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Graduate School on a Budget
Laura H. Gilbert
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466332959, $9.95, www.backtoschoolforgrownups.com
Education is invaluable in succeeding, and it can sometimes prove way too expensive. "Graduate School on a Budget: Define Your Life By What You Learn, Not By What You Owe" is a guide to moving towards being fiscally responsible for one's higher education career, as Laura H. Gilbert provides a complete and comprehensive guide to understanding the money behind education. Encouraging readers to choose their future not in fear of debt, "Graduate School on a Budget" is a wise and much recommended pick for those seeking the next stage of education on a budget.
Make the Shift
Beverly D. Flaxington
9780983762010, $19.95, www.amazon.com
Pushing toward success is a plan that always must be pushed forward. "Make the Shift: The Proven Five-Step Plan to Success for Corporate Teams" discusses the pursuit of greater business success, encouraging good preparation and taking advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. Written by an experienced consultant and life coach, Beverly D. Flaxington encourages business leaders to take heed and push their businesses to greater success. "Make the Shift" is a fine addition to any business studies collection.
Basic Design Principles of Architecture
Leonard S. Parker & Hijun Yu
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460992371, $58.00, www.createspace.com
Architecture is a science that has been advancing ever since humanity has been sheltering itself. "Basic Design Principles of Architecture" is an introductory to the many thoughts and developments found within architecture and how to better embrace the fundamentals and basics within. Leonard S. Parker & Hijyn Yu provide an intriguing break down of practicality and style and how modern architecture must combined these two concepts with success. "Basic Design Principles of Architecture" is a much recommended pick for those who want to gain a better understanding of why buildings are built the way they are built.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432771799, $14.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Life's too short to not enjoy it. "Keep Dancing: Life may not be the party we hoped for,/but while we are here, we might as well dance" is an inspirational guide from Rosie Giesie as she shares her experiences of dealing with grief and daring to live life to its fullest. With plenty of thought and humor spread among it all, "Keep Dancing" is filled with practical wisdom and inspiration for seniors who may be coping with the loss of somewhere dear.
9781463792664, $8.53, www.amazon.com
Happiness isn't universal. "Four D" is a collection of short stories exploring the concept of Happiness as Gregory Morrison presents characters looking to find their own answers. From finding someone who is worthy to share life with, to gain freedom, and much more. "Four D" is a fine assortment of tales, very much recommended reading.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432773885, $18.95, www.outskirtspress.com
With a blessing of new power, Jonran must set himself to get things done. "Sword Bearer: Seeds of a Legend" is a fantasy from Charles Landreth as he spins a tale of Jonran as he comes to a new world and finds that he must be the one to protect the land from an evil force. With the help of questionable allies, "Sword Bearer" is an excellent pick for lovers of fantasy.
A Satan Carol
Alan S. Kessler
Wild Child Publishing
P.O. Box 4897, Culver City, CA 90231-4897
9781617980138, $5.99, www.amazon.com
What does the Devil want? In a modern world where Satan is apparently not the only source of ills, how can Satan create a new world where he is appreciated for his powers and creations? There's only one option: to create his own Genesis, complete with his own people.
A SATAN CAROL is replete with religious themes, but is written for a secular audience - and is created in the horror genre to attract an even wider audience.
It opens in 1800s Ireland, where religious Christian Meg is starving during a famine. Her survival strategy revolves around begging rich passing coaches for money, even as her child dies and her husband has vanished. The strategy has been offered by the landlord Mr. Green, who increases her rent and makes her run for the house around her.
Her uncommon perseverance in running alongside rich coaches earns her payment and grudging respect from the English who have conquered her country, who find it easier to throw money at her and have her vanish than to face her courage and determination which beats the best of their carriage horses.
Nearly two hundred years later a teen girl in Massachusetts contemplates abortion, and the same evil Mr. Green, who moves through time on a mission, is awaiting Katie's unborn child - a boy Mr. Green knows has to die.
Mr. Green has gotten a bum rap while his younger brother Jesus was celebrated by God. In his world Hell doesn't have people and his new residency in ShinyLand7 (the other ShinyLands failed) is not by his own making, but by the choice of people who reside there.
His involvement in Katie's life and the truths he recounts to visitor Orem and to others who would understand the nature of Hell, Satan, and the unjust break God has given to Jesus' older brother makes for an involving and revealing horror story that combines spiritual reflection with humor and unusual dark insight: "Who really knows why some people get the blessing and others the curse?"
For Mr. Green not only has a purpose; he has a wife, an unexpected and not totally acceptable son in one Pal, and an ultimate plan that involves the world: "God animates flesh by putting His spirit into it using the ordinary souls He has created. Souls also link man to Dad, a phone line always dead on His end. Pal is my son, but because I'm the scorned one, the bad seed, the evil child, he didn't get a soul. Dad has always liked the idea of a son paying for the sins of his father. Even if he remains soulless, I can keep Pal alive but to what end? So he'll grow up to shovel shit in Moe Gutman's cesspool? My plan is for Pal to become a prophet! One who will foretell my coming as the messiah to this world!"
A SATAN CAROL is replete with discussions of free will and choice, and tempers its horror with religious analysis and inspection and a healthy dose of humor.
While it's hard to conveniently 'peg' the audience for A SATAN CAROL, such an audience will undoubtedly include Christian readers, horror story enthusiasts, and any who appreciate spiritual analysis in the course of a story line filled with unexpected twists and turns. It's literary spiritual horror writing at its best.
Only The Impassioned
9781465862549, $2.99, www.amazon.com
Andrew Bower is an American soldier fighting in Germany at the end of World War II. Abused as a child, he's made a vow to lead a better life - but in the course of war he experiences atrocities by the Germans, is mortally wounded, and in his final moment envisions himself stranded in a tiny nation that has escaped the war.
Tended to by nurse who takes him into her home, Andrew becomes a surrogate parent to her four children to take the place of their often-absent father, there to experience a series of metaphysical encounters which offer hope and peace in a world emblazoned with disaster.
His affection for two different women and his visions of a more peaceful world lie at the heart of a novel where the protagonist has faced conflict and battle with seemingly unending angst.
ONLY THE IMPASSIONED is filled with harsh realities, carefully preserved dreams, and an ultimate path that leads Andrew away from despair and inhumanity. It offers hope in a world burdened by war and inhumanity, and it offers the insights of people who are creators of alternate realities - as in a world where an inventor of working manikins envisions them as saviors offering their labors "in order to free humans to do more important things in life." Just what those things can be are explored in these engrossing metaphysical scenarios leading Andrew away from a world controlled by war and sadness.
Andrew's final observations lead him to face both angels and devils: "Andrew wondered how a person who had created so little love could possibly receive any. But he knew that the purest fascists from any era drew admiration from people neither kin nor peer. Andrew had come to understand this generosity. Perhaps angels of acceptance conveyed the meaning."
ONLY THE IMPASSIONED offers poetic, vivid descriptions throughout: "Her hand lightly grasped a wad of fabric, which seemed part of him. Andrew then understood that he was covered with a sheet and the sky was a ceiling with lights beneath which Andrew and his squadron moved."
It draws the reader into both Andrew's real world of conflicts and his metaphysical world where conflicts are confronted and resolved. The different choices and roads which lead to peace are presented in a series of vignettes which flow from one scenario to another, yet offer familiar characters with Andrew as the focal point.
The end result is a carefully worded and detailed series of encounters that draw the reader in and provide vivid, fine insights into the process of recovery, reconciliation and ultimately peace.
The Long Drunk
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B006B99HXK, $2.99, www.amazon.com
THE LONG DRUNK is presented in much in the manner of a noir detective novel: its detective protagonist is a homeless drunk who must solve a cold case murder to protect his friend's life and his long journey to save his canine companion offers a healthy dose of Los Angeles culture spiced with the gritty texture of Southern California's seedy side.
The alleys of Southern California provide a gritty, realistic setting to the story of a murder involving the Hollywood elite and the homeless underworld of alike.
The character Murphy is anything but your usual suave detective: homeless, alcoholic, suffering from memory issues and armed with only a cheap paperback to serve as a blueprint for detective work, he initially seems in no position to solve a long-cold murder.
He does get a little help from friends in unexpected places and when clues begin to literally drop into his lap, Murphy finds his abilities rising to the occasion.
From gourmet meals to be located in Dumpsters to a reward for problem-solving that could change his life, to the help of unusual friends, THE LONG DRUNK provides a satisfying romp packed with humor, unexpected twists of plot, and anything but your usual P.I. protagonist.
If clues in thrift stores, avid investigation of a long-cold murder scene, a hard-boozing gumshoe with a penchant for trouble, and a dual quest for justice and money are the goal, you'll find THE LONG DRUNK a quick, absorbing mystery hard to put down.
The Southern California setting is vivid and based on reality, which will delight any familiar with the region. Additionally, descriptions of characters are not only involved and deliciously realistic, but capture the atmosphere of the Southern California milieu:
"Cohen was five feet six inches tall. He wore Bruno Magli shoes, had coifed salt-and-pepper hair and a yoga-thin build made strong and sinewy from countless hours of downward dog and dolphin poses. An, $85,000 watch sculptured in 18-carat gold circled one of his wrists. A, $12 bracelet of wooden Tibetan Buddhist prayer beads hung on the other. His teeth were professionally whitened and perfect; his cologne masculine. He wore the expensive distressed clothes a forty-eight-year-old man wears when he wants to look twenty-eight and hip."
Hard-hitting, spiced with salty language and vivid descriptions and a gumshoe who is anything but mainstream, THE LONG DRUNK is a special pick for readers who enjoyed Raymond Chandler and others in the 'detective noir' vein.
Dang Near Dead
Seguin, Texas 78155
9780974770567, $4.99, www.amazon.com
Another Aggie Mundeen mystery follows closely on the heels of the lively FIT TO BE DEAD, to delight any who reveled in the feisty Aggie's prior health club challenges. Here Aggie is trying to get a vacation away from work and problem-solving, accompanied by SAPD detective Sam and friend Meredith.
They're on a journey to a Texas dude ranch and anticipate anything but another murder ("We were heading toward an unfamiliar environment, but our adventure should be fun. How many problems could arise on a dude ranch near Bandera, Texas?"); but trouble seems to too-predictably follow Aggie and what opens with her concerns about getting to know Sam without revealing her penchant for mystery-solving evolves into another investigative process that could damage any possibility of a relationship between them.
When Aggie stumbles upon the news of the deaths of the former ranch's owners - which looks innocently like a case of running out of gas in a remote area of the ranch - she at first suspects no foul play. Her attention is trained on vacation, getting to know Sam better, and upon the fellow characters who have decided to embark on a dude ranch vacation and who reside in nearby cabins.
A snake incident seems like nothing when compared to the lulling peace of the dude ranch, which increasingly seems to mask an underlying sinister atmosphere just set to strike:
"The air smelled purer than I'd ever imagined air could smell, and the humming cicadas sounded protective, like a blanket of sound lulling us into security. How could anything go seriously wrong in such a place?"
A nocturnal gunshot, a snake found gruesomely arranged in the freezer, and an evolving battle over the future ownership status of the ranch reach out and involve Aggie in a holiday that turns out to be anything but peaceful.
Unexpected twists and turns of plot are complimented by the in-depth characterization descriptions and interactions between Aggie and Sam as both come to believe something dangerous and potentially deadly is going on behind the scenes at the dude ranch: something that could not only threaten their vacation but endanger their lives.
The murder of Vicki Landsdale and a complex web of deception surrounding the event draw Aggie and Sam ever deeper into a snake pit of deception and a series of near-misses and deadly encounters that puts Aggie's detective senses on high alert.
Spiced with the ups and downs of encounters between Sam and Aggie, DANG NEAR DEAD provides a satisfying mystery that will delight any who like complex characterization and a slow-building plot that leads to a crescendo of complex interactions on many different levels.
Aggie continues to advise her column readers on how to stay youthful in summer. (Aggie evaluates anti-aging remedies at http://stayyoungwithaggie.wordpress.com).
The Firelight of Maalda
ASIN: B006V9WMIM, $2.99
The Firelight of Maalda represents Book 2 in the 'Legend of the Raie'Chaelia' trilogy, is a pick for any who enjoy fast-paced fantasy, and is a special recommendation for those who enjoyed The Raie'Chaelia, the introduction to the adventure.
Ages 13 and up - which means many an adult - will relish the continuing story of Chalice and friends, who are journeying to the city of Portalis, there to uncover the truth about a secret that has been in hiding there for hundreds of years.
The Raie'Chaelia established the setting and provided a mystery surrounding the legendary Firestone and Dar'Maalda, who has it and plans to use it. In The Firelight of Maalda, puzzles seemingly left to linger in the first novel are cleared up in the course of this ongoing saga, which explores a deepening relationship between Chalice and Jeremiah even as they face unexpected dangers and tests of their courage and abilities.
In this adventure Chalice's stubbornness will prove a distinct benefit as she comes into her abilities, discovers their usefulness, and realizes that she must hone her powers quickly if she is to survive what is to come.
A spunky protagonist who stumbles upon romance in spite of herself, a mission further linking the two, and a vivid, fast-paced story that builds quickly yet adds enough twists and turns of plot to stay satisfyingly unpredictable leads to an unexpected cliffhanger that paves the way for Book 3.
Without giving away the source of such tension, it's easy to see that any who enjoyed Book One's flavor will find this sequel expands upon characters and strengths and deepens with age and embellishment. It creates an epic saga with just the right tinge of romance and characterization to keep readers involved, and it sets the pace and high drama to create eager anticipation for what will be the final book tying all loose ends together. (The Vanishing and The Journey Begins - also available - are two novella prequels.)
The forthcoming third book, The Return, will be eagerly anticipated by any who found the first book involving and its sequel, The Firelight of Maalda, simply delightful in its scope and power.
Rand Unwrapped: Confessions of a ROBOTECH Warrior
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456543655 $16.99 www.amazon.com
Veteran voice actor and School of Theatre faculty member (University of Southern California) Frank Catalano speaks about the internal and performance choices he channeled into the character of Rand in the English dub of "The New Generation" series of the immensely popular Robotech anime (Japanese animation) in Rand Unwrapped: Confessions of a ROBOTECH Warrior. Rand Unwrapped is not primarily about the Robotech anime or its plot, but rather about the process of discovery involved in becoming a character, and pushing the limits of one's acting ability. Aspiring performance actors, voice actors, and lay readers alike will enjoy and learn from Catalano's thoughtful reflections and behind-the-scenes insights.
Diving for Carlos
William J. Jackson
9781466435674, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Heroism is never what it's cracked up to be. "Diving for Carlos: Or, Heroes Welcome Blues" follows Vietnam veteran Hector Cruz as returns home and finds that his return came with a whimper more than a parade. Through meeting with his family and other unusual characters, "Diving for Carlos" is an intriguing exploration of what many veterans feel on their return to the real world.
Lasso the Stars
L. L. Nielsen
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781613468548, $14.99, www.tatepublishing.com
As life seems to be fading, the hope you need to survive may be all in your head. "Lasso the Stars" is a novel following weakening cancer patient Dina, who has little hope for survival. When Gil enters her life, a literal angel turned cowboy, Dina finds love and hope once more, a relationship that no one around her believes is real. A spiritual romance with a thoughtful message, "Lasso the Stars" is a choice read for anyone seeking romance with a divine twist, much recommended.
Voyages of Malolo
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780615531298, $21.95, www.createspace.com
One push against the rules gives way to a worldwide journey. "Voyages of Malolo: Secret of the Rongo" is a novel set in the Polynesian islands before the influence of Europeans, as a craftsman dares to pushes the limits, and what he leaves behind sets the Hanau-mo-muku to send out some of its own on a voyage to see what lies beyond. "Voyages of Malolo" is an intriguing delve of historical fiction and the ancient Polynesian peoples, very much recommended reading.
Jamie Lynn Goldenberg
9780615574080, $14.99, www.amazon.com
Even when everything is handed to you, meaning can seem so elusive. "Finding Jolie" is a novel from Jamie Lynn Goldenberg, telling of a teenager who got everything she needed and was left unfulfilled by life. Going into the dark side of life, and the man who will try to help set her straight, "Finding Jolie" is a blend of coming of age and romance, with a bit of psychology peppered into it all to make for a very enjoyable read.
Wings of Hope
Hillary E. Peak
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466312197, $9.99, www.createspace.com
When time is short, life becomes so much more precious. "Wings of Hope" is the last minute bonding of a father and daughter, as Jules returns to her father and in her short time, learns to experience the joy that is founded between them and forge something that much more special. With humor and poignancy, "Wings of Hope" is a thoughtful and much recommended pick for general fiction collections.
9781466458826, $16.95, www.amazon.com
A revolution could solve many of the world's problems, but nothing is ever that easy. "Powerful Reactions" is a novel following Australian chemist Colin James as he discovers an entirely new power source that could alter the course of the future. They can reduce the world's dependence on oil and move to work an American motor company...but their discovery could be stopped before it gets off the ground. "Powerful Reactions" is a fine novel that discusses the energy crisis and the villains who continue it.
Freedom and Happiness: Philosophy For All
Jack E. Reinhard
9781461110347 $12.00 www.jackreinhard.com
Part self-help guide, part Libertarian political manifesto, Freedom and Happiness: Philosophy for all lives up to its title with a methodical discourse about the critical importance of freedom and how finding freedom on a wide variety of different fronts - religious and spiritual, political, in one's mental/emotional environment, and more - can lead to a better personal life as well as greater liberty for all. From improving one's personal outlook and surroundings, to actively becoming politically involved to advocate such goals as limiting or eliminating the Federal Reserve, Freedom and Happiness is a passionate, well-argued treatise offering a great deal for readers of political beliefs to mull over at length. For example, a section offering tips, tricks, and techniques for judging which candidate to vote for includes recommendations such as "Use the candidates' Web site or local appearances to tie them down on several views that seem to disagree with each other". A point-by-point outline of Libertarian philosophical and governmental tenets - from the abolition of the minimum wage to ceasing all prosecution for "victimless crimes" to reducing worldwide military involvement to the absolute minimum - is especially noteworthy in this thoughtful and accessible accounting, especially recommended to anyone interested in learning more about Libertarian ideals as applied to both public and private life.
How Angels Die
9780615503325, $14.99, www.davidmichaelharding.com
For their country, one's life is too little to pay. "How Angels Die" tells the story of two sisters who dared stand against Hitler's regime in World War II, taking their own paths to thwart the German occupation in June of 1944. Even as they work towards the same goals, they find themselves at odds in many ways, as David Harding writes a story of intrigue through war, politics, and family. "How Angels Die" is a riveting tale that should prove hard to put down.
The Boys from the Hill
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467025515, $14.99, www.authorhouse.com
With the war over, there are those who were too young to fight to face their own struggles of adulthood. "The Boys from the Hill" is a novel of youth in the late forties and early fifties as a group of young boys face the trials of manhood amid a wave of gang activity and violence. With humor and thoughtful reflection, "The Boys from the Hill" is a strong pick for historical fiction and those for looking for a story of coming of age tales.
In Our House
Peter A. Balaskas
9780615568133, $14.99, www.bardsandsages.com
A simple house can hold a whole army of terror beneath it. "In Our House: Tantalizing Tales of Terror" is a collection of short fiction from Peter A. Balaskas as he enters the arena of fear and terror, catching a bit of shock in bite sized chunks. With plenty to keep pages turning, "In Our House" is a choice addition to any short fiction or horror collection, recommended.
Event Horizon Conspiracy
Robert E. Bonson
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781465376183, $19.99, www.xlibris.com
Layers of cover ups are usually done so in blood. "Event Horizon Conspiracy" is a metaphysical thriller from Robert E. Bonson as he follows Jim Menard as he tries to hunt down the fate of his cousin and finds there are those who are trying accelerate the mysticism behind the Mayan Calender event horizon. "Event Horizon Conspiracy" is worth considering for those who seek tales of 2012 and everything around it.
Embedded in Afghanistan
9781466248816, $12.99, www.amazon.com
War can make the buddy-buddy nature of training seem all so pointless. "Embedded in Afghanistan" is a novel from Cole Kincade, as he weaves a tale of the young and idealistic Ben Kendall who has his faith and his life tested as he goes to Afghanistan and faces the struggles of what he needs to do to survive. A riveting tale of ideals under fire, "Embedded in Afghanistan" is a strong pick for topical fiction collections.
9781466446229, $12.99, www.amazon.com
You can't put life's problems behind you simply because you've retired. "Ark" is a novel from John Heldon, as he tells the story of an aging man who wants to enjoy his retirement with a few good deeds here and there for his alma mater. But life has its ways of making everything all too complicated. "Ark" is worth considering for those seeking a story of retirement going wrong.
Searching for Stanley
Kay Hughes with contributions by Harold E. Dwyer
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450295611 $27.95 www.iuniverse.com
Searching for Stanley: Unforgotten Hero of World War II is the story of a family left to ask questions after learning that their son, 2nd Lt. Stanley Dwyer, was MIA over Austria on May 10, 1944. After decades of grief and not knowing, a single question prompted them to resume the search that would lead Stanley's brother, Harold E. Dwyer, and his daughter Kay Hughes to speak with eyewitnesses and interact with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. Kay Hughes weaves the results of their quest into a vivid portrait of Stanley - as a child, as a dutiful young man, and ultimately, as a patriot who paid the highest price to defend his country. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this unforgettable life story, highly recommended.
The Wind of Life
9780986852503, $8.50, www.oliverneubert.com
When you can take to the skies, it's easy to fall into the cruelty of looking down on others. "The Wind of Life" is a unique novel of fantasy, set in a world of flyers and wanderers who are pit against one another in a feud. Timo, a young flyer, finds that the fate of peace may lie on his mediation. "The Wind of Life" is a touching read with a positive message, very much recommended reading.
9780615563435, $13.90, www.amazon.com
Deep in space, understanding one another can prove so very important to continued success. "Orb" is a science fiction novel from Gary Tarulli, as he tells about a ship going deep into space, to explore an unknown ocean planet. Kyle Lorenzo tries to understand the others on his crew and himself, finding romance and trying to understand what goes through the minds of all the others on his vessel. A story of close quarters and the psyche, "Orb" is an intriguing pick for those who like science fiction with a psychological edge.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462036837, $14.95, www.iuniverse.com
Family ties can seem all too difficult to manage. "Gorging Out" is a novel followers Roger Froehlich as he deals with his academic failure, his failed marriage, and his failing family. Trying to manage what little he has left, Roger must search for a cousin he despises and finds a web of unsavory business that includes abuse and murder. "Gorging Out" is a riveting novel of trying to face down one's problems while still doing what's right.
All Storms Pass
9780615520131, $21.95, www.lukebenoit.com
The power to change one's life lies in one's own hands. "All Storms Pass" is a book of 'anti-meditations' termed by Luke Benoit, who offers powerful and bold messages to not be considered, but embraced with gusto. Thoughtful and powerful reading that will resonate clearly and fully on many levels, "All Storms Pass" is an excellent pick for anyone looking for a way to fire their way through life.
c/o Arnold Communications
PO Box 1029, Seabrook, NH 03874-1029
9780983965992, $20.95, www.changingbehavior.org
People skills are useful everywhere. "Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills" is read for adapting one's behavior and understanding the behavior of others. Chapters also include the science of the brain and its impact on behavior, and the events that can change how one's mind works. With unique art all throughout, "Changing Behavior" is a choice pick for community library psychology and self-help collections.
Druid Dreams and Other Stories
Alfred R. Taylor
9781468029864, $8.50, www.amazon.com
The problems in our lives are simply questions we must find the answers to. "Druid Dreams and Other Stories" is a collection of short stories from Alfred R. Taylor as he presents four tales of many people facing the supernatural in their own ways, through time and facing the dead. "Druid Dreams and Other Stories" is a fine pick for those seeking an unusual assortment of short fiction, very much recommended.
Stand By Me
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595548641 $15.99 www.amazon.com
University of Arizona pre-Med student Kathryn Davies attends the Midwest Music Festival in Illinois. Following the Resurrection Band concert, Kat has given her heart to Jesus. She knows she must tell her family who will go ballistic as her DNA imprint says medicine; but she enjoys working with kids as she did with ESL students. She plans to transfer to Chicago Crista University to major in Christian Ed.
Three years later, Kat and her school friends attend the SouledOut Community Church, a multi-cultural place of worship where she meets elementary school Principal Avis Douglass. Kat's mouth gets her in trouble with Avis and others as the student's tendency to say what she thinks is grating. However, what divides the pair is their path to God as Kat is flamboyant while Avis is reserved. Still they share estrangement from loved ones; Kat from her family in Phoenix and Avis from her MIA youngest daughter.
The first SouledOut Sisters contemporary urban inspirational tale is a great story starring a strong cast especially the lead females who on the surface seem polar opposites but share two essential elements: their love for Jesus who they pray stands with them and the estrangements. Using real social issues like dumpster diving, racism and HIV, Neta Jackson provides her Yada Yada fans with a powerful tale.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307717696 $25.00 www.amazon.com
In 7 A.D. Palestine, the young boys taunt handsome seven year old Anna for looking more like a boy than a girl. Her mother Mari explains that she a boy and a girl. When Mari gives birth to a stillborn boy, Anna's dad Josef filled with anger and grief stones elderly healer Zahra to death while his daughter watched in horror. Three years later, with her dad still raging and Anna looking even more like a boy than a girl, the child wonders why a dead son is worth more than a living daughter. Josef beats his wife who soon dies and sells Anna as a boy to a visiting shepherd.
In the desert the Sisters secret sect abduct Anna from the shepherds. In their caves, they mentor her in the ancient belief "The Way," which releases dormant power within her. When the Sisters become endangered, the inner Circle sends Anna on a journey to spread the word of the Way among the people. Taking advantage of her male looking physique, she begins her missionary work, which places her at odds with the priests and the Roman overseers. By 33 A.D. in Ancient Palestine, word spreads about a Healer who walks amongst the people helping the downtrodden but refusing any gifts; while betrayal and redemption battle to claim their souls.
This is an intriguing coming of age retelling of the Jesus story starring a flawed heroine who has doubts that she is the one to spread the word of the Way to the masses as she has always been the outsider. The support cast like Judas is shone in different lights than the typical renditions. Fascinating, fans will enjoy the "truth" of Anna's journey.
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062020482 $24.99 www.amazon.com
Using Jack Australian shepherd and his retinue as a fascinating entrance into the dog show world, Josh Dean writes a delightful look into why so many people invest so much money, emotion and time on these events. His career starts with Jack appearing to be a future superstar. Over the year we get to know him and his human team up close and personal as Jack is the ticket to help us on the outside understand what motivates so many people to participate. This includes the support elements like training, breeding, hairstyling, etc.; as Mr. Dean states that these shows keep some purebred breeds alive. Occasionally attendees like me see chaos when watching a dog show, but Mr. Dean explains it is very structured and how the lay person can better observe what is going on. Jack wins first prize as he turns Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred into an enjoyable romp.
The Sound of a Scream
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786027637 $7.99 www.amazon.com
Orphan Daphne May has spent her life cloistered at Our Ladies School for Girls. Now at twenty-two years old, she leaves the convent where she met only one male in her life Father O'Donnell to ride the train to her first job as a governess in Point Woebegone, Maine. No one from Swallowtail meets her at the station, as promised. Instead a stranger takes her to a nearby inn.
Daphne is taken aback by a clown before she enters the ladies' room to find a waitress with her throat slashed. The gruesome homicide has the townsfolk angry and anxious. Meanwhile Daphne struggles with the behavior of her eight years old charge Christopher whose grandfather was a serial killer wearing a clown costume. When the psychopath kills several more times, Daphne wonders whether somehow she was the spark that ignited a dormant serial killer.
The bloody storyline is an exciting thriller with an interesting late twist that ties the tale together. Daphne is a terrific damsel in distress whole local Gregory Winston tries to be her knight in shining armor. Although the plot is very typical of the suspense sub-genre even with a fascinating spin re the killer's identity, fans will enjoy The Sound of a Scream in gothic aptly named Point Woebegone (no relationship to Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon).
The Woman Who Loved Jesse James
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781466473461 $15.95 www.amazon.com
In 1864 Missouri, a fire and brimstone Methodist Minister's daughter Zeralda Mimms and her cousin Quantrill's Raider Jesse James meet at the wedding of her older sister Lucy to Bowling Browder. Each is attracted to one another and he boldly kisses her. Jesse returns to the fighting. When the war ends, wounded Jesse goes to Zee's home to heal. As she nurses him back to health, they fall in love. They become engaged and she learns her future husband is a robber and rumored to be a cold blooded killer. She prays that their marriage and their children will straighten out her beloved husband, but that hope is not answered.
The Woman Who Loved Jesse James is a fascinating biographical fiction that looks at the famous outlaw through the eyes of mostly his adulating beloved wife in a world still suffering from the ravages of the war and the consequential agony of defeat. Because of Zee's loving filter, Jesse comes across as heroic rather than a cold blooded killer. She needs to believe in the goodness rather than the wickedness of her mate who she knows is tender with his family. Well written, readers will enjoy Cindi Myers fine nineteenth century look at Jesse James through his spouse's loving perspective.
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781405089 $14.99 www.amazon.com
In Seattle, Esther informs her thirty something daughter Holly that she received a letter from her grandma begging for her to come home as she needs her. Holly, whose dad died in Vietnam, is a bit taken aback with the news as Grandma Anna is dead. She is even more stunned when her mom sadly says she will hate her. Esther tells Holly, who she knew desperately wanted relatives for years that she lied to her all her life; her mother and her brothers still live in the Lancaster area.
Her BFF Dori agrees to manage Esther's Amish Shoppe while mother and daughter are away as reluctantly Esther decides to go home to Lancaster County. Holly accompanies her as she wants to meet her grandma, her five uncles and aunts and cousins. They stop at the home of Mennonite Beth Fleming before finally meeting the family. Ass Holly enjoys her time with her kin; she meets and falls in love with Beth's son Zach.
This is a wonderful refreshing Amish tale that focuses on the complications of second chances. Esther makes the tale work with her trepidation of seeing her mom and brothers (who are all heading to Big Sky Country) after abandoning her family, her community, her religion and her lifestyle decades ago. She prays for forgiveness from her kin especially her Mommy Anna and her daughter. Readers will relish the prodigal child's return accompanied by her adult offspring.
R. Lee Nathans
Hudson House Publishing
675 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
9781587761850 $12.95 www.hudsonhousepub.com
Medical director of the Doubestrover Township Community Health Center in New Jersey, single mom Dr. Audrey Epstein raises her twelve year old daughter Lainie and her away at a nearby college Josh alone ever since their dad Ben was murdered. She has problems at home with her tweener and at work with another state inspection and in the Newark Star Ledger where reporter A. J. Amoreaux accuses her staff of improprieties. On the bright side Bradford Lecoyne Eccleston IV gives her a large pink diamond as an engagement ring.
Craig Boseman believes the world owes him. He collects a check from the state due to a fake back injury, but that is not enough as he had to move back in with his disgusting mom. His cousin Dennis's friend Bill Hartick tells Craig they can make a fortune robbing a clinic. Instead the trio abducts Audrey and a colleague Tim. When the local police chief investigates, the mayor tells him to stop wasting money as the pair of pain in butt missing persons are obviously decamped lovers. The media following the mayor's lead drops the story while only Brad searches for his missing fiancee.
Bias disclosure: I was hooked with the mention of Jerome Avenue, spaldeen and sewers as my husband was all-neighborhood in stickball. This is a dark humorous satirical tour of New Jersey in which R. Lee Nathans mocks the media-big business-government complex that has Ike turning in his grave. The entertaining storyline is fast-paced though it rotates between several subplots starring an ensemble cast besides those above and the suspense comes late. Readers will appreciate Head Race as the audience will learn that avarice lowlifes come from all classes.
Beneath a Meth Moon
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9780399252501 $16.99 www.amazon.com
Fifteen year old Laurel is filled with remorse as she feels she failed her loved one especially when she turned to meth to numb the pain of death. Having kicked the habit, encouraged by her BFF Kaylee who she let down, she writes an elegy to cleanse her soul and hopefully regain her life. Her downward spiral began when Hurricane Katrina killed her mother and grandmother who remained in the family house when the storm swamped New Orleans.
Her father, her younger brother Jesse Jr. and Laurel obtain temporary shelter in Jackson, Mississippi before moving to Galilee, Iowa in order to start over. Laurel seems to adapt well as she becomes BFF with Kaylee, becomes a cheerleader and dates basketball team captain T-Boom. Still the teen grieves her matriarchal losses; so T-Boom introduces her to "the moon," which numbs the depression. However, she soon needs more and more moon until she becomes an addict begging people for loose change on the city streets.
This is a great tweener-teen cautionary tale that makes a powerful case that Beneath A Meth Moon the addicting drug takes over your mind and body as you only live for more meth. Laurel's observations of going to hell and back (she is writing the elegy so she obviously has survived her self-inflicted ordeal) are brilliant as her recollections are dark, choppy and filled with memory gaps. Jacqueline Woodson provides a powerful warning to her tween-teen audience that meth may allow you a moon walk or two but will incarcerate you with a desperate need for more.
The Last Plea Bargain
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414333212 $13.99 www.amazon.com
Milton County, Georgia assistant District Attorney Jamie Brock is uncompromising when it comes to the legal system that she has sworn to uphold. For her three years working in the prosecution's office, she never accepted a rejects plea bargain as she strongly believes this dealing abominates the justice system.
Defense attorney Caleb Tate is accused of murdering his wife Rikki. With a personal grudge against the powerful Tate for his over the top defense of the man convicted of murdering her mother, Brock wants to nail him with a capital punishment conviction. She and lead detective "LA" Finnegan work the murder case together. However, Tate has used the ADA's convictions against her when he arranges for prisoners to refuse to plea bargain leads to the court system failing and felons freed for no reason except to clear the docket. At the same time, death sentence opponent Mace James works the appeal of the killer of Brock's mother. As her world spins out of control, Brock realizes even her mother's death is not as black and white as she once thought.
The Last Plea Bargain is a great legal thriller that looks closely at the impact of the war on crime overwhelming the under-budgeted court system, which leads to the overuse of plea bargaining. Ironically Brock can take her rigid moral stand because other flexible ADAs keep the system from clogging up. Satirizing chicken hawk politicians who are tough on crime except for funding the system and filled with clever twists, Randy Singer provides an entertaining tale that questions the meaning of justice in a judicial process that is financed and operated more like a logistical just in time warehousing operation.
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414327877 $13.99 www.amazon.com
Teal Morgan-Adams knows to the second when her world ended as NPR announced the time over the radio while she crawled on one of the Los Angeles parking lots known as a freeway. The ground began to shake while the announcer warns people to get out of traffic; Teal wonders how even as the overpass crumbled.
Meanwhile her husband River worries about his wife "Xena the warrior" even as his teenage stepdaughter Maiya, who he loves in spite of her obsession to know who her biological dad is (mom refuses to tell her), would laugh about any tremor. However, the worst earthquake he has ever seen in his forty-two years pins him under bins in his garage with his cell phone out of reach. Teal barely survives the road collapse but saw the horror of so many apparently dying. However, tragedy in her hometown of Cedar Pointe, Oregon forces everything to a head.
The latest Side Roads (see Desert Gift) family drama is delightful tale starring engaging protagonists and a strong support cast. The storyline loses some of its zing as the entertaining earthquake subplot becomes overwhelmed by the aftershock in Oregon. Still, fans will enjoy Teal's homecoming as her daughter and husband put enormous pressure on her.
Question of Trust
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313212 $7.99 www.amazon.com
In Chicago, Bristol & Associates criminal attorney Izzy McNeil and her boyfriend Theo Jameson move into her place together until his new house is ready once his mortgage is approved. However, soon after he arrives at her home, someone breaks into her abode.
Not long afterward, the Feds arrest Theo charging him with fraud at his firm HeadFirst software he co-owns with Eric. While Izzy defends the Cortadero Mexican drug cartel family, her boss Maggie Bristol represents Theo. As Izzy wonders about Theo's anomalies like his mortgage request being rejected and his inability to put up the $50,000 bail money when his firm has made a fortune, Cortadero stunningly demands her firm stop their defense of her boyfriend.
The latest magnificent McNeil legal thriller (see Red Blood Murder and Claim of Innocence) has a loose sense of deja vu that the beleaguered heroine notices (see Red Hot Lies). With her father back in her life after years of not being there for her, last year's Sam fiasco (see Red Hot Lies), and now the Theo incident; Izzy wonders whom do you trust when you cannot trust a loved one. This is a terrific twisting tale.
A Texan's Honor
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426714634 $14.99 www.amazon.com
In 1874 the notorious Walton outlaw gang is infamous for cold blooded murders as much as they are for their robberies. Gang member Will McMillan plans to end the killing spree of his violent compatriots soonest though he knows how difficult this will prove to be as he expects he probably will not survive.
The gang stops a train in Kansas. Those who are not immediately killed are held hostage including the only solo female Jamie Ellis. She quickly realizes that the outlaw Will is the only reason she has not been harmed so far. Undercover Will needs to stay in character if he does not wish to be exposed although that keeps him at risk when the law catches up to them, but saving Jamie takes precedence over saving his life though he sadly knows she could never love a violent man like him.
The second Heart of a Hero thriller stars an honorable man who rode with the title character of A Texan's Promise. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the romance between the "outlaw" and the hostage as Shelley gray provides a fabulous Kansas post-Civil War thriller.
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426714283 $14.99 www.amazon.com
In Dallas, teenager Rose knows that Kate Winslow, manager of the Beacon of Hope School, will be disappointed in her for borrowing the van. However, she feels she has no choice as her BFF Lily frantically called her from the "Nowhere" Motel where both have had to turn tricks for pimps. Rose believes once she returns with Lily, Kate will forgive her though she will admonish her.
Kate is despondent with worry when Rose fails to return to the school. Texas Ranger Wyatt Sheridan is assigned to find the girl, but what he learns upsets him as Rose seems to have vanished inside what increasingly looks like human trafficking ring. Matters turn even uglier when someone abducts Kate and his daughter Maddie is threatened to make the Ranger back off.
The key to this terrific contemporary romantic suspense is that the romance takes a back seat to the investigation. The storyline is fast-paced while placing a deep spotlight in child trafficking that at times overwhelms the plot. A touch of inspirational and a stunning late metaphoric twist enhance the exciting Men of the Texas Rangers investigative thriller.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399257452 $17.99 www.amazon.com
By 1896, The Brotherhood established a harsh Christian theocracy in which the prosecution of witches is a major endeavor. Practitioners are condemned to death or worse: the prisons ships and the asylums. Additionally when a female turns seventeen, they must marry or join the Sisterhood.
Cate Cahill's mom died trying to produce a male offspring. Her mother made her make a death bed pledge to care for her two younger sisters, but Cate is running out of time as in six months she must choose. Adding to her dilemma is the three Cahill siblings are closet witches, which makes her courtship by Paul McLeod a going nowhere relationship and her dalliance with Finn Belastra possessing even less staying power. As Cate reads her mother's missing diary, she realizes her time problem worsened with a terrible fate that dooms the trio; forcing her to peruse banned books in an attempt to keep her and her sisters safe while townsfolk suspect them of wickedness. Then Sister Elena arrives to help them.
Born Wicked is an exhilarating alternative New England historical fantasy starring a courageous but increasingly desperate heroine. Her sisters and Elena are top notch characters while their late mom comes across as full blooded also through her diaries and her daughters' observations. Although the males seem thin, fans will enjoy Jessica Spotwood's engaging witch hunt.
The Republic of America has twenty million citizens and seems to be at constant cold and hot war with its neighbors the Colonies. The laws are strictly enforced regardless of economic and social placement though the elite have all the special advantages and privileges.
From a highly prominent affluent family, fifteen year old June is mentored to become a member of the inner most military leadership. However, her fast track to the top is derailed when her brother Captain Metias is murdered while officially hunting for criminal teenager Day, the number one most wanted person in the Republic, who, in spite of security video cameras all over Los Angeles, his face remains a mystery. Commander Jameson claims Day killed June's sibling. She vows to avenge her brother's murder.
Although the High Noon encounter goes the way one would expect even with a fascinating twist, this is a superb futuristic dystopian police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced as readers will appreciate the teenage chess match between the elusive felon and the obsessed soldier; as checkmate is an intriguing spin. Marie Lu provides a fabulously exciting thriller starring two teens from polar opposite sides of the track.
Randy Wayne White
Marine biologist Doc Ford seems like a mild amiable person who enjoys studying sea life and providing fresh or preserved specimens to schools and labs nationwide from his Sanibel Island base. In his other life, Doc is a brutal agent working for the American government by cleaning up dire ugly situations.
He and his friend Tomlinson attend an eastern waters caviar productivity improvement conference hosted by vicious Russian black marketer Victor Kaslov on Vanderbilt Island. Attendees come from China, Iran and Turkmenia etc., but Doc diligently focuses on Kaslov in order to obtain some Intel. While Ford goes underwater to inspect the Russian's yacht, six eco-terrorists crash the conference. Just after their assault, an explosion knocks out the electricity and jamming electronic communication on the island. The party crashers demands must be met or one hostage every hour will die until at the stroke of midnight, everyone still breathing will die in an explosion. Doc realizes how precarious the situation is; his goal is simple to get his friends and himself off island, but the execution is impossible as this group acts more like the Russian's deadliest "capitalist" rivals than environmental extremists.
This is an exhilarating Doc Ford thriller as the meek marine biologist and the ruthless agent makes him seem like a sea version of Clark Kent-Superman. Tomlinson is his usual Zen-self driving Doc crazy, but who though not brave turns competently hyper with ideas when facing danger. He actually is the one who provides the twists to another fabulous Doc Ford tale as he battles to keep alive his friends from cut throat competitors with no business ethics.
Force of Nature
In the Saddlestring, Wyoming area Joe Pickett and Nate Romanowski are friends though the former knows the latter has concealed something from him. In 1991, Nate was assigned to a Special Forces unit when the "Five" led by Lieutenant John Nemecek did something terrible. He walked away, but knew one day they would come for him. That day of reckoning arrives when a gutted Large Merle tells Nate in his last breath: "The Five. They've deployed."
Nate understands no one stands in the way of Nemecek's rising political career especially those who witnessed the atrocity. He knows the tactic Nemecek uses to kills those on that infamous patrol. His goons will get at him but won't go directly; instead they terrorize friends and family. The Five will assault the Pickett family. Upset for what has come to his friends and concluding there is Nowhere to Run, Nate believes that the only way to defeat the enemy is outside the law, but doubts his game warden friend can walk the crooked path. Joe has his friend's back though he prefers not going "rogue" but a High Noon confrontation with Nemecek's minion is imminent and he must choose between life and the law.
With a nod to the movie Red, bestselling author C.J. Box has written a fresh fantastic Pickett thriller (see Cold Wind) as fans of the series finally learn what recurring support character Nate has hidden though numerous books. The villain has a powerful network in Wyoming and Idaho that informs him who is where and identifying their loved ones so he can arrange their deaths. It is Nate's turn through the Pickett clan is a Force of Nature that is not to be trifled with. Each book in the series is better than the one before.
Emily Bester Books
c/o Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781416595205 $27.99 www.amazon.com
One year ago Mitch Rapp completed the CIA special ant-terrorism training. With the support of his now handler Irene Kennedy he is a lone wolf who has left a trail of corpses around the globe. The blood does not disturb him as he believes devoutly these killers deserve retribution as you live and die by the bullet. The Lockerbie mass murder still motivates him into the revenging grim reaper he has become as killing these monsters proves therapeutic.
His current assignment is to assassinate a Libyan in Paris, which he does. Before Rapp can leave, Samir Fadi and cohorts burst into the room with machine gun firing to kill the solo ghost who stalks them. Rapp takes a bullet but escapes. Samir is shocked that the enemy got away and his brother died in the assault. The French gendarme finds nine corpses in that room while the CIA denies any responsibility for the deadly incident.
Unlike his agency's leaders depending on heavenly intervention, Rapp's former trainer Stan Hurley knows a liability must be eliminated before the local authorities capture him. However, Rapp refuses to die or be caught while a betrayal high inside the agency leaves him hanging alone.
Bloodily over the top of the Eifel Tower, the direct sequel to American Assassin continues Rapp's early years with the CIA in another action packed thriller that takes off explosively in Paris and never slows down until the final bullets are fired. The hunter becomes hunted by an avenging Muslim and his former teacher, but it is the betrayal that leaves Rapp in peril. With the next tale seemingly set up by the betrayal, fans will enjoy Vince Flynn's latest super suspenseful Rapp entry.
The Anatomy of Ghosts
77 West 66th Street, NY, NY 10023-6298
9781401310738 $15.99 www.amazon.com
In 1786, Tim Turdman finds the body of young Georgie Holdsworth, who drowned in the Thames. His father John the bookseller is despondent but conceals his grief from his wife Maria whose depression frightens her spouse but is understandable as she helplessly watched her son drown in the river. She insists she speaks to her deceased offspring with the help of a medium. A fire destroys the bookstore that contains John's investment leaving him broke. Angry and grieving John authors a book to prove to Maria that she cannot communicate with Georgie and her channel is a con artist. His effort leads to Maria committing suicide by jumping into the Thames near where she last saw her child.
Lady Anne Oldershaw hires a depressed John to catalog her late husband's library that she is bequeathing to Cambridge University. Her son Frank, a Jerusalem College student, has a nervous breakdown following his assertion that he saw the ghost of murdered Sylvia Whichcote. Lady Anne asks John, as a paranormal fraud expert, to help her son realize how inane his assertion is. John knows first he must learn what the lad saw as he struggles through the nasty Holy Ghost Club and their Master Dr. Carbury only to find his haunting mission changed.
This is a great late Georgian thriller that will keep the audience wondering whether to believe in ghosts or something more sinisterly human. The storyline starts melancholy in the opening chapters, but changes tone when the bookseller comes to Cambridge as he gets involved with a murder mystery that has him reconsidering his contention that ghosts are delusions of the parasitic relationship between the desperate and the amoral who take advantage of these depressed souls.
Mark Allen Smith
Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400
New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805094268 $27.00 www.amazon.com
Manhattan-based Geiger "the Inquisitor" is an expert in breaking down people to obtain the truth as he has an innate lie detector that warns him when a person is not telling the truth. He mostly uses mental attacks to insure fear supersedes all other emotions; while he rarely deploys direct physical assaults as Geiger understands the target will lie to end the pain. Nobody is a better "information retrieval" guru than Geiger is.
Client Richard Hall hires Geiger and his partner Harry Boddicker to obtain information from Matheson who stole a valuable Willem de Kooning masterpiece from a private collector. Hall fails to arrive with the thief, but instead has Matheson's twelve year old son Ezra for the Inquisitor to learn whether the lad's father hides. Irate as he does not deal with children, he beats up Hall and accompanied by Boddicker takes the tweener to a safe-house. Hall and his gang pursue them as Geiger wonders why the kid is important.
With a nod to Jeff Lindsay's Dexter, Geiger is perhaps the most refreshing character of the year as his matter of fact treatise on torture will stun, horrify and fascinate readers. The storyline is action-paced from the first torture to the last as the amoral antihero shows he has a conscience when it comes to protecting kids; yet he also makes the euphemistic titled "enhanced interrogation" techniques of the Bush crowd look like amateurs. With a strong shocking climatic spin, fans will enjoy the exhilarating "information retrieval" thriller.
Eye of the Sword
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307730145 $9.99 www.amazon.com
In Camrithia, King Laetham completes the ceremony that makes Trevin a comain military leader. At the same time, Dregmoorian Prince Varic arrives at the castle with a peace proposal that Laetham considers as a means to end the raids from his neighbor to the east. Varic offers to marry Princess Melaia, who Trevin loves. Daughter of a late angel, Melaia tells her father that she will wed Trevin only, but after she obtains the three missing harps that will restore The Wisdom Tree.
Laetham sends Trevin on a mission to find the missing comain; while Melaia asks him to bring back the harps; one of which is possessed by the Dregmoorian Secondborn Benasin. Trevin loathes leaving her with Varic, the sly treacherous heir to the Dregmoorian throne. Still he leaves on his missions to prove his worthiness to his beloved Princess and himself. On his horse Alamarin who once had wings, Trevin's journey begins when his steed leads him to Eldarra Prince Resarian and the Golden. As Varic tries to kill him, Trevin's horrible deeds while working for the Dregmoorian FirstBorn Lord Rejius, haunts him.
The second Angelaeon Circle thriller (see Breath of Angel) is an exhilarating quest fantasy starring an honorable champion who's driven by his love for the princess and his obsession to for redemption. The storyline is action-packed from the moment the vile Varic and the tense Trevin meet and never slows down until the readers learn why the Dregmoorian heir wants the newest Camrithia comain dead. Though it behooves the audience to read the first tale to better understand the complex Henley mythos, fans will enjoy walking and riding in a realm where the Angelaeon interact with people and often rule.
Finding Our Way Home
Charlene Ann Baumbich
Sasha Davis left Wanonishaw, Minnesota on a scholarship to Juilliard when she was seventeen years old. Twenty years later after starting on the road to becoming an international star as the principal dancer at the Boston-based Mid Central Festival Ballet, Sasha's career ends in a horrible accident. Depressed, she returns home to allow herself to have a self-pity party as she cannot lift her legs without immense pain; her career is over and perhaps her marriage to her dance partner Donald Major too as she refuses to see him and he refuses to visit her.
Sasha finds encouragement from her optimistic caretaker big boned nineteen years old Evelyn Burt, who has family issues of her own, but refuses to let them get her down though she knows she will have to choose between loved ones. However, the former prima ballerina's comfort comes from the snow globe of a dancer that her mother gave her when she started the odyssey.
Readers will enjoy this contemporary character study in which Charlene Ann Baumbich enables the audience to understand what each key player, especially the disabled dancer, thinks. Although the audience learns rather late the cause of the estrangement and why the teen feels trapped, patient fans will enjoy the latest wonderful Snowglobe Connections saga (see Divine Appointments) as two female opposites forge a sisterly bond that helps both of them.
The Hope Vendetta
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439193471 $25.00 www.amazon.com
Former SAS operative Be Hope considers his response to the question: "To be or not to be." He decides to delay his exit strategy by attending Oxford to study theology, a field he dropped years ago when he became a covert agent.
Professor Tom Bradbury asks Ben to find his missing twentyish archeologist daughter, Zoe. Ben refuses as he no longer is in that line of work. He arranges SAS comrade Charlie Palmer to investigate the missing person's case. From Corfu, Charlie contacts Ben that he is in trouble and needs help. Ben arrives on the Greek island. He soon learns Zoe found an artifact tied to Revelation, which leads him to Savannah and televangelist Clayton Cleaver, who insists John the Apostle told him he End Times is upon us.
The latest Hope Vendetta (see The Mozart Conspiracy) is an exhilarating over the top of Mount Pantokrator thriller. The storyline contains an intriguing underlying theme of true believers and cynical leaders making strange common cause bedfellows with each wanting to ignite the End Times for diverse reasons. Fans will enjoy Hope's odyssey to save millions as he leaves behind a high body count.
The Tenth Saint
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N
St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605422459 $14.95 www.amazon.com
Cambridge University archeologist Sarah Weston leads a dig in Aksum, Ethiopia, the site of an ancient mountain kingdom. To her ire, her financial backers send famous American anthropologist Daniel Madigan to insure they get their value back in their investigation.
The pair locates a tomb with inscriptions in an unknown arcane language. Inside are the remains of a human. In the libraries of Ethiopian monasteries, the westerners find clues that the deceased is that of the Coptic Christian's tenth saint who spread Christianity in this African nation and predicted the final days of planet earth. Their discovery leaves them in jeopardy from those who want the end of days' prophecy to come true.
Putting aside plausibility of some rescue actions, fans will enjoy this exhilarating Brownian romantic suspense, which provides a fascinating look at the Coptic Christian Church (in the news of late in Egypt). The storyline is fast-paced and filled with funny but unlikely teasing while in near death scenarios. Fans will enjoy this engaging conspiracy based on the premise that extreme fundamentalists obsess with eliminating those who would interfere by reversing the steps of Revelations; as all that matters to these die hard fanatics is for the end of times to occur.
Collision of Lies
John J. Le Beau
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090457 $25.95 www.amazon.com
In Austria, radical right-wing politician Georg Forster leads his Nationalist Defense Front Party from nowhere to a prominent influential role in in the new coalition government. His meteoric rise ends in a car crash near Garmisch, Bavaria. German Kommissar Franz Waldbaer happens to be at the scene of the brutal Mercedes accident.
Anton Hester replaces the late Forster as the head of the NDF. He claims the NDF possesses proof that his successor's death was not an accident, but was an assassination by Israeli operatives. Waldbaer is assigned the police investigation while CIA operative Robert Hirter works the same case from the Intel perspective. Having teamed up on the inquiry into the death of the American's brother in Bavaria (see Collision of Evil), the agent and the cop unite again unaware a shipment is the center of what happened to the NDF leader and related deadly events.
This is an exciting action-packed thriller grips readers with the deaths at sea, in Bavaria and elsewhere that seem unrelated except that the bad guys will stop at nothing to insure their cargo reaches its destination. Although the villainous elements cohesively tie together extremely late; fans will enjoy the second teaming of the CIA operative and the Bavarian kommissar as they make a terrific pairing on international investigations.
Last Chance Beauty Queen
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446576086 $7.99 www.amazon.com
English Baron Hugh DeBracy comes to America with a plan to build a textile machinery factory. U.S. Senator Rupert Warren wants the plant in his home state of South Carolina. He sends his aid former Watermelon Queen Caroline "Rocky" Rhodes to escort the aristocrat around the state; especially since Lord DeBracy considers her hometown of Last Chance as his last chance to avoid a marriage of money.
Hugh needs to purchase land, but the locals never sell to carpetbaggers. However, Ricky's mom Ruby considers an exception as she knows her daughter could lose her job if the deal falls through and besides the pair are obviously attracted to one another. What clinches the deal for Ruby is his earthly behavior at the Watermelon Festival.
The third Last Chance contemporary romance (Welcome to Last Chance and Home At Last Chance) is a zany, jocular and over the top of Sassafras Mountain frolic. The lead couple is a nice pairing while the townsfolk are an amusing eccentric crowd. Timely with the textile industry having left the state, fans will enjoy riding the Rhodes to Last Chance.
With This Kiss
In Emerald Lake, New York, innkeeper Rebecca Campbell hosts the wedding of her Lake Yarns' friend Andi Powell to Mayor Nate Duncan (see Home Sweet Home). This happens to be a difficult time for Rebecca as she forced her fiance Stu Murphy to end their engagement as she wants a love like Andi and Nate share rather than just a nice friendship. Since he is generational family and she decided to hide his secret, she is blamed by the townsfolk except for her Lake Yarns' Knitting group for the end of their relationship.
Stu's younger brother Sean returns home for his sibling's wedding after being away for almost two decades following seeing something that broke his heart when he was fourteen. To his chagrin, Sean finds himself attracted to his sibling's former fiance. Rebecca feels the same way about him. Neither wants to make that first move as secrets keep them apart.
The second Emerald Lake contemporary romance is an engaging story of secrets estranging a family. Second chances surface but the Murphy family and Rebecca must dive into the opportunity; which means having confidence that your loved ones will keep you from drowning in a sea of distrust and encouraging you into swimming in a sea of love. Fans will appreciate this engaging family drama.
Secrets of an Accidental Duchess
A Marquis used to easily bedding the women, Maxwell Buchanan is frozen in place for the first time in his thirty years of life when he sees the angel Olivia Donovan for the first time. Leonard Reece catches him staring at the beautiful fragile Olivia for ten minutes. Competitive with Maxwell, Leonard who failed to persuade Olivia into a tryst bets him he will not succeed either. Though he knows he should not accept the wager, Maxwell agrees on a hefty bet over his seduction of his angel.
The middle sister, Olivia knows her siblings, Jessica and Margaret (See Confessions of an Improper Bride), are overly protective of her ever since she suffered from malaria as a child in the West Indies. However, though she still looks frail, Max soon learns quickly that Olivia has a steel backbone, which amplifies his desire for her. As he falls in love with his angel, he fears for the safety of the three Donovan sisters especially his angel when they rescue an abused spouse that enrages a psychopath who targets them for their intrusion.
The second Donovan sisters' historical romance is an exhilarating tale that grips the reader from the moment a spellbound Donovan can't take his eyes off of her and never blinks until after the final confrontation. The storyline is fast-paced as the Marquis learns the mouse he has a tendre for is actually a lioness.
After two years as a couple and a few days married, Chris died. Fourteen months later, his grieving widow Leigh Kelly decides she cannot live in their home filed with too many memories. She moves to Chimney Rock on Whidbey Island.
Former Special Ops soldier Niles Latimer and his werehound Team are diligently watching the newcomer to keep her safe from rogues assaulting women. However, he also senses Leigh possesses something unique that could prove her compatible as life mate for a werehound. Nile realizes she knows nothing about her DNA or the existence of werehounds as he and his Team vow to protect her while the evil enemy senses who she is too and pledges to take her.
The first Chimney Rock romantic urban fantasy is a superb dark thriller in which Stella Cameron creates a deep mythos that feels genuine; inside of a fast-paced good and evil battle for Leigh. Loaded with chilling action, a strong lead couple and two camps of werehounds and other ilk, sub-genre readers will enjoy a visit to mysterious Whidbey Island where the paranormal is the normal.
Run From Fear
Two years ago in Seattle, former Green Beret Jack Brooks saved the life of Talia Vega from a serial killer. Talia was part of fifteen minutes of notorious fame and she still is unfairly trashed on the Net.
She relocated in the Bay area with her teenage sister Rosario. At the restaurant where Talia works, Jack enters, which brings back the bad times in her mind. He explains he is in town for a few weeks helping his boss at Gemini securities. When Jack meets Rosie's friend Kevin, he warns the douche bag that these siblings have met enough creeps. However, Talia soon will be grateful for Jack's return into her life as a psychopath decides to complete the Seattle nightmare.
The latest Jami Alden romantic suspense (see Beg For Mercy and Hide From Evil) is a pulse pumping taut thriller that grips readers from the first threat to the final confrontation. The lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have survived the baptism of fire. The support cast augments a terrific tense tale in which the romantic subplot is palatable but it is the viable threat from a madman that takes center stage.
In 1996 Wyoming, Big Jim Conway takes his grandsons (ten years old Quinn, seven years old Josh and five years old Jake) to town while their Pa Cole and Police Chief Fletcher talk. This has been a weekly affair since Cole's wife and mother to the kids vanished.
In the present, wildlife expert Quinn is in the Grand Tetons observing a wolf pack. Rancher Cheyenne O'Brien meets Quinn in an acerbic encounter. However, a blizzard forces Quinn to stay at her spread. He realizes from her eyes that the independent rancher shares in common with him first-hand knowledge of tragedy. He learns of the deliberate "accidents" to her ranch and insists on helping her when arson destroys part of her home. As they fall in love while his family spread comes under attack, Quinn vows to find the culprit endangering the people he loves.
Leaving behind Big Sky Country (see the McCord cousins' Montana trilogy) for the Equality State, R.C. Ryan writes an enjoyable romantic suspense. The storyline vividly describes the ruggedness of Wyoming while also focuses on a strong heroine and the close Conway Cowboy clan. Although the villain is too obvious, fans will enjoy the first Conway ranch romance.
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
Spiegel & Grau
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385531108 $15.00 www.amazon.com
Caltech astronomer Mike Brown has found many objects beyond Pluto with all of them except one not even bringing a yawn from the public. However, that one Eris is bigger than Pluto and has similar properties like an irregular orbit. Ironically Dr. Brown learned second order effects of his discovery when the International Astronomical Union changed Pluto's revered status from ninth planet in the solar system to a new category dwarf planet. For the diligent astronomer that means instead of number ten, he has number three. Dr. Brown explains the pros and cons of the new category, which is built around whether a sun orbiting object has cleansed its "space" of other major object. He understands the uproar of the paradigm relegation as he like most people grew up with Pluto the planet. Much of the memoir involves the author's personal life before, during and after the discovery. This addition, especially the insight of how his wife and daughter see his "crazy" work and the discovery, enhances the memoir. His spouse stoically accepts the role of an astronomer wife means putting up with obsession and irregular hours similar to the orbit of Eris. On the other hand, Dr. Brown figures his daughter knows that her dad "killed Pluto."
Readers obtain a fascinating look at an astronomer and his family with an emphasis on the impact of his work on his loved ones. However, it is the explanation of his work, the solar system and the reclassification simplified for lay people to comprehend without dumbing down that makes How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming an entreating whimsical though somewhat mistitled autobiography.
The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446575942 $14.99 www.amazon.com
Now in the final countdown year, on December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar predicts the world as we know it will end. Wil and his best friend receive an odd segment of an ancient manuscript; other fragments are also being released around the globe to chosen ones who have displayed a potential enlightened soul. Wil and his buddy know they need the rest of the document to understand how to use the mind and spirit to achieve universal contentment and harmony though deployment of the twelve integrations. As the enlightened 144,000 converge in the spirit of synchronicity and integrity to reach the plateau of world unity they must contend with powerful political and religious leaders; fanatics who prefer the status quo as well as preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.
The fourth Celestine spiritual thriller (see The Celestine Prophecy, The Secret of Shambhala and In Search of the Eleventh Insight) is a fascinating uplifting tale. When the focus is on the integrations, readers learn the steps that James Redfield recommends while the protagonists and other chosen struggle with world leaders who oppose any downgrading of their status. When the storyline turns to the terrorists it loses some momentum as this feels forced. Still fans will enjoy Mr. Redfield's enlightenment re the Mayan doomsday prophecy.
Robert Ludlum's (TM) The Janson Command
Paul Janson was a covert assassin for the American government's top secret Consular Operations. He saw the light when he became classified as the "beyond salvage" target of the government due to a failed mission in which he became the chosen one to take the fall of the screw-up of higher ups (see The Janson Directive). He survived the assassination attempts and opened up CatsPaw Associates security firm with Jessica Kincaid. Their firm's vision is to accept scenarios that will make the world a better place. Janson also manages the Phoenix Foundation as his means for redemption; the mission is to rehabilitate black ops operatives discarded as worthless trash by their agency when their use is deemed over.
Doug Case lost his job at Consular Operations when he took a bullet that saved Janson's life but left Doug paralyzed. He graduated from Phoenix and is security chief of Houston based American Synergy Corporation. Case hires Janson to rescue a company physician kidnapped by the Free Foree Movement who demands the Isle de Foree hated dictator "President for Life" Iboga leave. With Kinkaid having his back, they make it to the main rebel stronghold, but all hell breaks loose when they arrive
This is a great action-packed twisting thriller as Jason and Kincaid are stunned with the deployment of Reaper drones and Harrier jets as neither should be there. As the action goes international, readers will learn what Janson already knows from his assassin days that terrorist groups, rogue nations, and amoral covert agencies are less dangerous than internationally protected "job creating" ruthless unscrupulous corporations.
Robin D. Owens
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803415 $14.95 www.amazon.com
In Denver, genealogist Amber Sarga understands the cost of using her gift as a curse-breaker; every time she deploys her skill she reduces her life span dramatically as she ages. Thus she is wary to deploy her talent.
Friends Conrad Tyne-Cymbler and Rafe Davail visit Amber at her place in Mystic Circle so she can help them break their respective curses though Rafe ridicules the concept of the paranormal. Conrad's wife Marta left him with their son Dougie and vanished. Based on what his father told him on their only encounter when he next sees his child he will die. In Rafe's family history, the first born son dies before turning thirty-three. Amber wants to help both, but can't even use a mirror as she looks ten years older than she is chronologically. She agrees to look into their ancestry to identify the curse and what can be done to stop it. However, she feels sympathy for both cursed men and is attracted to Rafe.
The second book Mystic Circle romantic urban fantasy (see Enchanted No More) is an engaging tale based on the premise that magic costs to the practitioner. This concept is the conflict as Amber faces a moral conundrum with between to do and die young, and not to do and die lonely. Although the romantic relationship between the genealogist and the skeptic feels forced, readers, craving for chocolate brownies, will want to know the outcomes of the curse.
Seattle Urban Shaman Joanne Walker loved being a police detective, but balancing her two worlds ended when a werewolf bit her. She quits the force as she knows she cannot quit the mystic realm. Jo scratches a compelling itch that has her leaving behind her former police boss Mike Morrison who she only recently began seeing (see Spirit Dances) to fly to Ireland.
Mike sends Jo's best friend septuagenarian Gary Muldoon to Dublin to keep her butt out of trouble. They head to the Hills of Tara in County Meah when a woman comes out of nowhere to identify Jo as Siobhan Walkingstick, Walker's birth name. As the pair climbs the metaphysical Hill of Tara, Jo's life spins full circle when she learns what the obsession that brought her to ancient magical Eire is all about; the deceased individual, who gave up everything for her, needs rescuing, but first the Shaman must escape the dark power of the Morrigan.
This is a great spin as the heroine has good cause to put on hold, perhaps permanently, her relationship with Mike in order to learn more about her ancestry and battle some nasty adversaries. Thus the spinning stunning storyline returns to its fantasy roots as Jo is in mortal combat with a nasty goddess in a long ago era (there is no Seattle coffee available) as the latest Walker Papers (see Demon Hunts) is a super smart shocker.
The Flowers of War
Geling Yan; translated by Nicky Harman
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590515563 $15.95 www.amazon.com
In 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army invades Nanking. The St. Mary Magdalene Mission is considered a safe neutral zone by the forces of both sides. American expatriate Father Engelmann protects schoolgirls trapped in his sanctuary though he fears sustenance shortages.
Ignoring the internationally agreed upon protocols of war, invaders commit monstrous atrocities against the local population; females are a particular target. Brothel workers sneak into the mission. Unable to send them away though they exacerbate the dwindling food and water supplies, Father Engleman places them in the basement and the students in the attic. Also inside the mission is wounded Major Dai, who, demands the priest, grant sanctuary to two injured Chinese soldiers. Father Engelmann feels like Solomon without the wisdom; as he knows if he grants the request he threatens the females under his protection from the Japanese, who if they find out will deem the Mission is no longer neutral; if he denies the soldiers they will die.
Mindful of Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin, The Flowers of War is an intriguing look at the Massacre from the perspective of those hiding inside the mission. The storyline is deep as readers obtain a powerful look at the Chinese holocaust. However, ironically none of the cast moves passed typical stereotyping; for instance the American priest shoulders the "white man's burden", the usual prostitutes as seen in Ms. Yan's The Lost Daughter of Happiness, and the inane rivalry between students. Well written, fans will enjoy The Flowers of War as readers are reminded never forget, although there is no Minnie Vautrin.
David J. Schow
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312571375 $26.99 www.amazon.com
Elias McCabe had sex with his best friend Clavius' ex-wife Nasja and took pictures of her naked when a man holding a very formidable looking gun enters the photographer's loft. Elias considers that Clavius might be annoyed for his banging his mentor's former spouse, but soon realizes otherwise. Gun Guy escorts Elias at gunpoint before taking him to meet his teammates Cognac and the Professor, and a dead Dominic Sharps who made the news whenever LAPD was involved. The photographer's assignment is to take shots of Sharps seemingly having sex and afterward Elias will leave with ten grand. However, if he opens his mouth Gun Guy will reuse Sharps' body bag.
During the shooting, Elias video records the event without Gun Guy knowing what he did. When Elias finds out what Gun Guy has used the shoot for, he places his video version of the encounter on the Internet where it goes viral and destroys the blackmail scheme. Raging Gun Guy begins killing those who were involved while seeking Elias, who hides on a New York movie set. Elias knows flight is impossible from this ruthless maniac so he must fight but a shoot to him is a photo gig not a gun gig.
This is a super satirical noir starring an antihero who is comfortable with shooting porn but not shooting guns. His adversary Gun Guy is terrific as a violent stranger who gets mad and even. With a biting mocking of fictional violence and an even more acerbic masticating of the American obsessive quest for the perfect look at any cost, fans will anticipate the High Noon encounter between the porn photographer and the Gun Guy.
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312570026 $14.99 www.amazon.com
One nanosecond ago everything was fine; a moment later 99% of the human race died; however over the next three months the dead failed to stay dead as they returned as the mindless undead with an innate instinct to kill the 1% of human survivors. Several of the 1% survivors reach the remote island of Cormansey; access exclusively by air ad boat, making this isolated rock zombie free for the fifty-one humans including a pregnant women. They helicopter to Chadwick to obtain needed supplies.
Another of the 1% made it to fortified Cheatham Castle. These twenty-one survivors go to Chadwick for supplies too. The two human groups collide as the castle dwellers believe the islanders are encroaching on their territory of Chadwick. The islanders invite the Chadwick crew to join them on the island as there is strength in numbers. Many want to go but their leaders refuse to give up their power. As tension mounts, the two small pockets of humans seem ready to war with each other instead of allying against the greater threat.
The final Autumn urban fantasy (see Autumn: Disintegration and Autumn: The City) is a great finish to a fabulous zombie thriller. The underlying premise is that those on power obsess with remaining in power at any cost even to their own group's survival. With a deep look at the human need to dominate or subordinate, readers will relish this entry as only the strong survive by using the weaker as fodder.
When A Scot Loves A Lady
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062031662 $7.99 www.amazon.com
In 1813 London, Lambert Poole ruined Lady Katherine "Kitty" Savege. She pretends to still want him but instead she wants to learn his secrets. She attends a masquerade where she sees Lord Leam Blackwood back from overseas and is attracted to him; as he is to her. Kitty drops her plans to destroy Poole until the rat threatened her brother six months ago. She gives information to the Home Office about Poole's illegal dealing. He flees to France to live in poverty.
In 1816 Leam informs Colin Gray he quit the Falcon Club as he plans to spend time with his son in Scotland. Gray asks him to perform a last mission to learn whether member Captain Jinan Seton also quit and to look into French activity in Scotland. Wyn Yale accompanies Leam. A blizzard strands Kitty and her friend Lady Emily Vale at an inn. Also stopping due to the weather are Leam and Yale. Leam and Kitty recognize each other and the attraction remains strong. David Cox comes to the inn to stay until the snow melts. He flirts with Kitty which makes Leam jealous. Kitty and Leam play strip cards before making love. Later a sniper wings Kitty, but gets away; she demands the truth from Leam.
This entertaining Regency is a wonderful historical as the romance seems real while the suspense enhances the plot. The lead couple and the support cast are fully developed. Although I personally do not like local vernacular, but the use of the Scottish brogue adds authenticity to the engaging tale. Although the climax is a bit weak, sub-genre fans will enjoy this exciting nineteenth century romantic suspense.
All Things Wicked
Juliet Carpenter the witch fell in love with Caleb Leigh but he betrayed her and killed her Coven of the Unbinding witches who treated him as family. Two obsessions keep Juliet going; she needs to know why but even stronger is a need to avenge what he did to her and her "kin".
One year later Juliet finds Caleb in a seedy motel, just like the demons he runs from always do. Her compulsion to kill him supersedes her desire to know why so she goes after him with a knife, which she plunges into him. Caleb survives but feels overwhelmed by the guilt of the wicked thing he did though his motive was to protect his sibling Cordelia and himself from her coven's power grabbing sacrifice of them. When adversaries arrive with dire intentions of abducting the girl and killing her ally, Caleb, who still loves his Jules, knows this is the beginning of his last stand to keep his pledge of insuring the witch who owns his wicked heart is safe as long as what is left of his declining brain stays rational.
The third Dark Mission romantic urban fantasy (see Lure of the Wicked and Blood of the Wicked) expands the incredible Cooper universe beyond the New Seattle environs in a stunning coming of age thriller. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will relish the romance between two people struggling with an inconvenient truth of being in love at a time when both should be in hate (at him). Wickedly dark, Karina Cooper provides a powerful futuristic twisting tale.
After spending the Civil War years overseas, Elyssa Sutton returns to her Ladder S Ranch in the Ruby Mountains once the fighting ended. She finds her spread devastated and the peace signed in Virginia meaningless in Nevada where raiders and others steal her cattle and use her natural assets as their own.
Hunter (Maxwell) tracks the butchers who killed his family to the Ruby Mountains. Needing to go undercover he comes out of the shadows to ask Elyssa for employment. She hires him as a "ramrod who can use a gun." Although she somewhat fears the rage she sees in his eyes, she is also attracted to her employee. He does not wants to care about his boss as he fears losing his ugly edge, distrusts women whose strength is betrayal, and besides people you love die.
This reprint of a 1996 "Only" post-Civil War romance (see Only Love and Only Mine) is an intriguing tale starring an intrepid rancher and an unlikable acrimonious person obsessed with revenge. Hunter's constant debasing of the heroine even when they make love fits his ire that women betray while he still grieves the murders of his wife and children by the Culpepper gang. Although the story line is as straight as the Bonneville Salt Flats even setting up the obvious sequel starring Hunter's s bitter brother (see Winter Lover), readers can see the plot for miles ahead, fans still will appreciate this engaging dark historical romance.
Lair of the Lion
The goal seems simple enough: rescuing her brother. Finding anyone capable o aiding her in his enormous duchy like pelazzo in the Alps is so formidable that everyone tells Isabella Vernaducci to go home. She has heard tales about the Don that strike fear in the hearts of the bravest souls, yet aristocratic Isabella obstinately continues her quest to find the enigmatic, more myth than man, Nicolai DeMarco.
When Isabella locates Nicolai (or perhaps it is more the other way around), she does not see the Don who allegedly controls the beasts to do his dirty work. Instead she sees a man haunted by a curse that the intrepid Isabella is determined to free Nicolai from it. When Nicolai offers to save her sibling on the condition she marry him, Isabella readily agrees as she knows she needs no stipulation to wed the Don. Still as she risks her life to save her tortured beloved, she wonders if she will ever gain his love even if she eliminates the beast that holds his soul.
More than just Christine Feehan fans will enjoy this reprint of a delightful paranormal romance as the rarely used early nineteenth century Alps setting (almost Gothic in nature), the intrepid heroine, and the tortured male protagonist come together in exciting fashion. Though readers will admire and question Isabella's bravery at the same time, the audience will relish her efforts to emancipate the two men she cherishes from their respective "incarcerations". Lair of the Lion is a wonderful novel that readers will appreciate if they set aside the time to luxuriate in a one sitting read.
She Tempts The Duke
In 1844 in the freezing Tower of Pembroke Castle, fourteen year old Duke of Keswick Sebastian Easton and two brothers (Rafe and Tristan) expect to die that night at the hands of their Uncle Lord David Easton. Sebastian believes his father was murdered by their Uncle in what looked like an unfortunate riding accident; and he knows they have no allies in this "prison". That is until their childhood friend Mary Wynne-Jones arrives to help them escape from certain execution.
Though Sebastian sealed a promise to come for her with a kiss, by 1856 Lady Mary gave up on him the other "Lost Lords" and is engaged. Sebastian has returned hardened by war and his Uncle's actions over a decade ago and since. His face scarred, Sebastian vows vengeance while Lady Mary, ignoring her father's warnings, wants his love that she once had and she still gives to her acrimonious lord. Uncle David will soon force his nephew to choose.
The first Lost Lords of Pembrook Victorian romantic suspense is an exciting thriller as the Duke returns with one thought in mind until he meets his beloved love. The lead protagonists are a great second chance pairing of two brave souls whose relationship seems as damaged as his soul. Although Lord David has no redeeming qualities as an over the top of Big Ben 200-proof evil villain, historical fans will enjoy Lorraine Heath's enthralling tale for the battle of the duke's soul.
The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae
In 1829 London, Lady Angelica Cynster receives the talisman that enables her family to find their true love. When she sees Debenham, Angelica knows he is the one. However, instead of a loving courtship, her hero abducts her.
Debenham explains why he took her and previously tried to take her sisters (see Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue and In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster); as he pleads with Angelica to save his clan. His insane mother Mirabelle, raging over his father's obsession with Angelica's mother Cecilia, recently stole a jewel-encrusted goblet that Debenham's late dad stole in '23. She threatens to expose and ruin the clan unless until her son ruins a Cynster daughter. Knowing he is her true love makes the decision easy for Angelica. As he falls in love with his "capturer", they face danger while desperately seeking the goblet.
Bonus tale: "The Wedding Planner". In 1820 Lady Margaret Dawlish is the wedding planner to the royals. Her beloved died in battle so Meg has no plans to marry. Duc Gaston Devillriers has wanted Meg for a long time. He has returned with plans to woo the Wedding Planner.
This is an engaging finish to the Cynster Sisters trilogy. Although the sisters possess almost identical bossy personalities, Debenham brings freshness to the mix as the wannabe kidnapper who is the "matchmaker" in the first two novels and the male lead in this one. Fans will enjoy his unique courtship while he learns what males find out about a Cynster female is that she is alpha to his omega. The short story is an enjoyable second chance at love Regency that was part of the Royal Weddings E-book anthology.
Can't Stop Loving You
Having no security until she came to live in the foster home of Mrs. Green, Laura Murdock believes money is critical to keep her off the streets. She has vowed to marry a wealthy man. Her work at a women's crisis center in Detroit affirms her belief that money is key to survival.
In St. John's, Lara and renowned artist Wilham Sebastian Kramer meet. He is her favorite painter so is honored when he asks her to pose. As they fall in love, she remains in denial though they marry in Vegas. He is preoccupied with business while she already distrusts any male although Jessie Tucker makes a bid to win her over.
The second of Mrs. Green's foster daughters (see Can't Get Enough of You) is an interesting contemporary Virgin Islands romance in which the child becomes the adult who cannot communicate his or her fears so uses defense mechanisms to hide their feelings. Lara sings "I'm Not In Love" (10cc) and Wilham buries himself in the hotel deal. Although readers obtain profound insight into what holds back the protagonists, the romance between the pair remains extremely passive until later on in the tale.
H. P. Mallory
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345531452 $7.99 www.amazon.com
Almost thirty, fortuneteller Jolie Wilkins gave up on dating after the last few losers were deader than the reanimated she has brought back from beyond. Her self-image is pitiful; however, that was when she was just another mundane human trying to eke out a living. Her world spun off its axis when Rand the Warlock entered her shop. Soon afterward, she becomes a witch resurrected from the dead by Mercedes. Jolie is proclaimed the Queen of the Underworld of vampire, werewolf, fae, and witches; she has no earthly or other plane understanding of why or how it happened except some ties back to 1878 where she almost killed Rand.
Even more confusing for the new royal is Rand the hunk seems to want her. Throwing her already out of control life further into chaos is Sinjin the vampire who desires her Highness while vowing to protect her. Not used to one man coveting her let alone two, Jolie cannot make up her mind. However, Jolie has no time to ponder choosing one as a deadly paranormal species threatens genocide of her subjects even while she begins to learn governance is not a matchbook cover endeavor.
This is an engaging urban fantasy starring a self-deprecating heroine and two hunks who vie for her affection. The storyline starts off a bit choppy as the backstory (from self-published E-books) is provided. Once the game is set, Witchful Thinking turns into a wonderful amusing thriller as the paranormal seem real in the Mallory mythos. Wisenheimer Jolie makes the tale as she struggles with two males wanting her, preventing ethnic cleansing by malevolent mobsters, and learning governance of four conflicted species (like post Tito Yugoslavia).
A Life of Bright Ideas
In 1961 in Dauber, Wisconsin BFFs Evelyn "Button" Peters and Winnalee Malone wrote their observations on life in their Book of Bright Ideas in order to avoid the mistakes they noticed others constantly do. The drifted apart with different lifestyles through the tumultuous sixties.
In 1970 Winnalee the flowerchild returns home to find Button seemingly trapped in a nowhere family scenario. Button's Ma died and her dad quit being a father. She along with her Aunt Verdella raises her younger brother Boohoo while working in the family dress shop. Finally she also misses Jesse who is in the army. Winnalee is taken aback when she learns Button's Ma died as the woman was her reason for coming home. Soon after her arrival, Winnalee's mom Freeda arrives with her infant granddaughter, whom the hippie hoped she could leave with Button's Ma. The two BFFs travel to see Winnalee's Aunt Harriet who raised her as the flowerchild must come to grips with her child.
The sequel to the Book of Bright Ideas is wonderful female buddy tale that follows up on the lives of the now adultery protagonists. Ironically, Winnalee seems care free and liberated while Button seems imprisoned by family responsibility with no freedom; yet the engaging convoluted relationship character driven storyline will challenge readers to never judge a book solely by its cover.
The Eden Prophecy
At her office in the UN building, US Ambassador Claudia Gonzales receives a legal sized letter marked Diplomatic, Materials, Private and Confidential from the office of the Secretary General. She opens it and reads a horrifying threat that claims she is now carrying a virus that will rapidly spread; her fingers are stained making the final salutation gut her stomach: "Welcome to hell."
While medical and anti-terrorist experts look into the unknown virus; in Paris, Dr. Ranga Milan feels alone amidst a crowd. He wonders how much further the once prestigious geneticist will fall. His fingerprints are on the envelope sent to Ambassador Gonzales. Desperate and frightened, Dr. Milan sends a plea for help to a friend and fellow exile, former CIA agent Hawker. Dropping everything Hawker goes to Paris where he finds NRI operative Danielle Laidlaw also seeking Milan. They find the scientist dead, a victim of torture. Hawker and Laidlaw team up to seek the person who viciously murdered Milan who most likely deployed the virus.
This is an exciting action-packed thriller that never allows the reader a respite from the opening scene in 1979 Iran as the Revolution begins to the final confrontation. Fast-paced throughout, The Eden Prophecy is an entertaining good vs. evil battle with a Proto-Elamite script on a scroll and tablet from the same biblical era as the Dead Sea finds. Over the top of the Zagros Mountains and under the streets (in Beirut) fans will enjoy touring the Middle East with Hawker and his growing team.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor,l New York, NY 10019
9780307379993 $24.95 www.amazon.com
In the great Void, Mr g wakes up from a nap feeling bored as he has for ages if there was a concept called time here. He decides to create over the objection of his Aunt Penelope in between her snoring. Uncle Deva tells his nephew to be cautions as you get what you wrought. Both are baffled with Mr g as they share the same snooze.
Mr g creates time and space, which evolves into the first of many universes. However, one thing remains constant Mr g remains bored. Belhor accompanied by his sycophant beast Baphomet challenges Mr g on the concept of the multiverses being good only; insisting that is tedious and incomplete. Furthermore Belhor demands Mr g not only allow for evil, he allows free will to let the creation experiment develop without miraculous intervention.
This intriguing novella is a passive philosophical treatise on the mutual inclusion of scientific creationism theory. The story line is slow and lacks any major tension, but provides a fascinating Genesis premise. There are unanswered questions for instance, did Mr G create the Void as he has the universe and where did Mr G come from as there is no mention of parents but he has relatives. Still fans who appreciate something different will want to read how Mr g using the Belhor's devilish feedback created the universe.
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440245629 $7.99 www.amazon.com
In the Mohave Desert near Ridgecrest, California, Wes Stewart and a crew are working in a film. For Wes the assignment is a homecoming of sorts having lived nearby as a child though this is his first return in about fifteen years.
Wes notices an F-18 Navy fighter plane flying across the clear blue sky on a trajectory that can only mean crash. He runs to the site to rescue the pilot. However, before he can get the aviator out of the F-18, an explosion turns the plane into a crematorium. The local newspaper proclaims Wes a hero, but what shakes him is the photo of the deceased; the man in the newspaper's picture is not the person he helplessly watched die in the plane. Suddenly Wes is a person of interest to the local police and the Navy; however, it is the third party he is unaware of who stalks him with deadly intent.
With Jonathan Quinn taking a well-earned respite from his Cleaner work (see Shadow of Betrayal; and The Silenced), Brett Battles provides a superb taut thriller of a Good Samaritan learning the road to hell is paved in the desert. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Wes fails at the rescue and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although the overly frequent use of happenchance detracts from the plot, readers will enjoy Wes' homecoming.
Eyes Like Leaves
Charles De Lint
1459 18th Street #139
San Francisco CA 94107
9781616960506 $15.95 www.amazon.com
On the Green Isles, magic has remained in a state of harmony seemingly forever due to the power equilibrium between Lothan the Icelord king of Everwinter and his rival Hafari the Summerlord. However, recently the magic has waned and the balance of nature threatened by Lothan who plans to subjugate the people of the Green Isles to Everwinter after he disposes of his dormant adversary.
Puretongue, the great wizard leader of the dhruidery, understands the peril to the land. As time is running out he sends his loyal student Tarn on a mission to gather anyone displaying Hafarl's magick before Lothan finishes his ethnic cleansing of the only viable counter insurgency. Meanwhile as Tarn does his search, the Samarand raiders continue unabated their practice of assaulting and plundering villages. Carrie, lost her family to these vicious marauders, meets Tarn who realizes she is powerfully blessed by warmth of the Summerlord. The pair and Deren the novice stand between Everwinter in the Green Isles.
This is the first publication of a quest Celtic mythological fantasy written by Charles de Lint during President Reagan's first term. The storyline starts very slow as the author sets the locale and the key players in the seasonal civil war. From that snail opening, the plot goes hyperspeed with plenty of action as the bad and the ugly hunt the good and the innocent with genocidal intent. Fans of the author will enjoy this fine tale even without a visit from Jilly Copporcorn or a stop in Newford.
The Woman Special Edition
Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587672538 $35.00 www.amazon.com
The Woman's clan ate human meat with the heart and brain being their gourmet delights. A rival clan attacked them leaving all dead except or The Woman. Severely injured and exhausted she escaped and hid in a cave. While cleaning her wounds in a creek, Christopher Cleek spots her. Fascinated by this feral she beast, he decides to domesticate the wild animal. He takes her prisoner.
He directs his wife Belle and his teenage oldest offspring Peggy to clean up the Woman Cleek holds in chains in the fruit cellar. Neither female wants to go near the wild Woman, but both know never disobey Father, the family martinet patriarch. Cleek tries to break his captive just like he has done to his spouse and three children (Peggy, Brian and Darleen), but her defiant spirit refuses to bend against every abusive effort he deploys. Belle is frightened; as the truth she kept out of her conscious mind for a decade surfaces. She expects her predatory mate to do to the Woman what he has done to her and their daughters. Bell encourages Peggy to lie, but when the teen's pregnancy becomes known, violence erupts.
The Woman is a gory frightening horror thriller that looks at human ugliness towards others even alleged loved ones. The Father's mental and physical control of his family focuses on how psychological warfare works as neither Belle nor Peggy can act even passively defiant like getting the cops until the pregnancy forces their hands. Although the storyline is choppy, the plot asks readers to consider values as ironically; the Woman is the most moral character in site of her being a cannibal and the question lingers over what is civilized?
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316187862 $15.99 www.amazon.com
In the southern section of the High Realms overlooking the Cryptic Sea, King Trimesqua of Yaskatha leads the celebration of the Feast of Ascension. Elhathym the stranger arrives at court informing the monarch his time is over as he has come home to reclaim his city. Irate at this affront, the king splits the self-acclaimed sorcerer's head. Not long after his men dispose of the corpse, the ancient necromancer returns and executes the ruler. Trimesqua's teenage heir Prince D'zan escapes.
D'zan visits neighboring Mumbaza and Khyrei and realms beyond with a call for arms to kick the usurper off the throne before the sorcerer turns to their kingdoms. To the far north bordering on the Giantsland, King Vod of New Urudum suffers from dementia. His oldest son Prince Fangodel meets and betrays the naive D'zan while magical lethal assaults leave the kingdoms in chaos and peril. Unsure who to trust to help him on his quest, D'zan finds a possible ally in Fangodel's youngest sibling Princess Sharadza while he and six other princes loosely align to combat the evil overwhelming the kingdoms.
The Seven Princes is an interesting quest fantasy that focuses on the intrigue and backstabbing between the ruling classes of the six kingdoms. The storyline is action-packed from the grim moment the necromancer offers to simply execute the King Trimesqua to keep the bloodshed down to one insignificant monarch and never slows down until the final confrontation between good and evil. The hero is an "assumed" coming of age protagonist, as readers never see his specific metamorphosis since he just matures with each new incident. Fans will want to tour the kingdoms with D'zan and his peers as their guides.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399256127 $18.99 www.amazon.com
Bellicose Calla knows if she is to be the Alpha of her pack, she must prove her leadership skills in combat and choose a mate. Ren and Shay vie to be that male. However, Calla makes it clear to both competitors and her pack she will not select anyone until the Keepers and their magic are defeated.
Calla also shows her loyalty when she protects her brother Ansrel, stripped of his essence, from those who want to kill him for being a traitor. However, it is what she prays is the final battle that she focuses on; a war Calla does not expect to survive and if she does she knows she will live with regret of having led brave warriors to their deaths; though she feels she had no choice.
The final Nightshade fantasy (see Nightshade and Wolfsbane) is an exciting thriller starring a heroine who was forced to detach her feelings for others in order to lead her side in war as she knows she will leave brothers and sisters in arms dead and maimed. A stunning twist adds to the realism that people die in war. Andrea Cremer provides a shocking but strong finish to an intriguing trilogy.
Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street
In Brooklyn seventh-grader Robyn "Robbie" Forester leaves the subway on her way to school when she sees the homeless woman, whom she has given change to, looking even sicker than before. The woman recognizes Robbie even as the cops and ambulance take her away. Robbie picks up a charm bracelet the homeless person dropped, but her effort to return it is too late.
On the Thatcher girls' basketball team, Robbie sees a strange arc and shoots the winning shot by targeting the light. Later Robbie and her mom, who volunteer at the homeless shelter, learn that millionaire Sheldon Gunn is shutting the facility to obtain more rent from a different client. Gunn plans other closings while Robbie tells her teammate Ashanti and her former classmate Tut-Tut about the power of the bracelet. The three tweeners and Pendleton the dog become the Outlaws of Sherwood Street challenging Gunn.
The coach sets the tone when Ashanti receives an elbow to the head but the ref using a no blood no foul fails to call it with her comment that life is unfair so get over it. The whimsical storyline focuses on serious issues though targeted middle school children as Peter Abrahams scrutinizes income inequality due to legally rigged economic unfairness. Fast-paced, 99% of readers will enjoy Occupy Brooklyn by the modern day Robin Hood, Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420111804 $7.99 www.amazon.com
Ohio seems like the perfect hell for hybrid Shaman Eugenie Markham to raise her unborn twins in a safe environ away from Otherworld assassins and the prophecy. However, her hiding in the humid heat of the Buckeye state leaves her unaware of the crisis in the Otherworld. A spell is turning the realm into a blighted landscape with extinction a real possibility.
Fairy King Dorian's support, who deceived Eugenie re who was to be Iron-Crowned, is trying every desperate measure to prevent what increasingly seems inevitable. He knows the only hope is for him, Eugenie, Kiyo the shifter and others, including beings who want the twins dead, to unite in trust, but she is in the mortal realm looking forward to being a single mom with no desire to cross over.
The final Dark Swan urban fantasy (see Storm Born, Thorn Queen and Iron-Crowned) is a great surprising finish to the strong saga. Fast-paced, Eugenie faces a moral dilemma that leaves her choosing between two terrible choices that no parent ever should have to face. Readers will appreciate Richelle Mead's strong end to a powerful series.
Never Seduce a Scoundrel
In 1277, Cecily Foxe sneaks out of the lavish supper at Fallswtowe Castle. She enters the legendary Foxe Ring stone circle where the myth is a woman will find her mate there. As Cecily arrives, intoxicated rake Oliver Bellecote is thrown from his horse and hits a stone. In spite of his injuries Oliver seduces Cecily.
Oliver heals at Fallestowe with Cecily as his nurse. She is humiliated that her patient fails to remember what she thought was the greatest moment of her life. He dubs her "Saint Cecily" as she seems to be immune to his charm while her oldest sister Sybilla, who no longer can mother hen her youngest sibling (see Never Kiss a Stranger), diligently watches over her middle sister to keep her safe.
The second whimsical Foxe sister historical romance is a fast-paced tale of love between a skeptical rake and a romantic believer. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple meet at the stone circle and never slows down though the plot lacks the whimsical creativeness of the first Foxe "never" thirteenth century thriller. Still with some suspense due to the death of Bellecote's older brother, fans will enjoy Heather Grothaus' fun foxy fable.
My Lord Vampire
Over two centuries ago, Nefri, the most powerful vampire, used the magic of a Medallion to create the Veil that separates the world of mankind from the realm of the undead. Recently Nefri fears an undetermined threat that could destroy both planes. Knowing the Medallion is the avenue for the evil ones, she breaks it into three parts before hiding them amidst three young ladies unaware of what they possess. However, Nefri realizes three avariciouses vampires plan to take the objects; so she sends trustworthy vamps to protect them.
Two men enter the life of Lady Simone Gilbert, who possesses one section of Nefri's Medallion. Suave Tristan Soltern frightens Simone though she is unsure why; while she is attracted to ultra-arrogant Gideon Ravel. As Simone and Gideon fall in love, Tristan kills look-alike whores as a message to his adversary that he can and threatens to reveal her darkest secret.
The first Immortal Rogues Regency romantic fantasy is an entertaining tale starring an intriguing human female. Although Nefri's approach to keep the realms safe seems illogical and the triangle never quite gels as Tristan fails to be a rival for the affection of the target, fans will wonder what secret the feisty Simone conceals while waiting for the war between the vampires.
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407131 $7.99 www.amazon.com
The Price extended family has been cryptid hunters for generations. However, they eventually rejected the Covenant of St. George that condoned species cleansing. Like the rest of her clan, Verity Price is a cryptozoologist who works to insure safe environments for cryptids and humans. However, though she is passionately dedicated, her first love is ballroom dancing though she wonders where that strand of her DNA comes from.
Thus Verity moves from the West Coast to New York to dance for a year. When she prevents a carnivorous ghoul (clearly an oxymoron) from dining on a human, Verity, who works as a waitress for a Dark bogeyman at Dave's Fish and Strips club, concludes this is why she never has a Saturday night date. As cryptids are being hunted in the city, Dominick DeLuca catches Verity in a rooftop snare. The two enemies agree to team up when lizard people are found in the sewers and rumors abound that a sleeping dragon underneath Manhattan gneiss bedrock is awakening.
As October takes a Daye off, Seanan McGuire begins a new urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple. The storyline is fun to follow due to the amusing asides from the priceless heroine. With a nod to the classic cantina scene in Star Wars, it is the McGuire Manhattan mythos with the various cryptid species, many introduced at Dave's club (like the therianthrope bouncer - cute as long as you don't tango, and the dragon princess - known for making money faster than Wall St. and without a male), that makes for a great read.
A True Son of Asmodeus
By Light Unseen Media
PO Box 1233, Pepperell, MA 01463-3233
9781935303350 $13.00 http://bylightunseenmedia.com
In Los Angles, hematologist Dr. Eli Rothenberg mentions to Sheila the ER head nurse that the zoo will end in under an hour, she takes him seriously as his workload comments determine staffing needs. Eli tells her that when he was ten he predicted his dying cousin would recover from meningitis, which happened. His father tried to use his psychic skills at poker but lost his shirt and slapped Eli. He vowed to never use his skill, but Sheila insists subconsciously his ESP talent surfaces.
Eli is shocked when his mentor Dr. Andrew Netter arrives on a gurney with an empty sleeping pills bottle taped to his comatose body. That is the impetus for Eli to quit his job and leave his compassionate girlfriend Karen Lodge to accept a fellowship jointly sponsored by the University of Heidelberg, St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London and the University of Munich. On the trek to London, Eli meets Hasidic Jew Abram Rabinowich of Munich and Schmuel the converted Jew. In London, horrific murders occur while Schmuel visits Eli. He heads to Munich; at the Dachau concentration camp Eli survives evil. Stunned he visits Abram, who introduces him to the Perceptive warriors while malevolence waits for Eli in Auschwitz though six million allies pray for him.
This terrific Hasidic religious thriller grips the audience from the first premonition until the last. Fast-paced and filled with action, Eli is a great hero as he goes from denier to skeptic to believer due to the events that his rationale mind wants to reject. Fans will relish Eli's enlightened run through the darkest evil, which thrives when monsters like Hitler and his gruesome wannabes provide the sustenance.
Fall from Grace
Richard North Patterson
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451617054 $26.00 www.amazon.com
On Martha's Vineyard, internationally famous writer Benjamin Blaine is found dead at the bottom of a cliff overlooking the sea. Ben's estranged son Adam returns home for the first time in a decade to attend his dad's funeral. Others expected at the burial are the deceased's widow Clarice, their other son gay Teddy, his mistress movie star Carla Pacelli and Ben former girlfriend Jenny Leigh.
Ben thinks someone pushed his larger than life father off the edge. He knows the revised will is a powerful motive for those who gained wealth and for those who lost wealth. Carla receives $10 million; Jenny gets $1 million; Adam inherits $100,000; and Clarice and Teddy were left out of the new will with each obtaining nothing. Using what he learned as an agricultural envoy in Afghanistan, Ben investigates.
This is a great thriller filled with stunning but plausible twists as Ben's training and experience in duplicity comes in handy when dealing with the extended Blaine clan. As the protagonist uncovers secrets he wished he never knew, readers will relish his exhilarating investigation. Fall from Grace will be on most short lists for mystery of the year.
Fourteen months ago reporter Siobhan Fallon was nailed to a cross by the Priest, but survived the ordeal though she is not quite what she was. Her editor at the Sunday herald Paddy Griffin sends Siobhan to Cork on another soft assignment to cover the funeral of realtor Cormac Horgan, who committed suicide. Mrs., Kearny saw her at the funeral and knows Siobhan wrote an article on Cormac. She asks Siobhan to find her missing daughter Gemma Kearney who was Cormac's girlfriend. Siobhan makes inquiries into the deceased and his vanished girlfriend that leads her to Bristol, but what she fails to find stuns her.
In Dublin, Detective Inspector Mike Mulcahy, who speaks the language, helps the Spanish police investigate the murder of Irishman Bingo Begly on the resort Fuengirola. He and his team are also investigating a large cache of cocaine found on a yacht near Cork with no person nearby. While their cases continue, someone is assassinating mobsters. When Mulcahy and Fallon compare what they know, they realize their two cases and the serial murders case are tied together, but how and who remains out of reach.
The key to this exciting investigative thriller is trying to figure out how the inquiries connect; that is if they do because Gerald O'Donovan does a great job making it difficult to see except as a Monday morning quarterback. The storyline starts slow as the lead pair is introduced showing their PTSD (especially Siobhan) remnants from The Priest case (worth reading too). Once the die is cast, the plot accelerates into a great Irish mystery.
The Last Good Man
A.J. Kazinski, author
Tiina Nunnally, translator
In the Yonghegong Temple in Beijing, Ling the monk drops dead with an inflamed etching across his back. Italian police officer Tommaso di Barbara sends Giuseppe Locatelli to Suvarna Hospital in Mumbai to confirm what he expects with the death of economist Raj Bairoliya. The same thing had occurred in Hanoi and elsewhere. Tommaso believes someone is murdering humanitarians around the globe.
Stunned, Tommaso links thirty-four identical deaths of good people by a serial killer, which leads him to Jewish scripture of the pious thirty-six preventing the end of humanity. As the world climate summit comes to Copenhagen, Tommaso enlists Danish detective Niels Bentzon to help him save the last two standing. Niels finds nobody worthy until he obtains the help of grieving scientist Hannah Lund, who struggles with her son's suicide. She finds the pattern in which the last two homicides will occur in Venice and Copenhagen very soon.
Based on the Jewish belief of the thirty six righteous but unenlightened people who prevent the end of the world, The Last Good Man is an exhilarating thriller. The prime trio is fully developed with flaws and disbeliefs making them human. Their desperation to identify and keep safe the last two good people standing is fun to follow. Although the Jewish scripture of pre-determined chosen ones is fascinating, this insight slows down the pace of an otherwise exciting running out of time biblical doomsday countdown.
The Ruined City
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553583823 $15.00 www.amazon.com
The abduction left pampered privileged Jianna Belandor, daughter of powerful Faerlonnish overlord the Magnifico Aureste Belandor, was shaken with what she learned about the Veiled Isles and her family as a prisoner of her Aunt Magnifico Onarto. She escapes with the help of rebel sympathizer Falaste Rione the physician while seeing her privileged lifestyle though the eyes of the lower classes (see The Traitor's Daughter).
She returns home to deadly chaos. Her father is missing, The City Ruined by disease and the amphibian slaves in open revolt, while those who die return from the dead. Arcane practitioners read these and believe they are the signs of a revelation switch as an enigmatic magical spring the Source has begun the shift of alignments that is leading to a pandemic catastrophe for the Veiled Islands.
The second Jianna Belandor escapades are a wonderfully complex romantic quest fantasy with multiple subplots linked by the doomsday countdown. The cast is fully developed whether they are the heroic lead couple, the zombie horde or the amphibian rebels, etc. Fans will appreciate the Brandon mythos as The Ruined City is a fabulous frenzied forerunner of what looks like the cataclysmic end of the Veiled Islands unless a magical miracle emerges.
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758267054 $9.95 www.amazon.com
In Chicago, St. Brigid's High School senior, Maura "Mo" Fitzgerald witnessed the mob take out her BFF Verity; her thirst for vengeance led mousy Mo into a world of magic, prophecy and two mysterious hunks Colin and Luc (see Torn). Her need to avenge Verity's murder changes to protecting those she loves but she fears she will never be freed from the Arcs, her mobster uncle, the Quartered and the Seraphim has all seem to have her in their crosshairs.
In one month since the homicide that changed her life occurred, Mo has a major dilemma as she has no one to take to the Sadie Hawkins dance. However wanting to be left alone to attend school and work at the diner is not an option; as the Chicago mob never lets witnesses live and the magic with the surges since the Torrent never lets practitioners especially one embroiled in the ancient prophecy quit. A grieving raging Constance is now the magical battleground.
The second Mo urban fantasy is a terrific thriller with a profound morality question cutting across the entertaining storyline as the resultant heroine deals with the unintended nasty consequences of her seemingly pristine actions in Torn. Action-packed, it is the second and third order effects that will have the enthralled audience wondering if the end justifies the mean even when that mean goes against your positive values. Tangled is a wonderful teenage thriller as Mo just wants to choose between secretive Colin and enigmatic Luc, but then fate may have chosen Billy for her.
Death of a Kitchen Diva
In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times Editor in Chief Sal Moretti offers his office manager single mom (of fifteen year old Gemma and thirteen years old Dustin) Hayley Powell the position of writing the food and wine column with the nonagenarian reporter retiring. She agrees and her column proves successful with its unpretentious Maine earthiness, which angers her rival at the Bar Harbor Herald prim and proper British aristocratic Karen Applebaum.
However, Karen is found dead with her face buried in a bowl of Hayley's clam chowder. The police consider Hayley their only suspect and soon Officers Earl and Haley arrest her. She makes bail and with her BFFs investigates the Death of a Kitchen Diva.
This is an amusing culinary amateur sleuth starring a delightful beleaguered protagonist. The breezy storyline is fun to follow as the war of the recipes turns deadly. Although the sub-genre is loaded with similar entries (see Diane Mott Davidson), sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining regional whodunit as Haley seeks out a cold blooded killer whose recipe includes the soccer mom taking the fall.
By The King's Design
In 1812 Leeds, Annabelle Stirling runs her successful cloth making dress shop. Her wastrel brother Wesley and her fiance Clive Pryce join the Luddites who destroy her new gig machine as immoral. Angry at the double betrayal and believing the Luddites worked for her rivals, Belle demands the authorities do something; they ignore her rants.
Fuming, she heads to London to make her case with the leadership, but the Prince Regent who she meets acts no differently than what she met in Leeds. Architect John Nash takes her under his wings as his mentee while she and cabinet maker Putnam Boyce are attracted to one another. Meanwhile Wesley gets involved with a high level assassin abduction plan.
The latest Christine Trent historical (see A Royal Likeness and The Queen's Dollmaker) is an engaging Regency story starring a likable protagonist who enjoys her shop vocation; which makes the twin betrayals that much more hurtful. The storyline is driven by undeterred Belle's need for retribution as she makes a wonderful lead holding the plot together. While the Luddite movement anchors time and place, other historical facts slow down what is overall a strong early nineteenth century tale.
Touch of a Rogue
Clairvoyant investigator Jacob Preston loves women, but demands his females be passionate in his bed and married so as to insure no dangling relationship demands. Lady Julianne hires Jacob to determine whether her husband's death was not a suicide as reported and to locate the missing Druid dagger in the set he was collecting.
Jacob knows a widow is off limits in his womanizing as that means she is no longer married. Yet he cannot stop his desire for her. She matches him move for move as Julienne desires her detective but wants no commitment. A fanatical Wollstonecraft disciple, Julienne demands she be Jacob's sidekick on the inquiry; though he insists he works with no partner except in the boudoir, she refuses to not join the investigation.
The second touching Preston paranormal historical romance (see Touch of a Thief) is a terrific nineteenth century frolic containing a madcap relationship mindful of the Grant-Hepburn movies. Fast-paced from the moment the protagonists meet, readers will enjoy their gender war antics inside of a clever detective storyline in which the feminist and the clairvoyant rock each other's worlds.
On Jasper Mills, veterinarian Hannah MacPherson grieves the death of her husband though he died in Iraq four years ago. Frustrated by her lack of response to the missives he sent to the stubborn Hannah that she inherited a Scottish castle, dragon-human Taggart de Gaelson arrives in Jasper Mills to bring her to Taroc Na Mor. Though wary, she goes to Scotland with Taggart.
He and his race need her to save his breed as she is the last sacred guardian of the Draecna magical dragons who guard the portal between worlds. Hannah is a whisperer who talks with animals. Taggart believes her uncanny skill will bring out the hatchlings from their eggs. However, she soon finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the bitter war between brothers.
This is an award winning entertaining romantic urban fantasy starring a stubborn American and a desperate hybrid. The romance seems too stereotypical as a woman in mourning for several years attracted to an outsider wanting to disrupt her life is a sub-genre staple. However, the dragons waging an inbreeding dark good and evil civil war with the Yank tilting the edge to one side makes for an exciting thriller.
St. Jude Hospital provides medical services to five California prisons including San Quentin. Currently, Doctors Alyssa Foster and Greg Dyne compete for the radiologist vacancy. Alyssa is escorted to San Quentin where she is attending to convicted murderer thirtyish Teague Creek who complains about pain. She dislikes his racist tattoos like the Swastika, but finds herself wanting him though concerned with the heat of his body. After finishing her examination, Creek places his loose hand chain around Foster's throat. Using her as his shield, he escapes from the prison with his subordinate Taz helping them hide in the Bay area though the latter wants the doctor dead.
Creek thinks Foster is Hannah who slept with his former best friend now his enemy; the man in control of his daughter Kat. At the same time DARPA sends Jason Vasser to kill Teague. Creek makes it appear that Foster is his partner not his hostage as he works to regain custody of his Kat. As his plans seem to constantly fail, the convict and the physician feel the Fever heat of love.
This is an exciting action-packed thriller with fantasy elements that starts with the hostage escape and never slows down until the final confrontation. The changing relationship between the lead couple is nicely developed so that it seems real overcoming improbability even considering the Stockholm syndrome. However, Senator Schaffer and DARPA's need to kill Creek never quite gels though compassion has a life time warranty in prison, but a death sentence outside. Still fans will enjoy Joan Swan's tense romantic suspense.
The Sometimes Daughter
Sherri Wood Emmons
In the mud of Woodstock as Crosby, Stills, and Nash are about to perform, Cassie gives birth to a baby Judy. Over the next few years Cassie remains the war protesting flowerchild indulging in sex and drugs. She takes her infant with her on her anti-Vietnam marches and to parties.
On the other hand Judy's father Kirk has a revelation with the birth of his daughter. He understands parental responsibility so he cleans up his act to be the best dad to his child he can be. Kirk goes to law school, divorces his wife, and wins custody of Judy taking the child home to Indiana from a Kentucky hippy commune. Cassie flies free only occasionally visiting her child. When her mom moves to an ashram in India, a growing up Judy grieves her loss while struggling to hide her abnormal family so as to fit in the acceptable norm. Kirk remarries Treva adding to his offspring's feelings of being an outsider; at a time when Cassie finally comes home with a demand to include her Sweet Judy in her life.
Told by the perspective of the young Sweet Judy, fans will see the impact of parents failing to parent and eventually abandoning their child. Judy, Kirk and Cassie are fully developed so the reader understands what motivates each thought he parents are filtered by their child. The support cast is solid as they enhance the child's feelings of not belonging when they try to help her fit in. The ending fails to provide closure, which is disconcerting, yet seems apropos for this intriguing relationship drama.
Cinnamon Roll Murder
Although most folks from the lower states insist Minnesota has two seasons, residents of town like Lake Eden know there are four seasons with the recent one being the Mud Season. Thus Hannah Swensen drives her cookie truck very carefully as road conditions during this time of year are slick and hazardous. She and her sister Michelle are delivering cinnamon rolls to the Lake Eden Inn when they come across a chain reaction multi vehicle pileup.
A bus belonging to the Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band has fallen into the ditch; the driver is dead but the musicians are more fortunate only suffering minor injuries. The sisters go to help those inside the bus and meet keyboard player Buddy Neiman who tries to pick up Michelle who has a boyfriend. He has injuries to his wrist so is sent to the hospital for x-rays. However, someone stabs him with a surgeon's scissor, killing him. Hannah investigates who murdered the jazz performer seeking the motive even as her beloved boyfriend Norman has related personal issues that may end their relationship.
The latest Hannah Swensen amateur sleuth (see Devil's Food Cake Murder) is an enjoyable whodunit with several sweet recipes. The storyline is fast-paced as the heroine follows clues that stun her when they somewhat lead to Lake Eden. Although the cops are non-existent, as if they did not want to interfere with the baker's inquiry, fans still will appreciate this culinary cinnamon cozy.
The King's Agent
Donna Russo Morin
Battista della Palla understands his role, if he wants to live, is to obtain by any means necessary masterpieces for his patron King Francois I of France. He and his seven man crew have been so successful that Battista is a favorite of the monarch and residents of Florence enjoy the royal patronage.
King Francois I and his only viable rival for ruling Western Europe King Charles V of Spain appear on the brink of turning their cultural cold war into heated deadly hostilities. Needing an edge, Francois sends his top royal art procurer to obtain (Battista knows that connotes steal) an ancient Greek sculpture protected by dangerous guardians as the relic allegedly will lead to the owner reigning victoriously. As he and his unit begin the trek across Italy, Lady Aurelia sneaks away from her overbearing guardian the Marquess of Mantua Federica of Gonzaga. Aurelia manages to join the traveling troupe though she conceals from her benefactor an inconvenient truth.
Using real persona like the hero (an art agent for Francois I) and the Marquess to anchor time and place, Donna Russo Morin provides another wonderful Renaissance thriller (see To Serve a King and The Secret of the Glass). The action-packed historical story line is enhanced by engaging fantasy elements, a bittersweet romance, homage to Dante's Divine Comedy, and the schism between Da Vinci (paintings) and Michelangelo (sculptures). Fast-paced, readers will want to tour sixteenth century Italy with the King's Agent as their guide.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345505712 $28.00 www.amazon.com
In her apartment, the victim fifty-six years old Vita Berlin was mutilated with her guts placed like a precious necklace around her neck. The only clue to the horrific murder is a strange note with a question mark on it left inside a pizza box that adds eeriness to an already unnerving homicide. LAPD homicide detective Lieutenant Milo Sturgis leads the investigation. His friend and frequent police consultant psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware assists on the inquiry. Both men who have seen too much violence over the years are particularly shook up by this gruesome killing.
As they work the case, several additional similar murders occur. They find a link at the mothballed Ventura State Hospital; a place that at one time housed mentally troubled people with the worst head cases locked away in the Specialized Care Unit. Alex interviews psychiatrists who worked with the victims, but all hide behind a wall of privacy.
The latest Delaware-Sturgis police procedural is an entreating serial killer thriller as mildly mocking Miles is off his feed bag with this case. The storyline is fast-paced with a deep spotlight shining on when the mental health care system fails. Although the ending feels off kilter and Delaware has worked vicious serial killing cases with and without Sturgis (see The Butcher's Theater), fans will enjoy the latest buddies' whodunit as their usual quipping is subdued by the brutal homicides.
If You Know Her
Nia Hollister knows logically the law caught the killer Joe Carson who brutalized and killed her cousin Jolene six months ago in Ash, Kentucky. She saw his corpse, yet her instincts scream at her that something is not right. To obtain closure, she heads to Ash.
The only negative with her quest in her mind is in Ash is Law Reilly, who she obsesses over as much as finding who killed Joely. Law reciprocates her attraction and goes up in her mind when he does not scorn her theory but actually supports her assertion. As Nia scrutinizes the police report and other related public documents, Law fears for her safety from an unknown enemy watching her. He will soon learn that sometime paranoia is justified when her room is haphazardly searched.
The final Ash romantic suspense is a great finish to a strong series. The overarching whodunit os brilliantly resolved while the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the increasingly dangerous investigation. Although it behooves the audience to read the previous novels in order (see If You See Her and If You Hear Her) as they build up and directly lead to this suspenseful climax, Shiloh Walker completes the fabulous Ash saga with another super entry.
Born to Darkness
The United States is spiraling into third world status as the Great Depression II wreaks havoc on most people due to policies that legalized unfair practices leading to the wealthiest doing great while everyone paid the price. For much of the increasing poor there is only one commodity they can sell: their preteen daughters. The Organization has created Destiny from the hormones of pre-puberty females; the affluent love the elixir that allows those with money to buy the perfect physical specimen at the cost of their mind.
The Obermeyer Institute opposes the sale of girls as a commodity and by extrapolation are against the use of Destiny. However, groups like the Organization own the media and the politicians so Obermeyer is considered by most a place for crackpots. With nowhere to turn, banished former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin joins OI though he believes the media portrayal of lunatics especially the "Greater-Thans" philosophy to deploy otherworldly powers for the common good. He changes his mind when female Greater Than scientists half his size kicks his butt in. Shane and Greater Than Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie had shared a one night stand before he joined OI as a test subject. In Boston, they attempt to rescue a young girl sold for her hormones who appears to be a Greater Than.
Noted for Breaking the Rules of romantic suspense with her Troubleshooters saga, Suzanne Brockmann provides a powerful enthralling and dark paranormal thriller as the extraction of young female hormones is a capitalist commodity exchange item. The gripping premise extrapolates trends in economics, politics, journalism and pharmaceutical to paint a dark soulless future. The prime romance between the protagonists and a gay relationship enhance an exciting fast-paced rescue mission.
Jane Vows Vengeance
Michael Thomas Ford
Living in Brakeston, New York as Jane Fairfax the owner of Flyleaf Books, Jane Austen agrees to marry Walter Fletcher. They plan their wedding, which proves difficult for Jane in a proof positive you legally exist photo ID era. Jane has no family to invite as they died two centuries ago and few friends. When Walter receives an invitation to tour the fine architect of Europe, he and Jane decide to marry in the Tower. An astonished Lord Byron gets her a passport through a zombie forger.
At the Tower, Jane is distracted by the appearances of the two lost princes. The ceremony is cancelled when Joshua Mobley, Jane's husband of nine days over two centuries ago, arrives. Walter grudgingly accepts the wait until his fiancee can extradite herself from her nuptials. Jane wonders who told her vampire husband that she would be at the Tower. She also hears about Crispin's Needle, an object that allegedly if stuck into a vampire's heart turns them into a human with a soul. Jane searches the continent for the device while in London she is the prime suspect in a murder investigation.
The latest Jane the contemporary vampire tale is a witty satire that continues the spoofing of the Austen mania including the novels by Michael Thomas Ford (see Jane Goes Batty and Jane Bites Back). Jane's sardonic self-deprecating sense of humor keeps her sane in a world that seems insane as she jumps from one crisis into another. With Lord Byron and Charlotte Bronte to help drive her crazy, Jane learns how complicated life for an undead who just wants to get married can be in a digital ID mania age.
Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood
Ice-T and Douglas Century
Ice was born as Tracy Marrow in Newark and raised in upper middle class Summit with two caring and nurturing parents. He learned early on the true meaning of "pass" and "darkie" as the rules of allowable social conduct with whites and blacks in suburbia was summed up by his mom: "people are stupid." When he was in the third grade, his mother died from a heart attack; four years later his dad also succumbed to a heart attack. Twelve years old Tracy was sent to live with an aunt in Los Angeles. He joined the gang community and by eighteen became a dad. Tracy joined the army and for two years was gung ho, but halfway into his tour he wanted out though he completed his commitment. When he returned to Los Angeles, he became a thief before becoming Ice-T the rapper, public enemy number one in the family values Quayle condemnation and censorship of Cop Killer, a rocker and a Hollywood star.
This is a fascinating super autobiography in which Ice profoundly concentrates on his reengineering his life with several incarnations. His early tastes of racism from whites and blacks sets the profound profane tone as the audience learns the star's decision making thoughts. Ironically this insightful easy to read memoir can be summed up with Quayle who?
How to Be Death
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781937007287 $7.99 www.amazon.com
Since her dad's untimely death thanks to his late oldest daughter (see Death's Daughter), Calliope Reaper-Jones feels pressure she does not want; as the President and CEO of Death, Inc. with the Board and others making demands on her life. She knows she needs to read How to be Death (A Fully Annotated Guide), but has not gotten around to it. Instead she has depended on her younger brilliant sister Clio and a few of her dad's best minions to help her as the girl who can make her deadly wishes come true.
Reaper attends the annual Death Dinner and masquerade ball at Haunted Hearts Castle. At the gala, she sees Daniel who she loves but assumes her feelings are unrequited; besides he is busy running Hell while his former boss receives heavenly punishment for his failed coup. Lying on the floor of Cal's room is Daniel's date Coy who is beheaded. Former Psychical Bureau of Investigation field agent Edgar Freezay leads the homicide investigation while Callie panics that the guide book she never opened has been stolen; if misused it could mean the extinction of humanity.
This is an entertaining locked castle murder mystery in which the homicide occurs about half way into the storyline. Callie has not matured since inheriting the position (see Serpent's Storm and Cat's Claw) as she remains unsure and shallow especially in the pre-murder chapters; in fact she would agree Clio is a better long term choice to become Ms. Death. Freezay takes over the novel with his inquiry. Still fans will enjoy Callie's chick lit commentary as she struggles to learn How To Be Death; a job she does not want nor feel capable of performing.
Mark Del Franco
A consultant to the Boston Police Department who has risked his life and soul on arcane cases (see Unperfect Souls), druid Connor Grey has no time for bitterness when he is accused of terrorism (see Uncertain Allies) after what happened to the Weird neighborhood. Instead he has much greater issues to contend with as a Fey civil war seems imminent.
He struggles to control the dark mass at the core of his brain and the Faith Stone buried inside his head following his battle with the Elven King. Connor joins essences he does not trust as each has secret agendas and failed attempts to Machiavellian him. Still war brings together strange bedfellows so he unites with Meryl, Eorla Elvendottira and Ceridwen in order to prevent Celtic Queen Maeve from igniting a Fey war with her Teutonic enemies that will leave so many innocent dead.
This is a great entry in a strong urban fantasy saga as the hero (and readers) learns what the mass is and much more. Fast-paced, fans will relish Connor and his allies as they risk their lives to stop a Fey-made catastrophe from happening that will leave so many dead.
In London, Alex Verus runs a magic shop. Not only does this proprietorship enable him to use his knowledge but is also the perfect cover in plain sight of his talent. Alex is a diviner mage who can see the infinite possible futures and can sometimes influence which one occurs. His ability has the warring forces of the Light and the Dark wanting him on their respective side and will do anything even causing collateral damage to the innocent to make him their stooge.
Choosing neither side as he believes both are wrong with the damage they cause to civilians, Alex has one other unique trait that no other mage apparently possesses as he is an empath who feels for those he knows. The mage factions demand Alex open a relic from the ancient mage war. He looks into the future and realizes that the outcome of doing their bidding is one hundred percent deaths for him and his two dependents, Luna the cursed woman, and Starbreeze the ancient air elemental dumber than a rock. Alex and his wards flee as he foresees their only slim possible chance to survive the assaults from the Light and the Dark is flight not fight.
This is a great opening act as the first Alex Verus urban fantasy establishes the Jacka rules of magical physics but does so interwoven inside a fast-paced storyline. The cast is solid (even the ephemeral) but rascally Alex keeps the tale focused as he versus a world in which the superpowers reject neutrality; nor does either side care about the mundane. Instead the mantra is "You're either part of the solution or part of the problem" (Eldridge Cleaver).
Cooking the Books
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589823 $24.95 www.amazon.com
In Melbourne, size twenty Corinna Chapman, owner of Earthly Delights bakery, hates Christmas as the city is always hot and dirty and the shoppers are even more demanding. She closes down the bakery planning to do nothing but cool down. Her assistant baker teenager Jason is off learning to surf; her boyfriend private investigator Daniel searches for a multi-thousand dollar theft; and the girls (Kylie and Goss) obtain parts in the soapie Kiss The Bride.
Corinna ends up at Earthly Delights feeling like the Mad Hatter or perhaps the executed chef of Richard III, baking Heavenly Pleasures for Mrs. Dawson's tea party. She quickly learns how doing nothing is extremely s hard work. Her school mate Thomasina the caterer hires her to bake for the cast and crew filming Kiss The Bride. Corinna needs little time to know something is not kosher on the set as sabotage, twisted nursery rhymes (that Jay Ward and his fans like moi would appreciate) and a confrontation with Tabitha the feline who is a bit more aggressive than Horatio the cat occurs.
The latest Corinna Chapman series (see Forbidden Fruit and Trick or Treat) is an amusing Australian cozy filled with irony; as the heroine finds out what Oscar Wilde said: "It is awfully hard work doing nothing learned." Fans will enjoy the self-deprecating heroine who is comfortable in her "fat" (as she says) skin most of the time. Entertaining and whimsical, fans will enjoy the latest escapades of Melbourne's bah humbug baker and her busy eccentric crew.
Mary Anna Evans
An environmental company hires archeologist Dr. Faye Longchamp-Manttoth and her husband Joe Wolf Mantooth to research and document archaeological sites at the mouth of the Mississippi below New Orleans. The routine work turns complicated as the Deepwater Horizon explosion threatens the historical locales with massive oil and the couple's company as their client offers a lot more money for the mother lode of an environmental impact statement, but Faye doubts they have the capacity to take on the expanded scope; they can't say no as that would kill their firm as well.
Adding to their difficulties is Dauphine the babysitter of their one year old toddler Michael is injured and unable to watch the infant. They hire teenage amateur treasure hunter Amande Landreneau as the babysitter. Amande lives with her irresponsible grandmother on a dilapidated houseboat and at times her alcoholic uncle joins them. She quickly adulates the independent Faye with plans to avoid the foster care system by caring for herself. The teen proves helpful with locations, but everything changes when her neglectful relatives are murdered.
The latest Faye Longchamp archeological mystery (see Strangers, Floodgates, Findings, Artifacts, and Relics) is made fresh by the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the appearance of wonderful Amande who steals the show from the adults. Filled with action, Mary Anna Evans makes a strong case that the Louisiana coast known for pirates still has raiders plundering the natural resources.
Nine for the Devil
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
In 548 in Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire, Empress Theodora has died from a terrible illness. However, her husband Emperor Justinian, twenty years her senior, believes otherwise that someone murdered his spouse by poisoning her.
He directs lord chamberlain John to investigate his wife's death with the warning of finding her killer or he and his family will face the same consequences Justinian plans for Theodora's murderer. John knows that the empress died of natural causes from a debilitating disease as few had access to the Empress. Still though a doubting Thomas, he analyzes who of the many with motives at the castle had both access and major gains with Theodora out of the way. He narrows the list to a few powerful people with deep grudges against the royal couple, but remains skeptical that a homicide occurred as opportunity is limited to Gaius the royal physician and food servicing servants to have delivered poison.
The latest John the Lord Chamberlain sixth century Constantinople mystery (see Eight for Eternity) is a great entry that combines a strong whodunit with a puissant look at the period mostly inside the place but somewhat also through the heroes' friends and family outside too. The palace politics engages the audience as the norm is superstition (for instance the Emperor is a demon), backstabbing and betrayal. John knows the urgency of his mission as time is running out on him and his loved ones with Justinian demanding the head of his wife's killer. With a moral dilemma to hand over someone or else, fans will enjoy John's latest adventures in the palace of Emperor Justinian.
Darker Than Any Shadow
Summer in Atlanta is the usual boiling with the heat and humidity forcing the Atlanta Zoo crew to feed ice cubes to the animals. Dexter's Guns and More gun shop operator Tai Randolph's BFF Rico Worthington asks Trey Seaver, a former SWAT cop turned corporate security expert, to watch the door at the club during a national poetry recital contest. In his Armani, Trey the human crime calculator agrees. Trey accompanied by Tai explains that Rico fears Maurice "Vigil" Cunningham, who just was freed on a technicality after spending four days incarcerated for a weapons carrying parole violation, will cause trouble.
A fire breaks out at the club. As people leave, Tai finds poet Lex Anderson, who replaced Vigil, dead. APD Detective Sandford Cummings believes Rico committed the crimes of murder and arson. Tai investigates with mixed help from Trey, who remains unpredictable since he lost a fight with a wall he crashed his car into two plus years ago.
The second Tai-Trey mystery (see The Dangerous Edge of Things) is an entertaining thriller starring a wonderful heroine and a somewhat brain damaged killing machine. Fast-paced, Trey wants Tai to stay out of the dangerous world of poets who could slay the enemy with a rhyme or two. Turning upside down the mantra "the word (computer) is mightier than the sword," fans will appreciate Tina Whittles' ode to murder and poetry as Trey says both can leave a person dead.
Cowboy to the Rescue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373754007 $5.25 www.amazon.com
Merline Teague, proprietor of the Vista Hills Guest Ranch in rural Texas, interviews Brooke Vincent for the position of a cook. Mrs. Teague remarks that the applicant's resume is thin, but will give her a trial of cooking for the family. If that works out she will also cook for the guests who can number upwards of forty. The food is so good that Merline's son Simon jokingly proposes. Brooke Vincent is hired while she laments that Brooke Alder no longer exists.
Another Teague son, Ryan was a loner before he served in the Iraq War; now he is all but a hermit except for his family. However, he feels more than just attracted to the new cook, Ryan senses a fellow wounded warrior. Ryan also knows he cannot compete with Simon who is interested in the new employee. Brooke hopes hiding on the ranch will eventually force publicly squeaky clean lobbyist Chris Franklin to stop stalking her since she no longer resided in Arlington though she misses her family in West Virginia. However, no one walks out on Franklin who will use any tool including threatening the Teague clan and Brooke's extended family including her young nieces to force her to return to him.
The latest Teagues of Texas (see The Cowboy's Secret Son) is a tense romantic suspense starring two hurting souls and a psychopath. Readers will appreciate love healing the protagonists even as she fears she owes him the truth at the cost of her job, haven and him. Fans will relish this exciting taut thriller as readers anticipate that Franklin is coming for Brooke.
In Santa Rey, California, Rainey Saunders is the junior sports coordinator at the beleaguered North District Rec Center. At the same time that Rainey and her BFF Lena run a car wash to raise some funds, on the news the Sacramento Mammoth players and their thirty-four years old coach Mark Diego and the Anaheim Ducks got into a brawl at a seedy bar after the latter team won the Stanley Cup over the former team due to a controversial call. Lena dates their boss, Mark's brother Rick' while Rainey remembers when she was sixteen and offered herself to Mark who rejected his friend's advances with a life misconduct.
Mark and two of his players arrive at the rec center as the coach and his Ducks' counterpart make their inane fighters do community service. Rainey's seditious heart stops as she knows she still wants the rat, but she never forgave him for the humiliation. However, as he hangs around coaching the girls' softball team, he realizes he is in love; she has been in love with him for over a decade. He plans to score the goal of his life winning the trust of his woman.
This is a charming second chance at love sports romance starring two likable protagonists and a strong support cast especially rec teens at the rec center. Fans will enjoy this fun tale as Mark prays Rainey will release him from the penalty box so that they can heat the ice with their love.
Power of the Raven
Two months have passed since their Navaho foster father Hosteen Silver died. His "children" Gene Redhouse, Daniel Hawk and Paul Greyhorse miss their "uncle" who taught them to cherish life, but believe the medicine man still watches them to insure they respect themselves and others.
After a grueling day in Hartley filing documents as Hosteen's executor, Gen heads home to his ranch when a frantic woman leaps in front of his truck; he barely misses hitting her. They met earlier at the DMV as he completed some of his late foster father's estate documents there. Lori Baker claims jewelry designer Bud Harrington refuses to accept her rejection of him and stalks her. She also explains she has talked to the police about this sleaze but he accused her of stalking him. Gene and Lori are attracted to each other, but he saw her stalker run from him though he cannot testify that the predator is Bud. With his foster brothers having their back, Gene knows he must earn the trust of the wary woman by keeping her safe before he takes her to his special spot in Copper Canyon.
The second Copper Canyon Navaho romantic suspense is a terrific tale as two individuals from different cultures fall in love while he protects her as a woman in peril. Aimee Thurlo provides a deep focus on the difficulty victims and law enforcement face dealing with a stalker. There is a second subplot involving a DMV employee that enhances the entertaining storyline. However as in Daniel's entry (see Winter Hawk's Legend), the Power of the Raven is the Navaho elements like the hero's ability to communicate with animals and the foster siblings' bond.
Her father King Adrik of Hytanica forced his daughter Alera to marry hedonistic Lord Steldor, son of the Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan. Once they wedded, Adrik removes the crown from his head, places it on the new monarch King Steldor and vows allegiance to his replacement. However, Alera does not want her spouse and refuses to consummate their marriage as she loves Narian of her country's enemy Cokyri.
The Overlord of Cokyri uses his mystic abilities and the hostage of a woman Narian cares about to force him to betray Hytanica where he was treated well. Narian is to lead the invasion that will end the long running hot and cold Legacy war with Cokyri victorious. When he takes his troops into combat, Alera's loses what is left of her innocence as she thought her beloved would never commit atrocities against the kingdom that treated him well.
This is an entertaining young adult romantic alternative medieval historical that contains fantasy elements. The irony of the two warring nations are neither remembers what the original dispute was about and the plight of Alera who if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the ruling Queen and not just the wife of the king. Although it is critical to read Legacy before perusing Allegiance to understand the two kingdoms and their complicated ties that bind them, readers will enjoy this entry as Alera must choose between her love for her country symbolized by the king she loathes, and her love for her enemy symbolized by the Commander she loves.
Spotlight Magazine editor Tina Deschanel learns that her entertainment reporter Keri Daniels and reclusive famous author Joe Kowalski were an entry two decades ago in high school. Tina has Joe on the bulletin board as the number three interview for years. She demands Keri do her job or find a job.
Keri left their New Hampshire home years ago without a look back at brokenhearted Joe. She makes contact and he agrees to her interrogation if she meets his condition. Keri must join the extended Kowalski family two-week camping trip. Reluctantly Keri accepts Joe's terms. She quickly finds herself under assault by her former best friend Joe's twin sister Terry, and wants to escape from the angst of his brothers and their spouses. Throw in a teen, four tweeners, and her attraction to her former sweetheart, Keri considers finding work suddenly viable; while Joe makes it clear she will not run away this time.
This is an amusing second chance at love romance in which the support cast, except for overly baggage Terry, adds humor and poignancy. Character driven, readers will enjoy the antics of the "Killer" Kowalskis as Keri and Joe realize they still are in love.
Forever And A Day
In 1830 Duke Roderick Gideon Tremayne is in New York City seeking an enigmatic map his mother begged him to retrieve. He intercedes when a thief tries to grab a young woman's bag, but is severely injured in the process. The obviously affluent Good Samaritan suffers from amnesia, but doctors inform Irish-American Georgia Milton he should quickly recover his memory.
Georgia takes her patient home to her apartment to heal though she knows his stay will intrude on her activity as the head of the Forty Thieves. As the amnesiac and his nurse fall in love, each one knows when his memory returns that he is ballrooms and she is streets.
Although amnesia and matchmaking devices have been used frequently (see The Blackguard's Bride by Melynda Beth Skinner), fans will enjoy this warm historical romance due to the unusual occupation of the Olive Twist heroine. Part of the fun is the male protagonist's struggles to adjust to tenement living in New York; as instinctively he is used to luxury of being served not toiling. Readers will enjoy the tale of two economic and social opposites falling in love.
In Concord, New Hampshire, Jasper's Bar and Grill owner Kevin Kowalski is the biggest Brady fan in the world as every time the Pats win he scores. He informs a drunk that he will not be served anymore alcohol. The sop goes ballistic accidently elbowing his "date" and throwing a punch at Kevin. The bartender grabs the man and mashes his nose to the bar. The cops arrive while the intoxicated man Derek informs his companion Beth Hansen that she is fired.
Kevin cannot get Beth out of his head, but has no hope ever to see her again. Fate becomes his ally when Beth attends a Kowalski wedding. His admiration for her goes stratospheric when she survives his insane extended family. They make love, but she is gone in the morning. Beth returns to inform Kevin she is pregnant. He persuades her to move in to his apartment above the bar though her need for independence makes her wary. As they fall in love, Kevin knows he needs a Hail Mary touchdown pass to persuade his beloved they and their unborn belong together as a loving family, but fears he will be sacked.
The latest Killer Kowalski Bostonian tale (see Exclusively Yours) is a warm humorous contemporary romance starring two charming individuals wrestling between independence and a permanent relationship. The family, and the workers and patrons at the bar including a secondary romance add zaniness to the enjoyable mix. Even with the frequently used pregnancy matchmaking theme (see Susan Mallory's A Little Bit Pregnant), readers will undeniably appreciate Shannon Stacey's sensational story.
A member of the Manhattan trading card women St. Marks Lunch Exchange, socialite and charity foundation CEO Rebecca Thorpe has tried three hunks but none give her the sizzle. She sees the card of retired NYPD detective Jake Donnelly, who was injured on the job, and likes what she sees and reads.
While she is Manhattan and he is Brooklyn, Rebecca and Jake have in common is neither is interested in a long term relationship; both want a one nighter or three. They have the best sex of their respective lives. Meanwhile Rebecca targets affluent William West for a large donation to her charity. Jake is stunned as even with major cosmetic surgery, West appears to be a high roller drug trafficker he busted years ago who vanished while on bail. Meanwhile he rationalizes why he must stay with this woman he is falling in love with. He needs to keep her safe from a nasty person pretending to be an honest businessman.
The second It's Trading Men! contemporary romance (see Choose Me) is an enjoyable New York City frolic. The lead couple seems to be total opposites except in bed as she is a 1% upper class Manhattanite and he is a 99% middle class Brooklynite. Their romance is wonderfully developed to slowly evolve from just lust with the impetus to keep them together long enough for the evolution to occur coming from West.
Only having returned home in Spruce Lake, Colorado a week ago, firefighter Adam O'Malley enters the burning apartment to rescue a an elderly woman and eighteen month old Charlie. The boy's three older siblings were taken outside by the babysitter. However, Adam learns that Molly remains inside. Though Molly is a dog, Adam goes back in and rescues the canine. The widow working mom Carly Spencer, a masseuse at the Spruce Lodge Spa, thanks the firefighter who just wants to catch his breath. His mom offers the apartment over the stables to Carly, her four kids and the dog to the shock of Adam; who happens to be living there.
Adam and Carly are attracted to one another. However, he has a secret that he concealed from everyone that keeps him distant from relationships while she has doubts about having another firefighter in her life and that of her kids as her late husband Michael was one in San Diego. When Carly is charged with arson, Adam intercedes.
The latest contemporary romance (see The Sheriff and the Baby and Colorado Christmas) is a warm second chance at love O'Malley drama. Neither of the lead couple wants to fall in love, but they cannot help themselves as they do. The two extended families add depth to their romance especially mom who brings humor (and aggravation if you ask Adam) to this wonderful tale.
Memories of You
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373062492 $7.99 Amazon Digital Services - ASIN: B004MPRZDY
Over a year ago, Seth Taggert vanished without a trace. His girlfriend, ironically a cold case police detective, Charlie Vargas wants closure though there time together was short she really liked him. A man with Seth's voce calls her and asks who she is. He explains he was in a car accident in Mexico, had facial reconstruction surgery and suffers from amnesia while currently residing in Houston. His only memory from before is her number. Others like his sister, her husband and his doctors insist he is Mason Aldridge but that feels wrong though he says they have no reason conspiratorially or individually to lie.
They agree to meet at the Tex-Mex where they first ate out together. When they see one another, neither recognize the other though his eyes look sort of similar and his mannerisms as she recalls seems the same. Additionally, the pair is attracted to one another. Once a cop always a cop, as Charlie realizes someone is following Seth-Mason. Charlie decides to make inquiries unaware that the Feds are interested and an unknown adversary wants both of them dead.
This is a gripping romantic suspense thriller that hooks the audience from that first phone call and never slows down until the final twisting denouement. Readers will root for the brave heroine, backed up nicely by her partner Julio Rodriguez (hopefully his story will follow), and want Mason to be Seth. With a nod to amnesia driven movies like Paycheck, Shattered and Spellbound, Bobbie Cole provides an exhilarating fast-paced mystery as rightfully so the intrigue supersedes the second chance at love if they live so long.
Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual
Ryder Wyndham, Chris Reiff (illustrator) and Chris Trevas (illustrator)
Lucasbooks / Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345533043 $20.00 www.amazon.com
The title is somewhat misleading as this owner's manual focuses on the Corellian Engineering Corporation's YT-1300 series with the legendary Millennium Falcon being the most famous (the Emperor says infamous) vessel having a major chapter. Besides the brief history of the corporation, the manual goes into depth with diagrams on the various YT-1300 models, a deep look at systems (piloting, propulsion, etc.), controls, weapons, crew facility and other floor plans, and other operations. There is also a section devoted to the modified Millennium Falcon operated by wanted preferably dead smugglers Han Solo a former Imperial pilot and Chewbacca the Wookie.
This is a great fun manual. Ryder Wyndham (see A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker) provides a well written text filled with fascinating details about the model while the photographs and art are incredible as the two Chris' show their talent and knowledge of Star Wars. Fans of the saga especially the original three New Hope movies will appreciate this entertaining entry as we will feel we are on board and even driving an YT-1300 vessel. Finally unlike politicians who insist ads by their attack Super PAC pals were not approved by them, this super packed manual is approved by Lucasbooks and a reader can see why.
Mass Effect: Conception
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345520739 $7.99 www.amazon.com
The Reapers starships have entered the galaxy where earthlings have joined other alien sentient races mostly in harmony (see Drew Karpyshyn entries - Retribution; Ascension; and Revelation). As they have done for every fifty millennia these bellicose outsiders have come with one purpose in mind; "harvesting" the organic.
Earthlings and their allies have tried several ploys with some success at the immense collateral cost to the innocent in order to prevent extinction. Former Navy admiral David Anderson and his partner ex Council Director Kahlee Sanders have proof the Reaper threat is genuine, but the Council members refuse to accept extinction is a viable event. While the leaders remain in denial, The Illusive Man, head of top secret military unit Cerberus, learns the pair knows too much about his operation. They must die. However, the beleaguered couple meets Gillian Grayson, who suffered hideous experiments that have left her with incredible power. When she learns the Illusive Man killed her father Paul, she obsesses with a bone marrow deep need to execute him.
As with Mr. Karpyshyn's entries, this exciting military-political science fiction tale, based on the Mass Effect game, contains strong timely moral questions. The action-packed storyline asks the audience to ponder when does personal need supersede the greater societal good and whether there are scenarios in which not executing a cold killer who deserves to die is needed to save trillions of lives. Filled with action, fans will relish William Dietz's first Mass Effect galaxy thriller.
Crucible of Gold
In 1809 British aviator William Laurence and Temeraire his dragon companion remain exiled in New South Wales for their treasonous act of saving French dragons from a plague. Their saving England from Napoleon kept them from state execution (see Tongues of Serpents).
Meanwhile plague brought by the Europeans devastates the Incan Empire at a time when Empress Anahuarque Inca considers allying with the Brits or the French. She leans towards a marital arrangement with Napoleon if he dumps Josephine while Iskierka the dragon pushes her captain Granby as a better alternative. Spain has fallen to the French and the powerful Tswana African tribe, with French support, raids Brazil tentatively to rescue black slaves but also to hold the royals captured in Rio. Tottering on the brink of defeat, the British government sends self-proclaimed ambassador plenipotentiary to China, Arthur Hammond, to return to the front Laurence and Temeraire.
Fast-paced and filled with action, the latest terrific timely Temeraire historical fantasy is a great thriller that grips readers throughout with a taste of life in many diverse spots while the world is at war. The abolitionist hero feels contempt towards his side's leadership; who demand patriotism from grunts risking their lives with little logistical support (can't raise a war fee tax) while the leaders direct the war from the comfort of their London suites. Fans will enjoy this excellent historical as the British leadership fumble the war while hiding behind the Decatur mantra of "Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!"; but forced to bring home Laurence whose mantra is the Shurtz corollary: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738824 $14.95 www.amazon.com
Wehrmacht Major Martin von Bora survived the cruel Russian front as a hero though to the SS he is an enemy for his inquiry in Poland five years ago (see Lumen). In September 1943, the Baron is assigned to Verona in German occupied northern Italy; where ironically a grenade launcher destroys one of his hands and left a leg filled with shrapnel. Though his doctor prescribes rest, Martin refuses.
His superior Colonel Habermehl sends Muti Battalion Centurion Gaetano de Rosa to direct Martin to investigate the death of a powerful Fascist, wheelchair bound Camerrata Vittorio Lisi in a car accident that is clearly a murder. Martin asks Police Inspector Sandro Guidi to help him. In turn, Guidi asks the German officer to assist his investigation into a serial killer who leaves a shoe behind. Bora, who misses his wife, knows the SS is watching him hoping to eliminate him at a time when the Holocaust trucks through Verona and partisans with help from the allies to the south will do anything to liberate the occupied north.
The two historical mysteries are cleverly designed to bring to life an occupied divided Italy in the Fall of 1943. Both cases are entertaining due to the lead sleuths working sort of together but not quite trusting one another as their agendas appear different. Bora is a hero who conceals his activities to prevent atrocities. Guidi has problems understanding the seemingly cold aloof German. Readers will relish Ben Pastor's strong WWII mysteries with its superb historical background.
The Heart's Frontier
Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736947527 $13.99 www.amazon.com
In 1881, Hancock hires Luke Carson as foreman of a cattle drive from El Paso to Kansas. Amish Emma Switzer and her maummi are moving from Apple Grove, Kansas to Troyer, Kansas to stay with the former's Aunt Gerda. Emma's widower father Jonah and her younger sister Rebecca accompany her on the journey.
Eight men rob them taking their coach with all the belongings. The Switzer family walks to nearby Gorham when Luke is tossed out of a saloon along with his intoxicated cowhand Jesse Montgomery. Jonah believes Luke was sent by the Lord while Emma thinks he is a bum. Luke gives them money to complete their journey while he and his drunken best friend rejoin the drive. When the cowhands find the wagon with the humongous hutch still in side, Luke goes back to escort the Switzer brood to their coach. He still denies the Lord sent him, but he thanks the Lord for sending him Emma.
This entertaining Amish western romance is a fun tale that fans of both sub-genres will enjoy. That is if the Amish romance crowd adapts to the changing relationship between the protagonists as it's worth the acceptance because Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith deftly makes their road bumpy but real. The Heart's Frontier is a wonderful Civil War era tale of love between seemingly incompatible cultures.
Thief's Covenant: A Widdershins Adventure
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616145477 $16.95 www.amazon.com
In Davillon, Adrienne Sati became an orphan while very young. Though all alone, she used her intelligence and streets smarts to live on the city's mean streets (and below) until taken into the home of Alexandre the aristocrat. However, her world crashes when she got tangled up with minor God Olgun, who is not even one of the acceptable worshiped Pact of 120 deities. Now with Olgun sharing her skull, Adrienne is back on and under the mean streets of Davillon, but as Widdershins and she cannot go home since being accused of mass murder of some of the city's elite.
Constable Henri Roubert catches Widdershins, but with no intention of bringing her in; instead he plans to shoot her claiming she tried to escape. The weapon fails and Robert's hand is severely damaged. Escaping, Widdershins and Olgun search for the real killer of the elite, why she is the last surviving worshipper of the god in her head, and who wants her dead and why.
Thief's Covenant is an exciting entertaining investigative fantasy starring a lead protagonist who, if not for the occasional magic, readers would assume is schizophrenic as she and her guest hold amusing satirical discussions. The storyline is not linear as the reader finds the hero at a pivotal plot point; but also going back in time to how the heroine got to her current dilemma and forward to how she tries to survive. With a strong city anchoring the otherworldly elements, high school age and older fans will enjoy touring the underbelly of Davillon with the twin guides as their squabbling jocular hosts.
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525952275 $27.95 www.amazon.com
Ray Levine was once a highly regarded photographer until the incident that shattered his life occurred almost two decades ago. Fortyish, he now is a despondent sham paparazzo posing as such for his celebrity craving clients.
Megan Pierce has come a long way from the incident that changed her seventeen years ago when she buried that wild life in a shallow ditch. Now she is a bored suburban soccer mom with a teenage daughter Kaylie and a younger son Jordon; her spouse is nice Dave whom has no idea who the woman he has slept with for the past sixteen years really is; including her real name Maygin.
Police Detective Jack Broome remains haunted by the cold case he failed to solve though he knows his torment comes from watching what has happened to the missing's person wife and children as their house is an untouched tomb. The spouse Sarah Green still leaves her husband Stewart's slippers out for him while their kids Susie has been arrested for DUI twice and Brandon was busted for possession. Jack investigates the disappearance of Carlton Flynn and has found other similar husbands-fathers vanishing without a trace. Three people tied together with what happened to Stewart seventeen years ago will learn whether the truth sets them free.
With Bolitar taking a well-deserved time-out, Harlan Coben provides a superb stand-alone thriller. The key is the ensemble cast connected by the incident in which none of them is able to move on passed what happened though they disguise their trauma with seemingly "normal" behavior. Action-packed hooking appreciative fans, this is a taut suspense as the past has returned to shake up the lives of three people going through the motions of living.
T. Jefferson Parker
Gulf Cartel leader Benjamin Armenta kidnaps songwriter Erin McKenna. He takes her to his dilapidated El Castillo where he orders her to compose a narcocoriddo folk song highlighting the legend of Benjamin Armenta as the greatest Mexican felon of all time. He also orders Erin's husband Los Angeles sheriff's department deputy Bradley Jones to give him a million dollars within 10 days as a fee for causing him problems; failure to meet his terms of apology means his pregnant spouse will be skinned alive and fed to Armenta's menagerie starting with the jaguar.
Frantic Jones, a transporter for a rival cartel since he was a teen, desperately turns to his adversarial rival at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office deputy Charlie Hood to help him rescue his wife as he has no way of paying the bounty. Charlie has a reputation well earned from his ATF loaner days (Iron River and The Border Lords) so is Hood's only hope when he goes on his quest to save his wife and their unborn.
The key to powerful rescue thriller is that the brutal Armenta is not just 200-proof evil, but comes across as a wicked human with different values. Hood is terrific as he knows the risks to save Erin, but does so anyway. Although Finnegan is an unnecessary attempt to lighten the dark tale with bathroom-capitalism, fans will appreciate the rescue attempt.
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10017-0010
9780316187428 $14.99 www.amazon.com
Clinical psychologist Dr. Joe O'Loughlin teaches part-time behavioral psychology at the University of Bath. He lives with his beloved family in Somerset. His wife of two decades Julianne is a successful executive while both adore their daughters, twelve years old Charlie and three years old Emma. The only bight to their idyllic life is Joe's deteriorating health due to Parkinson's disease diagnosed four years ago.
The cops come to the campus to get Dr. Bruno Kaufman to talk down a potential jumper on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Bruno sends his friend Joe to the scene. A middle aged naked female ignores everyone around her including Joe as she frantically talks on a mobile before leaping; her last worlds to Joe was he would not understand. Student Darcy Wheeler arrives at Joe's home insisting her mom Christine would never commit suicide. Joe begins to realize the psychological pattern of a leaper does not fit Christine. When a similar suicide occurs, police Detective Inspector Veronica Cray leads the investigation. Joe and his friend retired Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz join the inquiry.
Shatter is an exciting psychological thriller as a master of mind manipulation successfully breaks the will of single confident females. The latest O'Loughlin thriller (see Suspect and The Night Ferry) is fast-paced with a cat and mouse contest between the psychologist whose wife wants him off the dangerous case and the villain a virtuoso playing with emotions. As readers learn why, Michael Robotham keeps the suspense tropospheric in anticipation of a showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist.
Bleed for Me
Following the over thirty-five football game, the players stop at the only pub in the village of Wellow. Though the other fourteen players are divorced, psychologist Joe "Shrink" O'Loughlin, who has been slowed a bit by Parkinson's disease. His estranged spouse Julianne calls him because fourteen year old Sienna Hegarty, a classmate of their daughter Charlie, arrived at the back door in shock and dripping blood. The teenage did not stick around as she ran away.
The police go to Sienna's home near Bath that she shares with her dad, former cop Ray Hegarty. They find Ray dead with his throat sliced. The cops find Sienna and her blood is that of her father. She claims amnesia as she is charged with fratricide; the motive being her dad molested her. O'Loughlin offers to provide a psychological assessment of the troubled teen. He conceals his agenda is to help Sienna in hope that Charlie will once again adore him as she did before her parents' marriage began crumbling. The shrink also obtains a favor from his friend, retired police inspector Vincent Ruiz, to investigate discreetly the Hegarty case because something seems off kilter in this highly visible case.
The latest O'Loughlin thriller (see The Wreckage) is a great psychological investigative tale that grips the reader from the moment Julienne calls Joe and never slows until the final murder attempt. The storyline is fast-paced with a strong ensemble cast. However, it is the protagonist who makes the novel (and his series) excellent as a champion with Parkinson and more devastating personal family issues especially his obsessive need to regain his place on his daughter's pedestal that he recently lost.
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062065896 $24.99 www.amazon.com
Alex Garrett always dreamed of taking Manhattan by storm; not song as the latter is Sinatra's gig whiles hers is Wall St. having just graduated from the University of Virginia in the class of 2006. She feels great about landing a position on the "Street" and getting an apartment in the West Village. Besides no sleep due to the noise of the city that never sleeps, Alex is treated as a female tyro by her office. Instead of trading, she fixes her boss' spreadsheets, and takes food and drink orders from the males in the office. Although bored, she survives due to a wicked sense of humor. Ultimately Alex begrudgingly earns respect from her colleagues and begins to date a huggable even as the financial tsunami threatens to drown the Street.
This is a fascinating look at Wall St. just prior to and during the Great Recession crisis. The storyline starts breezy and satirical focusing on the pitfalls of a single female newcomer living in the Big Apple and working the Street. When Alex gets her break she spins into Putt's Law of Failure recommendation to fail big so you can keep your job by learning from your mistakes. However, though timely and entertaining, the trials and tribulations of the newcomer in Manhattan is a typical amusing chick lit with the tsuris level relatively low considering what is going on the Street.
American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
This fascinating autobiography provides an interesting look at a Navy Seal sniper mostly after 9/11 as Chris Kyle serves several deployments in the Middle East Theater. Adding to the insightful glimpse of the cost of his vocation is his wife Taya who brings a family member perspective to the memoir; as she explains the price they paid with him away for extended periods risking his life from enemy fire and having been shot twice. Her segments add depth as they imply that Mr. Kyle's significant other is the SEALs. Mr. Kyle admits he enjoyed his deadly work as he saw his mission was to save the lives of his brothers and sisters in arms; though two of his BFFs died. His attitude sounds appalling but realistic as someone who watches buddies killed and maimed is going to be emotionally involved and that is why truck drivers don't serve as prison guards. Although the memoir includes the non-combat life of the author like learning to shoot while hunting with his dad in Texas, it is the Mr. Kyle's military mission that hooks the audience though there is a lack of specificity and depth in the role of a sniper at war. Still this is an engaging glimpse at how a person feels being a legally authorized "trained killer".
The Face Thief
In New York, the Jane Doe falls down a flight of stairs. She suffers severe injuries as she slowly recovers in a hospital.
Before her precarious tumble, the unidentified female was twenty-something former reporter Margot Lassiter, a sly devious con artist who can get almost any male to give her what she covets. To enhance her charm, Margot hired married Lawrence Billings, body language guru to teach her to read the non-verbal cues. She successfully tested her new skill on her instructor. Soon after that Margot under a different name seduces married fortyish high school Vice Principal John Potash to invest his family fortune in a fraudulent financial scheme. Meanwhile, NYPD detective Dan France obsesses over the still hospitalized Margot.
This is a terrific tense psychological thriller starring a fascinating femme fatale (think of Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity) and the males craving her affection even when they know she is conning them. With a profound look at manipulating obsessiveness to control a relationship and a nod to Tom Jones' song "Delilah", fans will appreciate this dark character driven tale while wondering who "couldn't take anymore"?
P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250000248 $12.99 www.amazon.com
Today Lenobia is the horse mistress of the House of Night in St. Louis and Zoey Redbird's favorite teacher. She and her mother were servants in 1788 at the Chateau de Naverre in Evreux, France. Her father the baron seduced her mother, impregnated her and cast her and their offspring aside. That child Lenobia looks identical to her spoiled half-sister Cecile.
When Lenobia is sixteen years old, the legitimate daughter dies from ague. Leonia's mother arranges for her daughter to masquerade as Cecile in order for her to marry an affluent aristocrat. The plot works perfectly as Lenobia and other unmarried young ladies travel by ship to New Orleans to marry rich French aristocrats. While traversing the Atlantic, evil sorcerer Bishop Charles recognizes and announces the fraud as he coveted her back in France and plans to make her his mistress. A nun protects her and she decides to go to the cargo hold on the last level of the ship where she meets Quadroon Martin in the stables. She falls in love with him and the Percheron horse that his employer bought. He sent Martin to go to France so that he could take care of them over the long sea voyage. n The Bishop soon makes his move to rape Lenobia using all means available to him while Martin vows to keep his beloved safe.
The latest House of Night Novella (see Dragon's Oath) focuses on the teen years of a secondary but popular character. Readers learn what shaped Lenobia's present mysterious life as the child is the adult even if two centuries have passed. At sixteen, Lenobia displays the same traits she shows as a teacher: courage, honesty and inner strength. She wanted to be happy, but her choices were limited to be or not to be until a third option was offered. This is an engaging biographical fiction as the Cast crew entertains their fans.
Famous author Celia Bayley received critical and fan accolades for her poignant passionate look into human relationships. She came from an upper middle class background, married World War II hero Frederick as a teen back sixty-five years ago in 1944 and raised three successful children with a happy home. Now the extended family gathers for her funeral.
Newspaper profile author Jenny Granger asks Celia's children if she can write the family sanctioned biography of the great late writer. They allow her access to Celia's diaries, notebooks and letters. They shock the reporter and the deceased's loved ones as they paint a different picture of her. Naive Cecila's love match with over a decade older Frederick was a sham as he broke her heart early on, but for the sake of her children and 1950s culture created the facade of a happy home. Even more stunning is years later the sophisticated Celia met the grand passion of her life who was not Frederick.
The Affair is a stunning character study as Celia made a sacrificing choice for the sake of her children. Incredibly profound, fans will ponder whether destroying a legend with the truth will set everyone free when already knowing the truth sets everyone somewhat free. As each of her loved ones (and the author) looks inside their hearts and souls, they wonder what happiness means to them and whether they have what they desire in their respective relationships. The Affair is a thought provoking winner that will have reader doing the same inner SWOT analysis of what we want in our lives.
The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving
The family matriarch JoAnn is a Texas Steel Magnolia, which means a tougher brand of metal than the other southern states. Noted for her sandpaper tongue that rips the hide off the toughest cowboy, JoAnn is ironically a glamorous southern belle. However, for decades she and her daughter Jessica, a chip off the obstinacy block, remain estranged as the younger woman believed her mother seemed not to care when she or her grandchild needed her. Ironically, just when Jessica gave up on her, she would do something incredible like sending Robert a ton of books. When JoAnn's memory began to fade due to Alzheimer's, her family found it as a miracle that brought her back into their lives. Much of the two generations' anger vanished as Jessica reconciled with her mom and Robert spent quality time with a grandma who never condemned his choices.
This wonderful upbeat memoir looks at Alzheimer's as a reconciliatory bringing together of an estranged family as by forgetting, JoAnn and her family are forgiving. This positive assertion does not hide from the caretaking problems caused by dementia, but prefers to look at the positive that came out of the disease. Mr. Leleux reminds me of my husband's fondest memory of his beloved mom during her "Living End" Alzheimer's in which she did not know who her kids were but euphorically sucked the last neutrino of a chocolate shake. Much of this biography focuses on the generational war and peace as Mr. Leleux latest memoir (see The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy) affectionately yet realistically portrays his flawed larger than Texas grandma on her final Cotton Bowl gala.
St. Martin's Griffin
When they roomed in Birmingham while attending the university Luke, Phil, Dom and Hutch were the four musketeers as best buddies. After graduating they went their separate ways with three of the BFFs married as Luke is only one of them still single. The four agree to unite on a camping trip north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden to get away from their respective personal lives.
However, it didn't take long to realize how out of shape Phil and Dom have become as the foursome trek on their three day hike though Luke and Hutch still smoke. The weather is cold and wet making the walk through the wilderness that much more difficult especially when they take a shortcut that fails to find the river, but instead the dead eerily hanging from a tree. The bickering and resentment become palatable as anger at each other and their miserable situation overtly explodes. They find shelter of sorts from the harsh environment in a cottage containing bizarre, frightening ancient-looking items. None of them yet comprehend the predator that stalks them may be just coming home.
Think of Deliverance and an adult coming of age Lord of the Flies in a stark setting to comprehend this exhilarating thriller. The storyline told by Luke captures the reader from opening line as Adam Nevill paints a harsh environment that sets the tone for what follows. The protagonists possess diverse personalities and different tsuris, but it is their reactions to the evil that hunts them which makes for a tense horror tale.
Destiny and Deception
St. Martin's Griffin
In Junction, the Rusakova family euphorically takes the lycanthropic cure as the assumption is that "normal" will keep them safe from the mob and the company whose headquarters in town was destroyed. Jessie Gilmansen, whose blood was a key element in the elixir, and her boyfriend Pietr Rusakova look forward to a simpler relationship without a clock. However, Pietr is not the same person as he was when he had a dual personality; instead of Jesse, his passion is studying.
A new werewolf pack of twelve led by Marlaena arrives from Chicago seeking sanctuary from hunters stalking them. As Jesse finds her relationship with Pietr strained, she also has a new rival who plans to make the former werewolf hers. Her friend Alexi empathizes with Jess's plight and wishes he could make it go away while he also worries about his other "mates" in their "family".
The latest 13 to Life young adult urban fantasy takes an intriguing spin as the bond between the lead couple that was the foundation of the previous trio (see 13 To Life, Secrets And Shadows, and Bargains And Betrayal) appears broken. The storyline is fast-paced, filled with angst and twists and a fabulous ending that will leave readers in knots waiting for the next entry. Shannon Delaney takes a risk with the bond seemingly shattered, but young adult fans will relish the change in this super thriller.
Sadie Walker Is Stranded
St. Martin's Griffin
The Outbreak Patient Zero was on The Golden Princess that brought the virus to Seattle and from there across North America and the world. Millions died from this plague. As the survivors struggled with so much death and related diseases, the real pandemic begins when the dead rise with a craving for live flesh and many of the living become predators.
Wannabe illustrator Sadie Walker, mother to her eight-year-old nephew Shane, resides as normal as they can inside the Citadel a living encampment in Seattle. Her boyfriend Carl arranges for black marketers to abduct Shane as a commodity for sale. She manages to push Carl down the stairs killing him, but leaving her unconscious. The thieves leave with Shane while her friend from before the Outbreak Andrea tells her they must leave as Carl's buddies tore down a barrier that kept the walking dead outside their stronghold. The two females rescue Shane but remain in peril as Seattle has become a buffet for the undead with the only way off is at sea but most people including Sadie fear water as an un-deadly trap.
Sadie Walker Is Stranded is an exciting urban fantasy in which people adjust to the new meaning of survival of the fittest or become fodder for the undead. The title character is super as she struggles with adaptation while her BFF is kick butt and Shane's childhood innocence is gone. Although unlikely events (even for an undead tale) detract from an otherwise great thriller, readers will enjoy the zombie storm that leaves Sadie, Andrea and Shane stranded with no place to go although two men join their quest for a haven.
Sunrise With A Notorious Lord
Miss Isabel Thorne prevents a pickpocket from stealing the snuffbox of an Earl. Nox club owner and card carrying Lord of Vice member Christopher Courtland appreciates the lady's intervention, but he enjoys her barbs even more as he wants her sharp tongue exploring his body. When she rejects his advances, his interest rises; as she becomes a challenge that will rid him of his ennui. For her part, Isabel has enough problems caring for her aristocratic widowed mother and her younger sister Delia on impoverished finances without a persistent vain rake bothering her.
The earl's matchmaking mother believes kick-butt Isabel's younger flirtatious Delia would make a nice match for her son. However, Christopher has no interest in the younger Thorne as he enjoys the gender war with the older sibling.
The latest Lord of Vice Regency romance is delightful gender war with a third party (his mom) strategically outflanking the combatants. The storyline starts somewhat slow as readers learn what has happened to previous Lord of Vice fan favorites (see After Dark with a Scoundrel, Till Dawn With the Devil and All Night With A Rogue). Once that is done the games of misconceptions begin in what series fans will agree is a wonderful historical entry.
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451621778 $15.00 www.amazon.com
In Fjallbacka, Sweden, police detective Patrik Hedstrom is on vacation spending time with his eight months pregnant mate Erica when the call comes from Superintendent Mellberg. A six-years old boy exploring the mouth of the King's Cleft discovered the corpse of a naked lady. Patrik arrives in time to get his boss away from contaminating the crime scene. When Forensics lifts the body, they find the skeletal remains of two more victims. Mellberg asks Patrik to lead the investigation as his other detectives, Martin lacks experience and Ernst lacks imagination; Martin resents not getting a chance to lead and Ernst rages over the Kid getting another case.
Patrik believes the older skeletons are female teens, Siv Lantin and Mona Thernblad, who vanished in 1979. The autopsies affirm that each victim was tortured in a deliberate simmering manner until death provided relief. The latest deceased is identified as German Tanja Schmidt. Time becomes precious when a young girl vanishes without a trace while evidence points to the Hult family.
The keys to this strong Swedish police procedural (see The Ice Princess) are the profound look inside the souls of the key players to learn what motivates each them; including negative incentives and the discerning glimpse into group dynamics when time is running out. Using flashbacks to 1979 to tell the tale of the Hult evangelical healers who are involved in the present day investigation enhances the overall tension. Although Erica's sister Anna's domestic problems with her ex add to the look at what moves people, this subplot takes away from an otherwise taut Swedish whodunit.
Sail of Stone
Ake Edwardson, author
Rachel Willson-Broyles, translator
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451608502 $15.00 www.amazon.com
While investigating the reported drowning of his father John Osvald during WWII in Scotland, Axel Osvald vanishes. In Gothenburg, Axel's two offspring (Erik and Johanna) report to the police their father disappeared in they believe Scotland. Police Chief Inspector Erik Winter, who dated Johanna at one time, contacts Steve MacDonald, a friend at Scotland Yard, to help him with his inquiry when he comes to Scotland.
In Gothenburg, African-Swede police officer Aneta Djanali believes Anette Lindsten is a domestic violence victim who is too afraid to tell the authorities. When Anette vanishes, Djanali and her partner Fredrik Halders search for her with her family refusing to cooperate. At the same an unknown adversary sends threatening messages to Aneta warning her to back off or else while the cop also receives cryptic notes from the missing spouse.
The latest Erik Winter Gothenburg police procedural (see Frozen Tracks, Death Angels and The Shadow Women) is a terrific psychological thriller that looks deeply into the minds of the two lead cops as Ake Edwardson rotates perspective between them. The profound study of the psyches of Winters and Lindsten supersede the two cases they work on separately. Although first names can be a bit confusing, fans who appreciate an insightful character study that scrutinizes the motives of the cast, especially the lead cops, will want to read the entertaining meandering Sail of Stone.
Oath Of Office
Almost a decade ago Dr. Lou Welcome lost his license to practice medicine when he prescribed amphetamines for himself. Soon after his disgrace, the Physician Wellness Office in Kings Ridge, Virginia helps Lou kick his habit. Grateful, he joins the PWO team counseling physicians with addiction issues.
Lou believes his client John Meacham had fully recovered and recommend his license restored. However, soon afterward John commits mass murder at his office when he kills his partner, several patients and staff before committing suicide. The PWO suspends Lou who notices other strange happenings and tragedies at Kings Ridge as the focus. As Lou follows clues that lead to the First Lady; he struggles with what to do after receiving a warning from a Double M.
Out of Office is an exciting medical thriller in which Michael Palmer does what he does best: combine easy to understand but not dumbed down science with avaricious political and economic interest (see A Heartbeat Away and The Last Surgeon). Readers will root for Lou to succeed on his quest though his reaching the White House and beyond is over the top of the Washington Monument. Still fans will enjoy the conspiratorial convergence of money, power and medicine.
Locked and Loaded
Although her brain reminds her of a conflict of interest, her heart insists DEA agent Sage Wagner destroys Miami drug lord Roberto Salazar for the murders of her family. Thus his deal with Anwar Assad of Afghanistan and al Qaeda connections enables Sage to persuade her superior to go undercover. Her plan is to become Alazar's mistress in order to rip off his male anatomy.
Delta Force Captain Anthony Davis' mission to prevent an arms deal with terrorists crashes with Sage's quest. Neither is happy over their encounter as he assumes she is throwaway candy until she uses martial art ninja fighting moves to show she has no time for an outside intrusion. However, once they compare notes, they team up as Davis acknowledges her inside game while Wagner acknowledges the need to keep civilians safe; both acknowledge their attraction must remain on the back burner until they complete their mutually inclusive missions.
The latest Men of Delta Force (see Sizzle and Burn) high octane romantic thriller is an action-packed tale from the moment the protagonists collide and never slows down as the pair tries to take down an odious Miami mobster running the drug trafficking and abetting terrorists. Filled with twists, fans will relish Locked and Loaded as the romance simmers while destroying the mutual target remains the focus of the lead pair and the audience.
Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray and Red Garnier
"Sheila's Passion" by Lora Leigh. Nick Casey saw a lot of bad crap while in combat as a marine. Out of the service, Nick loves Sheila Monterey, but believes she sees him as a friend only especially after her being hurt recently by a former boyfriend. Sheila wants Nick to admit he passionately loves her, but that may not be enough for her. The dynamics change when an adversary threatens to harm Sheila.
"Deadly Dance" by Cheyenne McCray. Seven years ago Edward Carter brutally assaulted ballerina Keri "Angel of New York" Holliday ending her stage dance career. Carter killed an NTPD cop. Now due to a technicality, that dead cop's partner Detective Adam Boyd goes to Brooklyn Heights to inform Keri that Carter is free and is likely go after the woman whose testimony put him in prison. Boyd vows to keep the woman he loves safe from a vicious predator.
"Caught" by Red Garnier. Ivan Nordstron killed his parents and bragged about it to his twin Cody. Stunned and feeling culpable for not interceding when he knew his brother was an insane bad seed and feeling he shares the same DNA, Cody ends his relationship with Megan Banks. Six years later Megan decides to confront her man and make Cody admit he loves her back. However, as Cody the homicide detective struggles with his feelings for her vs. his belief he is unworthy of Megan, Ivan escapes from prison with one mission in mind: destroy his sibling starting with Megan.
These three heated romantic suspense thrillers are entertaining reads as heroes risk their lives to keep their courageous women safe from over the top deranged villains.
Mad About the Earl
Perhaps the most powerful agency, The Ministry of Marriage arranges marriages based on three criteria: power, wealth and prestige. No one appeals their decisions not even those in love as the cost is unbearable to most of the Ton.
Lady Rosamund Westruther saw and fell in love with the miniature of her Ministry of Marriage match chosen one. Although they have not met in person, she believes she hopes her earl returns her already deep feelings. When Rosamund and Griffin meet, both are taken aback. She cannot believe this uncouth gorilla is her intended and he agrees with her assessment that beauty deserves better than the beast. Three years he delays the nuptials until the Ministry force his hand by threatening his sister. However, Rosamund wants her beloved to prove he loves her as she refuses to settle for less.
The latest Ministry of Marriage alternate historical romance (see Heiress In Love) is an engaging twisting tale of love. The MM concept once again is deftly deployed so that fans will accept the matchmaking agency as real. Ergo fans will enjoy waltzing to Christina Brooke's delightful music as the beast more suited to dance in a stable takes the floor with the beauty in her element.
Born of Ashes
The death vampires drained the blood of human slave Fiona for years. Tortured though she finally physically escaped from her tormenters, mentally she suffers from PTSD as her mind envisions images of the power hungry predators constantly taking her to the brink of death. One of the seven captive donors, Fiona cannot move on as vengeance is all she craves especially against amoral psychopath Rith who runs the blood factories.
Fiona displays unique powers that have Endelle believing the former blood slave is a member of the triad Obsidian Flame trio. Warrior Jean-Pierre is her Guardian Ascension, but he covets more from the mortal he knows is his destined mate. The ex-prisoner wants Jean-Pierre, but she struggles with losing any iota of her hard earned freedom and besides she obsesses with a bone marrow need to drain the fluids from Rith. Meanwhile death vampire Commander Greaves deploys his war plan.
The latest Guardians of Ascension romantic urban fantasy (see Wings of Fire, The Burning Skies and Ascension) is a great thriller as the Roane mythos turns even more complex as readers see deeper into schism between the vampire groups. The cast is sold though the storyline belongs to the avenging heroine who risks death to kill the bloodsucker still tormenting her thoughts. This is another fantastic entry in one of the strongest sagas on the market today.
Simon and Schuster
Exiled from Paris Island due to the French placing a bounty on his head, Marine Captain Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield, accompanied by six-foot plus bald Gunnery Sergeant Gena "Mother" Newman and two other young marines, leads a test team of four civilians into the Arctic. The assignment is fielding of advanced weaponry.
Seven weeks later, the White House learns that about a hundred miles away from the ice where the Americans set up camp, Lord of Anarchy and his Army of Thieves have taken over an abandoned Soviet secret weapons testing site on The Island Of The Dragon. These terrorists plan to activate the Tesla Device that if deployed will destroy the atmosphere and just about make humanity extinct. As time is running out on the world, the White House Situation Room assigns Scarecrow to back up a SEAL team to end the threat. When the SEALs fail, Scarecrow, his squad and his Baltimore secret weapon unflappable Dr. Ulacco stand in the way of Anarchy bringing death and destruction to earth.
The latest Scarecrow thriller (see Ice Station, Scarecrow and Hell Island) is a fast-paced tale that starts faster than the speed of light and never decelerates as Matthew Reilly provides a fabulous action-packed save the world (at least the Northern Hemisphere) tale. Scarecrow being Scarecrow makes for a fun story as he lands in one mess after another but like any marine tries to complete the mission against impossible odds while insuring none of his team is left behind though a nuke to end the doomsday scenario may make the latter a bit difficult.
So Damn Lucky
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765364579 $24.99 www.amazon.com
At Las Vegas's Babylon Hotel, magician Dimitri Fortunoff dies in front of an audience while performing Houdini's Chinese Water Torture Cell. To control adverse damage, the hotel's customer relations chief fixer Lucky O'Toole tries to spin the tragedy.
Lucky believes Dimitri was the infamous "Masked Houdini" who had vowed to reveal all of the great magician's secrets. She wonders if one of his angry peers killed him. Feeling unlucky, she investigates the case as a homicide not an accident after the victim's body never made it to UMC as expected; his vanishing in thin air seems like a cheap PR stunt as if he was still performing, but from the beyond. That is followed up by a stuffed rabbit providing her with a death threat; which seems milder than what is happening with the men in her personal life from her supervisor Albert "The Big Boss" Rothstein, her live-in lover Teddie, former co-worker Paxton Dane and the French chef.
The latest Lucky O'Toole amateur sleuth misadventures (see Lucky In Love and Lucky Stiff) are an amusing lighthearted romp. Much of the fun comes from Lucky's on the job interaction with patrons as she tries to talk them out of foolishness. The whodunit is clever while the life (and one death) in the men turns the protagonists life upside down as Lucky feels she crapped out.
Bridge of Dreams
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463814 $26.95 www.amazon.com
Siblings Lee and Glorianna Belladonna along with Michael the Musician and others removed the darkness of The Eater of the World from Ephemera (see Belladonna). However, though Ephemera is balanced now, the world remains a perilous place as affirmed when bellicose wizards arrive. Lee stops their threat to disrupt the balance, but ends up in an asylum in Vision, a city also facing dark peril.
The Vision Shamans fail to prevent the dark plague from spreading. Lee understands what they face and offers his assistance and those of his family in Ephemera, Glorianna and their cousin Sebastian. However, the proud protectors of Vision eventually may acquiesce to his offer, but time is running out.
The third Ephemera fantasy is an entertaining tale with an incredible vivid description of the Bishop mythos and a wonderful self-sacrificing hero who risks his life again to save a city of strangers. The storyline starts slow with an inordinate amount of time on what happened in the previous entries (see Sebastian). However, once the protagonist jumps into the frying pan to save Ephemera and then into the fire to save Vision, Bridge of Dreams accelerates into a super-fast-paced exciting thriller.
The Drowning Girl
Caitlin R. Kiernan
India "Imp" Morgan Phelps would have been shocked if the shrink diagnosed her as an NT; instead labeling her as a schizophrenic which makes sense to her. Imp knows lunacy is like apple pie to her family as far back as she knows. Still meds and the shrink help her pretend she lives a normal life.
Imp is shocked when she sees the model in the 1898 The Drowning Girl painting. Meeting Eva Canning also brings about dreams and memories that cannot be true, but Imp wonders about their source as she fears her mental illness has worsened since meeting Eva. Deciding to learn who Eva is, Imp is further stunned when the woman vanishes. As reality becomes increasingly unstable, the voice amidst the chaos of her brain triggers an obsessive compulsive need to know what truly happened; ergo Imp ponders whether Eva is a ghost warning her but of what or a priestess whose flock died in 1991 in a mass drowning.
This excellent thriller grips the audience with a need to know whether the protagonist is mentally insane or dealing with regressed memories including perhaps generational. Impossible to put aside, The Drowning Girl is a fabulous psychological suspense or fantasy; Caitlin R. Kiernan keeps us guessing until the end.
After killing the monstrous Auphe race (see Blackout) who believed they belonged at the top of the food chain, half human/half Auphe Cal Leandros assumes his monstrous problems are gone. He is unaware that another hybrid beast lives and comes to him with a special purpose in mind. His brother Niko has family issues when his biological father, whom he never saw before, arrives in town to get help locating and disabling the "burden" in order for the siblings to return it to the Voyash Clan. The brother have no time for him as thy host a party for the Puck race (to include pal Goodfellow) who as Cupid look a-likes have lived for hundreds of thousands of years.They need a census to determine how man Pucks need to procreate.
Cal gates Niko's father to Central Park and after the gala, the burden JLanus the mechanical sentience being crosses through a gate and tries to kill anyone with Voyash blood. Another gate opens enabling Grimm to cross over to tell Cal he wants to join forces with him to get rid of the human race; he wants Cal to mate with a succabae so the progeny will one day take over the human world. To defeat his insane peer, Cal fights a mad god, several Cyclops and other creatures in an attempt to neutralize the Grimm.
The latest Cal and Niko dark urban fantasy (see Roadkill) is a fascinating entry that focuses on Cal who once again proves he is more human than Auphe as the heart of the series and this tale remains the powerful sibling relationship. Adding to the fun of Doubletake is meeting Niko's scandalous biological father who is an absentee dad until he needs his son's brother. The aurhor. Rob Thurmond provides another strong tale in a great saga.
Cassiel the formerly powerful Djinn once thought the worst that could happen to her kind was being banished to reside amongst the despicable mortals, but since this happened to her she has come a long way to her astonishment liking these rug rats. With apocalypse pending for mankind, Cassiel ironically finds she obsesses with saving humanity from extinction especially Weather Warden Luis Rocha and his young niece Isabel.
Cassiel and Luis head to Seattle to confront Pearl the Djinn and her abducted kiddie children corps of Warden offspring. She knows the chances of her surviving the combat is nil, but the price of her life is worth the possibility of saving Luis, Ibby and mankind from Pearl's species cleansing.
The final Outcast Season urban fantasy (see Unseen, Unknown and Undone) is a great thriller as the heroine recognizes how far she has come from despising to loving humanity. Courageous Cassiel accepts death is her expected outcome when she goes against an individual who possesses the power she once had. Although the trek to Seattle is exciting and loaded with action, the journey seems surrealistic over the top of the Mount Tamaulipas. Still Rachel Caine provides an entertaining finish to the Cassiel saga.
Death On Heels
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451236135 $7.99 www.amazon.com
Lacey Smithsonian writes her column Crimes and Fashion for the Washington DC based Eye Street Observer. She left her hometown of Sagebrush after her boyfriend proposes; the temperature is way below freezing and her boss on the hometown newspaper gets on her last nerve.
Lacey learns that cattle rancher Cole Tucker, who once proposed to her, has been arrested for killing women over a two year period. She flies back to Sagebrush to learn whether the man she once loved is a serial killer. During a ten minute meeting at the courthouse, Cole takes Lacey hostage and escapes with her to a deserted cabin. He insists he has been framed by a sly adversary who wants his ranch for the water, mineral and oil rights. The rancher provides his former girlfriend a list of who he considers coveting his land and capable of such a diabolical ploy before freeing her. Believing Cole is innocent, Lacey vows to find the evidence that exonerates him. Whereas no female was murdered while Cole was in custody, another woman is abducted. However, this time Cole has an alibi in an ex-girlfriend reporter who also has solved homicide cases before (see Shot Through Velvet, Grave Apparel, and Armed and Glamorous).
The latest Smithsonian inquiry is a terrific entry as the heroine proves you can go home if you still have your cowboy attire especially the boots in this regional whodunit. The locals are quirky adding a Rocky Mountain high to the journalist's investigation. Lacey and her current boyfriend, former Sagebrush Police Chief Vic Donovan the security expert care for one another deeply while having each other's back as he helps her try to find the killer (which in the reporter's case is an occupational hazard). Death On Heels is a fabulous Crime of Fashion Mystery.
One Book In The Grave
San Francisco resident bookbinder and restorer Brooklyn Wainwright gave to Max Adams and his fiancee Emily a rare first edition of Beauty and the Beast; one month later Max died in a car accident and the book was stolen from Emily's home. Three years later Covington Library head curator Ian McCullough asks Brooklyn to repair a rare first edition of Beauty and the Beast; she declines as she knows the book is the one she gave to Max.
Brooklyn visits the bookseller who Ian bought the classic from. She enters the bookstore only to find the proprietor Joe a murder victim. Tired of tripping over corpses, Brooklyn confesses her feelings to her friend Guru Bob, who confides in the bibliophile that Max faked his death to prevent an unknown assassin from killing him and Emily. He believes the killer is either Max's former boss Solomon or his possessive ex-girlfriend. Brooklyn investigates with her boyfriend Derek Stone trying to protect her; only she is shot at, has the body of one of her suspects delivered to her house by courier and her friends kidnapped.
The latest Bibliophile mystery (see The Lies That Bind and Murder under Cover) is an engaging twisting roller coaster ride as Brooklyn's detecting is fueled by her tweener crush on Max and her love of rare books. Part of the excitement is Brooklyn's reactions to the abductions of people connected to her for apparently no logical reason except somehow a cause and effect of her investigation. Fans will enjoy this amateur sleuth as an anonymous assassin plays hardball Sal "The Barber" Maglie's pitching style, which shaves the batter even more than Chris Matthews does.
A Fitting End
In Bliss, Texas, former New York designer, dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy finds life ironic that she as a have-not is making the customized dresses for the "Margaret" haves. Her Buttons and Bows Boutique is booming with the Margaret crowd getting ready for the Margaret Moffette Lea Pageant and Ball. Harlow Jane's confidence in her skills has recently soared stratospheric as she realizes she has the family magical touch bestowed on the descendants of that infamous nineteenth century Butch making a wish at an Argentinean fountain.
Sheriff Hoss McClaine and TV reporter Rebecca Quinones on the air question Harlow Jane over her relationship with the local golf pro Macon Vance; whom she denies knowing. Someone stabbed Vance with a dressmaking shears and hers has blood on it as she forgot to take her bag with her following a meeting with the wife of Senator James at the club. Deputy Sheriff Gavin McClaine, a chip off the old sheriff's block, acts like she guilty; which deploys the other thing Butch Cassidy bestowed on his future generations; paranoia of law enforcement officials even with Hoss being Harlow Jane's not so secret boyfriend. Ergo, Harlow Jane investigates as prison garb does not suit her.
The second Dressmaker's paranormal Mystery (see Pleating For Mercy) is a fun family affair as generations of Butch Cassidy living and dead descendants from his Harlow and Place trees get involved in A Fitting End to the golf pro. Fans will enjoy Harlow Jane's amateur sleuthing with advice from her late great-grandma and the Texas posse while also seeking two degrees of Robert Redford.
Fashion Faux Paw
It's Fashion Week in New York City and professional dog walker Ellie Engleman has been hired to take care of the canines. Each dog will wear identically matching clothing that matches her human model; they will walk together on the runway.
One designer Lilah Perry insults Ellie so quickly after their introductions, she belongs in the Guinness Book of Records for speediest derision. However, Ellie realizes that offensive Lilah lashes out at everyone. Lilah and Ellie receive gift baskets that include perfume strips. The mean spirited designer goes to talk to the "important" people, but begins to choke. Someone recognizes the symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock and asks if anyone has an Epipen. Ellie retrieves an Epipen from Lilah's bag, but the gizmo is empty. The police discover peanut oil was an ingredient of the perfume strip that Lilah wore and declare the death a homicide. They soon arrest Jeffrey King, brother of designer Kitty King. Elle is fond of the young woman so when Kitty and others plead with her to investigate she does. Finding someone who did not loathe the victim is like finding a needle in a haystack so Ellie seeks whose motive could lead to murder.
The heroine and her Yorkie Rudy are adorable especially when they communicate as their humorous discussions reduce the tension when Ellie and her canine companion posse begin sleuthing. Also adding an element of humanizing Ellie is her strong romance with Sam the homicide detective as they have a lot in common. Although the reason Ellie investigates is a paradoxical sub-genre default, fans will enjoy the latest Dog Walker amateur sleuth (see Till Death Do Us Bark, Begging for Trouble and Death In Show) as this is an entertaining canine cozy.
Little Shop Of Homicide
Devereaux Sinclair moved back to her small Missouri hometown because her grandmother has shown signs of senility and needs someone to take care of her; but Dev knows her beloved relative's pride will limit her granddaughter's role to watch her. In town Dev opens up a throwback five and dime store.
Dev had no idea that Stramp Investment where she quit over seven months ago ran a Ponzi scheme until the FBI interrogated her. Only recently has she begun to relax. Her respite ends when Detective Woods barges into her shop asking her if she sold a gift basket to Joelle Ayers; Dev says yes. Woods accuses Dev of murdering Joelle as the victim's fiance Dr. Noah Armstrong was Dev's former boyfriend; who dumped her when her father was convicted of manslaughter. Abusing his authority, Woods wants Dev guilty because he lost his money in the Stramp Investment fiasco. At the same time recuperating at his uncle's ranch from an on the job injury, deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Del Vecchio has doubts about his judgment of women, still he hunts for the real culprit as do Dev and her two BFFs (Poppy and Boone).
While Scumble River school psychologist and police consultant Skye Denison (see Murder of a Creped Suzette) takes a deserved breather, Denise Swanson begins a new entertaining mystery series that her fans will appreciate. The amateur sleuth investigation is fun to follow as the heroine believes that for her to avoid life in prison she needs to prove she is a native daughter of the Show Me State as the lead detective and his superior are uninterested in the facts. With a touch of romance in the air, readers will enjoy this delightful cozy.
The Principal's Office
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425247167 $15.00 www.amazon.com
Single mother of two teenage boys, Rachel Delaney feels her life is good though the divorcee could use an occasional hunk. Her ideal male will satiate her needs while accepting her mantra of no relational strings as the only males in her life are her sons.
Rachel and Rand meet and begin a tryst constructed around the alternate weeks when her ex-husband has custody of their teens. The principal asks Rachel to come to the school for a parent meeting when her oldest offspring gets into trouble. Rachel is shocked and dismayed that the new principal is Rand. She ends their sexual encounters until he persuades her it is okay for them to have fun. Hell breaks loose when her former spouse obtains a video starring his ex and his kids' principal.
The third DeKnight erotic contemporary (see Past Midnight and What Happens After Dark) is a heated affair but also looks deeply at joint custody and what is acceptable behavior by a principal in the privacy of his boudoir. Putting aside the risky behavior of the intelligent lead pair making a video even for though targeting for their private use only, fans will enjoy a visit to The Principal's Office.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451235725 $9.99 www.amazon.com
Off the Scottish coast lies the Isle of Night populated by vampires, tracers, watchers, acari and humans. Ronan the vampire tracer recruited from the University of Florida Annelise Drew (see Isle of Night). She is a second year acari student who understands that only the strong survive so she diligently works hard with one goal to get off the island; which means becoming a Watcher even though escape is doubtful.
Alcantara the vampire acts likes Drew enchants him when he accelerates her training so she can be placed on a mission with him. She is to act the part of a serving girl to seven vampires of whom her mentor states are evil. They seek Carden McCloud captured and most likely tortured by these malevolent bloodsuckers. Drew finds the rescue target and gives him her blood. When Alcantara and McCloud meet, Drew realizes they are enemies, which has her wondering why her mentor lied and who the wicked vampire is.
The latest Watchers urban fantasy is an enthralling, twisting thriller in which readers will appreciate the spellbinding in depth look at a vampire island community inside the wonderful world of the Wolff. Since escaping the Isle of Night is more difficult than getting off Alcatraz, Acari accept their role as gladiator students. Sanctioned fights between each other leave some dead; only the best live through the grueling ordeal their instructors call training. Drew is terrific as she completes the mission but learns a lesson to not trust anyone especially vampires as delineating the good, the bad and the ugly is impossible until it is too late.
Diary of a Mad Fat Girl
In Bugtussle, Mississippi, schoolteacher Graciela (Ace) Jones looks forward to the annual Spring break trip to Panama City with her BFF teacher Lilly Lane. However, nine hours before the drive begins, Lilly cancels. Angry Ace knows it is because of the mysterious Gentleman her friend is seeing. Ace is further mad at Mason McKenzie who is the love of her life though their relationship died three years ago. Thank goodness the size-sixteen teacher has the love of her loyal companion Buster Loo the canine.
While Ace rages, Lilly is accused of having an affair with a student. Their other buddy Chloe Barksdale (Ace hates her friend's married name) is married to womanizing, abusive Richard Stacks IV, who is a paragon of the community. Ace and Lilly stalk nasty Richard to prove the rat cheats on pathetic Chloe; while Mason is back in town wanting a second chance with the love of his life.
This entertaining small-town Southern sisterhood tale is a fun frolic over the top of Woodall Mountain as readers will wonder how the teachers, who enter boob bars, point guns at male anatomy, try to take down their boss Catherine "bitchy Hilliard, and get arrested, keep their jobs as role models. The title character tells the tale of the tape as she and her comrades take down the skunks of The Magnolia State.
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Simone St. James
In 1922 London, ghost researcher Alistair Gelles hires Sarah Piper as his temporary assistant. He explains to her that his permanent assistant Matthew Ryder is visiting his pregnant sister and that the patron Mrs. Clare asks for a female to get the ghost of the late serving girl Maddy, who hung herself, to leave.
Sarah enters the barn alone. She finds the barn on fire. She escapes, but once outside the barn is fine. She tells Alistair and Matthew who arrives what happened. Later she sees the scars on Matthew's back, but he misunderstands her reaction as he assumes his war injuries horrify her. Instead she thinks he is beautiful. The team learns Maddy arrived battered and mute at the Clare farm when she was twelve. Sarah asks Maddy about her suicide note in which she said "I will kill them." Later Sarah and Matthew have sex, but afterward he apologizes, which hurts her. The trio enters the barn. Matthew sees Maddy; Sarah senses Maddy is near; and Alistair hears music. Maddy tells Sarah that three men violated her as a little girl and she wants revenge. She orders Sarah to find them and her gravesite. Mrs. Clare smashes an oil lamp causing a fire. Matthew rescues Alistair who thinks he is back in combat. Sarah and Matthew investigate when the first unexplained (except by an avenging ghost) murder occurs.
This is an entertaining Post WWI British haunted barn thriller in which the researchers are fully developed, the ghost seems real, and the townsfolk enhance the enjoyable story line. Although the prime romantic subplot between the two research assistants feels forced and unnecessary, fans will appreciate Simone St. James's well written early twentieth century ghost story.
In LaPorte, Maryland three weeks ago a murderer almost killed twelve year old Emma Graham, cub reporter for the Conservative (see Belle Ruin). She knows how she came close to death as it began when she started to conduct research into the abduction of Baby Fay Slade two decades ago from the Belle Rouen Hotel which since burned to the ground (see Cold Flat Junction); when her passive inquiry failed, she turned active sleuth questioning those who should care or know something, which led to her near death experience.
Her mother hires slick Rafe to work at the hotel. Emma knows he is fake charmer so she suspects the new employee of sinister activity so she tails him with the help of her "chauffeur" the taxi driver. Morris Slade, father of the kidnapped baby, comes to town for the first time years. He was the prime suspect then and remains the prime suspect in the cold case that only Emma investigates. Soon after Slade arrives, a corpse is found leaving Emma to know her inquiry has someone nervous while she in peril again.
The third Graham tweener mystery is an engaging tale as the heroine balances her time amidst her kooky family, eccentric friends and people of interest, work at the hotel, and investigative journalism. However, the enjoyable tale lacks A Red Herring Without Mustard (by Alan Bradley) as the fun investigation is very straightforward. To fully appreciate the events of this storyline, fans should read the previous novels as the aptly titled Fadeaway Girl builds directly from those events even with the heroine providing some backstory. Still overall Emma Graham, tweener Nancy Drew, provides an entertaining mystery.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425246993 $7.99 www.amazon.com
Ever since her uncle was murdered in front of her eyes as a child almost two decades ago, Jolynn Taylor stays away from her father's mob world. However, when her dad Josiah suffers a heart attack, Jolynn goes to spend some time with him on his "home" a cruise ship the Fortuna currently docked in Genoa.
In Nellis AFB, although it rips at his soul, Captain Chuck Tanaka informs his superior officer Colonel Scanlon that he lost his edge since the enemy tortured him. Scanlon says instead of a desk job until his Air Force commitment ends, Chuck will go undercover as a blackjack dealer on the Fortuna with the chance to destroy the terrorist cell that kidnapped him and other military members. Scanlon and "Ice" Berg have his back. His assignment is to get close to the daughter. After a klutzy introduction, Chuck realizes someone wants Jolynn dead. Attracted to her, Chuck breaks cover to protect her.
The latest Dark Ops romantic suspense is a terrific thriller in which the need to protect the damsel in distress supersedes the romances (Scanlon meets his woman too). The storyline is fast-paced from the first clumsy move until the final confrontation. This is another winner with readers anticipating the melting of Ice soon.
The Council of Justice finds Passion the angel guilty of too much impish behavior as her appeal is that she just wanted to bring life to their tedious existence fails to move the judgment board. Passion can deal with her punishment to wander the Earth as a mortal in order to save human souls; however, she feels the Council was cruel and non-angelic when they made Hope the whiner her heavenly contact as once a day having this irritant in her mind can make anyone consider evil thoughts.
Her assignment takes the "human" Passion to the Castle of Dark Dreams where any form of sexual fantasy occurs. However, the virginal temporarily fallen angel meets Edge playing the role of a demon. She realizes how wicked he truly is by his aura, but rationalizes even a demon can be redeemed while Edge insists he just wants to bang the virgin demonic style.
The fifth erotic Castle of Dark Dreams romantic fantasy (Wicked Edge, Wicked Fantasy Wicked Pleasure and My Wicked Vampire) is an enticing wicked tale starring an interesting pair; as she is a virginal angel and he is the sinful demon. Their forbidden romance makes for a terrific paranormal star-crossed lovers' thriller.
Wedded in Scandal
Robert Percy knows that one of his recurring missions is to learn what his dad purchased whenever the earl is in his cups. This time the viscount explores the drunken entrepreneur's latest acquisition a coal mine.
Lady Helaine Talbott was forced to become the seamstress Mrs. Mortimer, half owner of A Lady's Favor, due to her vanished father "the thief of the ton." She visits her BFF widow Lady Irene hoping to arrange a business deal as their acquisition expert. Grieving Irene accepts the mercenary role of shopkeeper as that gives her hope to find her lost zest for life.
Mrs. Mortimer next visits Robert as the dressmaker for his sister Gwen's wedding to collet payment as his man of business sent her to him; he accuses her of being a con artist and threatens her with the constable. Soon afterward Robert comes to her shop. He interferes with her assisting a customer, but realizes she is a lady though why she works in trade is beyond his understanding until he learns who she is. Falling in love, each knows they have no future together except as his mistress as he has spent a lifetime avoiding a hint of scandal and she has spent her adulthood dealing with the sins of her father.
This Bridal Favors "wicked" historical romance is a superb gender war as the protagonists engage in a delightful battle of the wits. She forces him to make a paradigm switch about the business acumen of a lady while he forces her to fully grasp how far she has fallen as five years ago they could have had a future together.
Twenty year old college student Grace Andreas has no time to grieve the death of her sister and brother-in-law. With Petra's demise comes overwhelming responsibility as guardian to her four-year old niece Chloe and nine-month-old nephew Max. if that is not enough, she inherits her sibling's humongous debt. Finally there is Power of the Oracle of Louisville, which goes from the late Petra to the swamped Grace.
A dispute on her property leads Khalil the demonkind Djinn Prince of House Marid to enter the lives of Grace and her wards. Over her objection, he joins the grieving household. His shapeshifting amuses and distracts the children while his body distracts his hostess. As he calms down the irate Elder Races who loathe Grace's sassy scorn while she fumbles at deploying her new power, the demonkind and the humankind fall in love.
The latest Elder Races paranormal is a delightful romantic urban fantasy starring an in shock heroine and her demon protector. The storyline is mindful of the first season of The Greatest American Hero as the protagonist struggles with using her new talent, raising her young relatives and with her feelings towards the demonkind. However, the key to this excellent entry and the fabulous predecessors (see Dragon Bound, Storm's Heart and Serpent's Kiss) is the Harrison mythos of humans living alongside seven otherworldly species comes across as real.
Cake On A Hot Tin Roof
When her parents died, Aunt Yolanda and Uncle Nester took their niece Rita Lucero into their New Mexico home treating her as their loving daughter. After the pastry chef married Chef Phillipe Renier she moved to New Orleans where they started Zydeco Cakes. They separated for two years; their marriage ended when a killer murders Phillipe (see A Sheetcake Named Desire). Since her husband had no will, Rita is a wealthy widow; while her grieving mother-in-law Miss Frankie is elated that Rita will run Zydeco.
Preparing for Mardi Gras, the staff of Zydeco is working long hours with little sleep as they bake for the Krewe of Musterion party. Adding to her stress is the visits of her loving Uncle Nestor, accompanied by his wife; he pressures Rita to return to New Mexico; as he cannot accept a woman living without male protection. Rita takes her relatives to a gala, but Nestor and Big Daddy Boudreaux get into a public fight. Shortly afterward, Big Daddy is found dead. The victim's widow accuses Nestor. Rita knows her uncle is not a killer and risks her life to prove her belief.
The second A Piece of Cake Mystery is a fast-paced delightful amateur sleuth tale starring a feisty independent pastry chef who cherishes the couple who took her into their home, but will not bow to her uncle's wishes. Nestor believes women need the protection of a caring strong man. Ironically he needs the detecting skills of his caring strong niece. Even with the investigative action in the middle of the well written plot, Cake On A Hot Tin Roof is an interesting whodunit with the only lingering question being which classic Tennessee Williams' play will follow.
For fifteen weeks millionaire Elizabeth Graye has lied in a coma. Mrs. Harrison directed caretakers to play Mozart and Beethoven as a stimulus. However, Norma also plays Country music for her comatose patient and reads extracts from her romance novels.
Thus Norma plays the sad sound of musician Rick Denning, which reaches through the fog of Elizabeth's rewiring brain. They begin meeting in different time periods when he is asleep. When his Elizabeth appears in his daydreams, Rick obsessively decides to search for the woman he never met in person but has fallen in love with her. As he encourages her to come to him, however, someone else has other plans for the rich "bi*ch" and no country singer is going to stand in the way.
Dream Shadows is a fascinating romantic suspense with a paranormal element serving as a matchmaker. Because of the diverse eras, the storyline feels somewhat repetitive in an entertaining Ground Hog Day way. Mindful of Jack Finney's classic Time And Again, fans will enjoy love on a different plane while the body lies comatose and a killer waits to finish the job.
In Piefferburg, dedicated Elizabeth Cely Saintjohn the asrai water fae takes her duty to her liege The Summer Queen seriously; ergo she maintains the barrier that contains the fae. Mage Niall Quinn the thief thinks Elizabeth is cruel for not allowing the fae freedom.
Sent by the Shadow Queen of the Black Tower to regain two stolen pieces of the bosca fadbh that the Summer Queen gave to Elizabeth, Niall hunts her, but so far she has frustrated him. He loathes how she toys with him rather than his usual playing with females. Elizabeth finds her persistent pursuer attractive while Niall knows he wants her like no other woman before. Both have missions as they work for rival queens.
The latest Dark Magick romantic urban fantasy (see Wicked Enchantment, Dark Enchantment and Cruel Enchantment) is an entertaining thriller that looks deeply at values, which can be negative as well as positive. The relationship between the protagonists is fun to follow as the duet shares many of the same values. Although the bosca fadbh dominates the storyline, which keep readers somewhat at a distance from the lead rivals, sub-genre fans will appreciate this exciting blast from Anya Bast.
Something About Witches
Joey W. Hill
Three years ago witch trainer Ruby Night Divine gave up on Witches-R-Us as she knows how spells can go wrong while she fears the darkness growing inside her like a cancer though she uses a deception spell to conceal it. Instead she left behind Derek Stormwind the Guardian, her witch practice and vanished. Ruby opened up the Arcane Shot gun store.
When she sees the bane of her heart Derek arrive at her shop, she sends Theo the elderly mastiff to "kill" him. Theo obeys as he attacks Derek with his tongue licking the sorcerer's face. Derek explains he needs her help to train a coven in their fight against a demon and his horde. She agrees to instruct the witches, but also believes Derek has a secret agenda to get back into her bed. He does have another person mission; to learn why she left without a word.
The first Arcane Shot romantic urban fantasy is an engaging second chance at love tale starring a sorcerer who wants his woman back and a witch who wants him too but knows her soul is damned and so will be his if she allowed him back in her life. The storyline is filled with action, but it is the super charged relationship that enchants readers as once again Joey W. Hill casts a spell on her audience.
Town In A Wild Moose Chase
In wintry Maine Solomon Hatch the hermit follows a rare white moose in an isolated woody area near his encampment when he finds a corpse with a hatchet in its back. Stunned with his grisly discovery, he wobbly heads to Cape Willington where Caper Crier Community Corresponded Candy Holliday notices him as he falls on the ice. He tells her he saw a white moose and a dead body. Candy goes for help, but Hatch returns to his recluse lifestyle.
At the same time, the townsfolk host the annual Winter Moose Fest. Besides food and a parade, part of the gala is the ice sculpture contest in Town Park. However someone, apparently willing to do anything to win the ice sculpture contest, is causing havoc in the park. As Candy covers the events, she wonders if the saboteur and the corpse are related while also seeking the white moose as reclusive as Hatch.
The third Candy Holliday investigative thriller (see Town In A Lobster Stew and Town In A Blueberry Jam) is a terrific tale due to the eccentric cast, the intrepid reporter and a clever villain in plain sight. Candy is dandy as she proves Ogden Nash wrong (see Reflections on Ice Breaking as "candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." With a great stunning final twist to complete a strong regional whodunit, fans will enjoy Town In A Wild Moose Chase.
Clobbered by Camembert
In Providence, Ohio, Charlotte Bessette owns Fromagerie Bessette better known locally as The Cheese Shop. Currently Charlotte, with help from her assistants Rebecca Zook and teenager Bozz Bozzuto, prepares wine (cousin Matthew runs that operation) and cheese fare for the town's Winter Wonderland Faire hosted on the Village Green as part of the Providence Founder's Day gala.
Former resident and her mom's childhood friend Kaitlyn Clydesdale accompanied by her Do-Gooders crew, returns home after decades away. An entrepreneur Kaitlyn plans to open up a honeybee farm right next to the Quail Ridge Honeybee Farm owned by Ipo Ho. Rebecca is upset as she is attracted to Ipo. Not long after Charlotte meets her mother's old friend, Kaitlyn is found dead in Rebecca's cottage. Chief of Police Umberto Urso suspects Ipo killed Kaitlyn though his alibi is hysterical Amish-bred Rebecca who insists they were smooching at the time of death. Although she knows better after getting involved in homicides before (see The Long Quiche Goodbye and Lost And Fondue), Charlotte investigates.
The third Cheese Shop Mystery is an entertaining culinary amateur sleuth. The eccentric townsfolk, especially the heroine's extended family, enhance the look at a small Buckeye town in February. Charlotte is an engaging protagonist with a mysterious boyfriend Jordan and an obsessive need for information about her mother. With a surprise climax and some cheese recipes, fans will enjoy her inquiry even if her reasons why (primarily the sweet beekeeper would not hurt a fly) is over the top of Campbell Hill.
The House on Butterfly Way
In Louisville, Eugenie Dashner grew up in the Manitou Hills neighborhood. As a child she loved Fleurissant, the beautiful Victorian House on Butterfly Way. Now like the dilapidated mansion she always dreamed of living in, Eugenie's life is a shambles. She and her husband recently divorced with her obtaining custody of their teenage son Seth who seems eternally angry at her.
Encouraged by her widower brother Julian, she and her sibling buy the fixer-upper though funds are tight. Living with Eugenie and surly Seth are her mother the queen of crankiness Lorraine, Julian and his two young daughters (Chloe and Sophie). Eugenie finds it ironic that she obtains a position as a relationship facilitator at Heartmenders dating service. Meanwhile she begins the arduous task of renovating Fleurissant and her soul.
The House on Butterfly Way is a superb family drama that stars a protagonist whose reflections on her life mirrors her reflections on her house. The family members are unique people with plenty of tsuris. However, this is Eugenie's tale of middle age renovation of her heart and soul as most emotional destruction even a broken heart can be mended.
John A Flanagan
Although his broken leg has healed, Steamboat Springs ski patrol officer Jesse Parker remains emotionally traumatized from the accident. Jesse takes a leave of absence to emotionally heal by getting on the skis without an audience like Routt County Sheriff Lee Torrens. He goes to Snow Eagles resort in Utah, but his efforts fail. Deciding to leave in the morning, Jesse pays his tab, but has time for a one-nighter with Tina Bowden, resort security.
Washington State Senator Carling arrives with a group of business executives. Roger Kormann and a group he leads come to Snow Eagles and take over the resort. After accounting for the staff and the guest list, which includes people staying tomorrow only, Kormman shows he has no qualms about killing anyone. Meanwhile FBI hostage negotiator FBI Agent Denton Colby comes to Snow Eagle to work out the freeing of the captives. However, the only hope for those held by Kormman is the former Denver cop who since he is leaving in the morning is no longer on the guest list.
The latest Parker thriller (see Snow Peak) is an action-packed suspense in which a psychopath leads other amoral predators with the attitude mass killing is expected. Readers and the Fed quickly believe money is not the object of this game. Parker is a fascinating protagonist as he remains traumatized from his Denver police partner killed in a friendly fire incident during a shoot-out in which his bullet is the cause. However, with a second trauma, he loses empathy as a tormented hero; while his opponent is over the top of Pike's Peak. Still this is an entertaining cat and mouse tale.
Adrift on St. John
Rebecca M. Hale
Four years ago, Hannah Sheridan sat in the Miami airport fearing she would soon be debarred for running a shady law practice when a mysterious man offered her a job with a new identity. Without any hesitation she accepted a position to run an exotic resort as Pen Hoffstra on the Caribbean island of St. John.
Since that miraculous intervention, Pen has felt as if she has been on a four-year vacation as she loves her job and her new home. No one is more shocked than Pen when Hannah Sheridan arrives at the resort to install Wi-Fi access. Her folder that is given to assistant manager Vivian is empty; just like what Pen provided four years ago when she came as the new manager. When Hannah Sheridan vanishes at sea, the locals insist the Amina Slave Princess who led the early eighteenth century slave revolt is behind the disappearance. Now Pen knows why a stranger offered her this gig in what is no longer paradise for the truth will not set you free.
Giving Rupert a rest after his recent road trip (see the charming Cats and Curios Mysteries - How To Moon A Cat), the first Mystery In The islands is an intriguing but difficult novel to follow due to choppy transitions between the characters and the abrupt switching time frames. The flashback to the real 1733 slave revolt on this Virgin Island provides a sense of historical location, but never quite connects with the twenty first century main theme of what is happening to Pen Hoffstra nee Hannah Sheridan even with a sham masquerade of the Princess. Still fans who want something different will enjoy being Adrift on St. John.
Murder Buys A T-shirt
Late Uncle Louis left Glory Martine his souvenir, curio and collectible shop located in Keyhole Bay, Florida. After too many unexplained happenings in her new store, Glory is nearly convinced her shop is haunted by her deceased relative who talks to her through her parrot Bluebeard.
Glory and her friend, Karen the reporter, are at the scene of a traffic accident in which the high school football star Kevin Stanley dies. The police assume the victim was intoxicated because he just left a keg party so they take their time on the investigation. At the shop Bluebeard insists: "It wasn't an accident" and he leaves newspapers on the table that includes articles about Uncle Louis leding Glory to want to learn more about her mysterious relative. Glory believes that her Uncle Louis is speaking to her. To prove to herself she is not insane, Glory and Karen investigate Kevin's death with the help of two buddies Ernie and Felipe
The freshness in this paranormal cozy comes from Bluebeard the possessed parrot (if he is not possessed than our heroine suffers from a form of dementia) who as Uncle Louis wants to know and help his niece. The BFFs are fully developed with each seemingly capable of holding their own series though Keyhole Bay would need a crime wave. With a relative from beyond as the spiritual guide, Christy Fifield's Haunted Souvenir Shop regional amateur sleuth tale is an entertaining and clever Florida whodunit .
Due Or Die
Lindsey Norris is the library director for her small hometown of Briar Creek, Connecticut located by the water. She settled into her new position and has moved on passed the betrayal of her former fiance John whom she caught with his graduate student. The Friends of the Library invite Lindsey to attend their next meeting as there is an election between uber-volunteer Carrie Ruston and her opponent incumbent Bill Sint over who should hold the office of president; the volunteers hope Lindsey can defuse the nasty situation.
When Carrie wins the election, Bill acts ugly towards the winner he considers a usurper and Lindsey who he accused of favoritism before stomping out in anger. When Carrie's car fails to start, Mike "Captain Sully" Sullivan, who is attracted to Lindsey, intends to tale Carrie home first and then takes Lindsey to her house. They arrive at Carrie's house only to find her husband Markus dead from a bullet to the heart. The police take Carrie in for intense questioning several times, but they always let her go. A blizzard places the homicide investigation on hold as all emergency personnel including the police help the townsfolk. Lindsey, her crafternoon comrades, and Heathcliff the canine inquire into the murder of a person universally loathed.
This charming Library Lover's Mystery cozy shows how in a crisis communities band together to help each other during an emergency; though Lindsey and her posse believe the real emergency is proving Carrie's innocence and not the nor'easter. The killer is sly as the culprit wears an amiable mask of kindness while watching the library director and her crew making progress, just in case. Although Lindsey has no cause for involvement, like she did for her BFF Beth in Books Can Be Deceiving, she feels a need to volunteer as an amateur sleuth.
In San Francisco Etain the tattoo artist has the uncanny paranormal power of seeing what a person she touches with her palms has imprinted in their last recall memories. Ironically she uses her gift to help the police and the FBI solve crimes as that is part of her DNA make-up; but is somewhat distant from her father the police captain and her brother the Fed as neither understand the post-traumatic stress cost of touching skin.
Etain meets club owner Cathal Dunne, the son of a mob boss and Elf Lord Eamon the restauranteur. Cathal (and his dad) demands Etain use her skill to identify the punks who raped his cousin leaving her to die. Eamon demands the changeling Etain become his consort. At the same she struggles with the four males in her life (including the two family law enforcement officers) the FBI deploys Etain to help them catch the serial Harlequin Rapist, unaware that this psychopath becomes the fifth man in her life as she is his intended next victim.
The key to this super romantic investigative urban fantasy is that the males have different yet alpha personalities, which anchors the Strong San Francisco setting. The heroine is a brave person who knows first-hand the true nightmarish psychological meaning of the skin game on her mental state, but does what she can to bring justice to victims. Readers will enjoy the engaging Inked Magic.
The New York Blades of the NHL offered Rory Brady a contract to play hockey for them. He left Ballycraig, Ireland as the town's hero but promised his girlfriend Erin O'Brien he would send for her. However, the lights of Broadway distracted him as he never went back for her.
Erin works at her parents' B&B while majoring online in art history. She vowed never again will she let her aspirations slide for that of a man. However, Rory is back in Ballycraig to help his grandmother and the football camp he started. However, his real agenda is Erin, but she has him stuck with a game misconduct in the penalty box.
The latest New York Blades contemporary hockey romance (see Just A Taste and Fair Play) returns the readers to Ballycraig (see Straight Up) for another O'Brien tale. The eccentric wagering townsfolk welcome back the conquering hero with one exception, the woman he wants a second chance at love with rejects him as the bets make her the favorite. Fast-paced, the skating on thin ice storyline stars two initially unlikable lead characters (though her frozen heart is understandable) who grow on the reader.
The Lost Daughter
Fifteen years ago when Brooke O'Connor was seventeen years old, she gave birth to her boyfriend Alex's daughter. Brooke abandoned her baby for dead at a motel in Windermere, Connecticut. Whereas an upset Alex left for Japan where he married and had a son who died; Brooke gave up college to work at a plant nursery and married Sean while raising their daughter together.
Alex returns from Japan at a time when the O'Connor marriage is shaky as Sean wants another child while an increasingly remorseful Brooke says no without further explanation. Alex and Brooke meet for the first time since she left behind her oldest in Windermere. Their first encounter in fifteen years causes shockwaves.
This is an intriguing character study that looks deeply at the long term impact of difficult decisions made as a teen still haunting the adult over a decade and a half later. Although the over use of happenchance drives while detracting from the anticipated psychological collision, contemporary readers will appreciate this bittersweet extended poignant family drama starring real people with baggage that hinders each of them.
Astride A Pink Horse
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way,Berkeley, CA
9781583943694 $23.95 www.amazon.com
USPS mail-person Lyle Sudderman is poaching on restricted federal land when he notices a body hanging upside down in the Tango 11 decommissioned military nuclear silo near Wheatland, Wyoming.
Platte County Sheriff Art Bosack leads the investigation into the murder; USAF Office of Special Investigations Major Bernadette Cameron leads the federal inquiry into security breach. Former college baseball superstar Elgin "Cozy" Coseia, Digital Registry News reporter, arrives at the scene while Bosack and Cameron discuss jurisdiction. The body is that of retired USAF Master Sergeant Thurmond Giles, an expert on missile maintenance technology. Cozy's boss and former college teammate Freddy Dames obtains tips and writes incendiary opinions criticizing the Air Force and the county's sheriff department. Cameron's superior officer Colonel Joel DeWitt demands she find nothing that embarrasses the department just short of ordering a hate crime finding. The government and the reporters focus on an antinuclear group who protested in the 1970s and 80s and the victim's history of womanizing; even while the major joins the two journalists as the third amateur sleuth musketeer trying to solve the case together.
Astride a Pale Horse is an exciting investigative tale in which a present day homicide has ties to the Cold War era. The ensemble cast to include the lead trio, the corpse, other air force, the serif and the suspects are fully developed so that the audience understands what motivates each of them especially the politics of acceptable solutions. Fast-paced from the moment Cozy arrives at the silo and never slowing down readers will appreciate the three musketeers working a case that twists into an over the top of Mount Wheeler entertaining late thriller.
A Parliament of Spies
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312595746 $25.99 www.amazon.com
These are chaotic times in England under the unsteady rule of King Richard II and the viable threat of a French invasion. In these dangerous times, Abbess Hildegard prefers to rusticate in prayer.
However, though she insists she has no skills, York Archbishop Alexander Neville orders the nun to come with him to the Parliament meeting at Westminster in London, where she will be his spy; a role she is extremely uncomfortable with. Before they leave York, Neville assigns her a short clock to investigate the murder of Martin his saucier drowned in a wine vat filled with water and barley. The road to London is filled with violence as Hildegard thinks no place not even near the monarch is safe in these dangerous divisive partisan times.
This is a great medieval historical thriller as murder, mayhem and politics converge in fourteenth century England. The storyline is fast-paced as a power struggle that makes Machiavelli seems like an amateur manipulator. Timely, readers will relish Cassandra Clark's strong entertaining Abbess Hildegard tale (see The Law of Angels).
Deader Homes & Gardens
Bookseller Claire Malloy and police lieutenant Peter Rosen return home to Farberville, Arkansas after spending their odd honeymoon in Luxor, Egypt (see Mummy Dearest). However, first order of business is finding a place to live as the married couple and her teenage daughter Caron need more space.
After a week of failure hunting for a house without Peter who is busy working but with Caron, Claire finds the perfect home in Hollow Valley. She goes to close the deal with realtor Angela Delmond, who drove her to this house, but following a phone call the woman vanished; stranding Claire. A second shock occurs when Claire goes inside to get her purse and sees octogenarian Moses Hollow drinking Bordeaux. Nattie Hollow-Brown soon arrives and takes Angela to a nearby tavern for her to make a call. Later, Angela cannot find the realtor whose office hides something seemingly sinister and she learns the owner Winston died under mysterious circumstances; his lover Terry of Key West says the house is not for sale. When Terry dies, Claire knows she must catch a killer if the house is to belong to her and her family.
The latest Malloy amateur sleuth (see Closely Akin to Murder) tale is a zany regional whodunit as one learns that even with a recession realty is a killer market. Deader Homes & Gardens is fast-paced with a breezy amusing tongue in cheek undertone starting with the jocular opening refrain of "... my kingdom for a house." Fans of the series will wonder what next will happen to anyone associated with the house not for sale in Hollow Valley.
10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery
Lawyer Becky Baldwin persuades Cora "the Puzzle Lady" Felton to deliver $10,000 from an unnamed client to a blackmailer. Cora arrives at the abandoned gas station where she is to make the drop in the dumpster. She opens the lid to dump the money inside only the corpse of a man hit in the head stares back at her. Protruding from his pocket is a Sudoku puzzle. Adding to her concern, the money is stolen.
Brookhaven, Connecticut Police Chief Dale Harper leads the murder investigation. He is frustrated (as are readers) with Cora's stonewalling his questions. Becky refuses to reveal the name of her client, but Cora and her friends believe her ex-husband Melvin did it again. Cora realizes that the killer is playing chess with her and her queens are her beloved niece Sherry and her beloved infant grandniece.
Readers of the series know what to expect in a Puzzle Lady whodunit (see The Puzzle Lady vs. the Sudoku Lady and The KenKen Killings) and Parnell Hall and Will Stoltz (the puzzles) deliver on the formula a fun thriller. Fast-paced except for some of arguing amongst Cora and her posse, fans of Sudoku will want to solve the puzzles and ergo the mystery.
Those Who Love Night
Abigail Bukula is a prosecutor in South Africa where she works for the Department of Justice. Abigail is unhappy with the politicians ending the successful Scorpions program who got felons convicted including some highly ranked corrupt officials; the leaders have replaced that cell with a politically correct unit Hawk who she knows is to leave the untouchable elite politicos alone. Adding to her despondency is she thinks her husband Robert Mokoapi is cheating on her; making her efforts to remain faithful that much harder as she is attracted to Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organization official Jonas Chunga. Fear joins unhappiness when the cops arrest her former Scorpions' leader Gert Pienaar.
Krisj Patel informs Abigail that her cousin Tony Makumne is one of the Harare Seven held captured in brutal Zimbabwean Chickurubi Prison. She insists her late Aunt Janice, who died in the 1982 Gukurahundi massacre in Bizanna, had only a daughter Katy. Patel sends a six-page letter and two pictures that stir Abigail to contact Jewish prison psychologist Yudel Gordon who teamed with her to bring justice to The October Killings. Abigail, who practiced law in Zimbabwe, travels there to represent the Harare Seven, but the authorities refuse to cooperate. When Patel is assassinated, though fearful she remains steadfast to see justice served.
This is a great thriller that showcases life under the vicious regime of Mugabe. With the exception of the Catholic Bishops ironically the world including western leaders ignored the real genocide of three decades ago, which is a key element in this strong legal thriller. With a shocking final twist, readers will appreciate dedicated Abigail trying to obtain justice for the Harare Seven inside a country where the sword is mightier than the pen.
The Cat Sitter's Pajamas
On Siesta Key off Sarasota, Dixie Hemingway cat sits the two felines (Elvis and Lucy) belonging to Tampa bay Buccaneer inside linebacker Cupcake Trillin and his wife Jancey while they spend two weeks in Palma, Italy. When Dixie enters the Trillin's home in an exclusive gated Hidden Shores, she is not met by the cats, but by an almost naked woman; Briana the fashion model who insists she is Cupcake's wife.
Taken aback Dixie calls Cupcake and the police. The cops arrive, but Briana is gone and a female corpse lies on the floor. Dixie leaves with the cats, but Briana accosts her; begging for her help as she swears she never killed anyone. Briana explains she was Cupcake's childhood friend when they lived in poverty in Louisiana. A former Sheriff's deputy, Dixie agrees to look into the case that twists dangerously when she is assaulted, her apartment savaged and an Interpol agent working for the FBI interrogates her.
The latest "other" Dixie Hemingway pet sitting mystery (see Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons and Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter) is a fabulous spinning Gulf Coast whodunit. As always the cast especially the pets are top rate and the locale inviting while the heroine knows she needs to "just say no", but cannot. The Cat Sitter's Pajamas is an enjoyable investigative thriller in one of the better series in recent years that pays homage to Blaize Clement who died last summer.
In 1926 Derbyshire, Humphrey Birtwhistle has done well writing American Western novels. Although he has never set foot in the territory he describes, neither has his readers who take his descriptions and heroes as gospel. Humphrey has a large retinue of family, friends, and others living idly comfortably off his royalties.
Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher visits her school days friend Sybil Sutherby at the home of the novelist. Humphrey's confidential secretary, Sybil feels something is not right, but is unsure what disturbs her except her gut tells her someone is poisoning her employer to keep him ill. She knows her friend has solved mysteries so she has invited Daisy to investigate. Sibyl explains to Daisy that when the writer became too sick to write, she ghost wrote the books, which lead to greater sales. Her fear is one of the hanger-on likes the additional income so does not want the status quo changed. Daisy begins her inquiry only before she makes much headway, Humphrey is dead. As the amateur sleuth investigates what she believes is a homicide by seeking the motive amidst a horde of house guests and employees, Daisy's Scotland Yard DCI husband Alec Fletcher wants her to drop the case.
The latest Daisy Dalrymple historical amateur sleuth is a great 1920s whodunit due to a strong mystery and the usual trademark sense of time and place. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Daisy's latest caper (see Sheer Folly, Anthem for Doomed Youth and Gunpowder Plot) as she has Gone West to Debyshire where she faces a horde of ungrateful demanding slackers.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451413215 $7.99 www.amazon.com
The High Lord of the Immortal Darkyn wants the alleged scrolls that contain the secrets to immortal life and the maps that lead to Templar treasure buried in the early fourteenth century. He sends his best warrior Korvel to France to obtain the scrolls.
As he drives the worst road in France, Korvel is warned others are making an attempt too. Soon he is attacked and hurt, but defeats his enemy, but is aware more await him. His quest leads Korvel to Simone, the daughter of the scroll's guardian. She seeks them too in order to return them to safety. As they team up with killers pursuing them, they begin to fall in love, but Simone fails to inform her new partner that once she obtains the scrolls, she is to kill Korvel.
The first Lords of the Darkyn romantic urban fantasy is a great entry inside the magnificent mythological world of Lynn Viehl. The storyline is fast-paced from the first assassination attempt until the final confrontation as readers will wonder whether Simone will complete the mission as ordered. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate the opening act in the new trilogy due to the strong protagonists who make the Viehl realm exciting to visit.
To earn his wings as a League of Talyan Bookkeeper, Sidney Westerbrook leaves London to study why Chicago contains an exorbitant level of otherworldly combat. Though he preferred research from a distance, he knows field work is an inconvenient truth of his mission. However, the Chicago League Chief Liam Niall refuses to allow him to join their night patrol on his first evening in the city; suggesting he adapt to the time change first.
Thus Sidney goes out on the town alone. However, Westerbrook realizes the stupidity of his actions when two feralis attack him. His shoulder injured, he expects to be a mangled corpse only a female talya warrior intercedes as Alyce Carver is not bound by strict League rules as a rogue battling evil ferales solo. They are attracted to one another, but Sid is a London based Bookkeeper, and Alyce is a rogue unaffiliated talyan and is expected to mate with one of her kind.
The fourth Marked Souls romantic urban fantasy (see Seduced by the Shadows, Forged in Shadows and Vowed in Shadows) is an exciting paranormal with a fascinating unexpected but plausible twist. The story line is fast-paced with the well done gender spin of the heroine saving the helpless male in distress. Although Alyce garners much respect for her dedication and empathy for her loneliness, Sid fails to do likewise as understanding him comes late. Still this is another dynamic thriller in the super Slade mythos.
The Nosferatu Scroll
In 1741 Bohemia, Father Bohdan Reznik performs the Last Rites to Princess Eleonora von Schwartzenberg. However these are not the normal Last Rites that the flock has seen. Instead, he has the coffin, which came from Vienna, opened so he can remove her head and sprinkle holy water on the rest of the body. The priest stoically completes the special Last Rites and insures no physical evidence remains that the princess ever existed.
In 2010 divorced couple, police detective Chris Bronson and Angela Lewis the museum conservator, vacation together in Vienna. They are at a tomb containing a badly interred corpse of a woman whose head was sliced off and her mouth containing a brick of sorts. Angela steals an eighteenth century journal written by apparently the victim that the British citizen found near the grave. The writings mention a scroll that the two visitors seek. Others observe and attack the cop and the conservator; while apparently a vampire cult kidnaps women including Angela.
The latest Bronson thriller (see The First Apostle, The Moses Stone and The Messiah Secret) once again deftly blends history with a modern day mystery. The fast-paced storyline focuses on vampires as the skeptical cop and the scientific conservator find themselves one bite away from joining that unmentionable beheaded Princess. Filled with action, a fantastic stunning late twist, and interwoven historical tidbits, fans will enjoy James Becker's tour of Vienna as Along Comes Bronson hoping to rescue his former wife.
Her pack was devastated by the silver poisoning that left all the males murdered and few females still alive. Alpha Ana Cordona, supported by her sisters and the other survivors, takes charge trying to keep the pack together and safe from further insidious assaults and the offer of protection from Taggert, Alpha chief of what until recently was a rival pack.
Connor Armstrong and his warrior wolves return to the beleaguered pack he left years ago. He knows he hurt Ana when he deserted her, but also realizes like she does too that they are his soul mates. Although she has doubts about the prodigal alpha coming home to take charge, Ana and her few survivors have little choice especially when another member is poisoned.
The first Moon Shifter romantic urban fantasy is an engaging thriller in which the wary dysfunctional relationship between humans and shifters will remind readers of the X-Men. Fast-paced, the strong murder mystery anchors the paranormal elements while also enhancing the second chance at love romance. Sub-genre, fans will take immense pleasure exploring the Reus' mythos.
The three Pureblood vampiric Roman brothers (Alexander, Nicholas and Lucian) left the Eternal Order community due to a dispute over tyrannical rules and the prejudicial mistreatment of the Impure half breeds, vowing never to return. However the road has been difficult land-mined with cravings though Alexander (see Eternal Kiss) and Nicholas (see Eternal Hunger) have found their respective soulmates. The two siblings vow to help their brother Lucien from being a chop off their unknown father's block by preventing him from becoming a maniacal breeder.
Lucien knows he is in trouble as his doomsday clock began the final countdown when he gave blood to Bronwyn Kettler. He craves killing Bronwyn. His apparently only choices are the status quo path of doom leading to his murdering Bronwyn and her vampire fiance, or committing suicide. None of the Roman siblings or their mates realizes that Cruen the ex Eternal Order member needs Roman insanely out of control as part of his diabolical scheme.
The excellent third Roman brother Mark of the Vampire romantic urban fantasy continues to expound on vampiric genetics that make the Wright mythos the right stuff. Action-packed with a powerful psychological obsession as its key base, fans will relish this superb tale and series while hoping for future visits to the world of Laura Wright.
The three Lonike sisters tried to hide in Port Rock, Maine from the deadly mermaid queens, but their efforts failed as each became embroiled in the dispute between the humans and the mer. However, Gwen (see Siren's Surrender) and Tessa (see Siren's Call) have since found love.
The US Navy obtains the assistance of the third sibling Addison. They want her to negotiate a peace agreement with Queen Magaera who recently crossed the divide into the human realm with plans to establish a Mediterranean kingdom. Addison and Navy Captain Mason McKenzie are attracted to one another, but besides dealing with the queen, a race of male sea-shifters has surfaced with their leader desiring the last unattached Lonike sister as his chosen one.
The final Dark Tides oceanic romantic fantasy is a super finish to a stupendous saga in which the key to the series is the belief that the Siren and Mer species exists. Fast-paced from start to the finish, readers will enjoy the third Lonike sister's escapades in love, tide and adventures as Devyn Quinn casts a charming spell on her audience.
In 1891 Brianna O'Keefe heads west young woman accompanied by her ward, her young niece. Brianna obtains work on a Colorado ranch. To keep the cowboys away, Brianna says she is married to a Denver gold miner David Paxton and raising their child.
David Paxton arrives and meets his spouse and daughter. However, he recognizes neither nor remembers marrying anyone, but his offspring has his family birthmark. Confused David fears he was intoxicated when he had sex with Brianna and when he abandoned the pregnant Brianna. As the two wary "married" adults fall in love, she fears her lies will destroy their special bond of a family especially hurting her niece and breaking her heart and that of their "daughter".
Lucky Penny is an entertaining historical romance starring the likable Paxton "family" in a strong Gilded Age Colorado tale. The storyline is fast-paced as Brianna struggles with rectifying fate's twist in which she wants her scam family to be real. Fans will root for her to resolve her problems as she knows she owes her beloved the truth for "There must be some misunderstanding; There must be some kind of mistake" (Genesis).
A Scandalous Countess
In 1764 Widow Lady Georgia Maybury, spent the last year grieving her loss. However, though she rusticated, she did not mourn the death of her foolish husband in a duel, but the impact of his scandalous stupidity placing a spotlight on her rumored activity cost her standing in London high society. Her plan is to return to the elite though the impropriety of her late spouse's death and rumors of her cheating remain problems.
Georgia's father offers her hand in marriage to former naval officer Lord Darcy as payment of a gambling debt; he accepts as he could use her widow's income. Darcy and Georgia become acquainted and enjoy their verbal battles. As they begin to fall in love, last year's ruinous rumors arise with a new odious one. However, there is one difference this season from last year; a scarred military aristocrat in love rejects these as lies and investigates who the mendacious one is, why he or she is telling these fabrications and even into the death of the Earl of Maybury.
The latest Malloren Georgian tale (see An Unlikely Countess and The Secret Duke) is an engaging eighteenth century romantic mystery starring two seemingly opposites in love. Georgia is a terrific protagonist, but it is Darcy who makes the historical fun as his amateur sleuthing grips readers with a need to know who and why.
The Duchess Diaries
Miss Charlotte Boscastle knows, as the headmistress of the Scarfield Academy for Young Ladies, how critical if her school is to stay open scandals must be avoided. She is pleased this year's class proved a success culminating with a terrific graduation ball.
Her euphoria ends when Charlotte, in a panic, realizes her erotic diary is missing. She knows her heated writings of sex with Gideon, the Duke of Wynfield, could ruin her. Gideon possesses Charlotte's ultra-hot diary. He plans to return it to her. When she learns he has it, she sneaks into his room to regain her inner musings, but they are caught in a compromising position. As they must marry, her diary is stolen causing a bigger impropriety that the Boscastle brood plans to rectify their scandalous way.
The latest Boscastle in a Bridal Pleasures historical romance (see A Duke's Temptation) is a fabulous amusing tale as the headmistress manages to turn her academy into a School for Scandal (Sheridan) due to her erotic dreams turned real by her former fantasy lover. The bodacious Boscastle brood returns in full scandalous force in order to catch a thief.
Miss Liliana Claremont has two goals in her life. First she wants employment as a chemist in a lab and second she wants to prove to the new Earl of Stratford, Geoffrey Wentworth murdered her father. On the other hand war hero Geoffrey has one field objective: to avoid women suddenly interested in him as an earl worthy of marriage.
His mother wants a grandchild so she arranges a party of acceptable single females. Liliana accepts the invitation as an opportunity to find the evidence to hang Geoffrey. However, at the gala, to her chagrin she is attracted to the former officer. Her behavior so different from the gaggle has led him to learn why she came as Liliana shows no inclination to wed an earl. All previous non-relational thoughts end when they kiss.
The opening Veiled Seduction eighteenth century romance is an entertaining historical starring a wonderful independent female amateur sleuth and the target of her suspicions. Fans will appreciate their encounters as first there is distrust, than there is attraction, and finally there is love, but as the scope of her interest expands his connection to her father's death remains a bridge seemingly too far for these beloved enemies to cross together.
Syrie James and Ryan M. James
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062027894 $8.99 www.amazon.com
In Southern California, sixteen years old Claire hopes this time she and her mom stay in one spot so she can makes friends at the Emerson Academy that she attends on a scholarship. Her nomadic mom has them relocating seemingly even before they can open their bags. At the school Claire meets new student Alec, an angel attending school for a bit of R&R though if caught by the Elders he will be executed for desertion. He explains to her why her mother constantly is on the run; as Claire is a half-angel, a hybrid species considered an abomination by the angel Elders.
Alec and Claire fall in love while Helena begins sending visions to Claire with a warning to tell no one, not even her beloved, of her psychic powers. Unable to resist Claire reveals all to her friends. When her life is threatened, Alec risks his to keep her safe.
Although angels are a large population in the paranormal romance subgenre (see His Dark Bond by Anne Marsh), team James provide an entertaining teenage romantic urban fantasy. The storyline is fast-paced while the antics of the heroine are fun to follow as her hormones war with her brain. Although the support characters are out of the genre's typical casting mold, Alec is a unique individual who is wary and in love. Readers will enjoy Claire's coming of age not so angelic Los Angeles joy ride.
So Pretty It Hurts
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061576607 $24.99 www.amazon.com
Best friends Bailey Weggins and Jessie Pendergrass work for Buzz, a gossip magazine known for its sensationalist disregard of the facts. Jessie invites Bailey to accompany her for the weekend at the home of record producer Saul Cohen. Upset with her boyfriend Beau Reagan for being out of town on business, Baily agrees. Among the celebrities attending the weekend bash is supermodel Devon Barrwho after eighteen years on the catwalk knows her career is over; she wants to become a recording artist and will do whatever it takes to sell herself to Saul.
Demanding diva Devon makes a terrible impression on the Buzz reporters with her queen of mean demeanor expecting everyone to kowtow to her wishes. She also has the nerve to invite her former boyfriend Tommy and his current girlfriend to the party as flaunting Devon wants him back. Bailey finds Devon weeping. The model says she must leave as it is unsafe for her to remain at Cohen's house. Later she is found dead in her bed. The police believe she died from using Ipecac, a drug used to control eating disorders like anorexia. However, Bailey remembers how frightened the woman was and believes a homicide occurred. Her journalist instincts kick in as she investigates the diva's death while someone tries to get Buzz to fire her.
The latest Bailey Weggins investigation (see Lethally Blond) is an entertaining locked country house whodunit (snowstorms come in handy). Fans will find it difficult to put down the exciting So Pretty It Hurts as we try to identify who the culprit is amidst a house filled with suspects; of whom most detested the deceased. The characters feel so realistic that the audiences will want to find out what the group members have against Devon. The Bailey Weggins series is one of the most entertaining and realistic series on the market today.
City of Dragons: Volume Three of the Rain Wilds Chronicles
The Rain Wilders handlers and their stunted dragons have reached the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra. However, they cannot cross the treacherous Rain Wild River by water or air except for Heeby the Red Queen who is the only dragon who can fly. When winter sets in, the supplies are low and foraging difficult. Captain Leftrin hates leaving behind his beloved Alise Kinncannon Finbock so she can study Kelsingra before the greedy Traders including her abusive husband Hest strip the city. Still, he and his Liveship Tarman head back to the Rain Wilds to pick up needed supplies and collect what the Trading Council owes him.
In Bingtown, an irate Hest plans to teach his wife a lesson for humiliating him and how much the monetary cost to him of her leaving. At the same time the dying odious Duke of Chalced seeks dragon blood and flesh to regain his youth so he has agents stalking the expedition. Finally pregnant Malta and her husband Reyn fear for their unborn as neither knows the effect of what the dragon Tintaglia did to them (see Liveship Traders' saga).
Fans of the Hobb mythos (see The Tawny Man saga) need to adapt to the premise that the travelers reached their destination in Dragon Haven, but failed to make it inside the city as this reviewer wrongly assumed that this series was a duology. The third Rain Wilds Chronicles (see Dragon Keeper) is a well written fascinating fantasy that provides the audience a deep look at Kelsingra although that profundity slows down the action of surviving in a frozen wilderness with stunted dragons.
Till Death Do Us Purl
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439191408 $15.00 www.amazon.com
In Plum Harbor, Massachusetts, Black Sheep Knitting Shop owner Maggie Messina and four of her die-hard enthusiastic knitting friends (Lucy, Suzanne, Dana and Phoebe) meet once a week to knit and chat. At one of their socials, Maggie asks the knitters if they would help Rebecca Bailey create her wedding gown and the bridesmaids' shrugs; as her wedding was moved forward a few months.
The five Black Sheep Knitters complete the project on time and receives invitations to attend Rebecca's marriage to Jeremy. Two days after the vows are exchanged, an explosion occurs at the lab where Jeremy works. The knitters are in shock to learn the groom died in the accident. Not long afterward, the knitters receive a bigger stunner when they learn Jeremy contacted his grieving widow from his hiding place in a nearby hotel. When Jeremy's corpse is found in his hotel room, the police focus on Rebecca because they have witnesses who saw her visit him at the hotel and it was her scarf around his neck. Feeling an affinity to the grieving widow, the fab five investigate knitting a case to lead the police to another viable suspect.
Fans who enjoy an enthusiastic engrossing and exciting regional cozy will want to read the Black Sheep Knitting mysteries (see Knit, Purl and Die; While My Pretty One Knits and A Stitch before Dying) as the charming quintet led by Maggie investigates the groom murder one stitch at a time. Each of the amateur sleuths possesses a different personality as their diversity adds to the fun of observing them make inquiries and gossip while knitting. Readers will appreciate Anne Canadeo's latest New England whodunit.
By a Thread
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451651768 $7.99 www.amazon.com
In Ashland, Pork Pit owner Gin "Spider" Blanco completed the magical hit she has trained for when she assassinated Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered her family when she was a teen (see Spider's Revenge). With many of the punks seeking instant infamy by killing Spider, and with Gin wanting to spend quality with her long-lost baby sister Ashland police detective Bria Coolidge, she leaves on a vacation from her occupation.
The siblings travel to Blue Marsh beach resort where Bria introduces Gin to her best friend Callie Reyes of the Sea Breeze. Small time felon Pete Proctor and his giant partner Trent warn Callie to sell her establishment to their employer Randall Dekes the vampire before hurricane season causes damage. Pete also harasses Bria before breaking a mirror. When he gloats over hurting Bria before, Spider knocks out Trent and stabs Pete's hand to the floor before knocking him out. With a sigh Gin knows the vacation is over. Gin's former lover Blue Marsh police detective Donovan Caine who is also Bria's fiance arrives at the Sea Breeze. However, the power hungry vamp covets a new acquisition, Spider's elemental ice and Stone magic.
The enjoyable sixth Elemental Assassin urban fantasy is the first in the post Mabs era and fans of the series will appreciate the still kick butt heroine flashing her knives though her opponent is much more clever and a more dangerous adversary than her previous opponent was. Action-packed from the moment the vacation ends, Jennifer Estep avoids the sub-genre stereotyping of the heroine and the villain By A Thread based on who has the sharper bite.
The Revenge of Lord Eberlin
In 1792 in Hadley Green, eight year old Lily Boudine's testimony led to the hanging of a man for stealing the jewels of her aunt and guardian, the Countess of Ashwood (see The Year of Living Scandalously). Tobin Scott witnessed his father's execution for a crime he did not commit. To keep young Lily safe she is sent to live with family in Ireland.
Fifteen years later, Lily inherits the Ashwood title. She finds her estate in terrible condition. Wealthy Tobin as Count Eberlin informs the Countess she has a choice between saving the people of Ashwood and saving herself. She agrees to a tryst to save her people. However he never expected to betray his own quest when he is attracted to the female who hung his dad. On the one hand she feels the same way but also has guilt weighing her down as Lily begins to thinks she condemned an innocent man to the gallows. As they fall in love, they seek the truth of what happened fifteen years ago.
The second Secret of Hadley Green Regency romance is an enjoyable tale as beloved enemies investigate the cold case. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Tobin's revelation that "revenge is a dish best served cold" (except for the Count of Monte Crisco and Emily Van Camp) as he finds Lily nothing like the frozen bi*ch he expected; especially with her remorse over what she realizes she did. Readers will appreciate this entry and look forward to more secrets revealed.
A Lady Never Surrenders
In 1825 Lady Celia Sharpe knows she has two months to marry or lose her inheritance. None of her suitors interest her; though she admits to herself that her attitude is part of the problem as she simply wants to wed no one.
Celia hires Bow Street runner Jackson Pinter to do a background check on her potential mates. He prefers to investigate what happened to her parents in 1806 when she was not quite five years old. However, Pinter keeps rejecting her suitors, which leads Celia to analyze his motive. Meanwhile as her suppressed memories of what she witnessed two decades ago begin to surface, someone wants her dead. Jackson risks his life and his heart to keep the woman he loves safe.
The final Hellions of Halstead Hall (see To Wed A Wild Lord) is a terrific late Regency romantic suspense as the prim Bow Street Runner knows he wants to wed a wild lady though she is too above his station; while the sharp scandalous lady knows who she wants and goes out to get him. The finish to the overarching murder theme is deftly done as Sabrina Jeffries provides a great finish to Gran's wonderful Hellions of Halsted Hall.
Last Man Standing
Several years ago, the ambush left Black Ops, Inc. operative Bryan Tomkins dead in Sierra Leone. His comrade in arms Joe Green finds some enigmatic evidence that suggests the deadly assault was not as random as reported. At Fort Meade, Maryland Joe ends his relationship with a stunned heartbroken Stephanie for her safety; as he plans to go solo to Sierra Leone to learn the truth and if what he suspects is real take down his friend's killer.
Angry at her stubborn beloved, Stephanie is shook when she learns Joe has been arrested for murdering a priest In Freetown. His Black Ops, Inc. unit is communication shutdown as required by a deep undercover mission so she knows she must go solo to rescue Joe. However, someone in the shadows plans to keep the truth about Bryan interred even if that means killing the man's sister and her lover.
The latest Black Ops, Inc. thriller (see No Mercy, Take No Prisoners) is an exciting action-packed tale that brings much closure to the overarching theme of what really happened to Bryan Tomkins. The key to the fast-paced story line that provides insight into that fatal mission that haunts much of the agents of BOI is the identity of the prime suspect behind the bloody ambush as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to who killed Bryan Tomkins?
Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors
Gabriel Nightingale and Jane Jameson move in together in her ancestral home. As a librarian and bookstore owner, Jane appreciates his rare books like his early printing of Persuasion that he purchased when it was released. Her collection consists of second hand books with plenty of folds. Jane feels good about her friends who helped them move, but made it clear the couple must never break up because they refuse to carry boxes again. Most important to Jane is that her stunned family has somewhat accepted that she is a vampire as is her significant other. Life as an undead is good.
In an instant that changes as Jane watches in horror teenager Jamie Lanier, making deliveries for the Half Moon Dairy, backs out with his hand truck loaded into an on-coming car and he is injured in the crash. Neighbors Dick and Andrea rush out to the accident scene; and he orders Jane to change the lad; which she does. Stunned Jane feels like a child having a child as she is a fledgling vamp now a parenting vampire. Gabriel mentions he "sired" three children in a century and a half; two were evil. Besides nurturing her offspring, death threats and the ghost of ghostly presence of her Grandma Ruthie (still a pain in the butt from the beyond) Jane has a wedding to plan.
The fourth "It Happened to Jane" chick lit urban fantasy (see Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, Nice Girls Don't Live Forever and Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men) is a madcap adventure filled with twists and plenty of jocularity especially self-deprecating humor. The storyline is thin but fast-paced and fun; sub-genre fans will enjoy this breezy entry as Jane learns how difficult parenting is.
Sliver of Shadow
Abby Sinclair still adapts to being the human TouchStone, a position she inherited from her late mom, who helps the OtherFolk cross the barriers between the human and Faery realm. Her liege the Faery Protectorate Moira, whose life she saved (see A Brush of Darkness), has to leave for a meeting at the Faery Court since war with the demons of hell seems imminent. The Protectorate leaves Abby in charge. Part of her duties is to protect Moira's half-angel child. Abbey receives help from Moira's outcast half-brother Talivar and Phineas the miniature unicorn who uses her underwear as bedding.
The raging Faery Queen abruptly shuts the CrossRoads portal between the two worlds after a spell targeted the TouchStone mortal. OtherFolk trapped on Earth are fading into oblivion. Abby, escorted by Talivar and her former lover Brystion the incubus, treks to CrossRoads in an attempt to override the queen's angry spell.
The second sensational Sinclair urban fantasy is an exciting conspiratorial thriller starring a strong cast especially the kick butt heroine. Abby is terrific when she focuses on the magic issues; her overly melodramatic inability to make up (her) mind; pick up on one and leave the other behind" (Lovin' Spoonful) detracts from the storyline. Still in spite of a disappointingly indecisive climax, fans will enjoy Abby's awesome adventures.
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Giselle the witch bartered her magical slave Max to obtain a favor from Scooter the demi-god. Scooter sends Max the Warrior to the Shadow City on a mission to save his life by retrieving from a thief body parts stolen from him. There she must be careful or become enslaved to creatures worse than Giselle.
Alexander the Shadowblade warrior knows time is running out as an unthinkable evil act has birthed a Fury. He does not want to be named the Prime as he prays Max will return to her position. However, Alexander must combat the invincible lethal Fury before the raging creature destroys the covenstead.
The latest Horngate Witches thriller (see Bitter Night and Crimson Wind) is a great entry due to the actions and reactions of the lead characters. Mad Max is the original Revenge heroine who loathes her masters and their biddings while fulfilling their demands but risking her life to do the right thing ethically to keep the innocent safe. Alexander is great as he is in a role he detests, but morally has no choice. Readers will relish this strong urban fantasy.
The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780515150469 $7.99 www.amazon.com
In 1798, Maurice Fairbourne, owner of the prestigious Fairbourne's Auction House, falls from a cliff near Kent. His secret partner the Earl of Southwaite attends a final auction of mostly junk. Maurice's daughter Emma pushes the sale while Southwaite wants to sell the house before the value deteriorates too much. Emma refuses and though he cannot explain what happened he leaves meekly. A woman visits Emma with a wagon of wine and other cargo lacking a government stamp. She realizes her dad dealt with smuggled goods. Southwaite looks at the accounts and concludes Maurice dealt with smuggled goods.
Southwaite discusses the Kent coast with concerned friends; while Emma's pal lines up the consignment for Count Van Kandstrandt. Though Southwaite knows she tricked him to get the Count's business he kisses Emma. Meanwhile Southwaite watch Emma's activities near where her dad fell to his death. He confronts her and takes her to his estate where they make love. Since she was a virgin, he says he will marry her, but she refuses. He asks her to be his mistress, but she refuses. However, he vows to keep her safe as he realizes the woman he loves has become embroiled in his smuggling investigation.
The lead couple is fully developed protagonists engaged in a wonderful gender war. The support cast mostly enhances the smuggling subplot with the implication of a sequel between a French female printer and the "handsome Stupid Man." Although the climax fails to live up to the taut suspense leading to the final encounters, fans will enjoy this exciting historical romance.
On Valentine's Day, Iris the Finnish house sprite and Bruce the leprechaun prepare to marry as their friends look forward to rejoicing in their happiness. Even Camille D'Artigo is happy for her pal Iris though she still suffers from PTSD after one of her fathers-in-law Hyto the dragon abducted and sexually assaulted his prisoner in order to break her will (see Courting Darkness).
A bomb explodes at the Super Community Center. Camille's half-sister werecat/werepanther Delilah the Death Maiden (see Harvest Hunting for her last lead) learns Newkirk and the Koyomi coyote shifters have teamed up with sorcerers; while Shadow Wing dispatches one of his most ferocious ruthless leaders. With her two half-sisters (see Camille the witch in Bone Magic for her last lead) family, friends and lovers; Delilah leads the counterattack as danger mounts to a critical state.
The Sisters of the Moon urban fantasy rotates lead between the three D'Artigo sisters with the latest focused predominantly on Delilah. The Otherworld entry is superb in what is one of the great on-going sub-genre sagas. As always the key is how deftly Yasmine Galenorn keeps the personalities of the lead trio and their mates diverse and fascinating. Shaded Vision is a terrific thriller as even in the darkest night a joyful wedding brings a brilliant shiny light.
Mother of eight year old Sophie, thirtyish Widow Olivia Baldwin and her Inglenook Camp counselor twentyish Mark Brier are at elderly widower Ezra's trading post. Olivia hopes to buy Inglenook from her mother-in-law Eileen although she prefers to hide and run ever since her mom died when she was four and her dad stopped seeing her soon after. Mark assaults Olivia, but camp guest Max Oceanus intercedes. Max was unaware he sired his six year old son Henry until the child's mom died two months ago; at the camp he plans for them to get to know each other.
Max thinks Olivia will provide him a pearl of wisdom on raising a child. She tells him he needs to understand Henry and they journey as a team. Their kids want the parents to date, but wise Sophie reflects that everyone eligible in Spellbound Falls is afraid of the ghost of Olivia's late spouse Keith. Ironically Olivia hates Keith who failed to tell his parents they were divorcing when he got killed in combat. Over parenting lessons, the teacher and the student fall in love though she has childhood fears and he family issues keeping them apart. Additionally she, her daughter and her "guardian" Ezra recognize strange unexplainable behavior from his father and so that has her choosing flight.
The protagonists and the ensemble support cast are fully developed in this engaging romantic urban fantasy. The otherworldly elements blend smoothly with modern technology to bring about a fascinating environment that will turn even more uniquely. Although the storyline is thin and the children are too precocious, readers will enjoy learning just who Mr. Oceanus is and look forward to more adventures with the lead couple's extended families (especially his).
Jean-Claude La Roux stole a chip containing Russian top secrets. Stefan Prakenskii is assigned to retrieve the chip. He goes undercover at Sea Haven in order to be close to Judith Henderson; as La Roux obsesses over the local artist. Stefan has some doubts about his mission as he wonders if he is being set up as expendable bait to trap the allegedly dead La Roux since he now is tasked to watch over the woman instead of going after the chip.
While grieving the death of her brother at the hands of psychopath la Roux, Judith holds herself culpable for her sibling's death. She has buried herself among her "sisters" with elemental magical powers. When Stefan and Judith meet, their attraction is powerful, but she fears for his life as her obsessed predator will kill anyone who gets close to her
The second Sisters of the Heart urban romantic fantasy (see Water Bound for Stefan's brother Lev's visit to Sea Haven) is an entertaining exciting undercover thriller. Fast-paced with a neat twist to the romantic subplot as obsession is the word, fans will appreciate this Prakenskii sibling's encounter with love, magic and danger.
Anna Dressed in Blood
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765328656 $17.99 www.amazon.com
Cas Lowood is a chip off the old block just like his late dad was a chip off the old block and if he has a kid too, etc. His widow mom the witch supports her teenage son as he does the family vocation ghost hunting.
Cas' latest mission is to kill Anna of the white dress that she wore when she was murdered back in '58, dripping blood and infamy for slicing and dicing those who inanely dare enter her haunt. When Cas enters her house in Thunder Bay, Ontario; Anna is confused that her out of control obsession to kill fails to deploy as it always does. He feels identically the same. As each is afraid of the other, both are more afraid of the loneliness accentuated by their meeting. Others have deadlier opinions on what should happen to the ghost and the hunter.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a great teen horror mystery starring two lonely beings who find a deep affinity with each other. The story line is fast-paced and filled with gore, romance, and a cold case mystery. Kendare Blake provides a strong opening act with this tense paranormal beloved enemies' thriller.
Sergey Dyachenko & Marina Dyachenko, authors
Elinor Huntington, translator
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765329936 $24.99 www.amazon.com
In Kavarren, being a member of the highly adulated elite guard, Lieutenant Egert gets whatever he desires. He wants Toria who is engaged to Dinar, but that lesser male is no impediment to arrogant Egert as he kills his rival in a duel. Observing the atrocity, the Wanderer defiantly "names" Egert as a bully and forces him into a duel. The Wanderer cuts Egert's face leaving him with a painful scar; while his arrogance is drained into cowardice.
Fearful, he deserts his regiment, his family and his friends. Egert reaches the city where grieving Toria lives with her father Luayan the mage university dean. Whereas his daughter loathes Dinar's killer, Luayan provides him shelter. Every time Egert looks at Toria, he feels shame. He needs her forgiveness before he can grant himself the same. Egert soon faces the Servants of Lash; though he prefers flight Toria's visage makes him stay while a plague ravages the city. Finally Egert senses he will face the judgment of the Wanderer but feels that is easier than the judgment of Toria.
The Scar is a terrific allegorical second chance at redemption and life sword and sorcery thriller. Character driven by Egert and Toria, the deep storyline focuses on the pair's lost zest for living following his atrocity. Although the enigmatic Wanderer never quite comes across as to who or what he is (perhaps because this is his second book of a four novel series in which the first entry has not been translated as far as I can tell). Still fans will relish this strong soul saving saga as the prime protagonists must find a way to forgive if they are to save a city under siege.
The Isis Collar
Dottie Simmons a level eight unregistered clairvoyant warns half vampire-half Siren Celia Graves that a bomb has been planted in a school. Civic minded Graves asks Principal Sanchez to dismiss the kids but the school official says no as she sees no threat except for armed Celia. Desperate to save the children especially eight year old Alex with Siren blood, Graves calls her late former BFF Vickie's lover Heather Alexander to get the law enforcement official to evacuate the school that no longer had its magical shields deployed. Heather says she is unable to do so as security guard Jamisyn escorts Graves from the school. When the bell rings ending the day, the magic explodes leaving everyone inside except for Graves functioning in ultra -slow motion.
Graves is unaware she suffered injuries too as she has memory problems and cannot heal her wounds from the explosion. The real intent soon becomes clear when a zombie pandemic spreads from the school's ground zero to the entire country. Graves and the Feds search for an antidote to the plague and hunt the bombers while the heroine's personal relationships are a shamble as her vampire side, her alcoholic mother and the ghost of her sister who died when she was at eight years old make demands on Graves while her boyfriend has vanished.
The fourth Blood Singer romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Song, Siren Song and Demon Song) is a terrific entry as the frustrated heroine struggles with making sense of a chaotic world. The school scenario sets the pace of the strong storyline as Graves cannot persuade Sanchez of the pending peril. Series fans will appreciate this engaging entry, which climaxes nicely while also setting up the next thriller.
The villagers wonder who is this injured man of armor; he fell from the sky in a jar, but is not a Forerunner. He awakens severely injured and tells Vinnevra tending his wounds that he is Chakas of Erde-Tyrene. The elders think he is worthless as even the ants rejected him and most likely a danger as the flying shadows lost him but will come for him; if they harbor him they will end up in the Palace of Pain.
Vinnevra helps Chakas heal. As he recuperates, Lord of Admirals' dormant memories surface in his head. His arrival also ignites Vinnevra's dormant geas. The outsider, his human nurse and her grandfather Gamelpar begin a quest to learn the source of Vinnevra's newly awakened power and to explore the planetary ring of this inverted orb, which means willingly entering the Palace of Pain. This is the current home of the Last Precursor who controls this Halo and manipulates the Forerunners (as the Captive), the humans (as the Primordial) and the Master Builder (as manipulator).
Told as an autobiographical account by a dying Forerunner construct with memories of Chakas the human and those of ancient Lord of Admirals, the second Forerunner Saga (see Halo: Cryptum) is a fascinating final testimony. The story line hooks readers with vivid descriptions of a past that may or may not have happened like the galaxy-wide great Flood over ten millennia ago. Although the wanderers' wandering could have been more concise, Halo fans will enjoy Greg Bear's extremely dark entry similar in tone to that of Bornstellar in Cryptum with the underlying theme of who lives and who died but lives in a realm where humans are the bottom rung on the food chain.
In The Lion's Mouth
The galactic war between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery continues unabated. The ULP Kennel employ top secret Hounds to give them an edge in the hostilities while the CCW Lion's Mouth use Shadow of the Names to strengthen their operations. Hounds and Shadows are enemy undercover operatives.
Thus when Ravn Olafsdottr the Shadow arrives at the stronghold of Bridget ban the Hound, she wonders why she would risk her life as both sides know to shoot first. Ravn explains to her adversary how she captured Bridget's missing former lover Donovan Buigh who the Hound has been searching for. Whereas Bridget understands captivity (see Up Jim River) and knows her daughter Mearana the harpist wants her to reconcile with Donovan, Ravn further says Donovan is in the middle of a potential civil war within the Lion's Mouth.
The third far future outer space CCW-ULP thriller (see The January Dancer) is an entertaining tale uses "archaic" earth references as key elements in the multiple viewpoints. The theme is a civil war, but Michael Flynn keeps it fresh with twists, spins and nonlinear narration. With a nod to the author's Firestar saga, fans will enjoy a trio In The Lion's Mouth with Hounds and Shadows as our guides.
Crucible of Empire
Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451638042 $7.99 www.amazon.com
A few years ago years ago the Jao invaders conquered the Earth (see The Course of Empire). The two species began forging a united kochan clan. Former resistance fighter Gabriel Tully commands Baker Company whose prime mission is to negotiate a peace between his former resistance allies and the Jao. He attends a briefing concerning the NGC 7293 nebula where three Krant vessels investigated strange data; they encountered hostility with the giant arachnid Ekhat species which ended with the enemy destroyed but the Krant ships not in much better shape.
Terra Governor Aille and Preceptor Ronz assign the Lexington to take Jao and humans to the sector where the Ekhat has violently surfaced and a third race was involved in the recent battle. Jao Captain Danner krinnu ava Terra commands the ship; but she is not in charge of the mission. Instead Wrot krinnu ava Terra runs the mission with Caitlin Kralik as the diplomat to deal with the unknown race and Tully and his unit enhanced by the Krant survivors provide military support against the Ekhat. His team destroys four Ekhat ships with a surviving vessel crippled in orbit around a star; only to learn the Lleix who the Jao assaulted in a previous encounter are on board.
As with the first science fiction "Empire" thriller, the sequel focuses on the species with a deep look at the Jao (especially on board the Lexington) and somewhat the Ekhat. The storyline also introduces a fourth sentient race with its own shtick. Although there is some reiterative commentary that slows down the outer space encounters, fans will enjoy traveling on the Lexington as the combined Jao-human crew go into combat and diplomacy.
Jasmine "Jin" Moreau Broom awakens on the ship of Warrior the Troft heading to Qasaman with her injured husband Paul nearby; she knows her leaders consider him a traitor for giving the ISIS system to the adversarial Djinn but she also believes that is the last hope to save humanity. The female Cobra warrior meets up with her son Lorne as Qasaman Djinn delegates Siraj Akim and Carsh Zoshak conduct a combat exercise.
Warrior asks the Troft in Sollas for permission to land; they agree to allow him to put down his vessel near Milika instead. He escorts the Cobra and Djinn delegation along with their ISIS cargo to a secure military station before disembarking from the planet. At the same time Milika Qasaman patrol leader Gama Yithtra assigns Jin's oldest son Merrick the cobra and villager Nalis Kinsta to scout Troft activity. Time is running out for the uneasy Cobra and Qasaman Djinn allies as war with the mutual enemy has led to strange bedfellows.
This Cobra War science fiction thriller (See Cobra Guardian and Cobra Alliance) is a well written entertaining tale that can be divided into two sections. The first half of the storyline focuses on the relationships between the various parties as trust is a rare commodity in spite of a mutual enemy. This political segue is fascinating as Timothy Zahn drills deep into the strange bedfellows generalization as well as make the alien races seem real, but is also somewhat slow as action is limited. The latter half of the novel turns into a fast-paced military sci fi thriller as the war ignites. With the key threads tied up, readers will enjoy Mr. Zahn's exciting Cobra War saga.
Major Whitey Ardmore arrives at the Citadel underground research facility to be met by numerous corpses. The six PTSD survivors claim that the invading PanAsian forces did not cause the mass deaths; instead they work on the Unified Field Theory that led to the lethal Ledbetter effect.
Ardmore takes command knowing he must keep his subordinates busy so they do not think of what the horror they just witnessed within the facility and what is happening outside across the country to their loved ones. The major assigns assistant cook Jeff Thomas to conduct outside surveillance. A former hobo, Thomas makes contact with the local hobo population where he learns and reports on the PanAsian reign of terror that targets civilians and that the American military cannot win. The Citadel Commander knows he must lead a counter insurgency using the enemy's strict rules against them. Thus Ardmore and his team create a new religion of Lord Mota as the invaders allow public gathering for religious purposes. The rebels begin their quest for freedom by building their temple over their research center as the revolt begins.
Sixth Column is an intriguing clash of the cultures thriller, which in some ways feels obsolete but, written during the "Yellow Menace" era (Doc Savage tales), also makes a strong case that racism or any intolerant absolutism is a loser for everyone. The magnificent six is too perfect, but Robert Heinlein's fans will enjoy East meets West in the States.
Voyage Across The Stars
"Cross the Stars." Captain Don Slade retires from the Hammer's Slammers mercenary unit. He heads home to Tethys looking forward to quality time with his family especially the woman he loves and his son. However, the trek to his remote home is through some of the most outlaw planets in the galaxy and his orb is not euphoric about the return of a military hero.
"Voyage." Don's nephew Ned Slade knows his uncle "Mad Dog" deservedly is a legend. Ned does not expect to come close to the mythological heroism of his renowned relative. Trade-ship captain Lissea Doorman hires Ned as part of the crew of the Swift. Her guild masters send her from Telaria to the Lost Colony of Pancathe to retrieve an ancient alien artifact. The trek is dangerous as an adversary want to destroy those on board the Swift.
Voyage Across The Stars contains two entertaining sidebar Hammer's Slammers outer space thrillers. Both are well written and exciting though somewhat similar in tone as each Slade battles a gauntlet of foes though one is at the end of a glorious career and the other is coming of age at the start. With respective nods to the classics Odyssey by Homer and The Voyage of Argo by Apollonius of Rhodes, readers will enjoy the escapades of the uncle and nephew in the Hammer's Slammers galaxy.
History of a Pleasure Seeker
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307599476 $25.95 www.amazon.com
Piet Barol leaned in his recent adolescence that he is a pleasure magnet to most women and many men. He knows his charm comes from his late mom as his dad is a grim university administrator. Thus Piet uses his looks and gracefulness to obtain whatever he desires.
In 1907 in Amsterdam, Piet becomes a tutor to preadolescent mentally ill piano protege Egbert Vermeulen-Sickerts. Heeding the advice of a footman, Piet avoids the daughters of his sexual abstemious employer but the wife is fair game. However, while almost everyone in the household adores Piet, he has one key adversary, Daughter Louisa, who strips away his charming veneer with a look of scorn. However, he begins to understand his student's issues as the martinet father brings the wrath of rigid strictness to his son.
This is an intriguing morality tale starring a fascinating protagonist who is not so much a pleasure seeker but a pleasure giver who wants to do right by his student and help others with their tsuris. The key cast members are fully developed as they anchor time and place, and enable the reader to better understand the title protagonist. Although the ending serves only the purpose of setting up the further adventures of the pleasure seeker in South Africa, fans will enjoy his Dutch escapes as The Netherlands in the Queen Wilhelmina Era come to light.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories
This insightful anthology focuses on living Jewish in a modern fast food world; yet the themes of conflict (modernization and assimilation vs. tradition, anti-Semitism, and grief, etc.) are universal. These excellent eight entries were published previously over the past five or so years but not in one place.
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" stars two married intoxicated women discussing the Holocaust as the secular Jew says the Nazis are the culprit while the orthodox Jew says it is now with assimilation leading to mixed marriages.
"Sister Hills" focuses on a settlement in Samaria over four decades ago in which the heroic Jews build their city, but their rigidity in a changing world leaves everyone in peril.
The students decided an eye for an eye when they confront an anti-Semitic bully in "How We Avenged the Blums," but now feel haunted with what they did.
He indulged in "Peep Show" porn in Times Square, which gave him pleasure until everyone even the strippers became rabbis lecturing him.
"Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother's Side" has a different tone; that of a cherished memoir.
"Camp Sundown" in the Berkshires hosts seniors who believe one of them is a concentration camp guard who deserves swift justice.
The Author would do book tours to lines out into the street; now no one shows up except one elderly "Reader" who demands he read.
"Free Fruit for Young Widows" who pass down from generation to generation tales of surviving the Holocaust, but the survivor is not the same soul that she was when she entered the death camps.
The Fear Index
When the Feds defunded the Texas super collider, Dr. Alex Hoffmann obtains a position as a physicist at CERN in Switzerland. When he suffers a nervous breakdown, he leaves Geneva. Alex takes with him VIXAL-4, an independent computer with the uncanny ability to self-teach at a speed that humans cannot comprehend.
To finance his research and his machine, Alex sets up a hedge fund run by VIXAL. The algorithm VIXAL uses takes the pulse of investors leading to four years of incredible growth while the stock markets around the world collapse. However, as the creator loses control of his creation, someone inside the firm diligently works on making Hoffman look insane to his staff.
This is an enjoyable modernization of Frankenstein with a touch of Harry Kellerman inside of a contemporary convergence of physics, computers and international finance. The storyline is fast-paced with a terrific late twist although none of the cast including VIXAL is likable as all seem morally bankrupt. With a two prong cautionary plot, Robert Harris provides a fascinating timely thriller as science without passion is dangerous while even more lethal is finance void of ethics and scruples when profit is the feral god.
Ferdinand von Schirach, author
Carol Brown Janeway, translator
This is a strong German crime anthology that looks closely at justice especially legal failures as the fifteen excellent short entries focus on the meaning of guilt from several viewpoints. In "Funfair", the band at a six century anniversary gala rapes a teenage girl, but the DNA evidence and subsequently the case is lost. Nina and Thomas called the subway home when they kill an old man who tried to molest her in "DNA". The "Children" bare false witness against the man accused of abuse. The "Lonely" young teenage is raped by a family who left her naive, frightened and pregnant. Whether it is the manslaughter death of a teacher by student bullies in the "Illuminati" or a depressed bored housewife getting a rush of "Desire" by stealing nonentities, Ferdinand von Schirach provides a deep look at what guilt is and its impact on those within a degree or two of the selected guilty party. Readers will reconsider their definitions; as whether a person did the deed or not never matters when it comes to the altered psychological symbiotic partnership relationships as there is powerful cause and effect on the hurt party, the chosen one (guilty or not is irrelevant) and their two circles.
The Wolf Gift
San Francisco Observer reporter twentyish Reuben comes from a privileged heritage filled with a stately mansion. His editor sends him to interview elegant and exotic late thirtyish Marchent Nideck who desperately wants to sell the estate in Mendocino County she inherited from her great Uncle Felix who vanished two decades but only now is declared legally dead. Used to Russian and Nob Hills, he still finds the isolated mansion, four hours from San Francisco and miles even from the village of Nideck, incredibly beautiful, nicer than any home he has ever seen before. Reuben feels an obsession to know the recent tragic history of Nideck Mansion. Though he has a girlfriend Celeste in the city, Reuben and Marchent make love.
When he awakens from a nap, Reuben hears Marchent scream. He races to the noise only to be attacked by two men; one cuts him with a knife and a ferocious dog bites him. As he thinks he is dying, first responders arrive, but the intruders are gone and his hostess is dead. A few weeks later, a still traumatized Reuben begins displaying strange physical and mental changes. He fears what he has become, but seeks similar beasts to mentor him.
This is an entertaining Wolf-man urban fantasy starring a beleaguered protagonist who loses his innocence with the assault. The storyline is fast-paced as the hero changes in a sort of horror coming of age theme. Although longtime fans will see parallels to the good and evil theme of the Vampire Chronicles and the personality metamorphose similar to Jack Nicholson's middle-aged Will Randall in Wolf, readers will appreciate Anne Rice latest horror thriller.
In Bangkok, the brass assigns Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep to end the illegal trafficking in human organs. Sonchai the Buddhist understands that the harvesting and selling of organs is a lucrative cash crop as classic economics 101 includes a very high demand by desperate customers and suppliers, and ruthlessly avaricious sellers.
Sonchai knows his leadership watches his every action as this case will end up with international media scrutiny. To achieve his objective, Sonchai sets up a sting to capture the major commodity sellers. As he travels to the world's most luxurious locales, his effort focuses on the queenpins of the lucrative market: the Vultures Chinese twins. As Sonchai baits his trap, he becomes distracted when he learns his wife former prostitute Chanya is having an affair.
This is a terrific entry in what is consistently a great Thailand police procedural (see The Godfather of Kathmandu, Bangkok 8, Bangkok Haunts and Bangkok Tattoo) is a superb thriller that puts faces on the suppliers, sellers and buyers in a nefarious free capitalist venture. Fast-paced and filled with action, reader will enjoy Sonchai's sting operation and his fall from Buddhist enlightenment due to jealousy and betrayal.
PO Box 190, Harrisburg, VA 22803
9781932676273, $24.99, www.vision-publishers.com
"Simply Organized: A Book To Organize Your Favorite Recipes" is the answer to a thrifty cook's prayer. "Simply Organized" is attractively presented as a large, colored ring binder with organizing category pages for recipe types such as breakfast/brunch, main dish, salads and sides, desserts, breads, specialty dishes, etc. In addition there are a profusion of clear vinyl envelopes to cleverly preserve and encase treasured recipes, whether clipped from periodicals and magazines or collected on cards and scraps of paper. No longer need the heirloom recipe collector worry about the jumble of recipe scraps that she /he has lovingly amassed. "Simply Organized" is the perfect gift to any cook, foodie, or lover of creative cuisine. With Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter coming up, it should be in great demand.
How To Play Fiddle
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
TS263, $14.95, www.santorellapublications.com
"How To Play Fiddle" is a practical self teaching manual for aspiring adolescent to adult fiddle performers. Including easy step by step progressive instructions, helpful diagrams and illustrations, and a vast array of well known fiddle songs, "How To Play Fiddle" can help the beginning fiddle player gain confidence and skill in performance with faithful practice. Instruction includes music basics so that even a nonmusician or non reader can become fluent in reading and performing notation accurately with practice. A helpful CD of featured fiddle tunes is included, with the suggestion that the student obtain the Amazing Slow Downer (ronimusic.com) software to allow the listener to slow down the CD, then increase speed gradually as they learn the song parts. There are tuning instructions, different string orientations and notes and tunes for different strings, plus notated music for 27 songs, including "Cripple Creek," "John Hardy." "Scarborough Fair," "Down in the Valley," and many more. Amusing anecdotal quotations about famous fiddlers embellish the title page, while a black and white photo reproduction of the famous Fiddlin' John Carson (1868-1949) decorates the back page. "How To Play Fiddle" promises pleasant hours of music learning and many more happy hours of making music on the fiddle. Also recommended for aspiring self taught musicians are the following titles by the same author (each book includes a CD, and is, $14.95): "How To Play Banjo (TS262)," "How To Play Autoharp (TS261)," "How To Play Ukulele (TS260)," "How To Play Mandolin (TS257)," and "How To Play Dulcimer (TS256)."
The Ultimate Bass Songbook
7777 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781617806018, $19.99, www.halleonard.com
"The Ultimate Bass Songbook: The Complete Resource For Every Bass Player!" is a fantastic collection of famous songs with bass notations, including numerous examples of bass recorded versions, bass riffs, solo bass, and easy bass melodies. Songs are written in standard notation accompanied by bass notation, and the last page adds a bass notations legend along with additional music definitions. Some examples of songs included are "Let's Go Crazy!," (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," "The Chain," "Summer Nights," "Amazing Grace," "The Godfather (Love Theme)," "The Pink Panther," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Dust in the Wind,""Lean On Me," "Yesterday," and many more. With 70 songs included, "The Ultimate Bass Songbook" is every bass player's best friend and basic resource of samplers of bass glory tunes. Also recommended from the same publisher are the following titles: "Easy Guitar Play Along Rock Classics, Volume 1 (book and CD, 9781458415776, $14.99)," "Hal Leonard Guitar Tab Method Book One (CD included, 9781617742606, $12.99)," and "Hal Leonard Guitar Tab Method Songbook, Book one (CD included, 9781458416407, $12.99)."
Kids' Songs, Level 3A-3B, from FunTine Piano
Faber & Faber, eds.
7777 W. Bluemound Road
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781616776282, $6.50, www.halleonard.com
Faber & Faber's new 3A--3B "Kids' Songs" is a collection of over 10 popular songs arranged for piano/vocal performance by the intermediate musician(s). Including "Be Our Guest," "EdelWeiss," "Yellow Submarine," "Arabian Nights," "Consider Yourself," and many more favorites from plays and shows ans popular performers. "Kids' Songs" contains just the right combination of challenge and fun to appeal to the developing pianist and vocalist. Enough attraction and flair to fuel a young musician's ambition is essential to their continued commitment to the pursuit of the performance and pleasure of music for life. Music teachers everywhere will want to keep several copies of "Kids' Songs" on hand for their studio and students.
Czerny Practical Method for Beginners, Opus 599
Matthew Edwards, editor, recorded performer
c/o Hal Leonard
7777 W. Bluemound Rd,. Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781617742897, $12.99, www.halleonard.com
"Czerny Practical Method for Beginners, Opus 599" (illuminated score and 2 CD's) is a carefully edited collection of over 50 piano technical exercises arranged from the easy to the more demanding levels of proficiency required. The collection is edited and performed on the two enclosed CD's by Matthew Edwards, who also wrote valuable historical, biographical (about Czerny), and performance notes about each exercise included, both performance and practice. It is the editor's intention to present these piano exercises or etudes as both technical proficiency studies and real performance literature for the piano. The "Czerny Practical Method for Beginners, Opus 599" is an excellent, authentic presentation of a classic piano education repertoire. The word "beginner" in the title should not be misunderstood to mean 6 year old first time piano performers' level. Rather, these exercises are appropriate for students who are closer to an intermediate to advanced level corresponding roughly to Faber & Faber's 3A-3B. The Czerny Practical Method for Beginners, Opus 599" is recommended for piano students and teachers libraries as required technique refining literature as well as performance material.
Freedom and Circumstance
9781468135817, $5.99, www.amazon.com
It's not just what we ponder, it's how we ponder. "Freedom and Circumstance: Philosophy in Ortega y Gasset" discusses the works of Ortega y Gasset, a philosopher of the early twentieth century. Oswald Sobrino brings readers original translations of his work. Encouraging an understanding of the nature of philosophy, "Freedom and Circumstance" is a choice pick for community and library collections focusing on international philosophy.
Love Like God
Caroline A. Shearer
Absolute Love Publishing
9780983301714, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Love is what pushes us and gets us through the days. "Love Like God Companion Book" is a companion book for the compilation of essays offering additional insight into the writing and what it can mean for our lives, from author Caroline A. Shearer. A choice pick for the philosophical Christian, "Love like God Companion Book" is not to be missed by fans of that collection of thought.
Searching for Gilead
David G. Hallman
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462046942, $21.95, www.iuniverse.com
Familiarity can breed contempt. "Searching for Gilead" tells the story of the Compton and Fischer families, brought together by love, and slowly find many things to clash about as they discuss their world views in contrast to one another. A story of family that spans the world, "Searching for Gilead" is a thoughtful read with plenty of twists and turns, very much recommended reading.
Foster Me Up
Rhonda Renee Zimmer
9781466216150, $11.95, www.amazon.com
When it looks like no one wants you, it can put a sour gaze into the future. "Foster Me Up" is a memoir from Rhonda Renee Zimmer as she recounts her and her sisters journeys from foster home to foster home, seeing the worst of abuses in their lives. Despite their rough upbringing, they find something worth living for. "Foster Me Up" is a tragic yet inspiring read, much recommended.
The Dancing Masters
9781461118640, $15.99, www.amazon.com
The scars of war heal slowly, as veterans try to return to normal life. "The Dancing Masters" follows Gene 'Tiger' Bishop as he tries to cope with the challenges of civilian life after returning form the war. Chasing a girl that leads him to face what he experienced, "The Dancing Masters" is a unique look at the struggles of veterans and how they can yearn to understand themselves and find some bit of normalcy.
A Glimpse of Heaven
Dr. Glen Hepker
9781463687120, $13.95, www.amazon.com
The path to making the world a better place begins with the self. "A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health" is a spiritual guide from Glen Hepker as he offers a view of the world that encourages pursuing the pursuit of a better world independent of one's own failings, a view that encourages a culture of selflessness. "A Glimpse of Heaven" is a spiritual and inspirational read not to be overlooked.
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818704, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Jen Estes is a real life sports writer and blogger. Her career began in 2007 in the blogger's universe and expanded to freelance sports writing in 2009. BIG LEAGUES is her debut mystery, and one can't help but suspect that the book is autobiographical...at least in terms of her heroine's occupation. Jen enjoys running, yoga, traveling, and watching baseball. She is married and has a cat.
Cat McDaniel is a rookie sportswriter whose number one passion in life is baseball. She is happily ensconced in a job at the minor league level when a telephone call gives her a shot at reporting in the big leagues. She has her goodbye to the Bulldogs party and moves to the desert of Las Vegas to begin work for the fabulously handsome wunderkind owner Erich König, owner of the currently hot Arizona Chips. Something is off from the beginning, as her new sports writing mate is unhappy at being passed over for a promotion to Cat's new job:
"'Dustin Carlyle. Junior reporter." He laced the 'junior' with thick contempt, as though Cat had just carved the word into the rusty blade of a dagger and shoved it between his shoulder blades. His snotty tone triggered memories of their first meeting.
She cleared her throat. 'Y-yeah, I believe we've met before.'
He ignored her. 'If you're wondering why there's no welcome wagon waiting for you, the reason would be because everyone's at Brad Derhoff's wake.'"
So, Cat begins her dream job with a handsome boss, who immediately expresses an interest in her. But what happened to her predecessor? What was the cause of death? We are off to the races, as Ms. Estes paints a knowledgeable picture of the baseball world that she obviously loves. Cat is thrown in the middle of a horrifying scene, and she has to quickly develop her heroine and investigative skills to stop a complex plot that is both wicked and believable. Jen Estes has hit it out of the park with her first mystery!
Be Proud - Talking With Trees
Colleen Doyle Bryant, author
Manuela Soriani, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781467921909, $9.99, www.createspace.com
In this tale we meet a young boy who is sitting under a tree with his game player. Yes, that would be fine, only his Mom has told him he may not play with it right now. Oh No! To his surprise the tree begins to have a conversation with him and soon the young boy is caught up telling the tree what he has done, and the story continues. What a great story it is!
I think most adults have memories concerning a special tree from their childhood. Trees and children just seem to go together, and author, Colleen Doyle Bryant, has surely found the winning number in her book, "Be Proud - Talking With Trees." Using the tree, she has put forth a comfort zone for children, one they are familiar with and she has built upon that a lesson. The lesson is one that most children have faced, will face and do face, being obedient to their parent. The tree shares with the child memories, and opens the door for the little boy to share with him. Soon he tells him what he has done, and the tree nudges him towards making it right.
I enjoyed this book, it was warm and comfortable and had a great lesson. The illustrations are bright, colorful and drawing. I could almost feel the hug of the tree, nice job. I think this is a great book, everything about it is top-notch, and I recommend it.
Evangelism God's Way
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, NJ 47403
9781449718121, $14.95, www.amazon.com
If you know me, or read my reviews you know I am a Minister of the Gospel. I have been in the ministry for over thirty years and definitely know the importance of Evangelism. I am also aware that many Christians do not think it is their duty to walk in this. How wrong they are. From time to time, God uses someone to give us all awake-up call, and I think our author has done just that in her book,"Evangelism God's Way." I have seen many works on this subject, in the form of books and tracts and DVD's, all are helpful but I found this book to be top-notch.
Evangelist Deborah Nembhard Colquhoun, an ordained Evangelist with the Evangelism Association of Canada, has taken the time to write a concise book packed full of useful information. There are 47 Chapters full of helpful hints, guidelines, and information. It isn't just for the Leaders, because we are all called to touch the world. It is for you and for me, those who profess to love the Lord and their fellow man. This book is a God-send.
Inside the pages of this work, you will find help in areas that you may not have thought you needed, but trust me, you should know before you step out, such as: Proper Covering - The Armor of God, and how to apply it, Do's and Don't - Be patient, humble, gentle and be a good listener - Witnessing To Cults - Pray - Remember you are covered by the Blood of Jesus, and many more. You will find each topic will give you knowledge, encouragement and the strength of the Lord. And they are all Bible based. Our author also has a chapter on 'Sample Follow-Up Script and Letters, I was impressed.
In my reading of this entire book, I really do not think our author has left out any aspect of Evangelism that would be needed for the job at hand. I also sensed within her writing a true heart of caring for the lost of this world, a heart cry to the lost souls. Well done. Let me end this review with this statement - After reading this well-written book, no Christian could say they are not called to Evangelize, and none should find themselves wanting in preparation if they read and apply the information within the pages of this outstanding book. Thank you to our author for her obedience to the Lord and her love for mankind. Recommended.
The Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery
Mary Jane Clark
Harper Collins Publishing
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061995569, $25.99, www.amazon.com
Piper Donovan, our main character in this great read by, Mary Jane Clark, is set for another adventure. Piper is asked to make a wedding cake for, Jillian Abernathy. Jillian's family owns the luxury spa, "Elysium," in California. Of course that would mean Piper would have to leave home for a while, but maybe that would be a good thing. After all, Jack and her were having some misunderstandings, and her mom and dad were getting too use to her being around. Yes, Piper would accept.
Of course, where Piper goes murder follows and this is still the case at the swanky Elysium. Not one murder but several take place and Piper is right in the heart of the matter. How could all of this happen in such an exclusive establishment and why? And so the fun begins!
This is the second book I have had the honor to read and review in this series and I love them. I find the character of Piper to be a darling. She is spunky, fun and smart, even though she allows herself to be drawn into things she would be better off not to. This mystery was great because the murders kept happening and I found myself trying to figure out who out of the characters would want to kill all of these people. I loved the way the author brought the spa to life in the story. I enjoyed reading about the local, the beautiful cottages, delicious meals, sitting around the pool, and of course let's not forget the massages. Who would have thought such a thing would happen to woman in a place like, Elysium. Shocking!
This was a great book. It was entertaining, quick paced, great characters, great local, and had a twisting exciting mystery plot. Yet, it was light and airy as well. and down to earth in character development. I felt as if I knew personally every character in the story. Not easy for a book to do all that, but this one did. I love the Piper Donovan Mystery books and look forward to the next one. Well done, excellent read.
Betting On One Percent
Sabrina K Carpenter
Perfect Pen Publishing
1229 S. US Highway One, Vero Beach, Fl 32962
9780982773703, $14.95, www.amazon.com
As I began this read by author, Sabrina K Carpenter I was truly impressed. Since I am still living under the shadow of recently losing a loved one to Cancer, the knowledge that this lady won over my enemy was thrilling to me. Her poem, Enough is Enough, brought tears to my eyes. I understand, understand what was being said and what was not. The poem for her sons, freely expressing her deep love was quite moving. Truly all children are a miracle, but to this woman, they are almost her reward, as they were never to be, but truly are. This talented young woman has beat the odds in life and is forging forward, unstoppable to a bright and promising future. Her nickname, "One Percenter," definitely fits and is one she should wear proudly. Her poems are full of zest, her compassion, the essence of her life. They are more than from her soul, they are from her Spirit, where life begins.
Ann's Amazing Adventure
Jeanetta Brancaccio, Illustrated by: Sara Petrous
Bldg 1 1301, State Route 36, Suite 101
Hazlet, NJ 07730
9780692006979, $15.95, www.amazon.com
In this delightful tale, we meet an adorable doll named, Ann. Ann is a happy little doll who belong to a lovely girl named, Nancy. In the beginning of the story, Ann tells us about her family and how wonderful they are to her. They are on an adventure as the family is moving. During one of their stops, Ann falls out of the backseat of the car, unnoticed by the family. She is alone and afraid, but she tries to keep a positive attitude. Suddenly another car stops and a little dog jumps out. He runs right over to Ann and picks her up and carries her back to his car, where another little girl is. The little girl wants the doll and after some talk she is allowed to keep it. Now Ann is on another adventure with a new family. Does she find happiness there and what wonderful ending does this story have?
I liked this story. I think all of us at times have thought about the dolls we use to have and wondered what ever happened to them. I know as a child my dolls were just like live people. I would talk to them and dress them up and they were my friends. Just like Ann was to Nancy. I also think we have all wondered if our toys felt sad when we no longer played with them, even though as adults we quickly dismissed the thought, but yet! This little tale addresses these feelings. However, I think what I loved most about it was the ending. It is an ending that brings warmth to your heart and makes you smile. The illustrations are great, colorful and definitely help to bring the story to life. All in all a very nice book with a top-notch ending. Recommended.
Oh Yuck: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty
225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014
9780761197712, $14.95, www.amazon.com
I bought this book for my granddaughter because despite its title I knew it had to be packed full of great information, and it was. It's a big bold book that will have you amazed at the information in it. So, what does a book about everything 'Yuck' have to offer. Let me wet your appetite and give you some of the titles. these are just a few.
We have: Acne, Bacteria, Blood, Body Lint, and Body Odor. Continuing, We have: Earwax, Eye Gunk, Farts and Foul Feet. Can you bear more? Okay here goes, how about, Poop, Pee, and Pus. Still want more, hold on, we have - Scabs, Shrunken Heads, and Vomit, and many more.
Now you might be saying, why would I want my child or myself to read this stuff. Let me tell you it is well worth your time. These wise authors have packed this book with scientific information on these topics that will educate your child and give them a giggle. I was amazed at what I learned about the eye, ear and scabs. They even give you tips if you do have a problem, say with foul feet, to help make them sweet, and there is more. Let me ask you this, did you know cheese is made partly with a cows third stomach? Gross but true.
There are recipes to make some really different foods and experiments that your kids will love to do, and share with others.
Simply put, you have to get this book. It is great. We have read it over and over again and keep seeing more information we didn't see the last time. It's also fun to share what you have learned and hear someone say, really, I didn't know that? Very highly recommended, top notch book.
7 Scorpions Revolution
9780615549538, $18.50, www.7scorpions.com
With humanity on its last stand, there's one shot for victory. "7 Scorpions Revolution" is a science fiction thriller, exploring the villain Zodiac, who is on his last lap to destroy humanity. A follow up to Mike Saxton's previous science fiction offering in the series, this chapter is sure to please fans of previous volumes in the series. "7 Scorpions Revolution" is strongly recommended for those who like gritty thrillers that should prove very hard to put down.
9781460975169, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Humans have come far in our world, and we need to keep going to face our future. "Seven Creations: Agriculture to God" discusses the future of mankind and our control of our future. Gene Wunderlich comes to readers with optimism for mankind's future, but reinforces his views that we have come to our success due to ingenuity, and to answer a growing population, only our creativity can save us. "Seven Creations: Agriculture to God" is an enticing read with a strong message, very much recommended.
From Humble Beginnings
Philip Guy Rochford
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432779634, $17.95, www.outskirtspress.com
From nothing and making something are the truly inspirational tales of human triumph. "From Humble Beginnings: The Phenomenal, Inspirational Life Story of Dr. Anthony Norman Sabga" tells a story of success, following Anthony Norman Sabga as he followed his family from Syria to Trinidad and Tobago. Philip Guy Rochford uses his biography as a guide to tenacity for anyone else in making their own place in the world of business. "From Humble Beginnings" is an uplifting and much recommended pick for business biography collections.
The Disappearance of Olivia
Nancy E. Ryan
9781463794125, $19.95, www.amazon.com
The rites of succession lead to political minefields. "The Disappearance of Olivia" delves into a hypothetical story, as Nancy Ryan creates a story looking into a daughter of Diana and Charles born a year before Prince William, and offering a fascinating spin of cover up and intrigue, an a fictionalized version of the modern British monarchy. "The Disappearance of Olivia" is a fine pick for those who love tales of secrecy and intrigue.
9781468082562, $6.99, www.amazon.com
Happiness isn't much to a dog, but sometimes that's too much to ask for. "Welcome Home" tells the journey of a black labrador retriever who had a hard journey being pulled away from his mother, abused by a new owner, only to find what he was looking for down the line. "Welcome Home" is a charming story of what a dog wants out of life, worth considering.
The Journey to Sales Transformation
Bob Nicols Jr.
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781466388550, $19.99, www.amazon.com
A customer shouldn't be treated as simply a statistic. "The Journey to Sales Transformation: 25 Axioms for becoming a Trusted Partner to your Customers" is a spiritual business book as Bob Nicols Jr. encourages readers on how to better connect with their customers using his idea of axioms to understand the customer's wants and needs. "The Journey to Sales Transformation" is a strong pick for general business collections.
9780615552484, $17.95, www.amazon.com
A necessary job, a dangerous job. "Fire Crew: Stories from the Fireline" recounts real stories from those fighting wildland fires, stories of danger, stories of reality, and stories of friendship. Ben Walters hopes to offer a genuine tale of life as a firefighter on this dangerous front, how the excitement can make one yearn for the simple things in life. "Fire Crew" is a fine pick for anyone with a romantic view of the firefighters of the world.
N. E. Walker
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781467982764, $14.95, www.createspace.com
Life's cruelty grants us opportunity, but in ways we don't want it. "Double Visions" is a double pack of novels from N. E. Walker. Purgatory tells of a man who had it all, but was sent to a coma...but he can still hear hose around him, in a strange sort of consciousness without consciousness. Nexus follows the seeking of revenge from Joe Nichols who believes his ideas were stolen by Benton Sterling who made millions off of it. "Double Visions" explores the psychology of what drives through life, a very much recommended read.
Love Under Cover
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781613463178, $14.99, www.tatepublishing.com
Love sometimes can prove terribly inconvenient. "Love Under Cover" follows Nicholas Watson as he tries to manage his life as an undercover anti-terror agent. When he finds love with another agent, he struggles with the pressure of something condemned by the agency, forcing them to keep secrets upon secrets to have what they truly want. "Love Under Cover" is a blend of suspense and romance, very much recommended reading.
Two Kinds of Color
9781449988012, $21.99, www.amazon.com
A family shattered, a child will try to find the truth years later. "Two Kinds of Color" tells of four children who had their mother torn away from them by one fateful conflict. Years later, they try to find the truth behind a murder that shattered their lives, and where they came from when their lives were changed forever. A riveting story of family history and what to look back on, "Two Kinds of Color" is a strongly recommended read.
Spirit, Time, and the Future
Peter & E. Lanzillotta
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432764852, $15.95, www.outskirtspress.com
As we look to the future we must look into ourselves. "Spirit, Time, and the Future: An Inclusive Transpersonal and Theological Inquiry Into The Spirit For Our Times" is a metaphysical spirituality book from Peter E. Lanzillotta as he presents a thoughtful exploration of spirituality and our own selves as we enter the age of spirit in 2012. Drawing on Christian and psychological ideas, "Spirit, Time, and the Future" is a fascinating and much recommended pick for followers of metaphysical studies and new age spirituality.
Paul T. Vogel
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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