel's focus is not just on events, but on underlying motivations of people - and on struggles between good and evil forces in the world. It's this attention to deeper influences that gives Grim Reflections and its predecessors the depth so many authors strive for (often, unsuccessfully). Under a lesser hand the zombie situation could have focused on blood, gore, and close encounters; but under Siegel's hand and in the care of his supernaturally-talented Gray Spear members, the zombie apocalypse is considered as part of an insidious bigger picture and dealt with accordingly.

The novel opens calmly, on golf course setting where Aaron and new Spear member Sheryl golf with the town mayor and chief of police while discussing deterrents to crime and new cases.

Aaron has a fairly direct link to God, but no amount of spiritual consultation can lead him to predict the sudden outbreak of cannibalism in Chicago that immerses him in danger before he's even had a chance to investigate. And many of his best team members are tied up with projects linked to God and human advancement.

But when chaos begins in earnest, it'll take every member of the Gray Spear Society to assure the human race will have a chance of survival, much less a chance to remain democratic and viable as a society.

Siegel's approach doesn't neglect the individual growth of members of the Society even as it surveys the overall links and connections between members: key participants in events struggle with their limitations, growth, and even human reactions that prevent them from reaching their full, effective potential as peacekeepers for the human race.

As the outbreak worsens, social, ethical and military considerations come into play, affecting the Society's ability to react and interact to make a difference in the outcome of a deadly epidemic. The Gray Society locates the source of the infection in an unlikely place - but what do unexpected gifts have to do with the intention of turning people into murdering cannibals?

With the specter of Chicago turning into a war zone isolated by the military, Aaron has no choice but to call in all members of the Society - even those not yet recovered from other dangerous and draining missions.

The intense investigation that will follow soon becomes global as clues are tracked down and small pieces of information become ties to the bigger picture indicating an even more sinister plan than cannibal diseases.

Sexual encounters, a 'wild card' President and a dead Vice-President, slavery, germ warfare and spiritual guidance all blend in a fast-paced mystery packed with unexpected twists and turns, thrills and tension, and a Society endeavor that threatens to tackle the entire U.S. Army.

Good reading at its best, Grim Reflections is yet another satisfyingly different Gray Spear addition, highly recommended for any prior enthusiast who will find familiarity with the protagonists doesn't preclude satisfying surprises throughout this latest story.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer


Dunford's Bookshelf

Gem City Gypsy
Kristin Kuhns Alexandre
Sisterhood Publications
www.sisterhoodpublications.com
c/o The Barrett Company (publicity)
12021 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
www.gemcitygypsy.com
9781484059647 $9.99 pbk. / $4.99 ebook www.thebarrettco.com

Vivid and punctuated by moments of violence, Gem City Gypsy is a novel about Neci Stans, a 19-year-old gypsy woman in 1900's Ohio. Neci dreams of marrying the handsome Ezra Crawford and joining high society, but ugly complications drag down her hopes - her father is racist, the Ku Klux Klan is a menace, a possessive female rival wants Ezra's heart, and a shady yet sexy Englishman has set his sights on Neci. Exacerbating all these problems is the mystic gift of Neci's own gypsy heritage - at times she glimpses dire, fragmented visions of the future. An intense story of hope, heartbreak, and deadly peril, Gem City Gypsy will keep the reader in suspense to the very end.

Michael Dunford
Reviewer


Greenspan's Bookshelf

Diamond Fields
Randall Reneau
Privately Published
www.randall-reneau.com
9781480082267 $11.95 www.amazon.com

Diamond Fields is an exciting, action-packed novel of bloodshed and riches. Geologist Trace Brandon thought he had retired from mining for good... until he hears from Cyrus "The Virus" McSweeny, whose honeyed words lure Brandon into a miner's minefield! In search of rare, extraordinarily precious green diamonds, Brandon, expat mining engineer Gordon Watson, and a mysterious former potato farmer who calls himself "Mormon" team up to search the searches of West Africa. But when violent rebels attempt a coup, Brandon and his associates are trapped in the crosshairs of a deadly upheaval! Diamond Fields is highly recommended, and compelling to the very last page.

Able Greenspan
Reviewer


Helen's Bookshelf

The Controlled
Becky Komant
BK Press
c/o The Barrett Company (publicity)
12021 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
www.thecontrolledbook.com
9780991811502 $15.95 www.thebarrettco.com

The Controlled is a dark novel about a woman trapped in a destructive relationship with a tyrannical, abusive man. When Sarah fell in love with Alex, she tried to be a good wife, and started a family because she loved children. But the longer she stayed in the relationship, the tighter Alex controlled her, restricting her movements, isolating her from friends, and eventually poisoning every aspect of her life. The struggle to resist his lies and earn her freedom is an uphill battle, complicated by the need to provide for her children. The Controlled is as much a cautionary tale against the dangers of abusive partners as it is a razor-edge work of suspense, keeping the reader in trepidation to the very last page.

Helen Dumont
Reviewer


Julie's Bookshelf

The Riddle Of Solomon
D. J. Niko
Medallion Press, Inc.
100 South River Street, Aurora, IL 60506
www.medallionpress.com
9781605425290, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Cambridge archaeologist Sarah Weston and anthropologist Daniel Madigan team up for another expedition and adventure in this second book in the Sarah Weston Chronicles. While working on the Qaryat al-Fau archaeological site in Saudi Arabia, the pair uncovers a mysterious ancient scroll composed as a riddle. As they attempt to date and decipher the scroll, a flurry of ills befalls their expedition and the scroll is stolen. A trail of clues leads to India, Jerusalem, and the Judean wilderness, where the two discover the scroll was written by the enigmatic King Solomon as a map to an ancient manuscript. Meanwhile a privileged young Briton, Trent Sacks, has invested years and a fortune looking for his manuscript. Believing he is the last descendant of the House of David in the line of Solomon, Sacks will do whatever it takes to amass the ancient relics which will prove he is the Jewish Messiah. Leaving a string of murders in his wake, Sacks vows to crush Sarah and Daniel for challenging his quest. Journeying through the worlds of the occult, corporate greed, geopolitical conflict, Judaic mysticism, and biblical archaeology, Sarah and Daniel race to uncover the powerful ancient message that could have an explosive impact on modern Israel.

Critique: Author D. J. Niko continues to be 'on a roll' with her second novel which is a deftly written as the first (The Tenth Saint, 9781605422459, $14.95). Her lead character, Sarah Weston, is a kind of female archaeologist that would give Lara Croft or Indiana Jones a run for their money! The action is of the cliff-hanger variety in a story replete with memorable characters and a complexly compelling storyline. "The Riddle Of Solomon" is pure entertainment from beginning to end. It should also be noted that "The Riddle Of Solomon" is available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

In Plain View
Olivia Newport
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
www.barbourbooks.com
9781616267131, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Annie's quest for simplicity is about to get complicated. Nearly a year after leaving her successful but unsatisfying high-tech life, she wonders if she can truly succeed at being Amish. A lucrative job offer, a red dress, and the shadow of an Amish woman looking for a husband create a vortex that clouds Annie's choice. Her parents seem determined to sabotage her efforts, and Rufus Beiler, an Amish carpenter who captured her heart, leaves room for doubt about their future. But when an explosion brings Annie under suspicion, can she clear her name and bring the future into plain view?

Critique: Simply stated, Olivia Newport is one of the truly gifted of today's Christian fiction authors. "In Plain View" is a smoothly engaging read featuring carefully crafted and memorable characters deftly woven into a story that grasps the readers total attention from first page to last. "In Plain View" is an extraordinarily entertaining read. Also very highly recommended are author Olivia Newport's "Accidently Amish" (Barbour Publishing, 9781616267124, $14.99); "Pursuit of Lucy Banning" (Revell, Kindle, $9.99); and "Amish By Accident" (Blessed Publishing, Kindle, $2.99).

The Reluctant First Lady
Venita Ellick
Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail Drive, Suite 205
Dallas, TX 75248-2871
www.brownbooks.com
9781612541136, $24.99, 368 pp., www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ashley Taylor has been straightforward with her husband, the president-elect of the United States. She supported his candidacy, but she has no intention of assuming the traditional role of First Lady--a position she describes as ''First Hostess.'' Instead, she will resume her own career as head of one of the largest art museums in New York. The aftermath of her decision triggers reactions from the public, news commentators, late night comedians, and other political factions. While Ashley and Michael wrestle with saving their marriage and preserving their professional lives, the country debates whether the role of First Lady is a necessity, how the media influences the lives of public figures, and how much a woman should sacrifice for the person she loves.

Criteria: An elegantly crafted novel, "The Reluctant First Lady" clearly documents author Venita Ellick as an exceptionally accomplished writer able to skillfully weave memorable characters into an riveting story line from beginning to end. As engaging as it is entertaining, "The Reluctant First Lady" is highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library contemporary fiction collections.

The Lotus Palace
Jeannie Lin
www.jeannielin.com
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373777730, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang Li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China.... Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she's content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress-until she meets the aristocratic playboy Bai Huang. Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, yet alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang's position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine-will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart?

Critique: A deftly crafted romance novel set in the era of the China's Tang Dynasty, author Jeannie Lin has paid close attention to historical details as she weaves an engaging plot populated with memorable characters that engage the reader's total and rapt attention from beginning to end. "The Lotus Palace" is pure entertainment from first page to last and a highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library historical romance collections. It should also be noted that "The Lotus Palace" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.15).

Kylie's Heel
Susan K. Perry
Humanist Press
1777 - "T" Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
9780931779336, $10.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Kylie Moran considers herself to be a rational person. She allows her religious twin sister to take her teenage son to Africa on a medical mission. But when seemingly irrantional developments ensue that threaten her family, how should a rational person respond?

Critique: "Kylie's Heel" is a deftly crafted novel that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is entertaining and compelling. Author Susan K. Perry is an impressive author able to engage her reader's total attention from beginning to end. "Kylie's Heel" is highly recommended reading. It should also be noted that "Kylie's Heel" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Sparta
Roxana Robinson
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
www.fsgbooks.com
9780374267704, $27.00, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Conrad Farrell has no family military heritage, but as a classics major at Williams College, he has encountered the powerful appeal of the Marine Corps ethic. "Semper Fidelis" comes straight from the ancient world, from Sparta, where every citizen doubled as a full-time soldier. When Conrad graduates, he joins the Marines to continue a long tradition of honor, courage, and commitment.

Conrad has just returned home to Katonah, New York, after four years in Iraq, and he's beginning to learn that something has changed in his landscape. Something has gone wrong, though things should be fine: he hasn't been shot or wounded; he's never had psychological troubles. But as he attempts to reconnect with his family and his girlfriend and to find his footing in the civilian world, he learns how hard it is to return to the people and places he used to love. His life becomes increasingly difficult to negotiate: he can't imagine his future, can't recover his past, and can't bring himself to occupy his present. As weeks turn into months, Conrad feels himself trapped in a life that's constrictive and incomprehensible, and he fears that his growing rage will have irreparable consequences.

Synopsis: In a storyline that couldn't be more contemporary, author Roxana Robinson's "Sparta" is a superbly written novel embedded with memorable characters, especially the protagonist Conrad with whom the reader cannot help but identify with. Deftly crafted from first page to last, "Sparta" is an entertaining and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library contemporary fiction collections.

A Teacher's Guide To Preventing Behavior Problems In The Elementary Classroom
Stephen W. Smith & Mitchell L. Yell
Pearson
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300
Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
9780137147410, $35.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: This guide includes straightforward, feasible, and evidence-based strategies designed to prevent behavior problems in K-5 classrooms and encourages teachers to be proactive in classroom management. Its emphasis on preventing behavior problems before they occur enables teachers to run their classrooms more efficiently and experience less frustration, while also increasing students learning. Chapters are devoted to organization and structure, effective instruction, prevention and intervention techniques, responding to student misbehavior and relationship building. Using real-life classroom scenarios, this guide equips teachers with management techniques that break the common cycle of frustration, aggression, rejection, and hostility, so they can create positive classroom environments.

Critique: Superbly organized and presented, "A Teacher's Guide To Preventing Behavior Problems In The Elementary Classroom" is a highly recommended as a student teacher training curriculum supplement and has a great deal of value to offer even the more experienced elementary school classroom teacher. Practical, informed and informative, "A Teacher's Guide To Preventing Behavior Problems In The Elementary Classroom" should be a part of every academic library's Education Studies reference collection.

Camellia Creek
Charlsie Russell
Loblolly Writer's House
PO Box 7438
Gulfport, Mississippi 39506-7438
www.loblollywritershouse.com
9780976982449, $16.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In September 1865 Eli Calhoon, Lieutenant Colonel, Confederate States Army, returns to his war-ravaged plantation home, Camellia Creek, outside Port Gibson, Mississippi, resolved to begin again. But Mississippi, like the rest of the South, lies prostrate in the wake of a devastating conflict that wasted its population and destroyed what had been, only four years earlier, the third strongest economy in the world. More troubling, the South's recovery is now overseen by a victorious enemy determined that the economy, as well as the South's influence within the Union, will never revive. For Southerners, getting a spring crop in the field is as far out of reach as is the payment of five years' back taxes, demanded by Congress demands from the states in Rebellion to pay for the war it waged against them.

Orphaned Alice Shelton has come to Mississippi with her aunt and uncle, Betty and Peter Franklin. Peter is a speculator in search of investment. A veteran of the victorious army, who'd seen duty in Mississippi and Louisiana, he knows opportunity exists in the defeated South. His preference for a home for his wife, daughter, and niece is the lovely bayou plantation home called Camellia Creek. In company with the Franklins is Peter's widowed sister-in-law Eustacia from New York and her son, Jonathan, who Peter believes is the perfect match for Alice, heiress to a fortune. Betty Shelton is the sister of Alice's widowed father, Jacob Shelton. He and his two sons were killed in action during the late war, fighting for the Union. The losses have left Alice in despair so deep her aunt fears Alice might take her own life.

Seth Parker, Major, United States Marine Corps, has come to Mississippi at the request of a friend and military senior to investigate the murder of a U.S. Treasury agent, which military authorities in the state believe may tie into cotton thefts rampant among the white Army officers stationed in Mississippi. The powers that be prefer a Southerner be found to blame, but his immediate senior is not so sure. To investigate the death, Seth is given a troop of nine men, all colored members of Mississippi's Loyal Native Guard, for the most part ex-slaves recruited/impressed into the Union army during the war.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in a lawless South where justice is arbitrary and order is maintained by the unprincipled and undisciplined, desperate measures are gambles that sometimes pay off. When an indiscretion lands the lovely Alice into the hands of a determined Eli Calhoon, he blackmails her into marriage, taking her person and her money, and brings her to Camellia Creek, where she is haunted by Jocelyn LeBlanc, an ill-fated beauty who died under mysterious circumstances decades earlier. In addition to Jocelyn's ghostly presence, war's aftermath, intrigue, murder, jealousy, and greed vex alice and threaten her new-found desire to live, a desire ignited by the very man who could be plotting to snuff it out.

Critique: A massive historical saga, "Camellia Creek" is no ordinary novel and its author, Charlsie Russell, is no ordinary storyteller. Great attention is paid to the creation of memorable characters and riveting story lines that keep the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. Wonderfully entertaining, "Camellia Creek" is a highly recommended read and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should also be noted that "Camellia Creek" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.95).

Jeannette by Jeannette: A Memoir of Blessings
J. L. Hoerdt
Biographical Publishing Company
95 Sycamore Drive
Prospect, CT 06712-1493
www.biopub.us
9781929882823, $12.00, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a child of a criminal father, Jeannette grew up appreciating food and shelter as daily blessings and learning to read at age twelve to be a miracle! When a teenager, she entered a convent and stayed for twenty long years. After that she met and married the best person to ever happen to her. That lasted for an enchanting 27 years, 3 months and 12 hours. She loves how her life has been upside-down to those who recall a happy childhood and loathe old age.

Critique: A wonderfully candid and engaging autobiography, "Jeannette by Jeannette: A Memoir of Blessings" is inspired and inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Markedly forthright and genuine, "Jeannette by Jeannette: A Memoir of Blessings" is a highly recommended and rewarding read.

Hollywood Strip
Shamron Moore
Forge Books
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
The Barrett Company (publicity)
12021 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
www.tor-forge.com
9780765332301, $24.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Beautiful and sexy, Callie knows exactly what she wants: fame, fortune, and a fabulous career as a Hollywood actress. Packing her bags, Callie leaves her mundane life in Michigan for Los Angeles, determined to be a star. Her schedule is grueling: waitressing long hours to make ends meet and auditioning for anything and everything in the hopes that she'll land a big break. After suffering what feels like thousands of heartbreaking rejections, she finally lands the lead in an unlikely hit movie, Nympho Cheerleaders Attack!, bringing her dry spell to an end.

The film opens a new world of glamorous possibilities. Coupled with a budding romance with Evan Marquardt, a sexy, chart-topping singer, Callie's on top of the world. But she's thrown for a loop when tragedy strikes, unleashing a string of events she never in her wildest dreams anticipated. She quickly discovers that success in Hollywood creates a feeding frenzy of money-hungry producers, two-faced friends, and privacy-robbing paparazzi. It seems that life as an on-the-rise starlet is not as glamorous as she once imagined. . .

Critique: Shamron Moore's "Hollywood Strip" is not only a terrific novel -- it would make an ideal story for one of those summertime block buster movies! Moore rights with a kind of lyrical realism that is impressive for a debut novel. Of special note and not to be missed is her little two page 'Acknowledgments' that proceeds the story itself. Populated with memorable characters including an unforgettable Callie, "Hollywood Strip" is a thoroughly entertaining read and very strongly recommended for community library contemporary fiction collections. It should also be noted that "Hollywood Strip" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

River Of Destiny
Barbara Erskine
Charnwood Large Print
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230
West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
www.ulverscroftusa.com
9781444815887, $35.50, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: On the banks of the river Deben in Suffolk lie ancient Anglo-Saxon barns. Their walls have secrets, which have lain buried for centuries. When Zoe and Ken move into one of the converted barns, they seem happy. But they grow more distant by the day. Meanwhile, the strange presence Zoe feels within their home, and the ghostly shapes she sees through the mists on the river, grow harder to ignore. Nearby, farmers are ploughing the land beside the river, and human bones are found. Are they linked to the Victorian tragedy the locals whisper about? What is the secret of the grassy mound, untouched for centuries? Its disturbance now seems to have devastating consequences. The river is ready to reveal its violent secrets...

Critique: With "River Of Destiny", author Barbara Erskine once again demonstrates her superb skills as a storyteller and wordsmith. It should also be noted that her background as an historian serves the readers particularly well with respect to background details. This large print edition will be particularly appreciated for readers with 'aging eyes' for whom this format is appropriate. Simply stated, "River Of Destiny" is a thoroughly entertaining novel from beginning to end, and for those to whom this is their first introduction to Barbara Erskine's literary talent, I would also recommended "Times Legacy"; "Lady of Hay: Two Women, Eight Hundred Years, and the Destiny They Share"; and "Child of the Phoenix".

Sex Mudras
Serge Villecroix
Destiny Books
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
www.innertraditions.com
9781620550038, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Originating in Hinduism and Buddhism, a mudra is a sacred gestures of the hands and body to energize the sexual organs, increase libido, enhance pleasure, and improve overall health. "Sex Mudras: Energy Movement Exercises for Sexual Vitality" illustrates energy movement exercises for men and women. There are mudras for men to reach orgasm without ejaculation and details shared exercises for couples to harmonize male and female energies. These exercises can treat sexual dysfunction, such as impotence, as well as overcome sexual problems caused by tobacco, psychotropic drugs, alcohol, and other substances. Providing a complete guide to the sex mudras, "Sex Mudras" shows how strengthening your sexual energies also improves cardiac and respiratory health and overall vitality.

Critique: Superbly written and presented, "Sex Mudras" is a serious work that will prove invaluable and instructive for men and women in committed relationships who seek to optimize their physical contacts. Of special note is the information presented concerning dietary advice and the natural elements that contribute to harmonious sexuality. Replete with step-by-step exercises for men, for women, and four couples, "Sex Mudras" is highly recommended reading for adults seeking to maximize their sexual energy and experiences. It should also be noted that "Sex Mudras' is available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Lang/Baumann: More is More
Sabina Lang & Daniel Baumann
Gestalten
Die Gestalten Verlag GmbH & Co. KG
Mariannenstr. 9-10, 10999 Berlin, Germany
9783899554816, $65.00, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The abstract spatial interventions of Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann meld architecture with art, urbanism, and installation. The Swiss architecture office Lang/Baumann is renowned for its bold spatial interventions. They are colorful, striking, and rigorous and masters of experimental spatial design calling for more audacity in using large-scale geometric abstraction and pop art to create compelling temporary installations or to showcase spaces and brands. While their radical embellishment of the streets of Swiss mountain village Vercorin with bright lines garnered them worldwide attention, the team of Lang and Baumann have also done a variety of other work that gives new impulses to our eyes and thoughts.

Critique: "Lang/Baumann: More is More" is an engaging presentation of visual images superbly enhancing an informed and informative monograph. An impressive body of work, "Lang/Baumann: More is More" should be considered mandatory reading for students in the fields of architecture, urban development, and contemporary art. Indeed, this compendium of the inspired and inspiring examples the comprise "Lang/Baumann: More is More" would make it an enduringly popular and instructive addition to professional and academic library reference collections.

Twin Flames: A Love Story Across Time and Dimensions
Carolyn R. Prescott
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
www.outskirtspress.com
9781478715085, $18.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Twin Flames: A Love Story Across Time and Dimensions" is a cross-culture, cross-dimension, and cross-time story of longing that shows the effects of unenlightened use of personal subtle energies. When two innocents, members of the First Nation People, are torn apart, it seems their love is doomed. But with unwavering determination, the lovers Ahhatome and Lily, formerly known as Little Bear/Two Bears and Sings To Flowers, propel themselves through adventures of emotion, mind, and past-life memory, where two beings are more than soul mates. They are transcendent, timeless twin souls- reminding us that our bodies are not only ephemeral vehicles for our time here on earth, but also a temporary home for our spirits and our love-which are eternal.

Critique: Author Carolyn R. Prescott has created a deftly woven metaphysical novel that will engage the readers rapt attention from beginning to end. This is a superbly crafted novel that will be remembered and reflected upon long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Twin Flames" would make an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library fiction collections.

Solstice Magic
Jean Stringam
Dollison Road Books
www.jeanstringam.com
9780985554002, $9.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A magical world of cowboys, rabbits, and Ukrainian goddesses that unfolds when Zo's gruff baba from Ukraine arrives with her savage Caucasian Ovchorka dog. The ensuing chaos of clashing cultures catapults the characters into the extreme sport of rodeo at the Calgary Stampede. There, Vince Lapin, bull-rider extraordinaire, meets up with Susie Lago, protege of Zo, and the outcome for the other rodeo contestants as well as the animal athletes changes stampede history. Good thing Zo has a best friend with an attractive older brother to soften the trauma. "Solstice Magic" is magical realism for everybody who ever wished to be more than they are.

Critique: "Solstice Magic" is the first volume in a planned series of Calgary Stampede stories for young adult readers. Author Jean Stringam has deftly created a unique world populated with memorable characters. "Solstice Magic" is a very special and enormously entertaining read from beginning to end making it highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as school and community library YA collections.

Secrets of a Spiritual Guru
Tamara Lee Dorris
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
c/o Author Marketing Experts (publicity)
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781481805568, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Melissa Murphy is a wine-drinking real estate agent who finds herself "accidentally" assuming the role of a spiritual blogger when her boyfriend leaves her for his yoga teacher. Can she keep her role secret while trying to win her man back? If the lying doesn't kill her, the poses might!

Critique: "Secrets of a Spiritual Guru: Real Estate, Yoga & Lies" is a terrifically entertaining read that blends humor with insight and all-too-real observations on what can pass for expertise and experts in affairs of the human heart. Exceptionally well written, author Tamara Lee Dorris has a true talent for witty narrative and this will leave her readers looking eagerly toward her next literary effort!

Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings
Ferdowsi, author
Hamid Rahmanian illustrator
Quantuck Lane Press
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
www.wwnorton.com
9781593720513, $75.00, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ferdowsi's epic poem Shahnameh is part myth, part history - it begins with the legend of the birth of the Persian nation and its tumultuous history. It contains magical birds, and superhuman heroes, and centuries-long battles. Written over 1,000 years ago, it was meant to protect Persian collective memory amidst a turbulent sea cultural storms. Originally written in couplets, the new translation and adaptation by Ahmad Sadri retells the mythological tales in prose format. The spectacular illustrations in this edition were created from elements culled from thousands of illuminated manuscripts, lithographs, and miniatures dating from the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries, each panel becomes a new work of art, an exquisite collage of traditional forms.

Critique: A spectacularly beautiful boxed edition showcasing more than 500 superbly executed illustration by Hamid Rahmanian that makes Ferdowsi's epic Persian poem easily accessible to the understanding and appreciation of a contemporary reader, "Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings" is an outstanding and unique volume that would be especially appropriate for an academic or community library Memorial Fund acquisition selection. Of special note is Ahmad Sadri's erudite and articulate English translation of Derdowsi' poetry.

Unleavened Dead
Illene Schneider
Oak Tree Press
1820 West Lacey Blvd., Suite 220
Hanford, Ca 93230
www.oaktreebooks.com
9781610091985, $16.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Two members of Rabbi Aviva Cohen's congregation are found dead, victims, they say, of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. But Aviva has info that leads her to doubt it was an accident. Then, police suspect Aviva's niece's partner in a hit-and-run death. Aviva is sure the woman is innocent, even though her SUV has a body-sized dent on the hood. As she looks into the two disparate cases, Aviva discovers they may be connected, and her amateur sleuthing takes a sinister turn that involves sexual abuse of teenage girls, money laundering, stolen identities, and an FBI investigation. Once again, her curiosity has put her life in jeopardy.

Critique: Author Illene Schneider brings authentic accuracy to background details in this terrific mystery novel because she is an ordained rabbi -- one of the first six women to be so ordained in the United States. A skilled storyteller who's 'whodunnit' plays fair with the readers, Schneider has written a thoroughly entertaining novel that will leave her readers eagerly looking forward to her next literary effort. Simply stated, "Unleavened Dead" is a fun read from beginning to end and would prove a popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should also be noted that "Unleavened Dead" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.95).

The Man Inside the Mountain
Suzanne Mays
Jan-Carol Publishing
3119 Bristol Hwy., #217
Johnson City, TN 37601
9780984319268, $10.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The Man Inside the Mountain is the fictional story of Essie Bell, a woman living on her farm in rural West Virginia in the last few months of the Civil War. Her only son has been presumed dead by the Union Army, but late nights, she studies his picture. She believes that somehow, he is okay. Essie's farm is her salvation while she waits for news of her son. She grows a big garden, raises chickens, and bakes bread to sell in town. When her husband dies, everyone says she must sell the farm and move to town, but she knows this will kill her. Suddenly alone, with only her faithful dog for a companion, Essie faces the cold, harsh winter. Yet, one by one, new people begin to enter Essie's life and she finds that she is still needed. As her story unfolds, you will be drawn into a story of secrets, renewed relationships, and ultimately new life.

Critique: Although an experienced short story writer, "The Man Inside the Mountain" is author Suzanne Mays' debut novel and clearly establishes her as a gifted storyteller who can keep the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. In addition to deftly crafted and memorable characters embedded within an engaging story, meticulous attention has been paid to the historical accuracy of the Civil War background through which the novel takes place. Highly recommended reading and a popular addition to community library collections, it should also be noted that "The Man Inside the Mountain" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

Old Lanai
Warren S. Croft
Phantasea Books
201 Ohua Avenue, Suite T1-2705
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815-5637
9780615758572, $19.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Old Lanai" is the complete, unabridged journal of a renowned professor, Warren S. Croft, who traveled to Lanai, Hawaii in 1940 to investigate the strange disappearance of the villagers of Keamoku at the hands of 'evil spirits'. He never returned. Here lies the full transcription of his chilling experience, along with 28 original photographs recovered from his camera. The evil mana spirits of ancient Hawaii are discussed in detail, and the pictures Dr. Croft took during his terrifying ordeal will make it difficult for you to sleep at night. But you will also learn exactly how Prince Kaulua'ua of Maui defeated the demons of Lanai circa 1400 AD.

Critique: "Old Lanai" is so well written that if it is factual, it reads like fiction. If it is fiction, it reads like it is factual. Of special note are the truly impressive illustrations that face each page of text. A true chiller of a tale from beginning to end, "Old Lanai" is highly recommended reading -- with the lights on! It should also be noted that "Old Lanai" is available in a Kindle edition ($1.49).

Blood Month
William Vaughn
Y Lolfa Cyf
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7
Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
www.dufoureditions.com
9781847716569, $9.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Blood Month" novel that takes a frank look at the tensions and frustrations infused in a Welsh boarding school in the autumn of 1971. Rhian Evans, a young and lonely history teacher, arrives at Llanover Grange and soon begins an affair with Gareth, a troubled student she meets at an evening class. On Armistice Day, Rhian chances upon the body of the Rev. John Griffiths, the school's unpopular headmaster. The investigation uncovers a list of possible suspects, accusations of sexual misconduct, and a climate of jealousy and intrigue. After several false starts, the detectives stumble upon the truth, but not before an innocent woman is charged with murder.

Critique: William Vaughn deftly writes an engaging mystery populated with memorable characters and a swiftly paced story line that compels the reader's total attention from beginning to end. A quick and entertaining read, "Blood Month" is highly recommended, especially for those who like their mysteries articulate and exceptionally well crafted.

Critical Mass
Kathleen M. Henry
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
Gulotta Communications (publicity)
341 Lexington Street, Newton, MA 02466
9780595524129, $10.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A compilation of short and interrelates stories that share the common theme of entrenched traditions of the Catholic Church and its Mass.

Critique: The stories are deftly interwoven and reflect the author's keen insights and understanding of the emotional as well as clerical issues involved with an embedded Catholicism within people's lives. Well crafted characters, engaging narratives, creative literary presentation, all combine to deliver an vividly engaging and often thought-provoking read from beginning to end. Highly recommended reading, it should also be noted that "Critical Mass" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.00).

Julie Summers
Reviewer


Klausner's Bookshelf

The Eye of God
James Rollins
Morrow
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
www.williammorrow.com
9780061784804, $27.99, www.amazon.com

At the DOD Space and Missile System Center in El Segundo, California, concerned Director Painter Crowe tells DARPA General Metcalf and key research physicist Dr. Jada Shaw something is wrong with the satellite studying the dark matter that birthed the universe. The vivid pictures transmitted show the eastern seaboard in total ruins from an apparent meteor. Ground control tries to shut down "The Eye of God" satellite, but fails as the IOG obtained an external energy source. The satellite crashes in Mongolia. Crowe and Metcalf agree IOG must be retrieved before the Chinese or worse obtain the satellite.

In Rome, Christian archeology and Vatican archivist of secrets Monsignor Vigor Verona receives an ancient parchment bound in human skin and a skull with eye lashes sent by long dead Fr. Josip Tarasco. Vigor tells his niece Rachel this is The Gospel of Thomas, which declares the end of the world in four days.

Sigma Force Commander Gray Pierce directs part of his team already in Mongolia searching for Khan Era artifacts to retrieves the satellite or what is left of it. At the same time he leads a unit accompanying Fr. Tarasco and his niece into China as DNA testing proved the skin and skull from the ancient tome was once Genghis Khan. They hope to learn why Attila turned away from Rome and why the empire fell anyway. All converge in a sacred home of Genghis Khan.

The latest Sigma Force thriller (see Bloodline) is an exhilarating action-packed tale that smoothly combines an end of the world scenario with quantum physics, and ancient Rome and Mongol history. Gripping throughout, readers will appreciate James Rollin's taut thriller as the end of days countdown begins.

Sling Shot
Matthew Dunn
Morrow
9780062038029, $25.99

In 1995 Berlin, Head of Russia's SVR S Division Intelligence Officer Nikolai Dmitriev loathes every step he takes through myriads of security checkpoints manned by the elite special forces of his nation and the Americans at the abandoned Soviet barracks. When he reaches his destination, Nikolai is the only person in the room of top espionage and military officials who believe the Slingshot protocols are psychotic as hundreds of millions will die. He signs the document anyway. The evil genius behind Slingshot former East German Stasi Officer Kurt Schrieber tells his colleagues that Russia's greatest assassin Kronos will kill anyone who betrays the plan. To bring fear to the conspirators Kronos shows them pictures of where he has been over the last few days: in their homes.

In the present in Poland all hell breaks loose leaving many dead over a defector. When the protocols are stolen, the signatories fear Kronos as much as they do the one who apparently plans to expose them. Kronos begins the hunt for the betrayer. Also on the quest are several of those who signed the Slingshot protocols; M16 Will Cochrane and his team; a CIA unit with a hidden agenda, and a Mossad operative.

The third Cochrane espionage thriller (see Sentinel and Spycatcher) is an exciting tale from the moment Slingshot is signed and never loses that exhilarating pace. Fans anticipate a showdown between Cochrane and Kronos with the latter the betting favorite as he seems more skilled. However, the other players in this convoluted life and death struggle make for a fabulous storyline as they add depth while also keeping the readers wondering who the good, the bad and the ugly are.

A Time Of Change
Aimee and David Thurlo
Forge
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.tor-forge.com
9780765324528, $24.95, www.amazon.com

Living on her People's reservation, Josephine Buck attends classes at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico; works part-time at the Outpost; and is the youngest Navaho apprentice to the Hataaliis medicine man. The Outpost owner Tom Stuart is a kind elder statesman mentoring his devoted employees.

When the revered Tom is shockingly murdered, Jo need to know why and who. Almost as stunning Tom bequeathed the Outpost to Jo instead of his son Ben who comes home from Afghanistan on military compassionate leave to bury his estranged father. Feeling remorse for not reconciling and anger for not inheriting, Ben also needs to know the truth behind his dad's killing. Having been high school sweethearts almost a decade ago, both wonder how their lives would have been if they remained together as the attraction remains strong. When someone breaks into the Outpost and Jo's home, she and Ben fear more violence is coming.

While Clah takes a breather, A Time of Change is an exciting second chance at love romantic suspense. The comparisons between Navaho Nation and external law enforcement enhance the strong whodunit while a fabulous twist adds unexpected tension. With a super cast (including the deceased through the filter of the other characters) readers will appreciate Team Thurlo's entertaining thriller that uses social issues like alcoholism to anchor a fabulous mystery.

April's Promise
Karen Rose Smith
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00DBEXATA, $2.99, www.amazon.com

Single dad Gabe Chronister thought he could work from his home while caring for his three year old daughter Stephie while the nanny is away on a family medical emergency. The CEO learned how wrong he was.

Gabe's mother-in-law Winnifred Remmington calls her living daughter April to tell her that Gabe and Stephie need her. Taking vacation time, April heads from her temporary assignment in Los Angeles to Cedar Corners, Virginia to help. She also thinks back to when she dated him five years ago but was not ready to marry so instead fled to Singapore on a one year business assignment. While she was overseas, her late sister Vanessa captured Gabe's heart. Eight months ago, Vanessa, dying from an accident, confessed to April that Stephie is not Gabe's daughter. Feeling guilt for her death bed promise not to reveal Vanessa dying secret, April helps Gabe with Stephie even as both realize their attraction remains strong. However, she fears how he will react if he learns the truth and he fears she likes his BFF Nicholas.

The first Forever Love contemporary is a strong tale due to the fully developed cast; as readers get to know what motivated April and Gabe today and five years ago, and through them Vanessa. Fans will appreciate this engaging tale as no one writes family dramas better than Karen Rose Smith consistently authors.

In Thunder Forged
Ari Marmell
Pyr
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781616147730, $18.00, www.amazon.com

In 605 AR Llael, war is on everyone's mind but no one wants to talk about it as the Kingdom Khador aggressively moves into the western front, but that is far away from Leryn. Lyrran, Garland seduces Goodman Lyrran Tolamos the alchemist, but places something in his wine that puts him to sleep. Before he snoozes she questions him about Thunderhead Fortress, the Golden Crucible and Idran di Meryse. Not long afterward, she waits in the cold while holding two vials.

In Llael's ally the Kingdom of Cygnar, there is shock over what transpired as the formula could change the war in favor of Khador. Sergeant Bracewell and her elite unit, Lieutenant Katherine Laddermore and Lady Dignity Underhurst the spy mount a desperate retrieval mission.

The first Fall of Llael military fantasy is an exciting Iron Kingdoms Chronicles based on the Warmachine game. Players will especially enjoy this opening gamut; while outsiders who appreciate an entertaining espionage military steampunk plot with strong women on both sides of the hostilities will also want to read Ari Marmell's engaging tale.

Sleeping With The Entity
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9780312591465, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In Chicago, Danielle Delaney plans to open up Heavenly Cupcakes, but the neighborhood business association led by bar and grill owner Nick St. George oppose Little Miss Cup Cake. Danielle cannot fathom why, as Nick hides his real reason from her. He and his clan of vampires want to stay below the radar and she would be the first crack in their concealment.

He tries to compel her to obey his order to leave, but shocking Nick and his clan she ignores his efforts. Instead Danielle uses her red velvet cupcakes to win support, but shocking her no one seems to have a sweet tooth for her sugary concoctions as this group prefers liquid red. As she opens up Heavenly Cupcakes, Nick becomes her protector only wondering who will keep her safe from his desire to taste her.

Sleeping With the Entity is a fun lighthearted vampire romance. The protagonists are a delightful coupling while the support cast is eccentric. The storyline cleverly uses irony to add humor (for instance, Danielle tells her friend that "all the good men are taken ... the rest are vampires.") to an engaging paranormal romance.

Death, Taxes, And Hot Pink Leg Warmers
Diane Kelly
St. Martin's Press
9781250023070, $7.99

In Dallas, Treasury Department Criminal Investigation Team field operative Tara Holloway learns two things on her recent assignment: do not trust grannies with baseball bats and how hard her head is. Tara must be in court due to her role in the "Tennis Racketeers" tax evasion mortgage fraud.

Her field assignment is undercover at the Guys and Dolls strip joint to uncover unreported income earned from the sales of drugs and sex. Tara relishes this bookkeeping assignment as this may be the only place at this time in which she and Special Agent Nick Pratt can begin a relationship that both want. However someone wanting her dead intrudes on her desires and her ex reenters the picture (or not?).

The latest Tara Holloway IRS criminal investigation (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte; and Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure) is an engaging thriller filled with humor and dangerous issues involving unreported income. Ironically, the storyline inductively shows the timeline to bring a novel to print as the reference to Josh Hamilton (bat that Granny used) has him still as a Ranger but he left for the Angels. Fans will enjoy Tara's latest cases as she works to bring down the sleaze and her relationships at the same time.

Stroke Of Midnight
Olivia Drake
St. Martin's Press
9781250002099, $7.99

Over a decade ago, Alexander Ross, the Earl of Copley, accused the father of his fiancee of robbery. Laura Falkner and her father fled London for Portugal.

Laura has returned to London but not as a glamorous lady; instead she is Miss Brown companion to elderly Lady Josephine. She came back to investigate who set up her father ten years ago and who recently murdered him in Covent Gardens while she tended her gardens in Portugal. However, her masquerade is quickly uncovered when Lady Josephine's nephew recognizes her as his biggest regret losing the fiance he loved and hurt ten years ago. Both still in love, her inquiry places her in danger while Alexander plans to be there for his Laura.

The second Cinderella Sisterhood's historical romantic suspense (see If The Slipper Fits) is an entertaining investigative thriller. The lead couple is an intriguing pairing while clues to the identities of the villains are provided yet cleverly difficult to notice as Olivia Drake provides an enjoyable nineteenth century second chance at love mystery.

Shapeshifted
Cassie Alexander
St. Martin's Press
9780312553418, $7.99

Nurse Edie Spence is depressed ever since she was shunned from working at the County Hospital's secret Y4 ward. She loved her exciting job especially helping the paranormal patients. Her loss has impacted her brother Jake as the Shadows used their magic to keep his heroin addiction under control, but her unemployment removed the magical protection. Strike three occurs when her mom tells her that she is dying from Stage Four breast cancer.

Edie learns the only way to save her mother's life is with an infusion of vampire blood. However, she no longer has access to anything paranormal as she is considered an outcast. She applies for a job at a clinic, but Dr. Tovar tells her she in unqualified. As she leaves she gets involved with a shooting victim while thugs are waving guns and a grandmother is praying to Santa Muerte in Spanish; she gets the job where she hopes to find vampire blood as gang turf wars are rampant while her werewolf maybe boyfriend has come home.

The third Edie Spence urban fantasy (see Nightshifted and Moonshifted) is a fast-paced noir as the heroine, who tried but failed to stay out of the fray, needs to jump into the fray. Filled with action and noirish humor, series fans will enjoy Edie trying once again to save her world but as Asher asks who saves Edie.

The Center Of The World
Thomas Van Essen
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10016
www.otherpress.com
9781590515495, $15.95, www.amazon.com

In 1857 art critic John Ruskin rips painter J.M.W. Turner for his vile erotic work. Whereas the critic calls the Center of the World portrait a Jezebel, Turner thinks of her as Helen of Troy though both agree he will end up in hell. Turner thinks back over twenty years ago when he discussed his work at a dinner party his patron Lord Egremont hosted. In 1837, the late Lord Egremont's son called The Center Of The World "infamous" and claiming it no longer existed.

Contemporary art dealer Arthur Bryce seeks what most people today believe is a masterpiece. The work surfaced in the early twentieth century when affluent American Cornelius Rhinebeck brought Helen from England to his Adirondack lodge. Years later Henry Leiden finds it by accident while closing his late father's estate.

Based on Turner's erotic drawings, The Center of the World is a terrific refreshing look at how art impacts people and people impact art with the boundaries of acceptable tastes as to what is pornography changing between generations. Using an imaginary portrait, Thomas Van Essen provides a thought provoking tale of how important and influential art is to society.

Allegra Jackson: Sex, Booze and Designer Shoes
Amelia Benjamin
Fanny Press
www.fannypress.com
9781603815284, $15.95, www.amazon.com

In London, Allegra Jackson is the best headhunter for finding talented models. She worked for six years at the Valentina Blackheart Models, but her boss asks her to clean up the messy Los Angeles branch. She agrees and heads to L.A. where she is shocked by how poorly Dominic Rosenberg runs the place although his assistant Atlanta seems willing to learn. She calls her assistant Oliver and tells him to cross the pond ASAP. The two Brits take charge and begin to change the branch starting with reducing the number of models and making those kept high end.

All is perfect in her new Southern California world until Allegra meets realtor Sebastian Beaumont. Always adhering to her love them and leave them mantra, she knows something is wrong with her as she considers a committed relationship.

Allegra Jackson is a unique refreshing lead character who enjoys all types of sex, being a field general in the modeling world, expensive champagne, designer clothing and more sex. The storyline focuses on her lifestyle, which enables the audience to observe how a high end modeling firm operates. The marvelous modeling subplot competes for supremacy with the torrid trysts; although both are engagingly well written as Amelia Benjamin provides an entertaining erotica.

Lethal Treasure
Jane K. Cleland
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.minotaurbooks.com
9781250026941, $24.99, www.amazon.com

At an auction in Rocky Point, New Hampshire antique dealer Josie Prescott, accompanied by her boyfriend Ty, bids on unopened abandoned storage units. Also bidding on the units is Leigh Ann and Henri Dubois, owners of a newly opened interior design store. Expecting mostly worthless junk, Josie and the Dubois couple are overall pleased with what they find. After looking over what they purchased, Henri asks Josie to appraise his silent movie posters that he found in one of his units.

The next day a concerned Leigh Ann calls Josie with news that Henri is missing. Later they find his corpse inside one of the storage units he bought. Local law enforcement enlists Josie to help them with the antiques' segment of the homicide investigation.

The latest Josie Prescott New England cozy (see Dolled Up for Murder) is an enjoyable whodunit made fresh by the insightful nod to the A&E Storage Wars. The fabulous whodunit is engaging, but it is the Storage Wars segue to include the casualty that makes for a brisk entertaining read.

Smarty Bones
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur
9780312641887, $24.99

New Englander Dr. Olive Twist arrives in Zinnia, Mississippi to prove her assertion that the Lady in Red, whose corpse was accidently dug up in 1969, was murdered in the nineteenth century due to a link to the Lincoln assassination. The locals, especially the Daughters of the Supreme Confederacy, detest the professor for her stereotyping everyone while insisting the New Englander wants to gain fame by bringing shame to the prominent families whether warranted or not. Though she prefers to stay out of the inquiry and believes the mayor or lawyers should handle the furor, private investigator Sarah Booth agrees to talk with Dr. Twist at the Gardens B&B to assuage her mom's upset friend Frances Malone.

Sarah chats with the professor and thinks her mind is twisted. When an explosion trashes the visitor's room, she insists a redneck did it to run her out of town. Sunflower County Sheriff Peters and Deputy Dattilo come to the crime scene to collect evidence. Twist's competitor Dr. Richard Webber arrives in Zinnia to prove his colleague wrong. Soon afterward someone, using poison, murders Twist's assistant Jimmy Boswell. With her ghost Jitty sort of helping her, Sarah investigates.

The latest Sarah Booth Delaney private investigative thriller (see Bonefire of the Vanitie and Bones of a Feather) is an enjoyable humorous whodunit as the New Englander's unproven accusations and stereotyping cause the second war of Northern Aggression. The Northerner's profiling is humorous but the townsfolk's reactions to the professor's misguided simplified beliefs affirm what she believes rather than making Twist look twisted. Still this an enjoyable mystery with two murders just over a hundred fifty years apart.

A Bat In The Belfry
Sarah Graves
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345534996, $26.00, www.amazon.com

The weather service out of Caribou warns residents of several Maine counties and cities like Eastport to take shelter as a terrible nor'easter is coming. Meanwhile residents also are shutting windows to keep the bitter cold winds outside while everyone with any sense stays inside. Teenage Sam Tiptree has girl troubles between Carol and Maggie while his visiting friend Chip Hahn is outside walking when the decades-silent bell of the All Faith Chapel begins ringing.

The police find the murdered corpse of fourteen year old Karen Hansen in the belfry. When Chip becomes a prime suspect, Sam's mom Jake and her friend Ellie White investigate as the former refuses to believe her houseguest is a murderer. They also team up with ex-Boston cop Lizzie Snow who is in Eastport seeking a girl who may be her niece; while gangbangers leave nerdy David Thompson battered and hospitalized.

This Home Repair Is Homicide amateur sleuth (see Dead Level) is a pleasant cozy. The whodunit is solid with a focus on a real societal issue though lacks any twists while Jake is simply Jake especially when her cubs (includes Chip) are threatened. Though the behavior of the participants in Sam's triangle is distracting as each looks shallow, series fans will enjoy A Bat In The Belfry.

The Flinch Factor
Michael A. Kahn
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781464201424, $24.95, www.amazon.com

In St. Louis, almost four years a widow, Rachel Gold is a single mom raising her son and two stepdaughters. Currently Rachel and her partner Jacki Brand represent clients in two complex legal cases.

Everyone who knew renovator Nick Moran including Rachel is shocked that he overdosed in a pickup truck on Gay Way as most people realized he took drugs and was gay. His sister Susannah Beale visits Rachel without an appointment because she believes the attorney knew her late brother and will help her prove the cops wrong as she insists her sibling was murdered.

Later that same day, Rachel is in Circuit Court of St. Louis County arguing over setting a deposition date in the "Frankenstein" case with attorney Rob Crane in front of the worst judge probably in the state, Flinch. She represents the middle class residents suing to keep their homes while Crane's client developer Mr. Rubenstein is too busy to respond to why he should be allowed to build a gated community at the site of their homes. With legal help from her partner and investigative assistance from Benny Goldberg, Rachel's cases begin to overlap.

The latest Rachel Gold legal thriller (see Trophy Wife and Due Diligence) contains two terrific cases that bring out the tough trial lawyer competing in court in front of the notorious Judge Flinch, a hyperbole of a horrendous judicial who does not belong on the bench. Outside of her all business legal world, Rachel shows her love for her children, other family members and her partner and friends, and even a grieving client. Readers will enjoy this gold mystery.

Capacity for Murder
Bernadette Pajer
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464201288, $24.95

In 1903 in Ocean Springs near Seattle, the Healing Sands Sanitarium has earned an esteemed reputation for restorative cures. Owner Dr. Arnold Hornsby is proud of his facility's safety and curative records; he especially is euphoric about his invention Dr. Hornsby's electrotherapy machine that provides electrotherapeutics to patients.

When Hornsby's son-in-law David Hollister is electrocuted in an electrotherapy machine, he asks the electrical forensic investigator State University Professor Benjamin Bradshaw to investigate the death. Bradshw concludes the machine worked properly but an anomaly means the deceased was murdered. Besides the family and staff, four patients were at the sanitarium at the time of Hollister's death.

The latest Professor Bradshaw early twentieth century investigation (see A Spark of Death and Fatal Induction) is a super mystery in which readers obtain a close look at medical practices in the era. Fast-paced, the whodunit is top rate but it is a look at 1903 medicine (mindful of Dr. McCoy in the hospital in the movie The Voyage Home) that makes for a strong historical detective tale.

Her Boyfriend's Bones
Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464201370, $24.95

Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin and Norwegian cop Thor Ramberg enjoy a romantic interlude on the Greek island of Samos. Thor selected the place and arranged for the cottage they are spending the summer at. However, she is taken aback when he seems excited over the cottage's history. In 1973 Greek actress Marilita Stephan murdered her boyfriend, his mother, and a colonel before the military junta executed her.

Dinah's widowed aunt by marriage Neesha calls her from Atlanta to tell her that her cousin Katherine was arrested for burglary so is sending her child to spend the summer in Greece with her worldly relative.

Meanwhile Thor admits that he is also working undercover for the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service, looking into terrorist arms trafficking. When an Iraqi is murdered nearby and Thor vanishes with his vehicle in a ravine, Dinah sees parallels to the 1973 case with her as the star suspect.

The fourth Dinah Pelerin amateur sleuth (see Bones of Contention, Bet Your Bones, and Bonereapers is an exciting mystery as the heroine works on proving her innocence, solving the disappearance of her lover and looking into the 1973 case. A fabulous subplot also takes a deep look at contemporary troubled corrupt Greece making parallels to the early 1970s. Although there are
too many disruptive (but fascinating) mythological asides, readers will enjoy Pelerin's Aegean Sea adventure.

Medea
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464201455, $24.95

Princess of Colchis, Medea is a priestess of Hecate and guardian of the wood in which hangs the Golden Fleece. She also controls the serpent that violently guards this grove from intruders. Her childhood training was to safeguard at all costs the Golden Fleece that makes her kingdom prosperous.

When the Argo arrives at Colchis, the islanders welcome Captain Jason, his best friend Nauplius and the Argonauts. Jason flirts with Medea who falls in love with him. She switches loyalties and abets Jason's stealing of the Golden Fleece. They sail home to claim his throne. Over the years, Jason abandons his wife who gave up everything for him, and ignores their children.

The latest Delphic Woman ancient historical Novel (see Out of the Black Land) is a powerful rendition of Medea that turns the accepted "mommy dearest" as written by Euripides on its head. The storyline is fast-paced throughout with several unexpected but fabulous twists. However, what makes this entry fresh is the Kerry Greenwood's deep research supporting a different spin than that of the leading playwright of his time; as the reporter in Liberty Valance says: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Stranded
Alex Kava
Doubleday & Company
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9780385535540, $24.95, www.amazon.com

FBI Special Agents Maggie O'Dell and R.J. Tully are tired of the road but stumbled upon the deaths of seasoned travelers Dobson and Lester while working a serial arson case (see Fireproof). They suggested to their supervisor Assistant Director Kunze that an experienced serial killer used someone else's blazes to conceal murder. He agreed with their assertion and assigned the pair to the FBI Serial killer Highway Initiative; formed due to the dire need to profile predators working the vulnerable rest stops.

The clever psychopath, who used arson to hide bodies like that of Dobson, appears to realize the Feds know of his vocation. Unable to resist, the culprit leaves clues for Maggie to find as to the next rest stop. Though frightened of being assaulted again by a prisoner, Maggie's BFF Dr. Gwen Patterson interviews a convict who insists he chatted with someone a year ago over disposing corpses.

Rotating viewpoints, the latest O'Dell FBI police procedural (see Hotwire) is an exciting serial killer thriller that emphasizes how dangerous, especially at night, the Interstate rest stops can be. Although the premise of a killer leaving clues to the cop targeted as the end game has been used too frequently, fans will relish Maggie (and to a lesser degree Tully) playing cat and mouse with a lethal psychopath in an enjoyable above the speed limit storyline.

Death of a Chef
Alexander Campion
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
www.kensingtonbooks.com
9780758268815, $24.00, www.amazon.com

Rumors abound that renowned Chez la Mere Denis chef Jean-Louis Brault was going to be reduced to two-star Michelin status. Thus when his corpse is found with a shotgun inside a pre-WWI Vuitton portmanteau purchased by Cecile at the Paris Flea Market, everyone in the gourmet industry assumes he committed suicide as his ego could not cope with the demotion.

Cecile called her friend Paris Police Judiciaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier to look inside the portmanteau. The cop thinks a homicide occurred and begins an inquiry. A pretty TV talking head implies Le Tellier is protecting food critics like Lucien Folon who unmercifully assaulted Brault in print and the Commissaire's husband Le Monde's Alexandre de Huguelet. Looking forward to shoving the killer's identity down the throat of the inane talking head, Capucine and her team investigate the death of a Chef.

The latest captivating Capucine Culinary Mystery (see Grave Gourmet, Killer Critique and Crime Fraiche) is an enjoyable leisurely-paced police procedural. The storyline deliciously connects the Elysee Palace with haute cuisine as Capucine and Brigadier-Chief Isabelle Lemercier work the case that ends with a twist of justice.

Evening Bags And Executions
Dorothy Howell
Kensington
9780758253347, $23.00

In Holt's Department Store employee Haley Randolph is euphoric after obtaining an events planner job at L.A. Affairs involving a Hollywood charity gala using a Beatles theme. However, her new boss Vanessa Lord wants her to quit, but stubborn Haley refuses to resign though she is under pressure.

Before she can start on the gig, Haley finds the murdered body of the event's baker Lacy Hobbs; commissioned to create a six-foot yellow submarine cake. At the same time charity auction head Sheridan Adams accuses Haley of stealing a valuable collection of Beatles bobbleheads. Deciding the murder of the Lacy Cakes' owner and the theft take precedent over the latest fashionable bag; as Haley knows she would not look good in prison garb, accompanied by the proper attire, she investigates.

The latest Randolph cozy (see Tote Bags and Toe Tags, and Slay Bells and Satchels) is a lighthearted zany amateur sleuth as the queen of handbag divas works the case her way. Fans will enjoy the humorous storyline commencing with Haley stumbling over another corpse.

Avenging Angel
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava
9780758267658, $14.00

In New Orleans, the Angel of Death Marna awakened in fear and pain as the shifter ripped off her wings. She tells the face that stares at her that she will kill him once she recovers; her rage is unbound against the shifters who tore off her wings. Police Detective shifter Tanner Chance knows Marna could kill with a touch, but is unafraid of her as he has faced many monsters in his life.

Two months after their first encounter, he arrests her for multiple brutal murders, but she persuades him she is not a vicious serial killer. They team up seeking the real predator who cleverly frames the wingless Angel of Death and turns panther shifter Tanner into a fallen rogue cop in trouble with NOPD. On the run and simultaneously in pursuit, Tanner and Marna fall in love.

The latest Fallen angel romantic urban fantasy (see Angel of Darkness and Angel in Chains) is a terrific paranormal thriller as Cynthia Eden's supernatural Big Easy seems real. Although the overarching premise is a gender changing of the Angel Betrayed theme, the fabulous protagonists make this an engaging storyline as they go from vulnerable and distrusting to confident and loving. Tanner and fans will sing the Tavares' song Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel" while playing cat and mouse with a diabolical adversary.

Father Knows Death
Jeffrey Allen
Kensington
9780758266910, $7.99

The residents of ultra conservative Rose Petal, Texas remain appalled that Deuce Winters is a soccer dad raising his young daughter Carly while his overdue pregnant wife Julianne is the breadwinner high powered attorney. Like many stay at home moms, Deuce volunteers at Carly's activities. His latest is manning a food stand at the Carriveau County Fair to raise money for Carly's 4H club.

At the fair, Deuce goes to the freezer to grab up bratwursts, only the meat he finds is illegal to grill; as the corpse of George Spellman greets him. The County Sheriff insists the body is on ice and going nowhere so delays the investigation until after the fair ends. Being a part-time private eye working for brilliant detective Victor "little person" Doolittle, Deuces knows a murder investigation cannot wait so he begins an inquiry.

The latest Stay at Home Dad mystery (see Popped Off, Stay at Home Dead, and Father Knows Death) is an amusing Texas cozy as Deuce sets the tone when he muses a corpse has to be a health code violation even in a red meat state. The engaging whodunit is cleverly designed, but it is the jocularity of the cast's reaction as the priority is not the dead human sausage but the potential impact he has on fundraising; everyone knows a corpse tends to deaden money making except at the funeral parlor.

A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die
Edith Maxwell
Kensington
9780758284617, $24.00

In Millsbury, Massachusetts, new farmer Cameron Flaherty fires worker Mike Montgomery for planning to use pesticide, a major taboo amidst organic farming, to rid the asparagus and potato crops of beetles. Not long after she canned Mike, she finds his corpse with her pitchfork buried into his throat.

Police Chief George Frost interrogates her as to where she was, has she been drinking, and how she cut her hand in a hostile tome that makes it clear he believes she is the killer. Even her childhood friend police officer Ruth Dodge appears unfriendly. Her friend and customer Lucinda the Brazilian emigre replaces her as the prime suspect as Mike was a member of the anti-immigration Patriotic League. Heeding the advice of her late Great-Aunt Marie who insisted Cam could do anything, she investigates the homicide with help from the organic farming community and serendipitously Ruthie.

The amateur sleuthing is well done and fun to follow; but it is the deep look at immigration, militias, and the organic and local foods farm industry that makes for a fascinating opening act. Cam is a strong protagonist who keeps the exciting storyline focused as the first Local Foods mystery is an entertaining whodunit.

Benedict Hall
Cate Campbell
Kensington
9780758287595, $15.00

WWI changed society as etiquette rules seem inane when soldiers dealt with mustard gas and suffragettes demand their rights including the vote and Prohibition.

In 1920 Seattle, the wealthy and their servants also feel the winds of change. Affluent Preston Benedict invites his comrade in arms former Wyoming rancher Frank Parrish to dinner at his family's mansion. Frank lost an arm in combat but obtained a job with Boeing in Seattle. Preston's sister Margot and Frank become friends and begin to fall in love as he encourages her to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Before the war Preston was sadistic though servants risked his wrath to protect his kind caring sister, but now he adds a rage and a need at all costs to return to a seemingly dead past when the Benedicts were one of Seattle's blueblood ruling families.

Benedict Hall is at its best when the focus is on the major societal impacts brought forth by WWI; the storyline adds excitement but somewhat disengages when Preston's over the top psychopathic behavior takes center stage as he acts beyond frustrated and opposed to the changes. Still fans will enjoy Cate Campbell's overall entertaining look at the Pacific Northwest just after the "war to end all wars" ended.

Wiggle Room
Darden North
Sartoris Literary Group
www.sartorisliterary.com
MM Book Publicity
9780989318624, $19.95, www.amazon.com

Air Force surgeon Major Brad Cummins nears the end of his four month deployment in Iraq when the American victims of an IED are rushed into emergency care. Also brought in is the wounded insurgent bomber Zarife Amarah. Whereas Marine Lance Corporal Chad Giles dies, Amarah lives.

Feeling guilty over failing to save the American solider, the medical board exonerates Brad while his peers remain hostile. In Jackson, Mississippi, he feels added remorse for enabling Amarah to return to killing Americans. However, Brad is shocked when his brother Brian is murdered. Brad believes he was the target due to his saving the insurgent and failing to save the marine; while his fiancee Leslie thinks he brought home paranoia from his deployment. Meanwhile Amarah has landed in Atlanta.

This is an exciting thriller made fresh by red herrings that take advantage of stereotyping of terrorism. The female medicos (battlefield nurses Elizabeth Cossar and Stacy Lane, and stateside Dr. Diana Bratton) are fabulous characters while the males like Brad and the villain are underdeveloped dolts. Readers will enjoy this twisting Mississippi murder mystery.

The Homecoming
Carsten Stroud
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9780307700964, $25.00, www.amazon.com

The FBI agent demands tower controller John Parkhurst to ground the Lear containing Chinese nationals. However the plane already is in the sky when crows commit suicide destroying the engines. The craft crashes on the fourteenth hole; at the same time a Cessna flown by Morgan Littlebasket is no longer on the screen.

County Sheriff Nick Kavanaugh finds his plate overflowing with the disappearance of his father-in-law, several unexplained deaths and a bank robbery (all occurring in Niceville). Now he adds investigating a plane crash to his immediate to do list. However, his biggest concern is ten year old Rainey Teague ever since he and his wife Kate were named the lad's guardians. Nick fears the tweener will prove as evil as his blood was. Meanwhile, four officers die in an armored car robbery shootout and a mobster and his grandson also die in another police shootout. Nick tries to find the common thread behind all the violence, but his conclusion makes no sense to him; as he begins to consider the local Native Americans are right when they supernatural evil freely flows throughout Niceville.

The second Niceville horror police procedural is an exhilarating thriller that contains several subplots but deftly moves between them making for a smoother tale than its predecessor. The Kavanaugh couple still has too much to deal with, but readers will appreciate their efforts while relishing a second trip to ironically named Niceville; the sink hole of paranormal evil.

Murdock Tackles Taos
Robert J. Ray
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
www.camelpress.com
9781603819251, $16.95, www.amazon.com

On Angel Mountain near Taos, New Mexico, Matt Murdock tackles hiker Helene Steinbeck just before an arrow flies right where she had been standing. She lands on the corpse of a female while he explains two or three hunters want to make her and now him too their trophies. He shoots both of them. As the pair flees, a spotter makes a call.

He explains to her he is a private investigator searching for friends' missing daughter, Barbi Bellini who vanished without a trace three weeks ago from an artists' colony in which all of them insist she was never there. A daughter of an NYPD cop, Helene joins Matt on his mission as they are now prey for hunters who seek out the weak in "The Most Dangerous Game" (Richard Connell); while having affluent connections.

The latest Matt Murdock Mystery (see Murdock for Hire and Bloody Murdock) is an exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the opening shooting sequence to the final confrontation with a vile villain whose amoral behavior is summed up in a shocking coda. With a fast-paced investigation and romance, readers will enjoy the thrilling Murdock Tackles Taos.

Treasure Among The Shadows
Marie Romero Cash
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
www.camelpress.com
9781603819077, $15.95, www.amazon.com

Detective Artie Chacon calls the Cerillos' substation Sheriff Rick Romero that a fortyish female corpse was found near the Ortiz Mine. Rick, forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge and Santa Fe County chief medical examiner Dr. Harry Donlon arrive at the murder scene; a casino card identifies the victim as Amy Griego; who the cops are unaware hitched from the casinos at night to sleep in hotel laundry rooms.

Rick investigates but finds nothing of significance on the Griego case though the victim had an angry former husband. A second killing of Gilda Humphreys leaves behind several people including her spouse and her work associates who will not miss her. Jemimah notices from Gilda's writings that the disliked woman was enjoying sex with several lovers in between her searching for affluent gallery owner Tim McCabe's publicly announced hunt for hidden treasure. Ironically whereas as the first homicide lacked viable suspects, the second is overwhelmed with viable suspects.

The third Jemimah Hodge Murder Mystery (see Deadly Deception and Shadows Among The Ruins) is an exciting police procedural that grips readers from the moment Chacon calls Romero on his day off and never slows down until the climax. The law enforcement team consists of top rate professionals with varying personalities while the Southwest landscape enhances the investigation. Readers will enjoy the terrific Treasure Among The Shadows.

Cradle Lake
Ronald Malfi
Medallion Press, Inc.
100 South River Street, Aurora, IL 60506
www.medallionpress.com
9781605425108, $14.95, www.amazon.com

English college professor Alan Hammerstun inherits a house from his paternal Uncle Phillip; a man he met a few times and a place he visited once thirty years ago. He persuades his wife Heather to move from New York where they lived their entire lives to start fresh in this home in the Smoky Mountains. Depressed Heather agrees to leave the bad memories of two miscarriages and her subsequent suicide attempt behind. Thus they and Jerry Lee the farting dog drive to North Carolina.

Their new neighbors seem young, healthy and friendly, and the air quality perfect. Oriole fanatics especially Hank Gerski befriends him. Alan finds a path with strange stone markers through the forest. That night he dreams the path leads to a lake and he dives into it. When a child is hit by a car, Hank and others carry the injured lad to the nearby lake. The kid heals almost instantly. The neighbors warn him to be careful with the lake; while psychic George YoungCalfRibs tells him the lake can do bad things against those poisoning the land and water. Alan ignores them as he spends all his time there wondering if this water will heal Heather's health issues unaware of his increasing paranoia that the neighbors hold him culpable.

Cradle Lake is an exciting horror tale that feels like a throwback to 1970s books and movies in which Mother Nature revenges the destruction of the environment. Readers will be hooked early on as the atmosphere gets increasingly darker as Alan who holds the storyline focused slowly loses his mind. Although fans will anticipate the climax, Ronald Malfi provides a tense thriller.

Kafira
John O'Neill
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.authorhouse.com
9781481706346, $36.99, www.amazon.com

The Supreme Leader Kim iI Jong claims the moon as an annex of North Korea. To back his claim, the Supreme Leader assigns the nation's leading biomedical researcher Shin Min Shu to develop a deadlier strain of Ebola.

Former Royal Marine Commando Charles Edmonds is the Special Assistant to the Director of NASA. He leads an investigation into a claim by the thirteen year old son of a Connecticut astronomer that he saw a two second flash on the moon. Taking it seriously and finding other supporting evidence, NASA has Edmonds puts together a Luna landing team that includes thirtyish Israeli widow Kafira "Kaffie" Weiss whose beloved husband Ira was killed in conflict with the Palestinians. Recognized as the world's number one expert on Ebola, what Kaffie and others learn on the moon leads her and her CDC Special Pathogens Unit desperately seeking a way to prevent the North Korean enhanced Ebola strain from going pandemic.

This is an exciting thriller that deftly ties a moon landing with biological warfare. The key members of the international cast appear fully developed as for instance Shin Min Shu feels euphoric over her research but remorse over what the world might do to the children of her country and if her leader deploys her pathogen killing the young of other nations. The storyline is extremely fast-paced (too transitionally fast at times) as Kaffie knows time has run out.

The Abomination
Jonathan Holt
Harper
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
www.harpercollins.com
9780062264336, $25.99, www.amazon.com

In Venice, while people enjoy the feast of La Befana, a fisherman finds a body floating near the Santa Maria delle Salute. Carabinieri Detective Katerina Tapo leads her first homicide investigation into the Abomination desecration as the female victim wore a priest's garb and had two bullets in her head.

At the nearby U.S. military Camp Ederle, Second Lieutenant Holly Boland searches for missing documents requested by Barbara Holton under the Freedom of Information Act. Boland's inquiry and that of Tapo intersect at Daniele Barbo's cyber Venice site Carnivia.com. As their superiors warn both women not to stray, the two female investigators team up on the murder and vanished documents.

The Abomination is an exhilarating Venetian investigative thriller starring three diligent individuals and obviously Venice. The entertaining storyline is loaded with several mysteries inside one another like Russian nesting dolls as one is solved only to lead to another even connecting to Croatia. Although none of the steadfast lead triangle is dynamic, readers will enjoy Jonathan Holt's tense tale.

Oh Dear Sylvia
Dawn French
Harper
9780718156060, $24.99

After suffering a traumatic head injury from a fall off a balcony, comatose Silvia Shute is on life support. Once the plug is pulled, she will die. Several people visit Silvia while she lies in a dead state except for the machine.

Her ex-husband Ed sits with her in her hospital bed recalling how Silvia was so full of life and did whatever she wanted. Her older sister Jo wonders whether Silvia will remember what happened once she awakens as no one except God knows, but believes her lifeless sibling will recall Jo never giving up on her. Her Jamaican nurse Winnie washes the comatose patient as she still thinks there is life in Silvia though she expects everyone else to pull the plug and go on with their lives. Tia the housekeeper visits Mrs. Shute updating her on her family. Her partner, the Mighty Cat, is a doctor who insists she is the only one who knows the real Silvia. Finally there is her daughter Cassandra who hesitates seeing her mom who she hates after being tossed out on the street when she was sixteen and pregnant; she wishes her brother the marine was here to hold her.

Oh Dear Silvia is a fascinating 360 degrees character study that rotates perspective between the visitors. Readers obtain a complete picture of Silvia and her impact on others as some of the reminiscence paints her as cruel and uncaring, and other times as a nurturing friend. In other words, Silvia is a complex convoluted human.

Scorpion Deception
Andrew Kaplan
Harper
9780062219657, $9.99

The Gardener approves the Scale's plan to assault the American Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. Scale knows he and his team have nine minutes to take control of the "fortress" starting with killing the Marines and destroying the cameras; downloading the top secret CIA files; and kill everyone inside. He insists on seven minutes.

The media and the public howl for blood while Congress is outraged demanding a counter military strike, but no one knows against who. Desperate not because of revenge, but due to secrets in peril and to shut up Congress, the CIA turns to a former operative, their deadliest, Scorpion. He refuses until he finds out that he is the first name on one of the lists taken from the embassy. Scorpion follows clues that lead him to the equally lethal Scale in Barcelona and to the attention of the Gardener in Tehran.

The third Scorpion espionage thriller (see Scorpion Betrayal) is an exhilarating action-packed over the top of the Alps spy tale. Fast-paced with a superhero vs. supervillain premise, fans will enjoy Scorpion's fight to the death with Scale and his encounter with the Gardener although the plot lacks the anchoring headlines of the Ukrainian elections that brought realism to his super-spy riff in Scorpion Winter.

The Long War
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Harper
9780062067777, $25.99

The Stepping process enabled mankind to cross into a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths. None of these alternate earths contain human life while the farther you journey from the earth the weirder the planets become. Very few people have the ability to Step out without assistance; those like Joshua Valiente and Lobsang who can are in demand as they create the Long Earth.

Over a million steps from the origin Datum, the colony Valhalla has thrived in spite of the demanding control policies of the mother planet. Rage and frustration spread thought this colony as the Valhallans demand freedom. Lobsang pleads with Joshua to prevent the hostilities from going hot as war seems imminent across the Long Earth. Married to Helen for nine years with a son, Joshua prefers to remain home in Hell-Knows-Where, America, but duty calls especially with the trolls turning mute.

The sequel to the Long Earth is a fascinating science fiction tale that uses the dispute between Colonial America and Mother England in the eighteenth century as the basis for a parallel revolution. The parallel conflict to the American Revolution is clever and as with the first thriller the stepping premise is intriguing. However the anecdotal asides like taking a wrong step are more interesting than the main hostilities storyline.

Something Wicked
Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
www.kensingtonbooks.com
9781420118483, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Tillamook County Sheriff Department Detective Savannah Dunbar remains on the job though eight months pregnant as a surrogate mother for her sister Kristina and brother-in-law Hale St. Cloud. Savvy plans to take maternity leave shortly.

Fred Clausen and Savannah investigate a report of squatters residing at Bancroft Bluff, better known locally as Bankrupt Bluff since the houses began to fall into the Pacific; a place where the unsolved Donatella homicides occurred. The Donatella couple had been business partners in the Bancroft disaster with Hale and his family; the only lead being the red painted message "blood money." A disheveled man Mickey races out of the building quoting the Bible and believing Savvy is the Mother Mary. At the station, Catherine Rutledge, the mistress of The "Colony" of female psychics residing at Siren Song in Deception Bay, asks Savvy to meet with her while Kristina has doubts that Hale wants the child. Meanwhile over the next few weeks, a serial killer targets Savvy and her unborn.

The latest Wicked Colony thriller (see Wicked Lies) is an exciting action-packed police procedural. The villain Charlie is incredibly wicked and in some ways steals the show from the psychics and the cops. Although Savvy is too strong as her pregnancy that is about to occur any day never slows her down (I averaged a pit stop per page), readers will anticipate her confrontation with Charlie.

Seducing the Highlander
Michele Sinclair
Zebra
9781420126518, $7.99

In 1316 at Caereoch Castle, the laird's married daughter Raelynd declares that the last man and woman standing in the dance contest must kiss. The game is rigged by Raelynd so that her twin sister Meriel and her husband Creven's twin Craig are the ones kissing as she believes they are in love with one another but don't know it. Best friends since their respective twins married, Meriel and Craig kiss. To their amazement they feel passion but each denies it afterward. Both fear losing their camaraderie so they talk in private. Craig declares no more kissing while Meriel feels their relationship is shattered as they knew it. She is hurt because she feels he is not honest about his feelings.

Meriel travels to the estate of Craig's older brother Conor. Craig's friend Hamish suggests to Meriel they pretend to be falling in love so as to make Craig and his beloved Wyendo jealous. Craig fears Meriel is falling in love with Hamish. Craig and Meriel kiss and discuss their feelings as each fear they lost their best friend to love. They marry but living together proves terrible as domestically they are opposites.

This McTiernay medieval Highlander romance (see Tempting the Highlander for the other twins' tale) is a delightful family affair. The romance is built on the refreshing premise of a lead couple becoming BFFs because their respective twins marry but one kiss changes their dynamics. Although the after the marriage final quarter of the otherwise engaging storyline feels like well-written amusing padding, readers will enjoy this historical.

Darkness Avenged
Alexandra Ivy
Zebra
9781420111385, $7.99

"Darkness Avenged." At the Viper's Vampire Club south of Chicago the paranormal celebrates the defeat of the Dark Lord. Santiago the vampire like others of his species is jubilant that the evil deity was vanquished as destroying a god is not an everyday happening. However, he also rages about his beloved Nefri returning beyond the Veil. Sally the witch gives a dagger to Styx the King of the Vampires that belongs to the traitor Gaius, who did not perish when his boss did. Styx orders Santiago to assassinate his sire who has deployed a vicious plague on the mortals. At the same time the Oracles between St. Louis and Chicago assign Nefri to end the reign of terror an escaped ancient malevolence teaming with Gaius released. Nefri and Santiago join together on their quests.

"Levet." As a child, Levet's family rejected him because of his short stature. His powerful mother was so humiliated by her offspring, she tried to kill him. Now, the only gargoyle hero in the defeat of the Dark Lord, Levet returns to Paris to confront the family that rejected him and gain entrance to the Gargoyle Guild with his name on the Wall of Memories. His only allies are Valla the nymph and Elijah the vampire chief as none of his species would defy his mother.

Darkness Avenged is an entertaining Guardians of Eternity paranormal romance (see Fear the Darkness and Bound by Darkness) that fans will enjoy although the confrontation pales as the villains are not the Dark Lord (being the act to follow the Beatles on stage). Still this is an enjoyable tale that ties up one loose romance and the Levet bonus short novella is an interesting family affair.

Michael's Angel
Karen Wiesner
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/karenwiesner
9781300028888, $14.50, www.amazon.com

Michael Fremont was a small child when his mother, who made it clear she never wanted him, committed suicide. Over the next decade he bounced around the foster family program as no one wanted him. The last few years he stayed with the Stern family in North Chicago while doing the blackmailing bidding of his foster sister Eliza. However, in two weeks he will leave the system and take his vulnerable fearful BFF LeeAnn Wagner with him. Her mother, accompanied by LeeAnn, spent a lifetime running from her raging husband Samson Oligee who wanted his cheating wife and someone else's child dead; he is dead so Leeann is free. Meanwhile, feeling unworthy of LeeAnn, Michael panicked when his desire for her seemed out of control. After insuring her safety from her dad, Michael enlisted in the Marines.

After his four year military service is over, Michael returns home a civilian needing to learn how his LeeAnn is. In Peaceful, Wisconsin, Michael finds a much stronger LeeAnn who needed their time apart to blossom. Already in love with each other and both finding solace with the Lord, he prays she gives him a second chance and she prays he takes a second chance. In the darkness looking into Eden, someone else covets a second chance at LeeAnn and if necessary Michael.

The second Friendship Heirloom inspirational romantic suspense (see Clumsy Girl's Guide To Falling In Love) is an engaging thriller starring two vulnerable lost souls finding each other twice when they needed someone to care about them and coming to God when they needed solace. His angel and her hero come together in a strong tale as Karen "the writing wizard" Wiesner provides another entertaining Peaceful entry.

Unspeakable
Kevin O'Brien
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
www.kensingtonbooks.com
9780786031580, $9.99, www.amazon.com

In Seattle, hypnosis therapist Olivia Barker finds it ironic that her heal thyself mantra she offers her patients should be adopted by her as she has some of their worse addictions like smoking. Twentyish Russ Leander arrives at her office for her hypnotic treatment. However, his real name is Colin Cox and he lied about his age and his reason for visiting her.

Olivia places Russ under only to have him claim he is a killing psychopath Wade. She brings him back and also learns teenage Collin made a lot of money as a child star but his mom spent it all leaving him a victim at school and supermarket appearances for chump change. The therapist wonders how Collin knows so much about several homicides making her ponder whether he suffers multiple personality disorder with one of his individuals being a long time serial killer. In fear she considers breaking her silence before she becomes a victim vs. whether staying mute keeps her safe.

Unspeakable is a taut medical thriller starring a frightened beleaguered therapist and her patient who appears to have several personalities including a homicidal lunatic. Readers will relish Kevin O'Brien's tense twisting tale that grips the audience throughout.

The Janus Reprisal
Jamie Freveletti
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017
www.hachettebookgroup.com
9780446539852, $8.00, www.amazon.com

United States Army Medical research Institute for Infectious Diseases Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith attends the World Health organization's conference on infectious diseases in their world nations in the Hague. A terrorist with a gun enters his hotel room while he is sleeping, but as he escapes he notices other assailants with weapons in the hallway. Smith searches the dead terrorist who attacked him only to find three photos: retired M16 agent Peter Howell, an unknown woman and himself. His boss at top secret Covert-One Fred Klein calls too late to warn him as terrorists executed most occupants and stole biological agents from the safe. Smith must retrieve the stolen material before they are used in a mass murder attack.

At the same time as the attack, bombs explode throughout the city and Pakistani Oman "Butcher" Dattar escapes from incarceration while standing trial at the International Criminal Court. However, the Butcher has immediate money issues as he owes payment to the team that attacked the WHO conference attendees and diplomats. However that is an inconvenience as the Butcher plots to use his new cache to destroy the West.

The latest Covert-One save the world thriller (see The Ares Decision, The Arctic Event and The Cassandra Compact) is an action-packed over the top of the Vaalserberg tale. Readers will easily accept the terrific opening hotel assault (think Mumbai) but wonder why biological material was not stored in top security confinement. Although the antagonistic lead couple is both one dimensional different sides of the same coin, fans will anticipate their confrontation as The Janus Reprisal is a gripping story.

It Had To Be You
Jill Shalvis
Grand Central
9781455521128, $8.00

In Lucky Harbor, Washington Ali Winters finds out her boyfriend Teddy is a serial cheater who abandoned her by text in the house he rented without telling her his lease ran out. The heartbroken florist may lose her job at Lucky Harbor Flowers as she is the prime suspect of stealing money from the town's new community center construction fund since the cash was last seen in Teddy's office.

San Francisco Police Detective Luke Hanover comes home to spend needed R&R at the house he recently inherited after a case turned homicidally ugly. When he arrives at his house in Lucky Harbor, he sees a beautiful thief in his kitchen while Ali thinks the hunk is a burglar. As they clarify who they are, neither wants the complication of the other but the attraction is powerful. Though Luke vowed not to investigate, he soon makes inquiries into the missing money.

The latest enjoyable visit to Lucky Harbor (see At Last, and Forever And A Day) is a fun tale with a mystery enhancing the romance. The lead couple is a nice pairing though Ali mends her broken heart and gets over her betrayal too fast. Still series fans will relish this humorous entry as the cop and the florist find their luck changed when they meet in Lucky Harbor.

Cobra Slave
Timothy Zahn
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
www.baen.com
9781451638998, $15.00, www.amazon.com

On Aventine, following the Troft War, Nissa Gendreves, second in command to Governor-General Chintawa, accuses the extended Moreau-Broom family with sedition for providing ISIS technology to their allies the Qasaman Empire. Cobra Lorne Broom provides testimony explaining what happened to Chintawa, Commodore Santores head of a fleet of visiting Dominion of Man warships, DOM Marine Colonel Reivaro and Dorian warship Captain Barrington Jame Moreau.

After completing his sworn statement and answering questions, some very hostile, Lorne, his Uncle Corwin and other family members agree that the DOM seem more interested in the Qasama Empire than what happened during the recent war and control of the five Cobra worlds. Corwin explains he is erasing Qasama information. However, Lorne's sister Jody knows the location of the Qasama and needs to leave Aventine ASAP. She is too late as DOM Marines abduct her and take her recorder that contains Qasama data. At the same time, their oldest sibling Merrick is undercover trying to destroy a Troft life and death gaming human enslavement ring.

The first Cobra Rebellion entry is an engaging military science fiction thriller as the DOM fleets make first contact in decades with the objectives to annex the Cobra worlds and look into the Qasama. The freedom fighting is fast-paced excitement on land and in space that series fans expect from Timothy Zahn though the enemy leaders are too pretentious in their superiority belief; ignoring the evidence by refusing to accept that century old technology defeated the Troft.

Eight Million Gods
Wen Spencer
Baen
9781451638981, $25.00

In New York City, Nikki Delany has two obsessions. First she needs to escape from her control freak mom the US Senator who tries to have her committed as she believes her daughter is a psychotic, dangerous to herself. Second she compulsively needs to write on any surface. Her BFF since childhood, Miriam thinks her college roommate is eccentric but their other roommates Yip and Yap the dogs accept her as a boring member of the family. Thanks to the canines. Nikki escapes her mother's latest effort to lock her away.

Two months after her latest mommy dearest episode, Nikki joins Miriam in Osaka. While eating out, she tells Miriam about the death of a character in her novel when two cops arrest her as she described the murder of an American with a blender. Nikki has an alibi but Miriam reported the incident to the consulate so mother should arrive soonest. As she searches for the truth of how someone stole her homicidal idea, Nikki realizes that her writings foretell the future. Also Nikki ponders if she is insane as she has an invisible companion claiming to be the spirit of a samurai living in a stolen katana taken from a temple; with her loyal sidekick she wonders to whom of the Eight Million Gods the spirit worships. Matters turn crazier when she meets Leo Watanabe of Shiva.

The key to this strong urban fantasy is whether mom's assertion her daughter is insane or whether the protagonist actually writes about murders before they happen and runs into all sorts of paranormal phenomena. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will enjoy Wen Spencer's super thriller as the heroine keeps the storyline focused while the audience wonder psychotic or paranormal.

The Man-Kzin Wars
Larry Niven, Poul Anderson and Dean Ing
Baen
9781451639001, $15.00

"The Warriors" by Larry Niven. The Golden Age's three centuries of prosperity and peace come to an end when humanity and kzinti meet for the first time as the former are tranquil and the latter belligerent. Shockingly the humans survive.

"Iron" by Poul Anderson. In an undeveloped sector, the humans and the kzin learn of a ship belonging to neither side that allegedly has ancient technology that would give the side that possesses the vessel the edge in the hostilities between the races. Both sides send a retrieval force to Tiamet.

"Cathouse" by Dean Ing. The human Locklear finds himself on a strange planet struggling to survive while the kzin hunt him. When he stumbles into creatures locked in suspended animation, he takes a chance by awakening one. Kit is a female kzin, but not the usual obedient breeding cattle as she lived millenniums before the change.

This is a reprint celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first The Man-Kzin Wars science fiction thriller. Although showing some aging and with flaws (Lloyds of London would have made the kzin overwhelmingly favorites), each tale is fun but very different as Larry Niven introduces the first encounter; Poul Anderson provides a synopsis of Known Space; and Dean Ing writes about a rare sentient female kzin.

Shadow People
James Swain
Tor
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.tor-forge.com
9780765329950, $25.99, www.amazon.com

New York City-based Peter Warlock the renowned stage magician is also a real warlock who conceals his psychic skills from the public. He uses his abilities to see into the future in attempts to prevent horrific crimes from occurring.

During a seance he hosts, Shadow People abduct Peter in order for him to deal with Dr. Death, who kills Good Samaritan females. He arrives in the future just as Dr. Death is about to murder his next victim. Returning to the present but shook up by his encounter, Peter concludes that the Shadow People and the serial killer are connected and that the murderer belongs to the Order of Astrum evil psychics who made Peter an orphan years ago when they butchered his parents. With help from his assistant Liza and FBI Agent Garrison, Peter must find the killer before he murders again but is distracted by Rachel the mage.

The second Peter Warlock Manhattan urban fantasy (see Dark Magic) is an engaging paranormal thriller starring an intriguing hero who is not an angel; yet bordering on PTSD, he diligently seeks the serial killer before good people die. The villains are two dimensional or evanescent as they feel underdeveloped, but readers still will enjoy Warlock's Manhattan (and Pelham) magical mystery tour.

Spree
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
PO Box 479, Lincoln City, OR 97367
www.wmgpublishing.com
9780615802602, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Moira Clarkson drives through the Nevada desert heading to Hawthorne, Nevada in a vehicle that should have been scrapped two years ago. She is accompanied by little Kasey who holds on to her Barbie doll as her only friend in the world. Thirsty, hungry and tired, Moira finds the isolated town disconcerting with bombshells as lawn ornaments, but having lived near Fort McCoy she understands the influence of Hawthorne Army depot and Ammunition Dump though the town is nothing like Sparta, Wisconsin or other military locations.

She reaches her destination, the home of her former Wisconsin neighbor Gary Storvick. He initially does not recognize her, knows the kid is not his and wants her to leave before his wife Jenny comes home to ask questions. However, he soon realizes she is the victim girl he felt sorry for when he lived near Fort McCoy, but still wants her gone ASAP so he plans to give her some money. However, she has a goal that involves allegedly stolen money from the military and the trail leads to Gary.

Spree is an exciting crime thriller that purposely starts slowly, but accelerates as readers realize talented Kristine Kathryn Rusch sets us up with a super spin. Moira is a terrific protagonist who makes Spree a winner as everyone who meets her concludes she is a victim and needs to help her.

More Bitter Than Death
Camilla Grebe & Asa Traff
Paul Norlen (translator)
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781451654608, $16.00, www.amazon.com

In the Stockholm suburb of Gustavsberg, a man breaks into a home in which five-years old Tilda is coloring under the table. He batters Tilda's mother and drags her body out of kitchen while a trail of blood follows them. She is witness to her mom's murder, but she never saw the killer except from far below in her special coloring place.

Two months earlier in Stockholm, as a favor to their college mentor and friend Vijay, psychologists Siri Bergman and Aina Davidson host a support group for abused woman. Kattis tells the participants of her abusive relationship with Henrik. Soon afterward he dumps her for Susanne. Kattis believes the violent Henrik killed his latest lover. Bergman suspects Henrik too until another group attendee Malin provides reasons why she could be the killer.

The second Siri Bergman psychological suspense (see Some Kind of Peace) is an entertaining dark Swedish thriller starring a psychologist who hears the first hand accounts of the brutal side of love through her patients. The profound look into women's issues should be required reading by politicians, but the depth also decelerates the intriguing intertwining mystery.

The Well
Stephanie Landsem
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781451688856, $14.99, www.amazon.com

In Sychar, teenage Mara keeps her Samaritan family together as her mother Nava is an emotional cripple and her younger brother Asherand is a physical cripple. The villagers treat the trio as pariahs mostly because of Nava's transgressions including multiple husbands and lovers. Alexandros the pagan visits at times to spend the night with Nava. These escapades frightens Mara as she knows if their neighbors learn of Nava's nocturnal activities, they will stone her and run her children out of town.

After getting into trouble with the Romans at home in Caesarea, Shem's parents exile him to live with his grandparents in Sychar. In the village he rescues Mara from three bullies. Meanwhile at the Well, Nava meets Jesus who knows of her sordid past, but instead of judging her as a sinner he welcomes her. Nava changes, but the villagers still treat her with contempt and stone her for her sins. Mara, accompanied by Shem, seeks Jesus, who already left Sychar, in hope her can perform a miracle and save her dying mother.

This is a wonderful inspiring rendition of Jesus forgiving the woman at the Well if she repents as God forgives our sins. Mara holds the storyline together being a victim of her mother's sins she must avoid confrontation and scandal though Shem is a temptation as she does her best to care for her brother and her mom. Readers will appreciate Stephanie Landsem's version of Jesus and the lowest class woman at the Well.

Fear Has A Name
Creston Mapes
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9780781408165, $14.95, www.amazon.com

The man bangs constantly at the door and screams at the frightened occupants to open up. Inside Pamela Crittenden warns him she will call the cops while taking her daughters, seven years old Rebecca and five years old Faye, and fleeing the house as the man breaks glass and opens the bolt. The three frightened females rush into the home of neighbor Tommy Sweeny. Tommy calls Pamela's husband Jack a reporter at the Trenton City Dispatch with what happened.

Trenton City Dispatch Editor Cecil Barton assigns his top reporter Jack Crittenden to look into the disappearance of Methodist Pastor Dr. Richard Billings. However, just after Jack reads an article in Faith Line about Dr. Billings, Tommy calls him with what happened to his family and that the big man stayed inside for ten minutes but stole only jewelry. Jack feels violated while traumatized Pamela wonders how this could happen in a nice neighborhood like theirs in Trenton City, Ohio. Trying to pretend nothing happened but with his soul filled with anger and fear, Jack works on his journalist assignment; Pamela thanks God for saving them though upset that God placed her daughters in such dire straits; and the girls suffer nightmares.

The two rotating subplots are well written, but it is the Crittenden family trauma that grips the reader in this exhilarating Christian suspense thriller. Action-packed from the opening Crittenden Home Invasion and with a super cast, readers will appreciate Creston Mapes' taut tale as the Lord works in mysterious ways especially when it comes to salvation.

Blowing on Dandelions
Miralee Ferrell
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9780781408080, $14.95, www.amazon.com

In 1880 Baker City, Oregon Widow Katherine Galloway raises her two young daughters (five years old Amanda and almost thirteen years old Lucy) as a single mom and runs a boardinghouse. Her life is hard but she knows it will soon turn ugly as her martinet opinionated mom is coming. She hopes for a short visit though she fears her mom is moving in with them as her companion Katherine's unmarried older sister June died two weeks ago.

To Katherine's chagrin, Lucy spends time with almost fifteen year old Zachary Jacobs. As her unbearable mom Mrs. Cooper arrives criticizing her daughter and grandchildren as unworthy of June, Katherine struggles to honor thy mother. When she and Zachary's widower dad Micah meet, they are attracted to each other. Neither wants a spouse, as he riles against God over taking his wife away and she has too much on her family plate; yet each finds a companion to tell their woes to.

This is an entertaining inspirational historical romance due to a strong cast to include the two families and the townsfolk as it takes parents with a strong community support to raise a child. Mrs. Cooper steals the show with her vitriolic personality that would challenge Job's beliefs. Although the ending is too sweet, readers will relish Blowing on Dandelions as Katherine must find balance between adhering to the Ten Commandments and protecting her young ones from her nasty mother's tongue lashing.

An Open Heart
Harry Kraus
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9780781405355, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Missionaries' son Jace Rawlings grew up in Kijabe, Kenya. At the first chance to flee the continent and his faith, he left Africa becoming a heart surgeon in the States. However, a scandal and his dead twin sister sent him home to open up a cardiac clinic while leaving his estranged wife Heather behind.

While driving, Jace runs over a goat. TIA (this is Africa). A boy asks for ten thousand shillings for killing his goat and a cop demands a two thousand shilling bribe. He refuses both and ends up as the only white person in jail. At the same time Jace is incarcerated, a parliamentary minister in Nairobi contacts Mzee Simeon Okayo the witch doctor in Kisii to perform a "Be Free" spell with a photo in the Standard of Dr. Jace Rawlins. Not long after the incantation, Jace is freed when miraculously the goat recovers. Returning to his clinic, Jace's patients come out of anesthesia tell him that his soul is in peril from an evil. He begins to believe his terrible nightmares are a warning; his soul's salvation can only come from one place but he also faces a lethal mundane threat too.

An Open Heart is an exhilarating thriller that works on the spiritual and worldly planes. The protagonist is a super lead as he struggles with his return to TIA while fighting to save his soul. Although the villains on two continents never quite gel, the insight into contemporary witchcraft (Dr. Okayo advertises herbal remedies for AIDs) and Christianity in modern day Africa make for a fabulous tale summed up by "Kenya (or any place) can be a scary place, if you don't know the savior."

Pennsylvania Patchwork
Kate Lloyd
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9780781408738, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Thirtyish Holly Fisher accompanied her mother Esther when the latter left Seattle to return to her family home in Lancaster County (see leaving Lancaster). Holly is welcomed by all her Pennsylvania relatives especially her Old Order Amish maternal grandma Mommy Anna and considers joining her church. She also has fallen in love with Mennonite Zach Fleming, a local veterinarian. They plan to marry soon.

Esther and Mommy Anna fear Holly needs more time to consider converting from Englisher to Amish as she wants, and rushing into marriage too soon after meeting Zach. Holly meets neighbor Nathaniel King's younger bruder Armin just returned home from Upstate New York who admits he had wavered about joining the church; he mentions Zach's lost love has come home. While Nathanial and Esther are attracted to one another, Larry the Englisher arrives interested in a second chance with Holly.

The second Legacy of Lancaster Amish family drama is an engaging tale that rotates perspective between the three generations of women. Though the storyline lacks the freshness of Leaving Lancaster and the suitors not as developed as the female trio, readers will root for the likable full blooded women to obtain what their respective heart's desire.

Sisters of Mercy Flat
Lori Copeland
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
www.harvesthousepublishers.com
9780736930222, $12.99, www.amazon.com

In 1864 Texas, the three McDougal sisters (Anne-Marie, Amelia, and Abigail) rationalize their conning men out of their money by giving half of their illegal earnings to the mission orphanage where they grew up. However, their latest swindle near Nacogdoches failed when Randy McQuade saw through their nun disguises. They head to jail in a wagon when Comanche attack killing the driver whiles their coach careens down a cliff into a ravine.

Hershall Digman, Morgan Kane and a Crow arrive just before the six Comanche come to rescue the nuns. Separately Hershall leaves with Abigail; Morgan with Amelia; and the Crow with Anne-Marie who shouts to her siblings Church Rock.

Sick of dandy Digman who refuses to take her to Mercy Flats as he insists on going to Shreveport, Abigail steals his horse only to find he carried top secret documents in his saddlebag. Putting aside his bowler, irate Confederate Captain Barrett Drake chases after the thief who stole his papers that could save lives. When she catches up to him, they agree to team up completing his mission. As they fall in love while on the road, neither trusts the other or the Lord.

This reprint of the first McDougal sisters Civil War romance (see Promise Me Today) is an entertaining historical starring a courageous female and a disguised Bundy traveling shoe salesman. Filled with humor and a renewal of faith, fans will enjoy this lighthearted tale as Abigail's amusing antics turns upside down Drake's life.

Pieces of the Heart
Bonnie Calhoun
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
www.abingdonpress.com
9781426752728, $12.99, www.amazon.com

In 1938 Cordelia Grace and Bernard Howard met when both were young as he interceded when the five Wilson bullies attacked her. He was her hero and she planned to one day marry her knight in shining armor. In 1942, about to turn eighteen years old Bernard joins the army after he confronted his abusive father for hitting his mother. He promises Cordelia they will marry when he comes home.

She begins to construct the Pine Cone quilt that she plans for their marriage bed. For the next three years her work on the quilt kept her dreams alive that once he returns they will live a fairy tale forever life together. At the same having come from an integrated community, Bernard struggles with the segregated military. When Bernard comes home, he does not seem like the amiable caring man Cordelia loved before he left for war. Instead over the next few years he struggles with battle fatigue while she struggles to be there for him like he was for her when they first met.

The ninth Quilts of Love inspirational (see A Healing Heart by S. Dionne Moore and Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane) is an enjoyable WWII drama that focuses on the impacts of war and racism on a loving couple. The storyline insightfully looks at the lives of Bernard and Cordelia; starting with the racism she receives for being a lighter skinned Black from darker skinned Blacks and what he dealt with in an under-equipped colored only unit risking their lives. Although the coupling of the protagonists never comes together (except early and late), readers will enjoy this tale as love seems not enough.

Smoking Hot
Karen Kelley
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
www.sourcebooks.com
9781402263927, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Raine McCandless left the life of a cop on dangerous patrol in a bad neighborhood of Fort Worth to come home to comatose Randolph, Texas as a Sheriff's Deputy because her Grandpa needed her. After completing the night shift, Raine comes home only to find a Smoking Hot stranger inside waiting for her.

Dillon Taylor claims he is an immortal nephilim hybrid angel-man. He has come to prevent Raine from dying in a robbery that turns ugly. When the bank robbery occurs, her boss suspects Raine and her Grandpa committed the crime. Dillon must find a way to keep the purebred human, who fans the flames of heat inside him, out of prison. Raine realizes she must focus on the investigation but she knows "where there's heat" there's distracting desire.

Smoking Hot is a heated romantic urban fantasy starring two full blooded protagonists and a strong secondary cast. The mystery is clever with fabulous twists and red herrings that will have readers and the heroine wondering who robbed the bank while the romance seemingly has no future. Karen Kelley provides a wonderful tale.

A Captain and a Corset
Mary Wine
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
www.sourcebooks.com
9781402264832, $6.99, www.amazon.com

In 1843 London, Sophia Stevenson knows she will never go back to her rigid frivolous Victorian life before the Root Ball changed her. Now inside the Illuminist's Solitary Chamber she is the rarest of the rare a Navigator in training to guide ships.

Her instructor Captain Bion Donkova is stern and demanding, which angers and frustrates Sophia who struggles to adjust to her new lifestyle though she respects the Illuminist's goal to make the world a better place for all. He thinks she is too frivolous and troublesome as she does not appreciate what she possesses. However, each conceals their attraction from one another. One of the unfriendly groups abducts Sophia in order to use her abilities to further their agenda to grab power. Wishing his beloved student was more biddable and adhered to the rules, a worried Bion pursues the kidnappers to rescue the woman he loves.

The second Illuminist steampunk romantic Victorian thriller (see A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious) is a fast-paced action-packed tale that never slows down from the moment Sophia is snatched. The villains are top of the line and in many ways steal the show (along with the wonderful Wine world) from the protagonists. Although the romance feels rushed, fans will enjoy the thrilling A Captain and A Corset.

The Magic of "I Do"
Tammy Falkner
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
www.sourcebooks.com
9781402268151, $6.99, www.amazon.com

In 1817 with magic banned in the land of Fae, fairie Claire Thorne returns to the human world where she recently helped her sister Sophia on her mission (see A Lady and Her Magic) but lost her fairy dust. She ends up in the one place she prefers to avoid, the room of hedonistic Lord "Finn" Phineas Tremble who possesses her shimmer in a vial.

Over her objection, Finn declares himself Claire's protector though she wants nothing to do with a womanizing gambling cad and he believes her to be more an uptight harpy than a fairie. When Claire receives her mission to catch a killer, Finn demands in on her dangerous quest as he has fallen in love with the irritating defrocked fae.

The latest Thorne regency romantic fantasy is an engaging tale as the lead characters amusingly fuss and fight their way to love. Their jocular gender war and her perilous mission make for a fine thriller though Finn is to stereotypical of a reformed Regency rake.

Steadfast
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.dawbooks.com
9780756408015, $25.95, www.amazon.com

After the deaths of her parents, grieving Katie the acrobat felt paralyzed. Andy Ball, the Ball Circus owner where the Langford trio worked, told her to marry a strong man. So Katie married the strongman Dick. However, over the next few months he abused his wife, who asked Andy for help. He advised her to give her mate better sex. Katie fled and fortunately was taken in by the small family Traveler troupe as she expected Dick will pursue her in a rage.

Currently Katie is the performing assistant to top level illusionist Lionel Hawkins. She realizes her boss is not just a stage illusionist though he conceals his real magic of an Elemental Magician who deploys Air Elementals. Likewise Lionel and his associate Jack the doorman conclude she is unaware that she is a Fire Magician even as Dick is coming to collect his wife.

The latest Elemental Masters alternative Edwardian romantic fantasy is an entertaining adult fairy tale though the Elementals act out of character (rarely chatting). The villain is not one of the stronger (pun intended) malevolent ones, but fans will root for the heroine to find her groove and no longer Running Scared confront her brute of a husband.

The Seven-Petaled Shield
Deborah J. Ross
Daw
9780756406219, $7.99

The powerful Gelon army has Meklavar under siege. Severely wounded King Maharrad understands the invaders King Ar Cinnath Gelon will not negotiate as he needs the Meklavar monarch's corpse to frighten the other small kingdoms into surrender. Maharrad tells his wife Queen Tsorreh she is the guardian who must flee with their fourteen year old son Zevaron and protect the te-Ketav heart stone of the legendary The Seven-Petaled Shield that must never fall into the hands of their adversary.

The city is overrun and her husband dead amidst the slaughter. The heir Prince Shorren tries to kill the Ar-King son in a suicide rush. As Shorren dies, Tsorreh and Zevaron flee with the te-Ketav praying they reach her home kingdom. However, the fall of Meklavar releases the Fire and Ice chaos that ancient King Khored and his six siblings defeated so many eons ago when they deployed the Seven-Petaled Shield.

The first tale of a new fantasy, the Seven-Petaled Shield is an enjoyable tale from the opening fall of the city though the adventures of the mother and son who are separated during their journey. Readers will appreciate this entertaining opening gamut as a critical inventive spin brings an exciting uniqueness to the good and evil quest theme.

Choke Point
Ridley Pearson
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780399158841, $26.95, www.amazon.com

Journalist Sonia Pangarkar writes a story on the Amsterdam "knot shops" that employ kidnapped underage girls as its enslaved labor pool as they need the tiny fingers as knitters. Soon afterward, her source a low level bureaucrat is killed in a car bombing. Philanthropist Graham Winston reads the article and hires the Rutherford Risk private security company to shut down an illegal Amsterdam imitation Oriental rug factory and other Knot Shops that use abducted young females as their workforce.

Operations Chief David Dulwich assigns field agent John Knox and computer expert Grace Chu to dismantle the factory. In Amsterdam, the two Risk operatives find no support as the neighborhoods welcome the devious mob who has provided gifts that has gained them the support of even the girls' families and the cops. The pair struggles to identify the leaders so Knox tries to hook up with Sonia who distrusts him while she works a personal agenda and Chu looks into Middle Easterner hate crime victim Fahiz.

The sequel to the exciting The Risk Agent is a powerful thriller with a deep look at a real international social issue. Whereas the audience knows who the good guys are, the villains are shadowy as they have protection from corrupt officials and the victims' families. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate Ridley Pearson's action-packed tale.

It Happens In The Dark
Carol O'Connell
Putnam
9780399165399, $26.95

Peter Beck missed opening night of his Broadway play The Brass Bed. He arrives alone on the second evening somewhat drunk and angry at those involved in his production as he sits in his reserved seat. A very short blackout occurs, but when the lights go back on, the woman sitting near Peter screams as he dies in front of her. On stage, an actor comments "... Not again" as someone died on opening night.

New York Special Crimes Unit Detectives Mallory and Riker lead the investigation into the two suspicious deaths. Ironically, the production is based on the cold blooded massacre of a Nebraskan family. A ghostwriter redoing Beck's dialogue leaves Mallory with taunting messages on a blackboard in the back area of the theater as Riker comments about this being a strange way of dating someone. As she works the case applying her high standard of diligence and deploying devious manipulations, the taunts continue as the anonymous author seems to have added Mallory to the cast; while the cop brings in some Cornhusker help.

The latest Mallory police procedural (see The Chalk Girl) is a great dark whodunit. The superb storyline primarily focuses on the investigation, but contains short interludes involving dying nonagenarian Charles that shows the heroine has a heart that she definitely does not wear on her sleeve. Action-packed series fans will enjoy Mallory ripping skin from peers and suspects as she expects no interference from the brass and seeks clues from suspects.

Stoker's Manuscript
Royce Prouty
Putnam
9780399158551, $26.95

In Chicago, an anonymous customer hires rare book dealer Romanian-American Joseph Barkeley to travel to London to authenticate and if so bid on the alleged original Dracula manuscript and related Stoker notes that are going on the auction block at Christie's. A recluse who never got over his childhood in Romania so that he wanted nothing to do with the old country; he knows he and his brother Bernhard were fortunate to come to America to live in an orphanage run by nuns.

Now if the work proves genuine and he wins the bid, Joseph will be coming home to deliver the prize to his Romanian customer. Joseph learns that Stoker planned on including a prologue and an epilogue, but never did and wonders why. He will learn the truth about Stoker, Dracula and his own ancestry when he arrives at Bran Castle in Transylvania with no hope of ever leaving.

This is a super contemporary horror thriller that uses major events of the 1890s to anchor the "parallel" present day storyline. Action-packed from the moment the protagonist arrives in Transylvania, readers will appreciate this modern day conflict between a human and his host as each antagonist finds their true respective inheritance.

Fade To Black
Jeffrey Wilson
JournalStone
www.JournalStone.com
9781936564859, $15.00, www.amazon.com

In Fallujah twenty-six years old U.S. Marine Sergeant Casey Stillman knows he must remain icy calm so his younger men don't panic while trapped in a lethal shootout with insurgents willing to die to kill the Americans. He fears he will never see his baby Claire or his wife Pam again, but must get them out of his head so he remains focused on him and his fellow marines surviving.

Jack screams that he has been shot. His wife Pam wakes him from a nightmare that seems so real he is bleeding. Shocked by how vivid his dream was, Jack the science teacher thought he was in combat as a marine trapped by Iraqi insurgents, but realizes he is home with his two beloved girls. However, news coverage of Fallujah frightens Jack who believes he is losing his mind as he knows too much about the marines dying on the streets while also even scarier he believes that his two females are unsafe.

Rotating between the States and Iraq, this terrific taut thriller will haunt readers with its deep comparisons while making a case that most home front Americans invested nothing in the Iraq War not even taxes though our economy eventually paid the price when the credit card came due. Character driven by the two male leads, the exciting storyline keeps the reader guessing as to what is happening to Jack and/or Casey with a super climax that brings the intertwined two subplots together.

A Man of Indeterminate Value
Ron Felber
Barricade Books
2037 Lemoine Ave., Suite 362
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
www.barricadebooks.com
9781569804902, $16.95, www.amazon.com

In New Jersey, Wall Streeter Jack Madson knew he must die when the SEC indicted him for improprieties. He planned is demise perfectly as he wants to escape his life. After killing himself, Jack leaves behind a non-grieving family he hates; a corporate raider job he hates; a mountain of debt to foster his family's lifestyle he hates; and illegal selling of intellectual property to the Chinese he loves.

Jack travels to Mexico to begin a new life living off the 2.5 million he made with the Chinese while his wife and daughter would benefit from his firm Nu-Gen's insurance policy. However, across the border he soon finds himself without a penny as his partner left him with zilch. Needing cash means returning to Wall St.to break into the Nu-Gen biological medical information worth a fortune. While his partner and an insurance examiner pursue Jack with the former wanting to bury him and the later wanting to incarcerate him; corpses seem to follow him too.

This gritty thriller stars a fascinating introspective protagonist whose personal values had been usurped by his adopting the Wall St. bottom line greed value of profit with any cost to someone else as his own. Though one must wonder how Jack the suit survives his new world order; and with a nod to Hugo's Les Miserable (Jack has his own inspector stalking him), fans will appreciate this dark crime thriller.

The Plague Within
Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.
Grass Valley Publishing
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781489534521, $14.99, www.amazon.com

At Berkeley's Brier Hospital, the ER recommends surgery for teacher Rachel Palmer as she suffers from a ruptured diverticulum, but afterward the patient continues to suffer from peritonitis, abscesses and other internal problems. Dr. Jack Byrnes recommends surgery again, which Rachel's husband Tom and her father Richard Clarke reluctantly agree; but her mom Maxine says they should pursue alternative medicine.

Maxine wins the debate as the family insists on using an experimental antibiotic CT 1356. However, Rachel shows a major allergic reaction to the drug that if allowed to continue will kill her. Maxine goes ballistic when Jack decides to end the injections and perform surgery. Meanwhile new staff member Dr. Harmony Lane takes a short cut treating very ill patients like Rachel and Sandy Greer with early stages experimental PAT0075 over the objection of Jack.

The Plague Within is an exciting medical thriller that has the audience feeling we are at Brier Hospital (see The Sixth Sense for a previous visit). With an underlying message of doing full valid and reliable testing, the fast-paced storyline grips the reader as research shortcuts leave patients dying from the cure.

The Trojan Colt
Mike Resnick
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781616147891, $13.95, www.amazon.com

In Cincinnati, Bill Striker, head of the city's largest detective agency, hires freelancer Eli Paxton to provide personal security to legendary race horse Trojan's offspring Tyrone, as the colt is offered to bidders at the Keeneland Summer Sale auction in Lexington, Kentucky. Needing the money desperately, the former cop jumps at the opportunity.

Tyrone's groom Tony Sanders shows the valuable colt to interested buyers. The day before the bidding, Tony vanishes. His parents hire Eli to find their son. Tyrone's owner Travis Bigelow insists the groom ran away, which makes no sense to Eli as Tony was diligent and dedicated to the care of the horse. As he digs around the barns, Eli learns two other employees vanished in recent weeks and rumors have it that Bigelow's breeding operation is in financial trouble. He fears he could be missing person number four as he begins to uncover what is going on in the racing world.

The latest Eli Paxton Mystery (see Dog in the Manger and "Even Butterflies Can Sting" in the Death Dines At 8:30 anthology) is an exciting private investigative tale. The medium boiled detective storyline is intelligent and fast-paced as Eli with help works the case.

Sniper Elite One Way Trip
Scott McEwen with Thomas Koloniar
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781476746050, $26.99, www.amazon.com

In Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan Warrant Officers Sandra Brux and Billy Mitchell fly their UH-60M Black Hawk as Night Stalker pilots of the 160th Special Operations Aviation regiment. They were part of a rehearsal exercise but on the ground within so-called secure lines when an attack occurs. The Taliban kill the Rangers and grab Brux as a prize since she is the first female pilot of this elite unit. They take her into the Hindu Kush.

Claiming to be the target of an illegal kidnapping by her associates, Hezb-e Islamic Khalis leader Asdif Kohistani questions Brux on CIA activity. A video arrives in DC showing a raping of Brux that angers the female Speaker of the House who wants the 24 million ransom demand paid. The CIA wants a black ops rescue, but the Commander In Chief feels the risk to great so says no. The Special Ops forces believe POTUS fears the risk to his reelection and not to those willing to die to bring home a sister in arms. Special Ops sniper Gil Shannon is home in Montana when his friend Chief Steelyard informs him to expect the CIA to bring together the SOG to mount a rescue. Knowing time is of the essence, Shannon, Steelyard and a peer Crosswright, along with Tajik fighters go rogue to mount an extraction inside hostile territory.

This is an exciting action-packed military thriller once the players are set. The combat scenes are brutally realistic as blood and gore flow. While the heroes, Brux and Kohistani are full blooded, those in DC seem like political caricatures. Sniper Elite One Way Trip is a superb tale especially in Afghanistan.

Never Say Never
Victoria Christopher Murray
Touchstone
9781451695779, $15.00

In Los Angeles, a fire breaks out at a charter school. Michellee tells her BFFs Emily and Miriam that over twenty children and three firefighters were rushed to the hospital. Miriam's husband Chauncey and Emily's spouse Jamal were part of the team fighting the blaze. Chauncey dies.

Miriam mourns her loss while feeling all alone as life without Chauncey is unlivable though she knows she must be there for their three sons. Chauncey's best friend Jamal grieves deeply too as he struggles with survivor guilt that he lived and his buddy died. Miriam and Jamal find solace in each other's arms though if Emily, counseling the survivors, finds out about the betrayals by her beloved mate and her best friend she will be devastated.

The cast is incredibly genuine as the affair participants know logically they wrong his caring wife/her BFF who deserves better from them; yet readers will sympathize with two mourners as their emotional traumas and the comfort in each other's arms seem real. Readers will appreciate Never Say Never as grief overwhelms Miriam and Jamal whose respective faith has been shattered except when they are together.

Death of the Demon
Anne Holt
Anne Bruce (translator)
Scribner
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9781451634808, $16.00, www.amazon.com

Twelve year old Olav is sent to live in a group foster home with seven other children just outside Oslo because his mother could no longer deal with his hideous behavior. The home's director Agnes Vestavik quickly realizes her newest charge is a troubled tweener, but she apparently underestimates how disturbed he is. Soon after Olav's arrival, someone stabs to death Vestavik; the prime suspect is Olav who has vanished.

Hanne Wilhelmsen knows she is unsuited for her latest position as an Oslo Police Chief Inspector since the job requires political finesse, sharing information with staff and delegating duties to subordinates; key factors she prefers to ignore. With Detective Billy T., Hanne looks into the foster home's employees while much of the force search for Olav who seeks his mother. At the same time her longtime partner Cecilie wants them to have a child.

The latest Hanne Wilhelmsen Norwegian police procedural (see 1222, Blind Goddess and Blessed Are Those Who Thirst) is a fascinating murder mystery that provides a powerful spotlight on when the country's foster child system fails. Action-packed on both her professional and personal fronts as the protagonist distrusts everyone even her lover and her best friend, readers will enjoy this Norwegian Noir.

Sovereign
Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
www.hachettebookgroup.com
9781599953595, $25.00, www.amazon.com

For over four centuries since the release of the Legion virus, the planet has been peaceful under the control of The Order. However, humanity died with Legion as everyone became human Corpses. In 471 since the Legion went airborne, Jonathan was born as the first throwback living human whose blood converted the Corpses into Mortals. Guardians like Rom Sebastian risked their lives to keep the new hope future Sovereign safe, but failed six years ago when Jonathan was assassinated. His most dedicated followers sipped some of Jonathan's dripping blood and reverted to Mortal.

The Order has defeated most of Jonathan's followers. The insurgents' morale is low as their faith is gone since almost all no longer believe in Jonathan's resurrection; as they originally did when he died. Rom leads a party of forty-nine doubting rebels struggling to survive against the all mighty Order that plans to eradicate them and the Corpses that distrust these living Mortals.

The third Books Of Mortals Christian allegory is an exciting action-packed finish to the symbolic laden fantasy. Fans need to have read Forbidden and Mortal to understand better the imagery (often seemingly vague) references and how the hero and others got to this point. Sovereign is a strong completion of the Circle of life with an emphasis on the color Red for blood.

Hour of the Rat
Lisa Brackmann
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
www.sohopress.com
9781616952341, $25.00, www.amazon.com

Twenty-something Iraq war veteran Ellie McEnroe works as an art dealer in Beijing. She loves her job and the dynamic city she has lived in for three years in spite of the air quality and her always in trouble mother residing with her; but also knows that the Chinese Domestic Security Department (DSD) secret police watch her every move because she is a foreigner who represents political dissident clients.

Two cops bring Ellie is for a spot of tea. Her "friend" John, Zhou Zheng'an and a DSD agent question her about her client Lao Zhang Jianlo. After they are finished for now with her, Ellie limps home on her war injured leg when John intercedes and drives her home. He suggests she leave Beijing for the moment so heeding his advice, Ellie and mom rusticate while searching for the missing American activist Jason, brother of her comrade in arms Dog Turner.

The latest Ellie McEnroe China mystery (see Rock Paper Tiger) is a fabulous thriller that vividly brings to life Beijing and the rural countryside. Ellie is terrific as she tours the country seeking Jason who has a raging business cartel perusing him. Readers will enjoy Ellie's awesome adventures as she and mom share in common on thing besides DNA: getting into trouble.

Accidents Happen
Louise Millar
c/o Simon & Schuster
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9781451656701, $15.00, www.amazon.com

Kate Parker suffers from a severe case of PTSD caused by a series of personal tragedies. On her wedding night to her business partner Hugo, her parents died in a car accident. Other incidents not quite as traumatic occur, but they pile on stress until the next major incident happens when Hugo is murdered during a break in to their home.

Now she raises her ten years old son Jack while struggling with OCD that has her teetering on the deep end. She calculates the odds in every little event like a trucker tailgating her as the next calamity to challenge her sanity. Computing the odds of something nasty happening to her or Jack became an overwhelmingly powerful incentive for their leaving London for Oxford. When she meets Jago Martin, Kate finds a kindred numbers guru. He dares her to face her phobias by her taking on riskier and riskier challenges.

This is a gripping psychological thriller as Kate struggles with OCD caused by her PTSD reactions to a decade of traumas; while Jack the tweener struggles with keeping his mom from going off the deep end. Believability turns questionable as Kate begins to change too easily (even with Jack as her motive) after meeting her guru Jago. Still Accidents Happen is a taut tale with a surprising tense twist.

Saving Laura
Jim Satterfield
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
www.oceanviewpub.com
9781608090785, $26.95, www.amazon.com

In 1979 twenty-one year old Bobby Shelby Lee is in Baggs, Wyoming hitching his way Aspen, Colorado. When two deputies enter a truck stop he was eating in, Shelby hitches a ride (after paying for the gas) with a couple heading his way. The cops tail them when a shootout occurs leaving one officer dead, another hurt and the woman hit. Instead of fleeing he stays with the shot cop who tells him he fit the description of an APB. Shelby soon learns law enforcement believes he is dangerous and linked to Bonnie and Clyde who gave him a ride.

Already in trouble for daringly stealing $75,000 and five kilos of cocaine from dealer Tim Tucker, Shelby hides in his grandfather's remote mountain cabin to elude the law and Aspen's leading drug trafficker. He struggles to come up with a Saving Laura plan; as Tucker holds her as his prisoner. Shelby visits his neighbor fiftyish Wilbur the poacher who welcomes "College Boy". Wilbur, Davis the writer and Jaws help him with his quest; while DEA Agent Parker warns him even as he uses Laura as an expendable pawn; and the cops continue to search for him.

This is an exciting Rocky Mountain High thriller with stoic strong survivalists as the good guys, some wannabe cops as the bad guys and a vicious drug dealer and his thugs as the ugly guys. Clearly a rural outdoors tale yet with an underlying romantic premise as Saving Laura is Shelby's heart's obsession. Readers will appreciate joining Shelby on his trek (along with his eccentric allies and cold-hearted adversaries) to accomplish his seemingly impossible quest for the woman he loves.

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island
Michael Phillip Cash
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
www.createspace.com
9781484196090, $12.99, www.amazon.com

Allison Russo dies from cancer leaving behind a grieving family. Long Island Mcmansion realtor Paul struggles with the death of his wife while needing to be there for their children, the teen twins (Jesse and Veronica) and their youngest Stella Luna. Paul suffers from nightmares in which a demon holds his beloved Allison captured; Stella sees and hears her mommy's ghost; Jesse is filled with rage; and Roni feels alone as she cannot help her twin and feels guilt for feeling glad mom died after watching her waste away.

Melissa Andrews commissions Paul to sell Stillwell Manor owned by her husband Craig. She tells him that she had the mansion cleaned from the gore caused by her father-in-law murdering his wife before committing suicide. Paul visits Stillwell, only to find blood splattered everywhere; but on a second look sees pristine rooms. He learns that during the Revolution John Wendover and Hannah Andrews fell in love; when she vanished, her father the squire had John hung. Hannah's picture could have been Allison. As Paul obsesses with knowing the fate of what happened to John and Hannah; he feels solving that will solve many of his present day problems.

Stillwell is a fabulous haunted house ghost story as the widower struggles to help himself and his children cope with the loss of their mother. Although Paul's difficulty to form a new normal without his mate is well written and adds depth and realism to the characters, it also slows down the exciting haunting storyline. Still readers will relish Paul's quest to solve the mystery as he believes the truth will set him, his children, his late wife and several other spirits free.

Carrie's Protector
Rebecca York
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373697021, $5.50, www.amazon.com

In DC photographer Carrie Mitchel was taking pictures in Rock Creek Park for Wildlife Magazine when she overheard several men discussing a terrorist plot. She barely escapes. Her wealthy father hires a private firm to protect his daughter. That team escorts Carrie to her meeting with Federal Prosecutor Skip Gunderson as she is to testify against the only one of the gang caught Bobby Thompson.

Bobby's four allies ambush Carrie and her protectors at a check in point. Quick reaction by security operative Wyatt Hawk saves her life though the other guards are dead. They flee from the deadly ambush, but a safe house proves dangerous and anyone who might help them is assassinated or vanished as Wyatt knows someone high up in the power structure is behind the pursuit; he trusts no one. At the same time, though he fights his feelings, Carrie and Wyatt fall in love.

Though the premise is not new, Rebecca York's execution is super as readers will appreciate this exhilarating twisting romantic suspense. Fast-paced from the opening salvo, Carrie's Protector risks his life and his heart to keep her alive.

Triggered
Elle James
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373697007, $5.50

Ever since his wife and child died in a botched kidnapping last year, billionaire Raging Bull Ranch owner Hank Winchester decided justice needed help. He meets with four unemployable former law enforcement officials (Wild Oak Canyon Sheriff Thorn Drennon, Chuck "Big Tex" Bolton, FBI Special Agent Zachary Adams and Austin Police Officer Ben Harding) to discuss jobs at his new firm Covert Cowboys, Inc.

Ben's first assignment is to protect the new owner of the Flying K Ranch, Afghan war widow Kate Langsdon and her four years old daughter Lily. Kate inherited the ranch from her father Kyle Kendrick whom she never knew. Undercover as a hand, Ben realizes someone wants to run mother and child off the ranch. The current Wild Oak Canyon Sheriff Fulmer ignores the threat in spite of several nasty incidents as drug trafficking is a big business in the area. Though Kate and Lily remind him of his late wife and child, Ben's first objective to keep them safe and learn the mystery of a key his "employer" also inherited.

The first CCI romantic suspense is an exciting Texas thriller starring two strong protagonists who have in common the loss of a spouse, and a too precocious child. Fast-paced from the moment Ben arrives at the Flying K and never slows down until the final confrontation, readers will relish Triggered while Taking Aim on the sequel.

A Rose In The Storm
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN
9780373777709, $7.99

In 1306 Highlands, Margaret Comyn accepts her fate to marry Englishman Sir Guy as arranged by her Uncle Buchan and King Edward. While her brother pleads with her to refuse, Margaret travels to Castle Fyne, her inheritance from her late mother who would have a fit if she knew of her daughter's pending marriage to the English even to save their clan.

Alexander "Wolf of Lochaber" MacDonald leads his knights to Castle Fyne. There he and his men place the castle under siege. Alexander takes feisty Margaret hostage, but she proves versatile and clever as she escapes though he recaptures her. As their mutual admiration grows, so does their attraction; each know their love means nothing since a relationship would place their respective clans in danger.

This is a strong medieval Scottish romance that uses Robert the Bruce emergence as a backdrop to a wonderful love story. The protagonists are star-crossed lovers with no hope for a future together as readers will enjoy Brenda Joyce's fabulous historical.

Willowleaf Lane
RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin HQN
9780373777693, $7.99

An injury ended Spencer "Smoke" Gregory's baseball career with the Portland Pioneers. The scandal of his wife's death drove him and his twelve years old daughter Peyton back to his hometown of Hope's Crossing where affluent Harry Lange hired him to run the new recreation center for six months.

Father and daughter stop at the Sugar Rush candy shop owned by Charlotte Caine, who hates Spencer. In high school, he humiliated the overweight Charlotte who had a major crush starring him. Spencer is shocked at how smoking hot Charlotte looks. As Charlotte struggles not to fall again for the rogue who broke her heart, she sees how nurturing he is towards his daughter. However this time both fall in love, but nothing will happen unless she lets go her anger towards him.

The latest Hope's Crossing contemporary romance (see Blackberry Summer and Woodrose Mountain) is a warm second chance at love family drama. Though the premise is not new, the quirky storyline focuses on the three main characters learning love heals all wounds of the heart and soul.

Free Fall
Karen Foley
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797615, $5.50

Photographer Maggie Copeland knows why she agreed to leave Chicago to run the family's jewelry store on Whidbey Island; her twin brother Eric and his wife Danielle need a vacation. Still she hates this place after what Philip, a naval officer but not a gentleman did to her a decade ago when he jilted her at the altar for Pam.

While taking pictures of Puget Sound, she needs help to get down from her wet rocky perch. Naval Air Station pilot Lieutenant Commander Jack Callahan assists her. They are attracted to one another, but burned once Maggie fears committing her heart again to a military flyer.

This heated Uniformly Hot! romance engages the reader due to the changing relationship between the protagonists as distrust seemingly overwhelms love in a wonderful unique setting. Maggie and Jack are fully developed lead characters whose hearts teeter on the brink of Free Fall without a safety net if she takes the plunge that he already has.

Wild at Heart
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797592, $5.50

In Shoshone, Wyoming Professor Blake Scranton conducts research on Bald Eagle nesting behavior. However, being infirm he cannot study a nest at the edge of the Last Chance Ranch firsthand so after receiving permission from the owners, he hires Naomi Perkins to provide him the data he needs as the key focus of his paper.

Camping in the woods for the past week, Naomi on her camouflaged perch in a tree notices a cowhand under her. She drops her energy drink on him, which has Luke Griffin shouting he was slimed. Bugs attack him even while he admits he came to learn more about her fascinating work. Naomi and Luke are in heat from the moment he takes off his slimed shirt, but soon fall in love. However, Luke is a rolling stone and not even love makes him commit to a person and a place.

The latest Sons of Chance ranch romance (see I Cross My Heart) is a delightful contemporary enhanced by the Bald Eagle segue. Fans will enjoy the romance between the wandering cowboy and the local researcher as her energy drink spills make for a hot love potion.

The Widow Of Conard County
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373657520, $4.99

In Conard County, Widow Sharon Majors has begun to move on after her husband Chet died while serving in the military in Afghanistan. However Sharon realizes her resolve is weak when a limping man arrives. Liam O'Connor survived the war but suffered a brain trauma that altered his life and lost his best friend Chet to the hostilities that changed him even more. Just released from rehab he has come to Wyoming to deliver Chet's last letter written to his wife.

Sharon sees in the brain damaged Liam a kindred spirit grieving the loss of Chet. She persuades him to stay and work on her ranch while they heal and deal with their grief. As the couple falls in love, both believe Chet would be pleased, but the vet and the widow fear their feelings.

The latest Conard County ranch romance is a superb second chance at life tale in which the protagonists mentally struggle with the personal cost of war. The stress on Sharon is powerful, but it is the incredibly profound look at brain traumatized Liam that brings a timely fresh discernment to the storyline. Readers will appreciate this home front romance.

Once is Never Enough
Mira Lynn Kelly
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207213, $4.99

Accountant Nichole Daniels wants nothing to do with men after two broken engagements. Her best friend Maeve suggests she should set her up with her overly protective brother Garrett who raised her and three sisters to get him off her back. Nichole declines.

Construction company owner Garrett Carter and Nichole meet with each stunned by the attraction. When she learns he is her BFF's older brother, she insists friendship only. As each falls in love, no touch becomes impossible while both reconsider their no commitment pledge especially Nicole who believes the third time is the charm though she fears strike three.

Once is Never Enough is an enjoyable contemporary romance though the storyline follows a narrow obvious course. Fans will enjoy the changing relationship between the fully developed main characters with each having doubts to overcome.

What the Paparazzi Didn't See
Nicola Marsh
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207220, $4.99

In Melbourne Liza Lithgrow is an elite sportsman's WAG (wives and girlfriends) in order to pay for the care of her disabled younger sister Cindy. The paparazzi love capturing her with affluent athletes like Jimmy. However, Liz feels good that she has finally made the money needed to insure Cindy's care for life so plans to become an ex-WAG.

Qu Publishing CEO Wade Urquart and Liza meet and share an incredible night as she celebrates her liberation. The morning after is ruined when they learn who the other is. He wants her to write a scandalous kiss-and-tell autobiography that will save his company; while she learns her investment broker Walden Wren ran off with his clients' money including her sister's trust fund. As she agrees to write her story, they fall in love but Liza fears Wade will not see beyond what the paparazzi see.

This is an emotional Australian contemporary romance starring two protagonists with family issues that motivate both of them; as besides caring for her sister, her parents deserted Cindy, and he failed his late father so guilt drives his need to save Qu. Though readers should skip Liza Lithgrow's "Style Tips for Maximum WAG Wow Impact" which opens each chapter with amusing cuteness that feels out of place, fans will relish this strong passionate tale.

Darkest Desire of the Vampire
Rhyannon Byrd & Lauren Hawkeye
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885718, $5.75

"Wicked in Moonlight" by Rhyannon Byrd. Reporter Ryan Martin was on a story in Moonlight Bay, California when he vanished. His sister bookstore manager Lainey Maxwell comes to town searching for him. Werewolves who recognize her smell attack Lainey. Vampire Nick Santos rescues her but not before she was bitten.

"Vampire Island" by Lauren Hawkeye. Isla Miller travels from Colorado to Ile de Nuit in Tahiti on vacation. A vampire needs her blood, but mechanic Sloane Goldhawk the vampire saves her.

These are two fast-paced fun paranormal romances starring hot blooded protagonists.

Phantom Wolf
Bonnie Vanak
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885725, $5.75

Arcane Mage Kelly Denning and Elemental Mage Sam Shaymore were in love though their relative class status made a permanent relationship near impossible. Sam plans to tell his martinet father that he planned to marry Kelly, but an inferno at his family mansion leaves everyone inside dead. Her father rushes out of the blaze ending any chance between Kelly and Sam.

Over the years, Kelly has dedicated her life helping Mage children. When she learns of abductions in Honduras, she mounts a failed rescue. Navy SEAL Sam and his mates rescue her with the objective to bring her home. The female he never stopped loving persuades the male she never stopped loving to team up in order to save the children. They find evidence that Arcane rebels are assaulting Elementals. Like her father, Kelly appears to be the culprit.

The latest Phoenix Force romantic suspense (see The Covert Wolf) is a super second chance at love urban fantasy. The lead couple is a nice pairing of star-crossed lovers struggling with a fiery past and a dangerous present. Readers will relish Bonnie Vanak's thriller as the Elemental SEAL must decide whether to trust his heart or his brain.

Rocky Mountain Lawman
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373278268, $5.50

Veteran Skylar Jamison travels to the Wyoming Rockies to heal and hide in the wilderness painting. While on National Forest land, a big burly guy accuses her of being a spy and tells her to leave. After the man departs, having seen enough conflict she considers leaving until Forest Park Service Ranger and Wildlife Biologist Craig Stone arrives. She tells him what happened and he says he will take care of it with Buddy who owns land inside the National Forest.

Craig realizes Buddy is not being a cranky paranoid as strangers with weapons stalk the forest. They hunt Sky who Craig invites to stay in his cabin with her to keep her safe. As they fall in love, Sky and Craig team up against a superior force.

The latest Conard County: Next Generation romantic suspense (see No Ordinary Hero) is an action-packed thriller starring two strong protagonists though each is vulnerable when it comes to love. Rachel Lee provides another winning tale as love and danger come to the Wyoming Rockies.

Confessing to the Cowboy
Carla Cassidy
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373278251, $5.50

In Grady Gulch, Oklahoma teenager Jeffrey Lawrence calls 911 to report the murdered body of Dorothy Blake in her home. He explains to Sheriff Cameron Evans that he walks her dog every morning and has a key because she works nights at as a waitress at the Cowboy Cafe.

Cameron has been in love with the Cowboy Cafe owner, single mom Mary Mathis for eight years, but she refuses involvement with any man offering no reason though inside her heart she is attracted to Cameron. The sheriff ignores his attraction as he investigates three murders, with Dorothy the latest, linked to Cowboy Cafe but unaware of the motive. Filled with guilt over the three dead waitresses, Mary believes her violent past has come to haunt her present.

The latest Cowboy Cafe romantic suspense (see Cowboy With A Cause) is a thrilling romantic police procedural. The key to what is the final (and most anticipated) tale in the series is the relationship between the lead couple as each has looked forward to his close the cafe cup of coffee every night. The taut suspense has readers waiting for a confrontation between the sheriff and the cafe owner, and an unknown violent serial killer whose previous targets are calling cards to Mary.

His Uptown Girl
Liz Talley
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718542, $5.75

Katrina devastated jazz pianist Dez Batiste's life, but after years away he has come home to New Orleans to open up a club in the Uptown neighborhood. However, the local store owners fear a jazz club will bring drugs and prostitution with it so they vehemently oppose.

The Queen's Box antique shop owner Eleanor Theriot agrees with the opponents to Dez's club though she is attracted to him and respects his encouraging her employee Tre, who suffered plenty from the Hurricane and human venom. Eleanor and Dez begin seeing each other, which upsets her daughter Blakely but makes her BFF Pansy elated. As they fall in love, she is his muse who brings back to him the music he lost but that may not be enough for the permanent relationship he covets and she fears.

His Uptown Girl is an electrifying post Katrina contemporary romance starring two wonderful lead characters and a strong support cast. Fast-paced, readers will relish Liz Talley's terrific tale as love may not be enough for this couple.

Once A Champion
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718573, $5.75

Champion calf roper Matt Montoya has searched for his missing horse Beckett since his then separated cheating wife Trena sold him over a year ago. Ironically, clues lead him to his neighbor's ranch; but the condition of the spread shocks him. Instead of Tim Bailey, he runs into the owner's daughter Liv, a physical therapist he has not seen in a dozen years since she tutored him in high school. Liv informs him she bought the horse from Trena, which was a legal sale as this is a community property state and they were still married.

She knows she is still attracted to him as she was in school, but refuses a relationship having just ended an engagement. Attracted to her, Matt no longer ignores the brain as her intelligence scared him when they were teens, but not now. As they argue over a horse's ownership, they fall in love but in spite of a bad knee injury she expects he will return to the circuit and forget about her.

This is a delightful ranch romance due to a super support cast and the lead couple's conflicting issues. He is like a champion boxer coming out of retirement (think of Ali-Holmes and Leonard-Camacho) while she fears controlling males. Readers will enjoy the roper and the therapist falling in love.

A Walk Down The Aisle
Holly Jacobs
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718580, $5.75

In Valley Ridge, New York, Sophie Johnston and Colton McCray are at the alter about to exchange marital vows when angry fourteen year old Tori Allen arrives claiming the bride was her mother. Stunned, Colt calls off the wedding as his fiancee never mentioned giving away a baby for adoption and wonders what other secrets Sophie concealed from him.

Though heartbroken, Sophie likes the idea of getting to know her blue haired daughter whose parents gave them permission to become acquainted. When she learns she is pregnant, Sophie refuses to give Colton a second chance though she loves him deeply. He feels like a villain though she failed to tell him about a daughter.

The latest Valley Ridge Wedding (see You Are Invited and April Showers) is a fabulous relationship drama as life proves increasingly convoluted for the bride and groom. Readers will enjoy this Lake Erie romance as Holly Jacobs provides a wonderful tale as the perfect couple proves imperfect.

His Baby Dream
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754588, $5.50

High school biology teacher Peter Gladstone works summers at the Safe Harbor Sports Camp. Widow single mom Harper Anthony's six year old daughter Mia attends the camp. They know each other because her late husband and Peter coached the high school wrestling team together. Peter and Harper, a nurse at the Safe Harbor Medical Center, are attracted to each other, but feel some guilt over their feelings.

A widower since his wife died of cancer two years ago, Peter decides to fulfill their dream of a child by using donated eggs that Harper has provided to an agency. He is euphoric that her DNA will be used, but when she learns this she becomes upset that Peter failed to tell her that someone else will be the surrogate mother.

The latest Safe Harbor Medical romance (see The Detective's Accidental Baby, The Baby Dilemma, The M.D.'s Secret Daughter, and The Baby Jackpot) is an engaging second chance at love starring two decent people who lost loved ones. Although His Baby Dream "conflict" feels forced, readers will root for Peter and Harper to come together.

Hollywood House Call
Jules Bennett
Harlequin Desire
9780373732500, $5.25

In order to eat, wannabe actress Callie Matthews works as the receptionist at Dr. Noah Foster's cosmetic surgery office that caters to the rich and famous. Just as Callie receives a major acting part, she suffers terrible injuries in a car accident.

Filled with despair, Callie wallows in self-pity as she wants to be alone. However, Noah refuses to allow her to become a hermit. He persuades her to move into his home to heal and promises to restore her beauty lost to the crash. As they live together platonically, they fall in love with each wanting to change their bedside relationship from professional to personal, but his past has left him commitment phobic.

Hollywood House Call is a tender contemporary romance due the fully developed hurting protagonists having traumas that hold each back. Whereas Callie suffers emotionally and physically, Noah deals with mental demons from his past. Together these two walking wounded prove love makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Marriage for Her Baby
Raye Morgan
Harlequin Romance
9780373742455, $5.99

Just across the water from Seattle, Sara Darling, because of her sister Jill, annually begs door to door collecting funds for the Children's Sunshine funds. Her last stop has a desperate man greet her with a stove fire, too much suds in the dishwasher, burned toast and the fire alarm going crazy while an angry cat adds to the mess. She takes control of the scene as Jake Martin explains he missed civilization over the last few years after spending his time in tents and motels for the military and as a child part of the Wild Ones family.

Jake and Sara, who he thinks is Jill, chat as he tells her he must learn how to raise his daughter Savannah as her mother Kelly died in a car crash. Sara is stunned as she has petitioned the court to name her to be the mother of her niece Savannah. When he learns his savior is Sara Darling who he knows wants to adopt Savannah, Jake suggests a marriage of convenience, which she accepts. As they fall in love, both adults want a real family.

This Single Mom Diaries entry (see A Daddy For her Sons) is an over the top of the Space Needle fun tale due to the likable lead couple. Readers will root for kind Sara, domestically-inept Jake and baby Savannah to become a loving family rather than a trio of convenience.

Freefall
Jill Sorenson
Harlequin HQN
9780373777952, $7.99

Olympic athlete Sam Rutherford was climbing Valhalla at night when he saw what looked like a single engine plane crash and subsequent fire on Angels Wings. He runs for five hours to the Sierra Nevada Mineral King Station where he reports what he witnessed to park attendant Owen Jackson and ranger Hope Banning. Hope delays her vacation to climb remote Angels Wing. Though each is reluctant to team up, Sam accompanies her as she needs a seasoned partner. Each remembers that great night of sex six months ago but his memory is tainted with guilt over his fiance's death from a climbing accident and hers with his brutal get lost attitude afterward.

As they climb together on the search and rescue mission, their attraction remains strong leaving both on edge. When they reach the crash site, neither is prepared for what will greet them there. Trust is the only way they and others will survive.

The sequel to Aftershock is an exciting romantic suspense that begins as a dangerous mountain climb before turning into a more standard thriller scenario. Sam showcases how talented Jill Sorenson is as he was a depressed brute in Aftershock, but converts into a hero from the moment he enters the ranger station. Readers will appreciate this engaging tale as a dangerous mountain climb and a deadly villain seem like child-play compared to freefalling in love.

Just One Kiss
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN
9780373777600, $7.99

In Fool's Gold, California fourteen year old Patience McGraw and sixteen year old Justice Garrett are friends though both want more. Instead he vanishes and all traces that he lived in Fool's Gold disappear with him.

Fifteen years later, Justice returned to town as a bodyguard to a ballet dancer. He visits Patience at Chez Julia, the hair salon where she works. Over coffee, he explains his father Bart Hanson, Sr. was a career criminal who killed people while robbing them. Justice testified against his dad and was in the Witness Protection Program when he was forced to relocate; he conceals from her that he believes his father killed his mother. In the personal protection business, Justice and his partners plan to open up an academy in town. She introduces him to her ten years old daughter Lillie. As they fall in love, he knows he is not spousal or daddy material and she expects him to abandon her and Lillie; while his father continues his hunt.

Though the latest Fool's Gold romance starts a bit slower than usual, fans will enjoy this second chance at love entry as the male lead's childhood has him doubting that he deserves the love of a family. Readers will enjoy the heroine living up to her name when it comes to the love of her life as Justice must defeat his demonic dad emotionally as much as in person.

Big Sky Summer
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN
9780373777655, $7.99

Parable, Montana rancher Walker Parrish loves country and western star Casey Elder. He sired two children with her, but he reluctantly agreed she would raise them while no one would know he was their father. When Casey returns to Parable with fourteen year old Clare and thirteen year old Shane, Walker feels he made a terrible error years ago as he wants to spend time with his teen children as their dad not as a family friend.

Casey asks Walker to marry her for the sake of the children who need a father but not an abrupt shocker. He wants to tell them that he is their biological father while she fears their reactions having kept it a secret from everyone. Additionally Casey conceals her hidden agenda that she needs him too.

The latest Big Sky contemporary (see Big Sky River, Big Sky Mountain and Big Sky Country) is an enjoyable ranch romance due to the interesting screwed up relationship. Casey's original argument for hiding the identity of the father seems off base as Walker is nothing like her rationalization. Still, readers will relish this second chance at family.

The Girl With The Iron Touch
Kady Cross
Harlequin Teen
9780373210855, $17.99

In 1897 London, automatons apparently working for the remnants of the evil Machinist kidnap Emily O'Brien because of her mechanical skills. They demand she place the brain of Leonardo Garibaldi into automaton 312; their late master's creation which is more human than mechanical. She refuses as she does not want another battle to the death with another Machinist. When her abductors threaten her straynge friends (Finley Jayne, Lord Griffin King and Sam Morgan), Emily knows she must fake cooperation while stalling the transplant until she escapes or is rescued.

Meanwhile Emily's three buddies desperately search for her. Finley Jayne pleads with master criminal Jack Dandy to help save Emily; Jack kisses her shaking and confusing her heart as she loves Griffin. The Aether beckons Griffin who fears he is losing his mind, but deals with his sanity alone as expected of an aristocrat. Though more machine than man, a panicked Sam knows his heart and soul propels him to search forever for the female he loves.

The latest Girl With Steampunk Chronicles historical fantasy (see The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar) is a terrific entry that grips readers from the moment Emily is snatched and never loosens that hold unto a final confrontation. Action-packed yet vividly described, teen readers will think they crossed over into an alternate late Victorian London in a coming of age thriller; as the trio and their allies struggle with runaway emotions that could betray the rescue mission while at the same so does the abductee.

Dare You To
Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen
9780373210633, $17.99

Bullit County students Chris, Ryan and other friends drive the thirty minutes to Louisville competing in a game of dare to get the most girls' phone numbers. At a Taco Bell, Chris dares Ryan to get the number of a kick butt Skater Girl Beth with torn jeans. She tells Ryan to open her car door if he wants her number; waiting for her are two mean looking males Noah and Isaiah. Ryan loses the game.

The bartender calls Beth to get her drunken mom out of the bar before he calls the cops. Her mom blames Beth for men leaving before using a baseball bat on her latest live in boyfriend Trent's car. When the cops arrive, Beth says she did it. Her mom's sister Aunt Shirley fears her niece will do time so calls Beth's paternal Uncle Scott who forced her mom to sign over legal guardianship to him. Uncle Scoot tells Beth either move to Groveton or visit her mom in prison. In Groveton, she meets the Taco Bell jock as Ryan is the local high school star pitcher. As the teens fall in love, Beth feels she is not worthy of him.

Rotating perspective, Katie McGarry provides an engaging character-driven tale of an at-risk teen with plenty of family tsuris in the big city and the burbs where she feels like a fish out of water. Although the transitions do not always flow smoothly, teenage readers will appreciate this deep hardcore thriller as Katie McGarry once again is Pushing The Limits.

The Doll
Taylor Stevens
Crown
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
www.crownpublishing.com
9780307888785, $24.00, www.amazon.com

In Dallas, the Doll Maker sends his nephew Valon Lumani to abduct Vanessa Michael Monroe, but warns him to be on alert as this woman can kill with her hands within a nanosecond. He succeeds in snatching her in front of her lover Miles Bradford. At about the same time the Doll Maker also arranges the kidnapping of Michael's best friend Logan to insure she behaves.

Valon Lumani escorts Michael to Zagreb, Croatia where his uncle the Doll Maker tells their captive she will deliver live merchandise to a customer to repay the debt. A professional killing machine, she does the Doll Maker's bidding after he shows her a video of a battered Logan. Michael knows the time to repay the debt will come, but believes Miles and his employees need time to rescue Logan.

The third Vanessa Michael Munroe gritty noir (see The Informationist and The Innocent) is a dark thriller due to a sociopathic vile trafficker and a psychopathic heroine dancing a deadly tango. Perhaps the key difference between them is she tries to keep the innocent out of the fight while he willingly, even going out of his way, sacrifices the innocent as expendables. Readers will appreciate the grim The Doll from the opening abduction to the final confrontation.

Fiend
Peter Stenson
Crown
9780770436315, $22.00

Typewriter John tells Chase that he is going to the bathroom in spite of the fact that neither has eaten in almost three days as both have been in a meth daze. Chase looks out the window only to believe he remains as deep as he ever has on a trip when he watches a giggling little girl rips apart a Rottweiler. Type joins him and makes Chase feel worse when he affirms that he sees the same horror. They soon learn that while they went into their meth zone, most of the world became zombies.

Chase persuades Type to help him find his girlfriend KK. Before beginning their quest, the stoners draw up a survival list starting and ending with meth; not aware of how important that will prove. As they meet other humans including KK, Chase dreams of having babies with her. Only what is left of his brain, besides the meth icon that occupies almost all of his cells, gets through to him with a horrific truth.

Fiends is a refreshing unique Zombie thriller that focuses more on addicts struggling to survive the pandemic. The key to the tale is Chase, who in spite of his seemingly endless daze state, keeps the storyline focused while he remains loyal to his friends and loved ones even when stoned, but especially during an end of the world as we know it outbreak. Although the zombies are not developed beyond dining on live organisms and laughing like deranged clowns, readers will enjoy Peter Stenson horror tale as T.S. Eliot says in the Hollow Men: "This is the way the world ends; not with a bang but a whimper" (albeit a chuckle).

Any Duchess Will Do
Tessa Dare
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
www.avonbooks.com
9780062240125, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Disgusted with her son the Duke not married and providing her with grandchildren, Griffin York's mother kidnaps him. She takes him to Spindle Cove where she demands he choose a wife. Not wanting to wed anyone, Griffin decides to teach his mom a lesson not to interfere in his life. He selects the last person qualified to be a duchess, Bull and Blossom's barmaid, Pauline Simms.

Griffin offers Pauline a deal she cannot refuse as the money he offers her will enable her to open a lending library. All she has to do to collect is allow his mother to mentor her on how a duchess behaves; he assumes a barmaid will fail. To his shock, his chosen bride comes across as pathetic to him yet capable to the London Ton; while even more stunning Griffin likes her spunk. As they fall in love, he needs to persuade his duchess in training that he wants her as his wife permanently and more important he must convince his doubting Thomasine
she wants the same.

The latest Spindle Cove Regency romance (see A Lady By Midnight and A Night To Surrender) is an engaging humorous historical; as the professor falls in love with Shaw's Pygmalion (albeit one hundred years earlier) while his mom stiches odd baby attire. Readers will relish Any Duchess Will Do; as Griffin learns the perils of playing with hearts as only Pauline will do.

Love At First Sight
Lori Wilde
Avon
9780062218933, $7.99

In Cupid, Texas Natalie McCleary owns and runs Cupid's Rest bed and breakfast. Because of a plane crash that left her alive and left her parents dead, Natalie has issues caused by survival guilt and fear of risks.

Former Navy SEAL, Dade Vega has childhood issues brought on by addict parents including a mom who overdosed and being in the foster care system. He comes to Cupid seeking his missing best friend and fellow foster brother Red. When he and Natalie see each other for the first time, both feel the intense attraction, but neither believes in love especially at first sight even in a town called Cupid.

The first Cupid romance is an entertaining contemporary starring two people singing the refrain from I'm Not In Love (10Cc) in a town in which the prime request for residency is a belief in love at first sight. Overall the romance is fun as the deniers recognize their feelings though at times it is too cute while the mystery of Red adds a nice supporting sub-plot.

An English Bride In Scotland
Lynsay Sands
Avon
9780061963117, $7.99

Lady Withram arrives at night at Elstow Abbey to take her daughter Annabel home to Waverly for a night or two. A confused Abigail says her home is the abbey as she wonders why her mom has taken her from her bed of fourteen years; in all that time not a word from her family. Mother refuses to answer any questions except her sister Kate is the reason she must come home as her sibling has runaway just before a Scottish laird was coming to marry her.

Laird Ross MacKay has no problems which English Rose will be his bride. Annabel feels more comfortable at the stables than managing a home or sleeping with a man. Ross and his clan find her naive efforts charming and soon accept her as a Scotswoman. As they fall in love, Kate comes home.

An English Bride In Scotland is an enjoyable medieval romance due to the amusing relationship between the lead couple. Although the premise is overused and the protagonists are inconsistent (ranging from brilliant to moronic), subgenre fans will enjoy Lynsay Sand's humorous historical.

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh
Stephanie Laurens
Avon
9780062068651, $7.99

By 1837, Mary Cynster is the only member of her generation to remain single now that her sister Henrietta married (see And Then She Fell). Perhaps because she is the youngest, whatever Mary wants Mary gets and she knows what she wants in a mate: someone she can control. Her first choice is gentle Randolph Cavanaugh while her last selection is his rowdy brother Ryder.

Ryder the rake is attracted to contrary Mary who rejects his overtures. However, as he continues his pursuit of her and she remains steadfast in eluding him, their gender war takes a different spin then ether expected when a lunatic goes after both of them. With help from the Cynster clan and their love, Mary and Ryder confront a maniac.

Almost two decades and twenty historical romances later, the Cynster saga comes to a wonderful but sad end with the second Cynster Sisters Duo tale (the family tree and the epilogue emphasizes that finality). The storyline is fast-paced even with the return of much of the extended family though that also can prove distracting. Still fans will appreciate this delightful entry while taking a page out of Mary's spousal selection playbook by demanding of Stephanie Laurens, Cynster next generation Victorian romances.

All Out Of Love
Lori Wilde
Avon
9780062218964, $7.99

In Cupid, Texas overweight high school student Lace Bettingfield wrote a letter asking Cupid for help with her unrequited love for football star Pierce Hollister. Her love letter ends up in the school paper; leaving Lace humiliated and alone.

Twelve years since Lace's embarrassment, now in the NFL playing for the Dallas Cowboys, an injury cost Pierce and his team a chance at winning the Super Bowl. He comes home to Cupid to heal. Meanwhile Lace's grandmother Millie Greenway believes in the Cupid legend with the proof that the prodigal superstar has come home. However, Lace is a non-believer who runs the botanical gardens and wants nothing to do with her former crush who is interested in her. While he struggles with family problems football allowed him to avoid, they begin a tryst. When she lacks money to keep the gardens open, she reluctantly asks Pierce to headline a fundraiser.

The second Cupid contemporary romance (see Love at First Sight) is an engaging heated affair between the botanist and the football player. Although fans will appreciate this second chance romance, too many references into their respective occupations adds humor but detracts from the relationship.

A Diet To Die For
Sarah Steding
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
www.pocketbooks.com
9781451684681, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In New York City event planner Jen Stevens knows working for the Yummy Channel is not the best place for a serial dieter to be employed as cupcakes like those baked by popular Bess Brantwood are scrumptious and those working there tend to gain weight. Currently Jen works on the hundredth episode of the very popular Bess's Bakery show, which means dining on delicious carbs while dealing with a diva; an occupational hazard of working at the channel since all the hosts are prima donnas who can cook.

As reporter Callie Rogers and station VIPs arrive for the gala at the bakery, Bess fails to show up and her assistant Giselle "Bess Wrangler" Martin does not answer her cell. Soon afterward Bess is found murdered tossed away like rotting food inside a nearby dumpster. NYPD Detective Philip Franklin leads the investigation into the celebrity's homicide while Jen and her friends also make inquiries.

The first Skinny Mystery is an enjoyable culinary whodunit that is at its best when focused on the mystery and watching employees count their calories while working at gourmet heaven; ironically low carb recipes are included. Although the stereotyping of the celebrity chefs as divas is an overused sub-genre norm (especially as the murder victim), fans will enjoy Jen's amateur sleuthing and budding romance with NYPD Officer Alex D'Alby.

You Cannoli Die Once
Shelley Costa
Pocket Books
9781476709352, $7.99

Since 1937, the successful Miracolo family restaurant in Quaker Hills forty minutes north of Philadelphia has served Italian cuisine to hungry patrons. The current head chef Eve Angelotta and the current diva her septuagenarian Nonna Maria Pia Angelotta tend to argue a lot over marriage and producing future chefs.

On Monday, Eve finds her cousin Kayla's lover lawyer Joe Beck in her garbage looking for his missing wedding ring after three nights of late banging. Tuesday tops Monday when Eve finds a corpse with his head bashed in the kitchen on top of a classic Caruso 78. The police inform Eve and her horde of relatives that the victim is Arlen Mather, Nonna's boyfriend. When Nonna's alibi collapses, the police arrest her for the murder. Eve and her cousins know Nonna is a feisty pain in the butt, but not a killer so they investigate Arlen's "Night at the Opera".

The first Angelotta culinary cozy is an amusing Philadelphia shtick amateur sleuth. The cousins' inquiry is fun to follow especially Eve's humorous asides though readers need a scorecard to keep track of who's who amongst the family horde. Still fans will enjoy dining at Miracolo.

Twin Flames: A Love Story Across Time and Dimensions
Carolyn R. Prescott
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
www.outskirtspress.com
9781478715085, $18.95, www.amazon.com

Seventeen year old twins Lily and Catrina Johentzen are total opposites except when it comes to the "Annoyance" AKA younger brother. The three siblings and their parents are on vacation in Browning, Montana when they wander into a closed area because the prohibition sign was misaligned. A shard of glass cuts Lily in her forehead. She is rushed to the hospital while over the next few weeks she has vivid visions of someone named Sings to Flowers of the First Nation People. The Wind knows who she is even as a stunned Lily tells nurse Mary Tall Chief about these dreams that seem more like memories especially of her loving Little Bear and having that love destroyed; yet not destroyed as she feels a deep resolve to find her Little Bear.

Little Bear died two centuries ago. He has transcended to the fifth dimension as Ahhatome but remembers his time on the third dimension called earth. Looking at the Record of his time as Little Bear, Ahhatome recalls his love for Sings to Flowers who remains everything to him.

Twin Flames is a fascinating look at a Native American belief system through mostly the filters of Twin Flames united in love. Character driven by the star-crossed lovers and to a lesser degree Catrina, readers who relish something different will appreciate this complex look at eternal spiritualism.

Thy Will Be Done
Julie Fisher
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
www.outskirtspress.com
9781478719656, $13.95, www.amazon.com

In 1904, Nicholas says goodbye to his family as he begins a journey from England to San Francisco. In the city by the bay, he obtains work as a delivery boy for shopkeeper Mr. Hadley. When he arrives with dresses to Ellen Wilkins, Nicholas intercedes with calming her birthday present devilish Othello the horse. His actions anger employee Michael. Ellen and Nicholas fall in love, but he suddenly left without a word.

In the present day, Luke has not had a decent night's sleep since he was five years old and the nightmares began. He always dreams of the Monster and the lovely lady who he loves though she does not exist and has cost him relationships like what just happened with Janine. Desperate he visits Dr. Child, a specialist in sleep disorders. Soon afterward he sees Ellen, the star of his dreams, at a club and in his class on Early American History at Evergreen University. Abigail Lockhart thinks the professor looks like the star of her dreams Nicolas.

Thy Will Be Done is a terrific romantic-horror thriller starring two stunned individuals who share the identical dream of Nicholas, Ellen and the Monster. Though there is some repetitious phrasing (for instance get lost in a bathroom), readers will wonder (like the protagonists do) what is going on and whether true love is enough against an eternal darkness that never gives up.

Into The Dark
Rick Mofina
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
www.mirabooks.com
9780778315001, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Single dad, LAPD Detective Joe Tanner has no time to grieve his wife's death as he leads a Southern California task force dealing with a serial killer who murdered five people in the area though the culprit has been seemingly dormant lately. With media cooperation, Joe hopes to capture the psychopath soon, but instead this predator taunts him and his team with a message that says the next chosen one to die has been selected so "race the clock ... to save the next victim" from the Dark Wind Killer.

After an abusive childhood, psychologist Dr. Claire Bowen dedicates her life to helping victims like she was. While she is at a fertility clinic as a potential patient, her husband Robert the pilot saves a family from a car fire. When someone breaks into Claire's office to steal records and a patient vanishes that brings her into the serial killer case, she realizes she knows nothing about her spouse's background.

Into The Dark is a tense psychological police procedural although readers will know who the psychopath is early on. The taut storyline is gripping once the fully developed cast (especially the troubled killer as the audience learns why the urge to kill) is introduced as Rick Mofina makes a strong case that the untreated abused child becomes the disturbed adult who can masquerade as a normal (whatever that is) person.

From This Moment On
Bella Andre
Mira
9780778315575, $7.99

In Napa valley, thirty-six year old Marcus Sullivan owns Sullivan Winery. He looks forward to marrying his girlfriend Jill who he met two years ago and raising a family with her. However, as his brother celebrates his engagement (see The Look of Love), she shatters his dream when he catches her riding Rocco with her face showing no surprise as she expected him. As he stoically leaves, Jill pleads with him to show any passion that he cares.

Pop star Nico wanders the streets of San Francisco after being betrayed and used by her then boyfriend Kenny. She enters a club as twentyish Nicola Harding. There she meets Marcus who thinks she sort of looks familiar but is unsure why; she fails to tell him who she is. They share an incredible night with no thoughts of tomorrow until the morning has each wanting more, but neither act on that urge. Not long afterward, Marcus goes to see his sister Lori the choreographer whose current client is Nico.

The second Sullivan romance (see The Look of Love) is a delightful contemporary starring lead protagonists sharing in common love for their respective siblings. Although ultra-responsible Marcus clubbing seems a stretch and two key coincidences (as described above) bring the couple together, readers will enjoy this engaging entry.

The Newcomer
Robyn Carr
Mira
9780778314523, $7.99

In Thunder Point, Oregon single dad deputy sheriff Mac McCain and single mom Gina James are in love, but each accepts their respective children (his three and her one) must come before their happiness. Complicating their efforts to revise their longtime friendship into a committed relationship is Mac's former wife he has not seen in a decade arrives in town.

Henry "Coop" Cooper Jr. left Virgin River, California for Thunder Point with no plans of staying after inheriting 200 acres of Oregon beachfront property and Ben's Bar from his late military friend Ben Bailey. He remains in town after meeting Coast Guard pilot Sarah Dupre, single guardian to her sixteen year old brother Landon. They have become an entry, but Sarah conceals from her beloved that she soon transfers to another station and Hank meets a son he never knew he sired.

The second Thunder Point coastal community drama is an engaging ensemble contemporary with several rotating subplots that never gels on one main storyline, but looks deep into personal and social issues. The leisurely-paced tale is character driven as much by the teens as by the adults. Virgin River fans will enjoy following the escapades of coastal Oregonians (and recent transplants) though it behooves Robyn Carr fans to read The Wanderer before The Newcomer to know what previously happened to the cast.

The Mourning Hours
Paula Treick DeBoard
Mira
9780778314974, $14.95

Berkeley Professor Kirsten Hammarstrom drives to her former home town rural Watankee, Wisconsin from California. Near Milwaukee, a cop pulls her over for speeding. As she hands him her license and registration, Kirsten fears he will recognize her surname though almost two decades have passed since her family was headline news.

In 1994, sixteen years old Stacy Lemke says hello to nine year old Kirsten as a means to meet the tweener's older brother high school wrestler Johnny. Her ploy works as Johnny and Stacy begin dating. However when she vanishes without a trace, the cops suspect Johnny killed her. The media goes on a frenzy accusing Johnny of murder though no evidence surfaces. The Hammarstrom family is destroyed by how their neighbors react.

The Mourning Hours is a fabulous mystery that grips the audience with a need to know what happened to Stacy in 1994 though fans will figure it out before the courtroom denouement. The storyline rotates between the two years with the past much stronger than the present as a town without pity held an entire family culpable while the Hammarstrom clan fails to rally around the accused as they hold him culpable too.

The Favor
Megan Hart
Mira
9780778314400, $14.95

Two decades have passed since Janelle Decker left St. Mary's, Pennsylvania for California. Her family tells her that her grandmother Nan has a brain tumor. Janelle knows what she must do; so, accompanied by her twelve year old son Bennett, she returns home to care for Nan.

Though she loved living with Nan as a teen, Janelle is unprepared for Gabe Tierney living next door. They were falling in love until the accident ended their relationship, tore apart the Tierney siblings (Gabe, Andy and Mike), and self-exiled Janelle from the town. Still attracted to each other, both have secrets from what happened twenty years ago that prevents a relationship from occurring.

This is an intriguing but slow-paced second chance at love dysfunctional family drama. The cast is solid especially the three dysfunctional brothers but the key mystery once unveiled somewhat late does not bring much suspense. Still readers will enjoy
this tale as "To forgive is human, to forget divine", but sometimes one must forget the relationship.

Somewhere Between Luck And Trust
Emilie Richards
Mira
9780778314516, $14.95

After eight months in prison for a crime she did not commit and giving birth there to the child of Ford who did commit the crime, Christy Haviland is released. Samantha Ferguson picks her up to take her back to Goddess House located between the towns of Luck and Trust in Madison County. Christy is confused as to why Samantha and later the other residents at Goddess House are kind towards her.

Buncombe County Alternative School Principal Georgia Ferguson also wants to help Christy learn to read. However, Georgia is shook up over a bracelet she mysteriously received that may be a clue towards finding her mother who abandoned her as a newborn. With help from her beloved Luke Ramsey and a grateful Christy, Georgia investigates while Ford will do anything to prevent her from proving her innocence.

The latest Goddesses Anonymous (see One Mountain Away) is an entertaining second chance at life drama. The cast is fully developed and the two mysteries fun, but it is Christy's crippling learning disability that makes this a warm tale.

The Night Is Watching
Heather Graham
Mira
9780778315063, $7.99

Lily, Arizona Sheriff Sloan Trent knows he is out of his league when a nineteenth century human skull is found amongst other props in the Old West tourist attraction the Gilded Lily Theater. He contacts his friend from his Houston police days, Texas FBI Krewe leader Agent Logan Raintree for help. Logan sends FBI forensic artist Jane Everett to Lily to work with Sloan.

As they team up though he has doubts about her paranormal skills, Jane encounters the ghost of Sloan's ancestor who worked at the Gilded Lily. Meanwhile more deaths follow as the cop and the fed realize that am Old West gold robbery is at the center of the present day homicides. With ghosts assisting the couple on the case and matchmaking them, Sloan and Jane fall in love.

Though similar in tone to previous Krewe of Hunters paranormal romantic mysteries (see The Unseen), The Night Is Watching is an entertaining thriller due to the Old West as remembered by the ghosts haunting the town vs. modern day people producing their vision of what occurred. Readers will appreciate the deadly hunt for lost gold as the ghosts help the Krewe and the sheriff who seek a killer while finding love.

The Look Of Love
Bella Andre
Mira
9780778315568, $5.99

Globetrotting photographer Chase Sullivan feels better now that he escaped from his beloved widow mother's seventieth birthday party. Seven siblings proves to overwhelming even if his brother's home has a great view of Sam Francisco Bay and he loves his family. He heads to Napa Valley where he will take pictures at his brother Marcus' winery in the morning.

As a sudden nasty storm hits, battered Chloe Peterson's loses control of her car on an isolated road and lands in a ditch. Chase stops to help her and persuades the cared woman to stay at his sibling's guest house where others are. They are attracted to each other, but her bruised face shows why she distrusts men as her abusive ex-husband stalks her.

This is an expanded version of the first enjoyable Sullivan sibling romance (released in 2011). Although the premise of a raging psychopath hunting down his victimized former wife is an overused theme, readers will relish "The look of love; it's saying so much more than words could ever say" (Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Chris S. Botti); as it heals battered souls.

The Sassy Belles
Beth Albright
Mira
9780778315285, $14.95

In Tuscaloosa, near hysterical Vivi Ann McFadden calls her BFF attorney, Blake O'Hara Heart as she desperately needs to speak with her. Instead she gets Blake's husband and partner Harry who waits for his wife to join him at the Tutwiler to celebrate their tenth anniversary. She tells him she thinks she silenced the voice of Crimson Tide football, Harry's younger brother Lewis Heart, who she insists lies dead in a room at the Fountain Mist. The police go to room 106 but there is no body only "Deputy Dick".

As the married lawyers help Vivi, Blake feels her relationship with Harry is in trouble since he became distant while fostering his plans for a Senate run. When Blake's high school boyfriend Sonny Bartholomew works the investigation, she finds herself dreaming of what if.

The Sassy Belles is an enjoyable Alabama story starring Steel Magnolias and the men who appreciate their strengths and ignore their weaknesses if they want to remain with them. Although the behavior of the two attorneys after learning that Vivi failed to call the cops or 911 seems over the top of Bear Bryant Stadium, readers (except Auburn fans) will enjoy this fast-paced amusing Crimson Tide tale.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer


Laurel's Bookshelf

Gradually the World: New and Selected Poems, 1982-2013
Burt Kimmelman
BlazeVOX Publishing
131 Euclid Ave., Kenmore NY 14217
9781609641344, $18.00, www.amazon.com

Rare, powerful, graceful, delicate, and luminescent are words used by critics to describe Kimmelman's poetry. He's earned such words of praise for decades by generously sharing what his eyes see and his mind imagines. Kimmelman doesn't simply tell readers about life. He allows us to experience the journey with him through the changing colors and textures of time.

In this book, I traveled well-worn ancient paths with the poet and marveled at everyday wonders. Through his words, the simple quiet of morning or patterns of light on water became pure visions in my mind. I visited exotic climes, experienced the poet's raw desires, tender sorrows, and small triumphs. Stunning metaphors surprised and delighted me. The old masters provided art that inspired poetry so vivid I could see the paintings through Kimmelman's words.

Whether you've been reading poetry all your life or just recently discovered that pleasure, Burt Kimmelman's work is highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer


Lorraine's Bookshelf

Complete Warm-Up for Classical Guitar
Gohar Vardanyan, author
Mel Bay Publications Inc.
PO Box 66, Pacific, MO 63069
9780786685028, $8.99, www.melbay.com

"Complete Warm-Up for Classical Guitar" is a collection of classical guitar exercises divided into arpeggios, scales, tremolo, and slurs. Written in narrated standard notation by acclaimed classical guitarist and teacher Gohar Vardanyan, "Complete Warm-Up for Classical Guitar" contains 18 pages of helpful exercises including the Etude No. 5 by Mauro Giuliani, modified for tremolo, plus two other etudes featuring arpeggios and multiple scales, exercises, and chromatic patterns. Helpful general instructions, suggested fingerings, and other secret techniques and tips are presented in this useful manual for classical guitarists of medium to advanced skills. Also recommended from this premier sheet music publisher are the following music educational texts: "First Lessons Bongo (9780786684991, $9.99)" by Trevor Salloum (book and CD), and "Romance Variations (9780786685011, $19.99, book and CD)," by Rico Stover, for classical guitar.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer


Mason's Bookshelf

Kitten With a Whip/Kiss Her Goodbye
Wade Miller
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
www.starkhousepress.com
9781933586519, $19.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: KITTEN WITH A WHIP You could always blame it on the heat.... David Patton wakes to a real San Diego scorcher. His wife Virginia and daughter Katie are visiting his mother-in-law in San Francisco, giving him a wild sense of freedom for the weekend. What he doesn't expect this overheated morning is to find a teenage runaway rummaging through his daughter's bedroom. Jody Drew is just 17 but already knows the power she has over men. David tries to be the gentleman and give her the break she's never had but Jody doesn't want David's help--she wants David. Not only him, but his home, his money, and a chance to kick back at life. She knows the buttons to push to keep him in line and she's not afraid to use them. Jody's got the whip and David is headed for a weekend in Hell. KISS HER GOODBYE The first time it happens they are living in Oregon: she hits a kid with a rake when he tries to get fresh. The next time is in Bakersfield, and it's even worse. Something went on, because when Ed gets home, Emily has blood on her clothes that isn't hers. Now they're on the run and all Ed wants to do is settle down and keep his sister safe. But it isn't easy when Emily is mentally only a child, with a body that is all woman. Headed East, they stop in the town of Jimmock, looking for a new home. That's when they meet Tubbs, a large man with an even larger heart... and Marge, looking for something maybe only Ed can give her. And there's Cory, who is just looking for trouble--and doesn't know it when he sees it.

Critique: Gritty noir mystery thrillers at their very best, "Kitten With a Whip/Kiss her Goodbye" showcases. Wade Miller is the pen name of two collaborators: Bob Wade (1920-2012) and Bill Miller (1920-1961) who between them wrote 33 books together in the course of their literary career. Highly recommended reading, these two stories are solid entertainment. Mystery fiction enthusiasts would be well rewarded with a visit to the Stark House Press web site for a complete listing of their available titles in the Stark House Noir Classics series.

The Alpha Paradox
Jeffrey King
FriesenPress
Suite 300 - 852, Fort Street
Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 1H8
9781770979253, $23.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: While on brackish waters in coastal Georgia, two experienced fisherman mysteriously disappear. Soon after, a mother loses her child to an unexplainable illness. Are the two events linked? Mark Turner, an intimidating marine patrol officer and lifetime resident of Savannah, Georgia, believes so and senses that something is terribly wrong in his beloved coastal community. Meanwhile, a young graduate student, Justin Thompson, stumbles upon several clues that something disturbing is indeed afoot. Justin, a doctoral candidate conducting research in Georgia's estuaries, is fascinated with science and an excellent student. However, he wrestles with self-doubt, indecision, and the need to strike a balance in life. A twist of fate soon forges a unique friendship between Mark and Justin. With pressure mounting, the two must quickly discover the cause for a growing pandemic. Only one question remains. Will they find the answer in time?

Critique: This is author Jeffrey King's debut novel and clearly marks him as a talented writer with the literary knack for creating a truly memorable and entertaining story that will linger in the mind long after the book is closed and set back upon the shelf. Highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library contemporary fiction collections. It should also be noted that "The Alpha Paradox" is available in a hardcover (9781770979246, $34.99) and a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Fracking Pennsylvania
Walter M. Brasch
Greeley & Stone Publishers, LLC
www.greeleyandstone.com
9780942991161, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Horizontal fracturing, better known as fracking, is the process of injection as much as seven million gallons of water, propants (like silica sand), and toxins into the earth to fracture the shale and extract methane. Author and journalist Walter M. Brasch readily acknowledges that the engineering to create fracking may be one of the most significant works of science of the latter twentieth century. Politicians want natural gas companies to come into their states, because of the numbers of well-paying jobs the industry create, and the lower costs of natural gas to the consumer. "Fracking Pennsylvania" investigates those claims, as well as an extensive look at the money trail between the industry and the politicians' campaign receipts. Combining both scientific evidence and extensive interviews with those affected by fracking throughout the country, "Fracking Pennsylvania" concludes that errors made by the natural gas industry as well as the process itself have caused significant public health and the environmental problems that also affect agriculture, wildlife, and livestock.

Critique: More and more evidence is piling up as to the enduring environmental hazards of 'fracking' as a means of extracting petroleum and natural gas from beneath the earth. Informed and informative, "Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster" should be considered mandatory reading by environmentalists and politicians, but most especially by non-specialist general readers with an interest in protecting American ground water for the sake of the children, their grandchildren, and so many generations to come. Simply stated, "Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster" should be a core addition to all community and academic library Environmental Issues reference collections.

Midnight In Hell
Jackson Andrews
Far Stone Books
c/o Granny's Books Publishing House
1152 Highway 70-A, Wilson, OK 73463
9780791861173, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: An ex-Navy SEAL, Deputy Jake Hunter and his partner flush a scumbag holed up in a Lake Thunderbird cabin after gunning down two Oklahoma City police officers. Convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder, the Goth killer is sprung just before sentencing; Jake is hurt in a wild car chase and after rehab, joins his family in southern Oklahoma. Just as he is settling in, troubles begin...

Critique: A superb example of a paranormal romance and suspense thriller, author Jackson Andrews' "Midnight In Hell" grabs the readers total and rapt attention from beginning to end and documents the author as a first class novelist and wordsmith. Of special note is Andrews' ability to create narrative dialogues with an authentic Southern Oklahoma tone and cadence. "Midnight In Hell" is a wonderfully entertaining read and highly recommended for personal and community library collections. It should also be noted that "Midnight In Hell" is available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Madhouse Fog
Sean Carswell
Manic D Press
PO Box 410804, San Francisco, CA 94141
www.manicdpress.com
9781933149752, $15.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After a thirty-something altruistic punk rocker fleeing a troubled marriage is hired for a grant-writing job at a southern California psychiatric hospital, he quickly gets entangled in a neuropsychiatrist's mysterious research into the collective unconscious, and becomes romantically involved with a former patient.

Critique: "Madhouse Fog" is author Sean Carswell's metaphysical thriller populated with truly memorable characters set in a distinctly picturesque town on the Pacific coast. Deftly written, "Madhouse Fog" showcases Carswell's undeniable and unique literary talent and is highly recommended for summer reading lists and community library contemporary fiction collections.

Going The Distance
Michael Joyce
Excelsior Editions
c/o State University of New York Press
State University Plaza
Albany, NY 12246-0001
www.sunypress.edu
9781438447988, $24.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: John 'Jack' Flynn was a major league pitcher with an all-star promise whose career in professional football is cut short by an injury and finds himself in the North Country of New York with no recollection of how he came to be there or who the beautiful woman is who is sitting next to him in a car. "Going The Distance" is a journey of discover for Flynn on several levels -- including learning how to love.

Critique: Michael Joyce is no ordinary author, but a Professor of English and Media Studies at Vassar College. "Going The Distance" is a deftly written, intelligent, articulate, involved and involving novel that acquires the reader's total attention from beginning to end. Populated with memorable characters and unexpected story twists and turns, "Going The Distance" is a rewarding read and highly recommended for community library contemporary fiction collections.

Confession
Richard Freis
Sartoris Literary Group
c/o MM Book Publicity
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274
Nashville, TN 37203
9780988947412, $19.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A novel of psychological suspense set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast "Confession" features protagonist George Burden, a distinguished attorney who finds himself at a crossroads as he approaches his 55th birthday. From outward appearances, it seems George is living an enviable life. But even with his devoted wife, affluent lifestyle, social prominence, successful career, and beautiful family, George is dogged by the worry that the choices he made were too easy and too safe. His choice to begin an affair with Becca Talbot is anything but easy - and decidedly unsafe. A young woman who works in his law firm, Becca is a divorcee with a five-year-old son - and younger than George's youngest daughter. But for George, the affair is far more than just physical: he falls deeply in love with Becca. During one passionate noon encounter at a local hotel, George announces that he wants to leave his wife and asks Becca to marry him. When Becca rejects his proposal, George becomes enraged, and when he later sees Becca with an unknown young man, he becomes obsessed with convincing Becca to marry him - and demystifying the ambiguities of Becca's life. But that quest will lead George down a precarious path. Lust, jealousy, rage, and envy are on a collision course - and even in the present day, George's past begins to bubble to the surface. When a violent confrontation ensues, George will not only learn the truth about Becca, he will learn the truth about himself. Might some secrets best be kept secret?

Critique: A riveting novel from beginning to end, "Confessions" is a first class psychological thriller and marks author Richard Freis has having an impressive literary talent for creating memorable characters, 'cliff hanger' suspense elements, and an extraordinarily compelling story. "Confessions" is highly recommended reading for psychological thriller enthusiasts and would make a popular addition to community library contemporary fiction collections. It should be noted that "Confessions" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Extra Indians
Eric Gansworth
Milkweed Editions
1011 Washington Avenue South, #300
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1246
www.milkweed.org
9781571310798, $16.00, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Every winter, Tommy Jack McMorsey watches the meteor showers in northern Minnesota. On the long haul from Texas to Minnesota, Tommy encounters a deluded Japanese tourist determined to find the buried ransom money from the movie Fargo. When the Japanese tourist dies of exposure in Tommy Jack's care, a media storm erupts and sets off a series of journeys into Tommy Jack's past as he remembers the horrors of Vietnam, a love affair, and the suicide of his closest friend, Fred Howkowski. Exploring with great insight and wit the ways images, stereotypes, and depictions intersect with, Extra Indians offers a powerful glimpse into contemporary Native American life.

Critique: "Extra Indians" is a deftly written entertainment from first page to last and clearly documents the literary talent of author Eric Gansworth. It's unusual for a novel to be as entertaining as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. But such is the case for "Extra Indians" which is highly recommended for summer reading and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library contemporary fiction collections. It should also be noted that "Extra Indians" is available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Five Stages Of Collapse
Dmitry Orlov
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189
Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, V0R 1X0
www.newsociety.com
9780865717367, $19.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor's Toolkit", Dmitry Orlov posits a taxonomy of society's collapse, offering a surprisingly optimistic perspective on surviving the sweeping changes of the day with health and sanity intact. Arguing that it is during periods of disruption and extreme uncertainty that broad cultural change becomes possible, Orlov steers the reader through the challenges of financial, commercial, and political collapse. He suggests that if the first three stages are met with the appropriate responses, further breakdown may be arrested before the extremes of social and cultural collapse are reached.

Drawing on a detailed examination of post-collapse societies, including the Somali people of Africa, the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe, and even the Russian mafia, "The Five Stages of Collapse" describes successful adaptations in areas such as finance, self-governance, and social and cultural organization. 'Real world' case studies provide a unique perspective on the characteristics that determine highly resilient communities.

Critique: Informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, practical, and occasionally iconoclastic, "The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor's Toolkit" is highly recommended reading for anyone concerned with surviving catastrophic disruptions of our country, economy, and culture such as almost occurred with the near financial collapse of 2008. Deftly written, deserving of the widest possible readership, and also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99), I urgently recommended that "The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor's Toolkit" be a part of every academic and community library collection.

Foxes In The Vineyard: Templars, Nazis, and the Battle for Jerusalem
Michael J. Cooper
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
News & Experts (publicity)
3748 Turman Loop, Suite 101
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
9781462063086, $18.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In April of 1948, Boston University history professor Evan Sinclair receives a telegram notifying him that his father, Professor Clive Robert Sinclair, has been reported missing from his post at the Palestine Archaeological Museum. Fearing for his father's well-being, Evan and Clive's longtime friend, Mervin Smythe, travel to Palestine on the eve of the first Arab-Israeli War. Evan finds his father and far more-a lost love, a son he never knew he had, and covert elements of the Third Reich positioned in Palestine before the end of World War II. Having infiltrated both Arab and Jewish populations, the Nazis seek to use counter-intelligence and terror to stoke the fires of hatred and fear between Arabs and Jews. The goal is to drive the British from Palestine and to seize Jerusalem as the capital of a reborn Third Reich with the legendary Knights Templar treasure as plunder and the Temple Mount as their fortress. To defeat them, Evan finds that he must risk everything.

Critique: It is readily apparent that author Michael J. Cooper pays close attention to getting historical details and backgrounds as he crafted a riveting story and populated it with deftly created characters both fiction and historical. "Foxes In The Vineyard" is highly recommended for both personal summer reading lists and community library Historical Fiction collections.

Chain of Evidence
D. B. Corey
Intrigue Publishing
10200 Twisted Stalk Court
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
9780989369602, $16.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Moby Truax is an aging cop working a case that could make a cop's career. The problem is, his career is over. Truax struggles with the toll the years have taken, a condition not lost on his young captain who searches for a reason to replace him. He partners Truax with a rookie FBI agent to assist in the search for a killer of women, but in reality, uses the agent as a source of information, to validate the removal of his most elderly detective.

Critique: Author D. B. Corey's debut novel, "Chain Of Evidence", reveals a remarkable talent for the suspense/thriller genre of mystery fiction. Readers will appreciate the deftly crafted characters vividly embedded the high-action storyline laced with surprise twists and turns. Appreciative readers will look eagerly toward Corey's next literary effort! Appropriate for community library collections, "Chain Of Evidence" is a highly recommended and thoroughly entertaining read.

Island of the White Rose
R. Ira Harris
Bridge Works
c/o MM Book Publicity
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274
Nashville, TN 37203
9780981617558, $24.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Island of the White Rose" is set amid the Castro revolution in Cuba, is one of adventure and intrigue, of armed struggle and forbidden love, as the Batista dictatorship is overthrown. It also is a story of conscience and idealism succumbing to reality and disillusionment. Father Pedro Villanueva, 34, son of an upper-middle class Havana family, is initially non-political, and more at ease sailing at the elite Havana Yacht Club than performing his priestly duties. Still, he chafes at his church's silence amid the Batista regime's brutality. He chafes also at the life imposed on him by his priestly vows of celibacy. To free a parishioner's son from La Cabana prison, he and his brother Alberto bribe guards at the prison. The prisoner is released, but Pedro's brother is killed during the handover. Pedro joins with the underground to support the Fidelistas fighting in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

One of the women who helps lead him down that path is the sexy Dolores Barre, leader of an underground Havana cell and future wife of one of Castro's lieutenants. Another who will affect his life is Maria Guerra, a disaffected government official. Dolores and Maria persuade Pedro first to obtain medicines for the rebels, later to smuggle arms to them aboard his family's 40-foot sloop, The White Rose (named after a poem by Jose Marti, a 19th Century national hero, in which the white rose symbolizes Cuba and its brightest aspirations). As Pedro's involvement with the revolution grows, taking him into the mountains, gun in hand, his priestly ethics are abandoned. His celibacy vows also are left behind. After Batista flees the country and Castro's forces take power, Pedro - his core beliefs sacrificed - sees people close to him slowly realize they have fought a right-wing dictatorship only to witness a dictatorship of the left replace it. Some now are demonized as counter-revolutionaries. The White Rose, with Pedro at the helm, secretly slips off on a new mission.

Critique: Author Ira Harris writes with a dramatic flair, creating memorable characters for a page-turner of a novel that will grip the reader's total and rapt attention from beginning to end. Attention Hollywood! -- Of special note is the historical detail embellishing a storyline that could well serve as the structure for a dynamic action/adventure film. An ideal addition to community library collections, "Island of the White Rose" is a thoroughly entertaining and highly recommended read that is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

Evaluation of PEPFAR
Institute of Medicine, et al.
National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
www.nap.edu
9780309267809, $98.00, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The U.S. government supports programs to combat global HIV/AIDS through an initiative that is known as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This initiative was originally authorized in the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 and focused on an emergency response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic to deliver lifesaving care and treatment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with the highest burdens of disease. It was subsequently reauthorized in the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (the Lantos-Hyde Act). Evaluation of PEPFAR makes recommendations for improving the U.S. government's bilateral programs as part of the U.S. response to global HIV/AIDS. The overall aim of this evaluation is a forward-looking approach to track and anticipate the evolution of the U.S. response to global HIV to be positioned to inform the ability of the U.S. government to address key issues under consideration at the time of the report release.

Critique: Prepared as a join project by the Committee on the Outcome and Impact Evaluation of Global HIV/AIDS Programs Implemented Under the Lantos-Hyde Act of 2008; the Board on Global Health; the Youth, and Families Board on Children; and the Institute of Medicine, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, this compendium of information is exceptionally well organized and should be considered a core addition to academic, governmental, and NGO Health & Medicine reference collections in general, and the supplemental reading lists for HIV/AIDS studies in particular.

Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement: 1970-2010
Paul Thompson, CUDE
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
No ISBN, $19.99, www.lulu.com

Synopsis: Nearly 100 million Americans belong to a credit union. Rich in anecdote and interviews with major credit union figures, "Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement: 1970-2010" explores in detail how U.S. credit unions developed from small niche players in the economy to mainstream financial institutions during the period 1970-2010. This period posed major economic challenges to credit unions, starting with the Great Inflation of the 1970s and closing with the Great Recession of late 2007-2009. "Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement: 1970-2010" explores how they survived and flourished by following their cooperative philosophy of service to members.

Critique: This is a detailed economic history of a significant community financial institution. Often the local credit union is more accessible and provides a more economical service to its members within the context of their communities than the large national corporate chain banks do to their customers. Informed and informative, "Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement: 1970-2010" is highly recommended for community and academic library reference collections. One big drawback is that it is privately published with no ISBN number making it difficult to create a purchase order. But it can be obtained directly from the Lulu.com web site.

Fade To Black
Jeffrey Wilson
JournalStone
c/o MM Book Publicity
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274
Nashville, TN 37203
9781936564859, $16.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jack is a young man caught between two terrifying worlds. In one, he is Marine Sergeant Casey Stillmam, locked in combat in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq. He is lying next to his dead and dying friends, bleeding in the street - until he wakes up at home, in bed with his wife. In this other world, Jack is a high school science teacher, husband, and devoted father to his little girl. But the nightmares of war continue to haunt him, and to Jack/Casey they feel in many ways more real than his life at home with his family. When news of killed Marines in Fallujah surface, Jack realizes he knows far more about these men then he should. But, when the dead Marines begin visiting him while he is awake-he realizes he is in serious trouble. Faced with the possibility of losing his mind, or far worse, the nightmares being real, Jack knows he must somehow find a way to bridge the two realities and fight his way back from the nightmares to save his wife and little girl.

Critique: "Fade To Black" is the kind of novel whose realism and deftly written story rapidly engage the reader's total attention from beginning to end. Author Jeffrey Wilson clearly has a knack of crafting memorable characters and embed them into a novel that blends war time combat with a kind of supernatural suspense that is as riveting as it is entertaining. Very highly recommended, it should also be noted that "Fade To Black" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.00).

The Christmas Tin
Roderick J. Robison
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781479271498, $8.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jesse Maclean is concerned that the commercialism of the holidays has distracted his daughter from the real reason why Christmas is celebrated. He determines to tell his daughter a Christmas story. One that conveys the true meaning of the holiday. And he knows just the story. The year is 1968 and Jesse's father is serving a tour in Vietnam. Jesse and his mother are struggling to make ends meet. He gives little thought to the approaching holidays. That changes however, when he is befriended by Ardella Calder, an elderly customer on his paper route. During a visit, the woman shows Jesse her Christmas Tin. Inside it are gifts from her most memorable Christmases. As she tells Jesse the stories behind the gifts, he slowly comes around. But just when things are looking up, the Macleans receive a telegram with dire news about Jesse's father. It is during this time that Ardella tells Jesse a final story, a poignant, war time holiday story. A story to guide Jesse through his grief and show him that sometimes faith and hope can bring light to even the darkest of places.

Critique: With his debut novel, "The Principal's Son", author Roderick J. Robison shown that he has a particular knack for writing an engaging children's book that will appeal to and entertain readers of all ages. So it is with his second novel, "The Christmas Tin". An especially appropriate read during the Christmas season, "The Christmas Tin" would make a popular addition to personal, family, and community library collections. It should also be noted that "The Christmas Tin" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Grisly-Bar Crossing
Daniel T. Denman
Amethyst Moon Publishing
PO Box 87885, Tucson, AZ 85754
9781935354468, $12.99, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Never before had four, female, foreign operatives been kidnapped on American soil! And now, one by one, the attractive heroines were found dismembered at the Crossing. Several FBI teams were investigating these terrifying murders-copycat crimes of yesteryear. The killings were so foul, so grisly, the town had been named Grisly-Bar Crossing after these unspeakable, resurfacing murders! Two FBI teams advanced on the mansion that held the abducted agents and their captors: a nearly mad woman seeking revenge and her crafty daughter. The villains planned to use the agents as bait. What they could not understand was why the military was so interested in the powerful force their heir had left behind-a force that would alter wars forever! Prior to this vengeful plot, 6,000 Americans had received an unusual warning in the form an identical dream! All recorded and repeated the revelation verbatim and became known as the dream keepers. Some feared they would be labeled "insane," but many were so disturbed by the dream, they contacted their doctors. A consortium of the medical field viewed so many people professing an identical dream as a real concern. The dream keepers were trying desperately to convince the government and media to release their unified vision. One adamant psychologist (herself a dream keeper) told a newscaster, "It doesn't make sense! To NOT warn others is . . . is ludicrous!" Miraculously, the scientific and religious communities were in agreement and were trying to discuss the implications of the common, shared dreams. Simplified, the dream claimed: every six months until America wakes up and realizes it was once a blessed nation, an increasing earthquake will 'rock your very souls!' Time was running out; there were only two weeks until the first predicted quake would take place. Who delivered this dream and how was it sent? Was this a grand hoax or were too many humans not interested enough to care? Moral decline caused greed and loss for millions, and hope seemed to be one of America's old adages. There were those who saw this shared dream as revitalization of their once great country, and to the wise individuals, extraordinary achievements were possible. Key in avoiding disaster would be unified acceptance to change. The dream demanded change! Would American citizens see, understand, and accept the lesson?

Critique: It takes a truly talented author to pull of a trilogy of novels featuring running characters. Daniel T. Denman is clearly one of those writers as documented by "Grisly-Bar Crossing", the second in a three volume set highlighting the mystery solving, dangerous adventures of lovely and exceedingly competent female FBI agents. Also highly recommended is the first in this promising trilogy of original novels, "Weaver's Beam" (9781935354185, $12.99). On the basis of these first two deftly penned suspense novels, Denman's readers will look eagerly toward the third and concluding volume of this outstanding series.

Denial
Gary Michael Blahnik
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
www.gmichaelblahnik.com
9781461002833, $12.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In his youth Joseph Voke developed severe tension headaches whenever he involved himself with a female. He diagnosed the problem: repressed anger and resentment. And he employed a solution: recognize the anger/resentment when it happens, accept it for what it is, and then let the other people involved know about it. It worked: it cleared up his headaches. So at age 25 he vowed to employ this same method to his shyness toward people for whom he felt affection. Unfortunately for Joseph Voke, this included women. This is the story of struggling college instructor who let himself feel affection for three women other than his wife. Though he had not lost affection for his wife, nor had he any intention of replacing her with any of these other women, he nevertheless could not deny his affection for them. The novel chronicles the events that lead Joseph Voke, a personally very honest though professionally relatively unsuccessful man, to near psychological destruction as his affections for three women set off a string of events that splits his universe in half: one half aligning with his wife, her family and friends, and the medical profession; the other half aligning with his own view of himself. His self image of man wishing to overcome his shyness and deal honestly with his feelings is severely challenged by his wife's view of him as a man with a chemical imbalance and by the psychological profession's view of him as a man suffering from a psychological disorder. Throughout the book Voke analyzes himself and his situation through his interaction with St. Augustine, representing a Christian response to his behavior, Charles Darwin, representing an evolutionary explanation, Sigmund Freud, representing the psychological side, and finally Socrates, representing his philosophical self and his place in society. These characters aid him in his self-analysis and provide the reader with a good deal of comic relief as Joseph Voke's personality comes undone. This novel tragically and satirically shows how men and women have collaborated to create systems of mass delusion, how fear distorts perception to the point of denial and divorce or, depending upon one's interpretation of the novel, how guilt distorts self-perception to the point of denial of one's true nature.

Critique: Gary Michael Blahnik is an author familiar to the Midwest Book Review from his early and highly recommended literary efforts with respect to his debut novel "The Queen of Spades" (9781456577506, $12.95) and a serious work in the field of psychology, "Emotional Investment" (9781461100799, $21.95). Now he has once again demonstrates his storytelling skills in a compelling new novel that crafts memorable characters and offers a unique plot with psychological aspects. A compelling read from beginning to end, "Denial: A Tale of Love, Sex, and Modern-Day Madness" is highly recommended as a psychologically suspense novel that is complex, articulate, and reliably entertaining.

Take Wing and Fly Here
Priyanka Kumar
Sherman Asher Publishing
c/o Western Edge Press
126 Candelario Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
www.westernedgepress.com
9781890932442, $15.95, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: J.K. is juggling a Big Year race - to see the most number of bird species in L.A. County in one year - with trying to complete a doctorate in physics. Rick, the president of the bird society, is nipping at J.K.'s heels in the Big Year count, always just two or three bird sightings behind him. As Trip Chair, J.K. is also under pressure to organize birding trips for the society. A Big Year is a "race against time," and as the year unfolds, J.K. finds it harder to concentrate on the last important paper he needs to publish to get his Ph.D. Yet he desires a postdoctoral position at Princeton, which would also keep his East-Coast girlfriend Anne Marie happy. With the Alpena Bird Society near bankruptcy as it stumbles into its Centennial year, and its members interested only in gawking at birds, Hospitality Queen Karen decides that the senseless killing of cowbirds in Joss Canyon, Alpena's last remaining wild land, must stop. Karen starts out with the bird society as an outlet for her ten-year-old son who has a birding mania, but as the novel progresses she's more and more frustrated by the society's lackadaisical approach to its Centennial and to bird conservation. That J.K.'s girlfriend is not a birder hasn't been a big problem so far, but as the Big Year draws to a close, the stresses on their relationship begin to show. J.K. counts on his physics supervisor to mentor his postdoctoral search, but his job prospects grow bleak. Rick's problem is that his wife Meg is suspicious of Karen's interest in Rick and jealous of the time he spends Big Year birding. Rick spends much energy on Machiavellian ruminations about how to indulge his passion for the Big Year while placating Meg. Karen does have a special fondness for Rick, but she's busy saving the cowbirds in Joss Canyon, which is now threatened by developers. Meanwhile J.K.'s "safety net" begins to dismantle until he discovers that he doesn't have the support structure to achieve the success he'd hoped for. Disappointed, J.K. retreats to the mountains. But he has one last promise to keep - to attend the bird society's Centennial.

Critique: "Take Wing And Fly Here" is an articulate, erudite, passionate, compelling read from first page to last. Clearly author Priyanka Kumar is as talented a novelist as he is a writer, director, and producer of documentaries (see "The Song of the Little Road"). A superb read and highly recommended for personal summer reading lists and community library contemporary fiction collections.

Jack Mason
Reviewer


Micah's Bookshelf

Living Well with Chronic Illness
Richard Cheu
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th Street, Ste H
Indianapolis, IN 46268
c/o Janet Appel Public Relations (publicity)
205 West 54 Street, New York, NY 10019
www.ChronicLivingWell.com
9781457513435 $16.95 www.dogearpublishing.net

Living Well With Chronic Illness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide lives up to its title, with guidelines for applying positive psychology and personal spirituality to improve one's attitude, motivation, and will to resolve problems when coping with chronic illness. Chapters discuss how to take control of negative emotions such as shock, stress, and grief; let go of excess baggage; overcome loneliness; draw inspiration from others; and much more. "...fear that comes from an actual experience like an MRI is self-reinforcing - the experience teaches you to fear other similar incidents or environments, like hospitals and doctors. But anything that you learn can be unlearned. Any fear can be modified or gotten rid of, if that is your desire. The effort required to let go of the fear associated with a threat will depend on how many times you have experienced the threat and the magnitude of the threat." A handful of consumable worksheets and question prompts encourage the reader to internalize the lessons and rethink how to turn around his or her attitudes. Highly recommended.

Micah Andrew
Reviewer


Richard's Bookshelf

Smith Wigglesworth
Smith Wigglesworth
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403343, $16.99

A Year of Devotional Readings Gleaned from the Sermons and Writings of Smith Wigglesworth

"Smith Wigglesworth: On Manifesting the Divine Nature, Abiding in Power Every Day of the Year" is a treasure trove of carefully selected readings from sermon material and the writings of Smith Wigglesworth. These daily devotional readings contain over 360 "nuggets of truth" which encourage the reader to be quickened by the Holy Spirit's fullness, to be permeated with righteousness, and empowered for a life of service and ministry.

Wigglesworth draws lessons from the Old Testament Writings of Moses, Job, David, Solomon, and Joshua as well as the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Joel. He also introduces truths from the writings of the Gospel writers, the Apostle Paul, Peter, and James. These passages contain important foundational truths that will build your faith in the supernatural power of God, and open your understanding of signs, wonders, and Kingdom authority.

Smith Wigglesworth is recognized for his example of living out the supernatural Christian faith of which he spoke. His life demonstrated such a powerful example that he became an important pioneer in the Pentecostal movement that influenced the Charismatic renewal. "Smith Wigglesworth: On Manifesting the Divine Nature" is worthy of the attention of Christians everywhere desirous of experiencing a more meaningful daily walk and ministry.

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

Invading Babylon: The 7 Mountain Mandate
Lance Wallnau and Bill Johnson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403350, $ 14.99

Taking the Gospel to the Marketplace with Authority, Power, and Promise

Selected Writings from Lance Wallnau, Bill Johnson, Alan Vincent, C. Peter Wagner, Che' Ahn, and Patricia King, capture the foremost elements needed to shape and influence culture in "Invading Babylon: The 7 Mountain Mandate."

Bill Johnson asserts that "You must first understand that you are called and equipped..." Lance Wallnau carefully lays a foundation and for invading and transforming a culture through reaching the influencers in business, education, the church, the family, in arts and entertainment, science and medicine, the media, and in government. He also presents a strategy to transform the city, region, and nation and ultimately the world with the Gospel of Christ.

By following Jesus' example of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom we are equipped and empowered to turn the world upside down to see dramatic cultural transformation. He shows how there important it is to include the Church, the Gospel, and Culture to fulfill the Kingdom mission. Alan Vincent and Che' Ahn introduces the importance of prayer and spiritual warfare in an allegory for occupying the gates of the heavenly city and the 7 mountain mandate. C. Peter Wagoner emphasizes that "Once the spiritual gates have opened to us, we need great wisdom to steward and distribute the resources God funnels our way." King warns of the danger of the media and the unhealthy influence filling the airwaves.

"Invading Babylon: The 7 Mountain Mandate" is a relevant and timely collection of important truths for influencing our culture is these turbulent times. Highly recommended.

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

The Biggest and Brightest Light: The Magic of Helping Others
Marilyn Perlyn
Illustrated by Amanda Perlyn
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992
Bandon, Oregon 97411
9781934759752, $17.95, www.amazon.com

Reaching Out to Make Your World a Better Place

Muhammad Ali captures the essence of the message of "The Biggest and Brightest Light: The Magic of Helping Others" in his foreword to the book. Ali compares the light of the Olympic flame to acts of caring and kindness as "kindling a light in another to reach out and make a difference in someone's life."

Marilyn Perlyn writes the true story of her of six year old daughter Amada's experience in reaching out to her first grade teacher, Dr. Malko. Amanda's spirit and acts of compassion inspired others to join her in extending care and concern as well.

When Dr. Malko told of her daughter Elena's illness and the costly medical expenses Amada unselfishly considered what she might do to help. Since this happened in the month of December Amanda made and sold holiday ornaments to help meet the need.

Dr. Malko's words of appreciation, "...when children do such special deeds, they are like angels, thank you my little angel" gave Amanda a contagious inner feeling of joy and satisfaction that quickly was passed on to her family and the boys and girls of classroom and the community; demonstrating the impact a child can have in making a difference in the lives of others through acts of kindness and loving compassion. Amanda's own colorful illustrations will capture the imagination of young children ages four through eight and add to the enjoyment of the story.

"The Biggest and Brightest Light" is a unique resource for instilling this same spirit of concerned care and kindness to children in homes and classrooms around the world.

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

Lead Your Family Like Jesus
Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, and Tricia Goyer
Tyndale House Publishing, Inc.
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, Illinois 60188
9781589977204, $19.99, www.amazon.com

Family Leadership - Principles for Parenting

New York Times bestselling author Ken Blanchard collaborates with Phil Hodges, Cofounder of the organization "Lead Like Jesus, and bestselling author Tricia Goyer in the book "Lead Your Family Like Jesus." The authors begin by showing the relationship of leadership to the role of parenting. They stress the importance of following Jesus' example of servant leadership.

Meaningful practical personal examples and real life testimonies of parents illustrate the concepts discussed in each of the four parts of the book, which focus on: The heart, the head, the hands, and the habits of parenting. Each part covers three of the twelve Biblically based principles of parenting discussed throughout the narrative.

The reader friendly format suggests thoughtful probing questions designed for taking time to pause, reflect, and offers specific ways for implementation. Another unique feature is the "Points to Ponder" review of key elements included within the chapters. These are found at the end of each of the four divisions. Several clearly presented powerful teaching diagrams provide a visual means of assimilating the material, for review, application, and a deeper study.

"Lead Your Family Like Jesus" is ideal for classes on parenting, for couples, for men's accountability groups, or women Bible study classes. It is a book for parents, grandparents, family counselors and pastors. Highly recommended.

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

Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices
Cynthia Ruchti
Abingdon Press
Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426751172, 2013, $15.99, www.amazon.com

Starting Over - Inspiring Hope in the Aftermath of Heartache, Disillusionment, or Despair
Cynthia Ruchti offers the reader hope and inspiration in her book "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices." Each of the twenty-six chapters relates a dramatic story of lives that have been forever changed as a result of another person's choices.

Whatever your own circumstances you will find lessons, application, and encouragement from these heart breaking stories of abandonment, divorce, unfulfilled dreams, or financial sacrifice.
Ruchti's writing elicits empathy through her use of word pictures as she describes "a toxic relationship ending in an amputated family," or the feelings of a son's suicide as "Hints of inexplicable peace lapping against the inexplicable pain." She speaks of "tenacious joy" and of being "reverently responsive."

In addition to the thought provoking reflective questions at the end of each chapter Ruchti has included a unique feature which gives the reader helpful suggestions for consideration to reach out to family, friends, and acquaintances who may be going through a traumatic experience similar to the one described within the previous chapter.

"Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices" is a book for survivors seeking answers to the question of how to find peace and purpose and the strength to rebuild and move on. It should also be read by Christian Counselors andPastors and made available to individuals and families in crisis.

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

Murder in the Church
Chris Schimel
Crossbooks Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462714216, $13.99, www.amazon.com

The Consequences of Bad Choices and the Beauty of Forgiveness

"Murder in the Church" tells the soul searching story of the tragedy of one man's poor choices and how this impacted, his future, his family, and his church. Pastor Chris Schimel finds himself deeply intertwined in the lives of the family of one of his parishioners which involves a life threatening spiritual battle. The book is based on a true story of the events that lead to nine days of confusion, fear, and heartbreak.

Each of the nine chapters of the book relates the time line of the incidents as they happened on each of the nine days leading to the dramatic conclusion on day nine. Back story gives the reader insight into the lives the key individuals involved. Life changing lessons are summarized in a final chapter highlighting ways that will help the reader escape the hardships and consequences that accompany wrong decisions.

Schimel is a gifted story teller. In his writing he engages his reader with strong character and plot development. He uses engaging dialog and the elements of conflict and resolution to build a sense of urgency and suspense. Chris evidences an understanding of ministry, a genuine compassion for his church family, the impact of evil, and the grace of a loving, merciful God.

In "Murder in the Church" Chris Schimel captures the essence of bond of love that results in healing and forgiveness in the body of believers.

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

Elevating Excellence: Secrets to Closing the Leadership Gap
A Leadership Training Curriculum
Curtis Wallace
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403848, $129.99

A Training Resource for Pastors and Ministries Leaders

"Elevating Excellence: Secrets to Closing the Leadership Gap" is designed to help church leaders:

Build a Ministry Team - Identify and Fill the Gaps
Evaluate Present Weaknesses
Provide Tools for Communication and Interaction among the Ministry Team
Establish Ministry Goals
Develop Visionary Leaders

The Leadership kit includes a leader's guide, a participant workbook, the DVD video sessions, and Curtis Wallace's book "The Leadership Gap." Each training session is organized into three modules which follow a natural progression. (1) Speaks to the pastor, or leader, (2) Speaks to the Staff, (3) Speaks to everyone, or the corporate body or organization.

I found the "Bridge the Gap" questions in the participant's workbook pertinent and probing and the exercises to be practical and stimulating, especially in areas of establishing priority and developing relationships.

Curtis Wallace addresses these issues from a broad base of actual experience, not theory. The material is relevant for every level of management, empowering the team, building confidence, and meeting expectations.

"Elevating Excellence: Secrets to Closing the Leadership Gap" is an important training resource for: Church key leadership, everyone on the ministry team, and as a resource for seminary and Bible school students. The principles can easily be adapted for non-profit organizations or any business enterprise application as well.

A complimentary copy of this material was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer
http://richardrblake.wordpress.com


Shelley's Bookshelf

Her Brother's Keeper
Sara Hoskinson Frommer
Perseverance Press
Post Office Box 2790
McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745255, $15.95, www.amazon.com

Sara Hoskinson Frommer is a viola player in Bloomington, Indiana. Her husband is a retired professor, and the writing bug rubbed off on Ms. Frommer. She has penned seven Joan Spencer mysteries and garnered a Readers Choice Award for MURDER & SULLIVAN.

Joan Spencer is feverishly preparing for her daughter, Rebecca's wedding. The new mother-in-law is going to be a problem, and Rebecca and her intended have done their best to deflect what will surely turn into a major interference. But then Joan's estranged brother, Dave, shows up out of the blue, claiming a new familial loyalty. The trouble is, Dave has been in prison and is a con artist, with the good looks to match. But never fear, Dave is found murdered in the kitchen of the bread and breakfast home where the reception will be held. It is Dave and Joan's hometown, after all. Could it be a ghost from the distant past, or just someone Dave had robbed or injured recently?

"In her corner of the big sofa, Joan assured him that it was. Then, for the first time in years, she read her father's will again, knowing that her mother's was the same in everything that applied after they both had died. Sure enough, in addition to leaving her the house and its furniture, they had left Dave a sizable piece of land some miles from Oliver. She had a vague memory that her father had hoped to find something there of interest."

It's always fun reading about heroines married to cops, and Frommer does an excellent job of compartmentalizing the role that Joan's husband, Fred, plays in the solution to the murder. It's small town Indiana, and Joan is a small town girl with a big heart. The interplay between her brother's behavior and the mother-ion-law keeps things spicy.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer


Shirley's Bookshelf

Night Terrors
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E First Ave. #103
Scottsdale AZ 85251
9781464201295, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Dr. Daniel Rinaldi is a Psychologist and trauma expert who is called upon from the FBI to help Lyle Barnes, a retired FBI pro-filer who has night terrors. However, it should be that simple, as Barnes is also the target of an assassin who will stop at nothing to get his list of victims. If that wasn't enough for Danielle, he is pulled into another case, a terrible gruesome murder, whom the accused killers mother knows her son didn't do the crime, and seeks his help to prove it. When Barnes goes missing they are faced with a race in time to find him before he is killed. Where are the answers and who is friend or foe? Add a little romance with Detective Eleanor Lowrey and you have a big ball of yarn to unwind. What a ride.

I enjoyed this read. I will tell you I had to pay attention until I got to know the characters and the parts they were playing. This tale whips around and cuts corners sometimes taking you down some dark roads. It is packed full of mystery, questions unanswered, characters doing what they should not be doing, all coming to one amazing conclusion. It is indept reading, and definitely kept my interest. Character development was good, as was the development of the many different locals you were taken to. All in all a top notch mystery that I am pleased to recommend.

Blueberry Bubble Gum
Mahamad Ali Elfakir
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, Co 80134
9780578109787, $16.95, www.amazon.com

In this delightful tale we meet a young boy named, Max. Max seems to have a few problems, one of which is not telling the truth, and another, not following rules. Not a good thing. One day his Dad gives him a bag full of magical blueberry bubble gum, but Max may not chew it until he hears the rules. Max can't stand the wait and figures just one piece will not hurt, but to his surprise his entire world starts to change. What is happening to Max, and will he learn his lesson?

I have to say this is quite a cute book. The author takes a problem that many parents must deal with in. Author, Mahamad Ali Elfakir, finds a very fun way to teach them a memorable lesson. When Max disobeyed his parents and told yet another lie, he found himself in a situation where only learning to tell the truth and to obey the rules would get him out of. It was his choice which way to go, will he make the right decision. He meets some very interesting characters and some very scary ones as well. I giggled that the author used a 'toot' in the tale, children will giggle as well I am sure. The illustrations are excellent. They are colorful and really bring the story to life. A very fun tale with an important lesson learned. Recommended.

If You Were Me and Lived In France
Carole P. Roman
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781481032001, $12.00, www.amazon.com

I have been privileged to read and review several books in this series by author, Carole P. Roman, and I am never disappointed. Our world is getting smaller and smaller everyday and it is important for our children to understand the different cultures and learn some useful facts about those they may well interact with as time goes by. Ms. Roman has set out to do just that, and she is doing a wonderful job.

In this delightful read we are taken into the life of a French family, learn how some words are said in their language, and are shown some activities of the country; and some of their favorite foods. Yum! In others words we are allowed a peak into their lives. The read shows how much alike we all are, yet how unique as well.

I truly enjoy these books, it's like taking a mini vacation to another land and making friends along the way. The illustrations are wonderful, and definitely bring the story life. Well done. This series is a great way to introduce your young one, and yourself, to other cultures without leaving your home. The books definitely show that we are all more alike than not, without taking away the charm of each culture. I am proud to recommend this book, and the entire series. Well done, Mr. Roman, keep them coming.

Stranger's on the High Seas
Carole P. Roman
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480177222, $12.00, www.amazon.com

We are off again with another adventure with Captain No Beard and his crew in this delightful tale, "Stranger's on the High Seas," by author Carole P. Roman. It appears that Captain No Beard has a new member of his crew, Cabin Girl Cayla. He is not pleased with this because she is more of a problem than a help, or is she? When a hostel ship approaches, Captain No Beards knew they are in trouble. As it gets closer and closer, it seemed all will be lost. To all of their surprises it is, Cabin Girl Cayla, who saves the day and not in the usual way. Adorable.

This is a great read. Each page filled with colorful illustrations that pop out at you, and will definitely bring a smile to your child. I'm not giving away how they escaped from the hostel ship, but you will be amazed, if you can stop giggling that is. Well done. Recommended.

A Different Little Doggy
Heather Whittaker
Illustrated by: Scott Alberts
Pen-Tech Professional LLC
PO Box 67 Greenville, WI 54952
9780982096215, $9.99, www.amazon.com

Being different in any area often times can rattle our world, whether it is with ourselves or others. However, if we realize that being different is not bad, merely a situation that simply needs understanding and tolerance. In this well written work by author, Heather Whittaker, we meet, Taz, a wonderful little dog. Taz shares her life with the reader from being small, to having pins put in to fix her knees, and even to going blind. Taz is not one to complain, feel sorry for herself, or blame others. No, she works to overcome and live her life to the fullest. What a gal and role modal she is.

This is a wonderful book with top of the notch, colorful, and real to life illustrations that draw you right into the storyline. Using a love-able dog, our author shows how we should accept ourselves, and others for what and who we are. The story shows that just because someone may not be able to do all others can, does not make them less of a person (or doggy), nor would it make them less of a friend. It teaches acceptance and love in a warm and wonderful way. I enjoyed this read and feel it has a very important lesson for young and old, told in an upbeat and joyous manner, that will leave you feeling good inside. Well done! Recommended.

Diva Pearl Pekingese: Life After Show Biz for a Pekingese
Miss Pearl and Vicki Gattuso
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470118006, $12.95, www.amazon.com

I review a lot of books, but it isn't often that I see one with such flare as Diva Pearl gives right from the beginning. This is the story of an adorable Pekingese named, Pearl. Miss Pearl is a former Pekingese champion and recent Magazine Cover Girl for Orient Express. She has had one glamorous life, and I believe it is far from being over. This tender book tells you Pearl's life story, up to the present. It is full of stunning pictures of Miss Pearl, some with dress up outfits and quite adorable hats. We are shown where Miss Pearl lives and we also get to meet a few of her friends, human and Pekingese. This is a very sweet and tender read and I am sure you will catch yourself smiling as you page through it. Animal lovers will certainly treasure this book. Children will love to see the big bold pictures of this stunning lady, Miss Pearl.

I also enjoyed Miss Pearl's Song and Miss Pearl's Lullaby. Very well done, beautiful song about Miss Pearl and a very warm Lullaby. All of Miss Pearls pictures are stunning. She truly is a Beauty Queen.

The Amazing Adventures of Thomas and Erin with Granddad. - Butterfly World
JohnVasey
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781481873383, $9.00, www.amazon.com

This is the fifth book of an exciting, learning adventures with Granddad and his two grandsons, Erin and Thomas. On this Journey they go on a train, always a fun way to travel, to Butterfly World. It's exciting to see them sitting on flowers, flying over water, and they enjoy seeing their many different colors and sizes. To top it off they also get to view a large statue of an Ant. I think they were glad that ant was not alive.

I feel our author did a wonderful job in this read. He showed different butterfly's colors that should peak children's attention and remind them to enjoy any that may be in their area. The author showed the joy of sharing and learning, spending time with those you love, and just plain enjoying the nature round us.

This is the fifth book In Mr. Vasey's series that I have read, and each one gets a little better than the last. I enjoyed the paintings by Suzie Vasey and Osnat Almog, and the photographs by Peter Collie. All were bright and colorful and of course the characters were just as love-able as they always have been. Nice job, Mr. Vasey.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer


Taylor's Bookshelf

An Entrepreneur's Journey
Robert K. Lifton
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
c/o Author Solutions (publicity)
9781477279311 $23.99 www.authorhouse.com

An Entrepreneur's Journey: Stories From A Life In Business and Personal Diplomacy is the true-life memoir of author Robert Lifton, who partnered with a World War II hero and built a variety of successful business endeavors, from an Oscar-winning movie score to ownership of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team, landlord to Donald Trump in Atlantic City. He also served as President of the American Jewish Congress, and Co-Chair of the Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations, and duties that involved face-to-face diplomacy with Prime Ministers of Israel and heads of Arab nations. His true tales of challenges in business, foreign relations, finances, and more are as fascinating as they are enlightening. Highly recommended.

John Taylor
Reviewer


Vogel's Bookshelf

Why Try to Make Them Do It When You Can Make Them Want To?
Anthony D. Roberts
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
www.outskirtspress.com
9781478714705, $19.95, www.amazon.com

"Why Try to Make Them Do It When You Can Make Them Want To?: The Art Of Influence" provides the skills to influence people, not to make them do it, but rather, to make them want to do it. In addition to getting the desired, readers will learn to lead to through skills that will train future leaders. One of the unexpected benefits for managers and owners is that they will no longer need worry about leadership succession issues. "Why Try to Make Them Do It When You Can Make Them Want To?" is an ideal instruction manual for team building and highly recommended for anyone charged with the responsibilities of leadership whether in business or in life.

Paul T. Vogel
Reviewer


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937
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