Friday, December 24, 2010

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady. A Hellions of Halstead Hall Series #3. Pocket Star Books. February 2011. 384 pp. ISBN #: 19781439167557. $7.99

Minerva Sharpe is a Gothic novel writer. Anyone who is respectable doesn't read her series published in "The Ladies' Magazine," at least that's what they say. Yet Giles Master has been following each addition as it seems he's the rapscallion star of her stories, under a pseudonym that is.

When Minerva is in danger of losing her inheritance, she posts an ad for an eligible gentleman to marry. Giles realizes he must appear for an interview as a prospective bridegroom because her stories are getting far too close to the truth about his secret activities that could destroy some very high-positioned people in the British government.

What follows is a funny, passionate, and intriguing journey in which Minerva's grandmother agrees to Giles's engagement to Minerva. A whole new world opens to the couple as Minerva sees her fiance in action at a murder trial and he begins to investigate the mysterious death of her parents. Even better, their occasional romantic kisses fuel the passion both feel but refuse to acknowledge.

Giles, however, is a very smart pursuer as well as a more than capable barrister. How he wins Minerva's heart over her previous antagonism is a glorious romp full of mystery and romance that will delight every reader. Yes, even villains can make their victims scream...

Terrific story, Sabrina Jeffries

Most Valuable Victim: A Gloria Trevisi Mystery by A. R. Grobbo

Most Valuable Victim: A Gloria Trevisi Mystery. A. R. Grobbo. Double Dragon Publishing. October 2010. 285 pp. ISBN #: 9781554047796 pb.; 155404779X - e-book.

Gloria Trevisi is nearing the end of her pregnancy and plans on temporarily retiring from her reporter job. Stuck in the ladies' room at the Peewee Hockey Tournament, Gloria realizes chaos is breaking out as the arena's ceiling begins to collapse. Thinking the lady in the next booth can help her, Gloria calls out but gets no response. After working her own way out, she tentatively opens the next door and finds a female dead body and barely makes it out of the arena herself.

Work is difficult, to say the least, with a domineering editor and some unwilling criminal investigators who constantly veer between wanting Gloria's advice and reluctance to tell her what they know. Her home life is no better, with her mother-in-law in residence because of financial problems and Gloria's husband seems more interested in going away for his musical career than being present at the birth of his child.

A missing body on the trails, some very questionable behavior at another place where a fire occurs and a roof collapses, and other mysterious clues these begin to show definite connection.

Gloria as always will figure it out but takes the reader on some outrageous, dangerous, and intrigue-filled pages before all the major and minor conflicts are sorted out.

A. R. Grobbo's latest novel is a tautly plotted story that never loses the reader's fascination. She is expert at eliciting relevant facts in the most subtle manner and her easygoing, professional, and caring style make her the very skilled writer and investigator readers love.

Great story, A. R. Grobbo!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Canterbury Crime - A Belinda Lawrence Mystery by Brian Kavanagh

A Canterbury Crime: A Belinda Lawrence Mystery by Brian Kavanagh. 2010. Bewrite Books. 150 pp. ISBN No. 9781906609450.

Professor de Gray has suddenly died, and Belinda Lawrence and Hazel Whitby, knowledgeable ladies in the world of antiques, have arrived in the ancient, well-renowned town of Canterbury, to catalogue the furniture and objects in the Professor's home. Once they settle in, they are put off by the cold, unwelcoming attitude of Miss Mowbray and the weird, silent presence of Mrs. Jones. That initial reaction, while initially offsetting, becomes downright frightening when they learn that the Professor and his wife died suddenly under highly suspicious conditions.

It's right about the time Belinda and Hazel decide to investigating in addition to their cataloguing job when Miss Mowbray fails to return from a brief trip and a mysterious caller says she won't be back for a while. The case becomes even more complex when a rather flip character, Tom Bedford, enters the picture and claims he has the right to lurk through all of the late Professor's computer and paper records.

The Professor, it turns out had written a book in which the last chapter was supposed to be a historical blockbuster that would guarantee it's widespread sale and fame for the Professor. Everyone is looking for that final chapter and some shady characters are vying for opportunity to publish, hoping to connect to a new connection to Canterbury that will change history.

Add to the complexity of this mystery with a new twist on every page the fact that Belinda is being forced to decide between someone in England and someone else in Australia who would both love her hand in marriage. Mark, however, is the English beau who will prove himself in a life-threatening scene within these pages and offer her a new view of spending life with him in wedded bliss.

Brian Kavanagh is a very talented writer who has written an even more tautly plotted tale than his last crime mystery. The story is totally unpredictable and never loses the reader's rapt attention. Brenda and Hazel are witty, irksome, sharp, and pleasure-loving characters who are the perfect detectives barely managing to elude disaster by the most dire, unsavory criminals imaginable!

A best seller, for sure!

Barney and The Runaway by Max Elliot Anderson

Barney and The Runaway by Max Elliot Anderson. Comfort Publishing. 2011. ISBN No. 9780984559848.

Michael W. Ellis has a new ideal to live by, the Declaration of Independence. He's tired of doing what everyone else wants, and so he decides to run away. It seems like an adventure at first when he and his dog, Barney, wind up on a railroad car and then with a traveling circus. Big Bob takes to Mike and wants to make Barney part of the circus, since he has a very special talent that could draw crowds and make money.

The plot thickens, however, when some evil characters have other plans for Barney. When the threat grows, Mike thinks of all the times "if that hadn't happened" that have added up to one big mess. Big Bob, however, comes to the rescue but also tells Mike a story that changes everything. The bottom line is that plans go crazy and one must realize the consequences might not turn out for the best after all is said and done.

Barney and The Runaway is a great adventure story that is unpredictable and fascinating on every page. It's a great addition to the already terrific novels written by this very talented YA fiction author!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

When No One is Watching by Joseph Hayes

When No One is Watching by Joseph Hayes. Synergy Books. October 2010. 320 pages. ISBN No. 9780984387943.

This is the story of an all-too often true accident that devastates the lives of everyone involved for far too long. Celebrating their legal victory in a lawsuit for a big business company in Chicago, they drink their way far into the night. Only Danny Moran has been having trouble with his drinking for a while, awakening many a morning with no memory of the previous evening. On this night, his best buddy Blair Van Howe, after announcing he is leaving the legal work to campaign for a Congressional seat, hauls Dan into his Porsche. Blair is thrilled to be driving this magnificent machine of power and prestige. Deciding to give it one more burst of energetic speed, he starts to tear around a corner and fails to see an oncoming car which veers to avoid him and winds up crashing into a tree. Blair sees the very injured man and a little girl in the back seat hugging a toy. Realizing this could mean the end of a career of a lifetime, he makes some changes which will put the blame on Dan and leaves.

The results are obviously devastating as the man soon dies and Dan is torn with self-hatred and guilt. Blair meanwhile protects himself as only a campaigner controlled by his capable father-in-law could do and proceeds to a successful political career. Seduced by his own success, he quickly leaves behind his guilt, that is until a very savvy detective who was shunted out of his career when the accident happened decides to take action before Blair can climb politically higher to the ultimate government job, that of President!

Can there be a redemptive end for anyone within such a tragic and horrifying account? In a sense, all the wrong people grow from this event and all the right people lose in the end. Justice is shown in all of its skewed faces, leaving a dramatic effect on the reader as well as characters.

Joseph Hayes has written what would be a tremendous thriller were it not for the all-too familiar scenario within its pages. These are pages for all to read and ponder. This is what drinking and driving do.

A very important and well-written novel, Joseph Hayes!

Buy it and never forget it, readers!

To Desire a Wicked Duke by Nicole Jordan

To Desire a Wicked Duke. Nicole Jordan. Random House Publishing. February 2011. 384 pages. ISBN No. 9780345510099.

In this final Book 6 of The Courtship Wars series, Tess Blanchard is initially caught giving a passionate kiss to the man, Patrick Hennessy, who is, unknown to Tess, supposed to guarding her. It's not a serious kiss at all but it appears as such to a suddenly appearing and angry Duke of Rotham, Ian Sutherland. As usual the Duke is arrogant, pompous and insulting as he questions and threatens Tess over this seemingly innocent act, and she responds accordingly. Having been engaged to a man who died in war, she is ripe for scandal to which the Duke for some reason is determined she will not know.

Later, her godmother, Lady Wingate orders Tess to marry the Duke and says she will withdraw all her monetary support if Tess refuses. So Tess proceeds to obey but intends this to be a marriage in name only, for she is truly a match to the man who does little to indicate other than scorn.

However, things begin to very slowly change as Ian shows he is capable of protecting her and even instructing her in the amatory arts. Finally, after Tess discovers some horrific things about the Duke's past, she escapes to Cornwall where there is a hint of a ghostly presence, one that enters her room on her very first night there.

After Ian follows her to Cornwall, the passion between them grows and some very dark, startling secrets are revealed involving someone very close to both of them.

Nicole Jordan's most recent romantic novel is a delight for all of her fans as well as new readers. There are plenty of surprises that keep the reader turning the pages with riveting attention and the romance is hot, hot, hot!!!

Great story, Nicole Jordan!

Rich and Lost in Prosperia: A Tropical Tale of Market Economics by Doramas Jorge-Calderon

Rich and Lost in Prosperia: A Tropical Tale of Market Economics. Mill City Press, Inc. April 2010. 296 pp. ISBN No. 9781936107728.

This most unusual novel begins with two men, Richy and Losto, who decide to begin a small business in handcrafts and music respectively. They know absolutely nothing about business and are initially only interested in making enough money to have an easy life. But as their inquiry and start-up businesses begin growing, they are about to discover that many elements contribute to economic success and that that flows over to affect numerous individuals who either produce or purchase products.

So begins this economic novel, which explains the complex world of business in a readable, clear manner. As the chapters progress, Richy learn that value comes from scarcity rather than having a surplus of products, that value comes from the worth of a product which transfers to all who contribute to its production, that producers will make what brings the highest profit rather than what sells the most in quantity, that trust is absolutely necessary and cannot be guaranteed without some type of controls, and so much more.

Yes, one must even plan on those who would cheat, those who would monopolize as well as who is legally able to do that and who is not and how that is achieved, those who seek and make subsidies for certain products that actually drive up the price for said products, and on and on and on.

For those entrepreneurs who are interested in starting up a new business or even those who are in business and finding they need to learn more in order to be successful, this is the book for you. It actually would be a great idea for all consumers to buy this book so as to understand the forces of economy that push the cycle of production, sales, profit, value, scarcity, and so many other economic factors usually taken for granted by the average non-business oriented consumer. All in all, this is market economics for everyman!

Very nicely done, Doramas Jorge-Calderon!

Blood of My Brother by James LePore

Blood of My Brother by James LePore. Published by The Story Plant, 2010, 352 pages; ISBN No. 9780981956886.

Jay Cassio and Dan Del Colliano have been best friends since childhood, years consisting of having to be tougher than the brutal neighbors surrounding them in their Newark, New Jersey home. After Jay's parents die in a plane crash, it is Danny who inspires him to rise above despair and enjoy life as it is. Jay immerses himself in law and Danny becomes a private investigator. Danny, however, is always living on the edge, constantly just staying afloat of huge debt and wheeling and dealing with unsavory characters that put him in the path of threats to his life and well-being.

Then Jay represents a woman in a divorce case who is found beheaded and her husband is killed as well. It's a pretty high profile case and all of a sudden Jay is supposed to stay out of it because the FBI is handling the investigation. Jay, however, is at first curious why this is important to the government and then determined to get to the root of it all when Danny is found murdered in Florida.

Isabel Perez is an orphan who is suddenly adopted by an "Uncle" who immediately turns her world into one where every order, including those involving satisfying other men's sexual needs, must be obeyed. After years of assisting in money laundering for drug dealers and others involved in financial schemes, Isabel is beginning to realize her own value and asking herself questions about such a dire future. Only with a sudden liaison and its consequent deaths does she realize that she is next for the elimination list, not so much for betrayal as simply for knowing too much.

Meanwhile, anyone connected to the murders is winding up either dead or proclaiming absolute silence, but that doesn't stop Danny from going to Florida and getting closer and closer to not only the top man behind the crimes but also an even larger criminal and political element.

Isabel's discovery of her real father's identity comes after her electric collision with Danny. The ending is more than a surprise about revenge and how even the worst of possible circumstances can have a somewhat satisfactory ending.

Blood of My Brothers is a fast-paced thriller with twists and turns that defy reason. James LePore has again written a novel of suspense showing his maturing style is in even better form. A best seller for sure for those who love thrillers and a good mystery!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox by Tim Ostermeyer

Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox by Tim Ostermeyer. Synergy Books. November 2010. ISBN No. 9780984504008. 45 pp. YA Fiction.

Timothy Ostermeyer calls himself a Master Photographer, and every photo in this book proves he deserves every letter of that title. Beginning with pictures of two red foxes at two weeks old and continuing with all the animals they meet, the pictures add to the fascinating adventures these animals experience. One must add these pictures are so children-friendly that parents won't have to worry about nightmares or fearful thoughts following a child's reading of this terrific story.

Rusty and Ginger get bigger and with their parents not far behind them begin to explore the world of the forest and woods, meeting wildlife that are both dangerous, friendly, and in between. As they meet seven different animals, the author presents fascinating facts first about the foxes such as their length, height, how far they can run, what they weigh, where they live, their various colors and habits, what they eat and how much they can eat in one day.

The young reader then learns about similar qualities of other wildlife animals, such as deer, wolves, bears, bobcats, and more, until they finally meet two little girls seeking a treasure.

Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox is a delightful book that parents will want to buy and read to their children as well as give to older young adult readers. This reviewer guarantees that even the parents will be looking through this story more than once and be glad to share about it with more readers. A great gift for all ages! This is a superb, artistic, educational and beautiful book!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Walden Pond Press: A Division of Harper Collins. January 2010. YA Fiction. 313 pp. hardcover, ISBN #: 9780061836831.

Liam Digby is not your average 12 year old; he looks like an adult and is taller than any of his peers. His Dad tries really hard to understand him but Liam remains an enigma, a young guy who eats, sleeps, and drinks online video gaming programs, one in particular which even he is unaware is training him for something profoundly BIG!

Liam pretends to be his Dad and applies for an unbelievable opportunity, a contest for greatest Dads which will be an amazing adventure. As Liam's a daredevil of a sort, he figures he can handle this adult posing. Having dared to ride multiple times in a G-gravity roller coaster and experimented somewhat with his father's Porsche, what's next?

Much to his surprise, Liam wins the prize and takes, as his daughter, a friend, Florida. Here begins a bigger contest in which one adult from the other three winners will get to go to outer space with all the children. But these are not ordinary children by any means and Liam's "Dad" skills are hilariously not exactly up to par at first!

Cosmic is a tale about the wisdom of fathers and a higher purpose behind all those addictive video games that just might really save a bunch of very exclusive lives. It's not soppy, and it's downright funny in so many places. This is a very cool story that will please not only young adult but also adult readers. Behind the fun and adventure are some solid, scientific, intelligent facts presented in a fascinating way.

Very nicely done, Frank Cottrell Boyce!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Journey Home by Michael Baron

The Journey Home. Michael Baron. The Story Plant. 2010. ISBN: 9780981956862.

The Journey Home relates the strangeness and wonder of connection. It all begins with Joseph waking up in a strange home, surrounded by a family who accept his fragile condition and soothe him with warm meals and a place to stay overnight. For Joseph is unable to remember where he came from or where he was going before he was found passed out on the sidewalk outside of the family who found him. When he leaves that place of shelter, he meets Will, a young man who knows he has a goal to reach but seems quite unsure of precisely what it is or how to tackle the journey there. He begins to find purpose in attempting Joseph in his quest for home and identity. The closest they come is through the sense Joseph has of a woman whom he loves and whose presence enlivens the very essence of his life’s meaning.

Antoinette is living in an assisted living facility which she finds strange, and so she retreats into her room, living in the memories of the beautiful love she shared with her late husband, Don. Her son, Warren, going through a divorce and presently unemployed, is lost and frustrated by his mother’s slipping more deeply into another world. He slowly begins to recreate a new relationship with her by cooking her favorite meals and watching her joy as she comes alive with each meal he so tenderly prepares. The descriptions of these meals will make the reader want to run out to buy ingredients to try the same culinary delights, but we also sense that it is the love that goes into the preparation turns them into exquisitely appreciated delights. His conversation with Jan, a nurse at the facility where Antoinette lives, puts some delicate humor and meaning into the present moment and offers the possibility of hope for the future to both of them.

What fuels our passions and what is the heart of true relationships? The Journey Home is a story about three very different characters. In truly listening to each other and learning what feeds the heart, mind, and soul, all these characters learn true love and relish the journey to the center and peripheries of that precious world that is ever new and ever alive in a unique, memorable cycle! Lovely novel!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Self, New World: Recovering Our Senses in the Twenty-First Century by Philip Shepherd

New Self, New World: Recovering Our Senses in the Twenty-First Century. Philip Shepherd. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California. August 2010. 512 pp. ISBN #: 9781556439117

Imagine for a moment living in a completely “balanced” world where mind, heart, and body are synchronized and no dominance is present to distort life as we know it. The premise of New Self, New World moves even beyond that idea, laying out the possibility that life as we know it will take on an even greater experience, a fifth dimension as it is explained.

Philip Shepherd takes the reader through mythology, various ideas about consciousness, what occurs when we place too much focus on the mind without consciousness, of just what encompasses an idea, of a lack of connection to the core of our heart and “pelvic” intelligence, several suggestions to reacquire our innate sensitivity that is meant to operate in balance with thinking and other parts of our existence, such as through the process of restoring consciousness of the body to awaken that pelvic intelligence.

It also challenges previous understandings of male and female activity and passivity, a misunderstanding of true logic, the importance of perspective (also redefined) on experience, and the power behind “being present” in the moment within this new type of balanced living.

Exercises are provided for the body, mind and being to begin this process. This is not a light-weight book and scientific, literary, mythological explanations galore fill these pages. This reader would have liked to see more examples of how this new self and new world operate; in spite of its premise, the book is quite heavy on a logical, “head” presentation. Still, for those seeking wholeness of living, this is a new presentation of old and new ideas that offer a map leading to an altogether different way of living, one that seems to this reviewer to be healthier, happier, and more productive than what most find in day-to-day living. Fascinating!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Falling Home by Karen White

Falling Home. by Karen White. November 2010. NAL Accent Trade/New American Library/Penguin. 352 pp. ISBN #: 9780451231444.

Cassie has escaped a small town in Georgia she found absolutely stifling and has joined the world of a successful career and boyfriend in dynamic New York. But one phone call changes it all. Her father is dying and he wants to see her. Worst yet, she gets the message from her sister, who married the man Cassie once loved; and now they tell her she is needed. How can she return home and bear the pain of betrayed love and how will she respond to the town busybodies who feel they have the right to know the family’s entire story?

But Cassie’s life is about to be turned upside down. For as many gossips and busybodies she meets, she is surprised that an old friend, Sam, the town doctor, a man she didn’t even recognize as an old high school peer, takes an interest in her present circumstances. He’s not about to be insulted or literally take her rebuffs as she repeatedly reminds him and everyone else that she’s only back for a visit and her real life lies elsewhere.

Wounds hide the love we all hold deep down for a place called “Home,” a place with precious memories, a place that forms the fabric of who we become and will always be. What will the future hold for Cassie once those veneers of defensiveness and pain dissolve with a lot of patience and dedicated attempts to break down the walls of escape?

Falling Home is even better than On Folly Beach, the author's most recent novel, and that’s saying a lot!!! Get ready to curl up with this terrific novel and enjoy an unpredictable, engaging, and revealing story! Wonderful!

The Fun of Dying: Find Out What Really Happens Next! by Roberta Grimes

The Fun of Dying: Find Out What Really Happens Next by Roberta Grimes. 2010. Greater Reality Publications. Pb. 149 pp. ISBN #: 9780980211115.

The title of this book is bound to grab many readers. After all, who doesn’t wonder whether there is an afterlife; and if so, what is there, what is it like, etc., etc. Roberta Grimes has combed all the research out there to attempt to provide answers to every human being concerned with the life beyond the one in which we now live. Some of what she offers is common knowledge and other ideas are quite astounding!

The evidence covers science, religion, and other psychological phenomena that the author clearly indicates need not be opposed to each other but which actually consists of a continuum of experience that is impossible to contradict. It involves experience coupled with cutting edge knowledge, such as quantum physics, that is actually comforting, albeit challenging to those with rigid, dogmatic notions of the afterlife. Suspend disbelief while you read this book and take in the plethora of possibilities, such as the reality of energy that is not measurable as matter or time.

A considerable amount of space is given to the healing one needs after the death of the earthly body and how precise that is to each individual who passes over to the afterlife. Possible learning lessons, reincarnations, cravings satisfied, the necessity of forgiveness, the sense of awareness now being a part of our eventual passing, the role of religion in our passing and afterlife, and so much more fill these pages in a concise, clear and intriguing manner that keeps one’s interest through every single page. An appendix includes the author’s sources which the reader may seek to explore for greater detail about this common but unknown world – a process that is meant to be joyful and as normal as our current living.

The Fun of Dying… is a comprehensive, fearless guide to a world all will one day enter, as well as one which offers so much comfort, healing, and grace concerning our thoughts and feelings for those who have gone before us. Engaging and a complete account of what may become one’s own future!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lost Island Smugglers by Max Elliot Anderson

Lost Island Smugglers. Max Elliot Anderson. SharksFinn: A Port Yonder Press Imprint. 2010. 263 pp. ISBN #: 9781935600022.

Sam Cooper is moving again because his Dad’s work as a research biologist takes the family to new exciting places, this time to the Florida Everglades. But the hard part is making friends and having to leave them, although Sam has no problem with that part of the move. If anything, his friends have a harder time because Sam’s a fun and reliable guy; he’s used to leaving but they’re not used to losing friends. On arrival to his new home, he quickly makes friends with a very funny “doughnuts” story.

Next thing that happens very quickly is that Sam is invited to learn scuba diving for free as his friend’s father owns a marina and rents boats and equipment. Sam, Tony, and Tyler quickly master this sport which they all love. Pretty soon they are ready to go beyond the training area, but they are about to explore where it’s dangerous to go!

Sam is having plenty of scary dreams about diving, especially now they are going out for their first solo dive, a fact that Sam has neglected to tell his parents. Off they go on a catamaran, which is a totally new experience for Sam, riding along with the motor to propel them instead of the wind and using sails to course through the water. An unexpected storm is about to turn their plans haywire, and they wind up on Lost Island, unable to leave and unprepared with no food or shelter. That’s nothing compared to what they soon see on the island, some mysteriously-dressed men who don’t look very friendly and who are taking extra care to hide a secret.

Lost Island Smugglers grips the reader’s interest and continues to hold it until the very last page. Max Elliot Anderson describes the boys’ adventures so realistically that the reader feels like he or she is right there participating. This novel, which is part of the “Sam Cooper Adventure” series is a terrific addition to the exciting books Anderson continues to write for young adults! Very nicely done, Mr. Anderson!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

River Rising by T. P. Jones

River Rising. T. P. Jones. Synergy Books. September 2010. 392 pp. ISBN #: 9780984235889.

Off the record, Walter tells Chuck, “I think the Corps of Engineers has got it wrong. I think what we’re likely to have here is the worst flood in the history of the white man on the Upper Mississippi.” Jackson, Iowa is a place in physical and financial crisis!

It rains and storms frequently and severely here, and the levee and flood wall system aren’t up to par with the needs of another flooding system.

But several items are definitely awry, as it seems some water in the town’s water plant which no one seems able to solve. The town project of building a dog track that could save the town’s economy is failing because of union and management conflicts and bad relationships between black and white construction workers. Politics prevail, as usual, and the ever looming media search, dig, and probe despite being treated like the town pariahs they are. They’ve picked up on the story that the flood wall just can’t handle another big one. Instead of seeking a solution, the blame game continues, lawyers shadow for coaching all company and city responses, and now the story of the prediction of a devastating flood is hitting the national media beyond local interests. That means a bevy of unanswerable questions and blame-gaming enough for everyone involved. There’s even an aside to the plot about a priest being transferred to another parish because he’s been too successful, while in reality his faith and the system under which he works are spiraling downwards faster than the anticipated flood.

By the time everyone stops arguing and agrees that emergency flood services are to be top priority, it seems it might just be too late! While at times the debating and nasty comments being flung to and fro loom large and last far too long, the shoe falls with a fuel explosion in the river and the dreaded storm arrives, everything turns to flood fight mode.

River Rising is an all too true tale, as we know from similar stories throughout the United States. It’s a cautionary piece of fiction, with realistic depictions that highlight the need to address beforehand the conflicts, lies, exaggerations, understatements, predictions, and underhanded business practices. The rebels are the true heroes herein! Read it before it happens to you!

A Hellion In Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

A Hellion in Her Bed. Sabrina Jeffries. Pocket Star Books. September 2010. 384 pp. ISBN #: 9781439167540.

Lord Jarret Sharpe carries a literally grievous burden, his parents’ untimely, horrific deaths. He craves security and wants only to run the family brewery business. But his grandmother has sent him away to be educated, to grow up and not be a baby. But this Lord has an uncanny gift in winning at the card tables of school and later elsewhere. For nineteen years, this penchant has served him well, earning him respect up to now.

For it seems Granny has set her mind on marrying him to the “right” girl, and his desperation is now beginning to show at the game tables. Everyone knows that desperate men are losing gamblers! He finally gets her to agree to let him run the family brewery business without interference and rescinds her demand to control who he marries. So it seems he has gotten what he wanted, right? Ah, what was that gleam in Granny’s eyes all about as she assented to his terms for full control of his own life.

Annabelle Lake is not at all what Jarret thinks a woman should be – or could be! Entranced by her presence and totally disarmed by her wit, he begins the role of getting the upper hand – and more – which completely undoes the two of them. Attempting to restore some reason into their relationship, Annabelle poses a bet, after realizing that her own family brewery is in very deep trouble. Mismanagement and a secret have led to her to this daring challenge, one albeit with hotly imagined success, that proves to be initially unpleasant for Jarret.

But Jarret is not only sharp at cards and business but also at knowing when a change of cards and strategy is absolutely necessary. The process might not be that easy and Jarret has some dark family secret of his own to learn and deal with, one that makes him stronger in his new found goal. The ability to remain reasonably objective begins to melt away, leaving the reader with a thrilling, seductive, sexy and successful ending for this second “The Hellions of Hallstead Hall” series!

Getting There: A Novel by Gerry Boylan

Getting There: A Novel. Gerry Boylan. Synergy Books. July 2010. 368 pp. ISBN #: 9780984387922.

For Luke Moore, hitchhiking starts out as a grand lark, another adventuresome chance that might land just about anywhere. A broken family and horrific tragedy in the very beginning of this adventure throws Luke into two states, one bordering on a frantic need to escape the pain of reality and the other a shadowed minuscule voice telling him to honor the promise he made to a fellow wayfarer now gone.

But that tale is preceded by the older, settled down Luke in his later years who is taking his daughter to college and picks up a hitchhiker. How can he tell his tale to this younger wanderer without glorifying the life and at the same time recommending a lifestyle that could threaten his treasured daughter’s life now she is no longer to be under the guidance and protection of her doting father and mother. So the tale begins.
In spite of being named after one of the four New Testament gospel authors, Luke develops a hunger for thrills, a “no-risk meter” way of moving through his world. Off he goes, thrilling to the beat of 1970s music, preached at by some well-intentioned nuns, a “one true love” experience, a drug event that made heaven and earth become one, and so much more. Luke manages to cross many states and meets a collection of characters one expects, with even wilder stories than his own to tell.

Redemption and reconciliation come in many forms. Luke is fortunate enough to find a lady who is steady, loving, and thrilling, a woman just similar and different enough to guide him through the end of his “lost soul” phase. Their turn to use what's been learned with friends and a long-lost father ends this novel on a realistic and moving note sure to touch the hearts of all readers.

Very nicely done, Gerry Boylan!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just one Taste: A Recipe for Love Novel by Louisa Edwards

Just One Taste: A Recipe for Love Novel by Louisa Edwards. St. Martin's Press. August 2010. 352 pp. ISBN #: 9780312356477.

Wes Murphy thinks he’s failing Food Chemistry 101, a course mandatory for him to pass before he can apply for the coveted externship at one of the famous New York City restaurants. When his professor suddenly takes a leave of absence, Wes can hardly believe the hot, brainy babe who takes over teaching his class. The chemistry of food becomes a brain new topic, one he broaches with Dr. Rosemary Wilkins, little realizing how she is struggling to be an academic success in a field which she adores, the chemistry that makes molecules of different ingredients interact when heated to become something with, yes, aphrodisiac possibilities. But her research is exactly about actual aphrodisiacs and so Wes and Rosemary connect.

However, nothing is easy indeed! Wes’s father is a con man who upon discovering Rosemary’s background engages his son to dupe the woman Wes is coming more and more to love and respect. So Wes chooses the easy way and dumps her to protect her; but he’s haunted by his deed just as she is saddened and even embittered after feeling used and abandoned.

The plot is far from over! A bevy of characters appear in the restaurant where Wes does earn the perfect externship, including two male lovers vying for affection, jealous about others, and scheming to expand their successful business to an even greater site of haute cuisine.

Louisa Edwards obviously loves food and romance, as this novel which is part of the “Recipe for Love” series is replete with the sensual and amazing descriptions of ingredients, recipes, the cooking process, and the proper presentation of culinary delights. Wes and Rosemary will meet again, and the reader will feel the tension as the plot turns moment to moment from tension to connection, back and forth, before a most luscious ending is served, promising years of more amusing and delicious debacles to come!!! Four stars!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Constant Craving: A Short Story by Kemberlee Shortland

Constant Craving: A Short Story by Kemberlee Shortland (Irish Pride Series). September 2010. Readers: Win one of 3 B&N Nook Readers - enter contest between August 2 and 29, 2010, at this website:

In a follow-up to the phenomenal novel, A Piece of My Heart, Mick and Kate are the proud parents of twins who are now six months old. They’ve become the proverbial harried parents. Kate is constantly exhausted from taking care of her two children plus a home, and Mick is constantly working on the “dream” home for his beloved wife, whom he adores. So why are they both so intensely cool with each other and yearning for a bed in which they only want to sleep?

“Constant Craving” reminds this reader a tad about “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, a story also about miscommunication and placing one’s preoccupations in places and things that belie the purpose behind them. For Mick and Kate clearly are not communicating what they really feel and think. There is no lessening of love, but the old adage is forgotten that you are lovers and best friends first, and parenting, jobs, etc. need to be placed in their appropriate second place.

Fortunately, they begin, through the sage advice of wiser, older heads, to realize what has gone awry. Intending to fix things, Mick veers from his normal routine in a way that increases Kate’s suspicions and even starts her thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s someone else. This is definitely a different and intriguing plot of true love challenged anew! The story has a hot, surprising and lovely end that promises a different future for this engaging couple whose love can endure through all those moments, as long as they remember what’s behind that flaming, delightful passion.

“Constant Craving” is a lovely addition to A Piece of My Heart, which in addition to being a huge success is definitely awaiting another novel or several stories, at the very least!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gerry Tales: How I Lived Happily Ever After Despite... by Gerry Boylan

Gerry Tales: How I Lived Happily Ever After Despite... by Gerry Boylan. Synergy Books. August 2010. 256 pp. ISBN #: 9780984387939.

If you know how to laugh at yourself and regard the craziest incidents in your life as humorous moments that have shaped your life in a wonderful way, Gerry Tales is for you to enjoy and share with your family and friends with the same attitudes!

Gerry Boylan begins his tales with some childhood escapades that defy the
Imagination and are stories readers may recall in their own lives or wish had happened to them. From being the chosen boy to lay the china doll Baby Jesus in the crib at midnight on Christmas Eve – a ceremony that goes awry but leaves the entire congregation rolling with laughter – to adventurous accounts of teenage escapades that always seemed to wind up with being nabbed by the local pastor or police and a few nasty scars that were well-deserved but viewed as innocent adventures and nothing more, the stories continue with strict but wise parents who knew when to laugh and let go and friends who admire the robust willingness this boy had in the face of any challenge.

Then Gerry gets married and the children rapidly arrive, and now it’s his turn to wade through the comic world of parenting, with scenes like lecturing on behaving which seems to go over the kid’s heads because they’re staring at something gross on Dad’s face. Or there are the many moments of supporting children engaged 200% in the world of sports, with its ups and downs of winning and losing, a presence that values good sportsmanship over all the efforts, wins, losses, broken bones, etc.

And of course there’s the business world that Gerry navigates where he learns the hard way that all those amenities in the posh hotel refrigerator really aren’t included in the price of the room, where stereotypical appearances and behavior of the “salesmen” can be one’s friend or even one’s nemesis, and so much more.

Words cannot begin to convey the humor and wonderful spirit in these short but memorable tales shared by Gerry Boylan. Give this to your parents and your kids or even your siblings, as well as your friends! It’s an absolutely delightful collection that will make you want to embrace life more and, by the way, meet the author some day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Winner's Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success by Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske with Liz Neporent

The Winner's Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success by Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske with Liz Neporent. Da Capo Lifelong Books. March 2010. Hb. 240 pp. ISBN #: 978-0738213606.

It may seem like common sense to figure out what marks the thinking of successful men and women. But that’s not absolutely evident since there are so many books and talks being given on how to create success, whether that be financial, professional, or otherwise. These two authors have here focused on the eight mental and emotional strategies that may not absolutely guarantee but certainly seem to be the “keys” to achievement for those with the spark to begin the process!

The topics are presented with different ideas than most people consider and are backed by neuroscience and biological experiments that literally and repeatedly visualize changes in the brain that accompany creation of something new and unique. This involves laser-like focus, consideration of how much one is willing to risk, a talent meter, an eye and mind for opportunity which arises at just the right moment, and an effort accelerator. How many have become stuck in one of these places and literally paralyzed so that the dream seems deferred forever? This book deals with how to meet such obstacle moments as well.

Other factors include self-awareness of one’s optimistic or pessimistic or somewhere in between (like most people) nature, motivation or drive, emotional balance in the midst of whatever challenges arise in the creative process, the ability to be proactive and resilient through it all, a willingness and ability to adapt to the present circumstances, and so much more.

No, the road to success isn’t something we can all assume we know; and if the reader wants to be a winner of any size, shape, and form, this is a very useful book to use as a guidepost in that wondrous cycle of evolution that might make you into someone who lives with a winner’s brain! Fascinating material, examples and a clearly presented program one would be wise to follow!

Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming by Elizabeth J. Cockey and Barton M. Cockey

Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming by Elizabeth J. Cockey and Barton M. Cockey. Bridgeway Books. June 2010. Hb. 48 pp. ISBN #:978-1934454404.

Farming is solidly strong, a career and passion cherished by generations of families who exemplify the finest qualities of those who love the land and produce its crops with tender, loving care. The authors here spotlight multiple farms that raise different types of animals and crops throughout the seasons, ranging from sheep, chickens, cows, bees, corn, cider, grapes, wine, maple syrup, organic vegetables, and more.

But what is unique about this book is the deep-seated love of the land, depicted in quaint, beautiful paintings presented with each topic, pictures transformed from photographs to paintings that truly depict the peaceful, colorful landscape with its farms and animals.

The metaphor of growth and renewal is continuously stated and inferred, a process that is as often fraught with difficulties due to weather, prices, taxes, and more but always handled with a realistic and practical equanimity that transcends rather than survives whatever challenges may arise with each year’s unpredictable cycle. These are hardy families who never give up hope.

While many are abandoning farming for more lucrative careers, a whole new generation is returning to the love and “responsible stewardship” of this land in upstate New York.

The authors have presented readers with the history, practices, motivation, confident attention and hard but loved work that has made this entire area a historical, abundantly productive, and aesthetically pleasing landscape celebrated so wonderfully in this very small but oh so significant text. Very nicely done!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Return to Eden by Anthony Raimondo, Ph.D., CH

Return to Eden by Anthony Raimondo, Ph. D., CH. Dog Ear Publishing. 2009. pb. 156 pp. ISBN #: 9781608441136.

Dr. Anthony Raimondo has an unusual point of view on living a whole and complete life. After teaching students for many years, he began to realize that the narrative story of one’s life could lead to a theme of direction for the best career and most satisfying existence that is not only possible but also intended by the source of all being, God, or whatever name one credits with the author of life.

This theme evolves after beginning to practice meditations, visualizations, imagining scenarios, affirmations centered on Divine Design, exercises for allowing the when and where and how of one’s plan to emerge as well as how to deal with obstacles that evolve, prayer, and plotting the plan one desires, all of which are creatively and realistically presented by the author. Many examples are given to guide the reader slowly to achieve one’s Return to Eden.

For Dr. Raimondo believes and reminds the reader that the Fall from Eden was not the end of the story but only the beginning. Men and women were promised, through the words given in multiple sacred and secular texts, a return to the original design meant for humanity. It is ours to claim, and Return to Eden is a plan to initiate what all are intended to become and cherish in the full realization of life’s purpose. This is a lovely, inspirational text sure to become very special to those who not only read but practice its outlined program! Oneness is the promise for all!

Too Rich and Too Thin: Not an Autobiography by Barbara DeShong

Too Rich and Too Thin: Not an Autobiography by Barbara DeShong. September 2009. Echelon Press. Pb. 372 pp. ISBN #: 9781590806418.

Dr. Jessica LaFave is a psychotherapist who normally does a great job of helping the people by profiling killers being sought by the law. But lately, the hard-core cops think she’s gone too far and are beginning to doubt her abilities. Her psychotherapist husband was found dead and it was tossed off by the police as a drunken accident, with the added humiliation to Jessica of some items found in his possession that hint of unfaithfulness. But Jessica doesn’t doubt her late husband at all and instead believes he knew something from one of his clients that was too dangerous to know and so brought on his own innocent demise.

Now Jessica is asked to help with profiling the killer of Bernice Jackson, an author who turns “sacred” Texas history into racy novels and movies that border on porn. It turns out that Bernice was once a patient of her late husband right around the time of his death. So Jessica now begins probing into Bernice’s world, the world of a drugged son frequently humiliated by his father, a daughter who might be called an air-head were it not for her over-eating binges designed to remove her from her dysfunctional family, Jessica’s lawyer friend who sticks by her while always threatening to remove himself from her crazed ideas and plots, and more.

The tone is always light and bizarre. The characters are multiple and their conversation frequently meandering into what seems like nowhere but actually makes the reader pay attention to catch the riddle-like sparks of gold that will lead to the eventual capture of the real killer of Bernice Jackson and David LaFave! Definitely a different, novel approach to mysteries!

The Wolf of Tebron: A Fairy Tale by C. S. Lakin

The Wolf of Tebron: A Fairy Tale. The Gates of Heaven Series by C. S. Lakin. AMG Publishers/Living Ink Books. July 2010. pb. 288 pp. Youth Fantasy Fiction. ISBN #: 9780899578880.

Joran the Blacksmith is tortured by his own anger, an emotion that digs deep into his soul, his dreams, and his daytime work. Everyone in his small town suspects that something is deeply awry but says nothing. Finally, Joran takes a leave of absence to find Charris, whom he initially sent away with unflagging righteous dismissal. But now he has heard that Charris never arrived back in her family’s town. She seems to have disappeared!

So begins an amazing journey rivaling the best of C. S. Lewis’s tales for adventure and wisdom presented in an exciting and intelligent manner. Joran will indeed meet a wizard, a very special wolf – Ruyah, a cast of characters related to the Sun and Moon, and the South Wind, among others who will lead Joran to realize that nothing is really quite as it seems.

For Joran must learn the power of balance, that which keeps reason and emotions, dreams and nightmares in check. Surprisingly, this humbled blacksmith begins to realize he can be the creator of his own dreams, depending on how he treats them.

C. S. Lakin has a vivid imagination, and there are so many special moments in this “fairy tale” that will please all ages and leave you with many things to seriously and pleasantly ponder. There are many fantasy and fairy tale stories that tell a typical and predictable story – this is NOT one of those but instead a true fairy tale that is bound to become a classic! I loved this novel, and I rarely say this about many books I review!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

French Letters: Engaged in War by Jack Woodville London

French Letters: Engaged in War by Jack Woodville London. Vire Press, Texas. September 2010. ISBN #: 9780982120712.

War is definitely one of the most terrible experiences one can endure! Through the stark narration of Will Hastings, a trained doctor, the reader encounters another war story of reason and decency gone awry for the most part. For Will’s training has been so rudimentary that he is totally unprepared for being a field surgeon in the midst of the battle zone in France. So he learns on the job, a fact which leaves one of his officers with a saved life. The scar that is left drives that same officer to revenge, carried out by making Will’s life as miserable as possible by sending him to the most dangerous war sites and accusing him of breaking every imaginable Army rule that ever existed. Will’s peers think he should have killed the Major, a desire later coming to fruition in a rather strange way to be sure.

So the reader reads about the opinions of fellow soldiers, a doctor in a French town who’s lost most of his much-needed supplies, a French resistance fighter who is female and whose relationship to Will evolves slowly and specially, a Judge trying to conduct a court martial that turns out to be as chaotic and insane as the rest of the war. Will returns to the war believing, since he has written Virginia back home not to wait for him, that nothing matters anymore. But little by little, the preciousness of life persists, albeit mixed with a heady amount of lunacy. A desire begins to form, to return to the town of the first novel in this series, French Letters: Virginia’s War, not knowing that change and chaos have left behind some very lonely and bitter people.

Sending home a chest of his brother’s belongings, Will has no idea of the manipulation that will change several lives forever. Trying to save a friend’s life during a court martial could very well mean the death of a woman he has come to trust and cherish. The future is unsure for all because war fashions new psyches and souls forever.

French Letters: Engaged in War is a memorable read that is even more tense, ironic, satirical and engaging than the first book in this planned trilogy. Hoping and caring abide in even the most devastating circumstances!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Big Ten of Grammar by William B. Bradshaw, PhD

The Big Ten of Grammar: Identifying and Fixing the Ten Most Frequent Grammatical Errors by William B. Bradshaw, Ph.D. Synergy Books, July 2010, 135 pp. ISBN #: 9780984235858.

For the sake of speed, those who type in online chats and emails often cut down words and even change words. The end result is that these changes pass over to the professional world where one's presentation often affects the positive or negative outcome of communication. So Professor Bradshaw offers all readers a compact, professional and simple explanation of the most common grammatical errors people make in speech and writing. This is NOT about studying boring, difficult grammar rules. Professor Bradshaw's recommendations about how to remember to speak and write correctly are so simple as to make one wonder why we never learned it this way in elementary or grammar school. The topics include correct use of "I or me," other pronouns like "she/he or him/her," use of apostrophes in possessive nouns, use of commas in a series and much more.
A useful appendix follows the chapters in which the reader gets a comprehensive use of verbs in all tenses, and expanded explanation of plural and possessive nouns.
The Big Ten should be required reading for teachers, students and anyone in business who has to regularly correspond by speech or writing. It's also highly useful for those students preparing for college entrance exams. It's brief but important reading that will make a difference that lasts forever. Excellent text, Professor Bradshaw!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hope Against Hope by Sally Zigmond

Hope Against Hope by Sally Zigmond. Myrmidon Books. July 2010. ISBN #: 9781905802197

To hope is to dream, whether that be the size of a speck or a huge, fantastic longing! Without it, human beings fade from living to merely existing. The characters in Hope Against Hope are so dynamically human in the way they pass through all the cycles of hope that proceed from the head and heart. Saints and sinners in this notable novel are subject to the vicissitudes of history and their own personal strengths and weaknesses that embody hope against hope on every page.

Meet Carrie and May, two sisters thrust out of their home, attempting to surmount devastating poverty and mistaking temporary separation as abandonment. Each, however, has a very unique talent to develop through hard work but dependent on the people and events they meet in the mid-1800s. The possibility of love looms large initially but becomes repeatedly thwarted due to characters who live the negative aspect of the title, for there is a way to self-sabotage hope that at times is deliberate and at other times is unconsciously rearing its ugly head for other central characters like Alex and Charles, a railroad engineer and physician. Add the historical realities of the coming of the railroad to England and Europe, as well as the first beginnings of revolution in Paris, France. Sally Zigmond fashions central characters who refuse to be stereotyped and who develop as strongly as their female counterparts. Guilt over past actions threatens to stymie any sense of fulfilling original dreams for all involved, but hope never dies, thank goodness!

What would a great novel be, as well, without selfish, wicked characters who are so narcissistic that they not only plot the downfall of our heroines and heroes but wind up self-destructing in scenes that are sometimes comically absurd and at other times dastardly evil? A child comes, goes, and returns in poignant scenes that leave the reader practically aching for a benign ending, for what is the future of a child who doesn't even know she is hoping against hope?

Sally Zigmond has fashioned a tale that one doesn't want to end, an old-fashioned historical novel that is part thriller, part romance, part mystery, part social commentary and so much more!

Get ready for a stunning read! Hope Against Hope is a best seller, for sure!!! Read it and recommend to everyone you know who loves a grand reading experience!

Warrior from Heaven by Kermit Zarley

Warrior from Heaven by Kermit Zarley. Synergy Books. June 2009. ISBN #: 9780981546223

How accurate and reliable are end-time Biblical studies and what sources are used to discuss this topic from a scholarly point of view? Kermit Zarley offers readers an unfolding scenario of events that he claims are futuristic in nature, while relying on past Scripture. It's an interesting theory because many scholars claim that these same Scriptures have been fulfilled in the past and therefore are closed matters. But not so fast; Zarley states that these passages will only be fulfilled at the end of times.

Evil is rife throughout the land! A messiah-like creature rises up in what is now central Turkey, draws all nations under his powerful rule and conquers the majority of the Middle East. One last task remains and he convinces the other nations to unite in the ultimate final solution not finished in the Holocaust and other earlier massacres, to destroy every living Jewish man or woman.

While the path to this goal is progressing, the reader is offered a timeline, description and present behavior of Jews observing their festivals, rituals and sacred days based on ample Scriptures provided in side bars within this text. Repentance is the key to who shall be saved, a complete reversal of sinful behavior and without lukewarm attitudes. The shock to the remnant who will be saved is that Jesus Christ is the Messiah they have been awaiting for centuries, and the mourning over their past rejection is quite intense. This story is rife with lamentations for Jews and Christians alike who never embraced their faith with every fiber of life; now is the time for judgment. Who shall last and survive when the wheat is separated from the chaff?

Earthquakes, mystical signs in the heavens that may be interpreted as miraculous events or natural cosmological events corresponding with scientific evolution of the Earth add to the terror of all, a grand, dramatic end that offers no shelter or escape throughout the world.

Who is the warrior and how will the final battle occur? Is the end goal the creation of a new world or is this all a prelude to the end of earth as mankind knows it? You decide? Warrior from Heaven is definitely a fascinating look at this widely debated, discussed, and anticipated (with mixed feelings for sure) topic.

Hella Nation by Evan Wright

Hella Nation by Evan Wright. G. P. Putnam's Sons, a Division of The Penguin Group (USA), Inc. April 2009. 352 pp. ISBN #: 9780399155741

What's it like to be the oddball, the type of "out of the box" person or group that most people pretend to admire - from a distance in reality? What makes such folks tick? And whether or not one judges with the terms dysfunctional, weird, strange, etc., etc., shouldn't one understand these outsiders since the world is full of same? Evan Wright, who previously wrote for "The Hustler" magazine and "Rolling Stone" newspaper brings the reader into the world of men and woman who have a very definite but different outlook on the American Dream.

The author introduces the reader to his own evolution from a rebel using drugs to cope with reality into a sober, reflective person seeking to pen his explorations of what he calls a "tour of the Lost Tribes of America. Therefore, the reader is surprised that the opening account concerns American troops serving in Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold in southeastern Afghanistan. The area is a veritable dust storm waiting to happen and one gets an uncensored glimpse into the grinding, tense yet mundane atmosphere these soldiers endure daily, fantasizing and teasing newbies about the happy meals one can get in a nearby village and coping with unremitting sexual tension, fear of being killed and spurts of total inactivity.

The scene then shifts to the world of a professional skateboarder, a daredevil who performs his most dangerous stunts when totally drunk but someone who makes a fortune in this field while claiming to reject most acceptable values and occupations. We continue to meet similar yet different characters, taxi-dance hall girls occupied by would-be fantasy partners, radical protestors with the best of intentions carried out with the most destructive possible means, neo-Nazi groups seriously believing in anti-everything-but-white living, con artists, porn professionals and so much more that defies one's most imaginative moments.

Hella Nation raises more questions than it answers. It stretches the reader's definition from what is acceptable to offer a portrait of men and women who find satisfaction and purpose in unique situations that are rather dark, disturbing, frightening, sometimes funny in a skewed fashion, deceptive, laid back, sacred and profane. In a sense, Hella Nation defies description and in that goal Evan Wright has succeeded in presenting another side of America! The conclusion is yours!

The Rose of York: Love and War by Sandra Worth

The Rose of York: Love and War by Sandra Worth. End Table Books. November 2003. 334 pp. ISBN #: 0-9751264-0-7

"Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King - else, wherefore born?" Tennyson's words from Idylls of the King introduce and perfectly describe Richard of Gloucester's tormented life throughout the complex War of the Roses in English history. History lovers and scholars still debate whether Richard was villain or hero, but Sandra Worth clearly portrays the early years of this future king as a dedicated, passionate youth and man whose sole desire was to loyally serve his King. Growing up without parents, Richard finds his role model in John Neville, the famous Lord Montagu. The Neville family is caught up in what seem to be unending intrigue and conflicting loyalties between the Houses of Lancaster and York.

So Richard matures while he attains the status of confidante and closest supporter of his brother, Edward IV. Shedding needless insecurities and weakness, he chooses to serve with a pure devotion and skill that must wind its way through the bitter hatred of Edward's wife and his own conniving brother George. Eventually this means even turning against Warwick, the Kingmaker, the very man who once saved Richard's life by protecting him from would-be assassins. While the multi-character presentation is complex and ever-changing, Worth superbly portrays Richard's royal behavior through a world laced with nightmarish betrayal and brutality.

Most noteworthy, however, is how Richard handles every challenge with growing strength and grace, at times emulating his friends, family, and foes' strengths and at other times escaping to an inner world in which he analyzes events and people so that he can make and act on decisions emerging from a relentless integrity and dedication to Arthurian standards.

Fifteenth century life comes alive in this author's deft descriptions of agonizing childbirth, life-threatening sea storms, torturous marriage arrangements, urban filth, bawdy sexual dalliance, and ruthlessly bloody battles that are more the norm rather than the exception. What supercedes these gross scenes are the deepening relationships forged upon belief in sacred and secular nobility and dignity.

Richard finds solace in the love he finds in Anne Neville, Warwick's charge, but even here he must eventually take charge of making his destiny with her rather than waiting for permission to fulfill their love.

Sandra Worth has crafted a historical fiction novel that is a true "classic". This reader avidly awaits the second novel in the Rose of York series, Crown of Destiny, to see what becomes of this hero, Richard, "...the flower of men, To serve as model for the mighty world."

The King's Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth

The King's Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth. Berkeley Books: A Division of The Penguin Group (USA), Inc. December 2008. 401 pp. ISBN #: 9780425221440

"Love drew her heart toward him, and shame drover her eyes away." Such are the words shared by Tristan and Iseult in a volume treasured by King Richard of Gloucester and Elizabeth of York, the daughter of King Edward V, Richard's brother. Simple, clear words perhaps but in reality portraying a mesmerizing, complex life of a woman seeking her own role in history!

The story begins with understanding the totally dissimilar nature of Elizabeth's parents, her life intertwined with a loving but unwise father, King Edward, and her overbearingly meddling mother, Bess Woodville, a notorious woman feared by everyone in the kingdom. The latter is a woman like so many other tyrants, possessing an inordinate amount of greed stemming from fear of being deposed and having to return to an insignificant, impoverished status. The description sounds historically objective, but Sandra Worth fully captures the essence of Elizabeth's confused plight in the middle of this calculating shrew who calls herself mother and siblings who eventually will disappear or turn against Elizabeth for a very long time. Who will prevail and what personality will evolve from such chaotic parenting? Imagine such a childhood!

Bess Woodville's plans following the death of King Edward are thwarted by Richard seizing the throne as Protector and then King, and all seems well for a while as he and his beloved Queen Anne rule England. Justice becomes the norm rather than the exception, until Richard's rivals begin to make war to seize the Crown. Times of joy and tragedy follow the royal couple. Will Richard's mercy free Bess and allow Elizabeth a place in his court? For there we read of the intimate bond between this King and Queen about to be tested in the furnace of adversity.

During this time, Elizabeth realizes her mother's lies have distorted the truth. As Elizabeth begins to see Richard with new eyes, how will she be treated by the Queen and by Richard who previously sees Elizabeth only as a despised Woodville?

Destiny seemingly has other plans as Henry VII invades England and Elizabeth agrees to marry the usurper, a union tortured again, this time by Henry's own mother, Margaret Beaufort, a woman even more diabolical than Elizabeth's own mother. Will Elizabeth find honor or regret in her choice made for what she believes is England's good? What can she do against her mother-in-law's influence over her two very different sons, Arthur and Henry?

Again, the author allows clarity and accuracy to prevail as she presents Elizabeth's debacle and evolution over years. Elizabeth of York's account opens a window for the reader to view the benign and treacherous court dialogues, romances and planned unions, as well as important plans and actions of those who serve the Crown for different reasons. Questions regarding the disappearance of Elizabeth's brothers and the identity of the mysterious Pretender haunt Elizabeth through the remainder of her life. Were there other unseen, unrealized possibilities?

Sandra Worth's writing elicits confusing, loving and hateful thoughts, feelings and responses resulting from the reader's total immersion in these carefully crafted historical characters' lives, reactions paralleling Elizabeth's own. The author's creative writing skills are honed with excellent research and insight into personality.

Ms. Worth, superbly done! Readers, prepare yourself for an amazing, wonderful read herein as you sit down to enjoy the life of Good Elizabeth, the first Tudor Queen!

Lady of the Roses by Sandra Worth

Lady of the Roses by Sandra Worth. Berkeley Books - A Division of The Penguin Group (USA), Inc. January 2008. 404 pp. ISBN #: 9780425219140

"I went to bed early one night...tired and preoccupied with musings about love. then - was it a vision, a dream? - Love himself suddenly appeared before me, taking the heart from my breast and handing it to Desire..." An apt quote bespeaks the essence of a tale, in this case the story of the uniquely passionate, tender and forbearing love between Isobel Ingoldesthorpe and John Neville, the Yorkist. Their love endures through the thorny historical events of fifteen years commonly known as the War of the Roses.

Sandra Worth has once again captured the tornado-whirling shifts of loyalty as England watches two mad women change the course of history, Marguerite d'Anjou - Henry VI's French queen - and later Elizabeth Woodville - Edward IV's beautiful wife. The former believes she is trying to bring peace to her simple, holy husband's land, the latter spouse flourishes by feeding years of imagined hurtful memories with unmitigated revenge. Their sheer, unadulterated terror will destroy England's aristocracy, including the famed kingmaker, Warwick, John Neville's brother. John himself will rise to the heights of power and lose almost all of it.

Isobel is a feisty, intelligent and compassionate character whose observations have the same effect on the reader that she experiences. When one thinks that cruelty, savagery and insanity have reached their limit, another betrayal with its accompanying horrors or unexpected deaths arises to leave Isobel and all of England reeling with shock.

When it seems that the common people are suffering the most from their leaders' cruelty and blood lust, it is Isobel who cares enough to help them survive and believe in something higher. Indeed Isobel will audaciously intervene in two hair-raising scenes to plead for mercy for two central characters. Isobel and John's intimate love is the glue holding together a world in which England's rulers precociously attempt to shape its history.

Ms. Worth's singular talent lies in the masterful way she crafts plot and deftly presents an in depth, diverse set of historical characters whom the reader comes to deeply care about. Congratulations, Sandra Worth! Lady of the Roses is an unparalleled, beautiful, dire and memorable keeper in the top ranks of historical novels! What a treat!

The Rose of York: Fall from Grace by Sandra Worth

The Rose of York: Fall From Grace by Sandra Worth. End Table Books. May 2007. ISBN #: 9780975126493

What destiny awaits a King who bases his rule on Malory's account of King Arthur or the chivalric myth and romance of Tristan and Iseult? How much does one embrace idealism while practically dealing with the more demoralizing situations one meets on a daily basis? The Rose of York: Fall From Grace is potent reading for contemporary readers for just that reason - for how many leaders and citizens of any nation yearn for a country of justice, compassion, and nobility? And how many, like King Richard III, are scarred and disillusioned by the ancient good vs. evil battle that ever looms to threaten that heroic vision?

Fall from Grace, the last book in The Rose of York series, depicts a visionary man assuming the crown of England in a time fraught with the treachery of his deceased brother's wife, Bess Woodville and the innumerable disgruntled men and women she has swayed to her dream of wresting the throne from Richard. The mystery thickens with the disappearance of Edward's children! The agony deepens with two more deaths that will plunge Richard into doubt and depression. Foreign powers hasten to take advantage of the King's agony. Worse than the threats are the rumors that turn the nation against King Richard. This brief outline barely touches the poignant depth of this beautiful story of a man whom history does not know whether to bless or curse and whom few realize gifted the Western world with the code of legal justice still practiced today.

'Tis a grand job you have done, Sandra Worth, in this trilogy. This is a deeply moving, well-written book that should become required reading for anyone seeking to know the heights of what a true ruler can imagine and attempt to create, no matter what vicissitudes of life threaten!

Keep writing, Ms. Worth - you are a rare talent at creating meaningful, accurate and literary, historical fiction!

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny by Sandra Worth

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny by Sandra Worth. End Table Books. September 2006. 176 pp. ISBN #: 0-9751264-8-2

In discussing Sir Thomas Malory's account of King Arthur's knights, Richard of Gloucester says to Anthony Woodville that his favorite part is when Arthur slays Mordred. While this initial comment might lead a reader to think that Richard is again displaying his brutal character, as he is depicted in history, it would be wise to hear his amplification of that comment, "Justice is done." Woodville responds, "But justice comes at high cost. To get at Mordred, the King must sacrifice himself." Richard replies, "You miss the point. The cost of treachery is what's high. Justice is all that's left."

This lengthy interchange is worthy of significant notice as it parallels the main characteristic of Richard III as portrayed by Sandra Worth in this second novel of The Rose of York series about the King so often maligned in the accepted historical record. Yes, Sandra Worth and other Ricardian scholars and writers have come to a different conclusion - King Richard III always acted from a just and thoughtful analysis of the political facts and opinions available at the time in question.

For it is the audacious and despicable behavior of the Woodvilles against King Edward IV, Richard of Gloucester's brother, and the rest of the Plantaganet clan that almost undoes England's respectable relationships with Europe and almost destroys England itself with civil and political war. Richard watches his brother evolve from an idealistic, strong ruler to a deluded, drunk, blind, and irresponsible weakling totally unaware that his few murderous acts were leading to a disastrous end. As could be expected under such conditions, former loyal advisors and servants become as decadent as their leader because of their own lust for ambition and power. What an education for a future king - and how brilliantly this author portrays the individual as well as the political climate under which this all occurs.

So it is no small wonder that Richard becomes a man totally focused on justice - after watching his brothers and so many more murdered for base and mistaken reasons. His faithful and perceptive wife, Anne, can only comfort him so much but does help him preserve his sanity in the midst of even more horrific events. Indeed, he eventually even learns that his own family harbors momentous secrets that will affect the future of England and which he will not learn about until a most critical moment after his brother, Edward's, death - one for which his brother George was condemned to death by Edward.

Sandra Worth knows how to write superb historical fiction! The reader comes to appreciate the depth of Richard's character in taut suspense through the spare yet plot-driven tale quickly emerging under Worth's deft, depictive skills. With meticulous research, this author proceeds to engage the reader in truly understanding where the term "blind justice" originated and what it truly means in the life of a respectable and memorable political leader of amazing stature!

Congratulations, Sandra Worth! You have done it again with realistic and creative skill - and so much more! I can't wait to read the final novel in this noteworthy series, The Rose of York:Fall From Grace.

Eight Days in Darkness by Anita Woolridge and Angela Roegner

Eight Days in Darkness: The True Story of the Abduction, Rape and Rescue of Anita Woolridge. Synergy Books. April 2010. ISBN #: 9780984076031

Brace yourself for a very difficult but very necessary story that is unfortunately all too true! The writing is expressed for two purposes: first, to complete another phase of the healing process for this brave, feisty, believing woman and second, to reach out to readers for the sake of safety and the always possibilities of healing and blessing!

Anita Wooldridge was abducted from her home on June 25, 1998 in daylight hours with no anticipation of the horrors she was about to endure. One gets the clear perception that she didn't spend too much time going over the newly horrific sexual assaults of various types or brutal beatings she endured at the hands of this pathologically sick man. Instead, Anita wisely realizes that talk is the only way she will survive this ordeal, saying to Tom Steele, or the mole as she refers to him in her account, exactly what he needed to hear. Only in this way did she avoid even more brutality that she could see was so often lying just below his surface appearance and waiting to lash out without warning.

We get some idea of his background, learning of where his rage originated and how it grew to profound mental illness with each new rejection, mockery and humiliation. This certainly in no way excuses one iota of what deviant acts he perpetrated on this innocent young woman, but it should alert all readers to awareness of what acts trigger dangerous possibilities and the need for alertness in all places, for one's own safety and perhaps even the safety of another not so alert and therefore susceptible to such predators.

Faith is the largest reality that allowed Anita to endure. It's not saccharine, meaningless stuff but the gritty test of faith in the most difficult, hopeless situation one could possibly imagine!

The reality of this nightmare week and a day come even more to focus after her rescue by the Howard County Sheriff's Office and the Kokomo Police Department, as well as FBI agents, as one realizes the psychological scars that began to emerge in treatment and through her therapeutic journaling.

This is a tribute to the faith and courage of a very brave woman who suffered so much but totally leaned on her faith that God would help her endure it all right up to freedom and healing.


The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods

The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods. Mira Books. April 2009. ISBN #: 9780778326267

Personal and public agendas are flying in the first of this new fictional romance series. The O'Brien clan is quite a motley crew of individuals who have been so busy pushing their memories into oblivion as possible that the fireworks are always near the surface. The sparks stem from fury in some scenes and oh so fiery, repressed passion in others! Whichever turn the reader takes, he or she is bound to be mesmerized by this vibrant family, beginning with Abby O'Brien Winters, a woman who thinks she knows her own mind - today at least!

Abby, divorced and the mother of twin girls, has a successful financial career in Manhattan, New York. She desperately could use some vacation time but is still surprised by the desperate call she receives from her sister, Jess. Abby drops all and travels to the lovely Chesapeake Shores in Maryland, a community her father built but never really stuck around long enough to cement with his children. Abby and Jess have very different reactions to their mother leaving when they were very young and to their father, the master of incompleteness. Communication is sorely in need of healing, if not an almost impossible goal for either to obtain.

For now, Abby must contend with helping Jess save the Inn at Eagle Point, which is in dire financial condition and which Jess will lose unless Abby agrees to an old lover, Trace Riley's demand that she help to manage the Inn in order to assure it can survive with an adequate income generated from its guests. The demand is outrageous but Abby doesn't have much choice if she wishes to help her fragile (in some ways) sibling. But complications will arrive there as well; an ex-husband who uses Abby's move to further his own needs, a threat to take her to court for legal, full-time custody of the twins.

These are just a few of the conflicts racing through these lively pages. While there are multiple problems, they are depicted in a smooth, linear fashion that never confuses the reader.

Sherryl Woods has created the first of a funny, challenging, heart-rending, passionate and endearing story, a family portrait so powerful that the reader will eagerly await more in another O'Brien tale in the near future!

Very nicely done!