Friday, April 30, 2010

Who Fears Death-Nnedi Okorafor

Who Fears Death
Nnedi Okorafor
Daw, Jun 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756406172

The world may have been shattered by a nuclear holocaust, but mankind continues to fight one another; just on a smaller scale. In post-nuclear Sahara, genocide is the norm as the followers of the Great Book ethnically cleanse the region. Thus the Nuru believing God is on their side, hunt and eradicate the Okeke. In one village, the lone survivor is raped by the exterminators. She escapes into the desert eventually giving birth to a girl who the mom knows is unique. Using an ancient forgotten African language she names her offspring (from the brutal sexual assault) Onyesonwu, "Who Fears Death".

As a shaman raises Onyesonwu, the genocide continues unabated. However, new hope arises amidst the embattled Okeke that a savior has come. Onyesonwu has been learning about her magical power to end the murderous cleansing. However, she must study evil to understand evil before she can sacrifice herself in death so that the Okeke can live.

Using a futuristic fantasy base, Nnedi Okorafor provides a great but grim realistic drama that focuses on genuine problems in Africa today. Through the escapades of the heroine, the story line disturbingly examines ethnic and religious cleansing, racism, sexism, female genital mutilation and sex slavery as humanity is inhumane to each other. Who Fears Death is superb as Ms. Okorafor provides a powerful post apocalyptic thriller with strong ramifications in today’s on the Eve of Destruction world.

Harriet Klausner

The Ambassador’s Mission-Trudi Canavan

The Ambassador’s Mission
Trudi Canavan
Orbit, May 18 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316037839

The Magicians’ Guild had always feared that one day during their annual sweeps for rogues that a commoner with untrained power would surface. Their worst trepidations occurred when Sonea the commoner displayed talent. She was quickly brought into the Magicians' Guild, but her ancestry made her a pariah until she has become a Black Magician of Kyralia with one foot tentatively inside the ruling Guild establishment and the other deeply embedded in her heritage.

Her son is a chip off the rebellious block, but more volatile than his mother. Lorkin resents the bias towards him and his family. Thus Lorkin joins the support team of powerful Lord Dannyl who is Guild Ambassador to the enemy Sachaka for two reasons. First he wants to get away from the prejudice shown to commoner mages and second he hopes to influence behavior in a place run by abusive black magicians with slaves. No one in Imardin trust the Sachakans whose belief is that the Black Magicians should rule the world and those of Sachaka should rule the Black Magicians. When Sonea learns Lorkin vanished, she fears for her offspring, but knows if she leaves the city she cannot return as that is Guild law. She promised her concerned friend Cery to investigate a recent slew of homicides as a serial killer using magic as a weapon assassinates the leaders of the Thieves Guild though no one knows why or who, but Sonea has some internal fears about what she will learn.

The latest Black Magician fantasy is a super tale filled with several great twists that make the second tale in the prequel saga (see The Magicians Apprentice) a standout. The story line is fast-paced with two well written prime subplots starring mom and son. This is a terrific magical whodunit where mom the Black Magician amateur sleuth investigates the killings and readers are shown a deep look at the culture of magically dominated Sachaka as seen through the lens of the missing son. The audience will relish this strong entry into the world of Trudi Canavan.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Palace of Impossible Dreams-Jennifer Fallon

The Palace of Impossible Dreams
Jennifer Fallon
Tor, Jun 22 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765316844

Intrepid but obstinate Arkady remains married to Stellan, the heir to the Kingdom of Glaeba, but their relationship for practical purposes is in name only. She focuses on one issue; destroying the immortal nasty Tide Lords, who have one objective: rule the world.

Arkady’s strongest ally in her attempt to end the Tide Lords constant intrigue is spymaster Declan Hawkes; though his prime motive for supporting her is not altruistic but instead he admires and desires Arkady. Ergo he tries one failed attempt after another to bring down the Tide Lords. At the same time, Declan stubbornly makes his tries to win Arkady by defeating her enemy; ironically his rival for his lady is not her husband but Tide Lord Cayal who courts Arkady while also considering suicide if an immortal can kill himself; as he sees her as his only anchor to live. Inside the Time Lord haven, their human-beast slaves the Crasii plot revolt from their masters as they want freedom.

The third Tide Lords fantasy (see The Immortal Prince) is an engaging entry although as with The Gods of Amyrantha the overarching theme does not move forward very much. The story line is loaded with subplots in which the best ones involve the big power control schemes of the three prime groups competing for dominance. Some fluff events especially in the harem feel more of a detractor, but the fascination remains with comparing the mortals, the human-beasts and the immortals as they share so much in common yet continue as enemies because each wants to own the world. Fans of the saga will enjoy the return to the Fallon mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Super Human-Michael Carroll

Super Human
Michael Carroll
Philomel, May 13 2010, $16.99
ISBN: 9780399252976

Five millennia ago, the Super Human Krodin became the ruler of Egypt. He literally led his army against the powerful Assyrians destroying the enemy as he could read minds and possessed strength beyond a hundred mortals. After Assyria, other nations fell to Krodin’s might.

In the present, the populace become ill in a horrific pandemic outburst. The Helotry has begun its plot for world domination with spreading a disease and bringing Krodin to modern times as their adulated leader who will be dictator of earth. An insurgency surfaces that seems laughable; but shockingly they gain victories over the Helotry. This small group thwarting the powerful Helotry is teens with superpowers led by telekinetic Roz Dalton.

This is an entertaining save the world thriller that pays homage to the Teen Titans of DC. Action-packed throughout, young adult readers will relish the teenage heroes battling the ruthless villains while their parents are ailing. Although the villains fail to live up to their reputation as callous and cold-bloodedly cruel (no Joker in the pack) and a romance seems more of a requirement (pet peeve of mine –others might like the relationship sidebar), this is a fun good superhero vs. bad supervillains.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Office of Shadow-Matt Sturges

The Office of Shadow
Matt Sturges
PYR, Jun 22 2010, $16.00
ISBN 9781616142025

Womanizer Silverdun shocks anyone who knows him when he becomes a priest. However, being a man of the cloth proves tedious as all he hears is whining confessions. When the Seelie leadership asks him to serve as a lead espionage field agent of the newly approved (by Queen Tatiana) top secret department Office of Shadow who will perform functions that go against the kingdom’s value system like using psyops techniques including blackmail, extortion, and abduction to cause unrest amongst the enemy or stealing Unseelie secrets; he agrees.

However, he is put off by his new employer’s demand he receive training in combat skills; mundane and magical. Ennui settles in until he is teamed up with soldier-magic academic researcher Ironfoot, and deadly almost out of control Sela the empath on a dangerous impossible mission. Their mission is to learn the origin of Einswrath, the weapon of mass destruction that Queen Mab and her Unseelie forces apparently are deploying in what will lead to a second battle in the Seelie-Unseelie war (see Midwinter).

This is a typical espionage thriller and a typical quest fantasy, but brilliantly combined into an atypical espionage fantasy. The Office of Shadow has selected the right person to lead the charge while his teammates bring diverse but needed skills to the table. Fast-paced and filled with plenty of action , yet clearly character driven by the band of three and their cohorts, readers will relish the second Seelie-Unseelie dispute as both sides approve anything goes tactics.

Harriet Klausner

The Office of Shadow-Matt Sturges

The Office of Shadow
Matt Sturges
PYR, Jun 22 2010, $16.00
ISBN 9781616142025

Womanizer Silverdun shocks anyone who knows him when he becomes a priest. However, being a man of the cloth proves tedious as all he hears is whining confessions. When the Seelie leadership asks him to serve as a lead espionage field agent of the newly approved (by Queen Tatiana) top secret department Office of Shadow who will perform functions that go against the kingdom’s value system like using psyops techniques including blackmail, extortion, and abduction to cause unrest amongst the enemy or stealing Unseelie secrets; he agrees.

However, he is put off by his new employer’s demand he receive training in combat skills; mundane and magical. Ennui settles in until he is teamed up with soldier-magic academic researcher Ironfoot, and deadly almost out of control Sela the empath on a dangerous impossible mission. Their mission is to learn the origin of Einswrath, the weapon of mass destruction that Queen Mab and her Unseelie forces apparently are deploying in what will lead to a second battle in the Seelie-Unseelie war (see Midwinter).

This is a typical espionage thriller and a typical quest fantasy, but brilliantly combined into an atypical espionage fantasy. The Office of Shadow has selected the right person to lead the charge while his teammates bring diverse but needed skills to the table. Fast-paced and filled with plenty of action , yet clearly character driven by the band of three and their cohorts, readers will relish the second Seelie-Unseelie dispute as both sides approve anything goes tactics.

Harriet Klausner

Spooky Little Girl-Laurie Notaro

Spooky Little Girl
Laurie Notaro
Villard, Apr 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780345510976

Lucy Fisher was looking forward to her vacation in Hawaii, hocking her life to be able to go. The dream vacation was a disappointment. When she comes home, she finds her possessions all over the lawn as her fiancé Martin tossed them randomly out the door. Bad comes in three as Lucy learns when her boss accuses her of trying to steal money and drugs before firing her. A stunned Lucy moves in with her sister Alice.

On her way to the unemployment office, Lucy learns what bad luck really is when a bus runs her over. Now she is a student at Ghost School where if she completes her assignment she will move into the State of after-death. Lucy diligently applies herself as she wants to go back to earth not so much as to haunt her former fiancé, but to learn why he kicked her to the curb and why no one, not even her sister or the bus driver attended her funeral. Only Tulip seems to miss her.

This clever paranormal chick lit is a fun tale though the serio-comic story line never turns as profound as it could have been; opting more for a winking jocularity that in some ways will remind readers of the movie Over her Dead Body. The beleaguered heroine is likable so that fans will root for her as grandma has made living in the State of the dead precarious for both of them and Lucy knows you only get one chance at it.

Harriet Klausner

Dragon Soul-Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Dragon Soul
Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Spectra (Bantam), Jun 8 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780553807691

The war (see Havemercy) is at least for now over as the two sides agree to a truce. However, neither the Volstov nor the Ke-Han trust one another. Both know it would not take much for hostilities to reignite as the magic weaving Volstov and the dark sorcery of Ke-Han remain diligently wary and weary.

Thom believes the tentative peace is a good time to bond with his despondent brother Rook. However, the grieving Rook, the most volatile yet successful warrior in the recent combat, has no interest in this or anything else. He still struggles with his Havemercy and the other great dragons dead; their bodies spread in small pieces across Ke-Han. Still he agrees to travel with Thom but the siblings are stunned to learn someone is paying good money to buy the remains of the fallen dragons. They soon realize that the beasts may be dead, but their magic lingers; in the wrong hands a new war could explode and there are several operatives seeking the means scattered all over Ke-Han.

Although somewhat different in tone than the great military fantasy Havemercy as that tale told the cost of a war on anyone within the sphere; this time the quest is less militarily epic for the most part but could turn rather quickly. The siblings are a terrific lead as Rook is a fierce warrior in aguish over the death of his equally feral dragon while Thom is a scholar who prefers to ride a book rather than a beast. Together, these opposites make for a strong saga as they follow the Marines’ credo of no one left behind in their search for the soul of Havemercy before enemies or allies possess the heart of the brave dragoness warrior.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blood Song-Cat Adams

Blood Song
Cat Adams
Tor, Jun 8 2010, $14.99
ISBN 9780765324948

Los Angeles bodyguard Celia Graves protects her wealthy clients from the supernatural. Currently she guards Prince Rezza of Rusland, a small kingdom in between Poland, Ukraine and Czechoslovakia. Natural gas has made the tiny nation strategically significant to the apoplexy of the Russians. They are ambushed by vampires with Celia bitten and anticipating death with her last thought being dying sucks.

However, she survives the biting assault, but has become an Abomination as she has been partially converted. Celia knows she must understand the limitations of her new powers and not assume anything. However, at the top of her list is execution of the vampire who transformed her or become his unwilling slave. As she learns more about her new nature, Celia realizes that a conspiracy of epic proportions is going on with her being expendable.

This is a superb political urban fantasy that will have readers believing in vampires, ghouls, demons and alas Abominations. Celia keeps the story line focused while she also lightens the dark tale with her amusing often darker asides. Although kick butt female Noir heroines are flooding the market, fans will appreciate Celia’s grave quest to kill her master before he either finishes the job by sucking her dry or enslaving her.

Harriet Klausner

The Machinery of Light-David J. Williams

The Machinery of Light
David J. Williams
Spectra, May 25 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780553385434

In 2110, the assassination of the American President Harrison leads to a military takeover of the United States. Ignoring the Treaty of Zurich of 2105, the American Generals seize an opportunity and quickly launch an attack against the Eurasian Alliance led by the Russians and Chinese in an attempt to destroy their space-aerial defenses. WW III has been lunched (See The Mirrored Heavens and The Burning Skies).

The Eurasian Alliance launches the top secret mega-spaceships to destroy the enemy and its fleet. Meanwhile the Autumn Rain commando unit begins a seemingly suicidal desperate maneuver on Luna just ahead of the Eurasian joint fleet but behind the squad’s creator. At the same time super cyborg Claire Haskell the Manilishi post-human implements the programming of her designer-creator Matthew Sinclair. He is several steps closer to achieving his goal as he has deployed project Armageddon.

Fasten your seat belts as the latest dystopian military science fiction thriller starts at hyperspeed and accelerates from there. The action overwhelms the key characters, but no one (except bewildered stunned first time riders) will care as The Machinery of Light is an exhilarating action-packed futuristic twister in which reality is blurred at best. Readers will appreciate David J. Williams’ fast-paced but extremely grim twenty-second century earth-moon sphere of operations.

Harriet Klausner

Distant Thunders-Taylor Anderson

Distant Thunders
Taylor Anderson
Roc, Jun 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9780451463333

The reptilian Grik continue their assault using any sort of mass weapons of destruction against the Lemurians whose strongest supporter are the dimensionally displaced U.S. Navy Captain Matt Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker. The American navy desperately is trying to move forward the Bronze Age Lemurians into at least an Industrial Age and preferably past that too especially with their ship badly devastated in the last encounter (see Maelstrom). That is the only hope for the allies against the overwhelming superiority of the invading Grik.

Reddy and his unit make some progress using paddle-wheel steam frigates developed in New Britain as the Americans free cities in the west from the previously invincible conquerors and give new hope to their allies. However when word reaches Reddy that the enemy has captured New British Princess Rebecca Anne McDonald, he rushes back east on the renovated USS Walker to mount a rescue of a key symbol.

The latest Destroyermen science fiction thriller, Distant Thunders, is an action-packed entry with strong relevant moral questions about the rules of combat engagement running throughout the adrenalin pumping story line. Reddy ponders whether negotiations with a species apparently seeking genocide are feasible as the enemy seems resistant to a peaceful solution although the displaced hero recognizes some of the beliefs on both sides may be bogeyman propaganda. He also wonders whether are any weapons of mass destruction include biological, chemical or nuclear in their arsenal that will be used especially on the brink of perhaps extinction acceptable? Taylor Anderson is one of the best at military science fiction as his plots combine cerebral thought provoking issues within a great adventure tale; the alternate realm of the Destroyermen saga is worth the journey.

Harriet Klausner

Darkling Fields of Arvon-James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc

Darkling Fields of Arvon
James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc
Baen, May 11 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781439133538

The world of Ahn Norvys is turning increasingly dark as a tyrant runs the nation with an evil iron hand. The serenity and prosperity of the Harmonic Age of King Ardiel is practically over.

The only hope of dethroning the usurper and returning to the affluence of the Harmonic Age rests with the recently deigned High Bard Kalaquinn Wright and his rebellious band of miscreants. However, though he keeps the faith in what hew must do, Kal has doubts as he feels he is too young for the mantle of savior and his team too odd to succeed against the growing malevolence sweeping across the land. Still they know what must be done and set out to do so in spite of their lack of confidence. They seek the missing rightful heir to the ancient throne the missing Prince of Starigan and relight the Sacred Fire. To achieve this they must first find the Talamadh magical harp that maintains the peace across Arvon.

The second entry in the Legacy of the Stone Harp (see The Stoneholding) is an entertaining quest fantasy that sub-genre fans will fully enjoy. The story line offers nothing new and the champions are never fully developed beyond their fear of failure. Yet Kal and company are likable with their youthful energy at times leading to mistakes but also surmounting their deficiency in experience and belief in themselves. Darkling Fields of Arvon will hook the reader throughout as it is a fun tale in which the audience will join Kal and his team on the save the world mission.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Magic Bleeds-Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds
Ilona Andrews
Ace, May 25 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441018529

Kate Daniels pays her lost bet to the Beast Lord Curran with a meal she prepares. However, when he fails to collect, Kate becomes outraged by his affront and humiliated as she wanted to see him. Fuming, she declares war on Curran; leading to not talking, emailing or twittering one another.

However, a truce is needed when a “Steel Mary” plague carrier arrives in Atlanta planning to kill shapeshifters; collateral damage of the innocent being acceptable. The Order of Merciful Aid assigns Kate to hunt down the lethal Steel Mary using whatever force is necessary to end the deadly plague. However, as Kate, with Curran’s reluctant help, closes in on the deadly visitor, she fears she knows who macabre murdering Mary is.

The latest marvelous “Magic” urban fantasy (see Magic Bites, Magic Burns, and Magic Strikes) is a terrific entry filled with a deadly dangerous inquiry balanced by jocular domestic pandemonium. Kate is kissable and killable as she works the Steel Mary plague case as well as her personal hostility with Curran. She and readers will wonder which side is the more dangerous combat to the heroine as Ilona Andrews provides another powerful Magical Mystery Tour of Atlanta.

Harriet Klausner

From Hell With Love-Simon R. Green

From Hell With Love
Simon R. Green
Roc, Jun 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451463326

Eddie Drood reflects on the changes in his life since becoming family head as he wallows is self pity, but sill leads the charge of protecting humanity from creatures mankind prefers to pretend do not exist. The ingrates treat the Droods like mental lepers. Currently Eddie’s prime assignment as the temp in charge is to discover who killed his predecessor the family Matriarch though he knows the Drood broods bet on either him or his girlfriend Molly to figure it ouh; Eddie’s wager is on Molly as he knows he did not kill the old hag.

Eddie attends a minor auction of priceless magical artifacts when Doctor Delirium steals and escapes with the Apocalypse Door. The portal can be used to enable the denizens of hell to enter this world. Eddie must prevent this from happening because once the beasts cross, it will prove impossible to end the apocalypse. However, he soon concludes that diabolical dastardly Doctor Delirium decrees death to Droods so he and his violent volatile malevolent allies can cross over and destroy the world.

The fourth Secret Histories save the earth urban fantasy (see The Spy Who Haunted Me, The Man With The Golden Torc and Daemons Are Forever) is a fun thriller; as Eddie raps to the only person who listens to him (himself) and that Kermit is almost right as it is not easy being Drood. The story line is fast-paced in spite of a series of battles that have an interchangeable sameness feel to them. However, it is Eddie’s introspection on Marmalade Reflections of My Life that make for a deep satirical spin skewing espionage and supernatural thrillers as only a Drood could and would.

Harriet Klausner

Insatiable-Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot
Morrow, Jun 8 2010, $22.99
ISBN: 9780061735066

In New York, Meena Harker writes scripts for the soap opera Insatiable. She enjoys her work and is diligent with hopes to obtain a promotion. However, she is hurt when the boss selects Shoshona Metzenbaum the 00 sized treadmill walker with family connections like super director aunt and uncle for the position. Things get even worse when Shoshona directs Meena to write a vampire storyline for the TV show. Having the “gift” of sight that enables her to see who will shortly die; Meena detests the vampire craze and especially loathes her soap following the parade not leading it.

In the apartment building where she lives with her brother and Jack the dog Meena meets Romanian Prince Lucien, who is visiting neighbors. She likes the fact that for the first time she has encountered a person whose death she cannot foresee. However as she falls in love with the sophisticated East European Meena is unaware of why she fails to be able to foresee his death; the reason being he is dead as befitting the offspring of Dracula and is in town due to his being the ruler of the vampire community.

This is a jocular tongue in cheek urban fantasy romance that takes a bite out of the sensual vampire craze. Closer to George Hamilton than Bella Lugosi or Christopher Lee, Insatiable is an amusing lampooning of the craze that those who would dine on us care about us as equals not cattle. Although at times the verbiage turns verbose as if Meg Cabot targets the Princess Diaries crowd rather than the older audience this story line is fun and readers will enjoy her humorous Love At First Bite romantic comedic satire.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stealing Fire-Jo Graham

Stealing Fire
Jo Graham
Orbit, May 25 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316076395

The Macedonian world conqueror is dead and his strongest supporters struggle with what to do in the aftermath as Alexander the Great was a man of epic proportions. Lydias of Macedon was with Alexander as he defeated all opponents, but he learns quickly that nothing will be the same as he leaves behind his ruler’s corpse fleeing for his life.

Lydias joins the side of one of Alexander’s top officers, General Ptolemy, who heads to Egypt to take control of the African nation. In country, Lydias meets other expatriates who pledge loyalty to Ptolemy. However, the Macedonian is shocked from those who come from beyond as the dead and the gods abet the general and his supporters in bringing Alexander’s corpse and spirit to Egypt as his final resting place. However the biggest stunner for the honest Lydias is what Isis bestows on him.

This is a great ancient historical fantasy that brings to life the era just after Alexander’s sudden death within a strong Egyptian mythos. Diogenes would have ended his search if he met Lydias who with a strong support cast serves as the center of the story line even as the real General Ptolemy begins a dynasty in Egypt. Stealing Fire is a terrific BC Egyptian thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chaos Bites-Lori Handeland

Chaos Bites
Lori Handeland
St. Martin’s, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312366032

Her dead lover Navaho Skinwalker Sawyer, whom she killed, (see Apocalypse Happens) visits Liz Phoenix every time she dozes off. His nocturnal appearances gives her hope she may be able to raise him from the dead though she has no idea how to bring him back to her and his shapeshifting baby that she is raising and protecting from malevolent forces.

Liz turns to her acrimonious former lover Jimmy Sanducci to help her find a magical tome protected by spells and beasts who no one in their right mind would want to encounter or tangle with. Her job of keeping the baby safe makes their mission all the more difficult. Their trek is dangerous as there are many things out there that prefer the end of the world.

The latest Phoenix Chronicles (see Doomsday Can Wait and Any Given Doomsday) is an exhilarating urban fantasy as the prime triangle continues their escapades with Sawyer reaching out to his beloved from the grave. Fast-paced throughout, the aptly titled Chaos Bites is a great run through a gauntlet of death as apocalypse now continues to happen overwhelming the heroine who also has a baby to contend with (shades of Willow).The Haviland mythos is creative and a great place for readers to visit.

Harriet Klausner

Speak To The Devil- Dave Duncan

Speak To The Devil
Dave Duncan
Tor May 25 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765323477

On the world Dobtov, the power of the nobles is fading due to a rise of nationalism and growing technology replacing magic as obsolescent. Still many of the aristocracy like those in Jorgany retain power and use mercenaries to add to their own soldiers when battles take place

Cardinal Zdenek orders Lancer Anton Magnus to come see him immediately. Anton is fearful that he may be accused of heresy for a ruse he arranged with his brother Wulfgang pretending to use magic or trysting with married aristocrats. Anton is not a fool to leave the Cardinal waiting so he quickly leaves the warm embrace of Baroness Nadezda Radovan to ride helter smelter to see what the powerful Cardinal demands of him.

Fearing an invasion from the Wends, Zdenek shocks the Lancer when he offers him an earldom Cardice through marriage to the previous late lord’s daughter Madlenka if he takes charge of the strategic fortress Castle Gallant and thwarts the invaders. Ironically the opportunity was made by the Cardinal because he believes Anton is a magic practitioner. He does not correct Zdenek’s misconception, but instead Anton discusses the situation with Wulfgang, who encourages him to take command of the fortress and the people; anything else would leave him with a powerful enemy rather than a powerful supporter.

Although Dave Duncan places his saga on planet Dobtov, the author makes his setting appear to be medieval Europe though he imagines a new nation in the midst of a tumultuous period of dramatic change. As technology has begun to supersede magic and altering religious belief systems as a consequence, the Speakers remain hidden in plain sight and still talk with saints or the devil depending on which dogma they believe in but Wulf believes it is the Saints who help him travel through limbo and gives him certain powers that the Church believes are Satanic. The changing of the old guard refreshes the tale. Anton is the focus of the story line, but Wulfgang steals the show as a seventeen year old in love with his new sister-on-law and recognized as a powerful Speaker by many, which places his life in jeopardy. Mr. Duncan showcases his world-building, character development and plot creativity in this entertaining fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Glimmerglass-Jenna Black

Jenna Black
St. Martin’s Griffin, May 25 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312575939

One has to travel to London to reach Avalon; the only place where Faerie and the mortal realms converge. It is a sovereign nation similar to how the Vatican is its own country within Rome. Mortals can journey to Avalon but not the Faerie who can only remain in Avalon. Magic and technology work in Avalon but only the latter works in the human realm.

Dana Hathaway is the sixteen year old child of an alcoholic who keeps her daughters away from Avalon and her father. Finally Dana gets so disgusted with her mother’s behavior; she enters Faeirie to meet her father Seamus for the first time. When she arrives she learns her father is in jail and her Aunt Grace kidnaps her. Two Faerie siblings, Ethan and Kimber, rescue Dana but they too have their own agenda. They realize she is a Faeriewalker, who can traverse both worlds, which according to her dad when they meet makes her a powerful weapon and brings about a strong interest by all residents of Avalon. Ethan’s father, Grace and Seamus want to be the next Consul and Grace would be a great weapon in anyone's arsenal. Where she lives impacts faerie politics as Dana must be protected from those who want to use her and those who want to kill her.

Young adult readers who enjoy the fantasies of the Cast team or that Alyson Noel will relish Glimmerglass. Jenna Black spellbinds and enthralls her readers who initially like the heroine, want to know why Dana’s mom fears her daughter’s sire she became an alcoholic, drinking and relocating all the time to elude his reach. After meeting him and better understanding the realm of magical politics, fans will remain enthralled as Dana starts to understand what motivates the paternal side of her family. She trusts no one to protect her interests. With a strong climax and more to follow, fans will want to follow the adventures of the teenage Faeriewalker.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ghosts of Manhattan-George Mann

Ghosts of Manhattan
George Mann
Pyr, Apr 27 2010, $16.00
ISBN 9781616141943

In 1926 Queen Victoria has just died but the Cold War between her kingdom and America remains heated. Violence in the big cities of the United States is rampant as the Twenties are Roaring with murders. In that wake the Ghost walks the city streets of Manhattan with a vengeance. He kills people employed by mobster Roman whose Italian-American gang is particularly known for their brutality and violence. The vigilante’s calling card is an ancient Roman coin left on the eyes of those he murders.

Police detective Felix Donovan is well aware of the Roman mob and the vigilante who stalks them. Each in his belief are criminals. However, though he would prefer to bring Roman and the Ghost to justice, he makes little headway. Meanwhile as the Ghost closes in on Roman, the vigilante learns first hand his adversary is using paranormal connections and fears the end game is to bring a deadly God into the city.

Although comic book gory over the top of the Empire State Building, Ghosts of Manhattan is an entertaining superhero steampunk fantasy that will remind the audience of Darkman. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Ghost stalks Roman’s legion and never slows down until the climax with half of Manhattan at stake. Although the plot never quite decides between lampooning the two sub-genres and action thriller, readers will enjoy the High Noon over New York war between the vigilante and the mobster with eerie connections.

Harriet Klausner

The Left Hand Of God-Paul Hoffman

The Left Hand Of God
Paul Hoffman
Dutton, Jun 15 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525951315

The fundamentalist true believers of The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp receive young male orphans rejected by society who does not want to know what goes on behind the closed faculty; not that anyone would dare. Most of the boys fail to make it through the endless verbal and physical abusive methods to indoctrinate the children with the true faith and turn them into holy warriors of God. Those who miraculously survive the ordeal do so not because they turn to faith, but because they become psychopathic liars who fool their brutal instructors that they turned to faith.

Three surviving so farstudents Cale, Kleist and Vague Henri explore the endless Sanctuary when they come across a Redeemer surgically slicing up a living female while another waits her turn. Stunned, the trio attacks the Redeemer, freeing the female in the queue Riba. Cale enables the foursome to escape from Sanctuary; leading the band to Memphis; a city-state ruled by the Materazzi knights. With no status, the quartet is the lowest on the local social system even after Cale proves his combat skills. However, the Redeemers attack Memphis.

The medieval background for the most part is limited to the warrior caste system; yet the teens in flight or fight mode make for an entertaining tale. The story line is fast-paced predominantly owned by cunning and captivating Cale who is the prince of liars as he proves his worth as a fighter yet knows instinctively when to flee. His traveling companions provide support as they face abuse from the Redeemers and disdain from the residents of Memphis. Although a few seemingly key subplots seem to vanish without a resolution, readers will relish the coming of age saga of an accomplished sociopathic warrior.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Twice Dead-Kalayna Price

Twice Dead
Kalayna Price
Bell Bridge Books, Feb 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9780984325672

Shapeshifter Kita Nekai has not adapted to her new diet very well as a Bloody Mary can only go so far. She remains irate with Nathanial for changing her need to that of liquid ever since he sank two fangs into her and dined. The worst of being Once Bitten is stuck in one crappy shape though her shifting was slightly less formidable than her peers; she used to turn into a cute kitty while most of those she grew up with were lions, tigers, and oh my.

During a gala for a visiting Vampire Council VIP that she is directed to attend, Kita stumbles upon a headless dancer corpse. Apparently several more powerful vampires than her “sire” covet her. As more headless bodies and bodiless heads have her tripping, the local master decides to rid himself of the competition by simply killing Nathaniel; she offers herself willingly if the Master allows an irate jealous Nathanial to live. Finally there is the ancient Collector who wants like Barnum to add the oddity of a shapeshifter turned vampiress to his collection. Life as an undead is so complex living.

The second Kitty Kat blood-lit tale is a fun urban fantasy starring a likable heroine who wants to purr over a chocolate shake not suck someone’s blood. Ironically she needed protection as a Were and she needs protection as a vamp; cute just does not cut it in either community. Readers will enjoy her survival techniques in an entertaining lighthearted frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Chimera-Rob Thurman

Rob Thurman
Roc, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9780451463425

A decade ago someone kidnapped young Lukas Korsak. The lad just disappeared from sight with no ransom or any demand. His family grieved their loss as the assumption was he was murdered.

Lukas’s older brother Stefan has never forgotten his sibling. Working for the Russian Mafia, he still searches for Lukas when he can. Following a lead, he assaults a top secret human laboratory that brainwashes and genetically modifies kids turning them into lethal assassins. There Stefan finds a teen who looks identically like Lukas adding ten years of maturity to the mental image the mobster has maintained. Freeing the teen, they flee from the facility’s leader who sends a horde of transformed young trained killers after them.

Using technology rather than supernatural as the means of conversion, Rob Thurman provides a strong, faster than a speeding Flash thriller. Intriguing that both brothers are killers; yet the older one trusts their DNA and shared past while the younger sibling distrusts everyone as he has been thoroughly brainwashed so that his instincts are to kill regardless of collateral damage. Readers will relish this tale of brotherly love as Stefan tries to save his brother from what the Madhouse did to him, but soon believes he will be Abel to Lukas’ Cain.

Harriet Klausner

The Time Weaver-Shana Abe

The Time Weaver
Shana Abe
Bantam, Jun 1 2010, $23.00
ISBN 9780553806861

In 1782 Drakon clan member Honor Carlisle cannot explain why she has always felt like an outsider. That is until the letter arrives that explains all to her. The sender is Honor and the receiver is also Honor. Eleven months four days into the future Honor Carlisle sent back the explanatory note that claims she is a Time Weaver, the only one born to the Drakon.

The letter warns her to leave her home Darkfirth or die. Heeding the advice of her future self, she flees to Spain and begins to practice time weaving that enables her to move into the past and future with strict rules of physics that her uncanny ability cannot break. However, she is attracted to a Drakon from a rival sect Prince Alexandru of Zaharen. They are soulmates, but destiny proclaims their love deadly to the Drakon; in 1782 she is trying to save her dragon shifting people while in the future she is destroying her dragon shifting people.

The latest Drakon romantic fantasy (see Queen of Dragons and The Treasure Keeper) is a super thriller with a brilliant refreshing time travel twist of having the same person as heroine and villainess. Honor is terrific in the dual roles as she comes across as real in both eras. Although the climax feels off kilter for this deep character driven entry (read to understand why), Shana Abe provides her audience with a great novel.

Harriet Klausner

The Passage-Justin Cronin

The Passage
Justin Cronin
Ballantine, Jun 8 2010, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345504968

Another major hurricane has turned New Orleans and the surrounding gulf into a dead zone. The war on terrorism is failing as the enemy recruits faster than the Americans and their puppeteers can kill them. Other futile fronts leave the only superpower teetering.

In the Amazon rainforest, a miracle has been found; a viral that can turn a good soldier into a Captain America super soldier. Those selected as guinea pigs fail to become Captain America; instead the scientists ignored the side effect of them becoming blood sucking super killers. FEMA declares an emergency and begins warehousing people inside safety zones. America and the world need a superhero before human extinction occurs. In that mode arises thirteen years old shy Amy Harper Bellafonte living in a nunnery. She is mankind’s only hope as places like The Colony find their technological defenses failing with the super monsters chomping outside the gates.

Jumping into the Stoker side of vampire tales, The Passage is a terrific horror thriller that paints a grim futuristic atmosphere. Humans survive behind electronic barriers while the man-made super monsters own the streets. That grim picture controls much of the exciting story line with a neat spin of the heroic John Wayne type being a reticent young teenage “Joan Wayne”. Providing a cautionary underlying theme with a nod to Pogo’s “we have met the enemy and they are us”, Justin Cronin paints a gloomy viral red future; yet with a slight optimism as the Zager and Evans song In the Year 2525 says: “now man’s reign is through but through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight …”

Harriet Klausner

Dog Blood-David Moody

Dog Blood
David Moody
Dunne, Jun 8 2010, $23.95
ISBN: 9780312532888

The world as we know it no longer exists. The human race is divided into two distinct camps: the Unchanged and the Haters. The latter are people ripped of all social restraints and must kill the Unchanged. Their goal is an Unchanged genocide. The Haters have caused governments to collapse destroying the infrastructure of every nation. They still can think but obsess over killing the Unchanged even family members.

Danny McCoyne is a Hater who hunts the Unchanged without mercy. His goal is to find his daughter Ellis who was taken away from him when he was knocked unconscious after killing his father-in-law. Before he passed out, he saw her and knows she is just like him. The government has relocated the Unchanged inside cities filled with traps like a medieval fortress. Danny falls in with a group that seeks the same destruction as he does. He learns to control his homicidal impulses so he can enter the city because his Ellis is there.

This intelligent apocalyptic chiller is a fantastic horror tale that continues the escapades of the Haters, who are a zombie like humanoids. The species cannot control their basic impulse to slaughter the Unchanged though Danny tries as his love for Ellis supersedes his instinct to kill. Though lacking the cautionary theme of its predecessor, but with the same moody dark atmosphere and a strange flicker of paternal love and hope, Dog Blood is a terrific zombie thriller that affirms David Moody as a strong talent.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ares Express-Ian McDonald

Ares Express
Ian McDonald
Pyr, Apr 27 2010, $16.00
ISBN 9781616141974

On Mars, Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th dreams of replacing her father as the Engineer of the Catherine of Tharsis train. However, she also knows of the gender ban as females are prohibited from driving trains. Now eight Martian years old, her family arranges her marriage to a Stuard clan, who drive a different train.

Headstrong, Sweetness rejects wedding the Stuard lad. Knowing her options is saying I do or running away, Sweetness flees her train home accompanied by Serpio Waymender of a lower caste clan as they only are a trackbuilding group. Her clan is disgraced and she is subject to execution for humiliating them amidst the train driving families. The runaways cross the desert seeking Devastation Harx, the leader of a mail-order religious clan living on an airship; the sect apparently has the sprit of Sweetness’ dead twin sister “captured”. However, her late sibling “Little Pretty One” is nothing like she expected and Sweetness learns the meaning of betrayal as Harx has plans for the twin to gain control over the angels who control the Martian climate. At the same her Grandmother Taal searches for her Sweetness.

The sequel to Desolation Road is a superb Martian thriller that reads more like a fantasy than a science fiction. The courageous obstinate heroine is terrific as she holds the fascinating but convoluted story line together while making a journey through all types of alternate Martian landscapes. Fans will relish Ares Express although keep the plausibility meter in the drawer as at times the plot goes over the top of Olympus Mons.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Magician’s Quest-Mary Cunningham

The Magician’s Quest
Mary Cunningham
Quake, Dec 2009, $10.99
ISBN: 9781590806562

Cynthia remains in 1914 while her BFF Gus got back to 1964 but with Annie who is from the WWI era (see Curse pf the Bayou). The two BFFs separated by five decades hope to work out the switch soonest while receiving messages from the past in Cynthia’s grandmother Mama Clara’s trunk located in her mom’s attic. However, shopkeeper Linus Carson buys the items in the attic and sells the trunk to Sebastien the Great magician.

Sebastien’s fiancée Kathryn vanished into the past through that magic portal.. He has been working an incantaation from the Book of Spells, but a key page is missing. He demands Cynthia and Gus help him or the will destroy the former’s family financially.

This is an exciting elementary school age fantasy as the BFFs do their magic in three eras: 1914 with the help of Sebastien's grandmother; 1964 with the help of Cynthia’s grandma, and in 2014 with the help of (read the book) as can 1814 be far behind or is that ahead. Fast-paced, readers will ponder how the two time travelers will bring forward the third time traveler and return to her time Annie. Complicated fun, fans will appreciate the adventures past, present and future of the two tweeners as time is running out on them.

Harriet Klausner

Marked-Elisabeth Naughton

Elisabeth Naughton
Love Spell, Apr 27, 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528223

When her grandmother succumbed to cancer, waitress Acacia "Casey" Simopolus felt all alone as she has no known blood relative left in the world. She becomes afraid when she notices some of the same symptoms in her.

A migraine drives Casey from her work as a waitress at a strip joint. Driving home, she intervenes when large animals assault a male human. Casey helps the victim, Theron, who heals rapidly from the injuries he received during the attack. Theron conceals from his angel that he is a guardian from Argolea, who protects his world from the evil ones trying to destroy it. He also hides his mission from her. His dying King Leonidas sent him to bring Casey to his world in order to save the ailing heir Princess Isadora. Attracted to the earthling, Theron fears he must choose between sacrificing his soul mate or his people, as Princess Isadora lives if Casey dies and dies if Casey lives.

The latest Eternal Guardians Greek mythos romantic fantasy (see Stolen Fury and Stolen Seduction) is an incredible tale starring a complex woman and a convoluted confused champion who understands first hand Prometheus’ options as doing the right thing is not simple or easy. Readers will enjoy this entry that focuses on loyalty and love in relationships as Theron must choose between his need and that of his people.

Harriet Klausner

Masked by Moonlight-Nancy Gideon

Masked by Moonlight
Nancy Gideon
Pocket, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9781439149638

Veteran NOPD Police Detective Charlotte “Cee Cee” Caissie works the homicide beat. Her current case involves a horrific mutilation murder that she ties to crime boss Jimmy Legere, whom she detests and hopes to destroy because she believes he killed her father.

Cee Cee digs deeper and concludes that Legere’s monstrous mob enforcer, Max Savoie knows more than he is revealing to her. Max has been attracted to the detective seemingly forever and even saved her from an abduction years ago. She has dreamed about her hero since the incident and he admits to her he is him after he saves her again. As they make love, she knows she may have stepped over the edge of the levees because he is caught the middle of her mutilation investigation while he knows he is torn between love and loyalty.

Masked by Moonlight is a complex romantic police procedural working an urban fantasy beat. The story line is filled with action, but character driven as the seemingly star-crossed lovers cross their respective barrier to each other. Nancy Gideon provides a taut paranormal thriller that sub-genre fans will relish and look forward to more investigations starring Cee Cee with Max the “Monster” figuratively having her back and literally her mind and body.

Harriet Klausner

Demon Hunts-C.E. Murphy

Demon Hunts
C.E. Murphy
Luna, Jun 2010, $14.95
ISBN 9780373803149

The Seattle area is terrorized by the Seattle Slaughter, a serial killer who dines on his victims; the latest one Charlie Groleski had his left arm eaten. Half-Cherokee, half-Irish Seattle police detective Joanne Walker fears the culprit is from beyond; perhaps a banshee or a wendigo.

She and her SPD psychic partner Billy Holliday investigates though the Urban Shaman would prefer not to work on the anniversary of her mom's death. However, the return of her mentor lover Coyote gives her hope as they team up to do a soul retrieval on her mom; but she is also afraid as she now realizes she must venture into the dangerous otherworldly Lower and Middle World to rescue the victims and combat the monster on his plane.

Book Five of the Walker Papers (see Walking Dead and Coyote Dreams) is an enjoyable urban fantasy police procedural as fans of the series will welcome back Coyote. Although the Seattle Slaughter fails to terrorize the readers, fans of the saga will appreciate the entry as Joanne’s Superior Morrison seems more adjusted to her paranormal skills and of course the return of Coyote.

Harriet Klausner

Dragonfly Falling-Adrian Tchaikovsky

Dragonfly Falling
Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pyr, Apr 27 2010, $16.00
ISBN 9781616141950

For generations, the methodical Wasp Empire has slowly conquered the Lowlands. Only recently has some enlightened members of the other species realize the perilous threat of the advancing Wasp horde.

Currently the Wasp army threatens Collegium, a city with a mix of opinions as the resistance is strong here and so are the deniers. Stenwold so far has failed to persuade the Collegium leadership that the Wasp threat endangers the city.

In Tark, Totho and Salma are arrested as spies by a fearful of strangers law enforcement officials who determine guilt based mainly on one’s status. They are released, but seemingly too late as the Wasp army has the city under siege.

This is a fascinating second tale (see Empire in Black and Gold) in a unique fantasy in which the world built by Adrian Tchaikovsky engages the audience. The strife is reminiscent of the Greco-Persan Wars (the movie 300 is one major battle) , but with the refreshing insectoid spin. Fans who appreciate something different in their military-social fantasies will want to read the strong Shadows of the Apt saga as a deep entrenched caste system struggles with survival since the invasion changes everything previously accepted as the divine order.
Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brains A Zombie Memoir-Robin Becker

Brains A Zombie Memoir
Robin Becker
Eos, May 25 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061974052

Stein the research scientist and his team work on creating the perfect human. However, before they achieve their goal, they activate the virus prematurely. Everything goes downhill from there as the zombie contagion spreads across the country.

Zombies attack college professor Jack Barnes and his wife; infecting them with the disease. As his body rots, he discovers a passion for dining on Brains as he can beautifully think at least for now. He recruits other special rotters like Guts, Joan, Annie, Ross and Eve to join him on a quest to find the perfect Brains; that of Stein the Creator who he believes will end the body erosion issue and rid them of the putrid smell problem that deodorant fails to hide.

Brains is a superb satirical zombie thriller as the quest to find God the Stein motivates Barnes and his cognitive thinking recruits. Lampooning societal core values, readers will enjoy the pilgrimage with stops at Wal-Mart, packaged food oasis, and religious shrines, as the team heads to “Mecca”; the lights of Chicago where the Stein (names matter) is reported to reside.

Harriet Klausner

Naamah’s Curse-Jacqueline Carey

Naamah’s Curse
Jacqueline Carey
Grand Central, Jun 14 2010, $26.99
ISBN 9780446198059

Follower of the Sex Goddess Naamah, Moirin leaves her homeland traveling across Tatar in search of Bao the Chin warrior she met and loved (see Naamah’s Kiss). He possesses half of her diadh-anam divine soul-spark. When she finds her soulmate following her treacherous trek, she learns to her chagrin he is married.

However, he is not just wed to anyone; his jealous wife is the daughter of the Great Khan. She wants the outsider as far away from her spouse so her father arranges to keep Moirin and his son-in-law apart. The Patriarch of Riva captures Moirin, but she escapes. However by the time she frees herself, Bao is gone on another quest; this time to the realm of the Spider Queen and her army of assassins.

The middle tale in the Naamah fantasy series is a terrific entry that surprisingly has major subplots ended, but leaves plenty for the finish. Moirin is a terrific lead protagonist as she is like a cocky great boxer who knows her superior talent will win all her fights; her ego has grown immensely because of her awareness of her destiny. Fast-paced, readers will fully appreciate the twists as Naamah’s Curse is a strong tale in the Kushiel Legacy saga.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the DreadfulsSteve Hockensmith, Jane Austen-

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Steve Hockensmith, Jane Austen
Quirk, Apr 2010, $12.95
ISBN: 9781594744549

Everyone knows that it is in bad form to leave in the middle of a funeral; it is even more distasteful when it is your funeral. However, Dreadful Mr. Ford no longer cares about the rules of Polite Society so he tries to walk out in his funeral. Thus teenager Elizabeth Bennet sees her first you know what; as saying that profane word is unacceptable.

Her father Mr. Bennet fought in the zombie war, but retired after the Dreadfuls were defeated. With their return, he trains his daughters in the use of the deadly arts. Jane is the most compassionate yet compliant while Elizabeth is the most excited, but alas not the best pupil as she prefers a direct application of force. As the new outbreak turns pandemic since the recently departed kept their heads, the Bennet brood and a hundred or so inexperienced rookies prepare for combat although Elizabeth is a bit distracted by several males including her warrior instructor, a scientist and an aristocrat. However, Elizabeth hardens her heart into that of a fighter although she and her sisters become outcasts as fighting is a man’s responsibility.

The latest over the top of Big Ben Jane Austen starring in another novel is an amusing zombie historical fantasy. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mr. Ford decides to leave his funeral and never slows down as heads are sliced in the zombie war. Readers will enjoy the teenage escapades of Jane (and her siblings) as she learns to fight zombies and living males in Steve Hockensmith’s zany prequel (see Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the writer has also starred in Ben H. Winters’ Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bound By Darkness-Annette McCleave

Bound By Darkness
Annette McCleave
Signet, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229762

Soul gatherer Brian Webster is not part of heaven or hell. Filled with remorse for failing his teen sister, instead he reaps souls from the dead praying that one day he will obtain redemption and move past his purgatorial existence.

Brian is attracted to a soul gathering peer Lena Sharpe. However, he is concerned with who she seems to hang out with as her recent sponsors are demons. Still he believes her heart is good. His heart insists Lena is pure, but her actions speaks otherwise as she gives Judas coins to those who join Satan; breaking Brian's heart. As he loses faith, she needs his belief to save their souls.

This Soul Gatherer fantasy (see Drawn Into Darkness) is a superb exhilarating thriller starring two intriguing individuals who are Bound by Darkness but love begins to shine a light in their respective hearts. Fast-paced yet character driven, readers will root for this couple to make it, but don’t bet the mortgage on it as she is trapped in a Faustian Deal and he must choose between saving the one he loves or many strangers; either selecting wrong condemns them for eternity.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon In Me-Michelle Rowen

The Demon In Me
Michelle Rowen
Berkley, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234686

Nervous Eden Riley starts her new consulting work for the Toronto police department. The psychic has vibes that lead her and skeptical police detective Ben Hansen to a serial killer with a knife who is shot to death near her. Out of the dead person's mouth oozes a dark smoke that hammers into Eden.

Stunned Eden is farther shocked when she hears a voice speaking to her from inside her brain. Darrak the demon has moved into her body with plans to fully possess it. Desperate to remove the demon, Eden tries an exorcism, but that fails. Instead she cuts a deal with Darrak. She will work on removing a three century old curse that haunts him if he assists her with her love life making it with Ben.

The Living in Eden first tale is an amusing psychic police procedural. Although the plot is thin, Eden more than makes up for it with her possession and vibes as she works her day job as a private sleuth seeking lost items and dogs, and her consulting with the police. Ironically her psychic skills humanize the demon so that Eden is also attracted to him. Readers who enjoy a fun frolic will want to read this entertaining Canadian paranormal mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Unholy Ghosts-Stacia Kane

Unholy Ghosts
Stacia Kane
Del Rey, May 25 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9780345515575

World-ruling Church of Real Truth field operative Chess Putnam travels to locations where claims of haunting are made. She usually exposes a sham as con artists work their trade but occasionally finds a real ghost that requires removal.

When Bump, the powerful drug dealer, calls in her massive debt she owes him, Chess has no choice but to agree. A drug addict, Chess heads to the abandoned Chester Airport where she finds a human sacrifice has led to a nasty powerful otherworldly essence much stronger than any she previously battled; one capable of stealing a myriad of souls. Worse, she uncovers a conspiracy to destroy the Church of Real Truth.

This is an intriguing ultra dark but fresh urban fantasy starring a woman with a ton of issues that at times overwhelm the audience with too much angst and aches. Besides being a stoner in debt to a mobster and attracted to his Enforcer, Chess just does not seem mentally capable of handling her Banishing assignments that ironically do not pay the bills. Still even with the plot somewhat thin, fans who appreciate a forbidding environment starring a seemingly broken female will want to read Chess’ survival in a world filled with the paranormal.

Harriet Klausner

Lightborn-Alison Sinclair

Alison Sinclair
Roc, Jun 1 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780451463296

In divided Minhorne, the Lightborn are stunned when Prince Isidore is assassinated by magic. Fejelis Grey Rapids replaces the late prince and accuses Lightborn assassin Floria White Hand of killing his predecessor as she had opportunity being a guard. Forced to flee Fiona receives sanctuary amidst the scientific based Darkborn.

Meanwhile someone tries to murder Fejelis. He still believes the failed attempt was done by Floria. However, the Lightborn who cannot survive the darkness, and the Darkborn (especially Telmaine and her husband Balthasar) who cannot stay in the light, begin to wonder if perhaps their mutual enemy the Shadowborn is causing deadly mischief.

The second Minhorne Regency fantasy (see Darkborn) is a complicated tale that grips the audience from the opening train ride to the finish that sets up what should be a rousing climax. After shaking the scientific Darkborn society with her magic in the previous tale, Telmaine returns as a major player alongside her husband and his previous lover Floria. The two females and the male who links them make for an enjoyable whodunit as they seek out the assassin before war breaks out between the two prime societies and a potential cat fight between the two women. Readers will relish this fine middle tale in a fascinating saga as the city of Minhorne with a humongous support cast consisting of the dark, the light and the shadows in between.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Procession of the Dead-Darren Shan

Procession of the Dead
Darren Shan
Grand Central, Jun 4 2010, $19.99
ISBN: 9780446551755

Capac Raimi arrives in the City seeking his Uncle Theo. He wants his relative to teach him how to be the leader of a gang. Theo welcomes mentoring his nephew but before they can start with gangster 101, the city’s top criminal gang lord The Cardinal kills Theo and his thugs.

The Cardinal finds Capac fascinating as the youngster shows a genuine desire to learn the trade. The lad joins the Cardinal’s mob squad, selling insurance to people who know better than to say no. However, shortly after signing on board, Capac begins to wonder about his life before he entered the city as he has no memory of it. Stranger is those people he met have vanished and become nonentities as if they never existed. He fears he will be one soon too even as Capac ponders about blind wizards inside their green fog and the black-clad puppets collected by the Cardinal. The apprentice criminal begins to understand one thing that the Cardinal does not just own the City, he is the twin of the City like two cheeks making up the same butt; and punks like Capac are expendable youths.

This is a dark look at a City mindful of early Spiderman during the Kingpin days but much grimmer. Fascinatingly the Cardinal has become a legend of almost deity heights with his control of the City to include the disappearances of sundry people who don’t just vanish from sight; they also evaporate from the mind like an Etchosketch. Capac’s naivety is a wonderful counter to the Cardinal as he begins to comprehend the influence he has given to his mentor due to his out of control ambition. Procession of the Dead is a deep dark character driven thriller as the audience along with Capac ponder what price to ask for one’s soul?

Harriet Klausner

Blonde Bombshell-Tom Holt

Blonde Bombshell
Tom Holt
Orbit, Jun 18 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780316086998

In Novosibirsk, in between being intoxicated former scientist turned banker George Stetchkin ponders how $50 trillion from various bank vaults around the world could be stolen without anyone or cameras witnessing the thefts. At the same time programming guru Lucy Pavlov, whose computer programs owns the global market place, cannot comprehend why she has no memory of her childhood.

Out in space on planet Ostar, the canine sentient rulers fearing further distraction by human pop music, debate why Mark One failed to explode and eradicate intelligence on planet earth. They agree that humans should be walked as pets and not piss away a planet. As they launch Mark Two, George figures out the missing money riddle only to have two aliens shoot him. Meanwhile the Mark Two finds Ostar coding in Lucy's programs so sends the Mark Twain probe to learn how an earth human obtained their canine coding. George's bank assumes Twain is a programmer and hires him while Lucy has doubts about this Twain fellow.

This is a zany over the top of Olympus Mons societal satire that rips the international financial programming government complex skewering all and much more for their me-me top line attitudes. Fast-paced, the frantic story line is jocular although lacks a cohesive focus making it difficult to comprehend. Still fans who relish a dog eat human Armageddon science fiction will relish the Ostar solution to the too big to fail problem.

Harriet Klausner

Grayling The Prophecy-D.B. Wright

Grayling The Prophecy
D.B. Wright
Xlibris, 2008
ISBN: 9781425785574

For over a decade Malora remains a prisoner of Beagen inside his stronghold Daggar’s Pointe in Bakaw, Metar. He demands she support his evil scheme concerning seven kingdoms under his malevolent rule. However though he tortures her constantly, she refuses to break. She finally manages to escape, but is injured by a soldier hitting her with an arrow.

Pickard the thief finds her and though he should ignore her as he knows she will be trouble, something compels him to take the unconscious female to safety. His premonition proves right as Beagen’s wizards and apprentices give chase. She proves powerful, but out of control becoming dangerous to herself and others while he finally desperately leaps with her to his home in Te-Mok. There he hopes he can find answers to who she is and get her to safety before the Council interrogates and stopss him from returning to his quest to find Greyling of the Great Prophecy as he is the Protector of the Mgician who will either destroy the world or unite the nations as they were once before until treachery split them apart.

Grayling is an exciting quest fantasy that grips the audience from the onset with a need to know why Beagen magically tortures his female prisoner and maintains that hold on the reader throughout. Besides the obvious lead duet being fully developed with character flaws, the key support cast is also strong as they enhance either understanding the motives of the prime pair or the Prophecy. With several solid middle twists to augment an entertaining saga, sub-genre readers will appreciate the adventures of Malora and Pickard in a land divided.

Harriet Klausner

Between Two Kingdoms-Joe Boyd

Between Two Kingdoms
Joe Boyd
Standard Publishing, Mar 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9780784723586

At one time there was only a single kingdom ruled wisely by a Great King and assisted by his Son, the Good Prince. However, one of the Great King's servants Sinkrad rebelled. This led to a schism between those children who remained loyal to the Great King and those who joined the side of Sinkrad. The one kingdom split into two with the Great King ruling the upper and Sinkrad the lower.

The Good Prince sends emissaries to the people of the Lower Kingdom hoping they will come to live in the Upper Kingdom. Anyone who does reverts into an eternal seven years old child living a carefree joyful life. Although he offers a shadowy mirror of the Upper Kingdom, Sinkrad recruits some children away with the temptation of a free life. The Good Prince sends Tommy on a quest below, but he is taken prisoner. Refusing to cede even one loyal child, the Good Prince mounts a rescue mission into the Lower Kingdom.

This is a fascinating parable that takes a deep look at what is faith in the Lord as Tommy performs his mission but temptation is everywhere he goes. Readers who relish an interesting Christian saga with a timely message to the doubting Thomas and Thomasina as well as encouragement to the faithful will especially want to read this allegory. However, the measure of how well it is written is that the non-believers will relish Tommy’s saga in the Lower Kingdom on a holy mission.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bitter Seeds-Ian Tregillis

Bitter Seeds
Ian Tregillis
Tor, Apr 13 2020, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765321503

Wanting to build a superman and superwoman, German scientist Dr. von Westarp chooses WWI German orphans as his base for his experiments. Although many die and others are deformed, by 1939 the mad scientist has succeed in constructing his master race. However as WW II breaks out, he plans to use them to insure The Third Reich is victorious and remains in power for a thousand years. However, one of the successful test subjects Klaus fears his sister Gretel is using her precognitive skills to manipulate the team, but what agenda is remains unclear.

Meanwhile British secret agent Raybould Marsh, who has his own father figure in Stephenson, knows first hand how powerful the enemy supervillains are as the German war machine blitzkriegs through all enemies. He enlists mage Will Beauclerk to help the British side, whose chances of victory seem slim. Will brings on allies from the warlock community including Olivia whom Marsh marries and has a daughter with her. When he ignores the warning not to deal with the mysterious Eidelons who will offer little and demand a lot, Will sees no other hope as the Germans are winning in the air, land and sea due to being the superpower.

Although the cast is never fully developed beyond comic book stereotypes, readers will enjoy this entertaining action-packed alternate historical thriller. With homage to Moore’s Watchmen, fans of action-packed WWII dramas will appreciate the loaded Bitter Seeds as superpower German warriors battle the mages of Britain for control of the continent and ultimately the world.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Fire-Christine Feehan

Wild Fire
Christine Feehan
Jove, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515147902

Panamanian leopard shifter Connor Vega was with a special ops team on a dangerous assignment when he met Borneo native Isabeau Chandler. They both feel the attraction between them; but he is well aware that she is his eternal mate while she remains ignorant to that because she is unaware of even being a shifter; as she has never changed. When her beloved adopted father died during the assault, she believes her beloved betrayed her. Connor’s gut rips with his mate’s rejection and animosity; her loathing of him is killing him slowly.

In the Panama rainforest that Connor once called home, international smuggler Imelda Cortez abetted by rogue shifters abducts children as hostages. Isabeau asks for Connor and his unit to intervene as she wants the best to save the children. Connor realizes he has a personal vendetta on this mission and a heartfelt need to win over his love even as Isabeau is about to do her first shift. However, as both struggle with desire, neither anticipated another betrayal from within.

The fourth Leopard shifter paranormal romantic thriller (see The Awakening, Burning Rain and Wild Rain) is an action-packed tale in which betrayal plays a major role. Connor struggles to survive deadly scenarios in the field, but it is his soul mate’s loathing that is burning his heart. Fans will enjoy the rumble in the jungle as Christine Feehan provides a heated entry in her exciting series.

Harriet Klausner

Lover Mine-J.R. Ward

Lover Mine
J.R. Ward
NAL, Apr 27 $25.95
ISBN: 9780451229854

Reincarnated John Matthew had no idea what he was as he resided amongst purebred humans until the Black Dagger Brotherhood drafted him as a full blooded vampiric warrior protecting their species against the genocide slayers of the Lessening Society. However, he has handled every life grenade tossed at him until now. His personal adversary Lash abducted symphath vampire Xhex; sending John over the edge as she is his soul mate. He vows to kill Lash, rescue Xhex and plead with her to be with him for eternity.

Currently an imprisoned embitter sex toy of the volatile Lash, Xhex distrusts males and more so love as she knows first hand it leads to horrific hurt. She has personal problems with her feelings for John because of her distrust of those feelings. However, Xhex knows deep in her heart he is coming for her and will lash out at anyone who tries to prevent him.

The overarching war in Caldwell, New York continues though somewhat in the background as the focus is almost entirely on the triangle. Readers learn much about the backgrounds of Johan and especially that of Xhex. A strong entry that has been anticipated for awhile, J.R. Ward provides a powerful romantic urban fantasy that lives up to the Black Dagger brotherhood saga as the distrusting loving relationship between John and Xhex comes to a complicated and convoluted head with odious Lash as the catalyst coupling converter.

Harriet Klausner

The Frenzy Way-Gregory Lamberson

The Frenzy Way
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion, Jun 2010, $15.95
ISBN: 9781605421070

Captain Anthony Mace is awakened at 4:40 AM and asked to go to a crime scene by one of his subordinates. When he arrives, he sees a room washed in blood, a body torn to shreds and partially eaten with the head missing. On the wall painted in blood is the word Skinwalker, an Indian term for a werewolf. Claw marks are on the victim’s safe and inside is a sword with a broken blade.

It is called the Blade of Salvation and was used by the Inquisition to kill so called werewolves because it is made of silver. On the hilt is an Inquisitor holding the sword with a decapitated victim nearby. Several more deaths occur all by the same perpetrator sending Manhattan into a panic. When one of Mace's officers who invited the perp in her car is killed Mace's mind rejects what his eyes see until he witnesses the predator kill another victim. He can no longer ignore the truth, but when he tells his superiors, they reject his belief; instead they suspend Mace and insist he undergo a psycho evaluation. With Mace out of the picture, the killing spree goes unabated.

The key to Gregory Lamberson’s terrific police procedural horror novel is that he makes his Manhattan seem genuine even with a supernatural species hiding in the shadows, as the older audience will be reminded of the panic during the Son of Sam serial killings. The Skinwalkers fear that if their clandestine existence becomes known to humans, genocide as occurred in Europe will happen here. With a strong culture to enhance the existence of the otherworldly race and a serial killer stalking and exterminating them, fans will relish a read down the wild side of The Frenzy Way.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Love in the Time of Dragons-Kate MacAlister

Love in the Time of Dragons
Kate MacAlister
Signet, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229717

Tully Sullivan had her annual fugue too early this year. She is fortunate that kind Londoners looked after her while she slept away a month. Still somewhat rattled, she misses her beloved son Brom, but not her husband Gareth.

Tully understands magic exists as she is an apprentice mage. However, even she is taken aback when she awakens from a fugue state surrounded by angry dragons; as everyone knows these beasts are mythical. However, her denial ends quickly when she learns they believe she is Ysolde de Boucher, the mate of the deadly black dragon Baltic. As his dragon spouse, she will be executed for his crimes against dragonkind and mankind. Tully has no time for execution as her son awaits her back in her realm. She figures step one is escape; step two is to beat the fiery snot out of her dragon mate wyvern the terrible Baltic; and the final step return to Brom. Instead she finds herself investigating crimes and Love in the Time of the Dragons.

This first Light Dragons fantasy is an amusing lighthearted frolic held together by a female who has no memory of ever being a dragon in her past lives. Tully the terrific makes the tale fresh and exciting, as she follows her steps only to run into one fiasco after another especially once she meets Baltic the bad. Fans of Kate MacAlister’s Silver Dragons will not see chocolate in the same way while appreciating the escapades of heroic Tully as she wanders the Dragon landscape she believes she has only seen in her dreams.

Harriet Klausner

Star Raiders-Elysa Hendricks

Star Raiders
Elysa Hendricks
Love Spell, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528186

For five years the Earth League Forces Anti-Smuggling/Piracy (ASP) Bureau Greyson Dane worked the field undercover. He seduced smuggler Stewart Kedar’s innocent daughter Shyanne to get at her father. Greyson succeeded, but lost his heart to Shyanne while her dad is incarcerated. Knowing he betrayed the only woman he will ever love, Greyson left law enforcement field work taking a desk jockey promotion for his duplicity.

However, Greyson is sent back into the field after a decade in the office. He offers a deal to Shyanne and her crew in which ASP and the Consortium of Intelligent Life (COIL) will pardon them of all their crimes including some recent ones they did not commit if they help them capture Stewart’s former right hand man Simon Dempster, who has attacked vessels and murdered the innocent. Shyanne always loathed Dempster who continues to be a thorn in her small operation and apparently has set her and her crew up to take the falls for his murderous raids. Still she conceals from the other man she detests, her only lover, his son Rian. He hides the full truth that he once again will sacrifice his beloved, but this time his cause is saving mankind from the angry retaliation of COIL.

Star raiders is a great romantic outer space thriller starring two former lovers still in love, but his treachery keeps them apart as she refuses to trust him with her heart or freedom. He regrets that he will use her again, but believes strongly his mission is critical because if he fails mankind could become extinct. Sub-genre readers will enjoy the Hendricks galaxy as two people still in love conceal secrets from one another.

Harriet Klausner

Running Scared-Shannon K. Butcher

Running Scared
Shannon K. Butcher
Onyx, May 4 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412904

Human Lexi Johns believes that her human friend Helen Day was brainwashed by Drake the Theronai warrior (see Burning Alive) as she knows his species is her worst nightmare. As a child Helen had it drilled into her constantly how deadly dangerous the evil Theronai are; her fears mount as she thinks Zach the Theronai warrior stalks her.

She is right about Zach although wrong about his motive. Zach knows she is his bond mate and he wants to persuade her they belong together but hesitates as he knows she loathes his kind. As he considers acceptance of his disastrous fate if he fails to make it with Lexi, they finally meet. However, he is unaware that she has joined his race’s enemy the Defenders of Humanity in order to use him to destroy the Theronai encamplment. Meanwhile Lexi has second thoughts about the evilness of the Theronai as Zach is kind and caring, but it may be too late to change sides after years of being brainwashed that his kind are the wicked.

The latest Sentinel War romantic urban fantasy is a superb fresh entry due to the heroine whose extremism is similar to Helen but deeper into her soul so that unlike Helen, Lexi cannot be labeled a star-crossed lover; while Zach is similar to Drake. Still the key to the saga is that the two other species (besides the humans) seem genuine and their hostilities are exciting. Yet in spite of the cross species war, the fast-paced story line belongs to the human female who puts Pink Floyd meaning to brainwashing once she meets Zach in person. Shannon K. Butcher provides a terrific suspense filled thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Deceiver-C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh
Daw, May 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756406011

The atevi civil war is over; at least the overt hostilities that is. The Western Association ruler Tabini-aiji has won a shaky victory, but the prime enemy plotter still remains free; as Machigi chieftain of Taisigi clan has powerful followers in clandestine locations especially inside the capital.

While Tabini tightens his control, his human friend and loyal supporter Bren Cameron, who stayed in space for two years, returns planet side, but stays far away from the capital so the xenophobic enemy cannot use him as an alien immigrant. Instead he remains on his estate in Najida where hiding in his basement is Baiji nephew of the Maschi clan chief. He hides from Machigi who was arranging a political marriage of convenience with fifteen year old Tiajo of his clan; once married Machigi was going to have Baiji killed so Tiajo’s relatives can run the strategic lands on the west coast. Although staying away from the capital, danger arrives in Najida when Tabini’s son Cajeri sneaks way from his secret service protectors to Bren’s estate; followed by his Great-grandmother; and soon afterward assassins.

The exciting second tale in the fourth trilogy arc of the Foreigner Universe is a strong entry that fans will appreciate. The underhanded conspiracies and alliances started in Conspirator (should read first so as to avoid being lost in space) continue to thrive. The atevi-human relationships are fascinating to observe especially through Bren’s assessment; he realizes he is a PR nightmare for Tabini, but hiding in space and then on the Najida estate fail to abate the albatross he feels around his neck because he is too loyal a friend. Readers will enjoy the return to the wonderful world of C.J. Cheryh as the overt war may be over, but the covert hostilities remain only the audience will mostly be away from the capital.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Shattered Sylph-L.J. McDonald

The Shattered Sylph
L.J. McDonald
Leisure, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843963236

Slavers arrive at the port city of Para Dubh where they kidnap teenager Lizzy Petrule; deserted at the dock by her suitor Justin. Chained she is taken across the Great Sea to the Meridal Empire. Worried about his missing daughter, Lizzy's father Leon and Justin who feels guilty begin a search and soon learns the fate of the lass; a sex slave to please the hundreds of enslaved battle sylphs.

Justin, Leon and his shape-sifting battle sylph Ril begin a rescue attempt. First they must enter a city where danger is everywhere. Once inside the citadel, the duo must find a way to the harem where Lizzy is just one more throwaway female to “feed” the hunger of the raging battle sylphs.

This is a fast-paced romantic fantasy as the heroic trio struggles to surmount magical and mundane attacks to mute their rescue efforts. Fast-paced from the moment Lizzy is abducted, L.J. McDonald paints an intriguing corrupt empire that readers will compare with the Sylph Valley. With the return of support players from the first tale The Battle Sylph, fans will relish the saga of The Shattered Sylph.

Harriet Klausner

Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil-Barbara Monajem

Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil
Barbara Monajem
Love Spell, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528254

In Bayou Gavotte, Ophelia Beliveau is like every female going through puberty. She got boobs, fangs and emitted an overwhelming attraction that males cannot resist. Ophelia’s bloodline is that of a vampire.

To escape the male pick-up attempts, Ophelia became somewhat of a recluse. However, recently vandals devastated her beloved garden. She calls the local police; detective Gideon O'Toole responds. However, like every man she has met since she went through puberty, he wants her; this time she is considering reciprocating. Meanwhile at the same time Gideon's sister Artemisia is being blackmailed. Bayou Gavotte is becoming a dangerous place to live as death has come to town.

This is a fascinating southern vampire police procedural with plenty of Bayou atmosphere mindful of Sookie’s world. The diverse relationships across species and within species are fully delved into with Ophelia as the center holding the plot together. Although evil has entered the garden at almost the same time as love has, the peril for the most part takes a back seat to the romance between the vampire who has done without and the detective willing to give his all.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 2, 2010

Death Blows-D.D. Barant

Death Blows
D.D. Barant
St. Martin’s, Mar 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312942595

Unnatural States of America NSA chief David Cassius the vampire yanked FBI profiler Jace Valchek from her United States of America realm to his to hunt for a human serial killer who murdered vampires and werewolves (See Dying Bites). Jace partnered with Charlie Aleph the Golem, still works for David as she agrees to remain here until she ends the reign of terror of Aristotle Stoker.

NSA employee vampire Gretchen Petra’s significant other Saladin Aquitaine was magically fried. His garb was that of the DC comic book character The Flash though superhero comics are banned in this USA. Part of the Bravo Brigade, Saladin is the first killed, but other comic book look alikes follow. Jace and Charlie have to switch gear to prevent another serial killer; this time acting like a super-villain.

The second Bloodhound Files is a spectacular alternative urban fantasy police procedural. The action-packed story line soars from the opening scene and never slows down for even a respite as Jace investigates a comic book serial killer. Faster than a speeding bullet with a tongue in cheek feel that will remind readers of Jasper Fforde's works, fans will marvel over this delightfully charming tale.

Harriet Klausner

Dead in the Family-Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family
Charlaine Harris
Ace, May 4 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441018642

Sookie Stackhouse, like many of Bon Temps, Louisiana residents, remains in shock as much from the torture she received as from the grief she feels following the fae war that left so many Dead and Gone. Among those who died is Sookie’s fairy cousin, Claudine. Much of the surviving Faes went home.

Meanwhile the late Claudine’s triplet Claude asks Sookie if he can move in with her; she unenthusiastically agrees. The Feds want better control of the paranormal two-nature Werewolf packs with designated registries. This upsets the Were population that fears hunting season. Sookie’s lover vampire Eric Northman has problems when his creator the newly named Vampire King Appius Livius Ocella accompanied by Alexei Romanov arrives without warning, an invitation or an explanation,

Dead in the family is a superb entry in the Sookie saga albeit a bit less action (and deaths) than the previous thriller. The story line focuses on what is a modern paranormal extended family and how politics by those claiming the righteous right of patriotism to intrude within the family under the guise of. security. Fans will enjoy this thought provoking urban fantasy as Sookie has little time to heal.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Master Of None-Sonya Bateman

Master Of None
Sonya Bateman
Pocket, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439160848

His partners if they had survived would testify he was the worst thief in the universe. However, even for Gavyn Donatti, his latest failure is a stunner as he lost the score he stole for his employer. Gavyn knows he must skip town, but his irate fence Trevor does not accept failure so he sends Skids Davis to beat the snot out of Gavyn and perhaps more; as a warning to other employees. However, someone intervenes; Skid shoots the male who tells him that hurt and warns the thug to tell his boss to back off or else.

The djinn makes it clear he needs the moronic Gavyn, but will not put up with any shenanigans. Not interested in Gavyn's mouth, the djinn tells him he was sent here to help him fulfill his destiny. Neither the djinn, Gavyn, his girlfriend Jazz nor her son know what a small time robber's destiny could be beyond surviving and selling the latest heist.

This enjoyable urban fantasy is filled with intelligent jocular dialogue as Donatti the thief struggles with achieving his life’s purpose once he learns his life’s purpose. He is terrific as the focus of the fun plot while his support team augments his efforts to determine his quest by not allowing him to just going back to being the worst thief in the world. Tongue in cheek but loaded with action, fans will enjoy Master of None starring a likable antihero.

Harriet Klausner

Saltation-Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen, Apr 13 2010, $24.00
ISBN 9781439133453

Theo Waitley grew up in the gentle scholarly world of Delgado. However, the half-Terran daughter of a Liaden pilot manages to enroll in pilot school. She proves incredibly adept at flying and even more incredibly inept at relationships.

When Theo landed her crippled plane on a mountain (see Fledgling) she gained fame and envy. Scout pilot Win Ton gives her a keepsake and himself though he is to marry a purebred Liaden. However she is soon caught in a “Nexus of Violence” as a target of off-worlders and others that endanger her schoolmates and the faculty. As she struggles to survive and avoid expulsion, she wonders whether to go humiliatingly home, become an aviator free lancer, or trek to her father’s clan to demand their help.

This is an interesting coming of age science fiction thriller that fans of Liaden will appreciate while newcomers will easily soar with the beleaguered heroine. Theo is a wonderful lead as a student with flying talent but is socially dysfunctional and educationally innumeracy. The audience will enjoy her escapades while new readers will be able to fly from the start, but to better understand how far Theo has come reading Fledgling provides the background.

Harriet Klausner

Hawkmoon: The Mad God's Amulet-Michael Moorcock

Hawkmoon: The Mad God's Amulet
Michael Moorcock
Tor, Mar 30 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780765324740

Dorian Hawkmoon and his companion Oladahn the Bulgar Mountain Beastman journey towards Castle Brass. However their trek is interrupted by the powerful ruthless Dark Empire of Granbretan armies and their evil dark jewel power (see The Jewel in the Skull). The pair survive and enter Soryandum a rare city not conquered by the Dark Empire due to their knowledge of time and space.

Dorian thinks if he can learn the secrets of this safe city, he can use them to keep Kamar safe; the home of his beloved Yisselda, currently a prisoner of the Mad God. Hawkmoon knows he must battle through the Granbretan forces and evil monsters, but is unprepared for nasty pirates assaulting him and his travel mates. Still he and the others continue their quest knowing the madwomen army of the Mad God awaits them before he can attempt to take the amulet away from the insane deity.

This reprint from the Law and Chaos saga is a terrific action-packed entry as the rules of existence are fought eternally. Filled with battle scenes after battle scenes, the cast is never developed except somewhat the hero and the use of chance to move forward the quest is distracting. However, readers who enjoy an ultra high octane fantasy set in a fascinating multiverse will appreciate the adventures of Hawkmoon.

Harriet Klausner