Sunday, August 31, 2008

Misspent Youth-Peter Hamilton

Misspent Youth
Peter Hamilton
Del Rey, Sep 16 2008, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345461643

In the near future former RAF pilot Jeff Baker invents the memory crystal that led to the datasphere, which replaced the Internet. Jeff Baker made his creation available to everyone placing him on a par with Mother Teresa for altruistic adulation.

In 2040, the European Union scientists make an incredible breakthrough in genetics; they developed a new biotechnique that enables them to replace aged genes. Jeff is the chosen one because of what he did with his memory crystal and the theory that his brilliance could solve the home energy crisis. The conversion works as Jeff goes from a septuagenarian to a twentyish person. Only Jeff finds his sex drive supersedes everything and everyone else including his used to be much younger wife and his teenage son.

Discounting some unnecessary English terrorists detracting from the fascinating thriller, MISSPENT YOUTH is an interesting look at the unintended consequences of science finding a Fountain of Youth. The story line focuses on out of control Jeff who finds his former peers ancient and only sex matters. In terms of relationships he succeeds as a born again sex machine, but the only intelligence he brings back from his years of experience is sex; thus narrowing the scope of an intriguing premise.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Memories-Barb Hendee

Blood Memories
Barb Hendee
Roc, Oct 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0451462297

Youthful looking beauty Eleisha Clevon seems vulnerable and helpless, but in reality she is a survivor; being two hundred plus years old vampire. She easily lures human predators into being alone with her before ripping open their throats to dine on their blood. When she eats a mortal’s blood she also sees their lives mentally flash passed her. Eleisha also is the prime caretaker for a senile vampire.

After being seen by cops when the vampire Edward killed himself, Eleisha accompanied by William flees Portland for Seattle. They move into the home of Maggie also a vampire. Meanwhile a vampire who has gone rogue is killing vampires with Eleisha and her friends on the undead death list.

BLOOD MEMORIES is a terrific vampire stand alone thriller that fans will enjoy but ironically when compared to the classic Barb and J.C. Hendee’s Noble Dean saga it somewhat pales; in fairness few supernatural novels attain that quality level. The story is filled with action, but also contains a strong cast who insure vampirism in the Northwest seems real as readers learn the back-story of several of them through the characters practicing mental telepathy. The heroine especially is an intriguing person; she detests killing humans although she knows she must yet limits her attacks to the dregs of society. Still it is serial killing villain murdering his own kind who makes this a fine tale that the vampire crowd will appreciate.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Appearing-Kristen Wisen

The Appearing
Kristen Wisen
Credo House, May 2008, $24.99
ISBN: 9780978762087

Not to far in the future Homeland Security establishes the Domestic Investigations Unit to spy on churches and close them down if they break any of the anti-intolerance laws. In Russia, Russian Preident Alexander Magorum has formed the Federation of World Powers and gets the Arabs to let the Jews build a new Temple. He is working towards a a one currency and one religion in his new world order; taking advantage of corruption to bring all nations under his command. At the midpoint of what some call the Great Tribulation, Alexander holds a news conference in his Jerusalem Temple; he reveals himself to be Hitler who was rescued by Lucifer after being in Hell for 666 months.

He wants the people who believe in him to wear his mark and those that refuse will die. At Gracee Church, the elders who studied the end of times know the world is entering a period of extreme violence and injustice. They move to caves in the North Carolina Mountains hidden by God’s angels so that the authorities cannot kill them. They are all true believers except for one who spies on them; this modern day Judas gives photos and other incriminating evidence to the authorities. Only God can protect them if he sends his son again.

With some overall nods to obviously the bible and to the Tom LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins Left Behind saga, this is a fascinating tale of the rise of the Anti-Christ with billions joining him; as few recall what he did in WWII and will again because he has pandemic plans to eradicate non-believers. The Rapture comes at the beginning of the Great Tribulation but differs from Left Behind in several key ways; this refreshes the religious thriller. There is plenty of action and no wisely preaching yet Kristen Wisen makes her beliefs known.

Harriet Klausner

Angel's Pain-Maggie Shayne

Angel's Pain
Maggie Shayne
Mira, Oct 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0778324982

Briar the Vampiress vows to never forget the cruelty of her former instructor in the ways of their species. She initially accepted his brutality as drinking blood is not an herbivore lifestyle. However when Gregor betrayed her she pledged to get even; when he tortured her she became preoccupied with the need of vengeance flowing through her blood starting with her odious stepfather Martin and then Gregor.

However, she is realistic that she cannot defeat Gregor and his minion by herself. Brian reluctantly joins Reaper and his warriors (vampires, Chosen and humans) based on the theory that Gregor’s enemies are her friends. Once Gregor and Rose are dead, Brian plans to leave though she is attracted to her charismatic leader who shares a blood bond to child vampiress Crisa. When Gregor captures Crisa, Briar knows she must save her little “sister”. Reaper risks all to help her succeed.

The latest Maggie Shayne vampiric thriller (see LOVER’S BITE and DEMON’S KISS) is a superb paranormal romantic suspense tale. Briar appears more thorn than Rose, but Reaper sees past her pain and her bravado to the inner person he desires even if she keeps singing the refrain from “I’m not in love”. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as Briar needs to be the one to kill Gregor until Crisa is taken; her priorities change. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Ms. Shayne's fine vampire tale especially those who soar with the author’s “Wings in the Night” saga as several players take a bite or two in ANGEL’S PAIN.
Harriet Klausner

Come The Night-Susan Krinard

Come The Night
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9373773153

In 1927 Ethan Warbrick comes from England to New York City to warn fired and disgraced former NYPD cop Ross Kavanaugh of a visitor he will soon receive. During the war, Ross met and fell in love with English werewolf Gillian Maitland, but though she reciprocated her prejudicial dictatorial father declared him unfit as only a purebred was acceptable. Fearing her abusive dad would harm or kill her beloved Yank, Gillian ended their relationship and she became Mrs. Delvaux to insure the family line remained purebred.

However, she was too late and now her son Tobias who assumes Ross is his sire is coming to meet him. Gillian, whose husband died in the war, follows her offspring to New York to bring him back to Cambria before his paternal grandfather does something despicable to them; which means mother and son must be home to attend the upcoming werewolf convocation. When his preadolescent son followed by Gilliam arrives, Ross, a quarter-werewolf, knows he wants both of them as his beloved family. He follows them to England in time for a serial killer to begin a murderous campaign that leaves the ex American cop as the prime suspect.

This cross Atlantic paranormal romantic historical suspense works on all levels because the audience will believe that in 1927 Anglo-America the werewolf hierarchy is based on racism depending on the amount of “impurities” in one’s blood. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ross has the visitor followed by his police pal calling him to tell him an eleven year old English lad claims him as his father. The tale never slows down from there even as the lead trio (and readers) crosses the ocean. Susan Krinard provides a strong paranormal private investigative 1920s thriller.

Harriet Klausner

City of Jade-Dennis L. McKiernan

City of Jade
Dennis L. McKiernan
Roc, Oct 2008, $23.95
ISBN 9780451462312

Legend talks of a City of Jade hidden in the jungle. Probably more likely myth than a real lost city, as no one has ever returned from the quest of finding this fabled locale though many have tried across Mithgar.

In the Final Year of the Fifth Era, with the Dragonstone War ended when the Black Mage God Gyphon was slain by the elf, passages have opened between realms while wards have been used to close those leading to and from the the creations of the late Dark God. In that seemingly peaceful environment, Elven Captain Aravan learns of the City of Jade and wants to find this precious legend. He brings together a crew of elves, dwarfs, men, and other species to sail into the sunset on the fabled Eroean. Accompanying him on his quest is his beloved mage, Aylis the seer. Even without Aylis’ predictions all of the crew of the Eroean knows the journey will be dangerous and many if any will not return; they volunteer because the lure of adventure is greater than their safety; most are used to a world at war. Few perhaps would have signed on if they knew the dark necromantic sorcerer Nunde seeking vengeance is lurking everywhere they are sailing.

As explained in the “afterword” to this engaging fantasy, the events in the CITY OF JADE occur at the end of SILVER WOLF, BLACK FALCON and the beginning of the RED SLIPPERS: MORE TALES OF MITHGAR anthology. The thriller starts off as more of an interrelated anthology catching up with what has happened to the good, the bad, and the nasty since the demise of the Dark God. Once the crew is set and prepares to sail, the story line converges into an entertaining adventure tale with a fuming vengeful Nunde stalking the Eroean over each horizon. Fans will relish this terrific tweener while new readers should first peruse SILVER WOLF, BLACK FALCON to better comprehend the citations to the war.

Harriet Klausner

Acheron-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Acheron
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin’s, Aug 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 0312362153

In 9548 BC Katoteros, based on the prophecy of three of his bastard daughters, an irate Archon angrily directs his horde to kill their unborn child. Archon’s wife of several centuries Apollymi and her Charonte demons flee as she refuses to allow him to murder her baby. Feeling betrayed by her spouse as she always remained loyal, Apollymi and her followers kill any in the Pantheon that get in their way. The baby she names Apostolos is lifted from her and hidden inside a pregnant Queen Aara having his essence merged with the baby inside. Apollymi gives her spouse a stone baby and warns him that when the time comes her son will return to destroy him and his followers; he vows to find and kill his offspring.

By the time he is seven years old Acheron knows his parents hate him though they know from an oracle to prevent his death or else; only his sister Ryssa cares about him. However, she cannot understand why he is treated so badly over the next few years.He concludes the Gods cursed him but has no idea why as everyone except Ryssa loathes and fears him. In his death, the horror comes to devastate the world; only he can save humanity but he does not want to return to save those who spurned him when he lived; besides which he knows who will come for him if he returns.

Throughout the extremely well written Dark Hunter saga, readers have waited for Acheron’s tale to be told. The pressure on Sherrilyn Kenyon must have been immense, but like the Redeem Team she comes through with a great tale. From the opening sequence when a desperate Goddess tries to save her unborn from his father to New Orleans fans will relish the “biography” of the titled character. In a sense two related novels with over four hundred pages each occurring eleven millennium ago and about three hundred in New Orleans, Ms. Kenyon’s excellent thriller will be on most fans’ short list for fantasy of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Foundation-Mercedes Lackey

Foundation
Mercedes Lackey
Daw, Oct 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756405243

The Pieter family takes into their home infant orphan Mags, but not out of the kindness of their hearts; they see the lad as labor toiling long hours in their dangerous gemstone mine seeking sparklies. They abuse the child as they do other strays that have no champion to protect ragtag nothings from horrific conditions. However, Mags is even lower than these pathetic strays as he is the Bad Blood offspring of dead outlaws according to the family since he was found in a cradle in a camp.

Everything abruptly changes for Mags when men on white horses ride into the Pieter compound; they take the lad with them so he can train to become a Herald Trainee. However, the adjustment proves nearly impossible as Mags is unable to deal with, comfort or attend classes at the Herald's Collegium; as his world was bread, water and the mine. However his companion Dallen helps him somewhat adapt, but this may prove too late as Mags is pulled into dangerous political intrigues by the Heralds divided in many ways but especially between tradition of one on one training vs. a classroom; however the former mine worker finds the schism beyond his understanding except he is an expert on survival.

This is a great Valdemar tale due to Mags who may not comprehend the ways of the Heralds or their dispute, but knows how to live through anything. The story line is especially fascinating during Mags’ time with the Pieters as ignorance is bliss since he does not know of anything but mine living. When the Heralds take him away as a student, he is shocked to have a consistently filled stomach and a new reason to survive. Although the story line is a bit thin in comparison with all the action of previous saga entries, fans will relish Mercedes Lackey deep fantasy character study with its analogy to winning in Middle East starts with first feeding people, then teaching them to fish in order to win their stomach, mind and heart in that order.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Insatiable Desire-Rita Herron

Insatiable Desire
Rita Herron
Forever, Sep 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0446199478

In Eerie, Tennessee psychic Clarissa King is desperate to end the screams she hears and the bloody graphic visions she sees every time the brutal killer murders a woman; two dead and counting. The police assume a serial killer has begun a reign of terror. The police use Clarissa to assist them. She knows the killer is a demon Zion of hell.

Since the besieged town is his birthplace, FBI agent Vincent Valtrez is sent to investigate the serial killings. He knows Clarissa from childhood and scorns her so called psychic gift. However, two decades ago Vincent understood beasts as his father was one while his mother was an angel of the light; all changed when dad killed mom. Dad needs his offspring by his side while Clarissa knows exactly what Vincent and his father are; she prays her love for him keeps him from turning to the dark side of his dad.

This is an exciting dark horror thriller filled with characters who personify good and evil. The story line is graphic as readers through Clarissa see and hear the dying thoughts and actions of the victims. Inappropriate title aside, as the romance rightfully so takes a back seat to the killing malevolence as Rita Herron provides an exhilarating horror tale with a sequel coming.

Harriet Klausner

When Duty Calls-William C. Dietz

When Duty Calls
William C. Dietz
Ace, Oct 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441016327

The war between the Confederacy of Sentient Beings and the Insecticide Ramanthian Empire continues. By order of their Queen, the Ramanthian military is going to invade Gamma- 014 rich in iridium. The planet belongs to the Clone Hegemony, a group of worlds in which sex and childbearing are prohibited; from birth the clones know what work they will do. The Confederation warns the Clone Hegemony even as the mutual enemy piles up victory after victory while the CSB shrinks with planet after planet being lost.

Commanding Officer of the Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st REC Captain Antonio Santana is ordered to go to Gamma- 014 to fight under the command of a Clone Hegemony General. This should cement the alliance between the two groups battling the Ramanthians. Antonio’s lover diplomat Christine Vanderveen is on Hegemony planet Alpha 001; she is attracted to the leader of the rebellion there, who wants to replace the present government in order to allow people to have freedom of choice. On Planet Gamma 014, Santana and his bio bod and cyborg troops fight for their lives as the enemy badly outnumbers them and accepts deaths easily as a part of the hostilities. He knows it will take a miracle to leave this orb alive.

Fans of military science fiction on other worlds will thoroughly enjoy WHEN DUTY CALLS, the latest Legion of the Damned space opera thriller. When the Ramanthians invaded earth, they are stunned by the sentient animals they encounter who not just resist, but operationally fight back even as much of the military is dying on Gamma 014. The resistance fighters are organized under an unusual leader and the enemies’ casualties run much higher than the most pessimistic Ramanthian predict. William C. Dietz keeps his long running saga fresh to the delight of military science fiction fans.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Bride of Casa Dracula-Marta Acosta

The Bride of Casa Dracula
Marta Acosta
Pocket, Sep 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416559634

Milagro De Los Santos and Dr. Oswald Grant are engaged to be married. However the bride is frustrated with the rules that she must agree to in order for his side to accept her. Upset, Milagro wants to tell the bloodsuckers to go to hell, but he loves Oswald so he bites her tongue and agrees to adhere to the Vampire Council's strict code of conduct to include no sharing of the same bed until they marry twice; first a public exchange of I do’s and a second a vampire blood exchange ritual as her intended and his family have a slight genetic abberation; they need blood to survive.

Besides her future in-laws loathing her, the marriage plans are taken away from her. Her friend Nancy takes over the public ceremony and the Vampire Council assigns Cornelia to run their rite of passage. Nancy is over the top and Cornelia has designs on the groom whom she has shared a bite or two with before Milagro intruded; with Cornelia comes her brother Ian whom Milagro has shared a bite or two too. As Milagro ghost writes a book for a maniacal self preclaimed shapeshifting cleint, accidnts begin to occur that makes Oswald wonder if his beloved cannot handle the pressure; Milagro knows someone wants to prevent their marriage and plans as always to kick butt.

The latest satirical visit to Casa Dracula is as always an amusing take no prisoners “vampiric” romance. The story line lampoons the sub-genre from werewolves to vampires and their extended packs and families as well as wedding planners. Filled with twists including a great final spin, readers will appreciate Milagro’s escapades as her world is crumbling when she should be at her happiest; either way she knows what will occur will be toasted with a few pints of blood – mostly she fears hers.

Harriet Klausner

The Company-K.J. Parker

The Company
K.J. Parker
Orbit, Oct 29 2008, $24.99
ISBN: 9780316038539

The war ended seven years ago. Many soldiers left the military to return to civilian life. This includes four friends who never see one another anymore as that reminds them of comrades who died when the Confederation needed them; now stoic over being alive but struggling with adjustment as many other vets are doing too.

Their former commanding officer General Kunessin visits the quartet to remind them of the pledge they made while still uniform. They honor their vow to settle on a peaceful utopian island that Kunessin has found for them. He will fund their colonization. The men find wives financially desperate enough to willingly marry them in a group exchange of vows and accompany them to Kunessin’s paradise. Everything is fine until gold is discovered.

THE COMPANY is a dark gripping military fantasy that is a parable on the life of vets when the war is over. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as the audience gets a taste of how society turns its back on those who risked their lives when they are no longer needed for combat. The island is their escape from a reality they cannot readapt to, but even there society intrudes once gold is found as once again they are expendable. K.J. Parker will have readers pondering whether we are truly doing all we can for vets and their families.

Harriet Klausner

The Hero of Ages-Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages
Brandon Sanderson
Tor, Oct 2008, $27.95
ISBN: 0765316897

As with their first success in defeating evil (see MISTBORN) Emperor Elend Venture and his mage wife Vin thought they were bringing peace to the reign, but they are proved wrong when the foreign armies invaded and opened up the WELL OF ASCENSION. Once again they thought they triumphed over evil, but they are proved wrong again.

To close THE WELL OF ASCENSION, they inadvertently liberate Ruin, the malevolent spirit who simply wants to destroy the world. Elend and Vin struggle to prevent this from happening, but also must contend with other evil killers allied with Ruin. They must defeat the lethal Inquisitors, the Deepness deadly mists and the black ash inundating the land and suffocating the crops. Even more desperate than ever, the duo knows their only hope is to find the cache of Mistborn energies atium; brilliantly hidden by Elend’s late predecessor as emperor.

For every action there is a reaction with the latter at times leading to unintended consequences is the basic underlying principal of the superb Mistborn fantasy trilogy. The story line is fast-paced, filled with stunning plausible twists and an incredible unexpected finish. Readers will appreciate the entire saga as Brandon Sanderson will have his audience applying the overarching theme to the real world.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 25, 2008

Slow Train to Arcturus-Eric Flint and Dave Freer

Slow Train to Arcturus
Eric Flint and Dave Freer
Baen, Oct, 2008 $24.00
ISBN 9781416555858

When the humongous weird looking vessel entered their system, leaders of planet Miren become concerned. They send a ship filled with scientists and other researchers to investigate the encroaching craft with its strange massive bubble-like habitats.

Upon entering an orb, humans inside attack the alien visitors from Miren. Most of the outsiders are killed as they are not soldiers and the ship's residents are insane berserkers. Miren xenobiologist Kretz escapes the slaughter by entering a different biosphere containing other humans, friendlier but unhelpful as they do not have the means to get him to his vessel. Kretz realizes quickly to get back to his ship and eventually Miren, he must pass through several of these contained circular environments filled with humans at different stages of development; many hostile towards his species.

This is a fun often humorous outer space opera. The story line is hyper fast and filled with non stop action, but that is a two edged sword because the plot never goes deep into the various groups that the Miren meet or the purpose of the multi habitat spacecraft. Still this is an engaging tale with the neat twist of the humans entering the alien specie sector with hostility that pulp space opera fans will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Cast in Fury-

Cast in Fury
Michelle Sagara
Luna, Oct 2008, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373802692

The abnormal size and intensity of the tidal wave that almost destroyed the city has ignited racial tension. Many in Elantra assume the Tha’alani deliberately caused the disaster as they were seen going to the water and almost immediately the water rose in what appeared to be a cause and effect. Though the Emperor wants to ease the tension before a race war explodes, the Swords have replaced the Tha’alani at key security posts and are stationed near the Tha’alani sector albeit to keep mobs out yet also to contain the accused.

To calm things down the Emperor commissioned royal playwright Richard Rennick to scribe a play about the Tha’alani. Lord Sanabalis orders Private Kaylin Neya and Corporal Handred to insure Rennick remembers his mission is to ease tension not enflame it. At about the same time Hawks Leontine Sergeant Marcus is arrested on the charge of murder. Kaylin is told to ignore her “Pridelea” superior officer’s plight and stay focused on the bigger issue; she believes in Marcus so she investigates not realizing the dark terror that awaits her and the Elantra Empire.

The fourth Cast in … fantasy (see SHADOW, COURTLIGHT and SECRET) is a superb investigative thriller as the heroine uses her special magic to prove her military mentor his innocent and to help abate the racial divide that looks almost certain to turn deadly. The story line is fast-paced yet focuses on the destructive nature of de facto (and to a lesser degree de jure racism) in a Rovian way of abusing the strengths of the Tha’alani and using them as a negative to emphasize their differences. Kaylin is at her best in this thought provoking cautionary tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pure Blood-Caitlin Kittredge

Pure Blood
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin’s, Sep 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0312948301

Threes months on medical leave after killing the former DA Duncan on her last case (see NIGHT LIFE), Nocturne City homicide detective Luna Wilder is finally back on the job. Her fist case on her first day back involves what looks like a male blood witch addict overdosing; a simple street OD case until medical examiner Kronen notices an anomaly. The victim’s eyes show pretichial hemorrhaging, a symptom associated with choking not heroin.

She is not welcomed back to the precinct as a hero. Instead the rookies gawk, the veterans look concerned probably because of the tabloid publicity of an out of control werewolf cop, and her new hostile Captain Morgan informs her she is less than crap. When more witches die, Luna realizes she is investigating a witch gang war. She could use the help of her former lover Dimitri Sandovsky, but his pack forbids him seeing her as they blame Luna for his illness caused by a demon bite.

Luna is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly rolled into one livid lone lobo werewolf as she follows the clues angering everyone who she meets. The case is fun to follow, but it is gritty Nocturne City that magically owns this dark police procedural urban fantasy. Fans will enjoy walking the mean streets with Luna half logical and half lunatic as she brings to life the gloomy exhilarating world of Caitlin Kittredge.

Harriet Klausner

Bound by Light-Anna Windsor

Bound by Light
Anna Windsor
Ballantine, Sep 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345498557

While his two brothers seem ecstatic over meeting their soul mates (see BOUND BY SHADOW and BOUND BY FLAME) Astaroth demon Jake Lowell feels alone as he just wants to regain his humanity. However, he knows that his fantasy will remain just a dream as the mage experts insist that is impossible. Still in spite of his depression and being manipulated by a malevolent using him as a stalker, he feels good for his brothers and follows the orders to protect the only non-pregnant Sybil triad sister air Sybil Merilee Alexander.

Meanwhile the Old One is leading his Legion on a quest to destroy humanity. This powerful demon knows the time is right as two of the Sybils are in delicate conditions. All he and his minion must do is kill the third one, Melanie. Jake finds his human side surface at the wrong time as he needs to keep the Sybil he is falling in love with safe, but to do that he requires the full power of the demon inside him.

The third Dark Crescent Sisterhood is urban romantic fantasy at its best as part of a stupendous saga. The story line is action-packed as the audience follows the latest confrontation between the Sybils and the Legion. This time the odds are more overwhelming than ever as the good guys are somewhat weakened while the evil ones have their top gun strengthens the darkness. This is a great miniseries that sub-genre fans will relish.

Harriet Klausner

Field of Blood-Eric Wilson

Field of Blood
Eric Wilson
Thomas Nelson, Oct 2008, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595544582

After the death of Judas Iscariot in 30 AD, his blood soaked through to the Necropolis just below. In 1989, work crews are performing construction in this Field of Blood when they break though to what lies beneath. The Collector of Souls is drawn to the spot and enters; there the Collector finds boxes of bones in the unholy ground. He calls his cluster who come immediately. They reunite the bones and make them human looking before entering them; thus ending a period in which they had no bodies.

They are free to wreck havoc on mankind; especially eager to begin the Final Days. Keeping them in check and preventing the countdown is thirty-eight men known as the Nistorim who pray for the souls of man so they can be Those Who Resist.. There are other people that keep hope alive. One is an innocent Romanian woman Gina Lazarescu who knows nothing of the spiritual battle, but she will play a major role in the war between the Nistorim and the Collectors.

Although the word demon is never used, the essence is lucid as the reader learns that the Collectors occupied the bodies of the damned.. Eric Wilson’s supernatural thriller is all about redemption by placing one’s life on the line to save humanity. In some ways a coming of age saga as Gina grows while learning who she is and how she relates to the supernatural battle being fought..

Harriet Klausner

Dark Harvest-Lynda Hilburn

Dark Harvest
Lynda Hilburn
Medallion, Oct 2008, $15.95
ISBN: 193383661X

Dr. Kismet Knight is on Denver’s WOW talk radio billed as the vampire psychologist though most listeners assume this is a gimmick. Actually this is the bloody truth in her case. Six months ago she became THE VAMPIRE SHRINK when a serial killing vampire almost murdered her. During her biting ordeal, Kismet met her lover eight hundred year old Master Vampire Devereux; he wants her to be his mate, but she hesitates.

On the air, the most ancient known vampire Hallow calls her and over the phone melts her bones turning her into a shrink in heat. Hallow wants to make Kismet his slave; Devereux vows to protect his beloved from the most evil bloodsucker walking the earth. The malevolent bloodsucker easily circumvents Devereux’s protective efforts; Kismet makes it easier for the wicked one by refusing to lose her independence. Neither is aware that those close to them could become pawns in Hallows game.

This Mile High chick lit urban fantasy will appeal to fans of Laurel K. Hamilton and Lilith Saintcrow as the heroine’s courage and mouth will remind the audience of their respective stars. Kismet is an independent soul who begins to lose her free will as Hallow works his magic to break her. The love between the vampire and the psychologist is beautiful to behold as he painted her portrait before they met. That link and why Hallow obsesses over Kismet are critical to the story line as Lynda Hilburn writes a unique and bewitching vampire in Denver thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bite the Bullet-L.A. Banks

Bite the Bullet
L.A. Banks
St. Martin’s, Oct 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 031294912X

Before meeting her lifemate Max Hunter under the full moon, Paranormal Containment Unit Squad leader Lieutenant Sasha Trudeau considered herself soldier, soldier and soldier before anything else. With Max at her side she has revised her prejudicial concepts about the paranormal even being one since she learned to delineate between werewolves, shadow wolves and demon werewolves. Her current mission is to kill the rogue demon infected werewolves and obtain samples of the toxin that has tainted them; Max believes vampires are behind a conspiracy to divide werewolf packs against one another.

While they are near the Canadian border looking for two of her familiars, make that subordinate soldiers, Max and Sasha fear what could happen at the United Council of Entities international meeting in New Orleans during a rare blue moon following upon Mardi Gras. Each worries that something bad will occur at the assembly of Fae, Pixies, Dragons, Werewolves and an assortment of paranormal ilk. As they prepare to prevent a catastrophe of species fratricide, Sasha worries that Max has been infected.

The second Crimson Moon paranormal para-ops suspense thriller grips the audience from the onset and never slows down for a nanosecond as the action keeps on coming. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the heroine who makes it work as Sasha will BITE THE BULLET to do her duty yet to succeed needs Max at her side, but fears he is going rogue. Once again sub-genre fans can bank on L.A. Banks to make the supernatural seem natural as violence is as paranormal as the pull of the moon.

Harriet Klausner

The Ghost Quartet-Marvin Kaye (editor)

The Ghost Quartet
Marvin Kaye (editor)
Tor, Sep 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 0765312514

"A Place of No Ending" by Brian Lumley. In Eastern Dartmoor Moor, Paul learns first hand the truth about ghosts.

"Hamlet's Father" by Orson Scott Card. Teenager Hamlet knows his father the Danish King thinks little of him so as he goes to university in Heidelberg he ponders whether his sire considers his offspring worthy to sit or not sit on the throne.

"The Haunted Single Malt" by Marvin Kaye. They meet once a month at the Tron to exchange ghost stories, but none of them expected to star in a spirit’s latest saga.

"Strindberg's Ghost" by Tanith Lee. Blya and the Swan know they cannot be together until one joins the other in death.

The four tales are interesting ghost stories with Tanith Lee’s being by far the strongest.

Harriet Klausner

The Archangel Project-C. S. Graham

The Archangel Project
C. S. Graham
Harper, Oct 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0061351202

Iraq War veteran October "Tobie" Guinness feels her skill as a remote viewer is a mixed bag. The former Navy vet can see who is doing what miles and miles and miles away; but she cannot bring into lucid focus completely the flashes she “witnesses”.

However, though she considers herself an underachiever compared with her spouses, Tobie keeps on trying to clear her vision so as to make better use of it. Her latest effort frightens her as she sees flashes of Eisenhower’s worst nightmare in action. A cartel of VIPs from the defense industry and the government plan a 9/11 style attack by “Iranians” on New Orleans in order to obtain public support for an Iraq type intervention. Those she witnessed plotting know of her and her mentor. They kill the psychologist-professor teaching her and go after Tobie. CIA Agent Jax Alexander investigates the professor’s murder in New Orleans only to crash head first into the conspiracy and Tobie. They are on the run together while trying to prevent another avaricious Middle East war.

This is a terrific conspiracy thriller starring a wonderful hero who received the “psycho” honorable discharge from the Navy and a cynical CIA agent on the brink of being fired even before he foolishly becomes involved in the Iran War scam. Fans who appreciate a fast-paced tale with obvious Iraq implications will want to read Team Graham’s entertaining conspiracy novel.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 22, 2008

Two to the Fifth-Piers Anthony

Two to the Fifth
Piers Anthony
Tor, Oct 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780765319357

The world of Xanth is in danger (so what else is gnu I mean new). The powerful sorcerer Ragna Roc is methodically taking over villages as the bird soars to new heights with plans to be ruler of the realm. Cyrus Cyborg knows nothing about the bird or much else for that matter and is worried about his future as his robotic father expects him to be a metallic chip off the old block and his amazon mother demands he become a warrior. He does not want to be either as he lacks the metal of his biological father and the muscle of his mother. He does what everyone in Xanth with a problem does: he visits Humphrey the magician for sage advice.

Cyrus asks Humphrey the wrong question and receives a response that insists he should be a playwright. As part of his Service in payment for answering the question, Humphreys explains about the evil bird mage and insists Cyrus write plays and gather a troupe to perform them. He begins his remittance gathering performers as he travels around, but also gains the interest of Ragna. Cyrus is also falling in love with one of his new players, the child Princess Rhythm, who magically makes herself older so they can make love without the Adult Compromise taking hold. The stork delivers their child Kadence who is six years old, but cryptically informs them she is Rhythm’s sister. Taken by Ragna to his castle, the sisters battle the bird knowing that only TWO TO THE FIFTH can defeat the evil mage, but have no Xanthian idea what that means.

Xanthologists will have a field day or two with the latest whimsical pun filled fantasy. The story line is the usual Humphrey quest formula of the series, but the new array of outrageously humorous word plays make for a fun adventure. Readers will enjoy Cyrus’ lament as he has parental troubles and loves what is happening to him since he got Rhythm as they work in secret together to beat the beak.

Harriet Klausner

Two to the Fifth-Piers Anthony

Two to the Fifth
Piers Anthony
Tor, Oct 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780765319357

The world of Xanth is in danger (so what else is gnu I mean new). The powerful sorcerer Ragna Roc is methodically taking over villages as the bird soars to new heights with plans to be ruler of the realm. Cyrus Cyborg knows nothing about the bird or much else for that matter and is worried about his future as his robotic father expects him to be a metallic chip off the old block and his amazon mother demands he become a warrior. He does not want to be either as he lacks the metal of his biological father and the muscle of his mother. He does what everyone in Xanth with a problem does: he visits Humphrey the magician for sage advice.

Cyrus asks Humphrey the wrong question and receives a response that insists he should be a playwright. As part of his Service in payment for answering the question, Humphreys explains about the evil bird mage and insists Cyrus write plays and gather a troupe to perform them. He begins his remittance gathering performers as he travels around, but also gains the interest of Ragna. Cyrus is also falling in love with one of his new players, the child Princess Rhythm, who magically makes herself older so they can make love without the Adult Compromise taking hold. The stork delivers their child Kadence who is six years old, but cryptically informs them she is Rhythm’s sister. Taken by Ragna to his castle, the sisters battle the bird knowing that only TWO TO THE FIFTH can defeat the evil mage, but have no Xanthian idea what that means.

Xanthologists will have a field day or two with the latest whimsical pun filled fantasy. The story line is the usual Humphrey quest formula of the series, but the new array of outrageously humorous word plays make for a fun adventure. Readers will enjoy Cyrus’ lament as he has parental troubles and loves what is happening to him since he got Rhythm as they work in secret together to beat the beak.

Harriet Klausner

Two to the Fifth-Piers Anthony

Two to the Fifth
Piers Anthony
Tor, Oct 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780765319357

The world of Xanth is in danger (so what else is gnu I mean new). The powerful sorcerer Ragna Roc is methodically taking over villages as the bird soars to new heights with plans to be ruler of the realm. Cyrus Cyborg knows nothing about the bird or much else for that matter and is worried about his future as his robotic father expects him to be a metallic chip off the old block and his amazon mother demands he become a warrior. He does not want to be either as he lacks the metal of his biological father and the muscle of his mother. He does what everyone in Xanth with a problem does: he visits Humphrey the magician for sage advice.

Cyrus asks Humphrey the wrong question and receives a response that insists he should be a playwright. As part of his Service in payment for answering the question, Humphreys explains about the evil bird mage and insists Cyrus write plays and gather a troupe to perform them. He begins his remittance gathering performers as he travels around, but also gains the interest of Ragna. Cyrus is also falling in love with one of his new players, the child Princess Rhythm, who magically makes herself older so they can make love without the Adult Compromise taking hold. The stork delivers their child Kadence who is six years old, but cryptically informs them she is Rhythm’s sister. Taken by Ragna to his castle, the sisters battle the bird knowing that only TWO TO THE FIFTH can defeat the evil mage, but have no Xanthian idea what that means.

Xanthologists will have a field day or two with the latest whimsical pun filled fantasy. The story line is the usual Humphrey quest formula of the series, but the new array of outrageously humorous word plays make for a fun adventure. Readers will enjoy Cyrus’ lament as he has parental troubles and loves what is happening to him since he got Rhythm as they work in secret together to beat the beak.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Midnight’s Daughter-Karen Chance

Midnight’s Daughter
Karen Chance
Onyx, Oct 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412621

There is a war going on between the Vampire Senate and the dark mages of the Black Circle; the hostilities have made arms dealers very wealthy as they sell magical armaments to both camps. Five hundred years old dhampir Dorina Basarab is unlike her peers as she can somewhat control her berserker rages so is uninterested in the war. She worries when her best friend Claire the null witch, who could be a valuable weapon of mass destruction, has gone missing for a month. Dory has been directing all her energy into finding her buddy when a family member asks for her help.

Her father, first level vampire Mircea informs hat her Uncle Dracula escaped his confinement. He needs her help to capture and re-incarcerate the craziest deadliest family member. Dory has had one horrific fight with her uncle and does not want a rematch. Her father makes a deal with his daughter; if she catches Dracula, he will get the Vampire Senate to search for Claire. Knowing Dracula will be coming for her and her Uncle Rudu, Dory accepts her dad’s terms. Gathering allies, Dory is stunned to learn her adversary has captured Claire.

Dory is an interesting lead character, a dhampire who has survived for five centuries on her dysfunctional family by controlling her rages and killing only when necessary those deserving to die. She is a unique dhampir as most cannot control their berserker tendencies or show love towards another person like she does towards Claire as a sister would. There is plenty of action, a bit of romance, and a fascinating look at the Dracula brood. Urban fantasy readers will want to take a chance on this tale as well as the author’s backlist (see CLAIMED BY SHADOWS). Karen Chance is by far one of the best authors writing urban fantasies today.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pirate Sun-Karl Schroeder

Pirate Sun
Karl Schroeder
Tor, Aug 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 0765315459

In Virga, Admiral Chaison Fanning learns no good deed goes unpunished. His bodacious foray prevented an assault on his orb Slipstream; he was imprisoned for his actions, but he is liberated by he assumes his daring subversive wife Venera who when he was first captured he saw fleeing.

Returning to his town, to his amazement, Fanning is considered a traitor by those he saved; he expected the ruler who initially betrayed him to paint him as such but not his neighbors. As revolution, civil war, and outside invasion threaten the Virga spheres, he fights alongside Antaea Argyre, who is from another orb of the “system” near its edges. There he begins to understand there is much more to the universe than just what is connected to Virga’s central sun Candesce.

As with the first two books of the Virga chronicle (see SUN OF SUNS and QUEEN OF CANDESCE), it is the variety of town-spheres that make for a complex exciting science fiction saga in which anything seems possible under the sun (of Candesce that is). The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Fanning, though scorned and swiftboated continues to do what he thinks is the ethically right thing for the good of his people. His escapades never slow down as Karl Schroeder provides a strong outer space opera thriller.
Harriet Klausner

Dark Rain-Tony Richards

Dark Rain
Tony Richards
Harper, Oct 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061474668

There really were witches in Salem and they escaped the burning times by quietly moving into the village of Raine’s Landing. They kept a low profile, but one of them Ragan Farrer was accused by the townsfolk of causing harm to others; she was burned at the stake. Before she died she cursed the town and its people; saying they and their descendents will never leave Raine’s Landing.

In the present the town is hidden from view; anyone who enters leaves forgetting the place exists. Sarauk, a tree spirit inhabits a human body and comes to town and he intends to become ruler of Raine’s Landing. He is not strong enough to take over the entire town yet but as he makes the inhabitants afraid of what he will do, he grows more powerful in a vicious circle. If the trend continues he will soon overpower the townsfolk making them bow to his wishes. Only Ross Devries might be able to neutralize Sarauk, but though he has received information to succeed from allies, his chances remain grim.

This is a modern day gothic urban fantasy that mesmerizes the audience into a one sitting read. The characters make the tale as the reluctant hero must battle overwhelming odds to defeat a 200 proof evil villain. With a strong alternate earth world-building (or at least village building) setting, Tony Roberts provides an exhilarating dark horror thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Telltale Turtle-Joyce & Jim Lavene

The Telltale Turtle
Joyce & Jim Lavene
Midnight Ink, Oct 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780738712260

Mary Catherine Roberts is a pet psychic who can communicate with all types of creatures. She is world famous and has her own talk show on Lite 102 5 WRSC in Wilmington, Delaware. She has converted the building she owns into an animals shelter, which depends on donations to supplement the large amount of money she contributes.

One day when Mary Catherine was driving home she hears a noise as if a creature is in distress. She zeroes in on the anguished sounds until she finds a house. Inside is a woman whose throat is slashed. She takes Tommy the Turtle with her to her home, but is shocked to learn the victim was Ferndelle Jamison, her station manager Colin’s aunt. He immediately becomes a suspect because he is expected to inherit her fortune. Mary Catherine rejects the notion that Colin killed his aunt, but someone threatens her by injuring her beloved cat Balor and makes nasty calls to her show. When she gets injured after someone breaks in her home, former cop Charlie, now a private eye is hired to protect her. He is like a guardian angel after someone cuts her brake lines. However in spite of him, an unknown adversary plans to make Mary Catherine deceased number two,

Joyce & Jim Lavene always write a charming cozy that immerses the reader deep into the story line. THE TELLTALE TURTLE is no exception as the audience will enjoy middle aged Mary Catherine’s antics as the heroine does not slow down for a breather especially since her menagerie includes new guest Tommy, her cat Balor, a horde of canines, and some sly squirrels, etc. Plus she has a case to work as the cops focus on Colin while she looks elsewhere. The audience will enjoy this fine lighthearted tale and look forward to more capers in this delightful series.

Harriet Klausner

Sexy Beast V-Kate Douglas, Vonna Harper, Crystal Jordan

Sexy Beast V
Kate Douglas, Vonna Harper, Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758219893

"Chanku Wild” by Kate Douglas. Shapeshifters Oliver Chen and Mei are obvious Chanku lifemates. However, although they love each other, they have one humongous problem that threatens to keep them apart. He is wolf and she is snow leopard.

"Night Scream" by Vonna Harper. Near Flagstaff, skeptic Amy Murphy attends a Walapai Apache ceremony. That is until Tohon confronts her to learn the meaning behind the cry of the puma, to deal with life’s difficulties past and present lives, and to love sex in any shape or form.

"In Ice" by Crystal Jordan. In the distant future, Jain Roberts’ ship crashes on an icy planet where she is rescued by Kesuk, clan leader of the shapeshifting Arctic Bears. He entices her with sexy dreams that he plans to make real.

These three paranormal erotic romances are fun tales to read. Kate Douglas’ contribution is well written and continues her series, but newcomers will be lost without at least reading Wolf Tales VI. Sub-genre fans will enjoy these hot romantic fantasies especially the were-bear melting the ice around Jain’s heart and the introspective relationship of “Night Scream”.

Harriet Klausner

Everlasting Bad Boys-Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden, Noelle Mack

Everlasting Bad Boys
Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden, Noelle Mack
Kensington Brava, Sep 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758228505

"Can't Get Enough” by Shelly Laurenston. Ailean the Wicked is one bad ass shapeshifter who is renowned for his fighting skills as a human and as a dragon. He has captured dragoness Shalin the Innocent with plans to win her even though her inflamed bellicose family want to make him toast.

"Spellbound" by Cynthia Eden. Someone wants witch Serena Tyme and her coven dead. Desperate as the adversary is obviously very powerful, she summons soul-hunter Luis D’Amil’s to save her and the other witches. His price is her.

“Turn Me On” by Noelle Mack. Marketing analyst Beth Danforth loves her new job at SpectraSign and not just because she is half in love with her boss Justin Watts, the firms electrifying CEO.

Sub-genre fans will enjoy these three fine paranormal romances though the tones differ even as each stars a bod boy of an otherworldly species. Surprisingly the women seem more developed than the males as their “badness” never fully comes across. Still these are entertaining tales that widen the bad boys’ concept into fantasy realms.

Harriet Klausner

Addicted -Lydia Parks

Addicted
Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758228451

"Once Bitten”. Vampire Jake Brand is a caring person who needs blood for sustenance, but always politely asks permission of a possible donor. He also insures his volunteers enjoy the sexual experience of being with him. His world is perfect until he meets the human Athena, who has him dreaming of being a monogamist blood eater.

"Bite Me Again". Centuries old vampire Daniel Ward is proud of his ability to take blood while sexually satisfying his volunteers. However, he is very careful with his donors for he still remembers his youthful salad days when the bloodlust overcame his control. Now after decades of self control, he meets Meg who heats up his blood with passion and desire he has not felt in hundreds of years.

The lead couples are similar as the vampires are compassionate caring souls who feel strongly to take blood without permission is rape and the human females who boil their blood are somewhat innocent sharp women. Both tales are filled with bite as alpha vamps fall for feisty mortals making fun to read novellas; Lydia Parks delivers a pair of well written erotic vampire romances


Harriet Klausner

I Want You to Want Me-Kathy Love

I Want You to Want Me
Kathy Love
Kensington Brava, Sep 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758218575

Allegedly Erika Todd insists she moved to New Orleans to be close to her recently married friend and to jump-start her career as a sculptor. In reality she knows she moved because her fortune teller, known for accuracy, insisted she must starting with her now house mate, a black cat. The only thing that has not happened yet is finding her true love.

She is attracted to her neighbor Vittorio Ridgewood, but he avoids her like she has the plague. He knows he wants her too, but the two century old vampire has sworn off mortals as they die leaving him forlorn; grieving is not worth the short time he would give away his heart. His perspective radically changes when his stalker abducts her.

The sequel to ANYWAY YOU WANT IT is an entertaining paranormal romantic suspense romp. The fast-paced story line centers on whether Erika can persuade Vittorio that he only has fangs for her; she fails until the “matchmaking” kidnapper forces the issue; albeit deep into the plot. Vampire romance fans will enjoy this amusing tale between the immortal and the human sculptor.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Freezing Point-Karen Dionne

Freezing Point
Karen Dionne
Jove Books, Oct 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 051514536X

Fresh water has become an increasingly scarce luxury for many people around the globe. Environmentalist Ben Maki believes he can fix the supply and demand issue by melting the Antarctic ice. However, many doubters think it can’t be done and skeptics feel the unregulated corporate world, which Maki, belongs to, will keep supply low in order to insure the price is exorbitant and water trickles down at the rate the market place deems profitable.

Maki and the world’s leading scientists and technocrats begin a trial run of his model. However, disease attacks the researchers killing several and Antarctic rat packs swarm all over the human bases. Maki’s dream is shattered as he and his peers struggle to escape the deadly continent.

When this well written engaging thriller focuses on the science and the related scientific ethics, FREEZING POINT is a great tale. When the plot switches to killing rodents, the sensationalism increases the excitement level at the cost of losing its prime focus point on humanity’s inhuman bottom line failures by turning into an inane horror tale. Still this is a fascinating and thought provoking work as the next great global war is not oil but over water.
Harriet Klausner

Crusade: Destroyermen, Book II-Taylor Anderson

Crusade: Destroyermen, Book II
Taylor Anderson
Roc, Oct 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 0451462300

US Navy Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker still struggle to adjust to being on an alternate earth. However, he knows they do not have any time to understand how they were transported and how to get home. Instead he and his team train their local allies, the gentle peace-loving Lemurian, for war against the feral reptilian Grand Swarm of Grik.

However, the scenario turns even uglier for the displaced World War II Americans. A Japanese battle cruiser from their earth has arrived. The War in the Pacific has expanded to this alternate earth.

This is a terrific graphic sequel to INTO THE STORM as readers will believe they are part of Reddy’s crew with fully described sea, air and land battles and a typhoon to add to the overall chaos. The story line is filled with action, but the bottom line is Taylor Anderson’s deep look at the deterioration of unit and individual values in combat. Does for instance the seven modern day Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage truly hold up when the enemy has overwhelming fire power that leaves your comrades dead, dying or severely injured?

Harriet Klausner

Found You-Mary SanGiovanni

Found You
Mary SanGiovanni
Leisure, Oct 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843961102

The Hollowers come from another dimension through a rip that allows them to enter other worlds. They have no features on their faces and thus can’t smell, hear, taste or see and they wear a fedora, a black trench coat and dark clothing and shoes. They look at humans as tasty meat though they never kill directly. They can feel a person’s fears and use those insecurities and trepidations to kill other humans or have them commit suicide. In Lakehaven six people actually killed a Hollower by studying its ways and learning what weapon to use (see THE HOLLOWER).

Of the sextet, Sally becomes a resident of the Oak Hills Assisted Living Center. One night she hears voices and sees changes in the facility. She believes the Primary Hollower is there to avenge the death of the Secondary. Detective Steve Corimar informs Sally’s brother David of her death. Steve knows that similar deaths have occurred by the Hollowers. Now others are targeted like Jake and Dorrie. Those survivors and the two new additions unite to fight the Primary Hollower who is much more powerful than the one they were barely fortunate to have killed.

This sequel is as scary as the original so after finishing the tale readers will leave lights on as the dark is too “noisy”. FOUND YOU is frightening from the opening message that the Primary whispers to Sally and never slows down. The tale is told by the multiple perspectives of scared individuals who know what to expect so are even more afraid but won’t turn away from this fight.. Mindful of early Dean Koontz, Mary SanGiovanni is a horror writer worth reading (if you can afford the electric bill).

Harriet Klausner

Belisarius I Thunder at Dawn-David Drake & Eric Flint

Belisarius I Thunder at Dawn
David Drake & Eric Flint
Baen, Sep 2008
ISBN: 9781416555681

"An Oblique Approach". Byzantium Emperor Justinian selected his Thracian bodyguard to lead his army. On the way to assume his command role, Monk Michael of Macedonia and Bishop Anthony Cassian meet with him. They give him a crystal that he grasps; he sees Northern India's Malwa Empire conquering the world, leaving a path of destruction and death no one could envision. He and trusted allies begin a top secret project to insure his vision of the future never occurs even as he begins rebuilding the army at Daras. However they lack solid Intel about their future foe; or they would know something beyond human understanding is guiding the deadly treacherous Malwa.

"In the Heart of Darkness". In India seeking intelligence on the enemy and assisted by the futuristic Aide though that intelligence makes little sense to the Byzantium general, Belisarius meets with Lord Venandakatra insisting he will switch sides for the right price. However, he also sets up a ploy to liberate Princess Shakuntala, the last survivor of the Satavahana dynasty over run by the Malwa. He tries to hide his duplicity; he succeeds until he meets his archenemy Link the future supercomputer who possesses the body of a Malwa. Realizing Link can "read" him; Belisarus and his comrades are forced to flee.

These two reprints are the opening acts of the Belisarius alternate history saga as two opposing groups from the future intervene in Justinian’s “present” era. The tales are well written especially the first fascinating one. However, “In the Heart of Darkness” is a mixed bag as readers fully grasp the differences between the methodologies employed by the futurists with their respective intervention, but the era does not come alive as much as it should (as the plot especially early does in “An Oblique Approach”). Still sub-genre fans will enjoy this reprint of a fine saga that blends real historical fifth century persona with fictional intruders from the future.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hostage to Pleasure-Nalini Singh

Hostage to Pleasure
Nalini Singh
Berkley, Sep 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425223253

The Psy Council orders scientist Ashaya Aleine to conduct research that she finds is an abomination. However she feels cornered with no options as the Council has abducted her son Keenan and she knows how nasty their torture can be.

Ashaya assists the Changelings who rescue several kidnapped children. In return she pleads with the Changelings to liberate her child. Changeling sniper Dorian Christensen hates all Psy who he holds culpable for the murder of his sister. However, to his chagrin he and his inner leopard essence are attracted to Dorian. When she risks her life to defy the Council, he knows he must help her and her son although he expects to die in the effort.

HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE, the fifth Psy-Changeling, is an excellent urban fantasy romance that stars two terrific lead antagonists who have reasons to distrust one another; making love unwelcome. The story line is cleverly devised so that this exciting tale can be read by as a stand alone, but for saga fans adds depth to the overall “super” plot. The sub-genre audience will enjoy this entire wonderful series (see MINE TO POSSESS, SLAVE TO SENSATION, VISIONS OF HEAT and CARESSED BY ICE).

Harriet Klausner

Jinx-Jennifer Estep

Jinx
Jennifer Estep
Berkley, Sep 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425220627

Bella Bulluci detests her superpower as luck can fortunately be good, but the odds are just as strong it can be bad. Her current concern is the upcoming museum exhibit, Whimsical Wonders; as she is in charge, but fears her luck could turn sour and hurt the show.

Bella feels like she jinxed herself and the exhibit when someone tries to steal the show-stopping piece, the magnificent star sapphire. Soon after that the teleporting art thief Debonair kidnaps Bella. As they become acquainted she believes her luck has turned good as they begin to fall in love and she persuades him to help her prevent the supervillains from succeeding when they attempt to steal the star sapphire again.

The latest satirical superhero romantic fantasy (see KARMA GIRL and HOT MAMA) is an amusing tale that will remind readers of the movies Pure Luck and Just My Luck. The story line is fast-paced with a strong cast especially the cynical lead female who laments her life as being bad luck to have such a lame power that can go in either direction. Fans who appreciate a lighthearted whimsical spoof will enjoy being jinxed by Jennifer Estep.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Curse-Christine Feehan

Dark Curse
Christine Feehan
Berkley, Sep 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425223437

Carpathian Nicolas De La Cruz has come home to report bad news to his prince. However, he also plans to commit suicide ending his centuries of loneliness.

Lara Calladine has finally escaped the ice prison of her abusive father and even eviler grandfather. A half-breed she spent her childhood tortured by the pair in odious experiments to understand the dilution of her dragonkeeper bloodline with human DNA. She knows they are coming for her although that might be the nightmares that frighten her. When she and Nicholas meet, Lara knows she has found her soulmate; so has Nicholas, but trust of another person is something she has learned first hand to never do. Still the time to confront her nightmares is now as she has a persistent champion demanding to be at her side.

The latest Dark novel is a superb entry that can stand by itself as a powerful romantic fantasy yet also augments the super saga plot. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action; both trademarks of Christine Feehan. Lara makes the tale excellent as a unique individual who has suffered torment and torture her entire life. Nicholas realizes rather quickly that he has her love, but gaining her trust seems impossible even as he risks his life to help her. Ms. Feehan provides a terrific thriller to the delight of the Carpathian crowd.

Harriet Klausner

Servant: The Acceptance-L.L. Foster

Servant: The Acceptance
L.L. Foster
Berkley, Sep 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515145328

The AWAKENING of Gabrielle Cody as God's “servant” warrior fighting evil has not been easy, but the ACCEPTANCE has occurred. She did not realize when she accepted her mantle was the bipolar lifestyle swings between extreme boredom and extreme adrenaline. She especially misses Detective Luther Cross, who she pushed out of her life although he is who makes her feel like a human female and not some modern day Joan of Arc or Buffy.

Something malevolent is torturing and killing prostitutes. Gabby vows to protect the women from their predator. She makes friends with some of the hookers, which makes her godly mission of divine retribution more difficult to accomplish as it hurts to see them harmed. Worse Luther is on the case too; he knows she is his worst nightmare as he wants her but distrusts this vigilante.

The latest "Servant" horror thriller is an exciting tale as the vile villain is as nasty as they come. To defeat the evil one, Gabby and Luther need to team up, but neither trusts the other fully; in some ways they do not trust themselves to perform their duty properly when they are together because of the distraction of the attraction. Fans will read this in one scary sitting as L.L. Foster turns on the lights.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deadly Redemption-Kathleen Korbel

Deadly Redemption
Kathleen Korbel
Silhouette Nocturne, Sep 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617944

Queen of the Faeries Mab remains outraged by her daughter Orla’s efforts to seize the throne from her. To punish her upstart offspring, Mab orders Orla to marry the Dubhlainn Sidhe dark faery.

Orla knows before she arrives that the dark faeries are brutally chauvinistic as they believe men must rule with an iron fist. However, she is pleased with her mother’s choice of a spouse when she meets him; as she is attracted to Prince Liam the Avenger. He reciprocates but hides his feelings as he does not trust her to not cause a revolt amongst the Dubhlainn Sidhe. Instead he is aloof and short with her even while she tries to repair the problems she brought to the Kingdom of the Faeries when she tried to displace her mom.

The third daughter of Queen Man romantic fantasy (see DANGEROUS TEMPTATION and DARK SEDUCTION) is an engaging thriller as Orla feels remorse and guilt for the trouble she has wrought to the land of Faerie. Liam is a superb alpha male who hides his desire, attraction, and love behind a chauvinistic bravado. Fans will appreciate Kathleen Korbel's fine tale as Orla peels away his fa├žade with her courage and obsessive need to save the world.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Serpent-Anna Leonard

The Night Serpent
Anna Leonard
Silhouette Nocturne, Sep 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617951

The nightmares that have never allowed her to properly sleep have become more frequent and intense lately. Bank teller Lily Malkin has always been disturbed by them, but since she never remembers detail of what frightens her, she does her best to ignore them though lingering odd memories remain of what feels like someone else’s ancient life haunt her.

FBI special agent Jon T. Patrick has followed a vicious serial cat killer to town where he meets Lily, a volunteer at a feline shelter. Jon fears his target will soon switch victims to humans; Lily wonders if her nightmares are because she hears the Cat Whisperers’ death meows just before the shadowy Night Serpent brutal ritual killing of male cats.

With Egyptian feline mythology serving as an underlying basis, Anna Leonard provides readers with a gripping paranormal suspense thriller. Lily is the key to the tale (no pun intended) as her nightmares are so vivid they seem real; that element adds to the belief that what is happening is genuine. Perhaps as important is the romantic subplot plays a support role to the prime taut horror story line.

Harriet Klausner

Prey-Melina Morel

Prey
Melina Morel
Signet, Sep 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451225412

In New York City, werecat siblings Vivian and Marc Roussel own a successful Russian artifact import business. However, when someone breaks into their warehouse and steals a valuable icon, the Roussels know they need outside expert help in protection and security.

They hire Russian Blue werecat Pavel Federov to provide the security to their firm and their persons. Pavel is shocked by how deep his attraction is for Vivian; his brain keeps insisting she is just another client, but the rest of his body argues much more eloquently. Assailants abduct Vivian, but she manages to escape compounding their belief this is bigger than a break and entry. As the trio search for the icon and Vivian and Pavel fall in love werecat style, adversarial killers make deadly concerted efforts to obtain the priceless artifact and Vivian.

Romantic urban fantasy suspense readers will relish Melina Morel’s werecats in Manhattan thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the first moment that Pavel meets his new clients and never slows down as predators are everywhere. As with the fabulous paranormal horror thriller DEVOUR, PREY keeps the romance in line as foremost this tale is an excellent paranormal mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 11, 2008

Institutional Memory-Gary Frank

Institutional Memory
Gary Frank
Medallion, Oct 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836409

In the Howard Phillips building, Osprey Publishing employee Sharon Walters hums a Bacharach song as she heads to the basement to retrieve some boxes to store files inside. She hears soft metallic noises moving in the ceiling above her. Sensing danger she heads for the elevator when metal cables imprison her and begin to hurt her. A coworker Marcy Browne becomes concerned when Sharon fails to return from the short trip so in spite of her fear of the basement she persuades Bernie Thompson to go downstairs with her to see if her friend is all right. They find nothing except creepy maintenance man Leo and a call to the cops say they will do nothing over a disappearance without foul play.

They hear strange metallic noises and cables begin going after the staff. One of the employees mentions alien pure energy possession of the five story Phillips building has occurred. This energy essence feeds on the fears of the people trapped by it. Workers are dying one at a time. However, mousy Marcy, Jon Simpson, and Bettie Winters unite to battle the evil before there is none.

INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY is sort of placing Christie’s And Then There Were None inside a slasher-horror thriller. The assault starts from the opening pages and never slows down as the building’s evil entity keeps the attacks coming and the audience spellbound with reading what happens next. Although character development is minimized except to a degree mousy Marcy, readers will enjoy this spellbinding supernatural tale while wondering if the boss would accept fear of the office building as an excused absence.

Harriet Klausner

Johnny Gruesome-Gregory Lamberson

Johnny Gruesome
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion, Oct 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781934755457

Although they are polar opposites Red Hill high school students John "Johnny Gruesome" Grissom and Eric Carter are best friends; at least the latter thinks they are. Also clinging to Gruesome as if they are groupies to a rock star are his girlfriend Karen Slatter and dealer Gary Belter. Whereas Gruesome is angry at the world and recently at God since his mom died, Carter is making plans to go to college.

In icy Willow Creek, Johnny is found dead inside his Death Mobile car. The townsfolk assume he drove too fast on the wintry night. However, soon after his corpse is recovered, gruesome murders by a particular vicious avenging serial killer haunts the town. With the sounds of a car engine revving and a laugh from hell, those who hurt Johnny Gruesome are being mutilated. Eric, Karen and Gary have reasons to worry that their late leader is coming for them too as they believe he knows what they did.

JOHNNY GRUESOME is a vivid horror thriller that hooks the audience from the moment John’s mom waits for him with open arms at the top of a heavenly light, but the angry teen says no and with determination returns to his autopsy body. He becomes a sort of thinking doing zombie ghost who as his body rots continue his terror quest. It is the details that make Gregory Lamberson’s thriller exciting and fun to read in a gruesome way.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Night Children-Kit Reed

The Night Children
Kit Reed
Starscape (Tor), Oct 2008, $17.95
ISBN: 9780765320384

People come from around the world to spend time at the Castertown MegaMall. Rich and poor they all flock to this premier wonder of the modern world. When last call occurs, zillions of people vacate the premises heading mostly to nearby hotels so they can easily return to shop until they drop.

However, at closing not everyone leaves. Tonight sitting in a car at the top of the internationally acclaimed WhirlyFunride is local junior high school student Jule Deveraux following a fight with her guardian Aunt Christy over misplacing her cell phone; the next morning her only known living relative was gone without leaving a note. Knowing what happens to unsupervised teen orphans, the feisty thirteen years old hides in the mall for now. However, she is not alone as the Castertown MegaMall contains residents of the night. Two rival gangs consisting of abandoned and runaway teens, tweeners and even younger children battle for mall supremacy. The Castertown Crazies headed by Tick Stiles fight with the Dingos led by Burt Arno. Neither chieftain nor the newcomer they each want to join their side understands the real war is to begin. Castertown MegaMall owner Amos Zozz resents these young rats living and abusing his facility; extermination and youthful cleansing are coming military style to THE NIGHT CHILDREN; there hope to survive depends on a loner who belongs to no one.

This is an exciting middle school thriller that hooks the audience from the moment the confused Jule meets the two rival gang leaders and learns the eyes of the kids are upon the unaware visitors. The story line is fast-paced from the onset yet provides moral insight into the social issue of what to do about unsupervised young that is summed up by a key secondary character who says: “Because you can’t treat people like that”. Kit Reed provides a strong parable of the richest society being so indifferent that they ignore the plights of the poor unless it negatively affects the bottom line.

Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Karen Traviss

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Karen Traviss
Del Rey, Jul 2008, $20.00
ISBN: 034550898X

The Clone War between the Separatists and the Republic takes a strange twist when agents of the former kidnap Rotta the infant son of Jabba the Hutt from his Tattoine palace. Jabba offers a deal to the Republic; he will allow their vessels safe access of his space sector in exchange for the rescue of his child.

The Republic, knowing the strategic value of Hutt’s zone especially at a time their adversaries are winning, assigns Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to conduct the rescue mission. Besides a top military unit, accompanying them is newly assigned apprentice fourteen year old Ahsoka for Skywalker to train. Separatist leader Count Dooku learns of the Republic’s efforts to obtain the Hutt offspring; he knows the incredible morale boost to his side and the devastation mentally to the already shaky enemy’s confidence with the killing of Skywalker “The Chosen One”. He assigns assassin Asajj Ventress to kill the knight and his master and sends battle droids to insure none escape.

Tied to the Clone Wars TV saga, this is a fast-paced exciting Star Wars military science fiction thriller. The action-packed story line never slows from start to finish, but the plot premise is a bit thin beyond the vivid battle scenes. In some ways the novel feels as if Karen Traviss prime directive was to introduce key players from the TV series. Still it is well written and fun to read as the readers realize how desperate the Republic needs to partner with Hutt, who feels out of character as a drooling caring father.

Harriet Klausner

Cyndere's Midnight-Jeffrey Overstreet

Cyndere's Midnight
Jeffrey Overstreet
Waterbrook, Sep 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9781400072538

To be or not to be is the question that Cyndere asks herself every day at the water’s edge. The widow grieves the loss of her spouse Deuneroi. He was more than just her husband; they shared a common dream of trying to help the Beastmen. She struggles to live another day although she is the House of Bel Amica’s heiress because she no longer dreams except for leaping off the top of the Stairway Rock. Besides losing her husband, the Beastmen who they wanted to assist killed him in cold blood.

Jordam the Beastman has heard of the enchantment of Auralia’s Colors; his cursed tribe especially his three blood thirsty brothers think he is crazy as they hear nothing. To his chagrin, Jordam finds himself thinking of shades of consequences that he and his Beastmen do in their black and white berserker rages. When he meets the grieving Cyndere he sees first hand the impact on a person; adding to his guilt, she wants to help him rather than he her. Still confused, as his siblings prepare to attack the House of Abascar, he must decide whether to help Cyndere defend the place or join his brothers; the former feels foreign but right while the latter feels instinctive but wrong. Either way he chooses to ally himself will impact the kingdoms of The Expanse so that they will never be the same.

The “Blue Strand” sequel to “The Red Strand” thread (of AURALIA'S COLORS) is a wonderful fantasy starring a grieving widow with nothing to live for since her mate and with him their dream, was murdered until she meets Jordam. He gives her a renewal of faith by lifting off the hopelessness that engulfed her; she now has a reason to live. In some ways the confused Jordan is the more fascinating character as his world has changed from that of his siblings; whereas they think in terms of us and them; he understands complex interweaving colors of us, us, and more us. CYNDERE'S MIDNIGHT is an entertaining wonderful fairy tale.

Harriet Klausner

Key to Redemption-Talia Gryphon

Key to Redemption
Talia Gryphon
Ace, Sep 30 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0441016448

Dracula brings war to other vampires who challenge his right to rule; he kills Paramortals and other Metamortals have vanished and the population of various specious has been dramatically cleansed. Opposing the vicious Count are Lord Vampire Aleksei Rachlav and his supporters including Vampires and the Fey, Sidhe and Elven kingdoms. Aleksie’s Romanian castle is the headquarters of the Paramortall allies in their war against Dracula and his horde.

Also at his side is his lover healer warrior Gillian Key who provides Paramortal psychological therapy. Her patients include Samuel Frank, Frankenstein’s creation suffering from depression over his singular existence; Tuuli, the female Sidhe who looks like a monster due to a curse who is, seeking help with her depression because she looks like a monster; a vampire who insists on hiding in the nearby inn so nobody will recognize him and Perrin Garnier the Phantom who loves the opera but wears a mask to hide the part of his face that makes him look like a monster. Perrin wants Gillian to help him be comfortable in his skin and learn how to have a woman want him and have sex him even if he removes his mask.. As she works with all her patients in Aleski’s castle an old enemy is coming to kill Gillian and she will need the help of all her friends to survive.

KEY TO REDEMPTION is a fantastic satirical urban fantasy that never takes itself seriously as it lampoons the works of great fantasists like Laurell K. Hamilton. The story line focuses mostly on the interactions of the supernatural shrink with Aleksei and with her weird patients, but especially on Perrin who brings a fascinating French continental charm as she works to heal his mind and he works to capture her heart. With more of a romantic triangle spin this time, therapy will never be the same since Talia Gryphon introduced this key element to the war between the Paramortals (see the military urban fantasy KEY TO CONFLICT and the more pure horror KEY TO CONSPIRACY.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Dangerous Climate-Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

A Dangerous Climate
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Tor, Oct 2008, $27.95
ISBN: 9780765319814

In 1704 vampire Count Saint-Germain is in Saint Petersburg, which is being built by Russian laborers under the direction of elite European specialists. Saint-Germain directs the construction of machinery to drain the marshes so that building can commence. He is to observe and report all that is going on in the city to the King of Poland.

Saint-Germain is pretending to be the missing Arpad Arco-Tolvay. Zozia, who is the real Arpad’s wife, pretends to be a married to Saint-Germain so as a couple they can fit in easier with the horde of other foreign nationals flooding the construction site. She has her own orders from Poland’s king to carry out. They are there less than a week when Saint-Germain is attacked and left for dead. A second assault affirms what he already knew that someone wants him dead, but he has no idea as to who or why as he has not been around long enough to have made enemies. More troubles follow when Lajos Rogoczi arrives insisting that Saint-Germain is dead and as such he owns the properties in Russia. Saint-Germain has to prove Lajos is a lying imposter without giving away his identity.

Reading about Saint Petersburg being built on top of a swamp is fascinating as politicians and their retinue arrives allegedly as a display of diplomatic support to the Tsar, but in actuality to spy on the Russians and one another. Saint-Germain is his usual urbane self even when he allows Zozia to order him around. A DANGEROUS CLIMATE is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at her outstanding best as the thirty-seven hundred years old vampire, star of a zillion novels, is caught in quite a conundrum.

Harriet Klausner

A Dangerous Climate-Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

A Dangerous Climate
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Tor, Oct 2008, $27.95
ISBN: 9780765319814

In 1704 vampire Count Saint-Germain is in Saint Petersburg, which is being built by Russian laborers under the direction of elite European specialists. Saint-Germain directs the construction of machinery to drain the marshes so that building can commence. He is to observe and report all that is going on in the city to the King of Poland.

Saint-Germain is pretending to be the missing Arpad Arco-Tolvay. Zozia, who is the real Arpad’s wife, pretends to be a married to Saint-Germain so as a couple they can fit in easier with the horde of other foreign nationals flooding the construction site. She has her own orders from Poland’s king to carry out. They are there less than a week when Saint-Germain is attacked and left for dead. A second assault affirms what he already knew that someone wants him dead, but he has no idea as to who or why as he has not been around long enough to have made enemies. More troubles follow when Lajos Rogoczi arrives insisting that Saint-Germain is dead and as such he owns the properties in Russia. Saint-Germain has to prove Lajos is a lying imposter without giving away his identity.

Reading about Saint Petersburg being built on top of a swamp is fascinating as politicians and their retinue arrives allegedly as a display of diplomatic support to the Tsar, but in actuality to spy on the Russians and one another. Saint-Germain is his usual urbane self even when he allows Zozia to order him around. A DANGEROUS CLIMATE is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at her outstanding best as the thirty-seven hundred years old vampire, star of a zillion novels, is caught in quite a conundrum.

Harriet Klausner

A Dangerous Climate-Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

A Dangerous Climate
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Tor, Oct 2008, $27.95
ISBN: 9780765319814

In 1704 vampire Count Saint-Germain is in Saint Petersburg, which is being built by Russian laborers under the direction of elite European specialists. Saint-Germain directs the construction of machinery to drain the marshes so that building can commence. He is to observe and report all that is going on in the city to the King of Poland.

Saint-Germain is pretending to be the missing Arpad Arco-Tolvay. Zozia, who is the real Arpad’s wife, pretends to be a married to Saint-Germain so as a couple they can fit in easier with the horde of other foreign nationals flooding the construction site. She has her own orders from Poland’s king to carry out. They are there less than a week when Saint-Germain is attacked and left for dead. A second assault affirms what he already knew that someone wants him dead, but he has no idea as to who or why as he has not been around long enough to have made enemies. More troubles follow when Lajos Rogoczi arrives insisting that Saint-Germain is dead and as such he owns the properties in Russia. Saint-Germain has to prove Lajos is a lying imposter without giving away his identity.

Reading about Saint Petersburg being built on top of a swamp is fascinating as politicians and their retinue arrives allegedly as a display of diplomatic support to the Tsar, but in actuality to spy on the Russians and one another. Saint-Germain is his usual urbane self even when he allows Zozia to order him around. A DANGEROUS CLIMATE is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at her outstanding best as the thirty-seven hundred years old vampire, star of a zillion novels, is caught in quite a conundrum.

Harriet Klausner

A Dangerous Climate-Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

A Dangerous Climate
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Tor, Oct 2008, $27.95
ISBN: 9780765319814

In 1704 vampire Count Saint-Germain is in Saint Petersburg, which is being built by Russian laborers under the direction of elite European specialists. Saint-Germain directs the construction of machinery to drain the marshes so that building can commence. He is to observe and report all that is going on in the city to the King of Poland.

Saint-Germain is pretending to be the missing Arpad Arco-Tolvay. Zozia, who is the real Arpad’s wife, pretends to be a married to Saint-Germain so as a couple they can fit in easier with the horde of other foreign nationals flooding the construction site. She has her own orders from Poland’s king to carry out. They are there less than a week when Saint-Germain is attacked and left for dead. A second assault affirms what he already knew that someone wants him dead, but he has no idea as to who or why as he has not been around long enough to have made enemies. More troubles follow when Lajos Rogoczi arrives insisting that Saint-Germain is dead and as such he owns the properties in Russia. Saint-Germain has to prove Lajos is a lying imposter without giving away his identity.

Reading about Saint Petersburg being built on top of a swamp is fascinating as politicians and their retinue arrives allegedly as a display of diplomatic support to the Tsar, but in actuality to spy on the Russians and one another. Saint-Germain is his usual urbane self even when he allows Zozia to order him around. A DANGEROUS CLIMATE is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at her outstanding best as the thirty-seven hundred years old vampire, star of a zillion novels, is caught in quite a conundrum.

Harriet Klausner

Double Enchantment-Kathryne Kennedy

Double Enchantment
Kathryne Kennedy
Love Spell, Sep 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527639

In 1848 Lady Jasmina Karlyle is frantic when she realizes her mom is a thief. To protect her mother, she vows to return the stolen item to its rightful owner. To do so without repercussions, she casts a spell creating a shadowy double of her self with plans to eliminate her other half once the mission is achieved.

To her dismay, Jasmina learns too late that the artifact her mom stole is the Relic of Merlin, which she learns means her “twin” lives. At a London ball, were-stallion Sir Sterling Thorn and Jaz meet and are attracted to one another. Although she is a distracter from his mission of finding his missing sister, they share an incredible sexual encounter. Soon afterward they marry. However, when his spouse vanishes, he learns the truth that he wed the doppelganger of Jasmina. With the prince urging them to find the Relic of Merlin, they agree to team up to do his royal bidding and find his vanished sibling and his missing spouse, her shadow twin.

The second Relics of Merlin alternate history saga (see ENCHANTING THE LADY) is a fabulous romantic Victorian fantasy with a clever twist in which the love triangle is complicated by his falling in love with the shadow twin and then the original twin. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jasmina casts her spell and never slows down as she and Sterling seek her doppelganger, his sister, the relic and lucidity to their convoluted DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT relationship.

Harriet Klausner

Hands of Flame-C.E. Murphy

Hands of Flame
C.E. Murphy
Luna, Sep 2008, $14.95
ISBN: 0373802706

Five Old Races negotiator Margrit Knight has macro and micro worries. The big issue is war is imminent between the five Old Races and in spite of her vocation she feels helpless to prevent it. Making matters more complex for the lawyer is the micro concerns that are personal to her though not on the grand scale of the war. Her lover Alban Korund the gargoyle is incarcerated and her family and friends, so innocently human, are expendable pawns.

As she tries to negotiate a peaceful settlement, obtain Alban’s release and keep the troubles from harming her loved ones, she feels all alone. However, she has met three questionable associates who on the one hand want to help her, but also two of them seem to have hidden agendas that might prove deadly to Margrit. Janx the dragon is angry and acrimonious as he wants return to the soaring highest of his species running a major underworld criminal activity not live in a hovel underground and Eliseo Daisani the billionaire vampire feels slighted as he dreams of biting respect. Finally the NYPD detective thinks gang warfare on the streets of the city is out of control. Adding to Margrit’s woes the paranormal pair appears to look forward to the war.

The third Negotiator urban fantasy is a fast-paced, action-packed tale with spins and twists that make Broadway look like Lombard St. Margrit is courageous, perhaps too much so, as she dives head first into one dangerous mess after another with three goals to fuel her adrenaline: prevent the war, liberate her daytime HEART OF STONE lover, and keep her family safe even as she sees her world collapsing like a HOUSE OF CARDS. HANDS OF FLAME is an engaging tale that sub-genre fans will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Red Country-Sylvia Kelso

The Red Country
Sylvia Kelso
Five Star, Oct 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 1594147078

With an ego bigger than the Kingdom of Everran and logic smaller than a grain of sand, haughty Princess Sellithar runs away from the palace in Saphar to follow a dream in the Hethria desert as sitting on the throne has proven to be a nightmare. Rebels from within plot sedition to remove the young royal and formerly friendly larger neighbors plan to annex the kingdom. Her teacher Kastir, an Estar political exile, accompanies her hoping to keep her safe.

The pair meets many strange beings as they venture across the land. During their enlightening journey the desert people and the nearby farmers are in heated dispute. Sellithar feels a need to reconcile the two groups for the sake of the kingdom. She also begins to realize she must determine what to do about the telepathic legendary mage Zam who she is attracted to but in some ways fears because his allegiance is to Hethria.

The third Rihannar Chronicles tale (see EVERRAN’S BANE and THE MOVING WATER) is a great coming of age fantasy starring a fascinating young woman who must grow up fast to save her kingdom and her people. The story line is fast-paced from the onset with a theme somewhat similar to EVERRAN’S BANE. Although the vernacular can be a bit distracting (that is why a glossary is included) Sylvia Kelso writes a strong tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The January Dancer-Michael Flynn

The January Dancer
Michael Flynn
Tor, Oct 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780765318176

Captain Amos January directs his crew of six misfits to land their tramp freighter New Angeles on the un-chartered remote planet that orbits an unnamed sun so they can make necessary repairs. However to their delight they find ancient artifacts that were left behind by an unknown alien race who January realizes vanished before humanity took one giant step in space.

However, the real catch is the Dancer, an odd rock that somehow alters its shape. January and his crew are unable to draw any conclusions about this enigmatic stone. Soon afterward January finds he and his shipmates are the focus of assaults from government agents, cabals, pirates thieves, and collectors until somehow they inexplicably lose the Dancer. Those who obsessively crave to possess it will kill to obtain it; those who misfortunately possess it will kill to keep it.

The opening paragraph provides the philosophy behind this exhilarating science fiction thriller as Einstein deserves the blame for being right that “everything we marvel at is already gone”; the light of relativity is yesterday’s news. Thus rogues, cheats, scoundrels and romantic heroes all seek THE JANUARY DANCER, but none seems to be able to hold on to it beyond a fleeting moment. This tale is complex, as the prime character is an enigmatic object in which the “temporary “owners” and envious seekers keep switching identities. Readers who relish a complicated powerful outer space tale that makes the case that greed is the unified force that expands the universe will want to read the escapades of Captain January’s enigmatic Dancer.

Harriet Klausner

Half a Crown- Jo Walton

Half a Crown
Jo Walton
Tor, Oct 2008, $25.95
ISBN 9780765316219

In 1941 Britain and Germany signed the Farthing Peace accord, which allowed the English elite to continue to live an affluent lifestyle while “undesirables” like the Jews and any anti government protestors have been and still are shipped to Easton Europe in cattle cars. Nineteen years later, London hosts an international peace conference in which the three superpowers Britain, Germany and Japan plan to increase their respective spheres of influence.

Peter Carmichael left Scotland Yard to become head of the Watch, a secret police whose midnight raids have terrorized much of the country. His mission is to weed out dissenters and traitors as well as Jews. However, he tries to sneak the Jews to safety when he can. He also knows his relationship with his valet Jack, if discovered will send him to the camps in the east as that behavior is unacceptable. However, everything will soon come to a head for Peter when teenage ward Elvira Royston overhears a conversation that if she reveals will destroy her guardian.

One of the best alternate historical miniseries in recent years, the final tale is as terrific as its predecessors (see HA’PENNY and FARTHING) due to the strong characterizations. Readers obtain a taste of living under a totalitarian rule especially how the next generation, who were born after the Farthing Peace Accord, react; in many ways Elivra’s simple acceptance of the inevitability of human brutality makes the tale and the saga. In all the bleakness as the let them eat cake affluent party thrives while many suffer; there remain slight flickers of hope, but slowly they are being snuffed out.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Imaginary Friends-John Marco & Martin H. Greenberg (editors)

Imaginary Friends
John Marco & Martin H. Greenberg (editors)
Daw, Sep 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405113

The theme of this fine anthology is just what the title advertises, IMAGINARY FRIENDS, but with a fantasy or Twilight Zone twist that widens the scope of the collection. The compilation of all new tales is superb as each entry is well written with some being excellent. Person favorites include “A Good Day for Dragons” by Rick Hautala that kept me thinking of Pete’s Dragon, “Best Friends Forever” by Tim Waggoner stars Biff the stuffed animal, “Images of Death” by Jim C. Hines as the title character is a best friend who reminds the little girl of a Muppet, and the moving tale of sibling love “Greg and Eli” by Paul Genesse. The remaining tales are all fun reminding readers of their own IMAGINARY FRIENDS.

Harriet Klausner

Pandemonium-Daryl Gregory

Pandemonium
Daryl Gregory
Del Rey, Sep 2008, $13.00
ISBN: 9780345501165

Demonic possession was first noticed in the 1950s as one hundred demons leap from one person to another; infecting thousands. As a child Del Pierce was chosen by Hellion, but with his family and a psychologist, he kicked the demon out.

Years later, Del never fully recovered from his trauma. Two more incidents as a teen and as an adult has led to Del hearing voices and believing the Hellion has returned to reside in his head. Sleep has become a nightmare as Del hurts people and destroys property. He is hospitalized and receives sleeping pills which help, but is kicked out with little medicine when his insurance runs out. Del goes home to attend the International Conference on Possession; hoping that research by Dr. Ram will make him a demon-free zone so he no longer chains himself up at night. At the event Valis the demon (his human host is Philip K. Dick) introduces him to clairvoyant Mother Mariette; the Human league soldiers whose vision is a demon free earth want Del contained or dead.

Although Del Rey labels PANDEMONIUM as a young adult fantasy, the complex surrealistic story line takes a powerful psychological tour of the human mind from predominately Jungian theory. Demons are considered by Jung followers as archetypes of the collective unconscious; other theories also abound. However, Del is the key to this superb paranormal psychological thriller as he is the human posterboy of demon possession. This deep complicated thriller is a terrific allegorical tale that through demonic possession takes a fascinating look at mental disorders comparative to what is the acceptable norm.

Harriet Klausner