Monday, May 30, 2011

Green-Eyed Envy-Kasey Mackenzie

Green-Eyed Envy
Kasey Mackenzie
Ace, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 978-0441020492

In Boston, someone murders a Bastai cat shapeshifter. Leading the investigation is the city’s magical investigator chief Marissa Holloway the Fury and her BPD mortal partner Trinity LaRue. Riss struggles with why the victim who has nine lives fails to come back from the dead. The corpse of the Bastai as other such victims share in common three things: they are Bastai with lives to spare; yet they are dead and not resurrecting; and each was a former boyfriend of cat shifter FBI agent Harper Cruz, who has announced her engagement to Hound shifter Penn Banoub.

Riss and Trinity know a serial killer is on the loose. They fear the next victim could be Riss’ lover warhound shifter Scott Murphy who is a Harper’s one night stand past conquest. While she struggles with Fury politics, a deadly game that makes DC look like kindergarten kids at play, someone tries to kill her and her family.

Following up Red-Hot Fury in which Riss prevented war between the paranormal, her second police procedural urban fantasy is more personal but just as mega nasty. Besides a superb investigation into who is murderously Green-Eyed Envy, she must uncover the identity of the betrayer amongst the Fury or her family. This is a great tour of Boston’s paranormal underground (and not the Green Line).

Harriet Klausner

Dragon’s Time-Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey

Dragon’s Time
Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
Del Rey, Jun 28 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345500892

On the planet Pern, plague was killing the dragons just as the deadly Thread began falling from the red orb. Lorana found a cure at the cost her beloved queen dragon, but the toll is devastating as the surviving dragons cannot even fill up a weyr. Since all the dragons and their riders of Telgar Weyr were lost in between, Fiona and T’mar become the new Weyr leaders. Understaffed and under-skilled, each time they go out to fight thread, more die or are crippled. Unless they come up with a solution soon, human and dragon life on Pern will be extinct.

Although pregnant and without her dragon, Lorana borrows the Bendon weyr dragon to go to the future to plead for help. The Brendan Weyrwoman provides her with coordinates as to where she should land. When she arrives at the location she meets Trader Tenniz who is dying. She remains at his side until he passes, but now knows she must figure out what he hinted at. Lorana returns to Fiona two times from her location and she brings F’Jan to be with Terin in her hour of need butt F’Jian does not explain how or why since he was killed fighting Thread. As they put together the clues, they begin a plan to save the planet by hopefully cheating time

In this final of the latest Pern miniseries (see Dragon Blood, Dragonheart and Dragongirl the threads (no pun intended) come together to create a stirring exciting sci-fi thriller. Readers will admire the characters especially Fiona, a natural leader lacking experience and firepower at a time of dire straits yet gets riders to follow her in spite of what appears is a suicide mission. McCaffrey mother and son team up smoothly wit the latest entry in a classic epic saga.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 29, 2011

If He’s Dangerous-Hannah Howell

If He’s Dangerous
Hannah Howell
Zebra, Jun 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420118780

In 1790 England, Lorelei Sundun blinks several times to find a naked man gaping at her in her father’s garden. She remains calm but appreciative as he introduces himself as Sir Argus Wherlocke; and further explains he does not want to be a duke’s rose garden. However, their fascinating discussion ends in the blink of an eye when her nude guest vanishes.

While Lorelei ponders what happened including why she feels she fell in love at first naked sight, Angus wonders how his mental projection ended up in the Sunden estate rather than his clan who he needs help from as government agents plan to use his otherworldly skills for their benefit. When they meet again in person, as she and her cousins rescue him from incarceration, Lorelei affirms what she knew that they are life mates. However, though he wants her, Angus hesitates as the model for marriage is his parents’ failed one so he tries to use his skills to control her feelings but love proves stronger than his potent paranormal power.

The third Wherlocke Regency fantasy (see If He’s Wicked and If He's Wild) is a terrific paranormal historical romance from the opening scene when the duke’s daughter and the naked lord meet and never slows down until the final “confrontation” with her father. Fans will relish this charmer as another eccentric Wherlocke finds love.

Harriet Klausner

The Violet Flash-Mike Mason

The Violet Flash
Mike Mason
David C. Cook, Jun 1 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9781434765253

While their dad Reverend Cholmondeley lies in a coma, Chelsea the amateur sleuth tells her brother Chesterton that the excessive wind is being caused by a hole in the sky and not just Porter’s Store where Sky Porter makes deliveries. Zac Smith arrives with the newspaper whose headline is a plane crashed caused by a missing second; at least that is what Dr. Stromway insists occurred; a phenomenon that happens every 1,400,000 years. Iris and Sky join the siblings Zac. When a tear occurs in the Blue Umbrella, a horrified Ches watches his pain in the butt sibling vanish inside the canopy.

Ches learns that the atomic clocks stopped beating for a second three days in a row. In those flash moments accidents have happened around the globe; some deadly. Ches wonders if his sister’s disappearance and the missing seconds are related. On a quest to rescue Chelsea, he needs to better understand time so he visits Myron Stinchcombe the clockmaker and Sky the world’s greatest authority on anything at least in Ches’ opinion. However, instead of comfort from what he learns, Ches pieces together clues of a plot to destroy the world; to save the planet may cost him the return of his sibling.

Though Ches has recovered emotionally from Evil Dada stealing his years, he remains ignorant on so much taken for granted by his friends like Grand Central Station. That naivety he brings to the story line makes the sequel to the Blue Umbrella a terrific whimsical thriller as he tries to make up for lost time in a search for Chelsea. With a super support cast adding to the fun, young adult readers will enjoy The Violet Flash as the hero knows time is running out.

Harriet Klausner

City of Ruin-Mark Charan Newton

City of Ruin
Mark Charan Newton
Spectra (Random House), Jun 28 2011, $16.00
ISBN 9780345520883

At a time when the Jamur Empire needs to be united to combat an outside intrusion, the nation is divided. In Villhamur, Chancellor Urtica sits on the throne while Empress Rika is forced to flee the capital for Villiren; where she hopes to gain the support of the Night Guard though she is unsure whose side Commander Brynd Lathraea is on. The Empress is accompanied on her trek north by her sister Eir and their protector Randur.

Across from Villiren, the Okun have massacred the local populace on Tineag'l Island. These ruthless foes prepare to cross the strait to invade Villiren next even as the Jamur military led by Brynd prepare to defend the city knowing that defeats will mean the slaughter of every person. However Brynd has non military problems too from an extortion scheme while Inspector Rumex Jeryd does his duty regardless of the pending disaster by investigating the recent disappearances of dozens of locals.

The second Legends of the Red Sun dark fantasy (see Nights in Villjamur) is a terrific military, political and social epic that provides a deep look at a city anticipating with some deniers the encroachment of the enemy. The story line is action-packed and loaded with fully developed characters especially those inside the beleaguered city although there are too many subplots that cause the minor ones to effect the flow of the critical themes. Still City of Ruin is an engaging tale as the vicious Okrun come to Villiren with their scorched earth blitzkrieg war machine.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 27, 2011

Farnham’s Freehold-Robert Heinlein

Farnham’s Freehold
Robert Heinlein
Baen, Jun 7 2011, $13.00
ISBN: 9781439134436

Hugh Farnham expected a nuclear war was coming. Thus he built a bomb shelter while people including his adult son ridiculed him for Farnham’s folly. However, as the news begins reporting of the threats of war growing hotter, he persuades his alcoholic wife, their son and, daughter, a friend and Joseph the servant to enter his silo. The bombs are sent while Hugh and his retinue remain safe.

When they finally exit the bomb shelter, they have been somehow been forwarded centuries into the future with no other person around as if humanity has become extinct except for their small circle. The group struggles to survive when the descendants of survivors of the apocalypse find them. Except for Joseph, the rest of Farnham’s party are held guilty by the color of their skin causing the pandemic holocaust. Hugh knows that for him and his family to survive, they must go back to prevent the bombs from causing the end of the world.

This reprint of an engaging 1950s futuristic science fiction tale makes a case against de jure and de facto racism. The story line is fast-paced once the bombs explode and never slows down as Farnham’s family is held in contempt. Although the characters are one dimensional stereotypes, readers will enjoy Robert Heinlein’s argument against racism.

Harriet Klausner

Deadline-Mira Grant

Mira Grant
Orbit, May 31 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 97803916081061

In 2032 Georgia Mason became infected with the zombie Kellis-Amberlee virus (see Feed) that has run wild for decades. Humans have survived by following specific safety guidelines like extremely tiny windows in which a gnat would not find easy egress. However with all they did, the co-blogger of Postcards from the Wall caught the disease due to CDC infecting her and is now dead. Though almost a decade later, her blogging bother Shaun believes he might as well be too though what keeps him alive is talking inside his head to his dead sister; which he knows makes him certifiable even in a land filled with zombies.

CDC Dr. Kelly Connolly visits Mason. He muses the last time they met was when she delivered his sister’s ashes to him and the time before that was when the siblings were accused of amplification. George tells him to ignore history and talk with her. Kelly wants his blogging crew to investigate a new development in the Kellis-Amberlee; research as scientists are dying at an alarming rate. She faked her death to get to him and his news crew. As George orders him to lead the inquiry, Mason thinks his sister is unfair as he just wants the cause of death for CDC being Shaun Mason.

The second futuristic Newsflash Mason Zombie thriller is a fabulous suspense tale that grips the audience even before the prime story line begins. Aptly titled, Deadline contains a super twisting plot and a strong cast including the late Georgia. Readers will enjoy this dark biting thriller as readers wonder what the truth is when the media and the agencies charged with protecting the public manipulate, omit and often lie.

Harriet Klausner

Spectyr-Philippa Ballantine

Philippa Ballantine
Ace, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020515

In the land of Vermillion, the beings of the Otherworld are separated from the mortal realm by a barrier; the Order of Deacons insure the two groups remain apart. They are tasked with sending the geists back to the Otherworld.and Deacons Sorcha Faris and Merrick Chambers are investigating rumors of malevolent ghosts after the dangers they faced in their last mission as a punishment to not work independently of the Order. When the pair are given the chance to escort the Chioman delegation home to discuss the Emperor’s marital negotiations they eagely accept the chance to get away from make work.

Sorcha is ecstatic to reach the Hive city of Orithal because that is where her lover the Young Pretender Raed resides. He carries within him a geistlord so much of the time he is in the water where the parasite is relatively helpless. The people of Orithel are afraid due to a series of ghastly deaths. They need the talents of Sorcha, Merrick and Raed to investigate and catch the killer. The trio finds themselves in the middle of a war between the geistlord and the Goddess Hatipi who the Emperor's sister Zofiya summoned. However to catch a killer means dealing with the Otherworld and a Goddess.

The opening act in Philippa Ballantine’s Book of the Order (see Geist) is a great fantasy, but the second tale is even better. The three protagonists have bonded; this link embellishes their powers and enables them to deal with (and hopefully survive) the geists and Otherworld. Raed is the most sympathetic of the trio because he fears 24/7 that the geistmaster inside of him will overcome his sense of being and identity. Spectyr is a fantastic fantasy due to the unique relationships between individuals, species and worlds.

Harriet Klausner

Everlasting-Alyson Noel

Alyson Noel
St. Martin’s Griffin, Jun 7 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780312642075

Ever and Damen have one mission left before they can spend eternity as immortals in love. To save Ever’s life; Damon changed her into an Immortal and contains lingering poison in his body. Thus they cannot touch one another as has an allergic reaction to his beloved.

Their quest is to find the cure to the toxin. They also have to resolve a difference on location. Ever wants to complete her destiny and unravel the remaining secrets including why something seems to want to keep her and her beloved apart. To do this they must enter the darkest region of Summerland; while Damen prefers to continue his current lifestyle that her trek would end.

Everlasting is a strong finish to the Immortals saga (see Shadowland and Dark Flame) after a slight letdown with Night Star’s earth shattering secret. The story line combines a wonderful story line re the heroine’s destiny with the continuation of the relationship issues between her and Damen. Series fans will enjoy the end to the Ever tales as Alyson Noel soars with this one.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Good and the Ghastly-James Boice

The Good and the Ghastly
James Boice
Scribner, Jun 14 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781416575443

It took centuries but the world has somewhat recovered from the global nuclear war. Now the thirty-fourth century has caught up to life in the early twenty-first century though there are some differences; for instance history and science texts praise Sarah Palin for her theory of natural selection and deer is the pet of choice.

However, in spite of the heritage of mass destruction wars back in the twentieth and twenty-first, hate remains a viable option. While VISA owns the world now as it did then, Adoranso Horater pushes for the final solution as he blames the Jews for the nuclear holocaust. At the same time Alvarez rules the mobs with an iron fist, a victim’s mother stalks and murders gangster and human sacrifices to the statue of the cat God Garfield is practiced. Soon the former Good and the forever Ghastly will confront one another.

The Good and the Ghastly is an engaging satire that rips into twenty first century values by extrapolating how the future will look at this era of phony hypocritical compassion. The story line is overall fun but the mocking of present day decisions by sound bites keeps the plot thin. Still readers who relish thought provoking lampooning will want to read the thirty-fourth century equivalent to Bill Mahler’ “New Rules” interpretation of Palinism.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Circus-Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday, Sep 13 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780385534635

Five years old Celia is an untrained psychokinetic. Her father Hector Bowen who performs for Le Cirque des Reves as Prospero the Entertainer is unaware of her existence until his daughter is dropped off. He realizes his daughter has incredible innate magical skill and decides to deploy her ability in a death match against an adversary: Alexander’s tyro magician Marco. The loser will die.

Celia and Marco are unaware that the outcome of their contest is death. However, their respective handlers failed to anticipate the two young mages as they grow up will fall in love. All bets are off as to how this power game will end as the puppeteers struggle to get their marionettes to perform the death duet not the love tango.

This excellent gripping historical thriller is a character driven tale with a paranormal element. The four participants in The Night Circus forge a fighting rectangle that turns into a perilous perfect square as the avaricious handlers want power and domination while the mentees want love. Fans will enjoy a night at the Erin Morgenstern’s circus wondering whether years of negative nurturing overcome tender naturing.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Star Wars: Choice of One-Timothy Zahn

Star Wars: Choice of One
Timothy Zahn
Del Rey, Jul 12 2011, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345511265

Months have passed since Luke Skywalker blew up the death Star (see A New Hope), but he diligently practices to become stronger in the force. The war between the Empire and the Alliance continues with the former seeking to strike back at the rebels who desperately need allies, equipment and supplies. Empire Officer Thrawn warns Emperor Palatine that they are threatened by more than just the rebels. Nusoesva, a powerful warlord in the Unknown Region is conquering worlds in Wild Space and looks like he will soon make incursion into the Imperial sector. Palatine ignores the concern because the warlord is just an alien.

The rebels are offered a base on Poln Minor in the Outer Rim. Since the Empire won’t help them fight Nusoesva, the leaders of the planet turn to the Alliance asking for protection. The Emperor learns of two possible treasonous acts and deploys his Hand Mara Jade to determine the truth; if affirmed she is to kill the Governor of the Candoras sector, Bider Ferrouz and his accomplices. Han, Leia, and Luke head to Poln Major to find out if the governor’s offer is authentic or a trap. Also on the planet are the disgruntled Hand of Judgment storm troopers who work to root out evil in the Empire. All will converge with betrayal and death the common denominators

It is amazing to see caring good people like Mara and the storm troopers Hand of Judgment believe that the Emperor is a kind person who cares for his subjects. That soul searching element enhances an action-paced space opera. Readers will praise Timothy Zahn as he captures the original essence of the Lucas pantheon; not an easy mission to achieve since this would make a fine movie number 4.5 (in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back).

Harriet Klausner

Mind Games-Taylor Keating

Mind Games
Taylor Keating
Tor, May 24 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765365484

Game designer River Weston escaped the video prison of the Dark Lord along with another cell mate Chase "Hawk" Hawkins (see Game Over) but if she thought her troubles are over, she is wrong. Reality proves just as damning as virtual as she is wanted for the murders of her fellow game makers.

Hawk uses the dead body of River’s ex Nick as the pair investigates what her parents wrought and how to liberate their souls incarcerated for three decades in a hellish lab. Having been locked away much longer than his companion and determined to be her Guardian, he trusts no one as he tries to persuade her to allow him to escort her to the realm of her Fae mother before Nick’s soul reclaims the body.

Although this is a direct sequel so it behooves newcomers to read Game Over first, the focus is more on reality earth than in the virtual realm of the previous book. River made the first thriller work, but this time Hawk brings the freshness as he fights external demons and his adulation for his partner. That intense attraction is key as Hawk is unsure whether it is his heart or the remnants of the soul of the previous body owner. Loaded with excitement, fans will enjoy the game maker and her cell mate as they battle their deadly diabolical adversaries in an exciting amateur sleuth dark urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausne

Monday, May 23, 2011

Concrete Savior-Yvonne Navarro

Concrete Savior
Yvonne Navarro
Pocket, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439191972

Brynna Malak the Fallen Angel wants to go home, which in her mind is Heaven. Thus, she goes out of her way to save mortals. However, her miraculous rescue efforts prove futile because everyone she saves is brutally murdered by Lucifer’s minion who wants her to return to their side.

Brynna realizes she needs help so she turns to her human boyfriend Chicago police detective Eran Redmond though she has doubts about turning to him. She trusts no one except perhaps the Creator, but especially a male of any species; as men cannot control themselves when she, even in human garb, is near them. As Eran demonstrates restraint and a willingness to help her, they investigate who is murdering her saved ones.

The latest Dark Redemption urban fantasy (see High Born) is a terrific tale that contains much more than just Brynna’s efforts for redemption though she is the focus of the Navarro mythos filled with angels, demons, nephilim and humans (some are Quislings). The whodunit is clever and the cast powerful as fans will relish a walk on the dark side of Chicago.

Harriet Klausner

Dead on the Delta-Stacey Jay

Dead on the Delta
Stacey Jay
Pocket, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439189863

After being a mosquito size harmless species that adults assumed were mythological, the fairies changed. They became human blood seekers biting mortals. The Fey toxin leaves 75% of the humans insane; 10% physically misshapen before dying; and another 10% instantly dead. The remaining populace contains immunity, but so far no one knows why.

Following Katrina, New Orleans has become a breeding ground for the fairies. This does not prevent Fairy Control and Containment evidence collector Annabelle Lee from riding her bike and doing her job at often horrific crime scenes. Annabelle is one of lucky ones who are immune to the fairies toxin. She works with police detective Cane Cooper on the murder of a six year old girl just outside the fairie levees surrounding her town of Donaldson. Also inexplicably on the case is her former boyfriend and FBI Agent who should not be involved.

This is a super urban fantasy police procedural that intelligently extracts from real life to make the case of a Fey infestation. For instance, the Louisiana Governor is running for reelection on his hard on Fey crime platform. Although readers never learn what caused the Fairie plague, the fast-paced story line is action-packed as Cooper and Lee supported by others investigate gruesome murder on the Bayou.

Harriet Klausner

Demon-Kristina Douglas

Kristina Douglas
Pocket, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439191934

Fallen angel Azazel mourns the death of his wife Sarah, a murder victim. Still in spite of his grief, he seeks Lilith the demon with plans to kill her to prevent the fulfilling of a prophecy that has them wedded.

When he finds her, she has no memory of being evil Lilith. Instead she insists she is Rachel Fitzpatrick who admits she has Grand Canyon size holes in her memory. He leaves allowing her to live for now. However, he comes back to Rachel-Lilith because the Fallen Angels like him need to find imprisoned Lucifer before Uriel does. If the latter gets to the former first, the Lord’s archangel will judge mankind as sinners and release his wrath on humanity; which in his narrow perspective means the extinction of mankind.

The exciting second Fallen Angels urban fantasy (see Raziel) is character driven though loaded with non stop action as readers anticipate the archangel and the fallen angel confrontation. Rachel is the focus between them as her memory is the key to locating Lucifer. Readers will appreciate the tale of the Fallen: Demon seeking to save the world.

Harriet Klausner

The Vampire Who Loved Me-Theresa Meyers

The Vampire Who Loved Me
Theresa Meyers
Harlequin Nocturne, May 24 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618606

After vampires converted her loved ones, Dr. Rebecca Chamberlin hated the vile creatures. She works diligently on a vaccination in order to cure what she believes is a disease. When she is changed into the beasts she detests, she increases her efforts to find a cure.

Vampire clan security commander Achilles Stefanos watches closely the scientist in order to keep his species safe. Her financial supporters inject Beck with her serum only to find it fails. Achilles knows he must complete her transformation or Beck will die. As the pair begins to fall in love, someone modifies her vaccine in order to change vampires to their actual chronological age; which means vampire like Achilles an Ancient Greek will turn to dust.

The pairing of an ancient Greek warrior vampire and a modern day scientist make for a great tale as neither wants to love the other, but each learns you can’t always get what you want. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Achilles fears the newest fledgling is archenemy Dr. Chamberlain and never slows down as the heroine seeks the cure for vampirism.

Harriet Klausner

Déjà Vu-Lisa Childs

Déjà Vu
Lisa Childs
Harlequin Nocturne, May 24 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618613

FBI agent Alaina Paulsen investigates serial killings. She suspects recluse bestselling horror author Trent Baines is the psychopath as he writes detailed books on homicides that are three decades old as if he was a witness to the murders.

Alaina and Agent Vonner meet with Trent to interrogate him and recognize they were once a married couple in a past life together. When an apparent copy cat begins killing, Alaina fears history repeating itself as she loved the killer and cop back then. However, her biggest consternation comes from her growing belief that the writer she loves today was the murderer then and is the psychopath now.

With a nod to Kenneth Branagh’s movie Dead Again, Déjà Vu is an exciting reincarnation romantic suspense. The fast-paced story line places the emphasis on the psychological tension that has Alaina wound tight; as she prays that her beloved Trent is not a serial killer although the evidence strongly affirms he is. The romantic subplot serves more to add to the Suspicion that Trent is the killer as Lisa Childs provides a taut paranormal police procedural thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Demons Prefer Blondes-Sidney Ayers

Demons Prefer Blondes
Sidney Ayers
Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402251740

Dominic Duvane of the Fore Demon Council informs senior demon Rafael Deleon that Hell’s northern region Prince Belial’s Infernati warriors attacked the guards protecting the chest. Belial captured Rafe’s sister Coby, but she bravely sent the chest to earth to buy time in order to prevent the enemy from obtaining it. Dominic orders Rafe to retrieve the chest while he rescues Coby from their adversary’s dungeon.

Cosmetologist Lucia Gregory has the chest; with her friend Serah Bear she attempts to open it; unaware that she would be freeing some nasty demons of the damned. Rafe arrives and realizes that Lucy is a succubus and that he wants her. Both are stunners to him as he never expected to meet a succubus or desire her. As a war begins, Rafe and Lucy fall in love. Each understands they must return the demons to their hell so he brings in his allies and she brings in her circle.

The opening Demons Unleashed romantic fantasy is a terrific often humorous thriller. The characterizations are superb and the Ayers universe deftly created inside an exhilarating story line. Sub-genre readers will appreciate the amusing romance between the demon and the succubus who also have a world to save.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of the Highland Wolf-Terry Spear

Heart of the Highland Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781402245527

Julia MacPherson and her friend movie assistant director Maria Baquero are staying at Baird Cottage just a short walk from Argent Castle where a movie is being shot. Better known at least back in the States as Julia Wildthorn, author of Highland werewolf romances, she expects her trip to Scotland will end her writer’s block and she hopes to find an ancient secret box her grandfather says the family hid there. The castle laird Ian MacNeill has been a pain in the butt but that is Maria’s problem muses Julia.

However, starting with flight delays, the trip goes awry. A car accident leads to Ian carrying Julia into the castle. MacNeill realizes the American he holds is a wolf just like he is. Since she hid her heritage, he distrusts her but to his chagrin the wolf wants her. She wants to reveal the truth though she is unsure what that is to her mate, but fears he will kick her back across the ocean.

This is a fun werewolf romance starring two likable leads and a strong support cast; mostly his clan. The story line is fast-paced yet the refreshing scenes occur when Wildthorn goes into writer’s mode. Fans will appreciate Terry Spear’s entertaining tale even though the wolves are more in the background than usual, but the romance between the writer and the laird is an enjoyable contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Cat Star Chronicles: Virgin-Cheryl Brooks

Cat Star Chronicles: Virgin
Cheryl Brooks
Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781402251658

On Luxaria Twelve, Captain Jack lectures starship pilot Daxtronian "Dax" Vandilorsk, a Zetithian like her spouse, for remaining “The Great Virgin”. Dax understands the need to sire the next generation after the near extinction caused by the treacherous Nedwuts, but has found no one who entices him. That is until now. The waitress at the bar has Dax thinking erotic thoughts. However her abusive boyfriend Lars notices Sax staring at Avondia "Ava" Karon and warns the cat to stay away or else.

Sick of Lars who beat her and the dead end job on a backwater planet, Ava decides to go home to Acquerei where boring (Russ) supersedes vicious (Lars). She buys a one way ticket on Dax’s vessel. The Zetithian is euphoric as he now has the opportunity to smell his passenger and determine if she is his one.

This entry focuses almost entirely on the relationship between the lead couple as he is sort of like the Forty Year Old Virgin and she has become relationship-phobic. There is a secondary plot involving the heroine’s father, but that is minor in comparison to Dax’s amusing clumsy courtship of Ava assisted by his sidekick womanizing Waroun and Kots the droid matchmaker. Series fans will enjoy this heated Cat Star Chronicles (see Fugitive and Hero).

Harriet Klausner

The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011-Kevin J. Anderson (Editor)

The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011
Kevin J. Anderson (Editor)
Tor, May 24 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765328427

This Nebula Award Showcase takes a different focus than previous collections as the six short story and six novelette nominations for the 2009 ballot are included in their entirety; while only the winning novella and a brief paragraph on the winning novel are included. Also included are SFWA Author Emeritus Award fro Neal Barrett, Jr. (and a short “Getting dark”), a SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master to Joe Haldeman includes his short “A !Tangled Web”) and Rhysling Awards to Amal El Mohtar (“Song for an Ancient City”) and Geoffrey A. Landis (“Search” and Fireflies”).

This reviewer appreciated reading all the short story and novelette finalists as voted on by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; as this allowed me to decide whether I agreed with the winning selections of “Spar” by Kij Johnson (short story) and Eugie Foster’s “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” (novelette). I also appreciated that the novel winner “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi only had a brief description rather than a chapter or two extract; on the other hand the other novel nominees deserved a short write-up too. Finally the novella winner is fitting homage to the late Kage Baker (“The Women of Nell Gwynne’s”), but excluded the other nominees. There are also additional listings of lesser known award categories that round out a super collection especially for fans that may have missed the shorter writings.

Harriet Klausner

Raising Stony Mayhall-Daryl Gregory

Raising Stony Mayhall
Daryl Gregory
Del Rey, Jun 28 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345522375

In 1968, a zombie plague exploded with the victims in a raged fever frenzy biting humans when they could find them. The Feds worked to kill the zombies by burning their bodies and thus preventing a pandemic. Once the fever ended forty-eight hours later the survivors became rational thinking non violent feeling people who formed an underground to help their own kind. Stony Mayhall was found as a baby by Wanda Mayhall, the latter raised him along with her three daughters. He never knew there were others like him as he grew up in isolation on a remote farm. His only friend was Kwang Cho.

One night Stony and Kwang went out but the former is recognized for what he is. The Diggers almost catch Stony, but an underground Zombie leader Delia takes him to a safe house. For years he lived in the underground safe house until a group of zombies prepare to give the Big Bite to the human race. Stony calls the Diggers on them, but is captured too and sent under extraordinary rendition to Deadtown Federal Medical Prison where experiments on zombies occur. He becomes a favorite of the director and the other prisoners as he gives them hope. Stony escapes but knows his life’s work has begun to save the zombies from the Government who wants to see them all destroyed.

This zombie thriller contains the twist that the species in many ways is better than many humans are as for instance the first commandment is not to bite a breather. Daryl Gregory has his zombies behave like Frankenstein as misunderstood beasts forced to reside in separate unequal government facilities. The Feds know of the forty-eight hour rule, but prefer keeping that classified as top secret. Readers will relish this zombie portrayal as fans will empathize with Stony and his brethren and adopted human family while hissing at cruel humans who claim security as their rationale.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fool’s Republic-Gordon W. Dale

Fool’s Republic
Gordon W. Dale
North Atlantic Books, May 10 2011, $19.99
ISBN: 9781556439728

Simon Wyley resides in a clinical white eight by eight cell. Like his customized externally imposed numbers to identify him with, Wylie knows his latest prison symbolizes his entire life with the lack of color. The room also lacks sound except when he talks to a white wall or white sheet as even the faucets lack the constant drumming of drips as no water comes from them.

Wyley is a husband and father who has been gainfully employed for two decades yet now lingers in a pristine cell with the only interaction is with his interrogators who want him to confess to his crimes against the state. Ironically he thinks of the republic demanding rights overseas, but his was stripped away by some vague national security mumbo jumbo. None of the inquisitionist professionals have formally charged him with a crime nor allowed him any contact with his family or a lawyer; as he has vanished into their white box. However, this genus whimsically answers the questioners with satirical vagueness as he increasingly has no hope to ever leaving his cell alive.

The eerie background feels right for this stark timely political thriller (the Patriot Act quietly has been renewed once again). The story line echoes Benjamin Franklin’s wise commentary that “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither". Fool’s Republic is a terrific look at how easily the government gives and takes away under the guise of national security. Simon and readers will learn that to officials there are worse treasonous acts than betraying the nation, the Constitution or the people.

Harriet Klausner

A Shot in the Dark-K.A. Stewart

A Shot in the Dark
K.A. Stewart
Roc, Jul 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451464101

There are two kinds of demon hunters. The Catholic Church sanctions the Order of Saint Silvis and the others work for Grapevine. Jesse James Dawson is a champion though he has not one iota of magic; instead he relies on strength and cunning when battling a demon over a human’s soul. Needing a respite, he heads to the Colorado Mountains with his brother Cole who once sold his soul to a demon; Will the paramedic, Marty the Armorer, and Cameron the seminary school dropout.

Jesse almost changes his mind when powerful Axel the demon who craves his soul tells him he is glad to see the hunter on vacation. When the party arrives at the cabin, deformed hominoid creatures attack them; one bites the cabin owner’s son Zane who wears the mark of someone who sold his soul to a demon. Zane is dying but they cannot leave the cabin as they are surrounded by a horde of creatures. Jesse freaks when he realizes they are trapped by the Yeti who he has defeated before. The yeti demon bargains with Jesse for Zane’s soul. Axel arrives and seems on the side of Jesse and his friends; but the hunter knows how devious demons are when it comes to human soul harvesting.

K.A. Stewart’s second Jesse James Dawson thriller is an outstanding urban fantasy. The steadfast hero continues to remain duty diligent to protect the unsuspecting human race from demons that collect their souls. The protagonist knows never make a deal with a demon as it is like reading the fine print of a credit card contract in which A Devil in the Details will haunt the individual. The trapped vacationers will either male bond with trusting one another to protect their respective backs or become demon fodder in this super paranormal.

Harriet Klausner

The Darkest Heart-Thea Devine

The Darkest Heart
Thea Devine
Gallery, Jun 21 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781416562665

The inferno killed her heir Nicolai years ago leaving his mother Countess Lazlaric increasingly desperate to see her family heritage continue. Her remaining son Charles is a hedonistic wastrel, but he is all she has. The Countess believes luck has finally come her way when a missive from a distant relative Senna Landseth asks for help. The matriarch invites Senna to stay with her at Drom Manor hiding her plans for the biddable chit to wed Charles.

Unknown to her hostess, Senna is not her kin and she is pulling a con. However although welcomed by the Countess, the manor and the woman disturb Senna. For two decades Dominick Janau has impatiently waited to obtain revenge against the person who turned him into a vampire. However, he finds he wants Senna and vows to keep her safe as he also believes she might be the catalyst for his vendetta finally happening. Dominick rushes her to London to keep her safe even as Charles and his mother pursue them.

This entertaining gothic vampire romance engages the audience once the players are set. The complicated story line is fast-paced and the cast solid with a neat twist. However, it is the paranormal world that feels genuine, which sub-genre fans will relish as the heroine trapped in the center of an evil circumference learns that sometimes you get what you wish for.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hexed -Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345522498

Over two millennia old Atticus O'Sullivan hid in Tempe, Arizona behind soccer and the Third Eye Books and Herbs store as he knew Celtic God Aenghus Og wanted him dead; However instead the Druid did the impossible, killing two Tuatha De Danann and survived his battle with the God Aenghus Og though Atticus needs time to heal (see Hounded) and train his new mentee Granuaile. Instead he is in demand by a horde of people who want him to kill a God or two, or sell him life insurance.

Making matters more complicated is the arrival of Nazi witches and their demons he knew from his WWII in Europe days. They come to kick his butt while his pact with the local coven is in trouble. Finally there is the matter of the Fallen Angel dining on the locals and the Celtic Goddess wanting to dine on Atticus.

The second Iron Druid urban fantasy is a tongue in cheek fast-paced frolic as the hero wonders what happened to his nice safe world. His asides are amusing as he watches all the paranormal activity that suddenly has surfaced in Tempe. Fans of satirical wise ass heroes will want to join Atticus as he feels Hexed with the brewing battle against the horde of illegal aliens.

Harriet Klausner

Changeling Moon-Dani Harper

Changeling Moon
Dani Harper
Kensington Brava, Jun 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758265142

Psychic Zoey Tyler moves to freezing Northern Canada when she accepts the position of editor of the Dunvegan Herald Weekly. Besides struggling to adapt to the icy weather and avoiding her otherworldly skills, Zoey has a new issue. Rogue werewolf Bernie Gervais attacks her.

However, his assault is part of diabolical master plan to destroy the local Changeling pack; besides which he wants control of the newcomer’s psychic power. The town’s veterinarian and pack member Connor Macleod rescues her, but must prevent her transformation at the next full moon or else Gervais’ scheme may happen. The only hole in Gervais’ logic is the loving bond between his enemy and the psychic whose blood he craves.

This engaging Canadian romantic fantasy is a great thriller due to the readers believing in the Harper paranormal realm. Zoey is terrific as she holds the plot focused while the two males make her the focus of their attention; this lead triangle makes for an exciting time as the audience anticipates the confrontation. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the strong cast in a believable realm that makes for a powerful opening act.

Harriet Klausner

My Life as a White Trash Zombie-Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie
Diana Rowland
Daw, Jul 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756966752

In the Bayous of Louisiana, living in a dumpy old trailer with a drunk of a father, teenage dropout Angel Crawford knows she is a poster child for poor white trash. She is a pill and alcohol addict and a felon having bought and drove a stolen car even if she convinces herself the deal was legit. Angel wakes up one day in the hospital and learns she almost died from an overdose, but she has flashbacks that she was in a car with blood all over her. The delinquent assumes she hallucinated from drying out.

Her life careens further out of control when the nurse brings her clothes that she never owned and a cooler saying she could drink one bottle ever other day and if it goes on to say she has a job at the morgue as a van driver and a morgue tech. She takes the position because if she fails to do so the person who got her hired will inform her probation officer she has drugs in her system. At the morgue she has an overwhelming hunger to eat brains even as she works on dead people in the morgue. She smells of decay and realizes her body is rotting. She realizes she is a zombie and that a rogue zombie is indiscriminatingly killing people. Angel investigates though she could be permanently dead if she trusts the wrong person.

This is not the George Romero Z horror thriller as Diana Rowland has her zombies capable of performing cognitive thinking, abnormal strength and incredible speed; which enables the dead species to easily blend in with the general human populace. Alive, Angel was a lost soul; ironically as a dead head she has become a productive member of society who is removing the shakes of her past. This breezy read never takes itself seriously but the audience will enjoy this tongue in cheek zombie thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sinful Magic-Jennifer Lyon

Sinful Magic
Jennifer Lyon
Ballantine, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345520081

Having watched her mother the fertility witch use sex as a power enhancer Roxy Banfield rejects deploying her heritage as she prefers to be a polar opposite of her mom. Her preference is to live a simple loving life as a mortal. To achieve her objective seems simple enough to Roxy; as all she has to do is avoid her personal generator; the man who would ignite her fertility bewitching sexual skills that most likely would kill her bed mate.

In the Illusions bar, her concept is devastated when she meets fantasy comic book writer Wing Slayer Hunter Kieran “Key” DeMicca, who drew her as a witch before this encounter. He carries a dormant essence of Dyfyr the dragon who is the star of his comic books. Both are aroused by the encounter, but he learns that Liam his evil half-brother seeks the Dragon Tear which can kill the Wing Slayer god while Dyfyr awakens. Key and Roxy team up as the powers of each flow to the point of potentially killing them if they do not channel it properly.

The newest Wing Slayer urban romantic fantasy (see Blood Magic, Night Magic and Soul Magic) is a fabulous dark thriller loaded with action and romance. The Key to this engaging tale is the relationship between the witch and the artist as she fears her sex drive will kill her beloved while he fears that he will not live up to her sex drive. With an evil brother, awakening the dragon, and love; fans of the magical world of Jennifer Lyon will appreciate this superb entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Neon Graveyard-Vicki Pettersson

The Neon Graveyard
Vicki Pettersson
Avon, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061456794

In Las Vegas, Zodiac Troop member Joanna Archer was the Kairos savior prophesized to win the war between the Light and Dark. Now she is a pregnant shell of herself lacking her paranormal powers and even her beloved Hunter Lorenzo, who sired her unborn; is one of many who she loved and trusted betrayed her.

Still she refuses to quit as she fears never seeing her beloved Hunter imprisoned in Midheaven by Solange the demented goddess.She has become a member of the Greys shadow warriors ready to take the battle to evil including her father the Tulpa who wants to control his grandchild when the kid is born. As Solange tortures Hunter for betraying her, the insane goddess schemes to destroy what is left of Joanna’s soul perhaps through the former Kairos’ child. In Vegas, Warren, the Light Troop Leader has determined that Joanna is evil and must die along with her allies, but he wants the child who he claims is the true Kairos; innocent lives dying is acceptable to him.

The Neon Graveyard is a great finish to the strong Signs of the Zodiac urban fantasy. The story line is loaded with action, but it is the vivid contrasting descriptions of Vegas and Midheaven that makes the thriller enticing as the audience will want to know how it ends for Joanna and the Greys as the eternal enemies Light and Dark have a common cause to extinct these upstarts. Newcomers will not get the full savor of this terrific tense ending as it behooves the readers to have followed the five signs of the Zodiac before perusing the “Final Sign”.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of the Wicked-Karina Cooper

Blood of the Wicked
Karina Cooper
Avon, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062046857

Holy Order warrior Silas Smith is a true believer in the cause of hunting down and killing witches before they turn what is left of civilization that they original destroyed even deeper into the cesspool of hell. Jess Leigh tries to remain below the grid as a person who has done nothing wrong except be a witch.

In New Seattle at the Pussycat Perch strip jaunt, the hunter and the hunted meet. They are attracted to each other, but she knows his kind burn her kind at the stake. As Jess conceals her witch heritage, Silas reenlists her help as he goes after his target Caleb, a witch who happens to be her brother.

The first visit to the Dark Mission alternate earth is an exciting dark romantic urban fantasy romance in which Karina Cooper deftly constructs her mythos inside of the fast-paced and action-packed story line. The lead couple is a terrific taboo pairing as he hunts and kills her kind as being the Blood of the Wicked who destroyed the world; now as he falls in love Silas targets her sibling in Operation Echo Location. This is a superb first act as hot romance and dangerous adventure delightfully merge in the Cooper world.

Harriet Klausner

Devil Without a Cause-Terri Garey

Devil Without a Cause
Terri Garey
Avon, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061986390

In Atlanta, Georgia single mom Faith McFarland will do anything to save the life of her ailing preschooler child Nathan dying from brain cancer. She proves that when she makes a pact with the devil Sammy Divine who insists he can cure her son in exchange for her obtaining a ring that he wants.

Rock and roll superstar Finn Payne wears the ring that Sammy covets. Faith plans to seduce Finn, unaware that the rocker made his own Faustian deal symbolized by the ring. When the pair falls in love, that damnation ring remains between them.

Starting with Gabe’s visit to Sammy, fans will enjoy this spin off from the Nicki Styx saga (see Silent Night, Haunted Night). The story line is fast-paced with the lead couple struggling between their respective devilish deals and the Great Deceiver learning some stunning personal truths while asking questions about why the One allowed this son of his without prior warning to taste the forbidden fruit. Sammy proves he can star rather than play second fiddle to his Nicki as he learns some fascinating truths while the rocker and the despondent mother fall in love but the devil remains in the details.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Reluctant Vampire-Lynsay Sands

The Reluctant Vampire
Lynsay Sands
Avon, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061894596

In spite of her objection against babysitting the new teen vampire Stephanie, Marguerite assigns protection of the tyro to rogue hunter Drina Argenis. Knowing her leader never does anything without a secret agenda, Drina wonders why her when she only does field cleansing.

Marguerite believes her niece Drina and Harper Stoyan are life mates, but knows the latter will be in denial as his life mate Jenny died under eighteen months ago when he tried to turn her. Drina has no problem with Harper being hers, but knows he cannot accept the concept of two life mates so shortly apart. However, the pair better focus on living because someone wants Stephanie dead and killing two other vampires is acceptable to this unknown renegade.

This is a terrific entry in the Argeneau saga (see Born to Bite) as Lynsay Sands deftly adds humor starting with Drina’s descriptions of Tall, dark and doorstop, and includes self deprecating commentary mostly by Harper to a taut suspense thriller. The fast-paced story line hooks the audience from the moment the heroine lands in cold Canada for the first time and never slows down as Ms. Sands provides a fabulous tale that hooks us grateful throughout.

Harriet Klausner

Kitty's Big Trouble-Carrie Vaughn

Kitty's Big Trouble
Carrie Vaughn
Tor, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780765365651

Kitty Norville, alpha pack werewolf and radio show host of the talk show Midnight Hour, is curious as to what roles did the supernatural play in American History. At present she tries to prove that General William T. Sherman was a were, but all efforts to find answers seem blocked. She did learn from her vampire friend Rick that Wyatt Earp was a vampire.

She and her husband Ben go to Dodge City to see if they can verify the Earp claim, but encounter a vampire who dies in front of them. The deceased was wearing a Roman coin around his neck; which means he was controlled by the evil vampire Roman. Vampire Anastasia asks Kitty to visit her in San Francisco because Roman is there looking for the powerful artifact Dragon’s Tear. She needs Kitty, Ben and his cousin Cormac to distract Roman while Anastasia obtains the relic. When Kitty shows Anastasia the coin worn by the dead vampire, the Bay area vamp shows her the exact coin. She says Roman is close to possessing Dragon’s Tear, which will enable him to build an invincible army. Prevention is no longer an option; as they must risk their lives to take the artifact from the malevolent vampire.

Kitty’s latest adventures starts off with en entertaining look at history from a paranormal perspective, but quickly turns into a deadly threat to their wellbeing. Gender bender role switches as Kitty is the alpha and Ben the submissive beta in their pack (and relationship); her confidence in her skills including leadership grows. Humans know that the others exist, but most keep their distance as the vampires and weres have their old alien cultures. Series fans will enjoy the latest urban fantasy entry (see Kitty Goes to War) as Kitty and cohorts battle evil.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hunter’s Fall-Shiloh Walker

Hunter’s Fall
Shiloh Walker
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241806

Five centuries ago, Nessa the immortal witch held her lover Elias in her arms as he told her he would return to her just before he died. She became a member of the Hunters, whose mission is to control non-humans from attacking mortals. However, she has become wary of fighting and her beloved has not returned to her.

In Idaho Nessa suffers amnesia after a blow to the head during a brawl. Elias has returned as Dominic Ralston the vampire- hunter. He believes he is certifiable as he has spent a lifetime dreaming of the woman he loves but has not met. Now he knows his beloved is in trouble, if she is real, he would willingly would die to keep her safe. However, he must first find the woman who stars in his wet dreams even though he is unsure she exists.

The fifth Hunters romantic urban fantasy (see Hunter's Need and Hunter’s Salvation) is a terrific character driven thriller as Nessa and Dominic are psychically linked even before they meet at Excelsior for the first time in five hundred years. The story line is somewhat thin as the evil enemy wants both dead before they accept their intertwined fate; yet series fans will appreciate the well written second chance at love saga.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire in Atlantis-Alyssa Day

Vampire in Atlantis
Alyssa Day
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241790

Eleven millennia ago when Atlantis sunk beneath the sea, Daniel’s life figuratively ended with the death of his beloved Serai. Now the vampiric Night Guild mage is mentally wary and can no longer continue his existence after centuries of fighting his own kind and other evils on the side of the Warriors of Poseidon. He plans to die.

However, he is unaware that the leaders lied to him all those thousands of years ago. Instead to save the race, Serai and other chosen maidens were placed in voluntary stasis controlled by the Emperor jewel. The powerful gem was stolen and malevolent beings are deploying it. The jewel’s power awakens Serai who encounters her Daniel. Together, they must delay their reunion to recover the Emperor and save the other maidens.

The eighth Warriors of Poseidon romantic fantasy (see Atlantis Betrayed, Atlantis Redeemed and Atlantis Unmasked) is a fabulous entry that focuses as much on recapturing the jewel and freeing the maidens as it does the second chance at love between Daniel and Serai. The fast-paced story line contains a strong support cast and is loaded with action, but the tale belongs to the lead couple as they have thousands of years of separation that almost led to a Romeo and Juliet tragedy yet still somewhat delay their bedding for camping as they do what is best for their people.

Harriet Klausner

The Falling Machine-Andrew P. Mayer

The Falling Machine
Andrew P. Mayer
PYR, May 24 2011, $16.00
ISBN 9781616143756

In 1880 New York as the bridge to Brooklyn is being built, members of the secret Paragon society are stunned with the murder of their chief, Sir Dennis Darby. However, even more frightening is his inventions have been stolen by the killer. Darby’s prize creation Tom the AI automaton is considered excess junk by the Paragon who internally squabble over replacing their leader.

Aware of what he is and what happened to his inventor, Tom unites with Darby's top mentee twenty year old Sarah Stanton to investigate what led to the homicide and who killed Darby. They distrust the cabal that they belong to as those loyal argue over positions of authority and the use of Fortified Steam; while they fear evil adversaries have gained access to the inner sanctum of the Society of Steam.

The opening act of the Society of Steam historical amateur sleuth fantasy sets the New York world from the beginning at the Brooklyn side of the bridge construction when Sir Dennis asks Tom the Automaton whether he is bored. Thus readers will believe from the start and never feel otherwise that we are in a late Victorian age NYC. Although very few subplots are ended, readers will enjoy the teaming up of the beautiful intelligent Sarah and Tom the brilliant AI Automaton as they investigate the murder of their beloved mentor.

Harriet Klausner

City of Ruins-Kristine Kathryn Rusch

City of Ruins
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
PYR, May 24 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143695

Having found that first Dignity vessel and its Stealth Tech (see Diving into the Wreck), Boss, no longer a hermit and her crew seek more similar ancient ships and technology. Currently she and her Nobody’s Business team explore the ancient caverns of Vaycehn while remaining her stealth zeal as she knows the Empire leadership covets anything like Stealth Technology that would increase their power.

Boss struggles with not panicking in the eerie underworld environment as she is most comfortable in the vast openness of space. Adding to her consternation is technology seems to be failing inside these deadly widening holes where recently archeologists have died. The growing rips to the orb are tearing apart the planet at a time when the indigenous population wants the outsiders to leave.

This great futuristic science fiction thriller successfully deploys the underlying premise that to the victors goes the history books; the heroine and her team comprehend this generalization, but may not survive to tell anyone their lesson as they appear heading to become a forgotten loser. The story line is action-packed from the moment Boss comes to the planet as she and the readers find out more about Stealth Tech and the Dignity Vessels. City of Ruins is another intelligent action packed sojourn into the Rusch Diving universe.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shadow Walker-Allyson James

Shadow Walker
Allyson James
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241820

In a high speed chase Sheriff Nash Jones pursues Janet Begay. However his SUV and her motorcycle fall through a suddenly humongous sinkhole filled with magic and ghosts. With no storms nearby that she can tap into and with Nash apparently unconscious, she tries to mentally call out to her lover Mick Burns the dragon Firewalker and her Crossroads Hotel manager Cassandra the Wiccan for rescue.

Mick frees the trapped pair. Ted Wingate the new Hopi County safety inspector insists the historical hotel is unsafe. Hybrid Apache-hell goddess Gabrielle covets Janet’s Stormwalker power so she starts with an assault of the hotel. At the same time a Shadow Walker seeks her and Mick who apparently has become enthralled as a slave to an evil witch. Janet knows all the tsuris she and her friends suddenly face is caused by the Shadow Walker.

This is a great Stormwalker romantic urban fantasy though the emphasis is dramatically on the life and death struggles. Fast-paced yet very twisty, the story line bewitches the audience even more than the Shadow Walker does Mick. Set aside time as Allyson James provides sub-genre fans with one of the best entries of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Deeper Than Midnight-Lara Adrian

Deeper Than Midnight
Lara Adrian
Dell, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440246114

The vampire myth began when eight ancient outworlders came to earth and mated with those females who wore a Breed mark because they are capable of baring a Breed male offspring. In time, the sons turned against their evil and cruel sires, but one escaped their wrath and hid in hibernation.

In the present, Dragos imprisoned him and forced him to copulate with Breedmates. The Children of that union were Gen X warriors, who were more powerful than most of the breed. Dragos puts a slave collar on these children as he trains them to be amoral ruthless killers. Dragos’ enemy The Order liberates one of his killers Hunter who vows to kill his vicious jailer and his psychopathic brothers. The Order raid a compound and free Corrine Bishop held prisoner by their evil adversary for decades. When she and Hunter meet, there is an instant attraction, but neither can accept the soft feelings; he never knew love only hate and she had love tortured out of her. While fleeing from Dragos’ henchmen, Corrine resolutely wants to find her son Nathan, but conceals this from her escort until they make love. Hunter believes Corrine is setting herself up for heartbreak and perhaps death because like him her son is a trained ruthless killer. She persuades him they should try.

The ninth Midnight Breed romantic fantasy is a fantastic entry that is as great as its predecessors (see Taken by Midnight). The story is told from multiple viewpoints; readers will find especially refreshing and fascinating understanding how a breed feels when he enters the Bloodlust stage before he turns into a mindless Rogue who cares only about drinking human blood. The Adrian vampire mythos expands as series fans will appreciate the meaning of Home.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Werewolf-Glen Duncan

The Last Werewolf
Glen Duncan
Jul 12 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780307595089

Two centuries old Jake Marlowe is depressed in spite of the fact his physical health is good, he gets all the sex he craves and his high red meat diet is perfect for his metabolism as human fresh flesh is a delight. His despondency is caused by learning from his only friend Harley, who hacked into the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) database that the other remaining werewolf was just killed.

Jake considers suicide though that would make his species extinct. Meanwhile the vampires hunt him for a purpose that only a bloodsucker would comprehend; while a high ranking WOCOP official stalks him seeking vengeance for Jake dining on his father. Being hunted is not new to The Last Werewolf, but when backed to a cage wall the predator takes over as Jake hunts the hunters.

Jake is a fantastic intelligent and witty protagonist obsessed with the duo needs of sex and eat as he rarely psychologically moves above the Physiological lowest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; except when his life is at stake he climbs to the next level of personal Safety. The biographical fiction story line is driven by the title character who turns beastly when he hungers for sex or food; preferably together.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Vampire Narcise-Colleen Gleason

The Vampire Narcise
Colleen Gleason
Mira, May 24 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329954

Lucifer supplicant Cezar Moldavi knows his strongest weapon in his war against other Dracule elements is his seductive sister Narcise who he once gave to his Master. Cezar takes pleasure watching her out-duel men in sword play while keeping her imprisoned. Only one male meant anything to Narcise, but a decade ago mercenary Giordan Cale betrayed her by selling out to her odious sibling rather then keep his promise to free her.

In 1803 in Paris, vampire hunter Chas Woodmore helps Narcise escape from her brother’s house of torture. He takes her to London where she encounters Giordan, who owns a club. Giordan never forgot the woman he cherishes and surrendered all to her brother to take her with him, but received nothing except a broken heart. They still want each other, but she never forgets so she uses the enthralled vampire hunter as her tool to get at her only beloved. At the same time an outraged Cezar and his horde invade London.

The third Regency Draculia romantic fantasy (See The Vampire Voss and The Vampire Dmitri) is a terrific thriller in which betrayal is the key element as once burned by something worse than the sun leaves no one trusting anyone else. Fast-paced, fans anticipate the war of the Dracule as blood may be thicker than water, but will hatred prove stronger than love.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nightfall-Ellen Connor

Ellen Connor
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241691

In the middle of the twenty-first century, the first power grid failed in Eastern Europe; soon others followed as the east coast of America went dark while the wave continued to cross the broken country. Some claimed the End of Days Rapture had begun; while others insisted nuclear meltdowns and WMDs as the causes.

Her late dad predicted the end of days as the demise of technology followed by the Change, but Jenna Barclay thought her father was a survivalist lunatic. In Oregon the grid still works, but for how much longer? Former Marine John Mason owes a life debt to Jenna’s late father and pays the first installment by kidnapping his deceased guru’s daughter to take her to safety in the remote wild just before the magical change begins. Jenna thinks her abductor is as crazy as her dad was until mutant dogs attack them followed by meeting three adults and two children fleeing violent inhuman predators. Neither Jenna nor John is prepared for the Change that comes to them.

The first Dark Age Dawning thriller starts off as a science fiction collapse of civilization but deftly switches into a post-apocalyptic survivor fantasy reminiscent of Sterling E. Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey. The story line is fast-paced from the moment John takes Jenna to the cabin her father prepared for her. Aptly titled as Nightfall has fallen putting out the lights of civilization though pockets of packs change yet retain the essence of what is human in the new lethal world.

Harriet Klausner

Everdark-Elle Jasper

Elle Jasper
Signet, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233776

Savannah tattoo artist Riley Poe still recovers from her rescuing her younger brother Seth who released the strigoi vampires on a teen prank (see Afterlight). She owes guardian vampire Eli Dupre and his kin for their saving Seth and her from the vicious Strigoi Arcos siblings (Victorian and Valerian). The evil brothers injected her with their toxin. Although controlled somewhat by the intervention of Eli and his partners, Riley’s senses has been exponentially embellished including her need for sex, which Eli is glad to accommodate as he loves her and needs her unique special blood.

One other byproduct of the assault is she is psychically connected to maniacal Valerian as she witnesses the terror in the minds of his victims. Starting to understand the obsessive craving, Riley still needs help from an Undead expert; she knows the vamp she loves is the man for her. However, there is also a supernatural cleansing needed so she joins Eli and his team.

The second The Dark Ink Chronicles urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller as vampires needing their fix run wild in the coastal southeast. Although over the top of Hartwell Dam as sex dominates the story line, fans will enjoy the changes in the life of Riley who has become sympathetic with the blood addiction of vampires.

Harriet Klausner

Storm Kissed-Jessica Andersen

Storm Kissed
Jessica Andersen
Signet, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233752

A decade ago in Denver, teenagers Snake "Dez" Mendez and Reese Montana met and fell in love while defeating Cobra. However, their relationship ends when insane winikin Louis Keban, who Dez had run away from before he hooked up with Reese, caught up to the teen. Keban cut him with a cursed blade that changed Dez, turning him into a demonic possessed felon.

The Nightkeepers recruit Dez and remove the shadow from his brain. He diligently works at fighting evil in New Mexico as he believes he has an IOU for all problems he caused as a criminal. However, recently Dez vanishes without a trace. In Cancun, Nightkeeper leader Strike hires private investigator Reese to find Dez who she thought was dead in an incident three years ago. Reese locates Dez; he explains to her that he searches for Keban, who is fulfilling a prophecy that will bring Lord Vulture from the underworld; what he fails to tell his beloved is his role in bringing hell to earth.

The latest Nightkeepers urban fantasy built from the Mayan end times (see Demonkeepers and Blood Spells) is a .superb thriller due to Dez’s convoluted and conflicting relationships with Reese and Keban. Fast-paced and character driven with perspectives changing, fans will relish this exhilarating tale as Dez is pulled in two directions which has an enthralled audience who will win his soul.

Harriet Klausner

Hunt the Moon-Karen Chance

Hunt the Moon
Karen Chance
Signet, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451413079

Cassandra Palmer abetted by Pritkin the Mage killed her maker Apollo (see Curse the Dawn) when the god caused trouble in his efforts to return to this realm. Cassie looks forward to R&R as she is mentally and physically exhausted from the war with her creator.

Her time with Master vampire Senator Mircea Basarab ends abruptly when supernatural Spartnoi assassins try to kill her. Cassie assumes the attacks are to prevent her from being crowned the Pythia as the world’s chief clairvoyant. However, a master mage hypothesizes that Apollo’s death has triggered the Ragnarok war of the gods. Either way, someone or thing rejects the concept of Cassie being crowned.

The latest Cassandra Palmer fantasy (see Embrace the Night) is an exciting entry as the heroine needs a breather, but her enemies keep the pressure on her. The story line is fast-paced but held together by the beleaguered heroine who battles against supernatural assassins and a fear that the first order effect of her and Pritkin killing Apollo is Ragnarok has begun. Readers will relish this thriller that uses ancient mythology as a strong foundation.

Harriet Klausner

Wiccan Shadows-Lori J. Schiel

Wiccan Shadows
Lori J. Schiel
ImaJinn, Mar 31 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781610260022

Before Celia, High Priestess of the Laurel Tree Coven, met Jen the veterinarian, she was unaware of how many strays are out there. Thus she agrees to help Jen catch feral felines. Leaving behind her familiar Gordy the dog, Celia is in the woods trapping when she hears a terrifying noise. Panicking she flees but the growl gets louder and her car is no where in sight. Calming herself down, Celia knows she went the wrong way deeper into the woods while peacefully waiting for whatever the beast is to come for her, but as the assault comes she screams in horror.

As she continues to dream of death recently, Alex Grisham wonders what that means even as she ponders whether she should continue to live with controlling Glenn. Jen calls her asking if she heard from Celia as she could not go trapping with their High Priestess due to babysitting issues. Leaving her Berkley’s Books, Alex goes to Celia’s house to find Gordy alone. She takes Gordy with her. Alex with her familiar Rune the Abyssinian, her Wiccan Sisters and mysterious animal control officer “call me Dan” Danielson search for Celia. An unknown adversary attacks Alex, she believes one of the two men in her life wants her dead though she is unaware that the motive is evil which has begun a doomsday scheme.

The key to this superb investigative urban fantasy is the background of the Wiccan Sisters who are moms, veterinarians, bookstore owners, etc.; this anchors the paranormal in a normal environs. The story line is fast-paced as Alex and crew hunt for Celia while the heroine is torn between love and death. The first Wiccan Sisterhood paranormal thriller is am entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 13, 2011

Frostbound-Sharon Ashwood

Sharon Ashwood
Signet, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451231956

Fairview vampire sheriff Caravelli is on vacation; before leaving for his respite he hired Lore to patrol the streets insuring the vamps keep their fangs inside and the weres likewise with their claws. His hope for a quiet few days ends when he deals with a drunken hostile vampire.

Vampire Talia Rostova hides in plain sight in Fariview as she fears her lunatic sire King Belenos will find her. Talia lives in the condo of her human cousin Michelle who works as a hostess on the Queen Anne cruises. When someone murders Michelle, Talia feels remorse because she believes she brought death to her kind cousin; she knows Belenos and his and her family have found her. Lore investigates and captures Talia. He believes she is innocent and accepts her assertion that she was the intended victim though he fears the beast inside him may be clouding his judgment with Ravenous desire.

The latest Dark Forgotten urban fantasy (see Scorched and Unchained) is a terrific tale of forbidden love as vamps and weres do not mix. Talia’s family wants her dead even before she and the temporary sheriff heat the sheets. Lore may be the Alpha but his pack objects to his trysting with the enemy. The town and its residents add a powerful backdrop to a double dog dare fabulous romantic paranormal police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Breath of Angel-Karyn Henley

Breath of Angel
Karyn Henley
WaterBrook, Jun 21 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780307730121

Melaia the chantress welcomes the exhausted young man who enters the temple’s courtyard. Suddenly he looks up into the sky just as a gigantic hawk flies directly towards him with large unsheathed claws pointing directly at him. The bird of prey sinks its talon into his chest. A stunned Melaia pleads with the man to fight back as he carries a knife, but he does not. She hits the predator with a stick knocking it away from the victim. The bird soars into sky while the man with a bloody wing appears dead.

Melaia learns that the fight was the latest incarnation of a war between two immortal siblings who destroyed the stairway to heaven. Their fight has marooned angels who are forced to take refuge amidst the mortals while trying to repair the path home, but they know their work is futile as only remittance of an ancient debt can mend the broken highway to heaven. Melaia is now caught in the crosshairs due to her intervention and the belief that she is part of the payment past due.

The key to the exhilarating first Angeleon Circle teen fantasy is the heroine who seems like a sheltered courageous young adult who behaves as expected from a person with her background and experiences especially when she learns the truisms behind the myths. Although there are too many twists with most easy to anticipate, Breath of Angel is a wonderful fast-paced story from the first “deadly” encounter and never slows down as readers accompany Melaia when she journeys outside the temple’s walls in this entertaining parable.

Harriet Klausner

Hex-Allen Steele

Allen Steele
Ace, Jun 7 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441020362

The Coyote Federation belongs to the Talus interstellar association. The other species has been friendly to the humans over the years; that is except for the Danui. These arachnid super intelligent engineering species keep for the most part to their own kind. Thus the Danui are not hostile to humans just inaccessible.

When the Danui asks for a trade arrangement with the Coyote, the humans are stunned. Even more shocking is the hermit like Danui offers the use of a planet in their system. The Federation leaders accept the deal. Starship Captain Andromeda Carson leads her Carlos Montero CFSS crew and members of the Corps of Exploration including her estranged son Sean to the coordinates. Instead of a hospitable orb, they find an incredible engineering feat. The Danui built a sphere using billions of interlocking hexagons to enclose their system. The Coyote mission goes astray so Carson and crew struggle to survive while wondering what the enigmatic Danui really want from the humans.

The latest twenty fourth century Coyote science fiction (see Coyote Horizon and Coyote Destiny) is a super outer space thriller. The action-packed story line grips series fans from the moment that the Carolos Montero crew and passengers see the incredible Hex and never slows down until the final denouement. However, the key to this terrific entry is the attitudes of the visiting Coyote humans whose suspicions are enflamed by the unknown and embellished by rumors filling the information gaps about the Danui. They also wonder what the purpose is for the construction of one of the great wonders of the universe and they need to know what the real reason is for their invitation. This is a winner as humanity hates a vacuum so they will fill the void with “death squads”.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Unnatural Issue-Mercedes Lackey

Unnatural Issue
Mercedes Lackey
Daw, Jun 7 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756405755

Following the death of his beloved wife Rebecca in childbirth, Elemental Earth Master Sir Richard Whitestone vows to never see his newborn daughter. He becomes a hermit while servants raise his offspring Susanne.

Two decades later, Sir Richard comes to London for the first time since the death of his beloved because the Master of the Council Lord Alderscroft urged him to do so. There he sees his daughter for the first time ever. He is stunned as she is the twin image of his late spouse. The Earth Master now wants Susanne in his life, but not as his daughter. His plan is to use her body to host the spirit of his late wife. Susanne realizes why her father suddenly wants her in his life. To avoid being the vessel for her mother’s spirit, she flees from her father and his ominous plan. Susanne obtains a position as a servant in the household of Charles Kerridge. When Lord Peter Almsley visits Kerridge, he and Susanne meet; neither they nor others in their circle will be the same as her insane father is arranging the Second Coming of his wife.

The sixth Elemental Masters urban fantasy is an engaging tale as this time the trademark homage spin is to Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey (see Reserved for the Cat; respect to Puss N Boots). Though a bit over the top of Big Ben, the story is fast-paced from the moment an acrimonious Richard meets the offspring he holds culpable for his beloved’s death. Series fans will enjoy this father and child reunion as he has finally found a use for his adult daughter who he ignored except in his loathing of her.

Harriet Klausner

Promises to Keep-Charles de Lint

Promises to Keep
Charles de Lint
Tachyon, May 15 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781616960193

In 1972 on Halloween Eve, Jilly Coppercorn and Donna Birch run into each other on a Newford street. They were friends when both resided at the Tyson County Home for Wayward Girls. Excited Donna, who plays bass, invites Jilly to watch her band Big Earl and His Girls perform at Cool Hand Jukes.

Jilly’s friend Geordie who plays music says there is no such place at the locale described by Donna. He cannot accompany her as he has a gig so Jilly goes to the biker club alone. There she finds the dead relive their lives the way they wished they had the first time. Having overcome addiction and position, Jilly considers staying in what seems like paradise, but has not thought of how she would want her do over especially since this is a one way gig for a person who chooses to cross over btcause there is no return ticket.

This is an excellent intelligent Newford tale as Jilly reflects back on her bittersweet salad days as J.C. at the Home, her current status, and her future goals. Thought provoking while character driven by Jilly and Donna, fans will ponder choices that people make or have made for them. Although exciting as a supernatural thriller, it is the philosophy of to be or not to be that is the musing.

Harriet Klausner

Prophecy: The Fulfillment-Deborah A Jaeger

Prophecy: The Fulfillment
Deborah A Jaeger
Hampton House, Oct 15 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780982889107

In 2018 in the Nashville area, following the completion of her junior year at high school, seventeen year old Jillian Macomb and her boyfriend Jamie break up because he wants sex now and she vowed to wit until she married. Soon afterward, she learns from Dr. Richards that she is pregnant. Jillian insists she is a virgin but her parents and her doctor initially scoff at her assertion.

She begins to have dreams that she learns Stephen Jacobs, her father’s mentee, is having too. Each believes the child is special. Soon medical miracles begin to occur whenever Jillian is near. Ambitious geneticist Dr. Mullins believes Jillian's unborn is the source of the impossible healings that occur starting with one of his assistants. The Catholic Church and the American government want control of Jillian as each wants the child.

This is a super Christian thriller as the Second Coming in our twenty-first century world is met with scorn, skepticism and manipulation as miracles occur leading to believers including those desperate for a miraculous savior and others like the CIA, the Church and Dr. Mullins demanding control of the virgin mother and child. Readers will relish the reactions to the Second Coming.

Harriet Klausner

Forgotten Sea-Virginia Kantra

Forgotten Sea
Virginia Kantra
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241837

Fallen Angel Lara Rho is a nephilim who seeks out to help other Children of Air. Her efforts as a tyro Seeker lead to Justin Miller a sailor who she knows is not human yet not exactly nephilim.

When he is injured saving her from an assault, she takes him back to her school for nephilim. Her colleagues fear the unknown Jason and his power so they incarcerate him to Lara’s chagrin. She helps him escape and he begins to recover his memory he lost seven years when he was injured during a shipwreck. Jason realizes he is a lestyn selkie. Lara vows to return him to the Children of the Sea while her Children of Air mentors and the Children of Fire seek them out.

The fifth Children of the Sea romantic fantasy (see Immortal Sea) is a wonderful tale of forbidden love. The Air female and the Sea male are a delightful pairing of soul mates whose taboo love has them doing rash dangerous things that make them endearing to the reader. Besides a strong thriller, Forgotten Sea moves forward the overarching theme as Virginia Kantra provides an intense tale of air and sea bonding in love.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Snow-Nalini Singh

Kiss of Snow
Nalini Singh
Berkley, May 31 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780425242094

Sienna Lauren and her family escaped from PsyNet several years ago. They asked and received refuge amongst the SnowDancer wolf pack. Since joining the pack, X-Psy Sienna and alpha wolf Hawke have been at war with one another. Both respectively know in their gut, their gender battle has become a means to conceal their attraction to one another. Hawke’s mate died when he was a child so he fears taking the next step in the relationship with Sienna. She refuses to step out and risk her heart too as she expects her cold fire skill that she struggles to control will kill her before she turns twenty-five.

Meanwhile the Psy Council deploys plans to destroy the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs. That is the opening gamut to destroy the opposition to the Council. Although this will speed up her death, Sienna vows to use her power to save her clan while Hawke pledges to keep his beloved safe though he is unsure how to stop her from deploying the rare cold fire.

Psy/Changeling fans will love this great entry that contrasts the long anticipated heated relationship against the backdrop of a heated war. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action on the battle front and romantic fronts (there are actually two loving relationships in Kiss of Snow). Nalini Singh provides what may be the romantic fantasy of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hexed-Yasmine Galenorn, Allyson James, Jeanne C. Stein, Ilona Andrews

Yasmine Galenorn, Allyson James, Jeanne C. Stein, Ilona Andrews
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241769

“Magic Dreams” by Ilona Andrews. When evil threatens her unrequited love Jim the alpha of the Felidae cat clan, reticent nearsighted tigress Dali confronts the malevolence and her heart.

“Ice Shards” by Yasmine Galenorn. In the Otherworlds, sprite Iris accompanied by her friends (Camille, Smoky and Rozurial) travels to the Northlands to end a curse that prevents her from being with her true love.

“Double Hexed” by Allyson James. A lethal curse traps Janet the Stormwalker and her boyfriend Mick the dragon inside an Arizona hotel.

“Blood Debt” by Jeanne C. Stein. The witches ask Anna the vampire to rectify a wrong by killing a dangerous witch, but she fails to consider second and third order affects that may prove deadlier than the crone.

Placed in the fantasy realm of each of the contributing authors, sub-genre fans especially of these fantasists will appreciate this strong collection.

Harriet Klausner

Leviathan Wakes-James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes
James S.A. Corey
Orbit, Jun 15 2011, $15.99
ISBN 9780316129084

Inter-solar system relations between Earth, Mars, and the "Belter" colonies are colder than the temperatures of Neptune. In that hostile environment ice transporter Jim Holden and his employees work the run between Saturn and the asteroid belt. However, when his vessel receives an SOS from the Scopuli, a derelict Belter vessel, he and his crew investigate as there is evidence that he Martian military attacked the ship.

At the same time that Jim and his team make inquiries, Ceres Station detective Joe Miller suffers from stress. Burned out, he still finds it odd that there is a sudden dramatic decline in mob violence. However, he is more fascinated with the reported missing daughter of wealthy earth parents. As he investigates, his efforts interact with that of Jim. As the alleged terrorist Outer Planets Alliance and the biochemistry company Protogen are in the middle of the mess, civil war seems imminent.

This is an excellent futuristic outer space thriller as the Cold War between humans on Earth, Mars, several Moons, the Asteroid Belt and planets beyond is heating up. Jim is a terrific hero who is the sun that keeps the story line focused while the support cast starting with Julie on the Scopuli adds a sense of readers feeling we traverse the solar system. Filled with action, Leviathan Wakes is a fabulous science fiction thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Uncertain Places-Lisa Goldstein

The Uncertain Places
Lisa Goldstein
Tachyon, Jun 15 2011, $14.95
ISBN 9781616960148

In 1971 while attending Berkeley, Ben Avery introduces his roommate sophomore Will Taylor to the Feierabend sisters (Maddie the actress, Livvy the chemistry major and Rose the family historian). While Ben dates Maddie, Will falls in love with Livvy. However, Will finds Livvy’s affluent and seemingly fortunate family of all females odd. He especially does not understand the reactions of her two sisters and their mother Sylvia when Livvy falls into a coma like deep sleep as if they knew this was her destiny.

Will soon learns his beloved is under an enchantment spell that goes back generations to when the family made deal with the Beyond as written in a censored Grimm Brothers fairy tale The Bondsmaid. Desperate to awaken his sleeping beauty, Will searches for a way to circumvent the deal with no help from her family while the fairy perpetrators keep him off kilter though he vows to keep trying whether it takes two decades or his lifetime.

The key to this super fairy tale is the cast who make the legend of the Bondsmaid seem real. Will is a wonderful Prince Charming hero though his DNA would say otherwise and the three siblings are similar in the sense they all contain a special glamour but also are radically different in personality. The efforts of Will (with Ben as his sidekick) to awaken his Sleeping Beauty has so much occurring in the 1970s and 1980s that it could have been expanded into two romantic urban fantasies; as readers will relish as we root for the hero in his odyssey into The Uncertain Places of love.

Harriet Klausner

For Heaven’s Eyes Only-Simon R. Green

For Heaven’s Eyes Only
Simon R. Green
Roc, Jun 7 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9780451463951

Eddie “Shaman Bond” Drood, his lover Molly Metcalf the witch and his family defend humanity against evil paranormal monsters. Eddie and Molly learn of a horrific Satanist plot from beyond when his spirit was a prisoner in Limbo and she came to take him home to Drood Hall. Needing help, Eddie enlists his Uncles the Armourer and the Librarian and Molly’s sister Isabella.

The team finds further evidence of the Great Sacrifice project that has been deployed in Little Stoke. A confused Eddie and Molly obtain assistance from Ammonia vom Acht the telepath to enable the Librarian to fully function. As they dig deeper, neither Eddie, Molly or the rest of team anticipated the betrayal that leaves their side tottering towards hell since the armor fails while earth is being turned into a supernatural battlefield with a paranormal weapons commodity market thriving in the Himalayas.

The latest Secret Histories urban (and mountain) fantasy (see From Hell with Love) is a superb thriller that has the Drood brood trying to save the world. The story line is fast-paced and satirically over the top of the Himalayas as Eddie’s zoo crew is certifiable, but then again who would not be if they were fighting supernatural monsters. With a lampooning nod to James Bond in an urban fantasy earth, fans will relish For Heavens Eyes Only and await the direct sequel Live and Let Drood.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Quantum Thief-Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief
Hannu Rajaniemi
Tor, May 10 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765329493

Mysterious Mieli breaks out master thief Jean le Flambeur from the infamous Dilemma Prison run by the Archons of the Sobernost collective of the Inner Solar System. Flambeur never thought he would escape from the eternal mind boggling incarceration in which he was deftly mentally tortured into participating in games against himself in which he either killed or was killed by Flambeur.

His liberator takes a grateful Flambeur on her sentient ship to the Martian moving city Oubliette where the commodity markets include the selling and buying of time. The Tzaddiks law enforcers send Detective Isidore Beautrelet to do grunt field work on Mars. Soon the thief and the cop intersect with neither any longer sure of their past or present as memory is sold along side of time on the exchange.

This is a great intelligent science fiction thriller that uses quantum physics theories fueled by the seven deadly sins to take a fabulous tale. The story line is convoluted and difficult initially to grasp as Flambeur competes in deadly games against himself; he even conceals his most significant secret from himself. This may be the best quantum spin which grasps the scientific theoretical complexities inside of an exhilarating thriller since Vanna Bonta's 1998 Flight or perhaps the 1980s Professor Q books of Trevor Hoyle.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Inheritance: And Other Stories-Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm

The Inheritance: And Other Stories
Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm
Harper Voyager, May 3 2011, $15.99
ISBN: 9780061561641

This ten story collection showcases how talented Margaret Lindholm is as both her pseudonyms have published super shots and novels. The introduction will fascinate fans of “both” writers as to how the two names and their distinct styles came into being. Part I focuses on the Lindholm persona with seven modern day profound science fiction and fantasy tales that place people in subtly extraordinary situations; five of them previously published between 1989 and 1993 all worth making the “Cut”. These also include two award finalists (“A Touch of Lavender” and “Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man”) and two new shorts (“Finis” and “Drum Machine”). Part II provides three Robin Hobb medieval-like fantasies with two previously published (the novella “Homecoming” and the title tale “The Inheritance” both in the Realm of the Elderlings). The final contribution “Cat’s Meat” is a new story.

All ten entries are well written and affirm why Margaret Lindholm as Megan Lindholm and as Robin Hobbs is critically acclaimed. Part of the fun is to compare the writing styles to see if the reader can draw the conclusion that Duane Wilkins did. Though I still fail to see what he saw except that in each contribution regardless of size the star(s) are fully developed and that in either persona this winning anthology affirms the talent of Ms. Lindholm.

Harriet Klausner

Chasing the Moon-A. Lee Martinez

Chasing the Moon
A. Lee Martinez
Orbit, May 25 2011, $19.99
ISBN: 9780316093552

Diana is apartment hunting when she believes she has found the ideal place for the amount of money she can afford. However, her landlord forgot to mention her roommate in Apartment 5. Inside the closet resides ancient Vom the Hungering monster ready to be served his next meal, Diana is on the menu in case she forgets to feed the vociferous beast.

She soon meets all types of new bizarre friends and learns of at least two groups exist. First there are the monsters who dine on humans like her roommate and then there are the monsters who dine on galaxies. However, her new lifestyle becomes imperiled when Calvin the Moon monster plans to make earth into a new asteroid belt.

No writer does humorous horror better than A. Lee Martinez consistently does as the author this time satirizes the haunted apartment and apocalypse now themes through a collection of weirdoes. The story line is fast-paced in spite of seemingly being all over the place. In many ways the plot is a coming of age tale as Diana grows into her new role of the monsters’ zookeeper and protector. Fans of off the wall urban fantasy will appreciate Diana’s new apartment.

Harriet Klausner

The Rogue-Trudi Canavan

The Rogue
Trudi Canavan
Orbit, May 11 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780316037860

Centuries have passed since Lyralia freed itself from the yoke of the Sachakan Empire. However, even with the passage of hundreds of years there remains a wary alliance between the two lands as both have long memories fostering distrust.

Inside the main Kyralia city, a pleasure drug is being illegally sold. This substance depletes the user’s energy. The Kyralia leaders fear Sachakan magicians are behind the insidious drug as these mages take the strengths of people to enhance their prowess. If not these magicians, the Kyralia still fears the Empire sensing weakness and will invade. Meanwhile Lorkin of the Empire tries to learn the magic of Kyralia from the rebellious reticent Traitors while Sonea hunts for Cery the rogue who she believes is behind the enervating drug.

The second Traitor Spy fantasy is an enjoyable tale that fans of the Black Magician realm will enjoy if they read The Ambassador’s Mission. The entertaining story line continues the previous book's main threads, but lacks any major subplot completion as it mostly sets up the next book. Still, the cast is powerful and fully developed; while the politics and machinations between the two nations brilliantly convoluted. Readers will look forward to the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Magic Slays-Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays
Ilona Andrews
Ace, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020423

Still reeling from her deadly insane Aunt Erra’s destruction that included her Atlanta apartment, Kate Daniels left the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. She has become the Mate (some say lady or Alpha) of Curran the Beast Lord. . Now the Mate of the Beast Lord Curran, she opens up Cutting Edge Investigations.

However, clients are few as the Order spreads nasty commentary about her and many fear hiring her as they do not want to alienate her mate. Ghastek the Master of the Dead navigator, who works for the People cult-corporation, asks for help as he hunts down a loose vampire; she chains the deadly predator, but all hell breaks loose with the Atlanta Police Department PAD unit firing at everyone. Kate’s BFF Andrea Nash the Beaskin Order of Knights comes to her rescue and joins the firm. Soon after that debacle, The Red Guard asks her to find missing engineer Adam Kamen, a brilliant applied magic theorist, and the device he was working on. They promise Rene of the Guard it will be done subtly, but nothing goes right especially when they learn the capability of Kamen’s gizmo.

This is a superb urban fantasy that grips the reader from the moment all hell breaks loose on the street outside of and in Kate’s office, and never slows down as her BFF joins her with the missing person’s search and much more. Kate is terrific and the return of Andrea will be appreciated by fans of the magical series. This fresh entry is also a nice place for newcomers to take the dive.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Glass Demon-Helen Grant

The Glass Demon
Helen Grant
Delacorte, Jun 14 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385344197

After feeling unfairly shunted aside for the position of medieval studies professor due, in his opinion, to jealousy and nepotism, Dr. Fox decides to implement his dreams of becoming the media’s darling of anything erotically medieval. As such he knows the perfect solution to instant Indiana Jones like fame. He leaves London for Germany in search of the legendary missing for two centuries Allerheiligen church stained glass windows allegedly cursed by Bonschariant the Glass Demon; supposedly having caused the deaths of previous seekers of the valuable glass worth millions.

With his wife Tuesday, his two daughters (Polly and Lin) and his infant son Reuben with him, Fox journeys to remote Germany where they stay at a run down castle. Lin finds the corpse of an elderly farmer, which her father says to ignore; and she soon becomes friends with her new neighbor, Michel Reinartz. However, as Polly watches Ru, and Tuesday fixes her hair, Lin realizes the local want her family to go back to England out of fear of what Fox will bring to those who abet his search. Soon another mysterious death occurs making the seventeen year old Lin wonder if Bonschariant is not just real but stalking them.

This is a great horror thriller that uses the real Allerheiligen church stained glass windows as an anchor for a fast-paced tale that shows the grimmer side to fairy tales. Lin narrates what happens to her family and associates as she must overcome her fears to try to save her loved ones by solving the mystery of the glass. Readers will appreciate this terrific story as Lin gets closer to the truth of whether Bonschariant exists; incidents have already made her a curse believer.

Harriet Klausner