Monday, June 10, 2013

Steadfast-Mercedes Lackey

Steadfast


Mercedes Lackey

Daw, Jun 4 2013, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756408015



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



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



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



Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eight Million Gods-Wen Spencer

Eight Million Gods


Wen Spencer

Baen, Jun 4 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451638981



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



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



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



Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Girl With The Iron Touch-Kady Cross

The Girl With The Iron Touch


Kady Cross

Harlequin Teen, May 28 2013, $17.99

ISBN: 9780373210855



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



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



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



Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Creator II: Human Behavior Explored-Allen Pollens

Creator II: Human Behavior Explored


Allen Pollens

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Feb 8 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781482011067



In 2014, the Guardians of the Universe ordered Professor Thomas Scribner to act as human witness to an inquiry. Seven pass judgment on the eighth, the Creator of planet Earth whose experiment went wrong due to the psychopathic selfishness of the individuals making up the dominant sentient species. If ruled a colossal failure the free will test subjects will be terminated (see Creator: Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Epic, Earth's Human Behavior Confronted).



In 2015, Harvard University History Professor Jeffrey Lerner agrees to go back in time to study human behavior in order to isolate the cause(s) that has led to endless violence; his findings are due to the Guardians of the Universe in 2024. From his home in Sudbury and with help from his teaching assistants Hank and Kathy, he makes his first stop in 3900 BCE, Jerusalem where he meets with Priest Jacob, Saul, David, Judith, Samuel and Laban where he uses the name Jethro and learns about the origins of the True One God religion(s) of Abraham and his offspring as well as female subjection to the rule of man.



The second Creator science fiction epic continues the look at irrational bellicose human behavior throughout history with a focus on key religious events in creating the Abrahamic religions and seeking why women were less than cattle. Though this entry can stand alone, reading book one enhances the understanding of the Guardians especially the Creator. With a fantastic late Hail Mary time travel twist to attempt to save mankind (and his heart), readers will relish this insightful look at humanity beginning with the origin of the Adam and Eve legend; as the Guardians paraphrasing H. Rap Brown believe that “violence is as (human) as cherry pie.”



Harriet Klausner





Magician’s End-Raymond E. Feist

Magician’s End


Raymond E. Feist

Harper Voyager, May 14 2013, $29.99

ISBN: 9780061468438



With the death of King Gregory, the Congress of Lords meets to select the new ruler of the Kingdom of the Isles. However, there are no blood ties so an obvious frontrunner does not exist. The Congress remains divided as to who should be anointed. While they dither, civil war seems imminent as the royal place in Rillanon is threatened. Hal the Duke of Crydee, his brothers Martin and Brendan, and Jim Dasher Jamison and his grandfather Lord James struggle to prevent the war.



Meanwhile Pug the Master Sorcerer, his son Magnus, Nakor, and Miranda struggle to escape the devious trap sprung by the Adversary. This foe has sent his only viable opponent to a different plane of existence with no chance of ever coming back to periled Midkemia. Inside the impenetrable Grey Tower Mountains, a deadly assault on the Star Elves has begun as the Adversary continues his plan to achieve his only goal: oblivion.



The supposedly final fantasy in the three decade long Riftwars is a fabulous fitting Feisty finish to an overall exciting saga of thirty books. The enjoyable storyline is for the most part fast-paced even with reflective asides and ephemeral encounters with characters not seen in a while. Although the fifth of the Riftwars series targets fans only as Magician’s End is no place to start nor is the Chaoswar Saga (see A Kingdom Besieged and A Crown Imperiled), Raymond E. Feist ends with a bang not a whimper.



Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Never-K.D. McEntire

Never


K.D. McEntire

PYR, May 14 2013

ISBN: 9781616147716



In the ER as the ghosts watch, Piotr intervenes until the doctor resuscitates Wendy though the teen remains in a coma. Once the Lightbringer, Wendy lost much when the Reaper ripped away her Light. Now she unites with her friends to prevent Lady Walker’s evil scheme to allow the malevolence in between realms to enter and destroy Never.



Wendy must also find a way to hinder separate machinations by Reaper Matriarch Elise and Reaper Rogue Jane. To do this she looks to the past at the relationship between her deceased mother and Elise as well as Piotr’s background. Wendy may not have her full essence, but she is no quitter as her family and others are in great peril from a world no longer in synch.



The final Lightbringer teen fantasy (see Reaper and Lightbringer) is a fabulous finish to an engaging trilogy as readers learn more about the Reaper heritage while the heroine without much of her power sets out to save the realm. Ironically the fascinating history also intrudes on the thrilling present day end of the world storyline. Still readers will anticipate the multiple confrontations as Never may become no more.



Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Children of the Gates-Andre Norton

Children of the Gates


Andre Norton

Baen, May 7 2013, $13.00

ISBN: 978-1451638899



“Here Abide Monsters:” On this apparent parallel earth where elven roam, creatures in flying saucers abduct and enslave newcomers. Avalon the herald offers safety at a cost to recent travelers from various earth ages who unfortunately fell through the Gate; they must give to him part of their soul.



“Yurth Burden.” On the Zacar plains dwell the Raski farmers while in the mountain reside the Yurth with their Upper Sense. The two races are in a constant state of hostility with horrific wars occurring. When a Raski warrior Stans follows a Yurth woman Elossa on her coming of age quest, he knows he must kill her.



Children of the Gates contains reprints of two wonderful 1970s tales. Yurth Burdon is especially timely leaving the audience to ponder the long term impact of racial hatred.



Harriet Klausner