Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Age of Miracles-Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker

Random House, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780812992977

Only the night owls realized that something had changed; most people were ignorant. On the sixth of October, a scientist states that the earth is “slowing”. Many panicked seeking a haven, but the Slowing impacts the planet so there is no place run to.

In California, Julia, her dad and BFF Hanna ignore the rants of her mom that something hellacious has occurred. Instead the two girls go outside to look around, but everything seems normal. However, all will soon understand why hell has come to earth as the earth’s rotation continues to slow down impacting the size of a day and adversely affecting the environment. Julia has enough social issues with her parents’ constant bickering, her seemingly unrequited first love and her grandfather’s senile behavior without worrying about the new norm of the Slowing.

With a nod to The Twilight Zone’s "The Midnight Sun", The Age of Miracles is an exhilarating apocalyptic thriller. The storyline is fast-paced and Julia is a precocious narrator whose struggles change from typical social fears to adapting to a changing world in which she has either a bleak or no future. Although the cause for the Slowing is not provided, this coming of age tale is an insightful look at how people especially those within a couple of degrees of Julia react to the final countdown.

Harriet Klausner

Tin Swift-Devon Monk

Tin Swift

Devon Monk

Roc, Jul 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451464538

Cursed hunter Cedar Hunt leads a band of travelers across Oregon. Their destination is Kansas where the ailing widow witch Mae Lindson may regain control of her mind with the help of her former coven. Also in the party are dead shot Rose Small, the three mining lunatic Madder brothers and Cedar’s sibling Wil the wolf. The Madder kin expect Cedar to find the Holder powerful weapon that he can sense.

The weary travelers reach Vicinity, Oregon where they find everyone eerily dead and Cedar senses that the evil Strange Mr. Shunt who he thought died in Hallelujah (see Dead Iron) killed the townsfolk. Rose insists they bury everyone, but the deceased begin to rise. A trap Rose and Cedar spring propels a piece of tin into her shoulder leaving her severely hurt. Captain Hink leads the Swift glim “mining” ship to explore Vicinity as he has heard odd rumors. He and his loyal crew rescue Cedar, Wil and the two females while the Madder threesome tells them they will catch up to them soon. As General Saint sends airships to destroy Hink for betraying his plans to become a dictator, Mr. Shunt offers him a deal he cannot refuse.

The second Age of Steam super old western fantasy is an exhilarating adventure thriller that grips the audience from the moment the magnificent seven enter Vicinity and never slows down as the good confronts the bad and the ugly. The Monk realm keeps the scientific babble to a minimum as the author makes her mythos feel real from the cursed to the reanimated dead. Fans will want to soar with the crew of the Swift as they struggle to survive the pact made by two evil essences.

Harriet Klausner

The Long Earth-Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Harper, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062067753

The Stepping process has enabled mankind to cross into a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths. None of these alternate earths contain human life while the farther you journey from the earth the weirder the planets become. Very few people have the ability to Step out without assistance; those who can are in demand.

“Gold” fever has foolish people greedily Stepping out; many to their deaths. Meanwhile the TransEarth Institute hires one of those with the rare skill Joshua Valiente, accompanied by Lobsang the AI who insists that in a previous life he was a Tibetan, to steer an airship across the endless Long Earth in order to explore the unknown for economic potential.

This is a fascinating science fiction tale that readers will enjoy though in many ways it reads like a series of anecdotal events. The side effects of Stepping grips the audience as the rules of survival become known by early explorers (and readers) and quick visits to a series of worlds by the protagonists begin to shape what is out there. Though the premise is intriguing and the storyline entertaining, The Long Earth would have been better as a series of short stories starring the early explorers not always surviving their visits to multiple earths.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sky Dragons-Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey

Sky Dragons

Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey

Del Rey, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345500915

The plague killed many dragons leaving Pern vulnerable to the deadly Thread more than ever before. Dragonriders led by Xhinna and her blue dragon Tazith fight the Merows and tunnel-snakes for control of an isolated island. However, females never ride blue dragons and never become a Weyrleader. Thus a gender pioneer, Xhinna must overcome sexism by proving her worth in combat as a leader and subsequently gain the support of the reluctant other dragonriders.

Jirana has the skill to foresee multiple possible futures. She vows to help Xhinna at a time when the colony is in trouble with the future lying in the past.

The final Dragonriders of Pern (see Dragon’s Time) is an exciting climax to an enjoyable saga that pays homage to the late Anne McCaffrey. The start of the storyline sends readers on to the island without explanation as to how the dragonriders ended up here; readers need patience as the mystery is cleared up much later with a satisfactory rationale interwoven within Xhinna’s growing desperation. Although the plot contains that déjà vu sense of pending Thread doom, Pern fans will want to dragon ride led by team McCaffrey.

Harriet Klausner

The Sweetest Dark-Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark

Shana Abe

Bantam, Aug 21 2012, $16.00


In 1909 a mute ten years old girl wanders lost on the London streets until she is sent to the Blisshaven Foundling Home. They call her Eleanore Jones. She begins to speak with a command and accent of the King’s English instead of a guttersnipe; but suffers amnesia and hears voices including songs from objects and inside her head that no one else hears.

In 1915 Eleanore attends the Iversion School for Girls as a rare scholarship student amidst the affluent. At the station she meets obnoxious Chloe and her boyfriend the duke’s son Armand. Taken to Iverson Castle by Jesse the assistant groundskeeper, headmistress Mrs. Westcliffe warns her to behave. The duke invites her for tea. The manor house looks like a madman designed it while the duke seems ill and haunted especially when he looks at Eleanore. Unable to sleep that night due to the thunder, Eleanore breaks curfew to run in the woods. She finds Jesse’s cottage. He explains to her who they are before kissing her. Armand likes spending time with Eleanore while Jesse wants her too but believes she is still too young. The trio learns what the duke plans for the castle leaving it to them to prevent his insane plot.

This is a strong and spellbinding young adult historical fantasy as the deft metamorphosis of the heroine makes the fantasy elements seem real. The WWI on the home front at an aristocratic school and the institutions the heroine was sent to live at anchor time and place. Although the storyline is slow as the emphasis is on developing the characters so they appear genuine, readers will want to find out the mystery of Eleanore.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chase Me-Tamara Hogan

Chase Me

Tamara Hogan

Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402246043

Several centuries have passed since the vessel containing paranormal aliens crashed in the northern Minnesota woods. The survivors understood they were not leaving any time soon if ever so they agreed to remain hidden amongst the human population. As such they form the Underworld Council to oversee their behavior.

In the present, Valkyrie Lorin Schlessinger heads an archeological expedition of student volunteers in search of the now mythical ship; while werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky leads the on-site excavation. Lorin and Gabe are attracted to one another, but their dig triggers a beacon that attracts an off-world vampire to this remote meaningless planet as the creature knows this rock contains some valuable treasure that he will plunder regardless of the cost to the ignorant innocent. While the Underworld Council members ponder about punishing the expedition members, Lorin and Gabe confront the evil treasure hunter.

The sequel to Taste Me is a terrific jocular romantic urban fantasy with a wonderful satirical spin; summed up nicely by Carl Sagan as the Emeritus member of the Underground Council. The storyline rotates perspective from the assertive in your face Valkyrie chasing after the reticent werewolf to the student escapades to the Council behaving like Congress doing nothing that matters to the malevolent vampire. Fans will relish this fine tale as we await the paranormal confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Orb Sceptre Throne-Ian C. Esslemont

Orb Sceptre Throne

Ian C. Esslemont

Tor, May 22 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780765329998

Darujhistan lies on a dry plain in the southern region of the Genabackis continent. Many people believe that the arid land outside the city contains hidden treasure for those bold (or perhaps foolish) enough to look.

The Scholar Ebbin is conducting research into the legendary Imperial Age of Darujhistan, seeking proof of his hypothesis amidst the barren wasteland. At the same time the Darujhistani leaders ingeniously influence hostilities between their nearby neighbors, the Moranth and Seguleh. While the Darujhistan rulers deploy their devious ruse, Ebbin finds an artifact that could shake the balance of power still somewhat teetering after the Malazan failed invasion. Others bloodily also seek the Moon Spawn’s treasures while the Queen of Dreams’ ancient prophecy has begun to Claw its way into existence.

The latest Ian C. Esslemont’s Malazan Empire entry (see Stonewielder and The Return of the Crimson Guard) is an exciting fantasy with several subplots (besides those described above) that eventually merge together into an exhilarating but somewhat convoluted climax. With a sold cast, readers of the saga including fans of Steve Erickson will appreciate Orb Sceptre Throne; while newcomers will be lost in the Genabackis even with maps of the southern portion of the landmass (but lacking where events occur elsewhere on the continent) and Darujhistan.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Broken Universe-Paul Melko

Broken Universe

Paul Melko

Tor, Jun 5 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780765329141

John Rayburn has come a long way since John Prime gave him the technology to cross into alternate realities (see The Walls of the Universe). With friends and their doppelgangers from among the Johns, Graces, Henrys, and Caseys, Rayburn builds a cross-realty corporation Pinball Wizards Transuniversal to trade products from one realm to another.

However the entrepreneur’s vision differs from many of his associates as he wants to improve mankind’s lot across the realities while others focus on the bottom line. He learned when he accidently invented “pinball”, literally cutthroat competitors will do anything to eliminate rivals and in his case also want his technology. The CEO anticipated the external deadly business adversaries especially from stranded cross-travelers, but John is unprepared for betrayal from within as he personally selected his team from among buddies. Forgetting one of the golden rules that of it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck it still may be a vulture capitalist from another reality. With friends like this he will not need to worry about enemies and then there is a need for investment money so he turns to venture capitalist John Prime, who beat a murder rap.

The second Rayburn parallel universe science fiction thriller is an exciting tale as the hero learns some hard, potentially deadly, lessons about life across the realities. The storyline is fast-paced with a satirical look at global capitalism; where there is apparently no room for an idealist amidst a multi Broken Universe of bottom feeding leeches.

Harriet Klausner

His Dark Embrace-Amanda Ashley

His Dark Embrace

Amanda Ashley

Zebra, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420121339

After leaving home for college eight years ago, Skylynn McNamara O’Brien never came back until now as she returns for her grandfather’s funeral. As a teen she had a crush on the next door neighbor, the mysterious recluse Kaiden Thorne, who only came out at night to collect his mail and paper. Her older brother said he was a vampire, but her Granda told her there is not such creature.

She is shocked when she sees him for the first since he left home as he has not aged one iota in the eight years since she last saw him and as she muses from when she first saw him when she was five. One other thing that has not changed is Skylynn still thinks Kaiden is an ultra-hunk. Kaiden realizes Skylynn has aroused his bloodlust that he struggles to control. One biting bloody kiss later, both are in the heat of desire. However, she can either save him from the darkness or allow him to drown in the darkness.

His Dark Embrace is a warm engaging romantic urban fantasy starring two enticing protagonists. The fast-paced simplistic storyline grips the reader when the lead couple sees each other for the first time in almost a decade; their attraction could heat up New England for a winter or two. Fans who enjoy a straight forward vampire romance will appreciate Amanda Ashley’s ardent page-turner.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Janus Affair-Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

The Janus Affair

Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Harper Voyager, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062049780

On the hypersteam train, Lena cries out “Eliza, help me” just before she vanishes in a lightning flash. Eliza Braun saw the woman vanish and realized she was asking her to rescue her. A member of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Eliza is used to working oddities so with her partner archivist Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire plans to investigate and find the woman. Instead she is told to back down as field agent Bruce Campbell leads the inquiry.

Eliza learns that Lena is not the first suffragist to disappear into thin air. As such she vows to keep her visiting New Zealand friend Kate Sheppard safe over the objection of her superiors. As more suffragists vanish, someone assaults Eliza in her home and Books confronts visiting Douglas Sheppard as he wants him to leave Eliza alone in spite of her welcoming him. Soon the two MPO operatives realize nothing short of the Crown is in peril by someone who purposely placed pathetic Campbell in charge of the case.

The latest Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk fantasy (see Phoenix Rising) is a great thriller as they defy orders to confront a diabolical foe. Though the prime plot is thin but brilliant, fast paced from the opening Lady Vanishes, fans will enjoy the brain and the brawn as they once again set forth to save mighty England.

Harriet Klausner

Broken Illusions-Ellie James

Broken Illusions

Ellie James

St. Martin's Griffin, May 8 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312647032

In New Orleans five weeks before Carnival, sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour wants to spend time with her boyfriend Chase and works diligently at her new job at her Aunt Sara’s shop Fleurish!. However, another girl has vanished while Trinity sees a vision of an empty street except for severely run-down buildings and a corpse in nearby grass; someone also warns her to be wary as danger lurks nearby.

Though she would prefer to ignore the horrific images, Trinity believes she cannot as she is convinced the only way to cope with them is to learn why she sees them and hopefully that will end them. She begins her quest for knowledge by searching for the lost girl. Those who care about her worry about her; however not her aunt, her BFF, or her boyfriend join her on her mission. Only enigmatic Dylan Fourcade does while Detective LaSalle follows them hoping she leads him to the missing person.

The second Midnight Dragonfly middle school age paranormal thriller (see Shattered Dreams) is a wonderful entry with engaging, surprising but improbable twists. Trinity works on the mystery of her DNA, the missing girl, and the body in the grass while wondering how young love could be as convoluted as she cares for Chase and Dylan.

Harriett Klausner

Midnight Master-Donna Grant

Midnight Master

Donna Grant

St. Martin’s, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312552480

Rice University anthology Professor Gary Austin sends a cryptic message to his daughter Gwynn that has concerned for her widowed father. She flies to Scotland to insure he is all right though she is unsure where exactly he is. While driving west towards the isles, she receives a stunning call from Phil Manning of Rice who informs her Professor Austin resigned last month.

In 1603 Scotland, the Druids told warrior Logan Hamilton and his brothers in arms that they do not know where they will end up in time as they pursue the evil Deirdre and her minions to find her twin Ian who she took with her. Logan learns he is in 2012 Scotland and feels a need to head west to Isle of Eigg; one time home of the Druids once lived. Gwynn and Logan are attracted to one another from their first meeting. He believes she is a dormant Druid and offers to search for her dad while she offers to guide him through the twenty-first century.

The first Dark Warriors romantic urban fantasy is a great spin off from the fabulous Dark Sword saga. The fun in this engaging storyline is observing the bewildered lead couple as he struggles to adapt to modern conveniences taken for granted and she struggles to accept her awakening powers. Deidre adjusts much easier as evil adapts to any environs by not having any concerns for others. Donna Grant provides a wonderful fresh spin to her historical fantasy saga with the opening act of her medieval warriors arriving in the twenty-first century.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Redemption-Susannah Sandlin


Susannah Sandlin

Montlake Romance, Jun 12, 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9781612183541

The vaccine saved mankind, but left the vampire world reeling; as human blood instead of substance became toxic. Realizing only in remote rural areas will live the dwindling few without the vaccine, Aidan Murphy established Penton, Alabama as a place where vampires like him and untreated humans live together in peace; the humans voluntarily allow the vampires to drink some of their blood.

In New York City, Matthias Ludlam is irate that his son William resides in Penton; he demands the extraction of his offspring Will. Vampire Tribunal private investigator Roger Hobbs explains that William is blood-bonded to Aidan as is the Tribunal top Slayer Mirren Kincaid and over twenty five other vamps. Ludlam realizes Aidan could defeat the Tribunal. He offers Aidan’s estranged brother Owen a deal he cannot refuse because the alternative is execution. Owen arrives in Penton and attacks humans killing the only doctor. A desperate Aidan breaks a commandment and kidnaps Dr. Krystal Harris, an untreated human with no vampire experience. However both are stunned when they fall in love as he remembers vividly the deaths of his wife and child centuries ago and she loathes “abusive” alpha males like her dad.

This is a super romantic urban fantasy with a terrific backdrop. The action-packed story line is fast-paced from the moment Ludlam sends his operative to Alabama and never slows down until the Cain and Abel confrontation. Although Aidan’s anguish is overdone becoming a minor irritant, readers will relish the refreshing stunning Susannah Sandlin vampire mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Blackout-Mira Grant


Mira Grant

Orbit, May 22 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780316081078

In 2041, it has been almost three decades since the Rising of the dead began and a couple of years since CDC murdered news blogger Georgia Mason after the siblings uncovered a hellish conspiracy and cover-up. Her brother Shaun continues their investigative work at After the End Times with his sister’s ghost assisting him. However, his staff fears that the constant pressure of the job and his failure to move on in the grieving process has left Shaun teetering over the edge.

Georgia guides her sibling though the labs of mad scientists laboratory and past a horde of zombies not all who were formerly human. Then there is the Feds who obsess over corpses as they will do anything to keep the status quo especially burying scandals and plots even if their path dooms the United States.

The final Newsflesh post-apocalyptic urban fantasy (see Feed and Deadline) is a great climax to a wonderful trilogy. The story line is fast-paced as the key threads are resolved not all in a positive manner for the bloggers. Mira Grant closes out her futuristic America with hope in the darkness.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sevin-Elizabeth Amber


Elizabeth Amber

Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 24 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758241313

“Sevin.” In 1882 Rome, Lord Sevin Satyr builds Salone di Passione where he and his hybrid satyrs can enjoy sexual pleasures especially during the full moon ritual when their second lower head sprouts. Failure to release their sperm into a female means death. His half-brother Lucien accidentally takes Sevin and himself to the catacombs underneath the home of Alexa Patrizzi, whose family used Lucien for ages. When Sevin and Alexa meet, each is attracted to the other as his full moon Calling occurs.

“Lucien.” His uncontrollable magic took Lucien and Sevin to the latter’s bond mate, but also to a place he hates as he was a sex slave to the Patrizzi clan. Lucien’s wild magic sends the former to another realm. There he is trapped inside a statue in which only the touch by his destined one can free him. Lucien senses Natalia the healer is the one for him to liberate him from his physical and mental prison.

The latest Lords of the Satyr entry is an exciting erotic historical romantic fantasy that contains two entries within the Roman clan. Both tales are well written with the protagonists possessing different personalities. Fans will enjoy the entire Satyr saga as this generation (not so subtle hint to Elizabeth Amber) of Roman clan (see Bastian and Dane) and Tuscany clan (see Dominic, Nicholas, Lyon and Raine) comes to a fabulous end.

Harriet Klausner

Monster Hunter-Larry Correia

Monster Hunter

Larry Correia

Baen, May 29 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781451637847

“Monster Hunter International.” Owen Pitt wants the American dream, but instead got Monster Hunter International when his boss tried to bite off his head; in self-defense he pushed the miscreant out of a fourteenth floor story window. MHI offers scar faced Owen a position with their firm as monster eradicator. The Cursed One returns with an ancient vendetta to destroy the world. As time runs out on mankind, the rookie faces the Cursed One’s undead horde, feral Feds, a ghost sharing his skull, and his beloved’s cursed family without hazardous duty pay.

“Monster Hunter Vendetta.” Having deployed a bottom line solution to the Cursed One’s war, Pitt learns The Dread Overlord rages over what Owen arranged in his recent victory. The monster chieftain orders his supporters to bring him Mr. Pitt for special torture as saving humanity is an unacceptable defense. The Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition led by the Shadow Man stalks Owen as a perfect sacrifice to gain favor with the Old Ones.


“Monster Hunter Alpha.” MHI Chief Earl Harbinger conceals from his subordinates that he is a werewolf who dedicated his life to protect mankind just like his dad the greatest Hunter ever. Earl learns ruthless former KGB werewolf Nikolai killed a deputy sheriff in Copper Lake, Michigan. The MHI leader realizes that he and Stalin’s favorite agent must hunt each other until only one is left howling. However, Earl is ignorant of why his foe is in the Wolverine State.

The omnibus reprint of three MHI cases are entertaining satirical urban fantasies that deploys plenty of hyperbole to lampoon how society deals with “monsters”. Pitt makes a more fascinating lead than Harbinger, but still each entry is fun.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nightworld-F. Paul Wilson


F. Paul Wilson

Tor, May 22 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765321671

Glaeken has grown weak with age and too many battles over time and space against the ultimate evil Rasalom. Thus the malevolent being begins his latest assault by breaking the laws of physics when the sun’s path is altered and consequently reduces daylight hours around the world. The evil one also begins releasing his horde of monsters coming through gigantic bottomless sink holes like the one in Central Park. Glaeken knows he cannot confront his eternal adversary by himself. As riots and gang war further destroys the mortal population, Glaeken puts together a team of specialists starting with his apprentice Repairman Jack.

The quest starts in Monroe, Long island where Glaeken and Father Bill Ryan come to pick up Jeffrey a young child. The lad contains the Dat-tay-vao healing touch that left Vietnam in 1968 inside medic Walter Erskine passed to Dr. Alan Bulmer and from him to his adopted son. Glaeken and his team also must obtain two talisman necklaces as weapons to use against the growing evil who is winning the war.

This is a major revision of the original 1992 final apocalyptic Adversary Circle (see Reprisal and Reborn, etc.). Jack is a key player but shares billing with Glaeken, Jeffy and others. The superb storyline is fast-paced and loaded with action as the force of good is reeling from the evil one’s assaults while the fading sun becomes a metaphysical Times Square countdown clock to Year Zero doomsday.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Obsidian Flame-Caris Roane

Obsidian Flame

Caris Roane

St. Martin’s, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250008534

Due to her psychic skills and her fanatical parents demanding she adhere to their beliefs, for one hundred years, Marguerite was incarcerated in the Convent in Prescott Two on Second Earth. Her only respites from the ennui were her hope for freedom and “conjugal” visits from Thorne her Warriors of the Blood vampire lover.

When she is freed, she leaves Thorne behind on Second Earth while she journeys to Mortal Earth to start anew as Marguerite Dresner. As Commander Greaves and his Liberation Army begin their assault to control both Earths, Thorne deserts his post as second in command of the Warriors of the Blood for the first time in two millennia to follow his breh-hedden soulmate. However, other vampires recognize the rare skills of one of the Obsidian Flame triad that make Marguerite the Red Flame an extremely valuable commodity as a weapon of mass destruction especially with her two “sisters”.

As with the previous four fantastic Guardians of Ascension romantic fantasies (see Wings of Fire and Born of Ashes), the key to this entry is the cast; as the good, the bad and the ugly seem real with strengths, weaknesses and potentially fatal flaws. These characters ensure that the Roane mythology feels genuine. Action-packed, readers will root for Thorne as he joins the chase for Marguerite, but his motive is love not power.

Harriet Klausner

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012-Edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012

Edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

PYR, May 22 2012, $17.95

ISBN 9781616146191

This Nebula Award Showcase contains entries (partial and full) from the four award categories (Novel, Novelette, Novella and Short Story). Of the seven nominees for short story, four are presented including the two winners (“How Interesting a Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison and “Ponies” by Kij Johnson). Four of the seven novelettes are provided to include the winner “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone. In the Novella category, two of the six nominees are presented to include the winner "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window” by Rachel Swirsky. Of the six nominees for Best Novel, an extract from the winner “Blackout/All Clear” by Connie Willis is part of the compilation.

The collection also includes the winners of other awards. An extract from The Andre Norton Award for Children’s and Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy winner (“I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett) is provided. Fans can read the winners of the Dwarf Star Award for Poetry (“Bumbershoot” by Howard Hendrix), the Rhysling Awards for Long Poetry (“In the Astronaut Asylum” by Kendell Evans and Samantha Henderson) and Short Poetry (“To Theia” by Ann K. Schneider), and one of the two Solstice Award winners (“And I Awoke And Found Me Here On the Cold Hill’s Side” By James Tiptree, Jr.

This is a strong compilation with a wide look at the genres though I preferred last year’s approach which included all the short stories and novelette finalists so I could compare my selections with that of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Still once again the Nebula Awards Showcase is a fabulous look at science fiction and fantasy in 2011.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 18, 2012

Destroyer of Worlds-Mark Chadbourn

Destroyer of Worlds

Mark Chadbourn

PYR, May 22 2012, $17.95

ISBN: 9781616146177

The universe is at a crossroad in which life on earth, the Land of the Dead and other realms will survive barely but changed or more likely die in a big crunch extinction event. Even the recently awakened ancient Gods in all probability will find their existence Void.

Champion of Existence Jack Churchill is the last hope. He and his horde, the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, understand they must attack the Fortress of the Enemy in what is a suicide mission to get to the enemy The Burning Man. Though these brave souls would prefer to run for their lives instead of confronting the seemingly invincible Destroyer of Worlds in a hopeless cause as several fear that Jack is not the Champion of Existence but as the prophecies imply soon will metamorphose into a malevolent Champion of Nonexistence. Betrayal from within from those who fear Jack could change into the evil ender of life and pray for a miracle that they did the right thing (though the deities will unlikely not answer the plea as they are in trouble too). This complicates the perilous mission as Jack and his supporters must destroy the Burning Man (or as some think Jack) before this essence turns the universe into the Void.

This is a super finish to the multi-mythological Kingdom of Serpent fantasy trilogy. Starting with the Caretaker’s brief synapsis of what happened in the precious tales (see The Burning Man and Jack of Ravens) fans will feel they are inside an incredible realm created by Mark Chadbourn. Readers will enjoy his escapades leading e Brothers and Sisters of Dragons on a suicide mission in which doing nothing is death anyway.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Macbeth-A. J. Hartley and David Hewson


A. J. Hartley and David Hewson

Thomas & Mercer, May 22 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612183015

Lord of Moray, Macbeth and his wife Skena have always supported Scottish King Duncan. However, recently Lord Macbeth has had doubts that the monarch is good for the country as he does little to keep outside raiders from pillaging the borders especially the coast; has allowed bloody clan warfare; and has led loyal followers into unnecessary deadly battles.

Macbeth meets three witches who further his belief that Duncan is destroying Scotland. He discusses with his wife his fears for their country and whether they should rebel; an act some will call treason and others heroic. Skena a patriot says loyally is to Scotland not Duncan and encourages her husband to assassinate the king and take over as the ruler for the sake of the people. However, once they deploy their plans, Lord and Lady Macbeth soon learn the road to hell is paved with good intentions as nothing seems to go right after the murder of Duncan.

This is an engaging novelization that pays homage to the classic play even with providing a wider perspective of what motivates Lord and Lady Macbeth while emphasizing their country patriotism. Fast-paced from the moment the plotters decide to end Duncan’s horrific reign, fans, except for purists, of the Bard will enjoy the A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rendition of Macbeth.

Harriet Klausner

Gears of War: The Slab-Karen Traviss

Gears of War: The Slab

Karen Traviss

Gallery/Pocket, May 8 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9781439184073

A decade ago just after the Pendulum Wars ended, Emergence Day occurred when the Locust Horde left the underground to attack the surface dwellers across Sera. Over the ensuing years billions died due to the Horde and Coalition of Ordered Government Chairman Richard Prescott deploying the Hammer of Dawn created by Adam Fenix to slow down the enemy advance. The humans are down to one stronghold Ephyra with that expected to fall soon in spite of the courageous efforts of Colonel Hoffman and his soldiers including Adam’s son Marcus.

Considered a hero, Adam is filled with guilt as he knew of the enemy’s existence years before ED due to his late wife finding proof. He made contact years before ED and learned the Horde was fleeing an insidious adversary the Lambent parasite but told no one until now when he tells his top aide who goes from reverence to loathing in a nanosecond.

Marcus learns his estrange fatherd was buried under rubble. He deserts his post, but fails to find his father as Ephyra falls. Marcus is court-martialed and sent to the Slab while Prescott took Adam to a top secret bunker on Azura Island. Adam works at destroying the Lambent while Marcus seeks a way to destroy the Locust.

The latest exciting Gears of War military science fiction thriller (see Aspho Fields, Jacinto’s Remnant and Anvil Gate) occurs before Coalition's End. Fast-paced but also filled with pathos as a remorseful Adam regrets his decision and Marcus is filled with sorrow when his father apparently died during an assault on the family mansion. Fans of COG will relish Slab as the Fenix duo filled with crippling guilt continue their respective fight.

Harriet Klausner

Casket of the Souls-Lynn Flewelling

Casket of the Souls

Lynn Flewelling

Spectra/Ballantine, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345522306

The war between the Plenimarians and Rhiminee continues in Mycena with the former’s Overlord asks for a parlay for peace but the latter’s Queen Phoria refuses to negotiate in spite the hostilities going bad for her kingdom. Meanwhile Watchers espionage operatives Alec and Seregil informs their chief Thero the wizard that they plan to visit the summer home of the Duke Reltheus for a client needing the services of Rhiminee Cat burglar to steal letters before the rat’s ex-mistress marries. They succeed in obtaining the love letters but also find an incriminating note, which Reltheus should not have, that incriminates Princess Klia of sedition against the Queen.

At the same time, a plague has struck the overcrowded Rhiminee filled with refugees from the war as well as the local residents. As the death count mounts, an already anxious city feels fear and panic, while some members of the Royal Court conspire to further their personal objectives.

The sixth Nightrunner military-political fantasy (see The White Road and Shadow's Return) is an engaging thriller that keeps The Traveling Twosome (aside – great show) close to home with the only distant scenarios involvimg Commander Beka Cavish leading the Royal forces against the Plenimarians. The storyline starts a bit slowly as the protagonists and others attend the theater, but the plot accelerates when the thieves break into the Duke’s home and never slows down from there even with some repetitious activity. Well written and exciting, fans of the series will want know whether the Princess plots against the Queen.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Blood Seduction-Pamela Palmer

A Blood Seduction

Pamela Palmer

Avon, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062107497

In Bethesda Quinn Lennox works as a researcher at the National Institute of Health. Besides government work, she uses her lab to run tests on her own blood, but to her chagrin the results are always normal in spite of strange things happening to her including two recent scary visions and the Shimmers who have left her social life dead. The only person still in her life is her younger brother Zack and by extension his girlfriend Lily.

A frantic Zack and Quinn search for a missing Lily. Quinn sees an odd light while Zack picks up Lily’s pen from on the ground just as his sister grabs him. They fall into the dark world of Vamp City, which exists several hundred years ago. Vampires run the city while humans are blood banks. Arturo Mazza takes Quinn as his slave but wants more than just her blood that he craves; he needs her as his emotional slave too. He explains to her that a sorcerer created V.C. centuries ago, but the city is dying unless a new mage is found to save it. They are attracted to each other, but another vampire owns Zack; and Quinn will do anything to rescue her brother.

The first Vamp City is an exciting fantasy that grips readers from the moment the siblings arrive in V, C. Fast-paced, betrayal and deception are the dark shimmers that run through the super story line. This is a strong opening act which sets the Palmer V.C. mythos’ paranormal boundaries mythos yet with so many treacherous acts, fans will wonder what Pamela Palmer has installed in her dark vampire series.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Becomes Her-Jaime Rush

Darkness Becomes Her

Jaime Rush

Avon, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062018922

Ali’s Uncle Russell apparently kills her parents and takes over her daddy’s body. She has been on the run ever since.

Lachlan Macleod loved using his power as an Offspring until he accidently killed his mom. Filled with guilt and remorse, he has withdrawn from the world and rejects his paranormal skills. His brother Magnus is worried about Lachlan’s mental state. Magnus tells his sibling her has fallen for Jessie Bellandre. However, Lachlan warns him that he has seen Jessie kill Magnus. Meanwhile, Jessie has been in hiding from her uncle for fifteen years ever since she witnessed his murdering her mom and taking control of her dad’s body. Her biggest trepidation is the Darkness inside of her will one day surface. Concerned for Magnus, Lachlan confronts Jessie who fears her uncle is near.

The latest Offspring romantic urban fantasy (see Beyond the Darkness, Touching Darkness and Out of the Darkness) is filled with intelligent twists that provide a light into the Darkness. The lead pair is a super coupling as each has reasons to be a loner s dreading that horrific condition called love. Action-packed, sub-genre readers will enjoy Jamie Rush’s tour of Annapolis.

Harriet Klausner

Further: Beyond the Threshold-Chris Roberson

Further: Beyond the Threshold

Chris Roberson

47North, May 22 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182438

Wayfarer One Captain Jason Ramachandra “RJ” Stone went into hibernation a few weeks after his crew. He expected to be awakened shortly in Alpha Centauri. However, when he regains consciousness from his cryogenic nap, he finds dog people barking in English. Stone soon learns that he took a twelve millennia nap. Not only are their dog people and other animal-humans hybrids, but also AIs and earth is at the center, The Human Entelechy connected by wormholes crosses three thousand light-years.

As he struggles to acclimate to a world that even science fiction had not imagined, Stone is given command of the FTL Further, the first vessel expected to break the speed of light barrier has a directive to explore a pulsar in which signs of intelligent life emulates. Instead the millennia old exiled Iron Mass cult captures him and his crew. Not only must they escape from their feral captors, Stone needs to also uncover the secret of the planet’s stone towers, which he believes is the proof he sought on his mission.

With a nod to Buck Rogers and Rip Van Winkle, this is a creative far futuristic science fiction thriller with fascinating gizmos, intriguing definition of humanity and amusing satirical anthropological errors of how the past is conceived. The “heretical” Iron Mass cultists are never fully developed beyond their belief in religion amidst a sea of atheists. Although Stone put in command of a ship is like giving Columbus command of the space shuttle, fans will enjoy

Further: Beyond the Threshold as an exciting thirty-fourth century space thrille that is fascinating and absorbing.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch-Lara Parker

Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch

Lara Parker

Tor, Apr 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765332608

In 1971 Collinsport, the vampire Barnabas Collins has been changed into a mortal thanks to the medical elixir Dr. Julia Hoffman created. Although he asked Julia to marry him and she accepted his proposal, Barnabas is curiously reluctant to tell the family. He finds his newfound humanity a weakness and regrets losing the intensity he felt as a vampire. The Old House has been sold to flower child Antoinette, who bears a striking resemblance to Angelique, the woman who made him a vampire.

Barnabas tries to woo Antoinette but she is more interested in his cousin Quentin then him. He follows her to a séance in Salem where they are thrust back to 1692. Miranda Duval has been accused of witchcraft and will be judged by those who want her land and her farmhouse. Both Antoinette and Barnabas try in different ways to save Miranda who is Antoinette’s troubled daughter in 1971. Barnabas also must track down the vampire that has entered Collinwood and has killed at least one person but he has no idea who that person is and his own humanity limits what he can do.

This is a reprint of a 2006 tale, as Lara Parker, the actress who played Angelique on the first Dark Shadows television show, has written another chapter in the Collins saga. While one subplot takes place in 1971, much of the tale takes place in Salem at the height of the witch trials where another branch of the Collins family has settled and plays an important role in the fate of Miranda. Fans of the series will love reading about characters that they enjoyed watching three decades ago as the author captures their essence.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Shadows: Angelique’s Descent-Lara Parker

Dark Shadows: Angelique’s Descent

Lara Parker

Tor, Apr 10 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780765332882

Thanks to his savior Dr. Julia Hoffman, Barnabas Collins is no longer a vampire. However, he is not totally free of Angelique’s curse when the remains of a body are found where his coffin used to be located in the Old House. A fire destroys much of the Old House, but the journal of Angelique Bouchard the witch who cursed him centuries ago somehow survived. Julia pleads with Barnabas to destroy this evil tome, but he feels compelled to read it.

Barnabas begins to read Angelique’s journal. On Martinique her father took her from her mother as he recognized his daughter possessed the voodoo craft family skill. He used her witchcraft ability to control his slaves on his plantation and she sells her soul in exchange for eternal darkness. Angelique escaped from her sire and obtained a position working for Barnabas’s seventeenth century love Josette du Pres. He turns his attention to her, but dumped her when he became engaged to Josette. She cursed him to be her eternal blood sucking slave.

This is a reprint of a 1998 Dark Shadows thriller with a revised climax written by the actress who played Angelique on the TV show. The storyline is at its best when it dwells on the intriguing seventeenth century volatile chemistry between Angelique and Barnabas on Martinique and in Salem as he learns what William Congreve said in The Mourning Bride (1697): "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned; Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." On the other hand, the present day segue is overwhelmed by too many underdeveloped subplots. Obviously for fans of Dark Shadows, Angelique’s Descent is a fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reincarnation: A Story About Love, Hate, Time and Pain-Edgardo Quinones

Reincarnation: A Story About Love, Hate, Time and Pain

Edgardo Quinones

Outskirts Press, Aug 30 2011, $12.95

ISBN: 9781432774899

In the present, Elizabeth lives with her parents in an isolated area. She recently made an older friend Zafael, who her parents do not know about. In fact when they see her talking to air, they assume she talking to an imaginary friend.

Fifteen hundred years before Jesus, brutal Jericho Commander Drakos leads an army of five thousand soldiers defending the walled city anyway has can. Only Elizabeth calms his raging soul. When Elizabeth’s parents died, Drakos’ lieutenant Vampros took her in as he loves her. Zafael the fallen angel also loves Elizabeth. He demands she leave with him, but she chooses Vampros. Irate Zafael touches Vampros before fleeing as three angels arrive. They discuss what to do about the paradox of Vampros who has been changed into a bloodsucker and suicide is not an option as either is holy sins against the Lord. The angelic trio does nothing and leaves. When Elizabeth dies at the hands of invaders, Vampros becomes a rabid animal until centuries later he learns his beloved is reincarnated. However, love proves weaker than hate as his ancient enemies from Jericho kept the soul mates apart. Now he tries once again in the twenty-first century, but Zafael is already there and Drakos will surely follow.

Reincarnation is a wonderful thriller that lives up to its subtitle. The use of <<>> to separate first person commentary from third person action is distracting to me though others more tolerant with diverse styles will appreciate the technique. Character driven yet loaded with action, Edgardo Quinones provides an engaging tale as eternal love is heavenly while eternal hate is hellish pain.

Harriet Klausner

The Nano Flower-Peter F. Hamilton

The Nano Flower

Peter F. Hamilton

Del Rey, May 29 2012, $19.95

ISBN: 9780345533142

Years have passed since the case of A Quantum Murder. Former warrior Suzi deploys a cyborg cockroach to obtain a data dump for a client. After succeeding, Commander Leol Reiger informs her he was the client and he made almost ten times she did.

Former Mindstar Brigade captain turned psychic detective Greg Mandel is happily married to pregnant Eleanor, raising four children on their farm. Event Horizon owner Julia Evans arrives to obtain Greg’s help in finding her missing husband Royan. She explains her assistant Rachel gave her a box given to her in Monaco; inside is an alien flower and a note from Royan who has been missing for eight months. She wants Greg to find the woman in Monaco. Greg, Suzi, Rachel and Event Horizon security chief Victor fly to Monaco. They identify the delivery person as Charlotte Fielder, a Baronski girl. Greg and Suzi head to Salzburg to talk to Baronski to ask about Charlotte. Baronski says her patron is Jason Whitehurst and his teenage son Fabian. Reiger fails twice to capture Greg and Suzi. All are converging on the New London asteroid including a dangerous extraterrestrial from Jupiter’s rings.

The final superb Greg Mandel futuristic science fiction detective series The Nano Flower is reprinted as volume 2; Volume 1 included Mindstar Rising and A Quantum Murder. The storyline is fast-paced and loaded with action as the retired sleuth and his cohorts follow the trail of Charlotte (and Russian mobsters) in their search for Roylan, but ignore his main message the flower. Fans will appreciate this entry and the Mandel saga as the trilogy is sci fi mystery at its best.

Harriet Klausner

Disappearing Nightly-Laura Resnick

Disappearing Nightly

Laura Resnick

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407667

In the off-Broadway production Sorcerers, actress Golly Gee gets the part of Virtue; a role that Esther Diamond wanted. Esther, who waits tables in Little Italy is Golly’s understudy and has a part in the chorus; which her agent says is better than nothing as the Big Apple has more unemployed performers than the residents in most other cities. Still Esther wishes Golly would get sick so she can take over the role.

On stage, Golly steps inside a crystal cage as part of an illusion, but vanishes. Excited Esther looks forward to being Virtue, but receives a strange note warning her not to enter the cage as evil has engulfed the city. She shows the note to Police Detective Connor Lopez who says it is just a dumb prank. Later three-century and a half old Dr. Maximillian Zadok of the Magnum Collegium informs Esther that several magician assistants disappeared while on stage doing an illusion. Maximillian joins Esther, several drag queens, dancing cowgirls, and pretentious magicians to fight the malevolence.

This Esther Diamond urban fantasy ius an engaging tale starring an eccentric intrepid heroine who has a fast education into the paranormal. Fast-paced, Esther and Connor are attracted to one another, but he refuses to act on his desire because he thinks she is a nut who is a prime suspect in the missing Golly Gee case. Readers will enjoy Disappearing Nightly as the understudy finds a show she would prefer not to be one of the stars.

Harriet Klausner

This Dark Earth-John Horner Jacobs

This Dark Earth

John Horner Jacobs

Gallery/Pocket, Jul 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451666663

In an Arkansas Emergency Room, the patients exhibit the same symptoms. Pathologist Lucy treats a baby who dies only to rise again. Others do likewise. Frantic Lucy hitches a ride with Knock-Out the trucker to get home to see her husband Frank and their ten year old son Gus as helicopters patrol the air. Abruptly the truck’s motor and radio conk out; Lucy knows an EMP event has mad electronic gizmo s extinct. They find shelter before the radiation spreads; when she makes it home she finds Frank is a zombie but Gus remains human.

Lucy, Knock-Out and Gus meet a military patrol and join them. Zombies are everywhere leaving the living seeking shelter from the Shamblers. Gus makes a suggestion that the adults accept as sound. Over the next few years, they build Bridge City as a medieval-style fortress while killing the Zombies and avoid being killed in turn out of fear of coming back. Besides the Shamblers, the residents of Bridge City must contend with a vicious army of slavers that want the fortification at any cost; even the extinction of mankind.

John Horner Jacobs provides a great zombie thriller as the survivors struggle with the plague and nuclear bombing as they have two enemies with a common cause of eradicating them. The characters act plausible while coping with a biblical-proportion extinction event; for instance Lucy due to her medical skills becomes a needed leader. The changes in their world can be seen through Gus who was a genius tweener before but five years later he is a brilliant tough adult at fifteen. As the darkness spreads, one little light of hope shines strongly with Lucy giving birth to Knock-Out’s baby.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dark Magic-James Swain

Dark Magic

James Swain

Tor, May 22 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765329943

Peter Warlock the renowned stage magician is also a real warlock who conceals his psychic skills from the public. He becomes concerned when he sees a vision of a future disaster in Times Square in which many people will suddenly die. Feeling the need to inform authorities, Peter tells the police, but they ridicule his warning.

With his adept allies, Peter begins a search for who is behind the upcoming disaster. He learns that the Order of Astrum has sent an assassin to kill him and his inner circle of adepts. Though he knows he may die in the attempt to prevent the calamity, Peter risks his life by deploying his talent to save innocent civilians.

Dark Magic is an engaging urban fantasy filled with the paranormal of Manhattan and starring an intriguing hero who is not a 100% percent angelic good guy. The cast especially the adversaries are emaciated caricatures as even deadly Wolfe lacks depth beyond being the cartoonish evil enemy. Still this is an enjoyable fast-paced thriller as the deadly ball drops with time counting down at Times Square.

Harriet Klausner

Changing Worlds: Book 1 of: The Dharalyn Chronicles-Donald Dambois

Changing Worlds: Book 1 of: The Dharalyn Chronicles

Donald Dambois

CreateSpace, Apr 11 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9781466271111

Her dad Big John Walkerman is very worried about his sixteen year old daughter Danielle who no longer acts like girls her age. He knows the change in personality occurred when her momma Marilyn died in a car accident a few months ago. Though he misses his wife of almost two decades too, Big John has no time to deeply grieve as his children, especially Danielle needs him. Heeding the advice of his sister Sara, Big John decides Danielle needs professional help; he will offer the same to his son Aaron but the lad seems adjusted to the loss of his mom.

However, prayers like those from despondent Danielle often get answered in mysterious ways. Danielle meets depressed Dharalyn just before the latter was dining on the blood of the former’s Gran. While their dangerous adventures together begin in the city with the selling of gems, they become close friends as the human and the vampire hide the vamp’s sustenance need from Danielle’s family and Dharalyn’s species; knowing neither of their kin would take kindly to their being BFFs.

The first Dharalyn Chronicles is filled with action, but driven by the BFFs’ close relationship as two lost souls from polar opposite lifestyles forge a needed friendship at a critical time in their lives. Both are full blooded while the support cast enhances the plot. Fans will enjoy the Changing World of the two delightful Ds as Donald Dambois deftly provides a unique teen lit vampire thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Charmed by His Love-Janet Chapman

Charmed by His Love

Janet Chapman

Jove, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780515150902

Widow and single mom of four young children (Charlotte, Isabel and the twins Pete and Jacob) Peg Thompson needs to earn a living and believes she has a fortuitous way due to a recent earthquake that created an inland sea out of a mountain and made the gravel quarry on her land valuable. Duncan MacKeage (see Pine Creek Highlander saga - Highlander for the Holidays) arrives to lead the construction of roads and bridges using the widow’s gravel.

Duncan enjoys spending time with the four impish heathens and is attracted to their mother. However, Peg knows the family curse leaves men dead so she refuses to get involved with Duncan. The earthquake maker Mr. Oceanus (see Spellbound Falls) encourages Duncan to embrace his magical skills that he has ignored that is if he wants Peg.

The second Spellbound Falls urban fantasy romance is an engaging tale starring an interesting lead couple as she fears the curse will kill Duncan while he fears deploying the magic he left dormant. The kids may be too precocious, but add mischievous fun as fans will enjoy Janet Chapman’s merging of two of her romantic fantasy series.

Harriet Klausner

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar-Kady Cross

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

Kady Cross

Harlequin Teen, May 22 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780373210534

In 1897 Finley Jayne and her “straynge” friends (Lord Griffin King, Sam Morgan and Emily) travel on Griff’s airship Helena from London to New York to help their friend Jasper Renn out of a nasty predicament. Dalton captured Mei Xing in order to get to her boyfriend Jasper, his former felonious associate. The crime king placed a clockwork collar on Mei’s neck so that if Jasper fails or betrays Dalton, she dies as the gizmo will turn into a choker. He orders Jasper to retrieves the parts of a machine if he wants his beloved alive and well.

The English visitors begin a quest to save Jasper while also rescuing Mei. They seek the machine parts and look for a means to rid the clockwork collar from around Mei’s neck without harming her. However within the team emotions run high. Sam may be more mechanical than human but his heart works as he has fallen for Emily who loves him. Griff loves Jasper but fears she will return to the dark side while he falls deeper into his need for the Aether.

The second Steampunk Chronicles historical fantasy (see The Girl In The Steel Corset) is a superb thriller that hooks the audience when the Helena flies over late Victorian Manhattan, which anchors time and place in the Cross alternate world. Action-packed but character driven

as the team struggles with emotions that could betray the mission, teen readers will appreciate the exhilarating The Girl in the Clockwork Collar.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Kiss-Michelle Rowen

Dark Kiss

Michelle Rowen

Harlequin Teen, May 22 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210473

In Trinity, New York teenage BFFs Samantha and Carly Kessler are clubbing when Stephen Keyes joins them. Sam has had a crush on the hunk seemingly forever. When he asks to kiss her but warns her that his kiss will change her life, she readily agrees. After he says he is sorry kid, he leaves while she faints.

Soon afterward boys hit on her; girls scream at her; and she is always hungry just not for food. The head angel on a heavenly quest Bishop is attracted to Sam who has lost her soul to that kiss. His team consists of two angels (Zach and Connor) who work closely with and against two demons (Kraven and Roth). Their Nightwatchers’ mission is to prevent the evil darkness from devouring Trinity.

The first Nightwatchers’ teen urban fantasy is an exciting twisting thriller which grips readers from that first Dark Kiss until the final confrontation. The cast is fully developed with diverse personalities while the Rowen mythology is intriguing as there are things so wicked even heaven and hell have to team up.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Bound-Rachel Vincent

Shadow Bound

Rachel Vincent

Mira, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313434

Shadow-walker Kori Daniels is Blood Bound to work for the Tower. However, she found a loophole on her oath and betrayed the Boss Jake Tower who almost died because of her actions. He punished her by locking her away in the basement for weeks of torture. Now Jake offers her a deal to get out of the torture cell. All she has to do is persuade Ian Holt the dark manipulator to join Tower; failure on her part means punishing her sister Kenley the blood-binder.

Ian needs to kill Kenley in order to break a binding that is killing his brother. To get to her, he accepts Kori’s invitation to come to the Tower though he has no plan to join this crime syndicate. However, though he distrusts Kori as she is Blood Bound, he is attracted to her and reconsiders his options besides having Kenley or his brother die.

The second Unbound romantic fantasy (see Blood Bound) is an exciting twisting thriller as Ian seeks a third choice re his sibling. For the most part fast-paced though there is a tendency to reiterate the rules of order in the fascinating Vincent mythos in which people are Skilled or Unskilled and the Skilled must belong to a Syndicate or hide. Fans will enjoy this thrilling tale wondering how Ian will handle his deadly dilemma.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 11, 2012

Messenger’s Angel-Heather Killough-Walden

Messenger’s Angel

Heather Killough-Walden

Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237316

Four loyal archangels (Uriel, Michael, Gabriel and Azrael) were rewarded for their faithfulness with the granting of a female archess soulmate. To insure no jealousy occurs amongst the remaining archangels, the quartet is sent to earth to find their soulmate. Their brother, angry Samael leads a revolt against the "old man", but is exiled as The Fallen One in defeat. For too many countless millennia they sought their mate, but now each believes it was a cruel cosmic joke until Uriel meets Eleanore Granger (see Avenger’s Angels).

Like his peers, Gabriel had lost all hope, but now with Uriel’s success has a new belief. He heads to Rodel, Scotland as he has for centuries as a getaway. Only this time in a pub he meets American Juliette Anderson who is researching her doctoral thesis due to a grant from media mogul Samuel Lambent; the same CEO who offered Eleanore a deal she couldn’t refuse. As Juliette struggles with her sanity, Adarian Abraxos want to drink the blood of the four archess.

The second Lost Angels romantic urban fantasy (see Avenger’s Angels) is a fast-paced thriller that is fun because Gabriel is pathetic as a fated lover who does nothing right when he first meets his archess; he fumbles it so badly he needs the evil enemy to serve as matchmaker. Once again the enigmatic Samael steals the show as Mr. Lonely rather than the wicked Fallen One.

Harriet Klausner

Vengeance Moon-Lee Roland

Vengeance Moon

Lee Roland

Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236432

Seventeen years old Madeline Corso is filled with rage after three men killed her mom whose legacy to her was a vision of them and a curse to avenge her. Two years later she murdered one in Seattle and another in New York, but the latter was caught on camera. Convicted of homicide, Madeline is sentenced to twenty five to life at the Upstate New York Sisters of Justice Correctional College.

Now twenty six, Mother Evelyn offers Madeline a risky opportunity to escape incarceration. If she accepts and fails she will go to a maximum security prison. Madeline says if she fails she will be dead. The Mother assigns her to go to the Barrows in Duivel, Missouri to hunt down the third killer who has the Portal gem Madeline’s mom foolishly wore out in the open rather than protect as the Earth Mother decreed.

In Duivel, Madeline meets Michael and to her chagrin she feels an unwanted attraction. However, she has no time for matters of the heart as she is running out of time since an evil being plans to deploy the Portal to cause untold destruction.

The second superb Earth Witches romantic urban fantasy (see Viper Moon) is a great thriller as readers return to Duivel where the Earth Mother created a magical prison to contain the malevolent Darkness. The keys to this gripping storyline are that the paranormal seems normal and that the romance between Michael (a major player in the first novel) and Madeline is kept somewhat in the background as preventing the Portal disaster comes first. With a wonderful genealogical twist and a fascinating spin on what caused the curse, fans will appreciate Lee Roland’s exhilarating entry.

Harriet Klausner

Visions of Chains-Regan Hastings

Visions of Chains

Regan Hastings

Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237309

First Daughter Deidre Sterling is tired of having constant protection and being unendingly used for the benefit of others as even her mom the President has done so. She is tired that the only men in her life are Secret Service, but also wonders why she sees a huge dog across from her apartment while her friend Shauna Jackson cannot.

She and Shauna belong to the peaceful Rights for Witches group protesting the state execution of five witches slated for burning. Shauna betrays her handing her over to the Witches Liberation Front whose leader Finn the Eternal plans to use Deidre to rescue the condemned five. In the ensuing battle, Deidre’s dormant witch skills surface as Finn saves her life knowing she is the mate he has waited for centuries to meet.

The latest Awakening romantic urban fantasy (see Visions of Skyfire and Visions of Magic) is a great tale in a fabulous thought-provoking series. The underlying premise that the government and militia patriots ignore the First Amendment rights under the guise of national security remains a timely theme as ethnic condemnation has occurred in our history. With a strong cast especially the confused almost schizoid heroine, fans will appreciate this deep paranormal political thriller. Once again Regan Hastings builds on her cautionary discourse that "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security" Benjamin Franklin).

Harriet Klausner

When Passion Lies-J.K. Beck

When Passion Lies

J.K. Beck

Bantam, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345525635

Caris and Tiberius were lovers for centuries until a mission in the early eighteenth century shattered their relationship and drove her away from her mate to his rival Gunnolf the Weren. He is devastated by her betrayal but remains dedicated to the cause of protecting the shadow world; she becomes bitter at the world and her former lover.

In the present, Tiberius objects to a nasty beast joining the Alliance as Weren Lihter the Therian representative will challenge Tiberius for the leadership. Lihter holds hostage the daughter of Cyrus Reinholt; Tiberius seeks the man in hiding to learn why. However, he arrives too late as Caris kills Cyrus. With little choice, Caris and Tiberius team up to prevent the ruthless Lihter from destroying the Alliance while a Texas hellhound investigator Gabriel Casavetes hunts the killer of Reinholt.

The latest Shadow Keepers romantic urban fantasy (see When Pleasure Rules and When Wicked Craves) is an exciting second chance at love thriller. When Passion Lies is fast-paced from the moment Tiberius confronts Caris with what she just did and never slowing down as the more the pair learns about Lihter’s agenda the more diligent they become to prevent it. Although the snappy retorts are overdone making each lead seem too acrimonious, series fans will enjoy this exhilarating entry. Additionally, a bonus “Shadow Keepers novella “Midnight” provides the first chance historical romance when Caris(sa) asks Tiberius to help rescue her brother.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chaos Burning-Lauren Dane

Chaos Burning

Lauren Dane

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250822

Lark Jaansen of Clan Gennessee knows the life of a hunter fits her perfectly as violence is her middle name. When she and off world soldier Simon Leviathan meet, they are attracted to each other and respect each other’s warrior ethic.

At the same time, hostilities heat up with the war between witches and humans sending the frightened fae into hiding and giving an opportunity for the suddenly brazen vampires to flex their power. Lark and Simon find evidence that the prehistoric malevolent Magister from across the veil has begun to suck dry the magick of the Others with time running out on all sentient species. The hunter and the alien warrior know finding the Magister will prove much easier than defeating the Magister; survival is unlikely regardless.

The latest Bound by Magick urban fantasy (see Heart of Darkness) is a super thriller due to the fascinating Dane mythos that comes alive in the hunt for the invincible Magister. The lead couple is a solid pairing of two alpha warriors while the evil enemy has been around seemingly forever. Fans will enjoy this exciting entry starting with “MacArthur Park is melting in the dark” (Richard Harris’ MacArthur Park) and continuing with the anticipated showdown.

Harriet Klausner

The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City-Jared Axelrod and Steve Walker (illustrator)

The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City

Jared Axelrod and Steve Walker (illustrator)

Tor, May 8 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765331304

Amperstam is unique as the only flying city. The city’s leader is the powerful Provost who runs an extremely tight ship. His most persistent pest is a street urchin turned crusading journalist; Ashe the young female reporter has a knack of exposing scandals and secrets on her one page rag The Lurker’s Guide that the Provost and other leaders prefer remaining buried and away from public outrage and scrutiny.

However, her latest clandestine activity has led Ashe to uncover the darkest secret of her city. Horrified she now knows the source of what enables Amperstam to fly. If she reports what she knows to the Amperstammer residents, her city will almost certainly be grounded; if she does not Ashe could not live with herself. The city leaders realize what she has learned as they conclude she is no longer an irrelevant irritant since instead of just embarrassing them she could cost them their power and that is unacceptable.

This is a fascinating graphic steampunk thriller starring an intrepid crusading reporter who is a Davidette going up against Goliath and his horde. The first section sets much of the city laws, the Amperstammer social order and customs, and a ton of characters introduced in machine gun style. Once established, overwhelmed readers will enjoy this fast-paced cat and mouse dark tale made grimmer by the B&W illustrations.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All Spells Break Loose-Lisa Shearin

All Spells Break Loose

Lisa Shearin

Ace, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007713

Elf Raine Benares the seeker should feel great that she finally is no longer bonded to the soul-stealing rock Saghred. Instead she feels ire as the damned stone stole her innate magic when it left her guilt and merged with the dark goblin mage Sarad Nukpana (see Con and Conjured). Unlike Raine whose only goal when the stone possessed her was to liberate herself from the rock, Sarad plans to deploy the Saghred to destroy the world.

Raine recruits elves (Mychael and Piaras) and goblins (Tam, Imala, Talon and Prince Chigaru) on a quest to prevent Sarad from using the Saghrad. They sneak into the Goblin capital Regor where they plan to destroy the rock before it can destroy the world. Her only fear is her distrust of her band as any one of them friend and foe could feel ambitious.

The final Raine Benares fantasy (see Bewitched and Betrayed, and The Trouble With Demons) is a terrific finish to an exhilarating saga as the heroine learns what it means sometimes when you get what you wished for. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action while the heroine may be entering hell without her magic but does so with her sarcastic amusing noir-like barbs. Readers will enjoy this High Noon confrontation as Raine takes the fight to Sarad and Saghred.

Harriet Klausner

Bleeding Out-Jes Battis

Bleeding Out

Jes Battis

Ace, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007638

In Victoria, Occult Special Investigations squad agent Tess Corday is on medical leave recuperating from on the job injuries (see Infernal Affairs). With time on her hands, Tess follows up to what she learned about her paternal roots to find out more about her origin. On her way to buy cigarettes, Tess notices an anomaly, a stoned vampire.

OSI Detective Selena Ward calls Tess to ask her and Derrick to help her for a few hours investigating the murder of Lord Nightingale the ruler of the necromancers and governor of Ttrinovantum who died at the Simon Fraser University Bennett Library. The pair head to the crime scene. Soon Tess and her “family” (Derrick, Miles, Patrick and Mia) make inquiries into the homicide while she also looks into a drug that leaves vampires dazed and the whereabouts of her father.

The last OSI urban fantasy (see A Flash of Hex and Inhuman Resources) is a great finish to a strong paranormal police procedural. Tess is at her best as she works three cases (one authorized) with each different yet dangerous. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s curtain call and hope for her to return one day soon somewhere else in Canada like Toronto.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fascinated-Marissa Day


Marissa Day

Heat/Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247723

Lord Edward Carstairs is a Catalyst whose skill is to extract power from the natural world for Sorcerers to use in spells. He is attracted to Alicia Hartwell who has never remotely felt love, but wonders about her odd behavior that most ignore as her being a spinster. He proposes and though shocked she accepts. Belonging to a cell of operatives that keep magic under control, Edward fears his fiancée is either a witch or cursed by powerful enchantment.

Enlisting his agent peers, he begins his endeavor to free the woman he loves by erotic means. As Alice begins to taste passion and fall in love with her betrothed, Edward risks losing her when the fairies’ curse is finally removed.

This entertaining historical romantic fantasy (see The Surrender of Lady Jane) is a fun tale with an intriguing premise in which the hero deploys several types of erotic scenarios in order for his beloved to feel passion to overcome the curse. The storyline is somewhat limited but fast-paced heat as love proves to be the most powerful spell of all.

Harriet Klausner

Tangle of Need-Nalini Singh

Tangle of Need

Nalini Singh

Berkley, May 29 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780425247563

Sienna Lauren released her X-Psy powers against the Pure Psy Forces to protect the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs who took her and her family in when they fled from the PsyNet years ago though she knew this will speed up her death (see Kiss of Snow). Her actions have shaken up both sides in the hostilities over the PsyNet and bring civil war that much closer.

Riaz has returned home to his SnowDancer pack after a stint in Europe. He is depressed that his “mate” is married to someone else, but will not allow his broken heart to prevent him from doing his job for his pack. Adria also has returned to the pack as her mate dumped her because her alpha strength left him feeling emaciated. Adria and Riaz are attracted to one another, but both assume this is a rebound sexual need only. Ironically these two powerful alpha warriors, who willingly risk their lives in mortal combat, fear risking their hearts on love.

This Psy/Changeling romantic fantasy is a great entry that compares the big picture hostilities with the small picture relationships. As the war seems shortly imminent with its accompanying death and maiming, the pairing of two heartbroken changelings and a look at previous leads are doing as mates provide a strong counterpoint in the fabulous Singh mythos.

Harriet Klausner

The Paths of the Dead-Steven Brust

The Paths of the Dead

Steven Brust

Orb, May 22 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780765330307

Two centuries have passed since Adron's Disaster imploded the Empire with the magical destruction of the capital Dragaera (see The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After) and the loss of the emperor. Many ambitious dukes vie for leadership of the unstable remnants especially the powerful Dragonlord Duke of Kana Skinter. The Gods are divided with some insisting the present cycle requires a Phoenix as emperor and therefore they support the Phoenix heiress Zerika as the Empress; others defend Skinter.

To become the Empress Zerika must retrieve the Orb that is the primary base of wizardry. To obtain the orb she must traverse the dangerous Paths of the Dead. The Enchantress of Dzur Mountain Sethra Lavode supports her and lines her up the offspring of legendary warriors to assist her on her quest. Viscount of Adrilankha Piro, Tazendra the Dzurlord wizard, Kytraan the warrior, and others escort her to the Paths of the Dead while the sorceress Orlaan and her bandits led by Wadre and Mora, and Skinter's loyal supporters try to prevent them from achieving their goal.

This reprint of Book One of the Viscount of Adrilankha, allegedly written by Sir Paarfi and translated by Steven Brust, remains an exciting uniquely written teen quest fantasy that assumes young readers are intelligent and savvy. The story line contains other subplots but the one above is the main theme of The Paths of the Dead while the others are for another day (future book). Although it behooves the audience to read the previous two volumes to learn how the Empire got to where it is, readers will appreciate this witty entry that remains fresh with its unconventional approach to a quest fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Princeps-L.E. Modesitt, Jr.


L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Tor, May 22 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765330956

In Tilbor, Quaeryt prevented the coup attempt against Lord Bhayar. As his reward for preventing a bloody civil war from occurring, Quaeryt is named Princeps and ordered by Bhayar to marry his sister Vaelora. In his new position, Quaeryt plans on rebuilding the land, but he is unaware that his wife is unhappy with the disrespect the High Holders show toward them because of her husband’s birth class.

A volcano destroys the old capital of Telaryn in Extela killing the governor and others. Bhayar names his brother-in-law as the interim governor of the battered province and sends him to restore order and provide sustenance to the populace in a place where official corruption has always been an acceptable norm but now looting has begun too. At the same time nearby Bovaria sees an opportunity with what the volcano wrought so they mobilize. Knowing he needs Quaeryt’s unique secret imaging skills, Bhayar places him in charge of a special imaging unit.

The second Imager Portfolio (see Scholar) continues the exciting prequel saga that occurs centuries before the tales of Rhennthyl. Filled with action, the keys to this engaging fantasy are the fully developed social and economic systems that seem plausible. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. provides a fabulous thriller as his hero needs to be in two places at the same time.

Harriet Klausner

Railsea-China Mieville


China Mieville

Del Rey, May 15 2012, $18.00

ISBN: 9780345524522

Sham Yes ap Soorap the orphan has obtained an apprentice position working for a doctor on the Medes moletrain that rides the railsea with hunters seeking the giant moldywarpes that live beneath the dirt as these beasts are worth a fortune on the mainland. Sham appreciates the contests between the harpoonists and the moles, but wonders if riding the railsea for a lifetime is what he wants to do. He quickly realizes to never mention his doubts to Medes Captain Naphi as she obsesses over killing Mocker Jack the ivory mole who took her arm.

The Mede comes across the wreckage of a train. Amidst the mess, Sham finds several pictures of something that could not be. As he follows the clues; his captain, other train mates, pirates, monsters and salvagers pursue him.

This is a superb young adult fantasy that pays homage to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The story line is fast-paced and exciting with a strong cast including the prairie as a metamorphic ocean of land with monsters under the “sea.” China Mieville provides a wonderful refreshing coming of age allegorical adventure.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Everything Zing: Winter-Grant Stone

Everything Zing: Winter

Grant Stone

Tate Publishing, Nov 29 2011, $21.99

ISBN: 9781613466827

On December 24, 1999, George Everest of Manhattan believed in a big spectacular entrance. He just was unprepared for this one when he looked out his apartment window. He was falling rather fast through a colorful spectrum until he stopped and began moving horizontally. Finally he landed on a soft surface after having fallen through the roof of Grand Central Station. However, when he opens his eyes he sees a Christmas pageant with animated figures singing; that is until the tree fell in his chest. George Everest believes in a big entrance and this one was a doozy.

However, his adventures have just begun when he ends up on the Train of Thought until he reaches Ozilline’s cottage on Lake Englehook. There Marnie and Ozilline discuss how the survival of the Imagine Nation Kingdom rests with George because Landon believes his teacher George owns the unexplained hourglass that means only doom. All these Pursesands children wonder how life can pathetically twist to make an adult hold the Key to saving their kingdom from their nemesis.

This whimsical odd fantasy grips the audience from the moment readers feel we accompany George on his mystical journey. Fast-paced and filled with action, fans will appreciate this turn of the millennium adventure as George feels like a sort of Gulliver working a dangerous holiday gig in which two adversarial camps know he is the key to victory or defeat.

Harriet Klausner

Terminal Point-K.M. Ruiz

Terminal Point

K.M. Ruiz

Dunne, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312681555

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

To escape the dying planet that he cedes to the psions, the gene trash and his son by leaving for the Mars Colony of the Pure, Nathan hides his psi powers. His traitorous son Lucas has joined a rebel syndicate of former Strykers led by Threnody Corwin. She and her team hope to save the world for the humans while the World Court wants them dead so they can continue to exploit psi and human. However, Threnody is unaware that the Pure Lucas and his warhounds are of her kind.

The second Strykers Syndicate futuristic post-apocalyptic thriller (see Mind Storm) is an exciting gory military science fiction thriller that continues the blood and guts flow as the countdown to earth’s demise is running out. Fast-paced and loaded with feral action, the storyline never digs deep into what any of the prime three surviving groups think re a dying planet except tor the World Court leaving behind what they wrought as they reject accountability. Still fans who enjoy blood and guts will want to read Terminal Pont as mankind’s reign is through.”

Harriet Klausner