Monday, February 28, 2011

Wolfsangel-M.D. Lachlan

M.D. Lachlan
PYR, Mar 22 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143572

King Authun leads his men on a raid of a village; but before they arrive at their destination he warns them they will all die. None are afraid as warriors prefer death in combat. The monarch’s mission is to find the royal heir to his throne as prophesied by the Queen of the witches. In a Christian church, Authun finds twin male babies. He takes the pair with him leaving behind his loyal soldiers except one to die. In the North Sea his last comrade raises his sword in combat before diving to his death as no one except the witch, the king and his wife will know the heir’s origin.

Several years later, one of the infants Prince Vali the heir lives with a rival ruler. He loves Adisla and prefers working the land rather than fighting for land. When raiders attack, Vali uses strategy to defend the village successfully though they capture Adisla. Those he saved from certain death loath Vali for using unacceptable tactics as the warrior credo insists on fighting to the death. Cerebral Vali and his feral brother Feileg raised by the Witch Queen as a warrior wolf join on a quest to rescue Adisla though neither realizes they are related. The adventures of the twins are just beginning.

Using Norse mythology, M.D. Lachlan tells a strong quest fantasy that contains two distinct yet related story lines. The first described above is a sword and sorcery thriller while the other subplot involved the intrusion of the Gods on the lives of mortals. Fast-paced and loaded with plenty of action while establishing the Lachlan world order and setting up future escapades; readers will be hooked as the twins chase after raiders to rescue Adisla. Interestingly even with long stretches without either of the polar opposite twin stars, Wolfsangel enchants the audience.

Harriet Klausner

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja-John Flanagan

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
John Flanagan
Philomel, Apr 19 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780399255007

In Toscana, the Aridi representatives led by Selethen negotiate a treaty with the Toscan Senate. The two nations have had wars in the past, but with wiser leaders each sees the benefit of trade and security even as they deploy different military strategies. At the same time that Will and Halt toss friendly insults at each other while watching the Toscan military perform under the leadership of General Sapristi, Alyss is part of the negotiating team.

Meanwhile their friend Horace fails to communicate with his comrades in arms as he has spent months in the Nihon-Ja Empire. However, something is not right as the popular Emperor Lord Shigeru is disposed of in a coup d’état. Knowing he should stay out of the internal squabble between those loyal to the Emperor and the Arisaka led Senji rebels, but he feels injustice has come to the eastern kingdom. Soon his worried Araluen friends (Selethen, Will, Alyss and Evanlyn) arrive in Nihon-Ja searching for him.

The latest Ranger’s Apprentice saga is a great thriller that grips the audience as all is quiet on the western front, but civil war has broken out in the east. The story line is loaded with action from the moment the story line shifts to Nihon-Ja and never slows down with heroes’ regretting they have only one life to give to their emperor. Fans will enjoy this powerful military thriller in the Flanagan realm as one person can clearly make a difference if he or she takes the risk.

Harriet Klausner

Enigmatic Pilot-Kris Saknussemm

Enigmatic Pilot
Kris Saknussemm
Del Rey, Mar 22 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9780812974171

In 1844 in Zanesville, Ohio, clubfooted inventor Hephaestus Sitturd; his Seal islands Creole wife Rapture and their genius five years old son Lloyd receive an invitation to move to Texas. Hephaestus’s half-brother Micah claims they can make a fortune, but his message is enigmatic as he insists he cannot explain how on paper.

Although mystified by Micah’s odd note as war with Mexico seems imminent, the Sitturd family begins their odyssey across America. Lloyd a gifted inventor of oddities learns how to play poker from watching St, Ives a riverboat gambler with a mechanical hand containing a saber; they become partners. He works out the issue of humans flying and encounters robots masquerading as people after meeting the Professor and his two mute wives as ambassadors of Mars. It is Miss Viola who teaches him the ways of seduction as two ancient arcane societies continue their epochal war with one another over the future of humanity with each believing the brilliant Lloyd will be a tipping point. However it is teenage Hattie the escaped slave who teaches the lad how to love.

Starting in Zanesville but a couple of centuries earlier than Kris Saknussemm’s previous Zanesville dark futuristic thriller, preadolescent genius Lloyd holds the exhilarating but enigmatic tale together as he creates oddities and meets oddities. Lloyd learns from the masters while teaching his mentors as well. However, each time the audience feels comfortable, Kris Saknussemm throws a spitball that spins the moral code elsewhere. The author extrapolates the present values back to the nineteenth century arguing that the American dream is a nightmarish facade for most and a dream for few even as early as the Antebellum period.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blood Wicked-Sharon Page

Blood Wicked
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758250940

In 1820 Vivienne Dare knows only one way to obtain the money pay for the medicine her child needs to stay alive. The former courtesan uses her body to bring in needed revenue. She especially services affluent males.

When she is directed to sleep with Lord Heath Winthrop, she emphatically refuses. She fears the Lord of Blackmoor will demand more than just a night and she will want to obey his desires. Instead she is ignorant of what Heath wants from her; as the vampire plans to interrogate Vivienne using seduction to obtain answers from her as to what happened to his missing brother Raine. He thinks she may have been involved or her father who made him ten years ago.

Blood Wicked is a terrific erotic Regency paranormal romance starring two individuals with similar needs and ultimately desires. Whereas she willingly would sell her soul to save her child’s life, he understands how she feels from his human days as a father whose daughter died. Character driven, Sharon Page provides another suspenseful Blood Deep historical romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Red and Blood Rose).

Harriet Klausner

In the Arms of Stone Angels-Jordan Dane

In the Arms of Stone Angels
Jordan Dane
Harlequin Teen, Mar 22 2011,
ISBN: 9780373210299

In Shawano, Oklahoma when Brenna Nash was fourteen years old, she came upon her best friend Isaac (White Bird) Henry rocking over the corpse of Heather Madsen in his hands and mumbling insanely. She called 911. Fearing retaliation from the townsfolk for her daughter doing the responsible thing, Mom takes Brenna with her as she moves to North Carolina leaving behind their family.

Two years later, Brenna’s maternal grandmother dies. Mom accompanied by a reluctant Brenna returns home to fix up the house in order to sell it. Unable to ignore White Bird, Brenna learns he is in a catatonic state in an asylum. Although she believes her Brenna was involved in the Madsen murder, Mom proves right about the town; Sheriff Logan also thinks Brenna was involved in the homicide and teens vandalize their home. However, though warned to stay away from White Bird, Brenna somehow communicates with him when she touches him at the mental hospital. The horror she “sees’ is the hell he resides in filled with demons and worse. Her only recourse is to turn to Joe “Spirit Walker” Sunne who does not trust her.

In the Arms of Stone Angels is an engaging teen rural fantasy starring a strong cast who evolve as events happen, especially the young lead. Brenna at first is overwhelmingly filled with remorse for turning in her BFF, but knows she did the right thing though her emotional regret supersedes her defense mechanism logic. Although too many threads are left unanswered, readers will enjoy a stop at “A Town Without Pity” (Gene Pitney) as Native American mythos blends with a whodunit in Jordan Dane’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

WWW: Wonder-Robert J. Sawyer

WWW: Wonder
Robert J. Sawyer
Ace, Apr 5 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441019762

Webmind the essence that consciously evolved from the internet continues to prove its altruistic intentions of helping humanity on a variety of fronts like the cure for cancer. However, the American government pushed by the military-industrial complex wants Webmind destroyed under the guise of a major security threat to the United States.

Having failed once to eliminate the A.I., the president invokes executive power to approve the Pentagon’s leading A.I. expert Colonel Peyton Hume to apply any force necessary to eliminate the threat to the security of the country. Hume directs his team of underground hackers to overwhelm and rip away the awareness of being of Webmind. However, his secure unit begins to vanish one at a time while Webmind’s BFF teenage mathematical genius Caitlin Decter vows to save the life of her buddy who gave her the gift of sight.

The third and final thriller in the WWW saga is an engaging climax to an intriguing story line. Action-packed, it behooves fans to have read the previous two entries (Wake and Watch) as the tale ties up seemingly every thread (major and minor) so that at times it feels PowerPoint deep. Still well written, readers will enjoy Robert J. Sawyer’s deep look at the Web age of American power in which leaders believe they need threats like Big Brother is watching you even when none exists.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Con and Conjure-Lisa Shearin

Con and Conjure
Lisa Shearin
Ace, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020188

Raine Benares has always been the black sheep of her family as the seeker of the lost while her blood relatives are thieves; in fact her kin are the most infamous criminal clan in the seven kingdoms. However, Raine turns to her family for help after she and the Saghred soul-stealing stone bond; not to de-link them but to help her pull off a necessary con to end the stalking by elves and goblins who want the power of the rock.

The King of the Goblins Sathik Mal’Salin and the darkest mage Sarad Nukpana each plans to use the Saghred for personnel gain at the cost of the kingdoms. The elven leaders Taltek Balmorlan and Magus Carnades Silvanus send her former fiancé Rache Kai the elven assassin to hunt her down as her powerful enemies have no monetary problems. With her allies Mychael and Tam and her con artist family, Raine sets in motion a diabolical counter scheme.

The fifth Benares fantasy is a terrific tale that moves forward the overarching saga theme of the apocalypse soon seemingly a certainty. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the wise cracking heroine learns the depth of her power at the same time eluding a horde of foes who want to use her to use the stone. Series fans will enjoy the latest entry (see Bewitched and Betrayed and The Trouble With Demons) as Con and Conjure is a sly family affair stone included.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shady Lady-

Shady Lady
Ann Aguirre
Roc, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463258

Corine Solomon has the parapsychological skill of touching an object and learning its past. Following the Kilmer, Georgia visit home fiasco (See Hell Fire), Corine is euphoric to be back at her pawnshop in Mexico. She is about to touch the salt half of a salt and pepper shaker starring Eros and Psyche respectively. However, Kel Ferguson, who seemingly can’t be killed, enters her store and tells her not to touch Eros as it is hexed. Drug lord Montoya sent her the cursed object that would have killed her if Kel Ferguson had not intervened.

Corine knows that once again she owes her life to God’s Hand as this warrior, who believes if the Lord had given him the assignment he would have prevented the Holocaust, explains he is to protect her but must not interfere with free will. Corine wonders how much celestial debt she owes between Kel and Maury the demon who saved her soul. Kel explains Montoya is coming for her with everything in his arsenal, which includes warlocks and voodoo practitioners while she and the three males (Kel, Chance and Jesse) in her life must fight back to keep her loved ones safe.

The latest Solomon urban fantasy (See Blue Diablo) is a fabulous action-packed thriller that hooks grateful (except for the lack of sleep) sub-genre fans from the moment Kel rushes into Corine’s store and never slows down until the final confrontation with the Montoya mob of hit men and magical mobsters. Fast-paced, readers will fully enjoy Corine becoming mob enemy numero uno when all she wants is to go back to being a touchy feely proprietor.

Harriet Klausner

Magic on the Hunt-Devon Monk

Magic on the Hunt
Devon Monk
Roc, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463913

Having done the impossible when they escaped death’s realm through the gate (see Magic at the Gate) lovers Allie Beckstrom and Zayvion Jones desperately need some R&R. However, being back in Portland does not denote safe recuperation. Instead Authority leader Sedra’s top assistant Dane Lanister arrives with weapons aimed to kill.

He threatens killing Jones and tearing Allie apart limb by limb until she informs him where Jingo Jingo took the kidnapped Sedra as he believes her father’s consciousness inside of Allie’s brain will know. At the same time, Dane threatens torture and death, magic practitioner Leander escaped from death’s realm, but needs a body to host his essence and believes he has found one in a prisoner locked in the Authority’s jail. No time for the weary as Beckstrom and Jones must find Sedra and prevent Leander from causing hell to come to Portland.

The sixth Magic urban fantasy is a superb tale that has the heroic duet running around trying to prevent two disasters from occurring. Without Sedra, the Authority Council will not just fall apart, but will fight for control. Leander poses a different but as dire a threat at a time when the Council is internally headless. Readers will enjoy trekking the streets of Portland with Beckstrom and Jones who believe they must have brought a bit of death back with them.

Harriet Klausner

Surrender the Dark-L.A. Banks

Surrender the Dark
L.A. Banks
Pocket, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451607789

Besides being a chain smoker Celeste Jackson is a chain drinker and a constant abuse victim. However, in her mind, she believes she deserves punishment as she suffers from schizophrenia. Her mental illness culminates when her abusive boyfriend Brandon threatens to kill her and Celeste sees a demon residing inside him that he commands to leave; as the horned figure flees the human host, Brandon crumbles in death.

Fleeing for her life, Celeste does what she always does when she hallucinates; she stops at a bar for a drink or ten and a pack of Newports. Her thoughts are she has to get out of this place as Philly is not a safe haven for her. Azrael the Angel who left the Light to protect Celeste meets her at the bar. She thinks he is crazier than she is, which says a lot as he explains who she is and why opposing sides recognize she is critical in the war over humanity. She feels safe with him and he tries to obtain her trust. Celeste must serve as a rallying cry to gather her hybrid angelic-human peers the Remnant and other sensitive receptors to stop the evil dark from continuing their rule over humanity. However, Azrael’s attraction to his ward could cost him his wings and mankind their last chance for salvation; only Celeste’s addictions may prevent his obsession leaving him wingless forever.

This is a terrific urban fantasy with a throwback feel to when authors used the genre to spotlight social issues. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Celeste orders the demon out of Brandon and never slows down even while L.A. Banks looks deeply at what ails the country. Readers will appreciate the battle for humanity between angels and demons as a schizophrenic addict serves as the pivotal essence in a war for eternity.

Harriet Klausner

Deathless-Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente
Tor, Mar 29 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780765326300

The city has changed names several times over the past century, but currently is called St. Petersburg as everything goes full circle. On Gorokhovaya Street, Marya Morevna was six years old when she saw the bird turn into Lieutenant Gratch of the Tsar’s Personal Guard who came to take away her older sister Olga with him. Three years later Lieutenant Zuyok of the White Guard also changed as he came for Tatiana. Finally when Marya was twelve Lieutenant Shulan of the Red Army arrived for the third daughter Anna. Watching the birds change to men come for her older sisters leaves Marya musing over the type of bird her mate will be.

Koschei the Deathless Tsar of Life arrives for his woman, Marya. However, she must prove herself worthy as Koschei’s mate. In that regard Baba Yaga tasks Marya with three impossible assignments; failure to compete all three proves she is not the mate of the Deathless Tsar of Life. Marya begins her Herculean tasks, Marya starts to lose her humanity until she meets the innocent Ivan “The Fool” Nikolayevich, who pulls her back to Mother Russia; leaving her confused with one foot in Koschei’s realm and one in the land of her ancestors.

This is a terrific complicated retelling of a Russian folktale that uses The Revolution era as a backdrop to the saga; in fact Marya becomes a Major-General in the Red Army. Fast-paced with a strong protagonist who keeps the engaging story line focused; readers will appreciate this intriguing look at Bolshevik Russia through a fantasy lens.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alien in the Family-Gini Koch

Alien in the Family
Gini Koch
Daw, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756406684

Kitty Katt the human and Jeff Martini the Alpha Centaurian are in love and planning their wedding in Vegas. However, the human learns her hunk exiled from the nearest star has through attrition over the decades (time is relative) become the heir to the empire. Kitty who had trepidations now has Olympus Mons doubts that her résumé as an exterminator qualifies her as a future queen especially when she must pass the royal worthiness examination.

Besides the Martini royal horde invading Sin City, outer space Amazon terrorists plan to introduce the couple and their guests to the big bang theory. The CIA and the Centaurian Division are outraged by the audacity of testing Kitty. However she has one thankful thing going: whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The third zany kill Kitty Katt science fiction tale (see Alien Tango and Touched by an Alien) is an amusing over the top of the combined miles of Animas, Hatchet and Chiricahua Peaks romantic sci-fi thriller. The jocular exciting story line is faster than the speed of light as the heroine struggles to get married while the universe seems to voice their opposition. Readers will enjoy this bizarre totally out of control yet fully entertaining adventures of a woman just wanting to marry her hunk from outer space.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taste Me-Tamara Hogan

Taste Me
Tamara Hogan
Sourcebooks, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402246012

At the Subterranean Club for werewolves, a homicide occurred. Sabastiani Security Lukas Sabastiani the Incubus is very concerned as changes to the ruling Council is happening and homicides could derail the presenting of other species to the humans. Making it worse, the victim is Were Andi Woolf, daughter of the Council’s biggest opposition to coming out to humanity, Krispin Woolf. However, Andi still lives barely.

Meanwhile rock star Scarlett Fontaine the Siren is worn out from an extended tour with her band. However, the assault on Andi and other deadly attacks on the band and those associated with the band places her at risk; especially as the daughter of a Council member Claudette. Lukas is assigned to protect Scarlett, the female he knows owns his soul; she feels the same way about him. Neither realizes who the serpent is destroying their Eden.

This is an exciting and spellbinding second chance at paranormal love urban fantasy. Readers will believe that the other species exist as sirens, incubus, weres and oh! my! seem genuine. Although the set up of the Hogan universe starts a bit slow, sub-genre fans will enjoy clubbing with Scarlett and Sebastian while wondering who the psychopath is and the motives for the killings and the attempted murders.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Unremembered-Peter Orullian

The Unremembered
Peter Orullian
Tor, Apr 12 2011, $27.99
ISBN 9780765325716

In the Hollows, an Order of Sheason wizard and a beautiful elven Far order two orphans (Tahn, and his sister Wendra) and their friend (Sutter) to undergo a dangerous quest. Than is the key, but his sibling and his buddy are needed to protect his back if he to succeed on the dangerous impossible mission. None of the trio understands why they were chosen as they have no skills or experience and never been outside the Hallows. Although each doubts their worthiness they set forth on their mission.

They have hardly begun when a malevolent god sends his evil horde to kill them. Surprising themselves, Tahn, Wendra and Sutter survive assault after assault from the odious minion. At the same time an invasion adds to the chaos.

This is an entertaining coming of age quest fantasy starring a strong young trio. Although the story line is exciting, it comes across somewhat as standard sub-genre fare. However, what makes the plot brisk and fun is the changing relationships between the heroic threesome. Fans who relish an enjoyable epic adventure will want to join Tahn and his cohorts as they fight overwhelming evil in the first Vault of Heaven thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 20, 2011

To The Galactic Rim-Bertram Chandler

To The Galactic Rim
Bertram Chandler
Baen, Mar 1 2011, $12.00
ISBN: 978-1439134214

The Road to the Rim. Recently graduated Federation Junior Lieutenant John Grimes begins his career amidst the Rim Worlds. He plans to follow orders so he can advance. However, John learns the best laid plans of mice and Grimes often go astray when a beautiful damsel in distress is involved while he is directed to ignore the Waldegrenese Navy piracy.

To Prime the Pump. On El Dorado, men have become infertile though the reason is unknown. The women demand action, preferably of a sexual encounter. The Space Cruiser Ares arrives to provide humanitarian aid to this race that has gone from near immortality to near extinction. With Lieutenant Grimes and his horny naval mates on a mercy mission all is not lost.

The Hard Way Up. These seven short stories ("With Good Intentions", "The Subtracter", "The Tin Messiah", "The Sleeping Beauty", "The Wandering Buoy", "The Mountain Movers" and "What You Know") continue the maturing of John Grimes. The hero matures as he ignores orders from a distant bureaucrat who has no idea how to survive and complete the appropriate mission on the Galactic Rim.

The Broken Cycle. Grimes and police officer Una Freeman are lost in space. He is unconcerned as she is pretty; but she is frantic as she has a job to perform. Both are surprised to meet an essence claiming to be God and insisting the couple populate the Garden of Eden. Though he wants some R&R with Freeman, he is unprepared to battle serpents in a convoluted and complicated universe.

These are entertaining reprints of three novels and seven short stories from the 1960s and 1970s. Though aptly labeled as a Captain Horatio Hornblower sailing the Galactic Rim, Grimes is also a swashbuckling James Bond in space.

Harriet Klausner

Home Made Haunting-Rob Stennett

Home Made Haunting
Rob Stennett
Zondervan, Mar 24 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780310321927

After years of teaching high school English, Charlie Walker, with his wife Rachel’s consent, quits. They sell their house in Boulder and accompanied by their kids move into a run down rental in Castle Rock. Charlie plans to write a horror novel. His first few chapters come quickly, but the next few fail to gel.

He realizes that like a method actor, he needs to feel first hand his subject that he knows nothing about. An atheist when it comes to the paranormal, Charlie buys an Ouija board not expecting anything to occur. Thus he is shocked when it works as he writes the next few passages. When Charlie hits another wall, he turns to the board again. He soon sees writings on the mirror in his bathroom. When he shouts out asking if anyone else is here, Rachel is thrilled to be living in a haunted house and delves onto the supernatural more deeply. He tries to stop, but the Dark has come and taken over his family. With a guardian angel at his back and a demon at his soul, the war between heaven and hell has brought the latest combat to a run down rental in Castle Rock.

The engaging story line switches in tone from humorous to poignant to frightening as immortal combat has come to disbelieving Charlie who never forgave God for ignoring his prayers to save his mom. It is only when he realizes that evil has attacked his loved ones, like soldiers in a foxhole, he turns to the Lord asking for a saving miracle for those he cherishes above his own soul. Rod Stennett provides a powerful inspirational thriller as heaven and hell fight over battlefield Homo sapiens.

Harriet Klausner

Hide And Seek-Allie Harrison

Hide And Seek
Allie Harrison
ImaJinn, Feb 4 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417493

Ten years old, Tess Fairmont tells her mama she needs to say goodbye to her beloved Grandmama who died suddenly. Tess reaches into the casket to hold Grandmama’s hand one last time, but sees something horrible: her Uncle John suffocating Grandmama with a pillow to obtain her money. Shaken, Tess witnessed first hand the violent crime.

Although her psychic skill feels more like a curse than a gift, over the next eighteen years Tess uses it to help solve homicide cases. Chicago PD Detective Jake Williams meets Tess at the morgue where she loathes touching the dead but loves knowing Dr. Michael Adams is there. Tess dreams of Michael kissing her and he muses over what she would see if she touched a live person falling in love with her. Tess touches the twenty-something tortured victim and sees five females in the room with Raymond whose face fails to come in clearly as the deceased never looked at him in her final moments. However, this time for Tess is different as she feels the actual pain. Turning to the pathologist for comfort while trying to cling to her façade of No Fear, Tess knows Raymond will continue to kill.

Hide And Seek is an enjoyable paranormal police procedural with a supporting romantic subplot. The key to this entertaining serial killer urban fantasy is that Tess’s psychic ability seems real as a critical element in to the deadly game of Hide And Seek. Michael is supportive and protective of her while he and Jake never call a body “it” as each knows someone probably cares for the late human being, but even if no one did the victim deserves respect. Allie Harrison writes a compassionate psychic mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Dreams of a Dark Warrior-Kresley Cole

Dreams of a Dark Warrior
Kresley Cole
Pocket, Feb 15 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439136805

Regin the Radiant Valkyrie and Aidan the Fierce Viking Berserker met and fell in love. However before he obtained immortality, a vampire murdered him. Regin mourned her loss and prayed for a happier ever after when they next meet.

Over the centuries Aidan is reincarnated several times. However each time Regin finds her beloved, she manages to get him to remember his regressed memories of them together. Still in spite of their efforts, he dies each time.

In his latest life, Aidan is Declan Chase, the Magister of the Order. He and his minions stalk and kill immortals. Declan is especially a berserker as immortals murdered his family and tortured him. The Order has captured Regin and other Immortals. They plan to execute their prisoners on the remote island the Order uses as a prison. The last chance to live resides with Regain and her love for Aidan, but will she get through the barriers of hate that Declan has warped his soul.

Occurring at about the same time as Demons From The Dark, the latest Immortals After Dark thriller is a fabulous romantic fantasy that grips the reader from the first time Regin and Cole ever they saw each other’s face and never slows down until the final confrontation. The overarching theme of the saga moves forward, but it is the bittersweet love and death cycle that hooks the audience who wonders whether Regin’s Dreams of a Dark Warrior will finally end with her beloved’s hands bloody from her death by him.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Invincible-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 22 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780312599065

New Orleans high school student Nick Gautier has not had an easy laid-back life as he and his mom live in abject poverty while his father resides in prison convicted of murder. He attends a private school, but has no friends as he fails to fit in with the affluent social scene.

Until yesterday Nick assumed he was a normal disenchanted teenage outcast. His perspective was devastated when he learned that the supernatural exist. His boss is a Dark Hunter and near the place where his mom strips, shapeshifters surrounded him. Nick has powers though in the embryonic stage, but two sides want him, dead or alive. The Meloch, his Uncle Ambrose guides him to make the right choice. Nick fears what his Uncle Ambrose teaches him in the use of his powers. The demon Caleb and the Chthonian Xenon are Nick’s guardians who try to steer him to make the right choices. Xenon, known as Kody helps Nick try to stop a demon from slaughtering people. Now if they somehow survive he hopes she will be his girlfriend, but then again he hopes not.

The latest Chronicles of Nick in his teenage urban fantasy (see Infinity) is a creative intriguing off shoot of the Dark Hunter Saga similar in concept to the F, Paul Wilson’s Young repairman Jack series. Nick is a good soul, but the dark powers want to turn him to manipulate him to assault humanity. While unanswered questions remain, fans will want to know how his destiny plays out especially if this freshman finally gets a girl who is not trying to kill him? With an action-packed story line, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s fans of all ages will enjoy Nick’s efforts to survive high school and a world turned paranormally upside down.

Harriet Klausner

Seduce Me in Dreams-Jacquelyn Frank

Seduce Me in Dreams
Jacquelyn Frank
Ballantine, Mar 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345517678

Interplanetary Militia Extreme Tactical Force First Active team Commander Bronce Chapel carries wounded communication officer Trick on his back as they trek the black Gimper Desert on Ebbany. Bronce mulls over what went wrong as the Nomaads expected them and prays the other members of the team are safe. The quintet makes it to their ship and travels to their home planet of Ulrike.

Bronce worries about dreams of a woman he never met who appears. Ravenna asks who he is and why he taunts her. She has been visiting his dreams for a month and wishes he would rescue her and her brother Kith from rogue Nomaads.

While in the hospital, Trick hacks into Admiral JuJuren’s file and find interesting information on the near deadly desert mission. He shows Bronce who says the Admiral sold them out and they need to trust no one. JuJuren signs the order for the team to return to Ebbany to rescue a kidnapped High King. Bronce knows it is a trap but they begin to mount the rescue. Bronce falls into a hole and opens a cell door where he sees the real Ravenna and Kith. The soldiers break with procedure by taking the “Chosen Ones” civilians with them. They soon learn more about the Chosen Ones and the betrayal.

Known for her romantic fantasy (see The Nightwalkers series), Jacquelyn Frank switches to romantic science fiction with an entertaining outer space thriller. The cast both the unit and the Chosen Ones contain differing personalities even while the fast-paced story line is loaded with action. Although the plot is thin and the villain’s motive never explained, fans will enjoy visiting the tri planets Ebbany, Ulrike and Tari.

Harriet Klausner

Moon Spun-Marilee Brothers

Moon Spun
Marilee Brothers
Belle Bridge, Jul 1 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781935661955

At John J. Peacock High School in Peacock Flats, Washington, student Alfrieda "Allie" Emerson cannot believe how she could go from unpopular to pariah all because her mom dates the principal Mr. Hostetler. However, she has issues besides no clean underwear at a time when two boys are once again sniffing her; as Junior has come from Mexico with a retinue and Beck the half demon is healing the new girl on the block.

Meanwhile besides dodging the usual high school suspects of miscreant and deviant behavior, Allie knows the Trimarks remain a major threat to world stability (what there is) and to her well being. However, her biggest issue besides the pendant she wears is that a third boy shapeshifting Ryker has joined her other two sniffers. This were-hawk knows he and Allie are destiny’s darlings as life mates if they can save Boundless, the land of the fairy, from a horde that make the Trimarks look like elementary school. Allie knows as tough as this evil crew may be they are not near high school lethal.

The third Unbidden Magic teen urban fantasy (see Moonstone and Moonrise) is an engaging tale as the heroine struggles to balance in her small town surviving the rituals of school, saving two worlds, and flirting with boys; the latter being the most difficult. Having a new male per book adds fun to the mix by enhancing the bewilderment of Allie, but none have ample time to grow as they compete for heroine and subplot spacing. Still young adult fans will appreciate her efforts to learn to use her power reminiscent of the Greatest American Hero while diligently trying to save Boundless.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Guardian-Connie Hall

The Guardian
Connie Hall
Harlequin Nocturne, Feb 15 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618552

In present day Washington DC Police officer Fala Rainwater is the chosen one to become her tribe’s next guardian. She understands the significance of the honor and the danger of being the ultimate shapeshifting tsmishian as The Guardian must fight Tumseneha when the evil one returns, which those in the know believe is coming soon since the malevolence was dispatched back in 1927. However Fala also must marry her chosen mate Akanda Chasing Deer or he will die; her hesitation is that her sister loves Akanda.

The Tumseneha returns and kills a woman. Fala prepares for war, but has a strong ally special agent Stephen Winter the warlock. She needs him to get close enough to kill the malevolence, but he conceals his aura from her and his agenda; Tumseneha holds his brothers as hostages to get his cooperation when the beast goes for the kill of Fala.

The first Nightwalkers romantic urban fantasy is a fabulous thriller as created from the Native American mythos but in a modern day DC. Fala is intrepid as she understands failure is no option; while Stephen is caught between his love for Fala and for his hostage siblings. With a super late twist, readers will relish the anticipated combat between the tsmishian and the Tumseneha while wondering whose side Winter is on.

Harriet Klausner

The Truth About Vampires-Theresa Myers

The Truth About Vampires
Theresa Myers
Harlequin Nocturne, Feb 15 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618545

In Seattle, Dmitri Dionotte, as the trejan enforcer to his vampire clan, is charged with insuring the safety of his people. He knows to do that they must remain hidden amongst the vastly overwhelming horde of humans that they share the city with. However, someone(s) is leaving behind a dangerous trail bloodless corpses with vital organs missing.

Reporter Kristin Reed investigates the strange homicides. She expects anything but not meeting a live vampire, but Dmitri with his chocolate scent tries to control what she learns about his species. However, she soon becomes the face of what a rogue band of vampires want dead. Dmitri vows to keep the journalist safe though he wonders how to keep her safe from himself when she boils his blood with one touch. However he also realizes his clan can no longer stay in hiding as a reckoning is coming with the humans and the murderous rogues.

Although vampire clans living in hiding amongst humans is not new (see Lynsay Sand’s Argeneau Vampires), reader will enjoy Theresa Meyers fresh take as the Undead is forced to reveal themselves to the humans; causing major debates out of fear. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as one of the Sons of Midnight finds love with an investigative reporter.

Harriet Klausner

Hybrids-Whitley Strieber

Whitley Strieber
Tor, Apr 12 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780765323767

In an underground top secret laboratory in New Mexico, years of research by Dr. Thomas Turner and aliens from space proved futile; the visitors finally left. Turner with other human scientists continued the effort until a breakthrough occurred. The team using alien developed gene-splicing technology and theory has created biomechanical hybrids.

However, Turner and the researchers make a major error as this new species as a machine has no human rights. However, their human side demands these inalienable rights, which are denied them. Thus the new species plans to sit atop the food chain. The scientists fail to prevent the takeover of the lab and soon Homo sapiens are in peril. When the. President learns what has happens, he fumes at his helplessness. Only Mark and Gina, who were the Adam and Eve of the lab, but unaware of their origins, can prevent a pandemic disaster, but those who must reveal the truth to the pair wonder whose side they will be on.

Hybrids is a cautionary tale that feels somewhat flat because the key players including the title characters never come across as more than caricatures from a B movie. The story line is exciting from start to finish with the loyalty of Adam and Eve uncertain for much of the plot. However, the cast, especially the lab rats, Turner and the government officials never seem fully developed.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Hammer-K.J. Parker

The Hammer
K.J. Parker
Orbit, Jan 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN 9780316038560

Gignomai met'Oc and his family reside in exile overlooking a poor colony of silver miner descendants whose ancestors had no silver to mine. The colonists detest their protectors but rely on them for safety from the dangerous indigenous population. The youngest son, Gignomai struggles with no reason for living until he breaks protocol from the family when he flees into the dangerous wilderness.

He plans to build a factory that will compete with a monopoly that has left the remote colonists wallowing in poverty. His long term outcome is to provide the colonists with independence that they sorely lack while he receives closure from a tragedy he witnessed as a child that still haunts him. However, his best laid plan goes astray when the peasants he wants to liberate seem too timid to act without his leading the charge.

This is an intriguing thriller in which K.J. Parker explores consequences of good intentions seven decades ago and once again good intentions now. The story line is character driven mostly by rebellious Gignomai, who wants to improve the lifestyle of the colonists, but will soon learn that results are not often what one expected when intervening. Fast-paced, The Hammer is a terrific thriller that will have readers pondering so called presidential legacies from the advantage of looking back in time. For instance, arming Hussein may have made sense in the 1980s, but the results one and two decades later overwhelm the original short term expectations. Exciting and thought provoking, this is a winner.

Harriet Klausner

Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend-Linda Wisdom

Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks Apr 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9781402254390

Hellion Guard Margit "Maggie" O'Malley is assigned to protect a teenage girl Courtney from a horde who wants to sacrifice the ingrate to a Mayan god. Maggie and her team quickly want to sacrifice their charge too as she is a royal pain, but diligently try to do their job.

Half-human fire demon Declan owns the Damnation Alley nightclub, which contains a portal between the realms of the humans and that of the demons. His establishment caters to demons with few humans ever entering. He and Maggie meet in their dreams where they begin to fall in love; in the conscious world they meet at his club due to a bloater; their feelings are overwhelmed by distrust.

Demons Are A Girl’s Best friend is a super romantic urban fantasy thriller starring a half demon and a Hellion law enforcer. Her loyal team and the teen being a teen (regardless of species) enhance the worlds of Wisdom, as the audience observes profoundly community and family values from various species’ perspectives. Linda Wisdom hexes her fans with this enjoyable opening act at Damnation Alley.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How To Slay A Dragon-Bill Allen

How To Slay A Dragon
Bill Allen
Bell Bridge, Jan 1 2011, $12.05
ISBN: 9781611940060

If one was betting on a fight between twelve-year-old Greg Hart and the smaller girls at school, the latter females would be the odds-on favorites. Don’t even bother putting up odds for him against the bigger girls.

However, the desperate Myrth mages except for seemingly skeptical Mordred believe Greg is a prophesized warrior. They transport the seventh grader to their world. His mission is to rescue King Peter's daughter Princess Penelope from Ruuan the mightiest dragon. Greg tries to explain he has spent years running from bullies like Manny the Malice who is much smaller than the fiery dragon; but the magicians insist he is the exalted hero foretold in prophecy and everyone knows that prophecies always occur; that is everyone but the geek from earth who keeps saying he writes heroic epics not stars in heroic epics; of course he has experience with dragons like the algebra teacher.

With a nod to the amusing How to Train Your Dragon, How to Slay a Dragon is a wonderful quest fantasy starring the last person one would expect to wear the mantle of prophesized hero saving the world from a powerful dragon. Fast-paced, middle school students will enjoy Greg the geeky tweener as he is sent forth as the reluctant hero to battle a bullying dragon.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hidden Cities-Daniel Fox

Hidden Cities
Daniel Fox
Del Rey, Mar 22 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9780345503039

Emperor Chien Hua savors the victory that has given him back Santung as the Jaded rebels led by Yu Shang flee the city. However, the Emperor ignores his pregnant concubine Mei Feng when she warns him they were fortunate to win a battle. Assassins including some from within the emperor’s most trusted aids try to kill his pregnant loved one while the rebel insurrection grows stronger daily and may win control of the nation in the civil war.

As General Ping Wen governs Santung in the Emperor’s name, he plots the downfall and demise of Chien and the pregnant concubine. His chances are improving greatly due to Tien the healer who has found ancient mage tomes.

Meanwhile an island trapped raging dragon trapped in chains by the sea links with young Han; neither grasps the significance of their bonding relationship at this time except both want to escape the isle imprisonment. The elderly on the island plead with the dragon for a chance to reach the sea. All including the dragon try to be free, but none seem to achieve this as war roars across the empire.

The final medieval Chinese mythos fantasy (see Dragon in Chains and Jade Man's Skin) is a terrific thriller that hooks the audience from the opening seemingly calm “Lord of the Feet” scene that proves to be the eye of the storm as the civil war rages with treachery weakening both sides. The story line contains a vivid sense of being caught in the middle of non-stop action that will have readers feel transported tin time and place. With a powerful ensemble cast in which Daniel Fox slyly switches perspective without missing a beat, fans will appreciate the engaging finish to one of the best refreshing fantasy sagas in recent years.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Dragon’s Path-Daniel Abraham

The Dragon’s Path
Daniel Abraham
Orbit, Apr 7 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316080682

Though a millennium has passed since the Dragon Civil War left the predominant species extinct, the thirteen humanoid races that served them never learned the lesson that war kills. Captain Marcus Webster understands war kills foot soldiers but not the aristocrats who send others to die in battle. He knows how weather impacts fighting as summer is the time of war and battle is for the young. Marcus plans to lead a caravan before he is drafted as his combat days are over, but his crew is lost being sent to fight.

While Marcus seeks swords, Cithrin dressed as a boy with his first moustache and a “swinging penis” prepares mentally to escort the Bank’s wealth of a nation across the country before the invaders arrive. She struggles to understand caravans unlike the way she comprehends money.

No longer a naïve idealist but instead a jaded pessimist Dawson worries as war comes because his friend Simeon the ruler looks like he aged dramatically over the winter. He no longer appears to be the glorious future for the country; but instead seems like yesterday’s failure.

Aristocratic Geder the street philosopher detests swords. Though he is a terrible soldier who fears his reaction when bodies are sliced and diced, he will do his best to avoid dishonoring his aristocratic family.

As with the Long Price Quartet, Daniel Abraham effortlessly rotates perspective between the key characters so that readers observe a wide panorama of humanoids following The Dragon’s Path to war. Fans will marvel at how Marcus as winter and Dawson as autumn wither; while Cithrin as spring and Geder as summer mature. Thus the first excellent Dagger and Coin military fantasy is a coming of age thriller in which Geder and Cithrin remain frightened optimists unaware they will probably turn into Dawson and Marcus. This is a great thought provoking opening act.

Harriet Klausner

The Wise Man's Fear-Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man's Fear
Patrick Rothfuss
Daw, Mar 1 2011, $29.95
ISBN 9780756404734

Kvothe of the Waystone Inn continues to tell his life history as he sought information and risked his life many times over to learn information about the mythical Chandrian seven; demi deities who brutally murdered his parents leaving him an orphaned child. Kyothe explains he entered the University, but was expelled when he alienated a noble. From school he traveled to Vintas where he got into local politics when he learned of a planned assassination attempt. Adem mercenaries put him on trial and he ended the terror of the King’s Road. His escapades led to the lure of Felurian the fae in her realm in which he is the first mortal to escape her seduction while staying sane. Whether he burned down Trebon or chatted with Gods, Kyothe remained resolute that his life’s work is to kill the Chadrian.

Kvothe has seen much more than any person has ever seen; been to places few believe exists; and conversed with Gods some no longer worshipped and feared. He knows he has become part of the mythos; but, no man can live up to the whispers of the legend they have become, not even Kyothe the wanderer.

The second Kingkiller Chronicle (see The Name of the Wind) is a great epic fantasy starring an intriguing lead character. Kyothe has dedicated his life to one goal, but to achieve his obsession he ends up doing a myriad of seemingly sidebar escapades; but these like his time with the Adem and his one night with Felurian enhance his skills as he prepares for the confrontation that he seeks. Although there is repetitive emotional angst (to be expected in a tome just under a thousand pages), fans will relish more of Kyothe’s adventures of how an orphan has become the most infamous wizard the world has ever known.

Harriet Klausner

The Branding-Micaella Wendell

The Branding
Micaella Wendell
Bellbridge, Jan 14 2011, $10.95
ISBN: 9781611940091

Like all of the elves, teenage Morwen Aleacim knows that evil resides in the forests. She has heard the tales in her village of Aren that monsters who steal children lurk in the kingdom’s shadows like nearby Silvia Forest. However, Morwen is more of a believer in the malevolence than most elves her age because her father Arthil and others in a search party vanished in the forests three years ago and have not been seen since.

Although afraid, Morwen vows to enter the evil realm to find and rescue her dad. She needs to be a warrior but the elf creed disallows females to enter combat. Instead, Morwen trains in secret under the tutelage of the elderly human swordsman Armando. However, everything changes for her as she becomes even more determined when her six-elf year old sister Brynn disappears. Although not ready, Morwen follows the trail, which leads to Tobias the Dark Wizard. They make a deal in which her sibling is freed in exchange for her being his apprentice; their agreement is Branded in the fire of a spell that slowly changes her from a beautiful girl into a misshapen submissive slave. Alan the teen elf joins Morwen on her quest to break the spell of the evil Dark Wizard before she is called to serve the miscreant malevolence.

This is a fabulous quest fantasy starring a resolute female who learns what happens when an elf bargains with a devil. The fast-paced story line is driven by the heroine who risks her life and much more to rescue her younger sister; for every elf knows once Branded it is impossible to remove the curse that Tobias got from his master Belial King of Sanguine.

Harriet Klausner

Deep State-Walter John Williams

Deep State
Walter John Williams
Orbit, Feb 7 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780316098045

To publicize the latest James Bond film Stunrunner, which takes place predominantly in Turkey, the producer hires the Great Big Idea firm to create an augmented reality game (ARG) tied to the movie. Leading the ARG development is Dagmar Shaw, who detests that the host nation has been taken over by the military; she has nightmares over what she once did for the military oligopoly junta.

As Dagmar, her boss Lincoln and the crew (local nationals and Americans) prepare for the final event, she meets the leader General Bozbeyli and inadvertently insults him. She realizes the junta now has targeted them in spite of the terrific publicity received by the country and subsequently them by the Bond tie-in. On the lam while hosting the last ARG, the team makes it to Cyprus where the American government recruits them to use their skills to undercut the junta who possess High Zap; a weapon developed by Lincoln years ago capable of destabilizing the internet.

Although over the top of Mount Ararat, readers will appreciate this exhilarating faster than the speed of light thriller. The key to the exciting plot is in spite of the action, Dagmar and Lincoln come across as real caring people who made major mistakes with who has gained access to their programs. Fans will enjoy Deep State as Walter John Williams reminds readers that today’s strange bedfellows is tomorrow’s enemy (just ask Cheney and Hussein)

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 11, 2011

Equations of Life-Simon Morden

Equations of Life
Simon Morden
Orbit, Apr 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780316125185

In the future, globally the world has radically changed, but not for the better. Japan no longer exists and Britain might as well not exist. Most other places are not better off. For instance America the land of the free has turned its back on the Founding Fathers’ First Amendment by becoming a theocracy and much of Russia was nuked.

Ph.D. candidate Samuil Petrovitch lives in the rotting London Metrozone. Though the Russian knows better than to get involved as the only known survivor of the St. Petersburg nuking, he intervenes in an abduction attempt preventing the kidnapping of woman who thanks him saying she is Sonja; daughter of a dangerous person. Alongside of police officer Harry Chain and Madeleine the violent nun, Samuil soon learns what happens to Good Samaritans when he is caught in the crosshairs of a lethal street war between Russian gangsters, an even deadlier business tycoon Yakuza and a new even more lethal Jihad. He muses his problems came about because he broke the first rule of survival of the fittest: don’t get involved.

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction starring an antihero who knows the Equations of Life logically mean stay out of everyone else’s life; yet he begins emotionally to comprehend that may be life bit that is not living. Samuil and the cast make for wonderfully dark future although some of the escapades seem a bit over the top of Big Ben, still ticking after all these bombs. Readers will enjoy what happens to the logical man who makes his first illogical decision since before he survived the annihilation of St. Petersburg.

Harriet Klausner

River Marked-Patricia Briggs

River Marked
Patricia Briggs
Ace, Mar 1 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441019731

The werewolves outed themselves and while humans debate the politics of the species living in their midst, car mechanic Mercy Thompson is a walker who can turn into a coyote at will. She is busy trying to elope with Adam the alpha werewolf of the Columbia Basin Poole. Her friends and family want to throw a wedding for the couple before they depart on their honeymoon along the banks of the Columbia River.

When Mercy finds out the Fae gave them a luxurious camper; she is upset because the Fae do not do favors without an exorbitant price. The fae wants her to investigate the disappearance of several people along the river. What they find is that there is an essence known as the river devil that is in a symbiotic relationship with the fae otterkin that looks human but is a deadly predator. She distances herself from the river devil who has marked her. The God Coyote informs Mercy about her parentage and she has a role to play as part of her heritage to end the river devil’s reign of terror while a frustrated Adam must back away.

River Marked is a wonderful urban fantasy that has characters who touch the souls of readers especially the lead couple; a loving duet who lives for today as they may not see the morrow. Coyote the Trickster and the other gods of native American mythology enhances the Mercy mythos. With a strong cast including other walkers and a terrific malevolence, fans of the saga will relish Mercy’s honeymoon.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All the Lives He Led-Frederik Pohl

All the Lives He Led
Frederik Pohl
Tor, Apr 12 2011, $25.99
ISBN 9780765321763

By 2079, the once proud and mighty United States remains devastated from the massive Yellowstone eruption several decades ago. Brad Sheridan enlists for overseas assignment as an indentured servant; this is his only means to escape the American refugee camps. He is assigned to work on Italy's two millennia celebration of the volcanic destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius.

Tourists flock to the volcano to take part in the gala. The visitors enjoy real and virtual entertainments. Ben performs minor cons including romances on the naive. However, he soon finds himself at ground zero of a horrific terrorist plot greater than the Yellowstone natural disaster that ended the American domination.

Nonagenarian Science Fiction Grand Master Frederick Pohl provides an exciting futuristic thriller that extrapolates from the recent global economic meltdown into how tenuous the threads of the world’s economy are as natural and terrorist events can prove pandemic. Fast-paced, Ben is an antihero thrust into something he wants nothing to do with. Though he is not quite as developed as the Pohl world setting, readers will appreciate this exhilarating thought provoking late twenty-first century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Guardian Angel's Journal-Carolyn Jess-Cooke

The Guardian Angel's Journal
Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Guideposts, Apr 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN 9780824948795

Guardian angel Ruth is assigned to watch over the late Margot Delacroix, who happens to have been Ruth when she was alive; Margot has returned to relive her life while Ruth knows the rules she must adhere to: witness, protect, record, and love. She knows she can have some limited impact on what her “ward” can do, but for the most part must remain an observer of the human mistakes she made as Margot.

As Margot’s life is replayed, the woman makes several horrific choices in spite of Ruth’s efforts to nudge her in another direction away from falling in love with Toby; though as Ruth she finds herself in love with him. However as she meets peers like enigmatic James, Ruth especially wants to understand why Margot's addicted teenage son Theo ended up in jail charged with murder, as she hopes to change that before it happens, but soon realizes what it will cost her to protect and love.

This is super paranormal extremely complicated thriller that is a serious more insightful version of a guardian angel tale with the twist of Ruth returning to watch over herself. Character driven by obviously Ruth-Margot with a strong support cast (human, angel and demon); readers will appreciate this brisk heavenly tale of the guardian angle looking at her life, but focused on saving her son’s life.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dead on Delivery-Eileen Randhal

Dead on Delivery
Eileen Randhal
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238783

Messenger Melina Markowitz delivers packages left for her by her paranormal clients to their supernatural customers. However, recently two male she left packages with have died under strange circumstances. Stunned she looks closely at the background of both victims over the objection of her boyfriend Ted Goodnight the cop she met when their spheres interacted on the Don’t Kill the Messenger case.

With Ted having her back, Melina learns the two dead guys shared the same friends, disappeared without explanations several times, and shockingly committed the same crime. Melina begins to realize that a powerful raging voodoo practitioner has let loose the dark on Melina and those in her sphere. As Melina struggles to prevent a catastrophe with Ted assisting her; roommate Norah fears venturing outside with all the paranormal whirling around except for one dangerous exhilarating possibility.

The latest 3M urban fantasy is an engaging paranormal amateur sleuth in which rage and racism has dire effects. The story line is action-packed from the moment her clients are killed and never slows down as Melina the Messenger is caught in a web of voodoo anger that is leaving clients dead, and friends and her lover in peril. She knows she is being set up emotionally for the final out.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Sweet Scent of Blood-Suzanne McLeod

The Sweet Scent of Blood
Suzanne McLeod
Ace, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441018710

In London where the paranormal is part of the normal where vampires even pose for celebrity calendars. Genevieve Taylor is the only known Sidhe Fae in town and she works for run by the Witch Council to insure “making magic safe”. The headlines involve the arrest of Mr. October Roberto taking one pint too many from his human girlfriend Melissa.

The father of the accused, financial reporter Alan Hinckley knows her boss Stella Raynham from an article he did on the firm and that Gen is not bound by the Witch Council’s mantra to never get involved with a vampire. Alan pleads with Gen to investigate the homicide of the waitress as he believes his Bobby is innocent; starting with checking whether magic was used on the victim. Reluctantly because of Bobby’s message of regards to Gen, who had a teenage marking by a vampire, she agrees to investigate. Her inquiry leads from the corpse to the popular Soho vampire clubs. However, as her friend Sergeant Hugh the troll warns her to stay out of the case, the divided upper elite of the vampire hierarchy follow her with a strange interest as she now believes the accused was framed, but by who remains unknown.

This is an exhilarating investigative urban fantasy starring a delightful tough heroine swimming in a sea of vampires while working her case. The story line is fast-paced form the onset yet makes this alternative London filled with witches, Fae, vampires, trolls, goblins and one sidhe seem genuine due to the Soho scene and other similar references. Fast-paced with a terrific twist, fans will be reminded of Dresden the only listed wizard in the phone book.

Harriet Klausner

Homefront: The Voice of Freedom -John Milius and Raymond Benson

Homefront: The Voice of Freedom
John Milius and Raymond Benson
Del Rey, Jan 25 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780345527158

In the near future, the two Korean nations united under the leadership of the Kim Jong family and turned into a regional power by annexing their neighbors. Especially significant to the desire to become a superpower is the conquering of Japan, which provides the Korean leadership American military technology at a time when the United States America has turned internal into Fortress America after years of oil wars and major economic collapses. Taking advantage of the fumbling giant, Korea ignites a nuclear bomb that causes a crippling EMP blast across North America leading to mass deaths. This is followed by a rapid deployment as Korea plans to take control of the Pacific.

By 2026, reporter Ben Walker fled a Korean occupied Los Angeles. On his trek east, he meets black jack dealing engineer Kelsie Wilcox in Vegas and resistance soldiers. He soon becomes the Voice of America with the Korean occupation force wanting him silenced.

Based on the videogame, this is an over the top of the Sierras into the troposphere but still a fun thriller mindful of the movie Red Dawn with an older hero and resistance. The story line is fast-paced, but requires ignoring that L word (logic not liberal) as the clever Koreans during the war act foolishly during occupation especially when it comes to eliminating the Homefront Voice of America. Still fans of the game and those who enjoy an entertaining thriller will want to read about the North Korean occupation of the not so United States.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boleyn: Tudor Vampire-Cinsearae S.

Boleyn: Tudor Vampire
Cinsearae S.
CreateSpace, May 7 2010, $12.95
ISBN: 9781451559491

In the sixteenth century, heartbroken Queen Anne Boleyn awaits her execution in the London Tower knowing everyone deserted her once the charges surfaced. Accused of adultery and treason by the Duke of Suffolk, she knows her innocence is irrelevant when her Lord, her spouse and her father ignore her plea and that of her accused brother George. Her only crime is to love her husband King Henry VIII. As she dies by hanging, she vows to avenge her wrongful death on those who falsely accused her and those who abandoned her at her time of need.

Her condemnation of God as she neared death leads to the resurrections of Anne, George, and court musician friend Mark Smeaton who was also hung. The trio head to Whitehall Palace to enact vengeance on those who fabricated stories or deserted them.

Although the transformation of real historical figures into paranormal beings is a frequent occurrence (see Lucy Weston’s Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer and Kate Pierce’s Blood of the Rose), Boleyn: Tudor Vampire is a darker thriller. The story line vividly depicts the precarious life of those residing in Henry’s court, but once the threesome return it becomes even bloodier. Fans will appreciate this wrongfully murdered by state execution Anne and her companions as they bite their way back until the undead queen learns that the future belongs to her daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Zombies Don't Cry-Rusty Fischer

Zombies Don't Cry
Rusty Fischer
Medallion, May 1 2011. $9.95
ISBN: 9781605423821

Maddy Swift is just an ordinary teen; content to stay in the shadows unlike her BFF Hazel who wants to join the in-crowd of Barracuda Bay. She has a crush on Stamp and hopes he will ask her to go with him to the Fall Formal Dance. On her way to meet Stamp, lightning strikes Maddy. When she regains consciousness, Maddy realizes she has no heartbeat and is not breathing. She concludes she has turned into a zombie; and learns so has some of the mean teens in her class.

She is taken to the Elders and Sentinels; they warn her to follow the rules of only killing the insane zerker zombies. Bones and Dahlia try to convert Maddy into a zerker. However, Dane and Chloe mentor her to keep her from turning into a zerker as she struggles to adapt. With her two friends, Maddy becomes resolute in stopping the zerkers who has a weapon to prevent the trio from succeeding in that they possess Stamp. She can kill the teen she cares about, change him into a good zombie with her bite if she wins the fight of her enimies, or let him change her into a zerker.

This “Living Dead Love Story” targets the Twilight teen crowd, but other zombie fanatics will enjoy the thriller too. Flashes of humor such as the zombie rules of orders and becoming zombies by a lightning strike brightens up for the most part this dark tale. Maddy adapts to her life change perhaps too easily, but this is partly due to her inner goodness. Still readers will wonder whether she joins the berserker side to be with Stamp, gets her beloved to join her team, or either (or both) dying permanently.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Scar-Crow Men-Mark Chadbourn

The Scar-Crow Men
Mark Chadbourn
PYR, Feb 1 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616142544

In 1593 in London, Queen Elizabeth seems preoccupied though none of her inner circle of advisors knows about what as her Highness ignores the plight of her people as the Black Plague runs unchecked across the kingdom. While she hides behind the palace walls, an unknown adversary is methodically assassinating her spies with the new chief unconcerned unlike his late predecessor the late Sir Francis Walsingham who would have went after the killer.

When a devil appears looking like Will Swyfte’s beloved Jenny in the middle of the opening production of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, the agent further is stunned as the imp gives him a personal message. Even more shocking is when his friend and spy Marlowe is murdered. Will vows to identify the killer and bring this person to justice, his style, although he believes he knows his inquiry into the homicides of the spies especially that of his friend will lead to the Queen’s most dangerous and bitterest enemy the Unseelie Court.

The sequel to the Silver Skull is a superb Elizabethan fantasy that effortlessly blends the paranormal with the historical. For instance, the background has the Black Plague ravaging London with the source quite fascinating and uses Marlowe’s unexplained death in 1593 as pivotal point in the novel. Readers will relish Swyfte’s swift descent into hell as he has no allies even among the spies and faces incredibly powerful enemies who set in motion the supernatural and natural scheme to eliminate Elizabeth years ago. The Scar-Crow Men is a great late sixteenth century otherworldly alternate English thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Ravenous-V.K. Forrest

V.K. Forrest
Kensington, Apr 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758255693

Clare Point, Delaware is not just any coastal town. It is home to the Kahill vampire clan who has resided there for centuries. Only in the summer when the human tourists inundate the coastal community is there anyone not an Undead. The Kahill clan differs from ordinary vampires as they die as elders and are reborn as teens with the cycle on-going forever. They possess one gift that also makes them different; their mission is to save God’s humans from the undesirables. When they have learned their lessons God will pass judgment on them.

Clan member Liam McCathal is the best at the kill so his comrades tell him to stay out of the field for now to insure he does not go rogue after a clean up on Paris. He works at his antique shop while cooling down when an HF (human female) Mai Ricci enters his store, leaving the vampire stunned as he does not even makes friends with female humans, but she has him feeling something he has not sensed in a hundred years or more. When someone murders her Uncle Donato and threatens Mia and her father Corrato, Liam is losing control as he takes on a mob chief and his gang, which threatens the Clare Point community even as Mia’s dad conceals something that endangers his daughter and the vampire protecting her.

V.K. Forrest provides a brisk unique vampire mythos as the Cahill clan watch over God’s children in the hopes He will one day forgive them for hurting God’s believers. Sparks fly when the vampire licensed to kill shopkeeper and the HF meet in his store. He knows she is fortunate she does not realize that the hunk she is attracted to is a vampire because he learns he does not want to erase her memories of him. Ravenous is an exciting romantic urban fantasy that readers will thoroughly enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hunger Untamed-Pamela Palmer

Hunger Untamed
Pamela Palmer
Avon, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061794711

Hawke and Tighe are caught in a spirit trap with no way to escape without external help. Kougar knows one person who can free the two trapped Feral Warriors; the one person he does not want to ever see, a woman who betrayed their love. However, he pleads with his former mate, Ariana Queen of the Linas to help them.

Ariana conceals something from the male she has cherished from afar for over a millennium even when he turned his back on her as they come from two different races. She would like to help his beleaguered friends, but is unable to do so though a frustrated Kougar assumes she is just being spiteful. Instead she knows that in spite of their being soulmates, she and her beloved must never reconcile or else the darkness will accelerate the pace engulfing this realm.

The fifth Feral Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see Passion Untamed, Desire Untamed, Obsession Untamed and Rogue Untamed) is a super tale filled with action yet driven by the lead couple as each knows it is not easy being in love with someone from the other race. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a frantic Kougar begs his soul mate to save his comrades and never slows down as the heroine struggles with a dilemma between her desires and her responsibilities. Fans will relish this strong Untamed thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grail-Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear
Spectra, $7.99
ISBN 9780553591095

Having wandered through space seemingly forever on Jacob’s Ladder, the Jacobites are euphoric having finally found a habitable planet. However, the travelers are stunned when they find a human race beat them to the orb. This species of humanoids have been surgically “right minded” emotionally. They seem even more extraterrestrial than some of the alien races they met during the odyssey (see Dust and Chill).

The humans on the planet and those occupying Jacob s Ladder refuse to negotiate. Instead each side opposes comingling. War is imminent only to have enemies from within Jacob’s ladder attack from inside the craft.

This is a great finish to the strong trilogy as the cultural difference between the Jacobites and the right minded is further than Pluto is from the sun. Elizabeth Bear looks deep into those riding inside of Jacob’s Ladder as they have reached their Promised Land, but like Joshua at Jericho face a major occupant dilemma, but unlike the Old testament, the crew is divided. To a lesser degree fans will learn of the right minded society. War between these two humanoid groups seems imminent.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Mirror-M.J. Putney

Dark Mirror
M.J. Putney
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 1 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312622848

Late in the seventeenth century in London, the British aristocracy decided that magic was beneath their upper class; so only the masses of the lower classes displayed the skill. By 1803, noble children, who demonstrate magical inclination, are sent to Lackland Abbey to hide the scandal these misfits cause while also learning to suppress the skill.

When Lady Victoria “Tory” Mansfield, daughter of an earl and Countess, learns she has magical abilities, her ashamed family exiles her to Lackland. Frightened she expects to be punished if she displays her talent, but is somewhat shocked to find some people refuse to bury their talents. As Napoleon plans to cross the Channel abetted by mages, Tory must choose between remaining ostracized by embracing her abilities to help protect her country or returning to the idyllic charmed life of the Ton.

This is a super young adult historical fantasy starring a wonderful young lady who must choose between risking her life for her country and enjoying the gala her country endows on the wealthy. A great timely switch enhances Tory’s decision while also stunning readers who will not see it coming. Tory decides how to answer JFK’s poignant question: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Aftertime-Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield
Luna, Feb 15 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803361

She is the first known human to survive an assault by the flesh eating beaters without converting into one of these zombie-like beasts. Although she remains mortal and alive, Cass Dollar suffered immensely during her ordeal and afterwards; she remained hurt with many scars on her battered body. Her lack of memory of her trauma frightens her, but not because of what the Beaters did to her. Her beloved daughter Ruthie is missing and Cass has no idea what happened to her cherished offspring.

However, in spite of her agony, Cass has one objective and that is to find her missing daughter Ruthie lost somewhere in the biologically bombed California wasteland. Smoke an outlaw accompanies Cass on her quest while the militia, scientists and a female sect pursue her for diverse reasons.

This is a terrific post apocalyptic science fiction thriller starring a beleaguered lioness with one obsessed thought: finding and rescuing her Ruthie. Courageous Cass is impressive as she remains resolute in her quest while musing she is in her “third” life. The harsh California landscape adds to the eerie atmospheric aftermath of the pandemic catastrophe as the heroine continues her trek. Mindful of the Charlton Heston science fiction films, Aftertime is a strong opening act with.

Harriet Klausner

One Hundred Candles-Marla Purnhagen

One Hundred Candles
Marla Purnhagen
Harlequin Teen, Feb 15 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210237

An hour west of Cleveland at the Lake Sanitarium insane asylum, Charlotte Silver and her sister Annalise assist her famous parents (Patrick and Karen) and Shane their cameraman on their research into paranormal activity.when the Guardian of the Gate possesses dubious colleague Dr. Zeldon in what the Silver crew know is a sham. At the asylum, there is an otherworldly essence; the Watcher notices the Silver team, but makes his presence known through Zeldon’s assistant to Charlotte.

Besides an apparent demon, Charlotte has bigger personal concerns as the teen fears that the relationship between her father and mother, which she thought loving and forever, seems at an end. The teen would prefer to live a normal life as she has travels around the world with her parents mostly debunking claims of otherworldly phenomena, but not to have it end by the marriage ending.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is excited to be going out on a normal date with school football star Harris Abbot though she muses on going out with her friend Noah. As the Watcher sets in motion snuffing out the life of Charlotte, Harris seems to want more from her than she is ready to give him; especially at a party where the kids play One Hundred Candles, which will prove spiritually deadly.

The exciting sequel to Past Midnight is a fun teen angst paranormal thriller starring a realistic family dealing with paranormal phenomena. The key is that the four Silvers and Shane act normal including reacting in a way to what they encounter in a plausible manner. Young adult readers will appreciate One Hundred Candles as Marla Purnhagen goes golden with this enjoyable teen urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner