Monday, August 31, 2009

The Grave Thief-Tom Lloyd

The Grave Thief
Tom Lloyd
Pyr, Sep 22 2009, $16.00
ISBN 9781591027805

Humanity stunned the gods when they failed to cower, hide or bow to their superiors. Instead mankind had the audacity to fight. Outraged and stunned especially since their pets are actually winning, the gods turned to a different gameplan. They created the super Mortal-Aspects from the humans to serve as their warriors.

At Scree, Lord Isak, in spite of the visions of his death, led the Farlan to victory over the powerful shadow-god Azaer. However the human noble knows that was a minor temporary setback for the shadow god and devastated much of Scree. To the victors goes another battle as the bone weary Farlan must recruit rookies for the next fight; this time against Azaer and the well rested Menin while at the same time the Mortal Aspects are cutting a destructive path across the country.

Though the third tale of the Twilight Reign fantasy (see THE TWILIGHT HERALD and THE STORMCALLER), THE GRAVE THIEF feels more like a transitional middle book in a trilogy as nothing major ends. Still the story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action especially with the heroic efforts of Isak trying to get his exhausted force in pitch battle berserker frenzy. Fans will enjoy the latest entry, but also lament nothing closes.

Harriet Klausner

Dawnthief-James Barclay

James Barclay
PYR, Sep 22 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9781591027799

The war has devastated much of the Kingdom of Balaia. In that realm the Raven magnificent seven mercenaries are known for always getting the job done. These thieves know the key to their success is the six humans and one elf trust their respective back with one another.

They are rejoicing over another successful endeavor when their next assignment runs into them. The Wytch-Lords are on the verge of escaping their incarceration due to the stealing of an amulet that is critical to the Dawnthief spell which has imprisoned the arrogant demi-god mages. The Xetsek College of Magic demands they escort senior mage Denser, who insists he works for the gods, on a quest to retrieve the Dawnthief. The Raven seven mistrust any of the four colleges of magic whose mages would destroy their own kind for power as much as they have doubts about anyone who claims the Gods employ them. Still saving the planet from the return of the Wytch-Lords, if true, is more critical than worrying about their untrustworthy new allies for they each know they have “Raven”.

This is a terrific opening quest fantasy filled with fast-paced action and the belief that the mages have power and dragons exist. The use of the “Raven” to help the five warriors, one berserker warrior and an elven mage through difficult situations like when Hirard is trapped by a Dragon is a fantasy equivalent to the Three Musketeers. Although the cast is somewhat stereotyped out of the Tolkien 101 handbook; for instance with aging mercenaries considering retirement and all powerful mages causing collateral consequences that leave a world teetering, no one will care as James Barclay’s opening entry bodes well for a powerful saga.

Harriet Klausner

The Quiet War-Paul McAuley

The Quiet War
Paul McAuley
PYR, Sep 22 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9781591027812

The Brazilian cargo ship dropped off bio-engineer Macy Minnot at Rainbow City on the Jupiter moon of Callisto. She will work on creating a lake for the Callistan city as an act of friendship between Brazil and the Outer planets. However, Macy realizes there are agents whose mission is to prevent the needed lake from being developed. Her exposure of the nefarious scheme costs her immensely as she can never safely go home to earth and has become a target of espionage agents and psyops propagandists who label her a Quisling supporting the enemy. There are many in Brazil and on the Outers that want war. Those seeking an honest peaceful solution to the crisis like Mary are called traitors and harassed. She is arrested on false charges but is freed on the Saturn moon Dione as war seems imminent.

Professor Doctor Sri Hong-Owen leads the efforts to save earth following the massive ecological meltdown caused by global warming. Although not a member of the War Party, the scientist is allied with them. Macy meanwhile tries to tell the truth about her world, but the war drummers control the media; few listen to her until she meets Avernus who created the ecology that led to the Outer developments. Brazil sends its armada to conquer the Outers under a false charge while telling the masses this will be a cheap quiet war that will not touch them.

This is an exciting military science fiction that obviously parallels and thus makes a strong condemnation of the Bush invasion of Iraq while also providing a more even handed look at the debate between economic development and the ecology. The story line has several other sub-plots though what happens to Macy and Sri are the prime focus of this excellent thriller. Although the Outer communities seem off kilter for early settlements in hostile environs, sub-genre fans except for the Cheney crowd will enjoy Paul McAuley’s strong war in space saga.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Five Hundred Years After-Steven Brust

Five Hundred Years After
Steven Brust
Orb (Tor), Aug 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765319661

FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER the events of THE PHOENIX GUARDS, in which Khaavren fulfilled his life dream to become an Imperial Guard, he remains the same rank with little hope for promotion and no further aspirations. As he goes about his duty, the Dragaeran Empire leadership is very concerned as assassinations are happening seemingly everywhere even in safe havens.

Emperor Tortaalik I directs Captain Khaavren and his three still wary buddies and fellow Imperial Guards (Aerich, Tazendra and Pel) as well as others to investigate who is behind the killings. They and their allies soon uncover a great conspiracy fostered by unlikely partners starting with Dragonlord Adron and street urchins of Underside. At the same time the eldritch Sethra Lavode and Adron’s daughter Aliera are in the crosshairs.

This is a reprint of an early 1990s sequel that once again pays obvious homage to Alexandre Dumas. The saga occurs about five hundred years before the time that Vlad Taltos roamed Dragaera. The adventures of the four musketeers are fun to follow though none come across as more than courageous, loyal, but somewhat superficially charming rogues who still lack depth though have matured since they first joined the Imperial Guards. FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER is an engaging often amusing swashbuckling sword and sorcery fantasy that also introduces the reader to key characters in the Taltos era.

Harriet Klausner

Ariel-Steven R Boyett

Steven R Boyett
Ace, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441017942

Like everyone else who was there when the machines stopped working and the mythological creatures appeared, Pete Garey can tell you what he was doing at the precise moment, 4:30 to be exact when the lights went out as the Change occurred. A high school student at the time of the Change, he survived by scavenging what was taken for granted before the Change.

Pete was washing himself in waters that before the Change would go on fire when he sees the unicorn with her broken leg. He sets the leg with splints and they become traveling companions with Pete scavenging for food especially the impossible to find peppermints that Ariel loves. They meet Russ Chafney in the library in Atlanta and he takes them to Malachi Lee who teaches Pete to use a sword in a dangerous world in which guns being machines fail to work. However, a dangerous necromancer has learned of the unicorn and sent his minion led by the Griffin rider to either capture the beast or steal the horn. Malachi insists he will fight the necromancer alone in the evil one’s stronghold in Manhattan. However, Pete and Ariel follow him to New York City as he is their brother in arms.

This reprint of a strong post-apocalyptic fantasy is an engaging tale as good and evil center on a struggle to either befriend and protect; or incarcerate or kill the unicorn. The story is fast-paced especially once the lead couple reaches Atlanta, DC and NYC. Pete is a terrific as he must stay virgin pure to remain Ariel’s companion while the unicorn brings a coming of age (some not realistic) feel to the plot. Although the audience needs to ignore the reasons why the Change occurred as they are not forthcoming, ARIEL is a super tale with wry humor that asks whether a return to nature is the only way to save the planet from humanity.

Harriet Klausner

Dracula: The Un-Dead-Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Dracula: The Un-Dead
Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
Dutton,Oct 2009, $26.95
ISBN 9780525951292

Twenty-five years has passed since the horrific events of 1897 ended with Dracula turning into dust; none involved have moved on as each remains haunted by the encounter with the Count. Mina and Jonathon married, but neither obtained closure when the vampire was killed; stressed and estrnaged, they conceal from their son Quincey what happened. Seward survives with heroin while Holmwood became a hermit. Their mentor Van Helsing obsessively lives for the return of Dracula as the vampire’s death was his life’s goal so he has nothing else. Scotland Yard believes Van Helsing was involved in the unsolved Ripper murders.

In 1912, Stoker is frustrated as he struggles to convert his horror thriller Dracula to the London stage. However, although the author knows the full truth, he and the others except perhaps the ever vigilant Van Helsing are unprepared for a gruesome serial killer horrifying London. Scotland yard once again believes a fanatic Van Helsing is deeply connected to the killings, but too old to perform them. Those involved with what happened back then find themsleves and their loved ones under siege as if Van Helsing’s belief the Count will return from the dust has occurred. The survivors of the previous encounter regroup to battle evil again although they are unsure who stalks them.

This is a super vampire thriller that brings forward the stars of Dracula into the Edwardian Era with a where are they now tale. The clever story line is fast-paced while introducing the audience to the survivors of the previous horrific encounter to include Bram Stoker. Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt explore the essence of evil and good through a cast of humans who have used psychological defense mechanisms to barely survive and a vampire who may or may not be Dracula, but has the same attitude re the food chain as well as a thirst for the blood of vengeance. Filled with terrific twists fans of Dracula and those who appreciate a strong historical urban fantasy will relish the THE UN-DEAD.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 29, 2009

At Empire’s Edge-William C. Dietz

At Empire’s Edge
William C. Dietz
Ace, Oct 6 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441017591

The Uman Empire has never been challenged by any of their conquests as they increasingly rule the stars; colonizing planets along the way. However, recently a planet has been found containing violent prone shape-shifters; to control the nasty Sagathis, the Uman scientists biologically reengineered a special forces unit the Xeno Corps who has the skill to see past the bodily changes into the essence of these aliens.

A battle with the Vord forced a Xeno Corps ship escorting a captured Sagathi to land on former prison planet Dantha for repairs. The crew including Jak Cato gets smashingly drunk. When Jak regains consciousness with a splitting headache, he learns to his horror that every other Xeno cop he served with was slaughtered during the night. Filled with survivor guilt and fueled by rage, Jak vows to hunt down and kill everyone involved with the slaughter especially the person who betrayed them.

This is an entertaining police procedural (loosely that is) space opera for fans who relish blood, gore and blood. The story line is fast-paced as Jak and the villains emote overly dramatic while bystanders are killed at an alarming rate. Fans who enjoy a blood-spattered science fiction thriller will want to read the first of a two part saga as William C. Dietz provides an exciting but out of control opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Fledgling-Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen, Sep 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439132876

Theo Waitley has lived a contented life on the matriarchal run “Safe World” Delgado with her mom Kamele and her mother’s onagrata Jen Sar Kiladi; both of the adults are professors. However, life abruptly changes when Kamele suddenly leaves Jen Sar and taking her daughter with her relocates into a smaller family housing unit. Professor Kamele adapts and quickly becomes a department sub-chair while Theo struggles with new friends and feeling clumsy and awkward residing inside the Wall after years on the outskirts. She also misses Jen-Sar whom she considered her father.

Matters change even more abruptly when her mom informs her she is going off planet for a half year to investigate a nasty accusation of scholarly misconduct that could shake several academic worlds. Ignoring Theo’s preferences to stay behind with her father, Kamele takes her daughter with her on a forensics documents search. Theo will either adapt or face much more shunning than just being considered physically challenged.

This is a stand alone Liaden Universe coming of age tale targeting young adult readers. Theo is a delightful center holding the story line together; ironically fans of the saga will know her true roots that have been hidden from her. With a strong cast and a solid forensics subplot, readers will enjoy the escapdes of the FLEDGLING whose life has changed dramatically (in her mind not in a good way since she misses her “father” and their suburban home) as she nears her fifteenth birthday.

Harrier Klausner

Audrey's Door-Sarah Langan

Audrey's Door
Sarah Langan
Harper, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780061624216

Following the break up with her fiancé Saraub and her mother’s lapse into a coma, architect Audrey Lucas feels fortunate to find an apartment in Morningside Heights for under a $1000 a month as she was thinking of relocating to Queens. She moves into the historical Breviary, which was construed in 1861 and is an architect’s delight with its rarely used “Chaotic Naturalism” style.

Audrey is a bit taken aback to learn the previous occupant drowned her four small children before killing herself, but prefers bad vibes to the boroughs. Soon after moving in, Audrey’s mind begins to lose its grip on sanity. Ghosts and other renters warn her to construct a door before it is too late although the other living occupants are urban hermits of sorts hiding behind the doors they each built. Still even as she is aware she is losing it, Audrey obsessively begins to build the door so they can escape

AUDREY’S DOOR is an engaging haunted apartment house horror thriller that grips the readers mostly because of its Columbia University location; a seemingly unlikely place for a haunting unless you know the neighborhood overlooking Harlem. Audrey is a wonderful protagonist who is loaded with neurotic tendencies. Although the climax can be on a foggy day as far away as Hoboken, fans will enjoy Sarah Langan’s tense Gotham thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Neuropath-R. Scott Bakker

R. Scott Bakker
Tor, Oct 13 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765321893

Psychologist Tom Bible still misses Nora and their two children following her divorcing him and he loathes his teaching position lecturing bored grad students. He muses about his best friend Neil Cassidy who teaches in California to bored grad students; and recalls the “Argument” re free will or lack of as his friend firmly believed everyone’s brain is pre-wired forcing an individual to choose a pre-determined selection.

Neil visits Tom out of the blue to discuss the Argument in person; proclaiming he has done work for the NSA on destroying the minds of terrorists. Soon after showing up Neil vanishes. The Feds follow him to interrogate and then enlist Tom in their quest to find Neil, who they claim has lost his mind as they show the video of a woman whose brain was rewired; a skill only Neil has. FBI agent Samantha “Sam” Logan insists Tom’s best friend has switched from rewiring known terrorists to average American citizens with his target apparently those inside of Tom’s inner circle.

NEUROPATH is an exhilarating frightening modernization of Dr. Frankenstein using modern science to change the brain, which causes conflict as R. Scott Bakker makes a strong case that naturing is much more powerful than nurturing. The story line is fast-paced even when the lead character debates with himself over what he knows about Neil. Although some subplots seem stretched, fans will appreciate this extremely dark taut thriller filled with shocking twists that looks deep into the Argument of free will vs. pre-determinism; in a modern context of chemical syntax making the choices instead of rational minds. No one who reads Mr. Bakker’s tale will simply accept the words I love you in the same way.

Harriet Klausner

ArchEnemy-Frank Beddor

Frank Beddor
Dial (Penguin), Oct 15 2009, $17.99
ISBN: 9780803731561

Queen Alyss of Wonderland has taken over throne from Redd, who used dark imagination to rule as a dictator. In a contentious battle between the two females, light imagination wins. However a third player surfaces as King Arch of the Overlands wants to rule Wonderland. He employs WILMA (Women of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation) to ruin the Heart Crystal, which is the source of all imagination in creation.

The power of imagination vanishes from Wonderland and will soon disappear from earth and other worlds too. Alyss tries to line up support to fight the King and Queen of clubs and other allies of King Arch, who insist there is no place for imagination to flourish. Her lone remaining choice is to ally with the Redd Queen as her friends are being tossed in prisons by the WILMAs and the caterpillar between puffs says nothing of meaning.

This is the final book in the Looking Glass Wars trilogy and in spite of the subject retains all the imagination and charm of the previous novels (see THE LOOKING GLASS WARS and SAVING REDD). Alyss is bold and brave as she rules with benevolence until the threat surfaces that returns her into a determined resolute fighter. Arch is an interesting enemy whose goal appears not be power but instead the elimination of power; which makes him a difficult opponent to defeat as he has a personal quest. Although written for young adults, older readers will enjoy Alyss’ latest adventures in Wonderland.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gwenhwyfar-Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey
Daw, Oct 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756405854

Gwenhwyfar is the daughter of King Lleeudd, the nominal vassal to King Arthur, who is struggling to unite England while fighting off the Saxon incursion. Her mother follows the old ways while Arthur straddles the line between the pagan past and the followers of Christ. Gwenhwyfar has a younger sister Gwenhwyfach who hates her goes off with Morgana to learn the magic of the Old ways. The good daughter is heavily imbued with power and it is thought she would go study at the school of the Ladies of the Well.

However Gwen is told she is touched by another Goddess Epora who is worshipped by warriors as the horse goddess. Gwen turns her back on magic and with her father’s consent, becomes a warrior. Over time she becomes the head of her father’s army respected by the men as their best warrior. For years she has done what makes her happy but when Arthur’s second wife dies without an heir, Gwen is the chosen one as his next spouse. Arthur’s bastard son kidnaps her and the leader of the Otherworld with the assistance of a priest helps her escape. She must return to a husband who she does not love in a land on the brink of war with her sister Gwenhwyfach amongst the enemy.

Mercedes Lackey has written her version of King Arthur who is an old man married to a young woman in order to begat his heir. He is far from the hero of legend especially with his treatment of his wives. Gwenhwyfar is a courageous hardened warrior who plans military strategy for her father in a world where Christ is displacing the old ways, she tries to treat both camps fairly although she possesses some of the magic of the Sisters. This is a brilliant feminist twist to the Arthurian saga

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Personal Demons-Gregory Lamberson

Personal Demons
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion, Oct 1 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781605420721

The Cipher is a psychopathic serial killer who takes perverse extra pleasure with seeing the face of terror on his victims. He slices their throats with a caring tenderness; takes a photo of their fear-ridden face; and finally kills them. Afterward he uses the picture to have a likeness tattooed on his body so he carries their soul with him that he steals just when they die.

Jake Helman is a fallen cop who uses cocaine to take the edge off the demons that haunt his soul. His wife Sheryl is irate with him and is threatening to leave him. Although he cares about her and what she will do, he remains diligent with stalking the Cipher. Billionaire Nicholas “Old Nick” Tower needs a Chief of Security to protect his genetic engineering corporation; he learns of Jake and hires him, which saves his marriage but not his soul as the Tower Corporation takes him away from the Cipher hunt, but soon the soul searching former cop has a new evil to investigate.

This taut serial killer horror thriller hooks readers from the onset and as the tension grows the audience becomes deeper involved. The cast is strong especially the Cipher who is an incredible villain with no doubts or bouts of remorse while his adversary is crippled with doubts and bouts of remorse; throw in aptly named Old Nick into the mix. Each has crutches with Cipher being the tattoos and Jake cocaine and alcohol. Fans will appreciate this edgy dark thriller anticipating the gruesome confrontation between evil and fallen good.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Other Girl-Sarah Miller

The Other Girl
Sarah Miller
St. Martin’s, Sep 15 2009, $16.99
ISBN: 9780312334154

At Midvale Prep, students Molly McGarry and Gideon Rayburn are an entry. She is his perfect girlfriend as she knows his desires as if she is reading what is inside his head; which is what she is actually doing as she is INSIDE THE MIND OF GIDEON RAYBURN.

However, during an intimate interlude, Molly is stunned when she reads her beloved’s thoughts as Gideon’s mind wanders over to beautiful Pilar Benitez-Jones. Upset, but needing to conceal what she knows about his mental misdemeanor in order to hide her telepathy ability, Molly struggles with what to do next. However, she loses control of what next when somehow she mislays her brainwave connection to Gideon as her skill abruptly for no known reason that she can comprehend switches to reading Pilar. At the same Gideon starts a campaign to seduce Pilar.

Although some of the support students are stereotypes of the affluent snob, Molly makes the tale with her rapid take no prisoners narration of others especially the rival. Older teen fans will enjoy her antics as she surfs heads not liking what she hears especially Gid and Pilar as a sexual entity. Sarah Miller provides a wonderful sequel as Molly is inside the mind of THE OTHER GIRL.

Harriet Klausner

Quatrain-Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn
Ace, Oct 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780441017584

“Flight”. Living in atonement for her sins, Aunt Salome protects her niece Sheba from the dark archangel of Samaria Raphael as she knows first hand his temptation.

“Blood”. Seventeen year old Kerk Socast leaves the Gold Mountain to find his mom in the Lost City with the help of Jalciana Candachi.

“Gold”. Her parents send Princess Zara from the war to live with her Uncle Jaxon in Alora. Later after it is safe, she refuses to go home to Castle Auburn as she prefers living on the other side of the River Faelyn as there her love for her restrained guard Orlain can flourish.

“Flame”. The untrained reclusive Mystic Senneth knows when she uses her gift; the headache and other pains leave her believing she is cursed. She meets the villagers at a gala that her friend Evelyn insists the too tall big boned hermit attend. However, soon afterward, the villagers realize she has the gift of the magi with her skill to call and put out the fire. However that condemns her as flames burn down the village.

These are four great fantasy novellas that showcase the talent of a wonderful author. It’s a sin if you have not read Sharon Shinn.

Harriet Klausner

The Mermaid's Madness-Jim C. Hines

The Mermaid's Madness
Jim C. Hines
Daw, Oct 6 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405830

The Mermaid princess gave up everything for love except her life; however, the human she cherished turned elsewhere so her love was unrequited. Irate and jealous and isolated form her own kind due to her sacrifice, she attacked the cause of her lost love: Queen Beatrice of the Kingdom of Lorindar. Her effort proves successful leaving the Queen in a regal coma. Her three princess wards (Snow White, Talia the Sleeping Beauty and Danielle Cinderella) are worried about their beloved mentor’s comatose state, but soon have their own problems when they are under assault next.

They survive, but must find out who is behind the violence in order to put an end to it. They journey to the underwater kingdom of the Mer to obtain allies and to ascertain who amongst them might be the aggressor and why. Drinking plenty of terrible tasting tea to combat seasickness, the princesses risk their lives trying to save Queen Beatrice and themselves from a dangerously cunning adversary.

This entertaining twisted fairy tale sequel to THE STEPSISTER SCHEME is an amusing dark spin of the Little Mermaid as Jim Hines tells the “true” tale of what happened; not the happy ending one. Fans will laugh at the princess stereotyping that lightens through lampooning the sinister enchanted fairy tale with nods to Fractured Fairy Tales of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame (Jay Ward, Alex Anderson and Bill Scott).

Harriet Klausner

Serrano Succession-Elizabeth Moon

Serrano Succession
Elizabeth Moon
Baen, Sep 8 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439132883

“Change of Command”. The Familias Regnant are stunned when the dynastic head Bunny Thornbuckle is assassinated. The murder throws the Family into chaos and discord. Hobart Conselline cleverly takes advantage of the confusion and lack of successor power to become the new council speaker of the Grand Council at Castle Rock He gets new laws passed that target removing his only threat, the late Bunny’s Widow Miranda, his daughter Brun and the children that the latter was forced to carry (see RULES OF ENGAGEMENT). At the same time the Regnant is divided between Hobart supporters and those loyal to the widow, military officers Esmay Suiza and Barin Serrano marry over the objections of their respective adversarial families.

“Against the Odds”. The Fleet military wing of the Familias Regnant rebels. This leaves the Familias in jeopardy from its bigger stalking neighbor, the Benignity. Meanwhile the Fleet discharges Lieutenant Esmay Suiza for marrying Barin Serrano compounded by her religious belief. Suiza travels to Castle Rock where she hopes to obtain support from Grand Council member Brun Meager, whom she rescued at a time the leadership debates the issue of near-immortality of the wealthy vs. the aspirations of their heirs.

These are reprints of two of the Suiza-Serrano tales that will please fans of the outer space romantic science fiction series; newcomers will be better off starting with last year’s reprint; SERRANO CONNECTION. Both tales are well written and enable the audience to feel they are in space as family members of a Mafia like planetary government. Although the myriad of subplots can prove confusing and bog down the pace, SERRANO SUCCESSION remains a super spellbinding Suiza-Serrano space saga with more stories to reprint.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stoneholding-James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc

James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc
Baen, Sep 2009, $14.99
ISBN 978143913299-9

The king of Ahn Norvys is assassinated and the queen and their infant heir are kidnapped. With a power vacuum looming, the powerful Mindal merchant council select dangerous Gawmage as the ruler although many object though none as strongly as those in the highlander Stoneholding keep in Arvon.

It has been almost two decades since the murder and Gawmage has tightened his control through a powerful army that is strangling the kingdom. The only hope to rally opposition resides with the lost Prince Starigan, whom has not surfaced in all that time. Gawmage’s army seems set to destroy all holdouts including Arvon. Although feeling ancient and achy, the High Bard of Arvon Wilum knows time has run out as the Black Scorpion Dragoons attack. He will need to venture out of the devastated keep for the first time in decades and pray that the sacred artifacts that he guards diligently, the Sacred Fire and the Talamahd golden harp, will remain safe while he, his apprentice Kalaquinn Wright, and a few ragged survivors of the assault search for the lost prince and find a way to relight the Sacred Fire.

With a nod to Beowulf and Tolkien, the strong cast (especially the intrepid brilliant apprentice and his dedicated intelligent master) makes for an exciting energizing epic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action although some spins seem doubtful with what is known in this realm. Still fans will relish this super saga once the audience understands Baen has left at least for STONEHOLDING the science fiction and alternate history genres.

Harriet Klausner

Bite Marks-Jennifer Rardin

Bite Marks
Jennifer Rardin
Orbit, Oct 2009,
ISBN: 9780446043823

Jaz Parks and her boss and lover Vayl the Vampire are part of a CIA hit team who battle mortal and supernatural entities. The squad is in Canberra, Australia are on an important assignment to stop a horde of gnomes led by the followers of the god Ufran from getting their larvae into the Canberra Deep Space Complex. Jaz figures kicking gnome butt will prove easier than moving sheep. From the moment they arrive at the Canberra Space Complex nothing goes right.

The gnomes are sending carriers of larvae to Madrid and California Space Complexes as ; if the larvae succeed, three stations will be destroyed. Jaz has additional issues starting with King Brude the Domtyr who sends souls to the hells. He now reside inside Jaz’s head. While she tries to restrain Brude so she can work the mission, one of her team Cassandra the seer is avoiding Kyphas whom she signed a binding contract with, but regrets her action. The team rallies around her and they are all getting ready to do battle with the Ufranites. This is all in a day’s work for crappy pay as Jaz thinks this is so not a walk in the park because one said anything about fighting Kyphas the invincible demon or that would be a traitor in their midst.

Jennifer Rardin’s latest Jaz Parks urban fantasy is a super Down Under thriller in time for Halloween as the story line is filled with action (in and out of the heroine’s head) and romance (also in and out of the heroine’s head and other body parts). Jaz is a sort of Lara Croft with perilous adventures of all sorts as she battles gnomes, seers, Domtyr , souls in her head, and a female demon. BITE MARKS is a bitingly good jazzed up tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 24, 2009


Gena Showalter
Harlequin Teen, Sep 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780373210022

In present day Crossroads, Oklahoma, sixteen years old Aden Stone has heard voices in his head ever since he was a small child. The medical community labels him schizophrenic; his parents gave up on him when he was three years old placing him in a mental institution. Recently, he was relocated to the D and M Ranch, a halfway house for troubled teens.

Although no one else does, Aden understands his four voices are lost souls. Eve time travels; Julian raises the dead; Elijah predicts the future; and Caleb possesses other beings. Elijah informs Aden he will not live much longer; just when he meets Mary Ann Gray, who can silence the voices; the teen he thinks he fell in love with her because of his dreams of normalcy. He meets two other teenagers with uncanny skills as they find themselves struggling with vampires, demons, werewolves and fairies.

This is a wonderful young adult fantasy as the teen male lead makes the thriller work; as he has spent his life being misunderstood and locked away as a nut case. He understands that he is not schizophrenic and does not have multiple personality disorder; instead his brain carries four INTERTWINED lost souls although he has no idea why him. Thus when he meets Mary Ann who silences the bickering voices that give him headaches, he relishes the quiet normal time that ha always desired. However that mental serenity UNRAVELED with the start of war against the paranormal in which he is the human point. Fans will relish Aden’s escapades with his three new allies and look forward to more unraveling of his mind in future Intertwined adventures.

Harriet Klausner

On the Edge-Ilona Andrews

On the Edge
Ilona Andrews
Ace, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780441017805

The Drayton family resides on the woody Edge of two worlds. On the Georgia side of their home is the Broken; while on the opposite direction is the Weird. In Broken lives normal humans; in Weird lives all types of supernatural and magical entities. Both realms have strict moral codes.

Rose Drayton has become a talented practitioner of magic, which upsets the Weird's ruling aristocrats who want her power for their own use. Soon afterward, brutal hounds attack those who live in the in between edge. At the same time Weird noble Declan Camarine arrives to inform Rose that she will marry him. Rose rejects Declan's arrogant statement, but needs his help as her siblings and other living on the Edge are under attack.

ON THE EDGE is a fascinating romantic fantasy due to the magical world that borders between the mundane and the Weird, making Edgers a unique breed; mindful of the Tex-Mex populace who resides on both sides of the Rio Grande. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when Rosie shoots an arrow in her grandpa’s forehead and never slows down especially after she and the arrogant blueblood meet, reject, fall in love, and reject again; wait till she meets the in-laws that is if she survives the assault on the Edgers. Fans will relish this funny frenzied fantastic frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Soul Catcher-Leigh Bridger

Soul Catcher
Leigh Bridger
Bell Bridge, Oct 1 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780982175682

When she was a child, her granny knew that Livia Belane had a special destiny to fulfill and tattooed symbols of the Light onto her head to protect her. Olivia was heartbroken when her father committed suicide and recalls nothing about the fire that killed her mom and brother. Somehow she escaped unscathed, but whispered gossip claims she set the inferno. She ended up in a psycho facility and when she was released at night she dreams of a demon, of whom she paints while she sleeps.

Her paintings contain the ugliest demon ever; she calls him Pig Face. Although Livia is a loner, people want to befriend her through her countless reincarnations. They inform her she is a Soul Hunter, a person who sends demons back to the hells they came from. She meets a man and is prepared for hot sex, but instead he tortures and rapes Livia. Ian, who loves Livia and has through several lifetimes, takes over the body of her rapist who was the demon Pig Face; like Ian, Pig Face has made it through several of her reincarnations killing both of them each time. However, this time is different as Livia and Ian must defeat Pig Face whose power keeps increasing with each of their deaths and soon will be too strong for them to stop his takeover of Asheville; eventually North Carolina, the USA, and the earth will follow.

Deborah Smith, writing as Leigh Bridger, has authored an exciting unique urban fantasy that is an amalgam of reincarnation, demonic-angelic warfare, and special people with skills to see and fight evil beings. Livia changes from a reactive frightened person into a bold individual accepting Ian’s help even though every time she looks at his face, she stares at her rapist. The love these two souls share gives them hope that they will overcome Pig Face, but he thirsts for vengeance too for what they did in a previous life a long time ago without understanding the consequences which fueled the demon’s rage.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Golden City-John Twelve Hawks

The Golden City
John Twelve Hawks
Doubleday, Sep 8 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780385514309

Brothers Michael and Gabriel Corrigan are the last known Travelers, who travel parallel universes. They are on opposite sides of a war. Michael cooperates with the Brethren run Tabula, an international cartel seeking world command and control through the Panopticon. However, he has his own ambitious agenda to take control of the Tabula in order to begin his domination of the world through a fear technologically based propaganda campaign identical to what he witnessed on the Fifth Realm by demi-gods.

Gabriel has joined the Free Runners, who fear the increase in insidious technology that enables one too many spying, which in turn inhibit freedom. The Tabula name him an enemy of the state along with his allies Hollis, Linden and his beloved Harlequin Maya, whom he rescued from the hell of the First Dimension. The Free Runners must prevent Gabriel’s sibling from succeeding, but Michael and his associates control communication technology, which means the Tabula possess mass weapons and espionage capabilities too.

The final "Fourth Realm" thriller (see THE TRAVELER and THE DARK RIVER) is an entertaining cautionary tale that is timely as John Twelve Hawks overarching theme is freedom has come under assault by electronic surveillance. The story line is for most part fast-paced and filled with action although can get bogged down by philosophical debate. Still fans will appreciate THE GOLDEN CITY as freedom continues the uphill battle on this realm having lost on other Realms to technological dictators who make 1984 look like minor intrusions.

Harriet Klausner

Black Guard-Hideyuki Kikuchi

Black Guard
Hideyuki Kikuchi
Tor/Seven Seas, Sep 29 2009, $9.99
ISBN 9780765323309

For centuries demons have crossed over from another dimension into the mortal plane; their motives vary with some seeking employment opportunities while others enjoy dining on the human delicacy. The Peace Treaty has been signed between both sides’ leaders, but every century it comes up for renewal with the time now for the latest pact. However, on the Black World demonic side, opposition has grown with the desire to overwhelm the mortals and a key assassination plot has been deployed.

In Tokyo, the Black Guard continues their vigil to insure both sides behave and prevent chaos. Guard member Renzaburo Taki can change matter and is teamed with lovely demon Makie who fight against rogues mostly from her home dimension in order to keep mankind safe. Their current assignment is to keep sorcerer Giuseppe Mayart safe as he arrives in Tokyo for the peace treaty gala. Mayart executes a devious scheme starting with sending his protective guards Taki and Makie away from him so he can begin his Machiavellian plan.

With a comic book feel to the exciting story line, fans of urban fantasy horror thrillers will relish this gory enjoyable tale from the author of Vampire Hunter D. The story line is fast-paced as seemingly everyone involved with the “Signing Ceremony” has a personal agenda. Enhanced by black and white illustrations by Ayami Kojima, the first Wicked City saga is a thrilling dark entry.

Harriet Klausner

Canticle-Ken Scholes

Ken Scholes
Tor, Oct 13 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765321282

Nine months have passed since the Y'Zirite cult destroyed Wendwir and its library containing the known knowledge of the Old World (see LAMENTATION). Now the allies who fought bravely back then have gathered for a joyous occasion at Ninefold Forest. They have come to bestow honor and their support to Gypsy King General Rudolfo and his wife Jin Li Tam as she gives birth to his heir Jakob.

However, that same Y'Zirite cult continues its reading of the Crimson Empress prophecy in which they execute the needed pre-events. Thus an invisible horde of assassins enters the gala hall and begin killing the attendees. Civil war continues to spread across the Named Lands while at the Keeper’s Gate a message arrives from the Churning Waste for the Hidden Pope. All this explodes as Rodolfo and Jin seek a miracle for their ailing newborn while the Y'Zirite Cult declares Jakob is the Child of Promise. To her chagrin while feeling alone and overwhelmed since her beloved prophetic dreamer Neb of Wendwir entered the Churning Wastes and she learned that the growing powerful Y’Zirite killed her Shadow Hanric, the Marsh Queen Winters knows the origin of the cult, which adds to her fear of doom.

The second Psalms of Isaak, CANTICLE, is an action-packed fantasy that grips readers with the opening attack and never loosens its hold until the Watcher places down his pen on the unfinished page. The characterizations are amazingly strong as the audience will understand the flaws and especially the trepidations of several key players. Ken Scholes is two for two with this exciting saga as his realm seems genuine and his cast real; all this with complete adventures and setting up the next tome.

Harriet Klausner

Skin Medicine-Tim Curran

Skin Medicine
Tim Curran
Severed Press, Aug 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780980606515

In 1882, former confederate soldier turned bounty hunter, Tyler Cabe, has come to Whisper Lake in the Utah Territory in search of a gruesome serial killer, the Sin City Strangler who brutally murders prostitutes. The bounty hunter is unhappy to learn the town’s sheriff is former Union soldier Captain Jackson Dirker who committed atrocities against POWs including Cabe.

Also coming to town by wagon is James Lee Cobb, who rides inside a coffin. He and his minion brutally massacre the townsfolk of the nearby mining town Sunrise. Cobb has the Skin Magic power of the Indians enhanced by the curse of the Wendigo. In Whisper Lake he begins his murder spree as the two Civil War enemies who do not trust one another must unite if they want Deliverance stopping the invincible killer from hell before a second town is eradicated.

SKIN MEDICINE is a fast-paced and entertaining western horror thriller that hooks the audience with the opening coach scene that has some nods towards Stoker. The graphic gory story line is fast-paced yet contains a strong fully developed cast, especially the good (Cabe), the bad (Dirker), and the ugly (Cobb); which leads to the reader anticipating a paranormal High Noon in Whisper Lake.

Harriet Klausner

Dreamfever-Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte, Aug 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780385341653

MacKayla "Mac" Lane came to Dublin from a small American town to find her sister Alina’s murderer (see DARKFEVER). However, Mac has become a key Sidhe mage in the Fae war that she previously was ignorant of its existence (see BLOODFEVER and FAEFEVER). She still seeks the ancient Sinsar Dubh that she has seen as this tome in the wrong hands could mean more than just the Wall tumbling down in entirely breached dark Dublin.

However, in spite of strong enigmatic allies and possessing the immortal Fae killing Spear of Luin, her enemy who murdered her sibling, the Lord Master has her captured at his feet. He plays on her magical naivety and grows her sexual hunger. Her hope for satiation, salvation and retribution lies with two males; neither of which she understands nor trusts, Jericho Barrons and Fae Prince V’lane with her back. Meanwhile in Georgia, her parents are missing, but much of the truth about her past and that of her sister and her ties to Barrons lie in the red clay while something even more malevolent than losing Dublin to the dark forces of the Lord Master and his allies awaits her homecoming on two planes.

The fourth urban fantasy “Fever” thriller is a fast-paced action-packed tale that feels more like a set up book for the next novel even with the battles against the Lord Master and the “monster” as little progress is made to the overarching plot in spite of some revelations. Still DREAMFEVER is a well written entry as fans of the saga will believe Mac has come a long way in a short time especially piling up males in her expanded quest that changed from finding her sister’s killer to saving the world. Fans will enjoy this entry even with glacier progress while newcomers need to start with DARKFEVER to fully comprehend and savor the enchantingly deepening darkening Moning universe.

Harriet Klausner

Cursed to Death-L.A. Banks

Cursed to Death
L.A. Banks
St. Martin’s, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312942991

Black Ops agent Sasha Trudeau is a shadow wolf who unlike werewolves can change at any time. She uses the shadows to go to the Shadowlands and from there to any point on earth in an instant. Currently, she and her mate Max Hunter are in New Orleans to attend the Seelie King Sir Rodney’s’s full moon Midsummer Night Ball. Instead of having fun, Sasha investigates the death of a phoenix who after the flame burned out she sayed as ash instead of turningd into a beautiful human woman; her sister died in the same way including the identical black magic signature.

Sasha and Max pick up a sexual wolf scent at the site of the killings, but always lose the trail. A pixie tells them that the glamour of the Fae is faltering and members of the Shadow Wolf Federation sense the dark anomalies negatively affecting them and of course Sasha and Max. The Fae dark sorcery spell is becoming increasingly stronger while seemingly sapping the essence of everyone; if it is not stopped by the ball, war will explode.

The forth crimson Moon urban fantasy (see BAD MOON, BITE THE MOON and UNDEAD ON ARRIVAL) is as strong, evocative and action-packed as its predecessors are. L.A. Banks combines various genres to create a unique paranormal vision that grips readers from the opening corpse and never slows down as the inquiry affirms all hell is coming during the next full moon especially since it appears the vampires, the Unseelie, renegade werewolves and rogue shadow wolves might be temporally uniting to throw over the current order before infighting with one another. Ms. Banks makes each species different but believable as Sasha feels CURSED TO DEATH by all of them.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tall, Dark & Fangsome-Michelle Rowen

Tall, Dark & Fangsome
Michelle Rowen
Forever, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446505857

Sarah Dearly cannot believe how much her life has changed in just a few months. First she was changed into a vampire; then she became the Slayer of Slayers while learning to control the Nightwalker Curse by wearing the ugliest necklace ever created; and finally is the girlfriend of master vampire Thierry de Bennecoeur. Life as an undead has its rewards.

However one problem unresolved is somehow vampire hunter Gideon Chase did not burn to death (whatever death means) in hellfire as assumed by Sarah and others; instead he lives in limbo that needs him liberated within three days or else all hell will break loose starting with her beloved Thierry. To achieve this she must change evil Gideon into the most powerful vampire ever and dump her dearest Thierry; who does not sit idly by watching his girlfriend go to hell in a hand basket. Instead he “hires” vigilante justice guru the Red Devil to protect Sarah who believes she can bring the light of goodness into Gideon’s soul; that is if any remains.

Although somewhat similar in tone to the previous lighthearted Immortality Bites (see STAKES AND STILETTOS, BITTEN AND SMITTEN, and FANGED & FABULOUS), fans of the series will appreciate Sarah’s latest escapades as she tries to bring good to the bad. The story line is fast-paced, filled with amusing bits and bites, and never takes a breather as the heroine walks a thin line between hellfire damnation and B+ blood.

Harriet Klausner

To Tempt the Wolf-Terry Spear

To Tempt the Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402219047

Wildlife photographer Tessa Anderson is taking pictures of an out of control California wildfire when the wolf rushes her; she escapes and thinks she best go back to Oregon for her brother’s murder trial. At the same time she drives by, twin sibling grey lupus garous Hunter and Meara Greymere leave the inferno to move to the cabin on the Oregon coast left them by their uncle who retired to the Everglades.

Soon afterward in Oregon, Tessa comes by, but Meara tells her to leave. Tess insists she was to have dinner with Uncle Basil as he told her to call him, but Meara remains unfriendly until Tess sarcastically says nice meeting you and goes, but makes it clear she will insure Uncle Basil is okay. Afterward Meara demands her brother find her a mate or she will join the others. While Hunter worries about his no longer compliant sister, he also finds himself wanting the human photographer. However as his pack deserts him, several beings attack Hunter. Wounded, he swims to the beach near Tess’ home. Tess helps him and soon she is a target of his enemies and of his wanting her.

The third werewolf romance (see DESTINY OF THE WOLF and HEART OF THE WOLF) is an enjoyable action-packed thriller from the fiery onset to the mystery of what is going on in Coastal Oregon. Fans of the series will enjoy the tale of the Gray Pack forced to relocate near a Red Pack (in Portland) as werewolves are territorial. Tessa is an intrepid human female who is not afraid of the big bad wolf while Hunter has found his soul mate ironically as he has tried for almost two centuries to find Meara’s alpha mate. Terry Spear provides an engaging paranormal romantic suspense as gold is the greedy lowest common denominator and love the highest common denominator.

Harriet Klausner

Jumper Cable-Piers Anthony

Jumper Cable
Piers Anthony
Tor, Oct 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765323514

A narrative hook drops the spider Jumper from one scene into another where meets a woodwife named Wenda (a woman made of wood with no back) who wants to be made flesh. They find a prophecy on Jumper’s carapace and decide to go to the Magician Humphrey to find out what it means. The pair also hopes that Humphrey returns Jumper to his scene and makes Wenda flesh and blood. Along the way they meet Maeve the Maenad who is avoiding the stork because she doesn’t want an infant. She decides to join them to see if Humphrey can get the stork to stop delivering her package.

Haughty Harpy meets the travelers and tells them that at night she turns into Hottie Harpy. She decides to join them to see if the magician can help her. Two more ladies join the troupe; Phaedra, who can turn into a host who is being stalked by Genghis the ghost and Olive Huie who has no friends; the former wants the stalking stopped and the latter wants a friend. When the group breaches the magician’s castle, Humphrey tells them he will give them what they want if they fix the broken cable that connects Mundania’s Internet to Xanth’s Outernet. They have plenty of enemies who want to stop them for various reasons.

Thirty three punster fantasy quests later, Xanth remains alive as if Chameleon was still seeking a spell. The hero is an innocent spider who learns to play and work with humans as he and the women march across some familiar locales and a several new spots on their misadventures. There is plenty of romance and action even with the typical thin plot as JUMPER CABLE is a fun lighthearted frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Dwarves-Markus Heitz

The Dwarves
Markus Heitz
Orbit, Jul 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780316049443

In the Fourth Kingdom Tungdil Bolofar the dwarf was found as an abandoned infant and raised amidst the long-uns. He works for master magus Lot-Ionan the Forbearing ruler of the enchanted realm of Ionandar, who is one of the great sorcerers protecting the Girdlegard Valley; a land also defended by mountains on all sides with five passages watched over by the five tribes of dwarves.

However, all is not well in Girdlegard in the 5199th Solar Cycle. The evil ones want to breach the natural and species fortification. The alfar, gnomes, trolls, orcs, and others have apparently found an egress through the deserted Fifthling Kingdom while the sorcerers are busy trying to prevent the spread of the Perished Land where those who die reanimate as tormented revenants. However, a traitor from within has placed Girdlegard in jeopardy. On an assignment for his master, Tungdil meets dwarves especially a female he is attracted to; but the mission comes first.

The incredibly deep vivid descriptions of the five kingdoms is a two edged sword as readers become fully versed with the Heitz fantasy realm but also can slow down an exciting sword and sorcery saga. The cast is strong as the culture of with long-uns, magus, and dwarves come across as genuine. Fans will enjoy Tungdil’s escapades as he goes from a blacksmithing ward to adventures to save the world as he knows it; ironically his quest changes that world because he begins seeing it differently. With a nod to Willow, DWARVES is en entertaining well written quest fantasy that at time times slows down with the mountains of detail.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Time-Anne Rice

Angel Time
Anne Rice
Knopf, Oct 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781400043538

Excellent contract killer Toby “Lucky the Fox” O'Dare works for the Right Man who insists his chosen victims are the bad guys while their side is funded by the good guys. Toby has come a long way from a family tragedy that changed his life; when his mom murdered his siblings and herself, he quit God because he believed God deserted him. He no longer continued his studies for the priesthood, but remorse is setting in.

He has just completed his latest kill when guardian angel Malchiah coming out of the shadows offers Toby a chance for redemption. Toby accepts the deal, but finds himself in the thirteenth century in England; masquerading as a Dominican friar. He is immediately caught up in a vendetta against all Jews; as a couple Meir and Fluria is accused of killing their daughter for her converting to Christianity. His assignment is to prevent a religious massacre.

The first The Songs of the Seraphim saga is an exhilarating redemption thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who goes from one extreme to another. His “past” in “Angel Time” (our recent past and present in “Natural Time”) and that of the Jewish couple and their daughter’s “Natural Time” add depth though it is somewhat disjointed (as time flows differently between NT and AT) to understanding Toby’s life and medieval life for Jews inside a Christian world. Using real persona and events in thirteenth century England, Anne Rice provides a deep save the soul story. Fans will enjoy Toby’s attempts to redeem his soul although he understands he can never make up for violating the Commandment Thou Shall Not Kill, but he has begun his soul survivor salvation mission in the past and hopefully with a call to New Orleans.

Harriet Klausner

Mercy Thompson Homecoming-Patricia Briggs; Francis Tsai and Amelia Woo

Mercy Thompson Homecoming
Patricia Briggs; Francis Tsai and Amelia Woo
Del Rey/Dabel Brothers, Aug 25 2009, $22.95
ISBN: 9780345509888

Shapeshifting human walker Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson can shift into a coyote. However, having just graduated from college, Mercy just wants a job. Thus the Oregonian goes for an interview in the nearby Tri-Cities, Washington.

However, minding her business and having her nerves on edge seem not to matter for Mercy. She must deal with vampires, werewolves, and her mom as well as the interviewing horde. Just another normal day for a college grad seeking employment with the worst terrorist being her lecturing mother telling her she is ruining her life. Mercy is not sure whose life mom is referring to in her latest diatribe.

This is a terrific graphic comic with a strong Patricia Briggs’ story line that occurs before the Mercy novels take place and with vivid powerful illustrations by Francis Tsai and Amelia Woo. Fans of the saga will relish this new direction that showcases the heroine just after her college graduation while newcomers will find this a wonderful bridge into the world of mercy Thompson.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dark Legacy-Anna DeStefano

Dark Legacy
Anna DeStefano
Love Spell, Aug 25 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528193

Twin sisters Maddie and Sarah Temple inherited something paranormal that neither understood and their mom hid behind a facade of denial. The siblings had each other though they were opposites as Maddie was light and Sarah was dark. However, a horrific accident shatters the family as their dad dies and Sarah becomes comatose.

Maddie and her mom move on. However after a decade of not hearing Sarah’s voice in her head, Maddie begins to hear her twin. Her mom lied to her re Sarah and now Maddie knows her sister has been part of a government experiment to deploy psychic skills as a weapon. Their effort has released the dark side of Sarah without Maddie’s light to mute the evil. Maddie vows to save her sibling and overcome the DARK LEGACY curse that passed through generations of her ancestors including her mother; her boyfriend, Jarrod Keith vows to save both twins.

This is a great twisting thriller starring twins who are yin and yang to one another and a hero willing to die to keep his beloved safe while helping her find her sibling, who is more in the shadows that mute the dark. The story line is fast-paced from the onset especially once Maddie knows the truth about her DARK LEGACY compounded by her mother’s betrayal and desertion. She and Harrod make a strong team, but their fight against those who have experimented with Sarah seems like climbing Mt. Everest in high heels (even if we have come a long way).

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Rising-Elissa Wilds

Darkness Rising
Elissa Wilds
Love Spell, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527929

The Light God Mobius is head of the Divine Council, but his current concern is the safety of tough Balancer Aurora. Besides the fear that the Umbrae forces of the dark or the Finders want their enemy dead, he believes she is the reincarnation of his love. He decides to protect her so he travels to earth.

They team up in an effort to identify who is actually behind the persistent attacks on her. However Mobius hides from Aurora that he also investigates her to ascertain whether his strong hunch about her past life is true. As they dig with the help of her coven, he may be a God, but is distracted so he misses the betrayal is from within; if he fails to learn who is betraying them, death will arrive.

The sequel to the complex Wilds’ world (see BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK) is a super save the earth thriller starring an alleged reincarnation and the God who believes he has loved her once before. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Mobius strips away his doubts about whether Aurora is or is not his reincarnated love by deciding to protect her until he knows for certain. Fans will enjoy this complex look at love and relationships as even Mobius like the Memorex commercial wonders whether he loves his memory or the present real person. All this occurs while they battle betrayal and evil.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Prince Of Frogs-Annaliese Evans

The Prince Of Frogs
Annaliese Evans
Tor, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765361677

In 1750 in the Kingdom of Myrdrean, after kicking the butt of an ogre mob (see NIGHT ROSE) Rosemarie is happily married to the vampire Lord Gareth. Still in spite of her marital bliss, she misses her dear friend and long time Fey de la Nuit partner and advisor for the past century fey Ambrose Minuit. Through her dreams however Mother demands she kill her spouse.

Recently, though she loves her mate and misses her best friend, Rosemarie still waits for the happily ever after while knowing she should have known better having been awakened from a century nap without the required kiss. She knows her spouse is hiding something from her and she wants to know what it is. Gareth wants to tell but cannot as he still hopes it will go away although he knows deep in his heart it will not leave unless he and all he loves especially his cherished Rosemarie are dead.

The continual adventures of Rosemarie is a charming historical romantic fantasy as Gareth tries to protect Rosemarie from his past, but like many males (vampire, human or otherwise) fails to understand the courage and obsessive need to get involved with his mate. He should have known better that Rosemarie by her nature (of being a female and not just a Fey de la Nuit) would get into the middle of the action; all he had to do was ask the ogre crowd. Fans will appreciate Annaliese Evans' lighthearted Georgian era frolic as Rose has to kick butt of his bloodline heritage if the newlyweds are to stay wedded (and alive) as it takes a woman to do the ancestral cleansing.

Harriet Klausner

Thirteen Chances-Cindy Miles

Thirteen Chances
Cindy Miles
Signet, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227829

Eight centuries ago, Christian of Arrick by the Sea and Emma fell madly in love. However a spell was muddled leaving him a ghost and her dead. She is reincarnated every seventy-two years only to die almost as soon as she finds her true love.

Christian has new hope after numerous failures. The three Ballaster white witch sisters have taken up the cursed lovers’ cause hoping to find a way to end the misfortune. Twelve times so far they have come together only each time has ended tragically. The spell is dangerous and failure means no more future hopes.

This is a terrific reincarnation romance starring two likable protagonists whom the audience will root for making it this time. Added to the excitement of a strong urban romantic fantasy are the tie-ins to the Miles pantheon as characters from MACGOWAN’S GHOST, SPIRITED AWAY, INTO THIN AIR, and HIGHLAND KNIGHT are linked in some way to the hero; though this is clearly a stand alone. The witches have one chance to mate the souls while the cursed couple has one last chance for their souls to mate as the bond of love so far has proven futile; this is extreme pressure. Cindy Miles provides to her fans another super thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Passion Untamed-Pamela Palmer

Passion Untamed
Pamela Palmer
Avon, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061667534

The malevolent demonic ones have forced kindhearted witch Skye to kidnap Immortal Feral Warrior Paenther. In the Blue Ridge Mountains to his chagrin, she has him chained; the second time he has been captured by a mage. However, this time he plans to escape to complete his mission to find and rescue Vhyper, but first he must escape his captivity. He seduces his bewitching adversary, but vows vengeance against bewitching mage-woman who has somehow enchanted him.

However, for him and his mates especially Vhyper to escape the trap, Paenther must depend on the witch who already possesses his heart although he fears her betrayal. Skye vows not again; as she plans to keep the Feral Warrior who owns her heart and his associates’ safe even tif hat means the cost of her soul.

The third Feral Warriors “untamed” romantic fantasy (see DESIRE UNTAMED and OBSESSION UNTAMED) novel is fast-paced and exciting from the moment an irate Paenther finds himself chained by a beautiful mage and never slows down as his limbs may be unchained but his heart remains chained. The story line contains plenty of action and passion yet also tells somewhat Paenther’s back-story of how he became a rookie Feral Warrior in 1738 Virginia. Fans of the saga will fully relish this entry as star-crossed love means to trust with your life, which (no pun intended) is easy, but trusting your band of brothers is hard.

Harriet Klausner

Lucan-Susan Kearney

Susan Kearney
Forever, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446543316

Humanity’s future appears to be extinction as sterility is the norm on Earth. Archeologist and Avalon expert Lucan Rourke is sent to planet Pendragon on a top secret mission to find the Holy Grail that he believes will save mankind.

On Pendragon High Priestess Lady Cael is the only female dragon shapeshifter. She and her colleagues are also seeking the Holy Grail believed hidden in Avalon, surrounded by impregnable energy barriers at a time when the surface is breaking apart. Lucan joins the top secret project, but even as he finds a way through their first obstacle, the military frames him and Cael for murdering two of their compatriots as they want the Grail for their own use.

This is an interesting blending of science fiction, Camelot mythos, and romance although the Arthurian fantasy elements seem somewhat out of place. Lucan knows his mission has no time for love, but he finds it difficult to stay the course after meeting Cael. The High priestess understands her mission, but has the same issues as Lucan has after their first encounter. Although somewhat overwhelming with the Camelot in space theme as earth is infertile, fans will enjoy the first Pendragon Legacy thriller while looking forward to the escapdes of Lucan’s sister Marisa and Rion of planet Honor.

Harriet Klausner

High Crimes on the Magical Plane-Kris Neri

High Crimes on the Magical Plane
Kris Neri
Red Coyote, Oct 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9780976673354

Samantha Brennan is a con artist from a long line of grifters; at the moment she is doing a psychic medium gig as she dresses the part of a gypsy. Her client is Dodie Drake who lives in the luxurious apartment in the Bonne Chance. As she goes to her client’s home, Samantha sees a car filled with clowns whom she assumes are the stalkers of another tenant actress Molly Crane. Being a good neighbor Sam purloins a keycard and enters the actress’ penthouse where she finds a dead male and Molly missing.

Sam goes to the FBI and talks to Special Agent Annabelle Haggerty. The two women enter the penthouse together while discussing the clowns probably abducted Molly. A task force is formed with Annabelle demanding Sam be on it. Soon afterward someone tries to kill Sam, but Haggerty saves her life and brings her into her home. Sam soon realizes her protector is a Celtic goddess who has visions that she sends to Sam so she can tell others concerning Molly. This way Annabelle can hide her alterego. Sam falls in love with a god and realizes brownies, gnomes and elves exist. Something dark and evil is coming to Los Angeles causing riots and gang warfare in its malevolent wake. Sam knows Haggerty is in trouble when this malevolence arrives; so she refuses to leave her friend alone.

Sam and Annabelle are the oddest couple with the former wanting to be what the latter is and the latter wanting to be what the former is. Confusing not at all as each envies the life of the other. Annabelle just wants to be an FBI agent as her goddess duties at times is overwhelming while Sam the shyster ponders what she could get away with if she had the goddess powers. This pairing make for a wonderful combination of a lighthearted yet also deep spellbinding urban fantasy mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 17, 2009

The War After Armageddon-Ralph Peters

The War After Armageddon
Ralph Peters
Forge, Sep 15 2009, $24.99
ISBN 9780765323552

Israel has been nuked back to the Stone Age. Dirty bombs have devastated the major cities of Europe as well as Las Vegas and Los Angeles too. In fact L.A. is a radioactive desert. Muslin extremists are bringing Jihad to the West just like the West brought death squads seeking Islamic extremists.

The United Godfearing States of America elects an extremist Christian government. One of the first acts is to modify the National Guard into the Military Order of the Brothers in Christ (MOBIC). With a mess back home of fundamentalist Christians seeking a new Crusade that they hope will lead to the Rapture, Lieutenant General Gary “Flintlock” Harris commands troops on a beach assault of what is left of Israel. He and his fighting force are bringing the war to the Jihadists. High tech weapons of mass destruction have failed so fighting reverts back to pre electronic command and control. The world is on the brink of pandemic genocide as both sides in this religious war claim the Holy Land even if it is a wasteland.

This is a powerful cautionary tale that warns if present international and internal American relationships continue on the current path hell on earth will occur as religious fundamentalists who proclaim God’s mandate makes them right will bring radioactive Crusades to the world. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Flintlock leads his unit onto the beaches of what was once called Israel, but now is a radioactive wasteland called The Emirate of Al-Quds and Damaskus; a long way from what was Mt. Carmel. Fans will appreciate Ralph Peters' deep thriller except for those who are always righteously right.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fire-Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore
Dial, Oct 5 2009, $17.99
ISBN: 9780803734616

About three decades before the adventures of Katsa and Po in GRACELING in the Kingdom of the Dells reside the monsters with incredibly delicate beautiful coloring. However, the realm is changing as seventeen year old Fire is the last human monster who has the ability to read minds and more significantly control people mentally.

Her corrupt father served as the prime adviser to the pathetic King Nax until the monarch’s recent death, which his advisor caused. The new ruler King Nash and his brother Commander Brigan want Fire on their side of the apparent upcoming civil war for obvious reasons. Meanwhile her sire who exiled her to the countryside does not want to lose his position of affluence and power so will do anything including selling out his country, his king, and his daughter.

Although set before the heroine of Graceling is born and in another country with only one reasonably important tie between the novels, fans will fully appreciate stand alone FIRE, a strong profound thriller starring an incredible lead monster. Fire has psychological issues over using her powers as directed by her father and her king, but understands her dilemma because her mind control would probably lead to less blood flowing, yet free will is a right she believes in. Fans will enjoy this strong drama as security and liberty are debated inside an exciting fast-paced character driven tale that ironically will lead to a demand for a tweener book that ties the female heroines, Fire and Katsa, together.

Harriet Klausner

Vigilante-Laura E. Reeve

Laura E. Reeve
Roc, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451462985

Everyone who knows of Armed Forces Consortium of Autonomous Worlds (AFCAW) Reserve Major N-pilot Ariane Kedros besides her partner Matthew Journey sees her differently. The Terran Exploration League (TEL) believes the Aether Exploration pilot is a war criminal who needs execution for the murder of billions in one of their solar systems (see PEACEKEEPER); her side the Autominists believes her to be a war hero. Although she did her duty she agrees with the Terrans that she deserves to die, but refuses to surrender to them.

Someone with obvious insider help, strong connections and capital steals a temporal distortion bomb at the same time that tension mounts between the Autominists and the Terrans. The AFCAW directs Kedros and Journey to fly Master Sergeant Joyce to G-145, an enigmatic orb that seems in the middle of nowhere yet has drawn strong attention from both sides of the hostile Cold War and the unknown alien Minoans. As Kedros arrives with her human CAW cargo, the terrorists who stole the bomb also have come to this remote planet with plans to ignite it on G-145 as their leader has vengeance and justice in mind for past crimes.

This exciting military science fiction thriller obviously stars Kedros who is overloaded with guilt because she knows she can never make right what she did though her side of the hostilities appreciates her following orders; an interesting ethical dilemma that remains valid in real life. However, although Kedros is the attraction, the fast-paced story line works because of the multiple differing viewpoints re right and wrong between species and within a species. VIGILANTE is a strong action-packed sequel to the exciting PEACEKEEPER; driven to hyperspeed by a deep characterization who make the Reeve universe feel genuine.

Harriet Klausner

Beowulf’s Children-Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barn

Beowulf’s Children
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes
Tor, Aug 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765320889

Upon their arrival on Avalon the Earth Born never fully recovered from the extended hibernation whereas their Star Born children have thrived. The Earth Born have not forgotten their near extinction when they cavalierly tried to colonize the mainland, but almost were left extinct by the monsters as they fled like rats off a sinking ship during the Grendel Wars (see THE LEGACY OF HEOROT); only fast action by Cadmann Wayland saved them. Now young adults the Star Born discuss a second invasion, but while their collective parents object, the youngsters feel they have the intelligence to succeed and dub the elders as cowards.

The Star Born have a leader Aaron Tragon, who has no connection to any of the Earth Born; being more removed than his peers who in a collective sense feel for the brain damaged elders. Aaron uses abuse and cruelty to obtain authorization of an invading force to take the mainland. Now the hero of the first Grendel War and his opponent pushing a second war amplify the generational divide; their respective actions will cause further schism amongst the humans as the Grendel monsters remain on the mainland that the colonists desire.

The story line starts slow with the Star Born debating what to do about their increasingly feeble parents, but that dialogue is what makes the reprint so timely; due to the false accusations that health care reform includes death squads from those hypocrites who until recently fully supported end of life counseling. The storyline accelerates when Aaron and to a lesser degree Cadmann take control of the plot. The Grendels are a much more fascinating species than they were portrayed in THE LEGACY OF HEOROT; especially with the improbable climax. Still fans will enjoy this social commentary in space that seems as apropos as it was in 1995 when health care reform was debated.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Child of Fire-Harry Connolly

Child of Fire
Harry Connolly
Del Rey, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780345508898

In Hammer Bay, Washington, the ecomony is booming due to the toy factory; however, residents even those who work at the prime employer fail to realzie that some of their offspring can use magic.

Twenty Palace Society field agent Annalise Powliss hunts and kills rogue magic practitioners. Convicted felon Ray Lilly is her chauffeur, but they share a not so kind past as he betrayed her so he knows she plans to kill him at the most opportune time. The Society learns of the goings-on in Hammer Bay and led by take no prisoners Annalise plan to destroy the factory and kill anyone of any age who uses magic. However, the execution fails and Annalise is hurt; Ray must finish the assignment against a much more powerful sorcerer who sacrifices humans especially children to gain incredible amounts of power.

The key to this small town fantasy is the use of magic as collateral damage is not only acceptable it is preferable if needed to complete a mission. That premise ties the rogue and the Society together as innocent bystanders die in high numerical waves, which in turn brings a sense of realism to the exciting story line. The dysfunctional relationship between the driver and his boss enhances the tension of an exhilarating High Noon paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Mortal Seductions-Allyson James

Mortal Seductions
Allyson James
Berkley, Sep 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 978-0425229705

A former vengeance demon, Valerie took an oath of celibacy to serve Aphrodite as a high priestess bringing together couples in love. Her former lover, demigod Demitri the tiger-shapeshifter still loves her as he has for three millennia.

They each meet and are attracted to shapeshifter Leon Dupree, Val's current project. However, unable to resist, Val breaks her vow to Aphrodite by having sex with the hunks; this releases the demon side of her that has been buried since she pledged fealty to the fickle Goddess of Love. Val expects Aphrodite to kill her, but instead the Goddess shows clemency by giving Val a chance to merge her two opposite personas into one person, but must do so in two weeks. Demitri and Leon must assist her; if they refuse or fail, all three will die.

The sequel to MORTAL TEMPTATION is an interesting erotic romantic urban fantasy starring a likable lead trio whose sexcapades include ménage a trois and MM and a strong schizoid premise. However, even with the clock ticking away, neither of the males or the two faces of Val never seem emotionally passionate beyond sex. Still fans will enjoy the latest immortal “Mortal” tale enhanced by a couple of seemingly single forever yuppies.

Harriet Klausner

When Autumn Leaves-Amy S. Foster

When Autumn Leaves
Amy S. Foster
Overlook, Oct 6 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781590202555

Avening is a small town on the Pacific coast; a magical hamlet populated by people with psychic powers. Autumn is a member of the group Jaen, who watches over humanity as they have even before mankind invented the wheel. She has spent a considerably long time in Avening, whose residents see her as a kind witch keeping track of the magical undercurrents that encourage natural gifts to bloom.

Now the Jaen has promoted Autumn and directed her to select and mentor her replacement; she has one year to pick from a group of fifty seemingly worthy people. She initiates a contest starting with an essay with the winner getting her Book of Shadows that contains magical knowledge that will enable the next witch to get off to a good start because first impressions are critical. On Autumn’s last day in town she has select twelve people to join the Jaen but finding the thirteenth who will be her successor and the leader proves more difficult. The clock is ticking with only hours left and Autumn doesn’t have a clue where to find the thirteenth.

There are many believable characters with a wide range of differing personalities and talents throughout the small town, but the star is Avening, a remarkable place that is the product of one woman’s dream. Even with a thin plot, this is a remarkably enchanting fantasy as each potentially chosen one brings differing magical skills to the table adding to Autumn’s dilemma. Character driven, fans who relish something dramatically different will encourage Autumn while singing the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did you ever have to make up your mind; Pick up on one and leave the other behind; It's not often easy and not often kind; Did you ever have to make up”.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 14, 2009

Barely Bewitched-Kimberly Frost

Barely Bewitched
Kimberly Frost
Berkley, Sep 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425229613

In Duvall, Texas WOULD BE WITCH Tammy Jo Trask wants her stolen locket back so she plans to take it from her enemy. However, Tammy Jo has a bigger problem than purloined jewelry. The World Association of Magic demands she defend herself for illegal use of magic. Two witches are assigned to prepare Tammy Jo for her defense under fire.

She has also been told to stay away from master mage Bryn Lyons, whom she is attracted to at a time her former spouse Deputy Sheriff Zach stays away from her having felt he wasted money on her when he got her a shrink whom she drove crazy. While all this is going on Tammy Jo accidentally sends impish fairies on Duvall; just another nasty stretch for a BARELY BEWITCHED novice.

The sequel to WOULD-BE WITCH continues the magical misadventures of Tammy Jo who is accused of practicing bewitching spells without a license. The amusing story line is fast-paced albeit a bit thin even with the heroine struggling with romance, magic, bureaucracy, family, and romance, which for this Texan means toil and trouble as she lands in the proverbial vat. Fans will enjoy the escapades of Tammy Jo in this jocular urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

The Prodigal Mage-Karen Miller

The Prodigal Mage
Karen Miller
Orbit, Aug 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780316029209

Ten years have passed since the INNOCENT MAGE Asher defeated the evil Morg and the Kingdom of Lur (see The Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duo). The land overall has been peaceful due mostly to Asher who as the AWAKENED MAGE has magical roots with both the Doranen and the Olken. However below the surface calm a hostile racial divide remains between the blond haired immigrant Doranen and the black haired native Olken.

Asher just wants to raise his two children (Rafel and Deenie) with his wife Dathne in peace. Just because he wishes for peace does not mean he will get it as Lur has begun to plot anew plots to conquer its neighbor at a time when something bad seems to be happening to the Olken earth magic. Besides fears for the nation, Asher also worries about his feisty children who are beginning to discover their mage talents. Once again Asher will have to try to save the land from the foolishness of its own people as some of them are trying to infiltrate the “natural” boundaries, which means if successful those kept on the other side also will have passage. However; this time he has his family to help him if he can keep them in line and focus on the bigger issues beyond keeping them safe especially the chip off the old block, THE PRODIGAL MAGE offspring.

The first of a duet, THE PRODIGAL MAGE is an intriguing high fantasy as the quest has not begun though the anticipation of learning what is on the other side of the mountains, etc will fascinate readers. The “Fisherman’s Children” story line focuses mostly on Rafel as the title character coming into his own as a mage and the concerns of Asher and Dathne; Deenie’s role is more of an observer. Fans of the first saga will enjoy THE PRODIGAL MAGE as the family that practices magic together stays together.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Devour Me-Lydia Parks

Devour Me
Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758238009

"Dark Obsession”. Although three centuries has passed since his ship and crew went down, Benjamin Bartlett still grieves and hides from the world. However, four people riding in a van seek shelter at his isolated mansion. He wants to say no, but one of them Star Reid stirs his blood. However, his past and her present threaten both their lives.

"Blood Lust". Vampire Christopher Marsh feels his hunt for a mythical talisman is nearing an end after seeking the artifact that allegedly will return him to mortality and perhaps archeologist Nicole Stephenson, the mortal he is ADDICTED to. That is if he can defeat the vampire who plans to drain his professor of her blood.

These are two interesting vampire romances starring solid depressed hunks and women who feel like they must have come out of a slasher movie as they make horrific choices that place them in danger. Still in spite of the females, DEVOUR ME contains two engaging vampiric romantic novellas that sub-genre fans will want to sink their teeth into.

Harriet Klausner

Possession-Devyn Quinn

Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758228529

Following the shocking sudden death of her father and the breaking up of her engagement to Michael, Kendra Carter suffers a nervous breakdown; in fact many believe she tried to commit suicide by mixing wine with pills though she denies it. As she struggles with her equilibrium, her stepbrother Gerald Carter shows his demon collection to her especially his latest addition, a copy of Delamelanicon, a kind demon occult “Unholy Bible”; allegedly written by Satan. Only thirteen copies were ever produced and few of those exist.

After exasperation for his spending two million from their dwindling trust fund, Kendra heeds the whispers to open the extremely rare tome. By doing so she liberates Remi the demon, who was trapped inside seemingly for eternity. Remi and Kendra are tied together in ways that Peter can only imagine. The demon seduces his disbelieving hostess with his touch and whisper yet though she screams for more; she assumes her mental health went further south though that part of her body is enjoying every sexual moment.

Kendra the disbeliever makes this super erotic romantic urban fantasy work on all levels. Remi and Peter are strong support characters with the former having a unique relationship with the lead heroine. The story line is fast-paced with several great twists as POSSESSION is much more than just nine tenths of the law.

Harriet Klausner

Sexy Beast VII-Kate Douglas, Anitra Lynn McLeod and Shelli Stevens

Sexy Beast VII
Kate Douglas, Anitra Lynn McLeod and Shelli Stevens
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758228703

"Chanku Challenge” by Kate Douglas. Beth learns she is Chanku and her soulmate is Nick. Although she relishes the sex, she must confront her past if she and Nick are going to reach the nirvana like other Chanku have with their soulmates.

"Eye of the Beholder" by Anitra Lynn McLeod. Larra knows the rumors that her new husband is truly a beast. She trembles in fear expecting a disfigured spouse, but Dauer instead caresses her into trembles of passionate happiness.

"His to Reclaim" by Shelli Stevens. Five years ago were-jaguars Gemma and Hunter knew they were soul mates from their first look, but he abruptly vanished. Now as she get ready to marry someone else, Hunter returns to kidnap his beloved.

These three fabulous erotic urban fantasy novellas are terrific tales starring lead protagonists who are great in the boudoir and insure the audience believes in shapeshifters. The added bonus is Kate Douglas’ Chanku Sexy Wolf Tales saga continues with a quality entry matched in excellence by Shelli Stevens and Anitra Lynn McLeod.

Harriet Klausner

Storm of Shadow-Christina Dodd

Storm of Shadow
Christina Dodd
Signet, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228130

Aaron Eagle has used his paranormal skill of becoming a mist as a thief. However, now he is one of the Chosen so he feels a strong sense of purpose to use his gift to help fulfill the prophecy and as a form of redemption. While his Chosen teammates remains stunned with the destruction of their base (see STORM OF VISION), he seeks his soulmate to help him on the quest.

Antiquities librarian Rosamund Hill is a pragmatist like her dad; she scoffs at her late mom’s belief in the legend of the Chosen Ones. Her belief system is devastated with a knock on her door. Aaron has come for his Rosamund, who struggles with believing he wants her and trying to accept that her mom was right. However Aaron has competition for Rosamund, who cannot believe two hunks want her.

STORM OF SHADOW is a fabulous Chosen Ones urban romantic fantasy that follows up from the first entry, STORM OF VISION; thus that book should be read first to fill in the background. The relationship between the librarian and the former thief is terrific, but it is the battle and fears of failure; their mentors understand sending an inexperienced team into combat in which danger is everywhere and betrayal is the norm can get them killed; while the key seventh Chosen has not been found and the records destroyed that make this work a stupendous thriller. Christina Dodd is two for two.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Kindred-L.L Foster

The Kindred
L.L Foster
Jove, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146905

Paladin Gabrielle “Gabby” Cody and police detective Luther Cross are trying to find a common ground as they fall in love. She as God’s warrior enforcer uses methods outside the law that he is obligated to enforce.

However, her biggest concern is her desire for Luther interfering with her higher calling. As she struggles with love, an evil predator is devouring human bodies and souls. She knows the monster is coming for her, but that does not frighten her as she has dealt with malevolent beings for years; though her need for her beloved distracts her. However, the couple realizes the beast is targeting children playing in a playground to force Gabby into a confrontation on the creature’s terms.

The third Servant thriller is a super romantic urban fantasy. The lead couple struggle with a beast and with their attraction as their differing methods do not make for easy bed talk. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as the vile creature controls the altercation. Fans will enjoy the latest entry while newcomers should read the previous novels (see THE ACCEPTANCE and THE AWAKENING) to better understand the fabulous world of L.L. Foster and the dysfunctional loving relationship between the lead sleuths.

Harriet Klausner

The Midnight Guardian-Sarah Jane Stratford

The Midnight Guardian
Sarah Jane Stratford
St. Martin’s, Oct 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312560133

By 1940 Hitler had succeeded in killing all the vampires on the continent. He created a special hunter unit, the Nachtspeere whose mission was the vampiric genocide. However, Millennials, millennium old vampires are not easy to kill as they double in strength and other powers in their thousandth year. Only a few special hunters can kill a Millennial because each vampire has a demon inside who feeds on their hunger and gives them the skill to strike back at their enemies.

With the Millennials dead on the mainland, the British Millennial vampires send a group to Germany to prevent a human war as memories of the destruction of WWI lingers when their food supply killed one another that led to a vampire civil war. Brigit and the others plan to kill key SS men in order to prevent Hitler from occupying France. In Germany the unit is stunned by Hitler’s Final Solution and hope to create enough chaos to slow down Hitler’s master plan as he and his leadership teams prove they are greater monsters than vampires with what they are doing to the Jews. Brigit leaves Germany with two orphaned Jewish kids as the Nazi vampire hunters stalk her on a train ad boat on her way home to England.

Told from Brigit’s perspective, readers learn through flashbacks how she was turned, how she became freed of her sire, and how she met her eternal love Eammon who waits for her back home. Their love sustains her as she rides the trains towards the Channel with the real evil in pursuit of her and her precious cargo. THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN is an intriguing take on what is evil as Sarah Jane Stratford makes the case that deeds not species defines malevolency.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Belong To The Night-Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden and Sherrill Quinn

Belong To The Night
Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden and Sherrill Quinn
Kensington Brava, Sep 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238863

"The Wolf, the Witch and Her Lack of Wardrobe" by Shelly Laurenston. In Smithville, Jamie struggles with controlling her bewitching paranormal skills. Wolfshifter Sheriff Tully knows Jamie has him bewitched. When they team up to fight a rogue pack, both has trouble focusing on the invaders.

"In the Dark” by Cynthia Eden. In Miami leopard-shifting FBI agent Sadie finds that her ex-lover Liam isn't dead, but he is not what one would say is alive except in a lower extremity. They team up to go after a serial killing leopard-shifter, but both have trouble focusing on the predator.

"City of the Dead” by Sherrill Quinn. In New Orleans, witch Dori and vampire Sabin seek her missing brother and to obtain the stolen powerful the Eye of Bastet amulet. Cajun cop Jake assists them in preventing a demon from witch genocide on All Hallows Eve.

These three urban fantasy police procedural romances are superb fun due to a strong cast (especially the good guys and gals) who make the paranormal seem genuine.

Harriet Klausner

Hunting Memories-Barb Hendee

Hunting Memories
Barb Hendee
Roc, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451462916

Just a few centuries ago, the vampires had rules that let them go undetected by humans and the most important one was to drink mortal blood without killing the source. The blood diner would use hypnotic telepathy to erase all memories of the encounter. The second rule is that a vampire could not create more than one vampire per century. When the powerful Angelo created three sons in one century; two of whom were flawed. One of the offspring Julian Ashton had no psychic powers and his blood meals brought attention to himself that led to vampires wanting him euthanized. Instead he killed the psychic vampiric rivals; which violated vampire rules.

Julian created Eleisha Clevon, but her psychic skills manifested on their own thanks to the mortal telepath Wade. She fought her sire and won forcing Julian to flee to his Cliffbracken in Wales with his tail between his legs. Eleisha and another vampire Rose de Spenser exchange letters about forming an underground vampire movement for vamps hiding from Julian. He learns of their plot and comes to the United Sates to stop Robert, an elder who knows the rules, unlike the made vampires of today from making contact with his enemies. He intends to kill Robert and anyone else in his way; however his opponents are gaining in strength, resolution, and conviction as they plant to take him down.

This sequel to BLOOD VAMPIRES is an enjoyable and creative (not just of new vampires) cocktail cleverly blending urban fantasy mixed with strong horror elements. Eleisha is teaching Phillip how to drink blood without killing the prey; he, the son of Angelo would do anything to keep her safe because she gave him a reason to live. HUNTING MEMORIES is a thriller of a vampire tale as Julian is coming to take care of his enemies.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shadowfae-Erica Hayes

Erica Hayes
St. Martin's, Oct 2009, $18.99
ISBN 9780312578008

In Melbourne, vampire mobs control whole neighborhoods and fight one another over disputed territory, which makes much of the Australian city unsafe for humans and other paranormal beings though some people and others enjoy being part of the mob. Succubae and incubi seem to be everywhere in the city offering sexual pleasures to mortals in exchange for their souls or in the case of immortals their essence; many partake of the “Rapture”. Meanwhile everyone avoids fairies who are dying in epidemic numbers from some sort of unknown disease that no one else contracts.

Demon Lord Kane owns succubus Jade and incubus Rajahni Seth under an agreement that is for a millennium. Both want to be free of their assignation, but each is bound unless they can offer up the right soul needed for a separation freedom spell. Jade and Raj need the same spell, but as they fall in love, each wants to let the other have the essence to escape their indentured servitude.

This is an intriguing Australian erotic urban fantasy in which vampire gangs, other immoral immortals acting like teens, and Rapture sexual encounters seem genuine. The story line comes across as an intriguingly dark paranormal version of The Gift of the Magi due to the change from teen like behavior to a adult relationship of the lead couple. This reviewer never fully understood the celestial laws guiding the taking of souls nor the contract laws guiding indentured demon servitude (especially the consideration on the part of the heroes), but readers will thoroughly enjoy this entertaining tale of forbidden love. Erica Hayes has a great future ahead of her as a bestselling author.

Harriet Klausner

Shadowfae-Erica Hayes

Erica Hayes
St. Martin's, Oct 2009, $18.99
ISBN 9780312578008

In Melbourne, vampire mobs control whole neighborhoods and fight one another over disputed territory, which makes much of the Australian city unsafe for humans and other paranormal beings though some people and others enjoy being part of the mob. Succubae and incubi seem to be everywhere in the city offering sexual pleasures to mortals in exchange for their souls or in the case of immortals their essence; many partake of the “Rapture”. Meanwhile everyone avoids fairies who are dying in epidemic numbers from some sort of unknown disease that no one else contracts.

Demon Lord Kane owns succubus Jade and incubus Rajahni Seth under an agreement that is for a millennium. Both want to be free of their assignation, but each is bound unless they can offer up the right soul needed for a separation freedom spell. Jade and Raj need the same spell, but as they fall in love, each wants to let the other have the essence to escape their indentured servitude.

This is an intriguing Australian erotic urban fantasy in which vampire gangs, other immoral immortals acting like teens, and Rapture sexual encounters seem genuine. The story line comes across as an intriguingly dark paranormal version of The Gift of the Magi due to the change from teen like behavior to a adult relationship of the lead couple. This reviewer never fully understood the celestial laws guiding the taking of souls nor the contract laws guiding indentured demon servitude (especially the consideration on the part of the heroes), but readers will thoroughly enjoy this entertaining tale of forbidden love. Erica Hayes has a great future ahead of her as a bestselling author.

Harriet Klausner

Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword-Eric Reinhold

Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword
Eric Reinhold
Creation House, 2008, $17.99
ISBN: 9781599792880

In Mount Dora, Florida, the archangel Gabriel directs young Ryann Watters to find the King's Sword. To help him on his heavenly quest, Gabriel gives him a ring, a staff, and a horn. At the same time Gabriel and Ryann discussed the mission, dark winged fallen angel Ekron directs orphan Drake Dunfellow to stop his enemies from binding him; giving him weapons too. Ryann recruits his best friends Atlanta transplant Terrel Peterson and soccer superstar Liddy Thomas to join him on the quest.

The ring leads them to a hidden portal that takes them to Aeliana. After crossing over, in Aeliana, the three buddies meet Drake who tries to prevent them from getting the King’s Sword. Drake has allies too as the fight between evil and good on the spiritual plane occurs even with tweeners.

RYANN WATTERS AND THE KING'S SWORD is a super middle school quest fantasy that contains a strong cast especially the four Mt. Dora neighborhood recruits. The spiritual and mundane war hooks the reader from the moment they meet the prime four players (and learn the most intimate secrets of each of them). Young fans will enjoy trekking in Aeliana with the heroic trio who use biblical references of champions overcoming impossible odds to win the day while they battle to prevent Drake and his minion from turning the land into perpetual darkness.

Harriet Klausner