Sunday, September 30, 2007

Star Flight-Andre Norton

Star Flight
Andre Norton
Baen, Oct 2007, $24.00
ISBN: 9781416555063

The Stars Are Ours. Humanity established space stations so that interplanetary flight could occur cheaper. However, terrorists took control of a station and attacked earth from it devastating the planet. Survivor Arturo Renzi saw his loved ones die so he preached an anti-science message that led to his assassination. Outraged, his followers attacked the opposition with a vengeance forming the dictatorial Company of Pax. Brothers Dard and Lars Nordis and the latter’s pregnant wife Kathia fled the purge; however Lars was crippled and Kathia suffered a brain injury and after giving birth to Dessie she died. The siblings and Dessie hide at a remote farm for a decade until the Pax Peacemen arrive. They try to escape, but Lars dies leaving Dard and Dessie running from the Peacemen.

Star Born. The Pax ended space exploration as part of their anti-scientific campaign as they blame the pandemic devastation on scientists. However, some rebels managed to steal a few spaceships and flee to form colonies that had no ties to earth. A century passes with the Federation of Free Men having disposed of the Pax and space exploration redeployed with faster than light engines. The RS-10 ship reaches Astra where an earth colony was established. However, it is the fiendish natives that greet the terrans who they have plans to eradicate with their strange science.

This omnibus reprint of Andre Norton past-apocalyptic “Star” saga showcases how talented the author truly is especially in “The Stars Are Ours”; in which a terrorist act leads to security superseding freedom (the Neocons must have wolfed this one down). “Star Born” is also well written, but pales compared to its predecessor as the evil species that plan to wipe out humanity on RS-10 display no redeeming quality not even rationalizing saving a way of life from outsiders. Still these are two entertaining science fiction tales sets one hundred years apart in different galaxy locations. Ms. Norton’s fans will soar with STAR FLIGHT.

Harriet Klausner

The High King's Tomb-Kristen Britain

The High King's Tomb
Kristen Britain
Daw, Nov 2007, $25.95
ISBN 9780756402662

Over a millennium ago, the First Rider and the forces of Sacordia defeated the black magic of Mornhavon the Black and his invading Arcosian Empire army. Mornhavon’s spirit was incarcerated in Blackveil Forest surrounded by the magical D’Yer Wall and further guarded by Sacordia sorcerers. However, as the centuries past, the practical magic became less known as the fear of dark magic has been passed down through the generations since.

However, a rogue practitioner cracked the protective wall allowing the essence of the malevolent one to leak into the kingdom. With the Green Rider hurting and depleted, and needing time to rediscover the ancient containment spells, the King’s messenger and Karigan G'ladheon with the help of the First Rider sends Mornhavon into the future. However, as the Green Rider corps seek the document that will provide the spell to fix the hole in the wall, Karigan wonders how much time they bought as she anticipates a war of mages; unaware and unprepared that the first battle to come will be with the invigorated Arcosians, who have waited for a thousand generations for their leader to return to finish the conquering that ended in a temporary defeat.

The third Karigan tale (see GREEN RIDER and FIRST RIDERS’ CALL) is an entertaining fantasy that is somewhat similar in tone to other epic wars between good and evil; for instance over time the secrets behind the wall spell has been lost. However, the use of time travel magic refreshes the concept as Karigan buys time by dumping Mornhavon's essence on a future generation without the knowledge of where the malevolence landed. The story line focuses on finding the spell and the mundane second war with the Arcosions. Although well written and very entertaining with the heroine continuing her growth into using her magical powers, the disappointment is that THE HIGH KING’S TOMB fails to move forward (except in time) to the key confrontation fans want between Karigan and Mornhavon.

Harriet Klausner

The Third Lynx-Timothy Zahn

The Third Lynx
Timothy Zahn
Tor, Nov 2007, $24.95, 352 pp.
ISBN 9780765317322

In some future time, the different civilizations are connected by the transportation system known as the quadrail. People and objects are able to get from one place to another, along great distances using this transportation system run by the mysterious Spiders and their ever more mysterious masters the Chahwyn. Both groups are pacifist so they must recruit warriors in the invisible war against the Modhri one mind with many intelligent arms under its control. One of the agents it has co-opted is Frank Compton a former government agent who uses his skills to chip away pieces of the Modhri.

Compton’s enemy is collecting sculpture known as the lynx, viper and hawk and is killing anyone who gets in his way. An agent who believes Compton is a killer constantly dogs his footsteps making it harder to do his job and keep the lynx out of the Modhri clutches. Compton races around the galaxy trying to figure out what the Modhri has planned for its enemies. Agent Morse of the security service is trying to figure out what both sides are keeping from him and what is really going on.

THE THIRD LYNX is space opera at its finest due in large part to a larger than life hero and an antagonist that seems undefeatable. There are plenty of realistic chase scenes and misdirection as to who the enemy is and who is an ally. The Spiders and their masters are as enigmatic as Dr. Spock although they are part of the group that indirectly fights the Modhri since they weren’t engineered to be actual fighters. Readers will eagerly await the next book in the series.
Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Holidays Are Hell-Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Marjorie M. Liu and Vickie Pettersson

Holidays Are Hell
Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Marjorie M. Liu and Vickie Pettersson
Harper, Nov 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061239090

"Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel" by Kim Harrison. Teenager Rachel recuperates from I.S. disease that killed her father and nearly killed her, but left her new powers as a witch in training; however, she misuses her new skills with a resurrection that may prove lethal.

"Run, Run Rudolph” by Lynsay Sands. Nick and Jill are to play Mr. and Mrs. S. Claus, but instead shapeshift in a flight for their lives when John tries to shoot her with a destabilizing ray.

"Six" by Marjorie M. Liu. Necromancer Joseph warns Six, a member of the Chinese Squad Twelve, of a deadly vampire plot.

"The Harvest” by Vickie Pettersson. Retired Zodiac warrior Zoe Archer must return to the mortal realm to rescue her newborn granddaughter.

These are well written thrilling fantasy novellas with the added bonus that Ms. Harrison’s tale stars a younger Rachel Morgan.

Harriet Klausner

Selling Out-Justina Robson

Selling Out
Justina Robson
PYR, Oct 2007, $15.00
ISBN: 9781591025979

By 2021, the Quantum Bomb changes the universe by creating six interlinked realities. Earth no longer exists as we knew it; now called Otopia magic works where sprites, ghosts and other formerly paranormal species exist. A third realm Alfheim contains elves, who have forged a shaky alliance with the residence of Otopia. Other realities include Zoomenon consisting of Elementals; Daemonia home to magical adept demons; Thanatopia, the “land of the dead” in which no living human has ever returned after a visit and Faery, a fun tourist trap.

Her handlers and superiors, fearing the fragile peace between realms may be breaking, assign twenty-one years old super secret agent Lila Black, as much artificial intelligent metal as human, to learn more about rebellious royal fairy Zal. The Otopia leadership fears Zal without being aware that he and Lila are dating because she hides her relationship from her employers. Somehow Zal has done the impossible to himself when he altered his e essence to add other magicks found only in Alfheim and Daemonia, destroying a delicate balance.

Although SELLING OUT can stand alone, to better understand the six realms, especially their interrelationships, alliances, and discords, readers should read book one of the Quantum Gravity saga, KEEPING IT REAL. The first book introduced readers to the realms, but mostly through the residents of Otopia where almost the entire book occurs; this time the audience visits Daemonia and Zoomenon while also learning how Zal and Lila got to where they both are super changed beings. Though darker in scope (hell - we are on the demon realm), Justina Robson provides a strong entry that continues to establish the physics of her multiverse.

Harriet Klausner

Grimpow-Rafael Abalos

Rafael Abalos
Delacorte, Oct 2007, $17.99
ISBN: 9780385733748

In 1313 in mountainous France, youngster Grimpow sees the corpse. He had no idea who this dead person is, but scared he brings adult Durlib to look at the body. Durlib says the deceased died peacefully and wrenches a stone out of the man’s clenched hand. He tosses the stone to Grimpow. The pair examines a nearby bag containing a large booty. They argue over what to do with the silver coins, ruby and emerald covered daggers, and precious jewels; as Durlib insists they are tramps and thieves while Grimpow says they are not grave robbers. However, they also find a letter written in an unknown alphabet containing a strange seal of a snake swallowing its tail.

Grimpow may learn to regret the last item he grabbed. As he holds the stone as an amulet, he begins seeing weird visions of unknown locales. Frightened further because now Grimpow can read the letter as if the language was something he always knew, but the note is for someone else who Grimpow fears will soon be coming for the bearer of the letter. Even worse befalls him when he finds he cannot leave the letter or the stone behind as if they are part of him. Thus begins Grimpow’s centuries' journey on “The Invisible Road”.

GRIMPOW is a fascinating fantasy that readers will appreciate because as the hero’s adventures occur, he learns more about the stone he possesses or as he has come to believe possesses him. Interestingly men have grasped this amulet, but never owned it; however, Grimpow is the first child to hold the stone. Readers will want to travel alongside Grimpow as he unlocks the secrets of the stone.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bloodfever-Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte, Oct 2007, $22.00
ISBN: 9780385339162

In Dublin the barriers that separate the realms of mankind and Faery is collapsing. Twenty-two years old MacKayla Lane left her native Georgia when her sister Alina was murdered in a Dublin alley (see DARK FEVER). What she learned has nuked her southern existence as she finds out she (and Alina) contain the DNA of ancient Celtic sidhe-seers who fight the Fae. Now she seeks vengeance against those otherworldly abominations that killed her sibling.

Mac’s objective is to kill the dark Lord Master, but needs the black magic tome, Sinsar Dubh. She distrusts her ally ancient books and other antiquities vendor Jericho Barrons, but has no choice if she is to prevent the Lord Master from totally destroying the barrier.

The second Fever paranormal thriller is a dark tale told mostly by the heroine, who paints a scary deadly Dublin otherworld. Mac is learning on the job, as she remains focused on her avenging mission although the mysterious Barrons is quite a distracter even as she wonders whose side he is on. The enemy Lord Master seems so much more powerful than our tyro champion; however, fans will root for Mac who knows she better become proficient rather quickly or she will join her sister on the other side of the Moning mythological pantheon.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Slain Knight-Deborah Gabrien

New Slain Knight
Deborah Gabrien
Dunne, Nov 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312374006

A three week vacation with her lover is disturbed when his sister calls musician Ringan Laine to ask her to watch her daughter for two weeks. His significant lover Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes does not mind that Rebecca is going to be with them; she suggests they go to Cornwell. Ringan arranges for them to stay with his friend and fellow musician Gowan Cambourne. He makes Penny feel uncomfortable and she and Becca share the same vision when the song NEW SLAIN KNIGHT is played.

Gowan confesses that his lover committed suicide in the house and that Rebecca reminds him of a younger version of her. Becca performs NEW SLAIN KNIGHT with Gowan’s band and has a vision of his ancestors who lived five centuries ago insisting murder, suicide and rape occurred. Before something deadly happens, a concerned Ringan takes his two women to Tintagell, but the visions continue. Only the truth about what happened in 1451 will free Becca and Penny.

The latest “Haunted ballad” mystery is a ghost story that transports the mediums into a tragedy that happened centuries ago; in turn this enables the audience to experience the pain and heartache that led to crimes occurring and an inability to live with the consequences of what they wrought. The danger to the modern females is palpable as each vision and flashback seems more vivid than the previous one as if those long dead are trying to redo their errors through Penny and Rebecca. Deborah Gabrien spellbinds her fans with this tense ghost story.

Harriet Klausner

Over Hexed-Vicki Lewis Thompson

Over Hexed
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Onyx, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412485

Exiled for unethical magical matchmaking mischief by Cyril the Grand High Wizard, Ambrose and Dorcus Lowell detest being sent to backwater Big Knob, Indiana, but the matchmaking duo has no say in the matter. They cannot return until they straighten out George the dragon who suffers from ADD. They worry about how to pass time in a town of under 10000 mortals, but consider doing their magic with humans, a no no back home, but what the heck that is a double negative.

The duo meets mortal Sean Madigan, who laments that he is bone weary of females wanting him. Although they know they should stay with the normal clientele, witches and warlocks, the out of town therapists agree to help Sean with his problem by changing him from the hunk of hunks to an average American. Now that he is no longer the fantasy star of female dreams, Sean ironically meets his soul-mate Maggie. He finds he must court her by using charm and tenderness instead of Greek God looks, but this is something he never had to do before and fails at persuading Maggie he is the one for her.

OVER HEXED is a lighthearted romantic fantasy starring two out of control but caring matchmakers and an interesting pair of humans. Sean makes the tale as his wish is granted at a time he meets his true love, but must work at winning her; something he never had to do before as women worked to get him. Readers will enjoy this amusing irreverent frolic that uses the paranormal to spoof the politically correct and anti politically correct babble.

Harriet Klausner

Pirate Freedom-Gene Wolfe

Pirate Freedom
Gene Wolfe
Tor, Nov 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780765318787

In the twentieth-first century, Christopher, the son of an American mob boss who moved to post communist Havana to run a casino, is considering taking holy orders, but decides to delay his final pledge to God. Instead he leaves the post communist Cuban monastery only to end up in Cuba three centuries ago.

Although bewildered by what happened to him, he adapts as he considers himself a modern day wandering Jonah although he believes God will forgive his transgressions. Christopher obtains work on a ship so that he can survive as he lacks the skills of this century. He soon joins a pirate vessel and after plenty of hard knocks, he becomes a pirate captain.

Although the story line is filled with plenty of swashbuckling adventures that would tire Errol Flynn in his prime, the fascination in this superb time travel thriller is Captain Chris confessing his sins to Father Christopher. Thus the audience obtains a vivid look at an eighteenth century Caribbean and Atlantic ethos as seen by a twenty-first transplant in which the two superpowers (pirates and the military-industrial complex) contain their own respective ethics as they battle for High Seas supremacy.

Harriet Klausner

Moon's Fury-C.T. Adams & Cathy Camp

Moon's Fury
C.T. Adams & Cathy Camp
Tor, Oct 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765356642

Tedford County, Texas Sheriff Cara Salinas is the alpha leader of her werewolf pack. When Minnesota pack second in command Adam Mueller arrives in Texas, Cara has some concerns as werewolves normally stay close to home. Cara has not been made privy to the knowledge that the Sazi Counsel has decided to disband the Minnesota pack and relocate the members to other packs; some like Adam will join Cara’s squad.

However, Cara has other immediate concerns besides her attraction to the newcomer. As the sheriff she needs to stop a serial killing group of Sazi eating the offspring of her and his packs. Adam has found his soul mate and assists Cara as they investigate the murders only to uncover a lethal conspiracy that could set back the Sazi for years to come.

The Sazi moon thrillers have been consistently some of the best romantic fantasies on the market in recent years. The latest tale MOON’S FURY will add to the reputation of the authors and their top rate series. The story line contains two terrific subplots; a well written paranormal police procedural and a romance in which being a soul mate is not enough as both need to learn to respect the other. As with the previous books, each one expands the Adams-Camp mythos, but also can be read as a stand alone.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Highlander for Christmas-Sandy Blair

A Highlander for Christmas
Sandy Blair
Zebra, Oct 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780821779972

In 2007 in a Boston neighborhood, a gang of hooligans terrorize Claire MacGregor at her antiques store shop. As he fusses with an eighteenth century puzzle box, she wishes for some peace on earth, at least in her store during Christmas, but instead a naked hunk arrives.

Highlander Sir Cameron MacLeod is confused as he struggles with all that he sees as he insists the year is 1745 and he is preparing for the battle of Culloden. He needs to return home to perform his duty even in a losing cause. Claire tries to help him, but the local witch fails at sending him back in time. As he gets into all sorts of trouble with the law and giving back to the gang what they gave Claire, they fall in love, but he is eighteenth century and she is twenty-first.

The key to this wonderful time travel romance is the tongue in cheek humor as the eighteenth century style chauvinistic honor keeps getting the good intention hero in twenty-first century trouble. Claire is a solid protagonist and the supporting Bostonians enhance the plot; however Cam makes the tale as he struggles to adapt to modern day living demands that make it a bit difficult for a kilted warrior to walk down Beacon Street carrying a sword.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Dead: Lurker-Stefan Petrucha and Thomas Pendleton

Wicked Dead: Lurker
Stefan Petrucha and Thomas Pendleton
Harper, Sep 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061138492

Anne, Mary, Shirley and Daphne take turns telling a haunting Wicked Dead story. Anne is first as she relates Lurker to her pals at the run down Lockwood Orphanage.

In her mind teenager Mandy lives an ideal life even factoring in her boyfriend Dale who messed up real bad so she dumped him. Everything is fine and apparently normal for instance Naughty Nic skipped school. However, normalcy crashes for everyone when they learn Nic failed to attend because someone murdered her. Not just Mandy is shocked by the tragedy; the entire Lake Crest High School personalizes the homicide and the town is traumatized that such an act could happen here.

Stunned although not a close friend of the late girl, Mandy finds herself seeing visions of an unknown person, who she begins to believe is Nic’s killer dubbing him the Witchman. An apologetic Dale wants Mandy to forgive him and take him back while she is considering Kyle the Internet dude she has not met, but would like to soonest.

LURKER is the first of four horror novellas as each of the ghostly female “pajama party” pals stare at bones and tell a tale of death. Mandy is a terrific lead character holding the tale together while fearing she will meet the Witchman who haunts her sleep. The murder mystery and the aftermath reaction to it especially of the victim’s school peers bring a reality to this entertaining tale with a stunning fascinating otherworld twist. Although targeting young teens, boomers also will appreciate this opening Wicked Death thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Endgame-Kristine Smith

Kristine Smith
Eos, Nov 2007, $7.99, 416 pp.
ISBN 9780060503598

Change has come to humans and the Idomeni aliens when they first met in space and got to know each other. Right now, there is an uneasy coexistence between the two species with treaties in place to guide behavior and interactions. Hybridization is a choice to blend the two species into one, sometimes for health reason and sometimes for the need to find a better way of life. The hybrids live in Thalassa which is trying to become sovereign.

The impetus for Hybridization and alien and human getting to know one another is condemned by the leader of the Idomeni people yet some are not afraid to speak their beliefs even though they are anthemia to the zealots on his homeworld. The hybrid woman Jani Killian is shattered when her mentor is assassinated and she vows to bring his killer to justice. To do that, she will have to change the beliefs of Idomeni, wreck havoc by arranging the largest mass exodus ever known and overthrow the regime whose leaders sent the killer.

This latest Jani Killian novel is science fiction at its’ very best. Splinter groups try to drive a wedge between human and alien relations. Yet because the two species are more alike than different they are fated to achieve only minor success, but doomed to failure in the larger sense. Jani is a well developed character; she is independent, doesn’t pay attention to diplomatic protocol, does what she believes is right even if it disturbs two civilizations and is totally loyal to her friends. Kristine Smith is a superb species builder who creates a vivid picture of aliens especially on their homeworld and a deep look at human reactions to them.

Harriet Klausner

Servant: The Awakening- L.L. Foster

Servant: The Awakening
L.L. Foster
Berkley, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425218747

Demons live amongst us looking like normal humans; most people cannot distinguish a demon from a mortal. Gabrielle “Gaby” Cody is unique as she can and believes she has a divine responsibility to destroy these evil essences. Her burden as a demonic assassin has left Gaby all alone.

Detective Luther Cross is attracted to the enigmatic Gaby, but fears she is a serial killer. Still he wants to help her even though he does not understand her. He also realizes he can feel for her kindhearted loser of a landlord Morty Vance, comic book storeowner, who worships her as if she is warrior princess starring in his favorite comic books that she secretly draws. Still though she would like things different, Gaby believes no relationships can be for her as her holy mission comes first before love and soul-mates especially a nosy cop.

This is an entertaining paranormal romantic suspense that grips readers from the moment Luther crosses swords with Gaby and never slows down as he struggles with her vigilantism and she with her solo act. Morty serves as a sidekick although he is unaware of what his heroine does even as her comic books are autobiographic. Romantic fantasy readers and fans of Buffy and the movie They Live will want to read the first tale in the human war against demons.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bloodline-F. Paul Wilson

F. Paul Wilson
Forge, Sep 2007, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765317063

Filled with guilt as he knows his vocation holds him culpable for the hit and run assault on his girlfriend Gia that left her battered and their unborn dead (see HARBINGERS), Repairman Jack has quit trying to fix things. He concentrates on helping his beloved heal physically and emotionally while keeping her and her daughter Vicky safe though he would not mind learning more about the Watcher who is always near at night but never there when Jack goes to confront him.

When single mother Christy Pickering asks Jack to help split up her teenage daughter Dawn from twice her age Jeremy Bolton, he says no. However, Gia demands Jack take on the case as she insists they need to return to the norm, which for Jack is repairing things. Jack learns that Bolton has captured the attention of Dawn as the first male to show interest in her. He also finds out that the Feds have a scientific interest in Bolton, who’s DNA makes him into a homicidal beast. Bolton’s half brother Hank Thompson shares that same violent DNA while leading the Kickers cult. The siblings know their mission as assigned to them from their late father is to sire the dawning of a next generation of evil.

The latest action-packed Repairman Jack thriller is an over the top implausible tale that will grip fans from the onset. Even when Jack stays domestic to keep Gia and Vicky safe, the story line is faster than the speed of light and never decelerates as BLOODLINES sets up the book twelve. Although not the strongest entry in this terrific series, the latest saga is still an enjoyable tale.

Harriet Klausner

Ain't Myth-Behaving-Katie MacAlister

Ain't Myth-Behaving
Katie MacAlister
Pocket, Oct 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416524932

"Stag Party". Wanting to remain the Irish god Cernunnos, Dane Hearne, needs his wife, Fidencia to renew their vows at the annual Beltane ceremony. However, this year his spouse says no. He has a week to find a bride or lose his godly status. He thinks the gods must be with him as American visitor Megan St. Clair arrives at his castle; all he has to do is persuade her to marry him for eternity.

"Norse Truly". Alrik and his Viking crew are fated to sail for eternity unless a Valkyrie ends their curse. Centuries of following the Swedish coast pass when the American Brynna arrives to see her family. An accident dumps her into the sea where Alrik demands she ends their torment, but she is a modern day Yank with no idea how.

These are two amusing romantic fantasies in which the Gods and the Vikings learn first hand that modern day American women kick butt.

Harriet Klausner

Reader and Raelynx-Sharon Shinn

Reader and Raelynx
Sharon Shinn
Ace, Nov 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441014699

In the realm of Gillengaria in the capital city of Ghosenhall, King Boryn knows there is unrest in the Southern Houses especially by the Rayson Fortunalt, who wants to wear the crown. Hoping to avert a civil war, the monarch decides that his nineteen years old daughter Amalie should make an advantageous political marriage. When she meets with her suitors, guards are hidden nearby as well as the mystic Cammon, who reads the truth in the hearts of others.

As Cammon reads the intentions of Amalie suitors in order to root out the malevolent ones, he befriends the lonely princess. He feels for her being an expendable pawn of power as he sees inside her soul and knows how noble she truly is. When war comes to the land in spite of Boryn’s efforts, many lords turn traitorous with avaricious eyes on the throne. As Cam and Amalie fall in love, they risk their lives defending her father, her friends and the kingdom.

Sharon Shinn, known for her romantic fantasies, writes a beautiful adult fairy tale that readers will appreciate as they hope the apparent star-crossed wannabe lovers overcome the impossibility of forming a marital relationship. The kingdom of Gillengaria seems real even with magical elements considered part of the norm as the political backstabbing and in-fighting brings a sense of authenticity to the realm. Although the plot has been used often by genre writers, Ms. Shinn provides a vivid spellbinding addition to the superb Twelve Houses saga (see THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Darwinia-Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson
Orb (Tor), Sep 2007, $14.95
ISBN: 9780765319050

In 1912, war in Europe seems imminent when an alien realm Darwinia abruptly replaces Europe on planet earth. The United States is unconcerned with what has vanished; instead declares the cosmos event a Miracle and encourages colonization especially by the devout who believe this is God’s work to replace evil with good. Over the next few years a few struggling colonies settled mostly by religious fanatics are formed within the extraterrestrial forests.

In 1920 American creationist scientist Preston Finch leads an expedition to chart the New World. Boston photographer Guilford Law leaves wife Caroline and daughter Lily in New London as he joins the quest. However, the journey proves dangerous as outlaws and the strange alien wildlife attack them. However, it is the dreams and odd occurrences that frighten the participants. Guilford the photographer meets Guilford the dead WW I soldier before leaving Darwinia. In New London he learns that his family thought he died so they left to grieve in Australia. The other Guilford explains to the bewildered photographer that they are expendable military fodder protecting humanity in a universal war through time against demon controlled humans. When Darwinia came to earth to protect the enigmatic Archive from the Great War; hostility came with it to this time and place.

This extremely complex and convoluted alternate history thriller is a difficult tale to follow as the story line is not always linear especially when the scope widens laterally. Guilford the photographer is a fascinating lead character as his problems with his wife that seemed monumental before the expedition now appear molehill as he begins to understand what is happening on a global scale. Fans who prefer deep thought provoking thrillers will want to read this intricate tale as Guilford learns nothing is quite what it seems, not even demons.

Harriet Klausner

Patrimony-Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster
Berkley Nov 2007, $23.95 288 pp.
ISBN 9780345485076

For years Flinx has searched the galaxy for his father, a man who sympathized with the goals and experiments of the Meliorare society, a group involved in evil eugenics. Flinx is experiment 12A of the society, the only experiment not mind wiped. He has powerful empathy abilities and is unable to die. When he comes close to death an unknown trigger arranges a rescue for him so that he can find the Tar-Aiym weapons platform disguised as a brown dwarf that only he can use.

The weapon system is the only hope to stop the malevolence that is advancing beyond the Great Emptiness into Commonwealth space. Once it passes, everything in its path will be gone. Knowing all this Flinx and his minidrag Pip travel to Gestalt, a cold planet where his father might be staying. Avoiding a hitman and surviving near death experiences, he hopes to get the answers he has all his life tried to find.

After a couple of lateral tales, PATRIMONY, the thirteenth Pip and Flinx thriller moves the prime quest forward, answering one of the key questions that has haunted the protagonist for years and it sets the stage for the final countdown in this mind blowing science fiction series. The native society on Gestalt, the Tlels are one of the nicest species Flinx has ever met; as they co-exist peacefully with the humans on that planet. However, this entry belongs to Flinx as his saga takes a major leap forward.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cauldron-Jack McDevitt

Jack McDevitt
Ace, Nov 2007, $24.95
ISBN 9780441015252

Government sponsored interstellar flight research is a thing of the past as it proved to expensive; some private foundations provided limited funding to scientists, but by 2255 everyone knows that the dreams of the now defunct Academy of Science and technology are over.

That is until now when physicist Jon Silvestri insists he has found an efficient effective star drive. The Prometheus Foundation decides to fund his tests, which prove successful. The Foundation assigns Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins to join Jon and a crew on the Cauldron, whose mission is to learn what is inside the omega clouds at the core of the galaxy that is expanding outward and destroying other segments of the sector. However, the trip proves nonlinear as the Cauldron meet technologically impaired aliens, land on a deadly seemingly deserted planet, and is pulled towards a black hole.

Although a well written outer space thriller starring Hutch and a crew of eccentrics, the prime directive of the story line is penetrating the clouded core to learn what is going on, but that segue is given a short climatic coda no more than fifteen percent of the tale). Instead over eighty percent of the exciting story line involves the travel. Thus the audience will appreciate the superior writing as the crew of the cauldron goes where mankind has never been before, but is also disappointed in the omega cloud finish that proves faster than Silvestri’s star drive.

Harriet Klausner

Dog Days-John Levitt

Dog Days
John Levitt
Ace, Nov 2007, $6.99, 304 pp.
ISBN 9780441015535

Once Mason worked with other magic practitioners to police their own but he soon got tired of that and started playing guitar for a jazz band in San Francisco that needed a performer. He has Lou-, a semi-supernatural being called an ifret that looks like a wolf-dog who became attached to him and his music so he was reasonably content. One night after a gig, while walking to his car, a creature from a mural leaves the painting and attacks mason.

Mason defeats the creature and soon finds himself in a realm exactly like his own only without people. He finds red jewels there and with the help of his wolf totem, he escapes. Powerful mages Eli and Victor tell him there is something wrong magically in the area. One of their own was killed in what mortals believe was a hit and run. They come to the conclusion that a powerful magician is siphoning the power from other practitioners and Mason who saw the mage’s aura knows who he is. It will come down to him and Mason in a magical duel in which the guitarist knows that he must improvise or lose, which means the evil magician will have an open gig.

John Levitt has written an entertaining urban fantasy that is reminiscent of the Harry Dresden novels. The protagonist is powerful but is too impatient to be trained properly so he has to improvise which results in unusual magical solutions to counteract the spells sent against him. His dog Lou comprehends what he says and stays with him out of love as he steals much of the show with a superstar performance. The antagonist is so warped and crazy and what he is doing to get the jewels is so repugnant, readers will love to hate him while loving his opponent.

Harriet Klausner

Dancing With Werewolves-Carole Nelson Douglas

Dancing With Werewolves
Carole Nelson Douglas
Juno, Oct 2007, $6.99, 404 pp.
ISBN: 9780809572038

At the turn of the new Millennia, the Y2K crisis fizzles and the end of days never happened. What did occur is that the creatures of myth and legend including vampires, werewolves, witches and others came out into the open. Old timers think it is a hoax but youngsters, like twenty-something Delilah Street know these creatures are real. Having been raised in an orphanage, never adopted or fostered out, she learned to be self-sufficient and independent.

While watching television, she sees a doppelganger of herself down to the earring in her nose. She goes to Las Vegas and the producer Mr. Nightwine of the show mistakes her for Maggie; the corpse who has become a cult favorite. He provides Delilah a place to live on his estate while she tries to track her double down and she meets Ric Montrose, searching for dead bodies. When she douses with him they find new bodies wearing clothing at least sixty years old. She feels their last moments of life and learns she is a certain type of medium. Ric and Delilah are attracted to her but other people take an interest in her including Snow a vampire who encircles her arm with a bracelet formed of his hair and werewolf Cicerau who mistakes Delilah for her double and kidnaps her to be in his magic show. She uses her new found powers to escape and helps Ric identify the two dead lovers while trying to find out who she really is.

Carole Nelson Douglas leaves her Midnight Louie series to provide fans with an entertaining urban fantasy with that rivals that of Kim Harrison and Kelly Armstrong. The protagonist jumps from the frying pan into the fire as she tries to stay one step ahead of her enemies and those who want to use her. DANCING WITH WEREWOLVES is a mystical delight.

Harriet Klausner

Amberlight-Sylvia Kelso

Sylvia Kelso
Juno, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780809572052

Amberlight is a fairly populated city with a great amount of land and an even greater amount of wealth due to other nations buying slates of qherrique, a pearl gray stone found only in the city. Rulers use the precious stone to control the population of a country; however the power is finite so that the merchants have repeat business. The city is ruled by the Thirteen Houses which consist of women only as only females are in positions of authority and leadership.

Tellurith, head of an influential House, finds an unconscious obviously raped male. She takes him into her living quarters where he regains consciousness with a foreign salute although he has no memory as to who he is. Tel demands he confess who he is spying for; as he begins to recall things, she assumes he is a mercenary sent from an enemy who wants to control qherrique. Improbably they fall in love and for a few months Tel is happy. Her contentment is shattered the night the qherrique speaks to him and he vanishes probably to betray her to his employers.

AMBERLIGHT is a character driven fantasy that examines the culture of a matriarchal society in order to raise the issue of selling weapons of mass destruction (qherrique) to unscrupulous abusive rulers (foreign military sales to deadly despots like Hussein during the Reagan era or the present Mid East plan). The powerful plot also looks closely at the impact of rape with the twist that the male is the victim. Sylvia Kelso provides a colorfully refreshing tale starring two likable fully developed lead protagonists. Perhaps the only negative is the mystery of qherrique which remains for a future story.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 21, 2007

Gossamer Hall-Erin Samiloglu

Gossamer Hall
Erin Samiloglu
Medallion, Oct 2007, $7.95
ISBN: 9781932815894

Since he was a young child Juan Fuentes knew he had the special gift of making things out of thin air. This skill horrified his mother who sent her “evil” son away to be raised by a relativee. Juan currently attends Brookhaven College; where his history professor Dr. Hastings knows what the student can do and intends to exploit the teen in order to obtain the cache of gold that mass murderer Mad Maron hid.

Hastings arranges for a séance in his class, but before they can finish, an earthquake strikes. The deformed grotesque bodies of Mad Maron and his partners rise from the ground wanting to kill everyone in the classroom. Since they are already dead, they cannot die, but they can be distracted so that the students can escape. However, the dead men use the secrets of each pupil to induce them to come to them; only the strong willed can resists the lure.

This reads sort of like a slasher movie where many will die by choosing a foolish path. Readers will be hooked by wanting know who survives fighting the call of these two dead killers. There are plenty of action scenes but the gore is limited as the classmates try to outwit the homicidal deadly quartet. Fans get to know some of students as their plight grows nightmarishly worse with little hope to survive the reanimation ordeal.

Switchcraft-Mary Castillo

Mary Castillo
Avon, Oct 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 9780060876081

Married with an infant Nely Mendoza is the best friend of commitment phobia boutique owner Aggie Portero. Although their lifestyles are 180 degrees apart each to a degree envies what the other has. While Nely wipes the baby clean, Aggie kicks herself for sleeping with her neighbor Kevin. Both look forward to sharing a girls’ weekend together at Venatana de Oro spa where the highly regarded Guru Sauro practices his Seekers of the Dead mumbo jumbo.

However at the spa the “grumpy Guru”, tired of their whining, believes the two best friends need a kick in the butt to learn that each lives a rich fulfilling life. He performs SWITCHCRAFT so that Aggie’s conscience resides inside Nely’s body and visa versa as Nely’s is inside that of Aggie. Now Aggie deals with Nely’s baby, her needy husband Simon, and her sarcastic mother-in-law, while Nely manages Aggie’s boutique and keeping Kevin on the other side of the fence.

Switching bodies has been used in many books and movies, but Mary Castillo makes it feels fresh because the audience obtains a deep introspective look inside the souls of the two prime characters as Nely and Aggie learn that the grass on the other side of the fence might be brown under close inspection. The story line is amusing as each of the switcheroos struggle with living their best friend’s life. Readers will appreciate the latest New Age reincarnation of switch.

Harriet Klausner

In the Cities of Coin and Spice-Catherynne M. Valente

In the Cities of Coin and Spice
Catherynne M. Valente
Bantam, Nov 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780553384048

In THE NIGHT GARDEN of the sultan, the nameless female exile, whose eyelids are tattooed with stories, continues to tell tales to the heir. As the boy sits in rapture listening to the saga of seven, the seventh son of a seventh son, his family prepares the palace for his sister’s wedding.

On his seventh birthday, Seven awakens to find himself with other children, many of whom are dead in a city of garbage; the other residents are inhuman wraith like creatures, but they are not part of this tale. The foreman directs the children including Seven to an abyss under the ground where they slave at the Mint, a machine that transforms the bones of the dead children into coin. As the years pass, he and his friend Oubliette (a hybrid cow, tree and human) plan to escape their enslaved incarceration by converting the arm of Seven into a dozen coins. They succeed, but over time are separated. With his last coin he buys passage one way for one from a skeletal boatman to take him across a lake where his beloved Oubliette is imprisoned.

Perhaps the most complex fantasies around, the second of the Orphan's Tales is much more intricately interwoven than that described above as there are so many delightful sidebars going on; yet with all that Catherynne M. Valente spins a perfect double helix. Readers who appreciate multifaceted entertaining stories will cherish IN THE CITIES OF COIN AND SPICE as well as its predecessor THE NIGHT GARDEN as these delightful renditions of Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights are incredibly creative and enjoyable.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Coyote Season-Michael Bergey

Coyote Season
Michael Bergey
Five Star, Nov 2007, $25.95, 280 pp.
ISBN 9781594146107

Coyote the trickster is in his animal form in this incarnation learning about the human magic of science so when he passes over he will have a new tool to use. He doesn’t remember how to do magic or much before this birth but he has humans to trust like Mooney, John, and Mouse and he has cubs with Lazytail in a mating. He has five spirit children living with him at all times and they have his memories and magic but don’t tell him how to use the magic or what he did in previous lives.

Coyote learns the Iron Song which has the affect of making metal rust and he used it on a farmer’s tractor totally destroying the metal but leaving the other parts in tact. The CIA learns of this and arrives to figure out who has such a weapon. They take over the farmer’s home leaving Coyote and his crew sniffing around for information. Unknown to Coyote, he is heard talking to Mouse and agent Rick Molina believes that coyote can help and intends to use him. Coyote embarks on a series of dangerous adventures to get around those who would use his magic. These include government agents a magic practitioner who uses spells on the dark side to a demon. If he can remain free he has important information to tell the American government about Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

This is a very creative urban fantasy that centers on a unique protagonist, a trickster Totem spirit who did some very bad things in his past lives and has an evil reputation because of it. In this life, he tries so hard to be good yet trouble seems to follow him like a plague but he always acts with honor and he knows how to love and not give in to mischief. The various spirit realms he visits in his attempts to escape enemies are well developed so that readers obtain a full Native American mythos in a modern day setting.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Magic-Matthew Cook

Blood Magic
Matthew Cook
Juno, Oct 2007, $6.99, 264 pp.
ISBN 9780809572007

She was brought up to be a lady and to make a good match but when her twin falls in love and marries the drunken womanizing Marcus; she insists her twin marry his best friend. Both women are brutalized by their spouses but where Kirin accepts it her sister learns blood magic from the local herbwoman. When Marcus kills her Kirin while in a drunken stupor assumes her identity and using her blood magic to suck the life out of him and brings it into her.

She runs away from her village using the dead who obey her command until they crumble into dust. Her magic is taboo by the other religions but Kirin ignores their pious mouthing and does what she needs to do in order to survive. The Mor, monstrous creatures, emerge from their caves and underground tunnels to make war on humanity as they do every few decades. Kirin becomes a scout in the Imperial Army and she watches five thousand soldiers killed by five hundred Mor. She aids the refuges healing with blood magic even though Brother Ato condemns her and Element Master of Air Lia Cho tries to support her even if she doesn’t approve of the use of blood magic. However, that might be the only way humanity can defeat the Mor although the people she is trying to save won’t accept her methods.

BLOOD MAGIC is a spellbinding sword and sorcery tale about a young woman who goes from an innocent girl to a person who kills when she needs to survive or when helping people who scorn and fear her when she helps them against a common enemy. It hurts her not to be accepted for what she is but she knows she is not evil and does what she thinks is right although many question whether the means is acceptable even if the end is saving humanity. The Mor remains an unknown quantity as people (and readers) don’t what motivates them. This is the first book in what looks to be a fantastic fantasy series.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Down and Dirty-Sandra Hill

Down and Dirty
Sandra Hill
Berkley, Oct 2007
ISBN: 9780425217931

Zachary “Pretty Boy” Floyd does not care what the brass does to him for breaking laws when he went to Afghanistan to bring his young son Sammy, who prefers Samir, back to the States with him; his only remorse was that he did not know about his offspring sooner. However, he expects a harsh punishment, but feels his sentence is cruel and inhuman; he is assigned to train the newly formed WEALS, women SEALS.

One of his students Zach previously met (see ROUGH AND READY) is muscular Norsewoman Britta, who actually traveled from the eleventh century to join the modern day US Navy. He prefers her to be his son’s babysitter although their attraction is hot enough to evaporate the Pacific Ocean, Britta fears she is returning back in time while Samir’s grandfather, a Taliban butcher with a false religious face Mullah Ahmed Arsalah plans to return Samir to his “hidey-hole” in Afghanistan and kill the boy’s American father (and anyone else who gets in the way) while doing so.

The latest Viking time travel romance is an entertaining tale that is at its best when either Samir or Britta rips off the skin of Zach with their acerbic lip. The suspense subplot with the Mullah and his men is well written, but does not compare to the vicious tongues that the hero faces. Fans of the series will enjoy the return of previous lead couples, but DOWN AND DIRTY belongs to the changing triangular relationships between the lead trio, as seen first hand from changing perspectives.

Harriet Klausner

Empyre-Josh Conviser

Josh Conviser
Del Rey, Nov 2007, $13.95
ISBN 9780345485038

Five years has past since CIA agents Ryan Laing and Sarah Peters destroyed the global manipulating ECHELON. Ryan and Sarah moved on separately with both leaving the agency after the ECHELON affair; he climbs mountains on all seven continents and she seeks to be more his equal with nanotechnological enhancements.

However, neither is aware that ECHELON survived their destruction of it by metamorphosing into EMPYRE. Newville Phoenix turns Sarah into a plague carrier, who devastates the much of the staff of EMPYRE and the CIA. As she continues her path of destruction, EMPYRE Chief Dillon sends CIA agent Frank Savakis after her. Frank captures Ryan and tortures him in order to force him to reveal the whereabouts of Sarah, who he shares a link with. Ryan escapes, but hunts Sarah who he fears turned into a murderous traitor that he must kill before she spreads her plague elsewhere.

If there are flaws in the story line (like some of the technology seems a too convenient stretch), no one will care while reading it except for nitpicking critics like moi. The story line makes DC’s Flash look like the Turtle as the action never decelerates for a nanosecond. However, as with the previous tale ECHELON it is the Big Brother tone of the plot that lingers with readers long after finishing this faster than the speed of light science fiction conspiracy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Girls That Growl-Mari Mancusi

Girls That Growl
Mari Mancusi
Berkley, Oct 2007
ISBN: 9780425217160

Goth girl Rayne McDonald has the worst of both worlds as she is a vampire slayer who recently became a vampire. Rayne has enough to deal with her Sunny sister, her mom, and their respective boyfriends Magnus and David. Finally adding to her already raging hormonal confusion is her dark nocturnal vampire boyfriend Jareth who has become a Beach Boy surfer.

However, now Rayne’s slayer handler orders her to perform her most dangerous complex mission to date. She must go undercover as a cheerleader in order to investigate the disappearance of two football players that Rayne thought should have been sacked. Apparently the only suspects are the cheerleaders, whom she must interrogate; but to the squad members one must letter in sports to be a cheerleader. Using what a teen does best: extortion; she gets on the team, but realizes her new teammates are weirder than vampires riding the surf in sunlight without proper lotion.

As with BOYS THAT BITE and STAKE THAT!, GIRLS THAT GROWL is an amusing teenage vampire tale starring a fascinating high school student who believes her current assignment is too dangerous as no outsider wants to join the in cheerleader squad. The story line is fast-paced, but focuses on the rain in Rayne’s life as she has sibling issues, mommy troubles (even lost her bedroom to mom’s latest boy toy), her own boyfriend tsuris, but worst is dealing with the squad. Young adults will enjoy growling along side of this vampire slayer who has no time left for homework.

Harriet Klausner

Moon Fever-Susan Sizemore, Maggie Shayne, Lori Handeland and Caridad Pineiro

Moon Fever
Susan Sizemore, Maggie Shayne, Lori Handeland and Caridad Pineiro
Pocket, Oct 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416514909

"Tempting Fate” by Susan Sizemore. Desiree Gill thought her delightful sexual encounter with vampiric rock star Jon Coyote was a fantasy until the truth proves otherwise as she is carrying his offspring.

"The Darkness Within" by Maggie Shayne. Caroline Connelly hires private investigator Johnny Lipton to help her solve the mystery of the ghost that haunts her new home while she wonders if her ex-spouse Shawn is behind the “supernatural”.

"Cobwebs Over the Moon” by Lori Handeland. Werewolves stalk Carly Kelly whose hope to not be torn apart is soldier Dylan Shepard.

"Crazy for the Cat” by Caridad Pineiro. Deep in the Amazon, Javier da Costa guides scientist Jessica Morales only to find danger under every bush.

Readers will fully enjoy biting into these four thrilling paranormal romances that run the gamut of the supernatural.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lover Unbound-J.R. Ward

Lover Unbound
J.R. Ward
Signet, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451222350

Raised in a dysfunctional environment by a sadistic sire, Vishous AKA V has always been different starting with his glowing hand. His father hated him before he was born and showed his disdain by torturing him while raising him alone. Eventually V learned why his sire treated him as crap; his mother is the Scribe Virgin goddess. She demands he fulfill his destiny as the Primale, who will impregnate the Chosen one; instead of wasting his time as a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood of vampire warriors fighting the Lessening Society of Slayers in Caldwell, New York

Rushed to the hospital near death, trauma surgeon Dr. Jane Whitcomb miraculously saves the life of V. As he recuperates, he insists she leave the hospital for her safety from the forces of the dark ones. However, as V has finally fallen in love for the first in his tormented life and has someone to live for, his mother the Scribe Virgin warns him to do his duty or his beloved will suffer for eternity.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood “Lover” fantasy thrillers (see LOVER REVEALED, LOVER AWAKENED and LOVER ETERNAL) have been consistently some of the best the sub-genre has to offer. However, the latest saga is the finest of the series to date. V is an incredible protagonist who comes from the poster-parents of abuse, who for the first time finds someone who cherishes him for his sake yet must give her up to keep her safe. J.R. Ward has cursed her audience as this 500 hundred plus page turner will keep readers up late into the night.

Harriet Klausner

Sorcery and the Single Girl-Mindy Klasky

Sorcery and the Single Girl
Mindy Klasky
Red Dress, Oct 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373895632

Before the local Georgetown coven accepts her as a witch, Jane Madison must perform a creditable deed worthy of this skilled group. She knows she is not ready, but keeps studying the GIRL’S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT for the day she can prove herself.

Meanwhile as she struggles with her training as wannabe sorceress single swinger, Jane also has relationship issues with her best friend and her mother. However, her new boyfriend makes her feel good about herself yet is also lacking. Finally as she practices for a Halloween performance, her world crashes down on her as those who care about her no longer know her since her priorities changed

The second Jane coming of age fantasy (see GIRL’S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT) is an enjoyable tale that will be enhanced by reading the previous book first as the audience will be able to gauge how far (or little) the heroine has come in meeting her objective. Readers will enjoy Jane’s efforts to be good enough to be accepted by the local coven and how her endeavor causes friction with her best friend and her mother as wiggling noses bewitches no one in Mindy Klasky’s humorous whimsical tale.

Harriet Klausner

Kris Long Knife Audacious-Mike Shepherd

Kris Long Knife Audacious
Mike Shepherd
Ace, Nov 2007, $7.99, 384 pp.
ISBN: 9780441015412

After numerous assassination attempts, Princess Kris Longknife, a Lieutenant in the Wardhaven navy plans to do a little business and get some rest and relaxation on the planet New Eden. Almost as soon as she lands an attempt is made on her life and efforts to get assistance from her computer implant were jammed. This was thought to be impossible and the last time it happened her family’s enemies were involved.

The attempt on her life makes it on the news and she learns after some digging that New Eden is not as productive and peaceful as it is supposed to be. New Eden journalists are forbidden from reporting negative stories, a large part of the population is forbidden to vote and there is much crime but nobody hears of it. She discovers Victoria is on the planet and she blames Kris for killing her brother. In the course of dealing with another assassination attempt, a large cache of weapons is found by Kris’ troops. Something big is going to happen on New Eden and Kris will find herself, her marines and other allies in the middle of it.

Mike Shepherd is a fantastic storyteller who excels at writing military science fiction. His protagonist is a strong willed independent thinker who does what she thinks is best for humanity even if it means not adhering to planetary law. Human life is very precious to her and those people in her inner circle who play roles in the storyline. There is plenty of action and tension as this is a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience for science fiction fans.

Harriet Klausner

The Sagittarius Command-R.M. Meluch

The Sagittarius Command
R.M. Meluch
Daw, Nov 2007, $23.95, 366 pp.
ISBN: 9780756404574

The old Roman Empire never really died it just went underground placing its people in positions of power. When mankind colonized the stars, the Roman Empire now called the Palatine Empire broke away from Earth’s control and established a new empire that became an implacable enemy of Earth especially America. When the Hive; an alien life form who knows only hunger begins eating away at Roman Colony planets, Captain John Farragut of the Merrimack negotiated the Subjugation.

Roman forces are under the command of Farragut for as long as the crisis lasts but the Hive is a formidable opponent eating everything on a planet until that orb can no longer support life. It is discovered where the Hive is and the human life form that lies safely on one of the planets in the Sagittarius sector is believed to be an enemy of Rome who thought they destroyed him. He resonates on the Hive harmony and is directing them to planets he wants them to devour. Farragut hopes to find out how he is doing it and destroy the Hive before any more planets full of people are destroyed.

R.M. Meluch is a creative writer of outer space military fiction. The action starts in the first chapter and never lets up until the last page is turned. The cast is fully developed especially those characters on the Merrimack so readers obtain a character driven military thriller that takes place for the most part aboard the space ship. The third book in this exciting series, THE SAGITTARIUS COMMAND continues to fascinate as audience will thoroughly enjoy trying to figure out what the Hive actually is.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reserved for the Cat-Mercedes Lackey

Reserved for the Cat
Mercedes Lackey
Daw, Nov 2007, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756403621

Growing up poor Ninette Dupond’s mother made sure her offspring would be accepted by the Paris Opera Ballet in Montmartre. She now hopes to find a wealthy a wealthy patron. Ninette loves to dance and is given the starring role in La Sylphide when the lead hurt her ankle. She attracts the interest of the star’s paramour, but that leads to her being fired with no money to pay for food or her rent. A cat telepathically tells her that he was sent by her father, an Elemental Master to help her.

The stray persuades Ninette to go to Blackpool, England pretending to be the famous Russian ballerina Nina Tchereslavsky, who they will say vanished during a ship wreck. The dancehall her feline guide escorts her to is run by an Elemental Master of Air while his closest friend, a magician is an Elemental Master of Fire. They accept her and protect her while Ninette tries hard to fit in. Nobody is aware that the real Nina knows about the impersonator and is furious plotting revenge for stealing her name and reputation. Nina is an Earth Elemental who got freed of her Master and likes living on the mortal plane; she intends to keep doing so by absorbing humans in order to take over their form and intellect. Assimilating Ninette is the perfect disguise as the pretender has already taken up her role.

The Elemental novels are beautiful romantic adult fairy tales. RESERVED FOR THE CAT contains a wicked villainess who makes the Snow White Queen seem benevolent, a courageous cat to rival Puss n Boots, and a fine brave heroine in peril (take your pick). Ninette is a strong willed intrepid individual who believes she must actively help in her defense. Master magician Mercedes lackey writes a charming fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Chronicles of the Black Company-Glen Cook

Chronicles of the Black Company
Glen Cook
Tor, Nov 2007, $15.95
ISBN: 9780765319234

“The Black Company”. The Black Company is a troop of mercenaries who know the risks they take on all their missions especially whenever they inter one of their comrades, which is frequent. They exclusively serve the great malevolent sorceress Lady. However, their assignment has changed as rumors abound of the rebirth of the good White Rose; they must kill this possible reincarnation of a long dead savior before the Prophesy takes affect, but first they must find her while also slaughtering those who protect her.

“Shadows Linger”. The Black Company still works for the evil Lady as honor means adhering to their contract with her even when many of these soldiers know they fight for the wrong side. They prepare for the latest skirmish with the rabble and those they assume are false prophesy followers allegedly defending the White Rose. However, a twist of fate has occurred as the Black Company rescue a mute girl who brings with her the light of goodness; she is the White Rose.

“The White Rose”. The Black Company has changed sides now that they have met the White Rose. On the Plains of Fear they prepare to battle their former employer the immoral Lady. However, once again fate takes a spin when the most lethal vilest creature ever known, the Dominator is reborn.

This omnibus collection of the three 1980s Black Company military fantasy saga will please fans of Glen Cook as these are well written exciting tales that were one of the first (if not the premier) series to use real war horrors and atrocities inside a fantasy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hooked-Jane May

Jane May
Kensington, Oct 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758213624

In Miami, twenty-eight years old assistant dock master at the luxurious Trade Winds Yacht Club Clarence "Woody" Woods lives with his aunt and drives a dilapidated truck. He was never conscious of his status until he meets Romanian waitress Madalina Dragoi at the Spinnaker Café as love has turned his six foot frame into the size of a pea. However, she treats him like a friendly customer while seemingly wanting affluent club member Todd Hollings who sees her as a fine “piece of ass”.

Former used car dealer Raymond Prince was caught cheating by his irate wife Sandy; he knew his life was changed forever, but not how much as he now swims with the fish as the Prince of the sea. He meets Woody and tells him that he can grant any wish the man wanted. Soon Woody owns a new car and a mansion where Madalina resides. When she demands he order his talking fish to provide them with much more material luxuries, Woody fears bankruptcy of the heart more than finance.

This is an entertaining modern day adult rendition of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale .The Fisherman and His Wife. The lighthearted and amusing story line contains moral lessons as the cast learn lessons in relationships of all kinds such as Woody finds out the hard way not to think with his woody while Prince is a Brooklyn version of Mr. Limpet wondering how to get Sandy to forgive him for his unzippered moment. Readers will be HOOKED by Jane May’s humorous irreverent tale of sometimes you get what you wish for but that is never enough.

Harriet Klausner

Fate Fantastic-Martin H. Greenberg and Daniel M. Hoyt (Editors)

Fate Fantastic
Martin H. Greenberg and Daniel M. Hoyt (Editors)
Daw, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN 9780756404406

The premise of this collection is the role of fate as a hero and or villain is destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy whether they want to or not. Whereas some individuals embrace their destiny as being on an absolute level with “Death and Taxes” (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch), others follow Jonah trying to flee even “The Final Choice” (by Irene Radford) of Death under the premise of free will. The sixteen entries that make up FATE FANTASY are all quite good with a few being excellent. The best short tale perhaps of the year is the Kabala gambling edge of “Approaching Sixty” by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. With a fantasist who’s who, fans are fated to read this excellent anthology; as read in their bones as the prime “Choice of the Oracles” (by Kate Paulk) or was that the “Prophecy of Symon the Inept” (by Rebecca Lickiss).

Harriet Klausner

Demon's Kiss-Eve Silver

Demon's Kiss
Eve Silver
Forever, Oct 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446618922

Twenty years ago sorcerer Ciarran D'Arbois intervened when a child was dying. His assistance enabled the child Clea Master to “steal” Ciarran’s magic to heal herself. Having lost some of his power led to a demon injuring Ciarran.

Over the next two decades Ciarran has struggled to control the demonic darkness disease that is overwhelming his soul while he and his peers believe the layer separating demons from humans has been torn. However, even more shocking is the demonic horde attacks on Clea; Ciarran saves her life, but wonders why her and whether he will eventually abet the enemy who is growing inside him by betraying the girl he saved and now the woman he loves.

DEMON’S KISS is an original Silver, but romantic fantasy readers will know it is pure gold as the opening gamut of Compact of Sorcerers brotherhood series. The story line is fast-paced but driven by the changing “triangular” relationship between Clea, Ciarran, and the demonic disease inside the hero. Fans will feel his internal torture as a Janus who loves and needs to protect Clea yet also increasingly desires to destroy her. Clea, for much of the tale, is an enigma as the mystery is why her. This is a great tale from a writer who must be a mage as her novels entice human readers to become deeply involved.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 14, 2007

Unveiling the Sorceress-Saskia Walker

Unveiling the Sorceress
Saskia Walker
Juno, Aug 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780809557813

The Emperor of Aleem and the Empress of Karseedia sign a friendship alliance between their nations. Besides ending the war between them, the key coda to affirm their serious adherence to the treaty and as a final binding is the agreement that his daughter Elishiba and her son Hanrah will marry. Although Elishiba does not wish to wed the stranger who just became emperor, she knows her duty to her people must come first and if marriage prevents further hostilities so that her people can prosper in safety so be it; still she hopes to negotiate with her future spouse.

Meanwhile the Council of the Gods is worried about the unrest in the exotic lands inadvertently caused by a bored rogue member Hurda. The Godsend Amshazar is assigned to unravel the mess and return things to what they were before Hurda’s women’s rights interference. As Elishiba quickly learns the power of the Karseedia throne resides totally with her future mother-in-law as Hanrah is her ineffective childish puppet, she meets and falls in love with Amshazar; he feels as strongly about her. However, their respective missions appear to leave these star-crossed lovers as adversaries.

This is a terrific romantic fantasy in which the key players seem genuine especially the heroine who finds herself struggling with layers of political intrigue and Machiavellian manipulations by the Empress, the Godsend she loves, and even her father. If she chooses Amshazar she will have to obey the Empress; something she does not seem capable of doing. Readers will appreciate this strong tale as the magical elements enhance the deviousness of mortals and Gods to get others to do their bidding; welcome to Walker world.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mister B. Gone-Clive Barker

Mister B. Gone
Clive Barker
Harper Collins, Nov 2007, $24.95,248 pp.
ISBN 9780060182984

When the reader opens the book, the demon Jakabob Botch who is trapped insides begs his audience to burn the book so his miserable existence can come to an end. He begs, cajoles and entices before he finally begins the story of his life in the hope that such a gift will be sufficient for the reader to accept his fiery wishes.

He was born in the ninth circle of Hell to a wife beating drunkard married to a demon whore. When his Momma finds his journal pages where he writes what he would like to do to those who hurt him, she burns them and he falls into the blaze burning his eyelids, nose mouth and leaving scars on his visage. His father tries to kill him but both are trapped and taken to the World Above. Abused by his Pappy before they reach it, Mr. B. kills his Pappy and then escapes from those who want to use him before they sell him. He meets with the demon Quitoon who is masquerading as a knight and together they perpetuate great evil in the world. It is when Quitoon decides they should go to the Guttenberg home in Mainz in 1439 that Mr. B. learns of a secret concerning heaven and hell. Both sides don’t want him talking about it leading to the demon’s troubles becoming insurmountable.

The demon mythos as espoused by Clive Barker’s MISTER B GONE is fascinating. The ninth circle of Hell is garbage ooze below even the demonic food chain where the most unrepentant and incorrigible demons and sinners abide. The only demons with power and near immortal are those born by a mating between Lucifer and one of the First Fallen. Mr. B. is an enticing antagonist, so evil and beguiling that readers want to know his story. This is the perfect book to either read or burn on Halloween Night because it frighteningly centers on the charm of unrepentant evil.

Harriet Klausner

A War of Gifts-Orson Scott Card

A War of Gifts
Orson Scott Card
Tor, Nov 2007, $12.95, 128 pp.
ISBN: 9780765312822

Zack Morgan is in his dad’s church listening to his father preach when a man enters and forces him to go with him to his house where he will be tested to see if he is qualified to attend Battle School. Zack is a pacifist, indoctrinated in his father’s religion by the whip marks on his back. Tests show he has the brilliance needed and wanted to attend the school. He promises the testers he will go but he won’t fight.

He keeps that promise and preaches at the slightest opportunity although most of the students passively ignore him. When a Dutch student gives a gift to another Dutch boy in the name of Sinterklaas, Zack reports it because he knows that it is forbidden to practice religion in Battle School due to the belief that is to divisive. Christians start exchanging gifts in the name of Santa Claus but when the Muslims begin praying in public they are arrested. The Christians stop exchanging gifts and life goes back to normal except that Zack is treated as a Judas pariah. Ender Wiggin takes matters into his own hands.

For such a small novella, the story line is loaded with social themes including religion and how it is practiced, parental abuse, eliminating things like religious practices so that the students learn to fight as a group with no divisiveness to split them apart and weaken morale. Zack is a master manipulator who goaded the Muslims into praying in public because he had a desperate need to get home. Orson Scott Card has written a powerful tale that transcends age and makes a perfect holiday gift.

Harriet Klausner

The Cipher-Diana Pharaoh Francis

The Cipher
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Roc, Nov 2007, $7.99
ISBN 9780451461797

As a member of the royal family Lucy Trenton hides her skill from her relatives in order to remain safe. Besides the scandal that would devastate the Rampling even if she is so distant from the throne that she should not matter and the connection seems nebulous; she fears she would be a pawn if anyone learned she can detect magical artifacts and mages.

Occasionally she errs by using her talent to locate missing magical items, but normally recovers fast enough to conceal what she did. When she finds the missing Cipher, however this time she cannot cover up her activity that may lead to a magical disaster for the royals, the kingdom, and at a minimum her. She must hide the Cipher and herself with her only hope being the assistance of her current suitor, Marten Thorpe, but Lucy does not trust this ship captain as she assumes he has an agenda and if he learns what she harbors he will betray her; yet she desperately turns to him.

Lucy as a woman in peril turns this intriguing fantasy into a delightful read. She mentally beats herself up for her error in judgment as she has spent her life hiding her skills to avoid being the center of a scandal. She knows she might become the Butterfly of Chaos Theory. The romance between her and the grumpy Trenton is atypical as his wooing techniques fail, but his seafaring skills make him her only hope to weather the storm and prevent it from turning into a tsunami. Genre fans will enjoy Diana Pharaoh Francis’ fine character driven saga as Lucy learns any “Path” she chooses is at best personally disastrous.

Harriet Klausner

Wind Follower-Carole Mcdonnell

Wind Follower
Carole Mcdonnell
Juno, Oct 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780809557790

Death and constant grief are all that Satha has seen in her young life as her impoverished clan the Theseni has suffered severely during the forty year war caused by the superior outsiders. Now she has left her ever weeping despondent mother behind to journey across the land to that of the affluent Doreni clan where she marries Loic, son of the king's First Captain. He has the skill of reading souls and tries to bring some solace to his sorrowful spouse, whom he loves and cherishes.

As she begins to loves her gentle husband; a serpentine betrayal from a trusted friend occurs. Loic knows he must avenge their honor, but his love for Satha has turned to loathing for what he believes she caused. While on his quest to regain what he blames Satha for losing, the Arkhai spirits doom him to fail for fear he is the one to bring the Creator back to the country that they control. While he is gone, Satha has no defenders; she is sold into slavery to the abusive religiously right Angleni clan. The Creator is there for this dysfunctional couple struggling with danger and despondency; but each must reach out to the Creator if they are to spiritually heal.

This intense African romantic historical fantasy vividly brings to life the interrelationships between the three tribal clans as well as the effect of the outside forces. Thus the audience receives a complex tale of broken love and potential redemption in which the backdrop is a war torn land and on a metaphysical plane the spirits interfere with the lead couple while the Creator encourages them to find paradise lost. Carole Mcdonnell writes a powerful character driven (not just by humans) epic parable, which depending on what the pair separately do could turn into a great Greek (albeit African) tragedy or a second coming.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 10, 2007

When All Seems Lost-William C. Dietz

When All Seems Lost
William C. Dietz
Ace, Nov 2007, $24.95
ISBN 9780441015245

The interstellar war with the ruthless Ramanthians remains heated as the vicious insectoid race fights to the death with no rules except to win. They physically overwhelm their opponents on the battlefield by accepting mass deaths on their side in order to subjugate as slaves any survivors of their pandemic slaughter.

The Ramanthians are unaware they captured President Marcott Nankool, the head of their strongest adversary, Confederacy of Sentient Beings. They send him to a labor camp where the POWs slave until they wish to die before they become food for the billions of hatchlings. One of Nankool’s incarcerated aids, human diplomat Christine Vanderveen knows that any one of his loyal supporters could give away the president’s identity in exchange for better conditions, which means death. She will kill anyone who might betray the president.

Ambitious Vice President Leo Jakov orders the military to do nothing as he insists Nankool is dead and he is the president. However, Legion General William Booly ignores the unimpressive buffoon and assigns Captain Antonio Santana to lead a volunteer suicidal rescue mission that Tonio accepts because his beloved Christine is one of the prisoners.

William Dietz is known for his action-packed graphic military science fiction thrillers (see FOR MORE THAN GLORY and FOR THOSE WHO FELL). His latest Legion of the Damned novel is all that, but much more as the author uses the conflict to enable fans to look deeply inside the various cultures. As expected, the Ramanthians are the most interesting as their society accepts the loss of millions in combat. The human and other alien prisoners form a prisoner group that initially bands around keeping Nankool safe; but becoming hatchery food makes everyone reconsider. The military and the politicians also have contrasting subgroups, as the politicos are self serving while the military are heroic. Mr. Dietz’s legions of fans will appreciate WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Atlantis Awakening-Alyssa Day

Atlantis Awakening
Alyssa Day
Berkley, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425217962

In Seattle, Atlantean warriors Ven, Brennan and Alexios battle vampires when a peer Christophe arrives with a message from Ven’s older brother King Conlon. His Highness wants his sibling to represent the Seven Isles of Atlantis at a meeting with the witches of the Circle of Light; the topic being an alliance against the vamps.

As Ven impatiently awaits the wizard he is to meet at a pub, he prays his brother and pregnant sister-in-law Riley an emotional empath has plenty of babies so he is not close in line to the throne. A witch Erin Connors arrives to discuss a quest that no one else seems to want to join her on. Ven touches her causing the wilding music to start. Erin struggles to control it while Ven stunned flees to Atlantis to see High priest Alaric to learn what did occur. However, Erin telepathically calls him back as she is in trouble. He returns and with the help of Drakos the vampire stops two witches from harming Erin. Drakos warns Ven that Caligula wants Erin before fleeing. Three witches arrive to take charge of Erin so Ven leaves for Atlantis where Alaric tells him Erin is a mythical gem singer. Erin and Ven have begun their adventures in love, in trying to rescue her sister and stopping Caligula and the evil Goddess Anubisa.

This exciting epic fantasy will grip the audience because of the courageous lead couple as neither is prepared for love. However, the key to this superior tale is that the various paranormal species such as Goddesses, Atlanteans and vampires and human witches all seem genuine and the myriad of subplots tie together in the final confrontation, but also set up the next tale. Although readers might doubt that a certain person has been a traitor for a decade with no one aware of it, fans will not doubt how good the Atlantis series is.

Harriet Klausner

Host-Faith Hunter

Faith Hunter
Roc, Nov 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451461735

The Apocalypse occurred over a century ago reducing the human population by six billion. Seraphs sent by the Most High monitor and control human and neo-mages behavior. The neo-mages were born from mothers pregnant before the first plagues happened and survived the Last Days. Neo-mages are said to be born without souls; abandoned by the Most High and they can manipulate creation energy to produce what looks like magical results.

Even though the Most High has forsaken the neo-mages, Thorn St. Croix from Mineral City, Carolina has risked her life protecting the townsfolk from the fallen Seraph called the Dragon, who is second in command of the Fallen’s armies. He tried to escape and Thorn and company went down to his hellhole and fought one of the Dragon’s minions and contained him.. The containment has not lasted and soon demon spawn and other Fallen invade the town. Thorn battles them with the help of the townsfolk who accept her as their protector. The Dragon uses energies from the battle to cut off the town and Thorn knows it is a matter of time before the enemy breaks free and tries to bury the town. She is their only hope if she can stay alive and fulfill the prophecy.

Even though she supposedly has no soul, Thorn fights for humans against the Dark as if she is the one facing final destruction from neo-mages and fallen Seraphs; readers will admire her sacrifice placing others before herself. Thorn is alarmed when a Seraph insists she is the one who is the key in the ongoing war. Although prophecies are an overused device in apocalypse thrillers, fans will enjoy reading about the continuing end of days.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Devour-Melina Morel

Melina Morel
Signet, Oct 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451222510

Paul DuJardin plans to expose fellow Frenchman Pierre du Montfort as a werewolf in a book he is writing. Once he outs Pierre, he feels he and his werewolf slaying partner Catherine Marais will be able to kill the shapechanger. However, Pierre, who has always been able to hide his beastly side with a sophisticated veneer from the purebreds, is outraged that the hunter is outing him and plans to act accordingly.

Meanwhile in New York a werewolf is on the rampage with Pierre the prime suspect in the killings. However, their superior tells Paul and Catherine to bring Pierre in alive. For Paul that is made more difficult because he fears the raging werewolf will go after the woman he is falling in love with Professor Julie Buchanan. For Catherine killing the last Montfort werewolf is what she has lived for until she meets two hundred years old vampire Ian Morgan.

Although there are two romantic subplots, DEVOUR is more a paranormal horror thriller as Paul and Catherine know the rampaging werewolf must be stopped. The kills are graphic so don’t eat before reading this exciting High Noon like tale; reader will anticipate the confrontation between the evil werewolf and the dedicated hunters while wondering whose side the vampire is on; whereas the professor is a pawn or is she in the final altercation. Melina Morel provides a fast-paced horror story that werewolf fans will want to read.

Harriet Klausner

The Nightmare Factory Based on the Works by Thomas Ligotti

The Nightmare Factory Based on the Works by Thomas Ligotti
Stuart Moore, Joe Harris, Colleen Doran, Ben Templesmith, Ted McKeever, and Michael Gaydos
Atomic Fox Comics (Harper), Sep 2007, $17.99
ISBN: 9780061243530

“The Last Feast of Harlequin” by Stuart Moore (writer) and Colleen Doran (art). The anthropologist hid behind the clown’s mask to attend pre-Lenten rituals and festivals. At a winter carnival in Miracaw he will witness and participate in sacrifice to wormy beasts that would give Lovecraft nightmares.

“Dream of a Mannikin” by Stuart Moore (writer) and Ben Templesmith (art). At her first visit to the psychiatrist, Amy Locher tells him about her nightmare that brings the doc into her horrific “realm”.

“Doctor Locrian’s Asylum” by Joe Harris (writer) and Ted McKeever (art). The Shire County Asylum looms over everything in the town though it has been closed for years. Everyone remains haunted by the largest gloomiest edifice not just due to its ghastly shape and size; friends and family spent time there and though shut some might still stalk its halls.

"Teatro Grottesco" by Joe Harris (writer) and Michael Gaydos (art). No one knows exactly why or when the Teatro Grottesco will show up in a town although there is a link to underground artists disconnected with the locals. However, when this theater of the absurd arrives, it sucks away the inspirations and aspirations of artists before continuing its macabre tour.

These four Thomas Ligotti’s tales are converted into graphic comics that do justice to the horror writer, who provides introductions to each. The obvious link to Lovecraft is throughout each work, but fans will recognize Mr. Ligotti has his own spin to the Lovecraftian tale. The art by four different artists is well done, but there are distinct differences in style, which add freshness to the overall book. However, in the end it is the adaptations by Stuart Moore and Joe Harris that pay home to Mr. Ligotti.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 7, 2007

Blood is the New Black-Valerie Stivers

Blood is the New Black
Valerie Stivers
Three Rivers (Crown), Sep 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 9780307352132

In Manhattan Kate McAlliston obtains a summer intern position at Tasty, the most popular young women's magazine in the country. However, Kate soon learns the ropes or at lest the bites at her new job as blood-spattered is the in-crowd’s favorite design.

Her boss, editor-in-chief Lillian Hall assigns Kate to assist in organizing the Tasty Girl modeling contest. As she and others work on selecting who the surviving finalists will be, someone is dining on people leaving behind human bodies and even a canine, void of blood. Although not in her job description and fearing her boss who needs dental work might be the gourmand, Kate investigates who is feasting on Tasty folks.

This amusing chick lit tale satirizes the fashion industry as being filled with “bloodthirsty” taste. The breezy story line never slows down once Kate begins working at Tasty. The heroine and fans will wonder whether a serial killing vampire is making a fashion statement and how to describe her job on her résumé as an intern to a maybe undead. BLOOD IS THE NEW BLACK is a jocular romp that will have readers laughing at the antics at Tasty where standard operating procedure is no garlic is allowed on the premises.

Harriet Klausner

Phoenix Unrisen-Kathleen Nance

Phoenix Unrisen
Kathleen Nance
Love Spell, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505527035

New Orleans News Eyes (NONE) reporter Natalie Severin believes she is the real Kolchak of TV fame as she investigates the unbelievable, stories that everyone assumes are fantasies. Thus, nothing shocks the intrepid journalist. That is until she meets veterinarian Ram Montgomery in the bayou.

He seems like a modern day six million dollar man (inflation might mean sixty million). She saw him defeat three armed thugs with his incredible flash-like speed alone; his touch heals injuries and wounds that should need time, but he does it in nanoseconds. However, his greatest strength is ability to make her feel hot and melted with just a look. They join forces trying to stop lethal poachers from illegally importing exotic animals into Louisiana. Neither is prepared for the cult they uncover whose dynamic leader wants to sacrifice Natalie on their altar instead of an illegally snuck into the country animal.

Paranormal romantic thriller fans will enjoy this Bayou tale as Natalie is second to NONE when it comes to courage and risk taking while readers will be fascinated by Ram, whose superpowers are beyond human range. Especially enticing is his “super-vision that heats Nat with a look. Still even with their teaming, the odds are with the bad guys. PHOENIX UNRISEN is an entertaining over the top one sitting tale as Kathleen Nance hooks her fans with this awesome character driven thriller.

Harriet Klausner

A Lick of Frost-Laurell K. Hamilton

A Lick of Frost
Laurell K. Hamilton
Ballantine, Oct 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780345495907

Prince Cel is freed from his imprisonment so Princess Merry Gentry and her retinue (bodyguards and lovers) travel to Los Angeles to escape her insane cousin’s assassination attempts. Cel wants Merry dead to insure she never gets pregnant because if she does she becomes the heir to the throne of the Unseelie Court currently ruled by the sadistic Queen Andais.

At present Merry is at her lawyer’s office dealing with the authorities who consider pressing charges against three of her guards for rape against a member of the Seelie Court. Merry’s Uncle Taranis, King of Light and Illusion of the Seelie Court, made the accusation that his niece believes are false; instead she thinks there is a method to his madness that she just ahs not figured out yet. When things do not go according to his plan, Taranis becomes irate and tries a more direct approach on Merry. Meanwhile members of the Seelie Court offer her his throne. With Cel, Andais, and Taranis aiming at her, Merry finds Los Angeles as unsafe as the Unseelie Court.

After reading A LICK OF FROST nobody will believe being a faerie princess is a fun long time occupation. Merry has to watch her back from danger from both faerie courts and must marry the man who impregnates her not necessarily the male she loves. Laurell K. Hamilton writes an exciting action-packed urban fantasy that entertains her audience with shocking revelations and unexpected plot twists that refreshes the series. Like the previous tale, this one is bestseller bound.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dark Rival-Brenda Joyce

Dark Rival
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373772193

Master of Time Black Royce is sent by the Gods to the early twenty-first century to protect Long Island healer Allie Monroe from the evil that stalk the Big Apple. However, upon meeting the mortal Royce is stunned worse than any blow received from an adversary; she is his soulmate. They make love like there is not time beyond the present.

Allie learns that her beloved Royce will die on September 7, 2007; considering she met the hunk with her car on September 4th, she knows she has to work fast to keep him alive while he pledges to keep her safe. She vows to find a way they can be together. She travels back to his time long ago to see if she somehow can change his future. Royce fails to recognize her so this time she seduces him. However, to achieve her goal she must kill the evil demon Moffet, or risk dying in the attempt.

Returning to a realm where good (Masters of Time) vs. evil demons and their minion), Brenda Joyce provides her fans with an entertaining romantic fantasy starring two heroic individuals willing to risk their lives and their love to keep the other safe. The story line is fast-paced, yet insures the lead couple feels genuine even when they time travel. Although each adjusts too easily to the other’s era, DARK RIVAL is a powerful fun tale that seduces the audience to read it from start to finish in one sitting and to obtain the previous series saga, DARK SEDUCTION.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Rival-Brenda Joyce

Dark Rival
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373772193

Master of Time Black Royce is sent by the Gods to the early twenty-first century to protect Long Island healer Allie Monroe from the evil that stalk the Big Apple. However, upon meeting the mortal Royce is stunned worse than any blow received from an adversary; she is his soulmate. They make love like there is not time beyond the present.

Allie learns that her beloved Royce will die on September 7, 2007; considering she met the hunk with her car on September 4th, she knows she has to work fast to keep him alive while he pledges to keep her safe. She vows to find a way they can be together. She travels back to his time long ago to see if she somehow can change his future. Royce fails to recognize her so this time she seduces him. However, to achieve her goal she must kill the evil demon Moffet, or risk dying in the attempt.

Returning to a realm where good (Masters of Time) vs. evil demons and their minion), Brenda Joyce provides her fans with an entertaining romantic fantasy starring two heroic individuals willing to risk their lives and their love to keep the other safe. The story line is fast-paced, yet insures the lead couple feels genuine even when they time travel. Although each adjusts too easily to the other’s era, DARK RIVAL is a powerful fun tale that seduces the audience to read it from start to finish in one sitting and to obtain the previous series saga, DARK SEDUCTION.

Harriet Klausner

Chasing Midnight-Susan Krinard

Chasing Midnight
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772186

In 1924 in Greenwich Village, Allegra Chase is a rare species who can walk in daylight living a normal life outside of the protection of the clan. However, New York Master Vampire Cato believes Allegra is the future of vampires, but fears for the life of this independent undead.

Griffin Durant is a unique werewolf as he refuses to join any pack. Instead he feels his duty is to keep his sister safe from the supernatural and natural terrors that haunt and hunt New York City. That is until he meets Allie while seeking to learn what happened to a friend who vanished; she is also on a quest to learn likewise the fate of her pal. As gang war seems imminent between a human criminal, Cato and a werewolf Alpha pack leader, Griffin and Allegra fal in love.

CHASING MIDNIGHT is a fun Roaring Twenties paranormal romantic suspense. Fans will believe that werewolves and vampires enjoy speakeasies and dens of iniquity as Prohibition New York City comes alive. The cross star romance is well written due to conflict between species, but it is the historical Big Apple that turns Susan Krinard’s tale into a juicy bite.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel- Ronda Thompson

Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel
Ronda Thompson
St. Martin's, Oct 2007, 8.99
ISBN 9780312949259

Seven years ago on prom night Sherry suddenly sprouted hair all over her body for the first time. When she returned to normal she feared she killed her date Tom Dawson so she vanished and became supermodel Lou Kinipski. Over the years, Lou assumed prom night was a bad dream until a PMS bout led to another furry conversion. Now as her hair germinates during a photo shoot, Lou knows she is a werewolf; only her best friend Cindy knows the truth about her other essence.

Adding to her stress is a sudden horde of men interested in her. Photographer Stefan O’Connor tries to control his attraction as being unprofessional, but Lou senses his desire just like she wants him. NYPD Detective Terry Shay investigates the death of a woman who insisted she was Lou and private investigator Morgan Kane hired by Lou to find her parents is attracted to her. Now a stalker wants to destroy Lou.

Fangs and fur fly in this amusing chick lit werewolf tale. The story line is fast-paced with a strong cast, mostly Lou and her male “pack” of sniffers. However, it is the twists and turns that keep the audience involved in this fun one sitting read as the other life of a supermodel is revealed.

Harriet Klausner

No Rest for the Witches-MaryJanice Davidson, Lori Handeland, Cheyenne McCray, and Christine Warren

No Rest for the Witches
MaryJanice Davidson, Lori Handeland, Cheyenne McCray, and Christine Warren
St. Martin's, Oct 2007, $7.99
ISBN 9780312949211

"The Majicka" by MaryJanice Davidson. Micah seeking the next Majicka has come to Cannon Falls, Minnesota where he meets Ireland and her roommates (a vampire, a fairy, a werewolf, and a zombie always under foot) at the Shea family farm.

"Voodoo Moon” by Lori Handeland. FBI agent Dana “I’m not Skully” Duran does not believe in magic yet the just the facts point to a serial killer practitioner. In Devil’s Fork, she meets Sheriff Marcus Brody who asked Quantico to send him a Behavioral Analyst; however, the paranormal is not her expertise.

"Breath of Magic" by Cheyenne McCray. As the D'Anu witches and D'Danann warriors battle Darkwolf, Sydney and Conlan battle their feelings for one another.

"Any Witch Way She Can" by Christine Warren. Miranda is the unthinkable, a human in a family of paranormal. However, Randy casts a love spell personal ad answered by Miranda.

These are four enjoyable romantic fantasies with each tale unique. An added bonus is that Lori Handeland and Cheyenne McCray have provides tales within their respective mythos. NO REST FOR THE WITCHES is a fabulous anthology.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Stone-C.E. Murphy

Heart of Stone
C.E. Murphy
Luna, Nov 2007, $14.95
ISBN 9780373802920

Manhattan attorney Margrit Knight is jogging in Central Park when she stumbles onto a dying woman. Nearby is a male who is not quite a man and Margrit’s first reaction is he is the murderer. He says he is Alban, a gargoyle and insists he did not kill the female and pleads with Margrit to help find who did. Although her legal training sets off alarms to beware and not trust him, her instincts tell her to help him.

As they begin to work together to uncover the identity of the killer who he fears is one of his race, he explains he is a gargoyle, a species that have lived on the edge of human civilizations for millennium. However, as they dig deeper, Margrit finds herself feeling like Alice falling through the rabbit’s hole as the paranormal proves genuine and every step she takes could prove her last.

HEART OF STONE is a fabulous romantic fantasy whodunit starring an incredible heroine who overwhelms the rest of the cast including her rock hard companion. The story line is fast-paced but totally driven by the once skeptical now believing Margrit who insists she is a lawyer not a paranormal sleuth or a knight rescuing the gargoyle in distress, but as she falls in love she wonders if a man of stone can have a heart (other parts she assumes are naturally hardened).

Harriet Klausner