Friday, August 31, 2012

The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One--Jess Lourey

The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One

Jess Lourey

Toadhouse Books, Jul 17 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780615644578

In Depression Era Alabama, teenager Aine and her younger brother blind Spenser live with Grandma Glori. Day after day nothing changes in their routine.

Out of nowhere Grandma warns Aine and Spencer to flee with Gilgamesh while seeking three objects that will take them to their mom in Tor Na Nog. Before the shocked kids can leave, they learn Grandma’s companion Moondragon is dead and soon afterward Bilbos sliced Glori in half. Gilgamesh takes the siblings into a Fairy Ring followed by their new friend Tru. As Bilbos pursues them, they dive into the Toadhouse. He explains to them they have resided inside a book that Bilbos will destroy as he comes after Aine. Only the three objects can save her and her sibling as they must enter other novels to survive and bring balance to their world.

With a nod to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next, The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One is a great young adult fantasy starring a wonderful courageous cynic who risks her existence to save others. Using two forms of metafictive devices, readers will enjoy the this Fast-paced adventures of the siblings’ lost in the lands of The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Ramayana.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Miracle Inspector-Helen Smith

The Miracle Inspector

Helen Smith

Tyger Books, Sep 4 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780956517050

In London, Lucas and Angela are a twentyish couple in love. However, while he works for the government Ministry the Inspector of Miracles (he has not found any so far); she due to her gender must stay at home at all times with few exceptions. Angela is discontented with the ennui of her existence, but knows the all-male government rules makers will kill or incarcerate female rule-breakers. The one exception that matters to women is the allowance to visit other family females, which Angela and others claim a wide pool of relatives.

Lucas' godfather Jesmond gives Angela a journal written before the government crackdown. She cherishes the love letters and romantic poetry and pleads with her spouse for them to relocate to the freer Cornwell. He considers her request, but Lucas is busy investigating whether little Christina is his first miracle. Increasingly desperate, Angela plans to travel top Cornwell with or without her spouse.

The Miracle Inspector is a timely dark horror satire that uses hyperbole as men protect women from their weaker nature. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as she wants more than just his loving protection and he is clueless as to why she wants more. Though British in writing style, Helen Smith’s jocular dystopian seems apropos to America where small government advocates legislate laws to control a woman’s body.

Harriet Klausner

-Breed-Chase Novak


Chase Novak

Mulholland Books/Little Brown, Sep 4 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316198561

In Manhattan affluent Alex and Leslie Twisden want children, but so far failed to have any. Leslie suggests adoption, but Alex prefers their DNA. Researching what is available, Alex learns of the success of fertility specialist Dr. Kis in Slovenia. Though reluctant, Leslie travels to the European nation with her spouse. Using animal extractions on the Americans, Dr. Kis manages a miracle when Leslie births twins, Adam and Alice though the two parents suffer horrible side effects.

A decade later, the mutant siblings, frightened by the behavior of their cannibalistic parents, run away from home. Alice and Adam seek Dr. Kis to learn what happened to their parents. Alex and Leslie follow their children.

Over the top of Mount Triglav and with a much darker and gorier nod to the movie Splice and the Wells’ novel Dr. Moreau, Breed is an exciting thriller. Though Alex’s obsession is never understood, fans who enjoy a fast-paced horror tale will relish this entry; while those with squeamish demeanors will either need to pass or diet.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downward to the Earth-Robert Silverberg

Downward to the Earth

Robert Silverberg

Orb, Aug 7 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780765331731

After years of exploiting the natives of Holman's World, the human Company left. Though the Company never looked back at what they did to the flora, fauna and two sentient populations (the elephant-like Nildoror and the ape-like Sulidoror), a remorseful Gundersen returns to Belgazor as the planet has returned to its pre Company name. He seeks redemption for what he did as a manager.

Gundersen meets the last of the humans at the decaying hotel. He is taken aback to observe the Sulidoror are doing many of the assignments the Company enslaved the Nildoror into doing when he last was here. He heads to the interior where the Nildoror allow him to continue if he returns with the human who committed an atrocity against their species. Later he meets transformed by the Nildoror rebirth ritual Kurtz and decides to undergo the same.

This is a reprint of a classic 1970 science fiction in which Robert Silverberg makes his two alien species seem genuine as he questions what is sentient (similar to Avatar). Readers will feel Gundersen’s guilt as he seeks atonement for what he allowed to happen to the indigent species including the abrupt departure by the earthlings after years of enforced servitude. With a nod to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, this is a strong look at the Europeans leaving Africa in the 1960s.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me-Phillipa Bornikova

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me

Phillipa Bornikova

Tor, Sep 4 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765326829

In New York, due to her connections with a powerful vampire family, Yale Law School graduate Linnet Ellery obtains an associate position at White-Fang law firm where the partners and most of the senior staff are vamps. She finds being a human at the law firm bitingly tough as she runs into prejudice all the time.

As the lowest lawyer, Linnet takes over a case that has gone nowhere for years involving a billion dollar security firm owned by werewolves. Chip Westin who has been the solo attorney on this inheritance fiasco warns her “This Case Is Gonna Kill Me” and probably her. They work together late when a werewolf arrives at the office and kills Chip; Linnet somehow survives and kills the deadly beast. She begins to uncover information that the werewolves prefer buried and target her to stay silent.

This is an enjoyable legal urban fantasy starring an intelligent, “lucky” heroine who makes the Bornikova mythos of vampires, werewolves and other of their ilk seem genuine by her interactions with the paranormal. Mindful of Fred Ward’s character in Cast A Deadly Spell, Linnet uses her knowledge of the law to battle the supernatural. Although the storyline starts slow as the realism of a newbie in an office setting is highlighted and the supernatural as genuine established, the plot accelerates into a delightful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

In a Fix-Linda Grimes

In a Fix

Linda Grimes

Tor, Sep 4 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765331809

Ciel Halligan the "aura adaptor" can make herself look exactly like someone else so that it is almost impossible to separate her from the original person. To catch the overall demeanor of her subject requires a little background into the person. Thus Ciel makes a nice living by taking the place of a client.

Ciel's current customer is high society Wilhelmina “Mina” Worthington who cannot be with her boyfriend Henry “Trey” Harrison III at a luxury cabin in the Bahamas. At the cabin Trey shouts at “Mina” to leave the bungalow; someone else does likewise. Ciel rushes outside just before an explosion occurs. Trey and the Good Samaritan are gone. While her adoptive cousin Billy and FBI agent Mark warn her to stay out of this mess, Ciel investigates. Her findings lead to Vikings.

This is a fresh romantic urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine whose ability to emit a copycat aura is genetically driven while others like Mark share her skill. The cast is solid especially the lead triangle as Ciel is attracted to both overly protective hunks. Though Ciel’s motive to investigate is weak, readers will enjoy this unique paranormal amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Town-Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Tim Waggoner

Ghost Town

Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Tim Waggoner

Gallery, Oct 9 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451613827

In late October at a bookstore in Exeter “the most haunted town in America” books suddenly fly off the shelf like missiles killing employee Tonya Jackson. At about the same time, the Ghost Trackers (Trevor Ward, Drew Pearson and Amber Lozier) arrive in Exeter to give a presentation at the "Dead Days" convention and sell some books.

Soon other mysterious deaths occur that has the three Ghost Trackers concluding that the Dark Lady is behind the paranormal serial killings. This follows by realizing who awakened the dormant Dark Lady; as the trio must choose whether this individual is a friend or foe while a town filled with locals, visitors and three Trackers face death.

The latest Ghost Trackers paranormal mystery is an engaging tale with the protagonists searching for a deadly ghost. Some of the breathing support cast is stereotypical, but the lead trio and the key ghosts are fully developed. Fans will enjoy the hunt for the lethal spirit and the twist of who is the catalyst as this is a fun ghost hunting and busting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Lady and Her Magic-Tammy Falkner

A Lady and Her Magic

Tammy Falkner

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402268120

In 1817 the widow Duke of Robinsworth, Ashley Trimble struggles with the temper tantrums of his daughter Anne. At the same time Sophia Thorn is told she will lose her wings if she fails to help the petulant child. She arranges to meet father and daughter when she intervenes during an incident and calms down raging Anne to Ashley’s shock.

Not long after their first encounter, Sophia and her grandma obtain invitations to a house party hosted by Robinsworth. He is already attracted to her, but she reciprocates when she hears him play the piano with passion. As they fall in love, Sophia knows the cost of loving a mortal is while Ashley fears her reaction when she learns everyone believes he killed his wife.

A Lady and Her Magic is a charming Regency romantic fantasy starring star-crossed lovers and a horde of mischievous matchmakers and match breakers. Fast-paced from the first meeting between the scandalized duke, the raging daughter and the feisty fae until the final scandalous encounter; sub-genre fans who enjoy something whimsically different will appreciate Tammy Falkner’s marvelous magical mayhem.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Steel-Bec McMaster

Kiss of Steel

Bec McMaster

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402270277

In London, Honoria Todd hides in the dangerous Whitechapel slums from the Echelon as she tries to keep her siblings safe and alive. However, anyone foolish or desperate enough to enter Whitechapel must deal with the master of this slum Blade, infected with the identical vampiric virus as the Echelon.

Blade lives to destroy the beast who changed him. When he realizes that same monster pursues the Todd trio, he decodes innocent Honoria would be a perfect lure. However, the one problem with his otherwise sacrificial scheme is he also needs her blood. All changes when a monster enters Whitechapel, as Blade will do anything including letting her go to keep his beloved Honoria (and her siblings) safe.

Kiss of Steel is an enjoyable steampunk horror thriller starring a vivid radically different London and two seemingly opposite protagonists. Fast-paced, readers will root for the brave intelligent heroine while unsure of the motives of the master of Whitechapel. Filled with action and especially vile villains with the one being particularly evil, fans will enjoy Bec McMaster’s strong opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402270277

In London, Honoria Todd hides in the dangerous Whitechapel slums from the Echelon as she tries to keep her siblings safe and alive. However, anyone foolish or desperate enough to enter Whitechapel must deal with the master of this slum Blade, infected with the identical vampiric virus as the Echelon.

Blade lives to destroy the beast who changed him. When he realizes that same monster pursues the Todd trio, he decodes innocent Honoria would be a perfect lure. However, the one problem with his otherwise sacrificial scheme is he also needs her blood. All changes when a monster enters Whitechapel, as Blade will do anything including letting her go to keep his beloved Honoria (and her siblings) safe.

Kiss of Steel is an enjoyable steampunk horror thriller starring a vivid radically different London and two seemingly opposite protagonists. Fast-paced, readers will root for the brave intelligent heroine while unsure of the motives of the master of Whitechapel. Filled with action and especially vile villains with the one being particularly evil, fans will enjoy Bec McMaster’s strong opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Daughter of the Sword-Steve Bein

Daughter of the Sword

Steve Bein

Roc, Oct 2 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780451464774

In the Heisei Era Year 22 (2010 in the Julian calendar), Tokyo Police Detective Sergeant Oshiro Mariko works in the narcotics division where her superiors and peers believe no female belongs. Her direct reports boss Lieutenant Hashimoto is particularly hostile towards her as he treats her with disdain and gives her the dregs of assignments.

Hashimoti tasks Mariko to investigate a failed attempted robbery of a centuries-old samurai sword. She finds out the blade is one of three forged by the legendary Master Inazuma, whose swords allegedly contain magic. Mariko also learns the secret history of Inazuma’s magical swords as she begins to believe she is the latest chosen warrior using one even as the power threatens to destroy her.

This is a great police procedural urban fantasy that deftly rotates between Mariko in present day Japan and other warriors in past eras; the deep background in the various time periods enables readers to tell the taut storyline is real. Fast-paced from the moment Mariko starts her official inquiry into the failed theft and never slowing down, readers will the first Fated Blades thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Little Star-John Ajvide Lindqvist, Marlaine Delargy (translator)

Little Star

John Ajvide Lindqvist, Marlaine Delargy (translator)

Dunne, Oct 2 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780312620516

In 1992 failed rocker Lennart Cederstom seeks mushrooms in the woods when a BMW comes driving at high speed past him. He soon finds a bag, a grave and a howling baby with a perfect E pitch. Lennart brings the abandoned infant home where he and his wife Laila discuss what to do with the child. They agree to raise the child they name Theres as their own.

Years later languid teen Theres murders his adoptive parents. She moves in with her older adoptive brother ex-con Jerry in Stockholm. Also recognizing the quality of her voice, Jerry enters Theres in a national singing competition on TV. Another adolescent outsider sees Theres on the show and recognizes a kindred spirit. Teresa goes to meet Theres and when they do, they turn Sweden into their personal battleground.

This is a well written violent satire that mocks pop music, pop teens, pop websites and pop bullies. The two females come across as real amoral soulless individuals. They chillingly kill anyone in their path in a sort of bloodier Bonnie and Bonnie (no Clyde need apply) as they make Thelma and Louise look like nuns. Fast-paced, readers who enjoy something different (and gory) will appreciate the tea for two.

Harriet Klausner

The Unincorporated Future-Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

The Unincorporated Future

Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

Tor, Aug 21 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765328816

When the only Unincorporated Man Justin Cord was assassinated, Sandra O’Toole replaced him as leader of the Outer Alliance. The group’s personal freedom message resonates strongly among colonists living in the Asteroid Belt and the orbs beyond. The United Human Federation control Mars and earth with every person under corporate control.

Thus UHF President Hektor Sambianco remains steadfast with his quest to destroy the freedom rebels even if millions must die. The war is bloody, but OA General J.D. Black overcomes the overwhelming resourcing advantages of UHF with ingenious strategy leading to victories though his opponent brutal brilliant Admiral Samuel Trang proves a strong leader too. As millions die, O’Toole wonders if victory is worth the cost of human extinction; while Sambianco pushes victory at any cost. Meanwhile unbeknownst to either side, artificial intelligences are in a civil war whether to help or exterminate the humans.

The final unincorporated science fiction is an exciting finish to a strong thought provoking outer space thriller. The storyline is action-packed while also looking deep at the timely morality of war with leaders knowingly sending pawns to die as well as civilian deaths. Although more military than political-social themes of the previous works (see The Unincorporated War, The Unincorporated Man and The Unincorporated Woman), fans will enjoy this entry; as Stalin stated” “'when one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics”; when millions die…

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Demoness of Waking Dreams-Stephanie Chong

The Demoness of Waking Dreams

Stephanie Chong

Mira, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313144

The war between angels and demons has heated up with each side unconcerned with collateral damage to humans as the “good” species believes the end justifies the means and the “wicked” side echoes that sentiment. Complicating matters for both enemies is loyalty apparently has a price.

A decade ago, police officer Brendan Clarkson was murdered. He became a guardian angel, but his mortal time as a cop drives him to hunt the deadliest killers. His current target is deadly devious demoness Luciana Rossetti who escaped Satan’s hell centuries ago and has been on a vengeance vendetta ever since. Luciana is aware that Brendan stalks her so she sets a trap to take him down in Venice. When they collide, neither is prepared for that messy mortal miasma of love to confuse their achieving their respective goal.

The latest Company of Angels romantic urban fantasy (see Where Demons Fear To Tread) is a superb paranormal species-gender war between two kick butt opponents who make readers believe in the Chong mythos. Fast-paced, readers will wonder how this star-crossed relationship will play out as love and war merges and divides the fully developed lead pair.

Harriet Klausner

The Uninvited-Heather Graham

The Uninvited

Heather Graham

Mira, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313700

In Philadelphia assistant history Professor Allison Leigh works as a tour guide at the Tarleton-Dandridge House. The docent wears attire similar to what Lucy Tarleton wore in 1777 when British General Lord Brian “Beast” Bradley murdered her before occupying the mansion. Everyone remarks how close a resemblance Allison has with the portrait of Lucy.

While shutting down, Allison finds another guide Julian Mitchell dead with his head on Bradley’s desk; the victim was killed by the Revolutionary War era bayonet he held. At the same time at a hospital, a guest Todd insists a ghost followed him and his now comatose dad from the Tarleton-Dandridge House to their hotel. Former Texas Ranger turned FBI Krewe unit agent Tyler Montague arrives to investigate the homicide and the coma. Allegedly the Beast’s portrait has killed many people over the decades though Tyler doubts a painting can murder anyone. Allison is livid that the Feds sent in a ghostbuster though she is attracted to the special agent as he is to the historian. As they team up, the two skeptics fall in love but begin to believe in malevolent ghosts.

The latest Krewe of Hunters paranormal romance (see The Unspoken and The Unholy) is an exhilarating whodunit with the murder investigation superseding the love subplot. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy a Krewe tour of Philadelphia as Heather Graham deftly mingles ghosts, murder and love.

Harriet Klausner

Dance with the Devil-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dance with the Devil

Sherrilyn Kenyon

St. Martin's, Sep 4 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781250009135

Zarek the Dark Hunter was banished to Alaska as punishment for his failure to protect humans under his shield from those who want mankind eradicated, but instead his charges were murdered. He expected Artemis to eventually kill him for this fiasco, but his immediate supervisor Acheron pleaded for his life. Thus Artemis, showing rare compassion has kept Zarek in frozen isolation for centuries until now.

Judgment time has arrived for Zarek. Artemis feels he must die, but Acheron disagrees and suggests an unbiased person rule on Zarek. They choose Astrid, the nymph of Justice and the youngest of the Fates, who is sent to determine whether Zarek is truly innocent of what happened. Meanwhile the immortal Thanatos is coming for Zarek, who he blames for the death of his wife nine hundred years ago.

This is a reprint of a deep Dark Hunter fantasy that uses figures from mythology to anchor the storyline. Dance with the Devil is a powerful story that makes believers of skeptics that Ancient Gods and Goddesses, Dark Hunters, Dayslayers, and other mythological characters walk among us. The romance between Zarek and Astrid is brilliantly handled as both start as adversaries with her judging his merit, but soon want an eternity together. This is another fine myth that a romantic Fantasy Lover will cherish

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bloodstar: Star Corpsman-Ian Douglas

Bloodstar: Star Corpsman

Ian Douglas

Harper Voyager, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061894763

The Salvationists colonized Bloodworld in the Bloodstar system as a perfect hell where the fundamentalist group can suffer penitence for mankind’s sins. However, the enigmatic Qesh make initial contact on this hostile volcanic planet when they attack the fanatics who are divided whether to fight the demons or except punishment.

Humans first learned about the existence of the nomadic Qesh several decades ago, but found very little information on these migratory race who devour planets. The interstellar Fleet Marine Force sends Bravo Company including the Black Wizards to Bloodworld to battle the hostile Qesh. Black Wizards Navy Medic Elliot Carlyle has not completed his training when he sent with the Black Wizards to Qesh where the rookie with no combat medicine experience becomes the salvation or extinction of mankind.

This is an excellent futuristic military science fiction as Ian Douglas provides several fascinating societal issues inside of an action-packed thriller. Readers will ponder over the prejudice against reanimated humans, the rights of an outside the mainstream religious sects’ right to sacrifice conflicting with the greater society sent to protect them, and first contact complexities. Elliot is a terrific protagonist who struggles to do his job and the right thing; though that at times seems impossible. Readers will appreciate the opening Bloodstar salvo that combines a fast-paced tale with thought provoking concepts.

Harriet Klausner

Chosen-Sable Grace


Sable Grace

Avon, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0062079640

Several weeks have passed since Kyana, then a Dark Breed hybrid Vampyre-Lychen living in St. Augustine, became the Chosen Goddess of the Hunt (see Bedeviled). Residing in Olympus, though she feels unworthy and unready, her predecessor Artemis mentors her. Kyana’s relationship with Ryker the Chosen God of Gods is going strong.

Haven informs Kyana he will soon die as evil Cronus escaped incarceration and begins enlisting a horde to kill his rebellious offspring and their supporters and allies. She knows once a Tracker always a Tracker so Kyana plans to find and end Cronus’ reign of terror. Unhappy with what his beloved intends to do, Ryker insists on accompanying her even into Hades.

This is a great urban fantasy as readers anticipate the confrontation between the bad and the ugly (there is no good) in most likely Hades, St. Augustine or both. Kyana has matured since Ascension as a person and as a fighter as she is not as quick to charge the hill as a berserker in a rage but now remains calm and strategically thinking. With homage to Greek mythology and Kirby’s DC comics New Gods, fans will appreciate the loving couple taking the fight to Cronus.

Harriet Klausner

Savage Redemption-Alexis Morgan

Savage Redemption

Alexis Morgan

Harlequin Nocturne, Aug 21 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885534

Chief of security at the O'Day estate, human-vampire chancellor Conlan Shea knows he has the position due to his friend Joss being married to Rafferty O’Day the vampire as no one hires a disgraced ex-convict for such a job. When a firefight ignites just outside the gate, Shea races to the scene. Outside lying prone is an injured person; lying there is Kat Karr and nearby her two young nieces (eight years old Rose and five years old Maggie). Three years ago Karr cost Shea his heart and left him to rot in prison for two years.

Councilman Cyrus Eddington is irate that his mercenaries may have left Karr alive and her nieces inside the highly protected O’Day compound. The Coalition has a death warrant on Karr for her firebombing her lab and killing a fellow scientist so O’Day will have to tell chief investigator Ambrose O’Brien that she is at his estate. Karr informs O’Day with Shea listening she was hoping he would protect her nieces who have no one else as their parents and grandparents are dead and soon so will she. Eddington calls O’Day accusing him of harboring a killer and threatening sanctions that would cripple the clan. Unaware of what is going on and needing to protect the clan, Shea flees with Karr to prove she is innocent or die trying.

This is a superb action-packed romantic fantasy starring two likable protagonists and a strong support cast. Fast-paced from the opening firefight until the final confrontation, readers will enjoy going on the lam with Shea and Karr inside the Morgan mythos (see Vampire Vendetta) as they elude Eddington’s horde while seeking evidence that exonerates the heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Shifter's Destiny-Anna Leonard

Shifter's Destiny

Anna Leonard

Harlequin Nocturne, Aug 21 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885541

With their family dead from the flu, in New England, Elizabeth Sweet fears the Community leader Ray will claim her younger sister Maggie as his ward and she will never be free of him Thus Libby and Maggie try to escape from the Community, but the Elders never allow anyone to leave. Men grab the siblings only to have a white form charge through the trees and slam into the males. The form is a horse who allows the females to get on its back before fleeing with them. The Sweet sisters are stunned when the steed stops and they see the horn.

The unicorn turns out to be Josh the shapeshifter who must fulfill his legacy with a virgin bride before the rut of his lower head takes over, but to his chagrin is attracted to “impure” Libby. However, Josh also knows the siblings need protection as the Community purses them to kill the older sibling and bring back the younger one to their leader.

This is an exciting shifter romance filled with plenty of action. The fast-paced storyline grips the audience, but it is the lead trio who keeps the readers’ attention; as Josh is heroic, Libby sacrificial, and Maggie brave and humorous. With a late twist that some fans will dislike (I liked the timely simplistic symbolism), fans will enjoy Shifter’s Destiny.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guile of Dragons-James Enge

Guile of Dragons

James Enge

PYR, Aug 24 2912, $17.95

ISBN 9781616146283

In the Whitehorns, the Longest War between the Seven Clans of dwarves of Thrymhaiam and the dragons went unabated seemingly forever beneath the Northhold. When the dragons gain new allies in the dead kings of Cor and the masked gods of Fate and Chaos, victory seems imminent as they cut off their enemies from the Graith of Guardians as they kill many dwarves; take numerous prisoners; and change some with their evil dragonspells. The dwarves’ stronghold Northhold is on the brink of collapse.

The last hope for the dwarves is Morlock Ambrosius, son of traitor Merlin Ambrosius (and Nimue Viviana). However, Summoner Earno thinks Morlock betrays the dwarves like his sire did when shipments stop and Guardians vanish. Morlock and his foster father Tyr syr Theorn try to discover who is betraying the dwarves when the lad learns the true secrets of the Longest War.

The first book in the latest Morlock Tournament of Shadows fantasy is an exhilarating prequel thriller that showcases the escapades of the hero as a young dwarf (before his later adventures - see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). In many ways Morlock is more fascinating in this epic as he considers himself a son of syr Theornthan the legendary Merlin. Readers will appreciate the action-packed storyline as Morlock may be the last savior of the dwarves but has to constantly prove his loyalty.

Harriet Klausner

Reaper-K. D. McEntire


K. D. McEntire

PYR, Aug 24 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781616146320

While at the hospital visiting comatose Eddie Barry, she promised his late dad she would find his lost spirit cord but failed so far, Wendy helps the ghost of a girl who just died go into the light. Just one month before her mom The White Lady went insane when her soul shred into pieces and she tried to kill her and First Rider Piotr.

Now that her mom has moved on and Piotr left with his own issues to resolve, Wendy continues to help spirits move into the light. However, she must deal with a maternal family of Reapers she only recently learned existed; these relatives are unhappy and envious of her Lightbringer skill that is more powerful than any of theirs. She also believes she must stop the Walkers from eating any more of the youthful innocent Lost. Finally with the Riders disbanded and the White Lady gone, the Council takes control of Next. With no one covering her back, Wendy becomes a target by those who covet her power.

The second Lightbringer fantasy is a terrific thriller that expands the McEntyre mythos in surprising but enjoyable ways. The storyline starts slow but fascinating with the hospital banter setting the Ghost Whisperer tone before accelerating into a faster than light tale. Readers will relish Reaper as no respite for weary Wendy as several adversaries want to dine on her soul or pass her through the light.

Harriet Klausner

The Judas Line-Mark Everett Stone

The Judas Line

Mark Everett Stone

Camel Press, September 1 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781603819015

Assassination and perfidy are in the DNA of Olivier Deschamps. However, unlike his extended family who thrives on the thrill of the kill and power of betrayal, Oliver is weary of murder and treachery by his siblings who are encouraged by their sire’s belief in survival of the deadliest. He steals his family’s secret weapon the evil Silver ancient artifact before changing his name to Jude Oliver and vanishing.

Over the next fifteen years Jude keeps a low profile having made only one friend Father Mike Engle since he deserted his family. Olivier’s vile distaff side cousin Burke arrives and kills his neighbor with a bite before using a knife and magic to attack his relative in order to claim Silver. Instead Jude kills Burke followed by the Patron Voice of “him” on his phone demanding he bring home the Silver. A desperate Jude visits Mike to tell him that he needs to find the one goodness artifact that can destroy Silver. With adversaries wanting the Silver and them dead, and allies offering help, the former assassin and the priest begin a trek to find the Holy Grail and perhaps holiness within their souls.

This is an exciting Christian fantasy starring a fascinating pair on a quest to eliminate evil. Their engaging journey introduces the duo and readers to demons, angels and biblical protagonists like Cain. Fast-paced and bloody, fans will enjoy the aptly titled The Judas Line as Mark Everett Stone provides a fabulous thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fear the Darkness-Alexandra Ivy

Fear the Darkness

Alexandra Ivy

Zebra, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781420111378

Having spent much of her life incarcerated by a demon lord, Cassandra the prophetess struggles to cope with the visions that always leave her vulnerable as others want to use her skill for their purposes.

Caine the former drug dealer in his previous life has returned with an obsessive need to keep Cassie safe. He wants his charge, but vows not to act on his desire as Caine fears he would harm Cassie who he knows deserves better. Having needs she never felt before, Cassie refuses to allow Caine to ignore their attraction. When she jumps his bones, he cannot stop her. Soon afterward, based on a dire vision, Cassie, fearing for Caine’s life, runs away from her protector. He follows leading to the Dark Lord’s horde capturing both of them while their allies prepare to rescue them.

This Guardians of Eternity paranormal romance (see Bound by Darkness) is a super thriller starring two Weres dealing poorly with their relationship while confronting the Dark Lord’s malevolent minion. Fast-paced, series fans will enjoy the battle between the forces of good (including stars of previous entries, which behooves newcomers to read previous books first) and evil as the Dark Lord appears on the brink of crossing into this dimension.

Harriet Klausner

Fair Game-Taylor Keating

Fair Game

Taylor Keating

Tor, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780765365491

The world is a terrible place to live with disease and fighting seemingly everywhere. Game designer River Weston uses her programming skills enhanced by her Fae magic to create the Hollow Man that keeps soldiers and other humans safe during combat. However, the program proves unsafe when it releases a virus that merges with a human virus into an unstoppable super-virus.

At the same time Guardian Chase “Hawk” Hawkins, having spent time on the astral plane, has returned to his body. He and his unit head to earth to destroy technology before technology destroys earth. Hawk also comes for his beloved former cell mate River who has inadvertently escalated the destruction pace.

The third Guardian dark urban fantasy is an exciting thriller that behooves the audience to have read the previous tales (see Mind Games and Game Over). The entertaining storyline focuses on combatting a new threat to the decimated earth while initially placing Hawk and River on opposite sides of the save the earth either to technology or not to technology. Readers will enjoy the return of this pair as earth is Fair Game.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 17, 2012

Devil Said Bang-Richard Kadrey

Devil Said Bang

Richard Kadrey

Harper Voyager, Aug 28 2012

ISBN: 9780062094575

Avenging Nephilim James “Sandman Slim” Stark sarcastically thinks what a hell of a way to escape from hell (the second time around). To his chagrin the monster killing monster has become a cosmic joke as the new Lucifer (see Aloha From Hell); a job with more paperwork than a government agency. Stark loathes being Hell’s top hell-raiser but also knows with his new armor comes a crosshair encouraging the wannabe horde (from heaven, hell and points in between and outside) to challenge for the filled leadership position.

To escape the bureaucratic work, Stark returns to Los Angeles, which can be more hellish than hell. He soon learns of a serial killing ghost terrorizing the city and worse his angelic side that he needs to become whole again has vanished inside of the lost days as a cabal rewrites reality. Maybe Milton is partially right that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve” on earth.

The forth dark Sandman Slim fantasy is a fabulous sarcastic satire that humorously continues to mock society and organized religion though at a diminished rate compared to the end of days’ twister of Aloha From Hell; as nothing remains sacred inside of the Kadrey pantheon. Action-packed with a nourish feel to the storyline, Sandman Slim learns for the second time you can’t go home when someone can alter reality.

Harriet Klausner

Black Bottle-Anthony Huso

Black Bottle

Anthony Huso

Tor, Aug 21 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765325174

Lovers Caliph Howl the blood mathematician mage and Sena Iilool adept of the Shradnæ witches control Stonehold. However, during the combat, Caliph died and soon afterward Sena, using an incantation from the ancient Cisrym Ta tome, brought him back to life.

Word spreads to the nearby empires in the south whose monarchs want the Cisrym Ta and will sacrifice anyone to obtain it. Arriving from Pandragor, Taelin Rae wants to establish the Nenuln Church in Stonehold but feels she must kill the evil Sena who is an affront to God. At a time when Caliph is expected to attend a regional leader summit, a plague has crippled Stonehold and there is the enigmatic Uncle Nathaniel, who works in mysterious ways as he assists his nephew with ancient enemies.

The sequel to The Last Page is an entertaining but convoluted high tech fantasy with much of the action occurring from passive sources like dreams and books. Caliph and Sena are courageous champions while the mystery of Nathaniel enhances the tale. Still not for everyone, fans who relish the convergence of math, science and fantasy in a complicated but difficult to follow thriller will enjoy Anthony Huso's blood magic.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Riveted-Meljean Brook


Meljean Brook

Berkley, Sep 4 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780425256046

Several years ago, Annika Fridasdottor inadvertently placed at risk Iceland when she revealed the mechanical secrets that protect the island from the Horde and other invaders. However, her sister Källa said she was culpable and was exiled from Iceland. Filled with guilt, Annika took a position on the airship Phaeton in search of her sibling.

Years ago an experiment went bad leaving David Kentewess without the use of his legs and a hand, and left his mother dead. Physically, David lives a normal life due to nanoagents and prosthetics while working as a volcanologist. Emotionally he misses his beloved mother; so for two decades David obsessively needed to complete her last request to return her to her home Hannasvik, but has lost hope of ever succeeding though he keeps trying. Booking passage on the Phaeton, David meets Annika and thinks he recognizes the accent he last heard so many years ago. However, instead of exposing her as he threatens to do, David and Annika are stranded on a fjord with an obsessed maniac in pursuit.

The latest Iron Seas romantic steampunk fantasy (The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel) is a superb thriller that grips the reader with the conflicting obsessive quests of the protagonists with each on a personal mission that makes them enemies who initially judge the other as unworthy. Filled with action on the ship and the glacier, fans will be Riveted by Meljean Brooks’ latest adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Queen of Wands-John Ringo

Queen of Wands

John Ringo

Baen, Aug 7 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451637892

In Algomo, Mississippi devout Christian Barbara Everette is a soccer mom raising three kids (Allison, Jason and Brooke) and a husband Mark who appears to be in charge. Barbara asks Mark if she can take a needed respite from the family, which he approves as he assumes she will take a few days in Gulfport to clear her head. Instead, the Foundation for Love and Universal Faith (FLUF) agent has been hearing voices and seeing demons riding on people unaware of them. Barb assigns her oldest offspring teenage Allison to run the house while she is away.

Barb consults with sexagenarian FLUF agent Sharice Rickels who tells her she has gained the Gifts of the Sight of demons and the Ear of the thoughts of demons and other creatures. FLUF operative and Special Circumstance FBI consultant Augustus Germaine asks Barb and Sharice to come to Chattanooga where Asatru priestess Doris "Janea" Grisham is near death because her ka has been removed from her body. FBI Agent Kurt Spornberger arrives from Atlanta working the Madness cases as he and the FLUF operatives head to Moccasin Bend Mental Health Facility where evil abounds with walking dead people who lost their ka and ba. As Janea fights for her existence, Barb and associates fight to prevent a zombie takeover.

The sequel to Princess of Wands is a fun urban fantasy starring two intrepid heroines fighting evil on different planes though the book comes across more like three interrelated satirical tales rather than a novel. Mindful of Julie Kenner’s amusing Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom but bloodier and gorier, fans will enjoy the adventures of Barb and Janea even with an odd ending.

Harriet Klausner

Brachman's Underworld- Vlad Vaslyn

Brachman's Underworld

Vlad Vaslyn

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jun 10 2012, $17.13

ISBN: 9781463698911

Raging Delilah Brachman visits Lowell General Hospital to see her dying father the colonel; whom she has not seen in twelve years. He apologizes for pushing her away when she was twenty, but Del tells him to stuff his too late at being there for her. Still she gives him hope that she forgives him but sarcastically dashes it with euphoria that he is dying. Del leaves only to get caught with a little boy in a crossfire between cops and a felon; she shields the child with her body.

When Del awakens she learns the only decent thing she did in her miserable life has given her temporary in-betweener status with six days to find a way to avoid oblivion. Her ticket is to ride the Tuesday Train while awaiting judgment. In her take no prisoners style Delilah battles Noc the diabolical lonely demon and Honest Jack the torturer. Combating this pair and other hellish, heavenly and outside entities is child’s play for acerbic Del who holds all with contempt as she rips asunder horns and halos by tearing away their veneer. However, Del faces internal strife when she meets Lucy who offered her friendship and is attracted to Kevin as her manta is the only good relationship is no relationship.

Sarcastic Delilah brings freshness to the afterlife in Other Lowell and Lowell with her attitude towards others humans, demons, believers, etc. as she makes Don Rickles seem more like Mother Theresa. Readers will surprisingly go from believing Del gets what she wrought to empathizing with her as her emotional defense mechanism in life and death is hammering others. The acrimonious protagonist makes Brachman's Underworld a unique reading experience.

Harriet Klausner

Dragon’s Moon-Lucy Monroe

Dragon’s Moon

Lucy Monroe

Berkley, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780425246627

In 1142 Scotland, three Chrechte, Faolwolf shifters (Galen, his twelve years old sister Ciara, and Luon) are on the sacred hunting grounds when they accost two young raven shifters. Galen and Luon threaten the frightened pair to the horror of Ciara when a roaring dragon kills the two males. A shocked Ciara rushes home but when she informs her mom that Galen is dead, her mother commits suicide. Grieving for her losses, Ciara vows to never love anyone again.

In 1149 Scotland, Ciara meets Ean Prince Eirik, the only known dragon shifter who she hates for killing her loved ones seven years ago. However, Ciara knows from her dreams she must find the lost wolves’ sacred stone or the Chrechte race will become extinct. To accomplish her quest she needs help, which only Eirik can provide.

The fourth Children of the Moon romantic historical fantasy (see Moon Craving and Moon Burning) is a superb medieval paranormal Scottish Highlands thriller. The quest is riveting while the romance between enemies gripping (including other couples). However, it is the deep look at shifter subcultures that make for a powerful thriller while more mall murders follow.

Harriet Klausner

Archangel’s Storm-Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Storm

Nalini Singh

Berkley, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246580

Overlooking the Hudson at the home of Raphael the Archangel, Dmitri the added almost millennium old vampire and Honor Archangel’s Blade the powerful Guild Hunter ancient language expert marry (see Archangel’s Blade for their adventure). During the reception, Raphael’s spymaster Jason the angel learns that Archangel Neha’s consort Eris was murdered. Compounding the horrific timing is Neha was already certifiable, but now grief further drives the archangel over the edge.

To prevent a Neha rage that would devastate earth killing the innocent, Jason offers to find the killer. Having been betrayed by her late consort and her sister years ago, Neha agrees with the stipulation that Jason blood vows to her niece, offspring of Nivriti and Eris. As Jason and Mahiya investigate though wary of one another, more homicides follow.

The latest Guild Hunter romantic urban fantasy (see Archangel’s Consort) is a terrific whodunit as two distrusting souls fall in love but never lose sight of the mission. Fast-paced from the moment Jason learns of the murder, readers will enjoy visiting the vivid Singh realm as time is running out on planet earth as we know it.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Kingdom's Fall-Douglas R. Brown

A Kingdom's Fall

Douglas R. Brown

Rhemalda Publishing, Aug 1 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781936850556

In their thirst for oil for their war machines, the ruthless Tek invaders brutally devastated Epertase and annihilated Lithia. Taking advantage of the chaos of the crippling victory, Gildonese King Fice annexes land with his goal to become the ruler of the kingdom of Epertase. Besides his army, Fice uses his uncanny otherworldly talent to sway others even enemies to support his royal claim.

Epertase Queen Alina finds her nation has no time to heal from the invasion as a revolt from within has split the kingdom. Alina barely survives assassination attempts from allegedly loyal trusted advisors and supporters. Her only hope for her country resides with the hero of the Tek War, Rasi the former Epertase warrior turned anti-war farmer.

The second Light of Epertase military fantasy is a superb thriller that grips fans (especially those who read the exciting Legend's Reborn) from start to finish. Once again Douglas R. Brown makes a powerful case that war is hell and should never be glamorized especially by armchair chicken hawks who send others to die. Mindful of Harold of Wessex having fought a powerful enemy force just before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (see, readers will relish the action-packed A Kingdom’s Fall.

Harriet Klausner

The Annals of the Omega Project-Thomas A. Cahill

The Annals of the Omega Project

Thomas A. Cahill

EditPros LLC, Jun 24 2012, $19.95

ISBN: 9781937317034

University of California, Merced Physics Professor Ken O'Neal flies from Sacramento to Denver musing how he already misses his wife of thirteen years Jill who remained behind due to a seminar. On the flight he appreciates the flair and attention attendant Michelle Kolberg gives to everyone on board. Twenty-four years old Michelle likes people even as she muses over whether she is the only virgin flight attendant. However, she suddenly sees herself though his eyes and likewise he sees himself through hers. Both are stunned by this telepathic connection and begin to search for other sensitive souls.

The pair creates the Omega Project at Merced. However, their good intentions come to the attention by Covens who employ mind control to feed off the brains of telepaths. When the brain of student Bonny is assaulted, war explodes between the benign Omega and the ruthless Covens led by Emil who kills without a thought while the wild card is Gypsies.

The key to this exciting good and evil battle is that in war innocent pawns die as the not pure Gypsies learn the hard way. Each side is 200 proof of either pure goodness or vile evilness; as the bad guys have centuries of experience and no moral compass while the heroes suffer doubts and guilt. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate these two adversarial visions of telepathic use.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Woodcutter’s Grim series Volume II-Karen Wiesner

Woodcutter’s Grim series Volume II

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek, Sep 2012

ISBN: 9781105200663

“Moonlight Becomes You.” Lawyers Heather Rowe and Lance Shaussegeny have a one night stand before he leaves for his home Woodcutter’s Grim, a place he explains to her he will never be able to leave. Their tryst results in her giving birth to Gavin, a child with strange traits. He wishes his mate would come to him and believes she would not turn to his rival Eddie Underwood. When Gavin becomes ill Heather searches for Lance to help their son. Enthralling

“Bewitched.” The stranger seemed to come out of nowhere. Glynnis Shaussegeny is stunned by her attraction to Aric Sayer and him to her. However, her family is cursed so Glynnis plans on avoiding Aric; unaware that he has a terrible secret that he knows should make him avoid her. Exciting

“One Night of Eternity.” Gavin Shaussegeny knows how the family curse is deployed, but does the unthinkable when he cheats on his wife Marnie. He regrets his transgression as he loves his wife, but knows his tryst has activated the curse in which he will repeat his sin forever unless Marnie truly in her soul forgives him. Creative and poignant

“Beauty Is The Beast.” In an attempt to end his family curse, Ransom Shaussegeny turns into a werewolf trapped inside the beast. Tess Moore is the beauty he falls in love with, but deep in his heart believes she could never love a monster like him. Heartwarming.

The second Woodcutter's Grim anthology contains four excellent paranormal romances in which members of the cursed Shaussegeny family meet their beloved mates. Each tale is loosely based on a fairy tale as Karen Wiesner provides fresh adult renditions in a fabulous collection.

Harriet Klausner

Primal Possession-Katie Reus

Primal Possession

Katie Reus

Signet, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237781

Residents of serene Fontana, North Carolina are shocked by the hideous activity of the Anti-Paranormal League. The APL has invoked a campaign of hate crimes against the paranormal and terrorist attacks against human civilians who live in harmony with the supernatural residents of Fontana.

The APL target human December McIntyre for her acceptance of shifters although she still struggles with what one of them did to her sibling and with her attraction to Liam Armstrong; he realizes at first sight she is his mate. Knowing she needs protection from these home-grown terrorists, December turns to the shifter pack number two Liam. As they fall in love, Liam risks his life to keep his December safe.

The latest Moon Shifter romantic urban fantasy (see Alpha Instinct) is a superb take that makes the paranormal seem normal through the actions of the APL and several local allies. Action-packed, readers will empathize with December as her traumatic memory of what a shifter did to her family and other fears of their kind battle with her love and feeling safe with him. Katie Reus writes a wonderful winning thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Girl of Nightmares-Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares

Kendare Blake

Tor Teen, Aug 7 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780765328663

Six months ago on mortal time, Anna Korlov dragged the lethal Obeahman through a portal to Hell she opened. Thus she saved the lives of her former boyfriend teenage ghost hunter Cas Lowood and his friends Thomas and Carmel, but sacrificed herself as to accomplish the feat of yanking the monster into Hell she had to go there too (see Anna Dressed In Blood).

Grief enhanced by survivor guilt and her sacrifice has Cas unable to accept Anna’s death. Cas believes his Anna deserves heaven, but fears she is trapped for eternity in Hell unless he can rescue her but has no idea how. Adding to his sense of trepidation is he sees and hears Anna when he dreams and even when he is awake. Persuading Thomas and Carmel to assist him, Cas begins a quest to free his Anna even though that means he will “march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause” (The Impossible Dream).

This sequel is a great horror thriller that deploys a radically different approach from the bump in the night Anna Dressed in Blood; as this time the storyline simmers with atmospheric psychological tension as Anna comes across (through Cas’ filter) frightened instead of infantry brave. Cas holds the tale together with his obsession that has his BFFs fearing for his emotional state and readers wondering whether he is projecting as a defense mechanism his fears about Anna leading to his seeing her. This is a deep thriller that fans will appreciate.

Harriet Klausner

Tamed- Douglas R. Brown


Douglas R. Brown

Rhemalda Publishing, Jan 26 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9781936850709

Bernard Henderson found his pet project on Sandalil Island off Costa Rica. He and his mercenaries catch one male though they lose part of the crew and kill other tribal members. He and his surviving team take him back to the States to begin a breeding program. Now he sells wergs as popular pets that he insists are safe and loyal to their owners in spite of these tamed animals more commonly known as werewolves. His WereHouse firm struggles to keep the supply equal to the demand.

Columbus, Ohio Fire Department emergency medical technicians Christine Alt and Billy are on call one day when a loose werg assaults them. Billy vanishes while badly cut up Christine goes to the hospital. The werg’s blood entered her system through her mouth so Christine begins to change, and now knows the truth about WereHouse’s commodity; Henderson and his crew stalk her.

Tamed is a fascinating, action-packed urban fantasy that grips readers from the opening scene off Costa Rica (mindful of Jurassic Park’s locale) and never slows down until the final confrontation. Along the way, Douglas R. Brown provides strong societal messages on consumer protection against the big bad capitalist werewolves and their advertisers who can sell dreck as the outcome of healthy nutrition to people, the prevention of animal and human cruelty. Although the entertaining storyline turns from a fresh take on the werewolf mythos into a more standard hunt theme, readers will enjoy werewolves as pets.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days-Saranna DeWylde

How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days

Saranna DeWylde

Kensington Brava, Aug 28 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9780758269157

Grace summons Caspian a crown prince of Hell. He calls her witch and she calls him demon as they strike a deal in which she offers him sex his style and he deals with her problems caused by her former boyfriend violent Russian mobster Michael who legally gained custody of her son Nikolai.

As they team up to send Michael and his demon defender Ethelred on one-way tickets to hell, the witch and the crown prince find the sex heavenly. Grace and Caspian begin to wonder if there is any future beyond the bloody contract while dealing with his heated boss, her bewitching family, the avenging spirit of a hooker, and the Russian mafia.

This is an amusing erotic paranormal romance although the horde of characters requires a scorecard to decide who is on whose side as the cast can overwhelm the plot; hell it is hard to tell who is real or a demon Memorex moment. The twisting storyline is fun while there is also a serious undertone involving violence against women. Fans will enjoy the skin ripping banter between the demon and the witch as we learn “Faust never got laid.”

Harriet Klausner

Born to Bite-Hannah Howell, Diana Cosby, and Erica Ridley

Born to Bite

Hannah Howell, Diana Cosby, and Erica Ridley

Kensington, Aug 28 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780758273437

“Never Been Bitten” by Erica Riley. In 1830 England, Lydia Breckenridge hires Ellie Ramsey to prove that Martainn “Cain” Macane is a vampire. They dance and he goes to take a nip, but she bites him instead. Cain is shocked by her action and more so when she vanishes with no one remembering seeing her except Cain.

“Dark Secret” by Hannah Howell. In 1514, orphaned Murdina Dunbar learns she has a cousin Adeline who took a bairn and fled into the hills to be with the MacNachton clan. However, she finds no new clues so she stops at Dunnantinny Keep to earn money as a maid and seek new information. Laird Sir Ranald Dumfries directs Murdina to spy on guest Sir Gillanders Baldwin who he thinks is a MacNachton demon. Unable to resist Gillanders kisses her and believes she is his mate as he stalks Ranald for killing his cousin

“Highland Moon” by Diana Cosby. In 1297, healer Rowan Campbell flees from men calling her a witch. She helps a man trapped inside of a stone circle. Aedan MacGregor says he is a poisoned vampire who needs to drink her blood, which she reluctantly allows. Tasting the blood, he knows she is his mate. Aedan tells her he will protect her though he has a traitor to catch. They make love and he is stunned when she glitters as if she is fey.

The entries are entertaining historical vampire romances though the thin storylines are similar with an innocent female unaware of the existence of vampires and sensitive lead males assisting them with their transition.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Slow Apocalypse-John Varley

Slow Apocalypse

John Varley

Ace, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780441017577

Eddie Parker worked on bacteria that would clean up oil spills and from there he soon became part of the Prometheus Project to increase oil production via enhancing pressure. However, Eddie conceals his secret agenda to unleash a bacterium that solidifies Saudi Arabian oil for what the country’s terrorists did on 9/11. At the Ghawar oil reserve, Eddie releases his destruction. Eddie’s plan deploys perfectly except for one minor nuisance. The solidification fails to stop in the Arabian Peninsula as the bacteria goes internationally viral.

In Southern California, screenwriter Dave Marshall learns from a government insider friend that his script on oil actually is happening around the globe. As he prepares to keep his family safe from the worst that is coming, the world collapses into deadly local chaos.

This is an entertaining post-apocalyptic thriller in which the Marshall plan leads to a happy solution for him, his family and his friends as fans will appreciate how much oil is a cog in the modern world and not just as a fuel. However, with the focus on an affluent in the know protagonist, the pandemic impact of the vanished oil implosion on the unaware and less fortunate lacking resources is not explored as that would have proven much more exciting and enlightening. Still readers will enjoy John Varley’s take on life without oil to grease the world.

Harriet Klausner

Haunted-Jeanne C. Stein


Jeanne C. Stein

Ace, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007768

Anna Strong misses her new boyfriend Stephen the reporter as Skype is good for greetings but not to exchange bodily fluids. Meanwhile her former human lover Drug Enforcement Agency agent Max informs Anna that he is worried about their friend, Culebra the shapeshifter owner of Beso de la Muerte. She has avoided Cuelbra since she learned about his life as a drug cartel assassin before he quit being a murderer after his family was killed. Additionally Anna has kept her distance from Max too after helping him on a recent case (see Crossroads).

However, Culebra’s friend Julio needs help as a cartel kidnapped his family. Culebra persuades Max to help him as the target is a drug kingpin and he wants Anna to help as as innocent civilians are involved. However, her instincts to stay out of this mission prove correct when betrayal and death stalk her.

The latest Anna Strong Vampire urban fantasy is a great stunner as revenge and redemption prove dangerous for anyone in the way. Fast-paced from the moment Culebra tells his sordid past to Anna and never slowing down; fans of the series will be stunned by this powerful twisting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Taken-Benedict Jacka


Benedict Jacka

Ace, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 978193700772-0

Everyone involved looks forward to the White Stone tournament at Fountain Reach between Light and Dark apprentice mages. At a London Starbucks, Crystal the Light mage tries to hire freelance diviner Alex Verus to provide consulting security services at the event in which she insists the Council will provide the battle mages if needed. He realizes she is a mind mage and shocks her when he declines.

The Council’s Talisad asks Alex and his apprentice Luna to investigate the disappearances of several of the tournament participants without a trace. They head to Fountain Reach where he finds to evidence of abductions but no suspects. As he realizes his enemies want him dead too, Alex protects Luna’s classmate Anne from paranormal and human assassins while concluding that a Council member probably is behind the assaults, which means whatever he does he will end up in trouble as happened when he first became exiled from the mage world.

The excellent Alex Verus urban fantasy (see Fated and Cursed) is a superb entry as the independent diviner distrusts the mage community as the Light and Dark are partisan bickerers who insist they are always right and the Council is too impractically narrow-minded. Fast-paced, once again the key this thriller is the Benedict Jack’s world of battling mages drinking coffee in Starbucks seems real.

Harriet Klausner

Endgame-Ann Aguirre


Ann Aguirre

Ace, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007744

Sirantha Jax looks forward to traversing grimspace, but leaping through time will have to wait for the moment. Having pledged to help Loras, Jax feels obligated to assist him as he tries to liberate his race, the La’hengrin, from biological slavery that limits their ability to fight back against their alien conquerors the Nicuans. Carvati’s Cure would enable the La’hengrin to fight for their freedom.

On La’heng, Jax joins the guerilla resistance to free Loras’ people though she knows her side faces seemingly insurmountable odds but though she looks forward to jumping the star roads of grimspace, she risks her life to help free an enslaved race. Six months later, the war continues with no Endgame in sight as many from both sides die with the stubborn Nicuans refusing to give up their control of the La’hengrin or the world they conquered.

The Endgame Sirantha Jax science fiction (see Aftermath and Doubleblind) is a great finish to a strong outer space saga. Fast-paced and filled with action, Ann Aguirre makes it clear that war is vicious, bloody and gory as everyone including the ethical heroine (and readers) feels they entered hell.

Harriet Klausner

Wrayth-Philippa Ballantine


Philippa Ballantine

Ace, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007751

The citizens of the Empire of Arkaym depend on the brave Order of Deacons to keep them safe from the Geists who penetrate the barrier between the normal realm and the Otherside. After the recent harrowing events in the Hive city of Orithal (see Spectyr), Deacon Sorcha Faris remains in a comatose state; she is unable to communicate with anyone including the inability to use her mental Bond to reach her partner Merrick Chambers.

Thugs trying to get at Sorcha’s lover the Young Pretender Raed, abduct the helpless Deacon. An Irate Merrick investigates the kidnapping while also is assigned to look into something new at Emperor’s court. He knows his priority as a Deacon though he is unhappy with the timing of the assignment.

The latest Book of the Order fantasy follows up with the aftermath of what happened to the lead trip in Spectryr; thus it behooves the audience to have read at least that book and preferably its predecessor Geist first. The trip mostly work apart throughout the storyline with Sorcha’s predicament obviously the most harrowing while her two males face Hobson Choices.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Of A Dream-Simon R. Green

Ghost Of A Dream

Simon R. Green

Ace, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007737

Ghost Finders teammates (JC Chance the chief, Melody Chambers the scientist and Happy Jack Palmer the telepath) remain shocked and isolated after learning that the Flesh Undying’s Bad Guys infiltrated key positions at the Carnacki Institute (see Ghost of a Smile). The trio knows they no long can depend on Carnacki for support when they “don’t take any sh*t from the Hereafter".

They currently work a haunting at the Haybarn Theater though there is no logistical support from Carnacki. However, none of the intrepid Ghost Finders realize that the theater hosts adversarial spiritual enemies including the infamous Phantom of the Haybarn staging a paranormal battle lights out show.

The latest Ghost Finders urban fantasy (see Ghost of a Chance) is an entertaining lighthearted frolic as the Haybarn becomes a supernatural OK Corral. Fast-paced and filled with action, neither the spirits nor the ghost finder team (unless you read previous entries) is three dimensional. Still fans will enjoy this entry as everyone knows the show must go on.

Harriet Klausner

Sand Witches In The Hamptons-Celia Jerome

Sand Witches In The Hamptons

Celia Jerome

Daw, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407674

Graphic novelist Willow Tate is a Visualizer, a person who can draw creatures from Otherworld, a realm in which earth mythological species live and magic is practiced. Currently she is drawing dots while trying to hide a rash and stop a bloody nose.

She also has a stalker who starts off befriending her before turning ugly. Willow makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him so he escalates his activity. She goes home to Paumonauk Harbor, Long Island surrounded by bodyguards sent by her doom-seer father. Willow soon realizes everyone has that same rash and bloody nose and eventually figures out that sentient sand people are giving everyone rashes and are by removing the sand from the village and dumping it in the ocean. This is dangerous as ultimately the village will sink under the sea. Everyone expects Willow to find a way to appease the sentient sand beings while also dealing with her psychopath who rationalizes what he does because his beloved Willow loves him.

The latest Willow Tate Visualizer island fantasy (see Lifeguards in the Hamptons and Night Mares in the Hamptons) is a fabulous island fantasy starring a brave heroine surrounded by individuals who can do the impossible, her beloved Matt the vet, and a sick stalker. Although over the top of Jayne's Hill, series fans will enjoy this entry as the sand witch developers ignore the environmental impact on lesser species like humans.

Harriet Klausner

Slow Apocalypse-John Varley

Slow Apocalypse

John Varley

Ace, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780441017577

Eddie Parker worked on bacteria that would clean up oil spills and from there he soon became part of the Prometheus Project to increase oil production via enhancing pressure. However, Eddie conceals his secret agenda to unleash a bacterium that solidifies Saudi Arabian oil for what the country’s terrorists did on 9/11. At the Ghawar oil reserve, Eddie releases his destruction. Eddie’s plan deploys perfectly except for one minor nuisance. The solidification fails to stop in the Arabian Peninsula as the bacteria goes internationally viral.

In Southern California, screenwriter Dave Marshall learns from a government insider friend that his script on oil actually is happening around the globe. As he prepares to keep his family safe from the worst that is coming, the world collapses into deadly local chaos.

This is an entertaining post-apocalyptic thriller in which the Marshall plan leads to a happy solution for him, his family and his friends as fans will appreciate how much oil is a cog in the modern world and not just as a fuel. However, with the focus on an affluent in the know protagonist, the pandemic impact of the vanished oil implosion on the unaware and less fortunate lacking resources is not explored as that would have proven much more exciting and enlightening. Still readers will enjoy John Varley’s take on life without oil to grease the world.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Out Of The Shadow-Jamie Winn

Out Of The Shadow

Jamie Winn

Amazon Digital Services, Inc., Jul 26 2012, $2.99


The masked intruder took thirteen minutes to rape Becca Rosen. As he leaves he tells her he will be back. Stunned Becca wonders why her husband David failed to intervene even if he was not a very attentive spouse. She quickly finds him stabbed to death. She tells the police she was raped by someone who seemed familiar to her but not sure why. As there is no medical evidence of a rape, the cops, also knowing of her mental history, logically assume she made up a sexual assault as her alibi to cover her murdering her spouse.

Becca wants to move on, but someone, she believes her rapist, stalks her with immunity as the law discounts her complaints. At the same, Becca begins to suffer from horrible dreams and horrific flashbacks to a childhood of abuse. She wonders if the murder, rape and other intrusions by her attacker are tied to the recalling of her terrible youth. Desperate as she fears for her mental state as much as for her physical, Becca turns to psychologist Dr. Sarah Abrams to help her with what appears to be a repressed memory syndrome.

Out Of The Shadow is an exciting character driven thriller as no one seems to be who they claim they are. The suspense grips the reader from the moment the psychopath not only rapes Becca, but chillingly warns her he will be back, which he does in person and behind the scenes. Fans will wonder who he is and why he awakens Becca’s repressed childhood memories.

Harriet Klausner

Widow’s Web-Jennifer Estep

Widow’s Web

Jennifer Estep

Pocket, Aug 21 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451651775

In Ashland, lovers Gin “Spider” Blanco and Owen Grayson look forward to a future together. However, Owen’s ex southern belle Salina Dubois arrives in Ashland planning to restore her murdered father’s heritage and take back her lover from his current lowlife lover. Gin, an Ice and Stone elemental former assassin, knows Salina is a powerful water elemental magnolia.

Casino owner Phillip Kincaid hires Gin’s Pork Pit restaurant to cater a party. At the gala, Gin prevents an assassin from killing Phillip though she wonders who is behind the murder attempt and why. Meanwhile Gin decides it is time to prove her rival for Owen’s affection is a deadly elemental who has diabolical plans for Ashland.

The latest excellent Elemental Assassin urban fantasy spins a different dangerous web from previous entries (see Spider’s Bite, Tangled Threads, Spider’s Revenge, and By A Thread) as Owen’s former lover provides the peril instead of someone from Spider’s hit list. Fast-paced, the past haunts the present and future for Gin and Owen who want to give peace a chance but no one agrees.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld- Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner

Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld

Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner

Tor, Aug 21 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765331007

All the spacefaring Known Space species covet the endless resources especially the technology of the Ringworld. However, to the shock of every one of the four rivals, Ringworld abruptly vanishes. Left behind are three hostile military fleets as war seems imminent between them even though the prize is gone.

Each species leaders are angry while their people rage over wasted deaths. Someone must pay for this affront with the craven Puppeteers as the obvious choice since they launched their entire Fleet of Worlds galactic empire to avoid a supernova core explosion over two centuries ago. Earthborn Louis Wu and Hindmost the exiled Puppeteer escaped from Ringworld just before the stunning disappearance. Hindmost covets regaining the power he lost when he was exiled while other Puppeteers likewise want control but most cowardly choose flight over fight.

This is not an easy read as the first part of the storyline parks at the “Strange” quark level with much of the early on being a rehash of minute particle data of what previously occurred. For die hard Ringworld fans only (see Destroyer of Worlds and Betrayer of Worlds), readers will wonder what happened to Ringworld?

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Key-Trish J. MacGregor

Ghost Key

Trish J. MacGregor

Tor, Aug 21 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765326034

High in the Andes in Esperanza, Ecuador, the two transitional half ghost souls of the nearly dead FBI Agent Tess Livingston and Minneapolis journalism professor Ian Ritter force Dominica the hungry ghost to leave her homeland (see Esperanza). Raging at what happened Dominica holds the half ghosts culpable though she knew better then to tangle with transitional souls. She escapes by using Tess’ niece Maddie as her host body.

She and her parasite followers reach Cedar Key, Florida where they begin using the locals as their uninvited hosts. Some residents like single mom and son Kate and Rocky Davis, and Fed psychic Nick Sanchez recognize the threat, but Dominica’s biggest concern comes from her one time lover, Wayra the were-dog whose greatest passion is his loathing of her.

Dominica’s return is an engaging Florida Key supernatural, but offers standard fare as all the horror elements have been used before especially the isolated town in books and movies. Entertaining as the good and evil battle for control of human bodies, fans who appreciate tales of hauntings will enjoy the Hungry Ghosts’ second act.

Harriet Klausner

Wards of Faerie- Terry Brooks

Wards of Faerie

Terry Brooks

Del Rey, Aug 21 2012, $28.00

ISBN 9780345523471

Aphenglow Elessedil the Druid finds an ancient journal documenting the theft of the magical Elfstones many centuries ago. She takes his discovery to his relative Khyber Elessedil. She organizes a team to locate and retrieve the elfstones.

At the same Federation Prime Minister Drust Chazhul wants to eradicate the Druids; as his enemy’s extinction would allow his scientific based people to rule the Four Lands. Khyber assigns Aphen to stay behind to protect the Druid city of Paranor, which is where Chazhul deploys his army to attack. Others are also interested in either possessing or concealing the elfstones.

Though the first Legacy of Shannara fantasy has the same overall déjà vu feel of many of the previous series novels and newcomers at a minimum need to read the previous trilogy (High Druid of Shannara), saga fans will enjoy the latest quest. Filled with action, readers will want to join Khyber on the search, root for Aphen and boo the intolerant Chazhul.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden Things- Doyce Testerman

Hidden Things

Doyce Testerman

Harper Voyager, Aug 21 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780062108111

At two in the morning, Josh White calls his sleeping private investigator partner and former lover Calliope Jenkins to ask her to tell his wife Laurel what is going on. After hanging up, the clawed thing tells Josh he is home before killing him. Her live-in lover is irate over the call; Calliope apologizes before telling him to move out.

Police Detective Darryl Johnson and Federal Special Agent Walker question Calliope after informing her that the body of Josh was found just outside Harper’s Ferry, Iowa. On her answering machine is a static call from Josh time stamped two hours after he died. Calliope looks over Josh’s files before heading to Iowa, but ends up in the Hidden Lands.

This is an exciting noir urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine who seeks answers only to find more questions as she investigates the murder of her friend. Vikous her guide and mentor brings an aura of mystery to this enjoyable whodunit as the clues are not what they first seem. Though the amusing teasing between the protagonist and her companion can become distracting, readers will enjoy visiting the Hidden Land.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Supernatural: Rite of Passage-John Passarella

Supernatural: Rite of Passage

John Passarella

Titan Books, Aug 14 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781781161111

Tora arrives just after a violent thunderstorm hits Laurel Hill, New Jersey. Wearing a bowel hat and carrying a cane, he begins his carnage with three diligent experienced roofers falling to their deaths. He follows that up with a man on a ladder cutting his artery and three veteran parachute divers splatting the ground. Soon major deadly accidents come next.

Supernatural Hunters Bobby Singer and Sam and Dean Winchester are in Upstate New York taking out the three deadly Yerakides Harpies sisters. Following that mission, they head to Laurel Hill to deal with a paranormal psychopath. They inform the police that the recent deadly accidents and explosions are caused by amoral thieves planning a major series of robberies. However, as they work the case, the trio realizes they are not dealing with the Avengers’ Steed, but with a powerful Japanese demon who thrives on lethal emotional chaos.

The latest super Supernatural adaptation (see Fresh Meat) occurs between TV Season 7, “Time for a Wedding” and “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters”. The storyline is fast-paced even before the three hunters arrive to challenge Tora as the harpies’ segue is exciting though Lucifer’s appearances are becoming weary. Tora with his demonic pleasure in what he has wrought while having a diabolical outcome in mind brings a fresh evil to John Passarella’s strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

When Diplomacy Fails-Michael Z. Williamson

When Diplomacy Fails

Michael Z. Williamson

Baen, Aug 7 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781451637908

Ripple Creek Security assigns their best personal protection team to guard a client disliked by everyone in the firm. World Bureau of State Minister Joy Herman Highland is running for office while her bureaucratic obnoxious past has made her several enemies including people who worked for her. Still Alex Marlow and the team will do what it takes to keep Highland safe in spite of her campaign publically announcing everything in advance.

Highland’s supporters fake an attack, which angers Ripple Creek. However, Highland’s recent history comes home to roost when a real assaults occur. The security team protects the client from several shadowy adversaries who do not appear to be working as a cohesive team and some of the foes actually may be working for Highland.

The latest Freehold prequel (see Better to Beg Forgiveness and Do Unto Others) is an enjoyable political techno thriller that pulls no punches when it comes to the most dangerous species in history: politician sapiens. The storyline is fast-paced as the Ripple Creek unit tell the adventures in a sarcastic manner when it comes to Highland and her assistant while enjoying taking the fight to their client’s myriad of enemies (though they admit to each other they would like to place an explosive up Highland’s butt). Though there is a déjà vu feel to the tale, this is a fabulous timely entry as the politician sapiens will do anything to win an election.

Harriet Klausner

Ice And Shadow-Andre Norton

Ice And Shadow

Andre Norton

Baen, Aug 7 2012, $12.00

ISBN: 9781451637915

Ice Crown. The archeologists arrive at planet Clio searching for Forerunner ruins. The outsiders have been briefed about no involvement with the feudal natives. One of the off-worlders Roane takes shelter in an abandoned tower from a violent storm. Also waiting out the torrent in the tower are native armed men and a tied up battered female. Unable to remain aloof, Roane intervenes by freeing local Princess Ludorica. They escape together as Roane pretends she is a native, but soon helps the woman find the lost Ice Crown left behind by the ancient "Guardians" to enable the royals to rule.

Brother to Shadows. On the planet of Asborgan, The Shagga Priest expels Jofre from the brotherhood of assassins. He arrives at slummy Stinkhole where he rescues Zurzal the reptilian alien from muggers. Zurzal hires Jofre as his bodyguard while he searches for the several eons old ruins from the first galactic colonization. Others want the relics and try to kill the alien and his personal protector while the priest sends assassins to kill Jofre.

These are reprints of two entertaining Andre Morton “Forerunner” science fiction thrillers though neither is among the super saga’s elite as both contain muddled plots.

Harriet Klausner

Lord of the Mountains-S. M. Stirling

Lord of the Mountains

S. M. Stirling

Roc, Sep 4 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780451464767

In Change Year 25/2023 AD, the war over control of what was the western United States between Montival and their allies like Clan Mackenzie and the Bearkillers against the Church Universal and Triumphant and its ally the United States of Boise continues. Recently Montival has won several battles. However, Montival High King Artos I (formerly Rudi Mackenize) possessing his Sword of the Lady and his Queen Mathilda (Arminger) know many more will die before peace can be achieved.

Directed by the Prophet, the amoral President of the United States of Boise attacks the forces of Montival and its allies. In turn Rudi deploys operational countermeasures to prevent a major breakthrough by the enemy.

The latest exciting next generation Change entry (see The Sword of the Lady and Tears of the Sun) goes deeper into a military fantasy as much of the storyline focuses on modern day troop deployment in a pre-technological world. The storyline is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down with an emphasis on the importance of tactical and symbolic leadership as the keys to the victors of this battle (though a glossary of the diverse groups and key players would help). Fans of the saga will appreciate this strong tale as the overarching theme moves forward while the loss of Rudi’s longest running ally will be felt by all.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker-Adam-Troy Castro and Kristen Margiotta (illustrator)

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker

Adam-Troy Castro and Kristen Margiotta (illustrator)

Grosset & Dunlap, Aug 16 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780448458335

The neighbors on Sunnyside Terrace demand the city do something about the eye-sore Gloom House and its five year old resident Gustav Gloom. The Mayor’s office sends Mr. Notes who asks Gustav if his parents are home; Gustav says he does not know as he does not know where their home is only they are not here on Sunnyside Terrace. After debating rudeness, seventeen minutes later Mr. Notes flees Gloom House.

Five years later, Gustav watches the What family move into the house next door. A shape tells him the younger of two daughters, ten year old Fermie What likes spooky tales. Worried about both girls but especially Fermie, Gustav plans to warn her. When Fermie watches her cat’s apparent shadow pursue her cat she follows it into Gloom house. There she finds an enigmatic world in which books exist that have not been written yet and shadows, including her own, dine at a feast. The People Taker plans to abduct Fermie and her family and take them to the Shadow Country; only she and her new BFF Gustav Gloom can prevent this calamity.

This is a great tweener horror thriller starring two delightful ten year old children and a strong support cast including shadows like that of Mr. Notes and the vile People Taker. Adam-Troy Castro’s exciting tale is enhanced by Kristen Margiotta’s wonderful illustrations that affirm Gustav Gloom looks like the unhappiest child ever seen.

Harriet Klausner

The Treachery of Beautiful Things-Ruth Long

The Treachery of Beautiful Things

Ruth Long

Dial, Aug 16 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780803735804

Siblings Jenny and Tom were walking past some small trees at the edge of woods while he played his flute. She is horrified when the trees grab Tom. Over the next seven years her family takes Jenny to see psychiatrist though the nightmares never abate.

Now seventeen and filled with survivor guilt as well as knowing the trees abducted her brother, Jenny finally returns to the scene of the kidnapping where she hears Tom’s flute playing. Following the tune, Jenny bravely enters the Realm of the diverse fae. Frightened but intrepid Jenny stumbles on her quest to bring home Tom. When she meets Jack a broken Fae who warns her to keep her distance, she cannot as she knows Jack would never harm her. Jack and Jenny team up to rescue Tom in a Realm in which betrayal is the norm.

This is an engaging tweener-young teen quest fantasy starring a wonderful courageous but scared heroine and the Fae who has her back (maybe as this Realm is known for The Treachery of Beautiful Things). Written as a series of superb short adventures with Jenny jumping from one fire to another against ruthless enemies, readers will enjoy this entertaining thriller though it never quite feels like a long novel.

Harriet Klausner

Devil’s Gate-F.J. Lennon

Devil’s Gate

F.J. Lennon

Atria, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781439186602

Kane Pryce burned out after years exorcising spirits though he is only twenty-eight years old. Suffering from PTSD, Kane left his day job as a paranormal Soul Trapper to focus on music as a band guitarist.

Although he vowed to never use his late dad’s soul trap to enable spirits to leave earth (willingly or not), Kane realizes that something malevolent entices people to commit kill themselves at Pasadena’s Suicide Bridge; these unfortunates remain trapped underneath the edifice. Reluctantly he decides to liberate the captive souls. However, to achieve his lofty objective, Kane must first learn what incarcerates them at the Devil’s Gate before he goes after the evil with the Soul Trap.

The second Kane Pryce paranormal thriller is an exhilarating urban fantasy starring an anti-Ghostbusters reluctant hero. Ironically his walk on the wild side of Hollywood music and even crazier trysts seem as dangerous to Kane (self-inflicted) as the wicked monster who haunts Suicide Bridge. Readers will appreciate his latest battle with supernatural and natural psychopaths.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road

Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road

Annie Wilder (editor)

Tor, Aug 7 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780765330352

This is a fun collection (unless you are the authors) of short shorts written by people who insist they met unnatural phenomena while on the road. The true encounters are divided into four chapters: Just Plain Weird, Messages and Assistance from the Spirit World, Haunted Highways: Legends and Lore of the Road, and Time Slips. In some cases, the entry reads like a campfire ghost story and in others like the driver entered the “Turnpike to the Twilight Zone” as R. Dustin Mercer discusses about a trip in the Pittsburgh area he has done many times but this time is eerily different. The first entry George Stern, Jr. “Demon In Texas” sets the tone as no one will sleep near an Indian burial ground. Matt McFadden’s firsthand account of the “Girl in the Window” staring at him as he drives. Stacy Eldrige discusses Uncle Jim’s “Uninvited Passenger” who faded into thin air. When Lee Honawu was fourteen he drove his grandma’s truck with his younger brother as a passenger only they saw a “Skinwalker in Arizona.” If you are looking for tight editing and perfect grammar you need take a detour away from this anthology; as a major part of what makes these stories fascinating are the observers’ writings on roads like “Old Highway 666 in New Mexico” by Susan Miller and “Ghost Rider on Highway 666” by Carl Smith.

Harriet Klausner