Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shadow Raiders-Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

Shadow Raiders
Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes
Daw, May 3 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756406622

On the world of Aeronne, the Kingdoms of Rosia and Freya have been enemies for centuries. Both nations have engaged in arms race as each tries to produce a more powerful weapon to topple their adversary. Freyian patriot master spy Sir Henry Wallace believes he has the means to defeat Rosia. A Journeyman knows how to merge magic into metal, which makes the alloy impenetrable by artillery. Sir Henry goes to Rosia to bring the Journeyman and his family to Freya.

Lord Captain Stephano de Guichen detests his powerful mother who is the advisor to King Alaric of Rosia. The Counte Cecille de Morjolaine orders her son to find a missing Journeyman who was experimenting on a new weapon when he vanished. She thinks Sir Henry kidnapped him. Stephan and his friends the Cadre of the Lost follow Sir Henry’s trail and meet up with Father Jacob of the dreaded Arcanium and the godfather he never met, Sir Arder Martel is a knight protector to the priest. They join forces at the Abbey of Saint Agness where one hundred nuns were massacred. Demon riders attack them, but they use counter magic to eliminate the horde.

Also seeking Sir Henry is Grand Bishop Girard who has Agent Dubois searching for the master spy and the Journeyman he escorts. Dubois knows he must prevent Sir Henry and his retinue from reaching Freya as all parties converge on Westfirth.

Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes have written a grand epic fantasy reminiscent of the early Shanarra books. Magic is emboldened in objects and large percentages of the populace can use it. Readers will feel they are visiting another world mindful of the English French medieval war period; but also filled with paranormal creatures; some are allies of mankind while a few are indifferent and the rest are belligerent. The key characters are fully developed, but most important is the magic of the first Dragon Brigade saga seems real.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bite Club-Rachel Caine

Bite Club
Rachel Caine
NAL, May 3 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780451233189

In Morganville, Vassily the vampire opens up a new gym offering a class in self-defense to humans. Shane likes the idea of beating the crap out of vampires; that is if they have crap as he detests the undead though ironically his best friend is Michael the vampire.

After a few lessons, over the objection of his girlfriend Claire, Shane joins an underground extreme fight club in which humans and vamps will participate. However, someone tapes the fights and places them on the Internet. Soon afterward Michael and Shane vanish leaving it up to Claire and their fourth housemate Eve to find and rescue them, but from what.

The tenth Morganville Vampire urban fantasy (see Ghost Town) is a brisk fresh entry due to Shane playing a major second fiddle role enabling fans to learn what makes him tick. The story line is fast-paced as underground fighting has come to this unique Texas town. Blood will flow but how much and how deadly is to be read as Rachel Caine provides a wonderful extrapolation of contemporary issues facing teens like joining the Fight Club, to MIT or not to MIT, and a taboo cross-species relationship in this super urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Hard Bitten-Chloe Neill

Hard Bitten
Chloe Neill
NAL, May 3 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451233325

As anti-vampire protesters picket Cadogen House, three women go missing. Chicago Mayor Tate warns Master vampire Ethan Sullivan head of the Cadogen House that he will go to jail or worse if he fails to catch and hand over the serial killer of humans. Ethan assigns his young Sentinel Merit to investigate the homicides.

To keep her master from spending time in prison, Merit and the underground vampires team up to find the killer. However, Merit knows she must watch her back with the underground who have their own objectives. She is unprepared as to the direction the clues lead at the same time humans demand she and her associates mind their own business or else.

The fourth Chicagoland Vampires (see Twice Bitten and Friday Night Bites) is an exhilarating entry as the lead vamps and the Mayor face difficult issues. The story line is fast-paced with a sort of amateur sleuth feel to the plot as the heroine explores the human and paranormal species links while hot heads from both sides want her staked. With a great stunning late twist Chloe Neill continues to rock the urban fantasy sub-genre with her strong thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

Spellcast-Barbara Ashford

Barbara Ashford
Daw, May 3 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780756406820

Following losing her job and the ceiling plaster in her New York apartment caving in, Maggie Graham decides to spend a weekend in Vermont to get away before regrouping. When she learns of summer stock roles performing at the Crossroads Theatre in a barn just outside Dale, Maggie shocks herself and decides to audition. She is further stunned when she obtains roles in three shows.

Maggie muses how she has come full circle; having left the stage years ago only to return. She finds the troupe odd yet endearing. However, Maggie is most disturbed by director Rowan Mackenzie, who she has never seen leave the Crossroads Theater and never casts a person in the role they plan to try out for; instead he somehow knows what the person needs to perform on stage and in life.

Maggie keeps this wonderful whimsical witty tale focused as her past (she feels she failed professionally and personally) has impacted her present belief she is a loser and how she feels about her lack of a future. The theater proves healing and mesmerizing as it casts a spell on Maggie (and the audience). The otherworldly elements subtly enhance Barbara Ashford’s tender look at a second chance at making dreams real.

Harriet Klausner

The Lens and the Looker -Lory S Kaufman

The Lens and the Looker
Lory S Kaufman
The Fiction Studio, Mar 16 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781936558025

By the twenty-fourth century, humanity has come a long way from the brink of extinction due to AIs creating a better world. One particular improvement to foster better citizenship is the History Camps, where the young are sent to learn from past mistakes during a realistic reenactment.

In 2347 CE in the New York Community, rebellious teen Hansum scores a 0 on a test so the school’s Dean Turkenshaw decides enough nonsense and enrolls the seventeen year old student for a two week session at the Deep-Immersion History Camp, which means his communication implant is removed to isolate him. Hansum looks forward to the lesson he plans to provide the enactors.

Hansum, fifteen year old Shamira and fourteen year old Lincoln arrive in 1347 Verona. The boys are apprentices to a lens-maker while the girl is assigned kitchen duty. The trio pretends to behave until the end. When the truth about the recalcitrant threesome surfaces, they are sent to Arimus who escorts them to the real 1347 Verona where they will behave or face real punishment.

The first Verona science fiction story is a terrific thought provoking tale as the History Camps are the futuristic boot camps to make recalcitrant students behave. The three teens are strong leads who just want to have fun their way in a society that has different expectations. The premise of learning from history’s mistakes with lens-making and cooking was never clear how that teaches life lessons as the time in the community and the camp was relatively limited. Still The Lens and the Looker is a super opening act that hopefully contains more events in the future at the Community and at the Camp.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught -Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught
Jack Campbell
Ace, Apr 26 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9780441020379

The war is over and the Alliance won thanks mostly due to the strong military leadership of Admiral John "Black Jack" Geary (see six books of The Lost Fleet Syndicate Worlds war). As his reward, the popular officer is assigned command and control of the newly commissioned First Fleet.

However, the Alliance political leaders who were grateful to Geary for the tough war decisions do not want a popular war hero hanging amongst them. They order Geary and his First Fleet to enter into the far rim of Syndic space allegedly to investigate alien occupation. Geary understands though the combat with the Syndicate Worlds is over with the enemy shattered, entering the deepest sector is suicide. Making the mission even more perilous is his unit has been supplied with inferior equipment and orders that stifle accomplishment while increasing risk.

With a great space rotation, The Lost Fleet turns from military science fiction to Star Trekking Beyond the Frontier. The story line is as always faster than the speed of light as hostilities remain extremely high even with the war over; as Black Jack’s previous political supporters want him out of town. Jack Campbell creates a terrific unexpected spin to his great outer space saga as the formerly Lost Fleet now The First Fleet is sent by armchair leaders to die.

Harriet Klausner

Skeleton Crew-Cameron Haley

Skeleton Crew
Cameron Haley
Luna, Apr 19 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780373803262

Los Angeles street smart and kick butt tough Domino Riley continues to serve as the lieutenant to six millennia old Sumerian gang boss Shanar Rashan having faced several paranormal Mob Rule challenges to her position (see Mob Rule and Retribution in the Harvest Moon anthology). However, even she is unprepared for the zombie horde that appears ready to dominate Southern California. To prevent L.A. from becoming Zombieland, Domino needs to rescue the sacred dogs who carry souls to the other side.

In her way and that of her team are demons who prefer the old order overturned with chaos as only zombies can do. Besides dealing with zombies, demons, and some unmentionables, Domino also must look inside her heart to how deeply she feels about her attraction to her employer’s son Adan.

The latest Underworld Cycle urban fantasy is an entertaining often jocular story mostly due to the hard-boiled heroine whose only soft spot is Adan; a feeling she feels ranks not much above the flu as she seeks resistance to the love bug. The cast is very powerful and Cameron Haley’s vision of Los Angeles is superb as this feminist Noir makes the thin plot fun for sub-genre fans who will enjoy Domino and her odd team battle a Skeleton Crew (and a few other evil dudes).

Harriet Klausner

The Council of Shadows-S.M. Stirling

The Council of Shadows
S.M. Stirling
Roc, May 3 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780451463937

They are creatures of myths and legends: beingss who drink blood; rhose who shift shape; and sorcerers who use magic to control people and the environment. They are Homo Nocturnis Shadowspawn hominids who are not human as they contain genes that enable them to use the energy powers of the universe. Their source is science not magic and once the Empire of Shadow in prehistorical times ruled mankind. Over the eons, their bloodline wasdiluted by mating with the humans and now they rule in the shadows, working behind the scenes to control people and events.

The Council of Shadows want to come out in the open and believe they can accomplish this by killing about half the human population in what they declare Operation Trimback. The Council will decide how when all the Shadowspawn meet in Tbilisi. Shadowspawn Adrian Brézé and his human wife along with the rebel group the Brotherhood want to prevent the pandemic species cleansing. He will soon be taken aback to learn who is leading the death squads as that person is as powerful as Adrian is, but also sinister as collateral damage even among the Shadowspawn is an acceptable price and has traitors supporting the endeavor.

Ellen and Adrian are in love, but while she lacks enough genetic material to tap into the Shadowspawn energy, he treats her as his equal. The middle book contains less action than its predecessor (see A Taint in the Blood) as the entreating story line digs deeper into the psyche of individuals and the group dynamics of the Council and the Brotherhood. Urban fantasy readers will appreciate S.M. Stirling’s enjoyable urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 28, 2011

Retribution Falls-Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls
Chris Wooding
Spectra, Apr 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN 9780345522511

In Vardia, Darian Frey is captain and solo driver of the Ketty Jay. He works closely with freebooters. However, his quasi-legal world crashes when a robbery in the air leaves someone dead. He is accused of the murder as well as piracy by law enforcement.

Frey knows he must flee before the authorities Century Knights, bounty hunters or a nasty ex Trinica Dracken catches him; the latter being the most dangerous threat. Because his crew is ruthless and sleazy with each out to take care of only number one (as does the captain), he distrusts them but needs their support. They were loyal to him only due to the fact he owns and steers the aerium-fueled aircraft they use in their heists. He needs to keep track of each of them because he believes at least one of them sold him and his team out, but who and to whom remains nebulous. Beleaguered Frey considers the daemonist accompanied by his golem, the new recruit and the alcoholic doc as the most likely suspects because the frame takes intelligence and contacts.

From the opening Russian Roulette scene until the final confrontation, this is a fun steampunk fantasy. Frey and the key secondary characters are developed over the course of the entertaining story line. Although the plot at times slows down under the weight of the vivid background, sub-genre fans will enjoy riding the Ketty Jay.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Born of Shadows-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Born of Shadows
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Grand Central, Apr 26 2011, $21.99
ISBN: 9780446573252

Caillen watched his father a smuggler killed. He takes his responsibility as the man of the house seriously though he wants to strangle his pain in the butt demanding sisters. He is elated that Sharhara and his friend Syn are married (see Born of Fire), but wants to kill Kasen, whose activities have left Caillen on the verge of execution.

However, he is saved when the court realizes he is the kidnapped son of Emperor Evzen. Caillen struggles with being a Prince and adjusting to a new royal family. However, he has little time to learn as someone tries to assassinate his biological father.

Royal Guard Desideria Denarii, daughter of Qillag Queen Sarra, has pledged to keep her mother safe from assassins. A murder attempt on her mom leaves her and Caillen trapped on an enemy’s planet with both their empires in trouble from coups.

The latest Born of League outer space thriller (see Born of Ice) is loaded with action, intrigue, action, romance and more action as assassins seem everywhere. The lead couple makes the exhilarating adventure work beyond being a space opera survival quest as each is fully developed and brings pathos to their relationship. Readers will enjoy touring the Kenyon League cosmos escorted by two royal guides.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Chaser-Alexey Pehov

Shadow Chaser
Alexey Pehov
Tor, Apr 12 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765324047

Shadow Harold and his team are trying to understand what it means for him to be the destined Dancer in the Shadows as they seek the horn to save their land from the horrific Nameless One Dark Lord. They trek towards Hrad Spein, an impregnable place that no army, even that of wizards let alone a small impoverish cell, has breached. If they reach the dark underground palace and are able to enter only Shadow Harold can complete the journey.

While they march forward, frightening adversaries pursue them. Besides The Nameless One, another Dark Lord the Master also wants to gain access to the legendary grim tomb. Their respective hordes give chase. As the Shadows leave behind fallen comrades they fight for their lives against nasty ogre, elves, the Dark One’s minion, and a worse malevolence with extraordinary power.

The second Chronicles of Siala (see Shadow Prowler) is an enjoyable quest fantasy that uses humor to diffuse the heart of battle. The story line is at its best at the moments the tension is high; for instance when a teammate dies. The jocularity fails to translate very well (assuming it works in Russian) and only slows down an otherwise fine thriller held together by the beleaguered Shadow Harold.

Harriet Klausner

Burn Down The Sky-James Jaros

Burn Down The Sky
James Jaros
Harper, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062016300

When humanity failed to heed the cries from an injured earth, as the avaricious power brokers chose more gizmos, and politicians ignored the climate warning signs, the planet started to die. The oceans rose dramatically as the ice caps melted. Then the oceans dried up leading to a vast desert planet with little rain anywhere. The spiral into hell on earth continued when the Wicca virus prevented females one year after their first period from having sex. Most went insane or chose suicide. The most valuable commodity in the world is a female who has not had her first menses.

Marauders attack the compound where Jessie, her husband Eden and their two young daughters (Bliss and Ananda) reside. They abduct Ananda and sell her to the Army of God cult. Leader Zekiel claims Ananda, who fights him and tries to help others; though that could mean being declared a heretic. Jessie and others including Bliss join another group heading for a confrontation with the Army of God in order to rescue their female young ones. However, the maurader’s’ leader is captured, but gives them information that will either enable the rescue of their children or die in the attempt.

This grim fascinating futuristic thriller extrapolates present global trends to make a case that the reckoning point of no return for planet earth is soon. The Army of God belongs to an Alliance sharing the same values. The descendants of the deniers who prevented the changes needed to stop climate change are killed and cannibal-rapists are a danger to normal people. Even if Jessica and her team rescue Ananda, they will still have to watch their back as others will come. In what looks like the opening act in humanity’s final drama, readers will appreciate James Jaros’ bleak cautionary tale as Zager and Evans sang in 2525” “… Now man’s reign is through”.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Navarro’s Promise-Lora Leigh

Navarro’s Promise
Lora Leigh
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425239780

Human Mica Toler has lived amongst Breeds for a long time with her BFF being Breed Cassie Sinclair. Mica is especially attracted to Wolf enforcer Navarro Blaine, as she has since she was a teen; however, he fails to reciprocate her desire.

Insane scientist Phillip Brandenmore escapes from his incarceration. At the same time he breaks out of his cell, his cronies try to kidnap the more vulnerable Mica in an attempt to use her as an expendable pawn to get to her best friend equally alone Cassie Sinclair. Mica escapes while an upset Navarro comes for his mate as he no longer denies his feelings. They travel to Sanctuary, but Navarro does not show the marks of a bonded mated Breed, which means Mica’s hear, will be broken.

The latest Breeds romantic urban fantasy takes an intriguing twist as Navarro seems to have broken one of the prime genetic concepts of the species in which you cannot resist the lure of your bond mate. Fast-paced with other twists including an ironic one involving Brandenmore getting what he wished for. However, Lora Leigh refreshes her saga by shaking up the Breeds world with her latest aloof hero who appears to be able to ignore his mate.

Harriet Klausner

Mona Lisa Eclipsing-Sunny

Mona Lisa Eclipsing
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238943

Only a few months have passed since Mona Lisa went from living in Manhattan among humans to learning she was a hybrid Monere. She has since become the Louisiana Queen with a major circle of influence including five male lovers due to her respect for others rather than the contempt her peers display. Mona Lisa has also been to hell and back (see Mona Lisa Darkening)

However she feels she erred when she sent her beloved cursed Dante Morell away though Mona Lisa is aware of their ancestral link (see Mona Lisa Craving) and their shared grief over her miscarriage. Since he was last seen in Cozumel, Mexico she heads there to bring him home. The mission goes wrong and she loses her memory of who she is and why she is there. Roberto the were-jaguar with some Monere blood meets Mona Lisa. He takes advantage of the amnesiac Monere queen.

Mona Lisa Eclipsing is a strong erotic urban fantasy thriller as the heroine has to relearn her Monere Children of the Moon heritage for the second time; but affirms a Yogism that her reeducation is easier due to “deja vu all over again.” The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Louisiana Queen goes to Mexico and never slows down as readers anticipate what will happen if she remembers all.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blood Sin-Marie Treanor

Blood Sin
Marie Treanor
NAL, Apr 5 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451232311

Scottish graduate student Elizabeth Silk struggles with what she caused in Dmitriu, Romania .while researching the legend of vampires. She accidently released Prince Saloman an ancient vampire (see Blood on Silk). They are attracted to one another and he is bound to her for freeing him, but Elizabeth also has learned that inside her arteries and veins, blood of vampire hunters flow; including her ancestor who “killed” Saloman.

However, his ancient sword becomes the heart of a blood bath between vampires and humans, as both sides want possession. While he refuses to allow either side to have the sword as he knows how vicious both species can be when in possession of power; Elizabeth trusts her beloved to do the right thing while she is pressured to choose sides.

The second An Awakened By Blood urban fantasy is an exciting action packed tale starring two engaging natural enemies in love. The story line starts slow, but accelerates once the Grand Master of the American order of Vampire Hunters makes his move and never looks back. With a fabulous twist and an aperient eternal set up for the next entry, sub-genre fans will enjoy Blood Sin wondering whether the Vampire Hunter will adhere to her DNA or her love.

Harriet Klausner

The Woodcutter-Kate Danley

The Woodcutter
Kate Danley
CreateSpace, Oct 10 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781453876145

The Woodcutter patrols the woody expanse between the Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of Faerie. While performing his duty, he comes across the corpse of a pretty teenage female stranger. Putting down his axe, he searches for her death wound, but finds none. He concludes her spirit fled her body due to immense fear. He ponders what could have been so scary that it frightened the girl to death. He informs his dear Wife he must leave.

The Woodcutter begins his investigation learning the victim was Cinderella and the predator was an escaped from the Wild Hunt hellhound of Odin. He must capture and return the hellhound to the Wild Hunt pack before other innocents die. However this simple journey turns into a harrowing experience due to evil wanting to foster malevolence in all realms so that they can rule as the Gentleman and the Queen; yet he also meets caring folks assisting him on his mission.

The Woodcutter is a fantastic dark fantasy that turns classic fairy tales upside down in a serious quest thriller (the diametrically opposite tone form Shrek). Starting with the King of the Golden River and visits with other fairy tales, the Woodcutter cuts quite a heroic stoic path as he follows the deadly trail of a dangerous beast. Readers will enjoy trekking with the hero as Kate Danley provides an entertaining engaging thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Department 19-Will Hill

Department 19
Will Hill
Razorbill (Penguin), Mar 19 2011, $17.00
ISBN: 9781595144065

In 2007 in Kent, England, fourteen years old Jamie Carpenter and his mom Marie watched from inside his family house as his father Julian steps outside with a gun in hand only to be shot to death on the front lawn. Soon afterward the police informed stunned mother and son that Julian was caught selling highly classified information to a terrorist cell. The mail starts to arrive informing the pair that a family with a traitor is unwanted. They moved three times in two years.

The terror begins when pretty Larissa prepares to take Jamie but could not do it. He races home to find his mom missing and Alexandru with razorblade teeth coming for him when a giant Frankenstein saves the teen’s life. The “Monster” brings Jamie to the government’s extremely classified Department 19; the only unit without a title. He learns that over a hundred years ago Abraham Van Helsing and his team of survivors formed the cell to police the supernatural. Europe’s most powerful vampire since Dracula has captured Marie. Frank and Larissa join Jamie on a quest to find his mom.

Department 19 is a great urban and historical fantasy as the exciting story line rotates between the Department’s past escapades across Europe starting with that late Victorian war in Transylvania and London against Dracula and the young hero’s quest. Both subplots are well written while filled with suspense that grips the reader from the moment Julian is killed. Teens of all ages will relish Jamie’s run as Frank mentors him and Larissa keeps switching from wanting a bite of him to needing protecting him as readers will wonder whose side is she on.

Harriet Klausner

The Map Across Time-C.S. Lakin

The Map Across Time
C.S. Lakin
Living Ink Books, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780899578897

In Sherbourne, heartbroken siblings Adin and Aletha are saying their final goodbyes to their dying loving mother, the queen. She gives her beloved children lockets containing a message in the ancient language that “Love is as strong as death”. The queen depends on Reya the nurse to love her children and to guide them as she knows she cannot rely on her spouse. While his wife dies, the cold king, who despises his cripple son, loses himself due to the avaricious and fawning of his councilors. Sherbourne is in trouble of imploding due to royal neglect and greed.

The young prince and princess know the saving of the Kingdom of Sherbourne is up to them. Heeding the mentoring of Reya, the regal pair obtains the magical Map Across Time guiding them to Sherbourne’s past. There to save their present, Adin and Aletha must believe in the ancient truths and bring them back across time.

Adin sums up this terrific allegorical drama when he muses about Heaven selecting the weak to achieve improbable great accomplishments. Thus it is the innocent who is the only hope to save a kingdom from the greed of their father. High school and older readers will relish this terrific tale filled with references from the Old Testament as two young siblings heroically set out to rescue their beloved people on an impossible quest.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Black Halo-Sam Sykes

Black Halo
Sam Sykes
PYR, Mar 22 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143558

Lenk the Swordsman and his dysfunctional band of mercenaries (Kataria, Dreadaleon, Denaos, Asper and Gariath) succeeded in retrieving the Tome of the Undergates. They now sail for home to insure the Kraken Queen Ulbecetonth cannot obtain the dangerous relic by giving it to their current employer Miron for safekeeping. As the sea voyage takes forever, tension between the former six allies goes stratospheric. Thus, when disaster strikes as an Akaneed attacks their ship, each reaches land on their own.

On a seemingly deserted island, the six are separated and apparently stranded. Each is unsure they want to team up again with the others though logically they know that is the only way to go home. Even when they see the eerie remains of war dead and encounter a philosophy spouting monkey, the obstinate teammates fail to unite.

The second Aeons’ Gate quest fantasy is an enjoyable tale due to the split up of the gang of six, which is not shocking, as they despised each other even fore they set off on their previous adventure (see Tome of the Undergates); close quarters at sea enhanced this loathing. Thus readers get to know watch of the sextet that much more as for a while they have solo escapades. Although the overarching theme feels as if it has been detoured, Black Halo is an entertaining thriller in which sub-genre readers will relish taking the roundabout way home with this argumentative six.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal with a Kiss-Jacqueline Lepore

Immortal with a Kiss
Jacqueline Lepore
Avon, Mar 8 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061878152

In 1862 Sebastian Dulwich asks his friend Emma Andrews, a vampire hunting Dhampir, to leave Copenhagen where she is studying the information on her undead enemies to head to the Lake District because an evil predator is attacking students at the same girls' school Blackbrier School for girls that her mother attended. She assumes she will hunt a vampire while she knows she will seek clues to her heritage.

Emma arrives and interviews the “coven girls”. She comes away from her interrogations with the conclusion a vampire has mesmerized the coeds and will soon dine on them if not stopped. However, as she digs deeper with the support of her comrades (Sebastian, Father Luke and Valerian Fox) Emma and her loyal teammates learn of a malevolence who she fears is the ancient dark Goddess Cyprian Queen.

The second Emma Victorian vampire gothic (see Descent Into Dust) is a terrific entry as the reader learns more about the heroine’s roots inside an exciting thriller in which the era comes alive through the strict code of conduct at the school. Ironically the audience knows who the villain is even with the predator pretending to be a sheep hiding amidst the herd. Although the climax seems a bit rushed, fans will enjoy this engaging historical horror fantasy due to courageous Emma fun investigation into the realm of the bloodsuckers.

Harriet Klausner

The Iron Queen-Julie Kagawa

The Iron Queen
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen, Jan 25 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210183

Almost seventeen Meghan Chase may have defeated the Iron King Machina Meghan but as a half-breed most of the Fey want her to return permanently to the human realm rather remain in the Seelie Summer Court of her father King Oberon. The Fey get their wish when she is banished from Nevernever for refusing to give up her lover Prince Ash of the Unseelie Winter Court. He joins her in exile though she worries about his adapting to the mortal plane while she considers whether to attend ITT after her adventures in wonderland.

At what she considered her former home before her banishment, the Iron Spider Hags attack them while Robin “Puck” Goodfellow joins them since he has been exiled too due to wanting to visit his friends. Soon after the reunion, her sire and Queen Mab demand the star-crossed lovers return to Nevernever as the threat from the Iron King has reached a distinct point of annihilation of the Fey. They want Megan to kill their enemy and defeat his horde before the Fey become extinct.

The third Iron Fey fantasy (see The Iron King and The Iron Daughter) is a terrific entry in which the overarching theme moves forward at the same that the audience learns much more as to what make each of the key lead trio ticks while the overarching theme moves forward. Once again the key player is Meghan who is getting an education on Fey politics, family and love as she is bright back to the court that banished her in ought to battle an enemy in mortal combat.

Harriet Klausner

Flesh Eaters-Joe McKinney

Flesh Eaters
Joe McKinney
Pinnacle, Apr 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9780786023608

First there was Rita; followed by Ike. Both were Category Five leaving a battered Houston barely surviving. Now a third Category Five hurricane Hector slams into the city followed by another even bigger storm Kyle. A secondary tidal wave hammered the city devastating chemical and oil containers. The dead were pushed by the contaminated rushing waters inland as far as forty-five miles from the city. Hurricane Mardel left the city underwater and the coastline moved several miles inland.

As the crisis turned pandemic, people showed their true colors including the Nortons and the Shaws. Houston is a dead zone and the Shaws dynamite an underwater bank and take seven million dollars. Eleanor, Jon and their teenage daughter Madison want to just leave the city. One thing prevents the family from escaping Houston: zombies. The toxic soup created a necrosis virus that is a big brother to Ebola. The creatures are cannibals who neither talk nor think. With their strange eyes they hunt humans to kill and multiply the new species who own the Gulf coast Texas.

Joe McKinney provides a scary prequel to Dead City and Apocalypse of the Dead as a series of hurricanes (ignoring the alpha order) devastate Houston leading to a zombie infestation. Filled with plenty filled of action, readers will enjoy the depth of the tale as the Norton brood try to survive.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf-Molly Harper

The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf
Molly Harper
Pocket, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439195871

Near Grundy, Alaska, the local werewolf pack enjoys howling at the moon. However, they wisely know to hide their instincts from the nearby human population.

Researcher Nick Thatcher comes to Grundy to investigate rumors of werewolf activity in the area. Pack alpha Maggie Graham knows how important it is to hide their existence from that other species is so decides she must run the outsider out of the Grundy vicinity. She decides to take a butt bite to drive him away as she has enough on her paws preventing a war with a rival pack. However, Nick has a new more important reason for remaining in Grundy; he is cultivating The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf.

The second Naked Werewolf Alaskan romantic fantasy (see How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf) is an engaging tale with the freshness coming from the wise female Alpha who can kick male butt (human and werewolf). The story line is fast-paced as Maggie knows the timing of finding her mate, albeit a purebred human, is terrible as she has to deal with Alpha Clay and his pack invading her turf. Fans will enjoy the beat researcher and the alpha pack leader falling in love in the Last frontier.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon and the Succubus-Cassie Ryan

The Demon and the Succubus
Cassie Ryan
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425239063

Amalya the succubus works successfully as an escort at the Sinners Redemption brothel in Nevada. Her job enables Amalya to feed and provide pleasure while, like her three sisters, pay off her debt to Queen Lilith.

Semiazas the demon escapes with one thought on his mind: revenge against the four Succubi. Queen Lilith hires Duke Levi Spencer to protect Amalya from the enraged demon who dispatched two of his vicious bounty demons, Pestilence and famine, to attack her. Levi knows he is part demon on his mother’s side, but wonders if his paternal roots are angel or human. He accepted Lilith’s deal to protect Amalya in exchange for the Queen providing him information re his sire. However, an instant attraction stuns both of them even as they begin to realize Semiazas has a bigger scheme than attacking the succubae; a scheme to destroy humanity.

The second Sisters of Darkness erotic romantic fantasy is an exciting tale due to the romantic subplot taking a backseat to the danger lurking throughout the Ryan universe of heaven, hell and points in between; just like in Jezebeth’s tale, Seducing the Succubus. The lead couple is a solid pairing while strong support characters like Jethro add depth to the perils confronting Amalya and Levi. Readers will relish Amalya’s adventures as the demons keep on attacking.

Harriet Klausner

Haunting Desire-Erin Quinn

Haunting Desire
Erin Quinn
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238950

Seven years ago her mother died in a car accident, but the body was never found; her grave site in Ireland empty. Seeking closure Shealy O’Leary wants to come from Phoenix to visit the grave site though her father has a fit insisting it is unsafe for her to return to Ireland. As they argue, a man attacks her and her father. Almost immediately after a giant and a teen boy suddenly appear and her father vanishes.

The arcane Book of Fennore sent Shealy O’Leary and her father into an ancient mystical land. Fennore is a cursed place unsafe for either O’Leary. Separated, she must learn to use her innate sacred force that remained dormant until now in order to save her father from the likes of The Druid who wants to possess her power. She finds an ally in Tianan the Warrior as his enemy the Druid who cursed him is hers though his companion has doubts about her. Having failed his people, he sees the beautiful frightened female from the future as a chance to regain his honor if she believes in herself and her power. Neither expected love to come before trust.

The latest Haunting romantic fantasy (see Haunting Beauty and Haunting Warrior) is a wonderful tale that hooks readers from the onset as Shealy knows this isn’t Arizona anymore. Although the lead coupling of a contemporary and an ancient Celtic has been used before including this series, sub-genre fans will enjoy visiting Fennore as Erin Quinn provides a fast-paced time travel tale.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Dragon-Annette Blair

Vampire Dragon
Annette Blair
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425240526

The Roman legionnaires were fighting when Killian the crone of Chaos cursed them; changing them into dragons and propelling them into an alternate reality on the Island of Stars. They have waited for centuries to come home as humans. Two millennia after the banishment spell they finally gain a chance due to Killian's enemy Andra who enables one at a time to return to Earth as a human in search of his soulmate.

Darkwyn Dragonelli arrives on earth after entering the mist. He is euphorically shocked to see her as he manifests nude at Bronte’s club in Salem a hangout for vampires, undead hopefuls and tourists. Bronte’s friend Vivica the dragon liaison manages to keep her friend from calling the cops. Struggling to adapt, Darkwyn gets a position as a vampire master at Bronte’s club. He becomes close to his soulmate’s son Zachary and has hopes Bronte will know they belong together. However she has dark secrets and enemies while he has a crone insuring he fails.

The third Words Like Magic urban romantic fantasy is a terrific often amusing thriller as Darkwyn struggles to adapt to an earth much different from the one he was exiled from and to persuade Bronte they belong together. Because the Blair mythos is extremely complicated, newcomers should start at the beginning with Naked Dragon and Bedeviled Angel. The new readers will agree with fans that, even though the tone is similar to the Beauty and the taming of the Beast theme of its predecessors, that Darkwyn’s efforts to save his soul though love is a terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vampire Mine-Kerrelyn Sparks

Vampire Mine
Kerrelyn Sparks
Avon, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061958045

As he nears five hundred years old, vampire Connor Buchanan feels depressed. His work as a bodyguard to the Draganesti family is the only reason he has for living. He knows his problem is he does not care about anyone except the brood he keeps safe, but has no cure for the vampire blues.

Connor rescues exiled Marielle the angel condemned to mortality after being kicked out of heaven. The Banished One caused the death of a vampire under Connor’s protection so she must pay the price even if it was an accident. However, Connor and Father Andrew think the Fallen Angel can help the vampires. Marielle falls in love with her vampiric protector even as she feels divided and confused as she also wants to return to Heaven.

The latest Love At Stakes (see Eat, Pray, Love) takes an intriguing spin as the Sparks mythos expands with a Banished Angel falling into the Draganesti brood; as readers know where angels tread, demons follow. Besides the fresh romance, the overarching theme moves forward as the fight continues with some characters making their final live appearance. Vampire Mine is a strong urban romantic fantasy with a brisk new spark to the saga.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mercy Burns-Keri Arthur

Mercy Burns
Keri Arthur
Dell, Apr 19 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440245704

Mercy Reynolds trusts few people as she knows firsthand how treacherous others are especially towards a “Draman”. Recently, the half air dragon’s single digits were reduced by one when her best friend purebred sea dragon Rainey was murdered in a car incident in which Mercy was a passenger. Her BFF’s homicide is hard enough for Mercy to accept, but the death precluded the rituals needed to enable Rainey to move on as dragons dead at sunrise without the ritual cannot. Mercy knows that if she can find and bring the killers to justice she can perform the rituals for Rainey to pass; five days left and counting to achieve the impossible San Francisco mission.

Damon Ray is trying to do his job of killing rogue purebreds and dramon dragons who break the law. His current assignment has humiliatingly a draman helping him. However, worse is he is attracted to the half-breed while she refuses to back off as she is on a mercy mission for her beloved late buddy.

While Riley Jenson takes a deserved respite, Keri Arthur writes an engaging investigative romantic urban fantasy. Mercy is a terrific heroine whose objective is not vengeance but the purity of enabling her friend to move beyond this realm. Damon is more hard boiled even with his attraction as the audience will relish this paranormal tour of the streets of San Francisco in the second Myth and Magic thriller (see Destiny Kills).

Harriet Klausner

The Trigger-Hon Hoh

The Trigger
Hon Hoh
Believers Press, May 2011, $19.99
ISBN: 9780578071954

In 2032 Pastor Josh McGuire is in China preaching the Word to underground churches. He is a fervent believer that he rejoices that he converts the people to become children of God. Security forces arrest Josh; Shanghai Security Chief Yang interrogates the Westerner. Calmly Josh feels the Spirit moves him to rid the demon from his tormentor’s body. A dazzled Yang is impressed by what his prisoner accomplished and converts just like his wife as a devotee of Christ.

Josh leaves China for Australia to meet with the missionary who told him that he has visions of going to Yangon in Myanmar. This is the last populated place on earth where the Word has failed to arrive. Josh touched by Jesus and Gabriel knows he must head to Yangon as he believes that is where the Trigger for the second coming will begin. The French president manipulated by Appolyon the demon leads the opposition trying to prevent the Word from reaching Myanmar even if that means millions of believers and non-believers die.

Although the Trigger is an End of Times Revelations thriller, Hon Hoh provides a fresh different interpretation to the final days. Instead of Armageddon occurring near Jerusalem, destruction is global at the same time. When called upon by God to bring about the Second Coming, Josh feels sort of like Moses as the wrong man for the upcoming trials and tribulations; he depends on his belief in the Lord to enable him to achieve the impossible mission. Sub-genre readers will relish Mr. Hoh’s extrapolation of contemporary international relations with a unique but incise interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Red Mortal-Deidre Knight

Red Mortal
Deidre Knight
Signet, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451232991

Before he became an Immortal Warrior, King Leonides led the 300 Spartans in combat twenty-five centuries ago at Thermopylae. When he and six of his comrades died, they drank the water of Styx and made the vow that made them immortal but beholding to Ares the God of War. Now Leonides and the God of War’s half-sister Daphne the Oracle of Delphi admit their love for one another, Ares punishes the Immortal Warrior by turning him into a mortal with an accelerated aging towards death.

Demon Centaur Sable is heading towards the light ever since he helped the warriors, but feels conflicted as he loves Sophie Lowery the seer. Ares offers him a deal to fulfill his desires, but which if accepted will betray his brothers in arms.

The final Gods of Midnight series is a great romantic urban fantasy with two touching complicated tales of love. The fast-paced story line hooks the audience from start to finish as do the previous Red tales (see Red Fire, Red Demon and Red Kiss). Leonides and Sable are epic heroes while the females they love are their equals. Readers will appreciate Deidre Knight’s contemporary mythos-historical blending as love and war battle for supremacy.

Harriet Klausner

The Ale Boy’s Feast -Jeffrey Overstreet

The Ale Boy’s Feast
Jeffrey Overstreet
WaterBrook, Mar 15 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781400074686

Although the Cent Regus Beastmen hace been defeated, the Seers of Bel Amica continue to destroy the beauty of the realm especially with the poisonous Deathweed. Jordam the Beastman tries to bring back the comatose near dead remains of House Abascar especially Rescue the firewalker ale boy as only he can lead them to salvation in the former hidden city of Inius Throan.

Milora leads others from tattered Abascar to the Promised Land Inius Throan. Also heading there is Abascar King Cal-raven who has lost his belief in the Keeper. The monarch’s former tutor Scharr Ben Fray the stonemaster mage tries to keep the true Expanse history from being overwhelmed by revisionists fabricating threads while hoping to see a New Abascar rise from the ruins of the old order. None can make it to the ancient city yet all can make it to the ancient city.

The fourth and final Aurelia’s Thread epic fantasy (see Raven’s Ladder, Auralia's Colors and Cyndere's Midnight) is a great finish to a strong allegorical journey. The Ale Boy’s Feast contains several rotating subplots that Jeffery Overstreet intertwines into a powerful tapestry as the key cast struggles with doubts while praying for a new start. Complicated and convoluted, this is a fitting climax to a fabulous multifaceted saga.

Harriet Klausner

Deadworld-J.N. Duncan

J.N. Duncan
Kensington, Apr 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9780758255662

Someone drained the blood of a woman in Wisconsin. Now, an unknown predator drains the blood of twelve years old Archibald Lane, leaving a corpse with bites and a few bruises in a Chicago park. FBI agent Jackie Rutledge leads the investigation in which her psychic partner Laurel sense something paranormal at the murder scene.

Law enforcement first focuses on private investigator Nick “Sheriff” Anderson as the predator, but Jackie quickly realizes he is innocent. Instead he offers to assist her and Laurel on the bizarre case in which he and his team add to the paranormal peculiarities. Soon the inquiry leads back to over a century ago.

Because of the paranormal in Chicago, there is an obvious nod to early Dresden, but the respective teammates of Jackie and Nick make for a much different fresh urban fantasy spin. The supernatural investigative story line is fast-paced and contains a strong twist in midstream. The cast is solid as the lead pair and the secondary players are fully developed though more of the highlight film of Nick’s 180 years of existence would have been helpful. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the brisk tour of J.N. Duncan’s Deadworld.

Harriet Klausner

Night Mares in the Hamptons -Celia Jerome

Night Mares in the Hamptons
Celia Jerome
Daw, May 3 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756406639

A wall divides our world from a universe where magic exists and creatures from our mythos are real. Graphic novelist Willow Tate draws beings from that other realm; but what makes her unique is sometimes her depictions break through the barrier to her world. It is not a shocker that Willow is a Visualizer; as she comes from Paumanok Harbor in the Hamptons, a place where many residents possess psychic skills.

Three Night Mares arrive in the small Long Island village seeking a missing colt. They flicker in and out at night causing sleepless woes for the locals, but never appear in day light. People lack sleep and suffer from nightmares that has everyone irritable and over the edge. Minor irritants turn into full scale wars. The Department of Unexplained Events sends internationally renowned horse whisperer, Texan Ty Farraday to help the towns folk send the magical night mares home. He and Willow are attracted to one another and he make it known he wants her while in town. Willow focuses on the missing foal as she can sense the terror felt by the baby steed as people who possess the magical horse will kill to keep their prize.

With a nod to Xanth, the second engaging Willow Long island fantasy (see Trolls in the Hamptons) is a wonderful tale in which the fun story line never takes anything seriously. Willow is terrific holding the plot together through her courage and fear while the eccentric villagers enhance the purposely hyperbolized thriller. With a romantic subplot adding to the mix, Celia Jerome has written a charmer.

Harriet Klausner

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man-Mark Hodder

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
Mark Hodder
PYR, Mar 22 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143596

In sort of 1862 in Trafalgar Square, someone abandons a clockwork brass man. The King’s agent Sir Richard Francis Burton and his sidekick poet Algernon Swinburne investigate as the object is linked to the stolen Garnier Collection of black diamonds thought to be from the Lemurian Eye of Naga meteorite. Their inquiry leads to the Tichborne Claimant.

A man claims that he is wealthy heir Roger Tichborne, who allegedly died at sea. Burton investigates this Tichborne while rioting amongst the lower class has broken out tied to this grotesque odd individual; anyone who knew the aristocrat before he was lost at sea would never recognize him as this claimant. However this Tichborne pretender in spite of one syllable one word droning responses somehow has the support of the angry lower class. The case turns crazier than time changing as Burton and Swinburne begin to connect dots of an insidious scheme that threatens the Empire and their sanity.

The sequel to The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is a terrific alternative historical thriller that is anchored by real nineteenth century persona like Florence Nightingale and Charles Doyle. Burton is a wonderful protagonist who knows destiny tilted as he remains haunted by some nefarious things he did. Herbert Spencer is a key character helping the lead duo stay focused on deciphering the clues of what increasingly appears is a plan to set the sun forever on the British Empire. Although it pays to read Spring Heeled Jack first as that sets the table, the Clockwork Man is more than just a middle book as adventures of Burton and Swinburne keep on occurring while time is running out on them.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 19, 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 Crippled God-Steven Erikson

The Crippled God
Steven Erikson
Tor, Mar 1 2011, $19.99
ISBN: 9780765316561

What is left of the Bonehunters Army of the Malazan Empire is a battered unit who were devastated by the Chain Nah’Ruk. Their resolute leader Adjunct Tavore Paran knows the morale of her soldiers is mutinous as most want to go home to die. However, though she expects treachery and assassination from within, she relentlessly marches on with one last prayer that she hopes grasps victory from certain defeat.

She understands humanity has to prevent the pandemic annihilation by the Forkrul Assail Elder Gods, who plan species cleansing through the liberation of Korabas the Otataral Dragon. The only chance Paran and company have resides with another deity. Paran and her army must liberate The Forgotten God, imprisoned by the Elder Gods for over 15,000 millennia. The Adjunct like the Watch expect to die, as Paran knows even if they somehow succeed to free the Crippled God, they still have no binds to control the enraged deity.

Although it behooves the newcomer to have read the decade in the making ten book saga, at a minimum the audience needs to peruse the previous tale (see The Dust of Dreams) as that is the pre-set up (The Crippled God has a lengthy set-up anyway) to the ending novel. Loaded with action, fans will enjoy the climax once Steven Erikson starts the final days. Once again the theme is a person’s heart as symbolized by courageous Paran who offers nothing to make her an extemporary leader except her soul. She and her everyman soldiers, though they will be forgotten by history as no minstrels will recall their names, are the heroes of the wars declared by elder armchair leaders.

Harriet Klausner

Starfire-Kate Douglas

Kate Douglas
Zebra, Apr 5 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420110012

On Lemuria, the son of the Councilor, Alton, his beloved human woman Ginny, Eddy the human woman and her beloved Dax the demon have learned that the demons control Lemuria as the Council of Nine ignored warnings. As they realize an inconvenient truth, heroic warrior women remain chained since they fought in the last demon War.

Selyn a Forgotten One daughter of a chained warrior woman was enslaved a thousand years ago by the Council of Nine at the end of that war. She and her sisters in arms prepare the rebellion against the Council of Nine. However, a guard viscously beats her to near death. Human veterinarian Dawson Buck saves her life. He heals her mind, soul and heart while she gives him a personal reason to live and fight on the Lemuria side of the portal.

Although the Demon King was defeated and exiled to the Abyss, the war continues to heat up with much of the action focused in Lemuria rather than on earth where the first two urban romantic fantasy Demonslayer thrillers (see Demonfire and Hellfire) occurred. Loaded with deadly action and sexual action, fans will appreciate this strong saga, but newcomers would be better off reading the first two entries to grasp the intricacies and nuances of the series as worlds of Kate Douglas are incredibly complex.

Harriet Klausner

Rush of Darkness-Rhyannon Byrd

Rush of Darkness
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775583

In France, since her rescue from the evil Casus and Westmore the malevolent Kraven, half-breed (Deschanel vampire and Alacea psychic) Raine Spenser obsesses over destroying her former evil captors. Her vendetta is personal not just because of what they did to her, but because they murdered her sister. She plans to send them to a hell worse than the Meriden prison they escaped from.

Former vampire hunter Seth McConnell has enlisted with the Watchmen to prevent Westmore from succeeding with his dreadful schemes. Since vampires massacred his family, Seth loathes the undead. Still he has to reconcile his hatred with his need for Raine who soothes his troubled soul though she distrusts the hunter who rescued her and he distrusts the half-vamp he rescued.

The seventh Primal Instinct urban fantasy romance (see Touch of Temptation, Touch of Seduction and Touch of Surrender) is an engaging tale of star-crossed lovers as he hates her kind (at least half of her kind) and she hates loving him as that emotion interferes with her prime objective. Fans of the saga will relish this fine entry as Rhyannon Byrd keeps the overarching paranormal war theme moving forward while focusing on the romance between two essences who by nature and nurture should be mortal enemies.

Harriet Klausner

Sex and the Single Vampire-Katie MacAlister

Sex and the Single Vampire
Katie MacAlister
Avon, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062019325

Anton Melrose II, chief of the western division of the United Psychical Research Association, informs employee Summoner Alegra Telford that if fails again, she will return from London for the states unemployed. Alegra feels like a charlatan as she is in England because that is where many ghosts haunt and as a Summoner, she should be able to make contact.

Nine centuries old Moravian Dark One Christian Dante detests swinging London though he swings the scene in an attempt that seems futile to find his cherished one; only she can save his soul with her love. His nightmare wait suddenly turns to a blissful dream when he meets Alegra who thinks she has summoned him through the portals of the netherworld. He persuades her that he has never even visited the place, but as a vampire, he hopes that she will insure that he never does. When Alegra finally succeeds in summoning ghosts, she comes to the attention of worshippers of the dark and their malevolent evil spirit. Only with Christian's help can she hope to remain safe even as she finds herself reciprocating the love he feels for her.

A reprint of a 2004 book, Sex and the Single Vampire is an amusing paranormal romance starring two delightful protagonists, a horde of supernatural creatures that make the beyond seem real plus the return of Alegra's pals from A Girl’s Guide to Vampires (also Dante’s first appearance). The story line hooks the audience from the moment that Christian and Alegra meet because the reader feels the attraction that sets in motion the dangerous gathering of a deadly entity and his followers. Urban romantic fantasy readers will enjoy this one-bite sitting teeth in cheek (and neck) tale.

Harriet Klausner

Attack of the Vampire Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales-David Lubar

Attack of the Vampire Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales
David Lubar
Starscape (Tor), May 2011, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765323453

David Lubar has released another humorous horror anthology aimed at middle school readers. The thirty tales are spooky but contain no blood or slashing. The stories are short, but gripping as the young audience will enjoy the brisk reading experience.

The title entry stars a boy sick of the fake vampires especially his sister and her boyfriend and decides to teach the “undead” a biting lesson. “The Ride of a Lifetime” focuses on Zack who wants to ride the Titanium Tempest, but his family prevent him so he pulls off a stunt for a midnight ride only to know he wants off immediately. Particularly amusing is “Chirp” who turns into different birds when he says “Chirp”, but will soon make a potentially fatal mistake. Jacob is disgusted with the workers lazing around until he complains and learns what their “Roadwork” is missing. In “Lost and Found”, Dale and Kirby find an expensive handkerchief with a series of symbols sewn into it that has them take it a grateful Xantin who is euphoric and glad to have two boys inside his house of horrors.

The other contributions are as scary and funny whether it is in the school gym or running a train, as Mr. Lubar provides an amusing compilation.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 18, 2011

Warm Bodies-Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies
Isaac Marion
Atria, Apr 26 2001, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439192313

Earth is dying due to global floods, wars that never end, riots and constant bombings. Seventy percent of America is dead, skeletal buildings lie vacant everywhere. There is no electricity and dwindling survivors hide behind barriers inside sturdy edifices like sports arenas and p[arks to keep out the newest planetary predator: zombies.

Nobody knows how these beasts first appeared, but one bite cause their victim to turn. They are sentient cannibals who decay with an odor of death emitting from their carcasses. R is one of these cretins, but he is a bit more compassionate than his species. He saves the life of Julie the human. R eats the brain of her boyfriend and obtains some of his memories of Julie, who he risks his life to keep safe. Together they create something that might, if allowed to blossom, reverse the path humans are traveling; that is if her father, who is behind zombie nation, and his minion does not kill them first.

This is not a typical zombie thriller as these reanimated dead are thinkers and not just senseless killing machines. Meeting Julie changes R; but the elder zombies recognize this and want him to live as he and his beloved may change the status quo for the good. R regains his lost human feelings especially when it comes to R and she reciprocates. Readers will enjoy this warm post apocalyptic tale as Isaac Marion provides a wonderful zombie love story; that is if this Romeo and Juliet couple survives the assaults by those who want them dead.

Harriet Klausner

Eternal Kiss-Laura Wright

Eternal Kiss
Laura Wright
Signet, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233844

Although he detests what he has volunteered to do, Nicholas Roman remains resolute that his brother Lucien will not become a breeding male like their unknown dad was. Thus he agrees to work with the vampire Eternal Order instead though he loathes doing anything for this tyrannical group as he prefers living as a normal.

Female vampire Kate Everborne is near release having served her sentence for breaking the law in a vampire prison. However, she observes impure vampire Ethan Dare murder a female vampire. The dying female persuades Kate to escort her son Ladd to his pure-blood vampire father, Nicholas. Kate accompanies Ladd to his sire, but is caught in the crosshairs of a vampiric war between Dare and the Roman siblings.

The second Mark of the Vampire (see Eternal Hunger for Alexander Roman’s tale) is a super urban romantic fantasy due to the powerful Wright mythos that makes the realm of the Eternal Order seem genuine and ergo readers will believe vampires exist. Nicholas and Kate are a fabulous pairing as she trusts no one except his siblings and she trusts no one as betrayal is the norm in her experience. Yet trust and reliance are needed if this pair is to not just survive, but to mate in love. This author clearly has the Wright stuff with the complicated world of the Roman vampire brothers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Children of Scarabaeus-Sara Creasy

Children of Scarabaeus
Sara Creasy
Harper Voyager, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061934742

Although Cyphertek Edie Sha’nim and her bodyguard-lover Finn escaped from Scarabaeus, the tyrannical Crib government still wants her. Her hope to escape their brutal control of the universe is the fringe frontier worlds, but failed to appreciate how much her skill to change ecologies mean to the Crib.

They are caught and if she wants her lover to survive she will obey and cooperate. However, she is ill with what is demanded of her. If she performs the ecological reengineering she will kill a planet. Making matters worse the Crib is employing cypherteck children as slaves. There is the threat to the orb that started her as a dissenter, Scarabaeus.

The sequel to Song of Scarabaeus is a direct entry so it behooves fans to have read the previous tale first. Edie and Finn begin new escapades, but it is even more a coming of age thriller than its predecessor; as the lead couple struggle with political machinations as bioengineering and ecological reengineering has winners and losers as Edie has learned. Readers will relish Children of Scarabaeus as Sara Creasy continues are strong saga with a moral underlying premise in which each successful transformation brings affluence but at the cost to someone else.

Harriet Klausner

The Enterprise of Death-Jesse Bullington

The Enterprise of Death
Jesse Bullington
Orbit, Mar 24 2011, $14.99
ISBN 9780316087346

Awa the Moorish slave is tossed out of her home in Grenada. A necromancer captures her and orders her to learn his skills though she prefers not to but she has no choice. Finally Awa escapes only to find out the mage knew she would flee and cursed her.

Awa has a decade to find the necromancer’s tome or lose her soul. The arcane book can be anywhere. Not one to give up, Awa begins her quest. As time keeps on ticking into an apparent soulless future, her search looks futile. Still, Awa makes friends and allies to include painter Niklaus Manuel Deutsch who pays for his supplies by hiring out as a morbid mercenary and Monique the lesbian gunsmith madam as well as Dr. Paracelsus the alchemist, some paranormal essences (at least that is what assumed by Awa the cursed Moor) and a few normal beings.

Not for those with weak stomachs, The Enterprise of Death is an amusing vividly gruesome lampooning of the horror fantasy combine. Awa is terrific as she holds the grisly story line focused while she learns life’s lesson that quitting is more difficult than continuing. Manuel feels remorse as to how he funds his morbid art while Awa’s plight has made her his muse. The rest of the key players enhance Awa’s desperation. Readers who enjoy a dark jocular historical horror fantasy will want to join Awa on her odyssey to keep her soul.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Golden Vampire-Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Golden Vampire
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 22 2011, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373618576

The Feds send former cop Jesse Stewart and her crew, known for rescuing missing persons typically in an extraction, to go to Slovenia to bring home the kidnapped daughter of a U.S. Senator. While in Europe on her mission with subordinate Stan having her back, Jesse meets vampire Lance Van Baaren; who in spite of her attraction to him she assumes he is evil.

However, Lance is a Guardian, pledged to protect the innocent and to keep vampire blood pure. He offers to help Jesse on her quest as evil rogue vampires have captured the young American girl. As the human and the vampire team up, she realizes who he is as he saved her life from a vampire assault when she was a child living in Los Angeles.

This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy starring two strong lead characters with a history. The entertaining story line takes its time to introduce the players and the Thomas-Sundstrom world of Moon-Vampires, but once done the plot goes into hyperspeed. Fans will enjoy this twisting thriller whole wondering who will get the last bite.

Harriet Klausner

Fallen-Michele Hauf

Michele Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 22 2011, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373618569

The fear of what Juphiel is planning has shaken up the hierarchy of the Beneath; as the fallen angel has chosen his female muse to impregnate her. The offspring would be an amoral flesh and blood eating nephilim. To prevent the calamity, Sinistari demon Pyxion the Other has been sent to kill him.

Pyx locates Juphiel in a Paris club, while he is using the human guise of Cooper Truhart, as he searches for his lost halo that contains his soul. Instead of what was reported, Pyx finds a determined Juphiel trying to not fall for the lure of his muse and will never create an evil beast with her. Instead, Cooper plans to have Pyx his way whether that means ripping out her metal heart or winning her metal heart as she is the first female Sinistari he ever heard existed.

The key to this Of Angels and Demons thriller is the Hauf world seems genuine as the Sinistari try to prevent the Fallen from siring Nephilim with their muses. However, it is the lead couple who make the tale fun to read; as fans of Michele Hauf will enjoy the twists and turns of this delightful romantic urban fantasy as forbidden love between eternal enemies leave angels, demons and readers wondering what next.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vowed in Shadows-Jessa Slade

Vowed in Shadows
Jessa Slade
Signet, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451232984

When Jonah Walker was mortal he was a dedicated missionary doing the Lord’s work. However, the pious Jonah has become immortal after a stint with a demon; but he finds his world filled with anger and violence. His biggest issue with adapting to his change is he misses his beloved wife and other family members as he welcomes death that can never come.

In Chicago Nim “Naughty Nymphette” Hamlin entered the underworld not of her own fruition as she never believed such a realm existed. She struggles with adapting her battered belief system that scoffed at demons existing to a new reality, but apparently she has enthralled one of them. As for Jonah the righteous, she knows she will never be his equal nor will she ever be his partner except in a battle against evil.

The latest Marked Souls urban romantic fantasy stars two compassionate flawed protagonists; each struggling with a radically different reality than what they believed for most of their lives. The story line is filled with action, but driven by the lead couple who at that first look were unsure whether heaven or hell took over their heart. Though a glossary and a Possession classification are included, to better understand the scope of the Slade Shadows saga readers should start with the previous entries in the mythos (see Forged of Shadows and Seduced of Shadows).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sleight of Hand-Peter S. Beagle

Sleight of Hand
Peter S. Beagle
Tachyon, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781616960049

This anthology contains thirteen fascinating “family” fantasies in which three have not been published before; one was released as a podcast; and the remaining released in the last four years. The collection is terrific though my personal favorite is “The Rock In The Park” from (the Green Man Review podcast) as Montefiore, Gun Hill Road, Jerome Avenue (with the el) and Van Cortland remind me of growing up in a more mundane household in the 1950sand 1960s in the Bronx. I suggest reading back to back the whimsical title tale in which nurturing love is the strongest magical bond and its counterweight of smothering magical love is its only equal in "What Tune the Enchantress Plays". Other super strong entries include the dark crime thriller “The Bridge Partner", the aftermath of Jack’s homicide in “Up The Down Beanstalk” and “The Rabbi's Hobby” as a child and his Rabbi notice a woman appearing magazine photos from decades ago. Whether it is New York, Hawaii (“The Children Of The Shark God”) or “Oakland Dagon Blues (in which Mr. Beagle co-stars), these are all winners; topped off by the opening act of Schmendrick prior to The Last Unicorn in “The Woman Who Married The Man In The Moon”.

Harriet Klausner

Born at Midnight-C. C. Hunter

Born at Midnight
C. C. Hunter
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 29 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312624675

Sixteen-year-old Kylie Galen cannot understand how her perfect teen world could implode this fast as she is exiled for the summer to the Shadow Falls Camp for troubled teens. First her parents suddenly are obtaining a divorce; and second her boyfriend Trey betrayed and dumped her. Finally she must cope with the death of her grandmother while having no one to provide her any comfort.

Complicating matters for the teenager is the troubled other campers who are a ménage of freaks and geeks insisting they are not purebred Homo sapiens, but instead are paranormal species. She thinks the campers are beyond troubled and disturbed to insane though she conceals her ability to see ghosts as she rationalizes that is not the same. However as two freaking hunks (Lucas and Derek make it obvious they want to be her boyfriend, Trey pleads with his ex for a second chance.

Summer in the city is not this camp in isolated Fallen, but resilient Kylie adapts to spending time amidst the Freaks by accepting she is one of them. The question is not whether to freak or not to freak, but instead as the Lovin’ Spoonful sang: “Did you ever have to make up your mind; Pick up on one and leave the other (two) behind.” Young adults will enjoy Kylie’s changing lament while wondering who will be the last camper standing?

Harriet Klausner

The Dark Zone-Dom Testa

The Dark Zone
Dom Testa
Tor, Apr 26 2011, $16.99
ISBN: 9780765321107

When the tail of the comet Bhaktul passed through the Earth’s atmosphere, it left behind toxic particles that caused a fatal disease for anyone over eighteen years old. To prevent human extinction as those turning eighteen caught the disease also, a bold plan to send 251 chosen teenagers led by Triana to fly a spacecraft the Galahad to the distant Eos solar system began (see The Comet’s Curse).

They deal with a stowaway, meet the Cassini aliens on a Jupiter moon (see The Web of Titan) and navigate though the hazardous Kuiper Belt (see The Cassini Code). Although the crew expects smooth sailing once they clear the Belt, they are met by strange vulture-shaped organisms. Unsure whether the entities are sentient and friendly, biological or mechanical the Council agrees to move ahead with the mission. Still they capture one of the essences leading to a series of mistakes as a crew member dies on board and another human makes a unilateral decision that impacts survivability on the Galahad.

Dom Testa continues his powerful teen suspense science fiction space opera as a potential new danger greets the earth travelers. The teens have become increasingly cohesive though they come from a variety of cultures and nations as they deal with perilous adventures. They prove dedicated and responsible and need the success of their mission. The story line contains numerous subplots involving the personal needs of the crew, but also moves forward the overarching major theme of travel through unknown space in a terrific odyssey.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Betrayer-C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh
Daw, Apr 5 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756406547

Bren Cameron is the paidhi-aiji negotiator with the Atevi. He and the ruler of all of the ai-shidi’tat states, Tabini-aiji, have become close friends especially during the recent civil war in which the human’s skills at solving difficult issues proved valuable.

However, though the capital of Bujavid is back under full control, hostilities remain especially in the Marid District, which borders on Bren’s estate. Tabini’s grandmother Illisidi assigns Bren to use his negotiating skills to broker a deal between Tabini-aiji and upstart ambitious Machigi of the Marad. Machigi is interested in what the first human he has met says, but distrusts sly Illisidi. Instead he invokes Atevi law by naming Bren the mediator between his unstable side and that of the leader. Knowing Atevi history better than almost any native, Bren knows the most difficult part of the assignment is staying alive as mediators almost always are the only thing two fractious sides agree on; that is death to the mediator.

The third book in the fourth Foreigner Universe series (see Deceiver and Conspirator) is a terrific cerebral entry with plenty of action, but the as political machinations are the backbone to the exciting story line. The human hero is once again caught in the middle but this time he is must prove loyal to both sides in the debate; no t easy to achieve since he and Tabini are close friends. Fast-paced, as always in this saga, readers need a chapter or two adjust to the local dialect as C.J. Cherryh transports her audience to het Foreigner Universe.

Harriet Klausner

Spirit Dances-C.E. Murphy

Spirit Dances
C.E. Murphy
Luna, Mar 22 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803255

Fifteen months of baptism under fire has led Joanne Walker to feel a bit more confident that she has the right stuff to be a shaman and a Seattle police detective although her use of her gun has her on edge while under a three day full pay suspension during the inquiry. The Troll Lady she saved thanks her with two tickets to a Native American dance gala. She asks her boss Police Captain Michael Morrison to accompany her and he accepts. Whereas, she needs rubber underwear for this assignment that she calls a date (and he just a concerned boss with his distraught employee) which makes the Urban Shamans think her battles with the Walking Dead and the Demon Hunt seem kindergarten.

During the transformative performance, Joanne begins to turn into a coyote until a dancer falls to the stage. The dancer is dead. Joanne learns that the homeless are vanishing without a cause. As she looks into the seemingly mystical death of the performer and why the homeless vanished, the Urban Shaman works the Seattle underground where a deadly creature resides that logically she knows cannot be real.

The sixth Walker Papers urban fantasy see demon Hunts) is a crossroads thriller as the heroine finds herself struggling between her two roles of coop during the day and shaman at night; as Michael asks her why didn’t she use the magic instead of the gun. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the dancer dies and never slows down as the shaman cop spins into a Coyote while her heart is pounding. Fans of the series will be stunned by the great late twist; next stop to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Lover Unleashed-J.R. Ward

Lover Unleashed
J.R. Ward
NAL, Mar 29 2011, $27.95
ISBN: 9780451233165

Mother dearest Scribe Virgin incarcerated her daughter Payne the vampiress for eons. Now, Payne is free in a world she does not recognize. She seeks out her brother Vishous who has found a niche in Upstate New York with his Jane; while she wonders where she belongs being a chip off her mother’s block as an aggressive female in a realm that prefers domestic women.

However, her journey to her sibling proves near fatal as she suffers a paralyzing injury. The Black Dagger Brotherhood ask brilliant human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello, whose best girl suffered a crippling injury at Aqueduct, to save the sister of his former employee’s mate. Neither Payne nor Manuel is prepared for their reaction to one another; or their actions to protect the other as the war with the minion of the Lessening Society continues to heat up.

This is a strong romantic urban fantasy due to the fully developed lead characters. Manny is a caring individual as shown when his filly went down while Payne has been taught that love hurts so never allow that emotion to cripple you. Saga fans will appreciate the latest entry as the war continues while one potential mating couple struggles as star-crossed essences in love.

Harriet Klausner

Night Magic-Jennifer Lyon

Night Magic
Jennifer Lyon
Ballantine, Mar 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345520067

When she was sixteen years old, her evil mother Maeve the witch tricked Ailish Donovan into hand fasting with Asmodeus the demon. Over the next eight years, Asmodeus sends her sexual dreams to bring her to his side. Ailish fights them using Earth Witch magic, but she understands the day of reckoning is soon as on her twenty-fourth birthday, she either has rid herself of the eight year old demonic mark or she will die. Although she would prefer to live, death brings two rewards as she would no longer be tied to the demon and her mother and her malevolent coven will be dead too.

Phoenix Torq is a hunter serving the Wing Slayer by killing rogues who allow the blood lust to take over them as they heed a demon’s call to slaughter the Earth Witches. However, the worst that could happen occurs when he becomes soul bond to the blind kick boxer Ailish. He knows if she gives in to Asmodeus, he will go rogue; if she dies, he dies. Fourteen days and he don’t know what to do as his instincts is always to save the female, especially this one, but how.

The third Wing Slayers series (see Blood Magic and Soul Magic) is a great romantic urban fantasy that uses well-placed humor to brighten the dark Lyon mythos. The story line is fast-paced as the final countdown begins; fate tosses a curve ball at the heroine prepared to die when she meets her soul bond. Readers will appreciate this powerful thriller as Phoenix and Ailish magically conjure up in the minds of the audience the wry comment in A Tale of two Cities by Dickens: “Tis a far far better thing I do than I have ever done before.”.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Stone of Destiny-Jim Ware

The Stone of Destiny
Jim Ware
David C. Cook, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781434764645

In St. Halistan at Santa Piedra Middle School student Morgan Izzak diligently studies his father’s ancient tomes on the Philosopher’s Stone and visits Madame Medea for help. That is when he is not eluding bullies at school and failing to properly navigate the convoluted social caste system. With his mother Mavis suffering form cancer, Morgan hopes to find the magical stone his dad references and use it to cure his mom.

His only friend Eny Ariello listens to Morgan’s desperation to find the Philosopher’s Stone, but offers a different idea. Eny believes the Irish Stone of Destiny is in their town. The two middle school kids begin a quest to find that stone, but rivals want the Irish Stone of Destiny too. As nasty giants and other evil beasts chase them, Morgan betrays his BFF and apparently lost the Irish Stone of Destiny too.

This is a fabulous parable fantasy in which the young hero learns from his mistakes, which pile on one after another, to keep the faith. Morgan turns to magic ignoring medicine and God in his quest for a miracle. He will understand that for the Grace of God, his errors sum into a goodness though he is filled with remorse especially with his betrayal and his inability to find the magical elixir; in fact he seems to make things worse for everyone though he keeps trying. Readers will enjoy his escapades as he searches for a magical cure for his dying mom, who ironically is a true believer.

Harriet Klausner

Legion-William Peter Blatty

William Peter Blatty
Tor, Fen 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765327130

Georgetown Police Lieutenant Kinderman investigates the homicides committed by a serial killer who reminds him of San Francisco’s Gemini killer. The case is personal as one of the victims is his friend Father Dyer (see Exorcist) brutally murdered in a hospital. The problem Kinderman faces is that in spite of the identical vicious homicides occurring, the perpetrators in each case are a different person.

Thinking back to his experience with Father Dyer over a dozen years ago, Kinderman wonders if the evil spirit of Gemini is serial possessing people and forcing the host to kill. He follows the clues until they take him to a locked in isolation mental patient.

This is a reprint of the 1983 sequel to The Exorcist though with a different less graphic but much more nastier and lethal spin to the evil. The cast especially obsessed Kinderman are fully developed though his debates with himself and with anyone who would listen for more than a nanosecond become tedious as he keeps reiterating the same theological paradox of a kind God allowing evil to thrive. Still fans of the original book will enjoy William Peter Blatty’s exciting sequel.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Jenny-Alex Bledsoe

Dark Jenny
Alex Bledsoe
Tor, Mar 29 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765327437

In Neceda a coffin delivered to Eddie LaCrosse at Angelina’s Tavern during a blizzard leads him to tell a tale from his youth when he was a private sword jockey investigator. Seven years ago Eddie was on Grand Bruan Island, a monarchy ruled by King Marcus Drake. He was tracking down a runaway husband Ken, Lord Astamore for his client Fiona an island noblewoman. At Nodlan castle, Sam Patrice a Knight of the Double Tarn dies from eating a poisoned apple. The attendees assume it was intended for Queen Jennifer, suspicion falls on the outsider who explains he has no motive or opportunity and that the target was fruit fetish eater Thomas Gillian.

Eddie persuades Big Robert that he did not commit the homicide. He volunteers with a lot of insistence by Big Robert to investigate the murder as the Knight explains that those at the gala believe Queen Jennifer is the assassin. Confusing Eddie is her Highness’ protector Elliott Spears and the monarch’s advisory mage Cameron Kern are missing.

With a terrific Camelot Noir, the latest Eddie LaCrosse hard boiled detective case (see The Sword Edged Blonde and Burn Me Deadly) is an amusing fantasy whodunit. The story line is fast-paced, loaded with action and plenty of jocular acerbic asides by the hero. Readers will enjoy this entertaining whodunit while like the tavern patrons and owner wonder who is inside the coffin and why the delivery, especially in this weather, came to the private sword jockey.

Harriet Klausner

The Neon Court or The Betrayal of Matthew Swift-Kate Griffin

The Neon Court or The Betrayal of Matthew Swift
Kate Griffin
Orbit, Mar 24 2011, $19.99
ISBN 9780316093644

London is trapped inside the eternal night with neighborhoods vanishing one after another. War is imminent between the Neon Court and the Tribe; besides being enemies for seemingly ever, a daimyo was murdered. The only hope to prevent the hostilities between two magical user groups from igniting is the electrical magician Matthew “The Midnight Mayor” Swift. He has shown the ability to protect London from various paranormal threats including A Madness of Angels, but he fears he will not be able to stop the war.

However, Matthew has been ordered to come to a nearby burning tower where the corpse of his associate Oda the Warrior of The Order lies. She has a hole and Matthew’s symbol as the Midnight Mayor drawn in her blood; yet she walks and talks while trying to kill Swift. As the night turns darker, Lady Neon is coming to London while unknown phenomena hunt for a monster that burns the eyes of victims and the dead woman still walking and talking.

This is an exciting Swift fantasy (see A Madness of Angels and The Midnight Mayor) as the electrical sorcerer deals with big issues trying to prevent a war and personal issues trying to save his friend from killing him. Loaded with tons of action mostly of a paranormal kind that at times supersedes the plight of the hero, readers will enjoy Matthew Swift’s tightrope as otherworldly occurrences threatens his city and definitely his well-being.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived-Paul S. Kemp

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived
Paul S. Kemp
Del Rey, Mar 22 2011, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345511386

Sith Warrior Darth Malgus is frustrated with the political machinations of Darth Angral and Darth Baras. Whereas he believes in getting to the point as he did when he crashed the Jedi Temple on Coruscant with an explosion heard around the galaxy; his so-called allies prefer working behind the scenes maneuvers. Malgus has other issues with his peers due to his relationship with his Twi'lek slave Eleena. The Sith only accept purity of the blood, which means only with Sith.

Jedi Aryn Leneer heads to Coruscant on a mission of vengeance against those in the Republic who destroyed the Temple and killed her Master. Also heading to the capital city is former Havok Squad Trooper turned Smuggler Zeerid Korr to provide his beloved daughter a safer life. As Aryn targets Malgus, Korr eludes the Hutt Cartel, but soon they will meet up in an encounter to rival the destruction of the Temple.

As the three prime principals collide in an explosive way, fans of the extended saga will realize how different Deceived is from Sean Williams’ Fatal Alliance; the previous Old Republic thriller is vast in distance and numerous planets while this entry is limited to three orbs. The same goes for characterizations as the focus in Deceived is on the lead trio as opposed to a De Mille cast. Thus fans who relish action over characterizations and culture will prefer Fatal Alliance; while those who prefer key cast and culture to supersede the action will choose Deceived. Still both are fun to read as Paul S. Kemp concentrates on events that will not make the history books in the Skywalker future, but the audience will enjoy the clash when his fully developed threesome converge.

Harriet Klausner

The Vampire Voss-Colleen Gleason

The Vampire Voss
Colleen Gleason
Mira, Mar 22 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329527

In 1804 in London, the Woodmere sisters become concerned when their twenty-seven years old brother vampire hunter Chas vanishes. They turn to their guardian, the Earl of Corvindale, hoping he can find Chas who they fear is in trouble due to his hazardous occupation.

Meanwhile Dracule Lord Voss Arden returns to England from the upstart colonies calling themselves the United States with news about Chas, who he believes abducted his sister. Voss has no heart as a minion of Lucifer. However, he is stunned when he meets one of the Woodmere sisters Angelica, who has the gift of sight. He wants her as she makes his blood boil. She feels the same way until she learns the nature of her beloved. Now she feels betrayed while each share a broken heart.

The Book of the Regency Dracula is a dark historical romantic fantasy starring two star-crossed wannabe lovers. Besides her brother never accepting a Vampire as suitable for any of his younger sisters, his species (and others) would never allow him to be with a human possessing the Gift. Readers will enjoy this new paranormal trilogy starring a seemingly Romeo and Juliet couple in Regency England. Colleen Gleason provides a respite for Victoria Gardella with The Vampires Voss’ dangerous tale of forbidden love.

Harriet Klausner

Hounded-Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, May 3 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780345522474

Atticus O'Sullivan the Druid has lived for over two millennia and in that time he has made friends like Van Gogh and Galileo but also has alienated essences who want him dead. Some are extremely powerful, but perhaps his most persistent and strongest enemy is the Celtic God Aenghus Og. The Druid stole a magic sword from the God who vowed to hunt him down, kill him, and retrieve the sword. Over the centuries, Og has located Atticus, but his attempts to kill his adversary have failed.

O’Sullivan plays soccer while he also owns and operates Third Eye Books and Herbs store (hiding his Celtic heritage behind eastern beliefs) in Tempe Arizona. He has kept a low profile so that his sworn foes will not easily find him. Og locates him again and sends his nastiest minion to take care of him with instructions not to come back alive without his sword and O’Sullivan’s corpse. The Druid’s faithful Irish wolfhound Oberon is acceptable collateral damage.

This is a super urban fantasy in which the Hearne’s mythos comes across as possible due to reasonable explanations interwoven into the fast-paced plot. Readers rather quickly anticipate an OK Corral showdown between the Druid and the God once Og locates the rodent who desiccated his deity. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Kevin Hearne’s humorous tale of the “Mouse That Roared” against the superpower.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Deadly Enterprise-Christopher Hoare

Deadly Enterprise
Christopher Hoare
Double Dragon, Sep18 2007, $14.99
ISBN: 9781554044900

From the future with an advanced technology but a damaged starship the Iskander, the crew must adapt to the old war ravaged earth of Gaia. The Iskander leaders wish to broker a peace between the emperor and his opponents so all can prosper. The best choice to work with is considered the merchant-banking Felger family. Although she is young and a rogue, Lieutenant Gisel “Wildcat” Matah, is chosen to make first contact with Yohan Felger; as she bends rules but always accomplishes the mission because she never loses focus as to who she portrays under cover.

Gisel’s assignment is to work a trade deal that will benefit her people and his family. However, in his world, women are subservient and not equal let alone superior. To negotiate, Gisel must dress and act as if she is a man. As troopers search for outside operative Wildcat, her superiors switch her mission when another stranded space traveling species surfaces. However, the hardest impediment to staying in character is her attraction to the man who sees her as a male but her heart is all female.

The key to this terrific alternate earth science fiction thriller is the heroine who comes from a future in which a woman can be all she can be, but in this past, a female has restrictive roles. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy Gisel’s efforts to broker a peace between two adversarial groups who have been fighting a Hundred Years War while another joker enters the fray. Although the support cast can seem overwhelming as there are so many players providing diverse limited roles, Deadly Enterprise is an enjoyable action-packed tale (see Wildcat's Victory and Arrival for other thrillers starring Gisel).

Harriet Klausner

Central Park Knight -C.J. Henderson

Central Park Knight
C.J. Henderson
Tor, May 10 2011, $15.99
ISBN 9780765320841

After he saved the world twice, the Men in Black abduct Brooklyn Museum curator Piers Knight, his former girlfriend Tian Lu, and museum intern George Rainert. They are taken to Washington DC where agents are putting together a defense plan against an expected dragon invasion.

They already have an assortment of weapons, mundane and magical to throw at the ancient menace. However, whether they use magic powders or missiles, the enemy is extremely powerful soaring through the skies while tossing fire at targets. Thus the Feds added Brooklyn Knight to the team as he has a proven success rate against impossible odds vs. invincible adversaries.

This is an over the top of the Coney Island Cyclone and the Brooklyn Bridge pulp fiction in which readers, who ignore plausibility, will be caught up in the frantic pace to save the world several times in one thriller. In fact boomer fans will sing the theme song to Mighty Mouse as Knight “comes to save the day”. Faster than a subatomic particle in a super collider, readers will enjoy Central Park Knight as the hero and his two cohorts struggle to prevent global extinction.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead-Jovanka Vuckovic

Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead
Jovanka Vuckovic
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 15 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780312656508

Perhaps the most popular Zombie fever advocate is movie director George A. Romero who began the current craze with his classic Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Since then Zombies are a feature of comic books, novels and movies. However, though this terrific reference book devotes about Zombies in the recent decades, the fun in this collection is the less known earlier periods. Thus the first four chapters are insightful and fascinating as the roots in Haiti, the literature of Poe and Shelley; the early films like the Living Dead and of course the Romero flesh feasts. Ironically though the slaves whispered of the dead walking at night, it is in the late nineteenth century the first zombie mania became an American public phenomena due to the work of journalist Patrick Hearne. The next wave is kicked off by EC comics, Romero and the Spanish zombie invasion. Finally there is choices when one enters Zombieland as readers will enjoy being on the menu due to the graphic illustrations enhancing the engaging historical look at peeling flesh via all types of multimedia sources; just keep hand lotion handy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In the Shadows of Swords-Val Gunn

In the Shadows of Swords
Val Gunn
Errant Press, Feb 28 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780615232690

Hiril Altair flees for the Elies Embassy where he knows he will receive sanctuary that will keep him safe from the agents of the Sultanate of Qatana and the Rassian Majali of Miranes especially with what he has to show his hosts. However, just a few steps to the door his life ends when the legendary Kingslayer Ciris Sarn the half-jinn assassin brutally kills him.

Hiril’s widow Marin wants what she believes is her right, Sarn’s death at her hands as a widow’s debt. She obtains the magic tomes left behind the widowmaker as she begins her vendetta. At the same she tracks her prey across the desert; the Sultan’s advisor Fajeer Dassai stalks the widow in order to possess the books. He is unaware that the head of the Jassaj, Pavanan Munif stalks him.

The first book of the Tales of Ciris Sarn is an action-packed fantasy thriller filled with short chapters that never allow a grateful audience to take a respite. Fast-paced, from the opening vicious kill to the exciting climax, readers will relish this terrific complex Arabian mythos as a queue of stalking adventures begin and end with Sarn.

Harriet Klausner