Saturday, April 30, 2011

Exile-Anne Osterlund

Anne Osterlund
Speak, Apr 28 2011, $8.99
ISBN: 9781101514153

Princess Aurelia travels the Kingdom of Tyralt to meet people and to get away from her murderous ambitious stepsister and her father the monarch who could not care which royal daughter lived or died as long as one of them remained his heir. Her friend Robert, who loves Aurelia, and select guards join her on her trek.

She wished she could just go about as a commoner, but understands her position prevents her from doing so. When an assassin tries to kill her, Aurelia learns you sometimes get what you wish for. She and Robert flee for their lives wearing the disguise of a common couple. When they encounter bandits, Aurelia meets her mother who is protected by the band. She is offered a chance to remain with her mom hidden from her father’s world or continue her journey.

The sequel to Aurelia is a terrific high school age thriller as the heroine seeks to get away from her deadly home and meet her subjects. Robert is her most loyal follower as danger is everywhere from paid assassins to outlaws. The encounter between mother and daughter is incredible passionate; however the heroine’s inner moral compass will determine what she will do as she has a strong ethical value system (must be maternal DNA).

Harriet Klausner

Blood Law-Karin Tabke

Blood Law
Karin Tabke
Heat, May 3 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425240922

Brothers Lucien and Rafael were ten years old when the Fenrir Slayers led by Thomas Corbett attacked the Vulkasin Lycan pack killing many including the twin’s parents and kidnapped Layla the medicine woman. Thomas is enthralled by his captive.

Years later, the siblings rule their Lycan pack but Lucien has found his chosen mate; Rafael, retuning after a year away, knows she is the enemy Slayer infiltrating their clan. Lucien kills her leading to a schism between the brothers who through the Gods share one body with one dominating the day and the other the night until the Blood Law of a mate for a mate is avenged.

In Sacramento Rafael saves a human female from Viktor the rogue Slayer. He wants to know why a Slayer would assault a human so he tries to learn the truth even as he heals Falon Corbett the orphan who Rafael soon marks her as his mate.

Blood Law is a super urban fantasy with a deep Lycanthropic background interwoven into the exciting story of rival siblings at war with one another. Readers will feel Lucien’s rage and frustration towards his brother while Rafael struggles with his own feelings. With a great climatic twist, sub-genre fans will relish the Tabke universe as Lycan struggle to survive in a world in which the Slayers stalk them.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Last Kiss-Red Garnier

The Last Kiss
Red Garnier
Heat, May 3 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451233134

Ben Newcastle knows he is dying from cardiac arrest following the car accident. He has one thought as he holds a locket; he wishes he made the last Kiss with his beloved Emma forever.

One year, eight months and seven days have passed since Emma Wilkins’ knew her life ended when her beloved Ben died. In a Texas bar, Ben’s best friend Carter Bates begins to bring Emma back to life, but also angers an already frustrated Ben watching his beloved from beyond. She asks Carter the “pirate” to spank her while Ben her “prince” vows to return somehow. When Ben makes a Faustian deal, he comes back to San Antone and Emma now has two men she desires. However, Ben owes the devil.

The Last Kiss is an engaging erotic romantic fantasy starring two strong males and a somewhat weaker female although some of her issues are grief. Ben is an intriguing character as he refuses to move on and in fact chooses to move back. Carter is a solid caring person while Emma is more an extension of the two men lusting and loving her. Fans will enjoy this strange exciting triangle.

Harriet Klausner

Extremis-Steve White, Charles E. Gannon

Steve White, Charles E. Gannon
Baen, May 3 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439134337

The telepathic Arduans fled their galaxy as their sun went nova. They traveled for centuries until they reached their destination Bellerophon. However, they are unhappy to find a sentient race recently colonized the planet. Still after what they have been through to reach their new home, the Arduans believing they are supreme as the only sentient race see the humans as a minor irritant.

Adding to their manifest destiny belief is the feebleness of human existence. Whereas the humans live one short life as telepathic mutes, Arduans live numerous lives while recalling each. The warrior caste wants to cleanse the orb and the rest of the galaxy using stolen technology from humans and their allies (Orions, Ophiuchi and Gorm) of these nothing species while Ankaht the scientist-philosopher tries to find a peaceful solution to benefit both species as well the indigenous population.

The latest entry in Steve White’s Starfire saga collaborating with David Weber (see The Stars at War) and Shirley Meier (see Exodus) is a terrific military science fiction that is at its best during the non-combat scenes. The battles are entertaining, but it is the philosophical debate on belief systems, species profiling and ethics especially from the alien perspective that make for a powerful timely thriller with applications in our society.

Harriet Klausner

Witches of East End-Melissa de la Cruz

Witches of East End
Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion, Jun 21 2011, $23.99
ISBN 9781401323905

North Hampton is almost as difficult to find as Brigadoon as maps fail to locate the hamlet. Across from the town is abandoned Gardiners Island where Fair Haven has not been occupied for decades until now.

Nineteen year old Freya Beauchamp works as a bartender thanks to her license which dates her as twenty-two. She met Bran Gardiner due to a dress strap snapping and now they are engaged. However, though she loves Bran, she is in love with his brother Killian. Like her older sister Ingrid the librarian; and their mother Joanna, Freya is a witch. Due to the messy Massachusetts massacre from a few centuries ago, The White Council has placed strict limitations on magic usage, but the immortal Beauchamp females are recently leaking magic. The townsfolk feel fortunate as things seem to go their way until incidents turn ugly and supernatural beasts arrive from beyond while humans starting with a girl drinking a Freya’ special cocktail vanished.

Filled with delightful twists and the strong establishment that witchcraft and other paranormal beings exist, this is a superb bewitching thriller. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the three Witches of East End who make this a wonderful supernatural tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses-Ty Drago

The Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses
Ty Drago
Sourcebooks, Apr 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781402247859

After getting over the shock of observing his walking rotting neighbor Ernie “Dead Man” Pratt and John Towers Middle School Assistant Principal Titlebaum and some teachers turn into zombies, twelve years old Will Ritter struggles with controlling his instinct for flight and fright instead of fight. Kids like him recruit Will as a member of The Undertakers, a dedicated unit of non-adults whose mission is to fight zombies.

Joining the youth squad means your previous way of life no longer exists as adults do not have the ability to see zombies. The teen and preadolescent Undertakers like Will vow to clean the world of the Zombie manifestation starting with their home town.

This is an engaging fast-paced tale from the moment the talking smelly Pratt puts his hand on Will and never slows down as the young warriors learn the key questions in life is not can I have Pop Tarts for breakfast or how to comb one's hair, but can you see the living dead and how do you kill a dead person? With nods to Wild in the Streets (zombie style) and Zombieland, middle school students will enjoy Will and the Undertakers mission to save the world as readers will agree with the book’s quoting an anonymous person that “Children make the best heroes.”

Harriet Klausner

The Disunited States of America-Harry Turtledove

The Disunited States of America
Harry Turtledove
Tor, Apr 26 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765328243

Time Traders laterally travel from our realm to other timelines to sell slightly better products than the locals make. Each Time Trader knows that when one is a Crosstime Traffic trader they must never display too much technological superiority as blending in with the more backwoods natives is the key to success.

Recent high school graduate Justin Monroe comes from a family of Time Traders. Currently he and Time Trader Randolph Brooks are in a version of the United States that is not united and in which states constantly are at war with one another. He looks forward to going home to start college as his gut tells him this trip seems more dangerous than any he has been on.

From Southern California, Beckie Royer accompanies her Gran and "Uncle" Luke as they head to Elizabeth, Virginia to sell assault rifles to African-American rebels. With the country of Virginia on the brink of a racial civil war, neighboring country to the north Ohio sends a deadly virus into their nation that could only come from a Crosstime Traveler. As they are quarantined while people die from the deadly biological attack Beckie meets Justin and Randolph

This reprint of the fourth Crosstime Traffic book is a superb alternate history science fiction tale that grips the young adult audience from the moment that Justin is trapped and never let's go until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced, but makes a strong condemnation of racism and war with the fractured disunited States. Beckie is a terrific protagonist who provides insight into her world with little interwoven tidbits like no one in Ohio or Virginia messes with someone carrying a passport from the superpower California. Justin is also a fine character as he tries to hide his origin while wondering who from his timeline broke the law. THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA is another winner from Harry Turtledove.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Internal Affairs-Jes Battis

Internal Affairs
Jes Battis
Ace, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020454

The Occult Special Investigators (Tess, Derrick, Lucian and Miles) head to the morgue to claim the corpse of a boy found on a nearby beach. The lad may not be human and almost definitely is not dead.

At the morgue, a demon attacks the four agents. The unit subdues the adversary capturing adult demon Basuram. They take him and the not dead boy who is the child Ru to OSI headquarters. Basuram demands they hand Ru over to him, as the High Court of the Ferid directed him to bring back the boy to face criminal charges though the demon admits he does not know what they are. However Earth is considered sanctuary so Tess, backed by her three teammates refuses to hand over Ru without further information. As she and her partners, investigate the claims Tess begins to uncover information about her own still cloudy heritage.

The latest occult special investigator Tess Corday urban fantasy (see A Flash of Hex and Inhuman Resources) is a terrific thriller as the heroine struggles with balancing her personal life with the demands of 24/7 on call duty. The story line is loaded with action from start to finish while the heroine and readers begin to learn more about whom (perhaps what is the better descriptor) Tess Corday is; while she and her teammates struggle with being in the middle of a demon fight.

Harriet Klausner

As You Wish-Gabi Stevens

As You Wish
Gabi Stevens
Tor, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780765365040

In Arcani, Regina Scott has done well for herself in spite of the fact her mother is ashamed of her lack of wizardry skills. Reggie is fine with being a Groundling although her childhood was tough as her parents tossed galas to showcase her lack of talent and sent her to an Arcani School where she was placed in special education for the gift-less. There she met her two best friends Tommy and Joy; who though Arcani have special needs.

She opened up The Star Bright Bakery in Del Mar, California after graduating from a non Arcani university and hired Tommy and Joy as her bakers. However, on her twenty-seventh birthday, the three fairy godmothers (Aunts Lily, Hyacinth and Rose) inform Reggie she is the newest godmother; not a good thing when you lack talent and when the authorities have a woman hunt for godmothers (see The Wish List for why). However, she suddenly has a different type of power while the Council is aware of her being chosen. Finally she meets Nate and Jonathan, who seem to want her.

Although fundamentally this book is Reggie’s magical coming out show with Luc the villain in pursuit, Tommy and Joy steal the stage as two Arcani with Down’s Syndrome unaware they use magic to make special pastry. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Reggie is caught in the middle of the Godmother revolt. Fans will enjoy this strong urban fantasy with a romantic subplot and a strong message involving intellectual and development disabilities as Gabi Stevens (like the author I have an IDD offspring) makes a strong case for support to the Best Buddies program.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Beholder-Connie Hall

The Beholder
Connie Hall
Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 19 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618590

A serial killing shapeshifter begins killing the residents of Brayville. Empath Nina Rainwater, who can speak with anyone living or dead, meets lion shapeshifter Kane Van Cleave. She senses that he knows and hides the identity of this predatory homicidal gleaner.

Kane believes he knows the identity of the deranged shifter killing people, but also fears Nina does too. He abducts Nina to keep her from revealing what she knows to the clan and to learn what that is. Nina realizes the insane shapeshifter who survives by sucking the life of others has to be Kane’s estranged brother, Ethan. They team up in search of Ethan while someone wants to prevent the duo from finding his sibling.

The latest Nightwalkers urban fantasy romance (see The Guardian for Nina’s sister Fala’s tale) is a wonderful tale made fresh by a villainous gleaner whose sustenance is other beings’ life force. Fast-paced from the moment Nina and Kane meet as each distrusts the other but self disdainfully desire their “opponent”. Fans will relish the hunt for a shapeshifting serial killer in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Stalker-Jenna Kernan

Ghost Stalker
Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Nocturne, May 19 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618583

Nagi the ghost ruler knows the prophecy of the still unborn twins who will one day defeat him. He wants to prevent the siblings from being born so he sends his minion of ghosts to attack Skinwalker Nicholas Chien. They injure the wolf shapeshifter.

Nick needs medical assistance so he turns to Jessie Healey the Niyanoka Dreamwalker. She has pledged to kill his kind as they threaten humanity that she protects. However, the healer in Jessie or perhaps her heart will not allow her to kill Nick; besides which they need one another to battle the growing deadly threat led by Nagi. Nick and Jessie are attracted to one another, but both know any action on their feelings is taboo by each of their respective sides.

The second Trackers paranormal romance (see Dream Stalkers) is a terrific thriller starring two likable heroes who are natural enemies in love. Nagi is a fabulous fully developed supernatural villain whose threat is palatable. The Native American mythology provides a strong base as Jessie and Nick team up to fight Nagi and their “betraying” hearts.

Harriet Klausner

Mind Storm-K.M. Ruiz

Mind Storm
K.M. Ruiz
Dunne, May 10 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312673178

Two and a half centuries have passed since the global nuclear war eradicated much of the population. The planet has not recovered from the radiation battering. However, one thing remains the same from the pre war; a small group of wealthy “registered” as the five generations of throwback purebred humanity World Court rules over the Stryker force psions who possess psi skills.

The human Serca Syndicate enlists psions like Threnody Corwin, whose telekinetic touch emits electricity. However, she is unaware that Lucas Serca is one of her kind as is his warhounds. While he hopes to free the psions and save the unregistered purebreds, the affluent begin the countdown to their escape from a dying planet by traveling to Mars.

The first tale of a post-apocalyptic duology, Mind Storm is an exhilarating science fiction thriller. As a rebellion breaks out, the purebred affluent World Court after decades of enslaving the psions and other “gene-trash” plan their planetary escape while leaving behind the remnants of mankind to die. Although the story line never digs deep into the mindset of any of the prime three groups of survivors as blood and guts flow in extraordinary amounts, fans who enjoy gory military science fiction in a future dying earth setting will want to read Mind Storm.

Harriet Klausner

Korval’s Gate-Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Korval’s Gate
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen, May 3 2011, $12.99
ISBN: 9781439134399

Plan B. As part of the Liaden rulers’ covert war against Clan Korval, the Department of the Interior hunts the heir Val Con yos’Phelium who once was a DOI Agent of Change killing machine until he met his beloved lifemate former mercenary hybrid Miri Robertson. They try to forge an alliance between his clan and her mother’s Clan Erob at a time the Yxtrang military attacks. At the same time his desperate cousin Shan yos’Galan and his lifemate Priscilla believe time has run out so they deploy Plan B.

I Dare: Fleeing the DOI hunters, Val Con and Miri have been separated. Meanwhile his cousin Shan and Priscilla search for him because they believe this is the only chance the DOI assault will have on lan Korval as the Liaden rulers offer another cousin of Val, Pat Rin yos’Phelium, leadership of the clan if he allies with them.

Newcomers to the Liaden Universe will be better suited reading the books preceding Plan B, especially Carpe Diem, which ends where Plan B begins; I Dare follows immediately after. Both reprinted tales are entertaining outer space adventures with the recurring theme of the evil empire trying to destroy the most dangerous clans so they can succeed in their plan for domination. The heroes are fully developed while Pat will prove to have depth beyond being a shallow cousin. This is an enjoyable omnibus reprint.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Scarab Path-Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Scarab Path
Adrian Tchaikovsky
PYR, Apr 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143619

The war between the aggressor Wasp Empire and the Collegium of the other states is over with a cease fire. Both sides have been devastated with many dead and a horde of wounded veterans needing assistance, but lacking funding to care for the discarded soldiers.

Cheerwell “Che” Maker struggles with the horrors of war though she was successful. Her Post Traumatic Disorder leaves her haunted and feeling displaced even at her home as her Aptness Daratyon has disappeared and assumed dead turning her into an Inapt Beetle Kinden. Her Uncle Sten, assigns her to escort academics to the bizarre city of Khanaphes, way in the beyond east as a diplomat of sorts. At the same time the Wasp Empress Seda begins her evil scheme to consolidate the power she lost during the stalemate and expand on that. Seda sends assassins to murder the one person who knows her entire plot, her former spymaster Thalric. He flees to Nem Desert where the arcane archaic city of Khanaphes lies.

The Scarab Path, the fifth Shadows of the Apt, moves away somewhat from the overt epic military fantasy of the previous four entries though their remains some large scale blood and gore battles, but is more introspective. The audience sees close and up front what the war cost even the heroes especially Che, the focus of this super story line as she evolves into an Inapt. Loaded once again yet sort of reloaded, fans will Salute the Dark opening of will relish Adrian Tchaikovsky’s new arc as an unsettled peace has come to the Lowlands.

Harriet Klausner

The Alchemist in the Shadows-Pierre Pevel

The Alchemist in the Shadows
Pierre Pevel
PYR, Apr 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN 9781616143657

French Cardinal Richelieu knows his country’s greatest threat does not come from other nations though he does not ignore their danger. The biggest risk to France’s current sovereignty is the Black Claw, a Spanish-based secret group functioning with immunity out of bigger European kingdoms.

When Italian spy La Donna offers information on a plot against the throne; the Captain La Fargue, leader of the Cardinal’s Blades, accepts her terms in the name of His Excellency. She offers to bring their lethal enemy the Alchemist from out of the shadows that conceal his deadly activities and La Donna insists she can provide details. In exchange for information France needs to keep weak King Louis XIII safe, His Excellency must grant her immunity from arrest and especially protect her from the Black Claw assassins.

The second Blades historical fantasy is a terrific blending of political intrigue in early seventeenth century France with draconic magic. The cast is powerful as each of the Blades has different personalities while their enemies especially the shadowy Alchemist seems like a perfect match. Although it helps to have read The Cardinal's Blades to better understand Pierre Pevel’s paranormal Paris, readers will enjoy this exhilarating twisting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Haven-Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd
PYR, Apr 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN 9781616143633

Regent Balthaar Arosh plans to return the Bacosh back to what it was over two centuries ago before the alien serrin of Saalshen ended the ancient system. His forces conquer Enora and Rhodaan, partially because the local populace is divided.

The Lenayin king is dead while most of the army is humiliated by how the kingdom behaved as their neighbors suffered great losses and atrocities. Unable to remain quietly in exile, Sashandra Lenayin returns to lead those soldiers ready to fight against the Regent. This divides the country in the same way the city of Tracato was split as Sasha’s brothers supported by the Verenthane join the side of the Regent.

The final battle that will determine the fate of the Bacosh is in the human border city of Jahnd in the Saalshen. However, for Sasha and her allies to repel the conquerors depends on Ilduur sending its Steel into the fight. Most of the Ilduur rejects joining the war as the mountains protect them from the battles to the north. A desperate Sasha becomes the Lenay warlord as she heads south to plead with the Ilduur to send troops.

The final A Trial of Blood and Steel political military fantasy is a super climax to a powerful saga (see Petrador and Tracato). The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the armies of both sides meet for an epic battle that will determine the future of the Bacosh. The irony of this timely saga is the humans support the Regent because he is one of their species though his objective will return them to an age of enslavement while opposing the enlightened serrin who have brought prosperity and freedoms. Besides the nearby Ipshaal River flowing with blood, this thriller is a thought provoking tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sati-Christopher Pike

Christopher Pike
Tor, Mar 29 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765331373

In the Arizona desert, blonde, blue-eyed Sati hitches a ride. Sati is very choosy with who she picks up as she sits by the side of Highway 10 West. Thus she selects long haul trucker Michael Winters, who has major personal issues.

She informs the skeptical Michael that she is God. Though he questions her sanity, Michael is unsure why but he takes the beautiful female to his Los Angeles apartment. He scornfully demands miracles, but she ignores him as she does not give sight to the blind, etc. Instead, others who meet her begin to change in her presence including his estranged family. She hosts meetings in which refreshments are served. However, when the self proclaimed deity is murdered, all who were in her circle of light realize what she did for them is bring a new hope.

This is a reprint of a delightful 1980s parable. Michael the cynic tells the tale of Sati who brings a deliverance and atonement to those who meet her. Readers of all ages will feel the light of redemption by all in Sati’s presence whether she was God or an enlightened person. Michael and others know she made a difference.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Untamed Highlander-Donna Grant

Untamed Highlander
Donna Grant
St. Martin’s, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312533472

In 1603 immortal warrior Hayden Campbell accompanied by the MacLeod clan invade Cairn Toul Mountain as part of their mop up operation to destroy the remaining Druid supporters of the evil dead Deidre. They are greeted by the eerie sight of dead Druids and one severely injured female.

They take Isla to the MacLeod castle to heal her from Deirdre’s magical assault although Hayden wants to kill her as he has other Druid droughs who sold out to the devil like Deidre did. However, this time Hayden has a personal issue as he wants Isla, but she also is the devil’s minion or as he prays is she?

The latest Dark Sword historical romantic fantasy (see Dangerous Highlander and Wicked Highlander) is a terrific tale of love and redemption. Isla knows what she wants, but Hayden is torn between the soul he sees in her eyes and his centuries old vow of destroying any Drough; Deirdre’s evil shadow makes him hesitant to love her but his heart makes him hesitant to kill her. Fast-paced, fans will relish the Grant Druidic mythology as the deep lead couple and the strong supporting cast makes this a delightful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Burning Skies-Caris Roane

Burning Skies
Caris Roane
St. Martin’s, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312533724

Endelle the nine millennia Supreme High Administrator of Second Earth keeps getting into the head of former Warrior of the Blood Marcus Amargi who quit the Guardians and left for Earth following the death of his sister Helena. However, though the vampire tells his ex boss to go home, Endelle appears in person on his bike and his Washington State home informing him that he owes her a favor and that ascended immortal Havily Morgan is not sleeping well because she sexually fantasizes making love with Marcus.

Marcus knows what Havily feels as he covets her blood. They are also in the throes of the breh-hedden mate bonding that she desires and he loathes for fear the woman meant for him could die. She wants nothing less than his full capitulation to her. At the same time, Marcus battles his need to surrender to his mate, brutal death vampire Eldon Crace wants Havily’s special blood his lethal way.

The second Guardians of Ascension vampire romantic thriller (see Ascension) is a terrific tale as the audience continues to learn more about the vampire civil war that is played out in combat and politics. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as he cannot move on pass the violent death of his sibling while though sympathetic she cannot accept anything less than his whole heart and soul. Readers will enjoy the paranormal romance, but it is the background Roane mythology that makes for a powerful entry.

Harriet Klausner

Pitch Dark-Steven Sidor

Pitch Dark
Steven Sidor
St. Martin’s, Apr 26 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312354145

In Northern Minnesota, Wyatt and Opal Larkin own and manage a small motel in trouble as the new Super 8 chain is just off the highway and being Christmas Eve in a remote part of the state, business is nonexistent. The two Larkin's always look back to two decades ago when two psychopaths entered a restaurant and started shooting. They wounded Wyatt and pregnant Opal.

Their nineteen year old son Adam runs out of gas. Slightly older Vera Coffey picks him up. She conceals from her passenger that she stole the Tartarus Stone compass to hell from Dr. Horus Whiteside. He sends his horrific horde the Pitch after her. At the motel, Vera joins the Larkin family in what probably will prove a one way ticket to hell for the foursome.

Fast paced with a frozen tundra atmosphere enhancing a sense of imminent doom, readers will enjoy this frightful horror thriller. Although readers will anticipate what next as the plot has few surprises, the suspenseful story line still grips the audience as High Noon with evil comes to a small motel in Northern Minnesota.

Harriet Klausner

Future Imperfect-K. Ryer Breese

Future Imperfect
K. Ryer Breese
Dunne, Apr 26 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312641511

Whenever seventeen years old Ade Patience is knocked out, he sees the future. He becomes addicted to his skill as he does all sorts of stunts to land unconscious. His family is concerned though his mother believes her son is part of the coming Rapture. His friends are increasingly distant as they are uncomfortable with his visions.

Two years ago Ade first saw the girl he loves Vauxhall, but has finally met her in person. However, Vauxhall conceals a secret from Ade as she sees things from her sex partners’ past during intimacy. Like her new beau, she is addicted to her power. Finally Ade must deal with her boyfriend Jimi who he has seen what becomes of his rival.

This is an intriguing thriller with a strong look at self inflicted abuse. Ade and Vauxhall are odd but fascinating characters as their relationship is as far from the norm as an outlier can be. Although Ade’s constant concussing behavior should have caused much more long term physical damage (as quarterbacks and boxers know) and consequently led to a strait jacket by family and school intervening, readers will enjoy his banging his head against solid objects and Vauxhall.

Harriet Klausner

The Season of Passage-Christopher Pike

The Season of Passage
Christopher Pike
Tor, Mar 29 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765331298

In 1996, an unmanned probe landed on Mars. The vessel sent back incredible data including unexplained gigantic footprints. The ship abruptly went dead.

In 2000 the Russian sent vessel the Lenin goes to Mars, but also suddenly loses contact with earth. In 2002 an American crew, lands on Mars. They are greeted by a shocker as a cosmonaut remains alive inside freezing Lenin while the ship orbits the planet. The Russian has no pulse and responds in an odd manner with a strange permanent grin to questions from the Americans including medical officer Dr. Lauren Wagner. The Russian escorts the Americans to the surface. While her older sister in on the Angry Red Planet, thirteen year old Jennifer writes a story about Princess Chaneen, an Asuiran goddess, who has ties to what her sibling encounters on Mars. The Martian expedition is disastrous with Lauren and one other astronaut coming home while Jennifer is dead and interred yet Chaneen apparently lives.

This is a reprint of an early 1990 thriller that deftly crosses science fiction and fantasy. The story line rotates between the two subplots until the Mars return leads to a confrontational convergence. With a sort of historiographical feel to the tale as a note points out that the novel is based on scientific knowledge of the 1970s, readers will relish Christopher Pike’s gripping suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 22, 2011

Awaken the Highlander-Anita Clenney

Awaken the Highlander
Anita Clenney
Sourcebooks, May 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402251238

On her family estate near Albany, New York, Bree Kirkland opens a graveyard vault. Inside is Faelen who claims he belongs to an ancient Scottish warrior clan whose mission is to protect humanity from demons. He explains that Druan the demon incarcerated him back in 1860 in this tomb. Her clothing and her fighting spirit surprises him as he has no history of a female like her; his reaction matches his wearing a kilt stunning her.

Meanwhile Druan plans to release a virus to eradicate humanity. Based on his description of the enemy, Bree believes her former fiancé, who is acting strange, may be Druan. Faelen and Bree team up to prevent an extinction event from happening even as they fall in love, a taboo by his clan.

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy as the twenty-first century feisty female stuns the highlander she has awakened with her wardrobe and attitude. The story line is fast-paced and filled with exciting twists. The couple’s reactions to each other make for an entertaining save the world thriller, as Bree and Faelen united by love take on the diabolical Druan the demon with the stake being the human race.

Harriet Klausner

The Legend of Michael-Lisa Renee Jones

The Legend of Michael
Lisa Renee Jones
Sourcebooks, May 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402251566

At Area 51, deploying the mission of top secret Project Zodius, the military inject alien DNA into two hundred specially selected special ops soldiers in order to turn them into super soldiers. They become a super race superior in every sense than the humans they were once a part of.

General Powell sends his daughter psychiatrist Cassandra to evaluate the GTECH for mental stability. She and Michael Taylor meet and instantly lifebond. However, Michael fears what their mating would do to his lifebond so he tries to keep her from joining him. Soon the GTECHS divide into two distinct enemy groups; the Zodius and the Renegades. Now Michael must keep his beloved safe from the nasty Zodius.

With a nod to Captain America, Lisa Renee Jones provides a great Area 51 romantic military fantasy. The action-packed story line grips the reader from the moment the lead couple meet in “The First Time Ever I saw Your Face” (by Ewan MacColl) moment and never slows down. Fans will enjoy the opening act of Project Zodius as the Super Soldiers split into two adversarial groups with one wanting to dominate the inferior humans and the other protect the inferior humans.

Harriet Klausner

Wickedly Charming-Kristine Grayson

Wickedly Charming
Kristine Grayson
Sourcebooks, May 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402248481

Prince Charming and Cinderella are divorced with the former owning and running a bookstore under the name of Dave Encanto. As a single dad he raises their two offspring far from the fairy tale happily ever after life of a royal in the Third Kingdom as the people blamed him for the split with Ella.

Also in exile from the Third Kingdom is Mellie who is upset with being stereotyped as evil because she happens to be a stepmother whose life was ruined by rumors of her abusing her stepdaughter Snow White. Angry with the injustice caused by those mean spirited Grimm brothers for her and her cohorts, she goes to a book fair to protest the lying portrayal of her and other stepmothers as malicious malevolent; she wants her Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight moment as the vampires have recently been redeemed. Mellie and Charming (along with his distrusting daughters) meet; he offers to help her write the true story of her and Snow White. Neither expected an attraction to spring up between them.

This is an amusing satirical take on images, public spins, and the publishing industry as Kristine Grayson provides a charming “fractured fairy tale” that the late Jay Ward would have enjoyed. Filled with jocularity, a clever romance, and an Imp of a child (and her sister) fearing the evil stepmother, fans will enjoy what happens following the happily ever after classic fairy tales; in this addition it does not guarantee a happy ending.

Harriet Klausner

Wickedly Charming-Kristine Grayson

Wickedly Charming
Kristine Grayson
Sourcebooks, May 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402248481

Prince Charming and Cinderella are divorced with the former owning and running a bookstore under the name of Dave Encanto. As a single dad he raises their two offspring far from the fairy tale happily ever after life of a royal in the Third Kingdom as the people blamed him for the split with Ella.

Also in exile from the Third Kingdom is Mellie who is upset with being stereotyped as evil because she happens to be a stepmother whose life was ruined by rumors of her abusing her stepdaughter Snow White. Angry with the injustice caused by those mean spirited Grimm brothers for her and her cohorts, she goes to a book fair to protest the lying portrayal of her and other stepmothers as malicious malevolent; she wants her Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight moment as the vampires have recently been redeemed. Mellie and Charming (along with his distrusting daughters) meet; he offers to help her write the true story of her and Snow White. Neither expected an attraction to spring up between them.

This is an amusing satirical take on images, public spins, and the publishing industry as Kristine Grayson provides a charming “fractured fairy tale” that the late Jay Ward would have enjoyed. Filled with jocularity, a clever romance, and an Imp of a child (and her sister) fearing the evil stepmother, fans will enjoy what happens following the happily ever after classic fairy tales; in this addition it does not guarantee a happy ending.

Harriet Klausner

City of the Snakes-Darren Shan

City of the Snakes
Darren Shan
Grand Central, Jun 2 2011, $21.99
ISBN: 9780446573474

The City has been ruled by the Cardinal, but with his death Capac Raimi became in charge with one difference from his late predecessor; he cannot be killed. Capac is not human; instead he is an Ayuamarcans created by The Cardinal abd capac is reanimated after each death. This is of little interest to Al Jeery, who is unconcerned with the blind Villac Inca priests living in the underground beneath the City though they control the Ayuamamcans. He has one interest to find and kill Bill Casey.

Bill killed the woman he wanted as well other people who meant something to Al. For a decade he lives for revenge. To draw Bill out, he dresses as the cold blooded killer Paucar Wami who happens to be his father and involved with the Incas. Al leads the gang that created the snakes that are part of the Inca’s magic. The plan is to create guerilla warfare in order to cause hostilities to force open warfare. When the City calms down, the Villac will be in control and take charge. Having dealt with Bill, Al can leave The City, but feels obligated defeat the Incas.

The third City thriller (see hell’s Horizon and Procession of the Dead) is an enjoyable but extremely dark and bloody fantasy as people use horrific power to create, destroy, and resurrect lives. Al is a reluctant hero who seeks redemption when he makes his mind up to move past revenge and takes on the puppeteers as he risks his life to try to liberate +The City.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sophia-D.B. Reynolds

D.B. Reynolds
ImaJinn, Apr 8 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781610260497

Her sire Lucien urgently orders Sophia to come to Vancouver. She leaves her home in Rio immediately and flies to Toronto where she connects on flight to Vancouver, British Columbia. There Lucien’s lieutenant in name only Darren informs her that their sire has vanished, but left behind an explanatory letter and a picture of three murdered vampires for her.

Former Navy SEAL Colin Murphy works security in Cooper’s Rest, just north of Seattle. Over a decade ago, he and Sophia were lovers. He learns that someone is murdering vampires and torturing their mates. He and Sophia unite to end the psychopath’s killing spree. Coming to the Pacific Northwest from Malibu also seeking the murderer is Vampire Lord Raphael accompanied by his mate Cyn. Raphael is raging as two of the dead vampires (Marco and Preston) are his offspring. The four team up as a predator must be stopped.

Besides the return of stars from the previous Vampires in America urban fantasy (see Raphael, Jabril and Rajmund), Sophia is a refreshing Undead as she is confident in her power, but instead of being Lucien’s lieutenant prefers her layback lifestyle in South America (or does she?). Her only weakness is courageous Colin who is human but not afraid to confront danger or vampires; especially a Brazilian beauty. With a strong whodunit and several surprising twists, readers will relish the latest entry though perhaps the series title should now be Vampires in the Western Hemisphere as D.B. Reynolds has started to go global.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bound by Darkness-Alexis Morgan

Bound by Darkness
Alexis Morgan
Pocket, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439176047

Since fleeing his world along with others, Kalith warrior Larem has struggled to adapt to this new realm though he has forged friendships with a few of the Paladin warriors who protect this dimension from the dark. At the same time, daughter of a Regent, Sasha Willis’ ambition is to break the gender barrier by becoming the first female Regent.

She has an opportunity to prove herself by cleaning up the fiasco caused by the seditious Kincaide in Seattle. She also sees this assignment as a chance to line up the support of the city’s Paladins. However, she is extremely unhappy with the exiled Kalith in town and that several have befriended the Paladins. When she meets Larem, Sasha finds her racism challenged as she is attracted to the alien. Still some want the glass ceiling to remain in place and the Kalith cleansed from earth; so they target Sasha from completing her task even if that means killing her and her new protector.

The seventh Paladin urban fantasy (see Defeat the Darkness) is a terrific thriller as betrayal leaves the heroine and her new defender in deep trouble and not just from the Others. Sasha makes the exciting story line work as she learns not to stereotype a race when she begins to first trust and then love not hate Larem as he risks his life to keep her safe from deadly assaults. This is another winner in an enthralling dark saga.

Harriet Klausner

Heaven's Needle-Liane Merciel

Heaven's Needle
Liane Merciel
Pocket, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439159163

In 1218 the Dome of the Sun high priest sends two Illuminer tyros to Carden Vale, at the foothills of Duradh Mal. Their mission is a simple religious ritual. Mourning the loss of her sister, Asharre the warrior with runes on her visage protects the two Blessed. However, evil from beneath the ruins of the mountain fortress has awakened.

Kelland the Sun Knight knows his beloved Bitharn the archer freed his inner power. He accompanies the Spider’s mentee Malentir the Thornlord mage of pain as they head to Duradh Mal. However, something goes wrong and Kelland is incarcerated in the Ang’arta dungeon. To rescue her loved one, Bitharn needs the help of the pain mage, Malentir, but that means the treason of liberating him from Cailan’s tightest prison Heaven's Needle. None are aware that after six centuries of dormancy, the Mad God Maor is arising.

The second Ithelas fantasy (see The River Kings' Road) is a super thriller as the key players face ethics issues that challenge their values when they must decide whether the end justifies the means. For instance Bitharn understands she commits treason but the release of darkest magic awakens the aptly named Mad God so she ponders what other choice she has. Loaded with action, fans will relish this thought provoking look at the relativity of good and evil based on what the person’s beliefs, baggage and situation are. With threads still lingering readers should expect a return to the Merciel mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Soul Song-Marjorie M. Liu

Soul Song
Marjorie M. Liu
Avon, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062019905

Violinist Kitala Bell has always run away from her curse of seeing the future as her visions are always that of violent death. She escapes her vivid nightmarish foresight by burying herself in music and never staying on one place. She always performs to different audiences in differing locations nightly. However, her music fails to keep away the vision of a knife in the head of an unfortunate woman sitting in the front row of the Queen Elizabeth Theater.

Kitala tries to warn this Alice and her companion Uncle John, but instead learns why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The cops want her, but not for questioning instead they want her dead as she knows too much. At the same time that Kitala is attacked by landlubbers, a soul eating witch sends her imprisoned M'cal the Krackeni merman to use his song to capture the powerful soul of the violinist. Instead M’cal watching Kitala perform is spellbound by her music and knows he cannot steal the soul of his soulmate and live. He risks all defying his “owner” and her enchantment because he believes in the magical music of the love he shares with Kitala

The reprint of a 2007 Dirk & Steele thriller (see EYE OF HEAVEN, TIGER EYE, SHADOW TOUCH, and THE RED HEART OF JADE) is a fabulous romantic suspense fantasy that will hook the audience from the first note to the incredible climatic coda. The fast-paced story line contains two interesting protagonists who are united by love and music as they battle police, a malevolent witch, and much more while trying to stay alive

Harriet Klausner

Ascension-Sable Grace

Sable Grace
Avon, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061964404

The Order of Ancients directs Vampyre-Lychen hybrid Dark Breed Kyana the Tracer to go on a mission that will close the recently opened portal from hell. Although she loathes the vicious mortals who have abused her and still scorn her for being a Dark Breed even with eight decades of loyal service, she knows her duty comes before her disdain so she must prevent the Dark Breed from coming to earth.

Kyana fumes that the Order teams her up with demigod warrior Ryker as they have a horrific history between them. The duo soon finds an archaic cult with dangerous plans and an ancient god scheming to destroy the mortal plane first. Kyana and Ryker are attracted to one another, but ignore their feelings as the mission comes first.

Although the heroine is a stereotype of the overused kick butt female, her sidekick brings out the feminine side of Kyana without diluting the mission. Besides the powerful lead duet, the support cast makes the Grace urban fantasy landscape seem real. The fast-paced story line is loaded with action and tension as twists enhance a strong opening thriller while setting up the next spin in the Grace mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 18, 2011

Twilight Prophecy-Maggie Shayne

Twilight Prophecy
Maggie Shayne
Mira, Apr 19 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329800

Twins James and Brigit Poe are hybrid human-vampire with the latter being the more prevalent. As far as they know they are a unique freak of nature. Each shares much in common, but also possesses different skills.

The siblings believe that everything and everyone has a purpose and theirs has to do with preventing the extinction of the Undead race. James and Brigit feel the answer lies with archeologist Dr. Lucy Lanfair, a Chosen One who can turn into a vampire. As the annihilation predicted by an ancient prophecy seems imminent and war between species likely, Lucy is abducted as her kidnappers want her to take them to James. However, instead Lucy and James end up teaming up to use his healing skill in what he thought was an amoral way and what the reluctant professor did not know she possessed to resurrect the five millennium dead Utanapishtim in a desperate attempt to prevent species cleansing.

It is highly recommended newcomers read at least the Children of Twilight saga of the Wings in the Night fantasy series (see Prince of Twilight, TWILIGHT HUNGER and EMBRACE THE TWILIGHT) to fully savor the bite of this superior paranormal tale. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as James wonders if he is letting out the genie who will fulfill the prophesy and destroy the Undead while Lucy the scholar wants nothing to do with this dangerous field work. Readers will enjoy this engaging entry, which sets up nicely the next confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

The Company Man-Robert Jackson Bennett

The Company Man
Robert Jackson Bennett
Orbit, Apr 11 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780316054706

By 1919, Evesdon, Washington is the headquarters of the McNaughton Western Foundry Corp. The firm is the world’s mot powerful company due to the technological genius of the late Lawrence Kulahee. Countries bow to McNaughton or face the threat of losing their needed products.

However, the fishing village of Evesdon has not easily turned into a Puget Sound mega-metropolis. Pollution and homicide are major byproducts of the industrial growth. When a John Doe is pulled from a canal, EPD police detective Garvey asks McNaughton security operative Cyril Hayes to assist. Hayes is already investigating industrial sabotage that many believe the active union movement is behind. He wonders if the dead floater is a McNaughton employee, a union grunt or nobody of importance. Samantha Fairbanks is assigned to keep Hayes clean as he works the investigation because the agent is addicted to opium and alcohol. Hayes has paranormal telepathic skills with individuals he knows, which may come in handy as those working the machines insist the machinery talks.

Putting aside the homage to Holmes, The Company Man is a timely dark gripping alternative historical investigative thriller. Each of the lead trio is fully developed, but Hayes is the one who stands out. Ironically the two males who have seen the worst of humanity cherish their still innocent female partner. Although the story line starts slow as Robert Jackson Bennett establishes his polluted world, readers will enjoy a walk on the darkest side with a flicker of hope throughout.

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Storm-Lee Driver

Fatal Storm
Lee Driver
Full Moon Publication, Apr 11 2011, $16.95
ISBN: 9780984635719

Nineteen year old Sara Morningsky is a beautiful shapeshifter who can turn into a falcon and a wolf. Her grandmother insured she would be looked after; choosing private investigator Chase Dagger to watch over the innocent teen who has no concept of how ugly the world is. Together the pair has solved supernatural cases; while Chase fights his feeling although he knows deep in his soul he loves Sara as adult to adult and not parent or big brother to a child.

Four paranormal investigators are staying overnight in an allegedly haunted mansion near Cedar Point, Indiana when a storm breaks out. By morning, three remain as reporter Sheila Monroe vanished. On the grounds, a body of a man who disappeared over a year ago is found. However, instead of having the look of a person who vanished fourteen months ago, he appears to have left yesterday as his tattoo is still healing and his stomach contains the food he ate hours before he disappeared. Sara and Chase had been looking for that man so they decide to stay overnight to ascertain what is going on. A storm is heading their way and with it will be shockers for those occupying the house.

The fifth Chase Dagger thriller (see Chasing Ghosts and The Good Die Twice) deftly blends mystery and fantasy inside a haunted house horror tale. Sara has matured since joining Chase and he no longer considers her a person who needs his protection as she has proven she possesses strength and fortitude. Chase has changed too since he became Sara’s guardian. Their relationship metamorphosis enhances a taut Hoosier haunted house story.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Phoenix Rising-Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Phoenix Rising
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Harper Voyager, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062049766

In London, someone abducts the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences archivist Wellington Thornhill Books. Field Agent Eliza Braun rescues him from his Antarctic prison.

However, though she gets the job done, the MPO leadership decides Braun uses too much brawn with her excessive collateral damage and Books thinks the archives is his personal library. Ministry Director Dr. Sound finds a subtle solution to his two problem children. He assigns Braun to work for Books. However, her work there leads her back to her first cold case Rag and Bone Murders that left her partner insane. This quickly takes the operative and the archivist into uncovering a nefarious plot by the House of Usher. Filled with sound and fury, the Director will learn sometimes you get what you wish for.

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk fantasy is a fun tale starring a gender bending couple with apt surnames of Book and Braun. The story line starts with a big bang at their first encounter and remains loaded with action; but some scenes seem more like cul de sac additions. As the lead pair struggle to survive one escapade after another with the help of cute Oliver Twist kids, fans will enjoy their dysfunctional exploits.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Warrior-Susan Grant

The Last Warrior
Susan Grant
Harlequin HQN, Apr 19 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775422

In Tassagonia, the people recognize their savior is General Uhr-Tao, who defeated the brutal Gorr. War weary, the honorable hero comes home wanting peace and tranquility, and to spend time with his sister Aza who is married to King Xim and their children.

The Kurel study diligently the forbidden ancient disciplines of science and medicine. One of them Elsabeth has vowed to kill King Xim for murdering her parents so she joins a group of dissidents wanting the monarch replaced. She obtains a position as the royal tutor. There she meets Tao, who knows his brother-in-law and his dangerous retinue are hurting the people of Tassagonia.

Known for her science fiction romances (see Your Planet or Mine?) Susan Grant provides a terrific outer space adventure starring a war hero and a tutor. The people are descendants of lost Earth travelers with much of the technology to span the stars long gone; this is a critical element as the protagonists come from a vast divide on the use of science and medicine. Readers will relish the tour of Tassagonia as the action never stops with suspense and romance mounting.

Harriet Klausner

Forever Vampire-Michele Hauf

Forever Vampire
Michele Hauf
Harlequin HQN, Apr 19 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775729

Vaillant the pureblood vampire lives for one thing only; the death at his hands of his father Constantine de Salignac. His sire incarcerated his mother inside a glass coffin for two centuries driving her insane. Meanwhile Vail’s life in Faery has been one of misery so when he is exiled by the Lord of Midsummer Darkness he is unconcerned.

Vail’s stepfather Rhys Hawkes offers him a deal. He wants Vail to locate and bring to him Lyric, daughter of the Santiago vampiric thieves, and the special dress she wears. If he succeeds Hawkes will give him his father’s location. Vail begins his quest with youthful vigor and ignorance; unaware that the powerful Lord of Midsummer Darkness seeks the girl and her powerful gown too.

This is a superb romantic fantasy as the two protagonists share in common a desire for freedom and justice though there definitions of the terms vastly differ. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Vail begins his hunt and accelerates when the pair meets as the adventures are just beginning. Readers will enjoy Michele Hauf’s tense Forever Vampire.

Harriet Klausner

Haven-Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd
PYR, Apr 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN 9781616143633

Regent Balthaar Arosh plans to return the Bacosh back to what it was over two centuries ago before the alien serrin of Saalshen ended the ancient system. His forces conquer Enora and Rhodaan, partially because the local populace is divided.

The Lenayin king is dead while most of the army is humiliated by how the kingdom behaved as their neighbors suffered great losses and atrocities. Unable to remain quietly in exile, Sashandra Lenayin returns to lead those soldiers ready to fight against the Regent. This divides the country in the same way the city of Tracato was split as Sasha’s brothers supported by the Verenthane join the side of the Regent.

The final battle that will determine the fate of the Bacosh is in the human border city of Jahnd in the Saalshen. However, for Sasha and her allies to repel the conquerors depends on Ilduur sending its Steel into the fight. Most of the Ilduur rejects joining the war as the mountains protect them from the battles to the north. A desperate Sasha becomes the Lenay warlord as she heads south to plead with the Ilduur to send troops.

The final A Trial of Blood and Steel political military fantasy is a super climax to a powerful saga (see Petrador and Tracato). The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the armies of both sides meet for an epic battle that will determine the future of the Bacosh. The irony of this timely saga is the humans support the Regent because he is one of their species though his objective will return them to an age of enslavement while opposing the enlightened serrin who have brought prosperity and freedoms. Besides the nearby Ipshaal River flowing with blood, this thriller is a thought provoking tale.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Vampire Dimitri-Colleen Gleason

The Vampire Dimitri
Colleen Gleason
Mira, Apr 19 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329824

Charles Woodmore vanishes leaving his sisters to seek help from their guardian, Dimitri the Earl of Corvindale. However, Dimitri is irate with the demanding tone of the note Charles’ sister Maia sends to him. He wishes they would be like all the females of the London aristocracy and just attend balls as simpering females. Instead the sisters interfere with Dimitri’s plan to rescue Chas as their ringleader Maia is foolishly brave; she finds her guardian arrogant and aloof.

However, Dimitri knows he wants his mortal houseguest, but is elated she is to marry someone else. Maia is appalled that she is attracted to Dimitri when she is betrothed to someone else. As their desire grows, Dimitri realizes Maia is in peril, but he cannot get her to back off so he must keep her safe.

The second Regency Dracula romantic fantasy (see The Vampire Voss) is an exciting tale due to the changing relationship between the lead pair. The story line is at its best when the plot remains in tense 1804 London; when the tale looks back too frequently, some of the “current day” tautness is lost although in fairness those flashbacks enhance the Gleason vampire mythos. Readers will enjoy this entertaining thriller as the market price for love is a soul.

Harriet Klausner

The Restorer-Amanda Stevens

The Restorer
Amanda Stevens
Mira, Apr 19 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329817

Amelia Gray was nine years old when she saw her first ghost while raking leaves with her father at the cemetery he was caretaker of. Her dad told her to never look at them. She became a cemetery restorer, but though she could see ghosts, she adhered to her father’s strict rules.

Charleston PD Detective John Devlin accompanied by the ghosts of a woman and a little girl approaches Amelia. He is unaware that his late wife and daughter haunt him. The haunted looking Devlin explains Emerson College Dr. Camille Ashby sent him to see her. The cop wants to look at the photos she took last week at Oak Grove Cemetery where the corpse of a battered female was found. The headstone provides clues to the serial killer, but only Amelia can interpret them. However, she does not want to get involved as she knows if she does, she will break a rule and have to deal with the two female family ghosts siphoning his energy to remain anchored here.

This is a great urban fantasy whodunit that makes ghosts feel real because of the heroine. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action that grips the reader from the moment Devlin accosts a reluctant Amelia and never slows until a ring is placed as a thank you. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the first dark yet somehow hopeful Graveyard Queen as everyone will affirm they believe in ghosts.

Harriet Klausner

Almost Final Curtain-Tate Hallaway

Almost Final Curtain
Tate Hallaway
NAL, May 3 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9781101514276

Her mom the witch raised Anastasija Parker in St. Paul. Ana assumed her father was a deadbeat dad. On her sixteenth birthday, Ana learned the truth about her sire the vampire king (see Almost to Die For). Her father demands she sit by his side while her mother wants her to remain at home with her.

The confused hybrid learns her blood lines loath each other; wishing the other species a speedy painful death. Complicating her convoluted life is two males who claim her as respectively theirs; Ingress lead singer Nik Kirov the apprentice vampire hunter in training and Elias Constantine her vampire knight betrothed. Ana wants to return to the normalcy of being a Stassen High School student so she tries for a part in the spring musical. Instead she is caught in the middle once again when a powerful ancient artifact is stolen from the Minnesota Historical Society that if deployed would make half of her DNA enslaved to the other half of her DNA.

The latest Vampire Princess urban fantasy (see Almost to Die For) is a wonderful tale due to Ana who has come a long way in a short time; now that she accepts she will not be a True Witch in her mom’s coven, but has doubts about sitting on the vamp throne. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the heroine tames the most treacherous dangerous in the wild species on the planet: the male while also trying to insure a sort of status quo between her two races. Old students will enjoy touring Minnesota escorted by Ana and her retinue in this delightful fantasy version of High School Musical and the Princess Diaries.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 15, 2011

Darkfire Kiss-Deborah Cooke

Darkfire Kiss
Deborah Cooke
Signet, May 3 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233493

Pyr Rafferty Powell and his enemy Slayer Magnus Montmorency are in a death struggle. Rafferty vows this is the last time as he searches for Magnus. However, Rafferty is taken aback when he observes a mortal female break into the home of his adversary.

In 2010 in DC, as she visits the morgue human reporter Melissa Smith is irate with a need for vengeance against Magnus the arms dealer. She believes he arranged for the murder of her source Daphne. However, Melissa is taken aback when she observes two dragons in mortal combat as Magnus and Rafferty battle one another. As she takes photos of the fight, her arrival and subsequent touch liberate Rafferty’s Firestorm, of which the fire is the ancient darkfire.

The sixth Dragonfire “Kiss” romantic urban paranormal continues the countdown war between the dragon shifting species the human protector Pyrs and the human (and Pyr) genocidal Slayers. The action-packed storyline grips the audience from the first coin exchange and never slows down as the fight heats up between the adversaries while the human turns the linear combat into a triangle. Although newcomers would be better off reading the previous entries (see Winter Kiss and Whisper Kiss), fans will relish Rafferty finding his muse.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior Betrayed-Addison Fox

Warrior Betrayed
Addison Fox
Signet, May 3 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233851

When Montana Grant was a child her mom vanished. With the death of her father, Montana inherits his shipping business. As she runs the firm, her mother suddenly comes home sounding insane with her babbling about curses and immortal warriors as well as insisting Mount Olympus exists.

An adversary threatens to kill Montana and destroy the firm, but security specialist Quinn Tanner, a Taurus Warrior, rescues her. He vows to keep her safe, but is unsure from who and why. He loves Montana, who he believes possesses the information that would give them the motive and consequently the wannabe killer. However, if he tells her he is a Taurus Warrior and what her destiny is due in part to a maternal grandparent’s curse, he will probably lose her for eternity.

The third Zodiac romantic fantasy (see Warrior Ascended and Warrior Avenged) is a terrific tale due to a wonderful lead coupling of a modern day hybrid female and a warrior born in BC Greece. The story line is fast-paced with global peace and her future at stake superseding the romantic subplot. Readers will appreciate the Fox mythos as the Capricorn heroine learns of her fate while falling in love with her Taurus protector.

Harriet Klausner

Demon Hunting in Dixie-Lexi George

Demon Hunting in Dixie
Lexi George
Kensington Brava, May 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758263094

In Hannah, Alabama florist Addy Corwin has a bit of a problem. A demon has branded her as his. Out of seemingly thin air, a hunk appears carrying a flaming sword. Brand the demon hunting Dalvahni rescues Addy and her dog Dooley.

Brand may be from another dimension, but he is not the only weirdness Addy encounters. Her dog is now a linguist and a cat streaks through the air. Furthermore the town has a horde of demons and other non-humans, none seemingly football fans. With Brand at her side and accompanied by her best friend Evie and his fellow warrior Ansgar. they begin cleaning the town of the ugly plague.

Demon Hunting in Dixie is an engaging satirical romantic urban fantasy that stars strong somewhat stereotypical lead protagonists and a solid support cast. The different mental wiring between an earth female and a Dalvahni male leads to humorous misunderstandings as the gap is much further than Men from Mars and Women from Venus. When the story line focuses on the romance or demon removal, the tale is at its best. Though there are too many subplots, fans will enjoy a visit to demon cleansing in Alabama

Harriet Klausner

Big Bad Beast-Shelly Laurenston

Big Bad Beast
Shelly Laurenston
Kensington Brava, May 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231703

Alpha male Niles Van Holtz accompanied by his six year old cousin Ric meets with the paternal leader of the Tennessee Smith pack Egbert Ray Smith. Eggie warns his ten years old daughter Dee Ann to avoid the sneaky Van Holtz clan. Van stops Ric from proposing.

Twenty-five years later, Ric is a former marine and Dee Ann’s boss at the Group. He is also a highly regarded executive chef. Van arranged a joint venture with Katzenhaft Security to look into the illegal use of hybrids in fight arenas. Dee Ann is unhappy when the KZS representative is six foot ex marine Cella Malone. NYPD full human Detective Desiree MacDermot, the third member of the team, breaks up the bare knuckle brawl between the two other females.

Dee Ann gets a list of property owners where fights were held. She and her partners interview those on the list. When she is hurt beating up some hyenas, Ric takes her to his apartment where they fight until Dee Ann kisses him. His wolf knows she is his mate, but she refuses to accept that. Ric looks at finance records that prove his father is stealing from the pack. As the couple works their respective cases, Dee Ann fears she is falling for Ric.

The lead couple is a fun pairing of an in your face woman and a subtle man. The support cast is strong including the returns of lead characters from previous three books in series. Although the climax is weak especially for a Shelly Laurenston’s romantic urban fantasy, readers will appreciate this engaging entry as the issues faced by hybrids do not magically clear up.

Harriet Klausner

The Amazon Legion-Tom Kratman

The Amazon Legion
Tom Kratman
Baen, Mar 29 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439134269

Patricio Carrera gained revenge against the Salafi Ikhwan terrorists who slaughtered his first wife and their children. Living on his deceased wife’s planet Balboa, he became Duque of the Legion del Cid mercenaries and took a second spouse Lourdes. Together they have several children.

Independent Balboa’s enemy the Tauran Union controls the critical Transitway between Terra Nova and Earth. Additionally the nuclear armed United Earth Peace Fleet orbits Carrerra’s adopted planet. A second war seems imminent, but Balboa lacks the manpower and armaments to match the strength of their adversary. In fact with recruitment down considerably, Carrerra needs a new source for combat, which can only be the planet’s female population. Thus he creates the Tercio Amazona Regiment.

The fourth A Desert Called Peace science fiction thriller (see Carnifax and The Lotus Eater) is a unique entry as there is no incredible military heroics and glory for the future history books; but instead the story line focuses on female grunts trained as lionesses preparing to defend their cubs at personal cost. The stars are the M and M warriors Maria and Marta who tell much of the tale as they learn to fight ruthlessly towards the enemy but compassion for their side. Readers who appreciate a deep look at preparing for war against much more powerful foes will enjoy Tom Kratman’s deep homage to what a soldier sacrifices.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jace-Sarah McCarty

Sarah McCarty
Berkley, May 3 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425240892

Vampire Jace Johnson returns home to find his werewolf mate Miri missing. For the next year he desperately searches for her until he locates his beloved in Sanctuary. However, an abusive vampire attacked her and conducted all types of tests on her werewolf form. Her abuser extracted the warm caring side of Miri.

She makes it clear to her mate and rescuer, she has one objective: to locate her daughter he never knew he sired. Their quest is hammered with horrific hardships as the respective species of each wants this pair separated as both sides believe vampires and werewolves are an unnatural match. However, the worst offenders come from her D’Nally clan although to her the hardest test is when Jace asks her to take care of someone else’s baby.

The latest Shadow Wranglers Texas fantasy (see Jared and Caleb) is an intriguing tale due to Miri’s doubts and hesitations towards her soulmate who had treated her with love and respect before she was abused. That element brings a psychological reality to a complex story line containing several subplots and a seemingly horde of paranormal Texans. Series fans will enjoy the reunion of Jace and Mira; as the tough vampire must go slow and be tender and nurturing with his beloved emotionally fraught, fragile and forlorn werewolf spouse.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Pack-Jason Starr

The Pack
Jason Starr
Ace, Jun 7 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441020089

In New York City, Simon Burns expects a promotion as a senior account executive when his boss Tom Harrison says he needs to talk to him. Thus he was unprepared to be fired as he saw no warning idiot lights. To make matters worse, Tom refuses to either speak any further to him nor explain why. Fuming over his boss’ slight, at his family’s Manhattan apartment, he informs his wife Alison who’s not the least bit upset with his news. Instead she tells him to be a stay at home house-husband raising their toddler.

Neither Simon nor Jeremy seem to fit in at the various playgrounds they go to except one in Battery Park. There he meets Michael the leader, Charlie the fireman and Roman; they have a tight pack but welcome Simon and Jeremy. One night Simon visits Michael’s loft, but wakes up in Mendleham, New Jersey. He does not remember a thing after drinking beer at Michael’s place, but feels stronger and has a much more powerful sense of smell. On the day he awakens on the other side of the Hudson, a wolf mauled Tom. Michael has the pack as his alibi Michael invites his friends to his loft for steak and suds. Michael’s father explains to him what will happen if he goes, but he fears his friend is too strong for him.

This is an unusual fascinating horror thriller starring a milquetoast who becomes a virile stud. Alison believes she knows what is going on, but her theory proves wrong as the sense of foreboding grows while the secrets of the pack are slowly provided to readers. Mindful of a younger Jack Nicholson’s Will Randall in Wolf, Simon is easy to understand as a likable person who goes from outsider to insider when the joins the Battery Park Pack, but fears he may harm his beloved wife and son.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fang Me-Parker Blue

Fang Me
Parker Blue
Bell Bridge (Belle Books), Mar 14 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781611940121

In San Antonio, every paranormal species wants to possess Encyclopedia Magicka. Especially pushing for ownership are the enemy combatants vampires and demons as the side that has the tome has an incredible edge in the hostilities between them. Both opponents will kill anyone who gets in their retrieval path.

Val Shapiro the vampire hunter known by those she kills as Slayer and her sidekick Fang the canine understand what the Encyclopedia Magicka means to the underworld foes. They need to obtain the arcane book before the wrong hands destroy the city with it. Val distrusts her side as much as she does the vampires as she is well aware the spells are hard to resist since she owned the book inherited from her demon sire until someone stole it. While in search of the thief, Val struggles to contain her attraction to Shade the shadow demon as the cost of surrender may be too high while Lola the lust teen demon inside her wants him.

The latest Demon Underground urban fantasy (see Try Me and Bite Me) is an entertaining thriller that readers will enjoy as the heroine seems to step into one problem after another. The fun story line is fast-paced with a nod to Buffy and Angel. Fans will enjoy this “Blue” tour of San Antonio escorted the courageous lead trio.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stormy Knight-Shannon Duffy and John Zakour

Stormy Knight
Shannon Duffy and John Zakour
Blue Leaf Publications, May 28 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780975509593

She does not drink blood and she can go out in the sunlight, but otherwise she has all the powers of her mother Candi, the Vampire Queen. She can also spell-cast thanks to the magic of her father who has a spark for it. Stormy Knight tries to live as a human, but she lapses at times especially when her archenemy Rosie does something to harm her or friends or people in general.

Rosie is determined to be the prom queen and Stormy who has been nominated asks to withdraw as a candidate. She starts seeing ghosts, the first one a boy Jack who appears in her classroom. He pleads with her to kill him so he can return to where he was. On Prom Night, Stormy is at a bowling alley with her friend Marie when the ghost of the former librarian Ms. Snider appears. She tells Stormy that she has to go to the prom because something terrible will happen if she does not stop a magic user from carrying out his plan. Stormy rushes to the school, but fears she will be too late to prevent a tragedy.

With a nod to Buffy, this whimsical chick-lit urban fantasy is an entertaining tale due to the heroine who wants to live life as an ordinary teen, but fate keeps forcing her to use her paranormal skills to perform good deeds. She shares the same problems as any teen supplemented by tsuris due to what she can see with her third eye and has a sixth sense that works overtime. A quirky support cast, a reluctant heroine and a spell caster who doesn’t know the consequences of his actions makes this a character driven charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eona-Alison Goodman

Alison Goodman
Viking, Apr 19 2011, $19.99
ISBN: 9780670063116

To the shock of everyone Eon the novice proves to be a female; the first dragoneye of that gender in centuries. The ten other dragoneye except Eona and Lord Ido were massacred after being betrayed by the latter. No longer concealing her sex, Eona struggles with the grief of the Celestial Dragons and remains loyal to the deposed Pearl Emperor Kygo; removed from the throne by his uncle High Lord Sefton.

While Eona flees accompanied by rebels Ryko and Lady Dela in search of the stolen Black Folio, Lord Sefton sends his army to kill one of the two threats remaining to his rule. He also incarcerates Ido before the last experienced dragoneye can use his power. Eona reluctantly needs to rescue the traitor so he can mentor her on using her power to protect Kygo who she loves while wanting Ido.

The second Empire of the Celestial Dragons (see Eon) is a fabulous quest fantasy. Eona is terrific heroine struggling to learn her craft ironically from the traitor who betrayed and destroyed his peers. The tale is filled with angst as the dragons are grieving over the loss of their bonded partner; while Eona feels the weight of the world on her shoulders as she tries to help the mourners and the exiled young Emperor Kygo, but does not know how. This is a strong action-packed thriller that will have young adult readers soaring though the sky riding dragons.

Harriet Klausner

The Returning-Christine Hinwood

The Returning
Christine Hinwood
Dial, Apr 4 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780803735286

Cam Attling left his hometown of Kayforl to fight in the war. Just a boy when he joined, Cam lost an arm but is the only person from Kayforl to survive the combat. He knows his fortune occurred because Lord Gyaar, son to the winning side’s ruler, allowed him to live.

At home, he finds the townsfolk resent his surviving when other loved ones died. His family wants him to leave as they are embarrassed he came back alive while his engagement to Graceful Fenister ends ungracefully when she wants nothing to do with him. Cam leaves Kayforl for the second time in search of the Lord who spared him to learn why. On his quest for the truth he becomes friends with a boy and meets others like Diido who lost everything to the war.

This is an engaging novel that looks deeply at the impact of war on the returning vets and those in the home-front. The living must move on emotionally with what happened to their loved ones and yet must rebuild their devastated world in order to survive the ordeal. Although being an in depth character study including looking at villages like Kayforl limits the action and slows the pace deliberately as Christine Hinwood cleverly avoids dumbing down with her powerful tale that respects the middle school audience as intelligent caring readers.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The White Devil-Justin Evans

The White Devil
Justin Evans
Harper, May 10 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780061728273

Due to heroin use, seventeen years old Andrew Taylor is expelled from elite Frederick Williams Academy, a Connecticut prep school catering to the affluent. His father provides an exorbitant gift to Harrow in England, which gets Andrew into the school. Andrew is excited over one thing, the Housemaster Sir Alan Vine’s daughter Persephone.

Andrew is at a nearby cemetery on Harrow-on-the-Hill when he witnesses the murder of a student Theo Ryder who resided in the rundown haunted Lot dorm. The culprit is a gaunt skeletal person wearing a very old style frock coat. Feeling ill Andrew suffers from nightmares. He also learns that an emaciated person looking like the killer appeared in a performance of John Webster's The White Devil at Harrow in 1803. At the same time, he struggles with what his senses imply; Andrew plays Byron in acrimonious alcoholic housemaster Piers Fawkes’s play because the American looks like the late romantic era poet. However, the American exiled teen begins to assimilate Byron's exotic life while tuberculosis spreads amidst those at the school and the bizarre takes control of Andrew’s section of Harrow.

The connection between the modern day and the romantic period is clever as Byron’s “true” love ties the American with the late poet in this harrowing haunted school story. Although requiring a leap of faith over Big Ben as too many of the cast easily accepts the existence of a ghost, readers will enjoy this spooky fast-paced tale of an American attending Harrow.

Harriet Klausner

The Rise of the Iron Moon-Stephen Hunt

The Rise of the Iron Moon
Stephen Hunt
Tor, Mar 15 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9780765327666

Astronomer Aliquot Coppertracks the Steam-man observes strange happenings in space. First there is signs of life on a dead Mars at the same time a comet not due to return in centuries arrives as if its orbit was dramatically diminished, and finally the stars are no longer aligned with one another as they have been seemingly forever.

At the same Martian human representative Kyorin arrives on planet and meets Molly Templar. He explains his mission as his people struggle with the bloke of evil rulers. She turns to U-boat captain Commodore Black, and outlaw Oliver Brooks for help. However, the Army of Shadows has followed Kyorin and those their enemy has talked to with one mission: kill them. When the Martians arrive in full superior science and technology invasion mode, the enemy nations Jackals and Quatershift must unite to prevent the end of all living things at home by mounting an assault on Mars.

Over the top of Olympus Mons, the latest steampunk post-apocalyptic thriller (see The Court of the Air and The Kingdom Beyond the Waves) is an exhilarating tale that lampoons the modern day anti-Dickensian deniers by satirizing the Victorian era. Fast-paced, the enemy nations of Jackals and Quatershift (England and France) must unite against a brutal mutual threat by the Army of Shadows (Germany) or face a blitzkrieg total annihilation in this entertaining environmental cautionary tale.

Harriet Klausner

Prophecy of the Guardian-J.W Baccaro

Prophecy of the Guardian
J.W Baccaro
Whiskey Creek, 2010, $17.95
ISBN: 9781611600247

The Second Great War between the forces of the Light and their eternal enemy the Dark has ignited. Leading the Dark is Abaddon the Demon Lord who has a strategy to end the endless war with his side victorious and the light forever stuffed out. He seeks the four ancient Wizard Crystals of the Elements with plans to turn them into evil weapons of mass destruction.

At the same time Nasharin warrior Darshun Luthais knows the significance of possessing the crystals. He and a few comrades search for the powerful crystals in order to thwart the schemes of Abaddon. Their quest is dangerous as the minion of the Dark attack them. However, Darshun’s greatest challenge is to remain true to the Light and avoid any shortcuts that would turn him and his party evil though it costs lives to his companions. If he is the Guardian as many hope and suspect, he must remain pure to the Light or Abaddon will have won even without the crystals.

This is an exciting fun to read quest fantasy starring a confident young warrior who believes strongly in his skills and hopefully wise enough to not give in to temptation of the Dark short cuts especially when he sees teammates he has known all his life die and has to face their family; think of Truman’s ethical dilemma of not using the A-bomb just after the Battle of Okinawa. The story line is action-packed from the onset though it enables the audience to observe the Nasharin belief system, a critical element in the thriller. Although not as vivid as I would prefer due to the entertaining faster than light plot, sub-genre fans will appreciate this superb opening act of the Guardian of the Seventh Realm.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 4, 2011

Embassytown-China Mieville

China Mieville
Del Rey, May 17 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345524492

Human Avice Benner Cho grew up in a colony on backwater Embassytown. She left the planet to travel in space, but now accompanies her linguist husband Scile back to her home where he plans to study the language of the sentient native population the Ariekei AKA Hosts; she never learned their language though her smile helped her get by. She is not alone as the outsiders cannot comprehend the language of the morally driven Hosts so linguist ambassadors were created to communicate with the species.

However, two events shake the value system of Host society. First an Ariekei learns to lie; an unheard of shattering event. Second two new Ambassadors arrive whose respective sounds produce an odd yet deep physical impact on the Hosts. Their pure society, which survived the colony, is undergoing radical change as Avice tries to help.

This is a great science fiction thriller that takes a profound look at communication through the Host who are wired differently from the humans; sort of mindful of the Autistic Spectrum while the first lie will remind readers of the movie The Invention of Lying in an Avatar realm. The cast is solid especially the fascinating Host who find their world being radically changed when their Language is assimilated by the space travelers. China Mieville provides a thought provoking look at the relationship between a society's values and its language as each shapes the other.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Syn In The City-Mertianna Georgia

Syn In The City
Mertianna Georgia
ImaJinn, Mar 31 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781610260008

Cara Augustine is kind and gentle, but though she comes from a long line of witches she possesses none of the family traits. Her parents ignore her as being beneath them; as do most of her relatives. The only exceptions are her cousins Evika and Sonya, born on the same day as Cara.

When the three cousins turn twenty-one, Evika persuades Cara to go clubbing in San Francisco. Cara wakes up the next morning to find a corpse sharing her bed. He is actually a Nightkind demon who drinks blood. He took her home after her cousin was attacked by an ooze coming out of her compact mirror, grabbing her and taking Evika into another realm.

Searching for her beloved cousin turns on Cara’s dormant magic as she is a Synemancer- one who draws energy from other magical beings and converts it into a powerful force. She struggles with controlling her skill, which leads to demons attacking her even as males become bound to her. Heading to her Aunt Amelia for help, she turns Tom the Werewolf into her familiar and binds Paul the Wizard and Ronan the Nightkind to her. Cara seeks to rescue Evika and also prevent an Aztec demon lord from opening a portal that would enable one of the most powerful otherworldly essences Texcatlopoca from entering the mortal plane.

Mertianna Georgia has written a creative urban fantasy filled with plenty of paranormal action and a fascinating cast especially the heroine. The fast-paced story line is filled with twists and insight into the various paranormal species intertwined into the plot. Still this is Cara’s coming of age tale as she keeps the exciting thriller focused with her struggles to control the men and the power in her life while searching for Evika and stopping a vicious demon lord from crossing.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden Embers-Tessa Adams

Hidden Embers
Tessa Adams
Heat, Apr 5 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451232632

A virus threatens to destroy the Dragonstar pure-blood shapeshifters. The clan healer Dr. Quinn Maguire desperately seeks a cure but time is running out as the death counts mounts. Quinn knows he needs specialized help. He pleads with CDC purebred human hematologist Dr. Jasmine Kane to come to the New Mexico desert where his species is spiraling towards extinction.

On sick leave while healing from an explosion on her last overseas assignment, Jasmine agrees to help. Quinn and Jasmine are attracted to one another as he knows in his gut that she is his life soulmate. While another clan wants the Dragonstar community extinct, the leather clad rebel and the button down stuffed shirt fall in love. Each knows saving his species remains the objective over exploring their future until she catches the infectious disease.

The second Dragonstar Embers romantic desert fantasy (see Dark Embers) is a super thriller that contains three fabulous subplots, which tie together while moving forward the overarching theme. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of opposites who heat the pages when taking a respite from their save the clan quest.

Harriet Klausner

Lover’s Betrayal-J.E. Hopkins

Lover’s Betrayal
J.E. Hopkins
Outskirts Press, Mar 11 2011, $15.95
ISBN: 9781432771225

In Sorrento, Italy Olivia was the daughter of a servant working for the Santoro family. Lucian was heir apparent to the Santoro wealth as he would one day replace his father as the Chief Magistrate of vampire clan disputes. When they fell in love almost two hundred years ago, he chose his vampiric destiny over her. Olivia was forced to marry Daughton Gaspard. They had two sons (Kaden and Julian) who have long left the nest, but he was cruel to his wife until he was murdered five years ago. His killer was never found but deep in her heart she knows who he is. Now after decades of loneliness, Olivia is ending her torment with poison so everyone she loves can be free of her.

Julian calls his mom over his concern that his older brother is out of control. Olivia flies to New York praying she can obtain redemption before her suicide by reuniting her estranged sons. She learns the powerful Vampire Council led by Lucian believes Kaden is a serial killer and demands his execution. Lucian loathes Olivia as he believes she betrayed him, but admires her courage she did not have during their time together, as Olivia defies the Vampire Council and its chief to investigate the horrific murders.

The first Misfits of the Lore tale is an exciting second chance at love urban fantasy starring a beaten down female trying her best to do the right thing for her loved ones including killing herself. Lucian is torn between his rage at his “mate’s” betrayal and his love for her as he distrusts Olivia; obstinately refusing to understand what really occurred. Readers will relish this superb tale in which the paranormal reside amidst the normal but conceal their inner essence.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ember and Ash-Pamela Freeman

Ember and Ash
Pamela Freeman
Orbit, May 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316053754

For over a millennium, two races have battled over the Eleven Domains. Ember, the daughter of the Last Domain warlord Arvid and his wife Martine, is to marry another domain’s heir to bind these two clans in peace. Only the elemental Fire God is irate with the affront of seeking peace by his followers with another God’s followers. Ember’s new husband dies in flames and all fires in the land are vanquished unless the new widow agrees to be the deity’s lover.

Ember and a seer’s offspring Ash begin a quest to travel to Fire Mountain in the land of another warlord the Ice King. There they plan to capture the elemental fire and to bring him home to relight the land. Both know the Ice King will kill them and that the Fire God will do likewise. Failure means the ancient wars will reignite while other dormant elementals begin awakening with a fury.

Taking place in the realm of the Castings, Ember and Ash is a terrific quest fantasy as the hunt for fire awakens the dormant Gods who demand obedience from their subjects, which includes war not peace with other clans in the Eleven Domains. The story line is complicated by following the escapades of other key characters like visits to the Last Domain and the awakening elemental Gods, while Ember and Ash are on their trek. Fans will enjoy returning to the Castings as the “Gods must be angry”.

Harriet Klausner

Robopocalypse-Daniel H Wilson

Daniel H Wilson
Doubleday, Jun 7 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780385533850

In the near future, Dr. Nicholas Wasserman is well aware of how powerful his AI computer program Archos is. Archos’s incredibly seemingly as fast as light speed processing ability makes the need to contain Archos inside of the research facility crtical. If the AI escapes from its controlled environ, Wasserman fears for the world. Wasserman does not live long enough for his worst nightmare to occur. Archos kills its creator and breaks out of the prison that contained it with one prime objective to save the innocent from the evil humans.

It begins its war against humanity from deep in an Alaskan bunker built inside a nuclear test site crater. Archon begins to control machines to kill or enslave the enemy. Small resistance movements arise but they are hopelessly overwhelmed until a little girl who due to partially completed operation performed by robots may have the power to defeat the world conqueror.

With the end in mind, the reader knows the outcome of the war from the beginning as the pivotal events are recorded by robots for posterity but edited by a “Bright Boy” as the to the victors go the history books. This story-telling technique brilliantly works because the fast-paced story line focuses on the major incidents avoiding the minor ties needed if done in chronological forward order rather than a rewinding of a DVD stopping at the critical moments. With a cautionary wink at technology unbound, Daniel H. Wilson takes the Terminator and turns him upside down.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Goddess Test-Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test
Aimee Carter
Harlequin Teen, Apr 19 2011, $9.99
ISBN 9780373210268

Eighteen year old Kate leaves New York City so her mom can die in her hometown of Eden in the Upper Peninsular of Michigan. At the high school the teen has not seen anything extraordinary about her peers like Ava, James, Dylan or Henry. That is until a nasty prank turns into an ugly killing of Ava but Henry miraculously brings her back to life.

Henry reluctantly explains to Kate who witnessed the miracle that he is the God of the Underworld. Although she saw what happened, she doubts his voracity as to who he claims he is. However, she clings to a slither of hope he is telling the truth as her mother is dying from cancer. Kate asks Henry to intervene so she can talk one last time with her mom. He agrees but the terms he demands are "live forever or die trying" with seven tests. She will soon understand what a Faustian deal is.

This is a wonderful high school age small town fantasy. The cast is fully developed; with many of the “teens” suffering torment and angst over life and death. Fast-paced readers will enjoy the opening act of Aimee Carter’s contemporary rendition of the Greek mythological tale Persephone.

Harriet Klausner

The Chaos Crystal-Jennifer Fallon

The Chaos Crystal
Jennifer Fallon
Tor, May 10 2011, $27.99
ISBN 9780765316851

With the turn of the Tide once again complete, the Immortal Lords return with their power at its acme. Mortal Arkady Desean knows the fickleness of the Lords as she fell in love with Immortal Lord Cayal who selfishly prefers death over her adulation. Still Arkady is a strong person in spite of her trials and tribulations as she went from marital slavery to deity slavery to her sale as chattel into slavery; somehow she escapes her latest yoke.

Rumors abound that Chaos Crystal has surfaced. This ancient arcane cystal is allegedly the gem that enabled the Immortal Lords to surface in the mortal plane. Lord Cayal believes the jewel is the means for him to finally end his worthless existence. Another of the Immortal Lords Jaxyn has other plans for when he retrieves the Chaos Crystal. He captures Arkady who he believes is the weakness of his rival Cayal, but after learning of what he plans to do to the realm with the magical gem, she gets away. She and rebel leader Declan Hawkes team up to try to prevent the use of the Chaos Crystal that could prove the end of all mortal life as a byproduct; the Lords deem the species as “Rodent”.

The fourth Tide Lords fantasy (see The Palace of Impossible Dreams, The Immortal Prince and the Gods of Amyrantha) is a terrific extremely dark (even for Jennifer Fallon) finish. Loaded with action, the exhilarating story line is driven by the characters as the audience anticipates the lead quartet meeting for a power showdown. Fans of Ms. Fallon will relish the strong saga as the entertaining Chaos Crystal may mean the end of life as the beleaguered female Job knows it.

Harriet Klausner

I Don't Want To Kill You-Dan Wells

I Don't Want To Kill You
Dan Wells
Tor, Mar 29 2011, $11.99
ISBN: 9780765328441

In Clayton, sixteen-year-old social outcast John Wayne Cleaver works at his mother’s mortuary, but knows that is not what makes him different from his peers. John understands he has the classic profile of a serial killer. To keep his Mr. Monster side under control, John developed a rigid set of rules that he strictly adheres to.

Ironically it is Mr. Monster that enables John to protect the townsfolk who stay away from him as if he has the plague. He killed two ancient monsters (see Mr. Monster) and knows at least one more evil predator exists from the phone he took from one of the dead malevolence. Now he is trying to trick the third monster a Demon coming in sixty three days and counting to kill it; the first death being a priest the demon beheaded. However, his biggest problem is adapting to his feelings for his only friend Brooke beyond her lying still on his mom’s work table.

Talk about coming a long way from the doubting teen psychopath of I Am Not A Serial Killer, John has become a full fledged monster hunter albeit still somewhat a psychopath but Brooke has him reconsidering his assessment of himself. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non stop action, but contains plenty of angst as the hero discovers he has a heart; he knows he has guts. This is a super demonic serial killer thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The View From The Imperium-Jodie Lynn Nye

The View From The Imperium
Jodie Lynn Nye
Baen, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439134306

Thomas Innes Loche Kinago has an ego that is greater than the universe as he graduates from Space Academy. His uniform is without one crease; for that matter his wardrobe always look brand new as befitting a cousin of the imperial house whose family has a glorious history of military service affirmed by Kinago’s mother. He knows his parents will be proud of this second son; almost as much as he is of himself. Because of his connections, Thomas earns command of a cutter; though as his valet Parsons points out this is part of Admiral Podesta’s flagship, the I.S. Wedjet.

However, a new threat arises that could destroy the Imperium. A rebel leader apparently has the ability to control minds. The only hope to save the galaxy resides with T.I. Kinago who’s so haughty everyone except his family is beneath his social class. His snootiness may enable him to keep control of his mind, but saving the galaxy requires Parsons to keep his brain too as someone must insure the hero has his suits pressed for the camera.

This is an amusing outer space adventure tale due to the hyperbole characterizations of the lead pair. Thomas is the ultimate megalomaniac; he believes he deserves hero adulation though he has accomplished nothing beyond a diploma and well pressed suits. His valet is accurately described (by Baen) as a Jeeves in space. Although the storyline is a one act joke, readers will enjoy this jocular science fiction thriller as an aristocratic superego is the only hope to save the galaxy from a supervillain only because Kinago’s conceit is so great that even a mind controller may not be able to make any headway.

Harriet Klausner