Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fatal Error-F. Paul Wilson,

Fatal Error
F. Paul Wilson,
Tor, Oct 12 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765322821

Repairman Jack feels like he is caught in some sort of cosmic middle between the Ally and the Otherness while also fearing that the Septimus Order united with the Kickers to kill the Lady in order enable the evil Otherness to enter earth reality. However, even as he resents being the bodyguard of the lady, Jack is caught in a local scenario when a desperate Munir Habib pleads with the mercenary to save his family.

The Septimus Order and their nefarious allies plan to shut down the Internet. Mr. Osala quietly encourages these cult terrorists to do so while he also prepares a newborn infected by the Otherness that he had abducted from the baby’s stunned mother Dawn Pickering to bring his prime adversary Jack to his knees.

The latest Repairman Jack thriller is a great refreshing entry in what consistently has been one of the best sagas over the past two decades (ancient history of Reagan was in the White House when he first appears). The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as several of the mercenary adversaries seem to have united with a common cause that starts with his death. However though they have battled before and this is his penultimate tale, they still don’t know Jack.

Harriet Klausner

Factotum-D. M. Cornish

D. M. Cornish
Putnam, Nov 11 2010, $19.99
ISBN: 9780399246401

A Foundling, Rossamund Bookchild wants to know something about his roots as currently his knowledge about his parents is zero. He leaves behind his home and in many ways his youth as he sets forth on an adventure to find out just who he is.

As he treks the Half-Continent, he faces danger but never quits his quest. As he continues his march, he faces frightening truths; of which the worst remains not knowing anything about who he is. Naimes Duchess in Waiting, Europe the monster hunter, “adopts” Rossamund as her Factotum and friend while teaching her protégé that evil comes in all shapes and forms including human packaging, but his quest for his identity has already aroused the long time dormant Monster Lords.

The third Foundling’s Tale (see Foundling and Lamplighter) is a great final fantasy as Rossamund learns more truth than he would prefer. Fast-paced with a sort of ancient feel to the vernacular and enhanced by drawings and maps, teen readers will want to join the Foundling and they aristocrat as they hunt monsters including people and seek clues to who Rossamund is especially since his search has awakened the most hideous lethal Monster Lords.

Harriet Klausner

The Wolf Age-James Enge

The Wolf Age
James Enge
PYR, Oct 5, 2010, $17.00
ISBN 9781616142438

By nature an extreme pessimist who in spite of his adept skills knows he cannot live up to the legend of his father except when he is intoxicated. Enchanter Morlock Ambrosius wonders what else could go wrong as nothing seems to be going his way. In the werewolf city-state of Wuruyaaria, he figures he hit rock bottom when he is confined in a prison inside Vargulleion, a werewolf fortress. Morlock soon learns he has not bottomed out when he is forced to kill another inmate who attacked him.

His new cell mate is Rokhlenu the werewolf, whose life he once saved. They become friends watching each other’s back in the dangerous dungeons. However, Morlock also struggles with his sanity as the glass spike pounded into his head blocks his Sight leading to out of control paranoid rages. Working together, the pair escapes, but being on the outside in a city boiling over with angry werewolves divided in strife during an election year proves more dangerous than lock up.

Making last summer’s Tea Party look like tea partiers, The Wolf Age is an excellent political fantasy as James Enge paints balloting skewered by the sword and claw; making Wuruyaaria seem worse than 1850s Bleeding Kansas and that of 2008 violent Kenya. The taut story line is character driven by the honor of blood werewolf voters as democracy proves deadly. With morose Morlock as the guide (see Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way), readers will appreciate the dark, grim and gloomy portrayal of democracy.

Harriet Klausner

Poisoned Kisses-Stephanie Draven

Poisoned Kisses
Stephanie Draven
Harlequin Nocturne, Oct 1 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618453

“Poisoned Kisses”. The Underworld Nymph Kyra fears what her father Ares plans to do. Ares wants to use toxic blood to change a man into a deadly hydra. His choice is weapons dealer Marcos Kaisaris. Marcos believes he can save the world from the madness of weapons of mass destruction by arming the oppressed. Like her sire, Kyra seeks Marcos out with her plan being to kill him so her father cannot capture him. When they meet, Marcos’ tainted blood burns Kyra, costing her immortality. Still she refuses to quit although now she considers locking him away from her dad. In their second battle, they fall in love so she plans to keep him safe or die in the attempt.

“Midnight Medusa”. As a child in war torn Bosnia, Renata saw first hand humanity’s cruelty. She escaped to New York City where she became a sculptor who made pieces of the war criminals she witnessed performing their horrific cleaning. Once she completed a work, the “model” died horrifically. The son of Ares, Damon kidnaps the artist and informs her who she is and why her art kills.

The romantic fantasy Poisoned Kisses is a terrific tale that grips the audience from the moment lead couple meet and never slows down as natural enemies fall in love. Readers also receive a wonderful romantic urban fantasy short story Midnight Kisses with a great paranormal twist though the lead couple is obviously less developed; this was previously an e-tale. With two offspring of Ares entries, Stephanie Draven provides fans with a joyous trip to “Mythica”.

Harriet Klausner

The Keepers-Heather Graham

The Keepers
Heather Graham
Harlequin Nocturne, Oct 1 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618446

In New Orleans, Fiona MacDonald is one the Keeper sisters who watch over the city’s vampire, shapeshifter and a few unmentionables population though her focus is the bloodsuckers. Her job is to resolve conflict as quietly as possible and to insure the species behaves themselves so as to keep the humans ignorant that the otherworldly reside in their midst.

A serial killer who apparently is a rogue vampire strikes the city. The psychopath drinks blood dry of blond females before dumping their corpses on cemetery crypts. Fiona and vampire detective Jagger DeFarge work together to end an undead reign of terror while her Keeper peers and her siblings warn her not to trust a bloodsucker.

This exhilarating romantic urban fantasy is an otherworldly police procedural that grips the reader with Heather Graham’s vividly dark view of New Orleans. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists. The investigation makes for an interesting paranormal whodunit in which the Keeper and the Vampire try to ignore their attraction as they are natural enemies and critically understand ending the fiend’s murderous terror supersedes all else.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hull Zero Three-Greg Bear

Hull Zero Three
Greg Bear
Orbit, Nov 22 2010, $19.95
ISBN: 9780316072816

Millenniums into the distant future, Sanjay wakes up without any memories. He has no idea who he is or how he got where he is. He also is confused by his guide, a small girl who seems aware of what is going on.

As he somewhat gets his bearing, Sanjay learns he is on a starship sailing through space. The vessel contains generations traveling to a new home, but he soon learns an internal dispute threatens the safety of the ship and its passengers at a time when they enter a dangerous supernovae sector. Sanjay is beginning to learn why he is awake during this crisis as he is not what he thought he was.

Hull Zero Three is a fun science fiction thriller that adds very little new to the generational ark in space sub-genre as the reader will know what follows in this frequently used theme (see the movie Pandorum and Baxter’s Ark). Still filled with non stop action and starring an intriguing confused hero and several support characters adding to his bewilderment by their divided commentary, fans will enjoy disasters strike the starship of Hull Zero Three.

Harriet Klausner

The Broken Kingdoms-N.K. Jemisin

The Broken Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin
Orbit, Nov 3 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780316043960

A decade ago in the city of Shadow, the world tree sprung up after an incredible amount of magic was released. Blind artist Oree works in the shade of the world tree by selling junk to tourists visiting the city to see the tree.

Oree conceals her real talent as a painter from everyone by drawing only inside her home. When she finds a homeless man living inside a muck bin, Oree feels sorry for him. She takes him to her home only to learn what happens to Good Samaritans. A God is murdered in plain sight and anyone who Oree cherishes is harmed forcing the artist to come out of the shadows of her house to defend those she cares about.

The second Inheritance fantasy is a terrific tale held together by the fascinating Oree who has come a long way in the decade that has passed since the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Oree is super as she defends weaker people from bullies in a realm that believes only the strong survive. Although The Broken Kingdoms can stand alone as a deep character driven thriller, fans will want to read its excellent predecessor The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as a great fantasy opening act but also to see how far the intrepid reclusive blind artist has come to be a champion of the downtrodden as she can see the Distance.

Harriet Klausner

Cryoburn-Lois Bujold

Lois Bujold
Baen, Oct 19 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439133941

Residents of the planet Kibou-daini believe strongly in putting off death preferably forever. At the direction of Barrayaran Emperor Gregor to investigate the planet’s cryo-corporations, Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan arrives on the planet to attend a cryonics conference. However, he is a few days on the orb when someone drugs the interplanetary diplomat. Miles escapes from his wannabe kidnappers, but his mind is hazy from whatever was given to him.

Jin Sato rescues a dazed Miles. Jin’s mother led a cryo reform movement until she was declared incompetent and frozen. Living amidst the impoverish masses, Jin runs a cline for the poor. As Miles learns about the cryo war over heirs and inheritance, he begins to meet the natives inside and outside of frozen coffins.

This is a great addition to the Vorkosigan diplomatic science fiction thrillers. Following regal orders, the hero investigates a convoluted series of events that appear only loosely tied by a cryo theme. Vorkosigan finally connects the dots only leading to greater peril; by those who do not want to come in from the cold. Simply put, Cryoburn is a timely super entry as the Imperial Auditor uncovers the stunning truth and he also learns Diplomatic Immunity will not keep him alive.

Harriet Klausner

Wolfsbane-Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs
Ace, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019540

A year has passed since Geoffrey ae’Magi died, but his impact still lingers. Aralorn learns her father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has recently died. Although the shapeshfting mercenary has been away from home for over a decade, she returns home to honor her aristocratic father. She and Wolf travel to Reth to say goodbye to her father.

However, in Reth, Aralorn and Wolf are stunned with what greets them. Her dad is sort of dead and sort of not dead. They investigate what happened to her sire. What they find out has both panicking as evidence mounts that Geoffrey ae’Magi lives and her father is spellbound by an evil sorcery trying to trap Aralorn.

Wolfsbane is a delightful follow-up to the exhilarating Masques. Aralorn is terrific as she learns the lesson you can’t go home even for a funeral as nothing is the same as she remembers it. Wolf matures considerable as he starts to reconcile his past with his present especially his need for a long term relationship with his beloved companion. Although the well written story line is somewhat typical of the genre, fantasy readers will enjoy Patricia Briggs’ wonderful tale due to the stunned lead couple finding the last thing they (and fans) expected when they go to her hometown.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Town-Rachel Caine

Ghost Town
Rachel Caine
NAL, Oct 26 2010, $17.99
ISBN: 9780451231611

A very old vampire Amalie founded Morganville, Texas as a refugee where vampires and humans can live together, but the Undead are at the top of the food chain. After a battle, the safeguards that protect the vampires are broken and humans can leave the town with their memories intact because the machine hooked to a brain was destroyed.

Myrnin the semi-sane vampire who built the first bio machine has to reconstruct a new one from scratch. His assistant Claire refuses to use a brain to power the gizmo, but she helps her boss create one. The problem is that the machine is making humans and vampires forget the last three years of their lives. Myrnin’s password protects the machine so Claire can’t unplug it. Although she is human, Claire feels strongly she must find a way to pull the plug before Morganville is destroyed.

Rachel Caine’s latest Morganville vampire thriller is awesome as the Undead are held in check by Amelia’s rules until the machine breaks down leading to a leadership challenge of the matriarch. However although that is powerful theme enabling fans to look closely at what happens to a culture when a key control fails, the action focuses more on the traditional vampire stalking humans for psychological reasons. Young adult fans will enjoy this entry and the entire series as this time local vampire civilization loses a primary restrictive barrier leading to over indulgence.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Boy from Ilysies-Pearl North

The Boy from Ilysies
Pearl North
Tor, Nov 9 2010, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765320971

For centuries the Singers and the Libyrarians were at war with each other over how knowledge should b transported. The former believe in oral storytelling while the latter feel strongly books are the ultimate source. A miracle occurred uniting the adversaries though problems remain between the groups. The hope is to make the dying land surrounding the labyrinth back to fruition with a new crop.

Po, a young man from Ilysies, where males are slaves, is in the field when a fire breaks out destroying the crops. He is blamed though he is totally innocent. To keep Po out of harms way, he is sent with the Chorus of the Word to the Corvariate Cathedral to find Endymion’s Rose, an artifact from the Ancients that may save the world as it was before the terraforming started breaking down. It was lush and fertile and green.

The sequel to Libryinth takes place on a world changed to be a new earth, which is just a fleeting myth like memory for those on the orb. The terraforming is breaking apart mindful of what NPR has just described happens to some orthodontic work. It will take special archivists to learn how to reverse the rapid deterioration that threatens both groups. Filled with action and a deep look at a divided culture battling one another (mindful of DC), young adult readers will enjoy the entertaining thought provoking The Boy from Ilysies.

Harriet Klausner

Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files-Jim Butcher

Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
Roc, Oct 26 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9780451463654

Although the quality of the eleven entries varies to an incredible degree, fans of Dresden will want to read the anthology that is a sort of history of the author. No question, the audience will want to read the novella "Aftermath", which occurs a few hours after the end of the stunning Changes. Many of the tales fill the gaps between the novels especially with a close look at support cast in entries like “Backup” focuses on Thomas and “Warrior” on Michael. Some like the first Dresden unpublished tale, A Restoration of Faith, displays Jim Butcher’s talent, but not experience as the contribution is a bit confusing; that might be caused by knowing so much about the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. Clearly this compilation is for fans of the series; newcomers would be better off watching the TV show or starting with the novels as that is Mr. Butcher’s forte.

Harriet Klausner

Surface Detail-Iain M. Banks

Surface Detail
Iain M. Banks
Orbit, Oct 28 2010, $25.99
ISBN 9780316123402

The Culture employs special technology throughout the galaxy that enables humans and aliens to select who they want to be. On the planet Sichult, powerful Veppers assisted by two of his employees, rapes and murders sex slave Lededje Y'breq; but not before she rips some skin off their leader.

The Culture artificial intelligence on a nearby starship resurrects Lededje. She is expected to enact vengeance for her homicide. At the same time, a debate within the Culture leadership continues over what to do about evil sinners like Veppers and his minions. Some insist they should be transported to cyber Hells to suffer punishment until either redeemed or eternity whichever comes first while others insist the more humane response is capital punishment.

The latest Culture space thriller (see Transition and Matter) is an incredible accomplishment as Iain M. Banks shifts effortlessly between reality and virtually so much so the reader will wonder what real is and what fantasy is. Fast-paced from the haunting opening assault and never slowing down, fans of the saga will love this powerful entry while newcomers will be searching for the backlist.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Magic At The Gate-Devon Monk

Magic At The Gate
Devon Monk
Roc, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463623

In Portland, Guardian of the Gate Zayvion Jones lies in an otherworldly induced coma. His former girlfriend Chase and her former soul complement Greyson pushed his soul into the Death realm.

Zayvion’s current love hound Allie Beckstrom is frantic, but knows what she must do to save the soul of her beloved. No one enters the realm of Death twice; as it is impossible to escape once you are there. Yet that is what Allie must do. She enters a macabre perverse looking Portland in which even the air feels dead to find the lost soul of her lover. Accompanying her are Stone her gargoyle and her deceased father Daniel, whose partial essence remains inside her. She trusts the gargoyle but not her deceased sire who betrayed her when he lived. The cost to her soul could prove eternal, but to save Zayvion is worth any price and not just because he is her love though in her heart that is enough; he is critical in the war between the forces of the light and the malevolence of the dark.

The latest Magic Beckstrom romantic urban fantasy (see Magic Storm and Magic in the Blood) is a great entry as readers accompany the heroine, the gargoyle and dad into a hellish version of Portland that screams of Edvard Munch. Allie makes the entry powerful with her willingness to die for love; as she believes death may be a sort of Eagles’ Hotel California. Even if she cannot escape, she must find a way for her beloved to leave as he is needed in the realm of the living though she will miss him perhaps forever.

Harriet Klausner

Geist-Philippa Ballantine

Philippa Ballantine
Ace, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019618

The abnormal number of attacks has left the Order of the Deacon weak and in trouble. Their mission is to protect the Empire from the barrage of the Otherside denizens; the undead and demons. The Order knows they are over extended and forced to send untested tyros into the field before they are ready. In the capital city of Vermillion has come many hungry refugees from the Empire’s outskirts, making a volatile situation that much deadlier.

In Vermillion, veteran adept Sorcha Faris works with her beloved husband Kolya the Sensitive on an artifact that somehow could read their thoughts including impossible as it seems their Bond. It quickly left her husband comatose. Although she prefers to wait for her spouse to awaken, the Arch Abbot sends Sorcha to Ulrich with a new temporary partner, Deacon Merrick Chambers; a wet behind the ears Sensitive who just left the classroom. Also with them is the Pretender Raed. The trio will soon learn the hard way why the local Priory pleaded for help from something more predatory than a Geist haunting.

The key to this great horror-fantasy is the belief in the magical world of Philippa Ballantine summed up by the Guardian and the Pretender when she says “If wishes were horses,” and he finishes with “I would never have to walk again.” Little touches like this bring alive the prime element of the Bond, which make the realm of Geist seem genuine. Sorcha and her two comrades are terrific characters who keep the story line focused even as the plot entertainingly switches from fantasy to horror. This is a wonderful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Midsummer Night-Freda Warrington

Midsummer Night
Freda Warrington
Tor, Nov 23 2010, $27.99
ISBN 9780765318701

Just after WW II in the Scottish Highlands, three youths dress up as fey to pull a practical joke on their uncle. However, none of the four blood relatives were ready for the Aetherials to cross over from the Spiral to Cairndonan. The Aetherials snatch one of the youngsters before returning to the Spiral as the uncle drops dead.

Decades have passed since the horrid incident, but time has turned it more into a family myth. Currently, internationally renowned sculptor Dame Juliana Flagg resides at run down Cairndonan, though she cannot afford the upkeep financially but cannot afford to sell emotionally. Now Gill Sharma arrives on holiday to be unwelcomed by Colin the dogsbody apprentice. Soon Dame J and the newcomer will learn first hand of the legend of Dunkelman as the truth without omission will not set the artist or the guest free.

The sequel to Elfland is so much darker as the readers enter the eerie Spiral of the Aetherials and the even stranger Vaethyr magical essences who have a wing (some would say horn) in Spiral and a wing in Earth. Dame J is a fascinating protagonist who cannot leave Cairndonan as if she is mystically tied to her family estate. Haunting, Freda Warrington provides a scary Midsummer Night Nightmare horror thriller as the Aetherial horde play with mankind.

Harriet Klausner

Of Love and Evil-Anne Rice

Of Love and Evil
Anne Rice
Knopf, Nov 30 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781400043545

Malchiah the angel takes former government assassin Toby O'Dare with him on the latter’s second case to right historical wrongs (see Angel Time). This time he is sent back to the era of Pope Leo X in the Holy City of Rome. There he is find out what led to an angry dybbuk spirit haunting modern day Manhattan.

Apparently in the realm of the Medici, a Jew has been accused of devilish witchcraft and murder by poison. He investigates the homicide and the accusations, which to a killing peer like Toby smells so Medici. At the same his mind wanders back to the recent revelation that he sired a son whom he just met in New York. The simple case turns darker and uglier as Toby finds himself in danger from diabolical adversaries back in fifteenth century Rome and twenty-first century Manhattan.

The second Songs of Seraphim is a terrific Christian historical metaphysical thriller. Toby is a stronger protagonist than when he worked the Angel Time case as the audience learns somewhat of his mortal past. Fast-paced in both eras, Of Love and Evil shows Anne Rice at her best as she effortlessly guides readers back and forth between the six-centuries ago past, Roby’s human period, and modern day New York in an entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Full Dark, No Stars-Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars
Stephen King
Scribner, Nov 9 2010, $27.95
ISBN: 9781439192566

“1922”. Wilfred Leland James loves his Nebraska farm. His wife Arlette hates the spread. When she inherits 100 acres, she wants to sell it and her spouse’s land while he wants to work both. She will learn how he plans to keep her and Henry on the farm after they’ve seen Omaha.

"Big Driver". After a Massachusetts speaking engagement, cozy novelist Tess is given a short cut home by her patron Ramona. While driving the back road, she runs over a nail causing a flat. A man stops to change the tire, but instead rapes her and leaves her dead. However, he failed to kill her so she plots vengeance as only a mystery writer could.

"Fair Extension". Dying from cancer, Streeter talks with Mr. Elvid who offers him a Faustian deal of passing on much of his bad luck to a person he hates in exchange for an annual portion of money. Over the years Streeter and his family enjoy a good life, but his former best friend and his family have one catastrophe after another

“A Good Marriage”. After twenty-seven years of marriage to Bob, Darcy believes they have had a good life together. While he is away on business, she finds in their garage catalogues that he hid from her so she would not order items. She finds a second box, but when Darcy opens it, she learns secrets about Bob that he hid from her; now she must decide what to do with this other Bob she just met.

Noted for his horror novels, Stephen King is also a super novella/short story writer as proven by Different Seasons, which includes tales that were adopted into movies (see The Shawshank Redemption, The Apt Pupil and Stand By Me). This quartet affirms Mr. King’s shorter thriller writing skills as the naturing stranger inside of everyone is masked by nurturing so that even long term partners and in some case the person do not know the inner sanction of their soul.

Harriet Klausner

The Cassini Code-Dom Testa

The Cassini Code
Dom Testa
Tor, Nov 2 2010, $8.99
ISBN: 9780765360793

Comet Bhaktul entered earth’s atmosphere leaving deadly paticles behind that killed every person over eighteen years old. A desperate mission to save some aspects of humanity sent 251 teens chosen on the Galahad space ship traveling to Eos. The trip has been difficult although the leader Triana and the Council have done overall well by overcoming a saboteur (see The Comet’s Curse) and defeating the first alien race they met, the Cassini on a moon of Saturn (see The Web of Titan).

The Galileo enters the Kuiper Belt where junk revolves around the solar system, making it a dangerous sector to travel. The heating system and the collision warning system fail. Charismatic Merit Simms begins a movement to turn around and return to earth before they all die in space. He has many supporters and new dissidents join him everyday. As the crew divides mostly between the Council and the armband wearing Merit opposition, the Cassini areback.

The third Galahad teen science fiction thriller is super action-packed Wild in the Streets (except in the solar system) tale driven by the cast especially the leadership rivals of Tiana and Merit. Each has strong qualities, but whereas Triana is cautious and caring of others, Merit believes he is right and has no concern about his opponents. The Cassini Code is loaded with action as the crew reacts to a various series of crises; some caused by the schism. Readers of all ages will want to know who won the power struggle and what did it do to the mission.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Out of the Dark-David Weber

Out of the Dark
David Weber
Tor, Sep 28 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765324122

Having learned of the existence of hostile humans, The Galactic Hegemony Empire is coming to conquer and colonize Earth. An advanced scouting team witnessed the massacre at Agincourt when King Henry V and his English Army used the longbow to slaughter the French. The Hegemony scout leadership concludes the bloody barbarians are a bunch of "lunatic local sentients". Earthlings are so bellicose they make the bloody Shongairi warriors look docile and thus deserve extinction.

The Hegemony sends their Shongairi warriors to conquer Earth. The military invaders are stunned by the resistance to their assaults. Even more shocking to those who have defeated forces throughout the galaxy is something out of horror novels rises from the grave to unite with the native humans in a counter insurgency.

Faster than the speed of light or an Honor Harrington military science fiction, Out of the Dark is an action-packed thriller that fans of David Weber will enjoy. Over the top of Olympus Mons and with a resistance theme that has been used in many books and movies (for instance, The Puppet Masters), the novel is refreshed with an element from the horror genre. Mr. Weber provides an entertaining tale that requires seat belts with the speed of acceleration from start to finish.

Harriet Klausner

Echo-Jack McDevitt

Jack McDevitt
Ace, Nov 2 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441019243

In eight millennium of space travel, humans met one sentient alien race by 1403 Rimway Calendar. Over the centuries since Melony Brown accidentally met the Ashiyyur when she was measuring solar temperatures her discovery led to many people like Somerset “Sunset” Tuttle, the posterboy for scientific quests, seeking other races, but none have been found since.

However, in 1431, Rainbow Enterprises’ Alex Benedict learns of a tablet with mysterious rune like writings on it, possessed by the late Tuttle’s lover Rachel Bannister. Alex and his assistant Chase Kolpath visit Rachel to ask if they can study the tablet and translate the writings. To their shock, Rachel says no. Both Alex and Chase wonder why she would refuse to reveal what appears to be a genuine artifact from an alien species that survived time and space; this relic would change Tuttle’s place in history from an object of mockery to a successful scientist. The pair also wonders if Tuttle found the historical object as most likely happened; why did he, also like Rachel, choose silence rather than affirm his life’s work.

The fifth Alex Benedict futuristic science fiction novel (see The Devil’s Eye and Seeker) is a superb action thriller. The message of how we twenty first century sophisticates interpret ancient scraps to fit our perceptions is made early on with a quote from Frances Bacon: “Antiquities are … remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time”. Fast-paced and filled with action, Jack McDevitt fans will appreciate his latest Benedict tale as once again the author combines outer space futuristic action adventures with a thought provoking look at how we "customize" historical objects to Echo our belief system.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tandem-Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman
Waterbrook, Oct 5 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780307457172

A half a year has passed since the brutal vampiric homicides stunned the residents of the Ozark town of Abbey Hills, Missouri (see Thirsty). As Lauryn McBride observes the slow torturous death of her father from Alzheimer’s, her family auction house is hosting an estate sale of one of the murder victims, Markus Chisom.

Meanwhile, Lauryn finds letters from the 1870s in the estate addressed to the Dastillion family of New Orleans. Lauryn searches for the kin and learn they still own the same house in which the letters were sent. She informs the family and Amede Dastillion arrives in Abbey Hills allegedly to look at family heirlooms but actually hopes to find clues to her missing sister Eden. At the same time reporter Miranda James believes Markus and Eden were vampires. When a second wave of brutal vampiric homicides occur, the cops look closely at the Bayou visitor as the culprit.

The second Ozark vampiric Christian thriller is an exciting tale in which Tracey Bateman once again effortlessly merges the two sub-genres into a cohesive tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Amede arrives in town as she and Lauryn begin to learn the true history of Abbey hills. Although the climax seems weak and rushed, fans will fully enjoy this terrific horror suspense while thirsting for more such amalgams from Ms. Bateman.

Harriet Klausner

Trolls in the Hamptons-Celia Jerome

Trolls in the Hamptons
Celia Jerome
Daw, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756406301

Once upon a time the creatures of myths and legends (except vampires and shapeshifters) populated the land alongside of cavemen. Humans took over the land of the eldritch killing what they couldn’t understand. It became obvious that though was some cross breeding between species, they could not coexist so on the Day of Unity, an incredible degree of power caused the realm to split with a barrier to keep the two earths apart.

Graphic young adult writer and artist Willow “Willey” Tate is a descendent of the half-breeds. She draws a troll Fafhrd who comes to life, but no one can see him except her. People see the troll as trolley, tree and a bus. British Agent Grant of DUE (Department of Unexplained Events) explains to her she is a decendant of a half-breed like many ofthe people of Peaumkack Harbor in the Hamptons; and that she is to be instrumental in finding a young child Nicky stolen from the town by a megalomaniac bent on world domination. The villain needs Willey for his plan to succeed; she reluctantly agrees as an innocent child is involved who somehow is linked to her troll.

This is a fun zany romantic Hamptons fantasy with the lead couple (Willey and Grant) heating up the sheets with enough energy to keep Long island warm in the winter. There is plenty of action off the sheets too as Willey confronts one confrontation after another. However, who makes the tale fantastic by stealing the show is Fafhrd, a ten foot troll who though an illegal alien is child-like except when it comes to protecting his creator. The villain does not make an in person appearance until the climax, but his malevolence oozes throughout the exciting story line as the suspense builds to a final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scoundrel-Zoe Archer

Zoe Archer
Zebra, Oct 5 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106800

Destruction is as human as apple pie; so to protect mankind from self extinction magic is hidden. Still in spite of overwhelming majorities believing magic to be a parlor trick, some Sources contain unexplained power. The Heirs of Albion want to own all the Sources to support their belief that the citizens of Britain are the master race who should dominate the lesser beings of the world. They have found the most powerful object Primal Source of Africa and now are work on learning how to use it. The Blades of the Rose oppose the Heirs.

Linguist London Harcourt is unaware that her late husband, her father Joseph Edgeworth and her brother belong to the Heirs of Albion. Joseph plans to unleash magic so Britain can rule. Thus in 1875 he takes his widowed daughter with him to Athens, Greece as she speaks an ancient dialect that will bring the wrath of the Gods to the earth. Blade Bennett Day meets London who he realizes is ignorant of the threat posed by her father. He also knows the linguist is the key to the Heirs using the Source.

The second Blades of the Rose historical romantic fantasy is a strong adventure tale as the action moves from the Mongolian setting of the Warrior to Greece. A womanizer, Bennett tries every means he knows to persuade the female to his way of thinking, but never met one as intelligent as London is; although some readers will question how smart she is when she failed to realize the nefarious activities of the three main men in her life (before Bennett). Still fans will enjoy the teaming of a refreshing woman who speaks dead languages and the suave operative as they battle her family who employ her as the expendable key to use magic to dominate the world.

Harriet Klausner

Stars and Gods-Larry Niven

Stars and Gods
Larry Niven
Tor, Aug 17 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765308641

The intent apparently is to enable the reader to have a smorgasbord of the works and ideas of award winning Larry Niven over the past six years. Parts of the tome are refreshing; ironically the nonfiction articles especially in Part Three and somewhat in Part Nine are the best inclusions. The extracts highlighting the worlds of the novels (solo or in collaboration) are also well written, but needed more insight as to what led Mr. Niven and partners to come up with concepts like Ringworld. The short stories are also fun to read especially the two from Draco Tavern. However, extracting one or two chapters from ten novels makes no sense even to introduce new readers to one of the greats of science fiction made even less appealing at hardcover prices.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dreadnought-Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest
Tor, Sep 28 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765325785

At a Richmond hospital nurses like Mercy Lynch do everything from patient care to scrubbing blood from laundry. It is in the laundry room; Clara Barton finds Mercy and informs her that her husband died in a POW camp. Mentally and physically exhausted, Mercy receives a telegram from the Pacific Northwest informing her that her father was recently injured and dying. He wants to see her one last time.

Though estranged, Mercy decides to take the dangerous trip across the continent to Seattle in the Washington territories. The trek by rail and air across the war ravaged Confederacy to St. Louis is dangerous and the dirigible she rides crash lands after shots punctured it. In St. Louis, Mercy boards the steam engine Dreadnaught heading to Tacoma. On the Union train, Mercy meets Texas Ranger Horatio Korman who has an undercover mission he conceals form her. The trip West of the Mississippi proves dangerous though most of the Civil War battles are on the other side of the mighty river. Confederate soldiers attack, which makes Mercy wonder what cargo they carry in the forbidden cars. Worse a Mexican zombie unit assaults the train. Used to death but not the undead, Mercy may be weary, but the intrepid female vows soldiers, rangers, zombies and other ilk will not prevent her from achieving her personal quest.

The sequel to Boneshaker, Dreadnaught is a super steampunk Civil War fantasy. The courageous bone tired Mercy, who overcomes her PTSD, keeps the exciting story line focused. However, it is Cherie Priest’s grim dark 1860s Americana landscape including the aptly named train that makes for a great harrowing historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Handling the Undead-John Ajvide Lindqvist

Handling the Undead
John Ajvide Lindqvist
Dunne, Sep 28 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312605254

The odd weather in Stockholm has had a strange effect on the city’s power grid especially an abrupt significant surge. Soon after the surge, the recently departed return to life. Many of the living are euphoric to see their loved ones. Others are not pleased. Some pray for a reanimation as they wait with hope.

David the comedian has mixed feelings when his beloved wife returns from the dead. ; Elderly reporter Gustav Mahler worries about him and his daughter not moving on passed the death of his grandson; he hopes for a return so he disinters the body from the lad’s grave.

This is a brilliant psychological horror thriller that looks at love and death by analyzing the return of the undead from the perspective of family members and the reanimated corpse. Readers will appreciate the actions and reactions of those living when those dead come back from the grave. Although the story line slows down under the weight of the profound psychological analysis of love and death, fans will relish the reflective story line; wondering of the essence of a person’s soul when they were alive the first time would return as them from the grave.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Power of Illusion-Christopher Anvil

The Power of Illusion
Christopher Anvil
Baen, Oct 5 2010, $12.00
ISBN: 9781439134122

Baen continues paying homage to the late great Christopher Anvil, known for his witty jocular science fiction tales. The eighth and apparently last Anvil book is divided into three sections. Part I Research East includes three James Cardan tales; two shorts and one novella, The Day the Machines Stopped. Part II Solver of Problems stars Richard Verner in all seven of his short stories. Finally Part III Problems, Snafus and Fubars includes eleven miscellaneous tales with the author’s last work The Anomaly first published in this collection.

The Cardan and Verner entries are worth the price of admission as these are two delightful protagonists. Readers will especially enjoy Verner the problem solver. The third section includes well written contributions, but lacks the focus of the other two parts; making this section feeling like a bonus. One common theme that makes this twenty-one story anthology worth reading is the humor even when humanity is on the brink of extinction as Mr. Anvil made the case that The Power of Illusion is keep the reader smiling with sardonic science fiction.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 20, 2010

Warrior-Zoe Archer

Zoe Archer
Zebra, Sep 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106794

In 1874 former British Army Captain Gabriel Huntley has just come home to England with no plans. However, when he sees a lone person under assault by a group, Gabe rushes in to help. He is too late to save the life of Anthony Morris. Before dying Anthony pleads with his Good Samaritan to deliver a message to Franklin Burgess in Urga, Outer Mongolia. Huntley agrees giving a death bed vow to Morris.

Huntley travels to Asia to find Burgess. He does, but the man has a broken leg and cannot follow up on Morris’ missive. Burgess explains to his visitor that he is a member of the Blade of the Rose that prevents magical objects or “sources” from the possession of the “Heirs” who want world domination. Desperate he assigns his daughter Thalia and Huntley to locate and bring in the Mongolian Source at the same time a deadly Heir seeks to obtain it too.

The first Blades of the Rose Victorian Era romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller as the lead couple struggles with their attraction and their mission. Fast-paced and filled with action and adventure in an exotic late nineteenth century locale, Zoe Archer opens her new series with a strong tale.

Harriet Klausner

Path of the Sun-Violette Malan

Path of the Sun
Violette Malan
Daw, Sep 7 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780756406387

The Mercenary Brotherhood in Lesonika inform Brothers Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane that they no longer stand accused of murdering the heir to the throne of Tegrian, as the Prince has been found alive though his sister sits on the throne. The Mercenary Brotherhood assigns the exonerated pair to escort the Arderon Princess Cleona to her wedding to the Tarkin of Menoin; which means another ocean voyage for Dhulyn and Parno as the destination is an island. However, their Guild also directs the duet to investigate the disappearance of two members who traveled last year to Menoin, but have not been heard from since.

They arrive with their charge in Menoin where Dhulyn and Parno hear rumors of ritual mutilations. When the Princess is found murdered, an apparent victim of the ritual killers, the latest victim’s two former escorts follow clues that lead them into the unknown deadly Path of the Sun labyrinth.

The fourth adventures of Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane (see The Storm Watch, The Sleeping God and The Soldier King) is a super fantasy that fans of the sword and sorcery saga will relish. The accusation arch from the previous tales is nicely ended with a whimper rather than a bang while Dhulyn sums up their latest inquiry with her musing that she prefers a horse after several recent water logged escapades. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy traveling with the lead pair as they enter a labyrinth in which few get out alive.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 17, 2010

Trance-Linda Gerber

Linda Gerber
Speak (Penguin), Oct 14 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780142414156

The car accident left her mom dead and Ashlyn hurt mentally because she believes with her visions combined with that of her sister Kyra she could have prevented the tragedy. She looks back to growing up when she and her sibling learned to hide their cursed trances and the number they would write down.

Meanwhile Kyra has cut Ashlyn off, which leaves the latter believing more so she failed her mom and her family. Her father buries himself at work, which leaves Ashlyn feeling further isolated. She feels completely alone despite her efforts to connect with her father and find her sister. Unable to relate when Jake wants to know her better, Ashlyn goes deeper into her shell. Co-worker, Gina tutors her on numerology, which Ashlyn hopes will enable her to interpret the vision and prevent another tragedy as she sees another car accident occurring this time to Jake.

This is an exciting but strange tale as the siblings slowly come to somewhat understand their visions and the numbers they write down while in a Trance. Pathos filled Ashlyn makes the teen tale terrific with her intense struggle to comprehend what the number denote. Character driven, young adult readers will empathize with Ashlyn who blames herself for her failure to interpret her vision in time to save her mom’s life and hope she can this time with Jake on the line.

Harriet Klausner

The Painted Darkness-Brian James Freeman

The Painted Darkness
Brian James Freeman
Cemetery Dance, Nov 9 2010, $19.99
ISBN: 9781587672088

Everyone knows five years old Henry has a vivid imagination so when his parents are away and his babysitter preoccupied, he decided to have an adventure. This was a disaster from the time he climbs on an old tree-house. He sees a skeleton falls to the ground, follows rabbits with red eyes and falls into the frozen river. He can’t swim against the current, but he becomes caught on a tree branch. He follows the rabbits, which leads to the school where his father is eaten alive by monster rabbits. He gets home to see his father is okay, but tells him what happens as a way to release his fears.

Twenty years later, married with a son Henry is having another adventure. There are things in the basement where there are three graves and his furnace starts to talking to him. Henry is scared to death as he hears noises throughout the house. He chalks it up to his imagination, but he is an adult not a preadolescent child.

Henry’s fear and imagination lead to his painting chilling but brilliant art. The chapters alternate between the past and present; enabling the reader to see the similarities between Henry the child and Henry the adult as he makes choices. This is an entertaining but frightening ride filled with heart wrenching moments as the readers wonders whether Henry is psychotic or an oracle.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Venom-Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep
Pocket, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439148013

In Ashland former assassin Spider turned restaurant owner Gin Blanco hides her Stone and Ice magic as she keeps a low profile after killing an associate of the deadly Fire Elemental Mab Monroe. However, she still loathes Mab for murdering her family seventeen years ago and remains dedicated to killing her enemy.

Recently to her shock, Gin has found out that her sister Bria, who she thought died in the massacre, is alive. Gin wants to tell Ashland Police Detective Bria Coolidge that they are siblings, but their respective occupations make her hesitate especially with her plan to destroy her family’s killer. Meanwhile Mab’s prime enforcer gigantic Elliot Slater stalks vampire Roslyn Phillips. To keep Roslyn safe may mean putting her own life at risk from Slater’s humongous fists and delay implementation of her vengeance scheme.

The latest urban fantasy Elemental Assassin saga (see Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies) is a great entry as the killer heroine learns her baby sister is alive, but ironically a cop. Loaded with action from the opening Slater fists to the finish, the key to this exciting thriller is the paranormal seems genuine due to little touches; for instance Gin recovers from the flu. Readers will be engaged with Venom as Gin returns for another exciting elemental escapade.

Harriet Klausner

Eat Prey Love-Kerrelyn Sparks

Eat Prey Love
Kerrelyn Sparks
Avon, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061958038

Her CIA father warned Caitlyn Whelan to never visit Romatech Industries for any reason. However, when she receives an invitation to attend her nephew’s birthday party at Romatech Industries, she rationalizes her dad is being overly protective. Besides she feels propelled to go meet a relative she never knew she had and to see her sister Shanna whom she has not communicated with in six years.

Caitlyn quickly learns why her father told her to never go to Romatech Industries. There she meets vampires; a species she always assumed was in novels and movies, but not real life. She is also attracted to Carlos Panterra, who reciprocates her feelings. The only problem is he is a were-panther seeking his purebred soulmate to help him raise orphans he adopted.

This terrific urban romantic fantasy stars two strong protagonists and a powerful support cast that make vampires and shapeshifters seem real. Fast-paced, readers will see the Sparks flying when Caitlyn and Carlos meet. With their Love at Stake (see Forbidden Nights with a Vampire and The Undead Next Door), sub-genre readers will enjoy this pleasurable thriller.

Harriet Klausner

John Dies at the End-David Wong

John Dies at the End
David Wong
Dunne, Sep 14 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312659141

Late at night John calls his friend video-store worker David with some weird stuff. David writes it off as John using some bad drug or too much alcohol. He goes back to sleep so he can go to work at the video store without another thought about his friend John. That changes rather quickly, however; as soon after that weird call, David reevaluates his initial opinion. Creepy eeriness has come to his hometown.

The night before that ominous call, John spent time with Robert Marley. He tried a strange drug Soy Sauce, which amplified his senses including dying. David has accidentally uses Soy Sauce and is soon being interrogated by the police over some horrific murders. John, who came back from the dead, and David learn they are the goal line defense trying to prevent an invasion from the dark side.

Although well-written, this is not for everyone as the bathroom humor is very vivid. Still those who do not suffer from penis envy or puke at the sight of vomit will laugh at this dark slapstick horror thriller starring two slackers trying to save the universe from Soy Sauce and nasty invaders.

Harriet Klausner

Personal Demons-Lisa Desrochers

Personal Demons
Lisa Desrochers
Tor, Sep 14 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765328083

Frannie comes from a deeply devout family. However, when a loved one dies she questions whether religion has even a grain of truth. In fact in the seventh grade, she is tossed out of Catholic school.

Attending Haden High School which she calls Hades, seventeen year old Frannie is attracted to the new student “devil eyes” Lucifer “Luc” Cain. He reciprocates though his interest is involved in collecting her soul as he works for Hell. The angels become concerned with losing her soul so they send Gabriel. To her shock, she is attracted to “Angel Reyes” Gabe, but for entirely different reasons than why she likes Luc.

Personal Demons is an interesting high school drama starring old buddies forging a triangle of sorts with Frannie. This makes for a unique refreshing battle for a soul as free will reigns leading the audience to wonder whether she will pick the devilish bad boy or the angelic good boy. The key cast seems genuine whether they are human, demon or angel and the setting especially at “Hades” High School is perfect with the range of student types supporting the prime tug of war. Young adult readers will enjoy Lisa Derochers’ version of damn Yankees.

Harriet Klausner

Rise Again-Ben Tripp

Rise Again
Ben Tripp
Gallery (Pocket), Oct 26 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781439165164

It is the Fourth of July and Forest Peak, California Sheriff Danielle Adelman realizes her sister Kelley has run away. Kelley knows that while her sister’s body came home from Iraq, her mind is not in Forest Peak. Before Danielle can look for her, a warning comes over the radio that thousands of from Los Angeles are moving in the direction of Forest Peak looking for safety.

Los Angeles is ground zero; the place where the zombie plague began. The first ones are the George Romero kind who eats human flesh. Later generations are a bit smarter; reanimate quicker and has 1% cognitive ability. Danielle leads a group of survivors to a place of safety before taking off on a quest to find her sister. Her journey is in vain, but the people she left behind lost their freedom when mercenaries arrived and took over. Danielle and her allies try to find ways to rescue the civilians from criminals pretending to be soldiers. If she succeeds she plans to keep this group safe from the zombie apocalypse.

George Romero will love Rise Again (except perhaps it being in California instead of Pittsburgh), a zombie thriller that would make a terrific action movie due to a strong cast of starring characters struggling to survive by choosing to become heroic or malevolent. Danielle is a natural leader who has saved lives by leading her troupe to safety while her concern for her sibling is a powerful emotional driver. Part of the fun is the death of communication as the group has no idea what has happened on other continents in Ben Tripp’s fabulous futuristic apocalyptic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Double Cross-Carolyn Crane

Double Cross
Carolyn Crane
Bantam, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592627

In Midcity, mastermind Packard charmed and subsequently granted Justine Jones with mental powers that she does not want. However, she has no choice so instead of hiding in trepidation as she prefers, Justine fights in the shadows against paranormal criminals although she fears her attraction to her boss.

Packard’s former best friend and current enemy Midcity’s new mayor Otto has high levels of power that match his adversary as both are at the top of the pyramid. Instead, she chooses Otto over Packard. However, Justine also uncovers a plot to kill all high caps like Packard and Otto, and that her manipulative former boss is not as evil as she originally thought. Serial killers with power never seen before are stalking and murdering the high caps.

This is a fascinating street-lit fantasy starring three interesting protagonists, but it is the grim Midcity that owns the electrifying story line. Justine assumes Packard is evil while Otto is benevolent, but soon realizes both high caps are neither pure good nor 200 proof bad. With a strong whodunit, sub-genre readers will appreciate the dark world of Carolyn Crane as Justine learns things are not always like they seem.

Harriet Klausner

Haunted Honeymoon-Marta Acosta

Haunted Honeymoon
Marta Acosta
Gallery (Pocket), Sep 28 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781416598879

Milagro de Los Santos Milagro is unique as the only known individual to survive the vampire infection. Her reputation has spread with people from everywhere interested in what allowed her to be immune. She currently is seen with powerful Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, but loves and misses her former fiancé Dr. Oswald Grant and misses his lunatic relatives.

In London, all hell breaks out with horrific murders seemingly everywhere Milagro goes. Though the prime suspect, she flees to her favorite “asylum”, the Grant family ranch, to ponder who would kill to frame her. However, her deliberations end when an accident leaves Milagro suffering from amnesia. She has no memory of being a vampire or Ian. Instead, Milagro returns to being the carefree party girl she was before her conversion.

The fourth Casa Dracula fantasy (see The Bride of Casa Dracula and Midnight Brunch) is a clever fascinating entry as Marta Acosta brilliantly uses amnesia to bring the heroine back to her pre Happy Hour at Casa Dracula carefree roots. Fast-paced, Haunted Honeymoon is a brisk breezy thriller as Milagro proves you can go home, sort of.

Harriet Klausner

Drink of Me-Jacquelyn Frank

Drink of Me
Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420109856

The Prime Ruele and his pack arrive at a house filled with their enemy the jackals who hold one of the pack members Chayne nailed through his extremities. They know that jackals feed on emotional anguish and proceed carefully because one bite will kill them. Ruele senses someone else nearby filled with pain and sorrow. As his team kills the jackals and frees a severely hurt Chayne, Ruele finds a woman huddled on the top floor. He goes to her only to be stunned when she tells him “sange, banter mo” before going unconscious. They take her to their city Jeth. The female is battered all over her small body and when she awakens she does not know her name, how she got to the building, or how she got hurt. She calls him her mate and says he is hung well. Ruele informs her no one wants a Sange as a mate except their own kind as other species believe his is perverted due to their orgasmic bites.

Ruele calls her Mystique which she likes. Mystique seduces Ruele telepathically as he thinks of what she first said “sange, banter mo”; drink of me a sange mate affectionate phrase and sensual action. For the first time he is losing control of his mind and the rest of the pack feels it as his energy is the strongest. She begins to display telepathic and healing powers, but remains a mystery and much of the Prime remain suspicious of her and her past will soon catch up to her.

This is an enjoyable stand alone romantic fantasy that is not part of the Nightwalker-Shadowdweller saga. The Frank world is solidly established and the lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have extraordinary paranormal powers while the support cast especially his pack is strong. Although the villain is weak, readers will appreciate Jacquelyn Frank’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Juggler in the Wind-Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin

Juggler in the Wind
Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin
Chiron Books, Aug 1 2010, $8.95
ISBN: 9781935178071

In Buchanan, Kansas, fourteen year old Randy Carmichael lives with his single mom, an alcoholic. Randy is bored as they go nowhere; not to Topeka or even nearby Emporium. When the Circus Olympus arrives in town setting up near Randy's house, he is thrilled and looks forward to going. However, he is stunned when mom says no that he is not going without an explanation except she is the parent. His mom warns Randy to stay away from the circus.

Unsure why she feels so strongly, Randy cuts school to attend the show. Unable to explain to himself why, Randy leaves town with the circus. Meanwhile the performers turn out to be the ancient Greek pantheon of Gods, who though immortal have fallen mightily since they were worshiped deities. Their circus is nearly bankrupt and the law seeks to arrest them. Randy begins to suffer from odd dreams that apparently singer Johnny “Dionysus” Vine has sent him. His mom follows ready to explain who he really is though she fears she may be too late.

This is a terrific young adult thriller that provides a fascinating look at the ancient Greek Gods (mindful of classic Star Trek’s Who Mourns for Adonis?). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Randy holds a magical wand and soon gets into all sorts of adventures while joining the troupe with his panic-stricken mom in hot pursuit. Although Dionysus’ powers feel out place re his Olympus peers and their need for Randy, the Y.A. crowd and fans of Greek mythology will want to read the first Wand Bearer rustic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance-Lori Perkins (Editor)

Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance
Lori Perkins (Editor)
St. Martin’s Griffin, Sep 28 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312650797

This is an engaging twenty-one short stories that focus on the subgenre of zombie romance. That extra twist brings the heart and soul to a well written compilation. “Romance Ain’t Dead by Jeremy Wagner stars a human husband loving his reanimated wife who drowned in Lake Michigan. Francesca Lia Block provides an amusing warm tale of two revenants meeting at “Revenants Anonymous”. "I Heart Brains" by Jaime Saare has an infected male shopping at the mall for a new body, but also meets a widow. In “Everyone I Love Is dead” by Elizabeth Coldwell stars an Undead who returns from the grave to see his beloved but she has moved on with another man. Similar in tone as Ms. Coldwell’s entry, Regina Riley provides the "Undying Love" of a zombie searching for his lost love. All the tales are fun and entertaining for fans of zombie romances as each author insures their lead couple contains fully functioning hearts as love never dies even the "Last Times at Ridgemont High" by Kilt Kilpatrick.

Harriet Klausner

Dying to Live-Kim Paffenroth

Dying to Live
Kim Paffenroth
Permuted Press (Gallery/Simon and Schuster), Sep 28 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781439180716

Almost one year ago, the dead began to reanimate. The zombie infestation spread and soon few humans are left to choose fight or flight. Jonah Caine, a former English Lit professor, has been alone for most of this time. He prays that he find other humans, but so far has not met anyone except the undead.

Needing food, he enters a dead urban center in which the abandoned jewelry store is stocked but the liquor store has one bottle of bad bourbon left. Jonah knows how dangerous the urban centers are so hr hopes to leave soon. At a convenience store he hits the jackpot with Twinkies and snow ball cakes until zombies attack him. He kills some and flees with the zombies in chase when a man with a bullhorn calls to him. His first human he has mot seen in weeks, perhaps months. They rescue him. Their leader is Jack Lawson who welcomes Jonah into the group staying inside the Museum of Science and History. He meets Doc a former dental hygienist turned medical practitioner and the odd Milton who is different yet obsessed with rebuilding civilization; it is the latter he finds stimulating as they intellectually discuss philosophy.

This is an intriguing intelligent zombie thriller that hooks the audience from the opening when Jonah kills from a tree house. Kim Paffenroth effortlessly intertwines plenty of action with literary commentary and philosophy. Besides obvious names like Jonah and Milton, there are references from the bible, Dante’s Inferno and works of the Bard. Yet with all that the story line is loaded with action. However, it is the optimism of Milton contrasted to the grim description of a dead America especially the small Midwest city that keeps the reader’s interest in a strong fresh zombie tale.

Harriet Klausner

Jane and the Damned-Janet Mullany

Jane and the Damned
Janet Mullany
Avon, Sep 28 2010, $13.99
ISBN 9780061958304

In 1797, Jane Austen is depressed when her manuscript is returned obviously unopened and rejected. Her father the Reverend tells her to keep trying as like him, her mom and her siblings, believe she is very talented.

Jane, her sister Cassandra and Catherine Bigg attend a dance at the Basingstoke Assembly Room. At the gala, Jane meets Sybil Smith who repairs the wannabe writer’s sleeve. Soon after her encounter with Sybil, she meets Miss Smith’s brother who tastes her blood and turns her into a vampire. Jane becomes ill and her father takes her and the rest of the family to Bath to find the cure for vampirism. When the forces of the French Revolutionary Army cross the Channel, Jane joins the English vampire corps led by Luke Venning to repel the invaders.

This is an entertaining Jane Austen vampire tale that readers of historical fantasy will enjoy although the recasting of the famous author in a variety of roles has been so frequent, it feels like its own sub-genre (see Bespelling Jane Austin, which includes a Janet Mullany novella). The story line is fast-paced as the heroine adapts to her new status, but insight into the Damned society is somewhat lacking. Still Jane and the Damned is an enjoyable early regency fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Iron Duke-Meljean Brook

The Iron Duke
Meljean Brook
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236673

The Horde had conquered England; setting up its nanotechnological control tower to insure no rebellion occurred. The invincible enemy was unprepared for a pirate Rhys Trahaearn who blew up their tower and liberated the country. He became a hero and rewarded as the Iron Duke. No longer working as a pirate, respectable Rhys is a successful merchant.

A corpse is dumped from an airship landing by Rhys’ home. Half-Horde Police Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth leads the official investigation. Rhys has plans for the cop, but soon is at her side as she treks the zombie swamps after the identification of the victim leads her to conclude a sinister conspiracy plans to destroy England.

This alternate England science fiction is a terrific high seas and air adventure in which the romantic subplot is kept in the background as the lead couple struggles with saving the country. Action-packed from the moment the body fell from the sky, readers will feel they entered the world of Brooks in which nanotechnology plays a key role. Rhys is a roguish hero while Mina used to prejudice is a dedicated person who risks her life for people who look down on her mixed breeding. The Iron Duke is a fabulous thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Selfish Is The Heart-Megan Hart

Selfish Is The Heart
Megan Hart
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234563

Annalise Marony has doubts about her arranged upcoming marriage to Jacquin Kirkol; as neither feel any attraction to the other. Still she plans to wed him until she catches him with another woman. Annalise ends their engagement, but to avoid being forced into marriage, she becomes Handmaiden in training of the Order of Solace.

Cassian the teacher of the faith has doubts about the motives of the newest student who is older than the typical enrollee. He as her master goes all out to prove her dedication to the faith as false. She knows she must hide that she is a non-practicing believer. Annalise does so by teasing and tormenting her instructor. Their game deepens and their attraction grows stronger, each fears their soul will either wither until death or bind them together in a higher level of consciousness.

The latest Order of Solace tale (see the Pleasure And Purpose with its three novellas and No Greater Pleasure) is a super entry as Megan Hart keeps her unique erotic world fascinatingl by using a master as the lead male. Once again, The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace world seems plausible as it is filled with plenty of Hart due to a strong cast. Readers will relish this engaging erotic entry.

Harriet Klausner

Seducing The Succubus-Cassie Ryan

Seducing The Succubus
Cassie Ryan
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236840

As she has done seemingly for eternity, Queen Lilith assigns soul collecting quotas to the four succubus demons who know they must never fail her or else. Jezebeth has been seducing men for centuries in order to darken their soul so she can deliver to her ruler.

As Jezebeth conducts business with a male, an imp arrives to warn her that the fallen Semiaszas has escaped incarceration and coming after her and her sisters. Jez realizes the imp has led a pestilence bounty hunter demon working for Semiaszas to her; the imp says he paid off Lilith and the hunter before vanishing.

Doing research for his next horror novel led Noah Halston into soul trouble when an incantation brought forth Lilith demanding one night with her or his soul. Rejecting both choices, he accepts option three taking Jezebeth to safety. Attracted to the succubus, Noah fears his soul is lost, but tries to focus on the goal of keeping her safe.

The first Sisters of Darkness erotic fantasy is a terrific tale due to the romance taking somewhat of a backseat to the danger throughout the Ryan universe of heaven and hell and points in between. Fast-paced, the trek is dangerous as demons and angels want the head of Jez while Noah wants her body and soul. Readers will enjoy the trip to safety as the politics of heaven and hell will remind the audience of the often heated Cold War.

Harriet Klausner

Something Wicked-Michelle Rowen

Something Wicked
Michelle Rowen
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425237465

Part Nephilim Eden Riley contains Darrak the demon inside her due to a curse. Darrak has resided in many bodies over the last three centuries, but for Eden this is a new dangerous experience as every day he possesses her means she is nearer to dying. When her psychic skills brings him physical form, she knows she likes what she sees, but must decide soon what to do before it is too late. If she exorcises the demon, he dies; if she does not she dies.

They seek a way to end his curse, which would free him, keep her alive, and have a happy new beginning together in two separate bodies. However, as they find information, Eden fears what she has learned makes her wonder if Darrak is concealing the truth from her. Darrak has issues too as the first time in all his possessions he cares about his host and does not want to hurt her. Desperate he asks a close demonic friend for advice; forgetting the first rule of demonology is never trust a demon.

The second Living in Eden urban fantasy (see The Demon In Me) is an engaging often amusing thriller as Darrak and Eden struggle with their relationship as each prays the other survives. The story line is fast-paced as Eden learns some inconvenient truths about her guest and Darrak likewise about trusting a demon. Something Wicked is something fun to read.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crave-J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward
Signet, Oct 5 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229441

Heaven works in mysterious ways as affirmed when recently deceased, acrimonious construction worker and retired assassin Jim Heron became a chosen one responsible to save seven assigned souls that Devina the demon craves. If he wins all seven the evil Devina dies; if he loses just one all hell breaks lose. His first battle with Devina was over Vin diPietro (see Covet).

Soul number two is former black ops agent and brother in arms Isaac Rothe who did the unthinkable when he left Matthias and the XOps; as no one leaves except in a body bag. His arrest in South Boston for participating in an illegal underground fight leaves him behind bars and vulnerable to a XOps assassin. Even scarier is his attraction to his public defender Grier Childe who reciprocates his desire. However, neither Matthias nor the Massachusetts legal system is the major stalker. Devina craves his soul and Jim must find a way to help his former brother in arms triumph over evil of a human and demonic kind.

With a loose connection to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Crave is a terrific second Fallen Angels romantic urban fantasy. The ultra dark story line is action-packed with South Boston looking extremely grim yet the flicker of hope resides inside the hearts of Isaac and Grier. Fans of J.R. Ward will enjoy this super paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Eternal Hunger-Laura Wright

Eternal Hunger
Laura Wright
Signet, Oct 5 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451231499

The three Pureblood vampiric Roman brothers (Alexander, Nicholas and Lucian) left the Eternal Order community due to a dispute over tyrannical rules and the prejudicial mistreatment of the Impure half breeds. The affluent trio vows to never return but the arrogant Order ignores their pledge of the siblings when a powerful unknown Impure dares to assault the purebloods.

The Order abducts Alexander and without asking or informing him, they change him into a Morpho male breeder. He becomes deathly ill and suddenly cannot tolerate the sun as he also now obsesses over finding his true mate. Although having her own problems from a stalker, human Dr. Sara Donohue saves Alexander’s life, but though he is grateful he is also perturbed that this purebred may be his soulmate.

This is a great opening of the Mark of the Vampire urban romantic fantasy series. It works smoothly and excitingly on several interwoven levels; of which most important is the Wright world feels plausible and refreshingly new, and the key players genuine. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Alexander’s issues with the Order, the female human who saved him and his craving for her, and the stalker of her and killer of Purebloods while also looking forward to the blood lines of the other two Roman brothers.

Harriet Klausner

Sins of the Flesh-Eve Silver

Sins of the Flesh
Eve Silver
Harlequin HQN, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774845

Underworld enforcer and soul reaper Malais Krayl seeks vengeance against those who murdered his brother Lokan. His prime target is to abduct High Reverend Pytor Kuznetsov, who he knows had his fellow Soul reaper assassinated.

At the same time Mal executes his plan, a blooded Daughter of Aset Calliope Kane grabs Kuznetsov. The arrival of a third person enables Calliope to take Kuznetsov. When Mal catches up to his natural enemy Calliope, he finds himself shockingly attracted to her. She, in turn, has loathed the Soul Reapers all her life so cannot understand why she wants him. However, external events leave all the soul reaper brothers and their mates in jeopardy

The third Otherkin Krayl romantic fantasy (see Sins of the Heart and Sins of the Soul) is a fabulous entry as two tough enemies collide in a terrific otherworldly gender war. Neither welcomes the forbidden attraction, but both cannot run from it though they try to conceal it. However, teaming up to prevent a deadly threat to Krayl and his comrades is against everything Kane believes in yet she has no choice. Eve Silver strikes gold for the third time in this entertaining Underworld saga.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When Pleasure Rules-J.K. Beck

When Pleasure Rules
J.K. Beck
Bantam, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440245780

Being a succubus, club owner Lissa Monroe understands those who work for her as she rescued her succubae from abusive masters. They provide pleasure to the humans while feeding on mortals, but they never kill the client.

Lissa has a unique extra skill that none of her employees possess. She can read the mind of her lover. The Division learns of Lissa’s special talent and wants her to help them with a Los Angeles serial killer case going nowhere. They ask her to enter the mind of Vincent Rand, who apparently has information on the deaths of innocent people. Lissa prefers not to read this man she is attracted to while Vincent struggles with his desire for the succubus, which keeps him from focusing on his personal mission at a time when the Shadow Alliance between vampires and werewolves is shattering one murder at a time.

The second Shadow Keepers romantic urban fantasy (see When Blood Calls) is a terrific dark heated thriller that grips the audience from start to finish. Rand and Monroe distrust each other but part of their qualms is caused by an attraction that neither want. As the fragile Alliance between the vampires and werewolves appears increasingly dead, the lead couple investigates the homicides while fearing what they will find inside their respective hearts.

Harriet Klausner

Styx's Storm-Lora Leigh

Styx's Storm
Lora Leigh
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425237397

Growing up in a household in which her father was too busy to spend time with her because he was always working at the Council lab on Breed research led to Storme Montague resenting the species. Irate with Breeds, she is over the top with rage when she witnessed a Coyote Breed kill her father and brother during a liberation raid; his research apparently destroyed.

Storme’s late father gave her a chip containing information that would help the Breeds. However, a decade has passed since she observed the murders of her family, but she refuses to give the data to either the Council or the Breed; distrusting both sides. On the run this whole time, Storme knows the enemies are closing in on her, but remains suspicious of the Council and loathes the Breeds. Styx Mackenzie is assigned to capture Storme whose blood apparently marks her as his mate before she is taken and sold by the slavers.

Styx’s Storm is a refreshing Breeds entry (see Lion’s Heat and Bengal’s Heart) due to the psychological scars the lead female has from witnessing the murders of her father dedicated to helping the Breeds and her brother by a Breed. Her prejudice is to lump all Breeds in the same category as violent beasts just like the Coyote psychopath who murdered her family. Thus Styx has his work cut out to not just bring this woman in who he distrusts, but to persuade her they are soul mates and not just sex mates.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 6, 2010

To Wish Or Not To Wish-Mindy Klasky

To Wish Or Not To Wish
Mindy Klasky
Mira, Oct 1 2010, $13.95
ISBN: 9780778328308

Wannabe actress Erin Hollister affirms her belief that bad things come in three. First she was rejected for a part in a Mamet play as she was the wrong body type. Second her time at the Equity Audition Center made her late for her survival job at Concerned Caters and she performs poorly so is fired. Finally she thinks she is pregnant, but when she tells her significant other, he accuses her of irresponsibility before dumping her.

Her friend Becca (see When Good Wishes Go Bad) and her significant other Ryan are going to Africa for a year so she asks Erin to stay in her condo at not cost while she is overseas. Inside the condo, Erin finds a crate with her name on it that she assumes Becca left her. She opens the crate to find an old tarnished brass lantern. When she cleans it with a rag, a man appears in a police uniform out of nowhere. He says his name is Teel and he gives her the standard genie contract in which he fulfills her wishes in exchange for free time outside the lamp, but she must choose rather quickly before the offer expires.

This is an amusing yet poignant romantic urban fantasy as Erin struggles with what to wish for as she learns what matters in life. The key to this strong As You Wish entry (see How Not To Make A Wish) is the relationships between Erin and others. First there is caring for her sister and nephew (living in New Brunswick) as her brother-law is a soldier in the Middle East Theater of Operations, and second is her concern and attraction to Teel once she makes her wish. Readers will appreciate the warm humorous To Wish Or Not To Wish that is the question facing Erin.

.Harriet Klausner

Alpha-Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent
Mira, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778328186

Her brother Ethan is dead, but Faythe has no time to grieve as she goes after another sibling Ryan accompanied by her two lovers Marc and Jace. Her sibling allowed the rapes of Abby and Sara, and the sexual assault of Faythe when he failed to intervene. Faythe tells him to leave before she takes two parts of his anatomy as earrings.

Faythe travels to Montana to testify against Council chair Calvin Malone, Jace’s stepfather, as the territorial war between the Prides seems eminent. She knows she wants to rip the skin off Malone and his henchman Dean because she has evidence that they killed Ethan, but justice is more important in her new role as the Alpha of her Pride. Besides leading her Pride as the hostilities turn heated, Faythe must choose between loyal always there Jace and angry acrimonious Marc.

The last chapter of the exciting Shifters urban fantasy saga (see Shift and Pride) is a terrific entry as the heroine shows her maturity as a leader since the first tale (see Stray). What she might do as part of the Pride is different than what she must do as the Alpha of the Pride. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans of Rachel Vincent’s entertaining romantic werewolf saga will relish the well-written final thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Scars-Patience Prence

Patience Prence
Spring Harvest, Mar 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780982633601

In a concentration camp in what was once the free United States of America, but now is the tyrannical Northern American Union, sixteen years old Rebekah Silver sits in a cell, contemplating how she came to bee here. She was a Southern California high school cheerleader until the earthquake destroyed her home. Becky has seen the tsunamis cause massive devastation eradicating metropolitan New York City and Florida while leaving much of the rest East Coast in ruins.

In a world shattered by natural and man-made catastrophes comes Maitreyes the Prophet whose predictions always come true. He rises in power until he becomes the world’s leader. When he dies, he is resurrected so that most people including Becky’s mom believe he is the Christ. Anyone who fails to believe Maitreyes is God or keeps a bible with them is considered a heretic enemy of the state and sentenced to death. That is how Becky has ended up in a cage as she ponders how strong her faith really is.

Patience Prence’s End of Times saga targets the teen crowd with this fascinating one sitting thriller. Becky was a normal teen worried about passing tests and meeting boys until extraordinary circumstances changed her life. Now she must decide between her faith in the one God, which most likely will make her a martyr no one heard of, or bow to Maitreyes. Her tribulations make for an exciting saga.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Strange Affair Of Spring-Heeled Jack-Mark Hodder

The Strange Affair Of Spring-Heeled Jack
Mark Hodder
PYR, Sep 1 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616142407

By 1861, Britain is radically changing due to technology; enhanced by the eugenicists creating specialized beasts to do the labor. Four groups emerge to challenge the power structure. The Libertines demand no laws insisting government impedes creativity; the Rakes agree with no government interference as they are anarchists demanding the use of magic fueled by sex and drugs to create a super human, the Engineers use technology to transform the world into a marvelously polluted realm in their image; and finally the Eugenicists create specialized beasts of burden.

British Prime Minister Lord Pamerston hires Sir Richard Burton, just back from the Nile expedition, to serve as the "King's Spy". His first investigation is to look into the reported sexual assaults by an apparent apparition Spring-Heeled Jack. At the same time Algernon Charles Swinbourne is doing an inquiry of his own. Meanwhile apparently hybrid canine-humans are kidnapping chimney sweeps while terrorizing the East End. Richard also plans to learn what happened to his injured former friend, John Speke, who vanished.

This is a fascinating tongue in cheek alternate historical thriller that grips the reader throughout. The story line pays homage to Dickens and Wells in a setting in which the moral fiber that kept the sun from setting on the Empire is waning from the extremes demanding the establishment of their Eden regardless of the cost to others. As the threads converge into a great twist, readers will want to join Burton and Swinbourne discovering the truth of Mark Hodder’s Victorian England.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Darkness Captured-Delilah Devlin

Darkness Captured
Delilah Devlin
Avon, Sep 21 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061498237

In New Orleans, the ruling vampires ask the werewolves to find the daywalker and demon who are murdering their species especially their group. Shapeshifter Gabriella is assigned as the emissary to the vampires as the werewolf leaders agree to assist the Undead.

The demon seduces Gabriella even bringing her into the Land of the Dead. He satiates her sexual desires at the cost of her soul. Guntram the warrior werewolf loves Gabriella and will do anything to save her life. He is ready to enter the land of the dead, but does not have to do it alone; as vampires and werewolves unite.

The fourth erotic Dark Realm romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Burning, Into The Darkness and Seduced By The Darkness) is a super thriller that fans of the saga will devour faster than an Undead can fast food on human blood. New Orleans comes across as a city where humans, vampires and werewolves (and others) co-exist. However, Gabriella makes the tale as she must choose between the demon who makes her come and the wolf who offers her much more than just sex.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Book of the Living Dead-John Richard Stephens(ed)

The Book of the Living Dead
John Richard Stephens (ed)
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425237069

This is a fascinating collection of a who’s who of literature that writes a short horror thriller. Some of the contributors are expected to appear in an anthology dedicated to the living dead; defined by Editor John Richard Stephens to include zombies, vampires, mummies, other unclassified reanimated corpses, and a couple even beyond that miscellaneous categorization. Readers will expect Mart Shelley (abbreviated “Frankenstein”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Facts of M. Valdemar’s Case”), H.P. Lovecraft (“Herbert West: Reanaimator”) and Washington Irving (“The Adventures of the German Student”). Fans will also recognize some of the titles like “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs and “The Ghoul” by Sir Hugh Clifford. These are all super entries. However, the fun in the tale is discovering works by famous writers whose genre is as far from horror as the sun is from Pluto. These include Guy de Maupassant (“The Hand”) Mark Twain (“A Curious Dream”), Sir Walter Scott (“The hero of the Tomb”) and Jack London (“A Thousand Deaths”). All twenty-seven contributions are terrific as life after death proves chillingly dark and deadly to the delight of readers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More Stories from the Twilight Zone-Carol Serling

More Stories from the Twilight Zone
Carol Serling
Tor, Jul 2010, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765325822

The second Twilight Zone anthology edited by Carol Serling contains nineteen strong entries that will remind readers of the TV series with final twists and intriguing paradoxical morality dramas. None of the entries are bad, but a few are excellent. This author especially enjoyed the historical lessons of “Curve” by Loren Estleman, “Reversal of Fortune” by Robert J. Serling and “The Mystery of History” by Lee Lawless. Also super are David Gerrold’s twisted take on employment in the Twilight Zone “Sales of a Deathman” and Nancy Holder’s romantic spin in “By the Book”. Fans of the series will fully appreciate the compilation fittingly ended with “An Odyssey, Or Whatever You Call It, Concerning Baseball” by Rod Serling as next stop is Yankee Stadium, a dimension as vast in centerfield as space but with a short leftfield porch that makes it timeless.

Harriet Klausner

Truthseeker-C.E. Murphy

C.E. Murphy
Del Rey, Aug 31 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345516060

In Boston Lara Jansen trusts her intuition so while working at a tailor shop, her hairs leap up when a handsome man enters. He insists he is Prince Dafydd ap Caerwyn of the faerie and she is a Truthseeker; a rare individual who is more accurate than a lie detector in determining truth from fabrication. She believes him as he stinks at his day job of meteorologist. He pleads with her to come to his home to help ascertain who murdered his brother.

She accompanies the attractive prince through a portal into faerie. There she is stunned when she finds herself in the middle of a Seelie civil war as her irresistible companion failed to reveal this and apparently there are other secrets he conceals. Meanwhile someone in the shadows uses magic to further the dispute, which leaves two realms, Faeirie and Earth, in peril.

Truthseeker, the first of a two book fantasy, is a terrific opening act as C.E. Murphy sets the stage with a strong secretive royal and a special pragmatic human. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine steps through the window into Faerie and never slows down. Fans will appreciate this strong fantasy due to Lara, a wonderful Red Sox in a Faerie prince court.

Harriet Klausner

The Silent Army-James Knapp

The Silent Army
James Knapp
Roc, Oct 5 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463616

In a dark and bleak future, science has progressed to the point where the deceased can be revived and function mentally with recall of their past though their bodies remain dead. Revivors are used as soldiers fighting endless wars on the other side of the world and nanotech stops decay and repairs. Samuel Fawkes is a Revivor who is battling the establishment because he believes that reprogrammed memories are part of the population and can only be accessed when a person dies and becomes a Revivor.

He goes one step further as he thinks a solid data base will back up his theory that a shadow government controls the minds of most f the population. Fawkes, who though a Revivor, controls all the other Revivors, which means he has an army he is amassing while obtaining twelve nuclear bombs that he intends to explode to make a statement. FBI Agent Nico Wachalowsloski is assigned to find the bombs and other weapons of mass destruction while other operatives look for the ship importing Reviveors from foreign locations.

Military zombies are not a new concept (see World War Z by Max Brooks), but made fresh due to the lead adversaries as Fawkes may be a reanimated corpse but is also a strategic and operational thinker, and Nico believes Revivors have feelings. Heroic Nico especially risks his life to save a friend and dreads the confrontation that he knows is coming between him and Fawkes on a logical level and on a personal level the love of his life Faye Dasalia who is a loyal to Fawkes the Revivor. Readers will enjoy this science fiction as caring Nico believes Samuel is a terrorist while on the contrary Samuel believes he is a freedom fighter.

Harriet Klausner