Sunday, February 28, 2010

Allon-Shawn Lamb

Shawn Lamb
Creation House, Jan 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9781599798912

When the Guardians fell so did Allon. In the wake of the collapse fostered by Dagar the malevolent spirit, he fills the power vacuum by placing his mortal as evil as he is, King Marcellus to run the nation. They walk the Dark Way eliminating opposition and cruelly abusing the people. Evil has proven much stronger than good.

However, an ancient prophecy proclaims a return to the days of paradise that were before Dagar did his most foul deeds. The Guardians must come back though that seems improbable as Daga would never allow this to occur without massive destruction on a scale only an immortal malevolence can do, and a just blood descendent of the former rulers must prove worthy which seems also unlikely as King Marcellus will kill any contender.

In the Southern Forest near Garwood hides sixteen year old Prince Ellis, who must prove kingly worthiness by defeating powerful Dark Way paranormal foes before he takes on the current ruler and his evil spirit. However, impatient Ellis knows his people cannot wait for his maturity when soldiers attack the Jor’ellian Fortress where he hid. Fleeing rather than fighting he knows his mentor Master Ebenezer will die for him and their people. The Lord of the Southern Forest, Sir Angus of Garwood escorts Ellis away as the time is not right for the fight so the frustrated lad is forced into flight.

With a strong nod towards Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance fantasy saga, Allon is a superb coming of age quest fantasy. Ellis is a terrific teenager who eagerly wants to fight while his handlers demand flight. The support cast is solid especially the heroes die to defend the prince and the evil duet. Targeting young adults, anyone who enjoys Eragon (book or movie) will want to journey to the fallen land of Allon where hope was flickering out until now.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Succubus Shadows-Richelle Mead

Succubus Shadows
Richelle Mead
Kensington, Apr 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780758232007

Succubus Georgina Kincaid knows the unknown is stalking her as the beast can enter her mind, influence her thoughts, and get her to do almost anything. She barely prevents the mental invader from persuading her to commit suicide. Georgina realizes how difficult it is to defeat a foe of which you have no earthly or hellish idea of what it is.

Since her employer archdemon Jerome and her angel friend Carter cannot detect any malevolence around her or inside her, each fears for Georgina’s sanity. Making matters worse is her BFF Maddie asks her to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to Seth; the man Georgina loves while Simone the sexy succubus spins Seth’s soul.

Succubus Shadows is a refreshing lighthearted humorous frolic with a profound depth to the exhilarating urban fantasy story line. Georgina is troubled on two extreme fronts: the jocularity subplot focuses on who will end up with Seth while the seriousness theme concentrates on the assault on her mind from an unknown entity that is driving her mad and having her consider suicide. Readers will fully appreciate this fine entry as Richelle Mead makes a case that there is a lot of landscape between the polar extremes of heavenly goodness and hellish malevolence.

Harriet Klausner

Black Jack Derringer-Karen Koehler

Black Jack Derringer
Karen Koehler
Skullvines Press; 2009, $16.95

At the bar in the misnamed New Hope bounty hunter “Wild” Alice West notices the albino card player, Mr. Treen no last name and believes he is her dream ticket. Wild Alice thinks he can be her front as women are not allowed to do man’s work in Skillet. She also knows that Mr. Treen no last name will be the wealthiest dead man in town tonight as winning at cards without a gun is perilous.

However, she reconsiders her first musings and decides the muto-man is actually a derringer man. So when he proves her right by pointing his gun at the groin of someone accusing him of cheating, she is elated. He is perfect for her. She tries to hire him, but he tells her she is the perfect bounty hunter without need of a pig of a partner. Two misfits team up trying to earn a living by bringing in bounty.

The first Ace Of Spades novella is a superb western fantasy in which Karen Koehler quickly establishes her world and key players in a fast-paced, but very short tale. Wild Alice and Mr. Treen is a wonderful pairing as each has secrets and issues. Support players like those at the bar and muto man Goliath enhance the landscape and the lead couple. Fans will enjoy this superb quick read and look forward to the second ace, but first must decide whether the 102 page post-apocalyptic thriller is worth the cost.

Harriet Klausner

Oath Of Fealty-Elizabeth Moon

Oath Of Fealty
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey, Mar 16 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345508744

Due to the efforts of the farmer’s daughter Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, who as the paladin saved the kingdom, half-breed elf Kieri Phelan sits precariously on the throne. He must protect his nation from enemies beyond their borders and worse from insidious traitors inside. King Kieri also understands he must earn the trust of his people who have doubts he has the strength and fortitude to rule. Although he never sought the crown, the former military captain vows to do what is right by his people.

In neighboring Tsaia where Kieri has many enemies, Prince Mikeli is to be anointed monarch. However, the powerful Verrakaien mage lord families attempt a coup. Mikeli counters while Dorrin Verrakai who did not participate must prove her innocence as a non blood using mage if the prince is to become king. Meanwhile the Gird has directed the paladin to perform other tasks. Thus two new kings must find new allies if they are to succeed at governance that helps their respective nations.

This is a terrific spin off from the wonderful The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy (see Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold) in which fans will relish the new entry and newcomers do not need to go back to read the previous saga first; as Elizabeth Moon deftly interweaves the past into the storyline. The story of two kings and kingdoms is Ms. Moon at her best as political, military and economic intrigue threatens two rookie monarchs with the most dangerous enemies of each at court.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wolf Trap-Linda Thomas–Sundstrom

Wolf Trap
Linda Thomas–Sundstrom
Silhouette Nocturne, Mar 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618309

In the Miami area, during a full moon, Dr. Parker Madison is in his Otherworld form when he finds brutally assaulted Chloe Tyler. He gives her first aid and rushes her to Fariview Hospital. However, when she acts strange, he recognizes the signs as he is undergoing the same transformation; he quietly takes her from the hospital to a specialized psychiatric facility.

Chloe is changing into a werewolf, but the staff of “monster” ward especially Dr. Jenna James is used to dealing with werewolves as is police detective Matt Wilson as both howl during the full moon. Chloe and Parker are attracted to one another as is Matt and Jenna, but all four knows first hunting down a rogue killing werewolf comes before love. However, neither couple realizes they are the prey of this paranormal psychopath.

The latest Werewolf police procedural romance (see Red Wolf) is a faster than moonlight thriller. The superb cast makes for a fun full moon over Miami hunt for a predator who stalks the fearsome foursome. Although Chloe converts too easily into a werewolf, readers will enjoy this dynamic paranormal romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Mistress Of The Underground-Lisa Childs

Mistress Of The Underground
Lisa Childs
Silhouette Nocturne, Mar 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618316

In Xantrax, Michigan, former attorney Paige Culver buys Club Underground. However, something has somehow gotten inside her head telling her she does not belong here. A patron warns her to leave or else become the special.

Paige’s former husband, Dr. Ben Davison is furious fueled by fear to learn his beloved ex wife owns and operates Club Underground. He knows first hand her new bar is the in-place where his patients go for some blood letting fun as only vampires can. Ben will do anything to keep his love safe including hiding the essence of who their patrons are even though concealing the truth from her cost him his marriage.

The fully developed characters especially the lead couple and their shared customers make for a strong second chance at love romantic fantasy that sets the table simply with the opening line that Xantrax has replaced Detroit as Michigan’s biggest metropolis. Fast-paced and filled with action, Paige demands the truth while Ben hides the truth. Lisa Childs provides a strong story of love is not enough to forge a relationship because distrust is much more powerful.

Harriet Klausner

WWW: WATCH-Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer
Ace, Apr 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441018185

Mathematical prodigy Caitlin Decter was born blind. When she was fifteen years old she underwent an experimental treatment of an implant inside her brain enabling her to see the world for the first time. However an unexpected consequence of the procedure is her uncanny ability to also see World Wide Web space. Thus a new sentient entity is born inside her head, of whom Caitlin calls Webmind (see WWW.WAKE).

As Webmind relishes learning all about Caitlin's physical world, top secret government watchdog agency Watch learns about Webmind as part of their scrutiny of Internet terrorist threats. They want Webmind removed from the Net because they fear it is a security risk. Whereas Caitlin feels protective of Webmind, her parents fear the intelligent being could lead to an unintended harming of their daughter from a public already concerned that Big Brother is watching.

This is a great middle book due to the power characterizations especially Webmind who provides first entity perspective. Caitlin is a superb teenager trying to keep her friend safe while her parents have always been protective of her. In fact protectiveness of others is the overarching theme as even the Watch contains individuals trying to keep the public safe. Readers will fully appreciate Robert J. Sawyer’s brilliant WWW tale, but should read Wake first to better understand how far Webmind has come and potentially could go; that explains the fears of the Watch group.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gardens of the Sun-Paul McCauley

Gardens of the Sun
Paul McCauley
PYR, Mar 23 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616141967

The Three Powers Alliance of Greater Brazil, the European Union, and the Pacific Community won the Quiet War. To the victors go the spoils, but first the winners must deal with the conquered Outers and their cities on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn before plundering the scientific and technological advancements of the defeated leading to prison camps and forced cooperation. A century of enlightened pragmatic rationalism in the Milky Way has returned to the Dark Ages of repression.

Some Outers escape the deadly incarceration of the “Final Solution” fleeing to the Uranus moon of Miranda, but chased further away from the sun by the Greater Brazil armada to Neptune’s moon Triton. An enigmatic leader directed allegedly by a future version of himself and followed by Outer “Ghost” cultists takes Outers further out in the solar system to Nephele. There the surviving Free Outers change colonization techniques from permanent to portable as they construct detachable "Gardens of the Sun" habitats. Meanwhile other Outers push diverse surviving techniques starting with the natural habitat genetic genius Avernus with her “gardens” and the human pragmatic cutting by Sri Hong-Owen. Thus beyond the inner planets where the sun is weak, humans still seek the light of knowledge while on earth people demand freedom having learned of the heroism of the Outers even in defeat. .

This is a fascinating science fiction sequel to the Quiet War, which makes two strong assertions. First even in the deadliest of dictatorships, there are tiny lights of enlightenment trying to find a means to get free, and second that war makes the victors pay exorbitant costs and consequences. The story line is action-packed as the Free Outers flee further away from the sun using diverse paths to freedom while the totalitarian axis of evil sends troops in pursuit to eradicate the survivors in spite of problems back home caused by the war. Paul McCauley provides a thought provoking yet exciting fast-paced futuristic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Directive 51-John Barnes

Directive 51
John Barnes
Ace, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441018222

In 2007, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 was signed to allow the executive branch to claim extraordinary power during a catastrophe. A couple of decades after the announcement of NSPD 51, the Office of Future Threat Assessment Assistant Secretary Heather O'Grainne leads an inquiry into a potential homegrown terrorist cell, Daybreak. The vision of this diverse group is the destruction of the Big System that each member believes destroyed the American way of life.

Rumors about the group has O’Grainne panicking as apparently Daybreak possesses the nanotechnology to destroy two centuries of technology. Around the globe catastrophes occur leaving billions dead and American going backward in technology. With the government failing faster than society is, NSPD 51 is implemented, but perhaps too late as the two spirals of death and technological collapse continues unabated.

Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller that looks deep into what would happen if modern day technology somewhat predicted where we would be in twenty years or so suddenly stopped working and reverted back to the early nineteenth century. The frantic effort to prevent the collapse of the world seems too little and too late as the Feds work at a snail’s pace while the Daybreak antiterrorists move out faster than the speed of light. Although the story line adopts too easily Stalin’s alleged commentary that “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic”, fans will enjoy this cautionary tale that proclaims that sometimes you get what you wish for.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rebels And Lovers-Linnea Sinclair

Rebels And Lovers
Linnea Sinclair
Bantam, Mar 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592191

Two years have passed since information technology guru Devin Guthrie last saw his beloved Captain Makaiden “Kaidee” Griggs, a widow. Although her being his family yacht pilot makes her unacceptable as his wife because Devin would have to defy J.M. his powerful father and CEO of Guthrie Global Systems. Devin also knows he still loves her.

He is unhappy when his martinet father orders him to marry into another prominent family as damage control. Devin’s older brother former admiral Philip defected to the Alliance (see Hope’s Folly) and is openly rebelling against J.M. and the Empire. However, when Devin's nineteen years old nephew Trip vanishes, Devin investigates hoping to find the teen before he is hurt. Devin learns the lad’s bodyguard was murdered and Trip barely escaped. He follows his fleeing relative to Dock Station Five where he encounters Kaidee and a perilous scenario in which apparently Empire and Alliance forces seek his nephew and him dead or alive.

Rebels and Lovers is a superb action-packed romantic suspense science fiction thriller. The taut story line never slows down from the moment Devin tastes a bit of freedom and adventure in his desperate pursuit to bring his nephew home safe. Readers will appreciate Linnea Sinclair's strong entry as the dangerous suspense thriller starring a strong lead couple makes for an astounding tale.

Harriet Klausner

Born To Be Wild-Christine Warren

Born To Be Wild
Christine Warren
St. Martin’s, Mar 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312357191

Veterinarian Dr. Josie Barrett knows there is a lot more under the sun, well the moon, in Stone Creek, Oregon. So being aware of the healing prowess of the dominant sentient Others, she is stunned when Sheriff Eli Pace carries into her clinic with a wounded female werewolf. Something is obvious not right in Stone Creek as the lupine fails to self heal as the shifters remarkably do rather swiftly or change into her human form.

Other werewolves are also assaulted. Desperate Eli the lion shapeshifter asks the town vet to help him investigate what seems like a dangerous virus to shapeshifters, which puts the sheriff at risk. She agrees. As the human and the half lion fall in love, each knows uncovering the apparent biological weapon and who is behind it remain front and center.

The key to this strong urban fantasy romantic suspense is that the growing love between the lead couple enhances their desperate search for answers. Thus the exciting investigation into biological warfare is the prime story line with the romance a wonderful subplot. Christine Warren provides another winning Other paranormal thriller (see Big Bad Wolf and You’re So Vein).

Harriet Klausner

The Midnight Mayor-Kate Griffin

The Midnight Mayor
Kate Griffin
Orbit, Mar 8 2010, $19.99
ISBN: 9780316041232

Matthew Swift was a sorcerer who would have been better off dead, which he believes he once was; as he muses that the Terminator and the Knights Templar would have quit if they had to deal with the ‘electric blue angels’ buzzing inanely inside his brain. Unless you are a voyeur, who wants to listen in on some puke talking sex over a telephone? Alas, the once proud sorcerer is back with his head aching from telephone lines, and electronic gizmos.

However, having the buzz inside his head pales when he learns someone or perhaps something assassinated the powerful protector of London, The Midnight Mayor. The Aldermen, aware that someone of power committed the atrocity, accuse Swift. His first thought is flight, but he decides to investigate instead. He quickly realizes the invincible eternal magical wards that keep the city safe are being breached. London Wall has cryptic graffiti on it and the Tower ravens are dead. Each step he takes he uncovers a greater nightmare as Swift considers flight again as his conclusion is not very comforting.

The Midnight Mayor is a strange refreshing urban fantasy starring a reluctant hero whose inquiry into what is going on and by who or perhaps better said as what makes for a fine thriller. The whodunit is cleverly devised as Swift finds wards failing while dodging a female human assassin who loathes sorcerers and their ilk. Complicated and not an easy read, Kate Griffin provides sub-genre fans with a deep tale of magic failing with ironically the only individual who might save the city is a target for death by those he is trying to protect.

Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash-Aaron Allston

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
Aaron Allston
Del Rey, Mar 9 2010, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345509086

It is widely believed that the Sith were eradicated, but there remains a Lost Tribe on the Planet Kush. They use the dark side of the Force and eventually plan to spread out to rule the galaxy. Grandmaster Luke Skywalker and his son Ben, meet Sith Master Lada Rhea who they killed and her apprentice Vestara Khai who is on intent on killing them in the mysterious Maw where a force wielding creature resides.

This sentient being is sending out messages to Jedi who when children hid in the maw and now are going insane. Han Solo and his wife Leia are criminals after taking insane Jedi from Coruscant to a safe haven in the Transitory Mists. Their activity is an affront to Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala who is furious and whose goal is to make the Jedi become subservient to her. Luke and Ben track Vestara, the Sith apprentice without a master, to Dathomir where they become embroiled in a clan war in which dark side Force practitioners abet Vestara.

The fourth Fate of the Jedi science fiction thriller is loaded with action and plenty of intrigue which fans of the saga will expect. The story line is refreshed by a deep look at a new world and its culture. However, it is Vestara who makes the thriller work as she is a unique Sith unlike any seen before; incredibly she steals the show from the Skywalkers and Solos. By nature she is evil, but by nurture she shows signs of the light. Readers will relish this strong entry as Vestara brings new meaning to the dark and light sides of the Force.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Dark-Eyes' War-David B. Coe

The Dark-Eyes' War
David B. Coe
Tor, Feb 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765316400

The Southlands are filled with weary people tired of the constant war. Yet everyone anticipates another bloody battle as the dead crone’s curse continues to take its toll; ironically this includes the hag who originally issued it. Now opposing mages with conventional forces gather and converge on the plains for what should prove the final battle.

The Eandi army abetted by a cursed Mettai unit prepares for battle with the mages and depleted soldiers of Fal'Borna. At a time when the magical plague is spreading and giving hope to the Eandi, they lose their magical prowess as their spells fail. Although outnumbered, the Fal'Borna forces have maed the plains the final battle.

The third Blood of the Southlands fantasy (see The Sorcerers' Plague and The Horsemen's Gambit) is a great finish to a strong trilogy. The final battle is terrific; one of the best in years with a reasonable but surprising ending. The lead up is as good. Fantasy readers will relish David B. Coe’s great saga as The Dark-Eyes’ War affirms he is one of the best at world-destruction.

Harriet Klausner

The Iron King-Julie Kagawa

The Iron King
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin, Feb 1 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210084

As Meghan Chase nears her sixteenth birthday, she finds her world turning weird. That is saying a lot for someone who always felt like an outsider ever since her dad vanished without a trace ten years ago.

When she comes home from school after a disastrous tutoring session, she finds her four year old half-brother Ethan growling like a trapped wild beast and their mother unconscious on the floor. Her best friend Robbie explains that the fey took the real Ethan and replaced the lad with a changeling. To save Ethan, Meghan, who kind of knew her background, must embrace the fact she is the half fey daughter of a king caught in a civil war.

Targeting young teens, The Iron King is an entertaining fairy tale centered on Meghan. She is a likable teenager who seems genuine with her doubts and acceptance of taking direction from adults especially in her case males. Readers will enjoy the saga but will want congenial Meghan to turn more aggressive and kick butt as she lacks any assertiveness although that makes her and her escapades feel real as she is only fifteen.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In the Darkest Night-Patti O'Shea

In the Darkest Night
Patti O'Shea
Tor, Mar 30 2010, $6.99
ISBN 9780765361707

In Seattle, novice mage Farran hides from her family the Taireil and more so from the Gineal who want them dead. However, she knows she is fortunate to remain alive after Seth the demon attacked her. Farran needs help so she asks exiled Gineal Kel Andrews to keep her safe.

Kel has issues having barely survived being a tortured hostage. He sees Farran like a sister struggling against a world of maliciousness as he suffers nightmares from his captivity. As they fall in love, danger mounts from paranormal and human enemies, and almost as perilous their personal fears.

The latest Light Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see In the Midnight Shadows and Edge of Dawn) is a terrific action-packed thriller that opens with a powerful setting the background scene with references to Crest gel for instance to counter balance Seth. The story line is fast-paced throughout, but accelerates when the heroine faints at the doorstep of the hero. The sub-genre audience will be enthralled with Patti O’Shea's latest Light Warrior battling In the Darkest Night.

Harriet Klausner

Black Blade Blues-J.A. Pitts

Black Blade Blues
J.A. Pitts
Tor, Apr 27 2010, $25.99
ISBN 9780765324672

In the Seattle, Washington area Sarah Beauhall works as a blacksmith and budget movies props guru. In between, instead of sleeping with her girlfriend Katie who frightens her with words of love, she is a medieval warrior reenactor. During a filming of Elvis versus the Goblins, her favorite unique sword is broken. To avoid costly delay, she agrees to repair the blade; a dwarf working as a goblin extra on the set offers to assist her.

The sword turns out to be the legendary Gram, which Nordic legend says Sigurd used to slay the dragon Fafnir; at least that is what her new “assistant” claims. However, evidence is on the way as a evil shape-shifting dragon and the Corpse Gnawer are coming to take Gram from Sarah, anyway they can.

This is a humorous entertaining Norse fantasy in twnety-first century Washington State. The fast-paced story line is action-packed as mythology and modernism converge on the heroine who holds the tale together as she struggles with shapeshifting dragons and other evil essences as well as with her relationship with Katie. Although too much circumstances occurs, readers will enjoy Black Blade Blues starting with the gender debate of the black sword Gram.

Harriet Klausner

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures-Robert E. Howard

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures
Robert E. Howard
Del Rey, Feb 2010, $$18.00
ISBN: 9780345505433

These thirteen tales consist of eight starring Francis “El Borak” Xavier Gordon, three headed by Kirby O’Donnell, one very short story led by Steve Clarney and one untitled other El Borak. The tales take place in Asia with the Irish-American heroes battling against the odds at a time when imperialistic Europe tries to retain control of India and Afghanistan, etc. Although the “Wild East entries are fun to read especially those of Texas gunslinger El Borak who risks his life repeatedly for his Asian friends, much of the background seems ancient; in fairness Depression Era rationalization of the world comes clear. Still Fans of Howard will appreciate the heroic escapades of the three expatriate Americans in a vividly described harsh desert and mountainous landscape; but especially the actions of El Borak who comes across as the most realistic and believable than the other two adventurers.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Empire in Black and Gold-Adrian Tchaikovsky

Empire in Black and Gold
Adrian Tchaikovsky
PYR, Mar 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616141929

Since the revolt decades ago that overthrew the ruling Moths, the city-states of the Lowlands have lived in prosperous peace with one another. The Beetles are probably the most powerful, but they prefer trade as merchants and development as engineers over war. The Spiders are the most aristocratic with their lofty attitudes while the Ant cities prefer internal squabbling with one another as to who has the most royal queen. The Flies live a nomadic lifestyle flying all over the Lowlands. Finally the deposed Moths and their foot soldiers Mantids live in the nearby mountains with hopes of returning to power.

On the northeastern side of the Great Barrier Ridge is the invincible Wasp Empire. They believe peace can only be achieved through conquest. The Lowlanders ignore the threat as the Beetles are becoming wealthy selling weapons to the Wasps who are at war with the Dragonfly Commonwealth; the ants are too busy with internal fighting; the Moths are angry over losing power; and the Spiders and Flies disregard anything outside their respective lifestyles.

Beetle Stenwold Maker fought and lost against the Wasp military defending Myna almost twenty years ago. Few are interested in his warning, as he is considered a crazy victim of battle fatigue. However, he has operatives inside of the cities ready to counter the Wasp agents’ subversive activity. His key followers are his Spider foster daughter Tynisa, his Beetle niece Che, the combat hardened Dragonfly royal Salma and Totho the apprentice engineering Beetle. They fly to Helleron on a key mission but may be too late with betrayal and Wasps awaiting their arrival.

With a not so subtle message that racism divisiveness leads to everyone losing and is normally not the answer but sometimes is; Adrian Tchaikovsky provides a powerful fantasy that uses various insect species to create his world. The story line is action-packed once the customs of each genus is introduced. Readers will be hooked early on with this terrific opening act as the insects are personified but within their species prime traits.

Harriet Klausner

Changeless-Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger
Orbit, Apr 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316074148

In an alternate world during the Victorian Era, the supernatural species like the vampires and weres are part of society with the same rights as mortals. Queen Victoria employs vampires as advisors and the weres as soldiers fighting to expand the empire. The weres are being recalled from India with plans to deploy them to Africa.

In London near the Thames, the supernaturals are becoming mortals and no preternatural like the Soulless Lady Alexia Tarabotti is responsible for it. A preternatural can turn a supernatural into a mortal for the length of the touch but were Lord Conall married Alexia anyway. The curse heads to another part of London and then ro Scotland where Conall is heading. Using a dirigible, Alexeia, her sister, her milliner and others flies to Scotland.. He has business with his old pack but Alexei who works for the Queen is trying to learn why the humanization plague is occurring. Her life is in danger, but she has no idea from whom.

Gail Carriger has written an enthralling alternate historical urban fantasy. The romantic subplot between Conall and Alexia enhances the feel of the period while the action is fast-paced throughout. Alexia is a fascinating protagonist who risks her life knowing that being Soulless means when she dies she is dead period with no next plane to move onto. Somewhat too modern in outlook rather than Victorian, the audience will enjoy her second adventures in paranormal Victorian England.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Touched by an Alien-Gini Koch

Touched by an Alien
Gini Koch
Daw, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9780756406004

In Arizona, marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt completes jury duty. Crossing the street after leaving the courtroom, she sees a minor fender bender, but the male driver gets into a rage shouting at the woman in the other vehicle. The man sprouts wings and starts slicing up the woman with his sharp feathers. Kitty takes out her expensive Mont Blanc pen and stabs the out of control male in his jelly like back. He dies and Alpha Centauri based secret agent Jeff Martini asks her how she knew what to do; Kitty says it just felt right. As the cops arrive at the scene, Jeff takes Kitty with him.

Kitty learns superbeings exist but unlike comic book superheroes they are not. Instead ET parasites.have mutated ordinary people. Jeff and his peers from Alpha Centauri explain they came to earth tracking a nasty alien who has apparently has taken control of a nasty terrorist chief. As Jeff and Kitty are attracted to one another, she learns how to use weapons of evil alien destruction like hair spray.

This is an enjoyable science fiction tale that lampoons comic book and movie superhero thrillers. The story line feels like a amalgam of Earth Girls Are Easy merged with Evolution. Although at times the parody overwhelms the action, readers who enjoy a fun at times inane Space Invaders spoof will want to read Touched by an Alien.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Of Midnight Born-Lisa Cach

Of Midnight Born
Lisa Cach
Lovespell, March 2010, $7.99

Woden goes camping with his country cousin Rhys near Le Gayne Fortress. Rhys entertains his young relative with stories about the ghost haunting the nearby castle. That night while Rhys sleeps, Alex sees shooting stars in the clear sky followed by a beautiful spirit trying to reach out to him.

Over two decades later Alex returns to the fortress to observe the path of the shooting stars. The ghost he saw when he was a ten-year-old child returns. Soon the specter Serena Clerenbold knows love. She risks her existence to reach out to Alex who also has fallen for the five hundred-year-old apparition that allegedly killed her spouse on their wedding night. As everyone who cares about Alex worries that he is losing his mind, he and Serena risk all for a love that crosses time and planes struggling to find an existence.

OF MIDNIGHT BORN is a powerfully passionate otherworldly historical romance that will thrill fans of the sub-genre. Though the story line turns extremely somber at times, Lisa Cach defuses the moments with well placed humor. Alex is a great lead character, typical of the late Regency hero in novels, as he struggles with seductive dreams battling his belief that love hurts. However, the plot belongs to the independent and brave Serena who willingly jeopardizes her essence for love.
Harriet Klausner

Jared-Sarah McCarty

Sarah McCarty
Berkley, Apr 2010, $
ISBN: 9780425232408

Jared Johnson smells a weak vampire female trapped by two Sanctuary male vampires on Renegade land. He thinks of the vampire civil war six months old as Sanctuary tries to find female breeders. Jared ignores the woman and kills both males. She is upset with him for not showing them mercy. As Jared and Raisa Slovenski argue, they flee enemy vampires. He finds her blood that she needs, but she says no as the human couple are a good pair ; he wonders how she survived alone.

They reach the D’Nally werewolf ranch where the weres are attracted to Raisa. The alpha Ian asks why she is so weak and offers her blood; she says it is wrong and rejects his offer. She faints and is dying from a lack of blood. Jared offers his blood and she says this is right and takes some. For the first in her three centuries as a vampire she does not have an allergic reaction to blood. Jared tells her she is his “Sunbeam”. She says she liked being turned while he hated it. Her cousin brought her to America to work as a whore; but she refused so was beaten to near death before the conversion. He says some bitch converted his brother who changed him. As they fall in love with the enemy in pursuit, their respective nineteenth century pasts interfere with their current lives.

The lead couple is a super pairing and the support cast is extremely well drawn. The story line is fun to follow as the lead couple fall in love while dodging the enemy and each other with a great twist re their relationship. Although a bit more back story on the Shadow Wranglers vampire schism would help newcomers in understanding, rural romantic fantasy fans will fully relish Jared’s tale and seek out his brother, Caleb’s entry.

Harriet Klausner

Changes-Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher
Roc, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9780451463173

To Chicago’s only listed wizard Harry Dresden his affair with Susan Rodriguez feels like yesterday and eons ago. They were madly in love until she was assaulted by one of his adversaries Bianca coming after his Achilles’ Heel. Susan fled Harry and the States for South America to keep as much of her humanity as possible while struggling with her new needs for blood and a thirst to destroy the Vampiric Red Court whose blood rage Bianca infected in her.

However, Susan hid from Harry and the Red Court a tiny secret. Red Court Duchess Arianna Ortega learns that Susan gave birth to Harry’s daughter Maggie. The evil vampiress realizes Maggie is an even better tool to destroy her group’s greatest foe Dreden whom she holds responsible for her husband’s death. She abducts Maggie planning on a ritual sacrifice with a death for a death. A distraught Susan turns to her former lover Harry informing him he has a preadolescent daughter and she has been kidnapped by the Red Court. Raging almost out of control, Harry ignores the White Council of Wizards who would prefer a half-breed to die for the so called better good mentality of maintaining the peace with the vampires who have wrecked South America. He is willing to go dark side to save his offspring’s life.

Jim Butcher is credible as this time Dresden is saving his child that he never knew existed. Fast-paced, but character driven throughout as the obsessed wizard seems almost over the edge, but long time fans will know his dark jocular asides prove he still is Harry; just with a personal mission. Changes is a great entry as Harry faces fatherhood if he can save his daughter’s life from an equally raging vampiress.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Drift-Sharon Carter Rogers

Sharon Carter Rogers
Howard (Simon & Schuster), Apr 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9781416566533

He is a Drifter currently trapped in a cemetery because his last human tether Simon whom he was with for five years, is buried there. Boy has met two other essences like him, but assumes there are many more out there. One ripped his head off while the other ignored his existence. However, currently he feels the cold because unlike guardian angels, drifters have bodies; he also has mental issues as he does not understand where his species fits in God’s master plan.

Now twenty years old Baby Doll knows her “father” Charlie Murphy took her from her biological dad when her mom lived with him. When her mom died, Charlie “adopted” Baby Doll as his by simply changing her surname to his; no one would challenge a crime kingpin like him. She grows up not sure why she lives in a gilded cage.

When Boy the Drifter meets Baby Doll the daughter of the mob chief, they become immediately tethered to one another. Neither quite understands the connection that binds them to each other, as he has no earthly idea what God wants him to do for Baby Doll and she is fearful of the reaction of the God who controls her life, and what her adopted father will do to Boy. In one week all hell occurs.

Drift is a superb paranormal thriller that grips readers from the onset when we meet Boy who remains tethered to his dead human while meeting two other entities who are Drifters like himself. The story line is fast-paced throughout as the audience wonders what will happen to Boy and his tethered mate Baby Doll, who will prove to be their enemy and finally who will remain standing above the ground as Sharon Carter Rogers provides a fascinating unique thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Mage in Black-Jaye Wells

The Mage in Black
Jaye Wells
Orbit, Apr 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316037808

In a world when mortals don’t know that vampires, werewolves, faeries, and mages exist, Sabina Kane is an unusual hybrid offspring of a vampire and a mage. Her vampiric grandmother Lavinia the Alpha of the Dominae raised her though she loathed her as an abomination of nature. When Grandma Dearest tried to kill her, she escapes with the mage Adam. They head to New York for her to meet her mage blood side of her heritage especially her twin sister Maise, head of the Hekate Council.

Maise opens up her heart to her sibling, but as an enforcer and a Dominae assassin, to stay alive she has trust issues. Her goal is to destroy her grandmother, but to do she needs to learn magic. She never expected to get involved with the mages nor anticipate an unknown enemy will come after her, but Sabina has no choice. She must deal with the leader of the pack and try to survive the assault of Eurynome the demon summoned from beyond to specifically kill her. Evidence surfaces that prove Sabina betrayed the mages costing them their alliance with Queen Maeve of the faeries at a time when the mages consider open war with the vamps. Sabina escapes incarceration with plans to go it alone until she finds proof that her heart is right about the mages especially Maise.

Jaye Wells’ latest urban fantasy picks up where the Red-Headed Stepchild ended, but goes in a different direction as the heroine leaves behind the vamps to connect she hopes with the mages. She holds the exciting story line together as she struggles with backstabbing political intrigue (talk about realism) and making new relationships especially with ever trusting Maise. Filled with plenty of action focused on Sabina as well as humor mostly by her familiar Giguhl who has never found a moment in which he is not causing trouble without trying. The Mage in Black further defines the fascinating unique "Wellsian" mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 15, 2010

Petrodor-Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd
PYR, Mar 23 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616141936

War seems imminent between Lenayin and Bacosh as leaders on both sides discuss their advantages and the merits of the fight; no one cares that soldiers and civilians will die. Although she would prefer to stay out of the mess, Svaalverd style master bladeswoman Princess Sasha continues her training under the tutelage of the great warrior, Kessligh,. She and Kessligh want to prevent the combat that will devastate her homeland.

In exile after leading a rebellion against her father, Sasha and her mentor are in the affluent port city of Petrodor to attempt to keep the dispute from turning into war. While her sisters are being married to the highest political bidder in an obvious effort to obtain allies, Sasha turns to the serrin from beyond the Bacosh; of whom she understands somewhat their strange culture, but has doubts she can trust them even her friend Errollyn. War still seems to be coming in spite of Sasha’s efforts.

The second Trial of Blood & Steal is an exciting fantasy that provides an interesting look at the political-military-religious complex. The story line is action-packed but has the second book feel as little progress is made. Still with the maturing of Sasha taking a setback as she has become increasingly obstinate and egoistical rejecting advice, fans who read Sasha will enjoy this fine tale; newcomers will be lost as they will not know the cause of the seemingly coming war.

Harriet Klausner

The King Commands-Meg Burden

The King Commands
Meg Burden
Brown Barn Books, Apr 12 2010, $8.95
ISBN: 9780979882418

The Northlands and the Southlings have an uneasy detente though there is little difference between the people who inhabit the two lands. In the Southlings where there is no monarch, they embrace the power of Healing while the Northlands call it witchcraft. Southling Ellin Fisher lives in self-imposed exile in the Northlands because she developed telepathic skills that caused the concerned Guardians to assassinate her father and try to kill her (see Northlander) in spite of her healing prowess.

Northlands King Alaric welcomes Southlings especially those with magic to stay in his kingdom; Ellin is one of his guests, but he exiles her back to her homeland for trying to heal his father’s killer. Alaric’s youngest brother Prince Garreth accompanies Ellin to her country. When she cross the border to Southlings, she realizes the Guardians have made life much worse for everyone as they grow stronger attacking those with forbidden magic and fostering conflict with their Borderland neighbor. She joins a cell of True Southlings with powers similar to hers and becomes an apprentice to a full fledged Healer. A crisis back in the Northlands sends Ellin and Garreth back there where they learn the Guardians are employing magic to cause civil war in the kingdom to the north. King Alaric declares war on the Guardians, but to win he will need the magic of the Southlings.

Although targeted for young adults, older readers will also enjoy the second Borderlands fantasy filled with plenty of intrigue, romance, and adventure. Readers will admire the lead couple as they act like ordinary people though one is a royal and the other a magic practitioner. Fans will root for them as they escape harrowing situations. With strong political spins throughout like a king needing magic to win a war but many of his subjects believe that is taboo, Meg Burden provides a deep thinking yet action-packed fantasy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tales of the Otherworld-Kelley Armstrong

Tales of the Otherworld
Kelley Armstrong
Bantam, Apr 13 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553807882

The second Otherworld short story collection (see Men of Otherworld) is a superb compilation that enhances knowledge of characters in the saga. As stated by Kelley Armstrong in the Introduction to the eight story anthology, “Beginnings” and “The Case of El Chapacabra” were written previously and placed on the author’s website. In “Rebirth”, Aaron learns of his vampire bloodline. “Bewitched” half-demon Eve and corporate sorcerer Kristof prove opposites attract. Logan Jonson seeks his “Birthright” when at eighteen he is about to meet his father Jeremy Danvers and unwittingly the pack for the first time. Elena of “Bitten” fame tells of her “Beginnings”. The wedding of the year between Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne brings “Expectations” to fans who know everything will go wrong. In “Ghost” the house seems empty with Elena and Clay gone but Daniel threatens his former pack mates. Three weeks and counting down to the nuptials, but the engaged couple feel as if they are going through “Wedding Bell Hell” with the slow countdown. In “The Case of El Chapacabra”, Lucas and Paige investigate murder. These are terrific entries, but only fans of the Otherworld series will appreciate them as, like Ms. Armstrong has done on-line, they fill gaps in the series.

Harriet Klausner

Hell Fire-Ann Aguirre

Hell Fire
Ann Aguirre
Roc, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451463241

Don’t look for Kilmer, Georgia on a map or even waste your time trying GPS; don’t bother with Google as nothing is written on and off the net about Kilmer. To psychics the town appears to be a dark hole or a bleak unmentionable spot in the ether.

Now after years away Corine Solomon is coming home to Kilmer to learn why a dozen people killed her mother. Accompanying Corine on her quest is her ex-boyfriend Chance who wants a second chance with her, and suspended Texas police officer Jesse who wants a closer relationship with her. From the moment the trio enter the town, they feel engulfed by a miasma of evil that gives the place a distorted look of a mid twentieth century sitcom. The threesome share in common psychic gifts, but each is different. A handler, Corine’s is psychometry, who everyone covets. She uses her touch skill to learn the twelve is eradicating systematically those with the gift; next on their methodical hit list is Corine. She sees in a vision they killed her mom who died in her arms but not before her dying mother created a spell to transfer her power to Corine, who does not plan to become the next sacrificial lamb of the dirty dozen.

After the horrific events in Texas that the trio triumphed over (see Blue Diablo), they plunge into another supernatural encounter that involves using psychic skills to the max or end up dying. The characters come across as believable, especially the lead threesome, the town and its residents. This makes for an exciting time in Georgia as the enthralled audience will wonder whether even Charlie Daniels can fiddle his way out of this Hell Fire. Ann Aguirre is an author to watch for becuse in years to come she will be one of the best second generation urban fantasists.

Harriet Klausner

Neverland-Douglas Clegg

Douglas Clegg
Vanguard, Apr 13 2010, $15.95
ISBN: 9781593155414

When Beau is ten years old he, his parents and twin sisters go to Gull Island, Georgia to see his granny. Also visiting at the same time is his cousin Sumter and his parents. The children watch their parents get drunk every night and say terrible things to each other. Sumter has a teddy bear called Bernard that he clings to while his father calls him a sissy who should act like a boy instead of a girl.

It is Sumter who finds the abandoned shack on his granny's property and he calls it Neverland. He brings Beau to it and introduces him to the god he worships in a crate. Strange inexplicable things happen in this shack as they worship the god. He puts his hand in the crate as do his sisters when they come to Neverland and feel something bite them. A blood sacrifice is made as the children put their blood in the crate. Beau and the children believe they fly over Gull Island and see the ghosts of dead children; Sumter communicates telepathically with Beau who believes what happens is real. He knows that some things are inexplicable because his dreams come true. It is when Sumter wants them to make the final sacrifice that Beau turns against him risking his life to stop it from happening.

Douglas Clegg is a talented horror writer who manages to creep out his audience with a very visual picturesque storyline so that the reader feels as if they are inside the storyline. This is dark atmospheric work, gothic in tone that makes the readers question whether the events Beau experiences have more than one explanation. Neverland is a scary work written by an author soaring to the top of his game.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Outcast-C. L. Talmadge

C. L. Talmadge
Healing Stone, Sep 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9780980053784

Healer Helen Andros will do anything just about to prevent a civil war so though they only recently met she leaves the estate of her father Lord James Mordecai taking shelter in the mountains of Southern Alta Province. There she joins up with the Altairs, family of her lover Colonel Orlando Jackson. Helen and Orlando’s mom Marlin become close as each provides nurturing while his father Jason is dying.

Soon after Jason is buried, Maguari the Mist-Weaver warns that Lord James’ life is in jeopardy as is his kingdom if he fails to perform his role as the Lord Protector. Judith Altair pleads with Lord James to take action or face dire consequences but he remains inert. Helen flees again fearing betrayal will harm the family of her beloved. She goes into isolation, but meets the Sheen kids Jeriko and Deborah whose mother died last year and father Obadiah has become the Sin-Eater. Fearful, she visits Obadiah to obtain permission to watch over his offspring; they become friends and soon Maguari mentors them on using energy and especially Helen on applying her green stone. At the Temple of Kronos, a scheme to destroy Lord James via abduction of Helen is set in motion as she is betrayed again.

Book Four of Green Stone Healing fantasy is a terrific tale as the plot against Lord James moves forward as does a series of assaults on his daughter. The story line is fast-paced throughout while readers will admire Helen for her nurturing and healing, which seems an instinctive intrinsic part of her soul. With a strong support cast to enhance what is happening to a kingdom, a father, and a daughter, fantasy readers will enjoy this fine entry while wondering what Helen will do with her new skills.

Harriet Klausner

Bound In Blood-P.C Hodgell

Bound In Blood
P.C Hodgell
Baen, Mar 2 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9781439133408

In 120 at Knorth Hall, twins Jame and Torisen as the lords of the Kencyrath honor their fallen comrades by naming those warriors whose blood splattered on the sacred banners. These fallen comrades deserve the best, however, Jame is aghast when she realizes more than just blood is on the death banners. The souls of these intrepid fighters are trapped inside the banners honoring them.

While working on how to liberate the fallen, she finds proof that her cousin Kindrie is, like her and her brother, a full-blooded Knorth. This is a two edged sword in her mind as she welcomes him as her family equal, but the implications are they can manifest the Three-Faced God, a deity who abandoned the Kencyrath to their fate after a betrayal several thousand years ago. Confused with what to do on any front, Jame returns to Randon College near Tentir to continue her studies, determine the best courses of action and avoid causing unintentional consequences. She also worries that her evil uncle somehow still lurks in the shadows and even more hates being in charge, which seems much more difficult than surviving and going at it with responsibility for just yourself.

The latest Kencyrath thriller is an intriguing tale although for the most part the overarching plot does not move forward much. Jame struggles with expectations of others as the once heroic action figure finds it rather difficult to accept the leadership mantle; she now accounts for others including creatures who have tried to kill her. The subplots of Tori (who struggles with living up to the reputation of his twin especially when in Tentir many mistake him for her) and Kindrie (beyond Jame learning he makes the triad possible) barely budge. Although it helps to have read the previous Seekers’ entries, Bound in Blood is a fascinating character study as Jame the courageous heroine must switch from warrior to leader.

Harriet Klausner

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter-Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame-Smith
Grand Central, Mar 2 2010, $21.99
ISBN: 9780446563086

Born in 1809 in Illinois, a land dispute drove seven years old Abraham Lincoln, his older sister Sarah and their parents across the Ohio to settle in Indiana. In 1818, Great Uncle and Aunt Tom and Elizabeth Sparrows become ill from the milk sickness, they suffer greatly until a blessed coma and finally death took them both. Soon afterward his mother Nancy dies from the disease. Abe leaves home after his soulmate his mom is interred.

Abe learns that his beloved mom was murdered by a vampire who took Nancy Hanks Lincoln’s essence when her spouse failed to pay his debts on time. Young Lincoln vows vengeance on these evil creatures who would collect payment by murdering people. He studies diligently to learn all things vampire and their mortal allies, slave holders.

This is an intriguing biographical supernatural fiction in which Seth Grahame-Smith “constructs” the secret life of the president from The Journal of Abraham Lincoln. The story line is set up to use the journal as if it was really written by the sixteenth president, but unknown until found by Seth Grahame-Smith; and supplemented with facts and pictures from Lincoln’s life. Fascinating in many ways, Mr. Grahame-Smith provides a well written “historical” account of President Lincoln. However a lack of hypothesis speculating why no one leaked the undead facts, including Mr. Lincoln, to the general populace, who should have known anyway about he existence of vampires influencing America for instance using slave owners as minions and slaves as food.

Harriet Klausner

Never Cry Werewolf-L.A. Banks

Never Cry Werewolf
L.A. Banks
St. Martin’s, Mar 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943004

After dealing with the warring werewolf clans in New Orleans, Captain Sasha Trudeau and her black-ops team, which report to the Paranormal Containment Unit, are sent to NORAD in the Colorado Rockies. The men who oversee various parts of the military are displeased with the squad’s performance because humans died and the public accepted the fact that supernaturals exist.

A second team led by human Colonel Madison, who detests and fears the paranormal, are sent to New Orleans to give an unbiased account. Sasha knows he will get his unit killed and stary a war thaat will end with millions killed because the colonel is unaware of the various species, their governing boards or their unique power. Ancient were-leopard Junq Suk forms an alliance with Vampire Elder Vlad. He gives her a young body into which she transfers her essence into goes on a killing spree making it look like werewolves were hunting humans. The unholy pair hopes the humans eradicate the werewolves who they want punished for their transgressions. The vampire also plans to regain his position as head of the United Council of Entities by proving the wolves brole protocol and by working with an Unseelie Fae who has her own agenda. Sasha tries to minimize the damage Madison does because she doesn’t want the city flooded in blood.

Never Cry Werewolf is a marvelous magical military urban fantasy. Sasha finally comes to grips with her feelings about Hunter who is injured trying to prevent a war from breaking out. She also comes to grip with her half-human and half shadow wolf nature. However, what makes this latest action adventure Crimson Moon tale so good is L.A. Banks uncanny skill of using the military via her heroine, the brass and Madison to make the supernatural natural.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 12, 2010

Amberville-Tim Davys

Tim Davys
Harper, Feb 23 2010, $10.00
ISBN: 9780061625138

Eric Bear has come a long way from when he used drugs, gambled and was a runner for mob chieftain Nicholas Dove. Now Eric is married to a wonderful woman Emma Rabbit though he still hears rumors about his cronies from the old days.

Dove hears some of the same rumors including one that he is on the portentous Death List of those who will soon vanish. He visits his former employer to offer a deal. If Eric gets his name removed from the ominous Death List, his stuffed thugs will not rip apart Emma. Erick knows he cannot perform this quest alone; so he enlists his former gang teammates Tom-Tom Crow, Sam Gazelle and Snake Marek, who like him are reformed former felons. The quest to find the top secret foreboding Death List and its even more clandestine author begins.

Amberville is an enjoyable parable that uses stuffed animals to tell a combination mob gang good and evil fable. The story line is at its fast-paced most exhilarating during the gang sequences. The plot slows down at times when the tale turns into a dissertation on the nature of evil; though ironically that segues is the more fascinating subplot. Readers who prefer something wildly different will want to peruse Tim Davys' intriguing allegory.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Freaksville-Kitty Keswick

Kitty Keswick
Leap Books, Dec 2009, $16.99
ISBN: 9781616030018

In Stony Creek, California, Maxwell females can see the future, which is hard on sixteen years old Kasey. She wears gloves to avoid touching anything or anyone as that triggers her skill; worse her mom sees everything.

Kasey has a vision starring mysterious English foreign exchange student Josh Johnstone. Her sight leads her to co-starring with Josh in Romeo and Juliet and a kiss. However, someone wants to harm either him or both of them starting with a stage light falling and there being locked in the basement. When they see a ghost, each knows who the malevolence is who is after them, but neither knows how to send the mean spirit to its final resting place even though she has the gift of sight via touch and he is a werewolf.

This is an enjoyable teen romantic urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple harassed by genetics and paranormal incidents. Although blogging provides an interesting modern feel to the plot, this is also a big detractor as Miss Manners wisely says: “Don't go public with your so-called private life." Still young adults will enjoy Freaksville as the cast is solid even the ghost and Kasey’s BFF could support her own tale.

Harriet Klausner

Silver Borne-Patricia Briggs

Silver Borne
Patricia Briggs
Ace, Mar 30 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441018192

Even though the human population knows that vampires, werewolves, and fae exist, it does not preclude mortals from fearing the paranormal. Mechanic Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter who can turn into a coyote, but is mated with her beloved alpha werewolf Adam. His pack feels a coyote is beneath them on the food chain and using their mind control powers try to persuade Mercy that she is not good enough for their leader.

While an outraged Adam is trying to ferret out who is destroying his pack and messing with his Mercy’s mind, she has two other problems to contend with. Her friend Samuel the werewolf struggles with his human side so his beast keeps him alive while Mercy triess to give him a reason to live. A fairy wants her to return a powerful tome that a fae lent her; she kidnaps her friend Gabriel to insure Mercy cooperates, but the bookstore is shuttered permanently and Mercy knows the queen will try a double cross.

The fifth Mercy Thompson urban fantasy is filled with action, romance and fae intrigue; perhaps the deadliest kind on the planet. Filled with various subplots that tie deftly together, the continuing adventures of Mercy and Adam make for another entertaining entry in a strong saga. However, it is Patricia Briggs’ world-building skills on a par with early Laurell K. Hamilton that make Silver Borne a winner as readers will believe in shapeshifters, fae and vampires, oh my.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 8, 2010

And Falling, Fly-Skyler White

And Falling, Fly
Skyler White
Berkley, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425232347

Olivia the fallen angel is depressed with how far she has sunken just because of wanting. She has become a vampire who will never know desire.

Neuroscientist Dominic O’Shaugnessy has a history he wishes he could rewrite or at least bury. He is ashamed and prays he will one day atone though he remains haunted by visions he cannot rationalize.

Olivia and Dominic meet at the L’Otel Matillide, the subterraneous Hotel of the Damned. She has lost all hope while he hopes to find some hope. However, with one another they may find something more than hope if they take a chance but both knows that the something more can be damnation of the dead.

This is a complicated read as the atmosphere and brooding lead couple enhances a metaphysical story line that demands the audience to ponder what is life, death, and a sort of nothingness. The readers will empathize with each of the lead couple whose darkness makes neither likable, which in turn enhances the feeling of hopelessness as if they checked into the Hotel California for the damned. Although the relationship moves too quickly towards love for a despairing, distrusting duo like this pair, readers will consider the meaning of life and whether death is its antonym.

Harriet Klausner

Coyote Destiny-Allen Steele

Coyote Destiny
Allen Steele
Ace, Mar 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441018215

With the disaster that devastated the governments of the Western hemisphere, those Americans, Europeans and Asians who can flee the Earth do. Their destination is the 47 Ursae Majoris system where they plan to rebuild the world.

Captain Sergio Vargas transports thirty-four earthlings to Coyote. However, as they are about to cross the star traversing gateway from Starbridge Earth, an explosion occurs on the receiving side. Apparently the Robert E. Lee had exploded with communication down except for an SOS from a lifeboat. Vargas calmly switches mission to rescue the survivor and hopefully more from the Robert E. Lee disaster, but only finds one person; a monk amidst the ruins of Boston claiming he is God.

The second half of the latest Coyote interstellar outer space colonization is a superb finish to Coyote Horizon. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as Vargas believes the cause of the calamity is a member of his crew. Fans of the Coyote saga already know Allen Steele consistently provides thought provoking tales of interstellar exploration while newcomers need to read at least the first half of this duology Coyote Horizon to understand what led to the escapades in Coyote Destiny.

Harriet Klausner

Deep In The Woods-Chris Marie Greene

Deep In The Woods
Chris Marie Greene
Ace, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780441018208

In London, vampire hunter Dawn Madison leads her team on a mission to destroy the Underground. They have captured a female master who they interrogate; learning there is another master who, like their prisoner, can shapeshift.

At Queenshill School, the Underground turned the coeds into undead teens who are willing to die to rescue their female master from Dawn. Dawn's team leader and lover Costin remains bound to Jonah's vampire body, which is costing him his Soul Traveler power at a time he needs every resource he possesses to defeat the Underground as he has gone under the school’s ground in search of the master.

Following the Los Angeles Underground mission accomplished, Dawn’s search for the London Underground continues in the latest Vampire Babylon tale (see The Path of Razors), but the culture is radically different yet as dark and gritty. Dawn remains a lean mean fighting machine but since that short stretch as a vampire turned back to human, she struggles with an internal fuse that ignites too easily. Complex relations make the Vampire Babylon series a top notch urban fantasy filled with twists, turns and challenges fans have come to expect from Chris Marie Greene.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Defeat The Darkness-Alexis Morgan

Defeat The Darkness
Alexis Morgan
Pocket, Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416563457

Devlin Bane is concerned with the instability between Earth and Kalitia especially around volcanoes in the northwest. He asks limping Paladin warrior Hunter Fitzsimon who recently left St. Louis for Washington to investigate especially near Justice Point, where he suspects avaricious folks on both sides of the barrier will destroy anything or anyone for money.

Hunter rents an apartment from tea shop owner Tate Justice. She is curious about her hunk upstairs while he fears his desire for her. Tate follows him into the nearby woods to learn the secrets he strenuously conceals from her. He kisses her senseless, but leaves himself wanting more though he fears he will have to choose between love and his mission; she now knows his secret involves keeping earth safe though she is not sure from what.

This is a terrific Paladin romantic urban fantasy as the hero may have come back from the dead but suffers from PTSD while the heroine will learn the meaning of the full verse from Alice in Wonderland: “curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction it brought him back”. Filled with action, anguish and love, fans will enjoy Defeat the Darkness with its dual meaning title.

Harriet Klausner

Velvet Haven: The Immortals of Annwyn-Sophia Renwick

Velvet Haven: The Immortals of Annwyn
Sophia Renwick
NAL, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451229182

Annwyn is the Otherworld and mortals are unaware of its existence. The realm is home to all types of supernaturals with the link between that of the humans and that of the paranormal being Velvet Haven, a night club owned by half-breed Rhys MacDonald, whose father abdicated as king of the Sidhe to marry a mortal. Rhys’ shapeshifting cousin Bran, angrily sits on the throne, while suffering from the Legacy Curse that requires him exclusively to mate with the species he loathes humans.

When the ninth murder of a Sidhe occurs and the first female victim, Bran knows he must delay his search for his missing brother, Carden, who vanished into the Wasteland centuries ago. Instead he must focus on stopping the serial killer at a time when his visions show him dead, a victim of a warrior. Since evil initiated on the other side, Bran goes to Velvet Haven seeking a woman to replenish his energy and clues to the deadly predator; unaware that a connected killer is also on the mortal plane. At his cousin’s club he meets mortal nurse Mairi MacAuley whose essence arouses him as never before. She rejects him as she assumes he is a player, but he persists unaware that their attraction could be the cause of his death

With much more going on than described above especially with her friend Rowan and the fallen Suriel for instance, Book One of the Annwyn Chronicles is a tremendous romantic fantasy with religious overtones that will stun readers. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mairi and Rowen enter the velvet Haven and never stops for even a heart beat. The cast is strong especially the support cast who make the Otherworld seem genuine. Sophia Renwick provides fans with a twisting tale of salvation from even death.

Harriet Klausner

Embers-Laura Bickle

Laura Bickle
Juno (Pocket), Mar 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9781439167656

Residents of Detroit are perhaps at their lowest levels of hope and highest levels of rage perhaps since the summer of 1967 and not just because of the Lions. Arson is the norm as chaos prevails much of it caused from those beneath the rotting city.

Detroit Fire Department Arson Investigator Lieutenant Anya Kalinczyk is one of the few who understands the threat of human despair fed by phantoms of the night. Because of her Lantern skill as a “human bug zapper” Anya and her familiar, Sparky the five foot salamander hunt ghosts. Her current fire inquiry shocks her as the evidence points to Drake the Lantern who she is attracted to but fears him as he raises a powerful essence from beyond who will arrive on Devil’s Night unless Anya and Sparky can prevent this catastrophe from occurring even as she accidental swallows Mimi the demon

Urban fantasy fans will relish this superb entry of a kick butt female who takes her day and night jobs seriously. Anya knows fire investigation and paranormal inquires are dangerous and acts accordingly. The fast-paced story line follows her exploits on the mean streets of Detroit and the even meaner underground. Sub-genre fans will wonder which Lantern will prevail with Sirrush from beyond.

Harriet Klausner

The Battle Sylph-L.J. McDonald

The Battle Sylph
L.J. McDonald
Leisure, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843963007

Her father arranged for Solie to marry a forty-five years old obese man. She refuses so believing her maiden Aunt Masha would taker her in, Solie flees her village. However, she fails to arrive at the haven she seeks. Instead she is captured by soldiers working for the prince of Eferem who expects a visit from a Battler Sylph. To bind him to the royals, they need a virgin sacrifice; hence the plan is to kill Solie the moment the Sylph crosses over as that enslaves them to the killer of his “queen”.

However, the soldiers underestimate their helpless prisoner who escapes their binds and calls to the Sylph “Hey You”. He kills the prince and immediately the named Heyou and his queen Solie flee together. Outraged King Alcor Baldorth sends royal warriors and other Battle Sylphs to chase after this abomination of a female master of any kind of Sylph, but especially the most fearsome type, the Battler.

This is a great opening romantic fantasy with a delightful tongue in cheek attitude that enhances the fun of the action-packed tale. The story line is fast-paced from the opening failed binding and never slows down as everyone knows females cannot be masters of sylphs. As Solie and Heyou rock their kingdom, readers will appreciate their escapades of trying to find haven, which is how she got into this mess in the first place. The Battle Sylph is a superb first act.

Harriet Klausner

At the Gates of Darkness-Raymond E. Feist

At the Gates of Darkness
Raymond E. Feist
Eos, Apr 6 2010, $26.99
ISBN 9780061468377

Insane necromancer Belasco called up and sent demons to destroy Midkemia. However, a shaky alliance between enemies, especially Pug the Black Sorcerer of Sorcerer’s Isle and the Conclave of Shadows led by field agent James Jamison defeated the Demon King Maarg and his horde (see Maarg Rides a Dread Legion). Although they won that battle, the war is far from over as Belasco has other demonic contacts ready to fight.

In the Valley of Lost Men, Belasco regroups with Dahun the demon as they unite in a level of dark magic never tried before. Still healing physically, they have no time to do so mentally especially to grieve for so many valiant, who died in their just cause, James warns the band of Midkemia protectors that the next battle has begun. James, Pug, Amirantha the necromancer, Brandos the warlock, Sandreena the Knight-Adamandt, the Star Elven siblings, and others set out to end the latest deadly threat; none of the brave heroes and heroines expect to come back alive.

The second Demonwar fantasy is an exciting thriller that continues the latest demonic assault on Midkemia. The story line is fast-paced and fun to follow as the various cast of heroes and the two prime villains make their magical skills and species seem genuine. Well written even long time fans wondering when Pug will start receiving medicare will think two ways about Yogi Berra’s comment “deja vu all over again” as Raymond E. Feist like Mantle and Maris hits back to back home runs though his saga has that sameness feel from the previous series. Still readers will enjoy the latest battle against the demon minion.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jade Man's Skin-Daniel Fox

Jade Man's Skin
Daniel Fox
Del Rey, Feb 16 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345503046

The Dragon in Chains is no longer locked in the Straits of Taishu. Instead she soars in the sky free with an obsession to take her vengeance on those who chained it. However, the beast has not been able to rid itself of her liberator, Han the apprentice scribe who remains telepathically tied to the dragon.

At the same the exiled young Emperor remains alive because of the dragon, but also feels like a bird in a gilded cage as he is trapped in the mountains of Taishu Island by his enemies and the beast. He is changing due to jade exposure that leaves him more powerful, angrier and frustrated as he no longer wants to hide in the mountains. His first step back is taking control of the city of Taishu as the Emperor strikes back. General Ping Wen believes capturing the Jade Throne is his first step to what he should be – Godhood. Besides counting his losses over the years, pirate Captain Li Ton tries to take over the military as the civil war continues unabated. The exiled Emperor’s favorite concubine Lady Mei Feng is also in the mix cleverly out maneuvering the ambitious general. However, out of the sea comes the Li-Goddess who comes after the dragon, but collateral damage of people is no concern to her.

The second medieval fantasy captures the essence of Chinese mythology with an even deeper more complicated tale than the Dragon in Chains. The story line is fast-paced with several subplots brewing as various individuals want power; some want godhood power. The point of view changes, but never slows down as the dragon unchained is a strong tale as the conflict expands.

The Scorpions Strike-C.L. Talmadge

The Scorpions Strike
C.L. Talmadge
Healing Stone Books, 2008, $16.95
ISBN: 9780980053753

The priests of the powerful Temple of Kronos continue their domination over the Toltec empire because King Kefren is too weak-minded to challenge the fundamentalist wing. The priests accuse Lord James Mordecai of heretical crimes against the Temple of Kronos by violating the purebred code when he sired a half-breed daughter Helen.

Both are punished for this gregarious transgression as James is brutally whipped and the Supreme Lord applies the Toltec death-mark to Helen, which allows a legal murder of her. Although festering with anger, James fails to act for fear of causing a civil war at a time the barbarians are attacking the borders. Meanwhile; Helen’s secret lover Colonel Jackson Orlando keeps her alive until with the help of Maguari the Mist-Weaver and Academy Grand Master Isaac Sudras she finds a deadly toxin buried in her father's welts. When her stepmother Lady Samantha Poseidon becomes pregnant Helen saves her life and that of her unborn half-brother from an attack intended to kill Helen as the priests are still after the half-breed.

The third GREEN STONE OF HEALING fantasy is an engaging tale that has a unique feel to the plot as the key lead players are tied up by their ethics. James must choose between the kingdom and his daughter so does nothing beyond feeble protection of his offspring. Helen struggles with her fears for her father and his land as she has become a focus of those who would demonize the opposition; so like her dad is unsure what is best for him and his people. With an easy to manipulate ruler, Temple of Kronos fanatics proclaim religious supremacy enable them to assert heresy even knowing they emaciate the kingdom. Father and daughter only respond to their machinations making for a fascinating entry.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 5, 2010

Full Moon City-Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg (Editors)

Full Moon City
Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg (Editors)
Gallery (Pocket), Mar 9 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781416584131

Full Moon City contains fourteen dark werewolf and one leaning more towards vampire (Darrell Schweitzer’s “Kvetchula’s Daughter”) urban fantasies written by some of the genre’s most renowned authors. None are clinkers, but only a few can be considered as super. For the most part the environs are places not anticipated in werewolf tales such as the Plaza Hotel in Esther M. Friesner’s where “No Children, No Pets” prevail but six years old Emmeline lives next door in Central Park; at Houston Community College where the Lycanthropy Support Group meets in “The Truth About Werewolves” by Lisa Tuttle and Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty returns to Vegas in “Kitty learns the Ropes”. More typical locales are used too but less frequently like in Ian Watson’s “The Weredog of Bucharest”; the Bayou is the setting for Peter S. Beagle’s “La Lune D’Attend” and Hollywood in “I Was a Middle Aged Werewolf” by Ron Goulart. In my opinion the best contribution is Holly Black's “The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue” as the werewolf actress looks deeply at conversion. Overall this is a very good collection worth reading only by fans of the modern take on the werewolf mythos

Harriet Klausner

The Poison Throne-Celine Kiernan

The Poison Throne
Celine Kiernan
Orbit, Apr 7 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316077064

Dying Lorcan Moorehawke returns from the Northland after a five year mission accompanied by his fifteen year old daughter Wynter to their former home Kingcourt, but are not welcomed as befits the Protector should be. That is they feel unwelcome until Victuallor Heron greets them warmly.

Wynter is stunned with changes at Kingcourt as everyone fears the king with good cause as he has turned brutal. His heir Alberon was forced to flee for his life and his other son Alberon's half-brother Razi sits uncomfortably on the regal Chair that belongs to his sibling while trying to remain loyal to his older brother and his sire; not an easy task. Razi welcomes home his childhood friend Wynter at a time rebellion and civil war seems imminent with the kingdom split in two between loyalists to a mad monarch and rebels. Wynter will soon find herself caught in the crosshairs of this division between her father loyal to the king and Razi and his cohort Christopher Garron considering the overthrow of the monarch.

This is a superb young adult political fantasy filled with plenty of intrigue as everyone at Kingcourt is impacted by the ruler’s apparent insanity. The story line fast-paced, but loaded with a strong cast who brings out the depth of life in a dictatorial deadly monarchy. Young teen readers will relish the courageous escapades of the heroine who must choose between her father and her kingdom.

Harriet Klausner

Fallout-C.L. Talmadge

C.L. Talmadge
Healing Stone Books, 2008, $16.95
ISBN: 9780980053746

On Azgard, Lord James Mordecai recognizes adult physician Helen Andros as his daughter from a liaison with Miriam Andros (see Vision). However, their union is not harmonious as each brings a different past to the father daughter relationship. He demands offspring loyalty and she wants much more from him.

Meanwhile Exalted Lord Toltec King has healed from his debilitating drug induced coma and is interested in Helen's skills as a natural healer and as a surgeon as she brought him back to the living. He orders her to marry her second cousin Lord Justin Atlas. She now knows the Green Stone she wears enhances her medical abilities, but is unsure why. However, she is worried about what will happen to her father, who stands trial for seditious acts. At the same time Justin’s father Prince Enoch Atlas believes he is finding the secrets of the priests of the Temple of Kronos in the use of life and death kura energy, which if successful will further his ambition.

The second Green Stone of healing tale is a terrific fantasy starring a large cast held strongly together by the confused heroine. The story line is fast-paced throughout and never slows although much goes on in several subplots. Enoch is a great villain with plans to raise himself and his House to the Exalted Lord level as C.L. Talmadge continues to expand on her deep political fantasy that requires the audience to read the first tale in what is so far a great saga.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Hualapai Cycle-Jason Walters

The Hualapai Cycle
Jason Walters
Black Wyrm, 2010

“Desert Dawgs”. In the Black Rock Desert, Chris and James ignore warnings while driving on the isolated Playa until they hit a big dog who is breeder Tyson’s “significant other”.

“Phat Albert”. PH tells Sheriff Sal that a gigantic mountain lion killed horse breeder Barker, his two big dogs and a steed; he escorted a hunter and his son after the animal.

“Judas Horse”. He betrayed his species of wild horses running free by luring them into a man’s trap until he learns they will be sold as dog meat.

“Big Momma”. At the Burning Man festival, Oberon warns Uncle Hank he will relocate if they fail to do something about Big Momma the dust coyote who sexually kills people.

“Tweaker Creek”. Iverson the fireman arrives at Hank’s Hualapai Club drenched in blood and tells Hippie what happened at Smoke Creek; home of meth tweakers, coyotes and kids.

“Crippled Stray”. Since her Joe died and her children moved away, old Maude is lonely and wants to die even after she rescues a crippled stray calling him Joe and bonding with the wild beast.

“Mexican Cowboy”. Lupe the vaquero asks his beloved Shuttup Amy to marry him; this may be the first time that someone shut up loquacious Amy, who flees to the Granites.

“Guerrerro’s War”. Sheriff Sal informs Guerrerro that he arrested his best friend Hippie for murder because Senator Willow caught him burying a skull. Guerrerro acts strange as he works to free his buddy.

These are eight well written but dark and stark tales of life in and around Hualapai on the Black Rock Desert; home of the Burning Man annual festival and even rock punker Sid Vicious recognizes the eeriness.

Harriet Klausner

The Ruling Sea-Robert V. S. Redick

The Ruling Sea
Robert V. S. Redick
Del Rey, Feb 16 2010, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345508850

Almost everyone believes that the ship Chathrand sunk at sea. However, the vessel did not, but chances are great it will sink as Thasha Isiq and her two companions Pazel and Neeps know they must cross The Ruling Sea; something no ship has ever done and their Captain Nilus Rose refuses to try. They have no choice if a world war is to be avoided as they possess the powerful Nilstone.

Others want to gain the Nilstone in order to use its power for personal gain. In particular the wizard Arunis, irate over his defeat at the hands of vanished peer Ramachni and the sea travelers (see the Red Wolf Conspiracy), chases after the Chathrand because the Nilstone will enable this spell-caster to ignite a war between empires. Others like Felthrup the Rat and emperors and queens with more ambition than sense also wants the Nilstone. However, there remains one even more insidious evil lurking in the bowels of the ship that makes the wizard, the rat, the emperor and the queen look benign at the same time the heroes know their goal may not exist.

This is a super sea quest fantasy sequel that continues the adventures of Thasha and her comrades, but their most powerful ally Ramachni has left to heal. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the cast who make The Ruling Sea a great thriller. Thasha and her allies know the risk they take sailing on water in which no one has allegedly crossed to a land that probably does not exist except in mythology. At the same time there are plenty on board and giving chase who want what they possess. Robert V. S. Redick writes a great tale of heroes and villains as the second Chathrand Voyage heads south into the dangerous uncharted sea.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 1, 2010

Legend of the White Wolf-Terry Spear

Legend of the White Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebook, Feb 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402219054

While their partners Cameron MacPherson and Vin Summerfield remain in Seattle as the former hunts only criminals and the latter hates flying, David Davis and Owen Nottingham are in Maine hunting black bear. Their guide Kintail Silverman, co-owner with Lila Grayson of Back Country Tours, takes them deep into the wilderness when thirtyish David suddenly suffers a heart attack. Owen knows David and pleads with Kintail to save his friend; he will pay any cost. Kintail agrees and suddenly one of his purebred white wolves leaps at the two private investigators.

Faith O'Mallery is town searching for her former boyfriend Hilson Snowden who stole her father’s research paper. Her father tells her not to read the paper once she recovers it. At a hotel, she enters an occupied room as the desk clerk gave her the wrong key. He says his name is Cameron and he is a private investigator from Seattle seeking his missing two partners. They team up in search of his buddies and her dad’s paper, but neither is prepared to what they find as she learns her dad is not insane with his sociology study and he that his friends live. Soon they will understand the howl of the wolf for its soulmate as their new loupe garous pals are in danger of extinction from Dark Angels.

The fourth werewolf romantic suspense thriller (see To Tempt a Wolf, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf) is a super entry as two dedicated individuals combine their mission only to fall in love at first bite. The pristine descriptions of Maine and elsewhere add to the feeling that a werewolf pack runs free in the tundra. Fans will relish this strong paranormal entry as no one does tales of the wolf better than Terry Spear does.

Harriet Klausner

Geosynchron-David Louis Edelman

David Louis Edelman
PYR, Feb 16 2010, $16.00
ISBN 9781591027928

When MultiReal technology failed to provide anymore probability solutions to decision making, civil war explodes between Len Borda and Magan Kai Lee while rebellion mounts elsewhere as Quell has escaped incarceration and has found a willing ally Josiah. The human solar system looks to be on the verge of a second Autonomous Revolt; the last destroyed much of civilization centuries ago.

While the proponents behind MultiReal struggle with the realism that their program is gone, they also deal with law suits. Suddenly, in the chaotic void appears MultiReal-D. It is the same as its predecessor except it can provide multiple time lines for up to 60 seconds; expanding probability mathematics to incredible degrees, bur may be too late as the legal suits expand and the hostilities grow while Natch is nowhere to be seen even as he receives desperate virtual pleas from Surina..

The final Jump 225 is a great finish to a terrific technological science fiction thriller. Somehow David Louis Edelman paints his vision even darker and grittier than in the previous extremely dark and gritty tales (see Infoquake and MultiReal). A sort of cyberpunk modernizing of WarGames, Geosynchron is superb story as the complex myriad of subplots come together in Natch who must choose mankind who treated him like excrement or himself who is his only true love; MultiReal-D would predict bet your life on the latter as that is the overwhelming odds.

Harriet Klausner

Not Less Than Gods-Kage Baker

Not Less Than Gods
Kage Baker
Tor, Mar 16 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765318916

In London in 1825, unmarried Lady Amalthea R. gives birth to a boy. Neither aristocratic parent wants to raise him so Dr. Nennys leaves the newborn with Mr. and Mrs. Bell who recently gave birth to a stillborn. They reluctantly take the unwanted infant into their home, but mostly ignore him. Eventually Dr. Nennys ships the neglected child, Edward Bell-Fairfax, to boarding school.

Edward joins the British navy, but his childhood and his unique skills of instant reaction thinking and super strength make him a loner, who fails to fit in with bands of brother warriors. He leaves unwelcome again, but Edward joins the Company of scientists and undercover agents. Dr. Ludbridge tutors Edward who is amazed with the friendly acceptance of him as well as the annual message from the future. The teacher and his prize student travel to the continent where Edward tries to influence the outcome of the Crimean War. He learns from his effort that to achieve his idealistic vision of a better world, good intentions are not enough and dirty deeds are sometimes the only solution.

This work of speculative fiction is an intriguing look at the past of one of the more fascinating Company characters; before Edward and botanist Mendoza becomes a pair. For die hard fans of the recently completed saga only who will appreciate how far Edward came from being unwanted, abused and neglected with only sinister Dr. Nennys interested in manipulating the child to take advantage of his uncanny skills. Yet through all that he remains an idealist who finds his niche with the Company and his soul with Mendoza.

Harriet Klausner

The Dragon Factory-Jonathan Maberry

The Dragon Factory
Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 2 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312382490

Otto Wirths and Cyrus Jakoby prove evil lives forever as these brilliant cretins implement a plan to finish Mengele’s master race eugenics program. Cyrus especially has worked for several decades to turn the world 100 percent Caucasian by turning genetic diseases contagious..

The Department of Military Science (DMS) is perhaps the only organization capable of preventing the triggering of the Extinction Wave, but they are preoccupied with an NSA threat to their existence. However, while DMS struggles with political threats, SAM, a child inside the Jakoby compound, sneaks out a video to DMS that awakens the agency to the pandemic threat of global ethnic cleansing. Joe Ledger and his Echo team try to prevent the final solution of destroying much of the world’s population; but they are unprepared with the genetic experiments that created mythological creatures, a super-race of soldiers and subservient NEW MEN.

The sequel to Patient Zero pays homage to The Island of Dr. Moreau by Wells and Jurassic Park by Crichton in this exciting thriller. Fast-paced, filled with action, and several surprising twists, fans will enjoy this over the top science fiction thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

Serpent Moon-C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp

Serpent Moon
C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
Tor, Mar 2 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765364258

The Sazi still struggle with understanding alpha werewolf Eric Thompson’s howling skill that somehow interferes with airwaves; his problem is though he can do it, he is unable to control his howling talent. Recently converted by a horrific assault into a Sazi, Holly Sanchez becomes a healer and is sent to the Outback to find Eric by Wolven

However, she has learned that a Sazi relatives support group plans to use an elixir on the werewolves that will return them to Homo sapiens. At the same time the scheme to resurrect Marduc the snake goddess is nearing fruition. Holly and Eric team up to prevent two probable tragedies from occurring.

This is a great entry in the Tales of the Sazi mythos as Marduc arrives on the scene seemingly invincible. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as previously secondary character Holly proves she with the Canadian wolf can hold an exhilarating story line together in Colorado. With no time to catch a breath once the lead couple meets in the Outback, readers will fully relish the latest Sazi romantic urban fantasy as nothing less than love and saving the world at the same time is at stake.

Harriet Klausner