Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tears of the Sun-S.M. Stirling

Tears of the Sun
S.M. Stirling
Roc, Sep 6 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780451464156

A quarter of a century has passed since the 1998 Change killed over 90% of the human population in one year. Modern civilization around the globe was sent back to pre industrial revolution as things stopped working. Small pockets of survivors banded together to cope with the ordeal.

With his beloved Mathilda Arminger at his side, Rudi Mackenzie has completed the first part of his quest by finding the Sword of the Lady forged for him before he was born. He becomes the High King of Montival King Artos as he unites western North America. For the betterment and protection of his followers although he expects to die, King Artos leads the fight against the Big Sky based Church Universal and Triumphant.

Although the main thrust is Rudi, subplots involving the Dundain Rangers, d’Ath the Grand Constable of the Portland Protectorate Association and Wiccan in several locales star in critical subplots. Thus the action is less intense than previous Emberverse entries (see The Sword of the Lady), but enhances the impact of the Change by 2023 while also setting up fresh hot zones for the future thrillers. In spite of being a transitional novel, Tears of the Sun engages fans of the saga who will anxiously await the next Change.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Kin-M.J. Scott

Shadow Kin
M.J. Scott
Roc, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451464040

Blood Lord Lucius orders the “soulless” wraith he raised as an assassin to kill human sunmage Simon DuCaine. Lily goes after Simon, but he defeats her. Instead of killing Lily, Simon lets her live though he is not being altruistic.

He and his Templar knight brother believe Lily is the proof that Lucius broke the City’s treaty signed by the Blood Lords, Beast Kind, the Fae and the Humans. He pleads with his captive to testify against the master who raised her. He is attracted to the “Nightseeking whore” who glides like a shadow between worlds. She believes joining him in the light is impossible though she is falling in love with the mage who showed her mercy though she knows he condemned her as being like his sister Edwina.

The Shadow Kin political fantasy is a fabulous tale as the world of Scott comes vividly alive through the competing machinations between the prime groups. Blood Lords and the Beast Kind rule the Night World; while Fae and human mages guard the rest of the Half Light City. Fast-paced from the onset, fans will relish this strong thriller though the romance never quite gels with the pasts of the two protagonists except when they curse at each other.

Harriet Klausner

Crossroads-Jeanne C. Stein

Jeanne C. Stein
Ace, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020775

In Mission Beach, SDPD Detective Harris visits Anna Strong over odd anomalies involving two hundred year old DNA found in the fiery death of his late boss Warren Williams. She knows she is the “Chosen One” (see Retribution). However, she needs a little time to accept her destiny and grieve the loss of her mentor and the betrayal of her late lover. However, the battle against Chael the vampire is still on as the ancient one challenges her position as he believes vampires belong at the top of the food chain not roaches scurrying for food.

Anna’s former human lover Drug Enforcement Agent Max asks for her help to end the murderous terror of a rogue vampire. This Undead transports people across the Mexican border, but once stateside he drains the blood from his human cargo. Her partner David has found out some information about his lost weekend that Anna would prefer he not remember. Anna confronts Chael who implies he knows how she can return to being human, her fondest desire. To do so Anna must locate a Navajo shaman living as a hermit on a reservation. Chael also makes Anna realize he knows shapeshifter Daniel Frey has a young son that Anna fears the vampire or something else will target.

This is an enjoyable Anna Strong, Vampire urban fantasy as the heroine’s life keeps getting increasingly complicated. Besides dealing with vampires like Chael, the human trafficker and the late chief’s wife, she also has issues with humans like Harris and David. However, this is nothing compared to what awaits the hero on the Navaho Nation.

Harriet Klausner

Bloodlines-Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead
Razorbill/Penguin, August 23 2011, $18.99
ISBN: 9781595143174

Four Alchemists arrive at the home of Sydney, her parents and her sister Zoe. Sydney assumes they will send her to a reeducation center for her assistance to Rose Hathaway the dhampir (see the Vampire Academy series). Instead they want Zoe, but her dad says his frightened youngest is not ready to protect other humans from vampires. He suggests Sydney instead. Reluctantly they agree so with a warning they will assign teenaged Sydney to protect Moroi vampire Queen Lissa Dragomir's half-sister Jill from an assassin. The plan is to hide the princess at Amberwood Prep, a Palm Springs, California exclusive school for humans while Sydney poses as Jill’s older sister.

Sydney knows this will not be an easy assignment as she has been indoctrinated with the belief that vampires are predatory monsters though her work has her dividing the undead into two sub-species, the evil Strigoi and the Moroi. The safe school includes sleazy Keith who blames Sydney for his troubles and her friend Adrian who helps her though she has a different kind of help in mind. She finds the prep school has unsafe secrets.

The start of a related to the Vampire Academy new series, Bloodlines is an engaging urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine who keeps the exciting story line focused. Sydney accepts a job she does not want to protect her sister and to gain fatherly approval while hoping to get out of trouble with the Alchemist hierarchy. Besides the fun of crossovers like Adrian, Sydney brings freshness with her personality so different from the extroverted VA protagonists. Although this reviewer has a problem with teenage females dieting to size zero to obtain approval from family and friends, readers will enjoy Sydney’s Palm Springs adventures.

Harriet Klausner

With Fate Conspire-Marie Brennan

With Fate Conspire
Marie Brennan
Tor, Aug 30 2011, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765325372

For over three centuries, the Onyx Court of the Fae has existed beneath London. Most humans living above ground are unaware of those residing underneath the city. However, several decades ago, the Industrial Revolution began a new iron age as pipes, bridges and rails run over and under the city; iron is lethal to the Fae whose species has become endangered with short term extinction a likely outcome as their magical realm rapidly diminishes. Only the resolute Queen Lune keeps at bay imminent extinction, but she is dying.

Meanwhile Eliza O'Malley continues her seven years old fruitless search for her vanished best friend Owen who she insists was kidnapped by the fairy; people believe she is insane. Like Lune, Eliza refuses to quit as she seeks the dog man, Goblin Market head gangster Nadrett’s slave Dead Rick who betrayed her Owen. Ironically Dead Rick is perhaps the only one who empathizes with Eliza as he wants the return of his stolen memory that Nadrett, as he has done with humans and fae, took from him.

The fourth Onyx Court Victorian fantasy (see Midnight Never Come, in Ashes Lie and A Star Shall Fall) is a terrific tale anchored by one of the best sub-genre backgrounds in recent memory though that also slows down the start of the thriller. Described with dark Dickensian depth in the human and Fae realms, fans will envision the grim squalor of Goblin Court and mortal London as well as the hopelessness of the Onyx Court as urban development fostered by iron encroaches. The key cast is solid as readers anticipate a confrontation between the three determined antagonists as the new Iron Age is destroying Onyx Court and the Fae.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Blood Ties-Mari Mancusi

Blood Ties
Mari Mancusi
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780425241363

All she wanted was a normal life but Sunny McDonald was born to be a slayer; was actually a vampire for six days; and has a vampire Magus leader of the Blood Coven as a boyfriend. On top of that she is also a fairy princess who is second in line to the throne. Magnus heads to Japan with the other vampire covens that make up the Consortium to fight the Alphas a fanatical splinter group that once belonged to Slayer, Inc. The group broke off from the alliance that polices vampires.

Sunny, a vampire slayer talks Magnus into going to Glastonbury, England with her sister, a vampire and a slayer and her boyfriend Jayden so he can ask the Druid if he can drink a drop of blood from the Holy Grail. They arrive too late as the Alphas stole the Grail. Magnus leaves the pair in a safe house while he goes to Japan, but when she hears that her friend ordered Jayden poisoned, they escape and flee to Japan where Sunny plans to take the fight to the Alphas in order to retrieve the Grail and confront Magnus. Meanwhile a supernatural civil war has ignited between vampires and slayers.

This exciting teen urban fantasy (see Boys That Bite and Stake That) continues the bloody darker spin somewhat lightened by campy humor that started when the twins were sent to Night School in Switzerland for their safety. The dilemma Sunny faces is similar in potential consequences as that she confronted in Night School, fast-paced with the focus is mostly on her; she fears whatever she does will lead to the death of someone she cherishes or her own demise.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Cursed-Erica Hayes

Blood Cursed
Erica Hayes
St. Martin’s, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312624712

At the Unseeling Court nightclub in Melbourne, Jasper the dark fae pimps his girlfriend Emmy to the vampires. The Undead pay exorbitant amounts of money to taste the nectar of bloodfairy juice. The bloodwhore and her pimp rob the dazed bloodsucker. However, Emmy is emotionally hurt when she sees Jasper kissing ardently another female fae.

Glassfairy Diamond the gangster takes Ember under his wings as she has something he wants. Ember stole crystals from Kane who demands their return with a catch; whoever does so must enter hell to do so, but not entering hell would prove worse. Diamond knows Ember is an expendable pawn in a gangland war, but he loves her. Ember distrusts Diamond especially since she loves him, but if she wants to live he is her only chance.

This is an interesting Australian urban romantic fantasy in which the world of Erica Hayes is a dark, gloomy and bloody as the readers tours this alternate Melbourne mob underground. The story line is fast-paced even with a need to adapt to the butchered “speechified” way Diamond talks. Fans will enjoy the latest exhilarating Shadowfae Chronicles (see Poison Kissed, Shadowfae and Shadowglass).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 29, 2011

Blood Rules-Christine Cody

Blood Rules
Christine Cody
Ace, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780441020768

Her werewolf has increasingly tried to take control of Mariah Lysander. At the same her vampire bond mate Gabriel loathes Mariah for killing his beloved Abby though the latter challenged the former for her place in the secret werewolf community hierarchy. So fearing she is becoming out of control and knowing how her mate feels about her, Mariah leaves the safe were-species habitat.

Mariah hopes to control the beast. She travels the American wasteland where water is the most precious commodity. At the same time she enters a dead zone necropolis of the diseased and meets 562, a former government Shredder Johnson Stamp who stalks the Were and Vamps with one mission: kill them.

This exhilarating return to the post-apocalyptic American Bloodlands is a super action-packed entry as readers will ponder just who the monsters are. Angst-laden with Mariah feeling guilty for some of her deeds and Subject 562 seeking redemption of sorts, fans will enjoy this exciting thriller. Rotating perspective mostly between Mariah, Gabriel and Stamp, readers will see how the trio agree that Christine Cody’s color of choice is a gory landscape from sea to bloody sea.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Home Improvement: Undead Edition-Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
Ace, Aug 2 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441020355

This fourteen urban fantasy anthology are tongue in cheek tales that humorously lampoons the sub-genre and self help guides. All the entries are lighthearted fun as the readers leans the true meaning of bump in the night. The editors book end the collection as Charlaine Harris opens with Sookie greeted by a newcomer when a wall comes down in “If I Had a Hammer”; while Toni L.P. Kelner finishes the book with “In Brightest Day” in which raising the dead Gorrfried proves difficult as he keeps getting dead. Elyna “Gray ” (Patricia Brigg’s learns you can’t go home to renovate in Chicago. Broahm calls “Wizard Home Security” (by Victor Gichler) when someone broke into his home. In New Orleans, Defeo goes home to find pig’s “Blood on the Walls” of the family tombs by Heather Graham. The European knows he needs to change his GPS now that he is in the American Midwest’s Switzerland Wisconsin learning first hand about “Woolsey’s Kitchen Nightmare” by E. E. Knight. All the entries are enjoyable humorous Home Improvement tales that Tim Taylor would appreciate the paranormal power tools.

Harriet Klausner

One Salt Sea-Seanan McGuire

One Salt Sea
Seanan McGuire
Daw, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756406837

An unknown adversary kidnapped the three sons of the Duchess of Saltmist Diandra. The ruler of the undersea duchy believes the Queen of the Mists abducted her children. Toby saves the life of the Diandra’s spouse Patrick from an assassin. Still the Duchess gives the Countess of Goldengreen October “Toby” Daye and the latter’s boyfriend Connor O’Dell three days to safely bring home her children and prove that the Queen did not take the lads by finding out who did or war at land and at sea will follow.

Toby, her newest squire Quentin, Connor, the Luidaeg and Tybalt investigate the abduction on the streets of San Francisco. However, the clues lead to the Pacific. Someone insanely ignores Oberon’s Laws and ergo wants to prevent Toby and her team from succeeding in rescuing the abducted sons; that adversary uses any deadly means necessary.

The latest Toby Daye urban fantasy (see Late Eclipses) is an excellent entry that focuses on the convoluted untrustworthy agreements between the paranormal leaders. With a stunning late twist, the story line is a fast-paced exciting thriller. Fans of the series will relish Toby’s latest escapades as the clues lead increasingly to a paranormal psychopath.

Harriet Klausner

The Unincorporated Woman-Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

The Unincorporated Woman
Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
Tor, Aug 16 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765319043

Awakening from a cryogenically preserved facility Justin Cord (see The Unincorporated Man) led the rebellion against the incorporated dictatorship. He became President of the Outer Alliance bringing hope to many unincorporated like he was labeled. Everything changed when he was assassinated. General Janet Delgado “J.D.” Black replaced Cord as the leader, but she knows she belongs on the battlefield leading the Outer Alliance in The Unincorporated War against the United Human Federation.

Desperate to keep the fervor alive, the Alliance locates a cryo container holding Sandra O'Toole, who like Cord lived during the time of freedom. The Alliance revives her as an Unincorporated Woman though they do not expect her to be anywhere near Cord in terms of quality leadership. Instead she is to be the symbol of freedom as a puppet. However, she proves to be much more than anyone anticipated.

The third visit to the Kollin universe contains another fresh fantastic futuristic science fiction thriller. The story line is fast-paced even during the passive moments with soliloquies provide insight into the minds and motives of the key players. Fans of the saga will relish the latest twisting leap into the Kollin squared realm while newcomers should read the first two books (see The Unincorporated Man and The Unincorporated War) to understand how the OA and the UHF got to this point.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Vampire Next Door-Ashlyn Chase

The Vampire Next Door
Ashlyn Chase
Sourcebooks, Aug 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402236631

Sly Flores the vampire misses his wife who died over two decades ago. Now a caring loner except for his daughter Merry, he patrols his neighborhood keeping it safe from crime. One night Sly intervenes when a mugger attacks a young woman. He takes a bite into the felon only to chip a fang on the dude’s sterling silver knockoff bling, which is poison to his kind.

He quickly races to the apartment of his friend Morgaine the psychic healer so that she can cure him of his illness. Morgaine loves Sly; she makes the elixir he needs. Meanwhile apartment 1b dubbed the “love shack” below that of Morgaine becomes vacant; so Merry plans to move her lonely dad in so that he and Morgaine can become an entry. At the same time that his offspring pulls his string, others plan to keep Sly and Morgaine apart.

To the delight of fans, Ashlyn Chase provides a wonderful romantic urban fantasy in which readers will believe that a vampire, a wiccan and other paranormal live next door. Sly is attracted to Morgaine but fails to act on it though she encourages the love of her life to do so; as do his daughter and other caring souls. The suspense enhances the romance between the vampire and the wiccan in the Chase universe.

Harriet Klausner

The Lady of the Storm-Kathryne Kennedy

The Lady of the Storm
Kathryne Kennedy
Sourcebooks, Aug 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781402236532

The humans rebel against the malevolent Elven lords who control much of England. The hope of the rebels lies with hybrid Cecily Sutton, daughter of Imperial Lord Breden Elven Lord of Dewhame and a human female. At nines years of age she was placed in hiding with fifteen year Giles Beaumont assigned to keep Cecily safe.

By 1734, the Elven learns who she is, where she hides in Devon, and what she means to the resistance. She is a threat to the Elven who must die. Cecily knows she loves her guardian who is a dunderhead when it comes to his feelings for her though any time he has sex with a woman he dreams of her. As they head to the center of the storm, she must learn to control her magic to use as the critical weapon against the oppressors.

The latest Kathryne Kennedy Georgian romantic fantasy (see The Fire Lord's Lover) is a fabulous tale that deftly provides an alternative historical England in which Elven Lords brutally rule. The story line is leisurely paced as the relationship between the lead couple evolves while they flee from a persistent lethal adversary. Sub-genre readers will enjoy a trek into the Kennedy realm.

Harriet Klausner

Aftermath-Ann Aguirre

Ann Aguirre
Ace, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020782

Sirantha Jax saved the galaxy from total annihilation from the invading flesh-eating Morgut armada. To do so, she disobeyed orders and destroyed the grimspace beacons that enabled interstellar jumps and six hundred Conglomerate soldiers died (see Killbox).

Jax manages to return from grimspace, but is arrested for dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder and high treason. If convicted on any of these charges she will be executed. Adding to her sense of isolation, her friends and allies are not allowed to visit her. She knows she has no chance of acquittal as almost no one believes the Morgut threat now that it is over. However, Jax knows if she survives her trial, she must find a way to liberate the Lorcas as pledged by her.

This is a great science fiction tale in a strong series as the heroine disobeyed a direct command in Killbox and must pay the price for her actions. The overarching theme moves forward as several subplots end while Sirantha Jax knows saving her galaxy is not enough to keep her from being haunted by her decision to kill six hundred of her comrades in arms or being potentially spaced if the jury verdict is guilty. The trial is handled deftly providing a refreshing legal procedural subplot to a powerful outer space thriller as anyone who visits the Ann Aguirre universe knows is an entertaining exciting realm.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Those Across The River-Christopher Buehlman

Those Across The River
Christopher Buehlman
Ace, Sep 6 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441020676

Former University of Michigan professor Frank Nichols accompanied by his almost wife Eudora travels from Chicago to Whitbrow, Georgia where he inherited a yellow house from an Aunt Dottie McComb whom he never knew existed. Dora dubs the place The Canary House. Frank plans to write the definitive historical about his family's Savoyard Plantation to include the atrocities that occurred there while Dora dislikes the idea of bringing literarily life to his late malevolent great grandfather.

Frank and Dora find they enjoy the quiet friendliness of the townsfolk. Then the trouble begins as it has in past generations. Something evil is killing people. Frank and other locals vow to find out who or what and end the reign of terror that has waited dormant at Savoyard Plantation for Frank to arrive to pay a family blood debt.

This is an exciting horror thriller that starts slow and meanders a bit as the local area is established. Once the rural Georgia background, which will remind readers of James Dickey’s Deliverance even with tea socials, is set, the action-packed story line accelerates as the evil comes to collect. Frank holds the plot together as the prime focus of the dreaded malevolence.

Harriet Klausner

Down the Mysterly River-Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (illustrator)

Down the Mysterly River
Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (illustrator)
Starscape (Tor). Sep 13 2011, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765327925

Boy Scout Max “the Wolf” excels at being prepared for anything. So he is confused with finding himself waking on a road in a forest when he cannot recall how he arrived at his present location or where the path leads to. His journey goes from odd to bizarre when he encounters Banderbrock the badger who can communicate with him and is as bewildered as Max is for the same reasons. They are joined by the equally perplexed McTavish the cat and Walden the bear.

As the foursome leisurely walk, talk, and argue the Blue Cutters stalk the quartet. These hunters change the essence of beings to make them conform to their notion of literally a narrow society. Only the wizard can keep them from being altered, but Max fears this mage who is the keeper of the sacred script in which he may swiftly delete the Boy Scout from solving mysteries.

Down the Mysterly River is an entertaining metafiction fantasy that targets middle school students, but adult fans of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday’s Next saga will enjoy it too. The illustrations by Mark Buckingham enhance the entertaining story line as Bill Willingham provides an engaging complex thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Circle of Enemies-Harry Connolly

Circle of Enemies
Harry Connolly
Del Rey, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780345508911

The Twenty Palace Society of sorcerers kept car thief and amateur magician Ray Lilly from prison time. In return he provides the mages with non-magical support mostly manual labor.

Ray receives an enigmatic message from a friend that sends him rushing to Los Angeles. Magic has hammered his former car ring associates. They hold him culpable because the sorcerer who cast the deadly enchantment is Wally King who blackmailed him into becoming the pawn of the Twenty Palace Society. Ray searches for the magical source in order to save his friends’ lives while increasingly doubting the motives of his puppeteers who claim they save the world from other dimensional monsters while he has killed innocent people for them.

The final Twenty Palaces urban fantasy thriller (see Child of Fire and Game of Cages) is a great morality tale as the protagonist struggles between duty and honor with the weight of the dead innocents he has killed making the tale. Remorseful Ray understands the mission of the Society is to protect the world from magical predators, but wonders who will protect the world from the Society as collateral damage is an acceptable practice. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Ray’s timely and angst ethical dilemma (think of drones in the war against terrorism) makes for a great tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Postmortal -Drew Magary

The Postmortal
Drew Magary
Penguin, Aug 30 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780143119821

The postmortals voluntarily have taken the Fountain of Youth Cure gene therapy that allows the recipient to remain eternally young. Though aging has been defeated that does not mean the individual cannot die as accidents, homicides, suicide and illness can still kill a person.

John Farrell who is about to take the Cure soon learns that perpetual life causes a new set of problems as the population explodes since few people are exiting. Resources have failed to keep up since the Cure was found six decades ago and ennui remains a problem for those with nothing to pass the years with like John the blogger. Thus Now in 2090 John explains life has issues that are not that different from those who lived in the pre Cure era.

This is superb clever futuristic science fiction that makes the case of eternity does not necessarily denote happiness. The story line focuses on the definitive account by John the blogger that is accepted as an accurate and valid look at the first decades after the Cure because it is written down. The story line is passive, which enhances the belief that eternity is another word for enervating ennui, but also lacks passion and action. With insight on individual and global consequences, fans who enjoy a leisurely something different science fiction tale will want to read The Postmortal.

Harriet Klausner

Unwelcome-Michael Griffo

Michael Griffo
Kensington, Sep 1 2011, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758253392

In the English town of Eden, Archangel Academy resides on consecrated land. The vampires known as Them are able to walk around the campus in sunlight. However there is another subspecies of vampire connected to the sacred Well, who in their other form has webbed feet and hands as descendants of Atlantis.

The water vampires can walk outside in daylight and only eat once a month. The new Headmaster David Zachery is one of Them and vampire American Michael Howard and his lover Ronan are water vampires. Ronan knows who and what David is because of his relationship to their family. David and his kind want to destroy the Well and kill the water vamps. The headmaster has a plan to ethnically cleanse the world of the enemy. He uses his children as foot soldiers to carry out his scheme. Michael and Ronan lead the opposition along with their allies so who will prove victorious remains to be seen.

The second Archangel Academy (see Unnatural) teen urban fantasy is a terrific tale with a beautiful star-crossed romantic subplot that accentuates the two combative subspecies. The expatriate Cornhusker has come a long way from Nebraska in a short time but his journey even with Ronan to guide him remains difficult as he must be Unafraid of his full essence for his deep psychological need to feel accepted and belong to happen. The key to the exciting story line is that readers will accept the existence of vampires as a natural species with issues and disputes as Michael Griffo provides an enthralling and totally entertaining entry that teenage readers and adults will appreciate and put on their keeper shelf.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Goblin Corps-Ari Marmell

The Goblin Corps
Ari Marmell
PYR, Jul 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 97816163770

The Charnel King Morthul of Kirol Syrreth remains stunned that his centuries of perfect plotting to rule the world from his Iron Keep failed due to a band of idiots too stupid to understand they could not win. His only dark victory in his ignominious loss to the Light is that Princess Amalia, the child of King Dororam of Shauntille, died while ending his schemes.

However, Morthul has a new concern. His spies warn him that raging King Dororam has united the Allied Kingdoms with a goal to end future treachery by the rotting immortal Charnel King and the armies of Kirol Syrreth. Taking a page from the enemy who created the rag tag band of the Light, Morthul creates his version of the Dark, The Demon Squad.

The Goblin Corps is an enjoyable military fantasy that is at its refreshing best when the plot focuses on the dysfunctional Demon Squad members; the story line loses some freshness when grieving Dororam and his top wizard DuMark take center stage. Although the climax is weak as it is more tell than show, The Goblin Corps is action-packed yet filled with jocularity (including inane but fun Stooges like slapstick). Readers will enjoy this lighthearted romp as the bickering evil paranormal unit struggle to come together before the snow melts in the mountain passes.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Darkness Descending-Devyn Quinn

Darkness Descending
Devyn Quinn
Signet, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781101517215

Jesse Burke dreams of avenging what a vampiric Fallen Angel did to her last year by becoming a slayer. She has kept her infection somewhat under control but knows time is running out for her as those abominations she wants dead want Armageddon now by infecting humans with demonic parasites. Her first attempt in the Metairie cemetery almost costs her life as she learns none of these monsters is easy to kill; Maddox deValois the demon interceded and saved her life.

He invites the tyro lone wolf to join his slayer team keeping New Orleans somewhat cleansed of these predators; reluctantly she does. However, soon after joining his squad and still struggling to understand that "There is no 'I' in 'team', but there is in 'win'."(Michael Jordan), neither is prepared to find out that Jesse has a greater destiny than that of a slayer.

The first Vampire Armageddon urban fantasy is an exhilarating action-packed thriller from the opening graveyard battle until the climatic finish. Overall the story line is fast-paced but somewhat slowed down by the background ancient religions thesis that enhances the dark world of Devyn Quinn. This is a terrific opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Ghosts of War-George Mann

Ghosts of War
George Mann
PYR, July 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143671

In 1927 Gabriel “The Ghost” Cross patrols New York City to keep the residents safe from evil. Though he wants to take time out to grieve the death of his beloved Celeste who saved the world (see Ghosts of Manhattan), the vigilante avenger knows he cannot.

The city has seen a series of kidnappings reportedly by flying machines dubbed raptors. The police are stymied as there is no apparent link between the victims except for the city. The Ghost assisted by his friend Police Inspector Felix Donovan try to capture one of these terrorizing mechanical kidnappers. At the same time Felix hunts a British agent whose information will cause the third war between the former colonies and the mother country. Soon the two seemingly divergent cases merge as the Ghost decides on a dangerous ploy to end the mounting terror.

George Mann provides a fun throwback pulp science fiction thriller. With plenty of rooftop activity and lucid flashbacks by the Ghost to WWI, the story line is action-packed and incredibly fast-paced as the author takes no prisoners with this entertaining save Manhattan tale (Ruth and Gehrig save the Bronx).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 22, 2011

His Darkest Salvation-Juliana Stone

His Darkest Salvation
Juliana Stone
Avon, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062022639

Three years ago adversarial jaguar shifters Jaden DaCosta and Julian Castille met and shared an incredible tryst. She recognized him as her mating bond, but he failed to do likewise. He just vanished into thin air like Copperfield performing a stunt.

Jaden is unaware that in combat in Belize sorcerer Cormac O’Hara dispatched her mate into hell where he was tortured for three years. A third party frees Julian and sorcerer Declan O’Hara but also warns the pair that they must shut a portal or lose their souls for eternity. She barely recognizes him while he has no idea who she is except he thinks she may have betrayed him in Belize.

This gritty romantic urban fantasy is an intriguing tale for those who read the previous “Darkest” novels (see His Darkest Embrace and His Darkest Hunger) because of the realistic metamorphoses of the hero after three years in hell and his soul on the line. Although loaded with action and unexpected but welcome twists, the super story line is character driven as the pair team up with plenty of distrust and fears of betrayal to take down an evil sorcerer and his malevolent allies including apparently her family in able to close the portal.

Harriet Klausner

The Diviner -Melanie Rawn

The Diviner
Melanie Rawn
Daw, Aug 2 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9780756406813

In 611 in the city of Dayira Azreyq during a gala the Glorious Majesty Sheyqa Nizzira has her assassins kill the powerful al Ma’alique family. However, one clan member lives, the profligate Azzad al-Ma'alique who was late due to female issues. He considers his options and concludes fleeing was the best course for now, but vowing revenge when he returns.

He eludes the killers sent by Sheyqa as he reaches the desert. There he is fortunate that the enigmatic nomadic Shagara tribe of mages saves his life and provides him shelter. They protect him from the assassins as he begins his plan for avenging his family though he knows needs time to plan and deploy.

This is an exhilarating prequel fantasy (see The Golden Key) that takes off from the onset. However, the Diviner feels like two books as just passed the half way point of the book, the story line reaches a climatic conclusion. From there a second story line picks up albeit much slower paced though well written. Still readers will enjoy the cost of vengeance to the avenging angel and the innocent collateral damaged victims.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heart Search-Robin D. Owens

Heart Search
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241387

Avaricious Nivea Sunflower fooled teenager Huathe (Laev) T’Hawthorn into believing she was his HeartMate during his second passage. He failed to realize that thirteen years old Camellia Darjeeling was truly his mate. Her heart was broken that her mate never appeared but she is determined to stay strong.

Years pass until 421 After the Colonization, Widower Laev struggles with rectifying what his late wife did to others. At the same time Camellia runs two delightful popular establishments (Darjeeling’s Teahouse and Darjeeling’s HouseHeart) in spite of her felonious father Guri and her unctuous uncle Takvar trying to abuse and take advantage of her; even attempting to extort funds from Camellia by exposing who they are to her customers. Their respective FamCats bring the HeartMates together, but Camellia distrusts males and Laev searches for stolen family heirlooms that he suspects her family took.

The latest Celta Heart Mate romantic fantasy (see Heart Journey) is a terrific second chance at love between two wary next generation souls. The story line is character driven as Laev knows his “House” has not recovered from his monstrous mistake that has cost his family so much; while Camellia has learned from her father and uncle not to trust men. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest mating as doubting Thomas and Thomasine distrust the Heart Bond.

Harriet Klausner

The Measure of the Magic-Terry Brooks

The Measure of the Magic
Terry Brooks
Del Rey, Aug 23 2011, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345484208

For five centuries the survivors of the Great Wars (see the Genesis of Shannara saga) lived in peace and harmony. Magic hid their haven from the devastated and lethal rest of the world. However, recently the magical barriers have failed and outside malevolent forces have invaded the valley.

Sider Ament possesses the last black staff of power. He has lived his life protecting those in the valley. Now as he is near death, Sider gives the powerful black staff to young tracker Panterra Qu, the recently chosen Knight of the Word. Panterra must defend the sanctuary against evil trolls though he has no idea how to use the staff. At the same time someone assassinated the Arborlon Elf king with his daughter Princess Phryne Amarantyne accused of patricide. Finally Panterra faces a nameless ruthless killer who lives to take the black staff from the corpse of the current owner.

The Measure of the Magic is an exciting Shannara’s prehistory fantasy, but saga fans must read the previous entry (see Bearers of the Black Staff) to fully comprehend how the magical walls came crumbling down. The story line is fast-paced with Panterra a fascinating protagonist who reminds this reviewer of when a dying Abin Sur “gives” the ring to chosen Hal Jordan (see Showcase comic book 22) as neither feel worthy. Loaded with action, Terry brooks provides a strong entry in his enthralling epic series.

Harriet Klausner

Wayfinder-C.E. Murphy

C.E. Murphy
Del Rey, Sep 6 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345516077

Dafydd ap Caerwyn the elf from the Faerie Barrow-lands sought in the mortal realm a Truthseeker, a person who could tell veracity from lies. He finds her in Boston; Lara Jansen agrees to help him determine who killed his brother Merrick. A witness says he committed fratricide, but he knows he is innocent. It turns out that Merrick was responsible and the witness saw an illusion. A severely injured Dafydd is sent back to his world in the hopes that the healers there who use magic an cure his injuries.

Lara follows him from earth and discovers he was near death and the healers couldn’t help him so he was placed in the Drowned Lands in the vague hope he might heal. Lara and Aerin the elf woman go there to ascertain whether Dafydd was healed. Before they reach him the sea god Lyr informs her she might find her beloved if she passes the trials and when they do they find Daffyd alive he learns Merrick will go to any lengths to get what he wants. The trio must get back to Dafydd’s father before Merrick reaches him, but instead they find themselves back on earth.

The direct sequel to the Truthseeker is an outstanding urban fantasy that effortlessly moves back and forth between the two planes. In the Barrow-lands, the Seelie and Unseelie are on the brink of civil war due to the latter believing the former drowned their lands. The stay in Boston is disastrous but they can’t fix what was destroyed as time is running out with Barrow-land royal rules dictating the politics. C.E. Murphy provides a strong voice as the truth may set Daffyd free but at what cost?

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monster Hunter Alpha-Larry Correia

Monster Hunter Alpha
Larry Correia
Baen, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439134580

Monster Hunter International Chief Earl Harbinger conceals a secret from his subordinates. Born in 1900 as Raymond Earl Shackleford Jr.; a little under a hundred years ago, he became a werewolf. In spite of becoming a monster of sorts, Earl has dedicated his life to protect mankind just like his dad the greatest Hunter ever.

Earl becomes deeply concerned to learn former KGB werewolf Nikolai killed a deputy sheriff in Copper Lake, Michigan. He knows his long time adversary is ruthless and has nasty business for him to be in the States. The MHI leader also realizes that he and Stalin’s favorite agent must hunt each other until only one is left howling as the Monster Control Bureau will not be able to deal with this evil. However, Earl is unaware that the reason his deadly foe is in Michigan is for the creation of a lethal werewolf species.

The third Monster Hunter urban fantasy (see Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta) is a fun thriller that is purposely hyperbolically over the top of Mount Arvon. The story line is fast-paced with the audience anticipating the confrontation between these former Cold war adversaries. Earl as a werewolf superhero holds the plot focused while Stalin’s Pet Nikolai is a fabulous supervillain enemy. Mano a Mano, fans will enjoy the fab High Noon combat in the aptly named Wolverine State.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Masters of Shadows-Angela Knight

Masters of Shadows
Angela Knight
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425243671

For centuries La Belle Coeur understands her role is to help new vampire magekind to convert to their new lives by seducing them. Knight of the Round Table Tristan distrusts all females ever since his wife Isolde betrayed him (and his peers) ages ago.

A newly transformed vampire Davon Fredericks kills seventeen year old Jimmy Sheridan a Direkind werewolf, which ignites tension between the paranormal species to a point where a war seems likely. Davon claims King Arthur assigned him the sacred duty of executing the teen. Belle and Tristan team up on an investigation; as each suspects the sworn enemy of Arthur the evil werewolf wizard Warlock caused the lethal incident to provoke bloody combat that also would expose the magekind to humanity. While fighting their attraction to one another, Belle and Tristan try to prevent a war like none ever before.

The latest Mageverse romantic fantasy (see Master of Smoke and Master of Fire) is a terrific entry as Angela Knight provides a strong tale of a world on the brink. Warlock is at his diabolical best heating the growing rage of the Dire wolves who have had twelve dead at last count while Ms. Knight’s knights struggle to prevent the combat by seeking evidence to prove they are not the serial killers of werewolves. With a touching romance between a misanthrope and a whore, fans will relish Master of Shadows while also looking forward to what the warlock conjures next.

Harriet Klausner

Storm’s Heart-Thea Harrison

Storm’s Heart
Thea Harrison
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425242667

Two centuries ago Urien murdered the royal family. Only he failed to kill his niece Dark Fae Princess Niniane “Tricks” Lorelle. After witnessing the atrocities, she fled to the protection of Lord of the Wyrn Dragos. When Urien kidnaps Dragos’ mate, he kills the usurper.

In Chicago where Tricks hides, an assassination attempt on her leads to ancient thunderbird Wyr warrior Tiago Black Eagle sent to protect the new Dark Fae Queen. Each is shocked with the attraction between them. However, she knows she must prove her independence if she is to take the throne that is rightfully hers; and he knows her safety comes before his desire so he must keep her safe while ferreting out the assassin.

The second Elder Races romantic fantasy (see Dragon Bound) is an entertaining tale filled with betrayal and blood feuds that give the story line (even with a stay in GPS Chicago) a sort of Scottish historical Highlander feel. The moderate pace allows the audience to fully dive into the Harrison realm where the supernatural seem natural. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Tricks’ saga summed up by her with her adding the fourth definition of a Queen to the dictionary: “a royal pain in the ass”.

Harriet Klausner

The Twelfth Enchantment-David Liss

The Twelfth Enchantment
David Liss
Random House, Aug 9 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9781400068988

Ay sixteen Lucy Derrick eloped with Jonas Morrison, but their running away was never finished though it partially wrecked her reputation as being foolish but not a whore. She believes her aborted elopement destroyed her family. A few years later, her oldest sister Emily died just before her father passed. Her middle sister Martha married Mr. Buckles who rejects having Lucy in his house as he obeys his patroness Widow Lady Harriett Dyer. Lucy lives as the poor relation of her resentful martinet Uncle Richard Lowell and his towering abusive housekeeper Mrs. Quince. She is forced to accept a marriage offer from Mr. Olson, owner of a mill with brutal working conditions.

The poet Lord Byron arrives babbling she must not marry before collapsing. Medical man Mr. Snyder arrives and says he cannot help the cursed Byron; he suggests they consult with Miss Mary Crawford. Lucy and Mrs. Quince visit Mary. The “witch” guides Lucy as she lifts the curse haunting Byron. The strangeness turns weirder as Lucy becomes the foci of a colossal conspiratorial collision between the ancient and modern times. Lucy must find a mystical tome to save her country while two enigmatic males court her.

The Twelfth Enchantment is a strange yet engaging Regency fantasy starring a charming heroine struggling with being the unwanted relative fostered off to an engagement she does not remotely accept when her vision of the world is shattered. The storyline is leisurely paced especially towards the beginning to establish time and place (through Byron) and the laws of Liss magic. Readers will appreciate this twisting coming of age historical fantasy as Lucy Derrick tries to save a world she never knew existed until Byron arrived.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 18, 2011

Primal Law-J.D. Tyler

Primal Law
J.D. Tyler
Signet, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234346

In Afghanistan, an attack left many in Jaxon Tyler’s unit dead; those who survived were changed into werewolves. They became the Alpha Pack. However, he and his unit of shifters are betrayed by his girlfriend Beryl; he knows he is fortunate to survive while tossing his perfidious lover into the fire.

At NewLife Technology in Las Vegas, Jaxon rescues lab assistant Kira Locke from an assault. She knows something is not right at the lab so she steals samples so that she and her protector Jax can figure out what is happening. As the werewolf and the human work together, they fall in love; but each understands the mission to take down the unknown predatory Chappell comes first.

With a nod to Mandy M. Roth’s Immortal Ops series, J.D. Tyler provides a fabulous first act with the introduction of the Alpha Pack, a military werewolf unit with other specialized paranormal talents. The story line is fast-paced from the opening betrayal and never slows down as the team works on learning who Beryl is allied with. Not all goes well as some members die and others are captured by the enemy. Although Kira accepts things too easily (after an initial short circuit) and acts and reacts over the top of the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, fans will enjoy meeting the Alpha Pack.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Hunt-Shannon K. Butcher

Blood Hunt
Shannon K. Butcher
Signet, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234292

She arrived out of nowhere naked in body and mind. Sister Olive took in Hope Serrien who, though she still lacks her memory of her past, now helps the homeless starting with reading auras.

Hope searches for a missing woman. However, in Kansas City, Missouri, her quest is interrupted when she steps into the middle of a Synestrian demon attack; her blood saves Logan Athar the Sanguinar demon fighter. However, as she rescued his body, she ruins his well being because he wants her as his but she can never belong to him. She has no time to adapt to the paranormal as Krag the Synestrian lord wants to drain Hope while Logan vows to protect her. Krag captures the pair whose love for each other is their only hope for escape.

The fifth Sentinel Wars (see Living Nightmare and Running Scared) is a great urban fantasy starring the enigmatic Logan and the woman who saves his life. Loaded with action and with a deeper understanding of the war between the Synestrian and the Sanguinar, Shannon K. Butcher moves forward the overarching theme but also provides an engaging romance that enhances the paranormal story line. Although newcomers will have some problems diving into the world of Ms. Butcher without reading the previous entries, fans of the saga will appreciate this powerful tale.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Passages-Kathryn Leigh Scott

Dark Passages
Kathryn Leigh Scott
Pomegranate Press, Aug 9 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780938817833

Farmer Meg Harrison is a vampire who exclusively dines on animal blood; her choice cuts being easy to catch birds of squirrels. Meg goes out of her way to live a human lifestyle which is not hard since Stoker got very little right about her species.

When Meg graduates from high school, she leaves the farm for the city where she plans to be a Playboy Bunny and audition for acting gigs. She is excited when she lands a part on the daytime soap opera Dark Passages. Life is great until Camilla the raging envious witch surfaces with a penchant for casting nasty spells as she seeks the boiled blood of a particular TV star.

This is a fun paranormal historical urban fantasy starring a fascinating young vampire supported by a vast secondary cast and an atmospheric gothic story line; With 1960s icons as an anchor, readers will root for Meg as she battles three centuries old Camilla for queen of the “Dark Shadows” Hollywood Hills as Kathryn Leigh Scott shows her TV roots with this entertaining vampire thriller. This is for vampire fans a must read.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dancing with Eternity-John Patrick Lowrie

Dancing with Eternity
John Patrick Lowrie
Camel Press, Sep 1 2011, $17.95
ISBN: 9781603818100

On Vesper the third moon of Golgotha, the SRS informs Mohandas the actor that his scales are not considered a deduction and therefor he owes the government 4000 DCU. Not having the money, Lizard as the patrons call Mo is stuck in the jungle city of New Spanaway on a backwater world instead of heading to Heaven with the troupe.

At a dive, a woman takes an interest in Mo. He assumes she is a System Revenue Service field agent arriving to collect or a Planetary Tectonics agent ready to kick him off the dole and into the dangerous “Works”. Steel is neither as she offers him a position on her starship F.S. Lightdancer. Though he does not quite understand his duties, he accepts the opportunity to escape paradise. Thus begins the odyssey of Steel and Mo as they head roundabout to the most dangerous sector of the universe Brainard's Planet with stops at Earth, Circe and Eden; their quest is simply to save humanity.

Dancing with Eternity is a complex, cerebral, yet exciting science fiction thriller that extrapolates present day trends to what could be in a couple of millennia. The story line can feel convoluted as the audience learns of the past lives of the protagonists while touring the universe with the pair and the crew. Starting with the first encounter in a dive that will feels like Rick’s Bar in Casablanca, fans who relish something different in their futuristic outer space adventures will want to read John Patrick Lowrie’s entertaining braining up Dancing with Eternity.

Harriet Klausner

Gears of War: Coalition’s End-Karen Traviss

Gears of War: Coalition’s End
Karen Traviss
Gallery, Aug 2 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9781439183953

It seems like ancient history when the war of the world began, but in fact it is just fifteen years since the Locust Horde came from within to assault the humans (see Aspho Fields). Their objective was total annihilation of all humans. Mankind fought back though billions died as the ruthless enemy made no distinction between soldier and civilian.

The Gears of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) destroy what is left of civilization though they defeated their insidious foe and another powerful adversary at one hellish cost (see Jacinto's Remnant and Anvil Gate). The survivors take refuge on Vectes, a difficult to reach isolated island. As the COG begins to argue, haven turns to hell when the mutilating Lambent begin a deadly assault which explains why the Locust left the underground to fight on the surface. Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago know a last stand on Vectes is suicide as the polyps make the tickers and berserkers look benign; the only place left for the dwindling few humans are the equally suicidal Wastelands.

The fourth Gears of War tied to the games is a terrific entry as Karen Travis provides a fascinating spin to the military science fiction saga with the motive to the recent global war of destruction. The story line showcases the desperation humanity faces as the remaining two survival choices will remind readers of Joshua playing Tic-Tac-Toe in WarGames as each solution facing humans leads to total annihilation. Although there is somewhat a similar tone to Anvil Gate, fans of the Gears of War universe will enjoy action-packed Coalition’s End as things have gotten dramatically worse enhanced by a major betrayal for the human race.

Harriet Klausner

Time and Chance-Alan Brennert

Time and Chance
Alan Brennert
Tor, Jul 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765329523

Thirteen years ago Richard Cochrane left New Hampshire seeking fame and fortune as an actor. Now as the last performance of a three month Broadway run of Brigadoon ends, he knows he has come a long way until a voice no one else hears interrupts his performance. He blows his lines. Later the despondent performer learns his mother died. Depressed over her death and his terrible acting, Richard returns home to a lonely existence in New Hampshire.

Thirteen years ago in New Hampshire Rick Cochrane dreams of Broadway, but instead marries the woman he loves. The couple raises a family, but over the years he resents his sacrifice.

As each Cochrane looks at their respective unhappy and unfulfilling life, a switch occurs. Richard the actor occupies the body of Rick the insurance man; while Rick resides in the body of Richard. Both approaches the change with euphoria as they each has a second chance to travel the other path they once rejected.

With nod to Freaky Friday inside the Twilight Zone, Alan Brennert provides a fabulous character driven fantasy that looks deep at choices and their aftermath to the chooser and his or her degrees of connection and separation. Both of the male Cochranes are unhappy with their respective lives so they welcome the switch. The support cast in New Hampshire and Manhattan enhance a thought provoking whimsical tale with deep metaphors starting with Brigadoon.

Harriet Klausner

The House of Caine-Ken Eulo

The House of Caine
Ken Eulo
Tor, Jul 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765325426

In 1966 after a decade away, thirtyish Miami herald reporter Rob Martin, accompanied by his friend Larry Campbell, returns to his hometown Millhouse, Connecticut on a short visit while on the way to interview Robert Kennedy. However, he finds his hometown affirms Thomas Wolfe’s belief You Can’t Go Home as Millhouse seems different, edgier and more dangerous.

When Larry vanishes, Rob searches for him unaware of what is going on. The town’s first family Norris and Julia Caine ruled Millhouse like benevolent despots when they were breathers; now vampires they rule the town like it is a large blood bank though they and their loyal human servants selected loser loners. However, some of their bites have turned into undead with no thought of stealth dining as people who will be missed are assaulted. Rob, trying to save his high school sweetheart Elizabeth Arbor, and his best childhood friend Tony Rizzo abetted by a few other humans begin a counterinsurgency.

The House of Caine is an entertaining metaphoric historical vampire thriller that will remind readers of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot; whereas Ken Eulo’s tale comes across as a historical while Mr. King’s classic is a 1975 contemporary. The story line is filled with action, but at times bogs down with references to the chaotic times especially Vietnam though in fairness the chaos of social reform is the underlying message. While Rob seems inept as a journalist unable to grasp what is going on amidst the corpses, readers will enjoy visiting The House of Caine in Connecticut as Ken Eulo takes his audience on a tour biting tour of a schizoid year.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New York to Dallas-J.D. Robb

New York to Dallas
J.D. Robb
Putnam, Sep 13 2011, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399157783

Twelve years ago when current police Lieutenant Eve Dallas was a rookie, she had the instincts of a veteran; one of her feelings impressed upon her was that the man trying to leave a crime scene was the perp. She makes her first collar as predatory Isaac McQueen received life imprisonment for his monstrous abductions of the young.

In the present she sees McQueen in her peripheral vision as he just escaped from Rikers and holds a woman hostage. Eve goes to the apartment where she took the psychopath down; the pedophile torturer, rapist killer plans to take her down this time. The clues lead to Dallas where Eve has bad memories from when she lived there as a child. McQueen kidnaps a young girl and a woman; both he hostage during that first encounter when Eve caught him. Eve with the help of Roarke seek the monster in Dallas and she also meets a woman who looks familiar to her only her mind draws a blank about her identity For the first time since they met, Roarke fears for his wife’s sanity as her past and present crash in Texas.

J.D. Robb refreshes her Eve Dallas futuristic police procedural by having the “… In Death” heroine temporarily relocate to the city she took her surname from, which forces her to use a different crew in support of her; hence the first book without the title prepositional phrase. The heroine struggles with this case because of the déjà vu of her salad days as well as round two with pure evil. As Roarke worries that his beloved’s mind is snapping under pressure, series fans will appreciate Thomas Wolfe’s assertion “You can’t go home.”

Harriet Klausner

Another Kind of Dead-Kelly Meding

Another Kind of Dead
Kelly Meding
Bantam, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345525772

In her former life Evy Stone was a Dreg Hunter. When she died in a factory fire targeting her, no one expected her to come back to life especially the arsonist who murdered her; but she has with new paranormal skills.

As she adapts to her new body and learns to use her powers, five people are aware that Evy came back. Her lover-partner Wyatt Truman warns her to trust no one especially the triad as they invaded a lab to take away powerful objects and hybrids but failed to snatch the genius behind the development. He does not trust their agenda. When the compulsive obsessive mad scientist Walter Thackery steals a dangerous object, he begins a chess match in which check will be Evy’s blood.

The third Evy Stone urban fantasy (see As Lie the Dead and Three Days to Dead) is a fun romp due to actions of the mad scientist; a stereotype (but not campy) villain who makes for an entertaining thriller as he is a classic COD freak seeking the heroine’s blood. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy the game of life (and death) as Evy with her loving sidekick Wyatt battle traitors in their group and a truly mad scientist.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wedding Magic-Patricia Coughlin

Wedding Magic
Patricia Coughlin
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241233

Sophie Bennet and her two older bossy but caring married with children stepsisters (Jenna and Jill) own and operate a wedding business. She takes pleasure insuring the perfect ceremony for her clients. Bride Shelby Archer wants to hold her affair at the Princess House. Sophie resolutely sets out to grant the young bride her wish.

Owen Winters owns the Princess House. He is a grumpy writer who ignores her calls. When she arrives in person without an appointment to plead her case, he says no to her request without listening to her. However, he quickly changes his tune when Owen realizes his intruder sees the ghost (Ivy) he cannot see though she haunts his house. Sophie tries to help the melancholy spirit while Owen asks her to reside in Princess House to help rid his home of the weeping ghost. The recluse and the wedding planner never expected love to blossom between them but she realizes what it means while he remains inside his fortressed heart and home.

Wedding Magic is a charming throwback paranormal romance between a Mary Poppins lead female and an Oscar the Grouch male. The story line is a lighthearted frolic with a sort of Twelve days of Christmas ending. The engaging secondary characters including the ghost and a dollhouse enhance a tale of love when they arrive at the Princess House. Wedding Magic will cast its’ spell over the reader.

Harriet Klausner

The Fire King-Marjorie M. Liu

The Fire King
Marjorie M. Liu
Avon, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062019868

Soria left Dirk and Steele after she killed a man in cold blood though he deserved it. She has not healed mentally since the incident and wants no more field work. However, Roland sends an agent to plead with her in medieval “dead” Welsh to come home to help them on a strange unique case of a man, who speaks a language that no one has ever heard before. He was found alive interred in an ancient tomb. She is the world’s foremost linguistic expert as her talent is communication in any language. On the one hand she wants to say no; on the other she is curious.

Soria meets Karr, who states three words in three languages: “Zoufalstvi. Epatoivo. Asa”. She knows exactly what he says and quickly realizes he is part of an ancient race of shapeshifters. However, things turn ugly when apparently other shapeshifters exist and need the former son of their late king dead as promised to him and so the “normals” including the psychics will have no proof they exist. As Soria and Karr begin to consider acting on their mutual attraction, trust remains as big of an obstacle as danger from his were-cheetah race who threatens him and his beloved human.

This is a reprint of a terrific D&S tale with an intriguing spin of a “hidden” tribe whose prince is “awakened”. The urban fantasy story line is action-packed and filled with that special Marjorie Liu intrigue from the moment Roland’s agent Robert speaks several languages with Soria at the Minneapolis airport and uses her unique linguistic talent to get the strong tale soaring. The plot accelerates from there as Soria and Karr fall in love but their journey is long, dangerous and taboo.

Harriet Klausner

Code of the Wolf-Susan Krinard

Code of the Wolf
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, Jul 19 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775521

Although a decade has passed since the murderous werewolves killed his wife and left him for dead, Jacob Constantine survived but became a werewolf as a result of the assault. Over the ten years the former Texas Ranger and bounty hunter lived for one reason revenge.

In 1883 in the New Mexico Territory, an outlaw gang attacks Jacob and left him to die. Serenity Campbell and her female companions come across him and though her judgment says to leave him to die as she distrusts males since the assault six years ago; heeding the warning of the others she takes him to her ranch Avalon. The spread is run and operated by women only; all have horrific experiences with three legged humans. As Changyling heals him, Caridad believes Jacob is evil, but Serenity knows they need his help as his enemy and their enemy is the same.

This excellent werewolf western romance is a terrific thriller as the lead protagonists must choose between loathing fueled revenge and love. Action-packed with a strong support cast especially the females-only ranchers, readers will enjoy this fabulous late nineteenth century Americana as Jacob and Serenity must choose between love and hate.

Harriet Klausner

Rush of Pleasure-Rhyannon Byrd

Rush of Pleasure
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775774

In Sacred, Louisiana, believing his kin and him are cursed due to some Casus blood, paranormal investigator Noah Winston leaves behind the witch he loves Willow Broussard; breaking her heart. Noah joins a unit of former Watchmen who battle against Casus leader Anthony Calder and his minions who have plans for the world.

He believes his side has a weapon to defeat the enemy, but need help from the Broussard witches to do so. Though he fears what seeing his beloved Willow will do to his heart, Noah arrives asking for their translation of an ancient spell. Willow remains furious at her beloved for deserting her. Still with her sister and the world in peril, she joins forces with Noah. Meanwhile Calder needs a new Casus body to take over; with his choice being Noah.

The eighth and final Primal Instincts Bayou fantasy (see Rush of Darkness) is a great finish as readers like me have wanted Noah’s saga told. He remains a dark hero who fears his tainted DNA will destroy his beloved Willow. However, the final confrontation leaves him no choice but to plead with his cherished Willow to help him. Though she has issues too, this time her plan has two objectives: to defeat the evil Casus and persuade her champion to stay with her in victory or defeat. Rhyannon Byrd provides a strong climax to a powerful series.

Harriet Klausner

Rebirth-Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield
Luna, Jul 19 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803392

California is an apocalyptic catastrophe with the cannibalistic fresh flesh eating Beaters everywhere, but Cass Dollar feels good as she has rescued her daughter Ruthie though the child has become mute from the horrors she lived through and witnessed (see Aftertime). While Ruth struggles with her psychosomatic trauma, The Dollar females reside at the Box camp with the mom’s lover Smoke.

However though Cassie begs him not to, Smoke leaves on a vendetta. Just after he leaves, the encampment’s leader Dor pleads with Cass to help him rescue his daughter; held prisoner by the ruthless Rebuilders. She wants to refuse as Ruth comes first and she fears the Box haven is falling apart, but Cassie also understands how Dor feels having gone on her impossible quest to save her daughter.

The second Aftertime post apocalyptic thriller is an exciting tale that places a human cost on the pandemic catastrophe. Readers will feel for Ruthie who is a superb traumatized child and understand the dilemmas facing her mother including her caring for the two strong men in her life. Character driven yet packed with action, Rebirth is a vivid dark future fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever-Greg Cox

Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever
Greg Cox
Pocket, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780743491730

Secret Service agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering finish their assignment of the Charleston, South Carolina cheesy Museum of Piracy worker possessed by the pirate Anne Bonny’s cutlass. They return to their Badlands home station Warehouse 13 where their boss Artie Nielsen tells them there is no rest for the weary as he has learned of a woman using a glove to heal the sick at a carnival.

While teenager Claudia Donovan and aura-reading B&B owner Leena inventories the Warehouse’s collection of paranormal artifacts as has been done since Alexander the Great did with the library, Pete and Myka travel to the carnival to learn how the healer is doing what she does. At the same time, unbeknownst to the Warehouse field agents, someone else is making people sick using the matching glove as a sort of yang to the healer’s yin.

Greg Cox who has written Star Trek and DC’s Final Crisis thrillers provides an exhilarating novelization of the TV series as he captures the essences of the cast especially history’s thirteenth warehouse. The story line contains two fun subplots as the field operatives search for Clara Barton's gloves while those archivists at the home station struggle with a misplaced apple that causes a comedy of errors. Lighthearted with a touch of history including Bonny, Barton, Chapman and Freud’s cigar; readers will enjoy the adventures of the agents of Warehouse 13.

Harriet Klausner

Hammered-Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, Jul 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345522481

In Tempe, Arizona Atticus O’Sullivan enjoys life to the fullest except when the Irish Gods locate him as they want to execute him for some affront or two or more he made over his twenty-one centuries of life. The last known Druid would like just drink beer or whiskey and eat fish and chips with friends like Jesus, but he muses some enemies never forgive.

He currently wants to kick his naked butt for promising Lakasha that he would stealthy visit Asgard to steal an apple. That would be enough problems, but his pal Viking vampire Leif Helgarson asks for his help in assassinating the abusive Thor. Jesus and Morrigan warn Atticus to stick to suds rather than mess with a raging god who shoots bolts, but his promise means he must act at the same the Russian demon hunters Hammers of God are making Arizona a dangerous place to be.

The Third iron Druid Chronicles (see Hexed and Hounded) continues the fun escapades of the antihero who just wants to drink beer and dine on Jesus’ fish and chips, but lands in one predicament after another because his word is golden. The satirical urban fantasy lampoons testosterone heroes as they get into a penis contest to determine who the female amongst them is; the “loser” washes the dishes and serves the drinks. Atticus keeps the plot focused as he ignores the warnings of his deity friends and his canine buddy to fulfill a promise that could end his two millennia plus existence. This is a great series as no god walks away unscathed in Kevin Hearne’s vision of Arizona, home for a lot of illegal deities and other unlawful paranormal immigrants.

Harriet Klausner

The Shadow Men-Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

The Shadow Men
Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Spectra, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553386578

In Boston, Jim awakens to find his wife Jenny and their daughter Holly vanished. More than just disappearing, there is no evidence that either female ever existed as no pictures or personnel items remains in their abode and even his cell phone fails to contain their contact information.

In near paralyzing shock, Jim asks around amongst their friends and family, but no one knows Jenny or Holly. That is except Trix. With Trix at his side, Jim contacts the Oracle of Boston. They are stunned with what they learn. In a previous century, the sorcery of the then Oracle placed Boston in three distinct dimensions at the same time. Jim’s family is in one of the other two. As Jim and Trix consider what to do to find Jenny and Holly, Jim realizes his paintings are of another Boston and Trix knows her dreams are likewise.

The fourth Hidden Series thriller (see Mind the Gap in London, The Map of Moments in New Orleans and The Chamber of Ten in Venice) is an exciting entry that grips the reader from the moment Jim wakes up to find his family missing and never loosens the hold until the climax. The story line is incredibly packed with action to rival a Liam Neeson movie like Taken or Unknown. However, all the constant escapades never allow any of the cast to fully develop; even the beleaguered protagonist seems pulled by the adventures piling one after another and the doppelgangers appear as interchangeable as if naturing is much more influential than nurturing. Still fans who relish an adrenaline pumping thriller will want to tour Bean Town with Jim and Trix as our guides.

Harriet Klausner

The Shadow Men-Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

The Shadow Men
Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Spectra, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553386578

In Boston, Jim awakens to find his wife Jenny and their daughter Holly vanished. More than just disappearing, there is no evidence that either female ever existed as no pictures or personnel items remains in their abode and even his cell phone fails to contain their contact information.

In near paralyzing shock, Jim asks around amongst their friends and family, but no one knows Jenny or Holly. That is except Trix. With Trix at his side, Jim contacts the Oracle of Boston. They are stunned with what they learn. In a previous century, the sorcery of the then Oracle placed Boston in three distinct dimensions at the same time. Jim’s family is in one of the other two. As Jim and Trix consider what to do to find Jenny and Holly, Jim realizes his paintings are of another Boston and Trix knows her dreams are likewise.

The fourth Hidden Series thriller (see Mind the Gap in London, The Map of Moments in New Orleans and The Chamber of Ten in Venice) is an exciting entry that grips the reader from the moment Jim wakes up to find his family missing and never loosens the hold until the climax. The story line is incredibly packed with action to rival a Liam Neeson movie like Taken or Unknown. However, all the constant escapades never allow any of the cast to fully develop; even the beleaguered protagonist seems pulled by the adventures piling one after another and the doppelgangers appear as interchangeable as if naturing is much more influential than nurturing. Still fans who relish an adrenaline pumping thriller will want to tour Bean Town with Jim and Trix as our guides.

Harriet Klausner

Dracula in Love-Karen Essex

Dracula in Love
Karen Essex
Anchor Books (Random House), Jul 5 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780767931229

After reading Stoker’s account of her relationship with Count Dracula, Mina Harker decides the author failed to obtain the truth or more likely revise what happened. The Count has been Mina's lover though she is unaware of this in their present relationship and that he would willingly die permanently for her.

In 1890 London, the human men in her life feel she is a porcelain doll needing their protection. She loathes the gilded cage her husband Jonathan keeps her inside of abetted by obsessed by Dr. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward. They are inane Victorian males who are wrong. Instead she and her dearest Count are in love as her supernatural powers begin to rival that of her beloved.

This entertaining retelling of the classic horror tale has a strong-willed Mina relate her interpretation of what occurred in England. In her mind, Dracula is the hero and her so called protectors the villains. Character driven, the plot is turned upside down as Mina sees the doctors and others assuming they know what is best for her, which is contrary to what she believes is best for her. Vampire romance fans will enjoy Dracula In Love as Mina tells her version of her passionate relationship with her Count and the murderous intruders who interfered.

Harriet Klausner

A Blight of Mages-Karen Miller

A Blight of Mages
Karen Miller
Orbit, Aug 4 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316029223

In Dorana, centuries before the Mage War, Barl Linden has incredible talent but is refused advanced training as a student mage by the Council of Mages. She knows her social status prevents her from proper instruction as the Council of Mages limits who is acceptable based on family.

Due to his powerful autocratic father, Morgan Danfey is the youngest mage ever appointed to sit on the Council. He feels a horrific danger will assault Dorana, but since he lacks specificity his warnings are ignored as youthful inanity. Mages like his father insist they can handle any threat. Fearful and desperate he begins to study the forbidden magic that he concludes is the only hope against what he vaguely foresees coming.

When Morgan and Barl meet, each recognizes much in common with the other. They share great magical skill; a belief the rules are too restrictive; and a forbidden attraction.

This is a well written super fantasy that focuses predominantly on the initial meetings between Morgan and Barl prior to their heroics in the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, but driven by the lead couple though there is much more. However, for fans of the saga, A Blight of Mages lacks some of the levels of suspense of the other Mages thrillers because we know what is to come after the events of this prequel. Still in spite of knowing the future, readers will appreciate the salad days of the dynamic duo as Karen Miller affirms her incredible fantasist writing skills with an exciting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bound by Moonlight-Nancy Gideon

Bound by Moonlight
Nancy Gideon
Pocket, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439199480

Max “Monster” Savoie used his shapeshifting abilities to save the life of New Orleans Police Detective Charlotte “Cee Cee” Caissie (see Masked by Moonlight). His actions led to the cop and the mobster forging a psychic connection. The pair agrees to pursue a relationship though their occupations place them in opposite camps; he quits the mob life, which is all he knows, to prove he wants to go straight.

NOPD struggles to end the reign of terror of a vicious serial killer who targets children. Cee Cee and her partner Alain Babineau go undercover, which Max loathes as he fears for the safety of his beloved and her previous non-professional relationship with the cop. However, when Cee Cee turns to Max to help them with his special crime scene skills, he reluctantly agrees but he fears the growing number of people who know about his paranormal skill since he met Cee Cee.

This Moonlight romantic police procedural urban fantasy (see Chased by Moonlight) is a must read. It is dark entry as a serial killer makes New Orleans unsafe. The overarching story line, kind of mindful of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series, continues the star-crossed complicated relationship between the human police detective and the shapeshifting gangster as love may not be enough.

Shadow Fall-Seressia Glass

Shadow Fall
Seressia Glass
Pocket, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439158784

Kira Solomon the Shadowchaser, who serves the Egyptian goddess Ma’at, is an expert at eliminating the Fallen. However, she has become concerned with the changes to her power as she is not sure what that means especially will the tug of the Shadow on her soul as she has become the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order.

Complicating matters for Kira are the disappearance of friends including Shadowchasers and illness of others. Her peers and even her mom Balm of Gilead fear she is the cause as they begin to believe the Shadow has engulfed her. As she sets out to prove she still remains in the light, Chaos enters her dreams and her feelings for four millennia old Khefar the Nubian warrior grows at a time she needs to focus.

The third Shadow Chasers urban fantasy is a strong entry that series fans will fully relish as more of the Egyptian mythos comes to the light. Loaded with action throughout, Shadow Fall is an intriguing story line as Balm adjusts her dreams for her daughter to the reality of who Kira is. Although newcomers will be lost within the Egyptian mythology as it behooves tyros to read first Shadow Chase and Shadow Blade, Seressia Glass writes a fresh tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guardian Wolf-Linda O. Johnston

Guardian Wolf
Linda O. Johnston
Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 19 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373618651

Top secret shapeshifting military unit Alpha Force assigns Lieutenant Grace Andreas to investigate the stealing of medical samples near Phoenix. The fear of the brass is that the stolen items can be used in a bioterrorist attack.

Dr. Simon Parran and Grace were lovers back in pre-med at Michigan State, but both hid an intricate part of themselves from one another. Now he sees a female shift from a wolf to a woman; and realizes why he never forgot his Grace. Needing one another in more ways than one, they team up as humans and wolves to prevent a potential tragedy.

The third Alpha force werewolf romantic suspense (see Alpha Wolf and Alaskan Wolf) is a delightful action-packed second chance at love investigative thriller. Grace is a super protagonist who never forgave him for deserting her after one semester of love. The story line works because the relationship between the lead couple grows (though in someway regresses back to where it was going in MSU) while they work diligently on catching the thieves who remain hidden until the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Ashes of Angels-Michele Hauf

Ashes of Angels
Michele Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 19 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373618644

As a Muse to Fallen Angels, Cassandra Stevens knows to not get intimate with them. She expects that one day a Fallen Angel will try to sire an evil nephilim with her.

Cassandra may be aware of the generic warning, but no one prepared her for Samandiriel. She wants him, but fears he is the one who will rape her and leave her carrying the flesh eating malevolence that will kill her and subsequently Berlin and beyond. However, Samandiriel is not like his brethren as he was summoned by a dark vampire, but respects women and wants to prove to Cassandra that love redeems even the fallen.

Ashes of Angels is a wonderful star-crossed lover urban fantasy that grips the reader from the moment the Muse and the Fallen Angel meet and never slows down as Samandiriel risks his existence to prove to his doubting Thomasina that his attitude differs from his peers. He knows she is his redemption while she realizes he wants her but only if she is willing. Fans will appreciate the healing of love in the latest Of Angels & Demons (see Fallen) charmer. In addition the hard copy printing of the e-short story of how Zane and Coco first met The Ninja Vampire Girl is an added bonus.

Harriet Klausner

Grave Expectations-Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens

Grave Expectations
Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens
Gallery/Pocket, Aug 30 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451617245

With their parents dead, alpha sister Mrs. Joe being more than twenty years older than her brother has raised Philip “Pip” Pirrip the werewolf. She dominates her younger brother though not a shapeshifter (due to the X chromosome) and for that matter her kindhearted husband Joe Gargery a silversmith. Pip cannot wait to escape the she-tyrant. With that in mind he apprenticed for years as a silversmith under the tutelage of brother-in-law.

Now a journeyman, Pip leaves to London where he hopes to be a gentleman. However, he never forgot his childhood friend rowdy Estella. When they meet in London, he wants her, but though she reciprocates she has no time for a submissive werewolf as she is a kill first supernatural slayer mentored by Miss Haversham.

This is a fascinating paranormal parody of Great Expectations; Charles Dickens receives the same irreverence as other ninetieth century notables like Charlotte Bronte (see Jane Slayer by Sherri Browning Erwin), and Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson). The well written but overly complex story line is entertaining but also at times slows down as the reader struggles to understand what is going on especially inside of Pip’s head. Still fans of supernatural re-novelization of the classics will enjoy the star-crossed romance between the werewolf and the slayer.

Harriet Klausner

Grave Expectations-Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens

Grave Expectations
Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens
Gallery/Pocket, Aug 30 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451617245

With their parents dead, alpha sister Mrs. Joe being more than twenty years older than her brother has raised Philip “Pip” Pirrip the werewolf. She dominates her younger brother though not a shapeshifter (due to the X chromosome) and for that matter her kindhearted husband Joe Gargery a silversmith. Pip cannot wait to escape the she-tyrant. With that in mind he apprenticed for years as a silversmith under the tutelage of brother-in-law.

Now a journeyman, Pip leaves to London where he hopes to be a gentleman. However, he never forgot his childhood friend rowdy Estella. When they meet in London, he wants her, but though she reciprocates she has no time for a submissive werewolf as she is a kill first supernatural slayer mentored by Miss Haversham.

This is a fascinating paranormal parody of Great Expectations; Charles Dickens receives the same irreverence as other ninetieth century notables like Charlotte Bronte (see Jane Slayer by Sherri Browning Erwin), and Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson). The well written but overly complex story line is entertaining but also at times slows down as the reader struggles to understand what is going on especially inside of Pip’s head. Still fans of supernatural re-novelization of the classics will enjoy the star-crossed romance between the werewolf and the slayer.

Harriet Klausner

Wolf Tales 12-Kate Douglas

Wolf Tales 12
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758242686

The Chanku shapeshifters have lived thousands of years amongst the humans, but for the most part have gone unnoticed. They have packs in several states but the prime locale has been Montana for years. Their patriarch Anton feels restless as things have been too quiet lately.

Lily notices the cave dwelling pictures near the Montana estate. When she vanishes even Eve the Goddess cannot locate her. As her parents Anton and Keisha worry, in DC Nick Bardon saves people from a terrorist attack but exposes his shapeshifting skills for the world to see. As the packs in Maine, Colorado and San Francisco converge on Montana, the Chanku learn of others out there needing rescue and more information about their origins.

This is a superb finish to one of the great urban fantasy series on the market over the past six years. Action-packed with sex playing a key role in the exciting story line, fans will relish this terrific climax as the key overarching themes are resolved with the Chanku coming together in Big Sky Country seeking their heritage.

Harriet Klausner

The Difference Engine-William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

The Difference Engine
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Spectra, Jul 26 2011, $16.00
ISBN: 9780440423621

In 1855 as the Industrial Revolution continues to pollute the big cities of England, Charles Babbage creates the steam driven analytical engine. The Luddites learn of this incredible advancement and vow to destroy this new use of technology that heralds the beginning of the Information Revolution. Mick Radley obtains key perforated cards, but when he is murdered the cards pass to his girlfriend Sybil Gerard who deals with General Houston and the Texian.

Prime Minister Lord Byron’s daughter Ada obtains the cards, but soon scientist Edward Mallory possesses the cards, but needs the Babbage analytical engine to read them. The Luddites attack him and his name. Eventually detective Lawrence Oliphant, who is dying from syphilis, investigates the mystery of the cards.

The 20th Anniversary Edition of this complicated alternate history thriller shows the novel holds up well against the test of time as the London of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling remains an intriguing locale. Although the overall fast-paced plot decelerates at times especially in the middle of the Third Iteration and the finish not up to the complex story line, The Difference Engine is an engaging mystery set in a steampunk Victorian environment. With a Modus adding insight, sub-genre fans will enjoy this reprint.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 11, 2011

Conspiracies-Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Tor, Jul 5 2011, $10.99
ISBN: 9780765317629

Teenager Spirit White attends the Oakhurst Academy for orphans with magical skills where they train to fight in a war against an alleged evil. She and her new friends (Burke, Lachlan, Muirin and Adelaide) recently defeated the Wild Hunt (see Legacies).

Though still grieving the deaths of her family in a car accident before she was enrolled at Oakhurst and feeling survivor guilt because of her doubts about what really happened to cause the deadly tragedy, Spirit and her BFFs look forward to time off to shop during the winter holidays. However, something feels off to her, but her buddies ignore her warnings except to ridicule her as alumni have taken charge of security. The only one who believes what Spirit says is the new lunatic student who insists the war between Arthur and Mordred has come to Oakhurst. When the homicides begin waking up everyone, Spirit fears it is too late.

The second young teen Shadow Grail urban fantasy (see Legacies) is an engaging thriller starring an angry despondent anti Potter teen whose inner rage brings realism to the mix. For the most part the story line is fast-paced though it drags when relationships are explored with one late twist adding depth. Although her BFFs still remain out of the DC Teen Titan handbook, fans will want to attend the Sadie Hawkins Dance at eerie Oakhurst Academy.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret of Crickley Hall-James Herbert

The Secret of Crickley Hall
James Herbert
Tor, Jul 19 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765328885

One year ago five years old Cameron Caleigh vanished. His distraught parents American Gabe and Englishwoman Eve were frantic but he never was found. Desperately in need of a change Gabe and Eve accompanied by their daughters twelve year old Loren and five year old Calley move from London to Hollow Bay, five hours on the Motorway. Their new home Crickley Hall on Devil’s Cleave looks grim and ugly.

The family is unaware that Chester the dog howls at apparitions banging the walls and shaking the cupboards to rattle the first breathers in a decade to occupy Crickley Hall. The Caleigh clan begins to learn the history of the Hall especially what happened in World War II when London orphans lived there under the care of abusive Augustus Cribben until a flood apparently killed all the residents. As a grieving Eve turns to psychic Lilli to learn what happened to her son, Loren feels weak anytime she is indoors and Calley knows why Chester is howling; Gabe remains steadfast American unable to see what is happening to his family but may be too late when he finally accepts the truth.

With a nod to the movie Poltergeist, The Secret of Crickley Hall is an entertaining haunted house thriller. The story line is fast-paced containing all the usual bumps in the night (and day). The WWII subplot brings poignancy while connecting the past with the present. The cast in the 1940s and today are developed enough to make the ghost story work although Gabe is the stereotype of an American seen through English eyes. Readers will enjoy learning The Secret of Crickley Hall.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Work-Kim Harrison

Blood Work
Kim Harrison
Del Rey, Jul 12 2011, $23.00
ISBN: 9780345521019

In Cincinnati, four decades since the Turn, Inderland Security polices the no-humans. Working for I.S. Ivy Tamwood is irate over her demotion from homicide to street cop and working for a low blood Denon the ghoul. She turns livid when Denon introduces her to her new partner Rachel Morgan the earth witch. Besides not wanting to work with a witch, Ivy also loathes babysitting the new runner.

Denon assigns the pair with running down drug dealers. Under a bridge, Rachel talks with Sharps the troll about the nearby corpse of a werewolf. The hit looks like that of a master vampire. While Ivy says not their problem, Rachel insists they investigate. They get into a bit of a tangle and Ivy finds she wants to taste the witch’s blood. However, Ivy knows she underestimates her newbie partner when the witch fights back and points out the killer is not a vamp bit a powerful witch. She further explains someone is using dark magic, but erred with the werewolf sacrifice in human form. The pair begins to investigate though knowing Denon will counsel them.

This Hollows graphic novel is a great urban fantasy that tells the tale of the first meeting and patrol/case between the witch and the vampire. The story line contains the essence of the series, but enhanced by the excellent muted colored illustrations of Pedro Maia and Gemma Magno. Fans of the Hollows will appreciate Kim Harrison’s wonderful first encounter as angry Ivy and goody two shoes Rachel bare their “fangs” at each other and some nasty inhuman slime.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Time Slice-Terry Downing

Time Slice
Terry Downing
Camel Press, Jun 10 2011, $17.95
ISBN: 9781603818520

Roy Washburn is recently retired, but as he sits vigil in his chair, just like he has over the last two or three days, he is bored. His daughter Ann and friends have streamed by to wish him well, but he finds the visits enervating. Used to working much of every day, to Roy leisure denotes ennui.

While accompanying his wife Emily on a non energizing trip to the mall, Roy notices a small metal cylinder with odd markings. He touches the triangular pointer; and to his shock Roy is in the time stream. There he meets The Traveler, who instructs him on the use of the gizmo that enable the user to tour other civilizations co-existing other Earths with that of Roy’s. Roy joins the Traveler on his quest to recover a stolen object from the person who murdered his father. However, Emily becomes ill and Ann increasingly displays her anger and resentment for her dad not being there; which limits his time as do other perils inside the Time Stream. Roy needs help to assist the Traveler starting with Emily and Ann, but never expected his granddaughter Jodie to be his sidekick.

This is a fun lighthearted young adult quest fantasy with a serious family values underpinning. The story line is action-packed once the retired lead character picks up the gadget and never slows down as he confronts villains like Mr. Clean in his stream and nastier sorts on some of the others. Readers will enjoy taking time out for this entertaining frolic as three generations learn what matters in life’s short Time Slice.

Harriet Klausner

The Lost-Caridad Pineiro

The Lost
Caridad Pineiro
Forever, Aug 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446584616

IEDs and other explosives devastated Bobbie Carrerra’s platoon in Iraq leaving all dead except her and their comatose lead. Anyone who think females are not in fighting roles need to look at the scarred veteran undergoing physical therapy. Emotionally she suffers from survivor guilt and self pity.

Affluent Adam Bruno is a bit of a recluse because of his paranormal skills like creating energy using magic and shapeshifting. When Adam and Bobbie meet, they are attracted to one another, which shake both loners up. As the pair begins to explore a relationship that could destroy either of them if it turns out of control or burns out; unknown enemies hunt him. He knows one thing he has his female warrior watching his back (and as she says other body parts too).

The opening Sin Hunters romantic urban fantasy is a great first act because the talented paranormal author Caridad Pineiro establishes her new otherworld inside an action packed (including the lead couple’s heat) story line. The key support cast is fully developed especially the stalkers while the novel belongs to the vet and the millionaire as they struggle against unknown adversaries, their respective hearts and his increasingly out of control power as she is his intoxicating source that could kill both of them

Harriet Klausner

Lunatic Detective-Sharon Sala

Lunatic Detective
Sharon Sala
Bell Bridge, Aug 25 2011
ISBN: 9781461087717

For the first time in her life, high school senior Tara Luna feels like she belongs as she knows her lunatic psychic skills saved the loves of Corey and Bethany (see My Lunatic Life). She hopes her guardian beloved Uncle Pat allows them to stay in Stillwater, Oklahoma as he prefers moving a lot. They are accompanied as always by two ghosts (Millicent and Henry) that as far as she knows she is the only person who sees and talks with them. She even has a boyfriend Flynn O’Mara who calls her “Moon Girl” and a best friend Corey’s girlfriend Nikki.

She helps grieving Mrs. Morris understand her son David did not commit suicide. Tara also has the case of DeeDee Broyles buried in the backyard of their home; the ghost pleads with her to find her body and her killer. Tara finds help with OSU Geology Assistant Professor Nate Pierce. At a football rally, Tara realizes a little child is being abducted; Flynn intercedes and obtains Detective Rutherford’s help. However, something assaults Tara leaving her extremely weak, but she has no idea what.

OMG, book two of the Lunatic Life young adult series is a fun teenage Ghost Whisperer (and more psychic skills) amateur sleuth mystery. Tara is a wonderful lead character who holds the entertaining story line together. The cast is also strong including the two prime ghosts and DeeDee although two in-crowd high school girls are too stereotypical. Still with the DeeDee paranormal murder case and other paranormal happenings Lunatic Detective is an entertaining investigative tale as the psychic relishes having a BF and BFFs while using her talent to help ghosts cross over.

Harriet Klausner

Isle of Night-Veronica Wolff

Isle of Night
Veronica Wolff
NAL, Sep 6 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451234629

Annelise leaves home glad to get away from her drunken abusive father and her scornful stepmother who disses her high intelligence. She enrolls in the University of Florida at Gainesville but learns she needs a diploma to gain admission since she graduated high school six months early. With her car is broken and with no place to go, Annelise accepts a ride with Ronan, who observed her when she enters the bursar’s office. He asks her if she would like to take a chance on a new life.

Every time she thinks she to flee, he touches her and she feels okay like she is under Ronan’s spell. Annelise accepts a plane ride to Isle of Night where vampires and Watchers train for precarious missions. She becomes adept at fighting techniques and studies diligently in class so she can become a Watcher and escape the island. Lilac wants off too and is determined to win the female tournament that will decide who the five left standing watcher are; the losers end up dead.

The first Watcher urban fantasy is a super opening act as readers tour Wolff’s wild world accompanying Annelise while she adapts to her training. The story line focuses on the training as the girls prepare to compete to the death for five slots. Although the tale starts slow as the place and players are established, the death-sizing countdown to who is left standing at the end of the tournament brings a strong suspense to an engaging urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner