Friday, September 30, 2011

Adam-Jacquelyn Frank


Jacquelyn Frank

Zebra, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9781420109863

Four centuries ago, Adam the water demon and Jasmine the vampire met in an explosive encounter that was different than anything either species had witnessed. Instead of open hostile combat, they were in love. However, his niece Leah child of Time fearing for the lives of her parents Jacob the enforcer and Isabella the Druid snatched him from his idyllic era top bring him forward four hundreds to keep his younger brother and sister-in-law safe. Jasmine has her heart broken as if her essence has been drained from her.

In the midst of a losing battle against Ruth the necromancer and her consort Nicodemus, Adam abruptly appears. Totally confused with the changes he failed to be part of including enemy bedfellows as cross species is acceptable unlike when he met Jasmine, Adam struggles to adapt. His side is still losing until he and Jasmine reconnect in love and hope.

The latest Nightwalkers romantic fantasy (see Damien and Noah) is a great refreshing entry due to the powerful cast on both sides of the front lines. Adam especially makes the thriller work as his bewilderment with changes add a sense of realism while his heart and soul still yearns for Jasmine. In some ways she is the more fascinating of the time-crossed lovers as she is sort of bipolar with her mood swing from euphoric mania to depressive to euphoric feeder. Jacquelyn Frank is at her best with Adam’s saga.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All Places That Are Not Heaven: Tales of Adrian Talbot and Genevieve de Monet

All Places That Are Not Heaven: Tales of Adrian Talbot and Genevieve de Monet

Anne Fraser; Inanna Arthen (editor)

By Light Unseen Media, Sep 21 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9781935303312

“Tales of Adrian Talbot.” The collection contains five fascinating tales starring the amoral “Brat Prince of Toronto” Shakespearean actor Talbot. Four of the entries from the mid 1990s involve Jake Fowler, who vampiric folklore Professor Talbot meets at a lecture he gives in which the only other attendees are four associates of the speaker (“Rosedale Vampires”). In the “Vampire Blues”, Jake feels Talbot stalks him, his roommate Max Scheer and his girlfriend Grace Webb; that is until he meets Melantha the singer. The other two (“Vampire Conventions” and Acting’s In the Blood”) continue to focus on the relationship between the self proclaimed master vamp of Toronto and the grad student. The final Talbot entry written in 2000 ("Speak Easy") has Adrian falling in love in 1928 New York with monster Darby Sullivan.

“Tales of Genevieve de Monet.” The collection contains two fascinating tales (written in 1997 and 2006) starring the savior of Gideon Redoak. Almost five centuries as a vampire, Genevieve has a major unidentified threat that has killed her offspring. Her ghoulish cousins and her vampiric children cannot tell her what is coming for her in “Watch and Ward.” French dragoon Jean de la Mare and Genevieve de Monet meet on a battlefield in Germany where he is dying. She offers him a cleaner death, but he chooses to be her Undead Guardian in “A Babe in Arms.”

Although the two stars possess different ethics, the seven tales are entertaining dark urban fantasies.

Harriet Klausner

All Places That Are Not Heaven: Tales of Adrian Talbot and Genevieve de Monet

All Places That Are Not Heaven: Tales of Adrian Talbot and Genevieve de Monet

Anne Fraser; Inanna Arthen (editor)

By Light Unseen Media, Sep 21 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9781935303312

“Tales of Adrian Talbot.” The collection contains five fascinating tales starring the amoral “Brat Prince of Toronto” Shakespearean actor Talbot. Four of the entries from the mid 1990s involve Jake Fowler, who vampiric folklore Professor Talbot meets at a lecture he gives in which the only other attendees are four associates of the speaker (“Rosedale Vampires”). In the “Vampire Blues”, Jake feels Talbot stalks him, his roommate Max Scheer and his girlfriend Grace Webb; that is until he meets Melantha the singer. The other two (“Vampire Conventions” and Acting’s In the Blood”) continue to focus on the relationship between the self proclaimed master vamp of Toronto and the grad student. The final Talbot entry written in 2000 ("Speak Easy") has Adrian falling in love in 1928 New York with monster Darby Sullivan.

“Tales of Genevieve de Monet.” The collection contains two fascinating tales (written in 1997 and 2006) starring the savior of Gideon Redoak. Almost five centuries as a vampire, Genevieve has a major unidentified threat that has killed her offspring. Her ghoulish cousins and her vampiric children cannot tell her what is coming for her in “Watch and Ward.” French dragoon Jean de la Mare and Genevieve de Monet meet on a battlefield in Germany where he is dying. She offers him a cleaner death, but he chooses to be her Undead Guardian in “A Babe in Arms.”

Although the two stars possess different ethics, the seven tales are entertaining dark urban fantasies.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thawed Out and Fed Up-Ryan Brown

Thawed Out and Fed Up

Ryan Brown

Gallery, Oct 4 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781439171561

In a steady rain in Welshland, Texas Sam Bonham wakes up in the alley next to Rack ‘Em Up. He notices blood all over his clothing, not his; and he has his fillet knife tucked in his jeans. He has no idea what happened last night, but assumes he is back in a shitload of trouble; nothing new to him. Six months ago he walked out on his wife Georgia and became a deadbeat dad to their son Sam, Jr. At the Busy Bee Diner, he overhears two cops talking about the vicious stabbing death of Georgia’s boyfriend Slick on her lawn; the body was found by San, Jr.

Having had a fight with Slick Motley earlier in the day, he believes he killed Slick in a rage though he cannot remember anything from last night; Sam flees East Texas. He stops in strange Blistered Valley that looks like a movie set of a late nineteenth century town. An outlaw gang runs the town. However, the oddity that stuns him most is meeting cryogenically frozen John Wayne who insists he is Ethan Edwards. Although the septuagenarian Duke is in no shape for a High Noon brawl, he mentors Sam into what it takes to be an American hero like he was during The Searchers.

This whimsical fantasy follows the redemption of a badass who goes from selfish loser to risking his life for strangers as a hero. The transformation of Sam is deftly handled while his thawed out teacher helps him understand what makes any person a hero. This is an entertaining refreshing allegorical thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Survivors-James Wesley, Rawles


James Wesley, Rawles

Atria, Oct 4 2011, $15.34

ISBN: 9781439172803

While politicians fiddled with fake solutions, the economic Crunch had begun. The debt officially at six trillion was over 3 trillion when obligations and off line credit card gimmicks were added to the calculation. Off budget was the only response DC had to the crisis. The dollar is useless; replaced by precious medals, bartering or stealing. People horded what they could, but looting and mob murder took over the streets.

In Afghanistan, Army Ordinance Captain Andy Laine realizes the Crunch will leave soldiers abandoned so he stashes supplies and begins an odyssey to get to his family in Farmington, New Mexico. His brother Lars, a 30-point veteran, tries to keep his wife Beth and their daughter Anelli safe on the family farm in New Mexico. Lars also takes in the three teenage Phelps siblings (Matthew, Reuben, and Shadrack). Not all maintain their humanity while trying to survive. Having established a warehouse near Houston to store his loot, Ignacio Garcia forms La Fuerza, a gang that raids unprotected communities in the southwest.

Survivors is a fascinating cautionary tale that extrapolates what his happening in DC, Wall Street and around the world to predict the collapse of the American Corporacy and how various people will act and react to the implosion rings true. Loaded with plenty of data to defend James Wesley, Rawles assertion a collapse is imminent (for instance fighting two wars on a credit card mentality). is believable. The intriguing story line follows a horde of survivors struggling with the ordeal of the aftermath of the Crunch. Although there are too many stories in the Rawles landscape making it difficult to keep score, fans will relish the “coming collapse” of America.

Harriet Klausner

Alterant-Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love


Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love

Pocket, Sep 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439195246

In just over an hour, Evalle Kincaid will face the Tribunal on charges that will lead to her eternal lock up. She feels it is unfair since she was too busy saving mankind from an eight-century old warlord to prepare her defense as the only freed Alterant. Her other half-breed species are dead or caged by the purebred Belador. However, Storm the VIPER tracker tells her of Alterant attacks from three escapees. Brina defends her at the Tribunal of Gods, but Evalle concludes protecting humanity is not enough for the biased Tribunal.

One of the Tribunal Loki, to anger another member Ares, suggests she prove herself by bringing in the escaped murdering Alterant. Brina tells her sixteen not three got out; eight are dead but the rest remain on a killing spree. Brina is aware that the Belador link is a death trap for her kind so she needs Evalle who she trusts with her life to hunt down the killers. To succeed in hunting down her now kind, Evalle knows she needs Tristan, an escaped Alterant she sent back to his jail. He is like Ares in that he wants Evalle dead.

The second Belador urban fantasy (see Blood Trinity) is an exciting thriller that once again makes the world of Kenyon-Love seems genuine with multiple species. Evalle is a terrific kick butt heroine while Brina and others show their trust of her by willing to put their neck on the line with the Tribunal. Although fans will get impatient with the Tribunal, the story line is filled with action and betrayal as Evalle knows when dealing with fickle superiors, deals tend to be flushed as excrement.

Harriet Klausner

Wolf Among The Stars-Steve White

Wolf Among The Stars

Steve White

Baen, Nov 1 2011, $25.00

ISBN 9781451637540

Five decades have passed since the alien Lokaron invasion. The earthlings responded to the annexation of the planet into the Lokaron Empire as a colony by either rebelling or becoming human quislings belonging to the Earth First party (see Eagle Against the Stars). As a result of the resistance, the mighty Lokaron Empire threatens to implode into a civil war.

Captain Andrew Roark investigates the strange death of his superior officer Admiral Arnstein. The victim’s grieving daughter Rachel, wanting justice for her father, joins him on his inquiry. They soon uncover a diabolical plan in which the alien shapeshifting Kappainu manufacture incidents leading to interstellar combat in which they will be the victors. In a strange bedfellows' way, Lokaron agent Reislon’Sygnath accompanies the humans; they seek a way to prevent the insidious shapeshifters from shifting the power in the galaxy.

Wolf Among the Stars is an exciting action-packed military science fiction thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the hero investigates the admiral’s death and never slows down as a homicide inquiry turns into a save the galaxy conspiracy tale. Although there is too frequent use of passive commentary to describe the issues facing the lead trio, readers will enjoy this engaging tale while wondering whose side Reislon’Sygnath really is on.

Harriet Klausner

Marco: Book 3 of the Books of Insanity-KT Pinto

Marco: Book 3 of the Books of Insanity

KT Pinto

By Light Unseen Media, Sep 1 2011, $10.00

ISBN: 9781935303237

The Unseelie Fae Queen allows Celeste the vampyress and her companion Vanity the werecat to live. However, the Fae Queen gives them no choice where she dumps them. Knights loyal to Cai of Britannia capture the pair. Cai calls Celeste his sister Morgan and has Vanity locked away in his dungeon. Celeste knows Cai as the renowned Roman General and vampire Marco.

He explains why he changed his name and what he is plotting. He introduces her to Arturus who Marco believes will make a good king of Britannia, but wants to make him a legend. She agrees to assist him with creating the legend of chivalrous King Arthur and his knights. As she develops a money source of prostitutes, Celeste begins the scheme of turning an honorable warrior into a legend starting with the Lady of the Lake and the Sword in the Stone. With assistance from another vampyre Lucifer, eventually released Vanity, and a surprising third heavenly source, High King Arthur of Britannia will live forever.

The third "Books of Insanity" (see Celeste and Vanity) is an intriguing refreshing look at the development of the Arthurian mythos. Although on the surface Celeste’s history (and that of Vanity) will remind readers of Chelsea Quinn Yarbo’s Count Saint Germain; they are polar opposites when it comes to morality; as she has no qualms about drinking the pure blood of a three year old though even though the toddler will die and she has other choices. Celeste is a fascinating evil protagonist whose actions keep the story line focused as she and her comrades create a legend.

Harriet Klausner

Wolf Among The Stars- Steve White

Wolf Among The Stars

Steve White

Baen, Nov 1 2011, $25.00

ISBN 9781451637540

Five decades have passed since the alien Lokaron invasion. The earthlings responded to the annexation of the planet into the Lokaron Empire as a colony by either rebelling or becoming human quislings belonging to the Earth First party (see Eagle Against the Stars). As a result of the resistance, the mighty Lokaron Empire threatens to implode into a civil war.

Captain Andrew Roark investigates the strange death of his superior officer Admiral Arnstein. The victim’s grieving daughter Rachel, wanting justice for her father, joins him on his inquiry. They soon uncover a diabolical plan in which the alien shapeshifting Kappainu manufacture incidents leading to interstellar combat in which they will be the victors. In a strange bedfellows' way, Lokaron agent Reislon’Sygnath accompanies the humans; they seek a way to prevent the insidious shapeshifters from shifting the power in the galaxy.

Wolf Among the Stars is an exciting action-packed military science fiction thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the hero investigates the admiral’s death and never slows down as a homicide inquiry turns into a save the galaxy conspiracy tale. Although there is too frequent use of passive commentary to describe the issues facing the lead trio, readers will enjoy this engaging tale while wondering whose side Reislon’Sygnath really is on.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 26, 2011

Unleashed-Sara Humphreys


Sara Humphreys

Sourcebooks, Oct 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402258435

Critics ripped her work for the lack of heart and she failed to sell her art until this morning when her favorite painting was purchased, orphaned as a child Samantha Logan is leaving Brooklyn to return home to her Nonie and the beach; based on a dream of the beach and more. However before she can go home, her affluent spoiled former boyfriend Roger Van Douson accosts her. Though scared, something rumbles inside him and she frightens him into leaving her.

Malcolm Drew is the last of his family of the Eagle Clan Amoveo shapeshifters. He knows Samantha is his soulmate having danced with her in their dreams. Her next door neighbor, he looks forward to her return home though he must be cautious as she is unaware that she is one of his kind. However, as she learns, rejects and accepts the truth re her DNA; the ancient Caedo clan of Amoveo hunters stalks Malcolm and watches his mate to see if she displays the infection.

Although the romantic urban fantasy story line takes time to set the players on the stage, fans will enjoy Sara Humphreys’ Unleashed. The entertaining story line grips readers once the beleaguered heroine returns home and never slows down while containing a powerful plausible late twist. Sam is a refreshing lead protagonist as she struggles to adapt to all she abruptly learns about herself, her late parents, and being the guy next door’s little wolf soulmate.

Harriet Klausner

The Goblin King-Shona Husk

The Goblin King

Shona Husk

Sourcebooks, Oct 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402259852

A thousand years ago the druid exiled Celtic King Roan and his warrior horde including his brother into the Shadowlands. A lump of symbolic gold replaced his heart, but time is running out on the former monarch; if not saved by the love of a human he will either vanish into nothingness or join the soulless Goblin Horde.

Eliza Coulter summons Roan to protect her from the rage of her fiancé Steven Slade. An heiress she trusted Steven after her dad died, but no more. She knows he has stolen from her and fears his temper. Thus she has turned to the Goblin King. Roan hopes to make Eliza his queen, but she would have to give up so much for him. Destroying his wardrobe will not keep her safe from the abusive Steven, which he knows is his prime mission.

This is an intriguing romantic fantasy with an interesting psychological spin in which the duo worlds of Sharon Husk seem real yet also metamorphic. Roan is a heroic individual who willingly sacrifices his chance for the return of his soul to keep his beloved safe. Eliza is the more fascinating protagonist as she is the ultimate damsel in distress unable to function without a man’s protection. However, her passivity to the nth degree helplessness is two edged as readers observe an emotionally crippled person failing to take action beyond calling for help to protect hers even when facing peril but also makes her too damaged to be the lead female in a contemporary setting.

Harriet Klausner

Utterly Charming-Kristine Grayson

Utterly Charming

Kristine Grayson

Sourcebooks, Oct 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402248511

Ealhswith the witch and Aethelstan Blackstone the wizard are in a custody battle over who cares for Emma the Sleeping Beauty. In Portland Blackstone accompanied by Sancho Panza hire near impoverished lawyer Nora Barr to represent the wizard in court, but once she hears him admit he has no legal relationship to the comatose woman, Nora says she cannot help him. Two weeks later, she is his lawyer as Blackstone faces criminal charges of arson and murder in a fire fight. Soon after that mess is cleaned up she is retained by the pair to hide the minibus containing Emma in her coffin.

A decade later, after a one millennium sleep, Emma awakens. Blackstone knows he is her Prince Charming, but she rejects him; blaming her so called champion for costing her a thousand years of life. Emma also wants no part of Ealhswith, the other party that has made her the rope in a tug of war. Instead she asks Nora to mentor her in living in modern day Portland starting with a social security card. Prince Charming finds himself attracted to Nora but knows his fate lies with Emma.

The second charming fractured fairy tale (see Wickedly Charming) is an engaging humorous satire that the late cartoonist Jay Ward would have appreciated. Filled with jocularity as Emma, Blackstone, Ealhswith and Panza converge in modern day Portland in an epic battle of magic in which the warriors learn modern day combatants require a lawyer. Readers will enjoy this amusing take on Sleeping Beauty sleepless in Portland.

Harriet Klausner

The Storm That Is Sterling-Lisa Renee Jones

The Storm That Is Sterling

Lisa Renee Jones

Sourcebooks, Oct 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402251597

Renegade soldier Sterling Jeter is a take the hill at any personal cost warrior. His current assignment is to keep NASA astrobiologist Rebecca Burns, who he knew and admired in high school over a decade ago, safe from rebel leader Adam Rain and his Zodius super soldiers. Knowing she is dying from lung cancer, Becca comes out of her three month medical treatment in Germany to return to her home in Houston. Waiting for her at her door is Sterling whose GTECH senses warn him of a Zodius assault.

He protects her from the abduction attempt and explains why he and his Special Forces unit needs her help with an addictive drug made from an alien DNA sample found in the 1950s. Sterling vows to keep the woman he adored as a teen safe and help her find a cure. Rebecca soon discovers the experimental treatment has her addicted to the new drug, but also possesses new skills. As the enemy Zodius ramp up the attacks, Sterling and Rebecca must trust in their love for one another to survive the ordeals.

The second Zodius romantic science fiction (see The Legend of Michael) is a superb second chance at love thriller. Loaded with action as the enemy keeps on coming, fans will root for the lead couple to Lifebond, but to complete the ritual means reaching a safe zone and curing her cancer. The Storm That Is Sterling is a great tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Doomsday Vault-Steven Harper

The Doomsday Vault

Steven Harper

Roc, Nov 1 1011, $7.99

ISBN 9780451464293

The “clockwork plague” has left many sort of dead as most victims of the disease become brainless zombies. A few of the inflicted turn into mechanical geniuses creating the technological advances that are all over London.

Twenty-one years old Lady Alice Michaels has no marital prospects amongst her aristocratic class as her family died from the plague and she is a blueblood clockwork expert. She still hopes to make a good match but knows this is unlikely.

Privateers attack the airship USS Juniper. Gavin Ennock is fortunate to survive though he is trapped with no place to go in London. The British government’s top secret Third Ward recognizes his musical and air talents worthy of exploitation, but hold off abducting him when Gavin and Alice meet as her estranged aunt left her with something they want to possess. As the beleaguered technological geniuses flee from the government, they learn of the intent of the Third Ward that shows a love of empire right or wrong.

The Doomsday Vault is an engaging steampunk thriller. Alice feels like she fell through a rabbit hole; while Gavin is as confused by the let them drink tea cavalier attitude of the Third Ward. Although the use of coincidence enables much of the key escapades involving the lead pair, sub-genre readers will enjoy Steven Harper’s guided tour of the Clockwork Empire.

Harriet Klausner

Kris Longknife Daring-Mike Shepherd

Kris Longknife Daring

Mike Shepherd

Ace, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007034

The seemingly endless war between the United States and the Iteeche appears over with the signing of a peace treaty. Both sides can return to what they were doing before the two species collided, exploring space. However, scouts probing a particular sector vanish with no bodies, ship fragments or anything belonging to the Iteeche anywhere in the vicinity.

The two species collaborate with an investigation into what happened to the vessels. Lieutenant Commander Kris Longknife volunteers to lead a Fleet of Discovery into uncharted regions. At a jump point, they find aliens who destroyed a sentient planet. Kris and crew learn who this creepy enemy is as they fight and if they loose commit suicide. Still she must remain calm as she decides to stop the aliens, who can pass for human, from destroying the orb where the sentient bird like species live knowing if she goes ahead with her plan it will lead to another interstellar war.

The eighth Kris Longknife outer space military science fiction (see Undaunted) will elate fans of the series who know how far the heroine has come from her rookie ensign salad days to leading a flotilla. The story line is faster than the speed of light as the humans and their former enemy the Iteeche debate how to deal with a third species while Kris deploys the Eisenhower principle of exploring all other viable options before sending soldiers to die.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Faerie Ring-Kiki Hamilton

The Faerie Ring

Kiki Hamilton

Tor, Sep 27 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780765327222

Following the deaths of her parents and needing to avoid her odious uncle, teenager Tiki lives on the streets of London. She and other street urchin pick pockets while they reside in a dump near Charing Cross Station.

In December 1871, Tiki grabs a ring. However this bauble is not just an ordinary piece of jewelry. The ring belongs to the rulers of England and symbolizes the peace between the humans and the fey. If lost, the fey no longer are bound to idly observe the encroachment of the mortals into their realm. Tiki learns the truth and wants to return the ring to Queen Victoria in order to collect the reward that will enable her and her orphans to leave the streets. However, the faerie stalk her as they want the ring so that the truce ends with her blood as the catalyst in a dark magical assault on mankind. Only Rieker the thief as a sort of guardian angel and her urchin comrades have her back; while Prince Leopold stunned by the “ring” he sees etched around Tiki’s wrist wants to know who she really is.

With an in your face gleeful nod to Oliver Twist (Rieker is even reading the book) and the Prince and the Pauper, but starring a Cinderella heroine, readers will appreciate this engaging historical fantasy. Tiki is a super protagonist who cares deeply for her “children” while Rieker is an enigmatic thief who seems to always have her back. Although the ending feels more like a setup for future tales rather than a climax, young teenage readers will enjoy visiting Kiki Hamilton’s Dickensian fantasy realm.

Harriet Klausner

The Immortality Engine-George Mann

The Immortality Engine

George Mann

Tor, Sep 27 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765327758

Although special agent Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes have solved some complex cases (see The Osiris Ritual), he has turned to opium. Part of his rationalization is the drug gives him psychic powers. However, deep down he knows the cause is his belief that his sidekick is an informer to Queen Victoria. In fact Veronica remains clueless that she is a prime cause for her partner’s addiction as her focus is on her frail sister Amelia who suffers from seizures that include prophecies. At the Grayling Institute, Dr. Lucien Fabian provides Amelia with special experimental care to induce her visions.

Scotland Yard Chief Investigator Sir Charles Bainbridge drags Newbury from an opium den to identify a murder victim; the CH believes the corpse is that master thief Edwin Sykes. Newbury confirms the deceased is Sykes, but something seems off kilter though he is unsure what. When a robbery that only Sykes could have done with the technology deployed leaves the three sleuths stunned.

The third Victorian Newbury-Hobbes mystery is an exciting alternate historical thriller. The lead protagonists have personal issues as he has become an opium eater and she is paralyzed by fears for her failing sister. The Sykes enigma is deftly handled as The Immortality Engine is a wonderful steampunk who and how investigation; vastly different yet as much fun as the occult themed The Osiris Ritual.

Harriet Klausner

Laddertop-Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card; Stefan Rudnicki (illustrator)


Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card; Stefan Rudnicki (illustrator)

Tor Seven Seas, Sep 27 2011, $10.99

ISBN: 9780765324603

At the Deerfield Middle school tweeners reticent Robbi Holton and aggressive Azure Miles are BFFs. Whereas Robbi expects to remain at Deerfield, Azure wants to attend Laddertop Academy where children are trained at maintenance of the humongous ladders that rise 36000 miles from the surface and the four power space stations where the steps end. A quarter of a century ago, the alien Givers arrived at earth and before abrutly vanishing left behind special energy technology with the ladders and stations.

Azure is euphoric to hear her name called to attend Laddertop; Robbi on the other hands has doubts longer than the ladders because she leaves behind her siblings under the abusive watch of their stepfather. At the academy, a strange beast bites Robbie leaving her with an odd mark that bleeds on and off for no apparent reason. She also struggles with eerier dreams that shake her well being. The pair soon begins to look into the enigma of the Givers; unaware that their investigation could destroy mankind.

This is a great first act middle school graphic science fiction comic book. The lead protagonists are intrepid but display their courageous in totally opposite ways. They make the entertaining Card dad and daughter collaboration fun to read while Stefan Rudnicki‘s illustrations enhance the space adventures of two preadolescent feisty females.

Harriet Klausner

The Children of the Sky-Vernor Vinge

The Children of the Sky

Vernor Vinge

Tor, Oct 11 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312875626

A decade of survival problems have passed since Ravna Bergndot and the cryo Children of the Sky escaped the near extinction Blight of humanity by landing on Tines World (see A Fire Upon the Deep). They build a civilization of sorts with the help of telepathic Tine canines.

However, humans remain scornful of the Blight peril as a sham to obtain and maintain power, and some local Tine inhabitants want the off-worlders to leave as they believe the outsiders are a blight to their world. Although natural enemies, these diverse groups hold in common one thing: the failure of Bergndot and her hundred children at any cost.

The Children of the Sky is a strong science fiction thriller that focuses on how far humanity has fallen in technology since the adventures in A Fire Upon the Deep. The human skeptics will remind readers of climate change deniers while the Tine is divided between friendly and hostile towards the newcomers. Although the climax is disappointing as it ends with another novel to follow, fans will appreciate Vernor Vinge’s follow-up to what happened to those who fled the Blight.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Enslaved by a Viking-Delilah Devlin

Enslaved by a Viking

Delilah Devlin

Heat, Oct 4 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425243176

Using her sexual lures, bounty hunter Fatin Sahin betrayed Viking Prince Eirik, brother to the ruler of Ulfhednars. Now he and other warriors including Hakon cousin to the chief of the Berserkir clan, are sex thralls whose semen have been tested for quality. Eirik plans to escape in order to avenge his affront by Fatin.

He is unaware that she is a former sex thrall to Mistress Aliyah, the Consortium head of pleasure. She finds captives to keep her sister Zarah safe from the Consortium. His betrothed Princess Birget learns of his incarceration and mounts a rescue as only a Viking can do. However, she makes an ally in rebel Consortium Officer Baraq Ata. At the same time, Aliyah tries to crush Fatin and Eirik because of their attraction that she sense is taboo.

This is an exhilarating BDSM (and more) romantic science fiction. The Devlin universe seems genuine with human trafficking and enslavement a key element that binds the Consortium. With a strong cast made up of several races and a lead couple in love and distrust, readers will appreciate Enslaved by a Viking in outer space.

Harriet Klausner

Touch of Crimson-Sylvia Day

Touch of Crimson

Sylvia Day

Signet, Oct 4 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451234995

In Phoenix, Seraphim Sentinel leader Adrian Mitchell is stunned when Jason Taylor informs him that second in command Phineas died from a vampire ambush. Adrian finds problems with the scenario as described since one of Phineas’’ werewolf dogs survived and know one detected a vamp in the area.

At the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Lindsay Gibson notices Adrian as he does her. She is confused with her instant attraction to the CEO of Mitchell Aeronautics while he understands their need. He knows she possesses the soul of his beloved Nephilim Shadoe who he has watched die several times over the centuries. Vowing not this time, he plans to keep his soulmate safe from her Fallen father the vampire. At the same time all hell has broken loose as someone has discovered a dangerous bloody connection between the Sentinel, their bitter Lycan foot soldiers and the Fallen watchers.

This entertaining urban romantic fantasy contains a heated reincarnation love story that grips the audience with its fervor between two intriguing protagonists with quite a history and DNA. However, the overarching theme of the enforcement war between Seraphim and their Fallen former angelic brothers never fully comes across although the plight of the angry Lycan on the verge of rebelling anchors a fascinating spin in which the good guys use a volunteer group of the Fallen as expendables. Overall the first Renegade Angels tale is an exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Visions of Skyfire-Regan Hastings

Visions of Skyfire

Regan Hastings

Signet, Oct 4 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451234971

Teresa Santiago has spent most of her life training to use her elemental powers. She feels almost ready though she is still somewhat fearful as she works with lightning in the desert near Sedona, Arizona. Like others in her coven, the recent Awakening by dormant witches has led to social and political crisis with those seeking power demanding incarceration camps of even American citizens (see Visions of Magic). She also knows who her destined mate is.

Although Teresa knows of Rune, she is stunned by her attraction to him; he likewise shares her desires. As they fall in love, government agents continue their patriotic acts to imprison American citizen witches. While eluding the Feds, at the same the duo must locate and control an artifact capable of biblical levels of mass devastation.

The second Awakening urban fantasy continues the powerful cautionary premise of "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security" (Benjamin Franklin). The burning of the Bill of Rights when it comes to witches makes for an enlightening tale; while the quest for the dangerous artifact enhances the overall excitement. With a strong lead couple and deep secondary characters, Visions of Skyfire contains a profound message (think of Japanese-Americans sent to camps during WWII), as Regan Hastings provides a poignant warning wrapped inside a super, fast-paced thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ecstasy Untamed-Pamela Palmer

Ecstasy Untamed

Pamela Palmer

Avon, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061794735

Feral Warriors Hawke and Tighe are caught in a Daemon spirit trap. Hawke fears his death will leave his spirit animal trapped forever just like 17 who died before him; this will leave only seven to fight the Daemon and the Mage. His brethren rescue Hawke who was trapped for a week. Out of character Hawke goes into a rage, changes into his animal nature and flies away. Feral chief Lyon worries and wonders if Hawke is damaged.

In Warsaw two Daemons attack Faith the Therian, but a stranger kills both. Maxim insists she is his mate and they go to America so he can become the next Feral Warrior replacing the dead Fox. Hawke is attracted to Faith as is his spirit. Faith thinks of going home as she wants Hawke but feels an impulsive need for nasty Maxim. The clan conducts the ritual which brings Maxim his spirit animal, a saber tooth tiger, one of the lost. Five new feral arrive. Maxim boasts to her his new Feral will kill the old and she is one of the bad new Warriors. Before he can make her forget as he has been doing, Faith flees to warn Hawke.

This is an excellent urban fantasy (see Rapture Untamed) due to a great twist that serves as a key element in this tale and in the overarching saga. The story line is loaded with action but it is the romantic triangle that makes the tale fun to read. Although the over used villain’s boasting costs his side much of the surprise attack, fans will appreciate this exciting entry as the enemy has found a way to take the fight inside the Feral Warriors clan.

Harriet Klausner

Jane Austen, Blood Persuasion-Janet Mullany

Jane Austen, Blood Persuasion

Janet Mullany

Morrow, Oct 4 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 978-0061958311

In 1810 at Chawton Hants, Jane Austen is working on a manuscript but is struggling to focus. First her seventeen year old niece is flirting outrageously with Mr. Terry and the Undead. Second, an Undead “family” has moved into the neighborhood to rusticate since the Prince Regent ignoring how the vampires saved England back in 1797 when Jane was changed (see Jane and the Damned), wants the bloodsuckers banished from polite society.

An Undead Dorcus Kettering visits the Austen family for tea. She informs Jane that her creator William is in town filled with remorse for failing to care for Jane during the critical changes. Although he blames her for his broken heart, William wants a second chance to make amends, but Jane prefers being human rejects his overtures. Instead she fears the vampires will cause a bloodbath and her trepidations are affirmed as rival gangs of the Damned compete for turf control. However, Jane has no idea how to prevent the calamity while her beloved sister Cassandra remains in the same state of denial she has been in since the dance at the Basingstoke Assembly Room thirteen years ago.

Although the story line starts slow as the key cast is set, readers will enjoy this blood and tea historical fantasy. Janet Mullany captures the essence of the heroine as she struggles with her reverting back to the Damned, finishing her manuscript, and keeping a blood bath from occurring as she knows what is at stake. Readers will enjoy this paranormal Regency thriller with a powerful late twist as Jane Bites Back (by Michael Thomas Ford) without the need of any Persuasion at those who want to use her or her family.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heart of Steel-Meljean Brook

Heart of Steel

Meljean Brook

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425243305

Mercenary Lady Corsair airship Captain Yasmeen leads her crew to Fladstrand, Denmark. Their arrival frightens much of the townsfolk as the lady Corsair has a merciless reputation. She is here to meet with author Zenobia Fox to inform her she killed her brother treasure hunter Archimedes Fox by dumping him into a Venice canal amidst zombies for his concealing who his late sire was. Having killed his father before him, she has no qualms of number three, especially since the woman is an imposter whose associate wants the da Vinci sketch of an air ship that Yasmeen took from Zenobia. Yasmeen kills the associate. They make a deal on the sketch and on the author writing Yasmeen adventures.

Archimedes survives his dunking. He is resolute as he hunts down the lady Corsair with two obsessions in mind. First he wants his sketch back and second he wants to court the woman who killed his father and almost killed him as he understands why she tossed him off her vessel but into a canal instead of rock. When he catches up to her, he persuades her not to kill him. They soon trek into enemy territory, the Horde-occupied Morocco.

The latest Iron Seas steampunk thriller (see The Iron Duke) is a great tale starring two fascinating protagonists in what may be the strangest courtship in years. The story line is filled with action as the Heart of Steel and the roguish treasure hunter make for an endearing couple. Fans who relish something different in their novels will want to read Meljean Brooks’ Yasmeen and Zenobia's excellent adventure.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Darkness-Lauren Dane

Heart of Darkness

Lauren Dane

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780425244517

Law school dropout Meriel Owen is heir to running the mighty witch Clan though she finds seeing the same coven every day tiresome. That is until her concerned mother Edwina turns to her for help. Edwina explains that someone is stealing their power. She wants Meriel to investigate.

Her inquiry leads her to underground club owner Dominic Bright who distrusts those with power who makes the rules he breaks. Both are unhappy with their encounter as each recognizes the other is their undesirable bond mate. She lives by rules, but begins to show him why adherence is critical at a time when psychopathic mage killers siphon witch powers to further their personal agendas without regard to the innocents. Whereas her side objects to him, their mating leaves both in danger from his side.

The engaging first Bound by Magick urban fantasy stars forbidden lovers whose bonding causes tsuris to her clan but nothing like the reaction from his side. Although star-crossed lovers, the relationship between Bright and Owen goes rather smoothly between them even while each questions the wisdom of their pairing. Still with family issues on both sides, fans will enjoy this opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Rising-Keri Arthur

Darkness Rising

Keri Arthur

Dell, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780440245735

Hybrid Helki werewolf (her late mom’s side) Aedh (her dad’s side) Australian Risa Jones mourns the death of her mother when her soul stealing father, whom she never met, arrives with demands. He needs her assistance to find a tome and the all powerful keys to the gates of heaven and hell. To insure she complies with his orders, the rogue Aedh informs his offspring he will steal the souls of her friends if she fails him.

Vampire council chief Madeline Hunter also gives the besieged Risa an ultimatum. If she wants to live, she will learn why vampires are suddenly aging, losing their minds and dying. Her only ally is a reaper who has no feelings but she is attracted to him.

The second Dark Angels urban fantasy is a superb thriller as the tsuris continues to avalanche the heroine who is not allowed time to grieve her loss. The next generation Guardian (to her Aunt Riley Jenson) struggles with what her father and the head Vampire demand of her, and with her feelings for an unfeeling essence; while also dealing with her mom’s death. The sub-genre audience will appreciate this excellent entry but need to read Darkness Unbound first as this tale directly follows what happened in its predecessor.

Harriet Klausner

Spider’s Revenge-Jennifer Estep

Spider’s Revenge

Jennifer Estep

Pocket, Sep 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439192641

When stone-ice elemental Gin Blanco was a teen, Mab Monroe the fire elemental murdered her mother and her sister. Gin dedicated her life seeking vengeance. Diligently training for the moment, the cold blooded assassin called Spider has been changed by those who cherish her especially her lover Owen Grayson. Thus when the opportunity arises for the final kill, she misses the shot with her crossbow.

Mab knows the true identity of Spider and why she targets her. She places an exorbitant amount of money for the head of Spider and Bria the babysitter. Prepared for a lone wolf mano a mano with Mab and her cohorts including a zillion or so bounty hunters, Gin is stunned when those who love her stand at her side.

Readers, who have anxiously waited for the High Noon showdown in the Elemental Assassins urban fantasy saga (see Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, and Spider’s Revenge), will not be disappointed with Spider’s Revenge. The heroine has come a long way in preparing to execute her vendetta, but the thing she could not prevent is the love and caring for others that ironically soften her to where her edge may be to dull. Action-packed with a strong cast, Jennifer Estep provides a strong tale in which the story line surpasses fans anticipation.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Iron Knight-Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight

Julie Kagawa

Harlequin Teen, Oct 25 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210367

The last surviving son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court Prince Ash fell in love with half human daughter of the Summer King. He swore allegiance to her but fate has twisted their relationship when she became the Iron Queen Megan. She released him from his pledge as iron kills purebred fey, but he vows to return to her even if it takes eternity.

Ash refuses to not try to return to his beloved, but knows only one way he can achieve his heart’s desire. He must turn moral so iron will no longer burn him. With his partners Puck and Grimalkin, Ash sets out on a personal odyssey, but the trek proves much more difficult than he and his allies imagined as it is not simple to gain a soul though it is easy to lose one.

The final Iron Fey fantasy provides a wonderful refreshing twist as Ash is the lead instead of Meghan who starred in the previous three thrillers (see The Iron King, The Iron Queen and The Iron Daughter). Character driven but filled with action, Ash’s odyssey is an entertaining tale filled with moral convictions that if you love someone with all your soul than you must first do what is right for them and second do what is right for you before you can do what is right for both of you. This is a great finish to a superb teen fantasy saga.

Harriet Klausner

Saints Astray-Jacqueline Carey

Saints Astray

Jacqueline Carey

Grand Central, Nov 22 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446571425

Santitos orphans Loup Garron and Pilar Ecchevarria grew up in Santa Olivia, a locked down town in the buffer zone between Mexico and Texas; a place forgotten by the Americans who prefer not to know about genetic engineering. Both understand the military at this Outpost 12 are hunting them with a kill order. Still, the pair would like to liberate the incarcerated Santitos left behind.

Loup’s former sparring partner at Santa Olivia, Miguel Garza also escaped from the prison-town. He has gone to the American authorities to testify for the freedom of those he left behind. Supposedly placed in protective custody, Miguel vanishes before he can testify. Though they know crossing the border to the States is illegal and dangerous to life, liberty and one day pursuit of happiness, Loup and Pilar decide they must rescue Miguel before they can do anything for those left behind.

The sequel to Santa Olivia is a great action futuristic thriller starring two kick butt females who are on a quest to do what they believe is the right thing for their compatriots. Although over the top of Guadalupe Peak, fans will not be able to put down this fast-paced tale starring two dynamic heroines.

Harriet Klausner

Magic on the Line-Devon Monk

Magic on the Line

Devon Monk

Roc, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451464286

In Portland, Hound Allie Beckstrom adheres to the strict rules of the overseeing of magic Authority while risking her life and soul in support of the practitioners (see Magic at the Gate and Magic at the Hunt). Allie and her cohorts find the corpse of rookie Hound Ant Bell. When Davy Silvers takes a closer look at the body, Ant bites him before dying again. Davy is dying from the bite.

Other dead Hounds have arisen to kill peers and the innocent as a plague epidemic devastates the city. Allie informs the new Authority chief Bartholomew Wray that she believes magic is being deployed by a serial killer. Bartholomew rejects her theory while warning her to strictly adhere to the rules. While Bartholomew fiddles with a power game by isolating Allie from her friends and lover Zayvion Jones, she believes she will have to break the rules of the Authority making them fugitives in order to end the magical plague.

This is a terrific entry as for every action (the Life Well battle) there is a reaction (Bartholomew seemingly the righteous by the book bureaucrat), which leaves Allie, Zay and others trying to do what they believe is right to end a magical borne disease at a great personal cost. Filled with action and strong characterizations, readers will appreciate Devon Monk’s latest urban fantasy as the heroine must choose between ignoring the truth and crossing the outlaw line.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Black Magic-Brenda Jernigan

Black Magic

Brenda Jernigan

Dellarte, Aug 3 2011, $37.95

ISBN: 9781450100199

In 1980 in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dr. Alexandria Dumont performs rehabilitation medicine at Regional Hospital. Alex and her friend Carol go to a flea market. There Alex buys an oil painting from Hattie the elderly Cajun who tells her she will be contented tomorrow. Alex takes the painting of a pre Civil War plantation with a young woman in a peach gown near a lake. The reflection from the lake is what stuns Alex as it is not the woman but a burned out house. Falling from the back support is a child’s dairy from 1835 that Mex begins to read before falling asleep.

When Alex awakes she finds herself in a strange bedroom with Hattie sitting nearby. She learns Hattie is a free black working as housekeeper at River Bends in New Orleans. Confused that she and her medical bag went back in time, Alex believes she knows why when she meets twelve years old cripple Missy Wentworth. Alex knows she can help Missy walk, but the child’s older brother and guardian Brad rejects her assertion as he thinks doctors are quacks, but on Hattie’s word hires her anyway to care for his sibling. As he fails to seduce the doctor and is about to announce his engagement, Brad wants Alex.

This is a terrific time travel romance starring a wonderful heroine and a protective big brother. The support cast is solid especially the child, the mysterious Hattie and the nasty almost fiancĂ©e. With a few spins, readers will enjoy Alex’s sojourn into the past to help a child walk and to meet the love of her life.

Harriet Klausner

I Robot: To Protect-Mickey Zucker Reichert

I Robot: To Protect

Mickey Zucker Reichert

Roc, Nov 1 2011, $24.00

ISBN: 9780451464194

In 2035 Dr. Susan Calvin accepts a psychiatry residency at Manhattan Hasbro Hospital. However on her first day at the research facility, she walks through protesters who believe the hospital violates God by creating “designer babies”.

She soon learns of a top secret project in which nanobots are injected into the spinal fluid of selected patients. When the chosen begin to act erratic, Susan becomes concerned. She raises her worries to her supervisors, but is told to be quiet as this program has strong funding and political backing. However, the program supporters fail to use proper due diligence especially security as the technology is taken over by death mongers out to prove their righteousness at any cost.

Paying homage to Isaac Asimov by updating the science, the technology and the three rules of robots; Mickey Zucker Reichert provides a strong thriller that will elate fans of the I Robot saga. The cast of humans and robots seem genuine while Susan holds the exciting story line together with her obstinate need to do right. The late Dr. Asimov would have appreciated this updating of his classic.

Harriet Klausner

Firebird-Jack McDevitt


Jack McDevitt

Ace, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780441020737

Karen Howard arrives at the office of Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath wanting to hire them to find good prices for her late sister Elizabeth’s estate. After insulting Chase by demanding to meet with Alex, she explains her sibling was married to famous physicist Chris Robin who had theories on multiverse realties and vanishing ships before disappearing over four decades ago. Chase explains to Karen there is no market for items owned by a scientist. Alex tells Chase that Chris is famous for vanishing just outside his house; his junk should sell well.

Alex tells Chase they will look into the disappearance though they will not solve it as their investigation will drive interest and value up. Chase cautions Alex that if they solve the mystery value collapses. Thus they begin the odyssey when retired Dr. jerry asks about the Robin items. Thus the pair visits the Christopher Robin Society and soon travel to planet Villanueva, home to abandoned raging AIs while the inquiry turns as convoluted as the missing Abonai vessel that became “lost” six years ago .

The latest Benedict-Kolpath science fiction mystery (see The Devil’s Eye) is a great entry as the lead sleuths search for a lost astrophysicist that takes them on a wild adventure. Besides not pooh the name of the scientist, this is a fast-paced thriller from the moment Karen meets skeptical Alex. Fans will enjoy Alex’s narration of what happens to Chase and him as his partner leads him into several hair-raising escapades.

Harriet Klausner

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition-William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition

William Peter Blatty

Harper, Oct 4 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062094353

In 1940s Georgetown, actress and single mother Chris MacNeil begins a new film. Her happy young daughter Regan is with her. The child begins to complain to her mom about noises at night and her bed shaking. Chris assumes it is just a child’s imagination perhaps caused by her parents’ recent divorce. However, she becomes concerned when Regan's mental state deteriorates. Doctors find nothing wrong while Regan’s health changes for the worse as her language is filled with profanity, her strength greater than several circus strong men and she claims to be the devil as she molests herself with a religious icon.

Chris asks the Jesuits to conduct an exorcism. Psychologist Father Karras, who suffers from a crisis of faith when he failed to be there for his dying widow mom, arrives seeking a medical solution even when he witnesses first hand the inexplicable. Finally Father Merrin comes to Georgetown to attempt the exorcism while DC Police Lieutenant William Kinderman seeks a ritual serial killer who also desecrates churches.

Forty years since the classic horror was published (two years before the movie) and The Exorcist holds up nicely against the test of time as an exciting good vs. evil thriller in spite of most readers knowing the story line and the release of a sequel (see Legion). The novel is character driven by a strong cast with readers wondering for much of the plot whether Regan is possessed or insane; for how can the devil take residence in an innocent child. This barrier breaker tale remains a strong psychological horror thriller as William Peter Blatty enables his audience to see deep into the souls of the priests, the actress, the cop and mostly the besieged victim.

Harriet Klausner

Dragons of the Watch-Donita K. Paul

Dragons of the Watch

Donita K. Paul

WaterBrook, Oct 4 2011, $13.99

ISBN 9781400073412

The oldest of eight children, Country bumpkin Ellicinderpart Clarenbessipawl talks to her best friend Tak the goat on how unfair life is. Everyone received an invitation to the royal wedding and coronation of Princess Tipper and Prince Tayrus. Her Aunt Tiffenbeth and Uncle Stemikenjon will escort Ellie to the royal wedding in Ragar.

However, Tak has other plans as the goat wanders away; she follows Tak to take the goat home before her trek to the weeding of the century, but Ellie gets lost. They end up in a strange city in which giant little kids mistake Tak for a dog and give chase. Famous artist Graddapotmorphit Bealomondore of Greeson rescues them and informs her that they are the only tumanhofers in Rumbard City. He explains the occupants consist of one elderly librarian, a horde of feral very tall six-year-old urohms and seven tiny dragons; he is unaware of the other essence. Considered a hero by the affluent of Chiril, Bealomondtore is on a quest to follow the Creator, but currently he plans to find a way for Ellie, Tak and himself to escape from being bottled up in Rumbard City, after that he will take care of the kids and his heart.

The latest Donita K. Paul “Dragon” Christian allegorical fantasy (see Dragonlight and Dragons of the Valley) is a superb tale with a strong cast especially the lead duet; while several of the kids have different personalities. Their efforts to escape the mysterious city make for a fast-paced story line loaded with action as the lead couple heeding Wulder’s advice to follow the Creator by taking one step at a time to unravel the enigma of Rumbard City.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Best of the Bolos: Their Finest Hour-Hank Davis

The Best of the Bolos: Their Finest Hour

Hank Davis

Baen, Sep 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451637526

All eleven entertaining entries are reprints of previously published tales. Three were written by the Bolo creator Keith Laumer in the 1960s (“Combat Unit", "The Last Command" and "A Relic of War"); the remaining eight were authored by several famous writers in the 1990s. Regardless of whether Mr. Laumer, David Weber ("A Brief Technical History of the Bolos" written as Professor Hermes of the Laumer Chair of Military History, "A Time to Kill" and "The Traitor" ), S. M. Sterling ("Lost Legion") or David Drake ("As Our Strength Lessens"), etc. writr the story each entry contains the basic BOLO makeup and theme of a nonhuman lone wolf willing to risk death to achieve the victory. In fact Bolos typically pay a hell of a price in these dark science fiction short stories. The fun in this collection is to compare the 1990s contributors like those named above and Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, Linda Evans and William H. Keith, Jr. to those of Mr. Laumer. Mr. Weber’s introduction treatise rounds out a fine collection obviously for fans of the Bolo universe; as these readers will appreciate the lone wolf in space risking life and limb knowing what will happen to them but doing it anyway.

Harriet Klausner

Nightshine-Lynn Viehl


Lynn Viehl

Signet, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780451413147

GenHance spliced normal human children with vampire DNA. That genetic mix led to the creation of the Kyndred. Now GenHance continues part two of their research. They want the Kyndred for study dead or alive.

Meanwhile someone else has a different methodology when it comes to studying the DNA of the Kyndred; this scientist kidnaps the Kyndred and takes his victims to a remote Mexican barrier island where he forces them to interbreed. San Francisco medic Charlotte Marena and Takyn protector Samuel Taske are snatched to this isle. They are attracted to one another though she distrusts him as he knows too much about her and she (and he) enjoys the sex between them, which frightens her. As they plot to escape, his power has vanished so she is their only hope to identify and safely flee from their sinister host.

The fourth Kyndred romantic urban fantasy (see Shadowlight, Dreamveil and Frostfire) is a terrific suspense thriller enhanced by the Aztec location. The story line is fast-paced whether it is a sexual interlude or a desperate escape attempt. Readers will appreciate this exciting tale as the overarching theme moves forward with death and life.

Harriet Klausner

The Ninth Circle-R.M. Meluch

The Ninth Circle

R.M. Meluch

DAW, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9780756406943

On the planet Phoenix, the small Roman unit gives newcomer Cinna a choice to jump or not from the Widow’s Edge cliff. Frightened he assumes this is a test to prove he can overcome his natural instincts, but when he lands he leaves a red splat on the ground. His brothers in arms except Nox flee the scene, but Sector Primus Surveillance Center Observer Six watchers observe in horror but bet on the outcome of the incident. The late Cinna’s brothers in arms are disgraced and kicked out of the legion.

The Spring Beauty scientific expedition to the planet Zoe has the zenzoologists debating whether the native mammoths communicate even before they arrive. Scientists Patrick Hamilton and Peter Szasney are hostile towards each other. On remote Zoe, they find something that shakes the core of their belief system. As the former Roman unit turned into the Ninth Circle pirates, the crew of the U.S.S. Merrimack, troops loyal to the Roman Emperor Caesar Numa, and something more insidious converge on Zoe.

The fifth tour of the warship U.S.S. Merrimack (see The Sagittarius Command; and Strength And Honor) is a fascinating entry as the war between the two human cultures remains heated but has a new player. Once again, R.M. Meluch makes a case that war is the waste of foolish politicians who send the young (but not their offspring) to die on remote worlds. The Ninth Circle is an engaging military science fiction tale that fans of the Merrimack will enjoy especially because there is a late twist while newcomers will feel lost on the spacefaring tour.

Harriet Klausner

The Wild Ways-Tanya Huff

The Wild Ways

Tanya Huff

Daw, Nov 1 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9780756406868

Besides humans, the world contains several paranormal species like vampires, goblins, pixies, and hoberts, etc. however on top of the food chain are the Gales. They look human, but are not human and they possess the power to topple empires. The most powerful Gale is Charlotte, but “Charlie” as she is called prefers playing her guitar with her road touring band.

Charlie loves music but also uses music to focus her power, which explains why several other bands want her to join their group. Nobody is as surprised as she is when she helps the Selkies who had their pelts stolen by her Auntie Catherine who was hired by an oil company. Assisting her is fourteen year old Jack who is a Gale Draconian Prince and sorcerer. The person who wanted to control the Selkie is Amelia Carlson who wants to control the selkies as they belong to an environmental group Two Seventy Five N that presses government to deny off shore drilling permits to Amlia’s company. Charlie and Jack search for the stolen pelts, try to prevent the drilling, and prepare for battle against a powerful family member.

The latest Gales urban fantasy (see THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM) is wonderful thriller due to the strong cast who make selkie and Gales seem genuine. The story line is fast-paced but character driven as the aunt and niece are on different sides of the drill baby drill controversy; which anchors the plot in a real contemporary debate. Readers will appreciate Tanya Huff, known for her military science fiction, as The Wild Ways is a terrific read, one of the best urban fantasies I have read in years.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf-Curtis Jobling

Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf

Curtis Jobling

Viking, Sep 20 2011, $16.99

ISBN: 9780670013302

Sixteen year old twins Drew and Trent Ferran live on a farm with their parents. The siblings are close though they look nothing like brothers. The father and Trent set off for Tuckborogh to sell goods. However, while they are away for the day, a monster attacks and kills his mother even as Drew turns into a werewolf to try to save her. His dad returns home to see evidence that makes his son a killing beast. He drives the lad into the woods.

Drew is unaware that he is the only living lycanthrope as his native land Lyssia has been ethnically cleansed of his species by werelion King Leopold, who rules the Seven Realms and obviously wants him dead too. He finds allies with a wereboar Lord Hector the scholar and werefox Princess Gretchen while struggling to survive the were-assassins sent by the monarch to finish the extinction of the werewolf line.

The first Wereworld middle school fantasy is a fabulous brisk twisting coming of age quest thriller. The story line deploys the frequently used theme of the return of a young hero to fight against injustice and survive assassins but is made fresh by the shapeshifter hierarchy that make up the Seven Kingdoms. Tweeners will enjoy the Rose of the Wolf as the exiled prince returns home.

Harriet Klausner

Dearly, Departed-Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed

Lia Habel

Del Rey, Oct 18 2011, $16.99

ISBN 9780345523310

By 2195, much of the planet has been devastated by a series of catastrophes culminating in the second American Civil War nuking much of the globe; the United States remains united in total annihilation. In South America, New Victoria created a society based on the historians’ interpretation of life in Britain during the reign of the nineteenth century monarch who has been honored with the country’s name.

Sixteen year old orphan Nora Dearly is an aristocrat who prefers studying history and politics instead of galas unlike her contemporaries. However, her martinet Aunt Gene, having spent the family fortune mostly on herself, decides to marry off her niece to refurbish her coffers and return to high society to Dearly’s chagrin. However, as she pays homage to her dad who died one year and two days ago (her mom much earlier) zombies attack and kidnap her in a plot tied back to her late father. She is rescued by Punk undead Bram Griswold and his zombie unit. As Nora and Bram fall in love, each understands his time is limited as he suffers from the Lazarus syndrome that gave him a second life but quickly will leave him dead.

This is a terrific refreshing zombie post apocalypse thriller with an insightful historiographical premise while starring a delightful full blooded female and the zombie who loves her. The support cast is strong and includes Gene the mean, Nora’s BFF Pamela and the zombie horde. The latter makes the somewhat meandering story line work as some are evil while others thrive for equal rights under the law. Young adult readers will enjoy this tender tale of forbidden love at the end of this century.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Strangers-Chris Bohjalian

The Night Strangers

Chris Bohjalian

Crown, Oct 4 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307394996

The seventy seater regional jet flies out of Burlington, Vermont with forty-three passengers, three attendees and a first officer as well as pilot Chip Linton. Geese fly into the two turbines, dying while destroying both engines. As the plane descends and feeling he can not make Plattsburgh or Burlington, Chip decides to land on Lake Champlain just like the heroic landing on the Hudson. He does everything right but a massive wave caused by a ferryboat makes the plane do a somersault. Most on board died while the pilot considers suicide as he suffers from survivor’s guilt depression with the image of Dora the Explorer imprinted in his brain.

Chip’s wife Emily, an estates lawyer, decides the family needs a change so that Chip can start to heal. Thus Emily, Chip, and their twin ten year old daughters move to the White Mountains in New Hampshire where they purchased a fixer-upper Victorian. However, the house proves not to be a home as they begin to get visitors from the beyond including the father and Dora the Explorer daughter who make demands of Chip to have his children befriend the dead girl and find secret passages including a hidden crypt. Their benign welcoming neighbors have sacrificial designs on the Linton twins.

This suspenseful haunted house psychological thriller is a tense tale with a strong cast especially the Linton family, the neighbors and the ghost from the plane crash. The story line is fast-paced with a sense of impending doom. Although the Linton adults’ response to the otherworldly assault seems off kilter, readers will appreciate this scary ghost tale.

Harriet Klausner

Future King-Larry Pontius

Future King

Larry Pontius

CreateSpace, Aug 30 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781463766290

The Troubles has Great Britain reeling from fuels shortages and protests. Prime Minister Alistair Saxon demands Parliament supported by King Charles pass the Emergency Powers Act. Charles tells Saxon he opposes a dictatorship whether by committee or one, which is the first time since 1707 a monarch opposed a law passed by both Houses. Claiming to be patriots acting to save Britain, Saxon and his high ranking allies initiate Project Thunderbolt.

Royal Marines assault the King, his wife Queen Consort Camilla, his adult children and other members of the royal family. However, due to Camilla’s action, Prince Harry escapes. The rest of the family is taken to a remote island while Saxon accuses terrorists trying but failing to assassinate the King and his family; he says they are in a safe house.

University Professor Tom Warwick drives to the veterans’ home in Camelford where his father is deathly ill. Meanwhile Prince Harry enters a McDonalds which Tom’s wife Vivian manages. She recognizes him and intervenes when someone else does too. Victor Emrys Myrdden persuades her to drive them to Camelford with a stop at Glastonbury to awaken the once and future King for the confrontation.

This is an exciting twenty-first century Camelot thriller which extrapolates current trends into a nation threatening crisis that leads to the return of the High King and the wizard. The play with names adds fun, to the enjoyable story line that warns readers as Ben Franklin stated: “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Although none of the cast is very deep, fans will appreciate this entertaining take on the mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Starman Jones-Robert A. Heinlein

Starman Jones

Robert A. Heinlein

Baen, Oct 4 2011, $13.00

ISBN: 9781451637496

Max Jones would prefer to emulate his late uncle the astrogator who flew to Beta Hydrae rather than his deceased father the Ozark farmer. Still he feels obligated to work the land to keep a roof over the head of his widow Maw; but any chance he has he reads and memorizes his uncle’s astrogate texts. When Maw marries lazy Hillman Biff Montgomery, Max leaves the farm hoping to earn his way onto a space vessel though his chances are zero as that requires money or influential contacts with the Astrogators’ Guild; he has neither.

Max meets Sam who looks at the lad's astrogate books that he totes with him. Sam steals his books, but when they meet again near the Guild Hall, he helps both of them become crew on the Asgard starship. Due to his Uncle Chester, Max becomes an apprentice to the astrogator cell. The Astrogator head Dr. Hendrix suddenly dies; while another member of the cell Mr. Simes and the ship Captain Blaines blow the coordinates sending them into unknown space. Simes blames Max who had tried to intervene before the error.

This engaging reprint of a 1953 young adult science fiction thriller is an exciting outer space thriller. The crew passes the test of time as Simes for instance failed to correct the captain out of fear for his job. Max is a terrific protagonist who holds the story line together whether he goes to Chicago, flies in space, tries to save the crew with a reverse calculation or meets Eldith. Although the on board computer is ancient history with its size and limitations, sub-genre fans will be flying in space with Starman Jones.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Revisionists-Thomas Mullen

The Revisionists

Thomas Mullen

Mulholland/Little, Brown, Sep 28 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316176729

The government insures history does not repeat the mistakes of the past. Thus when agent Zed’s wife and daughter die in an accident, he is granted two months to grieve his loss. When his allowed mourning time ends, operatives arrive at his apartment to remove any hint they lived.

Zed understands the importance of prevention as his job is to insure the past happens but not repeated in the present. His current assignment is to go back in time to insure the early twenty-first century great Conflagration occurs by protecting the Events that led up to this calamity from the Revisionists time traveling historical agitator Hags who want to rewrite history. At a parking lot overlooking the Potomac he eliminates two Hags trying to prevent the abduction of a reporter. However, he soon finds himself butting heads with Leo the former CIA agent, Tasha the corporate lawyer grieving her loss, and Sari the Indonesian maid enslaved by a nasty Korean couple.

This thriller is a super tale in which the “perfect” future is protected at all costs to the past. Rather than trying to prevent the Event that shapes the future, Zed and the government protect the Events leading to the big one. Although there is stereotyping and hyperbole in the modern day, the spin on the world’s problems is fascinating as to the victors go the Revisionists history books in which the masses numbly accept as truth even when it is harmful to those individuals. Readers will appreciate the present and future converging in DC.

Harriet Klausner

Ganymede-Cherie Priest


Cherie Priest

Tor, Sep 27 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765329462

In New Orleans, brothel owner Josephine Early asks her former lover Andan Cly to pilot the Ganymede submarine to the North. Since this mission fits his prime assignment to bring needed supplies to the human Seattle underground in which zombies and gas rule the surface, Cly agrees as he tries to go a bit more legal with his endeavors.

However, Jo fails to inform the air pilot of the Naamah Darling that the ship has never been driven successfully, that the ship sits at the bottom of lake Pontchartrain, and the Texian and Confederate armies, who wait at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi, will kill to possess it. If he survives the military forces waiting for his run, Cly still has to drive the vessel that has proven to be a death trap for all his predecessors.

The latest Clockwork Century steampunk historical fantasy (see Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnought) is a great alternate Civil War thriller. Cly is a super antihero who wants to atone for his dealing in sap with the supply run though not quite going totally legal as gun running remains a lucrative activity. Loaded with action, fans will appreciate the reunion of the Union spy brothel owner and the bootlegging air pilot.

Harriet Klausner

Cast in Ruin-Michelle Sagara

Cast in Ruin

Michelle Sagara

Luna, Sep 20 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9780373803309

Elantra Hawk police Private Kaylin Neya and her peers work on resettling the Norannir in the Fief of Tiamaris while the Dragon Emperor demands a visit from her. However, after Kaylin uses her magical abilities to remove mysterious Maggaron from the shadows, she and her partner Severn are assigned an eerie mass murder investigation.

Seven female corpses have been found. They look like identical septets with each wearing the same clothing to further the image of the seven. As they investigate, Kaylin uses her Chosen powers to learn whether these are clones, doppelgangers, or natural as she fears the evil stalking the edges are trying to penetrate the fiefdom. Kaylin willingly risks her life to prevent this from happening.

The latest Chronicles of Elantra (see Cast in Chaos) is a great entry in a strong continuous sword and sorcery fantasy. The kick butt heroine is brave and loyal as she slices and dices enemies while magically and mundanely protects the people she vowed to keep safe. Fans of the series will relish this superb tale as Michelle Sagara provides another soaring suspenseful thriller in the life of Kaylin Neya.

Harriet Klausner

Dead of Night-Jonathan Maberry

Dead of Night

Jonathan Maberry

St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 25 2011, $14.99

ISBN 9780312552190

At the penitentiary in Stebbins County, Pennsylvania, the prison doctor injects a serum into convicted serial killer Homer Gibbon just before his execution. The elixir is the ultimate cruel and unusual punishment as it will keep the psychopath’s brain functioning and aware while his body rots away interred in the ground.

Following the execution, at the Hartnup’s Transition Estate, Doc Lee Hartnup is bitten by Gibbon’s corpse. At the same time, local police officers Dez Fox and JT Hammond respond to a break-in at the funeral parlor. They flee from the dead coming at them.

Meanwhile Dez’s former boyfriend reporter Billy Trout investigates a report that Gibbon’s body vanished. He soon runs into the dead ripping the living. He eludes the corpses and meets up with Dez and JT. The trio quickly concludes the reanimation disease is highly contagious and the therefore the government will deploy the National Guard to contain the bioengineered toxin with no regard to those alive inside the contamination zone.

Paying homage to George Romero, Jonathan Maberry writes an exciting zombie thriller. The cause for the epidemic is stolen Cold War research used on the psychopath Gibbon. The lead protagonists possess different personalities as they conclude they are humanity’s only hope. Although somewhat similar in blood and gore as the typical zombie thriller, Dead of Night provides freshness with a deep look at the psychological impact on the three heroes and other humans who know that no matter what actions they take inevitably there is no escape; perhaps not even death.

Harriet Klausner

Drink Deep-Chloe Neil

Drink Deep

Chloe Neil

NAL, Nov 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451234865

The vampires residing in Cadogan House are going through a rough time from without and within. Externally the mayor believes vampires are an abomination that should be ethically and ethnically cleansed from the planet. Internally, the Order has dispatched FranK Cabot of Cabot House to judge them based on whether the Cadogan clan is changing the rules.

Merit knows her performance as the Cadogan Sentinel is poor as she cannot focus on her duties since she lost the love of her life Ethan the Master of the house. One night the lakes and rivers turn black. The politicians led by the mayor blame the vampires which angers the suspicious humans. Merit discusses the crisis with the Dryads and the Siren; each insists they had nothing to do with the mess. When Lake Michigan and the other waters turn black again, the night sky turns red. The Queen of the Fairies informs Merit that an elemental magic practitioner is causing the environmental crisis. Merit knows time is running out on her investigation as the state wants the paranormal registered as documented aliens with no inalienable rights at the same time humans demand vigilante mob justice.

Urban fantasy fans will enjoy the latest fascinating Chicagoland Vampires thriller (see Twice Bitten). Using recent immigration furor as a theme, Chloe Neil provides an insightful exciting look at de facto and de jure prejudice even though most of the paranormal want either to be left alone in peace or to help mankind who despises them. Keeping the entertaining story line focused, Merit proves her fortitude as she still reels over Ethan, but pulls herself together accepting the threat to the existence of vampires and humans is tangible and she need to fix it..

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beauty Dates the Beast-Jessica Sims

Beauty Dates the Beast

Jessica Sims

Pocket, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9781439188231

Six years ago, a werewolf viciously assaulted Sara Ward. Since the bites, Sara’s sister Bathsheba protects her sibling and helps her conceal her dark secret.

Sara and Bathsheba work at Midnight Liaisons paranormal dating service. When Bathsheba replaces Rosie on a date with alpha cougar shifter Beau Russell, her boss Giselle threatens to reveal Sara’s secret unless she cooperates by dating their paranormal clients who will want her Alliance-certified virginity. When a rival pack abducts one of Beau’s females Savannah, the human virgin and the Russell alpha search for Savannah while falling in love; but remain ignorant that the victim is a pawn for an enemy who desires someone else and a betrayal from within.

Beauty Dates the Beast is a fun romantic urban fantasy as the leader of the Russell pack and head of the paranormal Alliance finds a human female who is the first person in a dozen years to ignore his orders. The fast-paced story line is loaded with action as from the moment the two B protagonists meet and never slows down until the final confrontations. With a terrific late twist, readers will appreciate Jessica Sims opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Trance-Kelly Meding


Kelly Meding

Pocket, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9781451620924

Fifteen years ago during the Meta Wars, tweener MetaHuman Teresa “Trance” West was a decent telepath assigned to the government’s Ranger Corps. However, in the battle of Central Park against Bane’s minion, she and her comrades in arms lost their powers. Ever since the loss of her superpower Teresa has done all types of work with her current job being a waitress shorted on tips in Portland, Oregon.

However, without warning her lost skill returns, but not quite the same as she has so much more abilities than before. Realizing she has too much to control, which she fears will kill her, Trance quickly rushes to a devastated Los Angeles where Rangers headquarters has been reestablished and meets her former teammates. Their adversary is an enigmatic stealer Spector, who wants the MetaHuman unit members dead before they become a formidable cohesive squad.

Paying homage to DC comic’s New Teen Titans; Kelly Meding provides an entertaining superhero vs. supervillain urban fantasy. Filled with action from the moment the young MetaHumans begin to realize their powers returned though none know why, sub-genre fans will enjoy this fun thriller starring a cast of wannabe limited developed heroes getting an unexpected second chance and a kick butt opponent in dead zoned Los Angeles.

Harriet Klausner

Scholar-L.E. Modesitt Jr.


L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Tor, Nov 8 2011, $27.99

ISBN 9780765329554

Lord Bhayar of Telaryn commissions his friend Quaeryt Rytersyn the scholar to travel to Tilbor Province conquered by the ruler’s father a decade ago. Bhayar would like to bring home some of his occupying army so he wants Quaeryt to look closely at conditions on the ground that has the leader concerned.

The journey by sea proves perilous, but Quaeryt arrives in the remote land. As a precaution, the scholar conceals his imager skills to create mental images that turn solid. He looks closely at the plight of the people in the countryside before entering the garrison. As he interrogates the officers, Quaeryt uncovers a political conspiracy to shake Bhayar’s rule and send Telaryn into a catastrophe. Not one to sit idly by, Quaeryt plans to prevent the disaster from occurring by any means necessary including assassination.

Occurring before the Imager Portfolio (see Imager, Imager's Challenge and Imager's Intrigue), the title character makes the political fantasy work as he is a serious Scholar and even more serious merciless killing machine. The power struggle has the various players including the newcomer rationalizing that the end justifies any means. The incredibly detailed realm of L.E. Modesitt Jr. is a two edged sword as the audience will believe the world exists but at a cost of slowing down the plot at times. Still the fascinating complex (perhaps schizoid) protagonist makes this a delightful thrilling read.

Harriet Klausner

Conquer the Dark-L.A. Banks

Conquer the Dark

L.A. Banks

Pocket, Sep 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451608847

Celeste Jackson recently learned her schizophrenia was not DNA driven mental illness, but instead her hallucinations are real as her gene pool makes her a Remnant angelic-human hybrid. Her guardian angel Azrael is not crazier than her as she thought between alcohol and cigarettes but a bona find angel (see Surrender the Dark).

Celeste needs a respite after battling demons including one that possessed her now dead boyfriend. However, there is no rest for the weary when Azrael’s brother Bath Kol envisions what will happen when an ancient tome containing arcane power to destroy the world vanishes from a concealed spot in an Egyptian tomb. In the wrong hands of the Fallen this means the end is now for the small angelic unit and humanity unless one of the last three hybrids Celeste can prevent the catastrophe. With Azrael as her sidekick, Celeste begins a suicide mission to retrieve the book of death.

This is superb urban fantasy with a secondary but critical romantic subplot as Azrael's attraction to his ward could cost him his wings if he follows his heart by choosing the female he loves over mankind. Readers will enjoy the second battle between angels and the remnants vs. demons as humanity’s extinction or existence depends on a recovering schizophrenic addict. Conquer the Dark affirms the incredible fantasist talent of L.A. Banks who passed away in August.

Harriet Klausner

Last Breath-Rachel Caine

Last Breath

Rachel Caine

NAL, Nov 1 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780451234872

Morganville is not a typical Texas town, but a social experiment to see whether humans and vampires can peacefully co-exist. The vampires stand at the top of the food chain; they make the rules that humans must obey. Four friends (humans Claire, Eve and Shane and the vampire Michael) room in Glass House. Eve and Michael are in love and want to marry, but their respective species violently oppose interspecies marriage.

Taking a rest from the nuptial craziness, Claire and Shane meet a vampire from a nearby town with a letter addressed to Amelie the Fouder and ruler of Morganville. Myron the mad vampire scientist takes it and tells them it says “run”. At about the same time, Claire sees a strong male who is not vampire or human. An evil long standing enemy of Amelia and her species has arrived. This thing disguised as human can easily kill a vampire. The town’s residents regardless of specie are in extreme danger as recently three vampires vanished without a trace after a visit from Magnus.

The eleventh Morganville Vampires small town fantasy (see Ghost Town) is a pulse pounding supernatural thriller that keeps readers on the edge until the Last Breath expires. Courageous Claire has risked her life before against impossible odds, but this time the adversary seems too powerful, but though human she still tries to rescue vampires from the wrath of Magnus. Shane’s perspective is narrower as he thrives to do what it takes to keep his risk-taking beloved Claire safe. Rachel Caine writes a wonderful young adult tale in which the heroes must choose fight or flight with either option most likely leading to death.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Forbidden Embers-Tessa Adams

Forbidden Embers

Tessa Adams

Heat, Oct 4 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451234704

In New Mexico, Dragonstar sentry Logan Kelly knows his clan still faces extinction though they have somewhat delayed what seems inevitable. Desperate times require despite measures so Logan comes up with a scheme to destroy his people’s enemy the Wyvermoons and find the cure to the deadly biological weapon of mass clan destruction; a virus eradicating his dragon-shifting species.

Cecily Fournier demands her clan the Wyvermoon name her their leader replacing her late father. She has opposition because she is female. Logan joins the Wyvermoons as a rogue dragon shifter. He and Cecily recognize they are soulmates, but his clan comes before his need; while her clan comes before her need.

The third Dragon’s Heat romantic desert fantasy (see Hidden Embers and Dark Embers) is an engaging tale of star-crossed love. Although Cecily seems too weak to even think of becoming clan chief, fans will enjoy Forbidden Embers as nether the heroine or the undercover shifter can afford to meet their soulmate at this time when their respective people face crisis; making the encounter worse is having an outsider as a soulmate.

Harriet Klausner

The Bite Before Christmas-Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost

The Bite Before Christmas

Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost

Morrow, Oct 25 2011, $19.99

ISBN: 9780062014078

“The Gift” by Lynsay Sands. Port Henry Police Chef Teddy Brunswick is snowed in without electricity at Marguerite Argeneau’s isolated Colorado cabin. He cannot escape as downed trees block the road and his truck is frozen. Next door is Katricia Argeneau who tells him she has food while he has a fire in the fireplace. Tricia is excited as she cannot read her fellow stranded traveler, which means that Marguerite is probably right that the man who looks like her grandfather is her life mate. She tells him she is in law enforcement as a Council Enforcer in New York and that Marguerite is her aunt; he knows what she is but is unsure what he is to her.

“Home for the Holidays” by Jeaniene Frost. Cat arranges a surprise birthday party for her beloved husband Bones the vampire. Fabian the ghost, Spade, Ian, Mancheres, Denise and Kira arrive, but Annette fails to show up. Ian goes to see why. Blood is everywhere and Annette looks like she was tortured but refuses to say by who in spite of her sire Bones demanding she does. Bones catches a vampire in the woods; he says he is his half-brother Wraith. Ian distrusts Wraith while Cat has doubts too. After a few hours, Cat decides to kill Wraith in order to save her beloved who acts as if he is entranced. She obtains help from Ian and Denise, also affected by Wraith.

With strong casts, these are two thrilling vampire romances that are part of each author’s respective series (Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau saga and Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress saga).

Harriet Klausner

When the Saints-David Duncan

When the Saints

David Duncan

Tor, Nov 8 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765323484

The death of Brother Marek, a monk at the Benedictine Monastery in Koupel, angers his Magnus siblings. Baron Ottokar of Dobkov, Knight Vladislav, Count Anton of Cardice, and Wulfgang the Speaker come together to defend their family castle in Cardice from the assault of the militarily superior forces of Count of Pelrelm Havel “Hound of the Hills” Vranov, his Speaker ties and allegedly his Wends ally Pomerania Duke Warislaw.

The Magnus clan cannot win unless Wulfgang uses the magic banned by the Church except under their control. If Wulf deploys the otherworldly talent he possesses, the Church in the guise of Bishop Ugne of Cardice will most likely proclaim the youngest Magnus a heretic, using demon saints without prior sanctioning. The family knows their enemy will use the chaotic supernatural wild cards to ensure victory and ask then humbly to forgive them after their victory. If he does not use his skill, he risks more than just his life and soul, and his family; as also at stake is the safety of his beloved Madlenka Bukovany, hand-fasted to his brother the count of Cardice.

The excellent Renaissance Era paranormal thriller follow-up to Speak to the Devil is a superb tale that focuses on the division caused by magic with some insisting it is blessed by the saintly sources; while others claim its evil sin derived from Satan. Well written, readers will feel they are inside Cardice in the Duncan realm observing the dilemmas facing Wulf and his family if he uses his Speaker skills. When the Saints is a strong, exciting, and enthralling historical fantasy.

Harriet Klausner