Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dark Stranger-Susan Sizemore

Dark Stranger
Susan Sizemore
Pocket, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9781416562139

Heir to the Byzant Empire, human diplomat wearing the uniform of a naval lieutenant Zoe Pappas negotiates with the Asi. However, the enemy Hajim attacks her space ship and takes her to a prison planet in which human POWs mingle uneasily with other species dangerous to her kind.

Brigadier General Matthias “Doc” Raven leads the human POWs, demanding loyalty and no escape attempts. Zoe struggles with adjusting to captivity and her attraction to the BG. She conceals from Doc who she is and what her aborted mission was. Someone seems to know who she is and where she is; that person is willing to kill all the prisoners to get at Zoe; only Doc stands in their way.

This clever fantasy science fiction thriller is actually not part of the prime Primes saga, but a brilliant off shoot as a so-called work of fiction or perhaps a future history as the first tale in the Vampire Book Club read by several Prime characters. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action from the onset, but really takes off when Zoe and Doc meet as prisoners of war. Prime fans especially with relish Susan Sizemore’s refreshing “futuristic” entry in her terrific series.

Harriet Klausner

An Echo In The Bone-Diana Gabaldon

An Echo In The Bone
Diana Gabaldon
Delacorte, Oct 2009, $30.00
ISBN: 9780385342452

With the hostilities everywhere, it is unsafe to journey; as the rebels seem heading to certain defeat. Ironically travelers Jamie Fraser and his wife Claire Randall know the upstart colonial Americans ultimately win the war against the mother country England because she read the outcome in twentieth century history books. They travel together along with others as Clare fears for the safety of her spouse and his son fighting for the British; her schooling and history books never told her what happened to her Jamie.

In the twentieth century, their daughter Brianna, her husband Roger and their children struggle with adapting to life in the future. However, though they connect with the Mackenzie clan, another time traveler has arrived and a real threat to their well being has surfaced.

This is an exciting historical thriller that takes readers on a tour of the battlefields and Europe as people die during the American Revolution. Claire is terrific as she knows the ultimate outcome, but neither the personal outcome nor that trouble has traveled to the twentieth century. Well written with the deep characterizations, fans will relish Fraser and company’s latest tale as Diana Gabaldon overcomes the completing of all the previous major threads in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by expanding the minor left behind subplots into a great entry.

Harriet Klausner

Imager’s Challenge-L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Imager’s Challenge
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Tor, Oct 2009, $27.99
ISBN 9780765321268

The imager Rhennthyl has become a Maitre D’Aspect and named Liaison to the Civic Patrol of L’Excelsis by the Collegium. However his new Commander Artois is outraged with what he considers an affront and instead of going undercover to uncover seditious magical practicers, cheats and frauds among the elite as the Director of security operations Master Dichartyn envisioned, he is assigned street patrol in the worst sector.

As he works the streets serendipitously, Rhenn thought the Collegium would provide him with direction; instead they seem to want to avoid him. In fact as he makes progress on cases, the Collegium snubs him. When his inquiry leads to a High Holder with a personal grudge against Rhenn, the Collegium ignores his plea for backing. Ethical yet not suicidal, Rhenn considers his options, but ultimately refuses to back off though he knows challenging the aristocratic family without support could prove dangerous.

The Second Book of the Imager Portfolio (see IMAGER) is a fascinating political police procedural fantasy in which the secret use of magic rules. The story line at times turns reflective as Rhenn thoughtfully evaluates his options when no one in authority supports his findings. Although his reflections are insightful and timely into the abuse of power by omission and disregard, that also slows down the tale. Still IMAGER’S CHALLENGE is a deep look at the politics of neglect with timely connections to today’s world.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Princess of Landover- Terry Brooks

A Princess of Landover
Terry Brooks
Del Rey, Aug 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345458520

Former Chicago based lawyer Ben Holiday has faced many of his fire breathing enemy and all kinds of WITCHES BREW in the courtroom and in the fantasy realm of Landover where he has become the monarch and his sylph wife Willow his queen. Magical foes prove easy to deal with when he and his spouse struggle with their half-breed fifteen year old daughter Mistaya, who has been suspended from her preppy school back on earth.

Desperate to teach his rebellious offspring a lesson on behavior, he sends her in exile to Libiris the royal library for her to rusticate. Instead Mistaya rejects her father’s scheme and runs away only to end up somehow Libiris. She tries to hide from her parents, but Mistaya hears an odd voice from some creature called His Eminence begging her for help. She soon finds a dastardly plot to overthrow her parents so like any teen she charges ahead kicking demon butt in order to prevent a coup from happening.

The latest Landover fantasy is an exciting tale starring a chip off the old block teen heroine who brings freshness to the saga. The story line is fast-paced as Ben faces his greatest challenge of all: a rebellious teenage daughter. Fans will enjoy her adventures while newcomers will be able to join Mistaya’s escapade with or without reading the fun previous books in this straightforward saga so different than Shannara.

Harriet Klausner

No Doors, No Windows-Joe Schreiber

No Doors, No Windows
Joe Schreiber
Del Rey, Oct 13 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780345510136

Greetings card writer Scottie Mast leaves his Seattle home to attend the funeral of his father in their hometown Milburn, New Hampshire. Already entrenched inside their parents’ home are his brother Owen and his five year old nephew Henry. A wannabe novelist, Scottie finds a partially completed manuscript The Black Wing written by his late dad buried in a shed. His high school sweetheart, Sonia Graham persuades him to stay in town to finish the horror thriller.

Scottie soon finds the location Round House that his father set the story line in. He is unsure why he rents the abode that doesn’t inspire him to finish writing the tale. At the same time he worries about Henry under the neglectful care of his drunken father. Scot begins to find information that frightens him of evil doings in the late nineteenth century and recently. When the theater where his mother and uncle died in a fire fifteen years ago is being torn down Scottie finds his muse to complete his dad’s horror thriller, but nothing seems quite what it appears.

Exciting and filled with a foreboding atmosphere of doom, NO DOORS, NO WINDOWS is an entertaining ghostly amateur sleuth. Scottie is an intriguing loser until he finds his muse only his inspiration is not quite what he anticipated. Although the atmosphere overwhelms the plot at times, fans will enjoy Joe Schreiber's horror thriller as Scottie seems to CHASING THE DEAD.

Harriet Klausner

Time Travelers Never Die-Jack McDevitt

Time Travelers Never Die
Jack McDevitt
Ace, Nov 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441017638

Michael Shelborne is a two time nominee for the Nobel Prize; a brilliant scientist in numerous fields until one day he disappeared without a trace. The mystery of his vanishing intensifies because the evidence looks as if he was home when he disappeared.

Michael’s lawyer gives his son Shel a letter that directs him to a rented mailbox where he will find three Q pods that he must destroy. Shel does not destroy them, but experiments with them to find out what happened to his dad. He learns they are tools that enable a person to travel through time. Shel decides to find his father and bring him home, but he will need to visit many lands in different eras. He confides what he knows to his friend linguistic expert Dave Dryden who he needs to help him with ancient languages. They travel back in time and see first hand major events, but finally catch up to Michael. However, the results of the reunion are nothing like what Shel or Dave expected. When Shel goes into the future, he discovers something that prevents him from returning to his time and to Helen the woman he loves.

This is a super time travel thriller that explains many of the logic paradoxes including being in the same general place at the same time, but does so in easy to understand language yet never dumbed down. That is the key to Jack McDevitt’s excellent tale filled with action in diverse eras, a strong lead pairing and a solid support cast. The search for Shel’s elusive father is enhanced by a who’s who of Western history as the hero gets a lesson in life especially when he breaks his pact with Dave and goes back to the future.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Gates-John Connolly

The Gates
John Connolly
Atria, Oct 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439172636

Three days before Halloween in Biddlecombe, England, eleven year old Samuel Johnson of 501 Crowley Rd. accompanied by Boswell the Dachshund goes trick or treating to get a head start against the competition. At 666 Crowley Rd. Samuel debates Mr. Abernathy as to who or what or why they are trick or treating three days early than the official date.

Inside 666, using subatomic physics kicked, punted or booted (not being a scientist not sure which is the vernacular) inside a particle accelerator, Abernathy and three’s company create two giant gates that prove to be a portal between earth and Hades. All hell has broken out on the planet as the first time since the original dot 13.7 billion years or so ago exploded into the Big Bang, demons cross over in what seems to be the beginning of the small crunch. Samuel the warrior kid fights the horde but fails to persuade adults including his parents that a demonic invasion has begun.

This lighthearted fantasy is an amusing tale of good vs. evil in a world of cynical disbelievers. Samuel and Boswell battle the adversary almost alone as ironically their only ally is a low life Nurd the incompetent sub-demon. Targeting young adults with puns, hyperbole, and Abbot-Costello slapstick starting with John Connolly’s version of who’s on first, older readers who enjoy jocularity in their quantum physics will appreciate the tweener and the canine save the world; although some might wonder why bother.

Harriet Klausner

Star Wars Death Troopers-Joe Schreiber

Star Wars Death Troopers
Joe Schreiber
Del Rey, Oct 13 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9780345509628

The Imperial prison barge Purge is in a remote sector transporting five hundred of the most ruthless criminals ever known to their new home when the vessel breaks down. Nearby is a drifting Star Destroyer. The crew goes on board hoping to salvage parts needed to repair the thrusters on the Purge.

Not all return from the derelict ship, but those who manage to return are very sick bringing back a host of nasty symptoms that rapidly spread throughout the Purge even in the maximum confinement cells isolated from everyone and everything. The ship’s chief medical officer Dr. Zahara Cody tries but fails to contain the disease. In incredibly short order, what was once thousands of people on board had dwindled to six survivors. Cody, Captain of the Guard Sartoris, the teenage Longo sibling prisoners completing their father’s prison sentence because he died during a torture interrogation and two other inmates held in the utmost maximum confinement cell. This six are not allies as Cody and the siblings have an axe to grind with Sartoris while the other two have been kept away from people for either lethal or political reasons. The living sextet better unite because the dead crew and prisoners have reanimated and are coming for fresh meat.

Zombies in Star War space seems out of place yet it works as an entertaining thriller with connections to the original film trilogy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with tons of action even before the dead come back to life. Unique and refreshing in terms of Star Wars (zombies have become an “overkilled” species lately), fans will enjoy Joe Schreiber’s horror science fiction thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Haunting Jordan-P.J. Alderman

Haunting Jordan
P.J. Alderman
Bantam, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592108

Jordan Marsh’s husband died in a car cash because someone cut the brake lines of his vehicle. LAPD Detective Drake believes she killed her spouse but has no evidence to prove his theory. Sick of Drake’s harassment, Jordan moves to Port Chatham, Washington; where she purchases a fixer upper Victorian, Longren House. To her surprise her new abode comes with two ghostly residents Hattie her teenage sister Charlotte.

When Hattie’s husband died, she took over his shipping business and inherited his enemies especially amidst his allies when she decides to clean up his dirty dealings. This includes resentful Mike Seavey who is a power on the docks, her late husband’s manager, and Police Chief Greeley who wants to marry Charlotte. As Jordan tries to solve who murdered Hattie back in 1890, she also has to deal with Drake who has new evidence and has come to the Pacific Northwest to see her arrested. Jordan’s lawyer refuses to allow her to be expedited back to California as the new proof would not hold up in court. Still someone wants Jordan in jail, but she has no idea who or why.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy this paranormal amateur sleuth because of the ghost who tells Jordan what happened to her back in 1890 as she tries to persuade the mortal to investigate the homicide in 2009. Looking into a cold case as a total amateur seems easy when compared to being a present day suspect in her husband’s death as Drake is like Inspector Girard of the Fugitive. P.J. Alderman writes a scintillating supernatural whodunit as the spirits connect the past with the present.

Harriet Klausner

House of Reckoning-John Saul

House of Reckoning
John Saul
Ballantine, Oct 13 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345514240

In Vermont, six months have passed since her mama died from cancer, but fourteen year old Sarah Crane has not had any time to grieve. She is too busy working on the farm while also caring for her grief stricken father Big Ed who uses alcohol to drown his sorrow. Every night he goes to bed drunk and she goes to bed praying to mama to help her.

After hours of drinking at the Fireside Tavern, Ed gets into a brawl with a man who called his late wife a whore. Ed leaves him dead before going home in his truck only to run over Sarah hurting her leg. While he goes to jail, social worker Kate Williams places Sarah in foster care with Mitch and Angie Garvey and their two teenage children Tiffany and Zach. She has almost no one as her new “family” is ice cold and treats her like a slave; while at school Sarah has become a pariah. That is except former mental patient Nick Dunnigan who hears voices and sees visions when he does not use his meds; and her art teacher Bettina Phillips, known in some circles as the witch of Shutters Mansion. The latter mentors Sarah to paint what she feels;: images of the mansion’s dark past that matches Nick’s visions and releases a power that may prove evil and vengeful.

Though nothing new except modern communication technology has been added to the story line of an outcast teen having paranormal power to enact revenge against those who hurt her yet John Saul provides an entertaining horror tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Ed runs over his daughter and never slows down until the final encounter. Fans will enjoy King’s Carrie meets Barrymore’s Ever After Cinderella as Mr. Saul writes a suspenseful horror thriller with several past, present, and hints at future twists.

Harriet Klausner

Guardian-Claire Delacroix

Claire Delacroix
Tor, Sep 29 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765359506

In 2100 The Republic classifies her as a Subhuman Atomic Deviancy Evaluation; dubbed a SHADE, but ironically near New Seattle, Twenty-three knows who she truly is as the next oracle. However, as a Shade, establishing her identity means those who defend the caste system will assassinate her. Still she must reveal her angelic blessed skill.

Fallen angel Rafe searches for the seer Delilah Desjardins. He finds her as she comes out in the open claiming to be the Oracle although the powers in new DC starting with new President Van Buren refuse at first to accept a Shade as the Oracle. Rafe abducts Delilah before she is murdered and struggles to keep her safe from killers who reject numbers as humans. He also has to contend with his need for her if he is to keep her safe from him as that would cost her ability to read the future.

“The Eyes of the Republic” see everything in Claire Delacroix’s post-apocalyptic nod to 1984 as this Brave New World is unsafe for anyone who tries to break caste boundaries; racism is the law. In fact slavery of a Shade is an acceptable practice to the point that Shades have a number not a name. The cast is solid as Delilah begins her dangerous journey to become accepted as the Oracle through a landscape of de jure and de facto racism. Readers will enjoy the stunning detail of the future of the Republic as Ms. Delacroix provides a vivid dark FALLEN earth.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thirsty-Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman
WaterBrook, Oct 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780307457158

Veterinarian Nina Parker fled her hometown of Abbey Hills, Missouri two decades ago with no thoughts of going back. However that is before she became an alcoholic, a divorcee and a professional failure due to intoxicated negligence when she neutered a prize horse. Unemployed, sober and single she comes home accompanied by her angry teenage daughter Megan and her eight year old son Adam stays with her sister Jill the cop. Her spouse Hunt follows them.

As she stays sober one day at a time but filled with remorse for what her drinking did to her family and her former employees, Nina is ignorant that she is being watched by a male who believes he has found his desire. The two and a half century old vampire Markus stalks his new neighbor with plans for her.

THIRSTY is an intriguing Christian vampire thriller starring a broken remorseful heroine, her family, and the vampire who in many ways surprisingly steals the show. The story line focuses on second chances and redemption with a few clever spins refreshing the theme. Although shifts between the past and the present are confusing as the change seems abrupt, fans will enjoy Tracey Bateman’s fine inspirational as readers will wonder whether a vampire can have a soul.

Harriet Klausner

Caleb-Sarah McCarty

Sarah McCarty
Berkley, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230572

In Dunnesville, Montana Allie the bakery owner has the hots for rancher Caleb Johnson. Every morning, very early, he is her first customer, but though he is nice and friendly to her he seems to ignore her efforts to even get his eyebrow raised let alone a more interesting lower body part. She has tried all sorts of seductive ruses from her body to her food to her coffee, but he seems immune to her desire and charm.

After a long day on her feet wearing a special bra that hurt physically and mentally failed to arouse her unrequited lover, Allie heads home when she hears a growl. Believing flight would not work she growls back to stay away or else as she holds her keys ready to poke out the potential assailant’s eyes. When instead of your garden variety mugger, a wolf attacks her she kicks at its anatomy. However, as a voice in her head shouts run, she recognizes the “sounds” as that of Caleb, but her rescuer is a shapeshifting vampire. Caleb saves her from a rival werewolf pack, but knows his life mate whom he hid his deep regard for will forever live in the shadowy world he and his siblings reside in.

The first Shadow Wranglers romantic rustic ranch fantasy is a terrific thriller that grips the audience even before the assault as Allie’s desire adds a human element to the mix. The story line is fast-paced and the Big Sky Country seems an ideal locale for howling in heat vampiric werewolves (must be one hell of a bite). Allie makes the tale work as she learns seducing a man may be easy, but loving a vampire-werewolf takes an extraordinary female.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Bad Wolf-

Big Bad Wolf
Christine Warren
St. Martin’s, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312947958

Missy Roper met alpha Silverback werewolf Graham Winter at her friend Regina’s wedding (see ONE BITE WITH A STRANGER). She has salivated over him since although they have not seen one another since the marriage gala when she ran from his sexual overtures. When they meet again during a fantasy fix-up arranged by her four BFFs, she knows the real person is even better than her dreams of him.

Graham believes Missy is his lifemate, but has problems with her being human. Thus he has conflicting issues as he must persuade his New York City clan and her they belong together or face challenges to his leadership as the alpha leader needs a wife; preferably a breeding lupine silverback as his odious cousin claims.

The latest Others' saga (See YOU’RE SO VEIN) is a wonderful urban romantic fantasy starring a beleaguered alpha facing several challenges. Comparatively speaking, his internal werewolf threats from his cousin’s challenge and from his pack’s potential rejection of his chosen outsider mate seem almost lame even with both being dangerous and real vs. persuading Missy they belong together. Fans will enjoy the heated hunt.

Harriet Klausner

Dragon Moon-Rebecca York

Dragon Moon
Rebecca York
Berkley, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230985

Kenna the psychic crosses through a hidden portal into earth on a mission to obtain information for her owner. During a vicious storm, a soaking wet Kenna is almost killed by a tree that falls. Werewolf Talon Marshall who prefers to be alone finds her in his lupine form, but saves her in his human body.

They are attracted to one another and he fears she is his soulmate; someone the recluse can do without but knows he cannot. Kenna wants to tell him the truth about what she knows re her master Vandar the psychopathic half-dragon half-vampire, but a mental barrier will not allow her to so. He knows she hides something important from him, but has no earthly idea what; only that he does not trust her and obviously she reciprocates as she distrusts him with her secret

The latest Moon romantic fantasy displays the creativity of Rebecca York as she refreshes her werewolf-life mate plot with the enslavement spell that leaves the hero distrusting his beloved and the heroine frustrated with her inability to tell her beloved the truth. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene in vile villain Vandar’s cave and never slows down as love comes at the wrong time for this couple. Series fans will relish DRAGON MOON with a strong casting as the malevolent paranormal hybrid controls the werewolf’s life mate.

Harriet Klausner

Witch Craft-Caitlin Kittredge

Witch Craft
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin’s, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312943622

Police Lieutenant Luna Wilder runs the Nocturne City Supernatural Crime Squad but neither she nor her unit is highly regarded by the rest of the department or for that matter the people they protect. Still the grouchy werewolf works hard on cases and expects the same from her subordinates.

Deadly arsons have Luna and company running around the city without a respite. The arsonist has successfully destroyed the homes of the supernatural residents killing the otherworldly occupants. As she works the case, supernatural killers from species who have not arrived in Nocturne City try to kill her. She and ATF agent Will Fagin team up as they try to prevent a pandemic disaster while also unable to ignore their attraction though she uncovers his darkest secret that he concealed from her.

Fans of the terrific Nocturne City urban police procedural fantasy will relish the latest entry WITCH CRAFT as the supernatural body count expands with new eerie and dangerous species surfacing to cause chaos and destruction; the city is on the brink. Luna is nastier to her allies than ever (I am surprised she remains a supervisor) as she and Will, assisted by other law enforcement, try to prevent a paranormal catastrophe. Caitlin Kittredge provides her audience with another great thriller as survival of the fittest seems unlikely for the heroic duo as they are far down the food chain.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out Of The Darkness-Jaime Rush

Out Of The Darkness
Jaime Rush
Avon, Sep 29 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061690365

Tattoo artist Zoe Stoker is frightened after receiving an enigmatic cautionary message from a dead person; allegedly CIA. However that seems calm compared to an assassin who tries to kill her. Cheveyo saves her life, but though she does not trust him she goes with him to a recently created support group, the Offspring; as she is one of the children of psychic parents who participated in a government sponsored experiment (see A PERFECT DARKNESS).

Rand Brandenburg also recently joined the Offspring although he preferred not to. His uncanny gambling skill made him known to those who want the Offspring under control or dead like original experimenter Gerard Darkwell. Rand feels for the wary Zoe, but she knows from her past not to allow emotion to control her as her out of control telekinetic skill sends objects flying; however she also finds him to be the first person she cannot keep outside of her heart.

The names alone are great symbols with Cheveyo, Stoker, Brandenburg and Darkwell, etc. providing hints of a dark urban fantasy landscape. This second thriller is fast-paced with the suspense building up from the first Darkness novel; leading to a hooked audience wanting the next entry yesterday. However, in spite of the terrific overarching saga, the keys to OUT OF THE DARKNESS is the lead couple as he embraced his ability for personal gain while she fled her ability out of fear mindful of the X-Men’s Rogue. Fans will root for this couple and have dark thoughts about flying bodily objects.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Night, Haunted Night-Terri Garey

Silent Night, Haunted Night
Terri Garey
Avon, Oct 27 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061582042

Psychic Nicki Styx and her lover ER Dr. Joe Bacombe hope for a quiet Christmas together as each has had their fill of demons, spirits, and possessions. However, neither get what they want most as this holiday season is paranormally insane for even this pair used to psychopathic visitors from the Dark.

Joe is under a nocturnal sexual assault from Selene the succubus abetted by her Fate sisters; their plan is to get at Nicki through her beloved. Nicki has her own problems dealing with a spirit who committed suicide and her son who make demands on the psychic. Finally as all hell breaks loose, the devil pays Nikki a courtesy call.

This is a humorous lighthearted urban fantasy as Joe probably has to believe in the Nazareth tune Love Hurts since he is an easy victim of possession by feisty paranormal females (YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I HAUNT); before he met Nicki A MATCH MADE IN HELL was metaphysical. Spirited and “Scrooged” while not yet thirty Nicki is terrific as she battles the latest visitors who assault her and her beloved while she should hum the Charlie Daniels Band’s The Devil Went Down to Georgia to fiddle with the heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Hunt-Anne Marsh

The Hunt
Anne Marsh
Love Spell, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528247

At the Temple of Amun-Ra, Miu hesitantly enters the tunnels. Her quest is to save her sister and to complete a loyalty pledge she made to her employer the thief master Lierr. She must steal a powerful moonstone necklace from the crypt and escape the legendary Guardian warriors who are said to be shapeshifters; although she believes they are mortal warriors only everything she heard is no female ever escaped THE HUNT.

Jafar the Guardian notices Miu and concludes she will prove to be a pest as she refuses to undergo the standard virginity test. Amun-Ra orders Jafar to follow Miu to learn why she is here confident and disobedient unlike the other frightened females. Jafar does not know how much trouble she causes as he catches her stealing a necklace and begins to believe she is his mate, but she deserves a stiff penalty as he was betrayed once before by a female.

The moment Miu breaks the laws by entering the tunnels this exciting romantic fantasy gets its claws into the audience who go in with her and never let’s go until the final confrontation with Amun-Ra. The key to the Marsh mythos is realm of THE HUNT seems genuine as the author provides enough lore interwoven nicely into the (too many) subplots for readers to believe in its existence. With a nod to Egyptian mythology and a strong support cast, fans will cheer on the lead pair through action to the nth degree while each has doubts about a relationship between them.

Harriet Klausner

My Wicked Vampire-Nina Bangs

My Wicked Vampire
Nina Bangs
Leisure, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843959550

Sparkle Stardust welcomes botanist Cinn Airmid to the Castle of Dark Dreams. However Cinn insists she does not need the cheerleading team spirit pizzazz as she works with plants who are loners. Still Sparkle mentions her soul mate Mede who came close to being vampire fodder on the road to Galveston.

Although Cinn is sinfully good with plants and may have made a sentient species, she scoffs at vampires, demons, and cosmic chaos creators. However, she has to reconsider what she knows of the universe when she meets Dacion, who has played dead as an undead for almost six centuries to avoid his sire Stephen, who with his minion is coming.

The “Wicked” return to the Castle of Dark Dreams is filled with pleasure, fantasy, humor, and danger, as the cosmic trouble making duo are one night’s bite from trouble as their overarching subplot takes quite a twist. The vampire and the botanist are a wonderful pairing of love with the paranormal minion converging on them. Fans of the saga will appreciate MY WICKED VAMPIRE while newcomers will enjoy this tasty tale and seek the wicked urban romantic fantasy backlist to learn how far Ganymede and Sparkle have come.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Indigo Springs-A.M. Dellamonica

Indigo Springs
A.M. Dellamonica
Tor, Oct 27 2009, $14.99
ISBN 9780765319470

In Indigo Springs, Oregon, Astrid Letherwood like most if not all the other residents assumed her father was a drunken bum. With his death, she learns the truth about her dad; he was an underground magic practitioner who created “chantment” magical objects that he gave to people he felt deserved a slight edge. He told nobody, allegedly not even his daughter, who was actually his apprentice but remembers nothing about magic since he died. He knew the witch finders stalk everyone with their burn at the stakes first and ask the charred corpse questions second.

However he was unable to keep Astrid safe as the government has incarcerated her although they improved her prison to a comfortable cage. Roche and his agents have her under arrest for kidnapping and murder. The latest inquisitioner is hostage negotiator Will Forest who actually gets Astrid to reveal a bit of what she knows, but she recalls nothing of value. Family friend Sahara Knox arrives and taps into the blue fluid vitagua that flows underneath her dad’s home and is the source of magic. Unlike Letherwood who felt magic should do no harm, she employs violence turning people and animals into monsters as she wants the underground magic rebellion to come out into the open.

This is a super psychological suspense suburban fantasy starring a great bewildered lead protagonist who is center to all the goings on. Her confusion purposely leaves the story line somewhat hazy as her latest interrogator tries to get at the truth but is different from previous inquisitioners as he is first a hostage negotiator while the others were enforcers using any means. Sahara complicates a complex character driven thriller that uses the questioning of an alleged convict to establish the delightful Dellamonica domain.

Harriet Klausner

Darker Angels-M.L.N.Hanover

Darker Angels
M.L.N. Hanover
Pocket, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416576778

She inherited her Uncle Eric’s estate consisting of money and property along with his mission to free the human horse possessed by demons or the loas. By accepting his legacy skeptical Jayne Heller admits there is a hell of a lot of supernatural communities out there; some of which are extreme evil.

Meanwhile former FBI Agent Karen Black has been searching for a serial killing horse rider Legba who picked his next host horse Sabine, the granddaughter of Amelie (who he now rides) whose life is nearing an end. The loa starts taking over Sabine but Karen hopes to thwart its ambition. Jayne and her posse travel from Athens (Greece not Georgia) to New Orleans to help Jayne in her quest to end the serial killing horse rider’s reign of terror. When she arrives she notices the city is arising from the watery grave of Katrina while the belief in voodoo remains strong. Karen leads the demonic hunt and when she is near her goal she orders Jayne to leave. Realizing she has been tricked Jayne informs Karen she will remain to rid the city of the paranormal serial killing horse and gets in between a battle with one decent and one evil loa.

DARKER ANGEL, the second Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy (see UNCLEAN SPIRITS) is a fascinating and entertaining thriller in which it is difficult to separate the good loas from the bad; just ask Jayne. Determined to follow in her uncle’s brave footsteps and encouraged by his voice to do so, Jayne continues his war to dispatch the malevolent ones back to where they came from. Ignorant and prone to error, she learns the family business while under fire. Fans will root for Jayne in her invisible war against demons, loas, and who knows what else M.L.N. Hanover will dream up.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hell Hollow-Ronald Kelly

Hell Hollow
Ronald Kelly
Cemetery Dance, Nov 2009, $40.00
ISBN 9781587671869

Over breakfast in Atlanta, his dad the corporate attorney and his mom the psychiatrist inform twelve year old Keith Bishop that he will spend four weeks with his nonagenarian grandfather on the old guy’s Mcleod farm in Harmony, Tennessee. His parents plan to vacation in Europe while their son rusticates. Keith expects one month of boredom.

With not much to do, Keith and three friends (Chuck, Rusty and Maggie) he meets explore the woods near his grandfather rural locale. They find HELL HOLLOW hidden in the eerie woods; a place where back in 1917, Dr. Augustus Leech’s Traveling Medicine Show stopped. The townsfolk lynched Leech whom they thought collected souls for Satan. However, most of those who were involved have passed on while the few who still live conceal the deadly deed by avoiding the area where Keith and company walk unaware that his wicked spirit lives. Soon the tweeners, an escaped killer, and a rape victim collide with the malevolence who has patiently waited for decades to steal more souls.

This is a terrific horror tale starring a solid ensemble of humans of all ages and temperament, and a vile evil able to live even after his body died. Readers will enjoy Ronald Kelly’s one sitting suspense laden supernatural thriller as “the evil that men do lives after them” (Shakespeare).

Harriet Klausner

Elegy Beach-Steven R. Boyett

Elegy Beach
Steven R. Boyett
Ace, Nov 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780441017959

Three decades have passed since magic became the physics that rules the world. The Change as it is called by those who grew up after the planes fell and the cars stopped has brought with it much more than the halt of technology, fantasy creatures abound and a generation gap like no other ever before exists.

Ariel the unicorn reunites with her best friend Pete Garey (see ARIEL) after her mate Joe was murdered. At the same time post Change born wizard Yanamandra “Yan” Ramchandani wants to do something so big his name will go down in history and he has found the achievement of a lifetime. He knows how to reverse the Change. As Ariel and Pete investigate Joe’s homicide, they learn of Yan’s plot that the older generation would relish but those born after the Change and the tweeners like Pete would not. To prevent Yan from causing a second catastrophe, the unicorn and her human BFF enlist Pete’s son Fred who happens to be Yan's best friend, and the renegade mage’s father Dr. Ram; Fred also hopes Tan's sister Nandita joins their troupe.

Although exciting and fast-paced with an intriguing background of a post-apocalyptic realm, there are some jarring survival elements as the magic practitioners use much of what existed before the Change like canned food in spite of shelf time rather than employing their mage skills. Still this is an entertaining tale as the lead pair and their allies try to prevent the reversal of the Change although Yan will have plenty of supporters amongst the Baby Boomers and Generation X and detractors from Generation Change. Fans of the first tale will enjoy the sequel though much of the innocence is gone (he has an offspring).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 18, 2009

Riptide-Margaret Carroll

Margaret Carroll
Avon, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061652776

Alcoholic Christina Cardiff enters rehab in an exclusive facility in the Midwest to deal with her drinking problem. Her school age son Tyler is vacationing in France with his paternal grandparents and her spouse Jason fails to accompany her; instead he chose to remain in the Hamptons or Manhattan. She is not sure which. She is there for a few days when she learns her Wall St spouse Jason is dead found in the pool.

Forced out of rehab and back to East Hampton, she returns to alcohol and her lover Daniel Cunningham. As Daniel takes over much of her life, Christina receives a second shocker when the police suspect her of killing her husband. While she tries to remain sober, she also faces a real threat over custody of Tyler.

This is a powerful vivid character study with no engaging protagonists as the cast is hedonistic and selfish. The profound story line looks deep at a self-destructive individual who has plenty going for her yet seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With a suspenseful final spin into a deadly RIPTIDE, Margaret Carroll provides the audience with a strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Seduced By Shadows-Jessa Slade

Seduced By Shadows
Jessa Slade
Signet, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228284

Her life was never that good especially after her mother committed suicide and her father proved pathetic while her brothers fled the family. However, Sera Littlejohn’s life became worse when she is crippled in an accident; now she lives every moment with unbearable pain and a struggle to get around.

Although she had not thought much of possession, the demon entices her with healing her battered body by taking it over, which also denotes damned. However, when she meets also possessed Ferris Archer, she finds her soul mate. He, in turn, has never met a demonic-possessed woman although he knows she is his if he does not have to kill her for what is inside her.

The key to the first marked Souls’ romantic urban fantasy is the belief that the demon-angel war fought inside the bodies of humans in places like Chicago is real. Everything else flows from the belief that the Slade realm is genuine with each soul a battlefield. Sera and Archer are a fabulous pairing as each comes into their relationship possessed by demonic baggage. Fans will want to join in the war of souls fought one person at a time except when love brings two souls together.

Harriet Klausner

Tempest Rising-Nicole Peeler

Tempest Rising
Nicole Peeler
Orbit, Nov 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316056588

Rockabill, Maine is a small town that is home to the local pariah Jane True. The townsfolk hold her culpable for the death of her lover Jason, but not as much as she blames herself. She never told him that she can swim in the icy water and not feel the cold. During one of her nocturnal swims, Jason saw her and tried to rescue her but died in the whirlpool Old Saw.

One night while swimming, she rescues a body from Old Saw. When she brings the body out of the water she realizes the dead victim is Peter who came to town to write a book. When she goes back to her place on the beach she meets Nell the gnome, a talking dog Anyan and a kelpie. They explain to Jane that her mom is a Selkie who after six years on land returned to the sea and her seal form. An outside investigator arrives in Rockabil to inquire into the drowning death of Peter, a halfling like Jane. When she meets Ryu the vampire, they fall into instant lust. His assignment gets complicated when a goblin arrives to take over his mission but the goblin is killed as is her superior. Peter apparently was working on a halfling project; which Ryu feels is tied to the Alfar elves who rule the supernatural world, but Jane never expected to be thrust into the center of an eerie schism that could kill her and tear asunder the supernatural realm.

Readers who enjoy the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine and the Sookie saga by Charlaine Harris will want to read the misadventures of Jane True. The two decades or so heroine copes with an inner strength with one tragedy after another, but the serial murders of halflings frighten her like nothing before. Although perhaps too much paranormal is introduced in this fun first urban fantasy whodunit, fans will enjoy the terrific TEMPEST RISING in the Pine Tree State.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wild Magic-Ann Macela

Wild Magic
Ann Macela
Medallion, Oct 1 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836997

In Chicago, Irenee Sabel works as an event planner, but is also a witch who enforces the codes of magic usage especially those evil artifacts outlawed. She is assigned to destroy the cataclysm stone; her first solo major act.

Irenee attends a party thrown by an alleged ancient warlock Alton Finster whose safe supposedly contains an evil relic. She sneaks away from the gala using an invisibility spell to conceal her movement in order to break into the safe. However, she is caught by Department of Homeland Security Agent Jim Tylan, who is legally searching for financial records to attack Finster, the man he blames for his sister’s death. Somehow he sees her in spite of her cloaking. As they team up, she believes he has some magic skills and is her soul mate, but first they must make the world safe from a malevolent mage.

The latest Defends & Swords Magic romantic urban fantasy (see YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?) is an engaging tale as Irenee is as stunned as Jim is when he sees the “glowing” handbag and the invisible sorceress holding it. Filled with magical and romantic mayhem, fans of Ann Macela’s fun series will enjoy the latest entry as Chicago’s historical Gold Coast is the focus of WILD MAGIC.

Harriet Klausner

Friday Night Bites-Chloe Neill

Friday Night Bites
Chloe Neill
NAL, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451227935

Ten months have passed since the vampires came out of the closet and revealed themselves to humanity. New to the biting night life, upper class Merit struggles with her bite and her position as sentinel of the House of Cadogan; one of the three vampire “Houses” in Chicago. However, those are minor problems compared to her constant disputes with the dude who changed her, four century old master vampire Ethan Sullivan.

Currently, vampires are riding a wave of good will media. However, rumors fly that wannabe tabloid reporter Jamie Breckenridge has learned about Raves in which humans serve up blood like a cocktail hour. Merit knows him as his family and hers (human that is) travel in the same elitist circle. Merit needs to persuade ambitious Jamie to drop the story before the humans go for blood.

The second Chicagoland vampire tale (see SOME GIRLS BITE) is super urban fantasy starring a tyro bloodsucker who continues to have major relationships with mortal and vampires; Merit still connects (loose definition) with her social climbing parents and other mortal family members and obviously with her new vampire family. Fans will appreciate Merit’s efforts to balance her two teetering worlds summed up simply by TGIFNB (Thank God it’s Friday Night Bites).

Harriet Klausner

Dawnbreaker-Jocelynn Drake

Jocelynn Drake
Eos, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061542886

The naturi are preparing the end game assault with a special sacrifice that will destroy the barrier between them and the human-nightwalkers. Once Rowe completes the portal, his spouse the queen Aurora will lead her race as they cross over to devastate both species.

The only hope for humanity and the nightwalkers resides with Mira, who has special skills especially with the use of fire. However, she is realistic as she knows the odds are heavily against her unless an alliance is forged as has occurred between her and the vampire slayer Danaus. However they have new hope when they capture naturi Princess Cynnia who insists she opposes her sister’s plan for the apocalypse.

The third Dark Days urban fantasy (see DAYHUNTER and NIGHTWALKER) is a terrific action-packed entry that is driven by partners forced into what both believe is an unnatural partnership. The characters make the story line feel genuine as Mira the fire starter vampire and Danaus the vampire hunter need to team up or lose to the naturi. With treason from within their ranks and seemingly within the nature, Jocelyn Drake complicates her overarching theme tenfold in what is turning into a magnificent saga.

Harriet Klausner

Treason's Shore-Sherwood Smith

Treason's Shore
Sherwood Smith
Daw, Aug 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780756405731

Prince Indevan-Dal has regained his honor having warned his country of the Venn invasion and led the defeat of the enemy. He remains in the capital after years of exile and does his duty by pledging his allegiance to the ruler Evred and marrying Tdor although his lover when he lived at sea, the sorceress Dag Signi is unhappy with her relegated status.

Meanwhile the Venn war fleet returns home to recuperate. Commander Durasnir and his wife Brun hope the foolish youthful monarch Rajnir gives them and their sailors a respite; but fear the real ruler behind the throne Dag Erkric will not allow such. Their trepidation proves correct when Erkric abducts his ten year old son to use as a hostage. There is also a Blood Hunt directed at Signi, who is captured. The Venn are preparing for a second invasion but who shall lead the opposition Inda or Elgar the Fox becomes a controversial distraction.

The fantastic fourth and final Inda fantasy (see INDA, THE FOX and KING'S SHIELD) is a super ending to an excellent saga as the prime characters constantly must choose between personal desires and kingdom needs. The choices are not easy as loyalty to a king may prove treasonous to a kingdom. Complex with thriving cultures on land and at sea, TREASON’S SHORE completes one of the best fantasy chronicles in years as fans will want to visit the realm of stupendous Sherwood Smith; recommend starting at the beginning to better understand the motives of the prime time players.

Harriet Klausner

The Monstrumologist-Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist
Rick Yancey
Simon & Schuster, Sep 22 2009, $17.99
ISBN: 9781416984481

In 1888 twelve year old William Henry James lives with monstrumologist Doctor Pellinore Warthrop ever since his parents died years ago. One night a grave robber delivers a desecrated corpse to Warthrop. The doctor is somewhat horrified by the condition of the body, but not as much as his ward.

Warthrop insists the atrocity was done by Anthropophagi who apparently came from Africa bringing with them massacres and slaughters; they are cannibals who dine on man; competing with one another to be the first to rip off a head. As the doctor and his assistant investigate the latest bloodshed, the pair is also forced to look at their own ancestry, but most critical is to find a way to end the gruesome butchery before their town is destroyed.

Told entirely by Will in his diary who died in 2007, THE MOMSTRUMOLIGIST is a well written gruesome horror thriller that grips readers starting with the opening dictionary definition of the title and never let’s goes as the twelve years old hero describes his and his guardian’s exploits. The story line is vivid, but must not be read on full stomach as Rick Yancey holds nothing back yet also explores relationships between an adult and a child, and the ethical boundaries of science when death is involved. Gory perhaps over the edge to disgusting, this is horror at its worst, which means at its exciting entreating best.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Storm Witch-Violette Malan

The Storm Witch
Violette Malan
Daw, Sep 2009, $15.00
ISBN 9780756405748

In Lesonika, Partners Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane of the Mercenary Guild learn they are accused of kidnapping and murder. They return to the Tarkin of Hellik’s Court to prove their innocence. To achieve their objective, they must investigate the homicide and determine who the real killer is.

Dhulyn and Parno begin the probe, but are disrupted by something more perilous than a murder accusation. Long Ocean Nomads have abducted some friends at sea. Loyal to a fault, the duet set off on the rescue although Dhulyn has fears because she has had visions that Parno will die at sea so she fears this mission is doomed.

The latest Dhulyn-Parno escapades (see THE SLEEPING GOD and THE SOLDIER KING) are exciting high seas adventures with three major detours in the fast-paced story line. First they start investigating the murder accusation, but switch to a watery rescue before switching again to a strange land mission. Fans of the saga will relish their latest thriller summed up nicely by Parno when referring to the mercenary Guild says “What kind of problems can they give us? What could be worse than what we been through”? With this pair anything can happen to the delight of readers.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waking Evil-Kylie Brant

Waking Evil
Kylie Brant
Berkley, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230718

Forensics Investigator Ramsey Clark works for highly regarded Raiker Forensics. When it comes to her work, she is scientifically thorough and has no time for nonsense or play; when it comes to her personal life alas she has no time to play either.

The homicide of a young woman sends Ramsey to rustic Buffalo Springs, Tennessee where she joins the investigative team of Sheriff Mark Rollins and TBI Agents Matthews and Powell. However this case is anything but by the book for Ramsey who adheres to standard procedures. Instead the witnesses insist the ancient red mist settles over the town. Intruding on her effort to remain professional is parapsychologist Devlin Stryker, who insists the killer will not fit her forensic profile; he refuses to back away from his attraction to her though she tries to keep him outside of her heart. When a second mysterious homicide occurs, Ramsey and Devlin team up seeking a killer before another murder occurs.

This is an enjoyable paranormal romantic mystery starring two likable humans, a beleaguered town, and a killer seemingly from beyond if you believe Devlin or a diabolical mortal if you believe Ramsey. The first reaction by Ramsey to meeting Dev is priceless as she incredulously calls him a “Ghost Hunter”. Putting aside the name of the heroine brings memories of the former male Attorney General, the latest Mindhunter thriller (see WAKING NIGHTMARE) is a superb police procedural romantic suspense enhanced by the supernatural and the romance.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal Sins-Amanda Ashley

Immortal Sins
Amanda Ashley
Zebra, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780640

Every night after work Karinna Adams visits the Underwood Art gallery as she is drawn to a painting “Man Walking in the Moonlight” by renowned artist Josef Vilinus. During every visit the man seems to be somewhere else in the picture as if he walks around the landscape. This time she hears him speak “help me”; frightened she flees.

Jason Rourke has roamed the landscape of the Vilinus painting for three centuries. Three hundred years ago Vilinus the wizard cursed him for taking his virgin daughter Ana; he also sent Ana inside another painting. Jason knows there are two ways he can be freed: a mortal female calling him to come to her or the wizard’s death.

Kari takes the painting home with her to see if she might want to buy it. The next night Kari dreams of the man in the picture making love to her; Jason dreams of his fangs dining on her throat as he is a vampire who looks forward to tasting the sweetness of her blood. When she wishes he was real, the painting falls and the glass shatters. Jason is freed and Vilinus knows it. Jason tells her he is a vampire who was cursed and about Ana still trapped. Jason explains to Kari he needs her help to rescue Ana who is trapped in a Romanian museum. She agrees to help him although she struggles with falling in love with a vampire.

The lead couple is a strong pairing and the support cast is solid while the heroine’s doubts about crossing over to become a vampire add tension between them especially enhanced by another coupling. Jason adapts nice and slow to the modern age. Although the confrontation is not quite as dramatic as the rest of this super urban romantic fantasy, fans will enjoy the vampire who fell from the painting into love.

Harriet Klausner

Shadowlight-Lynn Viehl

Lynn Viehl
Onyx, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412782

Jessa Bellamy is a highly regarded job recruiting consultant. Her success is due to her special skill of being able to touch someone and journey into the SHADOWLAND where she learns the dark side of a candidate that they hide from an interviewer. She hides her ability, but also knows there are other Takyn like her.

GenHance CEO Jonah Genaro has learned of Jessa and tries to kidnap her. He wants to use her as he has others in an experiment to create a race of supermen via gene manipulation; no one has survived his tests. Mattias rescues Jessa; insisting he just wants to keep her safe, but he has secrets that he conceals from her while Jonah wants her back and some unknown adversary prefers both dead.

Expanding the world of the Darkyn with a SHADOWLIGHT into the Kyndred, Lynn Viehl provides her fans with an even more complex realm in her latest enjoyable urban romantic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of suspense as Jonah plots to harvest Jessa’s DNA while Mattias plans to protect her though he also has other secret plans for her. With a strong lead couple and a terrific in a macabre sense villain, SHADOWLIGHT unveils a dramatic thrilling twist.

Harriet Klausner

Lucinda, Dangerously-Sunny

Lucinda, Dangerously
Berkley, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228982

Lucinda the demon dead princess has become the most powerful being ever since she and her companions left Hell to return to the realm of the living and the Monere Queens who fear nothing except perhaps her. However, while there are those who love and adulate her; there are also those who envy her. All Lucinda wants is a nice life with those she cherishes.

She has bond-mated with Monere warrior Stefan and his ward Jonnie, and is some never before known way also with Talon “the Flower of Darkness”. Her two guards, Ruric and Hari are loyal though the former also feels protective of a blind human female. However, in this little Eden has come a demonic serpent. Her enemy Derek abducts her and takes her to the edge of Hell where only the only the deadliest survive with no hope because he believes sacrificing Lucinda will restore life to this dead demon.

The complex second Demon Princess erotic fantasy (see LUCINDA, DARKLY) is an exhilarating thriller due a super support cast (including Derek) who enhance understanding of the lead protagonist; ironically much of the exciting story line is told from her either the heroine’s anguished or sexual perspective. The secondary subplots embellish the super prime segue as romance, sex and danger stalk the donkey-kicking heroine and her cohorts with Derek lurking. Sunny, as usual brightens up the day with her latest romantic urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

The Renegade Hunter-Lynsay Sands

The Renegade Hunter
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061474316

For centuries, Nicholas Argeneau was one of the best vampire hunters tracking down those who broke the immortal law. Fifty years ago, he quit and apparently turned rogue.

However, when a vampire attacks mortal bar manager Josephine Willan, Nicholas cannot stop himself from getting involved; he rescues her and cannot resist stealing a kiss. He quickly learns what happens with good Samaritans when he is captured by agents of the Vampire Council who wipe out Jo’s memory of the event and them. As Nicholas awaits trial, Jo regains the memory of their kiss. She helps him escape. However, when his Uncle Lucian Argeneau learns who she is to Nicholas, he uses her as a lure to recapture the rogue. Once again Lucien and Nicholas underestimates Jo, who feels her well being is best taken care of at Nicholas’ side even as she tries to learn why the kindhearted vampire was declared a rogue.

This is an intriguing Rogue Hunter romantic urban fantasy with the only known Argeneau to go rogue starring with his life mate as the audience learns why. Adding to the fun of the family reunion is a degree of connection as her sister and his former associate Mortimer are engaged (see THE ROGUE HUNTER). The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when he rescues her and she accuses him of the “penis-eye thing” and never looks back (pun intended). Series readers will fully enjoy the superb tale of the intrepid human and the vampire forced to come out of the cold now that he has found his life mate.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Kin-Maria Lima

Blood Kin
Maria Lima
Juno (Pocket), Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439156766

Keira Kelly belongs to Clan Kelly, a family of magic users who look human, but cannot breed with them. She is at Wild Moon Ranch in Texas with her lover Adam the vampire king of his tribe when she undergoes the Change. Normally that brings the person one paranormal power, but in her case the Change provides her with all the diverse powers her clan mates possess. This makes her the heir to the clan leader so she must leave behind her beloved vampire for a little while and heed her Great-Great Grandmother Gigi’s call to head to Vancouver.

Gideon, Keira’s evil ex lover, is dying. Gigi asks Keira to escort him to her mother’s side if they can’t heal him. A Sidhe Seelie Daffyd ap Geraint accompanies them. When they are sitting in a vehicle he disappears. Only Keira heard the song which means the Sidhe called back Daffyd. In Vancouver near the entrance to Faerie an Unseelie Sidhe is killing the homeless stealing their essence. Keira and her entourage hunt down the killer as she learns more about her heritage and Gigi’s plans for her include uniting with Others.

This is a great urban fantasy as Maria Lima uses British Columbia to the fullest and cleverly keeps Gigi off the page until the end yet her presence seems everywhere. Gigi is a kind ruler whose strategic goal is the uniting of the paranormal species so as to end their hostilities; she believes her descendent is the key. Keira is terrific as the confused “coming of age” heroine who seems to be in ever paranormal being’s crosshairs. Ms. Lima’s tale is a special romantic suspense fantasy on a par with the best works of Laurel K. Hamilton and Kelly Armstrong.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart-Jesse Bullington

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
Jesse Bullington
Orbit, Nov 2009, $14.99
ISBN 9780316049344

In 1364 the grim brothers Hegel and Manfried Grossbart, knowing what flows in their ancestral blood, decide to join the family business so they can make a fortune robbing graves. Their plan is to keep robbing graves while they seek their family heaven the Gyptland crypts. On their quest across Europe and the Holy Land, they receive help from the Pope, the Crusades, and especially the Black Plague.

Along their journey they kill peasants and demons with no regard to either species. Still they march on as grave-robbers and slayers of the innocent and the monstrous. However, as they argue theological dogma, the siblings dodging bodily liquids will learn death can be kinder than life.

Not an easy read especially on a full stomach, this blood and guts and blood and vomit satirical medieval pilgrimage is a humorous over the top of the Alps fantasy thriller; just don’t stay down wind from the slice and dice brothers. The grim brothers Grossbart are a gruesome pair with no redeeming qualities as their seemingly endless road trip is fueled by human liquid logistics, vividly described; sort of a 400 page story line version of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knight keeps fighting as he loses his limbs. For select fans who relish a high body count as the brothers grim learn there is much worse out there than death.

Harriet Klausner

May Earth Rise-Holly Taylor

May Earth Rise
Holly Taylor
Medallion, Nov 2009, $15.95
ISBN 9781933836577

Warleader Havgan and his Corianans have captured the Y Dawnus druids and bards (see CRY OF SORROW). His victory has left Kymru High King Arthur ap Uthyr in deep trouble. Without these powerful supporters, he will fail at his quest to unite the kingdom under his realm. He and his followers must liberate them immediately, but have no hope of success as the mission is suicidal; yet without them they are dead anyway.

Havgan and his loyal wyrce-jaga witchfinders are systematically destroying all magic users except for the powerful traitorous Kyrmic witch, Arianrod, Havgan's mistress. The conflict widens with no one allowed to remain on the sidelines as many die; but increasingly the strife seems to be turning in favor of the warlord over the monarch.

The fourth Dreamer's Cycle Arthurian fantasy is a super entry filled with action, anguish, and strong characterizations. The humongous cast on all sides of the conflict makes the exhilarating story line seem real while also providing newcomers the back overarching theme (still worth the time to read the tales first). Readers who have not discovered Holly Taylor is missing out on one of the best fantasists today as her King Arthur saga is great.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Demon Ex Machina-Julie Kenner

Demon Ex Machina
Julie Kenner
Berkley, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425229644

Kate Connor has seemingly more personal issues than usual although she and her second husband Stuart have apparently worked out their differences since he now knows she is a demon hunter. Still she must train her spouse and her enthusiastic teenage daughter Allie how to defeat demons; she knows it was easier on her when her oldest child played soccer only. The supermom also has a two year old toddler who could terrorize almost any demon with his temperament.

There is also the complicated matter of the return of her formerly dead first husband Eric who has come back to life only to be possessed by a demon. If she succeeds in exorcising Eric’s demon yet keeping him alive, Kate ponders what she should do about the two husbands in her life.

Although the story line starts slower than the usual donkey kicking frantic frenzy and only accelerates a little, the latest demon slaying soccer mom thriller is a deeper look at Kate’s quandary. She does not want her daughter to follow in her demon slaying footsteps, but fears not teaching her how to defeat the enemy for she knows Allie will go out on her own. The same holds true for loyal Stuart. Then there is the mess of two husbands as she adores both of them. Filled with angst as she also has the toddler to care for, fans will appreciate Julie Kenner’s profound glimpse at the human side of demon slaying beyond a bad hair or broken cuticle day.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Lion Among Men-Gregory Maguire

A Lion Among Men
Gregory Maguire
Harper, Sep 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9780060859725

The Emperor of Oz enjoys war although he remains comfortable far from the combat inside the Emerald City. Munchkinland rebels and the emperor’s armies are preparing for combat. At the same time Brrr the Cowardly Lion travels around the countryside as a reluctant imperial spy. He agreed to become an espionage agent so he can elude the Animal Adverse Laws that harshly discriminate against talking animals.

Brrr reaches the Mauntery of St. Glinda where Yackle the cantankerous Seeress resides. He is to interrogate the crone before she dies, which can be any nanosecond or several lion lifetimes. Instead of gaining much information for use in the war, Brrr begins to learn about his unknown past, being alone, and afraid.

The third Wicked Years fantasy (see WICKED and SON OF A WITCH) continues the homage to L. Frank Baum through a deep look at the late author’s key characters while also subtly and not so subtly satirizing society. The cast is incredible as Brrr and company work through some complicated issues like responsibly and accountability in a world centrally managed by magic. Filled with whimsy yet deep philosophical questions, A LION AMONG MEN is once again an entertaining thought provoking fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Fade Out-Rachel Caine

Fade Out
Rachel Caine
NAL, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228666

Amelie’s evil brother Bishop temporarily took over Morganville; a town where vampires and humans co-exist, but blood suckers are on top of the food chain. However, recently Bishop was defeated. His vampiric allies have been routed also and Amelie’s cronies have loosened the rules giving more freedom and rights to the humans; and protection to blood donors. Amelie is the Protector of Claire Danvers, who with her boyfriend Steve, her BFF Evie and Eve’s boyfriend Michael the vampire like to keep life in Morganville on an even keel.

However peace is not to be found. Some humans are trying to destroy the vampires; a computer is out of control, and a videographer is taking pictures that could expose the vampires. Ada the computer wants to kill Claire who she believes wants her former lover Myrnin back when she was a vampire before she became the computer’s brain. She wants a war so she can have Myrnin all to herself. Myrnin is more out of control than usual and could become a danger to the vampires even though he is one himself. Claire and her buddies must find and destroy the video devices hidden all over town spying on the people, disable Ada, find out what is wrong with Myrnin and find the person who is giving insider information to the enemy if she and her BFFs are to save Morganville.

The latest Morganville vampire novel FADE OUT is full of drama, pathos, and a touch of romance with characters larger than life especially the teens who have to be in order to survive in a town run by vampires. Claire is the de facto leader who makes decisions for herself and her friends. Although some of the bite is gone with Bishop vanquished, much of his sting is replaced by the danger of the photos exposing the vampires and the computer going crazy. The most fascinating part of Rachel Caine’s latest Morganville book is the millennia old vampire who experiments on the human-vampire species while keeping a distance from them to avoid the dreaded ennui depression. This is a must read for teens and adults.

Harriet Klausner

The Other Lands-David Durham

The Other Lands
David Durham
Doubleday, Sep 15 2009, $28.00
ISBN: 9780385523325

Several years have passed since their father king of the Acacian Empire was assassinated and his kingdom splintered. His children went on diverse paths, but they won THE WAR WITH THE MEIN.

The late monarch’s oldest child his daughter Queen Corinn rules over the Known World with a magically enhanced iron fist. She insures no one knows her mage secrets and uses magic and drugs to prevent uprisings and dissension. She sends her brother Daniel on what is perceived a dangerous perhaps suicidal mission to the unknown Other Lands. Corinn assumes Daniel and her other siblings are expendable pawns who live to keep her on the throne. Daniel is shocked with what he finds in THE OTHER LAND; as the ruling tribes are very powerful and pose a major threat to the stability of the Known World especially his sister’s rule, but Corinn’s overbearing imperative leadership has left her few allies and plenty of internal enemies ready to betray her.

Corinn is a powerful amoral monarch that keeps THE OTHER LANDS from being a typical fantasy as her view of the world is her subjects including her siblings are throwaways who live to enhance her control. Her dictatorial regime leaves her almost alone. Daniel’s trek is more standard fantasy 101 although well written and fun. Fans will enjoy the return to Acacia as the next generation’s oldest sits on the throne.

Harriet Klausner

7th Son: Descent-J.C. Hutchins

7th Son: Descent
J.C. Hutchins
St. Martin's Griffin, Nov 2009, $14.99
ISBN 9780312384371

At Bowling Green College in Kentucky, four years old Jesse Fowler kills President Griffin slicing the POTUS’s throat when he was being kissed on the cheek. The Secret Service grabbed the child and his parents; a week later Jesse was dead and no one understood why.

Government agents grab seven men of interest. Each looks similar enough to be at least siblings if not septuplets. Their memories up until they turned fourteen are identical and their names are offshoots of John Michael Smith. They react to what the Feds tell them in the same way as if they go through the phases of forming a strong cohesive group; this includes their hosts Dr. Kenneth Kleinman and Brigadier General Orlando Hill. The seven know that they are the “offspring” of Alpha, who stole top secret government technology that enables him to download a mind to override the original person’s brain. The seven are his clones, but like their hosts none of them comprehend why their Alpha killed the President with a copy of his mind inside the preschooler or why he plays cryptic games with his seven clones.

This is an entertaining science fiction tale that opens with the toddler assassin and never slows down. Although the enigmatic taunting seems old hat as does the cloning, the key to this fast-paced tale is the seven Smiths all have distinctive personalities and lifestyles even with their same origins; for instance Father Thomas questions whether he has a soul being a clone or father Jack was going to watch ironically D.A.R.Y.L. with his two daughters. Readers will enjoy DESCENT although Alpha acts too typical of a villain, his clones make for a lively science fiction thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Return of the Black Company-Glen Cook

The Return of the Black Company
Glen Cook
Tor, Sep 15 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765324009

“Bleak Seasons”. The Black Company is under siege inside Dejagore with their leader Croaker probably dead. Murgen takes charge at a time when the Shadowlander horde assaults them and treachery from inside the company and from other trapped groups insidiously attack them from within the city. Their situations is perilous and their trust in Murgen as their leader is shaky as he has been their chronicler annalist; an expert on their history but not ever in charge.

“She Is the Darkness”. Croaker, the sorceress Lady, and the Black Company are in trouble as they are diverted from their enemy to battle other evil entities. This leaves them vulnerable to the malevolent Shadowmaster Soulcatcher, Howler and the Stranglers as they set a diabolical trap to eradicate the Black Company and their sorcery practitioner allies.

These are reprints of the first half of the Glittering Stone saga. Each tale is entertaining for fans who have read previous entries (see the omnibus CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY and BOOKS OF THE SOUTH); newcomers will find it a bit difficult to understand what is going on. Still these are enjoyable military fantasy thrillers as the Black Company tries to simply survive against overwhelming odds.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 11, 2009

How Not To Make A Wish-Mindy Klasky

How Not To Make A Wish
Mindy Klasky
Mira, Oct 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780778327370

The competition is fierce and cut throat as Fox Hill stage manager Kira Franklin sorts through the debris of dusty junk seeking an angle to save the dinner theatre. She finds a lamp that she assumes was from some long ago production and starts to clean it to see if there is any sale value.

However to her shock, her polishing releases Teel the genie. He tells her he will grant her wishes, but keep them reasonable as eliminating world hunger is outside his range though extinction would do the trick. Scornfully Kira fails to read the contract with its four wishes but instead sarcastically wishes for the job she covets and is stunned gets it as she now works at the Landmark Stage. However, that proves not to match her fantasy as her boss is an insane egomaniac; her other wishes turn out as poorly as her first one. Then again, the one wish she did not make involves set designer John McRae, but as she falls in love with him she knows he is leaving.

Fans will get what we wish for as Mindy Klasky provides a jocular over the top of the entire Midwest refreshing tale filled with poignancy as chick lit heroine Kira gives a first hand account of her desires, sneezes, and failed wishes; Murphy had nothing go wrong compared to her. Lighthearted, HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH is an amusing contemporary as the audience and Kira wonder how can seemingly innocent wishes go so badly and she wishes she had no more coming.

Harriet Klausner

Hot For The Holidays-Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Anya Bast and Allyson James

Hot For The Holidays
Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Anya Bast and Allyson James
Jove, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515147001

"Vampire's Ball" by Angela Knight. Single mom Kat Danilo learns two stunners. First she can become a majae magic practitioner and second her absentee father is a vampire.

"A Little Night Magic” by Allyson James. Single mom Naomi is taken aback when her former Navajo shaman lover Jamison Kee wants back in her life and that of their daughter.

"Sweet Enchantment" by Anya Bast,
Bella Mac Lyr's offers to marry mage Ronan Quinn in order to save his life, but he says no. Instead he escapes taking Bella with him.

"A Christmas Kiss" by Lora Leigh'. Someone wants Jessica Raines; only her life-mate Breed Hawke Esteban can keep her safe, but she rejects his protection and his need to name her as his out of fear for his life if the killer succeeds.

These are four strong fantasies starring containing deep casts with the holiday bonus of having a Breed and Mageuniverse tale included.

Harriet Klausner

Covet-JR Ward

JR Ward
Signet, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228215

Before he died Jim Heron never thought much of the afterlife as a special unit soldier who could be killed on a dangerous deployment at any moment. However he never expected his demise would be at a construction site. Nor was he prepared for his new assignment as a front line operative in the “war” between angels and demons; which seem to echo his old work for the military. His afterlife job is to save seven souls; each with a different one of the deadly sins sinking the person. The magnificent seven represent mankind so Jim understands the consequence if he fails to win this weird wager as the stake is humanity.

The first soul on the line is avaricious business mogul Vin Di Pietro, whose future fiancée Marie-Terese Boudreau sold her soul to evil to save her son. All Jim has to do is save the soul of Vin while finding an escape clause for Marie-Terese without harming her offspring. A simple scenario for his handler to outline, but Jim knows how easy a plan collapses when dealing with humans only; throw in angels, demons, and who knows what else they hid from him and all he wants to do is ride away on his bike.

Moving from the exhilarating Black Daggerhood urban fantasy saga, JR Ward starts her new series The Fall Angels with a great opening act. Readers obtain enough of a taste of Ward world to understand how complex yet simplified it is. Jim is a fascinating champion who knows vengeance may be the lord’s domain, but he understands that; saving souls is out side his job description. With a strong cast of lost soul humans, angels, and demons fans will enjoy the exciting COVET and look forward to six more deadly sins.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Queene of Light-Jennifer Armintrout

Queene of Light
Jennifer Armintrout
Mira, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326625

Below Upworld where mortals dwell, in the sewers underneath the streets of Darkworld, half breed human-faery Lightworld assassin Ayla runs into the last thing she needs to meet a death angel. However, shockingly instead of collecting her soul, Malachai is poisoned by the human part of her blood. Even more stunning he is no longer is immortal.

Meanwhile in the faery realm Lightworld, Ayla and Garret plan to marry. However, she is unaware that he has ulterior motives as to why he needs to wed her that have nothing to do with loving or even caring about her; he wants Ayla so he can use her as a puppet ruler serving as his front when he takes the throne from his sister Queen Mabb. The arrival of Malachai places Garret's scheme in trouble as his fiancée is attracted to the death angel.

The first Lightworld/Darkworld romantic fantasy is an exciting tale filled with plenty of action, several intriguing spins, and a solid cast, who bring Jennifer Armintrout’s multi realms to life. However, introducing the laws of physics makes the opening scenes moving somewhat slowly even with the lead couple’s first encounter. Still once the base is set, QUEENE OF LIGHT turns into an enjoyable fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

The Fall of Eden-Richard Michaels

The Fall of Eden
Richard Michaels
Berkley, Nov 2009, $ 15.00
ISBN: 9780425229941

Professor Charles and his wife Vanessa Spencer, accompanied by their two children James and Chloe, are flying down to the Caribbean island of St. Bart's. Meeting them there is Charles’ brother Dan and his lover. The brothers are looking for their octogenarian father who is going pirate hunting with his friend Luc Vacher.

At the isle’s airport, Dan informs his sibling that Europe and America were nuked and all communications are shut down. For at least the moment, the people on the island are safe because the radioactive winds are blowing away from St. Bart’s. Dan takes charge stealing guns from Vacher’s boat and turning employees into a private army to protect them and their food and water supply. They make plans to go to inland to find more water and Dan kills any intruders. When Dan can no longer lead, Charles takes charge. As he toughens up, he decides who will live and who will escape from the isle as the winds have turned, threatening the air they breathe just when a hurricane is also coming.

THE FALL OF EDEN takes a close look at what happens when civilization crumbles as survival of the fittest rules in a lawless isolated situation. This is a dark grim thriller as people must make horrific decisions that they would never had had to face when governments thrived. With a philosophical underpinning of what makes a human when the clothing of civilization is torn asunder, fans will enjoy this fine tale mindful of Hitchcock’s Lifeboat but On the Beach rather than at sea. Fans will enjoy this mesmerizing thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 7, 2009

Twilight Zone-Carol Serling

Twilight Zone
Carol Serling
Tor, Sep 1 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765324337

This anthology celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of the Twilight Zone, which in 1959 was refreshing and creative with its deep look at what his human and its trademark closing twist that accentuated the theme of that particular show. A virtual who’s who has contributed to the anthology; this includes a work by the series creator the late Rod Serling. The nineteen contributions are well written and fun to read as they catch the essence of the original series. However ironically (something I believe Mr. Serling would have enjoyed as twisted irony was a trademark of his) the final spin somewhat limits the creativity and in some cases feels forced to achieve. Still this is a fine collection with superior entries like Alan Brennert's WWI Honolulu drama “Puowaina”, the “Benchawarmer” by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn who has waited his turn patiently for almost twenty years, Deborah Chester’s “The Street That Time Forgot” as Nick barley misses running over the dog that kept him from barley missing the odd street and the answer man Karl the killing star of “Ants” by Tad Williams. As a fitting final tale is “El Moe” by Rod Serling. Obviously for die hard Zoners, this is a fine anthology in spite of the limitations caused by the required final spin.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Legacy-Cayla Kluver

Cayla Kluver
Amazon Encore, Aug 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 978-1595910554

King Adrik of Hytanica informs his daughter Alera, who just turned seventeen; she will marry one of her suitors before her next birthday. Alera is concerned with her choices as only one meets the rules of the kingdom for marrying a princess. She wants no part of arrogant womanizer Steldor. Only the twenty years old rake’s father, Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan, believes in the potential of his son. Steldor likes his hedonistic world but has problems with understanding Alera who rejects his charm.

Meanwhile the century old war between Hytanica and the Kingdom of Cokyri has become heated again after a sixteen-year dormant period though neither side of the dispute quite remembers the details behind the legendary LEGACY. The two kingdoms disagree on the value of women in society with the Cokyrians placing females in positions of leadership and power while in Hytanica they are second class citizens. Atrocities by the Cokyri have arisen as they did sixteen years ago with the kidnapping and murders of infant sons of Hytanica nobles. However, Narian survived the ordeal, learned what his heritage is and Cokyrian tactics before he came home to Hytanica as either its war leader or its Quisling destroyer especially since he and the about to be married Alera are attracted to one another.

LEGACY is a deep historical romance that in some ways will remind the audience of the late period of the Hundred Years War. The story line is driven by the cast especially those in Hytanica where the monarch is tired and believes new blood is needed, but distrusts his daughter to achieve this; ironically if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the heir and not just the wife and mother of the heirs. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong tale as the deep characterizations make for a super thriller filled with plenty of military and not so noblesse action.

Harriet Klausner

Transition-Iain M. Banks

Iain M. Banks
Orbit, Sep 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316071987

The Concern oversees the behavior of leaders on what appears to be an infinite number of parallel worlds. When they feel a person may cause worldwide harm, they send their Transitionary agents to assassinate that individual. The Transitionaries alight from one world to another by using a drug septus that enable their movement.

One of the more adept Transitionary assassins is Temudjin Oh, who has recently began to doubt the missions as he questions the morality of intrusion and murder even as he understands he is an “Unreliable Narrator” telling an obvious false tale based on his wrong premise. While his ethical concerns grow with each hit, others have problems too but different from his hesitation to kill. Mrs. Mulverhill for instance opposes the Concern and has started a small rebellion while Patient 8262 fakes mental illnesses to gain hospitalizations in order to avoid Transitionary assignments. Mulverhill considers Patient 8262, but actively tries to recruit Oh.

TRANSITION is a terrific cerebral science fiction thriller that demands people scrutinize and probe what is going on in their world instead of just acquiescing and accepting. With obvious implication and condemnation of the Iraq government change Iain M. Bank makes a case that instead of inane shallow bumper sticker analysis people need to dig into the essence and the background like Oh who no longer trusts or believes in the “benevolent” Concern as the members have their own agendas. With surprisingly plenty of action considering the intelligent design of the novel, fans will join Oh in Tibet, Venice, London and elsewhere as he struggles with the universal question of to kill or not to kill and be killed.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 4, 2009

Never Slow Dance With A Zombie-E. Van Lowe

Never Slow Dance With A Zombie
E. Van Lowe
Tor, Aug 2009, $8.99
ISBN: 9780765320407

In high school, Margot remains a failure when it comes to popularity especially her fantasy of having Dirk ask her to the carnival. Her BFF Sybil says she has it under control as she will ask Dirk out for Margot. Sybil hides her attraction to Dirk from Margot. Meanwhile making matters worse for Margot is her most hated enemy Amanda Culpepper is dating Dirk. Whereas Margot does not go to the carnival, Sybil does but leaves early as she had no one with her.

The next day the pair expects to hear how everyone had a good time and by implication they are losers. Instead they find their classmates have become zombies, but remained with their pre zombie subculture. Instead of fleeing screaming Margot and Sybil mount a coup d’etat taking over as the new kids on the block in charge. They instigate the anti zombie laws while converted Dirk remains a stud muffin albeit a bit slower than before the carnival.

With a nod to chick lit lits and principal rules, NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE is an amusing tale as Margot the magnificent and her bud work the high school. The story line uses student stunts to provide some sense of realism, but this young teen urban fantasy focuses on how to lead the in crowd when your school is overrun (bad term as zombies don’t run) by zombies and your hunk gives off hunks of epidermal parts.

Harriet Klausner

Keeper of the Grail-Michael Spradlin

Keeper of the Grail
Michael Spradlin
Penguin, Sep 17 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780142414613

Cistercian monks have raised the orphan Tristan with love, but in 1191 at almost fifteen years old, he is given the choice of accompanying Knight Templar Sir Thomas as he joins the Third Crusade. Tristan agrees to go with the knight to Outreamer in God’s name. Once in the Holy Land, Richard the Lionhearted and Templar Knight Sir Hugh act hostile towards the teen.

In the Holy Land, Tristan participates in the Battle of Acre. However, even at rest he finds Saracens seem to single him out for assassination though Tristan has no idea why they and bandits seek out a nonentity like him. He is fortunate that Robard Hode of Sherwood saves his life from a Saracen assassin Maryam the Maid even as he becomes the bearer of the holiest of relics, which makes him even more of a target from all sides of the dispute.

The first Youngest Templar middle school medieval thriller with hints of fantasy especially the climax is an exciting action-packed tale starring an intriguing young teen protagonist who does not receive a hero’s welcome in the Holy Land from either side of the conflict. The story line is fast-paced while also having obvious ties to the modern day Middle East scenario as well as to Robin Hood and the title artifact. Tweeners will root for Tristan (no commentary as to his name) as he struggles with survival while protecting the relic with his life but also wondering why his alleged allies as much as his adversaries want him dead.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deep Kiss of Winter-Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter

Deep Kiss of Winter
Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter
Pocket, Oct 209, $21.99
ISBN: 9781439159668

“Untouchable” by Kresley Cole. In New Orleans, vampire Murdoch Wroth helps his brother Nikolai who is weak as he underestimated the strength of his Valkyrie Bride. He warns his sibling not to repeat his error which after five years will be corrected tonight. Murdoch vows to make Daniela the Ice Maiden Valkyrie his Bride as she has brought his silent heart back to life after three centuries of being dormant. However, although Dani wants Murdoch too, her ice fey frozen skin does not allow anyone but her clan to touch her; which means he will be just like his sibling dying from the lack of blood from his beloved Bride.

“Tempt Me Eternally” by Gena Showalter. Aleaha Love has the uncanny skill of turning physically into any essence she touches. The ultimate shapeshifter, she has recently become an alien investigator and removal agent better known as an AIR head as only an idiot would fight the monsters she and her teammates do on the streets of New Chicago’s “Whore’s Corner. Her mission is to capture otherworldly warriors invading the city. Instead their gold skin Commander Breean captures Aleaha. Not afraid of being a POW or dead, Aleaha fears her attraction to Breean because ironically though he seems to reciprocate, she wants him attracted to the real Ms. Love; if she remember who and what that is.

These are two enjoyable exhilarating romantic urban fantasies with terrific twists that add tension to the two thriller story lines. Fans will enjoy walking on the wild side with Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter as their guides.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Moon Rise-Marilee Brothers

Moon Rise
Marilee Brothers
Bell Bridge, Aug 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780982175699

In Peacock Flats, Washington at John J. Peacock HS, student Alfrieda "Allie" Emerson recently lost her telekinetic skills which include reading minds. Her loss of power has angered her at a time her boyfriend Junior went home to Mexico as she feels she lost something precious. The pressure from her dad who just recently came into her life and his group the Star Seekers add to her ire and helplessness; they insist she is the key to the prophecy by keeping the moonstone necklace safe from the Trimarks. Faye AKA Mom is no help as she finds one pathetic loser after another to go out with.

At school are two new students, twins Beck and Nicole Bradford. Allie is attracted to the hunk, but also has other worries like the school counselor who wants her removed from her mom. Meanwhile the siblings hide a secret from Allie and others at the school as they are not what they seem. However, they are the key to keeping Allie safe with her retaining the necklace as the Trimarks are using all sorts of tricks to get at her.

The second Unbidden Magic urban teen fantasy (see MOONSTONE) is a terific exciting tale with Junior in Mexico and Allie’s new BF being a half demon. This leads Allie to protect the necklace but also elude her dad and his group of goody types, her mom and her loser dates, the counselor fro hell, as well as the bad dudes, which make male high school hormonal butt pinching seem irrelevantly inane. MOON RISE contains a fabulous fast-paced story line, but is owned by the heroine whose perspective on her out of control life simply fun to follow as danger lurks around every corner of the school, home, and town.

Harriet Klausner

Bite Marks: A Vampire Testament-Terence Taylor

Bite Marks: A Vampire Testament
Terence Taylor
St. Martin’s, Oct 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312385255

In 1986 in wintry New York City, Adam Caine the vampire murders his seventeen years old human lover Nina and the John she solicited on Times Square. The raging vampire then brings his teen hooker back from the dead as an undead like him. Adam forces Nina to drink the blood of her five month old child before he rapes and kills her again. However, before Nina dies permanently, she resurrects her baby, Christopher.

Christopher escapes from Adam, but is captured by drug addicts, who threaten to expose the vampires to the public. Believing their species needs to remain in the closet, influential vampire Perenelle de Marivelle and her former lover the ancient vampire Rahman search for Christopher and Adam. Meanwhile Nina's brother Jim Miller seeks his nephew in Hell’s Kitchen.

The Vampire testament starts off with a gritty gruesome look at Manhattan through the eyes of a rabid raging undead but also never quite reaches that frantic frenzied opening scene. The story line is action-packed when the plot remains in 1986 and quite bloody as a vampire thriller should be. Although flashbacks feel more like padded distracterions, fans will enjoy Terrence Taylor’s bite of the red Big Apple.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jabril-D.B. Reynolds

D.B. Reynolds
ImaJinn, Aug 15 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9781933417516

Jabril Karim used his political clout to gain guardianship pf Elizabeth and Mirabelle. When she turned the legal age of consent eighteen, Jabril converted her into a vampire like he is. He took over their home and the teen’s fortune. The Vampire Lord is outsmarted by Elizabeth who planned and executed her escape perfectly. Jabril hires a male private investigator to find her, but also employs P.I. Cynthia Leighton who once had a relationship with Vampire Lord Raphael until he walked away from her.

Jabril wants to irritate his rival Raphael so he pretends Cyn is his only sleuth working for him. His scheme backfires when she finds in Houston what condition Mirabelle is in. Cyn rescues her and takes her to her home in Los Angeles where she comes into Raphael’s orbit because she must beg her former lover to make the teen his own. Cyn looks for Liz among the runaways, but is unaware that a snake creeps in Raphael’s realm ready to sell the women to foster favor with an outraged fuming Jabril.

Jabril is a monster out of the Stoker school of vampires as power is his elixir and anyone else is expendable regardless of the laws governing the North American vampires. Raphael is his opposite coming out of the modern day romance school of vampires as he cares what happens to others and abides by the governing laws. The fabulous story line focuses on the vast diversity of ethics between the eight Vampire Lords with the concentration being on the two polar opposites. Cyn is sinfully perfect as the rope in the vampiric tug of war. Wit this sequel to RAPHAEL, D.B. Reynolds provides a wonderful and exciting Vampires in America urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of vampire romantic thrillers.

Harriet Klausner