Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Exogene-T.C. McCarthy


T.C. McCarthy

Orbit, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780316128155

As the war between Russia and America continues unabated, both sides use genetic warrior exogenes. Imprinted in these lab-created teen killers is strict adherence to "faith and death". These soldiers know deep in their DNA that death is their only path to honor and salvation.

Sixteen and half years old Catherine is a killing machine; the greatest lab produced soldier made in America. However, Catherine begins to doubt her suicidal mission as she wants to live. Her phobic fear of dying appears to be early ramifications of the "spoiling" that exogenes suffer when they reach their eighteenth birthday. Catherine flees her sisters in arms and takes a chance she will survive the spoiling though her creators insist that is impossible. She encounters Russian male genetically created soldiers, learns of the Russian Exogenic Enhancement and observes firsthand the folly of armchair warriors when she looks at the North Korean nuclear wasteland. As she struggles to control flashbacks of her violent past that leaves her vulnerable, Catherine wonders if her only choices are death, the Americans or the Russians; she loathes all three options.

Though filled with plenty action especially combat, the superb second Subterrene War military science fiction (see Germline) is a great character study as readers get inside the mind of a former zealot born again as a doubter. Ironically Catherine’s doubts are not about killing as that is wired into her brain; but instead she questions killing as a weapon of mass destruction deployed by fat cats rather than her selecting who her enemy is. With a profound look at organized governments and religions tenet to kill in God’s name as a stairway to heaven for expendable soldiers, readers will relish learning who Catherine is.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bear Meets Girl-Shelly Laurenston

Bear Meets Girl

Shelly Laurenston

Kensington Brava, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758265203

NYPD Detective Lou “Crush” Crushek the polar bear shifter wakes up after eating too many shots of Jell-O pieces made with alcohol only to find a she-tiger in the bed with him. Smith Wolf Pack (New York) Marcella “Bare-Knuckles” Malone is a hockey player known for her belligerent style. Whereas he turns red, she smirks.

Cella blackmails a mortified Crush to pretend to be her boyfriend so her family leaves her alone. He investigates a serial killer who is murdering the punks he planned to get locked away. She investigates the predator hunting her species. They team up in a bare knuckles relationship as the pride of New York, the bear and the tiger fall in love.

The latest amusing kick tail Smith Wolf Pack and Friends romantic urban fantasy (see Big Bad Beast) is an engaging police procedural starring two opposites in demeanor falling in love; though at first both would rather be dead. The storyline makes the shifter species seem genuine but also has too many subplots detracting from the main bare knuckles crush plot. Still fans will enjoy a visit to the world of the Laurenston mythos.

Harriet Klausner

The Seduction of Phaeton Black-Jillian Stone

The Seduction of Phaeton Black

Jillian Stone

Kensington Brava, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758268969

In 1889, Scotland Yard uses Phaeton Black to investigate those cases that defy logic as he is the best at solving the impossible. Known for his sex skills even in the brothel where he resides, Black uses opium and absinthe when the call of the paranormal overwhelms his brain.

A serial killer is stalking London. The predator drinks the blood of his or her victims leaving behind fang marks. Black thinks these murders are tied to the Ripper killings; but that the beast is an Egyptian goddess vampire. While investigating he meets America Jones several times. The daughter of a powerful Cajun witch, America is in London searching for the pirates who stole her sea merchant father’s ships. They team up on both cases as they need each other if they are to survive the supernatural and the natural monsters.

The first Black-Jones late Victorian romantic investigative fantasy is a lighthearted fun thriller that combines a tongue in cheek steampunk venue with an exciting paranormal whodunit. With a nod to Sherlock Homes: "When you have eliminated the impossible , whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth", the Devil and Muss Jones make a wonderful pairing as they battle pirates, mummies, Ripper and the vampire, but their biggest adversary is the Scotland Yard brass.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A SEAL In Wolf’s Clothing-Terry Spear

A SEAL In Wolf’s Clothing

Terry Spear

Sourcebooks, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781402258909

(Werewolf SEAL) Hunter and (human wildlife photographer) Tessa Greymere (see To Tempt The Wolf) are on a honeymoon; which his twin sister Meara feels liberating as seemingly forever her sibling focused on find her mate instead of his. Her plan is to rent the Oregon cabins her brother and her own to alphas in order to search for her mate.

However, assassins with insider information target Hunter, his SEAL mates and anyone they cherish. SEAL Finn Emerson arrives to keep Meara safe to her chagrin as she does not want a clone of Hunter interfering with her quest. However, instead of counting potential mates, corpses pile up. As he vows to keep his friend’s sister unharmed, he wonders who will keep Meara safe from his desire.

The latest Heart Of The Wolf werewolf romance is an engaging thriller as the protagonists sing I’m Not In Love” (by 10Cc) while also trying to prevent either joining the kill rate. Fast-paced, with a surprising villain and an unlikely hero refreshing the series, fans of the Terry Spear Lycan saga will want to read the twin falling in love with A SEAL In Wolf’s Clothing.

Harriet Klausner

Assassins In Love-Kris DeLake

Assassins In Love

Kris DeLake

Sourcebooks, Mar 6 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402262821

Rogue Assassin Rikki struggles to toss dead Elio Testrial out an airlock when Guild Assassin Misha intrudes by taking charge of the situation but sets off alarms while disposing of the corpse. He pretends to be intoxicated and takes her with guard escort to the B Deck where he has a room.

He thinks she is an out of control amoral person; she thinks he is fool for adhering to the Guild’s rules. His goal is to get her to join the Guild; her goal is to get away from him. Rikki soon concludes the lone wolf is very ethical as she only hunts down those who are evil; Misha soon concludes he may be by the book, but stretches the rules with his antics. They begin to fall in love until she realizes who her fellow assassin is even as they get entangled with the Guild

The key to this entertaining Assassins Guild romantic science fiction tale is the generally accepted concept by society that assassinations are normal. The storyline is fast-paced and the diabolical scheme to set up Rikki brilliantly deployed. Readers will enjoy a visit to the Assassins Guild as Kris DeLake provides a fun thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior Rising-Pamela Palmer

Warrior Rising

Pamela Palmer

Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 20 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618811

In DC, computer company CEO Harrison Rand prepares for the war against the hated Esri Kingdom now that the Dark Gate and other portals between the realms have been breached. The few Sitheen humans with Esri blood are the last hope for mankind to prevent becoming enslaved by ruthless King Rith. Harrison has doubts he belongs with warriors like his brother Charlie who went through a gate to rescue Princess Ilaria (see A Warrior’s Desire) or Kaderil the Dark Esri who joined their side due to loving a human (see Dark Deceiver).

In fact the divorced Harrison prefers to protect his children, but his sibling needs someone he trusts to protect Ilaria. Although he loathes the Esri, Harrison finds himself attracted to the exiled royal and soon realizes she is caring and kind towards humans and worries about her people like he does for his. She seeks two stones to prevent Rith from completing the destruction of two worlds.

This is a terrific finish to a strong romantic urban fantasy saga as Harrison learns not to be a racist profiler when the Princess destroys his beliefs about her people. Fast-paced and filled with action and romance, fans of the Esri series will appreciate the wonderful magical ending.

Harriet Klausner

The Werewolf’s Wife-Michele Hauf

The Werewolf’s Wife

Michele Hauf

Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 20 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618804

Near the Twin Cities, werewolf Ridge Addison the lumberjack is the Principal of a dwindling pack. He and Jason are the only ones left on the compound while two pack members live with their spouses nearby. The rest of the pack died or fled after Ridge’s predecessors caused a war with the vampires.

Ridge needs a real wife to start a family so he decides it is time to divorce Abigail Rowan the witch he married thirteen years ago while intoxicated in Vegas. In Minneapolis he seeks her out only to learn she is on a desperate hunt to save her twelve year old son Ryan, who was abducted at the Detroit Airport while on his way home from Switzerland by a person claiming to be part of the Light. The kidnapper uses the tweener as a hostage chip to force his mom to rescue a vampire being used in a blood sport in exchange for her child. The werewolf agrees to help his spouse, who he claims placed a spell that has left him unable to procreate, as long as she signs the divorce papers.

Fast-paced from the moment Abigail receives the nightmarish call and never slows down until the final marital confrontation, fans will relish this engaging romantic urban fantasy. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as they argue, fuss and fight on their way to a second chance at love. Most women would cherish Abigail’s below the belt skill while men would cringe. Brilliantly refreshing common romance tropes, Michele Hauf provides a wonderful visit to the “Land of 10000 Lakes.”

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Caine's Law-Matthew Stover

Caine's Law

Matthew Stover

Del Rey, Apr 3 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780345455895

Professional Simon Faller begs Badlands Facility Director Administrator Gayle Keller to not make him do the mission as he is very afraid. Faller has seen first-hand what prisoner Chairman Hori “Caine” Michaelson can do to his enemies. Keller is scared even knowing that Caine is held in check by the Studio, but tells Faller their roles is to get Caine to try to kill them than those outside the facility. The two frightened men visit Caine in his cell. They inform him that the Board rejected his proposal on access to the Overwold in exchange for amnesty. Instead they counter with a fried brain wiring or accepting the oily elixir that insures total loyalty. With no real option especially after seeing what happened to a dedicated follower of his, he takes the chemical.

However, everyone underestimates the ruthless Caine; as he understands acting is to build off the sh*t that motivates you. His allies enable Caine to escape to the Overwold’ which he once saved from genocide by the ruling elite of Earth. Caine begins a time and space odyssey that will either bring him what he lost or eradicate the universe.

The latest Caine speculative fiction thriller is a gory yet intelligent and entertaining tale. The storyline is convoluted as time proves liquid (as Matthew Stover notes) with this entry in the Act of Atonement saga coming before, during and after the events of the previous novel Caine Black Knife; to further complicate matters, incidents that were real at one time vanish as if they never happened. Readers will appreciate this exciting complex thriller while wondering if the universe ended would anyone notice.

Harriet Klausner

Timeless-Gail Carriger


Gail Carriger

Orbit, Mar 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780316127189

In London, the parents, friends, clan and servants of Prudence suffer from the wrath of the terrible two’s. Making matters more difficult for others the toddler can “borrow” the supernatural powers of people by touching them until her soulless mom releases the stolen skills. That is why her parents, Alpha of the Woolsey werewolf clan Lord Conall and Lady Alexia, use mostly drones as servants as well as their friend vampire Lord Akeldama, who actually adopted the baby to help. Still the doting mama and papa relish their domestic lunacy.

The Queen of the Alexandria Hive orders Alexia to come to her city. Knowing you never refuse a royal summons, Alexia, Conall, Prudence and actress Ivy Tunstell head to Egypt by steamer. However, in Egypt the God-Breaker Plague has erupted. The mysteries of the summons and the plague pale compared to how the world’s worst actress Ivy is an overnight sensation as the most popular actress in the British Empire.

The Parasol Protectorate Victorian fantasy ends with a great globetrotting fast-paced thriller. Once again, Gail Carriger combines humor with tense action while tying up the major threads from the previous entries in the series (see Soulless, Changeless, Blameless and Heartless). The females are superb while Conall looks foolish as he remains doubting Thomas (after all that has occurred including three years of marital bliss, you would think he would trust his wife). Still Alexia and her troupe provide a strong final curtain performance.

Harriet Klausner

The Shape Of Desire-Sharon Shinn

The Shape Of Desire

Sharon Shinn

Ace, Apr 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781937007171

For over a decade Maria Devane has loved Dante Romano and believes with all her heart that he loves her too. She accepts that he holds back his feelings out of fear that he would lose control of the beast and harm his Maria; especially when he has no control over his monthly change into the beast. Dante also fears the animal is taking over his soul as he spends longer time as a beast and wanders wider areas.

Although Maria knows she sees her mate through rose colored glasses, she believes he would harm no one. However, she becomes fearful that the animal has won when brutal assaults by a feral beast begin occurring in nearby parks. She needs to report him to the law, but her heart has been shattered as if claws ripped it into strips.

This is a great urban romantic fantasy as love seems not enough for this couple struggling with an increasingly dysfunctional relationship which also makes shapeshifting seem genuine. The protagonists are magnificent as each goes through their customized version of grief as if they buried what they have had for the last fifteen years. The mystery of the attacks engages the reader further as Maria knows all the evidence points to Dante, which leaves her in hell as Sharon Shinn provides another super paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beside a Dreamswept Sea-Vicki Hinze

Beside a Dreamswept Sea

Vicki Hinze

Bell Bridge, Dec 23 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781611940855

New Orleans widower Bryce Richards takes his three young children to Seascape Inn hoping that the B&B will help them move on from the death of their mother photojournalist Meriam. He and resident ghost Tony Freeport especially worry about nine years old Susie suffering from nightmares that has her dad sleeping outside her room and the spirit entering her nasty dreams to help her survive them. Their father is less concerned with his son Jeremy and his third child Alyssa the baby.

In Biloxi, Caline Tate, divorced emotionally abusive Gregory, feels an abiding obsession to visit Seascape Inn. There she meets her former husband’s lawyer Bryce. Though attracted to each other, neither embraces relationships love after their dysfunctional marriages. Tony and innkeeper Hattie Stillman agree Cally is perfect to nurture three children in need of maternal love, and the adults are a terrific couple if they only moved on passed their previous relationships.

The reprint of the third Vicki Hinze (written as Victoria Barrett) Seascape contemporary Maine romantic fantasy is a whimsical engaging tale as the paranormal matchmaker and his human partner must do much more than just work their magic on the commitment phobic couple. Susie draws Tony’s attention as he fears for her life and she brings to him something he has not felt in five decades. Although the story line stands alone thanks to a strong cast, fans will want to read Ms. Hinze’s entertaining previous entries (see Upon A Mystic Tide and Beyond the Misty Shores – both written as Ms. Barrett) and The Perfect Stranger and other Seascape novels by Rosalyn Alsobrook to enjoy the magic of this coastal Maine B&B.

Harriet Klausner

Forerunner-Andre Norton


Andre Norton

Baen, Mar 6 2012, $12.00

ISBN: 9781451638080

Forerunner. On Kuxortal, Sims worked as a scavenger for Ferwar until the old woman dies. She, like many of the Guild, lives off the ancient ruins and burrows of the Forerunners. However, she is unique with her blue-black skin coloring and with her telepathic connection to Zass the zorsal and her children. Off-worlder Thom arrives from space seeking his missing brother. He realizes Simsa is more than just different. They explore the Forerunner caverns where she was first found as a baby. However, neither is prepared for what they discover.

Forerunner: The Second Venture. Simsa escaped Kuxortal, but now the off planet scientists imprison her as a “guest” but she feels more like a lab rat as they want to extract what she knows about the highly advanced technology of the Forerunners. Her companion Zass the zorsal enables her to escape, but Simsa crashes on another world in which the Forerunners impacted. While sentient natives want the outsider dead, something inside her wants control of her. However, neither understands how resolute Simsa is to live free.

This reprint of the entertaining first two Forerunner science fiction thrillers is a fun collection. Simsa is a great protagonist surrounded by a horde of villains (too many) in both novels as ethics mean nothing to the interchangeable Guild, archeologists and scientists. Still readers will appreciate these exciting outer space tales as Simsa refuses to sit idly by while others use her for their personal gain.

Harriet Klausner

The Star Beast-Robert A. Heinlein

The Star Beast

Robert A. Heinlein

Baen, Mar 6 2012, $13.00

ISBN: 9781451638073

Generations ago, a starman ancestor of John Stuart Thomas XI brought Lummox back with him from space. Over the decades in Westville, Lummox has grown from cute to humongous. Everyone assumes Lummox is a moron as he speaks at the skill of a child. People would be partially right with their assessment of the eight-legged beast as in terms of his species he is a child and sounds ignorant because English is a light-years different second language.

John is with his friend Betty Sorenson arguing over college. To battle ennui and hunger, Lummox takes a stroll that destroys property. Police Chief Dreiser sends Sergeant Mendoza to get John to control his pet. The Department of Spatial Affairs Permanent Under Secretary Henry Gladstone Kiku sends his top aide Sergei Greenberg to take control. Not trusting the Fed or any authoritative figure, John and Betty vow to keep Lummox from becoming a lab rat. They flee Westville though hiding their trail might prove difficult; while aliens arrive demand the return of an infant abducted by an earthling decades ago or face planetary annihilation.

This reprint of a 1950s satirical science fiction is a fun young adult read as Robert Heinlein mocks know-it-all political appointees running agencies they cannot spell (that is why we use acronyms) and the teen eternal revolt against former teens. Lummox challenges the neurotypical definition of intelligence in a comedic slapstick way; while the rotation of lead perspective among four characters remains sharply relevant (Mr. Heinlein would have enjoyed mocking vagina politics). Although the storyline never quite settles on an overarching premise between incarceration of ET and lampooning the socially correct determinants, fans will enjoy The Star Beast.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nightfall-Stephen Leather


Stephen Leather

47 North, Mar 20 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 978-1612182292

Metropolitan Police CO19 armed response unit Negotiator Inspector Jack Nightingale works a crisis at Chelsea Harbor. Apparently nine year old Sophie Underwood sits on a locked thirteenth floor balcony talking to a doll while her father works at a bank and her mom shops; Inga the Polish au pair called for help. He talks to her to try to get her inside, but she jumps anyway as the only means to escape her pedophile dad. Raging he visits Mr. Underwood who falls through a twentieth floor window to his death. Refusing to defend himself or for that matter speak with anyone, Jack leaves the force.

Two years later, Jack is a private investigator who works cheating spouse cases. His office assistant is Jenny McLean though he has no idea why this beautiful brilliant woman stays with him. Solicitor Mr. Turtledove informs Jack he inherited his late father’s estate, which confuses him since his parents died a decade ago. The solicitor explains that the Nightingales were his adoptive parents, but his biological dad is the late Ainsley Gosling. His father leaves Jack a DVD in which he explains he sold his son’s soul at birth and a demon from hell will collect on his upcoming thirty-third birthday. As he follows the enigmatic mystical trail, he finds out Gosling committed suicide and rhere is useful information in a new mansion’s customized library. Meanwhile; death pursues people he knows.

This is an exciting horror noir starring an unlikable individual who inherits a place in hell. Fast-paced from the moment the little girl leaps and never slowing down, readers will enjoy Nightingale’s nightmare as he realizes chain smoking will no longer be the death of him.

Harriet Klausner

Magic Without Mercy-Devon Monk

Magic Without Mercy

Devon Monk

Roc, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451464484

In Portland, Hound Allie Beckstrom always was proud that she and her team rigidly adhered to the strict rules of the overseeing of magic Authority even when risking their lives and souls in support of the practitioners (see Magic at the Gate and Magic at the Hunt). However, to prevent a magical plague from spreading and end a serial killer’s reign of terror, Allie Beckstrom shot the new Authority Chief Bartholomew Wray (see Magic On The Line). Her dead dad keeps reminding her inside her head that she had no choice, but filled with Shame, Allie, her lover Zayvion Jones, and other friends have been declared outlaws for violating the rules even if their cause was just as the end never justifies the mean.

As Allie struggles with the Shame of the killing, she and her team elude the Authority and the cops while seeking a means to cleanse the poisoned magic and finally end the plague; the answer seems to rest with a lunatic. At the same, they must cope with the Veiled murdering people.

This is a great entry in a superior urban fantasy series, as conscientious Allie knows logically she did the right thing with Wray, but emotionally feels Shame as she broke the Authority rules, which run deep in her brain. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans will relish this direct sequel (need to have read at least Magic On The Line) as guilt wracked Allie and her cohorts struggle with doing the right thing as hostilities turn heated with the doomsday clock striking the midnight hour.

Harriet Klausner

Alien Diplomacy-Gini Koch

Alien Diplomacy

Gini Koch

Daw, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407162

Newlyweds Jeff and Kitty Martini resign their positions as Centaurion Division exterminators-commanders to raise their infant Jamie. The family moves to Washington DC as head diplomats at the recently formed Centaurion Embassy.

However, they find the American capital as dangerous as some of their extermination missions were. A bomb blows up the limo that the Martini pair were supposed to be in. Additionally, Kitty learns of a major assassination plot planned at the upcoming Presidential Ball. Though POTUS is the most obvious target, Kitty has doubts though she remains clueless who else or why, but believes aliens are involved. Jeff, Kitty and their crew hunt for a killer and for a killer dress.

The latest Kitty Katt Alien satirical science fiction thriller (see Alien Proliferation, Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango and Alien in the Family) is a superb jocular entry that is filled with twists, spins and humor. Fast-paced, readers will believe the two species are real (as are other not quite as benign ETs); while the Jamie effect continues to nuke the lifestyle of the parents. With a sort of Mork in Men In Black lampooning, readers will enjoy this amusing action-packed tale in which nothing in alien (as observed by the rest of the country and the Centaurions) DC is sacred.

Harriet Klausner

The Thirteenth Sacrifice-Debbie Viguie

The Thirteenth Sacrifice

Debbie Viguie

Signet, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236364

Boston PD Detectives Samantha Ryan and her partner Ed Hofferman arrive at the scene of coed Camille’s homicide in an off campus apartment. On the forehead of the victim is a bloody pentagram, but there is no blood anywhere else on the deceased or in the room. They interview the roommate Katie who claims to be a solitary practicing witch, but Samantha realizes she offers nothing not even emotion; while the victim’s new boyfriend Brad cries. George the coroner informs Samantha that the pentagram was drawn in nail polish several hours after the death.

The two cops head to St. Vincent’s Cathedral where Sister Mary Ellen has a waxed pentagram on her forehead. Next Katie’s former boyfriend Kyle is found dead by his roommates. Samantha believes Kyle’s death is a red herring by a clever killer who wants the cops looking at Katie as the killer. His girlfriend Tina arrives hysterical; which leads to Samantha hugging her. Soon afterward, Samantha loses her cross while subsequently more murders follow; she increasingly believes the vicious witches that she descends from have returned to Salem using sacrifices to embellish their power.

The first Witch Hunt urban fantasy police procedural is a terrific thriller due to a strong protagonist who converted from witchcraft practitioner to Christian believer. The whodunit is clever as Samantha has to return to her roots going undercover to ferret out the serial killer as she believes the motive is power. Readers will appreciate Detective Ryan affirming “You Can’t Go Home Again” (Thomas Wolfe) as she returns to a community she fled several years ago.

Harriet Klausner

Songs of the Earth-Elspeth Cooper

Songs of the Earth

Elspeth Cooper

Tor, Feb 28 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331656

Gair has been a dedicated holy knight who has devoted his life to the revelatory service of the Lady and the Church. However, his loyalty proves insufficient as he breaks the prime law of the Holy City when he hears the music of magic. Declared rightfully as a witch he expects to burn at the stake. Tormented by his taint though keeping his head up and looking at his accusers, Gair knows even if he wanted to escape, which he does not as he must die, the Church Knights led by the Witchfinder would hunt him down like an animal.

However, he is taken aback when Preceptor Ansel changes his death sentence to permanent exile from the parish. Leaving the Holy City to starve to death, a mysterious stranger Alderan of the Guardians of the Veil, who watched the court proceedings, escorts the shocked young man away. However, a dying Goran sends his Knights and a Witchfinder after them, but they escape as they begin their journey to a place where the lad can learn to control his magical skills as he learns that the Guardians of the Veil patrol the barrier that separates this realm from a hell; while being mentored by Aysha the shapeshifter.

This is an entertaining fantasy with several subplots, but mostly the trek, the school (especially the older woman younger man romance) and the search for answers by Ansel and Goran. The fast-paced but somewhat straightforward storyline will remind fans of E. Rose Sabin's "School For Sorcery" saga though the protagonist of Songs of the Earth is older. Readers will enjoy the opening Cooper mythos as a breach in the gate of hell gives a trainee a baptism of fire.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Upon A Mystic Tide-Vicki Hinze

Upon A Mystic Tide

Vicki Hinze

Bell Bridge, Dec 8 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781611940848

After several years of separation, married couple, New Orleans radio psychologist Dr. Bess Cameron and investigator John Mystic, has their lawyers battle over a divorce settlement. Bess wants nothing while John wants her to have everything. They meet at Seascape Inn in Sea Haven Village, Maine to finalize their divorce.

Though angry at Bess for failing to attend the funeral of Elise, who was like a mother to him, John knows he does not want their marriage to end as he still loves his wife though he remains uncertain why she left him. Bess still loves her husband, but believes he loves someone else as he chose the case of Elise’s missing daughter over her. Resident Tony the ghost not only calls Bess at her show, he speaks to John in the man’s head. To insure Bess can no longer run, Tony disables her car. Tony and his sidekick inn proprietor Miss Hattie plan to make this couple communicate.

The reprint of the second Vicki Hinze (written as Victoria Barrett) Seascape contemporary Maine romantic fantasy is a whimsical engaging tale as the paranormal matchmaker works his magic on the recalcitrant married couple. The storyline is character driven by the living couple and the matchmaking spirit who with his human helper struggles to bring this couple in love back together. Although the story line stands alone, it behooves the audience to read Ms. Hinze’s entertaining Beyond the Misty Shores (written as Ms. Barrett) and The Perfect Stranger by Rosalyn Alsobrook to better understand the magic of Seascape. Regardless, readers will enjoy their visit to this coastal Maine B&B.

Harriet Klausner

The Games-Ted Kosmatka

The Games

Ted Kosmatka

Del Rey, Mar 13 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345526618

The Olympics include the Gladiator blood-sport in which genetically created competitors fight to the death. The only rule is no human DNA is allowed as strict testing will lead to disqualifications and ruined reputations.

Geneticist Silas Williams has led the Americans to the gold in every previous contest and there is no reason to believe he and his team will not do likewise again. However, this year, instead of Silas creating the entry, an AI was programmed to do so with one business rule¨ survive the competition at all cost. However, the new representative proves diabolical, bellicose and amoral as it heeds the prime directive by killing anyone, gladiators and human, in the way. Additionally the out of control monster enjoys dining on humans. Silas and xenobiologist Vidonia Joao must find a way prevent further mayhem by unlocking the American entry’s genome code.

The cast is solid as even the creation seems genuine while the subplots nicely converge into a strong tense finish. Taut throughout, but especially when the AI completes the mission, The Games is a terrific tale even though reader will anticipate the PERT chart path of this exciting cautionary science fiction; as Ted Kosmatka makes his intriguing modernization of Frankenstein a gold medal winner.

Harriet Klausner

A Crown Imperiled-Raymond E. Feist

A Crown Imperiled

Raymond E. Feist

Harper Voyager, Mar 13 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061468414

Jim Dasher and his espionage unit conclude Midkemia appears on the verge of deadly chaos and there seems to be nothing they can do to prevent what looks inevitable as hostilities explode almost everywhere. Meanwhile the Moredhel dark elves fear the arrival of the powerful feral Taredhel elves of the stars. Desperate War Chieftain Arkan enters the realm of man to bring back to the land of elves Pug the Magician, prophesied to save his realm.

Pug, accompanied by Sandreena and Amirantham, asks the Conclave of Shadows for help; but fails to obtain any definitive support and the trio seeks what is behind all the mounting evil that appears the be destroying Midkemia. Demons breach the realm from the outside while various coups in neighboring states leave the Kingdom fractured as unrest grows from within.

The second Chaoswar fantasy (see A Kingdom Besieged) is an entertaining Riftwar thriller containing several subplots tied together by Dasher and his crew. Filled with twists and a strong look at political and military intrigue Midkemia and its neighboring lands, this is a fast-paced entry that readers will enjoy. Fans of the long running saga will wonder what darkness next will befall the people of Midkemia and especially ponder how present events tie back to the past.

Harriet Klausner

Taken At Dusk-C.C. Hunter

Taken At Dusk

C.C. Hunter

St. Martin’s Griffin, Apr 10 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312624699

Sixteen years old orphan Kylie Galen desperately seeks understanding about her essence, which can only come from knowledge at a time when her adopted parents are divorcing. She needs to know her biological roots as she was adopted and learns more about her recently activated dormant powers in which she has a new one every few days or so. Even with the spirit of her biological dad Daniel cautioning her, euphoric because a source surfaced, her paternal grandparents, the Brightens thinks she is a troubled youth sight unseen.

Attending the Shadow Falls camp for teens with supernatural powers, she also likes the two campers, hunks Lucas and Derek. While she can’t make up her mind about the boys, Lucas’ werewolf pack makes it for them as she is declared taboo. Additionally an ancient vampire stalks her and her new ghost, suffering from amnesia, haunts her with warnings that death is coming.

The third Shadow Falls young adult urban fantasy (see Awake At Dawn and Born At Midnight) is an engaging thriller Kylie (and readers) begins to learn the shocking truth about her genealogy. The protagonist also finds out that true friendship as she has with her roommates Miranda the witch and Della the vampire enhances ones power by strengthening confidence and self-esteem. Paraphrasing Robin Ward’s song, this is the most wonderful (and frightening) summer of her life.

Harriet Klausner

Sins Of The Son-Linda Poitevin

Sins Of The Son

Linda Poitevin

Ace, Mar 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007379

Toronto Homicide Detective Alexandra Jarvis was a key player in ending the serial killing spree of Caim the fallen angel who had escaped from Limbo incarceration (see Sins of the Angels). However, victory came at an exorbitant price as she lost her soul mate. Seth Benjamin the angel, who insisted he is the appointed judge of mankind, saved Alex’s life.

To her shock, Alex sees Seth’s picture on a police bulletin. She knows something went terribly wrong as Seth was to prevent Armageddon but instead suffers from amnesia. Led by Lucifer, the Fallen come for Seth, as do the archangels. At the same time Caim’s exiled brother Aramael the Guardian Angel seeking divine redemption plans to kill the Appointed one before he destroys the Creator’s greatest creation. Alex plans to protect Seth from heaven, hell and anything in between.

The second Grigori Legacy is a great urban fantasy filled with twists, back stabbing and several terrific subplots that converge in Vancouver. Fast-paced from the onset, fans will relish this strong thriller as Lucifer and the Fallen hatch a diabolical plan to cause Armageddon.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Kingdoms Of Dust-Amanda Downum

The Kingdoms Of Dust

Amanda Downum

Orbit, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780316068987

The recent disastrous events evolved from her investigation into a dead whore wearing the ring of the deceased queen of Selafai to Isyllt Iskaldur's master dying and assassins stalking her. Not only has she lost her position as the necromancer Agent of the Crown, she is exiled from the royal city of Erisin (see The Bone Palace). She and her mercenary friend Adam travel across the Caelurean Sea receiving sanctuary at the court of the Assari.

Dormant ancient spirits of entropy begin to awaken. If they break out of the imprisonment of dedicated mages, these spirits will destroy Assar and its neighbors. Isyllt and Asheris al Seth the jinn bound to a human body travel into the deadly burning desert in search of the lost ancient city of Qais. There they seek the vortex where the lethal ghost winds emanate from. If they find the city, they still have to figure out how to shut down the terrorizing ghost winds.

The latest Necromancer Chronicles fantasy series (see The Drowning City) is a great tale as Amanda Downum once again combines morality on an individual scale against the ethics of the greater good. Isyllt is the focus of the dilemma as she wonders whose needs belong on top of the food chain at the cost to others. She feels for her partner who fumes against his binding but she needs him to save humanity; she empathizes with the bound spirits trying to break out but also knows if freed they will destroy their mage guards (who she admires for their self-sacrificing vigil) and humanity. Filled with plenty of fast-paced action, The Kingdoms of Dust is fantasy at its most exciting morally thought provoking best.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lucky Bastard-S. G. Browne

Lucky Bastard

S. G. Browne

Gallery, Apr 17 2012, $23.00

ISBN: 9781451657197

In San Francisco, no one understands luck like private investigator Nick Monday does first hand as he makes his living by stealing, with a touch, luck from a victim and selling it on the black market commodity exchange. He has no interest as to who his clients are or why they purchase purloined luck, but he knows luck is fickle like a lady as it runs out at the most inopportune moments. Still swiping and selling luck keeps Nick rolling in Lucky Charms and gourmet mocha coffee though he understands the karma of stealing luck as someone is fated to pay the price.

The daughter of the city’s mayor, Tuesday Knight arrives at Nick’s shabby office with an offer he can’t refuse as she will pay him $100,000 to recover her father’s stolen luck. Before he can begin the recovery, Chinese crime boss Tommy Wong makes an offer that Nick better not refuse as he wants the sleazy poacher to steal the rare pure luck. Additionally, Nick notices Feds and Scooter Girl are following his latest adventures into the world of the avaricious and if his luck turns good he will have plenty of mocha coffee to wash down his Lucky Charms and apple fritters.

This is a superb satirical Noir fantasy starring a charming rogue who finds his luck turned bad since the femme fatale entered his office as the cosmos demands karmic equilibrium with his debt in the stratosphere. Fast-paced and filled with all types of biting humor, readers will appreciate the antics of the Lucky Bastard as he deals with Greedy Bastards that would make even Dylan Ratigan’s head spin in disbelief.

Harriet Klausner

Angels of Vengeance-John Birmingham

Angels of Vengeance

John Birmingham

Del Rey, Apr 10 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9780345502933

Several years have passed since the catastrophic wave of energy destroyed the United States killing millions in 2003 that came like a tsunami Without Warning; scientists remain baffled as to the cause and why it abruptly vanished a year later. President Kipper and the White House moved to Seattle where the new America is formed in the Pacific Northwest (see Without Warning and After America). World War III explodes as many nations want to fill the mantle of superpower.

In Uruguay, South American Federation, Echelon senior field special agent Caitlin Monroe seeks Ramon Luperico, held prisoner by a dictator; as she plans to interrogate the former prison governor of Guadeloupe detention center to learn how a terrorist escaped to destroy New York City and her loved ones. Teenager Sofia Peiraro survived the murderous rule of General “Mad” Jack Blackstone by fleeing to Kansas City with her dad Miguel; but a homicide hits home has her retuning to Texas to even the score with Mad Jack. In Darwin, Australia British smuggler Lady Julianne “Jules” Balwyn calmly waits for her stalker contract killer Norman Parmenter so she can kill her predator.

The final super alternate historical post-apocalyptic thriller works on four prime fronts (though there are other lesser ones) to show a world filling a power vacuum. The President’s problems in attempting to help the country heal and recover have issues from dissenters within his circle, from vicious despots throughout the nation and potential foreign invaders. The subplots led by the three female led subplots display how much the earth changed and yet remains the avaricious same since the wave. Together they make a cohesive exciting international tale as they converge as Angels of Vengeance.

Harriet Klausner

Blue Magic-A.M. Dellamonica

Blue Magic

A.M. Dellamonica

Tor, Apr 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780765319487

In Indigo Springs, Oregon, Astrid Lethewood discovered an underground stream of blue liquid when she moved into the home of her late father. She learned that this Vitagua possesses magic, but she and her friends like Sahara Kanx become corrupted by the power possibilities of the blue liquid (see Indigo Springs). However, as Astrid begins doubting the positive effect of Vitagua, the world knows of its existence.

Sahara formed a cult focused on her being a goddess ruling the world while her former BFF turned enemy Astrid tries to heal the world. The would-be goddess loses and now she stands trial along with her minion for crimes against the state. Astrid somewhat helps Will Forest, who assisted her in ending Sahara’s reign of terror, locate his children. However, Astrid is distracted by her efforts to prevent global annihilation that she fears she set in motion.

The return to Indigo Springs is an exciting and enthralling fantasy that once again looks at the consequences of “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (Lord Acton). The Indigo Springs’ subplots that follow up on the lives of the lead players from the first thriller (Will’s kids, Sahara’s trial and Astrid’s concerns that have her followers arguing) supersedes the world apocalypse now plot as the small overwhelms the big; which feels wrong as the global pandemic could end Indigo Springs and the rest of earth. Still this is an entertaining tale that provides a close scrutiny of magic’s corruption effect.

Harriet Klausner

Beyond A Misty Shore-Vicki Hinze

Beyond A Misty Shore

Vicki Hinze

Bell Bridge, Oct 14 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611940541

New Orleans-based artist Tyler James “T.J.” MacGregor left town after the car accident left his fiancée Carolyn dead from an inferno in which she was severely burned beyond recognition. They needed her teeth to identify her; ironically his painting of Seascape Inn that the art gallery manager claimed she stole was found inside the car unmarked. He vowed to never use his gift to paint again. T.J. arrived at Seascape Inn in Sea Haven, Maine nine months ago, but like the song Hotel California he can never leave. Every time he tries he blacks out after his first step off the property.

Carolyn’s cousin marketing executive Maggie Wright has waited two years in which took care of her invalid mom to learn the truth as to what happened to her relative. Now with her mom healed and feeling a compulsion after seeing the infamous painting, Maggie heads to Maine to confront T.J. At the inn, he is shocked to learn his fiancée has a cousin and aunt while she hears voices encouraging her to help him as she watches him faint every time he tries to leave. As the pair falls in love, the tragedy of Carolyn links them yet keeps them apart as both need inner healing before reaching out of the darkness.

The first charming Seascape romantic fantasy is a terrific tale as two wounded warriors begin to move on passed the tragedy that brought them together. The whimsical storyline is fast-paced while the paranormal rules of Seascape Inn are established through the protagonists. Fans of paranormal romance will want to stay at the spiritual healing Maine B&B with Vicki Hinze as their innkeeper.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Singularity- Ian Douglas


Ian Douglas

Harper Voyager, Feb 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780061840272

By 2404 AD, mankind has colonized nearby space with settlements as far away as 60 light years from earth. However, on the verge of an incredible technological transcendence, the feral Sh’daar collective launch an assault on the human space sector including a brutal Earth Strike. After slaughtering billions, the enemy demands total surrender especially an end to the transcendence

The Terran Confederation of States leaders bicker on how to react to the hostile blitzkrieg. Many prefer surrender while under staffed and poorly equipped Marines fight the overwhelming servile horde of the invincible foe. Admiral Alexander Koenig knows there is something about the transcendence that frightens the bellicose Sh'daar. He knows his side has one chance to survive the ordeal as the adversary will not stop even with total surrender; he decides to lead the Star Carrier America on an attack of Sh'daar system.

The third Star Carrier military science fiction (see Center of Gravity) is an exhilarating thriller that provides interesting insight into tactics and strategy when you fight shorthanded though all that jargon slows down the otherwise fast-paced storyline. The awesome alien adversaries steal the show from the earth leaders and the admiral and his crew as they are incredibly developed, which is a prime reason fans will enjoy the engaging “Vinge” Singularity.

Harriet Klausner

The Fourth Wall-Walter Jon Williams

The Fourth Wall

Walter Jon Williams

Orbit, Feb 13 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780316133395

Former child star Sean Makin cannot believe how humiliatingly he has fallen since he peaked at thirteen as he nears his thirtieth birthday. His parents spent all he earned as a kid rather than put money in a trust fund. Mortifying his only source of income is making a fool of himself by getting his head knocked in on reality TV Celebrity Pitfighter against other has-beens.

Pregnant Dagmar Shaw offers Sean some meaningful work on Escape to Earth, a plan to combine a movie with an interactive game about the life of Roheen an anthropologist from another dimension stranded on Earth. She believes Sean is perfect to play Roheen due to his pedomorphic physical state that leaves him with an enormously overlarge babyish head, and limbs belonging to someone a foot taller than him. Joey da Nova, who once worked with Sean, directs the project. All is well until an unknown adversary tries to murder Sean. He has no idea why while others on the production are murdered. Sean fears secretive Dagmar and her enigmatic Asian backer are behind the homicides, but the motive remains elusive.

This is an exciting near-futuristic suspense as the mysterious gamester Dagmar returns (see This Is Not a Game and Deep State), which means those in her circle tend to die. Sean is terrific as a self-pitying alcoholic who knows his Hollywood especially the bad and the ugly. Dagmar plays a support role to the fallen idol and the serial murder resolution a bit weak, fans of the Shaw taut thrillers will enjoy this fun ultra-dark tale filled with information on movies, games, electronic monitoring and homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 17, 2012

Triggers-Robert J. Sawyer


Robert J. Sawyer

Ace, Apr 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781937007164

Near the Washington Monument, an assassin shoots President Seth Jerrison from behind as he gives a speech on terrorist attacks in Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphian. Secret Service Agent Susan Dawson takes charge of the chaos sending agents to find the assassin and rushing Prospector (as POTUS is called by his protective detachment) to nearby Luther Terry Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery. Also there is Dr. Ranjip Singh working with PTSD flashback veteran Kadeem Adams.

An explosion rocks the hospital causing a weird electromagnetic change to Dr. Singh’s equipment. Memories swap between a near dead Jerrison, Dawson, Singh, Adams and others. Dawson realizes quickly that at least one of the twenty-one has gained access to Prospector’s memories, which include top secret information. This is dangerous now as an authorized military operation has begun that jeopardizes those involved if the information is given to the enemy.

This is a superb science fiction thriller with a great dystopian spin that will have readers admiring the brilliance of Robert J. Sawyer. Loaded with action, the storyline focuses on twenty-one people who become interrelated with collective wireless memories of someone. Readers will enjoy this tremendous taut twisting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Uglies: Shay's Story (Graphic Novel)-Scott Westerfeld, Steven Cummings and Devin Grayson (illustrator)

Uglies: Shay's Story (Graphic Novel)

Scott Westerfeld, Steven Cummings and Devin Grayson (illustrator)

Del Rey, Mar 6 2012, $10.99

ISBN: 9780345527226

In Uglyville humans are ugly until their sixteenth birthday. At that time they must choose to become a Pretty and enjoy the fruits of society or remain as they are. Most opt for the Surge to change them into a Pretty as the materialistic hedonism of obedience supersedes toiling as an Ugly.

As Shay nears her landmark birthday, she looks forward to transforming into a Pretty; as does her friend Tally. Both are daredevil risk takers tampering with their hoverboard safety mechanisms. After a crash landing, Shay meets Zane known as Stretch. She says her friends call her “Skinny”. He tells her he plans to go out not up as she did. Shay thinks he means the burbs with the middle Pretties, but he says beyond the grid. Stretch introduces Skinny to the skeptical teen Crims who question anything society claims as fact. Feeling an affinity with the Crims, as her sixteenth birthday nears; she must decide between Shay the Pretty in the city or Skinny the Ugly in the wilderness.

Fans of Tally’s saga sees the story from Shay’s perspective in this terrific graphic book that captures the same values questions of what rights a citizen has to say no to a society demanding conformity. The storyline is fast-paced with illustrations enhancing the action. Readers will appreciate Shay’s choice in a society that demands compliance in exchange for a life of “pleasure”. Though targeting middle school children, the entertaining storyline will remind readers of commentary by Dylan Ratigan (see Greedy Bastards) and Charles J. Sykes (see A Nation of Moochers: America's Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing) though Shay insists there is a price to pay.

Harriet Klausner

Beckon-Tom Pawlik


Tom Pawlik

Tyndale, Apr 1 2012, $12.99

ISBN 9781414338736

Twelve years ago, University of Chicago anthropologist Dr. David Kendrick said goodbye to his nine year old son Jack before going west to study an ancient civilization reported to be more advanced than the Egyptians were; he never came home. Jack, who dreamed of joining his dad on his expeditions, obsesses over recovering his late father’s damaged reputation. Joining him on a trek to Beckon, Wyoming is his best friend Rudy Peterson where they will search the nearby caves allegedly home of the Native American legend Sh’ar Kouhm, the Soul Eater while he also seeks closure with a deep need to know what happened to his dad.

Ben Graywolf becomes their local guide with the Caieche, other locals and the geography. Caieche Running Bear warns them the cave means death. The trio enters the cave, but only Jack leaves. When he tells his tale to the law, he becomes a prisoner. Meanwhile ex-cop Elina Gutierrez arrives in town seeking her missing cousin, but she becomes the hunted. Finally George Wilcox comes to Beckon seeking a miracle cure for Alzheimer’s destroying his wife; he too is a guest of the townsfolk.

This is a gripping horror thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Jack and his comrades enter the cave and never slows down as he, Elina and George learn the secret of Beckon, but readers doubt they will get away to tell it; though each assumes no one will believe them. Fast-paced and filled with twists and strange venomous beasts (including humans), fans will enjoy this taut thriller wondering what the secrets of Beckon are.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Arctic Rising-Tobias S. Buckell

Arctic Rising

Tobias S. Buckell

Tor, Feb 28 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765319210

The Arctic Ice Cap has melted leading to an economic race between Arctic Tiger nations claiming the land and water as theirs with the argument between Russia, Greenland, Canada and America over the vast oil deposits now reachable with the opening of the Northwest passage. United Nations Polar Guard Glover Airship pilot Anika Duncan a Nigerian knows how global warming impacts the area as the always frozen Lancaster Sound is just frigid not iced.

The Gaia Corporation fears the earth is dying while the leaders stitch meaningless platitudes. The group deploys thousands of miniature mirrors into the atmosphere in order to deflect heat, which will cool the planet. However, good intentions turn hellish when their weapon is purloined. As a stolen nuclear weapon makes its way to the polar cap, a rogue ship shoots down the Glover. Anika survives but is thrust into a geo war.

This is an intriguing futuristic science fiction thriller that extrapolates global warming trends and the race to claim the Arctic into an exciting cautionary thriller. The storyline is fast-paced as, for the most part, Tobias S. Buckell balances the moral issues with the action this is especially true for the heroine. Anika who keeps the plot focused. Although the final confrontation seems out of a bloody pulp fiction that blows up many people and the profound economic-environmental debate, fans will appreciate entertaining Arctic Rising.

Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse-Troy Denning

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse

Troy Denning

Del Rey, Mar 13 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9780345509222

The Force flows strongly through father and son Luke and Ben Skywalker as well as female teenage Sith Vestara Khai. Ben and Vestara are attracted to each other though she hates these weak feelings that go against her nature. Still she has saved their lives several times which also goes against her Sith DNA.

The Skywalker pair completed their mission so they return to the Jedi stronghold on Coruscant. However the Sith have infiltrated the Galactic Alliance in a bold plan to destroy their enemy from within and Abeloth has begun her quest to take over the galaxy by controlling the Galactic Alliance. Some of the Alliance members are aware of the twin threats, a bold plan is deployed to force the Sith out into the open while the targets employ a counterplot; meanwhile Abeloth continues to feed on the fear that the adversaries bring to her.

The ninth and final Fate of the Jedi (three authors - Aaron Allston, Christie Golden and Troy Denning) is a terrific ending to a strong post New Hope saga. The two overarching prime plots (and much more) converge on Coruscant with the Skywalker pair ready to take the fight to Abeloth while the Jedi and Sith face off in a Force Armageddon. This is a must read.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Torn-Amanda Hocking


Amanda Hocking

St. Martin’s, Feb 28 2012, $8.99

ISBN: 9781250006325

Seventeen year old Wendy Everly flees her Trylle princess obligations in Forening, Minnesota as their chosen one heir (see Switched) to return home with Rhys Dahl. Grateful her legal guardian Aunt Maggie is away searching for her in Oregon, she somewhat explains to her older “brother” Matt that Rhys is his biological sibling, instead of her.

Finn Holmes the tracker, who collected her a month ago, arrives to take Wendy back to her biological mom Queen Elora. The monarch sends tracker Duncan Janssen to retrieve the runaway princess. Finn and Duncan leave without Wendy. Matt and Rhys scream just before Kyra and Loki of the Vittra kidnap her. She, Matt and Rhys are transported to Ondarike the Vittra stronghold. She soon learns why the Vittra interest in her rivals that of the Trylle.

The second Trylle fantasy (see Switched) is a superb young adult thriller starring a wonderful confused teenager with parental issues that makes Oedipus appear normal. Filled with spins and one great twist, fans will relish the further misadventures of the royal troll changeling as she begins to understand her “mother” was right calling her a monster as she knows you can’t go home when you don’t know which home is yours.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Immobility-Brian Evenson


Brian Evenson

Tor, Apr 10 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765330963

Detective Josef Horkai was the best at dealing with lethal situations that other cops would fear involvement; his greatness was handling the worst, but executing with minimal collateral damage. However that was who he was before the -Kollaps.

Horkai awakens from a coma but suffers from amnesia although he recalls the Kollaps. He becomes aware that he is dying while people nearby assume he remains in a frozen animated state. His legs no longer work and his arms are as useless while he lost his teeth, hair and time nor any idea what is killing him or why he was kept on ice.

A stranger insists he is Horkai’s friend and demands full thawing as he needs the former cop’s investigative skills. His assignment is to retrieve a stolen cylinder before a catastrophic matching that of the Kollaps occurs. He distrusts his self-proclaimed buddy and the information is nebulous. While his body is a complete failure, if he decides he wants to live albeit frozen, he must accomplish the mission immediately as time has run out on Horkai even before he thawed.

This grim ultra-dark Kafka like thriller hooks the reader from the start as Horkai slowly awakens to his condition and the horror of what has passed while he was sleeping. The severe landscape establishes a hopeless backdrop as Horkai struggles to adapt to this horrific new world being an inexperienced paraplegic whose memories are fleeting at best. Fans will fully appreciate his descent into total darkness while pondering whether the protagonist suffers from an unending nightmare or is this really happening to him; to Horkai it does not matter whether it is a bad dream or not, as this is his realism.

Harriet Klausner

Assassin’s Code-Jonathan Maberry

Assassin’s Code

Jonathan Maberry

Pocket, Apr 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780312552206

Stealthily entering a top security Iranian prison, U.S. Department of Military Sciences Captain Joe Ledger and his Echo Team liberated three young Americans hikers taken by an Iranian patrol that crossed the border into Iraq last year. The mission is not finished as his team still must take the trio from Teheran through deadly terrain to Kuwait City. Joe waits in the Islamic Republic of Iran capital for further orders.

At the Starbox Coffee, Joe receives a call from a woman while two red dots appear on his chest. While she gives the hook as a stand-up comic, she gives him instructions to follow. Once done, he drinks coffee at Starbox waiting until Jalil Rasoli of the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of Islamic Republic of Iran arrives. Jalil explains he needs the help of Joe and his team to prevent mass destruction devastating the Middle East. The Iranian assigns assassin Violin is to accompany Joe and Echo Team as they hunt for six stolen nuclear bombs planted in various regional oil fields by traitorous genius Hugo Vox and his super team.

This is an exhilarating over the top of the Burj Khalifa building paranormal thriller with Joe quips while facing danger against genetically-engineered mass murderers and that adds a noir feel to the mix. The storyline is fast-paced and loaded with action from the fist coffee cup to the last and contains a stunning twist involving Joe and the Book of Shadows. Fans will enjoy the Ledger horror thriller (see The King of Plagues, The Dragon Factory and Patient Zero) as John Maberry keeps the caffeine-adrenalin tropospheric.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 13, 2012

Body, Inc-Alan Dean Foster

Body, Inc.

Alan Dean Foster

Del Rey, Mar 27 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780345511997

Scientist Dr. Ingrid Seastrom seeks to understand the enigma of quantum-entangled nanoscale implants. Whispr the thief has found a silver data-storage thread that he believes will make him rich and he hopes wins the heart of Ingrid though he fears she rejects his extremely emaciated body made paper thin by nano modifications. They travel from Namerica to Africa to locate the maker of the thread and to flee deadly pursuers who want the gizmo.

Assassins chase them, but they reach their destination the South African Economic Combine (SAEC better known as SICK), which appears to have answers to their questions. However, SICK’s response to the Namerica visitors is to dispatch their deadliest operative Napun Molé to kill the intruders before they get smart on what is happening. Genetically enhanced to be an army of one, Molé obsesses over then as he failed to kill them when first sent to Namerica South, which leaves a blight on his assassination scorecard. They must be tortured for their gall of surviving his initial assault before he murders them.

The second Tipping Point futuristic industrial espionage science fiction satire is a fast-paced chaotic thriller that is fun to read, but lacks the freshness of The Human Blend even with new locations and novel modified human killing machines. Still the action is catchy as fans will enjoy traversing the world of Alan dean Foster with Dr. Ingrid and Whisper as their guides.

Harriet Klausner

Goddess Interrupted-Aimee Carter

Goddess Interrupted

Aimee Carter

Harlequin Teen, Mar 27 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210459

Kate Winters barely survived the seven tests the Council made her endure to prove her worthiness. However, she passed gaining immortality as the soon to be crowned Queen of the Underworld and marriage to her beloved Henry. They have a trusting arrangement in which she spends the wintry months with Henry in Eden and the summer doing her thing.

However, Kate feels isolated from her beloved who appears aloof rather than loving her on her return to his side. During her coronation, an epiphany hits Kate that Henry does not love her; he marries her out of a sense of duty. Before she can respond yes to wedding him anyway as hope is eternal, Titans crash the ceremony. Gods fear the Titans who created them and can kill them. Calliope most likely arranged for the awakening of King Cronus who has kidnapped her Henry. Kate needs help to rescue her beloved from the dungeons inside the Gates of Cronus; which means turning to her deadliest rival, Henry's first wife, Persephone.

The sequel to The Goddess test is an exciting fantasy starring an intrepid heroine who risks her immortality to save her beloved. The storyline is fast-paced yet readers obtain an intriguing look at the Underworld. Besides thoroughly entertaining, Goddess Interrupted encourages the young adult audience to read the Greek mythological classics (not just the terrific movies) as Aimee Carter spins a wonderful modernization.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Abaddon Rising-Lawrence Miller

Abaddon Rising

Lawrence Miller

Blue Mesa Books, Sept 30 2011,

ISBN: 978-0983943501

National News Cable Network reporter Nick Strong is about to expose on his show The Hard Truth that a mysterious person Abaddon is behind the recent officially declared accidental deaths of at least four global financiers. Nick opens up with his teaser of what is to come after the commercial. Instead he becomes the news when he dies during the two minute break.

Retired National Counterterrorism Center agent Adam Dekker investigates the Strong allegations. The clues take him from New York to Europe while operatives of Abaddon’s shadowy cell try to kill Dekker whose former Army Ranger experience keeps him alive. As he begins to connect the dots, Dekker concludes that Abaddon’s thirst for world domination was set in motion centuries ago and traverses a supernatural energy plane that the ex-soldier does not fully comprehend. Still Dekker remains steadfast as the countdown to pandemic catastrophe closes in with the Mayan prediction as the doomsday date. Finally Dekker tracks his foe to the Black Forest; knowing a horde awaits his arrival.

This is an entertaining fast-paced thriller that grips readers with the abrupt death of the TV journalist and never slows down as the audience anticipates the confrontation in Germany. The storyline is clever as the paranormal and the Mayan prophecy merge with the international financial and political meltdown. Over the top of The Feldberg, fans will relish this superb good and avarice action thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Black Howl-Christina Henry

Black Howl

Christina Henry

Ace, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007331

Agent of Death Maddie Black escorts the souls of the dead to the afterlife. As long as she deals with the deceased, her life is pretty good in spite of her vocation. When she gets involved with the living, being a dead transporter is a respite.

However a weird phenomenon has gripped Chicago when people not scheduled to die yet suddenly pass away. Complicating matters these recently dearly departed refuse to move on as they wander the streets as dispirited spirits. Maddie knows if the dead fail to move on, her job becomes obsolete. She investigates the screaming dead; while she also searches for the abducted werewolf pack leader and their cubs, and get untangled from the convoluted politics of the underworld. Even with various species wanting to transport her in pieces to the afterlife, Maddie finds work heavenly compared to dealing with her thrall Gabriel, her rival J.B. and her ex Nathaniel is out of the picture--or so she thinks

The third Black Wings (see Black Night and Black Wings) urban fantasy is an engaging paranormal mystery with the heroine dealing with two investigations and playing dodgeball with the Fae and the males in her life. The storyline is fast-paced, but the ending feels more like a middle book set up rather than a strong climax. Still fans will enjoy Maddie’s efforts as a ghostbuster trying to insure the streets of Chicago are for the breathers.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nightingale-David Farland


David Farland

East India Press, Mar 27 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781614757870

In North Carolina, Sommer Bastion flees from the safe house with dogs in pursuit. Adel Todestall, head of security for Lucius Chenzhenko catches her. He accuses her of theft of the child she carried in her womb for eleven months; as part of her years as Lucius incarcerated guest. She has no idea of whom he is talking about, but her gut says find the child to save herself and her sisters.

Over the next few years in Alpine, Utah Bron Jones lives with brutal Melvina Stillman who sees him as a commodity to get a check from the state and as labor. His foster mother accuses Bron of stealing nine peaches and the sucking out the joy of her home. His caseworker James Bell immediately places Bron in the home in Tuachan of teacher Olivia Hernandez and her husband. She is the polar opposite of the abusive Melvina as she treats Bron kindly while he waits for her “true colors” to surface. Instead, Olivia knows wants to adopt Bron though she knows he is a Nightingale, which places her in danger. Her premonition soon proves accurate as danger comes calling.

Readers will be hooked with the twin mysteries of Sommer and Bron as David Farland provides a suspense twisting young adult fantasy. Fast-paced with a strong support cast and a powerful lead with a bulls-eye on his chest, fans appreciate Bron’s opening act while anxiously awaiting the second tale as this one ends in a stunning cliffhanger.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

World Divided-Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere

World Divided

Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere

Baen, Feb 7 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451638011

The meta-humans of Echo and CCCP managed to halt the blitzkrieg Invasion by the Nazis in spite of the seemingly superior ultra-powerful weaponry of the invaders. Both sides know they have no time for respite as the Nazis robotic war machine was created by the Thule Society. Echo chief Alex Telsa, though severely injured from the recent hostilities, knows his team hopefully allied with CCCP must take the war to the real enemy.

Romance writer Victoria Victrix Nagy struggles still with her anxiety attacks. However, a techno-mage, she figures out how she can enter any computer network. Alex assigns Bulwark's unit to beta test Vic’s concept. Red Djinni rejects the proof of principle but rescues Vic from an ambush from an interested multibillionaire third party planning to defeat Echo and its allies the Thule. Meanwhile Bulwark’s unit and Vic escape; Alex declares Operation Overwatch a success while some remain skeptical.

Action in the second Secret World Chronicle is a bit muted compared with Invasion as much of the hostility is from within rather than the Nazi/Thule threat. Once again the key is the superhuman are filled with flaws that reduce their super quality while making them more human. The enjoyable storyline emphasizes the shaky political bedfellows who make for a World Divided at a time when unity is needed.

Harriet Klausner

World Divided-Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere

World Divided

Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere

Baen, Feb 7 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451638011

The meta-humans of Echo and CCCP managed to halt the blitzkrieg Invasion by the Nazis in spite of the seemingly superior ultra-powerful weaponry of the invaders. Both sides know they have no time for respite as the Nazis robotic war machine was created by the Thule Society. Echo chief Alex Telsa, though severely injured from the recent hostilities, knows his team hopefully allied with CCCP must take the war to the real enemy.

Romance writer Victoria Victrix Nagy struggles still with her anxiety attacks. However, a techno-mage, she figures out how she can enter any computer network. Alex assigns Bulwark's unit to beta test Vic’s concept. Red Djinni rejects the proof of principle but rescues Vic from an ambush from an interested multibillionaire third party planning to defeat Echo and its allies the Thule. Meanwhile Bulwark’s unit and Vic escape; Alex declares Operation Overwatch a success while some remain skeptical.

Action in the second Secret World Chronicle is a bit muted compared with Invasion as much of the hostility is from within rather than the Nazi/Thule threat. Once again the key is the superhuman are filled with flaws that reduce their super quality while making them more human. The enjoyable storyline emphasizes the shaky political bedfellows who make for a World Divided at a time when unity is needed.

Harriet Klausner

Guardian of the Night-Tony Daniel

Guardian of the Night

Tony Daniel

Baen, Feb 7 2012, $13.00

ISBN: 9781451638028

In 2075 for two months the USX Chief Seattle tracks a Sceeve ship the Power of Heaven. As the SIGINT, Petty Officer Second Class Melinda Japps monitors the enigmatic enemy odor broadcasts of the “Poet” and sends recordings and reports back to headquarters. Japps figures out how to convert the encoded smells into lights. From there she interprets the pattern in which the Poet is pleading with the humans for help while Power of Heaven political officer Transel seeks the traitor.

Captain Sub-receptor Arid Ricimer commands the Guardian of Night. He grieves the deaths of his beloved family killed by his side. An honorable officer who fought bravely with the kinetic energy weapons that devastated the earth, Ricimer decides enough treachery from those in his supposed side’s comfort zone. He chooses to defect with his ship, crew and a weapon of mass destruction. His former Sceeve fleet mates pursue him with orders to kill while the former enemy navy and civilian leaders consider him and his ship as a Trojan Horse needing to be eliminated. Only Japps thinks otherwise.

This is an exciting extremely complex (thank Mr. Daniels for a needed glossary) futuristic science fiction military-political thriller. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Japps begins to translate the Poet’s odor language and never slows down until a final confrontation. Filled with political intrigue on both sides and mindful of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, fans will enjoy the challenges to earth and Sceeve by the Guardian of Night.

Harriet Klausner

Dire Needs-Stephanie Tyler

Dire Needs

Stephanie Tyler

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236234

Medical resident Dr. Gwen Kadlin knows she is dying from her unexplained seizures. With nothing to lose, Gwen seeks passionate lovemaking before she is unable to have sex. She goes to the unsafe Were biker bar where she plans to hook up with a dangerous hunk.

Rifter leads the six remaining immortal Dire wolves whose mission is assigned by the enigmatic Elders to protect humans. However, they and the Weres are in mortal combat with human Weretrappers, who seek to capture and experiment on them. Rifter is shocked when Gwen enters the bar; as she is out of place here and his inner wolf wants her. They begin to make love when a seizure hammers Gwen, which makes Rifter sense shapeshifting is involved. However when his Gwen becomes the target of the enemy, Rifter vows to keep her safe but also wonders if the threat is because of her connection to him or something else.

Tyler moves from romantic suspense (Night Moves) into paranormal romance with the derivative first Eternal Wolf Clan book. Rifter must sort out a deadly plot involving rogues, witches, black magic, and weretrappers while grappling with his unlikely longing for Gwen.

The first Eternal Wolf Clan romantic urban fantasy is a fast-paced tale from the moment the “strangers in the night exchanging glances wondering in the night what were the chances (they'd) be sharing love” (Frank Sinatra) and never slows down until the final altercation. Although the overarching combat premise to protect humans has been used frequently (see The Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy), sub-genre fans will enjoy this engaging suspense laden thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fair Game-Patricia Briggs

Fair Game

Patricia Briggs

Ace, Mar 6 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780441020034

North American werewolf leader Bran Cornick brought his race out of hiding. However, he also understood by doing this, his pack needed stricter enforcement so as to avoid negative publicity of being out of control murderous beasts. His son Charles the alpha is his prime enforcer. However, execution of his kind (even murderers and being sanctioned by his dad) has disturbed Charles. Only his mate omega Anna Latham calms his raging demeanor (See "Alpha and Omega" in On the Prowl anthology for how they met). Recently he has rejected her.

The FBI asks for assistance with a serial killer case in Boston. Charles and Anna arrive in town and look at the evidence. Both realize that most of the victims were either fae or werewolves. An abduction has the werewolf couple and a law enforcement task force on a massive predatory hunt to prevent another homicide.

The latest super Alpha and Omega investigative urban fantasy (see Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground) is a fantastic thriller that plays out on two levels. First there is the paranormal police procedural as a hunt reminiscent of the Fritz Lang classic movie M occurs. Second there is the personal issue between the Alpha and the Omega as she refuses to allow him to stonewall her while he feels she deserves better since he is losing his mind to guilt and remorse. Overarching remains the X-Men theme of de facto and perhaps de jure racism. This is another winner by the fabulous fantasist Patricia Briggs.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Technologists-Matthew Pearl

The Technologists

Matthew Pearl

Random House, Feb 21 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781400066575

In 1868 Boston, recently established Massachusetts Institute of Technology sets its missions as using science to benefit mankind and accept any student who meets the difficult entrance criteria. As the first class of fifteen will soon graduate, in the harbor, ships collide when their instruments spin out of control while an unusual deep fog blankets the area. In the city center, glass liquefies leaving mass deaths and horrific injuries to those working in the business district.

The city police are baffled with the events, which may not even be criminal as it could be Mother Nature reacting to technology. They ask Harvard for help. Meanwhile MIT charity scholar student Marcus Mansfield and his friends (Beacon Hill Brahmin Robert Richards, genius Edwin Hoyt, and lone female Ellen Swallow) form a secret club to investigate the seemingly inexplicable tragedies using the scientific method.

Using real history anchored by the upstart insane MIT Today and an anti-technology fervor; fans obtain a strong Post Civil War alternate history thriller. The storyline showcases the beginning of the age of science and technology in which many groups prefer the status quo and oppose such concepts as Darwinism, chemistry teaching, and other innovations that we take for granted (or do we with challenges to Darwinism by supporters of Creationism as a science instead of a belief). Although perspective changes too frequently even if that adds depth to looking at 1868, the heroes are brave and amusing with Swallow being a real MIT student (and environmental scientist) as they set out to save Boston from natural or man-made disasters.

Harriet Klausner

The Half-Breed Vampire-Theresa Meyers

The Half-Breed Vampire

Theresa Meyers

Harlequin Nocturne, Feb 21 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618798

In the Cascade Mountains, wolves attack hybrid vampire Slade Donovan. Game Warden Raina Ravenwing rescues him from a pack of werewolves; killing one of them. She explains she hunts this pack for abducting Robbie two weeks ago with a plan to transform the teen. He agrees to help her complete her mission because it coincides with what he is doing for the Cascade Vampire Clan who took him off the streets of Seattle.

Raina knows her instant attraction to her new teammate comes at a bad time as the task must come before her need. He feels the same though he also knows he offers nothing, not even his heritage to Raina. Complicating their pursuit, the rogue pack leader knows the officer is his mate.

The third Sons of Midnight Cascade Vampire Clan romantic urban fantasy (see The Truth About Vampires and The vampire Who Loved Me) is a fresh tale with terrific twists including what the hero is. The storyline is fast-paced from the onset as the rogues prove to have unique power that places Slade and the other vampire security members in peril for their lives and Raina as the intended soul mate of the evil Bracken. Theresa Meyers provides a great thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Forever Claimed-Rachel Lee

Forever Claimed

Rachel Lee

Harlequin Nocturne, Feb 21 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618781

Vampire Luc St. Just has not been the same since his claimed mate Natasha died. Some of his kind insists he is insane and he would agree. However, his friend Messenger Investigations, Inc. private investigator Jude Messenger (see Claim The Night) thinks otherwise and has been there for Luc as he grieves his loss and thirsts for vengeance against rogue vampires.

He intrudes when four rogues leave a woman near death. Luc takes her with him, but is stunned when Dani Makar rapidly heals with no need of medical assistance. Dani fears the vampire as the natural enemy of werewolves, even one who cannot shift; but Luc acts differently towards her than what she always believed to be true about the bloodsuckers. As they fall in taboo love, the star-crossed pair must persuade their respective “clans” that each are trusted good guys, which goes against the natural order of life; while the evil rogues stalk Dani to finish the job and Jude for interfering.

The third Claimed Messenger romantic urban fantasy is a fabulous paranormal starring two courageous souls in forbidden love. Dani’s deep rooted instinctive and learned racism against the vampire species enhances a delightful thriller as evil stalks the duet who may find themselves with no allies due to the “unnatural” alliance between vamps and shifters. This is great work by a top gun author.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Now Or Never-Michele Bardsley

Now Or Never

Michele Bardsley

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236241

Nevermore, Texas contains a population under a thousand residents that includes humans, witches and wizards. Lately Town sheriff Taylor Mooreland has been troubled by recent visions of the sacrifice of a woman. In the woods, he is shocked when he locates the female who has haunted him tied to a concealed altar. He does not need an oracle to know trouble has arrived in Nevermore as he frees the feisty raging Lenore “Norie” Whyte.

She thanks the sheriff, but knows the Black Robes, who kidnapped, drugged and tortured her, need her. She is the chosen one for their sacrifice; no substitute will do. To keep the woman he rescued safe and prevent a maniacal magical maelstrom, Taylor and his allies need to learn why the enemy willingly sacrifices their members in an obsession to recapture Norie because It’s Now or Never for the townsfolk.

The second wizards of Nevermore Texas romantic small-town fantasy (see Never Again) is an excellent thriller as the ethical sheriff and the target make a great pairing. Some of the locals want to give Norie back to the Black Robes as they feel that is the safest easiest way to prevent a dangerous magical war; others call that appeasement, which will stop the combat. Fans will enjoy this exhilarating tale as the crosshairs are on a beleaguered waif though neither she, the sheriff who loves her or other residents of Nevermore know why her.

Harriet Klausner

Dying Wish-Shannon K. Butcher

Dying Wish

Shannon K. Butcher

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236050

Jackie Patton desperately wants to return to the life she had before the Synestryn captured and tortured her for the past two years. However, Jackie “blue’ knows she will never live that carefree life ever again. Besides the impact of the ordeal on her mind and the knowledge her vile kidnappers stalk her; she feels a debt of gratitude to her rescuers, Theronai warriors. To make some remittance, Jackie believes she should mate with one of them as that will save the life of her chosen partner; though she hopes temporary is enough.

Jackie stuns everyone when she selects tundra cold Iain. He rejects her offer as he insists his soul already died when the Synestryn killed his betrothed. She ignores his rejection as he is the one. However, although both refuse to accept no, they team up to try to prevent the insidious enemy from abducting the recently liberated children a second time.

The latest, as always, great Sentinel Wars romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Hunt) is a superb paranormal suspense. The story line is action-packed from the moment Jackie chooses and never slows down until the final confrontation. Readers will appreciate this exciting thriller as two courageous opposites, ethically uber-optimistic Jackie and morally ultra-pessimistic Iain must choose.

Harriet Klausner

Eventide-Elle Jasper


Elle Jasper

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236258

Savannah tattoo artist Riley Poe the demon hunter (see Afterlight) still struggles with the vampiric bite (see Everdark) that has changed her. She fears the worst will happen to her as her humanity seems to be slipping away. Her lover Eli Dupre the vampire also is concerned about the changes in the soul of his Riley. Strigoi Victorian Arcos suggests she travel to Romania to meet with the head vampire whose minion attacked her.

Though concerned about her entering the evil lair, Eli agrees with Victorian’s assessment and escorts his beloved to Eastern Europe. There she will confront what is destroying her from within or die soulless, but to survive she must depend on Eli; a need she loathes as she prefers her independence than reliance on another person.

The final Dark Ink Chronicles urban fantasy is a great finish that will elates fans of this super saga. The Jasper universe is fully developed so that the audience believes in vampires, demons and hunters residing by the neurologically typical. The lead couple is at their best, but this is Riley’s show as readers will wonder whether Eventide is nevermore.

Harriet Klausner

Fury of Fire-Coreene Callahan

Fury of Fire

Coreene Callahan

Montlake Romance, Feb 7 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182728

In Washington State, the hybrid dragon-human species are divided into two opposing groups. The Nightfuries vows to protect humanity with their lives; while the Razorbacks led by Ivar the scientist believe that the half dragon species should be at the top of the food chain vowing to destroy mankind. Hostility between the dragon shifter species is extremely high.

Bastien, head of the Nightfuries knows his duty as time runs short with the Meridian's axis realignment in five days. He must mate with a human female in order to promulgate the first of the next generation males. However, Bastien knows his woman will die in childbirth.

Nurse Myst Munroe grieves the death of her murdered mom while making a house call on her pregnant patient Caroline Van Owen. When she finds Caroline lying in blood, she gives first aid to save the lives of the mother and her unborn dragon child. Bastian and his top aide Rikar arrive as emergency medical workers just before agents of Razorbacks. A battle ensues over who claims the infant. Meanwhile Bastien knows Myst is the one, but realizes he is condemning her to a death sentence.

The first dragon shifter romantic urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller in which the Callahan mythos comes across as genuine with a refreshing concept of fostering the species. The storyline rotates perspective between the protagonists, Ivar, Riker and human police detective Angela Keen; this enhances the plot especially the fantasy elements but also takes some adjusting due to the volume of switching leads. Although Razorbacks will remind readers of vampires sucking energy not blood, readers will enjoy the seemingly bittersweet romance between Bastien and Myst.

Harriet Klausner

Soul Screamers-Rachel Vincent

Soul Screamers

Rachel Vincent

Harlequin Teen, Nov 22 2011, $8.99

ISBN: 9780373210602

My Soul To Lose. Dallas high school students Kaylee and Emma are at the mall shopping Suddenly Kaylee suffers a panic attack. Emma helps her calm down until Kaylee sees the shadows engulf a wheelchair bound boy. Hours later Kaylee awakens in a psychiatric ward where she cringes at the shadows surrounding another patient. Kaylee begins to recover until the scream surfaces; however Lydia of the green eyes calms her down.

My Soul To Take. Underage Kaylee sneaks into the Taboo Club where she dances with Eastlake High School hottie Nash. She senses someone is about to die and when that happens she has a deep need to scream. Nash calms her and explains that banshees like her must scream when someone is about to die. They begin dating but the pair has to stop a serial killer focused on Eastlake High School.

My Soul To Save. Teen pop star Eden dies on stage, but Kaylee, who was at the concert with Nash, fails to wail at death, she knows the idol traded her soul for fame. In spite of the fact her dad will kill her for cutting class and violating curfew, Kaylee risks her life and soul to prevent other teens from bartering theirs for a short life span of fame in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld.

This entertaining reprint of the prequel novella and the first two novels in the Soul Screamer teenage fantasy is a fine collection. The opening act introduces Kaylee with her instinctively need to wail; the other entries follow her struggling adjustment to control the urge with mentoring help by Nash’s mom while history and trig wait for no student even a banshee.

Harriet Klausner

On A Dark Wing-Jordan Dane

On A Dark Wing

Jordan Dane

Harlequin Teen, Dec 20 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210411

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler missed the school bus that takes her home. Her mom picked her up, but died in a car crash in which her daughter escaped death thanks to an ephemeral boy of the clouds taking her hand. She remains haunted by survivor guilt compounding her belief she caused her mother’s demise.

Unable to move on pass the tragedy, Abbey has only one friend, Tanner Lange, paralyzed from the waist down since a childhood accident. Abbey is attracted to Nate Holden, who does not know she exists though she knows everything about him. He is joining his father and others on a climb of Denali. However, when Abbey begins seeing the Angel of Death’s ravens, she knows the grim reaper is back in her life; her fear is Nate is the target. She wants to go to her crush but her dad insists they go on their annual pilgrimage to her mom. .

This is an exciting teen paranormal thriller that rotates perspective between Abbey and on Denali. The storyline focuses on death, guilt and redemption. Abbey is a wonderful protagonist who keeps the stirring tale focused though her actions with Nate seem off kilter; first as a stalker and later when he arrives at the remote cabin where she and her dad retreated to pay homage to their late loved one. In some ways Tanner steals the show with his freshness while the heroine’s first kiss is a stunner. Fans will enjoy Abbey’s efforts to come to grips with death.

Harriet Klausner